Come morning, Chase made sure to wake up before Sarina did, sneaking out of the bed quietly and hoping into the shower. After spending the majority of the night hearing her story and talking, he needed the couple of minutes to himself before she got up to put everything in perspective.
It certainly wasn’t the type of story that he expected. From name changes to her father’s death, she had certainly been through her fair share of events in just the first 21 years of her life. If you combine that with her mother’s death and the recovery period of her own injuries, she was certainly an inspiration. Chase admired her drive, fight, perseverance and ability to not give up despite going through the ultimate lows. He pushed himself to always never give up, but didn’t know if he’d able to do the same in her shoes.
The entire time, he felt himself sympathize even more towards her, falling deeper in love. He wanted to cuddle her day and night to erase the pain. He wanted to chase away any possible person that could be out there that she was afraid of.
It was that thought that caused him to go cold despite the water being on full hot blast that morning. She was afraid because there was always the chance of being found, and possible more revenge. It was certainly a slim chance, but that chance was there. It was why she didn’t want to open up to anyone, and why she wouldn’t allow herself to bring Chase further into her life. He could feel that by her response.
How do you make that fear go away? How do you make that never a possibility? He didn’t have the answers himself as he was still letting himself get used to everything that she had told him. However, he figured continuing to assure her that things were alright and she’d never be spotted would be enough. Be her safety blanket is how he put it in his mind.
Finishing up in the shower, he came out shortly thereafter and dried himself off, grabbing a pair of jeans and t-shirt to wear for the day. it felt weird being at the race track for a race without suiting up for later that afternoon. However, today he was there as a spectator. The goal was to take in as much as he could of the Cup race to be better prepared for next year. That goal had changed a little with Sarina being there, though, as he promised to show her a good time.
He emerges from the bedsroom, going into the small kitchen in the motorcoach and starting up some breakfast. He wasn’t any master chef yet, but was figuring out some quick meals to make himself as he needed them. He figured a quick meal of toast, bacon and eggs would work for the morning.
As he is just about finished cooking breakfast, he hears a knock on the door. He glances towards it, curious as to whom it was. Turning the bacon off, he walks over to the door and opens it.
“Hey mom!” He lets out with a smile on his face – he couldn’t help but smile when he saw his mother.
“Hey Chase,” she replies, giving him a hug and a kiss. She then follows him back up inside the motorcoach as she watches him get a pair of plates out of the cupboard. “Dad thought it’d be a good idea to offer for you to come to breakfast with us, but I see you’ve taken care of yourself.”
“I’m learning how to cook, and I thought it’d be a nice gesture for Sarina.” Her name slid from his lips slowly in realization that his mother was sitting in his motorcoach while Sarina laid in his bed sleeping right now. This certainly was the way that he had pictured introducing her to his parents, especially since they weren’t even dating.
“As in Sarina Ott? I heard that she had joined you this weekend.” Chase simply smiles in response as he busies himself with getting the food, debating what explanation to give his mom. It would be nice to have someone to voice his concerns to about the discussion that he had with Sarina. However, it’d also be breaking her trust in sharing her story with someone else. Beyond that, the whole situation just felt awkward now as they weren’t even dating.
“I thought it’d be a good idea to let her see what it was like to experience a NASCAR weekend.” Chase figured if he stuck to simply answering his mom’s questions, perhaps she’d leave before Sarina emerged from the bedsroom. Perhaps she’d think that Sarina slept somewhere close by and was coming over for breakfast. “She had a lot of fun yesterday, so I invited her for breakfa-”
“Chase, stop lying to me and tell me the truth!” Cindy could see right through his rambles to hide things from her. He then lets out a sigh as he leans back against the corner. This was going to be interesting.
“I didn’t lie – I thought it’d be a good idea for her to have a NASCAR weekend. We’ve been talking more and it felt like a nice gesture. She also had fun yesterday. Following the race, I invited her back here to watch movies and hang out.” Cindy immediately feels her blood rising as she rolls her eyes. She had specifically taught him about not doing this.
“It’s not what you think, Mama.” She then looks at him surprised as he lets out a sigh. “After watching some movies, we debated where we would be comfortable for the night. We finally agreed – after a lot of heavy debate – to sleep together in my bed. No body contact – just beside her. That’s why she’s still in my bed.” He didn’t want to divulge that they had spent the better half of the night discussing her past as that’d just peak his mom’s curiosity, and he wasn’t ready to answer that question yet.
