Feels Like Home

 

Chapter 1

 

“Alyssa Marie Harris, get your ass over here pronto!” Nicoya ordered her eight year old daughter, who was trying to get another cupcake off the cafeteria table, and sighed wearily.  Sometimes Nicoya wondered why she brought her daughter on the road with her, but then she stared into those crystalline colored eyes and instantly melted.  She sighed, seeing those puppy dog eyes staring back at her, and knew Alyssa had her in the palm of her hand.  “Fine, but only one more, got me?” She stated, raising a challenging eyebrow, daring her daughter to defy her.

 

Alyssa smiled sweetly, nodding and took the cupcake.  “Just one more, Mom.” She agreed, delicately peeling back the wrapper of it before taking a bite.  She then picked up another one, smiling sweetly still.  “This one is for you, Mommy.” She held it out like it was the best gift anyone could ever hope to be on the receiving end of, licking the frosting off her own cupcake.

 

Smiling softly back at her, Nicoya ran her fingers through her raven colored hair, which was the same as hers, but they had different eyes.  Nicoya had deep, midnight blue eyes.  “Thanks, baby girl.” She replied with a smile, kissing the top of her head, and picked her up, setting her on her lap, and grinned when frosting got on the tip of her nose.  “Here, let momma get that.” She wiped it off and smiled, loving her little girl with all her heart.  She was the only piece she had of her ex-boyfriend, even though he didn’t know Alyssa existed.

 

Alyssa finished her cupcake, snuggling against her mom.  She batted her long, black eyelashes.  “Mom, why aren’t you eating that?” She asked, her forehead wrinkling in puzzlement.  Though there was an impish gleam in her eyes.  “If you don’t want it…”

 

“Not a chance, young lady.” Nicoya scolded gently, smiling, and sighed as she put the cupcake in a napkin, wrapping it up, and nodded.  “I’ll eat it later when you’re in bed.  Give your momma a late night snack.” She winked, causing Alyssa to groan, and sighed exasperated before standing up, setting her on her feet.  “Do you want anything to drink before we head back to the office?” She asked, raising an eyebrow, and seen that impish gleam in her eyes again.  “No pop.”

 

“Mom!  Besides pop, all they have are those energy drinks and then water…I had water earlier and do you really want me to drink something that’ll make me hyper?” Alyssa asked, cocking an eyebrow at her mother.  “Especially since I just had a cupcake?  Sprite won’t hurt…”

 

“Fine…” Nicoya grumbled with a sigh, handing her daughter a dollar bill, and watched as she bounded over to the pop machine.  “ONLY Sprite, Alyssa.” She stated, causing her daughter to nod, and smiled before shaking her head.  Her daughter was smarter than the average eight year old and had a mouth that matched it.

 

Alyssa grinned broadly, studying the selection before sighing, knowing if she got something besides Sprite, she could possibly get in trouble.  Or at least wind up drinking water all night.  She frowned when the machine wouldn’t give up her drink and hit it with a tiny fist.  “MOM-” Alyssa’s eyes widened when another fist pounded on it and tilted her head back.  “Thanks Undie!” She giggled, bending down to get her drink when it dropped into the slot.

 

Mark shook his head, having seen Nicoya and her daughter in passing.  Maybe exchanged a half a dozen words with Nicoya, but Alyssa was a cutie with a mouth.  “Undie?” He echoed amusedly.

 

Nicoya was already turning red from her daughter and shook her head, clearing her throat, and grabbed Alyssa’s hand, pulling her over to her side, and shot her a look.  “I’m terribly sorry about that, Mr. Calaway.  Sometimes my daughter’s mouth runs off with her.” Nicoya apologized, staring down at her daughter with narrowed eyes, and silently wondered what she was going to do with her.  She could not believe Alyssa just called this man Undie and felt like crawling in a hole at that moment as she raked a hand through her black hair.

 

“What?  He’s called the Undertaker and that’s an awfully long name for such a small girl.” Alyssa reasoned, looking dead serious.  “I’m sorry…Mr. Calaway.” She apologized, looking wide eyed and innocent.  Mark arched an eyebrow, first looking at the beat red Nicoya before back to Alyssa, slowly lowering himself down to one knee, gesturing her forward.  Alyssa hesitated maybe for a fraction of a second before sitting on his knee, instantly reaching out to tug on his hair.  Mark winced slightly before catching her hand gently.  “What was that for little one?” He asked in his deep voice.

 

“I heard some of the hair dresser’s say it was falling out, but I think they were lying.” Alyssa answered sweetly, a smile marring her face.

 

Nicoya’s eyes widened to the size of potatoes, her jaw dropping, and immediately pulled her daughter away from him by her hand.  “Alyssa Marie!” She scolded, shaking her head, and was turning even redder.  Nicoya wished someone would’ve taken a bullet to her head at that moment because that would be less painful than how embarrassed she was because of her daughter.  “Come on, we need to get back to the office so your momma can work.”

 

“MOM!  He ain’t mad…are you?” Alyssa stubbornly pulled away, looking at Mark.

 

Mark shook his head, smiling slightly.  He stood up to his full six foot nine height and looked at Nicoya.  “She’s somethin’ else, isn’t she?” He asked, chuckling when he seen the ‘don’t I know it’ look on Alyssa’s adorable face.

 

“She definitely has her moments.” Nicoya quietly said, glaring down at her daughter, and yanked her back, tightening her grip on her hand.  She shook her head down at her and sighed heavily, seeing the innocence in Alyssa’s eyes.  “I’m sorry about her pulling your hair, Mr. Calaway.” She stared down at her daughter hardening.  “Don’t you have something to say to him, Alyssa Marie?”

 

“Yeah, what kind of shampoo do you use?  Your hair is REALLY soft!” Alyssa beamed up at him.  “I don’t know what Mom uses, but I think she oughta switch brands.”  Mark started choking on the water he was now sipping.

 

“Christ…” Nicoya groaned, shaking her head, and once again felt her cheeks turn a deep crimson red.  “Alyssa, just say you’re sorry and then we need to go.” She groaned, raking a hand through her hair, and kept her eyes GLUED to the floor.

 

“Sorry?  For what?  Saying his hair is soft?” Alyssa asked quizzically, looking at Mark and shrugging her shoulders.  Marks hugged his back, though now he was looking thoroughly amused.  “Um…I’m sorry you have such soft, pretty hair.  I’m also sorry my mom is the color of a strawberry.” Alyssa said sincerely.

 

“The color suits her.” Mark drawled, glancing at Nicoya with an arched eyebrow.  “You alright there, darlin’?”

 

“I think she’s…em-bar-” Alyssa was having a hard time saying that word.

 

“Embarrassed?” Mark finished it for her.

 

“Yeah that, thanks!” Alyssa shouted in excitement, glad Mark had helped her out with her speech impediment.

 

“Alyssa…” Nicoya had that warning tone to her voice, causing her little girl to sigh exasperatedly, and raked a hand through her black hair.  “We really have to go now.” She then turned abruptly, dragging her daughter behind her, not believing she just embarrassed herd mother like that.  “Alyssa Marie, you know better than to talk to people you don’t know, young lady!” She scolded, shaking her head in disbelief, still looking like a strawberry.

 

“Mom, it’s the UNDERTAKER!  If you act like a fraidy cat, you know what he’ll do don’t you?” Alyssa’s blue eyes lit up wickedly.  “He’ll chop ya into tiny pieces and serve it to your next of kin!”

 

“Where on EARTH did you hear that?!” Nicoya stated, her eyes going to the size of potatoes, and suddenly started walking hastily back to her office, dragging Alyssa behind her.

 

“OUCH!  Hello-my arm!” Alyssa wrenched away, rubbing her arm, eyes narrowed.  “And it was JBL who told me that.  Why?  You afraid now?  Is Undie gonna really cut you up into little pieces?” She looked mildly worried now.  “MOM!  Why did you have to turn red???”

 

“Layfield…” She growled under her breath and stopped dead in her tracks.  “Would you like to go visit Ashley for a bit?  Momma needs to go talk to someone about a script.” She lied, not giving Alyssa time to speak, and started dragging her down the hallway again, but being more careful with her speed and grip.

 

“I don’t want to visit Ashy right now.  I want to drink my Sprite!” Alyssa protested.  “Which was left in the cafeteria!”

 

“Actually little one…” Came Mark’s voice from across the hall, leaning in the doorway to his dressing room, bare from the waist up.  “I was gonna bring it to you after doin’ my promo.”

 

“Could I have it now instead?” She asked him sweetly, those big blue eyes batting at him.

 

“If yer momma can spare a second.” Mark replied, his eyes drifting from the little girl to her beautiful mother.

 

“I’ll get you another one.” Nicoya stated, keeping a firm grip on her daughter’s hand, and sighed when Alyssa started throwing a fit, wanting the Sprite Mark had.  “Alyssa Marie…” Nicoya held that warning tone, causing tears to pool in the little girl’s eyes, and immediately caved.  “Fine, but please make it fast.  I have a certain…announcer…I need to speak with.” She didn’t move from her spot in the hallway and kept her daughter close to her.

 

“Mom’s gonna tell JBL off for telling me that you cut people who’re scared of you into tiny little pieces and feeding it to their next of kin.” Alyssa informed him, wiggling away from her mother.

 

”Is THAT right?” Mark asked, his eyebrows raised.

 

“Yeah, do you really?  Cause I got to tell you, my mom probably doesn’t taste all that good.  You wouldn’t want to eat her!”

 

Mark looked more than amused now as he cast an appraising look at Nicoya and replied as he stroked his goatee in thought, “I don’t know…she looks mighty tasty.”

 

“I TOLD you not to be so scared, Mom!” Alyssa scolded her mother and shook her head as she sighed.

 

Nicoya was once again as red as a strawberry and immediately glared down at her daughter angrily.  “If you speak one more word, I’m going to take away your ice cream tonight.” She threatened, her midnight blue eyes telling her daughter she meant what she said, and dared Alyssa to defy her, ignoring Mark for the time being.  She was tired of getting embarrassed and this had been the last straw.

 

Alyssa got a look on her face that definitely wasn’t one she got from her mother as she shot back, “Well, I DID have some cupcakes so I think I’m filled up anyways.”

 

“Darlin’, why don’t you listen to yer momma?” Mark murmured, seeing the look on Nicoya’s face.

 

“Well, is it MY fault she keeps going red?  Sheesh…” Alyssa argued promptly, her lips pursed tightly together.

 

“Fine, no ice cream, Alyssa and if you even THINK about sneaking it, I’m going to paddle your ass.  Do I make myself clear?  Now keep your mouth shut.” She ordered sternly, raising an eyebrow challenging, the redness still in her cheeks, but nothing like it was before.  She then turned to face Mark and sighed heavily.  “Sorry about her mouth.  Like I said, sometimes it runs away with her.  What did you need to speak to me about, Mr. Calaway?”

 

Mark stared at her curiously.  “Who said I wanted to speak with ya, honey?” He drawled, winking when Alyssa started giggling.  “I was just plannin’ on bringin’ the angel her Sprite.”

 

Alyssa sidled up to him, totally smitten now.  “Can I have it please?” She asked sweetly, too adorable for words.

 

“Sittin’ on the table.” Mark pointed, chuckling when she zoomed into the room.  “She’s got no fear does she?”

 

“You have no idea.” She muttered under her breath, raking a hand through her hair, and sighed heavily.  Sometimes Alyssa reminded her too much of her father, which unnerved her.  She loved her daughter no matter what though and planned on changing Alyssa’s ways, though she knew it was in her genes.  Her father had that same smartass mouth that Alyssa had.  “Alyssa, we need to get going to Ashley’s dressing room, honey.” She called out, not comfortable standing in the hallway with Mark staring at her, and crossed her arms in front of her chest.  Her next stop after dropping her daughter off was to visit Layfield and give him a piece of her mind about telling her daughter’s lies.  Filling her head with garbage.

 

Mark turned around, shaking his head as he asked, “What’cha got there, darlin’?”

 

Alyssa pointed at the punching bag and asked, “What’s that for?”

 

“Lemme show you.” Mark stepped into the room, punching it lightly, and caught it before it could hit her.  “You try.”  Alyssa instantly put down her pop a took a swing, grinning when it moved only to be knocked down on her butt when it rebounded.  Mark chuckled and set her up on her feet.  “Try again, angel.”

 

“No, that’s not necessary.” Nicoya interrupted and pulled her daughter away from the punching bag, shaking her head emphatically.  “No, Alyssa Marie!  Now come on, we have to get going!” She ushered her out of Mark’s dressing room and raked a hand through her black hair.  “Nice talking to you, Mr. Calaway.” She murmured, having a firm grip on her daughter’s hand, and then turned around, hurrying down the hallway.

 

“Mom, what was that for?” Alyssa whined, looking upset now.  “He was being nice!  JBL’s a liar, Undie wouldn’t cut us up into pieces!” She perked.  “Hey…you think maybe he’d cut JBL up into little pieces if we asked him too?”

 

“Alyssa, clamp it shut NOW.” Nicoya ordered angrily, gritting her teeth.  Her daughter was getting on her last nerve as they arrived outside of Ashley’s dressing room, and sighed heavily when she seen the woman wasn’t there.  “Let’s go back to the office.  Momma needs to get more work done.” She then headed down the hallway, passing Mark’s dressing room, and walked inside of her office, shutting the door behind her.  “Go play with your toys and let me work.” She instructed and sat down, scrubbing her face with her hand, and shook her head. 

 

What was she going to do with her daughter’s mouth?  One thing Nicoya didn’t like about Alyssa was that she had her father’s mouth and attitude, which made it really difficult to raise her.  Alyssa was smart and she had the mouth to back it up, though sometimes it got her in trouble.  Perfect example would be having her ice cream taken away from her for the night, which Nicoya was still going to do, especially after Alyssa defied and embarrassed her in front of the conscience of the WWE, the Undertaker Mark Calaway.

 

Chapter 2

 

Alyssa was very, very well behaved and quiet for the next half hour, only looking up from her toys when there was a knock on the door.  Her eyes widened when she seen JBL walk in, followed by the Undertaker.  “Wow!”

 

“He has somethin’ he’d like to say to you, angel.” Mark said, discreetly pushing JBL towards Alyssa.

 

“Another bull crap lie?” Alyssa asked sarcastically, her lips pursed tightly together, looking somewhat like her mother.

 

“What is going on here?” Nicoya demanded, standing from her chair, and immediately went to protect her daughter, blocking her.  Though, Alyssa peeked around her leg.  Nicoya glared back at Layfield, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and looked positively livid.  “Did you fill my daughter’s head with that lie about Mr. Calaway?” She didn’t give him time to answer as she looked down at her daughter and hesitantly pulled her to stand in front of her, her hands placed firmly on her shoulders.  “Alyssa, what did Mr. Layfield say to you, sweetheart?”

 

JBL looked irritated when Alyssa, looking innocently adorable, started ratting him out.  “Now really, it was just a joke.” He said finally, trying to squirm his way out of this.

 

“Not a very funny one.” Mark said, his tone neutral though his green eyes were blazing with anger.  “You owe…Alyssa…an apology, Bradshaw.”

 

“What?  She’s just a kid-” JBL groaned when he seen the look on Mark’s face.  “Alyssa, I’m-”

 

“Full of crap, I know.” She piped up sweetly, showing those white teeth of hers.

 

“Alyssa, you know you’re not allowed to say that word.” She stated sternly, staring down at her daughter, and sighed heavily as she shook her head.  She backed Alyssa up and glared spitefully at Layfield before pulling him down by the scruff of his necktie.  “If you ever, and I do mean EVER, speak to my daughter again, Mr. Layfield, I will personally talk to Mrs. Levesque about terminating you for filling my daughter’s head with lies about your co-worker.  And don’t even think I can’t do it because Stephanie and I are VERY close friends and she considers Alyssa a niece.  Do I make myself clear?” She didn’t give him time to speak before releasing his toe and crossed her arms in front of her chest.  “Now please vacate my office before I change my mind and end up telling Stephanie about this anyway.”

 

Mark looked away from Layfield, whistling softly, one long leg stretched out before the doorway.  His green eyes widened innocently when JBL tripped and went flying out the door, yelping.  “You alright, Miss…?  You know, I don’t think I ever caught yer last name.”

 

“It’s Ms. Harris.” She responded softly, turning to look down at her daughter, and stroked her black hair from her face.  “I’m sorry you had to deal with that man, baby girl.  He won’t be bothering you again, alright?” She hugged Alyssa close and sighed heavily.  She’d tried so hard to keep her daughter away from the men of this business, but it was impossible since that’s mostly what Nicoya worked with.  She was the lead script writer for the Smackdown! brand and sometimes, the job just had its negatives.

 

Mark arched an eyebrow before crossing over to Alyssa, kneeling down in front of her again as he asked, “And you are, little angel?”

 

“Alyssa.” She said promptly, clearly taken with him. “But you can call me Aly.”

 

“That’s pretty, darlin’.” Mark replied, meaning what he said.

 

“Got a name or can I keep on callin’ you Undie?” She asked, no fear shining in her blue eyes, which shocked Mark to say the least.

 

“Call me Mark.” He replied with a grin, his green eyes shining back at her.

 

Nicoya chewed on her bottom lip, wondering if she really liked this man introducing himself to her daughter, and sighed.  She couldn’t stop it from happening, but she wasn’t going to become friendly with this man either.  That would only lead to problems. Problems she just didn’t need right now as she walked back over and sat down at her desk.  “Alyssa, gather your things, sweetheart.  We’re leaving shortly to head back to the hotel.” She announced, raking a hand through her hair, and started writing down a few notes as reminders to herself for the following day.

 

“Aww, but Mom!” Alyssa whined, looking positively mutinous.  She’d been herded away from the wrestlers except for a select few and it drove her nuts, especially since she had her favorites.  “I want to keep talking to Mark!”

 

Mark cleared his throat, standing up.  “I’ll talk to you later, Aly, how 'bout that?”

 

“I want to talk now though!  Mom will keep me hidden if you disappear!” She informed him, almost on the brink of hysterics and panic.

 

“Alyssa…” Nicoya held that warning tone for the third time that night and groaned when her daughter started going on and on, finally having enough.  “That’s it!  I’ve had it!  Get your fucking things packed up right now!  Don’t argue with me!” She shouted, her eyes narrowing at her daughter, and planted her hands on her hips after standing up from her chair abruptly.

 

Alyssa’s blue eyes widened in surprise before filling with tears, her lower lip trembling, looking wounded.  Mark cleared his throat and backed out of the room, quietly closing the door behind him.  Definitely not about to get himself involved in this.  The mother, Ms. Harris, seemed to be a bit neurotic.  That would explain why Alyssa was so…not.

 

Just the look in her daughter’s eyes broke Nicoya’s heart as she immediately dropped down on her knees in front of her daughter and pulled her into her arms.  “I’m sorry, baby girl.  You know momma is only trying to protect you.  You know what I’ve said about talking to people you don’t know.” She tried soothing her daughter, blinking her own tears back, and shook her head as she mentally cursed her ex-boyfriend for doing this to them.  Even though he didn’t know about Alyssa.  Nicoya was going to keep it that way too if she could help it.  “Alyssa, I love you, sweetheart.” She pulled back to stare into her blue eyes that matched her father’s, which made Nicoya’s heart twinge.  “Please don’t cry.  I just don’t want you talking to anyone that you don’t know, alright?” She was speaking softly to her daughter.

 

“Not-not even Mark?” Alyssa asked softly.  “He was so nice and everything, momma.  He got my pop out of the machine when it got stuck, showed me how to punch that red thingy, made JBL fall…” She giggled at that last one, looking wicked for a minute.  “That was funny wasn’t it, Mom?”

 

“Not even Mark, Alyssa.  I’m sorry, but I don’t know the man and neither do you.  I don’t want to get close to anyone else on this roster, do you understand me?” Nicoya asked in a soft, but firm voice, wiping her tears away from her eyes, and sighed heavily when Alyssa just looked away from her and began packing her things.  She knew her daughter was upset with her, but she was doing this for their own good.  Though somehow, deep down inside, Nicoya knew this was the beginning of something disastrous and groaned inwardly  She’d done a great job hiding Alyssa from the roster, except Ashley and Matt over the past six months since transferring from the RAW brand and now this.

 

…Next Morning…

 

“Mom…Mom…Mom…Mom…” Alyssa sighed when her mom just rolled over on her bed and quickly climbed up onto it, beginning to jump.  “MOMMY!  Someone’s at the door!”

 

Groaning, Nicoya slowly opened her eyes, sighing when the sunlight streamed through the room and hit her eyes, causing her to squeeze them tightly shut.  She peered over at the clock, seeing it was just after nine in the morning, and groaned more.  Who the Hell was there THIS early?  “Alright, give momma a minute, honey.” She softly said, and slid from the bed, wearing a red spaghetti strapped nightgown that went down past her knees.  She pulled on her black silk robe, tying it around her waist, and headed for the door, Alyssa bouncing behind her.

 

Alyssa peeked out behind her mom when she opened the door, grinning broadly before tossing herself out into the hallway, “MATTIE!”

 

Matt groaned, catching her and falling backwards on the floor.  “You’re gettin’ heavy!” He teased, getting to his feet, holding her.  “I’m supposed to let you know Ashley won’t be meeting you for lunch because she got herself stuck at an all-day autograph session.” He said, looking up at Nicoya.  “However, I’m willing to take the munchkin here downstairs for breakfast since you look like you’re dead on your feet.” He offered with a smile.

 

“That’s very kind of you, Matthew, but-” Nicoya stopped when Alyssa jutted out her lower lip and started pleading with her, wanting to spend some time with her Uncle Matt.  Sighing resignedly, Nicoya rolled her eyes and pointed her thumb behind her shoulder.  “Go get dressed.” She stated and chuckled when Alyssa made a beeline for the bedroom, sighing heavily as she raked a hand through her black hair.  “I really wish she didn’t have his energy.” She quietly whispered, knowing exactly where Alyssa got her energy from.

 

Matt clucked his tongue, reaching out to pat her arm gently.  “She’s a kid, Coya.  Kids are just balls of energy.” He said soothingly.  “Hell…look at Jeff, he’s still a ball of energy.” He joked, sighing when he was rewarded with just a nod.  “You ready then, Aly?”

 

Alyssa nodded, reappearing fully dressed and replied, “Yup.  Want us to bring you something, Mom?” She asked sweetly.

 

“No, sweetheart.  You mind Matthew though and don’t give him a hard time.” She stated and smiled when her daughter saluted her, that twinge once again entering her heart, and bent down.  They hugged as she kissed Alyssa’s head and allowed Matt to escort her away as she closed the door behind her.  Nicoya sighed heavily and raked a hand through her hair before heading over to the balcony window, staring out of it.  She didn’t know why, but something was brewing inside of her.  Telling her that trouble was coming.

 

~!~

 

Matt listened patiently as Alyssa chattered over breakfast, shaking his head when she started talking about her latest favorite wrestler.  Wondering where the Hell this fascination with the Deadman came from.  Then he looked up, blinking when he seen Mark.  Speaking of the devil.  Alyssa turned her head, smiling when she seen Mark ordering something, and shouted out, “Hey!  Undie!”  Mark started choking on his food.

 

~!~

 

Alyssa was staying with her grandparents for the first eight years of her life, which Nicoya didn’t mind, considering she wanted her daughter to have a normal life.  That quickly changed though when she found out her grandfather was hitting Alyssa, leaving marks on her.  Nicoya quickly put a stop to her staying with them and brought her on the road, just before transferring to Smackdown!.  So her boyfriend had no clue she even had a child that was by him.  He never would either, not after all the pain and torment he’d put on her through the past eight years.  The thought made tears spring to her eyes, but Nicoya blinked them back.  Was it a wonder why she didn’t want to get close to anyone on the Smackdown! roster?

 

Mark could only listen as Alyssa chattered away, sharing amused looks with Matt as they both walked Alyssa back to her mother.  He’d only joined them at breakfast because she insisted, finding the little chatterbox adorable.  Then got conned into joining them on the return trip, much to Matt’s amusement.  “Does she ever take a breath?” He asked amusedly.

 

“Not too often.” Matt answered with a small chuckle.

 

Nicoya smiled when she heard a knock on her door and immediately rushed over to answer it.  She was wearing a pair of blue jeans with a red tank top, her black hair framing her face and flowed down her back, hugging her waist perfectly.  She opened the door and greeted, “Hey sweet-” Her words died when she seen Mark with her daughter and Matt, not believing this, and tucked a strand of hair behind her hair before bending down to hug her daughter.  “Did you have fun?” She quietly asked, not looking at the two men before her, her eyes only for her little girl.

 

“Yeah!  I had blueberry pancakes and French toast with orange juice!” Alyssa said, which was her usual breakfast anyway.  “I made Mark sit with us.” She confided, looking pleased with herself.

 

Matt looked downright amused.  “She also commandeered him as an escort.” He added for leverage, a smile on his face.

 

“Pleasure to be of service.” Mark joked, winking down at Alyssa when she flashed him a sweet grin.

 

“I noticed.” Nicoya replied wryly and slowly stood up, giving her daughter that stern look, and cleared her throat.  “Go to your room, Alyssa.” She ordered, crossing her arms in front of her chest, not looking pleased at all.  When her daughter went to argue, Nicoya shot her the most stern, angry look she had yet and watched as her daughter zoomed into the bedroom, closing the door behind her.  She then turned around to face Mark and took a deep breath.  “I hope she wasn’t that much trouble, Mr. Calaway.” She shot Matt that same look she did to her daughter and pointed to the couch.  “Inside.  Now.”  Matt slinked into the room, looking like a scalded dog, and dropped down on the couch.

 

“She wasn’t any trouble at all, Ms. Harris.” Mark replied in the same tone of voice she used on him.  He nodded at Matt before walking off.

 

Nicoya brushed off Mark’s tone of voice, slamming the door behind her, and immediately spun around on Matt.  “You are NEVER taking my daughter out to eat with you AGAIN!  Do you have ANY idea what you just did?!  Alyssa was already attached to him from last night and you made it worse!  You know my policy, Matthew!  My daughter is to go NOWHERE NEAR ANY of these wrestlers!!” She shouted, her temper overtaking her, and raked her hands through her hair as she started pacing in front of him.  “Now I have to reprimand my daughter because I already told her once to stay away from him!!” She groaned in frustration and shook her head, not believing this mess.

 

“Coya, calm down.” Matt said, standing up from the couch.  “You work for the WWE, honey.  You can’t keep her from the guys forever, and Mark seems to like her just as much as she likes him.” He didn’t falter under the look she shot him.  “Aly is a curious kid, you can’t stifle that forever, Coya.” He reasoned gently.

 

“Yes I fucking can!” She snapped, her lips pursed tightly together, and shook her head as the tears swelled in her eyes, turning around and staring out the window.  “Matthew,” She paused, sighing deeply, and lowered her voice considerably so her daughter couldn’t overhear this part.  “He doesn’t know about her.  The more secretive I can keep her, the better off I’ll be.” She raked a hand through her hair as she looked down into his dark eyes.  “I didn’t mean to snap on you, I just…I told her to stay away from him and she deliberately disobeyed me.  So I’m going to have to punish her, not you because you obviously didn’t know my feelings on the situation until now.  She knew better and yet she did it anyway, just like her fucking father.” She growled that last part in a low voice.

 

Matt cleared his throat, not sure what he could say to that.  He raked a hand through his hair, looking at Nicoya sympathetically.  “Being like him isn’t something she can control exactly, Coya.” He said gently.

 

“I know that.” She whispered, wrapping her arms around herself, and rubbed them up and down.  “But she is going to learn to listen to me or else I’ll hire a babysitter to come on the road and keep her at the hotel.  I made my decision after I left him that I wouldn’t get attached to any of the other men on this roster and I’m keeping that vow, no matter what.  You and Ashley are different, you’re like my family and hers.  But the rest of them I could care less about.  I’m here to work and that’s it, not to make friends.” She sighed heavily and shook her head.  “I’m sorry for snapping on you, Matthew.” She apologized softly and walked over to stare out the window.

 

“I know you are and don’t apologize, Coya.  I should have known better.” Matt admitted, shaking his head at himself.  He did know better, but it was hard for anyone to do anything against the legendary Phenom, Matt included, awed of him.  “There anything you need before I take off?”

 

“No, nothing else and don’t beat yourself up over it.” She stated softly, walking over and hugged him around the neck, kissing his cheek.  “I’ll see you tonight at the arena.” She then walked him to the door and waved him off before closing the door behind her. 

 

Chapter 3

 

Taking a few deep breaths to calm down, Nicoya squared her shoulders and turned around, her lips pursed tightly together, and cleared her throat loudly.  “Alyssa Marie Harris, come out here right now.” She called out, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and when the door to the bedroom opened, she pointed to the couch.  “Sit down.”

 

Alyssa kept her head down, not daring to look at her mom just yet, knowing she was in BIG trouble.  She perched on the edge of the couch, hands twisting together nervously with her shoulders slumped, and quietly asked, “Yes Mom?”

 

“Alyssa, what am I going to do with you?  Seriously, I told you to stay away from him and what did you do?  You defied me like you always do!” Nicoya scolded her daughter, her eyes filled with anger, though she knew she could never punish her daughter.  She loved her too much and she was the most important person in the world to her.  “Why can’t you ever once just listen to what I say?  I am your mother and if you can’t start listening to me, Alyssa, I’m going to have to do something I really don’t want to do…” When Alyssa looked up at her with terrified blue eyes, Nicoya raised an eyebrow back at her.  “I’ll hire a babysitter for you if you can’t learn to obey my wishes and listen to me.  Now I want to know, why did you invite Mr. Calaway to join you and Matthew for breakfast this morning?”

 

“Because he looked lonely!” Alyssa said, sounding upset.  “Everyone else kinda avoids him and sometimes he looks lonely.” She sighed, crossing her arms over her chest in an all too adult gesture and hung her head.  “I’m sorry, Mommy.  I’ll listen to you from now on, just please don’t get a babysitter.”

 

Sighing deeply, knowing her daughter was just following her heart, like Nicoya did a lot, she smiled and walked over to her.  She sat down on the couch and pulled her into her arms, setting her on her lap, and kissed the top of her head.  “I know you like interacting with the others, Aly.  I know that, baby girl, but you also need to realize that you can’t trust anyone on the roster except for Matthew, Ashley, Jeffy, and Ky.  They are the ONLY ones that won’t hurt you.  Do you understand what I’m saying?” Her tone was gentle and soft, running her fingers through her daughter’s black hair, sighing deeply.  She knew she couldn’t hide her daughter forever, but for the time being, she would try her damnest to continue to do so.

 

Alyssa stared at her mom out of puzzled blue eyes, wondering why she was being treated like some sort of secret, but nodded.  “I understand Mom.” She sighed, wrapping her arms around Nicoya’s neck.  “So…does this mean I’m NOT in trouble?” She asked hopefully.

 

“No, you’re not in trouble anymore.” Nicoya soothed, stroking her back as they embraced, and sighed heavily.  She knew Alyssa liked Mark, there was a connection between them.  That’s why Nicoya was being so stern with her daughter about staying away from him because she didn’t want her daughter to get hurt.  She refused to let it happen and she wasn’t about to get involved with another wrestler.  “Tell ya what?  Why don’t you go put your shoes on and we’ll head to the arena, okay?  Momma has a lot to work to catch up from last night and you can hang out with Ashley if you want.” She smiled when her daughter rolled her eyes and shook her head with a smile.

 

Alyssa didn’t say another word after rolling her eyes, knowing her mom had skipped some work last night to return them to the hotel.  She obediently headed to her bedroom and slipped on her tennis shoes, taking her time to lace them up.  Finally, Alyssa came out, her backpack of stuff to do over her shoulders.  “I’m ready, Mom.” She announced softly.

 

Nicoya smiled over at her daughter and nodded, taking her hand, and lead her out of the hotel room, carrying her black bag over her shoulder.  It held her laptop and documents she’d need to write out the next script for that following week’s show.  Sometimes, the job got stressful, but Nicoya loved it, even after all the shit happened with her ex-boyfriend.  She looked down at her daughter as they arrived at the elevator and let her press the button, shaking her head as she laughed quietly.  Alyssa was already a bundle of energy.  A trait she no doubt inherited from her father.  Sometimes, Nicoya wondered what he would think if he could see this beautiful angel and know that she was part of him.  Then she thought about what she’d seen him doing with Torrie Wilson on the RAW brand and immediately squashed that thought, refusing to subject her daughter to the same hurt and betrayal as she felt.  Her thoughts were broken as the elevator doors opened and they stepped inside, pressing the lobby floor.

 

Alyssa sighed, moving to lean back against the wall only to find her bump into something that wasn’t the elevator panel.  She tilted her head back, eyes widening when she seen Mark, and stepped away, looking at the doors.  Remembering she wasn’t supposed to talk to him anymore.  Mark arched a curious eyebrow, wondering where the little chatterbox from earlier was, and cleared his throat.  “Mom said I’m not supposed to talk to you anymore.” Alyssa explained, peeking over her shoulder to find him about to speak.

 

Nicoya groaned when she heard that, sighing heavily, and dropped her head forward, knowing exactly who was behind them.  She bit her bottom lip, keeping her back to him, flat out refusing to turn around, and felt like dying.  She wished the floor beneath would open up and swallow her whole, but knew it wouldn’t happen.  This was just her luck as she held her daughter’s hand tightly in her grasp, but not to the point of hurting her, wishing this elevator would go faster.  She felt her cheeks inflaming with embarrassment.  Leave it to her daughter to dig her grave for her.

 

“MOM!” Alyssa shrieked when the elevator lurched.  “WHAT WAS THAT?” She clung to Nicoya, freaking out royally.

 

Mark cursed, looking up, wondering that himself.  “It’s just a little glitch, angel.” He said down to Alyssa, his tone soft and reassuring.  He grunted when the elevator lurched again before staring back up, heading towards the top floor.

 

“We’re going the wrong way!  We’re gonna die!” Alyssa shrieked, tears pooling in her blue eyes, overreacting like any normal eight year old would.

 

Nicoya’s midnight blue eyes widened and immediately bent down to pull her daughter in her arms, holding her tightly to her, and squeezed her eyes shut.  “Shhh it’s okay, Alyssa.  Calm down, baby girl.” She whispered soothingly, groaning when the elevator gave another lurch, and ended up falling back, hitting the wall with Alyssa curled up on her lap as she sighed.  ‘Damn it, what’s going on?!’ She thought angrily, raking a hand through her hair, and tried remaining calm for her daughter’s sake.

 

Mark took quick inventory of the two girls.  Nicoya looked pale, but determined, apparently hiding whatever she was thinking.  Alyssa was on the verge of hysterics.  He walked over to the control panel, pressing the CALL button.  Only to wind up with a bunch of static.  He looked up when he heard a groaning sound, green eyes narrowing.

 

Nicoya was rocking her daughter in her arms, soothing her the best she could, and looked up at Mark, wondering what could be wrong with the elevator.  “What is it?” She quietly asked, not wanting to startle her daughter, who was still trembling and crying harshly.  “Calm down, Aly.  Nothing is going to happen to us, baby girl I promise.” She cooed to her, but never took her eyes from Mark.

 

Mark shrugged.  “Don’t know.  Gears might not be oiled up, or the riggin’ is…” He trailed off, sighing heavily, and pressed the emergency button on the control panel before looking up.  He easily removed one of the panels that compromised the compartments ceiling and gripped the edges. 

 

“Mom…what is he doing?” Alyssa demanded when all she could see was Mark’s legs dangling.  “Ain’t he a little big to be doing that?”

 

“Oh my god!  Mr. Calaway, get down here now before you hurt yourself!” Nicoya shouted in surprise, holding her daughter tighter to her, and sighed when Alyssa tried getting up to follow him.  “No Aly, stay here.” She ordered, pulling her back down to sit with her, and couldn’t believe what Mark was doing.  The man was going to get himself killed!

 

“Tell ya what, stop callin’ me that and I’ll think on it.” Mark replied, his legs disappearing from view.

 

“MOM!  Where’d he go?” Alyssa shrieked, feeling the elevator sway followed by the obvious thuds of Mark’s heavy boots then another creaking sound.  “MOMMY!”

 

Nicoya cringed when she heard that and sighed, hearing Alyssa’s worried tone for this man, and shook her head.  “Mark, get down here before you cause Alyssa to have a heart attack!” She called up to him, seeing her daughter’s eyes widened, and held her tighter to her.  “He’s on top of the elevator, baby girl.  Just stay put.” She soothed Alyssa and groaned when her daughter became hysterical again.

 

Mark’s head and arms appeared in the elevator, dangling.  “Come here, angel.” He ordered, not caring about what her mother thought at the moment. 

 

“Nuh-uh!” Alyssa whimpered, shaking her head furiously.

 

“You want out of here, don’tcha?” Mark asked, raising an eyebrow at her.

 

Alyssa stared into his eyes for a minute before jumping into the air, letting him catch her and pull her up as she shouted, “Whoa, this is cool!”

 

“MARK CALAWAY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Nicoya shrieked in fear, not believing Alyssa bounded out of her arms, and was on her feet instantly.  She was shaking from head to toe, worried sick about her baby girl, and began to feel tears burn her eyes.  “Alyssa, get down here NOW!!” She shouted, raking a hand through her black hair, and felt the elevator lurch again.  “ALYSSA!”

 

Mark’s arms appeared in the carriage again, grabbing Nicoya by the arms, and slowly pulled her struggling form up.  He stood up, looping an arm around her waist to steady her and gestured to where Alyssa was standing.  “Mom, look!” Alyssa pointed up about four feet above them to where the sixth floor elevator doors had been pried open.  “See what Mark did?”

 

“You ready to get out of here?” Mark asked, still holding onto Nicoya with one arm, reaching out for Alyssa’s hand.  “Careful angel, mind yer step now.”

 

Nicoya swallowed hard, the tears brimming her eyelids, and watched as her daughter watched her step before grabbing her hand.  She immediately pulled her into her arms and stroked her black hair as she looked up at the open doors.  “How did you-” Her words died in her throat when Mark lifted her and Alyssa up with ease through the door, causing them to back away, and Nicoya immediately got on her knees, examining her daughter.  “Are you hurt, baby girl?  Did anything hit you?” She was trying to calm down and started crying when she seen Alyssa was perfectly safe, wrapping her arms around her, and hugged her tightly, squeezing her.

 

“I’m fine!” Alyssa said impatiently, trying to wiggle free.  “MOM!  I can’t breathe!” She whined.  “Where’s Mark?”

 

“Right here angel.” Mark replied, hoisting himself up through the cap in the now closing doors.  “Christ…now it’s workin’.” He grunted, using one massive arm to push open the doors again, barely getting through without getting clipped.

 

Alyssa tossed herself into his arms, letting him pick her up, burying her face in his neck, and asked, “How’d you DO that?”

 

Nicoya watched her daughter run into Mark’s arms and slowly rose to her feet, wiping her tears away, and walked over, running her fingers through her soft black hair.  “You scared me to death, Alyssa Marie!  Don’t you EVER do that again!” She had to walk away to catch her breath, pressing a hand to her stomach, and allowed her daughter to have a moment alone with her savior.  Her savior.  Nicoya had to smile at that as she took a few deep breaths, trying to calm her racing heart.  Alyssa literally scared her to death.  “Christ, I’m gonna have a head full of gray at this rate.” She whispered to herself.

 

“Give her a minute.” Mark whispered when he seen Alyssa was about to call out to her mother.  “She’s a bit scared.”

 

“Why?  That was so cool!” Alyssa exclaimed, looking confused, her previous terror forgotten.  “I thought it was fun.”

 

“Bit of a daredevil aren’t ya, angel?” Mark asked, looking amused as he moved her so she was riding piggyback on him.

