Disclaimer: I own nothing associated with the WWE. I am simply a fan girl who feels compelled to visit their amazing and wonderful world now and then.

Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who is following or has added this story to their favorites list. I am still at a loss for words that so many of you are actually reading my work. For those of you who have taken time to review my work; you guys are amazing to me. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. With every chapter, I feel more and more outside of my comfort zone. You guys make taking the leap more than worth it! I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to update this story. First I was out of town for a while. Getting back to work, and dealing with life and family in general was busy enough. Just when I thought I was ready to write, I realized that I had the worst case of writer's block. Special thanks go out to Taker Always for listening to me vent and helping me work through it. I also need to send a special thanks to everyone who emailed me to "check up" on me and the status of this great little story xoxoxoxox OZ

Chapter 22


(Mercedes P.O.V.)

Just seconds before, I'd been giggling at the thought of dancing for John. The thought of cuffing him to the bed bubbling over; excitement and a slow building new found confidence filling me. Seeing my uncle standing at the counter with John instantly froze every thought. Would he understand? Judging by the coldness flashing in his usually warm eyes – I guessed understanding wasn't an option at the moment.

"Mercedes Carol-Ann…What?" His words trailing off as he gazed back and forth between John and me.

"What are you doing here Uncle Paul?" I agreed to come to Florida with John – never expecting that anyone would – especially my family turn up. A sense of regret quickly settled in. Whatever this was between John and I was still so new and wonderful to me. I wasn't sure that I wanted to share it with the world yet. Uncle Paul had been my hero for nearly my entire life I didn't want to lump him in with the rest of the world; but judging by the icy stare he was currently giving both me and John I didn't think I was going to have much choice. My mind was racing at what felt like a million miles an hour. So what I was being a little selfish keeping me and John a secret. I broadcast my last relationship from every rooftop and look at how well that turned out. No I had every right to keep this between John and me alone for as long as I could. 'Well' shouted the annoying little voice in my head 'times up.'

In the end with Jake I began hiding everything, making excuses, over reacting, I was defensive and secretive about everything. I always felt the need to explain myself –to make everyone understand my decisions. The past need to explain myself slowly started to wrap it's self around me. "No!" my mind screamed. This wasn't me and Jake – this was me and John. Whatever was going on here I didn't want to explain it away the way I had everything else. I wanted – needed to see where this thing with John and I was going; and sure I wanted my family to be a part of that. Sure John and my uncle had been friends for a long time, but I wanted him to see John the way I did. Seeing my uncle standing there watching me and John I realized that ready or not the time had come to share whatever this was between the two of us with the world. I wanted everyone who mattered to me to know that I was…well that John and I were… The truth is I didn't know what the bloody hell John and I were and I didn't care. I could tell the whole world that and I would be perfectly happy. I was finally felt like I was making positive decisions in my life. I wanted my family to be a part of that and to respect that.

Without as much as a brief glance in my direction Paul laughed mirthlessly. "I believe I asked you first Mercedes. You know what… save your words Mercedes; I'm more interested what John here has to say." Turning his cold gaze directly on John he spoke low and nearly lethal. "What's going on here old friend? Since when do you fuck around with my niece like she's one of your usual whores?"

I flinched at my uncles cold words. Is that truly what he thought of the women in one of his best friend's lives? Is that what he thought of me for being with John? Without looking at John, I could instantly feel his anger growing. I physically jerked at the quiet warning in his next words, "You need to watch your damned mouth Paul before…"

"Before what John?" He challenged without advancing towards him.

"Before you cross line you can't come back from." John retorted with deadly calm.

"Uncle Paul" I began with greater calm than I knew I possessed. "You're my uncle and I love you dearly, but that doesn't give you the right to come in here and insult me or the man I love."

There was no emotion in my uncle's eyes as my words sunk in. I expected him to say something anything, but my words were met with silence. I'd never heard my uncle's laughter sound so cold and hateful in my life. "Don't you think you've already crossed that line John? All you had to do was fucking baby-sit John that's it nothing more. You know what never mind, don't say anything just fix this mess! Fix this mess and fix it fast." Turning away from the counter, Paul marched outside without another word to either of us. I watched in grim fascination as my uncle stormed to the door. As angry as he was, I was certain the slamming door would mark his exit; the quiet click caught me off guard. In all my life, I couldn't remember a time when me and Uncle Paul fought about anything. A part of me wanted to run after him – to hammer this out here and now. I listened as the roar of his engine rattled my already scattered thoughts. Facing the door a million scenarios played through my mind in seconds. If I ran I could catch him. I could plead with him to understand. I could ask for his acceptance. I could argue, scream, yell, and curse until we both dropped from exhaustion.

