Moving Forward – Chapter 21: Daytona 500 Eve

Thanks for reading and reviewing 🙂

 

February 2016 – Saturday

“Chasey, you win tomorrow?” Alyssa asks as they head back to the motorcoach together post-race. He picks her up in his arms, spinning her around as he thinks about it.

“What about your daddy?” He offers. “I think he has the quickest car and may win.” He watches as Alyssa thinks it over, immediately shaking her head no.

“Chasey win!” She then wraps her arms around his neck as he laughs.

“I’ll try my best and hopefully win, okay?” She shakes her head yes as they reach the motorcoach. He then knocks on the door, which is opened a couple seconds later.

“I was beginning to wonder where you were,” Dale says as he lets the pair of them inside.

“Alyssa figured that she’d join me for post-race interviews and we’d grab a bite to eat since it was dinner time,” Chase offers as he sits down on the couch, with Alyssa finally letting go of him. Chase’s eyes immediately look over at Elsa as a smile forms on his face. “Keeping her fed so she doesn’t freeze the world?”

“Hah hah funny,” Marie comments back, with a glance at Dale who simply shrugs his shoulders. There was bound to be some Frozen jokes. “I’d gladly let you try to calm her when she’s hungry if you don’t have food.”

“No thank you. You are doing a good job already. She’s a cutie, though.”

“Cuter than me?” Alyssa asks, with a bit of a frown as Chase looks back at his buddy.

“You’re still my favourite buddy, okay?” He tells her and she immediately smiles and shakes her head yes. “And I suppose you’re cute, too.”

“But if you want to spend time with Chasey and everybody tomorrow, you need to go have your bath and get ready for bed,” Dale adds, earning the crossed-arm frustrated look from Alyssa. “Alyssa….” She then lets out a sigh as she gets up off of the couch.

“Fine Daddy,” she gives in, walking down the hall. She knew that when it was time for a bath, she was supposed to get her toys out, as well as get her pajamas from her room.

“I wonder where that stubbornness comes from…” Chase comments, earning a quick smack as Dale gets up to follow his daughter. “Hey now, no beating me up. I’ll get Mama to come see you.”

“Still running to your mommy?” Dale asks as he looks back at Chase, earning a shrug of the shoulders from Chase.

“It’s okay Dale,” Marie comments. “Chase can be a momma’s boy. I heard that the ladies find that adorable.” Chase rolls his eyes, though lets out a sigh after a bit, earning an extra glance from Marie. “Did I hit a nerve?”

“I just rather not think about the ladies right yet.” Chase explains and Marie shakes her head, understanding. She knew that it’d take him time to fully move forward from what happened with Demi.

“Is it getting easier?” Chase shakes his head yes, which was an honest statement. There was not as many nightmares or flashbacks, and he was finding a way to reason with what happened. He knew it may be in his best interest to share with someone the flashback before the XFINITY race, but didn’t find it necessary. He believed that he could handle everything himself. “That’s great to hear. I’m glad…” She then glances back down at her daughter as she takes a deep breath.

“Marie…”

“There are times that I find myself glancing at you and feeling bad immediately.” She then looks back over at him. “You should have never been involved in any of this. It’s all my fault for bringing my family into everybody’s liv-”

“It’s not your fault, Marie. I’ve told this to Dale a number of times when he blames himself – it’s not your fault. Everything happened because Mariela, Randy and Demi made the decisions that they made. They chose to do what they did. It wasn’t beca-”

“But you’re guilty by associa-”

“And that’s fine.” She then looks at him surprised. “You’re a great person, a great mother, and you make Dale happy. I wouldn’t want to take anything away from that. I know you never meant to cause us any trouble, and for that reason, I’m not going to let you sit here and blame yourself. So let it go and let’s move forward. Let’s focus on that wedding that you’re supposed to be planning. Let’s focus on raising your children. Let’s focus on this season. I’m moving forward, step by step, and you should as well.” Marie could only smile and look back at Chase in amazement with regards to his comments. It didn’t seem like a 20-year-old was sitting there on the couch beside her with the words that he was sharing.

“Thanks, and I’m trying. Getting through this weekend is the first step in doing that.” Chase shakes his head in agreement, having gone through the same steps himself.

The conversation served as a reminder, though, in that he didn’t need to face it all alone, either. There were others that were dealing with the same type of pain, and sometimes it was okay to admit things. He thought that perhaps he was too harsh on Alan with his comments. Perhaps it was good to have the crew chief concerned and checking up on him. Perhaps it was for the best, considering before the XFINITY race.

After discussing a couple other things with Marie, Chase headed out of the motorcoach and retreated to his own space. Taking a deep breath and a glance at the phone, he dialed a familiar number that he had grown used to dialing.

“Hey Chase,” he hears at the other end and smiles.

“Hey Alan,” he replies as he lies back on the couch. “Listen, I may have been too hard on you earlier. It can’t hurt to have someone to talk to, and someone to check up on me. I mean, things could be tougher than I think they’ll be.”

