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Lost

Chapter Ten

Come Saturday, Lysander was determined to get back to life as he knew it. At least, as much as he could given his lack of mother and sister. So when he awoke bright and early as the sun began to rise on what he knew was going to be both a busy and an interesting day, Lysander pulled on his old track uniform and his favourite pair of runners, pocketed the spare key that his father had given him and made his way downstairs. Knowing that Zacky and Gena were both still fast asleep, he opted instead for leaving a note in clear display on the kitchen counter. Gone running, it simply said. Won’t be gone long.

Ichabod and Majesty both looked in at him from the back patio. He considered for a moment bringing one or both of them along with him, but wasn’t certain about how well they were trained. Deciding that he would rather not risk losing either one of them, he smiled apologetically their way and headed towards the front of the house.

He slipped outside and locked the door behind him, unwilling to leave it unlocked even a moment longer than it needed to be. He made his way down onto the grass by the footpath, where he did the routine stretches that his coach had always made him do before a big race. He and the rest of the track team had often complained about them, but he knew they were necessary. And so he did them, taking the time to figure out the route that he was going to take. There were only so many directions that he could go in without the fear of getting lost, so he mapped them out in his mind and created a path for himself.

And then he ran.

He hadn’t been on a morning run since before his mother had been murdered, and he had missed it terribly. He’d missed the feel of the wind in his hair; he’d missed the burn of his calf muscles as he pushed himself to go faster, faster! But most of all he’d missed the feeling of being free, of knowing that nothing and nobody could hold him back or tie him down. This was why he ran.

He turned a corner and raced down the block. There were very few people walking the streets at this hour, but those who were turned to look at him as he passed. A manic grin crossed his face when he ran past a man who shouted “Run, Forrest, run!” after him, encouraging him to push himself all the more. He darted around another corner, narrowly missed colliding with a man who had just stepped out from his front gate, and headed towards the park at the end of the street.

Without his watch, there was no way for Lysander to know how quick he had made the journey, but the protesting of his calves convinced him that it must have been pretty fast. He slowed to a gradual stop on the grass still wet with early morning dew and gave himself a moment to take in the sight before him.

Attached to every blade of grass in the park, there was at least a single dewdrop. The sunlight glittered in every last one of them as it rose higher and higher into the sky, giving Lysander the impression that he was looking out at a sea of gems instead of just a park filled with grass that was in desperate need of a cut. This was a familiar sight, even though it was the first time he had set foot in this specific park. Dew was the same wherever you went; so were the rays of the sun.

He breathed in the early morning air, the scent of the not-so-distant beach. That was something different. Something that was going to take some getting used to. Lysander had never been to the beach before – had never had the opportunity to swim in the infinite ocean. And now it was right there on his doorstep. He considered for a moment just returning home, but he knew it would be a while still before either Zacky or Gena crawled out of bed. He had time. Why not put it to good use?

He jogged this time, deciding against a flat-out run as he headed for the Pacific Coast Highway. There were more people out down this way – other joggers, people going to weekend jobs, and early risers simply heading down to the beach for a day of fun – but he didn’t recognise any of them, and he found himself oddly grateful for it. Back home, he would have known almost everybody that he passed. But here, today, he was glad for the moment of peace. He needed the time alone.

Despite there already being a number of people strewn across the sand and sea, the beach was as tranquil as Lysander had expected it to be. Taking the lead from others around him, he tugged his sneakers and socks off and allowed his feet to sink into the loose sand beneath him. It felt strange and cool between his toes, not at all as uncomfortable as he had believed it would be. Coupled with the sound of the waves pulling in and out and the sun warming his bare arms, he felt that he could have stood there all day and been perfectly content. Perhaps trading snow for sand wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.

He closed his eyes and breathed deeply.

The salt on the breeze was more prominent than he had anticipated, and it took him by surprise. It was a nice surprise, though. He committed the scent to memory, marking it as it was – the coastline; Huntington Beach; the smell of his new home.

“Aren’t you Zacky Vee’s son?”

