[chapter twelve]

"We need to talk about this, Fiona." Shannon insisted.

"We really don't, Shannon." Fiona returned, throwing another shirt in her bag.

"Fiona, you're being immature. It was one girl." Shannon said.

"One girl. One 19 year old, blond, tiny cute girl whom you fucked in our bed, Shannon." Fiona spat. "I knew things were bad, but…"

"Let's just forget it." Shannon said. "Stay."

"No." Fiona said defiantly. "I can't forget, I don't want to stay, and I don't really have anything else to say to you. Things haven't been good here, and you know that. Of course, instead of being a mature adult and either working through it or breaking up, you chose to cheat on me. Nicely done, Shannon."

"Where are you going to go?" Shannon asked. "Going to go shack up with Junior?"

Fiona's eyes blazed as she turned to face Shannon. "How dare you." She breathed.

"I know you're in love with him. I'm not blind, Fiona." Shannon lobbed back. "Go stay with your famous driver. Your sugar daddy."

"Fuck you." Fiona spat. "I was never anything but faithful to you, and I wanted to make this work. You are the one who walked away, not me. I'll be back in a few days to get my stuff and to discuss what we are doing with the house."

"What do you mean?" Shannon asked.

"It's my house." Fiona said. "My paychecks paid for most of it. And I want it back. But frankly, I can't stand the idea of spending one more night in it with you here."

"Have fun at Junior's." Shannon said nastily.

"I'm staying with Maggie, you bastard." Fiona blurted. "I can't believe this is happening to us. I trusted you! Do you have any idea how walking in on you made me feel??"

"Get out." Shannon breathed. "I can't do this with you."

"Start packing, Shannon." Fiona said. "I'll be back in a few days." She turned and walked out of the room.

"Give Junior a kiss for me." Shannon called after her. The slam of the front door was his only reply.

***

(Sunday, Pocono Raceway)

Junior yanked his firesuit up and grabbed his helmet. Normally before a race he was focused, steady, calm.

Today he was just pissy.

He and Fiona had barely spoken all week, and it was tearing him up inside. He'd even stooped to following her home one night - apparently she had moved out of the house she shared with Shannon and was staying with Fiona, but she hadn't said anything to him about it. They had both displayed nothing but professionalism and cool courtesy to each other all week. He hated it.

Now he was pissy because he'd seen no less than 5 guys hit on Fiona as they walked through the paddock area. It's like she was emitting a signal that she was single.

But dammit, she was his.

"Junior, let's get you to the car. We only have a few minutes." Fiona rounded the corner and motioned for him to follow her.

"No." Junior said defiantly.

"No?" Fiona questioned. "What's wrong?"

"This whole thing…I can't keep my mind on driving when I keep thinking about you." Junior argued.

"We've been through this…" Fiona began.

"We haven't been through anything. We spent the night together, and we haven't talked since. I can't do this." Junior said. "It's not fair."

"I'll make you a deal." Fiona sighed. "Go out there, drive that car, and when the race is over, we'll talk."

"Promise?" Junior returned.

"Yes." Fiona said.

"Are you going to be on the war wagon? On the radio?" Junior asked.

"Yeah, I'll be there. It's my job, isn't it?" She asked.

"Sounds like a chore." Junior said, walking towards his waiting car.

"I love my job. You know that." Fiona said quietly. "Even though things are…weird, I wouldn't want to do anything else."

Fiona walked away as Junior climbed into his car and began strapping in. She spoke to several journalists and promoters about Junior's chances for the day, then took her spot on the war wagon. She pulled on the oversized headset and waited for the race to begin.

Junior steadily worked his way through traffic for the first 30 laps, despite the car being tight in the tunnel turn. Fiona listened as Ty, Junior's spotter, read him lap times and track positions. Junior sounded calm and determined as he passed drivers throughout the track. Fiona clicked over to listen to the television coverage for a few minutes to see how other teams were doing on the track, see if she could pick up any good information for the Brew Crew to use.

"Trouble, front straightaway!" Allen Bestwick called to the television viewers. "Junior and Robby Gordon have collided on the front straightaway!"

Fiona's heart leapt to her throat as she stood to try and see the front straightaway. She cried out as she saw a red car flipping end over end, round and round in the grass before the grandstand. She switched channels and could hear Ty frantically trying to reach Junior on the radio.

"Junior! Junior! Are you okay? Talk to me!" Ty begged. Tony Sr and the entire pit crew crammed in front of the TV monitor to see what happened, to see what they needed to do. Fiona waited for Junior's car to slide to a halt, and to hear his voice laughing at the wreck.

But all she heard was silence.

"Oh god…" She whispered, her hand flying to her mouth. "Please…"

"Junior! Junior!" Ty begged, as the car slammed to a stop by a wall. Upside down. The front and back ends destroyed. The car not even a shadow of what it was moments earlier.

Junior's radio crackled as tears poured down Fiona's cheeks. "Fi…" She thought she heard him whisper.

Tony Sr's head snapped up and looked at her. "Talk to him!" Tony commanded. "Let him hear your voice! Keep him awake!"

"J…I'm here. Talk to me." Fiona said, her hands shaking as she depressed the 'talk' button.

"Fi…Fi, I'm trapped." Junior sounded panicked. "Fire…"

"There's no fire, J. I promise. Just sit tight, the crew is on their way to you. Are you okay? Talk to me." Fiona commanded, all business now. She could see the remains of his car, but no fire was in sight.

"I'm okay. I think. I slammed everything pretty hard, but I think I'm okay." Junior said. "I'm upside down, and I can't get out. I can't get out. I can't even get my helmet off."

"10 seconds, J. They are almost there to help you. You're doing fine - just concentrate on my voice. Everything is fine. Except for giving me a hell of a scare, you bastard. That was a hell of a ride." She smiled through the tears, hoping he could hear the teasing in her voice.

"Had to get your attention somehow." Junior said. "Hang on, the guys are here…"

Fiona's headset went silent as the safety crew pulled Junior from the wreckage of his car. She knew he would be taken to the in field car center. She ripped the headset off and scrambled off the wagon. Without waiting, she sprinted to the care center - she was going to be waiting for him, no matter what.

A few minutes later, the ambulance pulled up and she could see Junior grinning in the back, laughing with a track worker. As the doors opened, he climbed down gingerly, not putting his full weight on his left leg. He walked into the 'waiting area', limping slightly. She ran forward and he turned to face her. She catapulted into his arms and held him tightly, her arms wrapped around his waist, his arms enveloping her.

"Don't let go." She whispered.

"I won't." He whispered back.

"Are you okay? Are you sure? When I saw the car…" Fiona mumbled. "Are you sure?"

"I dinged up my knee - banged it on the roll cage. But I'm fine. Fi, I'm fine. I'm here." Junior reassured her. "Hearing your voice…if you hadn't been there, I think I would have hyperventilated or passed out. The wreck wasn't scary, but being pinned inside sure as hell was."

"Here, let the doctor check you out." Fiona disentangled herself from him reluctantly. "I'll be right here, waiting for you."

"Hey…find out if we are going to get the car back out on the track." Junior called over his shoulder as he was led away. Fiona simply laughed.

chapter thirteen