“No need to apologize, Chase. I may have been a little too overbearing at the same time. You don’t need to worry, buddy.” Chase smiles as it was nice to have the understanding. That was something that’d go a long way on race day, and tonight.

“Before the XFINITY qualifying session, I was standing on pit road lost in my own thoughts. I caught a glimpse of the 88 on the door and how it’s Dale’s number. It sort of made me reflect back to last year and the pre-race in that feeling odd, and then Randy catching my attention with the plan.” Alan listens carefully, surprised to hear the confession from Chase. Though it was understandable that reminders of what happened would trigger a flashback.

“It doesn’t seem as it affected you as you were able to post a solid time in time trials, followed by winning the race. How did you get through it?” Chase recalled, remembering the crew member’s voice.

“Cory snapped me out of my thoughts before it got to the nitty gritty, actually. Then it was like I didn’t have any thoughts at all as my mind went into race mode in focusing that one lap and what I had to do.” It was a little more complicated than that, as he had followed the calming protocol as well, but that wasn’t necessarily important.

“They say that a visit back to the same location can trigger memories. That’s probably what happened. Though it proves what I said – it’s still on your mind and bothering you, a little.” Chase lets out a sigh, wishing Alan hadn’t drawn a direct conclusion. He could already see babysitter mode returning tomorrow.

“So bring back the babysitter and continue to chec-”

“Whoa, easy on that. listen, I realize that you grew annoyed with that so I’m not going to take that approach. Besides, if I know that you recognize what’s happening and are talking about it, then I have belief that I don’t need to watch you like a hawk.” The confidence from Alan in him gave him a boost of confidence. Perhaps he was right and the flashback was nothing to worry about. “We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I want you to know that if you have any flashbacks or nervous moments, let me know and I will help you. It seems that once you’re in the car and ready to go, there’s nothing to worry about. Let’s work together on getting to that point without issues and everything will be fine, okay?”

“That sounds fine. Alan, I appreciate the sup-”

“You don’t need to thank me, kid. I believe in you and I want to see you succeed. I know part of that is also helping you in other places at times. I don’t think I can even begin to imagine everything that you went through last year. That’s why I want to help you. No matter what happens tomorrow, whether flashbacks or not, we’ll get through it and have the best Daytona 500 that we can together.”

The Journey – Chapter 6: Atlanta

Thanks for my reviewers for the suggestion to start off this chapter.

 

Ryan picked up the little fluff ball and smiled as he rubbed his nose against its face.

Since the previous weekend at Daytona, he had a lot on his mind. He was thinking of how to make this weekend’s race at Atlanta much better, though also thinking about Devon. There was working everything out so she could get pregnant as they wanted, while working through the other issues that still remained.

He had turned to his teammates for advice once again, sharing the incident that happened over the weekend with her nervousness. When the teammates pressed for more details about her nerves, Ryan shared how they had been working at making it easier, though still found a couple hang-ups along the way.

“Maybe you should get her a pet,” Darrell suggests. “They say that animals can help calm and relax people, and keep them company. Perhaps that’ll help make it easier for her.”

Ryan originally scuffed off the idea, though stopping at the humane society on the way home changed his mind immediately. His eyes caught a 2-year-old cat that could only described as a white puff ball with the amount of fur that it had. A single glance into the eyes of the cat, and boom, he found his heart melting immediately. There was no way that he could walk out of there without the cat in his arms.

After signing the required papers, he left with the animal, adopted into his care. Now getting out of the truck at the house, holding the cat in his arms, he couldn’t wait to see his new friend with Devon.

He heads inside of the house, walking through as his senses immediately light up from the smell coming from the kitchen.

“I think someone is cooking a good dinner,” he says quietly to his little companion as he heads down the hall. He enters the kitchen, noticing the pot on the stove. “Something smells good. Whatcha cooking?”

“Chicken stir…,” Devon replies as she turns around to face Ryan, stopping mid-sentence as she notices the cat in his arms. “Is that a cat?” Ryan shakes his head yes.

“I know that you’ve been having a tough time dealing with everything and trying to move forward. I mentioned something to my teammates as we talk about everything, I hope you don’t min-”

“That’s fine Ryan….” It didn’t bother her as she knew that they could trust Darrell, Chris, Ricky and Trevor with details.

“Darrell suggested that I should get you a pet because sometimes they can help calm and relax, while keeping you company. I stopped at the humane society out of curiosity, and immediately fell in love with this little guy. He’s two-years-old. His name is Snowball.”  Devon walks over, looking into the little cat’s eyes. She found her heart melting as soon as she caught a glimpse of him, as well as at the gesture from Ryan.

“He’s certainly a snowball with all that fur, and he’s certainly got the most adorable eyes. I’ve never had a pet, but I think he’ll make a welcome edition to the family.” Ryan smiles as he looks up from the cat into Devon’s eyes. “Thank you for thinking of me – well, I have to thank Darrell for the suggestion, but thank you.”

“I want to help you move forward. I want to do whatever possible for you. If it includes getting a cat and taking care of him, then I’m willing to do that.” She then takes the cat from his arms, holding it her arms as she glances at it with a smile.

