Shireen and Marcus both have unwanted suitors at their respective workplaces. Marcus gets a brilliant idea and decides to enlist Shireen's help in warding off his suitor and vice-versa. They cultivate a friendship but both of them have issues of their own they have to deal with.

Chapter 1

Shireen Miller walked into her office and grimaced to herself. Greg was in her chair again. She cleared her throat.

"Oh, hey babe." Greg vacated her seat.

"Greg, why are you here?" Shireen sighed. She sat in her recently occupied chair.

"A date, this Friday?" Greg grinned, ever the optimist. Shireen looked at him incredulously.

"Do you remember what happened the last time I went out with you?" Shireen frowned.

"Hey you can't blame that on me." Greg sighed in defeat.

"So who kissed me without permission? It obviously wasn't you right." Shireen rose an eyebrow.

"Okay you got me, but I'm only human." He gave her the puppy-dog look.

"The answer is no Greg, so unless you have something important for me, I have work to do." Shireen looked at him as he walked dejectedly out of her office. She leaned back in her chair and frowned, Greg was a cute enough guy but she wasn't taking that chance again. She wasn't going to be fooled twice. She shrugged and began working.

The garage was alive with activity. It was overwhelming; the amount of cars that needed fixing these days. Marcus Barone frowned as he slid under his third car for that morning.

He loved his job but he hated the fact that most of the time someone had to get injured before he could do his work.

"What's up Marc?" Hilary the only woman in the garage tapped his feet that were sticking out from under the car. Slowly he rolled out and stood up beside her.

"Is there a problem Hilary?" His dark eyes focussed on her. Hilary was of a slight build, with short, straight blond hair and pale blue eyes and if there was one thing that Hilary didn't understand it was the word no.

"Well I was wondering, since you didn't accept my offer last Friday you know we could..." Hilary pressed herself on him.

"If we could go out?"

Hilary smiled and nodded. "What do you say?"

"I say what I've always said; no." He grimaced at her crestfallen face "Hilary you're a nice girl but I don't have space in my life for a woman. I'm sure you can find some one else."

She shrugged. "I suppose."

He smiled and got back under the car. He waited until she moved away to return to his work. When it came to women he was cautious as could ever be. Hilary wasn't a woman he was willing to have a relationship with. He finished with the car and decided to take a break. He looked up and saw his friend Thomas coming towards him with a big grin on his face.Thomas had coppery hair that curled around his ears and green eyes that gleamed when he laughed. He was a tall, handsome man with a wry sense of humour and broad shoulders.

"Hey, what's up man." Thomas slapped him on the back.

"Nothing, how was your weekend?" Marcus frowned.

"My weekend was great." Thomas grinned.

"You got a girl didn't you?" Marcus smiled, his features transformed making him look younger.

"Oh yeah, best two nights I've had in a long while." Thomas' grin widened.

"So, what's up besides that?"

"There's a football game on tonight I was wondering if I could catch it by you."

"Sure, what time does it start?"

"Seven, I'll bring some beers."

"You do that."

Shireen came back to the office after showing a few houses and got ready to go home. She loved it when she was able to get home before five. It gave her enough time to settle down before her ever so sexy neighbour came home from work. She decided that this evening she would spray her lawn and walk her dog in order for her to see him. She chided herself for doing this but which woman could resist such a masterpiece of masculinity. She smiled to herself when the silver 46 Ford pickup pulled into the next door driveway. His smooth, deep voice calling his dog reached across to her ears and caressed her senses.

"Ruski come here."

"Hey Marcus. Who's the babe?" It was obvious that Marcus' friend couldn't whisper.

"My neighbour."

"I can see that, but what's her name?"

"I don't know."

"A babe like that and you don't know her name." Thomas shook his head.

"Nope."

"What's wrong with you man?"

"Are you watching the game or do you prefer to stay outside and gape at my neighbour."

"Nobody's gaping let's go." He leaned down and gave Ruski an affectionate pat.

When they went inside Shireen ran back into her house and fell on the couch laughing. Her neighbour's friend couldn't whisper to save his life, however, it was nice to know that men still found her attractive. At least she knew her neighbour's name now; Marcus. The name went well with everything about him. She picked up the phone and dialled the number for her best friend; Patrice Cornell. Patrice was a vivacious red-head, married to a man she adored with three children she loved dearly.

"Hello?" Patrice sounded like if she'd been jogging.

"Hey girlfriend."

