Part 4

The atmosphere inside the newly built arena was at the very least exhilarating, it was furthermore the night in which The Alliance owners were scheduled to make a bombshell announcement on the fledgling company's potential direction. Every single superstar was just about dying with curiosity and were stunned when they questioned Hunter and Austin because neither of them - the two top stars of the company - had any idea about what Shane nor Stephanie had planned.

It was also Kurt Angel's first night back and so far it was not going inordinately well for him. Every superstar - both Alliance and hires from the old WWF - were treating him like he was a leper. Not that he had been expecting to be welcomed with open arms, but somehow he had not quite expected to be given the cold shoulder either.

After he had been forced to dress in an abandoned corner of the locker room he had been assigned to, Kurt decided to take a quick stroll around the building - basically he would have done anything to get himself out of the locker room area. However he found it nearly as bad out there where there was a lot of suspicious looks from the crew and a mysterious lack of sightings of one particular owner.

After a while he found a nice quiet place and sat himself down to watch the show on a nearby monitor until it was his time to go on out to the ring. Kurt found himself sitting up a little bit straighter when he heard Stephanie's theme music hit and a wide shot of the ring revealed Shane, Stephanie and the ever-present Paul E. Heyman were standing in the middle of the squared circle obviously ready to make their joint announcement.

His attention was naturally focused on the figure of Stephanie looking all pale and fragile, but none of the words she spoke sank in. At least that was until he heard two fateful words slip from Stephanie's lips - Brand Extension. He was not quite certain about what it meant, but somehow he knew that it was not going to be good news for him.

Focusing his attention away from the woman he loved, Kurt forced himself to concentrate on the words that were being spoken in the ring. From what he could gather there was some major changes about to occur in the company. Raw and Smackdown were going to be split, as were the wrestlers and there was also going to be a name change for the company.

The sinking feeling that had been threatening to overwhelm Kurt finally did so; as he saw his chance to woo Stephanie disappear. If she and Shane took a brand each he knew that he would be stuck working for the male McMahon. What he needed now was a miracle of the largest proportion.

"You want to what?" Stephanie yelled at her husband. She could not believe what she had just heard him say.

They had just returned to their hotel room after a leisurely dinner with Shane and Marissa. However they had scarcely stepped through the doorway into the room before Hunter had dropped his latest bombshell on her - he did not want to work for her.

Casually he pulled his dinner jacket he answered her, "Look honey, I just don't think it's a good idea for us to be on the same program. If we are then - well, people are just going to assume that you're giving me special treatment..."

"And you think that being on a show run by your brother-in-law will change that?"

"There's a better chance - " Hunter started to say and then changed his mind."Steph, you know that I love you, but I think that this will be good for us. This time we will have a chance to separate our marriage form the business."

Stephanie sat down on the edge of the bed, thinking about the point that he had made. Some of the major problems that had plagued their marriage were caused by her father and the business. However there were also new problems that Hunter's suggestion presented.

"We'd be working different days - different schedules."

"That's only a few days per week. We would be together the rest of the time, just the two of us."

"I'm still not sure about this," Stephanie admitted to him as he sat down next to her.

Hunter lifted her chin with one of his large hands, forcing her to look deep into his eyes. "All I am asking is for us to give it a try. If it doesn't work I'm sure that we can find a way for me to swap shows."

Hunter brushed her lips ever-so tenderly with his own; the sheer breath of a kiss and instantaneously Stephanie knew that she would be the one to give in yet again. The truth was that she had no bona fide objection to Hunter's proposition and on quite a lot of levels she in point of fact agreed with him, but that did not prevent her worrying about certain things. One was as you would expect, if her marriage - in its existing circumstance - could stand the tension of a separation again so soon and two - and in her opinion - the most problematic - there was every chance that she could end up with Kurt on her show via the superstar draw.

"Okay," she finally whispered against her urge for self-preservation. "We'll give it a try."

His response was not a verbal one; his lips found hers once more and there was no more words or thoughts about business, brand extensions, or Olympic medallists for an extremely long time.

Two weeks later Stephanie found herself standing on the Raw staging area, just in front of the titantron; it was time for the superstar picks. This stunt that she and Shane had planned was the biggest and riskiest career move that they could have chosen, even more so than when they had driven their father out of business.

Her attention was riveted on JR and his explanation of what was about to occur. The first ten picks for both Raw - Shane - and Smackdown - Stephanie - would take place live in front of the audience and after Raw wen off the air the remaining superstars would be divided via a special draw. Meaning that half go to Raw and half to Smackdown and no arguments about placing's.

Before she knew it, Shane was making his first pick and Stephanie had to admit the jolt of surprise when Shane chose Austin instead of Hunter. She did not give into temptation and choose her husband and instead stuck to her original superstar, the one she had thought out carefully, The Undertaker.

They continued to make their selections - neither one of them choosing Angle for their line-up. As she made her way backstage afterwards she saw a mixture of emotion run across the faces of the talent, raging from anger to relief to surprise to disappointment. However Stephanie could offer them no comfort, both she and Shane had worked out their rosters to maximise viewers and talent and the rest to come was simply going to be luck of the draw.

Ignoring the looks that superstars were shooting in her direction, she simply kept on moving away. Since Shane, Austin and Hunter had commandeered the General Manager's office to watch the rest of the show, Stephanie elected to go to the catering area - which she found blissfully deserted - to watch the show on a monitor and to have some quality alone time.