When Two Are One


Chapter 1

Vince McMahon stared down at his niece, raising one eyebrow slowly. Just HOW had he wound up with this worthless, sack of filth? Oh yes. He growled softly, watching as her eyes widened momentarily. “You are a waste of space.” He said slowly, not moving from the doorway, just glaring at her. “You shouldn't even BE HERE. And by that, I do mean on this EARTH.” He snarled.

Cold, dead midnight blue eyes stared back at him as July sat on her cot of straw, wearing a worn down black dress that looked like it came out of the dumpster. Her long black hair flowed down her back in waves, resting against the straw and her feet were bare. Her complexion was pale white, hardly being out in the sun these days. “Yes sir.” She whispered, lowering her eyes from his angry brown ones, closing them. This was the treatment she'd received for over twenty years and July silently wondered when it would end, when she would finally be happy again.

Vince studied her disgustedly. “It's only fitting you live like a pig you know.” He said scathingly. “Since that's what you are! You're lazy, you sit up here and do NOTHING and I CAN'T stand the sight of you!” He raged, looking like he was going to fly at her and hit her. He watched as her long black hair slid down over her face as she lowered her head slightly, eyes narrowing. “Just WHAT are you good for?”

She could not even cry anymore, that's how dead she was inside. Ever since her parents died when she was an infant, July had been treated like the lowest form on dirt by her uncle, who was also her godfather. He'd been forced to take her in after her parents suffered a horrific car accident on the way back from celebrating their ten year anniversary as a married couple. The car had exploded in flames on impact, burning them instantly. Due a drunk driver, July's world had been a nightmare since birth and no light had shone in the woman's life.

“Nothing sir.” She whispered, not looking up at him, her hands resting in her lap, her shoulders slumped in pure defeat.

“Well then July, we'll have to find something that you ARE good at or something we can MAKE you good at.” He spat disgustedly, folding his arms over his chest, shaking his head like she was the ultimate disappointment in his life, which she was. He started to say something then froze, his eyes taking on a decidedly vicious look. “Stand up.” He ordered.

Shakily getting to her feet, July could not stop herself from noticing the devious look that came over her uncle's eyes, swallowing past the lump that formed in her throat. She was a twenty-two year old girl in a woman's body. Her figure was beautiful, the perfect curves, but the way she carried herself was of a meek child. She winced when he grabbed her chin, but didn't dare blink or close her eyes, knowing that would only make him angrier at her than he already was. Though she hadn't done a wrong to him, except breathe. Apparently that was all it took.

Vince quickly strode across the sloped attic floor, grabbing July by her arm and staring down at her. He held her at arm's length, his eyes slowly raking over her body, appraising her. “You are beautiful.” He said flatly, looking disgusted again before turning her around. “Very beautiful. A little scrawny, but...” He stepped away a smirk on his face. “I think you'll do...”

Her blue eyes widened when he said that last part, trying hard to fight the urge to pull away from him, knowing that would be a fatal mistake. “D-Do sir?” She finally asked her voice meek and quiet, feeling sick to her stomach by the predatory look that came over his eyes. Fear was consuming her quickly; knowing whatever he had planned for her wasn't going to be good, gasping when he yanked her to press against his chest.

“Oh yes, July.” Vince nodded, hissing her name; his eyes alight with a familiar fire, an idea brewing obviously in his demented little mind. “I think we've FINALLY found something even someone like YOU can do...” He began laughing softly as he walked away from her. “Yes indeed.”

“W-What do you mean, sir?” July asked, beginning to tremble from head to toe, actually taking a step back when her uncle simply shot her a deadly glare.

Her head instantly lowered as she wrapped her arms around herself, sinking back down on her straw cot, silent tears running down her pale face. Whatever he had planned for her, July knew she was in trouble regardless. Hell, she'd been in trouble since she was born and sniffled softly at the mere wonder of what was to come.

Vince snorted, giving her one last appraising look before walking out of the attic. He halted, turned and poked his head back in the door. “I'm sending up a maid to help you bathe and dress, I expect you downstairs in ONE hour.” He walked back out. He would take a few pictures of his beautiful niece, place a phone call and fax the pictures to sweeten the deal. Oh yes, July had finally found her niche.

“What are you doing now?” Linda demanded her husband as he walked downstairs from the attic, knowing he was tormenting their poor niece. For years, Linda had wondered why Vince hated July so much and she couldn't put her finger on it. The only thing she could really think of was that he was silently grieving for his brother's death. It hadn't been easy taking in another child, especially an infant, but Linda did it with all the love she could. Though she was not allowed to speak to July unless Vince wasn't around and even then the poor girl hardly spoke. “Vince, I asked you a question and I want an answer! What are you planning to do with July?”

“Put her to work.” Vince said flatly, not in the mood for Linda's Girl Scout nature to come through. “Just go...do something and mind your own business, Linda.” He ordered, pushing her away when she came near him. “NOW!” He watched as she shook her head before disappearing. “Interfering woman...” He snorted, heading into his studio.

What the hell was her husband planning? Linda sighed heavily and walked into her own study, closing the door, wishing there was something she could do to stop this from happening. Whatever it was, Linda knew it wasn't good, just by the demonic look that came over Vince's eyes. He was a cold man at mind and heart; she wondered briefly why she was still married to him.

Against her will, July was taken from the attic downstairs to a bathroom, undressed and bathed. She then sat in a chair while her hair was teased in loose black curls that hung down her back, hugging her waist. Her eyes were outlined in black eyeliner, bringing out the blue in them and her lips painted with clear gloss. The outfit she wore was a simple black tank dress that went two inches above the knee with two inch black knee high boots that zipped up the sides. July wrapped her arms around herself and kept her head lowered as the maid escorted her out of the bathroom and toward her uncle's studio.

Vince had wasted no time in calling over a photographer, busy discussing what he wanted with the man. “Don't make her look like a slut,” He was saying, ignoring July when she walked in. “Sexy, but not a slut. He won't be interested in a whore. Something mysterious, I want him to take the hook.” He finally looked at her, smirking. “And here's the bait.”

July winced as her uncle forcefully dragged her over to stand in front of a camera, closing her eyes when he immediately made her change the outfit. Instead, she ended up wearing a long black skirt with a deep purple tank top that had a lace lining to it. When Vince was pleased with her outfit, the pictures were taken. She winced when Vince squeezed her arm to the point where she dropped to her knees when she refused to look in the camera, finally looking up with such sadness and despair in her eyes. The photographer looked uneasy and she honestly didn't blame him while he took picture after picture of her, making her feel dirtier than normal.

“If you don't flash a smile, July, you're going to regret it!” Vince hissed in her ear, digging his fingers into her arm, leaving deep bruises. “NOW!”

“I think what we have is fine-”

“I'll be the judge of that, you just snap the goddamn pictures and be quiet!”

She cried out softly, biting her bottom lip as the tears stung her eyes, the pain radiating in her arm. Her uncle wasn't exactly a small man and she could already feel the bruises forming. “Alright...” She whispered painfully, feeling him release her as she stumbled back, taking a deep breath. The barest hint of a smile formed on her glossy lips as July looked in the camera, but it didn't reach her eyes and that's all Vince was getting. He could kill her, but July wasn't smiling any more than that as she rapidly blinked back the tears in her eyes.

Knowing that was probably the best this worthless bag of waste could do, Vince let it go. He nodded when the photographer asked if that was enough. “I expect those pictures IMMEDIATELY.” He said, stressing the word. “You.” He spun to glare at his niece. “You can go back to your- no...LINDA!” He bellowed waiting until his wife appeared. “Put July into a guest room and see that she gets a few new clothes...black and purple. I want her fed as well; let's get some roses in those cheeks. She's going to be very, VERY busy soon.”

Linda blinked at her husband, crossing her arms in front of her chest, wondering what had gotten into him. “Come here, July.” She softly said, holding her hand out, seeing how shaken their niece was. She seen the makeup, the hair, the outfit and raised a slow eyebrow at her husband who was shooing them out of his studio. Still, she did what she was told and had a maid usher July to one of the guest rooms along with a new black and purple wardrobe.

Through all of this, July could only obey and do what she was told, sitting on the bed while everyone else bustled around her. What had come over her uncle to give her remotely ANYTHING nice all of a sudden? “What is going on?” She whispered to herself, tears sliding down her cheeks.

Vince waited impatiently, finally getting the pictures and eagerly shifted through him. Forcing himself to pretend this bit of trash wasn't his blood and flesh, he examined them critically. The melancholy in her eyes, the obvious sadness not to mention how beautiful and gorgeous she was. Well, the man he had her in mind for would be HOOKED. Vince simply knew it. Brown eyes shining with both fear and excitement, he picked up the phone, ready to make that call now.


“Auntie, what's going on?” July quietly asked when Linda came into her room, her new room, which was a deep lavender and white. “Please, I'm so confused...” The heart break in her eyes, the sadness in her tone of voice, it was nearly too much for Linda to bear.

“I don't know, July. Your uncle is taking you on the road with him, that's all I know. I'm so sorry.” She softly answered, staring back into her niece's terrified blue eyes, and simply walked out of the door.

July was trembling from head to toe now, completely petrified.


Vince had to wait some more after making that phone call. He'd faxed the pictures and only gotten a brief reply: bring her. He knew that wasn't a deal sealer, no doubt his 'fish' needed to see the bait in person. He swallowed hard, rubbing the top of his head with both hands. Hopefully with any luck, July would be out of his hair shortly. He went to oversee the packing of her clothes personally, deciding right then and there he was going to do whatever it took to make this happen.


“No...” July whimpered when her uncle literally dragged her toward the front door, wearing a pair of black dress pants with a long sleeved deep purple top, the colors she was forced to wear. She cried out softly when Vince buried his hand in her black hair, yanking her toward the door and shoved her out of it. July stumbled up as she backed down the stairs, tears in her eyes, wondering what was going on, seeing the full lit moon shining down on them. “Uncle, please...” She knew it was useless in begging, but she didn't want to leave and squeaked in fear when he shoved her into the waiting limo, beginning to tremble again.

“Vince, please reconsider...” Linda immediately backed up when her husband's vicious eyes stared hardening at her, causing her to swallow hard before going back inside the mansion.


“Auntie can't save you now GET IN THE CAR!” Vince all but roared, tossing her through the waiting open door and slid in after her. He nodded at the driver, ignoring the man's incredulous stare. “DRIVE!” He bellowed. They had a schedule to keep and knew if he was late...well, if they were late then it would be July who paid the price damn it, not him!

Curling up in a ball in the seat, July rested her head against the window while her body trembled violently. Tears poured down her cheeks as she stared up at the stars, the sobs tearing through her body, having a sinking feeling she'd never see her Aunt Linda again. She was the only one who showed an ounce of kindness toward her and July loved her for that reason. ‘Mom. Dad.’ She thought and closed her eyes tightly shut, her head lowered while the black hair hid her tears.

“Stop that blubbering.” Vince said crossly, watching her with a sneer on his face. “You'll ruin how you look.” That was the last thing he needed, showing her off with a tear stained face and swollen eyes. That would make a GREAT picture. “You make this deal go sour and you will REGRET it, July, do you understand me?”

“W-What deal?” She choked out, wincing and crying out when he grabbed her already sore arm, whimpering and looked away from him. She couldn't help crying her heart out; not knowing what was going on. The tighter his grip became, the more tears flowed down her cheeks as she tried getting away from him. “Y-You're hurting me...” She whispered out brokenly and had to take a few deep breaths before she began sobbing again. Why was he so cruel toward her? She'd been nothing shy of quiet all these years and never caused him problems. Why did he hate her with the fire of a thousand suns?

“I'm going to do more than hurt you if you don't stop that crying right now July.” He said viciously, letting go and wiping his hand off on his pants like she had contaminated him or something. “And never you mind about what's going to happen. Suffice to say you'll FINALLY be earning your keep, not to mention out of my hair. For GOOD.” He rubbed his hands together, already gloating. “If you don't screw up that is, and you had better not screw up.”

That just made the woman cry harder as she shook her head back and forth, burying her hands in her hair, squeezing it between her fingers. He was sending her away? Where? July looked up when the airport came into view, swallowing hard. She'd never been on a plane before and the curiosity of it stopped her tears momentarily. The limo stopped in front of the airport and July stepped out, trembling slightly and was ushered through security toward the airport terminal. Within an hour, July was strapped in on an airplane that descended in the sky, heading for a destination unknown.

Chapter 2

Vince fidgeted in his seat, sparing her a glance and then waving off the hostess when she offered them drinks. “No, nothing.” He said, gesturing her away irritably.

Looking affronted, the stewardess moved away to other, more polite passengers.

“Now, when you meet this man, don't talk to him, understand me?” Vince had the entire flight to drill things into July's thick skull and he'd be damned if he didn't do it.

A man? He was sending her with a man?! July could only nod as she stared out the window, wincing when her uncle grabbed her arm again, forcing her to look at him with those sad blue eyes, nodding. “Yes sir.” She whispered, closing her eyes to keep the tears in them, sighing with inner relief when he released her arm. Though it peeked her curiosity why she couldn't talk to this man her uncle was telling her about. Throughout the entire flight she simply nodded and answered him the same way, grateful he hadn't bruised her arm even more.

“When you do meet him, don't look him in the eyes either.” Vince said as an afterthought, stroking his chin thoughtfully. The more mysterious July came across, the more interesting she would appear, which was what he wanted. “No talking, no looking, understand? You just speak when you're spoken too and keep your answers short. Anything he asks you to do, do it. Don't be a pain in the ass, understand?”

She could only nod, shivering at the mere thought of doing anything a man asked her to do. The only men July had been around all of her life were Shane and Vince, no other. She took a deep breath, listening intently to her uncle as they walked through the airport terminal, though she was taking her time. She winced when he hurried her along by grabbing her arm, shoving her through security and toward the awaiting limo.

She knew it was late as she was shoved inside, just like back in Greenwich, and missed it already. She missed her attic room with the straw cot because at least she had peace and tranquility there. Now, she was with her uncle in a strange place and she was about to come face to face with a man that she couldn't look in the eyes, talk to unless she was spoken too or cry. Crying was going to be an issue because the tears began sliding down her cheeks at the mere thoughts that ran through her mind.

He grew more and more nervous as they approached their destination, wringing his hands together anxiously. Every now and again checking with the driver to see how long it would be. He swallowed hard when they pulled up in front of a huge building, glancing at July. “This is it, girl, remember everything I told you?” He demanded, trying to be stern, but his voice coming out a squeak.

“Y-Yes sir...” She managed to choke out in a whisper, trying to will the tears from her eyes and winced when he grabbed her arm again, squeezing. “I'm trying...”

What did he possibly expect from her? This was a huge change in her life and he just wanted her to be happy about it! Life didn't work that way and neither did human emotions! July was yanked from the limo; Vince's hand wrapped around her wrist and dragged her inside the huge building. Her head lowered instantly, black hair hiding her pale face, just letting him guide her wherever. Her heart was thundering against her chest, the fear nearly consuming her whole, and prayed whoever her uncle was leaving her with showed more mercy than he had on her. She doubted it highly though, especially since her uncle was shaking like a leaf currently.

Vince cleared his throat, not once, not twice, but three times. Looking like he would rather be anywhere else right now, he stopped in front of a door, hesitantly raising his hand to knock. He lowered it, glancing down at her, eyes appraising her before stiffly nodding as if mentally reassuring himself his plan would work out. Then he knocked, bracing himself. He winced when a deep baritone sounded through the door.


“I've...I've brought her.” He said, licking his dry lips and stepped into the room, pulling her after him.

July kept her eyes closed, refusing to look up, trying to go to another place. She winced when her uncle pulled her forward before releasing her wrist, causing her to wrap her arms around herself. She couldn't believe this was happening, though why should it surprise her? July knew sooner or later she would be used for something to gain advantage for her uncle because he was that heartless and cruel. He'd treated her like something drug off the streets instead of his own niece, his own flesh and blood, who he was condemning now. She did what he said though and kept her head lowered, her eyes closed, her entire body was stiff and cold and no tears fell down her cheeks because they were being kept in due to her shut lids.

“Mmm...” That baritone rumbled, black boots appearing in her line of vision. “She is indeed beautiful, McMahon. The pictures did not do her justice.” A pair of hard, cold fingers gripped her chin, forcing her head back. Acid green met broken blue. He inhaled sharply, searching her eyes with his, taken back by the overwhelming sadness he seen swirling in those orbs.

“Is- is something wrong, Undertaker?”

Her stomach was twisting violently as she stared into acid green eyes, not believing how gigantic this man was. Her uncle was insane leaving her with this monster!! He wasn't alone either. She could feel it, but she didn't dare take her eyes from his, doing exactly what her uncle said. She wasn't fighting him off; she was simply standing there, arms hanging at her sides, total defeat in her eyes. Because that's what she was, defeated, she had been since she was born. She never once felt a shred or an ounce of love in her life, just simple kindness and hatred. She willed the tears to stay in her eyes as they glistened over the dim lighting in the dressing room and could only pray this man didn't snap her in half.

“Nothing is wrong, yet.” He rumbled, taking her hands and gently raising her arms, his eyes not missing when she involuntarily flinched. “She is untouched, unharmed?”

“Of- of course.” Vince lied through his teeth, hoping 'Taker didn't see those bruised arms UNTIL he was long gone.

“Hmm.” He ran a lock of her hair through his fingers, studying her intently, fascinated with her eyes. Eyes were a window to a person's soul and all he could see was pain.

Unharmed to where he couldn't see, but July was smart enough not to voice that. She breathed in and out evenly, knowing if she freaked out there would be some SERIOUS hell to pay. Though her eyes could not stop from glancing around the room, seeing eyes shining through the darkness back at her. Though her eyes immediately went back to his when he cupped her face in his hand, a shudder running through her body and she tried as hard as she could to fight it off, biting her bottom lip to keep from either screaming or making a sound.

He had both felt and seen the shudder, his green eyes narrowing slightly, looking over her shoulder at Vince. “She will suffice.”

“So...no need for Stephanie then?” Vince asked hopefully.

“Not at the present, no.”

Vince took that as a yes. “Then we're done?”

“You may leave.”

July was fighting so hard not to turn around and attack her uncle, not believing this. She was taking Stephanie's place by this man's side? Is that what this was all about? He was protecting his precious, spoiled princess and using her as leverage! Her eyes slid shut as she heard the door close ominously behind her, beginning to tremble from head to toe, clenching her fists tightly at her sides as she fought the sobs back, fought the pain and heartache. She was fighting every emotion, every feeling, everything and lowered her head.

He didn't look away from her, slowly beginning to circle the obviously scared woman, his hands clasped behind his back. He looked around at his Ministry, seeing them staring at her and growled, a cruel smirk forming on his lips when they all found something else to look at. “What is your name, girl?” He asked finally, resting a heavy hand on her shoulder.

“July.” She said in barely above a whisper, his touch only forcing her to tremble more. Taking a few silent deep breaths, July managed to calm herself down and slowly opened her eyes, the room darkened for the most part. She noticed the colors and immediately knew why her uncle had forced her to wear what she did, only to lower her head again. Her uncle had literally and figuratively fed her to the wolves without any remorse.

“July.” He echoed, walking over to sit on the only chair in the room, the rest of his Ministry sitting on hard, wooden benches. “Did your Uncle tell you why you're here, July?” He asked, nodding at something Paul Bearer whispered to him, waving him off with a bored gesture. “I gather not from your expression.” He snorted, wondering just where Vince had been keeping this girl and why in the hell was she such...such a child. That was what she reminded him of. “How old are you?” He demanded, wondering if he'd have to snap Vince's pencil neck after all.

“Twenty-two.” She answered softly, not moving a muscle when she felt a figure behind her, to her right, to her left.

What the hell had her uncle gotten her into? There were more people in this dressing room than she thought necessary, but she didn't show it. Her eyes were cold and dead again, obedient as it were. No fire, no life, there was no point. She had no reason to live and had merely existed because of her Aunt Linda. She had no contact to the outside world, she was home schooled, she never even had a date, nothing. She had absolutely nothing.

“Twenty-two.” He echoed again, arching an eyebrow. 'Taker accepted a bottle of water Mideon brought him, his eyes never leaving July's. “Mideon, fetch her a chair.” He ordered, snapping his fingers twice. “And how are you related to McMahon? His... niece?” He found that hard to believe, not seeing any resemblance at all, not even a minor hint. His green eyes narrowed, wondering if Vince had pulled some hooker off the street or something.

“Yes...” She blinked and sat down in the chair, looking at the guy who had a T with an X on his forehead before looking down at her lap again. “I've lived with him since I was born.” She admitted quietly, knowing he wanted to know her family history. Nobody had ever asked her before and as far as her looks went, July got them from her mother except her blue eyes. Those came from her father and they nearly resembled Stephanie and Linda's eyes, only they were darker. A midnight blue. “Thank you.” She whispered to the man who brought her the chair as an afterthought, staring down at her lap.

Mideon stared at her like she was out of her mind, not entirely sure what to say. He glanced at 'Taker who merely nodded and licked his lips. “You're welcome.” He said the words a bit unfamiliar on his tongue. Manners were something he rarely used, there didn't seem to be a need too.

“How come I've never seen you before?” 'Taker demanded, drumming his fingers on his massive thigh. “Vince, Linda, Shane, Stephanie...” He chuckled darkly at mentioning the Princess. “But never you...why is that, July?”

This was going to sound pathetic and she knew it, but what could she honestly do? Not answer him? That'd bode real well, NOT! “He kept me at his house in the attic.” That sounded absolutely sickening and July couldn't look at anyone, closing her eyes tightly shut. “If you don't believe him, he has my birth certificate and information.” She quietly said, knowing he probably didn't believe a word she was saying. Why should he? She was saying she was a McMahon and yet, she had no identity or anything, not even a driver's license.

Oh, 'Taker believed her all right. Simply because he had the uncanny ability to tell when someone was lying to him, usually. That and the pain that radiated from this girl was enough to tell the tale. So Vince had raised his niece in the attic, and no doubt abused her as well. “Everyone out.” He said flatly, gesturing for July to remain seated. Once the room had emptied, he stroked his goatee, studying her. “I asked Vince earlier, now I am asking you, are you unharmed?”

She slowly looked up at him, tears shining in her blue eyes, and swallowed hard. “I-I don't know what you mean, sir. H-He hasn't...beaten me if that's what you mean...” July swallowed hard and wrapped her arms around herself, once again fighting the tears back.

“He doesn't have to beat you for you to be hurt in any way.” He replied knowingly, having seen the way Vince had dragged her into the room. “Let me see your arm.” It wasn't a request, but a command.

Now July was terrified, but knew she couldn't deny him what he wanted to see. Slowly, she stretched her arm out, her hair hiding her face and finally let a few tears slip down her cheeks while he examined it. She winced when he pressed on the blue and purple handprint shaped bruises that were forming on her upper arm where he'd grabbed her and knew she was probably going right back to her dear Uncle Vince. She would rather eat nails, but at the same time, July wanted to be away from this man and this place.

'Taker was LIVID. How dare Vince send him someone who was...marked! He growled angrily, his anger not with her. She was his now and he cared for what was his. “He will pay for this.” He vowed darkly, tracing his fingers over the bruises. “He will pay dearly.” He stood up, reaching down for her hand, frowning when she tensed. “I will not hurt you, July. Now come.”

July slowly looked up at him, seeing the truth in his green eyes, not believing how kind he was being toward her, and slowly slipped her small hand in his gigantic one, being pulled gently from the chair. “I-I'm sorry...” She whispered, not sure what she was apologizing for, but felt it necessary to say. She bit her bottom lip as he pulled her to wherever he was taking her, her head once again lowering.

He just arched a black eyebrow, guiding her out of the room. It didn't take long to find out that only one McMahon was on the premises tonight and that was Shane. He snorted in anger, not believing how chicken shit Vince was being. “We need to talk.” He said without preamble as he walked into Shane's room, ignoring the Corporation members. “About your father.” His tone was dangerous.

Chapter 3

Shane's eyes did a double take when he seen his cousin, July, raising an eyebrow up at Taker. “What the hell are YOU doing here, trash?” He demanded angrily, stepping back when 'Taker growled at him.

July could only keep her head lowered, her hand remaining in Undertaker's, swallowing past the lump that formed in her throat. She didn't dare speak a word unless her new master told her she could, one of the things her Uncle Vince had told her to do.

Letting go of July's hand, 'Taker rounded on Shane, grabbing him by the throat and raising him into the air, aware that he was now surrounded. “You will mind your tongue boy.” He snarled, pure rage flashing in his eyes. “Address her by her name or do not dare to speak to her at all, understood?” He physically tossed Shane away from him, watching as the young McMahon landed hard on his pampered backside.

Test looked at Shane with a raised eyebrow as if to ask 'what do we do now?'

July swallowed hard, her blue eyes widened with both fright and wonder, her back pressed against the dressing room door. Did this man just...defend her? Every single member that was in Shane's dressing room turned to stare at her, causing her cheeks to turn red and lowered her head to where her hair was hiding her face. What the hell was wrong with her?

“July, what did my father do?” He croaked out, trying to breathe again due to Taker cutting off his air supply momentarily. He always called her trash, but apparently she was not part of the McMahon family anymore.

“I took Stephanie's place.” Was all she said as Undertaker grabbed her hand again, slowly looking up at him when she felt her cheeks return to their pale state somewhat.

“Do you even know what Stephanie's place was?” 'Taker demanded, leading her down the hall at a fast pace, forcing her to jog just to keep up with his long, angry strides. Somehow he wasn't surprised when she shook her head no. “Vince didn't see the need to inform you that you'd be taking his little Princess's place as my bride, how quaint.”

“B-Bride?” July managed to stutter out, blinking, her mouth dropped open in shock as he guided her back inside his dressing room.

He sat her down in the chair she'd occupied before and could only stare at the floor, not caring how she looked now. She was petrified and started trembling from head to toe, tears streaming down her cheeks, and buried her face in her hands. How could her uncle do this to her?! She'd never had a date and now she was getting MARRIED?! This was too much for July to take and she wanted to run far away, but knew she couldn't. All she could do was sit there and let this happen against her will.

“Yes, bride. It seems however, plans have been changed.” He said, nostrils flaring. Vince was going to PAY for this. For daring to lie to him, for daring to put his hands on what was to be the Undertaker's property. All of it. “Do those bruises hurt?”

“A little.” She whispered, bringing her knees up to press against her chest, wrapping her arms around them and buried her face in her kneecaps.

She was small enough to do it on the metal folding chair and started sobbing silently, her shoulders shaking. She was flooded with relief that he mentioned the marital plans had changed, but what did that exactly mean? July honestly didn't want to know and would simply try to stay out of the man's way.

Frowning at the crying, he pulled a black bandana out of his duffel bag and held it before her, clearing his throat to get her attention. Tears bothered him though he would never admit it. They were a sign of weakness and that he couldn't abide. “You can stop crying, July. I promise I'm not the type to beat a woman.” He assured her, sitting down again and studying her thoughtfully.

“I'm trying. This is just...so much to take in.” She took his bandana and wiped her tears away with it, knowing she needed to stop because he requested it. Taking a few more deep breaths, July sniffled a little and felt the tears subside, sighing shakily. She had no idea what was going on and rested her chin on her knees, closing her eyes, feeling the exhaustion slowly begin to creep deep within her. “W-What should I call you, sir?” She softly asked, being bold, her eyes locking with the acid green again.

“'Taker.” He said simply, watching as the fountain abruptly dried up. She could obey on command and instead of pleasing him, it disgusted him. Vince had her trained like she was a pet poodle. And the thought of how she had been 'trained' disgusted him even further. “You are not required to be silent, or to avoid looking at me. You may speak freely. All I ask is that you do not leave my side.” He used the word ask, the tone said otherwise.

This was all new to her and July hoped this man understood that. “Alright Taker.” She softly replied, putting her feet back on the floor before standing up and walked over, sitting down on the couch beside him.

He said to stay by his side so she would obey. She'd been like this since she was a child and sighed heavily, rubbing the back of her neck. Her head instantly lowered when the door opened and a group of men walked in, some in all black, some with white shirts on, though it was neutral either way. July simply kept her mouth shut and sat there, not wanting to anger this man in any way, shape or form. He was huge and could squash her like a bug.

He hadn't meant it quite so literally, but didn't have the time to say anything about it, looking to Mideon, his number one and most loyal. “Did you get it?”

“Yes, and it's soaking as we speak. It'll burn bright when it's lit.”

“Good.” Originally the T cross had been for Stephanie, but now it was just a warning. His green eyes narrowed as he stood up, clapping Mideon on the shoulder. “You did well tonight.”

“Boss, can I ask what's with her?” Edge asked, pointing at the woman who was sitting on the couch. “We overheard the Corporation saying they're going to take her tonight.”

July's head snapped up, her eyes wide, knowing Shane was upset at Vince for sending her here, but why would he want her back with him? They never got along and July honestly hated Shane.

“What Edge MEANS, ‘Taker,” Paul began, trotting over to his Dark Lord. “Is that the Corporation won't stand a chance in taking your property.”

Christian glared at his brother, wondering what he was thinking by just coming out and saying it like that, shaking his head.

He glared at the Brood, glancing at Paul. “The truth.” He commanded, listening as Paul reluctantly said they had overheard the Corporation discussing how best to part July from the Ministry, his eyes narrowing at McMahon's treachery. “Bring me Shane.” He ordered, nodding at the Brood, watching as they vacated. He turned to July, folding his arms over his chest. “Why would they want you?”

“I have no idea.” July sounded confused and downright astounded, shaking her head. “They hate me, as far as I know. I don't know why they would want me back.” She ran a hand through her black hair and leaned back against the couch, crossing her arms in front of her chest. ‘If they think I'm going back to them willingly, they're sadly mistaken.’ She thought blue eyes narrowed slightly, lighting with just a hint of fire before diminishing all in a few seconds.

He had seen that spark of flames and had liked it, knowing if she could get past the mental barriers the McMahon's had inflicted on her, she would indeed become a force to be reckoned with. That had just become his new goal and it brought a wicked smirk to his face. “Nobody is going to force you to do anything, July.” He assured her, chuckling softly.

Somehow July believed him and went back to staring down at her lap, her arms crossed in front of her chest, not sure what to think about this situation anymore. Taker seemed like he wouldn't hurt her...unless provoked. So that was July's goal, not to provoke the man into hurting her. Of course, she wasn't the provoking kind, yet her uncle put his hands on her anyway. Simply because he despised her. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise, but July highly doubted what with how her life had been like for the past twenty-two years.

As fascinating as July was to him, he had other business to attend to as well. “Christian, escort July to the cafeteria, see that she eats something.” He said, surmising from her thin body she hadn't exactly gotten balanced meals with McMahon. While she was curvaceous, she was also...scrawny.

“Yes, 'Taker.” Christian walked over to July, offering her his hand.

His kind brown eyes sparkled back at her as July looked up before slipping her hand into his. She kept her head down as they walked out of the room and down the hallway, though the smell of food was making her stomach begin to growl furiously. While staying at her uncle's, she was limited to three meals a day, if they could even be construed as that. July looked up when they arrived in the cafeteria, trying not to make eye contact with anyone, but her blue eyes were full of curiosity as he guided her to a table. She watched as he went to get her a plate and sighed gently, twisting the napkin that was already on the table in her hands nervously.

Christian loaded that plate. Chicken breasts, a small salad, an apple, French fries and a candy bar. He selected a small carton of milk and a soda, balancing packets of various salad dressings on it before walking over to the table, setting the plate down in front of her. He wasn't sure what she liked, if she even had preferences, but the Undertaker had said to feed her and he was going to feed her. He sat across from her, folding his hands over the table, staring at her intently.

“Eat.” He said in his soft voice when she hesitated.

Never in her life had July seen a spread like this and blinked, staring up at him, swallowing hard. “I-I can't possibly eat all of this.” When he patted her hand in reassurance, letting her know she didn't have too, July physically relaxed and began to eat slowly. No words were spoken as she took her time, the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach slowly diminishing, and replaced with a full feeling. She actually smiled genuinely and finally finished, having ate her fill. There was only one chicken breast left and the apple; she wasn't a big fan of fruit, especially apples. “I'm finished.” She whispered, gently pushing the tray away, and felt the exhaustion overtake her even more. She hoped they left this place soon so she could sleep.

Given that that had probably been one of the biggest meals in her life, Christian wasn't surprised to see her eyes beginning to droop. “Come on.” He stood up, reaching out for her hand again. “You can lie down in the dressing room.” He offered, knowing 'Taker probably wouldn't mind, so long as she was quiet while they discussed 'business'. He waited patiently for her to stand up as well, gently taking her hand and leading the way out of the room, ignoring the curious stares they received, knowing people were curious about her.

July sighed with relief when she heard that, nodding. “Thank you.” She whispered as they walked down the hallway of the arena, not believing how sweet this man was. He was good looking too, long blonde hair with deep brown eyes. He had a white poet’s shirt on that looked like something out of the medieval times and black leggings with some kind of design on them. They arrived back at the dressing room and July didn't stifle a yawn that rippled through her, though it was silent.

Christian nodded when the Undertaker arched an eyebrow at him. “She ate.” He murmured, gesturing July towards an unoccupied bench, wishing there was something else he could offer her, but there wasn't. They didn't usually have a woman to worry about. He stepped back when 'Taker stood at his side, watching with wide eyes as the Phenom shrugged off his heavy, thick robe, holding it out to July.

“That should lessen the hardness of the bench as well as warm you.” He said his voice calm as usual, as if this was something that wasn't completely out of the ordinary.

“Thank you ‘Taker.” She softly replied, grateful that he was being kind to her, and laid down on it. Being as thin as she was, she fit right on it and felt her eyes close. It'd been a trying day and night for her, all she wanted was an hour or two of sleep as her black hair splayed around her in soft loose curls.

Edge looked over at her curiously before staring back at his brother, who was also staring. She was beautiful, looked like an angel when she slept, but they had more important things to discuss. “Boss, should we go somewhere else?” He asked hesitantly and immediately lowered his head when ‘Taker shot him a glare. “Never mind.”

“What are we gonna do about the Corporation?” Viscera asked, getting back to the discussion they had before the McMahon arrived. He was wondering why they were bothering with her, but it was his master's wish so he wasn't going to question it. He was loyal unlike some of the Ministry members and pointedly looked over at Gangrel as if to assess that thought.

'Taker followed Viscera's glare, somehow not surprised to find Gangrel eyeing July speculatively. “Actually...I would like Gangrel to run an errand.” He said after a moment, hiding the glee he felt. Sometimes he amazed himself.

Gangrel turned towards his boss, his face stony.

“You can go back to the hotel and arrange for July to share my room; I want a new room, one with two beds.”

“Edge, Chris-”

“They will remain.” He said, interrupting smoothly, ignoring the look that came across the mock vampire's face before waving his hand dismissively.

Edge stood there with his red sunglasses over his blue eyes, blonde hair hanging over his shoulders and down his back, black plastic shiny long trench coat on with his red and black tights. He was the most colorful out of the clan, but ‘Taker didn't seem to mind it.

Viscera was pleased as he waved three fingers at a pissed off Gangrel, shaking his head before turning back to his master as they started discussing the Corporation.

“‘Taker, if I may be so bold, I do not think this discussion is appropriate for the ears of present ladies-”

Chapter 4

July's chest rose and fell in deep breaths, her entire body relaxed, sleeping deeply. She couldn't hear or see anything that was going on and did not move.

“Paul, she's sleeping. Now about the Corporation-”

He listened as the Ministry went back and forth about the Corporation, allowing them to discuss their ideas. Contrary to popular opinion, he hadn't brainwashed his followers. He was quite the opposite in fact, which had tied them all the more tightly to him.

“Why don't we go ahead with the original plan of kidnapping Stephanie?” Christian suggested finally, blushing as every eye turned to him. “Vince did try to screw you over, 'Taker.”

He rubbed his chin thoughtfully, finally shaking his head. “I will not sink to his level and go back on my word. Though...there is one member of the McMahon family we haven't had the pleasure of yet.”

“Linda.” Farooq grunted.

“Linda has nothing to do with this though...” Edge sighed when every eye turned to him now, shrugging his shoulders. “She's against Vince the last time I checked so what good would that do?”

“He's gotta point, man.” Bradshaw said, having been quiet through all of this, finally voicing his opinion. “Though...” His eyes turned to the sleeping McMahon on the bench, raising a slow eyebrow. “She can't be used as leverage either cause Vince handed her over on a silver platter right?”

“Right, which is why I think we should do what Christian says and still take the Princess.”

“The Dark Lord has spoken, Viscera.” Paul shook his pudgy finger in the man's face. “Stephanie is no longer debatable unless he changes his mind.”

He was silent for a long while, debating on whether to offer an explanation. They didn't expect one though he finally offered it, a sign that he respected his men. He knew better than most how lack of respect led to betrayal. “Linda has nothing to do with it, you are right. BUT, she is CEO. Is she not?”

Christian's eyes lit up.

Mideon chuckled darkly.

“As for the Princess, we'll take her as well. Same plans, different groom.” He snorted, a plan beginning to form in his wicked mind, laughing softly, the sound dark and evil.

Edge simply nodded and looked over at July, knowing she would have to choose a side and hoped it was the right one. What choice did she honestly have? She was part of the Ministry now, the new Mistress of Darkness as it were. Edge looked up when Gangrel trudged in before collapsing at their feet.

“He's been attacked!” Bradshaw growled angrily, seeing the blood seeping from the cut in Gangrel's head, looking up at ‘Taker.

“They took the bait.” Viscera snorted and stepped over the wanna-be vampire.


“Gangrel is quickly becoming expendable.” 'Taker said, not showing any signs of remorse for sending Gangrel out to get his ass handed to him, stepping over the now unconscious man, not looking phased in the slightest. “Edge, Christian, you both are valuable to me and I appreciate your loyalty. But soon I will ask for you both to decide. My Ministry or...” He looked down at Gangrel, lip curling in disgust. “The Brood.”

Edge stared back Undertaker before glancing back at his brother, both of them silently sending messages to the other. “Gangrel has been leaking information to the Corporation. We're with the Ministry, ‘Taker.”

“Acolytes, you know what to do.” Paul stated before trudging over to sit on the couch, pulling out a cloth to dab his forehead.

Bradshaw snorted along with Farooq as they both dragged an unconscious Gangrel out of the room, knowing he was officially out of the Ministry.

“‘Taker, Gangrel has been leaking information to the Corporation.” When ‘Taker just smirked at him, Edge swallowed hard, not liking the look that came over the man's acid eyes.

“I'm well aware of what Gangrel has been doing.” 'Taker said, clapping a hand on Mideon and Viscera's shoulders. “You forget, my loyal soldiers,” His nostrils flared slightly. “As long as Vince refuses to come out of the apparent hiding he has decided to go in for betraying me this night, the Corporation will be weak. Shane is nothing, but a shallow minded child and he could easily be persuaded to our way of thinking. If I was so inclined to offer it. I want Vince however. Which means we need bait.”

“What are your orders ‘Taker?” Viscera asked instantly, rubbing his hands together, a vicious look coming over his icy eyes.

When ‘Taker said that they were taking both McMahon women, Edge simply nodded, knowing him and Christian would be staying behind while Mideon and Viscera along with the Acolytes took care of business. He didn't mind it honestly, wanting to get to know the McMahon woman better and had a feeling his brother did too. He walked over to sit in a metal folding chair backwards, his chin resting on the edge of it, eyes hidden by the glasses he wore.

He was silent for a long time, finally only rousing himself from his thoughts when it was time for his match. “Watch her.” He ordered the brothers before walking out of the room, cracking his neck.

Christian stared at July for a moment before glancing at his brother. “What do you think he plans for her?” He asked softly, knowing Undertaker had originally been intent on marrying Stephanie, not entirely sure if that would hold true for July. Marrying Stephanie would have given him a measure of power with the McMahon's. July would bring nothing if the way her family treated her was any indication.

“I don't know.” Edge replied, slowly standing up, walking over and looking down at her, crossing his arms in front of his chest. “Vince obviously wanted to be rid of her so she's of no use as far as leverage goes.” He honestly wondered why ‘Taker had taken July, knowing the man had his own agenda, but at the same time he should share it with his minions. “She doesn't cause trouble.” That was the best he could come up with as they both just stared at her with wondering eyes.

Christian was lost in his own musings, wondering just what had attracted 'Taker's attention. Maybe the pain and sorrow in July's eyes, though that would be sick of 'Taker to find that interesting. Then again...it WAS the Undertaker so...he wouldn't put it past him. “Maybe he does have a heart after all.” He murmured, groaning when Edge smacked him upside the head. “I didn't say that aloud, you never heard it, okay?”

“That's just...that's wrong to say about him, moron.” Edge grunted before walking over and turning the monitor on, sitting back down in the chair, eyes focused as their master took the Big Bossman to school. This guy was a chump, a pushover in the ring. Edge sat back and just crossed his arms in front of his chest, sighing when the Corporation rushed to the ring. “Shit.” He grunted, looking over at Christian. “What should we do?”

Christian gnawed his lower lip. “We stay.” He said finally. No doubt the Corporation was trying to draw the Ministry out to get at July. And on her first night in the Ministry, now wasn't that fast work? “He ordered us to watch her, we watch her.” He just hoped he didn't regret this, wincing when 'Taker took a chair shot to the head, sighing in relief when the man sat right back up. God, please don't let them be in trouble for this.

Edge nodded, though he was thinking the same thing. Thanks to July, ‘Taker was getting his ass handed to him by the Corporation. Though a sigh of relief escaped him when the Ministry ran to the ring, Viscera, Mideon and the Acolytes, beginning to fight them off as much as they could. “Damn it!” Edge cursed, standing up and stared at his brother. “Stay here. Keep the door locked.” He then rushed out to help, hoping ‘Taker didn't maim him for this, but he couldn't just stand back and do nothing.

Christian locked the door, knowing this had been a set up and watched the monitor anxiously. He almost jumped when he heard a banging on the door.

“Hurry up!” Snarled Shane McMahon from outside. “Bust it down, damn it!”

Christian instantly scooped July into his arms and backed away. His eyes widened when he seen smoke coming in under the door, hazarding a guess that the Corporation’s unwilling member, Kane, was now present. Cursing, he carried July into the small bathroom, setting her down in the tub before walking out, closing the door behind him and waited for the fight that he knew was coming.

July's eyes slowly fluttered open and looked around, seeing she was in a tub, and heard fighting coming from behind the closed, metal door. She swallowed hard and backed up against the tub, hearing Shane's voice shouting through the door for her to open it. She wouldn't do it. She wouldn't go back to that life, no matter if they were family or not and shook her head as if to reassure herself she was doing the right thing.

She heard the kicking against the metal door and shakily stood up in the tub, stepping out of it, and looked up to see a window, knowing it was her only chance. Jumping up, having been climbing up to her room on several nights when she would sneak out just to get some fresh air, July managed to slide her petite frame through it and pressed her back against the building, holding her breath just as the door was kicked open. She heard Shane's curses and slowly backed further away from the window behind a tree, knowing she blended in with the darkness that surrounded her.

Christian was trapped in a corner, ducking heavy blows from Kane, wondering just why Shane would allow the unstable brother of the Undertaker to assist him in something that obviously required some semblance of sanity. Then again, Kane hated 'Taker so this was probably a perk for the Big Red Monster. He groaned when a large boot planted itself firmly in his chest, stumbling back against the wall. He seen Shane break into the bathroom, trying to dodge around Kane.

“July!” He called out, hoping nothing happened to her. That was his last thought before something collided with the side of his head, dropping him into blackness.

“She's gone!” Test shouted, having searched the bathroom with Shane, both of them livid while Kane just tilted his head slightly to the side, watching them. “Goddamn it!!”

“She couldn't have gotten far. Search the arena, everywhere! We don't have much time!” Shane barked, having gotten the upper hand on the Ministry thanks to Gangrel. He would have to remember to pay the man for his assistance before storming out of the Ministry's locker room.

“Where do you think she would've gone?” Bossman asked causing Shane to shrug his shoulders, knowing the man was pissed off.

July had waited until they were gone before sliding back through the window, knowing they wouldn't be back looking for her. She quickly shut the door before rushing over to Christian, tears in her eyes at the blood that rushed from the man's head. “Oh my god...” She whispered and pressed her hand against the wound, trying to stem the blood flow, seeing he was unconscious.

The Undertaker stumbled back into the dressing room, followed by his equally tired Ministry of Darkness. He froze at the sight of July kneeling besides Christian, trying to stem the blood that flowed from the man's head. “Get the medics in here.” He ordered, hearing the quick scurry of Mideon's boots before he had even finished his sentence. He could hear Edge swallowing hard, knowing the man expected to be punished, but there would be none forthcoming from 'Taker. Edge seeing his brother severely hurt was punishment enough. “What happened?”

“I-I don't know.” July's eyes were focused solely on Christian, her hand covered in his blood, trying hard not to tremble. “I-I woke up in the bathroom and I heard Shane...” She was pulled away from him when the medics came in, staring down at her hand, and immediately went into the bathroom to wash his blood off, tears spilling down her cheeks from what happened. July knew she would have to explain further, but right now all she wanted was Christian's blood off of her hand.

He followed her into the bathroom, watching as she scrubbed her hand, continuing to wash them even after they were clean and finally shut the faucet off. Clasping her hands in his, not minding that they were dripping water. “Calm down, July.” 'Taker ordered his deep voice oddly soothing. “They are clean.” He pulled a hand towel off the tiny shelf, drying her hands himself, watching her intently. Hadn't the woman ever seen blood before?

She had to take a few deep breaths to calm down, her heart thundering in her chest from what happened, and didn't dare look up into ‘Taker's eyes. “Is he going to be alright?” She asked softly, feeling him nod, and felt his hands squeeze hers reassuringly. “I'm sorry, this is my fault.” She murmured, lowering her head, knowing her uncle used her as bait against this man and, because of her, Christian was hurt severely.

“It is Vince's fault, not yours.” He corrected, tilting her head back so she was looking at him, his fingers tucked under her chin. “For what reason however, does Shane want you...” He mused, studying her thoughtfully. “Come July, Christian will be escorted to the hospital by his brother, we however are going to the hotel for some sleep.” He was dead on his feet though he would never let her see that, knowing the rest of his Ministry must be too. They had taken one hell of a beating out there tonight, though he was proud they all were standing.

Nodding, July followed him out of the bathroom even though he had her by the hand, staring back at all the other Ministry members, taking a deep breath. They weren't going to hurt her and she had to remind herself of that.

Chapter 5

“Paul left, told me to let you know.” Viscera grunted, rolling his sore shoulder, having taken a chair shot to it. He would have it checked out in the morning by the trainer.

“Need anything else for tonight, ‘Taker?” Bradshaw asked, looking dead tired like all the other members, not sparing a glance at July. None of this was her fault and they were going to see to it that Vince paid with possibly his life.

“No. You all did very well tonight.” 'Taker said, feeling a massive headache coming on. He knew Paul would handle the room situation, not fazed by him leaving. Paul came and went as he pleased. “You may all go and I'll see you tomorrow afternoon.” He waited until the dressing room was empty before sighing, letting go of July's hand to rub his forehead. “Do you have any personal effects you need to get before we leave?” He asked, not recalling seeing her bringing anything with her and had a feeling they would be shopping within the next few days, wondering briefly if Paul would be up to doing it for him then groaning. She was a woman and women tended to want to pick their own things.

It took a minute for July to register what he was asking her, frowning at the pain that was in his green eyes. “No ‘Taker, I'm fine.” She replied softly, not wanting to be any more of a burden to this man than she already was. Her uncle had forgotten to grab her bag, too busy trying to drag her in and out of the airports and limos. She bit her bottom lip when he just stared at her, arms at her sides, not pulling away from his gaze. She was doing what her uncle said, though she wondered briefly if it was what this man, her new owner as it were, wanted from her.

