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Chapter 16…

"Okay, we have two jack and cokes and a water," the waitress smiled setting the drinks down.

Randy and Adam both looked at Hunter and he glared, "Both of you keep your mouths shut."

Randy laughed, "Remind me never to get married."

"Remind me not to get married again," Adam smirked.

"Hey, there's no reason to condemn marriage because you idiots don't know how to have normal, healthy relationships," Hunter half joked.

"He does have a point," Adam tapped his glass against Hunter's water bottle before taking a sip. "Orton, I think you've got a fan over there."

Randy followed his friend's gaze and spotted a group of women standing at the bar. One of them, a blonde had her eyes locked on him. She was wearing a short, skin tight green dress. She was on the shorter side, probably about 5'6" in the heels she was wearing. She had a fantastic body and, as best he could tell from the distance, a nice face. He nodded to her and she smiled a broad, white smile, raising her hand in a small wave.

"Over/Under on how long it takes her to come over here, 30 seconds" Adam looked over at Hunter.

Hunter held up his arm, looking at his watch, "I'm taking the under."

Randy laughed, shaking his head. He downed more of his drink and signaled for the waitress to come over when she had a chance. He was getting a little hungry.

"And the under's coming in," Hunter laughed.

Randy looked up and saw the blonde coming toward their table.

"Hi," she smiled, looking a little nervous. "I'm Ariel. I'm a big fan."

"Nice to meet you Ariel," he smiled.

"My friends and I can't get a table, we didn't expect this place to be so packed," she smiled. "I was wondering if maybe we could join you guys."

Adam shrugged, Hunter looked apprehensive.

"Sure, why not," Randy shrugged. "I'll get you ladies some chairs."

"Have I told you lately that you are my favorite person ever?" Andy asked.


Emerson laughed, looking up from her sketch pad. Andy was curled up in a ball at the foot of Emerson's bed still in her hoodie and sweat pants, using a balled up sheet as a pillow. She had her eyes closed and her hood on, her makeup was smeared and she was still wearing one of her shoes. Emerson wasn't going to mess with her. She'd been racked with a terrible migraine all day and when she was in that kind of pain, when she was finally able to be comfortable, Emerson wanted to make sure she stayed that way.

"And why am I your favorite person today?" she asked.

"That soup you got me was amazing," Andy said. "You always know what makes me feel better."

Emerson frowned, confused, "What?"

"Come on, Emme, I would have known even if that kid hadn't told me it was from you," Andy said. "Soup, 7-Up, and pretzels? You know my comfort foods."

Emerson was glad that Andy's eyes were closed so she couldn't see the look on Emerson's face. Andy was right about one thing, Emerson knew her favorite things to eat when she was sick but she obviously wasn't the only one. She smiled, shaking her head. She didn't have irrefutable evidence but she just knew that Phil was behind this. She wasn't going to out him yet though. They would have a discussion about this later.

"So where's Randy tonight? Why am I the one taking care of your sickly ass?" Emerson teased.

"He went out with Hunter and Adam," Andy asked, wincing as she adjusted her makeshift pillow. "I told him I was fine."

"And he believed you?" Emerson raised an eyebrow.

Andy shrugged, "I'm a good actress when I wanna be."

Emerson frowned again. Andy was good at hiding her pain sometimes but she'd obviously been in a bad way all day. She didn't like that Randy hadn't insisted on staying with her. She was about to express her opinion when she realized that Andy had fallen asleep. She sighed, shaking her head. Apparently that was another discussion she'd have to have later.


Mark sat up, wincing at the pain he felt in his back as he leaned against the headboard. He looked at Lilah sleeping peacefully beside him. She was on her stomach and her hair was all over the place. He smiled, feeling a great sense of pleasure. She was always so buttoned up and put together. He thoroughly enjoyed the way she looked at that moment. He thought she looked most beautiful when she was a little messy. He looked over at the chair beside the bed where he'd haphazardly tossed her underwear after ripping them in his haste to get them off of her. She had snipped at him, telling him that they were La Perla and that she expected replacements ASAP. She was a strange woman. One moment she was prim and proper Georgia princess, the next she was telling him to meet her in a broom closet in five minutes. He couldn't seem to figure her out. And he liked that about her. He was having a damn good time. They stuck to their rules. He looked at the clock and sighed. He needed to be at the airport in 6 hours for a flight back to Texas. He was seeing his doctor for a follow up on his knee. He didn't think it was necessary but: doctors orders. He got out of bed carefully, trying not to wake her as he gathered his things. He was almost out the door when he felt a sharp pain in his back and he cried out in pain.

