Chapter 1


“John, will you stop touching me?” Jalyse Carlton whispered harshly at her boyfriend of three years, sighing when he refused to listen to her, and yelped when his hand slid down past the waist of her skirt.


She smacked his hand, causing him to growl back at her, and glared back at him for his troubles.  They were on a red eye flight headed straight for Houston, Texas for the summer.  John was on summer vacation from his wrestling school, Ohio Valley Wrestling, and Jalyse decided to let him tag along for this three month journey.  Speaking of Journey, she couldn’t wait to see her cousin.  They were called the J twins, had been that way since they were little, and Jalyse hadn’t seen her in three years.  School was hectic and it was hard to find time, especially when she had academics to achieve and to visit John whenever she could.  She was starting to regret bringing him along because he was being extremely annoying at the moment.


John ignored the glare, smiling way too sweetly at her as he stroked her through her panties, his blue eyes gleaming with wicked intentions.  They seemed to do a lot when it came to her.  “Oh come on, J, lighten up baby.” He cooed, leaning over to gently nuzzle her neck before sitting back in his seat, not bothering to remove his hand.  He raised an eyebrow up at her, challenging her.


“John, I’m warning you…” She threatened quietly through gritted teeth and sucked in a sharp breath when he refused to stop stroking her through her panties.  She couldn’t believe she actually wore a damned skirt, especially with this horn ball for a boyfriend she had.  She took his hand, smacking it once more, this time really hard to where it could be heard, and crossed her legs tightly.  Her body was already lit on fire and he just made it worse, which in turn, made her irritable.  “You need to stop this before you end up getting us in trouble.” She stated, keeping her voice down, and smiled when the stewardess passed by them, thanking the stars she’d stopped John prior to her arrival, and sighed.


“Jeez J…” John snorted, rolling his eyes skyward.  “How bout we head back to the bathroom then?  Join the mile high club?” At her not amused expression, John held up his hands in an ‘I give up’ gesture.  “It was just a joke, baby!” He protested, looking completely innocent.  After a few minutes of silence, he took her hand in his, leaning over.  “So…how bout it?” That wicked gleam was back in his blue orbs.


“Do you want me to pull your scrotum over your head so you can lick your own balls?” She growled back at him, slipping her hand from his, and sighed when he gave her the eyes.  Those damned blue puppy dog eyes that she could never resist.  Jalyse raked a hand through her hair.  “John, can’t we wait until we’re somewhere SECLUDED?  I don’t feel like getting busted, alright?” She reasoned with him, stroking his face tenderly with the back of her hand, and proceeded to stare out the window.


John sighed heavily, like she had mortally wounded him before resting his head on her shoulder.  “Now…remind me again why we’re vacationing in Texas when we could’ve gone to Cancun or something?” He asked conversationally, not one to generally sit still or be quiet for long periods of time.


Sighing resignedly, Jalyse turned so her eyes met his and raked her hand through her soft black hair as she shook her head.  “We’re going to see my cousin Journey and her boyfriend.  I haven’t met him yet and they’ve been together for around two years now.  We’re staying out there for the summer because it’s beautiful, peaceful and tons of fun.  Does that sound fine to you?” She questioned, raising an eyebrow at her boyfriend, her lips pursed together tightly, clearly looking annoyed.


John smiled down at her, his blue eyes twinkling, and leaned forward to kiss her pursed lips.  “Sounds great, baby.  As long as I don’t have to do none of that cowboy junk.  You aren’t getting me in chaps and spurs.” He joked, trying to lighten her mood.  “Smile for me, J, come on, just one smile.” He grinned broadly, watching the corners of her mouth twitch.  “You know you want to.”


She couldn’t help it.  He was too adorable for his own damned good as she smiled softly back at him.  She ran her fingers through his hair and down to his neck, massaging it gently, and kissed his lips before pulling back.  “If you behave for the rest of this flight, I promise I’ll give you a treat when we get to Journey’s house.” She said, compromising with him, her teal colored eyes gleaming back at him with promising intentions.


His eyes widened and licked his lips eagerly with hunger evident in his posture.  “The kind of treat that involves lots of whipped cream and some real kinky sex?” He asked, his tone a mixture of hope and pleading.


“Only if you’re a good boy.” She teased playfully, only half joking, and patted his hand with a wink before looking out the window. 


She sighed, leaning her head against the clear glass, and looked out at the night sky.  One thing about John was he loved having sex, which she didn’t mind for the most part.  He was a master in the bedroom.  She’d never had one like him before and had to blush at the thought.  He was actually her first and hoped to be her last since they’d been together for three years.  Her longest relationship ever.


After the plane landed, John lead Jalyse through the crowded terminal, frowning when they nearly got wedged between the wall and a man who was busy itching his fat ass.  “Get your plumber’s ass in gear, man!” He snapped, pulling Jalyse forward with him, shielding her protectively.  “Now, who exactly are we looking for?” He asked, bending down to speak in her ear since there was a lot of noise around them, his blue eyes scanning the people nearby.


“We’re not looking for anyone.  We need to head to the rental car desk and then we’re driving there.” She informed him in a whisper in his ear, staring at the disgusting fat man, and shook her head.  They headed toward the rental car place, keeping their eyes alert for any funny business.  After retrieving the keys, they made it through security and walked out, the night air blowing through her hair, her luggage wheeling behind her while John had his own.  “We’re over here, sweetie.” She told him, walking over to the blue SUV, and opened the trunk as they set their bags inside of it.


“You want to drive or can I?” John asked, eyeing the SUV like a little boy, loving anything with an engine and wheels.  He sighed when she announced she was driving as she knew where they were going and she wanted to arrive there in one piece.  “I’m not THAT bad of a driver!” He groaned, slipping into the passenger side.  He instantly started fiddling with the radio, looking alarmed when country music started blaring and shut if off.  “WHAT was that?”


“It’s called country music, blue eyes.  You should try it sometime.” She answered him with a smirk and turned it back on, loving country music, and started tapping her fingers against the wheel.  She put the car in drive and peeled out of the airport parking lot, wanting to beat the traffic that was sure to follow.  Within moments, they were on the open road, driving through the city of Houston, and headed toward the country.  Journey and Mark had a huge house in the country with a long stretch of property.  According to the pictures, this guy she was with was LOADED as far as money went.


John was in Hell.  H-E-L-L.  First of all, the second they left Houston, he seen nothing, but a lot of…country.  A hell of a lot of country.  Second, Jalyse was playing something she called music, but he couldn’t be too sure.  He dealt with it, barely, his head pressed against the cool window.  His eyes stared out at the seemingly unchanging scenery and muttered, “Fence…fence…fence…fence…oh wow…a cow.”


Jalyse laughed at her boyfriend, not believing how he was reacting to Houston and the countryside.  They’d been on the road for an hour and she knew he was getting sick of her country music, but he’d have to deal with it.  For a man who listened to hip hop and rap constantly, he wasn’t doing too badly in her eyes.  “We’re almost there, baby.” She cooed at him, her teal eyes twinkling back at him, and winked before turning her attention back on the road.


John wasn’t amused, knowing she found this whole situation hysterical at his expense.  “J…your cousin…isn’t like a farmer or anything like that is she?” He asked suddenly, smirking as an image of Jalyse in overalls, a straw hat, carrying a bucket flashed through his mind.


“Hell no!  Are you kidding me?  Journey is a city woman.  Always has been. She met this redneck Texan and they’ve been inseparable ever since then.  I don’t mind the countryside.  I love the peacefulness of it and everything, but Journey hates it.  She always calls me and complains how boring it is and she listens to your type of music.” Jalyse informed her boyfriend with a smile, knowing they would get along famously, and kept driving down the long stretch of road.


“Redneck Texan?’ John echoed teasingly, glancing over at her, and reached his hand out to stroke her upper thigh.  “Sounds like a match made in Hell.  Though, if I see one more fucking cow or horse, I’m going to scream!” John groaned, burying his face in his hands.  “That’s it.  I’m through with milk…”


Jalyse laughed, seeing the huge house nearby, a couple of miles up, and lifted his chin as his blue eyes widened.  “Relax, we’re here.” She purred in his ear before pulling away, a wide smirk on her face, not believing how huge the house was.  It was a white ranch that looked like a mansion with a huge black gate wrapped around the property.  There was a barn attached to the house and Jalyse couldn’t help, but feel her jaw drop at how huge this place was.  Definitely the perfect place to escape for three months as she pulled up to the gate and punched in the code that Journey gave her.


John stared around as they pulled in, grudgingly admitting to himself that it might NOT be too bad here.  He groaned when he seen what looked like horses out in a meadow and shook his head, glancing at his girlfriend.  “Well cowgirl…” He joked, smiling at her, and leaned over to kiss her cheek once they were finally parked.  “Lead on, baby.”


“Don’t call me that, cowboy.” She retorted back at him with a smirk before stepping out of the blue SUV.  The sun was just coming up over the horizon and Jalyse barely had time to shut the door when she was clobbered with a massive hug.  It was Journey as she hugged her cousin back, tears already streaming down her cheeks, and the girls had their moment.  Jalyse slowly stepped back as she looked at her cousin, seeing her platinum blonde hair and blue eyes were still in tact, and tapped her nose as she grinned.  “Nice seeing you again too, my evil twin.”


“Welcome to Texas.” Journey replied, smiling, though it didn’t meet her eyes.  “It’s a bit dull out here, but…” She shrugged, glancing over her shoulder.  “Mark makes it worth it.” She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively before looking behind Jalyse, draping an arm over her shoulder.  “So, my little demon, is that the boyfriend?  Nice…good to see some of my taste rubbed off on you.”


“Yeah, this is the horn ball himself.  John, this is my cousin Journey.  She’s my evil twin.” She introduced them as she allowed them to shake hands before going to retrieve her bag, knowing John would get his own so she left the trunk open.  “Hey, I happen to LIKE the countryside scenery, especially after dealing with the damned city for the past three years!” She exclaimed with a smirk and smiled when John started groaning about country music.


Journey made a face, waiting until John had retrieved his bags as well.  “Mark is currently in one of his country and/or blues kicks so…Welcome to Hell, John.” She joked.  “This way people.” Journey mocked bowed, leading the way inside.  “Oh…watch out for the dogs.” She called back casually, her blonde hair bouncing with every step she took.


“Dogs?  I hate dogs…” John groaned more, always more of a reptile man himself.  “Holy shit!”


“Mark!  They’re here, bring your big butt outta there and come meet my cousin!” Journey yelled through an open door.  “His garage…” She rolled her eyes dramatically.  “He’s tinkering with his damned motorcycles again.” She explained with disdain dripping in her voice.


“Motorcycles?” Jalyse looked surprised as she blinked back at her cousin, knowing Journey HATED them.  She was always against them, more afraid than anything, but Jalyse was the total opposite.  She loved them as she walked through the open door and into the garage, her heels clicking against the cement.  She was wearing a black skirt that was pinstriped with a white cardigan hanging over her shoulder and a spaghetti strapped tank top.  Her long, black hair that had blue streaks within it flowed down her back in waves as she cleared her throat, causing the man to look up at her, and couldn’t believe the size of him.  He didn’t intimidate her though as Journey stood beside her, having followed her.  “So, this is the famous Mark I’ve heard so much about, eh?”


“Famous?  Hardly darlin’.” Mark said, his voice a deep, smooth drawling baritone.  He stood up from being crouched down at his motorcycle.  He wiped his hands off with a rag and tossed it in a crate before walking over to stand in front of them, revealing his six foot nine frame.  He stared down at her, his eyes covered in black sunglasses, sunlight streaming in through the open doors as well as the semi sunroof.  Glass panes were alternating with tiles above them.  “You must be the famous Jalyse…” He arched an eyebrow, glancing at Journey who nodded in response.


“My evil little devil. She had to come see the motorcycles.” Journey explained, the disdain never leaving her voice as she sighed.  “Mark can show you them demon girl, I’ll take your bags to your room.” She kissed Jalyse’s cheek before walking out, not before shooting Mark a seductive grin.  “By the way baby, nice jeans.”


Mark grunted, watching her walk away and shook his head.  The woman had a thing for baggy jeans, which he was wearing today due to a lack of laundry, neither having gotten around to it yet.  “Know anythin’ bout bikes?” He asked Jalyse, gesturing to his huge collection, every inch of garage space practically devoted to his toys.


Chapter 2


“Actually, I own one myself.  Journey hates it, but I don’t really care what my evil twin thinks.” She shrugged her shoulders absentmindedly at him, seemingly not intimidated by his size, and raked a hand through her hair.  “Nice collection, seen better though.” She sighed with a yawn and smirked when he raised an eyebrow up at her.  “I’m sorry; did I offend you with that comment?”


“Nah darlin’.” He drawled, suddenly grinning at her.  “Most of these are custom built.  I like a variety if ya can’t tell.  But ya didn’t answer my question, Jalyse…” Her name rolled off his tongue, his accent making the name sound even more exotic than what it already was.  “Do ya know anythin’ bout bikes?”


For some ungodly reason, Jalyse felt a shiver course down her spine when he said her name, but quickly shook herself mentally.  “I know a bit about them.  Like for instance, you need to tighten the bolt on that wheel before it-” She didn’t get to finish as the damned thing suddenly busted off and rolled down the driveway, sighing.  “Probably should’ve pointed that out sooner.” She bit her bottom lip and walked around the garage, admiring his variety.  Her eyes landed on a motorcycle with skulls imprinted on it and immediately bent down, her skirt riding up her thighs a little, and didn’t touch the artwork, just admired it. 


Mark quickly retrieved the wheel, shaking his head.  That’s what he had been doing before they’d come in his garage.  Then he’d gotten distracted when Jalyse and Journey had walked in.  He quickly finished up; making sure it was on properly before walking over to see which one she was looking at.  “Like that?” He asked, crouching down beside her.


“It’s beautiful.” She murmured softly, captivated by the artwork, and quickly realized he was kneeling right beside her.  She slowly stood up, raking a hand through her hair, and cleared her throat with a smile.  “So, what do you do for a living to keep this place running, Mark?” She asked casually, wondering what the Hell this man did to have this collection of motorcycles, and not to mention the huge mansion.


“I’m a wrestler.” He replied, standing up as well, raking a hand through his hair.  “I’m on leave right now.” Mark shrugged, walking away from her towards the radio softly playing in a corner of the garage and turned it off.  “Pays the bills.  How bout we go see what…your evil twin is up to?  You brought a guest with ya, didn’t you?”


“A wrestler??” She echoed, blinking in shock back at him, and couldn’t help, but start laughing her ass off.  “I’m sorry, I just…” She couldn’t finish as she slapped her knee and shook her head.  “You and Journey are like COMPLETE opposites.” She pointed out with a smirk on her face and cleared her throat.  “I mean, that shit is fake and all, but yeah, I did bring a guest.  My boyfriend actually.”


“Fake?” Mark echoed, sounding amused.  “Is that right, darlin’?” At her nod, he started laughing, a deep rumbling sound coming from deep in his chest.  “Tell ya what, Jalyse, how bout we go see what Journey is doin’, introduce myself to yer man, and sometime later…we’ll discuss this fake wrestling you know so much about.” He didn’t comment on the complete opposite’s part, already well aware of that factor.  Though, they did say opposites attract.  He led the way out of the garage, halting inside when he heard rap music blaring.  “WHAT THE HELL?”


“Oh no…” Jalyse groaned when she heard that and sighed heavily, already knowing her boyfriend and Journey were hitting it off without a hitch.  “Please don’t kill him.  He means well.” She mock pleaded with Mark before laughing, brushing past him, her scent trailing behind her as she walked down the hallway and shook her head at what she saw.  Journey was in the kitchen cooking while John was blaring rap music from the stereo that was in the kitchen, rapping to the song and sighed.  ‘Why did I even bring him?’ She thought in wonder and smiled, knowing she couldn’t resist bringing along her cute boyfriend and felt Mark behind her.  “That’s my boyfriend John, be gentle please.”


Mark slowly removed his shades, intense emerald green eyes staring down at her for a moment before nodding.  The barest hint of a smile on his lips.  He watched as Journey joined in the rapping with John.  Both apparently oblivious to their observers.  For some reason, Mark got a sinking feeling in his stomach that this was going to be a very long three months.  Though, he chose to keep his thoughts to himself as he cleared his throat, getting their attention.


“The next one is even better.” John said, changing songs, tilting his head to the side, and grinned when he spotted Jalyse.  His blue eyes widened ever so slightly when he seen Mark right behind her.  “Hey baby, your cuz has good taste.” He greeted, walking over to kiss her lingeringly before staring up at Mark, casually draping his arm over her shoulders, silently telling Mark that she was taken.  “John Cena.” He held out his hand.


“Mark Calaway.” He replied, taking the young man’s hand, trying not to look amused when his blue eyes widened in shock.


“The Un-”


“dertaker.” Mark finished with a sigh, looking almost tired for a moment.


“Oh my god, don’t tell me you watch that fake shit, John!” She groaned when he nodded, glaring at her, and flipped him the bird for his troubles as she sighed heavily.  “Journey, you shacked up with a wrestler??  Are you feelin’ alright, woman?” She walked over, pressing her hand to her forehead, and smirked when Journey shot her a glare as well.  “Hey, you and I BOTH know you can’t stand that sports entertainment shit.  I’m not happy about John going into it, but…” She shrugged with a pause.  “Who am I to stop him when it’s all acting?” She giggled when Journey started chasing her with a spatula and took her heels off.  “Hey no fair!”


“Acting my ass.  The matches are scripted and SOME of the shit they do is toned down, but it’s mostly real.  Mark is on leave because of-” Journey trailed off when Mark shook his head at her.  “Anyways, why don’t you boys go get to know each other while Jalyse and I cook?” She suggested, clearing her throat awkwardly.


Mark cocked an eyebrow, looking down at John, evil intentions in his green eyes.  “I got a ring set up in the gym, kid.  How bout we go practice some ‘fake’ wrestling moves?” John just nodded, suddenly looking apprehensive, fairly certain whatever this man shot at him was going to hurt.


“Hope he’s insured.” Journey giggled once the men had disappeared down the hall.


“How could you shack up with a wrestler?  Journey, you’ve HATED that shit for years and all of a sudden, you love it?” Jalyse shook her head and slowly sat down at the table, running her hands own her face, and sighed when Journey started spewing off at the mouth.  “Whatever makes you happy, girl.  I’m just kinda shocked is all.” She admitted, hugging her cousin tightly, and yawned.  “Damn fuckin’ jetlag is starting to set in.”


Journey studied her cousin thoughtfully, raking a hand through her platinum blonde tresses before turning the burners on low.  “Come on, demon girl, I’ll show you to your room.” She offered with a smirk.




“SON OF A BITCH!” John cursed, holding his jaw.  “That hurt!”


“Well it ain’t diamonds and roses, son.” Mark threw a forearm at John’s chest, gently hitting him while bringing his foot down hard on the canvas. 


“So I noticed…”




After parting ways with her cousin, Jalyse sighed as she shut her door behind her and walked over to the bed.  Her feet were killing her from those heels she wore, but she didn’t mind it.   Her thoughts suddenly went to Mark, her cousin’s boyfriend, and shook her head, still not understanding it.  The guy had a smartass streak to him that unnerved her.  She had a feeling this was going to be a very interesting summer and laid back on the bed, not caring about changing out of her clothes.  She closed her eyes; her hair splayed over the pillow, and tried to relax a little.


John stumbled into the bedroom what seemed an eternity later, after suffering several very real knife edged chops to the chest.  He pulled off his shirt and stared at himself in the mirror.  “That is going to bruise.” He groaned before turning to stare down at Jalyse.  Grinning, he gently moved so he was straddling her, bending down to lightly kiss her lips and murmured, “Is my baby tired?”


Smiling softly against his lips, but keeping her eyes closed, Jalyse nodded as she whispered out, “Yeah, I am.” She groaned when she felt his sweaty body on hers and immediately shoved him off, causing him to land on the bed beside her, and stood up from it.  “God you stink.  Haven’t you ever heard of taking a shower after playing in the ring, John?” She asked and walked over to her bag, pulling out some pajamas since she was getting ready to go back to sleep.


“No.” John replied, getting up from the bed.  “Be nice, J.  Mark just handed me my ass on a silver platter.” He whined, showing his already bruised chest.  “Come take a shower with me, baby.” He pleaded, flashing those big blue, puppy dog eyes.


“Do I have to?” She groaned out and sighed when he took her hand, causing her to drop her pajamas on the bag, and allowed him to guide her into the bathroom.  She closed the door behind her and gasped when he pulled her into his arms, his lips descending on hers, and moaned instantly as she wrapped her arms around his neck, breaking away.  “I thought you wanted to take a shower?” She asked breathlessly and turned around, walking out of his arms.  She pulled down her tank top, along with her skirt, leaving her clad in her white lace bra and panties, her hair cascading down her back.


“I do…eventually.” John murmured against her lips.  He moved away from her long enough to shed the rest of his clothes as well as finish undressing her.  He lifted her up so she was sitting on the edge of the sink.  John grinned, leaning forward to kiss her again, one hand holding her against him.  The other was down between her parted legs, stroking her throbbing clit.


Jalyse whipped her head back, gasping for breath as she felt him stroking her, gripping his large shoulders with her hands, and rubbed them gently as she nodded.  It was moments like these where Jalyse wondered where John really stood in their relationship.  Sure, the sex was great, but lately, there was no feeling in it.  As John buried himself inside of her, Jalyse just held onto him.  She buried her face in the crook of his neck and allowed him to take her.


John grunted, burying his face in her hair.  “God you feel so good, baby.” He murmured, snapping his hips forward, setting up a hard and fast pace.  John gripped her hips, pulling her against him, making her meet his thrusts.  “Do you like this, Jalyse?  Hmm, you like my cock pounding in that sweet pussy of yours?” He moved his lips to her throat, kissing her hungrily.


“God yes…” She moaned out, her mind swirling with lust for her boyfriend, and ran her hands up and down his arms and chest.  She simply closed her eyes, willing the tears to stay in them as she leaned back against the mirror, moaning out the harder he pounded her.  Sometimes, John went too far and hurt her, but she never told him.  She’d never admit it because she knew he’d never hurt her intentionally.  He was an intense man when it came to sex.  Jalyse finally cried out her release, wrapping her arms around his neck tightly, and nodded as he rode out her first orgasm.


John was sweating bullets, his blue eyes locked on her face, studying her as she came.  Seeming satisfied with what he saw, he increased the pace, grunting as he plowed into her even harder.  Finally, he buried his face in her neck as he came, snapping his hips one last time, burying his cock deep inside of her, shooting his seed against her back wall.  “Damn J!” He gasped between breaths.


“John!” She cried out again, her entire body shuddering, and trembled as he kept exploding inside of her.  When he finally stopped cumming, Jalyse licked her dried lips, running a hand through her hair, and down her face, sweating and breathing erratically, her chest heaving.  “Goddamn…That was intense…” She breathed out and slowly slid from the sink, stumbling a little, and had to hold onto the wall to steady herself.  “You take your shower; I can’t handle another round with you right now.” She whispered softly and walked out, closing the door behind her, and finally allowed the tears to spill down her cheeks when she heard the shower start up.


The pain racked throughout her body as Jalyse slowly moved from the wall and onto the bed, collapsing on it.  She curled up in a tight ball, trying to will the pain to stop, and knew John probably tore something inside again.  She looked down, not seeing blood, and breathed a huge sigh of relief for that.  The last time, she had a pool of blood and had to be rushed to the hospital, without him knowing.  She’d asked her room mate, Jordan, to take her, refusing to tell her what had happened. 


John hadn’t raped her or anything, but he had ripped her to shreds the last time they had sex.  This was the first time in three weeks for them, since they seen each other once a month on the weekends.  It was the plan they’d set up for each other since she went to school in Los Angeles while his wrestling school was all the way across the country in Kentucky.  Jalyse was never one to believe in long distance relationships, but she wanted to make this work with John.  She loved him and in her mind, when a person loves another, they try to hold onto it and make it work no matter the circumstances.


While John and Jalyse had their little romp in the bathroom, Journey was busy cooking in the kitchen.  “Mark, go get John and Jalyse.” Journey instructed when he walked into the dining room, freshly showered and in a pair of his last pair of pants.  They were black track pants he despised and a muscle shirt, having finally gotten a load of clothes into the washer.


“Yes mistress.” He joked, rolling his eyes when she just gestured him off.  Pushing his wet hair back over his shoulders, he walked through the living room and down the hallway to the guest rooms, knocking finally on their guest’s door.


Chapter 3


Jalyse gasped when she heard the knock on the door and immediately wiped her tears away, slipping into a pair of pajama pants with a tank top, and wondered who it was.  She cleared her throat, blinking a little, and walked over to the door as she opened it.  The tank top and pants were black, her favorite color, and sighed when she seen who it was.  “Can I help you?” She asked tiredly, keeping her head lowered, leaning against the wall.


“Journey says its time fer dinner.  She asked me to come get you and the ki-John.” Mark cleared his throat, staring down at her.  While he himself could be a hard man to read sometimes, he could read other people fairly well.  “What’s wrong, darlin’?” He asked in a soft, non-pressing tone of voice.  “Homesick?”


“No you jackass, I’m tired.” She shot back at him, not appreciating him prying into her business, and sighed when the bathroom door opened.  “Tell my evil twin I’m not hungry, but John will be down shortly.  I’m going to bed.  I’m tired and I have jetlag.” She then walked away from the door past John and over to the bed, laying down on it, and tried to calm down her aching, pain racked body.


Mark shook his head and grunted, “Women.” He then returned to fill Journey in.


John stepped out into the bedroom, staring at Jalyse, concern on his face.  “What’s wrong, baby?” He asked and winced when sounds of screaming reached them.




“She said she was jetlagged, I didn’t do a damn thing to her!” Mark shouted back, his voice even, but quite audible.  He growled when the plate smashed against his arm, breaking into a million pieces as it shattered to the floor.  “I’ll be in the damn garage!”


Journey screamed at him again, tossing another plate in pure anger as she screamed, “YOU FUCKING DO THAT THEN!  GODDAMN COWARD!”


It took every bit of self restraint to NOT hit her and keep on walking as Mark slammed the door behind him.  Mark chose not to fight with Journey, especially over something like this when he hadn’t done anything and definitely not with company in the house.  He sighed, leaning against the table, wondering where the sweet woman he had met was.  Journey had completely done a one eighty turn on him after she moved in, changing things in his house that he didn’t particularly like.  Whenever he’d say something to that extent, he got something either thrown at him or heard her shrieking voice in his ear. 


After she heard the screaming and fighting stop, Jalyse looked up at her boyfriend and replied, “I’m fine, John.” She sighed heavily when she heard her cousin throwing things and sat up on the bed.  She walked out, not waiting for John, and watched out for pieces of broken glass from the plates as she shook her head.  “Journey, you really need to learn how to control that temper, chica.  Mark didn’t do anything to me.  I’m just really tired and jetlagged.” She’d heard every word of the conversation and winced when she stepped on a piece of glass, bending down to start picking them up.


Journey kneeled down to help, looking angry.  “I’m sick of him, Jalyse you don’t even know.  Every time I have someone out here, they leave early because he fucking freaks them out!  I just don’t want him doing that to you.” She caught the look on Jalyse’s face and sighed.  “Don’t ask me why I stay with him because it’s complicated.”


“I’m not saying a word.  That’s your business, but I’m telling you right now, he’s not scaring me off.  I just have really bad jetlag.” She was partially telling her evil twin the truth, leaving out the part where John had hurt her while they were having sex again, and sighed heavily.  “Trust me, I know what its like to not want to be with someone, but you feel you’re obligated.  Am I right?” She asked, having had that exact same feeling with John lately.


“Yeah, kinda sorta.” Journey stood up, carrying glass shards over to the trash and dropping them inside, washing her hands off in the sink.  “But there’s two more reasons.  One, the sex is MINDBLOWING.” She shot Jalyse a wicked smirk.  “And look at this place, I live like a damned queen.  Minus the maids of course, but still, even if it is the country.”


“So you’re basically with him for his body and his riches.” Jalyse stated, sighing when Journey nodded in response back at her, and raked a hand through her hair.  “Well, you do what you want.  It ain’t my business.  I’m here to relax for three months before having to go back to Hell on earth known as school.” She grunted as she threw away some of the glass shards, feeling sick to her stomach at what her cousin had revealed, but pushed it aside.  Their relationship wasn’t her concern and if Mark was stupid enough to stay with Journey, then he deserved what he got.


John came walking out, dressed in a pair of baggy shorts and a beater, a chain draped around his neck and his favorite sneakers on his feet.  He seen glass on what had been dinner and sighed.  “I’m guessing the nearest pizzeria is in Houston?” He asked, knowing there was nothing for at least an hour away from this house.


“Yeah.” Journey nodded, sighing, and glanced back at the table.  “Want to go to the city for dinner and maybe take in a movie or something, demon girl?” She asked, suddenly looking hopeful.


“Nope, I told you, I have jetlag.  Why don’t you and John go?” She suggested with a smile, looking back at her boyfriend, who looked skeptical, and sighed dramatically as she threw her hands up in the air.  “I trust you both with my life and this will give my evil twin the chance to give my boyfriend the patented ‘talk’.” She giggled when Journey smirked knowingly and knew it was going to happen.  “I’m not going so if you two want to go, be my guest.  I’m going to find something around here and hit the hay.”


Journey and John were out of the house less than ten minutes later.


Mark finally cooled down enough and walked back into the house.  Planning on seeing if Journey had calmed down and was ready to talk like an adult with no screaming and no fucking violence.  He halted when he seen Jalise in the kitchen.  Peering in the fridge and cleared his throat, getting her attention.  Jalyse jumped when she heard a cleared throat behind her and hit her head on the top of the fridge, causing her to growl out, and slammed it shut.


She whipped around, stopping when she seen Mark.  “Journey isn’t here.” She informed him gruffly, rubbing the back of her head, and crossed her free arm over her chest.


Mark winced when she hit her head, getting into the cupboard over the stove, and tossed her a bottle of Tylenol.  “Sorry bout that.” He apologized and raised an eyebrow when he learned Journey wasn’t there.  “Where’d she go?”


“Her and John went out for pizza and a movie, I think.” She caught the bottle of Tylenol while answering him, already popping two, and put it back in the cupboard where he originally gotten them from, sighing heavily.  “I have jetlag and the last thing I want to do is hear both of their mouths.” She truly meant it.  She loved Journey dearly, but after what she said about Mark earlier, she felt sick to her stomach.  As for John, Jalyse was still in pain after the brutal encounter they had earlier on in the bathroom as she limped over to the fridge again.  “So, it looks like we have to fend for ourselves tonight unless you want to go meet them at the pizzeria?”


Mark arched an eyebrow, looking almost disgusted.  “No thanks.  I think I’ll just make a sandwich or somethin’.” He shook his head, brushing past her to peer into the fridge.  “You hungry?  There’s enough fer two, darlin’.”


“Do you call all women that?” She questioned curiously, walking over to peer over the fridge door, seeing he was dragging something out of it, and stepped back.  He was a huge man, she had to admit, and if he was pissed off, he could probably break her in half.  That didn’t bother her though as she crossed her arms in front of her chest and asked, “What is that?”


“Darlin’?  No…actually I don’t.” He flashed a half grin at her, setting out a huge sub.  “What’s it look like…darlin’?” He arched an eyebrow, amusement clearly shining in his eyes.  “There’s enough for the both of us…I think.”


“First of all, you can stop with this ‘darlin’’ crap because I’m not impressed.  Secondly, I think it looks like spaghetti on bread, but how long has the shit been sitting in there?” She asked, looking sick as she stared at it, and blinked when she thought she saw mold, but realized it was just a meatball.


Mark shrugged, casually reaching for a large knife, hovering over the sub before slicing himself off a nice, healthy chunk.  “Been in there for a day now.” He replied, setting his sandwich on a plate.  “And don’t flatter yerself, Jalyse, I’m not out to impress you.” He said honestly, giving her a once over before walking out of the kitchen.


“Jag off.” She muttered under her breath, staring down at the sub, and shook her head before walking back over to the fridge.  She winced when a pain shot through her abdomen, causing her to lean against the counter, and breathed through it.  John had done a number on her this time and she was starting to wonder how much longer she could take these rough sexual encounters before he completely broke her in half.  ‘I need to talk to him about this.’ She thought, knowing she’d have to get up the courage first, and decided she didn’t need anything to eat, opting for a glass of water.


Mark sat on the couch, his untouched food before him on the coffee table.  There was a wide screen television in front of him, but he didn’t turn it on.  Instead, he was lost in thought about Journey…and Jalyse.  He finally focused on Jalyse.  She had a definite attitude and he wondered why.  Whatever had crawled up her ass and died needed to be fumigated and quick.


After downing three glasses of water, Jalyse finally felt the exhaustion overtake her body and walked down the hallway toward her room.  She looked around, seeing the architectural structure on the walls and smiled a little.  The guy definitely had taste, but of course, she would never admit that to him.  Finally arriving in her room, Jalyse walked over and laid down on the bed.  Her eyes closed and fell asleep before her head even hit the pillow.  Mark was the last thing on her mind before sleep finally overtook her body as she mumbled under her breath, “Jag off…”


Mark frowned, shaking himself out of his thoughts roughly an hour later, looking surprised.  He hadn’t even realized the time, he was that preoccupied.  He stood up, preparing to toss his food, but heard a whimper coming from Jalyse’s bedroom.  He hesitated before walking down the hallway, pushing open the door.  He seen Jalyse, curled up on the bed, sound asleep and crying, an occasional painful moan escaping her lips. 


He grimaced, wondering what the Hell he should do.  Leave her and walk away or wake her up?  He was deciding on the walking away when she gasped, sounding like she was being physically hurt and didn’t even think about it.  He just walked over and sat on the edge of the bed, placing a strong, but gentle hand on her shoulder.  “C’mon darlin’, wake up, nothin’, but night terrors…” He whispered soothingly, shaking her.


John was relentless, refusing to let up even the tiniest bit, and it was starting to split her in half.  Her tears seemed to be unbothered by him as he plowed harder inside of her, causing her to cry out in pain, and finally couldn’t take it anymore.  “Stop it, John!!” She cried out in her sleep, breathing raggedly, the tears pouring like two rapid streams down her cheeks, and finally popped her eyes open when she felt him explode inside of her in the dream.  Jalyse bolted upright, clocking Mark right in the head, and groaned as she immediately fell back on the bed, holding her forehead tightly.  What the fuck had she hit?!  It felt like a damned brick wall, but in the pit of her stomach, she had a sinking feeling it was a certain nosey wrestler.


Mark groaned, feeling his head before blinking, clearing the cobwebs from his brain.  “Thanks.” He muttered.  “Remind me to just leave ya too the…whatever the Hell yer dreamin’ bout…next time.” He said, staring down at her, his green eyes unreadable though he HAD caught what she cried out.


“Yeah, you should do that and mind your own fucking business.” She spat back at him, groaning painfully, and shook her head, trying to stop the throbbing headache from forming even though it was inevitable.  “Do you ALWAYS do this to your guests, Mark?” She grunted out, wincing when her head started pounding in her ears.  “Goddamn, you have a hard fuckin’ head.  That’s not surprising though.”


Mark didn’t take offense.  Actually, he was curious about this bitch, and he meant that in a good way.  She obviously didn’t take shit from no one and he respected that.  “Generally, I don’t have guests.” He replied honestly.  “I heard ya cryin’ out in the livin’ room, Christ woman, can’t a man be concerned?” He shook his head, standing up.


“No, especially when it’s a stranger.  I was having a bad dream.  So what?  I have them all the time.  It’s nothing new.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pop two MORE Tylenol because of your hard fuckin’ head.” She stated heatedly, slipping from the bed, and groaned when she stumbled out, her head spinning from the collision.  Christ, her brain felt like it was scrambled.


“You always have bad dreams bout yer boyfriend, huh?” Mark folded his arms across his chest, arching an eyebrow and catching her when she almost fell.  “Just lay yer stubborn ass down and I’ll get ya some damned Tylenol.”


“Get off of me!” She ordered, shoving him away from her, and stumbled further into the kitchen as she collided with the counter.  “It’s none of your damned business what I dream about.” She snapped, not believing the audacity of this man, and managed to get the Tylenol out as she groaned more.  “God, remind me to lock my fucking door from now on.”


Mark shook his head, quickly making his way to the gym.  He sighed, rolling under the ropes of the ring and started tossing himself off of them, making sure to put down weight on his right leg, testing his knee.  That’s what he had been given leave for.  He had to have surgery to repair his torn knee and now out of the ‘rest and let the knee heal after’ stage.  Now onto rebuilding the strength in his knee.  He groaned, trying not to stalk back into the house and ring that woman’s neck.  She was already driving him up a damn wall.


Chapter 4


Jalyse couldn’t help herself as she followed him to the gym, watching him in the doorway, and wondered where Journey and John were.  Probably went to see a movie like she wanted to.  John was always a sucker for that kind of thing as she watched him bounce off the ropes, shaking her head.  It was still spinning, but nothing she couldn’t handle.  “So, is this what the big boy does on his time off?  I thought you wanted to be OUT of the ring?”


Mark froze, groaning when his knee actually gave out on him, still not used to working it like he had been lately and dropped onto his good leg.  His bad one curled underneath him.  “Christ woman!” He growled, raking a hand through his hair.  “I’m not on leave 'cause I want to be out of the ring.  I actually like my fake job…” He sighed, pulling himself up, gingerly testing his knee and thought better of it, rolling out of the ring and gripping the side, gritting his teeth.


Raising an eyebrow at him, concern etched in her features as Jalyse took a step toward him, seeing he was favoring his knee.  She actually felt bad for saying that about his job.  She had no right as she sighed heavily and raked a hand through her hair.  “Look, about that, Mark...” She began, biting her bottom lip, and cleared her throat.  “I’m not good with apologies, but I’m sorry for what I said.  I’ve never been one to watch that…show and neither has Journey, which shocked me even more when I found out what you did for a living.  Are you okay?” She asked, the worry evident in her tone though she tried in vain to hide it and didn’t take a step toward him incase he lashed out at her.


Snorting, Mark was well aware that Journey wasn’t a wrestling fan as she had belittled it every chance she got.  He nodded, finally looking up at Jalyse.  “Yeah, I’m fine.  I’ve beaten my body up and finally it’s beginnin’ to pay my sorry ol’ ass back.” He chuckled good-naturedly, finally putting his full weight on his leg, smiling.  Even though it actually hurt, knowing he still had a long time ahead of him before he’d be ready to step back into the ring as an actual competitor.  “Don’t apologize dar-Jalyse, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”


“I had no right to say that about your job though.  So just take my apology and let’s be done with it.” She stated, staring at his limping form, and sighed heavily, wondering what the Hell she was doing here.  “I hope your knee gets better.” She then turned and walked out of the room, shaking her head, and suddenly stopped when she realized what he’d said earlier.  It had finally sunk into her head as she immediately turned around and instantly bumped into a brick wall.  “Goddamn it!!” She snapped, landing flat on her ass on the floor and stared at Mark.


Mark shook his head, towering over her, his knee forgotten, hands on his hips.  “Jalyse, is it just me or are you always this clumsy?” He asked, sounding amused.  “You keep injurin’ yerself out here and you might as well sue for damages.  Come on.” He extended his hand to her.


“Go to Hell, jag off!” She growled, not taking his hand, and stood up, dusting herself off, and crossed her arms in front of her chest, glaring back at him.  “Maybe if you would stop fuckin’ stalking your guest, me, around the house, you wouldn’t be knocking me down every fuckin’ chance you get!” She retorted swiftly with a smug tone in her voice.


Mark didn’t look the least bothered.  Instead, amusement was obvious in his crystalline green eyes as he stared down at her, clearing his throat, managing to make it sound condescending.  “Well Jalyse…if memory serves me, and memory rarely does anything else, YOU followed ME in here so please, quit stalkin’ me.  I don’t do autographs on my days off.” He walked past her, disappearing into his own room, his laughter echoing throughout the house.


“JAGOFF!” She shrieked, kicking the wall, feeling her cheeks turning four shades of red, and looked like smoke was about to come out of her ears.  She stormed into her room, slamming the door so hard, the walls shook.  She growled as she plopped down on the bed, groaning when her head started pounding furiously in her ears.  “I’ll ask for his autograph alright and then shove it up his cocky, arrogant, FAKE WRESTLER ASS!”


Mark heard that last bit and had to chuckle, pulling his muscle shirt over his head and tossing it aside.  He pulled his hair back into a low ponytail, shaking his head.  That woman had some serious, serious issues.  Sighing, he suddenly remembered his wash and groaned.  The laundry room was at the end of the guest room hallway, sheer genius on whoever had originally designed the house.  He had only added on.  Mark sighed, knowing he had no choice and ventured out, not bothering with a fresh shirt.


