Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 82: “You’re an All-Star!”

Sarina walks into the hauler, lets out a sigh as she flops back on the couch.

She had been quick throughout testing and practice, even laying down the quickest lap ever seen at Bristol in a super late model. However, come qualifying, everything went to shit and she ended up mid-pack. That was just going to make Sunday interesting.

She hears her phone go off, lets out a sigh as she sees the caller ID and answers the call.

“You should’ve gone with one of my late models….” She hears Kyle’s tone and rolls her eyes immediately. He never missed an opportunity to rub it in how she should be running Kyle Busch Motorsports late models to go with the truck. However, she liked working with Ricky Turner.

“Do I need to remind you of the practice speed set earlier today?” She questions in response.

“You didn’t get the job done when it counted, though. What happened?” She knew the explanation, having spoken with Ricky already. It didn’t make her happy, but it is what it is.

“We didn’t adjust correctly for the changing conditions. We went a little too far and she was just a tick loose. That’s not the best feeling when flying around this half-mile.” She hears a chuckle at his end, glad that she at least got a laugh out of him.

“Well, least you know you have a good car. I’m coming up after the All-Star race tomorrow to watch. Strangely, your boyfriend is the one giving me the ride.” Sarina could only laugh as she wondered how a flight with Kyle and Chase would go.

“Well, I’d suggest finishing second to him tonight so he doesn’t leave you stranded at the airport.” She hears a laugh in response, knowing there was no chance in Kyle listening to her suggestion.

“Hey, your boy has to qualify first. Good luck with that.” She then lets out a sigh. In her heart, Chase should’ve been qualified already for this event. There were a couple races last year he should’ve run, and a couple already they should’ve had. Instead, he was stuck in the Open and hopefully would be able to snag one of the segment wins.  “If it makes you feel better, I voted Daniel for the fan vote.”

“That’s just mean!”

“He’s my teammate. I couldn’t just not vote for him….”

“You could’ve and not told anyone. Regardless, it’s going to be a good night. I got some popcorn and me and Ricky are set to relax, and watch him kick butt in the open.”

“Well then I better let you go. See you tomorrow.”

“Bye Kyle.” She then hangs up, letting out a sigh as she relaxes back on the couch.

“You know he’s going to rub it in like hell if Chase doesn’t qualify….” Ricky comments as Sarina rolls her eyes. She wasn’t ready to accept that fate tonight.

She sat there, nerves at a high at times, as she watched him battled amongst the top-three through all the segments. However, one after the other, he came up short of winning, including a loss by just a bumper in one of them.

“Are you kidding me?!?” She lets out after the final segment as Ricky gives her a glance.

“We have the fan vote….” Ricky suggests as she rolls her eyes. She already had the winner picked out for that.

“It’ll be Danica because she’s Ms. Pretty Princes-”

“You’re forgetting her selfish act after Almirola hurt his back. That lost her a bunch of respect.” Sarina remembered that interview well, and how she wanted to strangle Danica for not being more thankful and worried on Aric’s part.

“Well there’s also Matt DiBenedetto. Look at the campaign he put together!” Ricky crosses his arms as he places a smile on his face.

“You’re not giving your boy enough credit. He’s an Elliott. Elliotts are popular. Just ask Bill.”  Sure enough, Ricky predicted it correctly as they announced Chase as the fan vote winner. “See?”

“Well, least we got a reason to watch tonight…” She then stands up, grabbing a drink out of the mini fridge, before returning back to her spot on the couch.

“What about your boss? Is he not a good enough reason?” She then rolls her eyes, though knew that Ricky was right as she didn’t mind watching Kyle at all.

Throughout the night, she kept her eyes locked on the television screen.

She found herself impressed with a couple of Chase’s strong moments, allowing him to be one of the 10 drivers in the final segment. She wasn’t exactly happy with the finish, but knew that they’d learned a lot ahead of the Coke 600.

A smile still found her face, though, in watching the event as she let out a big cheer in the restart that Kyle got to start the final segment, taking Jimmie and Brad three-wide into turn one and grabbing the lead. From there on, he flat-out dominated and snagged the win.

With the race completed, the pair headed out to grab a quick snack at the local Waffle House before heading to bed. They walked in, caught off-guard by the group sitting at one of the tables.

“I heard the guy will be alright but still….” They heard one person say.

“That’s just scary,” another commented as the group shook their heads in unison.

“They’re supposed to put an advisory in the morning to be careful around the track and with what you accept,” she noticed Christian Eckes comment. “Remind me not to go to the Bristol snack bar tomorrow.”

“What’s going on?” She asks, catching Christian’s attention. She hated to interrupt a conversation that she was originally not part of, but she hoped Christian excused her given their friendship and how well they had gotten to know each other with racing across the country.