Lysander’s eyes snapped open at the question. It was probably the last thing that he had expected to hear, and for a moment he had to wonder at whether or not he had imagined it. But there was the source of the voice not five steps to his left – a girl a few years his senior, wearing a fluorescent green bikini and a curious expression. She smiled widely when their eyes met. Lysander was so stunned by the intensity of her gaze that he almost took a step back.

“Oh my God, it is you!” she gushed. “I had no idea you were in California!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Lysander said.

It was the first thing that had come to mind, right before he had thought back to the message that Zacky had posted to the world. He had said he wasn’t ready for people to know about him, and Zacky had respected that. He hadn’t told anybody. Lysander knew that he still wouldn’t have. So how did this girl know who he was? His mouth was suddenly uncomfortably dry.

“You’re Dakota’s brother,” the girl went on. She nodded enthusiastically, as if she was trying to convince herself as much as she was trying to convince him. “You guys are twins, right? That’s what the captions said.”

“What captions?”

“On the photos. The ones on her 6dgrz.”

Lysander didn’t have an account of his own on the social networking site, so he wasn’t aware of every little thing that his sister had posted to hers. But he knew that she had photos of him, photos of the pair of them together, and she loved him as much as he loved her. It was highly likely that she had posted these pictures to her account for all her friends to see. For all the fans of her videos to see. And now, for all the world to see.

He felt ill at the thought.

“What’s it like?” she asked. She didn’t bother trying to hide the eagerness in her voice. “What’s he like?”

“I have to go,” Lysander told her briskly. “I’m sorry, but I... I’m gonna be late for something.”

The look on her face before he turned away was one of disappointment, but he forced himself to ignore it as he ran back towards the highway. He hated knowing that he was running from an issue instead of facing it, but this was one that he wasn’t ready to tackle just yet. To do that, he’d need to face more than just that one girl. Suddenly he found himself looking at the people who passed him by more closely. Did they know?

He made his way back into the house without a second thought as he reached it, and immediately felt bad when he realised that he was getting sand all over the marble tiles of the foyer. He hadn’t bothered to put his shoes back on after leaving the beach. His feet would be paying for that now, he knew, but he found that he hardly cared. They had been put through worse, after all.

He was careful not to make a sound as he headed back up the stairs, first depositing his sneakers in his room and then heading on to the bathroom. A shower would help him clear his head. And he was going to need a clear head to get through the rest of the day. He had an entire family to meet – something that he wasn’t particularly looking forward to, but it was something that he knew he needed to do.

Thankfully, neither Zacky nor Gena emerged from their room until ten that morning, by which time Lysander had pushed the morning’s meeting with the girl to the back of his mind for a later time. He smiled widely at the two adults, determined to ensure that they wouldn’t know there was anything bothering him, and managed to keep himself occupied for the hour longer that it took them to get ready to leave. By the time they were in Zacky’s car on the way to Brian’s house, he had complete control of his thoughts.

Brian’s house was exactly as Lysander had expected it to be – as grand as Zacky’s, spacious and open, but also child-proofed for the benefit of his baby daughter. She was the first new face that he saw when the door was opened to the trio. She squirmed gleefully in her mother’s arms, evidently thrilled by all the people showing up at her house.

“Hey, guys,” the older woman had greeted them, a genuine smile crossing her face as she opened the door wider to grant them access. “Glad you could make it.”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Gena said as she stepped inside. She was quick to take the squirming child from her friend’s arms. “I could never pass up a chance to see this little darling!”

Zacky motioned for Lysander to go on in ahead of him. Lysander did, smiling politely at Brian’s wife as he passed her. Zacky gave the blonde a swift peck on the cheek by way of greeting.

“Good to see you, Mich,” he said earnestly as she shut the door behind him. “Not late, are we?”

“Of course not. Matt and Val are the only others here.”

