Now that witch got her name right? “I give up; you tell me how I helped,” Melanie snapped.
“Wasn’t it enough that you’re keeping the father of my child from marrying me?” Melanie noticed how silent Carter stayed. How he didn’t say a dang thing while April kept running her mouth. His silence was damning.
Leah let out a gasp, dramatic as usual, but this time Melanie couldn’t blame her. “Carter Mason Ambrose, how could you keep this from me?”
“Because it’s not true.”
“He speaks,” Melanie muttered, crossing her arms over her chest. “What other magic trick can you perform?”
Carter gave her a look, then turned his attention back to the two women staring at her accusingly.
Leah looked from April to Carter, the back at April. “So you’re not pregnant?”
“Oh, she’s pregnant alright but it’s not his,” Melanie said. No way in hell she let that poor excuse of a woman try to pin anything on her or Carter. No matter how mad she was at him right at this moment.
Tears filled April’s eyes and Melanie struggled not to roll hers. The woman was a better actress than the one who’d won an Oscar last year. “You actually believed him?”April asked on a sob.
Melanie blinked. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Tell her the truth, Carter,” April demanded.
Carter looked at Melanie. Anger made his eyes dark, almost black in the light. She wasn’t sure if his anger was only directed at her or at the two women who had lied to him. “She’s pregnant and I’m not the father.”
A little high-pitched sob left April’s mouth. “Why would you lie?”
“Dear Lord, I need to call a prayer circle.” Leah placed a hand on her forehead. “Come get me when y’all figure out if I’m going to be a grandmother or not,” she called over her shoulder.
Miraculously, April’s tears dried up and she smirked. “Think that was fun? Just wait until the press finds out.”
“There’s these things called paternity tests,” Carter said, leaning forward. “I’m completely willing to take about a hundred of them.”
“Maybe so, but in the meantime…” April drew little circles on the tablecloth. “Sure will be hard living in Charlotte with all this hovering over you. Can’t imagine many of daddy’s friends will give you much business in the meantime.”
“The success of my business doesn’t depend on your daddy’s friends,” Carter said, his jaw clenched. “Do you really think I’ll be hanging out with your friends in Charlotte? Give me a break.”
April huffed and flounced away.
“You’ve decided to move to Charlotte?”Melanie asked, her heart racing. Carter really was leaving and without her. Not that she’d thought he take her with him. She’d actually had thought he might stay here, because of her.
Dark green eyes swung back to her. “I—”
“How did she know and not me?”
“April must have overheard my conversation with Jake on Friday night.”
Melanie’s eyes widened. “She followed us to Charlotte?”
“Apparently, but she does live there. I’d planned on talking to you about that Saturday night, but we got a little sidetracked.” He drilled his fingers on the table. “Now the cat’s out of the bag, I—”
“That’s great news. I know you’ve missed it. And your friends. Holland Springs can’t compare, I bet. That’s just great.” Oh God, now she sounded like a rambling fool, but she couldn’t stop herself. “Charlotte will be great for you and your business.” Could she stop saying everything was great, because it wasn’t and someone had taken her fork so she couldn’t stab herself in the hand. Everything was horrible and heart-breaking, and everything she knew it would be.
Confusion filled his sexy eyes. “It will?”
She shot to her feet, overturning her chair. “I need to go home.” Could this get more humiliating? Bending down to right it, Carter stopped her with a hand on her elbow.
“I’ll get it,” he said, picking up the chair and sliding it under the table.
Moving to the window, she wavered between looking out of it and escaping through it. Only April seeing her leave so undignified made her keep her feet firmly in the dining room.
Carter joined her. “Let’s go for a ride, clear our heads and—”
“No,” she said as tears gathered in her throat. “I’ll ride with my dad, assuming he’s fit to drive. If not, I’ll drive.” She would be good at it, too, because Carter had been the one to help learn to drive stick again. Another slice to the heart.
Pressing a kiss to her forehead, he bent his knees a bit to look her in the eyes. “Guess tonight wouldn’t be the best night to come by, with your dad and all. How about tomorrow?”
There was no reason at all to string this along. He only wanted to do the right thing by letting her down gently. Look at what April had said and done, and not one time had he embarrassed his ex or even called her names. He never resorted to that, only stuck with the truth of the situation and let it speak for him.
God, he was so perfect for her, for any woman that longed for a real man.
“No, I’ll be busy,” she whispered.
A grin kicked up the corners of his mouth. “Jack needs his best waitress, huh?”
“No, Carter.” She glanced away, her shoulders beginning to shake. “I think it’s best if you don’t come by at all. Ever.”
His arms came around her then. “Don’t do this, Melanie.”
“There’s no this, no us.” She shrugged out of his hold. “Never was.”
“So that’s it?” He clenched his hands at his side. “After this weekend, after—”
“What did you expect?”she asked, then took a deep breath. “I’m not the kind of girl that gets taken home to meet the parents.” Even though Carter had done exactly that. “Girls like me get taken to bars, the beach and occasionally a chain restaurant for a special dinner. Girls like me never get Prince Charming, because his car never ever stops at the town’s trailer park.” Even though Carter had come to her house more times than she could count. “He never comes to where we work and sweeps us off of our feet like in that Richard Gere movie. But our dumbasses keep waiting for him to show up anyway.”