I know this chapter is much longer than the other two, but I got writing and couldn’t stop tonight. Don’t worry – it’s worth the read.
“I’m fine, Jeff,” Chase insists as he stands up and walks towards the exit of the office.
Just minutes earlier, it seemed the emotions of angry, worry, pain, and flashbacks of the past all hit Chase in a ton of bricks as tears were leaking from his eyes in the conference room. While everyone continued to look over everything, Jeff had spent time consuling him, eventually leading him back to his office once the group discussions were over for the time being.
The security cameras at JR Motorsports didn’t lead answers to the kidnapping as she was seen on camera leaving, but not seen being taken; it seemed the person knew the placement of cameras well. Then on the flip side, the security cameras at Hendrick Motorsports didn’t give details as to who dropped the note off due to the mask in which they wore. It was now whether there’d be any finger prints on the note and looking to get clues moving forward.
“Are you sure?” Jeff asks and Chase glances back and shakes his head yes. “I could give you a lift home, or come with you wherever you’re goin-”
“I’m fine.” Jeff knew otherwise based on the tone of Chase’s voice, but wasn’t going to push the envelope. Being able to have a window of communication at this time would be key in helping moving forward.
“Where are you headed? Not that I’m worried about you as you say you’re fine, but I’m just curious.” Chase didn’t know where to go, to be truthful. He couldn’t sit around and do nothing as that felt useless. There were no leads on where she could possibly be based on everything he heard thus far. He didn’t want to go back to the pool house or Dale’s as that’d be just reminders. He almost felt like driving around aimlessly, taking his chances on finding her and letting himself clear his head a little.
“I can’t sit and do nothing so I’m going looking for her. Is that okay, babysitter?” Jeff took a deep breath, resisting the urge to say something in return to the ‘babysitter’ comment. He knew Chase didn’t mean that directly.
“Alright. Just promise me you’ll keep your phone on you and give me a call if you need someone to talk to, or help, or anything. Oh, and at least send me a text every half hour or so. That way I know you’re safe. By the way, your security guard of the day is outside waiting to come with you, too.” Chase glanced out the door seeing the gentleman standing there and rolled his eyes. He’d rather be alone, but knew nobody would allow that with everything that was going on. He also hated the restrictions that Jeff was laying on him, but knew as long as he agreed that he could get some air.
“Deal.” Chase then walks out of the office and turns to face the security office. “I understands that you’re my guard and I can’t get rid of you. So since you’re following me, I’m taking the car and going looking for my girl.”
“The chances of you finding her a very sli-” the officer starts as Chase gives him a surprised glance.
“I don’t care what the chances are,” he cuts him off. “I am going to find my girl because I can’t stand the thought of her missing or going through the hell that I’ve been through. Sure, the chances are slim with no leads but it’s better than sitting on my ass and doing nothing. Now, you were given a job, right?” Jeff shook his head as he sat in the office, watching the confrontation through the window. He made a note to offer an apology to the officer later on as he knew the behavior was way off what anybody was used to Chase. However, given everything, he understood the frustration as he’d probably be the same way if anything happened to Ingrid and his kids.
“My job is to follow you around and protect you. I’ll ride in the passenger seat for your trip around to look for Ms. Alyssa Earnhardt. To keep you happy, sir, I will keep my peace and quiet for the whole trip. I’m sorry that I offended you.” Chase was satisfied with the answer and turned on his heels to head down the hall. Though with each step, he realized just how his behavior had turned in the past several minutes. He had snapped on Jeff, and now was snapping on someone who was simply set there to do his job. He then takes a deep breath as he reaches the door to go outside, looking back at the officer.
“Look, I’m sorry for my behavior. I should’ve been more reasoning when I first met you outside of Jeff’s office. It’s just I’m frustrated, angry, and worried right now.” The officer shook his head understanding.
“I perfectly understand and don’t hold it against you, si-”
“You can call me, Chase.” The officer then shakes his head as he follows Chase over to the car.
“This is yours?” Chase shakes his head yes as he gets in the front seat. “Nice ride.”
“Thanks. Got it for summer driving around town.”
Over the next three hours, Chase drove all over North Carolina, checking some of the back roads and hidden spots to see if perhaps she was hidden there. He also went by some of the warehouse places, wondering if they were keeping her in one of those spots. The drive also included checking abandoned houses and spots that had been discussed in past encounters. As he went from spot to spot, crossing into different towns, he began to wonder if they were now out of state. That thought only made his stomach flip flop further.
