“I see.” Dad doesn’t look entirely convinced, but apparently he’s got some sort of strange affection for the academy’s golden boy. Still, I notice his attention move from Church to me, then Ranger, Micah, Tobias, Spencer … His eyes narrow slightly, and I flush from head to toe. “Remember boys: the words you present to the world tell a story. What you say is what society sees.”

“Wise advice from the wisest headmaster we’ve had in years,” Church agrees, reaching up to flick blond hair from his face like some sort of fairytale prince. “Well, we’ve taken up enough of your time today, Headmaster Carson. If you don’t mind, we’ll be heading back to the dormitory to prepare for a fantastical day of learning tomorrow.” I roll my eyes and, of course, that’s all Dad sees. Me. Being an asshole.

“I think that’s a good idea. Clearly, Charlotte’s had a long day already,” Dad quips, and I sigh. I’m not getting out of the house again tonight, am I? “Goodnight boys.” Archie moves forward, blocking my view of the Student Council, closes the back door, and locks it before he looks at me again. I’m prepared for some sort of lecture, some admonishment about half-truths or something. Instead, Dad just pats me on the head and moves down the hall.

My eyes narrow.

Not a good sign, not a good sign at all.

Like I said, I don’t trust the guy. Not one little bit.

The school is an uproar the next morning, news of the suicide spreading like wildfire. For the first time since I got to Connecticut, I actually feel like I belong here, like I’m not the loser outsider that everyone hates.

I sit with the Student Council at lunch as the gossip train takes off. The police might not be releasing the name of the student, but it doesn’t take a seasoned detective to see that Eugene Mathers is missing.

“I was right about the silver hair,” I say, enjoying one of the academy’s famous hot lunches. Their food really is good, but I’m not exactly looking forward to my required two weeks tending the chicken coops. Gross.

“That douchebag copied me back in ninth grade,” Spencer says, narrowing his eyes and reaching up to toss his pretty hair like he’s fully aware of how damn good it looks on him. “Claims it was just parallel thinking, but come on, let’s be real. You can do it first, or you can do it best, and when someone else does it first and best, you’d best just stay in your own lane.”

“God, do you hear yourself when you talk?” Micah asks, stretching his legs under the table and bumping one of mine with his foot. We exchange a look, but I can tell from his expression that he’s just playing with Spencer. He clearly loves the hell out of that boy.

“I just don’t understand who would kill Eugene or why,” Ranger muses, staring at his food with that razored dark hair of his hanging in his face. The whole emo persona makes a lot more sense now that I know him. Deep down, he’s still the little boy who’s missing his sister. “That’s what we need, to find a connection between Eugene and Jenica.”

“Easier said than done,” Spencer says, slapping palms with a passing student. I watch the exchange, but even knowing what he’s doing, it’s hard to catch any real evidence of it.

“Did you just sell that kid weed?” I ask, and Spence shrugs his shoulders before giving me one of those saucy little grins of his. Cocky asshole.

“Yeah, so?”

“But your family is richer than god. Why bother?”

“Public service. Somebody’s gotta do it. Would you really deny the students of Adamson the healing powers of pot?”

I raise an eyebrow.

“It’s supposed to make you dumb if you smoke it too much before your brain fully develops. I won’t argue that it’s medicinal, and extremely valuable, but like, for adults.”

“Okay, miss …” Spencer catches himself and trails off. “Mister goody two-shoes. Next time I pass around a blunt, you can decline and save those extra special brain cells of yours.”

“You’re a total dick,” I grumble, but my cheeks are flushing anyway. Tobias watches us and sighs, ruffling up his hair. He’s been watching me and Spencer all morning, rolling his eyes at me when I got tongue-tied at the sight of the jerkwad in his navy blue Adamson Academy uniform. Of course, they’re all handsome as hell in their blazers, matching slacks, and cream colored ties. Everyone wears loafers except for Ranger, who somehow gets away with combat boots most days.

“What’s the plan for today?” Ranger asks as Micah finishes his food, and then goes for his twin’s. Tobias stabs him in the hand with a fork. “I mean, besides kissing Spencer’s ass for still being alive.”

“I accept French kisses only,” Spence says, standing up and offering up his ass to Church. Church then stabs him with a fork in the cheek. “Ow, that fucking hurt. Aren’t you supposed to be kissing up to me?”

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