Jeff kissed the back of her bare shoulder as they stood in the shower, allowing the water to pour down on them. She giggled when she felt the scruff of his beard brush past her neck and his lips landed on her cheek. "They're all pissed off at us now," he whispered. "How long before they just let themselves in?"
She turned around, wrapping her arms around his neck and bringing his head down so their foreheads touched. "I really don't care," she confessed. "I'm just really happy right now…" she tucked a loose strand of his hair behind his ear, "being with you." She kissed him as he turned off the shower, but backed her up against the wall. A small snicker escaped her mouth when he picked her up and put her legs around his waist. "Jeff Hardy, you're going to get us caught!"
He placed a kiss on her throat, "I don't care," he said to her, continuing his kisses along her neck line, "I'm happy being with you, too."
'Jeff!" Matt Hardy barged into the room, yelling for his brother. "Jeff, get out here!"
He put Maria down and picked up the towel that was on the ground where she had thrown it earlier. "Stay here," he whispered, taking her face in his hands. "I'll take care of this."
"Matt! Brother, what's going on?" He put his hand out for a handshake, but the older Hardy refused. He really didn't know how to talk to him at the moment.
"Dude, I was just having a showe…"
"Sit down, Jeff." Jeff took a seat on the closest bench, keeping his eyes on his brother. The 'stern voice' was never a voice he wanted to hear. It was something Matt had picked up from their father. "You were with her just now, weren't you?"
"Who? Candice? We ended that awhile ago, I know I told you…"
"Quit playing stupid! You know whom I'm talking about. You are so distracted by Maria, that you missed your match tonight! You and Carlito were supposed to have a match, but you had to go off with her and screw up everything! Out of all the things you've done, this is the most irresponsible I have ever seen you. Missing a match on a live show… do you have any idea how pissed off Vince is right now?"
Maria turned off the shower and stayed on her side of the wall. Vince was already angry at her, she didn't want to be the reason why he was going to be mad at one of his top stars. She leaned against the cold tiled wall to eavesdrop.
"I…I forgot," Jeff stuttered. "I just forgot, Matt. Maria was so upset after her meeting with Vince that I wanted to make sure she was OK… I wasn't even thinking about my match tonight because I was so wrapped up in this whole new storyline with her…"
Matt shook his head. Earlier in the day when they were driving to the arena, Jeff was a different person. He was keeping to himself, except to make a smartass comment to something Kennedy had said, and lost in his own world with his music. Now he wouldn't stop talking about Maria, as if they had been dating for ages. "Do you like her?" Matt asked, taking a seat next to his brother.
Jeff shrugged. "Yeah," he whispered. "I do like her. A lot."
Maria slid down the wall with her thumbnail against her lips. Her stomach was filled with butterflies and her heart was pounding harder than she could even imagine. She grabbed the towel that was on the floor next to her and wrapped her body in it, trying to keep warm against the chilled floor. Jeff Hardy likes her. And she felt confident that he wouldn't have a wondering eye like Punk seemed to have had when they were dating. As loyal as there were to each other, there was a lack of trust that helped end the relationship.
That, and he was a Cubs fan.
Before tonight, a new relationship was the furthest thing from her mind. But now all she wanted was to be with Jeff.
She heard the door closed and the room fell silent. When she peeked around the corner, she saw no one. Getting up from the floor, she went over to Punk's bag and took out a white tank top of his and a pair of pants. He wouldn't mind. Broken up, yes. But they would always have that Chicago connection.
Putting on her newly acquired outfit, she left the locker room. Mumbles and catcalls were shouted at her direction as a lineup had formed outside the room, but that was the last thing on her mind right now. "Punk!" She shouted, a small déjà vu from earlier in the day. "Punk, I need to see you!"
"He's in catering." She turned around at the voice and blinked when she saw whom it was. She never expected him to help her find a guy. "He's by himself, looking lonely. Probably thinking about you like I am."
"I know, I know. We're over. But there's so much that I would do just to hold you again, Maria. You have no idea how much you hur…" he stopped himself when he saw her eyes wondering around the room, trying to find the closest escape. He let out a sigh when he saw he wasn't going to get her attention. "Catering. He's in catering."
She gave him a nod and put her hands in the jeans pockets trying to hide the smile that was coming across her face. She wasn't happy that she had hurt him; it was knowing they were able to at least look at each other again that brought the sudden grin. Now she could really move on with her life.
