“I’ve seen the ledger, Trevor.” Callie thumped the book down on the kitchen table. “It’s right there in black and white. Payments from your account once a month since The Deboutique opened.”

Trevor was unfazed. “Of course,” he said. “I made an arrangement with your landlord when you took over the lease. I paid 90% of the cost each month off the books, and in return the full cost wasn’t on the bills you got.”

“But why, Trevor, why?” cried Callie. “If I’d had to pay the full rent, The Deboutique would have gone out of business in six weeks. I wouldn’t even have started it.”

“But don’t you see, Callie? That’s just the thing. I knew from the beginning that there wasn’t a big enough market for a boutique selling expensive clothes and knickknacks here in town. Even with all the students, there’s no way for it to make enough to meet rent, especially during the breaks.”

“Then why not just give me the money up front? Why let me try the fool’s errand of running a shop in the first place?”

Trevor’s voice was condescending, indulgent. “Because you needed a project to keep you busy and occupied, sweet pea,” he said. “You wouldn’t have put half as much effort into the place if you hadn’t thought it a success. And we’ve had so much benefit in your stature as a wife and mother and pillar of the community.”

“So that’s all it’s been,” gasped Callie, sinking into a chair. “That’s all it’s ever been. A lemonade stand to keep me busy. Girl Scout cookies.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing, sweet pea.”

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