Why was it that every time you're peacefully sleeping, something or the other has to wake you up? As for me, it was my annoying phone. I should learn to switch it off. I was going to ignore it or throw it away, but it kept ringing and ringing, over and over again. I grabbed it from under my pillow and cracked an eye, staring at the caller ID. I groaned and put the phone on silent, rolling over on the bed to go back to sleep.
He never called at the right time. He always had to ruin my sleep over something completely stupid. I would bet on anything the thing he was calling me for was nothing important that couldn't be said tomorrow. He was acting like an impatient little wanker, or like he didn't have tomorrow to live.
Whatever he had to say to me could be said tomorrow, but tonight I sleep. He could turn into Hulk for all I cared. His anger was no match for my love for my warm bed.
I woke up to Beth banging on the door mercilessly, and I groaned, burying my head into the pillow. When I didn't answer, she made it upon herself to get the extra key and opened the door, walking in.
"Lauren, get up."
I ignored her. I knew ignoring people would make them go away. Sadly, one of those people was not my roommate. She was persistent. That was an annoying trait she had.
"Lauren, I'm not joking," she said, sounding serious. "Get up and come see for yourself."
Unless the flat was on fire, I had no interest in anything. But if my fiancé turned up on our door wearing a pink dress and matching heels, now that, was something I would love to see and would most definitely never see.
"What time is it?" I finally asked, not lifting my head up. I knew it was too early in the morning, but what I didn't know was how early it was.
"Does it matter? Your fiancé's driver is sitting outside our building."
"What!" That got me up in a flash, any traces of sleep completely wiped away by this little information. I looked down from the window and found Mason's car outside the building. What the hell was Coop doing here? "How long has he been down there?"
She shrugged. "A while, probably. Do you know why he is here?"
A light bulb flashed through my head and I drew back away from the window. "Where's my phone?" Beth waved it in her hand and I snatched it, biting my lower lip as I unlocked the phone.
I was greeted with ten missed calls and six messages from Mason. I stumbled back and my ass hit the bed, my eyes going over the messages.
Pick up this instant.
The sole purpose of phones is to answer calls, Lauren. Something you're failing to realize.
I'd answer my calls if I were you.
I skipped the rest of his messages that involved him insulting my intelligence and stuff. The last message had my eyes popping out of their sockets and my jaw almost dropping to the ground.
Coop is downstairs waiting for you. You and I are going away for a few days. The flight takes off at eight in the morning. You better not be late. Pack light. Either way, it'd be up to me whether your bags would come along or not.
"Oh, exciting!" Beth chirped. She had read the text over my shoulder. Only she would think this was exciting.
I wondered where the hell he wanted to take me, but I wanted no part in it. Just because he was my fiancé didn't mean I trusted him not to hurt me. I wouldn't be foolish enough to go anywhere that I didn't know with him.
"Do you want me to help you pack?"
Oh, Beth. Ever the kind of friend who gets excited over anything and everything.
"Nope, I'm not going." I went ahead to bed to go back to sleep, but it was Beth who pulled on my arm and drew me back to her.
She stared at me. "No, you're not. You're going to go pack and you will get inside Mason's car."
I pulled my arm away from her. "And have him kill me where my body won't be recovered? No, thanks."
"For someone who claims to be a grown-up, you sure act like a child sometimes. Mason isn't going to kill you, Laurie. I'm sure he's taking you somewhere amazing, and you wouldn't know that because you're being so silly right now!"
"And you're being so annoying," I complained.
"Listen to me," she said in a serious tone. I couldn't remember the last time I heard Beth talk in this tone before. "You're going to marry him, and you're going to live with him for a year. The more you defy him, the more he would make your life hell when you move in with him. The best thing you should be doing is getting on his good side. Don't do anything that will piss him off and you will actually live for one year in peace."
There was a reason Beth was the smarter one, even though she rarely showed it. I couldn't look away at how right she was. If I was going to survive in the lion's den, I needed to know how to control it. If I couldn't tame him, I would at least calm the storm.
She smiled in satisfaction when I got my duffel bag out and began to pack a few clothes. He did say a few, not so much or I would lose everything. I snorted. That man was the most dramatic person I had ever come across. And to think his demands were going to be what I would hear for a year.
It was going to be a miserable year, but one thing for sure, I was going to remind him that I was someone who didn't like to be controlled. I demanded respect. I earned it. He wasn't going to treat me like his employee. I was to be his wife, and no wife deserved to be stepped on by her husband. Respect and be respected.
