The Bruises – Chapters 16 Thru 20

thebruises

Chapter 16: My Visit

Dale Jr.’s House – Monday following Indianapolis

Jeff knocked on the door, knowing that he was home. Dale had been at Hendrick Motorsports earlier that morning for the team meeting. It was there that he heard that he was going home after lunch. He also overheard Dale telling Jimmie and Kasey that Lindsay and Angelica were bonding well and that they were going out for a girl’s day. Wouldn’t this make it the perfect opportunity?

Dale opened the door, surprised to see Jeff standing there on the other side. With having no contact with him the past two weeks – except when work forced them together, they had not talked to each other at all. Dale thought that Jeff was listening to Tony’s threat without problems and that things would get back to the way they used to be.

“What are you doing here?” Dale asked, already curious to Jeff’s motives.

“I came to talk to you about something,” Jeff started off lightly, knowing that he would get to the topic on mind shortly. “Actually, I came to talk to you about someone. Does Tony Stewart ring a bell?” Dale looked down, knowing that what Tony had done had crossed the line. He knew that Jeff deserved something in return for what he had done, but he also knew the risk that was involved in what had happened.

“Listen, I had nothing to do with that.” Jeff then put his hands on Dale’s shoulders, knowing otherwise.

“He’s only doing it because of what I did to you and the fact that he’s playing the role of bodyguard. Now, you’re going to do something for me so that way he stops what he’s doing. I am not leaving until you text or call him and convince him to leave my ass alone. See, he better do that or else I will have something in mind for you and that lovely daughter of yours. It’s kind of a strange that way. Tony’s threat does lay on my mind, but it’s honestly not enough to stop me.” Dale looked down, nerves building in hearing Jeff’s words as fear was coming to the surface. What was Jeff planning on doing if Dale didn’t listen to him?

“Fine – I’ll see if I can make him stop.” Jeff then smiled as he watched Dale pull out his cell from his pocket.

“That’s a good boy.”

Hey. Are you busy?

No. What is it?

I was thinking. Appreciate what you’re doing to Jeff, but I think you should end it.

Why?

Don’t need you getting in trouble with NASCAR or anybody. Plus, the guys at the shop are pretty mad.

I hear ya. I just wanted to show him the pain you went through. At your request, I’ll stop.

Sounds good. See you later this week.

“Happy?” Dale then asked Jeff as he showed him the text messages.

“Thank you cutie,” Jeff answered as he shot a smile at Dale. He watched Dale put his phone back in his pocket, watching his moves carefully. The words see ya later this week and “bodyguard” were the only words that Jeff could think about as he watched his ex-lover move about in front of him. Was Tony the new flirt in town? “So how close are you with Smoke?”

“Just friends and if you’re wondering, no, we aren’t sleeping together. He’s just been here comforting me.” Dale knew that lying to Jeff was impossible so he had to let out the truth in Tony being his comforting rock. The entire statement was no lie, though. The only night they had slept together was that one night back at the beginning of July. Since then, they’d just been the close friends that they’d always been.

“Have you thought about sleeping with him? You can’t lie to me and say that hasn’t crossed your mind. We all know how you think, espically me. Now are you going to tell me a lie?”

“I’ve thought about it, okay?” Dale’s words flipped a trigger of instant jealousy on Jeff as Jeff pushed him inside, closing the door behind him. “I thought we had a dea-”

“Funny thing is if you tell Tony, I can still go and tell the world the three secrets and get your girlfriend under hot fire. So in the end, you’re the one still in shit water because you’ll have a bunch of criminals after your asses.” Dale focused his eyes on the ground, knowing that he had to find some way to make Jeff leave. But the thought of having a bunch of criminals coming after a mob princess and the thought of Jeff hurting Angelica had him met with fear that he didn’t know what to do with. “So I suggest you do one thing for me – keep this a secret like you were supposed to and hide it from Tony, or else bang bang goes Lindsay and oops, your daughter will be kidnapped.” Dale looked down, knowing those were two thoughts that he never wanted to be face. How could one man be so evil?