 

“Uh huh.” Alyssa agreed, her arms wrapped around his neck.

 

“Are you quite finished scaring your mother to death?” Nicoya finally asked, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and sighed heavily when her daughter just stuck her tongue out at her.  She then turned her attention to Mark and cleared her throat.  “Thanks for…doing that for us…Mr-Mark.” She caught herself this time and raked a hand through her hair.

 

Mark shrugged, grinning when Alyssa squealed.  “Not a problem, Ms. Harris.” He replied nonchalantly.

 

“Her name is Nicoya.” Alyssa whispered in his ear.

 

“I think she might prefer Ms. Harris, angel.” Mark whispered back, trying not to smile.

 

“Good point.”

 

“You can call me Coya or Nico if you want, Mark.” She said, smiling up at her daughter, though her heart felt like it was lodged in her throat.  “I hate being called Nicoya.” She informed him, shaking her head when Alyssa just smirked back down at her, and sighed resignedly.  “Alright fine, you can talk to him, Aly, but no one else.” Her voice got stern and narrowed her eyes a bit at her daughter.  “Got it?”

 

Alyssa nodded eagerly, looking like Christmas had just come early.  She wrapped her arms even tighter around Mark’s throat, not even realizing she’d just cut off his circulation.  “You hear that?” She asked excitedly.

 

Mark gently loosened her hold on him and nodded, “I heard little one, mind lettin’ me breathe some?”

 

“Oops!” Alyssa laughed happily.  “Hey Mom, can he be my new babysitter when you gotta do something?  PLEASE?”

 

“Honey, he’s very busy…” Nicoya hesitated, biting her bottom lip, seeing the pleading look in her daughter’s eyes, and sighed heavily.  “Only if he approves.” She finally said, cringing when she began to squeal, and couldn’t stop laughing if she tried at the look on Mark’s face.  “I do believe you have a new crush, Mark.” She pointed out, staring pointedly at her daughter, who just grinned proudly.  “She’s smitten with you.”

 

“I noticed.” Mark replied, not seeming too bothered with it.  “She’s a cutie.” He grinned broadly when Alyssa enthusiastically agreed and fell into step with Nicoya.  “I think it might be a good idea to take the stairs this time.”

 

“Hey…ya gonna watch me or not?” Alyssa demanded, tugging on his hair to get his attention back.

 

“If yer momma don’t mind, I’d love too.” Mark replied, meaning what he said, having become completely entranced with this little girl.

 

“I already told you I don’t mind as long as he approves.” Nicoya replied, sighing when her daughter started jumping up and down.  She groaned, wondering what she just got herself into with this situation, and felt like slapping herself for even agreeing to this.  The man did save them after all so in a way, he felt in debt to him, even though he’d scared the Hell out of her.  “I hope you can handle her.” She commented and smirked down at her daughter, who was lit up like stars.  “She’s a handful.  One big ball of energy.” She sighed as they finally arrived in the hotel lobby, her black bag still slung over her shoulder.

 

“Hey!  You can show me more of the punching thing!  Can you show me how to do the tombstone?  Does it hurt?  Do you really drop people on their head?” Alyssa demanded eagerly, shooting questions off left and right out of her mouth.

 

“No, yes and sometimes.” Mark answered, not missing a beat.  He followed them out to the back parking lot.  “Well kiddo, this is where we part ways.”

 

“Oh Mom…” Alyssa groaned, not wanting to leave him yet.  “He has a MOTORCYCLE, can I ride it?  Pretty, pretty please?”

 

“No, absolutely not, Alyssa.” Nicoya shook her head emphatically, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and groaned when she started throwing a fit.  “I said NO!” She shouted, her voice stern, and furrowed her eyebrows together.  “Bikes kill, Alyssa Marie!  Now come on, we’re already running late enough as it is.” She extended her hand to her and dropped it when Alyssa refused to take it.  “If you don’t get your little ass over there, I’m not letting mark watch you.” She threatened, raising an eyebrow.

 

 

“Mark, do bikes really kill?” Alyssa asked curiously, completely ignoring her mother.

 

“Depends on the driver, angel, but stop arguin’ with yer momma.  She doesn’t want ya ridin’ and I can’t blame her.  She has every right to be scared.” Mark said, staring down at Alyssa firmly.

 

Alyssa nodded, appearing to take his word as gospel, and trotted over to her mother.  “We’re gonna go to the arena now?” She asked her mother sweetly.

 

Sighing heavily, Nicoya already looked exhausted as she nodded, watching her daughter scamper off toward the car.  “Thanks, Mark.” She said softly, smiling at him, and raked a hand through her hair before venturing off to join her daughter.

 

Chapter 4

 

A few minutes later, they were on the road and Nicoya smiled as she watched her daughter gaze at Mark out of her window.  “What makes you so attached to him, Aly?” She asked curiously, wondering where this fascination was coming from.

 

“I don’t know…” Alyssa shrugged, peeling her eyes away from Mark as he flashed her a quick grin and pulled ahead of them.  “He’s not as bad as people make him out to be is he, Mommy?  He’s not mean or angry.” She tapped her chin thoughtfully, forehead scrunched together.  “Why don’t you like him?”

 

“It’s not that I don’t like him, baby girl.  It’s just…complicated.” Nicoya sighed heavily, wishing she didn’t have to keep things hidden from her daughter, but she had no choice.  Some things were better kept hidden as Nicoya watched Mark pull in front of them and shook her head as they drove to the arena.  Once they arrived, Nicoya slid out, grabbing Alyssa’s hand before she could rush over to the doors, and grabbed her bag before heading inside.  “You’re going to be the death of me one day, Alyssa.”

 

“How am I going to be the death of you, Mom?” Alyssa asked curiously, allowing herself to be pulled into the arena, looking confused.  “I’m not dangerous am I?”

 

“No sweetheart, you’re not.” Nicoya reassured her daughter with a smile and walked inside the arena.  She immediately stopped dead in her tracks, causing Alyssa to bump into her, and felt her eyes widen in shock at how many people were here.  ‘What is going on?’ She immediately thought and grabbed Alyssa’s hand tightly in her own.  “Don’t you dare leave my sight, Alyssa Marie or you’ll be in big trouble.” She warned, complete seriousness in her eyes, and started heading toward her office.

 

Alyssa didn’t need to be told twice about this.  There were way too many people for her to even think about trying to run off.  She clung to Nicoya, wincing when she was tugged between the wrestlers.  Some not even appearing to notice her.  “Mom, who are all these guys?  What’s going on?” The little girl questioned, a hint of fear in her voice.

 

“I don’t know, baby girl.  Come here.” She stated, lifting her little girl in her arms, and smiled when Alyssa wrapped her legs around her waist and her arms around her neck, burying her face in it.  “It’s okay, Aly.  It’ll be okay, sweetheart.” She cooed to her, knowing Alyssa was scared because she didn’t know what was going on.

 

“Where’re we supposed to go?” Alyssa whispered, her eyes wide as she stared over her mom’s shoulder.  “I can’t see any of the signs of the doors like usual.” She smiled slightly when she seen Mark appeared in the hallway, a little pathway being made for him.  “You should get behind Mark, Mom, everyone’s making way.  Why?  I thought he didn’t cut people up….”

 

“Alyssa, be quiet for a minute please.” Nicoya stated, holding her daughter tightly and tossed her bag over her shoulder as they finally arrived in her office.  She barely managed to get the door open, having to shove Melina out of her way, and slammed the door behind her before setting her daughter down.  “Go over to the couch and relax.  I have work to do.” She stated, sitting down in her chair, and had to stop to catch her breath.  What the Hell was going on?

 

Alyssa groaned, knowing that somehow things were going to be much different from now on.  She settled down on the couch, picking up the tiny remote that rested on the arm, and started flicking through channels.  Getting bored finally, Alyssa switched it so she could watch the cameras panning the hallway.  “Can I get that?” She asked eagerly when someone knocked on Nicoya’s office door.

 

“No, stay put, Alyssa.” She ordered, clearing her throat, and raked a hand through her hair as she sighed heavily.  “Come in!” She called out, hoping they heard her because it sounded like there was a huge circus in the backstage area.  This wasn’t a pay-per-view weekend so what was going on?  Nicoya felt something in the pit of her stomach telling her that the person who stopped in her office now would have the answer and she wasn’t going to like it one bit.

 

Matt opened the door, ushering Ashley and Kyra inside, keeping them away from Jeff, who wasn’t happy because they’d both smacked him upside his head.  “KNOCK IT OFF!” He ordered when they rounded on him. 

 

“Coya, thank god…” Kyra spun around alongside Ashley, who was her twin sister, tempted to strangle someone’s neck, but seeing her friend again overrode that. 

 

“Um, Mom?  Which one is which?” Alyssa demanded, bouncing in place, ready to shell out some hugs, but not sure who was who.  They were in different clothes, but other than that, it was hard to tell between Ashley and Kyra.  One of their many tricks they loved pulling on the Hardy brothers since Kyra was dating Jeff and Ashley was with Matt.  “Arms up!” The twins laughed, raising their arms up in the air, waiting patiently as Alyssa inspected them.  “Ky!” Alyssa hugged her, giggling when she was scooped up.  “Ohhh Jeffy too!”

 

Jeff grinned as he lifted the little girl in his arms, after taking her from Kyra’s arms, and kissed her cheek, rubbing his nose against hers.  “Hey munchkin!  What’s crackin’, jackin’?” He asked with a grin, laughing when Alyssa started giggling, and looked over at Nicoya, immediately wiping the grin off of his face.  “Coya, there’s something we need to tell you…”

 

“Christ, I knew it.  I knew all of you were here to deliver me bad news.” She grumbled, raking a hand through her black hair, and took a deep breath to calm her racing heart.  “What is it, guys?  What’s going on and why are there so many people here on a Smackdown! show?”

 

Ashley cleared her throat, sharing a look with Kyra before both glanced at Matt.  “Why do I always have to be the bearer of bad news?” Matt demanded, raising both of his hands up into the air exasperated.

 

Kyra rolled her eyes.  “Raw and Smackdown!...have been merged.  We’re all one big show again, Coya.” She finally said, knowing an explosion was about to happen. 

 

“What?  You mean I get to see you and Jeff all the time now?” Alyssa asked, sounding positively thrilled.

 

“WHAT?!” Nicoya exploded, causing everyone, even her daughter, to jump about a foot away from her.  “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN WE’RE MERGING?!” She screamed, not believing what was happening, and suddenly felt tears welling up in her eyes as she shook her head frantically.  “Oh god…”  She immediately grabbed Alyssa’s hand and began packing her things away.  “I need to go NOW!  We need to leave.  We can’t be here.  I’ll do something.” She was rambling incoherently as the tears began sliding down her cheeks.

 

Jeff sighed as he dropped his head forward, shaking it back and forth solemnly, already knowing what kind of reaction Nicoya would have.  “Coya, you know Vince won’t allow it…” He reminded her softly.

 

“Coya, calm down!  You know we’re here for you.  We’ll help you out with…everything.” Ashley said, taking a hesitant step towards Nicoya.

 

Kyra sighed, rubbing the heel of her hand against her forehead.  “There’s four of us, Coya, you know we don’t mind helping out.” She already knew about the babysitting for Alyssa as well as the keeping her away from scumbag.  Plus, her brother not knowing she worked for the company.

 

“Jeff’s right, you can’t just leave.  Vince would haul you into court so fast, your head would spin, honey.” Matt chimed in, not wanting Nicoya to leave, hating that she always ran from her problems.

 

“Um…someone mind telling me what’s going on?” Alyssa demanded, walking over to tug on Matt’s hand impatiently.

 

“Let him!!  Christ, he CAN’T see Alyssa!  He just can’t!  He’ll know and my brother…” Nicoya felt her head spinning out of control as she plopped down in her chair, blinking rapidly, and finally broke down as the shock wore off.  “How could this happen to me?  I was so careful!  I don’t have any place to send her!  I REFUSE to subject her to my grandparent’s abuse!  What am I going to do?” She cried harder, burying her face in her hands, and hunched over, sobs beginning to take over.  Her ex-boyfriend and brother were going to be on the same show that she worked on and she’d have to work with them because they were wrestlers.  She was the lead script writer and therefore, all the final decisions went through her after Vince.

 

“Coya…” Jeff felt his heart break for her, sighing heavily as he lifted Alyssa up in his arms, and hugged her tightly.  “Honey, your momma had some bad experiences with a few people who work here.  And yes, you’ll get to see me and Ky more.” He grinned at her, trying to cheer her up.  Even though he knew the little girl was scared to death of how her mother was acting right now.

 

Ashley looked like she didn’t know what to do or say.  She chewed on her thumbnail for a few minutes, trying to figure out something to say to make Nicoya feel better.  “I usually don’t have anything to do besides my backstage shots.” Kyra said slowly.  “I could watch her at the hotel for you, Coya.” Matt nodded in agreement, trying to help Nicoya anyway he could.

 

“Who’s HE and you have a brother, Mom?  I have an uncle?  Who is he?  Can I meet him?  What’s his name?” Alyssa was running off at the mouth with her questions again, going one hundred miles a minute it seemed. 

 

“No, you are not allowed to meet ANYONE in this company, Alyssa Marie.  I’m hiring you a babysitter and you’re staying at the hotel from now on.  No ifs, ands or buts about it, young lady.” Nicoya’s tone was final as she stood up from her chair, raking a hand through her hair, not believing this was happening.  She knew if her ex-boyfriend got wind of her having a daughter, all Hell would break loose, not to mention her brother.  She hadn’t seen him since she was ten years old so she doubted he’d recognize her so she was safe as far as that was concerned.  “And you’re not staying with Mark either.  I don’t trust him, no matter what happened today.  This has gotten serious now.” She raked a hand through her hair and began pacing back and forth, chewing her thumbnail.

 

Jeff groaned when Alyssa started throwing a fit and bounded out of his arms, causing him to sigh heavily, and wrapped his arm around Kyra’s shoulders.  “This sucks.” He muttered under his breath.

 

“MOM, YOU PROMISED NO BABYSITTERS BESIDES MARK AND ASHLEY!” Alyssa screamed, hands on her hips, throwing a temper tantrum.  “I’M NOT-” She looked up when Ashley clamped a hand on her mouth, glaring.

 

“Stop yelling at your mom, she’s got enough on her plate right now, Alyssa.” Ashley ordered firmly.

 

Kyra winced when Alyssa tossed herself into her arms, kneeling down to hold her.  “Come on, Aly, it won’t be that bad…” She said softly, trying to calm the little girl down.

 

“I’ll run away if she does it.” Alyssa promised gravely.  “I will.  I want one of you to watch me.  Mom, why can’t Ash and Ky watch me?  Why can’t Mark?  Especially after today!”

 

“Mark?  What is up with Mark?  I thought you wanted him to stay away?” Matt questioned, raising a black eyebrow in question at Nicoya, wondering what the Hell had happened.

 

“Alyssa Marie Harris, one more word out of your mouth and I swear I’ll make you REGRET IT!” She hissed back at her daughter, her midnight blue eyes shooting fire, and sighed heavily as she looked at Matt solemnly.  She went into the explanation about how Mark saved Alyssa and her from the elevator today and how Alyssa asked Mark to be her babysitter.  She agreed because she felt she owed him.  “That’s not going to happen anymore though.  Not with that asshole and my brother lurking around.  This has gotten serious and if I would’ve known prior to taking her from my grandparents, I would’ve sent her somewhere else.” She started pacing again as everyone just stared at her.  “She has a fascination with Mark and I don’t know why.  Don’t fucking ask me, but she’s NOT coming to the arenas anymore.  The subject is CLOSED.  I’m hiring a babysitter because you all are too busy to deal with her.  Just let me handle this and if she even THINKS about running away, then I’ll make sure she regrets attempting it.” Nicoya’s tone was firm and final, no room for discussion or argument.  She was going to do what was right for her daughter, even if Alyssa hated her for it.

 

“Coya, we’re not too busy, but if you feel that way, then that’s fine.  I’ll respect your wishes.” Jeff replied lowly, his green eyes narrowed somewhat, and sighed heavily, his heart breaking for the little girl.  He just wished Nicoya would open up her damned eyes and realize how much she was hurting her daughter, even though that wouldn’t happen.  Not after finding out her ex and brother were on the same show as her now.

 

Alyssa gasped, tears coursing down her face, her blue eyes wide with emotion.  “I HATE YOUR STUPID JOB!” She screamed, glaring at her mother from the safety of Kyra’s arms.  “You always ruin everything!” She sobbed, sounding like her heart would break.  “Now I won’t ever get to see anyone!” She sniffled, letting Kyra wipe away her tears with a blue bandana she snagged from Jeff’s back pocket.

 

Matt sighed heavily, stuffing his hands in his pockets, his heart breaking for both Nicoya and Alyssa.  “Pumpkin…” He began, shutting up with Ashley nudged him.

 

Sighing heavily, Nicoya didn’t like all the stares she was receiving from her friends, and gently, but firmly pulled her daughter out of Kyra’s arms.  She bent down to be eye level with her and felt her own tears course down her cheeks.  “Alyssa, I’m only doing what I feel is right, sweetheart…” She dropped her head when Alyssa began walking away from her and slowly stood up, wrapping her arms around herself, and stared at the wall.  No matter what, Nicoya knew she was screwed.  He was going to find out even if she did start hiding Alyssa out because of the others who’d came in contact with her.  “Alright,” She finally spoke, turning around to face her daughter, and wiped her tears away.  “This is my mistake.  I made this choice and I’m going to suffer for it, not my daughter.  She can stay at the arenas with me and she can stay with Mark or whoever she wishes as LONG as I know them.” Nicoya knew her change of heart was because of what her daughter said, but she didn’t care.  She wasn’t going to allow her brother and ex to chase her daughter away from her.

 

“Now THAT’S the Coya we ALL know and LOVE!” Jeff shouted with joy and started doing the chicken dance, grinning like an adorable idiot.  “Oh yeah, Coya is da WOMAN!” He began clucking like a chicken.  “And Alyssa is da MUNCHKIN!”

 

“I’d forgotten what a doofus he is.” Alyssa commented, trying to smile, but still feeling too miserable to do so after her outburst.

 

Kyra nodded, studying her boyfriend and replied, “Yeah, he is a doofus.”

 

Ashley walked over to hug Nicoya.  “Don’t worry so much, Coya.  We’re all going to do our best to make sure everything works out.” She promised, wishing she could do more.

 

Nodding, Nicoya hugged her back, not able to stop laughing at Jeff’s hilarious antics, and walked over as she bent down to be eye level with her daughter again.  “There are two people you need to stay away from, baby girl alright?” When Alyssa nodded, Nicoya smiled as she guided her over to the couch and sat down.  “The first is Stone Cold Steve Austin.  His real name is Steve Williams, you with me so far?”

 

“Stone Cold, Steve Williams.  Got it.” Alyssa nodded, looking at Jeff, and busted out into a giggle.  “Mom, is he fruity?” Kyra and Ashley slumped against each other, laughing hysterically at that.

 

“Still mad at me, sweetheart?” Nicoya murmured softly in her daughter’s ear, hugging her close, ignoring her question about Jeff since she already knew the answer to that question.

 

“No…” Alyssa snuggled against her mother.  “I wasn’t mad…Well, maybe a little.  Who’s the other person I can’t be around?” She asked curiously, wanting to make sure she didn’t run into these people.

 

Chapter 5

 

Matt calmly walked over to Jeff, who was still doing the chicken dance, and poured the contents of his bottle on his brother’s head, grinning when Jeff started sputtering.  “That ought to cool down your jets there, Fruity.” He stated, causing the twins to start bursting out in more giggles.

 

Before Nicoya could even respond to her daughter’s question, a knock sounded at her office door, followed by Mark poking his head in.  She sighed when Alyssa instantly bounded off her lap over to him.  “Hello Mark.” She greeted softly, standing up from the couch, and couldn’t stop smiling at how flirtatious her daughter could be.  ‘Like father like daughter.’ She thought bitterly, but hid it well as she sat down at her desk, beginning her work for the night.

 

“You know what?  You all SUCK!” Jeff grumbled and stomped out of the door, groaning when he was tripped, and ended up colliding into a tray full of cables.  “Goddamn it!!”

 

Mark caught Alyssa, placing her on his hip, his green eyes taking in the rest of the people, shaking his head when he heard Jeff.  “Kid always did have two left feet till he hit the ropes.” He said evenly, grinning when Alyssa started chanting the word ‘Fruit’ in a sing song voice.  “What’s that about?”

 

Matt cleared his throat, moving over to stand next to Nicoya.  “You going to be alright?” He asked her softly, watching as Alyssa and Mark chatted.

 

“I’ll be fine.  Go on, Matthew.” She replied softly, patting his hand in reassurance, and turned around fully in her chair, ready to get busy on her work as Matt and the twins vacated her office.  “What can I do for you, Mark or did you come here to see my daughter?” She asked casually, not looking up, and leaned back in her chair as she looked over a script.

 

Mark chuckled, looking at her before gently setting Alyssa down.  “Actually, I came to see you.” He said, moving to sit down in the chair opposite her, clucking his tongue when Alyssa scrambled onto his lap.

 

“What about me?” Alyssa demanded, sounding a little jealous.

 

“Well you already knew I was here to see you.” He whispered in her ear.  “But I can’t leave yer momma out now can I?”

 

“Ohhh…” She understood now and snuggled into his lap.

 

Nicoya raised an eyebrow over at Mark curiously and slowly looked up from her papers so she was staring at him.  “What can I do for you?” She asked, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and smirked as her daughter became jealous.  She had more than a few traits from her father, but she wasn’t about to let that bother her.  She had to stay focused and not worry about her brother or her ex-boyfriend.  “If this is about your script, it’s not ready yet.” She informed him in a professional tone of voice.

 

Mark groaned softly upon hearing that.  “Any chance it’ll be done before Vince can decide to toy with my night?” He asked finally, not liking his boss’s habit of suddenly giving Mark a ‘line’ to do when he’d yet to receive his script.

 

“Unfortunately I’m a little behind, but I promise to have it done by the end of the night for you.” She replied and turned her attention back to the paperwork, picking up her pen, and stared the task, deciding to do Mark’s first.  Since he was so eager to have it.  She didn’t blame him, but at the same time, she knew her work load was doubled do to the merge of both brands.

 

Mark went to stand up only to find Alyssa crawling up on his shoulders, grunting when her heel got in his eye.  “Careful, angel.” He cautioned, feeling his hair going everywhere as she settled on his shoulders.

 

“Hey, you got grays coming in!” She pointed out, her blue eyes widened in wonder.

 

Mark groaned, “Thanks angel…” Though he didn’t sound thrilled about that revelation.

 

“I told you she was a handful.” Nicoya giggled as she reminded him, shaking her head, and leaned back in her chair, reading over the script.  Something wasn’t quite fitting this so she erased it and proceeded to try again while Alyssa was pestering Mark.  “Just say the word if you want her to leave you alone and I’ll make it happen, Mark.” She assured him with a smile before going back to her task.

 

“Nah…she’s fine.” Mark replied, growling when Alyssa started braiding his hair into tiny braids.  “Alright angel, that’s where I draw the line.”

 

“But you have such pretty hair!” Alyssa protested, giggling when he grabbed her by the waist and raised her up so she was touching the ceiling.  “Wow…you are really tall!  Mom, look!”

 

“No thank you.  Mom is trying to work, Aly.” Nicoya replied, her eyes glued on the paperwork, and sighed as she once again erased it before going back to her original idea.  She decided it would have to do since her brain wasn’t working at the moment and went to the next part of the script, which was easier than the first part.

 

“MOM!” Alyssa protested, shrieking when she started falling only to be caught in a firm, but gentle grip.  “That…was…AWESOME!” She grinned broadly, her knees shaking only a little bit when Mark set her on her feet on the floor.  “Can we do that again?”

 

Mark snuck a look at Nicoya before shaking his head.  “I don’t think so, angel.  She might see.” He teased.

 

Nicoya shook her head as she stopped writing and peered over her paperwork, her midnight blue eyes filled with wonder and amusement.  “Fine, I’m watching.” She laughed when Mark did it to her daughter again and felt her heart lodge in her throat when she seen him almost drop Alyssa.  “Okay enough of that.  I’ve had enough heart attacks for one day.” Mark cleared his throat, instantly setting Alyssa down, not wanting to upset her mother.

 

“Mom, that was so cool, like being on a ride at an amusement park or something.  You sure-” Alyssa didn’t finish that, deciding she had tested her mother’s patience enough for one night already.  “Can Mark take me to get something to drink?”

 

“I’m not angry or upset with either of you.” She assured her daughter, as if reading her mind, and peeked up at Mark before staring back at her daughter, nodding in approval.  “Go ahead, honey, ask Mark first though.” She stated, kissing her forehead, and turned back to stare down at her paperwork.

 

Alyssa turned her suddenly big blue eyes onto Mark, batting her black eyelashes at him.  “Please Mark, will you take me to the cafeteria for something to drink?” She asked in that over-the-top, too adorable for words, sweet voice.

 

Mark arched an eyebrow, appearing to think about it.  “I don’t know…” He drawled, laughing when she puckered her forehead into a frown.  “I’ll take ya, angel, only cause I’m feelin’ a bit parched myself.” He said finally, smirking when she snorted.  “Now…what is she allowed to have to drink, Ms. Harris?”

 

“I gave her a really hard time tonight so anything she wants, Mr. Calaway.” She replied solemnly, feeling horrible for causing her daughter’s temper to flare, and sighed as she raked a hand through her hair.  She smirked when Mark raised an eyebrow up at her and crossed her arms in front of her chest, having turned her attention on them.

 

“Anythin’ she wants?” Mark questioned, wanting to clarify what Nicoya just said.

 

“Ohhh-A Mountain Dew?” Alyssa suggested gleefully, looking back and forth between the two.  “Or an energy drink?”

 

Mark arched an eyebrow at Nicoya.  “Well Nico…” Her name just rolled off his tongue in a fine caress.  “It’s up to you.”

 

Sighing, Nicoya finally nodded her approval, surprised when she felt a shiver course down her spine from him saying her nickname, but she hid it exceptionally well.  “I hope you’re ready for her to be bouncing off the walls tonight, Mark.” She warned with a smirk and waved her fingers at them.  “Have fun you two.  Mark, bring my daughter back safely or you’ll answer to me.” She threatened, meaning what she said, and turned back to her paperwork.

 

“Wait-does this mean he don’t have to bring me back right away?” Alyssa asked excitedly, already bouncing off the walls.

 

Mark shook his head, trying to suppress a grin, and failed miserably.  “I’ll make sure to load her up on caffeine and bring her back straight to you.” He teased.

 

“You do and she’s staying with YOU tonight, Mark.” Nicoya informed him, causing Mark’s green eyes to widen, and smirked wickedly as she shook her head with a small laugh.  “So if I were you, I’d think CAREFULLY about allowing her to choose the type of drink she wants.” She tried not to snicker and wrote something else down for his script.

 

Alyssa was already dragging Mark to the door and called out, “See ya, Mom!”

 

Mark shot Nicoya one last look before being pulled out into the hallway, immediately scooping Alyssa up into his arms when he seen how packed it was.  “Christ…” He placed her on his shoulders.

 

“Wow…now that is a LOT of people.” The eight year old commented, her big blue eyes widened in wonder.

 

Nicoya sighed heavily as she leaned back in her chair, tapping her pen thoughtfully on the desk, and sighed when she heard a knock sound at her door.  “Come in!” She called, not taking her eyes from the script, and leaned forward on her desk, her eyes closed, rubbing her temples as the door opened and shut.

 

“Hey-Vince said to report here 'bout my script…” The words died on John Cena’s lips when he seen who was sitting behind the desk, for some reason not expecting to see her.  Even though he knew better.  “Coya…”

 

Her eyes instantly shot open when she heard his voice and took a deep, silent breath, exhaling it slowly, and rose from her chair, staring at her ex-boyfriend for the first time in eight months.  “The name is Ms. Harris to you, Mr. Cena.” She stated evenly, her midnight blue eyes iced over.  “And your script is not finished yet.  I will get it done and send it to you.” Her tone remained even.

 

John arched an eyebrow at her.  “Ms. Harris?  Mr. Cena?  Since when are we so formal with each other?” He asked, looking her over.  Eight months hadn’t done much to change her.  If anything, she was looking better than ever.  Though, he easily attributed that to the fact that it’d been so long since he last seen her.

 

“We became formal when you decided to end us for good.” She replied simply, her tone still even, and her eyes narrowed a little.  “I refuse to call you by your first name because I don’t respect you or know you.  Now then, as long as we’re on the same page, everything should be fine, Mr. Cena.  Your script will be finished when it’s finished.  Now please vacate my office so I can get back to doing my job.”

 

John nodded his head, blue eyes suddenly growing cold.  He walked over to the desk, placing his hands on it, leaning down so they were face to face.  He studied her expression, a disdainful look in her own iced over eyes, and smirked a little.  “I know you, Nicoya Harris.” He murmured before straightening up.  “Don’t be too long with that script, sweets.” He said before walking out.

 

As soon as he left, tears instantly slid down her cheeks as she hit her desk in frustration, not believing what just happened, and swallowed hard.  She couldn’t believe how cold John was toward her when he was the one who cheated on her in the first damned place!  “Screw him, he’s not worth it.” She whispered angrily, wiping her tears away, and sniffled a little before getting back to doing the scripts.

 

~!~

 

Mark watched curiously as Alyssa sucked down two Mountain Dews in a row, wondering how someone her size could hold that much pop without needing a call of nature break.  He flinched when she announced she had to pee, knowing he’d thought that way too soon.  “Um…Bathroom is right there.” He pointed.

 

Alyssa looked at him, crossing one leg over the other.  “But there’s a line!” She whimpered.

 

Mark cursed under his breath before carefully picking her up and heading over to the line.  “Ladies, this little girl needs to get in there.  Is there any way she can-”

 

“She has to wait like everyone else, ‘Taker.” Torrie said coldly, chuckling when Melina started snickering at her agreement.

 

Mark’s green eyes narrowed to slits at the Divas.  “GET THE HELL TO STEPPIN’ ALL OF YA!” He bellowed at them, watching them all scamper.

 

Alyssa whistled when the line suddenly vanished and commented, “Now THAT’S service.”

 

Mark was waiting against the wall, his cool green eyes taking in the suddenly woman free zone when Alyssa came walking out, wiping her still wet and slightly soapy hands on her jeans.  “Ready to head back to yer momma?” He asked, looking down at her.

 

“Not really.” Alyssa admitted.  “Can’t I just stay with you?”

 

“Maybe we oughta check with her first.” Mark said, not sure if Nicoya would really approve of that, and lead Alyssa by the hand back to Nicoya’s office.

 

Nicoya was hard at work, her entire focus on the scripts, trying to get them done.  She’d finished Mark’s so whenever he brought her daughter back, he could retrieve it.  She was saving John’s for last, just to spite him, wanting to show him she wasn’t intimidated or scared of him.  She also put her brother’s aside, not in the mood to even stare at it, and was working on Jeff’s.  She decided to teach him a lesson and put him in a match against Glen, who was known to most wrestling fans as Kane.  It would serve him right after what he did to her best friend, Kyra, earlier and what he’d said.  Kyra and Glen used to date way back in the day so when Jeff told her she could go suck his cock…that was the last straw for Nicoya.  Even though she despised Glen, she knew he could get the job done. 

 

She was busy finishing up the script for Matt when her office door opened, followed by her bouncing daughter and Mark, smiling softly back at them.  “Did you two have fun?” She teased gently, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and leaned back in her chair, propping her feet on the table.

 

“I had two Mountain Dews and then I really, really, really had to pee!’ Alyssa informed her mother, running over to hug her.  “I went to go to the bathroom and there was a LINE!  A really, really, really long line!” Mark leaned against the wall, folding his arms across his chest, chuckling softly.  “So Mark asked this blonde hair woman with some kinda dog to let me cut and she got snotty!” Alyssa made a face.  “Then another woman laughed at me and he went ‘GET THE HELL TO STEPPIN ALL OF YA!'  And wham!  No more line.”

 

“Wait a minute…” Nicoya’s eyes suddenly got a deep, angry blue as she slowly rose to her feet, staring over at Mark then her daughter.  There was only ONE Diva on the ENTIRE roster that carried a stupid dog with her everywhere and Nicoya felt her blood boiling as she began to tremble.  “Alyssa, what did she say to you, sweetheart?” She managed to ask, her tone deceptively calm.

 

Chapter 6

 

“All she said, Mom was that there was a line and that I’d have to wait my turn, but she was a real snotwad.” Alyssa said, totally oblivious that there might be something wrong.

 

“She didn’t really say or do anythin’, Nico.” Mark assured her, mildly intrigued now.  He generally steered clear of the gossip and the lives of his co-workers, but this time, he was a tad curious.

 

Nodding, Nicoya bent down to be eye level with her daughter, staring into her eyes, and took a deep breath to calm down.  “I want you to stay away from that woman, Alyssa.  She’s nothing, but trouble and I don’t want you talking to her.  Do you understand me?” She asked, her voice full of seriousness, and actually grabbed both of her hands, ignoring Mark’s presence for the time being.

 

Alyssa nodded, looking mildly curious herself.  She stared at her mother, debating whether this would be a good time or not to enquire what the deal was then decided against it.  “Alright Mom, I’ll stay away from her, alright?”

 

“Thank you, baby girl.” She whispered, kissing the top of her head, and raked a hand through her hair.  Not realizing her face was tear streaked from her unfortunate visit with John earlier while her daughter was out getting something to drink with Mark.

 

“Mom?  Have you been crying?” Alyssa asked, a frown marring her generally cherubic face.

 

Mark frowned, taking a step forward.  “She’s probably just sweatin’, angel.  Why don’t you grab that game you were goin’ on about and show it to me?” He suggested, waiting until Alyssa was rifling through her bag before offering Nicoya a bandana.  “You alright?” He asked softly.

 

“Thanks.” She whispered, taking his bandana, and wiped her tears away from her eyes.  Just the mere mention of that cunt Torrie Wilson caused tears to spring to Nicoya’s eyes since she was the Diva John cheated with on her.  She sighed heavily, turning her chair away from her daughter, not wanting her to see them.  The last thing she wanted to do was worry her precious angel as she took a deep breath.

 

“Okay…here it is.” Alyssa held up the game to him.

 

Mark kneeled down beside her, taking it and studying it intently.  “I think I’m a bit too old fer this.” He said solemnly.

 

“I think you are too.” Alyssa agreed, looking perfectly serious.  “So was she crying?”

 

“Nah…” Mark lied, smiling, and glanced back at Nicoya.  “You hungry?”

 

Nicoya didn’t know he was talking to her as she turned back around in her chair, smiling at her daughter, and looked back down at the two scripts she had left.  One was John’s and the other was her brother’s.  She sighed heavily, raking her hands through her hair, and gripped it tightly before raising an eyebrow.  “You gonna answer him or just let him stand there wondering, sweetheart?” She quietly asked Alyssa.

 

Alyssa smirked, looking mildly smug.  “He was talking to YOU, Mom.” She said, crossing her arms over her chest.  Mark held a hand up to his face, hiding his grin.  “You gonna answer him or just let him stand there wondering, sweetheart?”

 

Nicoya couldn’t help, but laugh softly at her daughter and could feel her cheeks tingeing red again, for the fourth time in the presence of this man.  “Alyssa, you’re going to get it.” She growled playfully and stood up from her desk, grabbing her daughter and started tickling mercilessly.  Her daughter’s squeals and laughter was the most beautiful sound in the world to her as she lifted her up and placed her on her hip, tapping her nose.  “Momma’s not hungry, sweetie, but if you want Mark to take you, ask him.” She then set her down and raked a hand through her hair, turning around to wipe the rest of her dried up tears away.

 

“Do I really have to ask?” Alyssa arched an eyebrow, shooting Mark a knowing stare, already knowing she had him wrapped around her little finger.

 

Mark glanced at the clock that was on the wall.  “We got time…” He said finally, shaking his head.  “You sure you don’t want us to bring you back somethin’, Nico?”

 

“You know something?” She glanced over at her paperwork, getting a smirk on her face, and walked over, staring into Mark’s beautiful green eyes, and then down at her daughter.  “I think I will take a small break and join you two for something to eat.” She smiled softly when her daughter started jumping up and down, shaking her head.

 

Mark smiled, nodding his head then looking down when Alyssa took his hand then her mother’s, arching an eyebrow at Nicoya.  Neither had time to say anything as Alyssa dragged them out into the hallway.  Mark halted to let Nicoya out first then followed, shaking his head when Alyssa linked hands with them again.  They walked inside the cafeteria a few minutes later and Nicoya instantly stopped in her tracks.  There he was.  Her brother.  The man she hadn’t seen in ten years and suddenly felt her appetite leave her.  She swallowed hard, pulling her daughter protectively toward her, her midnight blue eyes filling with unshed tears, and looked up at Mark. 

 

“I-I changed my mind…” She then turned on her heel abruptly and started down the hallway, dragging Alyssa with her.

 

“MOM!  I’m hungry!” Alyssa protested, dragging her feet, her stomach growling loudly as if on cue.  “Mom!  Mom!  My arm!”

 

“I’ll get you something later, Alyssa!” Nicoya argued back, walking slower, but still at a fast pace, raking a hand through her black hair.  She couldn’t face him.  Not yet.  Especially when he didn’t even know she worked for the same company he did.

 

“Later?  Why is it always later?” Alyssa demanded, clearly perturbed at the moment.  “Everything is ‘later with you, Mom!  What happened back there?”

 

“Alyssa Marie, clamp it shut NOW.” Nicoya ordered, walking into her office, and closed the door behind her as she sighed heavily.  “I’m not telling you anything because you’re too young to understand.”  She stated, seeing the perturbed look on her daughter’s face, and scrubbed her hand down it in frustration.  “It’s…complicated, alright sweet-” Her words died on her lips when her door swung open and there stood her ex-boyfriend, looking positively livid.  “Can I help you, Mr. Cena?” She asked hotly, her own temper about to spike, and shot a warning glare at her daughter not to say a word and pointed to the couch.

 

John didn’t look happy, his gaze moving onto Alyssa, who was sulking towards the couch, muttering under her breath.  “I didn’t know you had a daughter, COYA.” He said finally, emphasizing her name.

 

“That’s none of your business, Cena.  What the Hell do you want?” She demanded angrily, standing up from her chair, and walked over, crossing her arms in front of her chest, blocking Alyssa.  “I don’t have all night and the name is Ms. Harris to you or you can call me Nicoya, but you’re NOT calling me Coya.  That right was taken from you a long time ago, Cena.” Alyssa just watched on curiously, wondering who this guy was and what he did to piss off her mother.

 

John tried to look at Alyssa, only to wind up with Nicoya blocking his view every time, his blue eyes narrowing.  Then, he shrugged, a disarming smile on his face, and stated, “I’m here, MS. HARRIS, about my script.  Is it done yet?”

 

“No, it’s not finished yet.  When it is, I will send it to you.” Nicoya replied, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and kept blocking her daughter.  “Stop trying to look at MY daughter, Cena.  She’s no concern of yours.” She stated angrily, her midnight blue eyes shooting fire.

 

“I don’t know about that, Ms. Harris.  You bring her to work with you and everyone knows we all are one big happy family in the WWE.” John replied coolly, dropping to one knee, peering at Alyssa, who was peering right back.  “Hello sweetheart.”

 

“Mom?  Why is this doofus talking to me?” Alyssa asked, hiding her face with her hair.

 

“Because that’s exactly what he is, baby girl.  A doofus.  Mr. Cena, you’re scaring my daughter so you better knock it off before I call for security.” She threatened, backing up toward her daughter, and put her hand out, smiling slightly when Alyssa immediately took it.  “Why don’t you go find Torrie to torment and leave me and my daughter alone?  I’m not, nor will I ever be, your family, asshole!”

