Disclaimer: The characters are owned by Vince McMahon, the WWE, or themselves. No profit is made from this story as it was written strictly for entertainment purposes!
A/N: After over a year of writer's block, the muses have finally returned! I have to send a special "Thank you" to Jodi for the picture that inspired the muses to come back. I also have to give a big shout out to Nina, the Queen of the Smoochy Dreamers. I hope you all enjoy the end to A Long Time Coming and sorry that it took so long.
One Year After Sting's Debut in the WWE:
Chris entered Antonio's with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. He had had this planned for months now and had slowly begun to run out of patience. Being with Stephanie made him feel whole and he never intended to be without her. Tonight, he was going to ask her to be his wife and everything had to be perfect. As he looked around, it looked as it it was just that.
The room was covered in a rainbow of colored roses. Everything from peach to yellow with red tips to light purple and other unique and expensive colors adorned every table in the restaurant. The lighting was low as it made it seem more intimate and fairytale like. Looking around, he couldn't help but smile at what he pictured Stephanie's face to look like when she walked in the room.
Antonio smiled as he walked from the back. He had heard the door open and found Chris standing there. He had been eagerly awaiting this night as well. Chris was one of his dearest friends and he had finally found the perfect woman for him. There wasn't anybody in this world that was happier for Chris than he was.
"Well, is this what you wanted my friend?" Antonio asked with a sly smile on his face. This was what Chris had told him he wanted word for word. It couldn't have been more perfect if it had to be and he knew it.
"You know that it is," Chris said looking around the room. He walked up to him with a smile. After quickly hugging Antonio, he pulled back. "So you have everything prepared just the way I wanted?"
"But of course," Antonio said with a slight smile. "Come this way and I'll show you to your table."
Stephanie walked out of the motel with a silly grin on her face. She couldn't help it. Being in love with Chris was like walking on air for her and she actually felt as though she could fly. She laughed out loud as she opened the car door. She was meeting Chris at the first place that they had actually had a date. Well, it didn't exactly start out as a date; it was just two friends going out for a meal together but it sure had ended that way.
She turned the car on and backed out of the her parking space. As she made the short drive over there, she couldn't help but think of how different everything in her life was at that moment. Her father had been committed immediately after the show where Sting debuted and the doctors were not too sure that he would ever be released from the mental hospital. He had started taking on wrestling personas such as the Macho Man and Hulk Hogan, alternating between the two, seeming to have a conversation with himself. It truly would have been funny had it not been so sad.
Shane and Linda were running the show and loving everything minute of it. The ratings were higher than they had ever been thanks to the return of Sting. There was also a sense of making wrestling a more 'family-friendly' atmosphere that seemed to take the weight off of everybody's shoulders. Yes, things were certainly looking brighterthan ever for the WWE and evenbetter for the couples backstage.
Trish and Christian had just eloped in Las Vegas just a few weeks before. Nobody knew that they were doing it until they got back, which was just the way they wanted it. They didn't need a big fancy wedding; they just needed each other and felt that eloping was the perfect way to shout it to the world. Lilian and Benoit were still dating and very much in love. Everybody knew it was only a matter of time before Benoit proposed to Lilian; the only regret that they had was that they hadn't started dating sooner.
She pulled into the parking lot with a mystified look on her face. She didn't see Chris's rental car. Looking around, she noticed that there weren't any vehicles in the parking lot. She suddenly felt as though something wasn't right. She looked around for a few seconds before cautiously walking towards the door. Right before she stepped on the first step, Chris opened the restaurant door and walked out.
"Hey beautiful," Chris said with a slight smile on his face. He could see that she was relived to see him and couldn't help but smile. "If she only knew," he thought to himself.
"Hey sexy," Stephanie said with a smile. She walked up to him and kissed him softly on the lips. She pulled back with a serious look on her face. He had that 'I know something you don't know' look on his face. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was up to something. She couldn't resist asking, "What are you up to Jericho?"