Jalyse was still fuming with rage as she laid in her bed, not believing what an arrogant prick her cousin was with.  She thought John was bad.  John was NOTHING compared to this fucker!  She sighed heavily, sitting up on her bed, and about jumped a foot in the air when she heard a bang outside her door.  She immediately stood up and rushed over, narrowing her eyes to dangerous slits when she seen the asshole of the century flat on his ass, clothes all over the place.  “Now who’s clumsy, jackass?” She then slammed the door, causing his head to bounce off of it, and smirked smugly before going back to lay down. 


Mark growled angrily, his temper thoroughly aroused by now.  His damned knee had given out again, which is why he’d fallen.  Then for this bitch to slam the door against his head.  He’d got to his feet, ignoring the warning pain in his knee, and stalked into her bedroom.  “WHAT THE HELL IS YER DAMNED PROBLEM?” He bellowed, towering over the end of her bed.


“Mr. Calaway, I don’t know WHAT you’re talking about, but if you don’t stop yelling at me, I’m going to fuckin’ make sure you NEVER wrestle again!” Jalyse stated in a threatening tone, her head still spinning from head butting him earlier, and slowly sat up to lean back on her elbows, smirking wickedly back at him.  “Damn, that’s a nice knot on your head.” She commented, snorting.


“You got a fair sized one on yer head too, <I>darlin’</I>.” Mark retorted.  “And ya know damned well what I’m talkin’ bout.  You bounced that door purposely against me.  Don’t even bother to deny it.  I just wanna know one thing.  What the Hell did I do to make you fuckin’ hate me?”


“You need to keep that big nose of yours out of MY business and fuckin’ STOP calling me that!!” Jalyse growled back at him, her teal eyes growing steely back at him, and sat up more, her ankles crossed over each other.  “As for bouncing your hard head off the door, that was for that comment earlier, you jag off.  I wouldn’t ask for your stupid, FAKE wrestler autograph if you were the LAST fake wrestler on earth!  Are we clear on that?” She demanded, her lips pursed tightly together, not appreciating this prick barging in her guest room.  His house or not, it was rude.


Mark had called Journey darlin’ only once and in return, she had told him she didn’t appreciate his dumb hick ways and immediately stopped.  He couldn’t believe it when he felt a twinge of hurt at the mere memory as well as Jalyse shouting at him.  He quickly masked it and nodded.  “Stay outta my way and I’ll sure as Hell keep outta yers.” He said gruffly before stalking out.


“Good, I hope your knee blows out, dick!” She shouted out after him, slamming her door shut behind her, and plopped down on the bed.  Suddenly, all the anger drained from her as she allowed the tears to fall down her face, not believing how cruel she was being toward this man.  Was it his fault that she was with a guy who clearly hurt her every time they had sex?  Laying down on the bed, she curled up in a tight ball and cried herself to sleep.  These three months were going to be just one big ball of stress and she suddenly wondered if maybe leaving would be the better of the two options.


~Two Weeks Later~


Mark had done his best to avoid Jalyse.  Only speaking to her when required.  Already knowing Journey would blow it off to him being his ‘creepy, freaky’ self.  He found he couldn’t stand being around Jalyse.  Afraid of what he might say or do and tended to spend more time out in his garage.  Tinkering with his motorcycles gave him a sense of peace and spent the past two weeks out there more than he normally did.


John glanced at his girlfriend from his place in the pool.  She was laying on a lounge chair, reading something and asked, “Going to join me or what, baby?”


“No, I’m reading, can’t you see that?” She retorted, waving the book at him, and rolled her eyes before going back to reading. 


It was actually a book she was quite interested in, giving her a little more aspect on this sports entertainment business.  She was quite disturbed to find out that most of the injuries the wrestlers sustained were actually real and felt terrible for what she’d said to Mark.  She pushed it aside, having stayed clear of him for the past two weeks, and sighed as the sun baked down on her.  She was wearing a black two piece bikini with her hair up in a high ponytail.  She hadn’t took a dip in the pool, not wanting to at the moment, too focused on her reading material.


Journey strolled out of the house, wearing her own bikini that was actually no more then the barest bits of cloth, covering up what needed to be covered sort of.  “Jeez cousin, could you sound anymore cranky?” She teased, diving into the water.


John shook his head, wondering what the Hell was Jalyse’s problem lately, and glanced at the cover of her book.  She’d been distant from him and he wanted to know why.  “Any good?” He asked, trying to get her somewhat interested in him again.


“Yes it’s good.” Jalyse answered with a heavy sigh and stood up from the lounge chair, not able to look at her boyfriend right now.  She was aching from head to toe because every night that they’d been there for the past two weeks, he’d gotten rougher and rougher with the sex.  She was near tears the previous night and felt sick to her stomach.  She was lucky she was on birth control with how much sex John wanted as she raked a hand through her hair.  “I’m going to lay down.   I’m not feeling good.” She then walked inside the house, closing the sliding glass door behind her, and started down the hallway just as Mark walked out of the garage.  She didn’t say a word to him and kept walking when his arm bumped hers, causing the book to go flying and skidded across the floor.


Mark instantly retrieved the book, reading the title and handing it back to her.  “That’s a good book, Jalyse.” He commented quietly, waiting for her to take it.  “Though they’re exaggeratin’ some…Mick took more tacks in his ass then what they’re sayin’.” It was a feeble attempt at humor on his part and they both knew it, but it was also his way of testing the waters with her.


“It is a great book.  How people can do this to their bodies is beyond me.  Maybe it does take passion and determination.  Mark, I’m-” She couldn’t finish when John came walking into the house, disrupting their conversation, and sighed heavily when he came up to her, causing her to look away from him.  “I told you I’m going to lay down, John.  Now right now.” She stated, walking into the bedroom, and closed the door behind her, the book in her hand.


John, for the first time in their three year relationship, felt jealous.  He stared at Mark suspiciously, aching an eyebrow before snorting and followed Jalyse.  “What the Hell is your problem lately, J?” He demanded, closing the door behind him.


“You wanna know what my problem is lately, John?” Jalyse finally snapped, whipping around to face her boyfriend, the tears building in her eyes, and blinked them back as she raked a hand through her hair.  “YOU are my problem!  I can’t even look at you or dream about you without feeling sick to my stomach anymore!  God, you hurt me so much and I’m just tired of it!!” She started crying, plopping down on the bed, and curled her knees up to rest against her chest, seeing John was staring at her in shock as her body started trembling.  When he went to touch her, she immediately flinched away from him.  “Please don’t touch me.  I don’t want to do it right now.” She pleaded with him and winced when another shot of pain went through her.


John frowned, honestly not having a damn clue what she was talking about, and sat down on the edge of the bed, staring at her.  “J…what’s going on?” He asked softly.  “How am I hurting you, baby?  Please, tell me so I don’t do it anymore.”


Her chest started heaving harshly as she pressed a hand to her heart, which was pounding furiously against her chest, and shook her head.  “Every time we…you…” She couldn’t even say it as she leaned back against the headboard, her toes squishing in the comforter below.  “I’m sore, John.  I’m very, VERY sore from the sex we’ve been having lately.  It’s gotten to the point where I actually have to blink back tears in order to get through it without screaming out in pain instead of pleasure.  You’ve gotten way rougher and I can’t handle it.  You’re going to end up breaking me in half if you don’t stop it.” She explained to him and cried harder as she buried her face in her knees, trembling violently.


His blue eyes widened in shock as he felt his jaw drop to the floor below.  “Why didn’t you tell me, baby?” He whispered, remorse dripping in his tone.  “God Jalyse, Christ baby, I am so, so sorry!  I never ever meant to hurt you!” He sounded on the verge of tears.  “If you’d just said something…”


“I know I should’ve, but I didn’t want to upset you or anything.  I love you, John.  How can I tell the man I love that he’s hurting me whenever we have sex?” She rhetorically asked, lifting her head up to meet his blue eyes, and raked a hand through her hair, sniffling.  “I’m sorry, I should’ve told you sooner.  I didn’t want you to hate me.” She whispered out heartbrokenly.


“I don’t hate you…you should’ve told me.  You know I love you.  I don’t ever want to hurt you, Jalyse, EVER.” John leaned down to gently kiss her, feathering his lips over hers.  “God baby, if I’d of known…Do you need to see a doctor?” His blue eyes shone with concern for her, not believing what she just told him.


“No, I’m fine.  I just need to take a week or so to heal from it.” She whispered softly, pressing her forehead to his, and rubbed the back of his neck as she breathed out raggedly from crying.  “Thank you for not being upset with me.  I love you so much.” She then wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly to her, and buried her face in the crook of it.


“How could I be upset?” John murmured, holding her close to him.  “I love you, baby don’t you know that?” He ran his fingers through her hair, guilt coursing through him, as well as a bit of lust from just feeling her pressed against him, but he suppressed it.  “God…I’m so sorry…” He kept murmuring repeatedly.


“It’s fine, John.” She whispered in assurance and kissed his lips softly  before slowly pulling back, wincing since her body was so sore.  “Why don’t you go swim some more and have fun?  I’m going to lay down for awhile and try to relax.” She caressed his face with the back of her hand and smiled softly at him.  “Go on, I’m fine.  Go have a blast, I’ll be out there in awhile after my nap.” She winked at him.


John nodded, looking reluctant to leave her.  “Alright baby, you just holler if you need anything.” He whispered, concern in his blue eyes.  He took his sweet time in leaving, shooting her concerned looks before finally walking out.  He made his way back to the pool and halted, spotting Journey now laying in a chair without her top on.  When she shot him an inviting look, all thoughts, but one flew out of his mind as he took her invitation.


Chapter 5


~A Month and A Half Later~


Jalyse was in her room, trying to relax somewhat, sighed heavily as she ran a hand through her hair when there was a knock on the door.  It wasn’t John because he wouldn’t have knocked.  This was his room too.  It was either Journey or Mark and her stomach told her that it was the wrestler.  “Come in.” She softly called out, leaning back against the headboard, her knee drawn up while the other laid prone on the bed below.


Mark walked in, carrying another couple of books in his hand, halting just inside the room, looking down at her.  “This ain’t exactly what you were readin’, Jalyse, but I thought maybe it would interest ya…” He flashed the covers, both books by some guy named Mick Foley.


“You wanna educate me in the fine arts of sports entertainment, Mark?” She questioned with a smirk, moving her legs so he could sit down with her, and looked at the books after taking them from him.  In the past two months, she’d actually read almost every single wrestling book out there, wanting to know more about the sport.  She looked them over and raised an eyebrow, suddenly remembering the name.  “Is this the guy who got stuck with all those tacks and shit?”


Mark nodded, grinning somewhat at her observation.  “Mick Foley, Hell In A Cell.” He raked a hand through his loose hair as it flowed over his shoulders.  “Goddamn, I had a broken foot that night.  He was physically exhausted and came to me with these crazy ass ideas.  I shot him down, then told him I’d think about it.  Christ almighty…” His voice had a hint of respect in it.  “Mick is one tough son of a bitch.”


“You threw him off that cage into the announcer’s table.” She stated, not even questioning it, and slowly looked up at this man with a raised eyebrow.  “How could you do something like that to a human being?” She asked, furrowing her eyebrows together, and raked a hand through her hair.  “How could you…put a man’s body through that much brutality?  I thought this shit was fake.  I thought it was just entertainment, but after reading that book, those injuries are very real and the only fake thing about the matches are they are predetermined who wins and who loses.”


“Mick asked me that too.” Mark said simply.  “If you could’ve been there, seen the matches and everythin’ else from the month before, we had to somehow top.  Mick was determined to make it somethin’ different, somethin’ new and ASKED me to toss him from the cage.” Mark shook his head, hardly believing he had done it himself.  “I told him I would think about it and he got my answer when we got there.  We started out on the cage and things just went from there.  You have no idea how damned bad I felt after when the dust was settled.  I spent an hour on the phone with his wife…” He had to look away from her, not wanting her to see the pain in his eyes, recalling hearing Mick’s children in the background crying over their daddy.


“I can’t even begin to imagine the guilt you must’ve felt for doing that to him.  Jesus, if I was his wife, I would’ve pulled your scrotum over your head and kicked the living Hell out of you.” She stated, blinking a little, and looked down at the book as she started reading the first page before looking back up at him again.  “I owe you a huge apology for what I said about your career, Mark.  I respect you and the rest for putting your bodies through Hell and back just to entertain people.  You are warriors and if I ever get the chance, I’ll come to a show just to see for myself how non-fake it really is.”


Staring at her in shock, Mark was surprised and didn’t bother to hide it.  He cleared his throat awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck.  “Well, there’s going to be a house show in Houston tomorrow night.  Sort of an opener before Raw in Dallas.  If you want, we could go.  I get free tickets obviously.  Journey won’t go.” He swallowed hard, not even wanting to go there.  “But if you want, I could send you and…John.”


“No, I don’t want to go anywhere with John.” She stated and stood up from the bed, walking around it past him, and stared out the window., wrapping her arms around herself.  “Thank you for the offer anyway.” She whispered that last part out, sighing heavily, and raked a hand through her hair as she blinked her tears back from her eyes.


Mark hesitated.  Part of him wanted to walk away right now.  The other half wanted to wrap his arms around her and soothe away whatever it was that was bothering her.  He hated to see her in what was obvious emotional pain.  Mark raked a hand through his hair and suddenly found himself offering to take her himself as he said, “Well, if there are no objections, I could always take ya.”


Slowly turning around to face him, raising a curious eyebrow, Jalyse suddenly felt herself staring into those hypnotic green eyes of his, blinking a little in shock.  “You actually want to take me somewhere with you?  I’m not gonna like end up in a six foot grave am I?” She half joked, knowing they hadn’t gotten along since she’d arrived, and was very hesitant of him.


Mark actually did smile, a genuine smile which was a first for him in a long time.  “Yeah, I wanna take yer annoyin’ lil ass out in public.” He replied good-naturedly, meaning every word, his smile broadening when she smiled tentatively back at him.  “Tomorrow night, we leave at six.  Be ready.” He instructed, staring down at her, almost becoming lost in those teal orbs of hers.


“What about Journey?” She questioned suddenly, knowing how jealous her cousin could become, and John for that matter.  John wouldn’t be happy that she was going out for the night with her cousin’s boyfriend.  At the same time though, she’d allowed them to go out.  It wouldn’t hurt anything as she smiled back at him.


Mark cocked an eyebrow.  “Mention wrestlin’, no matter if it is you or me goin’, and see what she does.” He said dryly.  “If it’ll make you feel any better, I’ll pay for them to go to some movie or somethin’.”


“Alright…” She hesitantly replied, pushing aside the guilt she felt welling up inside of her because of John, and extended her hand to him.  “It’s a deal.  You got yourself a wrestling partner tomorrow night.” She wasn’t going to allow John to run her life or her decisions and knew they wouldn’t mind going to see a movie or whatever Mark was going to send them out doing for the night.  After all, they trusted their spouses and knew they would never hurt them.


Nodding, Mark’s face instantly went back to his usual unreadable expression.  “Wear non-descriptive clothes…” He said finally.  “And…please, don’t take this the wrong way, but leave your hair hangin’ down.”


“Excuse me?” She looked truly offended by him, planting her hands on her hips, and raised a challenging eyebrow up in his direction.  “What the fuck gives YOU the right to tell me how to dress and how to fix MY hair?” She demanded, her teal eyes shooting daggers at him now as they narrowed.


“It’s a house show, Jalyse.  Ever heard of dirt sheets?” He wasn’t surprised when she shook her head in response and arched an eyebrow.  “Basically, they’re magazines that are independent of any organization.  If you’re as low key as possible, you probably won’t be mentioned alongside me.  Cause face it, how the Hell can I hide?” He smiled, sounding slightly amused.  “Unless you want to be assumed as my girlfriend…”


“Oh HELL no!” She stated emphatically, making it crystal clear just in those three words that was the LAST thing she wanted to happen.  “How bout I don’t go with you and just meet you there or something?  I mean, I don’t want to cause you any trouble and I already know Journey won’t be liking this.  Maybe I shouldn’t go, period.” She then turned back around and wrapped her arms around herself again while staring out the window.


Mark shook his head, having a pretty good idea about Journey, but not voicing it because, after all, Jalyse was her cousin.  “How bout no?  For one, you’d get stuck in the nosebleed section and two, am I that damned ugly?”


“No.” She started to laugh softly and turned around to face him, planting her hands on her hips, not realizing she was just in her black bikini still.  “You’re a big jag off at times, but no, you’re not ugly.  Quite attractive actually.” When he got a shocked expression on his face, Jalyse rolled her eyes.  “I’m not going to lie about it.  My cousin knows how to choose men.  I just don’t want to cause any trouble for you or your company by showing up with you.  I don’t want to portray myself as something that I’m not.  I’m a blue jeans, t-shirt kinda gal and I don’t give a rat’s ass what people think of me.” She explained, not afraid to speak her mind.


“Blue jeans and t-shirt are perfect.” Mark said finally.  He knew women thought he was sexy, but at the same time, he had been told one too many times by women he was intimidating when he was ugly.  Though, they might’ve been referring to his ‘creep’ factor, which Jalyse didn’t seem bothered by.  Yeah, he admitted it.  He was quiet and set in his ways to a point.  “Yer not causin’ any trouble, them son of a bitches will say whatever they want regardless of.  So, will you come?”


“Since you’ve practically BEGGED me, Mark fine I’ll go with you.” She caved in, smirking back at him when he grunted at her, and shrugged her shoulders.  She walked past him to the closet, getting some clothes out since she wasn’t swimming for the remainder of the day.  “Thank you for inviting me, beggar.” She giggled.


“And you accepted a date from a beggar.” Mark reminded her, his tone indicating he found this humorous.  “So we’ll see how the night goes..” He bowed to her.  “M’lady.” He then walked out, wondering if this woman would ever fail to both annoy and amuse him at the same time.


‘A date?’ She thought suddenly, feeling a tingling sensation course throughout her body, and a smile stretched across her lips.  She hadn’t been on a date in…forever.  John had taken her out on a few when they first started dating, but after that, they kind of vanished.  Sighing, Jalyse wondered if she was making the right decision as she walked toward the window, peering out of it.  She seen John and her cousin in the pool together, looking very close.  Too close.  Yeah, she was making the right decision alright as she went to take a shower.


The following night, Mark waited impatiently in his garage, standing beside a 1984 white, chopped Harley.  John and Journey had already left, both with a surprising minimal amount of fuss that normally would have sent Mark into a fit of rage.  He didn’t care honestly anymore though.  He had dressed in a pair of black boots, a tight, form fitting black jeans, a black leather vest and a pair of shades with a bandana wrapped around his head.  His hair was hanging down his back in a braid.  He glanced at the door, wondering what the Hell was taking Jalyse so long.


“Fuck it, this’ll have to do.” She finally grunted out, staring in the mirror, and sighed as she raked a hand through her hair.  She was wearing a black tank top that had blue flames going up the sides with a pair of blue jeans that fit her like a second skin and were hip hugging.  The tank top was spaghetti strapped, but left plenty to the imagination as she sighed, finally tying her black, steel toed boots, and walked out.  Her hair was left down, not in the mood to deal with it.  She had simple midnight blue eyeliner on that outlined her teal eyes, making them stand out even more with clear gloss on her lips.  She walked out into the garage and held her hand up when Mark started to say something.  “Don’t even start or I’m not going.” She already sounded irritated.


“Damn…I was going to say you looked…nice.” Actually beautiful, but he had caught himself.  Mark held out a helmet for her, normally not bothering with one himself, but he didn’t know if she would want one or not.  “You ready?”


“If you even THINK for ONE second I’m wearing that stupid thing, you’re out of your fuckin’ mind.  I happen to like the wind whipping through my hair thank you very much.” She informed him, walking over, and straddled the bike with little effort, getting comfortable, and pressed down on it with a satisfied nod.  “Nice ride, Mark.  1984 white, eh?” She smirked when he stared at her in shock.  “I told you I love motorcycles.”


Mark quickly recovered and got on, not giving her a moment to say anything, just grabbed her hands and wrapped them around his waist.  “Good cause I hate them damned things too.” He said huskily, referring to the helmets.  “You know your bikes…woman of my dreams.” That last bit was ALMOST drowned out by the roar of the Harley coming to life.  Mark laughed as he pulled out of the garage, automatically letting loose, loving the feeling of the wind in his hair and her arms around him, something he hadn’t enjoyed at the same time in…Well Hell, he couldn’t remember.  Journey had never ridden with him.


Jalyse heard what he said, but didn’t comment as she smiled, biting her bottom lip, and held onto him as they rode down the road.  She leaned back, letting go of him as she put her hands in the air, and allowed the wind to take her away.  She always felt like she was flying on a motorcycle and finally wrapped her arms around his waist again.  She pressed her head against his back, sighing in contentment, and couldn’t believe how comfortable she felt with Mark.  John had become distant from her lately with the sex, with everyone in general, and she had a feeling Journey was doing the same thing to Mark.  She had a feeling something was going on between her boyfriend and cousin, but didn’t want to say anything.  She closed her eyes and just pushed it all in the back of her mind, enjoying this moment with her heart.  With Mark.


Mark felt a strange sort of satisfaction that he finally boiled down to contentment.  Journey had started withdrawing from him.  Well, he didn’t want to think about how comfy she and John had seemed in the pool.  He’d buried himself in other things, not wanting to end it with Journey because that meant Jalyse would be gone too.  And as irritating as she could be, she intrigued him.  Over the past two months, he had discovered she was more like him then either would ever acknowledge.  Mark groaned when he seen a cameraman outside of the arena, knowing they would be doing pictures tonight instead of at Raw.  It was easier since the crowd wasn’t as big.


Chapter 6


Hearing him groan, Jalyse was jolted out of her thoughts as she looked up and immediately ducked her head before the cameras could flash a good picture of her.  Her blackish, blue hair hid her appearance well and felt Mark go down into the parking garage of the arena.  Once the bike was parked, Jalyse released him reluctantly, whipping her hair from her face, and looked up at him with a smile as she took his extended hand, hopping from the bike with ease.  “So, where to first, Mark?” She smirked, placing her other hand on her hip.


Mark smirked down at her, slipping on a pair of black sunglasses before reaching into his front pocket, and pulled out a smaller, more feminine pair.  He gently slid them over her eyes.  “Now, you ready?” He took her hand in his, not giving her time to really reply and lead the way inside.  “Keep close.” He murmured, almost instantly getting swapped by locals who were aware of this being an opportune time.  He nodded to some of the guys, guiding her forward, ignoring a lot of questions passed his way.  A lot of them being about the woman with him.  “You’ve probably noticed this ain’t normal for me.” He said finally once they were shown front row seats, reluctantly letting go of her hand.


“I kinda figured.  Can I take these damned things off now?” She didn’t give him a chance to answer as she slipped them off, sliding them on top of her head, and felt her eyes widen at the ring.  “Oh wow, so this is what a wrestling event looks like?” She asked in awe, seeing all the people within the arena, and suddenly felt like the biggest jackass on the planet.  Then again, it was like Mark said, everyone was entitled to their opinions.  She smiled when he took her hand in his and didn’t mind it, not pulling away, too engrossed in her surroundings to really care at the moment.


Mark waited patiently for the show to start, knowing they kicked off a bit later then scheduled on occasion when it came to house shows.  He signed a few autographs, finally blocking Jalyse from view when a camera started flashing.  “The son of a bitch behind the lens is a…reporter…he’ll be doin’ a damned gossip column on Monday.” Mark stared down at her, arching an eyebrow.  “Unless of course ya don’t mind and wanna give the fucker somethin’ to gossip bout?”


Her teal colored eyes gleamed wickedly at him.  A slow, sultry smirk curved her lips and taped her chin thought as she leaned forward a bit.  “Exactly, what did you have in mind, Calaway?” She asked in a soft, seductive voice, her eyes never leaving his, and neither did that smirk that was practically dancing on her lips.  John was history as far as she was concerned, especially since he hadn’t even put up a fight with her in going out with Mark tonight.  Usually, John would’ve fought tooth and nail, especially since it was a wrestling event, which she’d mentioned quite clearly.


Returning the smirk, Mark looked thoroughly wicked in a sexy, dark sort of way.  He wrapped an arm around her waist, turning so her profile was visible before pulling her up against him.  “I don’t know.  Fer starters though, ya need to call me somethin’ besides Calaway.  Either Mark or ‘Taker, but not that.  It makes me feel older than I am.” He said bluntly, though his green eyes were locked on her in several emotions that probably would’ve steamed the cameras.


“Fine, I’m not calling you ‘Taker because that’s your ring name and quite frankly, that’s not you, Mark.” She scooted closer to him, in his arms, leaning against him, and could feel her body light on fire where his hand rested on her hip.  Her heart was starting to race a bit as she took a few deep, calming, silent breaths, but that smirk never left her lips as she looked up at him.  The look his emerald green eyes gave off sent shivers coursing down her spine, her teal orbs instantly darkening back at him, and winked.


Mark groaned when he heard questions being shouted out by the reporter/cameraman.  His eyes never left Jalyse’s though, eventually everything, but her fading from sight and sound.  “Yer gorgeous.” He murmured, caressing the back of her cheek before lowering his head to brush his lips against hers, feeling her shiver.  He knew damned well she could sense the tremors he was fighting to contain.


From the moment his lips touched hers, Jalyse felt her entire body melt into his own, causing her arms to wrap around his neck.  She was sitting on his lap, her legs crossed, and slowly pulled back to stare into his emerald green eyes with her clouded teal ones.  At first, she thought this was supposed to fool the reporter, but the more she gazed into his eyes, she knew it wasn’t for show anymore.  That the feelings and sensations coursing through her body were real.  Very real indeed.


Mark had honestly forgotten about the reporter the minute his lips touched hers.  It was just him and her.  Everything else faded into the background until it all just disappeared.  Mark licked his suddenly dry lips for the first time in months, actually desiring a woman.  Her.  He threw caution to the wind, always a man who chose actions over words, and kissed her again.  This time wrapping his arms around her, pulling her up against him.


A soft moan escaped her lips when he kissed her again, pressing herself further against him, and caressed the side of his face with her hand.  Everyone and everything disappeared around them and all that was left was them in a dark haze of lust and passion.  She sighed when his tongue delved in her mouth, reaching and searching every crevice.  They kissed like this for what seemed like an eternity before pulling back, both breathing heavily, and Jalyse pressed her forehead against his as she whispered out raggedly, “What are you doing to me?”


“I could ask you the same.” Mark replied huskily, staring down at her.  “You’re drivin’ me crazy, Jalyse.” He blinked suddenly when a camera went off right besides them.  “Damn it!” He roared, not liking this sudden interruption.  He kept a firm hold on her hand and pulled her away.  “Come on…”


“But what about the show?” She questioned as Mark practically dragged her out of the arena, her black hair flowing behind her, and bit her bottom lip.  She really hoped the photographer got sued for snapping that picture of them as she finally stopped.  She planted her feet in the ground once they were in the backstage arena and tore her hand out of his, feeling like her feet were about to fall off.  “Damn it, will you slow down?!”  Mark turned to stare down at her, his eyes unreadable behind the shades he wore.


“‘Taker, just one word!  Come on!  Who’s the girl?  Girlfriend, wife?  Who is she to you?” The camera guy was a persistent little fucker.


“No, I can’t.” Mark said to her, groaning when more pictures were snapped.  Finally, he just stepped towards the guy, snatched the camera out of his hands, and broke it in two, letting the pieces drop to the floor.


Jalyse’s eyes widened when he did that, raking a hand through her hair, and couldn’t take it anymore.  She ran down the hallway and out the backdoor, recognizing the parking garage, and started pacing back and forth.  She’d kissed him.  Her cousin’s boyfriend.  She’d betrayed John by kissing him, no matter if she had her suspicions that John was doing the same to her.  Jalyse felt sick to her stomach as she raked a hand through her hair and gripped it, blinking back the tears, and shook her head repeatedly.  How could she kiss a man that drove her completely crazy and annoyed the shit out of her?


Mark gave the camera creep a threatening look before following slowly after Jalyse.  He already knew what was going to happen.  In some magazine there would be an article about this and probably some damned pictures the creep would buy off of fans or something.  “Jalyse…quit that.” He ordered, seeing the way she was pacing and the look on her face.  “Yer goin’ to make yerself sick.  Look, I’m sorry.” He ran a hand down the back of his head, not sure what else to say.  He wasn’t really sorry about the kiss.  He was sorry that she appeared to be regretting it and he was sorry they were both taken.


“Don’t fuckin’ tell me what to do, Calaway.” She growled back at him, continuing her pacing, and shook her head in disbelief.  She knew that in the morning, there was going to be an article about the Undertaker with a woman, her, and not her cousin.  It made her sick to her stomach, even though deep down, she knew Journey didn’t love this man.  Didn’t even care about him.  Just his body and riches.  She shook her head with a scoff, wishing she wasn’t taken because she’d continue with that kiss with Mark if she wasn’t.


“Whatever.” Mark straddled the Harley, not even looking at her.  There was the bitch he knew and loathed.  “You comin’ or what?” He barked gruffly.  When she was seated behind him, he roared out of the garage, darting into traffic and weaving through it expertly.  All he could think though was why the Hell didn’t he meet her first?  He licked his lips, remembering how sweet her mouth had tasted and groaned inwardly.  This was going to be a long, long ride home.


Jalyse was still steaming with anger as she barely held onto him.  She gasped when he started going faster and was forced to wrap her arms around his waist, her hair whipping behind her.  She still couldn’t believe what they’d done, in front of EVERYONE in that arena!  John wasn’t going to be happy with her and quite frankly, Jalyse wasn’t happy with him either.  She sighed heavily and rested her head against Mark’s back, even though she was pissed at him, and closed her eyes tightly shut.  A few tears slid down her cheeks as they quickly dried.  So much for watching the damned show.


Mark groaned when he felt an all too familiar throbbing in his knee and pulled off to the side of the road, slowly flexing his leg.  “Give me a minute.” He said, his voice still gruff.  Slowly, he dismounted, bending down to try rubbing the pain away.  He didn’t look at her, knowing she’d either just piss him off or he’d wind up kissing her again.  Either way, someone wouldn’t be happy.  Mark groaned, feeling a headache already coming on at the mere thought of the explosions that were going to be hitting his home probably within the next twenty four hours.


“God, do you always have to be such a fuckin’ gruff about everything?” She spat back at him, folding her arms in front of her chest, and looked over at him as he flexed his knee.  She sighed heavily and slipped from the bike, walking over to him, and shoved him down in the grass since he wasn’t stable.  He was a big guy, but she wasn’t exactly a pushover either.  “Stay put or I’ll make this painful.” She threatened and took his knee in her hand, slowly starting to massage it as her hair splayed across her shoulder and down her side.  “Damn, these muscles are fuckin’ tight.” She grunted, wincing when she heard a loud pop followed by an even meaner growl from Mark’s mouth.  “Hush up, baby.  You’re supposed to be the big, bad Underwhatever, remember?”


“Go to Hell!” He growled, not amused.  Mark flinched when there was another loud pop.  “FUCK!  Christ woman, are ya tryin’ to kill me?  There’s more humane ways of doin’ it!” Mark froze, looking down when he no longer felt any pain and tentatively stretched out his leg.  “Damn…thanks Jalyse.” He said softly, staring at her apparently magical hands.


“Been there, done that, sweetness.” She retorted swiftly, smiling serenely back at him, and finally stopped as she wiped her hands off, standing up from kneeling in the grass.  “Now stand up and try walking on it.” She ordered, stepping back when he slowly did, and smirked when she seen absolutely no pain evident in his features.  “Thank you, thank you, no applause.” She giggled and bowed mockingly before placing her hands on her hips.  “Sorry for helping, but I couldn’t stand hearing you bitch and whine about it any longer.”


“I wasn’t whinin’ ya damn wench!” Mark growled and lunged for her when she just mocked him some more, lightly tackling her to the grass, and pinned her down.  “Knock it off before I ship that lil ass of yers.” He only half threatened.


“Puhlease, big boy!  You couldn’t harm a fuckin’ fly except in the ‘ring’.” She put her fingers in a quotation marks with her fingers to emphasize her point, and started laughing.  “Trust me, I can see it in your eyes that you found what I said amusing so don’t even try playing that game with me.  I’m not intimidated and I’m not scared.  You don’t do any of those things to me, hate to burst your bubble there, Calaway.”


Mark smirked, staring down at Jalyse, evil intentions in his minds.  He moved so he was sitting Indian style on the grass, pulling her across his lap, and laid three, open handed, hard smacks across her pert little ass.  He smiled grimly when she gasped.  “How’s that feel, darlin’?  I gotta tell you, I’m feelin’ a helluva lot better, you needed that.”


Jalyse immediately elbowed him in the face, causing him to groan as he fell back in the grass, and growled as she kicked him in the stomach.  “YOU SON OF A BITCH!” She shrieked, ready to rip this man apart and a new asshole, and glared down at him hatefully.  “Don’t you ever,” She began, planting her foot right on his crotch.  “And I do mean EVER, touch me like that again or I will fuckin’ castrate your ass!” She then pressed off of it before removing her foot, causing him to growl out even more, and sneered down at him before stalking away.  For added insult, she shoved his precious motorcycle on the side and stalked down the road.


Being elbowed hurt, the whole foot on his balls did not fucking amuse him, but when she shoved his motorcycle, that was the LAST fucking straw!  Mark wasted no time in getting up and followed her, his footsteps echoing ominously on the blacktop.  A minute later, Jalyse was dangling from his hand, over his head, his hand wrapped around her throat tightly.  “We have some serious problems, lil girl. “ He snarled, more than tempted to break her in half.  Mark realized what he was doing and lightly tossed her away from him.  Jalyse was going to turn him into a woman beater if he didn’t watch himself.


Coughing as she held her throat when he released her, Jalyse glared back at him, and stumbled to her feet, her teal eyes shooting fire back at him.  “You need to watch your step there, jag off, especially after what you just pulled.  Don’t think for ONE fuckin’ second that I won’t hesitate to fuckin’ hit you again.  I’m not a fucking child and I don’t appreciate you doing what you did back there.  By the way, your fucking big honker of a nose is bleeding and you’re lucky that’s the ONLY thing that’s bleeding right now!”


Mark calmly proceeded to press one finger to his nostril and shot blood at her feet from the other, sniffing loudly.  “Much fuckin’ better.” He growled, not bothered in the least by her threats.  He walked back over to survey the damage to his motorcycle.  It was superficial, the paint would need touched up, seriously.  He growled again, this was a fucking 1984 Chopped Harley!  What the Hell had she been thinking?


“Oh that’s fuckin’ SICK!” She exclaimed, stepping away from the blood, and shook her head in disgust.  She looked back up at him, seeing him surveying the damage, and smirked as she crossed her arms in front of her chest.  “I hope it’s broken, jag off!!” She shouted at him before turning on her heel and walked away down the street. 


She knew where she was going, not sure how far, but she knew the house was down the road however many miles.  She flat out REFUSED to get on the back of that motorcycle with that prick.  She’d probably end up killing him if she got within that distance after what he pulled.  After she helped him too!  That’s what pissed her off the most.  She, out of the kindness of her heart, actually helped him with his knee and what did he do?  He fucking put her over his knee and actually spanked her, treating her like a damned five year old!  Jalyse growled from low in the back of her throat angrily at the memory and vowed never to help him out again.


Chapter 7


Mark smirked, shaking his head as he heard her growl.  He knew if he let her walk she was going to probably be off her feet for the next few days.  “Get on the damned bike, Jalyse.” He ordered, sighing as he walked it alongside of her.  When she shook her head, Mark straddled it, got it running, and snatched her by the arm, forcing her to sit on his lap, facing him.  He then pulled away from the roadside, quickly hitting the speed limit, having no problems seeing over her head.


This guy had SERIOUS issues with the word no was the first thought that ran through Jalyse’s mind.  She crossed her arms in front of her chest, refusing to look up at him.  Afraid she’d poke those green eyeballs out of his sockets with her nails and growled.  The second thought that went through her mind was why couldn’t they be in this position naked and felt herself grow hot.  About as hot as the engine of the motorcycle.


Glancing down at her, Mark arched an eyebrow, hearing her growl.  He grunted, using one hand to steer and the other to wrap her arms around his neck.  “Hold on, I’m goin’ to open this baby up.” He murmured, his voice sounding like a rumble of thunder.  Mark didn’t give her time to say anything, just pushed the Harley harder, loving this open stretch of road.  He was also loving the feel of her against him, wondering to himself why the Hell they couldn’t be this way naked, though he wasn’t blushing like her.


When he opened it up, Jalyse immediately closed her eyes, her arms wrapped around his neck, and rested her head against his chest.  She loved the speed.  The exhilaration that flowed throughout her body and actually let go.  She arched her body back, her arms flying as her hair whipped around her, and wished she could fly.  If she had a super power of any kind, if that shit even existed, she would want to fly.  Not in a plane either because they gave her jetlag, but just fly freely like a bird or even a rocket.  Not to mention the fact that Jalyse’s body was going to the moon already with being this close to Mark against his muscular chest.  She had to breathe in and out slowly before she ended up hyperventilating.  Her adrenaline was up and her body was on fire.  Two combinations that were dangerous when mixed together.


Mark’s eyes kept darting back and forth from the road to her, having discarded the shades a long while ago.  It was too damned dark for them.  In the moonlight, he could see the look on her face and she was truly beautiful.  A pain in the ass, and becoming one in the dick as well, but beautiful.  He could tell she loved riding as much as him and that was a huge turn on.  Journey refused to even think about getting on a motorcycle.  When Jalyse arched her body, all thoughts of Journey quickly flew out of his mind.


She was getting a head rush from having her head arched back too much for too long and brought it forward, resting it against his chest, and rested her hands on it.  She loved how strong and muscular he was, even through the leather vest he wore.  Everything about this man turned Jalyse on, but he was a complete asshole.  How could she be attracted to a man who was set in his own ways and was almost as stubborn as her?  They’d end up killing each other before even getting to first base.  First base.  That made her laugh softly as she shook her head, her hair still whipping around her, and closed her eyes, enjoying the ride of a lifetime.  It made her miss her own motorcycle back at home and knew when she got back, she’d go for a ride.  However, it wouldn’t be anything like this one.


Just feeling Jalyse relax against him was enough to set Mark’s already simmering blood completely on fire.  He groaned softly and turned down the road to his house, halting at the gate to punch in the code.  It was no surprise to find John and Journey hadn’t returned yet.  They’d probably be gone for several more hours, especially when the fact that Mark and Jalyse hadn’t even seen the first match was taken into consideration.  He didn’t head for the garage though, just turned off a narrow dirt lane and drove down through the now empty meadow.  He’d turned the horses out some time ago before finally coming to a halt in front of a pond.


Jalyse slowly opened her eyes and looked around when they stopped, her hair looking completely wild as it framed her face, and cleared her throat.  “Where the Hell are we?” She asked, trying with all her might to keep the edginess in her voice, but was finding it hard to do so.  That ride had been her best yet as she slowly stretched her arms above her head and blinked several times before realizing they were by a pond.  “Interesting…” She slowly began un-straddling the bike, needing to stretch her legs, not having ridden in awhile.  Though she was in tremendous shape.


Mark dismounted as well, watching as she worked the feeling back into her legs.  “If ya want, you can take the bike up to the house and do whatever, but I’m feelin’ like a swim.  And not in some chemicals either.” His tone conveyed the disgust he felt for the pool, which had been put in at Journey’s request.  She found swimming in the pond nasty.  Mark kicked off his boots and socks, leaving them in a pile by a rock, and shrugged his leather vest off before walking down to the edge of the water and dived in, the pond being quite deep.


She didn’t understand this man at all.  He was like one big mystery to her as she stretched a few more times and shook her head.  He was actually going to trust her to take HIS prized possession, his bike up to the house by her lonesome?  Jalyse just laughed as she watched him swim in the pond and decided a swim wouldn’t hurt any.  She hated the pool that was at the house.  Too much chlorine.  Sighing, she sat down on the ground and took her socks and boots off before walking down to the edge, and placed her hands on her hips.  Smirking wickedly, her teal eyes gleaming in the moonlight, Jalyse backed up a little and then did a cannonball in the pond, causing water to splash everywhere, and screamed before plundering in the water.


Grinning at her, Mark paddled lazily on the surface, his hair coming out of the braid he’d weaved it in and now clung to his wet head.  He raised a hand to shield himself when water splashed him and snorted.  He smiled before doing a back stroke towards the center of the pond, his eyes fastened on the starry sky above.  He had honestly expected her to take the bike and hightail it back to the house.  It was a pleasant shock when she didn’t.


Coming up to the surface, Jalyse had a contented smile on her face as she rubbed the water from her eyes, staring over at him.  She quickly did a dive under water and did a somersault before coming back up again, waving her head back and forth to get the water out of her ears.  Her wet black hair flowed over her shoulders and down to her back while the tank top practically clung to her like a second skin.  She went on her back and started doggy paddling, staring up at the stars, and landed opposite of him.  Her head was by his feet while her feet were by his head.  “No offense, but I hate your pool.  It has too much chlorine in it.” She commented before swimming away from him.


Mark chuckled, now just floating in the water.  “I do too so none taken.” He replied, not sounding offended in the slightest.  “Too many damned chemicals in it.  When my hair is its natural color, it tends to turn blonde or green in that shit.” He made a face.