 

“Who’s Torrie?” Alyssa asked softly, glancing back and forth between the doofus and her mother.

 

“Still upset over that, Nicoya?” John scoffed, looking pointedly at Alyssa.  “It looks like I’m not the ONLY one who had fidelity problems, SWEETHEART.”

 

“Don’t worry about it, baby girl.  It’s not important.  Just be quiet.” She ordered her daughter gently, glaring back at John, and raked a hand through her hair.  “It doesn’t matter what happened in the past between us because I’ll never forgive you.  I never cheated on you either.  We dated on and OFF for eight years, Cena.  During the off period, yeah, I had a fling, so what?  Not like you didn’t have them every day of your life that you were dating me with someone else!”

 

John stood up, his blue eyes narrowing again as he stared at Nicoya coldly, finally nodding.  “Try not to be too much longer on that script.  The show started a while ago.  I would hope you can keep up with the added load or else you might wind up looking for a new job.” He said conversationally before heading towards the door.

 

“You DATED that dimbo?” Alyssa questioned in disbelief, scoffing in disgust.

 

Nicoya stifled her laughter as she turned around, lifting her daughter up, and placed her on her hip, rubbing her nose against hers.  “Yeah, honey.  I dated that dimbo.” She kissed her forehead and glared back at John, not believing the audacity of him, and walked over to her desk before throwing it on the floor to him.  “If you EVER threaten my job again, I will personally make sure Stephanie fines you.  I am great friends with the McMahon family, almost like their daughter and sibling, so don’t even get any ideas about trying to make me lose my job, Mr. Cena.  Your script is done now get out.”

 

John half smirked, looking somewhat smug.  “Thought it wasn’t ready yet, MS. HARRIS?” He asked innocently before walking out, whistling to himself.

 

“What a jerk.” Alyssa muttered, staring at her mother curiously.  “You never mention your past…” She said slowly, sounding hesitant.

 

“He is my past and it will stay that way, Alyssa.  You don’t need to know about what momma has went through.” She stated, releasing her daughter, and sat down in the chair as she blinked her tears back.  She knew it was going to be extremely hard to hide Alyssa from John, but she was willing to do just about anything to protect her daughter.  “Alyssa, you can’t tell him your name, alright?  You can’t even look at him.  Do you understand me?”

 

“Basically scream bloody murder if he ever approaches.  Got it.” Alyssa nodded, trying not to be curious, but finding it difficult.  “Is that the other guy you warned me about earlier, Mom?  When you told me to steer clear of that Stone Cold guy?” She asked.

 

Sighing, Nicoya nodded as she stared over at her daughter, sadness evident in her eyes.  “Yes, his name is John Cena and he’s a bad guy just like Steve Williams.  Stay away from both, Alyssa and don’t talk to them.  If you’re ever out with Mark and you see them, just ask him to take you somewhere else.” She instructed, running her hand down her daughter’s arm, knowing she was confused, but she refused to get into her past with her eight year old.

 

“Why don’t you tell Mark about them so he already knows?” Alyssa suggested, squinting her eyes.  “How am I supposed to remember all that plus the other kajillion and one rules you have for me?”

 

“You’ll remember because your brain soaks up information.” Nicoya stated promptly and sighed when he cell phone rang, raking a hand through her hair, and seen it was the terror twins.  She smiled a little and looked back at Alyssa.  “Momma needs to make a phone call.  Go play and then we’ll talk more.” She said and flipped open her cell phone, dialing Kyra’s number, and waited for her to answer.  Alyssa rolled her eyes, wondering why she always got shunted off to the side and headed over to her bag.  She pulled out a drawing paid and some crayons, scribbling furiously, muttering under her breath.  And she was still hungry!

 

“Coya!” Kyra greeted loudly, the sound of music blaring behind her along with a million other noises filling Nicoya’s ear.  “Ashley and I want you to come join us when you get done working!  Think you could for a few hours?” She asked, getting straight to the point.  “It’s a man free night!!”

 

“I’d love too, Kyra, I really would, but unfortunately, John came in here and upset Alyssa.  I have to spend time with her tonight.  Maybe some other time!” She shouted back into the phone, knowing that was the only way for the terror twins to hear her, and sighed when she seen the perturbed look on her daughter’s face.  “Plus, I need to take my angel here to get something to eat before she starves!” She laughed softly.

 

“Give the princess hugs and kisses from us!” Ashley shouted.  “Hey, put her on speakerphone for a quick sec!”

 

Alyssa wandered over when her mom called for her, staring down at her phone curiously, “Hello?”

 

“Angel!  Your song is playing!” Kyra laughed, holding her own cell out so Alyssa could hear the music.

 

Alyssa started dancing around, singing along.  “Mom!  Where are they?  Can we go?” She asked hopefully.

 

“No, they’re going out clubbing and you’re too young.” Nicoya said with a smile, sighing when her daughter started pouting just as another knock sounded at the door.  “Hey girls, gotta go.  I have another person to make happy or piss off.  Call me later!” She replied loudly before snapping the lid of her cell phone shut and looked up at her door.  “Come in!” She called out, pointing to the couch for Alyssa to go sit down on.

 

Steve Austin stepped in, his blue eyes quickly taking in the still dancing Alyssa before moving onto Nicoya.  “Hello, you must be Ms. Harris.  I’m Steve Austin.” He immediately introduced himself, holding out a hand for her to take.  “I was told yer the head script writer.”

 

Nicoya swallowed extremely hard when she heard Steve’s voice, having been looking down at his script, and took a deep breath to calm her racing heart.  “Alyssa, sit down please.” She instructed, standing up from her chair, and hesitantly slipped her hand into Steve’s.  Her brother’s.  The man she hadn’t seen since she was ten years old.  “Hello, Mr. Austin.  It’s nice to meet you.” She lied, her midnight blue eyes peering into his.

 

Chapter 7

 

Alyssa perked again when she heard the last name, guessing this was the other doofus she wasn’t allowed to talk too, and studied him curiously, making sure to look at her coloring when he glanced at her.  Steve nodded, offering a charming smile down at her.  “Thought I’d introduce, see if ya got anythin’ fresh fer me…” He shrugged his shoulder, his eyes moving onto Alyssa.  “Cute kid ya got.”

 

“Thanks.” She softly replied, sliding her hand out of his own, and sat down at her desk as she cleared her throat.  “Her name is Alyssa.” She stated, causing her daughter to look up, and gave her a silent look that said don’t worry about it.  She then turned her attention back to Steve and got his script, looking it over, and stapled it before handing it to him.  “There you go.  I hope it’s to your satisfactory, Mr. Austin.” Nicoya was glad her professional instincts were kicking in.

 

Steve didn’t move from his spot, just started flicking through the script, as was his habits.  He tended to get involved in the creative process, not about to leave everything up to the writers.  He’d seen some careers go down the toilet when wrestlers didn’t step up and say something was shitty.  Just left it alone.  They were in the ‘where are they now’ file.  Finally, he nodded, looking at her again, and said, “Very nice, Ms. Harris.”

 

“Glad you approve.” She replied softly and leaned back against her chair just as Alyssa came over, rubbing her stomach, and that caused Nicoya to sigh heavily.  “Alright sweetheart, go pack up your things and we’ll get going back to the hotel and then I’ll order you something.” She informed her daughter, knowing she was finished with the scripts for the night, and stifled a yawn.

 

Steve glanced down at Alyssa, winking at her when he caught her staring at him.  “Hey kiddo, what’s yer name?” He asked gently.

 

“Um…” Alyssa looked up at her mother questioningly.

 

“Oh, don’t worry, I’m a stranger I guess.” He laughed, stepping back and raising his hands.  “Nice meetin’ you lovely ladies.” He chuckled and walked out, script in hand.

 

“Okay, he didn’t seem that bad, Mom…” Alyssa observed once the man was out of earshot and eyesight.

 

“No, he didn’t.” She replied solemnly, sighing heavily, and closed her eyes as she put her head in her hands.  “Just…don’t tell him my name or anything about momma okay, Aly?  I don’t want him to know.” She looked back at her daughter, who had her head tilted in confusion, and sighed resignedly.  “Come on, let’s get going back to the hotel for some food.” She then stood up, unplugged her laptop, and packed it away.

 

Alyssa quickly had her things ready to go and waited patiently, walking with her mother, holding her hand.  “Why are you so scared of people knowing you?” She asked finally, having been puzzling over this for most of the night now.

 

“It’s…complicated, Alyssa.” Nicoya quietly answered, not wanting to get into her past, and sighed heavily.  She knew her daughter was getting curious, but she refused to talk about it.  What was she supposed to say?  Alyssa, John is your daddy and he’s not responsible enough to take care of you or even want you?  And what about her brother?  She hadn’t seen him since she was ten and here she was at the age of thirty!  That was two decades so it was no wonder why Steve didn’t recognize her.  He’d probably forgotten all about her when their parents divorced when she was fifteen.

 

Alyssa started to say something, but halted when she seen Mark stepping out of his dressing room, freshly showered and dressed, his bang slung over his shoulder.  “Hey Undie!” She greeted happily.

 

“Hey angel.” He greeted back, shaking his head and slowly crouched down to catch her when she flew over to him.  “Mind not callin’ me that?”

 

“I’ll think about it.” She giggled.  “What’cha doing?”

 

“Headin’ off to find somethin’ to eat.” He answered simply.

 

“So are we!” She informed with a grin, her blue eyes sparkling back at him.

 

Nicoya smiled back at them, not believing how cute Mark looked with her little girl, and mentally shook herself.  “We’re actually heading back to the hotel and getting some room service.” She stated quietly, knowing Mark was probably wondering about her actions earlier on in the cafeteria.  She couldn’t’ help it though.  When she seen Steve, she panicked and fled, like she always did.

 

Alyssa wrinkled her nose.  “Mom, take it from me, room service is beginning to royally suck.  Can’t we go somewhere and eat?  You know…with a table instead of our beds?”

 

Mark snorted, raking a hand through his damp hair, standing up with Alyssa on his hip.  “Yer mom looks tired, angel.  Maybe you should take her home and put her to bed.”

 

Alyssa suddenly looked at her mother with concern on her face and replied, “Yeah, she does look really white.”

 

“Why don’t you two go along without me?” Nicoya suggested, raking a hand through her hair, knowing she looked beat after dealing with several problems that night.  “Seriously, I trust you’ll take care of my daughter, Mark.  If you want to take her out somewhere for a quick bite to eat.” She smiled when Alyssa started jumping up and down on his hip, laughing softly, and shook her head as she pulled out some money and handed it to Mark for her daughter.  “Just don’t keep her out too late.”

 

Mark arched an eyebrow down at the money and stepped back without touching it.  “Keep it, she’s doin’ me a favor by keepin’ me company.” He said, looking down at the little girl.  “Ready to go eat somewhere with a table?”

 

Alyssa giggled, taking his hand.  “Yes!  See you later, Mom!” She waved before walking down the hallway with Mark, instantly chatting, her mouth going a mile a minute.

 

Nicoya shook her head, laughing softly, and shoved the money back in her pocket.  She then picked up her black bag and headed out of the arena, knowing Alyssa was in good hands with Mark.  For some ungodly reason, she trusted the man with her daughter’s life and wondered if it had something to do with the elevator ride.  She also knew he wasn’t one of those molester types as she closed the back doors behind her.  She stopped when she seen John and Torrie sucking face in the parking lot and felt instantly sick as he grabbed the Diva’s ass.  She immediately walked away from the scene and toward her car, trying to keep the tears in her eyes, and unlocked her rental on the key ring before putting her bag in the backseat.

 

John watched Torrie walk away, tilting his head to the side to watch her ass sway as she headed back inside the arena.  He didn’t bother asking her what for.  He didn’t really care too much.  He knew she’d be at his hotel room within an hour.  He started to unlock his own rental, but halted, spotting Nicoya and arched an eyebrow, heading over to her.  “Can we talk?” He asked, shoving his hands in the front pockets of his baggy jean shorts.

 

“Get away from me, John.” She ordered in a low, deadly voice, refusing to say a word to this man, especially after what she said.  She knew John and Torrie were fuck buddies, it was no secret, but that still didn’t make the pain in her heart any less intense.  “Go find your little whore and be happy and leave me the fuck alone.” She took a few deep breaths and blinked back the tears in her eyes as she closed her door after picking up the papers that fell out of her laptop bag.

 

John blocked her when she went to move past him.  “Nicoya, we work together,” He began gently.  “You’re going to have to face me sooner or later and this shit between us isn’t going to make it easy.  Can’t we…bury the hatchet?  And not in my head either.”

 

“I’m not being your friend or your enemy.  We are co-workers.  Nothing more, nothing less.  You come to me for your script and that’s it.  No more of this Coya bullshit because I don’t want you calling me that.  You lost that right, Cena.  You can call me Ms. Harris like the rest of them and leave me and my daughter alone.” She stated, laying out the terms on the table to him, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and refused to look at him as her eyes were glued to the keys that were in her hand.

 

“Your daughter…you see…that’s what has me really confused right now.  You said you conceived her with some fling one of our off times…” John trailed off thoughtfully.  “Who’s the guy, Nicoya?  Does she even know him or are you still being a super bitch who hates most men?”

 

“I told you.  I had a fling of my own back in the day when we first broke up and I got pregnant with her.  That’s why I took that year off from the road to have her.  She’s none of your concern, John.  She’s MY daughter and I love her with all my heart and I will do what I have to do to protect her from scumbags like you.  Now get out of my way and don’t ever ask me about my daughter again.” She ordered, her midnight blue eyes spitting fire back at him, and didn’t show one ounce of remorse from what she just said.  Even if he was Alyssa’s father, he had no rights to her, especially after all the times he’d broken Nicoya’s heart.  Maybe she was a super bitch, but she honestly didn’t care what people thought of her.  Especially this lowlife, cheating prick standing before her.

 

“You’re hiding something.” John said flatly.  “I’ll leave you alone, but one day Nicoya, that super bitch attitude of yours…” He shrugged, trailing off again.  “Enjoy your night.” He puckered his lips, whistling again as he headed to his own car, grinning when Torrie came walking back out.  “Hey baby!”

 

Tears instantly slid down her cheeks as Nicoya quickly got in her car and peeled out of the parking lot, spinning gravel right at John and Torrie, and took off.  She gripped the steering wheel tightly, not able to stop her tears from falling, and wished she would’ve never laid eyes on John Cena.  He was a lowlife prick and she hated him for breaking her heart.  She knew he was having his suspicions, but there was no way she was ever going to reveal to him that Alyssa was his.  She’d rather die a thousand deaths in the sun than allow it to happen.  She sniffled a little and turned the radio on, hearing Martina McBride’s ‘Anyway’, and started crying harder as she drove back to the hotel.  Hoping John left her and, more importantly, her daughter alone.

 

~!~

 

“You can eat a lot.” Alyssa commented, sipping her chocolate milk.

 

“So can you.” M ark chuckled, eyeing her empty plate.  She’d ordered the same dinner he had, minus the drink.  He was a water kind of guy while she professed to despise it.

 

“Mom should of came with us.  This chicken is really good.” Alyssa said, licking her lips, though she couldn’t eat another bite.

 

Mark glanced in his rearview mirror at the sleeping Alyssa, having sent his motorcycle on with the road crew and taking the car he’d reserved instead.  He shook his head, smiling slightly and turned down the radio.  The girl could eat, at least it was a healthy dinner though, minus the dessert.  He pulled into the parking lot of the hotel and got out, carefully pulling her into his arms.  Suddenly wondering which room she was in, Mark sighed, knowing he’d wind up at the front desk’s office prying information out of the clerk for Nicoya’s hotel room number.

 

Nicoya arrived back at the hotel and instantly ran herself a hot bubble bath, needing to have herself a good cry since Alyssa wasn’t there.  She had her legs drawn up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them, and her face was buried in her knees as the bubbles surrounded her.  Why did it still hurt her after eight months, knowing him and Torrie were fucking?  She sighed heavily and finally pulled herself from the tub an hour later, wrapping a red robe around her body after drying off, and sighed heavily when a knock sounded at her door.  She sniffled a little and walked over, opening it, and smiled when she seen Mark holding her sleeping daughter. 

 

“Come in.” She whispered, turning around, and raked a hand through her wet hair, trying to stop the tears from falling.

 

Mark frowned at her tears, but didn’t say a word, just turning so he could carry Alyssa in without bumping her head against the door frame.  He carried her to the other bedroom where Nicoya pointed and laid her down on the bed, pulling off her sneakers before covering her with the blanket.  Smiling slightly before standing up, Mark walked out into the other room.  “She ate a healthy dinner, all of it.” He said softly, letting her know he didn’t load Alyssa up on junk.  “You alright, Nico?”

 

“Thanks Mark.” She softly whispered, staring out the window, her arms wrapped around herself, and sniffled a little, not answering his question.  She honestly didn’t trust her voice to speak at the moment as she sighed heavily, wiping her tears away.  “She’s really taken with you.” She commented softly, her voice just barely audible, and tightened the robe around her a little more.

 

Mark nodded, raking a hand through his hair, not sure if she was alright or not.  Though he got the distinct impression she wasn’t.  “She’s a real sweet kid.  A little on the hyper side, but most kids are.” He replied softly.  “Looks like she wore herself down though, she was out the minute I put her in the car.”

 

“Good, she needs her rest.” She replied in the same tone of voice, sighing raggedly, and turned around, walking past him over to the door, peeking in at her daughter and smiled.  Alyssa was the most important thing to her and she would do everything in her power to make sure nobody hurt her.  “My little angel.” She murmured with a smile, walking into the room, and picked up her shoes, placing them in her bag before walking back out, closing the door, leaving it cracked incase Alyssa needed her.

 

Mark cleared his throat, not knowing what to say and offered a hesitant smile, feeling like this woman was a bit skittish.  “Well…if there’s nothin’ I can do fer ya, I’ll leave you to get yer rest.” He said finally.  “Thanks again for lettin’ Alyssa join me for dinner.  Maybe next time you’ll come with us.”

 

“Maybe.” She whispered softly, walking over to the bed, and sat down on it, raking her hands through her hair, sighing heavily.  She already knew she wasn’t getting any sleep that night, but she was going to try.  “Good night, Mark.” She softly said, staring straight ahead at the wall, her hands clasped tightly together with her elbows resting on her thighs.

 

Mark frowned, wondering why the Hell Nicoya wasn’t looking at him.  That slightly annoyed him.  He arched an eyebrow, wondering for the umpteenth time since arriving if she was alright.  “You okay Nico?  You look like somethin’ upset ya.  Look, if me takin’ Alyssa out bothered ya, I promise it won’t happen again.”

 

“No Mark, it’s not that.  I just…I had a run in tonight with two people that I have…pasts with.  You taking Alyssa out is fine with me.” She explained, wrapping her arms around herself, and closed her eyes, trying to make the tears stay in her eyes.  It was impossible, especially after the run ins she had that night with John.  Steve hadn’t been too bad, but John really got under her skin.  Like he always did.

 

Mark’s green eyes widened when he seen a few tears slipping down her cheeks and pulled a bandana out of his pocket, walking over to stand in front of her, holding it out.  “If anyone is botherin’ ya, or givin’ ya a hard time, let me know and I’ll…take care of it.”

 

Nicoya nodded back at him, taking his offered bandana, and wiped her tears away as she sighed heavily.  “Thanks Mark, but this is my problem and I’ll deal with it in my own way.  You’re a sweet man, but I’ll be fine.” She assured him, sniffling a little, and sighed heavily when a few more tears slipped down her cheeks.  It didn’t help that she couldn’t get the image of John making out with Torrie in the parking lot from earlier.

 

Mark awkwardly stuffed the rag away, nodding and backed towards the door, reaching behind him for the knob.  “If yer sure…” He sounded doubtful.  “I guess I’ll catch ya later, give the munchkin a good mornin’ from me since I doubt I’ll see her tomorrow.”

 

“I will, good night, Mark.” She softly responded and as soon as the door closed, Nicoya instantly collapsed on the bed, curling up in a tight ball, and proceeded to cry herself to sleep.  Her heart was shattering all over again and she knew there was no fixing it, especially with John around now since the brands were merged together again.

 

Chapter 8

 

“Mom’s asleep.” Alyssa whispered, peeking  back over her shoulder.

 

“Well I’m sure she won’t mind if I wake her up.” Ashley replied, her bluish gray eyes twinkling.  “Should we?”

 

Alyssa nodded and in a second, both were jumping on the bed as she shouted, “Mom!”

 

“Mommy!” Ashley giggled out, jumping on the bed with Alyssa, grinning from ear to ear.

 

Groaning, Nicoya could hear her daughter and Ashley bouncing on the bed, stuffing her face underneath the pillow.  “Children, let me sleep!” She growled out and when Alyssa didn’t stop, she got up and grabbed her, beginning to tickle her mercilessly, and then gave her a kiss on the cheek.  “That was from Mark.  He told me to wish you a good morning, sweetheart.”

 

“Mark, huh?” Ashley dropped down on the bed, sitting Indian style, pushing her hair back out of her face.  “Morning sleepyhead.” She greeted Nicoya, smiling brightly, looking bright eyed and bushytailed.  “So…what IS going on with you and Mark?”

 

“Nothing!” Alyssa said, sounding almost jealous.

 

“Nothing, Ashley.  He’s become a really great friend to Alyssa though and she’s smitten with him.  I think she has a crush.” She giggled when Alyssa began blushing and started tickling her again.  “Isn’t that right?  You have a brush on Mark don’tcha?” She teased and laughed, ignoring her tear streaked face.

 

“No!  He’s way too old for me!” Alyssa protested between her giggles.  “I just like him!” She shrieked, kicking her feet.  “Ashy, help me!”

 

Ashley grinned.  “You look like you’re doing fine to me, honeybunch.” She arched an eyebrow in curiosity.  “Mark, the Undertaker, Calaway hanging out with an eight year old…I always knew that man needed more friends.”

 

Nicoya started laughing at her daughter and smiled, stopping, and wrapped her arms around her from behind, kissing the top of her head.  “It’s adorable.  He’s like Alyssa’s savior or something because he saved us last night from that elevator.  You should see how much Alyssa has this man wrapped around her finger.  Who thought an eight year old could bring Mark Calaway to his knees?” Nicoya teased, laughing harder when Alyssa blushed, and kissed her cheek.  “And the funny part is that I actually trust him with her.”

 

Ashley looked amused.  “Well, stranger things have happened, I can’t think of any right now, but I’m sure they’re out there.” She giggled.

 

“Stop picking on him!  I’m telling!” Alyssa threatened, looking perturbed that her mother and Ashley were making fun of Mark.

 

Ashley slapped her hands on her cheeks, her face a picture of mock horror, “Oh no!” Alyssa looked like she was trying not to laugh.

 

“You two are goofballs.” Nicoya commented, releasing her daughter, and patted her bottom before sliding out of bed, stretching, and went to make a pot of coffee.  She wasn’t fully human without at least one cup of coffee in her as she poured the contents in the pot and waited for it to start up.  “So, how was the clubbing last night, Ash?”

 

Ashley rolled her eyes, moving so she was sitting on the edge of the bed, Alyssa sitting on the ground before her, and started braiding her hair.  “Don’t ask.  Let’s just say Skittles met Apples and they don’t mix.  Too bad you couldn’t make it.  It was entertaining for the most part.  What did you do last night?”

 

“Yeah Mom, what’d you do?” Alyssa chimed in, grinning as Ashley did her hair, truly interested in this conversation.

 

“I came back here, had a nice bubble bath, and after Mark dropped Alyssa off, I went to bed.” She answered, leaving the part out about crying, not wanting to frighten her daughter, and smiled softly down at her.  “You look cute in braids.” She teased with a giggle, kissing her daughter’s head, and walked over to the phone, sighing when a knock sounded at the door.  “You wanna get that, sweetheart?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Alyssa sighed heavily before bounding over to the door and opening it.  “Mom and Ashley were JUST talking about you.” Was her way of greeting Mark.

 

Mark arched an eyebrow, holding out the lightweight jacket she had left in his rental car, having been about to go swap it out for his motorcycle when he found the coat.  “Really now?”

 

Alyssa took it, nodding and pulled him in, closing the door behind them and answered, “Yup.”

 

Nicoya smiled when she seen Alyssa dragging this huge man by the hand inside her hotel room and couldn’t help, but start laughing along with Ashley.  “What did I tell you?  She’s got him wrapped around her finger.” She shook her head, standing up to pour herself a cup of coffee, knowing Ashley wasn’t fond of it.

 

“I can see that.  Morning, ‘Taker.” Ashley greeted.

 

“Mornin’, Punk.” Mark replied good-naturedly, calling Ashley her nickname he came up with for her.  “Wrapped around her finger huh, Nico?”

 

“All ten of them.” Alyssa piped up sweetly.  “Mom, aren’t you gonna offer Mark a cup of coffee?” She demanded, sounding appalled at how rude her mother was being.  “He does drink it you know!”

 

“Alyssa…” Mark trailed off, not sure what to say.

 

Ashley blinked when Alyssa instantly shut her mouth and smirked as she stated, “I’d say he’s got her wrapped too.”

 

“Good Lord child, I was setting mine down and then I was going to ask him if he wanted one.  Sheesh!” She shook her head and turned her attention to Mark, smirking at how much control he had over her little girl.  “I’m impressed.” She commented swiftly, looking over at Ashley.  “Would you like some coffee, Mark?” She finally asked, ready to go make him a cup if he wanted it.

 

Mark glanced down at Alyssa, who nodded firmly at him before sighing, mock bowing to her.  “Yes please.” He smiled at Nicoya.  “Punk, don’t start.” He cautioned when Ashley went to say something.

 

“Who me?  Never!” Ashley snickered, holding up her right hand all innocently.

 

“Hey Mark, ever thought about braids?” Alyssa asked curiously.

 

Mark studied Alyssa’s hair thoughtfully and shook his head as he replied, “Nope.”

 

Nicoya laughed at her daughter’s question and walked into the kitchen, making him a cup, and walked back out, handing it to him.  She was surprised when a shiver flowed down her arm when their fingers brushed together, but hid it well as she looked down at her daughter.  “Ashley, are you trying to make my baby girl look like Medusa?” She asked amusedly, seeing all the different braids in her hair.

 

“Medusa was a beautiful girl once…” Ashley countered quickly, smirking slightly.  “Besides, that’s snakes, not braids.”

 

“Snakes?  For hair?  That’s gross!” Alyssa shrieked, walking over to tug on the edge of Nicoya’s robe.  “Mom, I’m starving, feed me!” She tilted her head back, looking adorable.  “Love me, feed me, never leave me.” She batted her eyelashes, quoting the Garfield movie.  Mark was busying himself with his too hot coffee, having felt a tiny jolt of electricity when Nicoya’s fingers briefly met his own.  Though, he didn’t show it.

 

“Child, you are a bottomless pit!” Nicoya exclaimed, placing her hands on her hips, and groaned when Alyssa started jumping up and down, demanding food.  “Alright, alright calm down.” She shook her head, setting her own cup of coffee down, and pulled out the menu, handing it to her.  “Pick whatever you want.  Mark, if you want to stay to join us, you’re more than welcome too.” She added, looking up into his emerald green eyes, before looking over at Ashley.  “You can stay too even though you called me mommy earlier.”

 

“Woohoo!” Ashley mocked cheered, raising her fists into the air.  “Um…yeah, never mind, I was going to call Mattie, but I think he could use a rest.” She smirked, moving to browse the menu with Alyssa.

 

“I don’t want to intrude, I’ll just finish this-” Mark held up his mug as he paused.  “And be on my way.”

 

“NOOOOOO!  Mom, tell him he can’t leave!” Alyssa protested, her blue eyes pleading with her mother to make him stay.

 

“Honey, I can’t tell the man what to do.” Nicoya replied, staring at her daughter’s pleading blue eyes, and shrugged her shoulders, holding her hands up.  “I’m sorry, Aly, but if he doesn’t want to stay, then he don’t have too.  You gotta give the man a break.  You probably wore him out yesterday.” She smirked, her midnight blue eyes twinkling, but never looked up at Mark, her eyes focused on her daughter.

 

“I didn’t wear him out, he’s the Undertaker.” Alyssa argued matter-of-factly.  Mark shook his head, wondering when he became invincible.

 

“Shhhhhhhiiiiiiitttttttt…” Ashley roared, laughing her ass off now.  “You’d wear out Superman, kiddo!”

 

Alyssa rolled her eyes, looking up at Mark.  “So, will you stay?” She gave him her most pleading, adorable look, her big blue eyes getting even bigger.

 

“It doesn’t matter if he’s the Undertaker or not, Alyssa.  The man is still a human being outside of the ring.” Nicoya argued with her daughter, crossing her arms in front of her chest.  She smirked when Alyssa turned those big, puppy dog blue eyes on Mark, nudging Ashley, and whispered quietly, “Watch this.”

 

Mark groaned, well aware Nicoya and Ashley were watching him like hawks though he found he couldn’t say no to that cherubic little face.  “Fine.” He sighed defeated, cracking a grin when Alyssa started hooting and hollering.

 

“Told ya!” Alyssa spun around, shooting her mother a triumphant look.

 

“Holy Hell is she ever cocky.” Ashley commented, her eyebrow raised in question.

 

“Like her father.” Nicoya muttered under her breath, knowing Alyssa wouldn’t hear it, and sighed when Ashley gave her a knowing look.  It was true.  Alyssa got her cockiness from John and Nicoya knew it, which made it even harder to deal with her daughter.  However, that was her angel and she wouldn’t have traded her in for anything in the world.  “Mark, order anything you want.  It’s on me.” She stated, handing him the menu, and then took another sip of her coffee.  “You too, Playboy Bunny.”

 

“I think you ought to eat something, Nicoya.” Mark said, not even looking at the menu, arching an eyebrow when she shot him a look.  “I don’t recall you eatin’ anythin’ last night before comin’ here and you look like you could use a good meal in ya.”

 

“I agree with Mark.” Ashley declared, crossing her arms in front of her chest.  “Pick out something, Coya.”

 

“She likes…this.” Alyssa pointed on the menu.  “We can order this for her.”

 

“Okay, since when did it become pick on Coya and Mommy day?” She asked defensively, raising an eyebrow at her child, and then at Ashley before turning to Mark.  “I eat-” She exclaimed and raked a hand through her hair as she paused.  “When I want too.” She finished, sipping her coffee, staring over at her daughter.

 

“I guess I’m starving.” Alyssa said, tossing the menu over her shoulder, walking over to take Mark’s from him and tossing that too.  “We all go hungry.”

 

“See what you did, Coya?” Ashley teased.  “Mark’s probably going to waste away now, slowly mind you cause there’s a lot of him to waste away.”

 

Mark shook his head, finishing his coffee, and carried it over to the sink.  “Well Nicoya, looks like you’re being boycotted.” He remarked, watching as Alyssa and Ashley feigned starving to death.

 

Nicoya did NOT find this humorous and couldn’t believe her daughter was doing this.  She shook her head and walked over, grabbing her up by her waist, and started tickling her as she deposited her on the bed.  “You’re going to drive me up a damned wall, Aly!” She laughed when Alyssa began calling Mark to help her and smirked.  “He won’t come near your momma, honey.  I’m the plague when it comes to you.” She teased and kept tickling her daughter, her black hair going all over the place, wearing the long red robe from last night, but it was tied tightly around her.  “You’re eating regardless.”

 

“No!  Nope, I’m not eating anything!”  Alyssa shrieked.  “MARK!  Help me!”

 

“Sorry, can’t do it, angel.” Mark replied, watching out of the corner of his eye as Ashley ordered everyone breakfast, including Nicoya.  He grinned when she hung up, looking innocent and snorted.  Ashley winked at him, raising a finger to her lips, and pressed it to them.

 

“Oh you just wait and see.” Nicoya challenged her daughter, releasing her, and laughed when she immediately ran to Mark, shaking her head.  “You two are too cute, hold on.” She walked over to her bag and pulled out a camera, hiding it behind her back.  “Mark, can you bend down to be eye level with Alyssa?” She asked, flashing those big midnight blue eyes at him.  Okay, maybe her daughter got the smitten habit from her.

 

Mark had WAY too much experience with fans and some minor crazies to fall for that coming from a full grown woman and picked Alyssa up, using her to hide his face.  “Put it away.” He growled playfully.  “Bat them beautiful eyes elsewhere, darlin’, it ain’t workin’.”

 

Alyssa started giggling.  “Mom, he thinks you have beautiful eyes.” She said in a sing song voice.

 

“Yeah, he does but I’m sure he thinks yours are more beautiful, Aly.” She replied, knowing her daughter got jealous when it came to Mark, and smirked when she suddenly got an idea.  “Okay fine, but I was going to give this to Alyssa to carry around with her for when you’re not around.” She sighed dramatically, winking over at Ashley.  “Too bad kiddo.” She frowned mockingly before walking over to join Ashley.  “That would’ve been an adorable picture too.”

 

“carry around with me?’ Alyssa squirmed until she was facing Mark.  “Mom’s going off her rocker.” She whispered loudly.

 

Mark nodded solemnly.  “I think so too.” He whispered just as loudly, smiling when she pressed her forehead to his.

 

“I’d snap that picture if I were you.” Ashley murmured, gesturing to the moment before them.

 

Nicoya smiled as her eyes gleamed and snapped it, smirking when Mark growled at her, and waved him off as she took it out.  It was a Polaroid camera so the picture instantly came out as she started waving it back and forth to come out faster.  A knock sounded at the door, causing Nicoya to groan, and looked over at her daughter.  “Do you wanna get that sweetheart?” She asked, still waving the picture.

 

“Food’s here!” Alyssa announced, opening the door wide as the trolley was wheeled in.

 

Mark walked over to the server, holding out a crisp bill that he didn’t let Alyssa see, winking down at her.  “Charge this to my room.” He ordered gently, but firmly.

 

“Sure thing, Mr. Calaway.” The server nodded, pocketing the rather large tip before walking out, closing the door behind him. 

 

“Oh boy…” Ashley whistled, looking over at Nicoya.

 

“Mark, I told you it was on me…” She trailed off when he just shot her a look and shook her head, smiling softly, and looked over at Ashley with a raised eyebrow.  “You ordered this didn’t you?” When Ashley just grinned, Nicoya growled playfully before looking down at the picture, her heart leaping in her throat, and pressed her hand over her heart as she sighed.  “Alyssa, come over here and look at this, baby girl.”

 

Curiously, Alyssa did, looking at the picture of her and Mark together.  “Wow.” She said, reaching out to touch it, suddenly feeling an overwhelming sadness engulf her.

 

Mark looked at them, his eyes fastening on Alyssa.  “What’s wrong, little one?” He asked gently, concern evident in his voice and eyes.

 

“Nuttin.” Alyssa muttered, taking the picture and pocketing it before sitting on the couch, pulling her own meal off the trolley, and stared down at it, looking saddened. 

 

“Alyssa…” Nicoya gently said her name, walking over, and bent down to face her, lifting her chin up to meet her eyes.  “What’s wrong sweetheart?  You can tell momma anything, you know that right?” She already knew what it was about and felt her heart twinge with pain and guilt because she knew how badly Alyssa wanted a father.  The thought caused her to tear up, but she blinked her tears away.

 

Alyssa looked at her mom square in the eye and didn’t bother hiding her own tears.  “Why don’t I have a daddy?” She asked softly.  Ashley and Mark exchanged looks before both heading quietly for the door.

 

“You do have a daddy, Alyssa.” She replied solemnly, standing up as she raked a hand through her hair, and wrapped her arms around herself.  “He’s not fit to be your father though, which is why I never told him about you.  I don’t want you to get hurt like your mother did, baby girl.” She was talking quietly to her as she felt the tears welling up in her eyes.  She suddenly wasn’t hungry anymore.

 

“Why isn’t he fit?” Alyssa demanded, pushing her own food away, not even looking up when the door softly closed.  “What’d he do?”

 

“It’s complicated, Alyssa and Mom doesn’t feel like getting into it right now.  Just know that he doesn’t love you and he never will because he’ll never know you exist.  One day, when I finally find that special someone, then you’ll have a daddy.  Isn’t having your mother enough?” She asked almost heartbrokenly, wishing her daughter would accept the fact that her biological father would never be in the picture, and raked a hand through her hair.

 

Alyssa was digesting all of that, taking her time in replying.  “He’ll never love me because he doesn’t know I exist.” She said softly.  “I’m going to my room now.” She said, her voice oddly calm before getting up and walking to her room, closing the door behind her.

 

“You don’t understand, Alyssa.” Nicoya whispered after the door closed to her daughter’s room and collapsed on the couch, tears pouring down her cheeks, and brought her knees up, crying silently to herself.  If only her daughter knew what kind of monster her father was then she’d hate him as much as her.  Nicoya knew this was hurting Alyssa, but this was for her own good.  She didn’t want John apart of their lives and it was going to stay that way.  Even if her daughter hated her for it.

 

Chapter 9

 

Alyssa woke up several hours later after crying herself to sleep.  She rolled onto her back and reached into her pants pocket, pulling out the picture of her and Mark.  She slowly unfolded it and studied, sniffling, and reaching up to wipe her nose with the back of her hand.  Alyssa carefully folded it again before putting it back, sitting up and dangled her legs off the bed.  She jumped a little when she heard her mother yelling at someone in the other room and wondered who it was as she went to investigate.

 

“I don’t care what you think or feel, Cena!!  Just leave me alone!!” Nicoya shouted in her cell phone, burying her face in her free hand, and sighed heavily.  “Whatever John, I gotta go.” She then snapped the lid of her cell phone shut, growling under her breath, and walked over, tapping lightly on Alyssa’s bedroom door.  “Sweetheart, it’s momma.  You about ready to head to the arena?”

 

“No.” Alyssa muttered, slowly getting to her feet, and walked over to open the door for her mother.  “Who were you yelling at?” She asked curiously, yawning, looking all tousled and adorable again.

 

“A co-worker about his script.” Nicoya lied, flashing a smile, and kissed the top of her head.  “Go get ready.  We’re leaving in a few minutes.” She instructed, walking away from her, and proceeded to finish packing, shutting her cell phone off when it began ringing again.  She would have to get her number changed to something that John didn’t know before she ended up smashing her phone.

 

Alyssa rolled her eyes and sighed, walking around her room and gathering up her stuff.  She dawdled in packing, unpacking then repacking everything.  Finally knowing she was done and groaned, Alyssa dragged the bag out to the main room.  “I’m ready.” She announced, not sounding thrilled.  “Where are we going next?”

 

“We’re going to the arena.  Tomorrow morning we leave and head to Houston.” She informed her daughter, finishing up her packing, wearing a pinstriped skirt suit with a white tank top underneath her cardigan.  Her black hair was down, hugging her waist, and she had two inch heels on that were closed toed.  “Come on, sweetheart we don’t have much time.” She extended her hand and smiled when Alyssa took it as they walked out of the hotel room.

 

Alyssa trailed her hand along the wall, halting when she seen the elevators.  “No, not going on it.” She balked, dragging her mom towards the stairs, not caring what floor they were on.  “Elevators are scary, momma.”

 

Nodding in agreement, Nicoya walked down the back staircase of the hotel, finally walking out of the lobby, and headed outside to their rental car.  “So, are you angry at me still?” She asked as they walked through the lobby, her bag over her shoulder while Alyssa had her backpack.

 

“For what?  Keeping me a secret?” Alyssa replied, following Nicoya to the car, still holding her hand.  “No…you said he was a meanie so I guess it’s alright.” She sighed, handing her mother her bag to stick in the car.  “How long will the house show take and why do you gotta be there?”

