Chapter 31: Pocono
Brad’s blog and tweet inspired this chapter
Once finishing up his interviews in the media center, Brad headed out and met up with Paul Wolfe following the Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway.
It had been a bit of messy race. Brad overshot his pit stall at one point, resulting in flying crew members and a messed up pit stop. Thankfully, there were no injuries to the crew members. He was also able to fight back via some strategy, finishing the race in second.
He felt that he had a car capable of winning so it was disappointing to come up short. However, given the day that he had, he couldn’t be angry with how it turned out.
“How did it go?” Paul asks of the media center experience and Brad shrugs his shoulders. “That good, huh?”
“Well, they wanted to ask about the pit crew issues and whether there will be changes and whether we can sort it out before the Chase,” Brad fills him and Paul rolls his eyes. It seemed that the pit crew had been the focus of the past couple of weeks due to issues at Kentucky a couple weeks ago, as well. “I told them that I believed in my guys and we can overcome these issues before then. I also said that today wasn’t their fault so there is no way that this correlates.”
“Well, I guess if you try to run over your whole pit crew, it would be a good idea to stand up for them a couple hours later.” Brad lets out a sigh, knowing that Paul wasn’t going to let it go in the days that followed.
“I’m sorry. I can’t apologize enough. I’m glad they’re alright.” Paul gives his driver a pat on the back.
“I know – I’m just bugging you. We’ll get through this together.” Brad shakes his head in agreement as they head back towards the garage area.
“She’s back at the motorcoach. She got down off of the pit box with about 50 laps to go, saying that she needed to go have a rest.” Brad shakes his head, understanding. Perhaps she was taking the doctor’s advice and actually taking care of herself now.
“Well, I’m going to go see her. I’ll talk to you later.” Paul shakes his head in agreement as he watches Brad walk away.
“Brad, can I ask something?” Brad then turns back to his crew chief. “Is she pregnant?” Brad’s jaw drops as he hurries back over, surprised by the question.
“How did you know?” Paul smiles and shrugs his shoulders.
“Fatigue, not feeling so hot earlier in the day – it typically means a woman is pregnant. How far along?” Brad smiles, remembering the appointment.
“A month. Just don’t tell anyone, okay?” Paul does a ‘zipping lips’ motion before walking away with a smile.
Brad then heads off the other direction, going straight to the motorcoach lot and his motorcoach. He makes his way inside to the back bedsroom, smiling as he sees her curled up on the bed. He grabs a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, slipping into the shower, knowing that she needed her sleep.
About five minutes into his shower, Juliette stretches out, sitting up as she hears the sound of the water. She remembered taking a shower when she got back – feeling ucky- and now worried that she had left the water on.
She then hurries off the bed, rushing into the bathroom, pulling back the shower curtain in an instant.
“Ahhhh!” They both scream at the same time as Juliette jumps back while Brad grabs the shower bar to balance himself. They both then compose themselves, smiling as they face each other.
“When did you get back?” She wonders as she leans back against the counter.
“About 10 minutes ago,” he answers. “I finished second.” She then glances down, having missed the end of the race.
“I’m sorry for missing the end of the rac-”
“I’m not mad, Juliette.” She then glances up slowly. “It’s okay. I was just telling you so you knew, okay?” She slowly shakes her head yes as he shuts the water off. He then climbs out, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close. “It’s okay. I’m not mad. I get it. You’re pregnant, your hormones are out of whack and you’re going to feel a little more tired at times. I’m glad that you did the right thing and took care of yourself.”
“I want to be able to have the best baby for us both, Brad.” He then smiles as he kisses her lips lightly.
“You’re going to make a beautiful mother, and you’re going to bring the most awesome baby into our lives. Now, why don’t I get dressed and then I can tell you what you missed on the flight home?” She shakes her head in agreement as she lets him go, letting him get dressed.
A Couple Days Later…..
Brad was lying in bed, cuddling Juliette, not having to be anywhere that morning. However, he couldn’t figure out why his phone kept going off. He then picked it up, reading the series of text messages and tweets with confusion on his face.
