Element (Book 3)

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Ch 17 - Lane Mason

“How long am I supposed to stay here for?”

He shushed me, putting his hand on my mouth. “If we’re lucky, he didn’t see you.”

I couldn’t very well speak with his hand over my mouth, so I could only wait until he removed it. Even then, I knew not to say anything as we scoped the area. I could hear Blayze’s voice approaching, and my heart rate took off.

“Gentlemen, as you can see, everything has gone well, and all we need is for you to sign on the dotted line,” he said.

“What about Phoenix?” one of the people he was talking to asked.

“What aboutPhoenix?” he countered.

“Does this mean we will be privy to progress reports on it?” another voice asked.

“Now, now, you’re getting ahead of yourselves. This game consists of levels, and you’re only level one players. People who are privy to anything Phoenix related have much deeper pockets and way more influence. If you want in on Phoenix, then you’re really going to have to sell yourselves big time,” he told them.

“I’m sure that can be, negotiated,” one of the gentlemen said.

“Just what I’d like to hear. I’ll be in touch with you then. Contact me with a list of what you have to offer, and if we like what we see, then we’ll be in touch with a new agreement,” Blayze responded.

There was some shuffling and we could hear footsteps going away. When it was quiet, Silo nodded to me and we left the closet we were hiding in, only to come face to face with the person Silo was hiding me from to begin with.

“You know, I thought it was you who had walked in, but then again I haven’t seen in you in so long I thought I was hallucinating. I decided to keep an eye out for you just to see if I was right, and what do you know? It turns out I’m not crazy after all.”

He still looked as handsome as I could remember, and a part of me felt relieved to see him again, while the greater part was admonishing me. Silo looked at me with regret before excusing himself. He already knew that he couldn’t save me from this.

We were a distance apart, but I could still feel the tension between us. We hadn’t seen each other in three years, or at least that’s what I remember. He stepped closer and I stepped back, noting the hurt in his eyes at my action.

“I will not hurt you Elle. I am not capable of doing so,” he said softly.

“At least not physically,” I said before I could stop the words.

He sighed. “I deserve that.”

“Can I leave?” I asked.

“You’re free to do anything you want. You’ve always been,” he replied.

I walked until I reached the door, when I remembered something. “Storm told me you stopped talking to her.”

“I did so to keep her safe. I hope she’s safe wherever she is,” he responded.

I frowned. “She’s here.”

“What?” he asked, eyes wide.

“She came here with me,” I informed.

“No, no, no, NO! They’ve got her!” he panicked.

“What do you mean they’ve got her? Who’s got her?” I questioned.

“When did you get here?” he asked.

“About an hour ago,” I replied, only to have him race past me.

I followed after him. “Blayze, what’s going on?”

“I’ve been trying to protect you both by ignoring her,” he said, looking around the room.

“And how exactly does that work?” I asked.

“They know about Ellysia, and they’re coming for you Elle. They are planning on using Storm against you. I thought the two of you weren’t even talking to each other? You were safer that way!” he rambled.

“We made peace. What do you mean they know about Ellysia? They who?” I questioned.

“The agency is small waters compared to these people Elle,” he said.

“You are not saying anything,” I said, frustrated.

He sighed. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“The last time we saw each other, you wanted me dead, and now you want me to believe that you’re trying to keep me safe?” I asked.

“See? I haven’t even told you anything and already you don’t believe me,” he pointed out.

“With good reason!” I shouted, causing some eyes to look our way.

He grabbed my hand and led me to the corner of the room. “You need to calm down. I’ve scoped the entire room and I can’t find Storm.”

“What makes you think they took her?” I asked him.

He narrowed his eyes at me. “Don’t tell me that you’re actually on a mission here.”

“Then I won’t,” I childishly retorted.

“I can’t believe you would still work for the agency after everything they’ve put you, and all of us, through,” he said disbelievingly.

I shrugged. “I do what I must to survive.”

“Except this isn’t surviving Elle. You’re only drowning more and more and losing yourself to the dark side,” he said, caressing my cheek.

I stepped away from him. “You’re one to talk about dark sides.”

“What exactly are you insinuating?” he asked.

“You and I both know I’m not insinuating anything. We both know what is fact and what is a lie,” I stated.

“I do love you Elle, that much you have to believe,” he pleaded.

I scoffed. “And that is your biggest lie yet.”

He was about to say something when Carter approached us. “Storm needs backup.”

