“Why would they be looking for a muse?” Harper asked.
“Muses keep secrets. Their lovers were gods and immortals, and they would divulge all their hidden truths. A muse might know where Demeter is, or Achelous, or how to break a curse, or any of a million other things the sirens might want to know.”
“You think a muse would know how to break the curse?” Harper asked.
“Possibly.” Lydia wagged her head from side to side, like she was skeptical. “But we’ll never know. When the last muse died, she took all her secrets with her.”
“Why would the sirens come to Capri for a dead muse?” Marcy asked.
“They didn’t know she was dead,” Lydia said. “It takes a while for news to travel in supernatural circles. It’s not like they can post things on Twitter. And Thalia was the last one, so they’d—”
“What? Thalia?” Harper cut her off. “The last muse’s name was Thalia?”
“Yes, she was the muse of comedy,” Lydia said, looking confused by Harper’s reaction.
Harper had read about the muses a hundred times, but somehow, all their names had become a blur in her mind. She hadn’t been focusing on the ones who weren’t related to the sirens, so she’d almost completely overlooked Thalia.
But it had stayed somewhere in the back of her mind. That’s why the name sounded so familiar when she was looking at pictures of Bernie’s wedding. And now it all came together.
“Bernie’s wife was named Thalia,” Harper said, speaking rapidly. “She died in 1961 or ’62. That’s like fifty years ago.”
“You’re talking about Bernie of Bernie’s Island fame?” Marcy asked. “That could just be a coincidence, Harper.”
“It could be, but…” Harper shook her head, thinking of what Professor Pine had said yesterday about things being too coincidental. “It’s not. Bernie always used to say that his wife inspired him to build that cabin for her. I think he even referred to her as his muse before, but I just didn’t put it together until now.”
“How did Thalia the muse die?” Marcy asked.
“I’m not completely sure,” Lydia said. “She was mortal, and it was natural causes.”
“That’s Thalia McAllister!” Harper persisted. “She died falling off a ladder after she’d married Bernie. She probably became mortal for him.”
“Muses have done that,” Lydia said. “Fall in love, get married, become mortal, then die. That’s part of the reason why there aren’t any left.”
“She might have known how to break the curse?” Harper asked, the excitement making her voice high.
“She might have, yes. But that won’t really help now,” Lydia told her sadly.
“Daniel found a bunch of papers and old photographs in Bernie’s house. Bernie had hidden them up in the attic. He didn’t want people to find them. Dad said that Bernie had told him that eventually someone would come looking for him, probably sirens. Dad just thought Bernie was being superstitious and paranoid, but he was right.”
“The destruction of a curse isn’t the kind of thing Thalia would’ve written down, and she wouldn’t have had to,” Lydia explained. “A muse’s memory is practically eidetic.”
“But this is it,” Harper insisted, and got up. “This could be our chance. I have to get home to look through Bernie’s stuff.”
“No, you have to go to your study group.” Marcy tried to stand up, but it was more of a struggle since she was wedged into the dragon chair. Harper took her hand and helped pull her to her feet. “I can go to your house, and me, Gemma, and your dad can go through Bernie’s stuff. If it’s in there, we’ll find it.”
“Fine,” Harper agreed grudgingly. “I trust you. But you have to call me the second you find anything.”
“Harper, I wouldn’t get your hopes too high.” Lydia stood up and looked at Harper gravely. “There might be something useful in her papers, but it’s very unlikely that she’ll have the instructions on how to break something that I’m not even sure can be broken.”
“We have to try, though,” Harper said. “Thank you for everything, Lydia.”
She practically ran out of the shop, and Marcy struggled to keep up with her since Marcy was completely opposed to jogging. As they walked down to the car, Harper slowed enough for Marcy to keep up.
“Oh, my god,” Marcy said. “It’s like Christmas morning.”
“It’s better than Christmas!” Harper shouted, unable to stop herself. “We could be free of those psychotic witches once and for all. Wouldn’t that be amazing?”
“Yeah, it certainly would,” Marcy agreed.
“This might really be it, Marcy.”
Marcy sighed. “It might be, but it’s probably not that simple.”
“Well, this clearly isn’t working,” Marcy said, as Daniel dangled his legs through the hole in his ceiling.
He’d been crawling around in the narrow attic above his house. The only way in or out of the attic was through a square doorway in the ceiling above his closet, and he slid through it before dropping to the ground.
“Sorry, Gemma,” Daniel said as he brushed dust and cobwebs off his clothes. “There’s nothing up there but mouse poop and a skeleton from a bat, which was actually pretty creepy.”
“Nice,” Marcy said, nodding in approval.
Gemma leaned past Daniel and peered up into the darkness, as if she’d be able to spy something that he hadn’t been able to see with a flashlight.
The whole time Daniel had been searching his attic, Marcy had been sitting on his queen-sized bed. While he was out of sight, she’d taken the liberty of going through his nightstand drawers. Now that he was back, she was absently leafing through the worn copy of The Old Man and the Sea he had on his nightstand.
“Have you even read this?” Marcy asked Daniel, and gestured to the book. “I bet you haven’t even read it. I bet you put it on the nightstand so people would think you’re smart. Do you think Hemingway impresses Harper?”
“No, I think that was my grandfather’s book, and I have read it,” Daniel said. “Twice.”
“I have 101 Ways to Live Longer on my nightstand, so if I die in my sleep, when the paramedics or mortician or whoever come in, they’ll see it, and be all, ‘Well, I guess that book didn’t work,’ and they’ll have a good laugh,” Marcy said. “It’s important to laugh in times like that.”