Within a few minutes the rest of the actors, along with the assistant director, began filtering in. Kirby was the next to arrive. He smiled at her, but he was careful to keep his distance.
Gemma told him that she didn’t think they should display any kind of public affection because she didn’t want the other actors to talk or Tom to get angry with them for not focusing enough. That was part of it, but it wasn’t the whole truth.
After what had happened with Sawyer, she didn’t want the sirens to know about any boys she was dating. She trusted Thea, but if Lexi found out about Kirby, she’d probably do something to him just to mess with her.
Gemma didn’t think she’d hurt him, not since Lexi, Penn, and Thea had all promised not to hurt anyone in Capri. But she knew that Lexi loved to play games, and Kirby didn’t need to deal with that.
Thea arrived a few minutes late, but the very last person to arrive was Aiden Crawford. He played the role of Petruchio, the boisterous gentleman intent on taming the shrew, Katherine, for his wife. He was a good match for the character, since he was confident bordering on cocky. He was foxy enough that most people seemed to overlook his arrogance.
Once everyone arrived, Tom got rehearsal under way. Gemma rehearsed a few scenes with Kirby, who played Lucentio, Bianca’s most valiant suitor. But when they got to a scene that was apparently a bit too complicated for Aiden to follow, Tom excused Gemma and Thea from the stage so he could focus on helping Aiden.
They sat in the middle of the theater, on the plush red velvet seats. Theoretically, they were supposed to be running lines together, but they were really just watching the boys scramble onstage as Aiden, Kirby, and another actor continued to botch their lines.
“This is the third time I’ve done The Taming of the Shrew,” Thea said. “But I’m usually Bianca. Penn was Katherine once, but she didn’t enjoy it that much. She prefers situations where she’s revered, not tamed.”
“That makes sense,” Gemma said. “Have you been in a lot of plays, then?”
“Hundreds. Probably thousands.” She leaned back farther in her seat. “I’m showing my age now, but television and radio, these are such new concepts. In the several millennia before that, the only way we had to entertain ourselves was with plays and stories.
“I’ve done opera before, but that’s a bit tricky.” Thea motioned to her throat. “The whole siren-song thing can turn an audience into a frenzied, obsessed mob.”
“That doesn’t sound all that pleasant.”
“No, it’s really not,” Thea said. “I’m just glad they’re not doing a musical. I so needed something to get me out of the house, but I won’t sing in front of crowds anymore.”
Tom appeared agitated by something Kirby had said and yelled at him. Not berating him, exactly, but it seemed a bit more harsh than Gemma would’ve thought the situation required.
“He’s really taking this seriously,” Thea said as they watched Tom give very forceful stage direction. “That’s weird for such a small-town production.”
“This is kind of a big deal,” Gemma said. “He’s, like, a real director. Not Broadway, but he’s done some bigger productions. He’s not from here.”
“I suppose the British accent gave that part away,” Thea said. “But how is this a big deal? Is this town super into Shakespeare or something?”
“This play is part of Capri’s big At Summer’s End Festival,” Gemma explained. “The activities kick off on August twenty-seventh and go all week until Labor Day. There’s a carnival, a parade, a cook-off, and a Miss Capri contest.”
“Weird.” Thea wrinkled her nose. “You seem to have an awful lot of festivals here.”
“It’s because it’s summer and we’re a tourist town. We have to milk it for all it’s worth, and then when the tourists go home, the town closes up. The festivals stop.”
“You cannot tell Lexi that,” Thea said. “She would freak out.”
Gemma chewed her lip, and then turned to Thea. “How much longer do you think you’re going to stay here?”
“It’s hard to say.” Thea lowered her eyes.
“You’re getting restless, all of you are,” Gemma said. She paused, but Thea didn’t bother to contradict her. “You haven’t found out anything supernatural or helpful about Alex or Daniel. Have you?”
“I never really thought that Alex loving you was all that supernatural,” Thea said, and just saying it like that opened the still-fresh wound in Gemma’s heart. She tried to keep her expression neutral as Thea went on. “My theory is that Alex had already fallen in love with you before you became a siren. That’s how he got around the curse.”
“Did you tell Penn that?” Gemma asked.
“No,” Thea said. “I thought the curse needed some reevaluating, that maybe we’d been denying things that were true. I just wanted to talk Penn into staying here so we could figure things out.”
“And what have you found?” Gemma asked, but she thought she already knew the answer. If they’d had any major breakthroughs, any life-changing pieces of information, Thea wouldn’t be sitting in the theater preparing for a play.
“Nothing.” Thea’s husky voice sounded soft and sad. “I don’t know where else to look. And Penn’s lost interest.” She stopped, correcting herself. “Well, she’s lost interest in Alex, anyway.”