Features: Undertaker (Mark Calaway)
Rating: NC17 for language and adult concepts
Usual disclaimer - own nothing but my original characters, all the other people own themselves, WWE owns the trademark names, I'm doing this to exercise my creativity and for the sheer pleasure of writing. Ask my therapist!
Thanks so much for the feedback so far - so glad to know people are enjoying the story!
Harley had forgotten how much she enjoyed Las Vegas. There was just something so damned brash and unapologetic about the place - how it celebrated its gaudy, tawdry reputation and its over the top lifestyles. Mind you, she could live without the heat, although at least it was a dry heat.
She was having a great time, too, catching up with old friends in the industry. The place was a mecca for pyrotechnics, and everyone wanted to show off. She had sat in a luxury suite high atop the Bellagio, sipping Cristal in the finest crystal flutes, watching the famous fountains, and taken in the most spectacular shows featuring close proximity pyros.
Tonight, she was meeting an old friend, Ben Martin. She'd had to ask Bob for the night off from the taping of Smackdown, as Ben insisted that they couldn't go out until Thursday, although he wouldn't say why. So she'd come back to the hotel after finishing up with the set up for the show to dress, and she was waiting in the lobby for Ben to arrive.
Mark had flown in that afternoon - he wasn't needed for Smackdown, but he'd been booked for appearances the following morning, and then, like everyone else, he was part of the four day marathon that was a Pay Per View weekend. He was checking in when the growl of a high performance engine made him turn his head, in time to see a sleek black Aston Martin DB9 pull up outside the hotel. The driver emerged, waving a hand at the approaching valet, exchanging a few words with him before handing him the keys and entering the lobby.
Harley smiled when she saw Ben coming into the hotel, and rose from where she had been sitting to walk towards him. He was tall and slender, and his suit was flawlessly tailored. His hair seemed darker than its usual blonde, and he'd grown a beard since she'd last seen him a few years ago. But that sweet, almost shy smile was unmistakable.
More than a few heads turned as Harley met the handsome man in the foyer, embracing him. Mark was a little astonished - this was a new side of Harley. She was wearing a black cocktail dress and high heels. He blinked, unable to credit this was the same woman - he had never seen her in anything but the shorts she always seemed to wear. The only thing that was even remotely familiar was her hair, with its multicoloured streaks.
Ben tucked Harley's hand through his arm and led her out to his DB9, opening the door for her and then taking the keys from the valet, smoothly pressing a tip into the man's hand before getting into the car himself. Harley chuckled as she looked him over, taking in the interior of the car and the Rolex watch peeking out from under his shirt cuff.
"Well, it's safe to say you're doing alright for yourself, Ben."
Ben gave her a rakish grin as he drove off from the hotel. "I'm enjoying a certain amount of success, yes."
They chatted as he drove down The Strip, and Harley's eyes widened as they drew up in front of the Wynn. A white gloved doorman opened the car door and helped her out, while Ben handed the keys to the valet. Taking Ben's arm, they walked into the hotel's luxurious interior, and towards Alex, the French restaurant and jewel in the crown of the Wynn's dining experiences. The lavish dining room, decorated in earthy tones, was spectacular, and a white coated waiter seated Harley at a small table while Ben sat opposite her.
She lay her evening purse on the table with a little shake of her head before smiling at Ben. "This is . . . "
"Hey, I'm showing off a little," he said easily, although she hadn't failed to notice how the Maître de had addressed him by name, before he'd said a word.
"It's working," Harley smiled. "I'm certainly impressed."
The menu that was placed in front of her was in a soft leather folder, and there were no prices listed. She guessed if you had to ask the price, then you probably couldn't afford to eat here.
She looked over at Ben with a helpless laugh. "I think I'm rather too spoiled for choice! What would you recommend?"
He smiled. "Everything here is good, but I think the tasting menu gives you the chance to sample some of the best they have to offer."
She glanced down at the first page, her eyes widening a little. "Seven courses, Ben?"
Laughing, he signalled the waiter. "They're small courses, Harley. Enough to taste and appreciate, no more."
She closed the menu and laid it aside. "Then the tasting menu would be lovely, thank you."
