Nothing Like This


Chapter 1


C & S Funeral Home.


The sign stared back at her almost like a plague, causing a sigh to escape her lips.  She hadn't been back here in three long years, ever since her father fell ill to liver cancer.  He lasted longer than she would've expected and died before she could make it back home from Los Angeles.  His last words, according to his wife, Priscilla, were he wished his only daughter had been there to watch him go and he loved her. 


She didn't really believe that considering her father barely spoke a word to her throughout her childhood, not to mention nearly forcing her to go to a college of his choosing.  Madisyn was headstrong though, refusing point blank to do what her old man wanted.  It was her life, her decision and nothing was going to change that.  Stepping out in just a pair of skinny blue jeans with a black tank top, Madisyn headed inside, her honey blonde hair bouncing behind her with each step she took.


Working at a funeral home was not a gig Randy Orton had ever planned on performing, but he needed money.  He’d gone into the military briefly, ended up doing eight months in a military prison and decided that career option wasn’t for him.  Randy had answered an advertisement requesting an assistant and found himself basically being a bitch for Mark Calaway, the resident undertaker, who also answered to the nickname Taker some of the locals had bestowed on him.  He was a real peach to work for, Randy snorted at the thought just as the phone rang.


“C & S Funeral Home,” He answered when the phone rang, hating that he had been regulated to front desk duty, while he was also supposed to clean the lobby and do windows BEFORE helping down in the basement. “You stab 'em, we slab 'em.” He hated his job, but harassing the customers was a perk.


Madisyn slowly pulled the shades from her eyes, arching a slow eyebrow, and looked around the funeral home.  It looked as dark and dreary as she remembered, the walls painted a cream color with black edging.  Though right now, her focus was on the man behind the desk, which should've been a woman, slowly walking up to him.


“Excuse me; I'm looking for a Mark Calaway.  Is he here?” She asked sweetly, a smile lighting the entire room up it seemed as she stared back at him through her black rimmed glasses.


Randy held up a finger, mouthing 'hold on' as he finished listening to the rant he was receiving. “Will there be anything else?” He asked sweetly, knowing damn well he had just irritated the hell out of whoever this old broad was.  When she hung up on him, he shrugged and hung up as well, giving the woman with the mega-watt smile his full attention. “Yes ma'am, he is.” He said politely, he could be sweet and charming when the mood took him, like now. “But he's downstairs.  Can I take a message or shall I ring him up for you?” Mark spent a lot of time downstairs or out in the cemetery.  Randy had a sneaking suspicion the man was into necrophilia, but hadn't voiced it due to the fact Mark was a bit...intimidating.


That smile never left Madisyn's face as she slowly passed the desk, the handsome man with the deep blue eyes eying her. “That won't be necessary, honey.  I think I'll just go downstairs and find him myself.”


She winked and kept moving, leaving the receptionist -Riley snorted under her breath- to gape after her in shock.  Unlike most people, Mark didn't intimidate Riley and for good reason.  She began descended the stairs, the door closing behind her setting her heart to racing, though Riley refused to be afraid.  This was after all her stomping grounds so to speak.


Randy chased after her. “Miss, he doesn't like it when people go down there.” He insisted, gently catching her by the arm in order to stop her progress.  She seemed to know her way around pretty good, which made Randy pause and then let her go. “You a friend of Taker's?” He asked curiously.  She looked way too cheerful and friendly to even know Calaway; she had a pulse so that wasn't in her favor either.


“Of course not, though we do know each other.” Her voice remained calm and sweet as honey, her deep blue eyes shining even through the darkness of the staircase. “He'll know who I am, trust me.”


She gently but firmly pulled her arm out of his grasp, wondering what a man of his size was doing working as a receptionist in a funeral home.  She continued heading down the stairs and finally landed on cold concrete, stopping.  There he was standing over an embalming table with what looked like a fresh body lying on top of it, a single light shining down on it.


“Orton, unless the windows are sparkling, there had better be a very good reason for the interruption.” Mark said coldly, not looking up from what he was doing. “Because if there isn't, I will embalm you next.” When he didn't get a response, he looked up, his green eyes narrowed and slightly venomous.  Recognition flickered through them a second later. “Madisyn.” He said quietly, glancing down at the body and then back at her. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”


“Hello again, Mark.” She softly greeted, walking toward him without any fear, no hesitation in her footing, knowing he wouldn't hurt her. “I'm back in town and figured I'd pop in to see how the business is doing.” Madisyn said nonchalantly, the dead body not fazing her in the slightest, that smile still on her face and it was surprisingly genuine. “Being half owner of this company allows me to do that, am I right?” Her voice was soft, no malice or cruelty in it and chuckled when the man behind them dropped his jaw. “You can leave us alone now.”


Mark's stare turned cold once more as he looked past her to his current on-the-clock lackey. “Don't you have windows to get too?”


“Sure, boss.” Randy replied, giving the other man a calculating look before smiling at Madisyn.  He winked at her before heading back upstairs.  Fuck the damn windows.


If it weren't for the fact that Randy was strong as an ox and able to do a lot of heavy lifting with minimal complaint, Mark would have probably embalmed him by now. “Business is always doing, people are always dying.” He said as if Orton had never happened.


“Of course, of course.” Madisyn sighed gently, the smile finally disappearing from her face, lowering her eyes to the floor. “You already know what's happened, so I need to make arrangements.” She was a headstrong, classy woman, but right now Madisyn felt vulnerable because her father's impending death had definitely taken a toll on her. 


Jack had requested Madisyn to take him to Los Angeles for treatment, leaving Priscilla back in Houston with the house and whatnot.  Madisyn had called Priscilla to let her know that Jack wasn't doing very well during the day and Madisyn had ignored it because of her job.  She was a photographer on top of being half owner of a funeral home, having taken most of the pictures that adorned the walls of this place. 


Jack had died before she made it back to their three bedroom suite and his body had been flown back from Los Angeles to Houston, wanting to be buried in the family cemetery.  The Simons had indeed been of huge value to Houston, Jack had been the most profound undertaker and actually trained Mark before handing the business over to his daughter after he fell ill, making her promise to allow Mark to own half of C & S.  She couldn't refuse and didn't fight it, knowing how hard Mark had worked with her father and how close they were; even though she knew Mark would never admit that.


Mark was fully aware of the reason as to why she was there, he just had a sick sense of humor and found tormenting people -even her- a tad funny. “Randy will walk you through the trimmings.” He said flatly, knowing Madisyn was fully capable of picking a coffin, the interior, a tombstone and all that without help from the moron.  He was the one who had the task of handling the body, knowing that it was in the process of being transported there to the funeral home.


“I don't need to be walked through anything, I know this business and I was just informing you, being as we're partners, but I can see that was a mistake.” Madisyn had always been up front with Mark about how she felt, though never once had she yelled or lost her temper.  Her voice remained soft and calm, the smile returning to her face. “I think we should find a new receptionist so I'll put an ad in the paper because that guy upstairs, he doesn't know how to treat customers.” She turned and began walking up the stairs away from him.


Apparently she had overheard Randy's favorite greeting of 'you stab them, we slab them', which Mark found a bit amusing if not completely unprofessional.  He glanced back at the body he had been finishing and then towards Madisyn's retreating figure.  Her father had just died and he did not know what to say.  Comforting people wasn't his strong point; he usually didn't care enough.  Sighing, he got back to finishing his task, knowing he couldn't just let it wait.


Randy was not running the front anymore; he was at the back door, carefully carrying in a new display.  The display was actually a coffin, and it was heavier than hell.  He had removed his shirt, knowing he was sweating like crazy.


Madisyn blinked when she didn't see anyone at the receptionist desk, the phone ringing off the hook.  Sighing, she sat down at the chair and immediately answered the phone, taking down orders for new caskets, flowers and whatnot.  Her father had shown her everything there was to know about the business, including embalming, though Madisyn couldn't stomach it yet.  She would find a way though, knowing this was her future.  She hung up just as the man Mark called Orton walked in, sweating from head to toe, and immediately stood up.


“Excuse me, but may I ask why you're not answering the phones?” She asked in a polite but firm tone of voice.


“Because a coffin Taker ordered was delivered and I had to sign and then carry it in since the morons in the truck refused to cart it in; and Taker finds it amusing to torment me by keeping our own cart locked downstairs?” Randy replied somewhat uncouthly, pulling a towel out from underneath the counter and began wiping the sweat off his body. Honestly, it was not his fault the stiff downstairs had never bothered hiring anyone else and he had to run around trying to do everything, whether he was able to or not.

“Excuse me.” He sidestepped her in order to get his shirt and carefully put it back on.  HIs best dress shirt -he was supposed to look 'nice' when running the desk-, he wasn't ruining it because his boss was an ass.


“I'm really sorry about that, but don't worry, things are going to change around here now that I'm back.” Madisyn assured him, frowning, wondering what the hell had gotten into Mark.  He used to love the funeral home and now suddenly he wasn't hiring the proper help and people to make the place run.  Sighing, Madisyn knew she would have a lot of work cut out for her and immediately jotted down a few notes. “Mr. Orton, why don't you take the rest of the day off?  We're closing soon.” She watched as his big blue eyes widened to the size of saucers, touching his chest very gently. “I promise things will get better around here and you will no longer be working the reception area.  I'll come up with other tasks for you to do, but I'll be hiring a new receptionist in a few days.  I'll take over until then, alright?” Her father's funeral was on Saturday, which actually worked out because the funeral home usually wasn't open on weekends.


Apparently God had been looking into utilizing the funeral home's services, seen the suffering and sent this angel because Randy knew there was no way in Hell that Taker had just invited her to waltz in and start changing the place around. “Oh bless you.” He murmured, scooping her up in a quick bone crunching hug before setting her down.


When Orton turned around, he plowed right into Mark's fist, which had just been hovering. “Careful where you're going.” He said in an even tone, his eyes flashing with satisfaction briefly.


Randy was holding his nose, making mental plans for burning this place to the ground.


“Mark!” Madisyn groaned, not believing he just did that to their employee, immediately rushing over to the man with the bleeding nose, holding a towel. “I'm really sorry about that, I have no idea what's gotten into him.  Please, you can have a raise if that's what it'll take for you not to sue us.” Her blue eyes pleaded with him, shooting a glare over her shoulder at Mark, before turning her full attention back at their employee. “Why don't you take the rest of the week off?  You'll be paid for it, I promise.” She smiled, hoping that settled the score, knowing she would most definitely have to have a talk with her partner.


Sue?  Randy wondered what the workplace laws were and cast a dark look at Taker, not surprised when he just got a raised eyebrow.  He'd still prefer to burn the place down. “I wouldn't sue.” He said, wincing when he sneezed into the towel, gently nudging her away so he didn't get her with flecks of blood.


Randy wouldn't sue because then Mark would have to hunt him down and rip the annoying bastard's spleen out.


“May I ask what the hell has gotten into you, Mark?  Hitting an employee is UNCALLED for!  You do realize that this is a business and he could sue us for every dime we're worth right?” She sighed heavily, looking pained because so much change had happened in the span of a day. “Randy, take a week vacation, paid, and when you return, there will be more help here, including a new receptionist if I can find out.  Just go home and get that treated, if you need to go to the hospital, C & S will pay for it, I assure you.” She watched as he simply held the towel to his nose, shaking her head in disbelief at her partner.


Chapter 2


“No, really, I'm fine.” Randy insisted, pulling the towel away, his nose having stopped bleeding.  Gingerly he touched it; it hurt, but he could still breathe through it and it wasn't broken. “Please, don't go through any trouble on my account, Miss?” He stared down at her intently, his blue eyes studying her face.


Mark should have punched him harder.


“Madisyn Simon.” She smiled and extended her hand, blushing a little from embarrassment, his hand practically swallowing hers whole. “I apologize for not introducing myself sooner, Mr. Orton.” She practically beamed when he asked her to call him Randy, nodding. “Very well, as long as you call me Madisyn.  I don't do the formal thing.” She slipped her hand out of his and slowly turned around to face her partner, folding her arms in front of her chest, the smile instantly disappearing from her face. “When you have a minute, we need to talk.” She was completely serious, still not believing Mark's actions against this poor man.


Mark arched an eyebrow, then looked pointedly at Randy who just smiled innocently.  He was going to kill this boy; he was purposefully being irritating. “Take the rest of the day off, Orton.” He ordered gruffly.


“Sure thing, boss.” Randy flashed another grin, revealing all his pearly whites and then turned back to Madisyn. “Thank you Madisyn, it was a pleasure meeting you.” Pretty sure he had just finished annoying Taker, he vacated.  As soon as he was out of the building, the smile faded and his eyes narrowed.


Mark waited patiently, knowing she was more than pissed with him.


Madisyn stared at Mark with disappointment, a frown increasing on her face, wondering what had happened the past two years she was gone. “Do you honestly think that was wise punching an employee in the face, Mark?” She asked softly, furrowing her brows together. “I don't know what's been going on around here or what you've done to this place, but I intend on changing it.  Randy just told me some very interesting things, how he's the ONLY one you've hired to help run this place.  You're a big man who can do a lot of things, but you can't do it all on your own.  So I'm taking action.  I refuse to allow my father's dream to go up in flames, even if it is a funeral home.  So you can do whatever you want, but things are changing around here and you're going to have to deal with it.  Rule number one:  Do NOT hit anymore co-workers unless you enjoy being sued for it.” Living in LA had really put a lot of things in perspective for Madisyn.


Given that they lived in a large city, Mark was usually fairly busy with making sure the bodies were taken care of.  To be honest, he never gave much thought to the other aspects of the business.  He knew how to run a funeral home, but somewhere along the lines, he stopped caring outside of his immediate work.  He had a receptionist, but she had left after a string of children died and they had been the ones who got that 'business'.


“And what's rule number two?” He asked, no traces of humor in his tone.


“You think this is one big joke...” She whispered, tears filling her eyes, knowing she'd been gone for a long time and really had no business coming back now, but her father needed her more. 


He begged and pleaded with her to stay in Houston to run the funeral home, but all Madisyn cared about was her father.  Having nothing more to stay to him, Madisyn immediately walked over and closed the front door, locking it up.  She then proceeded to walk into what used to be her father's office, needing to write out an ad to put in the paper first thing in the morning along with a couple of others for helpers.


Mark considered that.  He didn't find it a joke so much as impossible.  Not many people actually wanted to work in a funeral home.  Orton needed the money or else he would have been doing something, anything, else.  He had made that clear when Mark had hired him.


There was a reason a lot of funeral homes were family businesses. 


The family was trained in handling it, in the actual work, and the emotional aspect that came along with it.  It was the funeral home's job to make death look beautiful, but the people who worked there often knew how ugly it truly was.  And then there was Jack having just died...Mark pinched the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes and exhaled softly.


“What's rule number two?” Madisyn muttered, shaking her head and continued writing out the ad somewhat angrily. 


She sighed and took a few deep breaths, trying to calm down because she wasn't the angry type.  She took action instead, refusing to let her father's funeral home perish.  It was a family business, but times were tough and jobs were hard to come by these days.  Not to mention with Madisyn doing the hiring, people were probably going to be more comfortable working there instead of having a near seven foot monster interviewing and scaring the hell out of them.


“Mark...” She whispered, hating that she lost her temper and stood up to go find him, wanting to make amends.


Mark was staring at the coffin Randy had hauled in, knowing if he had the time, he could have made it better than the company had.  If Madisyn wanted to handle the business aspect and do the hiring, that was fine by him.  He was not a people person, nor was people comfortable around him.  If he hadn't been near seven feet tall and somewhat demonic looking, he would have attributed it to the fact that he willingly handled dead bodies.  Turning around, he literally walked right into Madisyn, watching as she fell back and plopped onto her ass.


“Sorry.” He bent down and gently grabbed her beneath the arms, hoisting her up effortlessly.


Running into Mark felt like running into a pure brick wall.  He was solid muscle and weighed around three hundred pounds, his height making him look even more intimidating. “So am I.” She murmured, feeling his hands lingering on her arms, wanting to make sure she was alright. “I don't want to fight with you, Mark.  I had no right to yell at you like that earlier.” Technically she hadn't, but Madisyn had been stern with him, which saddened her to say the least. “Forgive me?”


“I punched an employee,” He reminded her, checking her for bumps and bruises, absentmindedly turning her around.  He was about to tug up her shirt when he realized what he was doing and stopped reluctantly. “You were right.” It was not often he admitted he was wrong, but Madisyn had just gotten back into town, and the reason for her return was not a happy one.  Even as socially inept as he was, he realized he didn’t have to be such a prick. “How's your ass?”


“It's fine...” Madisyn couldn't help blushing a little as he checked her over, probably more than necessary, but she honestly didn't mind. “Let's just pretend this never happened, okay?”


She reached up and touched his face with her hand, a smile once again lighting her face.  It was almost as if Madisyn was the light to the funeral home while Mark was the dark force that kept it running by making bodies look perfect and doing the nasty job of embalming or cremation.  She sighed and reluctantly pulled away, chewing her bottom lip, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.


“I finished the ad and wanted you to read it, see if I missed anything?”


He nodded, gesturing for her to lead the way and followed, watching her walk.  Purely out of concern, making sure she didn't bruise her tailbone or anything, or at least that was the reason he was going to give her if she noticed.  Glancing at the clock, Mark reached back to let his hair out of the low hanging tail he had had it in, shaking it loose.


Most would have assumed that because of where he worked, he would have been professionally groomed and tailored at all times.  He preferred comfortable.  Black jeans that were tight -he worked around flames occasionally, he didn't like loose clothing- and usually a black beater that hugged his chest as most of his shirts did.  He halted when he realized Madisyn was going into Jack's office.


Madisyn turned around when she didn't feel Mark behind her, frowning slightly. “What's wrong?” When he simply stood there not saying a word, Madisyn walked over and took his hand, gently pulling him with her. “I miss him too.” She whispered, looking up into his unreadable green eyes.  She'd known Mark for many years because her father had mentored him into the business, so they had been fairly close...until Jack was diagnosed with cancer.  Then Mark began shutting himself away from her and it broke Madisyn's heart, though she'd gotten over it. “Come on, we need to look over these ads so I can put them in the paper first thing in the morning.”


Shaking off the sadness that had coursed through him, he followed her into the office, shaking his head when she gestured to one of the seats.  Jack had had them reinforced when he had first taken Mark on as an apprentice and said apprentice had broken three chairs within a week. “Let's see it.” He said, in a voice more gruff than he had intended, accepting the paper when she passed it to him. “You might want to add that this line of work can be disturbing and we're only looking for candidates who can...” He didn't know how to word it without sounding like even more of a jerk. “Can handle it.”


“You have a great point.” Madisyn agreed and immediately added that to the ad, making it look professional yet inviting at the same time. 


She walked over and stood in front of him while he read over the ad, suddenly taking it from him.  With as much strength as she could possess, Madisyn managed to get him to sit down in the chair.  Then, she straddled his lap, knowing he had nowhere to go and wrapped her arms around his neck.


“Now that the business is handled, I need to ask you something.” When he simply raised an eyebrow, Madisyn ran the pad of her thumb across it. “Why did you punch Randy earlier?”


There had to be a reason and she wasn't moving until she got her answer.  Mark kept the eyebrow arched, feeling her now tracing his mustache and goatee, wondering where the hell this had come from.  He tried to imagine if she had ever been in this position with him before, fairly certain she hadn't, and then wondered if he was dreaming.


“He walked into my fist.” He said, his already low voice now possessing a husky tone, almost a low growl.  When she just cocked an eyebrow at him in return, the corners of his lips curved into a smirk and his arms snaked around her waist, tightening until Madisyn was pressed directly against him, their lips inches from each other's.


Her long lashes slowly fanned across her cheeks, her eyes locking with those deep emerald green eyes. “He didn't just walk into your fist and you know it.” Her voice was even softer than before, sounding like an angel's, and her hair placed over her shoulder. “You punched him for a reason, is it because he gave me a hug or something?”


Madisyn couldn't think clearly, though she tried in vain, her hands resting on his broad shoulders now.  Either she was purposefully trying to bait him into confessing a surge of jealousy or was thick in the head.  And her lips were so close to his, when she spoke he could almost feel them.  She didn't really need an answer; she needed to be kissed...he couldn't stop staring at her lips, which were now curved in a bemused sort of smile.  Without thinking twice about it, Mark filled in the gap between them, feeling electricity instantly coursing between them. 


Madisyn reacted on instinct and immediately pulled back as much as his arms would allow her, lowering her head a little.  Mark was...different, not to mention incredibly handsome, but he had a dark persona to him.  Hell anyone who worked in a funeral home full time had darkness to them, even Madisyn, though she didn't show it.


“I can't...” She said barely above a whisper, closing her eyes momentarily and slowly extracted herself from his arms. 


She was trembling slightly from the intensity and knew deep down it was because, ever since Madisyn knew Mark, she'd been completely and irrevocably in love with him.  And he would never know the truth.  She had pulled away from him like he had set her on fire, and not in the good way.  So, that meant the electricity was entirely one sided or his imagination.  Automatically, he let her go and stood up, being careful not to shove her away, instead gently setting her on her feet.


“My apologies.” He said formally, inclining his head to her without actually looking at her, his tone once again changing, coldness creeping into it. “Excuse me.” He sidestepped her and walked out, needing to put as much space between them as possible.


“Mark...” She whispered, the tears instantly sliding down her cheeks, knowing he thought she didn't feel the sparks and electricity as much as he did.  Madisyn had made a promise to herself not to get involved with him, no matter if she was in love with the man or not, because of the business. “Damn it…”


She buried her face in her hands, sinking down into the chair he'd occupied moments ago and silently cried her broken heart out.  How was she going to deal with not following her heart?  Picking up the ads, Madisyn walked out of the funeral parlor, wiping her tears away, suddenly feeling exhausted. 


He was probably too frightening or something, that was the general excuse Mark got once most women got over their initial attraction to him.  Some women went for the whole 'dangerous and deadly' aura he possessed, for a little while at any rate.  When they realized that it was legit and not some act he put on, they began backing off.  Snorting, he headed for the back lot where employees parked, and where the garage to the hearse was.  His Titan was waiting for him, and he had every intention of tearing up some pavement tonight.


Chapter 3


The next few days were hectic for Madisyn to say the least, the funeral home buzzing with new hired help.  Madisyn had called Randy to make sure he was doing alright, smiling when he said she sounded beautiful over the phone.  As handsome as he was, Madisyn only had her eyes for one man and that was her partner, which was off limits. 


So basically she was screwed as far as the romance department went.  She spent countless hours and finally hired three men and a receptionist, their names Nick Clancy, George Wilson, Stephen Myers and Nicole Winters.  She was happy with the candidates and knew they would have to meet her partner, giving them a tour of the place and knocked on the door to the basement before venturing down.


“Now if you'll follow me...Mark?”


“Busy.” He growled, glancing at Randy who did not look too happy to be assisting.  But this was originally Randy's job, Mark's assistant.  Too bad the kid had no taste for this line of work because he was actually fairly good at it.


“Riley...I wouldn't come down.” Randy cautioned, walking over so he was at the foot of the stairwell, staring up at her and then at the newbies. “We have a...”


“Six year old girl, drowning victim.”


“Yeah, that...”


That wasn't pleasant to hear, but Madisyn also had a business to run, taking another step down. “They can handle it, they're going to have to get used to seeing death sooner or later, Randy.”


If he didn't know what was good for him, Madisyn planned on planting her foot square in his ass if he didn't move out of her way.  She was on interviews and he was ruining them, her blue eyes turning to pure ice.  When he hesitantly moved out of her way and went back to help Mark, Madisyn took a few deep calming breaths because the sight she was about to show the potential hires wasn't going to be pleasant.


“If there's anyone here who has the need to leave, do so now.” She ordered evenly and watched as Nicole Winters rushed up the stairs, immediately cancelling her off the hiring list.


If she was hiring help for upstairs, then he saw no reason for her to be bringing them downstairs; that was just cruel. “Randy, finish her lips.” He ordered stiffly. 


Randy, who was in the process of helping with 'detailing', reached for the flesh colored palette of make-up.  Now that Madisyn was running the upstairs show, he was learning how to make six-year olds look like they had never drowned.  He was very glad he had skipped breakfast that morning.  Picking up the tiny make-up brush, he began covering her blue lips.


“That the base?”


“Yes.” He wasn't THAT stupid.  Base color first, then a natural shade.


George Wilson was the next one to bolt upstairs, causing Madisyn to sigh warily, wondering if Mark was purposely trying to scare away the hires.  She wasn't just hiring people for upstairs; it was obvious Mark needed help with downstairs as well so she was planning on hiring a few men to carry coffins and whatnot.  Of course, Mark had barely said two words to her besides barking that he was busy whenever she disrupted him.


“This is Sandy Miller, the little girl who drowned last week at the river.” She said in a monotone voice, glancing over at the little girl and her heart instantly broke, not believing such a tiny life had been taken. “This is where the transformation is done on the bodies before they are transported into a coffin or cremated.  Nick and Stephen, please meet Mark Calaway, a fellow director of the parlor and his assistant, Randy Orton.  Gentleman, this is Nick Clancy and Stephen Myers, who WON'T be working entirely upstairs.” She shot that at Mark before walking away from the table, showing the men the rest of the basement.


Mark turned to face the two men, who froze from following Madisyn, when they caught his steely expression, his upper lip curving a fraction. “The ONLY help I want down here is when something is being carried up or down.  I do not want nor need help with my work.  That is what he-” He pointed at Randy. “Is now being trained for.”


Randy smiled at the two men, really hating being put on the spot.  The perk to all this was, he had gotten a pay raise.  He was pretty sure that was thanks to Madisyn.


“Very well, have it your way.” Madisyn smiled, but the anger was clear in her blue eyes as she guided the men back toward the stairs. “We'll mostly need help upstairs and whenever items need to be carried up.  Let's face it; EVERYONE needs help sooner or later, especially around here.”


She chuckled ruefully when they simply smiled tentatively at her, walking back upstairs, having worn a simple black pencil skirt with black heels and a white cotton short sleeved shirt that was V shaped, wanting to look professional.  Her honey blonde hair was currently pulled up in a clip on top of her head, a few strands framing her face.  Once they were back upstairs and inside her office, which used to be her father's, Madisyn finally turned to face them.


“So any questions, comments, concerns?”


“Is he...always so friendly?” Nick asked, sharing a look with Stephen.


Stephen had been wondering the same thing.  He didn't mind working in the funeral home, but the undertaker was...not people-friendly, if first impressions were anything to go by.




They both jumped when the man in question's voice actually reached them from below.




Stephen actually felt bad for Madisyn.


Madisyn pinched the bridge of her nose, feeling a tension headache surfacing and couldn't believe they'd actually heard Mark all the way upstairs. “No he's not friendly at all, but he is a professional and will act accordingly.  So if you want the jobs, you will fill out these forms on my desks.  If not, then thank you for coming to check it out.” Madisyn didn't have any luck with the interviews and it didn't help with Mark bellowing and being such a damn bear all the time.  This partnership definitely needed some tweaking. “If you want, I'll give you twenty-four hours to decide, but no more than that, deal?”


“That's perfect, thank you, Miss Simon.” Nick said, reaching out to shake her hand before picking up a copy of the forms.  While he wouldn't mind working with her, she was nice and very easy on the eyes, he was fairly certain she was just banging her head against a brick wall when it came to her partner.


Stephen followed suit, shaking her hand and taking the forms, still debating if he would fill them out.  The job offer was a good one, but...He wasn't entirely sure about actually working on dead little girls.


Randy came up the stairs as the two men were leaving, surprised to see they hadn't run for the hills. “Think they'll be back, boss?” He asked her curiously.


“I don't know.”


Madisyn slumped into her chair and put her head in her hands, scrubbing them down her face, ignoring the fact she'd just taken some of her makeup off.  She'd barely slept in the past few days since being back, having done countless interviews and so far she'd come up with absolutely nobody who would work for C & S.  This wasn't good; if they couldn't get helpers then the company would flounder because there was no way Mark and Randy could do all of the work that was required alone.


“I need a drink.” She stated, wishing it was closing time so she could go home and down a bottle of very heavy liquor.


“Mark used to keep a bottle behind the counter if you don't mind whiskey.” Randy offered cordially. 


She looked like she needed a drink; in fact…he needed a drink.  Mark's idea of breaking him into the actual undertaker business had left him a little shaken.  Randy wondered how the man could be so casual and clinical about it, that girl had been so young and hardly started her life, which was now over.


“You know what, boss; I think I'm pouring myself one.  I'll get you one too.  A shot won't hurt anybody.” They could fire him for drinking on the clock or not.  He did suffer a lot of emotional trauma working with Mark and whatnot.


“There is no drinking on the job, Orton.” Madisyn stated evenly and picked the bottle up from behind the counter, having stood up to retrieve it, already unscrewing the cap. “If I catch you drinking, you will be fired on the spot and don't think you can't be replaced.” As big of a bitch as she was being right now, Madisyn honestly didn't care because she had a pounding headache and couldn't allow her employees to drink while clocked in.  No way in hell was that happening. “If you want to clock out and go to a bar or something, suit yourself, but this,” She held the bottle up. “Is going down the drain.” She walked past him and headed for the kitchen, heels clicking violently against the floor.


“I wouldn't do that, boss.  He'll get pretty pissed off; he keeps that around for hysterical people.” Randy cautioned, following her. 


Not to mention every now and again, Randy had seen Mark take a long drink as if fortifying himself, though whatever he needed to fortify himself against was beyond him.  The man was emotionally constipated, nothing got through those walls.  Now that he thought about it, Madisyn was pretty bitchy lately, not that he overly blamed her.  And he didn't mind her being bitchy with him, because it was a lot better than Mark being pissed off.


“You honestly think I care if he gets pissed off?  The man is pissed off twenty four hours, seven days a week.  There will be no liquor in my funeral home.” She growled, daring him to stop her and watched as Randy backed up, throwing his hands up, her blue eyes still iced over as she headed into the kitchen. 


Madisyn walked over to the sink and ran the water, dumping the whole bottle of whiskey down the drain without blinking an eye.  If Mark had a problem with it, he could come to her, but Madisyn would get her way regardless.  So if he was smart, he would save himself the trouble and just let her do what she wanted because this wasn't just his funeral home anymore.  She was co-owner, thanks to Jack.


Mark had come up and witnessed the entire thing, not revealing anything on his face, especially when Randy turned and let out a yelp of surprise.


“I don't know, could you...maybe wear bells or something?” Randy demanded, rubbing his chest and then glanced back at Madisyn. “Hey, I tried to stop her.”


Stopping Madisyn was like stopping death, pointless.  One could only skirt around it for so long and then died.  He usually applied the same principal with her. “That's alright.” He said after a moment. “I was thinking maybe we'd start using brandy.”


“Yeah...probably a good idea, after that incident with Mr. Thomas...”


“I'm going to make this crystal clear to both of you right now, you don't call the shots around here anymore because guess what?  Newsflash asshole, you have ME, your partner, to deal with and discuss these matters.  I'm not having liquor in a funeral home; I don't care how hysterical the people are.” Madisyn growled angrily, dropping the bottle of whiskey into the trashcan and folded her arms in front of her chest, glaring at Mark. “You deal with downstairs like you wanted and let me handle upstairs since you can't seem to keep that big fucking trap shut whenever I'm TRYING to hire help for your sorry ass!” She was pissed and it showed, her jaw clenched tightly, wanting to wring his neck for scaring off the potential hires. “No liquor and, if you don't like it, tough shit.”


“Funny how that partners thing works out, Madisyn.” Mark said calmly, letting her be the one to get riled up, his green eyes sparking with obvious amusement at her expense. “You do not call the shots either.  It's a mutual decision and, until a mutual decision is met, stop touching my liquor.  When there is a screaming mother clutching to a coffin during a funeral, other than knocking her out, a bit of tea with a shot of something in it is how I calm them down.  Unless you got healing powers from god and a magic touch that can do the same, tough shit.”


Randy could only stare back and forth between them, blue eyes wide.


“This is a BUSINESS and it's very unprofessional to have liquor stashed for the customers.” Madisyn wanted to kill him and closed her eyes, holding her hands up, taking a few deep breaths to calm down. “I am not discussing this with you anymore, partner.  Keep the liquor out of here or I will keep dumping it out.  End of discussion, good night.” She stormed past him and went back into her father's office, daring him to follow her because she would end up hurling something very heavy and sharp at him if he did.  The man didn't know how to run a business and that's why it'd gone to hell since she left to be with her father in LA. “What have you done, daddy?” She whispered, already feeling tears sting her eyes, knowing his funeral was two days away.


“When you come in the morning Randy, bring a bottle of bourbon.” Mark ordered, pressing a bill into the other man's hand.


“Uh, what about Madisyn?”


“It's only unprofessional to keep liquor around if we're allowing the bereaved to get drunk, which we don't.  Sometimes the preacher can calm people down, other times...”


“An old-fashioned remedy?” Randy suggested, stuffing the bill in his pocket. “Um, if she finds out, she'll fire me.”


“She can't just fire you without my signature on the paper, just like I can't fire you without hers.”


That was actually really good to know, Randy thought, smirking slightly.


After filling out some more paperwork and noticing it was going on close to ten o'clock, Madisyn decided to call it a night.  She packed up her laptop along with everything else, filing paperwork properly instead of leaving it strewn everywhere.  She definitely made things more organized around here that was for sure, but there was still a lot of work to be done.  Closing the door to her father's office, Madisyn ran her fingertips over the door briefly before walking down the hallway, having her keys in hand.  She was ready to go home, soak in a tub and drink half a bottle of hard liquor, not knowing which kind yet.


Mark was sitting behind the front desk, having locked up awhile ago.  He was shirtless, his work shirt currently soaking in the kitchen sink, and sipping a beer from his stash downstairs in the basement.  He had noticed the improvement in how the business was being handled, on the business end. 


And while he was not exactly people friendly, he was still the best damn undertaker on this side of the city.  During funerals, his emotional detachment came in handy as he could actually deal with the grieving friends and family without falling into sadness.  Madisyn was under the impression the business had been sinking, and while he could have definitely managed the books better, as long as people were would always be good.


“Leaving?” He asked when she walked right by him, having already shut off the lights in the front parlor.


“Goddamn it!” She cursed, freezing because she didn't even see him in the darkness, running a hand through her now loosely curled hair, having taken it down from the clip.  Her heart was slowly dislodging from her throat as Madisyn took a few deep breaths to slow it down. “You really do need to wear some bells.” She stated flatly, watching as he switched a lamp on that had dimmed lighting, but it was enough for her to tell he was completely shirtless. ‘Give me strength.’ She thought, needing to learn how to breathe again because the sight of him took her breath nearly away. “I'll be here early in the morning to set up for my father's funeral.” She informed him, trying not to sound sad by it, but he was her father after all.


“It'll be set up before I leave tonight.  All that'll need done tomorrow is bringing him up.” Mark said softly, knowing tomorrow would be extremely hard on her. No doubt she'd refuse the offering of tea and brandy. “All you have to do tomorrow is just be there. No one expects anything else of you.” It was her father's funeral, even Randy was aware of that and had promised to not screw anything up or else there would be double signatures on that dismissal paper. “Any luck with those boys you interviewed?”


“I'll know by tomorrow hopefully, I told them they have twenty-four hours to get back to me.  I gave them the option, we'll see if they take it.  You really do make really bad first impressions on people, Mark.” She commented, folding her arms in front of her chest, trying to get her mind on something else besides having to bury her father tomorrow.


Chapter 4


“I'll stay and help you set up; I don't feel right leaving you to do all the work.” Sighing and knowing it would be several more hours before she could get home, Madisyn began walking back down the hallway, leaving Mark to sit there shirtless looking delicious.


Wondering why that damn fool woman insisted on helping him with things he didn't need or want her help with, he drained the rest of his beer and stood up, following her.  He reached out to grab her shoulder, turning her back around to face him. “You are dead on your feet and your father's funeral is tomorrow, Madisyn.” He said gravely. “Go home and get some sleep.  It doesn't take me very long to set up.” He had been doing this for quite some time and generally worked best when he didn't have someone underfoot. “Madisyn, go home, you're exhausted.” He murmured, his hand moving to cup her face.


Madisyn had stayed strong through the whole planning her father's funeral and making sure everything was perfect, not shedding a single tear.  She'd had her mind on other things, like hiring people to help out with the funeral home and trying to get revenue flowing again.  Now she was standing there, too exhausted to really even move, with the man she'd been in love with since he started working for Jack and suddenly Madisyn couldn't contain her emotions any longer. 


Closing her eyes, huge tears slid down her cheeks silently, the realization finally crashing around her that her father was gone and she would never see him again.  She was a strong, bull-headed, stubborn woman who always got what she wanted and could go toe to toe with the meanest person on the planet and probably win.  But right now, Madisyn just had to let the tears flow and let her walls down a little because it was exhausting to keep them up constantly, especially when it came to Mark.


Gently, Mark pulled Madisyn slowly into his arms, knowing that the realization of what was happening -that tomorrow she would bury her father- was crashing down over her.  She had been busying herself with working and trying to hire more people on for the parlor, trying to make the business functional again, and now she couldn't hide behind it.  He had seen this many times before, people hiding behind distractions until reality refused to be put off any longer.  But this wasn't people...this was Madisyn.  Not saying anything, he rubbed her back soothingly, feeling her body shaking with her sobbing against him.


“I can't go home.” She whispered against him, trembling from head to toe, feeling cold even with how close Mark held her. 


Helping out with her father's set up would distract Madisyn and Mark wasn't giving her what she wanted.  This man was hurting just as much as she was from the loss of Jack, Madisyn knew it because she could see the pain in his eyes whenever Jack was mentioned or brought up.  She'd done it a few times over the past few days since returning and Mark had always made some excuse to walk away from her so she wouldn't see the pain.


“Please...” Madisyn couldn't even get the words out, her tears soaking the front of his bare chest, arms wrapped around his waist as far as they would go.  Mark was not a small man by any means.


Looking down at the top of her head, he ran a hand up to her neck and gently squeezed. “Alright, you can help.” He finally caved, knowing she wasn't going to leave.  After a moment, he gently pushed her away, holding her at arm's length and stared down at her. Letting go of her, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, using it to softly wipe her face clear of the tears, tracing his thumb over her cheek. “You'll get through this Madisyn.” He promised thickly.


“I know I will and I know I shouldn't be crying, but he was my dad.  He took care of me and I couldn't do the same for him.  I wasn't there for him...when he needed me the most...”


The guilt ate her alive ever since he took his last breath without her being there, knowing he died completely alone.  Jack and Madisyn never really got along, but one thing was certain, they were family and stuck together when times became rough.  And there were definitely rough times in the Simon family, especially surrounded by death.  Slowly pulling away from Mark, Madisyn wiped the rest of her tears away hastily, knowing it was pointless dwelling on the past, sniffling a little.


“Sorry...” She mumbled, taking a couple deep breaths to calm down and knew there was work to be done for the preparations.


Mark had absolutely no idea what to set her to doing.  He would handle setting up the casket, and the body would stay downstairs where it was cold, until tomorrow before the funeral.  There were seats to set up, as well as general cleaning, a lot of mundane work that would not distract her for very long, if at all.  It was work that required no brain power.


“Do you want to come see him?” He asked suddenly, glancing down at her. “Before tomorrow, before I put him in the coffin?”