“Congratulations?” He questions as Juliette looks up from her spot on the bed.
He then scrolls through a couple of articles, clicking on one with a curious title.
Congratulations In Order For Keselowski
It seems that the world should be congratulating Brad Keselowski and his girlfriend.
Following the Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway, a conversation was overheard in the garage between Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe. Wolfe asked the driver if the girlfriend was pregnant, and Keselowski returned with the answer of ‘How did you know?’. It was then further revealed that she is only a month into her pregnancy.
Keselowski has been dating Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s ex-public relations representative Juliette Daniels since last season.
“You’re probably mad….” Brad lets out as he glances back at Juliette, who read the article over his shoulder.
“How could you?” She questions as he lies back in the bed.
“I didn’t mean to say it that loud and I thought nobody was around. I didn’t see anybody, Juliette. We were just having a conversation. I’m sorry, honestly.” She then lets out a sigh. She could sit there and be mad at him all afternoon, but she also knew that she could trust him. He wouldn’t go revealing something like that without her permission.
“Be careful next time, okay?” She then gives him a quick kiss as she sits up. “You can deal with your family now.” She then leaves the room, set to get breakfast as he lets out a sigh, picking up his phone.
He then spent the rest of the morning on the phone with various family members, confirming the news. There was some positive reaction, however there was also some negative reaction. His dad still didn’t approve of Juliette, Dawn was still skeptical of the whole idea and Brian thought it was too soon in the relationship. Either way, he wasn’t going to let them bring him down. He assured them that he was doing the right thing and everything would be fine.
As he got out of bed and headed down to get some breakfast of his own, he sent out one final tweet to twitter, figuring the fans deserved a response.
@keselowski: Wow! Blown away by all the tweets, face book posts comments about @jdaniels88 and I. Thank you for caring.
Chapter 32: Questions
Brad walks into the office of his PR rep, closing the door as he immediately looks up from his desk, surprised.
“I have a question for you,” Brad starts as he walks closer to the desk. He then places the printed version of the article down on the rep’s desk. “Explain to me where this came from.” The PR rep takes it with ease, glancing over the writing.
“Well, the article was written for ESP-“ Michael starts as Brad crosses his arms.
“I know where it was written and the fact that Rory Stevens wrote the article. I want to know why this information is published.” Michael then glances over the article, having read it earlier in the week when the news was originally released. He was doing it simply for a refresher course.
“Well, it says right in the article ‘a conversation was overheard in the garage between Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe’ and then depicts the exact conversation.” He then looks up at Brad. “Were the pair of you talking about this through an open-garage area? Were your voices not as quiet as they should’ve been?” Brad lets out a sigh, sinking back into the chair. He knew that he was right when the news originally spread – it was his fault. Juliette should’ve kicked his butt front and center.
“Okay, you win.” Michael then slides the article back towards Brad with a smile.
“We’ve talked about this before. You can’t go having random conversations proudly through an open area. There are always ears listening. I bet that Rory was walking back from the media center or to the media center and simply overheard the conversation. He’s the type of journalist to post sleazy material and things that aren’t his business for hits, so boom – there you go. Hence why I haven’t ever accepted an interview request for you with him.” Brad knew that Michael was doing in his job in all respects with the warnings and schedule. That’s what made this hurt even more in knowing that he had slipped up himself.
“So what are we goin-”
“We?” Brad shakes his head yes as he sits up in the chair.
“Juliette isn’t due to the spring. I don’t need her going through pressure from everyone through the pregnancy and stressing her out. Truthfully, I don’t want my personal business plastered all over the front page news. Therefore, I want to know how we’re going to handle my mistake moving forward.” Michael smiles a little as he was glad to hear Brad admit that he had made a mistake.
“Alright, I understand what you’re saying. I can do what is possible from my end, but it may not stop everything.” Brad rolls his eyes, having feared that possible answer. “We can release a statement from the organization, restating that she was pregnant and you thanking the fans for their congratulations, as you did on twitter. We could then ask for the media and fans to respect your space right now with regards to your personal life. That way, it should feed off the majo-”
“The majority?” Michael lets out a sigh as he shakes his head yes.
