Making Memories for a Lifetime – Chapters 31 Thru 35

makingmemoriesforalifetime

Chapter 31: Tony

“Hey, are you okay?” Tony hears as he’s sitting on pit road thinking as qualifying continues. He looks up and watches as Rick sits beside him. It was obvious to everyone that things were off with how Tony was acting. That’s why his team had been sure to give him his space and limit all responsibilities that he had to do. Steve Addington wanted the goal to simply be for now to just get through the weekend.

“Lots on my mind,” Tony answers, knowing that he can’t lie to Rick with Rick being one of the ones that knew the truth about everything that happened last weekend.

“I can understand that. Do you want to talk about it?” Tony shakes his head no as he looks out towards the track, watching Kevin do his qualifying run. “Tony, it’d help if you talked about it. I know it’s hard but it helps.” Tony takes a deep breath as he glances towards Rick once Kevin is done his run.

“I don’t know why I’m here right now when I could care less how I run this weekend. All of my thoughts are about Lindsay, Dale and Angelica. I keep thinking back to Ang being sick, Lindsay and the baby news and just…..I don’t know, Rick.” Rick wraps his arm around Tony as Tony looks back to the ground.

“I know it’s hard being here and I know you’re worried about them.”

“I don-”

“Tony, just stop for a minute. Hear me out. It’s hard to be here when your heart is in a different place. One of the only reasons you’re probably here is because as racers, racers continuing racing as they try to put everything aside. That’s what we’ve all done before. Sometimes it gets to be too much, though, as those emotions you can’t cloud away.” Tony shakes his head, as Rick is reading exactly into his thoughts. “But you have to remember something. Being at the track is also one way to help heal those feelings. Take all those emotions whether it’s worry, fear, sadness – whatever it is. Bottle them up and take that energy and feed it into your driving. Push harder than you’ve ever pushed before. Sometimes, a win can help heal every emotion you’re feeling. Let your team know how you’re feeling. Stop hiding it and let them help you. You want to know why?” Tony smiles, remembering one of the quotes that Rick had told him a long time ago as he shakes his head.

“Teamwork is what fuels common people to do uncommon things.” Rick shakes his head.

“You’re right.” Tony then looks up.

“So basically what you’re saying is that I should just let myself let the team know how I feel, stop trying to be this rock hard solid person and let us all come together to make this weekend successful?” Rick smiles.

“Exactly. If you let Steve and the guys in, they’ll help you through the weekend and the weeks to come. That’s why you have friends. Friends are there for you when you need them.” Rick then stands up. “Remember that and it’ll help you this weekend. If you still need someone to talk to, come see me.” Tony smiles as he stands up with Rick.

“Thanks Rick.”

“No problem, Tony. Hope you have a good weekend.” Rick then walks off to go check on one of his teams as Tony heads over to Steve and the team.

“Ready to kick some ass?” Steve asks and Tony smiles, shaking his head yes.

“Going to do the best that I can,” Tony answers. “Oh, and about earlier, I’m sorry for that stunt. I should’ve just told you what was up. I’ve just got a lot on my mind with what’s going on.” Steve shakes his head understanding. “Part of me wants to be home with Angelica and Lindsay, taking care of them. I just want things to be perfect again.”

“I know, I understand. That’s why I just let you go when you headed off. Relax Tony, its cool. The guys know that you have a lot going on. That’s why I went and talked to the other teams and got some set-up ideas from them.” Tony smiles, glad that things are cool as he starts to get ready to head out and run his laps. “Good luck. Make us proud.”

“Let’s see what this car has in it.”

Come the end of the qualifying session, Kyle had ended up with the pole based on how strong his car was in qualifying. Tony, meanwhile, ended up sixth which was pretty good considering how practice went. As Tony sat in the hauler with the team, he thought back to Rick’s words. He knew if he leaned on the guys for some support throughout the weekend, he’d get through it. He also knew that with everything else going on, they’d all get through it due to having each other to help.

The quote “Teamwork is what fuels common people to do uncommon things” is my favourite Rick Hendrick quote of all time. Believe I remember hearing it in The Hendrick Story movie. I thought it fit where this was heading. 🙂
Chapter 32: Sleepless Nights
Dale flops back and forth, as he tries to shake his thoughts from his mind. Why was this bugging him? He had gotten past this. Why was it back on his mind as he laid there that night?

