“Sorry, but I have to clean it out,” Harper said. “You have no idea where Lexi’s mouth has been.”
“I know. The alcohol just stung a little.”
“Most of these holes go straight through.” She tilted his arm to get a better look. “You really should go to the doctor.”
“I’ll be okay.”
She gave him a stern look. “Daniel.”
He tried to match her seriousness but smirked a little. “Harper.”
She rolled her eyes and went back to washing off his arm with an alcohol-soaked paper towel. “You’re covered in drying mud, and your clothes are wet. You really should shower and get into something dry.”
He watched her cleaning his arm, grimacing when she poked at a hole. “Are you going back to school tonight?”
“No. After tonight, I don’t know if I’m ever going back.”
“Harper.” He pulled his arm back from her so she’d look up at him. “The one thing we proved tonight is that we can handle things without you.”
“Look at you, Daniel!” She gestured to his bloody, ripped-up shirt. “You’re all torn up, and you almost died!”
“But I didn’t,” he said reasonably. “I’m fine, Gemma’s fine. We survived.”
Harper scoffed. “Barely.”
“Things will be calmer for a while.”
“How do you figure?” she asked skeptically.
“With Lexi dead, I think things will be quiet.”
“You’re sure she’s dead?” Harper asked.
“Lexi? Yeah.” He nodded. “She’s dead.”
“Why did she do it? Why did Penn kill Lexi to save you?” Harper stared at him, studying his response.
Daniel lowered his eyes. “I don’t know.”
“Is there something you’re not telling me?” Harper asked, and she had the strange feeling she’d had before, that Daniel was pulling away and keeping something from her.
He seemed to hesitate before answering, “No.”
“Daniel.” She stepped closer to him and put her hand gently on his chest, the fabric of his shirt damp against her skin. “If there’s something going on, I should know about it. Whatever it is, you can tell me. We’re in this together.”
“I know.” He smiled at her, but there was something in his eyes, something dark he was trying to mask. “And I’d tell you.”
“Good,” Harper said, not knowing how else to push the issue. If he insisted that nothing else was wrong, she had to trust him. She cared about him, and he’d never given her any reason to doubt him. “I do love you.”
He leaned in, kissing her gently on the mouth, and then smiled at her. “I know.”
The front door banged open, and she heard Brian’s heavy work boots thud on the floor as he took them off. She glanced over at the microwave to see that it was after four, meaning that he was home from work for the day.
“Oh, shit. My dad’s here,” Harper said, realizing that she had no idea how to explain the situation to him.
She had pulled away from Daniel by the time her father was standing in the kitchen doorway. His hair and coveralls were wet from the storm, and he did not look happy to see them.
“Hey, Dad,” Harper said as cheerfully as she could.
“Hello, Mr. Fisher,” Daniel said. He’d straightened up and tried to look presentable.
“What’s going on here? Was there an accident?” Brian asked, eyeing Daniel.
“Uh, yeah. Kinda,” Harper said. “Daniel’s just having some troubles.”
“What are you doing home?” Brian turned his attention to her. “Shouldn’t you be at school?”
“Yeah, I just…” She rubbed the back of her neck. “Daniel called and let me know about the accident, so I thought I’d come and … help.”
“Accident?” Brian stepped farther into the kitchen so he could get a better look at Daniel. “What kind of accident leaves holes in your arms?”
“It’s kind of a long story, Mr. Fisher,” Daniel said.
Brian crossed his arms over his chest. “You’re getting stitched up in my kitchen. It seems like you have time.”
“That’s fair.” Daniel floundered for a second, then turned to Harper. “Um, Harper, do you want to explain to your dad what happened? You’re so much more eloquent than I am.”
She smiled thinly at him, then started with, “Well, Daniel was … he was out on his island and…”
“You know that I know this is clearly bullshit, right?” Brian asked. “You’re not even trying to cover it up.”
“Dad, some things are…” She sighed. “I don’t need to tell you everything.”
“When you’re in my house, you do,” Brian countered.
“I’m not sixteen, Dad.” Harper crossed her arms over her chest and tried to appear defiant. “And I don’t even technically live here anymore.”
“Technically, yeah, you do,” Brian said. “Harper, cut the crap. There has been something going on for a long time now. Not just this but with your sister and Alex. Something is happening, and it’s about damn time somebody tells me what’s really going on.”
“Dad…” Harper trailed off, trying to think of a way to explain this to her dad that didn’t sound totally insane.