I squinted at the light that was hammering at my sensitive eyes and snapped them shut again. Oh, it did hurt. Shuffling onto my side, I immediately realized that I was not in my own bed. My eyes flew open, and I sat up. My hands gripped my head to try and ease the pain. It didn't work. It seemed nothing was going to alleviate the thumping.
I gazed around the room, recognizing my surroundings immediately; I was in Mason's bedroom. I was at a total loss at how I came to be here, and how the bloody hell it was morning. I tried to retrace my night, instantly remembering that I had been with Beth and Athena last night, and we had been drinking. In short, the night ended with us getting drunk. This was a hangover I was experiencing. Oh, fuck. I couldn't remember what happened afterward. I would ask myself how I came to be back home, but I really didn't need to ask that question if Mason was in my life. I just didn't remember him picking me up.
Grasping the bedding, I lifted the sheets to look under and found myself in one of Mason's shirts, but at least I had my knickers on. I needed to brush and get rid of the foul taste in my mouth. Maybe I shouldn't have let Beth tricked me into a drinking contest, but I remembered having a great time. I gingerly pushed myself up, untangling myself from the bedding as I went, reveling in the waft of Mason's scent as it hits my nostrils. Every slight movement crashed into my poor head. When I was on my feet, stood in the shirt that didn't quite reach my knees, I staggered. I'm still drunk a little.
I brushed my teeth and had a quick shower. I felt a little better than when I had woken up, but the hangover was still there. Wearing just a simple crop top with jeans shorts, I walked downstairs with my phone in my hand.
"And how's my girl doing?" His voice was smug. Amused. Mason sauntered over to me, looking too fucking delicious in his black shorts with a gray polo shirt, and a messy hair. I knew I probably looked awful with my loose brown hair that I didn't bother to comb.
"Ugh, I feel awful," I confessed moodily. I heard him chuckled to himself as I felt his arms wrapped around me, and I was thankful for the support. I buried my head in his chest and could, quite easily, drift back off to sleep if he hadn't started to tickle me. "Quit it. What the hell happened last night?"
"You don't remember?" he asked, stroking my hair. Even his soft rubs against my skull were unbearably loud. He must have guessed what I was feeling at the moment because he laughed again. And when I shook my head in response, he drawled with an exaggerated sigh, "Well, what didn't happen?"
"Don't bullshit me," I mumbled in his chest with a small pinch. "Tell me exactly what happened. I don't remember you picking me up."
"So, you don't remember calling me and telling me you want to ride my—"
I interrupted him with a gasp, my cheeks painted red. "Shut up! That didn't happen at all."
"How would you know?" he asked with a chuckle. "You don't remember anything, and I'm just trying to fill the gaps here, love."
I could almost see him in my head rolling his eyes.
"Can you let me finish what I started?"
"Sure, by any means humor me with your fake version of what happened last night."
He scooped me up and carried me to the kitchen, placing me on the worktop gently. When I glared at him, he chuckled again, easing his grip away slowly, like he was afraid I might fall off. God, I really felt awful. I grabbed the edge of the worktop to steady myself and watch, through half-open eyes, as Mason opened a cupboard and brought a glass out before he got a bottle of water from the fridge, filling the glass quickly, before walking back over to me.
"Here, drink this. You will feel better."
I stared at it but didn't make any attempt to take it. "It's water."
He had an amused smile on his face when he retorted, "Yes, love. Water is good for you."
"I'm hungover, not dumb," I relayed, thinking about going upstairs and back into bed. Anything to help my pounding head, and I felt a bit dizzy. I also felt like vomiting all over the kitchen.
"And you think I'm the grumpy one." Without another word, he moved between my thighs and lifted the glass to my lips for me. "More?" He tucked a strand of hair behind my ear and kept his hand at the side of my head.
"No, I'm good." I fell forward onto his chest, inhaling his musky scent. "Why did I get drunk last night? I'm never drinking again. I can promise you that."
"No way, sweetheart. Drunk you is more fun than sober you. I will provide five trucks of alcohol for you." He stroked my back, running his hand in circles and creating a new sensation.
"Do you want to turn me into an alcoholic?" I mumbled. "Husband of the year."
"I am, aren't I?"
"That wasn't meant as a compliment!"
His shoulders started to shake. "Anything that comes from you is a compliment," he stated, with the tone of someone who had mastered a skill in lying.
I lifted my head from his chest and beamed at him, fluttering my lashes. "Aw, you're so cute." Then, I glared at him and swatted his arm. "Not."
