The Runaway – Chapters 31 Thru 35

Chapter 31: The Aftermath

December 12, 2015

Dale walks over to the doctor as he stands at the nurse’s station, handing him the clipboard with the papers.

“Everything is filled out,” he states. “Bill looked it over, said it was correct, filled in a couple blanks and signed off on it. Anything else?” Dr. Grayson shakes his head no as he hands the clipboard to one of the nurses.

“Make sure everything gets input into the system accordingly,” he says and the nurse shakes her head. Dr. Grayson then turns to Dale. “There’s a reason why you’re doing all of this for them.”

“I care about him, and I know that right now, what he needs are his parents by his side. I also know that they need him.” Dale then turns to head down the hall to meet back up with Regan.

“It’s more than that, though….isn’t it?” Dale then freezes and turns back to the doctor.

“Excuse me?” Dr. Grayson then walks up to Dale.

“The reason you’re taking this on so heavily is bigger than what you just told me, am I right?” Dale then crosses his arms, hating that he was having to even discuss this.

“Sure, there’s other reasons.” He then takes a deep breath, glancing away, before returning his eyes back to the doctor. “I know it’s not my fault. I understand that none of this is my fault – it’s the fault of Marie’s father, Mariela and Randy. I get that. However, Chase would not have ever crossed paths with either Mariela or Randy if he hadn’t been the one that was supposed to sub for me at Daytona. When Mariela thought of her crazy plan, if I would’ve said that I wasn’t going to accept it or gone about changing her ideas on how to make it happen, Chase never would’ve met either of them. He never would’ve met Mariela that day in Daytona. Randy would never have thought of him to be involved, and would’ve sent his revenge my way. So yeah, there’s reasons and no matter what you’re going to say next, you’re not going to change those reasons.” The doctor shakes his head, understanding.

“So handling everything is your way of….”

“I’m trying to do what I can now to make things as easy as possible for Chase, and for his parents, because they shouldn’t have to go through this. Are we done?” The doctor shakes his head, yes, as Dale turns to leave once again.

“I won’t stop you for what you’re doing, but I will say that you don’t have to carry the burden. I’d also suggest speaking with someone about this that can help.” Dale then gives him a glance back. “Just a suggestion.”

“I’ve talked and talked about it. This is better than the therapy that can offer for me. Focus on your patients. Isn’t that what you get paid to do?” Dale then walks away, shaking his head.

Regan had glanced over, watching the interactions between the pair.

He already knew that side of why Dale was doing what he was doing, and understood. He wasn’t going to argue against it, knowing that it was helping Dale in his own way. He also knew that when his boss was willing to talk – if needed, he’d talk to someone – as he had done already with Marie, Steve and Rick.

Regan had taken the approach of helping, feeling that it was the best spot for him to be in at that point. Chase was going to be okay, and would talk about things when he thought the time was right. He also had Bill and Cindy to take care of him right now. That left Dale, and knowing his thoughts, Regan figured he’d direct his attention that way.

He knew there was a lot on Dale’s mind, ranging from Chase to the baby that was expected early next year. He knew if those baby worries extended, he’d be shipping Dale back to North Carolina with a promise to handle things here. For now, though, he was willing to let him stay.

“Everything okay?” Dale asks as he walks over and Regan shakes his head yes.

“Everybody took the news pretty well, and Marie says to tell you ‘hi’ and she loves you,” Regan answers. “She also told you to not worry as the baby shows no signs of coming, yet.”

“I’m not worried. She’s not due till February.” Regan’s jaw drops as he looks at his friend in surprise.

“Another little girl?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“That’s what the ultrasound says. Looks like Alyssa will have a little sister. I told Marie that she can choose the name this time since I named Alyssa.”

“Well, congratulations and hopefully she chooses a nice name.” The pair then walk down the hall, entering the room together.

Both their eyes set on Chase, a smile forming for them both. Considering everything, he looked pretty good. His color was there – a little red on the nose, but that was due to the sniffles. No visible marks that said that something had happened. In the eyes of the pair, they were confident that he’d be heading home with them soon.

“Hey buddy,” Regan states as he is the first one to step forward. “Feeling warm now?” Chase looks up at him and shakes his head yes.

“Much warmer,” he comments. “I actually feel a little cozy. I could really get used to these blankets.” Regan gives him a quick hug.

“Consider that on the Christmas present list then. I’m sure I can find them somewhere.”

“You just have to promise to stop scaring us and don’t have us chase you around the world anymore,” Dale adds as Chase looks up and laughs.

“Trust me – I don’t want anymore of this either. Besides, home is where I think I’ll be spending the rest of the off-season.” Dale shakes his head in agreement, kind of glad. A good break would be good for everyone.

