Five Years Ago

Sixteen year old Stephanie Marie McMahon bit down on her quivering lip as she poked her head around her bedroom door. There was a storm outside…the rain was pelting at her windows and there were random bursts of thunder and lightning. But that wasn't what had her awake at two in the morning.

God, she was so tired of her family being so dysfunctional. Why couldn't her parents just be normal? Not that they'd know what the word was even if someone pointed it out to them in the damn dictionary, with a magnifying glass.

Between her father's anger issues and her mother's rapidly increasing alcohol problems, she didn't know what the hell to do. Her father was a workaholic and her mother was lonely due to his frequent absences. So she somewhat understood what had driven her mother to the brink of alcoholism. On the other hand, her father worked damn hard to provide them with a very comfortable lifestyle. When he came home he wanted love, appreciation and a peaceful setting.

Unfortunately, bullshit like what was currently happening downstairs is what he often came back to. The situation seemed to have no solution, to be honest. This was just the vicious cycle that they'd all been subjected to. But it was never something that she got used to, so to speak.

Shane had been her rock throughout the years of their parents screaming, cursing and throwing things in the middle of the night. Sometimes she would wander into his room because she felt emotionally safe there; he knew exactly what she was going through. Her big brother would hold his hands over her ears so that she could sleep undisturbed.

But now? Shane was off at college. He'd literally gone clear across the fucking country to escape having to deal with this madness on a regular basis. Stephanie didn't blame him…she just wished there was a way she could've tagged along, too. In just another year, she could finally get the hell out of here and start living freely and peacefully, as well.

"What the hell kind of example are you setting for the kids?" Vince screamed.

Linda sneered at him disdainfully. He literally made her sick to her stomach as of late. She was trying hard to hold it together long enough for both kids to get through college but each day, her resolve crumbled. "Stephanie is the only child still living here and she's a good kid. You've seen her report cards; she's an excellent student."

"No thanks to you! Every time I talk to you, you're under the influence of some kind of alcohol. Quite frankly I'm sick of this shit, Linda. Exactly how much of my money do you spend on this crap?" He asked, grabbing the glass of wine out of her hand and slamming it onto the counter. He winced a little when the glass broke and the wine splashed all over his hand.

"Look what you've done now!" Linda shouted, planting her hands into his chest and giving him a shove into the counter. "That was the last of the bottle."

"All you care about is drinking!" Vince accused, pointing a finger at her.

"You're full of shit and all you care about is money! You don't give a flying fuck about this family!"

"That's complete bullshit and you know it! Shane is my pride and joy and Stephanie is my single greatest accomplishment."

Despite the fact that her parents were arguing like cats and dogs, Stephanie cracked a small smile. Lifting the sleeve of her sweatshirt, she wiped at her teary eyes. She loved her Dad, she really did. In fact, the term "Daddy's little girl" was probably created specifically for her. Her father completely spoiled her and pretty much let her do whatever she wanted. In his eyes, she could do no wrong. And because she didn't want to disappoint him, she never wanted to do wrong in the first place.

She just wished that…things were different. That her parents loved each other as much as they loved her and Shane.

Linda laughed loudly and bitterly. "See, that's how I know you're full of shit, Vince. She isn't even yours!"

Stephanie's eyes went wide as she listened to the eerie silence that descended upon the large, two-story house. Who wasn't whose? What the hell was her mother talking about?

Vince watched Linda carefully. Her mouth had fallen open, but she'd covered it with her hand and had backed up a few paces. "What the hell are you talking about?" Vince questioned incredulously, his spoken question mirroring Stephanie's silent one from upstairs. When Linda said nothing, he took a step forward.

Linda held a hand out and continued to back up, until she hit the refrigerator. "Vince, please. I'm…I'm drunk. I…had a whole bottle of wine except for what you spilled. I don't even – i don't know what I'm saying."

"What do you mean she isn't mine? Are you saying Stephanie isn't my child? Is that what you're telling me?"

"Vince, I…I think we should…we should talk about this…some other time."

Outside, thunder rumbled the skies and a flash of lighting illuminated the dimmed kitchen for a few moments. Vince's chest heaved with his heavy breathing. He was so angry he couldn't keep his fists from clenching or his teeth from chattering together. He'd asked Linda a very simple question. A question that simply required a yes or no. If an explanation was needed, that meant that the answer wasn't going to be to his liking. If the answer was one he wasn't in favor of…well that meant only one thing.

Before he could stop himself, he closed the distance between himself and Linda. She tried to move out of the way, but he didn't let her. His hands wrapped around her neck and he pressed her into the surface of the refrigerator. "TELL ME WHO HER FATHER IS!"

"I-I…can't…br…I" Linda choked out, clawing at his hands with her fingers.

"TELL ME! YOU FUCKING TELL ME WHO'S THE BASTARD THAT FATHERED THE CHILD I'VE RAISED FOR SIXTEEN YEARS!"

With her mouth parted in shock, tears were silently making their way down Stephanie's face. This couldn't be. It just couldn't. She had the trademark McMahon chin. She had freckles and relatively pale skin, as was typical for those born of Celtic descent. There was no way that she wasn't really her father's daughter. It just didn't make any damn sense. Why the hell wouldn't her Mom just tell her Dad that and end this stupid turn that their fight had taken?

The next sound in the house was that of croaking as Linda struggled to get free and breathe. "Vince….I…ah…she's…your...daughter!"