“How can you do thi-”

“It’s cause of how much you hurt me! Now, you’re going to do exactly what I instruct you to do. Upstairs right now.” Not wanting to argue, scared of what Jeff had said, Dale walked up the stairs. Part of him wanted to text Tony and tell him. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it as he walked into the bedsroom. Jeff was right. The minute he texted Tony, the minute Jeff let out the secret causing the mob to come looking. He couldn’t handle the thought of his family in danger and knew that he had to take what was about to handed to him. He just hoped that it ended soon and maybe Jeff would find some reason to stop in the near future all together.

“Now what do you want?”

“Lay down. What else do you think I want?” Dale shook his head as he turned around, facing Jeff straight in the eye. There was no way he was going through the pain of that again.

“You can do anything but that.”

“So I can go hurt your daughter? Okay!” Jeff turned to leave the room, when he felt a hand grab his arm. Looking back at the eyes that faced him, he knew that the mind had been changed. “That’s what I thought.”

“I hope you fucking pay for this one day. Has anybody ever told you that you’re the biggest bitch in the world, ever?” Jeff then gave Dale a shove, sending him on to the bed, stomach first, as Jeff shook his head, surprised by the attitude that he was being delivered. Jeff went to the side of the bed, grabbing Dale’s wrists at easy will and tying them together before tying them to the headboard of the bed. With a quick rip, he tore the shirt that Dale wore, throwing it to the ground.

“If you want nobody to know, I suggest you don’t leave any mar-”

“You just find a way to hide them, Earnhardt! It’s not my problem to deal with.” Jeff then undid the jeans and took them off swiftly as he kept his eyes focused on the man below him.

“Lindsay will be curious if she sees anything so that’s why I’m warning you. I’m trying to help you.”

“It’s your job to deal with your girlfriend and keep her from knowing.” Jeff then went into the dresser that he had always gone before from previous knowledge, taking out the one thing that he knew he needed. “I’m sure she’d understand you not wanting to have sex after everything that has happened.” 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.

“Relax and have fun with this,” Jeff pleaded as he kept pushing himself inside, deeper each time as he heard the cries. “You know you’ve missed these long sexual nights. I bring you a pleasure that nobody else can.” Against the cries and screams that could be heard, Jeff continued pushing himself in, time after time, making sure to do it quickly. “Fuck you never felt so good.”

Couple minutes later, he felt Jeff pulling himself all the way out and then standing up as he couldn’t feel the pressure against his back of his answer person being there. Eyes closed, tears streaming down his face as pain filled him completely inside, there was only one thing he wanted to do – run away.

As he kept his eyes buried in the pillow, tears finding no way of stopping, he felt the ropes around his wrist come loose and soon be gone as his arms fell beside him.

“I fucking hate you,” Dale let out as he heard Jeff leaving the room. It was confirmed that Jeff was gone by the slam of the bedsroom door. Dale then rolled over, letting out heavy breathes from being tired and worn out, pain filling his insides and back, just glad that it was over. “Why did I ever think that he was someone that I could love? Why did I ever even go out with him? Fuck!” Standing up, Dale made his way to the bathroom, taking one glance to see his lower back was covered in dark red scratches right across from left to right. “Guess this summer means no going around topless.” The bruises had almost been healed from their previous meetings and with the summer heat in the air, there was no question that going around without his top would’ve felt good. It would’ve even been nicer for the times that they were in the pool.

Feeling vomit rise his throat as he continued to cry from the pain that filled him, he let him collapse in front of toilet, throwing up as the tears continued to fall. How could one keep this a secret?

 

Chapter 17: The Text Message

Stewart-Haas Racing – Monday following Indianapolis

Tony looked at his phone for what seemed like the millionth time, reading over the text messages that he and Dale had traded earlier the day. It didn’t seem right in Tony’s mind.

Appreciate what you’re doing to Jeff, but I think you should end it.