"Mark?"

Lilah was at his side quickly, wrapped in the bed sheet.

"I'm alright," he winced, leaning his back against the wall.

"You don't look alright," she looked concerned, touching his arm softly. "Come on, come lay down."

"I'll be fine," he insisted.

"Mark you're tough, okay? I get it," she looked annoyed. "Now go lay down for Christ's sake."

He glared at her and she crossed her arms, looking completely unimpressed, "Can you make it over there on your own or do you want help?"

He pushed himself away from the wall and gingerly walked toward the bed, eyeing her the whole way. He did not like being bossed around. He wanted to make sure she knew it.

"I'm really quite scared," she quipped with a straight face. "You just can't see it 'cause I'm so tired."


Randy laughed as Adam told a story to the rest of the table. He wasn't totally paying attention but everyone else was laughing so it seemed appropriate. Adam seemed to be having a good time flirting with one of Ariel's friends. Hunter was doing his best to keep his wedding ring in full view at all times. Randy leaned back in his chair, finishing off his drink. He heard something scrape against the floor and looked to his left to see Ariel scooting her chair closer to his. She smiled shyly at him, her knee touching his, and then turned her attention back to Adam's story. Randy watched her while her eyes were elsewhere. She was cute, maybe not drop dead gorgeous but not bad looking at all. Normally he wasn't exactly critical if he hadn't been with anyone in a while, especially after a few drinks, but the whole time she'd been sitting beside him he kept finding things about her that bothered him. She was wearing big silver earrings with feathers that would probably smack him in the face if he moved closer to her. She was wearing perfume that smelled like pixie sticks. And her eyes were too blue, like she was wearing bad colored contacts. She was all over him but his thoughts kept drifting to Andy. He thought of her beautiful grayish green eyes. He thought about how confident she was and how she seemed to delight in calling him on his shit. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and opened their text message thread, laughing when he remembered she had changed her name in his phone to A-Sizzle. He quickly typed out his message: I'm gonna be back at the hotel soon. Need me to bring you anything?

Her response came quickly, A new head that doesn't hurt would be awesome…but it would have to be equally pretty, preferably a redhead. I have a reputation to uphold.

He laughed and he could feel Ariel staring at him again as he typed back, I'm looking around but I don't see any head that could compare to yours

Is that supposed to sound dirty? Either way, I appreciate the compliment.

He texted her back, you're a perv even when you're sick…I like that.

"Are you texting your wife?" Ariel asked, gazing at him inquisitively.

"Not married," he showed off his bare ring finger, smirking at her lack of subtlety. She bit her bottom lip, smiling at his answer.

"Neither am I," she said. "Would you maybe wanna go talk somewhere a little quieter?"

He looked at her hopeful expression and then back down at his phone, a light blinking to tell him he had another text.

"I would but we're probably gonna head back to the hotel pretty soon. I've gotta get up really early."

"I could come with you," she offered, her hand on his knee.

He looked at her hand and then at his phone again, "That's not a good idea. Sorry. Maybe some other time."

Randy looked over at Hunter who had been watching their exchange. He looked impressed, raising his hands in a golf clap.

Randy rolled his eyes, "You ready to get out of here?"


