Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Loving a Deadman


The Phenom. The American Bad Ass. The Deadman. The Undertaker.

However they referred to him, however he was known; he was known, and well known at that. Since his debut in 1990 ‘Taker has been a force to be reckoned with, standing at 6’ 10” and weighing in at over 300 pounds it was easy to see why. He had all the skills that the average wrestler had, but he also had something else; something more. All who went up against him felt it; many never came back the same after going into their matches with Undertaker. Many would come to try and end the legend of The Undertaker, they never succeeded; all would feel his power and none of them would ever be the same afterwards. Whether he was The Lord of Darkness dressed in his black robes and acting as the judge jury and executioner or The American Bad Ass riding his Harley and demanding respect, it was always the same; everyone felt the power of The Undertaker. After an unbroken and unmatched winning streak at Wrestlemaina ‘Taker was at the top of his game, and then something happened turning it upside down. After winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Batista everything looked to be on the up for Undertaker again, even after he had retained the title against Batista.

It had been a gruelling match and had taken a lot out of ‘Taker, but the worst was yet to come. As The World’s Strongest Man; Mark Henry came to the ring nobody least of all The Undertaker knew what was coming next. Attacking ‘Taker and brutally leaving him near unconscious in the middle of the ring was bad enough, but then the opportunistic Edge; newly drafted from RAW saw his chance and his big opening. Cashing in his ‘money in the bank,’ Edge then proceeded to finish ‘Taker off and pinning him to win the World Heavyweight Championship. As Edge left the ring he left behind a bloodied and beaten Undertaker, what happened next was like something out of a sci-fi fantasy film. As the blackness gave way to that piercing blue light he was famous for, Undertaker’s robed minions came to the ring. And as the carried him out from the ring and out of the arena, no one; fans and superstars alike could believe what they were seeing. Was this the end of the Deadman? Would they ever see the superstar again and if so in what form would he rise? All these questions and more would plague wrestling superstars and fans, the only person that would ever know the answers to these questions was ‘Taker himself; but for now he chose to keep these answers to himself.


Would it be the American Bad Ass the fans would get to see, the man who rode a Harley to the ring, fought hard and wanted respect? Or would it be The Phenom they would see, the man who felt no pain; hardly spoke and could frighten an opponent just by looking at them? Or would it be The Lord of Darkness himself, the man that nearly destroyed the whole McMahon family AND Stone Cold Steve Austin? Nobody really knew but whatever `Taker’ they got, the fans would always be happy. The real reason ‘taker had left Smackdown was partly to do with the years of injuries and being on the road had caused him, and partly due to his age and the ill health of his wife Sara. The years of abuse on his body, along with the stress and injuries had all taken their toll on ‘Taker. Years of being on the road an being the best and at the top of his game had all taken its toll on both him and his wife, but when Sara got sick things really began to get worse. Initially Undertaker had taken the time off to heal his bones and look after Sara, but as his wounds healed; Sara got worse. Until that fateful day when Sara’s body just couldn’t take anymore and she died, peacefully in her husband’s arms; leaving ‘Taker distraught and alone.

It had been four months since he had been in a WWE ring, four long hard months but now as he stood in his locker room he finally felt ready; ready to go out with a bang. Truth was that in his illustrious career Undertaker had pretty much done it all, he had been hardcore champ, tag team champ and a multi time World Heavyweight Champion. He had more wins at Wrestlemaina than anyone else; with 15 wins it was certainly a feat that looked unbeatable. In his mind ‘Taker had nothing left to prove and if he had learnt one thing after losing Sara, it was that life is too short and that there are other things to life than work. All he wanted now was to get revenge in Mark Henry and be allowed to retire and say thank you to the fans that had supported him throughout the years, and the best way for him to do this was in the ring; taking names and kicking ass as the American Bad Ass! Before he had got to the arena ‘Taker was checking his bike over making sure it was all in working order for the match, one of his other big passions in life was his motorcycles. He had one since he first made it big in the WWE and they were very much part of him and who he was. Maybe it was nerves or just that he was a perfectionist that he had been getting ready since five o’clock this morning, whatever the reason ‘Taker had more or less been ready for this moment for a long time.