“You can borrow something of mine for the night, tomorrow we'll get you some new things.” He promised, wanting to once again reassure her that he wasn’t angry and she had no reason to fear him, but knew words rarely meant anything. It was actions that got the message across so he would have to prove it to her. Not bothering to change from his tights, he just shouldered his duffel bag, tossing his discarded robe over her shoulders. Knowing it had gotten chilly outside and her outfit wasn't meant to keep her warm, but others hot, snorting. “Come.”

“Thank you ‘Taker.” She murmured, snuggling into the robe and followed him out of his dressing room, not surprised when he grabbed her hand.

The robe was huge so she wrapped it around her like a blanket, the chilly night air flowing through her black hair as they headed toward his rental. She slid into the passenger seat and buckled up, looking around the inside curiously and seen his huge body slide into the driver's side, biting her bottom lip. Why a man of his size would get a small slick black car was beyond her as she turned to stare out the window as he fired the ignition up and pulled out of the arena parking lot.

He had gotten the car because there had been a mix-up at the rental company, sliding the seat back as far as it would go. However, it did have benefits because it was FAST. Which he liked. He ignored speed limits, weaving in and out of traffic effortlessly. Small car it may be, but it turned with just the barest gesture from him, using two fingers to steer, the other hand busy with the radio, searching for something to listen too. Something to distract him from his head and the woman sitting beside him.

July was silent on the way to the hotel, not even moving her head to the song he chose, not minding how fast he was driving. She simply leaned her head against the cool glass window and stared up at the moon, the stars. They were her tranquility, part of the reason why she hadn't gone completely insane. Often she would sneak out of the attic through a window, using rope she found, and would just venture into the backyard to sit and watch the sky for hours on end. It was probably the only moment she treasured and looked forward to while living with her uncle. How sad it was as she closed her eyes briefly against the pain before opening them again.

He remained silent for the duration of the drive, finally pulling into the parking lot and switching off the ignition, glancing at her. “Come on.” He said, getting out of the car way too easily given the car's size and his own. He waited patiently for her, taking her hand and guided her inside, taking the back way to his room, not in the mood to deal with anybody tonight. 'Taker nodded when they were inside his hotel room, seeing the two beds, looking down at July. “Make yourself comfortable.”

He released her hand as July looked around the room before staring at the two beds, a soft smile spreading on her face. That was a HUGE relief considering what her uncle had told her. To do whatever the man wanted her to do. She didn't like hearing that, but now she was a lot more relaxed. She walked over and sat on the bed before taking her boots off, setting then against the nightstand and stared out the window, running a hand through her hair, letting out a gentle sigh. July hoped Christian was alright.

'Taker was quiet as he took in the room, quickly searching the bathroom as well, a paranoid habit of his. But it was necessary. He had once been ambushed in one of his rooms, vowing to never let that happen again. Satisfied they were alone, he peeled off his wrestling top, letting it fall to the floor before rifling through his bag. He tossed a long white tee shirt at July. “That will have to do until we can get you some other things to wear.” He said, stifling a yawn. “If you need to use the bathroom, do so now before my shower.”

She turned around and picked the huge white shirt up, blinking before her eyes stared back at him. Dear god the man could snap her like a twig with just a finger if he wanted too. That thought made her shiver inwardly as she nodded, standing up, and walked past him into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. July looked into the mirror, seeing the black eyeliner on her eyes was smeared, slowly unmasking the dark circles that normally took over. Sighing and shaking her head, she peeled the shirt over her head and slipped the white shirt on, seeing it went past her knees and blinked. She quickly slipped out of her pants before running the water in the sink, splashing her face with the warm water and washed away the makeup. Patting her face dry with the towel and hanging it up exactly how it'd been, July walked back out and back to her bed, silently letting ‘Taker know it was free for him to use.

He gently caught her by the arm, spinning July around so she was facing him. He sighed when she hung her head, looking at the floor, fairly certain he had told her she was free to look at him. Gently, he tilted her head back, the gesture becoming familiar in only the course of one night. His green eyes studied her face, taking in the circles, then raked down over her. God she looked so much like a young girl, he was almost worried that she might actually be underage.

The sadness that shined in her eyes was unmistakable, telling him silently she'd been through a lot in her life. Locked away for twenty-two years in an attic, only allowed to come out whenever her uncle was on the road, and even then she didn't dare do it for fear of him finding out. A life full of fear and hatred, that's what July's amounted too. Though staring back into his green eyes, which reminded her of emerald stones, no longer filled with acid, July couldn't help, but relax against his touch. He hadn't hurt her, hadn't given her any reason not to trust him. She wasn't going to either, her personal goal in mind, to make him happy and do whatever he wanted.

Inhaling deeply, he ran his fingertips down her pale cheek, gently pushing her away. “You must be tired.” He commented, stepping away. He reached behind his head to deftly unbraid his hair, the long black locks crimped from being constrained so long. “Sleep if you wish, or order something to eat. Do not leave the room, July.” He instructed, heading for the bathroom. “Understand?”

“Yes ‘Taker.” She replied gently, nodding, not planning on leaving the room and stopped him before he could go into the bathroom. “Did you want me to order you anything?” When he told her to choose, her blue eyes widened as the bathroom door closed, chewing on her bottom lip. Very well.

She walked over and skimmed the menu, deciding to order herself a crispy chicken salad and a steak dinner for him. He was a man, all men liked steaks right? They were in a five star hotel so they had their own personal restaurant downstairs. After placing the call, July walked over and opened the balcony doors, stepping out on it, letting the gentle breeze flow through her hair.

He took his time in the shower, the water on the hottest setting he could tolerate, leaving his skin an angry red, but he didn't mind. The hot water was easing the aches and sore muscles he had from that night's battle. He washed his long hair, washed his body and just stood there under the spray, head down, hair hanging about his face, forming a curtain. His eyes were closed as he imagined the woman-child in the room next to him, wondering just what he should do with her. Marrying her was not an option. He didn't love her -he snorted at the mere thought of the L word- and he would gain nothing by wedding her. But he couldn't abandon her either; something told him she wouldn't survive on her own. Though...he was still intent on bringing out that inner fire he had sensed earlier in the night, a smirk forming that would indeed be very interesting to see. Especially if July unleashed that temper on her unwitting relatives.

She didn't know how long she stood out there, but room service had arrived as she walked back in the room, just as ‘Taker emerged from the bathroom, a towel around his waist. Perfect timing. She sat down on the bed and watched while he paid for the food before wheeling it in, hoping he didn't mind what she ordered for him. She was still full from the meal from the arena, but would eat what she could of her salad. She stopped him when he went to serve her, shaking her head slowly.

“Go dress ‘Taker. I'll get it.” She watched him walk over to his bag while she set his food on the bed before grabbing her own, pulling her hair to rest over her left shoulder.

He was mildly amused by her sudden assertiveness, disappearing back into the bathroom long enough to pull on dark blue sweat pants and reluctantly a t-shirt, not wanting to make her too uncomfortable. No doubt sharing a room with a strange man was going to destroy her nerves enough without his helping it along. He came back out, inhaling hungrily.

“Perfect.” He murmured, starving.

“I didn't know what to get you so I figured steak was the best way to go.” She softly replied, pouring honey mustard dressing on her salad, having tried it a long time ago and loved it.

She sighed a silent breath of relief when he made a satisfied grunt in his throat before beginning to eat, knowing she'd made the right choice. They ate in silence, July slower than ‘Taker, finally pushing it away when she couldn't eat anymore. She'd finished half of it, which surprised the hell out of her. Standing, July set her tray back on the cart along with her empty bottled water.

He was a big man with a big appetite and had finished his meal in no time, pleased that it had been in silence. Though then again, July wasn't exactly all that talkative so he doubted he had to worry about her making the attempt to engage him in conversation any time soon. When she had finished, he pushed the cart outside the door, knowing the staff would take care of it. Yawning, he bolted the door behind him, glancing at her.

“I'm going to bed now.” He announced, flicking off the lamp beside his bed, leaving the room dimmer than it had been, the lamp besides her own bed still on. If she wished to stay up, that was one her.

“Good night ‘Taker.” She softly replied and reached over, turning her lamp off, bathing the room in darkness except the moon that shined through the window.

She stood up and silently walked over, closing the balcony doors, not wanting a chill to get in the room since it wasn't exactly warm outside before going back over and laying down in bed. She curled up, her hand resting against the side of her face and just stared at the moon outside. Eventually it would lull her to sleep, but July was thinking about what happened at the arena earlier. Shane wanted her back, why? As far as she knew, he hated her and so did Vince. Hell, she knew even Linda despised her, but was only kind to her because she had a heart. July honestly didn't want to go back to her family and that thought scared her because she didn't know ‘Taker or his Ministry.

He lay wide awake, knowing sleep would eventually overtake him. He was exhausted though his mind was running a mile a minute. What did Shane want with his estranged cousin? Was he acting on Vince's orders or alone? He found it hard to believe Shane was going through Vince simply because Vince had been all too eager to get rid of July. So what was Shane after? Did she have money or something? Shane had plenty of that. He entertained a few more ideas, eventually slipping off to sleep.


“How could you do that, dad?” Shane shouted as he paced back and forth in his hotel room, glaring at the wall, on the phone with his old man.

“July is more useful to us if she's with him because now he has something to protect. Look at it from my point of view, Shane. ‘Taker is going to do everything in his power to protect what is his.”

A slow, diabolical smile formed on Shane's lips, finally seeing where his old man was going with this. He had to admit; it had potential and would weaken the Ministry, therefore allowing the Corporation to take over.

Chapter 6

He was up at the crack of dawn, eyes flying open at an unfamiliar sound. Silently swinging his legs off the bed and standing up, 'Taker stared down at July, mildly disconcerted to see the noise was coming from her. He stepped away from the bed, having no idea what to do besides walk away. He wasn't about to wake her, those circles under her eyes indicated she needed all the sleep she could get.

July curled up in a tight ball, tears sliding down her cheeks, biting her bottom lip as the dream commenced, her locked in a dark room with Shane and his Corporation. She could feel their hands running up her legs, her arms, touching her and shook her head slowly back and forth. “No...” She whispered, her eyes flying open as she bolted upright in bed, her throat closed so she couldn't scream out. Just terrified blue eyes as the sweat caked her forehead and neck, breathing heavily. She jumped out of her skin when she felt a hand on her shoulder, quickly looking to her side and seen it was ‘Taker, visibly relaxing. It was only a dream, just a dream. July raked a hand through her hair, trying to calm herself down.

He didn't ask what her obvious night terror had been about because he didn't want to really know. No doubt about her previous life with the McMahons. Given that it was very early in the morning he did not need incentive to go kick someone's teeth down their throat. He wasn't a morning person even though he woke up like clockwork at the same hour, every day.

“You're fine.” He said calmly, stepping away from her to go answer the door, knowing it was his morning coffee, inhaling the scent as he took the tray from the server, tipping the man and closed the door.

“I-I'm sorry I woke you.” She apologized in barely above a whisper, slowly sliding from the bed, tears stinging her blue eyes.

Usually her dreams consisted of her dead parents, talking to her, telling her that she was the reason they died. Those were night terrors. This was a nightmare as she grabbed her clothes from the corner, knowing she wouldn't be going back to sleep. Without a word, she walked into the bathroom and closed the door, deciding a shower was in order. She felt disgusting and had to get the memory of their hands off of her, even though it never happened. That alone scared her even more, wondering if it was a premonition of some kind.

Shaking his head, he fixed himself a cup of coffee, walking over to open the patio doors and step outside, not minding the cool morning air that assaulted him. He wondered why she would think she had woken him, then realized she wasn't familiar with his routine, but eventually she would be. He groaned, reaching back to rub his aching shoulder. Today she would need new clothes. He didn't fancy the idea of shopping, but knew there wasn't any way around it.

July walked out ten minutes later, towel drying her hair, wearing the same clothes she had the previous night. She didn't have anything else and began running her fingers through her hair, not having a brush either. Vince had virtually left her with nothing and she felt awful because that would mean ‘Taker would have to buy things for her. ‘I'll manage.’ She thought, having found a comb in the bathroom in one of the drawers that had the hotel name on it and began using that. It would take a while, but she was a patient woman as she sat on the bed and began running it through her waist length black hair.

That comb wasn't going to get the job done quick enough, providing it didn't break first in her heavy, wet locks. He watched her from the patio doorway, finally settling down his cup of coffee and retrieved his hairbrush. He sat on the bed, legs parted and gestured her over, seating herself between his legs. He knew she only did it because she was under the impression his word was law. Wonder where she got that idea from? He began working on the tangles in her hair, brushing it as he could.

Even though she felt like a child, July didn't mind him doing this, surprised not being the operative word. She simply kept her head lowered while he did this, her hands clasped together in her lap, and bit her bottom lip in thought. “Thank you.” She whispered when he was finished, slowly standing, and turned around to face him.

He was so hard to read as her eyebrows furrowed together in thought, wondering what he thought of her and why he'd taken her to begin with. She was incompetent, incapable of making decisions for herself. That was because she'd been locked away from the rest of the world, kind of like Rapunzel except there was no prince charming coming to rescue her. She was alone and felt it.

His unreadable eyes took in her already worn clothing, sighing softly. “We're going shopping.” He informed her, standing up and stretching, towering over her. “You will pick out your own things.” He added, giving her time to prepare for that, having an idea she wouldn't even know where to begin. Taking his bag, he disappeared into the bathroom to get dressed, knowing this morning was very likely to test his patience.

She sat in the car completely stunned, not believing they were actually going shopping. Where the hell was she supposed to start? What was she supposed to pick out? July was really nervous as they pulled up in front of a mall, looking over at ‘Taker with those big blue eyes. Before she could even open her mouth, he got out and opened her door for her, knowing there was no turning back now. They walked inside the mall and July felt her head swimming by all the clothing stores, though nothing stood out until she arrived at a particular store that looked intriguing, tilting her head to the side. “Hmm...”

Now this was interesting. He followed her inside the store, eyes quickly taking in the crowded walls and cluttered racks, arching an eyebrow. He watched her examine everything, shrugging when she silently gestured to a t-shirt with him on it. “Part of being a famous wrestler.” He grunted, his black sunglasses shading his eyes, wearing black jeans and a black long sleeved cotton shirt, his hair braided back. “Whatever you want to get, get.” He ordered. “Money is not a problem.” He gently shoved her towards a rack, encouraging her.

Deciding to just do what he said, July picked up a few corset tops, purple and black, blue and black, even a dark green with black. She couldn't help it, she liked how they looked. She then picked out a few pairs of pants, black of course, though she did add a pair of blue jeans in the mix. She also picked up some plain tank tops, black, blue, purple and green. She didn't dare go near the light colors because that wasn't who she was.

When it was all said and done, July had four tank tops, six pairs of pants, four skirts along with four corset tops, a few dresses, two pairs of dress shoes that went with the outfits, bra and panty sets that she found likeable, a few band t-shirts and other things. She knew she probably went overboard, but when she tried only getting one of everything, ‘Taker had told her to get more, knowing she would need it since she was traveling now.

He watched as everything was rang up, not even phased by the total, whipping out a credit card. He waited while it was bagged, taking them when she reached for them. “We'll stop at the rest room so you can change, but then we need to hit the road.” He said, guiding her through the mall, finally halting before a women's bathroom. He examined the bags, holding them out to her so she could pick what she wanted to wear, ignoring the curious stares they were attracting. “Be quick, July.”

She nodded and rushed inside the bathroom, pulling her outfit on, and emerged not even ten minutes later. She decided on a pair of black jeans that flared at the bottoms along with a deep purple tank top, her hair up in a messy bun. She'd also gotten hair ties, a brush and some jewelry. “I-I don't know how to repay you for all of this...” She said as they walked out of the mall, a leather jacket on since it was still chilly out. That was the other thing she got, with ‘Taker's help, knowing she didn't have one. Along with the jacket came the sweatshirts, some of them hoodies, along with tight long sleeved shirts, like the one Vince made her wear to the arena to hand her over.

“You don't need too.” He said dismissively, popping the trunk of the rental and placing her bags inside, deciding they would have to get her a duffel bag and made a mental note to ask Paul to buy one, not feeling up to returning to a store anytime soon. “You'll have to make a list of personal items you'll be needing so I can have them delivered to our room tonight. Toiletries.” He said when she opened her mouth, knowing where they just were didn't specialize in those things.

July nodded as she slipped into the passenger seat, looking down at the new pants and admired the leather jacket she wore, not able to help, but smile. She'd never, in her entire life, got anything remotely like the things ‘Taker just bought for her. She looked down at her new shoes, which were black with purple laces and were two inches. They were boots now that she looked closer and sighed in contentment. This man had completely shown her a world unlike any other and July couldn't think of any way to thank him. She buckled up as he pulled out of the parking lot, knowing they were going to the next arena.

The drive was silent again, except for the radio playing classic rock. He stopped only twice, once to get them something to eat and the other time for a rest stop break. He had made one phone call on his cell, giving Paul instructions. When they were in the city, he turned off the radio.

“Tonight, instead of being left in the back, you'll go with me wherever I go.” He said quietly, not about to leave her alone with anyone, but himself. This way if something happened, it was his fault. “Understand?”

“Yes ‘Taker.” She replied softly, knowing why he was doing it, and couldn't believe how protective he was being of her. He didn't know her and she'd been basically dropped into his lap, forced to take care of her. July felt terrible, but she pushed that thought aside as they pulled into the hotel, probably to drop her things off. “Did you want me to change into something else?” She asked quietly once they were up in their room, having a feeling blue jeans with a tank top wouldn't fit in with him and his group.

He studied her thoughtfully. In truth he thought she looked fine, but if she was to go out before the camera with him, then she wouldn't fit at all in with the Ministry's image. “Please.” That word sounded odd falling from his lips. He had to change as well, cracking his neck. “Maybe your black and purple top?” He had seen her pick out an abundant of those and had to admit, he definitely wouldn't mind seeing her in one.

July nodded and picked out her black and purple corset top with a black skirt, walking into the bathroom. The skirt went to her knees and had rips in it for style, matching the corset. She looked in the mirror, tying it up the back, nodding when she had it securely in place. It pushed her breasts up, but not to the point of her looking like a whore. That's not what she wanted. It hugged her curves though as she brushed her black hair out, deciding to leave it down. She'd picked up some black eyeliner, knowing the dark circles under her eyes just wouldn't do and applied some before walking back out.

“Is this okay?” She asked, not lowering her head, wanting to see the approval in his eyes.

“Hmmm.” 'Taker studied her. It was more than okay, she was a very attractive woman once you got past the defeat in her eyes and posture. “You look stunning.” He said finally, having changed into his wrestling gear while she was in the bathroom, his long black hair held back in a tight, low hanging tail.

The barest hint of a blush crept into her pale cheeks as July nodded, seeing he was ready to go, and grabbed her leather jacket before slipping it on. She swapped her boots out for her knee high ones that zipped up the sides. Her legs were far too white to show off as she felt Taker take her hand, guiding her out of the room. In a few minutes, they were on their way to the arena and July could only pray tonight went smoother than the last.


“I want to know when they arrive.” Vince ordered, glancing at his son who was bouncing on the balls of his feet. “From the moment 'Taker steps into this building, I want someone on his ass. Understand me?” He nodded in satisfaction when the Corporation all nodded. “Kane, you stay with Shane, just in case.” He was covering all his bases, a wicked smirk on his face.


July stepped out of the car and took ‘Taker's hand when he extended it, biting her bottom lip, suddenly stopping when she felt something wasn't right “‘Taker, wait.” She whispered out, her eyes looking from right to left, shaking her head. “Never mind, I'm sorry.” What had gotten into her? Still, that nagging, sick feeling was in her stomach as they headed toward the arena doors, swallowing past the lump that formed in her throat. Something bad was going to happen, she could feel it.

He froze, his head whipping from side to side, growling. He glanced at July and nodded once. “I know.” He murmured, hurriedly escorting her into the building.

Chapter 7

“Gangrel is working for the Corporation.” Christian announced when they entered the Ministry's dressing room.

“That little shit.” Farooq grunted, cracking his knuckles.

“That's all well and good. We'll beat the shit outta him, then he won't be working for them anymore.” Bradshaw stated, raising an eyebrow at the McMahon girl. She didn't look like a girl. She was a woman and a hot one at that.

“I told you all Gangrel has been leaking information about the Ministry to the Corporation.” Edge shook his head, though his eyes were looking July up and down through those glasses.

Her blue eyes scanned the dressing room and sighed with relief when she seen Christian was there, a bandage wrapped around his forehead, her eyebrows drawing together. “Are you alright?” She asked softly, not releasing ‘Taker's hand. He'd been on the forefront of her mind because she felt responsible for his attack.

‘Taker released her hand, not having missed Edge's or Bradshaw's gazes.

“I'm fine.” He assured her, gently tugging her down onto the bench beside him. Christian winced when Bradshaw and Edge's heads were slammed together. “Ouch.”

“Manners, boys, manners.”

July blinked when she seen ‘Taker do that, wondering why he did and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear while sitting next to Christian. He'd been really nice to her and she felt like she could trust him. He'd protected her from Shane and she would owe him for a long time to come.

“Sorry...” Edge grunted, holding his head along with Bradshaw.

“‘Taker's woman, got it.” He needed some aspirin now, forgetting how much ‘Taker could read them.

“No, she's her own woman and don't you forget it.” 'Taker said, completely unruffled by what he had just done, hearing Farooq and Viscera trying to stifle their chuckles, the barest hint of humor in his green eyes. “Eyes to the front, gentleman.”

Christian was now grinning somewhat, not believing Edge had been dumb enough to get caught ogling July. Sometimes he wondered if his brother was out of his mind.

July was trying so hard not to laugh, but it was too amusing. She couldn't remember the last time she did either and leaned against Christian, who was also chuckling, shaking her head. “Are you two alright?” She managed to ask before bursting out in another fit of giggles, though she tried hard to hide it.

“Bradshaw, your head looks like there's a horn on it now.” Viscera had to sit down.

“Not funny.” Edge grumbled, holding his head, nodding when ‘Taker said July was her own woman. He couldn't agree more and decided he wouldn't ever look at her with anything, but respect.

It felt wonderful laughing as July slowly settled down before going to get some ice from both of them. “Here.” She shook her head at both men, taking her place back on the bench beside Christian. Every time she looked at his bandaged head, July couldn't stop the sadness from entering her eyes. ‘Next time he's coming in the bathroom with me.’ She thought before looking around at the other Ministry members just as Paul came trudging in and he had at least seven bags with him.

“What the hell, Paul?” He couldn't stop himself from asking, ignoring the looks he received.

“You said pick up some stuff for her...” Paul wheezed, dropping the bags at July's feet, though one he took and passed onto 'Taker.

“So you bought out the store?” He opened the bag, peering in and made a face.

Christian arched an eyebrow as an obviously embarrassed Undertaker stuffed the bag into his duffel, wondering just what was in that shopping bag.

Paul just shrugged, looking innocent, a look that did not suit him.

July missed that entirely as she tilted her head, seeing all the bags in front of her, and swallowed hard. “Umm...” She picked them up and placed them against the lockers, deciding she wasn't going to even CHANCE looking in them until she was in the privacy of their hotel room. “Thank you.” She directed that at ‘Taker before sitting back down, crossing one leg over the other, seeing the redness in ‘Taker's cheeks and raised an eyebrow.

After regaining his composure, 'Taker dragged Paul into the bathroom. “What did you buy her?” He demanded, not about to be surprised by anything, again!

“Personal items. Perfumes, deodorants, hair spray, hair ties, shaving cream, razors, tampons...”

He blinked. “You actually-”

“I have two daughters. Let's see...Midol and Pamprin, which you'll eventually thank me for. Some pajamas and I guessed her size. A Walkman and some cassettes, books, just things to keep her busy.”

He shook his head, just blinking. “Paul, you are one fortunate man. If I didn't have a soft spot for you, I'd kill you.”

“Aren't ya gonna see what he bought you?” Bradshaw asked, knowing he was probably going to be popped in the head, but figured it'd be worth it.

Rolling her eyes, July watched as Farooq handed her a bag before opening, her eyes lighting up instantly and pulled out the Walkman. She immediately opened it and pulled out a CD, raising an eyebrow, seeing it was the best of the 80s. She smiled and popped in it before beginning to listen to some Def Leppard, taking them off and handed it to Christian before pulling out a book. “Astrology.” She would have to seriously thank ‘Taker as she began flipping through the pages, fascinated with this kind of thing.

He came out to see July going through the bags, the look on her face reminding him of little children at Christmas time. He clapped Paul on the back, knowing his old friend had done very well, going above and beyond the bare necessities 'Taker himself had asked for. No doubt Paul would eventually chide him for being so insensitive, though if the man was smart, it wouldn't be tonight. ‘Taker wasn't sure if he could handle any more surprises tonight.

Christian coughed when he seen packaging through one of the bags, tucking it behind them on the bench. “Let's not go through that one.” He suggested.

July had a feeling it was something personal and looked up a Christian with a smile on her face, life slowly entering her blue eyes. “What's your birthday?” She asked promptly, flipping through the pages and found what she was looking for. “Hmm interesting...” She let Christian take the book from her to read it before digging through the bag more, seeing he'd gotten her some pajamas before pulling out another book that had to do with the constellations. Another favorite.

Seeing the light in her eyes told him he was now officially indebted to Paul, glancing at his men who were all currently having what the fuck moments. This had to be a first for all of them. “To business.” He called, feeling the need to get some order established. “Christian, just...entertain yourself, you're no good to us with that injury, rest.”

“I'll keep him entertained, ‘Taker.” She offered with a smile while they went to talk about business while Christian was stuck with her. She would make it worth his while, seeing he was just as interested in astrology as she was.

“The Corporation is going to come after her again.” Edge was speaking quietly, glancing over his shoulder, worry in his blue eyes.

When ‘Taker said he was taking July out to the ring with him tonight, all the minions blinked in shock including Christian. All were thankful that July was too engrossed in her book to overhear that. “‘Taker, she's not...”

“She'll be safer with us out there than back here with just one of us.” Paul said, agreeing wholeheartedly with Taker and glanced over at the child on the bench. He was too old to think of her as a woman considering she reminded him of his youngest daughter.

“If she's with me and if something happens, I'll be less likely to take it from any of your hides.” He said gravely, seeing a few changed expressions, nodding. “Besides, tonight nothing is scheduled besides some air time, which you all will be present for. This time if they're going to attack, we'll be expecting it. I don't think Vince will risk an all-out confrontation, even he is not that thick headed.”

“Shane is.”

Edge nodded in agreement with Bradshaw, though ‘Taker had made his mind up. “Don't you think one of us should...warn her?” He was hesitant to say those last words, but knew it had to be done.

“‘Taker will do it.” Paul said, seeing his master's green eyes flash, nodding.

“Maybe we should let Christian do it.” Viscera glanced at them, causing all eyes to turn, seeing July was showing him something in the Astronomy book.

“It's up to you ‘Taker.”

“She is aware she will be accompanying me everywhere I go.” He said simply, frowning when Edge just shook his head. “You have something to say?”

“She should know about Shane.”

“Until we're certain that he will be a problem, I see no reason to alarm anyone. Understand? For the moment, he is under Vince's control. If he strays, he will be dealt with.”

July rolled her eyes when Christian made a comment about her constellation book, setting it aside and put an earpiece in her ear while he took the other one, both of them nodding their heads to the beat of White Lion 'When the Children Cry'. Sad, but great song as she starting flipping through her astrology book. July briefly wondered what ‘Taker's sign was and decided it was none of her business.

Mideon frowned slightly, scratching the symbol etched into his forehead before glancing at July, seeing she was occupied with Christian, music and her book. “Um...Shane has Kane with him at all times. Kane answers to Shane and Shane only, isn't that a problem?”

Now THAT he hadn't known. “Paul?”

“He's made it clear he wants no part of me, I can't control him, 'Taker.”

“Damn...” Farooq grunted, shaking his head, knowing that was a very big problem on their hands. “Well, isn't there a way we could convince him to come over to the Ministry?”

“You're kidding right?” Edge actually snorted and sighed when ‘Taker glared at him. “No offense, boss, but you and Kane don't exactly have the best history.”

“He's got a point as much as I hate to admit it.” Bradshaw grunted, still holding the ice to his head and whipped it across the room, away from July. He didn't want to scare her or to get his head smashed again.

“Kane hates his brother.” Paul said evenly, holding up his hands when 'Taker next glared at him. “It's true.”

“So we'll have him committed.”

“On what grounds?”

“He tried setting Christian and July on fire.” He was aware that was a half-truth and had no problems with that.

“Whatever you say, boss.” Viscera stated, not about to go against Taker's wishes, knowing once they had Kane out of their hair, the Corporation would be easy to destroy.

“How do you wanna go about doing this?” Bradshaw asked evenly, his chest painted with symbols along with Farooq's.

“We should somehow lure Kane out without the Corporation, some place unknown, and then have the white coats ready.” Mideon suggested, shrugging.

“Okay, I'm going to sound like the bad guy for saying this, but...July.” Farooq said, rolling his eyes when he got quizzical looks. “Use her as bait.” He actually cowered when 'Taker shot up, rage in those acid green eyes. “It was-”

“A good idea.”

“Watch yourself, Paul.”

“‘Taker, think about it. We'll be there to protect her and so will you. We need to find a way to stop the Corporation in their tracks.” Viscera explained, holding ‘Taker back when he glared at Farooq with those acid green eyes.

“I hate saying it, but he has a point. July would be the perfect bait to use.” Edge didn't like admitting that and felt sick, but at the same time, she WAS a McMahon.

“We wouldn't let anythin' happen to her, boss.”

Sighing, he just nodded, knowing his Ministry was right. “Fine.” He glanced at July, frowning at the happy look on her face. He knew that was about to go down the drain. “Fine.”

“Alright, now how to go about this.” Paul said, taking over when the Undertaker just sank back into his seat. “Tonight...before anything else comes out at us from them...”

“Send her and Christian out for a walk around the building, eventually Kane will find them.”

“Along with the rest of the Corporation. This needs to be a controlled environment.”

Edge didn't like this one bit, but he knew the Ministry was going to do this whether he was involved or not. “The Corporation is going to be where Kane is unless-”

“The boiler room.”

Viscera smirked wickedly, rubbing his hands together. Often Kane went off down to the bowels of arenas to be alone, where nobody could find him usually. “That's perfect. Send her and Christian down there.”

“It's your call, ‘Taker.”

He glanced at the clock, nodding. “Send them.” He ordered, getting up and walking out of the room. Any trust July might have had with him was about to disappear.

Paul sighed, shaking his head and tapped Christian on the shoulder. “Let's talk.” He said firmly, guiding the young man into the bathroom. He explained what needed to be done and stressed the fact that July was not to know what was going on.

“Doesn't she have the right to know?”

“You think she would willingly do this?”


“Then keep your mouth closed or you'll face 'Taker's wrath.”

When Christian walked out of the bathroom with Paul and asked if she wanted to go for a walk, July nodded immediately. “Sure.” She put her book back in the bag and took Christian's extended hand, seeing the trouble in his brown eyes. She wanted to ask him if everything was alright, but also didn't want to pry. She let him guide her wherever they were going, her head lowered, not trusting anyone except the Ministry. She didn't even want to look into another soul's eyes.

Chapter 8

Christian wanted desperately to tell her what was going on, but knew if he did, he was liable to wind up in the hospital with a concussion or something. It took a while to provoke 'Taker's dark, violent temper, but he had done it, once. He remembered that all too well and wasn't keen on doing it again. He genuinely respected the man, but there was that disturbed side to the Phenom. Paul hadn't said anything about warning her to be careful though.

“Hey July...just, watch yourself tonight, okay?” He murmured, squeezing her hand.

“Okay.” She whispered softly, feeling his hand squeeze hers, and knew something was going to happen. She had to be strong though and took a few deep breaths, the tears already shining in her blue eyes. They went down some stairs and suddenly felt steam rise around them. “Where are we going?” She asked softly, keeping a firm hold on his hand, that feeling she had in her stomach earlier hitting her harder. She had to trust Christian, knowing he wouldn't let anything happen to her. He proved that as she took another deep breath.

“Into hell.” He muttered, cautiously leading the way. The air was thick down here, a bit hard to breathe. He wished ‘Taker had sent someone, but him. One good shot to the head and he'd be done for the night. He wouldn't be able to protect July if anything happened. He hesitated when he seen a faint, reddish orange glow up ahead, turning to look down at her. “I'm right here.” He whispered, squeezing her hand, wincing when he heard something hit a wall.

July nodded and stood in front of him, not about to let him get hurt because of her. She swallowed hard, wondering why they were down here in the first place, thinking they were just going for a normal walk. What had July been thinking? There was nothing normal about this and she knew they were in trouble when the crashing sound came closer.

“Christian...” She whispered fearfully, her midnight blue eyes widened in fright, and actually screamed when a monster of a man came barreling out toward them. That bad feeling had exploded in her stomach as July was thrust back from Christian, seeing the giant with the red and black mask began to kick Christian repeatedly. Something came over July that she didn't understand and forced herself to run at him. “No!!” She shouted, covering Christian with her body, shielding him and seen the blood was seeping through his bandage. It wasn't going to happen again as she began trembling. “Leave him alone!”

Kane stared down at the woman for a minute, cocking his head to the side. After a second, he shrugged and ripped her off of Christian by her very long, very thick black hair, tossing her aside in order to resume his attack on the fallen Ministry member.

“Kane, no!” Christian had yelped when he seen Kane go for July when she came bouncing right back. ‘Where the hell is 'Taker and them damn white coats?’ He thought, pushing Kane away from her. “RUN!” He ordered, knowing this had been a very bad idea.

“No!!” July shouted, looking around and found a current weapon on the ground, picking it up and proceeded to hit the big man square in the eyes with it. She blinked when he stumbled back, grabbing Christian's hand. “Come on!” She shouted at him as they both began running for their lives, July handing over the crowbar to Christian, gasping when she was suddenly grabbed from behind, a hand going over her mouth along with Christian. Tears were streaming down her face as she trembled, though she stood completely still like a statue as Kane can barreling past them. Being it was dark, she blended in perfectly.

The Undertaker appeared, the white coats behind him. He knew Kane had to be subdued long enough to be sedated and then for the sedatives to take effect. He was aware that Edge and Mideon had grabbed Christian and July out of harm’s way and attacked his brother, his long hair flying as they exchanged punches. His more effective since Kane was now thinking with his heart and just punching without thought. ‘Taker was smarter than that and aimed his blow for precise areas. He reached back to pull the syringe from one of the orderlies hands, plunging it into Kane's neck in one swift movement, watching his brother stumble, swaying for a moment then dropped.

A sigh of relief came from her lips when she seen ‘Taker, seeing him exchange heavy blows with this masked monster, and was finally released. She immediately went over to Christian, who was being checked out by his brother, tears falling down her cheeks as she stared back into his brown eyes. “Why did we come here?” She asked softly, knowing there had to be a reason.

This wasn't a normal walk and she knew it. Her eyes slowly moved to where the white coats were taking Kane away and suddenly the puzzle was piecing together. They'd been used as bait to lure that monster out so ‘Taker could attack and take him out of action. July was smarter than most gave her credit for. Still, she was part of the Ministry now and knew she had no choice, but to let ‘Taker use her for whatever he wished.

The minute Kane had been carted away, he turned to stare at her, his eyes sweeping her over quickly before landing on Christian. “Take him to be checked out.”

“I'm fine, 'Taker.” Christian assured him, gently pushing Edge away, his eyes straying to July. “You alright?”

He felt a twinge of remorse at using her, but pushed it away. It had to be done and if she had known, well, she might have panicked and done something stupid. He needed Kane GONE.

Besides the throbbing in her back and head from being slammed into a concrete wall, July was fine. She nodded and wiped her tears away, her chest rising and falling rapidly from being scared to death. “Christian, please get that checked out.” She requested gently, touching his arm, the worry and concern in her eyes. She knew he had a concussion, having overheard Edge talking about it and smiled when he reluctantly nodded. July felt Taker grab her hand, forcing her to look up at him before letting him guide her out of the basement.

He could feel the sweat coating her palm, knowing that incident had just probably scared the life out of her. Though all in all, it had actually went smoother than he could have hoped for. “It's done.” He said to the anxiously waiting Paul who had remained behind in the dressing room.

Paul nodded, glancing at July. “Did he hurt you?” He asked, referring to his insane son.

“I'm fine.” She assured him quietly before walking over to sit on the bench, pulling one of her books out, and began looking at it. Though all she could think about was the rage burning in the masked face of that monster. She shuddered and wondered if this was the price she'd have to pay by being in the Ministry. ‘They've treated me well, I will do what they say without question.’ She thought, raking a hand through her hair and wiped her palms on her skirt since they were covered in sweat.

“She's not in shock is she?”

“No.” He kneeled down in front of July, gently taking away the book and forcing her to look at him, seeing the sadness in her eyes. “I will not have you do something like that again, with or without your knowledge. You have my word.” He said softly, refusing to allow the Ministry to overhear him, but wanting her to feel safe with him as well. This woman was going to be his downfall, he simply knew it.

“I will do whatever you want, ‘Taker.” She replied softly, staring back into his green eyes, her voice barely above a whisper. “I-It is the least I can do after everything you've done for me.” She sighed heavily when she seen the sadness in his eyes, wondering what had made it surface. Did he regret using her as bait? No, impossible. That's why she was here and July would just have to get used to it. “I'm just glad you didn't get hurt.” She was referring to the masked monster he had fought with and who was taken away by the white coats.

He couldn't help, but snort at those words. “Kane? Hurt me? Highly unlikely.” He said, still staring at her. “You are not bait.” He murmured, patting the top of her head as he rose, turning to face his Ministry. “Now that THAT problem has been taken care of...”

“What next?” Farooq asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

“We handle the rest of the Corporation of course.”

She wasn't bait? Then why did he use her like he had? July simply shook her head and stood up, walking into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. She needed a minute alone and felt the tears slide down her cheeks, wrapping her arms around herself, not making a single sound.

Edge walked in with Christian, who didn't look too worse for the wear. He didn't see July anywhere, though the bathroom door was closed, nodding silently. “Come on man, sit down.”

“I look forward to beating the shit outta Shamrock.” Bradshaw snorted, owing the bastard one after nearly getting his ankle broken.

Christian sat down, ignoring Edge's coddling, glancing at the bathroom door then to 'Taker, not able to read anything off the other man's face, wondering what had happened while he was gone. He knew it was probably stupid to start having feelings for July, but he couldn't stop himself. He was beginning to see her as the little sister he had never had.

“And you shall have him, Bradshaw. Tonight, with Kane, was just the beginning. Soon the entire Corporation will fall at the Ministry's feet.”

“Now THAT'S what I like to hear!” Viscera's eyes were gleaming maliciously, wanting some action, all five hundred pounds of him.

“So is she still coming down to the ring with us?” Bradshaw asked, gesturing to the bathroom door, getting his answer when ‘Taker nodded.

July had been through enough tonight and they wanted to bring her down to the ring in front of all those people? Edge groaned inwardly and seen the look in his brother's eyes, knowing Christian was coming with them regardless just to watch out for her. “Just be careful.” He whispered just as the bathroom door opened.

July walked out, her makeup freshly done and sighed with relief upon seeing Christian as she walked over to him, sitting beside him on the bench with Edge on his other.

“So when are we ALL going ringside?” Christian asked, stressing all just so she knew, shrinking back when 'Taker stared at him, swallowing hard. “Sir?”

“Shortly.” He grunted, tempted to ring Christian's neck, but managed to restrain himself. “Very soon. Acolytes, you two will each be outside the ring, I want it circled continuously, I wouldn't put it past any of those morons to try to attack from any direction. Christian, you obviously know where you'll be.”

If July was shocked that she was going out to the ring-as they called it- she didn't show it, too concerned about Christian at the moment. “Will you explain to me what a ring is?” She quietly asked, hoping he didn't dodge her question, sighing when ‘Taker took her hand and guided her over to where he was sitting. Curious blue locked with green as July stared at him, taking a deep breath, feeling him take both of her hands in his large ones, practically swallowing them whole.

“Given who your uncle is, I would have supposed you'd have some general idea what a ring is. Yet I'm not surprised you don't.” He said evenly, ignoring his Ministry, his attention firmly fastened on her. “The ring is where we perform, where we wrestle.” He watched her intently, seeing her eyes beginning to widen as she began to understand where this was going. “In front of thousands.”

He wanted her to go out THERE? July's heart began pounding against her chest harshly, knowing he could probably hear it, and began to tremble slightly. ‘No! You have to do this! You have to obey what he says!’ She coached herself mentally and closed her eyes, breathing in through the nose and out the mouth, repeating this process several times before slowly opening her eyes again. “I understand ‘Taker.” Her voice was timid, but not shaky. She couldn't freak out, that would be a fatal mistake on her part. “Thank you for telling me.”

‘Taker had watched the play of emotions across her face, knowing if he hadn't been an unusually observant person he wouldn't have seen them. She was that good at hiding herself. It took great personal strength to lock one's feelings away, he knew from experience. Pleased with her acceptance, he nodded, his green eyes shining with approval. “You will do fine out there, July.”

She doubted that highly, but didn't voice it, seeing the approval in his eyes and cracked a small smile. “I hope so.” Was all she could say, knowing she couldn't show how truly terrified she was or else she was going to anger him.

That was the LAST thing she wanted to do. Not to mention over the years she'd managed to control her emotions and lock her feelings away because of her uncle. He put the fear of god into her so she really had no alternative, but to obey. That's all her life had been was obeying and this was no different. Though he at least took care of her and bought her things unlike her uncle had.

Chapter 9

Christian was literally biting his fingernails, not believing how nervous HE was. When 'Taker announced it was time, he stood up, watching as July was nudged in his direction, gathering he was responsible for her not bolting and smiled tentatively.

“If by chance, something does go wrong, July, you are to run. Understand?” He demanded, pulling on a pair of black, fingerless gloves, green eyes narrowed, strictly business now.

“Yes ‘Taker.” She replied, feeling the butterflies erupting in her stomach, swallowing hard. She smiled at Christian when he placed his hand in hers, knowing he would protect her. She seen how serious ‘Taker was and simply lowered her head as they walked out of his locker room, not wanting to look anyone else in the eye.

Edge sighed when he saw that, knowing Vince had her trained well. It would be hell breaking her of these habits. “July, look up. You're part of the Ministry, never look down.” He stated gently, but firmly, knowing ‘Taker wouldn't mind him saying that.

When she looked up and seen ‘Taker's nod of reassurance, she kept it up as they walked down the hallway, ignoring the glances and cat calls that came her way. Though that didn't stop the blush from creeping in her pale cheeks as they stopped behind a black curtain, hearing the roaring crowd. ‘Breathe, just breathe.’ She thought before following ‘Taker through the black curtain.

Christian inclined his head slightly. “You're with the Ministry of Darkness now, July. You don't lower your eyes for NOBODY.” He said softly, walking besides her, both of them halting on the stage as 'Taker did. “Just remember that, okay? You're one of us now.”

Sneering as he gazed over the crowd, he began walking towards the ring, the Ministry flanking him, well aware that all eyes were on July.

July looked straight ahead as she walked, her head high, feeling Christian release her hand and knew he had too. She waited for ‘Taker to raise the lights with his hands before getting in the ring, stepping through the bottom rope, her face completely neutral. Her stomach was twisting violently, but she didn't show it, simply standing beside Christian and ‘Taker, Paul on his right. Bradshaw and Farooq were on the outside with Viscera, waiting for any sneak attack that might come and Edge and Mideon were standing, waiting for their Dark Lord to speak.

Edge nodded silently at July, winking at her through his shades, knowing nobody saw it. She was doing beautifully.

Paul had retrieved a microphone, adopting a higher, very shrill tone of voice as he began speaking. “My son Kane,” He began, drawing out Kane's name in what only could be described as a whine. “ My son Kane, put his hands, on one of ours.” He pointed a stubby finger at July. “He put his hands on the Lord of Darkness' mistress!”

Christian inwardly groaned. Paul always did have a flair for the dramatic. He exchanged looks with Edge, glancing down quickly at July, glad to see if she was shocked, she was hiding it.

“So now Kane is back where he belongs, the sanitarium!” He tossed his head back, laughing wickedly.

His mistress? July stared straight ahead in the camera, her blue eyes holding both sadness and anger all in one. So this is what Vince had been orchestrating all along. Now she was ‘Taker's mistress!

“King, that poor woman is with the personification of evil.”

“Puppies JR!”

Bradshaw was about to snap Jerry Lawler's head off of his shoulders if he didn't stop talking about his boss's woman. Farooq was having the same idea as they both snapped their heads to the side, glaring at him.

He took the microphone when it was held out to him, making a mental note to kill Paul for declaring July was his mistress later. Pushing back the hood of his robe, he let a cruel smirk spread across his lips, green eyes on fire. “One by one the Corporation will fall before me. Vince McMahon the day of reckoning is coming.” He said, his baritone voice growing more and more evil with each word that came from his mouth.

Mideon shuffled excitedly when the Corporation’s music hit the sound system, led by Vince himself, knowing this was about to get entertaining.

July slowly turned when ‘Taker did, staring up the ramp way at her uncle with pure disdain and hatred burning in her blue eyes. What she wouldn't give to rip his black heart right out of his chest!! She wanted to yell, scream, berate him for all those years he did and more, for everything that happened to her. Though she kept her temper in check and simply stood there, stiff as a statue.

“You have something that belongs to us Undertaker.” Shane stated once the music cut, the crowd completely intrigued by what was going on. “And she's standing right next to you.”

There was no way July was going back to them. Over her dead body would she ever leave ‘Taker's side, after everything he'd done for her! No, it wasn't happening.

“July, you know he's simply using you right?”

When Paul held the microphone up to her, July simply replied in a soft, dangerous tone, “I'd rather be used by him than you.”

“You heard it straight from her own mouth, Shane-O, my boy!” Paul waggled a finger at them, chuckling wickedly. “Now, now, now gentleman...I do believe the Undertaker wishes you to see something.” He glanced at 'Taker, smirking when the Phenom nodded. “Roll it!”

On the Titan tron appeared an image of the McMahon home, Stephanie and Linda screaming as they were dragged from the house, the giant T symbol Mideon had personally prepared burning on the front lawn.

“Heard from your wife or daughter lately?”

Obviously they hadn't, but ‘Taker didn't have them, though that was his little secret.

July stared at the Titan tron and crossed her arms in front of her chest, no remorse in her cold, dark midnight blue eyes. If anything, she looked downright amused as her uncle began throwing a fit on the top stage.

“WHERE ARE THEY?!” Shane bellowed in the microphone, his eyes lit on fire, though they were also filled with worry for his mother and sister.

The Acolytes were smirking wickedly, rubbing their hands together, and walking around the ring like they were instructed, though they had to stop to watch the footage.

Mideon was jumping up and down with glee, eyes flashing and crawled over to rest against the bottom rope, hands gripping it tightly much like Edge.

He had the microphone again, his voice dripping with venom as he took in the irate Shane and Vince. “In Hell.” He said, watching in amusement as the two began shouting again, their voices carrying down the ramp. “And they LOVED the trip there.” He injected a hint of lewdness into his tone, seeing Vince and Shane both go stark white. He could lie with the best of them.

Paul was laughing his ass off and it wasn't acting, he found this all genuinely amusing.

July felt a shiver course down her spine at his words, but hid it well, simply smiling up the ramp way at her uncle and cousin, enjoying seeing their faces pale for once.

“Y-You monster!! Where are they?!” Shane demanded again, feeling sick to his stomach while Vince snatched the microphone, the rest of the Corporation behind him, ready to strike if they were given the signal. Without Kane though, they didn't stand a chance.

“What do you want ‘Taker?” Vince demanded gruffly, knowing he had to abide by the man or else he'd never see his wife and daughter again. “Please, I'll do anything if you give me back my family.”

“Hmmm...What do I want...” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Vince that is quite the extensive list. For starters...how about you come down here, get on your knees in front of July and APOLOGIZE?”

