Peeps! I hope you enjoy the next chapter. The following one is just about done but I thought I'd get this one up first. Let me know what you think!
Arden pulled the fitted, khaki colored sheet tight, waiting to smooth it over the corner of the guest room mattress until her mother had her side properly in place. She'd spent the entire morning with Odette. She had to admit, it was almost nice having her mother around now that she wasn't actually living there.
"These sheets are lovely dear," Odette reached for her glass of wine and took a long drink, completely ignoring that they were in the middle of a task. "You should buy a few sets for my new apartment. As a housewarming gift."
"Mother, I bought your actual bed as a housewarming gift," Arden reminded her. "I think you can handle the sheets."
"It was just a suggestion," Odette shrugged, taking another sip of wine before they finished the sheet.
Stephen would be moving in soon. He told her that he would probably arrive late morning, noon at the latest. The two women spent the morning making sure the house was ready. They went grocery shopping, buying what was likely far too much food. Arden bought more masculine sheets and blankets for the room, wanting to make Stephen feel a little more at home and less like he was in a floral fever dream. She even changed the lamp shades. She also picked up new pillows because Odette complained that the ones she had were far too soft.
"Which of your friends is it that's moving in again?" Odette questioned as she unfolded the freshly washed, hunter green plaid quilt. Arden wasn't sure why she'd even folded it in the first place. Nerves, she supposed. She wanted everything to be perfect.
"Stephen," she answered. "The one who helped you to your seat that night when you showed up to Raw uninvited."
"The hunky, Irish one?" Odette asked with a devilish grin.
"That's the one," Arden answered with a sigh. "Please refrain from calling him hunky when he gets here. I don't want him to immediately turn around and leave."
"I will have you know that we had a distinct chemistry that night," Odette pontificated, drawing an eye roll from her daughter. "There are plenty of men in this world that would appreciate even the slightest compliment from me. Where do you think you get it from?"
"Get what?" Arden frowned in confusion.
"Your sex appeal, sweetheart," Odette answered with a flourish that made Arden fear for the state of her carpet.
She reached over, taking Odette's wine glass and setting it down, "Why do I even ask?"
"Oh darling, stop it," her mother laughed. "You're a beautiful girl and you draw the male gaze, just like your mother. Frankly, I think it's a dangerous idea, inviting another man into your home."
"Mother, Stephen is my friend," she reminded her, amused at Odette's paranoia. "And I'm happy to help him out. Nick doesn't mind at all."
"At all?" Odette gave her an incredulous look. "He doesn't mind at all that you're going to be living with a large attractive man that was carved from marble?"
"He is an attractive man, carved from marble," Arden responded proudly. "Probably has something to do with why he doesn't mind. Besides, if our relationship can handle him making out with my friend several times a week, it can handle Stephen sleeping in the guest room."
Odette smirked, "Famous last words, my dear."
Phil dropped his keys into the bowl in the foyer and strolled into the kitchen. He loved walking into Jordan's place. She had put so much work into decorating her house. She'd told him the story behind almost every item in every room. The incredibly lopsided key bowl was a gift from Celia after a drunken pottery class. Each picture frame in the mantel was purchased from a different antique store. The magnets that held pictures to her refrigerator were silly little gifts from her father, a collection she started as a kid. He would bring her one from every city he traveled to, no matter how many she already had. The whole condo smelled like her hair and he sorely missed her. He supposed that was why when he left the airport, he headed to her place instead of his own.
His time at home never felt long enough. He had two days for the week and then he had to fly out to Tennessee. It had been such a long week already. Sunday sucked just as much as he thought it would. He had to lose his title and then show up at Raw the next night to demand his rematch like he had any illusions that he might get it back. Jordan tried her best to help him through it. He didn't want to talk much but she was there for him. She held his hand and didn't push him. His moodiness was at an all time high and she put up with his shit without a single complaint. He was reluctant to let her go when she had to leave for New Orleans but she had a crazy week ahead of her.