It had been nearly ten years since she had been back here, but still it felt like home. She couldn’t explain it but it just felt as if she belonged here and like she was meant to be here, as she unpacked her stuff and went off for dinner Gabrielle felt like all the stress and pain of the last few years had all disappeared and left her. As the night went on all the pain and darkness Gabby had been through was finally all starting to slip away, and with it so did the feelings of depression. In fact Gabby was feeling so much better about herself that even though she was here alone the sadness still wasn’t as bad as it had been in recent years, as she finished her meal and left Gabby felt it was such a nice night a walk was in order. As she walked Gabby thought about her life back home and all that this year had thrown at her, she had lost her job, been in and come out of a rough relationship and been mugged all in the space of twelve months. It had certainly taken its toll on her and on more than one occasion Gabby had felt she had taken about as much as she could; if she was honest with herself it was the loneliness that was the worst thing about her life at the moment. Before she knew where she was Gabby found herself standing outside Madison Square Gardens, looking around Gabby could tell something was there and she would soon find out it was a WWE wrestling event.

Walking inside Gabby found a bar with a big screen and after sitting down and ordering herself a beer she started to watch the show, the show was the pay per view called “Unforgiven” and had the much discussed return of The Undertaker who had been absent since the brutal beating he had received at the hands of Mark Henry. But that match hadn’t happened yet as Gabby watched it was Jamie Noble taking on the cruiserweight champion; Hornswoggle, with the slippery little leprechaun retaining the belt after Noble was disqualified because he took his anger and frustration out on the official. Next match was Finlay vs. Kane, this match had been building up for some months now and had the makings of what JR would call a “slobberknocker” and as the match began it wasn’t far from that with Kane getting the upper hand throughout most of the match, tables turned when Hornswoggle tried to interfere but luckily Batista rushed to the ring and prevented the little leprechaun from getting involved; which in turn helped Kane to get the win with his finishing move The Chokeslam. As the pair celebrated in the ring Gabby ordered some food and another drink, glancing at the big screen she caught the start of the next match, the tag team champs Deuce & Domino against the unlikely team of Matt Hardy and Montel Vontavious Porter; MVP.

Not really watching the match Gabby found she was being engaged in a deep conversation with this guy sat next to her, they talked about everything from where they both came from to the wrestling on the big screen. Gabby wasn’t really listening if she was honest but she did try to be polite and listen, that was of course between the quick glances to the big screen. Gabby managed to catch the end of the current match, watching as MVP and Matt Hardy somehow managed to win the Tag Team Titles which seemed to show the new champs as much as it did the former champs! As Michael Cole and JBL talked about the win Gabby’s new friend made his excuses and left for a while promising to be back soon, as he left she looked up at the screen and saw that Mark Henry had made his way to the ring. Gabby knew this was the time for her favourite The Undertaker to make his return and pretty soon she had found herself sat closer to the big screen; much like many other customers in the bar, realizing she couldn’t be the only ‘Taker fan Gabby smile at that thought but was quickly pulled out of it when she heard the ominous bong of The Undertaker’s theme tune.

Moments later the lights went out and another bong sounded, the fans went wild at the thought the Deadman was back and ready to kick ass. But then the music changed from what the fans expected to his American Bad Ass theme; You Gonna Pay, and pretty soon the Deadman was there on the Harley and as large as life. You could tell from the fans reactions that they were happy about this form ‘Taker had taken; you could also tell from Mark Henry’s reaction that he was less than pleased about it. As ‘Taker entered the ring Gabby watched as Mark Henry did his best to show he was scared, of course inside it was a different matter; truth be told he was bricking it. Gabby sat engrossed in the match, watching how Undertaker threw everything at Mark Henry but kept drawing a blank. By the end of this onslaught, Henry thought he had one over on The Undertaker. But that was what ‘Taker wanted him to think so when Henry moved in to finish the match the Deadman kicked out on the two count, surprising not only the fans and Henry but also the commentators. As Henry’s temper blew and he laid ‘Taker out with a vicious body slam he turned his attention to the ref and started to call for a faster count, turning back to what he assumed was a still fully laid out Undertaker; Henry came face to face with an erect and angry Deadman.