“It’s YOUR house so why don’t you fix it?” Jalyse asked as she swam over to him, leaning her elbows on his chest to keep her head above water, and looked over at him.  “Oh wait, I forgot, you’re dating my cousin, a control freak.” She shook her head with a heavy sigh and patted his leg, the one she’d massaged earlier.  “I hate to say this about my cousin because I love her dearly, but she’s the biggest control freak on the planet.  Good luck tryin’ to handle her, Calaway.  You have your hands full.” She then dived under water and started swimming to the other side.


Mark growled, already aware of that factor about Journey.  He had allowed the pool, as well as a personal salon and tanning room, but after that, he had put his foot down.  Journey hadn’t taken kindly to that and had shattered his few pictures.  Mark rolled in the water and watched Jalyse, marveling how different she was from her cousin.  Actually, she was a lot more like him and that’s probably what annoyed him the most.  Still, he felt that attraction to her and she was way more beautiful than Journey ever thought about being in his eyes.


Jalyse hadn’t meant to say what she did about her cousin, but she couldn’t help it.  Something was going on between Journey and John, she could feel it in her heart, and it hurt her more than words could say.  That she would actually make a play for her boyfriend when she had this hunk of man in her hands.  She sighed heavily, recalling the conversation she’d had with Journey about being with Mark for his body and riches.  She felt sick just thinking about it as she dived under water again before coming up to the surface.  She truly felt bad for Mark having to deal with her cousin and hoped he woke up before Journey latched her hooks into him even further to the point where he couldn’t escape.  She seen it happen before with Journey’s ex-boyfriends and she would really hate to see it happen to Mark.  Even though, he annoyed her more than words could say.


Mark shook his head, shoving away thoughts of his control freak, and most likely cheating on him, girlfriend.  He dived under the water and swam across the pond towards Jalyse.  He smirked and tugged her legs while still underwater, pulling her down partly before letting go.  He laughed and swam away, splashing her with water in his path.  He was in the mood for some fun, not wanting to think about Journey, wanting to spend his time with Jalyse.


Jalyse was shocked he actually did that and raised an eyebrow up at him.  “It’s like that huh?” When he nodded, she shrugged and dove under the water, beginning to kick her feet at him as mountains of water flowed over him, causing her laughter to echo over it, and finally stopped when he stopped splashing her.  “Learn your lesson yet, Mark?” She asked smugly with a serene smile on her face, rubbing the water out of her eyes as she raked a hand through her soaked hair.


Mark’s answer was to cut through the water towards her, wrapping his arms around her waist firmly, and grinned.  “I’d hold yer breath.” He advised before plunging under water, taking her with him.


Jalyse barely had time to do so with his warning and when they finally came up for air, she was breathless as she coughed a little.  She then caught Mark completely off guard before dunking him and swam away, smirking wickedly as her teal eyes gleamed.  She then dived under water, going all the way down, and kicked her feet as she swam over to the other side of the pond before finally coming up for air.  “You don’t stand a chance against me, Calaway!” She called out, knowing he was under water somewhere.



Mark was right behind her, slowly surfacing, his patented wicked grin firmly in place on his lips.  “Oh really?” He murmured in her ear, his voice low and husky, wrapping his arms around her waist, pinning her arms at her side.


She jumped when she felt his arms wrap around her body, locking her arms at her sides, and felt his soaking wet body pressed against hers.  She felt her heart rate quicken, his deep, husky voice sending shivers coursing down her spine, and tried squirming away from him.  “Oh come on, this is not fair!” She groaned, trying to twist her body out of his embrace.  “Mark, you better let me go or else…”


“Or else what?” He whispered in a challenge, his voice deepening even more, and groaned inwardly when she squirmed against him.  “Jalyse…” He hissed, feeling his body beginning to come alive for her.  “You might not want to keep on doin’ that.”


“Then let me go and I won’t keep doing it.” She stated back at him and literally jumped away from him, out of his arms, when she felt something poke her.  She whipped around, her teal eyes widened, and cleared her throat, running her fingers through her hair.  “Okay, I think its time we had a talk because obviously, we both have some sexual chemistry with each other, but we’re both with somebody.” She hated saying this to him, especially when she wanted him, but she had to be faithful to John.  Even though he wasn’t being faithful back to her.


“So you noticed too.” Mark said wryly, raking a hand through his own wet hair and swam back from her.  He was well aware they were both with someone and wanted to ask her if she even loved John, but held himself back for a couple of reasons.  One, it was none of his damned business, even if he did find this annoying bitch incredibly attractive.  Two, that’d just be asking for her to shoot back some questions of her own at him.


“Who wouldn’t notice, especially after that kiss we shared earlier?  I mean, I kinda get the feeling that you don’t really care about my cousin and not that I blame you.  She’s not exactly the…LOVEABLE…type, if you catch my drift.  That’s none of my business though, but it is my business when this starts.” She pointed to her and then him, back and forth a few times, and coughed a little.  “I just want to make sure we’re on the same page about this, Mark.  I’m not trying to pry into your life because, quite frankly, I don’t really want to do that.”


Mark just stared at her, his eyes suddenly guarded, and nodded.  “Good, then the thing fer us to do is just kinda keep clear.” He had a feeling Journey and John were most likely fucking.  It would be interesting to do so, especially if he knew Journey as well as he thought he did, that woman would have John out of the house any chance she could.  “I think we’re on the same page, Jalyse.”


It stung her somewhat for him to say those words to her, but she understood.  She cleared her throat and nodded before swimming over to the edge, pulling herself out of the pond, dripping wet from head to toe.  Her jeans clung to every inch of her legs, showing just how toned they were, and her tank top basically clung to her like a second skin, showing off the shape of her breasts and her curves.  She shook the water out of her hair and walked over to her boots and socks, picking them up, and headed back to the house.  She wanted to walk, not wanting to be anywhere near him right now.  She had to calm her body down or else she was going to explode in passion and run back into his arms.


Chapter 8


Mark rolled his eyes, not believing how stubborn this woman was.  He got out of the pond, put his own things in the saddlebags on the Harley, and straddled it, feeling a definite chill in the air.  He drove up alongside her and ordered, “Just git on a’ fore you catch sick.” His voice was calm.  “I promise to behave myself.” He arched an eyebrow at her, wondering if she was going to tell him where to stick it or just be an adult and accept the damned ride.


“I would rather walk, Mark.” She answered him softly, no edge in her voice, and wrapped her arms around herself when he stopped in front of her.  “What the HELL do you want from me?!” She snapped, her eyes suddenly narrowing to slits.


“Nothin’ you can give me.” He snarled, his own green eyes flashing dangerously.  Damn this woman both annoyed him to the point where he might actually harm her and then at the same time, she was driving him up the wall in a very non-appropriate way.  “Look, I’m offerin’ you a ride…to the house.  But if you want to walk, be my damned guest.  Just make sure ya look out for snakes.  They nest in this area at night and if ya wake’em up, yer gonna be hurtin’.”


“Fine jackass, I’ll take your damned ride!  Just shut the fuck up!” She ordered in a snarl of her own, her eyes flashing back at him, and hopped on the bike as she crossed her arms in front of her chest.  She was holding her socks and boots as she shook her head, not believing what an asshole he was being toward her.  What in the Hell had she done to deserve his attitude all of a sudden?  Just because she wanted to be faithful to her boyfriend?


Mark didn’t say a word, just headed up to the ranch.  He deposited her at the door before pulling into the garage.  He parked his Harley before getting off of it, suddenly shaking with fury.  Unexplainable fury.  Mark gripped hold of his work bench with both hands, his knuckles turning white before flipping it.  Watching as the tools bounced off the concrete below before stalking inside.


Jalyse was already inside the house, heading toward her bedroom, and raked a hand through her hair.  This man was pissing her off to the point where she couldn’t think straight.  At the same time, she wanted him to just fuck her brains out.  She groaned at that thought and knew she had to take a cold shower to calm her body down.  It was lit on fire, engulfing in flames, and hoped the next month passed by quickly so she could be far away from him.


“J?  You in here, baby?” John knocked lightly on the bathroom door, sticking his head inside.  He smiled when he seen her, already bare-chested.  “I’ll just wait out here for you, then I’m next.  Man, I’m beat.  That was a boring flick.  How was the wrestling thing?”


Jalyse had to roll her eyes when he said he was beat.  Yeah, he was beat alright, probably from fucking her cousin’s brains out.  Sighing, she didn’t poke her head out as she called back, “It was fine, I learned a lot about the business.” She lied, knowing she couldn’t tell him about the heated kiss, even though it would most likely be in the paper tomorrow.  She turned the shower off, wrapping a towel around her body, and flipped her wet hair over her shoulder after drying it.  “So, how was the movie?” She asked, trying to keep the sneer out of her voice as she walked past him and into the room.


“Boring.  Not enough explosions.” John replied promptly, being a shoot them up, blow it up kind of guy.  “You look tired baby, old man give you a hard time?” He asked, fumbling around in the dresser for a beater and a pair of boxers.


“You could say that, but I handled him.” She replied with a smirk, changing into a pair of pajama pants with a tank top and started brushing her hair out as she sat down on the bed.  “What movie did you go see?” She asked casually, raising an eyebrow in his direction, and hid the anger that shined in her eyes well as she seen him freeze for a minute.


“Something with Jim Carrey.  I can’t remember the name.  It looked cool, but it wasn’t.  Mostly, I chatted with this guy next to me.” John answered with a shrug, arching an eyebrow back at her.  “You handled him?  What’d he do?”


“Oh you know, just knocked him down a peg or two.  He didn’t do anything to me, John.” She assured him, lying straight to his face like he just did with her, and raked a hand through her hair.  “So, what else did you two do besides going to see the movie?” She asked in the same casual, cool tone of voice.


“Grabbed a burger at a joint across the street from the theater.  Journey showed me some of the clubs.  We didn’t check them out, but I was thinking we could go…you know…a date.  You and me.  What do you say?” John asked, staring at her with hope shining in his blue eyes.


“Hmm nah, I don’t think so, John.  I mean, we haven’t went out on a date in AGES, so what would be the point in starting now?” She stood up from the bed, tossing her brush on her bag, and patted him on the shoulder.  “Glad you enjoyed yourself tonight.” Her tone of voice held a sense of sadness to it and disappointment as she walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.  As soon as she heard the lock click, Jalyse allowed the tears to sting her eyes and decided she needed some fresh air.  Her boyfriend had just lied to her face and she saw absolutely no remorse in his eyes.


Mark was sitting out back, now wearing just a pair of blue jeans, freshly showered.  He was sitting on the edge of the patio, his three hellion dogs at his feet.  He sighed, rubbing the side of his head where Journey had clipped him with her purse when he’d asked her how her night went.  Instantly going off on him for just one innocent question.  Well, it hadn’t been innocent, more like blunt, but Mark was sick of acting like he didn’t know what the fuck was going on.


Jalyse slammed the screen door shut hard, the tears already pouring down her cheeks, and looked up, instantly stopping when she seen Mark with his dogs.  “Oh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t see you out here…” She immediately turned her face from him, not wanting him to see her tears, and walked over to the other ledge that was away from him, staring out at the huge stretch of land.  She raked a hand through her hair, coughing out a little, and wiped her tears away.  Her back was turned fully to Mark’s presence as she silently cried.  She still felt sick to her stomach at the scent of Journey’s disgusting perfume all over her boyfriend and for him to ask her on a date, the audacity caused her stomach to turn violently.


Mark heard Jalyse sniffle and had a fairly good idea of why she was crying.  He had seen an interesting hickey like mark on Journey’s shoulder when she started to undress.  He wanted to say something to Jalyse about their cheating mates, but didn’t know what she’d have to say in return.  Honestly, he wasn’t ready to have another fight with her just yet.  Sighing, he stood up, shooing the dogs away, and stuffed his hands into his pockets, gazing out at the dark yard.


Jumping, Jalyse felt a wet nose collide with her leg, causing her to look down at the dog, and felt more tears fall from her eyes.  They landed on the patio deck below and on the dog’s fur as she raised an eyebrow.  “What do you want?” She asked softly, bending down, and started petting him, wiping her tears away.  The dog started whining as it began nudging her hand more when she stopped petting him and started licking her face.  Licking her tears away.  Jalyse actually laughed softly as she kissed the top of the dog’s head, always having a love for dogs.


“He likes you.” Mark said softly, turning to watch her with his dog.  “You…alright?” He cleared his throat awkwardly, raking a hand through his hair, and waited for her to bite his head off.


“I’m fine, Mark.” She quietly replied, no edginess or harshness to her voice, and started petting the dog behind the ear, allowing a few more tears to spill down her cheeks.  The dog licked them away, as if trying to make her pain vanish, and whimpered this time.  “What’s it’s name?” She asked him, her focus solely on the dog, and smiled as she slowly rose to her feet before turning to look out at the darkness once more.


“Read the tag.” Mark said gently, sounding amused.  “And it is a HE.  Don’t be callin’ my boy an it, he’s still sportin’ them jewels.” He laughed softly.


“My mistake, like I would’ve known it was on his collar, jackass.” She shot back at him and bent down, reading the label, and smirked as she looked back up at Mark.  “Hades?  Yeah, that’s definitely a dog of yours.  Lemme guess, the others are called Pain and Panic?” She laughed and it died when he just nodded.  “Well damn, that was just a guess!”


“Good guess.” Mark groaned when he heard more shattering from inside the house, wondering what the Hell there was left to break.  “I guess I’d best go find out what of mine she’s destroyin’ now.” He muttered, having every intention of ending things with Journey as soon as possible.


“Can I ask you something?” She asked suddenly, causing him to stop dead in his tracks, and the moonlight shone on her face, showing him her tear streaks.  She stood up from petting the dog again as her teal eyes locked on his emerald gems.  When he nodded back at her, Jalyse walked over to him and raked a hand through her hair and asked, “Why do you put up with her?  I love my cousin, but she treats you like a piece of trash and this is YOUR house.  It’s none of my business, but I’m just wondering why you put up with her.”


Mark shrugged, having been asking himself that question a lot as of late.  “I don’t know, guess I’m used to her.” He sighed, raking a hand through his hair, his eyes studying her face intently.  “Why do you put up with John?”


Jalyse looked truly taken aback by his question, blinking a little, and cleared her throat loudly before turning around and walking back over to the ledge.  “Because we’ve been together for so long that I’m used to him.  I know how he thinks, how he works.  I guess maybe I’m afraid of ending things with him.  I mean, three years is a lot to just throw away.” She couldn’t believe she was actually opening up to him and raked a hand through her hair, sighing heavily as more tears started sliding down her cheeks.


Nodding, Mark knew exactly what she meant by that.  “That’s how it is with Journey.  I’ve been with her for two years and it’d be so damned strange to be alone suddenly.  Though, I think I’d be savin’ a lot of stuff from bein’ broken that way mind you.” Mark shifted awkwardly when he seen her cry, reaching into his back pocket, and pulled out a black bandana, holding it out to her.


“You know don’t you?” It was more of a statement than an actual question as she took his bandana from him, wiping her tears away, and sniffled as she breathed in sharply.  Her eyes locked on his emerald green orbs, seeing he’d had the same suspicions as she did, but he didn’t voice them.  Not yet anyway.


“Yer cousin was sportin’ a love mark that I know I didn’t give her.” Mark said darkly, meeting her eyes.  “I’ve had a pretty good idea of what’s been up since that day at the pool, when I invited ya to come to the house show with me in Dallas.” He rolled his eyes heavenward.  “And before ya ask, the reason I ain’t said anythin’ or done anythin’ is because yer her cousin and you two seem to get along rather well.  I didn’t want to spoil it.”


“She’s a slut.” She stated in a dark, angry voice, her eyes suddenly narrowing to dangerous slits, and raked a hand through her hair hastily.  “She is absolutely, one hundred percent a class A slut who doesn’t give a damn about anyone’s feelings, but her own.  She’s done this to me all our lives.  Every boyfriend I’ve had, though John was my first major one, she’s stolen from me.  John smelled like her and I noticed he had a few scratch marks on his chest since he was shirtless that I didn’t give him when he walked in the bedroom.” She couldn’t take it anymore and started crying, turning away from him, and leaned against the ledge as she cried her heart and soul out.  “How could they do this to us??”


Mark sighed, walking up to stand behind her, placing his large hands on her shoulders as a gesture of comfort.  “I don’t know…cause they’re scum of the earth?” He was already planning revenge, wondering what the best way to nail these fuckers was.  “Are ya goin’ to confront him?”


“There’s no point in doing that.  He’s going to deny it and lie to my face just like he did earlier.  He told me they went to see some Jim Carrey movie that he couldn’t remember.  Can you believe that crock of shit?  Does he honestly think I’m THAT dense?” She shook her head in disappointment and raked her hands through her hair, not minding his hands on her shoulders.  She needed the comfort at the moment as she sighed.  “It’s been over for awhile between us.  Ever since he started...” She stopped, not wanting to relive it, and took a deep breath.  “We’ve just been over for awhile and I think after we leave here, I’ll end it with him.  Let them have their fun, I’m done with him and I’m done with her.” She meant every word she said as she sniffled a little, wiping her tears away with his bandana.


“Started doin’ what?” Mark asked softly, knowing this probably had something to do with whatever she’d been dreaming about that one night when he tried waking her up.  She’d screamed out John’s name and the word no.  “He doesn’t…hit ya, does he Jalyse?”


Chapter 9


“No, he’s never laid a hand on me in that way.” Jalyse assured him, sniffling a little, and leaned further against the deck as she raked a hand through her hair, sighing raggedly.  “He started…getting rougher with me as far as the sex went.  He was almost breaking me in half to be brutally honest with you.  I finally told him I couldn’t take the brutality anymore and that’s when he stopped wanting it.  That’s when I got my suspicions that he was getting it elsewhere and it was my cousin because they are both sex addicts.”


Mark knew that about Journey firsthand.  He himself had a healthy appetite, but the woman just didn’t seem to ever want to stop.  He had a sneaking suspicion that if she could, she’d skip the air she breathed and live solely on sex.  Mark felt like snapping John’s neck in two.  He didn’t care if the kid had done it knowingly or not.  Just the thought of someone hurting Jalyse, sexually or not, was enough to royally piss him off.  He studied her thoughtfully and finally asked, “You sure you don’t want to confront them while they’re together?”


“Why so we can look like complete morons, Mark?” She shot back hurtfully, leaning back against him since she’d stumbled, her knees giving out on her a little from the exhaustion that’d taken over her body suddenly.  She hadn’t cried this much in a long time.  “If you have a plan in mind, then you tell me now because at this point, I honestly don’t care if their hearts get ripped out of their chests.”


“I’ve got a fair few amount of ideas swirlin’ round.” Mark admitted in a drawl, gently picking her up in his arms and carried her over to the gliding swing that was on the patio.  Mark set her down and lowered himself beside her.  “Mainly, I’m wantin’ to catch the two together.” He smiled coldly.  “Hard to look like a moron when the evidence is right there in yer face.”


Blinking a little at him carrying her over to the swing, Jalyse looked over at him with a raised eyebrow after he’d set her down.  “So in other words, you want to walk in on them fucking each other’s brains out.” It was a statement once again as she crossed her arms in front of her chest.  “You know they won’t show any remorse right?  They’ll just blame it on us, saying we did something wrong…”She raked a hand through her hair in frustration.


“Which is the point where I’m gonna grab them by the hair, drag their sorry asses outta my house, and inform Journey that things just ain’t workin’ out.” Mark replied, looking somewhat amused though his eyes were dark with rage.  “Then I might just set my dogs on them.”


“That’d be something amusing to see…” She smirked at the thought of the dog’s part and started giggling, bringing her knees up to curl beneath her, and leaned back against the swing as they started gliding together gently.  “What else did you have in mind besides catching them doing the nasty?  You said you had other ideas in mind, what are they?” She pressed curiously, looking out at the long stretch of land, and sighed heavily, not believing she was about to end her three year relationship with John.


“Well obviously tyin’ their asses up and drownin’ them out back in the rain barrel is outta the question.  Too bad they made murder illegal, eh?” Mark smirked, about to say something else when Journey stepped out, glaring at them.  “Hey.”


“You planning on coming to bed anytime soon or just going to sit out here and…chat?” Journey asked, her blue eyes blazing with fury as she had her hands on her hips, her voice dripping with scorn and hatred.


“Haven’t decided.” Mark simply replied, staring straight at her, and shot her the same look she was shooting him.


“Why don’t you go see what John is up too?” Jalyse suggested heatedly back at her cousin, her teal eyes shooting fire back at her, not believing she was her blood.  She had her arms crossed in front of her chest, her legs now crossed, and dared Journey to say something else to them.


“Maybe I will since you two seem so damned cozy!” Journey spat, her eyes locked on Mark, who simply smiled sardonically at her.  “Motherfucker…” She hissed, spinning around, blonde hair flying, and stormed back inside the house.


“I think you pissed her off.” Mark drawled, sounding bored with amusement shining in his eyes.


“Good, she deserves a lot more than that.  Her and that prick I used to refer to as my boyfriend.” She stated, not phased in the least by her cousin’s outburst, and continued swinging with Mark.  She felt at peace with him for the first time since they’d met and sighed when the tears started building in her eyes again.  “Go on with your ideas.” She urged, trying to keep her voice from cracking.


Mark nodded, opening his mouth before frowning, his green eyes widening when he heard something crash.  “If she’s doin’ what I think she is…” He growled, getting up, another loud crash confirming it.  “My goddamn bikes!” Mark practically dived into the house, heading straight for the garage.  He wasn’t all that shocked to find Journey tipping them over.  “GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE BEFORE I RIP YER DAMNED HEAD OFF!” He roared, his voice booming throughout the garage.


“You love these stupid bikes more then you do me!” Journey screamed back, tears streaming down her face before fleeing out of the garage.


Jalyse had actually bolted in the house behind Mark and physically cringed at the damage her cousin had caused, shaking her head in disgust.  “Oh Mark…” She couldn’t say anything else, staring at all the broken pieces of his prized possessions, and could already feel the anger welling up inside her body.  She turned around and stalked into the house.  “JOURNEY MARIE CARLTON!  GET YOUR ASS DOWN HERE RIGHT FUCKING NOW!” Jalyse bellowed, her voice bouncing off the walls of the house, not caring if John even heard her at this point.


“Go to Hell, Jalyse!  Why don’t you just mind your own damned business!” Journey shouted back, slamming a door shut behind her.


John came running out, flying backwards when Mark stalked by, and getting shoved aside.  His blue eyes widened when he seen Mark was carrying a piece of one of his motorcycles as he climbed the stairs.  “Um…What is going on?” He asked hesitantly.


“What’s going on is the fact that we’re THROUGH, John!” Jalyse shouted back at her boyfriend, tears building in her eyes, and shook her head as the disappointment swelled through her teal orbs.  “I can’t believe I actually trusted you.  Trusted my own cousin, who was supposed to love me, instead of use me to get some more DICK!  Was it good, John?  Was it fucking good to fuck her brains out when you KNEW she was with Mark the entire time?  You two make me fucking SICK and I hate you both!  I HATE YOU!!” She tackled him to the floor and started hitting him with everything she had inside of her.  “YOU BROKE MY HEART, YOU BASTARD!”


John instantly shielded his face form her blows.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about, J baby!” He shouted back at her.  When she screamed out liar at him, he changed tactics.  “It’s not like that, J!  She fucking came onto me!”


Jalyse pushed herself off of him and actually kicked him in the ribs, causing him to groan, and spit on him as the tears poured down her cheeks like two raging rivers.  “You’ve hurt me for the LAST time, you PRICK!  It’s OVER between us, John!  It’s fucking OVER!” She shouted at him, backing up a little, and wrapped her arms around herself, trembling.  “How could you break my heart this way when all I ever did was love you?  You make me physically ill, you and that little slut whore of a cousin I have!  I hope Mark breaks her in half for what she’s done and how much abuse she’s inflicted on him!!  I hope it was worth it, John.  I hope it was REALLY worth it because this is the LAST time you’ll EVER see or hear from me!  Now get the fuck out of here and get to the airport.  I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN!”


Journey let out an ear piercing scream when Mark had decided he’d had enough of her abusing the Hell out of him.  She found her sorry ass being pinned to the wall by the bike piece, which was being pressed dangerously hard against her throat as she screamed out, “MARK, NO!”


“I want you to get the Hell outta my house, hear me?” He growled menacingly, his muscles bulging out of his arm, and his green eyes spitting venom back at her.


When he released her throat by pulling the bike piece away, Journey came flying down the stairs, tripping in her own haste, followed by a lot of clothing.  “I FUCKING HATE YOU!” She screamed, scooping up her clothes and retreating, watching as Mark slowly stalked towards her.  “Just you wait, Mark, I’ll burn this place to the fucking ground, you son of a bitch!”


“Take that…boy and get the Hell out of my house!” Mark ordered coldly, watching as John backed away from Jalyse, sporting a seriously fucked up face from her blows.  “Before you wind up lookin’ like him, only worse cause my hands are a lot bigger and a helluva lot harder.” He threatened, flexing his fingers in her direction.


John stared at the woman he used to call his girlfriend.  “Nice…you’re going to stay here with a fucking woman beater, huh?” He spat, helping Journey when she stumbled.  “Hope you’re both very fucking happy together!”


“No see, there’s where you’re wrong.  We were NEVER together, not like you two.” Jalyse hissed back at them, glaring hatefully at her cousin, and walked over, not laying a finger on her.  “I never want to speak or see you again.  You call me once and I’ll fuckin’ hunt you down and KILL you myself!  I hate you, Journey!  I hate you so much right now.  I hope it was worth it.  I hope his dick was worth it because you’re not my twin anymore!  We were never twins cause I’m not a slutbag whore like YOU!”


Journey’s nostrils flared and she went to strike Jalyse only to find her hand lost in Mark’s huge fist.  “Let me go you bastard!  Bullshit, you two have probably been going at it since day one!  You’re both the same, two pathetic morbid losers who’ll never be anything because you’re both worthless!  You hear me, J?  WORTHLESS!” She spat at her cousin, jerking away from Mark, and gathered her bags.  “Come on, John…”


Nodding, his blue eyes locked on his now ex-girlfriend and shook his head in disgust.  “Yeah…let these two get back to whatever it is they do.  Fucking animals or something.  Hick fucks.” He cursed, following Journey out the door.


Mark followed them, letting out a shrill whistle as he bellowed, “HADES, PAIN, PANIC, SICK’EM!” He watched as the trio instantly bounded out the door and immediately went to attack John and Journey, a sick smile on his face.


“AT LEAST WE WERE FAITHFUL FUCKIN’ COUNTRY HICKS UNLIKE YOU TWO CHEATING SCUMBAGS!” Jalyse screamed out the door, tears streaming down her cheeks, and watched as John hastily put Journey in the car.  The dogs were jumping on it and peeled out of there like the hounds of Hell were on their ass, which they were. 


She finally stumbled back from the door and raked a hand through her hair, knowing it was over between her and John.  It had been for awhile and she was finally glad it was over.  Not saying a word to Mark, Jalyse walked into her guest room and immediately started packing.  She wasn’t welcome here and she knew it because this was her cousin’s ex-boyfriend and she couldn’t stand Mark to be quite honest.  The man could light her body and blood on fire and make her temper rise in two point five seconds.


Mark followed her, leaning in the doorway, and watched her.  He knew she was leaving and he had a fairly good idea why.  “Why don’t ya just stay tonight, Jalyse?  Yer cryin’ and not really in the condition to be drivin’.” He suggested gently, not wanting to upset her anymore than she was.


“No, I need to leave.  We did what we were going to do and now its over.  I think I’m going to catch the red eye flight out of here and hope to never step foot in Houston again.” Her heart shattered, laying in a million pieces at the bottom of her stomach as she continued packing, crying and sobbing.  She wanted to just lay down in a dark hole and never come out again.  She’d been stupid enough to stay with John for three years.  Three years of heartache.  Who knew how many women he fucked behind her back?  That thought caused her to cry harder as she started slamming her clothes harshly in her bag.


Mark gently pulled her away from the bed, away from her bag, and stared down at her.  “We’re back to hatin’ each other?” He asked softly, wiping away her tears with the pad of his thumb.


Her bottom lip trembled as she closed her eyes, letting the tears spill down her cheeks, and felt her heart squeeze with pain at what he said.  “No, I don’t hate you.” She assured him, her voice cracking, but she didn’t care at the moment.  “I’m sorry for what I did, but I couldn’t handle it anymore.  Those beautiful bikes that she destroyed.  I can’t explain it.  Something snapped inside of me and I knew you had this all planned out, but I’m an action kinda gal.  When I see something isn’t right, I fuckin’ step up no matter what I’m getting myself into.”


“Oh believe me, when I seen my bikes all bets were off.” Mark assured her.  “And they can be fixed, I think.” He sighed, staring down at her, hating to see her cry.  “Come on out to the livin’ room with me.  I’ll build a fire, open a bottle of somethin’ with a high volume of alcohol, and we’ll toast Pain, Hades, and Panic takin’ a few chunks outta those two scumbags’ asses.” Mark stated, not wanting her to leave, especially in the condition she was in.  He didn’t want her to leave period, but knew he couldn’t stop her, except this one night.


Deciding to say the Hell with it, Jalyse nodded as she threw her clothes down that were clutched in her hands on the bed and allowed him to guide her out to the living room.


Chapter 10


Once inside the living room, Jalyse had to look around, never having been in this room before, and couldn’t believe how dark, yet comforting it was.  Black leather furniture that looked extremely comfortable with a huge fireplace and two other couches filled the room.  It was a huge room and it ended with a huge screen television and a nice stereo system.  Jalyse looked around as she finally sat down on the couch, and curled her feet beneath her, sniffling a little, and wiped her tears away.  They kept falling though.


Mark wasted no time in building a roaring fire, leaning back on his haunches to stare into it, feeling the warmth washing over him.  Though, it didn’t penetrate any farther than his skin.  Sighing, he stood up, walking over to what appeared to be a wall, and slid open the panel to reveal his private liquor cabinet.  “What would you like?  And it’s all hard stuff…sorry.” He glanced back at her.


“It doesn’t matter.” She whispered softly, her eyes locked on the fire, and leaned back against the couch, breathing raggedly from crying so hard.  The flames danced as she finally tore her eyes away from it and looked up at Mark, raking a hand through her hair.  “Are you sure this is okay?  I mean, we haven’t exactly gotten along, Mark…” She pointed out the obvious, biting her bottom lip, and sighed.


Mark held out a glass of whiskey, his drink of choice, holding his own glass.  He waited until she took it before settling down on the other couch, sprawling on it comfortably, and stared at her.  “I would hope we’re gettin’ along now…” He toasted her by raising his glass up.


“Yeah, all because of our cheating spouses.” She laughed bitterly, toasting him, and downed the whiskey, not even wincing.  She was a drinker, she wasn’t afraid to admit it, and set the glass down on the table before curling up in a ball on the couch.  Tears poured down her cheeks as they reflected off the firelight that engulfed her body.  Why was she with John for so long?  More important question, why the fuck was she still HERE with Mark?


Mark drained his own glass.  “Screw this formal shit.” He growled, getting up and getting them each their own bottle.  He stared down at Jalyse almost broodingly.  “Yer regrettin’ stayin’ here aren’t you.” He wasn’t asking.


“No, I’m just…I’m hurting right now and I don’t like showing people my tears.  They show weakness and I hate them, but after what they did, I can’t help, but cry.  It hurts to know that he never gave a damn about me and I gave him three years of my life and heart.” She sniffled a little, taking the bottle from him, their fingers brushing momentarily, and felt a jolt of fire rush down her arm as she filled her glass again, downing it.  “I hope they’re very fucking happy together, those fucking pricks.”


Mark understood the weakness bit with the tears and personally agreed with her.  He almost jumped at the lightening that coursed through him when their fingers brushed together, and dropped back down on his couch, drinking straight from the bottle.  “Sometimes it’s good to just…let it out, Jalyse.” He said finally.  “And he didn’t deserve you.”


“I hardly know you though.” She pointed out, throwing the glass in the fire as it erupted a little, and didn’t care as she took the bottle and started downing it.  Her heart was broken and she wanted to be numb from head to toe from the pain that was coursing through her heart.   She finally pulled away, collapsing back on the couch as she allowed the bottle to hang from her hand and started crying again.  “I hate him so much.” Her voice cracked again and shook her head, wiping her tears away angrily.  “Fuck them.  Just wait until I talk to her mother.  I’m going to make Journey wish she’d never even FUCKED with me and my life!”


Mark listened patiently as she ranted, arching an eyebrow when he seen how much whiskey she had packed away already, and had to smile to himself.  This woman was so much like him.  It was becoming scary.  He worked his way through his own bottle, never taking his eyes off of her.  Even with swollen eyes and a red nose, she was still drop dead gorgeous, her cheeks becoming ruddy as well.


Finally draining her bottle, Jalyse slowly set it down on the table before laying down on the couch, her arm draped over her head as she stared up at the ceiling.  “Did you ever love her?” She asked out of nowhere, drunk beyond belief, and hiccupped a little as she started laughing through her tears before going back to being serious again.  “I mean, did you ever TRULY love her or was it just a convenience to have her here?”


“I cared about her, but no, I didn’t love.” Mark answered honestly.  “She wasn’t that way when we first got together.  I noticed what a bitch she was after she’d moved in and been here fer awhile.  By then, I was just…used to it.  Obviously, it weren’t no convenience havin’ her here.  I now own nothing, but plastic dishes.” Mark stared at her, wondering if she was going to be sick.


“Trust me when I say this, Mark, you made the right decision in throwing her ass out.” Jalyse sniffled and coughed out a little, feeling her head spinning a little, but nothing she couldn’t handle.  “This must be really awkward for you, having her cousin here and all, but I hope you’ve realized that I’m nothing like her.  I’m a hardass bitch and I don’t take shit from anyone.  She, on the other hand, likes to spread her legs to the first guy she lays her eyes on.  Do you know what she said to me when I first got here about you?”


Mark cocked an eyebrow, finishing off his own bottle, and set it down on the floor.  “I’m not awkward with ya here.  If I was, I woulda let you leave.” He informed her gently.  He felt curious in spite of himself when she mentioned that last bit and slowly moved to the floor, stoking the fire back to life.  “What’d she say to ya?”


“She said she was with you for your riches and the sex.” She felt sick just hearing those words come from her mouth and shook her head in disgust.  “I wanted to fuckin’ punch her lights out when she said that, but it didn’t surprise me.  She’s a gold digging hussy who spreads her legs for the first eligible bachelor she can find.” Jalyse wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, especially after having a whole bottle of whiskey inside of her, and coughed out a little as she wiped her eyes.  She was still laying on the couch, but glanced over at him before back at the ceiling.


Sighing heavily, Mark laid back on the floor in front of the fire, folding his hands under his head.  “That seems to be the story of my life, which is why I ain’t too surprised.” He grunted, mentally cursing up a storm.  It seemed every woman he had been with only wanted him for those two things.  “Christ…” He muttered, running his hand down his face, scrubbing it.


“I’m sorry, Mark.  I really am sorry, but you had the right to know exactly what kind of woman you were fucking.  Shit, makes me wonder how she lives with herself.” She scoffed disgustingly at the thought of her cousin and scrubbed her hand down her face, sighing heavily. 


They were silent for what seemed like an eternity.  Each in their own thoughts.  Jalyse started thinking about Mark.  She wouldn’t want him for his riches or the sex, even though those were bonuses.  She was more about finding out what was inside the guy than out, but of course, that would never happen.  John had broken her heart and she was through with men for awhile.  She’d focus on her career.  On her own life.  Instead of worrying about a man.


Mark was busy thinking that the sooner he got back to work, the better all the way around he’d be.  At least on the road, he was too damned tired at the end of the night to care about anything besides hitting the pillows.  He was honestly getting tired of this shit with women.  He doubted he’d ever find a woman who wasn’t just interested in his money or being in his bed.  “What’re ya thinkin’?” He finally asked, dragging himself out of his thoughts.


“Thinking about how I’m sick and tired of men in general and that the sooner I get the fuck out of here and back to school, the better off I’ll be.” Jalyse answered, no remorse evident in her voice or eyes as she continued staring up at the ceiling.  She was never one to beat around the bush.  Never one to sugarcoat anything.  She sighed, wondering what the Hell she was going to do for the next month.


“School?  What’re ya majorin’ in?” Mark asked curiously, rolling onto his side and propped himself up on his elbow, his hair falling over his bare shoulder.  “And do ya got a place to go too?  You got one more month left dontcha?”


“God what is this, twenty questions?” She shot back at him, feeling her head throb, and sighed heavily as she raked a hand through her hair.  She slowly sat up and leaned against the armrest of the couch.  “My major, not that its any of your business, but its in writing and journalism.  I’m going back for my master’s and then I’m finished.”


“Sorry, didn’t know it was a crime to be interested.” Mark muttered, rolling back over and closing his eyes.


Groaning, Jalyse raked a hand through her hair and slowly stumbled over from the couch, landing on the floor on the side of him on her knees.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to snap at you like that.” She sighed and leaned back against the coffee table, closing her eyes.  “No, I don’t have any place else to stay for the summer except my dorm room.  I’ll survive there, just have to live on fast food for a month.” She shrugged, coughing a little.


Mark knew he had too much to drink when he instantly said what he was thinking.  “You can stay here if ya like…” He shrugged, not looking at her.  “Plenty of things to keep ya occupied and outta a stuffy dorm.”


Raising an eyebrow down at him, Jalyse bit her bottom lip, wondering if that was the alcohol talking, and cleared her throat loudly.  “I’m not sure that’s a good idea…” She trailed off, feeling her head spinning again, and closed her eyes as she took a few deep, calming breaths.  Crying and hard liquor didn’t mix well ever.


“Why not?” He shot back, one green eye popping open, staring at her.


“I’m your ex-girlfriend’s cousin, Mark.  Do you know how fucked up that is and besides, we don’t get along.  We can’t stand the sight of each other and when we do, it’s for a short brief of time.  You honestly want me to stay here and drive you batty for the next month?” She questioned him, opening her eyes slowly to stare down at him, her eyebrow still raised, and shook her head as she sighed heavily.  “I know you’re drunk so I’ll just forget what you’ve said.” She started to get up.


Mark reached out and grabbed her arm, pulling her back down, accidentally causing her to land on top of him.  “I’m sure we can keep civil tongues in our heads…” He replied, staring at her, relaxing his grip.  “And who cares about you bein’ the slut’s cousin, yer not anythin’ like her.  A blind man could see that, Jalyse.” He tried reasoning with her, not wanting her to go anywhere, and couldn’t explain why he was fighting to keep her with him.


“I know I’m not anything like her, but…” She trailed off again, realizing the awkward and compromising position they were both in, and stared down into his hazy emerald green eyes.  Her bluish black hair pooled around them as her hands were gripping his chest since he’d caught her off guard and her knee was in between his legs.  Damned if the man wasn’t gorgeous as Hell and she had to admit, he had hypnotic eyes.  She licked her dried lips and cleared her throat, still hoarse from crying so much.  “How bout if I ask you tomorrow and see if you remember a word you’ve said to me tonight?” She finally suggested, deciding compromising with him would be better than getting into an argument.


A slow, sexy smirk crossed Mark’s sinfully sensual lips.  “You can do that, but I promise ya, I’ll remember.” He whispered, reaching up to gently brush her hair with his fingertips, loving how silky it felt against his touch.


Jalyse bit her bottom lip as his fingers started to brush through her hair and the sound of his voice sent shivers down her spine.  The fire was roaring on the side of them as she felt her head spin.  It wasn’t because of the alcohol or crying though.  It was staring into this man’s spellbinding green orbs as she finally tore her gaze from his and looked down at her hands that were planted firmly on his chest.  “We’ll see if you do, Mark.” She murmured back in a soft voice.


Mark gently, but firmly cupped her chin in one of his large, muscular hands, making her look back into his eyes.  “I will.” He lightly brushed his lips against hers before lowered his head back down on the floor, staring up at her.  “You look exhausted, Jalyse.” He pointed out, his voice sounding like a gentle rumble of thunder that came from his chest.


She was frozen solid against him, her nails actually digging into his flesh, and her teal eyes were as wide as saucers.  He just kissed her AGAIN!  She slowly felt her limbs able to move, hearing him say that, and coughed as she felt her cheeks inflame as she looked away from him.  “Yeah, I am.  No offense, but this has been a long night.” She finally managed to pull her nails from his chest and raked a hand through her hair nervously.


Mark nodded, suddenly feeling tired himself.  “None taken.” He slowly got up, steady on his feet, and pulled her with him.  “G’night then, Jalyse.  We’ll talk more tomorrow mornin’.” He said softly, staring down at her, and slowly moved his hands from her body.


