Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 62: Daytona 500

Thanks for reading and reviewing. I honestly wanted to put off writing this because my heart just hurts for him after what happened.  Now based on the tweets that he sent out, along with what happened, here we are….

Sarina sat back in the chair, eyes focused on the TV above her head. She was thankful her brother didn’t mind her putting on the race but she had to admit she couldn’t go without watching the Daytona 500.

As she watched the event, she felt her knee bouncing up and down, nerves filling her body, as she watched how close the cars were. She watched the gaps driver dove for close up smaller, she watched the bumpers almost contact, the lines weave back and forth. She couldn’t explain why, but she was feeling nervous for Chase.

She watched the first wreck happen, feeling her heart break for Dale as she knew how badly he wanted to come out and run well. She watched the second wreck happen, shaking her head in disbelief at how things went down with Jimmie and Jamie. She watched the third wreck happen, shaking her head at to how people couldn’t believe that Blaney was pitting. She just hoped that his team got the car  fixed enough so he could get a good finish.

Then the fourth wreck happened. She tried to stay calm and relaxed, but the contact from McMurray’s bumper to the familiar yellow bumper caused her to jump out of her skin. She watched as his blue NAPA Chevrolet got sideways, somehow staying off of mostly everything in sight as the wreck happened around him. She let out a sigh in seeing him drive away, mostly unscattered.

“Easy sis,” she heard her brother quietly let out, noticing the reaction. “He okay.”

“Oh I know that he’s okay Chris,” she starts.  “But that was too close for comfort. McMurray is an ass for how he’s driving today. I’m glad that he’s done. Can you believe what he did?”

“He just help…” The speech was slightly off as he continued to heal, but it was enough now that she could understand every word.

“There’s a difference between helping and drafting like a complete asshole. I mean, why do you hit that hard? You know the chances you’re taking and there’d already been a bunch of wrecks. Figures, though, as it’s not the first wreck he’s caused.” She then lets out a sigh as she sits back in the chair, relieved by twitter and the driver communication she was listening to that it was fixable and he’d able to continue without issues. She just hoped he could get back up there.

“You nervous. You be there.”  She then looks over at Chris surprised.

“I should be there with Chase?” She questions and he shakes his head yes. “You just had brain surgery a couple weeks ago, but here you are telling me that I should leave you here alone and be there with Chase?”

“You love him. I sorry I jealous before.  It just…I no get it…I no know…” She then stands up and walks over closer to the bed.

“Hey, it’s okay. We all know why now. We all know that it’s not your fault, even Chase included. He actually told me that he wishes you the best and everything works out. You don’t need to beat yourself up about that. Everybody understands.” She then gives him a hug before sitting back in her chair.

“Still, you there with Chas-”

“That’d leave you alon-”

“I have cuzzy. I have nurses. I have friend. I no alone.” She knew that his cousins had stopped by, and knew that he’d become good at flirting with the nurses. However, there was fear of leaving him. Perhaps it was because she blamed herself for not getting him the help sooner, or perhaps blamed herself still, despite what Chase had said that night or by text message, for what happened.

“I know you have others, but I wouldn’t feel right if I was there. I want to be here for you to help you.  Once you’re better, than maybe I’ll get back to there.” She then buckles in, set to focus on the rest of the race.

She watched as he worked his way back to the front. She watched as he danced around lines with Joey and Ryan. She cheered as he took the lead with 25 laps to go. Her knee bounced, her nails got bit, her words became quiet as the nerves grew with each passing lap, watching him execute each block nicely, before watching him move up to the wall with ease to pull the pack around.

She pictured him in victory lane celebrating with his team. She pictured him soaking up the moment of being the Daytona 500 Champion. She even pictured herself sending a congratulatory text message to tell him that she was proud of him, and wished him the best. She even pictured herself typing more meaning into that message.

Then it happened. She watched as the No. 24 Chevrolet pulled down, slowing down, out of fuel. She heard the commands on the radio from both Alan and Eddie to hit the refresh as car after car went by. She felt tears of sadness, fist of anger form, as she watched Kurt Busch win with him 14th.

Glancing at her phone through the next five minutes, she took a deep breath before opening her messages and bringing up his name. Another deep breath and she began typing.

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

Chase couldn’t believe what had happened. He couldn’t believe that one minute he was leading set to win the Daytona 500, next minute he was out of gas. Why hadn’t he found the refresh switch sooner? Why hadn’t he remembered? It was a mistake he knew that’d bite him in the ass for days to come.

Stopping the car at the end of pit road, he takes off his helmet as he lets out a sigh while sitting in the car. He felt gutted, heartbroken, torn to pieces. The fact that they had a fast car, great team, and a solid Speedweeks didn’t matter to him in that moment.

Slipping the belts off, he slowly climbs out of the car, laying his head on the roof for a second before fully climbing out. He leans back against it, unzipping his firesuit slightly. He felt the pain creep into his side immediately – knowing it was due to the forces of racing, and the added force of being punted in the left side during that wreck. He bit his tongue a little as the pain increased, wanting to hide away with a pack of ice.

“Here you go,” his PR rep Morgan walks over, handing him two Tylenol and a bottle of Gatorade. It was custom to have the sponsor product in the photo, but not wanting him to take mountain dew with the Tylenol, a fellow Pepsi product would have to do.

“Thank you,” he immediately accepts it, placing the Tylenol in his mouth without hesitation. Taking some deep breathes, he knew he had to get it unwrapped and some ice on it as soon as he could with what had happened that day.

“Sore?”  He looks over and shakes his head yes. “Are you sure you don’t need to be checked out?” Chase already knew what they’d say in the medical center.

“They’ll just tell me that I aggravated it, to get some rest, breathe easy, and put ice on it. It’s just the wreck that we had in the corner when I slammed in the door there, it caused it to go up a little. I’ll be fine, though.”  She shakes her head accepting, simply taking the steps to do her job properly. The pair stood there for awhile – probably around 10-15 minutes, waiting for some media to come and ask questions. However, glancing around, it seemed that nobody cared about him or Martin. “Nobody?”

“That’s strange as everybody talked about you being the major story, and probably wanting to get your thoughts. It seems their busy with everybody else, though.” She then takes a glance down pit road before looking back at Chase. “If you want, you can go. There’s nobody headed this way, and you should get some rest. I know you need to get those unwrapped so I’d vote that you head off.”

“Are you sure?”  She shakes her head yes.

“Just message me later a statement and I’ll forward that to Chevrolet to send out.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. “Thanks for a fun weekend. Sucks it didn’t go better at the end.”

“That’s racing.” He then heads off, making his way into the hauler in the infield.

He quickly takes off his firesuit, unwrapping himself, before getting dressed. He knew it’d be best to lay on the couch for a bit, take some deep breathes with the ice on him to calm down, but he also wanted to get out of Daytona as quickly as possible.

