Chapter 2

St. Lucian's was a giant, looming, ivy-covered brick building with better architecture than most schools. There were peeked roofs and stained glass windows depicting various religious figures.

My parents were liars.

It was bad enough that I was wearing a dark blue blazer complete with school patch and a blue and stripped tie, I really didn't need school-mandated mass to go along with it. I glared at the fancy windows set above the main giant doorway into the school as I walked.

I was so set in my stare off that I didn't see the kid in front of me who had to have been spacing just as hard as I was, because the next thing I knew, I had walked into something fairly solid.

"What the fuck!? Watch where you're going!" Came an outraged voice. I wanted to reply along the same lines—it takes two people not paying attention to walk into each other, thank you very much—but the fact that he had ended up on the ground stopped me.

I looked down at the guy who was glaring murder up at me. He was tiny. I mean, I couldn't really tell how tall he was, but he was super skinny. He wasn't wearing the dumb school blazer over his white button down and his black tie was one of those really thin ones, probably because proportionally, a regular-sized tie would look ridiculous on his tiny frame. Black hair fell into supremely pissed off gray eyes. He was also really pale with deep purple bruises under his eyes.

Ah crap, did I just mow down a sick kid?

"Uh, sorry. Here, let me help you up." I held a hand out for him, but he just looked at it like I was handing him a wad of used tissues. Before I could tell him to stop being so melodramatic, he stood on his and brushed off of his pants with quick, angry movements.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"Listen, you prick," he stared, bursting my personal space bubble without a care. "Stay the fuck out of my way, or you'll be sorry." I just stared down at him—he was like half a foot shorter than me, making him only a few inches taller than five feet—in a fog of disbelief. Was I really getting threatened by this twig? Before I could come to terms with reality, the cocky little bastard had already taken off.

A pack of girls walked by before I got moving again, obviously having borne witness to the whole thing. One broke rank to shoot me a nervous smile and whisper "A friendly word of advice, invest in some salt." With that, she jogged back to her gaggle of friends.

What. The. Hell?

How weird could this place get?

Apparently, not that much. The first half of my day was filled with the usual new kid shuffle. First to the office to get my schedule—where I was informed that St. Lucian had started out as a Catholic school, but was now very nondenominational. Then to the front of the class in each period—once I found said classes—to introduce myself.

Besides the angry guy I knocked over and the girl worried about my salt intake, no one really talked to me besides the boring where'd-you-move-from conversations that tended to peter out pretty quickly. I was normally more outgoing, but having survived the zombie attack last night just left me wrong-footed. Whenever someone asked me that boring question, I just couldn't help but wonder if they knew the walking dead occasionally...walked around their town.

Rule number one for dealing with weird shit seemed to be learning how to juxtapose it with the normal, everyday boring shit. It was something I needed to work on.

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I don't think there's anything that can make you as homesick as a cafeteria. I mean, the friends I had left behind weren't BFF material or anything—I had fully expected to lose touch with them when I headed off to college—but looking at the rows of circular tables, I wanted to rush home and call them. Which wouldn't pan out, seeing as they were in school too, but I said I was homesick, not logical.

I first picked out a practically empty table, but quickly reconsidered when I realized the only person sitting there was the pissed off guy from before. He looked less pissed off, but I think that was just because no one could pull off looking angry while eating grapes.

"Looking a bit lost there, sailor." I turned to the guy who had spoken. There was a bit of looking up involved in that since he was really tall, like six-five. He was slender, but nothing like the aforementioned twig boy. He had short auburn hair with bangs that did lovely things for his angular face, brown eyes, and lips to die for.

I'll admit it, I was a bit distracted by his mouth, but his words managed to penetrate eventually. I frowned in confusion. "Sailor? Because I need salt for some reason?"

That brought him up short. "Ah...no? But I'm very interested in learning the thought process behind that. You have five seconds, go." He made an imperious proceed-type gesture that I couldn't help but smile at.

"Uh, a girl told me I needed salt after a most likely gossip-inspiring run in with that loner over there." I nodded discreetly in the direction of the table with a sole occupant. "Salt. Salt water. Ocean. Sailor." I shrugged, then added, "Not a lot of caffeine today."

"Ah, now that almost makes sense." He decided after a studying look. "Well, come along." He started walking before I could ask where or why. I followed anyway.

He led me to a table. Mystery solved. It was one of the few larger rectangular ones. Most of the people sitting there were clumped at one end. I noticed the girls from earlier were there. The one with the advice gave me a shy wave. The other end only had three people at it, all of them guys. Mr. Amazingly Tall chose the more sparsely occupied end and gestured for me to do the same.

I hesitated for a second. What made me hesitate was the fact that two of the guys were hanging all over each other. I, obviously, had no problems with gay people or PDA even. It was just that I wondered how he had pegged me as gay. I wasn't all that flamboyant about it, but then the gay clique was snatching me up, so... Maybe he was just one of those people who were good at spotting gays? Or he might have noticed me checking out his mouth?