Christian blinked, staring at ‘Taker.

Now the surprise showed on July's face as she slowly looked up at ‘Taker, seeing his green eyes were serious, and looked back at her uncle with a genuine smile on her face.

“You're joking right?” Vince started laughing. “After all the hell that girl has put my family through over the years? SHE SHOULD'VE DIED WITH HER PARENTS!!”

Shane now had a microphone of his own. “Yeah!! My parents were forced to take care of her!! She shouldn't of been born!!” He was smirking wickedly, knowing how broken and fragile July was.

That rocked July hard as she closed her eyes, beginning to tremble from head to toe, her fists clenched at her sides. Vince had told her that since she was a little girl and Shane...she absolutely REFUSED to think about him and slowly opened her eyes, having pushed all of her feelings away until she was somewhere alone.

“King, the Phenom is going to murder the Corporation.”

Edge wanted to rip them apart, his blue eyes flashing even through the glasses he wore.

The Undertaker was LIVID and it showed, fury etched in face, his entire Ministry ready for a fight, their own faces dangerous as well. “Do I LOOK like I'm joking, McMahon?” He demanded, his voice decidedly dangerous now. “You BOTH have three seconds to come to this ring, get on your knees and apologize to July and THEN take your beatings like REAL men or Linda and Stephanie will NEVER come home. Understand me?”

Vince stared back at his son, seeing how angry the Undertaker looked, seeing his Ministry was ready to dish out some serious punishment. He knew there had to be another way. “I have a better way.” He snapped his fingers once and pointed his finger toward. “BRING THAT UNGRATEFUL BITCH TO ME!!” He roared, the Corporation beginning to come down to the ring.

“Dad wait!!” Shane shouted, causing everyone to stop, shaking his head frantically. “What about mom and Steph?”

Vince grunted, wanting to rip Undertaker apart along with July. “We'll beat it out of them!”

“Fat chance of THAT happenin' ladies and gentlemen.” JR snorted in his headset.

“JR shush unless you want to feel the wrath of Mr. McMahon!” King stated worriedly, wondering what was going to happen now. “Poor Linda and Stephanie...”

He was the first to swing a blow, out of the ring quicker than a wink, passing the Ministry even faster. He tossed the Corporation out of his way, eyes on Vince alone.

“Come on!” Christian dragged July out of the ring and towards the announcer's table, ready to jump the guard rail, knowing he had to protect her at all costs. He seen the look on her face and tossed her over his shoulder. “This is a fight you won't win July!”

July grunted as Christian hoisted her over his shoulder, hopping the guardrail as they made their way through the crowd. “Let me down!” She ordered, wiggling out of his grasp, looking back at the ring while she seen the Ministry was positively demolishing the Corporation. “Christian look!”

Vince was through the black curtain along with his son Shane, both not wanting to feel the wrath of the Undertaker.

A cry of pain escaped her when they arrived backstage and July was slapped across the face by her uncle, causing her to slide down the wall. Christian had been taken out of commission due to a chair shot from Shane.

“That'll teach you your proper place!!” He snarled, lifting her up by her black tresses and began dragging her toward their waiting limo. “KNOCK IT OFF JULY!” Plans had changed when he seen she was actually ENJOYING being with the Ministry.

“No!! Let me go!!”

He was right behind them, having thrown the interfering Shamrock to the eager Bradshaw when the moron had tried to stop him. He seen Vince DRAGGING July by her hair and exploded.

Vince roared in pain when his own hair was grabbed and he was actually lifted off the ground by his roots, quickly letting go of July.

“How do you like it?” He snarled, slamming Vince face first into the wall, hearing a crunch and knew Vince's nose had been broken, slamming him again.

July scrambled back, tears streaming down her face, her heart beating a furious tattoo in her chest and held her head as the pain radiated throughout it. That'd been the second time that night since she'd nearly gotten her hair ripped from her roots, seeing a few strands lying on the concrete flooring. She felt a sense of satisfaction at the sight of her uncle's bloody nose, knowing he deserved much more than that.

“Christian!” She whispered frantically, trying to get to him, and shoved Shane away when he went to grab her. “No!” She slapped him across the face, forcing him to release her arm as she crawled over to where her friend was lying motionless. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she set his head in her lap while Taker took care of both her uncle and cousin.

He got one punch on Shane before the boy wonder somehow managed to flee, leaving his dad to the wolves. He glanced down at the unconscious McMahon, smirking and spat on him. 'Taker kneeled down besides July and Christian, giving her a cursory once over. She'd live, it was Christian he was worried about. He gently scooped the smaller man into his arms, gesturing with his head for July to get up.

“He needs a hospital.” He said, blood beginning to already stain him. Christian had already had a concussion. That chair shot could have killed him.

Chapter 10

“‘Taker, I want to go with him. Please.” She sniffled, holding Christian's hand, her blue eyes pleading with him. ‘Taker nodded, causing her to sigh with relief as they took Christian out of the arena and headed toward the nearest the hospital. The rest of the Corporation had been brutalized, but not left for dead and the Ministry would know what had happened when they saw the unconscious Vince McMahon in the back. The entire way to the hospital, July couldn't stop crying as she tried getting Christian to wake up, sitting in the backseat with him. “This is because of me. This is all my fault.” She whispered brokenly, trying to stop the tears from falling, but she was terrified for her friend.

“No, it is not your fault.” 'Taker corrected from his place at the wheel, breaking speed limits without regret, his eyes never leaving the road. His hands gripped the steering wheel tightly, his knuckles white and the look in his eyes promising murder. “This is your...uncle's fault.” He sneered the word, wondering what kind of vermin Vince was. At the hospital, he carried Christian inside, snarling when they tried taking him away. “Show me his room and I'll lay him down.” He said, his tone dangerous enough that nobody contradicted him.

July followed him inside the room as he laid Christian down on the hospital bedding before both her and Taker were ushered out while the medics worked on him. She slid down the wall and drew her knees up, burying her face in them and began sobbing. Why had her uncle sent her here if he wanted her back now? It didn't make any sense. July felt a hand on her shoulder and slowly looked up into ‘Taker's green eyes, wishing she could believe this wasn't her fault.

“If he wouldn't have been protecting me...” His finger pressed against her lips, causing silent tears to roll down her cheeks.

“It was his job and he did it. He couldn't know they'd be waiting for him.” He said softly. “Don't tarnish the honor of what he did. Christian would have protected you regardless.” He stood up when the Ministry filed in, quietly explaining the situation.

“Vince is on his way, emergency hair transplant. Apparently he now has several odd bald spots on his skull.”

“Bradshaw, Farooq, see that he doesn't make it through those doors.”

“Hurt him.” She whispered, more to herself than them, but knew they heard her as she slowly stood up. The amount of fire in her eyes was enough to set a building in flames as she closed her eyes, her uncle's words replaying over and over in her mind. She wanted him to hurt, to feel the same pain she had, the same pain Christian was feeling right now. The doctor came out and informed them he was going to be alright, but he needed to take a few days off to recuperate. July was the first one inside, taking his hand in hers, not wanting to leave his side just as he hadn't left hers. He was the big brother she never had and she already felt a strong connection with him. “Thank you.” She whispered to him, sitting down in a chair, her tears slowly subsiding.

He let her have a few minutes alone with Christian, busy discussing plans for Linda and Stephanie with Paul. They weren't with him, but he knew where they were. He knew because Linda had reluctantly agreed to go along with his plan, without her daughter knowing. He had deposited them in a well-stocked, but totally isolated place. No car, no phones, nothing. He had been intent on leaving them unharmed, but that might have to change.

Vince was beaten to a pulp outside the emergency room doors, security escorting the Acolytes out.

“Is he alright?” Edge asked quietly in the doorway, staring at his brother, not believing what happened. They had the problem in hand, Christian should've stayed at ringside, but he was always doing what he felt best to protect July.

She nodded before slowly standing, letting Edge have a few minutes alone with his brother, and walked out of the room, raking a hand through her hair. “Sorry.” She mumbled when she bumped into Mideon, walking over and sitting down in a chair, putting her head in her hands and winced slightly.

“What do you want us to do with the McMahon women, ‘Taker?” Viscera asked, crossing his arms in front of his chest, pissed beyond belief.

“Orders sir and they will be carried out.” Mideon promised darkly.

Paul waved for Viscera to be silent, his eyes widening as he listened to 'Taker's murmurs. “You certain?” He asked in a hushed whisper.


“Mideon, you will take Viscera and go fetch the McMahon females. Take them to our next location.” He said, rubbing his face with a handkerchief. He couldn't believe 'Taker would really go through with this. It was one thing to go after the spoiled Stephanie, but Linda?

“That fucking bastard is mine when I get a hold of him.” Edge growled when he walked out of his brother's room, his eyes blue fire, wanting to snap Shane's neck like a damn twig. “He could've KILLED him!”

“Edge, calm down.” Viscera ordered, seeing how pissed off the man, but this was no time to lose his cool. “‘Taker, do you mind if I take him with us?”

That wasn't a bad idea considering Shane was probably back at the hotel while his daddy was currently getting treated by the hospital staff.

He contemplated that, cracking his neck. The Acolytes would be sufficient for the moment, already planning on traveling with the Ministry from now on, refusing to separate ranks any more than he had too. “Yes, but make sure it gets done quickly. I want a phone call every hour on the hour, we're not taking any more chances. If McMahon wants to play dirty, we'll simply beat him at his own game. Mideon, we'll need some sacrificial tables and I want my special dagger.”

Mideon nodded, his eyes shining excitedly.

July had gone back into Christian's room, sitting in the chair, not even caring what was going to happen to Linda and Stephanie. All these years they didn't give a damn about her so it was time to reciprocate the same courtesy. That and she couldn't get Vince's words out of her mind, lowering her head as her eyes shut tightly. Her parents had died when she was an infant and July wished she had died with them in that explosion. She would be with them right now instead of in this apparent war. The thought made tears spill down her cheeks, wrapping her arms around herself, her black hair hiding her tear streaked face from view.

“Hey, what're you crying for?” Christian whispered from the bed, his eyes still closed. He could hear the change in her breathing and had known it was July. None of them men were about to cry, curse yes, promise revenge for him, but not cry over him. He slowly cracked his eyes open, focusing them on her, waiting for the double vision to recede. “July?”

Her head snapped up when she heard his voice, immediately standing up, smiling tearfully down at him. “It's not you.” She assured him, wiping her tears away, and took his hand in hers, glad he was awake. “It's just been an emotional night.” That was her explanation and she was sticking to it as she stared back into his glazed brown eyes, sighing deeply. “Do you want me to get the doctor or ‘Taker?” She asked softly, sniffling a bit, ignoring the slight pain in her own head. She would deal with that later, though a faint black and blue bruise was forming on her face from where Vince had slapped her.

“Not just yet.” He murmured, reaching out his hand to her, smiling when she took it. His eyes took in her bruised face, frowning. “Have you had that looked at?” He asked softly, sighing when she shook her head. Not like much could be done for it anyway, some ice to lessen the swelling and some aspirin for the pain. “What's ‘Taker done about all this?” He then asked, already knowing something had been done and wondered if he was going to be punished for failing his boss, eyes filling with worry.

“Shhh relax, it wasn't your fault. We didn't see them coming.” She seen the worry in his eyes, stroking his hair gently with her fingers, glad he was just awake and alert. “I don't know what they're doing, something about Linda and Stephanie.” She'd caught parts of it, but honestly, she didn't care. Whatever happened they deserved it after what Vince said and did to her. It was selfish, but July had every right to be. “You protected me the best you could, Christian. Thank you.” She kissed his forehead before gripping his hand in hers, squeezing it gently, her eyes shining with appreciation.

“Yes, thank you.” Came 'Taker's voice from the doorway, leaning against the door frame, studying Christian intently. “I am grateful.”

He had to blink, wondering if he was still unconscious and now dreaming. It sounded like ‘Taker, it looked like ‘Taker...it couldn't be though. “Um, you're welcome?”

He raised one eyebrow, looking a bit amused.

July couldn't stop giggling at the look that came over Christian's face even if her life depended on it. Though it was soft as she looked back at ‘Taker. Why he wanted to protect not only her, but her honor was beyond her, but July wasn't going to question it. “Told you.” She winked at him, causing Christian to snort, smiling as she patted his hand before leaving the room, giving them a minute alone.

He was in there for a long time, talking to Christian. When he came out, Christian had fallen asleep again. 'Taker stood in the hallway, talking quietly with Christian's doctor. When he came out to the waiting room, he was pleased to find Viscera, Mideon and Edge gone, knowing they were tending to their little mission. “Paul, go bail out the Acolytes. Christian can't be moved for a few more hours. That should give you more than enough time.”

Nodding, Paul walked off, knowing a trip to an ATM was definitely in order. He didn't have enough cash to post bail.

July was sitting in the chair across from Christian's room, black hair hanging over her right shoulder as Taker sat next to her, slowly looking up at him. She immediately looked away when he began examining her face, knowing it was marred from the huge bruise. It went from below her eye down to her chin, covering her entire cheek. She'd have to get some cover-up for it until it went away, biting her bottom lip. No doubt he had questions about her parents now, knowing he had no idea why she'd been with Vince all this time, feeling the heartache and pain overtaking her slowly.

Sighing, he gently forced her to turn her face back to him, running his fingertips gently down the bruise. “I want you to see a doctor.” He said evenly. He knew damn well there wasn't nothing to do for it, but oh well. He stood up, taking her hand and pulling her to her feet. “Nurse?” He called, reaching out to stop a woman. “She needs to have her face looked at.”

“Oh my god...did you hit her?” She instantly regretted asking that at the look on the very large man's face.

July's eyes widened when she said that, shaking her head frantically. “No of course he didn't!” She was appalled and glared at the nurse when she went to touch her. The nurse immediately vacated and a new one took her place, this one much nicer.

“Come here sweetie, let's get that looked at. My name is Cindy by the way.”

She just sat there, ‘Taker holding her hand, wincing when the nurse pressed on it before putting some peroxide on the small cut along with a small band aid.

“I'm afraid the bruising will have to go away on its own. Aspirin and ice if the swelling doesn't go down.” She then walked away, causing July to sigh.

She already knew that, but knew ‘Taker was pleased that she'd been looked at regardless.

Shane McMahon knew he was pressing his luck by doing this, but...Even he knew 'Taker wasn't about to assault him in a place as public as the hospital. He had seen the entire Ministry disappear from his car, shaking his head. “July.” He said gravely when he seen her and 'Taker walk out of a room, standing in the center of the hallway.

“Can I help you?” A doctor asked tiredly.

“I'm this woman's cousin, I've been asked by her guardian to come fetch her.” He produced a paper, passing it to the doctor.

“She's twenty-two.” ‘Taker hissed, not believing the audacity of this prick.

“Seventeen, would you like to see a birth certificate?”

Chapter 11

“No I am not!” July shouted at him, her blue eyes widened, shaking her head back and forth as ‘Taker held her close to him. “I am twenty-two years old, I have proof!” Vince had been smart enough to send ‘Taker proof of her REAL birth certificate since he hadn't believed she was a McMahon. ‘Taker had those documents as July watched him pull it out, wondering if he carried it on him all the time. She didn't care as the doctor looked it over, crossing her arms in front of her chest, seeing Shane's face had completely paled.

“Sir, I'm going to ask you very nicely to leave this hospital ONCE unless you have other business here BESIDES tormenting this poor woman.” The doctor stated evenly, watching as Shane stomped away.

He watched Shane go with narrowed eyes, instinctively knowing this wouldn't be the last they heard from the Boy Wonder. He guided July out to the waiting room, sitting her down on a couch and sat beside her. “What is it Shane wants from you?” He asked gently, knowing something was up. Shane had been the one to demand the Corporation get her on her first night, wondering just what that was all about.

“I can't...” She whispered, tears forming in her eyes, knowing exactly what he wanted. She stood up and wrapped her arms around herself, beginning to tremble from head to toe, feeling sick to her stomach. “‘Taker, I've managed to forget what happened for a long time and...I can't do it. Please. Don't make me talk about it.” Her voice was a whispery sob, her back to him, head lowered in shame. She didn't ever want to think about it again, knowing Shane wasn't going to leave her alone until he had her again. She shivered with dread at the thought and nearly lost her footing, her legs shaking.

Seeing how unsteady July was, like she would collapse at any second, 'Taker pulled her down into his lap. Knowing how strange it must look to an outsider, seeing him cradling this small woman, his heavily tattooed arms around her tightly. “You don't have to say anything.” He murmured, not sure he even wanted to know anymore. “I won't ask again, July.”

The memory was slowly beginning to surface as July trembled violently against him, burying her face in his neck, wrapping her around his neck as she sobbed. “I-I'm sorry...” She whispered over and over again, knowing she was a broken mess, a broken woman. Nothing would be able to bring her back from the horrible ordeal she suffered at the McMahon home. No matter what, nobody could ever know what happened with Shane. Nobody. She would keep that secret until death as she felt ‘Taker's arms engulf her, needing the comfort he was offering at the moment.

What in the name of all that was holy had Shane done to make her so terrified? He could think of several different things and all of them made his blood boil. He began physically shaking with rage, having to struggle to calm himself down, knowing his anger wouldn't help July any. “Calm down.” He soothed, stroking her back in slow, soothing circle motions. “It's alright, July. I'll keep you safe.” He murmured in her ear.

She slowly pulled back to stare back into his green eyes, seeing the fire in his eyes, and swallowed hard. He didn't even know what happened and he was already this angry. July didn't even want to fathom what would happen if he ever did find out the truth. “I trust you ‘Taker.” She whispered, taking a deep breath. “I've known you for two days, but...you've treated me with more respect and taken better care of me than he ever thought about doing in the past twenty-two years I've been alive. I am forever in your debt, thank you.”

“There is no debt.” He said quietly, placing a finger over her lips when she went to contradict him. “I mean it, July. I don't do anything I don't want too and I haven't asked you for repayment and I never will.” ‘Taker's eyes moved past her when he seen Paul coming in with Bradshaw and Farooq. His eyes daring Bradshaw to finish whatever he was about to say, seeing the shock on the other man's face. No doubt an odd sight, but he wasn't about to move just yet, pulling July against him.

“Uh...Christian is awake.” Bradshaw seen ‘Taker's eyebrow rise slowly and swallowed hard, being a terrible liar.

July simply snuggled back against him, sighing gently, closing her eyes. He was comforting, she couldn't help it. Her tear streaked face and blackish blue cheek showing to the rest of the Ministry.

“That mother fucker...” Farooq growled, seeing the bruise and clenched his fists tightly. “Is she okay?”

“I'm fine Farooq.” She quietly replied, feeling ‘Taker running his fingers through her black tresses, sighing in content, her eyes drifting shut again.

“We heard Shane was here.”

July shivered against ‘Taker no matter how hard she tried not to.

“He was.” He said slowly, glancing at Paul. “Any word?”

“They were almost there when Edge called.”


“You're really-”

“Ask me again Paul and I will lose my temper.”

“‘Taker, why don't ya take her back to the hotel? She looks exhausted, we can watch over Christian if you want.” Bradshaw offered, seeing July was fighting to sleep.

Farooq nodded in agreement, standing beside his best friend. “Go on boss, you look exhausted too. Paul will keep you informed on what's goin' on.”

July didn't say a word, it was completely up to ‘Taker, though she was worried about leaving Christian alone in the hospital. Shane was capable of anything right now.

“No.” He said, refusing to leave Christian. “He'll be released as soon as he wakes and then we're leaving. I'll sleep on the drive.”

“I'll drive.” Bradshaw offered with a sigh. “I got a nap in at the county lock-up.”

“You can sleep here little one.” 'Taker murmured in July's ear. “I'll hold you while you nap.” He knew she was exhausted, but he adamantly refused to make any of them weak by lessening their numbers. Unless he had too.

“I don't want to leave Christian.” She murmured softly, snuggling further against him, sighing with relief. Within moments she was fast asleep, her chest rising and falling slowly, her breathing even. A strand of black hair fell over her face when she moved, making her look even more angelic.

Farooq sat down beside ‘Taker, Bradshaw on his other side, both men watching over their boss along with the rest of the Ministry. He'd heard what ‘Taker was going to do to the McMahon women and knew they had it coming, especially after what they heard from Vince regarding July. “‘Taker, she's been through a hell of an ordeal,” He began slowly. “Do ya think what you're plannin' is going to help with that?”

“Unless I've misread her and the situation, I doubt it. If anything, she'll enjoy it thoroughly.” 'Taker said calmly, meeting Farooq's gaze evenly. “Why? Don't tell me you're going soft...” His voice was a mere whisper now.

Bradshaw recognized that deadly tone and cleared his throat. He was almost tempted to speak up on his partner's behalf, but knew Farooq would have to dig himself out of this grave on his own.

“No, no not at all.” Farooq shook his head repeatedly, clearing his throat. “I was simply making sure you were going through with it cause I can't wait to see those bitches scream.” He looked away when ‘Taker just narrowed his eyes, knowing he'd better shut up now.

“Gentlemen?” The doctor called out, causing all of them to turn, seeing Christian in a wheelchair, looking like he wanted to clock the doctor right in the face. “He's free to go as soon as these papers are signed.”

“Thank god.” Farooq muttered under his breath.

As soon as Paul had signed the necessary papers, Christian all, but leaped out of the wheelchair, looking around. “Where's Edge?” He sighed, shaking his head, remembering what 'Taker had told him. He grinned broadly, looking down at July. “She sure is pretty, isn't she?”

“That's the pain killers talking, be gentle.” Paul said, watching as 'Taker stood up, July in his arms.

This was going to be a long drive.

Bradshaw chuckled and slapped Christian gently on the shoulder, knowing he didn't know what he was saying at the moment. “Yeah, but she's taken.” He stated, glancing at the boss, who simply brushed a strand of black hair back from her face.

“We gotta long drive ahead of us.” Farooq stated as he tossed the keys to his partner, not having slept in the jail cell like he had.

July slowly fluttered her eyes open when she felt ‘Taker stand up, looking over at Christian and smiled softly before snuggling back against ‘Taker's chest, falling right back to sleep.

“Taken?” Christian echoed, smiling like a kid at Christmas. He felt GOOD. “Nuh uh, she's not taken. She's July. She's like my sister or something and the Deadman isn't-” He frowned when Paul clapped a hand over his mouth, talking right through it.

“Would you like me to ether him?”

“Tempting, but probably not conductive to recovery. Gag him if you need too though.” He said, slipping into the backseat with July.

“Boy, if you know what's good for you, don't talk.” Bradshaw cautioned Christian before the man slipped in the backseat with ‘Taker, Farooq next to him and Paul had taken the passenger seat. He had no choice considering how big he was.

Farooq was in the back to make sure ‘Taker didn't kill Christian for whatever he might say. He wasn't going to stop the kid, wanting to sleep before they arrived. He wasn't Christian’s babysitter damn it!

“Why?” Christian babbled innocently. “I'm not doing anything. It's just so nice to be out of that hospital. Shane really whacked me hard with that chair, ya know? I couldn't believe he even had the balls to do it. He was like there one minute and the next I was like, in the hospital going WHOA and like-” His head drooped as 'Taker snapped and applied a pressure point.

“Thank the Lord. He said 'like' one more time and I was going to pull this SUV over and beat the shit out of him.”

“You're not the only one.” Farooq muttered before leaning his head against the glass window, yawning, and closed his eyes as the sleep overtook his body.

“‘Taker, they arrived.” Paul said about an hour later, looking in the rearview mirror, and immediately shut his mouth at what he saw.

‘Taker was stroking July's hair while admiring her, seemingly in his own little world, and Paul sighed gently. That precious angel was going to be the death of his master, he could feel it, and glanced back out the window. He closed his eyes and was asleep in no time flat.

‘Taker had heard Paul, but was too absorbed in July to offer a response, not that one was needed. He had memorized her face, taking in the small worry lines that already marred the delicate skin around her eyes. His heart breaking at how hard her life must have been for a mere twenty-two year old woman to look the way she did. He could see the faint circles that showed the lack of sleep she had suffered, her make-up having been worn down from her crying. He gently twirled a strand of her black hair around a finger, closing his eyes briefly. Everything about July screamed at him for help, for love and affection, for someone to be kind to her. He vowed to show her all those things and more.

He had no idea just how hard July's life had been. From the time she was an infant till recently, she spent every birthday, every Christmas, every day in isolation, cut off from the world. It was ridiculous to most people, seeing how excited she was over getting clothes and a mere book, but to July it was everything. She'd been in rages, only having three ragged dresses that couldn't even be considered ordeal to wear in the past four years, the McMahons refusing to buy her new clothes or anything. They didn't take care of her and Vince had destroyed her soul, her spirit, the fire that burned deep within her heart.

Eventually he had nodded off, resting his head on top of July's, unaware that both Bradshaw and Paul had been watching them.

“What do ya think about that?”

“I think McMahon is going to regret anything and everything he's ever done to that girl.”

Bradshaw nodded in agreement. “He's probably regretting handing her over to 'Taker now.”

“If not then he soon will.”

Farooq had awoken and noticed the sight as well, shaking his head with a smile on his face. “I don't think I've ever seen the boss that happy.” He whispered, seeing Christian was leaning against him, and rolled his eyes, deciding he'd grit and bare through it since the man had been through a horrible ordeal.

For the first time in twenty-two years, July slept soundly in ‘Taker's arms, not waking up once from a night terror about her parents or a nightmare about Shane. Instead, her dreams were filled of ‘Taker, the man who had taken care of her. She was actually smiling and snuggled against him while deep in her sleep, her arms resting in front of her.

Chapter 12

Paul had dozed as well, finally awakening when Bradshaw nudged him. Yawning, he shifted in his seat to look back at 'Taker and July, almost smiling. Though he was happy to see the big man at peace. He also knew this mere slip of a girl would also be the Undertaker's downfall. He just hoped everything would work out. “‘Taker, we're here.”

He scowled, refusing to be disturbed just yet, his hold on July tightening a little.

“‘Taker, boss we're here.” Bradshaw shook his head when he got a growl before slipping out of the car.

July felt someone gently nudge her arm, her eyes slowly fluttering open, and felt something on top of her head. It took her a moment to realize it was ‘Taker's head as she slowly raised her hand up, caressing his face gently while the other members of the Ministry got out. “‘Taker, we've stopped.” She informed him in a whisper, yawning softly and stretched her arms out as much as she could. Wherever they were, she prayed they had a bathroom and bed.

Sighing, he nodded, reluctantly opening his eyes and stifled a yawn. A glance at the sky told him they could crash for a few more hours, deciding business could wait. If all had gone according to plan, Linda and Stephanie were currently under watch nearby, that base was covered. “C'mon, darlin'.” His natural southern drawl emerging, tired as hell and it was showing. He slid from the SUV, extending his hand to her.

He blinked. Did he just hear the word 'darling' come out of the Phenom's mouth?

His accent surprised her as July took his hand, allowing him to pull her from the car, and let him guide her inside. The house was huge, four stories, and pure black just like on the inside. July looked around in wonder as she was lead up the long winding staircase, seeing Taker was going slower than he normally would because of her height.

They finally arrived at the floor and July couldn't help, admiring the artistic architecture the house brought forth, being guided into what she could only think of as his room. She yawned and kicked her boots off before going into the bathroom, relieving herself, and walked back out before climbing into bed. She didn't care if he wanted her with him, she felt safe and secure and enjoyed sleeping in his arms at the hospital and on the way here.

Probably, for her own comfort as well as his questionable sanity, he should have put her up in one of the many guest rooms, but it was just more comfortable with July around. After giving instructions to be woken up in a few hours, he went into his bedroom, closing the door behind him. He wanted nothing more than to crawl in bed with July, but needed a quick shower and a change of clothes. He finally emerged from the bathroom in just sweat pants, crawling into the bed and pulled her into his arms, a half smile playing his lips when she snuggled into him.

A soft sigh escaped her lips as July turned to where her head resting against his chest, her arm draped over his waist. She looked like a doll compared to him and felt his chin rest against the top of her head. The sound of his heartbeat lulled her back to sleep, exhausted from everything that happened over the past few days. She just needed peace and tranquility and found it when she was alone with ‘Taker.

When he felt and heard her even breathing, he actually smiled, caressing her side gently. It was a comforting feeling, knowing she felt secure enough to fall asleep in his arms. 'Taker yawned, turning his head to kiss the top of hers before falling back asleep as well, knowing in a few short hours he would probably have a massive headache.

When July woke up sometime later that day, she wasn't surprised to be alone, knowing ‘Taker was probably handling business. She slowly sat up and yawned, stretching her arms in the air before cracking her back. She hadn't slept that well in ages and winced at her cheek when a zip of pain went through it. Sighing gently, July slipped from the bed, seeing her bags were already in there and sifted through them, deciding to be comfortable since she knew they weren't going to an arena for a few days. She pulled out a pair of black pajama pants with a black tank top, something simple, before going to take a much needed shower. Paul had gotten her Herbal Essence shampoo and conditioner along with some lavender scented body wash. So she didn't have to use ‘Taker's stuff. When she emerged a half an hour later, July stopped when she seen ‘Taker sitting on the bed, towel drying her black hair, already dressed.

He was staring down at his tightly clenched hands, his knuckles white. He closed his eyes, opening them, a small smear of blood on his right palm. 'Taker had gone down to the basement to have a chat with Stephanie and Linda, the entire thing being filmed by Mideon, wanting Vince to see he truly had his precious family. Stephanie had shot off at the mouth about July and he had slapped her twice, hard enough to draw blood from her mouth. He had never hit a woman before, ever.

“‘Taker?” July softly called out, seeing he was in somewhat of a shock, her eyes landing on the blood on his knuckle, swallowing hard.

She slowly walked over and touched his arm, seeing his eyes look up into her confused and concerned blue ones, the regret swimming in his own. She sighed and dropped the towel before wrapping her arms around his neck, wanting to give him a little dose of comfort after everything he'd done for her. What had he done? She didn't want to know and closed her eyes, burying her face in his neck.

He closed his eyes, inhaling the scent of her shampoo deeply, clinging to that scent like it was a lifeline. He let out a ragged breath, gently pushing her away and headed into the bathroom, needing to get Stephanie's blood off of him. ‘Taker walked back out with a hand towel, drying them, his eyes on her. “Did you sleep well?” He asked, his tone indicating that his momentary lapse was off topic.

“Yes, actually I did.” She replied softly, sitting on the bed, staring up at him with wonder in her eyes. She knew that blood came from either Stephanie or Linda and didn't care. No fear shone in her eyes, there was no reason for her to ever be afraid of him. “Are you okay?” She asked, seeing he was still trembling somewhat, but didn't get up to comfort him again. She had a feeling he didn't want it as she slowly stood up, walking over to her bags, glad that she had some things to read while she was here.

“Fine.” He muttered through gritted teeth, growling when he seen blood on his gray shirt, peeling it off and tossing it aside. She hadn't bled that damn much, had she? He didn't know… he'd walked away the moment he'd seen her bleeding, before he did something really bad, like snap her scrawny ass in two. “Why do they hate you so much, July?”

She froze when he asked her that question, her shoulders slumping, and slowly turned around to face him. “Because I was born.” She seen his green eyes widen and walked over to sit on the bed, her back against the pillows, drawing her knees up to her chest. “My parents...died when I was an infant, five months old to be precise. Car accident. Drunk driver. The car exploded upon impact.” She wasn't looking at him, knowing she wouldn't get through this explanation if she did, keeping her eyes focused on the comforter below. “Vince and Linda are my godparents so they were forced to take me in by law. They could've sent me to a foster home, but according to Vince, Linda begged him to keep me. She's the only one out of them who showed me remotely any kindness. I was a burden to them, a horrible burden who should've died in the explosion with my parents. Though they were celebrating their ten year wedding anniversary, according to what Linda told me, and they left me with a babysitter that night...”

He wasn't surprised to find Linda had been the kind one to July. He knew Linda had suffered her husband's cruelty, no doubt afraid to be too nice to July just in case. He'd been mildly shocked when Linda had begged him to let her know if July was okay, if she was finally happy, having refused to tell her anything. He'd have to see she got her answers after all. “They were wrong.” He said flatly. “You are not a burden and anyone who tells you otherwise should have died in that accident is a fool who deserves to die them self.”

“And Shane...” Now the tears began flowing as she closed her eyes tightly shut, shaking her head when he went to comfort her, knowing she had to tell him why Shane was so interested in getting her back into the Corporation. “When I was...fifteen...” She had to swallow bile back, just letting the tears flow down her cheeks, the memory gate opening that she had closed all this time. “I-I'm not going to go into detail, but he...” July began trembling from head to toe and buried her face in her knees, trying to gain control again. She finally looked up when she felt ‘Taker's hand on her shoulder and looked into his green eyes. “He raped me.” She whispered brokenly, dropping her head forward, shaking it slowly back and forth. “H-He dragged me from the attic one night down to his room and...Did it...” She pressed a hand to her forehead and closed her eyes, the pain overtaking every nerve ending of her body. “H-He stole my innocence...and my youth...”

‘Taker stared at her, every muscle in his body tensing, the anger cresting up in him until he was about to explode. His eyes had gone from calm to murderous in a matter of seconds. Shane had raped July, his own cousin, when she was a girl. He cracked his neck, the sound ominous before storming out of the room. His rational mind told him he should calm July, soothe her. The part he was currently listening too demanded action. He was going back to the basement.

July watched him storm out and honestly didn't blame him. She was damaged goods and fell back on the bed, curling up in a tight ball, letting the sobs overtake her. The pain radiated through her body as the memories of what Shane did sliced through her like a knife, cutting apart her heart, tormenting her mind. How he whispered what a good little girl she was...July shuddered and didn't blame ‘Taker for not wanting to be near her now. She knew she had to tell him though and squeezed her eyes tightly shut, crying harder no matter how hard she tried stopping.

Linda wrapped her arms around her hysterical daughter when the Undertaker all, but ripped the door off its hinges. She seen the deadly intentions on his face and felt her face drain of color. “Please.” She whispered, her voice trembling.

“Did you know?” He demanded, aware they were being watched through the one way mirror.


“That your SON raped your NIECE!?” He bellowed, picking up the small wooden table and hurling it into the wall, ignoring the pieces that bounced back at him.

Bradshaw's eyes widened to the size of saucers, having been down there along with Edge.

“WHAT?” Edge immediately ran up the stairs, taking two at a time, knowing he had to let his brother know. July had been raped by Shane?!

“No he didn't!!” Stephanie shrieked out, holding onto her mother for dear life, the dry blood on her bottom lip from where he'd slapped her. “She tells stories! She's a liar! That's all she's ever been!!”

Farooq cringed when he seen how pissed off ‘Taker was and looked over at Bradshaw, both of them in shock by what they just heard.

Linda was now white as a sheet. “He did what?” She whispered, staring at ‘Taker desperately. She could see the truth in his face, shaking her head, trying to deny it. Her mother's heart was breaking, a keening wail coming out of her chest. “No, no, no...” She sobbed.

When Stephanie began shouting all over again, he jerked her to her feet by her hair, slamming her face first into the wall just like he had done her old man. Only she passed out on the first impact.

“‘Taker, did she tell you that?” Bradshaw asked, seeing all the color drain from Linda's face, knowing the woman had no idea.

“That sick bastard.” Farooq grunted, crossing his arms in front of his chest, not even helping Stephanie up to her feet. He didn't care if she bled to death with all the shit she'd been spewing about July since being here.

‘Taker stared down at the unconscious Stephanie, breathing heavily. He might have actually tried to kill her if not for Linda pleading for her daughter's life. He nodded, granting that one request. “Keep her quiet, Linda.” He cautioned, cracking his knuckles. “Now...about Shane, I want to know where he lives, his favorite places to go. EVERYTHING.”


“Christian, we gotta talk.” Edge sighed as he walked into his brother's room, tears in his blue eyes. “Dude, ‘Taker just came downstairs and told us something...well actually he bellowed it at Linda and Stephanie...” When Christian asked him what it was, Edge swallowed hard and closed his eyes. “July told ‘Taker that Shane...raped her.” He whispered those last two words out, the pain for the poor woman flowing through his veins.

Christian stared at his brother, his mouth wide open like a fish. Finally he stood up, raking both hands through his long blonde hair. “She in 'Taker's room?” He asked softly. When Edge nodded, he walked out of the room. He knocked once on the door before stepping in, seeing July curled into a ball on the bed and hurried over to take her in his arms, knowing she was probably shattered right about now.

July jumped out of her skin when she felt someone pull her into his arms, looking up to see Christian. The heart break and sympathy in his eyes caused her heart to explode with pain as she wrapped her arms around his neck, clinging to him for dear life, needing someone to hold her at the moment. She knew she was weak and pathetic, but she couldn't help it. No words spoke as her sobs filled the room, sitting sideways on his lap, the tears scorching her cheeks and soaking his neck since her face was buried in it. She knew ‘Taker must've told him and could only cry harder.

Chapter 13

Edge watched from the doorway, his blue eyes narrowed to slits. He seen Paul coming his way and shook his head, walking past him, sighing when the fat man stopped him. “July told ‘Taker Shane raped her.” He stated angrily, causing Paul's beady eyes to widen before heading back down to the basement. He was going to make sure he got the scraps after ‘Taker was done with Shane, if there was anything left afterwards.

Bradshaw stopped Edge when the smaller man tried going into the cell, pulling him over to the mirror. “He has Linda spilling everything about her son.” He murmured, still a bit green around the gills. “What the hell is WRONG with Shane?” He blurted out, unable to stop himself. “How the hell do you...rape someone let alone your own fucking cousin?”

“He's dead. I swear to god and all that's holy if ‘Taker doesn't do something about it, I AM!” Edge was livid and actually picked a chair up, hurling against the wall, finding it hard to breathe as he slid down the wall, his knees drawn up. “Christian is with her now. She was crying so hard...Shane is dead.” He repeated it again, his fists clenched tightly, his knuckles turning ghostly white.

“I have no idea, man. That's sick...” Farooq shook his head, feeling sick himself, hearing what Linda was telling ‘Taker, making a mental note of it all. Shane would never touch another living soul again when the Ministry was through with him.

They would have to beat 'Taker to it. He emerged from the room, moving to stand in front of the mirror, watching as Linda sobbed over a lifeless Stephanie, no regret at all on his face, his eyes remorseless as he surveyed the damage done to Stephanie when Linda rolled her over. He seen the young woman's broken nose, the blood dried and staining the lower half of her face, her entire face a giant bruise. That was NOTHING compared to what he was going to do to Shane when he got his hands on him.

“I hope you boys were taking notes.” He said finally. “Because we're not resting until Shane McMahon is DEAD.”

“We were boss.” Edge stated, a sadistic tone to his voice, wanting to rip that bastard apart for touching July.

Bradshaw was still in disbelief as Mideon and Paul joined them, Paul looking as white as a ghost.

“I told him.”

Farooq nodded, knowing the entire Ministry was going to find out eventually due to how pissed off their master currently was. He glanced at Paul, seeing the fat man looking like he was about to cry. Now THAT was a sight for sore eyes!


All he could was rock her back and forth, tears silently streaming down his own face. How could anyone hurt her? How could Shane...he couldn't even think what had happened to her, feeling himself becoming physically sick just from a mere thought.

July looked up at Christian, seeing the tears streaming down his cheeks, and sniffled as she wiped them away. “Why are you crying?” She asked softly, seeing the pain in his brown eyes, concern instantly filling her own. There was no way it could've been over her. Nobody had ever cried over her before as far as July knew.

“I'm crying because of what happened to you.” He whispered, not bothering to wipe them away. He sighed when her eyes widened. “I...I know what happened to you July.” He said softly, not about to lie to her. “I imagine the entire Ministry knows by now.” Christian grabbed her hand when she went to stand up, gently pulling her back down next to him. “We're on your side.” He told her quietly, keeping his tone even, knowing anger wouldn’t do either of them any good right now. “'Taker isn't going to let anything happen to you, and neither will I.”

July searched his eyes, knowing he was telling her the truth. She trusted the entire Ministry, especially Christian, and leaned her head against his shoulder wiping her tears away. She didn't think anyone would believe her, which is why she never mentioned it. That and Shane had threatened he would kill her if she ever told anyone about it. Sniffling and standing up, July assured Christian she wasn't going anywhere and walked over to her bags, pulling out the books, needing a distraction. She bore her heart and soul to ‘Taker, told him all he needed to know, now she wanted to forget about it, opening her Astrology book.

Christian sat on the bed Indian style, his hands folded in his lap. If he hadn't been so concerned for her, he might have been concerned for himself, considering he had made himself comfortable on the Undertaker's bed. “You alright?” He asked, not believing her even when she nodded, not understanding how she could just bury herself in a book like nothing had ever happened, like she hadn't admitted she'd suffered an atrocity almost beyond imagination. He just didn't understand.

“I've been living with it since I was fifteen, Christian.” She said softly, turning to face him, the tears slowly subsiding once more. “That's seven years. I've grieved, but I managed to shut it away in this little box and stored it deep in the recesses of my mind. Though it had to come out again because I didn't want Shane using it as leverage against me.” She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. “I've learned to live with what happened to me and all I can do is move forward.” Her voice was soothing as she stared down at her book again before gently closing it. “The only thing I ask is that this NEVER gets mentioned again, alright?” She was serious and grabbed his hand in her own. “Please. I cope with it in my own way. Do this for me?”

Dumbly, all he could do was nod, squeezing her hand. “If that's your wish.” He whispered finally when he had regained the used of his tongue. Honestly, Christian couldn't understand why she wasn't stark raving mad, considering all that she had been through in her relatively short life.

“Leave us.”

Knowing that tone all too well, Christian FLEW from the room. That had been the tone of voice he had heard right before 'Taker had almost killed him.

Keeping her eyes focused on her book, July began flipping through the pages idly, as if on auto-pilot, sighing when ‘Taker took the book from her. She didn't want to talk about it anymore, she'd told him. What more did he want? She had her cry, her pain had gotten out. Maybe they didn't understand it, but if July didn't cope with this her own way, she wouldn't be here. Right after it happened, July had tried killing herself and the faint scars on her pale wrists proved that. Linda had found her and took her to the emergency room, without Vince knowing, paying them cash to treat her. There were so many things in July's past that happened that she just coped with things in her own way.

He didn't want to discuss what had happened to her, not really. He pulled July up, forcing her to look at him. “Will you hate me if I kill him?” 'Taker demanded, his eyes telling her he was completely serious. At the bemused expression on her face, he sighed. “I'm going to kill McMahon.” He knew she knew which one too, the glimmer in her eyes told him so. “Will you hate me afterwards?”

“You can do whatever you want to them, ‘Taker. I won't hate you for any of it.” She replied softly, meaning every word that came out of her mouth. She hated Shane, always would, and if he died good riddance. He could burn in hell for all eternity and July wouldn't shed a tear for his existence. It would probably be the biggest relief off of her shoulders to know Shane no longer walked the earth, raping girls of his own accord. The thought brought a fresh batch of tears to her eyes as she blinked them back, lowering her head. “I lied to you, I am sorry.” She whispered, remembering when he asked her if she was untouched and unharmed. She began to tremble in his arms, knowing her uncle didn't know what happened either.

Now that threw him off track. 'Taker blinked, wondering where the hell that had come from, the sudden change. He gently tipped her head back, studying the tears. “What did you lie to me about, July?” He asked softly, confusion in his green eyes. He was grateful for the distraction, the anger had ebbed away and that was a good thing. His rage often made him do things he wound up regretting.

“When I first came to you...you asked me if I was untouched and unharmed...and I told you I was. It was a lie.” Her voice was a mere whisper as she slumped back on the bed, looking more defeated than ever, wishing she could stop crying, but it was too much. The memories of that night would plague her mind for several weeks to come until she could somehow put it back in that small box. In the meantime, she would keep to herself and hardly speak to anyone. As if in remembrance, July stared down at her wrists, the tears splashing on them, remembering how close she had come to ending her own life.

Following her gaze downward, 'Taker was shocked and appalled to see the faint scars on her wrists. Though as an afterthought he supposed he shouldn't be. Given her life, he should actually be surprised she was still living. Bending his head down, kissing the scars, grateful she was still here. “Nobody will ever hurt you again.” He vowed against her warm skin, kissing the scars one more time, staring up into her tear stained face. “You have my word, July.”

“I don't want to be alone anymore.” She whispered painfully and felt his arms wrap around her body, pulling her against him.

July wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him close to her, not believing after telling him all of that he still wanted something to do with her. Then again, she was his property so of course he wanted her. He could use her as bait, as anything he wanted really, but July didn't care. He treated her well, bought her what she needed, and gave her an actual bed to sleep in instead of a straw cot. She wasn't alone anymore and she knew it, knowing the Ministry would be there for her, especially ‘Taker.

“You aren't alone anymore, July, you have a family now, a real family. And we all will protect you.” He said, kissing the top of her head.

'Taker guided her over to the bed, gently pulling her into his lap as he sat down, holding her tightly against him. He couldn't remember the last time he had cared for someone the way he did her. In fact, he didn't think he had ever cared for someone like he did July. She just had this effect on him, there was an attraction on his part. He knew of course she wasn't ready for a relationship. The woman didn't even really know what life was like, she needed to live a little and she would. AFTER he dealt with her family.

“Thank you ‘Taker.” She murmured softly, resting her head against his shoulder, a smile creeping on her face.

So this was what having a family was all about? Love and affection. It felt nice, wonderful, different, and bunch of other things that July couldn't think of at the moment. She would never be able to repay ‘Taker for all he'd done for her, but she was willing to try, though she would have to learn how to live first. All her life it'd been all about obedience and hatred, so she knew a lot of her habits would have to be broken in order for her to begin the healing process. It was going to be a very LONG process indeed and July was ready for it.

“I think we should go downstairs and have some supper.” He murmured after a long while, knowing something was in the oven because he had smelled it on his walk up the stairs. Most likely Paul's doing, the man could cook and he made sure everyone had enough. Sometimes it amazed him how much Paul liked to play the father figure. “Then we can come back up here, you can take a nice hot bath and we'll get some more sleep. How does that sound?” He could still see circles under her eyes, determined for them to disappear.

As if on cue, her stomach began to growl, signaling she was hungry. “That's the answer I suppose.” She slid from his lap reluctantly, reaching over and kissing his cheek softly before hugging him again, her way of saying thank you again. She let him take her hand as he guided her out of his room, raking a hand a hand through her hair, wondering if the other Ministry members would look at her differently now. July had to take a deep breath, remembering the pain in Christian's eyes. She couldn't deal with seeing it in all of their eyes, though she would find a way.

It was a family affair he supposed, guiding her into the dining room where the rest of Ministry waited, all standing behind their chairs, the table set. He was pleased to see however, none of them were displaying pity or sadness or anger for what had happened to July, nodding his approval at their casual treatment of her, knowing they were trying to keep things comfortable. He pulled out a chair for July, waiting patiently for her to snap out of whatever thoughts were currently occupying her mind.

She shook her herself mentally and sat down, smiling when Christian took her hand since he was sitting beside her, nodding. “I'm okay.” She assured him in a whisper, feeling ‘Taker kiss the top of her head and leaned back against the chair. She would be alright and knew it as Paul came out, seeing how exhausted he looked. “Do you need help Paul?” She asked softly, sighing gently when he shook his head before looking back down at the table. Then she remembered Christian's words and suddenly lifted her head, she was the Ministry's Mistress now, right?

“As tiring as it is, Paul prefers to go for the whole 'chef' effect.” 'Taker commented with an amused smirk, though his eyes narrowed when seen Paul make a face. “Bradshaw?”

“On it. Paul sit down and let me finish, you keep babying us and we'll go all soft.” He teased, watching the older man drop into a chair. He shot 'Taker a concerned look over his shoulder as he disappeared into the kitchen.

