Mason's family lived in a castle. Well, it looked like one and it was beautiful. I couldn't stop staring. I had never seen a mansion like this in my wildest dreams, and here I was, about to walk into one. The gates were black and big, the path down to the mansion took us a whole minute to get there. The plot of land was big and unnecessary in my opinion. Fifty houses could be built in it, but a wide mansion with four parts was standing in the middle.
I didn't forget that I was going to face the Campbells and I still had that fear inside that seemed to stretch with every step I took.
Walking out of the car, two men rushed out of the house and came to collect our bags, which I had now noticed I was the only one who had it. Mason didn't bring anything. Why would he? This was his home.
I looked up at the door and gulped. I could feel the whispers of the devil silently inviting me inside to ruin me.
"Master Mason." A tall man stood in front of us in a black suit, his hair and beard the color of gray, standing deliberately posed, both hands behind his back and his chest puffed out. "Welcome home." There were a sudden lightness and love in his tone.
"Leon," Mason replied, nodding at him. There was no sense of familiarly in his tone, no warmth or love.
The man named Leon shifted his gaze towards me and narrowed his eyes at me. "Welcome, ma'am."
I haven't even stepped foot inside and I was already being hated on. What the hell did I do to this old man that he decided to hate me at first sight? The only sensible explanation could be that he may be in love with Mason, but I quickly averted that ridiculous thought. The man was old enough to be his grandfather, surely there had to be a good explanation than that.
"If you'd please follow me, Master Mason, your father wishes to see you in the outhouse. He heard you were in the country the minute your plane had landed."
"Alright." Then, Mason's lips tightened slightly. "And, Leon, you might want to change the tone of your voice next time you're speaking to my fiancée."
Leon's eyes widened in shock before he recovered and cleared his throat. "My apologies, sir. And to you, ma'am."
"It's okay," I squeaked out, feeling the warmth that went through my body at Mason coming to my defense. Not that I needed it, but it was strange.
"Lauren." Mason's fingers grazed over my arm when he turned to me. "I need to see my father. You may go in first."
His words had me widening my eyes in alarm. I shook my head and shuffled back a step. "What? No, I can't go in alone," I said faintly. "I don't know these people."
"Don't be stubborn, love. Leon will escort you inside. I'll just be with you in a bit." His expression was as harshly forbidding as his tone, but I didn't think anyone could pick it up except me.
Then, he surprised me when he snaked an arm around my waist and drew me to his chest. I gasped when dozens of lightning bolt surged through my body. My eyes wide open at him, he placed his forehead on top of mine, releasing a hot breath that hit my face and made me shudder.
His breath smelled of mint and chocolate, an intoxicating combination of a smell. Rooted to the spot and unable to move, Mason began to rub our foreheads together before moving to place a light kiss on my cheek, drawing back to look at me.
"Try not to miss me too much, sweetheart," he spoke lowly, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear and caressed the side of my head.
I was dumbstruck. My heart hammered inside my chest and my breath caught between my lungs when he flashed me a cheeky smile. He was staring at me as if I was the only woman he had ever seen, and it wasn't fair because it was only a show for Leon. Somehow, that set my heart off.
But for a second, I just wanted to believe that he was looking at me this way because he wanted to. Because I was really special to this raw, sexy and powerful man who held the world in his hands.
Something I couldn't help was starting to happen and I didn't want to let it go further.
"I dare you to stop me from missing you," I played along, smiling like I believed my own lies. "If I don't see you soon, I'm coming to look for you."
He nodded and turned away, walking off to another direction. I stared back at him, his muscles flexing as he walked and the smile on my face didn't cease.
Leon cleared his throat, catching my attention. My cheeks flared, although, I was taken aback by the new expression on his face. It wasn't hostility, more like acceptance. I wondered what changed his mind about me.
"Shall we go in?"
I nodded and followed him inside. It was like stepping into paradise. One couldn't really tell how much money was spent on the interior designs. Beth would have gone crazy if she were here.
"Who are you?" The sound of footsteps appearing from a hallway walked towards us, and I drew in a breath. He was young– had to be in his late twenties and he was handsome with his dark hair and wide shoulders. He was over six feet tall, sharp cheekbones with a smooth, square jaw. His eyes were emerald green and playful. He didn't resemble Mason, but he was also not better looking than him.