Matt. Lysander felt a twinge of relief at the sound of the man’s name. He liked Matt, had come to be comfortable around him in the short amount of time they had been together on the boy’s first day in California. And it would be a relief to have another familiar face around. So far, Matt and Brian’s wives were the only ones he didn’t know. Them, and the bouncing baby in Gena’s arms. Maybe today wouldn’t be as bad as he had anticipated.

Zacky placed a hand on his shoulder, and Lysander straightened at once.

“This is my son,” his father introduced him. “Lysander.” To Lysander he said, “This is Brian’s wife, Michelle.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs Haner.”

“Michelle,” she corrected him as a smile graced her lips. “Please. We’re all family here.”

He nodded, unsure of what to say to that.

“And this is Harmony,” she added, gesturing to the child in Gena’s arms. “My pride and joy.”

Lysander looked to the tot just in time to see her attempt to shove her entire fist into her mouth.

“Takes after her father,” Zacky chuckled.

She did, Lysander had to admit, though for different reasons than what Zacky was implying. Harmony had the same hazel eyes that he remembered Brian having, and the same rounded nose. He smiled at her. She giggled right back at him.

With one hand still on his shoulder, Zacky led Lysander out to the back of the house. A set of French doors provided access to a wide timber deck where Matt, Brian and a woman who could only be Matt’s wife were already seated. He had to take a second look when he caught sight of the brunette. She looked so much like Michelle that for a moment he almost believed that the two women were one and the same, despite their differing hair colours.

Sisters, Dakota’s voice rang through his mind. He recalled her telling him once that the singer and the lead guitarist had married twins.

He fixed his eyes on Mrs Sanders as she did the same to him. He took her in easily, since it felt like he had already done so – the two sisters had the same piercing brown eyes, the same full, smiling lips. Their differences were more easily noticed when Michelle took a seat right beside her sister – Michelle had the slightly narrower face; her sister seemed to smile wider. Even without the obvious difference in hair colours, there wouldn’t have been an issue in telling them apart.

Matt and Brian both smiled and greeted Lysander warmly, the former going as far as to add, “It’s nice to see you again.” He smiled back at the pair of them. Matt’s wife stood to greet him before his father had the chance to introduce him, taking his hand in much the same way that her husband had the first time that Lysander had faced him. Her shake was steady, firm. Her smile was friendly.

“Valery,” she introduced herself. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

“Lysander,” he replied. He was getting sick of hearing the sound of his own name.

He took the single vacant seat beside Brian, leaving the two on the other side of the deck to be occupied by his father and Gena. Zacky let him go with a proud sort of smile that Lysander didn’t feel he deserved.

For the most part he listened to the adults chatter away with each other, only speaking when it was necessary or he was needed for another introduction. The day became a steady stream of names that he was supposed to remember: the band’s bassist Johnny and his wife Lacey, their drummer Arin, a second set of twins who went by Jason and Matt Berry. They all blurred together eventually and Lysander found himself forgetting the names almost the second that he was told them.

The last people to arrive at the party were Brian’s family. It was easy to remember his father’s name, as it was something that the two of them shared, but the step-mother and the younger brother’s names were lost on Lysander almost immediately after they introduced themselves to him and wandered off to say hello to everybody else. The party was spread out all around the backyard now, but Lysander found himself still seated in the same place he had been right from the start. Only now, he was alone.

“Hey.”

He looked up, preparing himself for yet another introduction. This, he hoped, would be the last for the day. The girl smiled down at him, as if she knew exactly what he was thinking. In one arm she held little Harmony, and with the other she held out her fist to him. For a moment he could do nothing but stare at it curiously, but then he realised it was her form of a greeting. He bumped his own fist against hers lightly, feeling like an idiot. It must have shown on his face, because she chuckled.

“It’s Lysander, right?” she asked, a smile tugging at her lips. He nodded. “Awesome. I’m McKenna.”

“McKenna,” he repeated, and the name struck a chord within him. He knew of her. “Brian’s half-sister, right?”

“That I am. It seems our reputations precede us both.”

