Love Potion No. 9: Part III of III

Rating: PG-13ish

Chicago, Illinois

February 14, 2003

"Stephanie.wow. I uh-here." Kurt suddenly thrust a bouquet of flowers at Stephanie. "These are for you."

"Thanks Kurt, they're..um, nice. They're.exactly what I would have expected from you." The flowers were hideous, and they smelled like weed killer. But it was the gesture that counted; at least he had tried...

She ignored the fact that Hunter was crazily enough, a flower freak, he used to own tons of encyclopedias of flowers. She'd caught him a couple times ordering flowers. It had been an unbelievable feeling when she'd overheard him on the phone, his voice, usually so hard and well, sometimes just crass, debating over the qualities of gardenias versus lilies with the florist. She had secretly suspected he really enjoyed giving flowers as gifts---he always sent them to his mother, her mother, their staff assistants and publicists.and his flower arrangements were just absolutely breathtaking.

It'd tickled her to no end when she found out how much her macho husband loved taking the simplest things and making them extraordinary. It was one of his better traits.

Kurt beamed. "I knew you'd love them. I lucked out on them, this couple was having a fight just downstairs and the woman pitched them at the guy. I just picked them right up and knew they'd been meant for you."

Stephanie stared.

"Yeah, I know, can you believe the luck? The girl was pretty cool, she had decent aim, I mean, you know, for a girl. She hit him right in the chin.." Kurt chatted on, completely oblivious to Stephanie's state of disbelief.

"Ah, well, Kurt, I think we ought to go. Can't be late." Stephanie murmured, shoving him gently out the door, carefully placing the flowers on a table and walked with him down the hallway.

"No, we can't be late, you're right. Le Petit Fleur strikes me as the kind of place that likes punctuality." They stepped on the elevator.

"Ummm..actually, I cancelled our reservations for the restaurant." Stephanie told him, pressing the elevator button down.

"You did what? Why? What are we going to do for dinner?"

"Actually, I was thinking-"

"I know exactly what you were thinking, Steph." Kurt said triumphantly.

"You-you do?" Stephanie stammered.

"Yeah, of course. And let me tell you, I am definitely up for it."

"I-you-are?" She asked.

"Oh, yeah. So.." Kurt suddenly was in her personal space, leering down at her, his beefy arm across her shoulder.

"You want to go back to my hotel room, right? I knew it was only a matter of time before you decided to sample the wares of a true American Hero.frankly, I am surprised it took you this long Steph. But, hey, all good things come to those who wait, am I right, or am I right?" Kurt purred.

Stephanie blinked. Oh. My. God. "Kurt, I think you have the wrong idea." She stammered.

But Kurt seemed to be completely oblivious once again. "I have to say, I wasn't really expecting this right away. I thought we'd probably have to go out on a couple more dates at least, but if you want it right now, who am I to deny the Billion-Dollar Princess?" Kurt smiled hugely. He leaned in even closer and Stephanie threw out an elbow.

"Good God, no, Kurt! I-no! This isn't even remotely close to anything what I was thinking. I-God! I-just-I thought we could do something else tonight. But.Not. That." Never, ever, ever, ever that. Stephanie shuddered inwardly.

Kurt amazingly enough, still was able to be embarrassed enough to physically flush. "I guess I got a little ahead of myself there." He chuckled.

A little? Kurt, you not only got a *little* ahead of yourself, you're all the way in freaking Mongolia. "That's okay." She said aloud.

"So, if we're not going to be.what are we doing?" Kurt asked genuinely puzzled.

"I thought it might be nice to have an evening out, see the family. My dad and brother, I haven't really been able to spend as much time with them as I'd like, and I thought it'd be a fun surprise to show up at the Piazza tonight for dinner."

"Dinner with your dad? And your brother? Steph, don't get me wrong, your dad and me, we're like this"-Kurt held out two intertwined fingers-"But this is Valentine's Day. Don't you think we should be on our own for this one?"

Stephanie had been prepared for this. "Actually, there'll be a ton of people there. It's really a party for Raw and-"

"Are you saying you want to crash Raw's party?" Kurt asked incredulously.

"We're not crashing. What an ugly word, Kurt! No, as the general manager for one of the two premiere brands of sports entertainment, I am perfectly entitled to be at this dinner. Plus, I'm a McMahon, and hell, my family owns Raw, so I am absolutely welcome at this dinner. And you Kurt, you're the Champion! And you are coming as my personal guest. So there really isn't anything to crash here Kurt." Stephanie was fully aware she was babbling but it would ruin everything if she couldn't convince Kurt to take her to this party.