“That’s right – you have a big season ahead. Ready to tackle the big leagues?” Chase looks at him with a smile.

“I’m always ready. The question is will you be able to keep up?” Cindy looks on surprised as Bill just shakes his head.

“It’s only December and he’s already starting,” Regan comments. “Impressive.” He then pulls Chase’s phone out of his pocket, handing it over. “When the police handed it to me after they found it in Demi’s apartment, I made sure to keep it charged – incase. It’s been going off like crazy for the past half hour since word has gotten out that you’re alright.” Chase then lets out a yawn as he glances at the time, while unlocking it.

“It’s only 10?” He questions, surprised. “I thought it was much later…”

“Tired?” Cindy asks and he shakes his head yes.

“I’ve been sleeping on and off all day, but I still feel wore out.” He then checks a couple of the messages, sending some quick replies back.

“You’ve been through a lot and your body is healing,” Bill comments. “It’s understandable that you’re going to be pretty tired. If you’re feeling tired, go to sleep – take a nap or call it a night.”

“We’re not going anywhere and we don’t mind,” Cindy adds as Chase glances away from his phone at them. That sounded like a good idea based on how he was feeling.

“I’m going to answer a couple more, facetime Ryan and Darrell, and then call it a night,” he comments as he lets out another yawn. “Regan, can yo-”

“I’ll handle the rest of the texts, and make sure to keep it charged,” Regan cuts him off, already knowing the request. “Dale and I are going to head back to the hotel once you’re done. I know you guys aren’t leaving, right?”

“I’m not moving till they release him,” Cindy says as Bill glances around the room.

“You’re not sitting up with him all night either as you have to take care of yourself,” he states as she gives him a look. “I mean it, Cindy. There’s a couch there. You can sleep there tonight while he sleeps. I’ll go back with them.”

Chase finishes going through the text messages, before ringing up the boys. He decided to go with Ryan, while hoping the pair were together.

“Hello?” Ryan answers the Facetime request, waiting for the video to pop up. “Hi…Oh hey buddy!” Ryan then glances away from the phone. “Yo Bub – I’ve got an Elliott on the screen.”

“Get the scoop from Bill and Cindy – I don’t want to lose where I am,” Darrell comments from his spot on the couch, focused on his game. “Best game yet!” Ryan then turns up the volume.

“Your move….”

“I guess you don’t want to talk then?” Chase says as Darrell looks away from the screen, game ending in the process as a big smile forms on his face.

“Chase!” Darrell then jumps up off the couch, flipping over the back of it right on to the ground.

“Smooth…” Ryan says as Darrell stands up, smoothing off his pants.

“I don’t need you hurting yourself to give me company,” Chase comments with a laugh of his own. “It’s nice to see you guys.”

“How are you?”

“When are you coming home?” Darrell adds.

“I’m feeling alright,” Chase tells them. “Tired, sore and got a cold. Wanna share some germs….wait, nevermind. I don’t want to know what trouble you guys have gotten into while I’ve been gone.”

“And?”

“I’ll be home whenever the doctor lets me out of here. I’ll probably go back to Georgia with my parents for a couple weeks, but I’ll be back in North Carolina for January. What’s wrong? Missed me?” Darrell shakes his head no as he gives Ryan a look.

“I need someone to keep him in line.” Ryan then looks at Darrell, surprised.

“Try the other way around. I need someone to make sure you stay out of trouble with Shelby, and keep that business to where it belongs.”

“So you didn’t miss me?” Chase questions, catching the boys’ attention. “Aww, I feel so loved.”

“Of course we missed you!” Ryan lets out. “We need our buddy.”

“And dude, no more phone calls that scare the crap out of us,” Darrell adds. “That was just….disturbing.” Chase lets out a sigh as he shakes his head understanding.

“I know guys. I’m sorry I scared you. I just hit call and well, you were the lucky guy.”

“You don’t need to apologize. You did what you had to do. I’m just glad that you’re alright.”

“I bet you have some fun stories to share about your time away,” Ryan interrupts, changing the topic up. Chase lets a smile show, knowing that Ryan was right. However, it brought back that familiar heartbreak that he felt earlier in learning about what Demi did.

“Oh there’s some stories that I can share – but you’ll have to wait till we get together,” Chase tells him. He knew that he could share the skiing, snowboarding and the go-karting. He also thought about sharing what happened on the first night, wondering how they’d react – probably disappointed. However, he knew that he couldn’t share that right now as there was no way he was telling his parents about that stunt.

“Well, we look forward to hearing your stories when we see you, buddy. Thanks for the call.”

“My dad suggested it earlier. Listen, I’m cut this off as I need my sleep. I’ll see you guys, soon.”

“Bye Chase!” Darrell and Ryan both say together as Chase smiles.

