Brian chewed the inside of his cheek, thinking. “No, he just told me to avoid them.”
“But you said he knew they were coming for him. Why did he think that?”
“I’m guessing it’s because of that book right there.” Brian pointed to the journal lying on the table. “But he didn’t really specify. He implied that it had something to do with his wife.”
“They didn’t kill Thalia, right?” Harper asked.
She’d read in a newspaper clipping that Thalia had fallen off a ladder and died, and earlier, Lydia had confirmed that she’d died of natural causes. But Harper just wanted to be sure that Bernie didn’t suspect foul play. If he had, and he was afraid of the sirens, he might have covered it up.
“No, no, I don’t think so,” Brian said. “Bernie talked to me in depth about her death after your mom got hurt since Thalia had an accident, too. He blamed himself for it because he wasn’t there when she fell. He really loved her.”
“And she really loved him.” Harper stared down at the pages, covered in Thalia’s delicate handwriting and lovely scrawls. “Their story would be romantic if it weren’t so tragic.”
“They met in England in 1960 and instantly fell in love. Thalia goes on for pages and pages about how much she loved him and describes every intricate detail of their first meetings.” Harper flipped through the pages to demonstrate. Portions of the journal were nothing more than sonnets, all dedicated to Bernard. “I think some of it might help Gemma, but I’m not sure if it will help break the curse.”
Her dad tilted his head. “What do you mean?”
“When Thalia met Bernie, she was a muse, but he fell in love with her, deeply and passionately, and it wasn’t because of her supernatural abilities. He really loved her for her.”
“How does that relate to Gemma?”
“Well, her and Alex,” Harper explained, and Brian’s mouth turned down in a deep scowl. “Dad, I know this is tough for you. But she really loves him, and I think he really loves her.”
“Then why haven’t I seen him around lately?” Brian asked.
When Harper and Gemma had told their dad about everything, Gemma had glossed over the part where she had used a siren song on Alex. It wasn’t that she was trying to keep it from him, but it was still painful for her to talk about. She’d rather leave it unsaid.
“Things are complicated between the two of them,” Harper said, brushing over it for Gemma’s sake. “But Thalia offers a glimmer of hope.” She flipped through the journal, looking for the right page. Then she found it, near the front, right after the passage where Bernie asked her to marry him.
“Perhaps it is the heart that is the most supernatural thing of all,” Harper read aloud. “Not just because of the power it wields over mortals and gods but its ability to remain unchanged even in the face of peril or temptation. No curse, no spell, no creature on earth or in heaven can reroute its true course. What the heart loves, the heart will always truly love.”
When Harper looked up from the faded pages of the journal, her dad had fallen silent. Though he tried to hide it, she could see the pain in his eyes, and she knew he must be thinking of Nathalie and how he still loved her.
“There are a few other gems in here,” Harper said, trying to change the subject and ease her dad’s sadness. “We may not have figured out how to break the curse yet, but there are definitely plenty of things in the journal to give Gemma hope.”
“But Thalia knew they were coming for her.” Brian pushed his plate aside, too interested in what his daughter was saying to eat anymore, and he rested his forearms on the table. “You said that, right? Why did they want to kill her? And how did she know they were coming for her?”
“I don’t know why they wanted to kill her, exactly. They might’ve just been looking for information. Muses kept a lot of secrets, so maybe they were torturing and killing them to find something out.
“But it wasn’t until after she came to Maryland that she began to worry about their finding her,” Harper realized, staring at the cover of the journal. “When she first met Bernie, she was in England, and she mentioned nothing about the sirens. It was when she came here, she began to fear them.”
“How did they end up in Maryland?”
“Didn’t Bernie ever tell you?” Harper asked.
“He said he was following Thalia,” Brian said. “But I never knew why she came here.”
“Thalia wanted to become mortal,” Harper explained. “Muses had all kinds of weird stipulations about love and how long they could be with someone, and she wanted to give all that up to be with Bernie. But she needed to find a god or goddess to help her.”
Brian took a sip from his coffee. “And that brought her to Capri?”
“She’d heard that Achelous was here, but he wasn’t.”
“Okay.” Brian nodded, but still looked confused. “And who is Achelous again?”
“He’s the freshwater god, and he happens to be the sirens’ father. Well, Penn and Thea’s, anyway.”
“So Thalia came here looking for the sirens’ dad, and the sirens are looking for her. That can’t be a coincidence.”
“No, I wouldn’t think so,” Harper agreed, thinking about what Professor Pine had said about coincidences. “But the thing is … Thalia never found him.”
“Found who?” Gemma yawned as she walked into the kitchen.
Harper glanced up at her sister, who had apparently just woken up. Her hair was coming loose from a sleep-disheveled bun, and she wore the same T-shirt and sweats she’d fallen asleep in last night.
“Achelous,” Harper answered, as Gemma sat down in the chair between her and their dad.
“Did you get any sleep?” Brian asked, eyeing his daughter. Gemma looked a little tired, but her siren beauty masked most of the signs, so it was hard to tell exactly how tired she might be.
“I got enough,” Gemma said, and she reached over and grabbed part of the pancake left on her dad’s plate. While Gemma didn’t strictly need human food any longer, she still had an appetite for it. Even though it no longer tasted nearly as good as when she was human, she had still managed to acquire a taste for it again. “Are you done with this?”
“Yeah, but I can make more,” Brian offered, but she was already taking a bite.