What happened next took seconds but would last a lifetime, as soon as Mark Henry started to retreat ‘Taker was up and ready to fight. After the Deadman threw some of his legendry “soup bowls” he quickly managed to get Henry reeling and somehow got him up for one of his moves; “snake eyes” and then a big boot to Henry’s face. Moments later ‘Taker was calling for the end, but his two main finishing moves were out due to the amount of punishment his back had endured. Going for a chokeslam was out too, Gabby could also see ‘Taker’s mind working as he tried to find a way to end the match. Seconds later the Deadman had slapped on his trademark submission hold on Henry; the dragon sleeper hold and within seconds Mark Henry was tapping out to this deadly variation on a triangle choke hold. Gabby had to almost sit on her hands as she smiled with gleeful delight at how ‘Taker had won, but just as soon as it had come the smile went again as ‘Taker grabbed the mic and started to talk. It was hard for Gabby to hear but she could make out that Undertaker was pretty much retiring and that he was thanking the fans for their loyal support, as ‘Taker left and the next match came on Gabby went back to her food and beer. Moments later the guy she had been chatting to was back and seemingly continuing where he had left off.

After all Gabby had been through the last thing she wanted was to get hit upon by some random guy, especially once that she knew would never be her Mr. Right. Doing the best she could to be polite Gabby smiled and tried to explain that she wasn’t interested and wanted to be left alone, whether he believed her or not he eventually left her alone to finish her drink and food. As Gabby sat there alone her mind was filled with images of things that had happened to her over the past few years, all the hurt and pain she had gone through and seen was more than enough to last her a life time; but somehow she knew this wasn’t going to be the last time she would get hurt. For one short moment she even felt sorry for the stranger she had just brushed aside, it wasn’t like he was to blame for Gabby’s past! And then just as quick as it had appeared in her mind it had gone again; now being replaced by thoughts of The Undertaker and his recent match. There was something about him that captivated Gabby, something she couldn’t put her finger on.

Of course she knew that he would never be like he was in the ring and he would more than likely be an ass, in Gabby’s experience most if not all the celebrities she had met had been a letdown. In Gabby’s mind of course they were always just how she had pictured them to be, but then again she was no different to others in that respect. But if she was honest with herself Gabby was used to being let down and disappointed by people she met and got close to, it was almost second nature to her nowadays. Not really wanting to think about her past anymore Gabby finished the last dregs of her drink and left the bar after paying, she hadn’t noticed the time and was surprised to find it was way past one in the morning. Everyone had seemingly gone home and forgotten about the show they had just seen, the only people left were some of the crew who cleared up and a few diehard fans. This time of night was always the time Gabby loved most; it was when she really saw life and how it affected people.

As Gabby walked not really heading anywhere in particular she had no way of knowing that danger lay ahead of her, it would be too late before she would see the danger. One minute Gabby was heading to the back of MSG not really thinking, and the next she found herself being grabbed roughly from behind and being dragged into a dark side street. Fear struck her soul and although deep inside she was kicking; screaming and fighting, on the outside she was silently allowing the fear to take hold of her. As she felt something cold and hard against her neck she realised it was the cold hard steel of a knife and that this wasn’t going to be a good experience, it was at that moment that all her senses kicked in and she began to fight back. Kicking and struggling as she did all she could to free herself from his grip, as he held his hand over her mouth it gave Gabby just the opening she needed. Biting down as hard as she could his girlish scream let her know she had achieved what she set out to do, making the most of the moment Gabby screamed as loudly as she could; making as much fuss as she could praying that someone would hear her cries; thankfully somebody did hear her cries and came running.


