Chapter 31: Home Sweet Home
After a long weekend in Daytona, the pair walk into the front of the house, slip their shoes off and head upstairs for the bedsroom.
“Sorry the weekend didn’t pan out as you wanted,” Dale says as they walk inside the room.
“It’s not your fault,” she replies. “You can’t help shitty deals on track and it wasn’t you that started the bullshit.” She grabs a pajama shirt out of her bag along with a pair of pants. “I’m going to grab a shower, okay?” Dale shakes his head yes as she heads off for the bathroom.
She walks into the bathroom and slips out of her clothes, before turning to the shower and turning on the hot water. She steps in and lets the water run down her body as he thinks over the happenings of the weekend.
She wasn’t surprised that she was recognized as she expected that to happen. It was why she didn’t want to go in the first place. Why did she trust him? Why did she still go? She, however, was surprised that it was Heather that spotted her. She never pinned Heather as being a racing fan and going to the race track. Why was she there?
She knew it was only a matter of time as news spread about her being with Dale and people came her way. She didn’t want to leave his side and run away, but her mind knew that there was no choice if people started finding her. As Tony Jr. so kindly put it, it wasn’t fair or her to put Dale’s life in jeopardy for her own mistakes.
Climbing out of the shower, she felt that her mind was set in what she’d do. She didn’t want to leave and head home totally, but she’d cut ties with Dale so that way he wasn’t in harms way. She’d keep to herself and her job – maybe a new job – and hope that things panned out well.
She walks into the bedsroom and glances towards him, knowing that it’d be difficult to say her decision and fight for the reasons that she believed. Losing the gap that lied between them, even trying to say the words became more difficult as her love for him grew in her heart. How could he simply wrap her heart up and capture it so easily?
She climbs into the bed, slipping under the cover, turning her eyes to the television. He was watching a movie – Cast Away – which was no problem with her as she enjoyed the movie also.
“I’m sorry the weekend didn’t go as planned,” she starts catching a glance from him. “And I’m sorry that I made things tense between you and Tony. That’s not fair to either of you.”
“Lindsay, you don’t have to wor-” Dale starts as she looks over at him.
“Don’t give me that crap.”
“Well then don’t say crap. He had no place to say something like that to you whether he agrees with us dating or not. If he has that opinion, it should be kept to himself or just to me directly. I don’t want you making excuses for his behavior.” She then looks down at the blankets.
“But it’s my fault.” He shakes his head no as he scoots closer to her and wraps both arms around her.
“Absolutely not. You didn’t choose your life. You didn’t choose to be attacked that night. You’re only at fault for your choices – not what happens out of your control. As a person yourself, you haven’t made any bad choices so you have nothing to feel bad about.”
“What about your cousin?” Dale rolls his eyes.
“Screw him. He’s worried about me – as he always is – and he’s overreacting, as normal. Just ignore it and ignore what he has to say and once he sees the beautiful woman that you are, he will come around.” She then looks up at his eyes, a bit of hope filling her.
“Really?” Dale shakes his head yes.
“And if he doesn’t, I don’t care. His opinion doesn’t matter as this is my life and I have made the choice to trust you and be with you no matter what. I accepted it when you told me, just like you accepted my daughter and the decisions that I’ve made with regards to her. We’ve both made mistakes but together, this is our second chance at love. Let’s make it count.” She then smiles as she kisses his lips lightly.
“Thank you. You’re amazing.” He then kisses her back lightly.
Chapter 32: Parents
On Monday morning, the pair walk into the shop and head to Dale’s office.
“Lindsay!” Tony Jr. yells as the pair walk by him and immediately Lindsay rolls her eyes.
“Ton-” Dale goes to start as he looks over at his cousin.
“I’m not calling her name to say something rude so shush your flap!” Tony Jr. then walks over as Dale looks between Lindsay and Tony confused. “There’s someone here who says that they want to see you and has an important reason.”
“What have we said about people who stop by the shop and say som-” Tony Jr. then glances at Dale.
“It isn’t one of those cases.”
“Who is here to see me?” Lindsay asks confused.
“Does the name George Carter ring a bell?” Tony Jr. wonders as Lindsay shivers a little, causing a concerned glance from Dale.
“You recognize the name?” Dale asks and Lindsay slowly shakes her head yes. “Who is he?”
“It’s her father. Your mom is also here, as well. Once they showed me proof of who they are and relation to you, I escorted them up to the conference room and said that you’d be in shortly. I guess word spread about things, huh?”
“Tony!” Tony Jr. then throws his arms up in his defense as he starts to walk away.