His hands came back to hold the sides of my head. "You're cute when you're a little mad," he said softly, tracing the line of my jaw. "Hot, actually. Kind of reminds me of what you said last night."
"What did I say last night?" I breathed.
Mason smiled and guided my head back to his chest, wrapping my legs around him as I let my arms fall around his neck, and he slides me from the counter. He carried me through the mansion and set me down on the chair in front of the dining table, walking back to the kitchen and came back with a plate of food that he set in front of me.
He took the chair next to me. "I will tell you all about it when you have breakfast."
My face twisted in disgust at the omelet and bacon. The smell of food made me want to vomit, and I quickly covered my mouth with my palm. I shook my head and pushed the food away from me before I vomited all over the table. That would be embarrassing and disgusting at the same time, especially when I knew he would be the one to clean it up. Ew.
"No, thanks. I don't want it."
"You have to eat something."
"I would like to not vomit," I replied, moving to get up, but he hurled me back down. "I really don't feel like eating anything right now, Mason."
"Alright." His eyes gleamed. "What about me?"
I nearly choked at his words as my face flushed with red. "W..what?"
"What do you mean what? That's what you promise me last night."
I was mortified. I was definitely sure he could be lying and taking advantage of my temporary memory loss. "Oh, God. Can you not?"
His eyes twinkled, sparkling with humor as he enjoyed the way he was affecting me.
"Well, you have to go through with it. It's either eating your breakfast or having me for breakfast. And I'd like to add that the latter is much more edible." A smile danced across his lips.
My arms that were dangling at my sides before were now pushing the plate towards me, as I quickly started to eat, breathing through my mouth so the smell wouldn't have to trigger a vomit.
"Really? Should I get offended by that?" I heard him say, and I gave him a half shrug.
After I finished eating, he carried me upstairs into the bathroom and put me on my feet in front of the sink. He walked out for a few seconds, and as soon as he came back in front of me again, I flopped forward onto his chest.
"Do you know what else you said?" He picked me up and placed me on the vanity unit. "That you finally got me where you wanted. That you were destined to wreak havoc in my life."
"I said all of that?"
"And much more." He cupped his hand on my cheek. "We were always going to happen, no matter which path either one of us took. We would land exactly where we are right now." He grabbed his toothbrush that I loved using, squirting some toothpaste on and ran it under the tap. "Open up," he ordered.
He started to brush my teeth gently, holding my jaw in his free hand. I watched him concentrate on his small, circling movements around my mouth as if he was doing an important task that needed his hundred percent attention.
"You like it when I boss you around. It turns you on," he decided to put in when I was in no shape to defend myself. A glare was all he got before I reached up to cup his stubbled cheek in my hand, and his eyes jumped to mine, his lips parted ever so slightly. He stopped brushing and turned his face into my palm, kissing it tenderly. "No need to be embarrassed. We all have weird things that turn us on."
I dropped my hand from his face and leaned over the sink to rid my mouth of toothpaste before returning to face him with another glare. Running his thumb across my lip, he got some stray paste and slides his thumb in his mouth to clean it off his thumb. It was so hot.
"One mustn't tell lies, Mr. Campbell."
"Has anyone ever told you you get clingy and horny when you're drunk? You almost jumped me in the car. If I hadn't stopped you, you would have taken advantage of me."
I gasped in outrage.
"Take advantage of you?!" I nearly screamed. "I was the one who was drunk!"
The corner of his mouth cocked into a half-smile.
"You don't remember anything, love." He smiled, leaning in and kissing me soft and slow on the lips, his tongue sweeping through my mouth tenderly. He pulled me off of the unit, so I was stood before him. "So, you've got any plans today, Mrs. Campbell?"
"I don't, but I'm going to make some plans to get away from your irritating self."
He laughed and ran his middle finger down the side of my cheek. A wave of tremors flew through me as he kissed my nose gently. "Have fun."
"Gah! I hate him!" I plopped down on the bed and spread my arms wide, staring up at the ceiling.
"What did he do now?" Beth dropped on her back next to me and stared at the ceiling. "Besides giving you the best shag of your life?"
I smiled absently. "He does give the best shag. He's bloody primal," I squealed, squirming a little at the thought of him. A pillow landed on my face. I turned my head and stared at her. "I can't wait for you to have what I have."
"A good shag? That's what one night stands are for, babe."
"Ugh, but wouldn't it be better with someone you have a connection with?"
"According to the one night stands I had, the answer is not really."
"Is this a party we didn't get invited to?" asked a voice from the door. I sat up to see Aaron, in harem pants and a polo shirt, standing right next to Athena, her green hair was now a pale pink that was held by an effortless knot.