Plus, it was just odd to see two guys be that affectionate in a high school setting without having slurs and objects thrown around. I had been subjected to some very creative uses of the three-letter-F-word when I had given an ex-boyfriend a chaste kiss on the cheek in the parking lot of my old school. Wisteria hadn't seemed too progressive from the outside, but maybe they were. I'd definitely deal with zombies for that.

In the end, I sat down on the opposite side from the couple, a generous amount of space between me and Mr. Tall. The couple was made out of one part lanky ginger with a surplus of curls, freckles, piercings, and a couple of tattoos. And a black guy with an almost shaved head who looked like he had escaped from a debate team. An odd couple, that's for sure.

Next to them was a fellow blond, his hair a lot lighter and longer than mine, it was gathered up in a messy half-bun-half-ponytail. His big, blue eyes were surrounded by a ridiculous amount of lashes I noticed when he looked up at me from his lunch to give me a friendly smile. I returned it.

"What's this then, stretch?" The ginger broke away from his make out session to ask my guide. I was pretty sure he was talking about me. It reminded me of Zoe from last night. What was with people asking other people about my existence? People in Wisteria were fucking horrible about making introductions.

"Not my name, fire-crotch ." Was how the tall boy answered. He then took out an old-looking book from his bag and started to read. Like I said, fucking horrible.

"I'm Skyler Macintosh. New kid." I let them all know. The ginger nodded, satisfied. He went back to necking while his boyfriend gave me a wave before he was distracted.

"Don't mind the exhibitionists." The blond across me said with a roll of his eyes. "I'm Shay. That's Shawn and Aiden." The exhibitionists. "And that's Scott, because I know he has horrible manners and I know he hasn't introduced himself." I wanted to shout a heart-felt "thank you!" and proclaim Shay my favorite for pointing out the horrible introduction skills around this place. But I thought that would make me look like a complete spazz, so I refrained. Barely.

"Go choke on a sanctimonious cock, Shay. I did too. I mean, no names were exchanged, but if the contemporary authors being forced upon us in English have anything to say, it's that I don't know myself well enough to offer it."

"And that suburbia equals death." Shay added, not offended at Scott's suggestion of things he could do with his mouth. "Or slavery, maybe. I don't know, but that's what I'm writing my essay on since it sounds pretentious enough for Mr. Rathbone. If you have him, that's the way to go." He said the last to me.

I finished the rest of my bland lunch as Shay—with occasional input from Scott—gave me some helpful tips on other teachers and classes. Shawn and Aiden left sometime during this conversation, probably to find a supply closet. Twenty minutes before lunch was over Scott cursed and hurriedly put his book away.

"Damn, I forgot I have to go over the tutoring schedule with Mrs. Vasquez." That got my attention.

"You guys have peer tutoring here?" I had been a tutor with the program at my old school. At first, it had been a punishment for something stupid I had done during my short lived rebellious, acting out phase, but I had really gotten into it.

"Yeah, we do. Do you need one? I'm sure Scott can hook you up with a good one since he started the whole thing and is Mrs. Vasquez's golden boy."

Scott had stopped in the middle getting his shit together to look down at me from his standing height, so it was way down. His look was questioning, and a bit too...intense. That sounded dramatic, but it seemed like he was mentally asking me a question that was more important than if I needed someone to help me in my classes. Maybe tutoring was just that important to him. Hell, Shay had just said he had started the program.

"Ah, no, I'm interested in being one." I said, my tone not all that firm. Scott's stare was getting a bit uncomfortable.

"Oh, sorry. I've got to stop assuming other blonds suck at math as much as I do." Shay said, but I couldn't assure him that I wasn't offended because I couldn't turn away from Scott.

"Well, we do need tutors." Scott said, almost to himself. "You can come with me to talk to Mrs. Vasquez." He held out a hand to me. It reminded me of my run in earlier with the skinny boy. I was finally able to break my gaze away from Scott's to look at where I had last seen him. He was getting up from his lonely table, some kind of granola bar held in his mouth as he shrugged on a gray sweater with overly long sleeves. He was fucking adorable when he wasn't glaring and bitchy.

And since Shay had been so free with information already, I decided. "Can we meet after school?" I asked Scott. When I turned back to look up at him, the hand he had offered me was in his pocket, and the intense look was gone.

"Yeah, sure. Just come to room 208." With that he was gone, long legs whisking him out of the cafeteria at a nice clip.

I turned to Shay. "Hey, can I ask you something?"

Shay stiffened and suddenly found his bottle of juice really interesting. He must have seen me looking at the skinny boy. Jeez, what is it with that kid? People were either giving me random advice or clamming up when it came to him.