I apologized to Coop for the hundredth time. I felt so bad for keeping him waiting, and for being dragging away from his home in the middle of the night. I wanted to ask him if he had a family, but it was really none of my business. Although, curiosity was really killing me.
Being dropped off at the airport without explanation didn't seem like a great start. I thought Coop was leaving me, but he came back five minutes later and escorted me inside, where Mason awaited us.
Ever felt this weird sensation when you've done something wrong and you are too afraid to face the consequences? That was how I felt at the moment when I was about to meet my fiancé. I wanted to turn around and bolt, but Lauren Hart was no coward. Okay, maybe I was a bit of a coward, but I wasn't going to hide from Mason.
The Campbell logo was on the private plane Coop ushered me inside. I had learned that it was about to take off in four minutes, so I was lucky enough to be on time. I had never been inside a private plane before and let me tell you, I wanted to die right here and never come out. It was so beautiful, clean and shiny. It smelled expensive too. But it was missing something: Mason.
The sweet flight attendant gave me a polite smile and asked me if I wanted anything. I wanted to tell her to get her boss, but I didn't want her to twist my words and make her think I actually liked Mason or wanted to see him. I just wanted to assure myself that he was on the plane, that he didn't just get me here only to have the plane crashed and call it an accident while the pilot and the flight attendants escaped.
I relaxed on my seat, leaning my head back and enjoying the flight. I didn't sleep much in the day, but I could really use a nap to take away the boredom. And where the hell was Mason?
Having taken too much water, my bladder called and I stood up to go to the bathroom, only to come face to face with steel wall of my fiancé. He towered over me like a shield protecting its country, his sweet minty smell hit my nose and made my head lighten. He always smelled incredible.
Mason Campbell always made the air around me close and my lungs compressed. He had such a big impact in my life and I just wish he didn't. I didn't want to glance up at him, because looking at him led to inappropriate thoughts into my head. I wanted to look away to avoid the damage I would bring to myself if I continued to stare. Because Mason was blinding. Captivating. He was a rare breed of human. He was like a toxic drug you couldn't help but get addicted to. It was beautiful, but it was bad for you.
My breath caught in my throat when my eyes betrayed me, and when his own set of eyes descended down on me. Annoyance. Irritation. Fierce. Those were written clear as a day on his face and my stomach knotted. Never once had someone impacted me with just one stare, and my lungs fought for air.
He finally sidestepped me and walked away without a word and I released a hot breath I didn't realize I was holding. Gone was the idea of going to the bathroom and I quietly went back to my own seat. It was odd for him not to say anything, or at least complain about ignoring his calls and getting here late. Either way, it didn't settle well with me. Especially if he was ignoring me while sitting in front of me.
He was reading a book and I couldn't catch the title. Mason wasn't wearing a suit and opted for casual instead. The black shirt he was wearing fitted over his broad shoulders like a second skin, not a wrinkle to be seen and the dark blue pants and black shoes looked good on him. I pursed my lips, studying him. He appeared to be angry based on the way he was gritting his teeth and turning the pages so roughly. I wanted to laugh. He was like a temperamental kid.
I got up from my seat and went to sit in the empty one in front of him. "I'm sorry," I spoke up, trying to cut the tension between us. "I'm calling a truce." Not a word or a hint that he had heard me. I shouldn't be surprised. "I know I made a mistake..."
His soft velvety voice hit me like a drug when he replied, "That's a first one." Mock. Got it.
"Maybe if you stop calling me in the middle of the night, I wouldn't be pissing you off. If it were any boyfriend of mine, I wouldn't have picked up too, so it's really not that deep."
"Talking about a boyfriend when you only had one."
I scowled at his back. "Oh, like you had a lot, Mr. I hate women that's why I'm so miserable and uptight," I said sarcastically.
"I'm neither of those things you mentioned," he drawled in a lazy tone, turning another page in his book.
"Please, tell that to someone who doesn't know you." But he didn't respond again, only focused his attention more on his book. He didn't show any sign that he heard me. I grew curious. What was he reading that was so important and gave his whole attention to? "What are you reading?"
"Duh. I mean what is it called?"
Without lifting his head up to look at me, he spoke as his words cut deep into me. It may not seem like he said much, but he said a lot. "Don't worry about what the title is called. The book is not something your little mind can understand, Lauren. We best not torture you."
"Wow, I love it when you insult my intelligence," I retorted sarcastically, trying to hide how hurt his words made me feel. Sarcasm always came in handy when I want to mask what I was feeling. "How does your ego fit your head?"