Why?

Don’t need you getting in trouble with NASCAR or anybody. Plus, the guys at the shop are pretty mad.

I hear ya. I just wanted to show him the pain you went through. At your request, I’ll stop.

Sounds good. See you later this week.

He thought Dale would be fully for what was happening, no questions asked, knowing the secret that Tony now held for him. Though it itched at Tony at the messages sent. Maybe Dale was scared, or maybe it was because of another reason.

Running his hands through his hair, he was wondering whether it was right to keep this a secret. He was doing it for the kids and Jeff’s wife. He didn’t want to see them heartbroken over what was happening. He didn’t want the kids asking questions. However, knowing the pain that Dale had gone through, he kept questioning his actions.

Hearing the slam of his office door, he instantly looked up, seeing two determined people standing before him.

“We know who it is and she has been bugging me about what you’re doing about it,” Ricky started and Tony rolled his eyes. He knew it would only be a matter of time that they’d figure it out that it was Tony by what happened the past two weekends. Tony had taken the liberty in not telling either of them viberally, not wanting them involved, saying that he had it handled and was taking care of Dale.

“He knows not to touch Dale and that’s where we’re leaving it,” Tony replied as he looked back down on his desk. “Dale is too afraid to say anything so we found a compromise. I have on record what he did to Dale one night – videos of it, photos of the marks on Dale. Once I showed him that, plus some other trusty blackmail, he agreed to stay away. If he strikes again, I told Dale to come to me and we’re going to the cops.”

“And your anger led you to do what you’ve done the past couple of weeks, I take it. Is that going to continue beyond Indy?” Tony shook his head no, as he looked over the series of text messages once again.

“And why not?” Danica then questioned, seeing as how Tony was avoiding them with a straight answer and strangely keeping his eyes on a chat message screen. “Rick? NASCAR?”

“It’s probably NASCAR due to the fight in victory lane,” Ricky commented, having seen how every broadcast network had replayed the finish and ensuing fight over and over already.

“Well? What is it?”

“You can at leas-”

“Yeah, due to NASCAR,” Tony lied, just wanting them both to stop. He had debated telling them the truth, but knew that wouldn’t be advised with how things were currently sitting.

“What’d they say to you?” Danica then asked, curious as she didn’t remember Tony getting called to the hauler. “Did they give you probation? A fine?”

“Probably probation due to the fight,” Ricky then commented as Tony shot a look towards the young driver. “That’s just my guess.” Danica then sat on the edge of Tony’s desk, curious as to what the driver was looking at. When she went to take a glance at his phone, he flipped it over so she couldn’t read the messages. “Danica, that’s not right to do.”

“What’s going on Tony? What did NASCAR say and what’s on your mind?” Tony then looked from Ricky to Danica, then back to Ricky.

“I first want to know how you got in my shop,” Tony then started, trying to change the topic. He hoped that they’d get distracted enough. “You don’t even drive for me. Security is crazy to let you through, whether you’re dating her or not. You could be here to steal notes.”

“You can blame me for that one,” Danica then commented, keeping her gaze on her boss. “Now answer the questions.” She knew that he was trying to change the topic by how he accused Ricky and the fact that he had cleared Ricky being allowed inside previously – just not down at shop level.

“Three weeks probation is what I’ve been told.” Tony then turned his gaze back to his driver, curious as to her attitude. “And as far as the text messages and what’s on my mind, that’s none of your business as your boyfriend politely put it. Now if you excuse me, I would like you both to leave me alone.” As he watched the pair of them leave, he looked back down at the text messages, seeing alarms in his mind. This wasn’t like Dale to do this.

Tapping his phone on the screen, he decided to send a “test” text to see what happened.

Hey. Are you okay?

Yeah. Why are you asking?

Just thrown off by that text earlier. Totally thought you’d love it.

I do, but Rick is going nuts and the guys are upset and we don’t need that. You understand right?

kk I hear ya. It’s odd how you guys are teammates. How is that holding out?

