Conor gave the front door a cursory rap before he flung it open and headed into the living room, where his friend sat on the couch. “Hey.” He bent over, biting his lip.

Relaxing at home, like any other Saturday, Jim paused his game and looked up from his iPad.

“I’m gonna tell you something and it might make you mad. Don’t be mad at me, okay?” Conor fiddled with the hem of his shirt, tension clenched in his chest. “I slept with Emma last night.” He scuffed the carpet with his shoe, avoiding his friend’s gaze.

“What?!” Jim’s eyes widened. His pale face turned scarlet and he shook his head. “No, no, no! You’re lying…you didn’t.”

“I’m not lying.” Conor blew his cheeks out. “When you were out playing basketball yesterday, I took her to my room. It started with just cuddling and then—”

“Shut up!” He jumped up, put his face close to Conor’s, and clenched his fists. “You know I like her very much.”

“But I treat her better than you do.”

Conor stomped the floor. “She’s mine. Not yours. Mine. We’ve been together since last Christmas.”

“From the time I saw her, I wanted her so much. Her beautiful face. Big, brown eyes, her—”

“Wait, now I understand. That’s why you came here more often after I brought her home.”

Conor nodded, fumbling with his hands.

“You didn’t come here to spend time with me. You came here for her.” Jim furrowed his brows. “You always sat with her.”

Conor crossed his arms. “I like Emma more than you do. I take good care of her.”

“Liar! You remind me of our friend, Bill. He was happy with Maggie until he saw Shelly.”

“I’m not like Bill. I’ll be there for Emma, always. I’ll keep her happy and safe.”

“Stop talking like she’s yours.” Jim cocked his head. “No one can care for her like me.”

“Oh, yeah?” Conor jutted his chin. “Remember the time when you accidentally broke Emma’s nose? I stayed by her side until she got better. You were too busy. Always off at basketball practice.”

“You’re jealous of me! Of us!” Jim shot an icy glare.

“I’m not jealous. You’re an idiot who thinks Emma still wants to be with you.”

“What did you call me?” A vein throbbed in Jim’s head. “Say that again!”

“Okay.” Conor grimaced. “You. Are. An. Idiot.”

Absolute silence.

Jim grabbed Conor’s collar and pushed him against the wall. “Listen, you loser!” He clenched his jaw. “Emma is mine, and will always be mine. You can’t take her away from me.”

“It’s funny you still believe that after what happened yesterday.” Conor’s lips twisted into a derisive smile.

“I can forgive Emma for that. You tricked her.” Jim thrust out his chest. “It was just the one time. Won’t happen again.”

“Huh?” Conor narrowed his eyes. “Where’s Emma now? Have you seen her today?”

Both questions hit Jim hard. Beads of sweat trickled down his forehead.

“I’ll tell you.” Conor’s voice was as cold as ice, without a hint of guilt. “She’s been with me. In my room. In my bed.”

“No!” Jim shook his head, unable to come to terms with what his former friend said. “Emma wouldn’t do that.”

Conor shouted, “Go see for yourself!”

Jim immediately released his hold on Conor and darted to the porch. He panted as he ran, dodging kids playing and cars driving on his way to the house two blocks away. Conor raced behind him, trying to keep up with his pace.

Arriving at the front door, Jim rushed past the living room and up the stairs. He wiped the sweat off his face and pushed open the door to Conor’s bedroom with trembling hands.

Jim’s eyes bulged as he spotted Emma ensconced on Conor’s bed. Covered in a blanket, her head rested against the pillow. “Emma!” he cried out, betrayal and hurt evident in his voice.

Conor came pounding up the stairs behind him and stopped in his tracks, seeing the meltdown.

Jim inched closer to the bed and picked Emma up in his arms. He caressed her soft brown fabric and stroked her round ears. Her beady eyes glistened in the sunlight entering through the window.

“Don’t touch her.” Conor grasped the boy’s shoulder. “She’s mine now!”

Nostrils flaring, Jim turned back and punched Conor’s cheek, knocking him to the floor.

Within seconds, Conor sprang to his feet and charged toward him. “You jerk!” Coughing, he pushed Jim against the bed and rained blows on his stomach.

Hearing the commotion upstairs, Conor’s mother came running from the kitchen, abandoning the dishes.

She gasped, seeing the two boys fighting each other. “Stop it!” Hands on her hips, she slammed a fist on the nearby table, bringing their scuffle to a halt.

“Both of you!” She pointed to the door. “Downstairs, now!”

Jim quietly ambled out the door with Emma safely tucked in his arms.

Conor blew a raspberry at his mother before leaving his bedroom and stomping down the stairs.

She shook her head and muttered to herself, “Six-year-olds these days! Fighting over a teddy bear!”