"Who me? Why, nothing at all, Princess," Chris said with a smirk. He held out his arm with a mysterious smile and a twinkle in his eyes. "Shall we?"
"Most certainly," Stephanie said with a soft smile while placing her hand on his arm. There was just something about the way that he looked at her that made her feel all fuzzy and warm inside. She couldn't have refused him even if she wanted to though she would have never in a million years admit that to him.
Chris opened the door and smiled. "Do you trust me Princess?" he asked with a soft smile on his face.
"With my life," Stephanie whispered, her love for him shining in her eyes for the world to see.
"Close your eyes," Chris whispered before bending down to kiss her softly on the lips. He wanted this night to be the best of night of their lives and knew deep down inside that it would be. He had handled every minor detail down to the place setting and music. Tonight was the beginning of the rest of their lives.
Stephanie's breath got caught in her throat by the softness in his kiss. He never ceased to amaze her time and time again and this was no exception. She stood there with her eyes closed showing him beyond a shadow of a doubt just how much she trusted him.
He reached down and grabbed her hand. "Step up," he whispered still amazed at how beautiful she was. He had spent more time staring at her face than he had anything in his entire life. There wasn't anything more beautiful on this earth to him than she was. She was everything to him and tonight, he was going to prove it to her.
Stephanie stepped up with her heart pounding in her chest. She wasn't sure why she was so excited and nervous both at the same time. She just had a feeling that tonight was going to be a night to remember. She stood there wishing he would let her open her eyes and see what it was he was hiding.
Chris kissed her softly on the cheek and whispered, "Open your eyes." He then stood back and watched her reaction to the restaurant. This was the moment that he had been waiting for and he was memorizing every detail.
Stephanie opened her eyes and gasped. "Oh Chris," she whispered as she slowly walked around the restaurant taking everything in. She could help but smell the roses that seemed to be everywhere in the restaurant. The candles lit on each and every table seemed to make the roses alive and breathing with excitement. She walked up to the bar noting that every few inches was a single rose of a different color in a crystal vase lined up all the way across. She closed her eyes and leaned in smelling the peach rose noting that it was the most fragrant rose that she had ever smelled in her life.
Chris stood there stunned and amazed at the look on her face. She seemed to be in awe and when she leaned in to smell the peach rose, she looked like she had just smelled what heaven smelled like. He had never seen her this way before and knew that tonight was going to be extra special.
Stephanie quickly turned around and smiled. "Is all of this for me?" she asked wondering how he pulled all of this off without her finding out. She knew that he must have worked terribly hard to keep it a secret because Chris wasn't known for keeping a secret.
"Every bit of it," Chris said opening his arms. Stephanie flew into them and he held her tight. He bent down and whispered in her ear, "I want tonight to be the night that you remember always."
"Every night that I am with you is a night to remember," Stephanie whispered back before reaching up to kiss him softly on the lips, hoping that her lips were half as soft as his. She then laid her head on his shoulder noting the soft violin music in the background.
"May I have this dance?" Chris whispered.
"Yes," Stephanie whispered back while placing her hands up around his shoulders. Feeling his arms going around her waist sent chills up and down her spine just like they always did. She placed her head on his shoulder again and closed her eyes.
Chris and Stephanie danced as if they were the only two people in the world. The world could have come to an end at that precise moment and neither one of them would have noticed. Swaying softly back and forth to the music, they seemed lost in time and each other.
The music softly ended and the two looked at each other with little secret smiles on their faces. It didn't matter that they were standing in the middle of a restaurant. It didn't matter that there wasn't anybody there in the restaurant with them. The only thing that mattered at that moment was the fact that they were together and very much in love.
"I think it's time to eat," Chris said softly before gently kissing her on the nose. "Come on Princess, Antonio made your favorite."
