Chapter 21: Kansas
Following a great week with the fam-jam, the pair were excited for a fun weekend. If everything went according to plan, they’d be hanging out victory lane by Saturday night.
“Can I see that?” Brad asks as they watch truck qualifying on pit road. Juliette had been holding the race scanner, checking out the live leaderboard throughout the session so far. However, now entering the second round of qualifying, Brad was getting curious.
“They’re both quick enough – especially Tyler,” she comments as she hands it over while Brad glances over the times. He knew that they were probably quick enough as he knew the trucks that they had underneath them. However, that didn’t mean anything.
“They have to pull out just in the right spot in line if they want a good run.” She understood that, having seen how the draft had played an effect so far in qualifying.
“As long as they start near the front, that’s the main thing.” Brad shakes his head in agreement as he watches the group finally pull off pit road.
“Here we go….”
They both watched as the field come up to speed, eyes focused on the pair of blue trucks. Standing on top of the hauler, he watched as Tyler went through turns one and two, getting a little loose and making contact with the wall. He then watched as Tyler slid down the track, just in the perfect spot to collect his teammate Austin.
Looking at the damage to both trucks, he knew that meant one thing – back-up trucks for both, and money out of the pocket quickly.
“Just my luck!” He lets out as he climbs down the steps of the hauler. Juliette could only shake her head in disappointment as she followed him down and towards the garage.
“Both are okay,” she comments. “They told their crew chiefs.” Brad was glad to hear that news, but that didn’t ease the significance of what happened.
“He just had to catch his own teammate out of all people. Out of the 22 possible trucks, why does he catch his own teammate?” Juliette shrugs her shoulders, not sure what to say. What could you honestly say in this situation?
“That’s just sometimes how it goes. But you have two great young drivers and two great teams. They’ll prepare the back-up trucks and I bet both will be up in the top-10 before the race is over tonight.” He looks back at her with a small smile. That was nice to hear, even if it didn’t ease the sting of what happened that much.
“I have no doubt. But it still sucks.” She then chuckles as she pulls him close.
“Oh I know. The joys of being a truck owner, huh?” He then rolls his eyes as he heads off to check on the teams.
After both teams assured him that things were under control and Tyler apologized big time for what happened – even if the truck had just jumped sideways on him, Brad changed his focus. He still had to focus on qualifying for himself as Cup qualifying directly followed truck qualifying. Based on the speed that they had in practice, along with Team Penske’s great work of the qualifying system to date, Brad was confident that they’d have a good run.
“Good luck,” Juliette says before giving him a quick kiss. He then heads off, set to get ready to go.
“Gosh, I can’t believe how close you two have gotten already,” Juliette hears and smiles as she recognizes the voice. She watches as Joey’s wife Brittany walks over with her own smile on her face. “It’s like you guys have been together for years based on the chemistry.” Juliette chuckles as it somewhat felt like that.
“We’ve been together since last year, Brittany. That’s enough time to get to know each other well.”
“I know, but it just seems like you’re even closer than expected. You know exactly how to comfort him and the conversations between you both seem to come with ease.” Juliette knew that was the case, as well. It came based on the comfort from all the years that they were together before.
“Well, we worked together when he was at JRM. It helps when you have a friendship to start.” It felt odd discussing things with Brittany as the pair hadn’t quite grown close yet, despite crossing paths with each other every other day at the shop. Perhaps she’d be someone that would make a good friend.
“So, have you thought about your future with him yet?” Juliette glances over, even feeling stranger about the conversation now. No doubt she had thought about the future – hence the baby planning. Did that mean she was willing to divulge on that right now?
“Everybody is always thinking of their future when they’re dating. If you don’t see a future, why would you still be with that person? So yeah, I’ve gotten it some thought.” She watches as the intrigue just continues to grow for Brittany.
“And?” Juliette knew that she wasn’t going to get rid of Brittany without some sort of explanation, but she didn’t feel like saying much either.
“And I don’t want to talk about it, okay? That’s between Brad and I.” She watched an immediate look of disgust form on Brittany’s face.
“That’s fine. I understand. Just make sure you talk to Brad about it, at least.” Juliette had to chuckle to herself. That’s what the past few months had all been about.
“No worries – I got this under control.”
The pair then watched the rest of qualifying together, keep conversation to a minimum, and ended the session happy. Joey scored the pole while Brad ended up a nice respectable third on the afternoon. It wasn’t what he totally wanted, but it was a good starting spot nonetheless.