With bare back exposed, Jeff gave the belt a flick, sending him smacking against Dale’s back as Dale let out a scream. “The pain doesn’t get old.” Dale closed his eyes, not wanting to think about it as he felt the belt go against his back not once, twice, but about seven times. He didn’t want to count it, didn’t want to feel it, but knew it was hitting him by the searing pain it left each time. Each smack caused a scream to leave his throat, in hopes that it’d be easier to deal with the pain he faced. After realizing for a couple minutes that there’d be nothing, he opened his eyes in hopes that Jeff would be gone. But seeing Jeff’s shadow cast over him, he knew that wasn’t the case.

“You need to leave soon. The girls will be hom-”

“Don’t lie to me, Earnhardt.” Dale let out a sigh, hoping that would have been his way out as he knew that Jeff wanted to keep this between only them. He knew that he’d need a bit of time before they got back to compose his own emotions so they didn’t know anything was up. “Anyways, I have a specia-”

“Can’t we save it for another time, please?” Fingers meeting the back of neck, moving slowly down his back in a smooth fashion, Dale knew the answer to the question was a no as Jeff was setting him up for what was sure to be the worst pain ever. “You know I can’t take when you do that so just please, don’t.” Jeff then smiled as Dale’s pleads as it just egged him on more, wanting to inflict the pain in hopes it’d be enough warning to keep things quiet.

In an instant, the soft touch turned into a nightmare as Jeff thrusted himself inside of Dale’s rectum, pushing up inside quickly and forcefully.

“Stop it!” Dale yells as Lindsay groans as she looks over at him, seeing him flopping around.

“Dale,” she says lightly as she grabs his hand, trying to wake him up.

“Let me go!” He yells and then fights his hand away from her, still lost in his dream, thinking it is part of his thoughts.

“Dale wake up!” Lindsay yells and Dale eyes flick open as tears fall down his cheeks. As he wakes up, Lindsay instantly pulls him close, wrapping both arms around him and holds him. “You’re okay. You’re safe now. I’ve got you.” She then rubs his back as his buries his head in her neck.

“I don’t know wha-” he starts and Lindsay looks up, cutting off his words with a kiss.

“Just relax. It’s okay. I’ve got you. You’re safe. It was just a dream. Relax and get some sleep baby.” She then rubs her hand across his cheek, wiping some of the tears. “I promise I’m not going anywhere.”

“It hurts so much…” He then buries his head deeper in neck as his body shakes as more tears fall. She rubs his back, trying to relax him, though feels him begin to shake more as the sobs continue. “He hurt….”

“That was a long time ago, Dale. It’s over. Relax and know that you’re safe and I’ve got you. I love you and I won’t let you get hurt ever again. Just relax and get some sleep, please.” She feels him begin to relax in her arms as she continues to hold him tight to her. “That’s it sweetheart.”

“I love you.” Dale then looks up at her with pleading eyes and she instantly kisses his lips.

“I love you too.”

“Thank you for being here for me and putting up with this.” She shakes her head as she feels her own tears begin to fall, hating the words that are escaping his mouth. “Lind-”

“Dale, just stop please. You don’t need to thank me for being here. I am here for you because I love you. No matter what happens, I will always love you. Through thick and thin, I promise to be here for you and take care of you because I love you. You love me for who I am and I love you for who you are and that’s all this is. Just relax and close those baby blues and get some sleep. You need it.” He cuddles back close to her and she feels him relax in her arms as he goes back to sleep. Once she knows he’s asleep for sure, she closes her eyes and falls asleep with him.

A couple hours later though, Dale is back awake and tears are streaming down his face as he slips himself carefully out of Lindsay’s arms and out of bed.

“Why me?” He asks himself as he stands up and heads to the bathroom. “I can’t keep doing this.” He then runs the cold water tap, splashing himself water as he looks at himself in the mirror. You could tell that he wasn’t getting enough sleep by the way he looked in the mirror at his reflection. The combination of the dreams and what was going on were taking its toll on him. He shakes his head as he turns the tap off and dries his face off. “I got to get some sleep.” He then leans on the bathroom counter, shaking his head as he looks up once again at his own reflection. He then closes his eyes, trying to shake his thoughts, remembering one of the last times he stood in that same bathroom.

