Saturday, April 4, 2009
Paul Levesque turned his head the slightest bit, as if that would somehow make his wife, Stephanie's response sound clearer from across the expanse of the hotel suite. "Steph, are you almost ready?"
The door opened, making hardly a sound. Stephanie poked her head out, a small frown gracing her features. "Oh sure, I'm ready. With the exception of me still not having anything to wear."
Shaking his head, Paul went back to the task of putting on his socks and shoes. God, ten years ago it was practically like pulling teeth to get him to dress up in what he'd like to think of as "penguin attire." Now it seemed as if he was wearing a suit every other day, at the very least.
And this was Houston, Texas. In April. It certainly wasn't the hottest weather that the city would receive in the coming weeks and months…but still. It was pretty damn hot to him. Yet here he was, all covered up in this godforsaken formal attire. He really did love celebrating the legends that were to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He did. But at the moment he'd like nothing more than to head down to the pool with his currently frustrated, but always exceptionally gorgeous, wife.
"Babe, I told you to bring a backup dress, just in case," he reminded her casually.
A wad of material hit him on the side of the head. He lifted his hand and pulled it away, tossing the item to the floor. "Throwing your towel at me. Nice, Steph," he commented sarcastically. He wasn't mad at her. Hell, he wasn't even annoyed. Stephanie could be extremely business-like or extremely playful. It all depended on the environment she was in and what deadline or project was coming up. She was being semi-playful now, but he wished it was under different circumstances. Circumstances that wouldn't have her pretty little ass skewered to a platter by morning.
Stephanie folded her arms and leaned against the doorway to the bathroom. "Reminding me of the fact that I didn't listen to you is not helping, Paul."
"Can't you…I don't know," he waved his hands in random circular motions to demonstrate his point, "call up some dress shop and have a dress delivered?"
Stephanie's eyes widened so much that he momentarily feared that they may get stuck that way. "It's after six! Most stores are closed. Even if one was open, there's no way they could get a dress here, tailored to my size before we have to leave."
Paul twisted his lip, muttering thoughtfully. "Okay well what if we go dress shopping right now, before the limo gets here?" Stephanie opened her mouth to object to the idea but Paul held up a finger so that he could continue with his train of thinking. "You won't have time to get it tailored…and we'd obviously be late getting there…but you can't go to the damn thing naked or in just your underwear, Steph." At her dull stare, he decided to elaborate. "I mean even if you were comfortable with that…and God knows how I love it when you've got on less layers. I mean, what guy wouldn't? Especially me, cause I'm married to you and we get to do all sorts of-" he rambled with a faraway look in his eyes.
"PAUL!" Stephanie interrupted, placing her hands on her hips. "The point?" She asked. She bit down on her lip and hoped that it was somehow keep her cheeks from reddening any more than they most certainly already had.
"Oh. Right," he commented. Blinking for a moment to get himself focused, he cleared his throat before continuing. "My point is that while I don't think of myself as an overly jealous or controlling husband there's absolutely no way in fucking hell I'd let you leave this room like that."
Stephanie tilted her head from side to side and shrugged. "Fair enough."
"The other point is that we're running out of options for you, here. Maybe you just won't be able to go," he said calmly as he stood up from the bed.
One of them had to have a cool head here. God knows it wouldn't be Steph. Not in this situation. It wasn't like she hadn't prepared for tonight. She had everything ready to go, with the exception of the dress – arguably the most important piece, besides the woman herself. Back on the East Coast, she'd had a last minute alteration done to the dress. But because of their flight schedule, she was unable to pick it up herself. So out of all the possible ways to solve the problem, she'd chosen to pay Neiman Marcus to ship the damn thing to Houston, directly to the store's local cleaning extension so that any wrinkles could be steamed out. Then, the dress would be brought here by a company representative.
It really wasn't a horrible plan, had the timing of everything not been so…precise. One small flaw and her arrangements and her evening would go straight to hell. Paul had suggested that she bring along a second choice in attire. But, no. Stephanie had absolutely fallen in love with whatever evening gown she was just about ready to tear her hair out over. She'd said that when she saw the gown, she just had to have it. It was "the one." Love at first sight. He'd poked fun at her about that, noting that she didn't even fall in love with him, her very own husband, at first sight. He'd promptly been backhanded in the chest and shut his mouth afterwards.
So the plan remained the same: toss all her eggs in one terribly constructed basket.
And unfortunately for Stephanie, the basket seemed to be dropping rapidly.