"What are you guys talking about?" Athena asked as she jumped on the bed with her ankle boots and everything. "I hope there's tequila." Her leather top clings to her skin and the leather skirt she was wearing was tight and short.
"We are not drinking again."
"Aw, come on, Lauren. We can't have a party without drinking. Did my nephew sucked the fun out of you?"
"Speaking of your nephew, he's an ass."
"You're not wrong there. He has a great ass." Aaron headed to my old desk and flipped the chair around to sit. I flipped him off while looking at Athena, who made her head comfortable on Beth's lap, her legs crossed over.
"Do you know what happened last night? I can't remember anything and Beth just keeps laughing. And I don't trust the words of your prick nephew."
She grinned and nodded. "I do remember. I wasn't exactly as drunk as you all were, but it was fun. But I promised Mason not to tell you anything."
"Sorry, Lauren, but we are your husband's minions, now. Isn't that right?" Beth and Aaron nodded in confirmation.
"I'm trying to be on his good side after he found out that I looked into him, which is all your fault by the way," Aaron said with a wince. "Don't feel bad that I switched sides. He scares me."
I groaned. "I came here to complain about him, but you guys are on his side? What kind of friends are you?" My head falls back down on the bed. "He was an ass this morning, and I'm pretty sure he wanted to ask me on a date or something. He asked me if I had plans today and I didn't, but I wanted to make him sweat a little, so I said I would make plans just to get away from him. Do you know what he said?"
"Have fun?" Athena guessed, at the same time Beth and Aaron broke into laughter. I didn't even bother with them.
I threw an accused glance at Athena. "Did you talk about me with him?" What a prick.
"No, I just know him." She laughed. "Honestly, he said that to get on your nerves. I would know that because he said I should update him on your mood swings."
I shrieked and almost hit Beth on the face. "He did?! That...that prick!"
"I love him," Beth said. "He totally drives you crazy on purpose, Laurie, and you're letting him enjoy it." I flung a pillow towards her head and she ducked. "Hey, assault is not the right answer."
"I can't wait for you to leave."
"You'd be the first person to cry, Lauren."
I didn't realize the moment Aaron had walked out of the room, but he returned with a bag of chips in his hand. "Are we still throwing a party for you, Beth?"
"Hell, yeah! With poles and strippers. Gotta make it worthwhile, kids." She rolled off the bed and snatched the bag from him and began eating. "I recently had a run-in with one. Taught me a few tricks."
"Planning on using them in America?"
She grinned and tossed the empty bag at me. "Duh. Bringing my A game with me."
Aaron said, "You're leaving your leash here." and jerked his head towards me. "Beth without her leash is going to be terrifying."
"I'm not a dog, twat."
I laughed. Beth and Aaron kept arguing, tossing insult at each other like they were in some kind of a battle. Even though I knew I had Athena and Aaron, it would not be the same without Beth. She would do great in America, and I also knew people would love her. It would be hard not to love her, although she might make you want to choke her sometimes.
I left Beth's flat at half-past nine. I had expected Mason to send Coop to get me or drive himself here to order me back home. I was surprised he did neither, and my phone didn't have any texts from him. Having no idea what he was getting at, I pushed him out of my thoughts as Aaron dropped me off before he left with Athena.
The house was dark when I walked in. Everything was just so quiet, but I could hear the sound of the fire crackling in the fireplace and I could smell something burning. I walked further into the house until I moved to the living room, where the lights in the room were turned off, but the only light was coming from the fireplace. Moving a bit closer to see what was burning in the furnace, I leaned my head down and my breath hitched.
Right inside, burning, was something I had not seen in a while. It had not crossed my mind until I was seeing it right now; burning into ashes. Our contract. It sent a series of emotions running wild inside me. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but I was too shocked to do either. He did this. Mason burned the contract. There was nothing holding us together except love. We were not bound by anything but the feelings we had for each other. I took a step back, feeling overwhelmed all of a sudden.
"Turn around." Mason's husky voice drummed against my skin. When I didn't turn around, he buried his face straight in my neck and I gripped my clothes. "Turn around, Lauren." He tried again.
I did turn now, and when he focused his blazing gray eyes on me, I knew what he was thinking. I knew what he was about to do. But I was still caught off guard. He grinned at me like he expected me to bolt out of there. In all honesty, I was about to do it. Even still prepared, the breath was knocked out of me when a small black velvet box was placed in front of my view. I was sucking in small, sharp breaths when he opened it to reveal the most gorgeous diamond ring. It was the same size as the one he had given me before. The only difference between then and now was, he was giving it to me himself.