“Tough luck. That’s for you to deal with.” Even with his eyes closed, he knew what was happening as he heard Jeff playing with the buckle on his jeans, quickly undoing it and sliding the jeans off. In typical fashion each time, he’d be stripped down to nothing before wiped or slapped, whatever the preference of that night. “And as for what will I do to you, I have a special treat for tonight that I hope you enjoy.” Dale was confused by those words, yet afraid. What was Jeff planning that’d be different than all of the other nights?

“What is that?” In an instant, Dale knew what it was – now regretting the words he spoke earlier.

As the thoughts entered his mind, he felt vile rising his throat and instantly darted over to the toilet, letting it come up and into the toilet as the tears fell down his cheeks again. As he continued to throw up, he felt a hand rubbing his back, knowing instantly who’s it was without even looking back. He continued to let the vile come up before he had no more energy for more to come up as he sat down, laying back against the bathtub. He let the tears continue to trickle down his cheeks as exhaustion began to take him over.

“It’s over…it’s over….” He quietly kept telling himself as he felt the hand continue to rub his back. He then leaned on the person beside him, smiling as he looked into her eyes.

“Just relax baby,” Lindsay said quietly as she grabbed the washcloth and wiped off his face. She keeps wiping his face as she feels more weight on her shoulder, looking to see his eyes were closed and he was back asleep. Given how she was feeling and knowing that he needed the sleep, she wasn’t about to move as she wrapped an arm around him and got as comfy as she could before falling asleep.

Chapter 33: Sleepless Nights Part 2
Tony rolled over, trying to get comfy. It was 3am and he had to be on track for practice at 10am. How was this going to happen with no sleep at all?

He sits up, fluffing his pillow, before flopping back down on it as he curls up and tries to get back asleep. When he was at home with Dale in his arms, it was so easy to sleep. So why was it so hard to sleep now?

He then flips on his stomach, thinking maybe that’ll help as he tries to let his mind calm down and drift off to sleepy land.

“I give up,” he says after laying there for 15 minutes without any luck as he sits up in the bed. He reaches for his night table, grabbing his phone, shaking his head when he sees what time it is. As he scrolls through his contacts, he hated waking any of his friends up. He wanted to talk to someone – figuring that would help somehow – but felt guilty in pulling someone out of his bed. “Inney…minnie….miney…moe….” He finally settles on the person he believes can help and hits enter. He hated waking up this person, but he would always contact this person when he wanted to have a heart-to-heart. It was one of the things that he loved about their friendship.

“Hello?” He hears on the other end, hearing the groggy voice, feeling bad.

“Hey,” Tony says quietly as he lies back on the pillow. “Can we talk please?”

“Yeah, of course.” Tony smiles glad that Ryan was okay with the phone call. “Do you want me to come over? I can be there in 5.” Tony knew that’d probably be a better idea so he didn’t wake up Krissie or the kids.

“Yeah, sounds good. Coffee?”

“Not at this time, buddy. Let’s try some hot chocolate.” Tony smiles, remembering the last time they had a hot chocolate conversation.

“I’ll get it started. See ya in a few.” Tony then hangs up and heads to the kitchen, throwing on some water. Once it’s boiled, he makes the hot chocolate, including whip cream on top like old news.

As he finishes it up, he hears a knock on the door and smiles. He walks to the door and opens it, letting Ryan inside. They both then sit on the couch as Tony hands Ryan a hot chocolate.

“The last time you called me at this time was shortly after things at Amber’s house,” Ryan starts as he looks at Tony. Tony then looks down, trying his best to wipe those thoughts out of his mind. He wished that he wouldn’t had been standing there and seen that go down like he did. “So what’s on your mind this time?”

“I can’t sleep,” Tony says as he swirls his finger around in his drink, trying to ignore the elephant in the room.

“I got that. I figured that’s why you called me. Now want to tell me why?” Tony lets out a sigh as he looks up.

“I don’t know why, Ryan. I tried lying on my side, my stomach, every which way possible and can’t get to sleep. I just lay there awake, thinking.” Tony then takes a sip of his drink before continuing. “I can’t get my mind off everything that is going on. It seems like there’s no way to find an end to it.” Ryan shakes his head as he listens to his friend.

