“It doesn’t make you smarter, though, does it, Lexi?” Gemma asked. “Or if it does, you must’ve been really stupid before you became a siren.”
“Those are big words coming from someone who’s about to die,” Lexi said. “Here. Let’s make it fair. You eat this.” She held out Sawyer’s heart toward Gemma, who struggled not to gag.
“I’m not going to,” Gemma said. “I’m not going to be one of you.”
“I don’t really have time to eat it, either.” Lexi stared down at the heart and sighed. “Oh, well.” She tossed it over her shoulder and it landed on the dock, bouncing once before splashing into the water. “It’s probably time for you to die anyway.”
Alex charged at Lexi first. Gemma wasn’t sure if he’d heard what she’d said, or if he’d just had enough. He swung at her, but Lexi knocked him down, and he fell back on the dock.
“You know what would be so fun?” Lexi sounded excited as Gemma ran over to help Alex. “Since you two like each other so much, it’d be way fun if he killed you. Or at least tried to. I doubt he’d be able to finish the job, but it’d be fun to see him try.”
“You are so messed up, Lexi,” Gemma said. “Like, seriously. You are one sick bitch.”
“Aw, thanks.” Lexi winked at her, and when she spoke again, her voice came out as a song: “Alex, my weary wanderer, my voice is the way. Alex, my young love, do as I say.”
Alex, in an apparent daze, let go of Gemma’s hand and walked toward Lexi. Gemma called his name, but he ignored Gemma, following the song into Lexi’s arms.
She smiled at Gemma as she embraced Alex. One of her arms was around his shoulder, and the other was stroking his hair back. She leaned in to him, like she meant to kiss him, and when Alex leaned closer, she pulled away and laughed.
“Oh, this is almost too easy to be fun,” Lexi said, watching Gemma from the corner of her eye.
“No, Alex, don’t listen to her,” Gemma said. He’d wrapped one arm around Lexi’s waist, and she saw him reaching into his back pocket for something. “Alex. Don’t listen to her. I love you.”
“Alex, my love,” Lexi said as seductively as she could. “I want you to kill Gemma.”
Just before Lexi’s lips touched his, he reached up, pulling his pocketknife out and stabbing it right into Lexi’s heart. He pressed her close to him, so he could stab the knife in deeper.
“What the hell?” Lexi asked, her eyes wide with shock.
“Earplugs,” Alex said simply, and walked back to where Gemma was standing.
Lexi stepped back, holding her hands in front of her, and she still looked dazed and shocked. She started coughing, and Gemma grabbed Alex’s hand, squeezing it hopefully.
“You stupid bitch.” Lexi spat blood, and then ripped the knife out.
“Okay, so I guess that doesn’t kill them, then,” Gemma said.
“Of course it doesn’t kill me!” Lexi shouted, and her voice started changing, losing its silky quality and sounding more like a demon’s. “It only pisses me off!”
Her eyes changed, shifting from their usual bright blue to an eerie green, and they grew larger, almost too large for her face. Her teeth became more pointed. Several rows sprang out from behind the others and protruded jaggedly from her still-human lips. The last thing to change was her arms, growing longer and sprouting taloned fingers.
Lexi had begun shifting into the bird form, but she stopped changing mid-shift. The whole beast was probably a bit cumbersome for being in public, but even this smaller shift would make her stronger. Gemma had felt it when she’d been fighting with Sawyer. Just the little change had enabled her to break away from him.
Alex charged at Lexi while Gemma ran over and grabbed a heavy rope that had been left on the dock. When Alex ran at Lexi, she knocked him back, but that was what Gemma had wanted. He lay on the dock, and while Lexi hunched over him, Gemma ran and jumped on her back. She wrapped the rope around Lexi’s neck, choking her, and wrapped her legs around the siren’s waist to get a better grip.
Lexi squawked and tried to buck Gemma off, but that only made her hang on tighter. Alex kicked Lexi in the stomach, and she fell to her knees. She reached back behind her head and grabbed Gemma’s hair.
She yanked on it hard enough to make Gemma scream, but Gemma refused to let go of the rope. Alex kicked Lexi in the face, probably afraid that if he punched her, he might accidentally rip his hand off on her incisors.
“Will you stop screwing around?” Penn snapped, and all three of them turned to see her standing on the dock with her hands on her hips. Thea was right beside her.
Lexi squawked again, trying to speak but unable to, since Gemma had the rope so tight around her neck.
“Gemma, let go of her,” Penn said wearily. “If you don’t, I’ll come over there and rip your boyfriend’s head off. It’s as simple as that. I’m sick of fighting, so do as I say, or I’ll kill you all.”
Reluctantly, Gemma let go of the rope and got off Lexi. As soon as she did, Lexi turned to her like she meant to attack in some way, but Penn hissed at her.
“Lexi,” Penn commanded. “I said I was sick of all this fighting, and I meant it. Clean yourself up and get off the ground.”
“Sorry,” Lexi said awkwardly through her mouthful of teeth.
The fireworks were finishing up, and they ended on a noisy, rapid-fire note, with lights exploding every second in the sky. Lexi shifted back to her normal self and stood up. Gemma and Alex had gotten to their feet, and they stood together, holding on to each other.
“That’s so obnoxious,” Penn said as the display finally finished and the crowd on the beach erupted in applause. “Humans are so stupid.”
“They are,” Lexi agreed, and took her spot on the other side of Penn.
“So what was going on here?” Penn motioned to the blood all over the dock. “Whose is that?”
“That’s Sawyer’s,” Lexi said, then she made a pouty face. “He was going to leave us, so I killed him.”
“Lexi.” Penn sounded genuinely irritated, then shook her head. “Fine. Whatever. Great. I’m sick of all of this.”
“If you just let me go, you can be rid of all of this,” Gemma said.
“I can’t let you go,” Penn snapped. “Why won’t you get that through your thick skull? If you want to be free of this curse, I’ll be more than happy to set you free, but I’ll have to kill you. Is that what you want? Do you want to die?”