Lost

Zacky Vengeance has just learned that he is father to fifteen-year-old twins Lysander and Dakota. As if this isn’t already complicated enough, they’ve just lost their mother, Dakota is missing and Lysander is none too pleased about having to leave his home – and his sister – behind in favour of moving to California. After the initial shock wears off, Zacky is determined to prove that he can be the father these kids need. But dealing with a boy who feels that he’s lost his entire world was never going to be easy. || Lysander Maverick never cared much for getting to know his father – that was always Dakota’s dream. But now Dakota is gone, taken by her mobster-wannabe ex-boyfriend, and Zacky just might be the key to having her returned safely. This thought is the only thing that Lysander has to hold on to as he’s uprooted from his home in Wisconsin, and he’s not letting it go. He needs Zacky to be the miracle he’s been asking for – the alternative is too unbearable to think about.

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2. Chapter Two

It was mid-afternoon by the time the plane touched down at John Wayne Airport.

 

Mrs Corte hadn’t said much on the trip, and that had suited Lysander just fine. He had spent the majority of the three-and-a-half hour journey staring out of the window, taking in the bird’s eye view with little enthusiasm. As far as he was concerned, California was nothing special. He would much rather be back home in Columbus, Wisconsin. At least there were people there that he could talk to. People who actually cared.

 

He couldn’t wait to escape the company of the lawyer. For days she had been pestering him, acting like she was his best friend in the world – telling him how much he was going to like his new home, telling him how excited everybody was to meet him. He had taken to only speaking to her when it was absolutely necessary, avoiding her like the plague the rest of the time. Where had this best friend persona been when he had needed her last week? She claimed to have his best interests at heart, but already he knew her better than that. The only person she cared about her was her client.

 

Lysander’s forever-absent father.

 

It wasn’t Zachary Baker’s fault that he hadn’t been around, though. Lysander knew this. His mother had told him as much when she had finally revealed the man’s name to him. It had been her choice to exclude the man from their lives, and Lysander had respected that. At least for the most part. There had been a few occasions where he and Dakota had gone to one of Zachary’s band’s shows, his sister in the hopes of being able to finally meet her father – and the rest of the band that she so adored. But it had never happened.

 

And now Dakota’s gone, Lysander reminded himself glumly. But that was why he was here.

 

He tapped his foot impatiently while they waited to be let out of the infernal machine. Somewhere out there, Zachary Baker waited. For days it had been all that Lysander could think about; Zachary Baker was a famous musician, and had been for almost as long as Lysander had been alive – and if that told him anything, it was that the man had money. More money than the Columbus Police Department would have been willing to put into finding Dakota. Hopefully enough to have her safely returned.

 

Lysander grabbed his backpack and quickly checked his pockets before they finally departed the aircraft, needing to be sure that Dakota’s iPod was still there. It was, safely in the right pocket of his jeans where he had stuffed it. He kept his hand wrapped around it firmly as he followed Mrs Corte down the airstairs and into the terminal, keeping close so as not to lose sight of her.  The woman strolled through the building with a sense of purpose, looking every bit the success that she claimed to be. Lysander couldn’t help feeling awkward as he followed along in her shadow, the teenage boy who was really only there because he had to be. He wondered if it showed.

 

Baggage claim was quick and easy considering that they only had a suitcase each that they needed to grab; the single piece of luggage had been all that Mrs Corte had taken with her to Wisconsin, and all of Lysander’s other belongings had been delivered to his father’s house by road. He dragged the thing along behind him as Mrs Corte led him further along, straight towards the exit.

 

“He’s meeting us in the car park,” she told him, to which he only nodded. “Are you excited?”

 

He had been, though for reasons different to those she was probably assuming. But now that he could see the doors that would take them out to the car park, there was a different feeling within him. He shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other, trying to dislodge the feeling in his stomach. He’d had nothing but his sister on his mind, but it hit him now exactly what he was about to do. He was about to meet his father for the first time – and despite having never cared for it before, the nerves were eating at his insides.

