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

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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.”


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