Now that he’d had it confirmed, he almost recognised the girl. He’d been quite familiar with her face three or so years ago, when Dakota had tried in vain to contact her through Facebook in an attempt to get in touch with their father, but she had changed quite a bit since then. She was maybe eighteen now, and her once neon purple hair had returned to a natural light brown, though it still had the odd blue streak or two. Something that Harmony found highly amusing.

“Any particular reason you’re sitting all the way over here when the party’s obviously moved over there?”

“It’s not my sort of crowd.”

“Come with us, then,” McKenna said, nodding her head back towards the house. “Harm and I are going to watch a movie. Aren’t we, munchkin?”

Harmony grabbed a fistful of her hair in response.

Lysander didn’t need to think too hard about what he would do. The party was in full swing around them, with most people drinking and just about everybody caught up in some conversation or another. It was obvious that they were going to be there for a while. Having no desire to sit alone for the entire afternoon, and not wanting to attempt injecting himself into any of their conversations, he quickly agreed to McKenna’s proposition.

He followed her back into the house. She led the way to the living room, only two away from the one that led out onto the back deck. She set her niece down on the floor before moving to the entertainment system to put a movie in; Lysander couldn’t help a chuckle as Harmony scooted closer to the widescreen and squealed with delight as the menu screen for The Little Mermaid popped up.

“One of her favourites,” McKenna said apologetically as she pressed play and dropped down onto one of the couches. “You can sit, y’know?”

He did just that, taking a seat at the opposite end of the couch so that McKenna had room to kick her shoes off and stretch her legs out between them. Despite being three years his senior, she was a few inches shorter than his 5’7” – only just tall enough for her toes to scrape his knees if she tried hard enough.

She paid little attention to the movie she had put on for Harmony’s benefit, taking instead to striking up conversation with Lysander. He didn’t mind in the slightest. It was nice to have somebody closer to his own age to talk to, and she was so easy to be around that he quickly forgot that the two of them hardly knew each other. It was like being with an old friend. It was like hanging out with Dakota.

“How do you like the family so far?”

“They all seem nice enough,” Lysander said without needing another moment of thought. “Matt and Brian are both great. But I don’t know anybody else, really. Today’s my first time meeting them all.”

“What about Zacky and Gena? Are they what you expected?”

“Zacky’s not,” Lysander admitted. He frowned as he thought back to the days leading up to his first meeting with his rockstar father. “I thought he was gonna be a stuck-up rich man. I thought he was gonna hate me. But he turned out to be a decent guy, so that was great.” He was silent for a moment before adding, “I never really thought about Gena before coming here. She’s nice, but...I don’t think she likes me too much.”

McKenna didn’t say anything to that, for which Lysander was grateful. As lovely as he knew his step-mother was, he didn’t want to hear anybody defending the way that they thought she must feel about him. That was something that only Gena would ever be able to prove to him. They were going to need to work out their relationship on their own.

“So what’re you doing inside?” he asked her, changing the subject abruptly. “Not in a partying mood?”

“I’m grounded,” she admitted with a grimace. “Mom and Dad dragged me along so they could keep an eye on me, and so I could babysit while they all get drunk. Not that I really mind. I love my family, and I love babysitting Harmony, but my band and I were supposed to be recording today.”

Lysander couldn’t help a smile at that. She sounded whiney, and the playful pout that she sent him soon after said that she knew it.

“What’d you get grounded for?”

“I borrowed Dad’s car. ...without asking.”

At this, he laughed outright. These were the sorts of things that happened in television shows and clichéd novels, not in real life – and yet here was McKenna, telling him that she had done just that.

“Yeah, that’ll do it...”

She grinned at him; he grinned right back. And just like that, he knew he’d made a new friend.

Comments

I read this here, I read this at Mibba. I'm just obsessed with this story! I love it!
Nia_Flores Nia_Flores
4/8/13
Update! Soon! Please!
I can't help reading this twice. I love it! LOVE IT!!!
Nia_Flores Nia_Flores
3/13/13
I read this on Mibba & I re-read it here! It's really great.
Nia_Flores Nia_Flores
2/18/13
Update soon or i will DIE