“Someone was poisoned at Bristol today,” he reveals. “Supposedly they ate or drank something – not sure from where – but it had something in it and they were throwing up pretty bad. The guys said that he’d be okay as they got him to the hospital in time, but still. It just seems strange.” She shakes her head in agreement.

“Very strange. Thanks for the heads-up, though. Good luck tomorrow.”

“Same to you.” She then walks over to where Ricky had sat down, taking a seat across from him.

“Did you hear?” Ricky shakes his head yes, as he was caught off-guard as well.

Who would poison someone at a race track?

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

Sarina glances over the car, letting out a sigh as she leans back against it. If only she had qualified better…..

The next day at Bristol, she started where she had qualified – in the back half of the top-20, and began to slowly make her way forward. However, a pair of cars got together in front of her, leaving her nowhere to go as she crashed into them, resulting in heavy front end damage and the end of her Short Track Nationals.

“And we just had fixed it, too,” she comments, remembering the most recent outing with the car as she looks over at Ricky. “I’m sorry….”

“It’s my fault for screwing up yesterday,” he replies as he leans back beside her. “As long as you’re okay, that’s what matters.” She looks over, shaking her head yes.

“I’m fine…” She then glances down, twirling her ankle around a couple times, which caught the attention of Kyle as his eyes looked down.

“Twirling your foot?” He questions as she looks over at him.

“They said that it’d be tender for a bit after I wrecked at Talladega,” she answers. “It’s fine, just a tick stiff and whatnot. You don’t need to worry, okay?” He shakes his head, understanding.

“As long as you’re ready for the Monster in a couple weeks….” She then smiles, having looked forward to going to Dover from the beginning of the year. It was one of the races she had circled on the schedule when they put this deal together.

“Miles isn’t touching me….” Kyle then laughs, knowing how things usually went at Dover for rookies. He just had his fingers crossed that they avoided the usual rookie downfalls.

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Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 81: North Carolina Education Lottery 200

Chase smiles as he watches Sarina head through the garage with her cousin Bethany and brother Chris in toe.

It was nice having her back at the track with him every week. It gave him someone to pass time with, chat with, and she was understanding enough to give him the balance he needed. She knew the racing pressures and world, was like him in some ways about perfection and concentration. This was the perfect mix of ying and yang, knowing when to push and when to not.

“I’m surprised you’re so relaxed this weekend,” Alan comments as he walks over to join his young driver. Chase then gives him the crew chief an intrigued glance.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” He questions as Alan looks towards the direction that Sarina was walking.

“I’m just shocked that you’re so comfortable around him.” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing what Alan was referring to.

“Are we going to have the same discussion that we had in California?” Alan lets out a sigh and shakes his head no.

“It’s just that guy tormented you and Sarina for just over a year. He caused a plane crash that you were both in. He pushed you down a flight of stairs. You’re not going to stand there and tell me that there’s not a single feeling about that all that, are you?” Chase focuses his eyes forward, knowing that it would be a lie to say nothing remained.

“He had a tumor that was causing that. You heard what the doctor said. You heard what Sarina said. He’s totally different with the surgery complete now.” Alan knew of the medical science, and believed it from those he had talked to. It didn’t mean that they were going to avoid the topic.

“Look, that’s all great and lovely. Great for Chris. Great for Sarina. But what about you, Chase?” Chase then looks over at the crew chief.

“What do you want to say? Sure, I feel a tinge of fear when he steps near me. Sure, I’m reminded of the discussion we had before he pushed me. Sure, it’s not totally over with. But I’m trying because I know how much I love Sarina, how much we love each other, and what we have together.” Alan rolls his eyes at the thought, remembering the distrust they went through. He wasn’t on board yet, and couldn’t help but listen to Cindy’s warning of keeping an extra eye on Chase when she wasn’t around.

“I just don’t want you to cause yourself a bigger mess because you’re trying to put on a pretty face for her, okay?” Chase shakes his head, understanding.

“Everything is fine. Now, can we focus on practice?” Alan shakes his head yes as he looks through his notes.

*********************************
Sarina stood on pit road, leaning against the truck as she looked around smiling. She was hopeful for a strong night after running really well in practice, topping the charts in the second session.

“So is sissy going to win?” She hears her brother ask, and looks at him with a smile.

“The truck is good enough to win,” she answers. “Let’s just hope the driver can do the job.”

“You can do it. You’re really good.” She couldn’t help but smile. It was nice to see that everything that happened was left in the rearview mirror, and he was back to being her buddy little brother smiling. It was also nice to see him enjoy a glimpse into her world.

“Thank you.”

“The questions remain whether she can beat her boss, though,” Chase comments as he walks up, wrapping his arms around her, and kissing her lips. She leans back in his arms, smiling even more. It was great to see her brother and boyfriend finally able to stand within a couple feet of each other without something happening.

