December 2, 2023


🌺 Chapter 9🌺

🍂Max POV 🍂

When I arrive at the cafeteria, I opt for a Japanese bento with grilled salmon. One of the things I love about this school is that they always have a different menu of all kinds of cuisines around the world every day, and they have the best chefs for it, because the food tastes like a signature dish in a five-star hotel. It tastes even better when you’re Fůçƙing hungry.

Carrying my food tray, I head toward the table filled with my new football teammates. To say that I’m thrilled being on this team is an understatement.

I’ve never played in a real American football team before, since I’d been living in Australia for years. Dad and Uncle Jake definitely keep my passion undying — they love the game as much as I do even though they don’t play anymore.

I take a seat in front of my captain, Tyler Gates.

“You haven’t seen anything from Coach Williams.” He watches me eating with a smirk on his face, leaning back against his chair.

“Spill it.”

“Wait until we play against last year’s champion,” Tyler says, cracking his knuckles. “You haven’t even seen him bark. You’ll see him roar soon.”

I laugh, but Tyler only shakes his head in amusement. One of our teammates yells, “He’s saying the truth, Max!”

“Punctuality,” Tyler warns. “Break it, and the whole team will be punished. We thought he was crazy when he asked us to jump into freezing water during winter.”

“Got it.” A smirk creeps on my lips. I think I can handle it — my coach in Australia is no different. “Thanks for the heads up.”

The guy on my left grabs my shoulder, giving it a firm shake. “Don’t worry, dude. It will be worth it.”

A deep chuckle leaves my mouth, and just when I shift my attention back to my plate, I hear something drop to the ground beside me.

I freeze as I see Luna fall onto the floor, her tray crashing to the ground, the loud clattering sound catching people’s attention. Her food — her small amount of pasta, salad and fruits — is ruined, scattered.

Her hand is shaking when she tries to clean the mess around her.

Did she just trip herself?

When I’m about to stand up to help her, I feel a firm grip on my left arm. I turn my head, only to find that the guy sitting beside me is holding me back, shooting me a warning look.

I shift my attention back to Luna, who has just tripped right next to me and Tyler, and when my eyes dart on Tyler, I see something I don’t like.

He rolls his eyes.

Whispers echo around us, but nobody helps. Some students pass by, stepping carefully so that they won’t land their shoes on the mess she has just created.

I freeze on the spot, watching these strange things happening around me — I’ve never felt so stupid. Before I know it, Luna has already stood up with her tray.

And just like that, she walks off.Only then do I feel the grip on my upper arm loosen as the guy finally lets me go, sinking back onto his chair. And I sit back too, still digesting what just happened, that I didn’t even help her even though she was right here beside me.

“Did you watch the game last night?” the guy sitting beside Tyler asks, shifting Tyler’s attention to him.

Tyler scoffs before answering the question, and the next thing I know is that all the guys at this table are talking about last night’s football game.

My heart is pounding against my ribcage.
What the Fůçƙ has just happened?

Wondering why Luna fell in the first place, I turn my head around, checking whether someone could have hindered her ankle and made her fall.

But everybody is acting like nothing happened. I only see a bunch of students finishing their meals, chatting with their friends.

My gaze darts back on my plate again, but my mind is in somewhere else, all the sounds around me fading out.
Fůçƙing strange.

Something is off with this school.
This reminds me of what happened during the chemistry laboratory experiment, when Luna spilled a chemical substance on her skin and everybody acted like it didn’t happen.

Then came that name they were calling her.
Lunatic .

The look of hatred every time they threw their glances at her.
The uncomfortable silence around us every time we talked.

I’ve thought that Luna Klein doesn’t like people, that she prefers to be alone, that she’s indeed weird. I’ve thought that she’s not down to earth enough for a celebrity child, and that people think of her as arrogant.

But what if it’s the other way around?
What if she closes herself off because of the way they treat her? What if she edges away because she’s trying to avoid trouble?

What if she’s an outcast?

I clench my jaw, not liking these questions in my head, and most importantly the atmosphere of this school.

I’m going to find out soon.

🌺Luna POV 🌺

I sigh after I finish playing the last note of my favorite classical piece, staring at the piano that has become the only irreplaceable friend in this school.

A glance at my wristwatch tells me that I’ve spent an hour inside this music room, and that maybe it’s time for me to go home.