Brittany headed off instantly to congratulate Joey, while Juliette made her way over to brad. She waited for him to finish debriefing with Paul about how the session went, before walking over and wrapping her arms around him.
“Nice job,” she comments, before kissing his cheek.
“Could’ve had a pole,” he says as he spins around to face her.
“Could’ve, but you still have a nice solid third place starting spot. You’re just saving that extra bit of speed for when it counts tomorrow night.” He smiles as he leans in and kisses her lips.
“I like the way you think, or perhaps you’re just thinking that because you want to celebrate with me.” She then chuckles as she thinks about it.
“Well, a night in victory lane with the champ would be a lot of fun. For some reason, victory lane is the best place to end a night.” He then laughs as he pulls her close.
“No, the best place to end a night is in your arms.” She feels her heart melt a little as they head off to grab some dinner before the truck race.
“Oh, for the record, Brittany is all commendable about our relationship so far and saying that she admires the chemistry that we have. She also asked me if I’ve thought about our future.” Brad then looks over at Juliette, curiously. With all the time that he spent with Joey, he hoped that Juliette and Brittany would become good friends.
“What’d you tell her?”
“I’d rather not talk about it with her but I have given it some thought. It’s just odd to discuss with someone else.” Brad shakes his head, understanding, as he keeps Juliette held close.
“That’s a fine answer. But if you want, you can tell her. It wouldn’t bother me. Besides, I think you would be good friends with each other.”
Chapter 22: Charlotte
Brad walks back to the garage, catching the eyes of his crew chief after the all-star race.
No doubt the race hadn’t played out as he would’ve hoped. They had a strong enough car to win, but he knew they had to be first off pit road with the way the clean air worked. So he sped a little and well, he was caught. Restarting the 10 lap segment from the back didn’t produce the most positive results that they had hoped for.
“Was that really necessary?” Paul questions as Brad shrugs his shoulders. “Sure, let’s throw all chance out the window because we can’t be first off pit road.”
“Clean air was the name of the game all night,” Brad rebuttles. “We saw that all night, Paul. Denny got off first and what happened? He drove away from the field and won the race.” Paul rolls his eyes. In a way, he knew his driver was telling the truth. However, that didn’t mean he was going to let him go with purposely getting a penalty.
“Denny had the quickest car throughout the night on the speed charts. It’s not a surprise.” Paul then takes a deep breath. “I just think throwing it away like that isn’t right, okay? Let’s say you come off second. What if Denny would’ve spun the tires? You could’ve got in front and done the same, I suppose. What if you came off third and the top two made contact? You can’t just simply throw these races for the win, Brad. That’s all.” Brad shook his head, understanding. That was fine if this was a normal race. However, this wasn’t a normal race.
“On a normal race night, I would agree with you and taken the safe route. However, tonight is different. Tonight is about one thing – victory lane. Nobody remembers who finishes second. All that matters is victory lane and a million bucks. With these rules, I have to beat him to that line or don’t win the race. I’ll take the penalty and strike out, but that was the race.” Paul puts his hands up, still not in agreement but not willing to argue further. After all, this was just some non-points night. Why argue about something like this when they should be focusing on the coca Cola 600?
“I understand your reasoning and accept it. I’m sure the team understands, as well. It just caught me off-guard and isn’t something that we normally do.”
“I get it – but I told my reasoning, as well. Once a year type of deal.”
“So, there’s no chance that you’re pulling the same stunt next week?” Brad shrugs his shoulders with a grin.
“We’re locked in the Chase already. We have nothing to lose.” Paul then gives him a stern look as Brad smiles. “I’m kidding. Trust me – this is something that I’d only do tonight. Besides, you’re going to give me a quick enough car that’s going to win the pole and dominate, right?” Paul laughs with an eye roll.
“If you think you’re leading all 400 laps next week then you got to be on something. That’s mission impossible.” Brad arches his eyes a little.
“Nothing is impossible. I believe in you.” Paul laughs as he walks away.
“I’ll give you the best car that I can give you and we’ll go from there. Don’t you have a vampire to take care of?”
“She can take care of herself, Paul. She’s a big girl.” Paul then spins around to glance at Brad.
“She’d still like some cuddles. Besides, shouldn’t you be hallowing at the moon tonight?” Brad glances up at the sky looking around before turning his eyes back to Paul.
“It’s a new moon tonight – not a full moon. That was the beginning of the month. We go for full moons, not new moons.” Paul shrugs his shoulders.
