Tyler tried to slip away unnoticed. No luck! Cassie looked up when she heard the gate open. “Where are you going, Tyler?”
“To the park.” Tyler scowled at the squeaky hinge.
She came over to the fence. “You should stay here. You know Mom said Paul’s coming over.”
“Paul might play ball with us,” five-year-old Tisha added. “That’ll be so much fun!”
“I don’t like Paul!” Tyler kicked angrily at a tuft of grass.
Tisha’s eyes opened wide. “Why don’t you, Tyler? He’s nice.”
“I don’t like him!” Tyler repeated. “He’s not my dad and he can quit acting like it.
“Our Dad is gone, Tyler,” Cassie reminded him quietly. “Mom says we need accept it.”
Angrily Tyler shoved his hands in his pockets. Maybe they could accept it, but he never would! They should have their own dad like other families did. There never should have been an accident. Or Dad should have gotten better after. He never should have died and left them alone. It wasn’t fair!
And now Paul was coming over, talking with Mom, smiling at her. They said they’re going to get married. Mom would forget all about Dad! Paul was so friendly to them, too, trying to win them over. Tisha was totally on his side already. She would never even remember Dad. Everybody would forget Dad.
“He thinks he can take Dad’s place,” Tyler grumbled, “but he never will. I wish he’d just go away and leave us alone!”
He turned and ran for the park, ignoring Cassie’s call to come back. She thought because she was twelve now that she could tell him and Tisha what to do. That wasn’t fair, either. He could look after himself; he was almost ten. He could help look after the family, too. They didn’t need Paul. Why didn’t he just beat it?