"And you really don't think Bischoff's gonna be upset at you being there?" Kurt asked doubtfully. They hailed a taxi and were on their way to the Piazza.

"Oh, he may be a little peeved but who cares? He's on such shaky ground with Dad he wouldn't dare say anything against me. And why does it matter so much to you, anyway? Are you afraid of walking in, the only Smackdown superstar in a room full of Raw superstars? Well, I guess I could understand that, I mean, they're all very intimidating and-"

"Hey, hey, hey! It's not that I'm scared. Not at all. I just wanted to make sure we had all our bases covered since we're just showing up."

Hook, line and sinker. Stephanie giggled to herself. One sure way to make Kurt do anything was to imply he was scared. She'd used that to her advantage many a time. He was sooo predictable. Unlike some people.

"Oh, the bases are definitely covered, Kurt. So, would you like to go?"

"Absolutely. Now that you mention it, I think this is a great idea. We should let those idiots at Raw know what it feels like to have actual winners in the room. " Kurt replied.

"Now you're thinking. We'll have a great time, I promise."

"Any time spent with you is a good time, Steph."

Stephanie smiled at Kurt and for the first time in the past two days, she meant it. Suddenly she started feeling awkward about how she was using him in her scheme tonight. Annoying, condescending, arrogant.Kurt possessed these traits in abundance, that was definitely true. But it was also true he had always been there for her. "Thank you Kurt. That's so sweet." She pulled his arm around her back and leaned in next to him. "You've been a good friend to me over the years. Don't think I've forgotten that. I just want you to know.I appreciate you." Kurt stared at Stephanie, not quite sure how to take this. But then he understood.

"We're never going to be anything but friends, are we?" He asked quietly.

"No." She said, whispering. "I wish-sometimes I wish we could. It would be so much easier. But-it's just not there. Do you understand?"

Kurt stared down at his hands. "I thought this would bother me a lot more than it actually is..but it's not. I do understand.it's either there, or it's not.you can't choose who you love, Stephanie." He finished awkwardly.

Stephanie was nonplussed by how well Kurt was taking all of this. "No, no.you really can't. I know that now." She tried to summon up a grin, but failed. "I have an ulterior motive in going to this party."

"You? A McMahon? Having an ulterior motive. Noooooo..." Kurt drawled, laughing.

Stephanie playfully hit him across the shoulder. "Shut up, you jerk! I'm just saying..I don't know what's going to happen tonight. I know what I want to happen and I'm going to do everything possible to make it happen.but I still just don't know. You got my back?" She asked, only half- joking.

"Yeah."

Silence in the taxi.

"He doesn't deserve you, you know?"

Stephanie thought on that. "You said it earlier. You can't choose who you love. And.it's not about one person 'deserving' another. It's so far past that. He's.mine, Kurt. He's always been mine. I'm not about to give up everything I put into him, not without at least giving it one final try. I'd always wonder, what if I gave up too soon? What if I could have fixed it? At least this way, whatever happens, I'll know the truth. I'll know for sure." Stephanie shivered, and it had nothing to do with the cold weather.

The taxi had finally pulled up in front of the Piazza.

Kurt stepped out, walked around the car and she got out of the cab, paying the driver.

"Well, this night's not gonna go exactly like I'd hoped, but for sheer entertainment value I have a feeling it's going to be a doozy."

Stephanie patted her purse, reassuring herself the perfume was still there. "You have no idea, Kurt." She murmured.

"Ready?" Stephanie pasted on her biggest "I'm a McMahon, I'm-worth-more- than-all-of-you-put-in-this-room-added-together" smile, the one Hunter always told her she ought to get patented and told the maitre'd they were with the Raw party. They were led to the room and the French doors parted. There was an audible silence for a moment then, the chatter nervously resumed.

Eric Bischoff caught Stephanie's eye and he furiously crossed the room. "What the hell do you think you're doing here?!" He burst out, staring at Stephanie, barely sparing Kurt a glance and then looking back at Smackdown's GM.

"I think that should be fairly obvious. I am here to wish people in my father's-" Stephanie enunciated the word, watched as Eric followed the movement of her tongue as she did so-"company a Happy Valentine's Day. I'm not here to do any recruiting, no business. I promise."

