Flight 88 – Chapters 66 Thru 70

Chapter 66: Phoenix

“So, are you ready for this?” Dale asks as he and Chase head to the media center with Rick and a couple of the Hendrick Media PR reps.

“They know what happened?” Chase double checks once again as Dale shakes his head yes.

Earlier in the morning, Rick had met up with both Chase and Dale, as per discussed previously with the team media reps. It was revealed during that discussion that the media knew a fair bit pertaining to the events that happened at Daytona behind the scenes in regards to Mariela and Randy. You could thank the police report being in public domain. Everybody knew about Dale being kidnapped (they had told everyone back when it happened in hopes to find him), they knew about the Mariela-Chase incident at the hauler and knew some what of the connection in which Randy was involved.

There was no doubt that the media was set to ask about it to them throughout the weekend in Phoenix as the media is what it is – always looking for a story. For that reason, the media reps had recommended setting up a press conference on Friday morning. Each would make a statement – saying as much as they wanted, as little as they wanted. Then it’d be stated by the PR reps that they’d be talking no more about it for the rest of the weekend, with their focus purely on the racing.

“Remember – you don’t need to say anything if you don’t want to,” Dale reminds him of the discussion had earlier in the hauler.

“But then I’d just look stupid sitting there,” Chase comments as they head inside the media center. “What’d be the point of that? But…I don’t….”

“You could simply say thanks to the fans for their thoughts when they heard you were involved in an incident in the garage, say that you’re fine and that you have nothing else to say in regards to it at this time,” the one PR rep Mike suggests as Dale shakes his head in agreement. He was thinking of saying something along the same lines. He couldn’t believe that they were even doing this. “Besides, none of you can’t say too much because of the pending charges against Randy.”

“Don’t remind me of that drama. I don’t want ever want to hear that guy’s name again. I don’t want to hear any of this truthfully.” Rick gives Chase a pat on the back understanding as they head inside, ready to take their places.

One of the PR reps takes to the main podium as Rick, Chase and Dale take their seats, nerves floating through both Dale and Chase in addressing this.

“If we could have everybody’s attention, we’d like to get this started and done with,” Laura says as the podium, catching the attention of all the media members in the room. “Welcome to the scheduled Hendrick Motorsports press conference. Here, at the table we have Rick Hendrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Chase Elliott. We scheduled this press conference as a team to discuss what happened last weekend at Daytona. As many of you were made aware of, there was some incidents involving two of the individuals here off the track that have made their way into police reports. Many of you have read the police reports, got statements from the police in regards to what happened and know the basics. I’m not going to go over all that because I don’t believe it’s necessary and we want to get this done as quickly as possible. Each of these individuals has a statement that they’d like to share with you about what happened and then I’ll continue.” Laura then turns to the three at the table, ready for them to speak.

“I’ll go first,” Chase announces, just wanting to get it done with as quickly as possible. He kept running through his mind the suggestion made as to what to say outside, and was going to stick with it. “I want to say thanks to the fans and fellow competitors for their positive thoughts last weekend. I’m doing fine, ready to go and hoping to score another victory. My focus is on racing this weekend, not what happened, and I plan on giving this team their second straight win. Last weekend was incredible with winning Daytona….and then….” Chase takes a deep breath, clearing his thoughts. “…seeing Dale put on that great drive to win despite what he was going through. As for what happened, at this time, I don’t feel comfortable discussing it. So again, thanks to everyone for the support and I look forward to another good weekend.” Chase then sits back, relieved to have said his piece as he works at keeping his thoughts focused on the weekend and not letting them draw back to what happened.

“Dale…” Rick welcomes as he wanted to save what he was going to say till the end.

“Along the same lines, thanks to the fans for their support, especially on twitter, as it was incredible to see how many people sent messages,” Dale starts. “Everybody was made aware of the stab wound to my back early last week and it made that Daytona 500 tough. I appreciate the media being willing to accept we weren’t doing the media tour as I needed that week to relax and spend time with my girls – Marie and Alyssa. This weekend, I’m ready to go. It’s still a little tender and I’m a little sore, but nothing like last week so I expect the same results. Jason is an incredible crew chief to work with. Like Chase, I’m not going to discuss what happened as I don’t believe that is needed.”