His phone buzzed, sliding around on the counter and he snatched it up, not surprised when he saw a series of messages from Colt. Jordan invited him to New Orleans with her and he'd been all too happy to go along for the ride. He'd sent a bunch of pictures. The first was of Jordan and Colt standing in front of the Superdome. The next featured Colt, Jordan, and Celia huddled around one of the small tables at Cafe Du Monde eating beignets. Colt had one stuffed in his mouth and all of their faces were covered in powdered sugar. Jordan's hand was over Colt's head, sprinkling some of the sugar into his hair. They looked like they were having a ball and he was glad to see it. She'd been looking forward to the trip for weeks.
Phil selected the option to call his best friend. Colt picked up after one ring, "You miss me yet?"
"Are you trying to make me jealous?" Phil smirked.
"Of course not," Colt laughed. "But I have to admit...this is the life. I'm basically a kept man for the next few days."
Since Jordan was performing in the DirecTv celebrity game, the company was paying for her expenses for the weekend; a courtesy which apparently extended to Colt.
"When she's working, I get to hang out by the pool or in the quarter with Wesley, Celia, and a bunch of WAGS. I'm telling you, if you decide to retire, you are set."
"I won't need to live off of my girlfriend when I retire but I'm glad you're having a good time," Phil chuckled. "Where's Jordan?"
"She's got 49ers media until the late afternoon," Colt explained. "Then we're going to meet up with some people for dinner. I think she said Ronda would be coming."
He thought. He sounded like a giddy child.
"You better be thanking her for letting you tag along," Phil warned.
"Are you kidding me?" Colt laughed. "I've thanked her so much she told me I'm not allowed to say the words again. Also, she gets to enjoy my company so that's a win for her."
"I've got to admit, even though Jo gets the distinct pleasure of spending a week with me, I'm fairly certain she's bummed that you're not here."
Phil scoffed, "I'm sure she's fine. She's probably had enough of me after the last few weeks. Just make sure you cheer enough for both of us at the celebrity game."
"I will be the most obnoxious, suburban soccer mom these people have ever seen," Colt assured him. "But you should be here."
"I would if I could," Phil sighed. "But I have live events. She knows that."
"Cards are subject to change, my friend," Colt reminded him. "Listen, I gotta go meet Wesley in the lobby. He's introducing me to some cheerleaders. I'm really living my best life right now."
"You're an idiot," Phil laughed. "Have fun. Tell Wes 'hi' for me."
Once Colt was gone, Phil set his phone down, staring at the blank screen. Colt was wrong. Jordan would tell him if she was upset that he wasn't there.
She asked him to go and he told her he couldn't. She didn't make a big deal of it. Sure, she had been excited to tell him about it but when he reminded her that he had work, she let it go.
So what if he couldn't be there?
For one of her favorite weeks of the entire year. A week that she said a million times that she couldn't wait for.
"Shit," he sighed.
Colt was right and he'd been so caught up in his own frustration that he'd barely given it a second thought.
What the hell was he supposed to do about it now?
Stephen considered using his new keys as he walked the cobblestone pathway to Arden's front door but decided against it. It felt intrusive to just waltz into her house, even though she told him 100 times that she didn't mind giving him a place to stay. He was incredibly grateful and planned on being a model houseguest for the duration of his stay. As he walked, his rolling suitcase slipped off the path and trampled a patch of flowers.
"Great start," he scolded himself, as he looked at their sad, broken stems. He lifted the bag and and rang the doorbell. He would have to ask what he could do to fix those later. He was far from a green thumb.
The door swung open to reveal a frazzled looking Arden in a Michigan sweatshirt with her copper hair haphazardly piled atop her head.
"Hi," she smiled. "Why didn't you use your key?"
"Didn't wanna scare ya," he shrugged.
"Oh hello, Stephen. I'd almost forgotten you were coming," her mother Odette appeared behind her with a full glass of red wine in one hand and a beer in the other. It didn't take a genius to figure out why his friend looked like her nerves were frayed. Odette was quite the handful.
"Would you like a drink?" the older woman asked, holding up the beer.
"Mother, it's not even noon," Arden scolded her.
"He's Irish," Odette shrugged.
