Tossing and turning on the sofa, I glared up at the ceiling. Boredom was indeed killing me.
I glanced at Prince, who was laying on the ground, playing with his chewed toy. Normally at this time, Beth and I would watch a movie, or we would decide to go out and talk all night. All those little things we used to do, I was missing it.
But Beth wasn't here, Mason was.
Except, Mason would rather work than live a little. The man was a workaholic, and if he didn't take it easy, he would get sick. I could never understand why people who owned a company were workaholics. I used to think it was because they had no one to come home to, and their lives were so lonely they filled it with paperwork and drown themselves in it so they wouldn't stand by their window and realize how empty their lives were. How sad it was. So they wouldn't have to pity themselves. Being a workaholic was nothing but a coverup for that.
At least, that was what I thought before. But now, being married to one, it seemed that wasn't the case. Mason had me to come home to, even though we weren't close or anything, but I was still here. Waiting. Would he realize that by himself? No.
A great idea formed on my head and I sat up with a grin, glancing at Prince, whom to my amazement, was looking right at me, as if he knew what I was thinking about and warning me not to do it.
"Listen, Prince, do you want Mason to fall sick?" I asked the dog, who still didn't react to my question. Not that I expected him to. "I need to get him away from his work, don't you think?"
Again, the dog didn't respond. I was crazy to think he could communicate with me, but I knew Prince was smart.
"Come here, boy." He huffed and looked away, going back to his chewed toy. "Prince!" He lifted his head and growled at me, his sharp teeth making me leaned further away from him. "Bad dog!" I said, pointing my finger at him. He got up from his position and began to gracefully walk away from me.
I guess Mason isn't the only one that I annoyed to the point that they felt the need to walk away from me.
"Prince, wait!" I took hold of his collar and stopped him, crouching down in front of him. I ran my hand over his head and smiled. "Listen, boy, you've to help me. We need to get Mason away from his work. You want him to be okay, right? Would you help me?" He barked in return. "Good boy."
I tiptoed to Mason's study with Prince behind me. Not going to lie, at some point, I thought that he was going to start barking and ruin my plan, but he was quiet and obedient. He followed my orders. He was more submissive than Mason ever was.
Carefully cracking the door open so he wouldn't be alerted, I peeked inside through the small opening, my eyes falling on Mason, who was behind his desk, working his arse off. Every five seconds, he would frown and rub his forehead with the pads of his fingers.
I knew he was stressed. The more he worked, the worse it would get for him, but he was too stubborn to take a break. Too proud to admit that he was just like everyone else, a normal human being who gets tired every now and then. He wasn't a machine.
I had to be the one to save him from himself.
Prince nudged me in the leg. "You know what to do. Take those papers away from him and bite him if you have to. Go on now." I pushed him inside and quickly hide, laughing silently.
I felt giddy. I felt like a schoolgirl breaking a rule for the first time. Who says a grown ass woman can't be childish sometimes?
Ten seconds later, I didn't hear anything.
Prince was supposed to get the papers Mason was working on and get the hell out of there. Did the dog even understand English? I thought he was smart. Have I been fooled all along?
I realized that if I needed something done, I should never send a dog to do it. I decided to check it myself and when I peeked inside, I was surprised to find an empty study.
Where could they have gone to? Was there a secret door I wasn't aware of? Did they leave me behind waiting like the fool I was? Was I too busy laughing in my head to realize they had walked out of the study? Let's find out.
Slowly pushing the door open, I walked inside and strode closer to the desk to take a peek, thinking that they could be hiding there. But suddenly remembering whom I was dealing with, I laughed it off. My fingers brushed over the customized black pens, the stack of papers and paper clips, trying to leave my mark there, sort of.
I heard the slamming of the door and the unmistakable sound of a lock clicking in. I whirled around and stared at Mason's devious smirk, then glanced down at Prince, who was wagging his tail in delight.
That damn dog! What a traitor!
"Get her," he ordered.