“No, the visitation will be open casket so I'll see him tomorrow.” Madisyn quietly said, appreciating Mark's offer, but she didn't want to spend quality time with her father's corpse. 


That was just too morbid, Madisyn did have her limitations and began setting chairs up in the main room.  She'd already called Priscilla, who promised to be there and reminded Madisyn of the luncheon tomorrow after the visitation was over.  Sighing and trying to get her mind on something else, Madisyn began taking the flower arrangements and setting them up accordingly, knowing Jack would've been proud of her.


Leaving her to it, he walked over to the wall and pressed a 'hidden' panel, letting it revolve until the audio/entertainment system had spun around, pressing play on the CD that was currently in.  It was a blues mix that he liked to listen while working.  He glanced at Madisyn before heading to the backroom off of the kitchen.  He would bring out the coffin, set it up, polished and arranged so in the morning he could fit Jack inside of it.  He blinked once, refusing to allow anything to distract him, especially the thought of burying the man he had admired.


Once the chairs and flowers were exactly how she wanted them, Madisyn began looking over the cards that would be handed out to everyone, running her fingertips over her father's picture.  She was the spitting image of him with the honey blonde hair and blue eyes, not having a lot of traits from her mother.  It was all Jack, there was no mistaking she was his daughter the moment Madisyn was brought into the world.  It was funny and sad all at once how quickly life passed one by and how it could end within the blink of an eye.


“See you tomorrow, Dad.” She whispered, standing up and looked around the room, nodding her approval just as Mark came inside with the beautiful black onyx coffin that had a pure silk silver lining.


The coffin was not light, and he was grateful that she kept out of the way, easing it onto the stand where it would rest. “Beautiful coffin.” He complimented, knowing she had picked it out.  It wasn't a cheap one either.  She had spared no expense on her father's funeral and he wondered if that was because she wanted the best or guilt for not being there during Jack’s final moments on this earth. “Looks good in here.” He added, studying her thoughtfully.


“Thank you, I think it does too.” She ran her fingertips over the coffin and nodded, lifting it to make sure not a stitch was out of place. 


Madisyn was a perfectionist when it came to her job, no matter what she did whether it was photography or running a funeral home, finally satisfied.  She slipped something out of her pocket and studied it before pressing her lips to it, opening the basket and placed it in there beneath the pillow.  It was a picture of Madisyn sitting on her father's lap when she was a little girl, both of them grinning from ear to ear, eyes sparkling with life.


“Walk me out to my car?” She didn't wait for Mark to respond and walked away from him to grab her purse, knowing when she got home she would cry more.


It never failed to amuse him just how confident she apparently was that he would follow her and he did.  Mostly because Mark wanted to make sure she actually made it to her car without having a breakdown or something.  He caught up with her before she hit the door, reaching out to gently grab her elbow.


“Do you want me to drive you home, Madisyn?” He asked softly.


Madisyn was asking for trouble as she stared up in his green eyes, swallowing hard, not sure if she should let him or not. “You'd do that?”


She tilted her head slightly when he nodded, deciding it would probably be wise considering how tired she was.  Handing over the keys, Madisyn felt a bolt of electricity rush up her arm as soon as their fingers brushed together, just that one brush lighting her body on fire.  And to make matter worse, the man was STILL shirtless, his delicious bare chest just begging to be touched, but Madisyn knew that could and would never happen.  The kiss they shared had been a relapse in judgment; Madisyn was too uptight and high-strung for Mark, who seemed to be calm as a cucumber unless something really angered him.


He saw no reason to put on a shirt.  Mark wasn't cold, he wasn't planning on actually getting out of the car anywhere except at her place, from which he could call a cab to take him back.  He lived in the loft over the parlor, the funeral home was a large house, as many were, complete with kitchens and all the rest. 


Upstairs was his domain, something he had taken over when Jack had hired him.


He had cleared it out and made it hospitable.  Then, stroking his mustache thoughtfully, he wondered if maybe he shouldn't have just offered to let her crash in his bed.  At that thought, something extremely pleasant rolled through him, his green eyes narrowing slightly.


“You can take my car back here when you drop me off; I have another vehicle to take tomorrow.” She informed him, seeing the thoughtful look in his green eyes and brushed it off before heading out the front door of the parlor. 


The crisp wind blew through her hair, the smell of mangos wafting in the air and hitting Mark directly in the face.  Madisyn was completely oblivious and headed toward the car, running a hand through her hair to get some of the snarls out, looking toward the cemetery the funeral parlor was next to, where her father would be buried six feet under the day after tomorrow.  Sighing, Madisyn turned away from it while Mark unlocked the car and slid into the passenger seat, buckling up while he took the wheel, hoping he could fit in her dark blue Lexus.


He had to push her seat back all the way, and even then it was still a fairly tight fit.  What the hell was with women and driving such small cars anyway?  Give him a motorcycle or an SUV any day of the week.  The image of Madisyn on a motorcycle, in one of her skirt suits, the skirt drawn up over her legs, her honey blonde hair loose and streaming with the wind, her smalls hands wrapped around...and where did that come from?  Shaking his head to clear out the images that had been insinuating themselves, he pulled out of the parking lot.


The drive to Madisyn's condo was made in silence with the exception of her telling Mark where to turn.  It wasn't far from the funeral parlor if one drove, but walking distance it would've taken forever to get there.  Madisyn sighed with relief when they finally pulled up to the condo, unbuckling her seatbelt and grabbed her purse from the floorboard.


“I'll see you tomorrow, thanks for the ride home.  Try to get some rest, Mark.” She knew that was pointless to say, but Madisyn often worried about him living in the funeral home by himself, wondering if it was too much death to be surrounded by.


He heard the worry in her tone and smiled slightly, the light from the dashboard barely illuminating it.  Most people questioned him living over the funeral parlor, but truth be told, he didn't mind it.  For one, it was quiet, dead people didn't make a racket.  Secondly, it allowed him to sleep a bit later since he didn't have to drive to work, and he did like to sleep in when he could.


“You get some rest, Madisyn.” He said, knowing she was the one likely to have the sleepless night.  When she gave him a look, his smile widened. “I could always help you sleep.” He offered somewhat seductively.


Raising a slow eyebrow at that, Madisyn's curiosity peaked as she turned to face him fully. “How?”


She regretted that popping out of her mouth instantly as soon as it did, but Madisyn wasn't leaving the car without getting an answer.  He looked amazing completely shirtless and Madisyn wondered how the hell he acquired the body he had, then thought back to when he carried the casket inside the room her father's visitation would be.  Whatever the reasoning, Madisyn was thankful for it, tilting her head slightly awaiting his answer.


Mark had to wonder just what she was thinking.  Was it sexual?  Was it regular, normal curiosity? “Invite me in and find out.” He said softly, issuing a challenge and arched an eyebrow, wondering if she would accept it.  Shifting in the seat so he was facing her directly, he watched as her eyes ran over his torso, purposefully flexing muscles just to watch her eyes dart to them.  She really was a delicious little thing, when she wasn't working at any rate. “Hmm?”


Her stomach clenched when that challenge came out and Madisyn didn't know what to do.  Her heart was screaming at her to do it while her mind was reminding her that having sex with him wouldn't be the best idea, especially since they were business partners.  Still, Madisyn hadn't been touched in such a long time and there wasn't a day that went by she hadn't thought of Mark.  Just because she invited him up didn't mean they'd have sex. 


Madisyn's body flooded with warmth at the thought of having this man in her bed, hovering over her, taking her body for his own... “Okay, come upstairs with me.  I'll wait for you to park the car.” Before he could say another word, Madisyn stepped out, needing to distance herself from Mark and calm her racing heart.


Mark parked the car before sliding out; feeling the night breeze caressing his bare upper body and turned to look at her thoughtfully, wondering what was going on behind those large beautiful blue eyes.  With deliberate steps, he walked over to her and waited patiently for her to lead the way upstairs, maintaining a semblance of distance between them. “You look flushed.” He commented, bending down so his nose almost touched hers, studying her face carefully by the dim light the building provided.


Madisyn was more than flushed, she was burning up and knew it wasn't from an incoming fever  It didn't help he was this close to her, making her head fuzzy; though that could've been exhaustion or so Madisyn convinced herself of. “I'm fine.” She said distractedly, finding the key to her suite and turned away from him to walk down the hallway, stopping outside the door to unlock it.  Stepping inside, Madisyn tossed her keys on the table and slipped her shoes off, the condo decorated to her liking in different shades of brown, black and white with colorful trinkets and pictures to accent it. “Make yourself at home.” She stated and slipped her heels off, her feet aching from them.


Out of respect for her very nice, clean carpets, he did remove his shoes, wondering how much more comfortable he could make himself.  He was already half naked, without even having seen the bedroom.  His eyes roamed the walls, taking in the colors, and the decor.  It almost seemed...he didn't know, shaking his head.


“Get out of your work clothes.” He instructed, feeling almost too large even though the condo was spacious; it was just a new location for him and a lot of little things that were miniscule when scaled by him.


“What?” Madisyn blinked, feeling her mouth suddenly go dry at the look in his eyes, trying to maintain her composure.


Did he just demand her to get out of her clothes? 


What made him think sex, which was a physical activity, would make her sleep well? 


Chapter 5


At least Madisyn wasn't alone, which is why she had taken Mark up on his offer.  She just didn't want to be alone tonight, not after setting up her own father's visitation.  How many daughters in the world could say that?  Turning around, Madisyn began walking down the hallway toward her room, wondering exactly what Mark had in mind.


He was wondering what the hell she had in mind, with that look she had given him.  Yes, he was a man, but that did not automatically stick him in the 'only interested in sex' category most men were usually placed in.  All he had said was 'get out of your work clothes', they honestly could not be that damn comfortable.  Didn't women wear pajamas bottoms and tee shirts with cartoon characters or something on them?  Shaking his head, he walked over to look at some pictures on her wall, reaching back to unbraid his hair.


Surprised that Mark hadn't followed her, Madisyn began chuckling ruefully, shaking her head.  Of course he wasn't interested in sex!  What the hell had she been thinking inviting him up?  The man was gorgeous and dangerous in a very sexy way, why the hell would he be interested in someone as plain as her? 


Sighing, Madisyn slipped her skirt and shirt off, slipping a simple royal blue nightgown on that was spaghetti strapped and went to her knees.  It hid all the important parts of her body and leaving plenty to the imagination.  She brushed her hair out and finally stepped out of her room, seeing Mark looking at her pictures with a slight smile.


“You're right, this does feel better.” She said, gaining his attention and walked past him to the kitchen for some water.


Oh sure, for her it felt better; for him...his slacks were no longer appropriate for him to wear and he had to actually think about her dead father, in the basement of the funeral parlor, in order to get rid of the erection that had threatened to make him do very bad things to her.  Women did not play fairly, especially ones who wore nightgowns that clung to their curves and Madisyn definitely had curves.  He eased himself on her couch, waiting until she had finished her water before patting the seat beside him.


“Sweet Jesus...” He muttered, raking a hand through his black hair, wondering if he had lost his mind. 


Smiling tentatively, Madisyn joined him on the couch, sitting beside him, one leg curled beneath her while the other dangled, leaning her head back against the couch, looking over at Mark.  What was she supposed to say to him?  Why had he even thrown the gauntlet out to her?  Mark was a very confusing man indeed, but that didn't stop Madisyn from wanting him secretly in every single way.


“Thank you for letting me help with setting up tonight.” She finally said, breaking the silence between him, staring straight ahead and clasped her hands in her lap.


“You would have made my life hell for a week if I hadn't.” He replied dismissively, ignoring the spark of irritation that crossed her face, reaching out to push her hair back over her shoulder, feeling the silken strands wrapping around his fingers. “Now, turn around.”


She was so damn tense, was he honestly that hard to relax around?  He knew the honest answer was yes, but he hadn't done anything to her yet to give her cause to be worried or anxious.  When Madisyn hesitated, he physically lifted her and turned her, without getting off the couch himself, smirking with amusement.


“Relax.” He ordered, his hands moving to cup her throat, feeling how fast her pulse was going before sliding them to rest on her shoulders.




That's exactly what this felt like.  Madisyn was sure of it and couldn't help relaxing under his strong warm calloused hands.  They felt incredible, almost perfect and Madisyn slowly dropped her head forward, closing her eyes to relish the feeling of him touching her.


“You're right, I would've.” She chuckled softly; it was scary how well Mark knew her sometimes.  Why he was doing this was beyond her, but Madisyn was grateful for it, biting back a hiss when he hit a sore spot.  Slowly, her body turned to mush against him, relaxing like he requested. “Mmm this feels good...” She couldn't help whispering, letting him know he was doing the job in relaxing her.


“I would hope so.” He rumbled, his mouth right next to her ear.


He traced a large finger down her spine before following with his hands, one after the other, moving to caress her sides, feeling her leaning back into him.  It would have been very easy to skim his hands everywhere else and probably get away with it, but that would have been him taking advantage the night before her father was buried.  He was a bastard, yes, but not that big of a bastard.


“It's easier to sleep when you're relaxed.” He murmured, knowing he himself would be getting very little sleep tonight.


Madisyn moved her hair to drape over one shoulder, giving him better access, not in the mood to have her hair pulled.  That would totally ruin the moment and that's the last thing she wanted to happen.  She nodded at what he said about sleeping better being relaxed, wondering what she could do for him in order to pay him back for this incredible rubdown.


“I don't...” She trailed off, not sure how she wanted to word this, a moan escaping her when he hit a spot in her lower back before moving up again. “Stay with me tonight, Mark.” Madisyn finally whispered, slowly peaking at him over her shoulder, blue eyes pleading. “I don't want to be alone.”


He arched one eyebrow down at her, wondering if he would be able to do that without taking advantage of her vulnerability.  Seeing the pleading in her eyes, Mark nodded, inwardly steeling himself for what promised to be a long night. “Alright.” He said, bending down to kiss the top of her head. “Now turn back around and give me your legs.” He almost smirked; he had always admired her toned legs and wasn't about to pass up a chance to ogle them further.


Doing as he said, Madisyn sat there while he ran his hands up and down her legs, kneading the flesh, glad she shaved that morning.  Her legs were smooth as silk, using a special expensive lotion to keep them that way and they had a perfect tan to them thanks to the LA sun.  Granted, she was born and raised in Texas so she already had a natural tan to her, but LA had been kind to her minus losing her father.  Madisyn began admiring the artwork on Mark's arms, seeing he'd gotten some new ink while she was away for the past three years and slowly reaching out to run her fingertips over his demon tattoo, which was one of her favorites.


Not stopping his ministrations on her legs, he bent forward so she could trace his tattoos, watching curiously as she examined some of the more recent additions. “Ever considered gettin' one yourself?” Mark asked curiously, shifting and taking her other leg, bringing it up onto his lap.  He then wondered if maybe she might have already had one.  LA had no shortage of tattoo parlors and he wondered just what kind of tattoo Madisyn would get, but more importantly...where.


“I actually got one while I was in LA.” She admitted openly and chewed her lip when he asked where, her body burning at the look that smoldered in his green eyes. “Let my legs go and I'll show you.”


When he did it reluctantly, Madisyn stood up and propped one leg up on the couch, sliding her nightgown up, knowing this was probably treading on dangerous ground, but wanted to show him her artwork.  It was on her right hip, a modest size for her tiny frame and it was her horoscope symbol of the crab with the moon the background, the cancer planet, her birthday right in the middle of July.  Madisyn was spiritual and fully believed in horoscopes, her thoughts instantly vanishing when Mark's hand ran up her leg to her thigh, scooting closer to examine it.


Mark studied the artwork, somehow not surprised by her choice; though he was surprised she had showed it to him.  He also discovered her panties matched her nightgown and that was information he probably could have gone without all things considered. “Hellfire...” He groaned huskily, unable to stop himself from pressing his lips to her hip, just where her tattoo was, one hand holding her there and the other moving up the inside of her creamy thigh.  All thoughts of propriety and not taking advantage flew right out the window at that moment.


Madisyn's tattoo felt like it was on fire, her eyes drifting shut at the feeling of his lips brushing against her inked skin.  Her heart felt like it was going explode with how fast it pounded and she didn't have to steady herself because Mark's hand had her thigh firmly in his hand. “I-I think my horoscope matches me perfectly because I am a crab at times and I always love looking up at the moon...” Her voice was shaky and Madisyn tried not to let it, but there were some things even she couldn't control, which both pleased and unnerved her all at the same time.


Mark actually smiled against her warm skin, wondering just how many women out there would have given their reasons behind the tattoo, or talk about their horoscope, while being touched this way.  Only Madisyn, she was definitely one of a kind.  Pulling himself away from her, he stood up, letting her nightgown fall back over her, covering her hip and the tattoo.  He was fairly certain it would not be a good idea for him to stay the night, not even on the couch.  While she might tell him, he might seduce her and change her mind.



“It does suit you.” He said, clearing his throat brusquely. 


“Thank you.” She breathed out, meaning that in more ways than one, but Mark didn't need to know that as she slowly settled beside him on the couch again.  Every part of her simply wanted to reach out and touch him, trying not to flush at the thought even though she was. ‘He doesn't think of you that way.  He just has a weird fetish with tattoos.’ She thought wistfully and didn't dare look at him, instead glancing at the clock and knew she had to be up early for her father's funeral.  Madisyn didn't move though; she simply sat there looking like a complete flustered idiot.


She did look flustered, but not like an idiot.  More like a woman who was busy suppressing thoughts and feelings she shouldn't be thinking or having.  He was having the same issue, though he was much better at hiding it, providing lower parts of his anatomy worked with him.


“You should probably go to bed,” Mark said finally. “Big day tomorrow.”


Mark was mentally rephrasing that sentence to 'you should probably go to bed, alone and now, before I change your mind.’  He was a man; he was thinking about sex, but also thinking about the big picture.  The big picture was: she would despise him come the morning if they had sex.


“You're not staying?” Her voice sounded heartbroken when that question escaped her, turning to face him with big blue eyes. “Mark, I meant what I said.  I don't want to be alone tonight.”


Madisyn reached out and took his hand, slowly standing up from the couch, only for Mark to stay where he was.  She knew he was leaving; it didn't surprise her, though Madisyn had hoped he would stay.  The bed was lonely and cold, she didn't want to feel either of those things the night before her father's funeral, but also wouldn't force Mark to stay either.


He did not think that was a very good idea, him spending the night, but at the same time, he had told her he would and...And he could not resist those big blue eyes.  The woman was honestly going to be the death of him. “I said I would stay.” He said finally, keeping his voice low, calm, carefully modulating his tone. “I just think you should go to bed.” Mark had a feeling he would not be sleeping on the couch, wondering if she really wanted to share a bed with him, especially after what he had just done.


“You're not sleeping on the couch.  You're far too...tall for that and my bed is big enough for both of us.”


She wasn't backing down with this and folded her arms in front of her chest, arching a slow eyebrow.  Did he think something might happen between them if they slept in the same bed together?  It was late and Madisyn didn't want him driving back to the parlor at this time of night.


“Or you can have my bed and I'll sleep on the couch.  So you either sleep in my bed with me or I take the couch, your choice.”


Madisyn was one stubborn woman, he somewhat admired that, somewhat found it annoying. “You are not sleeping on the couch.” He said firmly, reaching out to gently take her wrists and unfold them.


She looked way too much like her father when she had struck that pose and adopted that look.  It had been too easy to see the similarities between Jack and Madisyn.  Yet another kick in the ass that reminded him she was off limits, especially right now.


“Come on, let's go see the bed.” He waved towards the hall, hoping for her furniture’s sake, it was at least a queen sized.


Smiling triumphantly, Madisyn turned around and walked down the hallway, having taken Mark's hand again in case he tried pulling a fast one on her. “This is it.” She announced to no one in particular and walked over to the king sized bed, turning around when Mark just arched an eyebrow, chuckling softly as she sat down on it. “Told you it was big enough.  Close the door please.” She pulled the comforter back and slid into the bed, sleeping on the outside, hoping Mark didn't mind. “Would you stop staring and get into bed already?”


Sure, stop staring and get into bed...the woman was out of her mind.  Come to think of it, Mark was out of HIS mind.  He should be at the funeral home, sleeping, preparing for tomorrow which was bound to be tense and possibly emotional.  Instead, he was preparing to climb into bed with Madisyn and just sleep without anything more happening.  Yes, he had lost his mind.  Grunting, he unbuttoned his pants, arching an eyebrow when she opened her mouth to say something.


“You don't expect me to sleep in them, do you honey?” He drawled amusedly.


Not saying anything, Madisyn rolled over on her side with her back facing him, closing her eyes as she heard the unmistakable sound of clothing sliding from his massive body.  She swallowed hard, feeling her mouth go dry and felt the floor creak as he walked on the other side of the bed, her eyes still closed. “Tell me when I can open my eyes.” She ordered gently, feeling the bed dip and felt his finger gently slide down her face, her eyes slowly fluttering open.


“You could have left them open the entire time, Madisyn.” He informed her in a low voice, staring down at her through the curtain his hair had made around them as he leaned over her. 


He had been wearing boxers beneath the slacks.  Mark preferred commando, but there was something…very wrong about going without underwear when working with dead bodies.  It wasn't something he dwelled on; he just obeyed the impulse to sport the boxers on days he had to work. had both been a smart idea and one he regretted.  If he would've known how the day had ended, Mark definitely would’ve went commando, wanting nothing more than to just take the honey blonde for hours on end.


“I didn't want to make you feel uncomfortable.” She stated with a sweet smile, reaching out to brush his hair away from his face, finally pushing it up to fan over his head and the side of his handsome face. 


So many thoughts ran through her mind, remembering the first time she met Mark, which had been at the funeral home.  From the moment she saw him and heard his voice, Madisyn had instantly fallen for him and made up excuses to go to the funeral home just to see him.  Funny how fast life passed her by, Madisyn could feel the tears welling in her eyes and instantly closed them, knowing tomorrow was going to be a very long day.


“Good night, Mark.” She softly whispered, snuggling further into her pillow.


“Goodnight, Madisyn.” Mark murmured, moving onto his side of the bed, though considering how large he was. 


He would not be surprised in the slightest if they woke up somewhat...tangled or something.  He was accustomed to sleeping alone and sprawled a lot.  This was going to be interesting.  He rolled onto his side, his massive back to her, knowing the best way to not give into temptation was to avoid it, and this was the best he could do.


It was going to be a long night, followed by an even longer day.


Chapter 6


Madisyn was up at the crack of dawn, which only gave her a few hours of sleep, letting Mark sleep.  She just couldn't do it.  Madisyn showered and straightened her honey blonde hair before putting banana curls in it.  She finally began pinning one by one up on top of her head, making it look like a crown of honey locks before doing her makeup.  Natural foundation, thin black eyeliner and clear gloss was all she could do, knowing most of it would wipe away when she cried at the ceremony. 


Staring in the mirror, Madisyn finally turned away from her reflection, taking her dress off of the hanger before slipping it on.  It was a stunning chemise black dress that went to her knees, hanging off the shoulders with three quarter sleeves.  It had a bateau neckline, studded with polished silver tone pyramids that outlined the neckline both front and back along with the hem of her sleeves.  She slid her silver bangle bracelets on, deciding a necklace wouldn't be necessary and stepped out of the bathroom, needing her shoes.


He was sitting upright in the bed, his feet resting on the floor, the sheet draped around his hips.  Yawning and raking a hand through his tousled hair, Mark studied her intently out of semi-drowsy green eyes.  He had woken up when he heard the shower going, wondering what the hell he was doing in someone else's place, and then remembered.  This also explained why he had woken up with his face buried in her pillow after she had vacated it.


“You look gorgeous, darlin'.” He finally said, his voice still husky from sleep.


“Thanks, goddamn it where the hell are they?” Madisyn growled, too distracted in finding her shoes as she looked underneath the bed, rubbing her temples to try to stop the headache from approaching.  Opening her closet roughly, Madisyn began tossing shoes left and right out of it, finally finding them, grumbling. “Stupid things.”


She walked over to the bed and sat down on it, taking a few deep breaths and slid the two inch black heels on that strapped around her ankle and had the pyramid studs that matched the dress.  She stood up and headed to her jewelry box, staring down at the diamond earrings her father gave her, closing her eyes to keep the tears at bay.  Plucking them out, Madisyn slid the simple diamond stud earrings in her ears, closing her jewelry box and jumped when she turned around, bumping into Mark.




“S'okay.” He yawned half-incoherent, stretching one arm over his head and the other hand was busy scratching just over the waistline of his boxers, smirking slightly. “Excuse me.”


He sidestepped her and went into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.  Mark groaned as he began waking up, knowing he needed to get back to the home, get dressed and things set-up, hoping if they were a bit late that Randy would remember what to do.  He also hoped the boy remembered to wear a black suit opposed to the damn blue one he had shown up in last time, growling as he washed his hands before splashing water on his face.  When he stepped back into the bedroom, he bent down to snatch his slacks off the floor.


“Coffee's ready if you want some.  I need to get to the parlor; take my car, I have another one.  Help yourself to anything you want.” Madisyn said all in a rush, having her thermos of coffee and walked out the door before Mark could utter a word, a million things running through her mind. 


There was the visitation and the emotions that went with it, following the funeral, which was all in one day like Jack wanted.  Then there was the dinner Priscilla was having afterwards, which Madisyn wasn't looking forward to attending.  Slipping behind the wheel of her black Mazda, Madisyn took off from the condo and headed toward the parlor, trying to take her mind off of today's festivities.


Oh yes, because he was going to linger while she went on to the home.  Shaking his head, Mark went out to the living room to put on his shoes, snatching the keys to her car off the coffee table.  Coffee would wait.  He would have coffee while getting dressed.  Glad his cell phone was in his pocket, he checked to make sure he still had battery power before calling Randy.


“Yes, I'm on my way.  In fact, I'm turning into the parking lot now.” Randy answered by way of greeting. “And I wore black, and-”


“Get a pot of coffee going, I'm on my way.”


“ slept somewhere besides the home?”


“Yes, at Madisyn's.” Mark hung up.


Randy blanched, blinking at his phone. “Oh that cocksucker...”


Madisyn stopped to grab a guest book, having forgotten to get one before heading to the parlor, knowing it was only eight o'clock.  The visitation didn't start until eleven, but Madisyn wanted to make sure she was there from the moment the first guest walked in and the last one left.  Pulling her Mazda into the parking lot, she stepped out and sighed when it began raining, something that rarely happened in Houston.  Rushing inside, Madisyn unlocked the door and brushed some water off of her shoulders before getting to work, setting up the guest book.


“Start the coffee...” Randy was muttering in the kitchen, having parked in the back and letting himself in the back door, his suit jacket hanging carefully from a peg on the wall, along with his tie.


He wore his black dress slacks, dress shoes and a white dress shirt, which was partially unbuttoned and the sleeves had been rolled up to his elbows.  He still had to help bring up the body, arrange it, and he wasn't doing all that all gussied up.  After getting the urn going -always had to use the urn on these days, for the funeral goers to help themselves too-, he walked out into the actual parlor, taking in how everything was set up.


“Oh, hey Madisyn.” He greeted when he spotted her setting out the guest book, knowing this was her father that was being buried today.


“Good morning, Randy She greeted quietly, staring at a picture of her father that was set up along with the guest book, clearing her throat. “Mark should be here momentarily to help with...the final arrangements.”


She walked away from him, just needing to keep moving as she went to look over the flowers, wanting everything to be perfect for her father.  The door opening signaled Mark's arrival, though Madisyn was too busy trying to get the CD player to work, finally nodding when it cooperated, and sounds of sad gentle music flowing through the place.  Not saying a word to Mark, Madisyn walked past him, not wanting to talk to anyone right now and hoped they simply set up without asking if she was alright, if she needed anything, being completely professional.


“I'm going to get dressed and then we'll bring the body up.” Mark said as he bypassed Randy, heading straight for the kitchen, hearing the other man's footsteps behind him and knew he was being followed.


“Why aren't you wearing a shirt?”


“Are you paid to ask me idiotic questions?”


“Yes, actually.”


Once her father was settled in his casket and set up to Madisyn's approval, the family members began arriving one by one.  She thanked each one of them for coming, even accepting hugs and hearing the condolences for her loss. “Thank you for coming.” She kept saying repeatedly, robotically, just trying to stay strong enough until the actual ceremony began.  When her grandmother hugged her close, Madisyn finally let a tear fall, wiping it away before guiding the older woman to her seat, shaking hands with the next person.  Madisyn finally walked inside the room her father lay resting and walked up the aisle before taking her seat in the front, crossing one leg over the other, just needing a moment to herself.


Randy stood in the kitchen, remembering Mark's words of 'do not fuck up, just stay out of the way today, Madisyn and I have this'.  He watched as Madisyn performed her duties in a very perfunctory way, obviously going through the motions necessary, until some old woman caused a chip in that armor.  He couldn't imagine burying his father and turned his attention from her before he could dwell on that.


Mark had cleaned up in his normal black suit with a black undershirt, his hair pulled back neatly and the facial fuzz trimmed.  It never failed to amaze him how the man became a funeral director.  He even handled the obituaries and Randy knew damn well he could be polite and even pass as sympathetic to the grieving when it came time to make arrangements.  The man was a multiple-personality disorder.


Mark was somewhat distracted because he was also keeping an eye on Madisyn, watching for the breakdown.


When the eulogies began, Madisyn swallowed hard and stood up from her seat when the priest announced her name, having a piece of paper in her hand. “Thank you.” She cleared her throat, tears already building in her eyes as she looked down at the piece of paper and suddenly balled it up, tossing it over her shoulder. “I was never good at talking off of a sheet of paper like a robot so I'm just going to tell you that my father of the greatest men alive and I don't know what I would've ever done without him.  He was a great father, a great man and he will be missed.  I've...prepared a slideshow in his honor along with a song I felt was appropriate for today.”


The screen slowly went down and Madisyn pressed the button as the song 'Go Rest High on That Mountain' by Vince Gill began playing throughout the room, pictures of Jack instantly showing up.  Mark stood at the back of the room or the front if one was coming in from the front door, with his hands clasped in front of him, watching the slideshow.  Somehow, it wasn't surprising that Madisyn had chucked the eulogy and just went with something short, simple and heartfelt. 


She had been right; it would have been robotic.  As each picture was shown, he found himself stifling a smile at some of them, though the sadness was creeping in.  He still could not believe that Jack was gone, Madisyn's father and his mentor.  If Randy had not seen the handkerchief being pulled from the pocket, he would have never believed Mark had shed a tear.


Madisyn never cried so hard and so much in her entire life, the slideshow flooding her with memories from her childhood.  Jack hadn't always been there for her, but they had their moments and Madisyn currently shared them with everyone at her father's funeral.  She smiled at the Halloween photos of her dressed up as a princess, then a vampire, hugging her dad tightly.  Then there was the vacations and just the photos at home with him holding her tightly. 


There were a lot of her because she was his only child, his baby girl, and he was gone now.  He would never see his grandchildren if she ever had any, never be able to walk her down the aisle if she ever wanted to marry and it broke Madisyn in half.  When the slideshow ended, there wasn't a dry eye in the room and all Madisyn could do was sit there, burying her face in her hands, sobbing violently.


Mark weaved his way through the people who were now huddling together crying, or approaching the coffin, in order to get to Madisyn, standing behind her chair and gently curved his hand over her shoulder.  After a moment, he procured the spare handkerchief he kept on him and moved so he was in front of her, easing himself into a half-crouch and stared at her, knowing she was hurting.  She had been holding everything in and it had all built up.  Now it was time for the dam to break, as well as his heart as he watched her, wanting to pull her into his arms.


Madisyn slowly looked up from her hands, her face tear-streaked and stared back into the watery eyes of Mark, those green eyes tearing her apart.  Mark didn't cry, but she knew how close he'd been to Jack until he fell ill and both of them had to leave for treatment.  She shakily reached out when he handed her the handkerchief, trying to wipe her tears away, not caring if her makeup was smeared.  So many emotions flowed through her while watching that slideshow and Madisyn had to stay strong, knowing Mark was worried about her.


“I'm fine.” She whispered, standing up and walking out of the room with everyone watching her, needing some air.


As much as he wanted too, he couldn't follow her.  One, he was the funeral director, it was his job to stand here and do whatever these people needed him too.  Secondly, she did need a moment to collect herself, without him there with a shoulder to cry on, crying meant she wasn't collecting.  When Randy appeared at his side, he bent down.


“Make sure there are boxes of tissue, not empty boxes, and go POLITELY get those toddlers out of the kitchen.”


Randy zoomed to the kitchen, staring down at the kids who had taken advantage of the crying, not truly understanding what was going on. “I have graham crackers.” He said with a smile, knowing their parents needed a moment, and also preferred dealing with happy kids opposed to pissed off children who didn't appreciate strangers shooing them off.


The rain poured and Madisyn honestly didn't care, enjoying the cool drops that hit her face, mixing with tears.  She took the bobby pins out of her hair and stood there, her curls drenched and hanging around her face and down her back.  She didn't care if she was soaking wet, Madisyn couldn't be in there right now.  The dress clung to every curve of her body, molding to her like a second skin and all Madisyn could think about was wanting to go home and take a nice soothing hot bath with a bottle of liquor.



“I miss you Daddy so much.” She whispered, fresh tears building and thought it fitting that it was raining on this sad day.


Mark gave her about ten-fifteen minutes, then he stepped outside with an umbrella, heading over to her.  She was drenched; she was going to catch a damn cold.  Sighing, he began pulling off his jacket with one hand, managing to hold the umbrella and then slip it around her slim shoulders.


“Darlin',” He murmured tenderly, reaching out to slowly bring her against him. “It's time to go bury Jack. I've already called ahead and had them sent up awnings for people to sit under, and to go over the burial site.”


Madisyn simply nodded, not feeling his jacket on her shoulders as she continued letting the silent tears fall, grabbing his hand when he went to walk away, her hand shaking. “Thank you for everything you've done today, Mark.  My father would've been proud.” With that said, she released his hand abruptly and walked away from him toward the hearse, knowing she had to be the one to ride to the burial site with her father in the back. 


Chapter 7


Randy and Mark had already loaded the casket in and Madisyn simply stood in front of it, wondering if she could go through with this.  She was used to death, but this was her father, this wasn't just another body or person she didn't have a clue about.  He was part of the reason she walked on this earth and now she had to take the ride to his final resting place.


Randy slid in the front seat of the hearse after Mark had gotten into the driver's side, knowing the man would never allow anyone else to drive today, especially with Jack Simon's body in the back, not to mention his distraught daughter. “She...going to be alright?” He knew that was a dumb question, but was concerned and it was the best he could do.


“Not today and not tomorrow, but in time.” Mark replied after a moment, checking in his mirrors to make sure the cars were lining up properly with orange flags on each and every one of them.


Nodding, Randy leaned back and spent the ride to the cemetery in silence.


Madisyn had driven there in her Mazda, not able to take her father's last ride, the tears still falling.  Now she stood at the gravesite, refusing to sit and continued to let the rain fall around her.  Mark had instructed Randy to hold an umbrella over Madisyn, not wanting her to get sick, but she didn't care.  Nothing mattered at the moment as the priest once said a few words before reading scriptures from the bible. 


It was all a blur to Madisyn because all she could do was stand there and stare at her father's casket, the rain drops sliding down the black onyx.  Priscilla was sobbing heartbrokenly over her husband's death, standing right beside Madisyn, but the woman knew better than to touch her right now.  The funeral ended and Madisyn simply stood there, having sent Randy to take care of Priscilla while she stared down at the six feet deep hole her father would lay forever.  As the casket began lowering, Madisyn didn’t know how she was supposed to say goodbye to him.


Mark stood off behind her, having overseen the tearing down of everything once the guests had dissipated.  Now all that remained were the men who were lowering the casket and Madisyn.  She looked so frail and small; standing in front of that casket with the hole it was being lowered into.  She was drenched through and he knew she probably wasn't even aware of the rain, nor would she care.  He didn't care that he was now being soaked through either, unable to tear his eyes off the scene before him. 


When the casket disappeared below ground, he shut his eyes and tilted his head backwards, letting the rain wash everything away.  Madisyn stayed for the entire burial, even when they placed Jack's huge tombstone where it would sit for generations, his name splayed across it in beautiful black lettering.  She finally stepped forward and bent down, taking a handful of dirt in her hand and let it slip through her fingers, a sad smile crossing her lips.


“I'll see you again, Daddy, I promise.” She whispered, refusing to say goodbye to him because Jack would always be in her heart regardless of what she did with her life. 


Motherhood, marriage, he would be there in spirit and she fully believed that. 


Madisyn finally pulled herself away from the burial site and stopped when she saw Mark had stayed there with her, slowly walking over to him. “Have you been here all this time?” She asked somewhat naively, looking up into his cloudy eyes.


“Yes, all this time.” He said quietly, blinking water out of his eyes as he stared down at her. “Give me your keys, I'll drive.” Mark instructed, knowing she needed dry clothing and warmth and, as a matter of fact, so did he. 


He knew Randy would have the funeral home cleaned up by this point, or in the process of, and wasn't going to worry about it.  The kid knew what to do.  All he wanted to do was get Madisyn somewhere out of the rather unseasonal rain and then maybe have a drink or two to toast Jack's memory.


Madisyn didn't say anything and handed them over without a word, glancing over her shoulder at the fresh grave and pressed a hand over her heart before heading back to the Mazda with Mark.  She slid in the passenger seat, not even shivering as water droplets ran down her hands, shoulders and legs, everything else pretty much covered.  She didn't care if she was getting her seats wet and felt the car start up, Mark instantly turning the heat on to try to warm them up. 


Madisyn didn't want to feel warmth and leaned back against the seat, closing her eyes as more tears fell, wondering if they would ever stop.  He didn't bother speaking; driving back to the funeral parlor though he parked in the back.  When it seemed like she wasn't going to move from her seat, he pocketed the keys, walked around to her side, opened her door and gently undid the seatbelt, pulling her from the car.


“Come on, darlin'.” He murmured, bending to scoop her into his arms, one arm around her shoulders, the other beneath her knees. 


She was like a giant pliant doll against him and that was a very disconcerting notion.  He had never equated grief with Madisyn, but he had also known this was coming; it was like he hadn't prepared for it when it was his job to deal with grieving people, but this was Madisyn.  Mark carried her inside and headed up the stairwell behind the kitchen to his loft over the parlor.


Once they arrived in the loft, Mark set Madisyn down on the couch while he went to retrieve some towels for both of them, taking it when Mark handed it to her. “Thanks.” She whispered and wrapped it around her shoulders while he walked into his bedroom to get a change of clothes. 


Madisyn wiped her face with the towel and began drying her hair as much as she could, glad she hadn't used any hairspray or this would've really hurt.  The funeral had gone off without a hitch and she was glad for it, also knowing she'd completely missed Priscilla's dinner, honestly not hungry for food.  Madisyn propped one elbow on her lap and began rubbing her face and forehead, her head lowered, the tears having finally stopped for now.


When he came back out in black pajama pants and a black beater, his hair hanging loosely down his back and his feet bare, Mark was not surprised in the least that she had only dried her hair and face, her drenched clothes now dripping over his wooden floors.  But that didn't bother him, the fact that he had no idea what to do did.  Silently, he kneeled down in front of her and took off her heels one at a time, setting them aside before reaching up behind her back for the zipper to her dress.


“Come on honey, get out of the dress, I've got a shirt you can wear.” He coaxed soothingly, slowly beginning to unzip it.