He’s co-operating enough in front of Rick so that Rick doesn’t sense a thing. He’s listening, for now.

Dale Jr.’s House – Monday – Post Indianapolis

Dale put the phone back down on the bed, throwing on a new t-shirt and jeans, knowing that Lindsay and Angelica would be home soon from their day out. His mind was screaming to pick the phone up, tell Tony about the previous events, seek his best friend out for help. However, his heart was telling him otherwise. The words that Jeff had said rang through his mind and oddly told him that they were correct. The minute Jeff was charged, the minute the secret would be unreleased and Lindsay would be in danger.

“Dale?” He heard, slipping his phone in his pocket and heading down the stairs. Biting his tongue, he put on a smile, feeling a strong sense of pain across his lower back. His legs also felt sore and tired from the sexual abuse that he had taken.

“What do you think dad?” Angelica said as she spun around, showing off her hair. While she had left with blond hair, she came back with chocolate brown curls that seem to bring out her eyes more. “Lindsay went to get her hair cut and I’ve always wanted to go brown so thought I’d try it out. I hope you don’t mind that I didn’t ask.” Dale then smiled, as he leaned against the wall, not believing how beautiful she was turning out to be.

“It’s beautiful and you’re not in trouble,” he told her. “It’s a great color for you.” He then gave Lindsay a quick kiss, pulling her close, just wanting to hold her and not let go. Feeling Lindsay close to him, seeing Angelica smiling, he knew that he had done the right thing. It was what he had to do to protect his girls.

“We had a lot of fun,” Lindsay told him as she released herself from the hug. “Got our hair done, went out for lunch, went to a movie, went to the spa and finished the day with a visit to Sherry at Lavender.” Dale looked down at the bags, peaking in Angelica’s to see some of the new tops, pants and summer dresses that she had picked up from Sherry.

“I can tell that you had fun. It’s great that you guys are bonding so well.” Lindsay then smiled as she watched Angelica head up the stairs to put her stuff away.

“She’s great, Dale. Totally has your personality to her, but in a girly way.” After Angelica was out of earshot, he pulled Lindsay back close to him, giving her another kiss.

“Thank you for being acceptful of the fact that she’s my daughter and I screwed up. I appreciate that. I don’t think there’s many girls out there that would really understand.” She then smiled, giving him a kiss.

“You accepted my past and what I did without judgement. Why should I judge you based on her? I’ve gotten to know you and you’re such a sweet guy. I couldn’t imagine being with someone else. Being able to accept each other’s past and what has happened is what makes us work.” He then smiled as she headed up the stairs. He was definately doing the right thing in protecting them.

 

Chapter 18: The Following Weeks

I know I am combining weeks together with some of these updates, but I don’t want to leave with something that is too short.

Pocono – Raceday

The week that followed, Jeff’s visits stayed to a minimum with only one more day before heading to Pocono before the next race on the schedule. To say that race went well is far from the truth as Dale ended up finishing 32nd, two laps down, after struggling to find the handling all day. It ate at him more to see Jeff celebrating in victory lane than the finish itself.

“It’s just one week,” his crew chief Steve LeTarte told him as they stood in the hauler. “We’ll get it back next week. I know Walkin’s Glen is next week, but we’ve been getting better on the road courses. Maybe we’ll play the right strategy and win.” Dale showed a slight smile as he laid back on the couch, trying to allow himself to relax. His back was sore as all get out as the marks from the whips with the belt were deeper than weeks prior. He just wanted to scream as being in the firesuit wasn’t something that was helping. However, with Steve being there, he knew there was no chance of getting out of it. “Are you alright man?” Steve’s question caught Dale off guard as he looked towards his crew chief with questioning eyes. He watched as Steve came over, sitting on the end of the couch, eyes focused on him. There was a sense of worry Dale felt in that Steve knew something was up or Tony had broken the ultimate promise. “You just uncomf-”

“I haven’t been feeling that great all weekend,” Dale cut him off, not wanting to talk about things further. To any person who wondered about anything, that was his answer. It wasn’t the truth, but it wasn’t a lie. Thinking back to what had happened with Jeff, it had caused him to throw up numerous times. It seemed that this round was tougher than the round before and made him regret even saying anything to Tony to begin with.

