“Penn,” Thea said, gently interjecting. “It was so hard to find a replacement for Aggie. It’ll be just as hard to replace Gemma. Don’t do anything hasty.”
“I’m not being hasty!” Penn shouted.
“Wait,” Gemma said. “You guys were wrong.”
“Seriously?” Penn raised an eyebrow. “This is how you plan to plead for your life? Telling me I’m the one that’s wrong?”
“No, I’m saying that you were wrong about something, so you might be wrong about other things,” Gemma said. “There might be a way to break the curse.”
“Do you know what that is?” Thea asked.
“No, but…” She took a deep breath. “Alex loves me.”
“Boys lie, you’re an idiot, blah blah blah,” Penn said, waving her hand.
“No, he’s really in love with me! Ask him!” Gemma motioned to Alex, and he took out his earplugs. “Alex, tell them how you feel about me.”
“That I love you?” Alex asked, confused.
Penn rolled her eyes. “Oh, my god. Just for that, I’m going to kill you both. I was only going to kill you, Gemma, but because you wasted my time, I’m taking him out, too.”
“No, Penn, wait!” Thea held up her hand to silence Penn.
“What now?” Penn groaned.
“Alex,” Thea said, and walked over to him.
“Don’t hurt him,” Gemma said, making her voice as firm as she could.
“I’m not going to hurt him,” Thea told Gemma, but her eyes were on him. She stared at him directly in his eyes, then sang, “Alex, tell me the truth. Do you love her?”
His pupils dilated and mouth slacked, and for a second Alex didn’t say anything. Gemma waited with bated breath until finally he spoke.
“Yes,” he said, his voice sounding dreamy. “I’m in love with Gemma.”
“That doesn’t prove anything,” Lexi said.
“Yes, it does!” Gemma insisted. “He loves me, and you said that wasn’t possible.”
Thea swallowed hard and lowered her eyes. Her expression had become pained, but Gemma couldn’t read it exactly.
“Thea, this doesn’t change anything,” Penn said, trying too hard to sound calm and reassuring.
“This changes everything,” Thea said, then turned back to face Penn. “We’ve believed something for thousands of years, and it’s not true. What else are we wrong about?”
“Maybe it’s a fluke.” Penn shrugged. “But we can figure it out later. I still think we should kill Gemma. She’s more trouble than she’s worth.”
“No, I don’t think so.” Thea shook her head. “We should keep her alive.”
“She’ll just keep running away!” Penn gestured to Alex. “Her being in love is all the more reason that we should kill them!”
“Then we stay,” Thea said.
“What?” Lexi asked, appalled. “We can’t stay here. This town sucks.”
“Just for a while,” Thea said. “Until we figure out what’s going on.”
Penn sighed and seemed to think it over.
“We can’t!” Lexi insisted. “We wouldn’t be able to feed whenever we wanted. We’d have to use discretion so the humans wouldn’t chase us out of town with pitchforks and torches. That means we might have to go, like, weeks without eating.”
“That’s true,” Penn agreed. “But there’s something really weird going on with the boys in this town.”
“What do you mean?” Thea asked.
Penn just shook her head in response. “Fine. We’ll stay. And Gemma can live. For now.”
Lexi groaned loudly, and Gemma tried not to let out a sigh of relief.
“But you will do as I say.” Penn stepped around Thea and walked right up to Gemma. “None of this running off shit or doing what you want. I’ll let you stay here, live with that hideous sister of yours, and run around with this idiot boy. But if you disobey me, if you act out against me or the other sirens, I will not hesitate to kill you all. Do you understand me?”
“I do.” Gemma nodded.
“Do you?” Penn asked. “Because I don’t think you do. We made a similar deal before, and you broke it. In fact, I should be tearing out lover boy’s heart right now just to punish you.”
“Penn, please, I’ll do what you say,” Gemma insisted in a hurried breath. “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”
“I know you won’t do it again,” Penn said. “Because I’ve given you more chances than I’ve given anyone else. And you screw up one more time, one more time, and I will destroy everyone you care about. I’ll kill everyone in this entire bullshit town if I have to.”
Gemma swallowed hard. “I understand.”
“Gemma!” Harper shouted as she raced down the embankment toward the docks. “Gemma!”
“I really don’t want to deal with them again,” Penn said, and turned back to Lexi and Thea. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Gladly,” Lexi said, and dove into the water.
“Wait,” Gemma said, stopping Penn before she followed Lexi. “What do you want me to do?”
“Go home, play house with your little friends,” Penn said. “I’ll find somewhere to live, and when I want you, I’ll come get you.”
Before Harper and Daniel reached them on the dock, Penn and Thea dove into the water, disappearing in the waves. They swam out as far and as fast as they could, and Gemma knew they had to be careful to avoid being spotted by people who were in all the boats in the bay.
“So we’re just gonna stay here and let Gemma do what she wants?” Lexi asked Penn, once they’d gotten far enough away from the docks that they could speak. Thea was swimming on ahead of them, but Lexi had slowed to talk to Penn.
“No, of course not,” Penn said. “We find a replacement first, then we kill her. And we need to find out what the hell is going on with the boys in this town. There’s something strange about this place, and I want to find out what it is, so I can rub it in Demeter’s face.”
Gemma knew what she had to do. After everything that had happened tonight, she had no other option. While Gemma had told Harper what she planned to do, she couldn’t tell if Harper approved or not. In the end, it didn’t matter. Gemma had made up her mind.