DISCLAIMER: As much as it breaks my heart to admit it, I do not own anyone or anything connected to Vince McMahon and his awesomeness. I can only claim property rights of OC.
***A/N – Here is a brand new fiction for your reading pleasure. "Education" is a work of art brought to you SoCalStar529 and myself (Go Team Purple Goddess *L* ). It's our first adventure together but we hope you enjoy this tale of love and adventure on the bayou. And don't forget to tell us what you think!***
Damn them all. It wasn't supposed to be like this. This wasn't the semi-tropical paradise he'd been promised. This was hell. It had to be. The heat wrapped around him, closing in from all sides. He felt the wet humidity pressing against his lungs, stealing his breath. Surely this was some forgotten corner of Dante's Inferno. No place on Earth could be this fucking miserable. Randy Orton stood quietly as he surveyed his surroundings through dark colored Ray-Ban Aviators. The sky was gray and heavy with the threat of rain. A few sparse trees dotted the edge of the runway. The worn concrete runways blended into the sky creating a blanket of sameness. He could scarcely tell the difference between earth and sky. Shaking his head, slowly he moved toward the black Lincoln Town Car. A sharply dressed driver greeted him with a smile. Randy glanced at the young man who was probably no more than about 20 years old. He was thin and tanned. The only thing that kept him from being completely nondescript was the fine cut of his expensive suit.
"Welcome to N'awlins, sir."
Randy grunted softly as he rolled his luggage to a stop. He left the baggage at the trunk then slid into the car's cool dark interior. Instantly he felt relief. The air conditioning blasted him, making his shirt cling damply to his skin. He felt as if he'd been rolled in honey then set out in the sun. It was a feeling he was never going to learn to like. He pulled a bottle of water from the small fridge then settled back into the plush leather seat. He downed half the bottle before placing it in a cup holder. Glancing at his watch he realized he would have to go straight to the first production meeting. The thunderstorm rolling through St. Louis had delayed him longer than expected. Now he barely had enough time to make it across the city.
The city passed as Randy stared out of the darkened windows. What he saw did not impress him. There was a gritty, urban feel to the city. Some of the buildings looked as if they were barely able to stand under the weight of graffiti. How they didn't collapse onto each other was a mystery. As they drove deeper into heart of the city, the geography didn't change much. On the right side of the interstate he saw the home of the New Orleans Saints. In its day the Super Dome had been a remarkable structure. Since Hurricane Katrina the Dome's history had a black spot that wouldn't go away. Nobody could look at the thirteen acre structure and not feel a wave of emotion. Just looking at the building made Randy shudder. He couldn't allow himself to think like that. Being stuck in this God-forsaken hell hole was bad enough. He had to focus on getting the movie finished. Once that was accomplished he could go back to his life. Randy shook his head as the limo slowed to a stop in front of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel.
The green exterior blended into the surrounding buildings. From the outside it didn't look that impressive. He hoped the interior would be more to his liking. The driver quickly opened the door and moved aside. He waited until Randy stepped onto the sidewalk before closing the door.
"You're sure this is it?" Randy asked as he looked at the building.
"Yes, sir. One of the finest hotels in all of N'awlins."
Randy winced at the man's accent. He hated the way the natives spoke. Every syllable was drawn out as long as possible. They spoke as if they had all day to hold a conversation. Grinding his teeth, Randy moved toward the entry. At least the air conditioning works Randy thought as he stepped into the cool lobby. He slowly pulled his sunglasses off as he looked around. He felt as if he had stepped back in time. A wall of high arched windows allowed in the early afternoon sunshine. The walls were painted a light yellow color. Four huge columns lined the center of the room, dividing the area into smaller spaces. The furniture was grouped into small settings. Although the upholstery was new, Randy was pretty sure the pieces were original to the place. He figured the owners probably never threw anything way. They probably had a million ways to reuse every single item until all the life had been sucked out of it.
Slowly Randy crossed the lobby. He felt as if the walls were closing in. Before he had made it to the Check In desk he was stopped.
Randy turned slightly to see Renny Harlin standing in the doorway. Forcing a slight smile Randy watched him cross the room. He offered his hand in greeting as Renny stopped. The blonde man had made a name for himself in the film industry. He directed several major films before agreeing to work for WWE Studios. He was the mastermind behind the unbelievably successful 12 Rounds. Vince McMahon had been ecstatic to have him back on the payroll. The man was a visionary of untold proportions. Randy only hoped their project would blow 12 Rounds away. He wanted their movie to be the standout. No matter what he would ensure they had nothing less than perfection.