“So now you don’t believe that I can beat Kyle, even though you’re the one that hired me to drive your late model and kick his ass?” She questions as he laughs.

“Oh, I believe you can beat him. Just be smart out there, okay?” She shakes her head yes, letting out a sigh. She knew that she hadn’t had the cleanest record so far, perhaps wrecking more equipment than intended.

“Are you going to watch from the pit box?” Chase glances over at Chris, before focusing his eyes back on Sarina. Even though he was playing it cool, he couldn’t help but keep an extra eye on the guy.

“Of course.” She smiles as she looks over at Bethany and Chris.

“You guys better be up there, too….”

“Are you sure it okay?” Chris questions and Sarina shakes her head yes. “Chase?” Chase then looks over intrigued.

“It’s not my decisi-” He starts, wondering if perhaps he hadn’t been briefed on that being Kyle and Samantha’s call.

“I don’t want you uncomfortable.” Chase bit his tongue, about to spit out the full truth in how he wanted to ignore it, but kept an extra eye. However, a glance at Sarina said otherwise to play it cool. Besides, she knew of his little tendency so it wasn’t lying.

“It doesn’t bother me, Chris.” Chase could only say those words in knowing Marcus and the engineers would be up there, too. He wasn’t quite ready to be alone with him, yet.

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

Sarina climbs from the truck, smile on her face. It wasn’t the victory or top-five she wanted, but she’d take a solid top-10 finish and move forward. They learnt a lot, and she found herself growing more comfortable with the mile and a halves. Hopefully that’d parlay into having success at Texas next month.

“Solid night,” Marcus says as he walks over, giving her a high five. “Great feedback. Way to stay in the game. Nice driving. That’s what we need to do on nights where we’re a tick off.”

“I have no complaints,” Sarina replies with a smile. “Thank you for a great job calling the race.” Marcus then pulls her into a hug.

“Kyle said we could make a driver out of you. I’m believing that more and more.” She smiles, hoping those words turned out to be true. It’d make every decision she made through the years worth it.

“I’ll keep working at it, that’s for sure…” Marcus knew that, having seen the determination so far.

“Oh, Bethany and your brother went for a walk to check things out and were going to stop by victory lane a quick second to see how that went with Kyle. Chase, meanwhile, said he’d meet you back at his trailer when you got done.” She shakes her head, leaning back against the truck. It figured they’d all get separated. She’d hope they would’ve stayed together, came over to see her, and then they could have a nice little desert trip before she headed off to Bristol. “What’s going on?”

“Is my life ever going to make normal sense?” Marcus then crosses his arms, confused. “Throughout everything, it hasn’t been like the normal life you’re used to. I had parents who were doing things that I couldn’t comprehend. My mother was left asking questions as to my father’s police activities, and then him hiding what he did illegally. My brother went and did his strange behaviors, sand then went after my boyfriend. Nothing in my life has made sense or norm-”

“Nothing?” She then stops, knowing that was a lie as there was a constant.

“Okay, so racing and being damn good and loving it has been. But that’s not the poin-”

“Your boyfriend?” She then laughs, remembering their first couple days together.

“Oh, Chase and I are far from the normal, Marcus. I mean, I put him through the ringer before I’d simply accept a date.” Marcus was surprised, but could see that with her determined style. “But seriously – my brother and Chase are just spending enough time together to keep me happy. But inside, I know the guilt eats at Chris for hurting Chase unintentionally with the tumor, and then Chase wanting to forgive him for it but not able to forget what happened. Will I get to a time where they can be around each other and not think of that?” Marcus thought it over, not sure what answer to give her.

“I don’t know, to be honest. That all depends on Chase and Chris. It depends on whether they can choose to move forward, or not. Given Chase’s nature, I say that he could over time once he believes and trusts in Chris. Look at how he got over you lying to him about your brother’s involvement and everything. Now your brother, I don’t know because I don’t know him.” Sarina runs her hands through her hair, turning around as she lays her head on the truck.

“That doesn’t help me!!” Marcus then turns to face her, rubbing her back.

“All you can do is be honest with them. Tell them your true feelings. Let them express how they feel about each other to you. Keep that honesty going, and maybe it’ll get better. Sarina, if you love Chase and your brother as much as you claim, this is all worth it. But if you find yourself questioning it, then mayb-”

“There’s no way in hell I’m questioning this, ever. Don’t ever think that.” He then takes a step back, accepting immediately.

“I’ll see you in the shop, Monday?” She shakes her head yes as she watches the crew chief walk away.

“Marcus – thank you!” He looks back with a slight smile before continuing to head off in the chosen direction.