Wednesday…

Emerson pulled her hair up into a ponytail, walking toward the thermostat. She had been unpacking the last of her and Andy's boxes all morning and it was starting to get stuffy in their condo. She turned on the air conditioning and then walked back upstairs. Their condo was a gorgeous four bedroom in Chicago's Lakeview East neighborhood, more commonly known as Boystown. It was the third place she and Andy looked at and they were ready to sign the papers the moment they set foot in it. They each had their own master suite, Emme's on the first floor and Andy's on the second. They had taken one of the extra bedrooms and the small den next to it, knocked out the adjoining wall, and converted it into a gigantic shared closet and dressing room. Andy's father Roger had built in wall units and shelving for their clothes and shoes. Andy had unpacked almost all of the clothes and Emme had taken it upon herself to arrange the shoes. She was almost done with the last box of winter boots. She reached for the last box and was surprised at how heavy it felt. She frowned, sitting on the floor and pulling off the top of the box. Her eyes widened as she looked down at what was clearly a box of mementos. She distinctly remembered a time when they were first getting to know each other when Andy told her that she was never the type of girl to keep a shoebox full of memories of an ex boyfriend. Emerson didn't recognize a single thing in the box so it obviously wasn't hers. She pulled out a few items, shuffling through them. Ticket stubs from a Modest Mouse concert at The Aragon Ballroom. Tickets to the movie Batman Begins. There were fliers from various local wrestling shows. Underneath the fliers, there was a stack of pictures facing down. Emme picked them up and turned them over. The first one was Andy and Phil on a couch. Andy was sitting up and Phil, looking very different with bleach blonde hair and no facial hair, was lying on his back with his head in her lap. There was another person Emme didn't recognize sitting on the floor in front of the couch. They all seemed to be laughing at something and Andy was looking down at Phil with such adoration that Emme completely understood why whoever took the picture had been compelled to capture it. In the next picture, Andy very different and absolutely adorable. Her hair was platinum blonde and she was wearing bright red lipstick. She had an incredibly excited open mouthed look on her face and she was holding up her hand, showing off a thin silver band. Phil was beside her, looking sheepish, the top of his head resting against her cheek. She continued flipping through shot after shot of Andy and Phil; some with other friends, quite a few with Colt and Tyler. In each and everyone one, Andy and Phil looked head over heels in love with each other. She noticed that a few of the pictures were streaked with tear stains. She leaned back against the wall, frowning. Why would Andy keep all of this if she hated Phil so much? Her phone buzzed in her pocket and Emme pulled it out quickly. She had a text message from Kofi inviting her to a barbecue at Phil's house the next day. Perfect timing. Maybe she could finally get some answers.


Randy walked into the lobby, unzipping his gym bag and taking out the key to him and Andy's room. They'd both been scheduled to be in LA for the day; she was shooting her guest spot on Suits and he was there for a luncheon the next day for the 'Be A Star' campaign. He was dead tired after a long session at the gym and Andy was out for the rest of the day so he hoped he could get some sleep in before she got back.

"Randy Orton, can you tell me what room he's in? It's an emergency."

Randy frowned, turning toward the front desk when he heard his name.

"I'm sorry ma'am, we have no one checked in under that name," the clerk said.

There was a very tall blonde in sky high stiletto heels standing at the desk in a black and red dress.

"Well I'm sure he's here," the woman insisted, her words slurring the slightest bit.

When Randy heard the voice again he winced. He knew that voice. Erika Marten. They'd dated years earlier for 3 very dramatic months. Erika was a part time bikini model and a full time trouble maker, not to mention a borderline alcoholic. He hadn't seen her over a year.

"Erika," he called, feeling responsible for saving the hotel clerk.

She turned and flashed him a brilliant smile, "Randy, darling! I knew you were here."

She shot the clerk a searing glare before rushing over to him and wrapping him in a tight hug, "I've missed you."

She smelled like perfume and whiskey.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I saw on Twitter that you were in town," she smiled, running a finger down his chest. "You used to like this hotel. I assumed you'd be here."

"That doesn't explain why you're here," Randy said, removing her hand.

She looked confused and laughed, "Randy…what do you think I'm here for?"

She finished her sentence by looking down at his pants.

Randy looked up at the ceiling, wondering why it seemed that he was being tested in the last few days.

"Come on Randy, let's go upstairs," she smiled, taking a step toward him and stumbling, nearly losing her balance. He caught her before she fell and she giggled, "See. I knew you missed me."

Randy sighed. He was going to have to turn her down someplace private. She did not take rejection well.


"Whatever it is, I didn't do it."

Lilah looked up when she heard Phil's voice. She had sent him a text message requesting he meet her for lunch. He was in LA doing promotional work and she was there with Stephanie for a 'Be a Star' Campaign event. Phil was in his usual t-shirt, black hoodie looking unshaven and tired.

"How are you today Phil?" she smiled at him.

His hazel eyes narrowed in suspicion as he slowly lowered himself into a chair across from her, "Fine. Why?"