“I think he’ll make a great friend, Ryan.”

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

Another weekend under his belt into the season, another disappointing run that he had to face. Despite showing speed and looking like he’d contend for a top-10 finish, he would end up 16th virtue of a pit road speeding penalty.

Just like Daytona, another mid-pack finish and another day of coming short on expectations.

“It’ll get better,” Seth tries to instill in Ryan post-race, just as he did at Daytona. “We all make mistakes. It just takes practice in getting it better. We’ve made mistakes on pit road in the past. You’ve made your mistakes. We’ll go get them at Vegas. At least we know that we have speed.” Ryan just shakes his head, no smile even trying to peak through as it did at Daytona a week before.

“It just sucks,” he comments in response. “You guys worked so hard to give me a good solid car and I messed up. It sucks, period.” Seth walks over to his young driver, feeling the same disappointment and frustration.

“Just like I told you last week – I know it sucks and understand how you’re feeling. But, sulking your head all week isn’t going to do any of us any good. Let’s take what we learned and focus on this coming weekend at Las Vegas. We’re going to get a win this year and make the Chase. Let’s use this as learning and motivation.” Ryan shook his head simply in response, hoping that his crew chief was right on all accounts. Besides, it was just two races into the season. They had lots of time to make up the lost ground.

“See you Monday.” Ryan then walks away from his crew chief.

“Ryan!” Ryan then glances back at Seth. “You’re just going to walk away disappointed without any sign of hope buddy?” Ryan lets out a sigh and shrugs his shoulders.

“I’m trying, man, I’m trying. It’s just tough.” Seth could only sympathize as he glances over at Devon.

“You know how to make that boy happy so do us all a favor, okay?” She shakes her head yes as she wraps an arm around his waist.

“Don’t worry – I’ve got it under control Seth,” she assures the crew chief with a smile. “Come on Ryan.” The pair then walk away together as a bunch of hoots and hollers escape from the crew members; they all had a theory as to what the pair would be up to next.

Falling Deeper – Chapter 4: Her Childhood

I hear your voice
And I start to tremble
Brings back the child that, I resemble

I cannot pretend, that we can still be friends
Don’t want to be,
Alone tonight

“Why are you afraid?” Jimmie finally questions with a glance over at Candiss as she lets out a sigh.

This was something that she never talked about. It was a story that she wanted to leave in her past, and focus on the world moving forward. She hadn’t ever told anyone the truth, even Dom. Jimmie was the first person to bring up her childhood.

“I don’t want to be a bad mother,” she says quietly. “I don’t want to make the mistakes that my parents made.” She then looked over at Jimmie. “It seems crazy to say out loud because I haven’t done what they’ve done, but I still find myself with a bit of worry.”

“May I ask what happened?” He asks as she takes a deep breath. She knew that Jimmie deserved to know the truth, out of anyone in her life. He had been open to her about everything in his past, so it seemed only fair to do the same in return.

“I grew up in a drug filled home. My parents were always either drunk or high, and when they were both, they were fighting. I can still hear their loud, pitched aggressive voices in my mind. It’s why I rebelled. It was why I started to do whatever I could. I had to get out of that mess.” Jimmie shakes his head, understanding.

“I started street racing because of the thrill of speed, and so many other reasons. However, I think in the later years, I used it as an escape from the stress that I experience being a stockcar driver. I used it as my getaway tool.” He then looks at her, finding his heart breaking for her in the process. “I know it’s not the same as what you went through, as your situation was more extreme, but I understand your reasons.” Candiss shakes her head, understandingly, as she finds herself trembling a little in reflecting back to what happened in her childhood. It was easier to shut everything out. How would she go through in giving Jimmie the whole story?

“I think I started what I did to get away, to have that escape that you talk about. However, it also a way for me to believe that I could change things for myself. You win a couple races, you get some money in your pocket and perhaps you can pave yourself a new road to happiness. See, when I was younger, my mother had a job but she never did anything for me. The money always went to the addiction; I was just supposed to survive with the second-hand clothes, and toys that I was able to find on the streets. By making some extra cash for myself, I could get myself things, and I could find a way to get out of there.” Jimmie shakes his head, understanding. It was no wonder why she had such a hard exterior and hated to see details of her life with others as it was a hard exterior that formed when she was a child in having to deal with everything.

“I can’t even imagine having to go through that…” She takes a deep breath, debating where to continue with her side of the story next.

“Not seeing their love, not getting that proper parenting that others get, I guess I’m worried that I’m going to screw up if I become a mother myself. I don’t know…” Jimmie wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“It’s a reasonable fear to have, given what happened. However, I also know how sweet of a person that you can be, and I think that you’d make an amazing mother. Besides, I’d be right here to support you.” She looks over at him with a smile.

“It’s still strange to be talking about having a family so soon…” He chuckles, shaking his head agreement. There were times that he didn’t think it’d be possible with the life that he led before.