"Yes?" He arched a brow at me. "Who are you?" he asked in a deep voice that seemed to make my whole body vibrate in the wrong way.
"She's Master Mason's fiancée."
The man glanced briefly at Leon. "Mason's fiancée?" His brow pulled together in a disbelieving frown. "You can go, Leon."
I heard Leon's retreating footsteps. He turned to me. "Are you?"
"Am I what?"
"Mason's fiancée," he muttered in a frustrated tone.
"Yeah," I replied sharply, willing myself not to cower before him. He didn't scare me.
He straightened swiftly, smiling, but his eyes were watchful. "Are you sure we are talking about the same Mason? Our Mason would never get engaged to any woman, not since when–" He caught himself with a short laugh. "Are you with the reporters?"
"If we're talking about Mason Campbell, then yes." My hand clenched in spite of myself. "I'm his fiancée, Lauren Hart. Nice to meet you."
One of his eyebrows arched coolly. "If you are lying to me, Lauren Hart, I'd personally take you to meet my two dogs and they would rip you to shreds. I hate liars."
Who the hell does this guy think he was? I was seconds away from throwing politeness out of the window. "Well, then, I guess you have to find someone else to take."
His lips curled in a faint, ironic smile. "Let me take you to meet everyone, Mason's fiancée." He started to turn around when I snapped.
"My name is Lauren," I corrected in annoyance.
He nodded his head with a slight smile.
"Lauren, of course, my apologies. Follow me."
I walked closely behind him, and panic made me want to run and get out of there fast. Our footsteps made the only sound as we went along; the house might have been empty, but it was only as we reached the end of the hallway that the first sounds came to meet us; at first, a whispering growing through the footsteps, then swallowing to a chattering.
I glanced at the man beside me, but his stern face showed nothing.
At the end of the hallway, there were two good double doors and I stepped inside. For a moment, the chattering didn't stop. Then, heads began to turn and I found myself confronted by a row of blanched, staring faces in terrifying silence. I looked around me helplessly for an escape, but the man was blocking my path behind.
Then, somewhere, someone tittered, and another voice took it up, "Sebastian, why are you standing by the door? And whom have you brought with you?"
I couldn't tell who was talking, because they were a few in here– maybe like five people sitting on the most gorgeous royal chairs. I stayed rooted to the spot, looking at all of them, the brightness and elegance of their clothes and jewels hurting my eyes.
"I brought you Mason's fiancée, Lauren Hart," Sebastian replied in delight, nudging me forward into the living room.
"What?!" A woman shrieked, getting up from the chair. My eyes connected with her as she stormed over to me. She was beautiful, her blonde, curly hair bounced on her shoulders as she walked with grace and elegance. She wore a short sparkly dress and black heels that clicked on the floor.
She stood a few away from me, her hazel eyes boring into mine. She stared at me like she wanted to kill me, and I gave her the look that said I wasn't scared of her. The woman had sharp cheekbones, her nose straight and when she frowned, dimples appeared on both cheeks. Her pouty lips were painted with bold red color and diamond necklace lay across her neck, glittering like stars. This girl was everything I wasn't.
"Did you just say she's Mason's fiancée?"
Sebastian did not answer her, but his smile was malicious as he looked behind her at the woman walking towards us. Even before any could tell me, I knew she was Mason's mother. She had a striking resemblance to her son. Her bronze hair was done stylishly, and her blouse and pantsuit made her look younger than her age. But it was the antagonism in her face that shocked me; as she glanced towards me, her gray eyes were smoldering and her mouth was hard. I gulped before I could stop myself.
Then, she surveyed me a moment longer; then she demanded, "Is what my nephew said true? Are you my son's fiancée?"
"Yes." Don't react. Breathe.
"You're lying," The other girl said, her expression stony. "Mason would never give a person like you another glance."
I rolled my eyes at her despite the hammering of my chest. "Oh, but he did. Looks like you don't know him that well." I gave her a polite smile as her eyes blazed.
"Enough, Chloe," Mason's mother barked at her, then glared at me. "Are you pregnant?"