"She does have a point there. It's 5 o'clock somewhere," Stephen chuckled. He wasn't actually interested in the beer but he didn't want to be rude so he gratefully accepted it. "Thank you, Mrs. Crosby.
"Ms," she corrected.
Arden gave her a look before stepping aside, "Come in. Please ignore her."
Odette flitted off toward the kitchen and Arden reached for the handle of one of his bags, "I apologize for her. She's halfway through a bottle of wine."
He stopped her from taking the bag, "Stop right there. I've got it. And don't worry about your mom. She's harmless."
"That is entirely untrue," Arden laughed, turning around and gesturing for him to follow.
"I don't think I ever realized how short you are until seeing you barefoot just now," he teased as she padded ahead of him.
"Zip it," she tossed over her shoulder and he chuckled.
"Okay, this is you," she smiled, pointing into the guest room. "I made a few changes I thought you might like."
The last time he saw the room it looked like a 16 year old girl's dream. She'd changed the bedding and moved some of the furniture around.
"You didn't have to do anything special."
"I didn't mind," she shrugged. "And I wanted you to feel at home."
"I appreciate that," he draped an arm over her shoulders, tugging her into a side hug.
"All of the drawers are empty and there are velvet hangers in the closet if you plan on putting anything up," she pointed to the spots she indicated.
"Velvet hangers?" he raised an eyebrow.
"They're better for your clothes," she insisted. "Don't make fun."
"How are you settling in, dear?" Odette breezed into the room. "I'd be happy to show you around the rest of the house."
"I've actually been here before, Ms. Crosby," he explained. "I think I've got the layout down. But thank you."
"Suit yourself," she said. "Let me know if you change your mind."
As she left, Arden snagged his beer and took a drink, finishing with a sigh, "I'm not sure both of us are gonna make it to the end of this day."
"You can't kill your mother for having a crush on me," he chuckled, patting her shoulder.
"You say that now," she took another sip. "But one day you'll be here alone and she'll show up in nothing but a trench coat. Then, all of a sudden, it won't be funny anymore."
"Has she done that to a friend of yours before?" he asked, amused and slightly frightened at the specific example.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" Arden smirked. She handed the beer back to him, "I'll leave you to settle in. Just let me know if you need anything at all."
"Thank you again, Arden," he smiled. "I'll be out of your hair most of the day. I've got some meetings but I'll be home in the evening."
"I'll be here," she smiled back. "Let's both pray that my mom isn't."
"Okay, Wyatt, it's decision time."
Jordan walked out of the bathroom, patting moisturizer into her cheeks as Celia rolled in a small rack that held two garment bags. Jordan loved fashion but she was certain she'd rather stay in her comfortable, fluffy hotel robe.
"Felicia will be here any minute and neither of us wants to deal with how annoyed she'll be if we don't have your outfit picked," her childhood friend reminded her.
"Fine," Jordan sighed, draping herself across the foot of the bed. Felicia's wrath was threat enough. "What are my choices?"
"Well, I brought a ton but I think these 2 are the ones to pick from. We have 2 different levels of sexy. Full on sexpot," Celia picked up a sleeveless black lace wrap dress that was dangerously low cut with an incredibly high front slit. "This one stops just short of showing nipple and will need to be pinned so you don't flash anyone your downstairs."
"I know, this one was a long shot. The next one is my personal favorite. Zuhair Murad, absolutely stunning," Celia unzipped the other bag. Jordan was impressed by the gorgeous, embellished wine colored blazer and black cigarette pants. "This is perfect. Edgy and cool but still approachable, very much your brand. Everyone will notice you. All the goods will be on display but a little heavy duty fashion tape and there's no chance for a wardrobe malfunction."
"There's no shirt that goes under that, is there?" Jordan asked suspiciously.
"There is not," Celia admitted. "But while you were at the game today I found a fabulous long necklace."
Jordan gave her friend a stern look, "I want more than a little fashion tape."
"Deal," Celia smiled excitedly.