“It’s because we love each other so much and know that we can never be apart, ever.” She shakes her head in response as she leans in and kisses his lips. “May I ask you one more question?” She shakes her head yes. “Were your parents ever abusive towards you?” She found her breath hitch in hearing the question, flashbacks flooding through her mind.

“They never hit me and caused me bodily harm, but I guess you could say there was a layer of mental abuse. I learned at an early age that when they were under the influence, I couldn’t talk to them as they’d get aggressive with their comments in return. The things that they called me, you wouldn’t believe.” Jimmie keeps her held close, as he rubs her arm lightly.

“Well, I can tell you that none of those words are true, no matter what they told you. I can tell you that you’re an amazing, beautiful, stunning, determined, remarkable, great human being that I love dearly, and I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else tonight.” She finds herself staring into his eyes, flashbacks of words that she was called flashing through her mind.

“Do you promise to not leave me?” He could sense the fear and shivering in her voice as he pulled her even closer to her, if possible with how close they were already.

“I promise to never let you go and to always be by your side. I love you so much, and I don’t want to see you afraid, sad, or lonely.” A small smile forms on her face as she leans her head against his chest. He then rubs her back lightly as she slowly closes her eyes.

Chasing The Love – Chapter 105: Martinsville

Sunday

 

Alyssa lets out a sigh as she sits at the kitchen table eating breakfast that morning.

With Chase having a really early appearance and the fact she wanted to sleep in, she chose to sleep through the morning and had made her way over to her parents for breakfast. It was always nice when her parents would welcome her in for breakfast with them without any questions or issues.

It was even more important on days like this where her mind was clouded with thoughts. She knew that she had to make up her mind soon as to what she was doing in May with regards to prom. It seemed that her friends wouldn’t stop bugging her in asking whether she’d be attending.

Everybody said it was the not miss event of high school, and that’d she regret going years later. Besides, she could have fun with her friends, even if her date wasn’t there. However, she wondered just much fun she would have, and whether going to Kansas with Chase would be more fun.

“Something is on your mind, right?” She hears after a couple minutes of silence, glancing up at her mom with a sigh, shaking her head yes. “This was supposed to be your fun relaxing weekend. You had no school all week, and no race to worry about. Why do you look stressed?”

“To go to prom or to not go to prom,” she answers as Marie smiles, having understood the inner battle that her daughter faced. She’d rather prefer that Alyssa not go to prom since she wouldn’t be in town anyway with being in Kansas for the race. She also knew that there was another plan coming together of sorts, and was waiting for Chase to come out and ask her. He had shared with both Marie and Dale that he was saving that for a special time.

“If it’s causing you so much stress, then why don’t you forego going? You can always get together with friends and have a house party of sorts, only inviting those that you’re close with. You also know that while you’re trying to have fun that you’ll be wondering how both your dad and Chase are making out.” Alyssa chuckles, knowing that her mother was probably right in that. She remembered when she went on a school trip and how she loaded a live stream of the race on her phone because she couldn’t find a way to concentrate on the sights that she was supposed to be taking in.

“But what about all those that say going to prom is something that you’ll regret?” Marie shrugs her shoulders. She had heard many people say that, and didn’t have to face the issue herself as she was able to attend hers.

“Your boyfriend didn’t go to his prom. Do you see him complaining?” Alyssa shakes her head no. Chase had a good reason to not complain, given that he won at Darlington that night. “Listen, I’m just giving you the best situation to kill your stress. Being stressed is no good as you already have enough on your plate.”

“I know, and I appreciate the advice. I think I’m going to skip it and go to Kansas. I wouldn’t want to miss a special night if someone was able to walk down the yellow brick road.” Marie smiles at the reference, shaking her head understandingly.

The rest of the day went smoothly and it was soon race time. For Alyssa, it felt odd being at a race track without being part of any of the racing action through the weekend. Though, as she stood on pit road pre-race with Chase, there were no complaints.

She just hoped that the race had gone better.

She chose to sit on his pit box and through the first half of the race, she had hopeful thoughts that the race would end with a celebration as Chase was quick, and solidly ran inside of the top-five.

Though as the race neared the final 50 laps, that was thrown out of the window as Brad Keselowski would drive too hard into the corner, getting into Chase, causing the pair of them to wreck, collecting a couple others in the process. The frustration was evident post-race for Chase and the team, knowing that Brad’s ill-timed move had cost them the race.

“Typical Brad,” Chase comments. “It isn’t the first time that he does something like this.”

As the crew loaded the car, Chase leaned against the pit box arms crossed, watching. Frustration was just the beginning of what he was feeling and there was part of him that wanted to walk down and tell Brad what he thought of him.

“You’d think he would’ve changed over the years,” Chase hears as he glances over his shoulder and sees Leo standing there. He shakes his head in agreement.

“Maturity is something that he hasn’t found,” Chase offers in response. He had watched Brad through the years and his altercations, even getting involved in some of them himself. This wasn’t a surprise by any stretch.

“Is Alyssa around?” Chase looks over at Leo once again, this time with his eyebrows raised in curiosity. “She messaged me the other day about the possibility of still being friends as we said, and wondering why I was quiet. I wanted to talk to her face-to-face, rather than texting her.”