“Ready to go?” Bill asks as Chase walks out of the hauler. Chase simply shakes his head yes as they both get in the rental car and head for the airport. Chase sits back in the seat, letting out a small groan of pain as he places the ice pack on his side. “Sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine,” he states as he focuses on taking some deep breathes.

“Listen, I know you’re upset and disappointed. I know that a loss like that is hard to take. But hey, you had a quick car and you did a great job leading that field. It’s not your fault that you ran out of gas, and believe me when I say that I know you’ll win some races this year.”  Chase looks over at his father with a slight smile.

“Thanks…”

He then pulls out his phone, seeing he has some unread messages. He opens them, looking at who sent them before bothering to read them. As he looks through the names, he notices one in particular in which he opens immediately.

Chase,

I know you’re upset about what happened. I know you’re probably kicking yourself in the ass. But hey, you were impressive to watch today. Say goodbye to the kid who knew nothing about drafting and wanted to get better because you are turning into a great plate racer. Some of those moves were badass.

I know it’s hard to soak in now, but be proud of the effort. Be proud of the drive that you had. Be proud of the car that you guys had. Be proud of every move you made today. You made everybody realize that you’re a contender, and you’re here to win – and will win this year.

I know I haven’t talked to you much, nor have I bothered to accept the offer to talk things over yet. If that’s bothering you, I apologize. My brother is getting better, which is good for me as it has helped improve my mood.  With that said, as he continues to get better, it makes me realize just how much I miss you and how much I miss us and what we had together. I want you to know that I miss you, and I want to have that talk eventually – not today, but maybe in the next couple days or week when I’m absolutely ready. I just hope you’re willing to wait and accept, and we can work things out.

Love you and miss you, your little racer, Sarina Ott.  xoxoxo

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Cabin Fears – Chapter 21: Her Excitement

Alyssa walks back into the room, smile proudly on her face, as she walks up to Chase, giving him a kiss as she hands over a smoothie.

“Bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberry and mango – as instructed,” she states as he simply smiles, sliding a touch over so she could join him in the bed. “It’s nice to see you allowed food.”

“It’s nice to be allowed something other than water, bread and jello,” he replies as he sips on the drink. “What’s up with that smile on your face?” Jeff could only smile in his corner, knowing the exact reason. He had wished he could’ve been downstairs for her reaction earlier.

“I take it somebody enjoyed what Steve did, huh?” Jeff asks and Alyssa simply shakes her head yes as the rest look on confused.

“He took my camaro and got it fitted with paddle shift gears so I could drive it,” she states as Dale looks over at Steve surprised. “It took some getting used to, but once I was, it felt amazing. You do not realize how much the thought of being torn away from racing bugs you till you’re sitting there, feeling that driving again. I will admit – I was scared and worried over that fact. I admit it killed part of me inside originally. But just those 15 minutes today were enough to regenerate everything.” Dale glances at Marie, remembering their discussion from the other night at the hotel. He knew there were some feelings going on for his daughter. He just didn’t realize Steve would solve their problems before they could be addressed.

“I also told her that we could possibly try it out with a racecar,” Steve continues, catching a mix of curious and surprised glances from the room. “If Dale would let us use one of the XFINITY cars, I could get the same technology put in that and see if she can run it, and then if NASCAR would approve it.” They thought caused a mixed of emotions throughout the room, ranging from fear to surprise to uncertainty to excitement. Everybody had their own opinions on Alyssa’s situation and what to do moving forward.

“What are your thoughts on this, Alyssa?” Bill asks as he looks towards her. It seemed fair to make the person who this affected most get her say.

“I can’t deny it – racing is my life, it’s my dream, it’s everything that I’ve wanted to do,” she said. “I grew up wanting to drive a stock car. I grew up wanting to be a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion. I grew up wanting to win at Darlington, Martinsville, Bristol, and one day the Daytona 500.” She then looks at Chase with a smile, before glancing over towards her father. “I grew up wanting to be a racecar driver and just as successful as the two people who mean the most to me – my father, and my boyfriend. It means everything to me and certainly being torn away from that sooner than getting my real shot at it would hurt. It’s why I know that I want to take the sho-”

“But sweetie, do you realize what you’re saying?”  Marie asks and Alyssa shakes her head yes as she then turns to her mother.

“I know it’s going to be tough. I know it’s going to be a test of strength and durability and whether I can simply handle driving with just one hand. I know there are people out there who do it at the short track level – there was this one guy I saw who always kept his right hand on the roll bar, just his left hand on the wheel.  I believe that I can do it. I also know there’s a challenge in getting NASCAR’s approval because this is out of the box of normal. However, I want to take a chance and see if I can do it before I close that chapter in my life, if I need to.” She then glances at Steve with a slight smile. “I don’t want to be stuck asking myself what if down the road.”

“I just don’t know if I’m comfortable with this….”

“Mom, it’s my life and my decis-”

“You’re my daughter, though. I care about you. I don’t want you to get hurt.  I don’t want you to do something that could cause more pain. It’s my job to worry about you. I mean, are you absolutely certain?” Alyssa knew there were no doubts on that, having thought about it since her discussion with Steve.

“Trust me, I’m absolutely 100% certain. Besides, if NASCAR doesn’t accept, there’s always sports car or open-wheel.” Marie’s eyes then widen, as she wanted her children to have nothing to do with open-wheel cars. Stock cars were scary and one thing, but open-wheel was whole other animal.

“Dale, help me, please?” Dale takes a deep breath, thinking of where he could start. He knew that he couldn’t deny his daughter the opportunity, having been in her shoes in a way before. He had his fears just as much as Marie, but that was part of being a parent. The racecar driver in him knew otherwise.

“There’s risk and there’s worries, but we don’t know anything till we take a chance,” Dale starts. “It’s worth looking into to see if it’s possible and go from there. If the test goes well, I don’t see why not. However if the test doesn’t go well, at least we know whether than questioning it.” He then looks over at Steve, knowing he was waiting for the seal of approval. “You have my permission to use one of the cars. Just let Kevin Meendering know what you’re doing, and he can tell you what chassis you can use.”

“Are you serious?”  Marie questions as Dale looks over at his wife, shaking his head yes.

“You heard the conversation that we had when racing was almost ripped away from me. You heard my thoughts on the situation last night, and you heard her thoughts today.  There’s always risk in racing. Let her at least see where she stands before you pull the plug, please.”

“It’s not like we’re jumping in without evaluation either,” Steve comments as his eyes lock on Marie.  He hated to leave it with her being disapproving. However, he figured that’d be solved once they were at the test together as he believed in Alyssa, as he always did.

“I can tell you that if it does work out for you, safely, I’d race with you any day on any track because I know that you can do it and win,” Chase tells her before he gives her a kiss. “I just hope you don’t a bump and run for the win at Bristol.”

“I just hope you don’t mind a door slam for the win at Martinsville,” she replies with a smirk in return. It was their normal teasing back and forth as they had done throughout the whole summer.

