The end of January brought us to Atlanta, Georgia for the Royal Rumble. Drew was participating in the 30-man battle royal and Maryse and I were in a three-diva tag team match against Mickie James and Maria, as well as Michelle McCool and Layla. Ever since the incident on New Year's Eve, Maria had been avoiding me. I was honestly glad for it, I had nothing to say to her and if she'd approached me, I'd probably get myself into a ton of trouble. Not only did I have a problem with Maria, but I was also having some trouble with my right knee. It'd been hurting off and on since the night of New Years and I figured I'd just twisted it wrong at some point during the night on my heels but the dull ache remained and only felt worse after a lot of activity.
So I'd been wrapping it up for matches and covering the wrappings with kneepads to match my outfits. I was hoping that it wasn't a big problem and it wouldn't hinder me in the ring. I had just finished wrapping up my knee when the door to the Women's lockeroom opened and Maryse walked in, grinning from ear to ear.
"What are you so happy about?" I asked.
"Nothing, I'm just excited for tonight. I always get sort of anxious and excited for pay-per-view events," She said. "Is your knee okay?"
I shrugged a shoulder. "It's alright. I mean I'm sure it'll hurt a little after the match but it hasn't really been bothering me, not too much anyway."
"Are you sure it's going to be okay?" She asked.
"I'm fine," I said, pulling on my kneepads. "It'll be alright."
"Okay," Maryse said skeptically. "I just don't want you to get seriously hurt or anything."
I stood up, bent and stretched my knee a couple of times, smiling at her. "Don't worry about me, girl. I'll be fine."
Maryse grabbed her long ring jacket and threw her arm around my shoulders. "Well, then are you ready for this?"
"Oh most definitely!"
"And the opponents, making their way to the ring the team of Irena Ryland and Maryse!"
Irena and Maryse posed at the top of the stage, heading down the ramp, smirking at their opponents. They hopped onto the apron and ducked into the ring, flipping their hair. Maryse shed her jacket and tossed it to the outside as she and Irena took their side of the ring. The bell sounded and Maryse started off the match against Maria. Maryse slapped Maria across the cheek, taunting her. She grabbed the redhead by the hair and pulled her to her feet, slapping her across the face again. Maria got to her feet again and ducked another blow by Maryse and kicked her in the stomach, shoving her backwards. Maryse went to grab Maria but the redhead ducked and swept Maryse's legs out from under her, going for a pin. Maryse kicked out before the count of two. Maria went to drop an elbow but Maryse rolled out of the way and as she got to her feet, Michelle McCool tagged herself into the match.
Maryse fought with Michelle before the referee directed her out of the ring. Michelle dominated Maria, beating on the more inexperienced diva. She hit her with a couple of quick suplexes and went for a cover but Mickie James came into make the save for her team. Michelle took a swing at Mickie but the former champion ducked out of the way. Maria got to her feet and hit Michelle with a hard forearm smash and quickly went to tag in Mickie. Mickie kicked Michelle in the stomach and whipped her into the turnbuckle. Irena took the opportunity to tag herself into the match. Irena shoved Michelle out of the way and immediately went for Mickie, knocking her down from behind. Irena grabbed Mickie by the hair, pulling her back into a reverse DDT. Irena went for a cover but Mickie kicked out, she hit Irena with a forearm to the side of the head as she got up, following it with a kick to the stomach. Mickie suplexed Irena and floated back into a cover, getting a two count. Mickie picked Irena up and Irish whipped her into a turnbuckle. Mickie ran at her but Irena got her feet up, knocking Mickie back. Irena hit Mickie with a standing dropkick and went for a cover but Michelle jumped in and broke up the pin with a kick. Irena got to her feet, going to attack Michelle but Layla came in and chop-blocked Irena's right knee. Irena cried out as she hit the mat, grabbing her knee. Mickie knocked Michelle out of the ring and went back for Irena who was still holding onto her knee. Mickie pulled Irena up to her feet; Irena balanced her weight on her left foot, not appearing to be able to put any weight on the left one.
"That chop block by Layla really seems to have taken Irena Ryland off her game. It doesn't seem like she's able to put any weight on that right leg at all." Todd Grisham said.
