“How do you know Lydia?” Harper asked Marcy.
Marcy shrugged. “I just know people.”
Once they were in the car, Harper let out a long breath. She wasn’t exactly sure how she felt after that visit, but at least they had a course of action. They were looking for something specific. They could find it. They could solve the curse. Ending this whole siren business felt like a real possibility for the first time in a while.
“That went pretty good, I think,” Harper said.
“I guess,” Gemma said from the backseat, but she sounded awfully sullen.
“Is something the matter?” Harper turned around to look at her.
“No, everything’s fine. The watersong is getting to me, I think,” Gemma said, but she just stared vacantly out the window.
In the mansion in the south of France, Thea lay in bed long after her handmaidens had come in and opened her curtains. Sunlight spilled in through the large windows of her bedroom, but she lay curled among the blankets.
“Thea?” Aggie asked, and without waiting for a response, she threw open the large bedroom doors, causing them to slam against the wall.
Thea ignored her sister and pulled the covers over her head, burying herself.
“Thea, you’ve been in bed all day, and you stayed in bed all day the day before that, and the day before that,” Aggie said.
The bed moved as Aggie climbed into it, crawling over to where Thea lay in the center, and she pulled back the covers. Aggie stared down at her, her warm chestnut eyes filled with concern, and she sighed loudly.
Aggie was fully dressed in a luscious pink gown adorned with lace and fabric shaped into flowers. Despite her attire, she hadn’t put on a wig, so her long brown waves cascaded down to her shoulders.
“Are you sick?” Aggie asked.
“Of course I’m not sick,” Thea said with a voice like silk. She rolled onto her back so she could stare up at the ceiling instead of at her sister. “We’re incapable of falling ill.”
“Then why are you lying in bed all day?” Aggie asked. “There must be something the matter with you.”
Thea didn’t have a very good answer for that. For the past five weeks they’d been living with a duke in the south of France. Everyone assumed that Thea and the other three sirens were his courtesans, and they let them think that. It was easier than explaining what they really were.
Since they’d come here, Thea had slowly begun to lose interest in all the things she used to love doing. Even swimming with her sisters was losing its appeal. The only thing she really wanted to do anymore was lie in her bed.
“It doesn’t really matter what’s going on with you,” Aggie decided and scooted back on the bed so she could get up. “Penn and Gia went to town today, and they’ve brought a guest over for dinner. You need to get dressed and come down to eat with us.”
“I’m not hungry,” Thea said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re hungry or not.” Aggie walked over to Thea’s wardrobe and looked through it. “Penn made it perfectly clear that this wasn’t a question. She wants to impress him.”
“Since when does she try to impress men?” Thea asked as she grudgingly sat up. “And don’t we already have enough men here to entertain her?”
The duke shared the house with his two brothers, and that alone should’ve been enough for Penn. That didn’t include all the servants and friends of the duke who were constantly visiting his home on the edge of the Mediterranean.
“No, it’s not a mortal,” Aggie said as she pulled a gown from the wardrobe. “He goes by Bastian now, I believe, but he used to be called Orpheus.”
Thea grimaced. “Orpheus? The musician? Isn’t he supposed to be our nemesis? That’s what Homer wrote, wasn’t it?”
“Perhaps. Homer wrote many things that weren’t true.” Aggie carried the dress and laid it out on the bed. “Now come. You need to hurry. Penn will be angry if you keep them waiting.”
“Why does she even care about this man?” Thea asked, but she did as she was told, slowly sliding to the edge of the bed so she could stand.
“She thought he might know where Father is,” Aggie explained.
“Nobody’s ever going to tell us where Father is,” Thea mumbled as she pulled her nightgown over her head. “And how does she even know who this Orpheus person is if he’s going by the name Bastian?”
Aggie held the dress open for her, and Thea stepped inside of it. She pulled it up, slipping her arms through the sleeves. Once it was on, she turned around and held her red hair out of the way so Aggie could begin lacing it up.
“She recognized him,” Aggie said. “We’ve met him before. It was many years ago, back when we still lived in Greece.”
“So it was many, many years ago,” Thea said.
It had to have been at least a thousand years since they’d last lived in Greece. Immortals such as themselves had lived somewhat happily there for a while, but eventually they’d come to feel unwelcome, and they had dispersed all over the world.
“You must remember meeting him.” Aggie tightened the waist, causing Thea to exhale roughly. “We went to a performance of his where he played the harp and sang the most beautiful song.”
Thea shook her head. “I can’t remember. Most of our lives have become a blur of random men, and it’s hard to isolate one.”
Aggie had finished, and she took Thea by the shoulders, forcing her to turn around and face her.
“What is going on with you?” Aggie asked.
“Nothing.” Thea smiled thinly at her. “Everything is wonderful.”
“You’re lying. And we will talk about it later, but for now, you need to pretend that everything really is wonderful,” Aggie said. “For whatever reason, Penn wants to impress this Bastian, and you need to be at your best.”
“I will do everything I can,” Thea assured her.
Aggie led the way down to the parlor room. As they walked through the halls, servants scattered. All of them lived in fear of the sirens, and that was as it should be. Only the duke and his friends seemed oblivious to their true nature, but that was as Penn wanted it. She kept her siren song focused on them, so they would give freely to her.
Before they even reached the parlor, Thea could hear Penn laughing. It wasn’t the seductive laugh she used to get what she wanted, which seemed to be the only laugh she was capable of around men. This was her actual laugh.