Taking a deep breath, she knew she better go find everybody as she had to get out of there and make her way to Bristol. It was time to prove once again why she was one of the best at short track late model racing.

Moving Forward – Chapter 47: The Surprise

Marie grabs her bag, smiling as she walks through the airport, clasping Elsa in her arms with Alyssa in toe.

While it was nice to head home and she took pride in her work, there was nothing like returning home to where she lived now and reuniting with Dale. Besides, she still had some wedding plans to finalize.

“Daddy!!” Alyssa then lets out, running off from Marie as she goes to protest, though immediately smiles as she sees Dale standing there, leaning against the car. “I missed you!”

“I missed you too,” Dale replies as he holds her tightly in his arms, kneeling down to her level. “Did you have fun?” She shakes her head yes.

“I got to play in the garden, played with Lia and Nazelle, baked cookies and a big painting!” He then stands up, smiling as he takes Elsa from her hands.

“You didn’t have to meet me here,” Marie tells him as Dale kisses Elsa’s forehead. “I would’ve just got a ride back to the house.” He then looks over at her.

“I’ve been driving myself crazy missing you, and couldn’t bare to wait a minute longer,” he confesses with a smile. “Besides, I wanted to see my girls….” He then tickles Elsa’s belly, causing her to laugh as he just laughs in response.

“I just figured that you’d be busy today.” He then looks back over at her.

“I always have time for us, you more specifically.” He then leans in and kisses her lips. “And I’ve missed those…” She could only lick her own lips in agreement.

“Chase!!” Alyssa then lets out as she sees Chase heading over to them, running up to him for a hug.

“Chase?!?” Marie questions, glancing between Chase and Dale.

“Hey Alyssa,” Chase says as he gives her a big hug, before taking Elsa out of Dale’s arms. Dale gives him a simple nod, before pulling Marie close to him.

“Considering how much I’ve missed you, I figured we could use some time together,” he tells her, slipping his hand around her, firmly planted on her butt. “Besides, you’ve been busy with your responsibilities and planning the wedding that you need a break. Chase is going to watch the girls, while we have a night to ourselves.”

“We get to spend the night with you?!?” Alyssa questions and Chase shakes his head yes. “That’s awesome!” Chase could only look over at the pair of adults, seeing their eyes locked together. He could only bet how many minutes till they were wrapped in each other’s arms, reunited. There may be a third kid running around before long.

“That sounds like a good idea,” Marie gives in.

“Well, you both better get started on your fun,” Chase states. Everybody trades goodbyes, with Chase grabbing the girls’ stuff and heading off with them.

“My lady…” Dale says as he holds open the door, with a smile.

“My darling,” she replies, giving him a quick kiss before climbing in the car. He then closes the door, walking around to the other side, set for a fun night.

Leaving the airport, the pair were caught in heavy traffic, resulting in steady conversation about her latest trip to Pitronia and the happenings. It also saw them focus their eyes on each other at times, both biting their lips as thoughts fluttered through their minds.

“So what’s the plan for tonight, superstar?” Marie questions as she reaches over, placing her hand on his leg.

“I was thinking we’d go out for dinner, and then head back and spend a quiet night together,” he answers as he looks over into her eyes. “Unless you want to do something else….”

“That sounds like such a good idea. It’s just….” She lets her hand run up his leg to his crotch, placing lightly. “I’ve missed you so much…” He bit his lip, resisting the urge to let out a moan feeling her hand pressing against his package.

“We could skip dinner and head for desert?” She slips her hand underneath the rim of his jeans, forcing her hand down beneath the fabric of his underwear.

“I wouldn’t want to ruin your precious plans or spoil your appetite…” He bites his lip even harder, feeling her rub his package, wishing the traffic would move faster than it was.

“I think you’d be satisfying it more than…..oh man….” She then smiles, stroking him lightly as she locks eyes with his.

“Problem?” He then looks over at her and shakes his head no, leaning in for a kiss before focusing his eyes back on the road. “I can’t tell you how much I missed you…”

“This drive is way too long.” She then laughs as he takes a turn up at the next street, heading down the long alleyway. She releases him from her grasp, placing her hand on his on the shifter, eyes looking at each other briefly and locking, before his eyes returned to the road before them.

“Where are we going?” He just smiles as he takes another turn, pulling it behind the race shop, before reutnring the glance.

“I couldn’t wait. I figured here, behind the shop, we’d have some privacy.” He then flips the key off, turning to face her, leaning in and kissing her lips, as he pulls her close to him.

Back to Square One – Chapter 18: AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway

May 2016 – Race #12

Greenlee walks into the garage, smile on her face, clipboard held tightly close to her. She walks by some of the guys, taking a seat in what had become her usual spot already in just a couple weeks as she opened up the board.