 

For Dakota, he reminded himself. And he nodded.

 

They stepped out into the spring sunshine. Mrs Corte was ready for it and promptly pulled a pair of flashy sunglasses out of her purse. Lysander wasn’t so lucky; he brought a hand up to shield his eyes, cursing the fact that he hadn’t thought this far ahead. His own pair of sunglasses – a pair that had cost him five dollars at a local reject shop – were packed away in a box somewhere, probably already waiting for him in Zachary Baker’s house. They both stopped, and he glanced around the car park, looking for any sign of the man.

 

The lawyer was already pushing buttons on her phone by the time he looked back at her. She gave him a little smile before putting it to her ear; there were several seconds of silence while she waited for somebody to answer on the other end, and then she smiled.

 

“Zack, darling, we’re here. Where are you parked?”

 

Lysander shifted the weight of his backpack from one shoulder to the other. Still on the phone, Mrs Corte began to walk again. He trailed along behind her, still dragging his suitcase, and tried not to let his nerves get the best of him. This was it. There was no going back now. Every step they took brought him closer to the man, his final hope.

 

“Oh, there you are! Be there in a second.”

 

Mrs Corte ended her call. For Lysander’s benefit, she gestured across the car park a short distance, to where two men stood beside a shiny black BMW. He recognised both men at once, despite never having met either one of them. Dakota had drilled their faces and their names into his head enough times that he couldn’t have forgotten them if he’d wanted to.

 

Matthew Sanders was leaning against the driver’s door, arms crossed firmly over his chest. He looked exactly as he did in almost every picture Lysander had ever seen of him – his tattooed arms were fully visible thanks to the sleeveless shirt that he was wearing, and he donned a pair of aviators to protect his eyes against the glaring sun. He shook his head at the man pacing in front of him, a tiny smile gracing his lips. It looked out of place on such an intimidating man.

 

Zachary Baker paced back and forth in front of his friend, a half-smoked cigarette in one hand while the other stuffed his own phone back into his pocket. The closer they got to the man, the harder Lysander found it to look away. It wasn’t like he had never seen the man before – he had been to the shows with Dakota and she had the posters plastered all over her bedroom walls – but it was different this time. It was different, because this time Zachary knew who he was, too. Five feet away from him, Lysander stopped.

 

The man turned and looked up.

 

He wasn’t as tall as Lysander had expected – there was maybe an inch of difference between them, with Zachary being the taller of the two. He had as many tattoos as Matthew, stretching from his shoulders right down onto his fingers, and he wore a pair of sunglasses tinted so dark that Lysander had to wonder at whether he could see out of them or not. As if he could sense what the younger boy was thinking, Zachary removed his sunglasses and their eyes met – jade green to steel blue.

 

“This is Matthew Sanders and Zachary Baker,” Mrs Corte told Lysander, and for the first time he was grateful to have her there with him. She turned to the two men then and said, “Boys, this is Lysander Maverick.”

 

Zachary went on staring, to the point that Lysander began to grow increasingly uncomfortable. Matthew stepped forward instead, offering his hand in greeting. After a moment of hesitation, Lysander shook it.

 

“Matt,” the man introduced himself.

 

“Lysander.”

 

“You’ve got quite a firm hand there, Lysander.” He gave the boy a reassuring smile, and all thoughts that Lysander had of Matt being intimidating vanished in an instant. “Don’t mind Zacky there. He’s still in shock over all of this.”

 

Lysander nodded.

 

Matt stepped aside, leaving him with a decent view of Zacky – his father – once again. Finally, Zacky stepped forward. There was less than four feet of distance between them now. There was a moment in which neither of them moved but then, much like Matt had done, Zacky extended his hand. After another second of hesitation, Lysander grasped it.