Her hand shot out like a bullet, stopping him from doing that, trembling slightly because the shock of her father's funeral was slowly wearing off. “I can do it.” Madisyn whispered, not trusting her voice at the moment because of how much it cracked, too much emotion rushing through her at once. 


Not to mention she didn't want Mark seeing her in just her bra and panties, having enough sense to know that it definitely would be good for either of them.  She took the shirt he gave her and stood up from the couch, padding into the bathroom that she'd noticed was just a little ways down the hall.  Madisyn took one look in the mirror and immediately turned her back to it, slipping her dress off along with her garments, replacing it with Mark's huge shirt that covered all of the important parts.  She balled everything up and walked back out to the living room, clearing her throat to get his attention.


“Do you have a bag?” She asked quietly.


That was the last thought on his mind at the moment.  Even if she had paraded back into the room bare assed naked and begging him to fuck her three ways from Sunday, Mark wouldn't have been able to do it.  Not today of all days.  He reached out to take her clothes from her, ignoring how tight her grip was and jerked them from her hand.


“I have a clothes rack, I'll hang them by the furnace to dry.” He said, walking across the wide open room.


This was it. His bedroom, living room, a tiny little kitchen that he rarely used because he preferred the oven downstairs to the hot plate and toaster oven up here.  By the old radiator furnace was a rack he kept for hanging his dress shirts after washing them and he deftly spread her things over it, not even remotely interested in the color of her panties at the moment.  Maybe tomorrow.  When he was done, he crossed to the cupboard and pulled down an unlabeled bottle of very mature, very good whiskey and two shot glasses, filling them both.


“Here.” He held one out to her, knowing she needed it.


“I'm going home.” She couldn't be around the funeral home right now, not even in this comfortable loft above it, swallowing hard at the look in his eyes. “I have to go home, that's why I didn't want you hanging my stuff there because I'm not staying.”


He didn't want her to anyway, Mark had made that very clear and Madisyn wasn't in the mood to have company.  She wanted a hot bubble bath with some sad country music and her own bottle of liquor, wanting to be completely alone.  It was her fault Jack was dead and gone; Madisyn would forever feel that guilt and nothing anyone said or did would change that.  If she hadn't left to go to her stupid photography job, she would've been there when he keeled over and had him rushed to the hospital in time.


Mark arched an eyebrow, wondering if she was really going to go home, to that condo, alone.  Jack had died alone, Madisyn figured she should have been there and maybe she should have been, but it was over now.  Jack wouldn't have wanted her to feel guilty.


“No, you're stayin'.” Mark informed her, downing both shots, one after the other.  He wasn't worried about getting drunk; it took a whole lot of alcohol to even get him buzzing. “I don't want to be alone right now, Madisyn.” He informed her, which was true and also didn't want her to be alone. “You don't have to talk to me, you don't even have to look at me if you don't want too, here with me.”


“You don't understand...” She whispered, turning around and wrapped her arms around herself, rubbing them to try to warm up.  Madisyn felt so cold, blinking as huge tears slid down her face, angrily wiping them away as she growled in frustration.  Strong!  She had to stay strong, feeling her chest constricting painfully. “Why do you want me here with you, Mark?  Give me one reason why it has to be me and don't even tell me it's because I'm Jack's daughter.” She sniffled bitterly and walked over to sit on the couch, putting her head in her hands again, not knowing what to think or feel anymore.


“For the same reason you wanted me to stay last night with you.  You didn't want to be alone, but you didn't want to be alone with a stranger either.” He said simply, pouring himself another shot. “Forget it, Madisyn.  Go home, I know you need your time and space from here.” Probably from him too since he had been his usual cold, uncaring self until yesterday. “I'll call Orton to drive you if you don't think you can, if he's not still downstairs finishing up.”


He wasn't going to force her to stay.  He had his bottle and could distract himself from the thoughts of his friend being lowered into that cold, uncaring ground.  Mark had done all the work on Jack himself, but seeing the lid to the casket made it very final.


“I'll get you a bag for your clothes, darlin', I won't keep you.”


“No!” Madisyn hadn't meant to shout that word, but it came out before she could stop it. “No.” She repeated, this time much softer and stood up from the couch, walking over to where he stood.  She needed him just as much as he needed her; Madisyn wasn't leaving and took the shot glass from him along with the bottle of whiskey, pouring one. “I'll stay; I don't want to be alone either, not tonight at least.” Pressing a finger to his lips when he went to say something, Madisyn shook her head, instead raising the shot glass. “To my father Jack Simon.” Madisyn's voice cracked before downing the shot, hissing a little as the burning liquid seared her throat and chest.


He probably should have told her that for the first shot, she should have probably sipped it.  This stuff was old, strong, and could singe the balls off a bull. “To Jack Simon, a great man.” Mark echoed, tossing down his own shot, meeting her eyes.  He had no idea what had changed her mind so suddenly and wasn't questioning it.  God forbid questioning the inner workings of a woman's mind, especially a grieving woman. “You look exhausted again.” He smiled faintly, considering it wasn't even late afternoon yet and it already felt like days had passed since putting Jack into the ground when, in reality, it hadn't even been hours.


“Crying tires me out quickly.” She informed him softly and took his hand, guiding him over to the couch so they could sit down, tucking her feet beneath her. “I was supposed to go to Priscilla's for the luncheon, but there's no way I can even think of food right now.”


Chapter 8


She'd just put her father to rest, food was definitely out of the question and she had a feeling it was for Mark too.  Madisyn stayed for the simple fact that he'd done the same thing for her the previous night and being in love with him was definitely a factor.  So any time Madisyn could have with Mark, she was taking full advantage of it, accepting another shot from Mark and crawled on his lap to side sideways, resting her head on his shoulder, just wanting to feel warm again since she was freezing.


Reaching behind him, Mark pulled an old, worn afghan off the back of the couch and wrapped it around them.  It was large enough to go around them twice; something he had found a long time ago at a thrift store, back when Jack had first taken him under his wing and given him the loft and Mark had been fairly broke.  Beneath the afghan, he wrapped his arms around her, resting his head on top of hers.


“Woman, you’re like a block of ice.” He drawled, the accent he mostly had buried beneath a professional tone emerging.


“I know, sorry.” She mumbled in his chest, the whiskey helping a little, but Mark's body heat was doing wonders. 


Madisyn tried soaking up as much of his body heat as she could, wondering what he was thinking about as he held her like this.  Staying together for the past two nights in a row...Madisyn slowly pulled a little, still wrapped in the afghan, the question burning on her tongue, but she held back.  She couldn't do it and simply snuggled right back to where she was before, closing her eyes as he began running his fingers through her damp hair, which had mostly dried.


He was curious, she had been about to ask him something, he could see the question burning in her eyes, but didn't know what the question was and apparently she had decided against asking it. “Am I that unapproachable?” He murmured into her hair, feeling her unthawing and relaxing against him, her curvy little body contouring against his.  He had moved to caressing her hair because he had become aware of the lack of a bra when running his hand up and down her back.  All she wore was his t-shirt and he felt a possessiveness rearing through him at the thought.


“What?” Madisyn blinked, that question catching her completely off guard and slowly looked up at him again through confused blue eyes.  She'd heard his question, but didn't understand why he asked it; then it dawned on her that Mark could read people very well, cursing inwardly. “No you're not.” She said, loving the feeling of his hands anywhere on her body, knowing he was probably aware she wasn't wearing a bra and honestly didn’t care at the moment. “You're a little intimidating to people who don't know you because of your size, but you're not unapproachable.”


“If I'm not unapproachable, Madisyn,” He continued, drawing her into the conversation slowly, still running his fingers soothingly through her hair though he did move the other hand down to her thigh, gently rubbing his knuckles along the t-shirt that hid her skin. “Then why is it, you apparently have something on your mind, but seem afraid to say it?” His own green eyes were piercing hers, seeing the confusion in them followed by dawning comprehension, wondering idly if she would try to bolt off his lap.  Ready to pin her in place until she answered him, Mark wanted to know whatever was on her mind.


Opening her mouth to speak, Madisyn clamped it shut and instead looked away from him to stare around the loft, knowing Mark wanted an answer.  What the hell was she supposed to say?  ‘Mark I've been in love with you since day one and I want you to fuck me senseless?’ That definitely wouldn't come off well; Madisyn already knew he didn't feel that way for her, even though his hand was burning her skin at that moment.


“You have a nice place here.” She finally said, hoping that satisfied him and snuggled into the afghan more.


“Yes I do, its patchwork furniture, nothing matches, my idea of decor is posters and weird paintings, but it suits me.” He replied easily, thinking of her own posh, nicely decorated condo and knew the difference between their styles was...vast.  Mark also knew what she was doing and two could play that game. “Feeling warmer, darlin'?” He asked, adjusting her so he was almost cradling her, looking down at her with a concerned expression. “You still feel cold.” As if to make his point, he placed his hand, palm down, on her inner leg, under the shirt and then raised it again.


In truth, Madisyn was the complete opposite of cold because everywhere Mark touched her, skin on skin, was burning.  Her cold skin was turning flushed and Madisyn suddenly wanted out of this shirt, but also knew it was going to be impossible to get away from Mark.  He had her firmly in his arms, staring down at her with those deep green eyes and his hand...his hand was making her senses reel, her lips parted slightly.  Madisyn was itching to force his hand higher, to touch her aching sex, but knew he didn't want her that way. 


Then again, if he didn't want her that way, why was he touching and caressing her like this?


“I am a little.” She admitted softly, her heart rate escalating and Madisyn tried taking silent breaths to calm it, her eyes finally lowering from his to stare at his bare chest.


“Good.” His rumbling voice was tinged with a bit of amusement, following her gaze down to his chest, which his black beater was clinging too like a second skin, his muscles rippling when she placed her hand on him. “Madisyn?” He made her name a question, waiting until she had looked back up at him before bending down so their noses were almost touching. “What was it you were goin' to ask me, darlin'?”


He was torturing her! 


Mark was going to drive her into madness with how close they were, knowing not even a piece of paper could wedge between them right now.  Madisyn knew she should've gone home when she had the chance, but one look in Mark's sorrowful eyes and she instantly caved.  Her mind was cloudy and the way he said her name sent volts of electricity throughout her, the sexual tension so thick it couldn't be cut with a knife.


“I wasn't going to ask you anything, Mark.  You're a bit paranoid don't you think?” She shot back, trying to sound hardened, but it came out in a gentle caress, finally pulling her gaze away from him yet again. “Hand me another shot.” She was done thinking about him and just wanted to feel numb, hoping it would overshadow the heat she felt.


She was lying to both of them, but he was the paranoid one?  With anyone else, he would have found this cat and mouse game annoying, but since it was Madisyn, it was more amusing then anything.  Not to mention, she was back in town for some time, working with him, he had plenty of time to get the truth from her.  And eventually, he would, it was certain; he could be patient awhile longer.  Nodding, and hiding his amused smile, he reached over to grab the bottle off the stand, offering it to her, minus the shot glass.


“Why did you kiss me?”


Madisyn had around ten shots of the well aged whiskey and was feeling pretty brave as she continued sitting in Mark's lap, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.  Then she realized she was simply thinking the question without actually voicing it, her lips tingling every time that memory came back to her.  She hated that she'd walked away from him, but somehow her panic button went off.  Alarm bells...Madisyn hated her reactions at times and that was definitely one of them, knowing Mark probably felt rejected.


“What are you thinking about?” She asked when he handed the bottle back to her, wondering if she could stand another shot of this stuff and suddenly did it without preamble, not quite numb yet.


“You and wondering how much more of that stuff you can drink before you pass out.” Mark replied honestly, eyeballing her thoughtfully.


The woman could maybe do another three shots before dropping into a very heavy, dreamless, whiskey-induced sleep coma.  Then when she woke up, she'd probably wind up wishing she had remained in said whiskey-induced sleep coma because her head would be fit to burst.  He knew that from experience, that shit was really strong. 


Was she even aware that she was running a finger across her lips or that her eyes had darkened?  What the hell was going on in that head of hers?  He was tempted to kiss her, but knew that was possibly his own buzz talking.  The still relatively sober part of his mind informed him that she wouldn't likely remember it, which would mean he had taken advantage.


“What are you talking about?” Madisyn sat up a little more, having set the bottle down on the side table and chuckled softly. “I can hold my own and I'm only buzzed.” That was a flat out lie, but Madisyn honestly didn't want this feeling going away, moving to where she now straddled Mark, her hair completely dry, tossing the afghan. “Now you on the other hand, my good sir, are drunk off your ass.” Laughing softly, Madisyn had to press her hands on his chest to keep herself from falling off, not realizing the shirt he let her wear was now riding up her thighs, her soft hair flowing around her face down her shoulders and back, the rain making it shimmer a little.


No, he wasn't drunk, but she was and pretending to not be.  He was going to remember this night for the rest of his life. “I could be a bit drunk, darlin'.” Mark agreed amicably, taking a large swallow from the bottle, his tongue darting out to catch the whiskey on his lips.


Still watching her, his own emerald green eyes darkened with mounting lust when she grabbed onto him to keep from falling.  Automatically, he nestled the bottle between the couch cushions and wrapped his arms around her waist, feeling the material of the shirt bunching and groaned inwardly.  Knowing the only barrier between them was his damn bottoms, Mark was in deep trouble.


This man was delicious in every way, his lips crying out to Madisyn to just take the plunge, drunk or not.  He was a man, she was a woman and they were both in need. “You are.” Her voice had dropped a little, sounding more seductive without realizing it in her drunken slumber.  Slowly, her hands ran up and down his chest to his shoulders, her blue eyes cloudy and darkening instantly, snaking her own tongue out to wet her suddenly dry lips. “Mark...” His name came out in a mere whisper as she leaned forward, loving the feeling of his arms wrapped around her, their lips not even a centimeter from each other. 


Then suddenly, Madisyn felt something rush out of her, eyes widening, sobering up quickly and shoved him away so hard, she fell to the floor.  It took Mark several long seconds to catch up, wondering what the hell that had been about.  Then he felt wetness sinking into his pajama leg, gingerly plucking them off of his skin.  Confused, he turned questioning green eyes onto Madisyn who looked like she was sobering up very quickly, her face red and mortified.  The shirt was up now; her inner thighs were exposed and smeared with red.


“Oh you have got to be fuckin' kidding me!” He shot upright, staring down at his pants, glad they were at least black.  He only had to FEEL it, not see it. “Shit...Mad...” He glanced down at her, peeling off his shirt and tossed it at her, heading for the bathroom. “I'll bring you a damn towel or somethin' to...get that...plugged up.” She had just BLED on him, had started her period...Mark worked with dead bodies and embalming fluids, but even this was new to him. “Gross...”


Her drunken euphoria had came to a screeching halt as Madisyn quickly and deftly rose to her feet, needing to get the hell out of there.  She just had her...Madisyn's cheeks flamed as she rushed into the kitchen, stumbling a little and snatched her clothes from the vent.  Her keys were on the counter as she snatched them as well, knowing she would have to sit on her clothes in order for her car seats not to get stained.


“This has been a real slice, Mark, see you in the morning!” She called out and flew out of the front door as fast as her feet could carry her, tears of pure mortification sliding down her cheeks.  There was NO way in HELL Madisyn was staying with that man again or getting that close to him, wondering how she was supposed to even look at him when they worked together! “Jesus Christ...”


Even he had to laugh at how damn absurd that sounded 'this has been a real slice', moving to the stairwell to watch as she stumbled her way down the steps.  It should have crossed his mind that she really wasn't in any condition to be driving, but he was still buzzing and, on top of that, in shock over the bodily fluids on him, the ones he HADN'T been expecting.  Cursing under his breath, he stripped off the pants and kicked them towards the waste basket, using his toes to pick them up and put them into the bin.


“If she shows her face tomorrow...” Mark spoke aloud, wondering if she really would and shook his head, going for the bathroom.  He needed a shower and tomorrow was going to be VERY interesting.


Chapter 9


Madisyn sat in her car outside of the funeral parlor, wondering if she should go in or go back home, considering they didn't have anything planned for a few days.  Scowling, she stepped out and closed the door harshly, wearing a pair of black dress pants with a lavender silk top that was buttoned up the front.  This was her business too and if Mark couldn't take the fact that she was an actual woman then that was his problem.  Women had periods; it was nature's cruel joke on them along with having pap smears and mammograms.  Having things shoved up their vaginas and their boobs smashed was a few of the many things women had to suffer while men didn't have anything.


“Screw him.” She growled, walking up the stairs and opened the door, walking inside. 


If he said ONE thing to her about what happened between them, Madisyn would embalm him alive.


Women were disgusting creatures; Mark had worked out, busy downstairs sterilizing everything for the tenth time.  Unless someone died today, he had nothing to really do; he had even skipped slacks in favor of faded blue jeans and another beater, this one white.  He wasn't taking any chances; if some kind of fluid got on him, he was going to know about it and then sterilize himself.  When he had woken up this morning, and realized, completely sober, what had happened the night before, he had almost gone right back to bed.


“Boss, you alright?” Randy asked curiously, having never seen Mark looking so...disturbed.  Both men glanced upward when the bell sounded, signaling someone had come in. “Probably Madisyn.” Did Mark just squirm?


Footsteps could be heard on the stairs as Madisyn descended them, needing to inform both gentlemen that they would be working longer than they thought today. “Good morning men, a new body is being delivered here because the other funeral home across town burned down. I don't know what kind of damage the body sustained, but I do know it's going to be a very long day.” Her honey blonde hair was half up and half down with the usual makeup, nothing special. “Mr. Calaway, you're going to have a new guy to train.  His name is Nick Clancy and he should be here momentarily.  Also, I feel I should warn you, the body is a female.” With that said, Madisyn turned and walked right back up the stairs, shutting the door quietly.


“Since when does she call you Mr. Calaway?”


“Since I discovered that she is an abnormal creature who can survive death.” He replied blandly.  So it was going to be like THAT, was it?


“You're training the new guy?  I thought we weren't taking on anymore apprentices down here in the death shack?”


“We're not.”


“So...what are you going to do?”


“Send the idiot packing if he even thinks about coming down here of course.”


Madisyn greeted the EMT's at the door that delivered the body, which they would also have to toss a funeral together for it.  They were the only well known funeral home left, which would be good for business, but bad because it meant a lot of overtime.  Madisyn didn't even look at Mark, too busy answering questions for the sobbing mother, not believing her nineteen year old had hit a phone pole and hadn't been wearing a seatbelt.  So the sight wasn't that great to witness, but the morgue at the hospital did what they could to stitch her up so she looked somewhat recognizable.


“Closed coffin?” Madisyn asked softly, placing a hand on the mother's shoulder.




“ I too late?” Nick Clancy stepped inside; taking inventory of what was going on, having heard about the fire at the other funeral home.


“No, follow Mr. Calaway; he will instruct you on what to do, Mr. Clancy.”


Mark allowed Mr. Clancy to follow him as far as the door downstairs, where they were out of sight from the distraught mother, and turned around. “I don't know what she told you, but I do not take on apprentices.” He informed Clancy calmly.


“Except for me.” Randy pointed out helpfully.


“Except for dipshit.” Mark corrected resignedly.


“Hey!” Randy cut that short when he got a look, almost afraid he'd get backhanded.


“So...what do I do then?”


“You can go make coffee.” Mark snorted, disappearing downstairs.


Randy gave the new guy a sympathetic look. “Sorry man, he's just...not a people person, not LIVE people anyway.”


After Madisyn took all the information down for the nineteen year old girl named Jean and sending her home, Madisyn was already drained and knew it was only going to get worse.  Her blood began boiling at the sight of Nick Clancy, who looked completely lost and that was about all she could take.  Tossing her pen down on the table, Madisyn smiled at him as she passed by before it faded, heading down to the basement.


“Orton, out now.” She ordered gravely, jabbing a thumb over her shoulder and watched as he hesitated. “NOW!” He flew past her up the stairs, leaving her and Mark completely alone and Madisyn fought the urge not to strangle him. “Being that we are now the ONLY funeral home in Houston that's well known for our services, we're going to need help around here, Calaway.  Whether you like it or not, Mr. Clancy needs trained on EVERYTHING associated with our company because that's what this is.  I don't care what happened last night and I don't care how you feel about this, you have no choice in this matter.  We are partners, but I'm doing what's right for C & S.  So get your head out of your ass or we're going to drown.  You didn't even give him a fucking chance and he's willing to learn, his resume has shown he's worked in over four funeral homes and he even has experience when it comes to being an actual funeral director.  So knock your shit off, get it together and HELP me run this damn place!”


That was the last straw, Mark snapped.  Circling around the table that the body had been placed on, Mark stalked to Madisyn, grabbing the front of her blouse and jerked her to her tiptoes, bending down so their faces where nearly pressed together. “You little self-righteous bitch!” He spat, green eyes ablaze. “I have let you run this place since you came back without fucking saying a word; the only thing I asked you was NOT to send people to me.  I do not WANT or NEED another goddamn apprentice.  I don't care WHERE the fuck he's worked before; do you understand me, Madisyn?  We will not drown; we're the best in Houston for a goddamn reason woman, do not fuck that reason up with your power trip!” He released her forcibly, watching her stumble backwards. “If you want someone else down here, my suggestion to you is to learn how to fucking deal with THIS-” He ripped the sheet off the dead woman's mangled corpse, briefly admiring the ER's patchwork. “And YOU can help with the bodies.”


“Don't you ever put your hands on me again, Calaway.” Madisyn ordered, trying to sound strong, but her voice was trembling and hated it.  That showed him weakness and she couldn't allow it, keeping her distance from him. “I never asked for this, my father begged and pleaded with me to take over his share of C & S and I did it for him.  You think I enjoy working around the dead all the time?  No I don't, but I'm doing it for him because I am his only child, I'm the only one left.  You know what I do miss?  I miss being in LA and far away from you and this hellhole, but I'm DEALING with it!  I miss my photography and LA, I hate this place and I fucking hate YOU!  So fine, do run this place however you see fit because I'm leaving.  Enjoy.”


Madisyn stormed up the stairs and didn't get very far before Mark's hand wrapped around her arm.  Out of instinct, Madisyn swung and punched him as hard as she could right in the nose, tears spilling down her cheeks.  He stumbled back, releasing her with a howl of pain and that gave her the opening she needed as she made it upstairs, slamming the door shut.


“I'm leaving, kindly tell Mr. Calaway.” She ordered Randy and told Mr. Clancy he would have to start tomorrow, grabbing her purse and keys before jetting out, her hand throbbing.


Randy and Nick could only stand there and gape at the door she had just walked out of, both of them burning to know what had happened down there.  They had heard the raised voices, but that was about it.  And Mark making a sound that he would not appreciate being reminded of.  Now Mark was down there bellowing in rage and, from the sounds of it, had just hurled something at the wall.


“You know what, buddy?” Randy turned to Nick, seeing the expression on his face. “Why don't we do the paperwork today?  You need hours probably and so do I.” Considering Mark had trained him on paperwork, he knew what he was doing and, out of respect for Madisyn, he'd even do it all properly along with answering the phones politely and professionally.


Nick nodded gratefully, though he did give the basement door one last hesitant look.


Randy turned his attention to the window, watching as Madisyn fumbled with her car door, his blue eyes thoughtful.




“It's sprained, possibly fractured, but you'll be fine Madi.” Evan said, seeing how black and blue her fist was and wondered who had endured the punch. “Hold your fingers out for me as straight as you can.”


Grimacing, Madisyn closed her eyes tightly shut while the doctor set it correctly, wrapping it in a tan medical tape so the sprain or fracture would heal properly. “Thanks for doing this, Evan.” She sighed heavily, not believing she actually punched Mark in the face, trying not to smile because it felt good to get some of her aggression out.


“No problem honey, but I have to ask: Who the hell pissed you off?”


“Nobody of importance.”


Evan studied her intently, nodding at her not so answering answer. “Try not to hit anyone else, at least with that arm.” He advised with a slight smile, finishing off the tape with practiced ease.  He knew her father's funeral had been yesterday, who didn't?  C & S's Jack Simon had been a well known man, so he knew her hitting someone was probably somehow related to the emotional upheaval going on in her life. “How are you holding up, Madi?” He asked softly, eyes sympathetic. “Other than unimportant nobodies?”


“I'm fine; I'm going to visit a friend today to help me cope with everything.” She said quietly, knowing she had to deal with her pain and grievance some other way besides decking her partner.  He was going to be very angry with her and possibly quit, but honestly Madisyn felt he deserved it for putting his hands on her.  Granted, she would've normally enjoyed it, but he literally shook her to the point where her teeth jostled and then grabbed her arm, which had a purple bruise forming on it. “Thank you for the flowers by the way, Evan, they were beautiful.”


“Not a problem, Madi.” Evan said with a nonchalant shrug, still smiling gently. “I only wish I could have done more, he was a good man, your father.” He didn't want to talk about Jack too much, not wanting to upset her, but he had to let her know how he had felt about the man. “ go visit your friend, do some talking, take some OTC pain relievers for the wrist, unless you'd like a prescription for something stronger?” He had a feeling she would say no but offered it anyway, not surprised when she shook her head. “And try to keep it as still as possible.”


“Will do, thanks for everything doc.” She winked and slid off of the bedding, hugging him around the neck.  He'd known the family for years, ever since he did his internship at the funeral home, only to change his major when he met Mark to pursue the medical field. “I'll see you later, tell Clara I said hi.” Walking out, Madisyn slid her sunglasses over her red-rimmed eyes and headed to her Mazda, hoping the person she went to would understand every single one of her problems, especially what was happening between her and Mark.


Trina Brewer had always wanted to be a psychologist because she enjoyed helping people through their problems.  She had always been good with the girl talk in high school, smoothing out hurt feelings and helping her friends to deal with situations.  So she had naturally pursued what she felt to be her calling.  It was a good business; she had just established her own private practice.  Though, when Madisyn Simon had called her asking to chat, Trina had canceled all her appointments and extended an invitation to have lunch at her loft.


“Madi, I am so sorry about Jack!” She said when she opened the door for her friend, reaching out to gently but briefly hug the other woman.  It was a sincere gesture but brief because chances were, Madisyn did not really wish to hear anymore well wishes or condolences.


“Thanks Trina.” She stepped inside the well furnished and comfortable loft, following her old friend into the living room, knowing lunch would be ready soon. “Thanks for making time for me; I just don't know what to do anymore.”


Sitting down on the couch, Madisyn clasped her hands in her lap, being careful of her injured one, wishing she hadn't used her hand to get her point across to Mark.  Mark...Madisyn felt tears burn her eyes at the thought of him and took the tissue Trina handed her, wishing she could go a day without crying.  Why did life have to be so damn difficult, cruel and unfair?


“How've you been?” Madisyn asked, trying to get her mind off of her problems.


Chapter 10


“I've been good.” Trina replied, her pale grey eyes studying Madisyn carefully, noting the wrist. “What happened?” She asked, gesturing to the taped appendage, seeing the fresh tears and passed over another tissue, gathering it was related to whatever Madisyn wanted to talk to her about. “Go ahead and cry if you want too, I do it all the time; it can help.” She said softly. “I'll go finish lunch and give you a moment to collect yourself, alright?” Crying was good for the soul, not so much if the person doing the crying didn't want to do it in front of others.


Once Trina came back with lunch, Madisyn had composed herself somewhat, though a few tears still fell from her eyes while eating her sandwich, or nibbling it rather, not hungry in the slightest. “I'm in love with Mark Calaway.” She blurted out suddenly, swallowing incredibly hard and could feel Trina's eyes bulging out of her head, causing Madisyn to groan out loud. “Sorry!  I didn't mean to just come out like that...I just...I thought living in LA would've stemmed my feelings for him and as soon as I moved back, they all came rushing back...”Madisyn cringed when she said the word rushed and immediately crossed her legs.


“Well,” Trina said after a moment, recovering from her shock at hearing that. “Our minds tend to trick us into thinking everything is...gone, or suppressed, until we're confronted with the issue again.  In your case, you thought you weren't in love with Mark, or you were capable of dealing with it, but...” She tapped the side of her, smiling crookedly. “People tend to talk themselves into something, so much and so well, we begin to consciously believe it until the subconscious rears its ugly little head.  Have you talked to Mark about this?” She already knew the answer to that one, but had to ask. “Or hinted at it?”


“No and I never will.” She stood up from the couch, running a hand through her hair while using her used tissue to dry her eyes whenever tears started up, staring out the window. “We're business partners and...If I told him I feel about him, how I've felt about him for years, he'd laugh in my face and walk away.  I know Mark, Trina.  He doesn't feel the same way about me; he's simply putting up with me because of my father.  They were very close and it hurt Mark to lose him, I know it did.  That's why I've been thinking about moving back to LA and selling my half of C & S to him to pursue my photography.” Not to mention the distance would make those feelings for Mark stem and hopefully disappear forever.


Trina had a feeling she was not getting the entire story, and set down the trays with their lunch on the coffee table before settling herself back on the couch, drawing her legs beneath herself comfortably. “How do you know he doesn't feel the same way, Madisyn?” She asked quietly. “If you've never told him how you feel?  Has he ever given you any sign that he doesn't have feelings for you?” When Madisyn just shook her head, she frowned thoughtfully. “What happened to your wrist, Madisyn?  Honestly.”


“I punched Mark in the face.” Again, she blurted it out without realizing it, putting her head in her hand, rubbing her temples and never walking away from the window. “We got into a fight because I wanted to hire more help for the funeral home and he refused to train the new hire in everything.  He doesn't want a new apprentice and he hasn't been helping me run the place at all.  I got frustrated and told him he needed to get his head out of his ass and just help me.  He yanked me by the front of my shirt roughly and scared the shit out of me.  I thought I was going to piss myself, Trina, and called me a self-righteous bitch, telling me if I wanted someone else doing his job that I would have to learn it.  I told him never to touch me again and I was leaving, that he could run C & S how he wanted and when I went to walk up the stairs, he grabbed my arm.  I just reacted...I swung and socked him in the face...” She sniffled a little, remember the bellowing that quickly followed and she could hear it even out to her car as she rushed out of there.


“Well... as a psychiatrist, I'll tell you that violence is never the answer.” Trina said seriously before smiling impishly. “But as your friend, you go girl.” She was rewarded with the tiniest hint of a smile and got up to go stand by Madisyn, reaching out to gently squeeze her shoulder. “You two have a serious conflict of interest, Madisyn.” This was nothing Madisyn didn’t already know. “You need to figure out what you want to do with the business; you two have decide what your roles are, whether they are joint efforts or separate and focus on that.  You two are partners, but that partnership isn't going to work if you both feel like you're stepping on each other's toes.  You both care about Jack and the business he left behind.  Though, I would also advise a mediator to keep things peaceful between you for awhile.”


“That's why I'm thinking of just handing the entire business over to him and moving back to LA.  I was happier there, my life wasn't this complicated.” She refused to talk about the fact she'd started her monthly while straddling Mark's lap without panties on the night her father had been buried.  It just wasn't happening, Madisyn had limitations. “I have to get going; I'll see you again soon.  Thanks again for the talk, I'll figure it out.” She hoped at least and hugged Trina before heading out, popping three ibuprofens since her hand was killing her.  Pulling out of Trina's driveway, Madisyn headed home to contemplate what to do about C & S and Mark Calaway.


‘That girl is in a class all her own.’ Trina thought as she watched Madisyn's car pulling away, smiling slightly and shook her head, hoping her friend did indeed 'figure it out'. “Hey!  She didn't eat her lunch!”




Randy was sitting on the steps leading up to Madisyn's condo, a styrofoam cup of coffee in his hand, sipping it as he watched traffic.  Mark had come up from the basement with a bloody nose and a temper that had sent both Randy and Nick running for the hills.  Mark had closed the doors and booted them out, saying he would handle all calls and the body downstairs, just 'get the fuck out'.  Tomorrow would be back to normal, minus the bloodshed, though the idea of Madisyn nearly breaking the big man's nose...if she hadn't actually broken it...He smirked at the thought.


What the hell was Randy doing here? 


Madisyn blinked and pulled her Mazda into the parking garage of her condo, her hand really bothering her.  Nothing a little hard liquor and a bubble bath couldn't fix.  She cut the ignition and stepped out, heading up to the steps where Randy sat, wondering what he wanted.  Mark probably kicked him and Nick out of the funeral home, snorting at the thought, her hand throbbing indicating that was the reasoning.


“Orton, this is an unexpected surprise.” She said from the side, walking over to stare at him, folding her arms in front of her chest. “What can I do for you?”


Randy stood up, smiling awkwardly at him.  He got the impression she didn't really care for him.  No doubt because when she had first met him, he was giving his favorite line to a customer on the phone and had basically patronized her in her own funeral home.  In his defense, he hadn't known who the hell she was at the time.  Randy had gone home and changed out of his slacks into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt that hugged his muscular arms.  He couldn't always look so stiff and solemn; he was still young and vital.


“I just wanted to make sure you were okay.” He admitted truthfully. “And say you have a great hook.”


“Thanks...” She really wasn't sure how to feel about him waiting for her on her porch step, but Madisyn sort of liked it, immediately shoving that thought from his mind. “I'm fine, just a sprained hand.” Madisyn held her bandaged hand up to show him, smiling tentatively. “Sorry about what happened earlier, that was unprofessional and it won't happen again.”


Madisyn noticed for the first time how huge Randy's arms were, how the shirt stretched across his muscular chest.  The man definitely had a body that any regular man would kill for, not to mention stunning blue eyes and baby face dimples whenever he smiled.  Every woman's dream except Madisyn's.


He personally felt that today had been...lively and his dimples deepened as his smile widened, grinning at the joke he had just made.  Lively, a funeral home, he cracked himself up. “No need to apologize to me, I found him coming up with a bloody nose kind of amusing.” Randy admitted openly.  He had been tempted to clock Mark on a number of occasions, but refrained because one: the man embalmed people for a living and two: he needed a job.  He had bills to pay after all. “Just a sprain, eh?” He examined the bandaging, having thought she might have fractured or broken something, that punch had had a lot of force behind it. “You alright?” He asked softly.


“Yeah, it doesn't hurt as bad as I thought it would.  Then again, I took some ibuprofen a little while ago.” Madisyn answered, feeling his fingers gently take her hand, which felt nice in a weird way.  It'd been a long time since Madisyn had sex and Randy was no doubt gorgeous, but Madisyn couldn't be sleeping with anyone she worked with.  Those blue eyes looked concerned and began melting her, Madisyn sucked in a breath as her eyes closed when he touched a tender spot. “I'm on my period.” She blurted out; wishing she would stop doing that and felt him instantly release her hand, turning beat red. “Uhhh good night!” Madisyn felt like dying as the door slammed shut behind her, deciding maybe holing herself up in her condo would be best.


Randy could only stare after her, wondering if she was insane.  Then again, she had just informed him she was on her period and suddenly it all made sense.  Everyone knew women went a little crazy when that time of the month came around.  Rolling his eyes and still grinning he bent down to scoop up something that had fallen from her purse when she bolted, he followed her, lightly knocking on the door.


“Madisyn,” He called through it, his shoulder shaking from trying to hold in his laughter.  This woman was not like any other, he could not for the life of him recall a woman every just blurting that out. “You dropped something, and I think you'll want it.”


She was mortified again!! 


What the hell was going on with her mouth running away with her brain?  Madisyn needed professional help and groaned when she heard Randy's voice through her door, refusing to answer it.  He could stand there all night; she didn't care, refusing to embarrass herself even further.  What woman in their right mind not only started their period while straddling the man they secretly loved, but also blurted it out to an employee?!  Slowly, the door opened just a fraction and a hand shot out, fingers spread out silently.


Randy held up the bottle of pamprin, just out of reach as she tried to grab it. “Look, I don't care that you're on your period.” He informed her. “I mean, it's not like I'm out to get up under your skirt or anything. I mean, not that you're not beautiful and I wouldn't think of it, or haven't but... I-” He groaned, smacking himself in the forehead with the bottle.  Talk about his mouth taking a cue from her and just blurting shit out. “Here.” He handed it to her. “You...get to feeling better.” Though now he realized what Mark had been talking about when he had said 'surviving death', which added a whole new spin on things.


Randy thought about getting up her skirt?  Madisyn chewed her bottom lip and snatched the bottle of pamprin from his hand, even more embarrassed than before. “Thanks, good night Randy.” She muttered, shutting the door abruptly and locked it before pressing her back against it, shutting her eyes.  Madisyn had to admit, only to herself, that Randy's rambling had been rather adorable, especially when he groaned, about getting up her skirt.  Walking away from the door, Madisyn stripped out of her clothes and started a hot bath to soothe her cramps and wired mind.


Randy snapped his fingers dejectedly as he walked back down the stairs, not believing he had pulled a 'Madisyn' and said something that hadn't needed to be said. “Smooth move, Orton.” He muttered, stepping out into the sunshine and then grinned.  He hadn't been so good about apologizing verbally, but...he could still recover from this.  Bouncing down the sidewalk towards his car, he began whistling.


An hour later, flowers started arriving at Madisyn's apartment, along with a 'comfort' gift basket of white chocolate, Dove milk chocolate, various bubble baths, chick flicks, and a few candles.


Madisyn blinked, having just gotten out of the bath and signed off for a basket full of everything a woman in her condition needed.  They were from Randy; Madisyn couldn't help smiling and picked up one of the candles from the basket, inhaling the scent of lavender, which was very soothing.  Shutting her front door, Madisyn immediately lit one up, took the bag of Dove chocolate and lit the candle, setting it on her coffee table before popping in The Ugly Truth.  She would definitely have to thank Randy for this, curling up and for once felt completely relaxed since returning to Houston, Mark the furthest from her mind.


Chapter 11


Randy was feeling pretty damn good about himself when he went into work the next morning.  He was feeling so good in fact; he brought Nick coffee, knowing the poor guy was probably wondering how TODAY was going to turn out. “Cheer up buddy, just because we work with the dead doesn’t mean we have to act dead.”


Nick was beginning to wonder just what kind of people worked here, accepting the coffee with a nod of thanks.


Mark came down the stairs in his black slacks and a black button up shirt that wasn't yet buttoned and the sleeves rolled up, the area around his nose bruised.


“I brought you an ice pack, boss.”


Walking inside the funeral parlor, Madisyn felt much better than she had the previous day, her hand still bandaged, but no worse for the wear.  Thanks to Dove chocolate, pamprin, lavender candles and a bunch of movies that made her laugh and cry, Madisyn was ready to get back to work.  If she could help it, she would be ignoring Mark unless it was something business related, knowing that was the only way this was going to work out.  Seeing the stack of paperwork on her desk, Madisyn sighed and set up before starting it, knowing it was going to be a long day.


Before she had even started thumbing through it, Randy knocked and poked his head in the door, smiling brightly at her. “Good, you found my little pile.” He joked. “That's what I got done last night before being booted.  Well, Nick did part of it, but I supervised and I'm pretty sure I did it all right.  Figured I'd let you go over it before putting it in the books or mailing anything out.” He explained, knowing how seriously she took her work and knew if there were any errors, she'd find them.  That would quicker than her having to fill out all that boring paperwork at any rate.

I'm running the desk today so if you need anything holler.  Nick is downstairs with Mark.” He smirked slightly, having informed Mark that he couldn't be downstairs today; he was having sinus issues and kept sneezing, not something to be doing around bodies that were supposed to be made to look presentable, not snotty.