“Guess I better face the music,” Lindsay states quietly before beginning to make her way up the stairs. She heads down the hallway, taking a deep breath, before opening the door. Immediately her parents both look her way surprised to see her as she makes her way down the table and slowly sits down.
Nerves began to set in as she knew that neither – especially her father – who have good things to say to her with what has happened. From the events that day to her running away, she hadn’t done anything that would make her parents proud of her actions.
She also was concerned about what they’d have to say about Dale and the love that she had for him. She hoped that went over well as she knew that they’d want to see their daughter happy….right?
“Leighanne, it is so nice to see you sweetheart,” her mom starts. Lindsay knew that she didn’t need to worry about her mom as much as her dad, but still felt some tinge of worry.
“I’ve been looking forward to seeing you since you were released,” her father adds as Lindsay rolls her eyes. What good could come of those intentions?
“Heather came and told us that she saw you in Daytona with a man – some racecar driver named Dale. We both knew that we had to come and see you.”
“So you could drag my ass back home?” Lindsay questions, surprising her mother.
“My dear, we both love you and want to keep the family together,” her mom starts. “Don’t you want that?” Lindsay rolls her eyes.
“Why do you think I moved down here and changed my name, mom? I don’t want to be at home.”
“Oh dear! How come? Please tell us why.” Lindsay takes a deep breath, waiting for her dad’s yelling to begin.
“I don’t want to be involved in dad’s business operations or associated with the family at all. I hate everything that daddy and you are up to and I don’t want to be that ‘mob princess’ so I ran away to have the life that I want.”
“How dare you be so mean in your comments about your family,” her father states as Lindsay shakes her head in disbelief. “You have no respect at all.”
“Your father is right as I thought we both taught you the meaning of respect in what we’re doing,” her mom starts calmly as Lindsay laughs. “Leighanne!”
“Leighanne Carter, I demand that you change your name back and come home instantly. I am not allowing you to play this game of pretend! You are my daughter, my principessa. You need to be home with your family. You need to be doing what you know best. To say that I am wrong in what I do is so disrespectful. If you would’ve listened to me, you never would’ve been hurt that night!”
“It was your fault that you went to see those men and thought they loved you. You got what you deserved and trying to run from that is wrong.” Lindsay then stands up and her jaw immediately drops as she hears the words that her parents have to say.
“You disappoint me, Leighanne, by not listening to me and not adhering to your destiny. The only reason I allowed Mary to have a daughter is so I could make her my principessa. Why do you have to be so unhearing?”
“Because I hate every part of this mob lifestyle that you have!” Lindsay then yells, louder than intended.
“Leighanne, do not yell at your father!” Her mom yells back at her before slapping her across the face. “What has happened to you? Where is my sweet daughter?”
“Disappeared with her parents’ non sweet illegal act-” Her mother cuts her words off with another slap as the conference door opens.
“Who are you?” George asks as Dale walks in and wraps an arm around Lindsay.
“My name is Dale,” Dale answers as he pulls Lindsay close to him. “I can’t believe either of you. To commit whatever illegal actions is one thing, but to sit here and treat your daughter like this is another. She doesn’t want to be involved in the crimes that you may commit and I don’t blame her. For you to blame her for what happened to her and then slap her like you did-” Dale then looks towards Lindsay’s mom. “-is highly disrespectful and not right. I’m sorry but I can’t stand back and let it happen any longer. Either of you both smarten your actions up or else I am having you led out of here by security with potential of being arrested.”
“Dale, you don’t have to do this…” Lindsay starts as Dale kisses the top of her head.
“Yes I do because you don’t deserve this. I fully
understand why you ran like you did and don’t blame you one bit after what I’ve just seen.”
“I understand, but this is between my parents and I – not you also.”
“I’m not going to stand back and let them treat you like they were. I love you.”
“Do you truly love my daughter as much as you say?” Mary then speaks up, causing Dale to look over at her. He shakes his head yes.
“I love her more than I could love any other woman ever,” Dale replies as Mary smiles.
“Being in love and finding that special person is something really and truly remarkable as it takes a lot of work to find a person to be with and share your life with. If you are happy here, I am not going to force you to come home. However, I do ask that you respect your father in a better matter.”
“Then perhaps her father could respect her wishes rather than acting like he was.” Dale then looks towards Lindsay’s father as he keeps her held close.
“Lindsay, è deluso di me,” her father starts. “Non aspettarti che io salverò o mai ti aiuti se sei nei guai di nuovo. Si meritava quello che è successo a voi per voi rinnegaste tuo padre allora e continua a farlo.” Dale then looks between them confused as he glances towards Lindsay.
