“Have you talked to Alex lately?” Gemma asked, her eyes still glued to Alex’s house, even though he’d already disappeared inside.
“What?” Harper asked. “Why?”
“He’s just getting home,” Gemma said. “And he doesn’t look so great.”
“Yeah, um…” Harper sighed. “I think he crashed at Daniel’s last night.”
“Why?” Gemma finally pulled her eyes away from the house and faced her sister. “Are they hanging out or something?”
“Well. Kinda.” Harper lowered her eyes. “No, not really. Alex … We ran into him last night, and he was getting thrown out of a bar.”
“Alex?” Marcy asked with genuine surprise. “Geeky next-door Alex?”
Gemma shook her head. “Alex doesn’t drink.”
“He was last night,” Harper said.
“Well, did you talk to him?” Gemma asked. “What did he say? Is he okay?”
“Not really, Gemma,” Harper admitted. “I was thinking about not telling you, but … whatever you did to protect him, it’s really messing him up. He knows he’s supposed to love you, and he says it’s like a part of him is missing.”
Gemma didn’t say anything. She just turned and stared out the window again. Alex’s bedroom window was right across from Harper’s, but his shade was pulled. Gemma didn’t even get a glimpse at what he was doing.
“Maybe you should talk to him,” Harper suggested quietly.
“I can’t,” Gemma said.
“He’s really hurting, and I think maybe you should consider undoing it.”
“I can’t, Harper,” Gemma said, more firmly this time. “I don’t think it’s possible even if I wanted to, and I don’t want to. It’s dangerous for him to be involved with me.”
“I know how you feel,” Harper said. “But if he knows the risks, you have to let him make the choice.”
“Just let it go.” Gemma shook her head and looked down at her can of soda. “I can’t talk about this right now.”
“Have you guys come up with alternate plans yet?” Marcy asked, changing the subject. She sat up straighter on the bed, crossing her legs underneath her.
“What do you mean?” Harper turned back to face her.
“The way I see it, there’s three possibilities to this scenario.” Marcy held up three fingers, then ticked them down one by one as she listed the options. “One, Gemma finds the scroll. Two, the sirens have hidden the scroll so well that no one can find it. Three, they don’t have the scroll.”
“Gemma hasn’t even had a chance to really look for the scroll yet,” Harper said quickly. “We can’t rule that out.”
Marcy shook her head. “I’m not saying rule it out. I’m saying look into other avenues.”
“That’s probably a good idea,” Gemma agreed. “But Lydia seemed to think they’d have the scroll. It’s important to their existence.”
“But maybe they left it with somebody they trusted more than themselves,” Marcy suggested.
“Like who?” Harper asked.
“When I leased my apartment, the landlord didn’t trust just me, so I had to have someone else put their name on it.” Marcy waited a beat for it to hit Gemma and Harper. “My parents.”
“You think the sirens’ parents are still alive?” Harper asked.
“I don’t know.” Gemma shook her head, thinking back to what Lexi had said. “I don’t think they are.”
“Aren’t their parents immortal?” Marcy asked.
“Their dad was, but I don’t really know about their mom,” Harper said. “I was a little confused on that.”
“Who is their mom?” Marcy asked.
“Um, a muse,” Gemma said, thinking. “Or two muses, actually. Thea and Penn have different mothers. I’m pretty sure the muses are immortal, too. Just not goddesses. So I think that in their regular life, pre-siren, Thea and Penn were mortal.”
“But both their parents were immortal, right?” Marcy said. “Wouldn’t the kids of immortals also be immortal?”
“No, I think in order to be born immortal, both your parents have to be gods and goddesses,” Gemma said. “Like how Hercules was mortal. And the muses were granted their immortality by Zeus as a blessing, so they couldn’t pass it on.”
“But their dad was a god?” Marcy asked, and Gemma nodded. “He’s definitely got to be alive, then.”
“Well, not definitely, but probably,” Harper agreed.
“I really don’t think he is.” Gemma shook her head.
“Why not?” Harper asked. “I know some of the books implied that Hercules killed him, but they also said that the sirens were dead, so I wouldn’t really give that much credence.”
“I know, it’s just…” Gemma trailed off. When she’d told Lexi she’d met Penn’s dad, Lexi had laughed and said he was dead, but she didn’t want to explain that to Harper. “It’s just a feeling I have.
“And anyway, even if he is alive, Penn really hates him,” Gemma went on. “And she didn’t have anything nice to say about her mother. After I first became a siren, Thea actually called the muses prostitutes.”