Chapter 14

Dinner was served, spaghetti, something simple and July's favorite dish. Everyone ate in silence, each in their own thoughts, including July. What was going to happen now besides preparing for the death of her beloved cousin Shane? She bit back a snort, taking another bite of her food, not believing how incredibly hungry she was. Then again, the last time she ate was over a day ago. She was due and had to stop as she sipped down some milk.

Christian made sure to refill her glass whenever she wasn't looking, grinning when Edge snickered. He just shrugged, knowing some fresh milk would be one of the best things for July.

“Jackass.” Bradshaw snorted, shaking his head.

‘Taker watched amusedly as Christian calmly arranged a meatball on his fork and launched it directly at Bradshaw, hitting the Texan square in the face.

Christian was eating when Bradshaw looked up.

July's eyes were wide as saucers, having seen the whole thing, and knew not even she could save Christian from what was about to happen. At that moment, a meatball came sailing over the table and clocked Christian in the nose, causing sauce to splatter all over, including on her. July took the napkin and dabbed at her tank top, groaning inwardly, knowing she would have to change now and sighed resignedly before taking another bite.

He arched an eyebrow as Christian calmly dabbed his nose with his napkin before picking up his plate.

“You wouldn't...”

Paul was already retreating from the table.

Viscera and Mideon were both looking amused as Edge sighed, watching as Christian ever so calmly tossed his entire plate of spaghetti into Bradshaw’s face.

“Food fight.”

July squealed as she jumped up from the table, ducking as the spaghetti began flying all over the place, having had her fill. She was NOT amused when she was pied in the face by Edge and immediately jumped on his back before planting his own plate right in his face, giggling. She ducked when Edge tossed a big handful of noodles and ended up clocking ‘Taker in the face, causing everyone to stop abruptly. She was by now covered from head to toe in spaghetti.

He blinked, a spaghetti noodle covered in sauce sliding down from his forehead, past his eyes and landed on his nose, dangling there. His green eyes narrowed slightly before he shook his head, sending the noodle flying.

“‘Taker...” Edge began nervously.

Christian choked on the meatball he'd been chewing when ‘Taker actually threw his own plate of food at Edge, covering his brother in noodles. He tried not to laugh at the shocked expression on Edge's face, knowing that hadn't been the reaction anyone was expecting.

The food fight commenced as July managed to escape, heading up the stairs as the noodles dropped everywhere, knowing that would be a hell of a mess to clean up later on. Two showers in one day, who would've thought? She walked into ‘Taker's bedroom, hearing footsteps behind her, and peeled her tank top off before dropping it on a nearby towel.

“How the hell am I going to get this out of my hair?” She wondered aloud, her back to the door, clad in a black bra with her pajama pants, shaking her head and laughed when noodles began falling out of it.

“Enough, ENOUGH!” ‘Taker roared, literally running up the stairs as his Ministry took advantage of his apparent lapse in judgment, pelting him with spaghetti and meatballs. Growling, he walked into his room, halting when he seen July. He cleared his throat, shaking noodles from his hair, knowing he'd have to remind them later that he was STILL the Undertaker, not some high school child.

She laughed when he kept getting pelted until he slammed his bedroom door shut, shaking her head, and walked over to pull the noodles out of his long black hair. That was the most fun she'd had in a long time...actually that WAS the most fun she'd ever had in her life. July was all smiles and shook her head.

“Look at you.” She was giggling uncontrollably while still pulling noodles out of his hair. “They did quite a number on you.”

“I'll get them back.” He said, beginning to pull noodles from her hair as well, already envisioning his revenge. A smirk on his face, he took July's hand and guided her into the bathroom, turning on the shower. “This is the only way we're going to get clean.” ‘Taker sighed, pulling off his shirt, muscles flexing as he tugged it over his head, groaning when noodles fell around him.

July smiled back at him, giggling when she seen the annoyed look on his face, shaking her head. “Come in here and get cleaned off.” She was already under the sprays, the noodles falling out of her hair, scooting over when ‘Taker joined her. She knew she was probably ruining her pajama pants, but...she discarded them, leaving her clad in a matching pair of black panties that went with her bra. “Is it always like that with dinner?” She asked softly, shaking her head a little to get the noodles out before washing her hair. The spray was big enough and wide to where ‘Taker could do his hair as well, though the noodles from his were falling on her.

“No.” He said flatly, rubbing spaghetti sauce out of his hair along with the damn pasta. Long hair was not a hiding ground for spaghetti damn it. His eyes automatically raked her body, though he managed to keep his body from reacting, knowing the black slacks he wore wouldn't hide a damn thing. That and he honestly didn't believe she was ready for THAT step just yet.

July giggled at how disgruntled he was and turned around, letting him have the sprays momentarily while she poured shampoo in her hair, rinsing it out along with the sauce and more noodles. She knew she'd be running a comb through it to make sure they were all out before getting out of this shower, hoping there was enough hot water. It took nearly an hour for both of them to get the noodles and food out of their hair before stepping out, July wrapping in a black towel to dry herself off before doing her hair. She knew she'd have to change her garments and walked into the bedroom to retrieve some along with a pale blue nightgown Paul had picked up for her. They swapped places so she could change and came out a few minutes later, brushing her long black hair out, and seeing ‘Taker was still towel drying his hair.

He peered at her from an upside down vantage point, raising his eyebrows and sighed when she continued giggling at him. “July, I would really hate to have to tickle you.” ‘Taker said seriously, flipping his hair back over his shoulders as he straightened.

“Hey, 'Taker...um...” Christian called from outside the door. “Quit it, Rooq, I'm asking! Um...me and the guys -Shaw, stop it- want to know if um, you're, well. Are you mad at us?”


She couldn't stop giggling and hearing Christian just sent her over the edge as she collapsed on the bed, laughter echoing around the room. “‘Taker, no!!” She squealed out when he pounced on her, beginning to tickle her, knowing he meant it when he said he would if she didn't stop. She squirmed away from, laughing even harder, not able to get the vision of him with spaghetti in his hair out of her mind. That was definitely a camera moment and July wished she'd had one to snap a picture.

Christian stood outside the door with the rest of the Ministry, all of them getting as close to the door as possible, listening to July laughing, wondering just what the hell was going on in there. “Is he sick?”


“Food poisoning.”

“Brain damage?”

“You fools better knock it off before the boss comes out here and maims us all.” Viscera stated, walking up, having just gotten out of the shower from the spaghetti war. “Paul is downstairs cleaning up the mess...”

“Shit, we'd better go help him.” Edge felt bad, especially since the man hadn't even been involved or started it. “I think Christian should do the honors.” He smirked when his brother gaped at him and slapped him hard on the shoulder. “Have fun with that bro.”

July was too busy laughing to overhear them as ‘Taker kept tickling her, feeling her sides start to ache and it was the most wonderful feeling in the world.

Grumbling to himself, Christian headed downstairs, sighing when he seen the mess. “Paul, I'll take it from here.” He said, gently pushing the older man away, knowing ‘Taker would kill someone if he found out Paul was doing this.

When July began turning red, he finally stopped, waiting patiently while she calmed down then started the process all over again, July's laughter sweet music to his ears.

“I-I can't breathe!!” She rasped out through another fit of giggles. “‘Taker, I give up!!” A huge breath of relief escaped her when he finally stopped, but she couldn't stop laughing. Her sides hurt along with her stomach as she curled up on the bed, black hair splayed around her while ‘Taker hovered over her. She finally calmed down and sat up before wrapping her arms around his neck, giggling when she pulled a spaghetti noodle out of his hair. “I think you need another shower...”

Groaning, he stared at the noodle, automatically raking his hands through his hair to check for more. Someone was going to have to suffer. He wasn't a vain man except for the hair, it was his HAIR damn it. “Still hungry?” He teased, taking it and dangling it in front of her face, smirking when she shook her head no.

“No, I'm stuffed.” She smiled at him, taking the noodle and tossing it in the nearby trashcan. “Go shower. I'm going downstairs to help clean up the mess.” She kissed his cheek before bouncing off the bed and walked out, running a hand through her hair. Pleased to find she didn't have any more food or noodles in it. July sighed when she seen Christian downstairs with nobody else helping him and immediately began the cleaning process. The place was COVERED.

Groaning, he did, turning the water to cold before stepping in. ‘Taker had to keep reminding himself July could basically have the mindset of a child considering she hadn't had any life experiences at all. She wasn't ready for the one he was currently thinking about offering.

“You don't have to help; in fact, I think ‘Taker would prefer you didn't.” Christian said, glancing over at her. He had removed his shirt to avoid staining it, his long blond hair pulled back, though there was spaghetti sauce all over him regardless.

“I don't mind helping. We all made this mess, Christian. I don't feel right if I don't help you.” She softly replied, ignoring his knowing eyes and continued cleaning up the place. There was no way she was letting him clean this up by himself. Even though he started it, they all contributed. Though she knew ‘Taker wouldn't help because he was currently trying to get the spaghetti out of his hair. Soft giggles erupted from her as she shook her head, swiping the spaghetti off of the table and into the trashcan.

“What're you giggling about?” He asked, always astonished whenever July laughed, smiled, anything.

He still was haunted by the first time he had met her, seeing the pain and despair in her eyes. Christian had to shake his head to clear that image away, focusing on her happy face. He smiled to himself, climbing onto the table to start wiping down the ceiling with a damp cloth, wondering just how in the blue hell had spaghetti gotten up there.

“‘Taker.” July knew she was probably freaking everyone out because of her happiness, but she couldn't help it.

After everything that happened to her, she was finally with a family who actually wanted her there and she didn't feel like a burden. ‘Taker had been so sweet to her along with the other Ministry members. July felt comfortable and safe as she stared up at the ceiling, raising a slow eyebrow. She wasn't that surprised considering how tall most of the men were.

Christian halted in the middle of peeling a cluster of noodles off the ceiling, staring down at her in surprise. He grimaced when said cluster dropped right onto his head. Sighing, he picked it out of his hair and dropped them into the open trash bag, turning his gaze back onto her. “The Undertaker?” He echoed finally, wondering if they could possibly be talking about the same guy. Then it dawned on him, his mouth dropping into a perfect O of surprise.

“Yeah, he took a shower and still had spaghetti noodles in his hair afterwards. He's currently taking a second one.” She informed, causing Christian to start laughing as they both pictured it. July shook her head, being careful not to get anything on her pale blue nightgown, not wanting to ruin it. “He said he's going to get you all back too.” She smirked, blue eyes flashing wickedly when Christian gulped nervously before swiping more spaghetti into the trash.

“Uh, he didn't say how exactly, did he?” He asked nervously, hopping down from the table. Christian groaned when he slipped in another mess, landing face first on the carpet, face inches from the sauce and meatballs, glad he hadn't landed in them. They looked like they'd been chewed then spewed out. “That is just gross.” He muttered.

July shook her head and finished cleaning up the mess. With her and Christian, it took two hours, every noodle and bit of sauce cleaned up. July walked out after sending Christian to take a shower, walking into the kitchen, and sighed at the mess. Cracking her neck, she got to work, knowing Paul had done enough for one night and needed to rest.

Paul appeared in the kitchen behind her, having eaten his dinner upstairs after Christian had sent him off, considering supper had been a fiasco. He watched July start running water for dishes, seeing her hesitate over a box of powered detergent and liquid. He arched an eyebrow, realizing she had basically been locked away her entire life. Simple things he took for granted and was more than used too, she really had no clue.

“Liquid.” He said, trying not to smile as she read the labels.

“Thanks.” She felt like an idiot, pulling her hair back in a loose ponytail, shaking her head when he began lifting dishes. “You need to rest. You look exhausted. I...have to learn some time.” She smiled uneasily at him, wondering what the man thought of her, sighing heavily when he began helping her. There were so many things she didn't know how to do and it was frustrating. Though she would learn in time, everything came with time as she nodded, listening to what Paul told her before beginning to do it.

Honestly, if someone had told him only days ago that he would be explaining how to do something as simple as washing the dishes, he would have laughed them to hell and back. Seriously, Paul would have keeled over and died. But...that was until he met July. He knew 'Taker would destroy the McMahon family and wanted to watch, not believing people could be so cruel to a child as they had been to their niece.

It was a sense of accomplishment when July finished, having caught on really fast, and dried her hands off with a smile on her face. She didn't let Paul do them, but let him watch in case she made a mistake. It took her an hour, but it was done as she hung the towel on the oven rack to dry. “Thank you Paul.” She quietly said before walking out, looking around the house for the first time, admiring the dark beauty of it all.

Having decidedly taking a shine to July, Paul followed her, lagging into step with her. Despite his on-screen persona, he really was nothing more than a teddy bear. His slipper covered feet shuffled on the carpet, stopping to point out a painting. “Van Gogh.” He said, watching her examine it. “Wheat Field with Crows, 'Taker picked it out himself.” He shook his head as if hardly believing the man had taste this fine.

“Wow, what is this?” July was stunned as she stared at the next painting, seeing the swirls in it. It looked like a small town with swirls for a night sky and leaned forward, having been able to read since Linda had taught her. Though she never learned much about artists, just enough to where she wouldn't be a complete vegetable through life. “Starry Night.” It was possibly the most beautiful painting she'd ever seen in her life as July's eyes reluctantly pulled away to look over at Paul. “Will you show me more?” She asked softly, taking his hand as he guided her through the house. She knew this man was a well of knowledge and she could learn a lot from him, not to mention he was very comforting to be around.

Chapter 15

“Mmmhmm.” Paul guided her from room to room. He explained this was 'Taker's house and the Ministry usually stayed over as guests. Various items adorned certain rooms, sometimes the stuff he showed her wasn't exactly pleasant to look at, but it was all part of who the Undertaker was. Other things were absurdly normal, the man was a mystery, even to those who could claim to 'know' him. “You look tired.” He commented, leading her to the library, pushing open the doors and guiding her inside.

She wasn't tired anymore.

“Oh my god...” She whispered in disbelief, seeing the huge library they just walked inside, a smile spreading on her face. July loved to read, that's one of the things Linda had let her do. Vince had a huge library, but it was NOTHING compared to this. “There's so much I've missed out on.” She sounded saddened, knowing she probably came off as a child, but that wasn't her fault. Being locked up in an attic for her entire life up until now did that to a person. This wasn't her fault, like ‘Taker said, but July also wondered if she'd ever be like a normal woman. No, never.

Paul watched with a fatherly smile as July browsed the bookshelves, more than aware when 'Taker appeared behind him. He glanced over his shoulder to see his Phenom leaning in the doorway, a faint smile on his own usually stoic face, his green eyes on July. “She likes books.”

“I've noticed.”

“Edgar Allen Poe.” July pulled the book out and began flipping through the pages, deciding she would definitely be taking this on the road with her, not noticing ‘Taker standing with Paul. She nodded and set it down before pulling out another book from that author, seeing it had a dark tint to it. She then began looking for more books on Astrology and Astronomy, completely consumed with wanting to know more. ‘Maybe I should read about things like cooking…’ She thought, nodding before going on the hunt. If she could learn and get the basic domesticated virtues down, it all would start piecing together for her.

Poe was another one of his favorites. 'The Pit and The Pendulum' was one of Poe's pieces he could read over and over. 'The Raven' was a classic. 'The Tell-Tale Heart', this woman was after his own heart. He arched an eyebrow when he seen she was obviously searching for something specific, not aware Paul had disappeared as he stepped further into the room. “May I help you find something?” He offered softly.

She jumped when she heard his voice sound behind her, having not heard her, and looked behind him to find Paul had left. “I was trying to find a book that would tell me how to do things. Like dishes and cooking...” She felt her pale cheeks turn a crimson red and had to look away from him, shame shining in her blue eyes. She was twenty-two, she should know how to do a simple thing like wash dishes, but she didn't and it frustrated her more than words could say.

It took a moment for that to register in his mind and then become processed, blinking before clearing his throat. “I don't believe I have any books on...dishes.” 'Taker said slowly, wondering what on earth she wanted to know about dishes for anyway. “Dishes as in patterns and styles or doing them?” He asked curiously, seeing the confusion in her eyes.

“I want to know how to do things.” She sighed gently, pulling out a book and nodded, seeing it was what she needed. “Paul had to show me how to do dishes earlier. How pathetic is that?” She snorted, that anger flooding her body for a brief moment, hoping ‘Taker kept his word and destroyed the McMahon family. She wasn't apart of them and shook her head, wishing she could change her last name. She hated being associated with them as she held the book open to him. “Cooking is my main concern. We can't have Paul doing it all the time.” She felt terrible for the older man who had treated her like gold.

He had to digest all this again, his eyebrows drawing together in confusion. Sitting down in a high backed chair, 'Taker watched her bemusedly, resting his chin in the palm of his head as he studied her. His wet hair was brushed back away from his face, in a pair of black pajama bottoms, a long unbuttoned over shirt covering his arms. “Paul refuses to let anyone else cook.” He said finally, shaking his head. “You'd have to ask him to let you, July.”

“I don't mean just for here, ‘Taker.” She said in a softer voice, walking over with the book in hand and sat down. “I just want to know how to do it for my own benefit.” She knew he didn't understand and set the book on the table along with the Edgar Allen Poe. “Linda taught me the basics, math, spelling, reading, things that I would need to know. But there is so much that I DON'T know.” She was trying to get him to understand and tucked a strand of loose hair behind her ear, staring down at the floor.

Comprehension slowly dawned on his face, realizing everything he took for granted and did without a second thought she probably had no clue how to do. “You were looking for a book on DOING dishes?” Was all he could say, mentally sighing when she nodded and blushed even more, knowing he'd just made her feel like a moron. “Sorry, that came out wrong.”

“It’s fine.” She whispered before standing up again, pulling books out regarding another to do with domestication. July wanted to know for her own peace of mind, knowing she was a mere child in other's eyes. She wasn't a child damn it! She was a full grown woman, capable of doing things for herself. She was tired of feeling helpless, deciding until she learned everything she needed to know she was spending her remaining days in this library until they left for the road again.

“July, the best way to learn new things is to get out and experience them.” He said slowly, wondering if she truly thought she could learn from a book. Of course right now wasn't the best time for her going out and experiencing anything, not until he had dealt with her incestuous cousin and crushed his skull into nothing, but a bloody pulp.

He was right and she knew it. “You have a beautiful house, ‘Taker.” She walked over and smiled when he pulled her to sit on his lap, wrapping his arms around her. She ran her fingers through his hair and bit her bottom lip when she didn't feel anymore noodles. Apparently he'd gotten it all this time around, though the memory of Undertaker will a head full of noodles would forever live in her mind.

Growling softly, he pulled her hands from her hair, reading her face and sighed. “Not amusing. And thank you. I gathered Paul was showing you around?” He asked, smiling when she nodded. If he didn't watch it, smiling was going to become one of his usual facial expressions and that simply would not do.

July seen the flash in his green eyes and knew he didn't smile often. Hell neither did she. “I feel safe with you and...happy, ‘Taker.” She admitted quietly, looking down at her lap, letting out the deep breath she'd inhaled. “I can't explain it. Christian was looking at me earlier when I was helping him clean the mess up like I was from another planet. I can't help, but laugh and smile when I'm around you or the others. Is that wrong?” July didn't look up as her head leaned against his shoulder, looking around the library. It was moments with ‘Taker like this she cherished most, when they were alone.

“No, it's just unusual I suppose.” He replied, one arm wrapped around her slender frame, the other hand running through her long black hair, loving the feel of her silky locks between his fingers. “There isn't much of...laughing or smiling here. You bring joy to the entire Ministry, July. You do know that, don't you?”

“I don't know how that's possible.” She murmured quietly, closing her eyes as he ran his fingers through her hair. He knew what to do to comfort her and snuggled further against him, sighing in contentment. “You mean to tell me it's not usually like this with the food fights and everything?” When he shook his head solemnly, July blinked and bit her bottom lip. She was turning this group upside down and knew it, wondering if that was a good or bad thing. She hoped it was good because she genuinely enjoyed being with the Ministry and, most importantly, ‘Taker.

Food fights...Speaking of which...‘Taker's green eyes grew wicked, his lips curving into a sinister smile. “July, have you ever played a practical joke on anyone?” He knew that was probably a negative, but felt inclined to ask anyway. It was a matter of common courtesy.

Just by the look in his wicked green eyes, July knew the Ministry was toast and he was going to ask her to help him perform this practical joke. “No, never.” She felt his hands grip her waist, setting her on her feet, and looked up at him. To most, the look in his eyes would've terrified the devil, but to July she found it amusing, wondering what he had in mind. “This is your payback isn't it?”

“Yes, and it'll be pain free for them, how kind of me.” He said, sounding amused again. “It's nothing drastic. But there's some hot pink clothing dye that was left here by the previous occupants of the house. Instead of dying clothing, I think it'd go well for hair, what do you think?” ‘Taker glanced down at her, waiting for an opinion.

July blinked several times up at this huge man who intimidated almost everyone he crossed, swallowing hard. “Y-You want to dye their hair pink?” When he nodded, a slow sinister smile spread across her face and she started giggling. “Everyone except Paul.” That was the only stipulation considering the man had no part of the food fight.

“Of course not Paul.” He agreed, guiding her from the library. “Would you go get him for me?” ‘Taker asked politely, pointing to a doorway just beyond the stairs on the ground floor as Paul couldn't handle stairs so well. “I'm sure he'd like to get in on this.”

She smiled and nodded before walking down the hallway toward Paul's room, softly knocking on the door and heard him call for whoever it was to come in. “‘Taker would like to see you.” She said upon entry, causing the man to stand up from his chair, seeing how exhausted he was. She smiled reassuringly at him, knowing this would be worth it, and seen ‘Taker walk down the stairs a few minutes later.

‘Taker was shaking the bottle back and forth, reading the label. He smiled when he seen Paul, watching Paul's eyes trail to the bottle. “You think this is a good color?”

“Edge and Christian with long pink hair...I like it. You using it on everyone?”

“Everyone except us. I'm replacing shampoo tonight.”

July was giggling uncontrollably as she seen the gleam in ‘Taker's eyes, shaking her head, knowing the entire Ministry was about to have a rude wake up call. After she helped ‘Taker replace all the shampoo bottles in each of their rooms, July walked in his room with him and sat down on the bed. “You are evil.” She stated, seeing him smirk back at her, and felt her heart skip a beat. That was a weird feeling, but she hid it well as she scooted back up on the bed, watching him while he got around. “Does that stuff wash out?” She couldn't imagine picturing the entire Ministry going out on national television with pink hair. That vision flew through her mind, causing her to start cracking up.

“I would imagine it would fade after time.” ‘Taker replied, sounding unconcerned, glancing at her. “If they must, they can dye over it. Edge and Christian will be the pair that truly suffers, their hair is blonde.” He knew Viscera would probably shave his little Mohawk off while the rest dyed over. He began to actually grin, envisioning Farooq and Viscera with HOT PINK hair, finally beginning to laugh out loud.

July was laughing so hard, tears were streaming down her cheeks as she buried her face in a pillow, not wanting to wake the other Ministry members up. Christian with hot pink hair...she was dying, not believing ‘Taker actually thought up of something that crude to do to his Ministry. They were going to WISH ‘Taker had beat the snot out of them when they saw their hot pink hair the following day.

Just because he didn't trust his Ministry, he locked his bedroom door that night. Granted, they were usually terrified of him, which was the way he liked it, but this might actually cause them to momentarily sprout some balls. Couldn't have that. Chuckling, he walked over to the bed, dropping down on it, his green eyes sparkling.

She finally calmed down and snuggled against the pillow, the night’s events having exhausted her. She felt alive though, something she'd never experienced before, and just stared at ‘Taker. His black hair, green eyes, arms covered from wrist to shoulder in tattoos, his black beard, everything about him July was entranced by. He was so gentle with her and wanted to protect her, it was almost too good to be true. In a weird way, he had saved her, even though it was Vince who had brought her to him. Funny how things turned out sometimes.

Even with his eyes now closed, he could literally feel her staring at him. “Like what you see?” He asked, folding his hands beneath his head, popping one eye open to look at her, amused when she blushed. “Or do you find me ugly as some women do?” He was more than aware some women thought he looked like Satan while others...well...He just focused on July.

How any woman in their right mind could think this man was ugly was beyond July as she smiled back at him, midnight blue eyes sparkling. “Yes I do.” She answered softly, slowly sitting up, her eyes focusing on his tattoos and ran her fingertips over them, absolutely fascinated. This man was positively gorgeous, but it wasn't just about looks. It was about what was inside as well and he protected her, wanted to keep her safe.

“Do what, be more specific.” ‘Taker rolled onto his side, propping his head on his elbow, staring at her. He kept the amusement out of his eyes and tone, not wanting her to think he was picking on her, which he was, sort of. Though he was really curious what July thought of him, for some reason, her opinion of him mattered. “You do like what you see or you do think I'm ugly.” He looked down, watching her finger his tattoos, squashing an inappropriate thought.

“I do like what I see, ‘Taker.” She answered without hesitation, slowly moving her eyes away from his arm to stare back in those green depths. She felt her heart skip another beat at how intense the color was before slowly pulling away, snuggling down against him, her head resting on his arm, knowing she would no longer need her own bed. She loved sleeping and waking up in his arms. She just hoped he felt the same way. “I'm not even going to ask you what you think of me.” She swallowed hard, exhaling slowly, not wanting to know the answer.

‘Taker pulled July up onto him so she was laying out on his chest, gently tipping her head up so he could stare into her beautiful blue eyes, getting lost in them for a moment before offering her one of his half smiles. “I find you extremely beautiful, July.” He told her softly. “Both inside and out.” He raised his head off the pillow, leaning forward to kiss her forehead. “Sleep, little one, tomorrow is going to be...interesting.”

He found her beautiful? How was that possible? She wasn't beautiful, she was a scrawny thing that didn't know virtually anything about the world. Still, hearing that come from his mouth brought a smile to her face, a bigger one, and she nodded at his gentle command. “Sweet dreams ‘Taker.” She murmured softly, snuggling against his chest, his heartbeat lulling her to sleep instantly. She never wanted to leave him and could only hope her dreams were filled of him and nobody else, including Shane.

He wrapped both arms around her after drawing the blankets around them, inhaling deeply before drifting off, knowing they were in for a hectic morning.

Chapter 16

Christian was the first to shower, in and out, a towel around his head as he padded down to the kitchen.

“Morning.” Paul greeted, already making breakfast, sipping a cup of coffee. He could hear showers running in different rooms, knowing the entire Ministry was waking up and could only wait for it. “Nice...towel.”




July eyes snapped open as she bolted upright, hearing the Ministry bellowing at the top of their lungs, and covered her mouth with her hand, blue eyes wide. She looked back at ‘Taker, who was turning red from trying hard not to laugh. July bit her bottom lip hard and stretched her arms up in the air, sighing when her back cracked.

He could hear Paul shrieking with laughter downstairs, followed by the sounds of many feet pounding on the stairs. It didn't surprise 'Taker when fists began rapping at his door.

“Come out and take your ass beating!” Farooq roared. A black man with hot pink hair was NOT acceptable. He slapped Christian when the man began to giggle at him. “Quiet, Pinkie!”

He was roaring with laughter now.

July was laughing right along with him, burying her face in his chest, hearing the pounding on his door and knew ‘Taker was in trouble with the Ministry. This was so worth it though as she clutched her stomach, the tears streaming down her cheeks again.

“What the hell were you THINKING using hot pink?!” Edge wailed, pounding on the door along with the Acolytes just as Mideon came storming down the hallway.



July lost it all over again at the vision of seeing the Ministry of Darkness coming to the ring, all with hot pink hair except ‘Taker, herself and Paul.

Paul was sitting at the dining room table, his face buried in his hands, laughing his ass off, tears streaming down his red face.

“'Taker, is it permanent?! We can't go to the ring like this man!”

“Your hair now matches the new bunny suits you all will be wearing.” He called through the door, his tone completely serious, smirking at July when silence fell outside the door.

“He for real?”



“Bunny suits?!”

July had to run to the bathroom to keep from pissing herself, laughing so hard, she knew the Ministry could hear her through the walls. Bunny suits with hot pink hair on the Ministry of Darkness? It was too much as July finished and curled up in a fetal position on the bathroom floor, holding her stomach, barely able to breath she was laughing so hard.

When the pounding resumed on his door, he sighed, rolling out of bed and cracking his neck. Green eyes narrowed dangerously when the door actually cracked.

Farooq was about to hit the door again only to find his fist being held, then shoved back into his own face, groaning and stumbled away, holding his now blackening eye.

His acid green eyes flew over the rest of the Ministry, feeling satisfaction when they all instantly shut up, their faces going pale. “You ALL look RIDICULOUS.” He said contemptuously before slamming the door shut in their faces.

Edge grumbled as he walked away with Christian, both of them wondering how in the HELL they were going to get this pink shit out of their hair.

Viscera sighed and went back to his room, suddenly not hungry anymore, and shaved his head bald, knowing it would grow back.

“You gonna shave your head bald, man?” Bradshaw asked his partner only to get decked in the face, both of them now sporting black eyes.

July finally managed to pull herself up from the bathroom floor and walked into the bedroom, seeing ‘Taker laying down and crawled in to join him. “That was beautiful.” She giggled softly and felt him kiss the top of her head, closing her eyes. The boys had woken her up before she was ready to be and yawned, all that laughing exhausting her again.

Christian sighed, raking his fingers through his pink hair. If he hadn't been blonde, this wouldn't be such a problem. As it was...He wondered if bleach would help.

“Indeed it was.” 'Taker sighed contentedly, more than awake, in the mood for some action. Or maybe some breakfast, providing he could get downstairs without having to worry about one of his Ministry trying to murder him from behind. “You hungry?”

She wasn't getting anymore sleep and nodded, slowly sliding out of bed and walked over to her bags. Tapping her chin in thought, July decided on a pair of black cargo pants that had pockets on the sides along with a dark blue tank top, pulling her hair up in a messy bun. She slipped on a pair of black socks, not wanting her feet to get cold, seeing ‘Taker had walked into the bathroom to change. Not only was he kind and sweet, but also a gentleman.

He came out in black slacks and a white long sleeved shirt, which he left unbuttoned, not to fond of materials constricting against his chest to begin with. His black hair hung loosely down his back and he'd also skipped shoes and socks, completely comfortable this way. “Come on.” He murmured after staring at her for longer than was polite, leading the way out of the bedroom.

After a very tense breakfast with a hot pink haired Ministry and a gloating ‘Taker, July decided to head to the library. Paul had told her he would take care of the cleanup, declining her offer to help him. She knew ‘Taker had more important business to take care and decided she would spend her day exploring in books. She curled up against the chair and pulled the cooking book in her lap, beginning to look through it.

Mideon was grouchy today, standing before 'Taker's desk while his boss read through a few faxes. “Anything?” He muttered through gritted teeth.

“Shane has gone into hiding, smart move on his part, but it doesn't change anything, just delays it.” 'Taker said sounding bored, not glancing up at his pissed off minion. “Mideon, if the hair is such a problem, go dye it or something, don't stand there and pout.”

Edge and Christian were busy dying their hair with bleach, praying it came out.

Bradshaw sighed as he was doing the same thing, knowing Mideon was next after him and Farooq. There was no way they could ever look at their boss the same way again.

July stood up after countless hours of reading, rubbing her eyes before placing the fifth book on the stack. So cooking was basically following directions. She'd done that all of her life, it couldn't be that hard. Snorting, July decided to read a little Edgar Allen Poe, turning to 'The Raven', one of her favorites and began to read. It was a good thing she had this library to occupy herself otherwise she'd probably go insane.

When he finally came out of his study, the day was almost gone. He was amused to find his Ministry almost back to looking normal, except the blondes. Now they sported an interesting shade of orange pink hair. “Bleach?” He guessed.

They both nodded glumly.

“Try peroxide.”

“I told you!!” Edge growled, hoping his hair didn't fall out from all the experimenting they'd done, shoving his brother only for Christian to shove him back. Edge was angry and decided a fight was in order as he punched his brother in the mouth.

Bradshaw didn't do a damn thing as he walked downstairs, stepping over the two brothers who were rolling on the floor, snorting, his black hair back to normal.

Mideon's hair was back to normal as well, thanks to some hair dye he found in the basement, walking into the living room to watch some television.

He watched as the two exchanged blows, sharing an amused glance with Paul.

“Where's July?”

“Library I would imagine, why?”

“She has a cooking lesson.” Paul headed for the library.

July looked up when the library doors opened and smiled as Paul came her way. She blinked when he grabbed her by the arm, dropping the book on the floor, and guided her down the hallway. “Paul, what's going on?” She blinked, stopping when she seen Edge and Christian fighting. She was guided past them and right into the kitchen, looking over at Paul with a slow raised eyebrow, paling when he said she was going to cook dinner. “I-What?”

“You're going to cook.” He repeated. “Or...rather, help me cook. The best way to learn something new is by doing it, right? So what better way than with me?” Paul smiled gently at her, gesturing around the kitchen. “You're a fast learner I'm sure, this won't be hard.”

Christian froze when he heard July was going to cook, exchanging looks with his brother. “I think we should order pizza.” He whispered. He loved her, but didn’t feel like getting food poisoning.

Edge nodded in agreement.

July wrapped a black apron around her, blinking when she seen Paul was wearing one with a chef on it, and couldn't stop smiling. She went through the motions with him, learning what measuring utensils were and whatnot, absorbing all the information. She was a very smart woman and began the process with the flour. They were making a homemade lasagna with garlic bread. July began pouring the contents together in a bowl, mixing them with the cheese, raising an eyebrow when Paul told her to stick her hands in it to mush it up. So she did, the feeling squishy between her fingers.

“Something smells good.” ‘Taker rumbled awhile later from the kitchen door.

Paul rolled his eyes as if to say 'duh'. “Of course it does, now out.” He threateningly raised a metal spoon.

“Anyone, but you Paul...” His eyes were on July, watching her, her tongue flicking out to wet her lips.


July giggled softly, some flour on her cheek as she finished the final layer of the second pan of lasagna, deciding to make two. There were a lot of grown men here to feed, she was tempted to make three, but Paul assured it would be enough. “Okay, that's done.” She announced, seeing ‘Taker hadn't left, and walked over to wash her hands in the sink, wiping her forehead with her forearm like Paul had shown her.

Paul studied the lasagna critically, deciding for her first time she definitely hadn't done bad. With practice she was going to be an excellent chef. His mind wandered for a moment, wondering just what the Undertaker's intentions with the girl was. He was certain the Phenom hadn't touched her...yet. But with the look he had seen, he knew it was only a matter of time.

“Okay the garlic bread looks browned on top, but not burnt.” She looked up at Paul, seeing he was letting her make the decision, and put the glove on her hand before pulling it out of the oven. She smiled, seeing they were a golden brown and sizzling, sighing with relief when he nodded in approval. “Thank you Paul.” She hugged him tightly around the neck, seeing he was dismissing her, and took the apron off, hanging it up, before walking out. She groaned, seeing she was covered in flour and knew her cargo pants would have to be washed.

He sat in the bedroom, the lights off, in a chair in the corner of the room having a before dinner scotch. 'Taker had seen her in the kitchen cooking, completely happy and been happy for her. Then that little pink tongue of hers had appeared and...the thoughts he'd been restraining for a while now came back full blast. He looked up when the door opened, knowing July wouldn't see him unless she turned on the light, taking another sip of his drink, eyes brooding.

July seen he was sitting in the darkness and bit her bottom lip, being as quiet as she could as she pulled out a pair of maroon pajama pants with a matching top that was plain, going into the bathroom, not turning on the light until the door was closed. She pulled her tank top and pants off and stared in the mirror, shaking her head at the bit of flour on her cheek. She ran the water and washed her face, drying it off with a towel before slipping into her pajamas, having worked her ass off in the kitchen and wanted to be comfortable.

Gripping the glass tightly in his hand, he closed his eyes, listening to the soft muted sounds of clothing being shed. For her he had kept his inner darkness at bay, knowing she needed support and kindness, not the other things he was aching to give to her. Standing up, he drained the rest of the scotch and stormed out of the bedroom, pushing Edge out of his way. He would go vent on the McMahon women, terrorizing them again sounded like fun.

“‘Taker?” July called out softly as she turned the bathroom light off, walking out, swallowing hard when she seen he was nowhere to be found. Furrowing her eyebrows, July walked out of the room and seen the disturbed look on Edge's face. She didn't want to know and simply went back downstairs, her hair still up, wanting to go check on her progress in the kitchen with Paul.

Reluctantly, Mideon followed 'Taker down to the basement, watching through the pane as the Deadman went out of his way to break Stephanie and Linda, wincing when he seen Stephanie physically attack 'Taker. Not a smart move. Though he was shocked when 'Taker didn't strike her, feeling a tremor of fear when he just began laughing. Mideon felt goose bumps rising on his arms. He knew better than most how dangerous 'Taker's moods could be, especially when they abruptly shifted, not sure he wanted to know what was the cause for this one.

Something was different, wrong. July could sense it and she could see it in Paul's face while he bustled around the kitchen. The happiness was gone, the light in the house had diminished. “Paul, I'm not feeling well. I will eat later.” She told him, walking upstairs to the bedroom, her stomach twisting violently. There was no way she could eat right now. She arrived back in the room she'd been sharing with ‘Taker, closing the door softly behind her, and felt a chill in the air. ‘What is wrong with me?’ She thought, rubbing her arms up and down before walking over to lay on the bed. Closing her eyes, July was more confused than ever as the darkness overtook her body.

Paul glanced at Mideon when the man returned, his face ashen. “Well?”

“He...he's unconscious, on the cot.”

“How'd that happen?”

“I stopped him from snapping Stephanie's neck when she began insulting-” He pointed to the ceiling. “With a...um...a...”


“A tire iron I found...”

Chapter 17

For the next several days, July kept to herself and hid in the library, letting ‘Taker deal with whatever business he needed. She wasn't surprised to be sleeping in her own room, alone, though that's when the nightmares plagued her. She could feel Shane's hands on her and shook her head, pushing it firmly to the recesses of her mind, forcing it back in that little box. July didn't understand what happened, but honestly, she wasn't questioning it. ‘Taker was still kind to her, took care of her, but he hadn't spoken barely three words to her and she didn't understand it.

‘This is the way it is.’ She thought, standing up, wearing a blood red nightgown that was long sleeved and went down to her feet, walking over to slide the book back in the shelving.


“Go out, find yourself a whore who looks like her and work it out.” Paul suggested, watching as 'Taker downed his scotch, not surprised when those green eyes didn't look up from the map he was pouring over.

“I don't want a whore.” He snarled, crossing off several spots on the map, wondering just where that worm Shane was hiding. He'd sent out his entire Ministry, getting reports every few hours.

“Then you need to fix whatever is going through your mind before you wind up hurting somebody.”


She felt alone again. That's not what she wanted. Where had the warmth and happiness she felt gone? Tears flowed down her cheeks as July laid in bed in her room, in the darkness, thrashing back and forth. “No...” She clenched her fists tightly, sweat caking on her neck and forehead. It was so cold. His hands...his breath...she could literally feel her heart about to explode out of her chest. “Please don't...” She whimpered out pathetically, feeling the slap against her cheek, the flesh burning, and could only lay there while he stripped her of her clothing. Cold dark eyes stared back at her as July finally looked, seeing it was Shane, and felt him slide inside of her…


“NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” She shrieked out, bolting upright in bed, tears streaming down her face as her entire body shuddered from head to toe.

He had been watching her, standing at the foot of her bed, clad in black jeans and nothing else, his long black hair flowing down over his shoulders. Acid green eyes stared down at her, taking in the sweat that was beaded on her body. “Nightmare?” He rumbled, his voice a dark baritone. He wanted nothing more than to hold her and soothe away those fears, but knew better. He couldn't touch her. Not yet.

That voice, she couldn't place it, still feeling the after effects of the nightmare tear through her like a knife, cutting her, torturing her. She began trembling from head to toe and buried her face in her hands, the visions invading her mind of that fateful night. “‘Taker...” She whispered out painfully, slowly looking up when she felt the bed dip, staring back at him with sorrowful, saddened blue eyes. Her heart felt like it was going to explode out of her chest, her chest rising and falling rapidly as she wiped her tears away that just kept falling.

“I'm here.” 'Taker whispered, seeing the pain in those blue eyes, feeling murder blossoming all over again in his heart, vowing once more that he would personally make Shane pay for his assault on July. He leaned down, cupping her face gently with his hands and kissed away her tears, his tongue flicking out to catch the fresh ones that fell.

This was probably the wrong thing to do, but July didn't care. She threw her arms around his neck and began sobbing, clinging to him like her very life depended on it. “I want him gone, ‘Taker. I want him to go away.” She whispered out, slowly pulling away after she'd calmed down, staring deep into his acid eyes. “Make him go away, please.” Fresh tears rolled down her cheeks, the pleading in her eyes so intense it couldn't be ignored. “Make him go away...”

“I will.” He promised, burying his face in July's hair and inhaling, one hand moving to her back, pressing her into his massive body. Guiding her arms around his neck, 'Taker stared into her blue eyes, his lips nearly touching hers. “I'll make him go away.” He murmured before kissing her, kneeling back on his calves and dragging her up with him, still holding her against him. His other hand moving to the back of her neck, controlling the kiss, deepening it.

She straddled his lap and instantly returned his kiss, wrapping her arms around his neck, going on pure instinct. July had never kissed a man willingly before so this was something entirely new to her. She moaned softly against him, her fingers burying in his black tresses, the tears subsiding as some lingered on her pale cheeks, never wanting to let him go. She wanted him to make the pain go away, to make Shane's memory disappear forever, and knew he could do it.

He was going to burn in the deepest pits of Hell for this, but he would go willingly. When 'Taker felt July's legs go around his waist, he growled, nipping her lips gently before moving his head to her neck, sucking and kissing, nipping at areas he quickly discovered were sensitive. His deep rumbling chuckle echoing around them when he felt her shiver against him, knowing it was from desire.

She was trembling, but the fear wasn't there. It was something more exquisite, something she'd never felt before in her life. Her small hands gripped his arms, her head falling back, his lips on her neck sending a rush of heat through her body. She was being warmed up, the cold quickly diminishing that she'd felt for the past three days. She was hungry to learn and feel more, her back arching when his lips got to her chest, having pulled the blood red material down to where he could have access. July removed the rest of it from her arms, deep moans emanating from her mouth, gasping when he took one of her nipples in his mouth.

“‘Taker...” She breathed out, her eyes shut, the feeling too wonderful.


“‘Taker, we found him!” Mideon shouted from outside the door. “We found him!”

His head whipped up, anger on his face at being distracted, then glanced down at July, seeing she was more than ready for what he had been about to do to her, disgusted with himself for taking advantage of her the way he had. “Damn it!” He snarled, gently but firmly setting her aside, rolling out of the bed.

July blinked, the passion haze in her mind slowly diminishing, pulling her nightgown back up. She stood up when ‘Taker ripped the door open, seeing Mideon standing there, her eyes widened. Her lips were slightly swollen, eyes bloodshot from crying and her hair was no doubt tousled from both her nightmare and ‘Taker's fingers. She felt dizzy and had to sit down, raking a hand through her hair, and began trembling as her eyes closed. The memory overtook her, his touch, his lips, kisses, his promise to make Shane go away. All of it. Her body was lit on fire and she was no longer cold anymore.

“Where is he?” 'Taker demanded, his voice harsh with both passion and rage.

Mideon swallowed hesitantly. “Chicago, he's back on the circuit again. He must have found out you had disappeared and decided he was in the clear.”

“Inform the others that we leave in twenty minutes. No delays.” He glanced back at July. “And see that she is packed and ready to go as well. Send Christian in to assist her.”

Mideon watched as 'Taker walked off, glancing into the room and July before scurrying away.

Twenty minutes later, July was shoved in the back of the car, a black hoodie with black jeans on, her bag in the trunk. She looked back at the mansion and sighed to herself, going to miss it. She'd be back though and sat in the middle, ‘Taker to her right, Christian to her left. Paul was driving while Bradshaw took the front seat. The rest of the Ministry was following behind them as Paul pulled onto the highway, heading toward Chicago. The entire time, all July could think about was ‘Taker's lips on hers and how he'd lit her body on fire in a matter of minutes post to her nightmare.

Bradshaw was twisted around in the front seat, listening intently as 'Taker spoke, his eyes narrowed. He couldn't wait to get his hands on Shane, knowing his brothers felt the same way. All of them having taken a shine to July, she was like the Ministry's little sister now. “So you want Farooq and me to take out Hunter and Shamrock?”

“While Viscera deals with Test and Mideon will be busy distracting the rest. Edge and Christian will remain behind with Paul and July, I alone will deal with the McMahons.”

July could only listen as she stared out the window, putting the hood up over her head, closing her eyes. ‘He's getting off too easy.’ She thought, though she knew ‘Taker knew what was best and decided not to say anything, to voice what she was thinking. She just wanted to go back to the mansion and have another food fight, but knew that wasn't going to happen either. She closed her eyes and leaned against Christian's shoulder, closing her eyes, drowning out the conversation. Basically she was sticking like glue to Edge and Christian's side, not that hard to do.

Christian could only listen, feeling disturbed with the way 'Taker had said he would deal with them. He was aware Stephanie and Linda were still in that house, by themselves, with no hope of rescue unless something put the Undertaker in a merciful mood. Tapes of them were up front between Paul and Bradshaw. He knew mind games first, then punishment and unless he had misread his boss, someone would very likely die. He was hoping it would be Shane.

They arrived in Chicago seven hours later, having taken two flights. It was Monday night so July knew the Corporation would be lurking in the shadows. She was wearing black cargo Capri’s with a black and purple corset top, black army boots on her feet that laced up the sides. They were easy to run in incase she had to do so. Her hair was down with her eyes decked out in black eyeliner and clear gloss on her lips. ‘Taker guided her inside by the hand, knowing he was all business and didn't speak a word to him, knowing better.

His green eyes narrowed behind the black shades he wore when he seen Chyna disappearing into a room, knowing wherever she was, Hunter wasn't too far off. “Boys...watch out, looks like we were expected.” He said in a low voice.

Christian exchanged looks with Edge, both men moving behind Undertaker and July.

Paul glanced at July, then to 'Taker, feeling more than a little uneasy.

They were guided into the Ministry's locker room, only to be greeting by Shane McMahon and the Corporation. “‘Taker!” She shrieked when he was clocked in the head with a steel chair as the fight broke out. July's eyes widened when she seen Shane coming for her, knowing they indeed had been expected, and immediately booked it down the hallway. She arrived outside and whipped the keys out that ‘Taker had given her, just in case something like this had happened. She barely made it to the car when she was tackled from behind, causing her to scream out, groaning when her shoulder scraped the ground. “GET OFF OF ME!!” She bellowed, punching Shane in the face, causing him to stumble back as she staggered to her feet. She cried out in pain when he slapped her, splitting her bottom lip open, causing her to slump to the ground.

Looking around to make sure the Ministry hadn't followed him, Shane quickly scooped July into his arms, a limousine pulling up before him. He hurriedly ducked inside, cradling her in his arms. Smirking, Shane traced a finger over her split lip. “Drive.” He ordered, pressing a button to put the tinted glass up, feeling the limo moving.

Gangrel shook his head. That had been all too easy. Did the Undertaker really think he was invincible? It had been a simple matter to go back to 'Taker's house and wire specific rooms then getting out of there before the Ministry had arrived. He grinned, fangs bared.


“Fuck...” Edge groaned as he slowly opened his eyes, seeing ‘Taker was pacing like a caged animal, wondering where the hell he was. He looked to his left, seeing his brother, and could hear the beeping machines around them. Another fucking hospital. His blue eyes widened when he looked around, not seeing July anywhere, and noticed how pissed off each and every Ministry member looked. Though they'd won the fight, the war was just beginning.

“‘Taker, man calm down, we're gonna get her back.” Bradshaw groaned when he was socked in his other eye by a pissed off Undertaker.

“We just need to wait and-”

“Wait and what? Wait for Shane to rape her again? Wait for their pointless demands?” ‘Taker snarled, whirling to glare at his Ministry, black hair flying, his eyes filled with murderous rage, making each of them cower. “We were expected and walked right into a trap, I want to know who SOLD us out!”