“Tony, there’s always a way out at the end of the tunnel. You told me that after Gene did what he did. So what makes this different?” Tony shrugs his shoulders. “Angelica will get better, Dale will get better and Lindsay will get better; you all deserve happiness and you will get that happiness.” Ryan then takes a sip of his drink, smiling as he always loved Tony’s hot chocolates. “Now by your words, I’m thinking there’s more to why you’re not sleeping tonight. What makes tonight different than being at home?” Tony knew the answer to the question without answering it as he looked at Ryan.

“Dale. He’s not here with me.” Ryan shakes his head, now knowing where he wanted to go with this.

“You don’t have him to hold in your arms so you’re worried and feel that void. Don’t worry – I feel that way sometimes when I’m away from Krissie and the kids. You just have to tell yourself that they’re safe at home, assure yourself that he’ll be fine because he has Lindsay with him.” Tony knew Ryan was right by those words. If anything came up, Dale and Lindsay had each other and Angelica had them both. They would get through whatever was thrown their way. If it was serious enough, they would call him. He also knew that they were fine after talking to them for a couple of hours before going to bed.

“That sounds so easy. Why is it so hard?”

“Because of everything that has happened.” Tony knew that Ryan was right with his words. Since things went down with Jeff, Tony had taken the role of protector and being there for them, with them. He’d ease the nightmares, soothe the pain. Without being there, his worry was peaked at another level.

“You’re right. Damn I thought this would be easy to be away from them for a weekend.” Tony takes a deep breath as he drinks his hot chocolate. “He’s probably tucked in bed with Lindsay, snoring away. They’re probably both enjoying sweet dreams while I’m sitting here enjoying a drink with you.” Ryan laughs as he thinks that over.

“You’re probably right. You could be enjoying some sleep if you let your mind realize that things are fine and you can go to sleep. Then come morning, give them a call and give yourself that extra assurance. If it doesn’t work, though, everybody would understand if you went home to be with them given the circumstances.” Tony looked at Ryan surprised by those words. They reminded him of the same words that Rick and Steve had already told him earlier that day. “I’m serious! We all know that things right now are rocky because of what happened. If the same thing happened to Krissie, I’d probably want to be home with her, cuddling her and not moving away from her.” Tony shook his head, knowing he wanted to be there that weekend. He wanted to go out and win. It was the competitor in him but he couldn’t tell himself otherwise.

“That’s the easy way out.”

“Sometimes the easy way out is the way to go, though. It doesn’t make you weak or a cop out. It makes you human. Tony, as much of a front you may show the world, we all know you have emotions like us all.” Tony shakes his head.

“I know and you’re right. But I want to be here. I want to go out and win on Sunday.” Ryan then shoots him a surprised look, trying to lighten the mood.

“You really think you’re going to beat me?” Tony shakes his head yes.

“Of course. I know your secrets.” Ryan laughs. “We were teammates….once. Good teammates, too. I know your weaknesses. I can bet you that I’ll beat you on Sunday. If I don’t, then call me a liar but I have faith. I know my team and I know my car. Oh, and I know your weaknesses so I’m all good.” Ryan rolls his eyes. “Seriously, though, thank you. You make a good point but I’m here because I want to be here. Like you said – I just have to know it that Lindsay and Dale will keep each other safe.”

“Yep.”

They then finish their drinks up, sharing some small conversation back and forth.

“Think you can sleep now?” Ryan asks as he puts his cup in the sink.

“Yeah,” Tony answers, not wanting to keep Ryan there later regardless whether he could or not.

“Good. If you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to come find me tomorrow.” Tony smiles.

“Thanks Ryan. I appreciate you dragging your ass out of bed.” Ryan laughs. “I promise to not bug you tomorrow till after sunrise. As soon as that sun is in the sky, all bets are off.”

“You were never up before the sun so I don’t have t worry.” Tony laughs as Ryan heads to the door.

“I meant it when I said thanks. I’m glad we’re still friends.”

“Nothing could change that. Bye Tony. Get some sleep.”

“Yes sir. Bye Ryan.” Tony watches as Ryan heads out, locking the door shortly after. Tony then heads back to his bed, plopping down. “Now to try this again.”

Chapter 34: The Morning After
The toughest lessons are sometimes the hardest lessons to learn 🙂
Tony sits there, eating his breakfast as he looks at his phone. He had debated calling Dale and Lindsay that morning to see how they were before practice. It killed him that he was away from them. Ryan was right – he was worried. It wasn’t the same being away from them.

