“And you want to help him?” Fran said. “He hates you!”
“So?” Rob said. “I don’t like him,” he added, “but ignoring him won’t do anything. There’s nothing we can do to him that’s worse than losing his dad.”
“Then he deserved it,” Fran said. She didn’t say anything after that, as Rob’s hand struck her mouth.
“I don’t want to hear it,” he said. “How about we take your dad away, Fran? Or yours, Lissa? Then, when you need someone to talk to about it, how about we just pretend you don’t exist? You don’t have the right to talk to us, you don’t have a real problem… how would you like that?”
“But I’m not Deacon!” Fran said.
“But he is just a kid,” Rob said. “Whatever happened to him, we don’t need to make it worse for him. Or maybe you want him to be even worse?”
“I don’t,” Fran said.
“Then just treat him like you always do,” Rob said, “when he comes back tomorrow. Okay? Be nice, but not too nice. If he wants to talk, talk. We don’t have the right to hurt him, you said it yourself. Ignoring him would hurt him.”
Fran stared at him; Rob’s eyes were set. The crowd of girls was slowly dispersing. “Okay,” she said, barely a whisper. “But this isn’t over between us,” she shot back.