Flight 88 – Chapters 61 Thru 65

Chapter 61: Emotions Con’t

Dale slips off the couch and walks into the kitchen, finding Bill and Cindy sitting at the table together.

“He’s asleep on the couch,” Dale informs them. “I finally got him to relax and get into a deep sleep.”

“Thanks,” Cindy comments as Bill just smiles. It was why he was so adamant to let Chase and Dale talk things out as he knew that they could probably help each other, or at least one help the other. “I thought he was asleep a couple times before you came over and he’d just wake up crying.”

“He’s scared and has every right to feel that way after what happened. I just….” Dale takes a deep breath, knowing that he’s got to follow the advice that he gave Chase to get through things himself. “I’m sorry it happened.”

“It’s not your fault and as I told you earlier – neither of us are mad at you,” Bill tells him.

“I know and I keep telling myself that. However, it’s hard because it was my….okay, it wasn’t my fault but Mariela’s plan against me that got him mixed up in that mess.”

“And you couldn’t had done a darn thing differently to change what happened so stop it.”

“We mean it Dale, we don’t want to hear anymore,” Cindy adds as she pulls him over to her into a hug.

“You may not want to hear it, but I still feel bad,” Dale comments as she gives him a stern look. “Okay, I’ll stop.”
“As you were saying to Chase – to move on, you first must allow yourself to realize that it wasn’t your fault,” Bill starts as Dale looks over at him. “What? I heard a little of what you both shared with each other. I knew that it’d be good to let you both talk it out.”

“I didn’t realize that he was going to say as much as he did, but if it helps, then I’m fine with being the person for him to lean on.”

“You both get the pain of what happened so it makes it easier to understand, versus Bill and I,” Cindy states, reminding herself of what Bill told her earlier in the kitchen. He had explained then about why the pair would be good for each other. “Now, you should get home and get some sleep.”

“You sound like my mother,” Dale comments. “She was already at me to get up to bed and not to carry Alyssa. I had to come make sure that Chase was okay first, though.”

“Well thank you for checking on him and for what you’ve done for him. If anything, it gives me more comfort now than before about him staying with you here on your property.”

“Mama Bear instincts 101 – she was all worried about how things would go with him moving out here but wouldn’t say anything,” Bill starts as Cindy rolls her eyes. “I kept telling her that he’d be fine as he was grown up now, and had both you and Kelley to lean on. She’s finally seeing the light!”

“Well if it makes you feel even more better, you’re always welcome to visit as much as you want,” Dale tells her before heading out of the kitchen. “Bye Bill. Bye Cindy.”

“Bye Dale!” Cindy says down the hallway.

“Bye Dale….” Bill says as he watches him closely walking down the hall. “Wait…” Bill then stands up and follows as Cindy looks on confused. Bill reaches the end of the hall where Dale is waiting. “Are you honestly okay?” Dale then looks at Bill confused as Bill leads him out the front door, closing it behind him. He then motions for them to sit on the porch together. “Listen, I know you’ve been through a lot over the past couple of months so I’m asking an honest question.” Dale then glances over the property, looking anywhere but directly at Bill. It was a good close to heart question to ask as there were certainly a lot of emotions there.

“Bill, I don’t want to talk about it, okay?” Dale states as Bill looks over at him.

“It doesn’t help to not talk about it.” Dale looks down, as he shakes his head as he thinks over his own emotions. There was so many places that he could start as he knew that Bill was right in needing to talk about it.

“I’ve been through it all with anger, sadness, pain, fear and confusion with what has happened.”

“I figured much. Where do you want to start?” Dale then looks at him confused.

“It’s 1 in the morning. Are we seriously having this discussion right now?”

“You can’t move forward till you talk about it and you probably won’t sleep tonight with everything that is on your mind, on top of the excitement from winning.” Dale smiles as he thinks back to the race and everything that happened. With everything else, though, it seemed like such a far away thought.

“That was a pretty cool win, huh?”

“You showed a lot of determination, drive, strength and heart….Stop trying to change the topic!” Dale then throws his arms up in the air innocently.

“You brought it up, didn’t you?” Bill lets out a sigh as he knew that Dale was right as he had mentioned the word. It seemed strange to be sitting there like they were. Normally after a big win – especially the Daytona 500 – they’d be partying at this point. However, instead, there were an odd quietness from everyone due to what happened as everybody’s emotions were in a different place. “The win hasn’t been on my mind as what has been on my mind has been Marie, Alyssa, Chase and what happened.”