“95% of the people will listen to a simple request from the driver and his media relations team, right? Therefore, it would feed off most of the fans and reporters who mentioned something in the media center wouldn’t be seen lightly. Now, that just leaves the other 5%. I’ll try and monitor everything as much as I can to make sure that if anything is coming out, I stop it before they can do it.” Brad shakes his head, accepting. He was willing to accept that as it meant that he was going to get the space that he wanted. In his eyes, his racing and antics at the track were the business of everybody. However, once he left the track and entered his house, that’s where the reporting should stop.
“I appreciate your hard work as always, Michael.” Michael smiles as he relaxes back in his chair.
“That’s why Roger pays me, right?” He then scuries through his notes as he slips Brad a piece of paper. “This is for Michigan. This is your VIP list for sponsors and friends and family. That’s how the list finalized with what you gave me, and then how much the track allowed. I’ve already sent Jimmy his copy at BKR.” Brad takes the list and looks it over, feeling confident in what they were able to accomplish.
“Thank you.” Brad then stands up and heads towards the door.
“So Brad, how did you end up with a fellow driver’s PR rep and why’d she leave her driver?” Brad then freezes and glances back at Michael with a deep breath.
“We met while I was driving for JRM. It just took us this long to really get back connected together. As far as why she left her post at HMS? She said that she wanted to spend more time with me and didn’t feel she could do the job needed for Dale.” Michael easily accepts with a headshake. It seemed like a reasonable story.
“Just hope that there’s nothing deeper than that, bud.” Brad then crosses his arms and glances back at Michael. He didn’t like the sounds of that, considering that there was a lot to Juliette’s story.
“What do you mean?”
“Somebody may do some digging into her background for dirt.” Brad felt an immediate tinge of fear based on those words. He couldn’t let the truth out. There was no way that he’d hear the end of it. Everybody would think he was crazy, and that’d be the end of his career for certain. Though taking a deep breath, he realized that it was probably safe. Nobody knew except Dale and Amy, and he knew that they were a safe bet to not say anything.
“She’s clean, bud.” He then walks out of the office, not saying another word.
In truth, it wasn’t the truth. However, it was all that Michael needed to know since there was no way that their story would truly be uncovered. Everything with Jason, werewolf and vampire was put to rest when he ended up dead in the forest that night.
Chapter 33: Bristol
“Solid performance,” Michael tells Brad as he hands him a drink and a towel post-race. He then points of journalists on pit road.
Brad then walks over and does his post-race interview. It was a solid night on Bristol with a sixth place finish. A strategy ploy at the end allowed him to get to the front of the field after struggling with handling and traffic. Based on their night, Brad was set to take the finish and move forward. The main thing was they had the speed and the pit crew was getting things on-track. Both of those things would be good for the Chase.
“How are you feeling?” Michael then asks Juliette as he looks over at her. She then glances his way with a sigh. This was going to be a long rest of the season.
“A little tired and feeling that morning sickness that everyone complains about, but otherwise fine,” she answers. She had spent the past three mornings puking her guts out each morning, but found that it wore off by afternoon. She also was discovering a quick nap before the race allowed her to have the energy to see the whole thing.
“Glad to hear that things are going well. Do you have any plans for the off-weekend?” Juliette shook her head yes with a sly smile. It wasn’t her plan, but she understood Brad’s reasoning behind what they were going to do. Based on the course of plans in how the announcement came out, they knew that they had touch base with the parents.
“We’re going to see Brad’s parents for a couple of days, followed by some time with my brother.” Michael smiles as he knew it’d be great for the pair to get away for awhile. So far, though, things had been pretty calm since the reveal.
“Hey babes,” Brad says after finishing up the last interview, pulling her close and kissing her lips. He could tell that the flashbulbs were going off behind him from the couple of last standing photographers on pit road.
“Nice job tonight,” she tells him before giving him a hug. She then lets go, steps back with a smile.