“Bye!” He then hangs up, handing the phone over to Regan. “That was perfect. Now I can close my eyes and go to sleep, feeling good.” The room could only smile at that, but also knew it was a reflection of the possible days ahead with another dose of nightmares.

“Oh…I almost forgot…” Dale lets out as he grabs the backpack that he was carrying around, unzipping it.

“I kept wondering why you had that with you all day,” Regan comments as Dale shoots him a look.

“Change of clothes for him, some of the things found at Demi’s that I felt would be best to keep on us…” He then rummages through the bag, handing Bill the wallet. “Your dad has your wallet. Your suitcase is back at our hotel.” He then continues to rummage through, grabbing a bear by the ears and throwing it at Chase, who catches it.

“I should’ve known,” he comments as he looks at the Winnie the Pooh bear, before glancing back at Dale. “Alyssa?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“She told me that I better take it so she knows that Winnie is taking care of me while I go see you. Then Marie told her that you were sick, so she said ‘Chasey get bear. Winnie help him’.” Chase chuckles as he holds the bear close to him.

“Well, you can let her know that I will definitely cuddle him and she’s right – she’ll help.”

 

Chapter 32: Confession…

December 13, 2015

The night had been a little rougher than expected, as Chase had a pair of nightmares. The first caused him to wake up screaming, while the other had him crying in his sleep. Though having Cindy stay with him in the room was the perfect solution as she was able to help him both times. They all just hoped that they eased up with each day that passed.

The next day it had brought another boring day in the room. He was in a bit of pain – back mostly – still, and was sneezing throughout the whole day. He also was stuck in his own thoughts, trying to forget everything that had happened with both Randy and Demi – more so Demi. His mind was still stuck in shock over what his dad had told him. How could she do that?

Surprisingly as they broke into the late afternoon, everybody had convinced Cindy to take a break from being in the room. Chase assured her that he’d be okay with Dale and Regan being there. Everyone told her to go for a walk, grab a quick shower back at the hotel – basically, take care of herself. She finally gave in after some prodding over a half hour period.

There was the added bonus – she promised to find a place that made good chicken noodle soup. Chase was stuck on a pure soup diet with how sick he was feeling, but hated the taste of the hospital soup as it lacked flavor. So the mission for Cindy and Bill now was to find some good soup.

Chase was glad when he got both of his parents to leave his room. His mind was stuck on a series of thoughts, mainly surrounding a pair of events that happened, and he wanted to discuss them both with Regan and Dale. They were things that he didn’t feel comfortable discussing with his parents, nor wanted them to know. However, he knew that he couldn’t keep it locked in forever.

“Can I tell you both something?” He finally breaks the silence after a bit as Regan and Dale look over at him. With how quiet he had gone after his parents left, they wondered if he was having another nap. It seemed to be the theme of the day – stay awake for a couple hours and then sleep for an hour and a bit. They understood, though, with how sick he was feeling.

“You know that you can tell me anything,” Regan states as Dale glances between the pair. While he had freaked on Regan originally for keeping Chase’s location a secret, the simple dynamic between them in the room already showed the reason why Regan did what he did.

“It does with Demi, and what happened while I was away.” Regan had figured that based on Chase’s question. He just wondered what detail the young man had to share.

“Okay. That’s fine. We’re both here for you.” Chase takes a deep breath, knowing that the reaction he’d get from them by the time he was done wasn’t going to be positive.

“I met Demi at a bar, if you want to know the truth. I met her at a bar the first night that I was in Canada.” Dale’s jaw drops in shock as Regan tries to process the thought. Neither could picture their young buddy going to a bar.

“How’d you end up at a bar?” Regan was trying to remain positive on the discussion. Perhaps he just stopped in there for a quick drink – non-alcohol, of course – before figuring out the rest of his plan. Chase takes a deep breath, thinking back to that night. “Chase?”

“Chase, what did yo-” Dale starts off, anger filling in his voice as he was set to fill in the blanks immediately.

“Chill!” Regan cuts him off as he sends a glance over to Dale. “Getting mad isn’t going to get us anywhere. Let him explain things.” Chase felt his stomach flip-flop, having predicted that reaction and immediately being worried. Based on things so far, perhaps he should’ve chased Dale out of the room, as well.

“I can’t lie to you guys,” he starts as he glances up at them. “I did get drunk that night, okay?” Dale shakes his head as he runs his hands through his hair, frustration building.

“I can’t believe this,” he states as he keeps his eyes locked on Chase. “How could yo-”

“It wasn’t my original intention! It just sort of happened. Can I at least explain myself first?” Dale then rolls his eyes as he flops down in the chair by the bed.

“This should be good. Start talking…” Regan stays in his spot, eyes locked on Chase. He could feel the frustration that Dale was expressing, and knew that he could take that road. However, if Chase was willing to explain himself and what happened, there was a reason. Regan wanted that reason before he said anything to chase that discussion away.