“Well you know that Chase is okay so why don’t you start with either your fiancé or daughter? When it comes to your daughter, I can only imagine what she was going through those days that you were missing. I had enough emotions of my own with what happened today with Mariela and Chase so I don’t even know what Alyssa would be thinking.”

“Regan said that Alyssa felt lost and confused with being as young as she was. They kept it hidden from her for awhile, but couldn’t any longer and the confusion and worry and pain and…..it hurt a lot, per Regan, so I can only imagine.” Bill shakes his head understanding as he knew from seeing it first hand with Chase being one of the ones to primarily help take care of Alyssa so that way Marie could have her space.

“The good news is that you’re okay and will able to cuddle her for months to come. Now dealing with her fear of something happening is another difficult thing.”

“Trust me, I’ve heard it already.” Bill then looks over at Dale confused, as Dale thinks back to their discussion. “She told me that I broke her promise that nothing would happen to me or her. Hearing her say those words was difficult to hear because I hated breaking her heart. She’s my little girl, Bill. It hurts worse than anything to know that I broke her heart. I handled it well, I think, as I told her that sometimes all promises can’t be kept, but this one will because Mariela is definitely gone now like the big bad witch.”

“That’s impressive that you used a Wizard of O-”

“You can thank, Marie. Marie started singing the song.” Dale then lets out a sigh as bringing up Marie in the discussion brought forth a whole other ton of emotions. He wondered what was going through Marie’s mind what had happened due to how much it involved her family. “What do you think is going through Marie’s mind? She killed her own father by herself, and now her twin sister is dead because she attacked us both not once, not twice but three times. What goes through someone’s mind?”

“I’m not a min-”

“I know you’re not, but what do you think? I don’t know to handle dealing with her emotions. There’s got to be confusion because of what happened as to how her own family can do this. There’s got to be sadness because no matter how crazy your father and sister go, you will always love them…right? Then the fact that she killed her father is probably going through her mind. I mean, how do you handle the feeling of knowing that you killed a man? I want to comfort her and tell her that everything is fine, but I don’t know where to start. There’s so much there.”

“You just need to be there for her by her side and offer comforting words whenever she needs it. When she’s ready to tell you about her emotions and needs to spill them, be there for her. When she’s needs to be held so she can be cuddled or cry, hold her. Every person reacts differently. She’ll react in her own way and when she breaks down or lets it go, just be there for her. The same way that you and Cindy have been there for Chase. The same way that Steve has been there for you. The same way that I am right now offering you someone to talk to.” Dale then looks over at Bill with a sly smile.


“And you thought that there was nothing to say at this time in the morning. Oh boy were you wrong.” Dale shakes his head, knowing that he had to admit it now. Bill was totally right when he made the mention that Dale probably wouldn’t be able to sleep with everything on his mind. Oh sure he’d probably fall asleep due to exhaustion, but it’d be a restless sleep based on different thoughts. Being able to get some of them out was certainly comforting as it helped heal the wounds that were there.

“I guess I didn’t want to talk about it. How’d you know?”

“You’ve been through a lot. That’s all that anybody needs to know. Now, do you want to talk more or should you be able to sleep now?”

“I should be able to sleep.”

“Good. Get a good night sleep and feel better. As your mom has probably said, take care of yourself.” Dale then stands up as he rolls his eyes.

“Don’t remind me.”

“I want to take bets that she’s waiting on the porch to yell at you. She’ll probably go, ‘I told you that you should be taking care of yourself’ and ‘you need to rest’.”

“And if she’s not sitting on the porch, you owe me dinner tomorrow night.”

“Deal. Remember, I’m a parent. I know how parents work.” Bill then heads inside as Dale rolls his eyes.

As he made the trip back to his house, there was comfort in the conversation that they had been had – both with Chase and with Bill. They both gave him comfort in getting some things off of his mind, knowing that Chase was alright and having that advice from Bill. Though, the exhaustion was certainly setting in as he made his way over, knowing that bed would feel extra special that night.

“What did I tell you?” He hears and looks up surprised, freezing in his steps as he sees his mom sitting on his porch.

“I was just checking on Chase and now I’m heading to bed,” Dale tells her as he walks up the stairs. “Shouldn’t you be sleeping? Isn’t it past your bed time? I thought you went to bed at 10.”

“10? Are you crazy?” She then stands up and wraps her arms around him, kissing him on the cheek. “I meant what I said. Take care of yourself. I love you. I’m glad that you’re okay. Don’t scare your momma like that again.”

“I love you too and I’m sorry that I scared you.”

“I mean it – I don’t want to have to worry that much about you again.”