“Is that all that I have to do?” Michael slowly shakes his head yes with a glance towards victory lane.
“If nobody else wants to talk to you, you’re free to go,” he tells him. “I’ve got to go meet up with Joey in victory lane anyway.”
“Tell him congratulations!” Brad says as he wraps his arm around Juliette once again and pulls her close. “He did a great job tonight.”
“I’ll pass along your message. Oh, just to let you know, nothing has been said thus far about you guys. I’ve spoken with Laura, who took over at HMS for you Juliette, and she says that she hasn’t heard a word.” Brad smiles as it was great to hear that the story was dying down a little. It probably also helped that they were nearing the Chase, with some other key storylines flirting around.
“There’s probably a bunch of girls trying to get jobs and taking courses in hope of the same result, though,” Paul teases as Juliette laughs.
“You’d be surprised some of the stories that I’ve heard,” she offers. “There are some less than professional people who try to get in the business to just get with crew members and such. Teams are normally pretty good at finding the difference between a hard-working individual and a lizard.”
“Someone who didn’t post the highest grades and credentials?” Michael questions and Juliette shakes her head yes with a smile.
“Hence why the bigger teams actually check that certificates are real.”
“Well, I don’t care what anybody says, you’re amazing and I’m glad that things are working out,” Paul offers. “I’ll see you on Monday, Brad.” Paul then heads off to catch up with the crew as Michael heads the other way to victory lane with Joey.
“And then there were two….” Brad says as he and Juliette walk off pit road together, headed for the motorcoach to get their things together.
“When are we leaving for your parents?” She wonders as Brad casts a glance her way. He knew that it wasn’t the most positive feeling based on the last reception.
“I was thinking of leaving on Thursday. You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.” He didn’t want to stress her out and cause issues for the baby. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair to force her to go.
“It’s fine, Brad. The only way that I have a chance at winning them over is by spending some time with them and hopefully changing their opinions, right?” He shakes his head in agreement. He just hoped that the perspectives changed this time around.
Chapter 34: Darlington
Paul sat in the hauler, going over notes between the practices when he heard a knock on the door. He sat his laptop aside, getting up off of couch and walked up to the door, sliding it open.
“Dale?” He questions, oddly.
“Is Brad around?” Dale wonders and Paul shakes his head no, confused. It was odd to see drivers from other teams coming look for each other at other team’s haulers. “Do you know where he is?”
“He was supposed to be comparing notes with Joey, so I imagine his trailer.” Dale shakes his head, accepting.
“Thanks.” Dale then heads off as Paul watches a little confused, but shrugs his shoulders and goes back to his notes. Perhaps they were planning something for later; perhaps he had a simple question – even if it was out of the ordinary.
Meanwhile, Dale makes his way to the trailer, walking up to the side door and knocking as he had done at the 2 hauler. He waited a couple moments before watching the door slide open.
“Dale?” Joey asks confused as he looks around. “Sneaking around for tips on how to beat us?” Dale chuckles and shakes his head no.
“Even if you’re quick, that’s not what I’m doing here. Can I speak to Brad, please?” Joey shakes his head and goes up to the lounge, getting Brad before returning to where Dale was standing in the doorway. “I’ll be up in the lounge…” Joey then walks off, figuring he better give the pair their privacy, even if they were at his hauler.
“Rory Steve-” Dale starts.
“What does he want now?” Brad questions, already feeling frustration at the mere mention of the name.
Rory was the journalist at ESPN who had overheard Brad’s discussion with Paul and revealed the pregnancy without permission. Needless to say, it’d made things more difficult than normal, especially with his parents. How would you like to read that your son’s girlfriend is pregnant via a website versus hearing it from them yourself?
Thankfully, they were more accepting than Brad thought they’d be as the trip following Bristol had gone smoother than he had planned. His sister was beginning to open up more than before, and his brothers were simply accepting with the news. He knew his mom would be excited as who could resist a grandbaby? His father still needed some convincing, but Brad understood the old ways.
