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By:Jana Aston

I don't stop until Everly appears, leaning against the door jamb. "You're so stupid," she says in way of greeting.

"I know," I agree, slumping.

"No, dumbass, about Luke." She points her thumb in the direction of the street. "He traded in a sports car for an SUV."

"Everly, I don't want his money. He can buy three cars for all I care."

"I cannot believe you're the smart one," she mutters. "First of all, that's a luxury Land Rover, not a car. And secondly, it's a Land Rover, Sophie—that's the equivalent to a minivan for Luke. Jesus, he probably has a baby name site bookmarked on his laptop. You two are gross," she finishes and walks back into the shop.

I chew on my bottom lip while I think about what Everly is saying.

"He asked about you," she calls out as she walks away.

* * *

The next two days pass in a blur. I attend class, study and send out resumes. Boyd leaves me several messages about meeting to talk, but my energy level is so low all I've managed to do is text him back. Being an incubator is exhausting.

I'm confused. Everly and Jean haven't been with Luke these last few months. They haven't heard the reminders about taking my pill at the same time every day, the refills being handed to me. The inquiries about my period. I don't think Luke wants a baby. At least not this second, or maybe just not with me.

I'm back at Grind Me on Thursday working when I look up to find Boyd across the counter from me.

“Hey, Boyd,” I greet him.

“You’ve been ignoring my calls, little sister.” He smiles as he says it. “I’m sorry.” I pause. “I’ve had a lot going on.”

“Yeah. I remember college life. I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than return family phone calls.”

“I wish it were that simple.” I groan.

Boyd frowns. “Listen,” he says, tapping an envelope I’m only now noticing on the counter. “I have to leave town for a bit for work, and I wanted to take care of this before I left. Can you take a break? Or we can meet after your shift?”

We sit in a corner booth and Boyd slides the envelope across to me.

“What is this?” I ask, holding it between my fingertips.

“Your inheritance.”

“What?” I drop the envelope on the table in alarm.

“Your inheritance,” he repeats. “From our father.”

“That’s yours, Boyd.” I shake my head. “I don’t want it.”

Boyd shakes his head at me and runs a hand over his jaw. “He meant for you to have that, Sophie.”

I barely refrain from snorting. “He never even bothered to meet me.”

“I talked to my mom,” Boyd says. “She knew.”

I slump in the booth. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse. I’d hoped she was oblivious to the fact that her husband cheated on her. But why did I wish that? So I didn’t have to feel guilty on my mother’s behalf? How stupid.

“I’m sorry, Sophie.”

Wait, what? “Why are you sorry? I’m the one who should be apologizing to you.”

Boyd laughs. “Why?”

“My mom had no business messing around with your dad. He was married.”

Boyd tilts his head and gazes at me for a minute. “Is that what you’ve been carrying around in your head these last few months? Sophie, we have nothing to do with anything that happened over twenty years ago between our parents. And if either of us should feel guilty for our parents’ actions, it’s me, not you. Your mom was barely an adult, yet as far as I can tell, she’s the only one who responded like an adult to a bad situation.”

“What do you mean?” I’ve never really looked at my mom that way before.

“My mom knew about the affair, Sophie. And she lived in fear, not of losing our dad, but of having her sham of a marriage exposed. She didn’t want to end up on the covers of the newspapers as yet another scorned political wife.”

“Can’t say I blame her, Boyd.”

He ignores me and continues. “When she learned your mom was pregnant she threatened to cut off our father’s campaign funding if he didn’t end it with her. Discreetly. Our father had a decent net worth by the time he passed,” he says, nodding to the envelope, “but my mother’s family has the real money. The kind of money you need to win a campaign.”

“So he chose his political career,” I fill in.

Boyd nods. “But I dug around some more. He never meant to write you out completely. Not financially at least. You”—he nods to the envelope—“were supposed to receive that when you turned eighteen.”