“You won’t have to, mom. Now go get some sleep yourself. I need mine.” He then heads inside the house, closing the door as he peaks out the window and watches her head back to her house.

He then heads up the stairs and walks in the bedsroom, slipping off his pants and shirt without bothering to look up. Once he does, a smile forms on his face as he finds Marie and Alyssa cuddled up in the bed with the dogs, sound asleep. Not wanting to disturb any of them, he carefully climbs in with them, snuggling behind Marie as he wraps his arms around her. Giving Killer the ‘sssh’ sign, he curls up even tighter, letting his eyes close and sleep fill him.


Chapter 62: Sleepless Nights

Chase leans against the counter, sipping on a warm glass of milk as Cindy peaks into the kitchen.

“Are you okay?” She asks and Chase shakes his head yes as he looks over. He then focuses his eyes back to the ground as she makes her way over, leaning against the counter with him. “It’s like 3 in the morning. You should be sleeping.”

“Couldn’t sleep…” he answers as he finishes off the glass of milk. She then wraps an arm around him and holds him close. “Mom, I’m fine. You can let go.” She then slowly lets go as he leaves the kitchen. “I had a bad dream. You should get some sleep.”

“I can’t sleep knowing that you ca-”

“I’m fine, mom. I’m going to lay down now and go back to sleep.”

“Are you sure you’re okay, Chase?” He shakes his head yes as he heads down the hall to his bedsroom. “If you need me or dad, don’t be afraid to wake us.”

“I’m fine mom. Go to bed.” He then goes in his room and lays in the bed, pulling the blanket back tight as he closes his eyes once again.

He had been sleeping soundly on the couch from the time that Dale left. Talking about the joy of winning at Daytona and everything that happened in that race was a good diversion. It helped in getting his mind on a different thought track so he could sleep.

Though in his sleep, nightmares began to flutter in. From being in Mariela’s hold to the police officer shooting off the gun and her dead just mere feet away from him. He had been unable to get back to sleep with his thoughts in a mix, hence why he had gone to get himself a warm glass of milk.

He knew that it probably would’ve been wise to tell his mom the truth, but he didn’t want to do that. He didn’t want to bring up those thoughts – the fear, the sadness, the anger, the pain – as he wanted to push it away as far as possible. He knew from talking with Dale that it’d happen over time, but how long? It didn’t seem as though it could happen soon enough.

Now lying in his bed, pulling the blanket tighter around himself, he lets out a long sigh. Everything was okay. He was okay. He was home, safe in his bed. His parents were just down the hall. Mariela was gone. Anybody could do anything couldn’t bother to try or get in. he was safe. He could sleep without worry.

Assuring himself that he was safe and thinking to happy moments – victory lane, the year prior – he allows his eyes to close and sleep to fulfill every inch of him.

Sleepless nights weren’t something that was just happening for Chase. It was happening for another person on the same property.

Marie had found herself in a deep sleep, cuddled up with Alyssa, feeling Dale lying against her. Though as the night wore on, flashbacks to what happened intertwined with dreams, leading to tears rolling down her cheeks. Slowly, carefully, she got herself out of the bed and made her way out of the room to the bathroom.

Making her way inside, she grabs a bunch of toilet paper and wipes her eyes as she sits down on the floor, tears leaking down her cheeks. She remains in that spot for a good 15 minutes, before the door slowly cracks as Dale enters.

“Go back to bed with Alyssa….” Marie starts as she grabs another handful of toilet paper. “You need sleep. You need to take care of yourself.”

“You’re right – I need to take care of myself, but I also need to take care of you,” he tells her before sitting down beside her. He then wraps both arms around her and pulls her close as he runs a hand through her hair. She buries her head in chest, unable to argue against the comfort that she feels close to him, as the tears continue to fall.

“It hurts. It hurts more than it should.” He then rubs her back, trying to calm her down as he hates seeing her upset like this.

“Talk to me…What hurts, Marie?”

“Mariela and dad being gone!” Dale takes his own deep breath, continuing to rub her back, remembering Bill’s words from earlier. This was to be expected.

“No matter what happened over the past couple of months, you loved them long before then and what happened doesn’t make that love disappear. You’re obviously going to miss them both because of the fun times that you had together and love that was there. It hurts to know that your own family tried to do what they did because of how much you love them. It hurts to know that they’re gone and you couldn’t help them – because you love them. It’s okay to feel that pain. You just need to learn to work your way through it with each day.”

“But I should be mad at them – not missing them!”

