Paul Steer answered all the questions as David comforted their charge. Sixteen-year-old Anna Myers had no one in the world. Her parents had just wrapped their car around a tree, and there was no way they were coming back. A few hours ago, Paul had been called out of his sleep to come and collect the girl. Mr. and Mrs. Myers had seen fit to put him as her guardian with his brother.
Closing his eyes, he signed paperwork and gathered her stuff.
“People will be in touch to talk about her finances,” the officer said.
“We don’t need money. Anna will be looked after,” he said and went out to the main corridor where she sat. David glanced up as he closed the door.
“How’s she doing?” Paul asked.
“I’ve just found out my parents aren’t coming back. How do you think I’m feeling?” Anna asked. Her attitude was back. Her eyes were red and tear-stained.
“Why weren’t you in the car with them?” he asked.
“I stayed at home. I’m sixteen and can look after myself. They were going out, and I told them they should go. It’s all my fault.” The tears came in full force as she began to blame herself. Paul saw it and went down on his knee in front of her chair. He grabbed her chin in a forceful hold and made her look at him.
“You listen to me, Anna. You’re not responsible for what happened to your parents, so don’t let me hear any more of that crap coming out of your mouth. Do you understand?” he asked.
She nodded, and Paul gave his brother the signal to get her and follow him. The car was in the waiting lot. The night dark, and he was thankful no one else would be here to talk about her. CapeFalls could be a hard place for a young woman to deal with. He opened the car door for David to help her into the back. Paul got in the front and started the engine. Once they were secure he drove the short distance to their house. The Steer house had been in their family for many generations and was passed down to the oldest son. Paul didn’t like the house being in his name only and had forced David to put his name on the deeds as well. What worked for his fathers and grandfathers wouldn’t necessarily work for him.
The drive only lasted about twenty minutes, and Anna was fast asleep with her head resting in his brother’s lap. Paul parked the car and helped David carry her into the house. She was a slight little thing.
They carried her up the flight of stairs to one of the made up rooms. Taking her shoes off her feet they placed her under the blankets. Once she was settled they walked down to the kitchen. After the night they’d had, a drink of strong beer would be the way to settle their nerves.
“We’ll have to make all the arrangements for the funeral,” David said.
“I’ve left a message with the funeral home. They’ll be in touch tomorrow. In the meantime, Anna needs to continue with her schooling. Nothing should change.” Paul took a long pull on his bottle of beer and searched for a snack. He’d put some Chinese food he’d brought in boxes from the supermarket in the oven earlier. Finding some prawn toasts he took the box out and began eating.
“Why did her parents think we can look after her? We’re only nine years older than she. I mean, I’m twenty-five. I don’t want to have children or look after one,” Paul said.
“She’s not a kid. We’ll care for her.”
Anna woke up the following morning. The sunshine glowed over her body where the curtains were partially open. She knew she was in the Steer house. Over the years she’d visited their house many times and hung out with David. He was the easier of the brothers to get along with. Even if he wanted her to leave so he could go out and party, he didn’t push her away until she was ready to go.
When she went downstairs she found both men in the kitchen. David was flipping pancakes while Paul was reading the paper.
“How are you feeling today?” David asked.
“I’m okay. Just trying to think things through.” She would miss her parents, and it wouldn’t be the same without them. “What’s going to happen with me?”
“What do you mean?” Paul asked as he looked up from his newspaper.
“I know I’ve not got any close relatives. What happens to me? I’m sixteen. Could I care for myself?”
“You’re not going anywhere. Your parents fixed it up, and we’ll take care of you until you reach your mature age,” Paul said.
David put a plate full of pancakes in front of her. What was it with CapeFalls and pancakes? Every house she went to, they served up pancakes.
“I don’t want to put you out,” she told them. Picking up a fork she dove in. The syrup was too sweet for her tastes. After a few bites she put the fork down and pushed the plate away.