After a long four months sitting at home recovering and, if he was honest fuming over his recent injury ‘Taker was raring to go and get back to the ring. In his mind there were two people he held responsible for this recent stint on the sidelines, Edge and Mark Henry; and both would be getting what they deserved as soon as he could get back. Of course Edge found himself being conveniently injured at the time Undertaker was due back, so he would have to wait and Mark Henry would have to get the brunt of ‘Taker’s anger. ‘Taker could remember the day Henry and Edge had taken him out as if it was yesterday, for the entire act for all the bravado Mark was still a man of flesh and blood like any other. And like any other he still bled and hurt, he still felt the pain and stiffness in his tired and wiry bones; the years of punishment and years at the top had seemingly taken their toll on him. Maybe it was the physical strain that had made him feel so tired and worn out, or maybe it was the emotional strain he was under constantly that was making him feel like this. Whatever it was, it had certainly taken it out of him, it could be seen in his eyes and the way he moved; no longer was he the same “Taker” he was 10 years ago.

But then that was part of life and part of his life on the road, barely was there a day go by now when he didn’t wish he was home but then when he had that time at home he needed all he wanted to do was be back out on the road again. If he was honest at lot of these feelings all came from the emptiness he now felt since losing Sara and his beautiful girls, it had been almost two years now but still it felt like his soul had been ripped in two. Losing them in the manner he had nearly killed him, but the thought of his fans were all that kept him going on many a day. But now wasn’t the time for those thoughts, now was the time for him to get focused on the match in hand; his first since Mark Henry and Edge had taken him out. Deep down he had the same nerves that rookies had, only difference was that this was the last time he would be doing this; all the years had taken too much out of him now all he wanted to do was say goodbye and win one last match. As Mark looked himself over one last time he got ready to make that transformation into The Undertaker one last time, his outfit was as it should be and he was as ready as he was ever going to be. Taking one last look in the mirror ‘Taker gave himself a slight nod before heading out to the arena where his custom made Harley was sitting, ready and waiting for him.

As he waiting for his music to play Mark felt the selfsame nerves he had felt the first time he had debuted all those years ago, even though he was a lot older and wiser he hoped; he still got the same nerves he always had. Moments later his music was being played and he was heading out to the ring, next thing he knew he was having his hand raised in victory and was taking the mic and getting ready to “bow out gracefully” and retire. As he thanked the fans and the people he had worked with Mark smiled at the thoughts of the fans he had met and entertained throughout the years, he thought about all the other great wrestlers he had worked with and in some cases terrorised; but of course in a good way! As he left the ring and headed to the top of the ramp Mark could sense the silence and shock, smiling inside he couldn’t help but think about his past; stopping at the top of the ramp for a few moments ‘Taker then did his trade mark clenched fist in the air with his back to the crowd as he finally left and headed back to his locker room.

After changing and saying goodbye to his colleagues Mark spent a few moments thinking about his past and contemplating the life his was about to head off too, walking outside he greeted the fans that had stayed behind and spent a while talking to them and thanking them for their support. Truth be told deep in his heart Mark didn’t want to go home, not now there was nothing for him to go home to anyway. It was nearly two in the morning when Mark finally began to make his way back to his car, throwing his stuff in his car and getting ready to leave his mind alerted him to someone’s faint screams. He was in two minds as to if he should leave it or not and if truth be told he was already half way in his car when he heard a woman’s frightened screams, heading to where he had heard her pleas for help Mark was unsure what he would find but knew he had to help. Mark hadn’t even reached the alleyway when he saw a woman struggling and trying to break free of a man’s grip, moments later he was yelling for this guy to let go and rushing to this woman’s aid.