"I'm doing well today, thanks so much for asking," she pointedly brightened her smile at him.

"I'm sorry," he put his hands up, pasting on the just about the fakest smile Lilah had ever seen. "How are you today Lilah? What are the lunch specials?"

She raised an eyebrow at him, refusing to acknowledge his childishness. She'd worked with Phil quite a bit in her time as a writer and she knew the best way to deal with him was not to engage.

He chuckled a little, sitting back in his chair. "Why don't you just lay it on me?"

"Lay what on you?"

"Whatever I'm here for," he shrugged. "No one with a job like yours wants to see me for fun so I assume I'm here for some sort of news or reprimand or something."

"You're not being reprimanded," she assured him.

"I better not be. I didn't do anything," he shrugged.

"I wouldn't be the one to reprimand you if you did," she shrugged. "That's not my job."

"Who knows anymore?" Phil laughed. "Vince runs you people ragged."

"Sometimes," she admitted. "But in this instance, I'm just doing my job, no one else's."

"So this is about an angle?" he looked intrigued.

In quite possibly the worst timing ever, Lilah's eyes caught sight of a shock of red hair. She tensed when Andy walked over clad in a baggy black Notorious B.I.G. shirt and denim shorts.

"Hey Liles, sorry I'm late," she said, walking up and giving Lilah a quick hug. "Traffic was a real bitch getting here from the gym. Some accident a few miles away. God damn gapers' delays. I don't have too long, Cass and I start shooting for that show today."

Andy didn't seem to have noticed her ex sitting a few feet away from her. He cleared his throat and she stopped talking, turning in his direction.

"Oh for shit's sake Lilah," Andy turned to glare at her. "I thought we were past this."

"You and me both," Phil rolled his eyes.

"Oh sure, because you had no idea I was gonna be here," Andy shot him an incredulous look.

"Would you mind telling me when the entire world started revolving around you?" he stood up, annoyed. "Because I didn't get that memo."

"It happened around the same time that you became an asshole," she sneered at him.

"Children please," Lilah stood up.

They both shot icy glares her way, making Lilah take a step back.

She took a deep breath, reminding herself to stand her ground. She squared her shoulders, "Neither of you was set up. You're here because I need to talk to you. Both of you. And it has nothing to do with your personal lives. Can we please be professional for a few minutes?"

Andy had the decency to look a little embarrassed, sitting down quietly. Phil sighed dramatically and slumped down in his chair, reminding her of a grade school boy.

"What's this about?" Andy asked.

"Well…I guess the best way to go about this is to rip it off like a band aid," Lilah began. She folded her hands on the table in front of her, leaning on her elbows. "You two are being paired together in an angle. It was my idea. I knew neither of you would like it but I genuinely think it would be great for both of you. I've already gone to Stephanie. She loves it. Vince loves it and we're fully prepared to move ahead with it."

When she finished speaking, she squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, bracing herself for the onslaught. When she opened them, Andy's face was frozen in such a perfect state of horror and anger that she looked as if someone had pressed pause on her. Phil looked incredibly amused, as if he was certain she couldn't be serious, "This is a joke, right?"

Lilah shifted uncomfortably in her chair, looking back and forth between the two of them, "No, it's not a joke."

Phil's smile fell slowly and his head tilted to the side as he studied Lilah, "You're serious?"

"I am," she said, clearing her throat and trying to sit up as straight as possible. She felt like prey in the wild. She didn't want them to smell her fear.

"Are you gonna say something?" Phil looked over at Andy.

"Lilah," Andy snapped back to reality. "This. Is. Not. Funny."

Lilah sighed deeply, "I am not joking. Now you can choose to have some input or you can let me handle everything. It's up to you."

Phil shook his head, "This is ridiculous. I'm not dealing with this."

Lilah stood as well, "Phil-"

"Talk to your friend," Phil pointed at Andy before walking out.

Lilah sighed again. When she looked back at Andy, she saw a look she'd never seen from her friend before.

"Don't kill me," Lilah put up a hand to keep Andy at a safe distance.

"Why would I kill you when you're already dead to me?" Andy said through clenched teeth.

"Andy-"

"You are one of my best friends. I trust you with my life. You have my career in your hands and you make the decision to put me with him?"

