The next few weeks were so strange Stephanie felt as if she was living someone else's life. Overnight she had become one of the most hated people in the company, and the weirdest part was that she didn't care. She kinda liked it. She liked not always having to worry about what people thought of her, or if she might let someone down. Now she was just doing what she wanted to do and it felt great.
After Stephanie's showdown in the ring Vince had left and not come back, leaving Stephanie and Hunter in charge of the entire company. Under Hunter's master plan DX quickly set about making their mark, showing people that things were going to be different from now on. Hunter wanted to make a particular point with Andrew, to show that Stephanie was with him and DX now. At first it was hard for Stephanie, she felt so cruel humiliating him but there was another part of her that enjoyed it, enjoyed making him pay for not having the guts to fight for her in the first place.
But the hardest part for Stephanie wasn't being hated or dealing with her former fiancé, it was having to pretend to be Hunter's wife in front of the whole world. She hoped it would get easier, acting like man and wife but it didn't. Having to be around Hunter all the time and kiss and touch him was so weird when in reality they were little more than strangers. In front of the company and the fans Stephanie acted so over-confident but when she was alone with Hunter it was completely different. She felt so alone on the road, because everyone now either feared or hated her Stephanie had no one to turn to. DX were the only ones who knew the marriage was fake, and often made comments to Stephanie about it. She found it too hard to feel comfortable around them. It was no easier when her and Hunter were alone, they barely spoke unless it was related to business.
It all hit Stephanie when Christmas arrived, it had been a couple of weeks since she turned on Vince and since they had been travelling constantly Stephanie had been able to keep her mind off of the holidays. Stephanie woke up Christmas morning in an unfamiliar setting, it took her a couple of minutes to remember where she was. It was Triple H's house. They'd arrived late the previous night and Steph was so tired she just went straight to bed. She got dressed and made her way downstairs. She looked around the house, all the walls were white and pretty bare, no pictures or paintings. All there was in the living room was huge oversized leather couches and a massive entertainment centre. The kitchen was pristine, it looked as if it had never been used. The refrigerator was practically empty. Stephanie wasn't sure if she was surprised, she guessed it was the typical bachelor pad.
Stephanie wandered further down the hall, a door was ajar so Stephanie went to investigate. This room was a complete contrast to the rest of the house, it was full of photographs, posters, cut-outs, and wrestling memorabilia, there was everything do to with Triple H and DX, all the merchandise. Stephanie wandered around the room in awe of all the wrestling memorabilia, she'd never seen anything like this before not even Vince had a collection like this. Stephanie sat down in the huge leather chair, on the desk was a different collection of photos in frames. One picture was of Hunter, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and X-Pac, it seemed like it was from a few years ago. Then there was one of Hunter winning his first title. Then there were others with people Stephanie didn't recognise, she assumed they were Hunter's family. As she sat there looking around the room she realised she knew absolutely nothing about Hunter.
"Merry Christmas." Called a voice from the doorway. "Well I see you've found your way around."
Stephanie jumped at the sound of Hunter's voice.
"Hey...you scared me." She said.
"Well this is my house so you shouldn't be too surprised." Hunter said throwing his bag down.
Stephanie wasn't sure what too say. He was right this was his house, she felt so uncomfortable like she didn't belong.
"I told you I can stay in a hotel..." she began but Hunter shook his head.
"Don't be ridiculous, how the hell would that look? We're a married couple who don't live together, doesn't exactly corroborate our story now does it." Hunter said walking toward the desk.
There was an awkward silence. Stephanie picked up one of the frames, "Are these your parents?" she asked holding it up toward Hunter who simply nodded. "what are they're names?"
"Paul and Patricia." He said simply. "But I'm sure they wouldn't mind you calling them mom and dad." He added sarcastically.
Stephanie realised these people in the photo, whose names she had just learnt were technically her parents-in-law, and she didn't even know them.
"What do they think about all this?" Stephanie asked. "You know the whole marriage thing? Do they know the truth?"