As her attacker ran off, well limped off Gabby held it together pretty well for a few moments; but then as her emotions and all the fear and adrenalin hit her all at once she broke down. Sobbing uncontrollably she curled herself up into a ball and never saw him approaching her, she felt him before she saw him. Looking up into his eyes she was more than a little shocked, and not just because she had only just watched this man have his last match no more than two hours ago either! Without him having to speak she knew she was safe and didn’t need to be afraid, slowly Gabby began to pull herself up into a sitting position as he crouched down next to her.

Reaching the alleyway Mark watched as the guy let go and tried to run off, being this close and seeing her fear Mark knew he couldn’t just walk away. As the guy tried to run Mark caught him and had him held fast against the ground, he was about to call the cops but when he heard her tearful sobs another part of Mark caused him to go to her side; allowing the guy to make his escape. Mark was within inches of her side when she looked up into his eyes, he could tell at that moment she knew who he was; but somehow he could tell she wasn’t like the rest. As she almost smiled and brought herself up into a sitting position, Mark knelt down next to her and spoke.


“You don’t need to be afraid, he’s gone now. My name’s Mark, here let me help you.” Holding out his hand Mark smiled softly at Gabby, instantly making her feel even more at easy. Softly smiling back Gabby had to blink a few times before she could focus and take his hand, a million and one thoughts running through her mind all at once. Is this really the Undertaker stood before me? Gabby thought as she took his hand and allowed him to help her to her feet, suddenly she realised she hadn’t said thank you or even introduced herself.

“Thank you for coming to my aid Mark, not many would. My name’s Gabby, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” Gabby held out her hand, enjoying the gently power in his grip. Although Gabby had been through a lot recently she still had good faith in mankind, especially now. As they stood in silence for a few moments Gabby studied Mark and soon realised he was doing the same to her, smiling Mark sensed she was doing much the same as he and suggested the head back to MSG while she recovered. The pair walked slowly and in almost silence both trying to figure the other out, the silence lasted until they reached the bar inside MSG that Gabby had just come from. Walking in Mark scanned the room, not just for somewhere to sit but also for fans. Not that it mattered who he was seen with, more the fact he wanted to get to know her alone and away from the job he’d just left behind. Showing Gabby to a small out-of-the-way table in the corner Mark ordered the drinks and some food for himself, having not eaten since earlier in the day he was beginning to feel hungry.

“Are you sure you’re ok Gabby, he hasn’t hurt you has he?” Mark’s soft soothing words caused Gabby to wake from the line of thought she was currently on, nodding she smiled and assured him she was fine before continuing.

“I saw your match, must have been a hard match; I bet it’s hard to walk away after so long?” Watching as Mark sighed she realised she had done the self same thing she hated her friends for doing, Gabby had watched how many of her friends had become all “star struck” when faced with famous people and she had seen how they had felt about it. Some celebrities loved the attention and the adoration, but not all of them! Some hated it and longed for people to treat them as the human beings they felt they were, something Gabby always tried to do. So why can’t I do that with Mark? Gabby thought as she begun to drift off into a dream world again, only partly hearing Mark’s answer.

“Yeah kinda, it was nice to end with a win I guess. Why weren’t you at the show, I mean I didn’t see you at the show and you don’t have the bands they give out now…” Mark’s words trailed off as he noticed Gabby was looking lost and vacant, as the drinks and food came Gabby smiled and apologised.

“I’m sorry Mark; here I am talking about your match and stuff when I should be thanking you for saving me and coming to my rescue back there!” Smiling Gabby touched Mark’s arm softly allowing it to linger a little, enjoying the warmth that came from this gentle giant sat in front of her. Mark smiled and told Gabby it was fine, if she wanted to talk about it he would happily answer her questions; softly smiling back Gabby nodded and took a sip from the beer in front of her.

“Your accent…” Mark began as he too took a sip from the beer in front of him, offering his plate of food to Gabby; who accepted kindly.

“You’re British right? Did you come just for the show or was it a holiday, I always enjoyed going to the UK I always got a great reception from the fans.” Mark continued as he watched Gabby eat, trying not to stare but realising he couldn’t help himself.

