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The Bad Ones(3)
Stylo Fantome

“Nice going, Mr. Tully. Sorry, Dulcie. Maybe the school can reimburse you,” Con suggested.

“This is all horse shit. If you've been out here playing photographer, then explain to me why a car in the back parking lot is on fire!? Did it just spontaneously combust?” Mr. Tully demanded. Con shrugged.

“How should I know? I've been out here.”

There was another long moment of silence. Dulcie finally glanced between the two men. Con looked completely at ease. Mr. Tully was quickly turning red, but his mouth stayed shut. He had no evidence, Dulcie realized. He'd probably happened upon the scene just as Con had been fleeing it. Mr. Tully had most likely only seen the younger man's back, if even that much. He couldn't actually prove Con had done anything wrong.

Though Dulcie didn't doubt for a minute that Con had done exactly what the teacher was accusing him of.

“Okay, Masters. Okay, you win this time. You think you're so slick, getting your girlfriend out here to cover for you,” Mr. Tully hissed.

“Oh, I'm no-” Dulcie began to argue.

“And you,” the teacher turned his anger on her. “Don't think I don't know who you are, Travers. I remember your brother. You a dope head like him? A bunch of good-for-nothings.”

Dulcie was used to people talking about her half-brother. Comparing her to him, bringing up the family connection. Didn't matter that she wasn't anything like him – his name had haunted her for a long time. Probably would for a lot longer. So she didn't let it bother her. People could assume whatever they wanted.

“Hey, don't fucking talk to her like that,” Con swore, taking a challenging step forward. Dulcie was blown away, then she collected herself enough to grab his arm, halting his movements.

“Whatcha gonna do about it, boy?” Mr. Tully asked, puffing out his chest. “That's right, nothing. I'll get you yet, Masters. You can bet on it.”

“Hmmm, I think I'll keep betting on me.”

When Con finished talking, Mr. Tully's head looked like it was gonna pop off. He got right up in their space and while Con didn't back down an inch, Dulcie shrunk back, even moving behind the star quarterback a little.

“Just a punk, Masters. It may not be me. May not be anyone in this school. But someone, some day, will see you for what you really are, and they'll put you in your place.”

The two men were almost nose to nose. Dulcie held her breath. She'd always thought there was something a little … off, with Constantine Masters, but she'd always assumed it was just her. She had an eye for certain things, she was more observant than most people. Stranger than most people. But apparently, she wasn't the only one who sensed the darkness in him.

“I'm excited for that day, sir.”

“Front office! Both of you! NOW!”

A car really was on fire in the back parking lot, but of course, it was easy to prove Dulcie couldn't possibly have been there. She'd been in Ms. Poulter's office at the time. And Dulcie had provided Con with a solid alibi, so now it looked as if he couldn't have possibly been there, either. So in the end, the only thing they could pin on them was cutting class.

Detention. After school. Two hours.

Fuck my life. I hope I don't get fired over this bullshit. Why did I help him? Why did I say anything? And how does Constantine Masters even know my name!?

“Were those pictures really for an art project?” Con asked when they were well away from the office. She turned to take the pieces of her broken camera back from him.

“Yeah,” she replied, shoving the bits into her bag.

“Are they gone forever?”

“No, the memory card should be fine.”

“Got any other cameras like that one?”

“Nope, that was it.”

There was an awkward silence. Well, Dulcie felt awkward. Con looked completely at ease. She was beginning to wonder if anything made him uncomfortable.

“Thanks for the help,” he finally said. She shrugged.

“Your welcome. Can I ask a question?”

“Go for it.”

“Why did you set someone's car on fire?”

She thought maybe it would rattle him – her thinking he'd actually done it. But of course it didn't. He chuckled, and she was treated to a patented Masters grin. It started at one corner of his mouth and eventually moved to the opposite corner, slowly revealing perfect white teeth and a razor sharp smile. He leaned close to her, and as his lips pressed against her ear, she could've sworn the temperature dropped.

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