“She is watching the race from pit road, sitting with her mom. I can tell her that you stopped by and wanted to see her, if you would like.” Leo shakes his head, accepting that. It would at least show that he made an effort, better than anything thus far. “Consider it done.”

The race didn’t take too much longer to finish after Chase’s incident, and it ended with a finish that left the fans cheering and watching on in surprise as Karsyn would edge Ella by a bumper at the line to score the victory.

The victory was followed by a celebration in victory lane with Karsyn and her team, and included a visit from a familiar face.

“Maybe I’m your good luck charm,” Ryan states as he walks into victory lane, catching Karsyn’s attention. She then smiles as she walks over to him, giving him a hug.

“Maybe you are,” Karsyn replies with a smile on her face. She knew that she ran well when she was in a good mood, and she found herself smiling a lot since spending time with Ryan the night before. While she was fully open to giving both Ryan and Cole chances before, she found the door slowly changing and leaning more towards Ryan. “Maybe I’ll have to return the favor for you next weekend.”

“What are you saying by that?” Karsyn smiles as she pulls Ryan back close, so she can whisper the next words in his ear. She didn’t want everybody knowing quite yet.

“Maybe we can hang out before the race once again.” Ryan backs up and looks at her with a look of surprise.

“What about everything that you told me after Friday?” She shrugs her shoulders as the reoccurring smile widens.

“Can I honestly deny someone when they make me smile as much as you are?” He smiles back in return.

“It’s a date….if you want to call it that. We’ll text each other and work out the details?” She shakes her head yes. “Congratulations on the win. That was a great finish.”

“I didn’t think I was going to get her there. She was tough to beat.” Ryan smiles, shaking his head in agreement as he saw in practice that Ella was going to be strong.

“There’s no secrets as to where she got her knack for Martinsville from, though.” Karsyn smiles and shakes her head in agreement. “Although, I think it’s also obvious to see where your talent comes from, too.”

Meanwhile elsewhere, Chase was headed back to meet up with Alyssa and head home, set to put this race in the rearview as soon as possible.

“You know, if you’re looking for a real girl, I can offer you what you’re looking for once again,” he hears and glances towards the direction of the voice. He immediately rolls his eyes as he sees Emma Vitty leaning against a fence wearing a low-cut tank top and short daisy duke shorts.

“I have a girlfriend,” Chase states as he continues walking in his intended direction. He then hears the familiar sound of high heels behind him, knowing that she’s following.

“Right, you have a school girl that needs to be taken care of and babysat, whereas I’m a grown woman and can meet your other needs.” Chase then looks back at her.

“Not interested. Besides, I thought you had a crew member or two picked out to take to bed already.” He then kept walking, growing more and more annoyed, wishing that he’d reach his direction sooner.

“Well, that’s all fine and dandy. I’ll just be sure to call up Demi and see if she’s available to come see you.” Chase then froze upon hearing the name, spinning around immediately. “What’s wrong, Chase? Didn’t think I’d rea-”

“Do not ever mention her name again. Do not even think of trying to get a hold of her. If she comes near me, she knows the consequences, and I will make sure that you suffer the same as her accomplice. The whole garage is sick of your games. Do us all a favor and don’t show your face in the garage area again. Furthermore, leave me alone.”

He then continues his walk back to his awaiting ride from Alyssa, making a mental note to talk to his team officials and NASCAR about Emma’s allowance in the garage. It seemed that she was just there to cause trouble by his standards. How did she even have a hard card?

Emma could only stand there and smile after seeing the reaction from Chase, as she thought about ideas for the future. She then got out her phone, going into her contacts as she dialed a familiar number.

“Why the hell isn’t that article published already?” She questioned, in reference to the thoughts from Leo previously. “Furthermore, I think I have something to add that may push you over the edge and get it out there sooner.”

The Mysterious Puppies – Chapter 61: Daytona 500

Thanks for reading and reviewing 🙂

 

“That….sucked,” Brad comments as he climbs out of the car post-race. He then looked over at Paul, who simply shook his head in disgust.

It was clear – neither was happy about finishing 20th in the season opening Daytona 500.

“We worked so hard on perfecting the car in the draft that I never thought about handling,” Paul comments as he walks over. “It just stumped me with how loose you got.” Brad could only stand there and agree with the crew chief. They had started off the race real strong, leading laps in the early going. However, through the second half of the event, he faded as they could never get a handle on it.

“It’s not your fault – you weren’t the only one stumped,” Brad states. “We just know what to work on for the next time that we come here.”

“You’re right. It just….sucks.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Yolanda twisted the door knob after unlocking the front door, opening the front door wide open, moving outta the way. Juliette then entered the house with Melody in her arms, as Brad followed with the assortment of bags. The pair had gone baby shopping in buying diapers, a diaper bag, blankets, onesies and other things that they hadn’t remembered to buy prior to her being born.

“Does it still feel like home?” Yolanda asks as she watches Brad set everything down while Juliette carefully sits in the lazy boy, cuddling Melody against her.