Mickie suplexed Irena over and she grabbed her knee again, groaning. She rolled towards her corner, attempting to tag in Maryse. Layla reached over the ropes and slapped Mickie on the back, tagging herself in. She ran over to Irena, stomping on her knee. Irena cried out, and Layla taunted her. Layla grabbed Irena's right leg but Irena braced herself with her left foot, pushing Layla away with her good leg. Irena pushed herself to her feet and limped to her corner, diving for a tag to Maryse.
I laid on the apron of the ring, clutching my knee. Pain was shooting from my knee down to my ankle. I never imagined that there a simple tweaked knee could hurt this badly. The match was still going on around me but I couldn't concentrate, I felt bad that Maryse had to continue on her own but I couldn't stand on my right leg at all. I felt tears stinging my eyes and couldn't bend my knee. I wanted to be with Drew in that very moment but I knew there was no way that would happen until we were away from the cameras. I tried to tune into anything but the pain in my knee but that proved much more difficult than I thought. I heard the bell sound and the ring announcer bellowed that Michelle McCool and Layla were the winners of the match. The next thing I knew, Maryse's face was in my line of sight, her long hair covering my face so the cameras wouldn't catch us talking.
"Are you okay?" She asked frantically.
"No," I groaned. "My knee. It's killing me."
"Can you stand?"
"Hardly. I need your help."
I inched myself to the edge of the apron, gingerly swinging my legs over the side. Maryse hopped down and threw my arm over her shoulder, helping to support me. We hobbled around the ring, moving slowly towards the entrance ramp. Once we got up the ramp and behind the curtain, away from cameras, Drew was there. Maryse let go of me slowly and he swept me into his arms, holding me gently so I didn't move my leg much.
"Alise are you okay love?" He asked.
"My knee," I groaned, tears falling down my cheeks. "I told you I tweaked it a little on New Years Eve and it's killing me right now. I guess it's worse off than I thought it was."
Drew kissed my temple. "Why didn't you say anything, baby? You should have got it checked out."
"I know but I didn't think it was that bad," I said. "I should have."
"It's okay. Let's got see what they say about it now."
Drew carried me to the trainer's room and sat me down on the bench. After a few minutes of poking and prodding and trying to contain myself from screaming, the trainers advised that I should go to a hospital and get x-rays taken. I wanted to stay until Drew was done with the rumble but he was having none of that. Maryse volunteered to accompany me, and Drew would get in touch with me once he was finished. He carried me down to the divas lockeroom and gathered my bag and helped me out to Maryse's rental car. After making sure I was safely inside, he kissed me and Maryse and I headed off. Once we got to the hospital, Maryse found the closest parking spot she could and helped me out of the car and into the emergency room. Maryse grabbed a wheelchair and instructed me to sit. Grudgingly, I sat in the chair, feeling miserable while filling out all the papers to sign in.
Still in our ring clothes, Maryse and I both felt a little awkward as we sat in the lobby to wait. It seemed like an hour and a half had passed before one of the nurses finally called my name. Maryse rolled me back and the woman smiled pleasantly though looked confused as to the way we were dressed. I explained to her my injury and that the trainers from the arena had sent me for x-rays. It took another twenty minutes or so before I was able to get an x-ray done and by the time I was back in the room waiting for the doctor to come and analyze the results, Drew called.
He hadn't lasted long in the rumble match and was on his way to the hospital to meet us. Just after I hung up with Drew, the doctor entered my room.
"Miss Lahti? I'm Dr. Brennan, I have the results of your x-rays."
Dr. Brennan was a tall, skinny man with red hair. He had an all-business air about him. He put the x-rays up onto the backlit box and turned it on. It didn't look like much to me but he was pointing out exactly what was wrong.
"See here," Dr. Brennan made a circle with his finger around a part of the x-ray of my knee. "That there is your meniscus, and the issues you're having is coming from a tear in that cartilage. That's causing the pain and swelling."
"How in the world does that tear?" I asked.