“New moon, full moon – what’s the difference?” Brad then gives him a look as Paul laughs. “I know the difference, don’t worry. I remember my science class. Now go run off and see Juliette, Romeo.” Brad simply flips him the bird as he heads off.
Brad then goes and meets up with Juliette, who was hanging by the 22 hauler, having a discussion with Brittany. She had decided to follow Brad’s advice on giving Joey’s wife a chance, and was finding some luck so far. The pair had been able to find some things in common. Juliette, though, still wasn’t comfortable in talking about babies with her. That was a topic that if she needed to talk to someone, she’d save for Yolanda or possibly Kelley. She had gotten close with Dale’s sister while doing his PR.
“No matter what anybody says, I’m proud of you for taking the chance tonight and doing what you thought you needed to do to win,” she tells him as she walks over, giving him a hug and kiss. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” he tells her with a smile. “And I knew there was a reason I loved you.”
Chapter 23: Discussions
“It’s about time that you came to see us!” Yolanda lets out as she gives Juliette a big hug. Juliette just laughs as she sits down on the couch.
“Let’s just say that the NASCAR life is busy when you’re officially dating a driver,” she comments as Yolanda flops down by herself.
“I heard about their crazy schedules. And ugh, I was pulling so badly for Brad to win on Sunday night. He had a quick car…” Juliette looks over with a small smile. It was nice to hear that her best friend was starting to finally find some interest in NASCAR.
“He says he had a quick enough car to finish second with Truex winning. But oh well, that’s how it goes some nights, right? But wait – you watching NASCAR? Are you becoming a fan?” Yolanda shakes her head no with a smile.
“I still think they’re just a bunch of crazy people going around in circles. I’ve only tuned into a couple of a races so I can keep up on how Bradley is doing.” Juliette gives her friend raised eyebrows.
“I know. I’m calling him Bradley. He seemed to be annoyed by it when I was there, and there’s nothing like annoying a future hubby of a best friend.” Juliette just rolls her eyes as she relaxes on the couch.
“You need to come out to a race. Once you go to a race and see it live, you’ll have a whole new respect. I think you should at least come once.” Juliette then looks over at her, feeling a new bit of intrigue. “That, or get Brad give you a ride in a two-seater.”
“Oh hell no. I could not survive that!” Juliette laughs.
“That’s what I told Dale when he offered when I was doing his PR. Turns out, it was a great experience, I survived and it gave me a new respect for what they go through.” Yolanda continues to shake her head.
“There’s no way in hell I am doing that girl. You can stick to the fast cars and I’ll stick to the way I know things.” Yolanda then gets comfy before looking over. “Now, forget the cars. Tell me more about this Brittany chick.” Juliette smiles. She had spent a couple days hanging out with Joey’s wife and had to admit that she was pretty cool.
“What else is there to say? She’s married to Joey, she’s got a great personality and she makes a great shopping partner. We did some serious awesome shopping together. Oh, and she’s great for talking about racing things and living life as a WAG so….that’s it.”
“Wife and Girlfriend. It’s the short form for us to hang with the drivers.” Yolanda shakes her head, understanding.
“So I thought you weren’t going to get close with her?” Juliette chuckles, remembering that discussion.
“I wasn’t. However, I spoke to Brad and he said it’d be good to get to know a fellow girl in the garage so I had someone to talk to and relate to. Besides, he and Joey are always working together so it just makes sense. Now if I need someone to talk to, I can talk to her or Amy or Kelley.” Yolanda thinks it over, thinking that’s a good idea. However, she still had her own thoughts.
“But what about being a vampire?” Juliette shrugs her shoulders. When she was living her normal life, she didn’t think about it. It occurred in thought process as she got ready in the morning and relaxed at night, but other than that – she didn’t bother to think about it.
“It goes along with how I’ve always lived my life – not a thought when hanging out with her or anyone. It’s just a thought when getting ready in morning.” Yolanda was still in the thinking process.
“So, do you talk to any humans about being a vampire?” Juliette lets out a sigh, having excepted this type of questioning sooner than later.
“Nobody knows that I am vampire except for Brad, his family and Dale. Beyond that, the rest think I’m just a human like them. It’s also going to stay that way if I want to continue my normal existence. If I need to talk to anybody, I either talk to Brad or I go see Dale. It’s still awkward either way, though, as I have to explain a lot of things. So for most deals, I either talk to you, Danny or Edward.” Yolanda sits back, understanding. It was interesting to learn more details about how Juliette easily spent her life without anybody else knowing. “Anymore questions?”