At her words, and Ben's nod, the waiter collected the menus and it wasn't long before the sommelier was pouring them champagne. Harley gave a little shiver of pleasure at the taste, and set the flute down.
Ben looked over at her. "So. Given up rockstars for wrestlers, Harley - I never thought I'd see the day."
She chuckled. "It's not really that much of a change, Ben. The sex appeal is still there, maybe moreseo. And there are a lot more wrestlers than there are members of a band." She winked at him.
He shook his head, laughing. "I've never understood the appeal."
"Oh, really? You work in casinos and hotels surrounded by dozens of show girls and entertainers!"
He rolled his eyes. "Every one of them obsessed with their diet, or their looks. They spend most of their time examining their faces minutely in a mirror, trying to eradicate the first signs of ageing!"
She leaned over to pat his hand, chuckling. "Poor Ben - life's a banquet, and you're just starving to death!"
"Do not quote Mame to me, Harley!" he grinned.
Their first course had arrived, a delicious little amuse of fine sushi-like raw fish with delectable relish and even caviar, which went deliciously with the crisp champagne. She savoured the first mouthful and then smiled at Ben again. The talk turned to their business - Ben was the head of a company that supplied pyrotechnics to most of the casinos and hotels, and his crews set up shows on scales she could only imagine.
The courses continued to come - fresh scallops, seared foie gras, fish, fork tender Waygu beef - each with a new wine. Harley felt her senses reeling from the tastes, and was glad of the first dessert course, a light coconut and mango concoction.
Ben had been fascinated by her description of the work she was doing, even though it was on a much smaller scale to what he was used to. He found her description of the wheedling she'd been hearing from wrestlers seeking new entrances particularly amusing.
"I see your point, Harley - they certainly sound a lot like rockstars! Isn't that frustrating?"
She shrugged, toying with the roasted pear which was the final course. "No, not really. It's more . . . appealing, actually. They're always so charming about it, and they're not above using their sex appeal to try to manipulate things in their favour."
"How can you find that charming? I loathe being backed into a corner by some showgirl who wants something special to let her catch more of the spotlight."
Laughing, Harley took a sip of the dessert wine, a deliciously sweet and fruity Coteaux du Layon. "I don't know. There's just something irresistible about them - they're like Pan's Lost Boys, endlessly playing and having fun. There's no malice in any of them - well, none that I've seen, anyway."
Ben arched an eyebrow. "And you're what, the Wendy-lady? Adopted to be a surrogate mother?"
She grinned. "Oh, I'm definitely not a mother figure! I'm rather more like Tinker Bell, providing the magic that adds to the fun along the way."
"And you're never going to grow up either, are you?" Ben's smile was affectionate as he took in that multicoloured hair, and the tattoos that were proudly on display in the nearly backless dress she was wearing.
Winking at him, she tasted the toffee cream of her dessert. "Not if I can help it!"
After dinner, which Harley had to admit had been delectable, if a little overwhelming, they retired to the Parasol Up Lounge, where Ben's face was familiar enough to guarantee them a prime table on the patio to watch the light show at the Lake of Dreams. Her head was swimming a little from the wine at dinner, but she couldn't resist a limoncello. The tart sweetness seemed to clear her palate, although she thought rather wistfully that it wasn't a patch on Enzo's grappa.
The light and music show was delightful, and she smiled at Ben as it ended.
"This place is incredible - thank you for bringing me here."
"Thank you for coming with me," Ben smiled back at her. "Another drink?"
She shook her head. "Oh, no thank you. I think I'm going to have to ask you to take me home, Ben - I've got an early start in the morning, to make up for having tonight off."
"I'm rather looking forward to seeing this show you're working with on Sunday night, Harley," he said as he rose to his feet and moved to hold her chair for her.
"It's a spectacle, alright. Not quite like that," she gestured to the lake, where the water was shimmering as it settled into a more tranquil state, "but impressive, nonetheless."
They walked out of the casino, talking quietly as the valet brought the car around, and Ben handed her into it and closed the door carefully before driving her back to her hotel. He came around to the passenger side of the car as the doorman opened her door for her, and handed her out, keeping hold of her hand as he walked her to the lobby. She smiled at him, and leaned up on her tiptoes to kiss his cheek.