I sharply glance back up to his face. With his love inside me blistering hot, sweltering, ready to explode—he leaned in closer, dropping his voice. "Marry me?"
My throat tightened and I blinked back a few tears.
"Is that how you ask someone to marry you?" Was what I could come up with. I almost facepalmed. I didn't know why I was freaked out. It wasn't like we weren't already married, but this was different. When we got married, it wasn't real. When we shared vows, it wasn't wholeheartedly. Now, he wanted everything to be real. And I was bloody freaking out.
"If you're still waiting for me to get down on one knee, you'd not have it."
I returned his hot gaze with one of my own, showing a streak of stubbornness as I tried to catch my breath. "But that's how you ask someone to marry you."
"Lauren, are you stalling?" he figured out, as he still held the box in front of me. "Do you want to be mine?"
I breathed out heavily, the sound hanging in the air as the tingles coursing through my entire body came in crashing waves. And, to top it off, with every second he stared at me the way he was, it was getting hotter and intense.
"I'm already your Mrs."
"Do you want to be mine again? For real, this time. I want to watch you walk down the isle and I want your hand to be given to me."
"Except there's no one to hand me over," I reminded him, getting a blast of pain when I thought about my dad.
"I can do it," he said with a warm, gentle smile.
I laughed as tears spilled down my eyes. "That's not how it works, Mason. You can't walk me down the aisle and hand me over to yourself."
"Will it help if I dye my hair grey and you can pretend it's a random old man walking you down the aisle?"
"Lauren, I want to marry you again." Slowly—so slowly—he licked his lips as his brilliant gray eyes hardened with such intensity. "I want to write cheesy vows with you and read them out in front of our loved ones. I want to see you in the wedding dress of your choice, your face bright and full of love when you see me standing at the altar waiting for you."
Staring at him, my heart ricocheted in the cavity of my chest, but I was unable to form a sentence.
"I want you to wear my name. I want you right next to me, as my wife." Leaning in closer, he dropped his voice to a hard whisper. "I want to start over with you. To make a life. God knows we had a rough start. I was an asshole to you. Maybe I enjoyed it a little bit more. Seeing the fire in your eyes when you looked at me every time I was rude to you. I didn't want you to look at anyone like that, but me. The more I pushed your button, the more I wanted you. I knew we had a spark from the moment I took you from Anthony. When you sent me your resignation letter, it drove me crazy. I realized the length I would go to to bring you back to me, even if it would hurt you. I just needed you and I didn't know why."
He was still smiling, and I almost break, a weakness seizing me in the knees. He brushed the single tear that streamed down my eyes.
"I tried taking it easy with you. I wanted to know you more, and for you to know me, but every time I opened my mouth, I only ended up hurting you, Lauren. I was afraid of you knowing everything about us and risk messing it up. I tortured myself every day, thinking of you, and wishing things would get easy."
"Mason," I breathed.
"I knew you were too good for me," he added in a deep, raspy whisper, holding me entranced with his words, his liquid gaze. "I couldn't even be selfish and have you to myself. But I guess you were braver than me, Lauren. You staked your claim on me, even before you realized I'd staked mine already." Leaning to me, he dragged his nose along my temple, and a tremor of heat slipped down my spine as he whispered close to my ear. "I want you, Lauren. For myself. I want to be good for you. To be the right man for you. I can't promise I won't hurt you again, but I want you to take the chance."
The knot was at massive proportions in my throat, and I was nodding as I wiped my tears, unable to tell him how much and how crazily I was in love with him because I couldn't find my voice.
Mason Campbell made me feel a lot of things. Every day I loved him even more, sometimes he pissed me off, and other times I just didn't know what to do with him. He makes me laugh and smile. I loved all his kisses and touches. He was rude, arrogant and gentle, and I loved all the sides of him. Every time he looked at me, I just knew he was right where I wanted to be.
"You did good," he whispered, tenderly, as he cupped my jaw. "You pushed down my walls. Made me start to feel." He fisted my hair and pulled me close to his lips. "And I want to keep you with me."
I pressed my body into him as I looked into his eyes. "Hi," I said, beaming. "I'm Lauren Hart. My dad's dead. My best friend is Beth Wallace. I don't have any pets. I like sitcoms. My favorite colour is blue."
"Hi," he murmured, his eyes sparkling. "My name is Mason Campbell and I'm an asshole. Please, marry me because I'm in love with you."