He then finishes off his breakfast, knowing why he hadn’t called yet. If they were busy or resting, he didn’t want to bother them. He knew that this weekend was for them to spend together and talk about things. He was part of the process, but for the most part, this was between them. If Chelsea was to have a sibling, it would’ve been Dale as the father rather than him. That didn’t bother him as he loved them both and knew they loved him back. If there was no love, then this wouldn’t have worked like it had.

As he stands up and takes the plate to the sink, he knows that it’d be a good idea to call as it would ease his thoughts and give him some sort of peace before practice.

He lays on the couch, kicking his feet up as he dials the number, awaiting for someone to answer.

“Hello?” He hears and instantly a smile crosses his face.

“Hey Dale,” he says as he relaxes.

“Hey Tony! How are you?” Tony smiles, as he knows he doesn’t want to give away what happened the night before. It wouldn’t help if he had Dale worrying about him.

“I’m good, just wish the car would’ve handled better yesterday.”

“You’ll figure it out. I have faith in you. You always figure it out.” Tony smiles as he listens to Dale’s words. It was like him to say that. If Dale was there at the track with him, he would’ve said those exact words and then kissed his lips. “I saw that Harrison qualified well. I take it the kid is figuring the car out?” Tony smiles as he remembers watching Harrison make his run and talk with Steve. The kid was definitely like his father and that was a good thing as it made everyone love him. Harrison did pretty good in qualifying as he qualified fourth.

“The kid knows how to drive. I was surprised at how well he did yesterday. I think it also surprised Rick and Steve.”

“It surprised me. Listen, Tony, I was thinking. What do you think of putting Harrison in the car for the rest of the year?” Tony then sits up, shocked. Was he really hearing these words from Dale?

“Why are you asking that? Dale, are you being serious right now?” As Tony hears silence on the other end, he takes a deep breath. Dale was definitely being serious right now and it killed him. “Is this because of what happened at Daytona? If that’s the case, don’t even let that bug you. I bet you’ll be back in the car in a couple of weeks kicking my ass.”

“It’s not just Daytona, though.” Tony feels the blood drain from his face as he hears the words slip out of Dale’s mouth. He knew by the emotion that he could hear in Dale’s voice that it definitely didn’t do with just Daytona. It connected to everything else that was going on. Tony takes a deep breath, before continuing.

“Dale, I know there’s a lot going on. I know what you’re feeling as I am feeling it too. But are you sure you’re not jumping to conclusions for no reason?”

“I am sure with what I am doing, Tony. I need to be here for Angelica and for Lindsay.” Tony knows that what Dale is saying is true as he had those same feelings yesterday.

“I understand, Dale. But you can be there for them while racing at the same time.”

“It’s too much, Tony. Things are too much right now as they are for me. There’s some nights that I don’t know what to do.” Tony knows by those words that Dale didn’t sleep either the night before. He was used to those nights, having had them a couple times each week. The nightmares, pain and fear was still there from the past. There was no way around it. They just dealt with it the best way possible. “I just think it’d be better this way. It’d give me some time to relax. I’d still come some weekends to be with you, though.” The last part cringed at Tony’s heart. Being away from Dale this weekend was enough for him. He didn’t want to be away from him ever again on a weekend. He wanted Dale to be there with him. He wanted things to be normal. “Tony?”

“I’m still here. Dale, I think you need to take some time to think about this and talk about it with Lindsay & Angelica. You can’t let yourself jump to decisions.”

“Then why aren’t you telling me about last night?” Tony freezes as he hears the words on the other end. He knew he’d go scream at Ryan before the day was done. “I know you didn’t slee-”

“I don’t need you worried and we’re not talking about me. We’re talking about you and your decision. Stop trying to change the topic. You’re trying to avoid it now because you don’t want to face your own decision.”

“That’s a load of bullshit, Stewart. Did you ever think that I worry about you as much as you worry about me? Have you forgotten what I told you in the garage?” Tony sighs as he thinks back to that night and the promise that he made right then and there. Everything would be fine if Ryan would’ve kept his mouth shut.

“I remember that night. You wouldn’t had been worried if Ryan would’ve kept quiet and I was fine after I talked to him. Now can we get back to your decision?” Tony bit his tongue as he heard silence on the other end. He knew that they didn’t like to fight with each other. “Dale?”