“Thank you, Randy.  It was very thoughtful of you.” Madisyn set the papers to the side, staring back at him with sparkling blue eyes of her own with a gentle smile spreading on her face. “And thank you for the basket, that was incredible.”


Lowering her eyes to the paperwork, Madisyn began looking over it, impressed with how well Nick had filled it out along with Randy's supervision.  So Mark had to train a new apprentice after all eh?  Madisyn loved getting her way and chuckled as Randy disappeared from the doorway, the phones beginning to ring.


Mark was not happy with it.  Nick knew what he was doing, but was so goddamn nervous that he kept making mistakes that even Randy had managed to avoid.  He knew it was before Nick thought he was dangerous, semi-psychotic and evil; he wasn't about to disillusion the man, but this business and what he did was his pride and joy. “Stop, stop.” He ordered, holding out a hand before Nick could do something completely irreversible to this poor young woman's corpse. “Am I making you nervous?”


Nick nodded.


He pinched the bridge of his nose and then immediately winced, cursing.


When it was break time, Madisyn watched as Nick practically FLEW out of the front door of the funeral parlor with Mark following, her eyes instantly going back to the paperwork, wincing at her hand.  She managed to bandage in a way that would allow her to write for the most part, hating the fact she'd used her writing hand in order to sock Mark right in the face.  She didn't regret doing it, the fingerprint bruise on her arm proof that he deserved it.  She wore a short sleeved white blouse since today was supposed to be in the 90's along with black Capri’s.


Randy was mildly curious about what the hell THAT was about with Nick and Mark, but...he was also starving and he had a sub in the kitchen fridge that was hollering at him to come pay it some attention.  So with that in mind, he headed for the kitchen, halting and then went to the office.  He knocked once, poked his head in for the second time.


“Hey Madisyn, you hungry?” He asked, trying to remember if he had ever seen her eat.  People had to eat.  Especially women, he had seen women go nuts from dieting or not eating enough because they didn't want to look like a pig.  Factor in the PMS. “I got a sub.” Randy offered with a grin.


“Busy.” She grunted, rubbing her temples because these numbers weren't making sense, sighing heavily as she took the calculator tape off, tossing it away. 


Something wasn't right with the numbers, Madisyn began letting her fingers fly across the calculator keys, looking down at the numbers and hoped Randy just went away before she threw the machine at him.  Then again, he had been sweet to send her that basket...Madisyn growled, needing to focus and tossed a piece of paper behind her in the trash, continuing the book keeping.  Randy knew he was pushing his luck, but he went over to stand behind her desk, ignoring the warning growl.  Peering over her shoulder, he ran a finger down the column before tapping a line with an outgoing expense.


“You got billed twice for the same item.” He said after a moment, shrugging when she looked up at him. “I like numbers. I'll get out of your hair.” Randy headed for the door, hoping nothing came flying at the back of his head.  He liked it where it was on his shoulders.


Why hadn't she seen that?  Madisyn was never great with numbers, wondering how the hell this business hadn't floundered yet. “Randy, wait.” She rubbed her tired eyes, leaning back in her chair and crooked her finger at him to walk back over to her, their eyes locking. “Thank you for your help.” She took his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze, flashing him a quick smile before releasing it. “And if you wouldn't mind, I'm in the mood for Chinese so...” She handed her card over. “I've already placed the order, make sure they don't forget the sweet and sour sauce for Mr. Calaway or he'll have your head.”


“Yes, boss.” Randy replied, saluting her and pocketed the car, walking out.


Mark and Nick were both out in the parking lot, each of them needing a cigarette.  Nick was a smoker, Mark hadn't smoked in years, but...all things considered, it was either drink on the clock or this.  He arched an eyebrow when he seen Cena come out of the building whistling. “What the fuck are you so happy about?” He demanded irritably.


“I'm not allowed to be in a good mood?” Randy demanded, opening his car door.


“Where are you going?”


“Madi-I mean Miss Simon, asked me to go pick up lunch.” Whistling he shut the door after getting in.


“Yes I understand that, thank you very much for cooperating with us.  Your business is much appreciated.” Madisyn stated, nodding and taking a few side notes.


Madisyn hung up the phone, the money from the double casket they didn't order was going to be put back in the company's account, which would put them exactly where they needed to be financially.  Her back was to the door and she'd pulled her hair back in a messy bun, a few tendrils framing her face and resting on her neck since it was layered.  She typed in the system, grimacing at her hand, wondering how long it would take to heal.


He did not like the flash of guilt that raced through him when he seen her bandaged arm, standing in front of the desk, which was now behind her since she had been turned in her chair facing away from the door.  But why the hell should he feel guilty about her hurting herself when punching him?  Then he seen the bruises on her arm, knowing they were from him, and knew he deserved that spurt of guilt.


“Can we talk?” Mark asked, announcing his presence and was a bit pleased to see her jump in her chair.


Nodding, Madisyn turned her chair around and stood up to walk past him, closing her office door before rounding to face him. “I don't want to fight with you, Mark.” Were the first words out of her mouth and Madisyn hoped he listened to her, her eyes remaining on the floor. “We'll do things your way, you were right and I was wrong.” That's what he wanted to hear and Madisyn didn't have the strength or desire to fight him on it, slowly lifting her eyes and frowned at his bruised nose, her bandaged hand tingling. “And I'm sorry about...punching you.”


She kept her distance from him in case he lashed out at her.  The woman was irritating him already and was also maintaining a distance, apparently thinking he was going to do something stupid again.  No, he had learned his lesson, his nose was still hurting and he looked like he had walked into a door.


“Bullshit, Madisyn.  I don't HAVE a way.  All I asked was that you leave the actual preparing of the bodies and that work alone, let me make those decisions and let me decide when, if, and who on the apprentice bit.” Goddamn her, she came in and took over the parlor, but now this was about HIS way?  He took a deep breath, calming himself down.  No other person had been able to so easily and thoroughly drive him insane, just her. “How bad is your wrist?” Mark asked, abruptly changing the subject.


“Alright, then I'll leave that part of it completely up to you.  I was just trying to help because I know how busy we're going to get now that the other funeral home is gone.  But we'll do it your way, okay?  There's no reason to fight anymore.”


Madisyn didn't want to be afraid of him, but damn if she couldn't help it, remembering how he'd grabbed her by the front of her blouse and manhandled her.  She'd pushed him over the edge and knew things between them would never be the same again.  Madisyn didn't know what to do and simply stood there by the door, her only exit, trying to stop her heart from beating like a jack rabbits.


“If you want anything else done your way, just let me know...”


“Will you knock it off, Madisyn?  I'm not going to snatch you up again.” For one, he had been sick with himself the night before for his actions.  Then there the fact that she still had her other arm to swing with. “Just quit this...'whatever you want' shit, that's not how it works and you know it.  You're better at handling the paperwork and shit up here than I am, you know what needs to be done, so quit sayin' my way!” There was no middle ground with her!  She had spent her time back trying to change everything to her way and when that hadn't worked and he lost his temper, it was all HIS way. “It needs to be OUR way.”


Madisyn nodded in agreement, knowing he was right and it wasn't just because he terrified her, but it was the truth. “Then you leave the upstairs to me and you handle the downstairs.  If we clash somehow, we need to talk it out WITHOUT getting bent out of shape and hurting each other.” She really felt bad about his nose and sighed, walking over to him hesitantly and instead opted to sit back in her chair, her hand throbbing the more she looked at his nose. “I really want this to work Mark, or else I'm just going to turn over all of C & S to you and go back to LA.  But no more fighting, I can't handle it and I've never punched anyone in my life except an ex-boyfriend who grabbed me like you did and I decked him too, only I knocked out a few front teeth and broke his nose.”


It was good to know that he had gotten off easy with all his teeth and only a bruised nose, Mark thought dryly, not so pleased with the prospect of her going back to LA.  He told himself it was because while he knew how to run the business.  He had absolutely zero interest in maintaining the paperwork and all that crap that went with it, which meant he would do exactly what she had kept insisting would happen: run it right into the ground.


Chapter 12


“I don't want to fight you anymore, Madisyn.” He said quietly, taking a slow step towards her, waiting to see if she would bolt. “I should never have laid my hands on you and I apologize for that.”


“We both lost our tempers and I'm sorry too, Mark.” Her voice was soft and low, watching him kneel down to be eye level with her and hissed when he took her bandaged hand in his own. “It'll heal, it's not broken.” Madisyn assured him, seeing the anguish in his eyes and knew it was probably because she was Jack's daughter, his mentor, and he'd laid his hands on her.  She also had to admit it felt incredible having him touch her again, fighting back a shiver because she didn't want him thinking she was afraid of him. “I didn't mean to punch you, I really didn't...” Tears swelled in her eyes as her voice cracked, looking away from him to blink them away.


“Don't cry, Madi, please.” He murmured, knowing he was going to hell for laying a single finger against her. “Darlin, I won't ever put my hands on you again, I promise.” Mark took her face gently in his hands, turning her back to look at him, seeing the tears.  This was his purgatory. “Madi, please...”


“Hey boss, I brought you back your food, with the extra sauce for...” Randy stopped, staring at the two before him. “Mr. Calaway.”


Mark didn't let go of her like his first instinct had been to do, knowing that would have made him look guilty for something and he hadn't done anything this time.


Tears flowed over his hands as she stared into his eyes, wanting to tell him how she felt, having carried this burden with her for years. “Put it in the kitchen, Randy.” She instructed in a cracked voice, loud enough for him to hear, and could feel her chest constrict tightly at the turmoil in Mark's green eyes.  Without even thinking about it, Madisyn hugged him tightly around the neck, being careful of his nose because she didn't want to hurt him anymore, knowing that had to be painful.  Her entire body shook as she cried harder, her tears soaking his neck, his scent being the only thing that tried calming her down. “I'm sorry...I'm sorry...” She kept repeating, meaning for it more than just socking him in the nose.


Randy rolled his eyes and carried the food out to the kitchen, dropping it unceremoniously onto the table, not really caring if he smashed something.  He had just seen something disturbing.  He had seen love, in her eyes, for Mark.  How the fuck could anyone -especially Madisyn of all people- love that cold, uncaring bastard?  Grunting, he dropped down into a chair and stared broodingly at the floor.


“Shhh, it's alright, darlin'.” Mark soothed, having no idea that there was a very upset Randy Orton in the kitchen, focused entirely on the woman in his arms.  He sat down in a chair, pulling her onto his lap and let her cry, having no idea what she was apologizing for at this point. “Madi, stop, you have no reason to be sorry, for anything, darlin'.  Shhh...”


Not even Madisyn understood her feelings for Mark or why they ran so deep, so strongly.  Oh what he didn't know...Madisyn just leaned against him while he comforted her, remembering the last time they'd been in this predicament, but she was wearing clothing that protected both of them.  She was an emotional wreck and was sorry for her father, sorry for punching Mark, for not admitting how she truly felt and anything else that she might've done.  She wanted Mark, why was it so hard for her to give into her feelings to him?


‘I don't want to be rejected.’ She thought, her heart breaking at the thought of him telling her that they'd be better off not mixing business with pleasure or staying friends would be wiser, something along those lines.


He had always wondered why she felt like she couldn't say what was on her mind to him, now Mark knew.  Because of his temper, because he was capable of hurting her, just like he had done yesterday in a fit of rage.  After a few more minutes of soothing her before gently setting her on her feet, Mark reached for the box of tissues on the desk, holding them out to her quietly.


“You should try to eat some of your lunch, Madisyn.” He said softly, rising from the chair. He wondered what she was thinking right now, and knew he had forfeited any right in asking the minutes he had snatched her up.


She nodded and watched as he began walking out of her office, Madisyn feeling a wall building between them and felt her heart pound even harder if that was possible. “Mark, wait...” Madisyn swallowed hard when he turned to face her, green eyes full of sorrow as she blew her nose and wiped her tears away, along with her makeup, the words building in her throat threatening to spill out.  She opened her mouth to speak and that fear of rejection instantly took over, the surge of courage she felt moments ago completely vanishing. “There's food in the kitchen for you.  I got you orange chicken with sweet and sour sauce.” As soon as he disappeared from sight, Madisyn stumbled back to sit in her chair, burying her head in her hands.


Mark didn't even bother going to the kitchen, just headed upstairs to his apartment.  The beautiful thing about living on site meant he could rearrange his hours and, as the body wasn't needed today, he was going to extend his break just a bit longer, needing some space away from the woman who he was beginning to realize, held something very precious to him in her hands.  Every time he thought she was finally going to say whatever it was she had been trying to say...she stopped.


Randy was suddenly hungry again, trouble in paradise.


Madisyn didn't eat her food, in no way, shape or form hungry, but planned on taking it home with her.  She stayed until late in the night, feeling drained emotionally, physically and definitely mentally.  Sighing, she closed and locked up the office, shutting off the lights with her Chinese dangling in a bag along with Mark's lunch he hadn't touched either.  Sighing, Madisyn glanced up at the ceiling and contemplated bringing it to him, nodding, heading out and walked around the building up the stairs to his loft.  She took a deep breath and brought her hand up, knocking three times.


There was no answer.  When Mark had come up, he had removed the dress shirt and shoes, and laid out on the bed.  He had been meaning to just rest a bit, get his mind back in order, but had fallen asleep instead.  When she knocked again, the half shut door opened a crack.  He had fallen asleep on his stomach, with his head resting on his folded arms, feet hanging off the edge of the bed.


“Madisyn...” He sighed in his sleep.


Chewing her bottom lip, Madisyn slowly pushed the door open more and stepped inside, closing it behind her gently.  He was sleeping, she felt like a complete idiot invading his space like this, but wanted to make sure he was alright.  Not to mention she had his lunch from earlier, stopping when she bumped into something hard, which was the coffee table.  Sighing, Madisyn adjusted her eyes to the darkness and found the fridge, placing the food inside of it and closed it, hoping he didn't get mad at her for sneaking in to give it to him. 


When she heard light snoring, Madisyn slowly headed in that direction and knew this was Mark's bedroom, treading on dangerous grounds.  She saw the huge figure in the bed and stifled a giggle at the way his feet dangled off the edge, shaking her head.  Madisyn went to turn to walk out and froze when she heard her name, thinking he'd woken up, but when she turned to face him again, he was still deep in his slumber...and he was groaning her name.


Mark was indeed sound asleep, sound asleep and dreaming about her.  Obviously unconscious to the fact that he was being watched, Mark groaned her name again, reaching a hand beneath him to adjust himself.  His face almost pained, he rolled onto his back, his hand slipping down the front of his undone pants, slowly beginning to stroke himself, eyes darting back and forth beneath his closed eyelids, his dream obviously a very good one.  Blue eyes widened in shock as Madisyn's jaw hit the floor, not believing what she was witnessing.  She knew she could walk out right now, but her feet were glued to the floor, her mouth completely going dry.


“Oh god...” She whispered when he actually began stroking himself up and down, the movement not missed by her and Madisyn could feel her body engulf in flames, wondering if he had sex dreams about her often.  When he growled, Madisyn closed her eyes and wanted to touch him, to help him with his current problem, knowing it was very wrong. ‘Just walk out, walk out right now.’ She mentally coached herself and slowly took a step back, hearing her name again, suddenly deciding to take a chance. “Mark...” She moaned out very softly, almost like a whisper, backtracking when that made him pump faster.


Almost impatiently, he arched his hips upward, his eyebrows knitting together and growled before pushing his pants down enough to free his massive erection, unintentionally displaying it to the woman he couldn't know was in his bedroom, encouraging him to continue. “Madi, I want you, darlin'!” He rasped harshly, continuing to pleasure himself.  When he heard her moaning his name again, he hissed his approval, his hand moving smoothly over his cock, lubricated with his own pre-cum.


“I want you too, Mark.” Her mouth was watering at the sight of his throbbing cock as she walked further into the room, standing far enough away to where he couldn't grab her, but wanted to egg him on more. “Oh Mark fuck me please!” Again it was very soft so she didn't disturb his rest, tempted to join him on the bed, but Madisyn couldn't do it.  That would be a whole other level of humiliation and she was taking the chance at getting caught watching him, also being cautious. “I love you Mark, please take me...” There she'd said it and nearly jumped when he an even louder growl escape him, already heading back to the door as he pumped his cock even faster, the muscles in his arm bulging.


When Madisyn whispered that she loved him, Mark was finished.  He bellowed out her name as he came, his hand speeding up as he drew his climax out for as long as possible.  Finally giving himself a few, lazy strokes before letting both his dick and his hand drop.  A few moments later, his eyes opened, his head raising off the bed, looked down at himself and groaned.


“Great…” He muttered, not bothering to move, still feeling the fading tingles of pleasure from his dream romp with Madisyn. “God...what am I going to do?”


Madisyn was on her way back home, having snuck out as soon as Mark released, hoping he hadn't heard her.  She didn't know what to think, wondering how long he felt that way about her.  Had he been having sex dreams of her besides that one?  Madisyn had found out one thing tonight and that was Mark felt something for her, whether it was lust or love, and that was enough to maybe finally come clean to Mark how she really felt. 


Then again, maybe it was all a figment of her imagination.


Mark rolled out of his bed, glancing at the clock and knew he had slept the day away.  Only to wake up after apparently jerking off to a dream about the one woman he would never be able to have, who was terrified of him because he had lost his temper and jerked her up by her shirt like she was some kind of punk.  Not to mention grabbing her arm so hard he had left bruises in the shape of his fingers.  Disgusted with himself, he peeled off the slacks and kicked them aside.  Cursing himself out for the mental slip, he stormed over to the fridge and opened it, spotting the Chinese, which also explained the sudden scent of Madisyn that he was distinctly smelling, glancing down when his cock began to twitch.


“I swear to God, I will shut the refrigerator door on you.” He growled to the silence, slamming it shut, his appetite ceasing.


Chapter 13


A few weeks passed since Madisyn caught Mark in the act so to speak and she tried not acting differently around him, both of them getting back to solid ground around C & S.  She'd hired on Stephen along with a woman named Chasity, who had taken over the reception area.  Mark spent most of his time downstairs because that was his area of expertise and Madisyn decided that was better.  She was trying to get up the courage to tell him how she felt, especially now that she knew he wanted her.


“I'm fucked.” She muttered quietly in her office while typing up a new obituary for an older couple.  They died within three months of each other, the husband going first.  In a weird way, it was very romantically tragic and Madisyn wished she could find a love that lasted for sixty plus years.


“I'm fucked.” Mark muttered downstairs, busy trying to rearrange facial features on a man who had been higher than a kite and decided to pull a Hannibal and sliced his face up before dying from overdose.


His parents wanted it to be closed casket, but they also wanted to see him one more time.  Randy and Nick were down with him, working together on an elderly woman who was to be buried alongside her already three month deceased husband.  He had to bring Nick down to the basement; being the only serviceable funeral home meant they were swamped and it was a sad thing that business was so good due to their business surrounding death.


“I have to tell him, I have to just come out and say it.” She was talking to herself, pacing back and forth in her office, chewing her thumbnail nervously. 


What if he didn't even remember having the dream and brushed it off?  What if she told him and he laughed in her face, telling she was insane, thinking it was one big colossal joke?  Then there was the whole broken heart factor, which Madisyn didn't want to experience, having already felt it once and didn't want to do it again.  She was at a crossroads and LA was looking more promising as the days rolled by, but business had been insane so there was no way she could leave.  She was the one who did the paperwork and handled all of the new clients who came in, but Madisyn was also going to drive herself over the edge with this Mark situation if she didn't do something soon.


“I'm such a coward!” She growled angrily, sighing when the phone rang and answered it, nodding as the daughter of Margaret Satchel began sobbing on the phone to her.


Randy wondered if Mark was aware he was talking to himself or, more specifically, cursing himself out aloud and that they could hear him calling himself 'a fucking moron'.  Not that Randy didn't agree with all those sentiments, but hearing Mark talking out LOUD, and apparently berating himself, that was not something one seen or heard every day.  It also made Randy curious about why Mark was even in this state to begin with.


“I'm going to run upstairs, strain the snake.” He said, arching an eyebrow when Mark just nodded, shrugged and turned to head up.  Maybe Madisyn would know what the hell was going on.


Madisyn had just hung up with Margaret's daughter when there was a knock on her door, feeling a headache coming on, rubbing her temples. “Yeah.” She called out, seeing Randy poke his head in and smiled, pushing all of her personal issues to the side because she had to think about business before pleasure. ‘Fuck me.’ She thought, folding her arms in front of her chest, trying to get Mark out of her mind for more than two seconds. “What's up Randy?”


“Mark.” Randy stated bluntly, not having any idea that she was trying to not think about the man or that 'up and Mark' should not have been used in the same sentence, especially to her. “He's acting weird today.  You have any idea what that's about?” He asked, but now that he looked at her, she looked a little...harried, a bit out of it too.  What the hell was wrong with these two? “You alright, Madisyn?” He asked gently, wondering if she was beginning to crack under all the sudden business they were getting.


“I don't know?  Do I look like that man's keeper?” She snapped, immediately regretting that and held her hand up to let Randy know she was alright, just on edge. “Sorry.”


Why the hell did Randy have to come in here and ask about the one man Madisyn was trying to forget about?  She was frustrated and walked away from him to sit back in her chair, needing to distract herself with something.  Death wasn't doing it for her anymore, maybe she would leave early to snap some pictures of Houston.


“He's probably not enjoying the work load that I warned him would happen.”


“Probably not, but he's been under stress before and wasn't talking out loud saying 'fuck me' or 'I'm a fucking idiot' either.” Randy pointed out, imitating Mark's rough growl only half successfully, aiming to get a smile from her.  Instead, he got an annoyed look, causing Randy to sigh and held up his hands in defeat. “Alright, alright I'm going.” Where was the woman who had blurted out 'I'm on my period', who had been cute and relatively cheery after he had sent her that gift basket and the flowers? “I'll just go...make sure he hasn't talked himself to death.”


Nick was coming up the stairs. “He just sent me packing, I think he needs a second to regroup.”


“Alrighty then.”


“I'll go talk to him.” Madisyn offered, already walking past both men, nodding at Nick. “I'll still pay you for eight hours, so go home and relax.  It's not your fault Mark isn't being...his normal self.” It was because of her, Madisyn was sure of it and turned to look at Randy, placing a hand on his chest gently. “Thank you for telling me.  I'm sorry I snapped at you, just been on edge lately.” She headed downstairs, closing the door and cringed when Mark growled to go away.  Well she wasn't going anywhere, her heels clicking against the hard concrete. “You can send your apprentices away, but you can't do that to me, Mark.” She said by way of greeting, seeing his back was facing her. “Randy came up and told me you've been distracted today and you've been muttering under your breath.  Wanna talk about it?”


“Nope.” Mark replied tensely, inhaling that same scent that had been in his apartment, then busied himself over the body, erasing that scent with ones that weren't driving him to distraction.  When he didn't hear her walking away, his shoulders bunched together tersely. “Madisyn, darlin', I don't wanna talk about it anymore then you want to tell me whatever it is you've been tryin' to say before you stop yourself.”


Which she had done...two, three times?  More?  He couldn't remember, he was just distracted a lot.  That last dream had been more real than any of the others and he admitted to having a dream or two about Madisyn, but she had never told him she loved him before.


Her eyes narrowed when he said that, feeling a little defensive, placing her hands on her hips. “What is that supposed to mean?  There is NOTHING I've wanted to tell you, why do you insist there is?” She jumped back a little when he whirled around, her stomach tightening at the look in his green eyes. “You can't let whatever the hell is bothering you interfere with your job and that's exactly what you're letting happen.” She said in a calm soft voice, not wanting to fight with him. “Just...maybe if you talk about it...” She cringed when he growled, sighing heavily and lowered her head, nodding. “Fine, have it your way, I'm sorry I bothered you.”


How could he possibly know she was hiding something from him? 


Was it that obvious?


Yes, it was that obvious.  When the woman would say his name, stop him from whatever he was doing, then shake her head and insist it was nothing and had in fact done this several times, there was obviously something on her mind that she wanted to say, but apparently couldn't.  And what was bothering him was the fact that he wanted his business partner, the daughter of the man he had respected and admired so much, a woman who drove him absolutely insane with both annoyance and desire until he could no longer see straight. And now, she was a featured star in his dreams. At this rate, he was going to go out and find a woman to fuck, just some nameless face that he could hopefully work this out on.


When he just kept working and ignored her, Madisyn just decided to leave him alone and walked back upstairs, tears swelling in her eyes, immediately blinking them back.  Fine, he didn't want to talk about it and she knew what he was agitated about.  Of course that would be her secret, Madisyn was taking that moment to the grave, no matter what happened from here on out. 


Gathering her things, Madisyn left the funeral parlor and decided to go do some shopping, wanting to cook dinner tonight.  It would distract her and maybe she would clean her condo too, just anything to keep her mind off of Mark Calaway.  Slipping behind the wheel of her Mazda, Madisyn finally let a few tears slip down her cheeks before pulling out of there, her brain and heart both battling over if she should tell Mark how she felt or not.




“Randy, come back to work and pick these papers up.” Randy mimicked nastily.


He had gone home, grabbed a shower and changed into black designer jeans that had fallen off the back of a truck -hey, he might've spent some cash on that basket and the flowers, but that had been spur of the moment- and a fitted white shirt with black and grey skulls spread across it.  Not his usual choice in wear, but he had been hoping to land himself a date tonight since it was obvious he had no shot in hell with his boss.  Then he had gotten the call from Mark that Madisyn had forgotten a stack of forms beneath the front counter that needed her signature.  For some ungodly reason, Mark couldn't go deliver them himself or even call her.


“Yeah, working my ass, probably down there fucking a corpse.” He rolled his eyes as he parked in front of the condo, reaching for the papers. “Randy, deliver these...Randy...Randy...” He snickered, shaking his head.


Madisyn was rocking out to country music, currently enjoying herself while she made homemade Italian stuffed shells, which took around five hours to make when prepped correctly.  She was just mixing the ingredients together for the stuffing when she heard a knock on her door, raising an eyebrow.  Nobody could get in the building without being buzzed in first, though someone apparently forgot to shut the first door downstairs that locked everything up.  She walked over, wearing an emerald green nightgown that went to her knees with spaghetti straps, her hair pinned up on top of her head and answered it, surprised to see Randy.


“Hi...” She didn't know what else to say, blinking, the smell of food wavering in the air as she chewed her bottom lip. “W-What are you doing here?  I mean what do you want?  I mean is everything okay?” Now she was rambling incoherently like an idiot.


“Yeah, everything is great.” Randy replied calmly, glancing at his watch.


Except that he had probably just missed out on his chance to claim a chick at his favorite club.  He really did not like Mark tonight.  His blue eyes widened when he realized what she was wearing or wasn't wearing, trying not to devour her with his eyes.  Randy was a man after all and currently his lower head was taking over his top one.


“That is a very nice color for you.” He commented off-handedly, holding out the forms. “You forgot these apparently and I was...asked to bring them to you.” He was called at home, told to get his ass in gear and get over there, and then told he had to drive to Madisyn's.  Well, at least Randy looked good while playing errand boy.  He inhaled, feeling his mouth watering at the delicious scents coming from her apartment. “I'll let you get back to your date.” He said politely. “I didn't mean to interrupt anything.”


“I'm not...I don't have a date.” Why couldn't she speak clearly and without stumbling over her words around Randy?  Did Madisyn enjoy making a complete fool out of herself?  Apparently so! “I was just cooking and listening to music, trying to forget pretty much everything in my life.” That was way too much information for him to know and Madisyn could already feel her cheeks tinge pink, clearing her throat. “Mark asked you to deliver these...” What a coward!  Madisyn took them and glanced over the paperwork, sighing, deciding she owed Randy something for doing Mark's dirty work. “Do you want to stay for dinner?”


Why yes, yes he did, but Randy also knew better than to impose.  Not to mention the woman was beginning to confuse him.  Off-work, she was a rather cute blabbering idiot and at work, she was a bit short-tempered and snappish.  He knew keeping personal life and professional separate was a good thing, but she did it so well he kind of wondered if she had a split personality.


“No Madisyn, I couldn't, you could probably use some time to relax, especially after everything that's going on at work.” He smiled at her, blue eyes keeping focused on her face, and not how beautiful she looked in that color green or how sexy the way the nightgown clung...Eyes on the face, Orton! “How about another basket?” Randy offered with a teasing wink.


Madisyn laughed softly, which sounded very foreign since she didn't do it often, making her even more radiant because it showed her own small dimples. “You're too sweet, Randy.” She really did enjoy that basket and reached out, cupping his face gently with her hand. “Thank you for bringing the papers over.” Dropping her hand from his face and watching him walk away, Madisyn closed the door lightly behind her with a gentle sigh.  If she wasn't in love with that...Madisyn took a deep breath, her condo smelling of lavender to relax her and went back to cooking, the papers would wait until later.


Well that did not pan out the way he had envisioned it.  Did he smell funny?  Randy raised an arm and inhaled, frowning because he smelled good.  He looked even better; if he could, he would have dated himself.  Maybe.  Any other woman would have said 'no come in, you are so sweet', they would have noticed he was dressed all nice and handsome.  That woman was off in the head.  And then it CLICKED, causing Randy to miss a step on his way down, stumbling down the stairs.


“Well good goddamn...that is...disturbing.” He muttered, glancing back up at her door.


The mutual irritation, the way they both kind of avoided each other unless necessary...Now it all made sense.  But...just in case he was wrong...Turning around, he pounded back up the stairs, banged once on her door and waited for her to open it.  Ignoring the puzzled look on Madisyn's face when she opened it, no doubt thinking he was as crazy as he thought she was, Randy bent down and kissed her.


Being kissed when she opened the door was not something Madisyn had expected and she was too shocked to do anything.  Her hands were up, ready to push him away, but his lips felt wonderful against hers.  Her hand slowly slid up his arm, the other resting gently on his shoulder, returning the kiss. 


What was she doing?! 


Mark was all she could think about, but the moment Randy's lips captured hers, it fueled a fire within Madisyn that she'd managed to keep from raging until now.  Slowly, Madisyn began backing up, the kiss never breaking as Randy went with her, her hand sliding from his shoulder up his neck, feeling his arm wrap around her waist as the kiss deepened just the slightest.  Madisyn had just popped her shells into the oven, but all that mattered at this moment was being kissed like she was wanted and desired, a soft moan escaping her.


Randy used his foot to kick the door shut behind him, knowing she could easily kick him off if he let her recover and regain her senses.  At the same time, she didn't need any noisy neighbors walking past and then deciding to linger and enjoy the show.  She tasted divine, he thought, quickly becoming addicted to her lips, to the way she molded against him, her curvy little body almost liquid in the way it adhered to his.  She was so beautiful and Mark was a fucking fool for not even trying to claim this woman as his.  He slid one hand up her back and into her honey blonde hair, tracing her lower lip gently with his tongue.


Breathing heavily, Madisyn stared deep into his blue eyes, seeing the desire swirling through them, her heart pounding vigorously against her chest.  There was no escape and it felt so unreal that Randy had just kissed her, filled the empty space.  Nothing was like it seemed and nothing would ever be the same again. 


All Madisyn could do was grieve for her father and be heartbroken over a man who clearly wanted her, but was too afraid to say something.  Just like she was afraid to tell him she was deeply in love with him.  Nothing came easy in life, but at that moment, Madisyn just wanted to feel a man's touch, to feel like a woman should.  When Randy captured her lips again, Madisyn melted against him, her body screaming at her to just give in.


She was giving in, Randy could feel it; he could also feel a strong rush of desire coursing through him.  He could not remember ever wanting a woman as much as he wanted her.  She had attracted him since day one, but he figured a lady like Madisyn would never give a regular guy like him a chance. 


Sure Randy had flirted on occasion, done some sweet things, but without any real hope.  And she was wrapping her arms around his broad shoulders, pressing against him as they continued kissing passionately.  His hands moved down to gently squeeze her firm round ass, pulling her closer to him, if that were possible.


She wasn't being fair to him and Madisyn suddenly pulled away, her lips swollen from Randy's kisses, blue eyes wide in both shock and wonder, clouded over with desire Madisyn only thought Mark could bring out of her. “I-I'm in love with Mark.” She said in a rush of words, once again letting her mind run away with her, tears stinging her eyes because she'd finally said it.  She finally told someone besides Trina, having let her hair down so it pooled around her shoulders, framing her face. “I don't...I don't want to lead you on and make you think...something else can develop between us...” What the hell was she saying? “Just walk away, walk out that door right now.  I'm not good for you, Randy.”


Madisyn couldn't believe she was doing this, actually sending a man who wanted her packing, but it was for his own good because she was ruined for anyone else.  Mark was the only man she wanted and it killed her because she could never have him, feeling her knees weaken a little.  Randy already knew she loved Mark; he had figured that out moments ago in the stairwell and then almost killed himself from tripping the rest of the way after that revelation.


“Madisyn...” He had let her break the kiss, but kept his arms around her, refusing to let her step away from him.  Though Randy did move his hands to her hips to show he was giving her his attention and taking her seriously. “Right now, it is you and me and this one single moment.  Nothing has to come of it and you're not leading me on.  I want you.” He told her truthfully, his blue eyes darkened with desire. “And I want me too.”


He was the only man who'd shown her interest since coming back from LA and no matter how hard she tried, Madisyn couldn't deny it.  His hands seared her sides through the thin material of her nightgown, her hands slowly resting on his chest as he lowered his head to hers, hoping he meant what he said. Just sex.  No strings.  Madisyn was in love with someone, but she also had needs that had to be taken care of, her body igniting when Randy's lips caressed hers again.


“Come with me.” She whispered against his lips, taking his hand, guiding him to her bedroom, knowing the oven would shut off of its own accord so her shells wouldn't burn.


In Randy's book, sex and love were not concepts that were exclusive to each other. You could have one without the other.  Madisyn and Mark, apparently in love with each other, neither confessing, no sex.  Him and Madisyn, mutual desire, no love, just sex.  In her bedroom, he intended to worship her body and make her feel like a real woman should…desirable.  Gently, Randy guided her down onto the bed, hovering over her and stared down into her eyes intently.  Once their lips connected again, he knew this one moment would never be forgotten by either party.


Chapter 14


Madisyn was up before her alarm went off, having already made coffee and brought a container of stuffed shells with her while Randy slept peacefully in her bed.  She could NOT believe she actually had sex with Randy!  What the hell had she been thinking? 


Madisyn woke up and saw the naked body beside her, instantly regretting what transpired, but had to admit she felt much better today.  Wearing a blue jean skirt with a wine colored off the shoulder top that had sheer sleeves, her hair was left down, not having time to really do anything with it, white champions that strapped around her ankle making it easier for her to walk.  She just hoped when Randy woke up, he wouldn't be angry with her for leaving, but the business came first as she pulled out of her parking garage, sipping coffee.


Randy woke up feeling very pleased with himself and not surprised in the slightest that Madisyn was gone.  He knew he had to be heading to work too, but first...he needed a shower.  Pulling on his pants, he left her door unlocked and then the bottom door propped while he went outside to grab work clothes from the basket of clean laundry he had done yesterday after work, heading back upstairs to use the shower and maybe get a cup of coffee.


Mark was up, ready to go and fairly certain he had quit talking to himself. “Morning.” He grunted when Madisyn came in, doing a double take. “You look...different.”


“Sorry?” She was taken aback by his statement, looking more confused than ever while holding her coffee and the papers she had to sign off on that Randy brought her. 


Oh god, could he tell that she'd had a one night stand with his apprentice?  Madisyn swallowed hard and turned around, walking into her office and prayed he didn't follow her because NOBODY could find out what happened with Randy.  She already felt dirty for doing it, but the man had kissed and touched her in ways she hadn't been in years.  It felt wonderful and bad all at the same time, especially since they spent the entire night having sex, getting maybe two hours of sleep.


“Christ...” She whispered, turning to her computer and pushed the power button, rubbing the back of her neck.


“I said you look different; well, now you don't.  Now you look as tense as ever, for a moment you seemed relaxed.” Mark observed, tilting his head to the side watching her out of narrowed green eyes, wondering if she needed Prozac. “Everything alright, Madisyn?” He asked, knowing yesterday had been awkward for the both of them, neither saying what needed to be said, instead letting things keep on going the way they were. “You look pale.” She also looked very pretty today.


“I'm fine, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night.  Restless.” She was surprised she didn't blurt out the fact she slept with Randy, needing to push it in the far recesses of her mind.  She screwed his apprentice and actually enjoyed it, which made the guilt build within her even more, especially when she knew he wanted her. “How are you feeling today, Mark?  Have you stopped talking to yourself or do you need another day to have your moments?” Madisyn asked in a rather mocking tone, rolling her eyes when he scowled at her and turned to face the monitor, pushing her hair out of her face since it was angled today for style.  She had to relax and just get to work, her honey blonde hair resting lightly on her back, going past the middle of her back since she hadn't cut it in months.


It was going to be one of those days, Mark thought, rolling his eyes and headed for the door.


“Morning boss and boss.” Randy greeted as he bounced on by, completely unaware that he smelled like Madisyn's body wash.  Though, if he had known, he might have said it was better to smell like her body wash then be covered in the scent of sex...Madisyn sex.  He was in a GREAT mood today.


“Morning Randy.” She greeted distractedly, waving over her shoulder while staring at the monitor, looking a bit confused. 


The smell of mangos permeated the air and that was also Madisyn's body wash scent, something she loved.  Lavender was one of her favorites, but she always smelled of sweet fresh mangos, her scent lingering.  So when Randy passed by Mark, Madisyn didn't notice he'd caught the scent, too busy cracking her neck since it was stiff and began adding numbers on the calculator.


Mark knew that scent very well; he had it memorized, always associating the smell of mangos with Madisyn.  He had always associated some type of heavily scented, men's body wash with Randy because the guy seemed to like smelling strongly.  Cracking his neck, he fixed a smile on his face and walked out of the office, heading towards the kitchen where Randy was making himself another cup of coffee, Nick coming in the back door along with Chastity and Stephen.


“Busy day today, Orton.”


“A full day?” Randy asked with a grin.


“Count on it.”


“Yes I understand, thank you for understanding and once again I-” Madisyn sighed when the call abruptly ended, rolling her eyes. “Send my deepest condolences.” She finished with a mutter, slamming the phone down and leaned back against her chair, rubbing her tired eyes. 


Exhaustion didn't even scratch the surface of how Madisyn felt, wondering where the hell Randy got all of his energy.  Her cheeks flushed at the thought and Madisyn stood up, taking her cup  and went to go refill it with black straight coffee, needing a shot of caffeine.  It was relatively quiet, Stephen and Chasity were planning for a funeral in the morning, arranging things while Madisyn was stuck doing the books since they were bringing in much more revenue lately.


Nick came huffing up the stairs, going out through the back door to the storage shed attached to the building and then came stumbling back in, carrying a heavy vat. “We need more fluid.” He explained when he got some curious looks. “Mark said we're going to be busy today, anybody know if any more bodies are coming in?”


Mark was actually planning on embalming Orton.  He'd even show Nick how to paralyze the guy properly so he was still alive while they did it.  Randy was oblivious to the fact that his murder was being seriously considered, busy with his own work.


