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Chapter 22

A f e w d a y s l a t e r

I get married to Mason Campbell today.

In a few hours, I would officially be Mrs. Mason Campbell. Any bride on her wedding day was supposed to be happy, but as for me, I was freaking out. I was having second thoughts. I didn't think I would be able to do this. It was enough that everywhere I went, people knew me. They suddenly liked me. The people that didn't like me pretended to like me just so they could attend the wedding and sell fake information to the media.

The wedding of the year was not going to be a big wedding, after all. I told Mason that I wanted a small wedding and he was okay with it. If it was up to him, the only people at the wedding would be just the two of us. Beth was the one who helped me picked out my wedding dress. I opted for the simplest wedding dress, not too flashy and not too expensive. Even though it pissed her off that I wasn't taking advantage of Mason's credit card, she could do nothing but accept my decision. She helped me planned the wedding and offered me consoling words when I was ready to run away from the country.

I never told her what had happened back in Scotland. I think I just wanted to move on and forget about it. None of Mason's family were coming from what I had heard, and it would have actually hurt me if I cared about them. It didn't look like he cared too. He just wanted to get me married to him and get his money, with or without anyone being present.

My dad couldn't stop being so happy. When I visited him the minute I got back from Scotland, he gave me the best wedding present; a family heirloom. He said the ring was his grandmother's who had passed it down to his mother. The night he had run away with my mum to get married to her, he stole it from his mother's jewelry box. Even after he stole it, he could never bring himself to give it to my mum. He told me he had no idea why he never gave it to her, but I was just glad he was giving it to me now. My mother was never meant to have it anyway.

It was so beautiful. The ring was the only one in the entire universe, designed by his grandfather to his wife. It was the shape of the sun with a moon in the middle of the sun and little stars in between. I held on to it tightly, promising him never to lose it. It was the best present I had ever gotten and it hurt me to keep lying to him.

"Thanks again, dad," I said, rubbing the ring on my finger before looking back up at him. Fresh tears appeared at the corner of his eyes and I wiped them away. "Dad, please don't. You're acting like I'm dying."

"You're getting married in a few days, Laurie," he said as tears rolled down on his cheek. "Let me cry, my beautiful girl. I'm just so lucky I'm able to see this."

"Stop, you're going to make me cry too." We chuckled in unison as I wiped a single tear that gathered at my eyes. I placed my hand on top of his and smiled. "I'm happy you would be there with me."

A strange look took over his face before he sighed. "I wish your mother was here to see this."

My fingers tightened a little and I tried to keep my anger at bay when I replied, "Dad, don't. Please, don't ruin this moment by talking about her."

He lifted his hand weakly and caressed my cheek lovingly. He looked a lot better than he did the last time I saw him. Mason said the minute we got married, his treatment would start and I couldn't wait for my dad to start acting like he used to before he got sick. He had always been like a child at Christmas, full of light, happiness, and energy. I wanted that man back. And I was going to very soon.

"As you wish, honey," he replied, his arms coming around me to pull me against him. "But you need to let go of your anger, Lauren. Whatever anyone does to us, the best thing we should do in return is to forgive them. When you forgive, you find your mind at peace. You hear?"

I heard him quite alright. But what that woman did to us, the way she had destroyed us...she didn't deserve forgiveness. Dad was too nice. He could never hold a grudge against anyone. I was glad I didn't get that trait.

Pulling back from him, I helped him lay his head back against the pillow and adjusted the covers on him. "Would you be okay to walk me down the aisle? Did the doctor give a go ahead?"

He grinned. "I'm fully capable of walking my daughter down the aisle. If my legs were cut off, I'd drag myself by the belly and walk you down, honey."

I chuckled lightly and rose to my feet. "I know. You've always been a stubborn man." I leaned down and kissed him on the forehead. "I've sent your tux for dry cleaning. I'd send Beth here when it's done, okay?"

"Okay, honey. Are you leaving?" He asked, watching me get my purse from the chair. "So soon?"

"Well, you know I've got a lot of things to cover, but don't worry, I will see you soon."

Beth had done my makeup and hair after refusing to get a professional's help. She kept forgetting that this marriage was only going to last for one year. I never forgot that piece of information. It was always at the back of my mind, questioning every thought and decision I made.

I was sitting alone in one of the rooms of Mason's private estate where we would get married. It was secluded and most of the area was off limits to everyone. He had chosen this spot precisely because of that, and no one knew this was the place we were going to get married at. He already had Coop send the media on a wild goose chase, and by the time they found out we were here, the wedding would be over then.

It was a large, open room, half of the entire fourth floor of the house. The windows facing the south gave enough light to warm the room. It was the most beautiful room, better than the room I stayed in in his family's home.