“Well then use this week to get yourself better.”

“Gonna try.” Dale then sat up, standing up and leaving. He knew there wasn’t much to talk more about their day with how ugly it had been and he wanted to find his own peace so he could get out of the firesuit.

Walkin’s Glen – Raceday

The week following Pocono saw a total of four visits – one each day. Dale never understood why and questioned Jeff about it the last day. Jeff told him it was for security reasons to make sure things stayed quiet and Dale knew the threat that was above his head.

So going into the weekend, there was no secret that the pain was evident. His entire back was covered with marks – probably 30 to 40 separate ones – as some were scratches while others were bruises of all different colors. His legs were sore from the sexual abuse and force that Jeff had laid on him each night and making his walks appear that nothing was going on was becoming harder.

To his surprise, though, the race went way better than expected as Steve was right. He managed to keep the lap times decent throughout the day and save enough fuel to win the race. The celebration in victory lane was big as Dale had both of his girls there for the first time for a win.

“Way to go Dad!” Angelica said as she wrapped both her arms around him in excitement. “That’s how you win one of these races. Told you that you’d win at a road course some time.”

“Thanks sweetie,” he replied as he kissed her cheek, before turning to Lindsay and giving her a kiss and a hug. This was how it was supposed to be. They were supposed to be a happy family with any threats over their heads and it felt great to be there together in victory lane.

“Love you,” Lindsay told him simply before Dale turned around to see the shocked expression on Dave Burns face.

“I don’t know what to ask about first – she being your daughter and the world learning that, or the win,” the reporter said as Dale looked towards Angelica with a smile, before turning back to Dave.

“There’s no hiding it – that’s the princess of my life,” he said. “That’s my Angelica. Sometimes the craziest moments in your life turn into the biggest blessings and she certainly is. But enough about that! How about this team? Steve was perfect with his strategy!”

Some of the team listened to Dale talk with Dave Burns, while some of the other guys were talking to Angelica, also surprised by the news.

“I should’ve guessed that you were his daughter,” spotter TJ Majors commented as she smiled.

“I’m surprised you didn’t figure it out sooner,” Angelica replied as she felt arms wrap around her. Looking up, she knew exactly who it was.

“You can also say that you have met the newest driver for KKR,” Kasey said as he let her go, going over to high-five guys. Kasey had learned the truth when he offered her the contract a couple weeks ago, but kept it quiet at Dale’s request. In a couple of weeks, she would begin driving for Kasey in quarter midgets. Once she turned 16, he had it set up that she would drive for his USAC Midget team.

“Congratulations!” Rick Hendrick told her as he hugged Angelica with this being the first time that he had heard of the news. With the fact that she had lived with Rick for two years, they had become close and planned to stay close moving forward. “I guess Kasey beat me to the punch of asking you to a contract.”

“Now now, let’s not all jump on her at once,” Dale commented as he walked over to the group, finished with the interview.

As he stood there between his girls with Rick, there was a smile across his face. This was what it was all about. Though behind that smile, the pain was evident as there was a secret that was buried and it had the chances of ruining everything.

Another set of eyes knew this in the form of Tony Stewart as he looked over them, not really regretting that they had kept it a secret. If they had just said something and taken the right measures, this moment could be happening with that secret looming in the distance.

 

Chapter 19: Planning

Michigan – Qualifying Friday

Dale sat in the team hauler, thinking over the lap in his head. There was no way that he could qualify 29th at Michigan. That just wasn’t possible. However, that was where he had ended up after practice and he knew exactly why.