“They both have said the thanks to the fans, but I can’t restate that enough as NASCAR and the racing community have some of the best fans,” Rick starts. “So many people sent messages, offering support, that it caught everybody off-guard so thank you. As a team owner, I’m looking forward to this weekend as I think we can have another good weekend. Chase has a lot of talent and can win, and it seems pairing Jason and Dale together was the perfect decision. As a friend to them both, I hate what they both went through and they know that they can talk to me if they need to.”

“Thank you – all three of you,” Laura states as she looks back down at her notes. “With this press conference and their statements on the situation, we ask that for the rest of the weekend, the topic be avoided in any further interviews. We would like to focus purely on the racing on-track and not the personal happenings. Furthermore, nobody connected to the situation is allowed to say much per legal guidelines as they are pending charges towards a Mr. Randy Roberts for his actions in what happened. If you’re wondering whether they will open up more about what happened after the legal proceedings, I can’t guarantee that and it won’t be required by the team for them to do that. At this time, we’re going to let you guys have a half hour to spill questions towards the three of them – focused on the racing, please. Consider this your normal media availability time versus doing it later.”

The three of them then went through answering the questions as the media was actually behaved in keeping the questions focused on the racing that weekend and their outlooks. They all felt at though they were in the clear – even Chase despite his nerves earlier – till there were about five minutes left and a new face stood up to ask a question.

“John Daniels from CNN,” the representative introduces himself as required in the media center. “This question is for Dale Earnhardt Jr. I was wondering if you could please comment on the upcoming crowning ceremony next month in Pitronia that will see your fiancé Marie Calantay become the Queen?” Most of the media members glance at each other slightly confused, having not heard that part of the news.

“That’s a good question as Chase and I were discussing that on the way here last night with Alyssa and Marie,” Dale comments as he thinks it over. “I haven’t thought about it too much with everything else that has been going on. I think Marie will a great queen as she has priorities set straight and the way she thinks about the world will be a great perspective in knowing what to do for her country. I can assure you that everybody is in good hands under her control with the help of Sharon and Joshua.”

“Furthermore, considering that being engaged probably equals marriage, we can assume that you’ll become the King with your daughter as a Princess. Any comments?”

“Same thing as I haven’t thought about it too much. It’s still fresh and new to me so it’ll take some time. It’s a lot of responsibility knowing that country is in our hands, but I feel that we can handle it and do well.” Dale bit his tongue as he knew that wasn’t the best words to say, as far as a speech to the people. But what else was he supposed to say?

“I still like the fact that Alyssa says I’m the dirty rascal,” Chase throws in a joke, trying to cut the seriousness in the room, causing a couple of laps.

“You’re not the knight in shining amour?” Rick asks surprised and Chase shakes his head no. “I thought that you’d get that role with being her babysitter as of late.”

“And with that, I think we’ll end off this press conference,” Laura announces. “To those who didn’t know what the last reporter added, you can check into the royalty news I imagine and find out the details. If not, I can tell you what I am allowed to say per the guidelines of Ms. Queen Marie Calantay. Thank you for your time everybody.”

They then stand up and head out, ready to put that behind them and get started with the weekend as they imagined it – focused on racing, putting everything else in the rearview mirror.

had to touch on this topic just to give you the whole rounded picture. Couple more chapters to go in this one. We’re going to touch on Alyssa’s birthday party and the fun that entails with Dale’s surprise (as spoken couple chapters to go) with some guests. Then there’s a crowning ceremony as you have to wonder what Alyssa will say once she has her crown, sees the castle and wears her big fancy blue dress. Gotta love our favourite little cutie in this story.   ………..and before you ask, yes I said a couple chapters to go but don’t worry – there’s a sequel. I got to write a wedding somewhere, and we don’t want the fun with Alyssa to end 😉

 

Chapter 67: Phoenix Race Weekend

“I look good?” Alyssa asks as she walks out with Chase on to pit road following driver introductions.

“Doesn’t she look amazing?” Chase questions as everybody takes in the NAPA Firesuit that she is wearing. Chase had gotten it done to match his – with a couple adjustments. Her last name across the back at her shoulders, while her name was on the waist belt. “Now she’s officially my little buddy.”

“Be scared Dale – my son is already training your daughter,” Cindy warns as she snaps a picture of the pair of them together.

“Now now, she could have a worse role model than me.”