“I got off the plane and was debating where I was going to go from there since I had no plan on my mind. I just knew that I wanted to get away and as far away from what happened as possible.” He then closes his eyes, as flashbacks come to him, shaking them out. He then opens his eyes back up, set to focus on the story to tell. “Standing in the airport, Canada seemed like the first bet of the night based on the flights so I boarded the plane and landed at Pearson. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next, but I figured that I might as well find a hotel for the night. Well, as you probably noticed, there aren’t any real close so the walk was making me tired. I started to feel thirsty, saw a place open and headed inside. I figured I’d grab a quick drink and then head off.” Regan shakes his head, understanding. So far, so good. He was still curious how that turned into getting drunk, though.

“So you entered the bar and….” Regan leads him, trying to get him to keep talking.

“I took a seat,” Chase states. “A girl walked over and asked me if I was old enough to be there. I told her that I was 19, and showed her a piece of ID. She looked at it and made a comment about me being a long way from home. She then asked what I wanted. I didn’t want to seem out of place or tick her off that something was up, so I was ready to fit in. I asked her for a bee-”

“But yet you weren’t intending to get drunk and just wanted to stop for a drink,” Dale cuts in. “Seriously, Chase? What were you thin-”

“He’s trying to tell you that so shut up!” Regan cuts him off as he takes a deep breath, eyes still focused on Chase. “I understand your reasons. That sounds so bad. But one beer wouldn’t have gotten you drunk. How did that turn into you getting drunk?”

“Let me guess – Demi was the bartender and got you drunk because she knew that you’d be an easy fuc-”

“Not even close!” Chase cuts him off as he raises his voice, a little, catching Dale’s attention. “You’re not even close to what happened, Dale. She was actually the opposite that you are saying. If that was the case, why would I go up to a cabin with her? Why would I tell Regan that I liked her? Why would I trust her? You know me better than that!” Dale looks over and shakes his head.

“No, I thought I knew you better than that. But yet here I am sitting, hearing that you got drunk. There’s no excuse!” Chase takes a deep breath as he lays his head back against the pillow. He didn’t think it’d be this hard to discuss things.

“You’re right – there is no excuse.” Dale then glances over at Chase, relaxing a little. “I was wrong and I know I was wrong. I know I did the wrong thing that night and trust me, I don’t plan on repeating what happened.” He then takes a deep breath. “I had my reasons, though – which I know are wrong now, and I’d appreciate it if you’d let me explain what happened, please.” Dale relaxes, glad to hear that side of confession from Chase. However, he knew he wouldn’t feel total comfort till the whole story was out and he knew for sure the mistake wouldn’t be repeated.

“Go ahead…” Regan watched the pair, also feeling relived. It was nice to know that Chase regretted what he did, and knew his reasons at the time were wrong. He knew that there had to a reason why Chase was telling them, and why shouldn’t totally freak on him.

“I finished the drink – it was alright, I guess. She then returned when the glass was empty and asked me if it was my first time. I asked her how she knew and she said by my behavior. She then suggested that I should mix it up and try something new – simply suggested, not forced like you were thinking. I asked her what she had in mind and she rambled off a list of drinks. I then told her that she should surprise me and bring me a list of her choices. It felt totally wrong in the moment. It was something that I couldn’t ever see myself doing. I just knew that it wasn’t right.” Regan keeps his eyes focused, curiousity growing in what Chase hadn’t added yet.

“If you knew it wasn’t right, then why’d you do it?” Regan questions as Chase looks over at him.

“I wanted to forget,” he starts. “I wanted to forget what happened in Daytona. I wanted to forget Mariela. I wanted to forget Randy. I wanted to forget the knife. I just wanted to forget everything. I figured that for one night, I needed an escape and a way to get away. I need it so I could sleep that night without thought. I needed it so I could celebrate the championship without looking over my shoulder.” He then takes a deep breath, wiping a couple of stray tears. “I just wanted to the pain to go away!”

The tears fall as soon as the words escape his mouth as Dale immediately feels every bit of anger expressed before turn into pure sympathy, as he reaches his hand out to Chase’s, rubbing it. He knew the feeling.

He remembered when he got home after the flight with Mariela. He wanted to forget everything that happened on the plane. He wanted to escape the pain that he felt. He wanted to forget what she did to his daughter.

He remembered when he got home from going to Pitronia for the first time. He wanted to meeting Marie’s father. He wanted to forget the torture session, and having drink to the liquid. He wanted to forget every ounce of pain,

He remembered trying to find his own escape, busying his mind with other things. There was also a night that he pondered taking a couple of sleeping pills to escape the nightmares. He even pondered the same thing that Chase had done.