"It can happen to anyone," Dr. Brennan said. "A tear in the meniscus can happen when there's stress on the knee, when there's a sudden twist or turn that pulls at your knee. Stress on the knee can make that happen. Considering what you do for a living, it's honestly not a surprise. The extent of your injury will require surgery. On average, recovery time for a torn meniscus is about two to four months, but as with anything, each person's recovery time is different."
I deflated, surgery and up to four months out of action? Definitely not what I wanted to hear. I bit my lip to stop from crying and tried to listen as the doctor asked me if I'd be staying in Georgia for surgery. I couldn't think, I couldn't answer, and I just wanted Drew beside me. I informed the doctor that I'd make a decision on where I'd be having surgery and he gave me a temporary knee brace and some crutches. As we were leaving, Drew was arriving. He wrapped me in a hug and kissed my forehead. I wanted out of this hospital as fast as possible. Saying goodbye to Maryse, Drew helped me into the car and headed over to Maryse's to get my bag. On the ride back to the hotel, I filled Drew in on the prognosis from the doctor. Once we got to the hotel, all I wanted to do was lay down and try to get some sleep. I'd have to make some calls tomorrow with the company and arrange to be away for a while. I decided to go up to Canada and have the surgery, that way I'd be close to home and able to stay with either my Father or one of my sisters.
Sleeping that night was harder than I expected. My knee was still swollen and stiff and no matter what way I laid, nothing was comfortable. I didn't feel remotely rested when I woke up in the morning. I was slow moving to get out of bed and make my phone calls to schedule this time off, my surgery, and a flight home. It wasn't as much of a hassle as I thought it was going to be. After all of that, I called my older sister, someone I really needed to talk to.
"Alise! How are you, sweetheart?" She said.
"I'd be a lot better if my knee wasn't swollen to Hades and back." I grumbled.
"What happened?" Kaarina asked.
"I've got a bit of an injury," I sighed. "I tore my meniscus."
"Sweetheart... what's that mean in regular terms?"
"It's some of the cartilage in my knee. It needs surgery," I said. "I'll be out for around two to four months."
"Oh Alise! I'm so sorry sweetheart. What's happening, what are you doing?" Kaarina asked.
"Well, I'm coming home to have surgery. So at least I'll be nearby. I was thinking of maybe staying with Daddy, or something..."
"Oh don't do that. Come stay with Craig and me. We've got the room," Kaarina said. "Daddy will smother you to death sweetie. I know he means well but goodness you'll go insane by the time you're ready to come back."
I laughed softly and Drew stirred in the bed behind me. "Are you sure? I don't want to invade on you."
"Alise. You're my sister. You're not invading, especially if I invite you."
"Thank you," I sighed. "My surgery is scheduled for Thursday in Montreal. I'm hoping that Drew will be able to be there before I go into surgery."
"I'm sure he will," Kaarina said. "I'll get the guest room all set up for you, sweetheart. Do you want me to go to your place and grab some clothes for you?"
"That would be great, Kaarina." I said.
"I'll do that today, then. When are you coming home?" She asked.
"I'm catching a flight today. I'll be there in the evening." I said.
"Okay, well text me the details of your flight and Craig and I will be there to pick you up."
"Thank you, Kaarina. I really appreciate it."
"No need to thank me, little sister. I'll let you go and I'll see you later today, okay?"
"Okay. See you later."
I signed off with Kaarina and tossed my phone over onto the chair where my purse was. I heard Drew yawn behind me and turned, smiling weakly at him.
"Morning." I said.
"Good morning," He sat up and kissed my cheek. "How are you feeling?"
"Miserable," I frowned. "I didn't sleep very well."
"I'm sorry love," He kissed me again, wrapping his arms around me. "I'm so sorry you got injured."
"I should have said something when it started hurting. It's my fault."
"It's no one's fault, Alise. It could have happened to anyone at any time," Drew said. "You'll be back in action before you know it."
I leaned back into Drew, sighing. "Do you think you'll be able to come to Montreal on Thursday?"
"Yes," He said. "Thursday is my off day."
"Okay, I'm glad. Thursday is the day of my surgery." I said.
Drew kissed my cheek. "I will be there. I promise."