“Mama, I swear – I didn’t do anything that I’m not supposed to!” She then watches him closely as he continues getting breakfast set-up at the small island table for him and Sarina. As much as she was set to yell at him, she felt herself relax with a glance into his eyes. She could trust her son as he knew to trust his own judgment, and that included decisions in the bedsroom. She actually found herself smiling at his mature approach, compared to other stories that she had heard from around the garage about young drivers.
“Good morning Chas…Cindy!” A new voice chimes into the conversation as both Elliotts look towards the source, seeing Sarina standing there wearing Chase’s t-shirt and a pair of shorts with a look of pure shock on her eyes. “I…I didn’t know you’d be here….” Sarina’s eyes immediately cut to Chase’s, with a touch of shock and perhaps even betrayal.
How could his mom be here? What was his mom going to think now? This broke every piece of logic, and defied why she hadn’t wanted to stay originally.
She wasn’t ready for this….yet.
“Hey Sarina,” Cindy says in a calmly matter as she glances between the pair, finally resting her eyes on Sarina. “It’s nice to see you. I haven’t seen you in a long time. How have you been keeping?” Sarina wanted to remain calm as it seemed nobody was freaking out by her appearance before them. However, this whole thing felt awkward.
“I’ve been doing great, Mrs. Elliott,” Sarina replies. “Been keeping busy racing and trying to do the best that I can. I thought I’d take a little break and have a bit of fun this weekend at the track.” Cindy smiles and with one more glance towards Chase, believing what he had told her earlier that morning.
“I heard that Chase welcomed you to come han-”
“It’s nothing like you’re thinking. I can promise you that.” Cindy then chuckles.
“It’s okay, Chase explained everything. I know nothing happened and you guys just hung out as friends. You can relax.” Sarina then lets out a sigh as she takes a seat at the small kitchen table. Perhaps this wasn’t as bad as she thought.
“It just caught me off-guard to see you here when I came out. I thought I was going to be in big trouble.” Cindy then laughs and shakes her head no.
“I know that Chase can behave himself. I raised him, right?” Sarina shakes her had yes with a smile. “Besides, it’s nice to see you get out and have some fun. You always seem to be working way too hard. A little break once in awhile doesn’t hurt.”
“Hence why I accepted the offer and am having a fun time thus far this weekend.”
“I’m glad to hear it.” Cindy then stands up and gives Chase a quick hug. “I’ll see you later. I better go so your dad and I can get breakfast.”
“Bye mom,” Chase says as he watches her leave. He watches the door close before walking over and placing a plate before Sarina. “I made you breakfast.” Sarina simply smiles in return.
“Thanks,” she says as he returns to grab his plate. He then sits across from her.
“I’m sorry about that surprise from my mom. Most times, she leaves after the XFINITY race. I guess with the race at Berlin on Tuesday, she didn’t follow normal plan. She likes to check in on me and make sure that I got breakfast and such.”
“In other words, she knows that her baby can’t cook?” Chase laughs and shakes his head yes. “As long as she doesn’t think we slept together or are together, I’m fine with that.” Chase felt a bit of pain in his heart at the last words. They had a close night of discussion. She had told him everything that meant dearly to her. Why wouldn’t she totally open up for him? “Did I say something wrong?”
“No, not at all.” She then lets out a sigh as she puts her fork down, knowing better.
“Chase….” He then glances up from his plate, feeling nervous in speaking his mind. He didn’t want to chase her away.
“It just pains me that you don’t want to fully open up to me. You tell me your deepest secrets and you tell me that you trust me. You tell me that we have a great friendship. But yet, here are once again and you won’t fully accept a relationship. Is it wrong for me to admit that hurts?” Sarina glances down at her plate as she shakes her head no.
“I want to open up. I have those feelings for you and am willing to admit them in return. However, I’m scared. I’m scared of being found and putting you dan-”
“I told you that everything didn’t change a thin-”
“I’m scared of losing you. I’m scared of feeling heartbroken and lost and lonely, again. I’m afraid to fall too deeply and lose you.” She then takes a deep breath as she looks back up into his eyes. “That’s why I asked you last night to give me time. That’s why I accepted your offer to simply be friends and to go slowly from there. If something happens, it happens. If I can allow myself to open up, then it will be what it will be. But, please, don’t push me or else it’ll just drive me further away.” Chase shakes his head, accepting.
“I understand. Like I said, it hurts that we can’t go there immediately – but I understand.” She then smiles as she gives him a quick pat on the hand before returning to her breakfast.
“This tastes good, by the way. You’re not such a bad cook – at least when it comes to eggs and bacon.” He then smiles, taking a bite of the bacon for himself.
