[chapter seven]

"God, I'm exhausted." Fiona moaned, lying down on the bed next to Shannon.

"That's what you get for working too many hours. How's it going?" Shannon asked, closing his book to look at Fiona.

"It's going so, so great, Shay." Fiona gushed. "I love my job. And Junior is great, and Jade has been so helpful. I'm really sorry I've been gone, but…"

"It's fine, hon." Shannon said. "It just takes getting used to. I'm glad you are enjoying your job."

"Thanks." Fiona said sincerely. "How are things here on the ranch?"

"Fine, as usual. Maggie called earlier - asked you to call her tomorrow when you got the chance."

"Hopefully I can call her before we leave for the airport. Remember, I'm in New Hampshire this weekend, but you've got all my contact information. I fly out tomorrow night with Junior, and I'll either be back late Sunday night or Monday morning, depending on how things go." Fiona said, fluffing her pillow and settling down.

"Sure. No problem." Shannon said. "Don't worry about me."

"Shay…are you…" Fiona began.

"Go to sleep, Fi." Shannon said, snapping off the light. "It's fine."


(The following evening)

"Holy god, I'm nervous." Fiona whispered to Junior, who sat beside her. Their plane was taxiing down the runway towards the gate, and Fiona was frantically trying to gather her notes and papers together.

"Don't be." Junior said. "I'm a pro. Heck, you could have just stayed home - I can take care of things."

Fiona laughed, and Junior joined in. "With your penchant for sleeping in, you'd probably oversleep and miss your meeting with Budweiser, AND the driver's meeting, and possibly the race itself. I'll be knocking on your door bright and early."

"Slavedriver." Junior muttered.

"Shuddup." Fiona shot back. "Okay, so tomorrow morning…"

"You'll knock on my door at 9 am sharp, I go to the radio station, do a 20 minute show, then I meet with Bud execs, and then I have an autograph signing at the merch hauler. After that, I get to concentrate on being a race car driver for the weekend. Right?"

Fiona grinned. "Right. And in the meantime, I have to figure out how to handle all your fans, keep you moving, and try to keep girls from pinching your ass all the time." She stuck her tongue out at him.

"What ever happened to our 'nothing but professional' relationship?" Junior teased.

"It ended when you left a pair of boxers on my desk, dumbass." Fiona shot back. As the plane lurched to a halt, they stood and Fiona juggled several bags and her laptop. As she waited in the aisle ahead of her charge, she felt his hands on her shoulder.

"Let me carry this." Junior said softly, gently removing her heavy backpack.

Fiona looked over her shoulder into his blue eyes. "Thanks, J." As she looked forward again, Junior sighed inwardly. Sometimes, she was so sexy and didn't even know it…

They trundled up the aisle and into the airport - deserted, it being so late. Hustling to a waiting car, they were on their way to the hotel in minutes. Fiona dug around in her purse for her cell phone. "I have to call Mags or she'll kill me."

"Mags before Shannon?" Junior asked out of curiosity.

"Long story." Fiona answered. "I'll call him in a minute, but I want a non-frosty phone call first." She spoke to Maggie for several minutes and Junior tried not to eavesdrop, but had to laugh at the obvious "girl talk" he heard. Fiona laughed as she hung up the phone. "Maggie can't wait to meet you. She wants to know if you are as sexy in person as on TV."

"What did you tell her?" Junior smiled.

"Way, way sexier." Fiona winked at him.

"Is Maggie the one with curly hair, pretty tall?" Junior asked absently.

Fiona eyed him suspiciously. "How did you know that? You've never met her. Have you been stalking me?" She smiled.

"Uh…no. I uh…damn. The day before I met you, I saw you and her in The Connection. You were laughing and flirting with the bartender." Junior confessed with a blush.

"You're kidding." Fiona said, her jaw slightly open.

"Uh, no. I saw you there. That's why I was so surprised to meet you the next day. You were 'that cute girl from the bar'." Junior admitted.

"Maggie's the cute one. I'm the smart one." Fiona laughed.

"No." Junior said.

"No what?" Fiona questioned, getting out as the car pulled to the curb of the hotel.
"No. You're the pretty one." Junior said softly.

"Are you flirting with me?" Fiona asked.

"No. Just being honest." Junior said, slinging his bag over his shoulder. "But…what if I was flirting with you?"

"I'd chastise you for flirting with your publicist agent, and remind you of our professional relationship." Fiona answered smoothly. "But I'd also be really flattered, and a little tempted." She grinned broadly.

Junior sighed. He had to stop this…

"Shit, I have to call Shannon." Fiona said absently, redialing her cell phone. After letting it ring several times, she hung up, puzzled. "He's not there. That's weird, he said he would be home all night. Hrm." Fiona said to herself as they rode up the elevator to the 8th floor. "Okay, here's your key. Here's mine, and I'll see you at 9am tomorrow. Sleep well." Fiona said with a smile. "If you are very good tomorrow, I'll give you a cookie."

"Oreos?" Junior teased.

"Of course. They're free." Fiona smiled. "G'night, J."

"Good night, Fiona."

chapter eight