Prince barked once and my eyes widened in the realization of what was about to happen. I didn't register the scream that escaped from my lips when Prince launched his body at me. He began to chase me around the study, trying to bite me as his owner had ordered. They both knew no mercy.
"I'm sorry!" I yelled–not knowing whom I was apologizing to. Mason or Prince, whom I had underestimated. I ducked under the desk and crawled out just as quickly when I realized Prince could easily get me there. "Prince, stop!"
He kept barking and chasing me as we knocked whatever was on our paths. I didn't think Mason cared about the mess we were making if he was getting a scream out of me. He was probably getting off on it, the sick bastard.
I couldn't even get out because he had locked the door and was standing in front of it, guarding the way out.
Finally, I ran to him, hiding behind his back and breathing hard and fast. Prince stood in front of him, wagging his tail in delight. I glared at him for his betrayal. Mason reached behind him and grasped my arm, bringing me around to stand in front of him. It was his turn to face my dark glare.
"Lauren," he murmured, with a strange note of emphasis in his voice. "You thought you could turn my dog against me." I drew my gaze up, to his shoulders, his jaw, his intense grey eyes. He grinned devilishly. "Humans can be unloyal, but dogs will always remain loyal."
I glared deeply. "I should have thought twice before trusting him. I can't believe you were going to let him bite me."
He stepped closer and I took a step back, feeling him closely; a warmth, a presence that made me stiffen with awareness. His hands that were now on my shoulders kept me pressed back against the desk; his body planted solidly in front of me prevented any move in any direction.
"What did you expect?" he asked softly, gazing down at me in amusement. "I was only returning the favor."
I didn't share his amusement. "What if I had died of a heart attack from fear? Or slip and crush my skull against the desk?"
In the silence that roared in my ears, he moved closer. "Now, you're just being dramatic. Something you're well known for." He put his hands on my chin and lifted my head up, checking my face and then lowered his gaze to my body before going back up to my face.
"And you look fine to me." His minty breath hit my nose. I scoffed in return. "Why do you like looking for my trouble?"
"I don't look for trouble. It just follows me. Like a magnet." I pushed away and took a step past him. But he turned with me, caught me as I moved. His arm trapped me back against his chest. He bowed his face to the curve of my throat. I felt his mouth against the soft skin just below my ear.
"I won't protect you from Prince next time," he murmured.
Gripping his sleeve, I pulled forcibly away. I walked quickly to the other side of the room and stood looking at him, rubbing my hands up and down my sleeves, as if trying to erase his touch.
"Take a sit, Lauren." A long silence followed his words. "Unless you're afraid."
"Afraid? Of you? Never," I exclaimed, crossing my arms.
Mason gazed at me, then smiled faintly and shook his head. "Then take a damn seat."
I obliged and sat down on the leather couch, watching him go back to his desk and took his own seat, resuming back to his work.
"So, how was work today?" I knew he wasn't going to answer me, or he would snap at me for being nosy. But surprised me when he did, and honestly.
"A bit stressful, but I guess when is it not?" he said without looking up. "And we have to release our product by the end of the year. Someone told me my rival company is launching a product soon. I can't have that clash with my launch."
"Would it be that bad?"
"Business always have tough competitions, Lauren. They would stop at nothing to bring your company down and it all depends on the kind of product you're releasing and the time of the launch."
"I don't get it."
"It's quite simple. For instance, my company and Sanders are planning to launch a product soon. If I do it first, it's bad because it's close to their own launch. No one really pays much attention to others when another company launches their new product, and if I wait for a few more months, I would lose a lot of money in the process."
"That's brutal," I remarked.
I digested that for a moment before I asked, "It's the drone project, right? The one I attended meetings for?"
Mason answered with a slight nod, still not looking at me. "Originally yes, but there have been some changes."
"Don't worry, everything will be fine. I'm definitely sure your team won't let you down."
He looked amused. "I don't get worried."
"Yeah, because you're a freaking machine who feels nothing."
Slowly, he raised his head. The merest hint of a smile graced his lips. "Your job interview is tomorrow, correct? I'd have Coop drive you. He's going to be your personal driver now."