Eric opened his mouth to say something when Vince McMahon came behind him and clapped a hand on Eric's shoulder. "Sweetheart!" he greeted. "Happy Valentine's.I'm glad to see you've made it."

"You invited her?" Eric asked, clearly disbelieving.

"Of course. She's my daughter, she's always welcome." Vince lied smoothly. Whatever Stephanie was doing here, he had decided to back her up. McMahons might stab each other in the back, but when it came to defending one another against outsiders, Vince was determined that his family would stand tall.

"Thank you dad. Will you excuse us? I need to go to the ladies' room."

"Of course, Stephanie." Vince smiled broadly at her, Kurt shrugged and made his way over to the food and Eric silently seethed.

Stephanie ignored the curious glances around her, greeted a few people on her way to the bathroom. She was only a few feet away when she heard an all- too familiar high pitched laugh from a nearby table. She turned and walked over. God, they were like bunny rabbits or something. She walked over.

"Hello, Hunty-I mean, Hunter." She said sweetly. She turned her attention to Red. "And I'm sorry, I seem to have forgotten your name, but well, it's not like you're not used to it after all." She said to Red. She watched in triumph as Red's eyes narrowed, while in contrast Hunter's widened. Hunter's arms pulled out from around the woman. "Steph.you came. How are you feeling?" He asked immediately.

"Me? I'm wonderful. I'm so glad you mentioned this party, I never would have thought to come otherwise. I just wanted to say hello, though. Resume your necking positions, by all means." She smiled, taking the bite out of her statement. It simply wouldn't do to allow him to think she was actually jealous. She retreated to the bathroom, feeling Red's eyes drilling a hole into her back. She threw back the bathroom door and checked around her. No one else was in there. Hastily she pulled out the perfume. It was now or never. She fumbled with the perfume and finally-

Spritz.

Spritz.

She got two good sprays out of it, then it was empty. She rubbed it on her neck, her wrists. It really was gorgeous. She pitched the bottle out the window, hearing the tiny crash of glass.

Stephanie smoothed her dress around her long legs and pulled open the door. She forced herself to take a couple of breaths and she headed back into Hunter's general vicinity. Just breathe, this is all going to be okay. She told herself. A part of herself was laughing because here she was, at a party convinced some magical, mysterious perfume was going to give her her heart's desire. God, could she be any more desperate? There was no way this stupid perfume was going to do anything at all, there was no way it actually could, she was so stupid and-

So lost was Stephanie in the tidal wave of her thoughts she hadn't even noticed as Chris Jericho had stepped up next to her.

"You know, if there's one thing I've missed about being on Smackdown, it's that I don't get to insult you like I used to, Steph. You made it so damn easy on me, I was almost ashamed of myself. But not really. You know-"

Chris stopped mid-sentence, his jaw hanging open in awe. Stephanie looked at him, perplexed. "I know what?" She asked haughtily, arms crossed against her chest.

"You take my breath away." Chris finished in a whisper, as his hand reached out and stroked her face with the pads of his fingers. And then he did something even more surprising.

He kissed her. Not one of their "God I hate you, I wish you'd just die" kisses either. This one was gentle, and beautiful, and before she quite knew what was happening, Chris's arms had wrapped themselves around her body.

"I don't know how I never saw this before." He murmured. "You're beautiful."

"I-" Oh, God! The perfume. It was affecting Chris. She shoved him away. "I- need to go, I-" What the hell? How could the perfume work on Chris Jericho? He most certainly was not her heart's desire!

"No, Stephanie, don't go. Tell me what I have to do, so that you won't go, please! Please, I'll do anything." He begged, actually begged. Stephanie stared at him, fascinated.

"No, no.there's nothing, I mean.." She would be a really horrible person if she took advantage of this situation she knew. But.Chris Jericho had tormented her, taunted her, said horrible, horrible things about her. He so had this coming. She leaned in closer, holding her hand to his cheek.

"Chris?" She said, letting her lower lip pout out.

"Yeah?" He squeaked. How delicious. Stephanie smiled at the sound. "There is one thing."

"Anything." His voice was determined.

"Go shave this nasty goatee, or beard, or whatever the hell this braid thing is."

"That's all?" He asked eagerly.

"Yeah, that's all."

"Okay, I'll be back in like, ten minutes. I have to go find a razor. Don't go anywhere." Chris took one last look at her and fled the room like bats from hell were pursuing him. Stephanie sighed, elated. Now, she needed to focus on more important matters. She started walking again, only to be halted by Eric.

"Yes?" She said.