“It feels even better now with having both my ladies here,” Brad answers as he gives Juliette a kiss. Yolanda couldn’t help but smile as she watched the three of them together. She always wondered whether they’d find happiness – her, Danny and Juliette – and it was nice to see that Juliette had truly found someone for her.

“If you want my opinion, it just looks right in seeing you guys back here again. However, it doesn’t mean that I won’t miss having you all day.” Juliette looked over at Yolanda with a smile. It had been nice to rekindle the spirits from when they grew up, but she also knew that her and Brad needed their own space. Besides, this would give Yolanda some extra space to perhaps convince Danny that they should take the next step after all these years.

“You know that you can visit anytime,” Juliette tells her. “But I think that you’ll be busy in your own ways.” Brad looks over at Juliette with a puzzled look as Juliette simply gives him a wink.

“Don’t worry – I won’t be passing that offer as I want to watch this little one grow.” She then watches as Brad pushes a box into the room, opening it, placing pieces all over the floor. “I was going to leave, but are you sure you don’t need a hand?” Brad shakes his head no.

“I can handle putting together a crib, followed by a change table, a swing and a highchair,” Brad tells her, knowing the list needed to accomplished. He was already kicking himself in the ass for not doing it sooner.

“Are you sure about that?” Juliette questions, knowing Brad with his ways sometimes as he looks over at her.

“I can handle it. Besides, if I get stuck, I can always call Joey.” Juliette looks on shocked and shakes her head no immediately. She could just imagine the pair getting into trouble together in trying to build it.

“I think Paul or your engineers would be a better suggestion.”

“Isn’t that why you have a pit crew?” Yolanda questions as Brad silently kicks himself in the ass. He could’ve gotten the guys to help put stuff together to surprise Juliette with a completed nursery. Then again, he was still arguing with himself on a color scheme for the room.

In his mind, he wanted everything to just perfect for his girls.

As Brad glanced up from the instructions towards Juliette and Melody in the chair, he could only smile. Everything else in his mind vanished completely. The thoughts surrounding the disappointment of the team. The thoughts surrounding the concerns over the rest of the race season. The thoughts of concern surrounding his youngsters in the truck series.

He knew no matter what happened this year and beyond, he would always be happy with a smile on his face as he knew that he’d have his girls to keep him happy.

 

The End

 

Stay tuned for the next story in the series, “A VampWolf Wedding”, which will focus on planning the wedding, the 2016 race season, and their daughter Melody.

 

Love & Work: A Combo of Madness – Chapter 28: A Date

Thanks for reading and reviewing 🙂

Congratulations to Denny Hamlin on winning the Daytona 500. That was a great move to cap off the race. I have to admit that I didn’t start off as the biggest Denny Hamlin fan, but have sort of grown to like him more through the years. Of course, he’s still someone that hits the inspiration for stories with his tales of “little black book” as confessed on national television haha

As far as Dale Jr. in the 500…..cue the tears for Amelia. 😦

With the week behind them, everybody tried to go forth into the following weekend with an open-weekend. The article was set to be the last thought on their minds as the number one focus was going to be on trying to find the right set-up and win that weekend.  Everything else didn’t matter when hey hit the track in their minds.

It seemed that others had different thoughts in looking at them, as rumblings could be heard in all directions. While Dale and Angelica both had put down the rumors in their tweets, it seemed that half of the people disregarded what they said. There were still crew members throughout the garage on other teams that continued to make comments about them possibly being together, and hiding it in their sight. There were also fans that spied, looking for any sign of a romantic relationship amongst their driver-crew chief discussions. There were fans that accused Angelica of taking the job just so she could get closer to Dale, spend more time with him and end up with him for her own objectives.

“It seems everybody is talking about our magic couple of the garage,” Kevin Meendering lets out as he picks up the clipboard to go over the notes that Travis had made, along with the numbers from the first session on track. “Perhaps this is easier than I imagined.”

“You can thank Denny, Dustin and Brandon for this,” Dustin says as he over at the engineer. “It has nothing to do with them actually being together. It’s all based on some rumors put out, followed by everybody else making their own assumptions. You are no where closer to winning the bet than you were before.” Kevin shakes his head in disagreement as he makes a couple notes, before handing the clipboard back to Travis.

“I disagree as this is only going to bring them closer together. They’re going to bond more in trying to deal with everything that comes from the rumors being spread, allowing them to rekindle the old magic and hit the jackpot.” Kevin then looks away from the front wheel well where Dustin was over towards the rear, where he found William working. “I hope you have bought a coconut bra to wear.”

“I hope you’re not going to be ashamed when everybody sees how short of a dick you have,” William shoots back, causing laughs and shocked expressions amongst the whole team. “This could actually drive them apart in frustration, though, in having to hear about it. It could bring less discussion in not wanting to drum up more stories. So in theory, it could work against them as well.”

The whole conversation caught Travis’ attention as he tried to focus on his job of setting up all the notes from the entire team for Angelica to look over before qualifying. He found himself hopeful for the pair, but also worried as to what could become of the future. What if this affected their on-track relationship?