Vince slammed her head into the refrigerator and watched as her eyes briefly rolled into the back of her head. "Stop lying to me, you alcoholic bitch! Tell me the truth or I swear to God I'll kill you right here and now," he threatened lowly.

Taking a deep breath for composure and courage, Stephanie opened her bedroom door fully and sprinted for the staircase. She had to stop her Dad from doing something he would regret. She had to try to put together the pieces of this family before they managed to fall apart even more than they already had. Stephanie was literally the only thing that bonded them; the only thing that they agreed on. She could help; get them to see sense and fix whatever the fuck was wrong with their relationship.

Linda winced and tried to tighten the muscles in her neck to prolong the inevitable. She couldn't call for help, really. Stephanie was likely completely knocked out upstairs. Her daughter would wake in the morning to find her dead, at the hands of the man who'd raised her. She couldn't allow that to happen. Maybe if she told the truth, Vince would release her. And she could explain. "She…she," Linda started, but trailed off as her oxygen supply dwindled. "Rod," she finally whispered.

"DAD, STOP!" Stephanie shouted as she ran into the kitchen and tugged on her father's arm to get him to loosen his hold.

Vince stumbled backwards as Stephanie tugged him away from her mother. He leaned against the counter for support and was only vaguely paying attention as Stephanie basically cradled Linda, as she coughed and got her bearings back.

Both women looked over at him with their wide, blue eyes. Manipulative blue eyes, if you asked him. Linda could lie right to his damn face for well over a decade and he hadn't picked up on it. Meanwhile Stephanie could get away with murder if she wanted to, simply because she was his little girl.

Except that…she wasn't really his little girl, now was she? As he watched her console her mother, something inside of him snapped. He walked over to the pair and grabbed each of them by the arm.

"Dad, what are you – hey, ow that hurts!" Stephanie complained as she and Linda were dragged through the kitchen and dining room.

Abruptly, Vince stopped "Don't call me that! Don't ever call me that again!"

"For God's sake Vince!" Linda chastised hoarsely. "This isn't her fault!"

"You shut the fuck up! You're a liar and a whore and-"

Running off of pure instinct, Stephanie's palm connected with Vince's cheek. As she watched his head spin around, she covered her mouth in horror. She was just…so fed up with all of the drama and fighting. She'd held her tongue for years, but she just couldn't anymore. Now she was literally involved in their squabbles, even if it was only to keep her Dad from killing her Mom.

Slowly, Vince turned his head towards her again. The look on his face sent a tiny shiver down her spine. He was looking at her in much the same way he looked at her mother, at times. He visibly tightened his jaw, before he uttered something Stephanie didn't immediately comprehend. "Get out."

"Dad, I-" Stephanie started, but was interrupted as both she and Linda were forcefully pulled by their arms again. "I'm sorry I hit you! I'm sorry!"

Vince ignored her and continued to lead the way to the front door. He couldn't stand to be around either one of them right now. Stephanie was too much like her mother and she'd just proven that. Furthermore, now that he knew the truth, he could see that she was like his late, older brother. The bastard was lucky that he was already dead. Otherwise, Vince would singlehandedly kill the man himself.

Running off of pure adrenaline, Vince threw open the door, ignoring the sound it made as it hit the wall. It was raining, but he didn't give a damn. He didn't give a damn about anything at this moment except for getting away from the two women who'd ruined his world and broken his heart. He grabbed their arms and made them go outside.

"Are you fucking crazy?" Linda yelled as the rain pelted her face and hair. "There's a storm! Where are we supposed to go?"

"She's not my daughter and as of this moment, you're not my wife. Where you go isn't my problem anymore. Now get the hell off my property before I call the police."

Stephanie's long brown hair was soaked and her sweats were already plastered to her body. She shivered in the cold and jumped a little bit when thunder rumbled behind them. "Daddy, please! Please! I don't know what I did, Dad. But I'll do better, I promise! Please," she pleaded with him, yanking on his arm.

Vigorously, Vince shook himself free of her grasp. Stephanie tripped backwards on the steps but didn't fall. "I never want to see either of you again," he said lowly.

It didn't feel like she was crying hysterically; the tears were mixing with the rain. She stood there with wet hair, wet clothes and an indescribable ache in her chest. Her arms hung limply at her sides while she watched her father slam the door right in her face. She swallowed hard and blinked, too shocked at what had just taken place.

"Come on, Stephanie," Linda said gently, placing her hands on her daughter's shoulders.

Lightly shaking her head to clear it of the horrible fog of confusion that had come over her, Stephanie rang the doorbell wildly. "Dad! Dad, stop being silly. Open the door," she cried and proceeded to hit it with her hand. "Come on, Dad. I'm cold and wet and…this isn't funny!"

Linda grabbed Stephanie by the waist and unsteadily began to lead them both from the porch. Her daughter's sobs broke her heart, but there was nothing that she could do for her. She wasn't even sure how the hell they were going to survive. By morning, Vince will have cancelled the credit cards and drained the bank accounts that she knew of. Quite frankly, they were screwed. Given that the only possessions they had, was what they were currently wearing, they'd be lucky if they could even get a hotel room tonight.

"DADDDDDDY," Stephanie yelled out once more as her mother continued to take them away from the only place that she knew as home.


To continue or not to continue? That is the question I pose to you guys!