A nurse heard the bellow and decided not to go see what was going on simply because she had wet herself.

“There's only one person I can think of that did this.” All eyes turned to him as Edge winced, sitting up a little. “Come on, it's not obvious?”

“Son, you better start talkin' before ‘Taker knocks your lights out.” Bradshaw growled, dark eyes flashing angrily, knowing ‘Taker was at the breaking point.

“Fuck...” Viscera hissed, shaking his head. “You don't think...”


His green eyes narrowed, honestly he had forgotten all about that little wannabe vampire prick. That was his mistake and he would rectify it. “I want him brought to me.” He said in a low, deadly voice.

Mideon left the room.

Leaning back against the wall, he looked at Edge and Christian, sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“I can't believe we didn't see it sooner.” Edge muttered, shaking his head, knowing because of their stupidity, July was probably being tortured by now. “Jesus...”

“Don't even think like that. July is a strong woman and she's going to survive this! She has too!” Bradshaw was trembling from how much anger was flowing through him, wanting to pulverize Gangrel for selling them out.

Viscera had went with Mideon along with Farooq, knowing it wouldn't take more than them to capture Gangrel.

He wanted to desperately believe what Bradshaw was insisting, but ‘Taker could all too well remember the haunted look in July's eyes, the faded scars on her wrists. He placed his hand over his eyes, refusing to let anyone see the pain in them, refusing to be seen during his weakest moment. He had lied to her as well. 'Taker snorted, his shoulders shaking as he thought of it. He had lied when he had told her he would protect her.

Chapter 18

July opened her eyes hours later, wincing since her entire body hurt from head to toe. “Damn...” She whispered, slowly getting to her feet, seeing her boots were lying beside the bed. She raked a hand through her hair and winced, immediately pulling her hand away, wondering where she was. The full lit moon shined back at her as July took in her surroundings, seeing she was in a hotel room of sorts. She walked over to stare in the mirror and turned the lamp on the dresser, her eyes widening at the sight of Shane sitting in a chair, simply watching her.

“Sleep well, July?” He asked conversationally, leaning back comfortable in his chair, his black button up shirt undone, a glass of bourbon in his hand. “I hope so, you were out for several hours.” He cocked his head, listening as Hunter and Chyna stood guard outside the door, smirking. “In case you're wondering, your boyfriend won't be coming for you. He was sent to the hospital along with the rest of his little gang. Last I knew all were listed in critical condition.”

She didn't believe that and whipped around to face him, tears swelling in her midnight blue eyes. “Just remember if you do anything to hurt me, your mother and sister will NEVER be seen again.” She stated heatedly, knowing what ‘Taker's motives were, and crossed her arms in front of her chest. Where she got the bravery, July was chalking it up to being with the Ministry for a brief period of time. Him calling ‘Taker her boyfriend only fueled the fire more, even though it wasn't true. He was her protector and she knew he was going to come for her.

Shane shook his head, an amused smile playing his lips. “My dear, don't you wonder how we knew when you'd be coming, when you'd arrive?” He asked, standing up and going to refill his glass, offering July one, even more amused when she glared at him. “The Undertaker's little house was infiltrated, there was a traitor.” He watched her face pale, toasting her before taking another sip. “Cheers.”

“No...” July felt her knees give out as she dropped to the carpeted floor, swallowing hard, covering her mouth with her hand. That would mean Linda and Stephanie were freed. July couldn't breathe as she felt Shane's hand on her shoulder and shoved him away. “DON'T TOUCH ME!!” She shrieked, the liquor splashing all over him, tears streaming down her face. “DON'T TOUCH ME YOU BASTARD!!” She was trembling from head to toe, her mind clouded, knowing she would never see ‘Taker again.

A sneer curling his upper lip, Shane backhanded July, sending her sprawling to the bed. “You had better remember who the hell you're talking too you worthless piece of trash!” He shouted down at her, unfazed by seeing a woman cradling her bruised face. “He has nothing to barter with anymore, July, it is OVER. Besides, you honestly think the Undertaker cares for you? Did he tell you that? Did he make poor wittle July's world all better?” He mocked her, smirking as he shrugged off his now soaked shirt, tossing it aside. “That liquor is worth more than you are, precious, and you just made me spill it.”

Her cheek felt like it would explode as she shook her head slowly back and forth. She bit her bottom lip and winced, immediately getting off of the bed when he started moving toward her. “I'm not trash. You are and you're going to pay for everything you to do to me tonight.” She promised, blue eyes flashing, already feeling the bruise form on her cheek. “You're going to pay for what you did to me when I was fifteen, you and your family will ALL pay for what you've done. So go ahead, Shane. Do what you did seven years ago. Rape me.” She seen the hesitation in his dark eyes, raising an eyebrow. “What's the matter? Can't do it? Can't throw poor wittle July on the bed and take advantage of her?” She was mocking him and knew it, her voice low and quiet, spitting blood out on the tanned carpeted floor.

Her defiance is what set him off his game, not believing this bitch had the audacity to speak to him like she was his equal. Not even then she was talking to him like she was the superior and HE was the trash. Murderous intentions written plainly on his face, Shane backhanded her again, evening out the bruising so now both the bitch's cheeks were swollen. “As for my family, they are all safe and sound, which is more than you can say right now.” He grabbed her by the arms and tossed her back onto the bed.

July started laughing evilly, the pain radiating from every pore of her body, but she didn't care. She would rather laugh than scream, cry and carry on. She backed up on the bed, a flash of fear entering her blue eyes, but the fire erupted as she snorted, watching as he unzipped his pants and showed her his erection. “Wow you're small.” She commented before laughing, seeing the incredulous look spread across her cousin's face, knowing she sounded insane. “Then again I was only fifteen when you raped me so I didn't know any better. And BELIEVE ME, Shane, I've had better than you.” She smirked at the thought of ‘Taker, knowing she hadn't had sex with him, but Shane didn't need to know that.

Shane growled, trying to keep himself from going flaccid, but each word that came out of July's mouth was pure poison. Bolting forward on the bed, he punched her, repeatedly until she was unconscious and even THEN she was STILL smiling like a maniac. Growling, he pushed away from her, disgusted with himself for letting her words bother him and fixed his pants, refusing to even look at the bitch.



Edge looked up, all of them in ‘Taker's hotel room, seeing a bloody and beaten down Gangrel being dragged inside by Farooq and Mideon, Viscera stepping inside afterwards.

Bradshaw growled, but nobody was more shocked when they saw Christian attack, never seeing him lose his temper like that. Then again, July was like a sister to the man.

“Christian stop!” Edge ordered, pulling his brother off of Gangrel, who was laughing evilly back at them all.

Gangrel licked away his own blood, baring his obviously surgically placed fangs at them all. His eyes landed on Christian, shining zealously. “Aww poor little Chrissy is missing the tramp?” He teased, his voice raspy. “And then the Undertaker! Guess what...you'll NEVER see that whore again- Shane is probably making her scream in-” He couldn't say another word because ‘Taker now had him dangling in the air with a hand wrapped around his throat, cutting off air.

Viscera slammed the door shut with authority, not believing the audacity of this bastard to speak of July that way.

“Son if you don't want to die, you'd better start talking NOW.” Bradshaw demanded, seeing the murderous intentions gleaming in ‘Taker's eyes, knowing the man was likely to snap his neck.

“You'd better pray that he hasn't laid a hand on her.” Edge snarled, his glasses off, eyes spitting blue fire of rage.

“He already has, hasn't he?” He growled, tightening his grip on Gangrel's throat when the turncoat bastard tried speaking. “A nod will suffice, you don't deserve air.” He watched as Gangrel began turning red, refusing to loosen his grip even when Paul made the suggestion killing in a hotel wasn't good for a low profile. “Where is she?”

Gangrel managed a smirk.


Edge couldn’t stand it anymore and rushed out of the hotel, knowing he would have to find July along with his brother. He groaned when they were stopped by the Acolytes, both sighing. “We can't just stand by and do nothing!!” He snapped, terrified for July's safety and welfare.

“Stop it!” Bradshaw slapped him across the face, jolting the man back to reality. “Look, we need to wait for ‘Taker's word and-” He stopped when he seen ‘Taker stormed past them.

Viscera was currently lugging a knocked out Gangrel out of the hotel room over his shoulder.

“What's going on?”

“We're embalming him alive.”

Christian's eyes widened. “Are we really?” He squeaked, remembering ‘Taker once trying that before and could all too well remember the smell of the chemicals involved, he'd gotten high. “Or is it to make him talk?”

“Whether he talks or not, he's getting embalmed.”


July was forcefully dragged into the arena the following day and taken down to the basement, where she was chained to the pipes and gagged. No tears fell from her eyes as she simply lowered her head, knowing she was in the Corporation's hands now. She wore a black dress that looked like it'd been taken from a dumpster. Her face was completely black and blue, bruised heavily, having gotten the shit knocked out of her by Shane. She didn't care anymore and just sat there, knowing it was hopeless. Maybe if she pressed her wrists against the handcuffs enough it would slice her open and she would bleed to death.

‘‘Taker...’ She thought heartbrokenly, a tear running down her face.

Gangrel has refused to talk, even after ‘Taker had begun the embalming process. Well, he HAD mentioned he'd moved Linda and Stephanie, which was a thorn in 'Taker's side, but nothing he couldn't overcome. Gangrel was now a mummy. He smirked cruelly, walking into the arena with his Ministry, ignoring everyone who glanced at them, keeping their game faces on. Tonight Hell was breaking loose.

“Boss what are we going to do?” Edge cringed when ‘Taker's green eyes flashed demonically, knowing that wasn't good.

“That was a dumbass question.” Bradshaw snorted, shaking his head, raking a hand through his black hair. He did wonder what was going to happen tonight, after feeling the sick satisfaction of watching Gangrel get embalmed alive.

“Christian, calm down.” He seen the man was sitting on the bench, his blonde hair in his fingers, gripping it tightly. Everyone was on edge.

Paul sat beside Christian, rubbing the young man's back gently. “She will be-”



“KANE is back.” Mideon said, pointing at the monitor.

Now he was really pissed.

Kane wasn't alone. He had a bound and gagged July with him, her wrists cuffed and she was on her knees at his side.

“Oh fuck me...”

Bradshaw had to look away from the monitor, seeing how bad July's face looked.

July screeched out as Shane ripped her up by the roots of her black hair, holding her against him while they called out the Ministry. “No!!” Her voice was muffled due to the gag, trembling from head to toe.

Viscera looked at his boss and waited for the word.

‘Taker's face was set in stone and he gave one brief nod, the entire Ministry filing out the door.

Shane smirked when he heard the Ministry's music hit the PA system, kissing July's forehead. “Think he's going to save your neck?” He asked, his vicious eyes fastened on the Undertaker now, bending down to bite her throat. “Because he won't. You're mine now, precious.”

Shane was going to die a slow and agonizing death.

July struggled against Shane, her eyes looking up at the ramp way at ‘Taker, longing to be in his arms and with that group of men more than anything right now.

Edge's eyes were blazing along with Christian's, both of them nodding at each other as they stayed back while their boss made his presence felt.

July screamed through the gag when he yanked on her hair again, Shane biting her again, this time on her collarbone.

Bradshaw cracked his knuckles, knowing ‘Taker would be getting July back on this night. No matter what they had to do.

Viscera could only stare back at July, seeing how much she was struggling against Shane, shaking his head in disgust. ‘That's his cousin...’ He thought disgustingly.

Obviously, Shane didn't care what anyone thought of his little perversion, not like anyone, but the Corporation, his family and the Ministry knew July was his cousin anyway. Laughing, he ripped away the gag and kissed her, muffling her screams.

Which was when 'Taker led the charge down the ramp way, sliding into the ring, ducking Hunter's fists, beginning to trade blows with his brother when Kane interfered, snarling angrily, the Ministry surrounding the ring. He pushed Kane out of his way, eyes narrowing on Shane.

“NO!!” July was yanking against Shane, who had dragged her out of the ring. “Let go of me!!” She cried out, groaning when he slapped her across the face, forcing her to fly against the mats on the outside. Her lip was bleeding, she could feel it as he yanked her up by her hair, but she wasn't giving up. She was going to delay him as much as she could, struggling against him, refusing to go over the barricade.

“This is too much...” King muttered, getting up from the announcer's booth and yanked the girl away from Shane, only to receive a chair shot to the head.

July blinked, scrambling back, knowing she couldn't do much with the handcuffs on.

Before Shane could grab July again, he was speared to hell by Edge, causing his head to crack against the metal security railing.

His Corporation was losing control was the last thought Shane had before slipping into unconsciousness.

Paul was keeping Kane at bay with a flame thrower, forcing the big man back up the ramp way, knowing if Kane was allowed to fight, he'd be a distraction to the Undertaker. “Back!” He ordered, squeezing the trigger threateningly.

'Taker literally threw Chyna over the ropes when she was dumb enough to try getting in his face, moving to slide from the ring, seeing Edge hovering over July.

“Edge...” She winced as he slowly helped her up, her wrists cut from how tight the handcuffs were on, tears streaming down her cheeks. Shane had put her through hell, but he didn't rape her. July had learned from this experience that telling a man his dick was smaller than a toothpick made them angry for violence, not sex. She could barely move, every part of her body bruised as he tried getting the cuffs off of her. “He has the key.” She whispered, glancing over at Shane, burying her face in her hands.

Nodding, Edge slid over to Shane on his knees, rifling disgustedly through the pervert’s pockets, finding the key. For good measure he brought his elbow down on Shane's head, twice. He quickly had July released and helped her to her feet, passing her to 'Taker who was now standing by them. He returned to Shane, seeing Christian was already busy trying to kill the McMahon, hesitating. Christian was the gentle one, the one who didn't believe in TOO much violence. This was...frightening.

July clung to ‘Taker for dear life, arms thrown around his neck, sobbing violently against him through the pain and anguish.

Christian was hitting Shane with everything he had inside of him, bloodying the man's face, his own torqued with rage. It took his brother, the Acolytes and Mideon to pull him off, growling furiously. “DON'T YOU EVER TOUCH HER AGAIN!!” He roared, shoving the Ministry members away before stalking from the ring, needing to check on July.

Bradshaw was blinking along with the other members, NEVER seeing Christian lose it like he had.

‘Taker watched with a solemn expression on his face, finally nodding for Christian to be pulled away ONLY when security streamed from the back. He glanced down at July, then looked at Paul. “Go ahead and get a doctor, send him to my hotel room.” He ordered, watching Mideon follow after Paul just in case. The Ministry surrounding him and July, they began their trek backstage, Bradshaw and Farooq shoving security out of their way viciously.

July had passed out on the way to the hotel, her body having exerted a lot of injury.

“‘Taker, she has three broken ribs, possible internal bleeding and her cheekbone is cracked.” The doctor said, causing all of the Ministry member’s eyes to widen.

“Jesus Christ...” Bradshaw muttered, seeing tears streaming down Christian's face. He wasn't the only one as he looked at Edge, who was doing the same thing, both men unashamed.

Viscera wanted to kill someone, but knew that was out of the question right now.

“Which means she needs hospital treatment.” Paul sighed, knowing 'Taker wasn't keen on letting July out of Ministry protection, not that he blamed the man. Given everything they had just witnessed, the new motto wasn't 'destroy everything' it was borrowed off of Stone Cold 'don't trust anyone’.

“We all go then.” He sighed. “I want eyes alert for the Corporation, one of them even LOOKS towards the hospital doors and they get sent inside, on a gurney.”

Chapter 19

It was three days before July woke up, her eyes slowly fluttering open, hissing instantly as the pain flowed throughout her body. She heard beeping to her left and sighed, knowing she was in a hospital. Would these visits never end? Tears slowly rolled down her cheeks as she closed her eyes again, the pain too much to take. Though she didn't make a sound, visions of the beatings Shane inflicted on her ran through her mind. Then she remembered the Ministry and opened her eyes again, seeing every single member surrounding her and they were all sleeping.

It had been the sudden change in beeping that alerted him to July's awakening, his eyes moving to the monitor, seeing her heart rate had briefly spiked. Green eyes fastened on her bruised face, finally locking with her blue orbs. He cleared his throat quietly, moving to sit on the edge of the bed. “I'm sorry.” He whispered.

She couldn't talk, knowing it would hurt too much, and took his hand in hers, squeezing it as much as she could. It wasn't his fault, her eyes were telling him that. She knew he was blaming himself for what happened and had no reason too. They were ambushed and betrayed, sold out. There was no way of knowing that as she sniffled a little, wincing, and closed her eyes again as silent tears rolled down her cheeks. This was probably the worse pain she'd ever felt in her life aside from being ripped away from the Ministry.

Paul had roused himself when there was a knock on the door, answering it and frowning, turning to look at 'Taker. “Linda is here.” He whispered, arching a black eyebrow, seeing ‘Taker slowly standing up. “Nurse says she wants to see July, do we let her in?”

He looked down at July. “It's up to you.” He said quietly, not having a problem with Linda, just her demon spawn and husband.

Opening her eyes, July nodded silently, her face incredibly bruised so she knew she wouldn't be able to talk much. Whatever the woman wanted, July knew it was important, especially since she had no idea what Shane had done to her when she was fifteen. She grabbed ‘Taker's hand, shaking her head, pleading with him not to leave her side just as Linda walked in, her eyes instantly fastening on her. “Auntie...” She managed to whisper, taking a deep breath, knowing she probably looked like she was just on her deathbed.

Linda inhaled sharply, examining her niece with wide eyes before moving over to take July's hand, squeezing gently. “I am so, so sorry for all of this, darling.” She whispered, pressing a kiss to July's forehead. She was well aware of what Shane had done since 'Taker had ever so kindly bellowed it at her and Stephanie. “I had to see you.” She murmured, eyes raking July's bruised face, tears running down her own.

“I-I didn't want to tell you...” She began slowly, sitting up with ‘Taker's help, wincing. She knew her entire body was probably black and blue, not to mention she could feel stitches in her stomach, meaning she had surgery. “This isn't your fault.” She finished, meaning it. Linda had been the only one who showed her a bit of kindness in that house and even though she stayed with a monster, she still had a heart of gold. “I-I want you to do something for me...” When Linda nodded, she took a deep breath. “Get out before it's too late.”

Linda smiled through her tears, nodding and smiled. “I already have.” She said, sounding proud of herself. She had suffered Vince's abuse for many years. If she had known the extent of what he had done to July, what her son had done, she probably would have taken the girl and ran a long time ago, which she should have done and would now have to live with the guilt. “July, if you ever need anything, please...call me.” She pressed a card in July's hand. “You are more than welcome to come stay with me, I've moved into a little place of my own now.”

She actually smiled upon hearing that, nodding, knowing she never would, not when she had her new family to be with. “Thank you...for what you did for me...” She knew without Linda, she would've been dead long ago and felt more tears slide down her cheeks. “Y-You have my word, they will not harm you.” She glanced around at the Ministry before meeting her aunt's eyes. “Take care of yourself, Auntie.” She felt Linda kiss her forehead again, knowing she was the only blood related family member she had left and closed her eyes again.

“You do the same, darling.” Linda whispered, nodding at the Undertaker before walking towards the door. She stopped and glanced at Christian, seeing the way he stared at her and sighed, offering a sad smile. She knew he probably didn't care for her and she didn't blame him. Look what she had allowed happen to an innocent, she didn't even like herself anymore. Linda didn't look back as she walked out the door.

July stared up at the ceiling, gritting through the pain, sighing with relief when the nurse came in and administered her something for it. “Thank you.” She breathed out when it began working its magic, though it also made her drowsy.

“Not a problem, sweetie.” Sindy smiled down at her favorite patient, worry in her eyes. “How are your stitches holding up?” She began looking over them, nodding. “You're healing well, July.”

“Thanks, what exactly did I have done?”

“Your kidney had to be repaired along with several broken ribs. Your face didn't need surgery, but it will hurt you for about a month until your cheek heals.”

She could only nod and closed her eyes again as the nurse walked out.

He was murmuring in a corner with Mideon and Christian while the nurse examined July. 'Taker had been surprised to find out Shane was in THIS hospital, one floor above them, suffering severe head trauma. He smirked when Christian muttered something under his breath, glancing at July then to Mideon. “We'll be back, watch her.”

Bradshaw watched as Christian followed ‘Taker, identical evil looks on their faces, wondering if Christian was turning into ‘Taker's mini me.

Shane was currently sleeping in his hospital bed, security surrounding his bed, not taking any damn chances.

July woke up, not seeing ‘Taker or Christian, wondering where they had gone off to and winced when she went to sit up. She smiled as Mideon and Bradshaw helped her up, nodding to them. “Thank you.” She whispered, hating being cooped up in this damn hospital. She hated them period, but would get over it since she had to have surgery and whatnot. She silently hoped and prayed her aunt was telling her the truth about leaving Vince, knowing the woman would die if she didn't get out, which is why she'd requested it.

Christian dealt with security by paying off a nurse to shriek about the Undertaker coming via the stairwell, sending the guards running to intercept while she went for a coffee.

‘Taker locked the door the minute they were in the stairwell, the two men entering Shane's room. “Wake up, little McMahon.”

Shane's eyes FLEW open, squealing like a trapped animal as they bore down on him.

Edge knew what Christian and ‘Taker were doing at this moment, wishing he could be there to see the spectacle. They'd all beaten the Corporation down and managed to light Kane's boot on fire, which kept the masked freak away. He snorted and stared back at July, seeing her marred face, shaking his head. Shane was about to become a code blue and he couldn't wait to hear the announcement over the intercom.


Paul looked up from the cooking magazine he had been browsing, listening as Shane's room number was called, smiling and began to hum a cheery tune.

Christian and 'Taker slipped back into the room, going directly to the bathroom to wash the blood off their hands.

“We were here the entire time.” ‘Taker said, stating the obvious since the men all grinned at him.

July popped one eye open when ‘Taker and Christian walked back out, knowing what they did, and smirked inwardly. She had warned Shane whatever he did to her he would pay for. Did the bastard think she was lying? Snuggling back against the bedding, July closed her eyes again, knowing she needed to rest as much as possible. The doctor was keeping her for a few more days just for observatory purposes, not wanting to release her without knowing for sure nothing else was wrong.


On the day she was allowed to leave, 'Taker was in high spirits. Especially when he heard Shane would be in the hospital for a few more weeks. Then bed rest at home. Providing he made it home. ‘Taker had vowed to kill Shane and he had been giving very serious thought to adding to his mummy collection, figuring Gangrel looked lonely in that casket.

“You ready to go home?” He asked, setting July's bag down on the bed.

She nodded back at him, her face having gone down, but it was still heavily bruised. She pulled her hoodie over her head, leaving the hood on, and slowly stood up from the bed. The stitches were pulling something fierce, but she had pain medication to help her through it. She held onto ‘Taker's hand and sat down in the wheelchair, seeing it was Christian who going to wheel her out, sighing heavily. What a mess this had been. Though she was satisfied to find out that Shane had been hurt and nearly died one floor above her. July looked straight ahead as she was wheeled out of the hospital and helped inside the waiting car, biting back obvious pain.

Christian passed her a bottle of cold water. “You can take the medication, it's been plenty of time since your last dose.” He said, knowing she had to be in some serious pain. He and Edge had contemplated getting some morphine for her, but when Paul overheard them, he had pointed out that they'd have to steal it and would probably wind up in prison or something.

She nodded, taking the white pill known as Vicodin only too happily, downing it with the water and leaned back against the backseat, waiting for it to kick in. She'd been blocking out her pain, not wanting the others to worry about her, even though they were going too anyway. July closed her eyes as the car started, ‘Taker on her right, Christian on her left with Edge in the passenger seat, refusing to leave her side along with his brother. Paul was driving yet again, the poor man.

Paul was just happy to have July back within their protective folds, knowing the Ministry was once again whole with their adopted sister back. “Where too?”


He almost rear ended the vehicle in front of them, looking at ‘Taker through the rearview mirror. “You're kidding me?”

“You heard me.”

July was out like a light, not even hearing their conversation, the Vicodin not taking long at all to kick in.

They arrived in Texas a few hours later, by plane, and July was a bit a confused as she stepped out of the car with ‘Taker's help. Her blue eyes took in the...ranch curiously before letting him guide her toward the front door and inside. The Ministry followed suit as July pulled the sunglasses from her eyes, looking around. It wasn't the Ministry mansion, but it would do, it felt a little...homier here.

“I get one of the guest rooms.” Paul announced, knowing besides 'Taker's bedroom, there were only two other bedrooms in the place. “Looks like you boys will be camping in the living room.”

‘Taker watched as the men instantly began fighting over his couch, rolling his eyes and guided July to his bedroom. He rarely ever came home, so he wasn't surprised at all by all the damn dust.

She didn't say a word as he guided her and sat down on the bed, being very ginger about it considering what she'd been through. She slowly pulled the hood from her head, black tresses falling, and unzipped it before pulling it off. She was wearing a long sleeved black shirt with a V shaped neckline and black jeans, not in the mood for color at the moment. All she could do was glance around the room and touched her cheek, wincing slightly before dropping her hands in her lap. Kicking her shoes off, July laid down in the bed and closed her eyes, tears falling silently.

The bed dipped as he sat down on the edge, staring down at her, his green eyes filled with pain. 'Taker would never forgive himself for not following through on his promise, though he WOULD keep his second one no matter the consequences. Shane would die, simply a fact of life. “There anything I can get you?” He asked softly, reaching out to brush away the tear.

July winced when he did that, not meaning too, but her face was still very tender as she slowly shook her head. She just wanted to sleep, her wrists having the deep gashes on them that were slowly healing, no doubt going to add to her other scars when they were fully healed. She felt dirty and knew she didn't deserve to be here. Nothing was her fault, but then why did it all keep happening when she was around? July didn't know the answer to that question, banking it on she was bad luck.

He had seen her wince and instantly recoiled, standing up and putting distance between them, raking a hand through his already tousled hair. What the hell was he thinking? She had probably been...raped by her fucking cousin, not to mention beaten which was more than obvious and here he was being a total jackass and touching her! “Did he...touch you?” He demanded, needing to know.

She cleared her throat and even that was painful as July slowly opened her eyes, but she didn't look at him, just straight ahead. “He beat me within an inch of my life. I told him his dick was as small as a toothpick and he beat me instead.” She was glad for that too, her voice completely serious and dead. There was no life in it. All the happiness was drained out of her and it would take a miracle and some serious time to get it back.

He could only stare at her, hardly believing she had actually said that, but...the proof was quite literally on her face. “That was very brave.” He whispered, sinking down into a chair, unable to tear his eyes away from her battered face, finally moving them to her wrists, clenching the chairs arms tightly. “What do you want, July? Do you want to stay here or do you want to go somewhere else? Your aunt's?” He would do anything to make her comfortable, to bring some spark of life to those dead eyes.

“If you wish to send me away, I'll go to my aunt's.” She whispered brokenly, not looking at him and closed her eyes as the tears fell down her face. She couldn't bear to leave him, but at the same time, maybe he didn't have any use for her anymore. July was useless and damaged beyond repair. She knew it and so did anyone who would look at her. Why would they after everything she'd been through? “I will leave that decision up to you, ‘Taker.” She added quietly, sniffling, and didn't move to wipe her tears away since her face was sore enough.

“That's just it, July, it's NOT my decision. It's YOURS. It is YOUR life. I want you to be happy, darlin'.” He kneeled down on the floor by the bed, reaching to take her hand. “I want you to feel safe and comfortable and I know you can't feel either of those things right now. You're surrounded by men who've all let you down, especially me. I want what's best for you.”

“You didn't let me down.” She whimpered out, squeezing her eyes tightly shut, shaking her head back and forth against the pillow. “W-We were sold out, ‘Taker. There's no way we could've known what was going to happen.” She slowly opened her eyes, seeing the pleading in his green orbs, and sniffled as she caressed his face tenderly with her free hand. “I may not look it right now, but when I'm with you ‘Taker, I am happy. I'm the happiest I've ever been. You make me happy, you're all I thought about while I was with them...” She slowly sat up in the bed and wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him close, knowing he needed the comfort as much as she did, ignoring the nagging pain her body produced.

He gently untangled her hands from his neck, reluctantly pushing her back down onto the bed, knowing she needed to rest, not comfort him. “I'll let you sleep.” He murmured, leaning down to kiss her forehead before standing up, heading for the door. “Someone will check on you regularly to see if you need anything, alright?”

July could only nod and curled up in a tight ball, not believing he was pushing her away. What did she honestly expect? Her heart was shredding slowly and there was no stopping it as she heard the door close quietly. She ended up crying herself to sleep, her face bruised and tear-streaked, the pillow soaked with them. It would take time, but she would be alright. The injuries would heal, but the inner fire inside of her had been snuffed out and she didn't know how to rekindle it, if it COULD be rekindled.

He headed to the kitchen, pulling down a jug of homemade whiskey that had set on the top of the counter for several years. He uncorked it and took a long swallow, wincing as it burned down to his stomach, taking another, ignoring Paul.

“What put you in a moonshine mood?”

“My own stupidity.”

“What happened to her is not your fault.”

Chapter 20

A month had passed since July was brought to Texas. ‘Taker had taken some time off, though the Ministry couldn't. So it was just her, ‘Taker and Paul inside the house. She'd gotten her own room, after waking up screaming at the top of her lungs from a nightmare, scaring ‘Taker out of his wits. She made the move, not him. Her face was nearly healed, just a small bruise on her cheekbone, where it was healing nicely. She couldn't be slapped for another week or so and snorted at the thought. Her wardrobe consisted of hoodies and pants, refusing to show any part of her body. The first time she'd taken a shower, she nearly puked at how black and blue it really was. That was healing too, though she still had some spots, especially her stomach, where her surgery had taken place. The only thing that wasn’t healing was July shattered spirit and heart.

Paul watched both July and ‘Taker retreat into themselves. July's depression he could understand, that was natural. He couldn't however figure out why ‘Taker insisted on blaming himself. Enough had become enough.


“You realize she thinks you hate her or something to that effect?” He asked, watching as what HAD been the Phenom flicked through a book he wasn't even reading.

“Why should she think that? She knows better.”

“If her moving rooms wasn't a dead giveaway then you need help, Mark.”

“It's 'TAKER.” He growled, standing up, the book forgotten. “She made that decision, not me.”


July heard shouting coming from downstairs and knew it was because of her. She'd become a quiet mouse, hardly saying a word, though when she did speak it was brief and to Paul. She sat on the windowsill, her knee drawn up, her cheek resting on it as she stared out at the long stretch of property. July already knew she loved ‘Taker, she loved him from the moment he took her away from her abused, mistreated life and gave her a new one. The barest hint of a smile spread across her face as she remembered him taking her shopping for all new clothes, encouraging her to spend whatever she wanted. That had felt wonderful. She felt accepted and wanted, two things that were a void in her life until him.


“Ever think she made the decision to do that because you've withdrawn from her?”

“I'm trying not to hurt her, Paul.” He said through gritted teeth, wanting to beat the shit out of his oldest friend, only stopping himself because Paul WAS his oldest friend. “I'm trying to give her space.”

“July needs you to comfort her, crowd her, love her. You really are blind.” Paul shook his head. “I'm going home for a few days, Mark, think about it.” He walked out of the room.

“It's ‘TAKER!”


July looked up when a knock sounded at her door, seeing Paul walk in and seen the sadness in his eyes. “Paul, what's wrong?” Her blue eyes widened as the tears filled them when he announced he was going home for a few days, causing her to nod. She walked over and hugged him around the neck, slowly pulling back to kiss his cheek. “Be careful.” She whispered before going back over to sit on the windowsill, seeing the sun was descending on the horizon. She wouldn't let her tears fall until Paul left, knowing now it was just her and ‘Taker. That both excited and scared the hell out of her at the same time.


Paul passed 'Taker's closed bedroom door, shaking his head sadly when he heard the blues music coming from the room and decided against saying goodbye. He picked up his suitcase and left, knowing he needed some time away from this situation and hopefully with him gone, 'Taker would bounce back to his old self, especially since Paul wouldn't be there to care for July.

He watched from his bedroom window as Paul's car vanished from the drive, resting his forehead against the window pane with a sigh.

“Goodbye Paul.” She whispered tearfully, letting a few slide down her cheeks, knowing she was going to miss the man deeply.

He had cared for her like a father to a daughter, something she'd never had before, and she would miss him. She'd see him though again, she was sure of it. Sighing, July pulled herself away from the window and walked over to pull out a book from the shelf, deciding to do some reading. It would get her mind off of everything that was going on as of late. Though before she began, she changed into a long sleeved black nightgown, much like the blood red one she wore when...July shook her head of that memory and went to start her book.

He couldn't put off seeing her any longer. Hours had passed and he hadn't heard a peep from her room. Sighing, he crossed the hallway, knocking once before walking in. “July,” ‘Taker began slowly, not entirely sure how to do this, get her to...open up to him, show her he wasn't trying to hurt her by being distant. Where the hell was Paul's words of wisdom when he needed them? “I'm going to make dinner, would you care to help me?” He knew she enjoyed cooking, that was something he could do.

She slowly looked up at him with those sad blue eyes and nodded, setting her book aside before sliding off of the bed, walking past him out of her room and downstairs toward the kitchen. “What did you want to make?” She quietly asked, already putting a black apron on and pulled her sleeves up before washing her hands like Paul had showed her. July missed him and remembered when they made lasagna together, another bare smile crossing her lips before it quickly diminished as she dried her hands off with a towel.

“I have no idea...” He muttered, rifling through the cupboards, pulling out some items of shit he couldn't place, groaning when he realized Paul had stocked his cupboards. “He would...” ‘Taker groaned, eyeballing a can of some kind of soup, not entirely sure he trusted something that was vegetarian style. “What are you hungry for?”

“Hmm...” July walked over and pulled the fridge open, nodding before pulling out a platter of steaks. “These look like they're already prepped. We could grill them?” She suggested softly before pulling out some baked potatoes, a small smile on her face when she seen they were already wrapped in tin foil. Paul had planned this apparently. “I'll make something else to go with it.” She handed him the steaks and baked potatoes before looking in the freezer, pulling out a bag of vegetables with a note on it.

~This will go beautifully with the steaks and potatoes, July.~

She shook her head before going to find a pan, knowing she would have to grab the Velveeta cheese and actually snorted when she seen another note.

~Ten minutes, then add~

“I'll go start the grill...” He said, heading outside. ‘Taker blinked when he seen everything laid out, chinaware on the patio table and arched an eyebrow, spotting Paul's familiar hand writing on a note tucked under a glass.

~There's an excellent wine chilling down in your cellar, you need to invest in ice.~

“What an ass...”

When she knew the steaks were halfway done, July got to work on the second siding to go with the dinner. She turned the flame on the stove before placing the pot on it, starting to feel like herself again. Whatever that was. July never knew who she really was because all she'd been her entire life was an obedient mouse. Sighing, she walked over and began washing the dishes that were in the sink, doing it exactly how Paul taught her. She missed that man, but knew he left for a reason. He was very intelligent and she had learned a lot from him.

He hadn't been amused to find another note in the cellar, prepared to throttle Paul the next time he seen the man.

~Your black jeans and green thermal top should suffice and kindly brush that rat's nest you call hair.~

He banged his head against the wall, wondering just when Paul had decided to grow a sense of humor. He carried the bottle up the stairs and set it on the counter. “I'm going to go change.” He told July, heading to his bedroom, rolling his eyes when he seen the jeans and shirt hanging side by side in his closet. What a sneaky bastard.

She looked down at herself and frowned, wondering if she should do the same thing. July set the timer on the stove before rushing out, taking the apron off, and walked upstairs to change as well. She tapped her chin, deciding on a deep emerald green dress she'd bought. It had black lace that outlined the hem and went two inches above the knee, spaghetti strapped. She brushed her hair before walking back downstairs, barefoot, resuming the cooking in the kitchen. She nodded when the timer went off, checking to see how the vegetables were and added the cheese to them.

‘Taker worked out the tangles after taking a quick shower, not believing how bad his hair had gotten from not being brushed for a few days. Wincing, he finally set the brush aside, quickly braiding it back with nimble fingers. Once he was dressed, he arched an eyebrow, realizing his eyes looked even more green if it were possible, wondering what the hell was so special about this shirt. What he didn't realize was it hugged his chest perfectly as well as brought out his sharp features better than the black he normally sported. Shrugging, he finished up and headed back downstairs.

July walked out and set the bowl of cheesy vegetables on the table and had to learn how to breathe again when she saw ‘Taker. Green was DEFINITELY the man's color. She shook herself mentally before going back into the kitchen, her hair pulled back in a high messy bun, not wanting to get hair in the food while she cooked. She knew that wouldn't bode well and honestly wondered what this dinner was going to bring. Maybe it was time to just stop being afraid and go on her instincts?

He froze in opening the wine when he seen July's dress, wondering if Paul was a mind reader, offering her a slow smile. “You look stunning.” ‘Taker almost purred, unable to keep the huskiness from his voice, remembering what he had been doing and popped the cork, setting it aside before filling their wine glasses. He shook his head when she returned to the kitchen, snorting. “Smooth, man, smooth.”

July heard his compliment, but she couldn't stand there staring at him without needing a moment. ‘What is wrong with me?’ She thought, shaking her head before walking back out with a soft smile on her face. “Thank you.” She touched his arm gently while he poured them two glasses of wine, having had a few since being pulled out of her isolation. “You look stunning yourself.” She took the glass he handed her and walked over to sit down, knowing the steaks and potatoes would be done any moment and they could sit down together.

Now that was the first time he had ever been called stunning. Handsome, sexy, unnaturally gorgeous by one woman who had rather freaked him out, but never stunning. “Thank you.” He murmured, pulling out her chair. “I'll tend to the steaks, you just relax.” His eyes were drinking her in, loving that emerald green on her, how it hugged her delicious curves and...time to go check the steaks. Steak...oh dear Christ. Paul must have known he'd be in trouble hence the tight jeans which both cut off circulation to his vital parts and hid the fact that he needed that circulation.

July nodded as she did what he asked and looked around the house, taking it all in for the first time. It had a southern touch and style to it, bringing an even bigger smile to her face. This was nice, just her and ‘Taker alone, even though she'd been scared to death at first. Who could blame her? The man had mood swings that sometimes made her wonder if he was stable mentally. Then again, look what he did for a living and what his group was called. Still, she couldn't help admiring him and sipped her wine slowly.

When the steaks were ready -he no longer had an erection- ‘Taker set them on the table, seating himself across from July, sipping his wine as he watched her blue eyes move away from him, wondering just she had been looking at, a hint of a smile playing his lips. “Eat.” He instructed, his tone cheerful, his mood lifting for the first time in weeks.

She nodded and filled her plate with a baked potato, frowning in thought and snapped her fingers. “I'll be right back.” She walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge, smiling at the notes that were left on the butter and sour cream. “Paul.” She sighed, throwing them out, and walked back to sit at the table, opening the containers with utensils to use them with. She fixed her potato with sour cream and butter, added the vegetables and began cutting into her steak. This was a dinner made in heaven.

He fixed his own plate, which was loaded since he could easily pack his food away. The silence was amicable, both enjoying the delicious meal and conversation wasn't needed as the sounds of forks and knives on plates easily filled the gaps. When he was full -which took some time and second helpings- he pushed aside his plate, refilling his wine glass and topping hers off. Noticing a candle in the middle of the table alongside a lighter, he leaned forward to light it, realizing it had begun to grow dark.

July was stuffed, but managed to finish everything on her plate, sighing in contentment. “I got it.” She murmured softly, grabbing his plate their fingers brushing together briefly before she took it, taking them into the kitchen. She put some hot water on them, deciding she'd do them after her food settled, and went to rejoin ‘Taker. It was a beautiful night, the stars glistening up at the sky as she looked up, the warm Texas breeze blowing through her hair. It was truly peaceful out here and July was liking it more than the Ministry mansion.

‘Taker brushed past her, his body rubbing against hers as he carried in the rest of the supper dishes, finally standing behind her, resting his hands on July's shoulder, looking up at the sky. One thing he had truly missed about home was the view. A Texas night sky was the best he had ever seen and he had been all over the world.

“Beautiful, isn't it?” He murmured huskily.

She nodded and leaned back against him, her head resting against his chest while they just stood there, staring at the beautiful sunset. “It truly is.” She murmured softly, not even tensed when he touched her. His touch was familiar and comforting, she wanted him to wrap her around those feelings, to make her feel like she wasn't alone. She wanted him to love her, to protect her, to not push away just because he thought he was scaring her. She just wanted him.

Chapter 21

Gently lifting July into his arms, 'Taker carried her out into the yard, settling down on the grass with her in his lap, leaning back on his arms, feeling July's weight on him and didn't mind it one bit. It was rather comforting actually. Though he decided laying down would be better view wise, and he meant the sky. He lay on his back, gently tugging July onto the ground beside him, resting her head in the crook of his arm.

She stared up at the sky as one by one the stars began popping out, the moon slowly overtaking the sun. It fascinated her how that happened and could already see constellations forming. It made her smile as she snuggled against ‘Taker, seeing lightening bugs were starting to surround them as the cool breeze blew across their bodies. She wasn't cold, how could she be in this man's arms? It was impossible.

It was like nature was coming to his aid or something, saving his sorry ass since he wasn't apparently capable of doing it by himself. Sighing softly, 'Taker watched the change in the night sky. “This is my favorite time of day.” He murmured, running his fingertips against her shoulder, back and forth, gently. “When the moon and the sun are both out, kinda sad in a way.”

“Why is that?” She asked softly, running her fingers with his as they entwined together, her heart beginning to slowly piece together again.

She missed him. She missed his touch and she couldn't stop thinking about the last time they'd been together alone, before coming to Texas. It was when the trap had been set, when he had shown her an intense amount of passion within those few moments in her room at the Ministry mansion. She closed her eyes, briefly remembering how his lips felt against hers before opening them again, snuggling even more against him while she watched the sun disappear fully.

“Well, because it's the only time of day you can really see them together besides early morning. This is going to sound really damn corny and if you laugh at me, I'm going to tickle you till you piss yourself, but...” He took a deep breath. “It reminds me a bit of Romeo and Juliet, wanting to be together, but eternally apart. Odd way to think of the sun and moon, don't you think? Though it was the sun and moon line in the play that made me think of it to begin with.”

She didn't laugh at him, though a big smile crossed her face, sighing gently with a nod. “I completely agree with you.” She replied, though an eyebrow arched when he threatened to tickle her, remembering that happy moment back at the Ministry mansion. She slowly sat up and turned to face him, her eyebrows furrowed in both wonder and confusion. One minute he could be the sweetest man in the world, like now, and other times she left him be because of how angry he was. Why couldn't he just find a balance or something like that? Like she had room to talk, right? Wrong.

Seeing the confusion on her face, he too sat up, staring down at her. “What's wrong, July?” ‘Taker murmured, worry in his green eyes as he reached out to cradle her chin in the palm of his head. “Did I do something? I told you it was corny.” He half teased, trying to bring that beautiful smile back to her face.

“No, you didn't do anything wrong.” She assured him, staring back into his green eyes, searching for something she wasn't sure she was looking for. “‘Taker...” She whispered and wrapped her arms around his neck, just wanting to feel his warmth engulf her, closing her eyes as she blinked the tears away. “I missed you.” She knew it sounded absolutely ridiculous, but for the past month, she'd barely seen him. She saw more of Paul then him, especially when she moved into the third guest room. So saying it wasn't all that hard considering what had happened was false.

“I missed you too.” He murmured, holding her close to him, feeling her body trembling against his and wondered if she was cold or crying, deciding the latter. “I'm sorry, July. I thought by staying away from you, I was doing the right thing.” He apologized. “I figured you needed time and space and me being by your side twenty four seven wasn't going to help that.”

“I know.” She whispered, slowly pulling back to stare into his eyes, hers glistening with unshed tears. “I thought you didn't want anything to do with me.” She felt a tear roll down her cheek and wiped it away, her eyes moving to the side, sniffling softly. Damn it! She didn't want to cry! She wanted to tell him how she felt, to show him somehow, to make him believe that what happened to her wasn't his fault. He was blaming himself, she could see it in those green eyes, and she hated he was doing that to himself. “It wasn't your fault, ‘Taker.”

“Yeah, I know.” ‘Taker murmured, wiping away her tears with the pad of his thumb. “Took me until today to finally realize it though. It wasn't your fault and it wasn't my fault. We were betrayed by someone I used to trust. The mistake in letting him live long enough to betray was mine, but I rectified that one.” His eyes flashed a dangerous green for a moment before returning to their usual color. “I want everything to do with you July, please don't ever think otherwise, even if I do act like a fool.”

She smiled back at him and cupped his face in her soft hands, pressing her forehead to his and closed her eyes. “I know that now.” She murmured, never wanting to let him go, never wanting this moment to end. “You've shown me so much in the past few months than I ever dared to dream possible. You protected me the best ways you knew how and I...” She took a deep breath, slowly pulling back to stare into his green eyes. “I love you. I love you, ‘Taker.” She knew he was probably going to say she was too young to know what love was and that whole shebang, but July knew what it was. It was everything he'd shown her, even if he had pushed himself away. He did it for the same reason she was voicing.

Smiling, he kissed her tenderly, pushing a stray lock of her black hair behind her ear when he pulled away. ‘Taker could feel her words causing a physical effect on him, his entire body warming at those sweet, sweet words. Of course, he also knew that he was the first man to ever show her kindness and affection in a non-fatherly way, so her experience was limited. There was probably someone better out there for July, but if he had his way, she'd never meet him.

“I love you too.” He murmured.

Her blue eyes lit up like the stars above them as July kissed him back, wrapping her arms around his neck, sighing when he pulled her to straddle his lap. The dress rode up her thighs a little as she rested her hands on his shoulders, laughing when he laid back, her going with him. Her black hair splayed around them in a curtain as she rubbed her nose against his before moving down to his lips and even his beard, moving back up, her lips barely touching his. Her heart was fully pieced together now and the happiness and life was shining in her eyes again.

There was that sparkle that had been missing in her eyes since she'd come back, that life he had grown to love. He knew there had been a fire inside of July that only needed a bit of kindling to turn into a blaze, proof was in his arms. “Tease.” He murmured, well aware she knew nothing about the act of making love besides what her body told her, his hands gently skimming her ribs, feeling the heat of her skin through the thin fabric.

On the contrary, July had read up on the act of love making quite diligently, thanks to Paul pointing out some books to her. She needed some experience after all and smiled when she nipped his bottom lip, causing a low growl to escape him. She was completely comfortable with him, no hesitation in her eyes. The nightmares of what Shane did to her were gone, having been shoved in that little box, hopefully to never surface again. She loved this man and he loved her, which was enough to make the nightmares vanish and replaced with sweet dreams.

Deciding outside in the grass -while the night progressively got colder wasn't the best place for this- especially not for her first time with a REAL man -providing they got that far- 'Taker stood up. Pulling July with him and smirked, scooping her into his arms again, bending his head to catch her lips in a searing, demanding kiss, feeling her melting against him. Chuckling under his breath, he started for the house.

July groaned when he pulled away and carried her inside the house, the warmth engulfing them, deciding she would do the dishes later. She wrapped her legs around his waist, her dress now bunched up around her hips, her arms around his neck while he carried her up the steps. Deciding to experiment a little, July began to softly kiss his neck, running her fingers through his hair as she undid his braid, needing to feel his soft tresses against her touch.

“Woman, if you want to make it to the bedroom...” ‘Taker warned, his voice low and throaty, growling when she giggled. He leaned against the wall, still in the stairwell, his hands holding her up and tilted his head back, letting July have free reign for the moment. Not about to deny himself the pleasure of her touch or her the exploration, groaning when she undid his hair, loving the feel of her fingers running through it.

