Penn slid off his lap and knelt on the bed next to him as she explained. “I mean, this is all assuming that you perform up to my expectations, and when I wake up tomorrow, I’m still as infatuated with you as I am today.”
“So whatever you’re plotting hangs on your ever-changing whims?”
“What are you plotting?”
“You remember earlier this summer when we realized that you were immune to our song, and Gemma’s stupid boyfriend was in love with her?”
He nodded. “I’m familiar with this.”
“We didn’t understand why this was happening, and Thea in particular was obsessed with reevaluating the curse. So we pulled out the old scroll and were going over it when I noticed some particular wording.” Penn tucked her hair behind her ear as she spoke.
“It went on and on about the curse, we have to eat boys’ hearts, we sing, there must always be four, blah blah blah. But there was one thing that really stood out.”
“And that is?” Daniel pressed.
She smiled widely before delivering her big discovery. “It never said the sirens had to be girls.”
It was a second before he managed to ask, “What?”
“We’d always assumed, and I’d never thought much about it,” Penn said, speaking more rapidly in her fervor. “The four of us were the original sirens until the 1700s, when Ligea died, so we haven’t used the replacement clause that much. And I’d never really wanted anyone other than a girl, another sidekick, but you’ve got me thinking.”
Inwardly, Daniel groaned. He always seemed to get her thinking when all he was really trying to do was to get her to forget him.
“How did I get you thinking?” he asked.
“The other day, at the park. You told me I was doing a terrible job of picking minions, and you were right. That’s when it hit me. I don’t want a minion—I need a partner.”
“A partner? And you think I’m that partner?”
He wanted to laugh, but he knew Penn would freak out if he did. He looked away from her and got up, deciding that standing would somehow make this feel better. Putting some distance between her and him had to help him think more clearly.
“Daniel, it will be perfect,” Penn continued, and in her excitement, her voice had almost turned into a song. “I’ve gotten so bored with life, and I’ve done everything there is to do. I’m so sick of the world. I’ve seen it all before, and everything has become redundant. But with you, it could all be new again. I could show you the world.”
He glanced back at her, kneeling at the end of the bed and staring expectantly at him. “Did you just quote Disney at me?”
“Maybe, but it doesn’t make my point any less valid.”
“I can’t be your eyes, Penn. I can’t give you a heart again or make you happy.” He shook his head. “I know I should be trying to convince you that I’m everything you’re looking for, but I’m not. It wouldn’t be long before you would get bored with me; and then what? You’d have all of eternity to drag me around.”
“Obviously I would get rid of you if I got bored with you,” Penn said, like she was talking about tossing out expired milk.
He laughed darkly. “You’re really making this appealing.”
“I want you, Daniel, and I’m being as kind as I can be.”
“Strangely, I believe that.”
“You may not believe that you’re my last chance at happiness, but I do, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get it,” Penn said. “You need to accept my offer.”
“Accept your offer? I don’t even really understand what it is.”
“If you say no, I will have no choice but to kill you, and Harper, and Gemma, and every last person in this shit hole little town. I’ll slaughter them one by one, and I’ll make you watch. You’ll be the very last to die.” There was no menace in her voice. She was merely stating the facts to him, and that somehow made it more chilling.
“How romantic,” he muttered under his breath. Swallowing hard, he looked up at her. “And what if I say yes?”
She smiled. “If you say yes, you’ll get far more than your safety and your life and eternity. I’ll love you, I’ll serve you, I’ll feed your every desire. My life’s ambition will be to make you happy, as yours will be to me. We’ll live forever with incredible power and unlimited freedom. Together.”
“And what about everyone else?”
“We’ll leave them behind,” she told him simply. “We’ll go far, far away, and we’ll never return to Capri. You’ll never see Harper or your family again, but that means neither will I. I’ll never hurt any of them, and they’ll live long, happy, little human lives. I will spare everyone, for you.”
As horrible as the offer was, it still sounded too good to be true. He would have to spend the rest of eternity in emotional, physical, and sexual servitude to Penn, but he could save everyone. Everything he’d been trying for would come true. He might not be able to break the curse—at least not right away—but he’d be there with Gemma, to help her and watch out for her.
His mind raced, trying to find the flaw in Penn’s plan or what other devious thing she might be scheming at.
“With me, there would be five sirens,” he realized. “I thought you could only have four.”
“We can only have four,” Penn confirmed.
And that would be the flaw. “So who are you getting rid of?”
Penn tilted her head, like she was considering, but she considered rather quickly. “I was thinking Thea.”
“Thea?” Daniel asked, startled by her choice.
She laughed. “You look surprised.”
“I thought you’d say Gemma.”
“I’m not stupid, Daniel. If I killed her, you wouldn’t go along. I know that.”
“But Thea is your sister, and she’s not totally insane and out of control like Liv,” Daniel countered.
He wasn’t entirely sure what Thea’s deal was or if he could trust her, but from what he knew of the sirens, she seemed to be the most sane and reasonable. If he had to a pick a siren to have on his side, other than Gemma, Thea was his top choice.
“She’s annoying and bossy, though.” Penn wrinkled her nose in irritation when she talked about Thea.
“I don’t think I can spend the next hundred years or so dealing with Liv,” he admitted, though he failed to add that he didn’t think he could spend that long dealing with Penn, either. “If you want me to do this, then she’s the one.”