“I just wanted to let you know that he came around asking about details surrounding Juliette,” Dale starts. “He asked our new PR girl Laura if she knew anything about Juliette and Laura told her no. He then caught me while I was heading back to the trailer and asked me about her, in which I told him, ‘She’s a nice girl, and I’m happy that things are working out with her and Brad’. He then asked me if there were any issues with us and why she left. I simply told him that she thought it’d be in her best interest to leave with the relationship blossoming and left. I had no issue with it whatsoever or her work.”
“Unbelievable,” Brad simply comments. It didn’t surprise him that Rory was snooping around for information as that was his normal calling in the garage. It was why many of the drivers and teams wouldn’t give him exclusives.
“That’s what I said, as well – but not surprising. I just thought that I’d let you know that he’s going around trying to find some sort of dirt on her.” Brad simply shakes his head, resisting the urge to lash out himself at Rory. He knew that wouldn’t do any good.
“Thanks. I appreciate it. I’ll let Michael know and he can handle it accordingly. It certainly goes against the request that we released, so perhaps a phone call and a call to his bosses would help.”
“Perhaps, but we know how Rory works. By the way, congratulations. I hope it works out for you.” Brad smiles, accepting.
“Thanks.” Dale knew there was one more question that he wanted to ask, but was unsure. It was just uneasy to talk about the other side of Brad that he now knew.
“Can I ask you something? Rory is seeping around looking for details. What about that night and the deal with Jason?” Brad takes a deep breath, recalling that as he thinks it over. That was something that had crossed his mind immediately when Michael brought up any possibilities of Juliette’s past.
“There’s police record of a potential report so they will know that he was supposedly abusive to her, and they know that he was on your team. But as far as his death, nobody knows the connection – but rather than a wolf did it.” Dale chuckles as he thinks it over.
“Just think. You could eliminate Rory from this world and nobody would know, thinking that he got attacked by a wild animal.” Brad chuckles a little, knowing that Dale had a decent point to that.
“Just because I’m a wolf, doesn’t mean I’m going to do the wrong thing with that behavior. But, with that said, don’t test me….” Dale puts his arms up immediately.
“Woah, easy wolfy. Do I need to pet you again?” Brad crosses his arms.
“What did I say about calling me that?” Dale sticks his tongue out.
“I got to go. Greg will come looking if I’m not back soon. I just thought I’d let you know.”
“Thanks.” The pair then split as Brad heads back inside, set to resume his meeting with Joey.
Once the meeting was done and final practice was complete, he met up with Michael and filled him on the details. The publist assured him that it would be addressed accordingly, as Brad expected. He just hoped that the man was right as he didn’t need any more issues moving forward. Things were just starting to get under control as he wanted.
Chapter 35: Chase Across America
“So why aren’t you in Chicago with him?” Yolanda asks as she hands Juliette a glass and sits beside her on the couch.
Juliette had called her friend, stating that she was bored and lonely that afternoon. Yolanda relied quickly, saying that she’d be three in a flash, showing up 10 minutes later. It was great when you could use vampire air travel.
“I haven’t been feeling that energetic lately with the baby,” Juliette tells her. “It seems that I’m wanting to nap more than normal and there’s a couple of sick instanc-”
“Have you got this checked out?” Yolanda asks, instantly panicking. She knew that Juliette’s pregnancy was unique with being pregnant with a part vampire, part werewolf baby.
“Relax, the doctor told me that it’s normal. Even Edward says it’s normal and part of vampire and human pregnancies. Brad’s mom was telling me that werewolves typically curl up in a warm place when they’re pregnant. So combine that all together, my sleeplessness and wanting to be under the blankets at night is nor-”
“What about sickness?” Juliette immediately lets out a sigh.
“It’s normal. It’s a thing called morning sickness that some people when they get pregnant. It’s all about your body changing and getting used to being pregnant during the first phase. It’s normal, Yolanda. Honestly, I’m fine. You can stop worrying about me.” Yolanda then pats her arm with a sympathetic smile.
“Juliette, you know I’m never going to stop worrying. You’re my best friend. You’re practically like a sister to me. I can’t stop worrying ever.” Juliette simply smiles. “So with that said, Brad thought it’d be a good idea for you to stay home and take care of yourself?” Juliette shakes her head yes.
