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Ms. Deering looked unlike her usual peaceful self when she entered the room. She was pale under her tan, her mouth set in a hard line. It didn’t take an Empath to see there was a problem, but Gabe was the first to speak.
“What’s wrong, Ms. D?” he asked.
She shook her head. “Wait till everyone’s here.”
We exchanged glances and waited impatiently for Cassie, Ed and Patience to turn up. Ed, never in much of a hurry, joined us soon after with his sunny grin in place. Cassie finally arrived after another couple of minutes. She threw down her satchel and dropped into her seat. “Sorry,” she scowled. “Mr. Rendall kept us in until we finished his entire algebra worksheet. It was impossible.”
“Cassie, please,” Ms. Deering said.
Cassie tossed the long red curls and closed her mouth, offended. I raised an eyebrow at Drew and he frowned in response. It wasn’t like Ms. Deering to be so stern.
“I have to tell you something worrying,” she said.
“Hang on, aren’t you going to wait for Patience?” Drew objected.
Ms. Deering looked awkward. “Er, it’s about Patience.”
Drew tensed beside me and Gabe glanced across at us both. Sometimes I wished he would at least pretend he didn’t notice when he felt anything out of the ordinary.
“Is she okay?” Mona asked. “Is she sick?”
“She’s not sick,” Ms. Deering said. “But we received a letter from her father this morning. He says he intends to withdraw Patience from Etherall Valley Prep.”
Stunned silence followed, broken only by Cassie’s horrified gasp. Ed was the first to find his voice.
Ms. Deering gave a helpless shrug. “Mr. Rose isn’t required to give us a reason. All he has to do is tell us in writing.”
“I’d bet it’s because he’s worried about Patience’s spiritual progress.” Drew’s voice was bitter.
“Oh, for—” Mona managed to cut herself short. “Does that mean they’re going to try to ‘exorcise her demons’ again? When is her family going to get a clue, and leave Patience alone?”
“Obviously, the exorcisms are our main concern too, Mona,” Ms. Deering said. “Mr. Boxe and I are going to visit Dale’s Run tomorrow afternoon to see if we can reason with the Roses and persuade them to let Patience come back to school.”
“Do you honestly think you have a chance of changing their minds?” Drew asked.
“I don’t know. All we can do is hope Mr. Boxe and I are convincing enough to influence Adam Rose.”
THE RIFT — COMING NOVEMBER 6, 2015