MASON

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Chapter 9

Monday rolled over so fast. Beth didn't question me when I told her I was going back to work. I could see that she wanted to ask me, but she respected my privacy.

Athena had apologized to me about Mr. Campbell's behavior on Saturday night. She promised she had cleared everything with him and that it wasn't entirely my fault. That explained why he wanted me back. But having spent so many times with him and listening to him tell me over and over again how I would be so easy to be replaced didn't exactly quench my curiosity and only left me with burning questions. If it was easy to replace me as he had said, why did he blackmail me into working for him again?

But realizing I would never get my answers, I stopped thinking about it all together and it was easier to when a shit load of work was dumped on my desk. It felt more like a punishment than actual work.

Mr. Campbell didn't come to work today and not having him here, that was the most pleasant day of my life. And I was true to myself. I did have ill feelings towards him, but at the same time, I felt more than that. I couldn't quite understand my feelings; I felt dislike, yes, mixed with tremendous admiration, but was there something else? No, it was definitely just admiration. Someone who could snatch the world at their hands at a young age and build a powerful image was someone to be admired. Especially Mr. Campbell, who was only just thirty-two and had everything he wanted, and more.

Later in the afternoon, he walked in, announcing that he wanted to see me. When I entered his office, he was sitting at his desk. He glanced up at me.

"You did not keep me waiting."

"You wanted to see me?" My voice sounded guarded.

"Did I get any message from John Holt's office?"

"Yes. His assistant called earlier about the deal you made with him. Mr. Holt doesn't wish to continue with the deal anymore if your terms still apply."

"Well, I suppose we should hope that he has enough money to take care of his five children." He continued speaking in the same inconsequential tone of voice, "When I buy his company and reveal all his illegal activities, do you think he would realize his mistake?"

I couldn't control the shock and angry flush that came across my face. I was uncomfortably aware of the piercing scrutiny of those grey eyes that caught every detail of it. I knew it was a rhetorical question and my input wasn't needed, but I had to say something.

"M..mr. Campbell, is..that..is that really necessary?" I was annoyed for stuttering and stumbling over my words. "Do you really have to do that?"

"And since when have I listened to you?" There was a touch of irony in his voice at last, his hooded eyes had narrowed slightly, "This is business. You know nothing about it."

I knew that when Mr. Campbell made up his mind to take a certain course of action, nothing could stop him, I should have known that by now, but still I protested. He was a ruthless businessman.

"But, sir, he has a family."

"Call his office and relay the message, Ms. Hart," His voice was measured and dry, but I caught its veiled menace and winced. "If he doesn't agree to my conditions, I'm afraid, his fate is inevitable."

Barely able to suppress my frustration, I made a slight nod before I left the office.

The rest of the day was quiet. He had been at his office for hours and didn't take a break. He was a workaholic, and something tells me he had no life outside of his work. How could someone live like this? Somehow, I could imagine him being obsessed with earning more morning and being at the top, and a little break could make him think he would lose everything. That was exactly how I felt when I watch an episode of the Walking Dead.

I was mid working when I smell an unfamiliar cologne in the air. I looked up and saw a man coming towards Mr. Campbell's office. He was dressed in a casual; dark polo shirt and ripped jeans with black sneakers.

He stopped in front of me with the prettiest smile and dimpled cheeks. His eyes were pure hazel, they almost seemed to brighten every few seconds. In conclusion, he was really beautiful.

"Hello, love." He sounded charming, friendly even. "I'm Gale, and you must be?"

"Lauren. Mr. Campbell's new assistant." I smiled back nervously. If Beth was here, there was no doubt she would jump at this man. He was the kind of man she wanted–gorgeous, hot and rich. She would not rest until she had him in bed.

"Well, you certainly do not deserve to be cooped up in this boring office. Someone so breathtakingly beautiful deserves to be shown off in someone's arms. I, for one, would show you off to the world."

He reached for my hand before I could stop him, kissing the back of my hand. With his eyes closed, his long lashes touched my palm.

He withdrew.

"Aren't you a charmer." I grinned, liking him already. Not because he gave me a compliment, but because he seemed to be the only rich man who was not an asshole. "What can I do for you?"

"I'm here to see Mason. This is a surprise unplanned meeting."

"Oh, I'm sorry. Mr. Campbell is busy right now, but would you like to wait for him?"

Instead of replying, Gale walked around me and sat in one of the two chairs that were in front of my desk. He crossed his legs and put his right arm over the chair.

"Normally I wouldn't have waited for him," he started with a teasing smile. "but today seems to be an exception. It's been long since I have been in a company of a beautiful woman such as yourself."

I sat back in my chair. "I'm sure you say that to all the women you meet," I replied with a snort and a shake of my head.

He cocked his head to the side and studied me. "You're different, Lauren."

I couldn't help but chuckle. "That line is overrated. I don't think it works anymore." Gale inhaled a dramatic sighed and crossed his arms in front of him.

"Can I get you something to drink?" I suddenly remembered how to be a good assistant.

