Chapter 21: Office Discussions
Following a strong weekend with a fourth place finish, the office meetings were going smoothly for Angelica on Monday.
She had her sit down chat with the fellow HMS crew chiefs, sharing a couple notes from the race and discussing set-up ideas for the upcoming race at Atlanta. She then sat in the pit crew meeting with their coach Greg Morin, who went through areas where the team could improve based on some minor slip-ups down pit stops. The final meeting on her agenda was a meeting with Dale, Travis and Kevin to discuss things from their perspective with the race, and ideas for Atlanta.
Like the other meetings, it went smoothly with some great discussions across the table. Once the meeting was complete, Travis and Kevin quickly put together their notes and headed out, set to go about their next duty of the day. Travis had to finish breaking down the car with some of the shop guys, while Kevin had an engineering staff meeting.
“Is there a reason that you’re still standing in my office?” Angelica questions as she finally looks up from her notebook after making some final notes from the meeting. She had noticed that Dale hadn’t moved from his seat, keeping his eyes locked on the crew chief.
“Did you talk to Hamlin as you intended to?” He asks and she immediately rolls her eyes. Since leaving his hauler on Sunday night, she was set on forgetting about him and moving forward. She didn’t want to think about his jealous antics for any more seconds. She didn’t want to think about their argument. She didn’t want to think about how their friendship was falling piece by piece because of his attitude. In her mind, she was set to move forward and focus on her job, and possible future with Dale.
“Yeah, I went and talked to him. I can’t promise that he’ll shut up about things, but he knows that I’m not happy with him either way.” Dale could tell by her vague details that there had been things discussed that she was trying to avoid touching upon again.
“Okay, that’s fair. Even if he tries to say anything, the guys know better than to listen to him now. But, do you want to talk about what exactly was said?” She then glances up, catching his eyes. It was easy to be perfectly honest with him as they always had an open relationship. Given how well the weekend had gone, she didn’t want to hold back any secrets.
“Let’s just say that he purposely started the rumors because he’s jealous. He still has feelings for me and wants to be with me. He’s also worried that you’re going to break my heart again because he can’t put the past in the past.” She then lets out a sigh as she sets her pen down, seeing as how the comments had taken Dale back a step. “Listen, Denny and I perhaps went out for a bit. We have a great friendship – or had as of right now – and I thought that he was a great guy. I learned of his little black book games and broke up with him on my terms. He wasn’t pleased as he wasn’t set to let me go. Let’s just say that he still has those feelings.” Dale felt like biting his tongue for thinking about asking the question, but it was worth asking if they were being honest.
“Do you have any feelings for him?” Angelica shakes her head no in return, just wanting to strangle Denny at the current moment.
“He’s just a friend and nothing more, as I told you on the weekend. That’s all he will ever be. He may not even be that if he doesn’t grow up.” Dale shook his head, understanding. There was also the other half of her statement lingering. He knew how much she trusted Denny before with the friendship and his judgment.
“And what about his comments about me?” Angelica shrugs her shoulders, not really caring what Denny had told her.
“He’s still stuck on what happened before. He doesn’t understand the discussion that we had. He doesn’t understand the agreement that we have, and how we’re working at things slow. He can say what he wants in his advice as far as what I should do about you in the future, but that doesn’t matter to me. That’s solely my decision and will be made solely based on my own opinion. You have nothing to worry about, Dale.” She felt like kicking herself in the butt for the final sentence as she felt she had purely admitted her feelings without holding back at all.
“I’m glad. I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m worrying for no reas-”
“It’s fine, Dale. I get the fear and worry because as you told me before, you still like me a lot and feel that we should be back together. You don’t have to apologize. I appreciate you expressing that with me and talking it out, just like I appreciate you giving me the time that I need.” She wanted to emphasize ‘time’ as she knew jumping in before she was ready could quite possibly result in a lot of problems, both personally and professionally.
“Take the time that you need. I know how much I hurt you and I want you to be as comfortable as possible if we do get together. I’ll let you get to work now.” He then stands up and walks to the door, glancing back at her. “Should I bring you dinner later?” She then holds back her urge to say yes instantly and shakes her head no. She had to take things slow.
“I’m good for tonight, Dale. Thanks for the offer though.” He then gives her a quick wave and heads off as she leans back in her chair and simply smiles.
Chapter 22: Crew Discussion
Throughout the year, the guys would all do some nights together. If you’re always working with the same group of people, you become good friends and end up hanging out away from the work. That was the case as they all went out for dinner following work on Wednesday.
“So what’s this deal that’s been spread about Dale and Angelica?” Jackman Nick Covey asks after they finish eating. Travis, Kevin, William and Matt then look over with curious glances. “While David and I were discussing things on Sunday morning, we overheard your discussion. I’m curious.” William then rolls his eyes, as he had hoped the discussions would lay off.
“The pair used to date in the past,” rear tire carrier William Harrell starts explaining. “It happened during her first year at HMS after her and Dale crossed paths in the shop late one night, according to what Cameron told me. Brandon and Dustin off of Hamlin’s team were trying to start some rumor about them dating, which it seems the other twits began to believe, but it’s not true. Angelica confirmed that they used to date, but they’re not now. They’ve simply worked at putting the past in the past, and working together as friends and employees. If something happens, it happens.”
“Why would Rick put them together if they had dated, though?” Car chief Travis Mack wonders as the crew guys shrug their shoulders.