He knew the feeling, and it tore him apart. It tore him apart to not only feel it, but know that Chase was going through that. He didn’t deserve to feel that pain. Nobody deserved to feel that pain.

“It’s okay,” Dale comments, finally breaking the silence. “I understand. It’s okay…”

 

Chapter 33: Confession Con’t

December 13, 2015

“Listen, we both understand that you’ve been through a lot,” Regan starts as he focuses his eyes on Chase. “We both know that it’s hard and painful. But you’ve got us both here to talk to and help you, okay?” Chase shakes his head yes as he lays his head back.

“I know,” he comments. “And I know I was wrong that night. Gosh, I was wrong. I felt so bad for doing it to the point that it’s hard to forgiv-”

“You just have to let it go,” Dale cuts in as Chase looks over. “You made a mistake. Everybody makes a mistake. When you’re going through that much pain, you’re going to make a mistake – some more serious than others. So you had a little too much – it’s a big deal, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. Ask Marie and Stevie what I did.” Regan then looks over at Dale, surprised and intrigued.

“Speak…” Regan instructs as Dale looks over at his driver. “I’m curious. What did you do?” Dale sits back in the chair as he shakes his head.

“When we got back from Pitronia, I had a bunch of thoughts on my mind. They ranged from what Mariela did on the plane and the fear of losing my daughter; those thoughts could’ve drove me crazy, in honesty. Then you combine that with her father and I was a mess. I texted Stevie almost every night, lost in my thoughts, unsure what to do. He came over a couple of nights, while we texted back and forth the other nights. Do you know how hard it is to explain your thoughts when you can’t talk?” Dale then takes a deep breath as he continues to think back. “The one night, I was just upset beyond anything. I just wanted to get past it and never think about it again. Then I heard that Mariela had escaped. That pushed my mind into overdrive with theories of what she could do.”

“So what’d you do?” Chase wonders, curiosity growing. With everything that he had gone through, he never really gave it thought that there was someone right close to him that could relate. Why hadn’t that occurred to him? Beyond talking to Regan, there was the option to also talk to Dale as he’d understand the feelings.

“I couldn’t sleep the one night,” Dale recalls. “I just wanted to sleep and escape things. I went in the bathroom and I don’t know what I was thinking but I found a pill bottle. I was right close to popping the top off when Marie came to check on me. Needless to say, she got a hold of Stevie that night, and he got me in touch with the psychiatrist that I mentioned a couple months ago to you about. That helped me huge, personally. It’s made things easier to deal with. There are some thoughts here and there, but maybe once and awhile and not nearly as bad.” He then looks over at Chase. “Maybe that’s an option if you’re looking for a way to cope.”

“I’ll think about it. Thanks…” Chase thought it’d be weird to talk to a complete stranger about what happened. It was hard enough to talk to Regan, Dale and his parents about what happened. Though perhaps it’d be a good idea. Maybe coming to grips with what happened and telling a complete stranger was what he needed. He knew he’d truthfully think about it, along with knowing that he had his friends to talk to.

“So, I’m guessing the next morning felt awful….” Chase rolls his eyes.

“I don’t even want to think about that. My stomach was flip flopping – I puked a lot. I had such a headache. I felt awful – probably the worst that I’ve ever felt. Even worse than I feel today.” Dale shakes his head, remembering his first hangover and how he could relate. Though there was still an interesting piece to Chase’s story…..

“So how’d you get back in touch with bartender?” Chase smiles, remembering the following morning.

“I was totally out of it by the end of the night and….” He takes a deep breath. “I can’t understand how and why she’d set me up because she took good care of me that night. She took me back to my room and left a cup of water and bottle of Tylenol by the bed. She also left a bottle of Gatorade in the mini fridge. I actually went and thanked her that morning and that’s when she offered the trip to Blue Mountain.”

“I don’t even want to think about what could’ve happened if she knew how you related to her crime ring or something,” Regan comments as Chase looks over, shaking his head.

“I can’t believe what she did. No matter how many times everybody says she set me up, I don’t believe them. She wasn’t that type of girl. We had become great friends. We had become close friends. We loved each other. She told me she loved me and I….I really loved her, guys. How do you turn your back on that?” Regan shakes his head unsure as Dale thinks it over. It did seem odd.

“You can ask that question, but you can also ask how a parent can hurt their own child, as with Marie’s father,” Dale comments. “Sometimes, we don’t understand why they do what they do. We can’t see in their minds and understand why, even if they tell us why. I guess once she realized, they held a closer alliance than you did.” Chase shakes his head, still not believing anything.

“She knew who I was and everything when she returned,” he starts. “She didn’t do anything till that guy spotted us. Why do something then?”

“Maybe she felt her life was in danger and she had to do something,” Regan suggests. “Fear can make you do crazy things.”