 

“It’s mandatory.  All WWE employees are required unless they have a family emergency.” Nicoya explained, arriving at her car, and placed her bag in, smiling with relief that her daughter wasn’t upset with her.  They listened to country music on the ride to the arena, making small chit chat, and finally pulled into the arena parking lot.  “We shouldn’t be here too long tonight, baby girl.”

 

Alyssa shrugged, looking around the parking lot and sighed.  Knowing from how empty it was that they must’ve been early.  This wasn’t surprising since Nicoya normally liked to be on top of things.  “Ready, Mom?”

 

Nodding, Nicoya stepped out, grabbing her bag, and then headed inside the arena, holding her daughter’s hand tightly in her own, and went straight to her office.  She sighed heavily when she opened the door, holding Alyssa close to her, and ignored John’s presence as she guided her daughter over to the couch.  “Remember what I said.” She whispered, smiling when Alyssa nodded, and turned around to face him.  “What can I do for you, Mr. Cena?” She asked, her tone purely professional, though her midnight blue eyes were spitting fire.

 

John was sitting behind her desk, his feet propped up on top of it, hands folded behind his head.  He ignored Nicoya at first, his ice blue eyes firmly fastened on Alyssa.  “She’s got pretty eyes.” He commented at last, finally looking at Nicoya, arching an eyebrow.

 

Leave my daughter alone, John I’m warning you right now.” Nicoya stated through gritted teeth, walking over to block his vision from Alyssa, and crossed her arms in front of his chest.  “She’s none of your damned concern so get to steppin’ before I talk to Stephanie and Vince about fining your ass for harassing me and my daughter.” She threatened, keeping her voice low and calm, full of hidden rage.

 

“Oh I’m so scared.” John said in a high pitched voice, raising his hands and waving them in exaggerated movements.  He smirked, standing up and walking around to stand right in front of her.  “I’m here on business, Ms. Harris.” He said in a mock polite and professional tone of voice.  “It’s not my fault you have a vendetta against me and can’t remember we’re at work.”

 

“What do you want, Mr. Cena?” Nicoya asked through gritted teeth, trying to keep this as professional as possible, and kept her arms firmly crossed in front of her chest.  “If you don’t like your script, you’ll have to go talk to Vince about that one because I only write them out.  He approves them prior, so you’ll have to take your business up with him if you have a problem with it.” She informed him in a deceptively calm tone, her eyes telling a different story though.

 

“I did.” John replied.  “I spent the day with him actually, discussing this…slop.  He suggested you and I brainstorm together about where my character is heading.  Possible lines and all that.” He informed her, smiling grimly at the thought.

 

“Oh well then I suggest you get your ass handed to you any way possible.  It’ll help ‘build your character greatly.” She mocked him with a roll of her eyes, smirking when Alyssa stifled a snicker, and raised an eyebrow at John before walking over to her desk.  She took out a can of Lysol and began spraying down her chair and desk, disinfecting it from his touch before taking a seat.

 

John leaned over the desk, knocking the can from her hand so she couldn’t spray him, smirking when she stumbled back into her chair and dropped down.  “Now really, is that a professional thing to say?” He asked casually, tilting his head to the side, his blue eyes spitting icicles of anger back at her.  Alyssa took this moment to slip out of the room, not liking the way this doofus was talking to her mother.

 

“Fuck you, John.” Nicoya spat back at him hatefully, her midnight blue eyes flaming with rage, and had noticed her daughter left the room.  She would rather Alyssa get out before watching John push her around, like he always did, but this time, Nicoya would push back.  “If you lay a hand on me, I’ll report you to Stephanie and Vince.  I’m not helping you with your character unless you get mauled in the ring for the rest of your life!” She stated emphatically, crossing her arms in front of her chest, refusing to help her ex-boyfriend who cheated on her.

 

“You see sweetheart, that’s where you’re wrong.  It’s your job to help my character.” John replied coldly, growling when she shook her head.  He raised his hand as if to slap her, but neither would find out if he’d actually do it because his hand got caught in someone else’s.

 

Alyssa smirked, returning to stand behind the couch, looking smug.  “There a problem here?” Came the booming, deceptively dangerous calm voice of Mark as he held John’s hand in his gigantic hand.

 

Nicoya looked back at Mark, who the large hand belonged to that stopped John’s hand from striking her, and swallowed hard as she backed up in her chair a little.  “Do we have a problem here, Mr. Cena?” She asked, daring him to say something to hear that wasn’t nice or professional, and couldn’t believe what her daughter had done.  She was a smart cookie and would have to remember to hug and kiss her later for bringing Mark when she did.

 

“No, no problem at all, Ms. Harris.” John replied, meeting her eyes for one second before looking up at Mark.

 

Mark studied him intently, squeezing his hand tightly before letting go.  “Good.  Now why don’t ya hit the pavement, I need to talk to Nico.” He said casually, watching for John’s reaction.

 

“I bet you do.” John murmured sarcastically, already hightailing it out of her office.

 

As soon as the door shut, Nicoya finally breathed out, her heart pounding, and rushed over to hug her daughter, tears stinging her eyes.  “Thank you so much, Aly.” She whispered, kissing her forehead, and began trembling like a leaf as she held her daughter close.  She was glad her daughter left when she had, no wanting her to see anything happen to her that was bad, and finally let go before standing up on shaky legs to face Mark.  “Thank you.” She whispered, her eyes clouding over with tears.

 

“Definitely not a problem.” Mark replied, reaching out to catch her when she swayed dangerously.  His hands gently held her up just under her arms.  “You need to lie down for a second, darlin’.” He said, watching as Alyssa cleaned off the couch before scooping her up into his arms and carrying her over, gently laying her down.

 

“You look like you’re gonna puke, Mom.” Alyssa informed her, looking concerned with her forehead scrunched up.

 

“Aly, go play for a minute, baby girl.  I need to talk to Mark alone.” She whispered pleadingly, her heart still going a mile a minute.  When her daughter was far enough away, Nicoya finally allowed the tears to slip down her cheeks.  She already knew what would’ve happened had Mark not arrived as she sucked in a ragged breath.  “Mark, you need to keep her away from him, please.” She whispered pleadingly, grabbing his hand, and squeezed it weakly.  “He’s dangerous…” She had to stop because she was hyperventilating and pressed a hand to her heart.  “Please, promise me whenever you have her, you won’t let him near her.” She stared into his emerald green eyes pleadingly, knowing John was a sneaky son of a bitch and his curiosity was peaked about Alyssa.

 

Mark frowned, feeling how fast her heart was going and reached out to pull her into a sitting position, taking both her hands in his.  “I won’t let him or anyone else near her.” He promised, his eyes moving to Alyssa before focusing on Nicoya again.  “How’s he dangerous, darlin’?” He murmured, seeing her hyperventilate and cupped his massive hands around her mouth, forcing her to breathe back in her own air.

 

Tears spilled down her cheeks as Nicoya gripped his wrists in her own, trying to take deep breaths, and finally felt her heartbeat slow down.  She took his hands from her mouth and sucked in another ragged breath, her bottom lip trembling.  “Can I trust you to keep a secret?” She quietly asked, staring into his beautiful emerald green gems for eyes, her own midnight blue ones filled with fear and determination.

 

Mark nodded, not pulling his eyes from hers, seeing the look in them and felt admiration for this woman.  Somehow knowing she had been through a lot of pain in her life.  “You can trust me with anythin’, Nico.” He said softly, honestly.

 

Taking a deep, shaky breath, Nicoya released his wrists and cupped his face in her hands, tears spilling down her cheeks like two flowing streams.  “John is her father.” She whispered in revelation and then buried her face in her hands as she began to cry softly, hunched over, feeling the defeat crash over her.  “He doesn’t know about her.” She added through her sniffles.

 

That explained a lot.  Like Alyssa’s cockiness, smugness and arrogance.  Traits it was obvious she didn’t get from her mother.  Mark reached out one large hand to gently stroke her back.  “Don’t cry, Nico, she’s lookin’ at ya.” He murmured, flashing a reassuring smile at Alyssa.  “Come on now, darlin’ chin up.”

 

Nicoya knew he was right as she slowly looked up into his eyes and nodded, sniffling a little more, and smiled when he handed her another bandana.  “I’m sorry, but Alyssa has taken so well to you, Mark.  You take care of her whenever I can’t so I wanted you to know in case he tries something.  I don’t want him anywhere near her.  Please don’t be angry with me.  I’m doing what’s best for her.” She whispered, not wanting her daughter to overhear, and smiled at Alyssa reassuringly before placing a hand on Mark’s.

 

“It’s not my place to be angry, darlin’.  It’s yer choice, yer business.” Mark said seriously.  “If he comes near her, I’ll handle him.” He promised his tone grave though calm at the same time.  Inside he already figured that if John approached Alyssa and he was there, he was laying the punk out.

 

“Thank you, Mark.” She truly meant that and caressed his face with her hand, smiling appreciatively, and hugged him around the neck, hoping he didn’t mind it.  She then pulled back and wiped the rest of her tears away before slowly standing up from the couch.  “I think I’m okay now.  I’m glad my daughter was smart enough to get out of here because I knew it was coming.” She quietly said, walking shakily over to her desk.

 

Mark smiled, patting Alyssa’s head when she walked up to him, and said, “She came burstin’ into my dressin’ room and hauled my ass outta there right quick.”

 

Alyssa beamed proudly.  “Nobody messes with my momma.” She declared.  “Except me that is.”

 

“That’s my girl.” Nicoya grinned proudly as she walked over; lifting her up in her arms, and kissed her cheek as she held her close.  “For that, you’re going to get all the ice cream and anything else you want tonight after we leave.” She stroked her hair and looked up at Mark, her midnight blue eyes no longer in tears.  “You can join us, Mark if you don’t have any other plans.  I’m sure Aly would love it if you would.” She laughed when Alyssa squirmed out of her arms and went to Mark’s side, shaking her head.  “I’ve lost my daughter.” She mock cried and smiled widely.

 

Alyssa shook he head.  “Nah…you’re stuck with me.  Part of the whole mommy deal.” She teased adorably.  “Besides, ya know ya love me, 'specially when I’m outta yer hair.”

 

Mark blinked, looking down at Alyssa.  “Is it just me or is she drawlin’?” He asked curiously, an eyebrow rose.

 

“What’s drawlin’ mean?” Alyssa asked, looking genuinely confused while Mark started laughing.

 

“You’ve had a profound impact on her, Mark.” Nicoya laughed when Alyssa looked at her like she was nuts and shook her head, rolling her eyes playfully.  “Honey, drawlin’ is when you start talking like Mark.  You know how you’re supposed to say your, but he says yer?” She asked, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and actually hopped on her desk, staring at them.

 

“Yeah, what 'bout it?  Is she sayin’ it wrong?” Alyssa asked, cocking an eyebrow.

 

Mark cleared his throat.  “It ain’t that it’s wrong, darlin’.  It’s my accent comin’ through.” He explained, sounding downright amused.

 

“Accent?  The way you sound, you mean?” Alyssa questioned, wanting to make sure she understood what Mark and her mother were telling her.

 

“Yeah that.”

 

“I heard some girls’ say you could make a nun wet with yer voice.  What’s that mean?” Alyssa asked, deciding if they were going to be receptive to her questions she might as well get them out.

 

Nicoya’s midnight blue eyes bulged out of her head and covered her mouth with her hand, not believing what her daughter just asked.  “Alyssa Marie Harris!” She exclaimed in shock, blinking rapidly, and couldn’t believe what she just asked.  “That’s NO business of yours, young lady.  You’re FAR too young!” Nicoya was beside herself as she raked her hands through her hair and gripped it, trying to stop blushing since her cheeks was on fire.  Mark had gone red from the tips of his toes to the roots of his hair, not believing what he just heard himself.  He coughed, turning away from Nicoya, who seemed to be having a red moment herself.  “And you never will until you’re older.” Nicoya muttered, not believing what her daughter just asked them, and covered her cheeks with her hand as they burned more.  She had no doubt in her mind that Mark could make a nun wet, but she wasn’t about to admit that in front of her eight year old daughter.

 

“Mom…you’re blushing!” Alyssa shrieked, pointing and laughing at her.  “It’s something naughty isn’t it?  Is that why you’re blushing?”  Mark’s shoulders were shaking now, his back still to them and laughing his ass off.

 

“It’s none of your business, Alyssa Marie!” Nicoya stated, truly embarrassed, and raked a hand through her hair, trying to get the heat out of her cheeks.  “Oh go ahead and laugh, Mark! “ She grumbled, blushing more when he roared with laughter, and pursed her lips tightly together.  “At least the crack was made at YOU.” She countered with a smirk.

 

Mark arched an eyebrow, turning to stare at her.  “Should I take it as a compliment or somethin’ offensive?” He asked slowly.  “Since yer a woman, you can tell me, darlin’.”  Alyssa stuffed her fingers in her ears, not wanting to hear an icky adult conversation.

 

“Mark, I don’t think this is the appropriate time or place to be discussing something like this.” Nicoya stated warningly, gesturing toward her daughter, who was plugging her ears with her fingers, and crossed her arms in front of her chest.  “She’s only eight, even though she doesn’t act like it sometimes.” She reminded him and crossed her leg over the other, seeing Alyssa was singing under her breath, sighing.  “Fine, you should take that however you wish now enough.” She was still beat red, but it was slowly diminishing.

 

Alyssa smirked, shaking her head, and teasingly said, “Momma got herself in over her head.”

 

“I think I’m in trouble with yer Mom.” Mark pointed out, raising an eyebrow.

 

“Hmmm…flash her some eyes and pout, it seems to work.” Alyssa suggested, looking positively adorable and innocent.

 

“Not with him it doesn’t, Miss Know-It-All.” Nicoya stated matter-of-factly, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and shook before sliding off the desk.  She looked at Mark and blushed again before shaking her head and walked over to sit behind her desk, staring down at the scripts, trying to stop turning into another strawberry.

 

“I’m goin’ to head back to my room.” Mark said, shaking his head when Alyssa snickered.  “You got a mean streak, don’t ya angel?”

 

“Yes.” She replied, looking cocky again, her blue eyes wide.  “Why you going?  Mom…quit blushing!” Mark cleared his throat, looking amused as he headed for the door.

 

Nicoya kept her head lowered, her black hair framing her face, and started writing furiously on the paper, biting her bottom lip in concentration.  “See ya, Mark.” She called back softly and smirked when Alyssa stopped him from going anywhere.  “Honey, you have to give the man his space…” Nicoya began to say, sighing when Alyssa began giving him those big puppy dog eyes, and shook her head.  “It’s up to him, sweetheart.  I can’t tell him what to do.”

 

Mark shook his head.  “Darlin’…I got to go…” He stopped, seeing Alyssa nod and back away, her head lowering.  “How 'bout ya come with me to check the boards?”

 

“Can I Mom?” Alyssa asked, looking over at Nicoya, wiping away the tears that had started to form.

 

“He’s your babysitter, isn’t he?” She shot back with a smirk, her cheeks still inflamed, and raised an eyebrow.  “If he says you can go with him, then you have my permission as well.” She stated, smiling when she hugged her daughter since Alyssa ran over to her, and kissed the top of her head before rushing back to Mark’s side.  “Mark…” She stopped him before the door fully closed and gave him a knowing look.  “Watch her carefully please.”

 

“Jeez Mom, he always does.” Alyssa said, sounding exasperated.  She squealed when Mark hoisted her up onto his shoulders.  “Bye Mom!” She waved down, grinning broadly.

 

Mark stared at Nicoya a moment before nodding.  “She’ll be fine, get yer work done.” He grunted, smiling to let her know he was trying to reassure her before heading off down the hall, his long legs quickly covering ground.

 

Nicoya nodded back at them before starting to get to work.  She snorted at John’s script, and tossed in her To Do slot, refusing to do it until the absolute last second.  If he wanted to get any time in the ring, he was going to have to stop threatening her and leave her and Alyssa alone.  She knew she’d done the right thing by telling Mark about John, but now her next obstacle to overcome was her brother, Steve.  “God, if it’s not one it’s the other.” She grumbled under her breath and began working on the Diva scripts.

 

Chapter 10

 

Mark listened patiently as Alyssa rattled on, grinning and offering his opinion when she seemed to expect it.  He loved spending time with this little angel and he didn’t know why.  Mark was never a big child lover, but with Alyssa, and the way she carried herself along with her attitude, he couldn’t help, but want to spend more time with her.  “Hey ol’ timer, ain’t that the script writer’s kid?” Came a voice from behind them, interrupting what Alyssa was saying to Mark.

 

Mark turned to see none other than Steve Austin walking towards them, nodding as he asked, “Guessin’ ya’ll already met?”

 

“Briefly.” Steve peered up at Alyssa and smiled warmly as he greeted, “Hey there, honey.”  Alyssa squeaked in response, wondering how she was supposed to tell Mark she wasn’t allowed to around this guy either.

 

“Mark, I gotta pee.” Alyssa announced, the first excuse coming to her mind to scare Steve away, still sitting on top of Mark’s shoulders.

 

Mark shook his head, grinning when Steve blanched, and asked, “What’s wrong?”

 

“Yer on yer own with that.” Steve replied, shaking his own head before walking away, waving his hand as he moved away from them.

 

When Steve was out of earshot, Alyssa leaned down and whispered in Mark’s ear, “Mark, I’m not allowed to be around him either.”

 

Mark frowned, moving her so she was standing in front of him, and questioned, “Steve?  Why not?”

 

“Ask Mom.” Alyssa simply said, shrugging her shoulders, looking just as confused at her babysitter.

 

“Maybe we oughta.” Mark replied, his tone laced with confusion and wonder before lifting Alyssa up back on his shoulders and headed to his dressing room.  He’d ask Nicoya about it later, knowing she was busy at work, and probably would be seriously ticked if they interrupted her.

 

~!~

 

After finishing close to all the scripts, Nicoya finally decided to take a small break, her head feeling like it was going to explode.  She kicked her heels off, and leaned in her chair, her feet propped on her desk, and played soft music from the corner.  She always had the crew bring her mini radio to all the arenas because it helped her get her mind on track.  She smiled softly, hearing a beautiful song come over the radio, and sighed, closing her eyes.  She needed just a few minutes of peace.

 

~!~

 

“Why are we hitting this?” Alyssa asked about two hours later, hitting the punching bag that was hanging in Mark’s dressing room, and had gotten knocked on her butt a few thousand times already.

 

“Relieves stress, tension…extra energy.” Mark replied, watching as Alyssa pounded away on his punching bag, hoping to wind her down and disperse of her energy she had. 

 

“Maybe we should bring Mom down here and let her beat it up.” Alyssa suggested thoughtfully, stopping to sip her Sprite he’d gotten her.

 

Mark looked thoughtful himself, stroking his goatee.  “You know…maybe she could do with something to help her with stress.” He said, that attentive look on his face and in his tone of voice, seriously considering doing it.

 

“Hey, I help!” Alyssa protested, sticking her lips out, puckering them in a tight purse, looking positively cute.

 

~!~

 

After listening to a few songs to recollect her thoughts, Nicoya decided to head down to the cafeteria for something to drink.  She shrugged her cardigan off, her black hair pooling over her shoulders and down her back, and walked out, her heels clicking against the concrete flooring of the arena in her walk.  She smiled at a few people, but mostly kept to herself, not knowing hardly any of them.  Once she arrived in the cafeteria, Nicoya got herself a cup of coffee, needing a caffeine rush, and began fixing it to her liking, wondering what Mark and Alyssa were doing.  Steve arched an eyebrow when he seen Nicoya, watching her while listening to some of the boys joke around, his blue eyes studying her thoughtfully.  Finally, he excused himself and strolled over to her, clearing his throat to get her attention.

 

Nicoya turned around and felt her midnight blue eyes widen briefly at the sight of Steve.  “Hello, Mr. Williams.” She greeted calmly, trying to sound cheerful, and stirred her coffee with the straw.  “What can I do for you?”

 

“Nothin’, just thought I’d come say hi since you were lookin’ all lonesome.” He drawled playfully, taking a drink of a bottle that was missing it’s label, but looked somewhat like Vernors.  Somewhat.  “Seen yer rug rat with Calaway.”

 

“Yeah, she’s gotten close with him.  He’s her babysitter while I’m busying working.  He keeps her occupied.” She shrugged absentmindedly, raking a hand through her black tresses, and took a long swig of her coffee, trying to find a way to get away from him.  Even though he didn’t recognize her, Steve wasn’t stupid and would figure it out sooner or later.

 

Steve studied her thoughtfully, finally reaching out to tap her arm to get her attention, his blue eyes widening when she jumped.  “You don’t like me very much do ya?” He asked seriously.

 

“Believe me, Mr. Williams, if you knew who I was, you’d hate me.” She replied solemnly, mentally cursing herself for saying that, and immediately backed away from him.  “I-I have to go.” She then rushed out of the cafeteria, her coffee in hand, her heels clicking harshly against the flooring below, not believing she just said that.  “Fuckin’ great.” She mumbled under her breath.

 

Mark shook his head, laughing as he chased Alyssa out of the room, frowning when he seen she was seconds from colliding with Nicoya, who had something in her hand.  He instantly grabbed Alyssa just as Nicoya went to stop herself, turning his back, and flinched when he wound up with steaming hot coffee on his back.  “Mark?” Alyssa whispered, seeing the look on his face, and instantly backed away.

 

Mark grunted, straightening and quickly pulled his shirt off as he growled out, “Damn!”

 

Nicoya had plowed into his back, groaning as she fell to the floor, her cup falling from her hand, and felt her head spinning.  She slowly shook the cobwebs from her brain, coughing a little, and finally got her vision back to normal.  “Shit, Mark, I’m so sorry!” She apologized immediately, wincing when she seen the pained look on his face, and slowly rose to her feet, cringing.  “I’m deeply sorry…” She didn’t know what else to say and rubbed the back of her neck, seeing her coffee got completely on him.

 

Mark rolled his shoulders, glancing back at her over his shoulder.  “Mind tellin’ me how bad it is, darlin’?” He asked in a low voice.

 

“It’s really, really, really red!” Alyssa answered before her mother could, standing on her tiptoes to see.  “Mom you got him good!”  Mark shook his head, smiling even though it actually hurt like a bitch.  On the bright side, it was his back that’d been dunked and nothing too vital.

 

“Come with me, Mark.” Nicoya said, grabbing his hand, her daughter trotting in front of them, and guided him into her office.  Once inside, she instructed him to lay down on his stomach on the couch while she dug in her purse for something.  She pulled out some burn ointment, having carried it around in case of emergencies, and walked over as she straddled his waist, hoping he didn’t mind.  “This is going to sting, but only for a minute.” She warned him ahead of time and began squirting it on his back, not believing she did this.  “I’m so sorry, Mark.” She sounded like she was going to cry.

 

Mark stared at the wall, smiling when Alyssa sat on the floor to stare at him.  “Hello little one.” He said, wincing a little at the pain the burns gave off.

 

“That hurt?” She quietly asked in a solemn filled voice.

 

“Nah, tickles a bit though.” He half lied, not wanting to worry the precious angel, and winked at her.

 

“You’re lying.” Alyssa said flatly, staring into his eyes, and nodded in clarification.

 

Mark reached out to cup her tiny face in his hand.  “It don’t hurt, darlin’.  It-” His eyes flew open suddenly.  “Okay now that hurt.”

 

Wincing, Nicoya finished applying the burn ointment and began rubbing it into his back, using her hands, not believing how strong his back was.  The muscles rippled beneath her fingertips, causing her to smile, but she still felt horrible for what she did.  She sighed, continuously rubbing his back, being gentle, and had to scoot up a little on his waist.  Her skirt rode up the slightest and winked at her daughter, never stopping the rubbing.  “Mark will be fine, sweetheart.  No need to worry.  Go play with your toys while Mom finishes him up.” She gently ordered, causing Alyssa to nod, moving away reluctantly with concern obvious on her face.

 

Mark sighed, burying his face in the couch cushion for a minute, taking a deep breath before facing the back of the couch, his face inches from it.  “You looked like you were in a hurry back there…” He commented, trying to take his mind off what she was doing to him.

 

“I was.” Nicoya simply replied, not stopping the rubbing, and moved his hair to the side, needing to get his neck since the coffee got on that too.  “I’m so sorry about this, Mark.  I really am.  I should’ve watched where I was going.” She quietly spoke, feeling terrible, and furrowed her eyebrows together, wincing when he groaned.

 

“It’s gonna be cleanin’ it that’ll be the crux of it.” He murmured, wondering just how in the Hell he was going to tend to his back and sighed.  Knowing he’d be stuck at the trainer’s every night for a while.  “Ya didn’t have to do this, darlin’.  I could’ve went to the trainer and had’em take care of it.  I knew yer a busy woman.”

 

“No, this is my entire fault and I fully intend to take responsibility for it.  You won’t go to the trainer’s.  You’ll come to me until you’re healed and I want no arguments, Mark.” It was the least she could do after burning him with her hot coffee, all because she was running away from her brother, who didn’t even recognize her.  Nicoya was a jittery person and when she got nervous, something always happened.  “I’m so sorry, Mark.” She whispered somberly.

 

“Don’t be, darlin’.  You just gave me a legit reason not to wear shirts.” He replied good-naturedly, more of a vest person if he had to wear anything.  Though now, it’d be a little painful.  “So…it’s a little burn, somethin’ I blew outta proportion.”

 

“Darlin’, that tickles.” Mark said softly, not about to tell her it both hurt and sent some more of that electricity through him, sighing inwardly with bittersweet relief when she stopped.  “Nico…are ya cryin’?  Please don’t cry, accidents happen.”

 

Alyssa looked up from her toys, frowning when she seen her mother.  “You alright?” She asked, moving to get up.

 

“I’m fine, sweetheart.” Nicoya assured her daughter with a smile and stopped what she was doing.  Seeing the burn ointment already working its magic, she slowly slid from his waist, straightening her skirt now.  “How does it feel?” She asked quietly, wiping her tears away, and walked over to sit down in her chair behind her desk.

 

Mark carefully pushed himself up, looking over at Nicoya.  “Feels better.” He murmured, glancing down at Alyssa.  “Yes?”

 

“It looks horrible.  I think you’re just acting brave.” Alyssa informed him diligently.

 

“Is that right?” Mark arched an eyebrow down at her.

 

She nodded, smiling cheekily back at him.  “Here’s your shirt.” She handed it to him, never wiping that pert smile from her adorable face.  “I picked it up in the hallway.”

 

Mark took it from her, wadding it in his hand, but didn’t move to put it back on.  First, it was soaked in coffee.  Second, he already knew he wouldn’t be able to tolerate anything on his back.  “Thanks, angel.” He said appreciatively.

 

Nicoya sighed heavily, putting her head in her hands, and felt like crawling in a hole and dying for the umpteenth time around this man.  She couldn’t believe she’d actually spilled scalding hot coffee on him and cringed at the memory.  She knew he must’ve been hurting and hoped the burns went away soon.  “Here’s your script, Mark.” She softly said, handing it to him, keeping her eyes focused on the upcoming feud Vince was going to put Jeff in, which was with Glen.  ‘My fault again.’ She thought miserably.

 

“Thanks.” Mark reached down to take it, their fingertips once again brushing, and felt that jolt run up his arm again.  He cleared his throat and took a step back.  “I’ll see you ladies later.”

 

“You coming to our room tonight?” Alyssa asked, walking around to sit on her mom’s lap with hope shining in her beautiful blue eyes.

 

“Angel, I’m sure yer momma would like some one-on-one time with ya.” Mark said patiently, already feeling himself melting from her eyes.

 

“What about your back?” The little girl asked, truly concerned about it, especially with how red it was.

 

“Alyssa, if he doesn’t want to come, he doesn’t have too, sweetheart.” Nicoya patiently told her daughter, wrapping her arms around her waist, and kissed the top of her head.  She began running her fingers through Alyssa’s hair, seeing it was knotted up a little, and would have to brush it after her bath that night.  She wished she could leave now so Steve didn’t come confront her about what she’d said earlier.  IF the man kept his distance, she would be fine.

 

“But you said he had to come get his back tended to every night.” Alyssa said patiently, letting her mom finger comb her hair.  “Aww…” She made a face when she seen it was just them in the room.  “He gets around don’t he?  Maybe we oughta put a bell color on him or something.”

 

“No, we will do no such thing.  He’s a grown man and doesn’t need an eight year old following him around like a puppy dog.” Nicoya replied, shaking her head, and continued combing her fingers through her daughter’s hair, sighing.  She was still mildly disturbed by that earlier question about Mark making nuns wet and felt her cheeks grow hot just thinking about it.  She cleared her throat loudly and kissed the top of her daughter’s head before turning to look at the scripts she had left to finish up.

 

“Mom, why’re you blushing again?” Alyssa asked curiously, seeing her mother turning into a strawberry again, and sighed exasperatedly just as the door to the office opened.

 

“This a bad time?” Steve asked, poking his bald head into the room, and felt his blue eyes widen at the sight of Ms. Harris.  “Damn woman, yer red!”

 

“Christ…” Nicoya mumbled under her breath, setting her daughter down on the floor, and pointed over to her toys, clearly not amused.  “Don’t point out another thing, Alyssa.” She ordered, shaking her head, and cleared her throat, taking a long swig of her water, and finally leaned back in her chair, staring at him.  Staring at the man who she thought wouldn’t confront her about what happened earlier in the cafeteria.

 

FAT CHANCE OF THAT HAPPENING!

 

Chapter 11

 

“What can I do for you, Mr. Williams?” She asked, trying to cool herself down, but having a hard time doing so.

 

“Well maybe an explanation?” He asked, stepping in the room fully, leaning against the wall, hooking his thumbs into the belt loops of his tight blue jean shorts.  “You ran out of the cafeteria like a scalded dog honey, what happened?” He was truly concerned about how this woman acted toward him earlier and couldn’t stop from wondering what she’d said to him.

 

“Nothing, I just had a lot of work to get done.” She replied nonchalantly, looking over his script since he was in there, and finally slid it across the desk.  “This is done for you.  I did the changes Vince wanted as far as your return and whatnot.” She explained, the professionalism kicking into high gear, and raked a hand through her black hair before moving onto the next one.  “Sorry if I offended you, Mr. Williams.”

 

Steve picked it up from the desk, reading through it, his blue eyes reading the lines carefully.  Finally nodding, he offered a half grin.  He cleared his throat, studying Nicoya thoughtfully, and couldn’t help himself any longer.  “What’d ya mean by ‘if I knew who ya were, I’d hate ya’?” He asked curiously.

 

Nicoya froze as she swallowed hard, stopping in mid writing, and mentally cursed her mouth for running away with her.  She looked over at Alyssa, who was busy coloring, and sighed with relief before finally looking up to meet Steve’s eyes.  “It doesn’t matter anymore, Mr. Williams.  It was a long time ago and I really don’t want to get into it.” She stated, finally managing to drop the pen that was in her hand, and scrubbed her face with her hand in frustration.  This work load was going to kill her, especially now that both rosters were clashed together again.

 

Steve arched an eyebrow at her, wondering if this woman was off her damned rocker.  “Honey, beg to differ, but if somehow along the line our paths crossed and I did somethin’, rubbed ya the wrong way, I’d like to know.” He said gently, but in a firm tone, his eyes mirroring it.

 

“It’s sad that you can’t even remember or even recognize me, Steve.” She finally said bitterly, deciding she’d had enough, and snapped her fingers.  “Alyssa, get ready now.  We’re leaving.” She ordered, no room for argument in her voice, and unplugged her laptop hastily from the wall, wrapping the cord up.  “If you don’t even remember who I am then there’s really no point in you knowing, Mr. Williams.  Now if you’ll excuse me, my daughter and I are getting ready to leave for the evening.”

 

Steve blocked her path, preventing her from leaving.  “Look, Ms. Harris, I’m really sorry, but when ya take as many knocks as I have, it’s rather hard to remember every face.  Even one as pretty as yers.” He studied her thoughtfully, obviously trying to place her.  For the life of him, he couldn’t do it.  “We didn’t date or anythin’ did we?”

 

“No, that would be pretty sick, especially since we used to be related.” She replied evenly, no humor in her tone of voice, and stared back into his blue eyes before tearing her gaze away, sighing deeply, and placed her laptop in her case, zipping it up.  She’d already said too much and knew she was either going to end up going off on him or just flat out telling him the truth about who she was.

 

“Used to be related?” Steve echoed her words, raking a hand over his bald head, and looked more confused than ever before now.  The wheels in Steve’s mind were obviously going a mile a minute now, some sort of slow comprehension dawning in his eyes.

 

“Huh?  Related?” Alyssa echoed along with Steve.  “How were you related?” She asked eagerly, obviously she’d been paying attention to the conversation.  “MOM!  How are you guys related?” Alyssa pressed when her mother didn’t answer her right away, too intrigued to pull back now.

 

“Alyssa, don’t worry about it.” Nicoya stated, staring down at her daughter hardening, and pointed to the rest of her toys.  “Pack up.  We’re leaving now.” She ordered, turning her back to Steve, and grabbed the paperwork off of her desk, stuffing it in her briefcase with her laptop.

 

Alyssa stared at Steve openly before packing her own toys up, letting her mother pull her from the room when she was ready.  “Mom, who is he?  What’s going on?  Why can’t I worry about it?” Her mouth was firing questions left and right at Nicoya, her interest at its highest by now.

 

“Because it was a long time ago, Alyssa.  He’s not even part of my family anymore.” Nicoya reasoned with her daughter, dragging her down the hallway, and groaned when Alyssa stopped.  She picked her up and kept on walking, her heels clicking against the arena floor rapidly, and headed toward her car.  “No more questions about it, Alyssa Marie.  You’re giving your mother a headache.”

 

Steve watched them walk away, leaning against the wall, shaking his head and muttered to himself, “Crazy ass woman…” The gears in his head were spinning, trying to think of who she could be, and decided he had to get to the bottom of this before it drove him nuts.

 

“Yeah, but I finally get to hear something interesting and you’re telling me not to worry about it.” Alyssa grumbled, her eyes widening indignantly when Nicoya clamped a hand over her mouth, but continued talking on anyway.

 

Sighing heavily, Nicoya shook her head as she placed her daughter in the car, buckling her up, and got in the driver’s side before peeling out of there.  She turned on the radio while her daughter kept ranting, groaning, already feeling a headache coming on.  “He’s nobody you need to worry about now clamp it shut, Alyssa Marie!” Nicoya shouted, finally having enough, and stopped at a red light.

 

Alyssa crossed her arms over her chest, staring out the window.  “You always tell me not to worry about things.” She muttered angrily.  “Can we at least stop somewhere for something to eat?  I didn’t get breakfast or lunch today.” She rubbed her poor, growling stomach.

 

“We’ll get something to eat at the hotel.” She told her daughter, mentally cursing herself again for not taking care of her, and sighed heavily as she shook her head.  They arrived a few minutes later as Nicoya put the car in park and walked up the back staircase of the hotel, her bag over her shoulder, and headed up to their room, already having the key card.  “Come on, we’ll order some good stuff and watch a movie.”

 

“Oh boy.” Alyssa muttered sarcastically, falling backwards when she overshot the next step, and found nothing, automatically panicking.  “Mom!” She screeched, falling back.

 

“Got you.” John said, having been behind them, though he hadn’t been following, just returning from a workout in the gym, catching Alyssa before she could topple.

 

Nicoya gasped when she seen her daughter almost fall and immediately ran down the stairs, dropping everything, and snatched her away from John’s arms, holding her close.  “Are you okay, baby girl?” She instantly asked, worry evident in her voice, and ran her hands over her arms and face, making sure nothing happened.  She pressed a hand over her heart as it beat furiously in her chest before lifting her up in her arms, backing away from John, not sure what to say as she held Alyssa close.

 

“Mom, mom, mom…I’m alright.” Alyssa assured her, scowling slightly, though she still looked really shaken up from almost falling.

 

John raked a hand through his hair, his eyes fastened on them.  “Good thing I was there.” He said, no trace of smugness or anything vicious in his tone.

 

“I coulda went splat.” Alyssa agreed solemnly and began trembling as the possibility washed over her.

 

“Thank you, John.” Nicoya softly said, her voice full of appreciation with a hint of confusion mixed in it as she held her daughter tighter to her.  “You’re definitely going to be the death of me, child.” She half joked, trying to stop her heart from beating viciously in her chest, and kissed her head repeatedly as the tears began sliding down her cheeks.

 

“You’re welcome, Julia-” John’s blue eyes widened when she flumped back, darting up the steps to catch her, scooping her into his arms.

 

“Mom?” Alyssa asked nervously, looking up at them, knowing her mom didn’t want anything to do with this man even though he was being nice and had saved her.

 

“You’re overworking yourself.” John said softly, slowly setting her on her feet, shaking his head with a sigh.  “You look stressed.” He was pointing out the obvious.

 

“Um hello?  You guys forget I’m here?” Alyssa asked, feeling neglected since it was HER who almost fell to her death, not her mother.

 

Nicoya pressed the back of her hand to her forehead, trying to blink a little, and stumbled back from him, causing Alyssa to go with her as she pressed her other hand to her shoulder.  “Stay away from me, John.” She softly stated, shaking herself mentally some more, and looked down at the worried expression on her daughter’s face.  “I’m fine sweetheart.” She assured quietly, gripping the railing of the staircase.  “Just go away, Cena.  I’m fine, I don’t want nor need your assistance.” Her voice grew cold, not forgetting what he almost did earlier to her in her office that night at the arena.  If her daughter hadn’t gotten Mark when she had…Nicoya didn’t even want to think about what might have happened.

 

John’s eyes widened for a moment before nodding, brushing past them.  Though he reached out to pat Alyssa’s head.  “Stay safe, kid.” He grunted, his footsteps echoing on the steps as he hurried up to his hotel room.

 

“Mom…come on.” Alyssa tugged on her hand.  “Let’s just get to our room.  Then you can breakdown.” She hugged her mother tightly, still terrified from what just happened.

 

“I’m not going to breakdown, Alyssa.” Nicoya assured her, though she already knew it was going to happen after her daughter was asleep that night as the headed up the rest of the staircase.  Once inside, Nicoya immediately sent Alyssa to change into her pajamas while Nicoya kicked her heels off and ordered them some food.  Along with some well-deserved ice cream for her daughter.  She then changed into a sky blue nightgown that was spaghetti strapped and went just above her knees, hugging her every curve, and her black hair was down.  “Aly, what movie did you wanna watch, sweetheart?” She called out from the front room.

 

“Um…” Alyssa was in her bedroom, changing into her pajamas, having no intention of getting a bath if she could possibly avoid it.  She walked out, pulling down her top over her belly and grinned, showing off her fuzzy slippers.  “Garfield?” She suggested, a movie she watched as often as humanely possible.

 

“Again?” Nicoya groaned out loud and sighed heavily as she raked a hand through her hair.  She suddenly remembered needing to give Alyssa a bath and stood up from the bed, knowing she wouldn’t like this.  “You need a bath, Alyssa Marie and if you argue with me, no ice cream.” She threatened, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and dared her daughter to defy her.

 

Alyssa groaned just like her mother, not wanting to take a bath.  “I almost have a near death experience and now you’re trying to drown me?” She whined, sighing under the look she received before heading towards the bathroom.  “Can I at least have a Sprite?” She asked hopefully, halting in the bathroom doorway.

 

“Get your butt in that tub while I go get it.” She ordered, compromising somewhat with her daughter, and smirked when Alyssa stuck her tongue out at her before starting the water.  Nicoya sighed as she slipped on her black robe that went to her knees and tied it before grabbing a dollar and her key card, heading out of the room.  She closed the door behind her and went down to the pop machine to grab the Sprite Alyssa asked for.