I was facing the large standing mirror with chewed lips, wiping off the lipstick Beth had put on me, but I didn't care. My dress fitted my body tightly, the lace long-sleeved stopping just below my elbow. The square neckline was dangerously low, much to Beth's excitement. The skirt was a soft bell that swayed gently when I walked. There was nothing loud about my wedding dress, just how I liked it. My hair hung back down my shoulders, ending in curls.

I sat down in one of the tea chairs, very still, the heaviness of my thoughts putting a stop to my movements. This was the day I had long dreaded, and it was actually happening. Nothing could stop it.

Suddenly, the door burst open and Beth entered the room, looking so beautiful in her light pink dress that hugged all of her curves. Unlike me, her face was radiating happiness.

"I'm never going to stop saying you look amazing!" she gushed, moving to stand in front of my view. "Although you look like a thousand-pound bride, not a million-pound bride."

I snorted in reply.

"Did you see Mason?" She choked on his name. "He looks so hot, oh my god! He looks like a fucking angel of death, but like the gorgeous one. MANLY! His shoulders in that tux...!" She held her arms out to their fullest extent, then sighed dramatically. "I think every woman present there would have problem sleeping tonight. Sorry, I know he's your husband, but as your best friend, I'm saying he would be a guest in my wet dreams tonight."

I rolled my eyes.

"And those eyes of his! Lauren, how do you keep breathing in his presence? I was nearly knocked into unconscious when I saw him. And bloody hell the way he walks, you'd think the world would bend its knee for him. I would certainly bend the knee for him. I would bend a lot of things." She giggled, then stopped when she how unamused I looked.

It didn't take long before she sat on the other chair. "Are you okay?"

"I'm past okay."

She clasped her hand with mine. "Wedding jitters, you will be fine. I'm super mad that I've been demoted to being a guest at my best friend's wedding. I'm supposed to walk down the aisle with a bouquet in hand because I'm your bridesmaid, but your asshole of a husband did not want that. What did you say he said? Waste of time." She puffed out an angry smoke.

I grinned with amusement. "You literally were just praising him ten seconds ago."

"I'm not allowed to have mood swings?"

I laughed. It was my first laugh today and it eased some tension in me. I really needed that. Beth had no idea, or maybe she did. Best friends could tell. They have that superpower. At least, my own best friend does.

When dad walked me down the aisle, he looked happy and free, almost like me not getting married was the only problem in his life. The guests were about thirty–including Athena and Aaron. I had invited Jade, but I didn't think she was going to show up. I would have been utterly surprised if she had. A few of Mason's family that I didn't know about came to the wedding, and the only familiar face was Sebastian Campbell, who looked just about excited as a kid being presented with a cake.

Standing in front of the man I was going to marry with my father behind me, my legs almost gave out and I was nervously staring into the chiseled face with a strong jaw and intimidating look. I tried to steady my nerves by reminding myself that I wasn't going to pretend to be a loving wife in our home and that this was nothing but a contract, a piece of paper that would bind me to him for a year. There was nothing to be scared about.

I stared at Mason, who had just spoken his own vows without any trace of nervousness, or his voice breaking in between his words. He stared straight ahead at me and the lines of his hard profile made my skin prickle. It was like he was waiting for me to mess up or bolt right out of there, but he was also trusting me to stay right there and share vows with him. To look him in the eyes and make myself his like he said I was.

"I, Lauren Marie Hart," I said as I gulped for air. "Take thee, Mason Campbell, to be my lawful wedded husband." Behind me in the front row seat, Beth gave a tiny squeal that wasn't as quiet as she thought. "In sickness and in health.." I continued as my hands started to shake in his and he squeezed them in comfort. "Till death do you part."

Beth gave a big snort and the guests chuckled behind me. Mason cocked one brow in a typical Mason way and what I had just said kicked in, feeling the corners of my mouth lift in.

His brows pressed together and those gray eyes regarded me with a speck of amusement. Obviously, he would find me wishing him death alone amusing, and he was probably wondering why I was obsessed with death.

He held my left hand as he put a gold band on my finger. "With this ring, I thee wed," he said dryly. He was definitely the most bored looking groom that had ever existed in life. He looked like he had better places to be, and being here, getting married to me was boring him.

"I pronounce you husband and wife."

I tensed when I waited for the priest to add you may kiss the bride. This was definitely the part that Mason and I failed to discuss. I wasn't going to bloody kiss him, and he didn't seem too excited to kiss me either. I could feel the excitement radiating off Beth's body. I wanted to turn and glare at her, but I kept my eyes fixed on him.

But when the priest didn't say anything more and Mason grabbed my hand walking me back down, I finally understood. He must have warned the priest not to talk about kissing the bride. I sent a warm, grateful smile to his back as a feeling of respect for him warmed into me and another knowledge grasped through my head.

I was married. I was Lauren Campbell.

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