Chapter 31: Kansas
“So, things have got to be better….” Delana comments as Willow glances over at her and shakes her head yes.
The pair were set on watching qualifying together. Willow knew that it’d probably be a better idea to watch from the media center due to having to get the story right, but she could also watch from pit road and do that job. Besides, being on pit road, she could get some exclusive driver quotes as the session went on.
Everything that dealt with work didn’t matter at that moment to Willow, though. She was more focused on having time with one of her close friends. Delana had been bugging to talk to her about things since Wednesday, but it seemed the pair couldn’t find the time. Delana felt the time was warranted as girl time was always nice. It was even nicer when you had a lot on your mind and needed to get it out there. With wedding planning and the trial mixed together, that meant a bunch of topic discussions.
“It’s defiantly a relief to know that she’s going away and my father is getting the help that he desperately needed,” Willow says with a sigh as she looks over at Delana. “It does make things easier. However, as Tony told me Wednesday, it’s just a step in the process. That gives closure on what happened, but that doesn’t mean that it just leaves my mind.” Delana shakes her head, understanding.
“Of course, because it’s something that you’ve been dealing with for awhile now. You may have thought that running away back then would be the end, but yet you continue to live with it in nightmares and flashbacks till you truthfully talk about it and move forward. It’s time to stop running, really.” Delana then looks over at Willow, curiously. “Have you talked to Tony at all about things?”
“We’ve talked a little. My biggest nightmare was the night that I left the house and the fight that happened that night. Between the fight, the anger, fear, emotions – there was so much there. We’ve discussed that and I’ve been able to sleep without having to worry about that bugging me, anymore.” Delana smiles as she was glad to hear that there was progress being made, besides the simple conclusion of the trial.
“That’s good – actually, that’s great. It shows that you’re making progress and can talk to Tony about things.” Willow smiles a little, also pleased with the progress. However, deep down, she knew there was so much more still to go.
“Now it’s just talking about the experiences that still stick in my mind and bug me from when I was kid going through that. It’s talking about that pain, that fear, the emotions – everything that I’ve tried to run from, as you said. That’s not easy to talk about, Delana. It hurts…” Delana reaches over and grabs willow’s hand, catching her friend’s attention.
“No doubt it hurts, but that’s why you need to talk about it with Tony, or someone else. You need to erase that hurt from your life so you can truly move forward with a big smile. I know it’s going to be hard, but you’re strong and you can handle it.” Willow smiles as it was nice to hear the reassurance from Delana. Perhaps if she couldn’t get it out to Tony, she could confide in Delana. “So the house planning….”
“So the architect shared the plans with the developer and it’s all a go. They’re starting on building the dream house now. Give it mid-summer and we should have a house with all the rooms. He told us that by beginning of July, the foundation will be laid and you’ll be able to walk the layout. Then throughout July, they’ll work on insolating and putting drywall in. August is the month for plumbing and electrical. By September, it’ll be set for the designer’s touch.” Delana looks over with a grin, knowing exactly what that meant. She had already heard that Tony was leaving the floor choice and wall color choices up to her since they mainly went with a design layout that he wanted.
“So have you even started to think about anything, yet?” Willow shakes her head yes with a smile. It was nice to focus on the house planning for awhile.
“I want to go with light colors, as they brighten up the room. I also figured hard wood floors is the best for all of the rooms for easy cleaning, except kitchen and bathroom which will be tile. Now choosing the exact colors is the next phase. Once I have that picked out, Tony says we can sit down and choose furniture.” Delana then looks over at Willow, curiously and surprised.
“Wait – Tony is going to sit down and help choose furniture?” Willow shakes her head yes.
“That’s what he said.” Delana shakes her head in disbelief.
“You’re defiantly having an effect on him. Those are things that he wouldn’t even worry about before – just saying that each room needed certain minimum essentials.”
“Oh don’t worry – he’s made a couple idea lists already. It seems that the living room requires a big screen TV and we need to put a wall-size fish tank somewhere, again.” Delana lets out a sigh.
“What is up with him and the fish tank? I get having a small fish tank and a couple fishes, but a big wall size one? Why do you need that? It’s just a pain to clean.” Willow chuckles and shrugs her shoulders.
“I guess he likes watching the fish swim around. Besides, it’s not that bad to clean. You just need an in-house scuba diver. I cleaned it a couple times. It’s not that bad.”
“Now you’re just spoiling him!” Willow laughs as they return their eyes back to the track. “Why oh why is Logano on the pole?”
“Because he set the quickest lap. That’s how qualifying works, you know.” Delana then gives her a slight shove as she laughs. “It’s okay. He can go fast for one lap, but he forgets how to do it after about 50.” Delana then looks over surprised as she laughs.
“I thought you were a proud member of a media. Media isn’t supposed to have favourites or drivers that they don’t like, remember?” Willow shrugs her shoulders. She knew that was the case; however it was no secret that she wanted Tony to win every week. She just made sure to keep her writing non-bias.
“I just speak the truth – remember.” Willow then walks away, set to get a quote from Joey to go with the story as Delana simply smiles.