“You can miss them and be mad at them at the same time. You can miss them because you loved them, and miss them because you think you could’ve found a way to help them. Marie, it’s okay sweetheart. You don’t need to go through this alone. I’ve got you.” He then kisses the top of her head as he keeps her held close. “Don’t ever feel that you need to deal with this alone. I’m always here for you. I love you.” He then tilts her head so their eyes are facing each other, leaning in to lightly kiss her lips as he wipes a couple tears away.

“I love you. Thank you. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for not running away when you met my crazy family.”

“I could never leave you, and don’t ever let the thought of me leaving you cross your mind ever. I love you so much and I couldn’t imagine being without you. I know what that feels like and trust me, I don’t want to feel that pain again. I love you, Marie.”

“I love you too, Dale.” She then kisses his lips as her breathes start to even out and the tears begin to cease.
“Ready to go back to bed?” She shakes her head yes as they both slowly stand up.

“If I don’t get your ass back to bed, your mom will be over here kicking my ass.” He then laughs as he wraps an arm around her.

“Would you believe that when I got back from seeing Chase earlier that she was sitting on the porch ready to kick my ass to bed?”

“She loves you, just like I love you and agree with her that you need your rest. By the way, how is Chase?”

“He’s going to be okay. He has his own emotions, but he’ll be okay. He’s got the two best parents that he could have to help him through in Bill and Cindy.” The pair then walk towards the bedsroom, though stop in the doorway, both shaking their heads as they look at the bed. Killer (the boxer), Stroker Ace (great dane) and Bud (cat) had taken over the bed with Alyssa in the middle of them.

“I don’t think we have to worry about anybody attacking Alyssa with those guards.” Dale shakes his head no as he grabs his phone, snapping a quick photo.

“I don’t think we’re getting in that bed. Come on…” He then leads away as she thinks that they’re headed to the living room. Though instead, he leads her out to the back porch, leaving the door open behind them. They both sit in the chair out there together. “Sunrise will be soon. Figured it’d be much more peaceful than fighting with the animals.”

“It’d be perfect right now. It feels just perfect being home with us like this together and Alyssa with the pets.”

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here.” He then wraps both arms around her as she lies against him. “Close your eyes and get some sleep; the little rugrat will be awake before we know it.”

“Oh geez. Nothing like a return to reality than seeing her crazy self in the morning.”


Chapter 63: Return to Normal….maybe….

As the week went forward, everything seemed to get back to normal in everybody falling into the routine that they had been used to.

Alyssa was enjoying life as the sweet little three-year-old, the thoughts of the past totally out of her mind. She was enjoying spending time with her parents, Chase, her aunt Kelley and her kids, as well as the rest of the family. Needless to say, everything was great in her world.

The past couple of days of relaxation had helped in Dale feeling better. Certainly his back was a little sore – expected with a stab wound only coming the week prior – but definitely doing better. The emotions of everything were still there as there was a sleepless night, but he was making his way past it.

The same could be said with Chase as he had gotten back into his normal swing – going to the shop during the day, grocery and other shopping if necessary, and hanging out at night. It was nice to have his parents there for the week certainly with how it started, but each day was a welcome sight in moving further away from what happened.

As for Marie, it had been toughest on her and rightfully so with the family ties to what had happened. She battled with the thoughts of missing her father and sister, though also the anger and frustration that lied with that. It was something that she knew she’d face as an inner battle for weeks to come as she came to terms with what happened. She was glad, though, to have her family by her side as she moved forward as they brought forth some welcome support.

Late Thursday afternoon, she walks into the house after going shopping for some things and makes her way to the kitchen. Taking in the smell, she knew that there was a great dinner being cooked by her lovely fiancé that would be a welcome sight.

“Now that is a beautiful smell,” she comments, taking in the barbeque smell as she wraps her arms around him and kisses his cheek.

“Then barbeque chicken wings and Caesar salad is a good idea for dinner?” He asks and she shakes her head yes before kissing his lips.

“It smells delicious. I can’t wait to eat it.”

“It should be ready soon.” He then leans against the counter as he watches her sort through the bags. “Did you get everything that you needed?”

“Snacks for this weekend, food for the dogs, food for the cats – yeah, I think so.” Marie then starts to put everything away, though freezes as she looks around. There was something off and had it not been for the last couple of weeks, it wouldn’t have had her spooked. “Where’s Alyssa?” Dale points out to the backyard as Marie looks out the back window.

Marie looks on surprised as she sees Chase out there with her as they’re playing with the little go-kart that they had gotten her for Christmas. She had gotten better with each time in it, getting to understand how to work the pedals, steer and go faster. Chase was certainly a good coach also, as he knew how to be patient with her.