“I didn’t realise there was a show to be honest, this was a well earned and deserved break on my part. I am glad I came to MSG though, even if it was because I couldn’t sleep!” Gabby replied smiling back at Mark as she took a bite from the potato wedge she had taken from Mark’s plate, nodding her thanks to him as she did. As the pair continued to talk both knew they would want to stay longer and longer, but also both well aware that this even would have to end sometime. With a sadness in her eyes that she was more than a little used to, Gabby made her excuses and left for the bathroom hoping and praying this evening could continue for as long as possible. Looking into the mirror as she stood in the restroom Gabby tried to make the redness from her earlier tears disappear, not really sure where this night would end or why she was so worried about her tears she did her best to smile and return to Mark.

As she approached the table Gabby studied Mark slightly, noticing how he seemed to have a look of a man who had the weight of the world upon his shoulders. As she approached Mark, he looked towards her, smiling broadly as he did so. Waiting until she was seated, Mark took a deep breath and went to speak. But before he had the chance a young kid came bounding over and politely asked for an autograph, smiling and nodding Mark signed the kid’s picture and the tried to turn his attention back to Gabby who had been sitting waiting patiently.

“It must be a burden, but something you are happy to do?” Gabby said as she noticed the sadness in Mark’s eyes, sighing slightly and trying to smile Mark nodded and replied.

“Don’t get me wrong I am more than a little grateful to these fans, not only for supporting me but also for putting me over and giving me such a good career… But yes, sometimes it can get a little too much.” As they sat talking about nothing and everything both realised that the feelings they first felt for each other were not about to go away, both wanted this night to last forever. After they had finished their drinks and food Mark offered to Walk Gabby back to her hotel, hoping she would accept so they could spend longer together. Accepting Mark’s kind offer Gabby left with The Undertaker close behind her, still unsure where this would end Gabby knew she was not only safe but also happy. Slowly they walked through the still buzzing New York streets, partly talking and partly taking in the sights that surrounded them. If he was honest Mark loved New York almost as much as his home town, it was one of those City’s that you either loved or hated. And Gabby loved the City that never sleeps; it was a place she could always feel happy in! No matter what she had been going through she could always be happy when she was in New York City, it was her kind of town!

As they reached Gabby’s hotel she didn’t need to think twice about inviting Mark up for coffee, and Mark didn’t need to think twice about accepting! If they were both honest, neither of them wanted the evening to end and both were more than a little happy for it to continue. As they sat in the dim light of the room and drank their coffee’s it was Mark who took the bold step first, taking a deep breath and hoping he wasn’t about to talk out of place.

“So, what’s a beautiful young lady like you doing all alone in a place like New York?” Mark smiled and hoped she would see his question for what it was, just a “curious asking” question. He wanted to know more about her and more of what her story was, it’s just that he wasn’t that good at asking! After being married for as long as he was, Mark had to admit that he was a little bit out of practice! Smiling while trying not to laugh, Gabby knew how Mark had meant his question. She also knew that this could make or break their budding friendship, taking a deep breath Gabby began with the words she seemed to always be saying these days.

“It’s a long story Mark, a very long and complicated story!” Hoping in a way that his answer would be to continue, Gabby waited to hear him sigh or make some kind of noise but when nothing came she wasn’t sure what to do. Looking up into his eyes she saw him looking right back at her, his eyes were telling her he wanted to hear all about it and that he was interested. So with a nod she continued, hoping he would still want to stay around when she had finished.

“When I was 12 years old I was raped by my teacher…” As Gabby continued to tell Mark about her troubled life and all that had happened to her she noticed that he never once took his eyes from her, even when he came sat next to her and held her hand he never once took his eyes from her own. As she told him about the bullying she had endured because of it, and the way her family was the only people to stand by her and believe her. As Gabby continued to tell Mark of how she had spent most of her school days in fear and then struggling to get work and find a place in life she could find peace, and how when she finally thought she had found the one; how he’d hurt and broke her. Still Mark was holding her hand and looking into her eyes, the compassion and understand in them made Gabby feel not only comfortable but also safe.