He also kept the promise to Jeff, asking the security guard who had joined him to send a text message every half hour to the boss. There were other text messages coming through from his parents, Dale, Ryan, Darrell and Regan, with the security guard reading each one out loud before Chase texted a response. Chase knew there’d be nothing too personal and right now, every bit of information could help if relayed across so he didn’t mind having the guard do that. Each time the guard did him a favor, he found himself kicking his own butt even harder for his initial behavior.
Taking a deep breath as he turned onto another street, he knew about the scenario at hand. He knew the dangers that Alyssa was in. He knew the things people of this nature were possible, and the different torture methods that they’d use. He knew how they made you do what they wanted, and how much pain it inflicted on you. He also was disturbed by the fact not one person had received a text message from the kidnapper in regards to the details. If this was a ransom, wouldn’t they text what they wanted in return of Alyssa by now? He didn’t care the dollar figure they sent, either, as he was willing to accept it immediately.
He also knew the importance of the first 48 hours after someone went missing. Everybody heard the statistic that if you didn’t find the person in the first 48 hours, they’d more than likely be dead. He didn’t want to let that thought cross his mind, not knowing what he’d do if everything came to that. She had to be okay, there was no other way around it.
As he went up one of the hills on a back road, he felt the car begin to slow more and more. His eyes then fell on the gas gauge as he let out a sigh, pulling over to the side of the road. Glancing around them, realizing it was like 9 o’ clock at night, pitch black, out of gas – it had every bit of a creepy movie. Combine it with the fact that Alyssa was missing and you could say it was the perfect storm.
“Out of gas,” he states as the car comes to a complete stop and he turns off the key. “In the midst of my worry, I forgot to get gas when I left Hendricks as I planned. I don’t have any spare gas anywhere, before you ask.” The officer bit his own tongue, not wanting to freak out the person he was supposed to be protecting. However, this went against everything in training.
“I should’ve been checking knowing your state of mind and the fuel consumption rate,” the officer states. “It’s both our faults so don’t panic. There was a gas station just five minutes back there. I’ll go get some gas and we can fill up, and go from there.”
The thought of sitting in the car for approximately 15 minutes (five minute walk there, five minutes to fill can, five minute walk back) pegged Chase’s worry as it continued to write the perfect storm even more. Why would you sit alone in a dead car in the middle of a back road? However, the thought of walking alone scared him even more as something about sitting there felt more secure. There was also the thought of going with the officer – but he didn’t want to leave the car alone. Then of course they could both wait for help, but that’s just waiting for a perfect storm and who knows how far someone is away. Besides, nobody knew where he was, it was only going to be 15 minutes and he could defend himself should something happen. Why was he panicking?
“Okay, that works,” Chase states as he grabs his wallet, grabbing a couple bills and handing them to the officer. “Buy a can, fill it up quickly. Or, buy a can and just bring enough for me to turn around and go back.” The officer shook his head and left without another word.
In the first few minutes that the officer was gone, Chase felt relaxed in the seat of the car. He was busy texting back some people, reading through some twitter notifications, and listening to some music on his phone. It just felt like another calm night in his life.
However, as he sat there watching the minutes, followed by the seconds tick by, it began to hit him in regards to the situation. He felt his nerves begin to grow as he sat there, double checking around the car to make sure there was nothing around. He also jumped at the smallest of sounds into the woods, thinking there was someone coming – only to realize it was a fox.
Nine minutes past, six minutes to go, he was focused back on his phone trying to distract himself when a pair of headlights in his rearview mirror caught his attention. He immediately glanced up at the mirror, watching them get closer to the back of him. Trying to find something to clutch onto, he was ready to defend himself his necessary as the lights got closer and then stopped.
He then heard the sound of a car door opening, followed by it being slammed. His eyes continued to focus in the mirror as he tried to make out the figure walking towards him.
Maybe it was just some random person traveling through town or stopped to help. Maybe it was someone that he knew, and they could help him out. Or, maybe it was just the opposite and he’d regret every decision made in the past three hours. Why did he decide to go on this aimless drive anyway?
Watching the figure walk up the side of the car, his eyes glanced in the side mirror as he continued to try and make out who the female was. He noticed her hair first – crisp black, shoulder length. He then noticed her figure was of the slender kind, but yet the shoulders had a broad confidence in how they presented themselves. The female didn’t look as though she was built strongly, which gave him confidence if someone he needed to rid of. However, that didn’t mean he took his fingers off of the book that was lying by his hand.