He led her over to the table and noticed the two hearts etched onto the one plate entwined together with a rose in the middle. Antonio had really outdone himself this time and there wasn't anybody more grateful for that then Chris was at that moment. He had asked for the most romantic plate that could be found and believed that it was sitting right there on the table. He wasn't going to eat out of the plate; it was just there as a little detail that he wanted Stephanie to remember. Ever the gentleman, he pulled out Stephanie's chair and seated her before sitting down himself.
Stephanie sat there with her fingers running over the hearts on the crystal plate. She could feel the groves and etches with her fingers and was amazed at how much detail was used in making them. She looked up at Chris to find him looking at her with a kind of stunned look on his face. "What is it? Do I have lipstick on my teeth?" she said wondering why he was looking at her so strangely.
"I've never seen you look more beautiful than you do at this moment," Chris said quietly with an intense look on his face. It was all that he could do to keep from getting the ring out of his pocket and asking her right then and there the question that was burning a whole into his gut. "Patience," he thought to himself. He quickly smiled his boyish grin. "I think it's time that we ate."
Antonio had been waiting for Chris to say that. He quickly motioned the waiter to bring the salad to the table. He already had the wine on the table for Chris to pour. He also had only made one entree' at Chris's request.
The waiter quickly brought out one salad with two forks. He set them down on the table with a smile and quickly disappeared as to not disturb the special moment for Antonio's guests. He had worked there for a very long time and knew that this was the first time that the restaurant had been closed to the public. Something very special was going on and he wasn't about to spoil it.
Stephanie watched in fascination as Chris poured the Italian dressing on the salad. She also immediately noticed that there were two forks which must mean that they were supposed to share the salad. She didn'tmind sharing with Chris but it did seem a bit odd that they were doing that.
Chris looked at Stephanie with a slight grin on his face. He shrugged his shoulders and handed her a fork. As if reading her mind, he said, "I did say that I wanted to 'share' a meal with you, didn't I?"
Stephanie sat there for a second remembering that those were almost the exact words that he used when he had called her on the phone earlier. "Yes, now that you mention it, I do remember you saying that but I didn't really think that you meant it literally." She picked up her fork and mixed up the salad to get the dressing everywhere that she could. She quickly stabbed a few pieces and held them up to Chris's mouth. "Then by all, let's share a meal."
Chris opened his mouth and took the bite that Stephanie offered him. While he knew it tasted excellent as always, he didn't really notice the taste. All he saw was her face smiling at him as he chewed the salad. He quickly reached down with his fork and did the same for her.
She opened her mouth and eased her lips over the fork almost giving Chris a heart attack with the look on pure pleasure on her face. He had almost forgotten how much she enjoyed the food at Antonio's and once again, found himself fighting a major battle to stay sitting along with trying to keep the ring in his pocket to the right moment. All is could think about was how much he loved her and how much wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
They each took turns feeding each other the salad without taking their eyes off of each other. They really were the only two people in the world at that moment and they both liked it that way. Once the salad was finished, Chris reached over and grabbed the wine bottle. He poured it into the one glass on the table and offered it to Stephanie first.
She placed her hand on his and took a soft sip on the wine. It seemed to explode on her lips with flavor. She knew from the taste that it was Antonio's special wine that he seemed to only bring out for her and Chris. In all the times that she had been there to eat, which had been quite a few in the last year, she had never seen anybody else drink Antonio's wine but them. Chris set the wine down and she picked it up, "We're still sharing."
"Yes, we most certainly are," Chris said placing his hand on hers the same way that she had done him. He took a long sip enjoying the flavor. He noticed out of the corner of his eye that the waiter had already grabbed the salad plate and was setting down the chicken parmesan on the table. With a wink, a slight nod ofhis head, and a small smile, he quickly disappeared back into the kitchen without a sound.
Stephanie looked down and noticed the one entree. She smiled a soft smile and sighed, "That smells heavenly. Do we have to share it?" she asked with a slight pout on her face.
Chris burst out laughing at the pout on her face. "Yes sweetheart, you have to share. I promise you that next time, we'll get you your own." He picked up the fork again, cutting a piece of the chicken and then twirling the spaghetti on top of it, offered it to Stephanie first.