"I don't know why you're here. Or what you're up to, but I promise I won't let you get away with it. You are-"

Stephanie leaned in closer, having decided to test her theory about the perfume. "I'm what?" she purred.

"You are-you are-" Eric stuttered. "A goddess. I, wow. You're just.so intelligent. I love talking to you, even when we're arguing. But I don't want to argue with you, not anymore."

"You don't?"

"No..you know what they say, McMahon?"

"What do they say?"

"It's a thin line between love and hate.and baby, I've just crossed over!" With that, Stephanie found herself swirled around and being kissed by Eric in an exact replica of the kiss they had shared on Halloween.

Only a few people had seen Stephanie with Chris, but there was now a surprised gasping from the superstars at seeing the sight of the two warring General Managers locked in what looked to be one hell of a kiss.

Stephanie pushed at Eric but he wasn't budging. She couldn't breathe, ewww.he was like the worst kisser ever. He kept gnawing on her lip. She thought he tasted like garlic and honey and some weird kind of mint. She gasped in horror but he seemed to take that as encouragement. "Get off of me!" She hissed, finally succeeding in pushing Eric away. She stared at him stunned for a moment and was thrilled when Eric was being asked the same thing by her dad. Stephanie pivoted around, seeking escape when she smashed into William Regal.

"Oh, dear God, no!" Stephanie screamed and smacked William before he could even get any ideas. She pushed her way out of the crowd quickly forming around her. She felt dizzy, still unable to breathe, and she heard snippets of conversation -when had every single man on Raw suddenly started surrounding her?

."Stephanie looks really good tonight."

.."Stephanie always looks good.were you saying that she doesn't? 'Cause if you were, I'll bust you open!"

."Back off, she's mine!"

."You back off! If anybody is going to have Stephanie, you'd better believe it's going to be me!"

And suddenly the room was chaos. Two men were going pummeling each other in the middle of the crowd-was that Rob Van Dam and Booker T? What the hell was happening here? She found herself being yanked out of the way by- Victoria?

And then Victoria hit her across the cheek hard, Stephanie staggered back in shock. "What did you do that for?" She screamed at Victoria, ignoring the all out brawl going on behind her. Every man in the room was attacking each other.

"Why do they think you're so special? I'm just as pretty as you, I'm powerful too! I'm the women's champion and-" Victoria fell to the floor as Trish Stratus kicked her in the back.

"Ahh!" Victoria screamed. "You'll pay for that, you witch!" Trish smirked and kept kicking her. Stephanie shrugged and joined Trish in pummeling Victoria. No one slapped a McMahon and got away with it. Suddenly, Stephanie was pulled away from Victoria and Trish. She immediately put her hands up to try and block whoever was coming at her.

"You know, Hunter talks about you in his sleep still." Ric Flair spoke softly into her ear, his breath tickling her throat.

"He what?" Stephanie struggled to hear over the men talking in the background.

"He says your name. Like he's having nightmares or something. I never understood how a guy like that could let himself get so whipped by a woman.but now, now I get it. You are glorious." Ric told her.

This time when he leaned in toward her, Stephanie was prepared. "Back off!" She shouted, stomping her heel hard into his loafers. Rob Van Dam emerged from the crowd, bloodied but smiling broadly. "Don't worry, I'll rescue you!" He told her and flung himself at Ric, hitting the older man with such a force he went sprawling on the ground. Stephanie looked at the scene before her in horror. What had she done? How could everyone be affected by a couple of sprays of some perfume? She hadn't wanted this, not at all. She had to leave, maybe then everyone would recover and get back to their normal selves. Well, this was *sort* of their normal selves, but.far too extreme. And it wasn't like she was making any money off it on pay-per view or anything.

Leaving was the best option at this point. Stephanie managed to reach the doors through a combination of pushing, clawing, screaming, hitting and carefully stepping over the bodies on the floor. She hoped no one was seriously injured, WrestleMania was in a month and Dad would kill her if any of the main eventers was injured in something so stupid as all this. She shoved on the doors and emerged in the hallway. Yes! She'd made it! Only.

She wasn't alone.

Stephanie shuddered as two men emerged tumbling from the room. Kurt and Shawn Michaels were hitting each other so hard it made her body hurt in sympathy, and she was still aching from her slip on the ice earlier. "Stop it!" "Stop it, right now!" She screamed at the two of them, trying to reach in between them, to make them stop. She sprawled to the floor as Shawn hit her while he was aiming for Kurt.