“Yeah, night.” She mumbled back at him and immediately walked out of the living room away from him.  Her heart was pounding in her ears, causing her pulse to race even more, and actually had to hold onto the wall for leverage on the way to her room.  She looked around once inside, seeing John hadn’t grabbed his things, and proceeded to hurl everything out the front door, slamming it shut behind her.  She then stripped the sheets and comforter off, replacing them with new ones, and threw them in the laundry room.  She didn’t want to even smell the scent of him, her anger making the alcohol vanish from her body, and crawled into bed.  Tears of pain and heartache flowed down her cheeks as Jalyse closed her eyes, finally welcoming the darkness to overtake her body.


Chapter 11


Mark was up bright and early the next morning, wearing his favorite pair of form fitting blue jeans and a denim vest, his hair hanging loose.  He had started removing all traces of Journey from the house, already making plans to demolish the pool, tanning room and anything else that reminded him of her.  He had every intention of putting in a room strictly for playing pool, just like he had originally wanted.  He grinned, walking over to pour himself a fresh mug of coffee.  The radio was softly playing country music, causing him to sigh in contentment for the first time in two years.


Slowly fluttering her eyes open, Jalyse groaned as the sunlight streamed through the shades, hitting her face, and sighed heavily.  She heard the soft country music playing and had to smile, loving it, and looked around the room.  She slowly sat up in the bed, looking around further, and raked a hand through her hair, expecting to see John walk out of the bathroom any second.  Tears instantly stung her eyes when the events of the previous night flowed through her mind, causing the pain to once again erupt inside of her, and shook herself mentally.  She slid out of bed and into the bathroom, needing a shower, and to brush her teeth to get the stench of whiskey off of her breath.


After dressing in a pair of blue jeans with a blue tank top that had white flames going up the sides, Jalyse walked out of the room, barefoot, and looked around, sighing when she smelled coffee.  She opted for some orange juice, pouring herself a glass of it, and started drinking it.  Seeing Mark wasn’t around anywhere.  He was probably in the garage fixing his motorcycles or something else.  She walked over and stared out the clear glass window, smiling when she seen the pool being drained, and sipped her orange juice slowly.


Mark groaned when he received a phone call from Vince, getting reamed out for getting his face on a dirt sheet, demanding to know who the woman was.  Mark finally hung up, not amused with his boss, and sighed, already knowing he’d have a copy at his door before noon.  He walked out of his office, groaning more  The cover of the magazine had been faxed to him.  “Mornin’ mystery woman.” He greeted, nodding at her.


Turning around to face him, Jalyse looked back at him with a raised eyebrow and immediately felt sick to her stomach.  “Oh god, that’s not…” She didn’t even finish and collapsed on a chair at the kitchen table, running her hands up and down her face.  “That’s it, I’m leaving.” She then started walking out of the kitchen, needing to get away from this man before she caused him more trouble.


Mark caught her arm, pulling her back gently.  “Why’re ya leavin’?  They just got yer profile and your hair covered ya up pretty good.” He stared down at her.  “Jeez, didn’t think I was that damned bad lookin’.” He joked, trying to lighten her mood.


“This isn’t funny, Mark.  This is probably going to be spread all over the damned country on magazine stands.” She groaned, raking a hand through her hair, ands sighed heavily as she looked up into his amused green eyes.  “So, do you remember what you offered me last night?” She finally asked, not beating around the bush, and finished off her orange juice.


“Fer one, yeah, it will, but who cares?  It’s a dirt sheet, hardly anyone pays any attention.  And second, yeah, I remember.  So what’s yer answer?  Goin’ to stay or run?” He asked her, crossing his massive arms in front of his chest, and raised an eyebrow down at her.


“What the Hell does THAT mean?  I’m not running anywhere if I leave!” She snapped at him, blinking, and placed her hands on her hips as she pursed her lips together tightly.


“It meant just that, Jalyse.  Ya said you were leavin’ and I’m bettin’ it has to do with that magazine.” Mark replied, not looking upset at all by her attitude and outburst.


“I was going to leave even before I KNEW about that stupid spread.  Fuck it, if people wanna talk and say I slept with the Underfucker, Underwhatever, Mark Calaway, then fine, I don’t give a fuck.” She shrugged her shoulders absentmindedly, her hands still firmly on her hips.  “But me leaving has NOTHING to do with that spread, I wanna make that clear right now to you.”


“Underfucker?  Nice.” Mark commented and leaned against the table, looking her up and down.  “Suit yerself, Jalyse.  If ya don’t wanna stay, then don’t.” He shrugged, his green eyes staring into hers intently.


“Why do you want me to stay, Mark?” She retorted, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and stared back at him just as intently, her teal eyes filled with so many questions.  “May I ask you that?  Why do you want me, your cheating ex-girlfriend’s cousin, to stay here for the remainder of my summer?”


Mark shrugged again, honestly not knowing besides the obvious reason he was attracted to her.  That and he was curious about her.  “Somethin’ to do I suppose.  I’m not exactly used to bein’ alone and thought you might be decent company.  You ain’t got to, Jalyse.  I’m not tryin’ to push you outta yer comfort zone.”


“Shit, I haven’t had a comfort zone since I got here.” She informed him with a smirk on her face and sighed heavily, raking a hand through her hair.  “Alright fine, I’ll stay.  It’s better than staying cooped up in my dorm room, but I demand to have a new room.  I refuse to sleep in the same room that…prick did.” She growled those last two words out and placed her hands on her hips again.


Mark nodded in compliance, not blaming her.  “That’s understandable.” He brightened, his green eyes suddenly sparkling.  “C’mon, there’s one spare bedroom upstairs I didn’t allow the bitch to touch.  You can have it.” He took her hand and lead her upstairs, opening a door across from his new bedroom, having swapped out the room they’d basically used as a storage room.


“Oh wow…” She breathed out, staring at the huge room before her that was bigger than her dorm room.  There were midnight blue covers on the huge four poster king sized bed with a dresser and a television in the corner on a stand.  She walked in further and seen she had her own private bathroom, nodding in definite approval.  “This is really nice.  Thanks, Mark.” She smiled over at him and didn’t realize her hand was still in his own as she kept looking around in awe.


Mark reluctantly released her hand, walking over to push aside the long drapes, revealing a glass screen door.  “It opens up to a private balcony.” He explained, pushing it open.  “View ain’t too bad…”


“I love the view.” She stated, walking over to stand beside him, and nodded in approval once again.  “I’ve always loved the country.  It’s so peaceful and nobody can bother you.  It’s the perfect place to escape from the harsh reality known as life.” Her voice was soft and soothing as she walked away from the window and ran her fingers over the fine artwork of the poster bed, the bars of it.


Mark smiled, watching her, his hands clasped loosely behind his back.  “You said it perfectly.” He said softly, agreeing with her one hundred percent.  “I could never understand why people would want to live so damned close to each other.  It’d be like livin’ in a fish bowl, no privacy.  Yer whole life bared for everyone to see.” Not that he didn’t partially suffer that anyway due to his choice in career.


“Exactly.  I hate going to school in the city.  I want to end up living by the ocean in a secluded area.  I like to have my privacy and hate people butting into my business.” She finally looked back up at him, leaning her head against the bar of the post, and smiled softly.  “Thanks for letting me stay in this room for the next month.  It’s well appreciated, Mark.”


He waved a hand dismissively at her.  “Don’t mention it, Jalyse.  This room ain’t been used…well, ever.  Might as well put it to good use and let you have it.” He smiled down at her, his green eyes locking with hers.


Jalyse cleared her throat, finally able to tear her gaze from his emerald green orbs, and looked down at the floor, suddenly more interested in it then the sexy man before her.  “I’m gonna…go get my things.” She managed to get out and walked out of the room abruptly, needing some distance from him.  Her body was lit on fire and he hadn’t even touched her!


Mark groaned the minute she walked out.  That woman was too damned stunning for HIS own good!  “Damn…” He muttered, walking out of the room and into his own, not bothering to shut the door, and pulled off his vest, finding it way too hot all of a sudden.


After packing up her things and dragging them up to her room, Jalyse finally collapsed on her bed, leaving her door open.  She was staring up at the ceiling, through the thin midnight blue material of the drapery, and sighed in contentment.  This had been the most comfortable bed she’d ever slept in as she smiled, knowing she’d made the right decision in staying.  Mark was so gorgeous and nice to her, when he wanted to be.  Then again, she wasn’t exactly a sweetheart either, especially when he pissed her off.  They fed off each other and Jalyse had to smirk at that thought.  She’d like to feast on him for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but knew it wouldn’t happen.  Then again, anything was possible since both of them were single now.


Mark was busy doing pushups in his bedroom, sweat glistening off his body as he focused on keeping count.  Trying not to think about the woman across the hall from him.  He admitted it.  She was gorgeous and at the same time had the ability to piss him off in a millisecond.  Ruffling his figurative feathers so bad he could see nothing, but red.  Mark shook his head, his muscles flexing with every movement, wondering just what was in store for them this month.


After taking a small breather, Jalyse slid from her bed and slowly walked out, stopping dead in her tracks by what she saw.  No matter how hard she tried, she could NOT pull her gaze away from him and licked her lips hungrily at the sight of him.  His muscles flexed with every movement.  Every pushup he did.  Jalyse could already feel her body responding to him.  The sweat glistening off of him made her snake her tongue out, licking her dried lips, and raked a hand through her hair when she heard him grunting.  She immediately pulled her gaze from the door and went back to unpacking, trying to get that image out of her head.  The more she thought about it, the wetter she became and groaned inwardly.  This was going to be a long month.


Mark finally stopped and stood up, wiping sweat away.  He pushed the door shut, not realizing it didn’t close fully, and walked into the bathroom.  He turned the shower on, the water ice cold, and walked back out.  He stripped down to nothing and tossed his clothes in the hamper.  Glancing at the closed door one last time, wishing Jalyse could join him, Mark groaned as he walked back into his bathroom to take his much needed shower.


After putting the last piece of clothing she owned in the dresser, Jalyse finally collapsed back against the bed, sighing in contentment.  Her black hair with blue streaks was splayed out over the pillow and her body had a nice fine sheen of sweat to it from working so diligently.  She heard the shower running and instantly groaned, rolling over, and tried not to think about him in the shower.  Trying not to think about that water cascading down his massive, muscular form.  ‘Damn it!’ She thought and started banging her head against the pillow.


Bracing his hands against the tiled wall, Mark allowed the cold water to beat down on him, but it wasn’t doing any good.  His body was still on fire just from THINKING about Jalyse.  “Goddamn…” He groaned, shaking his head.  Finally, he stepped out, water running off his body in rivulets.  Mark walked back out to his bedroom and started rifling around for fresh clothes, trying to think about jeans.  Jeans.  Jeans.  Jalyse.  “Aww hell…”


God what was it about this man that drove her absolutely insane?  She knew she was attracted to him, that much was obvious.  The man could get her hot in two point five seconds just like he could piss her off in one point five!  What the Hell was wrong with her?  She started to try thinking about anything else.  His beautiful dogs, her upcoming semester at school, and groaned when nothing was working.  “This fuckin’ blows.” She grumbled under her breath and buried her face further into the pillow, clutching it against her chest, and sighed when she went back to the heated kiss they’d shared in the arena.  “Jesus Christ…” She started banging her head harder against the pillow.


Mark finally emerged from the bedroom in just a pair of cut off jean shorts, way too damn hot to even consider wearing anything else.  He knocked lightly on Jalyse’s door, determined to NOT let this woman drive him nuts…more.  “You hungry?”


She slowly looked up from the pillow when she heard the knock on her open door and sat up on the bed.  “Depends whatcha got in mind, big guy.” She replied with a smirk, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and tilted her head somewhat at him.  Her only thought at that moment was WHY THE FUCK WAS HE BARE CHESTED?


Mark couldn’t help, but smirk back at her, folding his arms over his chest.  “Well that depends…” He drawled slowly.  “What’re ya hungry for?”


‘You.’ Was her thought, but notice how she THOUGHT it and didn’t say it.  This man was driving her absolutely crazy as she slowly slid from the bed, placing her hands on her hips, and sucked her cheeks in.  “I asked you first.” She retorted, leaning against the bed post and was wearing a pair of blue cotton shorts, having changed out of her jeans.


Mark studied her thoughtfully, his emerald green eyes slowly darkening.  “You really want me to answer that, Jalyse?” He asked, his voice a low rumble.


“Hey, you asked me if I was hungry and I said sure.  Now, what did you have in mind, Mark?” She asked once more, raising an eyebrow up at him, and knew what he was thinking.  The look his eyes gave off caused her heart to quicken, but she maintained control.


The smirk never left his face.  “Well,” He began slowly, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.  “Let me think…what do you feel like <I>eating</I>…??”


“Something creamy and smooth.” She answered blatantly with a wicked gleam in her teal eyes, her arms crossed in front of her chest, and bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing.


“You’re hungry for a milkshake?” Mark questioned innocently, stifling laughter of his own when she blushed.  “Mmm…I could probably serve ya one.” He chuckled, leaning against the door.


“I’m sure you could. “ She retorted and shook her head before walking out the door past him, brushing herself purposely against his body on her way out.  She then headed downstairs toward the kitchen, calling over her shoulder, “A milkshake sounds good now that you mention it!” She giggled wickedly before heading down to see if he had the condiments, even though the real milkshake she wanted was in his pants.


Chapter 12


Mark was behind her without her even realizing it as she scanned the cupboards.  “This one.” He whispered, smirking when she brushed against him startled, reaching over her to open a door.  “Oh, there’s ice cream in the freezer.  You could have a malt.” He was more than amused when he seen her shiver, thinking, ‘How’s it feel?’


“Evil.” She muttered under her breath before walking over to the freezer and pulled the ice cream out.  She had pulled her hair up, the sweat glistening on her neck, and set it down on the counter.  She then bent down to retrieve the blender, right in front of him, hiding a devilish smirk as she slowly stood up and plugged it in.  “Do you want one, Mark?” She asked innocently, though her teal eyes held pure wickedness.


“Let’s see how smooth you get it first.  I like mine really creamy.” He replied, his lips twitching at the corners, his green eyes gleaming evilly.


“Suit yourself.” She replied, winking at him over her shoulder, and put the ice cream and milk in, blending it together, and tapped her fingers on the counter as she waited.  She moved her head from side to side, her tank top rising above her belly button, showing off some skin, and rubbed the back of her neck as she felt him behind her.  His heat was radiating off of her and she just wanted to lean back against him, but didn’t, licking her dried lips and watched the milkshake come to life.


The milkshake wasn’t the only thing coming to life.  Mark watched her move.  Every time she just twitched it sent jolts of electricity up his spine.  Finally, he leaned over so his face was resting right next to hers, staring at the blender.  What he really wanted to do was whisk her away upstairs to his bedroom and spend the remaining month making love to her.  Something he hadn’t felt the urge to do in a long time.


Jalyse smiled back at him with a raised eyebrow and finally stopped the blender, slowly turning around to face him.  She got a spoon out of the drawer and dipped it in the blender, getting a nice spoonful of it, and held it up to his soft red lips.  “Open wide and tell me if its to your liking.” She ordered in a seductive tone, leaning against the counter, and smirked as her teal eyes gleamed.


Mark took his own sweet time in tasting it, licking the spoon clean slowly, his eyes locked with hers.  “Perfection.” He murmured, licking his lips clean, and his voice sounded like a low rumble.


“Still want that smooth and creamy milkshake?” She asked, taking a spoonful of it for herself, and licked the spoon clean.  Jalyse slowly slid it from her mouth as her knee bent while her foot was pressed on top of her other, her eyes never leaving his.  “If you want one, you’ll need to get two glasses out.” She informed him with a wink.  Mark groaned and shook his head, finally just dipping it down to kiss the corner of her mouth, flicking his tongue out to catch the drop of milkshake she missed.  Jalyse was shocked he did that, but she didn’t show it as she seen him slowly pull back and walked past him, swaying her ass in his direction.  She leaned up, her tank top rising even more, and got out two glasses from the cupboard.  She then walked back over, standing where she was before, and poured them two glasses before handing him one, sipping her own.  “Mmm delicious…” She purred with a wink.


“Yer askin’ for it, Jalyse.” He whispered gruffly, not drinking his shake, just staring down at her.  Actually, she was practically demanding him to attack her and make her his, but he’d play the game.  Mark raised his glass and took a sip.  “Mmm delicious…” He echoed, winking back at her before walking out of the kitchen.


Shaking her head back at him, Jalyse followed him as she carried her milkshake, walking past him as she headed up the stairs, and asked over her shoulder casually, “Just what exactly am I asking for, Mark?” She then headed upstairs, deciding to drink her milkshake in her room.  Mark shook his head, not answering her, and walked out on the patio to see if the pool had been filled back up yet, minus the chemicals.  He decided until he was ready to destroy it, he’d use it.  He chugged down half the shake, set it down on the patio table, and slid off his shorts, diving butt naked into the water.


She walked out on her balcony, smirking as she watched him swimming naked in his pool.  She knew he’d taken the chemicals out and sipped her shake, her entire body lit on fire.  She wanted to join him.  Wanting him to just fuck her brains out, but she knew if they did, the game was over.  She kind of liked playing this game with him.  It was enthralling, intriguing, and she didn’t want it to end.  She seen him lock eyes with her and raised her glass before walking back into her room.  Leaving the window open for the cool summer breeze to flow through since it was night time now. 


Mark shook his head, grinning to himself.  He knew this was going to be a very interesting month.  If not sexually frustrating.  He groaned, diving under again.  The cool water barely doing anything to help his present condition. 


Later on that night, Jalyse walked out of her room, after taking a nap, and looked around.  She was wearing a mid thigh high midnight blue spaghetti strapped nightgown that had a V shape neckline.  She walked down the stairs, not believing how humid it was, but then again, this was Texas.  Her feet padded into the kitchen, deciding she needed a glass of water, and got a glass out of the cupboard.  She then walked over and filled it up with ice from the ice maker on the fridge before filling it up and took a long swig of it.  She filled it up once more before finally turning around, screaming as the glass dropped, shattering to the floor, startled out of her wits when she had bumped into Mark. 


Mark had been in his garage, cleaning the mess that Journey left behind up.  He instantly pushed Jalyse away from the glass, dropping down to pick up the shards.  “Damn Jalyse, I’m sorry, darlin’!” He immediately apologized.  “I didn’t mean to…” His words trailed off as his eyes slowly scanned her body on the way up to meet her teal orbs.


“Do you make it a habit to sneak up on your guests or women for that matter at this time of night?” She questioned, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and looked down at the mess as she grumbled.  She carefully stepped over them, not cutting herself, and turned the light on as she grabbed the nearest broom, sweeping the pieces up.  “This is quicker and you won’t cut yourself.” She stated when he gave her a look and proceeded to sweep the pieces in a pan, dumping them, and then turned around to face him.  “What are you doing up?”


“I was out in the garage.” He replied, not sure if he liked the way he was being treated in his own house.  Like he was the guest.  He decided to ignore it, mainly because she looked dead sexy in that nightgown she was wearing.  “And I came in fer a beer, it was dark and I didn’t see you.  Now…what are YOU doin’ up?”


“I wanted a glass of water.” She simply answered and shook her head with a small smile before walking over to get another glass.  Not realizing her nightgown had rode up her thighs and barely covered her ass for that brief moment.  She then walked back over to the fridge and filled it back up again.  “How are the bikes coming along?  Did the bitch fuck them up worse than you thought?”


“Mostly just minor repairs and detailin’.  Nothin’ I can’t fix.” Mark watched her, tilting his head to the side in the process.  He let out a low whistle at that quick glimpse before finally coming back to reality.


She smirked back at him as she walked past him, her back to him as she started filling her glass with ice and then water.  She then walked away from the fridge and ventured over to the sliding glass door, peering out at the darkness, and sighed in contentment.  She sipped her water while rubbing her neck, feeling the tension once again in it.  Her hair was down, flowing in waves down her back and shoulders, hugging her waist perfectly.  “Well that’s good to hear.” She said, hoping the ice cold water cooled her body down somewhat.


Mark walked up behind her, reaching out to place his hands on her hips, resting his head on top of hers.  “Do ya like it here, Jalyse?” He softly asked, wanting to make sure she was comfortable.


Her hips were instantly scorched beneath his touch as she nodded, leaning back against his chest, and smiled softly.  “Of course I do.  It’s so peaceful and beautiful.  Something I haven’t felt in a long time.” Her voice was soft and soothing as she closed her eyes, setting her water down on the nearby counter, but never moved from his arms.


Smiling, Mark wrapped his arms around her waist, wanting to hold her.  “I’m glad to hear that.  Lemme know if ya start gettin’ bored.” He said quietly, hoping that never happened, and then smirked.  “I’m sure I can find somethin’ fer ya to do.”


“Besides you, right?” She retorted, laughing softly when he tensed, and turned around to face him, staring up into his smoldering green eyes.  “I won’t get bored here.  It’s too…interesting.” She hesitated on that last word before slowly extracting herself from his arms and headed down the hallway, her water suddenly forgotten.


Fuck the games.  Mark followed her, pinning her against the hallway wall, staring down at her, his eyes shining even in the darkness.  “Interestin’ eh?” He murmured before leaning down to kiss, bracing his hands on either side of her head, keeping his body away, giving her room to dart if she so chose.


Jalyse was too stunned to really think about bolting and honestly didn’t want to.  His lips burned hers as she leaned against the wall, her hands slowly sliding up his chest, her arms curling around his neck, and moved her head from side to side.  A soft sigh escaped her lips when he coaxed her lips open with his tongue and instantly gave him access, moaning in his mouth as their tongues dueled in a dance of seduction.  Oh no, she wasn’t going to push him away.  At the same time though, she loved the games they were playing with each other.


Mark moved his hands down to cup her ass, pulling her against him and groaned.  The feeling of her body pressed against his was driving him absolutely insane.  He growled softly,  finally breaking the kiss and stared down at her.  Flashbacks of the kiss at the arena flowed through her mind, causing Jalyse to slowly open her eyes, and stared into his.  Her breathing was ragged, her chest heaving rapidly against his, and she was gripping his forearms to keep herself steady. 


He’d literally taken her breath away and if he wasn’t holding her up at the moment, she would for sure be on the ground because her knees were buckling.  She could say nothing to him, her teal eyes slowly starting to cloud over, and felt her heart pounding furiously against him.  She would be shocked if Mark couldn’t hear it.  Mark was debating what to do next in his mind and finally decided.  He lifted her up, pinning her against the wall, wrapping her legs around his waist, and kissed her senseless again.  He moved his lips down to her throat, nipping and licking, unable to get enough of this beautiful woman. 


Moans escaped her lips as she felt him burning a trail down her throat, running her fingers up his back and to his hair, entangling her fingers through it, and leaned her head back against the wall.  Her mind was screaming at her to push him away.  Being it too soon since her and John broke up.  Her heart was bellowing at her to continue this though.  This man was too much for her to resist, deciding it was her life and her decision.  John was out of the equation and if this man wanted to fuck her senseless, then why not let him?  She wanted him and he wanted her.  They were consenting adults.  There was nothing wrong with it as she breathed in and out heavily.


Mark seemed to sense something and pulled his head away to stare into her eyes, searching them intently.  “If you don’t want this darlin’, you’d best be tellin’ me now while I can still stop.” He whispered out breathlessly, his voice husky.


Her head was spinning as she blinked several times, trying to come back to reality, and stared back into his darkened forest green eyes as she took a deep breath.  “Why wouldn’t I want this?  It’s been brewing between us for awhile, Mark and if we get it out of our systems, maybe we can finally move on and stop tormenting each other.” She licked her dried lips as she sucked in a sharp breath, trying to calm herself down somewhat.  Even though, he had her pinned against the wall and their chests were touching.


Nodding, that was all Mark needed to know and hear.  His lips descended on hers again, running his strong hands up and down her ribs.  Each time pulling up the fabric of her night gown.  Inch by inch.  Finally, his hands were skimming her bare skin, the gown bunched against his arms.  He groaned, planting open mouth kisses on her shoulders, loving how soft her skin was against his lips and tongue. 


For some reason, even though Jalyse wanted this from him, she couldn’t get past the guilt she felt coursing throughout her body.  She was vulnerable right now, had just broken up with her boyfriend of three years, who’d cheated on her with her cousin, and here she was about ready to have sex with her cousin’s ex-boyfriend.  It was all too much for her to take as she shook her head and pressed her hand against his chest, trying to pry him off of her.  “Mark, no I can’t do this…” She whispered out, trying to get her mind back on track.  Even though, it was still reeling from what he was doing to her and causing her body to feel at the moment.


Mark inhaled sharply, his body stiffening before slowly lowering her to the floor, nodding.  He stared down into her eyes, seeing the emotions swirling there and felt a pang of remorse course through him.  He should have known better than to rush her, especially after everything she had been through.  That and three years of a serious relationship wasn’t something someone easily forgot.  Though, his own two year stint with Journey had practically vanished from his own mind, party thanks to Jalyse.  Partly thanks to Journey for being something of a bitch for most of those two years. 


“Good night, Jalyse.” He whispered hoarsely before walking away from her.


She couldn’t say anything to him, tears building in her eyes, and immediately ran up the stairs to her room.  She closed the door behind her before rushing over to the bed and collapsed on it, burying her face in the comforter.  Tears of pain and heartache flowed down her cheeks, causing her body to tremble, and sniffled.  Her body was on fire right now and she knew the only way to put that fire out was Mark.  She couldn’t do it though.  Not after what John had put her through.  Not when she was this emotional and vulnerable, which made her cry harder than she ever had before.  The shock was finally wearing off about what happened and all Jalyse could feel now was raw pain in her mind and heart.


Mark didn’t go upstairs.  He went straight to his garage, straddled the nearest motorcycle that hadn’t been trashed, and peeled out of there, heading straight for the meadow.  He drove recklessly through the grass, needing the cool night air and the wind whipping against him to clear his head.  He was never the type to force himself on a woman and he wasn’t about to start now.  Though honestly, he had been tempted to ignore her and just continue on.  He knew if he had pressed her, she would have probably caved, but he also knew she would regret it as well as hate him in the morning.  Mark didn’t want either of those things.


Chapter 13


After a few days of staying locked up in her room, Jalyse finally came out and was in the backyard with the dogs.  She was playing fetch with them, wearing a pair of white cotton shorts with a black tank top, the sun beating down on her skin, tanning her.  Her hair was up in a high ponytail as she ran with them and laughed, a smile on her face again.  Over the course of the past three days she’d spent locked in her room, Jalyse finally came to the conclusion that she wasn’t going to waste her tears on a man who never loved her.  She was going to move on with her life and enjoy it to the fullest, always being the type of woman to do so.


Mark had spent a lot of time away from the house over the past few days, keeping his mind off of Jalyse by cementing his decision to renovate certain rooms in his house.  He roared into the drive and parked his Harley, dismounting, a broad grin on his face.  Mark heard the dogs barking in the backyard and curiously made his way around the house.  He leaned against a tree and watched Jalyse with them, not believing how well his dogs had taken to her.  More importantly, how fast he’d taken to her being there with him.


“Pain, go get it, boy!” She called out to the dog, smirking when she threw the stick and watched him as he did so.  For some reason, Hades just stuck by her side as she bent down to pet his ears.  “What’s the matter, ol’ man?  You don’t wanna play with your servants?” She laughed when he just licked the tip of her nose and smiled, resting her head against him before standing back up.  Jalyse ran over when she seen Pain and Panic were fighting over the stick.  She put her fingers between her teeth and whistled, causing them to stop in their tracks, and planted her hands on her hips.  “Alright boys, enough of this.”


Crossing the yard to her, Mark actually looked at her for the first time in three days and finally spoke.  “I’ve got some people comin’ in an hour to do some work on the house.  It’s goin’ to be loud, messy and probably smell like paint.  Did ya wanna stay here or come out with me?” He asked, dropping down to pet his dogs that came to him.


Jalyse turned around to face him, not having seen him in the past three days, and cleared her throat as she raked a hand through her hair.  “Where are you going?” She finally asked after a moment of silence, bending down when Hades nudged her leg and smiled, kissing the top of his head before rubbing his ears.  “What are you my protector now?” She was shocked and blinked when the dog barked once back at her.


Mark smiled, watching Hades and knew the mutt had taken a shine to Jalyse, a serious shine it seemed.  “I’m headin’ out fer a long drive, possibly stop in at a place or two.  You can come and drive yer own bike or ride with me.  Up to you.”


“Alright, let me go pack some things up.” She replied softly and smiled when Hades followed her.  She’d woken up that day and actually opened her door to find the dog laying in her doorway.  She found it cute and amusing all in one as she walked inside the house, knowing Mark was remodeling because of Journey.  She didn’t blame him, but wondered where he was about to drag her off too while they did the house.  She walked upstairs, packing a bag of clothes, and changed into a pair of blue jeans, leaving her tank top on and put her hair down.  If she was going to ride on a motorcycle, she wasn’t about to have the frizz look with her ponytail and laughed at the thought.  Slipping into her black steel toed boots and grabbing a few other items, Jalyse swung her bag over her shoulder and walked downstairs.  She knew where Mark would be and stepped into the garage, not surprised to find him ready to go.  “I think I’ll ride with you.  Lord knows I wouldn’t want to get choked out again for doing something to your bike.”


“Funny.” Mark replied, having changed into a pair of blue jeans and a black leather vest with black boots, his hair braided back and a bandana wrapped around his head, his shades firmly in place.  “Got everythin’ ya need?” When she nodded, he put her things in the saddlebag alongside his own.  The other was filled with some other provisions and straddled the bike, waiting patiently for her to join him.


She didn’t hesitate in joining him, excited about riding again, and straddled the motorcycle with ease.  She scooted back a little, resting her back against the seat, and brought her legs up in a comfortable position, resting on the bars below.  She raked a hand through her hair, knowing she wouldn’t need any sunglasses, and sighed when he got on in front of her.  “So where exactly is it we’re going, Mark?” She asked casually.


“Fer a ride.” He replied, shooting her a look over his shoulder.  “Hold on.” Mark didn’t give her time to reply and hauled ass out of there, really opening up once they were past the gates.  The scenery was the usual at first, mostly ranches and the occasional farm before pretty much being nothing, but open land, potholes appearing in the road.  Obviously, this was one of the lesser traveled, not as well maintained roads, but Mark had no problem navigating it, not bothering to slow down.


When he opened up the motorcycle, Jalyse’s arms instantly went around his waist, feeling how tense he was and sighed.  She knew he was frustrated and honestly didn’t blame him, especially after what transpired between them a few nights ago.  She rested her head against his back, her hands stroking his chest gently, trying to calm him down.  She wasn’t being seductive or teasing with her touch.  It was a touch that had relaxation and comfort combined with it.  She closed her eyes, the wind whipping through her hair, and loved the peacefulness the ride of a motorcycle brought, especially when it was with a man like Mark.


Mark smiled when he felt her hands on him, the touch sending tingles through him.  Not the kind that would make him pull off the side of the road and rip her clothes off either.  Though, that was a tempting thought now that he thought about it.  Mark just freed one hand briefly enough to reach down and pat her leg, letting her know everything was fine.  He kept his attention focused on the road, replacing his hand on the handle, quite aware of the tension leaving his body.  


A smile crossed her lips when she felt him pat her leg and knew he understood why she’d stopped them those few nights ago.  She sighed in contentment before moving her hands from his chest to his shoulders, beginning to rub them.  She hated how he was so tense and hoped to relieve some of it while they rode together down the road.  While she did, Jalyse took in the scenery before them and smiled, loving how peaceful it all seemed.  She groaned when he hit a bump and knew her ass was going to be hurting.  At the same time, she wouldn’t have traded this for the world though.


“Thank you.” She whispered softly to herself, her teal eyes scanning their surroundings, and continued massaging his shoulders in a soothing way.


Mark finally veered off the road down a shaded dirt lane, trees growing on either side, blocking out the hot sun.  Which actually was a bit of relief.  He slowed down some, letting her take in the new change of scenery.  Finally, he came to a halt when the road suddenly ended.  A thick clump of trees where the lane should have continued stopped them, causing Mark to stop the motorcycle. 


Jalyse’s eyes widened as she stopped the massage and immediately hopped off the motorcycle once Mark stopped it, wondering what happened.  “Don’t they clean this shit up?” She growled in frustration, stomping her foot, and sighed as she raked a hand through her hair.  “I swear, I hate those who don’t know how to do their fuckin’ jobs sometimes.”


Mark studied her thoughtfully, the corners of his mouth curving into the barest hint of a smile.  “You mean this I’m guessin’?” He gestured to the trees, getting off the motorcycle as well.


“What the Hell else would I be talking about?” She shot back at him, truly perturbed that their ride had been cut off abruptly, and wrapped her arms around herself as she looked around.  The sun was slowly beginning to descend on the horizon and she could see the moon starting to form in the sky.  It was weird, but at the same time, very intriguing to witness.


“You gotta start lookin’ past what’s before ya, Jalyse.” Mark said gently, shaking his head, and reached into the saddlebags, handing over her bag before grabbing his own.  Slinging it over his shoulders like a backpack.  “Come on.” He led the way through the trees.


Raising a confused eyebrow in his direction, Jalyse blinked as she took her bag, slinging it over her shoulders, and bit her bottom lip as she followed him reluctantly.  “Mark, what about your bike?  Aren’t you afraid someone might, I don’t know, steal it?” She asked, still not catching on that he had this all planned, and looked through the wooded area they were walking through, enjoying nature.  She loved nature when it was gentle to her, which wasn’t very often.


Mark smiled, laughing softly.  “Nobody comes out here that much anymore so I’m pretty certain it’s safe.” He stepped over a fallen tree easily, turning to help her over it.  He looked pleased when she waved him off and managed herself.  He had decided to bring her out here when she agreed to come with him.  Glad he had because it had honestly been way too long since he was last here.  Mark was silent, just leading the way before finally stepping out of the woods, revealing that they were now at the top of a very steep sloped hill.  Overlooking the setting sun and rising moon.  A spectacular sight.


“Oh wow…” Jalyse breathed once they finally arrived on the steep hill, blinking a little, and slowly let her bag slide from her shoulders.  It was the most beautiful setting she’d ever seen in her life.  So many colors mixed together in the sunset, the sky glowing a reddish orange, though the blue sky was peeking through.  She shoved her hands in the pockets of her jeans and looked around, seeing all the tress and nature surrounding them, and couldn’t help, but smile.  It was truly a moment and sight she would treasure always. 


Mark watched her, studying her thoughtfully.  The colors washed over her, making her even more beautiful and mysterious.  An entity maybe not entirely of this world.  Finally, he pulled off his own bag, kneeling down and unpacked it, tossing out two tightly packed bedrolls and two packages that were maybe the size of both his hands together.  “Mind campin’, Jalyse?” He asked, arching an eyebrow up at her.


Jolting out of her deep thoughts, Jalyse turned around with that smile on her face, and shook her head back at him.  “I love camping.  I haven’t done it in so long though.” She laughed when he tossed her a bedroll and instantly set it up, sitting down on it, and kicked her shoes off, sighing in contentment.  “This is really beautiful, Mark.” She commented softly, running a hand through her blackish blue hair, and turned to look back at the sunset that was almost gone.


Mark ripped open the packages, shaking out blankets and tossed one onto her bedroll.  He let her admire the sky while he gathered dry wood, snapping some larger branches down to a decent size before finally using a stick to dig out a decent sized hole in the ground.  Paying more attention to the width than depth.  A short while later, he had a fire going and dropped down beside it.  While doing so, he riffled through his knapsack again, dragging more things out he’d brought along.


“Damn, did you bring the whole house with you?” She joked, her teal eyes reflecting off the firelight of the roaring flames that he’d started, smiling softly back at him with a small laugh.  She’d noticed all the things he’d packed away in the knapsack and wondered what else was in there as she arched an eyebrow.


Smirking, Mark shook his head and finally finished emptying the knapsack.  “You notice any runnin’ water back there, darlin’?” He asked, knowing she hadn’t.  “No, and no creeks either.” He held up a large thermos.  “This one is cool water, the flask is whiskey, which ain’t enough to get either of us drunk, which I’m sure we’ll both be grateful fer come mornin’.” He winked when she actually blushed.  “Then these…are edibles.” Mark flashed a clear wrapped pack that looked like some sort of dried jerky as well as some other impressively natural, healthy looking things.  “Sorry, no hot dogs or marsh mellows.” He joked.


“That’s quite alright.  I’m not hungry anyway.” She replied with a smirk and turned her attention back to the beautiful scenery before them.  The stars were starting to come out one by one while the moon shined fully as she ran a hand through her hair.  Her knees were drawn up, her arms resting comfortably on them and she was squishing her toes in the cool grass, sighing in contentment.  Nature certainly was beautiful when it wanted to be as she rested her chin on her knees, and just stared straight ahead.



Mark unrolled his bedroll, laying out on it on his stomach, resting his chin on his forearms, staring out over the hill and softly asked, “Like it here, Jalyse?”


“It’s breathtaking.” She whispered back in reply, looking back over at him and smiled, her teal eyes telling him that she really appreciated him bringing her here.  “I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as this scenery.” She uncurled herself a little, stretching her legs out on her bedroll, and allowed her head to drop back as she rolled her neck back and forth a little, smirking when she heard a crack.


Mark personally didn’t agree with her.  She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, but he wasn’t about to contest her either.  “I was thinkin’ bout one day just buildin’ a small house up here, clear back the woods a bit…fer retirement.” He said casually, having dwelled on that thought a lot for the past few months.  Half of him couldn’t wait to get back to work and the other half wanted to just settle right where he was and never leave.


“You would actually want to desecrate this beautiful land?” She asked in disbelief, her eyes taking on a dangerous glow of teal, and shook her head before turning back to the scenery before her.  She hated it that nature always had to pay for mankind’s wishes and often thought about how much beauty had been taken from the world.  She was a writer and with that came a unique spirit and love for things such as these.  She sighed, resting her cheek on her knees, and closed her eyes, enjoying the cool night air that blew through her hair.


“A few feet back.” Mark said gently.  “I’d replant around the house, but not close enough to destroy the roof.  All that land down there ya see is mine, darlin’.  By now, it’d probably be a damn town or used for some chemical plant, but I refuse to sell it.” He didn’t bother informing her that he owned several other properties like this.  Hating the way people tore down the few woods and tore up the earth just to plant steel and concrete. 


She gasped when she heard that and whipped her head around, her teal eyes widened in shock.  “This is…yours?” She finally managed to ask and blinked several times when he nodded his head in response.  “This is so beautiful, Mark.  It makes me sick to think that people actually want to destroy something this breathtaking just for their own selfish needs.  I realize we all need houses to live in, roofs over our heads and whatnot, but this…” She trailed off again, turning back to stare straight ahead at the trees.  “This is one of those places you should cherish for as long as you live.”


“Why do ya think I want to move here, darlin’?  I’m puttin’ the ranch up fer sale in a few years.  It’s just too damned big for me.  Of course, I’ll need a place to keep my motorcycles, but then again…at the edge of the property, “He paused, gesturing, knowing with it being dark she wouldn’t be able to see, but giving her a vague idea.  “Is one of them big ol’ barns, with a lil fixin’ up, it’d work.” Mark sighed, rolling onto his back, placing his arms under his head, staring at the sky.  “You seen what happened when we went out, cameras in my damned face.  It’d be nice to just hide out here and never worry about that again.”


Chapter 14


“If you despise it so much, then why don’t you just retire now?  I’m sure you have enough financial resources to last you a lifetime.” She pointed out curiously, knowing it was none of her business, but this man was full of mystery and surprised her every chance he got.  He was truly a redneck, southern man who liked getting his hands dirty.  Swimming in ponds.  Everything about Mark surprised her and made Jalyse want to know more.  She wondered what she’d been doing with a man like John for those three years when they didn’t share one thing in common.  He was a city boy born and bred, while she was a true country girl who enjoyed the simple things in life instead of the finer.


“Because I genuinely like wrestlin’.  Don’t know why cause it seems to get harder and harder with each year that passes.  But once I’m out in front of the fans, in that ring…it’s a whole different world.  You know what I mean?” Mark chuckled at the finance comment.  Yeah, some wise investments had definitely set his ass for life and probably then some.


“I can understand that, but you also have to face facts that your body is being torn to shreds out there in that ring with each bump you take.  It makes me wonder how you’re even standing after some of the things I read in those books that you did.” She shook her head in disbelief once again, concern evident in her eyes, and cleared her throat before staring at the scenery before her again.  “Don’t you ever want to settle down and have a family one day?” She asked suddenly, not meaning to actually say it out loud, but once again, her curiosity peeked her interest for him greatly.


“Yes.” Mark answered softly.  “Nothin’ would suit me better then seein’ some rug rats runnin ‘ round havin’ just one woman fer the rest of my days.” He closed his eyes, hardly believing he was opening up to her like this.  Talking about things he only dreamt about.  “How bout you?” He finally asked, pushing it all around on her.  “After school, what’re yer plans?  Family life or a career?”