"Sorry, but I don't date, Skyler."

"What?" Where the hell did he get that from? I had checked out Scott more than I eyed him. I wondered if associating with a couple that seemed surgically attached made you think everyone who talked to you was interested in getting in your pants. "That wasn't what I was going to ask. I mean, you're not really my type. I mean, you're...you know, but not...for me?" Yeah, so much for not sounding like a spazz.

Thankfully, Shay laughed. "I promise, I usually don't assume this much. It's just...things and stuff." He said vaguely with a shake of his head. "So, what did you want to ask me?" He quickly changed the subject, which was okay with me since I could now ask what I wanted to in the first place.

"What's his name? And what the hell is up with him?" I pointed at him just as he left the cafeteria. Two guys just coming in automatically got out of his way, illustrating my point.

"That's Constantine Vegas." Shay answered in a low tone. He looked as comfortable with this line of questioning as he had when he thought I was asking him out.

"Really?" I had to ask. With a name like that, you just had to. Shay nodded. "And...?" I prompted.

Shay looked at the doorway to the cafeteria before going on, like he was making sure the boy in question was truly gone. Damn. Was I the only one around here not scared of a guy who looked like he'd lose a fight with a toddler?

"There's a lot of rumors going around about him. You can't believe most of them. I'll tell you the things that are a hundred-percent true." I leaned in because Shay was still mostly whispering. Also, I was fucking hooked.

"He lives with his grandmother. His grandmother and his mom are mediums." The emphasis he put on the word was enough to ring it with air quotes. "Like they did events where they contacted dead love ones in front of an audience, you know, that kind of thing. His mom still does it, she even has a TV show."

"You mean Connecting to the Other Side with Ava Vegas?" I've seen that show. Maybe more than once. I'm not proud of it, but I do have a weakness for all things spooky, even cheesy stuff like Ava Vegas' show. It—like all of the other ghost-contacting clones—was definitely a con aided and abetted by hot and cold reading techniques, but she could really sell it. It was probably why she also had a spin off that featured her going to various haunted locations. Well, that and the fact that she was super hot in the dark-and-mysterious way. Even I could tell. Apparently she was also a hot mom. That was really odd since her having a kid was never brought up in her shows or TV interviews.

Probably where Constantine got his angry kid vibe from.

"Yeah, that one. Anyway. He used to go to Wisteria High, the public school around here." I nodded like I was familiar with it. I assumed it was where Max and the rest of his band/paranormal investigation agency went as I hadn't seen them around here. "He was bullied pretty badly by this one kid, Mike Cormack. Before Constantine transferred, Mike disappeared. He was found about a couple of days later, dead. Murdered. And—okay, I'm not completely sure if this is true or not, but Mike's best friend swore up and down it was—Constantine went to Mike's wake."

"And what? What did he do?"

Shay shrugged. "He didn't cackle evilly over the casket or anything, but everyone found it weird that he would show up since Mike bullied him so much. He transferred schools a little after that. Practically his first day here, Sheldon Leary started picking on him in math—I was there, so I know this is true. Constantine told him to shut up, he warned him. But Sheldon kept teasing him and when Constantine stood up, he started pushing him. Then Constantine...It was weird, he ran his hands up Sheldon's chest. At first, I thought he was coming on to him, but then he grabbed the dog tags Sheldon always wore and pulled him down with it so he could whisper into his ear.

Now, I have no idea what he said. No one does except Sheldon, so don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Whatever it was, it made Sheldon go white as a ghost. I've never seen anyone pale like that in real life. Then he fainted, cracked his head open."

"Is he dead!?" I squeaked perhaps a bit too loudly, but fuck. This guy had threatened me!

"No, no. He's fine now. I mean, he doesn't have any serious brain damage or anything, but it's like he's a different person. He used to be a complete asshat, but now he mostly keeps to himself and doesn't talk much. It's creepy. It's like he's a zombie now."

Scenes from the night before flashed through my head. I shook them away. "Did Constantine ever get in trouble for it?"

Shay shook his head. "We all got pulled into the office afterward. Some people said they saw him push Sheldon, and he got suspended. He also had to talk to the police. But when Sheldon woke up, he said Constantine hadn't touched him. That's all I know is true. People have said he's capable of all kinds of...um...black magic." Shay rolled his eyes. "What happened between him and Sheldon was weird and creepy, but I don't think Constantine goes out at night and sacrifices goats to a demon or anything."

"Well...that's comforting, I guess." Okay, it would have been a week ago, but after surviving a zombie attack, I can't exactly go around dismissing claims of black magic, but I couldn't tell Shay that. I added Constantine Vegas to the list of questions I had for Max and his friends.

"Did you have a run in with him?" I nodded. "Just stay out of his way, that's what everyone else does. Now, what class do you have next? I can show you where it is."