“Not that I know of...” Madisyn then noticed how much Nick was sweating, looking like he was scared to death to go back downstairs, frowning. “Nick, why don't you help out in the other room with the funeral arrangements for tomorrow?” She suggested softly, blinking when he actually hugged her, bolting in the other room with Chasity and Stephen, who were busy setting up chairs and little projects. “Mark, what are you doing?” She whispered, shaking her head and took a long swig of her coffee, hoping this gave her more energy.  Madisyn dropped her cup when Randy came barreling up the stairs, screaming his head off and bolted out the door, streaming cuss words.


Mark was doubled over laughing his ass off.  When he had pinned Randy down into a chair and pulled a syringe from his pants pocket, calmly explaining what he was doing to do, Randy began to freak out.  Then Randy realized Mark wasn't messing with him and moved past freaking out to outright terror.  The syringe had been filled with a harmless solution, not that Randy needed to know that.


When Randy had demanded to know why Mark was going to do it, freaking out all the more when Nick set the embalming fluid on the table, Mark had simply told him because he smell like mangos.  Randy had managed to get up and take off running, Nick had already gone back up at that point.  He was going to die from laughing so much.


“Randy, wait!” Madisyn tried stopping him, but the man was GONE. 


Madisyn looked back at the door and narrowed her eyes at the sound of Mark laughing, stalking to the door, taking a deep breath.  She descended the stairs, slamming the door shut behind her and stopped at the sight of Mark doubled over the embalming table in roaring laughter, tears actually in his green eyes.  She simply stood there with tightly pursed lips, folding her arms in front of her chest and waited while he finished his laughing fest.  What the hell was going on with this man lately?  Was he bipolar or something?


“When you're done...”


Mark was still laughing when he turned around, laughing even harder when he seen the look on her face.  Sighing, he reined it in, trying for nonchalance but he could not for the life of him keep the mirthful grin from his face. “Yes, Miss Simon?” He drawled, a hint of teasing and perhaps a little something sinister.  His green eyes were hard though as he took her in, not wanting to think about why she had seemed so relaxed this morning. “Did you need something?”


So it was back to that again...Madisyn couldn't do it anymore and shook her head, tossing her hands up. “Only that you are an asshole for scaring off the only employee who will put up with your ass.  I don't even want to know what you did or why because, at this point, it's hopeless.  Just...I'm going home and don't expect me to return.” She wanted to scream and berate him, but all Madisyn could do was stand there looking completely dumbfounded, gritting her teeth.  Great, they were swamped with work and Randy had bolted out of here like his ass was on fire...Madisyn started wondering when she was finally going to catch a break, heading up the stairs.


“Madisyn...” Mark followed, catching her before she could get to far, merely touching her wrist with his fingers so he didn't hurt her.  He would never physically harm her again, not after last time.  He bent down to inhale her scent, now finding it too sweet, sickly sweet in fact. “May I suggest something?” At her confused nod, his face contorted from polite to angry, something dark and a hint of hurt. “Skip mangos, while it smells fine on you, on was a little much.”


“You...How did you...” Madisyn couldn't even speak, her eyes widening and actually felt her heart plummet to her stomach, tears burning her eyes. 


How had he found out? 


Then it dawned on her that Randy had used her shower more than likely, the man was a cleansing freak and Mark had smelled...her...Madisyn was going to be sick as she yanked her wrist out of his grasp, tensed beyond belief. “Why do you care?” She managed to spit, sounding angry herself, refusing to let the tears fall. “What business is it of yours who I spend my nights with Mark?  Why are you staring at me like I'm a piece of shit when you never ONCE showed me that you wanted me?  No, fuck you.  I'm not letting you do this to me.  I'm not going to feel like a piece of shit just because a man came to my door last night and kissed me and made me feel SOMETHING.” She blinked as huge tears slid down her cheeks, so much pain and hurt in her blue eyes, but Madisyn wouldn't feel guilty for sleeping with Randy.


“I'm not asking you to feel like shit, nor do I expect you too.” Mark informed her calmly, politely. “You're right, I never told you how I felt.”


He hadn't known how he felt until several nights ago, having thought at first it was lust, and now knew it was more than that.  Mark had been too late and too quiet.  But then, so had she.  Every time she had gone to speak to him, she had clammed up, even when he had urged her to speak her mind.


“I have to get back to work, Madisyn.” Mark could see he had made her feel something: hurt.  He wanted, irrationally, to kiss her and make her forget however Randy Orton made her feel, but...she still smelled like mangos, an odor that was irrevocably tied to that moron now in his mind.


“Yeah that's right, walk away from me.  Walk away like you always do and like you always will.  You don't even see it do you?  You don't even see how I feel about you, how I've FELT, for years and you don't care!  You hide behind your work and you don't give a shit that I've been...That I...”


Why couldn't she say it? 


Why couldn't she tell him? 


It was too late.  Madisyn realized and felt even more tears fall as she shook her head, knowing he would reject her in the end anyway.  Maybe going back to LA was for the best, but Madisyn would first hire someone to take over the books and make sure they knew what they were doing.


“I slept with him last night because I know I'll never have who I really want.” Leaving him with that thought, Madisyn rushed up the stairs and slammed the door shut, ignoring Nick, Chasity and Stephen, knowing they would be able to handle the rest of the preparations.  She had to get out of there; she had to leave and go hole herself up in her condo. 


There was no way she could be here right now.


He clenched his fists together tightly, feeling his nails digging into the skin until they broke through it, feeling blood welling under his nails.  Right there was why he walked away, why he didn't say anything.  She loved him, but she could not bring herself to say it.  She expected him to make the first move, and then called him down when he did not, but was afraid to do so herself.  The hypocritical little bitch.  He actually smiled, turned and headed upstairs.


“We're closed, get the fuck out.” He ordered, ignoring their shocked looks.


“But...what if someone...calls or someone...”


“Dies?  Guess what, ask me if I FUCKING CARE!” He roared, green eyes blazing almost demonically.


They ALL bolted at that.


Madisyn's vision was blurred by tears as she slammed her hands against the wheel, the guilt completely crashing around her like a ton of a bricks.  She couldn't even breathe she was crying so hard, her chest constricting to the point where it was giving her chest pains.  She had the perfect moment to say she loved Mark and didn't do it.  Why?  It was pointless because she'd already screwed another man, sobbing violently.


“Goddamn it!!” She screamed, slamming on the gas as she sped back to her condo, her heart shattering repeatedly. 


Somehow, she made it back to her condo and Madisyn flat out refused to leave it, wondering if her photography job was still available in LA.  She would cry herself to sleep, then get up and cry some more, before piecing what was left of her heart back together again.  Collapsing on her bed, Madisyn curled up in a tight ball, having made sure to draw the shades, wanting to be completely blanketed in darkness.


For one very insane moment, Mark was tempted to just torch the funeral home.  Every other damn parlor in the city had gone up in flames, 'dry heat' according to fire departments or 'bad wiring', so why not one because of arson?  But that thought quickly disappeared.  He couldn't do that, this was Jack's place.  Even though Jack's daughter was currently driving him towards insanity, Mark would never do anything to this building. 


It was his home. 


So instead, he settled for ripping the tarp off of his 1984 chopped, white Harley Davidson.  Clad in black skintight jeans and a black leather vest he hadn't worn in what seemed like an eternity along with black boots, Mark pulled his hair back and kept in place by a bandana.  A wicked smirk curved his lips as he revved the motorcycle, then let it roar before speeding down the street.


Chapter 15


Madisyn had no idea how long she slept and honestly didn't care, slowly prying her eyes open with a headache soon following.  She very slowly sat up in the bed and stretched her arms above her head, letting out a loud tired yawn.  Madisyn hated crying herself to sleep, it always left her feeling drained and sick.  Sighing, she slid from the bed and stopped at the smell of mangos, tears instantly burning her eyes. 


With as much energy as she could muster up, Madisyn yanked the sheets and blanket off, tossing them out in the hallway, deciding she would torch them because Randy's cologne still lingered in the air.  Once that was finished, she proceeded to put new fresh clean sheets and a comforter on her bed along with pillow covers.  Finally, Madisyn stepped out of her room to get a garbage bag for the one she'd had sex with Randy repeatedly on.


Mark was sitting on her couch, his long legs stretched out though his booted feet hung off the side, one leg crossed over the other.  One bare arm stretched along the back of the couch, he was examining his free hand's fingernails.  When she halted, he smiled up at her.  It had been a little too easy to get into the building and he had been sitting there for awhile now, bored out of his mind.  He had been tempted to go join her in the bedroom, but...that would not have been a good way to kick off their conversation.


“Good evening, darlin'.” He greeted, his lips curving into a smile.


“How did you...” Why the fuck couldn't she speak clearly around any man?! 


It was going to drive Madisyn up a wall as she stared at Mark in shock, her face tear-streaked because she hadn't had a chance to wash it yet.  This building was supposed to be secure, how the hell had he gotten in here and without her knowing?  Was she really THAT drained that she slept through someone breaking into her condo?  Would that mean anyone else could do the same thing?  There was nothing that could be said between them that hadn't already and Madisyn didn't want to start crying and feeling guilty again.


“Get out now.” She ordered gravely, shakily pointing at the door, not wanting to see him ever again if she could help it. 


“I got in through the front door, a very nice older gentleman let me in.” Mark replied in answer to her unfinished question.  Madisyn was going to have to really work on that bad habit of not finishing statements.  He wasn't a mind-reader and constantly playing the guessing game with her is getting old. “And I don't want to leave.” He informed her, not moving from his spot on the couch, feeling way to comfortable at the moment.


“Well the last time I checked, this was MY place and I didn't invite you over.”


Madisyn stumbled over the blankets and sheets she was at first planning to burn, but the more she thought about it, the more Madisyn realized there was absolutely nothing wrong with what she did with Randy.  It was enjoyable and at least he wasn't a coward, at least he was upfront about telling her how he felt and how much he wanted her.  Madisyn had no reason feeling guilty over sleeping with Randy and didn't give a damn what Mark thought at this point. 


It didn't matter anymore anyway.


“You would have never invited me back over again, not after today.  Don't be a bitch, Madisyn.” Mark said, watching as she did whatever the hell it was she was doing.  Something with her sheets he was assuming from the noises he had heard in the bedroom. “I just came over to talk to you.” Since she had run out on him at the funeral parlor, though...he had been...a little...insane, at the time.  Not that he was apologizing for it.  Or for what he did to Orton, if she even knew yet.


“There's nothing to talk about.  I said everything I needed to say while you laughed like a hyena and stuck your nose in something that was NONE of your damn business.” She couldn't believe the audacity of this man and wanted to strangle him, though Madisyn was smart, she maintained her distance from him. “And I wouldn't be a bitch if you weren't such a bastard!”


Walking into her bathroom, Madisyn ran the water and began splashing water on her face, knowing it was pointless trying to make Mark leave.  The man was built like a brick house, he would leave when he wanted and she despised him for it.  All he had done was make a reference to her body wash, and maybe scared Randy Orton to the point of pissing his pants, which brought an amused grin to his lips, tempted to 'laugh like a hyena' all over again.  Sighing, he pushed himself off her couch and followed her down the hallway.  Quite frankly, they were going to have to come to some sort of agreement to be civil because no work was going to ever get done if they kept running off during the middle of the workday.


“Madisyn, you don't need to make excuses for being a bitch, you seem to possess that trait naturally.” He stated seriously, folding his arms in front of his massive chest.


“You bring it out in me, what can I say?” Madisyn retorted with a roll of her eyes, fighting back from gouging Mark’s eyes out.


Snorting, Madisyn turned the water off and dried her face, which was free of tear stains, not wanting him to see how much pain she'd been in earlier.  Why was he here?  What was the point?  He was cold and cruel, Madisyn could not believe he told her to change her body wash, just because he smelled it coming from Randy! 


What the hell was it his business who she slept with anyway?  He had no right lashing out at Orton just because the man gave her something she desperately needed: Passion.  It was nothing compared to the passion between Madisyn and Mark, but it was still something and she would gladly do it again.


“What the hell do you want from me, Mark?” She demanded, walking out of the bathroom and stepped over the blanket and sheets, heading into her bedroom.


“A pretense of civility.  You don't have to like me or the things I do, but we can't keep fighting.” Mark reasoned, pinching the bridge of his nose.


It was driving him insane, and he did not need any help with that area, he was quite capable of doing it himself.  Actually, this woman seemed to be making it her mission to push him over the edge.  Unable to finish her questions, one minute crying on him, the next letting him kiss her, yelling at him for not helping her with the business, bleeding on him, screwing Orton...Mark was fairly impressed he was so calm at the moment.


“Do you think I enjoy fighting with you?!  Because I have news for you, I can find something much better to do with my time than fight with you!”


He was going to drive her to the brink of insanity, Madisyn simply knew it, or he was going to be the death of her.  She knew they couldn't keep fighting, they had to reach some sort of level plain field, but how could they when he lashed out at an employee because of his own personal problems?  She knew it was unprofessional sleeping with Randy, but damn it he wanted her!  Madisyn hadn't been touched like that in such a long time, her stomach tightening at the thought of what Mark could've possibly done to Randy down in the basement to make him run off screaming like a girl. 


She bit back a smirk and started straightening the clean fresh sheets.  Well that was logic, Mark snorted, leaning in the doorway with his arms folded over his chest, watching as she began remaking the bed.  She had better things to do than fight with him, he agreed.  She could have been having even MORE sex with Orton, or with Clancy, or whoever else she sexed it up with.  Providing it wasn't him because she apparently had no interest in him and he was going to be resigned to dreams of her whispering 'I love you' until he took a drill to his temple.


“So if you have better things to do with your time, why bother fighting me?” He reasoned in a lower voice, arching an eyebrow.


“Because you make me fucking crazy!” She shouted out of pure frustration and tossed a pillow right at him, then another, gritting her teeth angrily. “Because you don't care!  Because you have to lash out at people for absolutely no reason!  It's like I said at the damn funeral home, Mark, why do you care that I slept with Randy?  Why?  He wanted me and gave me what I needed at the time!  So, why the fuck do you care if we slept together or not?  We're business partners and our personal lives shouldn't even be discussed when we're at work and what you did to Randy was COMPLETELY unprofessional and just...GRRRRRRRRR!!” She let the biggest growl out and was tempted to hurl her lamp at this man, not realizing tears had once again began flowing down her cheeks. “Just get out!  GET OUT!”


He had just been bombarded with pillows, his green eyes lighting up with annoyance and when she actually reached for that lamp, he lunged, pinning her to the bed. “Will you quit throwing shit at me!” He demanded in a growl, carefully not to hold her to tightly, but not loose enough to where she could punch him again.  As an afterthought, Mark used his massive thigh to pin her legs down, not needing her to knee him in the balls. “You're the one going on about fucking Orton!  Just stop it, Madisyn!”


“Let go of me, you asshole!!” She shouted, trying to squirm to get away from him, but it wasn't working. 


He had her pinned and Madisyn had nowhere to go, no place to run, but that didn't mean she couldn't fight.  As good as this felt with her pinned beneath him, Madisyn couldn't help feeling hurt and it shined in her blue eyes as she locked them on his flamed green orbs.  It scared her, but Madisyn wouldn't let him break her down no matter what he did, breathing incredibly heavy from throwing pillows at him and screaming.


“Only when you promise to behave yourself…like a lady should.” He said in a condescending tone mixed with a hint of annoyance. “And IF I let you up, you're going to stop throwing your shit at me because, if you don't, I'll knock your ass into next year, understand me, Madisyn?” The pillows, not that big a deal, a lamp...that was just asking for a fight.  He seen the hurt in her blue eyes and steeled himself against it.  Mark had come to talk, she had opened fire.


“Fuck you, I am a lady!” Madisyn shrieked, struggling against him harder.  Mark was begging to be decked again and Madisyn would've done it had he not held her wrists down with his hands, squirming again. “You won't hurt me, not after what happened last time.” Her hand had healed for the most part, though it still had stings of pain every now and then, though Madisyn didn't regret punching Mark in the nose. “Let me go.”


She slowly sagged against the bed and closed her eyes, her energy draining as the tears began cascading down her face.  She loved this man with every fiber of her being, but he made her blood boil and her temper spike with his condescending tone.  He could be a gem when he wanted to be and then he could be an asshole, like now, and make her want to kill him.  If that wasn't true love, Madisyn didn't know what was as her heart began breaking all over again.


He had started laughing at her when she screamed 'fuck you, I am a lady', unable to stop himself because it was ridiculous.  She was a different breed of lady.  Though, when she sagged, he stopped laughing and let go of her wrists, sitting upright though still on her, resting his palms on his thighs.  She amused him, drove him to murderous rages and then had him cooling off.  She could usually manage to make him do all those at once, something nobody else could ever manage.


It looked like she might cry again, only for those tears to start flowing. “Madisyn?”


“Get off of me.” Madisyn whispered, trying to turn away from him as much as she could, but it didn't help that he was straddling her waist. 


He was laughing at her, she could feel it and that just burned her even more, wiping her tears away, feeling completely humiliated.  She hated crying in front of him because he didn't care, it went back to what she yelled at him earlier that day at the funeral home.  He did not care!


“I'm not going to say it again, Mark.  Get the fuck off of me right now.” Madisyn ordered, gritting her teeth and tried in vain to stop the tears from falling.


Mark arched an eyebrow, wondering if him letting her up would be the brightest ideas, admittedly, some of his ideas lately had not been very bright.  But then again...while pulling that stunt with Orton in the long run wasn't very bright, at the time, it had been hilarious.  Moving quicker than a man his size had the right too, he was off her and back at the bedroom door before she could even sit up, waiting for something to come flying towards his head.


She slowly sat up, drawing her knees up and immediately thought better of that idea because she was still in her skirt. “Just...give me a minute.”


Every part of her trembled from both surfacing desire and anger, slipping from the bed to walk over to her dresser.  She wanted to get into something more comfortable and knew he was watching her every move, rolling her eyes.  She slid the huge nightshirt over her head, which was simple black and covered all of her vital parts, pulling her old shirt off along with her jean skirt, kicking them to the side.  She needed coffee and was thinking about putting a shot of Bailey's in it, wiping her face with her hands and started brushing out her hair.


He gave her two, walking down the hallway and back out into her living room, then to her kitchen.  Mark began rifling through her cupboards, wondering if this woman had any real liquor, spotting Bailey's, Tequila Rose, some kind of wine and a few other things that Mark didn’t find appetizing or appealing.  He wasn't leaving anytime soon, they were going to resolve their issues or they'd wind up shacked in her apartment for a very long time, living on delivered pizza alcohol.  He kicked off his boots and shed his vest, getting more comfortable, showing that he wasn't planning on leaving.  Unless she called the cops to have him move, that would just be a new low, even for her.


Walking out, Madisyn wasn't the least bit surprised that Mark had kicked his shoes off, apparently planning on staying for awhile.  She wanted to be alone, what didn't he understand about that?  Sighing and not in the mood to argue, Madisyn simply padded over to the couch and sat down, drawing her knees up, the nightshirt long enough to where it wouldn't show anything.  When he walked out of the kitchen completely bare from the waist up, Madisyn actually slapped her face and bit back a groan, knowing this was going to be a very long night.  She was having some pretty bad thoughts as her mind raced rapidly, resting her chin on her knees while Mark took a seat right beside her.


“I told you, Madisyn, I'm not leaving until we get shit sorted out and find some kind of middle ground.” Mark explained calmly, rationally. “And by middle ground, I actually mean MIDDLE ground.  None of this, we'll do it your way, shit you were feeding me before.  And…”


He was going to have to reign in the jealousy and possessiveness that he had felt when he had pieced together the fact that she and Randy had been together.  He had almost expected her to deny it, but instead she had only confirmed it and that bothered him. But middle ground meant that was none of his business.  If she was interested in that boy when she could have had a man, that was her prerogative.


“And no more violence, from either of us.”


“I already thought we decided that you would handle downstairs and I would have upstairs.” Madisyn closed her eyes and turned her head away from him, rubbing her temples. “We had middle ground until you decided to stick your nose in my personal business and scared off Randy because of it.  So you're the one with issues, not me.  I wasn't going to tell you or anyone because, once again, it's my fucking business.  It was a onetime thing, I told Randy why and he still wanted to sex it up with me.  And I was only violent because you decided to grab me and scared the hell out of me, Mark, so I reacted the only fucking way I knew how.” Didn't they already have this conversation that ended with her in a heaping crying mess?  Well it wasn't going to happen again. “Think what you want, I don't give a damn because I'm thinking of moving back to LA anyway.” Madisyn hadn't made her decision yet, but it was looking more promising the more she thought about it, really missing her photography.


“You're the one who ran out yesterday because you couldn't handle- wait, what?” Mark stopped before he had even reached a full head of steam, having been poised to argue right back at her and then her words sank in. “What the fuck are you moving back to LA for?” He demanded, standing up in order to turn and glare down at her, unable to sit. “There's nothing to think about Madisyn, you belong here in Houston with...with Jack's business.  He wanted you to come home and help run it.” He had been about to say 'with me' and caught himself.


“It's obvious we're not going to be able to work together without fighting and I don't wanna do it anymore, Mark.  I haven't made my decision yet; I'm waiting to hear back from my old job if they still have my position open.” She informed him softly, not looking up at him, trying to stop the tears from building in her eyes as she wrapped her arms around her knees. “Don't worry, I'm not gonna leave for at least a couple more months if I decide to do this because I have to hire someone and train them on the books.  And I'll hand over all of C & S to you.  I miss my photography and...” Madisyn trailed off, wondering how much more her heart could deal with because once again she could feel the sharp shards shattering. “My dad is gone and it's time to move on with my life, it'll save everyone a lot of trouble and aggravation if I just went back to LA.”


Chapter 16


Mark dropped down into one of her chairs, hearing it groan underneath his weight and did not care.  She wanted to go back to LA, he disregarded the fact that she had said she hadn’t made her decision yet.  She was waiting to hear back from her old job.  To him, it sounded like she had made her decision, but was just waiting to know if she would have a job again when she got there.


“What trouble and aggravation?” He stared at her. “C & S has improved since you came back, and the only trouble is this shit between you and I.  We can work that out.”


“Why do you want me to stay, Mark?  I'm driving you to have grey hairs, even you can't deny that.” She tried not to smirk when she said that, ignoring his glare and wished she didn't have to tell him like this. “You can easily run that place with someone else who is more adequate to work with you than I am.  You'll be the boss and you can run that place however you see fit.  Leaving is the right thing to do because I can't keep doing this.  I can't keep...I can't keep putting myself through this...” Trailing off, Madisyn stood up from the couch and walked into the kitchen, pulling her bottle of Bailey's from the cupboard, sighing heavily.


He heard her shuffling in the kitchen, the clink of something being set on the counter, and knew she was probably getting herself something to eat or drink.  A drink sounded about right at the moment.  Grunting, he pulled his hair out of the braid and then raised some of it before his face, looking for the grays, his eyes narrowing slightly.  Mark followed her to the kitchen, watching as she did indeed make a drink.


“You can't keep putting yourself through what, Madisyn?” He asked, having caught that, and this time, she was going to answer him no matter the cost.


“It doesn't matter.” She slammed a shot of Bailey's down, closing her eyes from how smooth it was and then proceeded to make herself a pot of coffee, feeling him standing right behind her. 


The kitchen wasn't that big; it was a simple aisle and Mark was blocking her from leaving it, her back facing him.  She couldn't keep putting herself through the pain of loving him, of wanting him so bad she would give up anything to be with him.  The dream was lust, Madisyn knew it deep down and as much as that pleased her, it also broke her heart because she wanted more.  She'd made a complete mess out of things between them and leaving was the only solution she could see to set it right.  She'd been humiliated enough and rejection would be the final nail in the coffin, one she refused to feel.


“Damn it Madisyn, you are beginning to drive me out of my fucking mind with that shit.  You start to say something; then you stop and say it was nothing, or change the subject, or feed me some bullshit line about how it doesn't matter.  Will you just be straight with me for once?” Mark demanded angrily, reaching out for that bottle of Bailey's and took a very long swallow right from it, needing something to fortify him, calm him, before he put a hole through her wall with his fist. “I am not a mind reader woman!”


“It doesn't matter!  Nothing matters!  It doesn't matter what I say because it's not going to change a damn thing!”


Madisyn whipped around and backed against the counter because of how close he was, knowing touching him would cloud her mind.  Her eyes widened when Mark growled, sending a shiver down her back, his bare chest right in her vision and she just wanted to touch him in every way.  Her body was lighting on fire from the angry passion between them, the raw feeling, and Madisyn couldn't help trailing her eyes up his chest until their eyes met, fiery green on darkening blue. 


Madisyn had to learn how to breathe again.


Like always, she refused to just spit it out, spewing ridiculous notions about not mattering.  And she was distracting him.  Her eyes were almost wild and darkening, even her hair seemed to shimmer with whatever emotions were coursing through her, tempting him to reach out and thread his fingers through it.


“Goddamn it, Madisyn!” He nearly roared, his voice seemingly louder than it was because of them being in the small kitchen. “How do you know if it won't change anything?  How the fuck can you possibly know anything if you are never willing to at least try?!” He gripped the edge of the counter with one hand, his knuckles turning white.


The sheer heat exerting from his huge body sent her heart racing, her body temperature soaring along with her blood feeling like molten lava rushing through her veins.  Once again her mind and heart were battling, telling her two complete different things.  Mark being this close to her was clouding her mind, making her completely breathless, knees weakening.  He always had this impact on her and Madisyn both loathed and loved it all at once.


“Trying means taking a chance and I don't know if I can do it!” She tossed her hands up and turned right back around, gripping the counter as well, the amount of emotion coursing through her overwhelming.


“Stop being such a coward, Madisyn.” Mark hissed, moving so he was standing right behind her, his arms against hers as he gripped the counter as well.  He could smell her now, bending down to brush his nose against her soft hair, feeling her body trembling even though his was barely touching her. “You're brave enough to cuss me out when you think I'm fucking up, brave enough to face me after a very drunken, fucked night, but not brave enough to just say whatever it is going through your mind?”


“I can't...I'm not a coward!”


She still had fight left inside and didn't understand why it was so difficult for her to just tell him how she felt.  There was no way she could say it was nothing because Mark would call her out on it, it was too deep and too far now.  Madisyn could feel his hot breath on her neck, ears and his scent was completely engulfing her.  He was everywhere; she couldn't escape him no matter what she said or did.


“Why do you care what's going through mind?  Why does it matter to you so much, Mark?” Her voice had gone considerably quiet and tense, her stomach now pressed against the counter with how close he was.


“Because...because you get this look on your face; a resolved, focused look, you start to say something and then that look goes away and it's replaced with something miserable and I know you were about to say something important, but then you back away...and it is driving me fucking crazy, Madi.” His own voice had dropped, husky with a hint of a growl. “Now quit changing the subject and just say it.” Mark urged, moving his hands so they were resting on top of hers.


“I'm in love with someone, okay?  I've loved him for years and I can't risk being rejected.  He's everywhere, my thoughts, my dreams; he was even there last night with Randy.  I didn't even cry out Randy's name, I said his and I was completely mortified by it, but I knew it was going to happen.” Madisyn was murmuring the entire time, just loud enough for Mark to hear her, her head lowering in shame at what she was saying. “And this man drives me crazy, he makes it hard to breathe and function.  But I just...I can't live a lie anymore.  I've tried hiding it, that's why I moved to LA with my father because I knew he would never want someone like me.  He's amazing, incredible, strong and the most stubborn man I've ever met in my entire life, even more stubborn than my father was.  And I can't risk being rejected by him because it would destroy me and I'd rather just go on with life having these feelings rather than tell him because it's better living in the fantasy of not knowing how he feels...”


She had finally spilled and it took Mark a very long moment for it to 'click'; a slow, satisfied grin spread across his face.  She loved him, the infuriating little wench.  AND, more importantly, she had called HIS name during sex with that boy.  Well, not more important, but it was a close second.  Mark's grin went full-blown Cheshire cat style, unable to stop it.


“And you never considered that maybe, he wouldn't reject you?” He drawled, unable to keep the smug tone from his voice, but playing along with the 'him'.


Madisyn heard the smugness in his voice and felt another surge of anger course through her, wondering if he enjoyed ticking her off.  She just spilled her feelings and heart out and he was standing there acting like it was no big deal! “You son of a bitch!” Madisyn shouted and whipped around, slapping him as hard as she could across the face, shoving him away from her with as much force as her small body could muster up.  She was angry, hurt and turned completely on that Madisyn had reacted just by the sound of his voice. “Get away from me!” She flew past him to her room, slamming the door shut so hard, the walls rattled; shivering so hard it looked as though her body was suffering convulsions. “I'm so fucking STUPID!!”


Mark could not stop himself from laughing, rubbing his cheek as he followed her to the bedroom.  He watched pictures swaying on their nails, threatening to drop to the floor and reached out to steady a few.  He twisted the doorknob and let himself in her room, knowing he upset her somehow.


“You're supposed to lock it, Madi.” He chuckled, reaching out to pull her into his arms, letting her slap him again. “Go ahead darlin', smack me all you want.” It did not change the fact that he was still amused, still pleased, and about to kiss the anger right out of those delicious pouting lips.


“Why the hell are you laughing?!  I don't find this one bit funny, Mark Calaway!!” She shouted, trying to break free out of his grasp, tears swelling in her eyes.”Let go of me!!  Let-”


When his lips came crashing down on hers, all the fight left Madisyn as she instantly melted against him, gripping his arms tightly.  It was electric and every spark within her body ignited into a full blown inferno.  His lips felt so wonderful against hers, soft and warm, yet rough all at once.  His goatee tickled her skin and forced shivers to flow throughout her frame all over again. 


He was the only man who could get this type of reaction from her, the only man she ever wanted in her life. Madisyn pressed herself against him, wrapping her arms around his neck when he lifted her up.  Her legs instantly wrapped around his, the nightshirt bunching up around her waist as they tasted each other, their tongues dueling in a battle, still fighting each other even though they were both winners.


The best way to shut a woman up, Mark should have employed this tactic weeks ago; it would have saved them both a lot of headache and shouting.  And possibly sexual frustration.  He pinned her to the wall, freeing a hand in order to skim it down her side, feeling the material of her shirt bunched around her waist and then hesitated, pulling away and stared at her intently.


“You''s not...” He arched an eyebrow, taking in her pleasantly dazed look, pleasing another surge of pleasure coursing through him.  Screw it, he resumed kissing her.


It was a rush unlike anything Madisyn had felt before and she couldn't help kissing him with an equal amount of passion.  This kiss wasn't like the one in the funeral home when Madisyn had straddled his lap, trying to find out what was bothering him, on her first night back.  From the moment his lips touched hers, all those feelings Madisyn had stowed away for him came flowing back.  She pulled back when she couldn't breathe anymore, reluctantly breaking the kiss and moaned when his lips and tongue began caressing her neck.


“D-Does he feel the same way?  Mark, stop...” She pushed on his broad shoulders, forcing their eyes to meet, both breathing heavily. “I love him, does he love me too?”


Mark found how she kept referring to him as 'him' rather...cute, but he was never admitting that outside of his head. “Yes, he feels the same way.  I feel the same way.” He murmured, moving to kiss her again only for her to push his head back again and groaned, letting his head drop backwards. “Woman...” He grunted, arching his hips up against her, feeling her wiggling her ass against him almost as if trying to either get away or encourage him, he wasn't too sure at the moment. “You're killing me here.”


The biggest smile crossed her face when he said that and Madisyn's broken heart suddenly mended itself, pressing her forehead against his, running her fingertips over his reddened cheek where she'd smacked him twice. “I love you, Mark.” She whispered, pulling back to pull her nightshirt over her head while he held her firmly against the wall, tossing it to the floor to press her bare chest against his, not wearing a bra. 


Eyes drifted shut as her nipples brushed against his bare chest, the skin on skin contact making her do a full body shiver as his lips once again captured hers.  Her hands ran down his muscular back as far as they could go before moving back up to his broad shoulders, strong arms.  Everything about him was made her want him more.


Muscles flexed and rolled under her palms as her hands explored his upper torso and Mark thought if heaven could be defined by the sensation of touch, then this would be it.  He splayed one hand of his own against her bare back, feeling her shiver against him, almost painfully aware of the fact that her chest was bare against him.  His jeans were painfully constricting, especially when she began tracing the tattoos on his arm with her fingertips, each stroke sending a jolting sensation that ended in his cock straining against the denim.  Pulling her away from the wall, he turned towards the bed, never letting her move away from, relishing the skin to skin contact.


The soft bedding told Madisyn everything she needed to know as she sunk down on it, their lips never parting from one another.  When Mark broke the kiss for air, Madisyn slid her hands down his chest, loving how the muscles rippled beneath her touch, eyes darkened and sparkling with love for him.  Just him.  Her hands moved to the button of his jeans, a wicked smile forming on her lips, unbuttoning them with a flick of her wrist.


“Mmm...” She moaned in pure satisfaction as she next slid the zipper down, that sound soaking her instantly, closing her eyes to relish everything about this moment in time.  Pressing her feet on each side on the waistband of his jeans, Madisyn slid them down his long muscular legs, freeing that beautiful throbbing cock that she wanted inside of her immediately.


When she used her feet to push down the jeans, Mark froze just in case. When she actually pulled it, or pushed it off, he then found that incredibly hot, wondering just how flexible and limber she could be, how in control of other body parts she was.  He finished kicking them off, letting them fall to the floor and bent down to kiss along her collar bone, slowly working his way down, wanting to sample everything about this woman.  They had both been secretly waiting for this for quite some time now; a little more waiting wouldn't kill either of them.  Or if it did, it would be extremely pleasurable in the execution.


Making love with Mark was unlike anything Madisyn felt in her life, finally feeling like the final piece of the puzzle had finally slid into place.  The way he touched and caressed her, the way he took her for his own repeatedly, making her absolutely breathless.  He touched her everywhere, not leaving one ounce of her body untouched, having kissed every inch. 


For hours on end, Mark devoured her body and claimed her, knowing he was erasing every memory of her bout with Randy and it was definitely working.  All she could do was submit and surrender completely to him with a smile on her face, knowing when the morning came; her voice would be incredibly hoarse from screaming his name.  Only when the sun began peaking over the horizon did Madisyn and Mark succumb to sleep, tangled in each other’s arms, both completely spent.


Chapter 17


Mark woke up to a head full of hair in his face, or more to the point, his face was buried in a head full of hair.  Memories of the night before washed over him and a grin crept over his face as he carefully moved away from her, propping his elbow on the pillow and his head on his hand, staring down at Madisyn.  She looked so peaceful lying there, one hand palm upward near her face, her fingers slightly curled with a lazy half smile on her lips.  He idly wondered what she was dreaming about, reaching down to stroke one large finger along her bare shoulder.


She shifted a little when he touched her, a strand of hair falling over her face, but that smile never left Madisyn's lips.  She was completely happy and it showed because she practically glowed, her honey blonde hair framing her face haphazardly from their extensive love making.  Her chest, which had a few hickeys from Mark's teasing, rose and fell in deep slow breaths.  She was exhausted in a very good way and Madisyn honestly didn't want to move, a sigh escaping her when soft lips began caressing her shoulder.


“Mmm...” She hummed, instinctively moving toward him even while sleeping.


The smile still on his face, he smoothed his palm down her arm and then over her hip and up over her smooth belly, feeling her muscles fluttering beneath his touch.  He wondered how long she would remain asleep, still watching her face as his fingers skimmed downwards, caressing her silky skin as he went.  Moving carefully in hopes of not waking her, yet, he inclined his head and began trailing slow lingering kisses along her shoulder, his tongue darting out to taste skin.


Her entire body tingled from his touch every time Madisyn felt it, though she didn't move and her eyes didn't open.  Mark had exhausted her to the point where Madisyn knew even if she wanted to wake up, it wasn't happening.  Not to mention she was having too good of a dream, though she did move on her back when she felt something wet and moist on her shoulder.  Life couldn't get any better than this, though Madisyn's body slowly came alive when Mark began his slow torturous assault on her once again.


Mark could feel her body beginning to respond, rousing itself from slumber, though she seemed to still be asleep.  Either he had really exhausted her the night before, or he just wasn't doing a good enough job and waking her up properly.  With that in mind, his fingers delved between her legs, feeling her thighs parting ever so slightly to give him better access and grinned against her, nipping the back of her neck.


A soft moan escaped her lips as Madisyn gripped his upper arms, her eyes opening and bit back a hiss of pain because she sore. “Mark...” She nearly groaned out, blue eyes flying open when his fingers probed her fully, her thighs shaking incredibly hard from the extensive workout they had and currently felt. 


He had an insatiable appetite and Madisyn definitely wasn't complaining, pulling him down against her, loving the feeling of his weight.  This was definitely the best wakeup call she'd ever received and Madisyn wasn't about to ruin it.  Pulling his face down to hers, they kissed passionately, feeling Mark envelope her in his warmth.


Now that she was awake, he pulled his hand away, breaking the kiss as he brought his fingers to his mouth, licking them clean of her juices. “Mornin' darlin'.” He rumbled, his hair disheveled about his shoulders, green eyes sparkling mischievously. “Get up woman, we're going out for breakfast.” He bent down and kissed her again before rolling away off the bed, heading for the bathroom.  Mark had felt her thighs shaking and knew she was probably a little sore, deciding to give her a few hours to recover.


Madisyn was still trying to wake up and register what happened, blinking a little.  Mark had just...She flopped back on the bed and scrubbed a hand down her face, shaking her head, laughing softly.  She would definitely be paying him back for that later on and sighed when her stomach began rumbling. 


Sighing, Madisyn slowly sat up and winced, cracking her neck, looking down at her body.  There was hardly a mark on her, but Madisyn sure as hell felt it and knew a hot bath would be the ticket to help soothe her delicious aching muscles.  Standing up, she walked out of the bathroom and winked at Mark before stepping inside, turning the water on moments later.


Oh what a wench, he thought, as he watched her draw bath water, seeing the steam rising from the tub and arched an eyebrow.  Maybe he would just send out for breakfast. “Tease.” He growled before slipping back into the bedroom, needing caffeine to start his day properly and drew back on his jeans.  He was seeing a pattern forming, he spent the night, wore the same clothes the next day.  Not bothering to fasten them or pull on any other clothing, he headed for the kitchen, his mind on the woman in the tub.


After soaking in the tub for about a half an hour, washing herself, Madisyn stepped out and wrapped a towel around her, brushing her hair and teeth.  She walked out and headed straight for the bedroom, the smell of coffee causing her to sigh in contentment. “Thank you.” She murmured when Mark walked up to her with a cup, taking it and accepting a sweet kiss from him. “Let me get dressed and then we'll go wherever you want.” Smiling, Madisyn pulled out some clothes, which consisted of jeans and a red form fitting shirt, letting her hair air dry while she took sips of her coffee.  Mark knew how she liked it; she wondered what else he knew about her.


“We might not be goin' anywhere...” He mused as he watched her begin to dress, knowing he was only torturing himself.  Maybe this was payback for what he had done to her, but it wasn't like she had forced him to stay and watch either. Turning around when she began covering those beautiful long legs of hers with denim, he began pulling on the rest of his own clothes, knowing they were eventually going to have to go to the funeral home in order for him to get clean clothing. “Can you ride?”


“Ride?” She blinked at him in surprise, then it dawned on her what he was asking, chuckling softly. “Yeah, I can...ride.” So her mind was in the gutter currently, but what girl in their right mind wouldn't think naughty thoughts with a man of his caliber dressing in front of her? 