Taking a deep breath and shaking his head, he knew that he couldn’t worry about that. They were both professional and would handle it accordingly. They had told Rick that they were fine working together, and could fight through whatever came their way. For that reason, he knew that he just had to focus on his job and do what he could do to help the team, while allowing everybody else to fall in place as it may.

It was still entertaining to hear the antics of the crew, as well as think about the possibilities of what could happen in the shop later on that year, depending how things went. Part of him hoped that Angelica and Dale ended up together as he didn’t know if he could handle seeing Kevin naked.

Though while the crew debated it, the driver and crew chief was sitting in the hauler, enjoying lunch together as they debriefed everything from the practice session earlier that day.

They talked about the single-car runs that they made, and the differences that Dale felt between them. They talked about what he felt, the practice times on the chart, what the track conditions were like, and worked at developing a strategy for qualifying.

They also discussed some things in trying to figure out which way to go in regards to the race set-up, trying to figure out the best way to set themselves up for success this weekend. The discussion went forth in figuring out some ideas on things to try during the pair of practice sessions on Saturday.

“Dale, remember how we stated that we were going to take things slow and see how our friendship went before we moved forward?” She interrupts the discussion surrounding ideas for Saturday, catching him off-guard. He simply shook his head accepting, remembering the discussion but also curious as to her direction. “How concrete was that?”

“What do you mean?” Dale questions as she takes a deep breath, thinking things over clearly. She just hoped that her heart wasn’t causing her brain to jump the gun. Like Jimmie and Denny had told her multiple times, she knew that she couldn’t bear getting her heart broken again.

“We agreed to take things slow, focus on being friends and the professional side. We told each other that we’d go into a relationship when the time was right. Was the amount of time that we had to wait concrete or set?” Dale found himself looking at her in disbelief in what he was hearing. It was as if she was asking whether they could cross the relationship barrier already. What happened to how uptight she was a couple weeks ago? Was this really happening?

“I never gave you a time that you had to follow. I always told you that it was up to you, when you felt the time was right. I wanted to go right back to that, but understood waiting because you were still hurting…” She shakes her head, remembering that pain that she felt. It was why she found herself second guessing everything that she was saying. However, she couldn’t find a way to hold it back.

“I wanted to hold back, and I wanted to wait. I wanted to make sure that it was right in my heart and to my brain, but my heart is telling me something over and over that I couldn’t ignore. It’s something that’s been there for the past week or so, locked in without an escape key.” She then glances down, before looking back up straight into his blue eyes. “I don’t think there’s a way that I can resist you any longer. I think I’ve fallen back in love with you without any escape.”

“You’re serious, right?” Angelica shakes her head yes as Dale just sits there with a look of shock on his face. He had always wondered if this could happen sometime down the road and work out for him. However, he never thought that it’d be possible. Was this really happening? “I never fell out of love for you, despite what happened. It just made me realize how much I really do love you actually. I was always open to getting back together.”

“I don’t think I could’ve ever found anyone to replace you, or make up for the love that we had. It was just special, unique, great, and every word in the book. We all make mistakes, but we grow and move past them at the same time. I think that’s where we find ourselves. You’ve realized your mistake and grown to move past that layer. I’ve realized my mistakes, as I’ve made some over the years too, and matured over the years.” Dale then moves a little closer to her, keeping his eyes locked on hers. He didn’t want to let go of the moment. He was waiting for someone to wake him up from this dream.

“So what are you saying?” She then smiles as she takes her hand into his.

“I’m saying that I’m willing to give us a try once again. I’m willing to accept your offer on a date or two ,and see where things go.” Dale smiles as that was the best news that he had heard in weeks.

“What do you say we pick a night next week and go on a date together?” She smiles and shakes her head yes. “I have to ask this, though. Are we going to tell everyone that we’re together quite yet?” She then takes a deep breath. It was a difficult balance, especially considering that they were also driver and crew chief.

“I think we should continue down the road that we chose in taking our time. Start off with a couple dates, and letting ourselves grow back closer, being more personal. Then if that works out and we find that this relationship thing may not be so bad, then maybe we can tell some friends and the world.” Dale shook his head in agreement as he wasn’t going to offer nay complaints. If he could get his Angelica back in anyway shape or form, that’s all that mattered. He also understood her apprehensions, still, but was glad that they were making steps. It was progress, and that was better than where they stood a month ago.

“That’s fine. It’ll be our secret as we see where we want to go with this. You pick a night and I’ll make you dinner at my house.” She then looks over, thinking of the possibilities. It was tough to figure out a night that she’d be free as it seemed the past couple of weeks she had spent every night at the shop working on the car. However, she wanted to put effort into this as she was really curious to see whether they could grow back together once again.

“Thursday night. I need Monday thru Wednesday to work on the car, but we can do it Thursday night before we head out to Atlanta.”

The Journey – Chapter 5: Daytona

With everything that they’d gone through, it felt great to be returning back to normal in many ways.