“How does it feel to be lied to? How does it feel for someone to say something that’s not true?” Tony thinks about Dale’s words, now confused.

“Excuse me? What are you saying? Did you lie to me?”

“I lied to you the same way that you’ve continued to lie to me about your emotions. You know how much I wanted to be there in a car this weekend and that I could do it while doing what had to be done.” Tony looks down, feeling guilt wash over him as he thinks about how his lies had affected Dale. As he felt the anger and hurt in being lied to, even with a simple lie, he knew that it had hurt. “Now that you know how I feel, let’s start fresh. I miss your face and your lips. I miss your body being close to mine.” Tony smiles as he hears those words.

“I miss you too. It’s not the same sleeping without you. I have no one to cuddle.”

“You could’ve called over Kevin.” Tony chokes on his own spit as he hears that, letting a slight laugh escape his mouth.

“You wouldn’t been jealous?”

“Not at all. I just would’ve chopped his balls off so he couldn’t do anything with you.” Tony then laughs even harder.

“Ouch. That’d hurt. Aren’t you worried about Delana killing you? Oh wait, nobody would hurt you. I’d protect you.”

“I know you would and that’s why I love you. but I’d also protect you from anyone who tried to hurt you.”

“So you’re going to be my knight now?”

“Of course. I’ll even wear the shining armor. God damn Tony, I miss you. I miss kissing your lips. I miss making you go crazy.”

“Then come see me.” Tony instantly freezes, covering his mouth as he couldn’t believe the words slipped out. “I mean…..I didn’t mean to say that. That should have never escaped my mouth.”

“Tony, it’s fine that it did. I know you miss me and I miss you. But you know that I have to be here for the girls.” Tony lets out a sigh as he knows no matter how much he wants Dale to be there with him that those words are the truth. “We’ll see each other Sunday night. I promise I will make the wait worth it.” Tony smiles at the thought.

“I promise to bring you home a trophy then. I love you. I miss you.”

“I miss you too.” Tony knows as he looks at the time that he has to head out.

“I have to cut you off. It’s time for practice and Steve will kill me if I’m late. I’ll call you tonight after dinner.”

“I look forward to your call. Good luck. Keep an eye on Kyle.” Tony rolls his eyes as he knows Kyle is in good hands with Ron. “I love you. Bye Smoke.”

“Bye Junebug.” Dale then hangs up the phone, sitting back on the couch as he glances over at Lindsay.

“He told me that he missed us and he’ll call tonight after dinner. He had to go for practice.” Lindsay shakes her head, understnaidng, before she kisses Dale’s lips.

“You shouldn’t had said what you said to him,” she starts as Dale rolls his eyes. He knew it was evil to play a stunt like he did but he had to teach Tony a lesson. “That wasn-”

“He had to know what it feels like so he knows how I feel. It was the only way to teach him that.” He then lays his head on her shoulder. “So are we in for a lazy day?”

“After last night, yes.” She then wraps her arm around him. “Do you want to talk about last night?” Dale shakes his head no as she rubs his arm. “You need to talk about it, Dale.”

“I’m not ready to talk about it. There’s nothing to talk about anyway. Can we just move on?”

Chapter 35: Final Practice
Tony glances up at the charts, satisfied. They had timed in sixth quickest overall. He then looks down the charts, surprised to see that Kyle was back in 21st.

“What happened to Larson?” He asks as he glances towards his crew chief Steve Addington.

“They couldn’t get the looseness out of the car,” Steve answers as Tony shakes his head. He was thinking that Kyle would’ve done better considering that he qualified pole.

“That’s never easy, rookie or not.” He then glances back towards the charts, noticing that Harrison also didn’t do quite well.

“If you’re wondering about Harrison, he was fighting tight in one end, loose in the other. Rookie is having a tough time learning.” Tony smiles as he notices that Steve read his mind already.

“It’s not an easy track. They’ll both figure it out tomorrow.”

“But behind us, right?” Tony shakes his head yes as he gives Steve a quick high five. “I’m glad you’re in a smiling mood. I was worried about you yesterday. Something tells me you spoke to someone this morning?” Tony’s smile fades as he thinks back to the conversation, and there were several elements that hit him the wrong way. “Uh oh, did I say the wrong thing?” Tony then sits down on a tire.