They'd have to be either completely insane or lesbian, which she was neither of those things.  Once she slipped her shoes on, Madisyn was ready to go and had finished her coffee, taking Mark's extended hand, lacing their fingers together.  She couldn't believe they were actually here, though something had occurred to her. 


Where exactly did they stand now?


“Well, I know you can RIDE, but I meant a motorcycle.” He drawled teasingly, and then glanced at his arms, arching an eyebrow. “Woman...those nails of yours...”


He clucked his tongue and raised his free arm, revealing a long scratch, trying to remember at what point she had given him that.  Oh yeah... now he remembered, a devilish grin spreading across his face.  They would definitely have to try that one out again.


“I asked because I rode over here and if you didn't know how to ride...” He trailed off, smirking when she rolled her eyes at him and lowered his sunglasses over his own.


“Hey I have plenty of marks from you so I don't wanna hear it.  You can handle it.” She teased, walking in front of him with his arm draped over her shoulder, actually excited about riding with him on his bike. 


She'd only seen it once and only knew it was a Harley Davidson, but nothing else.  Her father didn't believe in motorcycles and forbad Madisyn to ever ride one.  Now that he was gone, daddy's little girl could do whatever the hell she wanted and that made Madisyn grin wickedly, eyes flashing.  They walked outside, the warm sun bathing them and headed to the parking garage, Madisyn watching as Mark mounted the bike with graceful ease.


“Care to help me, big guy?”


“Darlin', all you need to do is swing one leg over, plant that pert ass on the seat, and hold on.” Mark replied, smiling at her to let her know that he was teasing.


He could not recall smiling this much and hoped it wasn't permanent; he did have a reputation to maintain after all.  When she planted her clenched fists on her hips, he shook his head, dismounting and walked over to her.  Easily, he picked her up and placed her on the seat, taking a step back to admire the view.


A beautiful woman on a beautiful bike, his idea of porn.


“Why are you staring at me like that?” Madisyn asked curiously, seeing the hidden burning within his eyes, tilting her head slightly. “Come on, I’m hungry!” She laughed when he growled  and reluctantly walked over, mounting the bike in front of her. 


Madisyn instantly wrapped her arms around his waist as far as they could reach, pressing her lips to his leather covered back, loving how his natural scent seemed to always be a mixture of leather, gasoline and musk.  The motorcycle roared to life moments later, purring beneath them and Madisyn thoroughly enjoyed the vibrations flowing through her body, sighing in contentment.  This man loved her, he actually loved her.  Madisyn felt as though she’d never get off the cloud Mark sent her to, a big smile permanently plastered on her face.


Mark’s lips were curved into a half-smile as he pulled away from the condo, feeling her leaning into him and loved how easy she seemed to find it being around him, which was not something he was used too in any way, shape or form.  Most people tended to be skittish, but not Madisyn…never Madisyn.  At least until that day he had gotten a bit violent with her.  Ignoring the signs advertising the speed limit, he pushed the motorcycle faster and faster, knowing breakfast was in order followed by a day to with just the two of them.


The wind ripping through her hair was exhilarating, something Madisyn never felt before, though she also never rode on a motorcycle either.  Jack was probably rolling around in his grave right now, which made her giggle softly, smiling when Mark's hand covered her own.  Was this really happening?  Had Madisyn really revealed her feelings to him and found out he felt the same way?  If this was a dream, Madisyn never wanted to wake up, slowly pulling away to admire the scenery around them, wondering where Mark was taking her.


Mark took her to a little, out of the way, diner; one of those older places that were becoming scarce, especially in cities as modern America edged out anything that did not conform to the standards that were becoming the norm.  A place that had booths and mini jukeboxes on the tables, cracked Formica table tops and waitresses who were genuinely friendly and not all cookie cutter, young women who all seemed to be replicas of each other.  Mark was a believer in realism and enjoyed the old style atmosphere.  There were old men sitting outside the diner on a bench, one of them reading a paper aloud, the other one scoffing.  After dismounting, he turned to take hold of Madisyn's hand, helping her off before guiding her inside.


Looking up at the old style building, Madisyn couldn't stop the smile that lit her face, making her even more radiant than the golden sun.  It was a small shack on the outskirts of Houston; Madisyn had passed it a time or two, but never stopped in because she had no idea what it consisted of.  It was apparently a down-home diner with incredible food and good company, one of the few genuine that were left over.


“It smells wonderful.” She commented, letting Mark guide her inside the diner with their fingers laced, which felt surreal to Madisyn.  Madisyn never thought this would happen, that she would have the man of her dreams.


It smelled like fresh coffee, burnt toast, cigarette smoke -it was illegal since there was a public smoking ban, he really loved this place- and other interesting smells, most of them pleasant.  Keeping a firm grip on her hand, Mark led Madisyn to a corner booth, pulling her down onto the faded and, in some places, cracked leather seat right next to him. “I'm starving.” He informed her, then ran his eyes over her. “I could eat you, twice.”


“Hey folks.” A middle aged woman with a pleasant smile and chipped red nail polish on her fingernails greeted. “Here’s our menu.” She set down a pair. “My name is Kasie, can I get you drinks to start off with?  Coffee?  Orange juice?”


“Coffee.” He glanced down at Madisyn, beneath the table, running a hand slowly up her thigh.


“Coffee please.” Madisyn tried hard not to blush at Mark's comment, though the roses in her cheeks bloomed brightly, lowering her eyes to the table.  The waitress, Kasie, grinned before walking away to get their drinks, leaving them alone for a moment. “Behave yourself.” She chastised softly, placing her hand on his and leaned her head against his shoulder, her hair wind-blown, though Madisyn didn't care.  She was just as hungry as Mark was, having felt her stomach rumble three times on the ride here.


“Behaving is boring, Madi.” Mark replied, keeping his voice at its normal level, smirking when she rolled her eyes; though he did bring his hand up onto the table, draping the other over her shoulders. “Any idea what you want?” He asked casually, considering the pancakes smothered in strawberries and whipped cream, then gave her a thoughtful look, wondering if he could convince her into letting him deck HER out in strawberries and whipped cream.  His stomach growled, reminding that he needed an actual meal before skipping to dessert.


“Everything sounds really good...” She trailed off thoughtfully, ignoring his behaving is boring line, not able to disagree with that. 


Madisyn behaved for far too long and was glad she finally took the leap, after a major fight that followed with mind-blowing sex.  Madisyn could still feel his hands on her body, their cries of passion echoing in her mind, a delicious ache between her thighs ensuing.  Mark was going to become her new addiction and Madisyn honestly didn't it any other way, grinning when she finally found what she wanted.


“I think I'll have the strawberry stuffed French toast platter.” Madisyn finally decided, nodding and set the menu aside. “It sounds too good to pass up.”


“Sounds good, darlin', I'll have the same with a side of hash browns, a dozen slices of bacon and four eggs over easy.” He said, smiling at the waitress -Kasie- who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere. “Got all that, honey?”


“Sure do.” She rattled off their orders, glancing down at their mugs. “I'll bring a pot over.”


His mug was rather low; Mark drank coffee without realizing it.  That was an indicator it was time to switch drinks.  When Kasie had wandered off to the kitchen to place their order, he glanced down at Madisyn, seeing the look on her face.


“What?  Darlin', I'm a...large man, with a large appetite.” He winked down at her, wondering just what would have jack thought about them being together.


“I know, I'm not surprised.” Madisyn giggled softly, wondering why he was justifying to her what he ordered. 


Chapter 18


He stood at nearly seven feet and weighed close to three hundred pounds, most of it being solid muscle.  He was extremely fit and had the most amazing body she ever saw.  The sheer power he held within had sent shivers down her spine the previous night during their love making, how he held her in positions with one arm, saying she weighed as light as a feather.  Truth be told, Madisyn did have a curvy body, but she also took care of herself and ate right, knowing it would come back later to bite her in the ass later in life if she didn't.


“What are you thinking about?” Madisyn asked, seeing the thoughtful look on his face, arching a brow.


“I'm thinking about eating, leaving, swinging by a store, taking you back to your place, taking you to bed and then covering you in strawberries and whipped cream.” He said bluntly, his green eyes practically devouring her whole as, yet again, the image of her naked, sprawling against her sheets and looking very delectable filled his mind.  He already knew exactly where he would start with her too, groaning as the front of his jeans suddenly became too tight. “Woman, you're really messing up my mind.” He half-teased, finishing his coffee just to distract himself.


“Stop it!” Madisyn gasped with wide blue eyes and touched her now flaming cheeks, elbowing Mark when he started laughing at her, overheating. 


That's exactly what this man did to her, made her overheat and her brain fuzzy so she couldn't think straight.  He wanted to cover her in strawberries and whipped cream...Madisyn knew she looked like a damn strawberry right now and bit her bottom lip when the waitress came over with the fresh pot of coffee, mumbling a 'thank you', not able to look at her right now.  Maybe going out to eat in public with Mark wasn't the best idea.


“Not a problem.” Kasie said cheerfully, arching a curious eyebrow when she seen how red the woman was. “Is everything alright miss?  Should I get you a glass of water?”


“She's fine, just a little warm.” Mark said with a grin, his eyes sparkling with amusement. “Kasie, can I get you to do something for me, honey?”


She nodded.


“When you bring out our order, send out the whipped cream, we like a lot of it.” He winked at her, stifling a chuckle when she suddenly giggled, turned red herself and headed back to the kitchens.


“Mark Calaway!” Madisyn couldn't believe he just said that, her mouth dropping open and shook her head, groaning while burying her head in her hands. “I can't believe you just said that...” She mumbled when he pulled her closer to him, knowing her cheeks would never return to the same color again, elbowing him harder. “You suck.” Taking her own cup of coffee, Madisyn was tempted to splash in Mark's and refrained, simply sipping it with cherry cheeks.


“I also nibble, lick, and-”


When she raised her mug as if she had every intention of splashing it in his face, Mark quit, deciding discretion was the better part of valor and busied himself with looking around at the other patrons.  A few glanced at them, obviously wondering about the mismatched pair.  The beautiful woman with the apple red cheeks and the large heavily tattooed man who couldn't keep himself from grinning wickedly. 


He had never been ashamed to say what was on his mind, usually it just involved telling people to fuck off or he'd embalm them.  When Kasie walked back out with their food and the extra whipped cream, Madisyn's cheeks were fairly normal again, immediately flaming up at the sight of the whipped cream Mark specifically requested.  She shook her head and proceeded buttering her French toast before digging in, groaning at how great the food was. 


She hadn't had a big appetite lately with everything going on, so it was nice to just sit down and eat a healthy meal that happened to be her favorite of the day: breakfast.  No words were spoken as they both ate their food in companionable silence, Madisyn thinking back to the funeral home and knew they would have a large work load once Mark decided to reopen it.  Madisyn was going to try having it done as soon as possible, knowing they were one of the few left with all of the other ones catching fire lately.


Food kept him from harassing her anymore, for now.  Mark occupied himself with eating, and watching her eat.  He just liked to watch her period.  When she looked at him quizzically, he just smiled innocently and added extra whipped cream to his plate of French toast, ignoring the huff he got in return. 


Riling her had always been fun, now it would be even more entertaining because he knew eventually where it would lead.  Though...his eyes dulled a bit as he thought about their new relationship, wondering how that was going to affect their work relationship.  As coworkers, co-owners, they weren't exactly a stellar pair; they butted heads frequently.


Madisyn had the same thoughts running through her head as she took another bite of food, once Mark stopped studying her, wondering what he was thinking.  Only she thought being in a relationship would him would make things easier because maybe they wouldn't collide as often.  He had the downstairs to run, she had the upstairs; there was no reason why they couldn't work and date at the same time. 


If Madisyn had to, she would simply give up her half of C & S to Mark just so they could be together, refusing to lose him.  Even if Jack was still living, Madisyn had a feeling Mark would've found his way to her eventually or vice versa, knowing deep down her father would've been glad they were together.  He always thought highly of Mark, so why he would be angry for his daughter dating his apprentice was beyond her. 


Sighing gently, Madisyn took a sip of her coffee and continued eating, trying to get her mind on something else.  Mark finished before she did, practically inhaling his food and then resumed his Madisyn watching.  Noting the change of expressions going across her face and through her eyes in rapid succession, Mark wondered how a person could go through so many all seemingly at the same time.


“What's on your mind, darlin'?” He asked gently, refilling his own mug and then adding creamer to it, stretching his long legs out comfortably.  It looked like she had been thinking about Jack, she seemed to always get this…look when she spoke about the man and it was on her face now. 


“Just thinking about how my father would feel if he knew we were together.  I mean here together, not a relationship because we haven't established that.  I mean...oh hell!” She groaned, knowing she was stumbling over her words again, sighing when Mark pulled her face until their eyes met again. “What I meant is-”


A soft moan escaped her when Mark's lips descended on hers, instantly twisting her body to wrap her arms around his neck, burying her fingers in his long black tresses that were currently pulled back in a low tail.  This man made her crazy and she couldn't think clearly, which was a beautiful euphoria.  Though, Madisyn also knew she probably just inserted her foot in her mouth again.


The woman had a rambling problem; he had noticed it before, but it seemed to get even worse when she was around him.  He had already discovered that kissing her was a very effective way of shutting her up, a tactic he thoroughly enjoyed employing.  When he felt she was probably dizzy, breathless and likely to remain quiet for a minute or two, he pulled away, pressing his forehead to hers.


“ Jack would have been happy for us, for whatever this is between us.” He murmured, threading his fingers through hers. “He wanted you to be happy.” Even if that meant her being with Mark, at least, Mark hoped Jack would have been fine with it.


It wasn’t like he could ask the guy.


“I want it...” Madisyn stopped and took a deep breath, trying to recollect her thoughts, trembling slightly from that passionate kiss. “I want whatever you want, Mark.  If you want it to be just getting to know each other slowly and taking it day by day, I'm fine with it.”


However, what Madisyn wanted more than anything was a relationship with him, wanting him as hers and only hers.  She didn't want him with another woman, refusing to have an open deal because she wouldn't be able to handle it.  She was also leaving the door open for him, putting the ball in his court and secretly hoped he wanted what she did.  If he didn't, Madisyn would cope with it just as long as she had Mark in some fashion.


Mark to take a moment to understand what she was talking about.  He had a feeling she didn't mean she wanted to be happy, which was what he had been talking about, not saying what they were because, quite honestly, he had no idea at the moment.  He knew they weren't a onetime deal and that he didn't do open relationships, he wasn't sharing her with anyone.  And if Randy Orton ever looked at her in any way but a 'you're my boss' type of way, he would gut the little bastard.


Madisyn was his.


Madisyn reluctantly pulled away to finish her breakfast, taking a finger full of whipped cream to sample it, grinning when Mark simply crossed his eyes.  Payback was indeed a bitch.  She giggled happily and spread more on what was left of her French toast, having devoured most if it, glancing over to see Mark had completed his meal already.


“Sorry.” She mumbled, popping a piece of bacon in her mouth. “I'm a slow eater.” There really was no rush, though Madisyn had a feeling Mark wasn't done with their festivities for the day, wondering what else he had in mind besides the strawberries and whipped cream.


“We've got all day, darlin'.” He replied, leaning back in his seat in order to watch her, reaching out to swipe a bit of her bacon, smiling slightly as he popped it in his mouth and then licked the grease from his fingers. “When we're done here, I want to go swing by the parlor and get some clean clothes.” He figured she would not want to crash at his place, simply because he did live over the funeral home.  Some people found it a tad bit…disconcerting.


“Sounds good and, just so you know for future reference, I don't mind staying at your place.” Madisyn smiled as she finished her food, kissing his lip softly and slid out of the booth, taking his extended hand again. 


Amazed at how well their hands seemed to fit together, Madisyn walked with Mark over to the register, paying Kasie for their food and promised to be back soon.  It was simply too delicious not to come back.  The warm air assaulted her as they walked out and Madisyn released Mark's hand, waiting for him to mount the motorcycle before hopping on it herself without his help, once again wrapping her arms around his waist.


“I love you.” Madisyn whispered just as he kick started it, eyes drifting shut as they headed on the road.


Mark had heard that, barely, and smiled slightly.  He had always known he cared about her, intensely, but he hadn't given thought to it being love until recently.  That had seemed a bit like an alien concept to him.  As for her being fine with staying at his place, that was great, but he still preferred hers.  No phone calls in the middle of the night to wake him up.  As he pulled away from the diner, feeling her resting her head against his back, his mind drifted back to her words.  She loved him.  He felt a smile spreading across his face, never tired of hearing that.


Making a mental note to go on more rides with Mark in the near future, Madisyn reluctantly hopped off once they arrived at the funeral home, seeing how...dead it looked.  There were no lights on, nobody coming and going planning for their loved one's demise.  It was...unnerving to put it mildly, but Madisyn decided they both deserved a day off to recuperate.  So much had happened since her return and, now that she knew how Mark felt, Madisyn honestly didn't mind taking a day to fully explore with him.  They headed up to Mark's loft and Madisyn stepped inside, remembering the last time she'd been here and felt her cheeks redden instantly.


“No, no don't think about that now!” She mentally chastised, moving into the kitchen in order to avoid Mark until her cheeks returned to normal.


Mark had his back to her so he didn't see the apple stains spreading on her cheeks, busy stuffing clean jeans, tops and everything else into an old duffel bag.  When he turned around, he found her staring very intently at a poster of a beautiful white Titan and a beautiful model sprawled on top of it.  He arched an eyebrow, walking over to stand behind her, considering the poster.


“You would look gorgeous like that.” He finally stated, devouring her once again visually.


That would be the perfect time to blush and that's exactly what happened, causing Madisyn to bite her bottom lip. “Thanks, you about ready to go?” She asked, turning to face him, knowing her secret would stay hidden because Mark would instantly think she was blushing from his compliment.  A gentle sigh escaped her when he bent his head to brush his lips against hers, Madisyn instantly melting against him, curling her hand around his neck again. “Maybe I'll take a picture like that for you one day...if you're good.” She winked, walking past him and out the door.


Mark considered that, cocking his head as he watched her walk away, the way her hips gently swayed with each step and smirked, wondering if she'd consider doing a private session with him as the photographer.  Letting out a loud wolf whistle, he followed her out the door.  In the parlor, he stopped and looked around, trying to remember the last time he had closed the place down two days in a row.  He couldn't even remember Jack doing the same thing, shaking his head, knowing Madisyn had corrupted him officially.


“We'll open it tomorrow, but it's a beautiful day and I don't want to spend it around dead people.” Madisyn stated, hoping Mark agreed with her as she stood near the Harley, smirking as a wicked gleam came over her blue eyes. “So about this picture deal, you'd want me in a bikini I'm assuming?” When he simply stared at her, Madisyn slowly mounted the bike, bending over a little so he could see down her shirt. “Like this?  Or...” Trailing off, Madisyn leaned back and propped her foot up on the seat, her beautiful honey blonde hair hanging freely, thighs spread a little. “Like this?”


Growling, he moved forward and jerked her off the motorcycle, pulling her up until her legs were wrapping around his waist, his hands moving to cup her beautiful round ass. “First of all, woman, no bikini, I can think of other things to see you in...or without.” He was partial to nude. “Second, don't be putting your shoes on my seat or I'll turn you over my knee and...” He lightly smacked her ass, teasing her; though when she thrust herself against him, he groaned, burying his face in her neck. “You don't play fair, Madi.”


Chapter 19


“That's what you get for saying you're put me over your knee, which I would fully enjoy because it involves your hand on my ass.” She grinned, giggling when he groaned more and began kissing his neck softly, knowing they definitely were making up for lost time today. “I'll find something really special to wear for you if I decide to do it.”


Madisyn was already planning on it, having a friend in LA named Aly and she had her own photo studio.  Aly traveled frequently to locations for her photo shoots, wanting to put everything she had into them.  So Madisyn asking her to come to Houston for a special photo shoot wouldn't be a problem.  Mark could only imagine what this wickedly devious woman considered 'special' and suddenly got an image of her wearing leather, maybe some delicate silver chains.  That, in turn, sent a shudder tearing through his body, glad for the tight jeans because they kept his now throbbing cock in place.


“Fuck're putting thoughts in my head...” He murmured, slowly letting her down until her feet hit the ground. “Come on, let's get out of here, before I pin you against the building and fuck you senseless.”


Giggling innocently, Madisyn hopped back on the bike and blinked when Mark mounted her from behind, looking over his shoulder with wide blue eyes. “What are you-” She felt him take her hands and placed them on the handlebars, his hands covering hers. 


When he whispered in her ear to just lean back, Madisyn couldn't help obeying and did as he requested, her back pressed against his warm chest.  She jumped slightly when the bike roared to life, a totally different feeling than riding in the back and Madisyn had a feeling Mark was doing this to get his mind off of whatever X rated thoughts raced through his mind.  When they started going, Madisyn took a deep breath and closed her eyes, hoping Mark did all the steering.


So long as she didn't wiggle back or some shit, they would be fine.  He could focus on something other than those impending pictorials and enjoy this ride with her, in a nonsexual frustrating way.  At first he did do the steering, but when it seemed like she was relaxing back into him, he would let his grip go slack, forcing her to maneuver the Harley, laughing when she let out a curse.


“Come on, darlin', nothing sexier than a woman who knows how to handle a bike.” He rumbled in her ear, urging her to take a chance.


This man was out of his mind! 


What the hell was he thinking letting her ride this beautiful motorcycle?! 


Madisyn knew she couldn't freak out and gripped the handlebars, maneuvering it with somewhat ease.  She didn't know what the hell Mark was doing and didn't dare look behind her, wondering if she was doing everything right.  When he murmured in her ear how to steer and stop at lights, Madisyn did it with surprising control, blinking, shocking herself more than anything.  She squealed when she stopped the bike just outside her condo, trembling from the sheer exultation, slowly releasing the handlebars as he reached over to shut the motorcycle off.


Just in case she was a little ticked off at what he had done -honestly, it wasn't that bad, just gave her a basic run down on how to drive a motorcycle- Mark quickly dismounted and left her sitting, waiting to see if she was full of piss and vinegar. “You alright, darlin'?” He asked, studying her flushed cheeks thoughtfully, bending down so he could see her eyes.  She looked excited and maybe a little nervous, though that was fading, and she was shaking. “Madisyn?”


“I'm fine, I just...I need a minute.” That was a pure adrenaline rush, which is why Madisyn was currently trembling from the top of her head to the tips of her toes.  She slowly slid from the bike and right into Mark's awaiting arms, her thighs shaking a little from the intensity of that moment. “I rode a motorcycle...”


Madisyn was in disbelief and let him guide her to the door, pulling her keys out and unlocked the door before walking inside.  They walked inside her condo with Mark's arm still around Madisyn.  As soon as Mark released her, Madisyn whipped around and pulled his face down for a heart-stopping, soul-searing passionate kiss, pouring everything she felt into it.  While she had his lips captive, Madisyn unzipped her jeans and shoved them down her pants, almost growling against his mouth as she unclasped his vest, sliding it off of his massive arms. 


Learning how to ride a motorcycle, let alone ride, set her blood on fire and Madisyn was more turned on than she ever remembered being, already feeling them backing up toward the bedroom.  Given that she had just said 'I rode a motorcycle', Mark was figuring today was her first time on one, not surprising since she had needed helping mounting it.  He also gathered that she was incredibly turned on by the fact that she had just driven the Harley, smirking as he filed that little tidbit away for a future time. 


Promising himself that more motorcycle riding was definitely going to be in their near future, his hands ran all over her curvaceous body.  Growling, he bent down to cup her face in his hands after his vest had been pushed down his arms and to the floor, returning her passionate kiss with fire of his own.  Madisyn had no idea what came over her, but something about the way the motorcycle vibrated her entire body, the fear mixed with exhilaration, the sheer adrenaline rush...It was all of those combined that made her want to toss Mark on her bed and have her wicked way with him. 


“I'll be right back, don't you move.” Her eyes were a darkened wild blue, her hair framing her face haphazardly as she exited the room to grab something.  A few seconds later, Madisyn appeared in the doorway stark naked, having removed her top and bra, waving a can of whipped cream with a batch of fresh strawberries, licking her lips hungrily. “I do believe you had the perfect idea back at the restaurant.”


He had moved; he had moved to sit on the end of the bed while she was doing whatever it was she had been doing.  He had also unfastened his jeans.  His green eyes darkened to a deep, lusty forest green when he seen what Madisyn was carrying and that she had done him the favor of removing her clothing.  Who the hell was this woman and where had Madisyn gone?  His mind was going wild with some deliciously wicked ideas as he crooked a finger at her, the corner of his mouth curving up into a smirk.




Hours later, Mark and Madisyn just lay in bed with an empty can of whipped cream beside them along with the tub of strawberries half gone, kissing softly.  She still had whipped cream on the side of her mouth from doing a rather...unexpected deed, remembering how Mark's green eyes widened to the size of saucers.  Her breasts were now merely smeared with whipped cream and she even had some in her hair, though Madisyn definitely wasn't complaining, loving how this man hovered over her. 


She had her fingers buried in his hair, his arms on either side of her, stroking her face tenderly with the back of his fingers while they came down from their sexual high.  No matter how hard she tried, Madisyn simply couldn't pull away from his lips, moaning uncontrollably, her legs bent up and thighs spread so Mark rested comfortably in between.  Until his heart rate returned to normal, Mark wasn't moving an inch.


Kissing Madisyn while cooling down suited him just fine, though he was careful not to entirely crush her, knowing that would be detrimental to HER recovery.  Eventually though, they were going to have to get up and shower and consider changing the now very sticky sheets.  Smirking as his tongue darted out to lick a smidge of cream from the corner of her lip, Mark wondered how he missed that.


“Delicious.” He purred huskily, nuzzling her neck.


“Mmm so are you.” She whispered, swiping some cream off of his chest to pop it in her mouth, knowing they were incredibly sticky, not even caring. 


This would definitely going down as one of Madisyn's all time favorite sex occurrence, her first being watching Mark pleasure himself while dreaming of her.  Nothing would ever top that in Madisyn's mind.  She smiled, rubbing her nose against his and kissed him softly again, giggling when he simply growled down at her.


“I didn't realize motorcycles could give a person such a...high...” She didn't know what else to call it, sighing when Mark finally buried his face in her neck, giggling as he began blowing raspberries against her. “Mark!”


He loved the sound of her giggling.  It was almost his favorite, beaten marginally by the sound of her screaming his name, which she had done just moments ago repeatedly.  Laughing, he pulled away from her until he was kneeling on the bed and then dragged her up until they were chest to chest.


“Think that shower of yours will hold both of us?” He asked huskily, his eyes moving down to her breasts which were still sporting some of that whipped cream.  Without waiting for her answer, he bent down and began suckling and nipping at her.


“Damn not if you keep that up...”


Her fingers instinctively went to his hair, tilting her head back while he suckled on her full breasts, her heart rate accelerating rapidly, loving how he completely devoured her.  He paid the better part of the first hour just on her breasts alone, teasing and tormenting her to the point she actually came from how much ecstasy coursed through her body.  They were red from his goatee scratching against them, but Madisyn didn't care, shivering from the contact as she pressed herself against him further, in no hurry to get to the shower.


Mark cared though, he had whipped cream sticking to places it had no business being stuck, wondering just how in the hell it had gotten there.  Still worshipping her breasts with his mouth, he pulled her up into his arms and managed to get them off the bed and in a standing position.  He laughed huskily when her legs wrapped around his waist.


“We're getting a shower, Madi, and I'm going to scrub every...” He nipped at her collarbone gently. “Last...” Now her throat. “Inch...of you...”


Madisyn sighed in contentment, knowing she'd allow this man to do absolutely anything to her consequences or not.  She was it for him, the only man she wanted in her life, in her bed and inside of her.  If she could spend the rest of her life with Mark buried deep the hilt, Madisyn would die a very happy woman.  As it was, he carried her to the bathroom and started up the sprays, Madisyn never unlocking her legs around his waist while she kissed his neck, ears, throat and chest, raining kisses all over, driving him completely crazy. 


She loved having this affect on him and hoped the bubble never burst between them.  It was too early to think about the bubble bursting as this was technically their first day together, but he had never felt such rampant desire for a woman before, not like this.  Mark could honestly say that if he could, he probably would have been happy to fuck, or make love, to Madisyn until his dick fell off.  Which, there was a slight possibility that that might happen at the rate they were going.  Once the water at the desired temperature, he slowly lowered her to her feet, laughing when she wobbled and reached out to steady her.


“Having problems, darlin'?” He teased with gleaming green eyes.


“I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't sore, honey.” She conceded, kissing his chest softly before reaching over to grab the body wash and loofah sponge. 


When Mark took both from her, Madisyn rolled her eyes and lifted her arms up without preamble, knowing he wanted to make due on what he'd told her earlier.  He wanted to wash her from head to toe, clean every inch of her and possibly torment her until she collapsed from exhaustion.  Either way, Madisyn simply smiled as soon as his hands began maneuvering over her body, lathering her soft skin up with the Dove body wash, her favorite.  It was pomegranate mixed with something, she couldn't fully remember, not with Mark this close to her.


“When you're done, it's my turn to wash you.” She purred, refusing to let him escape without letting her torture him.


Mark considered that, staring down at her before an amused grin crossed his face. “Sure darlin',” He agreed in a deceptively sweet tone of voice, beginning to lower the loofah sponge lower until he was caressing her belly with it. “Providing you can reach that high.” Snorting at the exasperated look on her face, he crouched down onto one knee, placing a hand on her hip and gently turned her around, trailing the sponge over her skin as she moved.  He could easily reach up to do her back from this position, though his free hand was busy snaking its way up one of her legs.


“Mark, you're wearing me out baby...” She groaned when his finger brushed against her throbbing clit, which was literally throbbing with pain, but the pleasure overmatched it tenfold. “Oh god...” Madisyn purred as soon as a finger slipped between her delicate folds, arching her body just to give him better access if that was possible. 


Her entire body shivered from head to toe, the sheer intensity rocking her down to her foundation.  She could feel him washing her while moving his finger in and out of her body, the two feelings combined indescribable.  She was still standing; he hadn't worn her out completely yet.  Mark continued with his ministrations, washing her and getting her off, feeling her hands clutching his shoulders, fingernails digging into skin. 


Leaning forward, Mark drew her clit between his lips tugging gently. He could feel her inner walls caving around his fingers, tightening and relaxing alternately, knowing she was close.  She had never been allowed time to properly cool down and. when he felt her cumming, he crooked his fingers, brushing them against her sweet spot.  Not able to take anymore, Madisyn collapsed against him after her last orgasm ripped through her body, grabbing onto him for dear life, breathing erratic.


“No more...No more right now...” She pleaded, burying her face in his neck as he held her close, swallowing hard. “F-Finish your shower...”


Madisyn had to lay down, her head was swimming and Madisyn had virtually no energy, barely brushing her lips against his before stumbling out of the shower toward the bedroom.  She managed to pull the blanket off, which was covered with whipped cream and collapsed on the bed.  Chuckling under his breath, Mark finished his shower, making sure to remove all traces of the sticky cream.  While that had been most enjoyable, and delicious, the clean-up wasn't quite so...entertaining.


When he emerged, clean, with his long damp hair hanging down his back and one of her large towels wrapped around his waist, he wasn't surprised to find Madisyn sound asleep.  He quietly and carefully lifted her into his arms, arching an eyebrow when she didn't even flicker an eyelid, carried her out to the couch and returned to the bedroom.  Changing the sheets and remaking the bed took less than ten minutes and, without waking her, he tucked her in before discarding the towel and climbing in beside her, drawing the blankets around them both after pulling her back so she was nestled against him.


Chapter 20


Over the next few weeks, Madisyn and Mark were inseparable, even at work.  He would always come up and eat lunch with her and dinner if they were staying later, which was frequently since another funeral home had burned down due to false wiring.  They would trade off bringing food for each other, even though Mark insisted he pay for the lunches and whatnot. 


Randy seemed to take things pretty well, once he got over his initial fear of coming back to the funeral home, though Madisyn told him he could stay upstairs while Mark trained the other apprentices.  She asked his permission, explaining that since he scared his only apprentice at the time…that he should give the others a shot, making a very good point.  Mark agreed reluctantly, he was a stubborn man, but Madisyn loved him regardless.  They decided that mixing business with pleasure was highly dangerous, but they also deserved to be happy and both were when they were together. 


There were no more arguments, no more fighting; it was relatively peaceful besides the occasional moments where Mark would threaten Randy with a look or a posture of some sort.  Other than that, things seemed peaceful at C & S and Madisyn had turned down her friend's offer for the photography job in LA, deciding to stick around Houston now that she knew how Mark truly felt about her.  Though that didn't stop from Madisyn requesting a private photo session with Aly, wanting to put a little more spice into her already flaming hot budding relationship with Mark.


The relationship between Mark and Madisyn confused Randy to no end.  Mark was still a semi-psychotic mortician, who was still reluctant to allow new apprentices downstairs.  Though he had since Randy was now working upstairs, where Madisyn could make sure he didn't become mummified or something.  Madisyn seemed less tense, more relaxed and easy going, which was a definite improvement.


Overall, things were much improved and, even he had to reluctantly admit, that both Mark and Madisyn seemed much happier and very pleased with each other.  It was sickening.  And then their workload increased as yet another funeral parlor had caught fire thanks to faulty wiring.  Randy really wished THIS one would go next, especially if he got one more dirty look from Mark or walked in on one more damn 'moment' between the pair.


It was a typical Friday afternoon and Madisyn still hadn't told Mark about Aly coming out, wanting to surprise him with the photo shoot. “So I hope you don't mind, but I'm leaving early today.” She said out of nowhere, taking a bite out of her Chinese food, which was broccoli and chicken with white rice, smiling when he arched a slow eyebrow at her.  They were currently on lunch while Randy was downstairs finishing up on another body for a funeral that they were having in the morning. “Don't worry, I'll be bright eyed and bushy tailed for tomorrow, but I have something I need to do and it requires leaving early, so you'll have to close up shop alone tonight.”


What the hell was she up to?


What business required her leaving early?


Mark knew she was still her own person, but he was always curious when it came to Madisyn. “Are you coming home tonight?” He asked after a moment, home being her apartment where they frequently stayed as staying at the parlor usually meant being woken up in the middle of the night by the phone ringing.  Because of the workload, he had begun allowing Stephen and Nick to spend the night -paid overtime of course- to handle the call volume.


“Of course, it won't take that long.  Just a couple of hours.” Madisyn said nonchalantly, grinning while he stared at her with curiosity burning in his eyes. “You trust me right?” She asked rather quietly and suddenly, seeing his posture tense a little and leaned over to where their noses were touching, closing her eyes to savor the touch. “I promise I will be home probably around 7 or 8 o'clock at the latest.  I just have a few meaningless errands that have to get done that I've put off lately.” That was a believable excuse in her mind and Madisyn began eating again when it looked as though that satisfied Mark.


“Hey boss, I hate to intrude on your lunch break-” Randy popped his head in through the cracked door, avoiding looking at Mark and instead looked at Madisyn. “But I finished downstairs and I think we're going to have a problem with the dentures, they keep-”


Was he honestly that dense? Mark wondered why Randy addressed Madisyn when that wasn't her area. “Do you not know where denture adhesive is?”




“So get some and use it.” Mark pinched the bridge of his nose, contemplating knocking Randy's teeth out.  He shot Madisyn a 'you're leaving me with THIS?' look.


“He's still afraid of you.” Madisyn stated after Randy walked away from the door, shaking her head a little.  He would have to get over the fear because Mark was the best funeral director in Houston, though her opinion was also biased. “Or maybe he's upset that he couldn't make another go at me.” Laughing, Madisyn discarded her empty plate and stood up, walking around to began rubbing Mark's tense shoulders, knowing the workload was taking its toll. “Relax, I was only kidding.”


Growling, Mark reached back to take her hand and pull her around until he could plunk her down onto his lap. “That is not a very good joke, Madi.” He informed her, bending down so their faces were mere inches from each other. “In fact, I think I should just tie you to your chair and make you suffer.” He was of course teasing since she had something she had to go off and do, wondering if while she was gone, he could use the denture bond on Orton, smirking since he could think of a few places to cement together. “Just what is it you're doing again, darlin'?”


“Running a few errands, boring shit you wouldn't be interested in hearing.  And since Randy is staying behind here, you already know I'm not running off with him.” She laughed when he growled even more, squealing as his lips caressed her neck, shivering from head to toe. “And if you try tying me to this chair, I can very easily escape so don't even think about it, Calaway.” She kissed him softly, tenderly, letting him know he was the only man on her mind morning, noon and night. “Don't worry, when I get home tonight, you can have your wicked way with me as a reward for dealing with the place alone, sound good?”


“Sounds great.” He rumbled, his tongue flicking out to caress her earlobe. “Anything goes, right?”


“Hey, I got to go.” Randy said, bursting back into the room, not even blinking at the position he found them in. “I have to go home to St. Louis.”


“What for?” Mark demanded, reluctantly setting Madisyn on her feet, arching a brow at the urgency in Randy's voice.


“My brother is in the hospital, and they need me to come run his business for him until he gets out.”


“What happened to him?”


Randy actually looked at Mark, his blue eyes mixed with fear, worry and also weariness. “Brain aneurysm.”


“Randy, your father just called back...” Nick called from the front of the parlor.


“Oh my god...” Madisyn covered her mouth with her hand, eyes widened, standing up from Mark's lap instantly. “Go Randy.” She stated, placing a hand on Mark's arm when he scowled down at her, hoping he didn't start fighting about this. “Your job will be waiting for you when you return.  Your family needs you right now.  Family is more important, that's what C & S is all about.  We'll put you on a temporary leave of absence and pay you for whatever vacation time you've acquired.” She walked over to him, frowning at the tears in his eyes and hugged him around the neck in a purely friendly way, wanting him to know he wasn't alone in this. “If you need anything, don't hesitate to call okay?”


“Okay.” Randy replied, glancing hesitantly at Mark who just nodded.  Managing an awkward weak smile, he nodded in return before glancing down at Madisyn. “I'll give you guys a call after I've found out what the situation is, maybe I'll have an idea of how long I'll be gone.” It was the best he could offer given the circumstances, not bothering to add 'if he came back', everything depended on what his brother's doctor had to say.


“You just go tend to your family, Randy.  Like Madisyn said, you'll still have a job when you return.” Mark said, feeling Madisyn squeeze his arm gently, flashing a quick brief smile down at her.  He wasn't completely heartless.


“Just keep us posted and if you decide you have to stay there permanently, only then will we fill your position.” Madisyn knew Mark was going to miss Randy, even though he refused to admit it, winking when Randy nodded at her, trying to keep his spirits up. 


She wanted to offer him a free funeral for his brother, but now was NOT the time to discuss his brother dying when he was currently living.  That definitely wouldn't be a proper send off.  Randy walked out and Madisyn had to sit down, somewhat shocked by the sudden turn of events, looking down when her cell phone began vibrating.


“Hello?” She answered, grinning at the sound of Aly's voice. “Hey you!  I'm good, just sitting at work on lunch with Mark.  Uh huh.  Oh terrific, that's great!  Right.  I have it already.  Yeah.  You're kidding me?!  Okay well I'll talk to you later then, uh huh bye.” She hung up and slipped her phone back in her purse, thankful Aly caught on that Mark was in the room with her, so they couldn't discuss much about what was happening on her errand run.