Jordan plopped back down on the bed as Celia scurried out of the room. She was grateful to have her friend to handle these things. She had enough to be nervous about. She was presenting at the NFL Honors ceremony as well as working as a special backstage correspondent. She would only actually be sitting in her seat for the opening before she headed back to be the first person to interview each winner. She wasn't exactly nervous about that. She could get a good, quick sound byte in her sleep but it was an important opportunity. If she did well, that meant bigger and better opportunities and that was what made her anxious. And excited. It was a great comfort that she would be with so many people she knew. She was presenting with John. She was riding to the show with her father and brother. Stephanie and Hunter were attending as well. Unfortunately, the one person she wanted to see the most was in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Her phone buzzed beside her head and she blindly grabbed at it, smiling when she saw the incoming FaceTime call.
"Are your ears burning?" she grinned at the sight of Phil's face.
"Were you talking about me?" he smirked.
"Thinking about you," she admitted.
"I don't think that has the same effect," he smiled. "How was the game? Am I looking at the celebrity bowl MVP?"
She'd performed admirably in the celebrity game, living up to her family legacy as a good defensive player, but she wasn't chosen as the most valuable player. Her team did win, though.
"No but Snoop Dogg told me I did great so really, I won the best gift of all," she answered.
"I'm very proud," he chuckled. "Colt sent me pictures."
"I could hear him yelling for me," Jordan chuckled. "He's gonna make a great soccer dad someday."
"I hope you understand, you've usurped your father as his favorite person by taking him on this trip," he said.
"He does seem to be having a pretty great time," she laughed. "He can really put down those beignets."
"You could have seen in person if you came with us," she reminded him.
"I know, I'm sorry," he rubbed the back of his head. "You know I'd be there if I could."
She did know that and it was unfair for her to complain that he wasn't there. They both understood that their careers had to come first. It was what they signed up for. Unfortunately, that couldn't stop either of them from feeling a little bratty every once in a while.
"I know you would," she sighed, forcing a casual smile. "It's fine."
He looked unconvinced and when she heard light knocking at the door, she was grateful for the distraction from this awkward conversation she got herself into.
"That is either Cel, Stephanie, or Felicia," she explained. "I should probably go. I have to let a team of people make me look like a bombshell."
"Nature already did that for you."
"Oh that was gross," she made a face, getting up and walking toward the door. "You should be ashamed of yourself."
"I am a little bit," he winced. "Call me later. I love you."
"I love you too," she smiled. "Even when you're gross and cheesy."
She plugged her phone back into the charger just as Celia returned with shoes, jewelry, and a suspicious paper bag.
"Aww, were you and Phil making kissy faces at each other?" the blonde giggled.
"Not exactly," Jordan rolled her eyes. "What's in the bag?"
Celia paled slightly and Jordan frowned, sitting up straight. She figured it was just some takeout but Celia's reaction showed her there was more to the story.
"Spill it, Hearst," she gave her friend her most threatening look.
"Well, it's something I've been trying to figure out how to bring up since we got here," Celia started neatly spreading out jewelry beside Jordan on the bed.
Unable to wait, Jordan swiped the bag, surprised that it was lighter than it looked. The top was stapled shut and she quickly peeled it open, her jaw dropping to the bedspread when she saw the contents.
Pregnancy tests. 3 of them, to be exact.
"Holy shit," she stared, dragging her eyes away from the boxes and up to her friend. Celia was wincing, only one eye open.
"Haven't you been wondering why I haven't been drinking?" Celia asked. "Or why I ate three orders of beignets by myself yesterday?"
"Beignets are delicious and you have no willpower," Jordan shrugged. "And I guess I didn't really notice that you weren't drinking since I've been working so much. You're pregnant?"
Jordan's mind was blown. She couldn't explain why. Celia was a newly married adult with, as far as she knew, a fully functioning reproductive system. It was just...unexpected.
"I don't know yet," Celia started pacing. "But I'm late and starving all the time and my boobs hurt so...that could only mean so many things, right?"
"I mean, yeah, that sorta sounds pregnant," Jordan nodded. "You didn't say you guys were trying for a baby. Why wouldn't you tell me?"
"Trying is a strong word. More like...not properly trying not to."
