From Ex to Eternity(10)

By: Kat Cantrell


“Planet Bride-Dealing-With-Whacked-Out-Hormones. It’s in the I-Get-A-Pass Galaxy. I didn’t want to ruin our special day with something so awful.” She muttered “Jerk” under her breath, but she didn’t cry.

It was a far tamer slur than the one he was calling himself. Miscarriage. He still couldn’t wrap his head around it. “You were really pregnant?”

“Guess you get to keep your genius status one more day.”

He was so far from a genius, he couldn’t even see the “stupid” line he’d crossed. His temples throbbed with tension and unrestrained nerves.

Miscarriage was the false alarm.

From the moment Cara told him about the pregnancy, he’d been so furious, with himself for not being more diligent about birth control, with how difficult it had been to come to terms with what needed to happen next—regardless of his intense desire to avoid matrimony—and with Cara’s happiness over a marriage he didn’t want.

Meredith had found him nursing his wounds the morning of the wedding and announced, “Cara needs to talk to you,” with such gravity.

He’d fallen on the words “false alarm” like a starving dog on a steak, and as a bonus, he assumed Cara had created a manipulation scheme. Then he’d settled into his role of martyr with ease.

He rubbed his eyes but it only made the sting worse and didn’t change what his vision had already told him—she was telling the truth. “At what point were you going to clarify this?”

“After the ceremony, when we were alone. Figured we could cry about it together and drown our sorrows in expensive champagne I could actually drink.” She cocked her head and the heat of her anger zinged through the elevator. “You thought I’d lied about being pregnant? How in all that’s holy can you believe I would do something so reprehensible?”

Keith ran a hand across the back of his clammy neck. This conversation was veering into a realm he did not care for. “How could you believe I’d walk out on you if I’d really understood what you meant? Why didn’t you stop me?”

Smooth. If she’d just give him a minute to collect his scattered wits, he might formulate a response that didn’t make him sound like a callous ass.

I’m so, so sorry. I should have asked more questions. I screwed up.

As always, he could no sooner force such emotionally laden words out of his mouth than he could force a watermelon into it.

“Because I knew, Keith! I could see the relief dripping from your expression. You never invested an ounce of effort into the wedding plans and I blew it off as typical guy hatred of flowers and musical selections. But you stood there, all calm and cool, telling me how we wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Miscarriage or false positive, it’s the same end. You were looking for an out and I handed it to you.”

You’re right. I was.

The exit had been calling his name before she’d dropped the pregnancy bomb that then tightened the noose with alarming haste. His first love was a job well done, completed by the sweat of his brow. He’d been fortunate his hard work over the years had resulted in a healthy bank account. Women typically wanted a piece of it. Providing a lavish lifestyle for an unambitious wife who wanted nothing more than to spend his money put Keith off the idea of tying himself permanently to any of them. Only an unexpected pregnancy could have turned the tide.

Of course he’d jumped to the wrong conclusion. Of course he didn’t hang around to dissect it. Those dominoes had been set up long before that final showdown. Maybe even as far back as childhood, when he’d watched his mother come home with Bergdorf bags three times a week and trade in her Bentley once a year.

It didn’t make him feel any better about what he’d done. “I’m... I... You didn’t deserve that.”

There was more he should say, but it stalled in his throat. For once in his life, he had no idea how to handle a situation. No idea what to do with the clawing, suffocating guilt lodged in his windpipe.

Keith Mitchell was never caught off guard. Never at a loss for words.

“No, I didn’t deserve any of it. But I’m glad it went down like it did. Otherwise we’d be divorced by now.”

“That’s low. I would have stayed with you for the sake of the baby.”

Just as he’d intended to marry her for the sake of the baby. He’d hoped he and Cara might eventually become friendly, like his parents, and have an amicable marriage. She had connections and would be good for his public image, a tradeoff for giving her his name. It was an uneven compromise but one he’d been willing to make.

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