CHAPTER 3:

"When I wake tomorrow, I bet that you and I will walk together again, cause I can tell that we are going to be friends" – The White Stripes

Laila couldn't remember how she got into Mason's house. All she remembered was hearing that whore and Kevin on the message machine that he had shared with her only a few hours earlier. She screamed, he held her hand and stroked her hair as he pulled over for her to puke her guts out. Her mind reeled as her stomach churned. She wanted to be numb, unfeeling. She wanted to be cynical. She wanted to be a robot with no feelings. She wanted to crawl under a rock. She wanted to die. But, most of all…she wanted Kevin back. That made her feel worse then anything else.

She teetered up the stairs to Mason's apartment, wishing she wasn't sober. His apartment was big and roomy, not overly huge but enough room for some furniture, a huge T.V and an amazing looking kitchen. Laila noticed his booze cabinet filled with tequila, vodka and other heavy liquor. She just wanted to drink herself into a stupor and never wake up.

Mason was diligent, however, in her going to sleep. He grabbed her hands and tried to gently persuade her into walking away from the booze, but finally he game up and dragged her kicking and screaming into his room. In any other situation, this would have been funny. Laila finally quieted down and gave up. She tried to concentrate on where he was leading her, up a small set of stairs into a bedroom that smelled like cologne and sandalwood. It smelled so differently then Kevin, she thought to herself. The walls were painted a turquoise blue, and his furniture was all dark wood. He had a very modern sense of design, and that reflected in his minimalist, clean accessories. She looked around and saw photographs of smiling faces, pets, landscapes and cityscapes towering over her, completely covering any open wallspace. There were pictures everywhere. Pictures of the happiness that she would never have They were mocking her.

"Laila, need something to sleep in?" Laila was brought out of her reverie by Mason, who was holding out a pair of boxer shorts and a t-shirt. "I hope you don't mind, they are mine."

Laila lost her train of thought. She couldn't respond, she couldn't say anything. Her grief has robbed her of speech capabilities. She just stared at the cloths blankly, thinking about her family, her best friend, and her boyfriend that she missed so terribly.

"Laila…c'mon. I'll help you out of your dress." Mason gently rubbed Laila's arms to get her attention. She finally snapped out of her silence.

"Oh…yes…thanks." She said quietly, turning to allow Mason access to the zipper. He pulled it down gently, and then put the cloths in her arms.

"The bathroom is straight ahead…go change into those and wash your face. I'll make the bed for you." Mason gave her a gentle push towards the direction of the bathroom, and began making the bed. Although it was already impeccable, he smoothed invisible wrinkles and brushed of lint that wasn't there. What am I doing he thought to himself this is stupid, I'm not her mother, boyfriend or even friend. Then he looked towards the bathroom door and heard her gentle whimpers.

Guilt immediately plagued him for even thinking about ignoring her. She obviously had no one else to turn to. Mason convinced himself that was doing the right thing, then started out with new resolve to help the tattered woman back onto her feet. He tried to expel the thoughts from his head as he changed into his sweatpants and old car show t-shirt.

Laila emerged from the bathroom, still wobbly and wiping her eyes, but her face was no longer tear stained and her hair was pulled back. Mason's shirt went down to her knees, and the boxers had to be rolled up multiple times to stay on her hips. Even so, she was a sight to behold.

Mason immediately went to her side and helped her to the bed. He had Tylenol and a glass of water ready for her.

"Take some Tylenol before you go to bed so you're head won't hurt as bad in the morning." He advised gently, holding out his hand to deposit the Tylenol into her palms. "It also works great for hangover." He tried to joke, but Laila's face was as still as stone.

She took the water quietly and swallowed the pills, then crawled into the bed. One tear escaped down her cheek, but Mason was quick to catch it and bring her a box of Kleenex.

"Okay, now you gotta go to sleep. The best thing is to sleep it off and relax a little bit." He tried to comfort her, knowing that sleep would be the only peace she could get mentally. He then began to scoot off of the bed, but a small hand caught his arm.

"Where are you going?" Laila asked, her voice shaking ever so slightly.

"I'm going to sleep in the front room on the couch." Mason explained, but remained seated.

"No…please don't go. Stay with me." Laila's voice has become more steady, but gave him a look of desperation.

"You need peace and quiet now. You're strong." He quietly reassured her, trying to gently take his arm out of her grip. Her hold, however, just tightened.

"No…please Mason. Stay here with me." Laila's voice shook with determination. She yearned so for the last feeling before drifting to sleep to be comfort.

Mason leaned over and pulled his large armchair over to the bedside. He then positioned himself with his legs hanging over the armrest, hand in Laila's much smaller one. He grabbed a small wool blanket and put it over himself, and let his head rest against the back of the chair.

"Better?" He asked quietly, squeezing Laila's hand.

