Hunter was feeling much better and was now determined more than ever to sit down with his wife and get things out in the open. The problem is, Stephanie wasn't answering her phone. He even went back to her hotel room but according to the clerk she had already checked out for the day. As Hunter sat in his truck outside the hotel he racked his brain trying to figure out where she could be. He didn't want to cause any trouble so he avoided calling Linda and Vince. Instead, he just left her a voicemail telling her where he'd be if she wished to talk. She had a Smackdown taping to be at so they would be separated for the next couple of days on the road. He just hoped he could catch her before then. He was really starting to worry that his marriage was done for and that's the last thing he wanted.
Stephanie was purposely ignoring Hunter's phone calls. It wasn't that she didn't wish to see him; it was that she needed to get some things figured out first before she went back to Hunter. Right now she wanted nothing more than to make her marriage work but there were two things stopping her from caring right now: Stacy and Eric. Stacy meant more to Hunter than he was letting on and nothing about her marriage was going to work until Hunter owned up to his feelings for her. Only then would Stephanie take him seriously again.
On the other hand, Stephanie was fighting an attraction of her own. She wasn't sure how or why it happened but she could not get Eric out of her mind. It was so bad that Stephanie found herself sitting on a commercial flight headed toward Eric's hometown. This is crazy she thought. Crazy but she couldn't help it. Eric was starting to be a little more open about his life but Stephanie couldn't shake the feeling that he was hiding something from her. She started to ask her dad but he would only be too happy to divulge such info since he was hell bent on separating her from Hunter. Part of the reason why Stephanie always fought hard for her marriage was because she knew how much her dad still hated Hunter. It was such a childish thing to do but at the end of the day she still could at least admit to loving Hunter. She glanced down at her phone and saw that Hunter had left her a voicemail. I'm sorry love but I'll check it later. Right now I have to figure some things out…
Eric had been on the phone all day with lawyers trying to find a good one to represent him. Apparently he didn't have much of a choice left in the matter concerning his ex. He was going to have the DNA tests done, which Vince was already kindly taking care of it. In the meantime, he supposed all he could do was wait to see what she did next. If the children both turned out to be his then he would have to attempt the 'father thing' even though he had no idea how to act around kids. Plus by now, Enrique was probably in his early twenties which meant he would be hard to handle. He hated Lifetime movies but would always find himself watching a few when he was jobless. One thing they all seemed to point out was that kids growing up without both parents usually suffered from abandonment issues. Problem was, Eric never abandoned his kid (or kids). Like he told Vince, he never got to see them and in all honesty had no idea if any of them were his anyway.
Eric put away his phone book and left the kitchen. His home, though small compared to most in his profession, was his favorite place to seek refuge. It was a one-story brick house with a huge porch. He loved his old fashioned rocking chairs; he had four white ones sitting on his porch. On both ends of the porch were wooden swings. He never really used them but he thought they would be nice to have just in case. He found swings to be romantic and had hoped to be swinging in one with the love of his life in wrapped in his arms.
Eric shook the thought as he closed his front door. He switched on a lamp and realized that his living room was in desperate need of some cleaning. There were beer cans littered about the floor near his recliner while newspapers covered his beautiful oak coffee table. His end tables were in desperate need of dusting while books needed to be shelved. His kitchen wasn't nearly as bad since he never cooked but he was sure there were dishes in the dishwasher as well as beer cans all over it too. What the hell? I live alone so I'll clean tomorrow.
Eric skipped past his kitchen heading straight for his bathroom to get a shower. He was sure he was in there an hour but the water felt so good to his tense body that he couldn't help it. He dried himself opting only for some boxers and his robe. He was about to call it an early night when he heard his doorbell ring. Eric frowned. No one ever visits me. Then he laughed. Maybe it's my ex wife. Wouldn't that me something? "Coming," he mumbled. He was in no mood for visitors but whatever. He quickly opened the door only to find the last person he expected standing before him and with bags no less. "Stephanie?"