"Thank you, Ben - it was a lovely evening."
He smiled at her. "It was my pleasure. I'll call you on Sunday, let you know when I'll be arriving at your show, okay?"
She nodded, and they wished each other goodnight. She glanced at the clock over the concierge desk and sighed. She felt like she could really use a coffee after all the different wines with dinner, but at this hour, it would just keep her awake too long. Instead, she took the elevator to her room on the tenth floor, giving John Layfield a smile as she passed him in the hallway.
As she got ready for bed, she thought about Ben. He'd always been a good friend, and she knew he was doing some cutting edge stuff with close proximity fireworks. She wondered if he could help her come up with the rain of fire for Glenn. Resolving to ask him about it on Sunday night, she crawled into bed and turned out the lights.
Harley was at the venue early the next morning to assist with the breakdown of the Smackdown set and the construction of the house show sets for the next two nights. The fan Axxess was set up in the adjoining convention centre, and judging from the crowds she had seen arriving at the venue, it was looking like a sell out.
She headed for Catering mid-morning, looking for a caffeine fix. She found a seat and sat down, taking a mouthful of her coffee. Lost in thought, she didn't register the appearance of another person at the table.
Looking up, she saw Jeff grinning at her from across the table.
"Hey Jeff," she smiled.
"Hey yourself. Where did you go last night?"
"I went out to dinner with a friend."
Jeff's eyebrows went up. "You blew off a show for a dinner date?"
"I didn't 'blow off' anything. I asked for the night off - the restaurant Ben took me to is only open Thursday through Monday, and there was no chance of getting any of the other nights off."
"Was he the guy with the DB9?"
Harley rolled her eyes. "Yes, that was him. And just so the rumour mill don't miss any of the other details, it was a Zegna suit, and yes, that was a Rolex. Honestly!"
Jeff held his hands out in a conciliatory gesture. "Don't bite my head off! I saw you getting in the car, that's all. It's a sweet ride."
Shaking her head, Harley sighed. "Sorry, Jeff, didn't mean to snap. It's just that it's a bit disturbing to think that my life is a goldfish bowl. It was dinner with someone I've known for years."
He looked at her with a curious expression. "You gonna go work with him?"
She shrugged. "I hadn't thought of it, and he didn't offer. I am thinking of asking for his help with that new effect I want to create, but that would be more of a collaboration."
Jeff wisely decided to change the subject. "So, wanna come clubbing with me tonight? You promised, remember?"
Sipping her coffee, she considered the idea. Tonight was going to be pretty easy, and there wasn't much work tomorrow, because the set wasn't changing. And he was right - she had promised.
"Sure, why not?"
He grinned. "Excellent!"
Harley found herself grinning in return. They made plans to leave from the venue after the show, so she took a break during the middle of the day to go back to the hotel and collect something to wear, leaving her bag in one of the women's locker rooms while she went back to work.
The show went off with the usual high energy that accompanied a Pay Per View weekend, and spirits were high backstage. Harley wasn't the only woman showering and changing into club wear, as it seemed everyone had had the same idea. There was a lot of good natured laughter and jostling as everyone jockeyed for position in front of the mirrors, putting the finishing touches on their hair and makeup.
Tonight, she was wearing an old favourite - a vintage gold mesh halter top from the age of disco. Adjusting the halter ties to allow the mesh to drape into a low neckline, she tied the waist ties behind her back. She teamed it with a pair of black hipsters, and her final treasures, a pair of mesh earrings that matched the top. She tossed her work clothes into her bag - one of the Divas had arranged for everyone's bag to be taken back to the hotel for them.
Harley left the locker room with Amy Dumas, and they went looking for the Hardy brothers, talking and laughing as they walked through the corridors. Glenn was coming out of the locker room as they passed, and he gave a low whistle, which Mark heard as he followed behind him.
Both women turned and grinned, and Harley chuckled as Amy blew Glenn a kiss. Mark's eyes widened as he saw Harley, taking in the halter top. When they continued down the hallway, Glenn's eyebrows raised, seeing Harley's bare back.
"Hey, are those tattoos?"
It was Mark's turn to chuckle. "Yep. Nice, huh?"