She was getting herself in a good habit.

She would bring the notes from the last meeting containing the set-up they planned to start the weekend with, along with some details on the current weather conditions. That way through morning conversation in the hauler, she’d just have to make notes about small adjustments made to the plan.

She also was already developing her own short hand to use in the book so she could write things quicker, catching everything mentioned by the guys. Then later on, she’d expand it into long form so when reading back the notes were understandable by everybody.

Seeing how close competition was in the garage, there were times she wondered whether it’d be a good idea to actually teach the team the short hand so that way if anybody snagged a peak they’d never understand what was there. Shaking her head, she had to let out a small laugh as she was already turning into one of them looking for an advantage.

She used to trying to find advantages, though. She did with her business in always being on the cutting edge in fragrance and make-up so they’d remain on top. She continued that form when she did street race, keeping the second bottle of NOS hidden to where it couldn’t be seen if somebody peaked in the car.

“Already here working?” She hears, glancing up at Chad with a smile.

“I wanted to make sure everything was in perfect order,” she answers as he simply smiles in return. It seemed with each passing week, he was removing more reservations about her.

“I like your thinking. Maybe we can turn things around this week and actually have a good finish.” He then was about to walk away, but stopped and looked back towards her. “Has Ron mentioned anything since his panic episode at Dega?” She shakes her head no.

“He told me he’d talk when he was good and ready. I’ve been just offering comfort and steadiness, while reminding him that everything will be okay no matter the thoughts.” Chad shakes his head, accepting.

“I told him he could come to me whenever he felt right about doing so, if needed to. I just worry sometimes…” Greenlee smiles, seeing the concerning side of Chad that Ron had mentioned last week.

“When you go through something traumatic, some people just get over it easy while others it takes time. Some people can talk to somebody about it immediately, while others just need to do so in due time. I’m sure he’ll come around and handle it like we both want him to. Patience. All you can do right now is just assure him that everything is okay.” He shakes his head, accepting. He knew her advice was worth listening to after what he had learned from Dom.

“What did you do? Did you always talk about it, or avoid it?” She then looks on puzzled. “Look, I’m always super conscious about this team and everybody. I may have ran a background on you and found out everything that I could know about your past to make sure things were legit.”

“I can understand that based on how I entered the picture, and Ron’s past himself. But to answer your question, I always could talk to Ryan no matter what. We just had that special connection that I can’t even begin to describe, Chad.  It’s why it hurts so much knowing he’s gone. However, I admit there were times that I held it in and even tried running from it. That never did me any good, as you probably learned.” He shakes his head in agreement, having heard a couple of those tales from Dom.

“Well I appreciate what you’re doing for us, and I appreciate you being there for Ron. It means a lot. I hope this second, third chance works out for you.” She could only smile. It was nice to hear a bit of positivity from someone other than just Ron and Jimmie.

“Thanks Chad. That means a lot coming from you. Hopefully this weekend works out.”

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

The crew could only stand there shaking their heads.

They had done everything right. They gave Jimmie a quick car. They had run up front throughout the race. They were even second as the race was in the second half. Then it happened. The transmission messed up on the restart, causing a stack up and a crash, taking out Jimmie and a bunch of his fellow competitors.

Rather than celebrating or at least standing on pit road with a top-five, they had a wrecked car and a 25th place finish.

“We’re going to turn this around, eventually,” Chad states as they finish packing up. “We can’t  do this forever. We’ve been too quick for this to happen all year.”

“It’s a long season bud; we’ll be fine,” Jimmie replied.

Ron and Greenlee just looked at each other, knowing that it’d be another long week in dealing with Chad’s short temper once again. Greenlee was fine with that, as she understood the reasons why and had gotten to see the nicer side of him.

A VampWolf Wedding – Chapter 15: “Necessary Conversation”

Edward Cullin walks through the halls of Brad Keselowski Racing, glancing around as he takes everything in before reaching the office in question.

“He’s in there,” Austin Cindric simply says before walking away.

“He?” Edward questions as the young driver looks back.

“Yeah, Brad. Isn’t that who you’re here to see?” Edward pulls out his phone, re-reading the text message.

“Usually it’s Juliette that sends me messages to meet her different places.” He then reads it over, once again, “But nope, this time it is Brad. Thanks…”

“You’re welcome.” Austin then heads down the hallway, glancing back a little curious as he watches Edward enter the office, closing the door behind him.

“You know, normally it’s Juliette that wants to talk about things. You never want to talk vampire things…” Brad looks up from his desk, knowing that Edwards was right. However, this was important.

“Let’s just say this is a necessary conversation about my daughter,” Brad informs him as Edwards sits down, slightly confused.

“Everything okay?” Edward asks, a little worried based on Brad’s tone.

