Chapter Sixteen

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California is everything that you ever said it would be.

Dad is amazing. I know I always said he would be some stuck-up rock star who probably wouldn't want anything to do with us, but I was wrong. He is a genuinely nice guy and he's been more helpful than I ever could have imagined—getting more detectives on your case, getting his entire fanbase involved—and I know that even if I try for the rest of my life, I'll never be able to repay him.

The rest of his band are great too, just like you said they would be. I really like Pat and Brendan. Dad doesn't know this, but Georgia told me how freaked out he was when he found out about us and how much Pat and Brendan helped him to prepare. How much they're still helping him. I won't say much more about any of them, because I want you to get to know them for yourself. There aren't words to describe them, anyway. They're just an amazing group of guys.

I'm still getting used to Georgia. She's not Mom. She never will be, and I know that she knows it, but she's trying her best. I can see that. And I appreciate it. She's a better person than most people give her credit for. We're getting to know each other slowly, and it's great. I thought maybe she would resent having me around, but she seems okay.

But these are all people that you already know about. I've made friends here in California. I didn't really expect to—and if I did, I never expected to get this close to them—but I have, and I'm excited for you to meet them.

Nobody could ever replace Kieran of course, but Jack has fast become my best friend around here. He took me under his wing on my first day at Huntington Beach High School and we've been friends ever since. He looks like a surfer, but don't get your hopes up. He doesn't play for your team. He gets bullied a lot for it, but we're dealing with that issue.

Then there's Eliza Beth. I don't know what it was about her that drew me in. I think maybe it's the fact that in some ways, she reminds me so much of you—you both dress the same way, listen to the same music. Sometimes she even looks like you, when I glimpse her at the right angle. She's sweet and she's kind, and she's beautiful, of course. She became my girlfriend this past weekend and for the first time since you went missing, I felt happy. Like I could be myself again for a little while.

It's weird not having you around. You'd think that we'd be used to being separated since we're fifteen already, but it's strange. I don't like not having you close by, even if it's just by phone. Maybe it's because Mom got ripped away at the same time, but I'm feeling a little separation anxiety setting in. I think that's why I'm writing this letter. I know you'll read it eventually, so it's my way of talking to you now.

You'd better not make fun of me for this.

Anyway. It's almost five-thirty, so I'm going out for a run. You'd better be found soon, sis.

Lysander got dressed, switching his pyjama bottoms for a pair of track pants and a sleeveless shirt. He pulled his sneakers out from their new home under the bed and shoved his feet into them quickly, eager to get out into the fresh morning air. His phone was stuffed into his pocket carelessly. He carried his usual note for Zack and Georgia as he made his way downstairs and dropped it on the kitchen counter where it could easily be found. A couple of stretches and then he was off, out on his morning run.

He felt like he was back into his old routine now. It was Wednesday and he had been out on a run every morning for the past week, with the exception of Sunday, after the party. He knew the paths well, knew how far he could run and still have time to make it back to the house in time to get ready for school, and he travelled them confidently. He decided to take his new favourite that morning, the one that led him down to the beach he'd finally braved again on Monday. A trip down to the sandy shores was exactly what he needed to start his day.

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