I gulped, knowing that I was in deep, deep trouble.
I fought to hold back the tears from my eyes, but I was fighting a losing battle.
To my surprise, when Mason saw the droplets glistening at the corner of my eyes, he relaxed just slightly and motioned for Gideon to let me go.
I felt the cold steel of the gun leave my head, and Gideon lifted me to my feet.
Mason looked me up and down, his gaze calculating. And then, with a curt nod, he brushed straight past me, taking a seat behind his desk. My breath was still caught in my throat as he started going through some files.
He didn’t say anything for a whole minute, his eyes just flicking back and forth across the papers.
I stayed frozen to the spot, paralyzed.
I was scared that if I stared at Mason Campbell, I would be turned into ashes or a stone. But also, I couldn’t look away.
Finally, he raised his big, strong hand.
“You can go,” he said.
I exhaled, turning to go, clutching my bag to my chest.
“Not you,” he said, pointing at me. “Him.”
In an instant, Gideon disappeared from the room, leaving me alone in here to suffer whatever consequence he had in store for me.
“You’ve disturbed my peace,” he said, his voice soft, yet cold and deadly.
I wasn’t even aware he knew I was here.
Making no attempt to hide his perturbation, Mason Campbell fixed his darkest look on me, the girl who had dared disrupt his peace.
My chest grew so tight I could barely breathe.
Fear pounded through me. The image of myself lying cold and dead in an abandoned place flashed through my mind.
I nearly peed in my knickers.
“Take a seat,” he said.
With shaking legs, I was quick to sit down in one of the chairs in front of him.
“Why are you here?” he asked without taking his eyes off the papers he was writing on.
I shifted in my seat, willing myself to speak before he got any angrier.
I remembered full well what they said about Mason Campbell.
The only wildly intense emotions he had ever experienced in his life were anger and the cold darkness of his own heart.
They said he had a rage so fierce it chilled people’s bones.
I had always thought that he couldn’t be as terrifying as everyone said…now I knew that all the rumors were true.
“I…I…,” I stammered in fear, the sentence I meant to say cowering behind my heart.
Mason stopped writing and he suddenly glanced up at me. The powerful silver eyes that collided with mine made me gulp.
He continued to bore holes in me with a decidedly pointed stare. “Careful what you say,” he said before tilting his head. “Do I frighten you?”
I licked my lips before speaking. “Is that a trick question?” I quietly asked. Not getting any answer in return, I added, “Y-yes.”
He lifted a perfect brow.
“I don’t want to say anything wrong that might end up in me lying dead in a ditch somewhere,” I said, my mouth spewing words like vomit.
I didn’t even realize what I had said until it had dawned on me. My eyes widened and I clapped a hand over my mouth.
His jaw clenched.
“You’d do well to remember who you’re speaking to, Miss…?” he warned, his silver-eyed gaze hard as ice, his deep voice equally cold.
“Hart,” I answered, my voice shaking. “Lauren Hart. And of course, you are Mr. Campbell.”
“Miss Hart, I don’t much like repeating myself. Why are you here?” he pushed, his voice louder this time…louder, and laced with crackling anger and impatience.
“I’m here for an interview. I didn’t mean to be here. I got pushed into a door and the only way out was through an elevator that brought me here. I’m so sorry.
“If you’d be so kind as to let me go, I’ll be on my way.”
“I’m not kind.” He spoke as if he was disgusted by a word he wasn’t familiar with.
“Of course. If you’d be nice enough?”
Drawing himself to his full height, Mr. Campbell cocked a brow—a challenging one.
“No difference,” he shot back.
Irritation pumping through my veins, I met his heated gaze with my cool one. “If you’d be so generous as to let me go? I don’t want to trouble you more.”
“Do you own a dictionary, Miss Hart?” he asked without so much as a blink. “Are those the only words you know?”
When I attempted to answer him, he cut me off. “It was a rhetorical question.”
“Indeed,” he responded in a tone that had me wondering if he thought I was a dimwit. “Pass me your resume.”
I studied him for a long, uncomfortable moment. “You want to see my resume?”
“I’m speaking English, aren’t I? Pass me your resume.”
I quickly passed him my resume and he studied it.
“Hmm. You attended Knight. Obviously, I wouldn’t expect you to get good grades. Had only two jobs. Zero skills…” He talked to himself, carefully enunciating each word.
His face scrunched into an odd mixture of pity and reproach.
“When you came here, I do hope you knew you had zero hope of getting the job.
“From what I’m seeing here, you aren’t qualified to work at Campbell Industry, Ms. Hart,” he continued, every fiber of his being daring me to state otherwise.
I met his gaze with a steely-eyed one, my anger ready to erupt in me.
I pressed my lips together and hoped he wouldn’t notice the muscle jerking in my face. “What? I’m not getting the job?” I asked.
His words had plunged like an expertly wielded knife straight into my heart. I knew when I came here that I had no chance, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t hurting.
This was my only chance of getting a perfect job with a good salary.
I wanted to say that I wasn’t supposed to be interviewed by him, that it was a Mary Warner who called me for an interview for the Marketing job. But I was a coward.
“Are you going to cry?” he asked, tilting his head to the side.
“No. I just—”
“Good. Because I hate weak women who aren’t strong enough to handle the truth. Wipe your tears before you leave your DNA here.”
I stiffened, a vein in my forehead beginning to throb.
“Thank you for your time, Mr. Campbell.”
My heart pounded in hot anger as I made an attempt to get up and leave his bloody office and ugly personality.
I rose from my chair and started to make my way back to the elevator when he spoke again.
His voice alone had the power to make me stop in my tracks.
“You are qualified for one thing, Ms. Hart. There’s a job opening that suits you just fine.”
I turned back to face him and found myself caught in his steely gaze.
“Would you like to be my assistant?” he asked.
I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of his mouth.
“Don’t let the word get to your head,” he continued. “You’re simply going to run my errands, answer my calls, and fetch my tea.”
I drew a series of long, deep breaths until the tension in me began to lessen.
“Mr. Campbell, if you’d just—” I didn’t know what to say, so I couldn’t finish my sentence.
“Take it or leave it. There is a line of people who would throw themselves at this job.”
Closing my eyes, I pinched the bridge of my nose and repressed the urge to throw back my head and scream.
“But—” I began
He looked away from me and glanced down at the papers in front of him. “That will be all. Have a good day, Ms. Hart.”
Part of me was screaming that it was a good job and another was screaming that I didn’t deserve to be walked all over by the devil himself…
The part of me that screamed louder won.
“I’ll take it! I’ll take the job.” Clamping my lips together, I swallowed the bitterness rising in my throat and instead eyed him with disdain.
“Mr. Campbell, are you listening? I said I’ll take the job.” My entire body thrumming with agitation, I clenched my hands to white-knuckled fists.
“I’ll see you on Monday at eight o’clock,” he said coolly, without even bothering to look at me. “Now get the fuck out of my office.”
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