“No – that covers it. Unless you want to talk about getting pregnant or his parents.” Juliette smiles at the thought as she pulls out her Ipad, bringing up some photos.
“We have an off-weekend coming up. It falls right along with the time that I can get pregnant with this diet requirement. We have decided to take some time away to ourselves and have decided to go here…” Yolanda looks over the photos as a smile forms on her face.
“Awww that’s adorable. This place looks awesome and perfect.” She then hands the Ipad back over. “Who made the decision?”
“I told Brad about the schedule. He told me about the idea since he said it’d be nice to be intimate like that away from everybody and in a space where we can truly be ourselves I then did some research and chose this place.” A big smile forms on Yolanda’s face.
“Awww that’s so sweet that he’d think of taking you away for a weekend. That sounds great. It almost sounds like…..” A bigger smile then forms on Yolanda’s face as she sits up. “Has he asked about your perfect ring selection?” Juliette rolls her eyes and shakes her head no.
“This is just for the case of intimacy and getting pregnant the right way and having the baby together. It has nothing to do with engagement or talk of that nature. We haven’t even been together a year yet.” The comment couldn’t erase the smile and suspicion on Yolanda’s face.
“Juliette, he’s also accepting the need to plan a family together and go through a pregnancy. That shows commitment. Plus, sure you haven’t been together a year – but you’re meant to be together and spent six months a couple years ago together.” Juliette shakes her head. She knew her besty had to be reaching for straws.
“You’re probably dreaming right now. Please come back down to earth.”
Yolanda let the thought go in conversation but was left on the thought.
What if Brad was ready to propose?
Chapter 24: Discussions Part 2
Yolanda walks into the kitchen as she hops up on the counter, watching Danny put together a couple of the packages to put away.
“How can you package it so easily and not rip a package open and drink it?” She questions as he looks back at her, not noticing that she had joined him.
“I make sure to drink my fair share before beginning the process,” he answers as he gets the blood packets filled before organizing them in the fridge. He then turns back to Yolanda, crossing his arms. “What’s on your mind?” Yolanda shrugs her shoulders.
“There’s something on your mind, Yolanda.” She shakes her head no.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He then shakes his head as he walks over to her.
“The last time you hopped up on to the counter like that was to try and convince me that Brad and Juliette were the right fit for each other. I have to admit now that you were right, but that’s beside the point. Why are you up there once again?” She shrugs her shoulders.
“What if I wanted to watch the master at work at his craft?” Danny laughs as he walks away.
“The time before that when you hopped up there was to tell me that Juliette had gone to live with civilization, in which I disagreed with because I thought it was nuts.” Yolanda smiles as she remembers the conversation.
“I was also right about that as look at how things have turned out for her.” Danny lets out a sigh and shakes his head in agreement as he turns back to face her.
“So what is it this time?” Yolanda thinks back to her conversation with Juliette a week ago as a smile forms on her face.
“Has Brad come to talk to you?” Danny shakes his head no, a little confused and worried now.
“Why would he come to talk to me?” Yolanda thinks it over, debating whether to say something.
“She’s getting set to get pregnant later this mon-”
“I know that. I have discussed that with Juliette and expressed my thoughts. I still don’t think it’s a good idea, but hey, it’s her life and as long as she’s happy I support her. Brad doesn’t mean my permission, nor does he need to have that conversation.” Yolanda shakes her head, wishing that he would’ve let her finish.
“They’re going away during his off-weekend to, well, get funky and make it happen. They’ve picked out a special spot to go away and do it. He told her to pick out the spot and everything, and to make sure that it was nice and private. She found a vampire retreat.” Danny shrugs his shoulders, still not seeing the point of the discussion.
“It sounds sweet and romantic. Again, why would he come to see me?” The smile on Yolanda’s face widens as she thinks about the possibility, again.
“He wanted to do it somewhere private and special. Anytime someone is set to go away to a place like that it normally means that they’re set to propose. I wondered if he came to talk to you about that.” Danny’s jaw drops in shock as he realizes what she was emphasizing.
“Is this what you and Juliette talked about?” Yolanda shakes her head yes.
“She told me about the details. I asked if she thought he may also propose, but she completely brushed off the idea. But, why would he offer her clues?” Danny leans back against the counter as he thinks it over. He was fine with them being together. However, starting a family and becoming engaged? Weren’t they taking things too quickly?
“So if this is the case, you thought that maybe he came to see me to talk to me about it, ask permission and get ring ideas?” Yolanda shakes her head yes. “Well, he hasn’t done any of that. So to answer your question, they’re just going to make baby – nothing else. For once, you’re wrong chicka.” Yolanda lets out a sigh, having hoped for other results.