“I just worry about everything else, though, in everything that happened,” Marie adds, catching their attention.

“I can cover that knowing it from experience,” Chase starts as he takes a deep breath.  “In a racer’s mind, those two become separate. You’re able to throw everything into a bucket and forget about it for those hours that you’re driving; it’s why racing can sometimes be our escape, and trust me – I used it a lot before. But knowing her, the way she is, and her parents, she’ll work through everything that happened in between those weekends to where she can go each day without a single fear. If I was able to do it, then I know that she can.”

“Just don’t forget about doing that yourself,” Cindy reminds him, remembering the runaway stunt he pulled. Chase lets out a sigh and shakes his head, understanding. He knew that fact. He just wasn’t looking forward to it as there were lots of thoughts swirling through his mind already.

“I know, trust me.  I’ll do what I got to do, momma.”

The conversation entered the mind of Alyssa as she laid there, head on Chase’s shoulder. She hadn’t thought about much in regards to what happened. She was focused on getting herself feeling better, along with him. She wanted them to both get out of there and home as soon as possible.

Though as she let those 72 hours flood through her mind, she felt the fear, anger, sadness, worry that everybody had talked about around her. She felt the emotions that Chase had discussed going through in his instances. She felt others in her mind.

She began to wonder whether she could make them all go away, like Chase had talked about that. How do you forget that fear you felt? How do you forget the pain? How do you go forward like normal and nothing happened?

Feeling him against her, she wasn’t sure how to answer those questions, but believed that she’d make it through as long as she had him by her side.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 61: The Duels

You had to know this chapter was coming 😉 Thanks for the reviews.

Chase glances out the window as he watches the rain continue to fall for the second straight day. In a way, it matched his attitude.

He had to admit the simple text message on Sunday was nice from Sarina. At that moment he had received it, it had caused a smile and hope to surround him. Though now sitting four days later, staring at his phone and seeing no more messages, the hope began to fade.

What if she had done that just to be polite?  What if she had changed her mind? What if they’d never get back to where they were before?

As he finds himself sitting in the team hauler staring out the window once again, he could only think back to what he imagined the season being like.  He pictured them hanging out at the track every weekend, telling each other jokes, picking on each other. He pictured some sweet moments where they’d be able to chat about everything under the sun. He pictured her winning some races, and he being in victory lane to celebrate with her. He pictured her being in victory lane when he’d win some races. He pictured himself getting her advice ahead some of the events. He even pictured racing door-to-door with her at Atlanta next week when he gets the chance to drive the truck for GMS Racing. He had to admit that part of the reason he had sought out running a couple truck races this year was to race against her.

Letting out a sigh, he wondered if perhaps it was time to let go. They always said in every break-up, you come to a time when you realize you’re getting nowhere and it’s time to move forward. Maybe that’s what he needed to do. Rather than focusing on her and what could be, he should focus on what could be of his season and the team. He could also focus on having some fun times with his best friends, letting Ryan entertain him with all the ideas he had last year that they never fulfilled due to the busy schedule.

“You look like you’re lost in your thoughts,” he hears a voice, catching his attention as he looks back to see his dad standing there.

“Perhaps I am,” he answers as he glances back out the window. It was nice to see the rain letting up, and track drying nearing completion with the trucks heading out for their first session. Letting out a sigh, he knew that she should’ve been behind the wheel of the No. 18 truck that afternoon.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Chase shakes his head no, knowing the discussion would get him nowhere. The only thing everybody would suggest is what Jared said – calling Sarina himself and pushing the discussion subject. However, he still couldn’t let himself do that because he didn’t want to push her away. But the thought lingered as perhaps by not expressing enough feelings, he was indeed letting her slip away. “That’s fine. I totally understand you wanting to keep your feelings about Sarina to yourself.”

“How did you know that what I was thinking about? What if I was thinking about tonight?” Bill knew his son well, and knew racing was always on Chase’s mind. Bill could just see Chase trying to make sure he had the right strategy to do well in the Duel, pondering over the lack of practice, and seeing if he could teach himself anything from the Clash. However, he knew by the look on his face that the thoughts didn’t surround racing.

“Because I’m your father and I know you well. Based on what you told Cindy and I the other night, and based on the look on your face, I’m guessing you’re thinking about her. You’re wondering if she’ll truly have the discussion you want to have, and whether you both have a future.” Chase then looks away the window at her father, perhaps changing his mind on the discussion subject. Perhaps his father could make him feel better. Perhaps they could erase the topic from his mind so he could focus on racing that night.

“Do you see a future for Sarina and I, honestly?” Bill didn’t know how to answer the question. He had to admit that a lot had happened between the pair, and wasn’t confident based on what he had seen of Sarina thus far. Her shady ways connected with the fact of hiding away, not wanting to confess further to find the barrier that they needed to close. Besides, she probably worried there’d be no comfort ever due to Chase’s past with Chris, which Bill had to admit worried him, too.

“Anything is possible, Chase. It’s all up to what she decides to do and how she chooses to handle the situation. I don’t know her that well to see whether she can put everything aside enough to hear you out, and then even at that point accept it. You saw hope in the text message, so that’s a start. Perhaps once her brother continues to get even more better, that text message will turn into messages, followed by the proper conversation you’re awaiting for.” Chase had to admit that his father was right in some of his comments. Maybe the text message was a way to say that I’m still keeping track of you and a request for patience – without those exact words.

“I guess. I don’t know. I just hate this agonizing over waiting. I can’t stand the distance.” Bill felt her heart break in hearing those words, especially if his gut was right about Sarina.

“I totally understand that, but use it to your advantage. Let it push you harder to succeed to take your mind off of it. Let it push you to really be clear with her when the door of opportunity opens.” Bill then stands up, walking over to the cupboard as he opens the door. “Now, Greg Morin says he’s busy and caught up with some of the crew members as there’s something going on there. So he asked if I’d help you get ready.”  Chase shakes his head accepting, as he takes a deep breath to clear his mind.

There was no more thinking about Sarina. He had a race to win.

He went through the usual steps of getting ready, as Greg had set them last year with the same rib injury, and repeated this year once again as they had worked well. He took the Tylenol before slipping his t-shirt off and standing there, arms raised in the air.

“Ugh,” he lets out as he reaches up, catching Bill’s attention. “It hurts..a little.”

“Is that why they advise stretching or reaching till healed?” Bill wonders and Chase shakes his head yes, taking a couple calming deep breathes.  He remains in the position as he watches his dad tightly wrap him, pulling the first wrap around a little tighter before allowing him to continue. “Are you sure?”

“It’s all about possible precaution in case something happens. It needs to be tightly wrapped so if I hit a wall, it doesn’t make it worse.” Bill wasn’t set to argue, having seen it work last year – thankfully. He just hoped that Alan had figured out what was going on with the back ends getting loose, and they didn’t repeat what Johnson did in the Clash.  “As soon as the Duel is done, I need to get his unwrapped – before media, anything.”