Glenn just grinned. "You know, I got a sudden urge to go clubbing."
Mark looked at him in astonishment. Glenn? Clubbing? His eyes flicked down the corridor, watching Harley and Amy walking away. Perhaps he could see the attraction in the idea, after all.
Funny how, in spite of the 'familiarity breeds contempt' thing they all had going on, they still tended to travel in a pack even when they didn't have to, Mark mused as the clubbing crowd milled around the two luxury people movers. Of course, there was the fact that together, they could relax and be themselves. Familiarity bred comfort, as well.
Someone, he hadn't caught who, apparently knew just the club to go to, and it wasn't long before they were being shown into the VIP lounge of the place. Here, at least, the dance music wasn't deafening, although they had a good view of the dancefloor. Mark ordered a beer and lounged back in one of the booths, and Amy grinned at him.
"Not dancing, 'Taker?"
He shook his head with a grin. "Nah, I'll leave that to you guys. I'm happy right where I am."
He wasn't the only one, of course. Glenn had no intention of hitting the dance floor either, nor did some of the other guys. But he didn't miss Jeff Hardy leading Harley out onto the packed floor.
She was easy to spot, the lights glinting off the gold of her top as she moved with the music. Jeff seemed to be enjoying himself as she danced so close to him in the crowd, and for a split second, he even contemplated taking the floor himself. After all, why should Hardy have all the fun?
The VIP lounge was quiet enough to carry on a conversation, and the group around the booth talked about their usual subjects, work and one another. Mark spotted Jeff and Harley taking a break from the dance floor, standing close together as they sipped drinks and talked.
Harley smiled, the club soda quenching her thirst. "This is a terrific club, Jeff."
He nodded, taking a mouthful of his beer. "I know. Matt and I know the guy who owns it - he always makes us welcome here."
They finished their drinks and headed back onto the dance floor, which was just as packed as it had been earlier, thanks the efforts of a DJ who kept great music coming. Including an extended mix of Pussycat Dolls tracks. Damn but she loved that group, it was her secret vice. She swayed her hips to the beat, her eyes closing as she gave herself up to the music.
She wasn't aware that Jeff had moved behind her until she felt his hands on her waist and felt his hips moving with hers. Leaning back against him, she smiled as his hand slipped around her waist to hold her closer to him as they danced, her eyes still closed. Probably not a good idea, she thought fuzzily, even as her hand came up to cover his, but the music was so damn seductive - just like the feel of Jeff's body against hers.
The Pussycat Dolls gave way to Jamiroquai, and Jeff took her hand and gently raised it as he moved into a turn, bringing her around to face him. She smiled at him, allowing him to draw her near as they danced. She knew she probably shouldn't, but she didn't resist, looking up into his smiling green eyes. His hand went to her waist again, holding her close to him as their bodies moved together.
Mark had been deep in conversation with Glenn and Paul, and it wasn't until the waitress set down a fresh round of beers that he realized he was getting looks from some of the others. Shannon Moore was one of them, and Mark noticed that he was glancing between the dance floor and the booth. Curious, Mark followed his gaze to the dance floor, and understood instantly. Jeff and Harley were dancing together - "together" being the operative word. And the "dancing" at this point seemed to consist mostly of their hips moving to the music with their eyes locked together.
He took a long swallow of his beer, thinking hard. He could go down there and break it up, drag Harley off the floor and threaten to beat Jeff to a bloody pulp for moving in on his woman. The rumour mill would love that! It did seem a little extreme, though.
Maybe he could go down there and try to cut in, give Harley an out if she didn't really want to be dancing quite that close. Except that she certainly looked like she was enjoying it, and Hardy looked like he was in heaven. And probably wouldn't take kindly to the interruption. There was also the complication that he wouldn't be caught dead dancing to this stuff.
Or he could just live and let live - after all, Harley and Jeff were both free, white and over twenty one. They could do whatever the hell they liked, including something that looked like foreplay set to music in public. Decisions, decisions.
Meanwhile, Jeff had pulled Harley closer, leaning in to speak into her ear, and she nodded. His arm around her shoulder, they left the dance floor and Jeff led her to a quiet table in the VIP lounge, smiling at her as they sat. A waitress took their drink orders, and Harley sat back with a smile.