“They were quiet about their relationship. The only way that Cameron found out was he was there late one night with her because they were working together on the 48 team. They went out for five or six months, actually.” Some of the guys then glance over surprised as a smile forms on Kevin Meendering’s face. From the beginning, he was set on believing that they would end up together at the end of the season.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them dating,” Kevin shares, catching the other guy’s attention. “Have you seen those two around each other? You can tell that there’s something there. It’s just a matter of time.” William rolls his eyes, having grown annoyed of Kevin’s thoughts.
“How long is it going to take to convince you otherwise?” William then questions as Kevin shrugs his shoulders.
“Don’t be surprised if we find them kissing in victory lane later on this year.” William then crosses his arms.
“So what is this spark that you see anyway?” Kevin then smiles, remembering that afternoon in the garage.
“Did you see the way they were on Saturday before practice? The glances from Dale, her smile back in return. They’re showing all the early signs of flirting. Plus, you could also add to pre-race on pit road. The chemistry was there in how they handled the situation surrounding Denny with ease and in sync. I’m telling you that I will be right in the end.”
“That in sync and ease comes from their working relationship,” Travis comments. “Do I need to remind you how easily things went on raceday? They have a good balance.”
“Besides, if it didn’t work the first time around, why try again?” William adds. “And do you think they want to risk taking that next step forward and ruining things and hurting the team?” Kevin tried to think over what the pair were saying, but it still spelled relationship to him.
“If they really like each other enough and think it will work this time, they could try it,” David Mayo offers. “Just because it didn’t work the first time doesn’t mean that the same thing will happen this time. If the feelings are still there, they could use the first relationship as a way to make things better this time.” David then takes a sip of his drink as a smile forms on his face. “Now that you bring it up, Dale has been giving her a keen eye and notice how he stayed back after we all left to talk to her by herself?”
“That’s exactly what I’m talking about!” Kevin states with a big smile as William rolls his eyes.
“It could’ve been for any reason,” he tries to reason. “What if they had some other notes to go over? There were times that he’d stay back to talk to Steve or Greg. I don’t think he was screwing one of them.” Some of the guys burst out laughing as Kevin shakes his head.
“You keep living in denial and I’ll be rubbing the eventual kiss in your face later on this year.”
“So you honestly think that they will end up together by the end of the season?” Travis questions with a glance over at Kevin and he shakes his head yes.
“I tell you what – I bet they’ll end up together by the end of the year – no, by the summer in July, or I will go streaking through the shop,” Kevin declares as some of the guys look on shocked and laugh.
“I don’t know if I want to agree this bet and see that sight,” William comments.
“Fine – that’s write that down officially, and if it happens – I’m recording it to show the world,” Travis states as he marks it down in his phone. “So if they get together by the beginning of July, you’re off the hook. But if they’re not, you are going to be taking those clothes off.”
“And if you get fired, it’s not my fault.” Kevin then crosses his arms with a smile.
“I don’t have nothing to worry about,” he comments. “Now, if they do end up together, you should have to do something.” William shakes his head no as Kevin’s smile widens.
“I’m not streaking.”
“You could agree to have a pie thrown at your face or wear an embarrassing costume for a day,” Matt Tyrrell offers.
“I say if they don’t end up together, you have to dress up in a coconut bra and grass skirt,” Kevin challenges as William shrugs his shoulders. Considering it wouldn’t be happening, he had nothing to worry about.
“Fine – you’re on.”
“This should be fun, if anything,” Nick Covey comments as he finishes his drink.
“And Kevin, no trying to play matchmaker and help them together so you win the bet,” Matt states. “And William, no trying to screw up any chemistry if anything forms. Deal?” Both crewmen shake their heads yes. “In honesty, this doesn’t surprise me. I knew as soon as we started that discussion in Daytona that there’d be a bet formed somewhere.”
“Honestly, what do you guys think?” Kevin questions. “Do you think there is something there? Let’s go around the table, beginning with our esteemed car chief.” Travis then smiles as he thinks it over. He wasn’t 100% sure as he was curious to their relationship, but didn’t know if it went past a simple really good crew chief-driver relationship.
“I think there could be something there, but don’t think it’ll go anywhere,” Travis comments. “I think it’s just a good balance, as I originally told you.” He then glances over at Matt, who simply shakes his head no. As he thought about it more, he couldn’t see the pair of them getting together. “No comment?” Matt shakes his head no.
“Remember – this guy is trying to be the guy that keeps things fair between Kevin and William,” Nick reminds them as he thinks over the question himself. “I think we’re going to get to see just how small Kevin’s wee-wee is by the summer.”
“Seriously?” Kevin questions and Nick shakes his head yes.
“See, I’m not the only one who believes there’s nothing there,” William says.
“Well, I for one believe that there is something,” David starts. “Dale is showing the early flirting signs – as I hinted. It’s just a matter of Angelica accepting them. Considering they were able to put their past in the past, I think it’ll happen sooner than later.”
“It all depends on how far they’ve put the past,” Front Tire Carrier Dustin Lineback starts. “Is it far enough back for a relationship? Or just far enough to work together and be successful?”
“After hearing all of the evidence, I find the accused able to get together,” Devin DelRicco shares. “It’s just a matter of time people, especially if we win a race in the next couple of weeks.”
“So you’re thinking victory sex?” Nick questions and Devin shakes his head yes with a grin. “If we win this weekend and she ends up having a baby in November, oh boy the teasing will be totally fun. Somebody please mark down when we win races just incase.”
“That’d be fun – a baby and a championship trophy,” Kevin comments as William rolls his eyes.
“You’re getting ahead of yourself,” William says. “I suggest you start finding out the quickest way to run around the shop and not get caught by the boss.”
“Well, I suggest you find out what size coconuts you’re going to need.”