“Where is she?” I asked.

“Fifth floor,” he informed.

The both of us ran in that direction and we arrived to find my best friend barely managing to fight off the five guys fighting her. It’s almost unfair how many of these people will attack you at the same time once they know your capabilities- but then again, it says something about those very capabilities.

We joined in the fight and managed to knock all the guys out, except Storm was badly injured. From the bloodied blade on the floor, I realized that she’d been stabbed, and I followed her hand to her side, which she was clutching.

“What happened?” I asked her.

“I managed to sneak into Lane’s office and retrieve some files from his laptop, but before I could call it in with you guys, I was attacked. However, I’m not stupid, so I know that these aren’t Lane’s men, or any of the people we’d listed for that matter, which has me confused about why they want me to begin with,” she explained through the pain.

“They want you because they want Elle,” Blayze announced his presence.

Her eyes widened. “Blayze?”

Thisis Blayze?” Carter asked, only to be ignored.

“Hello little sister,” Blayze greeted.

Carter helped me to carry her to one of the rooms, which we got into using one of the stolen all access cards. “What are you doing here?”

“I should be asking you that question, and especially because you’re with Elle of all people,” he replied.

“She’s my best friend. We were going to make up sooner or later,” she argued.

“I was hoping for never,” he commented.

“Asshole,” I mumbled.

“I know you’re pissed off at me, so I’ll let that one slide. However, the two of you need to get out here and you need to lay low,” Blayze instructed.

“That’s not possible given the fact that the agency has a mission for me,” I told him.

“Is any mission really worth risking your life?” he asked.

“Aren’t all missions life-threatening?” I countered.

“No actually. With most missions, you actually have a great chance of survival, whereas if you persist on being seen in the public eye, you will die for sure,” he explained.

I folded my arms. “Pray tell why I’m wanted dead anyway.”

“Like I said, they know about Ellysia,” he said.

“That’s vague. So they know about Ellysia; what about her?” Storm questioned.

“I don’t have all the details ok? All I know is that your soul has got something to do with why they want you dead,” he replied.

“Forgive me if I sound like an arse, but why exactly should we believe anything that you say? From what I’ve heard, you’re the Tsar child that is the least trustworthy,” Carter commented.

“My sister and Elle know that I would never lie about something like this,” Blayze shot back.

“Because you’ve never lied about something like this before right?” Storm asked him.

I laughed humourlessly. “Or is it the you being in love with me part of this whole thing that should make us trust you?”

“I know I broke your trust, but honestly, I am in love with you. You are the love of my life Elle,” he said sadly.

“That’s great and all, but I’m with Carter on this. I don’t believe a single word you’re saying to me, and therefore I shall continue with my mission thank you very much,” I said before storming out of the room.

I wasn’t expecting him to follow me out, so I was grateful when he didn’t. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done if he had followed me out, but I do know for sure that it would’ve involved me losing my temper.

I hate being lied to, especially where my feelings are involved.

I checked my dress to find that Storm’s blood didn’t get onto it, before I headed back to the bar and ordered a drink. From the corner of my eye, I could see Winter talking up some rich men, no doubt gathering some valuable intel. It’s amazing how much rich old men are willing to share when they think you’re a clueless bimbo.

“I couldn’t help but notice you getting into a fight with one of my investors. I hope he didn’t make you feel uncomfortable. I would hate to have the night of such a beautiful woman ruined.”

There he was, the man of the night, dressed in an impeccable navy suit. He’s a good looking man, that much I won’t deny, and if you saw him in the street, you’d think of him as a wall street man, but I knew better.

I knew that I was staring into the eyes of a twenty three year old criminal mastermind.

“Not at all. We just had a little disagreement, but nothing I can’t handle,” I said with a smile.

“I don’t believe I caught your name,” he reached.

I smirked. “I didn’t give it, and neither did you ask for it.”

He chuckled. “Where are my manners? I’m Lane Mason, the host tonight.”

“Eliza McFarland,” I introduced.

“I don’t believe I’ve come across your name before,” he noted as he leaned on the bar.

“I’m not one of your rich friends Mr Mason. I believe I was instead invited by one of them who thought I might enjoy coming to hear about the great Lane Mason,” I complimented.

“Well I don’t know about great, but I do know that I’m thankful to whoever it is that invited you. It would’ve been a shame for a dress like that to not be showcased so beautifully,” he counter-complimented.