"I…I c-can't not be at the ceremony," she stuttered incredulously. "The Board of Directors will lose their shit and so will my parents. I mean I paid for the expedited shipping and all that, that – what do you call it…" she trailed off, narrowing her eyes in concentration for a moment. "That convenience travel package shit…so I don't understand why the dress isn't here yet."
Paul crossed the room until he reached her. He rubbed her upper arms reassuringly. "Steph, stop freaking out. Okay? From the sound of things, there's literally nothing you can do at this point. You just have to wait it out and hope that the dress arrives in time."
Stephanie's bottom lip jutted out in a completely serious pout. Her eyes were filled with sadness that he felt totally powerless to take away. "Babyyy," she whined, snuggling her head underneath his chin. "Fix it," she requested, wrapping her arms around his waist.
Paul sighed and pressed a kiss to her temple. "I would if I could. You know that, right?" Her head moved up and down, which he was going to assume was an affirmative nod. "I guess we'll just have to sit this year out," he concluded out loud.
Feeling her pull away suddenly, Paul looked down at her.
"What? We can't both miss the hall of fame. You should go," she insisted.
"I'd rather be with you," he said with a careless shrug.
Redness stained Stephanie's cheeks and she couldn't help but send him a wide smile. He was the most charming man she'd ever met. Not because he had clever lines and a prepared answer for every scenario. It was because he was so honest…and he honestly just flat out loved her and thought the world of her.
The man had grown up watching wrestling and had worked his entire adult life to reach the business that her family had created. Then he'd worked even harder to reach the top of their business, only to risk it all on a relationship with her. She literally meant more to him than everything. There was nothing more charming and thoughtful than that.
Her hands lifted to tug on the collar of his shirt, pulling him down just far enough so that she could kiss him on the lips. Paul returned the embrace, stepping closer to her and planting a hand on her waist.
A few moments later, they broke apart and Paul couldn't stop his smile from spreading. "What did I do to deserve that?"
"Same thing I did to deserve you: nothing. You just exist as is."
Paul's next statement was on its way out, when a knock on the hotel room door startled them both. Stephanie jumped back, placing her hand over her heart. "OH MY GOD!" She exclaimed. "It's here! It's gotta be! Eep!" She squealed, shoving him out of the way and running for the door.
"One minute she's goo-goo over me and the next she's goo-goo over a dress. Women. So fickle," he muttered and dutifully followed behind her, just in case the person at the door wasn't who she assumed it was. On the way, he straightened out his collar and tie, which his lovely wife happened to have messed up with her random mauling.
Stephanie reached the door first, unlocked it and was about to yank it open, but Paul put a hand on her arm and gently tugged her until she was behind him. Stephanie playfully rolled her eyes. He was being mildly overprotective as usual. Not that she minded, because it was pretty damn cute how much he worried about her. Most of the time. Right now he was delaying the unveiling of her gorgeous evening gown.
Behind Paul, she bounced excitedly while the garment bag was handed over to him and he tipped the carrier.
"Open it, open it, open it!" She commanded, clapping her hands excitedly.
Paul kicked the door shut and turned to Stephanie with a disbelieving stare. "Good God, woman. You weren't even this excited when we found out you were pregnant with Aurora."
Waving a hand dismissively she countered with, "Oh, whatever," as she followed him over to the closet.
"This dress better be spectacular, I'm telling you that now. All this damn trouble and stressing out," he muttered as he hung the dress up and began to take the protective covering off. "Wow," he said.
The dress was sparkly and gold. And it was a halter top that seemed like it would expose the majority of her back. A very, very perfect back, if you asked him for his opinion. He could see why she fell in love with this dress. It seemed completely perfect for her. Honestly, he was speechless at the mere daydream he had of her in the long, flowing gown.
Nodding her head in approval, Stephanie smirked in triumph at the fact that her husband was speechless. It was how she'd reacted when she first saw the dress. "Exxxxxactly," she commented, removing the gown from its hanger and draping it over her arms. "I may need you to tie it for me."
Paul shook his head, declining her potential request. "Steph…I kid you not. If I have to touch you before we're around other people, we're not making it to the ceremony. That'd be a shame since you went to all this trouble, I'm just saying," he said, holding his hands up in his defense as he stepped away from her.
Stephanie's eyes widened momentarily. "What? Why would – oh!" She exclaimed as she finally realized what he was getting at. She grinned at him brightly. "Well then! I suppose I can manage on my own," she decided before happily skipping off in the direction of the bathroom.