I looked up into his face. "What about you?"
"I'd drive myself to work. I'm very well capable of doing that."
A flash of humor briefly lit my eyes. "That isn't very Mason Campbell like. Driving yourself to work. Tsk, tsk, what would people say?"
"They'd say nothing because it's none of their business." He raised both his eyebrows before looking back down at his work again.
I smiled briefly and got up on my feet. "Hm. Okay, let me leave you to your work. I would head upstairs and watch something, then sleep. Goodnight, Mason." I headed to the door.
"Goodnight," he quietly called back.
"Hi, I'm Lauren Campbell. I'm here for the interview." The woman stopped typing on her computer and looked up at me with wide eyes. Earlier when I walked in, she could barely look at me or acknowledge my presence. I had to wait approximately ten minutes before she beckoned me over.
I was already used to this kind of attitude from working at Campbell Industry. Her rude behavior was nothing but a piece of icing on a cake.
"Lauren Campbell?" she repeated my name in awe, adjusting her rimmed glasses. "I'd tell Mr. Black you're here." And she walked around her desk, hurrying to her boss' office.
Sitting back down on the chair, I waited for a few minutes before I saw her rush out of her boss' office, beaming at me. "He will see you now."
"Thank you." I walked past her, noting how she was staring at me like I was an attraction in a zoo or a museum. Shaking my head, I walked inside Mr. Black's office.
"Mrs. Campbell! I'm Jerome Black, head of the department," Mr. Black exclaimed, getting up from his chair to shake my hand. "It's good to finally meet you."
"Likewise," I replied politely as I sat down.
"I was really happy when I got the news that Mason Campbell's wife wanted to work here," Jerome said with as much joy as he could muster. "This is an opportunity we couldn't let get past us."
I tried to hide my frown. "Um..yeah. I'm here for the ..... interview? Here's my resume." I handed it to him, but Jerome didn't take it, grinning at me like he had seen his meal.
"Interview? I can't possibly interview you, Mrs. Campbell."
"What do you mean?"
"You have the job!" he announced in delight. "And congratulations for getting promoted too!"
My jaw dropped. "Excuse me?" I didn't fail to hide my shock or disgust. I could have gotten him wrong. He couldn't have offered me a job without an interview, and a promotion? All in six seconds that he had met me?
"Oh, you have nothing to worry about! Here." He pushed an empty paper and a pen towards me. "Write down what you want your salary to be. You're going to be a great addition to the company." He entwined his fingers in front of him and grinned widely, showing the front gap of his teeth.
"Oh, I can only imagine where the company would head with Campbell Industry's help. With you working here, I'm sure your husband would be delighted to work with us."
By now, my mouth was left hanging in shock. I was in disbelief and in denial at how everything had just turned out. Jerome Black wasn't interested in me, he was more interested in what Mason would do for him and his company. I got the job not because he saw that I was qualified for it, but because I was Mrs. Campbell, wife to the powerful businessman, Mason Campbell.
"Excuse me," I said tightly, taking my resume as I stood up on my feet. "Thank you for your time, Mr. Black, but I don't think it's going to work out." You son of a bitch.
"Wait!" He called out in panic, but I didn't stop to entertain him. I walked out of the company, my heart beating against my ribcage. I wanted to scream out in anger, but I could only hold it in as I got inside the car.
"Yes, Coop. Take me home."
It was all Athena's fault! She was the one who listed my name as Lauren Campbell, or I wouldn't have had to go through what I did just now.
Glaring out at the window, part of me was glad I wasn't going to work there, but another part of me was sad that I didn't have a job. I was back to square one again.
Should I just continue to search online for jobs, or should I keep my pride down and ask Mason for help?
No. I groaned. I was not going to ask for his help. No matter how hard it would get, I wouldn't be able to do it. When I get home, I would need to look up for jobs myself. I was not going to depend on my rich husband to get me one. I could do it. After all, I had done it before.
Unlocking my phone, I paused at Mason's name and contemplated texting him, but I locked it and put it back in my bag, deciding against it.