"Nice to see you again." Randy said.
Renny smiled and accepted the greeting. The last time they saw each other had been just over two weeks ago. Renny remained on site in California ensuring that they were ready to start filming as soon as they landed in New Orleans. Only three months remained in their contract. The rough cut of the film had to be delivered to post-production by the end of October. Vince was dead set against taking one minute longer than necessary. Truth be told, Randy wasn't looking forward to staying in the great state of Louisiana any longer than he had to. He wanted to get back to his comfortable life back in St. Louis.
Renny glanced at his watch then looked at Randy. He thought the younger man looked tired. Considering the grueling schedule they were forced to keep it was not a surprise. The next three months would be a test. He knew that with hard work and dedication they would deliver an excellent film. Most importantly they would deliver it on time. They had to. Vince was very specific that the film had to debut on time. No excuses. It was a challenge Renny was willing to meet head on.
"Do you have plans for dinner?" Renny asked.
Randy shook his head slowly. All he wanted was a comfortable bed with cool, crisp sheets. They were scheduled to start filming bright and early the next morning.
"We will have dinner together then. Bailey won't be able to attend the meeting but asked to meet afterward. She is looking forward to meeting everyone."
Randy frowned in confusion. He vaguely remembered hearing the name before. He couldn't exactly attach a face with the name. With a slight shrug Randy glanced at Renny.
Renny smiled as he looked at his watch again. "It's time for the meeting."
Randy slowly followed Renny into the conference room. Nearly every chair in the 300 seat room was filled. Almost every person associated with the film was gathered. They would have the chance to meet all of the important people working on the film. Heaving a heavy sigh Randy sat at the conference table at the front of the room. From his position he could see the entire room. The sea of faces blended into a sort of fuzzy haze. He only half listened as Renny introduced himself and began his speech. He forced a cooperative look on his face as Renny introduced the stars of the film. It wasn't until Nina Dobrev stood and waved to the room that Randy snapped to attention. He'd only met Nina in passing but damn that girl was fine. He studied her with a critical eye. Although she was young she had an air of worldly sophistication about her. Her dark hair was swept back from her face. Dark brown eyes briefly met his then looked away. Randy's gaze moved lower. The dark pink cotton dress hugged Nina's curves, showing off her hourglass figure. Randy felt a small tug at his lips. He finally found the one thing that would make the next three months bearable. Nina was one hell of a looker.
The next hour and forty-five minutes dragged by at a snail's pace. Randy halfheartedly listened. It took all of his will power not to stare at the dark haired beauty at the end of the table. He tried to pretend to be interested but his attention was focused on the clock at the far end of the room. Every movement of the hands seemed incredibly slow. He heaved a sigh of relief as Renny waved to the gathered crowd and stepped away from the podium. Randy wasn't sure how much longer he would have been able to endure the torture. He was ready to go to his room and decompress. It was the only way he would be able to face what was coming in the next few hours.
Bailey White stepped from her car and pressed the remote lock. She moved to the back of the car and quickly removed her black Madison Avenue briefcase tote. She took a moment to admire the understated beauty of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. It was one of her favorite places in the French Quarter. Like most buildings in the Quarter the hotel's history was colorful. The original building was constructed in 1817. During its illustrious history it had served as both a hotel and later a convent for the Sisters of the Holy Family. Now it maintained the top spot as one of the most luxurious hotels in New Orleans.
Stepping into the hotel Bailey smiled. The lobby had been repainted since her list visit. The light yellow walls made the space seem even bigger. The first group of winged backed chairs she passed sported new upholstery. She would have to remember to tell Renois Delacroix the improvements were impressive. Renois served as the hotel historian for the better part of the last decade. Their paths often crossed as Bailey researched her projects. She counted the small Frenchman as both a friend and an ally. Pausing outside of the open French doors, Bailey peered into the restaurant. The room was almost filled. From first glance it appeared the room was occupied by a mix of locals and visitors. Her green eyes moved slowly around the room. Here too she noticed the small changes. The portrait over the fireplace had been cleaned. It was now flanked by two smaller pieces. Bailey smiled in appreciation as she continued scanning the room.