Paul shook his head over her excitement, although he couldn't blame her. No matter what she wore or did with or to her hair, the woman was a complete knockout to him. She could wear a fucking paper sack as an outfit, dye her hair orange, pile it on top of her head and still be stunning.
She was also extremely intelligent. Which is why she knew better than to test his restraint. She'd know firsthand that he basically had none when it came to her. If she was up for some adult fun, so was he. Given that she was almost always up for that, it tended to lead to…situations.
Like, sometimes he was just kidding around with her and wasn't really trying to get her attention sexually…yet she'd just about jump him anyway. And not always in the most appropriate of locations.
Hmm. Though the rest of their family was sharing a limousine, Stephanie had declined the invitation when it was extended to them. Once they'd split off from everyone, he'd quizzed her on why she rejected the offer. Basically it was because she wanted to spend some time alone with him. It seemed there was always, but always someone around. She loved their family - especially their two daughters - but it was important to her that they steal each other away whenever possible, even if it was just for a few minutes. Her rationale was sweet, yet logical. He actually agreed with her wholeheartedly.
But now? Now he was going to relish being alone in the limo for entirely different reasons.
Oops, he hadn't meant to think that last part. Quality time with the wife. The absolute love of his life. That's what was important. That's what the ten to fifteen minute ride should be about.
"Ready!" Stephanie announced as she walked into the room, holding up her gown just enough so that she wouldn't trip.
Paul felt like he was taking his crush to the high school prom all over again. Except that the woman he was waiting on was far more stunning, plus his excitement and his affection for said woman ran far too deeply for it to be anything even remotely close to déjà vu. "You're beautiful," he commented simply.
Redness stained her cheeks, even though warmth spread throughout her chest. The way he was looking at her was just – well, she didn't have words to describe how he made her feel. Loved and gorgeous were the only two that could come close. "Thank you," she said bashfully.
"Don't play modest, Stephanie McMahon – formerly Marie – Levesque. You knew quite well what you were doing when you chose that dress."
"I hardly chose the dress. It chose me! It was just there and it was sparkly…and-and pretty and just so…perfect that I didn't even care how much it was."
Paul tilted his head curiously. "Hmm…how much was that anyway?"
"Babe!" She said quickly, smacking him lightly with her hand. "We don't have time for this, we gotta go!" Run away, Steph. The dress will distract him long enough to forget he ever asked that, she told herself repeatedly.
Hazel eyes narrowed suspiciously at her form making a beeline for the hotel room door. He followed her, shutting the door behind them. "You know, that sentence was more words than just telling me the price," he pointed out.
"But…don't you just love this dress?" She asked, doing a little twirl for him in the hallway. "I mean my back looks amazing and it just fits me so well."
Paul nodded his head in agreement but looked otherwise undeterred from his line of questioning.
Stephanie held up her index finger to stop him from speaking again, smiling hugely. "And!" She declared. "Just think: when the ceremony is over you have less material to fumble with. This thing?" She said, tugging very lightly at the knot she'd made behind her neck. "Well it'll come right off. You can't put a price on quicker access to some lovin' with your wife. I mean, come on."
"Let's try," he challenged, grabbing her hand to keep her from escaping from him again. "Three grand?"
"Nope," she said simply as they walked together down the hall.
Paul blew out a breath and tried again. "Five?"
Stephanie shook her head in the negative as they stopped to call up an elevator.
"Eight?" He questioned incredulously. "You spent eight thousand dollars on a dress you're probably only gonna wear once? Including all the alterations and having the damn thing shipped here and delivered by some preppy looking guy?"
Stephanie noticeably winced. "Oh," she said lowly. "Well," she began reluctantly. "If we're including those added fees…umm, I spent…umm, fifteen?" She said, half as a question.
"I hope you mean fifteen hundred," Paul said dryly.
"If it helps you feel better, then yes," she confirmed with a decisive nod. "I totally mean fifteen hundred and did not spend on a one-time evening gown what some people spend on the sticker price of a car."
Paul scratched at his stubbly chin for a moment while he considered everything. The elevator opened, and the occupants stepped aside to let them on. Paul pulled Stephanie forward a little bit and allowed her to go in first. He tilted his head as he admired her back and her ass in the dress. Well, it wasn't like they didn't have the money to cover this – and then some. She'd make it back very quickly. Plus, they both worked damn hard and deserved to splurge, at least every now and then.
And given the wonderful view he was going to get all night, the fucking thing was well worth every damn penny she'd spent. "Meh. Whatever," he decided, pressing a kiss against her cheek as the elevator doors closed.