"I am so sorry, Angel!" He apologized. "Don't worry, I'll make the s.o.b pay for that!" And he started hitting Kurt even more forcefully. Stephanie reached in again, to save Kurt, it was all her fault he was even at this party after all. He was her friend! He was one of her top wrestlers. "Get off him, Shawn!" She shrieked right in his ear. Shawn cringed at the loudness.

Stephanie wasn't even surprised any more when she felt herself being lifted off of Shawn and Kurt. Wearily she prepared herself to kick whoever her new would-be suitor was and gasped when she saw furious brown eyes staring at her. To regain her balance, she wrapped her legs around his waist. He walked-well, actually, it was more like ran, down the hallway and she held on tight, reveling in the feel of his arms surrounding her body.

"Princess, I've missed you." He breathed into her hair.

"Hunter, wait. Where are we going?" She asked as she realized he was making for the exit of the Piazza.

"Away from all those people. I want to be alone with you."

"I-Hunter, put me down."

"No." He said simply.

"I'm serious, you have to put me down!"

"I don't have to do anything, Stephanie, you of all people should understand that."

"Hunter, please. You don't understand! This isn't the way this was supposed to happen!"

"This isn't the way what was supposed to happen?"

Stephanie withdrew an arm from around his neck, it wasn't as though she needed to hold on, he wouldn't let her fall. She stared down at him. "You were supposed to want me, I was supposed to make you wait. That's what was supposed to happen!" She knew she was being irrational, but she couldn't help herself.

His arms around her tightened; she hadn't thought it was possible. His voice was quiet, deadly serious: "No, I don't think you understand. I have waited. I waited for you to apologize about lying to me about the baby, and you didn't. I waited for you to come back to me and instead you go and decide to manage an entirely different show. I've waited longer for you than I have for anybody else. What do you want me to wait for now, for you to fall in love with somebody else? I'm tired of waiting."

"It's cold out here!" She protested; he had taken them outside. He sighed and set her down on her feet, pulling off his tuxedo jacket. He wrapped the jacket around her and hailed a taxi. "Get in." He said shortly.

Stephanie wanted to protest but at the look on his face, decided against it. Wordlessly she climbed into the taxi. He gave instructions to take them back to his hotel. Stephanie looked outside. "It's snowing awfully hard." She commented.

"Yeah, I guess there's going to be a blizzard. You don't need to worry about that."

"I don't?"

"No, it's not like you're going to be leaving the hotel for quite some time when we get there."

"Oh." Oh. The thought finally registered in Stephanie's bewildered mind. This was all happening too fast for her brain to keep up.

"We need to talk about this." She began.

"We really don't. So just be quiet."

Her temper flared. " 'Be quiet'? Who the hell do you think I am you Neanderthal? I-"

"You're my wife."

This stopped her midsentence. "No, ex-wife." She corrected bitterly.

"On paper. Papers never meant much to me, Steph. You know that. You're my wife in all the ways that count, that's what matters. I don't know why I didn't realize this months ago." He frowned.

Stephanie's heart plummeted to the floor. She'd been so enraptured with Hunter these past few minutes, she'd forgotten all about the perfume.

None of this was real. Sooner or later, the perfume would wear off, and he would be furious, he would hate her, he would never want to look at her again..this wasn't fair! He was saying all of the things she'd ever wanted him to say and.

It wasn't even real. Stephanie wanted to curl up into a little ball and just die.

"Kiss me." She said instead, sliding next to him. "Just-let me have that at least." She said, choking on the words.

"At least? This is just the beginning." He promised, his lips coming to press down softly on hers, increasing in pressure as he threaded his fingers through her hair.

That was when they realized the cab had stopped and the driver was coughing loudly. Hunter grunted frustratedly and reached over to Stephanie to dig around in his jacket pocket. He tossed a fifty through the window and pulled Stephanie from the car, rushing her into the hotel.

Stephanie laughed wildly as he heaved her in the elevator and pushed her against the wall. "I've been wanting to do this for so long." He told her in a low tone of voice, his words reminded her of when she was young and used to have to confess all of weekly sins to the priest. "So, so long. I'm an idiot for having waited."

Stephanie closed her eyes against the emotion in his eyes. This isn't real, she told herself fiercely. He doesn't know what he's saying, he doesn't really feel this way, he..

"I want to make love with you. Will you let me?"

The soft-spoken words broke her. She started to cry.

"Hey, hey.I-I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to rush you, I thought-" His lips pressed thinly together.