“She’s been out there all afternoon with him,” Dale informs her as he checks on the chicken. “I think that’s her favourite toy.”

“Well, she keeps saying that she wants to be like her daddy. But Dale, are you sure that she’s old enough for this?” Dale shakes his head yes as he glances over at her. “Certain?”

“Absolutely. As a three-year-old, she’s right at that age where you step it up into something like this. Plus, she’s being careful in wearing all the safety stuff and making sure that someone is with her. Relax, Chase will take care of her.”

“I hope so…” Marie then goes back to the bags as she continues to put things away as Dale watches. He was used to Marie’s uncertainty as she had expressed the same concerns when he had bought the go-kart and wrapped it for Alyssa for Christmas. However, he still went forth with it because he knew that it was the perfect gift for her and she’d enjoy it. He also knew that they’d be safe with it, as proven so far.

“I wouldn’t do anything with our daughter if I didn’t believe it was safe. You should know that.” He then walks up behind her and wraps both arms around her as he holds her close. “You’re not mad at me, are you?” She shakes her head no as he smiles. That was a welcome sigh as he reaches around and kisses her lips. He just hoped that things stayed that way when it came to Alyssa’s birthday the next month as Marie was certainly going to throw a fit if she heard what Dale had been talking to Kasey and Tony about. “I love you.” He then lets go as he heads back over by the counter.

“I love you, too. I just worry about her a lot. It’s not that I don’t trust you as I do, okay?”

“I believe you – and I’ll remember those words carefully.” She then looks back at him, looking into his eyes curiously. There was something about the tone of those words that she knew something was up. She had also overheard him one day talking to Kasey about a ‘birthday surprise’. “Oh, your mother called again for you.” Marie looks down as she takes a deep breath, closing the cupboard.

She hadn’t talked to her mother since hearing from her mom that Mariela was going to be released. She hadn’t talked to her mother since they crossed paths or the events of Daytona. It wasn’t that there hadn’t been an opportunity – she just didn’t want to face that music, yet. She wondered what her mother wanted to say and whether there’d be regret in her mom’s voice, or whether there’d be anger, sadness or something else. It was something that she wasn’t ready to tackle yet with her own emotions based on what had happened.

“Marie….” Dale says quietly, noticing the immediate change in her attitude. “What’s wrong? Tell me what’s on your mind.”

“Noth-” Marie starts as Dale walks over to her.

“Bullshit. Talk to me about your mom.” She then looks up at him surprised.

“I’m scared to talk to my mom, Dale. I’m scared of what she’ll say about what happened.”

“You have a right to be scared based on what happened, however is avoiding her for the rest of your life solving anything?” Marie shakes her head no as she lets out a sigh.

“I keep thinking that I should call her back and hear what she has to say, but then I get all worried again.” Dale then leads her over to a pair of chairs as they sit down.

“Why are you worried?”

“What if she’s mad at me for what happened? What if she says that it’s my fault and I could’ve done something different? What if she says that she hates me because it’s my fault? What if…..There’s so many things that she could say that it scares me.”

“If she’s mad at you, then she needs to have her head examined. If she says it’s your fault, she needs to learn that Mariela was nuts and what she was about to Chase. If she says that you could’ve done something different, she needs to understand the situation better. If she hates you for all that, then she doesn’t deserve to be a part of your life. However, what if she’s regretful because she was part of the reason that Mariela was loose? What if she wants to apologize to you? You need to look at both sides of the coin. Take a chance. Call her and see what happens. The worst that happens is you disagree and never talk again. However, the best thing that could happen is a mother and a daughter could keep a special relationship that they have.”

“I guess….Maybe I’m scared to lose that relationship…”

“That’s understandable after what has happened, but you can’t be afraid. Because no matter what, you’re not alone in this world as you’ll always have Alyssa and I.” He then leans in and kisses her lips. “I love you. Give your mom a call. Find out the truth.” He then stands up and goes to get the chicken as Marie takes a long deep breath. Why was it so hard to dial a simple set of 10 numbers?


Chapter 64: The Phone Call

“Chasey, I ‘ave fun,” Alyssa tells Chase as he puts her go-kart away. “Did you?” Chase shakes his head yes as he turns back to face her.

