Chase relaxed on the couch, arm wrapped around Alyssa with a smile on his face.
He had to admit the chance to talk to Tony last night had paid off. He was able to get a lot off his chest in regards to his feelings about Alyssa and what happened. The conversation allowed him to erase some of his fears, and anxiety – allowing him to be more relaxed now. It gave him comfort in factoids about Alyssa from what Tony offered, as well as advice moving forward with questions he had.
The first step of recovery was complete. Now it was just figuring out how to handle the rest of the factors at play.
“I love you,” he tells her, as he rubs her shoulder. “When do we have to leave for Road America?” She then sits up and looks back at him puzzled.
“We?” She asks and he shakes his head yes.
“I’m coming to support you.” She knew there was no way to talk him out of it, even though she believed relaxation was the best medicine for him.
“Friday morning.” He makes a note in his mind, knowing to have everything put together the night before.
The pair hear a knock at the door, glancing at each other as Chase lets out a sigh, getting up off the couch. He had to wonder if it was one of her siblings, her parents, or perhaps Regan or Tony looking for him. Regardless, he would’ve preferred for their quiet time to continue.
Chase opens the door, jaw dropping in surprise as he wasn’t expecting to see his mom.
“Well this is a surprise,” he comments as she walks into the house, followed by his dad. He closes the door, leaning back against as he faces his parents. “No warning?”
“I was worried about you after what happened at Bristol,” Cindy starts as she faces him. “I kept telling myself that it was fine, phone conversation was enough, you had people with eyes on you – but I couldn’t take it any longer. I asked Bill to fly us down so I could see you.” Chase then looks over at his dad, who simply shrugs his shoulders.
“With all due respect, I’m perfectly fine – as I said on the phone over and over, Mom. I’m also 35. I can take care of myself.” She then crosses her arms with an annoyed look.
“What do you call Brist-”
“That was a lapse in judgment, that I have taken the right steps to make sure to not repeat again. I’m already talking to people anyway – Regan, Tony, Ella. You can ask Alyssa.” Cindy then walks into the front room, eyes settling on Alyssa who looks at her with surprise.
“And are you taking care of yourself, too?” Alyssa shakes her head yes.
“I’m taking the steps that I need to in regards of taking care of my emotions and feelings,” she starts. In truth, she hadn’t talked to many people that week – focused on getting ready for Road America and the high of winning Bristol. However, she knew it wasn’t driving her crazy and those talks would come when the time was right. “You don’t need to worry about us, Cindy.”
“Now if I didn’t worry about you guys, you’d both think something was wrong with me.” Chase thinks it over, knowing she was right based on some of the phone calls he had given her in return through the years.
“Well the visit was unexpected and a surprise, it’s nice to see you both,” Chase comments as he sits back down on the couch beside Alyssa. The pair trade a glance, before facing his parents.
“Did we interrupt something?” Chase shakes his head no. “William Clyde Elliott, what have you been told you?” He then glances at Alyssa.
“Remember – you’re never too old for your parents to use your full name.” She then chuckles as he looks back towards his mom. “We were just sitting here watching a movie together, enjoying some quiet time and light conversation. I wasn’t aware that was a crime.”
“Chase….” Bill warns as Chase shrugs his shoulders.
“I just answered the question, dad,” he states. “Besides, you both know me better than that. I respect her boundaries. Do you really think that we’d be doing the hanky panky on the couch right here in the open?”
“Is that what you were thinking, Cindy?” Alyssa questions as Cindy lets out a sigh.
“You never know with kids these days, but Chase is right – he knows his boundaries well,” she states as Chase shakes his head in agreement.
“Considering it’s like 5, what about we go out for dinner and then we can talk some?” The parents both shake their head in agreement. “I’ll be back down in five.” She then stands up and heads upstairs to get changed.
“Were you telling the truth earlier about things being okay?” Bill wonders and Chase shakes his head yes. “If you want to talk after dinner, we can.”
“I may take you up on that offer,” Chase comments, catching Cindy’s attention. “Not cause things aren’t okay right now, but because I may want to talk about something.”
Chase glances in the window, smiling as he watches Alyssa and Cindy sit at the table, talking about a couple different things between them. He knew it was light conversation – some fashion, some traveling things, some racing – their usual. Letting out a sigh, he turns back around and walks over, sitting beside his dad on the back porch bench.
“Do you remember what I was like after the first incident with Randy?” Chase questions, catching Bill’s attention.
“Daytona?” Bill questions and Chase shakes his head yes. “You were scared, frightened. I remember there was a couple weeks you couldn’t sleep without mom or I being there. I remember Dale came over and you guys had a discussion about things, followed by Dale and I having a discussion. Everybody was just an emotional mess. I remember you went through a whole whack of nights without any sleep, and made yourself so sick at Charlotte. I still can’t believe you ran that whole race and won.” Bill then thinks it over as he watches Chase, carefully. “Going through that again?”