He carefully closed the book, taking his time before his head snapped up at me. His eyes were blazed with a hidden emotion that he was able to keep hidden behind his cool exterior. A lock of hair hung over his face and it gave him some sort of a wild, boyish look. My fingers itched to push it out of his face.
"If you're bored, you can ask the flight attendant for a chess board or you can use the exit door," he gritted his teeth and narrowed his eyes at me. "Whichever suits you the most."
His voice vibrated to my core and I scowled. "Just say you want me dead and go. It's not like you haven't brought me on this plane to kill me. Best get on with it right here and right now."
"I don't like getting my hands dirty." His voice was low and husky.
"No, you would rather get someone's hands dirty. That way, you have nothing to do with it and you can escape prison time."
He snorted, and it was so unlike him that I had to turn around and make sure the culprit was behind one. There wasn't. He really did snort.
"I'm not planning on killing you, Lauren. If I wanted to, don't you think I would have done it the first moment we met? And it gives me great satisfaction knowing that it bothers you not knowing where we are going."
The intensity in his eyes caused my heart restlessness. He really did enjoy taunting me.
"Come again?" he asked, a furious edge to his voice.
"I said hallelujah." I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. I remembered Beth's advice about not stepping out of line with him, and it seemed my job was going to get harder by the minute. The more I spent time in his presence, the more he made me want to throw sensible Lauren out of the window, the one who was not foolish enough to bark in the lion's den.
"Are you hungry?"
A laugh bubbled from my lips. "Wow, I'm shocked. Mason Campbell actually cares about a human being," I said in astonishment. "You do have some humanity in you after all."
"If I knew asking you if you were hungry was going to bring out the overly dramatic side of yours, I wouldn't have asked."
"I'm not dramatic."
"Your actions beg to differ."
My jaw clenched. "You're annoying, Mr. Campbell." That was a weak one.
"I'd tell you when I start to care about what you say."
"Aw, come on, you shouldn't be saying that to your future wife. What would the media say about this?" I asked with a wolfish grin. I knew what buttons to push. If there was anything he didn't want to be messed up was this engagement. "Tsk tsk, I could be recording this conversation right now for all you know. They would have a field day with this."
His eyes narrowed and it became more severe as though he was trying to see the thoughts running through my head. "I dare you."
"Don't tempt me."
"Please." His fierce eyes pinned me in place and my heart fluttered in my chest.
An unattractive snort broke free from me. "You just keep dropping bombs on me today. Didn't know the word please are in the Campbell dictionary. You're full of surprises today, Mr. Campbell, but please, take it easy on me. It's only so much a girl can take," I said dramatically, placing my palm over my heart.
He arched a perfect brow. "This just proves that I'm right, yet again. You're a dramatic one." Then he looked down, opened his book and decided he was done entertaining me. I regarded his view with an innocent smile.
That was where he was taking me, but what was in Scotland? I had really thought he was taking me far, but I should be happy that I was close to home.
Someone was waiting for us when walked out of the airport in a black Range Rover. He was a young man, dressed in a black suit as he nodded at us before opening our door for us.
"Where are we really going?" I asked him, looking out of the window. The only time I had been to Scotland was when I was a kid, and we had gone with dad and mum. Everything was vague, but I remembered something happening between my parents. We had needed up leaving earlier than we had intended.
"Home," he replied lowly. "To meet my family."
Surprised by his words, I jerked my head to the left and gaped at him. "What? You're taking me to meet your family?"
Oh my god! I wasn't ready. I couldn't meet Mason's family. I thought I had time. Hell, I didn't imagine I would meet them so quickly. He should have told me and I would have been ready. Ready to disappear.
I leveled him with a hard stare. "You didn't think to give me a heads up?" I bite out.
The glint in his eyes, like he had somehow won by keeping me in the dark and rattling me with this news made me want to throw him out of the car. "I did. Just now."
My jaw clenched and I was barely able to keep the uncontrolled words from spewing from my lips. Breathe, Lauren, Breathe. If I could handle Mason, I could handle the vultures. It was that simple. But my heart pounded in my chest.
"Why do we have to meet them now? Why not after the wedding?" I asked with a lift of my chin.
"My parents have something and won't be able to attend the wedding."
"What kind of parents don't attend their son's wedding? That's the most important thing happening in his life."
His eyes flare with fire. "Maybe we should ask them that? Remind them how important their son is and how selfish of them it is to miss it."
I regarded him with an annoyed look. "I didn't say I was curious." And I huffed, looking away from him to stare out of the window.