Tidal / Page 10

Page 10


“Would you care to join us onstage, please?” Tom asked.

She was on her feet in an instant. “Yes. I’m coming.” As she slid past Gemma out toward the aisle, she said, “Told you I was used to being Bianca.”

Thea went up onto the stage, apologizing for not coming sooner, and Gemma realized that Thea really did care about this part. The only time Thea had appeared even remotely happy since Gemma had met her was when she was onstage, and there was something captivating about her. Even though she was just running lines with Aiden, who usually missed his cue and fumbled his words, it was hard for Gemma to take her eyes off Thea.

In fact, she was so entranced by Thea’s performance that she didn’t notice that Penn had sat down in the row behind her. Not until Penn leaned forward on the back of the seat next to her and spoke.

“What is Daniel doing hiding way in the back while Thea hogs the stage?” Penn asked, and Gemma jumped. Penn laughed, loudly enough to cause everyone to look back at her. “Did I frighten you?”

“You know it takes more than the sound of your voice to frighten me,” Gemma said, giving her a thin smile.

“You say that, but we both know the truth, don’t we?” Penn asked and winked at her. “And you didn’t answer my question.”

“Daniel’s building the sets.” Gemma sat back in the seat. She’d been leaning forward as she watched Thea’s performance, but she knew Penn wouldn’t let Gemma be interested in anything other than her.

“That’s dumb.” Penn looked genuinely disgusted by this fact and watched him as he walked across the stage, disappearing behind the curtains as he exited stage right. “He should be starring in it. He’s way better-looking than that loser up there.”

She pointed to Aiden, who Gemma had already realized wasn’t the best actor in the world, but he was definitely hot. He had sandy blond hair, blue eyes, and a bright smile. But apparently Daniel’s unshaven look and hazel eyes appealed to Penn more.

Gemma knew that wasn’t exactly the case—it wasn’t so much about the way Daniel looked. He may have been attractive in his own right, but Penn’s interest stemmed from the fact that he was immune to her siren song. So he talked back to her, he challenged her, he formed his own opinions.

And after spending centuries being unable to have a real conversation with a guy, it was no wonder that Penn found Daniel incredibly fascinating.

“I don’t think it matters to Daniel whether he’s good-looking or not,” Gemma said. “He doesn’t like acting. He wanted to work on the sets.”

Penn scoffed. “That’s ridiculous. I thought he was acting in this thing. I didn’t know he was just building the damn sets. I’m starting to think he’s an idiot.”

“Because he’s good at carpentry?” Gemma asked.

“No, yesterday I offered him ten thousand dollars to build a fence around my house, but he turned me down because he was working on this play,” Penn said. “If he was acting, that makes sense. But I can’t imagine they’re paying him anything close to that.”

“Where did you get ten thousand dollars?” Gemma asked, glancing over her shoulder. “You don’t work.” Penn shrugged and didn’t answer her. “And that’s not even your house. That’s somebody else’s house you conned them out of.”

“I live there now, so it’s mine,” Penn said simply.

“I don’t even know why you want to spend time with Daniel.” Gemma turned around and crossed her arms over her chest. “He’s not that great.”

“I don’t want to spend time with him. I’m just trying to find out what’s going on with him. That’s all.”

“This whole siren thing has turned you into a terrible liar,” Gemma said. “You fall back on that song and your voice, so you don’t even try to be convincing anymore.”

Penn turned to face her, glaring at her with dark eyes. “Gemma. Shut up. You’re annoying.” She paused before leaning forward and whispering in her ear, “I’m already looking for your replacement. It’s only a matter of time before you’re dead.”

Her heart pounded dully in her chest as Penn confirmed Gemma’s worst suspicions. A few moments ago she’d told Thea she would try to get along with Penn, but she’d already known it was futile. No amount of ass-kissing would change the fact that Penn wanted her dead and gone.

“Why are you even here?” Gemma asked, ignoring Penn’s threat.

“I’m here to pick up Thea. I dropped her off for practice, and I’m supposed to take her home.”

“Practice doesn’t end for another half hour, and that’s assuming it doesn’t run late.”

Penn let out a long, irritated groan. “Whatever. I’m going to wait outside for Thea.” She stood up. “Because you’re horrible, and I kinda hate you.”

“I know. The feeling’s mutual.”

Once Penn was gone, Gemma sank in the seat and rubbed her forehead. Mouthing off to Penn wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but it was hard to stop. Besides that, Penn would probably kill her either way, and at least right now Penn seemed too preoccupied to care that much.

That should’ve been a good thing, except that Gemma knew what was distracting her. Penn had her eyes set on Harper’s boyfriend.

FIVE

Distractions

Penn sat in the cherry-red ’67 Cadillac convertible across the street from the Paramount Theater, waiting for her sister. She’d left the top down hoping for a breeze, but it didn’t do much to battle the heat. The sun was starting to go down, and it was cooling off very slowly.

It wouldn’t be so bad if she could at least figure out how to use her iPhone. There was supposed to be some game with violent birds that was addicting, but she had enough trouble turning the damn thing on, let alone flicking poultry at pigs.

She could master the language, the slang, the fashion, even the ever-changing roles of women in society. But technology continued to baffle her. Driving a car and changing the channel were about the best she could do.

Part of that was because it all changed so quickly. It wasn’t that long ago that computers were the size of rooms, and now one fit in the palm of her hand. In her lifetime, it felt like a blink of an eye.

The rest of it was simply that she didn’t care to learn. Since the moment she’d become a siren who could enchant people to do her bidding, she’d surrounded herself with servants. As a mortal, she’d been a servant herself, working as a handmaiden for the spoiled goddess Persephone, and she’d spent that entire time vowing she’d never do anything like that again.


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