“You flatter me Mr Mason, but I am here with my husband,” I informed.

Our makeup and training makes us look a lot older than we are.

“I don’t see any ring on your finger. Surely he would want to let the whole world know that such a gem belongs to him,” he commented.

“That’s because I’m well aware that she isn’t an object. She knows where she stands in my life,” Carter stepped into the husband role fluidly as he joined us.

“I take it you’re the husband?” Lane asked.

“And I take it you’re the host?” Carter countered.

“Lane Mason,” the man introduced.

“Hartley McFarland; it is quite the minute event you’ve managed to put together here,” Carter commented.

“Minute? There are over a hundred guests here,” Lane said defensively.

Carter laughed. “Do you hear that hun? He thinks a couple hundred people make up a successful event.”

It was my cue to defend Lane. “You’re being rude love. This is an impressive turnout.”

“You’ve hosted dinner parties with more guests my love. These small time inventors really don’t know the value of having a good, strong woman behind them,” Carter commented arrogantly.

I could see Lane just itching to punch him.

“Love, I see Mr Turner over there. Didn’t you have some business to discuss with him?” I asked him.

“Right! If you’d excuse me,” Carter said before walking away.

Three, two, one.

“Quite the gem of a husband you have there,” Lane murmured.

I sighed for effect. “He’s arrogant like that. He graduated from Oxford at the age of fourteen and has been this way since. He’s brilliant at what he does, but he likes to look down on people.”

“And how does someone like him end up with someone like you?” he asked.

“I saw the side he rarely likes to show people, and I guess I chose to love him for that and forget about all the other times he mistreats me,” I said, the fake tears making their arrival.

And ladies and the gentlemen, he took the bait.

He reached out to hold my hand. “You don’t deserve to be treated like that.”

“What can I do? Leave him? I’m nothing without him,” I said dramatically.

“Surely that isn’t true. He seems to be proud of who you are as the woman beside him. He knows that with you by his side, he can conquer the world. Surely that has to mean something?” he argued.

“He says that to every man willing to listen to him. He treats me more like a trophy wife than anything. He’s just good at disguising his words,” I countered.

He looked sad at my words. “If I had a woman like you at my side, I’d never make you feel this low.”

I took my hand away from his. “Except you don’t.”

I got up and started running towards the entrance, well aware that he was running after me. It was starting to drizzle outside, but I had to stay in character as I stood outside, letting the tears fall. I was well aware of him wrapping his arms around me, allowing me to ‘sob’ into his chest.

“Hey, it’s going to be ok. If you want my help, then I can get you out of this. You don’t have to be with me, but I can at least get you out of this,” he offered.

“You get me out and then what Lane? I told you I’m nothing without that man,” I argued.

“I promise we’ll figure it out,” he said.

I stepped away from him, wiping away my tears despite the rain. “Why do you care? You just met me. For all you know, I’m lying to you!”

“A woman who cries tears like this would never lie like that,” was his argument.

Gullible man.

“I can’t go back in there,” I told him.

“That’s fine. Do you think you can at least wait for me in the lobby? I need to give my thank you speech before I can leave,” he requested.

I almost felt sorry for him as I nodded. I walked back inside with him but I stayed in the lobby as discussed while he went back to the hall. I took out my phone and dialled the twins back at the safe house.

“We’ve just received the info Storm sent through. How far did you get?” one of them asked.

What?

Sometimes I just can’t tell them apart, especially over the phone.

“Carter and I managed to sell my underappreciated wife story. Are you guys ready with everything?” I asked.

“Everything related to Hartley McFarland is up. We’re just working on Eliza McFarland. The information should be up within the hour. Keep him busy until then,” the other twin replied.

“That I can do. He’s stepping into the role of hero and he intends to save me,” I told them.

“How long do you intend to drag this out for sis?” they both asked.

“As long as is necessary. I will pull out if it gets too deep, I promise,” I told them before hanging up the phone as Lane left the hall.

“Are you ok?” he asked.

I nodded. “I was just letting my sister know where I’d be.”

“You’ll be taken care of Eliza. You have my word,” he told me.

I got my acting on and whispered. “He said the same thing when we got married.”

I could see regret settle in his eyes, and I actually felt sorry for him, until I remembered how many people he’s killed without so much as a second thought. His driver arrived to let us know that the car was at the front, and he took off his jacket and placed it over my shoulders.