“Clair de Lune,” a familiar voice snaps me out of my thought, and when I turn my head toward the source of the voice, my eyes widen.

Max is laying back on one of the couches, his eyes closed, his palms crossed under his head. “It means Moonlight, doesn’t it?”

When he opens his eyes to look at me, my breath catches in my throat from his intense gaze.

What is he doing here? Has he been listening to me playing the piano?
How long has he been here?

I snap my head toward the door, which is safely closed. Crap .

Did I not realize him sneaking into this room? I was too lost in the music.

“What are you doing here?” is the first question that leaves my mouth.

“My Mom likes to play that song too.” Max stands up from the couch, and a small smirk touches his lips as he approaches me, his hands shoved into his P@ŋts pockets. When he finally reaches the piano, he leans against the edge of the opened lid, watching me.

“But you play it differently, I must say.”

I should ignore his comment, but my curiosity wins. “How different?” I echo, subconsciously glancing at the door to make sure that no one is peeking.

“You know that every song hits different depending on the emotions of the one who plays it, don’t you?”

My brows furrow as I squint at him. “Yeah. What about that?”

What about my Clair de Lune?
Max sighs. “That’s the saddest Clair de Lune I’ve ever heard in my life.”

For a few seconds, I’m at a loss for words. But then, I snort. “You’re exaggerating.”

To my surprise, Max doesn’t retort.

Instead, he watches me with a serious expression on his face, dead serious, to the point that all the air in my lungs feels like being Ṣūçƙed out.

“What’s eating you, Luna Klein?”
I stare at him, and he doesn’t even blink, still scrutinizing me. My jaw drops, because I don’t understand his question — I need a moment to digest his words.

“What?” I whisper.

“I asked, what’s eating you?” he repeats, tilting his head as he studies my expression.

What’s eating me?

Silence falls for a while, and the next words that come out of Max’s mouth catch me off guard. “You’re sad.”

Another silence.

“You’re not okay,” Max says, still not leaving his eyes off me. “What’s hurting you, Luna?”

That question hits me on the right spot — it feels like adding salt to my wounds. Why did he ask me such a question?
Stupidly, I decide to joke around to lighten the atmosphere. “What are you talking about? I’m okay.”

He still eyes me, his gaze piercing right through me.

For God’s sake, what is wrong with him?

“I don’t really care about everything, you know?” I shrug. “I’m a ‘ whatever’ kind of person. You must have seen that.”

“Really?” he whispers. “Are you fine being alone all the time with no one wanting to talk to you?”

I frown.

“Don’t you think it’s pathetic to eat your lunch alone at the furthest corner of the room so that no one can mock you?”
I clench my fist tightly at my side before blurting out a lie, “I don’t like having a chat while eating.”

“Is that so, Lunatic ?” A small smile forms on his lips. “You like that name, don’t you? It suits you so well, because you are a lunatic. You know that they’re right, don’t you?”

My eyes burn, and it’s becoming harder to breathe. Why is he suddenly being mean?
“What are you trying to say, Max?” My voice is shaking, laced with the pain I’m trying so hard to hide from him.

“I’m saying that no one would care even if you poison yourself with chemicals, fall, or worse, die,” Max hisses, making my heart shatter. “No one would give a Fůçƙ about you, Luna.”

I’ve lost the ability to speak because of the lump in my throat. Why did those words hurt me so much?

Is it because it’s the truth?

“And about that Tyler guy,” Max says in a low voice, shocking me as the name comes out from his lips. “Do you know how much he despises you?”

My heart breaks again — the memories of Tyler showing his affection toward me feel so long ago.

“You’re so scared of him, huh?” Max scoffs. “You were rushing to escape him.”

I was.

I was scared that you would help me stand up while he was around, Max. I didn’t want to ruin what you had with your friends. He’s your captain, after all.
Max steps closer to me, who is still glued on the piano bench, unable to move, still thinking about how his words affect me more than they should have.

It’s when his face is only an inch from mine and those emerald green eyes staring back at me that I realize the tears pooling in my eyes.

“Still saying that you’re perfectly okay?” Max whispers, and I’m surprised to hear that his voice is also shaking.

My heart thuds as I realize that he only wanted to see how far I could keep myself from breaking down, to admit it all.

“I’m going to find out who did this to you.”


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