“I know the trouble that you can get into, mister. Do I need to remind you of the times that you were grounded?”

“He got grounded?” Dale questions and Cindy shakes her head yes. “He wasn’t always so sweet and innocent?” Cindy chuckles.

“He’s always had this quiet sweetness to him – gets it from his dad – but he knows how to get into trouble,” Cindy tells him.

“Wow. Who knew I had to actually keep an eye on you.”

“Close eye – remember that.” Cindy then walks away as Dale walks over, scooping up Alyssa in his arms as she laughs.

“So – mommy wants to know whether you like being dressed like this, or whether you’d like be dressed in a big blue dress?” Alyssa thinks it over before turning to her dad with a big smile.

“I like my suit!” She announces proudly. “Wear ‘rown with suit?”

“A princess that drives a racecar – now that’s something new,” Chase comments. “However, it fits her.”

“I can hear it now – Princess Alyssa Earnhardt scores her first NASCAR victory,” Dale proclaims as Alyssa shakes her head in approval.

“I win like Chase!” Alyssa proclaims as Dale looks at her surprised.

“What about daddy? Daddy wins, too.”

“I win like Daddy and Chase! I go super fast.”

“Now can you see why I talked to Kasey about that idea?” Dale asks as he looks over at Chase and Chase shakes his head yes. “I think that go-kart for Christmas was the start of trouble.”

“’Rouble?”

“Don’t worry – this is good trouble. This is the kind of trouble that causes laughter and smiles.”

“Like the trouble that we got into when we pranked Greg earlier,” Chase adds, causing Alyssa to snicker as Dale looks at Chase, curiously. “Whoopi cushion. She put it on his seat in the driver’s meeting.”

“Well played!” Dale congratulates her as he gives her a high-five.

“Greg swears that I shouldn’t be allowed young children for that reason.”

“I knew something was up!” They hear as Regan Smith makes his way over to them. “What is she doing wearing a NAPA suit?”

“She’s my little buddy,” Chase announces as Regan looks over at Alyssa, shocked.

“What about me? Don’t you want to wear an awesome Ragu or Brewer’s Ice Cream Suit?” Alyssa shakes her head no.

“I eat ice cream – but no suit,” Alyssa tells him as Chase laughs.

“What did you do to her?” Regan questions as Chase continues to smile.

“He babysat her most of the week and they’re now ‘buddies’ so she wanted to be just like her ‘big buddy’,” Dale explains as Regan shakes his head in disbelief.

“Now now Regan, don’t get all jealous,” Chase comments.

“I still like you,” Alyssa assures him as Regan smiles.

“But I’m going to win, right?” Alyssa looks at Chase and shakes her head yes.

“We’ll just have to see because I just may pass Chase and beat him,” Regan states as Alyssa gives him a look.

“You in trouble,” Dale comments with a slight laugh, before looking towards Alyssa seriously. “Now Alyssa, it’s okay if Regan wins.”

“Dale’s right as Regan is cool too,” Chase adds as Alyssa smiles.

“Okay – Reggy win ‘nother day but Chasey win today,” she states.

“There you have it, Regan. I’ll see you in victory lane.”

**********************

The race didn’t pan out to Alyssa’s instructions as Regan would get the victory after passing Chase with two laps to go for the lead. Following the race, Alyssa wanted to make it known that she wasn’t pleased with ‘Reggy’ not listening as she headed to victory lane with Dale after the race. She goes up to Regan, tapping his leg to get his attention.

“Alyssa….” Dale warns, knowing what is coming based on her reaction to the end of the race.

“You pass Chasey. Chasey no win. Me no happy,” Alyssa tells Regan as Regan looks at her surprised. “Chasey ‘ould win.”

“Alyssa…”

“Why you pass? Why no be 2?”

“Because I like to win,” Regan tells her as Alyssa gives him a mad look.

“Reggy no win today – Chasey win today. Reggy win ‘nother race,” Alyssa instructs.

“How about you let Regan celebrate today and maybe Chase can win next week?” Dale suggests as he pulls Alyssa back slightly.

“And perhaps I can you get a suit to match mine to go with that, okay?” Regan adds as Alyssa immediately shakes her head no. “Okay – so you keep the NAPA suit, I celebrate today and Chase celebrates next week?” Alyssa thinks it over, shaking her head yes with a smile on her face. “Want to help me celebrate?” He then leads her over to the team, ready for some fun.