“I’m the type of person who likes to take one day at a time.  After college, Hell, who knows what will happen?  You can’t predict the future and you can’t ever plan your life the way you want it to go because it doesn’t happen.  I never thought in a million years I would be going into my final year of college to get my masters, but it’s going to happen.  I mean, people say they can control their destinies and whatnot, but that’s a load of bullshit.  There’s only one source out there who can control it and it’s all around us all the time.  It’s called fate and you can’t control it.” Jalyse explained, her eyes never leaving the scenery before her, and brought her knees up to press against her chest again, sighing heavily.


“Smart girl.” Mark murmured, liking the way she did things.  He had his own personal feeling on fate.  Half of it was fate, the other half was pushing his way through life and getting what he wanted or needed.  Mark didn’t buy the idea that nothing was in his hands.  That was all predetermined.  Fate might’ve had some say in his life, but he was the one who ultimately controlled it.


“I just speak my mind.  It has nothing to do with how smart I am.  I’m a very spiritual person and look at things from a different perspective.  John never understood that though…” She trailed off again and sighed, feeling the tears building up in her eyes at the thought of him, and cleared her throat as she blinked them back.  She’d promised herself to move on, but after three years of giving her love and heart to him, it was hard to just let go.  “Maybe this is why I don’t have any friends in school.” She laughed bitterly through her tears and pain as she looked back at the fire.


“Stand fer what ya believe in, Jalyse, even if ya gotta stand alone.” Mark said softly, rolling onto his side to stare at her, and reached out with a long stick to stoke the fire some.


The embers of the fire flew up as the wood crackled a little, causing her to inhale the scent of the fire, and nodded back at Mark.  “I do.  I’ve stood alone most of my life, even when I was with John.  He didn’t understand me or why I pursued my choice in career.  We were complete opposites and I wonder why I was with him for so long.  It wasn’t love, I know that much because I stopped loving him when he stopped loving me.  This visit just cemented it and made me finally wake up, gave the kick in the ass I needed to desperately have in order to tell him to get the fuck lost.”


Mark listened to her intently, studying her fire lit face.  “John didn’t want what you do, that much was obvious, even to a stranger.” He said, remembering the first time he had met each of them, instantly casting them as polar opposites, much like he and Journey had been.  “Well, at least this visit didn’t go fer nothin’ then.  You got that…kick in the ass and so did I.”


Smiling a little as she nodded, Jalyse stood up from her bedroll and walked over, sitting down beside him, her feet curled up beneath her, and looked down at him intently.  “Thank you.  I don’t know what for yet, but I’m sure I’ll find out when this month ends.” She said softly, stroking his back with her hand, and leaned her cheek on her knee before staring back at the fire, closing her eyes.  “God, this is the first time I’ve been camping in…years.  Probably since I was around sixteen.” She shook her head and laughed softly.  “I feel old.”


Arching an eyebrow, Mark stared up at her since he was practically laying down.  “Yer not old.” He argued, rubbing her back gently.  “Hey, how old are ya anyway, Jalyse?” He felt like he’d known her for years, but in truth, was barely scratching the surface.


“It’s not polite to ask a woman her age, Mark.” She chided him playfully and laughed when he growled back at her.  “Relax, I’m kidding with you.  I’m actually twenty seven years old.  I’ve been going to school since I was twenty two.” She answered, sighing when he started rubbing her back while she was doing the same to him, and leaned against his side more.


Mark chuckled, stroking his chin, shaking his head ruefully.  “Now I feel old, Jalyse.” He grumbled good-naturedly, wrapping a friendly arm around her shoulders.  “I used to come out here every time I came home, back before I met…Journey.” Her name still left a bad taste in his mouth, disgust in his tone.  “Do you regret anythin’ bout stayin’ here for the summer, Jalyse?”


“No, I can honestly say I don’t regret a second I’ve spent here.” She replied softly, leaning against him, snuggling a little and felt completely relaxed in his arms.  In his presence.  “Journey was always the type who wanted to up me in everything, ya know?  Always challenging me and I always blew her off.  Why I trusted her for so long when I knew she was stealing my boyfriends behind my back, which wasn’t that many, I’ll never know.  They would always look her way when it came down to the both of us and I got sick of the rejection so I stopped altogether until after I graduated high school and met John.  We were friends for a few years before finally deciding to try it when I turned twenty four.” She explained, raking a hand through her hair, and actually grabbed the stick, poking the fire this time.


“Them boys who were lookin’ her way were fools.” Mark said flatly.  “Most see a piece of ass when they see her, I found that out damned quick.” He snorted, watching as she stoked the fire a little too vigorously, sparks flying everywhere.  Mark pulled her back, moving so he was shielding her.  “That is damned hot.” He gently took the stick from her.


“Sorry.” She mumbled, knowing she’d stoked the fire too much, and sighed as she raked a hand through her hair.  “It’s not that I’m jealous of her because believe me, I’m not.  It just makes me sick that that’s all men are really after these days.  Tits and ass.  Never the mind and heart.” She looked up at the stars that glistened above them as she heard him simmer down the fire down a little, but not to the point of putting it out and bit her bottom lip.  “You didn’t get burned, did you?”


Mark stared down at her, wondering how anyone could turn her down for something as cheap as Journey.  This woman was simply amazing.  Beautiful, intelligent, passionate.  The list was endless.  “No darlin’.” He whispered, clearing his throat before sitting back down, his long legs stretched out before him, leaning back on the palms of his hands.


“I didn’t mean to…bring up bad memories for you, Mark…about her.” Jalyse sighed heavily as she raked a hand through her hair and closed her eyes.  She knew she’d hit a sore spot with the Journey issue, but she trusted this man and couldn’t believe how easy it was to open up and talk to him.  He was nothing like what she thought and for Journey to even abuse him the way she did pissed Jalyse off.  Nobody deserved to be treated the way Mark had, especially with that bitch breaking all of his personal belongings and whatnot.  She shook her head before allowing one single tear to slip down her cheek, immediately turning away from him, John once again entering her mind.


They’d been friends for three years before he finally convinced her to give him a chance and that wasted three years of her life.  She wanted to have a family with him and everything, but that all changed the night she caught him bed with her room mate in her dorm room in college on one of his visits.  She should’ve dumped his ass right then and there, but having low self-esteem bit her in the ass.  That was one year after they’d been together and that was when she lost all of her love and respect for him.  It was strictly sex for her.  Even though, that wasn’t even the greatest after awhile, especially with his addiction.


“No, you didn’t Jalyse.” He said honestly, staring down at her, and reached out to catch the tear on the tip of his finger, staring down at it.  “I wasn’t thinkin’ bout her.  I was thinkin’ bout you.”


“My pathetic ass?” She shot back half jokingly, sniffling a little, and laughed, though it was bitter as she sighed.  “Don’t worry about me, Mark.  I’ll be fine.” She quietly assured him, blinking back the tears that brimmed her eyelids, and wrapped her arms around her legs since her knees were pressed against her chest again.  She laid her cheek on her knees, her hair flowing over her shoulder and down the side, trying to rid the pain she felt in her heart.


“Not yer pathetic ass.  Nothin’ pathetic about you…or yer ass.” He argued, his green eyes sparkling amusedly.  Mark reached out to run his fingers through her hair.  “I was thinkin’ bout how yer the most intriguing woman I’ve ever met.”


“Intriguing?” Jalyse echoed, looking over at him, not minding him running his fingers through her hair and laughed when he nodded.  “Hardly, sweets.  You need to get out more if you think I’m intriguing.” She stated, the fire reflecting the tears that were still in her eyes, but she refused to let them fall.  “Now you on the other hand, you’re definitely the most intriguing, yet mysterious man I’ve ever met in my life.” She admitted in that quiet voice again, meaning what she said, not scared to share her thoughts.


“Get out more?  Darlin’, I’ve traveled the world and met every kind of person you can imagine.” Mark said, smiling slightly.  “And yes, yer intriguing, believe you me, Jalyse.  Me?  Nah, my life is an open book.  Literally.  What you see is what ya get.”


“Well what I see before me is an extremely attractive, intriguing man full of mystery.” Jalyse stated, raising an eyebrow at him.  Her tears dried up in her eyes as she finally blinked a little before lifting her head up from her knees to rest her chin on them, just staring at him in thought.  “Nobody’s life is an open book unless they allow it to be, Mark.  I’m sure you keep your private life as secret as you can from the ring, right?”


“I try too, Jalyse. But sometimes it can be hard.” Mark admitted.  “Especially here in Texas, bein’ my home state and all.” He sighed, reaching back to unbraid his hair, removing the bandana and combing his fingers through his tresses, staring back at her.


The firelight caught the color of his hair, a beautiful, deep blood red that looked black when it was drenched, causing her to smile as her teal eyes sparkled back at him. Not even thinking about it, Jalyse moved so she was on her knees behind him, running her fingers through his silk tresses, and bit her bottom lip.  She quickly stood up and got her bag, bringing out her brush, and walked back over, beginning to brush out his hair, being gentle with it.  She inhaled his scent as he snuggled against her and smiled, loving the feeling of his hair against her fingertips.  “I love your hair.” She whispered, knowing he probably already knew that, but she didn’t care.


Mark generally wasn’t one for letting someone play with his hair.  For some reason, that always irritated the piss out of him.  But when Jalyse started brushing his hair, he found himself relaxing against her.  The gesture actually very soothing.  “So do I.” He smirked, chuckling when she lightly tapped his head with the brush.  “Yers is sexy.  I like the blue streaks.” He said in a soft drawl.


“John hated them.  He said that I was being a poser, whatever the fuck that means.” She grunted out and kept brushing his locks, smirking down at him with a raised eyebrow.  “Sexy?” She echoed and laughed when he nodded before shaking her head.  “Nah, it’s just plain ol’ black, but I do love my streaks.  I get them done every three months.  I’m thinking of going red the next time, maybe even amber.  Haven’t decided yet.” She put her brush down and just started running her fingers through his hair, sighing in contentment.


“Who cares what John thinks?  He’s the poser.” Mark snorted.  “Pretendin’ to be somethin’ he ain’t.” He sat upright, leaning forward so she could reach the ends of his long hair.  “Plain black is sexy, the streaks make it exotic.” He stated, turning his head to look at her over his shoulder.  “Red huh?  Ever consider a deep purple, darlin’?”


“Actually, I had that last time.” She informed him with a smirk, still running her fingers through his hair, and grinned as she looked into his eyes.  “Do you like the color purple, Mark?” She asked, raising an eyebrow, but never stopped her administrations.


Mark shrugged one shoulder, a smirk forming on his lips.  “Actually, purple is one of my favorite colors, darlin’.” He admitted, chuckling when she laughed.  “Purple and black.”


“Is that because its your costume colors for the ring as your Underwhatever character?” She asked, never able to get the name right, and smirked when he raised an eyebrow up at her.  “Hey!  Don’t look at me like that!  I can’t remember the damned name.” She defended herself, the amusement clearly shining in her eyes.


“Undertaker first off.  And second, I picked the colors for my costume.” Mark informed her, grinning broadly.  “You know somethin’?  I’m gonna git yer ass to an event.  Next time though, I think we’ll go as V.I.P.’s instead of tryin’ to play avoid the cameras.”


Chapter 15


“No thank you.  I’m not going to another event as long as I live.” She declared, declining his offer, and shook her head emphatically.  She stopped running her fingers through his hair before standing up and walking over to sit in front of him, where she originally was.  “Undertaker?  That’s different…” She commented, thinking the word would be morbid, but it didn’t bother her.


Mark smirked, looking mildly arrogant.  “It suits.  I bury my opponents.  And why not?  You won’t be harassed this time, I promise.  Anyone snaps even one picture and I’ll make them eat the camera.  C’mon Jalyse, please?” He arched an eyebrow down at her.



Jalyse groaned when he started pleading with her and sighed heavily, knowing she really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.  “You bury your opponents?  What are you, a fuckin’ morgue man or whatever?” She started laughing when he huffed at her and keeled over, kicking her feet on the grass as she held her stomach.  “Oh god, that’s fuckin’ good!  I’m the Undertaker and I will make you eat the camera if you fuck with me.” She mocked, laughing harder while using a deep, baritone voice, tears welling up in her eyes.


“Actually, that’s not bad.” Mark murmured, staring down at her.  “As for the morgue bit, yer damn right.  I’m not lettin’ you see the tapes, but you have no idea how close to the truth you are, Jalyse.” He smirked as she laughed harder.  “And Raw will be in Houston tomorrow night so…”


“Oh no, you HAVE to show me those tapes now, Mark.  You can’t keep this from me any longer.  I wanna see just what kind of morbid shit you do and what you mean by ‘burying your opponents’.” She did the finger quotes around those three words.  “I wanna see the ‘Undertaker’ in action.” She started laughing at the image of Mark shoving a camera down a man’s throat and erupted in another fit of laughter.  “Oh god, that’s too good.” She wiped a few tears away and shook her head.  “Thanks Mark, I needed that.” She giggled more.


Mark shook his head, flipping her so she was laying on the bedroll, pinning her wrists in one hand, and tickled her side with the other.  “No, yer not seein’ them.” He growled, laughing with her.  “And yer fixin’ to see ‘Taker in action if ya don’t stop pokin’ fun at me.”


“Good Lord, you sound like a kidnapper with your nickname.  ‘Taker?  That’s a riot.  Sounds like you wanna take people’s souls or some shit.” She started laughing harder as he tickled her, squirming away from him, and tried freeing her wrists from his strong grip.  “Oh don’t worry, I’ll find those tapes even if I have to BUY them, which I know your company sells, along with other merchandise!”


Mark had to stop tickling her to wipe away tears of laughter from his own eyes.  “Takin’ souls….you sure you don’t watch wrestling, Jalyse?” He demanded, staring down at her.  “Because yer actually describin’ my onscreen character pretty damn well.”


“Who the Hell believes that kinda shit?” She asked with a raised eyebrow and started laughing harder when he just stared at her, causing her to giggle uncontrollably as she freed her wrists from his grip.  Her hair was splayed out all around her as she shook her head back at him.  “So let me get this straight, tell me if I’m wrong now.  Your name is the Undertaker, you are a guy who buries your opponents and you take their souls.  Right so far?”


“Kinda.” Mark grinned, straddling her waist when she started laughing again.  “And nobody believes it, it’s just part of the gimmick.  Wrestling is now a form of entertainment.  We got the drama, comedy and opera shit goin’.” He sighed when she got a confused look on her face.  “You’ll see it tomorrow.”


“Oh, so now I’m being forced to go against my will, ‘Taker?” She did the finger quotes again, not minding that he was straddling her, and started laughing when he said it was a soap opera.  “No offense, but I think if I wanted to watch that kinda shit, I’d just watch regular soaps.” She smirked, her teal eyes gleaming off the firelight.


“Forced?  Hardly.” Mark smirked, catching her hands in his to stop her from doing that finger gesture.  “And why would you want to watch a regular soap when you could see one that’s a hundred times better?” He asked, arching an eyebrow at her.


“Let me put it to you this way.  Ready?  I hate soap operas.” She stated, seeing he had her wrists in his hands again, and smirked as she refused to back down or be intimidated by him.  “No offense to your world of wrestling or anything, but I don’t like watching two guys feeling each other up.”


Mark snorted.  “No respect…” He muttered, rolling his eyes when she got a smug look on her beautiful face.  “Tell ya what, Jalyse.  You go to the live event with me and if ya honestly don’t like it, I’ll never mention another one ever again.”


“Oh, so now you’re trying to bribe me, eh?” She questioned, arching her eyebrow, already knowing she was going, but she loved tormenting Mark.  It was one of the many things she loved doing to him.  She’d love to do more, but that would have to come in time, if she allowed it to happen.


“Nah, you know yer curious.” Mark shot back, getting off of her and took a sip from the thermos of water.  He ripped open the package of jerky and offered it to her.  “Hungry?”


“Uh no thanks.” She declined, not a big fan of jerky, and smirked as she watched him mow it down.  “You already know I’m going with you, Mark.” She groaned, shaking her head, and sat up as she bent her knees to press against her chest, not believing she was going to do this.  “I swear to god, I BETTER not get on another magazine cover or whatever or else I’m going to kick your ass, UNDERTAKER.” She sarcastically said his ring name.


“You can try, but in all fairness, it was only the side of your face and yer hair was covering most of it.” Mark pointed out, staring at the jerky.  “Don’t like deer?”


“Not particularly.  Don’t get me wrong, I love meat, but not that kind.” She smiled wryly at him and sighed heavily, raking a hand through her hair, and nodded back at him.  “You’re right, I didn’t mean to snap at you about that.  I just really don’t feel like being called the Undertaker’s whore or whatever.” She laughed bitterly at the thought and rested her chin on her knees.  “We’ll leave that description to my dear cousin.” She snorted.


“The article just called ya a mystery woman with long flowing locks.” Mark informed her, chuckling softly when she groaned.  “Don’t worry.  If ya want, I can have a little chat with some editors.” He cracked his knuckles dangerously, the sound of bone crunching echoing throughout the night.


“Damn, violent much?” She retorted, hearing the sickening snap of his knuckles, and shuddered as she shook herself mentally.  “Don’t worry, if I need a protector, I’ll get Hades.” She grinned from ear to ear, thinking of that dog and knew she already loved him.


Mark snickered.  “Best be watchin’ it.  I’m expectin’ him to start humpin’ yer leg any day now.  He’s never taken a shine to someone like he has you.” He groaned.  “Fuckin’ mutt is gonna be Hell when you leave.” He shot her a speculating look.


Giggling wickedly, Jalyse shrugged her shoulders absentmindedly before sticking her tongue out at him.  “Oooo I’m really scared of you.” She waved her fingers at him with her big teal eyes widened mockingly and laughed.  “Puhlease!  You couldn’t harm a fly outside that ring, Marky dear and fuck it, you don’t want that precious dog, I’ll take him off your hands.”


“You ain’t gettin’ my dog, woman!” Mark exclaimed, shaking his head in emphasis.  “Hell no!  Git yer own, got it?” He growled down at her, trying not to grin.


“You might change your mind after I’m gone and Hades decides he doesn’t like his master anymore.” She shot back at him with an arched eyebrow, that devilish smirk plastered on her lips, and her teal eyes were gleaming back at him.  The firelight caught them, showing off the color mixed with the moonlight that casted over.


“Then maybe darlin’, you should just stay so he don’t get lonesome.” Mark whispered suggestively, staring down at her.


Jalyse stopped laughing as she stared at Mark, blinking a little, and cleared her throat uneasily as she raked a hand through her hair.  “Uh no.  Thank you, but no.  I have my own life outside of this fantasy I’m living in currently.  Hades will understand.”


“Really?  Tell me bout yer life outside this…fantasy did ya call it, Jalyse?” Mark smiled slightly.  “How is this a fantasy?”


“Okay so maybe its not a fantasy.  I don’t know what to call it.  It’s surreal, ya know?  I mean, I came here thinking I was going to spend the summer with my now ex-boyfriend and my cousin with her now ex-boyfriend and now look at us.  We’re camping out, talking, having the laughs.  It’s just…surreal.” She looked away from him and back at the fire, poking it a little with the stick before setting it down, and sighed.


Mark privately agreed with her, though he was now curious because she hadn’t answered his first question.  He uncapped the flask of whiskey, took a sip and held it out to her.  “What’s yer life like when yer not livin’ in surrealism?”


“Curious about my past, Marky?” She asked, taking the flask from him, and took a swig, not even wincing.  Acting like it was water that she was drinking and handed it back to him.  She smiled and leaned back on his bedding, not caring at the moment, and stared up at the stars that glistened down on her.


“You asked me a million and one questions, darlin’.  Turnabout is fair play after all.” He pointed out with a smile.


“Hey, that’s not fair.  You started this little talk fest.” She shot back at him with a playful smirk, though she wasn’t staring at him.  More intent on the sky above and sighed heavily.  “You’re really interested?” She finally asked, pure seriousness evident in her voice.  She closed her eyes, her hands folded behind her head while moving her knee back and forth, since it was bent while the other lay prone on the bedding.


“Yeah, I’m really interested, if I weren’t I wouldn’t of asked, Jalyse.” Mark replied honestly.  “But if yer uncomfortable with it then don’t worry.  I’m not out to back you in a corner or make ya uneasy.” He assured her, his own eyes fastening on the fire.


“No, it’s fine.” She slowly sat up from the bedding and raked a hand through her hair, seeing he was right in front of her, and cleared her throat before turning to stare in the fire once more.  “Both of my parents were crack heads.  I grew up in a really bad neighborhood, sheltered, the whole shebang with guns and whatnot.  Was actually in a shootout when I was six years old.  When I was sixteen, I finally ran away from home, living with my best friend for the next two years.  I graduated high school as the valedictorian and as you can imagine, my parents weren’t there for anything…” She paused, her eyes narrowed somewhat, and sighed heavily before continuing.  “I lived basically on the streets until I finally got my ass in gear and went to school, with help from my best friend’s parents.  I really wasn’t on the streets more like a rinky-dink shack of an apartment.  After school, I just went full speed ahead and the rest, as they say, is history.”


Mark arched an eyebrow, staring at her, sitting Indian style, his hands resting over his calves, playing with the grass.  “Damn…” He whistled finally, not knowing what else to say.  “That sounds harsh, but at least you didn’t turn out like yer parents.” He studied her with a newfound respect.


“Oh right, like I really wanted to fill my body up with drugs and get unknown diseases.  You know that sounds like SO much fun, but ya know I actually like living and breathing.” She sarcastically replied with a roll of her eyes and a bitter laugh.  “My parents were fuck ups and should’ve never had a kid.  Thank god I was the only one they were dumb enough to have.” She raked a hand through her blackish blue hair, sighing heavily.


“If yer parents did anythin’ right, it was havin’ just one kid.  You.” Mark argued softly.  “I can’t imagine not knowin’ ya now that I do.  It’d be like missin’ somethin’ special, ya know?”


“Believe me, Mark, I’m nobody special.  Just a regular country girl with a bad attitude.” She assured him, resting her cheek on her knee, and closed her eyes, the warmth of the fire on her face soothing her tormented soul.  She couldn’t believe she’d actually opened up to this man.  This stranger.  Stranger.  Mark wasn’t a stranger.  She’d opened up more to him in a few hours then she had to John in the whole three years they dated.  That thought made her snort as she shook her head and sighed heavily, keeping her eyes shut.


“City born, country bred.” Mark murmured thoughtfully.  “And yer special so stop bein’ modest.  Don’t suit ya.” He teased and reluctantly got up, disappearing into the woods for more firewood.  He returned with an armful, dropped it at a safe distance away before snapping branches, feeding them to the flames.  Afterward, he shrugged off his leather vest and laid out on his bedroll, watching her.  “What’s wrong?”


“Nothing, I just don’t like thinking about the past.  There’s no point in dwelling on it because it’s just that, the past.” She answered and looked over at him when he laid down beside her.  She gasped when he pulled her into his arms, causing her to lay down beside him, and rested her head on his arm that was outstretched, her back pressed against him.  “If you want to go to sleep, just let me know and I’ll move over to my own bed.” She softly said, her eyes focused on the fire.


“When I fall asleep, I’m hopin’ you’ll be right here with me.” Mark whispered, tilting her head so she was looking at him.  “I’m not trying to get into yer pants either…” He assured her.  Not yet anyway, it was still too soon for that.  “Unless this is awkward for ya?  I don’t tend to think bout somethin’ till after I do it.” He explained apologetically.


“I’m not going anywhere.  I’ll be here when you wake up in the morning.” She assured him, her hair splayed over his arm, and snuggled further against his body.  Her arms were folded on her stomach, but her face was nuzzling his chest as she sighed, inhaling his intoxicating scent.  There was nothing wrong with laying with this man.  Nothing wrong with feeling the comfort he possessed.  She enjoyed it and embraced it fully, not having felt like this in awhile.  “Thank you for bringing me here and sharing this part of your life with me, Mark.” She murmured in the softest voice she’d used yet, her eyes closed, completely relaxed and content.


Mark draped his free arm over her waist, running his fingers over her back gently, staring down at her.  “Thank you fer bein’ here to share it.” He whispered, kissing the top of her head.  He sighed, feeling comfortable, truly at ease.  He was in the great outdoors, his favorite place.  It was a beautiful night and he was sharing it with an even more beautiful woman. 


Jalyse snuggled further against him, her arm draping over his side, and rested her head against his chest, sighing.  She hadn’t felt this comfortable with a man since…ever.  She’d never felt like this with John, none of her ex-boyfriends.  That both unnerved and made her happy at the same time.  She smiled as he stroked her back soothingly and before she knew it, Jalyse was out like a light as the darkness claimed her body.


Chapter 16


Mark was up before the dawn, brewing coffee with the other thermos of water he had brought, saving her the water in the other.  He remembered how she had skipped coffee before and headed for juice instead.  He didn’t have any juice and sighed, wishing he’d thought to bring some.  “Jalyse, wake up…” He whispered, gently shaking her.  “C’mon darlin’, open yer eyes…”


“Five more minutes…” She groaned out, waving him off, and snuggled further against the bedding.  She growled when she felt him shake her again and slowly opened her eyes, wincing when she seen the sky slowly coming to life with light again.  Slowly blinking, Jalyse looked around, and the smell of burnt firewood entered her nostrils.  The events of the previous night flowed through her mind, causing her to slowly sit up and yawned loudly, shaking her head.   “Don’t you ever sleep in, Mark?” She grumbled, rubbing the sleep from her eyes, her voice gruff with sleep.


Mark grinned, not taking offense and shook his head.  “Not when I’m out campin’.  Wake up, handle yer mornin’ business and come with me.  I want to show you somethin’.” He said softly, knowing they only had maybe a few precious minutes before the sun started to fully rise.


“I don’t have to pee, jackass.” She shot back at him, not much of a morning person, and grumbled when she slowly began to wake up more.  “Do you have any water or did you use it to make your precious coffee?” She asked and smirked when he handed her the thermos as she took a long swig of the water, sighing.  “Much better.”


Grinning, Mark pulled her up on his back, piggyback style.  “Quicker this way.” He said before walking off, his long strides covering a lot of ground quickly.  He circled the woods, picking up the pace, and finally stopped when they were on the other side, grinning more.  “Didn’t miss it.” Mark lowered her to the ground just as the sun began to rise, the pinks giving way to brighter hues.


Jalyse could literally feel her breath catch in her throat, not believing the spectacular sight before her, and could feel the tears build in her eyes.  The sun slowly began rising over the horizon, painting the sky in orange, pink, and yellows, giving it a soft golden glow as it covered her face.  She wrapped her arms around herself, Mark standing behind her, and allowed a few tears to flow down her cheeks.  The beauty made her cry.  It was that spectacular.  Another moment Jalyse would never forget for as long as she lived.  “Wow…”


Mark lightly wrapped his arms around her waist, resting his chin on her shoulder.  “Beautiful isn’t it?” He murmured, never taking his eyes off the sunrise.  This was something he did every time he came camping, watching the sunset and then watched it rise, always marveling in the beauty.  It was those moments before dusk and dawn then right after that he truly felt all was right with the world.  Sharing it with Jalyse made it all the more better.


“Yes, I’m never going to forget this.” She whispered back, leaning against his chest, and wiped her tears away as she sighed.  It was moments like these where Jalyse felt like the world did have peace and beauty, instead of the darkness that it swarmed with constantly.  It was moments like these where her heart melted and her soul came alive with hope.  Mark holding her made this all the more special and Jalyse meant what she said to him.  She was never going to forget this moment, not even on her deathbed.


Once the sun was fully risen, Mark reluctantly pulled away from her.  “I reckon we should head back and pack up.  It’s a long ride home and Raw is tonight.” He said softly, staring down at her as she reluctantly turned away from the sunrise.  “Did you still want to go or just hang out at the ranch?  I’m sure the boys are done with the rooms…”


“I’ll never hear the end of it if I don’t go to one of these damned shows with you so let’s just go and get it over with.” She joked, smirking at him, and immediately bolted when she seen that wicked gleam in his green eyes.  “Mark, let’s talk about this now…” She tried reasoning with him while running away through the woods.


“Jalyse, watch out for the…” Mark groaned, darting forward when she disappeared from sight and halted at the edge of a large hole, staring down at her.  “Hole.  You alright darlin’?” He dropped down onto his stomach, extending his arms towards her.


“Do I LOOK alright, you jackass?” She snapped, clearly not happy at the moment, and looked at his outstretched arms.  She groaned, not really in the mood to be working her body out like this at this time of day, but knew she had no choice.  She managed to pull herself up, coughing a little, and had dirt on her from head to toe.  “Well, looks like we’ll need to go to the ranch no matter what now.” She clearly didn’t look amused as she placed her hands on her hips after standing up.


“Well at least yer mouth ain’t broken.” Mark replied, rolling his eyes and stood up, staring down at her.  “Don’t run.  The people who owned this place before me dug the Hell up outta this place.  I’ve got most of the holes filled up, but not all so be careful.” He advised and led the way back to the campsite.


“You could’ve WARNED me about them, Mark.” She shot back at him and growled as they finally arrive at the hill again, groaning since the dirt was caked on her clothes and everything.  “Damn it!” She cursed and pulled her tank top off, revealing a black lace bra underneath, and threw it on the ground.  “That’s fuckin’ white too and it’s NOT coming out!” She was not happy, especially when that was one of her favorite tank tops, and walked over to her bag.  She thanked the stars she’d brought extra clothes as the sun radiated off her body in a golden glow.


“Like I was expectin’ ya to run?” Mark replied reasonably, just brushing the loose dirt off his jeans and black t-shirt, not minding it and definitely not as dirty as she was.  He watched her grumble, arching an eyebrow.  “I’m sorry bout yer shirt, I’ll buy you a new one.” He offered, wanting to make it up to her.


“No its fine.  I’ll survive.  I’ll just bleach the shit out of it.” She smirked back at him and finally pulled out a purple and black tank top, pulling it over her head, and then proceeded to pull off her jeans that were caked with dirt.  She threw them on top of her tank top, this time clad in a pair of matching panties that went with her bra before digging in her bag for a new pair of jeans she’d brought with. “God my hair!” She groaned, feeling the dirt in it, and shook it a little with a sigh.


Mark coughed, adverting his gaze by busying himself with dismantling the already pretty bare camp.  He buried the fire pit he’d dug out with the dirt from it, making a neat stack of the extra wood, and rolled up their beds.  He stuffed them back in his knapsack and grunted out, “Whenever yer ready, Jalyse.”


She’d slipped into a pair of tight black hip hugger jeans, matching her tank top, and smirked when she seen how disgruntled he was.  “Well, I sure as Hell wasn’t about to change in those deadly woods again!” She stated, placing her hands on her hips, and tilted her head to the side.  “I might not come out alive if I didn’t change out here.  Sorry if it UNNERVED you, sweetness.” She giggled and shook her head, walking past him and tried getting some more dirt out of her hair, groaning.


Mark shook his head, grinning.  “Well unless ya feel like makin’ a two mile trip, the shortest way back to the bike is through the woods.” He pointed out, shaking his head at her groan.  “Want another ride?” He offered, referring to the piggyback ride he gave her earlier.  “This way you don’t wind up down another hole?” He flashed her a grin.


“Kiss my ass, Calaway.” She growled back at him before stalking into the woods, her backpack slung over her shoulders, and carefully tried navigating her way through them.  She could hear him right behind her and squealed when he actually hoisted her up over his shoulder, causing her to growl even more.  “Mark, put me down!  I can walk, you damn giant!”


“Do you realize you almost stepped on a damn poisonous snake?” He growled angrily back at her.  “You were watchin’ for holes and completely missed it.  Now stop wigglin’.”


“Don’t growl at me, you jackass!  Like I’m supposed to know what the fuck is in these woods?” She shot back at him and huffed, stopping the wiggling and planted her elbow firmly on his shoulder, sighing exasperatedly.  “How much longer until we’re there?”



“Common sense generally tells ya to be cautious when yer in a place yer not familiar with.” Mark argued and pointed out, shrugging away her elbow.  “Ya mind?  That’s annoyin’ and it’s not too far now.  If you promise to pay attention, I’ll put you down.”


“I promise to pay attention.” She gritted out, sounding clearly annoyed and perturbed, immediately sliding out of his arms when he released her, and glared up at him.  “Don’t ever grab me like that again or I might mess up your pretty bike.” She threatened with a serene smile before turning and walking through the woods, watching out for anything that didn’t look normal.


Mark sighed.  She’d been maybe seconds away from probably getting bitten and possibly even dying, but of course, he was the asshole for saving her.  Mark followed her, smirking when she halted at a wall of trees and stated, “Straight on through, Jalyse.”


“You’ve GOTTA be kidding me.” She groaned when he pushed her forward and sighed heavily, raking a hand through her hair, which she’d gotten most of the dirt out of and took a deep breath.  She stepped through them, the twigs scraping her skin, and groaned before finally arriving on the other side, seeing the motorcycle straight ahead.  “Thank you…for what you did back there.” She muttered back at him, referring to the snake, and started over to the motorcycle, wiping the sweat from her forehead.


“Not a problem.” He said gruffly, putting their things in the saddlebags.  He slipped on his sunglasses, hair already braided and held back.  He watched her get on the bike before getting on himself.  Soon, they were roaring off down the dirt lane and back on the pot hole covered road, speeding towards the ranch.


Jalyse sighed with relief when they finally arrived back a few hours later, and hopped off the back, sitting down on the cement ground as she started stretching.  She grunted at the soreness her thighs and legs gave off, but she’d dealt with worse.  She looked up, seeing Mark was staring down at her, and raised an eyebrow as she asked, “Problem with me doing this, sweetness?”


“Nope, just thinkin’ that tonight we’ll take the truck.” He replied, winking down at her before walking into the house, leaving the door connecting the ranch and garage open.  “I don’t know bout you, but a hot shower is soundin’ great.” He called back over his shoulder.  Mark made a quick stop to check out the changes on his house, grinning when he seen his new pool room.


“Yes, that sounds terrific right now.” She agreed with him and squealed when she seen the new pool room Mark had installed.  “Mark!” She ran into the pool room, not remembering him having it, and knew this was probably a new addition to the house.  She ran her fingers over the edge of the table, grinning from ear to ear.  Her teal eyes sparkling and knew she’d be spending A LOT of time in here for the remainder of her stay.


Mark’s eyes were sparkling as well, studying the pool table wistfully.  He glanced up at the clock.  “If we shower and dress quick enough, we have time fer a game before havin’ to leave.” He said slowly, looking across the table at her.  “You a big pool player?”


“Are you kidding?  I love it!” She exclaimed, practically bouncing up and down like a kid in a candy store, and smirked as she placed her hands on her hips.  “Shit, you’re looking at the top pool player on campus, Marky dear.  I’ve won tournaments.” She announced proudly and raked a hand through her hair.  “I’ll race you upstairs.” She then darted past him, her laughter flowing behind her.


Mar shook his head, muttering something about young people under his breath and followed her slowly, letting her beat him.  He grinned at her before opening his bedroom door.  “Care to join me?” He teased before walking inside, closing the door behind him.


Raising an eyebrow at his question, Jalyse got an evil idea in her mind.  She undressed and waited until she heard the shower run before sneaking into his room, closing the door silently behind her, and tiptoed into the bathroom.  She stifled a laugh when she heard him in the shower and opened the door, stepping inside, and brought him down for a rough, passionate kiss.  When he was dazed and she knew he wouldn’t react right away, Jalyse quickly stepped back out, wrapping a towel around her body and walked back into her room.  In her own shower.  She locked the bathroom door behind her and burst out laughing, “That’ll teach him to tease me.”


Mark groaned, resting his head against the tiled wall, his hand moving to turn the hot water off and the cold water on.  “Damn tease…” He groaned softly, letting the ice cold water take care of his suddenly burning body.  When he was simmered down and clean, he stepped out and dried off before dressing.  He wore a pair of black leather pants and a black button down shirt, leaving the top unbuttoned completely. Showing off a broad expanse of chest.  He brushed and dried his hair, not bothering to pull it back, just let it flow down his shoulders.  Finishing up with a trim on his facial fuzz, Mark walked out and headed downstairs.


After a nice laughing fit while she showered, Jalyse finally stepped out, a towel wrapped around her body.  She walked over to her closet and tapped her chin in thought, knowing her blue streaks were a huge part of her appearance.  She smirked when she seen her blue and black corset top and immediately slipped it on, making sure to tighten it so it wouldn’t slip off since it was strapless.  She pulled out a pair of black cargo pants that had lace edges like the corset and slipped them on.  She left her hair down, brushing it and allowed it to flow down her back, hugging her waist nicely, and did her makeup.  She decided to just outline her eyes in black and put clear gloss on her lips before finally slipping into her two inch black steel toed boots that zipped up the sides and went to her knees.  When she was finished, Jalyse stepped out of her bedroom and downstairs, needing a glass of orange juice before they left.


Mark smirked, watching her from his place in the archway, leaning against the wall, his arms folded over his chest.  He shook his head when he heard her get out a glass and knew it was an orange juice moment, mentally making a note to buy some more.  Mark arched an eyebrow when she stepped out of the kitchen, blatantly taking her in.  “Very nice, Jalyse.” He said finally, his voice low and husky.


“Thanks, ya don’t clean up so bad yourself.” She winked at him, downing a huge glass of orange juice, and sighed when she finally finished it off.  “Sorry, had to have my daily dose.” She giggled and walked over to set her glass in the sink before venturing over to him, placing her hands on her hips.  “Have a nice shower?”


“A little cold, but other than that it was alright.” He answered with a shrug and chuckled, reaching out, pulling her against him and bent down to capture her lips with his.  Kissing her passionately.  “Next time Jalyse, I’m goin’ to follow you and there won’t be a damned thing on this earth that’ll save you.” He promised in a whisper against her lips, his green eyes boring into hers.


“You’re the one who threw the offer out there.  I was just taking you up on it.” She smirked back at him, her head spinning from the kiss he just gave her, and raised an eyebrow up at him.  “Is THAT right?  Nobody will be able to save me eh?” She whistled at that moment and smirked when Hades arrived at her side, giggling when he started growling at Mark.  “I think he has a NEW master now.”


Mark arched an eyebrow, dropping down to one knee and stared at Hades, smirking when the dog came up to him and sat before him.  “Hmmm I’m not sure bout yer taste, boy.  She’s a sassy wench.” He commented, stroking Hades’ head.  When Hades whined, he grinned, nodding.  “Think we should?  I agree.” He stood up.  “He thinks we oughta keep ya.”


“You two have me for another three and a half weeks.  Better make’em count.” She informed them both before bending down, smiling when Hades instantly nudged her hand, and petted him, kissing the top of his head.  “Though, I am gonna miss the Hell out of this dog.” She admitted and stood back up, folding her arms in front of her chest.  “So, we going or what, ‘Taker?” She smirked, remembering his nickname around the ring, and laughed when he growled at her.  “Don’t like that, eh?”


“Normally, it wouldn’t bother me, but when ya say it, yer mockin’ me.  So, darlin’, let’s get outta here.” He guided her out of the ranch to his truck this time, helping her in.  Soon, they were on their way to Houston, listening to some soft country music, and made small chatter, mostly ribbing on each other.


Chapter 17


“Here we go.” Mark announced, parking the truck, looking towards the employee’s entrance, not surprised to find some fans milling about  “You ready?”


“If I get one camera flashed in my eyes, I’m going to rip the person’s heart out.” Jalyse stated in a deceptively sweet tone before sliding out of the truck, looking around, and sighed when Mark grabbed her hand.  “What the Hell do I call you while we’re here?” She asked suddenly, wondering if she should call him Undertaker, ‘Taker, or something else that she had no clue about.


“Mark or ‘Taker, don’t matter.” He answered with a shrug, slipping on his usual shades when the fans seen them. 


“‘Taker!  ‘Taker!” Screamed some heavily painted woman, darting at him.


“Christ…” Mark groaned, dodging her and pulling Jalyse behind him.  He breathed a sigh of relief when the door was firmly latched behind them, having pulled her into the arena and away from the psycho woman.  “See what I mean?  Hectic.” He grinned down at her, gesturing to the bustling hallway.  “Welcome to my world, darlin’.”


“Some world.” She snorted in a mutter and allowed him to drag her down the hallway, not believing she was here.  The woman that practically tackled him almost mowed her over, causing her to shake her head.  She looked around the arena, seeing everyone bustling about, and couldn’t believe how crazy it was.  “Jesus…” She muttered to herself.


Mark glanced down at her, keeping a firm grip on her hand as he navigated the hallways, having to stop and exchange brief words with almost everyone he crossed paths with.  Always introducing her to whoever he was talking too.  Though, he didn’t mention her name, not sure if she wanted that known.  “Hope I’m not pissing you off by not giving out your name.” He said, his accent almost fading into a deep baritone.  “I wasn’t sure if you wanted anyone knowing it.”


“No, that’s quite alright.  I actually appreciate it.” She replied, showing him with her eyes she meant what she said as they continued to walk, sighing when a man walked up to them.  He was bald and had an Austin 3:16 shirt on, causing her to raise an eyebrow.  The man had clear blue eyes and could fit into a pair of jean shorts well, but Jalyse didn’t find him attractive like she did Mark.