Chapter 32: Off-Week
One of the more controversial things right now with Tony is the lawsuit. I will touch upon pieces of that within the story – as this is based on reality with my Willow twists – so we’ll just have to see the direction that the story goes.
Willow let out a sigh as she glanced over her notes for an upcoming article. With the Sprint Cup Series being off, she was supposed to be using the off-week to preview the final two events before the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and drivers that could qualify their way in.
However instead, her research led her to Tony’s results over the past month. There had been bright signs – a couple strong qualifying efforts – but yet only one single top-10 finish. She could sense the frustration when she talked to Tony and Chad about things, and wished that things would just magically turn around. All they needed was a pair of good runs back-to-back and she felt hat they had the shop turned right way.
Of course, it was hard to focus on the on-track business with the off-track mess. She still found herself shaking her head over the lawsuit. How could the family do that a year later? How could the family so clearly try and blame Tony, despite what the district attorney said? It made herself sick to her stomach thinking about it. She had told Tony from the beginning that she’d be right there by his side as he went through living the events once again. He had done the responsible factor, leaving it up to his legal team to handle the main pieces. They had the expertise, right?
On her side, she had been able to move forward from the events with her parents and felt confident in where her future was headed. She felt that she was on to the next chapter in her life, and that was with Tony without looking back. She’d always have the demons locked deep in her mind, but she could move forward with peace on her mind.
As she watched their house get closer to completion, it just fit perfectly in the puzzle. Everything with the build was coming together nicely and with the electrical work set to be completed in the upcoming week, it’d be time for her and Tony to move forward with the design steps. They had talked in depth over the past couple of weeks, choosing colors for the walls, flooring and carpets that they wanted, as well as furniture for a couple of the different rooms.
Needless to say, if she removed the dismay on-track results and lawsuit from her life, things weren’t going too badly.
“This is an off-week,” she hears as she watches Tony walk into the room.
Staying at the Harvick household, Kevin had graciously offered his office for whenever Willow wanted a place to work without being interrupted by anybody. She had used it a lot over the past couple of weeks in getting articles completed.
“There’s still work to do,” she offers, keeping her eyes focused on her laptop as she switches back to the Chase standings.
“Don’t you ever take time off?” He questions as she glances over the top of the laptop with a shrug of her shoulders.
“I do take time when I need it, Tony. It’s just getting near championship time, there’s always stories to write. The off-week offers the perfect time for the boss to want a Chase qualifier preview story.” He then sits in the chair across from her, keeping his eyes locked on hers. He understood the work that she had to do, but that didn’t mean he was going to waste away an off-week with no fun.
“Do you need any help writing the article?” She shakes her head no as she looks back at the standings, making a couple notes in the notebook beside the computer.
“I’ve got it covered, Tony.” He then gets up out of the chair and walks around to her side of the desk, wrapping his arms around her neck and bending over to kiss her cheek.
“I believe you and know that you’re a great writer. With that said, I do want some time with you to myself over this weekend.” She then grins and as she thought it over, perhaps he was on to something. It’d be nice to have some time alone together without interruptions or worries with how crazy things had been lately. Perhaps it’d be the perfect getaway for Tony.
“What’d you have in mind?” Tony smiles as he had thought over things carefully over the past couple of days. He didn’t want to do anything elaborate, but enough to give them a break.
“Well, I thought we could head back to Indiana for the weekend and perhaps Monday as well. We could spend time relaxing by ourselves together at the house, whether watching movies or touring the property or going to a dirt race.” She smiles as it sounded comforting. She knew it could also lead to other activities as they didn’t get much time for that lately as it felt weird doing it under their best friend’s roof. The trip to a dirt track seemed to hit a little close to home with the lawsuit in her mind, but the other suggestion would work perfectly.
“I’ll tell you what – you let me finish the article today and we can leave tonight, okay?” He smiles as he gives her a big kiss.
“You won’t see me till you’re ready to see me.” He then leaves the office without another word, a smile locked on his face as he closes the door behind him.
She then goes back to working on the article, but finds her mind drifting to their conversation. As she thought about it, it was just over a year ago that they had gotten together. The idea of getting away together was not only a good idea for a break, but perhaps an even better idea to celebrate the strides that they’d both made separately, and together.
Knowing the article could wait for a minute, she picked up the phone and called Tony’s sister with a smile on her face. She could only hope that her plan came together nicely.
Chapter 33: Girly Gossip
“So in everything that we’ve talked about today, I still have one big question,” Danica starts as she sits at the table with the girls.
Once qualifying was done and Willow had the Cup qualifying recap sent to her editors, she headed out for an evening with her fellow SHR girls – Danica, Delana and Ashley. They had talked about doing one of these get togethers for a couple weeks, set to gossip about everything on their minds and lives. This was the first weekend that Willow had gotten a chance to do it since another writer was handling the XFINITY coverage.