“Just make sure to tell Morgan.” Chase shakes his head, knowing he was referring to his new PR rep. Once the wrapping was done, he slipped on his firesuit as normal before glancing at himself in the mirror. As it had every other time, everything looked smooth and nobody could’ve been able to tell what was going on otherwise. “You know you don’t  have to…..”

“You sound like mom right now.” Bill lets out a sigh as he places his hands on Chase’s shoulders.

“You’re only a week and a half removed from what happened, you have a lot on your mind, and there seems to be a spin issue for the Hendrick cars. Do you blame me?” Chase chuckles as he had to admit his father was right. However, he knew he was doing the right thing in running the race that night.

“Just like last year, I need to run it. I need to learn and get better at this drafting thing. Look at the Clash and how I did there. Look at last year. The only way to learn is by being out there – you know that. As far as the spin thing, that’s another thing. It’s a risk but I need to make sure that’s been solved and Alan is on the right track. You trust me, right?” Bill shakes his head yes as he steps back a bit.

“Of course I do. I just thought I’d remind you of that fact, incase.” Chase smiles as he glances in the mirror once again before look at his dad.

“I’ll be fine, trust me.” He then takes a couple more deep breathes, before grabbing the sharpie and hat off the table and heading out of the trailer, set to head to the driver’s meeting.

For a quick second, he understood the worries and everything being thrown his way. He remembered the pain he felt last year, and that was two weeks removed with some calm time. He remembered the pain that he felt this past Sunday in the Clash, and how it took a bit after in the trailer to get himself not sore anymore. The pain was more than he remembered last year – but yet still a light, lingering pain that he could put aside for the race distance. He just hoped that remained true as the distances got longer, especially Sunday.

After attending the driver’s meeting, he made his way out to pit road, going through the normal range of motions – TV interview, driver introductions, VIP photos, and radio interview. It paid to have been here before as he was used to everything that came with being the pole sitter for the first Duel. The only difference this year was he didn’t have his teammates coming to him with advice like they did last year. Guess that was the difference in no longer being the rookie.

He then stood there for opening ceremonies, feeling the bit of loneliness he felt earlier crept into his mind in not having Sarina to wrap his arm around during the national anthem. However, the feeling didn’t remain for long as he felt race mode kicking in as soon the anthem was over and it was time to get ready for the night ahead. He gave his parents each a hug, followed by a hug for the boss and climbing in the car.

Throughout the course of the race, he went through the learning curve that he wanted to put himself through. He led at the beginning, before being shuffled to near the back of the field in the process of picking the wrong lane. Another lesson learned.

He tried to make the bottom work to his advantage following the caution, but it didn’t seem to move with the back log caused. Of course, hearing from Eddie who was in the line answered why. Lesson learned.

As the race neared the final stretch, he was able to make up some ground, picking up the top line for a bit before returning to the bottom. He had begun to realize how lined formed, and the transfer of energy that Jimmie had spoke of previously. It led him to the front of Duel, and in the right timed move, he was able to put the No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet out front.

As the laps continue to count down, he felt charges from his left and right with drivers tying to make runs on him – from Jamie McMurray on one side, to Brad Keselowski on the other side. Each time, he was able to make the block necessary – based on Eddie’s comment, and perhaps a bit of his own knowledge.

Every move paid off because as the checkered flag flew, he was the first to cross – officially a winner.

“Wooohooo!” He lets out on the radio immediately. “Way to go guys! Thanks for giving me a great car, and Eddie – thanks.”

“Great driving tonight, Chase!” Eddie tells his driver back in return.

“Heck of a job, kid!” Alan adds as he high-fives the crew members on pit road.

There was no time post-race to think about the pain, Sarina, or unwrapping himself as originally intended. There was part of him later that said he should’ve been relaxing, per orders to take care of himself, but that was the last thing on his mind in the moment. Instead, he was caught up in the moment of victory lane – speaking to TV, celebrating with the team, taking the necessary photos, speaking in the media center.

Everything took it’s time, though eventually he found himself back in the familiar trailer. Undoing the firesuit, letting it fall as he undid the wrapping, he began to feel the familiar pain as he laid back on the couch set to watch the second Duel. Going through the breathing exercises that he was told to follow while placing an ice pack on his side, he felt the pain ease as he focused on the happenings in the second event.

He took notice of how Dale controlled the lanes. He took notice of how Dale was able to get the runs to the front. He also took notice of how Denny pulled off the winning move, marking that in the playbook so he knew what to expect in the final laps on Sunday.

Letting out a sigh, having eased most of the pain by the end of the event between the exercises and ice, he could only think about the next six to eight weeks and how the pain would continue. He could only hope that like last time, it eased off more and more with each week.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 20: The Surprise

For those who were trying to figure it out last chapter – Elladee Crafton. That should answer the questions J

Sunday – First Week of August

Alyssa takes a deep breath, before continuing her walk with Steve.

As expected, she was officially released from the hospital, with strict instructions to focus on getting rest and regularly changing the bandages on the burns. If anything, per the doctors, they should mostly be healed within 2 to 3 weeks.

Despite being released, she hadn’t traveled far from the hospital, spending all of her time with Chase as she focused on also helping him with her recovery. Despite some persistence from Marie, she told her mother that she wasn’t going to leave till he was also released, too.

While everybody agreed, Steve and Jeff pushed for her to head outside, knowing the surprise that lied there. Jeff suggested that she could go get herself and Chase a treat, or perhaps get him a surprise. He even used the classic ‘do some shopping, mix up your outfit’ line with her. After continued persistence – including Chase suggesting that some fresh air would do her well, she agreed to head out for a small trip with Steve.

“Why didn’t you head home?” She asks as they continued walking. On Friday, the drivers of the group – Regan, Ryan and Darrell – all left to make the trip to Indianapolis. Her and Chase had watched the race on TV, impressed Darrell’s domination en route to winning. It resulted in a very happy FaceTime chat afterwards.

“I’m not working with anybody, and I asked NBC to give me some time because I wanted to be there for those I care about,” he tells her with a smile. He remembered making the phone call to NBC, and their disappointment as it was their first race of the schedule. However, they accepted, noting that they could get a replacement till everything sorted out. Steve wondered whether the producer was truly accepting, or hoping that it resulted in the network getting an exclusive once Chase and Alyssa were ready to get back racing.  Either way, he wasn’t going to worry right now.

“You didn’t have to do that for me, Steve. I would’ve totally understood you heading back.” Steve smiles as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“I know that you would, but it wouldn’t feel right to me. Besides, I know your parents are going through a lot with this and Kelley & Jeff can’t always handle helping them. I did it just as much to help them, your parents, Chase, and his parents.”  She smiles as they continue to make their way through the parking lot. “Are you okay?” She shakes her head yes. “You’re not too sor-”

“I’m fine, Steve. So where the heck did you park?” Steve hated to make her walk this far, but he had hid the car in a tight corner because he didn’t want somebody else to recognize it.  He had even pondered covering the custom plate that she had on it.