Renny looked up from his wine glass just in time to see Bailey step fully into the dining room. She watched as he gracefully crossed the room. He smiled and reached to clasp her hand in his.
"How nice to see you again, my dear. You are looking splendid as always."
Bailey blushed as Renny's penetrating gaze moved over her. He was always a perfect gentleman. No matter how often they saw each other, he always made it a point to tell her she looked "splendid." She was beginning to think Renny might be developing cataracts.
"I'm sorry I didn't make it to the meeting. It took longer than I expected to get the permits signed."
Renny waved a hand in dismissal. As long as Bailey had actually gotten the permits signed nothing else mattered. With the appropriate signatures in place they would indeed begin filming tomorrow. Lady Luck was smiling on him. He hoped she would continue to shine her good favor on them. He led her across the room to the largest table. Bailey nervously smoothed a hand over her blouse. She hoped she didn't look as rumpled as she felt. She had been in such a rush to make it back into the city that she dared not take the time to go home and change. There simply wasn't enough time. She felt bad enough for missing the meeting. She didn't want to lower her standing by arriving late to dinner. One bad mark on her record was all she needed. She smiled in thanks as Renny held her chair for her. She sat down and set her tote on the floor at her feet. Renny returned to his seat at the head of the table. He studied each person in turn as he waited for them to fall silent. In less than a minute he had everyone's undivided attention.
"Now that we are all here, let me once again welcome you to beautiful New Orleans. I hope you will enjoy the delights of this unique city. I'd like you all to meet one of the most important members on the production staff." Renny turned slightly toward her and smiled. "This is Bailey White. She will serve as our Technical Adviser. She knows everything you could possibly want to know about the city and its citizens. I hope you will find her every bit as charming as I do."
Bailey smiled as she looked around the table. Nina Dobrev smiled warmly and wiggled her fingers in greeting. Nina portrayed Elena Gilbert in The Vampire Diaries series. She was just as beautiful in person. Gary Sinise, of Forrest Gump fame, nodded in greeting. Bailey glanced at the man seated at the far end of the table. When it came down to it, she knew very little about him except his name. Randy Orton. His portfolio gave her very little information other than his stats. What it didn't tell her was how attractive he was. She studied him for a long moment before deciding he was probably the hottest man she'd seen in forever. His rugged good looks were a perfect match for his movie role. He was dressed in dark slacks and a blue button down shirt. The fitted material did little to hide the incredible physique beneath. Everything about him spoke of the fact that he was accustomed to the finer things in life. Bailey would have been able to tell that even if he hadn't pulled up his sleeve to glance at his Cartier watch.
Randy glanced up as Gary loudly cleared his throat. It was just after 7:30 and the mysterious Ms. White had finally decided to grace them with her presence. He looked down the length of the table and shook his head slowly. The petite woman sitting next to Renny was nothing like he imagined. She was a tiny thing. Randy guessed that without the three inch heels she would barely come up to his shoulder. That would make her somewhere around five-foot-five. She was dressed in a gray pinstriped skirt and white blouse. Her pale blonde hair was pulled back and pinned up in an elaborate knot. From his seat at the end of the table he couldn't tell what color her eyes were. Not that it would really matter; they were probably just as ordinary as the rest of her. He shook his head slowly as he returned his attention to his watch.
Bailey felt a flutter of nervousness. Randy's shrewd eyes stared hard at her for a long moment then flicked away. Biting back a sigh, Bailey knew exactly what had happened. He had taken one look at her petite stature and quickly dismissed her. It was a feeling she should have been used to. People often overlooked her or completely ignored her. It wasn't her fault that she took after her mother's side of the family. She did the best with what God had given her. Sitting straight in her chair Bailey forced an easy smile.
"Thank y'all so much for giving me the opportunity to work with you. I hope y'all will think of me as friend. I'm here to help you with whatever you need. If you have any questions or problems, I'm your girl."
Randy sighed heavily as he fought the urge to roll his eyes. Her voice, like the rest of her, was almost lost in the clamor of the room. Every time she said "y'all" Randy had to fight the urge to cringe. He understood that people from Louisiana were generally laid back but there was something about their inability to speak properly that drove him bonkers. He prayed that when he returned to St. Louis he would be able to forget how much he hated this hell hole. Thank God it was only a matter of time.
***A/N - I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. Please review!***