She bit her lips nervously while fidgeting with her bracelet. "I'm sorry Eric but…I needed to see you. I can't…be with Hunter right now. I'm so confused and I…You're the only person I could turn to."
"I…" He sighed. He could never ever turn her away but damn if she was making things difficult for him. "I'm assuming Hunter has no idea where you are." She shook her head. "And when he finds out you're staying with me…?" She shrugged. "Princess, you know I'd never turn you away—
"Then let me stay," she pleaded, her big beautiful eyes filling with tears. "I can't stand to be around him right now Eric – at least not until I am ready to talk with him about Stacy." She was crying again and Eric knew turning her away was definitely not an option now. He was a sucker for crying women, especially this one. He grabbed the bags out of her hand and led her into the house. "It's a mess but forgive me. I'm a lonely, old bastard bachelor so it's kind of befitting me."
She didn't say anything. She merely nodded as he led her through the house to his one and only guest room which was not so surprisingly neat considering it had never been used before. A huge queen sized bed was centered in the room adorned with black and white linen. There were two small nightstands and a large dresser with a mirror across from the bed. The walls were pretty blank for the most part with the exception of an old painting of some sort. "You can sleep here. I'll probably turn in early tonight but you know if you need anything you can come get me. My room's down the hall. Last door on the right. The door on the left has towels, washcloths and anything else you might need. I'm going to the porch so you can get settled in."
Eric didn't have to wait long before Stephanie emerged from the room. Eric didn't know how long he had been sitting on the porch but apparently it was longer than he thought since Stephanie looked as if she just got out of the shower. She smiled weakly as she came out on the porch taking a seat next to him in his swing. "Thanks for allowing me to stay Eric. You have no idea what it means to me."
"You know I could never turn you away," he chuckled, not bothering to look her way for fear of speculating about what was underneath her robe.
"I don't know Eric. In a way I wish you would have made me go. I can't keep running away from my problems. Even I know this and yet here I am…"
"Well…sometimes it's better to run away – at least for a while. If you're like me, it takes a little time to build up that courage needed to stand your ground. Why do you think it took me so long to even think about the business again?"
"But you always appeared so cool and full of yourself on screen."
"It's easy to do that when you have so much power," he chuckled. "I was kicking billionaire Vince's ass each week and I had Hulk Hogan at my grasp, the biggest superstar ever. It wasn't very hard to appear over confident. But as you can see, it was all just an act."
"Maybe so but even now you're still more confident than me…rushing out here to take on your ex all by yourself."
Eric quickly turned his head. "How do you know…?"
"My dad told me but not because he volunteered the info," she answered quickly. "I sort of…tricked him into giving me the info."
"But why?" he snapped. "It was none of your business!"
"I'm…sorry Eric but I needed to find you," she huffed. "Don't you understand? I can't…be alone right now!"
"Yeah well that's not my problem Step." Eric suddenly stood to his feet and hurried into the house. "Why can't she mind her own damn business?"
He heard the door shut behind him. "I heard that!" she screamed. "And for your information, I can't help it because I care!"
Eric suddenly spun around rolling his eyes. "Stop…caring Steph," he growled.
"Don't call me Steph! Hunter calls me that," she snapped.
"Fine. Princess…you need to get grip. I don't want or need you in my business. I can take care of things on my own."
"I can see you're doing a hell of a job too," she grumbled looking around the filthy living room.
"Look woman, I don't have time to argue anymore. You're welcome to stay here as long as you like but stay out of my business alright? You don't see me trying to get in you and Hunter's business."
"Unfortunately for you, you're already in the middle of it."
Eric only laughed as he started back towards his room. "I wouldn't dream of getting in the middle. I've done nothing so don't try to shove your marriage problems on me." He turned the corner into his room but Stephanie was right behind him.
"You did nothing?"
