“Nothing’s wrong.” Her brow furrowed momentarily at that, as if she realized that what she was saying wasn’t quite right, and she turned to Daniel. “Were we looking for something?”
“Yeah. Your sister.” He took both her arms and made her face him. “What the hell is going on with you?”
“She’s calling me,” Alex said to no one in particular, and then he dove into the water, swimming out of the cove.
“Alex!” Daniel yelled. “Alex! What are you doing? We have a boat!” He ran to the shoreline. Alex was furiously swimming away, and Daniel wasn’t about to jump in after him. “Alex! Just get back here in the damn boat!”
“Something’s wrong,” Harper whimpered, and Daniel turned back to see her looking as if she were about to cry.
“No shit, something’s wrong.” He went back over to her, apparently deciding that Alex was a lost cause, at least for the time being. “Do you know why Alex just took off?”
“No.” She ran her hand through her hair and looked up at him. “Gemma is missing, and I can’t…” She shook her head and covered her ears with her hands. “It’s that song, Daniel! It’s trying to make me forget about her, but I won’t!”
“The song?” Daniel certainly could still hear it, but he sounded as if he didn’t know what Harper was talking about.
“Can’t you hear it?” Harper asked, shouting because she’d plugged her ears.
“Yeah, but I’m fine,” he assured her.
“We need to go towards the song!” Harper told him. “That’s where Gemma is!”
Daniel thought about arguing with her, but something really, really bizarre was happening, and they probably didn’t have time to question things anymore. He took Harper’s hand, dragging her over to the boat so they could go after Gemma while they still had a chance.
All the while, the song floated through the air. Come now, weary traveler, I’ll lead you through the waves. Worry not, poor voyager, for my voice is the way.
“What are you doing?” Gemma asked, still struggling against her urge to join in the song with Lexi and Thea.
“What needs to be done,” Penn told her. “I’ve tried to reason with you. I’ve given you everything you wanted. And you still won’t see logic. So now I’m going to make you see.”
“I don’t understand.” Gemma glanced through the doorway where the other two sirens sang. “What do you have to make me see? Why can’t you just let me go?”
“Because, Gemma, we only had until this full moon to find a new siren, or we all die. And you might be ready to throw in the towel, but I don’t give up so easy. I didn’t survive the past several millennia just to be finished off by a spoiled little brat.”
“Exactly!” Gemma latched on to a point. “I’m horrid. You don’t want me. Let me go, and pick someone else.”
“I wish it were that simple,” Penn said, and she sounded as if she really meant it. “The potion doesn’t always take. You’re the third girl we’ve tried, and the first that’s turned into a siren.”
“What do you mean, the potion doesn’t always take?” Gemma asked.
“After you drink it, one of two things will happen. One, you’ll turn into a siren, as you did.” Penn gestured to her. “Or two, you die.”
“What? Why?” Gemma asked. “How come I turned and other girls didn’t?”
“We don’t know exactly. A siren needs to be strong, beautiful, and connected to the water.” Penn shrugged. “Some of the girls we picked just weren’t strong enough.”
“But … you’re running out of time. If I died, you would all die?” Gemma narrowed her eyes at Penn. “What’s stopping me from killing myself?”
“You don’t know how to, for one thing. Sirens aren’t mortal. You can’t just drown or throw yourself off a building,” Penn said. “And the other thing is on its way right now.”
Before Gemma could respond, Lexi shouted from the porch, “He’s coming! I can see him! He’s already on the dock!”
“Good.” Penn smiled. “You can stop your singing now, before we summon every man near the bay.”
Penn stood in between Gemma and the doorway, but now she stepped to the side, allowing Gemma to get by.
She ran to the doorway, rushing past Lexi and Thea. She didn’t know whom they’d called or what exactly they planned to do with him, but Gemma knew whatever it was couldn’t be good. She had to send him away before the sirens sank their teeth in him.
When she saw him coming up the trail, walking like he was still asleep, she stopped cold in her tracks. It was worse than she’d feared.
As soon as his name escaped her lips, Lexi was on him, putting her arm around him and leading him up the trail. Thea grabbed Gemma, holding her arms behind her back so she couldn’t fight.
“Alex!” Gemma shouted, but he barely glanced over at her. His gaze was too focused on Lexi, who hummed a song in his ear. “Alex! You have to get out of here! Alex, run! It’s a trick! They’re going to kill you!”
“Shut up,” Thea growled and started dragging her up the path to the cabin. “If you would have just come with us, none of this would be happening. It’s your fault we’re in this mess.”
“Please!” Gemma begged. “Please, just leave him alone.”
Penn was laughing when they entered the cabin. Gemma fought and kicked at Thea, but it was like fighting against granite. Thea was a three-thousand-year-old demigoddess, and it showed in her strength.
Alex had followed Lexi willingly into the center of the room, and he couldn’t take his eyes off her. She circled him slowly, and he turned his head, following her. Lexi stopped in front of him, caressing his face, and he leaned in to kiss her.
“Alex!” Gemma shouted, but he still tried to kiss Lexi. If Lexi hadn’t moved her head away at the last second, he would’ve. “What have you done to him?”
“Actually, you did it.” Penn stood off to the side of the room, watching Gemma’s misery with a look of intense satisfaction. “He wouldn’t have gotten here so quickly if you hadn’t already put him under a siren spell once before.”
“What are you talking about?” Gemma asked. “I never did anything to him.”