“Sir?” He hears the voice as the figure makes it alongside him. He had heard that voice before. He knew that voice from somewhere. It was a voice that was forever lodged in his system without anywhere to leak out of him. It was a voice that he knew would haunt his dreams for a long time. It was a voice…..
“Get away from me!” He screams as he opens the door in a swift motion, sending the female back on her ass. He then went to the grab his phone and dial for help, finally putting the pieces together, though saw the cracked screen by his feet now from moving so quickly and causing it to go flying. There was no using it now – there went the third phone in the span of two weeks.
“Chase?” He watches as the female slowly stands up, reaching his hand for the book he had fingers on moments earlier. He just had to keep her at bay for another couple minutes and the officer would be back.
“Get away from me! Stay back!” He then held the thick book up his hands, watching the female take a series of steps back away from him into the middle of the road.
“Okay….I’m sorry….I’ll go back to my car and go. I didn’t realize it was you. I saw a car stopped on the side of the road, and thought I’d stop to help. I’ll go…” She then begins to make her way back to her car when Chase finds himself staring at her. In this situation, it’d be best to let her go so he didn’t take chances all by himself in the middle of nowhere with no phone and in the dark. However, if he let go, he may also be letting answers to his questions walk away as well.
“Wait! Demi, we need to talk – now!” She then freezes, caught off-guard by the tone of his voice. In the time that she spent with him before, she had never heard a tone that dark, cold, and full of a combination of command and anger. “I’m sure you know that Alyssa is missing. Do you want to talk about that?”
“I didn’t have anythin-”
“Why are you in North Carolina? I thought you were supposed to be staying out of state, far away from me, from what I heard at your release?” She knew it was suspicious being in town. However, it was obvious nobody told him the circumstances surrounding her return.
“Alyssa was reported missing at 4:15pm by a security officer at Hendrick Moto-”
“I know the details, sweetheart. Get to the point!” She felt herself freeze even more, even though he hadn’t moved an inch from where he was sitting in the car. She knew she had to get it out quickly or else he’d likely kick her ass. Although, thinking back to their history, she deserved it.
“My parole officer phoned me just after 4:30 when I was done work stating that he wanted to ask me some questions. I went to his office immediately, and confirmed where I had been for the past 48 hours so he had record. He then stated detectives in North Carolina wanted to question me further to just cover all basis, given our history, so I started the drive down. I just got into the state about 10 minutes ago and was headed to Charlotte to the station. As I said, I saw the car and stopped to see if you needed help, not knowing it was you.” Chase took a deep breath, resisting the urge to jump out of the car and kick her ass, hoping the punches would rid of the past frustration and answer questions surrounding Alyssa. He understood her explanation and the confirmation of her whereabouts, as if it was supposed to clear of her any wrong doing. However, he had let his guard down with her before, and knew what that got him.
“Just because you haven’t been around for 48 hours doesn’t mean you didn’t have anything to do with her disappe-”
“I swear Chase, I didn’t have anything to do with it. Since I’ve been released, I’ve been focused on trying to rekindle things with my parents and siblings, and put my life toget-”
“And how do you think my life has been since you betrayed me, hurt me and put me through that? It hasn’t been the same since!” He then takes a deep breath, knowing a rant of anger would get him nothing, especially if she did knowing anything about Alyssa’s disappearance. “What about the crime ring, huh?”
“I’ve had nothing to do with that, Chase. I swear. I have no idea what they’re up to or what happened since I told the cops all those details back then.” He wanted to keep her there, still not feeling comfortable with letting her walk off. However, continued questions were going to get him nowhere. Besides, if she was telling the truth and headed to Charlotte, the officers would certainly be able to cover more basis than he was able to with their training.
“Go. Get out of here. Keep your distance from me and don’t dare cross paths. I don’t need your help.” She then shook her head as she walked back to her car, slowly.
“Chase, I truly hope she is found soon – and I am sorry for everything, still.” She then climbs in the car and drives off into the darkness as Chase lays his head back against the headrest.
He wanted to think about anything but what happened. He didn’t want to remember the pain. He didn’t want to remember the coldness of the Canadian arctic. He didn’t want to remember the betrayal. Clutching onto the book in fear someone else would show up, he just hoped the officer would stop taking his bloody time and show up soon.