September 29

“That sounds like the best course of action,” Chloe nodded. “All right. Shall we order in?” A grin crossed her face. “Do you like Italian food, Mrs. MacKenzie?”

Jeanne groaned and stood up; there was but one period left in the day, and neither Gene nor Deacon had returned to class. Her brother had missed lunch, which was cause enough for her concern, but the fact that he hadn’t had his gear collected from her made her suspicious. Deacon, of course, was not missed.
The rumors had started flying as soon as Mr. Walsh dismissed the class from the auditorium: Deacon’s dad was a drug dealer, or part of the mob, or something equally unpleasant. Try as she might, though, Jeanne couldn’t block out envisioning Deacon himself as any one of those things. They all fit him, but it wasn’t fair.
The last class of the day was computer class, but Ms. Pastukhova was out today. That was cause for as much hushed mumbling and rumor-slinging as the rest of the day’s events; rather than busy herself with the substitute’s assignments, Jeanne simply closed her eyes and listened. Tegan and Nick were in different clusters this time, and the seat to her left was Gene’s.
The seat was pulled out, and her brother sat down. “Hey,” he said, smiling.

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