Stephanie McMahon Levesque sat at her dressing table, peering in the mirror and gingerly applied concealer under her right eye. The bruise was such a dark purple it was nearly black, so covering it up wasn't an easy job. But this had happened so many times before that she was becoming quite adept at hiding the various marks, cuts and bruises she usually received from her husband.
Luckily, a lot of the other marks she had were easily concealed by her clothes, albeit she would have to be covered from head to toe for a couple of weeks. It was times like this she was happy she didn't have any roles in front of the camera anymore. If she had known that this was what her marriage would be, she never would have walked up that aisle.
She still remembered everything about her wedding. She wore the finest designer dress, and her father had walked her towards her future husband, the man she loved with all of her heart. But what she remembered more than anything was the feeling of euphoria and perfect happiness at the thought of becoming Paul's wife and how eager she was to become Mrs McMahon Levesque. The bliss ended two days later on their honeymoon.
The newlyweds had been laughing and joking around, when, according to Paul, Stephanie had taken it a step too far. Reaching out, he had grabbed her arm roughly and yanked her towards him. He gripped her jaw hard, ignoring her whimpers of pain. Then, bringing his other hand up, he slapped her hard across the face.
That first time, Stephanie had screamed and yelled. Calling him every name under the sun and threatening him with the police, herself and finally her father had evoked no fear, only a sadist laugh that made her blood run cold. She ran into the bathroom, locking the door behind her, determined to stay well out of his reach and listening to him crashing and thundering around their suite.
After an hour, Paul tapped on the door, shouting his apologies through the solid wood separating them. Tentatively opening the door, she saw tears in her husband's eyes, and she melted into his arms. He held her, softer than he ever had before, stroking her hair and kissing the top of her head. He had sworn he would never do it again, that he just lost control and he would keep his anger in check better. And she had bought it all, desperate to salvage her perfect marriage.
True to his word, Paul had stopped. For a while. A few months into married life he had struck out again, this time because he had read some hate mail from a wrestling fan, and Stephanie was the first person he could take it out on. Since then, it had become more and more frequent, and more intense, and most days Stephanie wondered if she was going to wind up in the hospital next time. One time she had considered going to the police, or packing her bags and leaving, but the sorry look on her husband's face had melted her resolve and had persuaded her that maybe he would change.
"Steph," Paul's gruff voice called up the stairs, sounding almost like a stranger. "I'm going out."
"Okay," she replied, her voice quivering. She couldn't believe she was scared of her own husband.
Growing up she had shared the dreams of countless other girls: marrying a handsome man who loved and protected her and living happily ever after. Now she spent every day wondering what she would do to make Paul hit her again. Sometimes she didn't need to do much, just be there at the wrong time.
Last night it had been about his dry cleaning. Stephanie had had a meeting in the afternoon which ran late. By the time she had gotten to the dry cleaners it had closed for the day, with nothing she could do. When she had tried to explain all this to Paul he had flown into another rage and punched her in the eye, sending her crashing to the floor, dazed and barely conscious.
She had often asked herself why she didn't leave, or why she didn't report Paul to the police and get his ass thrown in jail. The truth was she just couldn't do it. Paul would be ruined, professionally as well as personally, and part of her feared that the retribution for this would be unbearable. It would affect the business, which was already suffering due to low viewing figures and staff jumping ship. And Stephanie, being a McMahon, would die before being seen as a "victim". She still had pride and dignity, and she knew that by telling tales, all she had worked for over the years would be lost.
So she put up with everything Paul threw at her (and sometimes that was literal), and she hid everything from the world outside. A small part of her was still in denial about the abuse. Her inner voice told her that he didn't mean to hurt her, that sometimes he just go out of control and that she was just there at the wrong times. That same voice also bought every one of Paul's apologies, and told her that "this time would be the last". This was the part of her that still dreamt of the happily ever after. The other side of her, the side she tried not to listen to, screamed for her to get out, or to fight back. That side of her knew that Paul would never stop, that all his apologies were lies. That side of her went so far as to question why Paul even married her in the first place, and assumed it was to gain a stake in the business he held so dear in his life.
Walking down the stairs, Stephanie looked at everything around her. She didn't get to where she was by telling tales and being weak. If she could put up with the shit the WWE threw at her, she could deal with a few bumps and bruises at home.
She knew that one day someone would find out, they always did. Someone would notice a mark and become suspicious. They would watch closely and make a mental note of every bruise they saw, every red scratch on her body. Then they would share their concerns with friends, but never confront Stephanie herself, just pity her from afar. Rumours would spread throughout the company until someone in her family caught wind of it. They would ask her, she would deny anything was going on, but they wouldn't believe a word of it. And eventually they would see the marks first hand, at which point all hell would break loose.
Stephanie shuddered at the thought of what would happen. Her father was a powerful man, but also hot-heated, especially when it came to his only daughter. She knew that he could do whatever he wanted, because he could buy himself out of any trouble, or was so well connected that nothing would ever be traced back to him. She wouldn't be surprised if he eventually put a bounty on the head of her "wonderful" husband, and by then, she wasn't sure she would even care.
This is my life, Stephanie McMahon Levesque told herself. And no-one, not even my abusive fuck of a husband is going to take it away from me. I'll kill him myself before that happens.