Well...I don't know how this happened. I mean, after TAB I had began a 3-5 part series that didn't pan out as I wanted so I scrapped it. This makes me happy because it's just one part.
Other than that? I can't even explain...and...whatever. Yeah. Enjoy! lol
It seemed that was a constant word in her mind wherever it concerned her current predicament. She was a successful, intelligent, young, wealthy, humorous and – dare she think it – attractive woman. On paper she had everything going for her. So why, why, why did she constantly let herself fall victim to the charms of that…that degenerate? Vengeance; that's when all this had all started. Stupid pay per view and its fitting title since that's exactly what he had enacted upon her. After he'd seduced her, bailed on her, shattered her hopes to pieces and finally embarrassed her on national fucking television, she decided that she was through with him.
Hunter was a sick, twisted, demented son of a bitch whose sole purpose in life was to aggravate and hurt her. At least based on the prior few months. Or possibly even the year before that as he'd taken his injury frustration out on her, even if unintentionally. After his most recent – and she promised herself it was his last – horrible stunt she'd had enough. No more opening up, hoping that he'd see that it was never her intention to betray his trust or wreck their marriage. She had just been scared, naïve, bratty and a bit immature. She'd also been pessimistic about their relationship and always fearing the absolute worst.
He knew this. He knew these things now because…god damn it she'd let him back in. She hadn't initiated it, because she wasn't quite that stupid. In fact, when he'd popped up at her hotel room, she hadn't even let him get a word in before she slapped the holy hell out of him. Shamefully, he'd dropped his gaze and informed her that he deserved that for his tricks and behavior.
Hunter had…well they had, done a lot that night.
While she continued blocking the door to her room, he'd apologized. He'd explained himself. He had feelings for her that he had no idea how to process because he was still ridiculously pissed off at her. She'd understood that. She'd let him in her room reluctantly, so the entire floor didn't hear their conversation.
After an hour or two of arguing, they'd reached some kind of unspoken agreement. Clearly, being apart wasn't doing either of them any good. But maybe they could be friends. Friends sounded okay and safe to both of them. And maybe once all those old wounds had healed, they could even venture into a relationship. The right way this time.
They shook hands. Hunter wet his dry lips. Stephanie let her gaze linger a few seconds too long. He leaned down and pecked her. Still safe; they hadn't quite crossed that dangerous line with each other. Something in his eyes…possibly love. Or maybe it was lust. By the time she'd asked herself which one was more likely, her lips were somehow crushed to his in a heated kiss.
Without a doubt they had connected that night. It was clear that quitting cold turkey was next to impossible. Still, she was disappointed to wake up the next morning to find him dressed and ready to go. But she was mildly pleased he hadn't outright snuck out – he'd stayed to at least say goodbye. They'd parted with a brief kiss and a hug – nothing too monumental.
And that's almost exactly what they'd done in almost every city since Vengeance. Despite the regularity with which this occurred, it stopped neither of them from pursuing other…well, romantic interests, so to speak.
"You're mad at me."
The deep, masculine voice startled Stephanie. She'd been so deep into her thoughts…her misery that she hadn't even heard him come in. Or knock. But knowing him, he probably hadn't knocked anyway. As always, she'd given him a key to her hotel.
She lifted her head to stare into the eyes of her ex-husband. His tone of voice had been assured and matter of fact, rather than questioning. "I'm not," she disagreed.
Something in his hazel orbs shifted and became somewhat playful. "Then why did you all but sprint away from me earlier?"
Huffing out a breath, Stephanie stood up. He towered over her, regardless, but standing up always made her feel more confident and defiant. "I'm not mad," she repeated. "But that doesn't mean I'm going to wave hello while you practically fuck random girls whose names you won't even remember tomorrow, in the hallway of an arena."
Well, there. Now she'd gone and done it. She let that little bit of judgment creep into her statement. And naturally, Hunter as going to respond by yelling – albeit self-righteously. She was going to get the spiel on how she had no right whatsoever to have an opinion on what he did or with whom. Then she'd start yelling. They'd argue in circles until they were blue in the face before she finally reached desperation. The sorrow would wash all over her again and she'd feel the need to escape before he could see her cry.