“Right here…” He watches as she stops there, frozen, eyes locking on the car ahead of her. She then takes a deep breath, as she looks over at Steve. He knew the look that he was receiving well – the Earnhardt stare.

“You drove my car up here? You drove my car without asking me? No wonder your damn well sucking up to me! Like really, Stev-”

“I didn’t drive it up here, Alyssa. I got it sent up here – for you.” The frozen stare seemed to darken with his comment. She almost felt like she had been slapped in the face with the comment. Didn’t he realize something?

“So how am I supposed to drive and shift in my condition? You really thought this through, Steve.” So far, it seemed the surprise was blowing up in flames in his face. Perhaps he should’ve explained things differently to her, rather than doing it this way.

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that, actually. Take a closer look and then see what you have to say to me.” She then looks at him confused, though slowly makes her way closer to the car, glancing in at the steering wheel, before glancing back at him.

“Paddle shift?” He shakes his head yes, slowly closing the gap so he was standing right behind her. It seemed safe to approach now.

“The disappointment that I knew you had to be feeling about everything got me thinking. Jeff also said, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way,’ which really trigged the thought process. How could you shift and drive with ease with just your right hand? Then after talking to some people and realizing the technology out there, it came to me – paddle shift.  You can keep your right hand on the steering wheel, slightly reaching a finger over to shift either up or down – like you see in open-wheel but with a twist. Given that you’ve tested an Indy Lights car, I figured you’d get it.” She didn’t know whether to turn around and hug him, cry, or what emotions to feel as she felt a bunch of emotions go through her in that very moment.

“Steve…..” She then runs her hand along the steering wheel, before looking back at him. “You thought of all this for me?”  He shakes his head yes.

“I know you really well. I know the instant that they said you couldn’t do anything with your left hand or arm, the first thought would be not being able to drive, or race. I mean, that’s all you’ve ever known or wanted to do. You also didn’t say anything, but rather focused on Chase and everything. I knew that was actually, just like your dad, avoiding the obvious thought on your mind. I wanted to help you out as I know you’re both going through a lot right now.” She felt a couple tears trickle down her face as she felt the sadness she’d hidden since learning the news begin to surface, as well as the gratefulness in knowing someone all of her life that cared this much.

“I don’t know what to say, Steve. I know that I owe my life to you in a way, and now this definitely puts me forever in debt to you because this is beyond what I could’ve imagined.” He smiled as it made the fury, along with the debates through the process, worth it in seeing her reaction.

“I know it’ll take some getting used to, but I have a feeling once you do it’ll be natural as ever and you’ll be cruising just like you were before. Heck, we could even take it for a bit of a spin today.” A smile formed her face on the thought as she looked back, shaking her head yes.  Perhaps getting back behind the wheel would allow her to get more at ease with everything.

It was a rough start as there were some ill-timed shifts, untimed turns and comfort issues – but she was able to overcome those in the first 15 minutes of the drive. As they hit the 15 minute mark, it seemed that she had mastered the art of driving while using the paddle shift as Steve had set-up. He could only look over and smile as she guided them through the streets.

Feeling some pain up her left side, she pulls back into the parking lot, parking the car back in the spot that Steve had it as she looks over with a smile on her face. The smile he saw made everything worth it, for sure, as it was the first true smile that he’d seen since showing up there.

“I didn’t realize how much I missed this…” She lets out as she reaches up, flipping the key off. “I mean, I knew that there’d be issues – from writing, to doing some daily chores – but I never let it hit me on the surface, so to speak. However, as soon as I sat here and got into the first five minutes, it made me realize just how much I was missing this feeling, and worried that I’d never get to feel it again. There’s nothing that could replace the feeling of sitting in this seat, being able to drive, going for a simple crui-”

“What about tackling the high banks of Daytona?” Steve asks her, catching her gaze of surprise. “What about finding the right groove at a track like Michigan? What about the right timed bump-and-run at Bristol? I bet being behind the wheel of a racecar would be even better.”  She couldn’t disagree with him. However, seeing the technology implemented, she knew her possibilities were limited now.

“Unless it’s in a sportscar, I don’t see Daytona being in the future. Heck, I may even go for the open-wheel drea-”

“What about the NASCAR dream and following in your da-”

“Do you honestly see this happening in NASCAR, Steve?” Steve knew it was a tall order, but he had sold Jeff on the idea so perhaps he was good enough to keep it going.  He also knew a couple salesmen tips from Rick couldn’t hurt before visiting with NASCAR.

“I think before you give up on that entirely, especially since that’s the core of your racing dreams, we should set up this same technology in a stock car, go to a test and see if we could get NASCAR to come out and approve it. It’s not a performance advantage and they can monitor the system fully to make sure it doesn’t come one. It’d also open doors in their marketing department in being able to showcase any driver, no matter what, can come and race on their stage and win.” She still wasn’t sold on the idea, though, wondering if this was just a thought of false hopes. Besides, if she focused towards the open-wheel side, she could work at getting that right ride for next season now while recovering from her injuries.

“I don’t know, Steve…” Perhaps he wasn’t the best salesman after all.

“Listen, I know it may seem like a long shot, but what do we have to lose? I say we give it a shot and see where it goes. Then that way you’re not left wondering what was because you know you gave it a shot.” Perhaps he was right; perhaps it was worth a shot. There was nothing that could replace her love for stock cars and the want to win the Daytona 500 one day. Anyways, she could contact those open-wheel teams while Steve was putting this in order and develop the back-up plan if needed.

“You have my permission to go forth in putting the pieces together, Steve.”  Steve smiles as he knew it was a great step.

“I just have to also convince your parents, especially your dad since he’s your boss. Can’t prepare the car without his permission.” Alyssa didn’t know what to think on that topic. She knew her mother would throw a fit, wanting to put her in a bubble and protect her after everything. However, with her dad, she couldn’t decide. She knew he’d understand her desires, but wondered if the worries over everything would overcome that thought.

“I’ve got your back the whole way, but we better have some luck on our side.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 19: Steve’s Plan

Thursday afternoon

The following morning, the group made their way over to the hospital as promised. They were pleased with the progress by both. Chase and Alyssa were both still in a lot of pain – his stomach, her burns – but the pain killers were taking the edge off. For Alyssa, she was told if she continued to heal accordingly, she’d be released in the next 24 hours. Chase, though, they wanted to monitor longer, which made Alyssa not care of the release due to wanting to be there for him.

Standing in the corner observing the group, Jeff was keeping quiet as he let the parents discuss things with the children. He then glances at his phone, surprised by the text message.

“Come outside,” he reads as he glances around the room confused. He then shrugs his shoulders, figuring he’d listen.