Her soft purrs vibrated against his skin as she nipped and kissed his neck, moving across his throat, nipping his Adam's apple, before moving to his other side, smiling when she felt him tighten his grip on her. It was just them, no interruptions. Nothing to stop them this time. ‘Taker...” She moaned softly against him, taking his earlobe in her mouth, her hands running through his hair continuously, loving him the best way she could.

She was going to be the death of him, literally because if July kept this up, he was going to lose his already precarious balance. Grunting, he carried her up the rest of the stairs and into his bedroom, depositing her in the middle of his bed. Standing back, he peeled off his long sleeved shirt, tossing it aside before leaning down over her, muscles flexing as he shifted his weight onto his arms, his body ALMOST pressing against hers.

July's eyes were darkened with passion as she stared up at him, her fingertips running down his chest, feeling the muscles ripple beneath her touch, a soft smile gracing her slightly swollen lips. She loved how strong and muscular he was, the anticipation of his body pressing against hers almost driving her to the point of madness. She didn't want to rush this though, her nails barely grazing his flesh, her eyes locked on his as they slowly turned from emerald to a deep dark forest.

There was no rushing, he was completely in control now, though he wouldn't deny July's enthusiasm had tempted him to let her do what she wanted. Tempted. His eyes closed, feeling her running her hands down his chest, breathing through his slightly parted mouth before shaking his head. Leaning down to kiss again, he caught her both her hands in one of his, pinning them between their bodies. “Do you have any idea what you're doing to me, hmmm?” He purred in her ear, his breath hot against her.

Her entire body trembled against him, her breathing more ragged than before. “No, show me.” She breathed out, gasping softly when his tongue flicked out against her earlobe, sending a tremor to rip through her. She loved the warmth that was pressed against her palms and felt her eyes drifting shut, licking her suddenly dry lips. Just the sheer intensity between them was enough to make her head spin as July arched her neck against his lips and tongue when he began exploring her, moaning out softly.

“I will.” He promised huskily, moving down her body, brushing his lips against July's collarbone as he moved. Soon he had settled himself on the floor, kneeling at her feet. 'Taker softly kissed her heels, setting them aside before running his hands up her smooth calves, feeling her muscles tensing beneath his palms, chuckling darkly. He would take his time with her, introduce her to the sensual pleasures she had been denied. “So beautiful...”

Just the feeling of his strong, muscular hands on her body sent July's mind reeling, but she couldn't pull her gaze from his. She bit her bottom lip when he ran his hands across her thighs, some of the bruises from Shane's beating lingering, and closed her eyes. She could only pray he wasn't appalled by them and leaned her head back, her hair trickling down her back in waves, her breathing and heart rate increasing rapidly.

At first he was disgusted by the bruises that still haunted her otherwise gorgeous flesh, though he would never let her know that. Then after a moment, he realized these marks were a badge of her courage. Reminders of how brave July had been in facing Shane, doing whatever necessary to ensure he wouldn't touch her. Bending down, he planted a tender kiss on a bruised area. “My brave, brave July.” He murmured.

She slowly sat up, running her hands down his tattooed arms, watching as he lovingly caressed her marred skin, the feeling exquisite. Her hands moved up his arms to his shoulders, feeling her dress being pushed up inch by inch the further he ventured, her chest rising and falling rapidly. He was lighting her on fire and causing intense sensations to flow through her body. “‘Taker...” She whispered, her hands burying in his black tresses that were crimped from being in a tight braid.

“Hmm?” He murmured absentmindedly, busy uncovering her delectable body. His green eyes reluctantly strayed over that body and back up to meet her eyes, seeing the desire swimming in those beautiful blues. Slightly smirking, he returned to his previous explorations, guiding the dress down her creamy hips, inhaling raggedly, reaching down to cup her sex, feeling the heat through her panties, a low groan coming from deep in his chest.

A gasp escaped her lips when he touched her, the heat pulsating against his hand, not believing how wonderful this felt. She loved his touch and dropped a kiss on top of his head, her hands moving down to his shoulders and back up to cup his face in her hands. Moaning softly when his finger slid up and down her panty covered slit, July did a full body shiver and trembled slightly against him, the desire overwhelming her and igniting every nerve ending. “Oh my...” She kissed him briefly before being gently pushed back down on the bed, her legs dangling on his shoulders.

First, the rest of the dress had to go, granted it was hanging off one leg, but...He tossed it onto the floor to join his shirt. He leaned back on his haunches to look down at her, there was something way too innocent about seeing July in just her bra and panties. He could see faint bruises still on her abdomen, resting his palm over them with a soft sigh.

For the most part, July was healed, though she still had to be careful as far as abuse went. She hadn't healed fully from her surgery, though it was in its final stages. The doctor told her she could resume normal everyday life, including sex, which caused her to blush furiously. Right now she was hot, his palms on her abdomen only fueling that fire more, wanting to reach out and touch him. Instead, her fingers gripped the comforter below, squeezing it gently between them as he began kissing his way down her stomach, leaving a trail of fire ridden kisses in his path, scorching her.

‘Taker circled her naval, dipping his head lower and lower until his face was pressed against her panty covered sex, inhaling her scent, her arousal. His breath hitched in the back of his throat for a moment before hooking his fingers in the waistband of the flimsy material, sliding them down her hips, over her legs until they too rested on the floor, his attention firmly on her. “Mmm.” He rumbled, slowly sliding one finger up her slit, caressing her clit which seemed to be begging for attention he was only to keen to give.

July cried out softly when she felt his finger caress her, the sheer anticipation forcing her to soak against him at the mere touch. She'd never been touched like this so...gentle and soothing. He was soothing her because, as far as she was concerned, he was her first time, her first lover. Rape didn't constitute as losing her virginity, July knew that, and she also knew with how big as ‘Taker was, it was going to hurt. She was prepared to feel the pain as long as she was with him. That's all she ever wanted was to find someone who could love and treat her well. She'd found both in him, a man who looked like Satan, but had a heart of gold.

Chapter 22

Seeing her wetness soaking his finger, he raised the digit to his mouth, swiping his tongue to catch her juices, his green eyes closing as he popped his finger into his mouth, savoring her sweet taste. Licking his lips, 'Taker decided one taste wasn't enough, guiding her legs back over his shoulders as he leaned down, running his broad tongue where his finger had so recently burned a path, a ragged moan escaping him.

Her eyes drifted shut as a tremor tore through her, not realizing she raised her hips off of the bed until his hand pushed her back down gently. His tongue was so slick and wet, causing her walls to pulsate with need, aching for him to take her. July moaned out softly, bringing her hands up to run through her hair before sliding down her body to his own mane, crying out when she felt his tongue thrust inside of her for the first time.

He could feel her inner walls contracting around his tongue, using one hand to hold her down while the other moved to gently stroke her clit, wrenching another gasp from July. Curving the tip of his tongue, 'Taker rubbed it against her G-spot, instantly rewarded with a rush of her essences coating his tongue, making an almost laughing noise in the back of his throat as he did it again.

July was writhing on the bed, her head moving back and forth as a burning sensation coursed through her stomach, tightening, feeling like a hot coil ready to burst. “Oh god...” She cried out, her chest heaving as she tried fighting off this feeling. She didn't like it because it scared her. She felt his tongue drive deeper and faster inside of her and knew it had to be an orgasm. She finally couldn't take it anymore, her thighs tensing, her muscles contracting violently as her walls tightened to the point of suffocation around ‘Taker's tongue, her entire body exploding as a rush of warmth came over her. Beads of sweat formed on her forehead as July bolted upright, shrieking out his name as she released the feeling she'd been desperately trying to fight off.

He didn't let one precious drop go to waste, catching her juices and savoring them, finally withdrawing his head from her legs. Seeing her body still quivering from the intensity of her orgasm, her first orgasm unless he was mistaken, and he knew he wasn't. Trying to keep the smirk from his face, 'Taker slowly kissed his way up her body, gently nudging her back down onto the bed, giving July time to simmer down before making her blaze again, feathering a kiss against her parted lips.

Her head was spinning, the passion haze completely clouding all form of thinking. She could only kiss him back, her hand massaging the back of his neck and slowly pulled back, needing to breathe, blinking repeatedly. She opened her mouth to say something only for his lips to take hers again, moaning softly and pulled him down by wrapping her arms around his neck, opening her mouth for an invitation when his tongue swiped across her lips. Their tongues dueled in a dance of seduction and greed, her heart thundering even harder against her chest. July was sure it was going to fly out and land against ‘Taker at any given moment.

He wasn't giving her any more time to calm down, wanting July to tremble just from the mere thought of him and what heights of pleasure he could take her. Sitting up, he pulled her into his lap, guiding her beautiful legs around his muscular waist, never breaking the kiss. His hands moved down to her bra, unclasping it and sending it flying, knowing eventually his own pants were going to have to come off before he exploded.

Nothing but trembles came from her body as she gripped his shoulders, swallowing hard, feeling something hard beneath her and knew it was him. She shivered at the sheer thought and leaned forward, brushing her lips against his before moving to his neck, pressing her chest against his. Skin on skin contact, it was the most erotic feeling July ever experienced and knew she would only feel it with ‘Taker. Her lips moved lazily against his skin, gasping when he brushed against her, trembling again. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't stop doing it.

“Okay darlin'...Hold on.” He murmured in her ear, his drawl coming out in his passion. Gently, he rolled July onto the bed before getting up, quickly ridding himself of his jeans and socks, his erection springing free and almost sighed in relief, seeing her looking at him with wide eyes and glanced down at himself, arching an eyebrow. “Something wrong?”

The first thought that went through her mind was how the hell was he going to get THAT in HER? The second thought was how positively sinful he looked at the moment, this man dripped with pure sexuality and it made a hunger erupt within July that was unexplainable. She slowly shook her head, swallowing hard when he crawled on the bed toward her, knowing she was indeed his prey and he was the predator. Her blue eyes were wide with wonder and a little fear, which she had every reason to be scared, considering how enormous he was. She just hoped he didn't pull away from her and reached a shaky hand out to him, cupping his face in her hand, smiling.

Catching her hand in his, he brought it to his mouth, kissing her palm gently. ‘Taker had seen the fear in her eyes and had understood it after realizing WHY she was staring at him. He knew he was a fairly decent size, but usually it garnered a purr, not fear. Though he also understood her fear, determined to show her there wasn't a thing to be frightened of. Gently, he guided her hand between their bodies, wrapping her fingers around his erection, his eyes never leaving hers.

He was hard as a rock as July bit her bottom lip, fighting back the nerves, wanting this man more than water, the very air she breathed. He was her everything, her entire existence. Slowly, experimentally, July began gliding her hand up and down his hardened shaft, shivering when he growled against her. She closed her eyes, going on pure instinct, and ran her fingertip over the tip of him, feeling him tremble against her and smiled, knowing he was enjoying her touching him.

‘Taker had closed his eyes, enjoying the feel of July timidly at first touching him. Though he could also feel her becoming more bolder, purring his approval, his voice dripping with lust, not hiding his desire from her. Obviously as it was currently throbbing in her tiny palm. “You have no idea how exquisite that feels.” He whispered, pressing his forehead to hers.

“I'm hoping it feels as exquisite as what you just did to me.” She whispered back, becoming a little braver, and squeezed him in her hand before beginning to massage him, her eyes opening to meet his dark green eyes, a deep forest green. There was no acid in them, they only turned that way whenever he was angry or upset about something. Right now, sheer desire and ecstasy coursed through those eyes and she became breathless because it was all for her.

All because of her and what she was doing to him. If her inexperience was this pleasurable, he wasn't entirely sure he wanted July to gain any further knowledge that might very well be the death of him. He groaned at the thought, but what a way to die. “Enough.” His voice was hoarse, clearing his throat and gently, but firmly pulled her hand away from him, almost groaning again at the loss, consoling himself with the promise of better yet to come. “Do you want me?” He whispered, kissing along her jaw line.

“Yes.” She breathed out without hesitation, passion laced in her tone of voice, arching her neck against his soft lips and tongue. Her hand lost itself in his hair, her head tilting back as he gently guided her back on the bed, her black hair splayed all around her and the pillow as she felt his rock hard body cover hers. The warmth engulfed her as he traveled to her neck, crying out softly when he found a sweet spot that made her melt into molten lava against him.

While he was kissing her, ‘Taker was also positioning her, gently pushing a pillow underneath her before draping her calves over his hips. He distracted July with his kisses, going for the spot that made her putty, guiding himself to her entrance, knowing he could either distract her from the brief pain that was coming or let her face it head on. He opted for the sneakier route, slowly pushing himself in her tightness, hesitating when he felt her tense, murmuring soothing words in her ear as he continued, feeling her walls stretching to accommodate his size.

July gasped as she gripped his forearms tightly, her entire body tensing to the point where she nearly felt like a statue. She had to relax and took deep breaths. Her nails no longer dug in his skin as she felt him slide further inside of her, not believing how much he filled her. “‘Taker...” She whimpered out, her hand burying in his hair, squeezing it while he continued assaulting her neck, staring up at the ceiling. She gasped when he kept moving, not stopping, which was the best thing he could've done due to how far her walls had to stretch. “Oh god...”

Stopping would have only made her pain worse and he knew this, burying his face in her neck when he was finally sheathed fully inside her. “July…” He murmured, kissing his way to her face, his eyes fastening with hers. ‘Taker gave her time to adjust, glancing down at his arms, seeing crescent shaped marks where her nails had dug in before looking back at her. His black hair spilling over his shoulders, forming a curtain around them. “When you're ready...” He said softly, brushing his lips against hers.

She moaned softly against his lips, moving her hands to rest against his chest, the burning sensation within her walls and body slowly subsiding. “Take me.” She whispered breathlessly against his lips, gasping when he was buried to the hilt, remembering for that brief moment how much pain and agony she'd gone through when Shane took her. Staring into his green eyes, that quickly vanished as she ran her thumb across his bottom lip, her other hand pressed against his chest over his heart. “I love you.” She kissed him again, wrapping her arms around his neck, crying out softly when she felt him slowly slide out of her before snapping his hips forward, filling her to the core.

“And I love you.” ‘Taker murmured, gently pulling her body into his strokes, his thumbs massaging slow circles on each of her smooth hips. She was tighter than he had imagined, a momentary smirk on his lips. Apparently Shane really was only half a man and not even the better half. Snorting, he shoved that thought aside, focusing on the sensations coursing throughout his body, moving in her, wanting her to feel the same way.

July moaned at the feeling of him sliding in and out of her, it was something she couldn't even begin to describe and, honestly, she didn't even want to try. Her legs wrapped around his waist, ankles locking, arching her body against him as she began finding a rhythm to meet him thrust for thrust. She was going on pure instinct, her heart pounding, pulse racing, mind spiraling out of control. Her hands ran up and down his chest, loving how the muscles rippled beneath her touch, barely grazing her nails as she whipped her head back against the pillow, her eyes drifting shut.

After a while, ‘Taker decided she was definitely ready for a new position, rolling over onto his back, pulling her with him. He rested his hands on her curvy hips, thrusting up into her, his green eyes hooded as he watched her, feeling her bracing herself on him, steadying herself. “Ride me, July.” He murmured, slowly guiding her hips, rolling her against him before sliding her up and down, watching her face intently.

This was definitely a new feeling as July whipped her head back, black hair cascading down her back and over her shoulders, her hands pressed against his chest. On instinct, July began rolling her hips forward and back, emanating a deep growl from ‘Taker and knew he was enjoying it. She felt his large, muscular hands cup her breasts, squeezing them before rolling her nipples between his forefinger and thumbs, causing her moans to become deeper. “Mmm...” She began meeting him thrust for thrust, running her fingers through her hair as her head tilted back, completely getting lost in the sensations that coursed through her, that was forcing her body to feel.

She had luscious breasts, definitely a view he didn't mind, caressing and teasing her pert nipples, watching them rise and fall with each of her movements. Reluctantly, he moved one hand down between her legs, eyes lighting up at the first caress on her clit, hearing another moan escaping July's lips. He reached up to grab the back of her neck, pulling her down against him, his feet braced on the bed so he could push up against her, rocking his hips with hers as he plundered her mouth.

July moved with him as her tongue entwined with his, moaning louder and slowly pulled back as she grabbed his shoulders, yanking him up off of the bed. Of course, he helped with it because ‘Taker was three times the size of her small frame. July smiled and wrapped her legs around his waist, her nails dragging up his back, over his shoulders and down his chest before attaching her lips to his neck. “Harder...‘Taker please...” She begged in his ear, her voice a sweet caress, feeling that familiar scorching within her, knowing she was close to exploding. She couldn't do it, not without him.

How could he deny that? Such a sweet plea from his angel. Once again he flipped July onto her back, parting her thighs with his hands and pounded into her, sweat beading on his forehead, feeling July thrashing underneath him, his own orgasm beginning to crest, his breath coming even more ragged than before. “Damn July...” He grunted, his hands skimming up her ribs to cup her breasts, lightly pinching her nipples, the bed hitting the wall with every thrust.

“Oh ‘Taker!” She cried out softly, feeling the power his arms exerted as she gripped them with her small hands, needing to hold onto him because of the sheer intensity this bout was bringing. She whimpered and moaned when he kissed her, driving himself deeper, harder and faster inside of her, that fire building rapidly within her. It wasn't going to be long now as July felt the coil inside of her spring, her blood on fire. With a few more thrusts, July was done as her thighs tensed, her nails digging into his arms as her walls caved in around him, wrapping his hardened shaft in a warm cocoon as he plummeted in and out of her, shrieking out his name. “‘TAKER!!!!!” Her vocal cords strained as her entire body broke out in tremors.

That was it, July screaming his name was his undoing. He thrust into her a few more times, finally sinking his cock deep inside her receptive body, his cum splashing against her back walls, filling her with his seed, truly making her his. “God July...” He hissed, his voice rough as he buried his face in her neck, his body twitching against hers, unable to stop it. His heart was beating a furious tattoo in his chest, feeling his cock still throbbing inside of her, albeit weakly, sliding out from her. His green eyes slowly opened as he pulled his head from her throat to stare into her blue orbs, brushing a damp tendril of hair off her forehead.

She'd collapsed back on the bed, her chest heaving dangerously as she tried to catch her breath, blue eyes staring up at the ceiling, slowly returning to their midnight blue, unclouded. She smiled as emerald gems came into her vision, caressing his face with her hand before dropping it at her side. She couldn't move. Every muscle in her body was aching deliciously. “I love you.” She managed to get out, her entire body coated in a fine sheen of sweat, the moonlight slicing through the window and bathing both of them in a glow.

He lay beside her, arms folded under his head. A smile graced his lips when he heard July's words, not returning them just yet because he was a bit worried his voice might break. 'Taker rolled onto his side, draping his arm just under her breasts, staring at her profile, his intense green eyes memorizing every feature, again. “I love you too, July.”

She snuggled against him, wanting to be as close to him as she possibly could, entwining their fingers together. “Rest ‘Taker. You look exhausted.” She softly said, feeling him spooning against her, their overheated bodies welcoming the cool night breeze that blew through the window, both sighing in contentment. Within moments, they were asleep, in each other's arms, refusing to ever let go.

Chapter 23

July was all smiles as they walked inside the arena, holding ‘Taker's hand, her long black hair now layered and went to the middle of her back. She'd gotten it professionally done before they left Houston, wanting a new look. She was wearing a deep purple and black skirt that had lace throughout it along with a matching tank top, her injuries completely gone. They'd taken two months off and July never thought she'd miss the smell of an arena, but apparently she did. Black eyeliner outlined her midnight blue eyes and clear gloss was on her lips along with black flats, just in case.

‘Taker had disbanded his Ministry, sending them all out to do their own thing. He'd be rather amused when the Acolytes instantly started raising hell, not so amused when they started calling him 'Takie' immediately after. Lucky for them he had mellowed out during those two months or he would have beaten the shit out of them for it, instead just settling for mild threats. He squeezed July's hand, glancing down at her out of his black sunglasses, wearing black jeans and a black leather vest with his hair pulled back by a bandana and his black boots on his feet. It was time for a new era.

Viscera and Mideon were still lurking around along with Edge and Christian, point blank refusing to leave July alone. They told ‘Taker he could beat them within an inch of their life, but they were not staying away from their adopted baby sister. July talked with ‘Taker about it and he agreed to let her hang out with them. She couldn't be with him twenty-four seven. She kept her head up, light sparkling in her blue eyes, no longer fearing to be herself. ‘Taker had shown her that over the past two months they were together in Houston.

“Paul!” She squealed and ran over to him, hugging him tightly around the neck, nearly cutting off his air supply.

After returning the hug, Paul gently untangled July from his neck, holding her at arm’s length to study her. The last time he had seen the pair was the night he had left, figuring giving them space would be the kindest thing he could do. That and it gave ‘Taker time to calm down just in case he was deciding Paul needed an ass beating.

“You're looking beautiful as ever, and roses in your cheeks.” He commented with a paternal smile.

“Thank you.” July blushed as ‘Taker came up behind her, smiling as his arm wrapped around her waist, leaning back against him before walking inside the dressing room. Paul and ‘Taker followed as she walked over and sat down on the plush couch, a lot better than a bench, and pulled her bag from her shoulder that had a few books and her Walkman in it. She would go stir crazy if she had nothing to do.

“Now technically, I'm behind the scenes strictly.” Paul said, watching as 'Taker slowly removed his shades. “With the Ministry gone I don't have much of a reason to remain, you've long passed the days where you need a manager.”

“Which is why I'm giving you a new job.”

Paul's eyebrows raised curiously.

“Someone has to keep July entertained when I'm busy. Just no notes.”

“You don't have to do that, Paul. I can entertain myself.” July replied with a smile, giving ‘Taker a pleading look. The man had went through enough with her, she didn't need a babysitter. ‘Taker had told July to start making decisions for herself, to even defend against him. At first she'd been VERY hesitant, but slowly got used to it.

‘Taker arched an eyebrow at July, aware Paul was busying himself elsewhere in the room. “I'm sure he doesn't mind.” He said slowly.

“Not at all, not at all, gives me something to do.” Paul chirped. “Unless of course, July, you feel like I'd be babysitting you that is not the intention.” He assured her.

“No of course not. I just don't want to burden you and I can be pretty boring.” She held up her Walkman and books as if to tell him she wouldn't be talking much.

Before she could say another word, her eyes turned to the monitor and tilted her head slightly. She began to tremble slightly when she seen Vince walk out with the Corporation, though a smirk formed on her lips when she didn't see Shane anywhere. She held her hand up when ‘Taker went to say something, walking over and turning it up, wanting to hear what Vince was going to say.

‘Taker shook his head, wondering what in the hell Vince could say that would ever interest July, focusing his attention on the monitor, folding his arms over his chest.

Vince smirked as he got in the ring, adjusting the collars of his shirt before glancing out over the audience, finally raising the microphone to his lips. “Now tonight, I happened to notice a couple made their return to MY show.” He chuckled, shaking his head. “‘Taker, ‘Taker, ‘Taker...You and that trash you like to insist is a woman...”

Now he was pissed.

July didn't let that bother her, no tears shining in her eyes, squeezing ‘Taker's hand when he took hers, giving her the comfort he knew she needed. Over the past two months, ‘Taker had slowly brought July out of her shell. She wasn't afraid to speak her mind, though she knew when she crossed a line with ‘Taker. She knew when to leave him alone and vice versa. They'd had fights, but it always wound up with them in bed together, naked, showing each other how much they loved each other. She kissed his hand and patted it reassuringly, her eyes never leaving the monitor.

“Now...it's also been brought to my attention that you have disbanded your Ministry.” Vince waited as boos cascaded around him, shrugging at the fans. “Wise decision, smart move. However, you have yet to pay for your actions regarding...my son Shane.”

The only thing stopping him from going out to that ring and beating the shit out of Vince was Paul's bulk blocking the door.

July stood up, ready to follow ‘Taker out the door as he moved Paul aside, but they both froze when Linda's music suddenly flooded the arena, causing her blue eyes to widen. July turned her gaze back to the monitor, releasing ‘Taker's hand. What the hell was her aunt doing on Raw?

Hunter was shocked as he glanced at Vince, whose eyeballs looked like they were about to pop out of their sockets. The rest of the Corporation looked the same way, especially when the very classy Linda McMahon stood on the top stage.

Linda smiled, nodding acknowledgement at the fans as they cheered her, waiting for them to quiet down, her blue eyes on her husband. “Vince, Vince, Vince,” She echoed him mockingly, the warm smile never leaving her face though her eyes were ice. “I've come to RAW tonight to share something with you…”

“You can share it with me at home.” He interrupted with a lascivious wink, inwardly fuming. She had left him months ago and this was the first time he had seen her since she had walked out his front door.

July felt her heart rate quicken, swallowing hard, and suddenly bolted out the door, skidding to a halt at a monitor she seen right by gorilla position. She didn't even see Edge and Christian walk up behind her, trembling from head to toe, tears forming in her eyes. She couldn't breathe and jumped when she felt Christian's hand on her shoulder, Edge on her other side. She was worried sick about her aunt and pressed her hands together as she closed her eyes, praying nothing happened to Linda.

Edge seen ‘Taker coming and nodded silently at him, trying to get July to sit down, but she merely shrugged him off.


“Vince, you know better, I left you months ago.” She said, deadpan.

Even ‘Taker smirked at the look on Vince's face at her words, the fans deafening the arena yet again.

“No Vince, I came tonight to let you know I've decided to step down from my position as CEO.” Linda said, holding up a hand when he applauded her, her face growing dead serious. “And I wanted to let you know, PERSONALLY, that I've also named my successor. This person not only will take my place as CEO, but will inherit my interest in the WWF, my CONTROLLING interest,” She paused to let all this sink in, seeing the confusion and slight panic on his face. “My successor is...July MCMAHON!”

She couldn't breathe, she couldn't think, she couldn't move from that spot she stood at, her jaw dropped, eyes as wide as they would possibly go.

Edge was standing there with his mouth dropped open as well along with his brother, not even blinking, the shock welled up in their systems.

Hunter was standing there looking like a regular fish out of water, the ENTIRE Corporation's jaws dropped while JR and King were screaming in the headsets over the roar of the fans.

“JR!! D-Did she j-just say...”


He hid his shock, a slow smirk crossing his face as he glanced down at July, chuckling. “That's your cue, July.” He said, lacing his fingers with hers, gently pulling her towards the curtain.

Linda didn't even jump when the Undertaker's music came on, though she did notice the Corporation did. She turned to watch him escorting a shocked July out, smiling and applauding her niece.

“Auntie...” She whispered and sighed when Linda pulled her into a tight embrace, a few tears sliding down her cheeks, still in somewhat shock.


She nodded at something Linda whispered in her ear before the microphone was handed to her, causing her to blink as she stared around at the erupting arena. What the hell was she supposed to say? Her midnight blue eyes looked down the ramp way and into the ring at her bewildered uncle, suddenly feeling a fire erupt inside of her, her eyes lighting up.


“As far as your son goes, Vince, he deserved what he got for what he did to me.” She smiled when the crowd roared, not releasing ‘Taker's hand. “It looks as though the shift in power has come to the dark side.”

“No! NO! HELL NO!” Vince roared, his face going beet red with anger, jerking around the ring like an idiot before glaring at July and ‘Taker. Vince was ready to piss himself. “There is NO way that TRAMP is going to run MY company!” He snarled as Linda just nodded her head, mouthing 'oh yes she is'. “You can't give her that kind of power! She's with the UNDERTAKER, dear lord woman are you mad?” Those last words came out in a rush.

Linda just shrugged.

The look on his face was PURE evil.

July looked thoroughly amused as she watched her uncle prance around the ring looking like a chicken with his head cut off. “I do believe it's OUR company now, Vinnie Mac.” July's voice had an evil tint to it as her eyes suddenly narrowed to slits. “You're going to pay. Every single one of you in that ring is going to pay for what happened to me, for what you allowed THEM to do!” She pointed at her uncle, shaking slightly, pulling her hand from ‘Taker's. “I'm going to make you regret everything you've ever done to me, Vince. I'm going to make YOUR life a living hell! Do you know how I'm going to do that?” When Vince paled, a maniacal smile formed on July's face, making her look purely evil. “You DO realize who I'm with right?” She felt ‘Taker's arm snake around her waist, leaning back against him. “The man who wanted to marry your precious princess daughter Stephanie and you USED me as leverage against him. Guess what, Vinnie Mac, your plan BACKFIRED!”

Oh this was simply too sweet. He laughed demonically, green eyes filled with wicked intentions. He had spent the better part of a year trying to take control of this company and look how things turned out. Vince gave him his niece. Linda gave her niece the power. And now the niece loved him. ‘Taker could see the cogs going in Vince's mind, obviously trying to work a solution out.

He reached for July's microphone, his voice a dark baritone as he said, “Your Hell on earth begins tonight, McMahon.”

Vince wet himself.

“Consider this your ONLY warning.” The music sounded as the smoke rose around them, the arena blanketing in darkness as July felt ‘Taker take her to the back. She was laughing so hard as he set her down, not believing this. “Auntie, are you sure this is what you want?” July asked once they were fully backstage, staring into her blue eyes. She smiled when Linda nodded, hugging her again before Linda went on her way out of the arena, not wanting to hear her husband's rage once he came through those curtains.

“HOLY SHIT YOU'RE THE NEW CEO!!!” Edge bellowed, spinning July around in circles, Christian following.

She laughed as Christian put her down, hugging him close, and kissed his cheek. “I think my first order of business is to give you two a tag-team title shot against the Dudley Boys, sound good?”

Christian could only nod, blinking, still in a daze. “Am I dreaming?”

‘Taker punched him.

“Ow, no...I'm not.” He groaned, looking up at the big man. “Sheesh, smile why don't you?”

“Oh if I know ‘Taker he's probably grinning on the inside right about now.” Paul said, coming forward to hug July next.

His only reply was to arch one eyebrow.

Chapter 24

July had a headache-no it was a migraine. Edge and Christian had become tag-team champions and she congratulated them, only to be doused from head to toe in champagne. She laughed and changed, now wearing black cargo pants with a black tank top, having brought a change of clothes after her appearance. Her uncle had tried coming in ‘Taker's locker room, only for him to wind up being sent to the emergency room, which she found downright amusing. The man obviously thought he was invincible and ‘Taker proved him wrong. Then she had the Divas coming to her, demanding title shots for the Women's Championship. So she put them all in a fatal four way -Sable, Terri, Tori and Ivory- to see who the new champion would be. Then there was the Intercontinental title, which she had The Rock face Ken Shamrock and The Big Show in a triple threat match. To say she was exhausted was an understatement.

“GO AWAY!” She finally shouted when another knock sounded on the dressing room door.

“July, I want in on the women's championship match!” Jackie yelled through the door, more than pissed that her friend Terri had been involved, but not her. “C'mon girl, nobody wants to see them bitches’ scrap-”

‘Taker had lost his temper, opened the door and wrapped a hand around her throat, dangling her at his eye level, which meant a long ways from the ground for her. “She said go away.” He said gravely.

Jackie nodded mutely.

“Fine, make it a five-way match or whatever.” She grumbled, waving her off dismissively, her head pounding. What the hell had Linda been thinking giving her this much power? “Thank you.” She whispered after Jackie ran off to rub it in her friend's face that she was part of the title match that night on Raw. Linda had come out at the beginning and dropped the bombshell.

“‘T-Taker, may I have a word with July?” Michael Cole asked as he stepped up to the door, shaking like a leaf.

She stood up and stared at the announcer, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “Yes Mr. Cole?” She asked politely.

“July, we all know how obsessed Undertaker is in becoming the WWF champion, what are your thoughts?”

Slowly raising an eyebrow, July stared at him long and hard before stepping back. “Then I guess ‘Taker will have his title shot.” She slammed the door in Michael Cole's face before going back to lie down.

Considering that little prick had just asked that IN FRONT of the obsessed Undertaker...Cracking his knuckles, he stormed outside the room, closing the door behind him. ‘Taker watched as Cole gave a startled shriek and ran, catching the much smaller man by the back of his neck before he'd moved a foot. “Not very smart, are you?” He hissed, dragging Cole down the hallway. “I sincerely hope you're not terrified of heights.”

Sighing heavily when another knock came at the door, July slowly stood up and walked over, staring back into the ice cold blue eyes of Steve Austin. “May I help you?” She asked tiredly, rubbing her eyes, wondering if her aunt did this to her purposely. Granted, she had power now to use against her uncle, but this was a little too much, especially on her first night. Why did ‘Taker have to lose his temper with Vince?

He eyed the tired woman in front of him, arching a pale eyebrow. “You need to appoint a Commissioner.” He said after a moment. “To deal with everybody and if you don't like a decision, then override it. Now...I'm here because of 'Taker. He ain't earned a title shot and just because he's yer boyfriend don't mean he deserves it either.” He was a blunt man and wasn't sugar coating shit for her.

“My aunt already did that, he'll be here next week.” She replied softly, really not in the mood to deal with this arrogant man, but deep down knew he was right regarding ‘Taker. Though the fact that he was trying to tell her what to do was fueling her anger as well. “I suggest you get out of here right now before he returns and shows you what it means to be a real champion. The match is still on.” She slammed the door in his face and went back to lay down.

Steve stared at the door, hardly believing this little bitch. Snorting, he kicked in the doorknob, pushing the door open and walked over to drag her off the couch. “Listen here girl, I don't care how well he's fuckin' ya, don't equate sex with love when it comes to 'Taker.” He clamped a hand over her mouth when she went to say something. “I don't have a problem with you July, I don't want to have one either. But if you want to earn respect from the people you apparently are gonna be workin' with, then make the right decisions. Think with yer head, not yer heart or what's between yer legs.” He didn't bother to tell her that apparently 'Taker was stringing Michael Cole from the rafters and would probably be occupied a while longer. Grunting, he stormed out of the room.

She just stood there, tears filling her blue eyes, and had to learn how to breathe because he'd scared her to death. Taking a few deep breaths, July walked into the bathroom and splashed cold water on her face before looking in the mirror. Make the right decisions. Did ‘Taker deserve a title shot? “What am I going to do?” She whispered, feeling like such a failure and shook her head back and forth. Deciding she needed some advice, July reapplied her black eyeliner and rushed out of the dressing room, locating Paul in the cafeteria. “Help me.” Her eyes were pleading with him as she sat down in front of him, raking a hand through her black hair. “I need to know what to do about this title shot with ‘Taker and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Please Paul, tell me what to do.”

Paul stared at July, shock in his eyes. He took a bite of his sandwich, giving himself time to think about that one. Finally, after chewing and swallowing he sighed. “July, any decision you make is going to leave someone feeling mad.” He said gently. “Tell me what has you so upset.” He took her hand in his, squeezing gently.

Swallowing hard, July took a deep breath and squeezed his hand in return, shaking slightly. “Steve Austin paid me a visit earlier,” She began quietly, not wanting anyone else to overhear this. “H-He said Taker doesn't deserve a title shot and...I shouldn't be thinking with my heart, but what's best for the company. He said to earn respect, make the right decisions.” She lowered her head, her black hair pulled back in a high messy bun. “I don't know what to do, Paul.”

Oh how come he knew he was going to regret ever entering into this conversation?

“He was right, July.” He said slowly, knowing if she wanted to be accepted and respected she'd have to forge her own path and not let 'Taker dissuade her. “You have to put what's best for the company first, and that does include making the wrestlers earn their title shots. ‘Taker...deserves a shot, but after he's beaten other people who deserve that as well. He has been gone several months. If you give him this match tonight, you will have to deal with a general backlash from the wrestlers, and it will be because you are 'Taker's woman.” He was going to die, he knew it.

July nodded, seeing the fear enter Paul's eyes, and kissed his cheek in reassurance. “Nothing is going to happen.” She promised, her eyes showing him the truth. If anyone would suffer, it would be her. “Thank you.” She then walked out of the cafeteria and headed toward the gorilla position, deciding she needed to make an announcement. The Undertaker's music started as she walked out on the stage, taking a deep breath, knowing she was doing what she thought best for the company. ‘Don't hate me ‘Taker.’ She thought as the music was cut. “As most of you know, tonight, I told Michael Cole that I was giving the Undertaker a title shot...” She held her hand up when the crowd began to boo a little. “I've decided to change that up a bit. Tonight, there's going to be a match in that ring, but instead of it being for the WWF title, I've decided to make it a number one contender match. It will be the Undertaker against The Rock and whoever wins that match will go on to face Stone Cold Steve Austin at the next pay-per-view.” The music hit as she walked back through gorilla position.

Steve was leaning against the far wall and nodded at her when she walked through the curtains, his blue eyes warmer than they had been earlier.

When he had heard that, he left Cole tied to a stage light and climbed down from the catwalk, shoving people out of his way.

“Shit, shit, shit ,shit, shit.” Christian muttered, beginning to run when he seen 'Taker coming. “July!” He shrieked, trying to warn her before eating the wall.

He almost ripped the hinges off the door, staring at her out of flashing green eyes. “Care to repeat that?”

“You've been gone for two months, ‘Taker.” She was growing used to his anger so the flashing of his green eyes didn't scare her...much. “Are you telling me you can't defeat The Rock?” She decided to contradict him, crossing her arms in front of her chest, tilting her head to the side. “Because, I was under the impression that you could defeat anyone in the WWF. Was I wrong?” She knew she was probably going to eat her words, but he had told her and FORCED her to stick up for herself. So she was doing it. She was doing what he told her to do. “I want to be respected, not another pushover like my dear uncle and his pathetic excuse for offspring. Please, see this from my point of view.”

His gaze was pure acid as he stared down at her, finally chuckling. Reaching out, ‘Taker pulled July into his arms, leaning down to kiss the top of her head. “You're right.” He said, smiling at her though it didn't quite reach his eyes. “I WILL beat The Rock and then, my title shot.” He said gently, deciding if she wanted him to prove himself, he would. He wouldn't, however, be held responsible when Rocky left the arena on a stretcher.

A huge breath of relief escaped her when he pulled her into his arms, hugging him back, glad he had seen things from her perspective. “Thank you. I know you'll do great.” She said confidently and slowly pulled away from him, going back to sit on the couch. She knew he was upset with her, but at least he wasn't going postal on her or anything. He would never hurt her, July knew that, but it still lingered in the back of her mind from time to time. Steve Austin had been right though along with Paul, she wasn't going to be a pushover like her uncle. She was going to do things fairly, like Linda.

“I'm going to get around for my...match.” He snorted, picking up his duffel bag and heading for the door, deciding he'd use the men's common locker room instead of the private dressing room, knowing she probably wanted to lay down. “Oh yeah, you should probably send someone to get Cole down from the rafters.” He added as an afterthought before walking out the door.

Her head snapped up when he said that, eyes wide and groaned before rushing out of the dressing room, wondering who she could get to help Michael Cole. That was the side July dreaded seeing from ‘Taker, his temper sometimes got the better of him. “Christian come here!” She ordered frantically, raking a hand through her black hair. “I need you to find someone to get Michael Cole from the rafters. ‘Taker.” That's all she needed to say as he rushed off, causing her to lean back against the wall and closed her eyes. Linda had gotten her in a bind, but she would work through it. July was a survivor at heart.

When Christian couldn't find anyone, he went up to the catwalk himself, groaning when he seen the terrified Cole pressed against a hot stage light. He examined the knots and frowned. “I have to go get a knife, I'll be right back, okay?” He pulled off his shirt and tucked it between Cole's back and the lamp, knowing that had to be hurting right about now. “I'll be back, promise!”

After Michael Cole had been rescued, with second degree burns on his back- which forced July to send him to the hospital for treatment- she went back to the dressing room and sat down on the couch. Something had to be done about ‘Taker's temper. She was angry at him for doing that to an innocent human being. Though she didn't show it, deciding to take another approach. If he wanted to act like a jackass, she would treat him like one. She didn't say a word to him when he walked in from changing, reading her book, one leg crossed over the other, a neutral expression on her face.

He dropped down into a metal folding chair, reading the cover of her book before running a brush through his wet hair, tipping his head forehead so it hung towards the floor. “Having a better night?” He asked, frowning when he didn't get any answer, but the turning of a page. ‘Taker peered at her through his long curtain of hair, arching an eyebrow. “July?”

She just slowly looked up at him from her book, her eyes narrowed slightly, before going back to reading. She was not going to speak a word to him, no matter what he did, until he stopped with his temper. Poor Michael Cole. He was probably in a lot of pain right now. July had taken the liberty of sending him flowers, with a card from both her and ‘Taker, though he didn't need to know that. She felt him walk over and sit beside her, still not moving a muscle or budge an inch. This was how she dealt with his tempers, the silent treatment.

As far as he could recall, he hadn't done anything to her recently so he didn't see the reason for the silent treatment. ‘Taker reached for her book, gently tugging it from July's hands. “More astrology?” He tried again, his eyes skimming the pages. Still no response. “July, I'm not a mind reader so if you want me to apologize for something, you need to tell me what I did wrong first.”

“You gave Michael Cole second degree burns when you decided to let that temper of yours get the better of you and hung him up on the catwalk.” She stated evenly before standing up, ripping her hand out of his grasp when he grabbed it. July wrapped her arms around herself, not believing he actually thought that was alright to do to someone else. “He was merely doing his job and now he's in the hospital being treated.” She shook her head and started for the door, needing some fresh air.

He stood up, staring down at her. “I've killed and you didn't seem so concerned then.” He reminded her, watching her shoulders stiffen before she continued on her way. Snorting, he flipped his hair over his shoulders, green eyes narrowing with anger. But he wouldn't vent it on July, oh no, he loved her too much to hurt her. The Rock, however, was a different matter entirely. His nostrils flared, wondering who in the hell had been putting notions and these damn ideas about respect into her head to begin with?

It would be like him to throw that in her face, but July wasn't going to let it bother her.

Chapter 25

For the remainder of the night, she stayed in Edge and Christian's dressing room. Edge had been hesitant, but Christian was all for her and she was glad for him. She loved him like a brother after all and leaned against him, telling Edge what ‘Taker had done, since Christian already knew. All Christian had said was that's who ‘Taker was. July didn't want to believe that, but that all flew out the window when she seen him tombstone The Rock on the outside before choke slamming him through an announcer's table. July swallowed hard, her blue eyes widened as she began to slightly tremble, the match being No Holds Barred. She wasn't surprised when ‘Taker won his match and became the number one contender. She'd done the right thing, it wasn't her fault what the wrestlers did.

He stared down at Rock, his blood pumping from their match, frowning when the young fool tried to get to his feet. “Stay down.” He ordered gravely, not amused by this show of insolence. When The Rock ignored that, he planted a boot against the other man's head, watching as the rookie slipped into unconsciousness, smirking. Just because he had been gone two months did not mean people should forget who he was. Tossing his hair back from his face, he rolled his eyes into the back of his head.

“And that is why I should have kept my mouth shut.” Paul groaned, turning off the monitor he had been watching.

Cruel. That's the only word that went through her mind as July slowly stood, kissing Christian's cheek, thanking him for letting her stay in here before walking out. She wasn't going to cry, she wasn't going to yell at him. Nope. It wouldn't do any good. July simply walked back in the dressing room, knowing the EMT's were on their way out to carry The Rock back on a stretcher and take him to the hospital. She mutely walked around the room, picking up her things and packed them in her bag, knowing they were going to be leaving shortly.

He walked backstage, wiping sweat from his face, ignoring the distrustful looks he received and stood back to watch as EMT's carefully wheeled Rocky through the curtain, green eyes narrowed. That was one less peon in his way. Cracking his neck and rolling his shoulders, he headed for the dressing room, walking in to see July ready to leave already. He didn't bother with changing, just picked up his bag and stared at her. “Ready?”

She nodded and walked out in front of him, not holding his hand like normal. She sighed when they were in the car and stared out the window, pressing her forehead to the cool glass, looking at the city lights as they passed by. She didn't speak a word to him when they arrived at the hotel room, letting him take a shower first, knowing he needed one after his massacre. She changed into a lavender nightgown and walked out on the balcony, letting the breeze blow through her hair, sadness in her blue eyes. Where was the ‘Taker that made sweet passionate love to her in Houston? Where was he? Why did he have such drastic changes in his moods? ‘That's who he is’ Christian's words echoed in her mind, causing her eyes to fill with tears. She blinked them away though, knowing she loved ‘Taker and he loved her.

After his relaxing hot shower and changing into black pajama bottoms, all ‘Taker wanted to do was crawl in bed and hold her. Maybe rouse her enough for some love making, his way of apologizing for whatever he had apparently done, but...July wasn't in bed. Raking a hand through his hair, he spotted her out on the balcony, walking out behind her. He looped his arms around her waist, pulling her back against him.

“What's on your mind, July?” He whispered, kissing the side of her neck.

Did she tell him or did she just turn around and let him carry her to the bed? She didn't want any more confrontation tonight and turned around, bringing his face down to hers. She was so angry at him for what he'd done, but she'd have to get used to it. She sighed when he kissed her back, wrapping her arms around his neck, feeling him lift her up and carry her back into the hotel room. Her back connected with the bed as ‘Taker hovered over her, their lips never leaving one another's, a soft moan escaping her lips. This was how he apologized to her and she didn't mind it. She knew from now on whatever she did when it came to him, he would take it out on his opponent. July hated that, but there was nothing she could do to stop it.

Taker caught July's wrists in his hand, pinning them over her head and pulled back to stare down at her. He would make love to her, he would apologize to her. AFTER he knew what the hell he had done to piss her off in the first place. “Why were you ignoring me?” He asked softly, reading the desire in her eyes and knew this had been the perfect time to ask, leaning down to kiss her again. “Hmm?”

This was not fair!! He played dirty and she hated it, kissing him back, knowing he wouldn't quench her thirst until she came clean. “I told you about Michael Cole...” When he shook his head, she bit her bottom lip, trying to free her wrists from his grasp. That wasn't happening. “‘Taker, I don't want to fight tonight, please.” Her blue eyes were pleading with him to just forget about it, knowing that wouldn't happen either. Why did he have to be so damn stubborn? “You let your temper get the better of you tonight. Just because I put you in a number one contender's match instead of giving you what you wanted.” She finally decided to come clean. “Steve Austin came to the dressing room earlier in the night and said some things that made sense.” She knew he would NOT like hearing that, especially since he HATED that man, but he wanted her to come clean so she was.

“He WHAT?” ‘Taker roared, letting go of her wrists and sitting up, astride her now. His green eyes were back to that dangerous acid color again. “Why didn't you tell me, July?” He demanded angrily, glaring down at her. “Why the hell would you NOT tell me? Is that why the doorknob was broken?” He clenched his fists when she nodded. “What exactly happened, hmm?”

She was trembling against him, seeing just how angry he was, and knew she should've kept her mouth shut. “Nothing.” She whispered softly. “H-He just told me that...that if I wanted to gain respect that I shouldn't be...thinking with my heart.” She wouldn't look at him, no way, she could FEEL how pissed off he was and swallowed hard. “He told me that...you had to earn your...spot as the number one contender, that's it. I was rather rude to him when he first came to the door, which is why he kicked it in, he talked to me, that's it. I swear.”

“He told you not to think with your heart?” He snarled, rolling his eyes. “And you LISTENED to him? Knowing how much I detest this man, you LISTENED to him?” ‘Taker could simply not believe this. His love, his life…had gone against him simply because Stone Cold Steve Austin told her too? “Earn a spot? That belt is MINE, I shouldn't have to earn a damn thing July. Do you have any idea how long I’ve been in the WWF?” He snorted, pushing away from her and getting off the bed.

“That's not the only reason, ‘Taker!” She shouted, backing up with wide blue eyes when his head snapped to stare at her with those dangerous green pools. “He was right, ‘Taker. I can't think with my heart, I can't favor you. Do you have any idea of the backlash I would receive from the other Superstars if I just HANDED you a title shot after you being gone for two months?” She was using Paul's words, refusing to bring him into this conversation. She made him a promise, she would deal with the backlash. “I'm not going to favor you like Vince!” She spat shakily, tears welled in her eyes. “If you want to be the champion, fine, but you're going to EARN it like everyone else in the company.”