“Or maybe that person made her realize that she was playing the wrong cards,” Dale adds as Chase shakes his head in disbelief, closing his eyes as a couple tears creep down his face.

“Why couldn’t she had figured that out sooner?” Regan and Dale glance at each other a little confused before returning their eyes to Chase.

“You could’ve been worst off in a trap then,” Regan comments.

“Be thankful that she had enough nerve to give that information and chanc-” Dale adds.

“That’s not what I’m talking about!” Chase cuts them off, voice raised a little as he grows more frustrated with even more tears falling.

“Chase, what are we missing?” Regan wonders as Chase looks over.

“She was my first,” he whispers quietly as Dale’s jaw drops.

“Your first?” He questions as Chase looks over at him.

“Yeah – you know, the first person that I’ve had sex with. We had sex that night at the cabin after I called you. I told her that if we were going to be apart while things figured themselves out, I wanted something to remember her by. I wanted to feel that love that she had before we separated.” Chase closes his eyes. “Why? Why did I do that?”

“You cared about her,” Regan comments. “You can’t fault yourself for caring for someone, even if they deceived you in the end. It’s human nature.”

“Why did I sleep with her?” Chase asks himself. “Why? I don’t know what came over me….”

“You loved her, and wanted to feel that love. You wanted that love to erase the pain that was there. It’s understandable, Chase.”

“It hurts though!” Dale then pulls him a hug, not even sure to what to say as he shakes his head himself. He really wished that he could actually kick both Demi and Randy’s asses now with how Chase felt.

“You’re going to be okay,” Dale tells him. “You’re going to be okay buddy. You’ll get through this. I know it hurts, but you’ll get through this. We’re all here for you.”

 

Chapter 34: Post Confessions

December 13, 2015

“Do you both promise to keep it a secret, no matter what?” Chase questions and the pair shake their heads yes.

“We won’t tell anyone – we promise,” Regan assures him. “This stays between us and if you need to talk about it more, let us know.” Chase knew that he’d probably take Regan up on that offer in the future.

“So, what happened with Demi anyway? Dad just told me that she confessed to being part of the plan.” Regan glances over at Dale, remembering the discussion with the investigator.

“She’s currently in the officer’s custody awaiting charges,” Dale reveals, catching Chase’s attention.

“Awaiting charges?” He questions. “She confessed so….”

“When you’re feeling better, the detective wants to give you the chance to talk to Demi about what happened. At that time, the decision will be made as to what charges are laid against her.” Chase then lets out a sigh as he lays his head back against the pillow.

“In other words, the charges are going to be up to me after she supposedly give me her damn reason for what she did.” He then looks over at the pair. “Do you know how lovely that makes me feel?”

“In a good way?” Chase shakes his head no.

“Why would they think that I’d want to see her face again after what she supposedly did?” dale shrugs his shoulders. He was unsure when he heard the explanation from the officer.

“You loved and trusted her – a lot,” Regan starts. “It’s even hard for you to believe it at this point what she did, despite hearing that the words came from her own mouth. Perhaps the officer wants to give you a chance to hear it from yourself so you can hear a proper explanation.” Chase shrugs his shoulders. He supposed that was a good reason, but it didn’t make him feel better. “Alright, I have to ask you something. I hate to bring it up but it’s been bugging me. Randy told the police that he pushed you in a hole in the middle of the ice with no escape. It baffled the detective when he heard that you had escaped – saying that it’s unbelievable. How did you do it?” Chase glances down at the blankets, thinking back to a couple days ago.

“I just knew that I had to get out of there as soon as I could,” he starts. “I knew if I stayed there with no help in sight, I’d freeze to death. I wasn’t about to let that happen. The hole he dropped me in – there were these two metal sticks in the ground not far from the hole. I reached with every bit of me that I could, just barely able to grasp it, pulling myself out. I then took off running, knowing that I needed to find warmth and fast.” He then looks up and over at Regan. “I did what I had to survive.”

“Well, you’re amazing – the end. That alone proves to me that you’re going to get through this and you’re going to be stronger than ever when we’re done.” A small smile forms on Chase’s face as he lays his head back once again.

“I just wish that I was feeling better already.”

“Hey, you’re not sneezing as much today, right?” Dale questions as Chase looks over and shakes his head.

“Yeah…but my chest still hurts a little,” he answers, letting out a cough. “How long did the doctor say this would last?”

“He didn’t give us a timeline. He just told Bill and Cindy that if you stayed stable for 48 hours, he could let you go home.” That was a welcome sight to hear. He couldn’t wait to go home. The decision was whether to go home to North Carolina or Georgia, but either would be a welcome sight.

Everybody glances towards the door and smiles as they watch Bill and Cindy walk in, food in hand.