His dimples appeared. "No, I'm good, Lauren." A minute passed before he asked, "How long have you worked here?"

"Not that long."

"And do you like it here?"

"Well, I don't go home smelling like nuggets." A brow raised and I explained, "I worked in a cafe where they serve mostly nuggets."

"I'm sure they were devastated when you quit."

"Why would they be devastated?"

"Because you leaving might chase away some of their customers. I'm sure you know you're beautiful."

My mouth formed a shape before I smiled. "What's your relationship with Mr. Campbell?"

Suddenly, a shadow fell across my shoulder, and I looked up, startled to see Mr. Campbell standing there with an irritating look on his face.

"I don't pay you to sit around and inquire about my relationships, Ms. Hart."

I almost choked when I answered with my head down, completely embarrassed. "Of course, sir. I'm sorry." Now, he's going to think I'm a nosy bitch. He already thought a lot about me.

He glanced at Gale. "You couldn't resist the chance to gossip about me?" he asked bitterly.

"Only you'd think you matter that much, Mason. Come on, let's head into your office. You have bigger problems than your ego."

As if he controlled himself with an effort, Mr. Campbell glared at me and turned, walking away to his office. Gale followed behind eagerly, all traces of the amusement gone from his face.

What was that about? And what problems was Mr. Campbell facing now? That is none of your business, Lauren. It's not your job to know everything about him. Besides, someone like Mason Campbell would always face problems.

In the next fifteen minutes, I heard crashing coming from his office. I jumped in fright and my eyes remained frozen to the door.

What the hell was happening inside? Were they in a fight? No, Mr. Campbell would not engage in a fist fight at the office. What should I do? Call the security or barge in there?

I was on my feet when the door opened ten minutes later, and Gale's head popped out. He looked exactly the same way he got here. No bruises or blood on him. That was a good sign. I should say something, ask what happened, but how?

"Lauren," Gale said, almost happily. He grinned at me. "It was nice to meet you. I hope to see you again soon...in a different location, I hope. Your boss will see you now."

Not wasting any second, I rushed inside the office. Everything on Mr. Campbell's desk was scattered on the ground with a few broken things. Deliberately, I let my eyes wander to him. From his place by the window, Mr. Campbell watched my reaction with a poker face.

"Sir, is everything alright?" I said, at last, the words sounding soft and hesitant.

"Yes," he said abruptly, and the look in his eyes went through me like a jolt, making my heart pound dizzily.

"You'd better clean this up," he said dryly, making his way to the door. "You'd better not speak to anyone about this."

That you threw a tantrum? I almost slipped out and judging from the way he was looking at me as if he wanted to stab me with his pen, I knew he must have guessed my thought. A slow smirk graced the corner of my lips.

He slammed the door.


For the next few days, Mr. Campbell's behavior changed towards everyone, not like he wasn't an asshole before but he became worse. He was snappy, angry and screamed at everyone. We were all on edge and were put on so much pressure. Everyone was afraid of stepping out of line and risk getting fired.

I knew something was bothering him, but I couldn't put my fingers into it.

Friday night, I was sleeping when my phone rang at three in the morning. The sound of it woke me up from my slumber sleep. Looking at the unknown number, I wanted to ignore it, but then, I thought it could be related to my dad.

Nervously and frightened to hear some bad news, I answered the call.

"Hello?"

"Ms. Hart." It was a deep, lazy drawl, delivered in a velvet voice, and I felt a thrill inside me.

"Mr. Campbell?" I asked in shock, rubbing my eyes. "Is everything alright? It's three in the morning."

"Is it?" His rough voice dripped with sarcasm. "I want to see you. Now, Ms. Hart. Queens Hotel. Room number 205."

"H..hotel?" I choked, my eye bulging out of their sockets.

"I'll see you in ten."

I couldn't grasp what he had said until I heard the call ended. "What the hell?" I muttered to myself.

I didn't change out into what I was wearing which was shorts and a vest. I decided to wear a hoodie over it.

Beth was still sleeping when I snuck out of our flat. Approaching the luxurious hotel from the taxi, I noted the presence of a clerk who

took my name and used the phone before sending me up by elevator to Mr. Campbell's suite on the top floor.

I didn't understand why he wanted me to meet him at the hotel when he could just send me to his house or meet somewhere that wasn't a freaking hotel.

The elevator doors slid open and I walked out, searching for his room number. When I stopped in front of the door, it took a great deal of courage before I slowly knocked.

Three minutes later, Mr. Campbell opened the door. He stood there in a polo shirt that revealed his huge muscles and black pants that hugged his thigh. His hair was ruffled and his lips quirked slightly. He looked so hot. I knew that Mason Campbell was self-assured, even arrogant, a man who would have no trouble attracting any woman he wanted.

I blinked, caught by surprise. I felt like he wasn't my boss, that he was someone I would pick up from a bar and talk about him all week. He looked so damn beautiful it hurt. I wanted to check if I was drooling, but decided against it. I smiled a little. But there was no answering smile in the grey eyes that met mine.

My smile faltered in the face of his cold welcome.

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