They all were used to having her in victory lane with them since Dale and Marie had her. Dale stands back, watching as Alyssa plays with the confetti on stage with the team, throwing it at Regan as Ryan Pemberton sprays him with the champagne.

“Can you believe it – another win?” Marie questions as she wraps her arms around Dale from behind.

“I can believe it because these guys are awesome at what they do,” Dale answers. “It’s nice to see the success continue from last year.” He then turns around to face her, kissing her lips, as they both turn and watch Alyssa with the team. “I think somebody else likes it, too, as long as we make sure that her ‘Chasey’ wins some races.”

“She’s really grown close with him, huh?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“I’m fine with it because I know Chase won’t do anything wrong. It’s a good distraction for him right now, too, as he’s not thinking about…”

“I know.” Marie then lays her head on Dale’s shoulder as she lets out a sigh. “Will there be a day where that doesn’t come up in our lives again?”

“Nope. Everything has changed based on the past couple of months – some for the better, some not.”

“I just hope that I can be the Queen that everybody wants me to be. I’m so scared that I’m going to make the wrong decisions.”

“You won’t as you’re a great person and you know right from wrong; you’re going to make a great Queen.”

“Yes, as I will have the best King and Princess combo by my side the whole way.”

 

Chapter 68: Birthday Party

“Chasey, do you today is?” Alyssa asks as she rushes over to Chase as he walks over to the ‘party zone’ in the backyard.

As a result of her growing love with the thought of princesses increasing over the past month since Phoenix, Marie and Dale had set up a ‘teddy bear tea party’ for her birthday. Each of the attending guests were to dress like a princess or prince, and they’d play some games in the backyard (dress-up, sand castles, tag, playground) before sitting around eating snacks and drinking ‘tea’ (juice) with their teddy bears. They’d then open Alyssa’s presents and enjoy some cake to close out the party.

All of her friends were invited, from those that she played with at the race track to those away from the track. There was also a lot of family invited to take in the occasion, as well. One of the people that Alyssa had made sure was one the list – Chase.

“What’s today?” He asks as he picks her up, still surprised that she was already four years old.

“My birthday!!” She yells in pride as he twirls her around.

“Really?” She shakes her head yes.

“You come party?” Chase pretends to act as if he is surprised by her question.

“Maybe, or maybe not. I may have just came to see your daddy. Do you want me at your party?” Alyssa shakes her head yes as he sets her down. She immediately crosses her arms, checking him over.

“Chasey need outfit, and ‘rown and teddy! Chasey no come to party without.” Chase looks at her surprised as he thought that he could get away without dressing up.

“Well, what do you say that you help me out by going to find me a teddy that I can bring, and I’ll go get changed? Is that a deal?” Alyssa shakes her head yes before running off into the house. Chase rolls his eyes as he hurries over to the garage.

He knew that there was an outfit for him in the back of Dale’s Impala as he had picked it up while he was out, persisting that Chase would need to wear it. Chase gets it out, looking it over, shaking his head immediately. Alyssa had chosen the Cinderella appearance, and you could say that he would match Prince Charming with the outfit.

He goes into the small bathroom in the garage, changing into the outfit before checking out himself in the mirror. It wasn’t a preferred outfit, but he couldn’t argue about looking good wearing it. He then emerges from the bathroom, surprised when he sees Kasey and Dale there together.

“I told you that she’d make you dress up,” Dale comments while Kasey just snickers. “You look good, by the way. I’m glad that I asked Cindy for your size.”

“Yeah…thanks,” Chase says as he takes one last glance at himself in the mirror.

“Just wait till everybody sees you,” Kasey comments and takes out his phone, snapping a photo before Chase or Dale could say anything. Kasey then snickers as he sends it out to twitter, knowing that the girls would be all over it. “I can’t wait for your phone to blow up with people offering to be your princess.”

“Sssh Kasey, you’ll get him all flustered and his cheeks will go beet red,” Dale teases as Chase just rolls his eyes. “Now, don’t you have a party to attend?”

“Don’t you?” Chase questions as Dale points to the side. Chase looks over there, his jaw dropping as he notices what lies there. He had heard about Alyssa’s surprise, but wasn’t ready to believe it. However, there it lied right before him.