Thursday had come before I knew it. I'd spent a couple of days being miserable and not able to sleep well in my sister's guestroom. Hospitals made me nervous, being prepped for surgery made me ever more nervous. I was happy that Drew and my family were there. I didn't want to leave them but I was being taken back for surgery before I knew it. I was groggy from the anesthesia after the operation but I couldn't feel much thanks to the pain medicine. When I woke up, I saw Drew in the room, sitting on a chair near the bed. He looked over as he heard me stirring and smiled, pulling his chair closer.
"The doctor said everything went well. You'll be back on your feet before you know it love." He said.
I yawned. "Good. Where is everyone?"
"Josey and Haven went to take the baby home," Drew said. "Kaarina, Craig, and your Dad are downstairs but should be back in a minute."
I nodded, and Drew leaned over, kissing my forehead. "How are you doing?"
"Okay. Groggy, but it doesn't hurt right now," I said. "I'm sure it will kick in sometime later though."
"Don't think of it that way, love," Drew said. "Alise... I want to talk to you about something."
I raised an eyebrow. "What's that, baby?"
Drew was quiet for a moment, then took a deep breath, taking my hand. "You remember when we first me... and we were told to find some... chemistry between the two of us?"
"Yes," I smiled. "I can't forget that."
"I think we've done quite well on finding the right type of chemistry. Alise, I love you, and you're the most amazing woman I've ever met. I wish that I had done this earlier, but now that you're going to be away from me for so long... it really set in for me that I don't want to be without you... ever," Drew said, and took another deep breath. "Alise, I love you so much... and I would love it if you did me the honor of being my wife."
I froze. I stared at Drew, looking at me patiently, but expectantly, waiting for an answer. I felt my stomach fall into my toes. Marriage was a sensitive subject for me and as sweet of a gesture it was for him to propose to me after such an ordeal that I'd been through... it scared me. I didn't want to get married. I wanted to be with Drew, but marriage at this point, I hadn't even thought was on the horizon for us. I blinked and licked my lips, noticing now that at some point during the time Drew was talking, a ring had appeared between his fingers. It was silver with a pear shaped blue sapphire in the center that was surrounded by little diamonds. It was beautiful, but that little ring scared me to death.
"Drew," I said softly, my throat feeling dry. "I... I... this is really sudden."
"I know it seems that way," He said softly. "And I know that you have your reservations on the subject but, I truly and honestly don't want to be without you. I look at the scope of my life and it doesn't seem right without you in it."
"Drew..." I paused, swallowing hard. "I can't. I can't do that to you. I love you so much and I'm sorry but I can't. Not the way I am now. I can't. I love you and I don't want to hurt you but I just can't do that, I'm not ready. I'm sorry."
I watched his shoulders sag, I felt horrible inside. I loved Drew but I wasn't ready for that. It just wasn't the right time for me. He squeezed my hand, and leaned over, kissing my forehead. I reached up, touching his cheek.
"I'm sorry, Drew. Please don't be upset with me," I said, sniffling. "I know that's not what you want to hear... but I have to be honest with you. I'm not ready for that..."
"It's okay, love..."
"It's not okay, Drew! I want to be able to be there, I want to be able to say I'd marry you in a heartbeat but I can't," I cried. "Because I'm stupid and damaged..."
"Alise stop!" Drew said firmly. "There is nothing wrong with you. I understand your answer, I do. I'm not upset with you, I promise. But I had to try, I'd kept you waiting long enough before and I couldn't just keep to myself the fact that I want to be with you forever. I couldn't keep that from you. I'm sorry if I upset you or frightened you with all this."
"My goodness, Drew. What in the world did I do to deserve an amazing man like you," I wiped my face. "How do you put up with me?"
"Because I love you," He smiled. "You haven't offended me, you haven't upset me. I still love you and I'll wait for you for as long as you want me around."
I smiled. "I love you, Drew."
I said goodbye to Drew at the hospital because he had to catch a flight to New York to catch up with the rest of the roster. The day after surgery the doctors gave me a brace for my knee and told me I could try to walk. Rehabilitation was going to take a couple of months and wasn't going to be easy, but I had to if I wanted to get back in the ring again. Once I was out of the hospital and back at my sister's house, I was able to give some thought to the situation with Drew, something I needed serious advice on.