“And that’s basically how I ended up here, alone and wishing I didn’t have to go back to England…See, I told you it was long and complicated didn’t I...” Gabby said as she finished her story and tried to smile, hoping and praying Mark wasn’t about to run for the door. Sighing and smiling softly Mark lightly gripped Gabby’s hand making her aware he was still there and listening, letting out another audibly sigh Mark proceeded to tell Gabby his story.

“Well, I guess you know pretty much about my life in the wrestling business…” Mark began, allowing Gabby to nod silently.

“Well, I guess I am the type of wrestler that is pretty much like his character… well that is apart from being the Deadman and an actual Undertaker!” They both smiled as Gabby let out a little laugh, Gabby wasn’t a huge wrestling fan; well not anymore anyway! She did know a little bit about the character Mark played, but not about the man.

“I guess the trouble started when I met Sara, my second wife… Now don’t get me wrong I loved her with all I had, but my job was always going to cause problems between us somehow.” Mark continued, telling Gabby how their marriage had almost come to an end before her illness struck.

“I think we had both pretty much agreed to end it when Sara became ill, it was hard for me to be with her as much as I wanted to. The only way I could be with her was when I managed to get time off from the shows, thankfully Vince was very understanding about it all.” Mark drained the last dregs of the cup of coffee and returned it to the side table; instinctively he put his arm around Gabby. This should have shocked Gabby only it never, she just instinctively made herself comfortable in his arms as Mark went on.

“I remember it was when I had that battle with Vince in that Buried Alive Match where Kane helped Vince win, I had all that time off because Sara’s illness got worse…” With a certain sadness in his eyes that Gabby had not seen in a man’s eyes for a long time, Mark told of the day he lost his wife and children.

“I remember it was a very dark and rainy day; freezing cold outside and I think there was ice on the roads…” Gabby could almost see the tears forming in his eyes, she wanted to tell him it was ok and that he didn’t have to go on; but she didn’t get the chance… Mark continued.

“I can’t really remember how it all happened, but I was on my way back home after going to the drugstore for Sara… when I got to the door a neighbour was waiting there for me, telling me that Sara had took the kids out for a drive…” Mark’s words began to falter as he tried to hold it together, Gabby slid her arms around Mark’s warm body and pulled him slightly closer; allowing him to feel she was there for him.

“The cops came round about an hour later, confirming what I guess I already knew… Because of her illness she had collapsed while she was behind the wheel, she had no chance…” Mark’s words trailed off, Gabby just held him in her arms; silence filling the room. Absentmindedly Mark softly kissed the top of Gabby’s forehead, allowing Gabby to softly feel the warmth and tenderness of this gentle giant next to her.

“Oh Mark, I am so sorry… I can’t even begin to imagine how you must feel or how hard it still must be for you!” As the silence continued to fall around them neither felt the urge to leave or even move, both continued to just hold each other.

“I guess it’s gonna get a whole lot harder now I’m no longer on the road…” Mark began, trying to smile slightly before continuing.

“Man it feels weird being retired at 44… Good thing I have another business in the pipe line I guess.” Smiling slightly the only real thought in Gabby’s mind was that she didn’t want this evening to ever end, and if she was honest she got the impression that Mark felt the same way.

“What line of business are you moving into Mark?” Gabby asked as she cuddled further down into Mark’s strong arms, shifting his weight a little Mark gently pulled Gabby closer as he continued.

“Well, I have set up my own Real Estate business with my long time friend Charles… He’s better known as The Godfather.” Gabby smiled, looking up into Marks eyes for a moment before continuing.

“Another Wrestler? Man you guys get around…” Sniggering Gabby let out a slight giggle as Mark tickled her sides gently, smiling she quickly realised the atmosphere between them was dangerously leading towards that place where there would be no turning back.