Hunter took a deep breath, "Kinda, they know its not a real marriage but they don't know the details. Its easier that way."
Stephanie thought he was probably right.
"So is that why you're not going home for the holidays?" Stephanie asked.
Hunter lent against the edge of the desk, "One of many reasons. I need to rest up as much as I can if I'm going to take on the Big Show next week for the title..." Steph nodded, in the end with Hunter it was all about business. "...besides if I did go home, you'd be here all by yourself."
Stephanie looked up at him. He wasn't grinning in his smug way or making one of his snide comments. He seemed to genuinely mean it. Stephanie smiled at him. There was another awkward silence between them.
"I have something for you." Hunter said pulling one of the desk drawers open. He took out a thin package wrapped in Christmas paper. "Here." He said handing it out to her.
Stephanie just stared at it blankly, confused. "What's that?"
"It's a present." Hunter said.
"For me?" she asked still not taking it.
Hunter rolled his eyes, "Yes for you genius that's why I'm giving it to you."
Hunter seemed to be getting angry now, "God you're not the brightest star in the sky are you McMahon. Let me explain how Christmas works; its a very special day where people give other people presents and usually the persons accepts them and doesn't just stare at it like a mental person."
Stephanie frowned at him.
"Look its nothing special ok so just take the damn thing." Hunter yelled.
Finally Stephanie reached out and took the present. She tore paper off and saw what seemed to be a black jewellery box. Slowly she opened the box, revealing inside a beautiful necklace with a pendant diamond. Stephanie was completely stunned.
"Do you like it?" he asked.
Stephanie nodded, "I do...its beautiful." She said truthfully. Then she was suddenly hit by a pang of guilt. "I haven't got you anything!" she said looking up.
Hunter shook his head, "Its fine don't worry about it." He said standing up. "I'm going to go take a shower and then grab us some dinner, ok?"
Stephanie just nodded, still captivated by the beautiful piece of jewellery in front of her. Despite what Hunter had said, it was special.
Two hours later Stephanie made her way into the kitchen, wearing one of the new dresses she had brought and Hunter's Christmas gift. Instead of the usual Christmas feast Hunter had ordered takeaway pizza. Stephanie slid onto the kitchen stool as Hunter entered the room, to which she welcomed him with a broad smile.
"Hey." He said. "I didn't know what you liked so I ordered pepperoni, thought it was a safe choice."
"Yeah that's fine." Stephanie replied.
Hunter set about getting plates and glasses, "I got some wine, although I'm not sure which you're supposed to have with pizza." He said jokingly holding a bottle of white in one hand and red in the other.
Stephanie giggled, "I'm not sure either, although I like red."
"Red it is." Hunter said finally sitting himself opposite Stephanie. He poured two glasses of wine and served up a couple of slices each. Then he raised his glass, "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas." Stephanie replied, their glasses clinking lightly together.
"Although I'm sure this isn't exactly the Christmas meal you usually have at McMahon manor." Hunter teased.
"Not quite." Stephanie said smiling.
"What's it like, a McMahon Christmas? Is it all Christmas carols and eggnog by the fire while daddy Vince regales you all with his brilliance."
Stephanie laughed, "Actually the holidays was always the one time dad would stop, take a break from the company and actually be around." She said warmly. "He'd help us with the tree and the lights like when we were little, and then on Christmas eve we would all be allowed one present and dad would always pick his that was socks! Every year!" she said laughing.
"Do you miss them?" Hunter asked.
"Everyday." Stephanie said honestly. "But a couple of good Christmas memories don't erase all the other stuff that happened. My dad's not a good guy, I've made my piece with that."
Hunter looked at her seriously, "I know this hasn't been easy on you, but it wont be for much longer. Once I've got the title back and the company is completely under our control you'll be free. I keep my promises."
Stephanie smiled, today she had seen a whole other side to Hunter, a side she never knew existed.
"That necklace looks great on you by the way." He said grinning before taking a sip of his wine. And Stephanie couldn't help but blush as he smiled at her.