The past week was starting to catch up with him majorly as his legs were pouncing with pain, sore from top to bottom in being pushed outwards so Jeff could do what he wanted. As a result, his insides felt like they were burning and Dale could only question as to whether there was torn skin there. Leaning forward to undo his shoes, he regretted it right away, feeling the pain that consumed his back from top to bottom. There was no question about the marks that probably resided underneath the t-shirt and suit. The first couple of days he had brought himself to view them in the bathroom with the mirror. However, the past week, he didn’t want to see what was there; he didn’t want the reminder of what had happened in his mind.

“You okay?” He heard as he sat up slowly to see Steve standing there before him. With having worked together for awhile now, they were used to each other. Steve could sense when something was going on that was distracting Dale or bugging him immediately. It was evident in his feedback on how the car was and the tone of his voice. Steve knew that 90% of the time that the effort was always there when something bugged his driver, yet this time knew that not to be the case. “Dal-”

“I just don’t feel that good,” Dale let out before laying back on the couch, slightly, not wanting to put the pressure on his back. If he could find a way, he would rather lay on his stomach for comfort level. However, he never did that – especially at night – not wanting the chance that the evidence would be seen. “I haven’t felt good since Thursday. I feel bad ’cause I know we have a better car than that.” Steve sat down beside his driver, eyes on him, and it was clear that things weren’t where they needed to be. The physical exhaustion was evident on Dale’s face from the simple day of a practice session and two laps of qualifying. What would happen come tomorrow’s double practices or Sunday’s 500 mile race? “Tell the guys I apologize. Gonna try and get better for Sunday.” Dale was then surprised when he heard another set of footsteps amongst the hall of the transporter, surprised at who had shown up in their hauler. “Tony, what are you doing here?”

“I knew something was up by how you were acting,” Tony started as he sat on the other side of the couch, looking towards Steve, before looking down at Dale. “And the only way to corner you with this was his help.” Steve then looked down, feeling bad for being part of Tony’s betrayal in Dale’s trust, but knowing that it had to be done with what was going on. After Tony told him everything, assured him that there was physical proof if he didn’t belief, shock shot through Steve. Steve remembered working with Jeff and how nice Jeff was. How could this happen? Though, another emotion hit Steve – concern. He knew that he had to help Dale.

“He told me everything and before you worry, we’ve kept it between us,” Steve then starts. “Tony only told me because he knows that I can help you most on weekends.” Dale sat up, looking between them, not believing what Tony had done. How could Tony betray him like that?

“And don’t you yell at me, Earnhardt. You should’ve kept your end of the bargain.” Dale looked straight at Tony, surprised by those words. There was no way that Tony could’ve figured out that Jeff was back. He had made sure to keep distance there.

“How do you know that I didn’t keep my promise?” Dale asked as Tony smiled.

“I was by your place twice this week and I saw his car there,” Tony started. “Plus, we never took down the security cameras, either.” Seeing the horror on Dale’s face from the realization, Tony knew that he had to set things straight. “Now don’t worry – I haven’t shared any of that and I really haven’t even watched much. Once I got a slight sight of the beginning, I shut it off.”

“Fuck you, Stewart. How could you not trust me when I laid down my entire heart to you, telling you every secret and trusting you with them?”

“Then why didn’t you tell Tony what was going on when Jeff came back?” Steve then asked before Tony could even say another word. “That trust goes both ways, Dale.” Tony then moved closer to Dale, knowing what needed to be done before they even moved forward.

“Let me see what he’s done to you,” Tony pleaded. “I want to help you – remember.” Dale then slowly stood up, dropping the firesuit off of his arms after unzipping, letting it fall to the ground. Underneath, he wore a white t-shirt, in which he pulled up so both Tony and Steve could see what lied underneath. “Shit! What the hell has been going on between you two?” Tony couldn’t believe the marks that were there as it was twice as bad as before. How could Dale honestly let this go on?

“I’m going to get the cops. That just isn’t right.” Dale then looked towards his crew chief, holding his hand out to stop him. He remembered the words that Jeff said to him and wasn’t letting either of them move.

