“When she did, when you realized what Penn was capable of, why didn’t you kill her then? Penn has killed two of your sisters,” Gemma said. “Three if you’re counting Lexi.”
“I never counted Lexi as my sister,” Thea muttered.
“You know Penn will just keep killing,” Gemma went on. “If I don’t stop her, she’s going to eventually kill me, and Liv, and … you.”
“If she does, I would deserve it,” Thea replied softly. Then she shook her head and took a deep breath, erasing the sadness from her expression. “Anyway … that’s how we ended up here.”
“You mean, with me?” Gemma asked.
“No, here in Capri.” Thea gestured around her. “It’s all part of Penn’s scheme for revenge.”
Gemma furrowed her brow. “I don’t follow.”
“She blamed Bastian’s absence on Demeter,” Thea explained. “It was because of the curse that he couldn’t love her, and that was Demeter’s fault.”
“Why didn’t she just try going after Bastian?” Gemma asked.
“She did, at first,” Thea said. “But the longer she went without finding him, the more enraged she became. And while some of that rage would splatter on the humans around her, she focused most of it on Demeter.”
“She’d been a siren for what?” Gemma tried to remember what they’d told her. “Like over two thousand years, right? And Penn just suddenly decides to get revenge on the woman who cursed her?”
“No, of course not,” Thea said. “Penn’s always hated Demeter, from the very moment she appointed us handmaidens to her daughter Persephone. But initially, Penn and Demeter and the other gods lived in peace. It wasn’t until hundreds of years later, after we’d been exiled from Greece along with the other immortals at the end of the Dark Ages, that Penn even considered killing Demeter.”
“Why were you exiled?” Gemma asked.
“‘Exiled’ isn’t exactly the right term, but that’s how it felt,” Thea clarified. “Humans just started getting wise to us. They were fearful or jealous, and they began killing gods and immortals. So it was just safer for all of us to start living underground, hiding our true selves.”
“And that pissed Penn off,” Gemma guessed.
Thea nodded. “Penn never wants to hide or control her whims, so she hated Demeter even though it wasn’t her fault the world was changing. We’d begun looking for Demeter, but we weren’t that serious. Penn loved being a siren.
“When the mood struck her, she’d ask around, but she usually got distracted before we got too far into looking for Demeter. So we had a few centuries of half-assed attempts at finding the hidden goddess between long strings of debauchery.” Thea paused. “And then Penn got sidetracked with Bastian.”
“Until he disappeared,” Gemma said.
“Exactly. But Penn was going batshit, killing everything that crossed her. Humans, gods, anyone that Penn felt like,” Thea said. “That’s when Penn really threw herself into finding Demeter, doing everything she could in unrelenting pursuit, but Demeter had gotten wind of Penn’s rampage. So she burrowed deep underground, and she hasn’t been seen in centuries.”
“Are you sure she’s even still alive?” Gemma asked.
Thea shrugged. “Clio told us she was.”
“She was a muse we found a little over fifty years ago. Our aunt, technically,” Thea said. “But we’d never had a very strong familial bond with our own mothers, let alone any of their sisters. The muses wanted little to do with their children for the most part, and Clio was no exception.”
“Well, then how do you even know she was telling you the truth?” Gemma asked.
“We asked her at first, but then Penn tortured her to be certain,” Thea explained. “Unfortunately, she didn’t know where Demeter was, so Penn killed her.”
“You tortured and murdered her?” Gemma asked. “That seems pretty extreme.”
“Penn was desperate to know where Demeter is,” Thea said. “We would’ve gone to our own mothers, but they were long since dead. We’ve been scouring the earth since the 1700s, looking for muses who might know anything, but we’ve mostly only found their corpses. Clio was only the second muse we’d encountered alive in the past five hundred years.”
That explained what made Thalia so spooked in the journal. When she’d first met Bernie, she’d never mentioned the sirens at all. And then, suddenly, she’d become frightened and paranoid.
Thalia had briefly mentioned something, saying that she’d lost an old friend, but she hadn’t named the friend. She’d probably gotten word of her sister Clio’s murder at the sirens’ hands and assumed, rightly, that they were going to come after her next.
“So you came to Capri looking for Demeter,” Gemma said. Thanks to Thalia’s diary, she had already put most of the pieces together. But she hoped Thea would fill in the blanks.
“No, we came looking for another muse,” Thea said. “The very last one, and she was said to be here in Capri.”
“But she was already dead,” Gemma said.
Thea nodded bitterly. “That was our last hope.”
“What do you mean?” Gemma asked
“There aren’t many of us left. All the big immortals are long gone—Zeus, Aries, Medusa, Athena, you name it. They’re either dead or in hiding. Hades is around, but he hasn’t talked to anyone since … right after we became sirens. He doesn’t know anything.”
“Since everyone’s gone, you have nowhere else to look. No clues on how to find Demeter,” Gemma said, hoping she didn’t sound as disappointed as she felt. While she was happy that Penn had been unable to find a muse, Gemma had been hoping for some clue, some hint at anything that could help her.
“No.” Thea shook her head. “That’s why I told you the scroll is useless. Aggie tried everything to break the curse. And there are no more gods or goddess to help reverse it. We’re alone.”
“Is that why you gave me the scroll?” Gemma asked. “Because you didn’t think I’d be able to do anything?”
“No. I’ve just come to realize that my sister Aggie was right. We’ve had our time on this earth, and we’ve had more than our fair share of death.” Thea let out a deep breath and stared emptily at the wall. “But it seems my change of heart is just too little, too late.”