Chapter Four

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Lysander's new room was bigger than he had expected.

When he had lived in Columbus, he'd had a single bed that had taken up a quarter of his bedroom. Here in California, he had a king sized bed that took up little more than that. He had more furniture than he knew what to do with and an expensive looking rug that he was afraid to walk on. The walls were painted a pale blue, the window decked with a pair of heavy velvet curtains in sapphire. They had remained parted since Lysander had moved into the room and discovered that it faced west—the view of the sunset over the beach a few blocks away was too good to ever pass up. Two days in a row he had already watched it, and he was quite looking forward to the third.

Unfortunately, it was Monday—and even in California that meant school.

Zack had walked him to Huntington Beach High that morning only because he hadn't known the way and didn't trust himself enough to get there based on some roughly drawn out directions. It was surprisingly close to the house, so Lysander had assured the man that he would be fine to find his own way home. All he needed to do now was wait for the school day to end.

It was odd to go to a school where he didn't know a single person. Thanks to Dakota, he'd never had to do it. She'd always been somewhere close by, even if it wasn't in the same room. But now he was alone in the sea of students, left to find his way in a world where everybody already had their place. He had never missed Columbus High so much. He had never cared for the fact that he had been around the same kids for his entire schooling life, but he cared now. He wanted that security back. He wanted his old friends.

The only time he'd started a new school had been the transitions between elementary to middle school to high school. Having so many others start fresh with him had been a blessing. But it was mid-March now and he was the only new kid, which meant he was getting more than a few stares. It bothered him, but he kept his head high as he made his way between classes. He used the map that he'd been given rather than ask for directions; he did things his own way, just as he always had. A change of setting wasn't going to change who he was.

Even if it meant being late to a lot of classes.

He was the last one to arrive to his new English class. Most of the kids had their heads bent low and were furiously writing by then, though a few looked up in surprise as he entered the room. The teacher was quick to beckon him over, gesturing for him to be quiet. She looked to be in her early forties, and the sleek grey suit that she wore made her look overly professional. She held out a sheet of lined paper to him.

'Free writing,' she explained. 'For the next ten minutes, I want you to put pen to paper and just write. If you can't think of anything, write about your day. If you get stuck, keep repeating the last word until you think of something more. Go.'

Lysander made his way further into the room and took the first empty seat he found. He contemplated what he was going to write as he extracted a pen from his bag, but nothing immediately came to mind. A glance around the room showed every other student working, and he grimaced. Write about his day, the teacher had said. But his day so far hadn't been interesting.

His weekend, on the other hand...

I just met my father for the first time, he wrote. I never thought it would actually happen. Especially not like this. I'm not sure what to think. So far he seems nice, and he's helping with Dakota—and that's the only thing that matters, so I guess I can't complain. He's nothing like I thought he would be. I came here expecting a stuck-up alcoholic but instead got somebody responsible and...friendly. I guess it's true when they say never judge a book by its cover.

He felt like a girl writing in her diary. His friends would have laughed.

I miss my sister, he went on. It's going on three weeks now and there hasn't been any news. How hard could it be to have a cop follow Alfonso for a week and watch him? It would solve all of our damn problems. I doubt they've even checked his house. They're all convinced that they know my own sister better than I do. Idiots.

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