"Hi! What's up?"

"Well can I come over we got some girl stuff to talk about."

"It's about a man finally, I can hear it in the tone of your voice. Come right over, I just hope the kids are settled by then."

"The children aren't a problem." Shireen laughed.

"They are in the evening."

"Anyway see you in ten minutes okay."

"Sure, see you."

"Score!" Marcus shouted.

"Your team is just lucky." Thomas grunted.

"My team is better." They lapsed into a comfortable silence.

"I think I'm ready to settle down." Thomas sighed.

"What's the rush you got your whole life ahead of you?"

"No I don't, I'm 34."

"So? What's wrong with being single?" Marcus shrugged.

"Everything. I want a woman who'll take care of me, who I can protect and love." Thomas looked at him as if willing him to understand. Marcus shrugged.

"Suit yourself, just don't end up like me."

"Marcus not all women are the same, besides it's about time you gave marraige a second chance."

"That's not for me , but good luck." Marcus got up and went to kitchen for more beer. His kitchen window faced Shireen's yard. He watched as she walked out the house and went in her car and drove off. He sighed, it really had been a long time since he'd had a woman and this particular woman was very attractive. Then he smiled to himself, he was going to get himself a woman. He had one problem; how?

Shireen smiled as she drove into Patrice's yard. The three children were already running to her as she got out of the car.

"Aunt Shireen!" was said from three different mouths. Shireen laughed as they all enveloped her in a gigantic bear hug. Patrice came out and stood still and watched for a little while. Shireen was so good with children, it was a pity she didn't want to get married again. It still made her angry thinking about what her first husband Carl did to her. She shook her head and brought her self back to the present.

"Okay kids, give aunt Shireen space to breathe." The children scampered off. Shireen looked at her childhood friend and smiled.

"How are you Patrice?"

"As you can see I'm on top of my world." Shireen laughed as Patrice spun around in front her.

"Hmm, that seems obvious now that I look at you. Have you gained weight?" Patrice gave her an incredulous look, seeing that Patrice was as slim as they came.

"Come on and tell me about you and this man who seems to have you all jittery." Patrice gave a fake shiver as they walked into the house.

"Well he's my neighbour and I didn't know his name up until today."

"How long as he been your neighbour?"

"About a year. Why?"

"You need to move faster than that." Shireen smiled, leave it to Patrice to cut it straight to the bone.

"There's something about him Patrice." Shireen shook her head. "Something is pulling me to him."

"Well you've got to pull back or be pulled." Patrice looked at her searchingly. "What will it be?"

"I think. I think I'm going to be pulled." Shireen looked up at her friend her eyes unsure.

"That's a good start." Patrice smiled.

"You think so?" Shireen asked still wary.

"I don't think so, I know so, besides it's been what three years since that thing with Carl at least give him a chance. I mean you said it yourself he seems steady enough, I doubt he's that bad. Besides you're a strong woman and if he hurts you he'll have me to deal with." Patrice frowned. Kaitlin laughed. "You look positively frightening." She laughed harder, considering that Patrice wouldn't hurt a fly and Marcus was one of the biggest men she'd ever seen it was quite hilarious.

Thomas looked over at Marcus as the game came to an end and he could see that he was a million miles away.

"Marcus." He waited a few seconds. "Marcus." He sighed "Marcus." He slapped him on his shoulder.

"Oh, is the game over?" Marcus shifted.

"Yeah. Where were you?"

"Nowhere, I'm just tired."

"Okay." Thomas was incredulous. "Goodnight then see you in work tomorrow."

"Yeah later." Marcus closed and locked the door after Thomas. He groaned and rubbed his neck. He couldn't believe he was already imagining himself in that woman's bed. The strong sexual urge surprised him and he didn't even know her name. He went to his bedroom and crawled into his bed. He thought back to the last year of his life and grimaced. He turned, blanked his mind and fell asleep.

Shireen smiled as she let herself into her house. Prince, her large black rottweiler came to greet her. She rubbed him under his chin and made her way to her bedroom.

"You would think after what I've been through I'll give up men for good Prince, but it seems I've not learned my lesson." Shireen frowned at Prince, the dog looked at her then let his tongue hang out his mouth as if to say 'duh'.

"You think so to don't you Prince." She shrugged "Well there is no harm in trying." Shireen slipped into her nightgown and climbed into bed.

"Good night Prince." Prince barked once then took his place at the foot of the bed.