“Sorry we were so long,” Cindy comments as she resumes her spot beside him. “Your dad made me go take a shower, change my clothes and take a nice walk around the local park before he’d let me come back.”

“I told her she had to take care of herself,” Bill states as chase looks over at his mom.

“Dad’s right,” Chase states. “You can’t take care of me if you’re not taking care of yourself. Besides, you were getting a little stinky.”

“Chase!” She lets out as she reaches in the bag. “We went searching for some good chicken noodle soup. After checking a couple places and hearing a couple recommendations, this is what we ended up with.” She then sets the bowl down on the little table with the spoon.

“It smells good. Thank you Mama.” He then sits up in the bed as he reaches for the bowl.

“Oh, and Dad figured you could use a cold drink.” Chase looks at the drink container with a smile.

“Banana berry smoothie?”

“Of course!” Bill lets out as Chase pops the top off of the soup. He then takes a spoonful. “Does it taste good?”

“Oh yeah!” Chase says as Regan glances over at Dale.

“Why don’t we go grab something to eat while he eats up?” Regan suggests, giving Dale a bit of a stare. Dale knew that Regan had other ideas based on the look.

“Sounds good,” Dale answers. “We’ll be back after, kid.” Dale and Regan then leave the room. Regan stays silent as they walk through the halls, heading to the elevator. The pair step on the elevator as Regan hits the button for the main floor. “Are you going to speak?” Regan then glances over at Dale.

“I didn’t want to say anything in front of anybody.” Regan then takes a deep breath as he looks over at Dale. “I didn’t know you went through that…”

“I don’t like to talk about it, okay? It’s not one of my proudest moments. The only reason I told Chase was so he could understand and know that we could talk, if needed. Sympathy, you know?” Regan shakes his head in agreement. The pair then step off of the elevator and head towards exit. Hospital cafeteria food had already been voted off of their menu selection yesterday.

“So, are you okay?” Dale then glances over at Regan, causing Regan to freeze mid-way through their walk across the parking lot. “Listen, I know it’s having an affect on you. It was obvious by your conversation with the doctor the other idea. If you combine that with the discussion with Chase, I know there’s thoughts on your mind. I just want to make sure you’re fine.” Dale knew that Regan was on to something as he had been doing a lot of thinking of his own. However, so far things were alright. He was keeping it together, reminding himself that it wasn’t his fault that Chase got stuck in the middle of things with Randy and that things would work themselves out.

“I’m fine – don’t worry.” the pair then continue walking across the parking lot, reaching the rental car as they catch each other’s eyes. “Regan…”

“If you need someone to talk to, I’m willing to hear you out. That’s all I’m going to say.”

“I told you that things were fine and they are fine. I mean it. As he gets better, it makes it easier on all of us. Once we’re ready to bust him outta this place, it’ll make everybody feel much better.” The pair then get in the car, heading off to grab something for lunch.

 

Chapter 35: Night Time

December 14, 2015

Chase glanced at the time on his phone as he quickly sent another text message to Bubba – 12:01. It was officially Monday. Based on what he had heard from the doctor so far, if everything stayed good overnight, he’d get to bust out of the hospital and return home.

Well it originally felt good to get away from home for awhile, he was even more anticipating the return home. It brought a special sort of comfort that no other place offered and one that he was set to relish in. While the trip had turned ugly in the later half, the first half had taught him some valuable lessons and ways to move forward from what had happened. He was set to combine those lessons with the comfort of home to truly begin moving forward.

The plan was to head home to Georgia and spend the next couple of weeks with the parents. The thought of seeing a couple old friends over the period was intriguing as it’d continue a verse of happy thoughts to continue moving forward. Combine that with Christmas and things were perfect.

Of course, the idea of heading home to Georgia meant not seeing Ryan and Darrell, and he badly wanted to see them. They certainly needed to catch up with the time that they had spent apart, and the fact that the pair had been through a lot with the phone call. The pair had agreed to fly up to Georgia for a couple of days to make up for the time apart before returning home to their families.

Though before he could do anything, he had to bust out of the hospital.

In honesty, he was a feeling better than originally. The pain that he felt in his back originally had subsided, while the sneezing was going away slowly. However, the cough was still there, but that was understandable. The doctor assured him that it’d go away in the next week or so, and that when released a prescription of antibiotics would do the trick.

The cough didn’t concern him, though. He was fine with that. Instead, he was more concerned with the headache and perhaps a bit of nausea that had started to show signs earlier that evening. It was concerning, but he didn’t want to say anything. For one, it was probably just part of healing. Secondly, it’d ruin his plans of busting out.

Letting out a sigh, he puts his phone up, laying his head back on the pillow. As he closes his eyes, he wished for a quiet night’s sleep that would see the headache and nausea go away by morning. He had slept well over the past couple of nights – and that was partially due to comfort in his mom being there. Everything is better with Mama, right?