“They are – but only because Juliette stepped in. Let’s just say that she tried to bite my teammate a week and a half ago.” Edward’s jaw drops in surprise, though he had to admit it wasn’t totally a worst case scenario. He remembered when Bella met his family for the first time.

“How did that come about?”

“He came to my motorcoach for a band-aid as his finger was bleeding. A bit dropped on the floor, and she smelt it before going for a bite. I pushed him out of the motorcoach and her way, while Juliette grabbed her.” Edward was thankful for the quick movements by both, only wondering as to what would’ve happen should the teammate been bitten.

“What was his reaction?” Brad remembered the pair of conversations clearly. It was why he called Edward.

“Caught off-guard, scared, fearful, wondering whether he should even spend time around myself and Melody. He questioned it twice to me. Let’s just say that it wasn’t the most settling experience. Now, Joey is my best friend and we spend a ton of time together. I can’t be having this happen, especially not again.” Edward understood the concern, remembering the concerns he had surrounding Bella before he eventually bit her.

“As long as you keep her away during the full moon hours, and make sure there’s no more bloody sightings, there shouldn’t be a problem.” Brad took in those words, wanting to leave the topic alone.

“There shouldn’t be? I want a guarantee.” Edward lets out a sigh, wishing he could do that.

“Look, there’s a 95% chance of nothing hap-”

“But there’s a 5% chance that she’ll go after him again? Do you realize this isn’t a chance that I want to take?” Edward could only sigh once again.

“I get that. However, nobody has ever done this before – werewolf and vampire. Nobody knows how that’s going to mix and affect things. Hence why I can’t give you perfection. I know it’d be fine vampire world, but I don’t know how being a werewolf affects that.” Brad could only shake his head in response, accepting.

“Sometimes I just wish we didn’t have to deal with this at all. I just wish there was something I could do and it’d magically go away. It becomes more a problem than a good thing. The worst part is trying to make people like Joey, Brittany and Paul understand.” Edward could only symphasize, remembering his experience with Bella’s father.

“Give it time. As they learn more and see that things aren’t as strange or weird as they seem, or at least somewhat more balanced than given credit for, they’ll get it. I know it’s stressful and painful at times, but it’ll be fine. Besides, I think they can all attend the wedding without fear of incident.” Brad lets out a sigh as he knew that was now just over a month away, and yet plans hadn’t been finalized yet. “Bad topic?”

“Sometimes I just wish we could go to the local court house, get married and be done with it. Trying to balance ourselves with tradition is just pain staking at times.” Edward smiled as he remembered his and Bella’s wedding together.

“You’ll figure it out. You both always do.”

At home, Juliette sat on the couch, holding Melody in her arms as she rubbed her back.

“You know, your ears are sort of cute,” she comments, seeing the werewolf formation of her ears. “Perhaps cuter than your father…”

“Dada…” Melody says as Juliette just smiles, holding her tighter.

“Yeah, dada. You’re like your dad in many ways sweetheart.” She then glances down, noticing something tickling her by her stomach, laughing as a little tail sticks out. “Oh Melody….”

“Race…race…” During days like this, she’d just jabber random words, not noticing a single thing different despite furry ears and a tail. The only ones who noticed the difference was those around her.

“Yes, sweetheart. We get to see daddy race this weekend.” Juliette glanced at the calendar, knowing it’d all fade away that night with the full moon phase over for May. In a way, she was glad as it brought some normalcy back to their lives. However, she had to admit that she was cute with it.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 58: “Alyssa’s Home!”

Monday evening

 

Alyssa walks into the house, slipping off her shoes as he glances into the living room.

An immediate smile formed on her face as she saw her father bonding with Robby, joking about the latest game that they were playing. She walks in quietly, glancing at the screen as she had to laugh at Robby beating him.

She knew that her dad was still there as he had texted her shortly after Chase got home. He sent her a quick update, which had put her heart at ease after the morning events and text from her dad then.

“Alyssa’s home!” Robby lets out, noticing his sister as Dale pauses the game, looking over at his daughter.

“How long have you been standing there?” He questions as she shrugs her shoulders. “How was your day?”

“Oh, so we’re going to be like the perfect home greeter with the questions?” She teases as he just shrugs his shoulders. “Actually, it was pretty good. We had a lot of positives to take from the weekend, and meetings went smoothly for once.”

“Did you smack Kevin for running you out of gas?” Robby questions, causing a shocked expression from both Dale and Alyssa. “That’s what Mommy said to do.”

“As much as it sucked, those things sometimes happen and Kevin mostly gets it right so we’ll let this one slide,” Alyssa reasons as she glances around the house. “Where’s Chase?” Robby points to the stairs.