 

Mark was staring at the vending machine, not in the mood for coffee or water, which is what was in his room’s fridge.  His normal drinks though tonight he needed something not so bitter.  Something to go with his Jack Daniels.  He sighed, flexing his back and winced, wearing nothing, but a pair of black pajama bottoms.  Fresh out of a very interesting shower.  He’d discovered he couldn’t let water anywhere NEAR his back and had to even keep it on a semi-cold temperature.  It hurt him WAY too much to put it on even Luke warm.  “Hello darlin’.” He greeted when he heard someone behind him, turning around quickly to see Nicoya.

 

“Hi, Mark.” She greeted softly, raking a hand through her black hair, and took a dollar out of her robe pocket, sliding it into the machine, and pressed the Sprite button.  She cringed when Mark winced, knowing his back hurt, and felt that guilt gnawing at her insides again, but pushed it aside.  She’d dealt with enough shit that day and just wanted to get back to her room with her daughter and fall asleep crying after Alyssa went to sleep.  She bent down and retrieved the pop from the machine, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, and sighed again.

 

Mark heard her sigh and couldn’t help himself.  He took a quick glance at her ass.  Very nice.  He put his own money into the machine when she stepped away, getting himself a Coke.  “You look like you had a rough night, darlin’.” He commented softly, reaching out to absentmindedly push a stray lock of hair back away from her face.

 

“I did…” She admitted softly, biting her bottom lip, and stared back into his emerald green eyes, holding the cold Sprite in her hand.  “How’s your back?” She quietly asked, crossing her one arm in front of her chest, right under her breasts, the robe clinging to every curve of her body like her nightgown did.

 

“Nothin’ I can’t handle.” Mark replied, trying not to become distracted by the sudden view, finding Nicoya very attractive.  Though it was easy not to think about it with her firecracker daughter around.  “What happened?  The guys give you a hard time tonight?”

 

“You could say that.” She replied, raking a hand through her hair, and decided not to mention anything to Mark about John catching Alyssa before she fell down the staircase, since there was a hole in it.  “Just keep that burn ointment on and take cold showers for the next few days.  It shouldn’t take any more than a week to heal.” She assured him softly, the guilt in her eyes, and sighed as she closed her eyes, feeling sick to her stomach.  “I’m so sorry about that, Mark.  I honestly didn’t mean to do that.” She quietly apologized again.

 

Mark arched an eyebrow, personally wondering just how the Hell he was supposed to apply the ointment before mentally reminding himself that’s what the trainers were for.  Might as well make them earn their keep right?  “Don’t worry 'bout it, Nico.  Accidents happen.” He said just as quietly, raking a hand through his damp hair.  “The angel asleep?”

 

“No, actually she’s in the tub.” She smiled a little at the thought of her daughter not liking baths particularly, and waved the Sprite in his vision.  “She demanded I get her one or else she wasn’t taking her bath.” She rolled her eyes and sighed in mock exasperation.  “We’re gonna watch Garfield.” She groaned.  “For the umpteenth time.” She raked a hand through her hair, shaking her head.  “That kid needs to get a new favorite movie cause I’m not sure if I can watch it again without breaking the DVD in half.”

 

Mark cocked his head to the side, arching an eyebrow.  “Garfield?  Ain’t that a comic strip?” He asked curiously.  “When’d they make that into a movie?”

 

Nicoya started laughing at the look on his face and shook her head, patting him on the arm.  “If you want, you can come watch it with us.  They made it two years ago I think.” She was still giggling, not believing the priceless look on his face, and thought it was adorable.  “It’s up to you though, Mark.  Though, I’m sure Alyssa would love to see her hero again.” She smirked, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

 

Mark rolled his eyes at that.  “Ya ever goin’ to quit harassin’ me bout that woman?” He demanded gruffly, though there was a twinkle in his green eyes.  “I don’t know…I don’t want to intrude on yer time with her.  I know ya get precious little as it is.”

 

“You’re not intruding, but if you don’t want too, I’m not going to force you.” She smiled back at him reassuringly, patting his arm, and winked.  “If you change your mind, the offer is still on the table.  Have a good night, Mark.” She then walked away from him, Sprite in hand, and hoped her daughter hadn’t flooded the bathroom again.

 

Mark watched her walk away and shook his head before slipping back into his own room, which was right by the vending machine, forgetting about his drink all of a sudden.

 

Chapter 12

 

“Splish-splash, I’m taking a bath!” Alyssa sang, her head covered in a lather of shampoo, her hair all piled on top of her head.  She held a brush in front of her mouth, singing, careful not to splash the water or bubbles outside the tub.  “Whhhhhhoooooooo!”

 

Nicoya couldn’t stop laughing to herself as she grabbed the video camera and pressed record, filming her daughter singing with a brush to her mouth, sounding too adorable for words.  She smiled softly, finally stopping, and put the video camera away quietly before walking inside the bathroom, Sprite in hand.  “You about finished in here, Madonna?” She asked jokingly, smirking down at her little girl.

 

“Like a virgin…touched for the very first time…Like a virgin…” Alyssa sang sweetly, adoring Madonna.  “Mom, what does that mean anyway?” She asked, tilting her head back for Nicoya to rinse.

 

“You’ll find out when you’re older, sweetheart.  It’s an adult thing.” Nicoya replied, smiling softly back at her daughter, and took her robe off, hanging it on the door, and got down on her knees as she picked up the cup.  She filled it with water and started rinsing her daughter’s long black hair out, loving moments like these with her.  “You need to stop listening to Madonna.” She shook her head, laughing softly.

 

“She’s the queen of pop, not happening.” Alyssa replied, keeping her eyes scrunched tight.  Once her hair was rinsed, she picked back up the brush, waving it before her mouth.  “Oh baby, baby!  How was I supposed to know?  That something wasn’t RIGHHHHHTTTTTT?” She held the brush up before her mother.  “Sing it!”

 

“No way, Aly.  You know I can’t STAND Britney Queers.” Nicoya stated emphatically, shaking her head, and smirked as she grabbed the brush and began to sing one of Alyssa’s favorite songs.  “She left without leaving a number.  Said she needed to clear her mind.  He figured she’d gone back to Austin, cause she talked about it all the time.  It was almost a year before she called him up.  Three rings and an answering machine is what she got…” She trailed off and held the brush out to her daughter, right by her mouth.

 

“If you’re calling bout the car I sold it.  If this is Tuesday night, I’m bowling.  If you got somethin’ to sell, you’re wastin’ your time, I’m not buyin’.” Alyssa sang in her sweet, clear voice, stepping out of the tub and wrapped herself in a towel, giggling when her mother sang with her.  She sang her way out to the main room.  “Mom!  Mark’s here!” She yelped, diving back into the bathroom.  Mark was leaning in the open doorway, not actually stepping into the hotel room.  The door had been partially opened and when he seen that, it concerned him.  Until he heard the ladies singing in the bathroom together, which he thought was too sweet for words.

 

Nicoya’s eyes widened, not expecting him to be standing in the doorway, and immediately felt her cheeks go red as a strawberry AGAIN!  He just overheard them singing as she started shaking her head and dried her little girl off in the bathroom.  “Get dressed, Aly.” She instructed softly, walking out of the bathroom, and crossed her arms in front of her chest, wearing her sky blue nightgown without her robe.  “How did you get in here?” She asked, placing her hands on her hips, looking downright embarrassed as her cheeks grew even redder.

 

Mark averted his eyes, staring at the ceiling, the front of her nightgown soaked through from the bath.  “Yer door was open, darlin’.” He said quietly.  “I thought maybe…John had come back and…” He trailed off, reaching to rub the back of his neck, grateful for the pain because it distracted him.  “I didn’t mean to uh…intrude, but…I shoulda left when I heard ya’ll singin’.”

 

Nicoya didn’t realize her nightgown was soaked through as she sighed, not believing she was dumb enough to leave the door open, and smiled back at him.  “Don’t worry about it, Mark.  Come on in, the munchkin just got out of the tub.” She waved her hand at him and walked back into the bathroom, knowing he’d shut the door properly.  She felt her eyes shoot out of its sockets when she seen her nightgown becoming see through due to the water.  “Oh shit!” She shouted in surprise and grabbed her robe quickly wrapping herself in it, and turned even redder.

 

Alyssa looked up from zipping up her footed pajamas.  “Mom, did you show Mark your jub-jubs?” She asked, arching an eyebrow.  “Cause you now they’re showing right?”  Mark heard Nicoya cuss and shook his head, chuckling to himself as he took a sip of his straight Coke, not believing he’d come on down here.  Though he wanted to spend time with the both of them.  Honestly, he found himself drawn to both daughter and mother.

 

“Alyssa, go get your damned movie and spend time with your babysitter.” She ordered angrily, not believing she just showed Mark her breasts, even though they were clad in a matching bra.  She sighed heavily, raking her hands through her hair, and splashed cold water on her face to try to calm down.

 

Alyssa rolled her eyes, huffing in exasperation.  “Jeez…not my fault you flashed him!” She said with the door wide open before closing it behind her, annoyed that she was getting in trouble for simply asking a question.  Mark heard that flashed part and he went red, which was not missed by Alyssa.  “Not you too!”

 

“Alyssa Marie!” Nicoya shouted, her voice clearly sounding embarrassed and strained, and splashed more water on her face as she took a few gulps of it from her hand.  Sometimes her daughter’s mouth ran away with her and therefore, embarrassed Nicoya to no avail.  Tonight would be no exception, but she was glad her robe was black instead of such a thin, light color like her nightgown.  She groaned, not believing what she did, and felt like disappearing at that moment.

 

Mark was hiding his own face, hearing Nicoya and then the sounds of a movie starting up.  Guessing this was the infamous Garfield movie.  He adjusted the cotton black button up shirt he had pulled on, against better judgment.  Not wanting to be running around half naked in front of the women either.  He’d compromised by leaving it unbuttoned.

 

After getting herself to stop turning red, Nicoya finally stepped out, keeping her robe tightly shut, and groaned when she heard Garfield playing.  She looked at Mark, who stared right back at her, and sighed with inner relief when there was a knock on the hotel room door, knowing that was food arriving.  “Excuse me.” She whispered, walking past him, their arms brushing together, and felt a tingle shoot down her arm as she opened the door, smiling as the trolley was wheeled in, and paid the man before shutting the door behind her.  “Alyssa, dinner honey!” She called out, wheeling it over to the bed, and laughed when she protested.  “Bring your movie out here.  Mark has NEVER seen it!”

 

“Really?” Alyssa shouted back, a few minutes later coming out with the DVD, waving it at Mark before popping it in.  She settled on her mom’s bed and dug into her plate.  “Hungry?  I got enough to share.” She offered sweetly.

 

“No thanks, angel, I ate a while ago.” He replied, settling down on the couch, keeping his lower, not burnt back pressed against the low arm of the couch.

 

Sighing, Nicoya stood up and walked over, snapping her fingers.  “Stand up.” She ordered him, no fear in her midnight blue eyes, and smirked when Mark raised an eyebrow up at her.  “Alyssa, tell Mark to stand up for momma.” She called to her daughter, knowing Mark couldn’t resist her daughter’s big, beautiful blue eyes.  Even though they weren’t identical to hers.  They were identical to John’s.

 

“Mark, stand up.” Alyssa ordered, not looking back, too focused with her movie to be paying attention.

 

Mark arched the other eyebrow, smirking at the look on Nicoya’s face before slowly standing up, towering over her, and asked, “Yes?”

 

She grinned and turned around, reaching up, and peeled the shirt off of him, taking his hand, and pulled him over to the bed.  “Lay down face first.  You can watch the movie and let your back get some air.” She stated, smiling when her daughter scooted over, and patted the spot next to her.  “You have no choice now lay down, Mark.” She ordered gently, but firmly before retrieving some more burn ointment.  “You need to keep that back as open to air as possible, the fewer shirts you wear on it, the better and faster it’ll heal.  Even though I know you can’t help it in the ring.”

 

Mark groaned, laying down as she instructed, not even wanting to think about in ring attire at the moment.  “What the Hell is she watchin’?” He murmured, staring at the screen, trying not to find this the dumbest thing he’d ever seen in his life.

 

“Garfield.” Alyssa answered promptly, munching on her dinner.  “You really need to get out more, Marky.”

 

Nicoya started laughing at her daughter, nodding in agreement, and kissed the top of her head before crawling on the bed.  She once again straddled Mark’s waist, rubbing the ointment in her hands, and gently, very carefully began rubbing it in.  Sighing when she seen the red burn marks, Nicoya felt that guilt eating her alive again.  “Alyssa, when you’re finished, your ice cream is in the freezer.” She informed her daughter before turning her attention back to Mark’s back, her nightgown and robe riding up a little on her thighs.

 

Mark was feeling the heat alright, but it wasn’t from his back.  It was from her soft, gentle touch that was lighting him on fire.  He buried his face in the bed, trying not to think about that.  Damn this woman was beginning to drive him nuts!  He flinched when he heard Alyssa shrieking with laughter, raising his head to find her dancing along with the movie, and asked, “She ever wind down?”

 

“No, but she does listen to me when I tell her it’s bedtime.  This is her summer vacation so I let her slack sine she has no summer school in the morning.” She explained softly, smiling back at her daughter, and continued rubbing his back, not even worrying about the ointment anymore.  This man had an incredible physique and she loved the feeling of his muscles rippling beneath her fingertips.  It was a huge turn on for her, especially since John never allowed her to touch him like this.  “How’s that feeling?” She asked softly in his ear, her breasts barely brushing against his back.

 

Mark had to stifle a moan.  “Feelin’ better, darlin’ thanks.” He drawled, his voice low and husky.

 

“Ice cream!” Alyssa shrieked, heading towards the freezer.  She danced back out to the television with her bowl, settling down on the floor, giggling at what she seen.

 

Mark chuckled, watching her, and asked, “Home schoolin’ huh?  How’s that workin’?” He was trying to get his mind on anything, but this woman’s touch that was forcing Mark’s body to come alive.

 

“Well, her momma has a master’s degree in teaching so I’d venture to say it’s going well.” Nicoya softly retorted, sitting back up, and began rubbing further down his back, stifling her own moans as she bit her bottom lip.  Smiling when she seen her daughter was eating her ice cream.  “After that, it’s bedtime, Alyssa.” She stated, raising an eyebrow when her daughter looked at her, and continued rubbing the ointment in.  Part of her wanted to send her daughter to bed now so she could spend some alone time with this man.  Then remembered her vow when she came from RAW to Smackdown!, which was no more dating wrestlers.

 

Alyssa groaned, beginning to take her time with the ice cream, milking it out.  “Mom, but the movie is only halfway through!” She complained, licking her spoon ever so slowly.

 

Mark chuckled softly, not even realizing he was arching his back to Nicoya’s touch.  “Teacher huh?  How’d a teacher wind up writin’ scripts?” He asked, sounding genuinely interested.

 

“My degree has English and Literature in it along with writing and many other aspects that go into script writing.  I love writing scripts, it’s kinda like writing stories, which I do on occasion.” She explained gently, sighing heavily when she seen her daughter going slow on purpose, and shook her head.  “Fine, after the movie, bedtime and if you argue with me, you’ll go to bed tomorrow night early, like you do when you’re home schooled, understood?” She raised a challenging eyebrow at her daughter.

 

Mark arched an eyebrow, watching as Alyssa appeared to consider arguing, but then thought better of it.  Smiling when she ate her ice cream at a normal, he thought, pace.  “What kinda stories do ya write, Nico?” Alyssa started giggling, turning around to stare at her mother.  “What the Hell is so damned funny?”

 

“Alyssa…” Nicoya held a warning tone, her eyes narrowed somewhat, and coughed a little, clearing her throat.  “Just stories in general about my life.  Nothing you need to be concerned with, mark.” She stated, still rubbing his back, furrowing her eyebrows together as she moved his long tresses aside.  Studying the dancing skull tattoo that was on the back of his neck and ran her fingertips over it.  “Interesting…”

 

“It’s a crime to be curious these days?” Mark replied good-naturedly, barely repressing shivers when he felt her fingertips on his tattoo.  “Just a plain ol’ tattoo, darlin’.”

 

Alyssa yawned, crawling up on the bed to kneel besides them, leaning over to study the tattoo as well.  “Did this hurt?” She asked, obviously fighting back sleep, reaching up to rub her eyes.

 

“Not really, darlin’.” Mark murmured, turning his head so he could sort of see her.

 

“You got a lot of’em.” Alyssa said thoughtfully, pulling his arm out and studying it.  “Mom…look at this one.” Mark waited for the normal reaction he got, which was normally along the lines of how much of a freak he was, when people, mainly women, studied his arms thoroughly.

 

“They’re beautiful.” She murmured thoughtfully, smiling, and looked over at her daughter with a sigh.  “Come on, munchkin, let’s tuck you into bed.” She lifted Alyssa in her arms, bending down so her and Mark were eye level.  “Say good night to him.” She smiled when Alyssa hugged him around the neck and then kissed his cheek before yawning loudly.  Nicoya then carted her daughter into her room, laying her down gently on the bed, and covered her up, running her finger down her daughter’s cheek.  “I love you, Aly girl.” She murmured, kissing her forehead, and smiled, not believing how peaceful she looked.

 

Mark was off the bed when they disappeared, groaning softly.  He shook himself, trying to think of Nicoya as a co-worker and nothing more.  He raked a hand through his hair, walking over to stare out the window, planning on leaving after saying good night.  Though it might actually be better if he just walked out right now.  He frowned slightly, pressing his forehead to the cool glass, knowing he should just cut ties with both of them.  Nothing could ever come of him and Nicoya.  She was obviously skittish when it came to wrestlers and he had learned a long time ago dating co-workers was a bad thing.  But then again, she wasn’t like most of his co-workers either.

 

After admiring her daughter for a few more minutes, Nicoya finally walked out, closing the door gently behind her, leaving it cracked incase Alyssa needed her, and sighed.  She watched Mark staring out the window and knew he was probably having conflicting thoughts.  Knowing she should’ve stopped rubbing his back a long while back, but she couldn’t  help it.  Thoughts of John entered her mind suddenly, forcing her to blink back tears, and walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water, needing to calm down as she sighed.  John had broken her heart so many times.  Nicoya knew the only reason why she wasn’t a bitter woman was because of her daughter.  That was the ONLY good thing that came out of their entire relationship, which went on and off for eight years.  Nicoya knew she should cut ties with Mark, make him stop seeing her daughter, spending time with her, but she couldn’t.  That would break Alyssa’s heart and she refused to do that to her daughter.  She would deal with it and just maintain a strict relationship with Mark.  After getting her thoughts on track, Nicoya finally walked out and turned the movie off before wrapping the DVD playing up and then cleaned up her daughter’s mess.

 

Mark turned around, watching Nicoya, more than aware of her presence from the moment she stepped out of the room.  “Thanks fer…the movie and tendin’ my back.” He said finally, bending down to help her, holding out the ice cream bowl.  When she took it, he straightened up, leaning over to pick up his shirt.  “Nico, do you want me to stop seein’ Alyssa?” He finally asked bluntly.

 

Nicoya blinked back at him, not expecting him to ask her that, and cleared her throat as she walked into the kitchen, setting the bowls in the sink, and finally turned around to face him.  “No, it would break her heart if I forced you to stop seeing her and I refuse to do that to my little girl, Mark.” She answered softly, staring back into his green eyes, and wrapped her arms around herself.  “I may not want to admit it, but you are really great with her and I trust you fully and I know she does too.  You’re all she talks about and if I took that away from her…” She shook her head and swallowed hard.  “That would probably kill her to be brutally honest with you.  So no, you’re more than welcome to see Alyssa anytime you wish, Mark.”

 

Mark studied Nicoya intently, knowing she wasn’t comfortable herself around him.  That she didn’t really want him to see Alyssa, but was allowing it for her daughter.  “If it makes ya comfortable, darlin’, I’ll just watch her when yer busy.” He said finally, genuinely smitten with the little girl, finding her too damned adorable and intelligent for her own good.

 

“What makes you think I’m not comfortable around you, Mark?” Nicoya questioned, raising an eyebrow up at him, and crossed her arms in front of her chest, looking genuinely confused and hurt.  “I may come off timid around you, but that’s only because you are very intimidating.” She pointed out the obvious.  “Though, I’m getting used to you now so I’m not scared or uncomfortable around you anymore, especially with how adorable you look with Alyssa.”

 

“Well Nico, no offense intended, but you seem to shy away from the guys.  I gather it has to do with whatever happened between you and Cena.” His brows furrowed together.  “Earlier, ya looked shaken up, he wasn’t botherin’ you again was he?” His green eyes darkened a little bit.

 

“No, that wasn’t because of John.  You see, my brother works for the company too, but he doesn’t know I do.  I haven’t seen him since I was ten so he’s not technically my brother anymore.  Our parents divorced when we were young, but we were close back in the day.” Nicoya sighed resignedly, solemnly, and raked a hand through her black hair as she walked past him, sitting on the bed.  “I ran into him in the cafeteria and panicked so I fled.  That’s why I was in such a hurry earlier and that’s why your back is burned.” She took a deep breath, clasping her hands together in her lap.  “As far as being shy from the guys, I am because after an eight year relationship with John, on and off, how can I really trust anyone in this company besides a select handful?”

 

“You can’t.” Mark said softly, curious about who her brother was, though he knew better then to pry.  “I’ll let you get some sleep.  You must be runnin’ yerself ragged with having two rosters to deal with.” He moved towards the door, unsure of what to say anymore at this moment.  “Maybe ya oughta take a day fer yerself.”

 

“Nah, I’ll be fine.  I enjoy my job, even though the rosters are joined together now, but it does make it a little easier and more exciting as far as feuds go and whatnot.  And just so you know, my brother is Steve Williams.” She informed him, standing up from the bed, and walked over to the window, wrapping her arms around herself, and stared out the window.  “In case you and Alyssa ever run into him.  Just don’t say anything, please.  I don’t want anyone to know, especially him.” She requested softly, raking a hand through her black hair, and gripped it a little.

 

Mark’s jaw almost hit the floor.  So that’s why Alyssa had done what she did.  Frightening Steve off on purpose.  Smart girl.  He grinned, thinking she was a devious little thing.  “I won’t say a thing, Nico, don’t worry.” He assured her, seeing how tense she was.  He was very tempted to walk over to her and start rubbing away with tension, but felt that might be jumping the gun a bit, deciding he’d just wait and see what happened.  “Get some rest, darlin’.  Ten to one, yer little bundle of energy will run ya ragged tomorrow.” He chuckled softly.  “G’night, Nico.”

 

“Good night, Mark.” She softly replied, closing her eyes, and felt the tears slide down her cheeks as soon as the door clicked shut behind him, sighing heavily.  She knew it was coming and wiped them away, sniffling, and walked over the bed, collapsing on it, and cried herself to sleep.

 

Chapter 13

 

“Mom?  Mom?  Mom?  Mom?  Mom?  Mom?  MOM!” Alyssa finally bellowed, getting mildly tired of having to repeat herself just to get some attention.  “Why are you spacing?” She demanded, planting her hands on her hips.  “You’ve been in La-La Land all day now!” She groaned, taking the pen out of Nicoya’s hand.  “Break?”

 

“Good Lord, child, what do you want?” Nicoya snapped, staring at her daughter with narrowed blue eyes, and felt like her head was about to explode.  She shook her head and sighed heavily, kissing her forehead, and looked into her sky blue eyes that reminded her of John.  “What do you want, Alyssa?” She asked more patiently this time.

 

“Some love and attention?” Alyssa asked hopefully, moderately bored since she had spent the entire day playing by herself.  “Can’t you take a break or something?”

 

“Yeah, come here, kiddo.” She replied with a smile, lifting her daughter in her arms, and wrapped them around her waist as she sat perched on her lap.  “How’s this?  Is momma giving you what you want now?” She asked softly, kissing her forehead, and closed her eyes as she sighed heavily.  “I’m sorry I haven’t been paying attention to you lately, Aly.  Vince has really been busting my chops about these scripts.” She explained, knowing that was no excuse.  This was her daughter for Christ sakes!”

 

Alyssa snuggled against her mother.  This was exactly what she wanted.  Five minutes where she was the only thing in her mother’s mind.  “Why can’t ol’ Vinnie just hire another person to work with you so you’re not always busting your chops?” She asked curiously.

 

“I have no idea.” She sighed heavily, holding her daughter closer to her, and ran her fingers through her hair with a smile on her face.  It’d been two months since the rosters were merged together and Nicoya was hard at work every day, trying to get them done.  She hated it and had asked Vince to hire someone else, but he wouldn’t budge and instead, increased her pay dramatically.  It was too much money to turn down, but at the same time, Nicoya wondered how much longer she could go on before she finally dropped.  “How bout we go down to the cafeteria and get something to drink?” She suggested, knowing her daughter would love that idea.

 

Nodding, Alyssa smiled and slipped off of her mother’s lap.  She took her hand and tugged her up, making a great show of her being heavy.  “Whew…” Alyssa sighed, wiping off fake sweat from her forehead.  “Mountain Dew?” She asked, smiling slightly.

 

“Sure, anything for my baby girl.” Nicoya responded with a smile, walking out of her office with her daughter in tow.  She was wearing another one of her skirt suits, but it was pink and brown pinstriped as her brown, closed toed heels clicked against the arena flooring below.  She sighed when she seen how busy it was and lifted Alyssa up in her arms, smiling as she rubbed her nose against hers.  Laughing when Alyssa wrinkled it in response.

 

Alyssa smiled, fluttering her eyelashes against her mother’s cheek, giving her butterfly kisses.  She shifted comfortably, knowing she was too big for this kind of thing, but at the same time, she wasn’t about to be smashed either.  “Mom, there’s Mark.” She waved, grinning when he waved back.  “I’m hungry too.” She announced suddenly.  “How bout we have something fattening?”

 

“You know what, that sounds like a great idea, baby girl.” She replied, smiling over at Mark in acknowledgement, and set Alyssa down when she seen the cafeteria wasn’t that filled up.  She grabbed her hand and guided her over to the pop machine, grabbing a Sprite for herself and a Mountain Dew for her daughter.  Then, they went over to the dessert table and each grabbed a chocolate cupcake, grinning at each other, and sat down with Alyssa in her lap.  “Okay, it’s time to swap.” She announced and smiled as they curled their arms together, taking a bite out of each other’s, and laughed as they each got frosting on their nose.

 

Alyssa’s eyes crossed as she tried to look at the tip of her nose, sticking her tongue out, trying to get the frosting, giggling.  She finally just swiped her finger and got the frosting, popping it in her mouth.  “Mmm…” She snuggled against her mother.  “I like this.  I like it when you smile, Mom.”

 

“What are you talking about?  I smile!” She argued, placing her hands on her hips, and laughed when Alyssa took the frosting off of her nose, rubbing it against hers, and kissed her forehead.  “You make me smile, Aly.  You’re the only one who can do it, baby girl.  Never forget that.  Momma is always going to be there for you for anything you ever need.” She softly spoke to her daughter, taking another bite out of her cupcake, and never stopped caressing her daughter’s head.  Knowing she’d missed her over the past few weeks.

 

“I know.” Alyssa replied, now licking her fingers clean, having totally demolished that cupcake.  She smiled, crumpling the wrapping in her hand, and tossed it at the nearby trash can, sighing exasperatedly when she missed and shook her head.  Muttering, Alyssa got to her feet and snatched the paper off the floor.  This time aiming and getting it.  “Yes!” She danced around in a little circle, grinning at her mother.  “Can I have one more?”

 

She was too cute for words as Nicoya just admired her beautiful daughter, nodding in approval.  “Yeah, you’ve been an angel these past few weeks.  Go ahead and have another one.” She replied, folding her hands, and leaned her cheek against them, sighing. 

 

She knew it was hard for Alyssa not to be able to spend time with her, which is why Nicoya cherished these precious moments with her daughter.  She was thinking about John.  The man hadn’t been mean or anything to her lately.  Then her thoughts went to Mark and she felt her entire body tingle all over.  The man was gorgeous, sweet and treated her daughter like gold.  Still, Nicoya was scared to get into a relationship with another wrestler, but that still didn’t stop her and Mark from hanging out whenever Alyssa was with them.

 

Alyssa’s eyes twinkled as she grabbed three cupcakes secretively, making a detour to hand Mark one.  “It’s from Mom.” She said impishly, looking downright wicked.

 

Mark arched an eyebrow, looking down at the cupcake then to Nicoya, trying not to grin.  “Is it now?” He questioned with a smile stretching across his lips.

 

“Yup.” Alyssa giggled, skipping off to hand her mother the second cupcake.  “Mark says this is for you.”

 

Nicoya raised an eyebrow up at her daughter, staring down at the cupcake, which conveniently had a red shaped heart on the top of it in the white frosting, and smiled.  “Is it really?” She asked, eyeing her daughter suspiciously, and slowly took it as she stared down at it, almost afraid to touch it.  Even though she was holding it in the palm of her hand.  It made her heart flutter as she eyed the heart and sighed dreamily, leaning her chin on her hand.  Staring at it thoughtfully.  “Thanks, Aly.” She murmured quietly.

 

“You’re welcome.” Alyssa replied innocently, seeing the look on her mother’s face, and smiled sweetly.  She sat down at the table again on her mother’s lap, resting her head against Nicoya’s.  “Mommy, can we go out to dinner tonight?” She asked softly, not wanting room service again.

 

“You wanna go out to dinner?” She asked with a smile and nodded, not able to resist those adorable blue eyes of her daughter’s, and kissed her forehead gently.  “Sure, after mommas done with work.  We’ll go wherever you want.” She said, smiling softly at the cupcake, having set it down on the table, and sighed as she raked a hand through her long black hair.  What was going on in Mark’s head?

 

Alyssa kept that sweet smile on her face, her blue eyes still looking innocent, and totally adorable.  “Maybe you should ask Mark to go.” She suggested as if it had just struck her.  “He looks awfully lonely don’t you think?” She waved at Mark again, who wasn’t eating his cupcake either.  Instead, looking at it then at them then at the cupcake again.

 

Nicoya raised a curious eyebrow up at him, and then stared down at her daughter, then back at the cupcake.  Repeating that around three times before finally shaking her head.  “If you want him to go, you go ask him.” She finally said, not sure what to think of the cupcake, and looked like she was afraid to touch it as her eyebrows furrowed together.

 

Alyssa didn’t have to be told twice and flew over to Mark, moving so she was sitting beside him, and greeted sweetly with her teeth showing, “Hi.”

 

“Hello again.” Mark replied, peering down at her with a smile on his face.  She was the only person, besides Nicoya, who could make him do it.

 

“Would you like to have dinner with me and my mom?” She asked without preamble.  “At an actual restaurant, with real food.”

 

“Are you trying to sell me on the idea?” Mark asked, his eyebrow cocking and his smile turning into a smirk when she nodded.  “Does your mom want me to go or are you just buggin’ her?”

 

Alyssa flashed that innocent, adorable smile of hers and replied sweetly, “She wants you to go.”

 

Nicoya sighed heavily, staring down at the cupcake again, and couldn’t believe Mark had actually sent her one.  Wasn’t this a little…childish to do?  Even if it was, Nicoya thought it was positively adorable and couldn’t wipe the smile from her face.  Her midnight blue eyes were sparkling.  Something they hadn’t done in a long while.  She sighed as she finally lifted it up, twirling it around, studying it thoughtfully.

 

Mark looked up at Nicoya, his green eyes twinkling as he took it what she was doing, and asked quietly, “Is she alright?”

 

Alyssa followed his gaze and seen the dreamy look on her mother’s face, grinning to herself.  “She’s trying to decide if she wants to lick the frosting off first.” She told him seriously.

 

“Is she now?” Mark replied, mildly curious, and didn’t miss the faraway look that came over Nicoya’s facial features, making her even more beautiful to him, if that was possible.

 

“Yup, so you gonna come?” Alyssa pushed, nudging his arm, wanting an answer so she could go inform her mother.

 

He looked down at his own cupcake, studying it for a minute before nodding as he replied, “Sure angel, I’ll go.”

 

“Great!” Alyssa stated excitedly, standing on the bench to kiss his cheek before jumping off and zoomed over to her mother, who was still staring at the cupcake languorously.  “He said he’ll come!”

 

“Was there ever any doubt?  You know that man will do anything you want, baby girl.” Nicoya retorted playfully, smiling softly at her, and actually took a chunk out of the cupcake, licking the frosting off of her nose.  “Here, you take a bite.” She said, holding it to her daughter, and smirked when Alyssa took a nice chunk out of it.  “You got more frosting on your nose.” She giggled, wiping it off, and licked her finger clean of it before her lips.  “Mmm this is the best cupcake I’ve ever had.” She winked down at her daughter before finishing it off and then threw the wrapper away.  “Come on, gotta get to work if we’re going to get out of here early for dinner with your man.” She winked down at her daughter teasingly.

 

Alyssa smiled sweetly, taking her mother’s hand.  “I think he’s YOUR man.” She said, not loud enough to be overheard though.  “How much more work you got tonight?” She asked, sounding hopeful, praying not that much more so they could get to dinner.

 

Nicoya smirked back down at her daughter and shook her head as she sighed heavily, knowing it would never happen.  “Not much, a few more scripts.  I’ll do the rest tomorrow.” She responded, walking down the hallway, and passed Mark on the way, smiling down at her daughter.  Once they were back in her office, Nicoya turned around to face Alyssa and stared down into her eyes.  “Sweetheart, I don’t want you getting your hopes up about me and Mark alright?  We’re just friends, you understand that, right?” She didn’t want her daughter getting the false impression or anything, especially with how much time her and Mark had spent together lately, with Alyssa of course.

 

“I already knew that, Mom.  You don’t date wrestlers.” Alyssa said just as seriously, repeating one of Nicoya’s favorite phrases.  “I just like having him around.  He’s fun and he makes us both laugh.” She replied, shrugging her shoulders, and headed over to her low table in the corner, picking up a child sized deck of cards, and started making a castle.  Though she had every intention of rectifying that little rule about the dating wrestlers.  Not that her mother needed to know that little factor.  “You think way too much, Mommy.”

 

“You’re right, I do.” Nicoya agreed with a smile, shaking her head, and walked over, sitting behind her desk.  She finished the scripts in record time, actually feeling thrilled about Mark joining them for dinner, and grinned when she finally finished.  “Ready to go, pumpkin?” She asked, slipping the rest of the papers in her briefcase and stood up from her chair, packing up the rest of her things quicker than normal.

 

“Yup.” Alyssa was packing up her toys.  She slung her backpack over her shoulders, looking at her mother critically before shrugging.  “Let’s go get Marky.” She said, tugging on the hem of Nicoya’s skirt.

 

“Marky huh?  I guess that’s better than Undie.” She giggled, taking her daughter’s hand that was tugging on the hem of her skirt, and walked out of her office.  She had her black bag swung over her shoulder while Alyssa had her backpack that had Garfield on it.  She smirked and shook her head before arriving outside of Mark’s dressing room a few minutes later and stepped back.  “Go ahead and get him.” She said, leaning against the wall.

 

Alyssa shook her head and knocked on the door, frowning suddenly.  “I got to pee!” She yelped, darting across the hallway and into the bathroom, grinning devilishly to herself.

 

Mark opened the door, revealing he was just in a pair of tight black jeans that looked like a second skin on him, fresh out of the shower, a towel around his neck.  “Hey darlin’, ya done already?” He greeted, looking at Nicoya with a smile.

 

Nicoya had to learn how to breathe again at the sight of Mark.  Seeing little water droplets sliding down his chest, and cleared her throat before looking down the hallway where her daughter just darted off too, raising an eyebrow.  “Yeah, Aly had to use the bathroom, I guess.” She sounded confused and started to chuckle softly.  “The kid never did know when to release her bladder until the absolute last minute.” She started laughing softly and crossed her arms in front of her chest.

 

Mark shook his head, chuckling softly with her.  “Give me a second, Nico.” He said, stepping back into the room, the door halfway closing behind him.  He pulled out a white button up shirt from his bag and slowly slipped it on.

 

Alyssa strolled out of the bathroom, walking over to join her mother, and peeked into Mark’s room through the gap.  “Mom, are you watching him dress?” She whispered, her blue eyes gleaming wickedly.

 

“No, I am not.  He left the door cracked open.” She informed her daughter calmly, though she wished she would’ve watched him dress, and immediately shook herself mentally.  This man was a co-worker and had become a good friend of her.  Nothing more.  She raked a hand through her black hair and turned away fully from the door.  “Is this better, Alyssa?” She asked patiently, sighing exasperatedly at her daughter.

 

Alyssa started giggling, looking first at her mother and then behind her as she greeted sweetly, “Hiya Marky.”

 

“Hey angel.” Mark sounded amused, his shirt buttoned up, leaving the top three open to leave just the slightest bit of chest.  His hair was brushed back and his black duffel bag was slung over his broad shoulder.  “Nico, what’re ya doin’?  That wall interestin’?” He asked, not able to keep the hilarity out of his tone of voice.

 

“Proving a point to my daughter, Mark.” She responded swiftly before turning around to face him, a cool smile on her face, and tossed her bag over her own shoulder again.  “We better feed this little tyrant before she goes hungry.” She joked, grabbing Alyssa’s hand, and guided her down the hallway, Mark grabbing her other tiny hand when she reached for it, and that made Nicoya smile.  “Which car are we taking?”

 

“Um…probably yours.  I’m riding my motorcycle and didn’t bother gettin’ a rental.” Mark replied, grinning when Alyssa going on about motorcycles.  “Unless you’d rather I follow ya?”

 

“No, ride with us!” Alyssa said brightly, her teeth showing, her eyes sparkling.  “Mom doesn’t mind, do you Mom?” Mark just shook his head, laughter clearly in his emerald green eyes.

 

“If it makes you happy, baby girl then I don’t mind.” Nicoya replied softly, shaking her head, her heels clicking against the gravel once they were outside.  Nicoya instantly peeled off her cardigan, wearing a midnight blue tank top that was silky underneath, and shook her hair out a little from having it up in chopsticks all day.  “Wow, it’s a nice night out here.” She commented, smiling down at her daughter, and lead her toward the car, knowing Mark would follow.  “Just put your bags in the back, Mark.  We’ll get your motorcycle when dinner is finished if you want.”

 

Mark shrugged, placing his bag in the back when she unlocked the car.  “Don’t worry 'bout it, I’ll just have it dropped off at the hotel or somethin’.  This way, ya ain’t gotta go outta yer way, Nico. “He said, winking down at Alyssa when she started giggling.  He bent down and picked her up, tossing her into the air before catching her again.  “And just what is so funny?”

 

“You do know this car is small right?” She pointed out the obvious, that impish smile on her face even though she looked like an innocent angel.

 

Smirking wickedly back at her daughter, Nicoya shook her head and slid in the driver’s side, unlocking all the doors, and allowed them to fight over the front seat.  She turned on Breaking Benjamin, one of her favorite bands, and turned it on her favorite song before cranking it.  She tapped her fingers against the wheel and started moving her head back and forth to the beat before turning the ignition on.  Mark finally planted Alyssa up front before taking the back, having to sit sideways just so he’d fit, hunching down.  “Aly, stop that gigglin’.” He growled playfully.

 

“I can’t help it!  You’re all scrunched up!” She laughed, fastening her seatbelt.  “You look like one of those clowns in a teeny tiny car at the circus!” Mark busted out laughing at the visual he got in his mind, agreeing fully with her.

 

Nicoya busted out laughing along with Mark, that visual going through her mind, and looked over at her daughter.  “Sweetheart, let Mark have the front seat.  He’s too big back there and if Mommy gets pulled over, she could get in a LOT of trouble.” She smiled when her daughter more than complied, shaking her head, and watched as Mark slid in the passenger seat.  “Underneath you can push the seat…” She jumped when he did it and put her song on repeat.  “Back.”

 

Mark grinned over at her, looking still a little cramped, but much more comfortable, snorting when Alyssa started calling him Bozo.  “Girl, soon as we’re outta this car, I’m gonna get ya.” He threatened playfully, knowing it wouldn’t scare the little girl.  Alyssa was fearless.