As they enjoyed the silence and their own emotions and the feelings that moment was creating in both of them, both of them aware that this night would hopefully be the start of a long and passionate friendship. Absentmindedly Gabby began to gently stroke Mark’s side, softly and slowly causing Mark’s passion to grow at an alarming rate. Steadily Mark’s heart and passions began to grow and beat faster, making him all too well aware that he had fallen; and fallen fast. With his eyes fixed fast on the blank wall opposite him, Mark tried hard to remember he was a gentleman and that Gabby had to go home sometime soon. And with that single thought his heart sank and tears threatened to fall, how can I have fallen so quickly and so deeply was all that ran through his mind as Gabby snuggled further into his arms. As Gabby felt Mark’s heartbeat she sensed he felt as strong as she did, and this surprised her; these were feelings she wasn’t used to having.

“It must feel strange that this will be the last time you’ll have to sleep in a strange hotel room? I don’t know if I would ever get used to it.” Gabby asked as she shut her eyes and almost buried her head into Mark’s warm and solid chest, revelling in the warmth and gently strength of his body.

“I am kinda looking forward to it, but also I will miss travelling with the guys. It will be hard I guess, but I think the hardest thing for me will be the being at home all the time all alone… it’s been a long time since I’ve been alone like that.” The sadness in his voice was unmistakeable, as was the tears he was trying to hide; if Gabby could tell one thing it was hidden tears. Sighing deeply, Mark knew his heart would break the moment he walked out the door and out of her life; he also knew it would have to happen. And then he felt a surge of emotions run through his veins, causing him to speak out and speak up; unsure if this would make or break their budding friendship, just knowing he needed to say what was on his mind.

“Stay with me Gabby, don’t go home..” As his heart began to beat harder and deeper in his chest, Mark could just about hear his thoughts turn into words as he continued.

“I can’t imagine another moment without you here, by my side… please say you’ll stay?” As the silence surrounded them, Gabby could now hear her own heartbeat loud and clear; Mark’s words resonating through her mind… along with a million and one other thoughts.

“Mark have you thought this through? I have no job and no where to stay and…” Just as quickly as she began, Gabby stopped again; realising that she was doing what she had always done… run away from her heart and feelings.

“Oh Mark… Are you sure this is what you want? Because it… you are what I want.” Gabby finally felt as though she could be honest and say how she really felt, this was what she wanted; Mark was who she wanted to be with. Looking into her deep brown eyes Mark’s eyes seemed to tell Gabby all she needed to know as he nodded his head and spoke softly, never once taking his eyes from her own.

“I’ve never been more sure than I am right now, you… this is what I want.” Pausing Mark finally felt able to say the words that had been stuck in his throat since they had first met, finally he was ready to lay it all out there on the line.

“I’m in love with you Gabby, you make me feel complete again… please stay.” With his words all Gabby’s fears and concerns left her and as if a great weight had been lifted from her she too finally felt able to say the words that had been cruelly taken from her as a child, finally she too had found her voice.

“I love you too Mark, it has been so long since I have been able to say that…” Pausing Gabby brought herself up so she was almost level with Mark’s face before she continued, taking a deep breath before she finally made her choice.

“I want to stay with you, so long as you are sure; then I am sure this is what I want too. I’d love to stay with you Mark…” With a slight smile both Mark and Gabby knew they had made the right choice and as she gently kissed Mark’s cheek, Gabby finally felt like she belonged. As Mark caught her face gently in his giant hands and held her there she could feel the butterflies she thought had long since abandoned her, softly Mark lay tender gently light kisses upon her cheeks and face before softly and tenderly kissing her lips. Within seconds Gabby had almost melted into Mark’s arms and as Mark continued to lay this soft assault upon her lips Gabby snuggled down into Mark’s huge arms, both continued to kiss passionately and as they broke to chat and cuddle the two would soon fall asleep in each other’s arms dreaming of their futures together.

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