“What’d he say?” Dale asks as Lindsay takes a deep breath.
“You don’t want to know,” she answers before turning to her father. “Le vostre azioni mi deludono proprio come le mie azioni si deludono. Per voi per augurare del male a tua figlia e dire che meritava di essere violentata, fottiti! Fottiti! Andare salto in un cassonetto dove artisti del calibro di voi appartengono!”
“What did you just say?” Lindsay smiles as her father lets out an aggravated sigh before storming out of the room.
“He told me that he was disappointed me, I deserved to be harmed and I better not look for him to take care of me in the future. In response, I told him that he disappoints me, to fuck off and go live in a dumpster where he belongs.”
“Wow!” Dale didn’t know what surprised him more – her father saying that she deserved to be raped, or the fact that she told him to screw off.
“You are very rude in telling your father to do that,” her mother states.
“Just as he says that she deserved to be raped?” Dale questions.
“I love you mother and I respect you – however, I can’t stand daddy when he says things like that,” Lindsay explains as she walks over to her mom. “I will always love you both. However, I want you to respect my decision. If you respect my decision, I have nothing to say. But when father says that, I can’t be respectful any longer.”
“I understand but you’re still a little out of line,” her mother states and Lindsay shakes her head no.
“Leave, mom. You have my phone number. Feel free to stay in touch that way and tell daddy to not bother with a single phone call. Goodbye and ti amo.” Her mother slowly leaves the room and heads out as Lindsay turns to face Dale. She wondered what was going through his mind as he listened what transpired, though also found her thoughts back to when she was a teen.
Chapter 33: Aftermath
Without a single word, Dale instantly pulls her close and holds her, rubbing her back. He had no clue what emotions were going through her mind, but he imagined that there was probably a lot of heart break as a result of what had just taken place.
“At least mommy still loves me, right?” She states after a bit as she looks into his blue eyes.
“No matter what your father says, he still loves you deep down,” he tells her as she lets out a laugh.
“Oh really? Then what father says that he’s glad that his daughter was hurt by someone?” She then lets out a sigh as she takes a couple steps away, taking a deep breath. She couldn’t even believe for a second what had slipped from her father’s mouth only moments ago, nor could she believe that the thought of her father loving her was true. She felt no love at all in the span of time that he was in that room and wished that she never saw him ever again. “I’m sorry that you had to see that.”
“It’s fine. It doesn’t change what I think about you and how much I love you. It just allows me to understand you more and be there for you each step of the way, if you let me.” She then turns back to face him.
“Nothing my parents could say could change how I feel about you as I know in my heart what I am doing here is right and that I love you.”
“Well I love you right back and to the moon.” She then laughs as she walks over to him.
“I love you to the stars and beyond.”
“Well then I love you beyond the milky way.”
“Milky way….mmmm…..that makes me hungry for a milkshake. What do you say we forget about what happened and go get a milkshake together? We can get back to us.” She then heads towards the door, though notices that Dale hasn’t moved an inch. She then looks back, curious.
“You’re avoiding the topic at hand.” She then looks down as he caught her right in the moment.
“So what if I am? I don’t want to deal with it.” He then walks over to her.
“How are you going to move forward if you don’t deal with it?” She then looks into his blue eyes.
“Simple. By focusing on the positives that I have in my life now and not worrying about my past.” He then runs a hand through her hair.
“And what happens when you can’t sleep at night due to the thoughts that cross your mind? What happens when it hits you full force and you can’t handle it?” He then wipes a piece of hair away from her eyes. “You’ve made me face every thought that has crossed my mind and for that, it has helped me tremendously. Now that goes both ways. Let me help you.”
“You’re already doing that by being here with me and showing me that true love is possible without boundaries.” He then kisses her lips lightly.
“Without boundaries, huh? But yet the past still lies there beneath your eyes.” He then takes her hand into his, knowing that he has to be careful in his next set of words. “There’s certainly a lot going through your mind with what happened then and with what happened today. I know you got to be thinking about a lot of things when it comes to home, your parents and what happened. You need to let those go. You can’t let it stay buried up inside. It’s not good for you.” She then looks down before returning her gaze back to his.
“I know it’s not – but it’s how I choose to handle this. I can’t say much more about my parents. I te amo my mom dearly – she’s awesome and I care about her. I bless her heart for understanding what I am doing and certainly will keep in contact with her.” He then leads Lindsay back to the chairs in the room.
“But yet your father…..” She then looks away with a sigh. “Lindsay….”