Paul and Stephanie exited the hotel lobby, walking at a leisurely pace towards the man holding up a sign that read, "Paul Levesque." Paul caught the man's attention held up a hand to signify that they were the ones he was waiting on.
As they got closer, Paul appraised their chauffeur for this evening. He was young – perhaps no older than his mid-twenties. His face was clean shaven and underneath the hat, Paul could tell that his hair was jet black, curly and cut very low. The kid was maybe six feet tall and built rather sturdily. He worked out, but wasn't on the level of a bodybuilder. Paul was able to gather all of this, because his senses went on high alert just because of the way the guy was gawking at Stephanie with his mouth hanging open. Literally.
"I, er," the younger man stammered. "Good evening, Mr. Levesque…and Miss?" He asked, his gaze staying on Stephanie the entire time that he spoke.
Paul's eyes widened for a moment at the blatant lack of respect. Did the boy not see them holding hands and generally looking like the married couple that they were? It was hard to miss the rock he'd bought her to symbolize his eternal love for her; the damn thing was huge and practically blinded people, even in pictures. "MISSUS Levesque," Paul interrupted quickly.
"This is my husband," she confirmed. "You can just call us Paul and Stephanie, we don't mind."
"I mind," Paul disagreed.
Stephanie waved her hand to apologize for her husband. If she wasn't mistaken he was a little…bothered by the attention she was getting. From the chauffeur. This was going to be hilarious if she was right. "Don't mind him; he's just mad that he had to dress up. The event we're attending tonight is very formal."
The kid nodded graciously before flashing her a bright, white smile. "I understand, Miss Stephanie. A woman of your caliber would only go to the finest of events."
Stephanie laughed briefly. "You're too kind. What's your name?"
"My name is Adrian."
Stephanie practically felt Paul rolling his eyes, but she definitely heard him sigh in what he'd want her to assume was boredom. She grinned at the scene unfolding before her. Paul's feathers were ruffled by this kid. Hah! This ride was going to be interesting, she thought giddily. "Pleased to meet you," she said politely, extending her hand.
Adrian grabbed her hand, gently bringing it up towards his lips. "The pleasure is all mine."
The little punk was putting the moves on his wife. Right the hell in front of him. Clearly he had no idea who they were. Or better yet, who he was. He was Triple Fucking H. He would break a little shit like him if they got into a fight. "How charming," Paul said sarcastically, grabbing Stephanie's hand in mid-air, before it could be contaminated. "Look, kid, no disrespect but we kind of have places to go." Paul gestured to their door impatiently, since it was still closed and at this rate, wasn't going to be opened anytime soon unless he intervened.
"Oh – I umm….yes, yes, of course! Of course!" Adrian exclaimed, practically falling all over himself as he scrambled to open the door for them. Fuck…he needed this job. It was the only thing funding his college education at this point. He couldn't mess it up over a woman. An exceptionally hot and obviously rich woman, but still! He had to made sure how got the actual job done. And done well.
Paul scooted across the seat until he was beside Stephanie. He reached over to activate the privacy screen. The last thing he wanted was to listen to Adrian flirt with his wife the entire ride over. Once the screen was secured, he sat back and placed an arm around Stephanie's shoulders, drawing her close.
"Must you be so rude to the poor kid?" Stephanie asked.
Paul gestured to himself and eyed her disbelievingly. "I'm rude? He was practically undressing you with his eyes!"
"He was just being chivalrous and polite, Paul."
"Like hell he was! All trying to charm and probably steal my woman while I'm standing right there," he muttered bitterly as the driver took off.
"Well…you gotta give him credit for his bravery, if that's what he was truly doing. I mean if I were him, I'd be scared shitless to do that, in front of you," she flirted, rubbing her hand up and down his arm.
"Damn right," Paul said, nodding his head in agreement before bringing her hand up to his lips.
"You can't possibly tell me you're threatened by the kid, though," she commented innocently.
Paul screwed up his face in distaste. "I'm not threatened by that little punk. I'm just annoyed. Like, who the hell does he think he is? And now we have to ride with him to and from the ceremony. You know?"
"Uh huh," Stephanie said in a very understanding tone.
For most of the ride, Stephanie remained silent and was content just to cuddle into his side. Paul's reasoning for having a problem riding to and from the ceremony with this particular driver wasn't the whole story. In fact, the young man couldn't even speak to them because the privacy screen was up. She'd neglect to point out that little detail to her husband. For now. Maybe on the ride back she would bring it up…and then once she was done having her fun at his expense, she'd make it up to him in the hotel.
