CHAPTER 2:

"I tell my love to wreck it all, cut out all the ropes and let me fall" – Bon Iver

Laila looked up into lovely green eyes with gold flecks. A brown goatee and shaggy brown hair, that was what she noticed second. Then she looked at his face. He sure was cute.

"Wha-wha?" Laila couldn't even speak. Just the thought that someone would reach out to her and comfort her was too much. Kevin never did that.

"Shhhhh, it's okay sweetie. You're okay now. You're with me." The voice wasn't sexy and deep, but it had a melodic tune that comforted her. The man rocked back and forth gently. He was on his knees in front of Laila, fully embracing her. Laila finally snaked her arms around his shoulders, and held on for dear life. She was shaking like a leaf, but he held her and rubbed her back and whispered 'It's okay' into her ear.

The manager whooshed over and pushed the man holding Laila aside. "Are you okay ma'am? Do I need to call 9-1-1?"

The man comforting her turned and said softly "She just lost someone very dear to her. I am so sorry about the disturbance, we'll be out of here real quick." Laila didn't want to let go, she still held him as he turned around.

"Oh, I am so sorry. Of course, sir, since you are leaving before your dinner came the wine is on the house."

The manager had obviously got their relationship wrong, and hadn't seen Kevin storm out, but both Delilah and the man let him believe it. Delilah was glad she didn't have to figure out a way to pay for the wine.

Everyone in the restaurant was staring, trying to guess who the mystery man who suddenly appeared was. Delilah sensed this, and as soon as the manager returned and apologized for her loss the man ushered her out of the restaurant and onto the street. It was a typical November night in San Francisco, cold and windy. Laila had not brought a jacket and stood shivering, looking at the man awkwardly. He was looking down the street as if he was looking for someone or something, his car maybe. He turned to look down her side of the street and saw her shivering.

"Oh, you need a jacket! Of course you're cold! I'm so sorry." Mystery man rushed over and put his large blazer over her shoulders. Delilah stood still, still stuck in amazement. All of this kindness for a stranger. Who is this person? She felt her tears stopping, and used his coat sleeve to wipe away the last of them.

Mystery man had just found what he was looking for. "There's a Starbucks down the street, want a coffee?" He asked, holding out his hand for Laila to take.

She didn't realize how intimate holding hands was. She felt like a schoolgirl on the playground with her first boyfriend. He led her down the block and into the Starbucks. It was late at night; there weren't a lot of people around. Indie music drifted softly from the speakers, acoustic and calming.

"What would you like?" He asked, standing at the counter and looking at the giant list of different kinds of coffees available.

Laila froze. She had never got to pick out her own coffee before. Kevin has always ordered her a nonfat latte, but she hated those. She didn't know what anything else was.

"I-I doesn't know." She said finally, after getting a quizzical glance from mystery man. He had already ordered a caramel macchiato, whatever that was.

"Well…how do you like coffee? Do you like it sweet, rich, black…" He asked, trying to prompt her to help her along.

"…I like…sweet coffee." Delilah said quietly. 'God, everyone probably thinks I'm a moron' she thought to herself. 'Kevin was right.'

Mystery man ordered her a mocha something and sat her down on one of the big luxurious leather couches. He grabbed their coffees and sat next to her.

"How do you like it?" He asked, intently watching her expression as she took her first sip.

"I love it!" She said enthusiastically. Although she had not chosen it herself, mystery man had picked the right one.

Mystery man looked at her longingly, which frightened her. He dropped his head and took a sip of his coffee. He said something, but said it so softly that Laila could barely understand it.

"What did you say?" She questioned.

"I said that was what my wife liked. You seem a lot like her." His voice cracked slightly, and he kept his head down.

Laila felt like a jerk. She should never have probed. She felt terrible for insulting him when he had bee so nice to her.

"I'm so sorry for asking, I was just being stupid. Please forgive me." Delilah replied, not even having the appetite for her coffee anymore.

"Oh, no it's not your fault. I brought it up." Mystery man reassured. Then, he looked up as he was just struck by an ingenious idea.

"Oh, I feel so rude for never getting your name! I feel so stupid, I ran over when I saw you crying and never asked. What is your name?" Mystery man asked sheepishly, trying to hide his blush.

"Oh…my name is Laila." Laila replied quietly, expecting him to tell her it was a disgusting name. Every time Kevin said her name he would cringe, and tell her that it was no name for a girl. He preferred named like Candy, Missy and Tiffany.

"What a gorgeous name!" Mystery man said enthusiastically "it suits you."

Laila blushed, not knowing what to do with the compliment. "Why, thank you. And may I ask what your name is?"

"Mason. My name is Mason."

Laila smiled. She had always loved that name, and planned on naming her first boy that. Kevin had hated it, and was adamant if they ever had a boy it would be Kevin Jr. She felt so empowered that the very man that helped her had a name that Kevin hated.