That's what would happen. She'd kick him out. Or if he decided to be stubborn, she'd vacate her own room…because fuck him and that damned smirk of his. He held all the cards in his hands and he knew it. Because nothing that he'd done during their marriage compared to the one lie that she told. Even if his offenses were too numerous to count, she still bore the brunt of the blame for the failure of their relationship. Not because she felt she truly deserved it…but because she feared that arguing otherwise would have her lose him completely. And this…whatever they were, had to be better than not having him in her life at all. Anyway, she wasn't entirely sure it was even an option to totally give him the boot. Maybe it was better to learn to deal with him now.
"Stephanie," he whispered to her.
Curiously, she tilted her head and wondered why his shoulders were drooped shamefully while he called for her. "What is it, Hunter?"
"No," he said, meeting her eyes once again. And she swore she saw the same sadness in his expression that she felt in her heart. "I can't remember their names because it's always you that I'm thinking of."
"Oh," she mumbled. She was thrown for a complete loop and honestly had no idea what to say to the man. When he wanted her, he could have her. He knew that, damn it. She wasn't going to sit here and feel sorry for him because he took advantage of that obvious truth regularly. Showing up to her room at ungodly hours, professing how much he needed her. And she broke. She broke every damn time because the truth was that she needed him too. She'd tried to let him go many times and had failed miserably. She'd tried dating casually, to no avail. Then she'd hurled herself into a relationship with a pretty good guy and had blown it to smithereens because she couldn't get Hunter out of her head long enough to focus. Her ex-husband's amusement with her attempts to get over him was always fairly obvious. As was her annoyance with him fucking what seemed to be every attractive female that crossed his path.
Stephanie hated her own weakness. But she hated Hunter's nonchalance even more. Because he had no idea…no fucking damn clue what her weakness and his nonchalance had created. But she did and she technically lived with it inside of her on a daily basis. Desperate to put some space between them, she left the living room and padded barefoot to what was supposed to be the office. She plopped down in an oversized leather chair and stretched her legs in front of her.
"Yeah," he said slowly. "Does that surprise you?"
Well, shit. Apparently he couldn't take a hint because he'd ended up standing right behind her. She hadn't even heard his footsteps following her. The light scent of his cologne wafted down and invaded her senses. If she wasn't careful it would confuse and cloud her judgment, too. "Yes," she admitted freely.
"Why?" He asked. And Stephanie easily imagined the confused, puppy dog look on his face.
"I assumed I'd be the last thing on your mind while you screw random women into kingdom come."
One of his hands gripped the armrest of the chair and spun her around so quickly it made her head spin. Judging by the tense expression on his face, she'd angered him. But unlike during their divorce, this anger didn't make her fear physical harm. "You…" he began heatedly and trailed off, wagging a finger at her as he tried to compose a response. "You're…you're so…stupid!"
Blue eyes stared at him carefully as she mulled over his insult. But the fact that he'd wracked his brain and only come up with a childishly presented response…well, it was rather hilarious. The corners of her mouth turned up slowly before she burst into incredulous laughter. "Oh my…hah! You…you can't even….hahahahaha!" She began losing her breath at the confused look on his face. "Hunter, you…what the hell was that?" She finally finished.
The pink flush of embarrassment on his cheeks made her want to laugh some more. But if she took it too far he might just clam up and get angry again. Her laughter had broken up the serious nature of this conversation and she preferred to keep it that way. He shrugged at her, but there was a tiny smile on his lips. "It was all I could think of."
"Yeah, I got that," she said easily. "Okay so I'll bite. Why am I stupid?"
Hunter surprised her by getting down on his knees so that they were mostly at eye level. He invaded her personal space by planting his hands on her thighs. But it didn't unnerve her; it didn't feel like he was coming on to her. "Maybe stupid wasn't the right word. More like blind. And you're blind because you don't see how much I still care for you, Stephanie."
"And you're blind, too. You don't see that your manwhoring with other women…or seducing me into your or…my bed," she said awkwardly, "only to leave me with nothing the next day, is not the way to show me you care."
Something between a growl and grunt of frustration came from deep within him. He truly seemed to be at a loss for him to express himself. Honestly, she couldn't say she blamed him. Their situation was highly complicated in several ways. His big hands slightly squeezed her thighs as he said, "I don't screw every single woman that comes on to me, you know. Sometimes I just talk to them."
A loud snort escaped Stephanie. "Really?" She asked dryly. "Please enlighten me on what you possibly have to talk about with them," she challenged.