"Have you gone to the doctor?"
The blonde shook her head, "Too scared. I bought those tests and I've been holding on to them for a week and not having any champagne and that is really hard for me."
"Why are you scared? Benjamin is great and you've always wanted kids."
"In an abstract way, sure, but I am wildly irresponsible," Celia started fiddling with the jewelry again. "I literally set a plant on fire a few days ago. A plant. Benjamin had to take the matches away from me."
"Okay, I have several follow up questions on that but I'll save them for later," Jordan teased. "Cel, you're not an irresponsible person. You run a very successful business, on top of styling me, you and Benjamin are a great couple and you have a beautiful home and you would be amazing parents."
"I can't even cook," Celia insisted.
"Well...we have time to work on that," Jordan shrugged. "First things first, we need to get you to the doctor. These tests are great and all but you don't know for sure until you see a doctor so we might as well just skip them."
"Will you go with me?"
"Of course I'll go with you," Jordan pulled Celia to sit beside her, wrapping her in a tight hug and resting her chin on her shoulder.
"You cannot tell anyone about this until we know for sure," Celia squeezed back. "Pregnant or not, I don't want Benjamin to hear about it from anyone but me."
"I won't tell a soul, I promise," she said, playfully tossing the bag of tests over her shoulder. "We'll look at my schedule with Dylan and we'll call the doctor in the morning."
Arden shook her head as she read through an email chain from the WWE creative team. It was a privilege to be included in the correspondence but some of emails dragged on and on and never truly got to a point, one of her greatest pet peeves. She couldn't say anything though. When it came to creative, she was the low man on the totem pole. She heard a car coming to a stop and the distinct clinking of keys outside. The motion light by the door illuminated Stephen's form and pushed up her glasses, waving as he entered the house.
"Should I be on the lookout for your mother?" he smirked, hanging the keys by the door.
"All clear," she laughed. "I sent her home in a car about 30 minutes ago. After she finished off yet another bottle of wine. Beware of any drunk texts."
"I think I'll be alright," he chuckled. "She doesn't have my number."
"I hope not," Arden laughed. "How was your meeting?"
"It went well," he explained, coming over and sitting on the other end of the couch, near her feet. "Just finishing up some of the paperwork before the movie starts filming. In fact, I was thinking about celebrating with a beer. You want one?"
"I could use one," she smiled. She uncrossed her legs to get up but he softly patted her ankle to keep it in place, "Comin' right up. Need anything else?"
"I need some people to learn how to reply to sender instead of all," she smirked, scrolling through another email as he headed to the kitchen.
"Are you reading emails on your day off?" he asked in a disapproving tone, quickly returning with their drinks.
He handed her beer and kept his hand extended, "New house rule: No work on off days."
"You think you're entitled to make house rules, now?" she smirked, looking at his hand and up to the mischievous look in his eyes.
"I am," he nodded. "You told me I have full roommate privileges. That includes making house rules."
She considered protesting but her eyes were getting tired and she could use a break. She handed over the iPad and he smiled triumphantly, setting it down in the bottom shelf of the coffee table.
"You hungry?" he asked, returning to his seat.
"Starving," she admitted. "I've been thinking about food for the last hour but I didn't have any motivation to get up and do anything about it."
"I feel the same way," he said, pulling out his phone and typing for a few seconds. He showed her the screen, displaying a website for a local pizza place. The image of pizza was positively mouthwatering.
"That is an amazing idea," she gushed. "I think I have their full menu on the fridge."
She'd ordered from the restaurant before. It was a great little mom and pop shop that rarely kept their website updated. She got up to retrieve the menu and once they'd decided on their spread for the evening, she placed made the call.
"I think this roommate thing is going to work out well," she smiled, practically bouncing with exciting for their upcoming meal.
"You say that now," he got up, playfully tugging at her topknot as he walked behind the couch and down the hall toward his room. She watched curiously after him, sensing that he was up to something.
He came out of his room with a cheesy grin and an X-box controller, "This is the perfect way for us to spend our first official night as roomies."
She got up on her knees on the couch, clapping excitedly, "Oh you are going down."