“No – you are not doing that Steve,” Dale told his crew chief point blank as Steve shook his head in confusion.

“So you’re going to let this continue?” Steve then asked. “You realize the cops can stop him from telling Lindsay’s secret?”

“How do you know that for sure, Steve?” Steve then looked down, knowing there was no definite way of knowing.

“They can put in boundaries to protect you and Lindsay. They can put boundaries in so he can’t let information out.”

“There’s no definition of knowing that for sure and that’s what scares me the most.” Looking down, though, Dale had an idea of his own. “However, I’m going to chance my luck – but not yet. I need your help, both of you.” Steve then crossed his arms, curious as to this new attitude that Dale had.

“We’ll do whatever you need,” Steve started. “So what is your idea?” Steve watched Dale carefully as Dale put his t-shirt back down, picking up the bottle of Tylenol for a pair of pills, anxiously awaiting the answer from his driver.

“I can’t drive this weekend and we both know that due to how I am feeling so we’re going to play this into Jeff’s hands. Get Regan to practice the car tomorrow and perhaps by Sunday I’ll be fine. If not, we’re doing a driver swap.” Dale then smiled as he let the cold water trickle down his throat, knowing that it was the perfect idea. “With seeing my weakness, he will think that he’s won the battle of hurting my ass and agree with my plead to lay off for a week so that way I can find some strength. He’s done it before so he’ll take pleasure in that again.” Tony then looked towards Dale confused as he did the math in his head.

“That takes us to Bristol,” Tony said as he looked towards Steve and back towards their driver. “What are you thinking, Earnhardt?” Dale then crossed his arms as he looked out the window and saw Jeff standing out there, joking with a couple other drivers.

“Bristol race I’m going to show him who’s boss very quickly. I’m going to show him why you don’t mess with an Earnhardt and their family. I’m going to do it in a way that will be remembered on track by many fans forever. Steve, consider it your Daytona revenge. Then after the race, he’ll be fuming and the two of us will meet. At that time, call in the cops and he’s arrested.” Dale then turned back to the pair that sat before him. “I’m taking a chance in trusting that him being arrested will result in the secrets being kept by the advice you both give me. Considering that we’re cornering him off guard, he won’t have a chance to spill first. If he sees us talking and some security guard, he can drop it off easy. Plus, I want a piece of him before he pays for what he’s done.” Tony stood up, walking over to where Dale stood, knowing that the plan was risky. It could result in more pain and/or a secret revealed without being warranted.

“Why Bristol? How do you know you’ll get your chance?” Steve then smiled, crossing his arms.

“Cause we have a really good bullet for that race and we’ll be up front, ready to dice with the best of them,” Steve commented. “I’m ready for some Daytona revenge, even if it means ruffling some feathers. I totally now understand why you did what you did Stewart and don’t envy it.”

“Plus, I know him better than you both and I know how to mess with his mind if I want to,” Dale added as he sat back on the couch, flinching at the pain of the fabric of his shirt touching his skin.

Well – do you think Dale has a good plan? Or do you think it will backfire? I’ll also admit that in writing this plan out, it seemed to feel better in my mind than written out.

 

Chapter 20: Raceday

Michigan – Sunday

Dale sat in the team hauler, pulling his firesuit on as Tony and Steve sat on the couch, watching. They hadn’t decided yet whether Dale would run the whole race, and Dale had to still talk to Jeff about a week of nothing. The concern was garage wide, though, as people were wondering as to why Dale hadn’t done any practice on Saturday. Some of the drivers even stopped by the motorcoach to see how he was, and as always, it was put off as “I’m just sick. Thanks for the concern.”

Looking at the pair of people that sat there with him, it was evident that next weekend was going to be a perfectly planned ordeal. If everything worked out, then they could move forward without any issues.

“So, am I expecting to race you all day?” Tony asked as he watched Dale do the zipper up.

“I got enough sleep and atleast the sting off the pain that I think I’ll be okay,” Dale told Tony as he looked towards Steve at the tail end of that. Though even with that said, they knew that they’d keep Regan around just in case.