"Look, I don't know what the fuck else to do, Steph!" He said so loudly that she was visibly stunned. Upon seeing her expression he took a deep breath and lowered his voice considerably. "I – well, I talk to them about you. Sometimes I really just talk to them about you and I because I can't seem to leave you the hell alone. But you –you scare the shit out of me!"
"And you hurt me!" She said fiercely. "Every single time you're not there or you make a beeline for the nearest exit when I wake up. Every time you spare me just a nod of the head or some other shit you give to a stranger, when we pass each other in public. Every time I see you…and some girl is either leaving or coming to your room. Or hanging all over you at some arena or bar. It's breaking my heart. Which is a small miracle because it was already broken."
"So broken that you started kissing or flirting with half your damn roster, Steph? Fucking…Kurt Angle – you know I've always hated him. Whatever that Halloween shit with Bischoff was. John Cena slapping your ass," he ticked off the offenses with flicks of his fingers. "Dancing around with lesbians and kissing Rikishi. How do you think I felt watching all of that? And I saw the fucking clown you used to parade around to the arenas."
"He wasn't a clown, Hunter…" she sighed. She really had like Greg. Or Gregory – that was his full name and he preferred to be called by it. He was a nice person and a good guy. He just wasn't right for her and it really had been a total waste of time trying to believe otherwise.
"Like hell he wasn't. He was short, scrawny, too polite and too jumpy. Like the total opposite of me."
Stephanie chuckled lowly. "That was kind of the point."
"I don't want to talk about him anymore," he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. Truth be told, although he was highly amused by that sad attempt to replace him…a part of him had worried when the little jerk wasn't immediately disposed of. That maybe Steph had actually found something worthwhile in the guy. Once the nuisance was gone, he returned to be amused.
"What do you want to talk about?" She asked seriously.
"Us…" he trailed off unsurely. "This…well, it isn't working for me. Would I be wrong to say it isn't working for you?"
Hunter nodded, satisfied at her honesty. "Okay. This whole thing started because we failed at being apart just as much as we failed at being together. I never wanted to treat you like some…fuck buddy. I just got…overwhelmed by you," he stopped upon seeing the confused and hurt look on her face. He lifted his hand to touch her cheek. "Not like that…I meant by my feelings for you. In the moment they made me forget everything you've done."
Stephanie sent him a small smile and made no attempt to disguise her sadness. "What's wrong with forgetting?" She asked softly. "Hunter, you're not alone. I feel the same way. It wasn't just me and it wasn't just you who destroyed our relationship. You hurt me what felt like a hundred times, in lesser ways. But they add up and you refused to see that. And I hurt you with my huge lie. We're both guilty. Both wrong. Both sorry for what happened between us."
Whatever wall she'd been keeping up, was rapidly crashing down all around her. She felt that this just might be the talk that finally got them back on track. He seemed to be open to honestly discussing what was currently happening and possibly their future, as well. She placed a hand on his shoulder and rubbed reassuringly. "We can't completely ignore our past. But maybe those moments where we can't see it…Hunter, maybe they're supposed to be a reminder that our past doesn't matter. That it isn't as important as the connection we still have."
"Steph," he said before blowing out an exasperated breath. If this was going to work – if they were really going to throw away their fear and doubts, someone needed to take the leap. Judging by the fact he was the one who had always been reserved with speaking of his feelings, he'd go first. He stood up and grabbed her hands, pulling gently. He was pleased that she obligingly stood up as well. "Connection? Fuck that. All right? I mean…really? That doesn't even halfway cut it. I'm just…in love with you, Stephanie. I'm tired of hiding it because we have such a negative history and are technically divorced. I want us to be together again…all the way."
For a moment, Stephanie said nothing. The ease with which he expressed his feelings completely stunned her. It was so unlike Hunter – her Hunter, that she wasn't entirely sure she wasn't dreaming. So she said and did nothing, afraid that she'd wake herself up and be left more miserable than she had been when she'd dozed off.
A sarcastic smile touched his lips as he released one of her hands and began playing with her hair. "This is the part where you say something earth-shattering. At least, that's what happens in the movies."
Oh. So maybe she wasn't dreaming. Right. Words; words would be appropriate. "I…" but she couldn't do it. No, instead she promptly burst into tears.
Tears that naturally sent Hunter into a frenzy. "Steph? What – what did I…I'm sorry." He rambled, clutching her to him in a confused attempt to soothe her. He had no idea what he'd said or done to make her cry. But maybe they were happy tears. He hoped they were happy tears. Wasn't sure what he'd do if they weren't happy tears. God, please be happy tears. "Stephanie? Baby?" He asked, rubbing her back gently. "What's wrong?"