“I have to figure out how to wrap that first. Buy me some time?”

“Good luck with that….and Marie when she finds out.” Chase then heads out, ready to meet back up with Alyssa as Kasey takes a glance over at Dale.

“You haven’t told Marie yet?” Kasey questions and Dale shakes his head no. “Well, this should be an interesting birthday surprise. It would’ve been nice for you to give her some warning.”

“She would’ve said no and made you not go through with helping me,” Dale states before starting to unroll the wrapping paper and helping Kasey wrap it. “Don’t worry – she’ll be fine. It’ll take a couple days but she’ll agree with it.”

***********************

Midway through the afternoon, the girls and boys were running around playing together as Alyssa had all of her friends gathered around to play on the playground with her – even Chase. She had gotten Chase to go down the slide a couple times, followed by playing hide and seek with them.

As the day went on, Leo took a seat beside Alyssa as the pair were drawing some pictures at the ‘art and craft’ table that Marie had decided to set-up as a small break in chaos playing.

“Alyssa, am I your prince?” Leo asks, catching all of the adults off-guard. “Can I be prince?” Alyssa looks over and shakes her head yes as a small smile creeps on her face.

“What about me?” Chase questions as he looks up from his photo.

“I like Alyssa – I prince charms.” Chase feels taken back by Leo’s comment.

“Leo my prince, but Chasey my buddy,” Alyssa states with a smile on her face, bringing a smile back to Chase’s face. He was glad to not be replaced as he really did enjoy spending time with Alyssa.

“My buddy too,” Leo adds, surprising Chase. He wasn’t aware of how much the kids really adored him as he was getting glances from around the table. However, he knew that the buddy system with Alyssa went deeper than the other kids would understand. “Chasey go fast.”

“Faster than your daddy?” Chase questions, with a glance towards Jeff. Leo thinks it over before shaking his head no.

“My daddy fastest!” Alyssa comments as she sits up with pride at the table. “My daddy win. My daddy is special.” The discussion of course brings forth a mix of comments from the table as the children discuss the fact that their daddy is the ‘best’ and will win and such.

Marie rolls her eyes as she watches all the kids, having known to expect this. The kids always thought that their daddy was number one and getting them discussing that wasn’t always the most pleasant discussion.

There was one thing that all the kids agreed on, though – Chase was better than Regan. Regan took the comment to heart a little, though found a way to get his revenge. As Marie and the other parents tried to solve the discussion issue, Regan snuck off and changed into a clown costume. He then came back and honked his red nose to get their attention.

“Hey kids, perhaps the clown will do some tricks,” Chase edges the kids on, as they all leave the small table and hurry over to where Regan was standing.

“Regan a clown?” Leo questions as he looks up at him and Regan shakes his head yes.

“Regan make balloons?” Alyssa asks and Regan shakes his head yes as he pulls out a pump and some balloons. He didn’t have much practice, but he knew how to make flowers and dogs so that’d be enough to keep them entertained. “Yay! I go first.”

“That’s right because you’re the birthday girl,” Regan states as he sits down and starts making up the balloons while Marie and Kelley get the table set up for the tea party portion of the party.

 

Chapter 69: The Surprise

“’Hank you Geni and Lydia,” Alyssa says as she finishes admiring the new Barbie set that Jimmie Johnson’s girls had gotten her for her birthday.

“So cool,” Ella comments from her spot in the circle as Alyssa sets it aside. She had been going through the gifts, opening them from one by one, with the big gift from her daddy saved for last.

“Daddy – I get?” Grace Kenseth asks her dad Matt.

“We’ll see sweetheart,” Matt tells her as he sits behind the children with Grace on his lap.

“Okay, so there’s one more gift to go,” Kelley announces as she glances over towards Dale. Dale simply smiles as he was just glad that he had got it wrapped with some help from Kasey.

“Woah!” Grace lets out in surprise as to the size as Alyssa stands up and walks over to where it is with Dale.

“That big!” Ella adds as the children gather around curious. “What is it?”

“Can I open?” Alyssa asks as she looks at her daddy. Dale shakes his head yes as Alyssa tears at the paper a little.

“What did you get her?” Marie whispers as she walks over.