Despite the day getting off to a rough start, the rest of the day was fun together. Chase hung out with her on pit road for part of the race, while spending another part of the race up in the VIP section together. It proved to be a fun day for the pair of them as she got to experience the ins and outs of racing, while he got to spend time with her as he wanted.
He hated that they couldn’t jump to a relationship despite having something there with her trusting him, but being able to have fun and hang out was something he wasn’t going to let go of. Perhaps doing this more and more would slowly lead to what he wanted.
With the weekend at Michigan complete, the pair focused their attention to the race at Berlin. Monday was full of practice, while Tuesday was set for qualifying and the race.
After a successful day on Monday, Chase was poised to have a strong qualifying effort on Tuesday. Leaning back against his car, he watched as each car headed on to the track.
“Keep an eye on a familiar car?” He hears and rolls his eyes as he watches Ryan walk over. He had thought that Ryan would’ve headed home after the Cup race.
“What are you still doing in the area?” Chase questions as Ryan leans back against the car beside him.
“I figured I’d stick around and take in what should be a great late model race. Besides, you could use someone to cheer for you.” Chase rolls his eyes as he glances at the stop watching, checking to see how the latest driver had done. “So, I ask you once again – keeping an eye on a familiar car?”
“We may have talked a little each day about things and have really been developing a great friendship, but nothing else. I’m staying focused on my own race tonight.” Ryan could only laugh as he knew otherwise, seeing Chase’s glances every now and then down pit road in the direction of Sarina’s late model.
“So, you guys aren’t dating yet? I figured that’d be happening after the weekend you spent together.” Chase could only let out a sigh. Everybody had been bugging him since Saturday with thoughts of the pair dating. However, that wasn’t case due to her reservations. It’s not like he could admit openly the real reasons either as he didn’t want to break her trust.
“She’s not ready to go out yet. She wants me to give her some time before we think about taking that step. We’re just friends, okay?” Ryan shakes his head without another word. He just hoped that his friend was being smart with things.
“Chase, you’re up in five!” Ricky Turner’s voice gets Chase’s attention. Chase simply gives the crew chief a high-five as he hands over the stop watch to one of the crew guys.
“Time to go to work and see what this car has for tonight,” he states as he checks his shoes before climbing into the car.
“Good luck,” Ryan simply says as he goes to walk away when Chase grabs his arm.
“Don’t go bugging her. Tonight’s race means a lot to her. She doesn’t need anyone messing with her.” Ryan shook his head before walking away as Chase let out a sigh.
The reason he didn’t want Ryan bugging her had nothing to do with the race, but rather Sarina’s own nerves. Returning back to Michigan for the weekend and now racing in front of all the eyes at the track had brought a sense of nerves to her. What if someone recognized her? What ifs someone realized that she wasn’t just Sarina Ott, but Chelsy Dryer, the daughter of the officer?
Sarina had confided to Chase with those details the day before, stating that she was going to be extra careful throughout the weekend and head out of town as soon as the race was over. Chase had simply shook his head understanding, offering her a flight home while their crews worried about getting their cars back. It was an offer that she appreciated, but had chosen not to accept as she wanted to stay close to her team and car.
Though as he pulled the straps over his shoulders and buckled in, he couldn’t let that conversation surround his mind anymore. He had to focus on the next two laps on track so he could start as strongly as possible, followed by focusing on the race later that night.
For the rest of the day, Chase focused on his own game plan – as he intended. He managed to qualify well and had the car that he wanted at the beginning stages of the race. However, as the race drew on, the handling would begin to fade away, causing him to fall from leading the race to a fourth place finish.
“Nice job,” Ryan comments with a high-five as Chase leans back against the car after a couple of interviews.
“Just went a little too far on those adjustments but she was a rocket,” Chase says as he glances over the final results. To him, it didn’t matter that Erik Jones had taken a back-up car and won the event. It also didn’t matter to him that John Hunter Nemechek had finished just a nose ahead of him for third.
“She got caught up in the crash at lap 185 when Lauren Bush spun while running second.” Chase could only shake his head as he found Sarina’s name near the bottom of the rundown. He hated to see her have more bad luck, especially after working hard to have the car ready for the weekend.
“How much damage?” Ryan recalled back to the crash, remembering the 12 cars piled together in turns one and two.
“I’d say a whole front clip, honestly.” Chase felt as if his gut had been punched in hearing that detail. He also knew that meant that she was probably already on the road back home.
Later that night as he left the track, he quickly sent her a text in feeling bad about her luck, offering to help in repairs and hoping it turned around soon. She responded back later on that night in saying that she didn’t need the help, but appreciated the text.
As Chase put his phone up for the night and got set for bed, he could only hope that things continued progressing as well as they had that weekend.