“I always have fun when I’m with you, Alyssa,” he tells her before closing up the garage. “You always put a smile on my face. It’s why I wanted to play with you. Now, you can’t escape the tickle monster.” He then picks her up and tickles her, causing her to laugh really loud. He continues to tickle her as she continues to squirm in his arms, laughing. He then puts her down as they head back towards the house together. “So, are you excited to go to the race track tomorrow?” Alyssa shakes her head yes as she always loved going to the race track and watching her dad and all her friends, including Chase. “Are you going to cheer me on?” Alyssa shakes her head yes once again. “I shouldn’t expect anything else, really. Maybe I should get you a little outfit with a No. 9 on it.” Her eyes light up immediately as she tugs on his leg.

“Please? Please Chase?” He then laughs as he picks her up in his arms.

“Fine – I’ll make you a deal. You behave for mommy and daddy, and I’ll get you either a dress done up with my car number, or a little t-shirt and pant outfit.”

“Chase, I want to look like you on raceday! I want suit!” He then thinks it over as they continue walking together. “Daddy got me one. Chase get me?” He looks into her eyes, seeing those sweet blue eyes and immediately knows that he can’t deny the offer. She could always suck him in immediately.

“Alright fine – but only if you have behave.” Alyssa then lets out a big cheer as they reach the house and head inside.

“Uh oh, what’s got her excited?” Dale questions as he begins dishing out dinner. He then watches Alyssa head past him to go to the bathroom to wash off her hands. “Chase, what did you tell her?”

“I merely suggested getting an outfit with my car number on it, and now she’s convinced me with those darling sweet eyes to get her a suit that matches mine,” Chase explains as Dale gives him a glance.

“And what have I told you about giving in to those sweet eyes?”

“Yeah yeah, I know – but you should’ve seen them Dale.” Dale rolls his eyes as he turns to the cupboard to get some plates out. “Where’s Marie? I thought she’d be helping you cook dinner, or something else.” Dale then gives him a look over his shoulder as Chase simply laughs while Alyssa returns to the room.

“Mommy on ‘hone – mommy say sssh,” she tells them as she sits up in her seat at the table.

“Who is she talking to?” Chase wonders as Dale walks over to the table. “If you don’t min-”

“Her mom,” Dale says simply as he takes his seat. “And we’re leaving it at that.” Chase shakes his head, understanding.

In the other room, Marie sat patiently, hoping for a positive response from her mother as she finally convinced herself to dial the numbers needed.

“Hello?” Marie hears her mother at the end of the phone as she takes a deep breath.

“Hey mom – it’s Marie,” Marie answers. “Dale said that you called.”

“Yeah, I’ve been trying to get a hold of you all week. I’m surprised I haven’t heard back from you, yet.” Marie takes a deep breath, debating on her next words.

“Sorry mom – just been busy with Alyssa and Dale. You have to understand after everything and the emotions. I thought I’d give you a call and see what you wanted.”

“Oh dear, I understand those emotions. How do you think I feel myself? It wasn’t an easy feat getting a phone call saying that your daughter has been killed by a police officer while holding a young man around his neck. This isn’t easy for anybody. By the way, how is that young man?” Marie smiles as she glances into the kitchen, seeing the laughter being spread from whatever conversation they’re having.

“He’s okay, mom. He obviously had some emotions of his own and it hasn’t been peachy for him this week, but he’s doing well. We’re just all ready for life to return to normal – or as much as it can. He’s ready to get back to racing this weekend, as is Dale and I’m set to return to the track. How are you, mom?” With each response from her mom, Marie’s confidence grew in things remaining positive moving forward.

“I’m doing well. I’m glad to hear that he is doing well, as the same with you and Dale. Sweetheart, I just want to let you know that I am sorry for what happened with Mariela. I honestly believed her when she said that her father was the one behind everything.” Marie takes a deep breath, having thought about the possible chance of her mother saying those words. She wanted to let go of the fact that her mother had believed Mariela’s lies and led to Mariela being down in Daytona with them, but she couldn’t. Why hadn’t her mother believed the warning? Why had her mother allowed her sister to roam free? Marie takes a deep breath, knowing that she can’t lie to her own mother.

“I accept your apology, however I can’t totally forgive you, mom. I honestly warned you that it was possible and it still irks me a little that you didn’t believe that.”

“Sweetie, I understand as it will take time for wounds to heal.” Marie smiled as she was worried about her mother’s response to her explaining that part of her feelings.

“Thank you. I appreciate that and you’re right, it will take time. However, with each day, it does get easier. It gets easier to sleep and not fear that something will happen, or not fear that someone is there over your shoulder ready to cause a problem.”

“Exactly. I just hate that you and Dale and Alyssa and Chase had to go through that. It breaks my heart, honestly.”

“It breaks mine, too.”

“But you’re all together and you’re strong. Each of you is strong individually, but together you’re stronger. You’re going to get through this and have the life that you want.”

