Chapter Twenty-Four

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He braced himself as Ethan Masters opened his mouth.

'There's this funny story about you going around the school,' the boy said. His eyes gleamed. 'Something about you having a twin.'

Lysander's heart skipped a beat.

No, he thought. No, no, no.

'A dead twin,' Masters clarified. The four boys flanking him chuckled. 'And a dead mother. There wouldn't be any truth to that, would there?'

So the staring had not been because of his break-up with Eliza Beth. All those whispers had not been people saying what a terrible boyfriend he must have been, but people discussing his personal life like they were entitled to it.

'Oh, but there's more,' Masters went on, louder now. And why wouldn't he speak louder when he was gaining an audience? 'They're saying you're the kid of a rock star! Or at least, that you're pretending to be. Guess you didn't want to be little orphan Maverick, huh?'

The thought that people all around him thought he was masquerading as a rock star's son made him sick; the knowledge that they all knew about his recently deceased sister made him want to die. None of them were supposed to know about Dakota. None of them were supposed to care that he was related to Zack. None of them were even supposed to think twice about his name when they heard it.

But now they did. His name was as well-known around the school as Zack's was to the music world.

And he knew, without a doubt, that this was all Eliza Beth's doing.

His anger was sudden and frightening.

'So what have you got to say for yourself, Maverick?' This from Masters, looking like all of his Christmases had come at once. 'Ready to confess to the world that you're a loser and a fraud?'

His fist went flying.

Nobody saw it coming. Lysander himself didn't realise that he had done it until Masters went flying backwards into his friends, arms outstretched and windmilling as they searched for purchase. There wasn't a person in attendance who didn't look stunned—Jack's eyes were as wide as saucers; Masters's friends stilled, looking to their leader for direction. Masters himself looked like he had never seen anybody fight back before.

And if nothing else, that was a victory to Lysander.

It took several seconds for Masters to recover, and by that time the students that had stopped to stare were already chuckling and forming a circle around their little scene. Jack looked like he was ready to run, and Lysander couldn't blame him. They both knew what the circle of students meant—there was a fight about to start and there was nobody around to stop it. And usually Lysander would have been on Jack's side here—he would have grabbed his friend and made a run for the nearest opening, intent on avoiding the fight and keeping in authority's good graces.

But not now. Now he welcomed the idea.

He stood tall as Masters righted himself and stepped forward. The boy's friends flew to flank him again, scowls back on their stupid faces and fists at the ready. But Lysander didn't care about them. It was Masters that he had his eyes on; it was Masters that took it upon himself to tease and torment everybody that crossed his path. It was Masters that had brought up his mother, and Dakota, and Zack, so it was Masters that he was going to take out his anger on.

The arsehole deserved it.

'You wanna fight, Maverick? Then bring it on!'

Prepared as he thought he was, Lysander wasn't quick enough to stop the boy when he lunged.

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