“I’ll be back,” he answers with ease as he leaves the room.  Everybody simply thought he needed some space for a call or had to make a bathroom trip.

He makes his way downstairs, following the directions laid out as he walks to the meeting spot.

“You could’ve just flown up instead of driving,” he starts, barely paying attention except knowing the person he wanted was there. “Heck, why didn’t you just come up to the room?”

“Because I brought a surprise,” Steve LeTarte states, finally catching Jeff’s attention as he notices the pink Camaro.

“That’s Alyssa’s Camaro, the dream ’67 car that Chase searched the bloody country for to make her wishes come true. Did you drive it up here?”  Steve shakes his head no as Jeff looks at him confused.

“I had it delivered, okay? Special delivery at that.”  Jeff felt himself growing more confused.

“May I dare ask why? With the manual transmission, she won’t be able to shift and drive it.”  A smile formed on Steve’s face as he walked around, opening the door.

“Paddle gear shift, same way it is in IndyCar with being on the side of the wheel.”  Jeff then looks it over, surprised, as he glances at Steve. “Our conversation, the one that we had, got me thinking, along with my short discussion on the phone with her. I figured it’d be easier on them both driving than flying – forces and pains – so here’s a surprise for the trip home. It’s a way to express to her that things are going to be alright.”  Jeff had to admit that he was impressed with the handy work as he sat in the car for a moment.

“This is perfect, Steve. It’ll ease her worries, along with those around her as you’ve given her something back that she thought she lost.”  Steve shakes his head in agreement as he thinks about something else, leaning back against the car.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way – that’s something that you said you told her. Alex Zanardi has become a legend in Olympics. There’s a guy over in Europe who drives with his feet because both of his arms are paralyzed. Sam Schmidt got to drive again, simply by head movements and voice commands. There are stories everywhere, Jeff. Getting in contact with the right people, and the technology is right at our fing-”

“Do I want to know what you’re thinking?” Steve smiles as he shrugs his shoulders. He thought it’d be a good idea as it’d answer the biggest worry everyone had, and solve Alyssa’s problem.

“I spoke to the same people who put this technology in her car, and asked if it’d be possible. They said if we could combine a small enough steering box ratio to give her the control with one hand, combined with the paddle shifting, why wouldn’t it be possible? While everybody, including herself, has assumed the racing dream is dead, I say otherwise. I say it is possible. We just need to get her to try it, get comfortable with it, and get NASCAR to approve it.” Jeff knew everything was easily possible; he had used the shift paddles himself in a couple racing experiments. He just didn’t know about the last variable.

“Do you think NASCAR would?” Steve shrugs his shoulders as he wasn’t quite sure on that factor, yet.

“I haven’t asked because I don’t want to go through the trouble without it being set. I say we let her get comfortable in this, and then transition to a stock car. Bring them out to a test and see what they say. If they somehow deny it, I say those open wheel rumors for her may have truth behind them.” Jeff knew it was a possibility, but seeing an Earnhardt outside of a stock car in an open-wheel car would feel weird. He knew that they better make NASCAR see things their way, when the time is right.

“So my question is when are you going to tell Alyssa all of this?” Steve had debated how to go about the next critical step, whether immediately or wait.

“Let her get released. Then I’ll bring her down and show her. We won’t say a single word till then. Let this be a surprise, a happy change of pace.” Jeff shook his head in agreement.

“I won’t say a word, promise. Just think, though. She already loved you by how close you guys were, and the fact that you saved her life when she was younger. Now you’re going to be her king.” Steve laughs as they head into the hospital, although he remembered when Alyssa said he was the knight in shining armor back then.

“Chase will always have that number spot in her life, Jeff. I don’t think anyone could ever replace that for her.” Jeff shakes his head in agreement as they walk through the hospital, getting into the elevator. Jeff presses the button, as he leans back against the wall.

“When she and Leo were dating, I could tell that they were great together – but something was missing, the extra magic that makes you know it’s the perfect right match forever.  I never said anything because they were young, and it was for them to discover – even though every part of me yelled to say something as I didn’t want to see a mess later on like Brooke and I turned into. I’m actually glad that they realized when they did, and were able to break it off how they did and remain friends. Now she’s got Chase, and he’s got Elladee.” Steve smiles, as he was glad things had worked out for the children. It was also nice to see how close Elladee and Leo were growing.

“She’s still involved in dirt racing heavily, right?” Jeff shakes his head yes as they reach the floor. While it seemed Jeff’s kids, Genieve, and Alyssa had taken after their father’s love of asphalt racing, Elladee was different. She ended up taking a liking to the dirt side – no surprise with her father’s involvements there, too – and had become quite the Sprint Car racer.

“Currently leading the World of Outlaw standings driving for Tony Stewart.”

Beautiful Nightmare – Chapter 3: Sleepless Night

But when I rest

There is nothing I can do

 

After getting the tears out, Denny went over to the sink and took a handful of water, washing his face off before turning back to face Kyle.

“Thank you,” he says simply as Kyle just shakes his head.

“I told you that I’d come see you anytime,” Kyle assures him. “We all told you that, Denny. We’re all here for you.” Denny knew that. He remembered the conversation amongst the teammates when word got out what had happened. He remembered their hugs, words of encouragement, and assurance that they’d help him as much as he needed.

“I know…” Denny then takes the glass off the counter, dumping the last bit of alcohol down the drain as he sits the cup in the sink.

“Denny, what are you thinking?” Denny then takes a quick glance at the time, seeing how it was 2am, before looking back at Kyle.

“I’m tired. I haven’t been sleeping well the past week. It’s late. I want to sleep, but I’m scared to sleep.” Kyle shakes his head, understanding. He was glad that his teammate was starting to open up more, piece by piece.

“Why are you scared?” Denny leans back against the counter, thinking back to the past couple of nights when he had tried to sleep, whether up in the bedsroom they shared or on the couch.

“I don’t want to relive what happened. I want to remember what happened. I don’t want to see those images once again. However, as soon as I close my eyes, there she is, and something is happening. Sometimes it’s something good, other times it’s everything I want to forget.”  Kyle had heard that nightmares and flashbacks could happen. It was why talking with a psychiatrist was recommended so he could figure out how to handle those.

“They told you that day if you had any of those issues, you could seek a psychiatrist and he could help you so you could move forw-”

“I’m scared to talk to someone about it, okay? We established that already tonight, Kyle! Let’s just let superstar badass racecar driver who has one of the most cocky attitudes at times walk into some office and say, ‘Hey, I let some woman control and abuse me and now I can’t sleep at night’.  Does that sound right?”  Kyle lets out a sigh, knowing it wasn’t as easy as he had made it.

