It was too dark to search properly in the closet, so she went into the bedroom. She moved over to the bedside table and began rooting around the drawer, hoping for a sign of the scroll, but she would’ve settled for a flashlight at that point.
A loud crash against the skylights startled Gemma so much she nearly screamed. She looked up to the windows and saw that the rain had finally started, coming down in torrential sheets. It pounded against the glass and roof, the sound echoing through the room.
She was about to recommence her search when she heard a clatter downstairs. She stayed where she was, listening carefully, but it was hard to hear clearly over the rain. Then she heard a bang, and this time she was certain that it hadn’t been the storm.
The doorbell hadn’t rung, but Gemma realized belatedly that the power was out. If it was a wired doorbell, that meant there would be no sound. Walking quietly and slowly, Gemma went toward the railing at the edge of the loft.
It wasn’t until she’d made it all the way to the edge and looked straight down that she saw what had made the noise.
Lexi stood staring up at Gemma. Her long blond hair was dripping water in a small puddle at her feet, and she wore a bikini. She was completely in human form, save for one finger on her right hand. Her aqua eyes sparkled in the dim light, and her smile was happy and playful, without a hint of malice, which made it all the more creepy.
Her left hand was gripping hard on Marcy’s ponytail, yanking her head back sharply. Marcy’s glasses were smashed on the floor, next to the pool of water from Lexi’s hair. A cut ran across her eyebrow, with blood trickling down her temple, and Marcy’s eyes were wide with fear.
She didn’t move or scream, and Gemma instantly saw why. Lexi’s otherwise humanoid hand had one longer finger with a razor-sharp talon at the end, poking right into Marcy’s jugular. If she moved or even yelled, it would slice right through her neck.
“Hello, Gemma,” Lexi said sweetly in her singsong voice. “I know you were playing hide-and-seek, but I have a better game. Why don’t you come down, and I’ll show you how to play?”
Liv had shown Harper where all her classes were, as per Harper’s class schedule. Liv was from a neighboring town in Delaware, but she’d moved into the dorm a week ago. The extra time, as well as orientation, had really given Liv a good idea of where everything was and how the college worked.
While Liv was incredibly helpful and nice, there was something almost too nice about her. If Harper told a joke, no matter how lame it was, Liv laughed really hard at it. She also told Harper she was pretty and smart about a hundred times.
The other weird part was that Liv kept making vague references to these “super adorbs” new friends she’d made. It was like she was trying to impress Harper, but whenever Harper tried to ask more questions about them, Liv completely shut down and changed the subject.
Still, Liv had been good for distracting her, and Harper had managed to avoid calling Gemma or Daniel a million times. Though she did text them a few times to make sure everything was okay, and they both claimed it was.
Even though Liv had taken the time to point out every one of her classrooms, Harper was so preoccupied that she forgot everything Liv had shown her. She was late for her first two classes, and the only reason she was on time for her third one was because it was with Liv, and she physically led her to the classroom.
They sat next to each other, and when the teacher passed out the class syllabus, Harper was both relieved and surprised to see that she’d actually read some of the texts in high school. The day was starting to take a turn for the better when Harper started feeling a weird pain in her chest.
She took a deep breath, hoping that would ease it somehow, but the pain only intensified. Her chest tightened, and nausea washed over her. Then the terror hit her. It was intense and unrelenting, and adrenaline surged through her.
Other people would’ve thought they were having a panic attack, and that was probably what a doctor would’ve diagnosed. But this was different. As soon as the fear hit her and a shooting pain stabbed through her stomach, Harper knew what it was.
“Gemma,” she whispered.
“Harper?” Liv asked, leaning in closer to her. “Are you okay? You don’t look so good.”
“No, I gotta…” She took a deep breath. “I gotta go.”
She stood up quickly, knocking her books to the floor with a loud clatter. Everyone turned to look at her, and she just mumbled an apology as she scrambled to pick up her things. The teacher asked if everything was okay, but she didn’t answer.
Harper rushed out of the classroom as fast as her legs could carry her. In the hall, she had to stop and lean against the wall for support. The terror and pain were too strong, and it almost brought her to her knees.
“Harper?” Liv asked. She’d followed her out of the classroom and went over to see if she was all right. “What’s the matter?”
“I need to get to my car,” Harper said. “I have to go home.”
“I don’t think you’re in any shape to drive,” Liv said.
“Please.” She looked up at her, imploring her. “Help me to my car. I have to get home. Now.”
“Okay.” Liv nodded, then looped her arm around Harper’s waist to help steady her.
As they walked, Harper reached into her pocket and dug out her phone. Gemma’s name was first in her contacts, and she hit call. The phone rang and rang, but Harper only got her voice mail.