“I could care less about him after what he said, okay? That was no way to speak to me or instruct me to behave or wish harm on me. He has no idea how much pain I went through that day and how much it hurt me. He has no idea how I felt and I wish that I could make him feel the same pain so he’d never speak those words again.” Dale keeps a firm grasp on her hand, totally understanding the feelings as he was set to take a shot at her dad if he didn’t adhere to the advice instructed. “But somehow, I still love and care about him.”
“And somewhere, somehow, he still loves and cares about you. Perhaps one day you will both find an understanding. Till then, maybe it’s best that you both don’t talk so therefore you don’t drive each other crazy. Maybe in a couple months, he’ll come to his senses.” Dale then slowly lets go of her hand. “Anything else on that sweet mind of yours?” She shakes her head no as he wraps both arms around her. “That’s fine. This is certainly better than saying nothing. I love you and know that I am always here to listen to you.”
“Thank you. I appreciate it.” He then looks into her eyes with a smile.
“Still want that milkshake?” She shakes her head yes as he leads her out of the office. “I know the perfect place to go for these killer chocolate milkshakes.”
“I can’t wait to go there. It’s probably just as perfect as everything so far with us together.”
Chapter 34: Parents
In the month that followed, she listened to Dale’s advice as she kept in contact with her mom, while avoiding her father. The conversations were great with her mother as it was nice to be back in contact once again and able to share the happenings of each of their lives.
Though with the conversations, you could tell that there was a tinge of sadness in no response or understanding from her father. It bugged her and Dale noticed it. He hated to see her saddened by it and kept trying to comfort her with words as it’ll work out in the future and not to worry. However, it didn’t seem to have an effect.
Seeing the emotions that it played on Lindsay, he knew that he had to do something himself.
He had jotted down the phone number for her house the night prior, and sitting in his office with the door closed, he dialed it.
“Hello?” He heard George’s voice on the other end as he took a deep breath.
“Hello,” he starts calmly. “It’s Dale Jr. calling. Listen, can we talk please?”
“Why should we talk? Did something happen to my daughter?”
“No, your daughter is perfectly fine. Actually, things are great right now for Lindsay…Leighanne as you call her. We’re perfectly fine in love as a couple and she’s got no issues with work right now. I think being able to talk with her mom has helped. I’m actually calling to talk to you, truthfully. Do you realize how much it bugs a child when they don’t feel that love they want from their father?”
“I do understand. I grew up without a father because he was killed when I was eight years old. I know the feeling so do not play emotional games on me, Mr. Earnhardt. Whether Leighanne is sad without a relationship or not, it doesn’t bother me. She knows how to fix that. She knows where she belongs. She knows where home is.” Dale leans back in the chair, thinking over George’s words.
“Are you ashamed that she didn’t follow your footsteps, or are you more ashamed that she ran away from home?”
“Answer the question. It seems that you’re not agreeing with your daughter’s decision to move south. So is it because of now following your word, or because she left town all together?” Dale hears a sigh at the other end as a smile comes to his face.
“How would you feel if your baby girl ran away from you? How would you feel if she didn’t want to be near you? It’s not a comfortable feeling and certainly something that I wasn’t ready for. Do you know what it’s like to lose your child when she’s only a teenager?” Dale thinks over his words to say in return.
“I know the feeling of losing your child when she’s a toddler and holding that regret that you’re not there for her. Thankfully, I made good on that. I understand your sadness and being hurt as a result. Now does that give you the right to stand in front of her and tell her that she got what she deserved that night?” He hears a sigh and knows that he’s certainly breaking through.
“No, of course not. I thought tough love was the trick.”
“That wasn’t no tough love, my friend. That was extreme wrong behavior that shocked the crap out of me. You do realize that she does miss you, right?”
“Of course. I miss her as well, as you now know.”
“Maybe you should give her a call and talk to her.”
“How can I do that after what I said?”
“Simple. You can call her, apologize and explain your feelings. Knowing the sweet girl that she is and how she misses you, she’ll probably forgive you. Then you can start at building a good relationship.”
“Okay. I think I may do that. Thank you. I appreciate your call. Why did you call, anyway?” Dale smiles.
“Because I care about your daughter. I love your daughter so much. I just want to see her happy. If this helps, then it’s worth it.”
Chapter 35: George’s Visit
Following the phone call, George got a flight to Charlotte as he wanted to go follow Dale’s advice, but take it one step forward and do it in person. He bought some flowers and headed over to the merchandise store where he knew that she was working.