The dinner and glasses of wine had started off with Danica sharing some cooking tales from the kitchen and jokes with Ricky. Ashley had then shared details of her trip to Greece with Kurt, from the magical spots that they saw to the sweetness of their relationship. The topping was hearing about how Kurt proposed. Delana then told a couple tales of the antics of Kevin and Keelan, gaining laughs from the girls. It seemed that the only one left to tell a story now was Willow.
“I want to know what you and Tony did during the off-weekend,” Delana continues as Willow rolls her eyes.
“It wasn’t that big of a deal…” She lets out as Delana looks over, surprised.
“Um excuse me, it was a big deal,” Delana starts. “If you have to call ahead and set up plans with help from his sister, that’s a big deal. Now, what did you plan and what happened?” Willow lets out a sigh, knowing that she wasn’t going to get out of telling the girls the story.
“Well, we all know that there’s a lot going on with Tony right now away from the track with the lawsuit,” Willow starts. “I could tell that it was affecting him and he needed an escape. So I called ahead and put a bit of a plan into action. He knew that we were going to spend some time at home, but he didn’t know exactly what we were going to do. You could say that I left him with a bit of indecision.”
“And he accepted that?” Danica asks surprised and Willow shakes her head yes.
“So we started off the week by just having some simple relaxing at the house. The one morning, I got up early before he was awake and snuck out, leaving a note in the bed. He got the note and read it. It was a clue leading him to his parent’s hous-”
“You sent Tony on a scavenger hunt?” Ashley questions and Willow shakes his head yes. “And he accepted with ease? He didn’t argue it?” Willow laughs and shakes her head no.
“Well, okay, so he did a little,” she admits. “He called me and pouted and I told him that it’d be worth it in the end. He finally gave in, agreeing that perhaps it’d be fun. It was a seven step process, leading him all over town with some fun stops along the way. He was able to have some ice cream and stories at his favourite spot, followed by some laughs with ‘ol school friends and a stop at an old shop in town. I thought it’d be the perfect recipe for a distraction from everything.”
“That’s adorable,” Danica coos. “So meanwhile, this had to have a special destination, right?” Willow shakes his head yes.
“I wanted to get him off of his property for the right reasons. I set up, with his sister’s help, a perfect nightly dinner scenario. We made up this real nice meal – steak, potatoes, corn – classic food that he’d just love. We found a nice spot in the back part of his property where the trees were and set up a table. We lit some candles and decorated the area a little. It was just….stunning.”
“What was his reaction?” Delana wonders as Willow smiles, remembering the look on his face.
“He was shocked,” Willow answers. “I left an ATV by the house with a note on it, saying to drive back through the forest and follow the lights. He came riding up as I stood by the table, wearing a nice light yellow sunflower dress…..”
Tony rides up to where Willow is standing and slows the ATV down as his jaw drops further to the ground. He shuts it off, climbing off slowly and walking up to her with puer shock written on his face.
“Tony…say something…” Willow asks as she stands there, staring into his eyes.
“You look stunning, beautiful, incredible,” he tells her as he immediately grabs her hand and pulls her close. “You look beyond words that I could describe. How did I get so lucky to have you in my life?” She lays her head against his shoulder.
“Because underneath everything that the world sees and thinks makes up who you are, you’re the sweetest, kindest, most caring man that I have ever met and deserve every bit of happiness that you get.” He then kisses her forehead as he looks at her with a smile. She then looks back up at him, smiling in return. “How did you enjoy your scavenger hunt?”
“It was great. It was fun to catch up with old friends, see some familiar spots, and just have a day of total fun. How did you know?” She smiles as she wraps her arms around him.
“I know that things have been hard lately. I figured that some time away would do you good, hence why we’re here in our hideaway. However, I figured that some time with friends would do you well in loosening you up and helping you release some tension.” He smiles as he kisses her lips.
“Well, it was the perfect solution.” He then glances past her shoulders, looking at how the area was decorated, with his eyes finding the candles and table before him. He then took a wiff of the food, smiling. “This is just so beautiful…and you look stunning. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. You deserve it. Come on…” They then head over to the table, sitting down as she takes the covers off of the food. “Dig in and enjoy. Desert will be sweet later.”
“Awwww,” the girls coo as Willow tells them the story, with Willow smiling in response.
“That is just so adorable!” Delana comments.
“It’s always the guy doing that for the guy,” Ashley adds. “It’s cute to see it the other way around.”
“I bet desert was certainly sweet later,” Danica says as Willow’s cheeks immediately blush red as she glances away. The girls then laugh.
“Did you at least make it back in the house?” Delana wonders as Willow’s eyes fall on the table before them. The girls then laugh harder.
“Man, those neighbors probably thought the animals were busy that night,” Ashley comments as Willow gives her a look. “Lots of bunny action there!”
“I’m never going to be able to look at a bunny around any of you, or even look at any of you again,” Willow declares as the girls keep laughing.
“Relax – we all have those moments with our boys,” Danica offers. “It’s okay to admit it.”
“Oh, so what story do you have to share, Ms. Patrick?” Delana wonders as Danica lets out a sigh.
“There was this one after a race when Ricky and I were heading home…..”