Laila looked up from sipping her coffee, and her eyes met with Mason's. He smiled a crooked, boyish smile. She gave him her biggest smile she could.

"Laila, do you know that when you smile your eyes twinkle?" Mason asked, as if she were a queen.

Laila smiled and blushed even harder. "No, I always thought my eyes stayed that dull grey."

Mason's smile immediately faded. "What are you talking about, dull grey? Did that guy tell you that?"

Delilah tried to hide her face behind her coffee. She felt her eyes begin to water again. "…Yes."

Mason's expression softened, from angry to compassionate.

"Why did you listen to him? You're gorgeous." Mason said, leaning over the couch to put his hand on her arm.

Delilah let one tear trickle down her cheek. "I love him, and I am sure he loves me. Everyone has a few things that they hate about each other. He told me about them to make me aware so I wouldn't embarrass myself." Delilah stated proudly. She had come up with a good excuse.

"What kind of person would treat you like that?" Mason asked sadly. "How could he tell you that anything was wrong with the way you looked?"

"It's what you do when you love the person. You tell them the truth." Laila's composure was slowly falling apart.

"Even if it hurts them?" Mason asked quietly, looking right into Laila's eyes. He could see the years of pain behind her tears.

"Sometimes the truth hurts." Delilah was proud of herself for putting up such a good argument.

"If he really loved you, he wouldn't want to hurt you with the truth." Mason said. "That's how I felt about my wife."

Laila was struck by the honesty of his statement. She couldn't come up with a retort for that one.

"I love him, and that's all that mattered." Laila put on the bravest face she could. "I love him enough for the both of us."

Mason scoffed. "That's bogus. You deserve someone who loves you and treats you like the goddess you are."

Now it was Laila's turn to scoff. "There is no one out there like that for me. I don't deserve to be loved like that."

Mason wanted to shake some sense into the girl. How could she believe this? The guy that was with her must have treated her terribly.

"How could you say that, Laila? Everyone deserves love like that. What did he say to you to make you believe that?" Mason's disbelief was hidden well, but Laila could still sense it.

"Kevin didn't say anything, he didn't have to. I know." Laila said quietly, running her thumb around the edge of her coffee cup.

Mason was fuming. He couldn't even think straight. 'So, Kevin was that asshole that left her sobbing. How could anyone treat another human being like that? Did he feel any remorse about brainwashing her and making her think that she was stupid, ugly and deserved a terrible life' he thought to himself. He was squeezing the coffee cup so hard the lid popped off. He looked over at Laila, and immediately felt terrible. She had fresh tear stains down her cheeks. She was looking out the window as if her boyfriend was going to walk right in and tell her how much he loved her.

"Wanna go home?" He asked, standing and holding out his hand to help her up. "My car is less then a block away."

Laila looked at his hand, then looked out of her window. "I think I should wait at the restaurant until Kevin comes back. He'll come back for me." She ignored Mason's hand and stood up by herself. She began taking off his jacket, but he stopped her.

"No, if you're going to wait I'll wait with you. If he doesn't come, I want to make sure that you get home okay." Mason walked protectively behind her, making sure that the jacket stayed around her shoulders when they walked back down to Donovan's. Laila stopped in front of the restaurant, and turned to look at Mason. She was crying even harder now.

"If he doesn't come, I don't have anywhere to go." She said solemnly. "You should leave now before you get dragged too far into this."

Mason stepped back, flabbergasted. That jackass left her knowing very well that she had nowhere else to go?

"No, Laila, you're coming home with me." Mason grabbed her hand and dragged her past Donovan's and into a parking garage. She didn't put up much with a fight; that was how Kevin had always wanted her. Quiet and submissive. They walked up the flight of stairs to the second floor, and Mason pulled her next to his Honda Civic. He opened the passengers seat door for her, and helped her in. Then he walked around to his side and jumped in.

"I should at least call him and make sure he's okay." Mason turned to see if Laila was really speaking, if she had really just said that. Sure enough, her head was down, but he could see her lips moving through the veil of her hair.

"If you really want to." He replied, and handed her his cell phone. The background was a picture of him, a gorgeous woman with curly brown hair, and a little boy at the beach. All of them had big smiles on their faces, and the little boy was kissing his mother's cheek. Delilah ignored the emotions that tugged at her heart seeing that picture, and dialed Kevin's cell number she had remembered by heart the second day they met.

Mason slammed on the breaks when Laila let out a scream that rocked him to his core. She had dropped his phone, and he heard the happy message coming from the answering machine "Hey, this is Kev and Trixie, we're in Vegas getting married so call us after the honeymoon!"

A/N: I had time today, so I wrote another chapter. The next one should be up Monday or Tuesday. Mondays thru Thursdays I have class all day so it is hard to write.

Oh, and thanks to my first reviewers Princessarrielle3 and Love2read2.

Please read and review!