"That's right," he said smugly. "I go to work and you come to me complaining. I listen. That's ALL I do."
"That and try to kiss me all the time," she shot back.
"I do…alright. Fine. I've tried to kiss you – twice – but it wasn't nothing to get worked up about. Besides, you're the one who's always doing stuff – like now – and it drives me crazy!"
"Well I'm sorry that I'm an attractive woman!" she screamed. "If it makes you feel any better I wish you were unattractive!" She turned her back to him, attempting to stop the tears from streaming down her face.
"I'm…wait…wha…what did you say?" he asked frowning. When she didn't answer, he closed the gap between them. "Princess?" He placed his hands on her shoulders turning her around slowly. She was crying and oh how he hated it. He sighed. "Princess, stop crying. I didn't…I didn't mean to yell at you. I just…"
"It's not like I want to care Eric. I don't want to care because I want to care about my marriage."
"Then go home," he encouraged. "Go home and make yourself care." I know what she's on about but I can't let her know…She needs to save her marriage…
She shook her head. "I tried to go home Eric but I ended up here…I…I needed to be around you."
"Why? I'm an overbearing, ego maniac who's old enough to be your father."
"I know that but like it or not, I want to be here…with you."
"Stephanie…no. Don't…do you even know what you're saying?" he asked. "This is…are you hearing yourself right now? No one in their right mind would want to be here with me."
She's lost it…
"Why?" she screamed. "Why is it so hard for you to believe that someone actually likes being around you? What? Your wife treated you that bad to the point where you don't think you're likeable anymore?"
"None of your business."
"Answer me!" she screamed.
"No! I don't know! God…" He ran a hand through his hair. "I can't…deal with this right now."
"Well I can't deal with my marriage until I deal with you."
"What do you want from me!" he snapped. "What the hell do you want from me?! I can't save your marriage for you Stephanie! If anything, I'm the last person you should be seeking help from."
"I don't need your help Eric!" she choked.
"Then what is it?! Tell me what you want from me!"
"Nothing, I just—
"What? Want to give me a headache?" he accused. "Piss me off for yelling at you? Make my life a living hell all because you teased me into curiosity?"
"I'll admit it. I have often thought about tasting those plump lips of yours among other things but it's mainly out of frustration Princess. I'm not intentionally flirting – okay. So maybe I am but you know I mean well." He grabbed her hands, giving them a gentle squeeze. "Look princess, don't take my actions to heart because you know I'd never cross that line. Your father…well scratch that. Your father finds this all amusing but your husband would kill me! I…even if I wanted to know what it felt like, I cannot go there and neither should you want me to."
"But what if I don't care anymore Eric!" she cried. "I…I need to know what I'm feeling. Kiss me and make a believer out of me. Kiss me so I'll know it's all in my head."
"You have to Eric! If you don't then I'm going to be left wondering what if. That is why I can't face Hunter! I can't go home to him until I figure out what it is I feel for you."
"Let me help you out. Princess, I have no feelings towards you whatsoever—
"Then prove it!"
"If you don't kiss me Eric then you will never get rid of me. You really don't understand. I'm fighting with feelings here that I don't understand and your refusal to take a chance is going to ruin me."
"I'm not ruining your marriage. You are doing it on your own and no, I will not give in to your little ultimatum so you're stuck here until Smackdown."
"So be it then, but Eric. Something's there. I know you feel it too only you're much better at hiding your feelings than I am. But that's fine. I don't want to kiss you anyway. It's more of a need to satisfy something we both started the night we slept together. I'll let it go but at least now you know why I'm here. I'm here because I'm attracted to you and I want to help you. I'm afraid I don't love Hunter anymore and it's because I have confusing feelings about you. Goodnight Eric. Why don't you sleep on that?" she cried before hurrying out of the room.
AN: Not much more longer to go on this fic. Almost done. About a three or so chapters should do it. Thanks for being patient.