“Besides, he’s only gone for the day. He goes for the day, doing media appearances all around town trying some local hot dogs as there’s this new tradition in Chicago. He then speaks to some news shows and media representatives about his chances for the Chase and such, and he’ll be home later tonight. We will then head to Chicago together on Thursday morning as he has an event that afternoon and evening, with his fellow Chase drivers.” Yolanda then looks at her confused.
“Chase drivers? I’m sorry. I’ve been trying to get into this racing thing for your sake and have watched some races – it’s pretty, exciting stuff actually to watch. But, I still don’t get this.” Juliette chuckles lightly.
“So you run 26 races and then they take 16 drivers – if you win a race and you’re in the top 30 in points, as well as the rest being simply by points position – and tell them that they get to go after the championship. This is called the Chase for the Championship. They then reset the points, give them three points per each win they had and they go after the championship for the final 10 races of the year.” Yolanda shakes her head, understanding.
“And whoever scores the most points or wins gets it?” Juliette chuckles and shakes her head.
“Not exactly.” She then walks away, grabbing a book and bringing it over to Yolanda. She flips through it, finding the page that explains the Chase format. “Read this and you’ll e certain to understand the format. It’s a little more complex than you think.” Yolanda looks it over before looking over at Juliette.
“Study material. First you have me studying who I should know and cheer for with you being with Brad, and now you have me studying this? I didn’t ask to return to school! I hated studying in school!” Juliette laughs, remembering the long frustrating nights of studying.
“Trust me – this is much easier and more fun to study. Besides, if you’re a good girl, I’ll let you come with me to a race and see it live for yourself. Just promise me not to bite the humans.” Yolanda laughs as she looks over at Juliette.
“I promise….unless they’re super cute and hot and single. Anybody available?” Juliette rolls her eyes, but begins to thinking over possibilities. It seemed each of the single drivers were being taken up one by one after each other.
“I’ll have to get back to you on that. I don’t go looking for cute guys. I already got one.” She then smiles as she thinks about Brad as Yolanda just smiles watching her friend.
“You’re certainly smitten. So, does pregnancy make you extra horny? Do you do the doggy a lot?” Juliette then looks over at her friend shocked, giving her a smack as Yolanda laughs. “Oh come on. I betcha Brad loves it.”
“Why do I put up with you?” She then hears her phone ring and instantly smiles as she answers. “Hey Brad!”
“Hey Juliette,” he says in response. “How are you doing?” She shakes her head with a glance over at Yolanda as Yolanda makes humping motions at her.
“I’m feeling a little bit better now, and putting up with a crazy Yolanda. How’s Chicago?” Brad could only smile as the morning had gone well with each appearance going smoothly.
“It’s been fun. They really do make good hot dogs. I’m buying you one when we come out on Thursday. The fans have been nice, too.” Juliette hated to bring up the next question as she wanted to ignore the annoying media member, but figured it was worth it.
“Seen Rory lately?” Brad could only smile at that question. That’d been a welcome sight. Perhaps the lecture from Michael had paid off.
“It seems that he’s in another city. We have one of the other ESPN reporters here and she hasn’t asked about it. Truthfully, everybody is respecting our request and keeping quiet.” Juliette smiled as she was glad to hear that. She just hoped hat continued moving forward as Brad didn’t need distractions.
“That’s great to hear. So are you coming home soon?” Brad checked his watch and glanced at the schedule that Michael had given him earlier in the day.
“I’ve got about three more appearances that should take about an hour and then I’ll be flying home to you.”
“Can’t wait to see you.”
“Can’t wait to hug you.”
“Can’t wait to kiss you. I’ll see you then. Call me when you’re leaving. Bye.”
“Bye sweets.” Juliette hangs up and Yolanda just sits with a smirk on her face.
“So in other words I have one hour before I better leave so you can do the humpy missing-him thing when he gets home?” Yolanda questions as Juliette rolls her eyes.