“Didn’t expect ya back so soon, ‘Taker.” Steve greeted, shaking Mark’s hand, and slapped him on the back.  His blue eyes landed on Jalyse.  “Hello, I’m Steve.” He greeted, extending his hand to her, shooting Mark a quizzical look since Mark did NOT bring women to events.  Mark simply arched an eyebrow, an amused smirk curling on his lips.


“Jalyse.” She simply replied, shaking the man’s hand, and squared her shoulders while staring at him.  “No, I’m not his whore or whatever the Hell you call those…types…around here.” She informed him when he got that look in his eyes.  The look that was silently asking Mark if she was a whore or tramp.  “I’m just going off on a limb here, but he’s a wrestler too, right?” She asked suddenly, peering up at Mark with a raised eyebrow.


“How’d you guess?  The beer belly sort of makes you think twice don’t it?” Mark drawled, winking at Steve.  “And we call them ring rats, Jalyse.” He eyed Steve.  “Which she isn’t so…” His tone got decidedly darker.


Steve held up his hands.  “My apologies.  I wasn’t sure what she was to ya.  Kin?” He offered an apologetic smile to Jalyse.


Jalyse smiled back at him, seeing he had a friendly vibe to him, and patted him on the shoulder.  “Don’t sweat it…Austin?” She said that name questioningly and sighed, feeling like an idiot because she didn’t know who the Hell was who.  “Forgive me, but I don’t watch this…form of entertainment.” She explained briefly, glancing over her shoulder at Mark.


Steve smiled good-naturedly.  “I figured, especially since yer with this jackass.” He gestured to Mark.  “Austin is my ring name.  Stone Cold Steve Austin, but everyone calls me Steve.”


“Or Stevie.” Mark chimed in, snorting.


Steve rolled his eyes and growled out, “I hate that damned name.”


Jalyse stifled a laugh though her shoulders were shaking and smirked as she cleared her throat.  “Well then…Stevie, I guess we should get goin’.  It was nice meeting you.” She quickly moved to stand beside Mark incase this guy blew his top or something.


“If you weren’t so damned cute, I’d stun ya.” Steve threatened teasingly.  “Ya here for?” He looked at Mark curiously.


“Just to watch.  Don’t worry, Steve.  I’m not back to kick your ass, yet.” Mark smirked.


“Shit old man…” Steve snorted, walking off while Mark shook his head and laughed.


Jalyse laughed softly at the exchange she seen between them, though she had a confused look on her face.  “What did he mean by stun me?” She looked up at Mark and felt like crawling in a hole and dying at that moment before growling.  “It’s not my fault I don’t watch this shit.” She reminded him harshly before allowing him to drag her off again.


Mark shook his head.  “Don’t get an attitude with me.  I didn’t say a damned thing.” He said evenly, nodding to another man.  “And he meant he’d wrap an arm around your neck, your chest to his back, and drop to his ass, pulling you with him.  It hurts.” Mark halted, turning to look down at her.  “But he was joking.”


“Whatever.” She muttered, rolling her eyes, and raked a hand through her hair as they finally arrived where they had to be.  “So, how the Hell are we supposed to watch the show again?” She asked, looking around, and sighed heavily, crossing her arms in front of her chest.  She didn’t appreciate Mark’s attitude toward her and wanted to knock his teeth down his throat.


Mark walked over to what looked like a large black wall and pushed a button, the wall rising up into the ceiling to reveal a clear view of the ring.  “Magnifying panes.” He rapped the glass before gesturing to the plush leather couch.  “You thirsty, darlin’?” He asked, staring down at her, looking concerned when he seen the expression on her face.


“No.” She answered evenly, her lips pursed tightly together, and walked down the steps as she plopped down on the couch, crossing her legs and seen all the people before her.  She raked a hand through her hair and crossed her arms in front of her chest, her fingers drumming against her arm, and looked down at the ring before looking around the room they were in.  It definitely looked like Mark had pushed his weight around here and was a top notch guy in the business to get this kind of accommodations.


Mark sighed, dropping down beside her, turning on the couch to stare at her.  “Jalyse, why are you mad at me?” He asked softly.  “If I did something to piss you off darlin’, I’m sorry.”


“It’s not my fault I don’t know anything about this stupid business and you had no right to snap at me like that.” She stated, sounding truly hurt and rested her cheek on her knuckle, her eyes keeping focused straight ahead.  “Like I’m really supposed to know what the fuck a stun is in this business?” She scoffed with a roll of her eyes and sucked her cheeks in before letting out a breath.


“I didn’t think I snapped at you, Jalyse.” Mark blinked, raking a hand through his hair.  “I’m sorry, just stop being angry at me.  I was hopin’ we could have a good night.” He looked at her, his green eyes almost pleading.


Sighing resignedly, Jalyse reluctantly nodded back at him, biting her bottom lip and smiled a little when he pulled her closer to his side.  She leaned her head against his chest while his arm wrapped around her shoulders and looked around the arena.  “There’s a lot of people.  Can they see us in here?” She asked, hoping and praying to God they couldn’t as she looked up into Mark’s green eyes.


“Hell no!  When people look up here all they see is black.” Mark assured her, bending down to kiss the tip of her nose.  “Yer fine up here, don’t worry.” His green eyes sparkled teasingly.  “Afraid to be seen with me, darlin’?”


“Kinda.” She admitted, wrinkling her nose when he kissed it, her cheeks beginning to tinge a little and snuggled further against him.  “I mean, you ARE the Undertaker after all.” She nudged him playfully, batting her eyelashes lightheartedly at him, and laughed when he started growling.


“You think the Undertaker couldn’t be seen with a woman?” He arched an eyebrow, studying her.  “I could always just cart yer pretty lil ass out there and…” He trailed off, realizing she would have no clue what he was talking about.  “I give up.  You’re gonna have to watch them damned tapes.”


“What, you’ll bury me alive or something?” She asked amusedly and stared laughing when he growled down at her again.  “Lord, this is too much.” She shook her head and stood up, walking over to the bar and poured herself a shot of Jack, downing it without wincing and walked back over, sitting down beside him again.  “So, what else does the Undertaker do to his opponents?  I mean, we got the burying thing going on and the taking souls.  What more could there be?”


“You really want to know?” Mark asked, arching an eyebrow.  When she nodded, he stood up, picking her up, and flipped her so her head was dangling between his legs.  He laughed before righting her.  “Normally, I’d drop ya on yer head, but…” He then raised her so she was sitting on his shoulders, her crotch right in his face.  “And then there’s this…” He brought her down gently, catching her in the air, showing her what he’d generally do before standing upright, his eyes locked on hers.  “This is actually a pretty good spot for ya, Jalyse.” He drawled slowly.


“You are a pervert.” She stated, shaking her head and laughed when he placed her on the couch before pushing him away, and brought her feet back to land on the floor.  “So, those are the moves you do on your opponents eh?  Makes me wonder if you’re strictly pussy or not.” She started laughing her ass off when he almost choked on his drink and patted him on the back.


Mark set his drink down, staring down at her.  “You have a sick mind, woman.  Why yer even thinkin’ bout me and then other guys at the same time…” He shuddered.  “Yer not one of them overly kinky women now are ya?”


“Of course not!  It’s just a little too easy to think about, especially after what you just said about my crotch being in your face.” She pointed out with a smirk, running her hand through her hair, and laughed when he shook his head back at her.  “Hey, I’m an observer.  I speak my mind, you should be used to it by now, Mark.” She leaned against the armrest of the couch, waiting for the show to start.


Mark shook his head, about to say something, but froze, walking over to the window when he heard the show kick off.  He smirked when he seen Jalyse jump before extending his hand to her.  “Come watch.” He said, watching as the flares were shot off, music blasting throughout the arena.


Jalyse stood beside him, holding his hand, and watched as the fireworks erupted, the music flowing throughout the arena and seen all the people jump to their feet, roaring in approval.   Her eyes widened when the sound of glass breaking echoed throughout the arena and started smiling as she pointed.  “Hey, isn’t that Steve?” She asked, tilting her head, and couldn’t believe what an attitude change he had.


Mark nodded, arching an eyebrow.  “Yeah…That’s Stevie.” He shook his head when Steve gestured for a microphone, suddenly frowning when the man glanced up at them, not able to see them, but knowing they were there.  “Steve no…this ain’t the time for one of yer damn pranks!” He groaned.


Steve did his little promo before glancing towards the stage.  “Now I know there’s a certain Deadman back there, probably in hiding.  ‘Taker, why don’t ya grow a set and come on out here?” He taunted, a wicked grin on his face.




“Oh my god…” Jalyse murmured, her eyes widened in shock, and blinked several times before backing away from the window.  She sat down on the couch, curling her feet beneath her, not caring if she was wearing her boots or not and raked a hand through her hair.  She wasn’t sure what to say or think, knowing Mark clearly wasn’t happy about this, and wondered if coming here was such a good idea.  ‘I should’ve stayed at the damned ranch.’ She thought with a sigh, looking back at the guy named Steve who was in the ring.


“I’ll be back.” Mark sighed heavily, knowing if he didn’t go out there he was going to take a lot of heat about it later from the boys.  He stared at her longingly before making his way down to the gorilla position, shaking himself before hearing his music, and stepped out.  The bells tolled along with thunder and lightening as the arena went black and Mark knew he was probably shocking some people with the way he was dressed, but didn’t care.  He just made his way down the ramp, his face blank, and stepped into the ring.  “I’m going to ring your damn neck.” He growled lowly.


Jalyse blinked as she walked over to the window, staring out of it and chewed on her thumbnail, watching him.  He looked menacing and his entrance had literally made her heart jump in her throat with all the lightening and whatnot.  She sighed, sinking down on her knees, and blinked as she watched the scene unfold.  ‘I thought this was all supposed to be for fuckin’ show?’ She thought, becoming more confused than ever.


Steve lowered the microphone and smirked.  “Did ya honestly think I’d let you NOT show yer mug?” He teased, his face wicked though his eyes were twinkling.  Steve did love his little pranks and jokes.


Mark stepped forward, not bothered in the slightest when Steve tossed the microphone aside.  “Don’t make me kick your ass all over this place, Stevie.” He shot back, inches from his friend.


“You know what’s comin’.” Steve replied and then ATTEMPTED to kick him, only to wind up with a hand wrapped around his throat.  “Oh fuck…”


“Oh god, he’s gonna choke him out!” She shouted in fright, her big eyes widened, and raked a hand through her hair as she started pacing back and forth rapidly.  This wasn’t good.  This DEFINITELY wasn’t good.  This was supposed to be a night out for them to relax and for her to get a keen sense of this so called sports entertainment.  This wasn’t scripted unless Mark didn’t tell her about it.  “God this is confusing.” She groaned, plopping down on the couch, and watched it.


Mark smirked wickedly, his green eyes glittering as he raised Steve into the air with one arm.  “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck…” Steve kept chanting, his little joke having officially backfired on his ass.


“Nice seeing you again, Steve.” Mark growled before slamming his friend down onto the canvas with a thud.


“Yeah…” Steve groaned, the wind knocked out of him.  “You too…”


Jalyse winced when she seen Mark slam Steve to the mat and felt her entire body cringe.  That was going to leave a mark.  She sighed heavily, shaking her head, and wondered what the Hell was going on.  Mark wasn’t scheduled to be on this show, was he?  Did he think leaving her up in his huge room by herself was appealing because if so, he was sadly mistaken.  The more she thought about it, the more confused she became and just sighed.  Snuggling further against the couch, Jalyse waited for him to return as she continued watching the show and seen Steve roll out of the ring.


Mark made his way backstage, not amused when people milled around him, asking if he was back.  “NO!” He bellowed, trying to pull his way out of the crowd.  Mark finally made it back to the V.I.P. room, people still trailing behind him.  He slid inside, slamming and locking the door behind him, raking a hand through his hair.  “Damn it!” He growled, seeing her.  “Sorry bout that, darlin’.”


“Not a problem, have fun out there?” She asked in an even tone of voice, not sure what to think after what she just seen, and tilted her head so she was staring at him upside down.  The look on his face was full of annoyance and anger, causing her to sigh, and shook her head before turning her attention back to the show.


“Not really.” Mark replied honestly, walking over to sit down on the couch with her.  “Steve likes to play jokes on people.  He thought it’d be amusin’ to call me out there, knowin’ if I didn’t show when I do come back, I’d be takin’ a lotta heat fer it.” He sighed, looking out towards the ring.  “Though I think now he’ll keep his jokes to himself.”


“That little motherfucker…” She muttered under her breath, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and shook her head.  She couldn’t believe he would do something like that and after hearing Mark say it was a prank, she knew it wasn’t supposed to be in tonight’s show.  She looked over at Mark, who was staring out the window at the ring, and smiled, knowing he missed it like crazy.  “You’ll be back soon enough, Mark.  Then you can go back to doing whatever it is you did to Stevie.”


“Actually, I was thinkin’ that after this next run, I’m probably goin’ to retire.” Mark replied, turning to look at her thoughtfully.  “You didn’t like that out there did ya darlin’?”


“I didn’t say that, but…” She sighed heavily and raked a hand through her hair, leaning further against the couch, her knees bent as her feet pressed against the leather cushion below.  “It just shocked me when he did that to you.  I mean, I thought all of this was scripted or planned out to happen?  Do people really do what he did often?” She’d been truly concerned and confused at the same time when Steve called Mark out to the ring.


Mark looked thoughtful.  “I guess the guys who’ve been here fer awhile, the ones who’re drawin’ in the crowds and know they can get away with it do sometimes.  Steve just likes his pranks, though sometimes, they tend to backfire on his ass.  I’ve been known a time or two to get him so I guess it was fair game.” He chuckled softly.  “But generally, yeah darlin’, we follow the scripts.” He coughed, raking a hand through his hair, recalling a time or two he had tossed the damned script over his shoulder and done what he wanted, beginning to slowly smirk.


“Interesting…” She mumbled to herself and looked back at the ring, more confused than ever as they watched the rest of the show.


Chapter 18


The rest of the night pretty much went with Mark showing her the moves that the wrestlers did in the ring.  A few being physical, but she didn’t mind because he was gentle with her.  She loved a little rough housing and quickly proved that to him when he taught her the arm bar.  It was a great night for both of them and Jalyse was saddened to see it end when the final match came up.  She finally seen what a stunner was and had to laugh, not believing how true the name fit the move.  She finally understood what Steve meant by saying he would stun her if she wasn’t so cute.  That memory made her laugh as the match came to a close with Steve emerging victorious.


“I oughta go down there and just beat his ass.” Mark said, shaking his head, watching his friend cast a smug smirk up at them.  “You ready to go or do ya want to wait until things in the back settle down?” He asked, glancing back at Jalyse, rubbing his arm with a grin.


“Do what you want, Mark.  I don’t care honestly.” Jalyse replied with a smirk of her own, shaking her head when she seen Steve deliver two double middle fingers, and laughed at the look on Mark’s face.  “I think that was directed at you, sweetness.” She laughed harder.


“I think it was too.” Mark growled, his green eyes narrowing evilly.  “Come on, darlin’.” He took her hand and guided her from the room, leading the way down to the dressing room area.  “Hey Austin!”


Steve turned around and grinned.  “Hope ya liked my hello.” He greeted, wiping the sweat off his bald head.  He took the punch in the arm Mark tossed him with a good-natured grin, rubbing the spot.  “Jeez, still sore bout that joke?”


“Would you like another choke slam?” Mark asked, raising an eyebrow down at his friend.


“Nah, I’m good.  How’d ya like the show?” Steve asked, looking down at Jalyse.


“It was…interesting.  That’s the best word I can honestly describe it to be.” She was being honest with them both as she raked a hand through her hair, shaking it a little as the blue streaks shined off the lights above, and placed her hands on her hips.  “Did YOU enjoy provoking him, Stevie?” She shot back with a wicked smirk forming on her lips, her teal eyes gleaming.


“Up until the jackass slammed me.” Steve admitted shooting Mark a wry look.  “I noticed ya didn’t soften the landing.”


Mark folded his arms over his massive chest, his grin both friendly and dangerous all rolled into one.  “Hell no, you deserved it.”


Steve groaned, seeing that grin.  “C’mon now, ‘Taker, it was just a friendly prank is all.  No need to-” He gasped when Mark’s hand shot out again, wrapping around his throat.


“You already know what to say.” Mark said, sounding almost bored as he studied his fingernails.


Steve groaned, trying to pry Mark’s hand away from his throat, “Nuh uh!”


Jalyse swallowed hard as her eyes shot open, not expecting Mark to grab him like that, and slowly backed away.  She crossed her arms in front of her chest, tilting her head somewhat to the side, and smirked when Steve started asking her for help.  “Are you fuckin’ crocked in the head or did you get hit too hard earlier, Stevie?  If you think I’m getting involved, you’re SADLY mistaken, little man.” She stated emphatically, standing back a little further, and leaned against the wall as she folded her arms in front of her chest, amusement shining in her eyes.


“C’mon now, say the words.” Mark said, his own green eyes gleaming.  He tightened the grip, pressing Steve back against the wall.


Steve shook his head, well aware of the crowd that was forming around them, the knowing grins on his co-worker’s faces making him blush.  “Ain’t happenin’, ‘Taker!”


Mark glanced back over his shoulder at Jalyse.  “What do you think, darlin’?  Should I be nice and let this yella belly snake go slither his merry way or…” He grinned when Steve yelped as he trailed off.


“Well he DID ask for it…” She started tapping her chin in thought, still leaning against the wall, and laughed when Steve started spewing out threats at her.  “You’re in NO position to be giving me orders, Stevie.” She planted her hands on her hips and sighed dramatically with a roll of her eyes.  “Do whatever you want, Mark.  I care not.”


When Steve muttered an interesting little choice of words, Mark pulled him away from the wall before slamming him back full force, knocking the wind out of him.  “Apologize to her.” He ordered dangerously, his green eyes dark and stormy, no longer having fun.  The gathered crowd all took a few steps back, knowing Mark’s temper.


Steve stared up at Mark, contemplating for a minute, wondering if he’d really do it before deciding now wasn’t the time to find out.  “I’m sorry, Jalyse.” He apologized finally, groaning when he was dropped on his ass.


She slowly walked away from the wall and over to the man on the ground, her teal eyes steely, and pressed her foot right against his crotch, like she had to Mark that one day at the rest stop.  “If you ever,” She began, pressing a little harder on it, causing him to grunt out in pain.  “And I do mean EVER, decide to call me that again, it will be the absolute LAST thing you EVER say, got me?” She pressed harder when he refused to comply with her and smirked when he finally breathed out in agreement.  “That’s what I thought, dickweed.” She then pressed on it a little harder than she had with Mark before pulling away and looked at the crowd.  “Show’s over people, you can go back to your lives.”


Mark smiled grimly down at her, approving of the way she handled herself.  He flashed his dangerous green orbs on the crowd who was now hesitating, apparently trying to decide if they should listen to her or not.  “Ya all heard the lady.  GET MOVING NOW!” He bellowed.  Mark stared down at her as the crowd quickly moved, then at Steve, who was groaning in pain.  “Very nice.”


“I don’t appreciate being called ‘Taker’s ring rat slut whorebag.  Not exactly my cup of tea, big guy.” She glared down at Steve, who’d called her that, sneering almost, and raked a hand through her hair as she looked back up at Mark.  “Are we ready to leave or did you have anything else planned?” She asked, knowing if she didn’t get away from Steve soon, she was going to end up either beating the shit out of him or kicking him so hard in the groin, his balls would be lodged in his throat.


Mark grunted, taking her hand and pulling her against his side, wrapping an arm around her waist.  “We can go.” He answered softly, staring down at her.  He guided her away, kicking out behind him to catch the slowly getting to his feet Steve in the side.  “I feel so much better…” He grunted again, smirking slightly.


“I’m sure you do.” Jalyse smirked back at him and walked with him down the hallway, not believing what Steve had called her.  He didn’t even know her, the stupid prick!  When they arrived in the parking garage, Jalyse stepped away from Mark and walked over to the passenger door, leaning against it, and raised an eyebrow up at him when he just stood there.  “Are you going to open it or just stand there looking stupid?”


Mark growled, staring down at her.  “Move yer ass first and I will.” He said, grinning when she growled back.  He moved so he was standing directly in front of her, bending down to press his forehead against hers.  “You were amazin’ tonight.” He whispered, staring into her eyes.  “I like a woman who can handle herself the way you did, darlin’.”


“I’ve always handled myself around you or did you not notice?” She retorted swiftly with a smirk, pressing her forehead against his, her eyes narrowed slightly.  A curl of a playful sneer formed on her lips as she moved to the side so he could open her door for her.


Mark rolled his eyes dramatically, opening the door, and bowed mockingly, his eyes glimmering with amusement.  “Yer ride, M’lady.” He swatted her ass gently as she stepped in.  Once they were out of the parking garage, he glanced over at her and asked, “Hungry, Jalyse?”


Instead of answering him right away, Jalyse reached over and grabbed his cock through his pants, causing him to almost swerve off the road.  “Let’s get one thing straight, Mark.  NOBODY smacks me on the ass, do you understand me?  Don’t make me ruin another one of your precious motorcycles.” She sneered at him, squeezing a little more when he yelped, and smirked in satisfaction.  “Good.” She then released him before scooting back over to her side of the truck and crossed her arms in front of her chest.  “And no, I’m not hungry.”  He was going to learn one way or another even if she had to beat it into his skull.


Pulling off on the side of the road, Mark just stared at her and shook his head before getting out of the truck.  “Go to Hell.” He growled, tossing the keys at her through the window before walking around to the sidewalk.  All the anger boiled over as he planted his massive fist against the side of the door, putting a healthy sized dent in it.  Last time, he had deserved it, he spanked her.  This time was nothing more than a playful swat.  ‘Woman needs to get some damned Midol or somethin’.’ He thought angrily, heading down the street.


Shaking her head, Jalyse just tossed the keys on the driver’s seat and opened the door, slamming it shut, and looked at the nice sized dent.  She sighed wearily, raking a hand through her hair, and started down the opposite side of the street.  What the fuck was she going to do now?  She could hop on a red eye flight back to school, but then he’d probably burn all of her belongings.  Jalyse hated being hit on the ass.  Her parents had done that to her when she was little, but only, it was abuse.  Sheer, painful abuse with belts and other items that she didn’t care to remember as she shivered.  “Fuck him.” She muttered and kept on walking, trying to will the tears to stay in her eyes.  So much for a peaceful night.


Mark stormed into a small bar, one where he was known so he didn’t have to worry about being harassed.  He sat down at his usual corner table, hidden in the shadows.  He grunted his thanks when a bottle of bourbon was placed in front of him along with a shot glass and a longneck.  “Fuck her.” He muttered, trying to remember how much she annoyed him.  Though honestly, they’d been getting along famously until tonight.


After walking for what seemed like an eternity, Jalyse finally got some money out of a nearby ATM machine and haled a cab.  The entire ride back to the ranch, she kept thinking about the past few months, her breakup with John, and most of all, Mark.  She hadn’t meant to lash out on him like that, but Jalyse was the type of woman who was very head strong and didn’t appreciate anyone treating her like a child.  Light tap or not, she didn’t condone it and never would, not with her past and everything.  It took an hour before she finally arrived at the ranch and paid the cab driver.  She put the code in and walked the mile long stretch to the house, knowing she had no keys, but also knew Mark didn’t lock the garage. 


She was half tempted to destroy all of his precious motorcycles, but didn’t do it because of two reasons.  One, she wasn’t like her cousin Journey and two, she thought they were too beautiful.  She finally walked into the house and headed straight to her room, deciding she was leaving in the morning.  Fuck him and fuck everything that had happened.  She could survive in her dorm room at college.  Anything was better than being in this house with him and his overbearing, temperamental ass.  She slammed her bedroom door shut and started packing her things, tears streaming down her cheeks freely, unbothered by them.


Mark wasn’t surprised to find his truck where he’d left it and her gone several hours later when he finally emerged from the bar.  He drank half the bottle of bourbon and wasn’t surprised to find himself walking a straight line.  His anger was keeping him sober.  He sighed when he seen the keys and got in, heading for home.  He didn’t know if she’d be there or not, but he wasn’t about to go looking for her.  He was through with this shit.  Every time he thought they were making some progress, she flew off at him, whether he deserved it or not.  Tonight, he definitely didn’t think he deserved it.  He was only fucking teasing her! 


“Ah hell…” Mark growled when he seen the tire marks out in front of the gate, knowing she was there, probably getting her ass around to leave.  “Fuck her.” He muttered, determined to just let her walk away this time.  As he headed into the house by the front door, Mark wondered why he was suddenly feeling sad if he wanted her out of his hair so much.


Jalyse didn’t even flinch when she heard the front door slam shut, too busy at the task at hand.  She’d called the airlines and was really ticked when she found there were no red eye flights for the next two weeks.  She would have to take a regular flight, which would cost her twice as much, so she decided to stay in a hotel room.  She continued to pack, stuffing her bag full of clothes, and sighed heavily when she heard Hades pawing at the door.  She couldn’t deal with it anymore and ripped open her door, screaming, “GET THE FUCK LOST, MUTT!” She then slammed the door before going to pack again, crying even harder, and didn’t understand why this hurt her so much.


Mark frowned upon hearing that and watched as Hades came bolting down the stairs, whining and darting outside.  That was it.  She could go ahead and be a bitch towards him, but not his damned dogs!  Mark stormed up the stairs and threw open her bedroom door.  “We need to talk.” He said coldly, watching as she packed, folding his arms in front of his chest.


“I have nothing to say to you now get out so I can finish packing.” She ordered in a low, deadly voice, not phased in the least by his angry tone.  She was just as angry, if not MORE!  She completely ignored him as she walked over to the dresser and started pulling more clothes out, throwing them on the bed.  Then proceeded to slam the dresser drawers shut harshly, causing the vanity mirror to shake that was attached to it before going to start folding her clothes.


Mark frowned when the mirror started to fall forward, stepping forward to catch it before it toppled over.  He gently set it against the wall before shoving the clothes out of her hands, grabbing her gently, but firmly by her upper arms, and pinned her against the wall.  He trapped her legs together with one massive thigh so she couldn’t kick him.  “What the FUCK is yer problem with me?” He demanded angrily, his green eyes shooting venom at her.


“Let me go right now or you’ll regret it!” She spat hatefully back at him, her teal eyes full of anger and hurt, and winced when his grip tightened on her upper arms.  She knew she was up shits creek without a paddle, especially after screaming at Hades the way she had, but she couldn’t help it.  This man made her crazy and it didn’t help the damned dog was scratching at her door constantly.  She pursed her lips tightly together and wrinkled her nose when she smelled the bourbon on his breath.  “You need a fuckin’ breath mint.” She commented smugly.


Mark curled his upper lip into a sneer.  “You need a fuckin’ attitude check.” He snarled, loosening his grip only a fraction.  “Now answer my fuckin’ question, Jalyse!  I was only playin’ with ya and you go off actin’ like a damned bitch!”


“It’s none of your goddamned business why I did that!!” She shouted back at him in defense, tears of anger and pain swelling in her eyes, and started wrenching her arms out of his grip.  “Let me go so I can finish packing and get out of your hair!” She ordered, her tone never changing, refusing to let this prick know anything more about her past.  She’d opened up more to him than she wanted to and hated herself for it.  She didn’t want to get to know Mark.  Didn’t want to get attached to him anymore than she already was because her heart was already breaking at the fact that after this month ended, they ended.


Mark frowned, pushing her back against the wall, this time gently.  His green eyes stared down into hers, searching them intently.  “How am I supposed to know if I’m fuckin’ up with you, Jalyse when I have no damned idea what sets ya off?” He demanded softly, finally stepping away from her, and raked a hand through his hair, sighing heavily.  He stared at her for a minute before shaking his head, having seen the look in her eyes.  “Run then, Jalyse.” He said finally before walking out, heading outside and calling Hades to him, dropping down on the patio steps.  “Sorry boy…”


Tears slid down her cheeks as she watched him walk out of her room and couldn’t even move.  She just slid down the wall, holding her heart, and breathed in and out heavily.  He’d scared the Hell out of her by slamming her against the wall like he did, but she honestly didn’t blame him.  After taking a few deep breaths to calm down, Jalyse finally stood up, ignoring her splayed out clothes, and headed out of the bedroom.  If he wanted to know so damned bad, then she was going to tell him and make him feel like a true asshole. 


She wasn’t running from anything because there was nothing to run from!  She walked down the hallway and seen him outside on the patio with Hades, deciding to give them a minute as she walked over to the fridge.  She was shaking as she brought the bottle out, pouring a glass of orange juice, and took a sip of it before gripping the door, trying to calm herself down a little more.  ‘Damn it, pull it together, J!’ She coached herself mentally and closed the fridge door.


Mark sighed, unbuttoning the silk shirt he wore, hating the feeling of it being plastered to his skin.  He stared out into the backyard, Hades resting his head on his knee, and shook his head again.  He knew Jalyse had a horrible past.  She had told him herself.  Maybe that was what her problem was.  Who knew anymore?  All he knew was this woman was driving him insane and it wasn’t all that bad either.


Chapter 19


After having three glasses of orange juice, she finally calmed down enough to walk outside.  She opened the sliding glass door and stepped out, sighing when Hades cowered away from her, and started growling, but it didn’t scare her.  She just brushed the dog off and walked over to the other side of the patio, leaning against the edge, and dropped her head forward as she allowed tears to fall from her eyes and down her cheeks.  “Before I leave, I wanted to tell you the reason why I did that to you tonight.  Then, I’ll be out of here and you won’t ever have to see me again, Mark.” Her voice was low and quiet, full of hurt, and sucked in a sharp, shaky breath.


“None of my business.” Mark replied stiffly, raising a hand to silence the still growling Hades.  “You said it yerself, Jalyse.” He didn’t bother looking at her, knowing he’d either kiss her or kill her if he did.  He sighed, drawing his knees up on the steps, his shoulders slumping, suddenly feeling exhausted. 


“Fine, fair enough.  Have a nice life, Mark.” She then walked back inside the house without another word, raking a hand through her hair, and sniffled a little as she headed back upstairs.  She didn’t want to tell him anyway, the fucking asshole!  It made Jalyse wonder why she even stayed in the first place, especially after everything that had happened between them.


Mark sighed, staying out here for a few more minutes before getting up and heading back inside.  He halted at the foot of the steps, wondering whether he really wanted to go up there.  He squared his shoulders.  This was his damned house!  Why the Hell was he hesitant?  He knew why.  It was because of that damned infuriating woman…Growling, Mark started up the stairs, halting when he heard what sounded suspiciously like a sniffle and stopped outside of her door.


Jalyse couldn’t stop crying even if her life depended on it as she continued packing her things away.  No matter how many times she wiped them away, they just kept on coming and it was starting to irritate her.  She raked a hand through her hair as she zipped up her first bag, throwing it on the floor, and proceeded to start her second.  She wasn’t staying the night there.  She wanted to get as far away from Mark as she possibly could.  The man pissed her off to the point where she couldn’t see straight and yet, at the same time, he could light her body on fire in the same time span.  “God I hate him.” She whispered to herself and threw more clothes on the bed, knowing she had three months worth to pack away.


Mark felt his heart break at the sounds of her tears and had gently opened the door.  He heard what she whispered and stepped right back out, closing it just as quietly behind him.  ‘I don’t care.’ He thought, heading back downstairs.  Though, the feeling of his heart shattering in his chest told him he was only lying to himself.


After her final bag was packed, Jalyse started lugging them one by one downstairs to the door.  She wiped away her tears and stopped when Hades walked up to her, causing her to look at him, shame in her eyes.  The dog whined, causing her to burst out in tears, and dropped to her knees, throwing her arms around him.  “I’m so sorry, boy.  I didn’t mean to yell at you like that.” She whispered, burying her face in the dog’s fur, and sobbed softly before pulling away to stare into his brown eyes.  “Take care of him.  He’s not all bad.  Just thick headed.” She wiped her tears away before heading back upstairs, not surprised when the dog followed her, and started lugging her second bag down.


Mark was waiting for her when she came back down, just in his leather pants, no shirt, socks or shoes, his heavily tattooed muscular arms folded across his chest.  “I’m thick headed and yer a stubborn wench.” He said, taking her bags away from her before pulling her into his arms, staring down at her for a moment, then kissed her gently, his breath mint fresh.  “I took yer advice and popped some breath mints.” He murmured against her lips.


Jalyse couldn’t say anything as she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face in the crook of it, hugging him tightly.  She sobbed softly against him, her entire body trembling, and felt Mark’s arms wrap around her waist.  It felt good to be in his arms.  It felt right.  She couldn’t explain it, but she didn’t want to leave, not yet anyway.  This summer had been both the most heart breaking and uplifting she’d ever had in her life and she still had three and a half weeks left of it.  She hated fighting with Mark.  Hated it with a passion, but he was right.  She was a stubborn wench and he was thick headed.


Sighing, Mark held her tightly, his face buried in her hair.  “Don’t leave yet, Jalyse.” He whispered.  “Let’s try to work through this, darlin’.  I don’t want you to go.” He pulled back and pressed his forehead against hers, staring into her eyes.  “Please stay.”


“Okay.” She whispered softly back at him and nodded, a few more tears spilling down her cheeks, and ran her fingers through his hair as she sucked in a shaky breath.  “I’m sorry, Mark.” She didn’t trust her voice so she just whispered it, not good with apologies, and closed her eyes as their foreheads remained pressed together.  She knew when she was wrong and she was this time, but she hated admitting it.  Somehow, she had a feeling Mark was the same way.


Mark just nodded, scooping her up into his arms and made his way to the living room, setting her down on the couch with her on his lap, threading his fingers through her hair.  “We’re both sorry for what we said and did, how bout that?” He said finally, knowing they both were too damned stubborn and bullheaded for their own damned good.


“That works for me.” She replied in a whisper, sniffling a little, and snuggled further against him as he ran his fingers through her hair.  She took his hand in her own and examined it, sighing when she seen it was bruised and swollen and knew he bruised the inside of it good.  “Does it hurt?” She softly asked, her voice just barely above a whisper, and ran her fingers over it, more tears building in her eyes.  She hadn’t cried this much in…forever.  Not even with her breakup with John.


Mark stared down at his fist, flexing his fingers.  “I honestly didn’t even notice it.” He admitted.  “It doesn’t hurt…” He reached out to run the pad of his thumb under her eyes, catching the few tears that escaped.  “Why’re ya cryin’ now, darlin’?  What’d I do?” Mark looked mildly alarmed, afraid he’d messed up already.


“Nothing.” She sniffled a little and sat up, wiping her tears away, and cleared her throat a little.  “I didn’t want to leave and I feel really bad about what I did to you.  I normally don’t feel bad for the things I do because there’s a reasoning behind them usually.  This time, it was just my past haunting me.  John did it to me one time when we first started going out and I ended up breaking all of his bones in his hand that he smacked it with.  I used a baseball bat.” She giggled when Mark physically cringed and gently caressed his face with her hand.  “I’m sorry for what I did, Mark.  It was just a natural reaction, but that’s still no excuse.”


Mark shook his head.  “With a baseball bat?” He repeated, hiding his hands by wrapping his arms around her.  “Don’t be sorry, darlin’.  Now I know to keep my paws off yer ass.” He replied smiling slightly.


“I didn’t say you couldn’t touch my ass.  I just don’t want you smacking it or tapping it or doing anything like that.  My parents,” She paused, taking a deep breath, and pressed her forehead to his, her hands on his chest.  “They used to hit me, abuse me rather, with belts and other things that I don’t want to mention.  That’s what I wanted to tell you earlier out on the patio.” She sighed heavily and kissed his lips softly before resting her head on his shoulder, nuzzling his neck.


Mark growled when he heard that.  “I would LOVE to meet yer sperm donors.” He said gravely, leaving no doubt what for, wishing he could see them just once.  He’d like to take a belt to THEIR asses!  “I promise to never do that again, alright?” He shivered at the feeling of what she was doing.  “Ya might not want to keep doin’ that to my neck, Jalyse…”


“It’s comfy though.” She protested in a soft whisper, nuzzling it more, and sighed in contentment, snuggling further into his arms.  She could seriously stay like this for the rest of her life, not realizing Mark was becoming fully aroused by what she was doing.  She wiped her tears away and smiled at what Mark said about her parents, knowing he was pissed, and she didn’t blame him.  Who wouldn’t be in all honesty besides cold hearted bastards?


Mark assumed she didn’t know what she was doing to him and bit back a groan, gently rubbing her back.  “Are you tired?” He asked softly, knowing they’d both had a long night.  It was probably sometime in the early A.M by now.


“Yeah, but I don’t want to move right now.” She replied softly, running her hands up and down his arm, and suddenly looked up, noticing his artwork for the first time.  She’d noticed it prior, but never really examined them closely. 


She blinked a little, her eyes stinging somewhat from how much crying she’d done, and ran her fingertips over his tattoos.  They were the most morbid, yet breathtaking pieces she’d ever seen in her life as she kept running her fingers over them, examining his thinking demon tattoo next.  Mark involuntarily flexed his muscles under her touch, his eyes never leaving her face.  His tattoos actually bothered a lot of women and he waited with baited breath to see what her reaction would be.  What she’d say about them.


“These are so beautiful…” She breathed out, running her finger along his thinking demon, smiling a bit, and looked up at him into his eyes.  “This one reminds me of you, especially when you’re deep in thought about something.” She then went further down his arm, captivated and entranced by the artistic work put into all of these tattoos.


Mark barely repressed a shiver, glad he was wearing leather because it was keeping his erection in place.  Though, it hurt like a son of a bitch.  He watched her, finally chuckling softly.  “Do you have any tats, Jalyse?” He asked, needing to distract himself.


She didn’t say anything.  Instead, she turned so she was sitting with her back to him and moved her hair to the side.  Before him on her left shoulder blade was a black heart that was split down the middle by a sword.  The sword had a skull on it with glowing red eyes and it was silver.  There were little droplets of blood dripping from the crack at the bottom where the heart ended.  “I love tattoos.” She murmured softly.


“So do I.” He whispered, running one large finger over her tattoo, studying the artwork.  “This is gorgeous, did you design it yerself?” He asked huskily, still tracing the heart.


Sighing and placing her hair over her other shoulder, Jalyse simply nodded and looked directly at the roaring fire that was in the fireplace he’d started up.  “Yeah, I don’t get a tattoo without it meaning something.  This heart symbolizes all of the pain I’ve felt in my life.” She was being honest with him as she ran her fingers through her hair, leaving her shoulder bare.  “What about you?  Did you design any of yours or just pick them out?”


“What do you think?” Mark retorted, arching an eyebrow, and shook his head.  “Designed darlin’.  I’m like you, my tats have to mean somethin’.” He leaned forward to kiss her tattoo.  “I’d like to take away yer pain, darlin’.” He murmured, his lips against her skin.


Jalyse allowed her eyes to drift shut when she felt his lips brush against her tattoo, causing her to do a full body shiver against him, knowing he felt it.  The man was lighting her on fire just from that one touch and sighed in contentment as she slowly opened her eyes, her tears no longer falling.  “You’d be the first person who’d actually want to do that, Mark.” She admitted to him softly, her teal eyes reflecting off the firelight.


Mark growled softly, not believing that.  She was too beautiful of a woman.  Then again, look at what her parents, John and Journey had done to her.  He’d love to get those four pricks into one room all at once.  That’d be a great day for him.  He closed his eyes, smiling when he felt her shiver and slowly traced the heart with his tongue, shivering himself now.


Jalyse hissed out when she felt his slick, wet tongue outline her heart, causing her to scoot a little further against him, and ran her fingers through his hair.  She could feel him coming to life and smiled to herself.  Though, the sensations that were coursing throughout her body were enough to drive her over the fine razor edge of ecstasy.  This man not only dripped pure sexuality, but he was gentle and caring.  Jalyse wondered how in the Hell Journey could ever treat him the way she did, which was like a dog, and swallowed down her scoff.  She didn’t want to ruin this moment and closed her eyes again while beginning to stroke his arms gently with her hands.  She was still wearing the outfit from earlier that she had at the arena so her corset gave him great access to her shoulder.


Mark finally, hesitantly moved his kisses away from her tattoo, trailing his mouth across her back, loving her corset top.  Not only was it drop dead sexy on her, but it also let him have his way with her beautiful back and shoulders.  He smiled to himself, having never really found a woman’s back or shoulders to be all that sexy.  He was more of a leg man generally, but everything about Jalyse turned him on.  Elbows included.


“Mmm Mark…” She moaned out softly, not able to help herself.  The feelings and sensations were too wonderful for her to ignore and keep bottled up inside.  She sighed as she dropped her head forward, her hair going with it, and placed her hands on his thighs.  She gently began massaging them through the leather material of his pants, loving how they looked on him.  She bit her bottom lip when she felt him running his hands up and down her sides.  “Christ, what are you doing to me?” She whispered out breathlessly, the fire giving her a golden glow.


“Lovin’ you.” Mark replied gruffly, his voice harsh with passion.  His strong hands circled around to gently cup her breasts before moving back down her stomach and to her ribs, never taking his mouth off of her back.  He slowly moved up her shoulder blade, feeling her tense then relax, smiling again.  “Yer beautiful, Jalyse.”