My jaw dropped at her question. I opened and closed my mouth, speechless. She was insinuating that the only reason I would be with her son was if I was pregnant?
Then, suddenly, someone laughed. It was shrill and a little malicious, but there was a note of genuine amusement in it. "Is that a question, mum?" Another girl spoke up. "The only reason why she would be here is if she's pregnant with his child, or maybe she's lying. She's having someone's child and claiming it to be my brother's. I know girls like her who would do anything to trap someone for money."
I ignored her as I curled my fist in anger.
"If this is about money, girl, I would give you a blank check right now and get out of my son's life," she said softly, her narrowed eyes betraying her light tone. "Let me get my purse and we can do this quickly, and then get out of my sight."
"No," I stopped her from moving, meeting her intent gaze steadily enough. "I'm not pregnant." I glared briefly at Chloe. "And I don't want your money," I said this to his mother, and speaking the words clearly, in an effort to feel more confident, I added, "Mason and I are in love. I love him. He loves me." Or so we were saying to everybody.
"Shut up!" Chloe shouted, pointing her manicured finger at me. "Mason isn't in love with you." She grinned with sinister intent. "I'm sure he's doing this to get back at me."
Uh...that isn't true, but I shouldn't say anything. Let her feed her own ego. Something shuddered inside me as I digested the obvious suggestion that Mason might have been involved with Chloe. That would explain a great deal, I thought with a disturbing pang of discomfort, but somehow, I couldn't imagine him with Chloe. She seemed to be a brat.
Sebastian laughed. "Only you would think Mason would waste his time doing something like this, Chloe." Amusement quivered in his voice. "Besides, he hates your very existence."
"No one asked for your opinion, Seb," she fired at him.
"Enough, the both of you." Mason's mother glanced at Sebastian. "Where's Mason? I need to speak to him. This..." She pointed at me in disapproval. "this girl will not do." Then she went back to take her seat.
"Girl, come closer," Another woman barked at me. I jumped a little at the sound but didn't dare move. "I'm talking to you."
"Do not move an inch, Lauren."
I whipped my head around, and there stood Mason, broad chest heaving, his teeth bared like an animal. Our eyes met and locked, and he stared down at me before he moved his gaze back to his aunt in a crazed frenzy of murderous rage.
He ignored his mother and strode to where I stood in-between Sebastian and Chloe, looked down at me and held out his hand. I hesitated at first before I clasped my hand in his, feeling his warmth one.
How could our hands fit so perfectly? Almost like they were made for each other.
He wildly faced his aunt again. "I gave your son my money to start his business when he gambled all his inheritance away, Aunt Matilda. If you want him to still have his business intact, you would do well to respect my fiancée," he said in a low, dangerous and threatening voice. "She's not someone you can order around. And that goes for all of you. Anyone who disrespects her would answer to me."
"Mason!" His mother exclaimed in astonishment and his aunt's cheeks flushed in anger and embarrassment.
Something inside me shifted and I stared up at him in shock, this man who hated me was standing up for me against his family. He must really hate them more.
"You cannot be serious!"
He whirled around so fast and glared at Chloe. It was enough to want me to look away from it. "Shut. Up." Animosity seethed in his voice. It was chilling and frightening. He made two words sounded like a death wish. This was the Mason Campbell Beth and I had heard rumors about. This was the man who made people cower in fear. I would know, I felt like cowering myself and he wasn't even talking to me.
"Not another word out of you, Chloe. I'm speaking to my family." He pointed his long finger at her, his eyes absence of humanity. "The next time you talk, you would know just know how bad I can be."
Chloe took a step back in fright and looked away.
"Now, if you will excuse us, Lauren and I need to check in a hotel. Clearly, she's not welcome here, and I see no fit that I should be here." He grasped my hand tightly and we turned around to leave.
"Don't be foolish, son. No one will say a word to her, I promise." His mother walked over to us and surprised me by hugging me tightly. Some emotion was struggling for expression in her striking face. "Welcome to the family, Lauren." She gave me her best smile. It wasn't nice.
"Give me a good reason why I should trust your words, mother." His eyes were slitted and angry.
"I promise, Mason."
He didn't look like he believed her,
and neither did I.