“I get that it’s not easy. That’s why they said it’s going to take time. I also understand your fears of wanting to open up, telling people in fear that they won’t believe you. However, the officer that night believed you and we were able to get the help you needed. I also understand it’s hard to make yourself feel vulnerable because you’ve been so strong for so long – but Denny, we both know that you have feelings and need to get this out. You can’t go months on end without sleeping. It’s not healthy.” Denny knew that Kyle was right, reminding himself once again of the words spoken earlier.

“I know what I need to do. I just need to keep telling myself what you’re saying and do it.”  Kyle shakes his head, accepting. It was a step in the right direction.

“Say for tonight, why don’t you try a change in scenery? Come over to my place. You can sleep in the spare bedsroom or on the couch.  Then we can worry about everything else tomorrow.” Denny shakes his head no. he couldn’t intrude on Kyle’s house after everything Kyle was already doing for him. Besides, he didn’t want to wake up from one of his nightmares screaming and freak out Brexton and Samantha.

“I’ll be fin-”

“You just said yourself tha-”

“Kyle, I’ll be fine. I’ll deal with it tonight and then take the first step tomorrow.”  Kyle couldn’t do anything but accept his teammate’s words. He wasn’t totally convinced yet, but he was willing to take a chance.

“Alright.  Well, if you’re headed to bed, I’m going to head home – but don’t be afraid to call, even if it is in a couple hours because you can’t sleep, okay?” Denny shakes his head yes as Kyle comes over and gives him a hug. “I mean it, Denny. It’s going to be okay.”

“Thank you. I appreciate what you’ve done, and tell Samantha that I appreciate her patience.”

“She just wants everything to work out for you.”

With a couple more trades back and forth, Kyle headed out to head home while Denny made his way upstairs to the bathroom. Slipping his pants and t-shirt off, he climbs under the blanket in his bare boxers. Considering how exhausted he was feeling, perhaps sleep would be easy tonight.

Denny makes his way into the motorcoach, smiling after putting down a great lap in qualifying to himself up to start third in Sunday’s race.

“Hey Dennykins,” Diane says, using the nickname that she had always used for him from the beginning.

“Hey sweet cheeks,” he replies with a smile, dropping a small kiss on her cheek. He then makes his way by, slipping the top of his firesuit off as he reaches into the fridge.

“Nice run out there. Glad to see that you got the car working.” He looks back with a smile, pleased himself. “But where have you been since then?” His smile immediately fades by the tone of her voice.

“What do you mean?”  She then stands and makes her way over, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Qualifying was done 20 minutes ago, Hamlin. Where have you been?” He had heard this tone before with her. It started before she had joined him at the track with late phone calls, curious if he was seeing other woman when they weren’t together. It had continued when she made the decision to quit her job so she could be there with him every week. The job quitting had caught him off-guard, but he was totally for it as he didn’t mind being able to spend more time with her.

“I got out of the car, followed my proper media obligations of interviews on pit road, spoke with Wheels about the car, and then spent some time with Kyle comparing notes before coming back.”  The smirk on her face equaled disbelief as she turned him so they were facing each other face-to-face.

“You’re such a liar!” She then gave him a slap across the face, catching him off-guard.

“Diane! What was that for?” She then crosses her arms, keeping her body pressed against his.

“I saw the TV screen. Sure, you did your interviews. But you want to explain the brunette who came over to talk to you?” Denny rolls his eyes, remembering the appearance by Christy.

“Christy Lawre-”

“Oh, so you know her full name as well? That’s just sweet, Denny.” Denny takes a deep breath, sensing where this was going. He had come to expect it with Diane as she had taken this route a couple times.  He understood her motive, though, as he had quite the history.

“She was my track girl here so she came over to see if I wanted to spend some time with her. I explained to her that I had a steady girlfriend, and wouldn’t need to see her tonight. She didn’t take acceptance to that for a bit, but then accepted with goals of hooking up with Kahne.” The look on Diane’s face meant that she didn’t quite believe that Denny had said.

“I don’t believe you, Denny. See, you probably went and had a quick hook up with her before heading back here after qualifying. It’s also why you probably need to leave early tomorrow before practice so you can have a hook up before then. Denny, we’ve talked about this. I told you that I wouldn’t accept cheating. I’m not just another girl.” Denny remembered the discussion, and had accepted immediately. He could honestly see a future with Diane.

“I can tell you with honesty that I didn’t have sex with Christy, or any other girl. I promis-” His words are then cut off by her reaching her hand down his pants, pinching him.

“This raised out after your little discussion while doing the interview tell otherwise.” He bit his tongue, resisting the urge to scream as he reached down for her hand, clasping it with his.

“I can promise you that wasn’t happening. You were seeing thin-”

“Denny oh Denny, your eyes say differently. What have I told you about that?” He lets out a sigh, looking into her eyes.

“Diane Chainwood, I can assure you that I would never cheat on you, ever.” She then relaxes a little. “I love you, a lot. I can honestly see a future with you.”

“I can see a future with you, too.” She then holds him against the wall, pressing her body firmly against his. “So if you ever do cheat on me, I will cut you half and make you watch as I pull your guts out. Don’t be a whore. You told me that bullshit was done.” Denny felt his body tension up at her firm behavior, even tense more as he saw her hand form into a fist, raising above to be level with his shoulder.

“I promise you…” The fist then drops as her lips clash against his, and he picks her up in his arms, carrying her back to the bed, pulling her back. She then assumes her position on top, making her way through the layers of clothing as more kisses come.

The discussion, despite having happened prior, he forgot about. It was just jealousy. It’d just disappear with time. She’d understand that he’d never cheat and those fears would go away, followed by the behavior that came with it.

Denny sits up suddenly in the bed, panting to himself as he shakes his head. Why did he let him believe that? If only he could’ve figured it out then, left her then, he wouldn’t get himself in the rest of the mess that he found himself in.

Scurrying out of the bed, he rushes to the bathroom, turning the shower water on as he strips out of his boxers. He didn’t want to feel her on him. He didn’t want reminders of the awesome, splendid, pleasure-filled sex. He didn’t want to think about her touch against his skin. As he climbs under the hot water, he wanted to wash away every single memory or moment from his thoughts.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 60: The Parent Talk

Chase lets out a sigh, letting himself calm down before opening the door and entering the motorcoach.

He knew the pair of people waiting on the other side of the door. They had wanted to have a good chat with him about things since a week ago. However, since the call about California from Ricky, the only conversation was on how he was feeling and what was going to happen in the coming days, surrounding traveling plans and Daytona. The true talk that Chase knew they needed to have about everything that happened in the past of the past couple weeks hadn’t fell into the schedule – till now.

“I thought you were never coming,” Cindy says, standing up and walking over, giving him a hug. Chase had told them to come over, let themselves in with the spare key and he’d see them when he was done with his media obligations.

“Media went a little later than I intended,” he says. “I’m sorry I’m later than I said I’d be.”