Shifting gears my words looped over and over again as if a broken record "Love…man I love," I had just declared my love for John. Every fiber of my being was screaming "Holy shit!" Moments ago I was debating what this was between John and I; suddenly its love. "What the bloody hell is wrong with you" my mind screamed? Did I love John? Was I even sure I knew what love was anymore? This thing with John and I was like flying blind all the damned time. How could I do something so freaking insane? How could I just blurt out "man I love" in front of John and my uncle like that? In a flash of clarity I realized none of it mattered. I was looking at everything all wrong. Sure I could race outside – chase my uncle down, but to what end? What would I accomplish? Neither of us was ready to talk; at least not rationally. Besides what would it matter if we did? In that moment, I realized that I'd spent the last year or more of my life 'chasing after' something – someone, a situation that was so wrong. For the first time in more than a year I was finally 'chasing' something that felt so right, I wasn't ready to give that up not yet.


(John's P.O.V.)

I couldn't take my eyes off of Mercedes. She had used the word love. Holy fuck! Did she really believe that she loved me? Did I love her? Was she even thinking clearly – maybe she was just trying to make a point. She told me that she would handle her uncle when the time came; and here she was attempting to do just that. Problem was handling me and her uncle was hurting her. I didn't watch Paul storm from the house; I watched Mercedes. I saw the hurt, confusion, indecision – all of it building in her beautiful dark eyes. Damn Paul Levesque's shitty ass timing; the door's soft click announcing his final departure. As his rental car roared to life – I watched the indecision playing across Cedes face. A part of her wanted to run after Paul. Would I try and stop her if she did? What would she say to him if she did? Would he convince her to leave with him? I didn't want her to leave. I had no freaking ass clue how to handle things if she stayed. I knew the minute her decision was made. I could see the clarity clearing her eyes. Whatever was going on inside that beautiful little head of hers, she had decided to stay.

"Mercedes…." I began slowly patiently. She may have decided to stay but staying wouldn't be easy. "Dammit" I mumbled. Acting on instinct more so than common sense; I took her hand and pulled her into my arms. Folding myself around her, I held her close and tight. I slowly ran my hand up and down her back. I simply needed to feel her – to feel her breathing in my arms. Pushing back from my embrace, Mercedes smile was brief – if even a little a little broken. "John what's going on between you and my uncle; all that talk about babysitting and fix this?"

Dammit shit was really going to hit the fan now – I thought humorlessly. I'd pushed Mercedes for weeks now about the truth and being honest with me. Truth was I hadn't been completely honest with her. Standing there with my arms still wrapped loosely around her waist I cursed myself a damned fool. I could have told her. We were alone often enough that I could have told her. So why didn't I? Why didn't I tell her? "Do you remember the night we met?" I asked buying myself some time hoping to choose my words carefully.

"Of course I do – in Uncle Paul's office my first night on the job. Why?"

"After you left the office, your uncle mentioned that you would be working for him and traveling as part of the shows."

"So…?" she questioned when my words trailed off.

"He told me…" I pushed forward "he told me that you'd had a really rough go of it lately. He asked me to befriend you – to look after you on the road." There it was out, I'd said it – no more secrets between us.

Pulling away from me, Mercedes wandered the kitchen aimlessly a moment maybe two before stopping; the large center island between us. "To look after me on the road." She repeated more to herself than to me. She laughed, a cold ugly sound, so unlike the rich warmth I was used to coming from her. "I guess he wasn't specific enough huh? Your babysitting duties didn't include paddling my ass until I came like…what was the word he used? Oh yeah like all the other whores in your life."

"Dammit Cedes, don't….don't do that baby girl. Don't go there. "I demanded planting both hands on the island facing her head on.

"When this became whatever it is between us you should have told me." Score one for Mercedes, effectively throwing my own words back at me.

Fucking hell my mind screamed having my own words used against me. I watched as she walked out of the kitchen heading back towards that damned play room. I rushed to catch up to her. She and I needed to talk but not in there. I couldn't have this conversation in there – I just couldn't. I think I surprised her a little when I reached out taking her by the wrist. I led us both back towards the living room. Sitting down in my favorite overstuffed white leather recliner, I pulled her down into my lap. Tucking my finger under her chin I forced her to look at me. The pure honest emotions glistening in her dark chocolate eyes hit me like a sucker punch to the gut. I nearly wished that she would just start crying. At this point I figured her tears would be easier to deal with. "I'm sorry Mercedes." There I'd said it I was wrong – I apologized – now what?