Her breathing had become extremely ragged, especially when he started caressing her through her corset, and slowly leaned back so her head was resting on his neck.  Her eyes were closed while he still caressed her, his massive hands causing her body to light on fire wherever he touched.  She didn’t want him to stop as her hair splayed over his shoulder down her own before bunching up above her against the couch.  She reached her hand back and slowly began massaging the back of his neck, her hands tangling in his hair.  Her heart was beating a furious tattoo in her chest.


Mark bent his head down, fastening his mouth on the side of her neck where her hair wasn’t, moving his hands to rub slow circles on her stomach.  “You feel wonderful, Jalyse.” He whispered in her ear, his body burning up from her touching him.  The feeling of her leaning back against him was causing him to tremble with desire.  He was rapidly losing the ability to hide it from her and he knew she was probably aware of that.  Mark flicked his tongue out against her earlobe, once again gently cupping her breasts through the corset.


“So do you, Mark…” She breathed out in response, writhing against him as she finally couldn’t take anymore.  The amount of passion inside of her was too much for her to take as she slowly switched positions.  She was now straddling him, trembling from head to toe, and her breathing was incredibly ragged as she pressed her forehead to his.  “Not yet.” She managed to choke out, running her hands up and down his arms, and kissed him softly.  “Please don’t hate me.  I promise, we’ll do it.  Just not yet.” She hated saying this to him, but she had to make sure she absolutely wanted this.  The ecstasy was clouding her judgment and mind.  Shit, she knew she wanted Mark, but it was still too soon.


Mark nodded, slowly running a finger down her face, tracing her nose then her lips.  “There’s no rush, Jalyse.  We don’t have to do this at all.  I just want you to be comfortable with me.” He said softly, reassuringly, letting her know this was all in her hands.


“I want this, I really do.  Please don’t think that I don’t, Mark.  I just need a little more time.” She sighed heavily, slowly pulling away from him, and caressed his face with her hand as she smiled.  “I am comfortable with you.” She raked a hand through her hair, taking a few deep breaths to calm down her racing heart and simmering body that felt like it would explode at any given second.  When she finally calmed down, she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face in it, still trembling a little from the amount of desire he made her feel.  “I want to get to know you a little better before we do this.” She explained softly to him.  “John was my…” She paused briefly and held him tighter.  “He was my first.  I just don’t want to make the same mistake again.” She hoped he wasn’t upset at her for speaking her mind and what was in her heart.


Mark studied her thoughtfully, understanding completely why she was hesitant.  He nodded again and leaned forward to gently kiss her forehead, gently pushing her hair back again.  “I understand darlin’.” He whispered.  “Why don’t you go get some sleep?  I’ll bring yer bags up tomorrow.” He suggested softly.


Looking into his emerald green eyes, Jalyse sighed heavily as she nodded, knowing he was right, and slowly slid from his lap.  She looked down at him, biting her bottom lip, and leaned down, kissing his lips softly, lingeringly.  “Sweet dreams, Mark.” She whispered before walking out of the living room and upstairs to her room, not surprised when Hades followed in tow.  She smiled down at her companion and walked into her room, feeling at peace for the first time in awhile, and laid down on the bed, not even bothering to change.  All of her clothes were packed away so its not like she could change anyway.  She laughed softly when Hades jumped on the bed and laid down beside her, causing her to pet him as she snuggled against him, wishing he was Mark.


Mark remained where he was until the fire died down.  Only then did he stand up, groaning at the ache in his body, knowing it would only be eased by her.  He slowly made his way out to the hall, spotting her bags, and shook his head.  He had been so close to losing her tonight.  It actually made his heart jump.  Sighing, Mark started up the stairs.  He got himself another cold shower.  They were becoming habit by now then laid down in bed, not bothering with clothes because ten to one they’d wind up on fire.  He tucked his arms under his head and stared at the ceiling, waiting for sleep to come.


Chapter 20


The following day, Jalyse was up and out in the yard, playing with the dogs again.  Hades wasn’t much of a runner and stuck by her side, moving when she did, and she had to smile at that.  Mark had brought her things up to her room so she changed into a pair of purple cotton shorts with a matching tank top, was having a ball playing Frisbee with the dogs.  Her laughter echoed in the beautiful summer sky as the sun streamed down at her and laughed when the dogs tackled her.  “Good Lord, you boys are heavy!” She grunted out, trying to push them off of her, and finally laid in the grass, laughing as she closed her eyes.


Mark watched her from his gym window, shaking his head and finally returning to his workout.  He was in loose fitting pants and a black beater.  He had been pumping iron, but had gotten distracted by the sound of Jalyse’s laughter.  He shook his head and decided to shadow box instead, needing something to keep his mind off of her again.  Last night had been incredible.  Her admitting John had been the only man she’d ever been with had knocked him for a loop, but then after thinking about it, it made her even more special to him.  She wasn’t a slut and he respected that. 


“Alright, who’s hungry?” She laughed when they all three started barking at her and got off of her.  She dusted herself off and ran with them back to the house, up the patio steps, and into the kitchen, wiping her forehead with her arm.  It was around ninety degrees out so she had a nice fine sheen of sweat caked all over her as she walked over to the cupboards.  She smiled when they all sat at their respective bowls and gave them each a fair amount of food before petting their heads.  “Lord, I feel like I’m feeding my children.” She softly said to them, leaning against the counter, and had retrieved a bottled water from the fridge, downing it.


“Hot enough for ya?” Mark asked, walking into the kitchen, freshly showered and in a pair of cut off shorts and a white beater this time.  He had closed everything down and flicked on the air conditioner, not up to roasting his ass off today.  He grinned at the dogs, shaking his head and got his own bottle of water, leaning against the opposite counter, and downing it in one long swallow. 


“Yeah, but nothing I can’t handle.” She replied with a smile and downed the rest of her water, sighing with relief, and leaned further against the counter.  “How was your workout?  You didn’t hurt your knee further, did ya?” She asked casually, peering over at him with a raised eyebrow, and walked over to throw the bottle in the recycling bin.


Mark shook his head, grinning broadly.  “Nope.  It’s on the mend, doc.  Thanks fer askin’.” He tossed his own bottle in the bin, reaching out to lightly swipe her arm with his finger.  “You look like you could use a nice cool swim…” He suggested thoughtfully.  “I got a canvas that’ll stretch over the pool if you feel like divin’ in.”


“A canvas?  Whatever happened to just swimming?” She laughed softly and looked down at his finger, which was stroking her arm lightly, and then back up into his eyes.  “Tell ya what, I’ll go for that swim that you think I need so badly if you join me.” She was going to compromise with him and placed her hands on her hips when he declined.  “Fine, how bout this?  You play me in a game of pool.  I lose, I’ll jump in the pool butt naked.  If I win, you have to jump in that pool butt naked.  Deal?”


“The canvas, smartass,” Mark paused with a growl.  “Will shade the pool so the sun don’t fry yer brain.” He lightly tapped a finger against her forehead.  Mark studied her thoughtfully, arching an eyebrow.  “I don’t know.  That seems pretty loaded.  I mean, yer such a damned good player ‘n all.” He drawled, remembering what she had told him about her tournaments.  “But I never could resist a challenge so…” He paused, gesturing towards the pool room.  “Ladies first.”


“Wow, you do have more balls than brains.” She commented, giggling wickedly, and practically sprinted into the pool room when he growled after her.  She walked over to the pool sticks, picking out one that suited her, and nodded when she weighed the heft.  “I got mine.  I’ll be a good sport and let you break, sweetness.” She winked at him and bit her bottom lip, trying to suppress her laughter.


Mark rolled his eyes, selecting his own stick before breaking.  He shook his head, flexing his fingers.  “Yer shot.” He grunted, not about to blame anything on the fact that he hadn’t played in a few years, groaning when she snickered at him.  “You lil wench…”


“I didn’t say a damned thing!” She defended herself, amusement clearly shining in her eyes, and practically skipped over to the table.  She surveyed the balls carefully, sucking her cheeks in, and finally nodded before calling her first shot, sinking it with ease.  She splayed her fingers out on the table, leaning against the edge, putting the stick behind her, and made another perfect shot, grinning from ear to ear.  “This is so much fun!” She missed her next shot and sighed as she gave Mark the room to shoot.  “Your turn, master.” She mocked.


Mark pretty much knew he was licked and sighed, studying the table.  He made his first shot alright then ended up skipping a ball off the table, his eyes locked on Jalyse as she stretched.  “Fuck me…” He groaned, having a sinking feeling he was going to be skinny dipping in a little while.


“Not yet, sweetness.” She winked at him with a knowing smirk on her face, her teal eyes gleaming wickedly, and walked over.  She bent down, taking her sweet time in doing so, and picked the ball up before turning around and placing it back on the table.  She surveyed the table once more before making two shots.  One right after the other.  She finally scratched and dropped her head forward.  “Fuck.”


Mark sighed dramatically.  “You poor thing…” He drawled, green eyes glittering.  He moved around the table, bending down and lined up his shot.  He grinned when he made it, then another.  “Oh Hell!” He groaned, nailing the black ball, watching as it rolled toward a corner pocket.  The black ball was teetering on the edge, causing Jalyse to sigh, and slowly walked over since Mark missed his next shot.  She decided to keep as far away from the eight ball as possible and sank two more balls in.  She missed on the third try and winced when her ball tapped the eight ball, but it didn’t go in, causing her to sigh a breath of relief.  Mark groaned again, ignoring the grin on her face before taking his next shot, holding his breath.  He released it when he made the shot.  “First time a game of pool ever had me sweatin’ bullets.” He joked, winking at her.  “Damn it!  Woman yer distractin’ me!” He growled, raking a hand through his hair before laughing at himself.


“How am I distracting you?  I’m just standing here waiting for my next shot and to kick your ass so I can watch your cute ass skinny dip.” She giggled when he growled at her again, leaning against the stick, and raised an eyebrow up at him, wondering what he was going to do now.  She only had one more ball left to knock in and the eight, which would be a piece of cake.


Mark sighed, knowing he wasn’t going to make it and finally just tapped his ball, hitting hers so it was right next to the eight.  “Yer shot, darlin’.” He said, straightening up and glanced at her.


“You jag off!” She gasped in shock, not believing he just did that, and suddenly got an idea in her head.  She smirked up at him.  “Alright, I see how it is now.” Walking over, Jalyse leaned over the table so he could clearly see down her top before jabbing the edge of the stick into the table, causing the ball to pop up, and landed right in the pocket, not even touching the eight ball.  She raised an eyebrow up at him and smirked devilishly when she seen the shocked look on his face. 


“Call yer pocket.” Mark growled, not amused anymore, arching an eyebrow, looking resigned to his fate.


“Oh this is too good…” She giggled wickedly, seeing the exasperated look in his eyes, and tapped her chin in thought.  She wasn’t going to go for the pocket the ball was practically ready to fall into.  Instead, she stood right in front of him, her ass sticking out, and slid her stick over the part between her thumb and forefinger before clearing her throat.  “Corner pocket.” She called out.  It was a long shot as she hit it and sighed when she missed.  “Damn it, you’re turn.”


Mark wasn’t even paying attention to the game anymore, knowing she was purposely distracting him, but what a distraction!  “Hmm…?” Mark shook his head and made his shot, not minding when he missed and just stood back, shaking his head.  ‘Damn woman…’ He thought, his green eyes fastened on her.


“What’s the matter, sweetness?” She asked innocently, batting her eyelashes at him, and giggled softly when he growled.  “You know, you really should stop growling so much before you rupture your vocal cords.” She advised in a teasing voice and laughed when he shot a glare at her.  She knew she was distracting him, which would make this victory all the more thrilling before hitting the ball.  She sighed when it barely teetered on the edge.  She’d hit it too soft.  “Damn it!”


Mark slapped a hand to his forehead, running it down his face groaning.  This was beginning to kill him.  He sighed inwardly before eyeing the table.  He then proceeded to sink the rest of his balls, but one and groaned.  So close yet so far.  He glanced at her, wondering if this missing streak would continue and had to smirk.


She’d given him enough chances and went in for the kill.  “Corner pocket.” She called out and tapped her ball in, smirking when it went in, and the cue ball didn’t.  She slowly stood up to her full height, placing the stick against the wall, and placed her hands on her hips.  That smirk couldn’t be wiped from her lips even if she tried to face it as she grinned.  “I believe its time for you to strip, big boy.” She stated, giggling wickedly, her teal eyes gleaming with delight.


Laying down his stick on the table, Mark shook his head and headed out towards the pool, her behind him giggling still.  Mark chuckled softly, staring at the water before raising the canvas, not about to emerge looking like a tomato.  “You sure yer wantin’ to see my old ass?” He asked, glancing back at her.


“Mark, if you don’t want to strip, you don’t have to, but then I’ll have to start calling you a chickenshit.” She smirked back at him, leaning against the doorway, and couldn’t help but smile when Hades joined her at her side.  She bent down, petting him, and started cooing.  “That’s right, your daddy is just one big chickenshit isn’t he?”


Mark chuckled, shaking his head.  He took his own sweet time in unbuttoning his shorts, not sliding them down yet.  He pulled his beater off, tossing it into a lounge chair and stared at the pool.  It actually looked quite inviting.  Mark didn’t think twice, just slid down his shorts and dived in.  A sigh of relief came from his lips from what the cool water provided from the sweltering heat.


“Smart man.” Jalyse giggled back at him and proceeded to take all of his clothes, including his shoes, and walked into the house with them, putting them in the laundry room before walking back out.  She smirked when he started growling and ranting at her, rolling her eyes.  “Now, now is that ANY way to talk to your guest?” She chided him playfully and proceeded to lay on a lounge chair that was in the shade, thanks to the canvas, and crossed her legs while staring down at him.  Damn did he have a magnificent body!  Chiseled from head to toe, nothing about that man was fattening and it made her hungry.  Not for food either.


Mark shook his head and started swimming from one end of the pool to the other, his long strokes cutting through the water.  Finally, he swam over to the edge of the pool and pulled himself out, towering over her, water dripping off of his naked body.  “Yer comin’ in, Jalyse.” He grinned, gently pulling her up from the chair.  He wrapped his arms around her firmly before dropping back into the water.


Jalyse screamed out as they both plundered into the water, causing him to release her, and came up sputtering.  She blinked the water out of her eyes and glared at him, shaking her head, and growled, “You’re a DEAD MAN!” She then tackled him in the water, dunking his head underneath.  Mark grabbed her by the arm and pulled her down under with him.  Glad he hadn’t put those strong chemicals back in the water or else his eyes would probably be burning by now since he was watching her.  He grinned at the look on her face.  Pulling her against him, he kissed her, enjoying the contact.  Jalyse wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him back, and broke it as she resurfaced.  Sighing, she breathed in the air, and shook her head when Mark came up beside her.  “This is so not fair.  I won that game.” She groaned out, her arms instantly going around his neck.  “You are truly evil.”


“I can be.” Mark admitted, holding her against him.  His gaze slowly moved down to her tank top and shorts, smirking and looked back up at her.  “You won the game and I fulfilled my end of the deal.  I dived in naked, darlin’…” He kissed the top of her head.  “But I never agreed to not drag you in.”


“This makes me repeat myself.  You’re evil.” She stated once more, shaking her head back at him, and sighed as they both floated in the water. 


Jalyse got a really evil idea as she pushed away from him and climbed out of the pool.  Stripping out of her shorts and tank top, her body was left clad in her purple lace bra and panties before winking at him, and dived back in.  Loving how the cool water surrounded her and soaked her body.  Mark smirked wickedly.  He went under and swam past her, their bodies brushing together before swimming to the opposite end of the pool. 


He came up and draped his arms along the edge, watching her.  Jalyse smirked as she shook her head before diving under water, doing a flip in a circle before resurfacing, shaking her head and ran her fingers through her hair.  Her streaks were fading and she knew she’d have to get them redone soon, but it would have to wait until she left here.  She sighed and swam over to him, running her finger down his chest before diving under water and pushed off the siding, swimming over to the opposite side.  Two could play that game.


Groaning, Mark glanced down and rolled his eyes.  “Chair…tables…couches…beds…no, not beds.” He muttered, his voice too low for her to hear, trying to think of anything besides her beautiful body at the moment.


“Hey daydreamer!” She called out to him, seeing he was deep in thought, and smirked as she stood outside of the pool, her bra and panties clinging to her every curve, and had her hands on her hips.  “Deep in thought about something?” She asked casually and laughed, walking over to start ringing her clothes out of the excess water.


“Not really.” Mark replied, grateful that his problem had disappeared, mostly, and folded his arms on the ledge.  He rested his chin on them and watched her, his eyes taking in every curve.  “Done already?” He asked.


“No.” She laughed in response and dived back in the water, swimming over to him.  Running her hands up his chest, she raked her nails down his flesh tenderly, causing him to growl, and grinned before wrapping her arms around his neck.  “I’m not done until you are, but I was wondering something.”


Mark sighed, hoping she wasn’t about to ask for another pool game because he didn’t think his ego could take another bruising.  He draped his arms over her shoulders, lightly stroking her back.  “What’s on yer mind, Jalyse?”


“Did you know what you wanted for lunch or even dinner because I gotta tell you.  After wrestling around with your dogs, playing pool, and now this, I’m famished.” Her teal eyes twinkled up at him and tapped his nose before kissing his lips softly.  “Don’t worry, I’m not asking you for another game of pool.” She laughed when he stared at her in shock and shook her head.  “You’re easy to read, Mark.”


Mark arched an eyebrow, a devilish smirk on his lips.  “You can have whatever ya want, darlin’.” He drawled, bending down to nuzzle her neck lightly.  “I’m not hungry fer food…”


“Oh really?” She purred back at him, wrapping her arms around his neck, and sighed as she closed her eyes.  The feeling of his lips, tongue and goatee on her flesh was enough to drive her insane, but she knew they couldn’t do this yet.  “Mark, I was talking about real food…” She gently pushed him away with that same smirk on her lips, pressed her forehead to his, and entwined their fingers together.  Damn, this was getting harder and harder to resist him, especially when he was naked.


Nodding in understanding, Mark stared back at her, loving the color of her eyes.  “I know what you were talkin’ bout.” He kissed her briefly.  “Go find yerself somethin’ to eat, darlin’.  I’m just gonna swim for a bit longer.”


“You don’t want to come with me?” She asked softly, a frown appearing on her face, and sighed heavily, knowing he had to cool off from the workout and whatnot.  “You take your time, sweetness.” She assured him and smiled, kissing him softly before swimming over to the ladder and stepped out of the pool.  She walked over to her clothes and retrieved them, laughing when Hades followed her, and shook her head, walking into the house.  It was ice cold now from the air conditioner.  “Damn!”


Mark groaned the minute she was inside and dived under the water, swimming to the bottom of the pool.  He stayed down there until he couldn’t go without air any longer, reluctantly surfacing.  “Christ almighty…” He muttered, pulling himself out of the pool.  He shook his head, sending water slinging from his hair before wringing it out.  Using his shirt, Mark dried off before pulling on his shorts that Jalyse forgot to grab, and walked inside as well.


Chapter 21


Mark came downstairs after taking a half an hour nap or at least making the attempt.  Actually, he’d just laid there and daydreamed.  It was weird having a woman in the house who actually LIKED being there.  At least he hoped Jalyse liked being there.  He had changed into blue jeans and a denim vest, braiding his hair deftly.  Suddenly, he remembered she was leaving at the end of the month.  He firmly pushed that thought out of his head and went down to see what she was up to.


Jalyse was sitting at the kitchen table; her foot propped up on it, and was listening to some soft country music.  She’d changed into a pair of black jeans with a blood red tank top.  She was reading a magazine that she’d found and raised a curious eyebrow by the article, smirking when Mark walked in the kitchen.  The smell of baked potatoes, corn and vegetables wavered in the air.  She never lowered the magazine as she casually asked, “So, what exactly is a sacrifice, oh Lord of Darkness?” She tried so hard not to laugh.


Arching an eyebrow, Mark leaned in the doorway, trying not to think about how good that food smelled.  “Why the Hell are you askin’ me that?” He asked, watching her, and shook his head.  “Go ahead, just laugh.”


Jalyse burst out laughing as she finally lowered the magazine which was a wrestling one, and pounded on the table.  She was holding her stomach and tears were starting to form in her eyes, shaking her head, and finally calmed down.  “I’m really sorry.  I don’t mean to laugh, but…” She started laughing again and leaned back against the chair before finally keeling over in it, laughing harder.


Mark groaned, not even wanting to know where she’d found that at.  He sighed, walking over to help her up, and leaned against the wall as he watched her slump back down on the floor.  He picked up the magazine and flicked through it, rolling his eyes at the article.  “Yer a wench.” He informed her, grinning slightly.


“So I’ve heard.” She retorted, finally standing up, and shook her head before walking over to the stove, checking on her baked potatoes and vegetables before turning around to face him.  “So, are you going to answer my question or keep me in suspense?”


Mark smirked, righting the chair and sitting down on it, sort of in a relaxed sprawl.  He studied her thoughtfully, stroking his chin.  “I’ll just show you.” He finally decided.  “After dinner, you can go through my tapes and see fer yerself.”


“Fair enough.” She sighed exasperatedly and laughed softly before poking the potatoes again with a fork, nodding, and pulled them out of the oven. 


The dinner was nice and peaceful, consisting of steaks, baked potatoes, vegetables that were drenched in cheese, and corn.  Jalyse stood up from the table after Mark was finished and started cleaning up the mess, putting leftovers in containers and put them in the fridge.  She then wrapped the steaks and potatoes in tin foil, knowing they’d be good to eat tomorrow.  Then, she started on the dishes.  Mark joined her at the sink, drying the dishes and putting them away as she handed them to him.  They worked in amicable silence, the only sound coming from the radio.  Afterwards, he took her into his study, which also served as his private den, and pointed to the far wall.  It revealed a huge glass cabinet with hundreds of tapes, all neatly labeled.


“Which one has those sacrifices on them?” She asked and smiled when he pointed to the right ones, instantly pulling them out, and carried them over to him.  Jalyse frowned when she seen a worried look on Mark’s face and in his eyes, kissing his lips softly.  “I’m not Journey, remember that.” She said before picking them back up and walked out of the den, wanting to watch them in the living room.


It wasn’t exactly her not liking wrestling that bothered Mark.  It was what was on them tapes that bothered him.  Any of the others he wouldn’t have really minded.  These ones however, he did.  He sighed, bracing himself and followed her.  He sat on one of the couches, laying on it to watch with her incase she had any questions, which he knew she would.


“You need to lighten up.” Jalyse chided him and shook her head, walking over to the VCR, and popped the first tape in after putting the dates in order. 


She pressed play and walked back over to sit on the couch, having the remote in hand, and started watching them.  Her eyes widened somewhat when it finally came to his part and felt herself drawn instantly to his presence.  His physical dominance.  His character made her shiver as she turned the volume up, hearing something about a Ministry of Darkness and started asking questions.  Mark explained to her what it consisted of, what it was about, and pointed out the names of the guys who were in it.  Then it came to the part where this guy named Mideon was sacrificed and looked like his wrists had really been cut.  Mark assured her he was alive and well, which made Jalyse breathe a sigh of relief because it looked very real to her on the tape. 


“So you two feuded…” She said thoughtfully when she seen Steve appear on the television screen, tapping her chin.  They finally came to something called a Black Wedding and Jalyse raised an eyebrow as she watched his Ministry of Darkness carry this screaming girl, that was strapped to what looked like a T with an X through it on the bottom, down to the ring.  She knew it was scripted, but was dumbfounded.  “So the Undertaker was almost married.” She sounded almost amused.


“Actually, it was part of a storyline with her father.  He was playing games with Steve and so was I…” Mark smirked slightly.  “Scripted or not, I’d never marry Stephanie.  Nice girl, but she’s got a mouth on her that don’t quit.” He grinned.  “Maybe if that persona is ever brought back completely, I’ll just haul yer ass down to the ring.” He teased.


Jalyse choked on the glass of water she was sipping out of that she’d gotten before settling down to watch these tapes, coughing as she patted her chest with her hand, and set it down.  Her eyes watered from the liquid going down the wrong tube, not expecting Mark to say that.  She finally got her breathing under control as she coughed out more and finally sputtered out, “W-What?” She blinked rapidly at him, shock evident in her eyes and voice, and raked a hand through her hair as she started coughing a little more.  “Damn water…”


Mark smirked, now sitting up, his arms resting on his knees as he stared at her, his green eyes gleaming wickedly.  “I said, Jalyse, next time, I’ll just take you out to the ring, strapped down, and marry you.” He repeated, chuckling slightly.


“Oh, you’re just fuckin’ hilarious there, Deadman.” She rolled her eyes and started laughing, though it sounded nervous.  She cleared her throat and started playing the tape again, watching the wedding proceed, and snorted when the guy named Paul said something about his offspring.  “Good Lord…” She shook her head and couldn’t help, but sigh with relief when she seen Steve break up the Black Wedding.  “Damn, you looked pissed.” She commented, seeing the look on Mark’s face and eyes on the television.


“I was.” Mark replied casually.  “Steve had pulled one of his little pranks earlier in the dressing room and I wasn’t thrilled with seein’ him again so soon.” He explained, raking a hand through his hair, watching her again.  “So, what do you think so far?”


“Dark and twisted.” She replied, her eyes never leaving the screen, and paused it when the Black Wedding finished before staring over at him, her teal eyes glimmering.  “But I love it.  Though that slitting wrists segment kinda threw me for a loop and then the wedding, but it was a great persona.  Something different that’s for sure.  You played it well, Mark.”


Mark shrugged indifferently.  “Wasn’t that hard to do, darlin’.  A gimmick is pretty much throwin’ shit at a wall and whatever sticks works.  Best gimmicks are the ones that are sort of close to home if ya know what I mean.  Kinda like actin’ out a fantasy or a dream.  Messed up ain’t it?”


“So I was right in saying that you were evil.” She giggled and shook her head, setting the remote down on the table, and stood up, walking into the kitchen to get another glass of water.  He’d really shocked her by saying he wanted to carry her down to the ring and marry her.  Jalyse shook her head, knowing he was kidding with her, and raked a hand through her hair, downing the first glass before filling it back up.  She then walked back into the living room and sat down on the couch, getting comfortable again.


Mark watched her curiously, studying her thoughtfully.  “Yer lookin’ a little pale.” He finally said, pointing out the obvious.  “What’s on yer mind, Jalyse?”


“I do not look pale!” She protested, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and raised an eyebrow up at him.  “I resent that remark.” She shook her head before laying down on the couch, staring up at the ceiling, and sighed as she rested her hands on her stomach.


Arching an eyebrow back, Mark moved to sit on the couch with her, resting her feet on his lap.  “Yes…you do.  Are you feelin’ alright?” He asked softly, leaning over to press the back of his hand against her forehead.


“Okay, so maybe you knocked me for a loop with the whole carrying me down to the ring and marrying me thing.” She admitted, biting her bottom lip, and closed her eyes as she let out a shaky breath, laughing softly.  “I know you were only kidding so don’t worry your pretty head off about me, Mark.”


Mark gently ran a hand down the side of her face, looking somewhat amused.  “Who said I was kiddin’?” He murmured, thinking right now it wasn’t actually that bad of an idea.  He smirked, liking the idea of seeing her gorgeous form strapped to his symbol.


Jalyse didn’t know what to think or feel right now.  Did she like him?  Yes.  Did she want to be with him?  Yes.  Did she love him?  She wasn’t sure.  “Stop messing around, Mark.” She chided him playfully with a laugh, once again sounding nervous, and swallowed hard before leaning over to take a sip of her water.  She actually gulped it down and laid back on the couch, raking a hand through her hair.


Mark chuckled, patting her leg reassuringly.  “Calm down, darlin’.  I won’t cart yer ass anywhere.” He promised, eyes twinkling mischievously.  “Unless ya ask me too of course.” He glanced at the television.  “Ya done watchin’ those tapes?” He asked, changing the subject.


“Yeah, I’ve seen all I need to.” She smiled softly back up at him, stroking his arm with her hand soothingly, her hair splayed all over, and sighed.  “Thank you for trusting in me enough to show me those.” She slowly stood up from the couch and walked over, rewinding the tape, and then took it out before handing them to him.  “Here you go.”


Mark stood up and slowly took the tape, his fingers brushing against hers.  “Hope they didn’t bother you too much.” He joked, gathering up the rest of them and carried them back to his study.  He took his time in putting them back, sighing as he studied the tapes, and shook his head.  Thinking he had probably just scared the Hell out of her with his comment.


Jalyse had to admit that the marriage comment shocked her, but she wasn’t about to let it bother her.  She wanted to enjoy the rest of her time with Mark and would do it even if it killed her.  She was leaving at the end of the month, but she pushed those thoughts aside as she stood up from the couch.  She knew he was putting the tapes away and gave him his space, not wanting to be a nuisance, and walked into the kitchen.  She smiled when she heard thunder rumbling in the distance and couldn’t resist it when a drop of rain landed on the patio outside.  She immediately opened the door, closing it behind her, and walked down the steps, not bothered by the rain.  She loved it.  Loved it cascading down her body as it began pouring, and stood in the field, seeing the sky changing rapidly.


Mark sighed when he heard the thunder and headed outside, needing to go check on his few horses, knowing they got skittish.  He spotted Jalyse out in the backyard on his way out to the meadow, his long legs crossing ground quickly.  He made his way to the one and only barn he kept, having a soft spot for horses.  Though he knew once he was back on the road, he was going to either have to hire someone to tend to them or sell them.  He sighed, not wanting to think about that because it made him remember that Jalyse would be leaving and he didn’t want to think about that either.  He groaned when he entered the barn, shaking water off of himself, and bolted the back doors shut, tending to what he had to before leaning in the main entrance, watching the lightening flash across the sky.


The rain poured harder on her as Jalyse just spread her arms out and closed her eyes, allowing it to completely drench her.  The lightening and thunder didn’t bother her because she found storms to be enchanting and beautiful, even though they could be deadly at the same time.  She had a smile on her face as she started spinning around in circles and finally stopped.  Opening her eyes, Jalyse watched the sky; her teal eyes taking in the blackness it suddenly turned, and was entranced instantly.  The way the clouds swirled around as it rained harder made her heart skip a beat as little water droplets fell from her eyes, causing her to blink them back out. 


Mark frowned when he seen the sky and instantly started towards the house, shaking his head when he seen Jalyse staring up at the sky.  He glanced up, seeing the black clouds beginning to move in swirls, having a good idea what was next, and started running.  “Hades, Pain, Panic inside!” He yelled.  “Damn woman…” He groaned, seeing she hadn’t moved yet.


Jalyse was completely captivated by what she saw, never having seen anything so beautiful, yet deadly at the same time.  She felt the wind starting to pick up and shook her head a little, a smile on her face while her teal eyes gleamed.  She slowly started blinking when she seen the clouds swirling more vividly and tilted her head to the side.  She wasn’t stupid.  It was a tornado and even though she knew she should run, Jalyse found herself stuck to the ground.  It was almost as if a force field was keeping her planted in the grass and all she could do was stand there and watch in amazement.


Chapter 22


Mark frowned, now having to fight the wind to get to her.  “JALYSE, MOVE IT!” He shouted, growling when she didn’t budge.  With little difficulty, Mark stood in front of her, scooping her up into his arms, and tossed her over his shoulder.  “Do you have a death wish?” He demanded, now heading towards the house, grunting and pulling her down against his chest when hail started beating down on them.  He hunched over to protect her from the fist sized balls of ice.  “Damn it!”


Jalyse slowly blinked, coming out of the trance she was in, and looked up at Mark as the hail started pounding down around them.  She immediately started running, fighting the wind to get to the house, and never released Mark’s hand.  She’d grabbed it and was pulling him with her, grunting since he was a heavy son of a bitch.  “Mark, come on!” She shouted at him, finally getting up the stairs, and rushed over to the door as fast as the wind would allow her.  With all the strength she could muster up, Jalyse pulled the sliding glass door open and stumbled inside.  Mark followed and she groaned when he landed on top of her.  The velocity of the wind had forced his body to topple on her.  “Damn it!”


Mark blinked, getting off of her, and shook his head, bending down to pull her up.  The dogs jumped around them, whining nervously.  Mark rubbed the top of his head, shaking out the cobwebs.  Hail hurt like a bitch.  He glanced outside, groaning when he seen a tornado touch down.  “To the basement.” He ordered in a grunt, leading her towards the basement door, which blended perfectly with the wall.  He touched a spring in the panel to open it, ushering her to go first, the dogs scampering down instantly.


Jalyse didn’t waste a second as she started down the stairs, drenched from head to toe from the rain, and gasped when she slipped on a step, holding onto the bar for dear life.  She was trembling, knowing she’d been close to having her life ended by Mother Nature, and shook herself.  Not only that, but Mark wasn’t exactly a light man.  She finally managed to make it down there and seen the room had no windows with a small couch and a radio on the table.  She seen the dogs whining and walked over to them, petting their heads, her tears mixing with the rain that was still sliding off her body.  “Shhh…”


Mark frowned, hearing what sounded like a train whistle over their heads and knew Mother Nature was about to let all Hell loose.  He knew the dogs would fend for themselves and grabbed Jalyse by the hand, leading her over to a corner.  “Sit down.” He whispered, the basement floor covered in practical carpeting so at least she wouldn’t be on hard concrete.  He then picked up the couch and moved it so it was covering her, providing some sort of shelter incase the ranch wound up demolished.  Though, he doubted it.  Tornados had come before and always his house remained intact, damaged heavily sometimes, but still standing.  He sat down beside her, too big to fit with her, and waited, reaching out to brush away her tears.  “Calm down, darlin’.” He said over the whistling.


“Mark please, come down here with me.” She pleaded with him, the tears streaming down her cheeks, and when he didn’t listen, she narrowed her eyes.  She managed to pull him down with her under the couch, him laying on top of her, and buried her face in his chest, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist.  Her entire body was trembling from head to toe as she closed her eyes tightly shut.  The whistling sound was making her nerves heighten as she clutched him tighter.


He held himself up on his elbows so he didn’t squash her with his definitely heavier body.  He stared down at her, knowing she was terrified and wished there was something he could do to help her.  In truth, he was nervous as Hell as well.  This had come on so damned quickly and strong it was unnerving.  Mark finally lifted her face up with his fingers and gently kissed her.  Jalyse instantly wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him back, and held onto him for dear life.  Her entire body was trembling, soaked from the rain, and yet, she didn’t feel cold.  Mark was warming her up quickly as she entangled her fingers in his hair, needing the comfort as much as he did.  When he traced her lips with his tongue, she immediately opened her mouth, granting him access, and deepened the kiss more.  If they were going to die in this storm then by god, she wasn’t going to die without feeling this man’s touch and lips on her.


Mark couldn’t hear anything over the pounding in his ears.  What had started out as a way of distracting Jalyse had quickly turned into a distraction for himself.  He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her off the floor so she was pressed against him, never breaking the kiss.  Afraid if they parted for air, the moment would be over.  Permanently.  Her heart was pounding so hard and fast in her chest, she thought for sure it was going to explode at any given moment.  Jalyse pressed herself against him as he sat back, leaning against the wall, the couch still over them, never breaking the kiss, and straddled his lap.  Her hands were clutching his shirt before wrapping her arms around his neck again.  She didn’t want to breathe, didn’t want to come up for air.  Just wanted to feel his lips on hers until the end of time as she began massaging the back of his neck.  They were both distracting each other from the storm and Jalyse couldn’t think of a better way.


Placing his hands on her hips, Mark kneaded her flesh gently, finally moving his kisses to her neck, groaning when she imitated him.  Mark ran one hand up her back slowly, the other moving to tangle itself in her hair, licking and nipping her wet silky skin.  Groaning when he felt her shift on him, he arched his hips up against her without even thinking.  Jalyse arched her body against him while trailing fire ridden kisses down his neck, running her hands down his muscular shirt covered chest, and moved to the side.  She loved how strong his neck was and started tracing her tongue over the tattoo that went up his neck and shoulder.  She smiled when he shivered beneath her and scooted on him further, wanting to get as close to him as she could.  The tornado was the absolute last thing on her mind and she was pretty certain it wasn’t on Mark’s either.


Mark groaned when Hades, Pain and Panic plowed into them, apparently scared shitless of the storm.  “DAMN DOGS!” He roared, shoving them away when they tried scrambling over Jalyse.  He grunted, feeling Pain’s paws on him.  “Yer gettin’ starved, fat ass.” He grunted, green eyes widening when he heard the ranch give a terrifying lurch.


Jalyse was laughing at first, due to the dogs plowing into them, but it quickly died down when she felt the ranch lurch.  “Mark…” She hesitantly whispered out, her voice holding a terrified tone, and screamed out when she heard glass breaking, clinging to him for dear life.  Her entire body was trembling from head to toe, scared to death, and shook her head as she covered her ears.  “I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die…”


Mark moved so he was laying over her again, wrapping his arms around her head.  “Yer not gonna die!” He shouted over the noise, gasping when the wind suddenly whipped around them, his ranch finally losing the battle.  ‘Good thing this place is insured…’ He thought grimly, closing his eyes, and pressed his forehead against hers, the dogs cowering around them.


Jalyse let out another scream as she wrapped her arms tightly around his neck, clinging to him, and felt the tears spill down her cheeks.  She couldn’t believe this was happening.  This beautiful ranch was getting ripped apart and that made her cry harder.  She seen Hades in the corner and called him over, cuddling close to him, but never released Mark as the dogs joined them under the couch.  “Mark, I’m sorry…” She whispered, pressing her forehead to his chest, and squeezed her eyes tightly shut as the house started racketing.


“Don’t be.” Mark whispered back gruffly.  Silence reigned between them though the forces of nature were sure as Hell making themselves known, wailing like a banshee around them.  Just as soon as it started, it stopped just as suddenly.  Mark slowly raised his head, tilting it back to look at the once again beautiful sky and sighed, moving off of her, reaching down to gently stroke her arms.  “It’s over, darlin.’”


Jalyse couldn’t move.  She was too shaken up as she clung to him like her life depended on it.  Her hands clutched the front of his shirt so hard, her knuckles had turned ghostly white.  Her entire body was trembling against him as the tears kept flowing down her cheeks.  This had literally scared the shit out of her as Hades whimpered, nudging her, but Jalyse couldn’t move.  She’d heard what Mark said, but her body was frozen solid and she couldn’t speak either.


Mark sighed, gently pulling her up into his arms, getting to his feet, and cradled her against him.  He held her like a bride being carried over the threshold, one arm under her knees, the other wrapped around her back.  He looked around the basement, finding it littered with debris and was grateful they’d been under the couch or else they could’ve been seriously injured.  Jalyse wrapped her arms around his neck as she shook more.  She sniffled trying to calm herself down, but was having a hard time doing so.  As he held her like this, Jalyse felt safe, but also scared to death because she knew what could’ve happened had he not been there to save her.  She thought it was just a normal thunderstorm, but she’d been sadly mistaken.  She shivered at the thought of what could’ve happened and started crying harder, holding onto him even tighter, and buried her face in the crook of his neck.  She was thankful they were alive.


“I’m going to put ya down now, darlin’.” Mark said gently, using one hand to flip the couch back over.  “Jalyse, ya gotta let go, honey.  I need to find a way outta this basement.  The stairs were ripped up.” He gently pried her off of him and lowered her to the ground, smiling slightly when Hades jumped up on the couch with her.  “Good boy…” He murmured, turning to survey the damage again.


Jalyse slowly blinked, feeling Hades beside her, and his paw on her arm, causing her to look at him with tears streaming down her cheeks.  She didn’t budge when he licked her tears away and sniffled, raking a hand through her hair, and looked around the devastation.  “Christ…” She whispered to herself and felt her heart break for Mark.  This was his beautiful ranch and it’d been destroyed as she started crying silently harder.  Hades whined as she nudged her face with his nose and she wrapped her arms around him, burying her face in his fur.


Mark sighed heavily, raking a hand through his hair.  He finally picked up what looked like it might’ve been a chair and carried it over to the wall, setting it down.  He then proceeded to move a part of his leather couch, the only piece he could find, and stacked that on top of the possible chair leftover.  Testing its sturdiness, Mark finally climbed on them, his height to his advantage as he grabbed the edge of the basement and pulled himself up.  “Jalyse, you want to try comin’ up this way or not?” He asked gently.


Slowly pulling away from Hades, Jalyse looked up at him, seeing how he got out of the basement, and bit her bottom lip before finally nodding.  She walked over to the couch and jumped up on it before pulling herself up.  She stumbled to her feet, still soaked from the rain.  “What about the dogs?” She asked suddenly, concern filling her eyes as she looked back at him.


“We’ll get them out darlin’.” He promised, wrapping an arm around her waist to support her.  Mark turned around, his breath catching in his throat when he seen the damage.  Bits and pieces of his motorcycles were scattered about, the rest only god knows where, furniture destroyed.  Parts of the house laid about the property like it was some toy a giant child had dissembled and forgot to put back together.  “Holy Hell…” He murmured, his own knees suddenly giving out on him.