Mark was going to miss Randy like he'd miss a hole in his head.  He sank back down into his chair, leaning back and stared at Madisyn throughout her conversation.  Wondering how she had gone from apparently thinking about offering Randy their services -he knew she had been thinking it because, honestly so had he, not exactly very tactful of them- to being all...girly and apparently excited.


“Girlfriend?” He asked, recalling everything she had told him about her friend from LA.


“Aly, she was just calling to check up on me and make sure everything's fine.  She's a worry wart.”


Madisyn couldn't tell Mark that Aly was on her way here, getting ready to board her plane from LA to fly to Houston, which would take a couple of hours.  It was only noon and the plane wouldn't land until around five or so.  Madisyn was planning on leaving at 4 so she could get to the airport in plenty of time to greet Aly with open arms.  She couldn't wait to see her best friend, suddenly wondering if she would be a little later than expected that night.


“I feel so terrible for Randy, I hope everything's alright...” She said, trying to change the subject.


Mark stroked his goatee thoughtfully, staring down at her. “I'm sure everything will turn out fine, if not...” He shrugged, not knowing what he could say; he was in the business of death along with Randy. “Randy will be fine, Madi.  You just say a prayer for him and his family.” Sighing, he glanced at the clock on the wall, groaning as he pushed himself back to his feet. “I have to head downstairs and make sure he got Mr. Butler's dentures fitted properly.” If he hadn't...Mark sighed warily.


“Let him slide this one time, he's going through a lot right now and probably screwed something up on Mr. Butler.” Madisyn stated, hoping Mark listened to her and smiled when he grunted before closing the distance between them, dropping a quick kiss on her lips. “Thank you.”


She grinned, eyes sparkling and hoped he enjoyed the surprise she had in store for him, having the outfit already picked out.  It was...scandalous to put it mildly, but definitely Mark's taste or so Madisyn hoped.  As he walked out, Madisyn wondered if she was doing the right thing by keeping this from him and sighed, going back to typing up invoices on her computer.


Everything downstairs was perfect, much to Mark's surprise, having expected to find at least one thing messed up.  His mind returning to whatever it was Madisyn had to do but wasn't telling him about, he began cleaning up and preparing the body to be stored until the funeral service.  He also made a mental note to have the fire department send someone in to check the wiring, knowing Madi had been meaning to do it, what with all these places burning down every month or so.  He had never been worried about it himself, Jack had always taken care of the upkeep and Mark had done the same, but...better safe than sorry.


Chapter 21


“I can't believe I'm actually doing this.  I've officially lost my mind.” Madisyn stated, staring in the mirror while Aly began teasing her curls. 


It was a little after six, they were running a little behind so Madisyn shot Mark a quick text, letting him know it was going to be a late night with her errands, but not to worry.  She knew he didn't fully trust her, especially after sleeping with Randy.  It kind of unnerved her and made her wonder if they could really make this relationship work when he was constantly asking her where she was going whenever she left work without him.  Still, Madisyn loved him regardless and leaned back against the chair, eyeballing the different shades of eye shadow Aly picked out.


“And I'm second guessing one of the outfits.  How the hell did you get a motorcycle anyway on such short notice?”


“For your information, I got TWO motorcycles. One is a Harley, and the other is a Titan.” Aly corrected her, talking through a mouth of pins as she stared down at the honey blond hair she was working on. “And I borrowed them if you must know, I put a security deposit on them, but so long as we don't scratch them...” She trailed off, plucking the pins from her mouth in order to pin hair in place, smiling in satisfaction. “And what outfit are you second guessing and why?”


“The one with the rips...the final one.”


Madisyn STILL couldn't believe Aly brought it for her as a special surprise.  There was nothing that was hidden in it, luckily though Madisyn could wear black panties beneath as long as they matched the fabric.  Aly had taken care of that too, bless her heart.


“I know I'm being a chicken shit.  I'll just go with whatever your master mind has in mind.” She hoped Mark enjoyed this and hopefully it would put his mind at ease that he was the only one for her. “Ouch!”


“Honestly, Madi, besides me, you and your man, who else is going to see these?” Aly laughed, smirking when Madisyn quickly said 'nobody!'. “So there's nothing to worry about.  The outfit might be...scandalous, but it is also hot and you know how men are visual creatures.  He'll see that, the lounging on it and...” She trailed off suggestively, next moving to a low sitting stool so she could survey her canvas, Madisyn's face. “You know, with your hair, you almost look like an angel.” She commented with a hint of a grin. “Maybe we should attach some black wings, hmm?”


“Black wings?”


Madisyn contemplated that and finally nodded, only because it was easier to agree instead of fighting that gleam that came into Aly's devious grey eyes.  Her black hair hung freely to her mid-back and she still wore her punk look, chains and all.  Madisyn really missed her and wished Aly would move to Houston so she had at least one girlfriend, besides her shrink, to hang out with.


“I just hope Mark likes these.  I know he doesn't fully trust me because of what happened with Randy, but he needs to get over it and hopefully these pictures will tell him all he needs to know.”


“What the hell?  Why wouldn't he trust you, honey?  You and Randy happened before you and Mark got together.” Aly snorted, now beginning to do Madisyn's face, starting with the foundation.  Madisyn didn't generally wear a lot of makeup, but this was different, so Aly was taking full advantage of it. “And once he sees these pictures...he's not going to be worrying about trust or who you were with before him.  He's going to be worrying about getting you straight into bed.  Now close your eyes.”


Madisyn did as she was told, closing her eyes while Aly did her eye shadow, sighing gently. “I don't know, like today when I told him I had errands to run and I was leaving work early.  He just kept trying to get the truth out of me without trying to seem pushy.  I don't know.  I just know I love him, I've loved this man for years and I finally have him.  Maybe it's me.  Maybe I'm just second guessing everything...” She opened her eyes when Aly instructed her to, staring back at her somewhat sadly. “What if I'm not everything he wants, Aly?”


“First of all, you are everything ANY man wants, so get that thought out of your head right now.” Aly said sternly, wondering how Madisyn could even doubt herself.  She was successful, beautiful, independent and a very lovely person both inside and out. “Hell, if I swung that way, I'd want you.” She added teasingly. “Secondly, it doesn't sound like he's jealous of Randy so much as wanting to know what you're doing, which sounds to he's worried about losing you in general and not just to that other guy.  So relax, no more wrinkling your forehead either.”


One thing Aly always instilled into Madisyn was that she was a beautiful strong woman who didn't need a man.  Aly was a firm believer that all women could make it work on their own, but then again the woman had her heart broken so many times, it actually hurt Madisyn to think about.  The last guy actually cheated on her in a three way with two women.  Aly ended up smashing his jeep with a lead pipe, windows and all.  When he came ranting at her about it, she simply showed him the two pairs of ripped panties in a plastic bag without a word. 


Needless to say, she never saw Nathan again and probably never would.


“Sorry.” She murmured, trying to soften her features all the way because Aly was a perfectionist when it came to her job. “So how's the single life treating you?”


“Better than the non-single life is treating you!” Aly laughed, having perfectly rotten luck when it came to men, but she was still remarkably upbeat about life. “I have a man in my life, Mr. Jingles.” Who was her oversized, fluffy, completely spoiled tabby cat. “With the way he eats and silently orders me around, he's all the man I can handle.” She set aside the eye shadow, reaching for the black eyeliner, hesitating before beginning to smile. “Close your eyes again.” Aly ordered, leaning down to carefully make the vision that had flashed through her mind a reality, when she pulled away, she nodded in satisfaction. “Mascara and some lipstick and you will be done, then you can look.” She said, sounding pleased with herself. When she had finished, Aly stepped back, admiring her friend. “If Mark is foolish enough to even think you'd want someone other than him, he is a very stupid man.  He had BETTER appreciate this.”


Madisyn couldn't help agreeing with her and grinned at the memory of Mr. Jingles, which was the cutest tabby cat she ever seen. “He's not your man, he's your damn kid.” She laughed and went to turn to stare in the mirror, only for Aly to stop her and walked around.  She could feel the black wings, which were made of pure feathers, being clipped to her back, moving her hair a little that looked curled at the ends, raising a slow eyebrow. “Are you done yet?  Damn it woman, I wanna see!!”


“Just...hold on a can see in a minute.” Aly was doing last minute adjustments, straightening the outfit a little, exposing a hint more flesh here and there, adjusting the wings a bit more before finally stepping back.  She tapped her chin thoughtfully, finally nodding her approval. “Now you can look.” She said at last, stepping away from Madisyn and gestured to the mirror that comprised an entire wall, her eyes twinkling with anticipation.


Turning around and walking over, glancing down at the outfit and gaped, that was nothing compared to the look that came over her face when Madisyn looked in the mirror.  Her lips were painted a strawberry gloss, her beautiful blue eyes outlined in thick black eyeliner, her face flawless thanks to the foundation, which made her face have a white complexion to it.  Her hair was hanging down in loose banana curls, framing her face, her bangs angled to the side.  Her makeup and hair combined with the outfit...Mark was in for a world of trouble when he saw her.




“Yeah, exactly, wow.” Aly agreed, bobbing her head as she walked up to stand by her friend, loosely wrapping an arm around Madisyn's waist, careful not to ruin anything. “If that man does not appreciate this, we'll castrate him.” She promised cheerfully, taking Madisyn's hand and pulled her from the mirror. “Now I have several backdrops for you and, of course, plenty of green curtain so we can also just insert a background if none of them appeal to you.  Actually, yeah, we might just do that, now that I see you and the backdrops I have...we'll digitally insert.  Just you wait, Madisyn, this is going to be spectacular.”


Was this really her? 


Madisyn didn't even recognize herself and wondered if Mark would be able to, raising an eyebrow.  Aly was incredible, no wonder her business was as successful as it was. “Okay so what first?” Madisyn asked, walking over to one of the green backdrops and blinked at the beautiful black and purple motorcycle that rolled in, looking down at her first out of three outfits, swallowing hard. “How the hell am I going to straddle that with THIS on?” Madisyn was already trying to pull the mini skirt down that was attached to the outfit.


Aly loved Madisyn, really she did, but sometimes she had to wonder how the woman could be so dense?  Trying to keep the grin off her face, she cleared her throat. “Well, Madi, you're going to have to hitch it up over your hips.” She said matter-of-factly, rolling her eyes at the look she received. “Come on, it's just you, me and the machines!  And trust me, I've seen plenty of hoochies in my line of work.” She added teasingly, adjusting the tripod to her camera, knowing she wouldn't be relying on it completely. “So get up there and start thinking about Mark!”


“Oh my god...” Madisyn muttered, her cheeks flaming red at the thought of Mark seeing her in this outfit, shivering. 


It would be ripped off of her body in three seconds, she was sure of that.  Hell, Mark was so impatient with panties whenever they wanted to have sex that he ripped them off of her.  So Madisyn had to go out and buy a whole slew of panties because of him, telling him he would be billed.


“Okay, I can do this...” Why the hell was she so nervous?  Madisyn squared her shoulders, pursed her lips and hitched the skirt up over her hips like Aly instructed before straddling the bike, pulling the skirt back down, though it didn't quite cover her panty clad ass.


“Stop trying to cover it up!” Aly instructed when Madisyn kept trying to get the material to cover her ass, which just wasn't happening.  That dress wasn't meant to be sat in like this.  Technically, it wasn't even meant to cover anything. “Now look, you have got to relax or this is going to come out all...stiff and you'll look like a mannequin.  So...calm down, take some breaths and just...think about the last time you and Mark were in bed together.” She said evenly, more than used to people have moments when they got in front of the camera or realized what they were wearing wasn't exactly proper for anyone but a porn star.


That had been incredible, Madisyn smiled at the memory of how many different foods her and Mark tried out in the bedroom.  Pineapple had been very sticky and messy; they refused to go that route again.  Closing her eyes, Madisyn began imagining Mark right behind her on the back as she leaned forward, her breasts pressed against the leather seat while her back was straight, feeling his hands on her hips.  Her eyes opened and were already slightly darkened, beginning to fully relax as Aly began snapping photos.  Madisyn was a natural in front of the camera, even though she would deny it, hitting every pose Aly instructed flawlessly.


Once Madisyn got into her stride, Aly didn't even have to tell her how to pose, whatever the woman was thinking was coming out and Aly was very glad she hadn't asked any of her assistants to help with this shoot.  There would have been a problem, possibly even with the gay ones.  The only issues were when it was time to change outfits and that gave Madisyn too much time to think 'what the hell am I wearing, what the hell am I doing', and then they'd get the process going all over again.


The second outfit Madisyn really didn't like, but picked because she wanted Mark to see her in leather.  It could only be construed as a leather strappy leather teddy, though it looked like a wicked bikini.  It had o-rings, studded details and an elastic g-string, which Madisyn loathed because it felt like something was up the crack of her ass.  The bike was securely in place so Madisyn lay back on the seat and tilted her head back, one leg bent up while she gripped the handlebars, her mouth slightly parted, looking in the camera with a heated look in her eyes.  She wanted out of this outfit and was going to do the poses correctly so she could move on, knowing Mark would probably die of a heart attack, smirking.


“Oh come on, you look all 'fuck me', but it's glassy, like a doped out porn star, give me something real.” Aly said, shaking her head as she looked up from the camera. “I know that leather string up your ass can't feel all that great, but...” She smiled sweetly when she got a middle finger sent her way. “Even as uncomfortable as it is, just imagine the expression on Mark's face when he sees you in it, the look in his eyes...” She trailed off when it looked like Madisyn was going back to her happy place and got to snapping pictures.


In all honesty, Madisyn was afraid to show Mark these pictures, wondering what his reaction would be.  He didn't know anything about it and when he found out this was her errands; he was probably going to go all cave man on her in the bedroom.  She giggled at the thought, the smile making this dark angel look even more radiant as she moved to straddle the back again, lying splayed against it with wisps of hair in her face, her hand on her stomach.


Chapter 22


“Alright, go change, and I'm having the Titan brought in.” Aly ordered when she had finished with yet another roll of film, knowing there was a LOT of good pictures for Madisyn to choose from, unless she just wanted them all.  Aly smirked, having an idea that Madisyn would definitely be demanding the negatives, shaking her head as she watched Madisyn dismount and then arched an eyebrow. “If I were you, I'd of picked my ass a LONG, LONG time ago.”


“You will never see me like this again, I assure you.” Madisyn couldn't wait to get out of this leather teddy, sighing with relief once she was in the changing room, her eyes bugging out at the sight of the final outfit she would be wearing. “You have LOST your damn mind, Aly!  That won't cover my ass or my...”


She looked down and immediately covered her lower half with her hand, chewing her bottom lip.  The outfit was a barely there strappy dress -Madisyn refused to even call it that- that hung off the shoulder and had fishnet detailing with strappy details.  It went barely below her hips and...How the hell was Madisyn ever going to look at Mark again after this?


“I'm losing my dignity.” She mumbled, reluctantly stripping the not so suddenly bad leather teddy off and managed to somehow stumble into this thing.


“What dignity?” Aly demanded, walking in behind her, rolling her eyes when Madisyn tried covering up. “Honey, that outfit does not leave anything to the imagination.” She crossed over to the mini fridge and grabbed herself a bottle of water, turning to stare at Madisyn thoughtfully as she uncapped it. “We're redoing your hair.” She announced, surveying the outfit with a professional eye, ignoring Madisyn's scowl, or the hands clasped over private parts. “You know something...that really is a tiny bit of a dress.” She smiled innocently, taking a swallow. “Get in the chair.”


“Yeah exactly, that's why I don't understand why I have to wear it because this is supposed to be fantasy!” Madisyn grunted when she was shoved in the chair, glad she got to wear black panties beneath or she refused to go through with this. 


Her breasts were sticking out, being held together by the fishnet design the dress had, covering her nipples surprisingly, but everything else could be seen.  This wasn't a dress, it was a piece of fabric.  Aly began teasing her hair and Madisyn closed her eyes, wondering what the woman had in mind now.


“Fantasy, exactly.” Aly said as she began undoing the mess she had made of Madisyn's hair. “And what man, in his right mind or with both nuts, would think of this dress outside of a fantasy?  None, you know why?  Because women with legal jobs don't wear these kinds of dresses.  So you're giving the guy a go with fantasyland.  How's that one song go?” She tapped the brush against her chin before grinning. “The one about being a lady in public but a freak in the bedroom?  You're giving the guy photos of you being...kinky.  On a motorcycle no less.  And a very fine motorcycle at that if I do say so myself.”


Madisyn suddenly got a gleam in her eye, a thought entering her devious mind. “I wonder what would happen if I went home with this on in a robe?” She wondered out loud, causing Aly to stop to look at her with a slow arched brow. “I can't even begin imagining the look on Mark's face as I strutted through the door with a robe on and then took it off nonchalantly.” She giggled, picturing this and knew it was very evil to do. “I'm gonna do it.  I'm gonna leave here with a robe on and go straight home to surprise him.  He won't know what to think!”


Aly considered that, really loving the gleam in Madisyn's eye as she cooked up her devious little scheme. “Wouldn't the robe be a bit of a giveaway that something isn't...normal, beneath it?” She asked after a moment, returning to her work on Madisyn's honey blonde hair. “I mean, you wear a robe and he automatically knows that the clothes you left in are gone.  So why not wear the dress underneath the clothes you came in?”


Madisyn's eyes widened slightly and then slowly her smirk turned into a full blown grin, actually getting up to hug Aly tightly around the neck. “You're a genius!!  Oh my god!!  You're right, he can't find out about the photo shoot!  So I'll go home, walk in acting like nothing is going on and then start undressing in front of him.  He'll wonder if I was wearing that underneath my clothes all day at work!” Madisyn and Aly both were laughing so hard, they had to lean against each other, loving how their minds seemed to go in sync together. “Of course I'll just look at him and say hasn't he ever seen lingerie before.”


“I'll wager he hasn't seen lingerie like THIS before, at least not in person, maybe online if he's into browsing porn.” At Madisyn's shake of the head, Aly grinned. “Ah, so you'll be breaking his 'wild and exotic' lingerie cherry with something pretty wicked, hmm?  That is just so sweet and kind of kinky.” She stepped back, eyeballing Madisyn's hair. “How does that look?  It's a tad wavy, but that's from the curls earlier.” She turned Madisyn's rolling chair around until she was facing the vanity mirror.


Madisyn fell in love with the look instantly, looking over her shoulder at Aly, her eyes sparkling with happiness. “I love it, this is perfect.” She fluffed it out a little at the ends, the style making her hair arched slightly to hang down the side of her face, the curls bringing it out even more. “Okay let's finish this up because I'm starving!” She giggled when Aly rolled her eyes heavenward and walked out to the white Titan, wondering what poses Aly wanted her to do with it.


“Alright, this bike is pure sex on two wheels.  Look at it...” Aly had every intention of buying this motorcycle for herself; she had fallen in love with the moment she had spotted it. “Look at the handlebars...” She would have reached out and actually touched it, but didn't want to somehow smudge the finish or something. “So, that is your lover right there…that is Mark.” She was dead serious.  This Titan, that dress or lingerie, it could have been either or because these photos would be epic. “Show that motorcycle some love woman!”


Madisyn remembered the day Mark let her ride his motorcycle back to the condo and closed her eyes at how...wild the sex had been between them.  They were definitely a turn on for her, Madisyn immediately began running her hands up and down the bike, being very careful as to not damage anything, splaying out on it.  Gripping handlebars, bending over so her ass showed as she caressed the pure leather seating, licking her lips hungrily...Madisyn couldn't wait to get home to Mark suddenly. 


She sat on the bike, or rather leaned and spread her legs, her feet on the chrome pipes while giving the camera the most sultry, lust filled look she could muster up, her eyes being the window to these pictures.  Aly was moving around Madisyn and the Titan like a woman possessed, having switched from her usual camera to her portable Nikon in order to do close-ups and follow Madisyn around as she squirmed on the motorcycle.  When she had finished her roll of film, she felt exhausted as if she had just gone a few rounds, or a dozen.


“Good god.” She sighed, pushing her damp hair back from her face.  The blinding lights from the overhead lights didn't help with the sweating factor, though on Madisyn it just added to the overall appeal. “This Mark is a very lucky man, Madi.”


“No, I'm a lucky woman.  He's everything, Aly.  When I found out how he truly felt about me, it seemed as though my world was complete.  I know that sounds corny, but...Here.” Walking over, Madisyn pulled something out of her purse and showed Aly a picture of Mark, grinning when the woman's jaw dropped. “I know he looks intimidating with the tattoos and he doesn't smile much, but when I'm with him, he makes me feel like a queen.  And not to mention he is drop dead gorgeous.  He's the reason I refused to date in LA, do you get it now?”


“No, forget the intimidating...” Aly refused to hand back the picture right away, taking advantage of not being in a piece of lingerie that flashed everything a girl had if she moved and danced away. “This man is GORGEOUS!  Where on earth did you get him and can I have one too?  Do they grow these on a farm down there in Houston?” She reluctantly passed the photo back. “If you ever decide you no longer want him...I don't mind hand-me-downs.”


“Oh believe me, I want him as long as he wants me.” Madisyn snatched the photo back from her friend, laughing softly. “And I TOLD you countless times that Texan men are the BEST.  Especially him...” Madisyn looked at the picture with such adoration and love in her eyes, still not believing her and Mark were together; that this wasn't just another heartbreaking dream. “Thank you for doing the photo shoot, Aly.”


“Oh not a problem, though now that I see who the pictures are for...” Aly shook her head, smiling. “I really, really will have to make a visit to you for longer next time, just to see these Texan men.  Lord knows LA men and I don't get along very well.” She fell into step alongside Madisyn as they left the shoot area, heading for the dressing room. “This trip was fun, but entirely too short, I hardly got to see anything!” Not to mention she had a flight back to LA to catch for one of her regular jobs.


“You need to move out here.  I'm serious, Houston is full of businesses for your photography and we could hire you as the personal photographer for C & S.  I know it's a funeral home, but death is a part of life and you can't be a hypocrite.” Madisyn had a point and wrapped her arm around Aly's shoulders, missing her friend more than she was willing to admit. “That's why I turned you down so many times whenever you tried setting me up with someone.  Mark is the only one for me and I know if you were in my shoes, you wouldn't want any other man except him.  Maybe Mark has some Texan friends I could introduce to you if you decided to move out here...”


“My dear, death is indeed a part of life, but I do not think my calling lays in photographing the dead.  For one...there's no life in them.” Yes, it was a joke in poor taste, but Aly hadn't been able to help herself, smirking when Madisyn gently punched her in the arm. “I'm sorry Madi, but I prefer working with the living, photographing dead people sounds very dull to me.” But she could see herself opening a business in Houston, maybe she could expand, business had been good lately.  She ran a finger along her lower lip, considering it. “Hmmm…I'll have to think about it.” She said in a tone that didn't promise anything though she had already promised herself she would indeed check into the local economy and see if she could thrive in it.


“Really?” When Aly nodded, Madisyn squealed and hugged her tightly around the neck, jumping up and down, then stopped because this dress was in NO position for her to be doing that. “You need to get going, you have an early flight tomorrow.” They arrived at the dressing area and Madisyn was currently shuffling into her jeans, tucking the lingerie out of sight, smirking at the thought of Mark seeing her in it. “I love you Aly, thanks again.” They hugged tightly, tears forming in each woman's eyes, both hating to say goodbye. “Call me as soon as you land, I don't care what time it is, you hear me?”


“I will, I promise.  Well, maybe.  I'll call as soon as I remember, how'll that be?” Aly laughed, hugging Madisyn all over again, using the back of her hand to wipe away tears, smiling through them. “I will call as soon as I land and can hear myself think.  You know how busy the damn terminals are.  Are you going to be alright getting home?” She had a cab coming to pick her up, she wasn't worried, but she constantly worried about Madisyn.  Actually, she just worried about women by themselves in large cities alone in general. “Oh shit, you better be Madi, I have to get going though, the cab will be here any moment now.”


“I'm fine, I have my Mazda and Mark is waiting for me at home.  Get moving woman!” She slapped Aly's ass and laughed as the girl's hugged one final time, waving goodbye to her tearfully as she pulled her shirt on. 


Mark wasn't going to know what hit him when she got home.  Madisyn simply couldn't wait, having missed him all day.  Was it weird missing him when they just saw each other a few hours ago?  Madisyn looked at her phone and blinked, seeing it was close ten o'clock at night.


“Lord...” She was going to have to come up with something epic to tell Mark for him to believe her so he wouldn't find out about the photo shoot.  Slipping her heels on, Madisyn quickly headed out of the studio toward her car, slipping her phone in her purse before searching for her keys. “Come on, where are you?”


He had been waiting a rather long time outside of the building, wondering a bit curiously what the two women had been doing in there.  He had seen them part ways, hugging and then he watched as Madisyn's friend took off through a different exit, having stood on a dumpster to see inside what had looked like a dressing room.  His view had been limited; he hadn't seen much other than them parting company.


Apparently Madisyn's luck was running out because she seemed to be patting herself down for her car keys.  Silently, he approached her from behind, wearing all black with a hood pulled up around his face, just in case there were security cameras.  Pulling a presoaked cloth from his pocket and extracting it from the baggie he had placed it in, he wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her back against him while the other hand with the cloth clamped to her mouth.


“I'm sorry, Madi.” He whispered softly in her ear.


Chapter 23


Slowly prying her eyes open, Madisyn let out a soft groan, feeling sick to her stomach.  Madisyn had walked out of the building where she'd done the private pictures for Mark and recalled trying to look for her keys, but that was it.  That's all she remembered, everything else was blank.  Her limbs felt stiff and sore, her head was pounding and Madisyn knew she was very likely to lose whatever food was in her system as her stomach rumbled violently.


“Mark, sweetie, I don't feel so good...” She whispered, leaning over the bed and saw a trashcan, immediately reaching for it.  Her body felt so weak, Madisyn began wondering what was going on and suddenly emptied the contents of her stomach, shuddering from head to toe.


The trashcan had been placed there for that very reason, he had researched the effects of chloroform and knew that Madisyn was going to be feeling the aftereffects for awhile; he felt bad for that.  He had also left a glass of water on the night stand along with two Tylenol, watching out of pitying eyes as she fumbled for them, guessing she was probably suffering from one hell of a headache as well as a wickedly dry tongue.  He carried over a pitcher of water, setting it on the nightstand after refilling her empty cup, watching as she stared up at him, her foggy mind apparently trying to take everything in.


“How's your head?” He asked softly.


“R-Randy?” She stammered out in a whisper, feeling her heart beginning to pound and looked around quickly, her foggy mind clearing almost instantly. “What are you doing here?  Where's Mark?”


Madisyn had instinctively slid away from him on the bed, not taking the towel he handed to her, not wanting to be anywhere near him.  Something wasn't right, something was off about this as she looked around the room, which didn't look familiar to her.  Where the hell was she?  Why was Randy here?  She didn't leave the photography studio with Randy; he was supposed to be on his way to West Newbury because of his brother falling ill.


“What the fuck is going on here?” Madisyn demanded weakly, trying to push force into her voice.


Randy knew that, according to what he had told Mark and Madisyn along with the phone call he had received at the funeral parlor -the arranged phone call he had paid some older guy to make actually-, meant he was supposed to be across the country at this point, or on his way there, to see his 'ailing' brother.  Randy's family was just fine, perfect in fact.  And quite obviously, he had not gone to St. Louis.


“Madisyn, it is a long story and...” He trailed off, rubbing the back of his neck as he took her in.  During her forced sleep, she had sweated so much her shirt and jeans were sticking to her.  She needed a shower, but still looked so shaky and frail.


“A long story?  My eyes are up HERE, Orton!” She growled when she noticed he was checking her out and took the glass of water, splashing it right in his face, tears stinging her eyes. “I want Mark right now.  Where the hell is he?  You take me to him right now!” She was on the verge of panicking and hopped off the bed when Randy made a grab for her, stumbling from the after effect of the chloroform. “You tell me what the hell is going on right now or I swear on my father's grave I will let Mark TEAR YOU APART!


“Goddamn it, Madisyn, don't make me knock your ass out again because I will!” He threatened angrily, wiping water out of his eyes with the back of his arm.  Using his free hand to reach out and stepped directly onto the bed, Randy hopped down onto the floor in front of her, blocking her escape.  Not that she would actually get all that far, he had had this planned for awhile and had planned very carefully.


“I will explain everything to you, when you-” He blocked a knee before it could knock him in the junk, gripping her shoulders tightly and gave her a firm shake. “I mean it, Madisyn, knock it off!” He screamed in her face, momentarily stunning her into holding still.


“Don't touch me!!” She shoved him away from her so hard, she landed on the floor below with a thud, swallowing hard. 


Randy had knocked her out, kidnapped her!!  Madisyn had no idea where she was and knew Mark was probably going out of his mind with worry.  Oh god, what if he thought she abandoned him?  What if he thought she was really with another guy?!


Would she ever see him again? 


Would she ever feel his arms around her that made her feel safe and secure? 


Would she ever feel his lips against hers? 


After everything they'd been through, after all the years of pining for him, Madisyn was losing him all the same and it completely shattered her. “MARK!!!” She screamed out, shuffling away from Randy when he came toward her. “NO GET AWAY FROM ME YOU PSYCHO BASTARD!!  I WANT MARK RIGHT NOW!!”


Randy realized his blunder in his rash sentence of 'don't make me knock your ass out again', again being the operative word, one he should have skipped using.  Oh well, nothing to be done about it now, he thought, staring down at her dispassionately, listening to her cries of Mark.  Each cry for Mark made his scowl more pronounced, his blue eyes darkening angrily.


“Mark cannot hear you, Madisyn.” He said each word coldly and calmly, watching her intently for the affect it had on her. “Mark is nowhere even near where we are.” He had made one mistake, he wasn't about to make another by giving away their location.  Simply the fact that they were quite some distance from Mark, as it should be.


Why was Randy doing this to her?!  What the hell was she thinking sleeping with him?!  He knew how she felt about Mark and now he kidnapped her for reasons unknown!  Madisyn was going to be sick again, tears streaming down her face, feeling a full-fledged panic attack coming on. 


She pressed her back against the wall in the far corner and drew her knees up to where they pressed against her chest, covering her ears as she began rocking back and forth.  Her eyes closed tightly shut as she tried blocking him out, blocking his malice words, trembling from head to toe.  Mark, she had to think of the man she loved and knew he would come for her, to find her some way and break her away from Randy's clutches.


“Mark...Mark...Mark...Mark...Mark...” She just kept whispering, burying her face in her knees as the tears fell even harder.


This was fairly disturbing, Randy thought, as he watched her rocking back and forth, muttering Mark's name over and over like some sort of mad woman.  She really was a crazy woman.  One who reeked and still needed that shower.


“Get up.” He sighed, stooping to pull her to her feet, ignoring the whimpers of Mark as he forcibly dragged her towards the bathroom. “Good lord, Madisyn, will you knock that off?  I’m not going to hurt you, you don't even know why you're here yet and you're totally-” Randy cursed when she stopped acting so docile and kicked him in the back of his knee, feeling it giving but didn't buckle, instead gritting his teeth against the pain.  Letting out another round of curses, he shoved her into the bathroom. “That was fucking uncalled for, don't you think?!”


Madisyn reacted out of instinct and took the nearest thing she could find, which was a glass cup and hurled it at him. “DON'T FUCKING TOUCH ME, ORTON!!” She screamed at the top of her lungs, hurling a bottle of shampoo at Randy next and kicked him in the stomach, watching him actually hit the floor with a thud.  Madisyn hammered her foot down on his genitals, hearing him squeal like the little bitch he was and smirked through her tear-stained face.  She didn't wait for him to recover and bolted out of the bathroom, grunting when he grabbed her ankle and tripped her. “GET OFF OF ME!!” She kicked him, this time right in the face and shoved him away again while he groaned in pain, scrambling to her feet.  Madisyn went to the door and ripped it open, immediately running as fast as she possibly could, the tears falling even harder. “Mark, where the hell are you?!”


Despite the agonizing pain he was in, Randy laughed when she began screaming, assuming she had opened the door that led to the little hallway.  The little hallway held no windows, and only one other door besides the one she had just burst out of.  The exit was a steel door and the only way to open it was via a key and a code.


The key was around his neck on a heavy chain that would not be broken if someone -like Madisyn- decided to give it a good tug and the code was in his head.  Cursing her under his breath, Randy got to his feet, hunched over with one hand cupping his seriously injured balls as he limped after her.  He was very tempted to just knock her out again, very tempted indeed.


Madisyn stopped short of the steel door and looked at the keypad, swallowing hard, eyes narrowed.  Where the hell were they?  Randy had this planned for awhile; she was slowly coming to that realization and saw there were absolutely no windows in this place.  There was no chance of escape.


“Why is this happening?” She whispered, dropping to her knees as the sickness overtook her again, burying her face in her hands, violent sobs streaking through her body violently. “Mark please...please help me...” It was no use, he didn't know where she was and Madisyn was stuck here with a psycho that she actually... “Oh god...” She couldn't keep it in and vomited again, sweating even more.


“That is disgusting and you're only going to make yourself even more sick if you keep it up.” Randy admonished, heading back inside to get a damp towel, gingerly feeling his nose, unsurprised to pull his fingers away and find blood staining them.


Randy gave his nose a little testing tweak, wincing in agony, but did not think it was broken. Just sore, and bleeding.  He got two towels, one for his nose and the other he carried back to Madisyn, tossing it at her. “If you don't get up, get in that bathroom and get cleaned up, I will bring a bucket of ice water out here and pour it on you.” He ordered coldly.  In fact, he would bring two buckets and plenty of ice, extra ice...for his balls.


“Fuck you.  You kidnapped me, but I'll be damned if you order me around.  Don't fucking touch me again.” Madisyn's voice was cold as ice as she managed to stumble to her feet.


Tossing the towel right back at him after wiping her mouth off on it, Madisyn didn’t want to be anywhere near him.  What the hell did he want with her?  Mark was going to kill him and Madisyn would gladly enjoy watching, suddenly remembering what she wore beneath her clothes.  


“Fuck!” She cursed, deciding these clothes were NOT coming off unless it was over her dead mutilated corpse. “Go ahead, bring the ice water because I refuse to do anything you say.”


Did Randy forget that she was his boss and his ass was toast once she got out of here?  If Randy had known what she was thinking about her being his boss, he would have promptly laughed her to death.  People did not kidnap their bosses, this was officially his resignation from C & S Funeral Home obviously.*


“Have it your way.” He sighed, knowing she was going to be violent and he wasn't going to take being kicked in the balls or the face anymore.


When he got close enough, she tried kicking him again and he brought his own leg up, knocking hers out from under her.  Ignoring the stream of curses and death threats, he gripped her by the back of her neck and pushed her back inside, slamming the door behind him.  His temper was officially up.


“GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME RIGHT NOW!!” Madisyn screamed and hauled off, punching him right in the face as hard as she could, just like she did when Mark put his hands on her. “DON'T TOUCH ME!”


She shoved him away from her, her shirt ripping and immediately grabbed the towel from his hand, covering her body with it instantly, the tears not stopping.  When Randy looked murderous, Madisyn knew she crossed the line and felt the backhand as she sprawled to the floor, her lip bleeding, knocking her head on the porcelain towel.  The top of the skimpy outfit could clearly be seen as the towel went flying as Madisyn held the side of her throbbing face, curling up in a tight ball to cover herself up as much as she could.


When Randy seen what she was...or wasn’t...wearing, the only thing that kept him from springing into action was the fact that she had just broken his nose with that punch.  Already weakened by her vicious kick, the punch had broken it and he was pissed.  Staring down at her, feeling a very bad mixture of anger, pain and lust spreading throughout him, he firmly gripped his nose between thumb and forefinger.  He let out a muffled groan of pain when he snapped it back in place, turning to the side and gripped the sink tightly, his knuckles turning white.  After a moment, Randy glanced back down at her, his blue eyes remaining as dark as ever.


“That... is quite the outfit.” He commented, trying to keep the huskiness out of his voice.


“Stay away from me.” She whispered, grabbing the towel that was spread on the floor and covered herself up, trembling from head to toe. 


She'd never been struck before, Mark was going to maim this guy and Madisyn couldn't wait for it.  Madisyn didn't move a muscle and cringed when he took a step toward her, not daring to look up at him for fear of what she would see.  Her face was already turning a nasty blue and black shade mixing with purple, swelling and she had a cut just underneath her eye along with her lip.  Randy was freakishly strong and it scared Madisyn to death, wishing Mark would find her.


Because of his usually good mannered nature, most people seemed to overlook the fact that Randy was...well built and indeed strong, those muscles of his were not just for show.  He knew he could have cracked her cheekbone, but he had been so pissed off.  She hadn't even let him explain why he was doing this, just attacked like some deranged animal and, when she broke his nose, enough was enough.  Ignoring her orders to stay away from her, he ripped away the towel, feasting on the visual delight before him before moving over to the bathtub, turning on the faucets.


“We can do this the hard way or my way.” Randy told her flatly, folding his massive arms over his chest.


“Please...Please I'll clean up...Please just leave me alone so I can do it...” She somewhat stumbled over her words, covering herself as much as she could with her arms, still not moving from the curled up position.  Her eye felt like it was going to explode and Madisyn hoped it did just so Randy would start freaking out. “I'll clean up, but you can't watch me undress.  Give me some space.” Madisyn watched as he slowly began backing away from her and snatched the towel again once it was within reach, wrapping it tightly around her so Randy couldn't see anymore of her already exposed body.


When it looked like she was going to shut the door, Randy shook his head, pushing it open completely with the palm of his hand.  None of the doors inside their cozy little apartment had locks, just the main door that she couldn't get out of, but he did not like the idea of this devious bitch being alone in the bathroom.  He was now very glad for the lack of razors.  At first he had considered that an oversight though now he was glad for it, she'd probably try slitting his throat or something.


“Leave it open, Madisyn.  I won't stand here and watch you, but you will leave the door open.” If not, Randy would come in with her and sit right there while she bathed.


Madisyn didn't say anything, feeling very exposed and degraded, simply waiting until Randy disappeared from the doorway before struggling to make it to her feet.  She winced, touching her face while the warm bath water ran, suddenly turning it on scalding hot.  She peeled her pants off along with the skimpy barely there dress, tossing it in the trash before burying it with a towel, not wanting to ever see it again.  Tears rushed down her face as the harsh realization crashed down on her that she would never see Mark again, his eyes flashing through her mind.  Slipping into the tub, ignoring the hot water scorching her skin, Madisyn pulled the curtain closed and proceeded to cry her heart out.


Randy seen the steam and knew she was probably in there boiling herself alive, wondering if she thought that would get her out of there.  Because it wouldn't.  He'd just treat her burns here, no hospital for Miss Simon.  Then he heard her crying over the running water and buried the twinge of pity and regret, maybe even guilt, underneath a steel resolve.  When she had worn herself out until she had no choice but to listen, he would explain everything to her and make her see that he was only trying to help her.


Somewhere in a dumpster, Madisyn's cell phone kept ringing, dozens of voicemails notifications popping up, along with the name MARK flashing across the screen.


Chapter 24


When Madisyn didn't answer her phone for the umpteenth time, Aly was tired of it and decided to call the funeral home, knowing her friend would be there.  What the hell was Madisyn's problem?  Aly tapped her foot impatiently as she stood in the airport, getting the first flight back to Houston, wanting to ring Madisyn's neck for worrying her like this.  When a woman answered, Aly immediately turned on the charm.


