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ood morning, Suri!”

Suri looked up at Yael’s bright, cheerful face, and forced a smile onto her own. Hypocrite. Hy-po-crite. Here you go smiling at her as if you’re friends, while really you’re plotting her destruction behind her back.

She pushed open the door to her therapy room. Okay, she allowed herself. Destruction was probably pushing it. They weren’t even talking about the possibility of letting her go.

“It’s tricky,” Aviva had said, drumming her fingers on the table, in yet another one of their intense strategizing sessions. “I mean, we owe all our startup money, and all the funding for this building, to her father-in-law.”

“And hiring her was one of the conditions,” Suri had reminded her, for the umpteenth time.

Aviva had grimaced. “I know, I know. It was a stupid, blind mistake, agreeing to that condition without checking into her first.”

Suri had shaken her head. That wasn’t what she’d meant.

Problem was, she didn’t know what she’d meant, other than that she was feeling crazed with guilt for setting the ball rolling in the first place by relaying the conversation to Aviva, and that she knew she’d feel awful if it led to Yael losing her job. Other than that, she didn’t know what to feel.

Especially because a tiny, honest part of her was whispering that Aviva was right. They shouldn’t have agreed to take on Yael without investigating her, no matter how much money was involved. And, though she hated to admit it, Yael did not seem up to snuff professionally.

She let out her breath with a huge, exasperated whoosh, as she readied her room for the next client. Avi Goldfeder would be coming for the first time, and Suri was secretly dreading meeting this mother who’d been so insistent that she must have Aviva as a therapist.

She scanned his file as she waited for him to arrive. He was already being treated by Yael, for sensory issues, it said, and Suri found herself reading Yael’s session notes more carefully than she’d ever bothered reading them before, to try to find some hint, some proof of competence.

Avi wasn’t behaving well today, and I had him go on the bouncy ball to try and calm himself down.

Suri winced at the childish way of writing, and snapped the file shut just as she heard the knock on the door.

“Come in!”

Suri stared at the woman who swept in the door.

Nechi Goldfeder wore designer sunglasses perched on top of her custom sheitel, and was outfitted in a slightly more sophisticated version of the trendy styles that Miri’s friends were wearing. On most women, attempting to dress like a teenybopper would look ridiculous, but this lady managed to carry it off.

Behind her trailed an 11-year-old boy. By the way his mother kept prodding him through the door, it was obvious he was reluctant to be there.

Finally, she sat herself and her son down. “Nechi Goldfeder,” she announced, leaning across the table and holding out her fingers.

Suri grazed them in a light handshake. “Suri Taub. I’m looking forward to working with Avi.”

Avi scowled and kicked his feet against a chair leg. His mother nodded vigorously, as if to compensate for his lack of response. “We’re looking forward as well. My husband and I, we’re not sure exactly what the problem is, but there’s definitely something wrong.” She smoothed down her skirt as she looked at her son.