"Yes, Andy, I made the decision to put you with one of the hottest guys going right now," Lilah said. "What a terrible friend I am."

"You went behind my back Lilah," Andy pointed. "You knew I wouldn't want to do this and you took it to Stephanie first so she would back you up."

"You're right, I did know you'd have a problem with it. You know what else I know?" Lilah leaned forward on her elbows. "I know that you're a professional. You're ambitious. And I know that above all else, you will do what is best for business. You have to trust me here. This will work, I know it."

"I really don't have a choice here, do I?" Andy shook her head.

"You have a choice," Lilah corrected. "You can throw a fit and refuse to do this. Or you can remind Vince why he thinks you're the future of women's wrestling and power through this like I know you can."


Randy paced back and forth outside the bathroom door. Erika had asked if she could take a shower to sober up and he'd allowed it, not knowing what else to do. The water had stopped a few seconds earlier and Randy was anxious to get her out.

"Listen, Erika, it was really nice to see you," he said, leaning against the wall next to the door.

"I know," she responded.

"But you uh..you really should have called first," he explained.

"I knew it wouldn't matter," she giggled. "You're always happy to see me."

"You know, normally I would be but..this time..I'm actually seeing someone. And I really like this girl and this would not look very…"

Randy trailed off when the door opened and Erika walked out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel. Before he could collect himself, the door opened.


Andy walked into she and Randy's room, pulling off her sunglasses. She desperately needed to vent.

"Randy you will not believe.."

Andy lost her train of thought when she saw Randy and a blonde supermodel type wrapped in a bath towel that barely covered her.

Andy dropped her purse and her keys, planting her hands on her hips, "What the hell is this?"

The blonde turned, looking annoyed, "Who are you?"

"Who am I? Who the fuck are you? And why do you smell like my shampoo?" Andy asked, stepping closer to them.

She looked over at Randy who looked back at her with a bewildered expression as if he didn't know what was happening.

"Andy, this isn't what you think," Randy finally found his voice. "I-"

"Randy shut up," the blonde held up a hand.

"Don't tell him to shut up!" Andy snapped. She glared at Randy, "What the hell is going on?"

"You don't have to explain anything to this girl. It's none of her business," the blonde rolled her eyes.

"Oh really?" Andy moved around to stand in between Randy and the woman. She could feel her face getting hot and her palm was itching to slap this girl. She always tried her best to be composed but sometimes the Chicago Irish in her was quick to get a fight started. "Well you're in my hotel room and I certainly didn't invite your ass in here so I think it is my fucking business."

The blonde opened her mouth but Andy held up a hand to stop her, "You know what? I can find out from Randy later. You, I don't need to see anymore, so why don't you just get the hell out?"

"Is this the girl you were talking about?" the blonde looked down her nose at Andy.

"Do you not understand English?" Andy stared. "I said get out."

"I'll leave when Randy says he wants me to," the blonde crossed her arms over her chest.

"Erika you should go," Andy heard Randy behind her.

"You're gonna choose this over me?" Erika looked mortified.

Andy fumed, looking around for something to focus on to calm her nerves. She spotted the open bathroom door and walked in, picking up the discarded dress, purse, and shoes that were on the floor.

"I have an idea," she smiled, walking out of the room. She pulled the wallet out of the purse, opening it and taking out the 300 dollars cash she found there and shoving it into her pocket. She tossed the wallet back into the purse and pressed the button for the elevator. Fortunately, it arrived quickly. She got in, pressed the button for the lobby, dropped the clothes and purse and then walked out, stomping back toward her room.

"Okay so here's the deal," she walked back in. "Your shit is on it's way downstairs and if you don't want to get your ass kicked, you should really follow suit."

Erika stared, open mouthed, obviously stunned.

"Now please," Andy gestured out the door.

Erika finally got the hint and stormed out toward the elevator.

"You're lucky I don't take my towel back," Andy called out after her before shutting the door. Once it was closed she turned to Randy, "Are you kidding me?"


Randy stared at Andy, still amazed at what just happened. Andy's eyes were blazing, her cheeks flushed. At that moment, Randy found himself more attracted to her than ever. But before he could address that, he needed to explain himself.

"Nothing happened," he said slowly, holding up his hands.