"Having fun?" he asked.
She nodded. "Definitely."
She ruffled her hands through her hair to cool herself down a little and Jeff was struck with a devilish urge. Dipping two fingers into her glass, he fished out an ice cube when she wasn't looking, and then shifted closer to her. She smiled at him, and he reached out and ran the ice cube down her bare back quickly.
Harley's startled exclamation and squirming did not go un-noticed, nor did Jeff's broad grin. So when she began wriggling in her chair as Jeff's hand seemingly stroked over her back, eyebrows were raised, and Mark found himself the object of more of those looks. He had long since decided that he wasn't about to interfere with two people who seemed to be having a whale of a time, if the giggling and whispering were anything to go by.
After the initial shock, the ice had felt rather good against her skin and Jeff was teasing her rather deliciously with it, laughing softly in her ear at her wriggling. He was flirting rather outrageously too, which made him even more bewitching than usual. It didn't help to remind herself that he was her friend. Or that he was quite a bit younger than he was. So when he extended his hand to lead her back onto the dance floor, she followed willingly, and allowed him to hold her close as they danced to the slower songs.
The looks Mark was getting only intensified once Harley and Jeff were back on the dance floor, and finally Glenn looked at him with a grin.
"They're gonna start making book soon on what you're going to do about that," he said, gesturing to the couple with the beer he was holding.
"Why should I 'do' anything?" Mark asked mildly.
Glenn laughed. "Hey, it's your funeral. But if Hardy were cutting in on my woman, I'd be in his face about it."
Mark rolled his eyes. "She is not my woman. Hell, if you even suggested that she was anyone's 'woman', I think she'd tear your nuts off and feed them to you! But I see your point - the boy is disrespecting my yard, and I do have to deal with that."
He set down his beer and stood up. It helped that the music was slow dance stuff now - that much he could manage without making a fool of himself. Particularly with a few beers under his belt. The dance floor wasn't quite so crowded either, and as he walked out to it, he could feel the eyes on him from the VIP lounge. He tapped Jeff on the shoulder.
Jeff looked around, his eyebrows raising at the sight of Mark on the dance floor. Harley looked rather comically startled.
"What the hell - chief?"
Mark grinned at them both, his back to the VIP lounge. "It's nice to see you two kids having a good time, but you have to know that our colleagues are expecting me to come down here and create a scene."
Jeff stifled his own grin. "What do you plan on doing - chokeslamming me through a table?"
"Nah. Best to leave 'em guessing - how about you just let me cut in?"
As he thought, Jeff didn't exactly look pleased at the prospect. He chuckled softly. "Relax, just one dance, then I'm outta here."
Harley looked at both of them with barely concealed irritation. "And I don't get a say in this?"
"Come on Kate, one slow dance - would it kill you?" Mark grinned.
Jeff winked at her. "I'll be cutting back in to save you, Harley. And I'll make it look good, trust me."
Jeff threw his hands up and stalked off the dance floor as Mark took Harley in his arms with a grin. He wasn't holding her as close as Jeff had, but he moved gracefully for a big man. Harley darted glances up at him from under her lashes, but her eyes widened as his fingers ran over the ties at her waist that held her top in place.
He caught her look and chuckled, leaning down to whisper to her, "I remember these tops from the seventies, Kate. Very sexy. Always wondered what would happen if a fella undid these little ties on the dance floor."
"In your case, chief," she drawled, exaggerating her Southern accent, "it'd be a vicious dick punch and the death of your reputation as any kind of ladies man."
She gave him a sweet smile while he gaped at her, shaking his head. Jeff, true to his word, was then at his elbow, tapping his shoulder pointedly. He stepped back and gave Harley a little bow and walked off the dance floor, his shoulders shaking with suppressed laughter. Behind him, Jeff drew Harley back into his arms as the music continued.
Glenn looked at Mark curiously as he sat back down at the table.
"You know how they talk about Southern women bein' stronger than they look?"
Glenn nodded. "Sure."
Mark burst out laughing, looking over at Harley. "That right there is one of those strong Southern women. Delicate little flower, she ain't!"
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