 

Alyssa settled back as the car took off.  “Ooooohhhh I’m soooooo scared, Undie!” She put her hands on her cheeks, mocking him.  Again, the little eight year old girl was fearless and wasn’t scared of hardly anything.

 

Chapter 14

 

Nicoya laughed as she pulled out of the parking lot, going at a consistent speed, not wanting to scare her daughter.  She smiled at her in the rearview mirror before turning her song on again and smirked over at Mark, who didn’t look comfortable at all.  It got worse when the girls started singing it together, loving how musical her daughter was, and laughed when Mark groaned.  Breaking Benjamin wasn’t exactly one of his all-time favorite bands.  That much Nicoya knew, but she couldn’t help it.  She loved them and, more importantly, the song that kept repeating.

 

Mark suffered good-naturedly, actually enjoying listening to Nicoya and Alyssa singing.  He couldn’t deny he was relieved though when they finally pulled into the restaurant parking lot, being cramped and song on repeat slightly drove him batty.  Once Alyssa was out of the car, he scooped her up and tossed her over his shoulder.  “Now, what was that?” He asked, smirking wickedly as he held her tightly.

 

“BOZO!”

 

“We need to get him a big red nose to put on.” Nicoya piped in and smirked when Mark growled at her, raising an eyebrow, her midnight blue eyes filled with amusement.  “You don’t scare me, Bozo wannabe, try again.” She laughed when her daughter started cracking up, and walked inside the restaurant, getting them a booth with non-smoking since none of them were smokers.

 

“Mark, why don’t you ever snatch Mom up like you do me when she teases you?” Alyssa asked curiously once they were settled in.

 

Mark almost choked on the water he was sipping, using a napkin to dab his lips, staring at her for a minute before glancing at Nicoya.  “I don’t think yer momma would appreciate me tossin’ her around like a rag doll.” He finally said, having to get his thoughts in order.

 

”She might, it’s fun.” Alyssa remarked sweetly and sucked down half of her water.

 

It was Nicoya’s turn to cough on her own water, clearing her throat, and shook her head.  “No, I wouldn’t actually, Alyssa.” She stated after catching her breath and shook her head at her daughter before looking over her menu, trying to decide what she wanted.

 

“I think Mom needs to have her head checked.” Alyssa said, giggling softly.  “She only works.  She doesn’t play.”

 

“She has an important job, angel.” Mark argued gently, patting Alyssa’s hand with a small smile on his face.

 

“Yeah, but still…even she needs some fun!” Alyssa insisted, crossing her arms in front of her chest, refusing to lose this argument battle.

 

Mark met Nicoya’s gaze for a minute before his lips curled into a slight smile.  “She does have a point, darlin’.  You do work awfully hard.” He finally pointed out, giving Alyssa the benefit of the doubt, and took another sip of his water.

 

“Yeah well, when you have as many wrestlers and Divas scripts to write as I do, you don’t really have enough time in the day to have fun.” Nicoya argued promptly, taking a long swig of her water, and raked a hand through her hair, raising an eyebrow up at her daughter.  Already having a feeling she knew what she was trying to pull.  “The only person I have fun with is you, sweetheart.  You know that.” She winked at her before going back to her menu, studying it thoughtfully, pursing her lips together.

 

“See?  Told you yesterday she was boring.” Alyssa said, sounding slightly bothered.

 

“Borin’ and busy are two different things, Aly.” Mark said slowly, flashing the waitress a grin when she reappeared.  He chuckled softly when Alyssa ordered for herself as well as him, nodding his head when the waitress arched a questioning eyebrow at him.

 

Alyssa frowned when she seen the server paying Mark WAY too much attention and decided to end it.  “Mommy, you ready to order?” She asked loudly, smiling sweetly when the waitress jumped at the tone of her voice.

 

“Sorry, spaced out there.” She smiled sweetly up at the waitress, who was staring dreamily at Mark, and handed her the menus.  “I’ll have an order of the chicken strips, extra honey mustard sauce.” She ordered sweetly and watched as the waitress reluctantly left the table, smirking evilly at back Mark.  “Looks like you have an admirer, Mark.  Perhaps a nun?” She joked, that evil smirk never leaving her lips.

 

Mark’s eyes half closed, a wicked smirk of his own on his sensual lips.  “It’s not nuns I’m interested in, darlin’.” He replied in a low drawl, winking at her before turning his attention to Alyssa, who was doodling with her fingertip on the table.

 

“Can I ask?” She wondered, raising her head, curiosity burning in her blue eyes, still wondering about that whole nun thing from way back when.

 

“No sweetheart, I told you, you’ll learn about it when you’re much older.” Nicoya shook her head as she leaned on her hand, staring over at her daughter, not DARING to look over at Mark.  That sensual smirk he gave her was already making her wetter than the Atlantic Ocean and she was wearing a skirt!

 

Alyssa sighed dramatically, expecting nothing less from her mother.  “How old are we talking about here?” She demanded, wanting to know about the nun thing now.

 

Mark chuckled softly, stretching his long legs, accidentally grazing Nicoya’s beneath the table.  “Sorry.” He apologized, promptly pulling them back before focusing on Alyssa.  “Impatient mite, aren’t ya?” He smirked when she nodded her head emphatically and moved his gaze back to her breathtaking mother.

 

“An adult.” Nicoya stated finally, shaking her head back at her daughter, and stared down at her glass of water.  She felt a shiver shoot up her spine when his leg brushed against hers and knew this was going to be extremely hard to deal with.  She breathed a sigh of relief when their food arrived, smirking when the waitress purposely leaned forward to give Mark a clear view of her cleavage, and started eating her food.  As long as the bitch’s breasts weren’t in her daughter’s view, that’s all she cared about.  Mark wasn’t hers so she couldn’t say a word.  “Eat up, Aly.”

 

Mark groaned when the waitress lingered to ask if he wanted anything else, but put a sexual spin on the words.  “No thanks, I’m good with what’s right here.” He said pointedly, smirking when her eyes moved onto Nicoya speculatively.  His eyes narrowed when the waitress flounced off, snorting.

 

“I don’t think she likes you anymore, Mark.” Alyssa commented, arranging her food on her plate the way she liked it.  Everything separated.  “I don’t think she’s a nun either.”

 

Nicoya actually choked on her water that time, coughing and sputtering incoherently, not believing what Alyssa just said.  She snorted and tried hard not to laugh, but it wasn’t happening as she laughed full heartedly, placing her hand over her heart, and shook her head.  “Oh wow, this is definitely an interesting dinner.” She commented, wiping a tear from her eye from laughing so hard.  Something she hadn’t done in quite a while.

 

Mark was busy laughing at the moment, tears in his eyes as well.  He wiped them away, staring at Alyssa.  “Yer the most funniest, cutest thing.” He murmured, laughing again when she just smiled innocently.

 

“What?  It’s true!” Alyssa exclaimed, busy eating her food, wondering if Mark and her mother had truly lost their minds.  “Besides, she’s kinda fat in the butt.  Do nuns have fat butts?” Mark had to bury his face in his arms on the table to keep from bellowing out in laughter.

 

“Alyssa Marie!” Nicoya tried scolding her daughter, but it wasn’t happening.  There was too much amusement in her voice as she laughed harder, not believing her daughter.  She snorted when the waitress came back, looking mildly annoyed while they tried desperately to keep their laughter in.

 

“Ma’am?” Alyssa asked sweetly when the waitress grudgingly asked if they would like to order a dessert for after their dinner.  “What do you have that’s fattening?”

 

Mark was going red from trying not to laugh, biting on his tongue hard.  “Lookin’ to get a big…butt?” He asked, not able to resist, and turned even redder to keep from laughing out.

 

Alyssa smiled at him, looking positively adorable, and replied, “I thought only nuns had big butts.” He slumped sideways in the booth, his shoulders shaking violently, but didn’t laugh out loud.

 

Nicoya’s jaw dropped at the two, covering her mouth, and felt her entire face go red, trying really hard not to laugh, and cleared her throat as she managed to get out, “No dessert, check please.” As soon as the waitress walked away, Nicoya keeled over in the booth, laughing her ass off, tears streaming down her cheeks.  Not believing the antics of Mark and her daughter.

 

“Should we leave her a tip?” Alyssa asked, watching the two adults.

 

“I got a tip for her.” Mark snorted in response.

 

“What?” Alyssa questioned, raising an eyebrow up at Mark, curiosity burning in her blue eyes again.

 

“Don’t play in movin’ traffic.”

 

Alyssa was quiet for a minute, figuring that one out on her own before grinning, shrieking out with laughter.  “Can we write that down, momma?” She asked, then clammed up when the waitress came back with the check.

 

“You have such a cute kid.” She said flatly to Mark, no amusement in her voice or kindness for that matter.

 

“I know, she’s the spittin’ image of her momma.  Simply beautiful.” He replied cheerfully, not missing a beat.  “Wouldn’t you agree?” Alyssa now officially had to duck under the table to laugh.

 

Nicoya shook her head, looking up at the waitress and took the check from her, leaving her the money with a three dollar tip, and slid out of the booth smirking.  “Yes, I do have a beautiful child.  Thanks for the compliment, nun.” She snorted before walking away, causing Alyssa to laugh even harder, and lifted her up as she spun her around before venturing outside.  “I love you so much, baby girl.  You are too damned cute for your own good!” She was still laughing.

 

“I can be.” Alyssa agreed, dispensing with the modesty.  There wasn’t a modest bone in this girl’s body.

 

Mark had to lean against the car, bending down to place his hands on his knees.  “Damn, I almost feel bad for that woman.”

 

“Almost, right?” Alyssa questioned promptly, peering over her mother’s shoulder at him.

 

“Yeah, ALMOST.” Mark clarified, emphasizing that word almost clearly.

 

Nicoya smirked back at Mark, finally stopping the laughing, and placed her daughter in the backseat before closing the door.  “By the way, thanks for the cupcake earlier, schnookums.” She smirked again and slid inside the driver’s seat, not giving him time to respond, and turned The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus on, cranking it, and waited for him to get in.

 

Mark arched an eyebrow, wondering if she just called him schnookums, shivering at the very thought before shaking his head.  Alyssa.  He smirked and slipped into the car, leaning over so his mouth was right next to Nicoya’s ear and said, “Not a problem, sugar.” Alyssa watched as Mark fastened himself in, curious now about what was going on.  Though, she just shrugged, beginning to get tired and rested her head back against the seat, closing her eyes.

 

The ride to the hotel was made in silence, both adults in their own little worlds, and Alyssa had fallen asleep in the backseat.  Once she pulled into the parking lot, Nicoya got out, carrying her bag with her, and pulled her daughter into her arms.  She groaned, not believing how heavy she was getting, but she didn’t have the heart to wake her as she managed to close the door shut.  She smiled when Mark took her daughter from her arms and nodded her approval, not able to handle her daughter’s weight, and lead them up the back way of the hotel.  So Mark couldn’t be recognized by local ring rats and fans that were lurking out in the hotel lobby.  Once inside her room, Nicoya pointed to Alyssa’s bedroom, kicking off her heels, and set her bag down before walking inside.  She leaned against the doorway as she watched Mark tuck Alyssa into bed.  It made her heart soar to watch it and leaned her head against the doorframe thoughtfully.

 

Mark smiled, gently brushing Alyssa’s hair back from her face, his heart filling with love when she smiled and murmured something in her sleep.  “Night angel.” He murmured, leaning down to kiss the top of her head before slowly standing up and turned around, halting when he seen Nicoya.  He studied her, taking in the expression on her face before walking over to her.  He reached out to gently rest his hand on her shoulder, staring down at her for a second longer before brushing past her.

 

“Night sweetheart.” She whispered softly, closing the door, leaving it open a crack and then walked over to the bed, sitting down on it, and peeled off her thigh high nylons before throwing them in her bag.  She seen Mark was staring out the window in deep thought, knowing he was probably wondering what was going on between them.  In truth, she knew what it was and was scared to let it happen because of what John did to her.  She knew that cupcake was her daughter trying to get them together and wondered if Mark knew.  She smiled at the thought and stood up, getting herself a glass of wine, something she did only on occasion when she needed to relax.  “If you want a drink, the liquor is over here, Mark.” She said softly, sitting back down on the bed, and took a sip of her wine.

 

Mark turned around, looking at her before nodding, walking over to pour himself a shot of whiskey.  Something told him this probably wasn’t a very prudent idea and promised himself he’d only have one.  He smirked, leaning back against the bar, recalling dinner and shook his head, beginning to chuckle again.  “Some night huh?”

 

“Leave it to my daughter to make the night interesting.” She laughed softly, finishing off her first glass of wine and walked over, pouring herself another before brushing past him.  She lay down on the bed, leaning further back against the headboard, curling her feet beneath her butt, and studied him thoughtfully.  “She means a lot to you don’t she?” It wasn’t a question.

 

Mark nodded, settling himself down on the stool, planting one foot on a rung and the other on the floor, shooting down his shot.  “Yeah, she does.” He said honestly, meeting her midnight blue eyes.

 

“I don’t have a problem with it, Mark.” She softly assured him with a smile, her eyes telling him she meant it, and swirled her wine around in her glass with her finger.  “Sometimes I feel guilty for not telling her about who her father is, but know the moment I do, he’s going to turn around and break her heart.  I don’t want my daughter’s heart broken, not like mine was.” She softly explained, taking a sip of her wine, and sighed heavily as she closed her eyes.  “I don’t regret having her, but I do regret having her with him, if that makes any sense.  I wouldn’t trade her in for anything in the world, but if I could do it all over again, I would’ve had her with someone else who actually loved and respected us.” This wasn’t the alcohol talking either.  This was Nicoya talking, spilling out her feelings to this man who had become a really great friend to her and Alyssa over the past two months.

 

Mark listened to her, understanding her perfectly, her words making sense to him.  “It’s not somethin’ ya can change, Nico, no point in regrettin’ it, darlin’.” He said softly.  “Life’s just too damned short for regrettin’.  And one day, Alyssa is goin’ to find out all about him and she’ll make the choice whether or not she wants to know him, it’s her right.  You’ll just have to be there to pick up the pieces if he does hurt her.” Mark’s green eyes clouded over suddenly.  If John DID hurt his little angel, he was going to rip the son of a bitch’s head off.

 

“That’s not going to happen, Mark.” Nicoya stated emphatically, standing up from the bed, and wrapped her arms around herself, walking over to stare out the window, and dropped her head forward.  “I’m not telling her about him ever.  I don’t want to chance him trying to use her as leverage against me.  That’s the type of person John is.  He’ll take one look at her and then at me and instantly find a way to take her from me, just to hurt me.” Tears began running down her face as she shook her head back and forth.  “He’s never going to find out; I don’t care if it’s her right or not.  It’s my job to protect her as her mother.”

 

Chapter 15

 

“Nico, why-” Mark moved so he was standing behind her, reaching out to stop her from shaking.  He gently turned her around and stared down into her eyes, his own crinkling with pain when he seen her tears.  “Why would he do that to you, darlin’?  What happened to make you worry so much?”

 

Nicoya sniffled a little, placing her hands on her hips, and laughed bitterly.  “He used to hit me a lot, threatened to hurt me if I didn’t do what he said, which I didn’t so I got my ass beat.  Eight years is a long time to deal with that kind of abuse, especially after I had his child.  I kept going back to him because I was stupid and naïve and thought he actually gave two fucks about me.  Imagine my surprise when ten months ago, I found him fucking Torrie Wilson in his dressing room with her bent over, spread eagle on his couch.” Nicoya felt sick to her stomach as she pressed a hand to it, taking a deep breath.  “That was the last time he was going to break my heart, which is why I immediately transferred over here from RAW.”

 

Mark inhaled sharply, his eyes now shooting emerald green fire.  “He hit you?” He said in a low rumble, remembering the time Alyssa had come to get him when John was in Nicoya’s office, eyes narrowing.  “If he comes near you ever again, let me know…” He muttered, not about to watch that cocksucker do anything to either Nicoya or Alyssa.

 

“That’s why it was a really good thing my daughter went to get you when she did and you showed up when you did.  I have no doubt in my mind he wouldn’t hit me had you not showed up when you did.” Nicoya sniffled as more tears fell down her cheeks and walked away from him, needing another refill.  She filled her glass to the rim before taking a long swig of it before turning around to face him.  “I wasn’t about to bring Alyssa into that kind of relationship, especially with how short John’s temper is.  He would’ve hit her too had he known about her and used her against me as leverage every fucking chance he got his hands on, Mark.  I always gave him six months every time we were together to get his act together and then I was going to tell him about her, but it never made it past three. 

 

Mark couldn’t honestly blame Nicoya for the choice she’d made regarding John and Alyssa.  “You did what you thought was right, he don’t deserve to know her.  He didn’t deserve you.” He said gently, meaning that with everything in him.  He walked over to her, holding out a bandana, reaching out to gently wipe away her tears when she didn’t move to take it.

 

“You’re the first man I’ve ever talked with about this.” She admitted quietly, allowing him to wipe her tears away, and stared at him as they kept falling.  She cried every night whenever Alyssa went to bed.  A release of her pain and sorrow, heartbreak and all of her emotions.  She was used to this by now and sighed heavily, taking another long swig of her wine before walking away from him.  “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to…dump that all on you.  I know you have your own problems to deal with and everything.” Her voice was low and quiet as she set her wine glass down, not able to hold it anymore since she was trembling so hard.

 

Mark shook his head, watching her, guessing now would be the time she put that wall back up between them.  “My problems are tryin’ to decide if I want to wear blue jeans or black jeans in the mornin’, darlin’.” He replied softly, letting her know she wasn’t bothering him.  “I’m always willing to lend an ear if ya need someone to talk too, Nico.”

 

She slowly turned around and finally broke completely down, covering her face with her hands, and managed to walk over into his arms, burying her face in his chest.  She needed comfort.  She needed a hug.  She needed someone to listen to her.  To see her side.  To tell her that she was doing the right thing.  She had a feeling Mark could do all of that for her and wrapped her arms around his waist, hoping he didn’t push her away.  She was desperate to feel something, anything besides the same fear and sadness she had for the past eight years.

 

Mark wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly against him, and rested his head on top of hers, letting her cry on him.  He rubbed her back in slow, soothing circles, murmuring softly in her ear.  He stroked her hair with one hand.  Doing his best to let her know it was alright.  That she was doing the right thing.  That she was doing the best anyone ever could in this kind of situation.

 

After crying for a good hour straight, just standing there, allowing him to comfort her, Nicoya finally pulled away from him and sighed heavily.  “Sorry.” She whispered, raking a hand through her black hair and sat down on the bed, dropping her head forward.  She hadn’t meant to breakdown like that, but after everything she just told him.  After experiencing it all again verbally, Nicoya couldn’t handle it and needed to feel some kind of comfort.

 

“Why’re ya sorry, darlin’?” Mark asked gently, not bothered in the least, even if he had lost feelings in his toes.  “Don’t apologize, Nico, not to me.” She needed to cry and be comforted and he suddenly felt the need to hold her.  Comfort her.  Protect her if he could.  None of it was making sense at the moment to Mark.  He’d been trying for a while now to sort through his own thoughts when it came to Nicoya and every time he reached a conclusion, he wound up back at the beginning.  Rethinking it all over again.  He sighed inwardly, thoughts were getting him nowhere.  Just acting on impulse, holding her, that had felt right to him.

 

“I didn’t mean to soak your shirt.” She sniffled out, speaking softly, her voice hoarse from crying and sighed heavily as she rubbed her arms with her hands.  “Thank you for…giving me the comfort I needed to feel, Mark.  Makes me know that I’ve made the right decision when it comes to Alyssa and that situation with her sperm donor.” She sighed heavily and stood up, raking a hand through her hair.  “Do you mind if I go change really fast?  This skirt is driving me bonkers.” She cracked a small smile at him.

 

 

Mark arched an eyebrow, having had every intention of leaving so she could sleep or whatever she did at night.  Now THERE was an interesting thought.  “Course not, darlin’, do whatever ya want.” He murmured, taking in the skirt she wore.  It looked good on her, but it did look uncomfortable at the same time.

 

“Thanks, I’ll be out in a few minutes.” She whispered softly, running her hand across his cheek gently before grabbing a nightgown out of her bag, and walked inside.  She peeled out of her clothes and then slipped on the emerald green gown that went to her knees and it was spaghetti strapped and silky.  She splashed some cold water on her face to get rid of the redness of her eyes and then patted her face dry with a towel before finally walking out.  “Much better.” She purred in contentment, shaking her head a little to move her hair from her back.  “I always hate wearing those suits.”

 

Mark had to clear his throat and look elsewhere when she came out.  Emerald green with her blue eyes and black hair, simply stunning in his eyes.  Of course there was factoring in her gorgeous, curvy body.  He mentally slapped himself.  ‘Quit thinkin’ like that, man!’ He scolded himself, wondering when his mind started running away with him.  “Why don’t ya just wear jeans then, darlin’?” He asked, needing to distract himself.

 

“You know Vince’s new policy, Mark.  Oh wait, it doesn’t apply to you.” She playfully glared at him and walked over, sitting down on the bed on her needs, and crossed her arms in front of her chest.  “Lucky fucker.” She muttered, though the amusement clearly shone in her midnight blue eyes.

 

“And just what-” Mark replied, sinking down onto the couch and staring at her, amusement in his own green orbs.  “Is Vince gonna do?  Fire ya?” He snorted at the thought, knowing it would never happen.  “Please woman, you could get away with comin’ to work in sweat pants and a t-shirt and he wouldn’t bat an eyelash.”

 

“Actually, yes he would.  That one time I wore jeans at the arena, Stephanie had to write me up a warning.  She had no choice.” She sighed heavily and rolled her eyes, shaking her head.  “Besides you and John, the rest of us are being forced to dress up for work professionally, which sucks since I’m more of a jeans and t-shirts kinda gal, but I’ll deal with it.”

 

Mark rolled his eyes.  “Vince tried ONCE to impose an uh…dress code on me.  I changed his mind right quick.” He smiled slightly, a wicked glean in his eyes.  “Maybe ya oughta try tossin’ yer weight around, Nico.  Who else is he goin’ to find to replace you?”

 

“I’m not that type of person, Mark.  I don’t purposely like to cause trouble.” She smirked knowingly back at him and crossed her arms in front of her chest, raising an amused eyebrow and cracked her neck, groaning.

 

“Sore?” Mark asked, moving over to sit behind her when she nodded.  He gently placed his hands on her shoulders, rubbing firmly, but tenderly before working his fingers up her neck, feeling how tense she was.  “Nothin’ wrong with raisin’ a little Hell every now and then, Nico.” He murmured thoughtfully and quietly.

 

“Yeah, but I just roll with the punches.” She murmured softly in return, her eyes drifting close, and completely melted into his strong hand.  She loved the feeling of his hands on her body and wondered what they would feel like touching her in more…intimidate places.  She sighed out when he hit a spot and let a soft moan escape her lips, scooting further back against him.  “Right there…don’t stop please…” She whispered out breathlessly, moving her hair over her shoulder so he could have better access.  She hadn’t had a massage in quite some time so this was feeling intensely great.  Mark smiled, working on that one spot, feeling her silky skin under his fingertips, feeling the tension melting away.  The smile broadened on his face for a just a second before his eyes started to darken to a forest green color.  Wondering just how silky other parts of her would be to the touch.  “Ever consider being a part-time masseuse?” She wondered aloud through her moans of satisfaction, not believing how strong his hands were, yet they were gentle at the same time.  She sighed in contentment, her head dropping even lower, her hair pooling over with her movements and groaned when he hit another sore spot.  “Damn…”

 

“Hmmm…No, I like working with my hands, but I don’t think that’d be the job fer me, darlin’.” Mark replied, sounding amused.  “I’m not that big of a person people.” He could just imagine it, someone would be gabbing while he was rubbing them down and he’d wind up dropping an elbow on their back.

 

“Not a people person, eh?  Then what do you call spending time with my daughter?” She retorted softly, pulling away from him reluctantly, though she didn’t want too and turned around to stare at him.  Her midnight blue eyes peered into his, searching his soul, wanting to find out what was going through his mind.

 

“Yer daughter ain’t people, she’s a person.” Mark countered, meeting her eyes.  “That and she’s entertainin’, funny, and a sweet little bundle of energy.  I like kids.” He shrugged absentmindedly.  “Just don’t get on well with many adults.  Present company excluded darlin’.”

 

“Interesting…” She said thoughtfully, tapping her chin, and sighed as she shrugged her shoulders.  “Well, I’m not sure what kind of company I’ve been tonight, but you’ve certainly helped me out a lot.  Thanks Mark.” She touched his arm, meaning what she said.  Her eyes shining with appreciation.

 

“You’ve been good company.” Mark replied, catching her hand in his, squeezing gently.  “I only hope I haven’t bored the socks off of ya.” He looked at her feet.  “Figuratively speakin’ of course.”

 

Nicoya giggled softly, keeping it low so she didn’t wake Alyssa, and squeezed his hand back, biting her bottom lip.  “Nope, you’ve been great company tonight, Mark.  Now I understand why my daughter likes you so much.  You’re not that bad after all.” She winked at him before patting his leg and stood up to get her glass of wine, taking another sip of it before dumping it in the sink.

 

Mark stared at her, quickly getting off the bed and following her, leaning in the kitchen way, blocking her path.  “Not that bad after all huh, darlin’?” He repeated with a grin on his face.  “That almost sounded like an insult.”

 

“It wasn’t meant to be an insult.  I just meant that you’re not as bad as I thought you were.” She replied with a smirk on her face, placing her hands on her hips, and tilted her head to the side.  “Just like sending me that cupcake.  What was that supposed to indicate exactly?” She asked amusedly, already knowing what her precious daughter did tonight.

 

Mark folded his arms over his chest, well aware that was Alyssa.  She’d done the same thing to him.  “Hmmm…I don’t know, darlin’ because I find you sweet and wanted to share?” He drawled teasingly, though he was partially serious in saying that.

 

Nicoya’s eyes rose in curiosity, a shiver flowing down her spine at the sound of his drawled voice, but mentally shook herself quickly.  “Hmmm well I’m not all that sweet, but thanks for sharing.” She winked at him, brushing past him, and ran her fingers through her long black hair, her emerald green nightgown clinging to her every curve.

 

Mark did a full body shiver when she brushed against him, more than tempted to snatch her back and kiss her until she was reeling.  But then again, she might co-cock him; send him packing from her and Alyssa’s lives.  As tempting as kissing her was, he wasn’t about to risk anything…just yet.  “Mmm…now I’m in the mood fer somethin’ sweet.” He muttered, adding creamy mentally.

 

“I’m sure there’s a donut shop nearby or you could even order from room service, Mark.” Nicoya prompted, smirking back at him, and leaned back against the headboard.  Her knee drawn up as she squished her toes into the comforter while her other leg lay prone on the bedding beneath.  “If you’re in the mood for something sweet.”

 

Mark returned the smirk, his green eyes taking in the way she was sitting.  “You have very nice legs.” He said in a casual voice.

 

“Thanks…” She hesitantly replied, not sure how to take that, but smiled anyway before reaching over for the remote, flipping the TV on, and switched legs.  They were tanned, smooth and creamy, looking soft to the touch under the dimmed lighting in the room.  “The menu is over there.” She pointed to the nightstand drawer with that smirk still on her lips.

 

Mark shook his head, raking a hand through his hair.  “I’ll pass, darlin’.” He murmured in response.  It wasn’t food he was craving at the moment and something told him the wench knew it.  “Tell the munchkin good mornin’ fer me when she wakes up.” He headed for the door, grabbing the knob and glanced back at her.  “Sleep well, darlin’.” His voice was low and husky, sending tremors throughout her body.

 

Nicoya shivered as she smiled over at him and stood up from the bed, walking over, and wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly and kissed his cheek.  “You too, Mark.” She murmured softly, tapping his nose, and winked at him before walking back over to the bed and laid down on it on her side, snuggling into the pillow.  “I’ll tell Alyssa what you said.”

 

Mark groaned inwardly, not believing she could be so damned cruel, though at the same time, it was amusing.  He smirked at her, his green eyes shining wickedly and blatantly looked her over before meeting her eyes again.  “Sweet dreams, Nico.” He drawled with the sensual smirk still firmly in place before walking out. 

 

Two could play that game.

 

Chapter 16

 

Alyssa skipped down the hallway, on her way to Mark’s room to inform him he was dealing wither since her mother had gotten swamped with scripts.  She shrieked when she was knocked into a wall, a blur of hair passing her by.  “Ow!” She whimpered, having lightly cracked her head and reached up to rub it.  Her blue eyes widened when she was picked up and set on a table on her feet as another charge came flying by.  “Thanks-” Alyssa hesitated, seeing who it was.

 

John stared down at Nicoya’s daughter, meeting her eyes.  “Not a problem, kid.” He said, smiling slightly thought he more he stared, the more the smile sort of faded from his lips.

 

Alyssa shifted uncomfortably under John’s intense gaze.  “Um, I think it’s safe for me to go now, sir.” She said, sounding a bit apprehensive.

 

John blinked, coming out of whatever thoughts he lost himself in and nodded, his eyes once again meeting hers before raking her face.  “Here you go.” He set her down on the floor slowly.  John watched as she practically flew down the hallway, disappearing into Mark’s dressing room before turning around, squaring his shoulders and heading off to have a little chat with his ex-girlfriend.

 

Nicoya sighed heavily, raking a hand through her hair, and wanted to rip it out of her skull.  Vince had doubled er work load this week, due to him signing new talent, and felt herself wanting to walk out at that moment.  She was so busy that she’d basically told her daughter to go down to Mark’s dressing room so she could finish her work.  She promised Alyssa they would spend time together later on at the hotel.  Though, she hoped she could stay awake long enough to spend any half decent enough time with her daughter.

 

Sighing heavily when she heard a knock on her office door and wasn’t surprised when she seen John walk in.  She seen the angry look in his eyes and instantly rose out of her chair, raising an eyebrow in his direction, and crossed her arms in front of her chest.  “Judging by your body posture, I can already tell this isn’t going to be a social call.  What do you want, Cena?” She demanded, cutting to the chase.

 

John was behind the desk, grabbing her arms, pinning her roughly to the wall in seconds, moving faster than a man his size had the right too.  John blocked her legs so she couldn’t kick him, his blue eyes spitting fire.  “You kept my own daughter from me.” He stated coldly.  “FOR ALL THESE YEARS YOU FUCKING KEPT HER HIDDEN FROM ME, COYA!”

 

“What the fuck are you talking about, you lunatic?!?” Nicoya cried out back at him, fear entering her midnight blue eyes, and groaned when he tightened his grip on her upper arms, tears pooling in her orbs.  “Alyssa is not yours!!  I told you, I had a fucking fling back then!!  She’s not yours, she has no blood yours inside of her, you fucking asshole!!  NOW LET ME GO!”

 

“Bullshit, Coya!” John snapped, shaking her so hard, her teeth began to rattle.  “I just SEEN her, and got a really good look.  Alyssa’s mine and you fucking didn’t tell me!” He looked like he was about to slap her at any second.

 

“No, she’s not!!  She’s MINE!  You hear me, you motherfucker?  She’s MY daughter and you won’t come near her!” Nicoya spat back at him hatefully, not caring how much pain her mouth was in, or how tight his grip had become on her upper arms.  She stared back at him with equal fire in her own eyes, refusing to show weakness.  “She’s MY child, PERIOD!”

 

“Wrong Nicoya, she’s OUR daughter.” John said firmly.  “You realize you purposely kept her from me, didn’t tell me or anything.  The COURTS are going to have a fucking field day with that!” He let her go, stepping away and giving her space, hands up.

 

Nicoya groaned as she rubbed her arms with her hand, staring back at him hatefully, and shook her head.  “I was prepared for this just in case you ever did find out about her…” She trailed off and took something out of her briefcase, handing it to him.  “That is a protection order from the courts themselves.  It’s for life, which means you are NOT allowed near MY daughter EVER.  Due to your physical abuse inflicted on me in the past and now,” She paused, looking down at her arms and shrugged absentmindedly.  “The courts felt it was necessary not to endanger a little girl.”

 

John, at first, looked royally pissed off, but that quickly changed to a look of cunning, his eyes studying her.  “Oh really?” He shook his head.  “Nicoya, you should catch up a bit more sweetheart.  YOU broke your own protection order by having Alyssa around me then.  I didn’t know she was mine until just tonight so you KNOWINGLY put your daughter in DANGER.  I’ll see you in court.” He bowed mockingly to her before walking out.

 

Nicoya heard that and instantly calmed down, trying to slow down her racing heart, and groaned as she slid down the wall of her office.  Her mouth was killing her and so were her arms.  She knew John didn’t have anything because if the asshole read the papers, which he didn’t.  It CLEARLY stated that the protection order wasn’t put into effect until AFTER he found out Alyssa was his.  So therefore, Nicoya never broke anything.  She wasn’t stupid.  She was highly intelligent and knew the courts well.  After taking a few more deep breaths, she finally managed to pull herself up and rushed out the door, needing to get to her daughter before John could.

 

~!~

 

“I said no Cena!” Mark growled, having a Hell of a time keeping John out of the dressing room.  John had burst in there like a pissed off bull and Mark had instantly shoved him right back out.  Right now, he had his hands on John’s forearms, trying to push him away.  “GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!”

 

“I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE WITHOUT SEEING MY GODDAMN DAUGHTER!” John roared right back, going to punch Mark in the face as he brought his fist forward. 

 

Alyssa was crouched in a corner, crying her eyes out, her hands over her ears, watching as Mark stumbled back a little before charging John again.  This time shoving him out into the hallway.  Nicoya heard Alyssa scream and instantly bolted down the hallway, taking off her heels, and skidded to a halt when she seen John and Mark fighting.  She covered her mouth with her hand, looking around frantically for her daughter, and immediately shouted, “ALYSSA?” Tears were streaming down her cheeks as both John and Mark stopped to stare at her, but she didn’t notice.  She bolted inside the dressing room, past Mark, and instantly picked her precious baby girl up in her arms, holding her like her life depended on it, and buried her face in her hair.  “Shhh it’s okay, sweetheart.  Momma’s here.  Momma’s here, Aly.” She cooed to her, knowing John probably scared the Hell out of her, and glared back at him hatefully, but focused her attention on her daughter.

 

“Mommy!  He came in and-” Alyssa screamed when Mark dropped to one knee, catching himself with a hand on the floor so he didn’t topple.  “John’s got a chair!” She shrieked, clinging to her mother frantically.  “Mark, get up!”

 

“Mark?  Raising her to call someone else Dad since you fucking denied me, you bitch?” John was past livid, he was in something entirely different right now, tossing the chair aside.  The minute he tried to move past Mark though was his mistake.

 

“Lock the door.” Mark advised before literally tossing John out into the hallway, closing the door behind him as he followed.

 

Nicoya instantly did as he said, rushing over with her daughter still in her arms, and locked the door after closing it.  She was crying as hard as her daughter, not believing how cruel John was being toward her in front of Alyssa, which proved her point even further that he wasn’t fit to be her father.  “Alyssa, it’s okay sweetheart.  It’s alright.  Mark will take care of him.” She assured her softly, kissing her forehead repeatedly, and held her tightly as she walked over and sat on the couch, her heart breaking when Alyssa began trembling.  “Calm down, baby girl.  Momma’s here now.”

 

“He-he said he was my Dad…” Alyssa cried, tears streaking down her cheeks.  “He wanted to see me and Mark told him no!  Then he attacked Mark.  Mommy, he’s not is he?  He’s not really my Dad?” Alyssa sounded like she was going to go full blown hysterical in a minute.

 

Nicoya felt her heart shatter in her chest, hearing the pleading in her daughter’s question, mixed with the hysterical note.  She sighed heavily, rubbing her back, and knew she had to tell her the truth.  Slowly pulling her back to stare into her eyes, Nicoya finally broke down in tears as they slid down her cheeks and simply nodded.  “He is, Aly.  That monster is your father.  I’m so sorry, baby girl.” She whispered heartbrokenly and instantly buried her face in her hands, her entire body racking with sobs, not believing this was happening.  She’d been so careful, but knew one day, it would come down to this.

 

Alyssa just stared at her mother, her blue eyes wide with horror.  “He can’t be…not him…he’s…” She started bawling all over again.  She started screaming when there was a light knock on the door suddenly, causing her little form to jump.

 

Nicoya was sobbing so hard as she shook her head, holding her daughter’s trembling body against hers, and buried her face in Alyssa’s neck, wishing this wasn’t happening.  “I kept him from you for your own good, Aly.  That man is not fit to be your father.  He’s mean and cruel.  He doesn’t deserve you to be his daughter.” She was crying just as hard as her daughter was and didn’t know what she was going to do now that John knew.  She knew John was going to try and take Alyssa away from her and that wasn’t going to happen.  Nobody was going to take her baby girl from her unless she was buried six feet under.

 

“I don’t want him to be my Dad!” Alyssa exclaimed, jumping again when the knock on the door got louder.  “Mom…who is it?” She whispered fearfully.  “Don’t let that bad man back in!”  Mark stared at the door, hearing the crying going on inside and felt his heart break in two.  He spared a glance at the unconscious John, knowing people were on the way to drag his ass off to be checked and sighed.  Wondering if this was it or just the prelude to something worse.

 

Sighing deeply, Nicoya shook her head as she cupped her daughter’s face in her hands and pressed her forehead to hers.  “I won’t sweetheart.  That bad man isn’t coming near you, I promise.” She confidently before standing up, setting her daughter down on the couch, and walked over to the door.  She took a chance and cleared her throat before unlocking it, ready to fight John if necessary to protect her daughter.  She sighed with relief when she opened the door to reveal Mark and instantly went back to her daughter, who was trembling and shaking like a leaf as she sat down beside her.  “Alyssa, I’m so sorry.” She started crying again, burying her face in her hands, and wished she would’ve never met John Cena in the first place.

 

Mark took in the scene before him and closed the door behind him.  He didn’t interrupt them, his fists clenching when he heard Alyssa’s heart wrenching sobs.  Knowing John had really frightened her.  “I want to go, I don’t wanna stay here!” Alyssa said in a high pitched voice.  “I wanna go home right now!”

 

“Calm down, darlin’.” Mark soothed, kneeling down besides the two.  “You don’t have to stay here, angel.  You and momma are leavin’.” He looked at Nicoya, his green eyes studying hers, knowing she was in no condition to work tonight.

 

“I can’t leave.  I have so much work to get done.” Nicoya choked out, coughing a little, and wiped her tears away quickly, not wanting her daughter to see her cry anymore.  “Alyssa, you can stay in mommy’s office with me until we leave, but I have too much work to get done for Vince to leave right now, sweetheart.” She hated this.  She hated that John somehow found out that Alyssa was his and felt her heart breaking at her daughter’s heart wrenching sobs, causing her to cry harder as she stood up, getting some tissues.

 

Alyssa tossed herself into Mark’s arms, burying her face in his shoulder, her body trembling violently with her sobs.  Mark frowned, cradling her in his arms, standing up and turning to look at Nicoya.  “Your daughter needs you, Nico.” He said in a soft, but firm tone of voice.  “She needs to be somewhere she feels safe with you, yer work will have to wait.”

 

“Mark, don’t start with me right now.” She held her finger up at him, raking a hand through her black hair, and could see Alyssa sobbing violently, which broke her heart even more.  “I can’t leave!  I have so much fucking work to get done!  Don’t give me that look!” She snapped, tears spilling down her cheeks, and hated the disappointment in Mark’s eyes as she shook her head, wrapping her arms around herself.  “It’s not an easy decision, but I’m the only fucking script writer here and my work loud is big enough as it is!  I’m behind as it is!”