 

Dakota had always dreamed of this moment. She liked to talk of how there would be a spark of electricity when their hands touched, and how Zacky would suddenly realise that yes, they were his children. And he would pull them both into a hug that would last an eternity, before both he and their mother fell in love and they all lived happily ever after. But there was no spark of electricity, and Zacky most certainly didn’t make any move to hug his son – and he would never fall in love with the boy’s mother, because she was gone. Dead, Lysander had to remind himself. His mother was dead.

 

“Hi,” Zacky said, then cleared his throat uncomfortably. “It’s, ah… It’s nice to finally meet you.”

 

“Likewise.”

 

“And I’m…really sorry about your mother.”

 

Again, Lysander nodded. There was nothing to say to it, really. There was a curiosity that burned in Zacky’s eyes, but he didn’t push the subject any further. He dropped Lysander’s hand just as Matt spoke up.

 

“Should we get out of here, then?”

 

It was quickly agreed that they should. Matt took both suitcases and packed them into the trunk of the car, gesturing for Mrs Corte and Lysander to go ahead and get in. Lysander climbed in behind the front passenger seat, glad to find himself in a position where Zacky couldn’t turn and stare at him for the duration of the trip. Mrs Corte sat across from him, behind the driver’s seat, and sent him a reassuring smile every time he looked her way. For the first time, he returned it in earnest.

 

The drive away from the airport was a short one. It took them no more than twenty-five minutes before Matt had them parked outside of a colossal house, so grand that Lysander hardly dared to believe that it was real. There was nothing like it in Columbus, or in any of the surrounding areas – it was easily three times the size of any house that he had ever lived in, and that was only if you disregarded the second storey; it was like something he had only ever seen in the movies, something that he had come to believe only existed in Hollywood, if anywhere at all. He had expected something fancy, but still it managed to stun him.

 

Everybody else had already climbed out of the car. He could see Zacky waiting for him, looking as lost as Lysander still felt, and decided not to let him suffer any longer. He climbed out of the car and joined his father, who motioned up to the house as if to ask, “Well, what do you think?”

 

“It’s…big,” Lysander said, unsure of how else to put into words what he felt about the place. “Do you live here alone?”

 

“No, not alone,” Zacky replied. “I live with my wife, and our two dogs.”

 

“Oh, right. Dakota told me you were married. I should have realised.”

 

“Dakota? Your girlfriend?”

 

“My sister.”

 

“You have a sister?”

 

Lysander looked to the man curiously; the look on Zacky’s face told him all that he needed to know. His heart sank. Here he was hoping to be able to save his sister, and their father didn’t even know that she existed.  He turned his attention to the lawyer, who had been standing just a few feet away the entire time. Her smile had been replaced by a frown. He had to resist the urge to swing his backpack at her head.

 

“You didn’t tell him?” he demanded of her. “Why the hell not?”

 

“I think it’s something better explained in person, don’t you?”

 

Matt, who had busied himself with retrieving Lysander’s suitcase from the trunk of the car, watched their exchange with interest. His eyes fixed onto the lawyer.

 

“You been keeping something from us, Maria?”

 

“I have,” she admitted. “Why don’t we go inside so I can finish explaining, hmm?”

 

After a moment, Zacky nodded. He pulled a set of keys from his pocket as he headed for the door. Mrs Corte followed after him. Lysander turned back to Matt and gestured to the suitcase.

 

“I can take that.”

 

“I’ve got it,” Matt assured him. He nodded towards the door. “Get in there, kid.”

 

Lysander obeyed. Despite the outside of the house looking like something out of a dream, the interior was rather homey. It was still big, and it still didn’t look like anywhere that he had lived before, but it was warm and welcoming and that was what mattered. Matt deposited the suitcase at the bottom of the nearby staircase and gestured for Lysander to follow him. The boy dropped his backpack down next to it and then did just that, grateful for his guide.

 

Matt led him through an expensive looking living room and straight into the most spacious kitchen that Lysander had ever laid eyes on, where Mrs Corte was already making herself at home. Zacky was producing drinks from the fridge when Matt led the boy over, gesturing for him to take a seat. He did, accepting the bottle of water that Zacky gave him with a small smile that the man returned. It wasn’t until both Matt and Zacky had taken their seats across from Lysander and the lawyer that the woman spoke, at first to Lysander.