“Just be quiet and be patient with this,” Dale tells his fiancé as he pulls her close. “You can yell at me later, but I know that she’ll love it.” Marie then looks at Dale confused as Alyssa keeps ripping at the paper.

“Dale…” Marie then turns back to the ‘big gift’ as she hears a squeal of excitement from Alyssa at seeing what was wrapped inside. Marie looks over the gift, noticing that Dale had gotten her a quarter-midget car with the fact that she was old enough to race those. No wonder Dale had been in close contact with Kasey lately. “Seriously?”

“Yay!” Alyssa lets out another yell as she runs around the car excited, looking it over. The other children at the party were also checking it out – curious – as most of them had not seen one up-close themselves. Ella was one of a few that had as Jeff had let her take some laps in one last year (2014). “’Hank you Daddy!”

“Like I said – we’ll talk later,” Dale tells Marie before walking over to where Alyssa was standing, giving her a hug.

“Yeah, no kidding,” Marie comments as she takes her phone out and snaps a photo. She figured, even if she wasn’t ready to handle Alyssa driving a quarter-midget, that she’d get some happy photos of the moment. She also couldn’t help but smile when Dale got Alyssa into the midget with her hands on the steering wheel.

“Are you okay?” She hears as she glances over her shoulder to see Kasey there. “I told him to tell you about it beforehand, but he insisted on keeping it a secret.”

“He should’ve listened to your advice, but I also can’t help but admit that she looks perfect sitting in it.”

“She’ll also look perfect driving it on her way to victory as it came out of my shop.” Marie looks at Kasey in surprise as Kasey shakes his head, assuring that was the truth. “Dale came to me because he knew I had the resources and I got my guys to build it. It wasn’t that hard as it’s basically a miniature of what they’re used to building. So while your heart may worry, I’m going to tell you that you don’t need to. Coming from my shop and my guys, I know that they built it as safe as they could so if something does happen, she’s safe.”

“Thanks….I suppose. Just be prepared to pay my bail when I kill him for keeping a secret.” She then snapped a couple more photos.

“Can I drive now?” Alyssa asks as she looks at her daddy. Dale shakes his head no.

“Not right now sweetheart,” Dale answers. “Later you can try it on the go-kart track and then Kasey is going to help you by going to a real track, okay?” Alyssa shakes her head in approval. “Why don’t you play with your friends and the new toys that you got?”

“Okay!” Alyssa then climbs out of the quarter midget and hurries off with the other track kids.

**************************

“She in bed?” Marie questions as she lies in her bed later that night.

“She was asleep by the time I got to page 3,” Dale answers as he lies down beside Marie. He had told Alyssa that was time for bed, helping her get tucked in before starting a bedtime story. As he started the third page, he looked up from the book to see that she was already passed out from her big day.

“Now, about that present….” Dale lets out a sigh as he cuddles up to Marie. “Cuddling up to me isn’t going to get you out of the dog house, mister. You should’ve told me! I should’ve got a say!”

“I knew that your answer would be no so that’s why I didn’t bother. I figured that once I got it and she saw it, that I could win you over with time. Is it working?” Marie gives him a look as Dale lets out another sigh. “Marie, I know you’re very overprotective of her and scared that something is going to happen, but I can promise that she’s going to be fine.”

“Oh really?” Dale shakes his head yes. “And what gives you that impression?”

“Because I’m a racecar driver myself and know the risks and here I am. Because I know the safety improvements that have been made over the years to make these cars safer. Because I’ve watched Tony, Kasey Karsyn and Kennedy run these cars and the worst injury was Tony’s broken leg.” Marie tires to convince herself that Dale is right as he rubs her hand. “Listen, I’ve been through it. I know what is possible because of what happened to father – but I also have seen things change a lot since then. It’s part of the risk. Yes, it’s scary. Do I worry about her? Absolutely. However, this is her dream and if she wants to be a racecar driver like me…or really, like Chase, then I am going to give her every opportunity to follow her dream. I am going to bite that worry and convince myself that they’re safe and let her do it. I need you to be there with me, though. Please let your daughter have this shot and work with me.” Marie lets out a sigh as she looks over at Dale into his blue eyes.

“I can’t help but accept because I can’t be the person that crushes her little heart.”

“Thank you….from us both, really.” Dale then looks up and kisses her lips.