“It doesn’t matter now,” Bill comments as he watches Chase open the fridge, grabbing a bottle of mountain dew. He watches the young man pop the cap off, followed by taking a pair of Tylenol. “How are you feeling?”

“Sore, to be honest. Every bit of movement just makes it seem worse.”  He then walks back over to his parents, sitting down on the couch across from them.

“We can come back when you’re feeling a little more up to having this discus-”

“No, I’m fine. I’m good enough to have this talk with you both. Besides, you deserve to know the whole deal with Sarina. I should’ve told you before I told Ricky, anyway.” He then takes a deep  breath,  thinking back to where he should start from. “So before we  were set to head to California, Kendall made  a stop by Hendrick Motorsports to talk to me, stating that she had some interesting information for me. She asked me what I knew  about Sarina’s childhood, and I told her everything that Sarina had talked about. She then asked me if I knew Sarina had a brother – which obviously, I did not kno-”

“So you’re telling me in the face of fear, Sarina lied about details?” Cindy cuts him off, feeling a combination of shock and anger wash over her.  As she heard these reasons, she became even more thankful and glad that Chase and her were separate right now.  She knew that girl was trouble from the start, despite what Bill and Chase had said otherwise.

“It turns out that she did – but I’d appreciate if you let me explain things myself, please,” Chase pleads. Cindy then takes a calculated deep breath, perhaps biting her tongue in the process. “She then explained that they’d received an anonymous tip, which led to the files being checked again once again. After going through the DNA and files, she discovered that Harry Butler is indeed Chris Dryer, brother to Chelsy Dryer. Obviously, you can put the pieces togeth-”

“So she did lie that night!?!” Chase lets out a sigh, having had the same reaction when he found out, explaining why he had flipped on her. He just hoped that his mom could see the light that he was starting to see with regards to her.

“Kendall then convinced me that I should talk to Sarina about things that night, figuring out what we’ve been missing all of this time. That  night when she got home from KBM, I told her that we needed to talk and there was some new information.  I threw the facts right in her face, and asked if she had anything to say for herself. She denied everythin-”

“What else is new?”  Bill gives Cindy a look as Chase rolls his eyes. Maybe it’d take more work than he thought convincing his parents to give Sarina a second chance, as he planned to. Maybe he should’ve kept this quiet.

“Can I please tell you what happened so you understand, and then tell you how I feel about things? Then, at that time, you can make your judgments.” Cindy let out a sigh, knowing that Chase at least deserved ‘a chance’, but that didn’t mean that she had to warm up to the idea.

“I threw it back in her face again – stating the similarities in the photos that she should’ve known, stating that she never had talked about her brother. I basically demanded answers. She then explained that her father’s involvement with the gangs wasn’t just police based, but rather her brother was up to illegal things. The real reason her father was shot was due to trying to get her brother out without a trace. She then explained that after they moved, the family never grew close back together, with Chris continuing to drif-”

“Anger, jealousy, rage, confusion turns into him turning his back on his family and trying to kill them?” Bill  questions as Chase shakes his head yes. That was the explanation that came together from Sarina eventually.

“Pretty much the short explanation to everything that she told me that night. She didn’t like it, though, and had tried to contact him sometimes, with the last contact being three years ago. He told her that he was done with her, but yet contacted her a month  before the plane incident. That was why she was on high alert and fearful in the hospital, and why it took a bit to pull everything from her. They argued and he wanted her to leave racing to join him but she told him no wa-“

“Again, why didn’t she  say something that day in the hospital?”  Cindy questions as Chase lets out a sigh.  It was a question he had asked himself many times.

“She was afraid, mama,”  he states. “She was afraid of what he was capable of. She was afraid of everything from her childhood. She  was afraid of driving me further apart from her. She was afraid that everything she knew would come crashing into pieces. Fears, insanity – everything combined together forced her hand. I get it, I understand it – but that night standing in the living room face-to-face with her, I wasn’t taking an-”

“I don’t blame  you as you realized what has happened twice because of her?”  Chase shakes his head yes, obviously knowing the pain that he was in.

“At the same time, I have contacted her back and want to talk to her, possibly  work it out.  I get her fear. I get everything that was running through her mind. Hence the thoughts that I had through everything, too.  Hence my apprehensions even today about flying.  I understand, mama, and you should too.  When you’re afraid, you sometimes do things that don’t make sense realistically but do in your fears.” Cindy still wasn’t  convinced about Sarina re-entering Chase’s life once again, still holding apprehensions. There were things you couldn’t forget and forgive.

“Continue what you have to tell us, please.”  Chase then remembers where he left off, taking a deep breath.

“Their discussions together made her realize that his anger was truly out there due to jealousy – he was jealous of what I had with her in his crazed eyes. Hence why she didn’t want to say anything. If I find out that I am reason, I may run far from her to remove that fear.  She was afraid of ruining what we had built  based on her family history and issues. She told me that it may cause me to go against her if she  spoke then, rather my own reasoning or others around me – like you guys.  Again, I get it because of the fear talking.  That night, though, I continued to throw it back in her face and we continued to argue. Our argument came to a head and I told her that she wasn’t going to Winter Showdown, I was terminating our deal together and I was done. If she couldn’t be truthful with me, then I wasn’t going to put up wit-”

“What has made  you change your mind then?” Chase then lets out a sigh, remembering the discussion with Ricky at the hospital.

“Level head, calmness, realization of her side of the story based on her family and feelings. Letting me see things from her perspective, rather than my selfish reasons. Put yourselves in her shoes. What would you have done?”  Cindy hated to admit it, but she could see herself doing exactly what Sarina did under the right situation.

“Maybe her actions are excusable…”  A slight smile forms on his  face as he was glad that he got somewhere with his parents. “Maybe there were reasons for it.”

“Is there any way to come back from where you guys went that night, though?” Bill asks, wondering how far the argument went. Chase looked away from his parents, having asked himself that question many times.

“I said a lot of things that night that I wish I could take back. From straight up yelling at her, to accusing her of not loving me fully, to throwing the lack of trust in her face, to saying that she forced me to do things in front of you guys like not believing your words. I said a ton of things that night I wish I could take back.” Chase then glances at the floor, taking a deep breath. “It’s why I told her that I want to talk when she gets a chance. I want to talk through everything and see where we stand with everything on the table. She has yet to arrange for that to happen.”

“Perhaps it’s just cause she needs time to process everything, perhaps because she’s focused on her brother right now.” Bill then switches over to the couch that Chase is sitting on, rubbing his back. “Maybe once she’s had her time and gets everything in order she’ll give you that call. I wouldn’t lose hope. I heard she texted  you on Sunday so that’s a start.” Chase shakes his head yes, as he glances up to look at his dad.

“I guess. it just hurts more than I realized it would to be apart from her. I didn’t realize it’d hurt this much.” Bill smiles a little as he trades a glance with Cindy.

“It’s because you realize how much you care about her, truthfully. It’ll work out, somehow. Everything will be fine.”