 

“Are you going to be alright to hear this?” she asked.

 

He nodded to show that he would be. He had lived through it, after all. Nothing that she could say would be any worse than having gone through it all personally.

 

“Alright.” Mrs Corte returned her attention to the two men in front of them. “The first thing that you need to know is Samantha – his mother – didn’t die from natural causes. There was an accident.”

 

“She was murdered,” Lysander corrected her.

 

“Murdered?” Zacky repeated, stunned. “Jesus. I didn’t even think…” He ran a hand through his hair, shooting a sympathetic look Lysander’s way. “Did they catch whoever did it?”

 

“No,” Lysander said before the lawyer could speak. “And they won’t, because they haven’t got enough evidence to tie him to the murder.”

 

Matt and Zacky shared a look.

 

“Him?”

 

“Jacob Alfonzo.”

 

A silence fell between them all, tense and uncomfortable. Zacky looked to his lawyer questioningly, and she only shook her head before responding.

 

“There’s no proof that he did anything,” she explained to the two men. “It’s just Lysander’s word.”

 

“Why do you think it was Jacob Alfonzo?” Matt asked calmly, his attention completely on Lysander. “Did he have a grudge against your mother?”

 

“No,” Lysander admitted. “It was Dakota he had the grudge against. She dumped him in August, and he could never quite get it through his thick head. He was always trying to get her back.”

 

“And where’s Dakota now?”

 

“He took her.”

 

“She’s missing,” Mrs Corte amended. “She went missing the night that their mother was murdered. She was still at home when her friend called her at around seven, but by the time Lysander got home she was gone, and Samantha was dead.”

 

Lysander thought back on this. He could recall every second of that night in great detail, from the way he had counted the three front steps as he had climbed them to the way he had found his mother on the kitchen floor with her neck bent at an impossible angle. There had been an oil spill near her, and at first he had believed she’d slipped. But then he had seen Dakota’s room.

 

“So what are the police saying?” Matt asked.

 

“The mother slipped and broke her neck,” Mrs Corte replied, glancing at Lysander briefly as she did. “That’s the official report there. The girl they’re not so sure about. It’s likely that she saw her mother, panicked and ran off.”

 

“She wouldn’t do that,” Lysander cut in with a growl, but Mrs Corte simply went on speaking.

 

“They’ve got police monitoring the house in case she comes back, and they’ve got the entire area on the lookout for her.” She looked to Zacky. “She’s yours, too. They’re twins.”

 

Understandably, Zacky was stunned.

 

Matt wore the same look of surprise, but managed to compose himself quickly. Lysander admired the man for it. Zacky ran another hand through his hair, looking as if he might be sick at any moment. His eyes locked onto Lysander’s again.

 

“There are two of you.”

 

It was a statement, not a question. Despite this, Lysander nodded. He could almost see the cogs in Zacky’s head turning, processing the fact that he had not one, but two children all of a sudden.

 

“And she’s missing?”

 

“No,” Lysander cut in before the lawyer could speak again, “she was taken.”

 

“Taken.”

 

There was no way for Lysander to get a reading on whether or not Zacky believed him, because the man still looked like he was having a hard enough time believing that he had a daughter at all. He hated having to push the man even more, but this was the reason he had reluctantly agreed to come to California in the first place.

 

“Taken,” he repeated, keeping his gazed locked directly onto Zacky. “By her ex-boyfriend, Jacob Alfonzo. I don’t know where he’s taken her, and I don’t know what he’s going to do to her. Please.” His voice cracked as he said it, and he had to clench his fists and remind himself that he was stronger than that. He wouldn’t cry over this. “Please,” he said again, calmer this time. “She’s my sister. My twin. I can’t lose her.

 

“I need you to help me get her back.”

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