The mayor looped one arm around Aiden’s shoulders and his other arm around Thea’s waist as he continued, “Not to mention that At Summer’s End is kicking off. Tomorrow, in addition to more performances of the play, there’s a fish fry at noon at the Bayside Park Pavilion and a regatta at Anthemusa Bay at four.”
He continued to list all the events going on this week, trying to get everyone pumped up for the At Summer’s End Festival. As he talked, Gemma kept her eyes on Penn and Liv. Penn was doing something on her phone, and Liv stared up at the stage with rapt interest. Her lips were pulled back in a wide smile, and as Gemma watched, her teeth lengthened and grew.
At first, Gemma thought Liv’s gaze was fixed on the mayor, which seemed kinda gross to her. But as soon as the mayor had finished, and the music came back on the speakers, Liv rushed toward Aiden.
Seeing her fangs out, Gemma feared the worst—that Liv’s new siren appetite had gotten the best of her, and she was about to devour Aiden right in front of everyone.
Gemma was just about to dive between them to stop that from happening, but a split second before she did, she saw that Liv’s teeth were back to normal. When she smiled up at Aiden as she put her hand on his arm, she looked human.
Even with his new scars, Aiden was still gorgeous. Not to mention that he was the son of the most powerful family in Capri. And he didn’t seem to mind being cornered. Liv had a siren’s charms now, and he smiled radiantly at her as she laughed and batted her eyes. Maybe it was her appetite for affection and power that needed to be whetted.
At least for now. Gemma knew exactly the kind of monstrous hunger that lurked just beneath the surface, and Liv didn’t seem like the type to go long without being satiated.
“This is some party, huh?” Thea asked as she climbed off the platform, and Gemma turned away from Liv and Aiden to look back at her.
“Yeah, it’s something, all right.” Gemma walked a few feet away to where it was less crowded, then stopped with Thea to talk. “So are you bringing Liv with you everywhere now?”
“It seems that way.” Thea sighed.
“You don’t trust her enough to leave her by herself?”
Thea gave her a sidelong glance. “You know how new sirens are.”
“I do.” Gemma turned to face Thea fully and crossed her arms over her chest. “Which is why I don’t understand why she was Harper’s roommate.”
“That was Penn’s idea.”
“So Liv was supposed to be some kind of spy?” Gemma pressed.
“Not originally.” Thea ran a hand through her long, scarlet hair and refused to meet Gemma’s eyes. “Before Penn killed Lexi, Liv was supposed to be your replacement. But after Lexi died and you were still part of the circle, Penn thought it’d be good to have someone on the inside gathering dirt on you.”
“And you didn’t think that was a bad idea?” Gemma asked, then lowered her voice, trying to make it sound slightly menacing. “I mean, she could gather some dirt on you, too.”
Thea finally let her eyes meet Gemma’s. “What was I supposed to tell her? ‘No, you can’t spy on Harper because you’ll find out my dirty secrets’?” She shook her head. “I just went with it and hoped the two of you weren’t stupid enough to say anything in front of Liv.”
“Why wouldn’t you just tell me about this?” Gemma asked.
“Penn didn’t want me to, and I’m already putting myself at enough risk helping you, all right?” A flicker of fear shot through Thea’s emerald eyes. “I’ve put my neck out for you much farther than I ever should have, and if this all goes to hell—which I’m certain it will—I need to have my back covered.”
“You don’t think I can break the curse?” Gemma asked.
Thea looked over to where Penn was still busy on her phone, too distracted and too far away to hear anything they were saying. “As far as I know, the curse is unbreakable.”
“Then why’d you even bother to give me the scroll?” Gemma asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“Honestly? I don’t know. I think I was just sick of Penn destroying everything.”
“Do you regret giving it to me?” Gemma asked.
“Not yet.” Thea paused, then said, “If I live long enough, I might. But soon, it’ll be a moot point.”
“What do you mean?”
“If that curse isn’t broken soon, Liv will destroy us all. But either way, there aren’t going to be any sirens around for much longer.” Her lips pursed together in a thin smile.
Marcy had been standing on the other side of the room, but she’d refilled her plate with shrimp and made her way over to where Thea and Gemma were talking.
“What are you guys talking about?” Marcy asked through a mouthful of food.
“How much fun this is!” Thea said with far too much exuberance. Then she rolled her eyes and walked away.
Marcy wiped her mouth on the back of her arm. “What was that about?”
“I don’t know.” Gemma shook her head and sighed. “Everything just kind of sucks right now. And Liv is horrible.”
“Duh. She’s an evil, murderous sea wench. If she isn’t being horrible, then she isn’t doing her job.”
Gemma knew she was right, and that was the worst part of it.
“So anyway, who’s that foxy guy?” Marcy asked and pointed vaguely to the middle of the room.
“What guy?” Gemma asked, glancing in the general direction that Marcy had pointed. “Aiden?”
Marcy scoffed. “No, that guy’s a dick. That cute one with the nice butt.” She pointed again, and this time it was directly at Kirby Logan. He was at the appetizer table, and he sniffed a cracker before putting it back down.
“Kirby?” Gemma asked.
Marcy nodded. “Yeah, him.”
“You’re into Kirby?”
“No. Maybe. Why? What’s it to you?” Marcy narrowed her eyes at Gemma.
Kirby was cute, so that’s not what surprised her about Marcy’s liking him. It was mostly just the fact that Marcy liked anybody that shocked her. Plus, he was only nineteen, and Marcy was twenty-five. Not that she acted like it.
“Nothing,” Gemma said. “He’s just like a lot younger than you.”
“So? I’ve always fancied myself a cougar,” Marcy declared. “Is he nice?”