[chapter two]

"Honey, are you home?" Fiona called as she closed the front door and dropped her bag. Kicking off her heels, she padded through the house towards the kitchen.

"I'm in here." She heard his voice call as she walked into the kitchen. Shannon had his back to her, and was furiously chopping vegetables. Wrapping her arms around his waist, Fiona pressed her cheek against his back.

"What's for dinner?" She asked, snuggling him closely.

"Stir fry. I think." Shannon laughed slightly and turned around to wrap his arms around her and drop a kiss onto her right eyelid. "How are you?"

"Tired. Sorry I'm late, Maggie and I went for a quick drink."

"I figured the terrible two were out causing trouble. How is our gal?" Shannon asked, turning back to his waiting vegetables.

"She's stressed. Something about a merger." Fiona said, hopping up on the counter to watch Shannon. His eyes roamed from his cutting board to the edge of her skirt, now dangerously high on her thighs. "I was hoping she would have some good ideas for a pitch, but she was drawing a blank too. Any ideas what I can tell to…"

Shannon had slid her across the countertop until she was directly in front of him. Instinctively, Fiona wrapped her legs around his waist with a grin. Shannon snaked his hands under her sweater while nuzzling her neck. "I don't have any ideas but one right now." He muttered huskily.

"What about dinner?" Fiona asked, laughing as Shannon yanked her sweater off.

Two hours later, they ordered takeout.

Fiona rubbed the last of the moisturizer into his skin, then snapped off the bathroom light. Padding across the bedroom, she slid into bed where Shannon was already breathing heavily in sleep. She brushed some hair from his forehead and kissed him lightly. Turning off the light, she snuggled down into their bed, entwining his hand with hers.

She and Shannon had been together for over two years. They had met at UNC, when they were both finishing up their undergraduate degrees - she was a marketing major, he a graphic design major. Maggie was the one who introduced the two of them, as they had several friends in common. They had both been single and quickly grew attached to each other. After graduation, it seemed natural that they would move in together. As they both succeeded in the "real world" they had moved from the scary little flat they originally had rented to a modest rental house in a quiet neighborhood. Then Fiona had gotten the job with DEI, and was to move to Mooresville. Shannon, able to work independently from almost anywhere, moved with Fiona to the smaller town - about the same time Maggie was hired by the energy utility in Charlotte. Though both Fiona and Shannon were working furiously to get established with their new jobs, they had always tried to find time together, and even had managed to take a couple of mini-vacations. Fiona sometimes wondered if marriage was in the future, now that their lives were beginning to settle. She'd dated boys before, but Shannon was her first "real love".

Lately she had felt Shannon slipping away - he was always at work or sitting in front of his computer at home. Fiona knew she was busy as well, but always tried to make an effort to set aside time for Shannon. She didn't like the idea of only seeing him at bedtime or first thing in the morning, like so many couples she knew. She just needed to make a bit more of an effort to see him, surprise him, and make him remember why they had fallen for each other in the first place.

Fiona closed her eyes and tried to fall asleep. Unfortunately, all she saw in her head were the colours of the cars in DEI's garages, blank pieces of paper, and guys in firesuits everywhere. She loved NASCAR, and had been a fan her whole life - just like her mother. Getting the job at DEI was a dream, and the work was challenging and fun. She wished she had more opportunity to go to some of the tracks or interact with the teams more, but she was content to do her part to help the team succeed. Jade was a great mentor, and included her in lots of "strategy meetings" and gave her assignments that often should have gone to someone more senior than herself. She was grateful to Jade for all his help and was glad to have him as a boss. She really felt like part of the team in Mooresville. She belonged in this job.

She finally drifted to sleep with visions of asphalt ovals and war wagons in her head.

chapter three