“Not as bad, to be honest. I’m getting some sleep but not as much as I would hope, just because everything is going through my mind – still.” Chase takes a deep breath, thinking about the weekend that Bill referenced. “That weekend was the first time Regan and I truly connected as friends, and he showed that I could use for him advice if I needed, or wanted. I took him up on the offer a month later, and it paid off better than I could’ve imagined. I was able to get everything out there, and move forward – till July, of course.” Bill shivers at the thought of the blood and knife sticking out of Chase’s leg that day.
“Why are you bringing it up, if I can be curious?” Chase takes a deep breath, wondering if he should push the issue then and there. However, he knew he had to do it. He wasn’t going to move forward without saying anything and he wanted to move forward – again.
“I thought I was over what happened, and never would have to think about that day again. However, I can’t get that 500 out of mind lately. I remember the driver’s meeting, driver introductions – the discussion on pit road with you in nothing feeling right. It feels just like yesterday in my mind. I even remember jinxing myself with my words that it wouldn’t work out because nothing has so far. I remember Randy coming up with the plan, showing me the photos, leading me away from the car. I can’t get the thought out of my mind in how he controll-”
“What else were you supposed to do in that situation?” Bill cuts him off. “If you say something, then there’s a good chance that both Dale and Marie end up dead because he said that in his threat. If there’s also the chance that he would hurt you worse than you did that day. Chase, I thought we got over that.” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks out towards the backyard.
“I thought I had gotten over that, but this whole situation has brought those doubts back to my mind, Dad. I mean, he didn’t just control me there. He set-up everything in the hotel room. He put the plan in motion for my kidnapping despite all the warning signs. He easily drew me up there out of fear for Alyssa and placed me right there in that spot to be poisoned. He’s a sick son of a bitch who knew what made me tick, controlled me, hurt me, and I hate that feeling.” Bill then reaches over, placing his hand on Chase’s leg, causing Chase to look over at him.
“They say the worst feeling a person can have is helplessness. I know that because of how I felt when you were attacked, wishing I could’ve done something to help you. I get the pain you’re feeling and expressing right now, Chase. But on the bright side, look at this – you don’t have to face that again as he’s dead.” Chase couldn’t help but smile as it seemed like the perfect fitting punishment after all the hell they’d been through.
“I know he’s dead – but that doesn’t mean he can’t haunt my nightmares. Look at what Mariela did to my nightmares for months even though she was dead right there in my view.” Bill lets out a sigh.
“Isn’t that why we’re talking about things?” Chase shakes his head yes. “Besides, what happened there drove me crazy for a couple days, too. Steve was the only one who noticed it was Dale climbing in the car – not you. I’m your father and yet I can’t realize that it’s not you? It just didn’t make sense in my mind or Cindy’s. I remember when Steve explained it – total disbelief that was quickly turned into anger.”
“It was a well thought out plan and without having a second thought, partially distracted with the events, it’s understandable if you miss the small details. Besides, he pulled off my firesuit pretty good that day.” Chase then smiles a little as he thinks back. “I remember Mariela thinking that she had everything under control. My words to her were simple when I saw you guys outside – that’s my parents, and now you’re in trouble. I knew you’d do whatever it took to save me.” Bill scoots a bit closer and wraps an arm around him.
“You’re damn straight about that as I wouldn’t risk anything happening to you. We were both ready to strangle her ass, but were instead stuck trying to reason with her. Felt so guilty for that.” Chase shakes his head no.
“You did the right thing. Touch her and I’m dead, right? You did the right course in trying to calm her.” Bill closes his eyes, as he thinks back to standing in the trailer, face-to-face with her.
“I knew your mom would panic immediately – that’s just her nature when it comes to you. She panics, takes names, kicks ass, but I knew we couldn’t do that. I also wasn’t sure how Regan would react. Steve, meanwhile, seems to be a calming guy so I figured he’d back me up easily. My calm nature just took over immediately as I knew taking charge and calmness were the best possibility with the police being en route and being professional, knowing the better way to handle things. They always say to leave it to the professionals, right?” Chase shakes his head, having heard that advice many times. Why didn’t he leave saving Alyssa to the professionals, too?
“When they snuck in through the back and shot her, it totally shocked me. The minute I heard the gun go off, it was like the world froze for a second and I wondered whether there was a future out there. I guess you could say instincts took over in pushing her out of the way as I was still overly concerned with the fact I couldn’t breathe.” He then stands up, walking over to the railing. “I was in such a panic. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, fear on my mind, total mess.” He then takes a deep breath.
“Chase?” His eyes focus down on the railing.
“I kept trying to catch my breath, and couldn’t figure out a way to do so. I think that panic scared me more than anything.” He then turns to face his father. “I think that’s why I’m forcing myself to do everything against my own wishes here, and talk to people about what happened, get these thoughts in the open. I don’t want to go through that again. I don’t want another panic attack like that one, or the one at Bristol.” He then turns back away. “It’s just so hard….”
“I know.” Bill stands up and walks over, wrapping an arm around Chase’s shoulders. “I know it hurts. But you’re amazing. You’ve fought through so much and come out strong as ever. Heck, you’re standing here today divulging your deepest thoughts to me. That has to say something, right? It’s going to be okay, Chase….”