She opened her mouth and groaned as she put it in her mouth. Nobody made it like Antonio and it never ceased to amaze her how it seemed like it got better and better each time they ate there. She never ordered anything else despite Chris and Antonio both trying to talk her into it. This was her most favorite dish and her most favorite restaurant. She didn't care how good anything else was on the menu.
Chris shifted in his seat trying to get comfortable. He had a flashback to the first time they had ate there and grinned. She loved eating there with a passion and she showed it every time she took a bite of food. He put his fork down and then waited for her to feed him.
She chewed her food slowly enjoying the flavor and noticed Chris had put his fork down with a slight grin on his face. She quickly cut a piece of chicken and using the same exact method, fed him a bite noticing how hungry his eyes looked. She blushed just a little because she had seen that look on his face before but not while they were eating.
They took turns feeding each other slowly and sipping the wine. Each bite was slowly chewed and enjoyed in silence. Somehow at that moment, they didn't need to speak. Their eyes were telling each other just how much they loved each other and they basked in the happiness that they felt at that moment. Suddenly the plate was empty but it didn't seem to bother either one of them. They were too busy staring at each other.
Chris looked down and smiled, "Looks like the meal is over."
Stephanie looked down and grinned, "I guess we are done eating unless you would like dessert?"
"No, I have everything sweet in life right here," Chris said with a wink. He noticed the violin playing again softly in the background knew that now was the time. He knew Stephanie would say something and waited for her to speak before he asked her to be his wife.
"You are just too sweet," Stephanie said with a smile. She couldn't help but smile; she was so happy. She couldn't remember a time in her life when she was this happy and hoped that Chris was half as happy with her as she was with him.
Chris reached over and grabbed her hand. With all the love he felt for her shining in his eyes, he spoke.
"We've been together for over a year now and I've never been more happier in my entire life. You are everything that I could hope for in a woman and I don't ever want to lose you. You are the light of my life and without you, my life would be completely covered in darkness."
He reached into his pocket and held the ring box in his hand. He had never been this nervous before and a slight bead of sweat had formed on his forehead. He then opened the box, without Stephanie seeing it, and quietly got down on one knee.
Stephanie's heart dropped when she saw him dropping down to one knee. While she had dreamed of this moment for quite a while now, she never believed that it would actually happen. Sure, they had talked about getting married and she wanted it more than anything but she had never thought it would be this soon, not that it was too soon; it just wasn't expected.
He held the ring box up and noticed the tears forming in her eyes. "I want to spend the rest of my life sharing it with you. You are the reason that I get up each morning and the reason that I breathe each day. You are my world, my universe, my everything. I want you to be by my side for all the good and for all the bad that life has to offer. Stephanie Marie McMahon, will you marry me?" he asked wishing he could read her mind.
Stephanie looked at the two carat diamond ring with a small ruby on each side. She smiled with tears falling down her face. She placed her hand on the ring box and laughed out loud. "Yes, I will marry you."
Chris took the ring out of the box and placed it on the third finger of her left hand. He then lifted her hand up and kissed it softly. He looked at her solemly and said, "I promise you that I will spend the rest of my life making you happy, taking care of you, and loving you."
"I know," Stephanie said placing her hand on his face. She leaned down and kissed him softly on the lips. "There is no other man on earth I would rather marry than you. You are the love of my life and I can't live with you."
Chris reached up and placed his hand on her cheek loving the way she seemed to lean into him so trustingly and lovingly. "I love you so much it hurts." He then slowly placed his lips on hers and let the rest of the room fade away. As far as he was concerned, he and Stephanie were the only two people in the room even though that wasn't exactly true.
Antonio stood there peaking out of the kitchen door with tears in his eyes. He had just watched the most amazing story of love right before his very eyes. He knew that the first time he met Stephanie that she was the one for Chris. He had never doubted it for a second. He silently shut the door and patted the waiter on the back with a sigh, "That my friend, is amore'."