“He was supposed to go upstairs and have a nap because he was so tired from the past couple nights,” Dale starts as Alyssa shakes her head, understanding. She couldn’t complain based on everything. “I went upstairs about an hour after he went up and he wasn’t in the bedsroom. Instead, he’s actually in the spare bedsroom curled up with your dog.” Alyssa then looks on surprised.

“Really?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“I grabbed a blanket and threw it over him. Hey, sometimes a dog can offer that comfort you need.” Alyssa shakes her head, understanding, but still caught off-guard.

“It’s just he’s not much of a cuddler…..”

“Maybe he knew Chase needed a cuddle.” Alyssa couldn’t reason it herself, but it didn’t bother her. “Anyways, I will go because he said that he didn’t want me sticking around after you got home. Text me if either of you need anything.” Dale then walks over, wrapping an arm around her. “I love you, and everything will be okay.”

“I know. I love you, Dad, and thank you.” She then gives Robby a hug, roughing up hair a little before watching the pair head out.

After closing the front door, she heads to the kitchen, glancing in the fridge with a smile. She had an idea for that night.

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

Chase comes down the stairs, stopping as he reaches the bottom, smiling at the smell. He then makes his way into the kitchen, the smile remaining as he saw Alyssa checking on the pasta.

“That smells so good,” he comments, causing her to look over.

“Well, well someone is up,” she replies with a smile of her own. She then walks over, wrapping her arm around him, and giving him a kiss before returning back to the stove. “Sleep well?”

“I did, actually.” He then sits at the counter. “Hey, if I scared you this morning, I’m sorry…” She then turns around to face him.

“It caught me right off-guard, Chase, but I understand. It’s okay. You don’t need to worry. I’m just glad that you talked it out with my dad, and went to see Eric. As long as you’re taking baby steps, that’s what matters.” Chase had to smile at the comment, having heard the same from Dale just earlier that day. “So, how’d you end up with my dog?”

“I had to go to the bathroom so I went and then as I walking back, I noticed that he had pulled out one of the rabbit stuffed animals he isn’t allowed again. So I snagged it back, put it up. I then laid down to pet him for a bit because I felt bad for taking it off of him, and I guess I fell asleep.” She then smiles, as it was a suitable explanation.

“I’m surprised he cuddled because that’s not like him, but I guess he figured you needed it.”

“You know you’re spoiling me by making this…” She then smiles as she places a plate of chicken parmesan in front of him, handing over the cheese next.

“I figured you could have your favorite to make you feel better.” She then gets her plate for herself, sitting down beside him.

“Thank you so much. I mean, I hate you pushing yourself with everyth-”

“Just because I only got one hand that I can use doesn’t mean that you need to play that damn sympathy card with me, Elliott. I can handle it.” He freezes upon her reaction, taking a deep breath of his own. He knew it was a touchy subject with her and tried to avoid normally.

The pair sit together eating dinner, lightly discussing the happenings of his day, followed by what happened at the shop for her.  Once they were both done, Chase takes the plates, placing them in the sink and washing them off. He then lets out a yawn as he places the plates in the dishwasher.

“Still tired?” Alyssa questions as she shows up behind him, wrapping an arm around him.

“A little, actually,” he answers as he turns around to face her.

“Well why don’t we forget about everything else for tonight, go upstairs, put on a movie and lay together watching it? That way you can catch up on some sleep.” He then runs his fingers through his hair.

“It’s only like 8, and you probably have something else you want to do, and it’s way earl-”

“You’re tired, and you need to get some rest. You can’t be walking around half asleep. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt for me to get some extra sleep either.” She then takes a pause, careful deep breath, as her eyes focus on his. “I know when you’ve been not sleeping at night because I’ve been waking up a couple times with nightmares.”

“Again?” She shakes her head yes. “Alyssa, I….”

“You don’t need to start on explanation or whatever. We all know why. Look, just like you’re figuring this out, I’ll figure that out with due time. I’m getting sleep when I can and handling things when I can – take the conversation with Regan on the way home. Don’t worry – I’ll be fine.”  He lets out a sigh, knowing that he couldn’t just do that. She had been there for him all morning.

“You tell me not to worry, but yet you spend all this time worrying about me and cooking me dinner. Remember – it goes both ways.” She knew that, as she lets out a sigh.

“Look, I don’t want to discuss it right now, okay? I’d rather just focus on getting some rest and then discuss it when I can. And don’t worry, I won’t put it off or do something stupid, okay?” He shakes his head yes.

The pair then let their fingers lace together, heading up the stairs with the dog closely following behind.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 80: The City of Oz

Sarina lets out a sigh as she leans back against her truck, twirling her ankle, before taking a glance down pit road. She just wanted to put together a solid run to keep the momentum rolling after the last race.