When she got to catering, he wasn't hard to find. Not too many guys wear only Speedo's while they eat. "Punk!" She ran towards him, sitting across from him at the table he was at.
"There you are. I just saw the Hardy's and you weren't with them, I thought they lost you."
"Punk, I really need you right now, in case I do anything stupid." He set the plastic fork down on his paper plate and leaned back in his chair. "He likes me," she said with a smile. "And I really like him too."
"All within a day…" he said, giving her a small kick under the table. "Creative works their magic once again."
"I'm serious!" She said with a laugh. "I really like Jeff Hardy, and I have this feeling that when we go and do something tonight, it might be really stupid and I need to know I have you to stop me in case I go through with whatever it is." She slouched down in her chair and put her hands in the jeans pockets. "You're one of the few I can trust here and… I just want to know you'll still be there for me."
Punk put his fork down and leaned on his elbows that were on the table. "I've always been there for you, Kanellis. And you know I'm the first person that will tell you if you're being dumb."
"I think I'm in love with him," she said, lowering her voice so the people that were cleaning up around them couldn't hear her. "Is that stupid?"
He shook his head. "I don't think so," he told her. "You guys should be together. I've never met two people as bored as you and Hardy." He got her to laugh, which made him smile. She doesn't laugh around many people. "If you really need it, then you have my permission to be with him. He gets my approval."
They both stood up and he casually put his arm around her shoulders, giving the top of her head a kiss. "Just let me know when you need me," he whispered, avoiding eye contact with Kelly.
Maria gave him a hug, and a kiss on the cheek in exchange. "I'm going to go find him and tell him," she said with a smile.
"It's too soon," Kennedy moaned, leaning against the wall in the locker room. "You can't say you want to be with someone after spending a day with them, let alone saying you want to be with Maria. That's crazy talk Hardy, and you know it." Jeff sat on the ground, picking at the tip of his shoelaces. He knew Kennedy would be the wrong person to speak to about this. "Maria? Really?"
Jeff scratched the back of his head in frustration. "Yes, Maria. Why is this so hard to understan…"
"Because Jeff! It's Maria! She doesn't talk to anyone, she's miserable, she mopes around all day…"
"No she doesn't…"
"She does! Jeff, look. I know you get these crazy ideas in your head sometimes, but this is one of those ideas that need to leave. She breaks hearts without batting an eyelash and has the fakest smile in the locker room. You can't date her, you can't be with her, and you can't be about her. She's bad news. No. I won't allow you to…"
Jeff left the room, slamming the door shut. "Candice!" She was the closest Diva to him and he saw her struggling with her bags as she headed towards the exit.
"Hey babe." She stopped in her tracks and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "What can I do for you? Keep you in my hotel room as you hide from Vince? I don't think John would mind…"
"I need Maria. Have you seen her?" Candice zipped up her jacket, leaning against the exit door.
"Yeah, I've seen her. Why?" He didn't need to answer. The Diva pushed the door open and left her bags behind. "Walk with me, and bring my bags," she called behind her, twirling her rental car keys around her finger. "It's the least you can do right now."
When the door closed, he was left staring at the bags she had left. He didn't need to bring her bags to her. She had never treated him like that before. There was no need for him to do anything that she had demanded. While staring down at her clothes luggage, her make up luggage, her hair luggage, he didn't expect the bare arms that were thrown around his waist. It was the quietest of whispers that caught his attention, "Jeff…"
"Maria!" He turned around and lifted her in the air, seeing her biggest smile. He had no idea what Kennedy was talking about back in the locker room. "I've been looking for you," he admitted, placing her back on the ground.
"I was looking for you too!" She gave him a quick kiss on the lips. "I'm ready for tonight. I'm ready for anything. Whatever you want to do, I want to do. Me and you Jeff. Let's do this tonight." Her blue eyes widened when she saw him smile. "What do you want to do?"
The pants she had on were so baggy and low on her he could see the top of her underwear. The Chicago that was across the chest of the tank top was worn so proudly he had to kiss her to prevent himself from smiling. "Whatever you want to do," she told him, placing her hands on his forearms. "Jeff… promise you'll protect me?"
"For as long as you let me," he responded. "Maria…" she smiled softly. She loved it when he said her name. "Be about me."
She nodded. "Of course."
He kissed her again. "I have an idea for tonight." Her eyes lit up again and she put her arms around his neck. She thought they fitted too well to let each other go.
"Marry me, Maria."