“Favor me? Vince didn't favor me, my dear, or didn't you notice?” ‘Taker roared, running his arm across the table, sending its contents to the floor angrily. “I have worked for EVERYTHING I've gotten from that company and I proved it tonight when I defeated that BOY you put me in the ring against. If you wish me to EARN my title, then so be it. But do NOT ever keep something from me again, July. Do you understand me?”

“I meant I wasn't going to be like Vince, not that he favored you!” She blinked, seeing everything sprawled on the floor, slowly sliding from the bed as her knees shook. She was scared to death and it showed, but she had to stay strong. “You destroyed that man simply because you were mad at me! Is that how it's going to be ‘Taker? Every time I defy you or do something that angers you, you're going to hurt innocent people?” She was no longer in the mood for sex, in fact, she didn't even want to be in the same room as him. “I didn't tell you because you were too busy BURNING Michael Cole's back with a light on the catwalk!”

“Given that the man apparently had the balls to insult me on national television, IN FRONT of me, I'd say he needed a reminder of just who I am.” He said, no remorse in his eyes. Folding his arms over his chest, he stared impassively down at July. “You know me and you know how I am. I have maimed and killed for you. I have no regret for anything I have ever done and I will not start now. This is who I am July.”

“He didn't insult you. He said you were obsessed with the WWF title, which you are.” She stated matter-of-factly, dropping her head, raking a hand through her black hair. “Please stop reminding me of what you've done for me.” She whispered painfully, not wanting to hear about them. He threw that at her every time they fought and she was tired of it. “I know what you've done and I know who you are.” She walked away from him and went back on the balcony, needing a minute to herself, closing her eyes to keep the tears in.

But ‘Taker wasn't going to give her a minute. He followed her out there, whipping July around and forcing her to meet his eyes. “Then knowing all that, why are you angry with me?” He whispered, anguish in his green orbs. “You know me better than anyone else does and you punish me for it by refusing to acknowledge my presence?”

“I'm sorry.” She whispered, hating to see the anguish in his green eyes, knowing what kind of man he was. She knew. She wasn't stupid. He was a monster, but he never treated her badly. “I won't...do it again.” She sniffled, a few tears falling down her cheeks, knowing she'd been in the wrong. Sighing, July wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing herself against him. “I can't be like him, ‘Taker.” She murmured softly. “So...I just hope you don't hate me for some of the things I may do. I have to be fair, I can't favor you all the time.”

“That's fine July, I do understand that.” He whispered, kissing the top of her head, rubbing his hands up and down her back soothingly. “I just can't stand the thought of you hating me for...” He trailed off. ‘Taker was well aware his temper was terrifying and his mood swings left everyone around him on pins and needles, but that was just who he was. He was a volatile man. “Forget it, let's go to bed, July. I want to hold you, if you'll allow it.”

“I could never hate you.” She whispered, pulling back to look him in the eyes when she said that, running her thumb across his soft lips. “I love you, ‘Taker, regardless of your tempers and mood swings. I love you for who you are in here...” She pressed her hand over his heart, which was beating furious against her palm. “I've learned to accept it, I just get angry at times so you're going to have to deal with that too. Just promise me one thing...” When he encouraged her to continue, July took a deep breath. “Whatever happens in the WWF, whatever I happen to do, you won't hate me for.” She bit her bottom lip.

That was a bit ominous and he gathered July would probably being doing a lot of things in the federation that he wasn't going to like. But her asking him not to hate her because of it made warning bells fire off in his head. “I could never hate you, July.” He whispered, raising her hand to his lips and kissing her fingertips slowly, trying to reassure her. He had seen the fear in her eyes earlier and that had hurt him more than anything else. No matter how angry he got he had never laid a hand on July, ever. And he never would.

She smiled softly back at him and took his hand, guiding him back inside their room. She crawled in bed under the comforter and waited for him to join her before spooning up against him. She knew neither of them were in the mood now, especially after their fight, and she didn't mind. Though she couldn't help worrying how many more fights they were going to have now that she was the CEO of the WWF. Linda had a funny way of showing her love and July wondered if this was going to destroy their relationship. Was that Linda’s motive all along? July couldn't fathom her aunt betraying her as her eyes slowly closed, feeling his warm body pressed against her, holding her tight against him.

He buried his face in her hair, feeling his body relaxing though his mind was running a mile a minute. He'd deal with Stone Cold on his own time. This way July wasn't held liable for anything, rage flaring for an instant at how ballsy that mother fucker had been, kicking in a door to talk to her? He knew more than what July had said had happened, doors did not get kicked in over nothing.

Chapter 26

The following week, July walked inside the arena, black shades on top of her head with a black and dark green corset top on, black skirt with knee high boots, knowing she had to make an appearance regarding the pay-per-view, which was Sunday. She was exhausted, though her uncle had been released from the hospital and taking care of his half of the company. She walked inside ‘Taker's dressing room, which was now her office, a desk set up with a computer and July McMahon name plate on the front, causing her to shake her head. She walked over, setting her bag down and sat down, seeing the comfortable furniture, black leather.

‘Taker froze in the doorway, turning his head to read the plaque on the door “CEO/Undertaker.” He rolled his eyes, looking into the room and snorted. “July, I'm going to go use the men's common room tonight.” He said, not in the mood to deal with the shit that would undoubtedly be coming her way. That and if he was around and he heard something he didn't like he'd probably go flying off the handle. This made it easier all the way around on them both.

She could only nod back at him. “Alright, if you want I can get us separate rooms from now on.” She turned her computer on and took her sunglasses off, setting them on the desk before digging some files out of her bag. She had a meeting at three with the Corporate Headquarters, which she would be attending via satellite along with her uncle. She snorted at the thought with a roll of her eyes that was going to be just LOADS of fun.

‘Taker felt like he should say something to her, explain that it wasn't HER, but her JOB, though he couldn't find the words. Walking over to kiss her forehead, he squeezed July's shoulder before walking out. Though this did have its perks. He'd be able to keep tabs on Austin all the more easily.

Christian slipped into the room as soon as 'Taker was gone. “You two fighting or something?” He asked.

“No, he just doesn't want to be around in case I make decisions he might not like.” She replied with a soft smile, patting a seat beside her, crossing one leg over the other. She sighed when Christian visibly cringed. “He won't hurt me.” She had to keep reassuring him, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. “We're fine, Christian. I love him and he loves me. He said he would never hurt me and he hasn't. I can't stop him from having his tempers and mood swings, because that's who he is and I can't fault him for it.”

Christian really did not want to burst her bubble so he just nodded, raking a hand through his hair. He respected the Undertaker. He had a LOT of respect for the man, but he didn't trust him. You simply do not trust people who slap women and break their faces. You do not trust people who embalm other people alive. Granted, Christian had done his fair share of violence, but his wasn't driven by insanity either.

“How's it feel to be the new tag team champion?” She asked, changing the subject, knowing Christian had his doubts about ‘Taker. July did too, but that wouldn't stop her from loving him any less. He would never hurt her and she believed him. He took care of her, clothed her, changed her from a girl to a woman in a matter of months. He was her prince charming in a sick, twisted sort of way. She seen her email pop up and opened the message, rolling her eyes before deleting it. “Junk.”

Clearing his throat, Christian decided a change of topic was in order, since July wouldn't hear a word against the Deadman. He supposed he couldn't blame her. ‘Taker had been the first person to show her true kindness. He'd cared for July even when he had no reason to at all, which still confounded Christian to this day, but...he wasn't a mind reader and even if he was, he could think of better things to do then delve into the Undertaker's mind. Like getting a root canal without the Novocain for instance. “So how are you liking the job, Miss CEO?”

“Exhausting, but apparently I've been the balance this place needs.” She smiled at her best friend, leaning back in her chair and sighed when her reminder popped up, knowing her meeting was in ten minutes. “Oh, I wanted to inform you that the Dudley Boys have put their rematch clause in so you two will have to defend your titles tonight on Raw against them.” She sighed when Christian groaned, patting his shoulder reassuringly. “They're pushovers. You can do it.” She winked and smirked when he grumbled, kissing his cheek. “Now go on, I have a meeting to attend and you have a title match to prepare for. Let Edge know.”

Growling playfully under his breath, Christian walked around the desk to hug July briefly then left, knowing Edge would be THRILLED about that. The Dudley Boys enjoyed putting people through tables and so far, they'd avoided it.

July had put the stipulation out that if the Dudley Boys tried putting Edge and Christian through a table, they were going to forfeit their title shot on the spot. They weren't happy about that, but July didn't care. She was going to be fair, damn it! Sighing, the meeting began as she appeared via satellite, nodding at everyone, even her uncle reluctantly. “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, shall we get started?” Her tone was purely professional as she smiled innocently, knowing her uncle was loathing her right now.

Vince still owned half the company and knew he could veto anything she said or contradict it. The board would eventually decide who to go with. Hopefully July would be a good little bitch and just keep her mouth shut.

“We want to discuss your ideas for the pay-per-view as only a handful of matches have officially been announced.”

July owned the other half so if her uncle wanted to keep his little company alive, he would keep HIS mouth shut. She knew what he was thinking and simply leaned back against her chair, looking over her notes. “We already know Stone Cold is going to defend the WWF title against the Undertaker. I made sure he earned it too, Vince.” She pointedly shot that at him, knowing he was going to try running his mouth before smiling at the others. “I have seen dissention among D-Generation-X and have decided Triple H and Chyna will face X-Pac and Road Dogg in an inter-gender tag team match.” She was going to split the Corporation up one way or another and DARED her uncle to contradict her, especially since the others were eating up her ideas.

“Wait one damn minute, they're in the Corporation.” Vince interrupted, not failing his niece's expectations. “Shane is due back any day now, it is HIS decision what to do with the Corporation, not yours, July.”

“Actually Vince, in the long run, it's up to us.” The senior board member said, smiling politely. “So you can each try to sell us on why we should or should not allow this match and we'll consider it, Miss McMahon?”

“I think it would be a great match, especially with how much tension the group has had recently.” She replied softly, folding her hands and resting her chin on them with a smile. “Though if you feel that this match wouldn't live up to its potential, then I will disregard it.” When they agreed with her, July felt triumphant. “Now as for the Intercontinental title, I think The Rock deserves a rematch against Ken Shamrock.” The Rock had recently left the Corporation while Ken Shamrock stayed behind.

“The Rock is still in the hospital and has a concussion.” Vince interjected with a sigh because he did agree on that match. “His physician confirmed an hour ago that he will be in no condition to compete this Sunday.” His face was now reddening. “Which he would have been if you could keep better control of the Undertaker.”

Now that the board agreed with Vince on. “How is Michael Cole's condition, by the way?”

“He's progressing nicely, he should be released from the hospital by tomorrow. Now Vince, forgive me, but I thought you were in charge of ALL the wrestlers?” She quipped amusedly, raising an eyebrow. “I mean unless I'm mistaken, you ARE the Chairman, correct? The CEO is responsible for the matches, not how the wrestlers act. That, I believe, is the Chairman's job.” She was right when her uncle's face turned crimson red and leaned back in her chair. “I am truly sorry about The Rock, but like I said, it is YOUR responsibility to handle your wrestlers, SIR.”

“Actually Miss McMahon...” He cleared his throat uncomfortably, liking this young woman much better than Vince. “Because your uncle was incapacitated that night…by the Undertaker and in no condition to make decisions let alone take charge of the superstars, that job fell onto you. So you are responsible for the Undertaker's actions concerning RAW.”

Now it was Vince looking smug.

July sighed heavily, now remembering that. “Forgive me that was my first night. I'm still trying to adjust to this job.” Her smile didn't falter as she rubbed her temples, trying to get control of this situation. “My apologies, Vince.” She couldn't believe those words just came out of her mouth, but there it was. “The Undertaker's actions will not be taken lightly. He will not lose his title shot, but he will be heavily fined for what he did.” She hated saying that, but knew as the CEO, she couldn't play favorites. “Is that acceptable?”

“That is acceptable.” Vince agreed, smirking. He knew she would have rather bitten off her tongue than apologize to him and cleared his throat. “While we're on the subject of responsibilities, I agree as chairman that I am held accountable for the superstars actions, but...the Undertaker is a perfect example that when the Commissioner -who as far as I know is still July- makes a decision that not everyone agrees with, bad things happen. As she is the Commissioner, I do believe she assumes responsibility?”

“That is normally the case, it's been how long since Raw has had a Commissioner?”

“Some time now.”

“Actually Vince, before Linda bestowed the honor upon me to become the new CEO of the World Wrestling Federation, she handpicked a suitable Commissioner. One that I think you will be MOST interested in. Say hello.” Another face came on the screen and it was none other than Shawn Michaels. July smirked as Vince's jaw dropped to the desk, causing her to lean back in her chair while the other Board of Directors congratulated her. “So from now on, the matches will be Mr. Michaels' responsibility and I will deal with the Undertaker's actions accordingly.”

Shawn was grinning from ear to ear, waving at them all. “Ladies and Gentlemen, all your matches are fine except since HBK is now in charge...we're gonna liven this pay-per-view up a bit.”

Was Linda out to torment him? Shawn as Commissioner meant July couldn't step in and interfere -nor could he- unless the board gave them approval. “Oh lord...”

“Now did I hear Shane-O-Mac is back?”

July was grinning from ear to ear and waved back at Shawn. “Hello Mr. Michaels.” She smiled when he told her to call him Shawn. “My apologies Shawn. Yes, you heard right. Shane McMahon will be back tonight on Raw.” When Vince's jaw dropped again, July was positively glowing as she clasped her hands together. “What did you have in mind for the pay-per-view, Shawn?”

“Well little darlin', I'm planning on making that announcement tonight LIVE, since I'm currently in the building, I figured I'd make myself useful.” He said with a wink, grinning like a Cheshire cat when Vince loudly groaned. “You say something?”

“My company is ruined...”

There was laughter hidden by a lot of sudden coughing.

July laughed softly before clearing her throat, though her eyes were glittering. Shawn would be making his announcement after she formally introduced him in the middle of the ring. “I believe that is everything unless you had something else to address, Vince?” She smiled innocently back at him and nodded when he just grumbled, shaking his head. “Until next time ladies and gentlemen. Shawn, I will see you later tonight in the ring.” She winked at him before closing the screen out and leaned back in her chair, knowing she just pulled the wool over her uncle's eyes.

Shawn's laughter could be heard all down the hallway as he leaned back in his own office chair, folding his hands behind his head, feet propped up on his desk. This was going to be so much fun!

“How'd your meeting go?” ‘Taker asked as he walked in without knocking, in his wrestling gear, ice on his knuckles from pounding the hell out of Austin.

“Fi-” July's eyes widened at his bruised knuckles, slowly standing up from her chair, shaking her head back and forth. “‘Taker, please tell me you didn't...”

“Someone get the doctor, Austin's down!!”

“Son of a bitch!” She cursed, shaking her head, and stormed past ‘Taker out of her office, running down the hallway, seeing Austin was down and bleeding from his head. “Steve, you're going to be alright.” She nodded at Larry before standing back, storming back to her office. “Your fine just doubled, ‘Taker. If you do anything like that again, I will forfeit your title shot.” She stated evenly before sitting down in front of her desk.

He snorted, not caring about the fines, he had plenty of money. Though his eyes twinkled with grim amusement. “YOU can't do a thing about my title shot.” He told her, watching the 'oh really' look come on her face. “I was just informed that Shawn is Commissioner. Which means as CEO, you don't have a say anymore unless HE screws up so badly the board boots his ass.” ‘Taker cracked his knuckles, the swelling gone down enough for him to discard the ice. “Your job is to keep Vince's ass in line July, not mine.”

“I can talk to Shawn about it though, ‘Taker.” She informed him, remembering what the Board of Directors told her in her first meeting. “If both the Commissioner AND the CEO come to an understanding, then the decision can be overridden. Please don't make me go to that extreme.” July really didn't want to have to go to that measure, but she would if it would stop ‘Taker from attacking Superstars left and right. “Be a man and wait until your title shot. Why did you attack Austin anyway besides the fact that you hate him?”

In a matter of seconds he had gone from morbidly amused to deadly. ‘Taker bent over the desk so his face was directly in hers, hands splayed on top of her papers. “Be a man?” He whispered dangerously, green eyes venomous. “Do you remember who you're talking too, July?” He demanded, slapping the desk when she didn't reply. “ANSWER ME!”

“Yes I do.” She didn't flinch and slowly stood up from her chair, squaring her shoulders, staring into his green eyes. “I know exactly who I'm talking too, Undertaker.” She crossed her arms in front of her chest, raising a slow eyebrow at how angry he was. “You don't want to face Austin at one hundred percent, which makes you a less of a man than what you are. You are unstoppable so BE unstoppable! You don't have to bend everyone at your will and I'm DONE being bent ‘Taker.” Her eyes narrowed, the fire erupting in her eyes. “I've been bent, twisted and torqued my entire life. It stops now. Stop attacking Superstars and take your aggression out there!”

His hand flew out, halting just before connecting with her cheek. ‘Taker looked shocked with himself, staring at her. Pulling back as if he had been scalded, he left July standing there, the door closing behind him.

“Mark?” Paul called hesitantly when he seen the look on the man's face.

“Get AWAY from me!”

Paul actually cowered.

July was standing there, shaking like a leaf, covering her mouth with her hand as the tears spilled down her cheeks. He was going to hit her. He was going to slap her for speaking her mind. July felt her knees give out as she crumbled to the floor, wrapping her arms around herself, suddenly feeling very cold. No, he wouldn't hit her, he wouldn't hurt her. July stood up and ran into the bathroom, trembling from head to toe, touching the cheek that he was a fraction of an inch from striking. If it hadn't been for Paul...July had to grip the sink as the tears flowed, knowing Christian was right.

He had almost hit her, July. His life, his angel, his love and he had almost STRUCK her. ‘Taker had retreated to the roof of the building, the cold wind assaulting him though he barely felt it, crouching on the ledge and watched traffic roar by. His long black hair whipped about his face, hiding the wetness on his face. Dear God what had he done?

Chapter 27

A techno mixed song blasted through the arena speakers as July McMahon walked out, looking as if she hadn't been crying, smiling at the audience. She made her way to the squared circle, stepping under the bottom rope, her long black hair up in a ton of spiral curls on top of her head, tendrils hanging down to frame her face with black eyeliner outlining her eyes, gloss on her lips. She did the cut throat motion with her hand across her neck, taking a deep breath. “Now we all know Fully Loaded is this Sunday, right?” She waited for the roars and cheers before continuing. “Now even though the pay-per-view lineup is looking marvelous, I have a little surprise for everyone.” She smiled, placing her hand on her hip while she walked around the ring. “You see, before my wonderful Aunt Linda McMahon bestowed the honor of making me the new CEO and half owner of the World Wrestling Federation, she decided this company needed a new Commissioner.” She paused with a smile though it didn't reach her eyes. “Ladies and gentlemen, without further a due, I'd like to introduce you to the NEW Commissioner of the World Wrestling Federation...The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels!!”

‘I THINK I'M CUTE, I KNOW I’M SEXY’ roared through the arena, the crowd on their feet as Shawn danced out onto the stage, his usual cocky grin firmly in place. He eventually made his way to the ring, bowing before July with a cheeky smirk before posing for the fans. When he was finished, he accepted a microphone an official handed him, moving to stand a few feet from July, looking her over blatantly. “Darlin', before I go any further let me say just one thing: you are the sexiest CEO this company has ever seen.” He grinned as whistles greeted that.

July felt her cheeks turn red and smiled back at him. “Thank you, Shawn.” She replied softly, standing back and letting him have the floor, clapping and wondered what he had in store for the upcoming pay-per-view. Though her mind wasn't just on that. She quickly pushed that aside, the smile never faltering on her face, knowing it had something to do with her cousin Shane.

“Now, this Sunday,” He began, mock rolling his eyes as HBK, HBK resounded, waving for silence with a grin. “As I was saying. This Sunday we all know it'll be Stone Cold Steve Austin versus The Undertaker for the gold.” He glanced at July with a grin. “But that's not the entire kit-n-caboodle. No, we'll also see in action X-Pac and the Road Dogg Jesse James versus Chyna and Triple H.” He was reciting the matches she had made. “The tag team titles will also be defended -again- with the team of Edge and Christian versus the Dudley Boys versus the Hardy Boyz in a no disqualification match.” He had always wondered why Jeff and Matt never got any attention, figuring now would be a good time.

July had heard all of this as she nodded at him, hopping up to sit on the turnbuckle, crossing one leg over the other. “Correct.” She said, urging him to continue, looking around the atmosphere and smiled widely. Though again, it didn't reach her eyes. She wasn't happy. In fact, she was heartbroken, but she was hiding it well. Over the years, July had perfected at controlling her emotions, being bent, but no more. She meant what she said to ‘Taker. She wasn't being bent at anyone's will anymore. It was going to be HER decisions from now on.

“And of course we can't forget the ladies...” Shawn continued, knowing she was most interested about Shane, but figured he'd save the best for last, best for her anyway. “I'm seeing...a Lumber Jill match.” He nodded enthusiastically. “How's that sound?” He asked the crowd, grinning when they cheered. He lived off of this. “And of course, everyone's favorite weasel Shane McMahon is back in action so I've got something SPECIAL for him.”

July felt the breath catch in her throat briefly when he mentioned Shane, hoping and praying it was something painful and gruesome. God she was demented. She blamed ‘Taker for that somewhat, the other part of it chalking it up to what she'd been through. Not to mention her birthday was coming up she hoped Shawn would make it a happy one.

Shawn was smirking, knowing July was going to LOVE this. “Shane McMahon will being going one on one with his favorite employee, KANE.” It was common knowledge Shane had blackmailed Kane into joining the Corporation with threats of having him locked away -which the Undertaker had been so kind to do- which did not endear the McMahon brat to Kane. “And because it's such a special night...It'll be a two out of three falls match.”

July was grinning now and actually jumped off the turnbuckle, throwing her arms around Shawn's neck, hugging him tightly before pulling back. “Thank you, thank you.” She bowed to him with her arms, laughing, the sheer excitement in her blue eyes, temporarily forgetting about what happened earlier with ‘Taker. It was common knowledge what had happened to July around the wrestling world and A LOT of people in the back, wrestlers and Divas, hated the McMahon family for what happened to her.

Grinning, Shawn picked July up and planted her on his hip as his music played again, twirling her around the ring before setting her down, dancing around her. “You are very welcome.” He murmured in her ear, glad to see her so happy after everything the McMahon's had put her through. Glad he could do his part.

Paul watched from the back, hoping whatever was wrong with Mark was gone or else he would explode over Shawn being Shawn. Sighing, he rubbed his temples.

She kissed his cheek before getting out of the ring, his music hitting as she stepped through the bottom rope, the biggest smile on her face. It lit up the entire arena as she laughed while Shawn danced up the ramp way, knowing Linda had made an EXCELLENT selection for the new Commissioner of Raw. Once they were backstage, July went back to her office, a kick in her step, her spirit restored. Shane was going to be maimed by the Big Red Machine Kane and she couldn't wait to see it happen this Sunday at the pay-per-view.

He had seen alright and irrational jealousy had flared within him. Seeing another man put his hands on July when the only man who could touch her was HIM. He pushed it aside, knowing he was being irrational and clenched his fists, crushing the bottle of water he had been drinking. Ignoring one of the Divas screams as water sprayed over her. Rolling his shoulders, he decided to go see the new commissioner.

Sitting down behind her desk, July began typing on her computer, knowing her uncle was probably absolutely livid at the new commissioner. She giggled at the thought, moving her head back and forth, her hair bouncing with it. It felt great to be genuinely happy, she didn't have much of it these days with ‘Taker and his mood swings. She pushed that firmly out of her mind, looking up when a knock sounded at her door.

Paul walked in when July called out 'come in', smiling at her, masking his concern. Good thing he was such a great actor. He had to be because he wasn't anywhere near as evil as the persona he played. “I just thought I'd come see how you're doing.” He wanted to know if she was alright, knowing something had happened between her and 'Taker simply from the way 'Taker had stormed out of the room like hell itself was after him.

“I'm fine, Paul.” She chirped, her eyes sparkling, and stood up as she guided him over to a comfortable chair to sit down in. July would always think of him as a father, simply because of all the things he taught her. He was part of the reason she was here in the now and not some broken down mouse who obeyed at every command. “I know you're here for a reason.” She said, sitting down as well, knowing he'd been outside her door when ‘Taker stormed out earlier.

“You caught me.” Paul smiled at her, considering July as good as his own, knowing he was the only true father figure she had ever had. “I'm worried about you and about 'Taker.” He admitted. “I saw him leave this room earlier and I haven't seen him since. Would you please tell me what happened?” He stared at her intently, knowing she could refuse, but had to try anyway.

Her eyes closed briefly, sighing when he grabbed her hand, slowly opening her eyes as tears welled up in them, the light gone and replaced with heart break. “We got into a fight.” She softly said, swallowing hard. “He attacked Steve Austin and...I told him that he needs to be a man and wait and show how unstoppable he is in the ring. He got really angry and...” She dropped her head, blinking rapidly as the tears fell on her skirt. “He almost hit me, Paul...”

Why was he not surprised? He knew he should be since 'Taker had a strict policy of no hitting women, the one exception having been Stephanie McMahon and Paul still had a hard time stomaching that memory. Recalling how 'Taker had bashed her face first into a cement wall with no remorse, no hesitation at all. “Almost?” He echoed, pulling out a handkerchief and passing it to her. “He stopped then? How'd he look?”

“H-He looked like shocked, almost...I don't know what the word for it is. He looked in disbelief I guess.” She took his handkerchief, wiping her tears away with it, sniffling softly. “I told him I was done being bent, Paul, and I am. I've been bent my entire life, I'm done obeying.” She sat up a little more, her tears slowly subsiding. “I haven't seen him since then either...”

Paul shook his head. “Honey, I don't think he's trying to control you.” He said quietly, patting her hand again. “At the same time, I think he also expects you to naturally give into him, it's in his nature. Though from the sounds of it, he's beginning to realize he has to change if he wants to keep you.” Now that was interesting and Paul debated on whether he wanted to stick around and watch it happen. It could backfire though, that he didn't want to see.

“Change?” July didn't understand, her eyebrows furrowing together. “Paul, this is who he is. ‘Taker. He has mood swings and a bad temper. I love him. I love him with everything in me and I will stay by his side. Though I don't know how much longer that's going to last considering I've told him I'm not going to favor him. I'm going to do what you and Steve Austin suggested. I'm going to be fair because, unlike Vince, I WANT the respect of everyone in this company.” She wiped her remaining tears away before setting the handkerchief aside.

“July, you're not seeing the big picture here, honey.” He said softly. “I know you love him, but if he doesn't change, what happened today could happen again and again until one day he finally does hit you. Once that line has been crossed, there never is a turning back.” He stood up, resting his hand on her shoulder. “You two love each other, you'll work it out, I'm sure of it.”

“So what should I do?” She stopped him from walking out, grabbing his arm, staring down into her father figure's eyes. “Paul tell me, what should I do?” When all he said was she would find out soon, July could only watch him walk out and sighed heavily, raking a hand through her hair. “What does that even mean?” She whispered, shaking her head, feeling so lost and confused right now. She walked over and sat down in her chair, deciding to focus on her job for the time being. Though she couldn't get Paul's words out of her mind.


Shawn stared up the Undertaker, chewing on a toothpick as he contemplated what to do with the man. “You have an aggression problem.” He commented, spitting out the toothpick, watching as it landed dangerously close to where 'Taker's hand rested on the desk.

“I can't imagine why.” He said through gritted teeth.

“I think you should have a match.”

He was two seconds away from getting fined some more.

Shawn considered what to do with the Undertaker, knowing damn well if the man blew up he could be held responsible for it, but at the same time… “How 'bout a warm up match with Shane since he's here tonight?”

‘Taker's cruel grin was his answer.

“But you have to leave him in one piece, he WILL compete on Sunday.”

“A man can wrestle with a broken arm.”


A knock sounded at July's door, causing her to look up, eyes narrowing at the sight of Shane. She had to remember what part she played, still typing at her computer, and finished up before turning to face him. “What can I do for you Shane?” She asked, her tone professional though it was also laced with venom, her eyes narrowed. Whatever he wanted, he would be talking to Shawn Michaels. Her place was to take care of Vince, like ‘Taker had said, and if he even THOUGHT about tormenting her about the past, she would throw his ass out with security.

“This match, against Kane, I want you to go over Shawn's head and have it thrown out. I'm not cleared to wrestle yet.” He hissed, not believing this slut had the audacity to talk to him like they were equals. He had not forgotten nor forgiven her for what she had done to him that night he'd beaten her senseless. His eyes burning at the memory before raking over her.

July slowly stood up from her chair, shoulders squared, her eyes lit on fire. “The match stays.” She stated evenly, crossing her arms in front of her chest, daring him to lay a finger on her. “I warn you now Shane, I'm within my legal rights to take EVERYTHING you hold dear and precious away from you. DON'T tempt me. Now get out of my office. You don't like the match? Go talk to the man who made it, the new commissioner. And so help me god, if you lay a FINGER on me, it will be the last thing you ever do. Now get out.” She sat back down in her chair abruptly and went back to her work, not even giving him a second glance.

Shane hadn't been dubbed 'quick as a cat' for nothing. He was behind her in a flash, pushing the chair into the desk so she was trapped, her legs pinned underneath it. Smirking, he leaned down, his mouth hovering over her ear, catching her hands and pinning them to her chest. “Now cousin, dearest, considering our past, you really should be a bit more polite to me, don't you think? If you want it rough, then we'll do it rough.” He taunted, licking the side of her face. Laughing, Shane let her go and left the room, leaving her to sit there in shock.

Chapter 28

July could only sit there, feeling the rage consuming every inch of her body. She was literally shaking as she stood up and walked into the bathroom, tears glistening in her blue eyes. Would it ever end? Would Shane ever stop tormenting her? She could only pray as she turned the water on as hot as she could stand it before scrubbing the side of her face. She started crying and peeled her clothes off, turning the shower sprays on, and stepped in as she began scrubbing her skin until it was red and raw. She didn't want to feel his touch as the tears mingled with the water, the steam rising around her.

After she was finished, July stepped out and redressed before brushing her hair. She knew her skin was reddened from the shower from all of her scrubbing and the hot water, but she didn't care. She didn't feel Shane's touch on her and that's all she cared about. July walked out into her office, seeing it was going on nine. The show was almost over as she sat back down in her chair, knowing she had to get through a few more hours. Then a thought occurred to her...what was she going to do about ‘Taker? Deciding he needed sometime to cool off, July called the hotel and booked herself a room, knowing ‘Taker would be angry with her for it, but she honestly needed a night alone to think.


Shane was all smiles, joking around with the Corporation, at least until Commissioner Shawn Michaels found him. “You did what?” He demanded, raking a hand through his hair.

“You have a match tonight against the Undertaker, consider it your warm-up for this Sunday.”

“Are you fucking INSANE?”

“You can't do that!! Do you have any idea what ‘Taker is going to DO to him? He won't make it to the pay-per-view this Sunday!!”

“‘Taker is going to MAIM him, do you really want to put the match in jeopardy?”

“Shawn, think about this. It's not gonna help to have Shane get killed by the Undertaker. What is gonna be left of him for Kane then?”

“C'mon boys, the Deadman promised he'd play nicely.” Shawn said, rolling his eyes when they all started snorting and going 'yeah right'. “Besides, little Shanie waney can handle the Big Bad Undertaker, now can't he? Or did you lose your nuts?”

Shane gritted his teeth, knowing either way he was going to either look a fool or get killed. “Fine...I'll face him.” He said in a hiss, watching Shawn walk off with a kick in his step. “Now...”


To say she was stunned when Shawn told her that ‘Taker was facing Shane in the ring that night was an understatement. July decided she wasn't going to tell ‘Taker about the little incident with Shane. She wanted Shane to suffer, not die, though she knew Kane was going to probably maim him on Sunday. That brought a smile to her face as she leaned back in her chair, looking over paperwork and whatnot. Honestly, she missed ‘Taker, but knew he wouldn't come see her. She would have to go to him and that wasn't happening, not after what he nearly did.

‘He didn't do it though, he stopped.’ She reminded herself mentally before flipping the page.


“Are you going to avoid her all night?”

‘Taker froze when he heard Paul's voice, realizing that Paul was beginning to irritate him. “What the hell do you care?”

“She told me what happened.” Paul watched as 'Taker's shoulders tensed.

“I could have taken her head off with one hit, Paul.” He listened as Paul murmured 'but you didn't', rounding on his old friend, eyes blazing with fire. “BUT I COULD HAVE!”


After watching Shane completely destroyed, though not killed, July decided to call it a night as she packed up her things. ‘Taker was probably getting cleaned up so she would make a fast escape to avoid any confrontation with him. Rounding the corner, July grunted as she bumped into someone, staring up into the cold blue eyes of Steve Austin. “Sorry.” She whispered, looking behind her, her eyes wide with both fear and anxiety before stepping around him, needing to get out of the arena. ‘Taker never took long showers and he would be heading for her office. She wanted to safely be in the hotel in her room when that happened.

“Hey.” Steve reached out to grab her by the arm. “Look, I'm sorry if I scared ya, July. I was an ass and I apologize.” Which she would never hear again, he nodded at her once before walking away.

She blinked, not believing Steve Austin just apologized to her. Was she in a twilight zone? July didn't give another thought as she quickly headed out of the arena, already having a cab waiting for her. “The Marriott, please hurry.” She stated once inside, handing over a fifty dollar bill. Linda had been kind enough to set up her bank account and had her money directly deposited so that way Vince couldn't touch it. Her aunt was a saint. She quickly laid down as the cab drove away from the arena, slowly looking out the window when she knew they were a safe distance away, sighing heavily.


“Um, I said in one piece.”

“Michaels, I'm trying to shower...”

“I'm not looking, Stiff. But Shane-O looked like he was pretty bad off.”

“Does he know his own name?”

“Barely...but yes.”

“Then he'll be fine for Sunday.”


After threatening physical violence to Shawn, and then to several other people who wouldn't leave him the hell alone, ‘Taker finally managed to make it to the hotel. He frowned when he discovered July's things were not in THEIR room, clenching his fists.

People on the street looked up at the sound of glass shattering, quickly moving out of the way as a chair came flying, smashing against the sidewalk violently.

July paced back and forth in her hotel suite, swallowing hard, knowing what she was doing was wrong. Did anyone honestly blame her though? She'd been struck and abused her entire life and the one man who managed to bring her back to the dead so to speak nearly hit her! Her long black nightgown that went to her feet and had long sleeves flowed with every step she took, tears sliding down her cheeks. This was the first time she would sleep alone in two months. She missed him already, but knew they needed time apart. Though she had a feeling ‘Taker's temper was going to flare even more now that she had defied him by getting her own room.

“He's going to be so angry with me.” She whispered, walking out on her balcony to stare out at the night sky. She was on the highest floor being an McMahon and all, she got the finer things in life now. Part of her was proud to have the name, but for the most part, July just wanted to be normal. She would never be though, again, being a McMahon and all. “I'm sorry ‘Taker.” She whispered heartbrokenly, wiping a tear that slipped down her cheek away.

Sighing and closing her balcony doors, July decided to call it a night, even though she knew sleep wasn't coming to her. What was she going to do when she DID see ‘Taker again? That thought made her physical shiver, truly terrified now. She'd never been scared of ‘Taker, though his anger had increased tenfold ever since they left Houston. Houston. She sighed wistfully at the memories that plagued her mind, cooking dinner, enjoying the nights laying together under the stars and moon. She remembered what he said about the moon and sun, another tear slipping down her cheek. He'd been so gentle with her, protected her, and she paid him back by abandoning him. What was she going to do?


“Open the door, Mark!” Paul ordered, banging on the hotel room door, hearing the sounds of furniture being demolished inside. He had paid off the hotel to NOT call the police, promising a high reimbursement for the damages as well as their silence. “MARK!”

The only answer he got was something very heavy hitting the door.

Paul jumped, placing a hand over his pounding heart. “THIS is why she's not in there with you, fool!”

Paul yelped when the door opened and he was literally jerked inside the room. Forgetting to be scared, he could only survey the damage, knowing this wasn't going to come cheaply. “What is WRONG with you?” He demanded, looking up where a light fixture had been, now just a gaping hole in the ceiling.

“Where is she?”

“I have no idea, and I wouldn't tell you regardless. Your anger is out of control.”


“Wow...” Murmured a maid the following morning, staring at the vacated room. She sighed, closing the door behind her before going to call front desk, knowing she was going to need help along with one of the janitors. This simply was too much for her to handle alone.

He groaned, rubbing his temples, ignoring the cuts that adorned his knuckles and hands from going ballistic. He was driving, needing time to think, knowing July must truly be terrified of him to get her own room. And she had every reason to be, he knew that too.


July walked into the arena that following night, having taken a plane since she didn't know how to drive. That would be changing, she was going to start taking lessons once she got some time off. She went shopping before coming and sported black leather pants that had a silver chain wrapped around her waist along with a black tank top that looked like a second skin on her. There was a blue devil on it that shimmered along with her black steeled toed boots. If Shane even THOUGHT about touching her, she was going to hurt him. Her long black hair was up in a high ponytail, slicked back with a few tendrils framing her face, gloss on her lips and black eyeliner outlined her eyes. A black leather jacket finished her outfit off as she walked down the hallway, bag over her shoulder, waving at some of the guys who greeted her politely.

He was waiting for her in her office, sitting behind her desk, his hands folded calmly over the wood. He'd spent the entire day thinking about July and had reached a few possible conclusions, only one of them he liked. His eyes were hidden behind his customary sunglasses, hair hanging back in a low tail. ‘Taker cracked his neck, his face slipping into its stoic mask, waiting.

“You can't go in there.” Edge whispered, stopping July from entering her office, pulling her away from the door. “He's in there.”

She had expected that and gently, but firmly pulled her hand away from Edge. “I'll be fine.” She assured him softly, patting his shoulder before taking a few deep breaths. She turned around and bit her bottom lip, suddenly feeling nervous. ‘He's not going to hurt you, remember that.’ She mentally coached herself and put a smile on her face before opening the door, stopping at the sight of him. He always did take her breath away and tonight was no exception. “Hi.” She murmured softly, setting her bag down, seeing he was sitting behind the desk in her chair.

“Hello.” His eyes raked over her hungrily, hardly believing that after not seeing her in twelve hours it was like a lifetime. He almost asked if she had slept well, but knew that would just be an opener for a fight, which he was trying to avoid. Instead, ‘Taker took a deep breath, staring at her. “What happened last night?” He whispered.

Taking her leather jacket off and hanging it up, July pushed her sunglasses up on top of her head when they began sliding down, sighing heavily. “I thought we needed some space.” She replied softly, crossing her arms in front of her chest. The tank top was showing off just the barest hint of her abdomen though the straps were big, not spaghetti, her style she found she adored. “How are you?”

“We needed space. I see.” He murmured, his upper lip curling when she asked how he was. How the hell did she think he was? “Fine.” ‘Taker stood up, his tone curt. “Will you be in your own room again tonight?” He demanded, trying his best to gentle his tone, impatience biting at him. They had shared a bed since they'd met except for right after the Shane incident. This wasn't amusing him anymore.

“That is going to depend on you and your temper.” She replied just as curtly, raising a slow eyebrow at him. God she loved him, but he scared the daylights out of her the previous night. “Y-You were really angry and...” July had to take a few deep breaths, seeing how rigid his body was, blinking tears away. “I needed space away from you.” She finally said, walking around him to sit down in her chair. If he didn't understand that, it wasn't her problem. She did what she thought best for her physical wellbeing.

“And instead of telling me this, you just left without a word or even a note?” He demanded, trying to push down his temper at her coolness. He had spent the better part of the night worrying and raging over her and she was sitting as calm as a fucking cucumber. “Were you by yourself, July?” ‘Taker had a sudden very ugly thought, green eyes deadly.

Her head snapped up, not believing he just asked her something like that, blue eyes narrowed to slits. “Of course I was!” Now her temper was up as she felt the angry tears slide down her cheeks. “How could you even-” She couldn't get the words out, her heart lurching painfully. “You nearly HIT me and then accuse me of going to someone ELSE? GET OUT!!” She shrieked, trembling from head to toe, never in her entire life feeling this much rage flowing through her at once. It was different and she was powerless to stop it.

Now that was the fire he had anticipated from her, though he hadn't been expecting it to be unleashed upon him. ‘Taker's eyebrows raised, tilting his sunglasses so he could stare down at her. “I didn't accuse you of anything July, I was merely asking.” He said, not moving to get out like she had ordered him too. He was sick, but this actually amused him a little, seeing how angry she was.

July felt sick to her stomach at the look that came over his eyes, shaking her head, her lips pressed in a firm grim line. “I can't believe you would even ask me something like that.” Her voice was venomous as she walked away from him before she did something she would regret, like slap that amusement right off of his face. “Get out. I have work to do.” She ordered gravely, sitting down in her chair, and turned her computer on. “Just letting you know, I'll be sleeping alone AGAIN tonight.”

“Have it your way then. I don't make your decisions, obviously.” He mockingly bowed to July before walking out, refusing to explode right there in front of her. Somehow he was not surprised to find Edge and Christian hovering.

“You-” Christian swallowed his tongue at the dangerous look on ‘Taker's face, deciding he'd keep quiet. He shook his head as the Phenom walked away, wondering what the hell had happened between him and July.

Chapter 29

As soon as her door shut, July broke down as she buried her face in her hands, shoulders shaking, the anger and fire diminishing. “Damn it.” She whispered painfully, hating that they were fighting. She wanted to go after him, to give him anything he wanted, to show him how much she loved him, but she couldn't. She had to stay strong, that's what he taught her in Houston. To stand her ground and not let anyone bully or manipulate her. She also couldn't control his temper, though she did admit some of the things she said to him the previous night had provoked it. Still, July never thought in a million years he would even THINK or attempt to strike her. And he did. “‘Taker...” She whispered out, crying harder.

Christian walked into the room, well, more like slipped, silent as a mouse, his heart breaking when he found July crying. He walked over to her, wrapping his arms around her, the shards breaking next when she began crying even more. “July...” He whispered, wishing he knew what to do to make this right. There was nothing, the power to heal her lie in 'Taker's all too dangerous hands.

Her arms wrapped around Christian's neck as she cried, squeezing him as tightly as she could muster up, knowing she couldn't hear him. She sniffled, slowly pulling back a few minutes later, her blue eyes red and swollen. “I'm alright.” She whispered, seeing the worry in his brown eyes, running a finger down his cheek and cracked a small smile for him. “What did you need?” She softly asked, wiping her tears away, knowing she couldn't shed anymore until she was alone in her hotel room.

“I wanted to make sure you're alright.” Christian said softly, reaching down to wipe a few stray tears away, his own eyes sorrowful. “And you're not.” He couldn't stand seeing July like this, not after seeing how truly happy she could be. This was almost as bad as when he had first met her, only then she hadn't been prone to emotion. Now she was crying on him. If the Undertaker had rebuilt her only to smash her into a thousand pieces then Christian was going to find a way to smash him into a thousand pieces.

The worry in his eyes only broke her heart further as July sighed gently, knowing he wasn't going to leave her alone now. “Sit down.” She pulled a chair to sit beside her, leaning her head on his shoulder, and rubbed her nose, closing her eyes. “I suppose you want to know why I'm so upset.” When he nodded, but told her he wasn't pressuring her, July couldn't stop a small smile from forming. She took a deep breath and told Christian everything, including ‘Taker almost hitting her. Then what Shane did. She cringed when he began to physically tremble and pulled away from his shoulder, forcing him to stare into her blue eyes. “Christian, he didn't hit me, alright? He didn't hurt me, he stopped himself. I got my own hotel room because...because I was scared.”

Christian took a deep breath to calm himself, especially after hearing that Shane bit. Considering her and ‘Taker has almost killed the bastard in the hospital, he had brass balls to be pulling this shit now. That or he really was completely off his rocker, which wasn't too surprising either. Come on, the man had raped his cousin and apparently was still interested in her and now Christian was shuddering with revulsion, taking a few more breaths.

“July, you're defending him to me by saying he stopped himself from hitting you, but then telling me you're scared. Can't have both, it doesn't work that way. Either you know for certain he wouldn't and would never hit you and life goes on or you're not sure and you're afraid.” He said gently, deciding to not mention the Shane thing.

“He would never hurt me. That came out wrong. I'm sorry.” She sighed heavily and stood up, pressing a hand to her forehead, needing to regain her composure. “The reason why I got a hotel room last night was because I saw how angry he was and figured we could both use a night off to cool down. That didn't work. He was waiting for me when I got here, which I'm sure Edge told you,” She paused, turning to face him, seeing his cheeks flush somewhat. “He asked me if I slept alone and I...I was livid. I was absolutely livid and lost my temper and told him to get out and I was sleeping alone tonight.” She could hear the malice in Undertaker's voice as the memory ran through her mind. “Which I still am.” She added as an afterthought.

“Well I knew that.” Christian rolled his eyes, seeing how she was shrugging this all off. “July...you love him right?” He wasn’t surprised when she nodded, sighing and kissed her forehead. “I thought so. I have to go, I'll see you before the night ends.” After hugging her again and vacating, he decided he was going to literally walk into the dragon's den and have a chat with the Undertaker. About Shane.

July sighed, knowing Christian was upset and shook her head. She couldn't think about that right now and got to work. Pushing ‘Taker, Christian, and everything else that was personal from her mind for the time being, July turned to her folder with the documents inside, going over them. It amazed her how easy this job was, thrilled that she got to keep her uncle, who had abused her for years, in check.


Christian was a little scared, he admitted it. He stood in the Undertaker's dressing room, his knees knocking, but he was still standing. He had explained the whole Shane spiel July had told him. He remained standing even when 'Taker had stood up, those green eyes acid. Though his teeth started chattering. He had seen this man angry before, but this...this wasn't the usual 'I'll kill you' rage, it was worse.

‘Taker calmed down, a thoughtful smirk on his face. “I'll handle it. Thank you, Christian.”

“What did he say?” Edge asked when his brother walked out, looking as white as a sheet, swallowing hard as Christian relayed what ‘Taker had said, groaning. “Man, I TOLD you this wasn't a good idea...” He cringed when he heard ‘Taker growling, immediately vacating with his brother. July was going to maim Christian if she EVER found out he went to ‘Taker. She trusted his brother, sighing as they arrived in their dressing room, only to find out they were in a warm-up matchup with the Hardy Boyz that night. “Great.”

‘Taker was unusually calm, refusing to get angry -well- refusing to let that anger surface. He would deal with Shane, in his own time, his own place. Shane WOULD make it to the that pay-per-view, though afterwards...well...That was another matter entirely. A cruel gleam came into his eyes, a plan forming. Oh yes, this would be...fun.


For the remainder of the week, July stayed in her own hotel rooms, provided her own transportation from arena to arena, and was completely alone. ‘Taker hadn't bothered her again after their last confrontation and it made her both nervous and heartbroken. She finally decided to just move on with her life, knowing he was angry with her for what she did, when all she was doing was protecting herself. Sighing, July stepped out of the limo, looking up at the arena.

It was the night of the pay-per-view and she couldn't wait for Shane's match. A smirk formed on her lips, knowing the Big Red Machine had some payback in mind for the little weasel. July decided to dress up for this night, wearing a shimmering wine colored tank dress that went two inches above the knee with black stilettos, her hair piled up on top of her head, her makeup done to perfection. She took a deep breath and walked inside, an extra kick in her step, a bright smile on her face.

“Okay, okay, I got this, I got this.” Shane was pumping himself up, having been training like mad all week. “I can do this, right? Right.” He wasn't aware his Corporation was looking at him like he had gone mental. “Yeah, yeah...Kane's mine!”

“God I hope the ambulance is here tonight.” Chyna muttered to Hunter.

