Chapter One – An Interview Form
Three days ago, Emily had been stood at an airport in Nottingham, massaging her head where one of her first ever hangovers lingered from the night before. She had been surrounded by friends and family who threw well-wishes at her like rose petals.
Now, she stood in front of Bellevue Plaza in Illinois, recovered from the jet-lag that came with travelling across the pond. She was wearing black tights and a pretty navy, chiffon blue dress that had a butterfly pattern. On her feet was a pair of navy blue ballet pumps and over her shoulder hung a black tote bag. Her golden blonde hair fell straight down her back and over her shoulders, whilst a full fringe flopped nearly into her eyes and choppy layers framed her face.
Here she was, finally in America, about to try-out for her dream. Of course, no one else knew that yet, apart from the owner of the promotion whom she had been emailing yesterday. He had seemed impressed by her work so far and, seeing as there would be a show tonight, he had asked her to come along and try-out afterwards. She was about to take the first step on the ladder to success. At least, that's what she hoped was going to happen.
Taking a deep breath, she entered the building, paid for her ticket, and took a seat. The 'arena' that had been set up was small but there was still plenty of room for the wrestlers. There was a ring in the middle, surrounded by chairs, and a little way off there was a small area where there was a door in the wall and a commentator's desk set up.
The room was slowly filling with a buzzing audience. There were mostly couples or individuals. She could only see two children who were clearly (very hyper) brothers. She chose a seat a little way back from the front row. She knew that the indie wrestlers tended to get very involved with the crowd. Usually she was all for that, but right then, she just wanted to watch and get used to how this particular promotion played out.
About ten minutes later, the first match started. Right from the beginning, the fans were involved. People were yelling and throwing things at the heels whilst they screamed and cheered for the faces. The atmosphere was amazing. She had never been to an independent promotion that was so loud. Fans were really getting into it.
About half way through the show, a man wearing long shorts with bleached blonde hair entered the ring to enormous heat from the audience. He seemed only a few years older than her but he was clearly well-trained. He had a tattoo of the Pepsi logo on his shoulder. She had a feeling that this was going to be an interesting promo so she sat back, crossed her legs, and watched.
Immediately, the man began cutting in to the crowd, calling everyone fat and ugly. She watched with an amused smile as he climbed out of the ring to get in a hater's face. He was yelling at a girl who was surrounded by friends who were taking offence to what he was saying to her. He challenged them to fight but obviously, they couldn't. One man tried to push past the security guard to get at him but he was held back. Emily snorted.
That was a bad move as the wrestler's attention snapped to her.
"What are you staring at, blondie?" he began, his voice erupting from the microphone, "Like what you see?"
She snorted again, crossing her arms and smirking. He had no idea who she was. Never mind – he would soon enough… as long as she got a yes.
He was still talking, "I can see you checking me out. I bet you want a piece of this, don't you?" She rolled her eyes as he made his way over to her, standing so close that the security guard was pushed to the side. He gestured to his pretty impressive six-pack. "I bet you want to touch this, don't you."
She looked up at his face, making sure that her expression was smoothed over to look self-assured and arrogant with her lips very slightly hinting at a smirk and one eyebrow elegantly raised. She hoped he realised that he had met his match.
When she spoke, she used her promo voice and was proud to hear that it echoed around the room so that everyone could hear, "I wouldn't touch you dressed like that, you freak – you probably stole those shorts from a homeless person."
"British?" his smirk grew, "I should have guessed from the teeth."
He turned and walked back to the ring. She had to bite her tongue to stop herself from laughing. If all he could insult her with was her teeth then she must be doing well. She watched the rest of the show with a smile on her face. As the wrestler (whose name she had caught as CM Punk) was leaving, he threw back a wink at her, which she answered with another eye-roll.
As people began to leave, she brushed her skirt down and took a deep breath. Her heart was thudding loudly in her chest as she followed the instructions Ian Rotten had given her. She walked over to the commentator's desk and told them that Rotten had asked for her. One of them then led her through the door to the backstage area where men were getting changed left, right and centre. Innocent Emily blushed and looked away quickly as one man took his towel from his waist right next to her.
Rotten wasn't far away. He was a rather chubby man with blonde hair who looked thoroughly busy but pleased with how the night had gone. As soon as he saw her, he clapped his hands together with a beaming smile.
"Ah, you must be Miss Thornhill!"
"Yes, sir," she smiled politely, holding out her hand which he shook enthusiastically, "And you must be Mr Rotten."
"Please, call me Ian. Right, I'll take it you're all prepared for your try-out. You're clearly not dressed for it – do you have your gear with you?" She nodded. "Great. You go get changed. I've asked Rain to wrestle with you. I think she's around the corner in the women's changing area."