“I know. I believe in those words. I believe that I can move forward, have a great life with my family and also rule a whole country.”

“I even believe that you’re going to do a good job, doing that. I think you’ve made great decisions in who to put in charge while you’re not there already. I believe that you’re exactly what that country needs after what they’ve been through under your father’s rule. It is why I put you in charge. I believe in you, Queen Marie Calantay.” Marie smiles as it felt refreshing to hear those words from her mother. She wanted to believe in herself – but there was some fear as to what could happen in the future. What if she wasn’t the Queen that she was believed to be? What if things didn’t go as planned with Pitronia? Could she honestly do this?

“Thank you for the vote of confidence. I appreciate it.”

“Sweetie, I mean it when I say those words. Don’t think that I’m just saying them because I’m your mother – I’m saying them because it’s the truth. You showed that in fighting for your family and doing what was needed for Dale and Alyssa. The strength that you both of you showed during that whole period is what will help you moving forward.”

“I hope you’re right. We’ll just have to see how it goes and hope it goes well. Listen, mom, it’s great talking to you – but I have a dinner that I should be sitting at and eating.”

“Oh well then don’t let me keep you. Please keep in touch, though.”

“I will – don’t worry. I’ll remember to phone you here and there. I’ll make arrangements to see you soon. Bye mom and I love you.”

“Love you too, baby girl. Goodbye.” Marie then hangs up with a smile on her face in how well the conversation went, despite her original fears. She then heads to the kitchen, sitting at her spot at the table as Dale throws a glance her way.

“You were right – it was good to take a chance. Things are great. I love you and thank you.” Marie then leans over and kisses Dale’s lips as Alyssa covers her eyes.

“Yuck!” She lets out as everyone at the table laughs.

“Keep thinking that, and remember that boys have big cooties,” Dale states as Marie slaps his arm.

“That’ll only work till she’s 13 as once she starts puberty and sees boys for what they are, look out,” Chase states as Dale looks over at the table at him. “Just saying!”


Chapter 65: You’re a Princess

It was a known fact. Since the events that happened over the winter, Alyssa wasn’t a fan of airplanes. She hated flying in them, always playing the nervous games. In each flight since, she had to be right close to someone that she could ‘trust’ and they had to stay awake the whole time. There was no ifs, ands, or buts, or else she’d throw a fit.

For this flight to Phoenix for the race that weekend, she had made her new ‘buddy’ her person of choice – Chase. Chase couldn’t figure out how he got elected, but he had been elected and couldn’t help but agree to do the task. It wasn’t like he slept on flights, anyway.

Though to try and make the flight easier, Dale and Marie had talked about it before leaving and decided that this was the time that they’d reveal the news to Alyssa that she’s a real princess, just like Cinderella. Both of them weren’t sure how it’d go, but they knew that it’d be fun to see what her reaction would be.

“Hey Chase, I got something that I should tell you about Alyssa,” Marie starts the conversation once they’re up in the air. They hadn’t told Chase that they were revealing the news, but Chase knew enough to know that she was the ‘princess’ since he knew about Marie being the ‘queen’ – which trickled down, obviously.

“Perhaps you should tell Alyssa the news before you tell Chase,” Dale suggests as he keeps his eyes on his daughter.

“I guess that’d be a good idea.”

“What Mommy?” Alyssa asks, obviously understanding pieces of the conversation. She knew there was something that her parents wanted to tell her.

“She’s going to be a big sister?” Chase guesses and immediately Marie shakes her head no.

“Nice try but Marie isn’t pregnant,” Dale states as Chase shrugs his shoulders sitting back in his seat.

“Normally when parents start off like you both are, that is the answer.”

“Sister?” Alyssa asks, confused as Chase looks over at her.

“No, you’re not going to be a sister today or soon,” Chase tells her as she looks over at him. “Trust me, little brothers and sisters are trouble anyways. You have to share all your toys and you’d even have to share me.”

“No, me no share buddy.” Alyssa then reaches over, wrapping both arms around Chase as he looks back at Dale and Marie surprised. “Me lub Chase.”

“And I’m sure that Chase loves having a little buddy too,” Marie comments, still in awe as to how much Alyssa loved hanging around Chase and having him as her babysitter.

“By the way, you have earned yourself a permanent babysitting job,” Dale adds, reading Marie’s mind as Chase looks back with a smile.

“With pay?” He questions with a wink.

“We’ll just have to see on that,” Marie comments.

“Make sure to have your phone available because if we get busy, guess who gets the lucky call,” Dale offers.