"Really?" Andy asked. "Then would you mind explaining to me why that amazon with bad Louboutin knockoffs just walked out of here in a bath towel?"

"She's an ex, she showed up downstairs drunk, looking for me," Randy explained. "I brought her up here so she wouldn't make a scene. She used the shower to sober up and then you got here. Did you really put her clothes in the elevator?"

"After I took the cash out of her wallet," Andy shrugged.

"You took her cash?" Randy laughed.

"Hell yeah I did," Andy insisted. "My dad worked as a bouncer back in the day. His motto was, you toss someone, you take a cut for your pain and suffering."

Randy laughed but she was obviously not amused.

"Andy, it wasn't how it looked."

She gave him an incredulous look but he stepped closer to her, hoping she could see how sincere he was, "Andy, I swear..nothing happened. Nothing was gonna happen."

He found himself holding his breath, anxiously waiting for her to say something. He wanted her to believe him. He wanted her to know that he wasn't interested in Erika.

She turned away, taking a deep breath. A laugh escaped her and she covered her mouth, shaking her head, "Do you think she found her clothes?"

They both started laughing until they were out of breath and leaning on each other. She sat on the floor, leaning her back against the wall.

"So…you were pretty mad there, huh?" he smirked, sitting beside her.

"Do not get cocky about this," she pointed, glaring at him. "I am extremely embarrassed right now."

Her cheeks flushed red and she rolled her eyes.

"Don't be," he laughed. "That was pretty awesome. It did great things for my ego."

"It was so not awesome," she put her hands over her face.

"Come here," he laughed, putting an arm over her shoulders and kissing the top of her head.

They settled that way for a few minutes in quiet. Randy kissed her head again, inhaling the smell of her hair. He definitely hadn't pictured this day involving Andy threatening to throw down with his ex. She was full of surprises. And he wanted her to keep surprising him

"So keeping things casual is working really well, isn't it?" he smirked.

She laughed, "Oh yes. That was very easy going of me."

"I liked it," he said. "And I like you. Just you."

She looked up at him and smiled, amused, "Are you trying to tell me something? I feel like you're about to ask me to go steady."

He laughed, "I'm not even sure what going steady means. But I want you to know that I'm not looking for anything else."

She smiled, kissing his lips, "Good. I don't wanna have to rob anymore strangers."


"Me and Her," Phil paced back and forth angrily, holding his phone to her ear. "Can you believe that?"

He'd called Kofi to vent and, annoyingly, thus far he was his typical even keeled self.

"Are you really that surprised?" Kofi asked.

Phil stopped in his tracks, wishing his friend could see him glaring.

"Come on," Kofi rolled his eyes. "The two of you look like you were made for each other. I get it. It makes sense."

Phil shook his head and resumed his pacing. He absently chewed on his thumb nail and soon was so lost in thought he seemed to have forgotten Kofi was on the phone.

Kofi cleared his throat and Phil stopped again, "Do you think she asked Lilah to do this just to fuck with me?"

"Do I think your ex-wife who hates you asked one of her best friends to force her to spend more time with you?" Kofi asked.

Phil glared again at nothing in particular and Kofi laughed, "Seriously, there's worse things in life than having to work closely with a beautiful, talented woman. Do you even know what the angle is?"

"I didn't stay around to find out," Phil answered. "This is ridiculous. There are plenty of guys that need a woman by their side to make them more interesting. I'm not that guy."

"Nobody's saying you are," Kofi reminded him. "Lilah has an idea that's apparently interesting enough to get Vince's attention. In a good way. That's what we all want."

"I don't need Vince's attention," Phil insisted.

He had to admit that to some small extent, Kofi had a point. Everyone wanted an angle that Vince wanted to push through to TV. Phil had been involved in mid card feuds for the last year. His last shot at the world championship was 13 months ago. He deserved better and everyone seemed to know it. But the writers seemed to keep putting him into feuds where it was his job to make the other person look like a star.

"Didn't say you need it," Kofi said. "But I'm sure you want it."

"It doesn't matter," Phil shook his head,

"It does matter," Kofi insisted. "Lilah is a great writer. The McMahon's trust her to handle main event angles. This could be big for you. And maybe you can even convince Andy to stop hating you."

"Oh yeah," Phil rolled his eyes. "I'm sure that's gonna happen."