He led me to his obviously expensive sedan, opening the door for me to go in before joining me. I heard him tell his driver to take us back ‘home’. I managed to get a glance at one of the side mirrors of the car and I could see his security detail tailing us.

“Did you get to eat?” he asked.

I shook my head. “I was busy trying to talk to Hartley’s investors.”

“He didn’t even check if you’d eaten?” he asked in disbelief.

I laughed a little. “Why does that surprise you? You inventors and businessmen rarely remember the presence of your wives, girlfriends and dates once you start talking business.”

“I get that about dates maybe, but a girlfriend or wife is someone that you’ve decided to let into your personal space. The least you could do is respect her needs,” he argued.

“You mean to tell me that you would’ve checked up on whether or not I’d eaten?” I asked.

“I wouldn’t have done just that. From what I’ve seen so far, you’re an impressive woman. The fact that you talk to your husband’s business partners on his behalf means you not only know what you’re doing, but you’re a hell of a lot smarter than he actually realizes. With skills like that, I’d want you at my side not only making me look visibly good, but selling me to my investors as well,” he replied.

I raised an eyebrow. “So you would use me?”

“On the contrary. I believe that you help your husband because you love him and you know that he needs the investors. I don’t know if he does anything for you in return, but I would support all your dreams in return. We would be partners more than anything,” he defended.

I laughed a little, nudging him. “You’re selling yourself to a married woman.”

He chuckled. “Can’t blame a guy for trying his luck.”

Our conversation was light from that point onwards as he told me about himself. There’s only so much you can learn from a file on someone, and what he was telling me was absolutely not in the file for one simple reason.

He was opening up to me.

I was feeling funny as I listened to him. He was telling me about how he grew up and how he got into inventing. He was so vulnerable and I could tell that he truly trusted in my fake identity. I knew I couldn’t lose focus, but I was taken aback by the emotional attachment beginning to form.

“Sir, we’ve arrived,” the driver announced before leaving the car to open the door for me. Lane let himself out while I could only gawk at the vision of a house before me.

“I’ll be ready by seven,” Lane told his driver.

“What about the five o’clock meeting?” the driver asked.

“Get Clark to move it. Also, have him arrange some clothing for Mrs McFarland, a-”

“Oh no! That’s not necessary,” I quickly interrupted.

Lane shot me a sly look. “Do you intend to wear my clothes? You’re aware those are girlfriend privileges.”

I blushed, furiously for whatever reason. “Fine.”

He laughed, turning back to his driver. “As I was saying, please have Clark arrange some clothing for Mrs McFarland, as well as anything she might need. She’ll be staying with me for a while.”

Stubborn man.

His driver nodded before getting in the car and driving away. Lane took my hand in his and I was surprised at how warm it was as he led us to the door. He put in a code I made sure to remember before the great double doors opened.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement. As an agent, I’ve been to and seen some incredible houses, but Lane Mason’s house was by the most innovative one yet. The art is breathtaking, and you can tell that he uses only the best technology.

“Welcome to my humble abode,” he said.

“Why would you live in such a massive house by yourself?” was my brilliant response.

He chuckled. “I guess the little boy in me is still dreaming of filling it with kids and a beautiful wife.”

“Well, you’re only twenty three, so it could still happen,” I commented.

“I would hope so, but before we get lost in conversation, I would rather we get you out of that dress,” he said.

I shot him a raised eyebrow to which he laughed. “I meant that in the most innocent way. We were in the rain, and material like that takes a while to dry. The last thing we want is for you to catch a cold.”

“I will trust that that was the intention of your statement and not kick your ass for it,” I replied, making him laugh harder.

He looks so beautiful when he laughs.

I caught my thoughts before they could drift any further, as they instead drifted towards Xander. He’s the only other guy I’ve ever thought of as beautiful when laughing, which raised flags in my mind, something that didn’t go unnoticed by Lane.

“Are you ok?” he asked.

I shrugged. “I was just thinking about Hartley.”

“Do you want to tell him where you are?” he asked.

I looked at him, deadpan. “That would defeat the purpose of running away from him.”

“I’m not sure what it is you want Eliza,” he admitted.

I sighed. “Thank you Lane, for everything. I just need to process everything. Hartley’s been a part of my life for a very long time, so trying to get away from him is going to take some time to get used to.”

He stepped closer to me, wrapping me into a hug. “I’m here for you the whole way.”

“Do you promise?” I asked as I hugged him back.

“I promise.”

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