"Why John – why didn't you tell me? You badgered me for my truth; why didn't you tell me yours?" Fair question…fair question that I had no damned answer for – my mind was completely blank.

"I need to know John; do you want me in your life? Was I just some unexpected convenient reward for babysitting?"

"Mercedes…You" my thoughts left unfinished as she spoke once more.

"Despite what my uncle obviously thinks, I'm not some broken damned doll that needs looking after. Tell me the truth John; are you in my life because he asked or because you want to be?"

I started to speak, only to be cut off once more. To hell with this I thought. Tucking my finger under her soft delicate chin I tilted her eyes to mine. I smiled as she continued to ramble on; all the deftly trying to avoid my gaze. I listened to her for a moment longer, unable to take my eyes off her beautiful face. Brushing the pad of my thumb across her lower lip, I claimed her mouth is slow, soft, wet kiss. Breaking the soft, all too brief contact, was nearly painful. "Cedes, I'm an asshole. I admit that. I should have told you everything before now." I murmured softly before claiming her month once more. My tongue instantly dueled with hers. Pulling back my thumb once more traced her lower lip. "Baby-girl you're here because I want you here; not because of any damn thing you're uncle did or did not say. I wouldn't have brought you or shared with you all that I have if I didn't want you here."


(Mercedes P.O.V.)

I wanted to believe him – I really did. Caressing his right cheek, I studied his face. "John," I wasn't sure I knew what to say or even how to say it. I let that little worm of self-doubt cloud my words and my voice. "You're sure this is what you want?"

His lips claimed mine in rough, hard, passionate kiss – a kiss that made me cave. Suddenly his tongue was sweeping the inside of my mouth. His hands cupped the sides of my face; deepening the kiss at every turn. Slipping his hands into my long tangled hair – his lips moved to caressing up and down the right side of my neck. Turning slowly, I straddled his lap more firmly.

My mind warred with indecision vs. raw emotion and need. I knew this conversation wasn't over. I should say something. I should pull back. If I had been nobler or stronger maybe I would have, but when I heard him whisper, "Let me show you just how much I want you here" I caved.

Nodding I giggled when he stood – forcing me to wrap my legs around him. With my arms around his neck and my legs around his waist he continued the long slow deep kiss as he headed for the stairs. "The play-room is closer," I whispered tenderly.

"Fuck the play-room," John whispered back. "I want you upstairs in my room – my bed!" His words made me shiver. I couldn't explain it. To most I'm sure that the thoughts running through my head right that moment would sound utterly ridiculous. His words, his expression, I believed him. I was here because he wanted me to be.

Three hours later I woke up – up stairs tangled up in John and the black cotton sheets in the middle of his bed. He looked so peaceful in sleep. I didn't want to wake him. For a long time I was content to simply laid perfectly still and watch him rest. After a while, I grew restless. Quietly and carefully, as not to wake him, I slipped from bed. Snatching I pair of old black yoga pants and a t-shirt from the top of my bag along with my cell phone I slipped from the room and downstairs. After showering in the smaller downstairs bathroom; I padded noiselessly to the living room.

Wrapping up in an adorable old blue throw laying across the back of the large wrap around sofa I made myself comfortable. Picking up the television remote, I muted the volume as I skimmed through the channels. Settling on an old 'Doctor Who' re-run; I left the volume off and picked up my phone. Scanning through my text messages I wasn't surprised that there were two from my aunt asking me to call her when I had a moment alone.


(John's P.O.V.)

Rolling over I reached for Mercedes – only to keep reaching. Sitting up I scrubbed a hand across my face. Sliding from bed I grabbed a pair of jeans and hurriedly slipped them on. Making my way downstairs, I could hear Mercedes talking on the phone. Standing in the living room doorway, I watched her all curled up in the center of the sofa. My heart lurched, she looked so damned adorable all wrapped up in that old ugly afghan. Moving to announce myself, her words stopped me cold. "I love him Aunt Stephanie and nothing Uncle Paul says or does is going to change that."

Author's Note: I hope that there is still someone out there still reading this little tale. I know that this chapter is a short one. For all of your patience you definitely deserve one three times as long. I've waited so long to update that although this little adventure is far from over I felt I owed it to all of you to get something posted sooner rather than later. Please if your still reading I hope that you still review. Please enjoy ! Xoxoxoxoxoxo - OZ