They were getting their relationship back on track, they were working at getting things sorted out with her, and now they were returning back to their favourite normal – raceday.

Standing on the grid pre-race, Devon could only think back to last year at this time when she was sitting at home, watching the race on TV. She remembered hearing the name Ryan Reed, and immediately being intrigued to learn more about him. She could remember her heart fluttering a little when he graced the television, followed by cheering her heart out for him to win the race.

It was crazy to think that a year later, she now stood on pit road at the biggest track in all of racing ahead of the season opener, with Ryan as her boyfriend.

Unfortunately, though, the race didn’t go as well as she would’ve hoped or wanted. He would get damage early in the race, before following that up with an issue on pit road. Needless to say, a mid-pack finish was not what any of them were hoping for on the day.

“We’ll grow and get better from here,” Seth Barbour tells Ryan after the race. “The contact wasn’t your fault, and if you’re going to have an issue on pit road, might as well have it here and not later on in the season. We have the speed, we have the ability, and we have the chemistry. We’ll be fine.” Ryan gives his crew chief a small smile, though the disappointment showed. He had hoped to be apart of that fabulous final lap battle that happened.

“I know we’ll be fine,” Ryan comments in response. “It just sucks in the meanwhile.” Seth wraps his arm around his young driver’s shoulders, sympathizing with the comment.

“I know it sucks, trust me I feel like you’re feeling. Now let’s use that for motivation.” Ryan smiled and shook his head in agreement. Rather than fret upon what happened, it was time to push harder next week at Atlanta in hopes of a better finish.

“That’s the plan.” He then walks over to where Devon was standing to the side, pulling her close into a hug. “Are you ready to go?” Devon knew that he didn’t want to stick around and dread about the finish. He was already set to move forward and beyond.

“If you’re done with the team, we can go,” she tells him. He gives a glance back at Seth, who simply nods his head. The pair then head off together, set to put the day behind them. She gives his hand a simple squeeze, followed by a quick kiss, as they walk together with a small smile. “Let it go…”

“I can’t just let it go,” he tells her. “It’s disappointing. This is one of those races that I had marked on the calendar that I thought I could run really well and win. But yet, here we are.”

“It’s Daytona. Sometimes it goes your way, other times it doesn’t go your way. Like Seth said, you’ll get them next week.” He knew that he had to keep reminding himself of that as it’d be the only way possible to get away from what had just happened this past weekend.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The following Monday after any race brought forth a series of meetings that Ryan had to attend. It started off with a meeting of all the drivers and crew chiefs at Roush Fenway Racing, followed by a meeting with just his team. The key to these meetings was going through the weekend that had just past and dissecting it, and then figuring out how to do better at the next race.

While Ryan was busy with meetings, Devon had met up with Shelby in Bubba’s office, looking to sound off to her about some things that were on her mind.

“So remember how we talked about how I was moving forward and things were going smoothly?” She asks and Shelby shakes he head yes, remembering the discussion while Ryan was busy. “Well, it’s not going as well as I would’ve hoped. Ryan was going to go out after media day and spend time with Brett and Ryan (Truex), but ended up not going due to my nervousness about being alone at the hotel.”

“How did he figure out that you were nervous?” Shelby wonders as Devon lets out a sigh.

“I sort of let it show with concern of how long he’d be, and being a little quieter than normal.” Shelby could see that, having seen signs when her and Devon separated a couple weeks prior and she’d be alone for some time before Ryan got home.

“Given what you’ve been through, it’s normal to feel that way. Your mind plays tricks on you in giving you a sense that it’ll happen again and you’re vulnerable. It’s understandable, Devon. Lucky for you, you have a really understanding boyfriend.” Devon knew that she could in no way shape or form take Ryan for granted as that statement reigned true. It seemed Ryan would do anything for her.

“It’s just so frustrating, though!” Shelby could understand that, having seen how Devon was a very independent person who liked to do her own thing. Though she also knew that Devon liked to put walls up, and it was nice to see that Ryan could break them down and help her.

“I can understand why it’s frustrating. I get it. You don’t want to be controlled by something that you feel shouldn’t control you. But it takes time to get over those fears and concerns. Do you think someone who’s been seriously hurt in a car crash becomes comfortable riding in a car immediately? Do you think someone who has been in a plane crash just gets back in the plane right away? It takes time for the body and mind to realize that things will be okay. It’ll come…” Devon had heard that numerous times from many people, ranging from the doctors, to Ryan, to even talking with other friends. She wasn’t a patient person, though.

“But when?” Shelby wished that she could give Devon a clear answer to help her move forward comfortably.

“I don’t know, honestly. It’ll just depend on yourself and how your body & mind works at moving forward. Regardless, when you get frustrated, just realize how far you’ve come from what happened and hold on to the positives. You have a great boyfriend, everything else seems to be in order. It’ll happen.”

Devon wanted to believe what Shelby was telling her, and place belief that things would grow clearer in a matter of time. However, it kept feeling like there was a black cloud over her that’d never go away.

When would everything return back to normal?