“What if I am right, though?” Danny’s eyes quickly cut to hers.
“If you’re anywhere near right, that damn boy better make sure that he talks to me first. He better know that you need to go through the proper steps, even if you’re not the same species.” He then leaves the room quickly as Yolanda hops off the counter with a sigh.
Perhaps she should’ve kept her comments to herself after the conversation.
Chapter 25: Planning
“So you’re planning to do all this during the off-weekend and end up with a puppy at the end of it?” Dawn questions as she stands with Brad.
The pair were on top of his trailer in the infield, watching the ARCA race. The pair had an added interest with the fact that Brian was running it.
Brad had just got done telling his sister the details of the trip that he was planning with Juliette for the off-weekend, in hopes of having a child of their own by the end of the year. There was a question whether that child would born in a matter of a couple months, or nine months, but the plan was for her to get pregnant later that month.
Considering his sister had become a little more supportive in hearing how much they cared about each other and plans for a little niece or nephew, he figured that sharing the details would cause no harm that afternoon at Pocono.
“That’s the plan,” he states as he glances over at her. “What do you think?” Dawn could only let out a sigh as she reviewed the plans over. She still couldn’t understand why her brother had gone off to get with a vampire.
“It sounds lovely and romantic and sweet. But, are you sure that you’re going to be fine going to a vampire’s retreat? I mean, there are vampires there and we know what vampires thi-”
“Some vampires, remember.” He then takes a deep breath, not having expected this reaction. Why did everyone always question that? “Trust me, it’s fine. She’s already talked to the guy that runs the place and he knows that I’m a werewolf. He said that was fine and he’d offer us our own personal space so we wouldn’t be interrupted or worry about that.” Dawn wanted to accept the explanation, however she had always been taught to be careful around vampires and their actions. It was one of the lessons instilled in her by her father, and why her brother’s actions continued to surprise her.
“But are you sure that you can trust him?” Brad shakes his head yes.
“Edward took Bella there when she was a human, and they ran into no problems. That’s a bigger sin against the vampire code. You don’t need to worry about me, sis.” Dawn lets out a sigh, hoping that he was speaking the truth as she wanted to relax her guard.
“Well, I do hope that you both have fun as you seem to care about each other a lot and I hope it works out for you. Besides, a miniature you would be kind of cute to see running around.” Brad chuckles as he thinks it over, knowing that led to the next question that he wanted to ask her for when the puppy was born.
“Speaking of which, there’s something that I want to discus-”
“Oh great, here it comes. You’re going away somewhere private so you’re thinking of proposing to Juliette, right?” Brad looks at her surprised as that wasn’t even on the radar of the discussion in mind. In honesty, he hadn’t even given that a thought as the pair hadn’t been together that long. Perhaps if this was off-season time then maybe, but not at this point in their relationship.
“No…no….no. That’s not what I’m thinking. I can save that for a separate day and time.” Dawn then relaxes, knowing that if he was thinking of proposing to Juliette she didn’t want to be around when Brad told his father.
“So what did you want to ask?” He smiles.
“Considering that you can’t wait to meet a miniature me, will you help babysit the puppy? He or she can’t be seen for the first two weeks so we’re going to have balance things. Juliette wants to be there and take super care of it, but when she can’t….”
“Do you even need to ask that, Brad? Of course I’ll help you! Just make sure that he doesn’t bite.” Brad laughs as he focuses back on the race.
“I still remember when you were younger. I ended up babysitting you and you had a big bite and ouch, it hurt majorly. I remember crying to mommy that I wanted to make you run far, far away. It’d be payback if the puppy bit you.” She then gives him a smack.
“That’s not nice!” He then laughs as he looks over at her.
“Being bit by my sister isn’t nice, either.” She then crosses her arms.
“I didn’t know better.” A smirk forms on Brad’s face.
“The puppy won’t know better, either.” He then watches as the field goes by, seeing that Brian was doing solid right now. “By the way, thanks for being understanding. I’m glad that you’re starting to like Juliette.” Dawn looks over and a small smile forms. It was hard to deny that fact any longer.
“I didn’t say that I was liking your girlfriend yet. I actually just like the fact that you’re having a kid.”
“You’ll learn to really like Juliette. You just need to spend some time together. You should go shopping together. You could help design the nursery!” Dawn shrugs her shoulders as she focuses back on the race. Perhaps that wasn’t such a bad idea after all.