“Let’s just say the conversation didn’t go as smoothly as I would’ve hoped.” Steve then sits on the tire across from Tony.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Tony shakes his head no. “Tony…” Tony then looks up at Steve.

“It doesn’t concern you and I’d rather not tell anyone else right now.” He then looks away, knowing that came off a little harsher than he had intended. “He just said some things that caught me off-guard.” Tony then looks back at Steve. “He was a little upset about me lying to him so he had a way of teaching me that I was wrong.”

“Was it successful?” Tony shakes his head yes, as he thinks back to how he felt.

“I was angry, I was upset, I wanted to smack him, I wanted to cry – but I understood why he did it. He knew it would touch a cord with me and it did. It still stings.” Tony then looks back down as he takes a deep breath. “Then we made up and I told him that I missed him.”

“That’s probably no lie. I heard that Ryan came over last night?” Tony then looks up surprised. Now he wanted to know who else knew. “Ryan told me and he said that he told Dale, but only because he wanted us to know due to concern. You have to understand that we all care about you, Tony. That’s the only reason he told me. If you’re not getting a good night sleep, that’ll have an effect.” Steve then walks away as Tony watches him closely. “Maybe you should go take a nap now before the Nationwide Series race. It wouldn’t hurt.” Tony shrugs his shoulders as he stands up. It wasn’t a bad idea.

Steve smiled inside as he watched Tony head out of the garage stall, glad that Tony accepted the suggestion. He pulls out his phone, sending a quick text.

“Did you tell him?” Steve hears and turns to his side to see Ron standing there. He shakes his head no in response to the question. “I told you to tell him! Why didn’t you say something?” Steve smiles as he continues to watch Tony. “Ste-”

“I wanted to surprise him,” Steve simply answers before walking away. “It’ll be better that way.”

“You’re a smart man.” Ron then heads back down to his garage stall, knowing that he has to work out things for Kyle.

As he walks into the stall, he smiles when he sees his driver siting there going over notes. Ron sits across from him, looking at his own set of notes.

“Learn anything yet?” Ron asks and Kyle shakes his head as Ron goes over what he has in hand. He had his own notes from working with Kyle and Angelica, but notes from his days with Jimmie and Chad. “We’ll figure it out before Sunday.” Ron then shifts through the papers, letting out a sigh. “I have belief in you. We can do this.” Kyle shakes his head understanding, though feels his mind go to a different place. He then sets the papers down, thinking. He knew he had to get his mind straight before the weekend.

“How can do get the car figured out without another practice?” Kyle then wonders out loud as he takes a sip of his drink. The frustration was showing through. He then stands up and walks away as Ron looks up concerned.

“Ky-”

“I’m fine, Ron.” Ron takes a careful deep breath, knowing otherwise.

“We can get it figured out before tomorrow; it just takes finding that right set-up and we have enough notes that we can do that.” Ron then sets his notes down, standing up and going over to Kyle. “We’ve done it before, kid.” Kyle looks back over his shoulder at Ron.

“I know, but this seems like impossibility.” Ron shakes his head no, knowing otherwise.

“We have the pole, that’s a bonus. That’ll help because you’ll have clean air. As long as I can find something decent to start you off with, we can do this.”

“But can I do this without her here?” Kyle then feels a tear slip out and Ron knows exactly what Kyle means.

“You can, Kyle.” Kyle then wipes the tear away, trying to hold back the tears that he knows will follow.

“How?” He then turns around to face Ron and Ron can see the strain on his face. “I don’t know what I’d do without her, Ron.” Kyle then collapses in Ron’s arms as Ron wraps his arm around him. “I love her so much.”

“She’s going to be okay, Kyle. You have to believe that in your heart.” Ron then rubs Kyle’s back as he holds him while the teams continues to go about their business. After a while, Kyle stands back up and takes a Kleenex off the pit cart, rubbing the tears away. “Let’s get back to work and win this race for her.” Kyle shakes his head in agreement as they both go back over to where the notes are. They sit down and start sorting through them.

“Thank you for being here for me…” Ron shakes his head as he looks up.

“You don’t need to thank me. I care about and I care about her. I’m just being a friend.”

Meanwhile, Tony had made his way back to the motorcoach and unlocks the door. As he heads up the stairs, an instant smile forms on his face.

 

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