“It does have a great view.” Thea sighed and stood next to Gemma, who’d wandered to the back of the house to take it all in. “I’ll miss it when we leave.”
“Really?” Gemma asked and looked over at her. Thea appeared strangely wistful for a moment, but she tried to hide it.
“Maybe ‘miss’ is too strong a word,” Thea said as she walked away from her. “I’m going upstairs to change into my swimsuit.”
“But you’ll miss this?” Gemma turned to watch Thea climb up the stairs to the loft above, where the bedrooms were. “A drab place like Capri?”
“I thought you liked it here,” Thea said, her voice bouncing off the pitched ceilings. She’d disappeared out of Gemma’s sight, presumably getting her suit on. “You’re always wanting to stay here.”
“That’s different. My friends and family are here,” Gemma said. “And you’ve been all over the world and seen all kinds of exotic places. I can’t imagine this would be in the top ten, or even the top fifty places you’ve been.”
“I haven’t been as many places as you’d think,” Thea said. “We can never be that far from the ocean, so everywhere we go has to be a seaside town. Beaches, I’ve seen hundreds. To me, exotic would be an open prairie, land that goes on and on without any water in sight.”
Gemma sat down on the edge of a sofa as she waited, still staring up at the loft even though there was nothing to see.
“But there still have to have been more beautiful places than here,” Gemma said.
“Of course there are.” Thea’s voice was muffled a second, but when she spoke again, her voice was clear. “The coast of Australia is probably my favorite. They have the most gorgeous reefs there. I’ve swum there thousands of times, and it’s always changing and always beautiful.”
“I’d love to see that,” Gemma said.
“Maybe you will.” Thea appeared at the top of the stairs, now in a dark brown bikini. “But the ocean’s the ocean anywhere you go. The water’s just as wet here as it is anywhere else.”
“So then what could make you miss this place?” Gemma asked. “What makes Capri special?”
Thea breathed out deeply and came down the stairs much more slowly than she’d gone up them. When she reached the bottom, she finally answered.
“It’s not the most beautiful or entertaining place we’ve been, that’s for sure,” Thea said. “Penn thinks there might be some kind of supernatural draw, but I don’t know if I believe that.”
“Why did you come here in the first place?” Gemma asked, realizing that the sirens had never told her how they’d ended up in town.
Thea shook her head and wouldn’t meet her eyes. She hesitated before speaking, almost as if she were holding something back. “It was just a stop on the coast. We never planned to be here this long.”
“But you have stayed,” Gemma said. “And you want to stay longer. Don’t you?”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Thea walked away, going out to the back door, so Gemma got up to go after her.
When she went outside, Thea was standing right at the edge of the cliff, her toes almost hanging over it. Anthemusa Bay spread out before them. Boats were floating on the water, looking so small from the distance.
“All the places blur together eventually,” Thea said finally. “Even the beauty of the ocean, eventually it becomes … redundant. It’s not here so much as now that I want to stay in.”
“What’s great about now?” Gemma asked.
“It probably seems terrible to you. Your whole life is in upheaval. But for me, this is the calmest things have been in a very long time. Penn is more sated. Lexi is miserable, but that matters less. Lexi’s bitching and whining have nothing on Penn.”
Gemma nodded knowingly. “When Penn’s unhappy, she makes everybody unhappy.”
“That’s an understatement. She makes life a living hell.”
“So she’s happy here?” Gemma asked.
Thea shrugged. “She’s preoccupied, and sometimes that’s about as close to happy as she gets.”
“You’re talking about Daniel?” Gemma debated about saying anything more on that, but she decided she should tell Thea. That didn’t mean that word wouldn’t get back to Penn, but if Thea thought it should, then maybe it should. “I talked to Harper this morning, and she thinks she figured out why he’s immune.”
Thea turned her head sharply. “Really?”
“Yeah. Harper was with Daniel last night, and he couldn’t hear her whisper or something,” Gemma said, almost reluctantly telling Thea the story. “Five years ago, he was in an accident, and it messed up his hearing. He’s not deaf, but certain octaves and tones are out of his range.”
“So he’s deaf to whatever makes the siren song enchanting,” Thea said. She sighed and pulled the hair tie out, making her red locks fall free.
“Are you going to tell Penn?” Gemma asked.
Thea looked at her for a long moment. “I should … but I won’t. And I advise you not to, also. If she hasn’t solved that mystery, it might keep her interested in staying in town.” She gave Gemma a knowing look. “That might keep you alive longer.”
“She told me she’s looking for a replacement.” That was the first time Gemma had said it aloud, and the reality of it hit her harder than she’d thought it would.