“I think I’ll just grab Marcy and get out of here.”
“And I’ll get back to Harper.” Daniel took a deep breath and headed back over to his girlfriend.
Marcy was still standing near the appetizer table, talking with Kirby. He was smiling, so it couldn’t be going that bad.
“How do you feel about turtles?” Marcy was asking Kirby when Gemma walked over, and she was really sorry that she hadn’t heard the beginning of the conversation.
“Like the reptile?” Kirby asked.
“You know they are reptiles.” Marcy nodded her approval. “That’s good. Some people think they’re amphibians.”
“Who thinks that?” Kirby arched his eyebrows in confusion.
“Too many people,” Marcy replied wearily.
“Hey, Marce, sorry to interrupt, but I think we’re heading out now if you wanted to join us,” Gemma said.
“Oh, cool,” Marcy said. “I guess we’re heading out then.”
“Okay,” Kirby said, but when Marcy started to walk away, he stopped her. “Um, did you want to exchange numbers, then? So we could watch the Finding Bigfoot marathon together?”
“Yeah, yeah.” Marcy smiled and pulled out her phone. “That’d be great.” They exchanged numbers, with Kirby fumbling a bit as he tried to type it into his phone.
“Wow. I’m impressed,” Gemma said as they walked away.
“Why?” Marcy asked.
“You got his number and made a date.”
“What can I say? I’ve got mad game,” Marcy said.
Brian dropped a pancake onto Harper’s plate, and she mumbled an offhanded thanks. While she appreciated his making her breakfast, her attention was focused on Thalia’s journal.
After they’d come home from the party last night, both Gemma and Harper had gone through it. They’d taken turns reading it aloud, with Harper lying in her bed and Gemma sitting in the old recliner in Harper’s room.
Lying down had been a bad idea, but they’d made it almost halfway through before Harper had fallen asleep. She’d been so worn-out from trying to catch up on her schoolwork that she’d barely made it past midnight.
Gemma, meanwhile, appeared to have stayed up most of the night. When Harper awoke in the morning, Gemma was passed out in the chair, with Thalia’s journal lying open on her chest, opened to a page very close to the end.
Harper was careful not to wake Gemma when she took the journal from her, then covered her up with a blanket before coming downstairs for breakfast. Now Harper was rushing to read through it and catch up to where her sister had left off.
“Is there anything useful in there?” Brian asked, sitting down at the kitchen table across from Harper.
“What?” Harper lifted her head to look at him.
“Is there anything that might help you?” Brian pointed to the journal.
“I don’t know.” Harper leaned back in her chair. “I think so, but it’s complicated.”
“Was she really a muse?” Brian asked.
“Yes, she was. She was the very last one,” Harper said. “She’d been living underground, in hiding, because something was coming after the muses and killing them. She doesn’t say what, but based on what I know now, I think it might have been the sirens.”
“The sirens want to kill everything, so that makes sense, but what do you mean? Based on what you know now?” Brian asked.
“It’s how she describes them.” She flipped back a few pages. It was toward the end of the book when Thalia seemed to grow more afraid, writing more about what was after her and what it meant.
“Beware of the songs,” Harper read aloud. “I tell my love that nightly, reminding Bernard that he can never trust the charms of those that come from the sea. Their songs will enchant him, but he mustn’t let them. If they come for me, I won’t be able to protect him, not like I once did. Now that I’m mortal, I can fall for their songs as easily as he, so I must ready him for their poison.”
“He’d say things like that. ‘Beware of the songs.’ I wish I’d paid more attention to Bernie’s stories.” Brian shook his head sadly. “But I just thought they were stories. I didn’t put much stock in them.”
“What did he tell you?” Harper leaned forward and rested her arms on the table.
“I’ve already told you as much as I can remember.” Brian pushed his pancakes around in syrup, but he didn’t seem to be in a hurry to take a bite. “When he had a few drinks, Bernie would tell me to watch for sirens. He said that his wife wasn’t afraid of anything, but she was afraid of them.”
He set down his fork and stared off. His brow furrowed as he tried to remember more about Bernie’s stories.
“He said he knew they would come eventually,” Brian said at length. “He told me to beware of their songs.” He shook his head. “No, that wasn’t it. It was … ‘Beware the ones that sing, for their songs are poison…’ Or something like that.”
“Did he talk about it often?” Harper asked.
“No. Actually, he only mentioned it a few times when we were at the bar, and even then, it was only a sentence or two in passing. Usually just a drunken warning about being wary of the singing temptress.
“There was one time, though,” Brian went on. “Me and your mom went out with Bernie, for his birthday or New Year’s or something. You and Gemma were really young at the time. In fact, I think Nathalie was still breast-feeding, so she wasn’t drinking.
“Bernie really got to talking about Thalia and the sirens and muses and nymphs, because your mom kept asking him about it. She was really interested in that kind of thing. But I wasn’t paying that much attention, and I was drinking, and I don’t remember much about it anymore.” Brian lowered his eyes. “But your mom, she would know … if she could still remember anything.”
“Did he actually call them sirens?” Harper asked, eager to pull her dad’s thoughts away from her mom. Thinking about Nathalie only ever made him sad.
“Yeah, he did.” Brian nodded. “Usually, he’d call them temptresses or vixens or harlots, but he did use the word ‘sirens.’ But the only thing I really remember him saying was that they sing, they were beautiful, and they were deadly.”
“He didn’t tell you how to handle them or anything?” Harper asked.