“Is there a sweet red headed girl that I could see?” He speaks, catching Lindsay’s attention. She turns around and looks at her father, surprise written over her face as she looks over him. “I’m sorry.”
“Honestly?” Lindsay questions, unsure whether to believe him or not. Her father shakes his head yes as he hands the flower over to her. She then motions for him to follow as they head into the back stockroom. “So this is your apology? This is you saying that you accept my decision?” Her father shakes his head yes as Lindsay leans against a wall. “This is your way of saying that you accept that I don’t want to follow your lifestyle and I want to be here in North Carolina?”
“Absolutely and that I give you and Dale my blessing. If you’re happy, then I am happy for you. I was so wrong to try and tell you exactly what to do and also be like I was to you after what happened.” He then slowly closes the gap between them. “I’m sorry, Leighanne.” She then looks down, thinking over his words. Determining that he was telling the truth, she looks back up with a smile on her face and pulls him close for a hug. “Te amo.” She then kisses his cheek before pulling back.
“So does this mean that I’m going to get to talk to you a lot? Does this mean that you’ll be coming to visit?”
“Absolutely. I hated not being able to see you for a long time.”
“I hate it also as I couldn’t ever stop loving you no matter what. There was always a part of me that wished we could work it out.”
“You know that I’ll always be daddy’s little girl – but for now, I have work to do.” She then picks up a box and heads back out to the store with her father in toe. “If I don’t do this, Shelly is liable to kick my ass.” Shelly then peeks over from the counter and laughs as Lindsay stocks the shelves.
“Girl, I can’t kick your butt as Dale would kick mine,” Shelly comments as Lindsay laughs. It did feel a little odd working her future cousin, but she loved it. It was easy to tell why everybody was close.
“I won’t keep you then,” her father starts. “Dinner tonight?” Lindsay shakes her head yes.
“Oh hell, leave now and get re-accustomed together!”
“Are you sure?” Lindsay questions and Shelly shakes her head yes. “Okay. If you need me, though, call me.” Lindsay then finishes the box before grabbing her things and heading out with her father.
As they spent the afternoon catching up, she couldn’t deny how good it felt. It was nice to have her life together the way she wanted it and have the relationship with her father that she cherished.
Chapter 36: New Beginnings
January 1, 2008
“Can you believe that it’s the new year?” Lindsay asks as her and Dale lay out on the back porch of his house together under the stars. “Can you believe that it’s officially 2008 and here we lay together? Everything…..what happened….has led us to this.” Dale grins and shakes his head no as he still couldn’t believe how well things were working out with her.
They had continued to get to know each other and had grown a special connection that nobody could break. They had gained Tony Jr.’s trust with each week that passed and he finally believed that Lindsay’s intentions were real.
While she was noticed that one time, it all didn’t grow into anything as her father was able to hold off all people who were even set to try anything. Beyond that, she now had the relationship with her parents that she truly wanted and craved for the years that had passed. They were back talking about everything.
In short, Lindsay had found her Cinderella story.
“I still can’t believe how well it has worked out….and how close we’ve grown,” Dale comments, before leaning in and kissing her lips. She wraps an arm around him, deepening the kiss.
“Dale….” She lets out as she pulls back for a quick moment. “I love you.” He runs a hand underneath the back of her shirt, keeping her held close, feeling her soft skin against his hand. They had still avoided having ‘sex’ together as he wanted to go by the rule of waiting till she was ready following what had happened to her before.
Though feeling that the time was right, he slowly slid her shirt up and over her head. She then followed suit with his shirt, not saying any words, scared that she’d spoil the moment herself. Her body craved him, she wanted him – but she also felt a tinge of worry in the form of memories.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to. However, if you do, I will continue because I want you badly. I need you badly.”
“I need you…I’m just scared. Be slow and careful…” He shakes his head understanding as she reaches for the button on his jeans, undoing it. She then slides them off slowly, biting her lip the whole time in nerves. “God you’re sexy….”
“Baby, you’re just as sexy too.”
“Not as hot as you.” He then grins as he slides her skirt down, slowly, not wanting to startle her. “I know I’m ready now.”
“You don’t have to put on a brave face if you’re not. I’ll love you no matter what.”
“No – I’m truly ready, Dale.”
“Okay.” She then reaches over, sliding his boxers off as he slips her underwear off. With their eyes locked together, she knew that she could trust him. She knew that they were truly meant to be together as he slipped himself inside of her, slowly. She could tell in his movements that he was there to take care of her, and that gave her relief to her fears. The past could be forgotten and let go. The pain was to be left behind. She had her man and that’s all that mattered.
“God baby yes…..oh yess….that’s it…”