He leaned in and kissed her. Gemma had expected this new, angry Alex to be rough and forceful, but he wasn’t. While he wasn’t as gentle as he’d once been, it was because there was a sense of urgency to his kiss. Like he understood that he only had a few precious seconds when the wall could come down, when he could really love her and hold her again.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, but that snapped him out of it. He grabbed her arms and pinned them back against the door. His breath came out raggedly, and he stared at her with a mixture of yearning and contempt.
“I can’t do this,” Alex said finally. He let go of her and stepped back.
“I’ll find a way to help you,” Gemma said. She moved away from the garage door but didn’t go after him. “I’ll fix this mess that I made.”
Alex turned and jogged back to his house, and she let out a deep breath and leaned back against the door. She didn’t know how she’d do it, but she’d do everything in her power to fix what had happened to him.
Harper, Daniel, and Brian came out of the house a few minutes later, and Gemma had apparently collected herself enough, because nobody commented on her emotional state. Daniel rode up with Harper in her car, while Gemma sat in uncomfortable silence with her dad in his truck.
When they arrived at Sundham University, Gemma felt a bit strange. All the other students appeared settled into their dorms, and Harper had a small caravan of people carrying her few belongings past them as they went to her room.
All the bigger furniture was being provided by or rented from the dorm, so Harper only had to bring her personal belongings. She’d chosen a loft bed with a desk underneath, and while it was already in her room, it hadn’t been put together.
Harper’s roommate was already in her room, hanging up a Florence + the Machine poster on the wall, when Gemma came in with Harper. Her back was to them, and her wavy blond hair was pulled up in a loose bun. As Brian and Daniel began the struggle with putting together the loft bed, she came over to introduce herself to them.
“You must be my new roommate,” the girl said. Her brown eyes were wide and surprisingly innocent, but there was something about her smile that made Gemma ill at ease. “I was beginning to think you weren’t coming.”
“Yeah, it took me a little while.” Harper smiled sheepishly.
“Well, that’s okay.” The girl grinned broadly. “My gramma always said the best things in life are worth the wait.”
“Well, I hope so,” Harper said. “I’m Harper Fisher, and this is my little sister, Gemma.”
“Hi,” Gemma said, taking Harper’s roommate’s outstretched hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“I’m Olivia Olsen, but my friends call me Liv,” she said, smiling even wider. “And I hope we’re going to be friends.”
Gia had heard her wailing. Aggie and Penn were out for their morning swim already, so far out into the Mediterranean that they couldn’t hear Thea completely losing it after slaughtering the only man she’d ever truly loved.
When Gia came into her room, Thea was sitting on the floor, drenched in blood, as she cradled her lover’s corpse. Thea might have stayed that way all day, until Penn came in and finished her off for killing Bastian.
If it hadn’t been for Gia, Thea wouldn’t have been able to get her wits about her. Since she’d fed, she was thinking clearer than she had in weeks, but her devastation completely overrode that and clouded her judgment.
Fair and soft-spoken, Gia didn’t even ask Thea what had happened or why it had happened. She simply gathered her up and took her into the bathroom to clean her, and then Gia went back out and wrapped Bastian in a bedsheet.
She sent the servants to fetch buckets of water, and when they returned, Gia began sopping up the blood off the floor with blankets and towels. Once Thea had cleaned most of the blood off herself, she joined Gia, kneeling down and scrubbing it from the floor.
Then the two of them went out, carrying Bastian with them. They dove into the sea and took him as far and deep as they could. They weighted his body down with a small boulder, knowing that the fish and the tides would take care of the rest.
When it was all finished, all the blood cleaned off them both from the sea, all the bedding and the body disposed of, Thea offered Gia a small thank-you, but Gia simply brushed it off and went into the dining room to join Aggie and Penn for a late breakfast.
Thea had always thought it was a shame that Gia had become one of them. They referred to her as their sister, since the sirens were a kind of sisterhood, but she wasn’t really. Unlike Thea, Aggie, and Penn, Gia’s parents were mortals. She’d gotten a job as a handmaiden for Persephone, and by all accounts she’d been doing a fine job until the other three girls showed up.
In fact, if Penn, Thea, and Aggie hadn’t dragged her away that day, Gia would’ve been content to stay behind and guard Persephone. She loved to listen to Gia sing as Gia braided Persephone’s hair.
But they had dragged Gia away. Then Persephone had been raped and murdered, and her enraged mother had cursed all four of them forever—even sweet Gia, who had the most beautiful singing voice imaginable.
It didn’t take long for Penn to notice that Bastian had disappeared, and she went berserk. Initially, she suspected foul play, since she couldn’t believe that anybody would leave her. But after days of Thea, Aggie, and Gia placating her, Penn had eventually come around to the idea that Bastian had left.
That didn’t do anything for her rage, though. She stormed around the house, breaking things, yelling, throwing fits. She tore apart several servants simply for looking at her the wrong way.
The one good thing about her preoccupation with Bastian was that Penn hadn’t noticed the change in Thea. Her radiance was back, her hair was once again lush, and she wasn’t so frenetic anymore. Her voice was still husky, and Penn taunted her about that—the way she’d been taunting her for months.
None of the other sirens had understood why she’d stopped feeding with them, although Aggie seemed to support it and cut down herself. Not nearly as much as Thea had, because it was maddening and painful, but she’d made an effort, at least.
Penn’s rage came to a head less than a week after Bastian had died. She was tearing apart his room, looking for any clues as to where he might have gone so she could find him and kill him. The other three tried to stay out of her way, and spent the afternoon in the sitting room.