As they finally pulled up in front of the event's location, though, she just couldn't resist poking fun at him. "They say a teeny bit of jealousy is good for relationships."
"Hold it! I am not jealous of any man walking God's green Earth. Certainly not him. I'm taller, cuter, I have more muscles, a better career and most importantly, I have you. Little fucker can suck it! So…there," he decided, crossing his arms and leaning back into the comfortable leather of the stretch limousine.
"Aww," Stephanie gushed, lifting her hand to pinch his cheek. "My baby is jealous."
"I am not!"
"Either you're jealous or you're upset that Adrian didn't find you scary enough to prevent him from flirting with me."
"Aha!" Paul exclaimed, pointing a finger at her. "So you admit he was flirting!"
Stephanie shrugged and batted her eyelashes in innocence.
Paul scoffed and turned his head away from her. "Don't start with the eyes, Steph. You were being receptive to the flirting to piss me off, weren't you?"
All right, so she got caught far quicker than she'd anticipated. Hell, she knew she should have left it alone until the ride back to the hotel. She had to think of something to defend herself. To convey her lack of knowledge and throw him off. She panicked internally, racking her brain for a quick explanation that was believable, but not a lie.
"What?" She asked, partially in a squeak. "Nooooo," she claimed, feeling completely lame once the word was out of her mouth.
Paul shook his head and scooted away from her, just as the chauffeur pulled the door open.
"Aw shit," Stephanie said under her breath, scooting across the seat after him. Adrian helped her out of the car and closed the door for her. She smiled and thanked him quickly before pursuing her husband.
"Baby?" She asked, moving as fast as she could. Which wasn't very fast at all, to be honest. Damn dress. Fucking…shoes!
Stephanie finally caught up to Paul, grabbing his hand to try to slow him down. She needed to look into his eyes to determine whether or not he was actually mad or just messing with her.
"Trips! Steph!" One of the coordinators yelled, rushing towards them. Both Paul and Stephanie were almost forcefully led to the position where they were to enter. They had barely waved to her mom, brother and sister-in-law before they stepped forward into the arena. "You guys are just in time. Okay…go!" They were instructed and just about thrust forward into the Reliant Center to an already cheering crowd.
Stephanie, instinctively, beamed as she walked forward with Paul. The audience had already been going wild. When they emerged, things definitely escalated into just being plain ballistic, though. She'd be damned if it wasn't extremely flattering. She looked around, taking in the awesome scene for a few seconds.
Turning to Paul, she was still smiling like she was high on painkillers. He was apparently avoiding her gaze deliberately. But whatever. Even if he was mad, he'd get over it eventually. Like…in a few hours once she had her dirty way with him, at the very most.
Dismissing those thoughts, she turned away and resumed looking around. They walked side by side until they reached a group of people in the way. Paul stopped short, touching the small of her back so that she'd go first.
A little jolt of heat rushed through her at that precise moment. And it wasn't just at the fact that he was touching her. He was somehow transmitting his feelings for her through the gesture. She walked on, but glanced back as he lengthened his stride to catch up. She grinned at him as he grabbed her hand again, pulling her closer to him than she had been previously. "You're not mad," she said matter of factly.
Paul tried not to, but even pressing his lips into a tight line couldn't stop the truth from showing on his face. "Just…ugh. Let's get to our seats, woman," he decided.
To herself, she giggled while they walked to the front. Paul stood while she gathered her dress and took her seat next to her Mom. Paul sat down between her and his nephew, Peter.
"You think I'm gorgeousssss, you can't stay maaaaad at me," she sang lowly, giggling at her reference to "Miss Congeniality."
"So what?" He fired back at her. "We're still gonna ride with the rest of the family back to the hotel."
Stephanie shrugged nonchalantly. That was fair. "As long as you aren't mad and still love me I'm fine with that."
"Of course I do. Pretending to be mad was my payback, dear."
Stephanie clucked her tongue and nodded. "All right, I deserved that."
"That was only part of what you deserve. I plan to get my twelve thousand dollars' worth, plus extra for my pain and suffering for watching and listening to that geek drool all over you."
Stephanie bit down on her tongue to avoid pointing out the obvious: Paul was still jealous. She kept her smart remark to herself, rubbing his thigh affectionately before intertwining her hand with his. "Fifteen thousand," she corrected with a huge smile right as the induction ceremony began.
BIG THANKS to those who let me bounce ideas off of them and helped me fill in a couple of blanks for this. It's the usual suspects, obviously so no need for me to name names LOL. I hope you all enjoyed this! Let me know!