 

“Hey sweetheart, calm down.” Mark soothed, stroking Alyssa’s hair with one hand.  “Then I’m takin’ her back to the hotel.” He announced, daring Nicoya with his eyes to challenge him.  Alyssa started nodding, shifting so she could see her mother, her eyes pleading with her to say yes.

 

“Give me my fucking daughter.” She stated angrily, prying Alyssa from Mark’s arms, and sighed heavily when she started reaching for him again.  “Alyssa Marie, stop it right now!  We’re going back to the hotel since you can't seem to let your mother get back to work.” She stated angrily, glaring back at Mark, and stormed out of his dressing room, carrying her daughter with her in the process.  ‘Fuckin’ asshole.’ She thought, her heels clicking violently against the arena flooring.

 

Mark frowned and shook his head, darting after them when he heard Alyssa’s harsh cries.  He caught up and removed Alyssa from Nicoya, wrapping his arms around her, burying his face in her hair.  He actually growled when Nicoya opened her mouth.  “Listen to me, Nico you’re in no damned condition to be drivin’, yer physically shakin’ and yer too damned pissed!  Pull yer head outta yer ass long enough to realize that Alyssa needs you more tonight then this fuckin’ company does and quit bein’ angry with her!  She’s a child who’s afraid and seen somethin’ that terrified her, she needs yer love and time, not yer attention and anger!”

 

Nicoya was shocked as her eyes went as wide as potatoes, not believing Mark just snatched HER daughter from HER arms like that!  She wanted to smack him, hit him, kick him, something, but she couldn’t even find the energy to do so.  She just felt the silent tears slide down her cheeks and raked a hand through her hair before clearing her throat.  “Give me my daughter, Mark right now.” She ordered in a low, quiet tone of voice, the anger draining from her body.  Though she knew she’d feel it surface later on after Alyssa was asleep.  “I’ve had a rotten night and the last thing I need is another man trying to control my life and telling me how to raise MY daughter.” She then pulled Alyssa from his arms and walked away from him, hold her close to her body before walking inside her office, grabbed her things, and rushed out of there, heading back to the hotel.

 

Mark shook his head going to gather his own things.  Trying to control her life?  Hardly.  The woman needed the Hell knocked out of her though for what she’d said and done tonight.  Mark sighed, knowing Nicoya had been emotion, but damn it-was her work really that goddamn important?  Alyssa needed her mother and Nicoya had gone off on the poor kid.  Mark slowly headed out to the parking lot, knowing he’d just been blackballed from Alyssa’s life and all because he cared.

 

Nicoya shook her head as she pulled into the hotel parking lot space, taking her time driving back, not wanting to get into a car accident, and unbuckled herself.  She looked in the rearview mirror at her daughter and sighed, her heart breaking seeing her tear streaked face.  She silently cried as she picked her daughter up from the car, carrying her inside, her black bag slung over her shoulder and took the back staircase.  She stroked her daughter’s hair the entire way up and finally arrived at her room number.  She slid the key card inside the slot and opened the door, walking inside, and closed it behind her.  She then walked Alyssa to her bedroom, gently placing her in bed, and took her shoes off before sitting on the edge of the bed.  Everything she’d done was for her daughter and for her to even consider choosing her job or Alyssa made Nicoya physically sick.  Nobody and nothing was more important than her and Mark made her realize that tonight.  She started crying, knowing Alyssa was out for the night, and finally walked out after kissing her forehead softly, whispering heartbrokenly.

 

“I’m so sorry, Alyssa…for everything.” She then walked out and went straight to the liquor, pouring herself a glass of Tequila Rose, and collapsed on the bed after downing the shot, tears streaking down her cheeks like two rapid streams.

 

Mark made it to the hotel in one piece barely, having nearly wrecked on his motorcycle when some moron ran a red light.  He wasn’t in the best of moods needless to say when he arrived.  He took the second to change into black pajama pants and bust out of the Jack Daniels before heading out into the hallway.  Quickly locating the vending machine, Mark got his normal coke for his chaser.  He rested his head against the machine, listening as the pop dropped with a thud out of the machine.  The sound of his heart had made when Nicoya spat her last words at him.

 

Chapter 17

 

The following morning, Nicoya didn’t wake up until late, not caring at the moment, having pulled an all-nighter to get the rest of the scripts finished.  Her face was tear-streaked since she’d basically cried throughout the entire process, hoping they weren’t messed up.  She slept in bed, wearing her clothes from the previous night, her black hair tousled and splayed on the pillow with her open laptop in front of her.  Her body was curled at a dangerous angle and she had a stack of finished scripts on the side of the laptop.  She looked like a Mack truck had run her down going ninety miles an hour.

 

Alyssa stumbled out of her bedroom, rubbing sleep from her eyes.  Looking none too worse for wear herself.  She seen her mother and frowned, then spotted the scripts and rolled her eyes.  Even now she couldn’t take a break.  Alyssa sighed and walked over to the bed, her small hands fumbling with the scripts.  Gathering them up and gently moved them to the table, followed by the laptop.  Alyssa then somehow managed to rearrange her mother on the bed and pulled the blankets around her before going back to her own bed. 

 

Nicoya awoke when she felt someone moving her around and sighed when she seen her daughter retreat back into her own room.  She slowly rubbed the sleep from her eyes, staring over at the clock, and waved it off when she seen it was going on noon.  She didn’t care as she stumbled out of bed, seeing her laptop and scripts on the table, and smiled, knowing Alyssa had done that.  She sighed heavily as she knocked her on the door and pushed it open, staring at her little girl, who was sitting watching Garfield on their portable DVD player.  “Hey sweetheart, how did you sleep?” She softly asked, raking a hand through her black hair, not caring how it looked right now.

 

Alyssa shrugged, not taking her eyes off the television.  “Better then you.  I slept.  You stayed up all night working.” She stated flatly, no emotion in her tone of voice.

 

“You were sleeping, Alyssa and I couldn’t sleep so yes, I did stay up and work.” Nicoya didn’t appreciate the tone of her daughter’s voice and knew Mark was having a bad influence on her as she sighed.  “When you’re ready to stop hating your mother, you come talk to me.  Until then, I’ll be out here.” She then closed the door, tears spilling down her cheeks, and walked over to the bed, laying back down on it, her heart breaking.

 

Alyssa got up and stalked out of the room, her blue eyes blazing.  “Maybe you ought to remember you have a daughter!” She shot back heatedly.  “You ALWAYS push me aside for work!  You only brought me home last night because MARK upset you and made you feel bad!”

 

“Alyssa Marie Harris, don’t you DARE take that tone with your mother, young lady!  If you don’t stop this right now, I will forbid you to see Mark again!” She shouted back at her daughter, her own blue eyes clouded over with anger, and crossed her arms in front of his chest.  “You cried yourself to sleep last night and I even tucked you in!  I sat with you for a good hour before starting my work so don’t tell me that I choose my work over you because that’s bull!  I love you unconditionally, you know that, but what I do pays the bills and keeps a roof over your head, clothes on your body, and food in your smart mouth!”

 

Tears burned in Alyssa’s eyes as she clenched and unclenched her fists, hating the unfairness of it all.  She was the one who played by herself every night or spent it in Mark’s company while her mother worked.  There were days on the road traveling, hardly any days off, but she was number one?  Alyssa shook her head and swallowed down her anger before nodding stiffly.  She then retreated to her bedroom, snatching up her favorite stuffed animal, and curled into a ball at the end of the  bed, watching Garfield through her tears.

 

Nicoya sighed heavily as she raked her hands through her hair, deciding a shower was in order, and walked inside the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.  She stripped out of her grimy clothes and stepped under the hot sprays, soaking her body, and just stood under them.  Her hands were planted on the shower wall before her as she allowed the sprays to cascade down her body as they mixed with her heart wrenching tears.  She couldn’t believe how cruel she’d been to daughter and felt even sicker to her stomach.  She sighed heavily, spitting out the water whenever too much got in, but didn’t move from that spot.  She’d basically cried herself to sleep the previous night after finishing the scripts that Vince requested her to do.

 

Alyssa sighed, wiping away her tears and rolling onto her back.  Frowning when her stomach growled.  She was tempted to refuse to eat, but decided against it.  Instead, she padded out to the main room, not spotting her mother and sighed again.  She quickly ordered breakfast for both of them, used to this and sat down on the couch to wait.

 

After finishing up her shower, Nicoya stepped out of the shower, towel drying herself off before wrapping her body in it, tucking it tightly so it didn’t move, and sighed as she looked in the mirror.  She quickly brushed her teeth and hair before walking out, not surprised to find her daughter on the couch, and walked over to her bag.  Pulling out a pair of jeans and t-shirt, refusing to go to the arena today.  She dressed and then proceeded to make a call to Vince, explaining to him the scripts were done and she demanded a day off since she’d been doing so much work lately.  The man resignedly gave it to her and Nicoya hung up, smiling bitterly, and then proceeded to lie back down on the bed, staring up at the ceiling.

 

Alyssa rolled her eyes when she wasn’t acknowledged, finally getting up and walking over to the bed, climbing on it, and began to jump.  “Why’re you in jeans?  You never wear jeans to work.” She pointed out, still bouncing.

 

“Because I’m not going to the arena tonight.  I demanded Vince give me the day and night off.” She answered her daughter, her arm thrown over her eyes, not minding her daughter jumping on the bed, and crossed her ankles as she sighed heavily.  She already knew her daughter ordered breakfast and had to smile at that.  Even though it quickly faded when she thought of Mark.  ‘Screw him.’ She thought angrily and pushed him out of her mind forcefully.

 

Alyssa leapt off the bed when there was a knock on the door, grinning when the food was ushered in.  She looked impatiently at her mother before rolling her eyes again and walked over to get Nicoya’s purse.  She handed it to her mother and waited for her to give her some money for the server.  Alyssa handed him his tip before pulling the trolley in, closing the door behind her.  “Come eat, Mom.” She said softly.

 

“I’m not hungry, Alyssa.  You eat.” She instructed, still lying on the bed, feeling too sick to her stomach at the moment to eat.  She’d basically had a breakdown in the shower and then one the previous night, so she was exhausted mentally and physically.  She hated feeling like this, but at the same time, she knew she needed the release.  She didn’t care if her daughter ordered food for her.  It wasn’t like she could afford it anyway.  Sighing, Nicoya turned on her side and closed her eyes, wanting to relax for that day.

 

Alyssa ate quietly for a while, finally clearing her throat.  “Mom…is Mark still allowed to take me horseback riding today?” She asked hesitantly, wondering if her mother even remembered that.

 

Sighing resignedly upon hearing that, Nicoya slowly opened her eyes and rubbed her temples as she sat up, knowing it meant a lot to her daughter.  “If you wanna go, Aly that’s fine.” She finally said, not too keen on her daughter spending the day with Mark, but figured if it made Alyssa happy, then that’s all that mattered.  She wasn’t going to keep Mark from her daughter, especially with how close they were.  Though, if the motherfucker EVER tried telling her how to raise or treat her daughter again, she was going to dot his eye for him.

 

Alyssa smiled brightly, finishing her French toast and swallowed down her orange juice.  “Hey Mom, why don’t you come with us?” She asked, grabbing her mother’s hand, her big blue eyes pleading, flashing a puppy dog look.  “It’d be loads of fun.”

 

“Alyssa, not today alright?” She said, slipping her hand out of her daughter’s, and lay back down on the bed, raking a hand through her wet black hair from her shower earlier.  “You and Mark go and have fun.  No offense, but I really don’t feel like spending the day with him.” She hoped her daughter understood and closed her eyes as she sighed heavily.  She didn’t even want Alyssa going to be quite honest, but then she seen the excitement in her daughter’s eyes, and couldn’t say no even if her life depended on it.

 

Alyssa didn’t say a word, just went to change her clothes.  She emerged long enough to call Mark’s cell phone, giggling when he seemed surprised to hear from her then confirmed if they were still going.  When she hung up, she was dancing.  “He’s on his way!” She laughed, spinning in a circle.  She shrieked when there was a knock on the door, flying over to answer it.  “Marky!”

 

Mark scooped her up into a bear hug, laughing when she tugged on his hair, his deep voice booming throughout the room as he asked, “Hey angel, ready to go?”

 

“Yes.  Mom, gonna come give me a kiss?” Alyssa asked, slipping down onto the floor, and turned around to face her.

 

Sighing heavily, Nicoya managed to drag herself from the bed and walked over, bending down, and looked into her daughter’s eyes, completely ignoring Mark’s presence.  “Behave and be good.” She said flatly, kissing her forehead, and hugged her before walking back over and laid on the bed, staring up at the ceiling again, her arms thrown above her head on either side.

 

“Mark, why doesn’t my Mom love me anymore?” Alyssa asked as they walked down the hallway, the door slowly closing behind them.  Her voice sounded so sad and depressed.

 

“Angel, yer momma loves you, she’s just goin’ through a rough patch right now.  Be patient with her.” Mark replied gently, his heart breaking at how sad Alyssa sounded.  “Yer her world, Aly never forget that.”

 

Nicoya spent the entire day crying her heart and soul out, having heard her daughter ask Mark that question.  She felt like her heart was torn to bits and hated herself for making her daughter even assume she didn’t love her.  She sighed heavily, finally pulling herself from the bed, and walked in the kitchen to get a glass of water.  She just leaned against the counter, raking her hands through her hair, and sniffled a little.  Alyssa was her entire world, but after what happened with John, she wasn’t sure what she was going to do now. John was going to be a man on a mission to try to hurt her and use Alyssa in order to get it done so she had to protect her daughter tenfold now.

 

Mark knocked lightly on Nicoya’s door, cradling Alyssa in his arms.  They had spent the day out riding, he’d loved seeing her pick it up so quick.  A natural on a horse.  Though, when she wanted to gallop, it scared the Hell out of him.  Finally compromising with her, she rode with him and they galloped.  He’d taken along his camera.  Something he’d invested in then seldom used to snap pictures for Nicoya, not sure why he did, but there it was.

 

Nicoya heard the knock on the door and walked over, having been surfing the net on her laptop, and opened it.  She didn’t say a word, seeing Mark was carrying a sleeping Alyssa, and walked away from the door, going back to sit on her bed.  She would go say good night to her daughter after Mark was gone as she leaned back against the headboard, her knees drawn up, and had her eyes closed.  She had a feeling Mark knew where to put Alyssa so she didn’t feel the need to point it out.  After all, he’d been in Alyssa’s life for quite some time now.

 

Mark smiled when Alyssa half woke up and whispered in her ear while smoothing back her hair, “Yer home, angel.”

 

“Where’s Mom?” She murmured, yawning loudly, completely worn out from riding the horses today.

 

“Out on her bed.” Mark answered quietly, pulling off her tennis shoes, and set them gently on the floor.

 

“Did you tell her I rode by myself?” Alyssa asked, her voice a mere whisper, and yawned again, trying to keep her eyes from drooping closed.

 

“Not yet, but I will.” Mark promised her, running his finger down her cheek, and smiled as his angel’s eyes closed again, falling back to sleep.

 

Nicoya sighed heavily when she felt more tears spill down her cheeks and stood up from the bed, walking into the kitchen.  She poured herself a glass of wine since she knew Alyssa would be out of it for the rest of the night.  She walked back out to her bed and sat down on it, knowing Mark must’ve worn her little butt out.  She smiled a little at that, wiping her tears away, and leaned back against the headboard, holding the glass loosely in her hand.  She had her elbows resting on her knees, her hair cascading over her shoulders and down her back.

 

Mark walked out of Alyssa’s room, fiddling with his camera before walking over to the bed, halting and holding it out to her.  “There’s some pictures of Alyssa on it.” He said evenly, not sure if she would even acknowledge him, actually all the pictures were of Alyssa.  “She did real good today.  She’s a natural rider.”

 

“Thanks.” She replied in an even tone of voice, showing no emotion, and took the camera from him before setting it to the side.  “I’m glad she had a good time.” Her voice was still even as she took a sip of her wine and set it on the nightstand before leaned her head back, cracking it a little, and closed her eyes, refusing to look at this man right now.  If she did, she would either completely breakdown again or sock him in his eye for what he said to her the previous night.

 

Mark sighed, raking a hand through his hair, knowing one of them was going to have to extend the olive branch before Alyssa wound up hurt or in the middle of whatever was going on.  “Nico, I’m sorry.  I overstepped myself drastically last night.” He said finally.

 

“Don’t worry about it, Mark.  Water under the fucking bridge.  The most important thing here is that Alyssa is happy and you make her that way.  That’s the ONLY reason why I’m letting you stick around.” She stated in a heated tone of voice, standing up from the bed, and brushed past him as she walked over to stare out the window.  Her arm crossed beneath her breasts, and took a long swig of her wine before setting it down on the table nearby.  Near her scripts she’d finished the previous night.

 

Mark rolled his eyes heavenward and stalked over to her, gently grabbing her by the arms and spun her around, staring down into her blue eyes with his piercing green ones.  “Nico, stop actin’ like a damned child.  I said I was sorry.  You got a chip on yer shoulder and I’m not the one who put it there.  I’m on yer side, stop treatin’ me like I’m the damned enemy.”

 

Chapter 18

 

“You ARE the enemy though, Mark!” She spat back at him, her blue eyes inflamed with rage, and snatched her arms out of his grip as she walked away from him.  “You and every male on this planet are the enemy in my book.  I want NOTHING to do with you!  My daughter is the ONLY thing that will EVER matter to me and her happiness.  For some oddball reason, she loves you.  She talks about you constantly and wishes you were her father.” Tears instantly began sliding down Nicoya’s cheeks as she turned her back on him and wrapped her arms around herself, trembling again, not believing she just said that.  She’d heard Alyssa in her bedroom talking to her dolls on quite a few occasions and it broke her heart that Mark could never be her father, just her friend or mentor.

 

“You had a terrible thing with John, Nico, I’m not denyin’ that.  But that don’t make all the rest of us like him.” Mark said firmly, walking over to pull her back in his arms, not caring what she’d say or do anymore.  “I’M not like him, why can’t you see that?”

 

“Why do you even care?” She cried out at him softly, sniffling, and felt the tears cascading freely down her cheeks as he held her from behind.  His arms were wrapped firmly around her waist as she leaned back against him.  Even though she was fighting to do it.  He’d hurt her last night, no matter if it was a harsh slap of reality or not.  She knew he was right in what he said though and honestly didn’t blame him.  It made her realize how much he really cared about and loved her daughter, but it also broke her heart that Alyssa wanted him as her father.

 

“Why?  Because I’m totally entranced with yer daughter…I love her to death or haven’t ya noticed?” Mark replied, staring down at her intensely.  “And because I care about you.  I care about you, Nico.” He repeated in a softer tone of voice, meaning what he said.

 

“I have noticed you love Alyssa.” She replied softly in a whisper, more tears spilling down her cheeks, and slowly turned around to face him, staring up into his intense, emotion filled emerald green eyes.  She started crying harder and caressed his face tenderly with her hand, knowing she cared a great deal for him too.  That’s why she’d let him stick around and hang out with Alyssa.  That and she wanted him around her too, even though she’d never admit it.  “I care about you too, Mark.” She finally admitted and bit her bottom lip, hoping she didn’t regret this.  Hoping her heart could take this.

 

Mark had figured she did though he’d never admit that to her.  She’d probably slap him and call him an arrogant bastard.  He figured she either cared about him, which was why she tried to push him away or the other possibility, she was a mega bitch who also happened to be a man-hater.  Thank god it wasn’t that last one.  Mark bent his head down and gently brushed his lips against hers, pulling back to study her face, not about to rush her into anything.  That and still waiting for that slap.

 

Nicoya stared back at him, raking a hand through her hair, and grabbed him gently by his goatee, staring deep into his eyes.  Those deep, emerald green jewels that held such sincerity and caused her heart to leap in her throat.  She decided to take the bull by the horns so to speak and brought his lips down to hers, passionately kissing him, wrapping her arms around his thick, muscled up neck.  She wanted a real kiss.  Not just a brush.  She was getting it now as she moaned softly in his mouth.

 

Mark slid his hands down to Nicoya’s lower back, gently pulling her up against him, halfway lifting her off of the floor.  He coaxed her mouth open, sliding his tongue inside to explore her.  Taste her.  Groaning low from the back of his throat.  He was immediately addicted at the first taste of her.

 

Sighing, Nicoya instantly melted into his arms, her hands gripping his upper arms with her tiny hands, and gasped when he lifted her off the floor.  She never broke the kiss though and snaked her arms around his neck, her legs instinctively going around his waist, and entangled her fingers in his arms.  His long, beautiful tresses as their tongues dueled in a war of dominance and lust.  Nicoya’s heart was racing, thudding in her chest rapidly, but she didn’t care.  Even after she needed air, she still didn’t break the kiss, refusing to do so.  The man’s lips felt too wonderful and it’d been a long time since she felt the touch of a man.  Though not even John could kiss her like Mark was at the moment.

 

Mark could feel his body burning up with passion, expecting fire to shoot off of him.  That’s what Nicoya was doing to him.  He felt every little thing, all his senses heightened at the moment.  He could feel her fingers combing through his hair, the pressure of her legs around his waist, everything.  He reluctantly broke the kiss, realizing she wasn’t getting air, for that matter, neither was he.  He pressed his forehead against hers, staring into her beautiful blue eyes.  “I want you, Nico.” He murmured huskily, his tone soft and almost pleading.

 

“I want you too, Mark.” She breathed out, her chest rising and falling harshly, her hands gripping his shoulders, and licked her dried lips as she kissed him again.  “We can’t, not in here.” She whispered, referring to her daughter, and suddenly got an idea as she stared into his lust filled emerald green eyes that were a deep forest green.  “Bathroom?”

 

Mark glanced at Alyssa’s bedroom door then towards the bathroom, obvious want in his eyes, matching her own.  “Will she wake up and come wanderin’ out here lookin’ fer ya?” He asked, his drawl slow and deep.

 

“If she wakes up and hears the shower, she’ll just think I’m taking one.” Nicoya replied still breathless, the want obvious in her own eyes.  There was also a need.  A deep need for this man’s touch.  This man inside of her.  She wanted it.  Craved it.  She wanted to feel loved again, even if he didn’t love her.  She knew she wasn’t in love with him, not yet, but she did care a great deal about him as her eyes instantly darkened to almost black, but had a hint of blue within them.

 

Mark’s answer was to kiss her again, never setting her down, way too comfortable with her legs wrapped around him.  He carried her into the bathroom, lightly closing the door behind them with the heel of his foot.  Mark slowly lowered her feet to the ground, still kissing her, his hands rubbing her sides gently, wanting Nicoya more then he’d ever wanted anything in his life.  It’d been a long time since he felt the flicker of desire.  She had sparked a forest fire.

 

Nicoya moaned in his mouth as their tongue danced again, running her hands up and down his shirt covered chest, and pulled him closer to her.  She smiled when he lifted her up, sitting her on the sink of the bathroom, and pulled him to stand between her legs.  She broke the kiss, needing to breathe, and began unbuttoning his vest, sliding it off of his broad shoulders, and down his massive, tattooed covered arms, dropping it to the floor.  She then kissed the middle of his chest and trailed her lips and tongue down it, flicking out to taste his soft skin.  While her hands fumbled with the button of his skin tight black jeans.

 

Mark groaned, staring down at her black hair covered head, threading his fingers in her silky tresses.  Her touch felt like paradise.  This was what Eden had to be like.  He felt her fumbling with his jeans and caught her hands in his, raising them up to his mouth, kissing her palms.  He knew they didn’t have all night, not with Alyssa in the next room over, but at the same time, he didn’t want to rush this.  He wanted to enjoy her.  First though, they needed to get that shower going before any more noise made and they attracted some attention.

 

“W-What’s wrong?” Nicoya managed to ask, fear filling her eyes that he’d changed his mind, and searched his eyes with her own, her eyebrows frowning together quizzically.  She sighed when he captured her lips with his again, passionately kissing him, and threaded her fingers in his long tresses one more, moaning her approval.  Whatever was going through Mark’s mind, Nicoya knew she’d enjoy and knew he hadn’t changed his mind, not with how darkened over his green eyes had become. 

 

Mark smirked against her lips.  “Nothin’ wrong darlin’…” He murmured, breaking the kiss long enough to get the shower running before returning his full, undivided attention to the gorgeous woman before him.  He ran his hands down her sides, grabbing the bottom of her t-shirt and slowly pulled it up.  His eyes crinkling at the corners in a smile when she raised her arms up, pulling the shirt over her head.  He bent down to kiss her bare shoulder blade, his tongue darting out to taste her skin.  One large hand slowly running up her back to unclasp her bra.

 

Her black hair flowed down her back as she smiled, feeling him move it out of the way, and allowed her bra to fall to the floor.  She then turned around, staring back at him, and kissed his chest before unsnapping his jeans with a flick of her wrist.  Her eyes locked on his as she slowly pressed her body against his, pushing his jeans down his muscular, long legs and smirked when she seen he’d gone commando.  She had a feeling.  The jeans were just TOO tight for him not to go commando!  She licked her lips hungrily, her blue eyes darkening even more to black, and clouded over as she began kissing up his chest.  Flicking her tongue out to run it across a few of his rock hard abs, she moaned deep from her throat while her nails ran down his upper half, not leaving any marks though.

 

“Woman, yer killin’ me…” Mark murmured, doing a full body shiver when he felt her nails raking down his skin, kicking his jeans aside.  He gently cupped her chin, raising her head so he could look down at her, his lust darkened eyes and swollen lips beckoning him.  He dipped his head down to kiss her, moving his kisses to her throat, his hands moving down to her own jeans.  He smiled when she lifted her hips, helping him to slide them down and tossed them to join his on the floor.  He stepped back to stare at her.  She looked positively ravishing, sitting there on the sink in nothing, but her panties.  He growled softly, reaching out to pull her into his arms, feeling her legs locking around his waist again and gently rubbed his erection against her, smirking when she moaned softly.

 

“Mmm now who’s killing who?” She moaned out, her head dropping back, her hair pooling down her back over his strong arm, and ran her hands down his arms and shoulders, rubbing them.  Caressing them.  She loved the feeling of how strong he was.  How massive.  His strength took her breath away as she slid down his body slowly and pushed away from him, winking over her shoulder, and hooked her thumbs in the elastic waist of her panties.  Not bending her knees, keeping her long, smooth tanned legs straight, she bent down, peeling her panties down, and kicked them away from turning around.  “Gonna join me?” She cooed to him seductively before stepping through the shower curtain and into the hot sprays.

 

“Well I’m not about to stand out here and just watch.” Mark replied, joining her in the shower.  He smirked down at her, pinning her against the tile wall, pressing his body firmly against hers.  “Unless yer plannin’ on puttin’ on a show, darlin’.” He teased huskily, skimming a hand down her side, across her hip and then cupped her sex.  Hissing when he felt how hot and wet she was, sliding a finger inside of her slowly.  “Damn darlin’…”

 

Nicoya was already on shaky ground and cried out at the contact of his finger, leaning further against the shower wall, pressing her back, and felt her breathing instantly become erratic.  “Mark…” She shakily whispered out, running her fingers down his chest to his face, and gripped his goatee as she stared into his eyes directly.  “Don’t tease…It’s been too long for me.” She stated in a low voice and cried out again when his finger began moving inside of her.

 

Mark grunted, staring down at her, watching her face as he slipped another finger inside of her, moving them in and out of her in a slow, methodical pace.  Feeling how tight she was around his digits, only able to imagine how tight she’d be around his cock.  The mere thought sent a tingle throughout him as he caught her lips with his, kissing her passionately.  Reluctantly, he pulled his hand away, hearing her whimper and smiled slightly, raising his hands to his mouth to lick her essence from them, closing his eyes.  Savoring her sweet taste.  “Delicious.” He purred, lifting her up against the wall, rubbing the head of his cock against her.  “You ready darlin’?” He murmured, kissing her throat.

 

Nicoya nodded back at him, wrapping her legs around his waist, the hot sprays cascading over them, and licked her lips.  She kissed him again before leaving his lips and trailed down his throat, loving how strong it was.  Loving how his pulse point throbbed against her tongue, which sent a tingle down her spine.  She kept exploring, her fingers burying themselves in his hair, and gripped a little before niggling on his Adam’s apple.  Groaning in pure satisfaction at the taste of his flesh against her silky tongue.

 

He took his time, inching the head of his cock inside of her, grunting and stiffening, feeling her walls drawing him in and fighting the urge to just sheath himself fully inside of her.  She needed to adjust to his size.  He needed to adjust to how tight she was and if he moved, this was over before it began.  Mark moaned softly, letting her explore his upper body and throat.  His free hand.  The one that wasn’t holding her up, exploring her lower half.  He slid inside of her a bit more, moving to stroke her clit while he did.

 

Nicoya cried out against his throat, feeling him stroking her lit while feeling her walls stretching to accommodate his size.  She was breathing erratic now, the burning sensation overtaking her, and kissed her way from his throat to his chest.  Her hair pooling around her head as she explored and took a nipple in her mouth, swirling her saliva around it, and gasped when he slid further inside of her.  She knew he was doing this so he wouldn’t rip her apart and Nicoya was more than appreciative of that.  She kept exploring, running her hands up and down his muscular broad back, feeling his muscles twitching against her fingertips.  It was overwhelming to say the least.

 

“Yer so damn tight, Nico!” Mark grunted, finally sheathing himself fully inside of her, never letting up with stroking her clit.  He halted again, this time to calm himself down as much as let her adjust, not wanting to break her in half.  Feeling her exploring his body was a major turn on.  Most women were intimidated by his sheer size.  Add the body art to that factor and they made very timid bed fellows.  He loved how she was just as eager for him as he was for her.  Loved how she didn’t shy away from him.  When he felt they were both ready, he withdrew from her, all but the tip before plunging back inside, feeling her walls caving around him again.  “Goddamn!”

 

Chapter 19

 

“Oh fuck, Mark!” She screamed out, knowing the heavy beating of the shower sprays would cover them up, and suddenly lost her breath. 

 

She tightened her thighs around him, locking her ankles, and moaned louder when he slid even deeper inside of her.  Nicoya gripped his shoulders, running her hands up and down his arms, burying her face in his neck.  The feeling was too incredible.  The sensations too intense as she cried out when he thrust inside of her again.  It’d been two years since she’d last had sex, having refused John even when they were together, especially when he’d hit her.  Nicoya kissed his neck before wrapping her arms around it, wanting him to take her as her nails raked down his back.

 

He could feel her tightening around him, knowing she was close to the edge and just increased the tempo, snapping his hips forward, driving his cock into her.  Though not hard enough to hurt her.  He shivered, feeling her nails on his back and stepped away from the wall enough to tilt her back some, bending his head down to capture a pert nipple in his mouth, gently biting down before soothing it with his tongue.  Then moving to her other breast, paying it the same attention.  Alternating back and forth while pumping inside of her and stroking her clit.

 

“Mark please!!” She screamed out, her voice cracking with emotion and intensity, needing this release as he pumped her harder and faster. 

 

She finally couldn’t take it anymore knowing this wasn’t lasting long from the beginning, and could feel her walls caving around him, gripping him like a vise.  She lost her breath again, gripping his arms for dear life, and finally let go, cumming harder than she’d ever had in her life.  The man was absolutely incredible and she had a feeling he’d be a good fuck, which she was right.  She whipped her head back, cumming again as the orgasms rolled into one massive wave, crashing over her.  Causing her body to tremble violently against him as she cried out his name again, shattering against him.

 

He was seldom one to deny a lady or himself or that matter and thrust into Nicoya even faster, harder, grunting when he felt her orgasm.  He managed to ride it out, urging her on towards a second, wanting to feel her come apart in his arms all over again.  Sweat beaded on his forehead, only to be washed away by the water.  He cursed when she came again, burying his face in the crook of her neck and snapped his hips one last time, secreting himself deep inside her and exploded.  Only word for it.  He exploded inside of her, filling her over and over again with his seed, grunting again, surprised by how long he came.

 

Nicoya shrieked out his name when she felt him explode inside of her, his seed splashing against her back wall, filling her to the core.  She coughed out, trying to breathe, even though she knew she couldn’t.  Her heart was pounding vigorously in her chest as the water kept pouring down on them, and finally dropped her head on his shoulder.  She held onto him for dear life, trembling, not able to stop.  The bout had been too intense for her as she kissed his neck, finally feeling him stop cumming, and couldn’t believe how long he’d gone.  She licked her lips, wiping the water from her eyes, and ran her fingers through his hair, trying to calm him down.

 

“Mom?  Are you in there?” Alyssa shouted over the shower, trying the doorknob only to find it locked.  “MOM!  You didn’t fall asleep in the shower again did you?”

 

Mark’s head flew up, his own breathing ragged though now he was trying not to chuckle, making breathing even harder.  He gently set her down, keeping an arm around Nicoya’s waist to support her.  “Sounds like yer angel is a mite concerned for ya, darlin’.” He murmured, nuzzling her neck tenderly.

 

“Shit!” Nicoya cursed softly, not expecting her daughter to wake, and tried to get her breathing to calm down, though Mark nuzzling her neck was NOT helping.  “I’m fine, sweetheart!” She called out, trying to keep the shakiness out of her voice, and cleared her throat again, her head poked out of the shower.  “I’ll be out in a minute, Aly!” She turned around to face Mark, smiling softly at him, and gripped his goatee gently before kissing his chest and stepped out.  She wrapped a white towel around her body, tucking it between her breasts, and stumbled, not realizing how weak her thighs were as she gripped the sink.

 

Mark rinsed off, turning the water onto cold, needing to quickly calm his own still burning body down.  He poked his head out of the curtain.  “You want me to wait in here till ya get her back in bed?” He asked softly, not sure if she’d approve of him following her out in front of Alyssa.  The kid was smart enough to realize more than showering was going on in here.

 

Biting her bottom lip, Nicoya hated that she had to keep this a secret, but she also didn’t want her daughter to know what they’d done.  “I don’t know.” She groaned in frustration, raking a hand through her hair, and sighed heavily, dropping her head forward.  “What do you want me to do, Mark?” She finally asked, her voice quiet so Aly didn’t overhear them.

 

“MOM!  I’m hungry!” Alyssa yelled, sounding impatient and sleepy still , never a good combination with her.

 

“Just go tend to her, darlin’.” Mark replied quietly.  “We can talk 'bout it once she’s back in bed.” He knew Alyssa would probably eat and pass out again.  He’d worn her little butt down with the horseback riding.

 

Nodding, Nicoya shot him an apologetic look before walking out, after the shower turned off, and sighed as she looked down at her impatient daughter.  “Young lady, you are very crabby tonight.” She pointed out and shook her head, trying to walk normally, even though she was spaghetti legged and shaky.  She plopped down on the bed, crossing her legs, and handed Alyssa the menu.  “Get something quick and then it’s back to bed.” She instructed, already seeing the sleepy look in her daughter’s eyes.

 

Alyssa was too tired to reply, scanning the menu with tired eyes before pointing out what she wanted and leaning back against the headboard.  Once Nicoya had called the order, Alyssa scooted onto her lap, wrapping her arms around her neck.  “Mommy, are you still mad at me for this morning?” She asked softly.

 

“No sweetheart, I was never mad at you.  I was just mad at the fact that Mr. Cena upset you so much last night and myself.  I’m really sorry for snapping on you this morning, Aly.  I love you so much, you know that right?” She spoke softly to her daughter, still in only a white towel and held her close to her, kissing her forehead, and ran her fingers through her hair.  “Please remember I will never stop loving you, baby girl.  You’re my world.  My entire existence.”

 

Alyssa nodded, smiling, looking relieved.  She started to reply, but instead frowned, reaching out to pick a hair off Nicoya’s white towel, holding it up.  “Mom…is your hair changing color?” She asked curiously.

 

Nicoya looked down at the auburn red hair Alyssa plucked off of her towel and sighed, trying not to blush, and set her daughter down on the bed.  “It’s the lighting, Alyssa.” She simply said, bending down and pulled out a silky black nightgown that went to mid-thigh, raking a hand through her sopping wet hair, and grabbed a matching pair of bra and panties.

 

“Oh…okay.” Alyssa was too sleepy to argue or even not believe that.  She smiled through a yawn when there was a knock on the door, stumbling over to get it, accepting the money she was handed by her mother.  She tipped the server and took her food.  “Night Mom.” She blew her mother a kiss before heading to her room.

 

“Night sweetheart.” Nicoya replied, having slipped on her bra and panties followed by the nightgown. 

 

She walked in her daughter’s room, kissing her forehead, and smiled before closing the door behind her, not leaving it cracked.  She couldn’t risk Alyssa finding out about Mark and knew her daughter was going to sleep throughout the night.  She couldn’t believe her daughter had questioned the hair and sighed heavily, wondering what they were going to do.  It wasn’t that she was ashamed, but she didn’t want Alyssa getting her hopes up about anything incase her and Mark didn’t work out.  Mark was waiting patiently in the bathroom, having pulled his clothes back on a long time ago, trying not to listen to their conversation. 

 

Though, he had felt his heart do a leap when he heard Alyssa inquire about the hair and could only imagine what the Hell that was about.  Nicoya walked over to the liquor and poured herself a glass of wine, needing to calm her nerves, and took a long swig of it before setting her glass down.  She walked over, peeking in to check on her daughter, and smiled when she seen Alyssa had fallen asleep while eating.  She quickly cleaned her mess up, kissed her forehead, and walked out, closing the door behind her.  She about jumped out of her skin when she bumped into Mark, but managed to keep her screams mute. 

 

“Christ!” She whispered out harshly, feeling her heart beating furiously, and shook her head before throwing away Alyssa’s dinner.  Mark had just scared the Hell out of her and knew a man THAT size was NOT allowed to be THAT quiet.

 

Mark reached out to take a hold of her upper arms, steadying her.  “Sorry.” He whispered, realizing he should’ve probably given her a warning or something.  “She asleep?”

 

“Yeah, she’s so exhausted.  What did you do to her?” She asked playfully, smiling softly, though her heart was still thudding in her chest as she finally felt herself standing without falling over.  She walked away from him and sat on the bed, crossing her leg over the other, and looked back at him, wondering what he was thinking right now.  They just fucked in the shower of her hotel room while her daughter was sleeping.  What the Hell could they say to each other after that?

 

Mark smiled, raking a hand through his damp hair.  “Took her ridin’ is all.  It can be tirin’ on someone who’s new to it.  Works out some thigh and leg muscles, I ran her ragged I reckon.” He seen the look on her face, wondering what she was thinking.  If she was regretting what they’d done.  “What’s on yer mind darlin’?”

 

“What are we now, Mark?” Nicoya asked way out of left field, raking a hand through her black hair, and sighed heavily.  “I mean, was this a one-time deal or what?” She was so confused right now and sighed heavily, taking her glass of wine, and took a swig of it before setting it back down.

 

Mark frowned, walking over to sit on the edge of the bed, reaching out to take her hands in his.  “I would hope we’re still friends, Nico.” He said gently.  “I’d like fer us to be somethin’ more, but that’s up to you, darlin’.  I’m not goin’ to rush or force ya into anythin’ yer not ready for or don’t want.”

 

“So you fucked me in the shower all so we could be friends?” She questioned, her voice incredulous, and shook her head as she stood up from the bed, feeling her blood boiling as she took a few deep breaths to calm down.  “I’m sorry, Mark, but I don’t have sex with friends.  I have sex with men who want to be with me or men who I THINK want to be with me.  Though you’re the first in two years.” She was so mad right now, she was seeing red, but she didn’t want to lose her temper as she walked over to the window and crossed her arms in front of her chest.