She followed his directions to the women's changing area, which was just around the other side of a wall in the room. People could just wander over to each side as they pleased, although thankfully there were only women there at that time – two women to be accurate. They were talking in the kind of low, bitchy hiss that meant gossip. Both of their heads snapped up and their poisonous words fell silent as Emily entered. She made sure that her smile was in place.
"Hi, is one of you Rain?" she asked with false cheeriness.
Four eyes scanned her up and down before one of them spoke with a sneer.
"Who wants to know?"
She held out my hand, "Emily Thornhill. I'm trying out for the promotion."
The shorter woman looked at her hand as if she was holding out a dead rat to her. After a few moments, she let it drop along with her false attitude. You could slice the tension in the room with a knife. Straightening to her full height, which was about the same height as the taller woman, Emily looked like an ice sculpture of some kind of queen. The other two wrestlers ground their teeth like threatened wolves ready to pounce.
"Right," the shorter brunette girl sneered, "So I'll be wrestling you." She looked Emily up and down before stretching her lips to show her pearly whites. "Good luck!" She pushed past her suddenly, trying to knock her over as she walked away, but Emily stood firm so Rain probably only succeeded in hurting herself. There was an audible mutter as she turned the corner. "You'll need it."
Shaking her head, Emily turned to regard the taller woman. She raised an eyebrow arrogantly. "And you are?"
"My ring name's Lucy. And I don't give a shit who you are, so just hurry up and get this over with so Rain and I can go home."
Emily got changed quickly into her ring gear that she brought over from England. It consisted of a navy blue crop top that was laced at the sides and some navy blue tights that were also laced at the sides, with her name on the bum in white swirly writing.
When she went out to the ring, there were a few more people than she had expected. Ian Rotten was sitting in a ringside seat and the two commentators were sitting fairly near him whilst Lucy sat a few seats back. She took hold of the middle rope and pulled herself up onto the apron before ducking under the bottom rope. Rain was standing there with her hands on her hips and a grimace on her face. Emily stretched whilst smirking at her opponent.
She was a very technical wrestler as she had always struggled with the high-risk moves. They started off by grappling but as the match went on and she got into the swing of it, Emily found herself performing moves that she usually saved for special events, showing off to the best of her ability. Rain brought her best too, even if it was a little rougher than she was used to. Emily ended the match with her finisher, the Queen's Coin Toss, which was a hurricanarana mixed with a backflip and ended up with Rain in the pinning position. She got a three-count despite Rain's struggling.
Breathing heavily, she stood up and bowed to her audience. She became aware that there were more pairs of eyes than she had first thought. As Ian Rotten stood up to address her, she glanced over his shoulder and saw three of the male wrestlers standing by the backstage door, clapping. One of them was CM Punk but she didn't know the other men's names.
"That was very impressive, Emily," Rotten was saying when she tuned back into him, "Very impressive indeed. You could learn a thing or two from that show, Rain." The woman who was still picking herself up from the mat made a sound that was halfway between a groan and a retch but Rotten ignored her. "Tell you what, Miss Thornhill, why don't you give me your address and telephone number and I'll contact you in a few days with details for a meeting."
She grinned as she leant against the ropes towards him, "So I'm officially employed?"
"Almost. Nothing's official until the paperwork's signed."
He nodded before heading back to the backstage area. A hand grabbed Emily's shoulder from behind and spun her around. Rain had turned a bright shade of red as she glowered at her.
"Never embarrass me like that again, bitch," she hissed.
Emily painted her mouth into a smirk as she rolled her eyes, ducking under the ropes and heading backstage. Punk grinned as she passed him.
"So, England, you're a wrestler?"
She nodded, "Bet you're regretting cutting a promo on me now, aren't you?"
"Not at all," he chuckled, leaning against the wall casually, "I'm looking forward to the feud I've just created." His lip ring glinted. "We can wrestle each other."
She rolled he eyes at his suggestive smile, making to push past him to get changed. He grabbed her arm before she could. She jerked, as if she was about to hit him, but his smile had relaxed to look friendly so she stopped resisting. He held out his hand for her to shake. "Phil Brooks. My friends call me Punk."
"Emily Thornhill. My friends call me Em, Millie or Millz depending on the friend. You can call me Emily."
"I'm Scott Colton," one of the other men said through a chuckle, moving to shake her hand, "Otherwise known as Colt Cabana."
"And I'm Chris Hero. My real name's Chris Spradlin."
"Great. I need to get changed and go home. Hopefully I'll see you around."
They nodded and headed off out of the arena as she entered the backstage area and changed back into her casual clothes.