Because if a woman like Zoe, someone who was educated, smart and from a good family, couldn’t have what she really wanted, then there was no hope for a woman like Melanie.

She plopped down on the bed and scowled at the sexy grin lighting up her television. Zoe was right. “Men are stupid,” Melanie said. And sometimes, so were the women who loved them.

God, she missed Carter. But it was for the best that she didn’t answer his calls or texts. He had his plans that didn’t include her. And it was way past time for her to have plans that didn’t include her dad or any man. She had to start living for herself and her dreams.

All she had to do was fight the loneliness and heartache that seemed to nip at her dreams.

Chapter Eighteen

“Man, you’re in a foul mood,” Beau said after Carter had stripped yet another bolt and had taken it out on him. “Miss Melanie cut you off for good or something?”

Carter clenched his jaw and threw the wrench into his tool box instead of his employee’s face. “Want to try that again?”

“Anything else I can do, Mr. Ambrose?” Beau wiped his hands with a rag.

Yeah, Beau could tell Melanie to come by here and pick up her last paycheck. She’d probably listen to that poor, sweet, misunderstood boy. Then Carter could get some face time with her. “It’s almost time to knock off for the day. You clean up and I’ll get your paycheck.”


“Must be nice to be so damn excited about the weekend.”

Beau gave him a pitying look.“Guess once a guy hits twenty-one, it’s all downhill from there, huh?”

“Nah, it’s way before then,” Carter said, keeping a straight face as Beau’s drained of color. “More like eighteen.”

“But I’m turning eighteen this summer.”

“I know,” Carter said with a smile. He strode to his office. Little touches of Melanie were everywhere. She’d hung a string of hearts along the outer-edge of her desk. A vase of roses sat by the coffee maker. He couldn’t step two feet without smelling her. Sitting down in his chair, he pressed his fingers to his temples, then printed out Beau’s check.

Damn, he missed her. Pulling out his phone, he hesitated over the keyboard.

Found a new game. Wanna kick my ass?

Two minutes and no answer later, he yanked open a desk drawer and chunked his phone inside. Apparently, she didn’t miss him.

He grabbed Beau’s check off the printer and signed it.

A black truck pulled up to his garage and he stood, moving to the window, the check still in his hand. He frowned. What was he doing here? The moving truck wasn’t scheduled to pick up Chase’s Mustang until next week.

Chase Montgomery got out of his truck and strode toward the garage, a look of determination on his face. Before Carter could turn, Beau had gotten in Chase’s face and shoved the guy.

“Oh shit,” Carter muttered before shoving the check in his pocket and racing outside. “Beau!”

“What are you? Some kind of stalker?” Beau sneered. “Like I told you before: I don’t want your f**king money or your daddy’s.”

“You might not want it, but you’re going to need it,” Chase said, standing firmly in place, but he made no move to stop Beau or retaliate. “It belongs to you.” To everyone who didn’t know him, Chase looked cool and collected, but to those who had raced against him—that measured tone meant one thing: He was pissed as hell and holding on to his temper by a thread.

“Give it to charity.”

Chase cocked an eyebrow. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”

“Fuck you, Montgomery.” Beau charged, fists raised. Carter grabbed him by the collar of his shirt, ripping it, then somehow managed to get his arms around the kid.

“Cut it out,” Carter growled in Beau’s ear.

Beau struggled against him, panting. “No.”

“You want to go to jail for assault?” Carter said, keeping one eye on Chase. The man had crossed his arms in front of his chest and for all the world looked bored. Bored. “And you—want to tell me why this kid wants to pound you into the ground?”

“Always thought you were more beauty than brains, Ambrose.” Chase smirked. “Guess I was right.”

Maybe he should let go of Beau and let the kid kick Chase’s ass. It would be Chase’s word against theirs, and Carter had the hometown advantage. “That cryptic shit might work on women, but it doesn’t on me.”

“We’re brothers.”

“Excuse me?”

“Half-brothers,” Beau muttered.

Carter looked from Chase, then at Beau. But for the kid’s lip ring, their faces was nearly identical. “I’ll be damned.” Same color eyes and he’d bet that green dye covered up dark blonde. “Same dad or mom?”

“His dad cheated with my mom while she was on leave from Afghanistan. Lying bastard didn’t bother to tell her his real name or that he was married. Didn’t bother coming to her funeral either.” Beau wrenched out of Carter’s grip and stalked inside the garage, calling over his shoulder, “Stay the hell away from me.”

Carter swiped a hand over his face. “So what’s your version?”

Grey eyes turned hard in direct contrast to the casual shrug of shoulders. “You know Remington.”

Yeah, Carter knew all about Chase’s dad. He was a womanzing son of a bitch that humiliated his wife daily, and publicly announced that Chase would never be one of the greats.“Beau thinks you’re just like him.”

Chase’s brows lifted. “He’s not too far off in his assessment.”

“Remington wouldn’t be here, and not to be real obvious, but he’s not and you are.” Carter gave him an appraising glance. “You never struck me as the messenger boy type.” Quasi-buddy or not, old rivalries died hard and any chance Carter could get in a dig, he would. “But like you said, I’m more beauty than brains.”

His quasi-buddy’s lips thinned and he let his arms fall. “Speaking of people not here—where’s your girl?”

That was a damn good question, and one Carter wanted an answer. But no one seemed inclined to share it with him, not even Zoe. “What do you need with Beau?”

“Doesn’t concern you.” Chase’s eyes shifted to a spot over Carter’s shoulder, right where the garage opened and Beau cleaned. “It’s between us.”

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