“Plus, I agree with what the others have said. It’ll be fun hearing the words Princess Alyssa Calantay-Earnhardt scores her first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. She’s only four, and this is the first step. Plus, I like the sounds of King Dale Earnhardt Jr. scores another NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory en route to a championship.” They both then chuckle as they lay back in the bed, still letting the idea soak in that they were both royalty now of Marie’s home country Pitronia. It was still surreal, but becoming more real with each passing day. They knew that it’d really hit when they were crowned officially, and Marie began her real duties as Queen.

“By the way, did you catch what her and Leo said to each other while doing arts and crafts?” Marie shakes her head yes as she caught the fact that Leo was her prince.

“Prince Leo Gordon and Princess Alyssa Calantay-Earnhardt-Gordon. Who would’ve thought that?” Dale shakes his head in disbelief as well as certainly over the years, there were many that wouldn’t have pictured an Earnhardt child with a Gordon child.

“Remember – it’s still puppy love and they’re only little kids.” Marie then looks over at Dale.

“That’s the second time that you’ve said the word ‘little’ in reference to Alyssa. Awww, is daddy afraid to see his little girl grow up?”

“Can’t she stay little forever?” Marie shakes her head no as she cuddles up to Dale, flipping off the light switch.

“Just think – she’ll be starting Junior Kindergarten at the end of August this year.”

“I didn’t need to hear that right now.”

“Face it Dale – our little girl is growing up. She’s becoming her own young lady.”

“Will you just stop? Let me deal with the fact that she’s a year older first.”

 

Chapter 70: Returning Home

“Are you ready for this?” Dale asks Marie as they pull up to the castle later that month. It was time for the crowning ceremony and the pair had returned back to Pitronia with Alyssa, set to be officially crowned the queen and king.

“The past is in the past,” Marie answers as she looks over at him. She knew the question was in reference to what happened the last time they had set foot in the castle with the sequence of events that happened with her father. While those events had happened here, there was no fear in her mind as she knew that he was gone forever and not able to ruin their lives moving forward. “I know that I can trust my people and I know this is my second home. Are you ready for this?” Dale shakes his head yes as the car pulls up to the castle.

It wasn’t the truth as he had thought back to what happened the last time he was within those very walls in the main hall with facing her father and the guards. The fact that her father had yelled at him for dating her. The fact that her father had struck him repeatedly with a belt in reference to the fact that he broke country law.

Shaking his head, he lets those thoughts leave his mind, not wanting to influence the future with the past. It was the past. Her father was dead. Those same events weren’t going to happen again. But the same words remained true – their lives were forever changed by those events.

“It’s okay to admit that you’re afraid – I won’t tell anyone,” Marie whispers in his ear as they both get out of the back of the car, leaning over to kiss his cheek. Alyssa gets out behind them, her eyes looking up at the castle, growing huge with each passing second. Marie notices this and can only smile as she kneels down to Alyssa’s level. “Big, isn’t it?” Alyssa shakes her head yes as she looks over at her mom.

“Mommy’s castle?” Alyssa questions and Marie shakes her head yes.

“It’s mommy and daddy’s castle as mommy and daddy are the king and queen here. And that makes you the little princess of the castle.”

“Like Cindy and Belle?” Marie shakes her head yes, knowing that Alyssa is referring to Cinderella and Belle. “Cool!’

“Do you want to go inside?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. The three of them then enter through the doors as Dale looks around, noticing the colors inside had been changed to a brighter tone – he could thank Sharon and Joshua tremendously for that. It helped in clouding out the thoughts of the past, and it definitely looked a lot better.

“Good day Queen Marie-Ann and King Dale….oh, and of course Princess Alyssa,” Sharon says as she appears before them with Joshua, both bowing per protocol. “Admiring the décor? I hope you both like it. I thought the castle could use some better colors.”

“It’s perfect and cut the official crap,” Marie states as she pulls Sharon close into a hug, glad to see her close friend. “I don’t want to hear that greeting or see that bow again, got it?” Sharon and Joshua shake their heads yes.

“This is pretty!” Alyssa lets out as she walks around the front hall, peaking into each room before looking back at her parents.

“She is a little excited about being a princess.”

“She wouldn’t stop blabbing about wearing a pretty dress and crown once we got here,” Dale adds as Sharon chuckles. It was Sharon’s second time seeing Alyssa as she had flown to the States to see her at her birthday party. Each time Sharon saw her, she just watched in awe, loving Marie’s daughter more with each passing day.