He then closed his eyes, letting himself drift off into a peaceful sleep.

That sleep, though, didn’t last along as he would’ve hoped as he woke up about four hours later, feeling a bit of chest pain. He sat up slowly, taking a deep breath, noticing the headache had grown. Perhaps he should’ve said something.

“Momma?” He says out loud, squinting his eyes closed as the pain bugs him. “Momma?”

“Chase?” Cindy questions half-asleep as she sits up on the couch. She then slowly gets up and goes over to the bed, eyes settling on him. She immediately notices the signs of pain, based on his positioning. “Chase? What’s wrong?”

“Headache….chest pain….” He then takes a deep breath, feeling his head swirling a little. He then points to the garbage pail by the end as she picks it up. He then pukes in it before laying his bed back against the pillow. “I feel awful.”

“I’m going to get the doctor…” She then goes to leave when he grabs her hand and stops her.

“Don’t leave me, please…” He then hits the ‘nurse call’ button on the bed. There was no doubt by his actions that the headache was bugging him big time as Cindy could tell immediately. She then rubbed his head, rubbing a couple pieces of hair out of his face.

“You’re going to be okay.” Dr. Grayson then walks in the room, catching the attention of the pair immediately.

“Can I help you?” He questions, though immediately knows something is up based on Chase’s behavior.

“Chest pain, headache, nausea…I feel awful,” Chase states as he lets out a cough, his hand immediately going to his chest afterwards. Dr. Greyson looks up his vitals before checking his breathing with the stethoscope.

“It looks like pneumonia. It was a possibility from the beginning and it seems that the cold has spread into it. We’ll run a quick chest x-ray to be certain, and then start you on antibiotics, as well IV fluids and give you a bit of gravol.” Chase lets out a sigh. So much for busting out and heading home.

“I’ll call your dad and tell him to get his ass over here,” Cindy states as they take Chase out of the room to go down for the x-rays.

***************

Dale flops in his sleep as he hears a phone going off. He knew it wasn’t his as a quick glance at the nightstand told him that. It was either Regan or Bill’s, and based on the ringtone, probably Bill’s.

“Ugh….” Regan lets out as he climbs out of his sleeping quarters and walks over to the phone. He looks at the caller ID and immediately feels a sense of panic go through him. Why would Cindy be calling at 4:30am? “Hello?”

“I need Bill to get his ass down here ASAP,” Cindy immediately states, skipping introductions. Regan takes a deep breath, trying to stay calm and escape any negative thoughts. He could tell by Cindy’s voice, though, that something was wrong.

“What’s wrong, Cindy?” Dale sits up, overhearing the phone call as he focuses his eyes on Regan.

“Chase woke up in the middle of the night – sick to his stomach, headache, chest pa-”

“Pneumonia, right?”

“That’s what the doctor is pretty sure it is. They took him down to double check, and then will start the antibiotics. Just…get…Bill.” Regan takes a deep breath, holding his own emotions together.

“We’ll be there right away.” He then hangs up, setting the phone down. He then shakes Bill. “Bill, wake up!”

“Regan, what’s wrong?” Dale questions as he walks into the room. He overheard enough of the conversation to understand this.

“Bill-” Regan starts as he taps the older man.

“Regan, tell me!” Regan looks over and holds up his finger as if to say one minute.

“Huh? What’s going on?” Bill questions as he sits up in the bed, glancing between the pair.

“Cindy just call-” Regan starts, trying to keep his voice calm as possible.

“What’s wrong?”

“It looks as though Chase has pneumonia. A bit of chest pain, headache and being sick to his stomach woke him up in the middle of the night. They’re making sure and then starting the antibiotics. Cindy called and to update, and wants you there ASAP.” Bill shakes his head as he lets out a sigh. It seemed as though Chase couldn’t catch a break if he wanted. He then rubs his eyes as he gets out of the bed, finding some clothes to change into.

“Be ready in five if you’re coming with me.” Regan and Dale shake their heads yes as they run off to get ready.

The three of them got ready in record time, before heading over to the hospital. They stopped only for a second in the lobby to grab Cindy a cup of tea before heading to Chase’s room to get the update on what was going on.

They walk into the room quietly as Bill immediately goes over to Cindy on the couch, sitting down beside her as he hands the tea over.

“What’d they say?” He questions as she looks over.

“It is,” she states as she keeps her eyes locked on her son. “They’ve started him on antibiotics and such, and now it’s just waiting for his body to fight it.” Bill rubs her back as he glances over at Chase, seeing as he had gone back to sleep.

“He’ll be okay, Cindy. He’ll get through this and we’ll get to go home. It’s just a minor setback.”

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