“Mark!” Jalyse gasped, not expecting him to collapse, and started crying harder when she seen his motorcycles.  Everything was destroyed.  The house was demolished, including her things.  She held onto him, seeing he had dropped to one knee, and wrapped her arms around his waist.  “Why…?” She could only ask that, say that one word, and shook her head in disbelief by how much destruction the tornado had caused.  What had Mark done to deserve this?  That made her cry harder.


Mark shook his head, taking a deep fortifying breath.  “It can all be replaced, darlin’.” He said finally, his voice low as he held her against him.  “The important thing is we’re alright.” He kissed the top of her head before getting to his feet.  “Let’s find a way to get them mutts’ outta there before they go haywire.” He suggested, needing to distract himself.


Jalyse could only nod and followed him, biting her bottom lip, and suddenly got an idea.  “Mark, over here!” She called, already running over to what she’d seen, and raked a hand through her hair.  “If you can lift this, with my help, we could put this down there and the dogs could walk up it.  It’s sturdy enough.” She explained at his cocked eyebrow expression and planted her hands on her hips.  “Don’t give me that look!  I’m only trying to help!”


Mark crouched down beside it, running a thoughtful hand through his hair.  “We can try, but it’ll be kinda steep for’em.” He said finally.  He picked it up, shaking his head when she got on the other side.  “I can get it.” Mark smiled slightly when she growled at him and together, they carried it over towards the basement.  Carefully, they lowered it to the basement floor.  “C’mon boys.” He coaxed, seeing the dogs eyeing it warily.  “Jalyse, call Hades.  Pain and Panic will follow.”


Nodding, Jalyse looked down at Hades and nodded back at him as she whistled.  “Come on, Hades!” She called to him and smiled when he slowly started up the panel they’d found.  “That’s it, come on boy.  You’re doing great.” She cooed to him as if he was her child or something, down on her knees now, and nodded when Pain and Panic followed.  “That’s it, come on boys.  You’ll get a nice treat after this.” She grinned and looked over at Mark, who was shaking his head in amazement.  “What?”


“Not a thing, darlin’.” Mark replied, grinning at her before going to search out the remains.  He groaned when he realized they had no way of getting the Hell out of there besides on foot and felt for his cell phone.  He flinched when it felt it in his back pocket, smashed all to Hell.  “Fuck me runnin’…”


Jalyse smiled when she finally got the dogs and hugged Hades before the other two.  Hades was her favorite and she wasn’t ashamed to admit it as she kissed the top of his head before standing up.  She felt her eyes widen when red and blue lights flashed in front of the house and knew it was the police with help arriving.  She quickly darted over to Mark, who was still surveying his smashed phone, and grabbed his arm tightly.  “Mark, the cops are here.” She whispered to him, knowing he hadn’t noticed the lights.


Mark blinked, looking up and nodded.  He kissed the top of her head before walking over to them, speaking in low tones.  Finally, he looked back at Jalyse and the dogs, blinking before resuming talking to them.  After what appeared like a heated argument that was finally settled, Mark whipped out his wallet.  He then walked back over to her, looking grim.  “They weren’t too keen on havin’ the dogs ridin’ with us.” He explained.  “We’re gonna be taken to a hotel, is that alright?”


“Yeah…” She whispered softly before turning around and wrapped her arms around herself.


Tears were running down her face again as she closed her eyes, trying to make them stop, but it wasn’t happening.  Everything had been destroyed, his beautiful motorcycles, his tapes, everything.  She felt horrible for him.  Not to mention the fact that all of HER clothes and belongings had been destroyed as well.  Her identity and everything had been in the house when the tornado hit.  Why hadn’t she grabbed them?  Jalyse sighed as she finally set her eyes on the pond that was down a ways and remembered the night they swam in it, knowing it would never happen again and that broke her heart.


Mark wrapped his arms around her waist, seeming to know what she was thinking.  “It can all be replaced, Jalyse.” He whispered.  “I know it’s not the same as yer old things, but at least yer safe and that’s what matters the most to me.” He took her hand and gently guided her to the car, ignoring the miffed looks on the officer’s faces when the dogs hopped in.


Jalyse just slid inside the car, smiling when Hades instantly nudged her, and started petting him.  She was happy that the dogs were with them safe and sound.  It would’ve broke her heart even more if they were destroyed in the tornado.  Jalyse looked out the window, silent tears streaming down her face silently, and raked a hand through her hair before resting her elbow on the ledge.  They’d been close…No…SHE’D been close to being destroyed by the storm, which made her shiver involuntarily.  What the Hell was she going to do now?  All of her credit cards had been destroyed along with her license and her clothes.  Sighing heavily, Jalyse felt a headache coming on as she leaned her head against the cool glass window and closed her eyes.


Mark wasn’t surprised when Jalyse fell asleep and wrapped his arm around her, resting his head on top of hers.  He dozed on and off on the ride, his mind occasionally wandering to what was going to happen now.  He knew Jalyse didn’t have any of her identification on her when the tornado struck and sighed, rubbing his temples.  That was something they’d have to go attend to in the morning.  A good night’s rest was on the menu first.  He thanked the cops when they were dropped off and carried Jalyse into the hotel, speaking to the manager concerning the dogs.  Soon, they were shown a suite, his three boys with them, and walked inside, closing the door behind him.


Chapter 23


Slowly opening her eyes, Jalyse groaned softly when she felt a headache coming on.  She looked around the room, trying to get her eyesight to stop being hazy, and gasped when a pair of arms wrapped around her waist.  Out of pure instinct, Jalyse’s hand shot back, causing her to hit whoever was behind her as she twisted around, her eyes widening when she seen Mark through the darkness.  “Oh shit!  Mark, I’m so sorry!” She immediately apologized, covering her mouth with her hand, her teal eyes shot open now fully.


Mark groaned, holding his nose.  “Damn woman, ya got one helluva backhand on you.” He muttered, gingerly feeling his nose, making sure it wasn’t bleeding or broken.  He moved away from her, sitting up and yawned.  “How’re ya feelin’, Jalyse?” He asked softly, staring down at her through the darkness.


“Sorry.” She muttered under her breath and raked a hand through her hair, immediately feeling her eyes widen when she realized she didn’t have ANY clothes on.  She immediately bounded off the bed, pulling the comforter with her, causing Mark to topple back on the bed, and wrapped it around her.  “What the Hell happened?” She demanded angrily, gripping her hair in her fingers, and stared at him with fireballs of teal shooting in his eyes.


“What?” Mark frowned, arching an eyebrow up at her.  He himself was in just a towel.  “Jalyse, you were soaked through so I took off yer clothes and slept next to you, sharin’ body heat.  I didn’t want ya catchin’ cold.” He explained, not liking being eyed like he was a rapist or something.  “Don’t worry, I didn’t take advantage of you!”


“You son of a bitch!” She shouted at him, her face turning beat red from how much anger was coursing through her body, and ripped the rest of the comforter from him.  “I knew you wanted it, but I didn’t realize you’d go to that extent, you cocksucker!” She didn’t give him the chance to reply, too angry to really be thinking straight as she demanded, “Where the fuck are my clothes, Calaway?”


“Tossed out.  They were soaked through and had some holes in them.” Mark replied coldly, getting to his feet.  “You’ll have some new ones within the hour.  One of the maids guessed your size so I sent away for some.” He snorted, shaking his head as he looked her up and down.  “Yeah, I want you.  I ain’t denyin’ it, but if I wanted sex that much, Jalyse, I’d of gotten it elsewhere from someone who wants me back.  Yer not that damned special!” He stalked into the adjoining room, slamming the door shut behind him.


By now, Jalyse was shaking with fury as she clutched the comforter tighter to her.  So that’s what he thought of her.  She was just a tease to him.  That was fine, Jalyse didn’t want to sleep with his dead ass anyway and now realized what kind of man he really was.  She cleared her throat loudly and shouted back, “At least I’m not fuckin’ dense in the head and actually want someone who wants me for me and not a fuckin’ gimmick!” She then stalked into the bathroom and slammed the door behind her, locking it, and started pacing back and forth, growling under her breath.  He had no right throwing out HER clothes!  No right!!


Mark almost put his fist through a wall when he heard that.  Instead, he got on the phone.  When he emerged from his room, he was wearing a pair of black form fitting jeans and a black leather vest, steel toed boots and his shades.  He pounded on the bathroom door harshly.  “You’re clothes are here along with a ride.  Get out here, get dressed and get the Hell out.” He ordered coldly, his heart having first broke then icing over at her gimmick comment.  “I’m sure you ain’t wantin’ to spend anymore time in the company of some fuckin’ rapist with a gimmick.”


Opening the door to the bathroom, Jalyse didn’t say a single word to him.  She simply walked over to the clothes that were on the bed, feeling sick to her stomach, but managed to pick them up.  She walked back into the bathroom and slipped them on, not caring about anything anymore.  All of her shit had been destroyed and if she would’ve just left when she had, after the fiasco with John and Journey, then none of this would’ve happened.  A few minutes later, she emerged in a pair of jeans with a t-shirt, barefoot, and tossed the comforter on the bed.  She walked past him and turned around before stating, “Thanks for making my life a living Hell these past few months.  It’s been a real fuckin’ slice.  Have a nice life, you jag off!” She then stalked out and slammed the door behind her so hard, the walls rattled.


Mark growled, tempted to go after her, but didn’t.  He sighed when Hades whined, nudging his leg.  “Forget about her.  She’s not goin’ to listen anyway…” He muttered, dropping down onto the couch and buried his face in his hands, ignoring the all too human disappointed look Hades was shooting him.


Jalyse didn’t take the ride Mark had called for her, not about to take anything from that jackass.  She shivered a little, feeling a chill in the air, and seen they were in downtown Houston.  How in the Hell was she going to get back home now?  All of her things had been destroyed in that stupid tornado!  Tears slid down her cheeks as the helpless feeling washed over her, but Jalyse refused to go back to him.  She refused to be in Hell for one more second.  He should’ve kept his hands to himself instead of taking matters into his own prerogative and took her clothes off.  What the fuck was she supposed to think waking up naked with him the same way?  Throw a party and think that he did it to make sure she didn’t get sick?  Jalyse knew better and she hardly knew Mark so how could she trust him?


Mark groaned when Hades wouldn’t stop nudging him and finally stood up.  “FINE!” He bellowed.  “I’ll make sure her damned ass gets to the fuckin’ airport, but that’s it!” He growled, snatching up his wallet.  He made one more quick call before heading out.  He wasn’t surprised to find a limousine already waiting for him and shook his head, looking around.  He spotted Jalyse standing off down the street, arms wrapped around herself, and looking more lost than ever.  Muttering under his breath, he stalked over to her, tossed her suddenly kicking and screaming form over his shoulder and carted her back to the limousine, sliding in after her.  He heard the automatic locks click and looked at the driver, the black pane of glass sliding up.


“You got two fucking seconds to let me out of here or else you’ll regret it!!” Jalyse shouted at him, not believing the audacity of this prick, and started kicking the door.  “LET ME OUT OF THIS FUCKING CAR NOW!!” She bellowed and started hitting him, ending up clocking him in the nose, where she’d hit him earlier, and then kicked him in the stomach as she scooted away from him.  “Let me out right fucking now!!” She wasn’t scared of him, too pissed off at the moment, and started kicking the door again.  “DAMN IT!”


Growling, Mark grabbed her by the arms and dragged her back against him.  “KNOCK IT OFF!” He roared, tossing her back against the opposite seat.  “Fuckin’ calm yer ass down.  You have no money, no credit cards, no identification and you don’t know anyone here besides me.  Now whether ya like it or not, you need me.  And I want you gone.  Therefore, I’m helpin’ myself by gettin’ you what ya need and gettin’ ya the Hell outta here.” He explained grimly, his eyes hidden behind his shades.  “So deal with it, Jalyse.  You’ll soon be on yer merry fuckin’ way.”


“God I hate you!!” She shouted at him, tears of anger and pain welling up inside her eyes, and when the limo stopped at a red light, she immediately tried the door and bolted out.  She slammed the door behind her and smirked as the limousine drove down the road before taking off.  “Fuck you, jackass!” She muttered, running like her life depended on it, and jumped in some bushes.  The limo driver accidentally unlocked the door, which she’d heard, apparently Mark hadn’t.  She watched the limo screech to a halt and took off running, refusing to be helped by that prick.  She’d rather be homeless and sighed when it started raining again.  “Fuck!”


Mark sighed, waving the limo driver on when the guy rolled down the window.  “Forget her.  She’s on her own.” He said softly, trying to mask the sadness he felt.  Mark groaned, burying his face in his hands when he had his privacy back.  He wondered how they’d gone from square three all the way back to square one in a matter of minutes.


Jalyse was alone and she knew it.  She knew her anger would one day write a check her ass couldn’t cash and now she was suffering for it.  She hated him.  She hated this man for what he did to her.  For what he put her through and never wanted to see him again.  “I should’ve left when I had the chance.  I shouldn’t have let him convince me to stay.  I knew he would do this to me.  I knew something like this would happen.” She started crying as she walked the streets of Houston, drenched once again from head to toe in rain, but she didn’t care.  She wanted to die at this point, especially since everything, her entire identity, had been wiped from the earth with that tornado.


~One Week Later~


Mark was back in the ring less than a week later, going against doctor’s orders, needing something to take his mind off of Jalyse.  He had almost tracked her stubborn ass down a time or two, knowing it wouldn’t be too hard to find her.  Not with his resources, but each time pride held him back.  He knew what had happened at the hotel was nothing more than a misunderstanding.  Something that could have been cleared up if he had kept his temper in check.  Mark shook his head, looking up from his spot when he heard his music cue, groaning again when she flashed through his mind.


Jalyse sat in her dorm room with a 103.5 fever and a thermometer in her mouth, coughing relentlessly.  She’d spent the night outside in an alleyway in the streets of Houston, after escaping Mark, before a nice woman seen her and called the police.  Jalyse was taken to the nearest hospital and she was lucky to be alive, especially with her 106 fever she had.  They immediately transported her to a hospital nearby her college in L.A. by helicopter.  After that, she was released two days later and now here she was in her dorm room.  She couldn’t stop thinking about Mark, not believing how much he’d hurt her, when all she did was be cautious.  She hadn’t meant to blow up at him over it, but Jalyse didn’t know this man and to wake up naked with him scared the Hell out of her.  It literally scared her to death.  Sighing heavily, Jalyse knew she had to move on and forget him.  She was going to spend the next two weeks in her dorm room and get back to her life, even if it killed her.


“Jalyse?  What’re you doing back so soon?” Jessica asked, bursting into the room looking all bright and cheerful.  She darted over to where Jalyse was sitting and hugged her, immediately frowning.  “Honey, you’re burning up.” She said softly, dropping down besides her friend.  “What happened?” She glanced at the clock, darting forward and turned on the television, grinning when she got the channel she wanted.  “Sorry, but my man’s back.” She grinned, settling back, the volume muted, looking at Jalyse with concern in her brown eyes.


Looking at the television, Jalyse immediately stood up when she realized what her room mate was watching and shut if off before tipping it over and growled out from low in the back of her throat, “I’m NOT watching that FAKE wrestling shit!  You wanna watch it, Jessie?  GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!” She snapped, groaning as she collapsed back on the couch, and started crying so hard, she couldn’t even breathe.  “I had the worst summer of my LIFE!  John and I broke up because he was fucking my cousin behind my back!  I ended up staying two weeks with her ex-boyfriend after they left the house and a fucking tornado hit, wiping away everything!  The last thing I need to see right now is that fake ass shit, especially when I have a 103 plus fever!” She had officially gone off the deep end, especially seeing Mark on television, and started crying harder.


Jessica arched an eyebrow, alarmed with the outburst though she didn’t show it.  “Calm down.” She said gently, gathering a LOT more had happened.  “What else happened, J?” She asked softly.  “What happened in Texas?  And not what you just told me, the rest of it.”


“It was so horrible, Jessie!” Jalyse started crying harder, coughing as she threw the thermometer on the floor, not caring anymore.  She took a deep breath and step by step told Jessica everything that had happened.  The kisses, the make out sessions, the break ups, the swims, the camping, the beautiful sunsets and sunrises, Hades, everything, not leaving one detail out.  The only thing she didn’t mention was the arenas.  She got to the part about the hotel after the tornado hit that night and how she’d overreacted because she didn’t know what Mark did.  She was crying so hard that it took her three hours to tell her room mate what had happened, and finally curled up on the couch.  She didn’t bother telling her room mate who Mark was, not thinking about it since he was just Mark to her, and raked a hand through her hair when she finally finished up with telling her about the hospital.  “I’m going to be in so much debt because of this fucked up summer!”


Jessica shook her head after hearing the whole story and reached out to huge Jalyse.  “Oh honey, I’m so, so sorry.” She whispered, feeling horrible for her friend.  “Why don’t you lie down and I’ll go make you some chicken noodle soup?  Or better yet, get you some broth.” She suggested with a sigh, raking a hand through her hair.  “I know you don’t like wrestling, but you’re lucky I love you.  The Undertaker wasn’t due back for another two months, some kind of torn muscle or something.  Tonight was his return and I missed it.” She sighed dramatically.  “Oh well, I’ll be right back, J, you just lie down.” She flitted out of the room to fix the soup while Jalyse sat there dumbfounded.


Chapter 24


Jalyse’s eyes widened in shock when she heard that, but quickly masked it, swallowing hard.  Mark had went back to the ring two months early?  “What a fuckin’ dumbass.” She muttered under her breath, raking her hands through her hair, and sniffled a little before laying down on the couch.  She curled up in a tight ball and just cried, burying her face in the pillow.  Two times.  Her heart had been broken two times this summer and she was going to be damned if it happened again!  “Fuck all men.” She growled out before turning over, her back toward the door, and proceeded to cry her heart and soul out silently, not believing she actually felt a twinge of worry inside of her for that jackass.


Jessica came back in carrying a steaming bowl of broth, looking like she was going to cry.  “He’s back on the inactive list!” She whined, setting the bowl down on the nightstand.  “Fucking Austin took out his knee with another steel chair, AGAIN!” She threw herself on her own bed, looking positively livid.  “That’s it, I’m done with wrestling…”


“Sorry to hear that.” Jalyse whispered, sitting up on the couch, and started stirring the soup with the spoon, feeling sick to her stomach.  Steve took out his knee?  With a chair?  Jalyse shook herself mentally.  Why the fuck she should care about that stupid motherfucker anyway?  Jalyse looked over at her room mate and shook her head as she sighed heavily.  “Good, then we don’t have to fucking watch it ever again.” She then started sipping her broth down.


Nodding, Jessica looked somewhat saddened instead of angry.  “Yeah…I was hoping he’d stay back though.  Apparently some woman over the summer was distracting him.  It was in all the wrestling magazines.  They even got a picture of the two kissing though it didn’t come out very well.” Jessica sighed wistfully again.  “Oh well, we’ll just forsake wrestling and men.  Especially since my man apparently has a girl.”


Jalyse actually choked on the broth when she heard her room mate say that, coughing, and suddenly shoved the bowl away from her.  She coughed more as Jessica stared at her with concern in her eyes and grunted out, “Wrong tube.” Tears instantly swelled in her eyes as that moment flashed through her mind, causing her to close her eyes as the memory washed over her.  She could still feel his lips on hers, his flaming touch, those emerald green eyes.  She couldn’t take it anymore and mentally shook herself, wiping her tears away as she turned away from Jessica.


Jessica frowned, walking over to sit on the couch next to Jalyse.  She dropped down lightly, reaching out to gently take her friend’s hand.  “Jalyse, what is it?” She asked in a whisper.  “I know something is seriously bugging you.  You can tell me, J.  I’m here for you.”


“You wouldn’t believe even if I told you, Jessie and you’d probably hate me.” She whispered back, slipping her hand out of her room mates, and started crying.  She bent her knees up, pressing them against her chest, and buried her face in them.  God this hurt worse than her break up with John.  What the Hell was wrong with her?  She was with the guy for not even three months and she was hurting more than she’d ever had with John and she’d been with him for three years!  Jalyse sniffled as she raked a hand through her hair.  Not to mention she was worried sick about him after what Steve pulled.


“Try me.” Jessica said simply.  “Jalyse, you know me.  I believe everything anyone tells me unless they’ve lied to me before and I busted them.  Come on, chica, you know me.” She coaxed, wrapping an arm around Jalyse, and leaned her head against her friend’s.  “Tell me.”




Mark growled, shoving away the trainer who tried to tend to his knee.  Promising himself he was going to kill Steve for this.  He gingerly got to his feet, clutching the wall to steady himself.  He shoved someone out of his way, wincing with every step he took.  He couldn’t believe Steve actually hit him with the steel chair and became even more infuriated when he found out it was put in the script at the last second.  Thanks to his boss, Vince McMahon.




She didn’t turn away from staring at the wall and knew this was the only way to show Jessica.  Without a word, Jalyse dropped her head forward, her blue streaks showing, just like the magazine had, and sighed when she heard Jessica gasp in shock before finally turning to look at her.  “Journey was dating him.  They were together for two years.” She explained solemnly, tears already building up in her eyes, and started to cry softly.  “John was fucking her behind our back.  I’m sorry, Jessica.  I’ll understand if you hate me, but I didn’t know who he was.  I don’t watch that shit.”


Jessica gaped at her friend in shock, finally getting up and retrieved her laptop.  She was silent as she clicked on something, finally turning the screen towards Jalyse.  “I think he misses you.” On the screen was an interview with the Undertaker, Mark, about his sudden return.  Jessica highlighted a section of it for Jalyse to read, the basic gist of it being he’d scared off the mysterious woman from the picture and how much he regretted it. 


Jalyse read the part of the interview, tears burning in her teal eyes, and finally pushed the laptop away, burying her face in her hands.  “God why me?” She softly muttered to herself and stood up from the couch, feeling her eyes burning because of the fever, and wrapped her arms around herself.  “You don’t get it, Jessie.  He was so cruel to me all because I was being cautious.  He’s not all he’s cracked up to be.  He fuckin’ can piss me off in one point five second, but yet at the same time, make me hot in the same time span.” Jalyse was confused as she raked her hands through her hair.


Jessica gently placed the laptop on the floor, drawing her knees up to her chest, sighing softly.  “Sounds like normal love to me.  Can’t have the lightening without the thunder or however it goes.  Besides…take it from a wrestling fan, he’s NEVER done an interview like this.  He’s actually really tight lipped about his private life so maybe…” Jessica trailed off, shrugging.  “What do I know though?  Not like you loved him or anything…” She arched an eyebrow at her friend, waiting for her reaction, purposely provoking her.


Jalyse whipped around to stare at her room mate, her teal eyes widened, and finally felt exhaustion really cave around her.  “Jessica,” She paused, sighing heavily, and shook her head.  “Forget it.  It can’t happen and I’m NOT letting it happen again!  You can have that rotten jackass who fuckin’ left me on the streets after kicking me out after a tornado almost wiped away my entire existence!  He-” She suddenly stopped and began sobbing violently, burying her face in her hands, and shook her head back and forth.  “How can I love someone like that?” She finally whispered out, the realization crashing over her.


Jessica stared at Jalyse shrewdly.  “Did you ever stop to think that maybe he wasn’t lying to you, J?  Maybe he was trying to warm you up, you know the best way to pass heat is bare skin on bare skin.” Jessica sighed, playing with the ends of her hair.  “And it sounds like you hurt his feelings and he lashed out, way out.  I should find the prick and bash in his other knee.  Would you like that?”


“That’s just it though, Jessica.  It’s always like that with me and him.  Either I lash out first or he does and we get into this huge fight.  It was like that ALL summer.  It was exhausting, so fuckin’ exhausting, but he had a great dog.” Jalyse had to smile at the thought of Hades through her tears and raked a hand through her blackish blue hair, sighing heavily.  “What should I do?” She finally asked, closing her eyes as the tears spilled down her cheeks, needing to hear some advice for the first time in a long while.


Jessica chewed on her lower lip thoughtfully, finally shaking her head and held out her hands, palm upwards in a helpless gesture.  “Jalyse…only you can make that decision.” She said gently.  “If you love him, then you’ll have to make it work.  Love isn’t easy, you of all people should know that.  But it also sounds like that in between all the bad, there was some good too.”


“Do you hate or resent me, Jessica?  I know you call him your man and everything.  I just, I lost John and Journey.  I don’t need to lose anyone else in my life right now.” She started crying again when Jessica told her she didn’t. 


For the remainder of the day, all Jalyse kept thinking about was that interview and wondered what was going through Mark’s mind at the moment.  She sniffled, wiping her tears away, and decided to check on the laptop, clicking on the interview.  Jessica was out shopping for some more soup and whatnot so she was alone for the time being.  She seen there was a video with the interview and clicked on it, pressing play, and started to cry as soon as she saw him on the screen. 


The interview showed him discussing his recovered knee.  Why he was returning against doctor’s orders two months ahead of schedule.  Then finally, what everyone wanted to know.  About the mystery woman.  ‘Taker sighed heavily, slowly removed his black sunglasses from his eyes, and said, “Words were exchanged.  Some really hurtful ones on my part and I scared her off.” He shook his head, apparently at his own dumbass, his green eyes filled with sorrow.


Jalyse felt sick to her stomach as she tossed the laptop aside and rushed into the bathroom, emptying the contents of her stomach.  She held her hair back the best she could, holding her stomach tightly, and coughed as the tears streamed down her face.  The pain and sorrow in his green eyes kept flashing through her mind, causing her heart to throb with anguish, and ended up throwing up three more times.  She finally stumbled to her bed and laid down on it, burying her face in her pillow, and cried.  “What have I done?” She whispered out before finally allowing the darkness to overtake her tired and exhausted body.




“Well Mark, it’s torn…AGAIN.” Doctor Stevens stated, crossing his arms in front of his chest, and sighed heavily, not believing his patient had went against his orders. 


Mark stared at his personal physician, arching an eyebrow.  “Tell me somethin’ I don’t know, doc.  When’s the surgery?” He sounded almost resigned to hear the answer.


“You JUST had surgery!  This time you’re just going to have to let it heal on it’s own!  There’s no way I’m going in again this damned soon!  You’re just going to have to sit your ass on the bench for the rest of the year and probably all spring too!”


Mark groaned, sliding off the hospital bed, and rolled his pant leg down.  “Thanks.” He smiled grimly before limping out, refusing to use the cane or walker they’d tried forcing on him.  He threatened a couple of orderlies that THEY’D be limping from him shoving the cane straight up their asses.


As he walked out of the hospital, Mark sighed, wishing he had Jalyse by his side at that moment.  He missed the Hell out of her and it didn’t help that Hades kept giving him that disappointed human look all the time.  Mark actually growled at his dog at one point, telling him to mind his own business, and then realized that he was talking to an animal.  Shaking his head, Mark limped to his limousine and got in, telling the driver to head to the airport.  He was going home to Houston, hating the fact that he’d have to stay in a hotel for the next month because his ranch had been demolished, but there it was.  He was having another house built and paid the people well to have it done within the next month or two.  His dogs were at one of his friend’s house that lived in the city of Houston while he was on the road and Mark was grateful for that. 


The entire plane ride back to Houston, Mark couldn’t stop thinking about Jalyse and wondered what she was doing at that moment.  He missed her laugh, her smile, the way she carried herself.  Even her bad attitude.  He sighed regretfully, leaning his head against the glass window, and wished she was in his arms.  He hadn’t meant to scare her the way he did, but his temper got the best of him.  It was still no excuse and deep down, Mark knew he was wrong for undressing her without waking her up first.  It wasn’t right, he knew it, but at the same time, all he was trying to do was help her.  She was a stubborn wench and he was a thick headed prick, which was pretty much obvious.  They were the perfect match, but after what had happened between them, Mark wondered if they had anything left to offer each other.


Slipping his wallet out of his back pocket, Mark flipped it open and sighed heavily as he leaned back against the seat.  He slipped the picture out of the slot he’d put it in and just stared at it.  Stared at her.  He closed his eyes as visions of her entered his mind, the way she tasted, the way she smelled, the way her soft skin felt against his.  It was almost enough to make Mark want to turn this plane around and head toward Los Angeles, where she was currently going to school at.  He’d called a buddy of his up who was a private investigator and asked him to track down Jalyse, wanting to make sure she made it out of Houston.  His heart clenched when he found out that she’d almost died and had to be brought back to L.A. by a helicopter.  Mark felt so guilty that he called the hospital and paid for all of her medical expenses, not wanting her to pay a dime for his mistakes.


“Damn I miss you, Jalyse.” He whispered to himself, the regret shining in his green eyes as he stared down at the picture that was in his hand.  It was of her and Hades, in the backyard.  He’d snapped a picture of them secretly, wanting one thing to hold onto, one memory.  She looked so beautiful with her long blackish blue hair that flowed down her shoulders and back in waves.  She was wearing a pair of black cotton shorts with a purple tank top, remembering that day, and sighed wistfully.  Holding the picture in his hand and pressing it to his heart, Mark finally closed his eyes and let the sleep overtake his body, Jalyse never leaving his mind.


Chapter 25


Six months had passed and Jalyse was finally back to her old self again.  She was going to school and working part time at a local diner, just across the way from school.  The tips were great and they didn’t make her work the graveyard shifts, which she was thankful for.  It was a beautiful night as Jalyse walked out of her apartment and down the street toward the diner.  She had on her black and red uniform with a white apron tied around her waist and her hair was pinned up in a messy clip.  The uniform matched her red streaks that she’d put in her hair, after hearing that she’d gotten this job.  She walked in the diner a few minutes later and smiled at Sandra her boss, who had become a fast friend. 


“Hey Sandy, how’s business tonight?” Jalyse asked cheerfully.  It was a Saturday night, one of the nights Jalyse didn’t have school so she volunteered to take the shift, needing the extra money.


“Actually it’s slow.  Though, give it another hour and you’ll be jam packed.  You got Susie’s normal section tonight.” Sandra replied, busy at the register, going over the last shift’s receipts.


“Figures that girl never shows up anymore, does she?” When Sandra just shot her a knowing look, Jalyse laughed and got to work.  She walked over and got a pitcher of coffee ready, pouring the contents in the pot, and hummed softly as country music played from the nearby radio.  She smiled when customers started coming in and immediately got to work, taking their orders and whatnot. 


By nine o’clock, the place was jam packed, but Jalyse was making some mean tips.  Finally, it got to the point where there was only one person in the diner and Jalyse was busy bussing tables, cleaning them off and whatnot.  She would be going home in an hour with a pocket full of money and a bright smile.  Suddenly, the radio began playing a song and Jalyse smiled as Why by Jason Aldean began to play through the speakers, immediately turning it up.  It reminded her of her and Mark’s relationship, but she’d moved on from that and was focused on making herself happy now.


He leaned against the counter, watching her.  Jalyse was so intent on what she was doing and the song that played that she hadn’t even noticed him.  He smiled, peering at her over the top of his yellow tinted glasses.  Yes, the man did own a pair of them.  He was clad in a tight pair of jeans that fit all the right places with a denim vest.  His hair was pulled back into a braid with a bandana around his head. 


“Guy down there asked for a cup of coffee.” Sandra said as she passed Jalyse, heading towards the office.


“On it boss lady.” Jalyse replied with a smirk, sticking her tongue out when Sandra shot her a look, and laughed.  She turned around, carrying a really heavy tub of plates and silverware, not looking up, and placed it in the back.  She then walked back out, pulling a pot of coffee from the burner, and walked over to the customer.  She turned the cup over so that it was face down and poured him a cup, still not looking up as she listened to the song.


Mark shook his head, reaching out to take the cup with one hand and gently stopped her from walking away with the other.  “How much do I owe ya, darlin’?” He asked in a low drawl.


Jalyse’s eyes widened in shock when she heard his voice and felt his hand on her wrist.  She slowly looked up and stared back at the man she hadn’t seen in six long months, watching him sip the cup of coffee she’d poured him.  Her teal eyes held nothing, but shock as she held the pot in her other hand, seemingly frozen in place.  She finally blinked when Sandra walked up to her, asking if she was alright, and nodded.  “Yeah, I’m fine.  Is Jenny coming in?” She quietly asked, still frozen solid to the ground, not moving an inch.


“She’s on her way now.” Sandra replied, staring up at Mark suspiciously.  “I don’t know who you are, but you need to get your hand off my employee before I call the cops.” She threatened softly, not appreciating the way this man had a hold of Jalyse’s wrist.


Mark glanced down at her, tearing his eyes away from Jalyse reluctantly and instantly released her wrist, taking a step back to show he didn’t mean any trouble.  “Can we talk, Jalyse?” He asked softly.


“It’s alright, Sandra.  I know him.” Jalyse informed her boss just as Jenny walked in, causing her insides to start quaking, and managed to force a smile out.  “Hey girl, you missed it tonight.” She laughed as the other girl said something incoherent.  Jalyse wasn’t hearing anything right now and hugged her before handing her the pot of coffee.  “See you ladies later.” She announced, waving at them, and grabbed her jacket before walking out of the diner, already knowing Mark would follow her.  She had no clue what to say to him.  How did he find her?  Shit, he was famous, he probably hired a private tracker or something!


Mark sighed, halting when Jalyse didn’t say anything, reaching out to lightly tap her shoulder, wincing when she tensed.  “Please darlin’, just talk to me.” He pleaded.  “Jalyse please.”


“What do you want me to say, Mark?” She quietly spoke, taking the clip out of her hair, and shook it a little.  Red streaks could clearly be seen that was mixed with the black, but she didn’t turn around to face him.  What could she say to him after six months?  She’d finally moved on and gotten over him.  What the fuck was he doing here?!


Mark sighed, moving so he was standing in front of her, gently tipping her head up by her chin so he could stare down into her eyes.  His yellow glasses were pushed up on the top of his bandana covered head.  “I’m sorry, Jalyse.  I should have never said what I did.  I never wanted to hurt you.” He said softly, his green eyes shining with remorse, which was pretty much the normal for him these days.


Her teal eyes were slowly building with tears as she stared back into his emerald green orbs, her heart breaking all over again at how much remorse she saw.  Just like she had six months prior on the internet with that interview.  “I know you didn’t and it wasn’t your entire fault.” She finally said, dropping her head away from his hand, and raked a hand through her hair.  “I didn’t know what to think when we woke up…like that.” She sighed heavily and finally turned to face him.  “What are you doing here?


“I came here to see you.” Mark replied simply.  “I wanted to apologize fer what I did that night.  I’d of come  a lot sooner, but uh, somethin’ sorta came up.” He cleared his throat awkwardly.  Six months of physical therapy actually.  That and it took him a long time to work up his courage, afraid she’d refuse to see him.


“Steve shattered your leg with the steel chair.” Jalyse told him and turned around to see his shocked expression, her arms still wrapped around herself, and sighed heavily.  “My room mate, Jessica, she’s a huge fan of yours.  She showed me your interview you did…” She took a few deep, calming breaths to slow her racing heart, raking a hand through her hair, and sighed heavily.  “Mark, I’m not angry anymore about it.  I’m not angry at you, even after everything that happened.” Her voice was low and quiet, not holding the same edginess.


Mark recovered from his initial shock that she heard about that, blinking when she mentioned seeing his interview.  He hadn’t expected that one.  He stuffed his hands in his front pockets, staring down at her intently.  “How do you feel towards me, Jalyse?  About me?”


“What do you mean, Mark?” She asked, staring into his green eyes intently, and sighed as she pulled her hair back up in the clip, driving her nuts since it kept falling in her face.  “You know how I feel towards you.  You’re a jag off and I’m a stubborn wench.” She shrugged her shoulders.  “That’s how it’s always been between us and it won’t change.”


Sighing, Mark reached out as if to caress the back of her cheek, but thought better of it, stuffing his hand back in his pocket, not wanting to piss her off.  “What about all the good times we shared?” He asked softly.  “Those don’t mean nothin’ to you?”


“Mark,” She paused with a heavy sigh and felt her bottom lip quivering as she sniffled a little.  The tears streamed down her cheeks freely as she looked up at the midnight blue sky, the stars twinkling down on them, and didn’t turn to face as she wiped her tears away.  “Do you know what I kept thinking about these past six months?  To keep me going instead of falling?”


Mark felt his heart break at her tears.  Then the pieces started dancing around in his chest, a million shards of glass at her words, afraid of what she would say.  “No, Jalyse I don’t.” He whispered, wishing he could do or say something to ease her tears.  “What did you think about?”


She shoved her hands in the front pockets of her uniform and actually laughed a little, allowing the tears to keep falling, and cleared her throat.  “I kept thinking about that night on the hilltop.  The night we went camping together and I fell asleep in your arms.  It all made sense then.  It all seemed so right and perfect.  Just that one night has kept me going these past six months.  Jessica asked me something that really cemented everything into place.  She didn’t really ask me, more like stated it, but it made me realize exactly why I was so scared to take that extra step.  That extra jump.”


Mark still had no idea who the Hell this Jessica was, but assumed she was a friend of Jalyse.  He wondered if her being a fan of his had hurt him or helped him when it came to Jalyse.  He stared down at her, green eyes full of some unreadable emotion.  “What was it she said to you, Jalyse?” He finally asked, waiting breathlessly for her answer, almost afraid to hear it.


“She said that you were a very private man and that you never did an interview like that one, but what did she know.  Then she said,” Jalyse had to pause and closed her eyes, dropping her head forward, and sniffled a little more, regaining her train of thought.  “She said, ‘Not like you loved him anyway’.  Those six words put everything into place and made me realize why I was so scared.” She turned around to face him, her teal eyes filled with tears of hurt.  Of regret.  Of sorrow.  More important, they were filled with unconditional love.  “It made me realize that I fell deeply in love with you.”


Mark’s broken heart seemed to repair itself just so it could make the attempt to leap out of his chest.  He stared down at her, reaching out to catch a tear that fell.  “Jalyse…I love you.” He whispered, placing his heart in her hands, for her to either cherish or rip to shreds.  “I know I’m a…jag off…a hard man to deal with, but I love you and I want you.” He took a slow step towards her.  “I’ve spent six months away from ya darlin’, without you, and it seems like it was six eternities.  Each month worse than the next.  Give me one chance, Jalyse.  Let me show you sunrises and sunsets again.”


Just hearing those words made Jalyse’s heart want to jump out of her chest as she stared back into his eyes, knowing he was telling her the truth.  She didn’t say a word, just walked into his arms, and buried her face in his chest, her entire body trembling, and started sobbing uncontrollably.  Six months away from him had been horrible, but she’d thought she’d moved on.  She was hiding the pain and sadness of being away from him behind her school work and job.  “I love you so much, Mark.” She croaked out, her voice cracking with pressure because of how much emotion was coursing throughout her body at the moment.


Enfolding her in his strong embrace, Mark buried his face in her hair.  He wanted to whisk her off right then and there, but knew he couldn’t.  She still had her life here, school to finish.  He inhaled raggedly.  “How much more schoolin’ ya got left, darlin’?” He asked huskily, bending down lower so his mouth was near her ear.


“I’m finished with it.” She softly whispered and stepped back as she pulled out her diploma.  Her graduation was earlier on that day as she waved it at him, a smile on her face with tears in her eyes.  “I only needed to finish six months.  My graduation was early this morning.” She informed him before slipping the diploma back into her uniform and smiled as she raked a hand through her hair, placing her hands on her hips.  “Tonight was my final night at the diner as well.”


Mark felt sad that he’d come a day too late.  He would’ve loved to have attended her graduation.  Though that didn’t do nothing to dim the pride and admiration he felt for her.  “I’m so proud of ya darlin’.” He  murmured, bending down to lightly kiss her.  “What’re yer plans now?”


“I’m up for anything at this point.” She answered honestly, hearing the sadness in his voice, and sighed deeply.  “Don’t feel bad, Mark.  The graduation was short, sweet and simple, nothing to get bent out of shape about.” She winked at him and crossed her arms in front of her chest as she stood before him.


“You feelin’ up to returnin’ to Texas with me, darlin’?” He asked softly, placing his hands on her shoulders, staring down into her eyes.  “I know a certain mutt who’d be damned glad to see ya.”


Jalyse giggled softly, knowing exactly which dog he was talking about, and nodded softly as she raked a hand through her hair.  “Yeah, I want to see the sunrises and sunsets with you.” She then brought his lips down on hers, passionately kissing him, and squealed when he lifted her up in his strong arms, immediately wrapping her arms around his neck, and pressed her forehead to his.


“I love you, Jalyse.” He whispered, holding her tight to him, afraid if he let go, she would disappear out of his life again.


“I know, I love you too, Mark.” Jalyse replied and ran her fingers through his hair, smiling softly.  She knew she’d made the right decision by giving him a chance at her heart.  She’d given John a chance and he’d shattered it, but she had a feeling Mark would take his chance and run with it.  She also knew Mark had given her his heart and she planned on cherishing it for the rest of her life. 


They both were given chances at each other, both wanted just one chance, and after the smoke cleared and the dust settled, they were finally together for all time.


The End.