Stephanie sniffled a few more times, slowly composing herself. She pulled back from Hunter and his hazel eyes probed hers, silently asking if she was okay now. She nodded and smiled at him before unexpectedly pressing her lips to his. They remained that way for a few seconds before breaking apart.
"Umm. Not that I didn't enjoy the kiss. But do you want to tell me what just happened?"
A light blush stained her cheeks, but still she wrapped her arms around Hunter's neck. "You have no idea how long I've waited to hear that, Hunter. But let me just say it's been about 10 weeks since I've been feeling that longing for two people."
Hunter tilted his head curiously, wondering if Stephanie had somehow taken on the burden of feeling for the both of them.
She smiled again. She knew he wouldn't put the puzzle pieces together on his own. And why would he? They hadn't planned for this, but now that they were getting back together, it was a most beautiful surprise. "I have three things to tell you, Hunter." At his nod, she went on. "For starters, I'm in love with you. Second: I want to be with you…even if we don't get married immediately, I just want you all to myself again."
Hunter grinned at her and she swore he'd never looked more beautiful to her than in that moment. "I like this so far. Believe me when I say I don't want to rush things…but I don't plan to date you for like five years before I marry you," he informed her. "What's the third thing you have for me?"
Stephanie took a deep breath. God, she hoped to hell and back that he believed her. In fact, she hadn't told him anything because she feared exactly that. She also feared they'd get back together just for the simple fact that, "I'm pregnant."
At first, Hunter felt a wave of disappointment. She was lying. Again. He opened his mouth, prepared to call bullshit on her declaration. And then it struck him. The crying, her recently irregular sleeping patterns. He noticed the glow of her skin and sparkle in her eyes that hadn't been there during her actual pregnancy lie. But most of all, it was the simple fact that she had no reason to be dishonest. They'd already admitted their love for each other and desire to be together. He already confessed that it wouldn't take long for him to marry her again. What did she have to gain by lying? She already had what she wanted: him.
"I'm not lying this time, I swear to you!" She said suddenly. "I wouldn't do that again. Come with me to the next appointment…I'd like that very much," she rambled on unsurely. "I know we didn't plan this, Hunter. And I know we've been…well, seeing other people off and on. But I wasn't with anyone else around the time this baby was made. Believe me...please? I'm carrying your child – our child. I'll…well we can do a paternity test whenever you want."
Finally dizzy of the many different directions she'd already taken his silence, he put his hands on her waist gently. "Just…shhhhh," he soothed her before she could start crying again. By the way her voice had been cracking and wavering, he knew it was close. "I believe you, Stephanie," he said simply.
Stephanie's eyebrows drew together in total confusion. "But – why?"
Hunter shrugged casually. "We're different, Steph. It's subtle but it's there. I mean, you didn't try to use the baby as some kind of bargaining chip to put us back together again. So I know our relationship is gonna be different this time, too."
"It will be," she agreed. "We should probably keep other people out of this one."
Certainly, informing family and friends of one side of a marital issue was never helpful. Everyone had a different opinion and bias based on their own experience. Being newlyweds and all, Hunter and Stephanie had been somewhat prone to actually taking the advice and opinions into consideration. Stephanie had always wondered how things would have turned out of not for her meddling family and both of their scorned, jaded friends.
"Agreed. But eventually there's gonna be one other person that we can't totally keep out of it."
A lost look was on Stephanie's face as she watched Hunter grin like a damn madman. She had no idea who he was referring to. Not until he rested a hand against her stomach. Slowly, she shook her head but couldn't stop the giddy smile from spreading. "You're such a nerd sometimes."
"I am," he agreed. "But I love you…and you love me."
With a happy little sigh, she placed her hand over his. "Always."
Totally not the way the original sequel ended. That one went something more like this:
Stephanie: *tells Hunter about the baby, hands him some report, sonogram and wtfever other proof she's got*
Hunter: wtf, what do you want me to do 0_o
Stephanie: what you do best. run away from a difficult situation. We. Don't. Need. You. Humph
Hunter: -_- *no idea what to do with himself as he watches her pick up her shit and leave calmly*
Stephanie: *actually feels really good for finally kicking the habit and not settling for friends/ex-spouses with benefits. and plus baby yay!*
~ the end. except written way better than that :-D