“Excuse me; I'm looking for a Mr. Mark Calaway.  This is Madisyn Simon's best friend, Alyssa Chambers, and I need to speak with him NOW.” When the lady hesitated, Aly rubbed her temples and was put on hold, hoping this Mark answered or he was going to have a very pissed off photographer on his hands.


“Miss Chambers, I feel I should warn you that Mr. Calaway is not in the best of moods and-” Nicole cautioned.  Something about him not being able to get a hold of Madisyn, on top of an emergency preparation for a morning funeral.  When Aly Chambers snapped at her, she put the phone down. “Mr. Calaway, phone!”


Mark came storming out of the kitchen where he had been putting together the funeral plan with Nick and Stephen, his green eyes narrowed to deadly slits. “What?” He barked when he had picked up the phone.  Unless this was Madisyn, he didn't really feel up to chatting.


“Mark, this is Aly Chambers, Madisyn's best friend.  Don't fucking bark at me, Madisyn isn't answering her phone and I want to know what the hell is going on!  She didn't want to tell you, but her errands that she was running Monday night were all a hoax.  She was doing a private photo shoot for you, with me, at one of the buildings in Houston that was disclosed to JUST us.  I left her there because I had a flight to catch back to LA and I haven't heard from her since that night.” It'd been two days since anyone had heard from Madisyn and apparently, judging by this Mark's tone, he hadn't heard from her either. “Something happened to her, I can feel it.  She's not answering her cell phone and it keeps going straight to voicemail.  I'm on my way to Houston right now, you need to meet up with me at the building we were doing the photo shoot at.” She rattled off the address and hung up, beginning to pace back and forth, worried out of her mind. “Shit, shit, shit!”


Before Nicole could fully walk away from her boss, the phone rang again, causing her to sigh. “C & S Funeral Homes, this is Nicole, how can I help you?  Oh, you want to speak to Randy Orton?  I'm sorry, but he's on his way back home to his family for an emergency...Oh you're his mom?”


At that, Mark whirled around.  He had been in the process of heading upstairs to change when he heard 'oh you're his mom', and snatched the phone from Nicole. “Who is this?” He demanded irritably.


“I'm Randy's mother, who the hell is this?” The woman demanded, sounding a bit affronted at being spoken to so harshly.


“I'm Randy's boss.”


“Well have you seen him?  Is he there?  He hasn't returned any of my calls.”


“Randy’s not there?” Mark asked slowly, feeling his blood beginning to slowly boil, his grip on the phone tightening as she demanded to know why Randy would be in St. Louis instead of at work.


Nicole let out a scream when he snapped the phone in two.


Aly pulled into C & S Funeral Home parking lot, screeching her tires and stepped out, wearing a pair of leather black pants with a black tank top that had chains hanging from it, her fingerless gloves made of black lace.  Madisyn had a lot of explaining to do when Aly got her hands on the woman.  Walking toward the entrance of C & S, Aly stopped short when two men and a woman came rushing out and got in their cars, peeling out of there like their asses were on fire.


“What the hell?” Aly wasn't being scared off that easily and walked into door, hearing something crashing and headed in that direction.  She stopped at the sight of a very pissed off Mark Calaway, simply leaning against the wall, folding her arms in front of her chest. “When you're finished, we have business to discuss, Mark.”


Mark whirled around to find a woman he was guessing to be Aly Chambers and scowled at her. “Was there anyone else at the photo shoot?” He demanded, draining the last of his coffee, having ingested a full pot already and brewing a second.  When Aly shook her head, he snorted, not exactly surprised. “Do you know who Randy Orton is?” His eyes narrowed when she nodded, guessing that Madisyn had probably told her about her little one nightstand with the son of a bitch. “He's gone missing too.”


Aly's eyes narrowed to slits when she heard that, looking downright deadly, pursing her lips tightly together. “We're going to find her.” This Randy Orton took Madisyn and he was going to pay dearly for it, Aly tossed her keys at Mark that she swiped from the table. “Lock up and get your ass in gear, we have work to do.  I'm gonna show you the building we did the photo shoot in, that's gotta be where he snatched her.  Wait a minute, I thought he was on his way back to Missouri for some family emergency?” When Mark glared at her, the realization dawned on her and Aly immediately walked out of the funeral home, cursing up a storm. “Mother fucker!”


Randy had lied about his brother's condition and needing to go back to St. Louis to help out with his brother's business.  His mother's phone call regarding his whereabouts proved that.  And Lord help him, Mark could not help the thought of 'what if Randy and Madisyn had run off together?', knowing it was a fool notion, but unable to keep it from crossing his mind.  He knew it was petty, but at the same time they both went missing, presumably on the same day and nobody could get a hold of either one?  If he had heard that about anyone else, he would have assumed they had run off together.


“Fuck, fuck, fuck...” Aly whipped out a cigarette and lit it up, needing something to calm her nerves, drumming her fingers on the steering wheel. “She showed me a picture of you, that's how I knew it was you.  That and your voice is somewhat...distinctive.” They were driving toward downtown Houston, mostly in silence, though Aly could feel the rage pouring out of Mark's body. “I know what you're thinking, but you have it all wrong, Calaway.  Madisyn loves you so goddamn much, you have no idea.  She wanted to surprise you with the pictures and I have them if you want the proof.  She didn't run off on you with this prick, she was on her way home to you when she disappeared.  So why would she tell me she was on her way home to you if she was planning on running off with this asswipe?  She's better than that, Madisyn would never do that, she has too big of a heart and she's been in love with you for years.  YEARS.  She turned down every offer to meet a man in LA because of you. If that's not real love, I don't know what the fuck is.”


Mark didn't reply to her words, instead he just thought of what she had said, knowing deep down that she was right.  It had been a foolish thought, a 'typical' male thought, but he knew Aly was right.  Madisyn did have to big a heart, too big to run off and leave him like that, worried and sick out of his mind.  Even if she had wanted to leave him -which she did not, she loved him, apparently had for years, which did bring a hint of a grin to his lips, a brief hint at that- she wouldn't have done so in such a cowardly manner.  No, this was something to do with Randy Orton, the little fucker, and Mark knew he should have followed through on his threats to embalm the fucking bastard alive when he had the chance.


They arrived at the building and Aly hopped out of the car, frowning at the sight of Madisyn's Mazda staring her in the face. “Mark, it's Madi's car!” She called out, getting his attention and rushed over to it, seeing it had been there for the past two days, thanks to the police putting a ticket on the windshield. “Mother fucker, here's your proof!  Why would she leave her car here?” Aly couldn't believe this and ran a hand through her black hair, frowning, trying to look for any kind of evidence that would point them in the direction Madisyn was. “Check the dumpster, maybe something is in there that was thrown away or something...”


She was already looking under the car and walked around it, tilting her head at the sight of tire marks on the pavement just next to the Mazda.  Aly ran her fingertips over them, eyes narrowed, deciding she might have to call in a favor to help them find Madisyn.  Mark headed over to the dumpster, arching an eyebrow when he seen greasy footprints on the top of it, like someone had been standing there, having a feeling that he knew who had been standing there.


Pulling himself up, he stood on it, looking at the building, noting the window he could now see in and scowled. The very idea of Randy Orton spying on Madisyn…in a changing room of all places, he was tempted to drive his fist through the glass.  Mentally vowing to break every bone in that prick's body, he lowered himself back to the ground and pushed open the lid, staring down at the piles of garbage.  Then, he spotted something flashing, which was the beeping, dying cell phone with his name still dimly flashing across the screen.




“What?  What did you find?!” Aly rushed over and stopped short when Mark slowly turned around, holding a cell phone in one hand, which was unmistakably Madisyn's and a black cloth. “Oh god that reeks!” She groaned, plugging her nose as he held it away from him, expecting the look of pure murder to flash through his now acid green eyes. “He took her.” They had confirmed it and when Mark could only nod, dropping the cloth to the ground while smashing the cell phone in his hand, Aly turned around and whipped her cell phone out, dialing a number. “Kyle, thank god you answered.  It's Aly.  Listen, I need a favor...”


If she was going the legal route to get Madisyn back, Mark would have to crush her vocal chords.  Illegal ways were always so much faster and much more satisfying, especially when he got his hands on Randy.  He would rip him apart, limb by limb, slowly...and with pleasure.




“You're going to have to eat something, Madisyn.” Randy ordered, wondering just how the hell the woman could go so long without food.  He had even made a nice dinner, it smelled so appetizing, and he was eating with gusto. “Come on Madisyn, starving yourself isn't going to improve your situation.”


“I'm not eating anything you make.  I want you to leave me alone.” She didn't move to touch the food, daring Randy to force feed her as the tears kept falling, knowing eventually they would stop. 


Right now, she was heartbroken and missed Mark so much, knowing he was probably out screwing the first available woman that wouldn't break his heart.  The thought made her close her eyes, just wanting to sleep for the rest of her life.  Her face was black and blue, swollen and she managed to apply ice to it, but that was it.


“I said I'm not hungry!” She shouted, suddenly taking the plate of food that was on the bed and hurled it against the wall, glaring hatefully at Randy with those steely blue eyes of hers. “I hate you.”


“You can hate me all you like, but you need to eat.” Randy said, picking up the food patiently, having sadly grown accustomed to this little routine of theirs.


She threw the food, he cleaned it up and hoped the stains would eventually come off the walls or maybe he would eventually repaint them.  They weren't going to be here forever.  He hadn't even had a chance to tell her why she was here, she hadn't given it to him.  At this rate, he was going to tie her to the bed, force feed her and make her listen.  His patience was wearing thin and the only reason he had been playing nice was because of her face.  Randy had seen the damage he had done to her and felt bad.



“Try force feeding me, I'll hurl all over you and enjoy every second of it, you mother fucker.  Now for the last time, leave me the fuck alone.”


She laid right back down on the bed, curling up, ignoring the hunger pains that tore through her body.  Didn't he understand her appetite was gone?  Her will to live was gone without Mark.  Randy was very dense and, when Madisyn felt him yank her over on her back, she punched him again, this time in his eye and made sure she wore a small chain she found, having wrapped it around her hand secretively.


“Don't. Fucking. Touch. Me!” She shouted angrily, ignoring the throbbing pain in her hand.


Pain flared in his eye, searing through his skull and Randy reeled back, digging the palm of his hand into his eye, staring down at her out of the one that wasn't filling him with agony, feeling rage once more filling him. “You little bitch...” He hissed, reaching out to wrap cruel fingers around her upper arm, bringing her hand up and seen the chain. “A clever little bitch.” He tore it off her hand, not caring if he might have sprained or broken her fingers, cursing when another spasm of pain wracked his eye and backhanded her OTHER cheek. “There!” He pushed her back violently. “Now you have a fucking matching set!”


Madisyn cried out in pain, her knuckles bloody from the chain and held her other cheek that flamed with pain, knowing her face was going to be one big bruise now.  Instead of cursing him, she began laughing and it wasn't a fun happy laugh either.  It was the type of laugh that sent chills through someone, a laugh that sounded maniacal as she simply lay there, tears falling from her eyes, unable to stop laughing.  Her face felt like it was searing with pain and she hoped she blinded Randy with that shot, laughing even harder when he slapped her next, only for her to laugh right through the pain.  Madisyn was losing her mind and honestly didn't care what happened to her at this point because death was very welcoming right now.


Trying not to pay any attention to the mad woman laughing wildly and hysterically on the bed, Randy procured the length of handcuffs he had bought and stored for an occasion such as this, but had hoped he would never have to use.  Pinning down her flailing limbs, he cuffed her wrists to each post, finally moving down to her feet.  He wasn't going to cuff them spread first, until he remembered how dangerous she was with those damn feet, his still healing nose giving a throb of pain to remind him.  He cuffed her ankles too.


“Keep it up, chuckles.” He muttered, getting off the bed and leaving her there in order to go check his eye.


Madisyn laughed as hard as she possibly could, yanking on the handcuffs and eventually passed out from the pain and exhaustion, silent tears streaming down her face.  Her arms felt as though they would fall off because of how tight the handcuffs were and Madisyn had yanked so hard they began to slow bleed, unbeknownst to Randy.  So when he came back hours later to check on her, Madisyn had blood running down both of her arms, lying there prone and breathing evenly, the black abyss so inviting. 


She didn't hear Randy curse or feel herself being released from the cuffs, didn't hear the water running while he tried stemming the blood flow from her wrists, though Madisyn had cut into the main veins of her wrists.  Her face was completely black and blue, swollen, her nose having dried blood on it.  She was no longer the beautiful honey blonde Randy once knew and probably never would be again.


Chapter 25


It'd been a week since Madisyn's disappearance and Aly had stayed with Mark in Madisyn's condo, sleeping on the couch.  She groaned when her phone began vibrating, causing her to reach for it blindly and opened it. “What?”


“I think I found her.”


Aly shot up from the couch, swallowing hard, hearing the voice of her private investigator friend, Kyle. “Where is she?”


“Apparently she was brought into the Austin Medical Center in Austin, Texas late last night under the name Madisyn Orton...”


“That mother fucker...” Mark was going to KILL Randy Orton. “Are they still there?”


“Yes, I'm sitting outside of the hospital right now, but I think they're releasing her sometime today.  You need to get here NOW, Aly.”


“We're on our way.” Aly hung up after getting the address and turned around, staring at Mark. “Kyle found her, but we've gotta hurry.  That mother fucker married her!!”




“Poor young thing...she's so lovely.  It is always the lovely ones who are suicidal.” The doctor said, staring down at the sedated Madisyn Orton, her husband standing worriedly over her. “We repaired the damage to the vein, however...”


Randy nodded, wearing an eye patch over the eye she had damaged.  It had been way too easy to explain that Madisyn was a model, who had had a bit too much to drink, had a very shallow moment followed by violence to him, which he had defended himself from and then tried taking her own life.  Randy was very persuasive when he had to be.  Once the doctor left, Randy decided this might be his only chance to tell Madisyn what he wanted, taking a seat beside her bed while she slept.


“Madi,” Randy began softly, finally spilling his story since she couldn't really do anything except listen to him. 


She was being restrained still and was lightly sedated.  The doctor and shrink would come speak to her, probably release her and then they were heading for Mexico.  He was also going to invest a strait jacket for her, the crazy bitch had tried to kill herself!  Reaching out, he lightly stroked her hair back from her face.


“Madi...Mark is…insane, you got to believe me.  That’s why I did what I did, I'm trying to keep you safe from him.  Can't you see that?” The desperation in his voice was almost believable and Randy wished she would open her eyes to hear what he had to say.


Madisyn pretended to be asleep as she kept her breathing even, her chest rising and falling slowly, hearing what Randy was telling her.  No, he was the insane one and she overheard the doctors saying that she would be released sometime that day and had to find a way to contact Mark.  Randy had completely made her out to be a suicidal lunatic and Madisyn knew this was her only chance to get away from him. 


When the doctor called Randy out to speak with him and sign some papers, Madisyn waited until they were walking down the hallway before opening her eyes.  The doctors had taken the restraints off of her, thinking she was sedated, but Madisyn had swapped the needles while the nurse was turned away from her.  So Madisyn only had a little bit of time because Randy would be back and she would have to pretend she was sleeping again.


“Insane my ass, no YOU'RE the insane one Orton.” She snorted and reached over for the phone, immediately dialing Mark's cell phone number, knowing it by heart. “God please answer...”


Mark answered on the first ring, knowing that him receiving a phone call from the hospital was no great coincidence. “Madi?” He asked hesitantly, really hoping it was her and not Orton.


Aly practically jumped at him, reaching for the phone, scowling when he literally held her out at arm's length away from him, trying to get closer. “Let me talk to her, you damn gorilla!”


“Madi, darlin', do you know what room you're in?  What section of the hospital?” He asked gently, wondering just why she sounded so...odd, his green eyes narrowing. “Where is he?”


“He's out speaking with the doctor.  Mark please, you have to get me out of here.  He's made them believe I'm this suicidal lunatic!” She whispered frantically, slowly edging her way out of bed, feeling weak because of the medication they had her on. “I'm in room 325 and it's on the south side of the hospital.  I don't know the name!” She began crying hysterically, her emotions all jostled up, just the sound of his voice sending her heart racing. “I love you, I love you with everything I am no matter what happens.  I didn't leave, I swear to god I was only trying to surprise you because I don't wanna lose you.  You're everything to me!  This mother fucker said you're insane and that he kidnapped me to protect me from you.  He's the insane one!  Oh shit, here they come, I love you and I'll try to stay here as much as I can.” She hung up the phone and immediately crawled back into bed, making sure nothing was out of place and closed her eyes, trying to slow her breathing and heart rate down. ‘Please hurry Mark.’ She thought, knowing the tears would probably tell Randy was slowly starting to awaken.


Mark clenched his cell phone tightly in his fist after closing it, squeezing tightly but fortunately did not crack the casing.  He was going to make good on his promise of embalming Randy Orton alive, his green eyes flashing with vicious pleasure at the thought.  Turning to Aly, he began informing her of what he had just been told, location of the room and the current situation.  He did not even want to think about how Randy had convinced them that Madisyn was suicidal.


Randy followed the doctor back inside the room, instantly moving over to Madisyn's side and stared down at her.  He seen the wetness on her cheeks, frowning slightly. “Sweetheart, are you awake?” He asked in a low rumble.


Madisyn mentally cursed herself for not wiping the tears away, slowly opening her eyes to meet Randy's, the swelling of her face having gone down a little, but it was still heavily bruised. “Randy?” She whispered out, looking around the hospital room, acting as if this was the first time she was seeing it since she was supposed to be 'sedated' the whole time she'd been there. “I'm so tired...” She murmured, closing her eyes again and placed her hand on her stomach, knowing she had to act like she was only half awake to give Mark and Aly more time, a few tears escaping her eyes.


“Of course you are, Mrs. Orton.” Her doctor said soothingly, smiling at how protective of her Randy was, his good eye staring down at his wife. “I'll go draw up the paperwork, and some instructions.  I'll be back in about an hour.  That should give the medicine plenty of time to work itself out.”


Randy nodded, gently squeezing Madisyn's hand.


Madisyn yanked her hand out of Randy's grasp, glaring at him out of narrowed eyes. “Don't touch me.  I can't believe you made them think I was crazy and suicidal.  You're the crazy one, you're only hurting yourself by trying to protect me.  Do me a favor, go fuck yourself, Orton.” She snapped in a low voice, turning her back to him and closed her eyes, wishing she was in Mark's arms at that moment and far away from this psycho. “I can't believe I trusted you...”


“What amazes me more is that you fucked me.” Randy replied in a low, somewhat cruel tone, wanting to hurt her just like she was hurting him, smirking coldly at the flash of pain that crossed her face at his words. “What's worse, you even liked it, Madisyn.  Or have your forgotten?” He skimmed his fingers up her arm until he reached the sleeve of her hospital gown.


“Stop it...” She brushed his fingers away from her arm, more tears falling because she knew he was absolutely right. “I trusted you.  I trusted you that you wouldn't hurt me…that you understood how I felt.  I told you before we even slept together that I loved Mark and I will always love him.” Madisyn suddenly got a cold smirk of her own on her face as she turned to face him, chuckling darkly. “What kills me is that you didn't even realize it wasn't you I was envisioning fucking that night.  It was Mark.  He was in my mind the whole time and he's the ONLY reason I came that night.  It wasn't you I was fucking, it was him.  Your limp dick could never measure up to his.”


Randy did not and was not even bothered in the slightest, his blue eye crinkling as a wicked smile curved his face. “If that helps you to sleep better at night, Madisyn.” He said softly. “You can go ahead and keep telling yourself that.  You were so heartbroken and sick over Mark not noticing you that you would have fucked anything that had the equipment, so long as he paid you some attention.  You were one desperate, pathetic broad.” If she wanted to play the 'hurt you' game, he could play it just as well.


“No, you were just pathetic enough to want something that you could never truly have.  I pitied you and maybe I was heartbroken over Mark, but I slept with you because I wanted to feel something.  Did you not notice that while you were fucking me, if you could even call it that, I had my eyes closed the whole time and I shouted Mark's name at the end?” Madisyn took in the hurt look that crossed Randy's face when she reminded him of that, remembering how he immediately went to sleep afterwards with his back turned to her. “What's the matter, did I strike a fucking nerve?” She didn't care and hoped he lashed out at her right in the hospital because then he would also be deemed crazy along with her.


Randy clenched both fists tightly at his side, not about to do anything to her in the hospital.  But when they were out of it, he was going to send her right back in, this time probably on the verge of death.  He could feel anger and rage coursing through him and had to actually turn around just so he wouldn't see the cruel smirk on her face.


“I'm going to go speed up the paperwork process, you seem just fine to me.” He said coldly, storming out of the room.




“This mother fucker is going DOWN.” Aly whipped her cell phone out, pissed beyond belief and dialed Kyle's number, her eyes not leaving the road for a second. “Kyle, Madisyn contacted us from inside the hospital.  We have to get her out of there along with Orton without stirring problems.  Do you have anything in mind?”


“I already got you covered, Aly.” Kyle chortled, though it didn't sound friendly, glancing over at the nurse and doctor's uniforms in the passenger seat. “When I found out she was in the hospital, I acquired a few costumes, think you'll enjoy becoming Nurse Alyssa?”


Aly smirked wickedly, glancing over at Mark. “Absolutely.”


Mark listened as Aly filled him in on what was her contact, Kyle's, plan, knowing his overly large ass would be remaining outside.  They were normal sized, they would blend in; he would be like Moses parting the Red Sea, minus the power of God on his side, more like Satan with the way he was currently feeling.  Very fucking evil.


Aly glanced at the clock and groaned, knowing they were running out of time. “COME ON!!  Move your asses!!” She beeped her horn and looked over at Mark, knowing they were only mere blocks away from the hospital. “We don't have time for this.  Take the wheel Mark.” She ordered, already getting out in the middle of traffic, ignoring his look of bewilderment. “Drive the fucking car to the hospital and meet us there!!  We have to get here out of there NOW!” Aly didn't wait to hear what he had to say, already jogging as fast as she could down the sidewalk with her bag in hand, refusing to ever carry a purse. “Just hang in there, Madi...”


Mark was more than tempted to go the route Aly was using, but they would need the car.  Cursing, he maneuvered himself over into the driver's seat, revving the car and shot it forward, hitting the brakes in time to nudge the idiot in front of him. “MOVE YOUR FUCKING ASS!”


Chapter 26


Kyle was waiting impatiently when Aly finally jogged up to his car, unlocking the door for her to get into the backseat. “Hurry up and change.”


Aly smoothed the peach colored nurse's scrubs on, groaning because this definitely wasn't her color. “God I hope this works.” She mumbled, rolling her eyes when Kyle assured her it would, wondering how the hell he managed to find out what color of scrubs the hospital had.  Kyle had his ways, which is why Aly called him because he hated going the legal route just as much as Mark did.  He preferred to get the job done HIS way, another factor she admired. “Come on, we're out of time, Madisyn needs to get out of there!”


“Been waiting on your slow ass.” He replied, already out of the car and heading for the employees entrance, passing her a badge. “You'll have to scan it at the door.  Don't ask.” He said when she shot him a quizzical look, his own badge clipped to his pocket.  He was a doctor today.  Doing things illegally was much more fun and efficient.  Less paperwork.


Aly nodded and headed over to the back entrance, looking up at the hospital. “What have you found out about Madi?” She demanded as they both headed inside through the stairwell, having pulled her hair back in a messy bun.


“She was under a psych evaluation, had a shrink, but I don't know about her physical appearance...” Kyle watched as a wicked gleam flashed through Aly's eyes, knowing the woman was as devious as him, if not more. “What's the plan?”


“We're going to walk right in and walk right back out with both Madisyn and Orton.  Give me the sedative.” They'd already discussed the plan somewhat over the phone and Aly took the needed Kyle procured from his coat pocket, slipping it into her own. “It's strong enough right and is fast acting?”


“Yeah, but you don't have much time to get this done.  I can only distract everyone in the damn hospital for so long, Aly.”


Kyle's plan of distraction involved triggering the fire alarm the moment they were on the psych ward, Aly blocking him while he did it.  And instantly, chaos ensued.  Orderly chaos, but enough to cause distractions away from Madisyn.  Nurses and doctors immediately began evacuating the patients while Kyle and Aly darted down the hallway to Madi's room, knowing they would not look out of place now since they too would be 'evacuating'.  On his way, he snatched a hospital gown off a trolley, really hoping this would cover the guy they were about to sedate, from the description Mark had given Aly and then given him, Randy was not 'normal' sized.


“What the fuck?” Randy blinked, the fire alarms blaring louder.


Madisyn's head snapped up when a nurse walked in, her eyes widening at the woman before her, swallowing hard. “What's going on?” She asked quietly, Randy having stood up from his chair upon hearing the fire alarms.


“We're being evacuated, there's a fire in the kitchen.” Nurse Aly lied smoothly, her eyes surveying the damage to Madisyn's face and was tempted to drive this sedative right into Randy Orton's heart. “Doctor, if you would please?”


“Excuse me sir, move now.” Kyle ordered, shoving Randy none too gently out of his way and began removing all the monitors and whatnot from Madisyn's body, sharing a worried glance with Aly. “Stay calm.” He whispered low in Madisyn's ear, feeling her nod once without Randy seeing it. “Okay now I'm just going to take this IV out of your arm...”


“Actually doctor, we'll have to sedate her since she is a psych patient...” Aly pulled the strong sedative out of her coat and went for Madisyn, only to stop, instead plunging it right in the side of Randy's neck, her eyes locking with his. “This is what happens when you fuck with my best friend, asshole.”




Before Randy could even form two words, he was dropping, feeling the drug racing through him, overriding his mind's orders to stand up and fight this, his eye slowly closing.


Kyle caught the idiot before he could hit ground, knowing dragging the man from a on the ground, dead weight position wouldn't be easy. “Aly, get me the wheelchair.” He grunted, nodding with his head towards the folded wheelchair in the corner.


When she had unfolded it, he none too gently shoved Randy in it, beginning to strap him in place so the lug wouldn't topple out.  Now THAT would have been highly unprofessional.  Grunting, he reached beneath his scrubs to pull out of extra set of clothes, his stomach deflating.


“Ten pounds lighter.  Here, Madisyn, you've just been made a nurse, better get her a cap and a mask though, her face is...fucked up.” He added to Aly.


“Kyle!” Aly slapped him upside the head, glaring when Madisyn just lowered her eyes, knowing the woman had been through some serious hell. “Come on Madi, we have to get you out of here.  Mark is outside waiting for you.”


That was motivation enough and Madisyn didn't care how Aly and Mark came to meet, slipping from the bed, Kyle bandaging her arm from where the IV was.  She quickly slipped into the peach color scrubs that matched Aly's, putting a scrub cap on along with a mask, making it look as though she was heading toward surgery.  Surgeon Madisyn.  She would laugh about it later, right now they had to get out of there while the hospital was being evacuated.


“How are we getting out of here without being caught?” Madisyn asked somewhat fearfully.


“We're taking the back entrance, there's an elevator and I honestly don't care how the hell Kyle gets Randy out of here.” He could wheel the damn wheelchair down the steps and make Randy's body crash through the door, it didn't matter to her. “By the way, what happened to his eye?”


“He's not one of those pirate loving bastards is he?”


“No, I blinded him by punching him in the eye with a steel chain.”


“Well good for you, he deserved it.” Kyle smiled at her, wheeling Randy out the door.


It was still orderly chaos, the patients being lined up and marched one at a time down the stairs, ones who were unable to take the stairs being let in the elevator reluctantly.  Kyle wheeled around so they were heading in the direction opposite everyone else.  Of course the staff stairwell and elevators were being used as well since there was a 'fire' somewhere, but he navigated using Randy as his bumper until they reached the elevator, glancing back at Madisyn and Aly.


“Get in.” He ordered, none too gently nudging a nurse out of his way. “Go get the woman in 325!” He ordered in an authoritative voice, knowing that woman was Madisyn.  When she scurried off, he let the girls on first before backing in with Mark's soon to be patient.  Once the doors had slid shut, he let out a breath. 


Now they just had to make it to the car and they were all home free.


Aly immediately began crying, wrapping her arms tightly around Madisyn's neck, shaking. “I'm sorry!  I shouldn't have left you by yourself that late at night!  What the hell was I thinking?  My god look at you!  Are you okay?”


Madisyn nodded, tears streaming down her face and knew she was finally going to be free of this bastard, not able to help hugging her best friend back. “Oww...” She winced at her face and wrists, which were currently heavily bandaged, Aly taking them gently in her hands.




“It's not what you think.  I'm not crazy.  The handcuffs...He...” The elevator dinged, signaling this was their time to get off and Kyle went first with a still sedated Randy in the wheelchair, the floor empty, which was a good thing. 


Kyle swiped his card and they walked out the same way they came in, just as Aly wanted.


“Mark!!” Aly waved when she saw the black car speeding toward them, never releasing Madisyn's hand.


Mark was going to assume that the sudden surge of fire trucks and police cars were due to something Kyle had done.  He wanted to both congratulate the guy for causing total mayhem and smack him at the same time for making it a hell of a lot harder to get out of here.  He was out of the car as soon as he had stopped it to a screeching halt in front of them, taking Madisyn from Aly and pulled her up into his arms bridal style, his green eyes devouring her face.


“What the hell did he do to you, darlin'?” He murmured worriedly.


“Reunion time later, we got to go.” Kyle ordered, popping the trunk and working with Aly to unceremoniously dump Randy into, folding the wheelchair and then dropped that on top of the unconscious man, slamming it down a few times so it would fit properly.  Neither were overly minding the fact that Randy's face was now bleeding. “Alright, the luggage is packed.  Everyone in!”


Madisyn sobbed harshly and couldn't talk, burying her face in Mark's neck, knowing he probably thought she was hideous right now.  She felt him slip into the car with her securely in his lap while Kyle hopped into his own car, following them out of there.  They managed to get through traffic relatively quickly before heading from Austin to Houston with Madisyn and an unconscious Randy in tow.


“You better kill him for what he did to her, Mark.” Aly stated evenly, tears rushing down her face and the woman did not cry often, immediately wiping them away.


Mark's body heat combined with all the trauma Madisyn suffered made her pass out against him, her entire body going limp, not even feeling when Mark lifted her hand to survey her heavily bandaged wrists.


“She said something about handcuffs...”


Kyle was reading the doctor's report he had taken from her bed, driving with one hand, his eyes darting between paper and road. “Says here she tore her veins.” He said after a moment, gathering she had done that with the handcuffs and wondered if that was Madisyn trying to escape or injure herself badly enough where Randy would have to take her out in the open, probably both.


“Tore her veins?” Mark echoed, staring at the bandages on her wrists in a whole new light.


“She said handcuffs so that asshole probably put them on her super tight to where they would cut into her wrists.  I know Madisyn, she wouldn't have taken that without fighting.” Aly couldn't believe what happened to Madisyn, deciding moving to Houston was the smart route to go just so she could be closer.  The surprise photo shoot turned into a full-fledged nightmare and nobody knew how Madisyn was going to react once she woke up. “Her face looks terrible, damn him...”


“Imagine how it must've looked before he took her to the hospital, that one side looks older than the other...” Kyle shut up when he caught Mark's eye in the rearview mirror, passing the paperwork to Aly, clearing his throat and just focused on driving.


Mark had already noticed that and had made the assumption that Randy had smacked her around on a few occasions.  That meant he had laid his hands on Madisyn more than just once.  It also meant Mark was now going to prolong the other man's death by at least three days, maybe four.


The rest of the drive to Houston was made in silence, Aly warning Kyle with her eyes if he said another word about how Madisyn looked, she was going to let Mark kill him too.  They finally pulled up to Madisyn's condo, needing to grab her a few things because Mark was taking her back to his place at C & S. “Do you mind if I stay in her condo for a few days?” When Mark shook his head, Aly slipped out of the car along with Kyle, knowing she had a promise to keep for all the hell he'd gone through for her.


Kyle smirked while Mark went to the driver's side of the car, wrapping his arm around

Aly's waist as they headed inside Madisyn's condo.  They'd clean up after themselves. “Come on, we have making up to do.” He pushed her inside the door, Aly having the keys Mark gave her to the condo.


Mark had to snort as he watched them heading inside, shaking his head.  He glanced into the backseat where Madisyn was still sound asleep, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, waiting for Aly to bring down a bag.  He didn't have anything for Madisyn at his place, they usually stayed here.  But he wanted Madisyn where he knew she was safe, that and he also needed the equipment down in the basement for Mr. Orton.  When Aly came sprinting back out with the bag, he shook his head at her already semi-disheveled state.


“I'll have her call you when she wakes up and is feeling better.” He promised through the open window, setting the bag on the seat alongside him. When Aly had disappeared back inside, he pulled away, making sure to hit every little bump on the way home, knowing Randy was probably very cramped back there in the trunk with the wheelchair.


Chapter 27


Hours later, Madisyn slowly opened her eyes, waiting for the pain to come to her face like always.  Nothing happened though.  Madisyn touched her face and blinked a few times, not feeling any swelling, no pain except in her wrists, which still had thick white bandages around them.  Slowly sitting up, Madisyn surveyed the room she was in and covered her mouth with her hand, Mark's scent overwhelming her. 


She was back with him, the hospital hadn't been a dream.  This was his small loft over the funeral home, which Madisyn couldn't have been happier to see.  Blinking, tears slid down her face and Madisyn couldn't help burying it in her hands, not believing what Randy did to her.


Randy was awake, but not for long.  Mark was humming cheerfully as he filled a syringe, arching an eyebrow in Randy's direction.  Randy was currently strapped to one of his embalming tables, the table having been angled so Randy was in an upright position.


“Don't worry son, this'll just put you back to sleep.” He said almost soothingly, really liking the way sweat was beading on Randy's forehead. “I've got to go check on Madisyn and it would be outright rude of me to leave you down here conscious.”


That and he wasn't taking any chances of Randy somehow getting that ball gag out of his mouth and screaming his head off.  Highly unlikely, but...Mark did not believe in leaving anything to fate, not anymore.  Grinning savagely, he sunk the needle into Randy's neck, staring into the other man's wide blue eyes.


“Enjoy your nap because when I come back die.” Mark promised darkly, waited until Randy was out before checking his pulse, nodded and headed upstairs.


Madisyn was currently in the bathroom surveying her face in the mirror, wondering how the hell her bruised face had managed to change from being black and blue to having a slight yellowish purple tint.  She still looked horrific, Madisyn could feel the tears burning her eyes and turned the water on with trembling hands, splashing her face.  She gripped the sink and closed her eyes, trying to take a few deep breaths to slow her racing heart.  Madisyn immediately stripped out of her clothes when she realized she was wearing the ones Randy forced on her, tossing them in the trashcan and started the bath water, wanting to scrub her skin until she couldn't feel him anymore.  She could still feel his fingertips running up her arm and that just made her tremble even more.


Mark heard the shower going when he walked into his wide open apartment, knowing Madisyn had woken up and was probably washing herself clean of anything remotely related to the punk downstairs.  Sighing, he walked over to the couch and picked up her bag before walking to the bathroom, knocking once on the door before stepping inside. “Darlin'?” He called gently, slowly peeling back the shower curtain until he seen her. 


His heart broke when he seen what she was doing, scrubbing herself so hard and furiously her skin would be raw.  He wasn't worried about her wrists, he had rewrapped them with waterproof tape over the gauze.  When she began peeling at them, he reached out to gently touch her shoulder, catching her when she spun around.  Seeing her like this nearly drove Mark to his knees, wanting to make everything alright for her and didn’t know how.


“M-Mark...” She stammered, blinking the water out of her eyes, his hands gently on her arms to keep her from tripping over her own two feet. 


He was here.  He was in the flesh and Madisyn could feel tears of relief sliding down her cheeks mixing with the water.  At first she wanted a bath, but then realized that wasn't going to wash anything away, wanting it to all go down the drain.


“I'm sorry!  I'm so sorry!  I didn't mean for this to happen!  I just wanted to make you happy!  I thought the photo shoot...and then you...and...” She was stumbling over her words again and simply buried her face in his shirt covered shirt, fistfuls of material in her hands as she sobbed heartbrokenly. “I didn't leave...”


Not caring that he was getting drenched, Mark kicked off his shoes and socks before climbing into the shower with her, wrapping her tightly in his arms, allowing the water to beat down on both of them. “I know darlin’, I know.” He soothed, running a hand up and down her back, swearing he was never going to let her go after all this. “I know what happened, Madi, I know you didn't leave, shhh...” He whispered, bending down to kiss the top of her head, each sob from her piercing his chest painfully. “I should have been there, somehow...”


“You had no idea what I was doing and we both trusted him...” Madisyn stated through sobs, feeling him pull back enough to wipe her tears away even as the water beat down around them. “He said he was protecting me, that you were insane...I don't understand what he could've been thinking.  He wasn't protecting me, he was hurting me, hitting me whenever I tried to get away from him...” Madisyn held her wrists up and closed her eyes, knowing it must've looked really bad because of the condition she was in. “I didn't hurt myself either!  I'm not suicidal!  He cuffed my wrists to the bed and I started yanking on them to try to get free.  They were so tight...” Wrapping her arms around his waist tightly, she continued sobbing and crying violently, hiccupping. “I-I thought...I thought I'd never see you a-again...He said you wouldn't be able to find me...and I started believing him...”


“I know darlin, I know.” He kept repeating, letting her get it all out, his blood slowly beginning to simmer at the thought of everything she had been through, all the bullshit Randy had tried filling her head with, the abuse she had suffered at his hands. “He's never going to hurt you again, Madisyn, I'll make sure of it.” He promised, running his thumb along her yellowish cheek, having applied salve regularly to speed up the healing and fade the bruising, knowing she would want no lasting reminders of her ordeal.  Sadly, there was nothing he could do about her wrists. “You're safe now with me, we found you, you're safe.”


“You still want me after this?” She asked in a cracked voice, fresh tears building when Mark nodded while still stroking her face tenderly with his strong hand. “I love you.”


She placed her hand over his, curling their fingers together and grabbed the back of his neck to pull him down as their lips touched for the first time in over a week.  Madisyn needed him to make her forget everything that happened, to show her how much he loved and desired her.  She wanted solid proof and moaned when he immediately kissed her back, wrapping one arm around her waist, pulling her closer to him.  Madisyn immediately went to work on his belt and jeans, almost frantic to get them off of him as he pressed her back against the shower wall.


“God fuck me...I need to feel you deep inside of me, Mark...” She groaned, fairly certain she was going to erupt like a volcano before long, shivering at the feeling of him being this close, having vowed to give him everything if she ever saw him again.


Several things were going through Mark's mind, the first and foremost being, do exactly as she had said and fuck her.  But at the same time, he knew she was emotionally traumatized and didn't want to make that worse for her in some way, wondering if he would be taking advantage of her fragile state if he did make love to her.  With a groan of pure agony, he gently freed her hands from his jeans, staring down at her.


“I don't want to hurt you, Madi.” He said softly, his fingertips grazing the wet bandages on her wrists, knowing those would have to be changed.  And if they DID do this, it was not going to be in a shower.


“I can't be anymore hurt at this point.” Madisyn pulled away from him slightly and could feel the desire flooding out of her body, making her nod in understanding. 


Of course he didn't want to make love to her, she was a complete mess!  Madisyn sniffled as she stepped out of the show