“Of course, daddy here had to ruin the blabbering and asked her what she wanted more – her dress or her new racecar? She of course picked the new racecar,” Marie explains as both Sharon and Joshua chuckle. “Thankfully, we both explained that she could have both if she wanted.”

“I told you that she’s daddy’s little girl.”

“Yeah, somehow that happened.”

“Can we go around?” Alyssa asks, wanting to know if she could scope the whole place out.

“Perhaps Sharon could give us a tour since I forget some of the favourite spots here,” Marie suggests as Sharon shakes her head in acceptance.

“Yay!”

“But you have to listen to Sharon and Joshua, okay?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. They then begin the tour.

As they check out each room, Alyssa’s eyes grow in amazement. There were certain highlights and watching her check out her bed to checking out the playground out back and wanting to jump in the pool. Perhaps the favorite moment for them was all was a trip to the kitchen that brought forth ice cream and homemade cookies.

Before any of them knew it, it was the end of the day and they knew that the next day would be long with the crowning and such so each was planning on heading to bed a little earlier than normal.

After tucking Alyssa into bed, Dale leaves her room, leaving the bedsroom door cracked open a little as he looks for Marie – admitting that sometimes it was hard to find people in the big castle. As he thinks of familiar spots to check – bedsroom, bathroom – he catches a glimpse of her hair blowing in the breeze on the balcony. He walks up behind her, leaning against the building, not wanting to catch her totally off guard.

“You seem lost in thought,” he says after standing there quietly for a couple of minutes watching her.

“There’s so many thoughts to be had,” she answers without a glance back his way. “This place brings out so many different thoughts.” She then looks down, a mix of sadness, hurt and anger filling her as she thinks over everything. “My father being the asshole that he was when I was younger. The thought of running from home to try and escape what he was doing. My father being the asshole towards you and me when he found out we were together. The mix of sadness and rightfulness that is there in the moment that I stabbed him. Yes, he deserved it for he was a bad man, but he is still father Dale. Then there’s my crazy ass sister and all the stuff that she pulled. From what she pulled on the plane, to what she pulled in Daytona on both you and Chase. I feel I am to blame for that pain for I brought her into your life and Chase’s life. There’s also sadness there with her being gone as hell, she’s my twin; we spent the first 15 years of our lives together close as ever. Then there’s the realization that the pain we all feel will never go away. It’ll continue to haunt us as we move forward, no matter what we do.”

“But in the same breath, everything happens for a reason.” She then looks back at him confused as he closes the gap between them, joining her at the railing. “We may not know the reason, but they say everything happens for a reason. It brought us closer together. It made us realize just how much we truly love each other and Alyssa. We also proved all of us – Chase included – how strong we are and the fact that we can face any challenge that is put up against us. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I believe now that we’re strong enough to take on the whole world. Maybe that’s why your mother feels that you’d be the perfect queen with me by your side.” He then wraps an arm around her and pulls her close as they look out over the country together.

The idea of being king and queen wasn’t something that was the first flattering news to hear as Dale remembers the confusion, worry and mix of negative feelings that were there when he learned the news. However, as he looked out towards the people who were sleeping the night a way – for the most part – some happiness began to shine through. Perhaps they were brought together and here to make a difference. These people deserved a solid change in their lives for the better in having to deal with the dramatics of the past. They deserved the happiness that Marie and Dale got everyday with their daughter and the rest of the family. Knowing how bad things could get, were they set to be king and queen because they could make a difference?

“I remember growing up in this country and wishing that things were different, better,” Marie muses out loud, as if to read the thoughts that were on Dale’s mind. “Now this is my chance to give back to this place and make it what I dreamed that it should be like. This is my chance to make things right.”

“And I think that you’re going to do a beautiful job,” Dale tells her before kissing her lips.

“Neither of us are going to do anything if we don’t get some sleep, though.”

“Then to the royal bed we go?” Dale then leads her back inside, closing the balcony doors as they head down the hall to their bedsroom.

So there’s about one more chapter to go – the official crowning! But no fear as there’s two sequels planned: “Mayday #9” and “Chasing the Love”. Both stories are set for different time periods but I am going to write them both at the same time so stay tuned.

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