Her competitive nature really kicked in quickly. She was going to have to get a better handle on that. Not tonight though.
"I don't think so," he chuckled.
"No storming off to your room like a wittle baby when you lose," she teased. "New house rule."
"Sis, you're killing me here. How are you not ready yet?"
"I'm basically ready, quit complaining," Jordan shouted out the bathroom door. Hair and makeup with Stephanie had taken longer than she expected. But they were still doing just fine on time. Celia headed off to meet some friends and try not to stress about her maybe baby. Harry had insisted on making the event a family affair which explained Wesley standing in her hotel room whining while she double checked her fashion tape. "Are you antsy because I'm meeting your new girlfriend?"'
"She's not my girlfriend," Wesley said quickly.
"You're bringing her on the red carpet and introducing her to Dad," Jordan teased. "You're clearly into her. Ooh, I wonder if I have any embarrassing childhood pictures of you on my phone."
"Why would you have those on your phone? What kind of monster are you?"
"The kind who was born before you. It's my birthright to torture you," she laughed, doing one last turn in the mirror. Celia and Felicia were miracle workers. "Will you grab my shoes for me? I think they got kicked under the bed in all the glam squad hoopla."
"Anything that will make you hurry up."
Jordan turned off the bathroom light, walking out, "Will you stop? We're not even la..."
Jordan's voice left her as she saw the object in her bewildered brother's hand. Instead of her stiletto heels he was holding a pregnancy test.
"Jordan," his brown eyes met hers. "What is this?"
She briefly considered pretending she didn't know either but quickly realized that didn't work. It was obviously a rhetorical question.
"Where'd you find that?" was all that she could come up with. Celia picked up the bag on her way out. One of the tests must have fallen out. She thought back to the promise that she made to her friend. She couldn't tell Wesley who it actually belonged to, at least not yet.
"Under the bed," Wesley said. He used it to point near the chair in the corner, "Your shoes are over there, by the way."
"Well would you look at that," she mentally kicked herself for not looking harder for the shoes and avoiding this incredible awkwardness. She set about putting the shoes on and avoiding conversation at all cost.
"Jordan," Wesley spoke again. "You're not gonna say anything about this?"
"Wesley, you are a famous athlete. I refuse to believe you've never seen one before."
"Not in my sister's room, I haven't," he shook his head. "Are you pregnant? Am I gonna be an uncle?"
He actually looked a little excited.
"No, I'm not pregnant," she stood up once her shoes were properly fastened. "Stop being ridiculous."
"How do you know?" he asked. "It's not open."
"I know because I know," she shrugged.
"Then why buy a test?" he countered. "You only buy a test when you don't know."
"We have to go," she tried to change the subject. "Remember when you were saying that we need to leave?"
"Yeah, we need to go downstairs where our father is waiting for us," Wesley smirked. "You want me to talk to him about this or you wanna talk to me?"
"Don't you dare," she pointed at him. She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. She couldn't tell him the truth. Wesley was terrible at keeping secrets. He couldn't hold water. Benjamin would know by morning. She was going to keep Celia's confidence, even if it made her want to choke someone. "Wesley Cartwright, if you tell Dad about this, I will kill you."
"Does Punk know yet?" he asked.
Jordan felt her blood pressure rising, "No and he doesn't need to. There's nothing to know. Put the test down and back away."
"I'm gonna be a great uncle," Wesley smiled, relinquishing the test to her.
"You're not going to be an uncle."
"You guys have to get married," realization seemed to dawn on him and Jordan looked at the window, wondering if throwing herself out would be an overreaction to her current situation.
"We're not getting married!"
"He can't just knock up my sister without putting a ring on it," he insisted.
"Oh my God, shut up," Jordan ordered. "You are sworn to secrecy. You pretend you never saw that test, do you understand me?"
"You promise to tell me the moment you know the results?" he countered.
She took another deep breath, "You'll be the first to know, Wesley."
"Okay," he smiled, pulling her into a tight hug. "Is it too much for my little niece or nephew to have a room at my place?"
"I hate you."