I'd called Josey, asking her to come over so I could talk to both of my sisters at once. Hopefully, they'd be able to help me make sense of all this.
"So, Alise. What's going on?" Josey asked.
"After my operation... when everyone was gone... Drew... he asked me to marry him." I said softly.
"You're kidding!" Kaarina gasped.
"No. He really did."
"Well! What did you say? Where is the ring?" Josey said.
"I said no, Josey." I said softly.
"You said no! Alise, why?" Kaarina asked.
"I just can't," I shook my head. "I'm not ready for that."
"Wait, wait, first, go back. What did he say? Why so suddenly?" Kaarina asked.
"He said... that looking at the whole scope of his life, it didn't feel right to him without me in it. He said that he didn't want to be without me, and that he wished he'd done it sooner." I said. "Kaarina I haven't even remotely though of marriage since Jack. I didn't think Drew and I were even at that point. It scares me, still. I can't."
"Alise, sweetheart. I know that you're still weary, but you can't go on holding onto that fear. Drew loves you and he wants to marry you. He wants to be with you forever! You can't continue to be afraid of that." Josey said.
"I know that, but who says you have to be married to be with someone forever?" I countered.
"I understand, but does it hurt any less if something were to happen to him even if you weren't married? Where's the big difference, Alise?" Kaarina said.
"The difference is me! I understand what you're saying but I don't work that way," I exclaimed. "I'm horrified of that..."
"Alise you've come this far in healing that you've opened your heart and you've let Drew in. You've fallen in love with him and he with you. He wants to keep you," Kaarina said. "You two just work together. Something about the pair of you just makes sense."
"Plus, don't you think your relationship will be a little different now? Considering you said no."
"Josey! Don't say that to her!" Kaarina scolded.
"Why not? One of us has to," Josey said. "We have to look at all the logical scenarios. There's a possibility that things could be different."
I shook my head. "Don't, Josey. I already feel bad enough that I said no to begin with. I love him, I really do but I just can't make that level of commitment right now. I'm not saying never and I'm not saying it won't be Drew, but I'm saying I can't right now. He understands that."
"Are you sure?" Josey asked.
"Josephine stop! Stop making things up like that! You know how Alise is!" Kaarina said.
"What do you mean you know how I am?" I asked, frowning.
"Alise, honey, you tend to blow things out of proportion like that. Josey says something that makes you feel doubtful and you run with it," Kaarina said. "I don't want you to do this with him. You've got something really good here and even if you don't like the idea of getting married right now, at least you're not striking it out of the equation completely."
"Drew understands. He said he would wait for as long as I wanted him," I said, sighing. "But what... what if he gets sick of waiting on me?"
Kaarina threw her hands up. "See! That's what I mean! You can't doubt yourself! If Drew loves you and wants to wait for you then you just have to believe in that! Once you start getting all these crazy ideas Alise you'll do something stupid. I don't want you to do that."
"I'll do something stupid? What are you trying to say!" I gaped.
"She means you'll do something rash or something," Josey put in. "Like, break up with him."
"Why would I break up with Drew! I love him." I said.
"You love him, we know. But you think he won't wait," Kaarina said. "You've just got to have faith that he will."
I stayed silent for a long stretch and finally my sisters both hugged me and left the room for me to think. I loved Drew dearly, but I also couldn't help but admit how right Josey was. Even if I didn't want to admit it, no one knew me better than my sisters. I didn't want them to be right, I really didn't, but fear is hard to overcome. And the fear that I was feeling over this situation had my mind going a thousand miles a minute. I didn't want to prove Josey right, but I was scared and to a point, she was right about me, and old habits were hard to break.
Sort of a surprising ending, eh? Well, have no fear if it seems a little strange. There is most certainly going to be a sequel. I've started working on it and it will certainly be tying up loose ends. I promise! The sequel will be called Burned, so keep an eye out for it. Thank you all so much for reading and reviewing! I appreciate all of your feedback! :D