"Mmhmm" She mumbled sleepily, and gave a gentle squeeze back.

That was the last thing she remembered before drifting to sleep, and dreamed about a princess from a cold northern country being saved by a prince on a surfboard.

Mason stayed awake until dawn, watching this mysterious woman sleep in his bed. She had let go of his hand and snuggled under the covers, her arm around the pillow cradling it against her head. She sighed softly every once in a while, a small and content sigh. A small strand of hair fell into her face and Mason diligently brushed it away. He couldn't help but notice how fine and soft her hair was. He just wanted to bury his face in it and get lost. When she slept her usually downturned mouth pulled up into a slight smile, more of a grin. Smile lines were present at the side of her mouth. Mason began to dwell on how they got there….had she ever had a happier life? Did she ever laugh? What did her laugh sound like?

Mason fell asleep soon after the sun rose, just as Laila began to arise. She noticed his hand still dangling off of the chair, a worried and concentrated look on his face. She felt momentarily guilty, then was overtaken by a sense of worthlessness. This random stranger had helped her, reached out to her but she had never even contemplated doing that for someone else. This man must truly be a savior. She noticed his long and shaggy bangs drifting into his eyes, and getting blown around with his every exhale. She gently brushed them aside and tucked them behind his ears. She stared at his peaceful face, and let her hand gently brush across his cheek. It was rough from a day without shaving. She then put her hand in his open one, remembering what it felt like to feel so safe and comfortable. What a silly feeling, just by holding someone's hand Laila thought Kevin never held my hand, and I felt perfectly safe.

She tiptoed out of the room soundlessly, and began exploring his kitchen looking for the necessaries to make breakfast. She felt as if this as the morning after, the awkward breakfast rummaging through pots and ingredients trying to find something to distract them from the elephant in the room. She was halfway through omelets when Mason walked out of the room, rubbing his eyes. The bags underneath them spoke wordlessly of his sleepless night. His hair stuck up in every which direction, except his bangs that still remained neatly tucked behind his ears.

They both stared at each other, awkwardly speechless. Laila noticed his tattered sweatpants, and threadbare car show t-shirt. Mason was taken aback by her simple beauty, she was just in a t-shirt and boxers but still looked outstanding. They both stood looking at each other, dumbfounded.

"Good morning" Laila said sheepishly, finally breaking the silence and let her hair fall around her face. She was positive she was blushing.

"'Mornin" Mason said, voice still gruff. "How'd you sleep?"

"Oh, I slept very well." Laila said tentatively, not sure whether or not to expand.

"Good. A good nights sleep always seems to make your problems go away." Mason stretched and sat down at the counter.

"Yum omelets." He said, trying to be unobtrusive but also start some conversation. The awkward silence killed him.

"I made the eggs the Danish way, with flour and milk. It makes them fluffier." Laila informed him, flipping them.

"Danish? Family recipe?" Mason asked, sounding genuinely interested.

"Yeah, my mom was a professional chef back in the home country. My family is still in Denmark." Laila stated, her tone flat. She obviously didn't want to expand on that.

"Ohh, I see. What brought you out here?" Mason tried to stay nonchalant, but he had a suspicion that her life in America deeply involved Kevin.

"My college graduation trip. Then I met Kevin, and decided to stay" Mason was taken aback by Laila's nonchalantness about Kevin. "We were going to get married so I could get my green card to stay."

"So, your visa is expiring?" Mason asked, not sure how the whole process worked, but he had seen the immigrant marrying a citizen to stay in the country movies a million times.

"Yeah, then back to Denmark." She said. "Time to restart" Laila seemed almost bitter. She flipped the omelets out onto plates and scooted one towards Mason.

"Enjoy" she said, glancing around, looking for a drawer that looked like forks might be in.

"Third one to the left." Mason said "And can you please grab me one?"

Laila smiled and handed him a fork, then walked back over to her plate.

Mason took the first bite, and was amazed at how the omelet melted in his mouth. "Oh my god, Laila, this is amazing. Orgasmic." Mason declared, his mouth stuffed with food.

Laila let out a laugh that pierced his soul in such a lively and touching way, he smiled too. Her laugh was so musical and vibrant. "I've never been told my omelets are orgasmic before." She confessed, slightly embarrassed. She didn't know what to do with the compliment.

Mason looked up from his food and smiled at her, the only response he could muster.

He was beginning to formulate a plan. A plan that would help both Laila and himself out, that would make her life better and his life nicer. He looked up at Laila again, a sinister grin gracing his face. What a plan, indeed.

A/N: Thanks again to all of my reviewers! Sorry about such a lapse in updates, I have been really busy, going to school full time and working full time, writing at nights when my insomnia gets really bad and I actually have time to think. I will get the next chapter up much sooner, I promise!

Please read and review!