Hunter could only nod, swallowing hard, truly concerned for his friend. Kane was going to demolish him. “You got this, Shane-O!” He stated confidently, shrugging when Chyna just raised an eyebrow up at him. “Give the man a little encouragement.”

“Shane, you're toast man.” Ken Shamrock stated before walking out, shaking his head, stopping when he seen July walk by and closed the door. The way she was dressed, Shane didn't need to see that and become unfocused for his match.

“Toast? Toast? Am I really toast?” Shane demanded, looking around at his 'friends', seeing them all rubbing their necks and wringing their hands, hemming and hawing. “You guys SUCK.”

“You can do it?” Chyna wound up turning the encouragement into a question, ignoring Hunter when he slapped his forehead.

“Looking hot July!”

“Edge, tongue in your mouth, that's my sis!”

Her cheeks turned a deep crimson red when she heard Edge say that, shaking her head, her smile never faltering. She walked into her office, setting her purse down, having decided a bag wouldn't look right with her outfit and sat down in her chair, looking up when Shawn walked in. “Good evening, Shawn.” She greeted, standing up and smiled when he kissed her hand. “What can I do for you, Commissioner?”

“Just had to see how our lovely CEO was doing on game night.” He replied, winking at her and dropping down onto the couch, his eyes taking in her dress, fairly certain he had never seen July in anything, but black, purple, green or blue. “That color suits you, darlin'.” He said with an approving nod. “Your first pay-per-view, nervous?”

“Surprisingly no, I'm more excited than anything. I actually wanted to run an idea by you.” She smiled innocently back at him, sitting down in her chair, crossing one leg over the other. She was wearing tanned nylons since her legs were too pale for her liking. “I was actually thinking about going out to the ring and doing a guest commentator type of deal during Shane's match...” Her blue eyes suddenly lit up maliciously, though she looked perfectly innocent otherwise. “I promise, I won't touch him, but I would like to see his ass beating up-close and personal.”

Shawn smiled though his eyes suddenly became guarded, clearing his throat. “You really think that's a good idea, July? It ain't you touching him I'm worried about, the other way around actually.” He hated to be so harsh and blunt about it, but there just wasn't any way to sugar coat that shit. “Anything that happens out there...you are of course aware you would have to sign a no-liability clause for the wrestlers.”

Did she really want to go through with this? Part of her was dying to see Shane's beat down that close, but the other part was agreeing with Shawn unfortunately. “You're right, I'm sorry.” She sighed, nodding her head, looking down at her clasped hands on her lap. “Forget I mentioned anything...”

“Do it July.” Edge said from the doorway, walking over, Christian right behind him. “We'll go out there with you just to ensure Shane doesn't touch you.”

She blinked.

Shawn frowned. “This match is about Kane and Shane, you don't think your presence will detract from that?”

“Considering it will last less than a minute?”

Rolling his eyes, Shawn stood up. “It's up to you three, but you ALL sign waivers, understand?”

July couldn't stop laughing when Christian said that, knowing he was right. Shane was toast, why did she need to be out there? Because of everything he put her through? This was dangerous so July declined, shaking Shawn's hand. “Thank you for making me see reason, Commissioner.”

“Bogus.” Edge muttered.

July sighed with a roll of her own eyes.

Shawn smiled at July though he peered around her to eyeball Edge. “You know something, I do believe your match can be changed to a falls count anywhere...”

“I said boogers, not bogus. I um...”

“He has boogers.”

“Yeah that, I have-” Edge stopped and shot his brother a look.

July giggled more as she shook her head, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “What was that Edge darling?” She smirked when he shot her a glare, that innocent expression back on her face. “Either you can apologize to the Commissioner or he will change your match. So what's it going to be?”

“Sorry.” Edge mumbled, almost too low for Shawn to hear.

“I don't believe he heard you. Try again.”

“I said I'm sorry.”

Christian wiggled his finger in his ear. “Huh?”

Shawn was smirking now, tapping his foot on the floor.


“Well damn son, you don't have to yell, we're not deaf.”

Christian and July were leaning against each other due to how hard they were laughing, causing Edge to snarl before he stormed out of her office. “Oh that was so great!” She crowed, hugging Christian before he went after his steaming brother, shaking her head. “It's like pulling teeth to get an apology out of these men isn't it?”

“Nah darlin', you just have to know which button to push.” Shawn drawled, winking at her before getting up off the couch, still looking amused with the whole Edge thing. “Though I'm sure he'll find some way to make that apology worthless.” He laughed softly, glancing at her then at the clock. “Show time is soon, you excited?” He smiled when she nodded. “Now, you're going to stay away from the ring during Kane's match, right?”

“Yes, I promise.” She replied with a nod, seeing how worried he was for her, taking a deep breath. “I'll be staying in the back throughout the night. Just wanted to look special for Shane's demise.” She smirked when he chuckled, taking his extended hand and smiled when he kissed the back of it. “You are quite the charmer, Shawn.” She commented before slipping her hand out of his. “Anything else?”

“No, July, I do believe that is about it. Though when it is time for that match, I am bringing a bottle of wine so we can watch it.” He said with a grin, holding up his hands when she opened her mouth. “I'm not trying to romance you July, I'm well aware you're with the Deadman. It's just a drink and enjoying a beat down as two friends, or co-workers. Nothing more. Okay?”

The way things were looking currently, July was going to be single very soon, though she wasn't remotely interested in this man except a friendship. “Thank you Shawn.” She simply replied before watching him walk out, shaking her head, looking forward to celebrating Shane's demise with the Commissioner. Sighing, July walked back over and sat down behind her desk, deciding to get to work before the pay-per-view started. She wanted to watch the whole thing, being her first major event as the CEO and whatnot.

Chapter 30

Shawn nodded to Steve as he passed him. “Eager for your match?”

“I'll be stompin' a mud hole-”

“In his ass and walking it dry?”

“Exactly. Where the hell you been?”

“Talking with July.”

That caused the Texas Rattlesnake to go talk to her as July looked up when her door opened, raising a slow eyebrow, wondering what he wanted. The last time she saw him, she'd bumped into him and quickly vacated. She didn't owe him an explanation and wasn't about to give him one. “What can I do for you, Austin?” She asked politely, setting her documents aside and gave him her full and undivided attention.

Apparently she hadn't accepted his apology, though Steve just shrugged it off. “Michaels said he was talkin' to ya about the matches tonight.” He said slowly, arching an eyebrow. “Was there any changes on the card?” He did not trust this woman as far as the Undertaker went, even though she had done the right thing that night. Rumor was her and the Deadman were on the rocks. Though, he didn't feel like being screwed over in the event she figured fucking with him was the best way to get back with ‘Taker.

“No, nothing has changed and you don't have to worry about me. I'm not going to interfere in your match.” When his eyebrow raised, she simply smiled at him. “That's not my place. This is between you and the Undertaker.” She stated firmly, leaning back in her chair. “I'm not like Vince, if you haven't noticed already. I do things fairly, like Linda, no matter if I'm dating one of the wrestlers or not.” She wanted to assure him, having heard of his motto ‘Don't Trust Anybody’, not blaming him a bit. She WAS the Undertaker's girlfriend after all.

The barest hint of respect flared in his eyes though it died quickly. He would need time to see if she was going to stand by that claim. “Good.” He grunted, nodding at July. “Thanks.” He turned and almost walked right into the Undertaker, sighing. Last time he had seen 'Taker, it had been a fist aimed at his head.

Raising one dark eyebrow, he merely stepped aside. “You were leaving?”

July swallowed hard, her eyes instantly becoming guarded, though she sighed with relief when ‘Taker didn't strike Austin. That would've been grounds for an immediate fine as ‘Taker stepped inside her office. “What can I do for you, ‘Taker?” She asked softly, no matter how hard she tried she couldn't use her professional tone with this man. She loved him. Didn't he understand that? No of course not.

“I came to see you.” ‘Taker replied, dropping down onto the couch, staring at her with a quizzical look on his face. “Or is that not allowed anymore?” He kept his tone even, not out to bait her. “I've noticed you seem to be extremely busy. Edge and Christian, Shawn.” He commented, draping his arms along the back of the couch, never looking away from her.

July didn't feel like fighting, he could think what he wanted. Though she was a little surprised at his behavior. “Yes, well, it comes with the territory of being the CEO of the WWF.” She finally said, keeping her tone even like he had before turning to stare down at her paperwork, shaking her head. Disappointment shining in her eyes because she wondered what had happened to them. “Are you ready for your match tonight?” She asked, turning to face him again, staring into those emerald green orbs she missed more than words could say.

He shrugged, an amused look on his face as he thought about something apparently only he knew. “Yeah, I guess. How 'bout you? Eager to see Kane take out McMahon?” He asked, getting up to walk over to the desk, leaning against it, staring down at her. God he missed her. But he wasn't going to force her to come back to him either. She would either do it willingly or they would fall apart.

“Yeah, I am actually.” She smiled up at him, wondering what he was thinking, wanting to reach out and touch him. “‘Taker...” She stood up, biting her bottom lip, her head up to his chin now due to the heels she was wearing. “I don't want to fight with you anymore.” She whispered before hugging him around the neck, not caring if he shoved her away. She needed to feel his touch, even for a brief period, feeling the tears slowly roll down her cheeks and coat his neck.

His entire body stiffened, almost as if he would push her away before sighing, pulling her tighter against him. ‘Taker rested his head on top of July's, closing his eyes. After a long moment, he tilted her head up, leaning down to kiss her tenderly. “Please, don't cry.” He whispered, gently brushing away her tears.

“I love you, I'm so sorry.” She whispered before kissing him again, cupping his face with her hand, the other burying in his black tresses, her heart pounding against her chest. “I'm so sorry...” She repeated, pressing her forehead against his, not caring if her makeup was smeared or not. She just wanted to be with ‘Taker again, not even caring about her position as the CEO at the moment or Shane's upcoming match, sniffling softly. “I missed you...”

“I missed you too, July.” He whispered back, picking her up and setting her on her desk, kissing her passionately. “God, I've missed you.” He breathed, an admission almost. “Come back to me, July. I can't spend another night without you.” ‘Taker's green eyes were pleading as he stared down at her, cupping her hands in his.

She smiled tearfully, reaching her hand up to caress his cheek with her thumb, nodding. “I was planning on it.” She moaned softly when he kissed her again, pressing him against her, needing to feel his strong body and power. “‘Taker...” She murmured, gasping when she felt his hand slide up her thigh, trembling slightly against him, her eyes instantly darkening to nearly black, clouded over in a passion haze.

“Mmm...” He purred, gathering her dress in his fists and bunching it over her hips, stepping between her legs. “I love this color on you.” He growled in her ear. “It's sexy.”

“Miss McMahon, it's show time.” A stage technician knocked and walked in, staring down at a clipboard. “And we need- Oh. Wow. I'm so, so sorry.”

She blushed furiously and quickly pulled her dress down, kissing ‘Taker quickly before sliding from the desk, seeing the clipboard. “That's alright, Nathan.” She signed the papers necessary before sending him on his way, her entire body lit on fire by what ‘Taker had done, and shut the door, needing a few seconds to cool down. It'd been a week, one week since she last felt his touch.

The mood completely destroyed and quite frankly, if he even tried that again, chances are someone else would come barreling in and he would go to prison for murder...‘Taker raked a hand through his hair, glancing at the clock. “I have to go anyway. I have to be 'seen' for the cameras then cut a promo.” He stooped down to kiss her before she could cool down completely, smirking. “We'll continue this tonight?”

“Without a doubt.” She purred, smirking when he growled and kissed him once more. “Go kick some ass.” She winked at him before he left her office, causing her to slump back against the door, her heart thundering against her chest. This night was turning out to be great as she walked back over and sat down behind it, suddenly anxious for the pay-per-view to end so she could be at the hotel with ‘Taker.


The minute the pay-per-view started, Shane was on pins and needles. He was now in his jogger pants and a custom made jersey, pacing back and forth, bouncing around. Doing whatever he could to get the blood pumping before he fainted.

“Uh, we got a match.” Hunter said, taking Chyna's hand and hurrying out of the room, definitely not wanting to be there when Shane spewed his guts all over the place. “He is so dead.”


Shane's match came before she knew it and July was all smiles, a television set up that was big enough to comfortably watch. She was sitting on the couch, Christian on her side, having retained their tag team titles when a knock sounded at the door. “Come on in, Shawn!” She called out, her eyes glittering as she folded her hands in her lap, patting the seat next to her. “Ready to watch this massacre?”

“Hell yes.” He crowed, carrying a bottle of wine as promised and two crystal wine glasses. “Hmmm...I need a third.”

“I don't drink.” Christian said, holding up his bottle of water with a grin.

“More for us.” Shawn dropped down on her other side, filling a glass and handing it to July. “Cheers, darlin'.” He said, eyes on the monitor as Shane came out, looking like a fool.

July giggled as she clinked her glass with his, taking a sip, crossing one leg over the other while Christian's arm wrapped around her shoulder. This had been the moment she'd been waiting for all of her life, literally. Literally and figuratively. She smiled when the pyro exploded on the stage, causing Kane to come out, looking deadlier than ever and Shane looked like he was about to either pass out or piss himself. “Bye Shane, nice knowing you.” She snorted before downing the rest of her glass of wine, smiling as Shawn refilled it. “Thank you Commissioner.”

“Definitely welcome, darlin'.” Shawn murmured, watching as Kane stepped into the ring. “I do believe the Boy Wonder is about to faint.”

“Two out of three falls with Kane? I would too.” Christian muttered. “Especially if Big Red didn't like me.”

“Shane has this more than coming.” Shawn said flatly, watching as Kane began beating the shit out of the McMahon moron, not even appearing interested in a quick win. “This might last longer than I thought.”

July was enjoying everything Shane was getting, wondering though why Kane wasn’t going for the pin right away. She tilted her head in wonder, taking another sip of wine, her mind flashing back to everything her cousin did to her. That night in his room when she was fifteen, tears forming in her eyes. He'd taken the one thing that meant more to a girl at that age than anything, her innocence. Though ‘Taker made her woman, Shane wasn't capable of doing so and never would be. She wiped a stray tear away from her cheek and leaned against Christian, loving watching the destruction of Shane McMahon.

Christian kept his arm wrapped around July, his eyes on the monitor. He almost breathed a sigh of relief when Kane did finally pin Shane for the first fall. Shane looked like he had no idea where the hell he was or even who he was for that matter. “Damn...looks like Shane is going BACK to the hospital.” Shawn grunted as Kane tossed Shane across the ring, watching the McMahon spawn slam into the turnbuckle and winced, knowing very likely something had just been broken and it wasn't on the ring.

“Kill him.” July whispered, sniffling slightly as she felt Christian's arms wrap around her, giving her the comfort she desperately needed at that moment. He was like her big brother, someone she trusted fully, and leaned her head back while his chin rested on top of her head, seeing Shane was bleeding heavily from his head. ‘He deserves everything he's getting.’ She thought viciously, blue eyes lighting on fire. “Come on Kane.”


“Pin me!” Shane managed to spit out, blood gushing from his mouth after a vicious punch to his jaw. He could hardly see now, both his eyes swelling, wondering why the referee hadn't called for the bell yet. This match should have ended on the grounds he was seriously injured! Shane groaned, tears running down his cheeks when he got a heavy boot to the stomach, feeling something cracking. “I QUIT!”

“Sorry Shane, you have to be pinned!” The ref said apologetically.


“What is going on? Why isn't Kane pinning him?” Hunter demanded, seeing Vince was as white as a sheet, raising a slow eyebrow. “Boss, you alright?”

“Damn, Shane looks bad...” Chyna pointed out, shaking her head, seeing the McMahon heir being ripped to shreds, literally, by the Big Red Machine. “Remind me to NEVER piss him off.”

“You got it.”


Even Shawn was beginning to get worried, seeing the condition Shane was in and knew the board was going to have a field day with this. “Okay, enough is enough.” He said, standing up.

“Wait!” Christian said, pointing to the monitor.

Shawn frowned, dropping his glass when Kane pulled away his mask. “Oh hell no!”

‘Taker stared down at Shane, his black rimmed eyes pure evil. He looked up into the camera, pointing directly into it.

“Holy shit...”

July's glass shattered along with Shawn's, her eyes widened to the size of saucers, tears streaming down her face. She opened and closed her mouth, but nothing was coming out, absolutely nothing, blinking repeatedly through her blurred vision. “Oh my god...” She finally whispered, covering her mouth with her hand, her heart swelling because she knew who he was pointing at in the camera. Her.


Vince was frozen solid as he stared at the monitor, swallowing hard, wondering where the hell the REAL Kane was. He got his answer when the door suddenly burst open, Paul and Chyna laid out as Kane swung the steel chair.


Glancing down at Shane, 'Taker spit on him before flicking his damp hair over his back, eyes rolling into the back of his head as lightening flashed.

“SHIT!” Shawn was literally jumping up and down now. “SHIT, I gotta find Kane, oh shit.” He ran out the door.

Christian watched as the monitor cut to the commentators, raking his hands through his hair and looked at July. “You alright?” He asked, waving a hand in front of her face when she didn't answer. “July?”

No matter how hard she tried, July just sat there, stiff as a board, silent tears rolling down her cheeks. Suddenly, the BIGGEST wave of anger flowed over her as she stood up and turned around, slapping the taste out of Christian’s mouth. “YOU TOLD HIM!!” She shrieked, her blue eyes lit on fire. “YOU TOLD HIM WHAT HE DID!!” She seen the guilt ridden look in his brown eyes and slapped him again, trembling from head to toe. “I TRUSTED YOU!! GET OUT!! GET OUT RIGHT NOW!!”

“No!” Christian shouted back, anger flaring in his own usually docile eyes. “No, July.” He grabbed her arms when she went to hit him again, shaking her firmly. “You had NO intention of telling him and that was something 'Taker NEEDED to know!” He shouted over her screaming. “You can't hide something like that from him! He had the right to know!”

“No he didn't!! He didn't need to know that!! Now he's probably going to lose his job for what he did to Shane!!” She was beside herself, the anger mixed with the betrayal, pushing him away as the tears flowed freely down her cheeks. “You betrayed me, Christian!! I thought I could confide in you and you went and told him!! I was going to tell him when the time was right, damn it!!” She covered her mouth with her hand, remembering that searing kiss earlier from ‘Taker, and started crying harder.

“He's NOT going to lose his job! He's the UNDERTAKER for crying out loud.” Christian said, not feeling a bit bad about 'betraying' her. He firmly believed what Shane had done to her was something the Undertaker had needed to know immediately. Not when she thought the time was right.

“Christian, out.”

He scampered.

Chapter 31

July froze, her back to the door, hearing his voice boom behind her and trembled from head to toe. She couldn't move and knew she was in deep trouble. They were fighting at the time, that's why she hadn't told him. Her heart was pounding in her chest, pulse racing rapidly as her eyes closed, hearing his deliberate footsteps echo throughout her room. Shane was probably dead now and even though she was thrilled about that, she couldn't get over the initial shock that it was ‘Taker all along.

His hands clasped her shoulders, squeezing gently. “July...” ‘Taker murmured, bending down to kiss the side of her neck. “Don't be frightened.” He moved so he was standing in front of her, getting down on his knees, staring up at her. His eyes were still ringed in black, still in Kane's costume, blood splattered over his hands and chest, but he didn't care. He needed to see her. “July?”

“I'm sorry, I was going to tell you, but we were fighting and...” She stared down into his green eyes, not seeing any anger there, and wrapped her arms around his neck, bending slightly. She didn't care about the blood on his chest or hands, not caring that it got all over her dress of there was blood on her shoulders. This man truly loved her to do something like that, to nearly commit murder in the middle of the ring. “I love you.” She whispered, sniffling slightly, glad he wasn't angry at her for not telling him what Shane had done.

“No matter if we're fighting or not, you can always come to me with something like that.” ‘Taker assured her quietly. “I wish you would have told me, July.” He hoped he had destroyed Shane's career. He hoped the man would live in a wheelchair for the rest of his life and eat jelly through a tube for the remainder of his days. If not, then he would do it all over again. “I love you too.” He stood up, kissing the top of her head. His eyes took in the blood on her shoulders and sighed, knowing he needed to clean up -a lot- before considering touching her again.

“I'm sorry, ‘Taker.” She whispered, wiping her tears away, seeing all the blood on him and knew Shane would not be back in the WWF for a LONG time. “The Board of Directors are going to have a field day with what you did.” She murmured, amusement shining in her eyes, knowing it was Shawn's responsibility to handle the wrestlers, not hers. So she was in the clear. “Go get cleaned up, you still have your match with Austin tonight.” She stroked his cheek with the back of her hand, knowing she had blood on her shoulders, but she honestly didn't care.

“I know, good thing Shane was so kind to give me a warm-up, wasn't it?” He smirked wickedly, leaning down to brush his lips against hers. “I love you.” He whispered again before leaving the office.


“Not now Shawn, I need a quick shower.”


“I know.”

July blinked when she heard Shawn's, biting her bottom lip, knowing ‘Taker had made a deal with his brother Kane. She found out after the Ministry disbanded who that monster was in the basement they sent her and Christian as bait too. His brother. She sighed and shook her head before walking over and sitting behind the desk, knowing come tomorrow morning, her and Shawn are going to have some serious explaining to do.

Shawn walked into her office, dropping onto the couch without a word and groaned. “You had no idea he was going to do that right?” At her nod, he nodded, closing his eyes. “Okay, I'm saying he completely jumped script and nobody had a clue. Think he'd sign a paper saying all that?”

“I have no idea.” July sighed heavily, knowing ‘Taker was going to face some serious fines and repercussions for what he did, but somehow she knew it would all work out. “Excuse me.” She walked into the bathroom and began scrubbing the blood off of her shoulders, sighing when she looked down at her dress, seeing there was spots on it. “Damn it, I really liked this dress too.” She walked back out, seeing Shawn was still contemplating before sitting down next to him. She didn't have a change of clothes so she was stuck until ‘Taker left the arena.

Shawn frowned, rubbing his temples. “He needs to sign a form stating full responsibility for his actions this way the WWF and my ASS are not in any trouble. I can't see Vince allowing Shane to sue his own company, but...control isn't exactly in that branch of the McMahon family anymore either.” He looked at her, seeing the blood. “Do you need something to wear? I'm sure wardrobe could find you something...less bloody.”

“Give me the form.” She looked into his eyes, seeing the wariness in them. “I will have him sign it.” She looked down at her outfit, sighing heavily, knowing she probably should change. “I'll go down to wardrobe. Go get the form and I'll take care of the rest.” She patted him on the shoulder reassuringly before walking out of her office, heading for the wardrobe department. She swallowed hard, seeing the trail of destruction in the hallway and knew that was Kane's doing. “Jesus…”

“No, Kane.” Paul quipped, falling into step beside her. He had been as shocked as the rest of them by ‘Taker's actions. Then seeing Kane in the hallways chasing down the Corporation. Well, Paul had hidden for a while since the last time he had seen his son was when he had had him committed. “How are you doing, honey?” He asked, knowing she had probably heard that several times in the past ten minutes.

“I'm still in shock by what ‘Taker did.” She murmured softly, walking with him down the hallway, wrapping her arms around herself. “We're back together, in case you were interested.” She smiled over at him, wrapping an arm around his shoulders, kissing the top of his head. “Paul, how hard is it to get ‘Taker to do something?” She asked casually, seeing his eyes narrow slightly at her. “What would it take to get him to...I don't know...sign a waiver stating he's responsible for his actions against Shane?”

Paul started laughing. “Let me guess, to save Shawn's behind?” He chuckled, his eyes twinkling when she nodded. “Not that hard at all. In fact, I would imagine if he thought this out -which I'm sure we both agree, he has- he's probably already had something drawn up.” He planted a paternal kiss on the side of her cheek. “This isn't the first time the Undertaker has decided to end someone's career, July. Though I'm certain it will be his last given just WHO he destroyed.”

“They won't fire him.” She stated confidently, nodding when Paul agreed.

They arrived at wardrobe and July started looking over the clothes, raising a slow eyebrow, finally deciding on a pale blue spaghetti strapped dress that went two inches above the knee and had a sweetheart neckline to it. She needed something to go with her shoes after all. After checking it out of wardrobe, July walked with Paul back to her office, making small idle chatter along the way.

“Mind if I join you for his match?” He asked politely, still in hiding from his son, just in case and smiled when July nodded, settling down onto the couch with a sigh. “If he wins,” Which there wasn't a doubt in his mind he would. “You two will be hard pressed for time. There's a lot of responsibilities that come with the gold. Though I'm sure you and Mark will make things work.”

“Mark?” July tilted her head slightly to the side, seeing Paul's eyes widen, blinking several times. “Who's Mark?” She asked softly, truly confused and sat down beside him, not worried about changing at the moment, the dress lying beside her. Who the hell was Mark and why was Paul referring to ‘Taker with that name? She was genuinely confused.

Paul blinked, wondering if she was for real then shook his head. “You didn't think the Undertaker's name was actually 'Taker did you, honey?” He asked softly. “He never told you his real name?” Why oh why was he not surprised? “Of course if that's the case, I wouldn't use it. He doesn't like it too well.”

“Wait a minute...” July was floored now as she stood up, reaching back and taking the clip out, her hair falling around her shoulders and down her back in loose curls. “Are you...” She had to breathe and raked a hand through her hair, beginning to pace back and forth. “Are you actually telling me his real name is Mark? Not ‘Taker?” When Paul nodded, July stopped and felt a headache coming on. ‘We just got back together and now this...’ She thought sadly. “Excuse me.” She walked into the bathroom and slammed the door shut, changing into the pale blue dress.

Paul knew instantly what her issue was. Sometimes he wished he wasn't so observant and attuned to people, it would be so much easier on his mind. July was probably upset, crushed that he hadn't confided his real name to her and now Paul wished he had kept his big fat mouth shut. How did he explain to July that ‘Taker probably wasn't trying to hurt her feelings, he just didn't go by his Christian name? “Damn.”

“I'm not angry.” She said as she walked out, the dress hugging her every curve, having brushed her hair, though it hurt like a bitch, now it was just wavy. “I'm really not and I'm not going to even question him on it.” She sat down next to Paul, depositing her dress she bought in the trash, knowing the blood was NOT coming out of it. She would simply have to buy another one. Not like she couldn't afford it now. “Don't worry Paul, I'm not going to tell him just like I didn't tell him about what you told me regarding what to do with my position in this company. Your secrets are safe with me.”

“It's not that it's a secret, it's just common knowledge he doesn't like it.” Paul explained, clasping her hand in his. “And if you want to ask him about it, then you should. I'm rather shocked he didn't tell you himself.” He looked at the monitor when he heard 'Taker's music, knowing it was time for the heavyweight title match and shifted to watch.

July did the same thing and reached over, turning the volume up. “He obviously doesn't want me to know so until he brings it up, I'm not going to mention it.” She smiled, seeing ‘Taker walking down to the ring, his face clean of raccoon eyes, though the acid green looked focused and determined. She shivered when his eyes rolled in the back of his head, brief moments of passion between them flying through her mind, knowing he did that when...July shook her head, clearing her throat just as Austin's music hit.

Steve waited, pacing like a changed tiger as the Undertaker took his own sweet time. He had figured that after ‘Taker's match with Shane he'd be a bit tired. You simply did not attack someone like that and not wind up exhausted, but no. ‘Taker looked like he was fresh. Great, just great.

Paul grinned as ‘Taker immediately took it to the champ, knowing this would be a long, grueling match but as long as nothing distracted 'Taker then he would have it in the bag.

July could only watch, wincing every time ‘Taker took a bump, not too keen on watching the matches for this reason. Though tonight, she wanted to see her man prevail and smiled, clapping when he got the upper hand and chewing on her thumbnail when he was down. He had that match with Shane, how was he not exhausted? There was so much blood...July didn't want to think about that, focusing on the match along with Paul. They didn't speak a word, each on the edge of the couch, hardly blinking.

Whether Steve knew it or not, Paul had been with ‘Taker long enough to recognize the big man was running out of steam. He seen July chewing on her thumb and would have chewed his own nails if they weren't already trimmed short. He let loose a breath he hadn't been aware he'd been holding when 'Taker tombstoned Austin, watching anxiously as he dropped for the three count.



“YES!” July shouted the same time as Paul did, hugging him around the neck tightly before sprinting out of her office, running as fast as she could. She waited anxiously for ‘Taker to come through those curtains immediately jumping in his arms, wrapping her legs around his waist, and kissed the breath right out of him. She was so proud of him that he was the champion and had dominated the matchup with Austin...for the most part.

‘Taker bit back a groan, his belt over his shoulder and wrapped one arm around July, the other braced against a wall. He smiled against her lips when the kiss broke. “Damn, I think you're happier about this than I am.” He joked, slowly setting her down.

“Congratulations, ‘Taker.” Paul said, clapping the man on the shoulder because that's about all he could reach.

Steve came through the curtain, holding his head. “I want my rematch.”

He sneered in reply.

She smiled and ran her thumb across his soft red lips that were slightly swollen before kissing him again. “Go talk to Michaels about that Austin.” She said, hopping down, smoothing her dress down and took ‘Taker's hand, her eyes sparkling, knowing he deserved to be the WWF champion. She nodded silently at Paul when ‘Taker wasn't looking, assuring him everything would be fine. She also knew ‘Taker was going to drop from exhaustion from having two matches in one night.

“I will.” Steve said, halting to pat ‘Taker's back. “Nice match by the way.” That was as close as he'd ever get to admitting he was impressed that ‘Taker had been through two matches and still had come out on top. Nodding to July, he walked away.

“Not now Steve.” Shawn said as he passed the man. “‘Taker, we need to talk. About earlier.”

“Paperwork is in the mail.” He grunted.

Paul had been right as July smiled, nodding back at Austin, knowing they had a full understanding. She wasn't going to be like Vince and screw him over. She didn't have the heart to do something like that. She smiled at Shawn, who simply nodded, as they made their way back to her office. Only to be doused with champagne by the ex-Ministry members. Edge, Christian, Viscera, Mideon and the Acolytes-who were now known as the APA.

‘Taker really wanted to drown these morons in the champagne, but wasn't going to ruin this night for July. As CEO this was her first pay-per-view and it had been one hell of a success. “Alright, no more.” He chuckled when Edge went to spray another bottle, blinking when it got him in the face.

Christian held his breath.

Bradshaw cocked his head to the side. “Man, it looks like a dinosaur or somethin' just unloaded on your face.” He commented.

July's second dress of the evening was ruined and she was completely covered from head to toe in champagne. “Damn it.” She groaned, shaking her head, her shoes also ruined, but that smile never faltered. She simply pulled ‘Taker's face down to hers, kissing his lips softly, some of the champagne wiping away before pulling back. “Ready to get out of here?”

“Oh come on! We need to celebrate!” Christian protested when 'Taker nodded to July, groaning when they both gave him looks. “You two suck.”

Paul had to wonder if people were suicidal tonight or something.

“Later, right now, I'm ready to go to bed.” ‘Taker announced, ready to take a shower and lie down with July in his arms. God that was his idea of heaven right now.

July bit her bottom lip when she looked at Christian, remembering how she snapped on him earlier. “I'll meet you in the parking lot.” She said, kissing ‘Taker's lips before he went off to change, turning to face the man she considered a brother. Without a word, she pushed the door open, silently asking him to step inside her office, nodding at Paul before closing the door behind her when he did. “I'm sorry about earlier, but I'm also still very upset with you. I know you were trying to protect me, but Christ, couldn't you have come to me to talk about it before going to ‘Taker? I was going to tell him Christian. We were fighting and it was a really stressful time. Do you understand what I'm saying?”

“Would you have listened to me if I had come to you?” He asked knowingly, seeing her hesitate. “You do things because you think they're right and I do the same. I'm sorry I hurt you and I do understand. But I'm not sorry for what I did either. Seeing what happened to Shane was worth it.” Christian said quietly. He was sorry he had hurt her, he did understand, but he just couldn't make himself feel bad about going behind her back either.

“You're right, it was worth it. I'm sorry for...hitting you. God, I've never done that to anyone before.” She murmured quietly and sighed with relief when Christian drew her into his arms, both of them drenched in champagne, not caring at the moment. “I'm sorry, Christian.” She whispered, wiping a stray tear from her cheek. “I know you did what you thought was right. I can't fault you for that.” She slowly pulled back to stare into his brown eyes. “Just, from now on, whatever we speak about and whatever I tell you stays between us, alright?”

Christian hesitated, not entirely sure he could make that promise. “I promise, unless it's something like what happened with Shane. Then I can't be silent.” He said, staring down at her.

“Chris, hurry up man, we're going out!” Edge shouted through the door. “Ogle her quick and let's GO!”

“I'm going to kill my brother.”

“He'll never change.” July shook her head, the amusement in her eyes and kissed his cheek. “Fine, now get out of here and have fun.” She winked at him before he went out of the door, gathering her own things, and shut the light off before heading out of her office, closing the door behind her. Her man, the new WWF Champion, was waiting for her in the parking lot and. Champagne soaked dress or not, she wasn't going to disappoint him.

Chapter 32

He felt barely human right now, watching July walk towards him, his eyes tiredly running over her curves. He had to smile. That champagne hadn't been such a bad idea after all. The dress HUGGED her and the sight was definitely worth it. “Hmmm, I hope this is becoming the new trend.” He teased, wrapping an arm around July's slender waist and pulled her into him for a hug, leaning down to kiss her.

She giggled, wrapping her arms around his neck, moaning instantly as their lips met, wrapping her fingers in his long, wet black hair. “Mmm I do hope I get more of those.” She teased back, slowly pulling away from him and took his hand, groaning since she smelled of champagne. “I definitely need a shower when we get to the hotel.” She didn't like this and pulled the dress from her stomach, only for it to cling right back to her again.

“Yeah you're right, naked is better.” He joked. ‘Taker was about to ask her to drive then remembered she didn't know how, mentally vowing to correct that situation as soon as possible. “Come on.” He opened the passenger door for her, closing it when she got into the car. Sighing, he rounded to his side. Seconds later they were on the road, him weaving through traffic and speeding like usual.

July would be learning how to drive very soon, though she would need to take a few days off for the lessons. That would mean leaving ‘Taker on the road, alone, and she didn't like that. Though it was something that had to be done. She was sick of being carted around everywhere, wanting to experience driving for herself. Without that ability, she still felt like a child. When they arrived at the hotel, July stopped ‘Taker from going to his room, deciding to go to her suite she'd booked.

“Trust me.” She murmured in his ear and lead him up to her suite, opening the double doors. There was a king sized bed, a Jacuzzi in the corner with a chair, small living room and a huge bathroom with a shower and Jacuzzi tub in it. To the left was a small kitchen and mini bar.

His eyes landed on the hot tub then strayed to the mini bar, grunting in satisfaction. “Go get your shower.” He said, slapping her ass gently before walking over to the bar, making himself right at home and poured a drink, downing it and pouring another. He had every intention of getting the Jacuzzi going and soaking, knowing that would definitely ease his aching muscles.

She smiled and nodded, setting her purse down and kicked her heels off before walking into the bathroom. She immediately peeled the champagne soaked dress off, groaning, knowing she would have to pay for that and then smirked. She was the CEO after all, it would be coming out of Shane's salary. Sighing happily, July started her shower and stepped inside, washing her hair and body down. She didn't take long, wanting to be with ‘Taker and help him celebrate his victory before stepping out, wrapping a towel around her body. She walked out and stopped, a smirk forming on her lips.

“Nice to see you've gotten comfortable.” She commented, seeing he was already soaking in the Jacuzzi, and walked over to her bag to grab a nightgown and garments out of it.

“You'd rather me sit on the bed and wait to ask permission?” He sounded amused, standing up, the water cascading off his nude body. ‘Taker reached out to grab July by the arm as she passed, pulling her back towards him and tugged away her towel. “What are you needing clothes for, hmm?” He whispered, lifting her up and into the Jacuzzi with him.

Sighing at the feeling of him against her mixed with the hot water, July could only moan out, her hands pressed against his chest, straddling his waist. “I thought you'd be too exhausted for this.” She softly replied, her voice a whispery sigh, smiling when his arms wrapped around her and pressed her even closer to him. “‘Taker...” She moaned softly, feeling him brush against her, missing this feeling as her eyes drifted shut.

“This?” He murmured, settling back down, pulling her onto his lap. “This is just holding you.” His green eyes were innocent as he took in her parted lips, trying not to grin. “What were you thinking, July?”

“Making love.” She replied, kissing him softly before snuggling against him, resting her head on his shoulder, a content smile on her face. “This is fine too though. I missed you so much.” She ran her hands up and down his arms and shoulders, caressing him soothingly.

‘Taker ran his hands up and down her back, the feel of her body pressed against his after over a week of not being with her was almost too much. He could feel himself stirring to life and groaned, adjusting July so she wasn't crushing the boys. “Darlin'...” He murmured, beginning to kiss her throat, moving July so the jets could get her.

Her head tilted back as the jets engulfed her, slowly beginning to grind against him, her instincts taking over. One week without this man was too long. “‘Taker...oh ‘Taker...” She moaned out, wrapping her arms around his neck, pressing his face against her neck as she hissed out, her cheek resting against the side of his face while she continued to grind against him. Strong sensations coursed through her body, igniting the sparks into flames as July felt him slide in and out of her slowly, deliberately, teasingly. He was going to drive her absolutely crazy until she forced him to take her. “Please...oh please...” She moaned pleadingly, pulling back to stare into his green eyes, crying out when he sheathed himself fully inside of her only to pull out again. Her nails raked down over his shoulders and down his chest, knowing that would drive him nuts as she nibbled on his Adam's apple before moving to his jaw line.

Growling, he caught her wrists in one massive hand, knowing what the cheeky little wench was trying to do and he wasn't having it. He was enjoying seeing her writhe, wanting to hear July beg him to take her. He tortured her some more, moving his free hand to cup her breast. Kneading the firm flesh in his palm, running his thumb over her nipple, leaning down to capture it between his lips, tugging gently.

Her head tilted back, trying to get her wrists to release from his grasp, finally splaying her hands against his chest while he assaulted her breasts. Soft moans escaped her, tremors coursing through her body, knowing he was definitely in the mood for this, tired or not. She still couldn't believe he had two matches and he still had enough energy to make love to her. July cried out as he continued his torturous thrusts, wanting to touch him as she writhed against him, just like he wanted.

“Do you want me?” He purred against her flesh, his goatee tickling her skin “Tell me you want me, July.” ‘Taker whispered, kissing his way up, between the valley of her breasts, along her collarbone, to her earlobe. “Hmm?” He sheathed himself completely in her, twisting his hips in a slow circle, groaning softly at just how good she felt, driving himself insane in the process.

“Yes please...I want you so bad...” She breathed out, crying out softly in his ear when she felt him do that, feeling how hard he was. Her hand trailed up after he released them to bury itself in his hair while he attacked her neck and earlobe, hissing softly as she began grinding against him, feeling his hand on her hip. “I need you, ‘Taker please...” She wasn't ashamed of begging. She loved him and craved to feel him take her to heights only he was capable of.

Now that was what he had wanted to hear. ‘Taker held onto her hips, guiding her on him as he began thrusting into her, slowly at first, but gradually increasing the power behind his strokes. The water beginning to slap against the sides of the Jacuzzi with each movement. “You feel so good, July.” He whispered in her ear, stretching his legs out and tilting her luscious body back, his head following to continue his assault on her neck.

Her soft cries emanated throughout the hotel room as July gripped the sides of the Jacuzzi, slamming down on top of him, meeting him thrust for powerful thrust, causing her senses to reel, her mind clouded in a passion haze. Her eyes were nearly black as she hissed out, running her nails down his arms, needing this release more than anything. “Oh god...I-I'm close...” It'd been a week, too long, this wasn't going to last long and she knew it. She would make it up to him somehow and gripped her hair with her hand while clutching his shoulder. “Harder, oh god ‘Taker please...I need it...make me yours...”

“July.” He hissed through gritted teeth, her words sending rushes of heat throughout his body. With a splash and quick moving, he had her bent over the hot tub seat, the water swirling about her shoulders now as he positioned himself behind her, sliding his cock past her folds and into her sweet warmth, his eyes rolling to the back of his head at how exquisite she felt. He powered in and out of her, striving to give her what she wanted, one hand reaching underneath her to finger her clit. “Cum for me, July.”

“Oh sweet Jesus...” She groaned out, her eyes closing as she clutched the edge of the Jacuzzi, pushing herself back against him and cried out when he slapped her ass gently. Her pussy tingled, feeling her release building and ran one of her hands down her stomach to touch herself with him, feeling him playing with her dripping sex. “Ohhh...so close...” She whipped her head back, black hair flying the jets along with him pounding the daylights out of her almost too much for her to take. Gritting her teeth, July kept up the pace with him, not wanting to surrender yet, wanting this to last as long as possible.

Clenching his teeth, ‘Taker plummeted in and out of her, smacking her ass again, just a little bit harder this time. He could feel his own release building, fighting with himself to keep from unloading his seed in her just yet. A week without her had been a week too long, the sheer blissful agony he was feeling right now was proof. “Christ, July...fuck!” He exclaimed, leaning over her to grip the edge of the tub as well, kissing the back of her neck. “You feel so good, darlin'.”

She couldn't even talk, the amount of passion and ecstasy flowing through her almost too much for her to handle, to bare. July felt her walls begin to clench around him and placed her hand over his, entwining their fingers together, feeling his arm wrap around her waist while his long, slick tongue ran directly down her spine. That was all she could take as her body went rigid, thighs and legs tensing, wrapping him up in her warmth. “MARK!!” She shrieked out, her eyes closed, her entire body trembling from head to toe as her first orgasm crashed over her like a tsunami wave.

He tensed, growling angrily, his eyes flashing acid though by now he couldn't control his own body. Snarling, he thrust into her one last time, cumming hard, filling July's receptive body with his seed. When he had finished, he pulled away from her, stepping out of the Jacuzzi. His legs were a bit shaky, but his anger quickly took care of that.

“What did you call me?” He demanded, his deep voice harsh.

July was trying to clear her head, having fell back into the water, her legs refusing to work for her at the moment. She coughed, sputtering water since she'd gone fully under, him releasing her so abruptly. “W-What?” She blinked, confused, pressing a hand over her heart at the amount of anger coursing through his green eyes. Suddenly, it came rushing back to her as she covered her mouth with her hand, blue eyes widening. “Oh my god ‘Taker, I-I'm so sorry...” She mentally cursed her brain for even THINKING about crying out his real name. What was she thinking?!

“You called me... Mark.” He said, the name leaving a bad taste in his mouth and it showed. Slowly, he sat down on the edge of the bed, not minding his wet body or his nudity, his brooding eyes penetrating hers. “Who told you my name?” ‘Taker demanded evenly, his hands clenched tightly together.

“I-I um...” She swallowed hard, slowly finding the strength to get out of the Jacuzzi, wrapping a towel around her body as she trembled slightly. She couldn't get Paul in trouble, she just COULDN'T. “I-I don't remember.” She finally stuttered out, seeing the anger flare in his green eyes, sighing heavily. So much for their romantic night and getting back together. July felt so hopeless and raked a hand through her wet hair. “Okay that was a lie. I'm not telling you who told me because you're going to freak out and do something you will regret later.”

His green eyes narrowed, wondering just who was both stupid enough and apparently had a set big enough to tell her. Cracking his neck, ‘Taker decided to let it go for the moment, not wanting to ruin her night. It would eventually become known who had told her. “Come here.” He murmured, extending a hand to her. “I'm not mad, July, come here.”

She slowly walked over and took his hand, biting her bottom lip, the towel wrapped securely around her body, still on spaghetti legs from their intense bout moments ago in the Jacuzzi. “I'm sorry.” She whispered, staring down into his green eyes and kissed his lips softly before hugging him around the neck. What had she been thinking calling him by his real name, after Paul specifically told her he hated it? She was an idiot, did she enjoy angering Taker?. ‘No, I don't.’ She thought, answering her own question.

Sighing, he laid back on the bed, pulling her down on top of his chest. He ran his fingers through her wet hair, listening to her heart beating a mile a minute in her chest, figuring it was both from the sex -which was incredible as always if he did say so himself- and fear. Was he really that bad? “I love you, July.” He murmured softly in her ear.

“I love you too ‘Taker.” She snuggled against him with a soft smile, the fear completely gone, loving the feeling of him pressed against her. Taking a deep breath, July knew what she had to do as she ran her hand up and down his chest, exhaling slowly. “Paul told me.” She slowly looked up at him, searching his eyes, pleading with him not to hurt the man she considered like a father to her.

“Paul?” ‘Taker echoed, one eyebrow slowly raising. Either she secretly hated the man and wanted him dead or she was trying to keep the lines of communication open. Either way he and Paul were going to be having a little chat very, very soon. “Don't worry, I won't lay a finger on him.” He promised, reading the plea in her eyes.

“H-He didn't just come out and say it. He said that since you’re champion now, we won't have a lot of time together, but we'd figure it out. He said you and Mark. I was so confused. I didn't know who he was talking about. Then he told me.” She suddenly sat up a little, on her knees, staring down at him with confusion in her blue eyes. “Why don't you like your real name?” She asked softly, still not able to believe she hadn't known it all this time, that she'd been calling him something entirely different.

Humoring her, he sat up, leaning back against the head board and sighed inwardly. Paul was a prick, plain and simple, who needed to stop flapping his gums before he got a foot up his ass. “It's common and it's a reminder of a past I don't care to remember.” He said finally, impatiently shoving his hair behind his eyes. “Why? Do you prefer it?”

“No, I was just wondering.” She answered softly, crawling up and rested her head on his collarbone, snuggling against him and draped an arm around his waist. “I will call you whatever you want, just as long as I'm with you.” She closed her eyes, feeling his fingers run through her hair. “You must be exhausted after everything that happened tonight.”

“Hmmm.” He murmured, not agreeing or disagreeing. “Come on then.” ‘Taker rolled July onto the bed, tugging away her towel and tossed it to the floor. Reaching down to grab the blankets, he pulled them over their bodies, planting a kiss on her shoulder. He laid down on his side, staring at her, wondering what he had done right to have her in his world. Though he had to smile, knowing Vince was regretting more than ever delivering July to him.

“What?” She asked with a smile, seeing he was in thought as he stared down at her, snuggling against him, caressing his face tenderly with the back of her hand. She wanted to know what he was thinking and feeling, even though he wouldn't tell her. ‘Taker wasn't much for reminiscence and she wasn't going to pry into his past. That was his domain and if he wanted to tell her, he would. If not, then he obviously didn't want her knowing.

“Nothing.” He murmured, trying not to grin anymore, knowing it was making her curious. When July just raised an eyebrow, he began chuckling. “I was thinking that Vince is really kicking himself in the ass right about now.” ‘Taker rolled, kissing the top of her head. “He tried using you as a bribe to stop me from destroying his family and look at how things turned out. I didn't even have to do a thing, he wound up destroying it himself with his stupidity and cruelty.”

July laughed softly, thinking of the irony, and shrugged as she kissed his lips softly. “He saved me in a way, though I know he didn't mean to do that. He thought you were going to torture me instead of Stephanie.” She shook her head, wrapping her arms around his neck, kissing his neck gently. “Let's get some sleep, champ.” She smirked when he grunted, kissing his lips softly, and snuggled against him as he spooned against her, entwining their fingers together as she rested it over her heart. Closing her eyes, July sighed in contentment.

Draping an arm over her waist, 'Taker closed his eyes. He could hear her screaming his given name again and a smirk unwillingly formed on his lips, snorting softly. He'd never tell her, but...as much as it pissed him off, it had driven him over the edge and into sheer bliss as well. That, however, would be his little secret.

They would fight, they would cry, but there was one thing that was certain. Through all the pain and suffering July went through, thanks to her own flesh and blood, she managed to find her knight in shining armor. Though he was a dark man, crude at times and cruel, she still loved him and he loved her. When two are one, like July and ‘Taker, all was right with the world and that’s all that really mattered.

The End.