"No, no.I want you too." She reassured him. They had gotten off the elevator, were walking down the hall.

"You do?"

"Do you really have to ask?" She cried, catching up to him.

"Well, you're crying, what the hell am I supposed to think?

"Don't think. Don't do anything. I just want you to be here with me, now. Whatever happens tomorrow, I'll live with it. And I'm sorry it's happening this way, but."

He cut her off by opening his room and gesturing for her to go inside. She did so quickly, shrugging off his jacket. He yanked off his bow tie, pulled off his dress shirt, tossed it casually on the floor. Her mouth went dry, which really was ridiculous, she could see this chest every week on television.but seeing it in person was so very different. He smiled at her reaction. "Your turn." He told her. She kicked off her shoes. She was surprised when her fingers shook. Even more surprised when his eyes softened and he grinned that smile that always made her melt a year ago.it was no different now. He held out his hand and she placed hers in it, followed him curiously to the bathroom and-

It was beautiful. There was a hot tub, filled with rose petals. The room was gorgeous, warm and.

Not for her. "You did this for Red-I mean, Sherry." She said coldly when he mouthed her neck.

"Who?"

"Sherry." Her eyes flared when he still looked at her blankly. "Red-head. Braying laugh. Not much upstairs. Calls you by the name of 'Hunty'." She mocked.

"Oh. It was never her." He said simply.

"I-what do you mean by that?"

"It was never her. Any of them, really. It was never them, it was always you. No matter what I did, who I did it with, where I did it.it was always your face I'd see.do you have any idea what that does to a man, what that did to me? To be with someone else entirely, and it was still all about you. Really used to piss me off." He said almost conversationally.

"Oh, how you must have suffered." Jealousy was counterproductive, but she couldn't help it, how dare he stand here and talk to her like it was nothing, like it was-

But that's what he was saying, she suddenly realized. None of them had meant anything. It was always her.Stephanie tried not to feel overjoyed at that but couldn't manage it.

"Oh." She said.

"Yeah. 'Oh.'" He chided her, but his tone was kind. "As I was saying though, you are waaay too overdressed." She looked down at her dress, at the hot tub. "Hunter I think-"

"Like you said, stop thinking. Just feel." He leaned into her. "Princess.get in the tub." He laughed and before she quite knew what was happening she was suddenly in the tub, her dress plastered to her body. "Hunter!" She screamed.

"I'll buy you a new dress. Promise." He started to unbuckle the belt on his pants and then his head snapped up. "What the hell?" He looked around the room wildly.

"What's wrong?" She asked as she started to shrug out of her soaked dress beneath the water.

"I-what are you doing here? What am I doing-"

Stephanie sat stunned for a moment. Then: It hit her. The water.

It had washed off the scent of the perfume. She stood up, so fast a tidal wave of water hit the floor. "Hunter, I can explain, oh, God, I-"

Hunter simply stared at her, his eyes the size of dinner plates. She stood frozen in the hot tub, the water bubbling around her for a minute.

"I-" She climbed out of the tub, ignoring the water pouring off her dress. She felt her cheeks begin to burn.

"Where do you think you're going?" He asked her as he blocked her way to the door.

"Away. Out of here, just God, out of here-" She babbled and he drew her to his chest.

"I'm going to want an explanation later. Knowing you, I'm sure it'll be something really interesting. But right now? I just don't give a damn." He kissed her hard across the mouth and she started laughing, pulling him down with her into the hot tub.

******

Stephanie woke to dim moonlight filtering through the blinds to the room. She rose from the bed, pulled Hunter's dress shirt off the floor and wrapped it around herself, pulled back the blinds. She looked down at the Chicago street below and everything was at a standstill. No cars, the snow was at least seventeen inches deep and still falling. The street lights were shining and everything around her was a white crystal blur.

"It's beautiful." She murmured when she heard the footsteps behind her, smiled as she felt the massive arms curl around her waist.

"It really is." But he wasn't looking at the snow. He rested his chin on the back of her head. "Come back to bed." He said sleepily. " I can't sleep without you."

Stephanie smiled. It really wasn't hard when you really meant it. She climbed back in the bed, using Hunter for her mattress. He immediately went back to sleep but her brain was just too loud. In the end, she fell back asleep with only two thoughts:

God, she loved this man.and they were going to be allright.

And the second? She really needed to send a thank you to Thea.

Although the old woman really could have given her a little warning about the power of the damn perfume.