 

Mark frowned, getting up and walking over to turn her around, staring down intently in her eyes.  “Listen Nico, yer takin’ what I said wrong.” He said slowly.  “I WANT to be with ya, I was tryin’ to be considerate since I didn’t know what you were feelin’.” He shook his head slightly.  “You’ve been through the mill, Nico, I just want you to be comfortable with me.  And I didn’t fuck you so we could be friends either.  I made love to ya in hopes we could be more.”

 

“What are we going to tell Alyssa?  Mark, what if we don’t work out?” Nicoya started crying softly now as she lowered her head, burying her face in her hands, and shook her head back and forth, sniffling a little.  “I don’t want to hurt my little girl again.  I did it once when I had her with John instead of someone who actually waned to be with me.  Do you know how many times I’ve overheard her talking in her room to her dolls about how much she loves you and wants you to be her father?” She questioned, sounding both heartbroken and conflicted as she wiped her tears away.  “I want to be with you too, Mark.  I haven’t felt like this in so long, but I need to think of my daughter first.”

 

Mark felt his own heart break at hearing what Alyssa confided to her dolls.  He didn’t honestly know what to say either.  If they didn’t work out, Alyssa would be heartbroken.  And who’s to say they’d somehow manage to remain on good terms if that happened?  He didn’t want to hurt Alyssa, but at the same time, he felt like if he walked from Nicoya right now and pretended tonight hadn’t happened, he’d be denying his own heart.  “Ya gotta do what you think is best for Alyssa.” He said finally in a gentle tone of voice.  “I don’t want her getting’ hurt anymore then you do, darlin’.”

 

“Can I trust you?” Nicoya whispered out, finally staring up into his emerald green eyes, her own filled with conflicting emotions, and sniffled a little as she felt a tear slide down her cheek.  “I already know Alyssa does.  I already know she loves you with all her heart and soul.  You have no idea how much she loves you, Mark.  No idea whatsoever.” She started crying again, wishing she would’ve had Alyssa with Mark instead of John.

 

Mark was mildly taken aback at that question.  Hadn’t he shown her she could trust him?  He’d cared for Alyssa like she was his own, wished in his secret heart she was his own.  Done his best to protect her from John and actually beaten the punk down for her.  “I’d never do anythin’ to hurt you or Alyssa, Nico.” He promised, his green eyes sincere.

 

Nicoya finally calmed down enough to stare up at him, into his eyes, and nodded before walking over to him.  She stood on her tiptoes and kissed his lips softly, wrapping her arms around his neck, and pressed her forehead to his.  “I trust you, Mark.” She whispered, caressing his face with her hand, and kissed him again before taking his hand, entwining their fingers together.  “Do you want to…stay with me tonight or…go back to your own room?” She quietly asked, praying he wanted to stay with her.

 

Mark raised her hand up, kissing the tips of her fingers.  “I’d love nothin’ more then to stay with ya, darlin’. “ He whispered, leaning forward to brush his lips against hers.  “Know what we’re goin’ to tell the munchkin?”

 

“I have no clue, but she is going to get a Hell of a surprise in the morning.” She giggled quietly and took his hand in hers, leading him over to the bed.  She pulled the comforter back, smiling when Mark shed his shirt, but left his pants on before sliding in bed with her.  She sighed in contentment when he pulled her into his arms, spooning up against him, and kissed his arm as she tucked her head beneath his chin.  “Good night, Mark.” She whispered softly, entwining their fingers together, and closed her eyes, not having felt this relaxed and content in eight long years.

 

Chapter 20

 

“Hey Mom, I can’t find my-” Alyssa froze, having walked out of the room without looking up, busy shifting through her bag.  Though she dropped the bag, her blue eyes wide, frozen on the scene before her.  Her mother and Mark were LYING in the bed…TOGETHER!  All tangled up.  “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?”

 

Nicoya literally shot up in bed, her eyes widened, her black hair tousled, and stared at her daughter with startled midnight blue eyes.  “Alyssa Marie!  Why are you raising your voice?” She pressed a hand over her racing heart, trying to breathe again.  “You scared your mother to death!”

 

“Mom, you’re in bed with Mark!  I’m scared to death!” Alyssa shot back, scrambling up on the bed and standing between them, looking back and forth between the two.

 

Mark, not generally a morning person, pried his eyes apart and murmured huskily, “Mornin’ angel.”

 

“I asked a question!” She exclaimed, her tone demanding, and placed her hands on her hips, her lips pursed tightly together.

 

Sighing heavily, Nicoya raked a hand through his hair and bit her bottom lip, wondering how she was going to explain this to her daughter.  “Uhh…” She didn’t know what to say honestly and scrunched her face up in confliction again.  “You see, Alyssa…What happened was…”

 

Mark propped himself up on his elbow, tugging Alyssa down so she was sitting in between them.  “What would ya say if yer momma and I got together, angel?” He asked softly, trying to wake up fully.

 

“Like…together, together?” Alyssa asked, looking both shocked and hopeful as she clasped her hands together.

 

“Yeah together, together.” Mark replied with a smile, loving how cute Alyssa was and the words she used to identify things.

 

“COOL!” She squealed out in excitement, her big blue eyes sparkling with happiness, and all of her teeth were showing in the smile that crossed her face.

 

“Now, I don’t want you to get your hopes up, Aly because we might not work out…” Nicoya stated, running a hand up and down her daughter’s arms, seeing the hope shining in her blue eyes, and it broke her heart.  If her and Mark didn’t work out, it would tear Alyssa apart, which is what Nicoya was scared of happening.  “We’ll just take it day by day and see where it goes, alright?”

 

Alyssa nodded in understanding, crossing her fingers in her lap, and prayed they stayed together forever as she asked, “So, what’s next?”

 

“Whatta ya mean, angel?” Mark asked, his voice still gruff with sleep, and yawned loudly as he covered his mouth with his hand.

 

“Are you guys goin’ to share a bedroom from now on?  Cause I need warning, I don’t like walking in on you.” Alyssa stated, having literally been scared to death upon seeing Mark and her mother in the same bed sleeping together.  She didn’t want that to happen again, especially if they were naked.  For an eight year old, she knew WAY more than what she should’ve.

 

“Christ…” Nicoya groaned, slapping her face with her hand, and shook her head as she turned red.  “Alyssa, I don’t think that’s something you need to know.” She gently scolded, not believing how much her eight year old knew, and sighed.  “As for Mark staying with us, I’m not sure about that either…” She peered over at him.

 

Mark shrugged one bare shoulder, smiling at her, his green eyes twinkling slightly, and replied, “Well darlin’, we can keep our own hotel rooms, share one or start getting’ them big ol’ suites with separate bedrooms all around.” He suggested, shrugging again, even though he didn’t plan on sleeping alone without Nicoya by his side ever again.

 

“They really have those?” Alyssa asked curiously, her eyebrows drawn together.  When Mark nodded, she went on with her questions, wanting to know more.  “Wow, they must cost a lot.  Are you rich, Mark?”

 

“I’m not scrappin’ fer anythin’.” Mark replied candidly, not wanting to get into the whole financial talk with this little girl who entranced him in the past few months.  He just smiled softly at her and patted her hand before turning his attention to Nicoya.

 

“Alyssa, it doesn’t matter if he’s rich or not.  That’s not why I want to be with him.  I…care about him…” She trailed off and sighed, raking a hand through her black hair, once again feeling conflicted.  “If you want to share a hotel room, that’s fine with me Mark.” She told him and stood up, smoothing out her nightgown, and looked over at her daughter.  “Done with the questions now, young lady?”

 

“For now.” Alyssa agreed, looking back and forth between the two curiously.  Obviously bursting with more questions, but refrained for the time being, not wanting to upset her mother.

 

“Now angel, what was it you were lookin’ fer?” Mark asked, changing the subject, knowing Nicoya wasn’t comfortable with the topic anymore.

 

“My underroos.  I can’t find’em.” Alyssa answered promptly, not bothered in the least, and started looking around again.  Mark started coughing, burying his face in his pillow, trying hard to suppress the overwhelming laughter that threatened to surface.

 

Nicoya groaned, not believing her daughter just said that, and sighed heavily as she started laughing herself.  “They’re in your bedroom, where they USUALLY are.” She informed her daughter, shaking her head, and shot Mark a look when he buried his face further in the pillow.  His shoulders were shaking violently as she walked over and started hitting him on the arm.  “Stop laughing!”

 

Mark snorted, unable to stop, and echoed through amusement, “Underroos?”

 

Alyssa giggled, slipping down off the bed to the floor.  “No Mom, they’re not.  I looked everywhere for them.  I think you sent the wrong laundry with the maid to be washed when we got here.” She said, having torn her room apart looking for her drawers.  “I have no clean underroos!” She wailed, clearly not looking happy, and Mark had to pull the pillow over his head to keep from bellowing out in laughter.

 

Nicoya was as red as a strawberry by now, not believing her daughter, and sighed heavily as she looked back at her.  She walked over to her bag, seeing Alyssa’s clothes mixed with hers, and sighed again.  “They’re in my bag.  I think I was either too tired or something wasn’t clicking in my head.  Now take your underwear and go change before you kill Mark.” She then walked in the kitchen, trying to calm herself down.

 

“How am I killing him?” Alyssa asked curiously, sorting through the bag, getting a little overzealous, and sent a pair flying over her shoulder.  She spun around to find Mark sitting up on the bed, a pair of My Little Pony panties on his face.  “Um…those are a little small for you.” She commented, trying to keep a straight face.

 

Nicoya turned around and spit out the water she just drank out of, her midnight blue eyes wide as saucers, and cleared her throat.  Her face was turning redder than a cherry as she walked over, kneeling on the bed and with one finger, peeled the underwear off of his head.  “These are WAY too small for you, Mark.” She agreed, dangling them from her finger, and handed them to her daughter, biting her bottom lip as her shoulders began shaking violently, trying so hard not to laugh.

 

Alyssa took the underwear, a hand clamped over her mouth.  Finally, not able to help herself, she let out a pig-like snort that caused her mother to start giggling, and then it turned into full-blown laughter.  Mark blinked, looking back and forth between the pair before lunging.  Wrapping an arm around each of them, he dragged them back onto the bed and started tickling them both at the same time mercilessly.  “Mom, save me!” Alyssa squealed out, squirming in Mark’s arm, her laughter filling the air along with her mother’s.

 

“How can I?!  He’s got me too!” Nicoya shrieked out, laughing hard, and went to reach for her daughter, but Mark got the upper hand on her.  Finally, she managed to grab his full attention and passionately kissed him.  She smirked as he released Alyssa, who zoomed out of bed, and broke it, grinning at him from ear to ear.  “Now then, go put your damned underwear on before they end up on Mark’s head again!”  Alyssa shrieked with laughter as she hightailed it to her room, shutting the door behind her.

 

“Speakin’ of underwear…” Mark murmured in a low, husky voice, keeping her pinned beneath him, and ran his fingers down her thigh and up under her nightgown.  A second later, her panties were dangling from his fingertips in front of her.

 

“Mark!” Nicoya gasped, her midnight blue eyes widened in shock, and immediately snatched them away from him, blushing furiously.  “Alyssa could’ve seen that!” She scolded him in a whisper, smacking his chest lightly.

 

“Darlin’, unless she has x-ray vision and is starin’ through that door, I don’t think you have anythin’ to worry 'bout.” Mark replied, bending down to nuzzle her neck, snatching the panties back.  He growled, nipping down gently on her tender flesh before sliding out of the bed, stuffing her panties into the back of his jean pocket, grinning.

 

Nicoya blushed more as she shook her head, slipping out of the bed, and raked a hand through her black hair.  She quickly walked up behind him, snatching the panties out of his back pocket, and darted in the bathroom, slamming the door behind her, and locked it.  She giggled before starting the shower, stripping out of her clothes, and stepped in the hot sprays, moaning at the contact.  Visions of her and Mark’s love making in here the previous night flowed through her mind, causing her body to tingle, and sighed as she smiled.  She hadn’t smiled like this in so long or felt this good.  Mark made her feel like a real woman and that’s how she hoped it’d stay.

 

Mark shook his head, chuckling softly to himself.  He looked up when Alyssa walked out now dressed.  “Hey angel.” He reached for his vest, slipping it over his broad shoulders, and straightened it a little.

 

“Where’s Mom?” Alyssa asked, browsing the room service menu, her never ending bottomless pit of a stomach demanding immediate attention.

 

“In the shower.” Mark answered, biting back a smirk, remembering that beautiful blush on Nicoya’s flushed face he caused.

 

Nicoya stepped out of the shower a half an hour later, wrapping a towel around her body, and snatched her clothes up.  She had a glow about her.  A happiness and light that shined in her blue eyes and a never-ending smile on her face.  She sighed happily, towel drying her hair, and then brushed it along with her teeth before walking out.  She looked at her daughter, shaking her head, and immediately began blushing when Mark winked at her.  She walked over to her bag, picking some clothes out, and walked back inside the bathroom to change.

 

“Mom looks a bit like a tomato today.” Alyssa commented from her spot at the table where she was busy with her breakfast, sitting across from Mark, who was nursing a cup of coffee.  Trying to fully wake up and a plate for Nicoya was already set.

 

“She does don’t she?” Mark replied amused, winking at Alyssa before glancing towards the bathroom door.  “Hey darlin’ ya gonna come eat with us?” He asked in a sweet, innocent tone of voice, knowing she could hear him through the bathroom door.  “Alyssa ordered ya strawberries…”

 

“And cream!” Alyssa piped in with a grin, taking another forkful of food in her mouth.  Mark snorted into his mug of coffee when he heard that, not believing she just said that.

 

“You two seriously need to get a better hobby besides making fun of me.” Nicoya stated, walking out in a pair of black dress pants with a deep purple sleeveless top that went off the shoulder.  Her black hair framed her face while the rest was pulled up in two chopsticks.  She didn’t wear makeup, never had, and walked over to sit down at the table.  She grabbed a strawberry, smirking at Mark, and slowly took a bite out of it, moaning at the taste.  “Mmm my favorite.”

 

“I’m partial to the cream myself, darlin’.” He replied, smirking when she blushed again.  “Better stop with that, Nico before it becomes a permanent condition.”

 

Alyssa pushed away her empty plate, sighing contentedly, and rubbed her stomach.  “Much better.  Hey Mom, if you turn red, can I call you ketchup?” She asked, looking serious.

 

“No you may not.” Nicoya replied in a growl and dropped her head forward, shaking her head, and started eating in silence.  No longer in the mood to tease.  She finished up rather quickly, not that hungry, and pushed away from the table before going over to open up her laptop.  She had to make sure everything was ready for that night since she had to email Vince all the new scripts she’d done.

 

“Since it’s so early, I reckon I’ll just hit the gym.” Mark said, clearing his throat, wondering what brought on the sudden mood swing, wondering if maybe she had issues with being teased.

 

“Can I come?” Alyssa asked hopefully, wanting to spend more time with Mark, even though his mother was dating him now.

 

“I don’t know, angel, best ask yer momma that.” Mark said, hesitant about making decisions for Alyssa.  That was another bridge they’d have to cross regarding if he could start disciplining and telling Alyssa what she could and could not do, like Nicoya did.

 

“Mark, if you’re leaving because of me, don’t.  I’m not mad or angry.” Nicoya assured him with a smile, reading his mind, and went back to staring at her laptop.  “I’m just checking over this before sending it to Vince for approval.  It’s your scripts for next week.” She explained, looking over at her daughter, and sighed.  “You are allowed to go with Mark anywhere you want at any time as long as he doesn’t mind it, Aly.”

 

“Scripts for next week, huh?  How 'bout givin’ me a peek?” Mark asked curiously, wondering what she had in store for him.  “As fer the gym, I need the workout anyway, don’t want to be gettin’ too much fatter.”

 

“Fat?” Alyssa stared at him frowning.  “You’re not fat, except for maybe your butt.” Mark choked on his coffee in response, groaning since some went down the wrong tube and it was hot.

 

“Alyssa Marie!” Nicoya gasped, her eyes widened again, and covered her mouth with her hand, not believing what her daughter just said.  “I cannot believe you said that!  Apologize to your…” She cleared her throat and trailed off, biting her bottom lip and finally got her mind on track.  “Apologize to Mark right now, young lady!” She ordered sternly.

 

Mark arched an eyebrow, having caught that ‘your’, but didn’t say a word.  Just glanced at Alyssa, who looked completely clueless that she just said something that could be considered rude.  Not that he did.  He just couldn’t believe she said he had a fat butt.  Were kids supposed to know about fat butts?  “Sorry Mark.” Alyssa said finally, still trying to figure out where she went wrong.

 

Nicoya sighed as she shook her head, looking at Mark apologetically, and raked a hand through her hair.  “The reason I just told you to apologize to him, sweetheart, is because you don’t say that about anyone’s rear-end.  That was rude, Alyssa.  Do you understand?” She asked her daughter, crossing her arms in front of her chest, staring at her with a stern expression.

 

“Oh.” Alyssa blinked, looking back and forth between the adults.  “So I can’t tell Melina she has a fat butt?  It’d be rude?” She questioned, sounding truly confused.  Mark raised his hand up to his mouth, hiding his grin, and looked pointedly at Nicoya.  Surely that one deserved an exception.

 

“Just keep your mouth shut about peoples rear-ends, Alyssa Marie or I will punish you.” She stated in a firm, final tone of voice, not wanting her daughter to resort to that kind of talk, and went back to staring at her laptop.  She didn’t want her daughter to be talking about anyone in a bad way.  No matter how much they may deserve it.  She was a better person than that and Nicoya had raised Alyssa to respect her elders.

 

“Yes Mom.” Alyssa replied softly in a respectful tone of voice.  She waited a minute before looking up when Mark got to his feet and asked, “Can I go with you?”

 

“Sure angel, you can spot for me.” He told her, reaching down to pat her head.  “I gotta swap clothes first.” He’d showered quickly after his interlude with Nicoya and would take another after his workout.

 

“Okay.” Alyssa gave her mother a hug and kiss before practically dragging Mark out of the room by his hand.

 

Mark shot Nicoya one last, longing look over his shoulder, smiling at her before being yanked out into the hallway.  “Whoa Aly, don’t break my arm!”

 

Nicoya smiled back at him, winking, and sighed when the door closed.  She shook her head and stood up from the bed, beginning to clean up the mess from breakfast, and then went back to work.  She smiled when Vince’s secretary emailed her back, letting her know they’d been approved, as always, and opened Steve’s first.  She didn’t know why, but she wanted to get his done since it was the easiest.  She might as well get started so she didn’t have to worry about it at the arena later on that night as she began typing up the rough draft.

 

Chapter 21

 

Steve arched an eyebrow when he seen Mark walk out of a room with Nicoya’s daughter.  Nodding to them both and continuing on his way.  He waited until he heard the little chatterbox’s voice fade away before turning around and knocking on Nicoya’s hotel room door.  Keeping out of sight in case she tried to close the door on him when she opened it.  Nicoya looked up at the hotel room door when she heard a knock on it, figuring Mark forgot something.  He didn’t have a key card after all as she stood up and walked over, after saving her work on her laptop.  She opened the door and frowned when she didn’t see anyone.  Her eyes widened when Steve stepped in her vision and swallowed hard, wondering what he wanted.

 

“Hello, Mr. Williams, what can I do for you?” She asked hesitantly, wondering how he knew what room she was in, and tried not to act nervous.

 

“Well Coya,” Steve began conversationally, placing his foot in the door so she couldn’t close it on him.  “For starters, you could tell me just when, or if even, you ever had plans on introducin’ me to my niece?”

 

Nicoya’s midnight blue eyes widened in shock as her hand began shaking violently on the door, staring back at her brother, and couldn’t move.  She couldn’t think.  Breathe.  Nothing was coming and no words were sounding from her mouth.  How in the HELL did he find out?!  What in God’s name was she supposed to say now?

 

Steve caught her when she started to sway, gently backing her into the room, and closed the door behind him.  “Calm down, Coya.” He advised, nudging her back down onto the bed.  “I made some phone calls, includin’ one to yer mom.” He informed her, almost honest, blunt and straight to the point about everything in his life.  “Why didn’t you say somethin’?  That day in the cafeteria for instance?”

 

Her head was spinning as she blinked several times, trying to get the shock to wear off, and sighed heavily as her head finally lowered.  “I never expected you to find out.  It’s been twenty years since we last seen each other, Steve.  I didn’t want you to find out.” She finally said in a low, quiet voice, sighing heavily and raked a hand through her black hair.

 

Steve ran a hand over his bald head, looking slightly confused, and replied, “Coya, twenty years or forty, it don’t matter.  We’re still family now ain’t we?”

 

“I don’t know what we are, Steve.  I don’t trust a lot of men around my daughter or me for that matter.  I’ve been through a lot in the past twenty years and I don’t want to confuse my little girl with this.  I have enough on my plate right now.” She sighed heavily, knowing she probably sounded like a bitch, but the fact of the matter was that Steve was the LAST person she wanted to deal with.  John was trying to take her little girl away from her and she was still conflicted about Mark.  Nicoya felt like shooting her head off with a shotgun.

 

Steve held up his hands, stepping away, an indefinable emotion in his blue eyes.  “Right, sorry, didn’t mean to waltz in and mess up things fer ya, Nicoya.” He apologized, sounding truly hurt.  “I shoulda stopped and thought 'bout Alyssa.  That is her name, ain’t it?”

 

“Yeah, that’s your niece’s name.” She answered, sighing, and finally felt the tears well up in her eyes.  “I didn’t know how you’d take finding out that your stepsister worked for the same company as you did, Steve.  I mean the last time I seen you was when I was just a little girl and you were fifteen.  I didn’t even think you’d remember me to be quite honest, especially after our parent’s divorce.” She started crying, her brain feeling like it was going to explode.

 

“Ten, rowdy as Hell, moody over our parent’s decisions in life…” Steve shrugged awkwardly, naming off a few of Nicoya’s characteristics.  “Coya, we were both kids back then and I’m sorry fer not recognizin’ ya, but you’ve grown up from that little beanpole with knobby knees and a scrawny neck.” His tone was light, playful, looking around and finally snagging a couple tissues, holding them out to her.  “Why would I mind if ya worked for the same company as me, honey?  Not like I got a claim on it…well…you know what I mean.” He did have a claim on it.  The WWE was his stomping grounds and he only shared territory with one other person.  Mark.

 

“Thanks.” She whispered softly, taking the tissues from him, and blew her nose before wiping her tears away, sighing heavily.  “I don’t know.  I figured that you’d get mad or something.  I know it sounds stupid, but I was scared.  We haven’t seen each other in so long, but I can’t deny that it’s really great seeing you again.  You’ve changed considerably.” She smiled softly back at him and actually reached out, stroking his face with her hand, and pulled her hand away as she blew her nose again.  “I was wrong.  I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t worry 'bout it, Coya.  Water under the bridge, over, however the Hell they say it.” Steve waved her words away dismissively.  “Look, if ya want me to back off and stay outta yer and Alyssa’s lives, keep things the way they are, then I’ll do it.”

 

“No, I don’t want that, Steve.” She sniffled a little, looking up into his blue eyes, and stood up, wrapping her arms around her brother’s neck, and buried her face in it as she began crying.  Twenty years.  It’d been twenty years since she’d last seen Steve and couldn’t believe he wasn’t angry with her for joining the WWE.  She’d seen him in the hallways as her co-worker, but as far as being her brother, it’d been twenty long years.  She finally pulled back, smiling back at him, and wiped her tears away as she took a deep breath.  “I want you to meet Alyssa when she returns with Mark.  They went to the workout room, but in the meantime, we could catch up if you want?” She suggested, having the rest of the morning to catch up with her brother.

 

“Sounds wonderful, honey.” Steve flashed a genuine smile, taking her hand and guiding her back down onto the bed, sitting beside her.  “First off, I gotta know.  Is Mark Alyssa’s dad?” He didn’t think so.  She looked nothing like him, but Mark did play the role perfectly from what he’d observed.

 

“Unfortunately no.” Nicoya answered, letting out a shaky breath, and raked a hand through her black hair.  “Her father is a moron that I wasted eight years of my life, which is how old Alyssa is, pining for.  I finally told him to shove it up his ass when I caught him and Torrie Wilson at RAW about a year ago fucking in his dressing room.” She explained, remorse dripping in her voice, and more tears stung her eyes as she sighed deeply at the memory.  “She’s the only good thing that came out of those eight years.”

 

“Damn, that’s harsh.” Steve murmured, the wheels of his mind already turning.  Alyssa had blue eyes he’d noticed before.  Though he was fairly certain they weren’t from Nicoya.  Different shades.  Then he got to thinking about Whorrie, which was Torrie’s nickname backstage.  The woman would fuck anything that had a dick attached to it.  That woman had gotten around a lot though there was always one asshole she seemed to wind up back with.  “It ain’t Cena is it?” He asked suddenly, feeling sick to his stomach.

 

Her eyes closed as the tears spilled down her cheeks and dropped her head forward, letting him know the answer, and sniffled a little.  “I regret having her with him, but I don’t regret having her, if that makes any sense.  I wish to God she didn’t have his blood running through her veins, but she does, which is where she gets her mouth from.  The worst part is that John knows that’s his daughter and he’s going to try to take her away from me.  I haven’t even told Mark yet.” She started crying harder, burying her face in her hands.

 

Steve wrapped his arms around Nicoya, pulling her against him.  “Honey that man ain’t goin’ to get Alyssa.  It’ll be a cold day in Hell first.” He assured her.  “How can he take her?  On what grounds?”

 

“I kept her from him for eight years.  I never told him because of how he treated me.  He used to hit me and abuse me, even before I had her.  We were together not even a month before I got pregnant because he refused to use protection and I had forgotten to take my birth control.” She explained solemnly, rubbing her arms up and down, and sighed heavily.  “I have a protection order against him that went into effect by the courts if he ever did find out about her because I showed them everything John had done to me.  I took pictures of the abuse and they concluded they didn’t want a little girl being raised by an abusive father.  I have full custody over her right now, but he’s got a lot of money.” She started crying again, not believing the mess she got herself into.

 

Steve knew full well that money could buy a lot of things, including normally well-meaning lawyers and judges.  “Hell honey, I got money.  Mark has money.  Yer one of the highest paid non-wrestling employees, you should have a stash by now, darlin’.  Hell, if not, you really think anyone would let that slime take yer angel from ya?  Hell no!”

 

“I just really hope I don’t lose her.  She’s the most important thing in my life.” She stated, meaning every word, even though her and Mark were together.  She was still having conflictions with that and sighed as she raked her hands through her hair.  “And on top of that, Mark and I are together now.  I don’t want my daughter’s heart broken.” She sniffled and leaned against him as he held her close.  “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to dump all of this on you, but if you’re going to be part of our lives, you need to know everything that’s going on right now.”

 

Steve nodded, glad she’d dumped this on him because he had every intention of having a little chat with Cena.  Then a serious sit down with Mark.  “From knowing the man for many, many years Coya, I can tell you Mark wouldn’t ever hurt you, not intentionally.  He seems to love Alyssa and from the looks of things, he cares about ya.  If he proves me wrong though, I’ll kill him for you.” That was a serious offer.  “As for Cena, we’ll get that handled straightaway, you got a lawyer?”

 

“No, I haven’t even thought about that.  All of this happened in the past forty-eight hours.  Last night was Mark.  The previous night was John.  I was going to call my lawyer this morning and see what can be done and if this has to go to trial.” She sniffled a little as she explained, sighing heavily, and closed her eyes as more tears spilled down her cheeks.  “I don’t know what’s going to happen with Mark and I right now.  I’m just trying to take it a day at a time, but I do care a great deal for him and I know he loves Alyssa like she was his own.  It’s obvious, especially when I overhear my daughter telling her dolls she wishes Mark was her father.”

 

“Wow…” Steve wasn’t exactly sure how he was supposed to react to that.  Being new at this uncle business.  Though, he felt his heartstrings being pulled in sympathy towards Alyssa.  “I’ll tell ya what honey, I’ll give my lawyer a call, have him see what can be done.” He offered gently.  “He’s a damned good one and he owes me a favor anyways.  Got him and his family tickets to a pay-per-view a few months back.” He stroked her back soothingly.  “And with Mark, all ya can do is take it one day at a time.”

 

“Thanks…bro.” She cracked a small smile at him and wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly.  She couldn’t believe how stupid she’d been in not telling Steve about her working for the same company as him.  It was fear more than anything else and she was actually glad he’d gone snooping around.  “I bet my mother was shocked to hear from you.” She laughed, suddenly picturing her mother’s face.

 

“Like you wouldn’t believe.” Steve agreed, grinning at the memory, and could still hear her voice in his mind.  “I thought she had a heart attack when she got on the phone.  Her husband sounds a bit like an ass though.” He commented with a frown, remember how he’d been greeted before reluctantly being allowed to speak to his step-mother.

 

“Yeah, Terry is a very jealous man when he wants to be.  He probably thought you were another one of my mother’s ‘lovers’.” She rolled her eyes, hating her mother’s new husband, and sighed deeply.  “I really wish her and Scott would’ve worked out.” Scott was Steve’s father and he’d been an absolute sweetheart to Nicoya.  One of the many reasons why it broke her little heart when her mother divorced him.  “How is he anyway?”

 

“Good.  He’s doin’ real good.  Divorced again and stayin’ that way he says.  She was a…well, she wasn’t a nice woman, let’s just put it at that.” Steve replied, his blue eyes darkening for a minute.  He started to say something, but the door opened and in walked Mark and Alyssa, both freshly showered.

 

“She insisted on showerin’ in the women’s locker room after her workout.” Mark explained, shaking his head down at the angel.

 

“I got to lift weights and everything!  They were sooo heavy.” Alyssa said eagerly, looking proud of herself as she grinned.  Mark held up two fingers behind her back, mouthing the word pounds.  “Um Mom…” Alyssa was now staring at Steve curiously, wondering what he was doing there.

 

“Yes sweetheart?” Nicoya asked her daughter, wiping the rest of her tears away since they never fully stopped.  She knew her daughter was confused as she sniffled a little and blew her nose as she leaned against her brother, sighing raggedly.  It’d been an emotional rollercoaster for her over the past few days.  That was for sure.

 

“Uhhhh…” Alyssa glanced up at Mark, who just shrugged his shoulders down at her, and then went back to looking at her mother and Steve.  “What’s he doing here?  Why’re you crying?  What’s going on?” The questions fired back to back, causing Nicoya to shake her head, having expected it from her daughter.  Mark sat down on the couch, pulling the munchkin in his lap, wrapping his arms around her soothingly.  He was curious about all that himself, especially seeing Nicoya crying.

 

“Alyssa, I’d like you to meet your Uncle Steve.” Nicoya announced, wiping the rest of her tears away, and cleared her throat loudly.  “Steve, meet your niece, Alyssa Marie Harris.” She announced proudly, a smile on her face and looked over at Mark, hoping he understood what was going on now.

 

Chapter 22

 

Alyssa stared at her mother with an open mouth and wide eyes, finally looking at Mark then at Steve.  “Is this a joke?” She demanded, specifically recalling how she’d been told to stay away from this man.

 

“No joke, honey.” Steve said softly, studying her intently, and could tell she was upset.  “I’m yer momma’s brother, yer uncle.”

 

“What else did you forget to tell me, Mom?” Alyssa demanded, blinking rapidly, and couldn’t believe what she was hearing. 

 

“Alyssa, not now okay?  Your mother has had a really hard couple of days and the last thing I need to hear is your demands.” Nicoya replied in a low voice, raking a hand through her hair, and shook her head back and forth.  “See what I mean about her mouth?  That’s not my mouth.  That’s HIS mouth.” She said to her brother, who nodded in response, fully understanding now what Nicoya was talking about earlier.

 

Alyssa looked hurt, her sharp little ears catching that.  “I can’t help it if you didn’t pick me a better Dad.” She said softly, slipping off of Mark’s lap, and disappeared into her bedroom.

 

Mark fixed a look on Nicoya and stated in a demanding tone of voice, “You need to go talk to her.”

 

“No, she needs to learn not to demand things from me, Mark.” Nicoya argued promptly, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and pursed her lips tightly together.  “She’s eight years old and she has a mouth on her.  She’s going to learn respect or I’m going to shove it down her damned throat.” She stated in a growl, storming into the kitchen, and gripped the counter with her hands before hitting it.  “Can I help it if I got pregnant by that bastard?”

 

Steve looked at Mark, arching an eyebrow before getting up and walking over to Alyssa’s bedroom door, knocking softly before walking inside, closing the door behind him.  Mark sighed, getting up and walking over to stand behind Nicoya.  “Coya, she’s eight and heard a slightly negative comment from her momma that applies to her.  Look at it from Aly’s point of view.” He said softly, trying not to anger or upset her in any way, shape or form.

 

“She doesn’t need to know what I keep from her and what I don’t, Mark.  She’s eight years old and my past is just that, MY PAST.  She needs to learn that and stop demanding so much information from me when it’s none of her business.” Nicoya replied coolly, though there was still anger in her tone as she dropped her head forward, still gripping the sink.  “I’m sorry, but sometimes she acts too much like him and it makes me feel hatred because I don’t want her to be anything like him.  I want her to be respectful and considerate, not so damned demanding and pushy with that mouth.”

 

Mark sighed, stepping away from her.  The woman never seemed to get the goddamn point until hours later.  He didn’t bother explaining the ‘see what I mean about her mouth’ and ‘it’s HIS mouth’ comments and how it had seemed to affect Alyssa.  “I gotta go pack my gear.” He said softly.  “This’ll give yer brother time to get to know Aly without me around.  See you later?”

 

“Whatever.” She muttered in reply, not turning around to face him, and raked her hands through her hair as she sighed heavily.  She honestly didn’t care if Mark was angry with her or not.  She was going to raise her daughter the way SHE wanted, not his way or anyone else’s.  Alyssa was an angel, but she did have a mouth on her that mirrored her father’s to a T.  She loved her daughter with all her heart and soul, but Alyssa needed to learn not to question her mother so much or demand things from her.  She was just a little girl, but acted much more grown up than what she was.

 

Mark shook his head and walked out.  He knew Nicoya was doing her best, but she was so hard on Alyssa sometimes.  Trying to raise her to be different from John when half the time Alyssa was being a normal kid.  Mouthy, smart-assed, curious.  Couple that with the fact that Alyssa was being raised on the road.  Spent all of her time around adults, plus apparently being sheltered all rolled into one.  What did Nicoya honestly think the kid was going to be like?

 

After taking a few minutes to calm down, Nicoya finally walked out of the kitchen, hearing Steve and Alyssa talking, and sat down on the bed, looking over more scripts.  That’s what she always did when she was pissed.  Escaped in her work.  Her daughter was going to drive her into an early grave at this rate, which made her sigh even more.  She loved Alyssa, but sometimes the little girl knew how to push her buttons.  If Mark couldn’t accept how she raised her daughter, then he could go to Hell too.  Nicoya wasn’t changing for nobody and she was going to raise her daughter the way she felt was right.  She would break her of the habits she inherited from her father even if it killed her in the end.

 

Steve came out of Alyssa’s bedroom looking mildly awed.  “That is one smart girl.” He said, looking over at Nicoya, walking over to stand beside her.  “Scripts?  Do you ever stop workin’, honey?”

 

“HA!  Are you kidding?  If I didn’t work, you wouldn’t have a script.” Nicoya retorted with a sigh and patted his arm as she nodded at what he said first.  “Sometimes she’s too smart for her own good.” She raked a hand through her hair, cracking a smile when he sat down beside her, and turned her undivided attention to him.  “She hates me right now, I know it, but I’m only doing what I feel is best for her.”

 

“She doesn’t hate ya, Coya.  She just wondered why you made such a ‘mean remark’ about her.  She can’t help her genes.” Steve said softly, explaining some of what his conversation had been with his niece.  “She just feels bad because she thinks ya hate her for bein’ like her Dad.”

 

“I don’t hate her.  I love my daughter with all my heart.” She immediately stood up from the bed away from her brother and walked into Alyssa’s room.  She seen her daughter coloring and sighed as she walked over, taking her book from her, and sat down, pulling her into her arms.  “I’m so sorry, Aly.  I didn’t mean what I said, baby girl.  You know momma loves you with all my heart.  I wouldn’t change you.  I wouldn’t change one hair on your precious head.” She pulled back to stare into her daughter’s eyes, knowing she’d really hurt Alyssa by what she said.  “I just think you need to stop asking me so many questions about my past.  That’s what I think our problem has been lately.”

 

“I didn’t ask you a question though, Mommy.” Alyssa said, sounding hurt.  “You said I had his mouth and that was what you meant.” She sniffled, obviously struggling to not cry.  “I didn’t mean to make you mad.”

 

“No honey, you didn’t make me mad.  I’m just upset in general over this whole situation.  I didn’t mean to take it out on you.  I won’t do it again, I promise.” She kissed the top of her head, stroking her hair, and began rocking her as she sighed heavily.  “You do have your father’s mouth, Alyssa, but that’s not your fault.  That’s not your problem either.  You’re perfect the way you are, do you understand?” She cupped her daughter’s face in her hands and stared into her eyes that matched John’s to perfection.

 

Alyssa still looked doubtful, but she nodded anyway, moving her face down to bury it in her mother’s neck.  “I’m sorry.” She whispered, hiccupping, beginning to cry.  “I don’t mean to be like him!”

 

Nicoya started crying along with her, tears sliding down her cheeks, and couldn’t believe how hurtful she’d been toward her baby girl.  She loved her so much.  Too much.  “Don’t be sorry, Alyssa.  You’re my precious angel and I love you.  You can’t help how you are.  I love you no matter what, alright?” She whispered, not trusting her voice right now, and kept stroking her hair while rocking her.  The arena, her work, everything could wait.  Her daughter was more important right now, the only person she was concerned with at the moment.  “I love you, Alyssa.  Momma loves you unconditionally.  Please don’t cry.”

 

“You a-always act so mad at me!” Alyssa wailed, not holding back.  “I ask something and you get so mad!  I try not to be curious, but I can’t help it, you hide everything from me…” She sniffled, wiping her nose with her shirt sleeve.  “And now I’m confused because you said to stay away from Steve, but now he’s my Uncle?”

 

“I know, I know baby girl.  I’m going to explain everything to you.” Nicoya said, knowing she couldn’t hide anything from Alyssa, and wiped her tears away.  She took a deep breath and began explaining about her and Steve’s parents marrying when she was eight years old. 

 

The marriage lasted two years and then they got divorced when she was ten.  That was the last time she’d seen her brother and this was the first time they’d actually spoken personally in twenty years.  Alyssa was awed by that factor and couldn’t believe her grandmother had actually been married before her Grandpa Terry.  He was the one who hit Alyssa while Nicoya was away and her mother allowed it to happen, which is why she hardly spoke to her now.  The next thing Nicoya told her daughter was about her father.  She explained in not so much detail, basically indicating that John used to hurt her mother really bad and had on and off for eight years.  That’s why she kept Alyssa hidden from him for so long.  It took an hour to explain everything to her daughter and by the time she was finished, Alyssa was staring at her like a regular fish out of water.

 

Alyssa didn’t know what to say, which was a first for her.  She normally had words or a comment, a question for everything on any occasion.  This however, had rendered her speechless.  She was eight years old, what could she say?  Yeah, she understood most of it, had filed away what she didn’t to dwell on it later, which was a lot.  “Wow…” She finally whispered, blinking several times.

 

“Yeah, wow is right.  Now,” Nicoya began, smoothing out Alyssa’s black hair, and pressed her forehead to hers, wiping her dried tears away from her face with her thumbs.  “Do you understand now why momma kept you hidden all this time?  Do you finally understand why I kept you secretive and didn’t want you talking to anyone except for Ashy, Mattie, Jeffy, and Ky?  I was doing it to protect you from your father and Steve, but you can see Steve now.  Steve is a good person, a wonderful man, and he wants to be part of our lives.” Nicoya explained to her daughter patiently, never breaking eye contact with her little girl.