“I’m sure Alyssa will love hearing that you’re the choice babysitter.” Alyssa shakes her head yes as she looks at Chase. “Okay, now….Alyssa, do you want to hear the news that mommy and daddy want to tell you?” Alyssa then looks back at her mother, her excitement building as she shakes her head yes. “Well, mommy is the Queen of a country.” Alyssa’s eyes widen in surprise, not leaving her mom at all. “Remember when you went to Pitronia and saw all the beautiful flowers with Karsyn and Kennedy?” Alyssa sits back, thinking and then looks back at her mom, shaking her head yes. “Well, mommy is the Queen of that country.”

“A real Queen?” Alyssa asks in disbelief as Marie shakes her head yes. Marie was glad to hear such question asked as that meant that Alyssa was grasping the idea of ‘make-belief, play’ and ‘reality’.

“With her own castle and crown,” Chase adds for emphasis as Alyssa’s eyes continue to widen in surprise. “Can you believe that mommy owns a castle?”

“I likey castle!”

“I like my castle as well. Next month when daddy has a week off racing, we’ll go and see mommy’s castle, okay?” Alyssa shakes her head yes, excited already.

“And if mommy is the queen, what does that make Daddy?” Dale adds, knowing they’re building towards the big news of the day for Alyssa.

“A king!” Alyssa shouts and Dale shakes his head yes.

“That’s right. Mommy is the Queen and Daddy is the King……which is very strange to say out loud and even think.” Dale hadn’t brought himself to truly grasp the true words of Marie being the Queen of a country, or that making him the King. It was still something that had him surprised and aw struck in believing. It was something that he didn’t think was even humanly possible, or thought of when he met Marie. However, it was slowly becoming more of a reality. He knew once they attended the crowning ceremony that it’d probably really set in.

“Mommy Queen…..Daddy King……Me?” Marie goes to say something, but Dale covers her mouth as he waits to see if Alyssa can work it out herself. “Me?”

“You’re a Princess, sweetheart,” Dale tells her as Alyssa looks back at her parents shocked, then at Chase and then back at her parents. “You’re a true princess, just like Cinderella and Belle. You have your own crown and you can wear big dresses with your hair all pretty.”

“You can even come second time in mommy’s castle,” Marie adds as they wait for Alyssa to say something in response.

“What do you think of that?”

“I’m a real princess?” Alyssa asks, no doubt still in shock.

“A real princess with your own crown, which you will get next month when mommy gets her crown,” Marie answers as Alyssa sits back.

“Are you excited?” Dale questions as Alyssa shake her head yes.

“I can get big cool blue dress?” Alyssa asks as the excitement radiates off of her.

“Hey wait – I thought you were all for the NAPA firesuit being the coolest thing,” Chase interrupts the excitement.

“I princess – I get both?” Chase then wraps both arms around her as he pulls her up in his seat with him.

“Knowing you, I bet you’ll get both, along with that awesome crown.”

“But….remember the rules,” Dale reminds. “You’re not allowed to get a whole bunch of things – only a couple of things and that’s only if you’re a good little girl.” Dale had instilled that rule on her since she was little and understood the idea of ‘gifts’, not wanting her to grow up spoiled. It was the idea that she knew that she got a lot of gifts on her birthday and at Christmas, and could get other things that she wanted during the year – but not every single thing and only if she was behaved.

“I know,” Alyssa comments as she looks back at him. “But I get suit, gown, castle and ‘rown?” Dale shakes his head yes as she lets out a cheer.

“So wait….if she’s a Queen…..he’s a king….that’s a princess….What am I?” Chase then questions as he sits back with Alyssa in his lap.

“The dirty rascal!” Alyssa shouts, causing both Dale and Marie to erupt in laughter.

“Can’t I be your knight in shining amour?” She then thinks it over and shakes her head no as Chase looks at her surprised.

“That is Stevie because Stevie chase away ‘Riella.” Everybody lets out a small sigh as they glance at each other, not sure of what to say. They knew that the incident would always be something that Alyssa would remember – noted by the comment, noted by her little fear of flying. It hadn’t been something that had bugged them, though her bringing it up brought forth a reminder of everything. “I still lub you.” She then cuddles up to Chase as he wraps his arms around her, letting out a small sigh of his own. Closing his eyes, he blocks out thoughts of what happened that are clouding his mind, opening his eyes back up and looking down at Alyssa, letting her sweetness take over the thoughts.

“I love you too – even if I’m the dirty rascal. You’ll always be my buddy.” He then kisses the top of her head as Alyssa closes her eyes, going asleep against him.


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