“You let me know on the radio if it becomes too much,” Steve commented as he couldn’t stomach himself how much Dale was going through and how he could keep a straight face with it going on.

“Steve is right as you don’t need to push it,” Tony added as he gave Dale a quick hug before standing up. With it being close to race time, Tony knew that he had to go check in with the team, even if his heart wanted to stay there by Dale. “I’ll see you out there.”

“You got it,” Dale replied as Steve and Dale watched Tony head out. “I’ll be back in five. I got to go see our dear teammate.” Steve rolled his eyes and with a nod, he watched Dale head out and go over to the 24 hauler. Steve kept his eyes focused on the pair, not wanting to miss if something a strange happened.

Once Dale got over to the 24 hauler, he found Jeff standing there talking to Alan and waited till the pair finished and Alan walked away. He watched Jeff turn around and face him, a smile coming across his face. There was satisfaction in seeing the pain that Dale was going through. Knowing they were far enough out of ear shot of everybody, Dale knew that he could bring up what he wanted to bring up.

“What do you want?” Jeff asked as he locked eyes with Dale. Dale let the full hurt of the pain go forth in how he looked back at Jeff, knowing that it was a must.

“I’m not sick like everybody thinks I am,” Dale started as he kept watch for people around them. “I’m just finding it hard to run this weekend with what you did last week.” Dale then focused his eyes to the ground, knowing that convincing Jeff for this to work would be hard. However, he knew Jeff well and all signs pointed to this working. After all, Jeff wanted this to remain as their little secret.

“Well, like I said, that’s your problem and you seem to be doing a good job covering it up.” Dale shook his head as he raised his gaze to meet Jeff’s, now worried Jeff would decline the offer. “So why are you her-”

“I wanted to see if you could let next week slide because of it being Bristol and you know how ruthless Bristol can be. Give me a week to rest up so I can be ready for that beat down, and then we can meet up and continue.” As he watched the grin cross Jeff’s face, worry hit him as he thought maybe he had said too much in his request.

“Fine, but I will see you on the Sunday.” Dale smiled inside, knowing that would work perfectly as the plan was set to go down on Saturday night anyway.

“Okay.” Dale then walked away, pulling out his phone and the chat window for Tony.

Part 1 complete. He agreed. He wants to meet Sunday so we got time Saturday.

Dale then walked back to the 88 hauler, managing to avoid the media and everybody, tucking himself back inside.

“Did he listen?” Steve asked instantly as he heard the door close and Dale shook his head yes as he made his way to the back, sitting back on the couch. “Good. If it was me, though, I’d go say something right now and get it over with.” Steve then stood up, ready to leave, knowing that his driver needed some time to himself to sort out everything going through his mind and the pain.

“It can’t end here,” Dale spoke causing Steve to freeze. “It has to end at Bristol.” Steve then turned around, facing his driver with surprise written on his face.

“Wh-”

“It all started in 2004 after my win and some late night fun. That was also the place that he found out that Jimmie and I slept together in Daytona. It just seems perfect, Steve.” He then laid back, shaking his head as he didn’t want to think about how things started with Jeff and him. “Things with Jeff and I started a year and a half ago at Daytona.” Seeing the shock on Steve’s face at how long it had been going on for, there was a realization that things had gone way too far. “I didn’t say anything because of the threats that he held above my head. Call me a chicken, but I don’t give a shit.”

“You’re no chicken. I don’t know what I’d do if somebody said something about Trisha and the kids. In my eyes, Dale, you’re stronger than I realized to be able to have dealt with this for this long.” Steve then continued his walk down the hall, leaving the trailer, shocked by Dale’s words for him. How were they able to keep it hidden all this time?

The race went better than expected that afternoon as Dale would run the full race, finishing eighth. As he stood on pit road looking down at Jeff, who finished sixth, there was a smile that came across his face. Bristol was about to write another memory in their book.

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