“My little superstar ready to go?” Crew chief Marcus Richmond questions as he walks over. She shakes her head yes. “That’s good. I’m just glad that you’re here ready to go tonight.”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” She questions as he points to her foot. She then lets out a sigh. “It’s just a sprain, pretty much almost healed. Gonna be like Chase and go crazy over it?” Marcus then looks at her with a glance of surprise.

“So he’s on your case that much this week?” She shakes her head yes as he lets out a whistle. “What?”

“That boy has it hard for you, probably more than you realize…” She just rolls her eyes. “Actually, maybe you have it just as much. I’m guessing you freaked a little after he flew at Talladega?”

“Wheels left the ground – doesn’t that warrant a freak out?” He shrugs his shoulders. “Besides, I was going to kill Hootie.” Marcus then looks back confused.

“Hootie?” She shakes her head yes. “Who the hell is Hootie?”

“A stuffed animal that Hooters gave him. I figure it’s the curse of our bad luck.” Marcus glances over as he sees Chase heading their way.

“You didn’t bring the owl with you this weekend, did you?” She shakes her head no. “Just checking….”

“Superstitious?” He then puts his hands up in the air.

“I’m not taking any chances based on how we started this year.” She lets out a sigh as he walks away, knowing it hadn’t been the prettiest start. They told her that sometimes rookie have a rough learning curve and things don’t go their way, but that didn’t mean she was pleased about it.

**********

Chase climbs up onto the pit box, taking his usual seat in the second row, catching a couple concerning glances. It had been hard to convince some of the crew guys to allow him to sit up there with fears that he’d steal notes or something for GMS Racing or Hendrick Motorsports to use. However, Kyle worked at it, explaining the reasoning was simply to just support Sarina and Chase would never do that. It didn’t mean that he didn’t get the cold shoulder at times, though.

His eyes focus immediately to the No. 18 Switch Toyota Tundra on track, hopeful for a great night of racing. Ultimately, the night didn’t start out as planned with contact between Sarina and Ben Rhodes on Lap 2 after going three-wide.

“There was no room for him!” Sarina yells on the radio, referring to Rhodes.

“10-4 truck looks fine,” her spotter tells her. “Just focus on the task at hand.”

She didn’t argue with her team, knowing that she had a job to do. She also didn’t argue when Marcus made the choice to pit with 10 laps to go in the stage, knowing they weren’t close to getting points and they’d gain valuable track position when everybody else pitted.

The strategy call looked to have worked as she restart fourth, though everything fell apart with 26 laps to go in the second stage when she headed down pit road with a flat tire.

“The carcass rolled back out on the track,” her spotter radios.

“Take your time team, do it right; we’re going to be fine,” Marucs tells him team as Chase sits back, watching. He could only shake his head as it didn’t seemed like Sarina could never catch a break.

She went back on track, though was unable to make up any ground as she continued to fall further back in the running order, laps down to the leaders.

“Something is wrong with the clutch. I’m pretty sure it’s gone,” She radios, not liking how it felt at all.

“Bring it to the garage,” Marcus says as Chase lets out a sigh. He could only think about the disappointment for both Sarina and the team in yet another day gone bad.

He walked back to the garage area, standing back as the crew looked over the truck and she climbed out. He let her debrief with the guys, not wanting to interrupt them as he knew what was like about her racing and knew he wouldn’t want to be interrupted himself. They were both the type that once in their zone, don’t mess it up.

Eventually she makes her way over to where he was standing leaning against the pillar, texting someone. He immediately puts his phone in his pocket, pulling her close and wrapping his arma around her.

“You were doing a great job,” he tells her. “None of that was your fault as you were doing great out there. It’s just one of those shitty luck deals. You were fast, and you’ll get them next week at Charlotte. You’re going to have a great year. I believe in you…” He then kisses her forehead as he keeps her held close to him. He knew how hard she could be on herself – having done the same thing himself through the years. He also knew how she let frustration eat at her sometimes. He didn’t know the magic touch to make it go away, but knew comforting words helped ease the sting.

“As much as I want to scream and throw a tantrum, you’re right,” she replies as she looks up into his eyes. “But I learned a lot tonight. I learned more about racing in traffic. I learned about restarts. I’m starting to understand these intermediate tracks more. We’re making progress.”

“That’s my girl right there. That’s what I want to hear.” They then head out of the garage area together, knowing they both needed their sleep. Chase had a race tomorrow, while she was off to Bristol to do some testing ahead of the Short Track Nationals. “I hate that you’re testing tomorrow….”

“I hate being away from you, but it’s part of the game. We’re not going to win if we don’t test.” He knew that she was right, based on where the program was the last time the late model was out.

“I’m just glad that you agreed to drive for me again instead of Kyle.” She then laughs, remembering the discussion had about that.

“Oh see, I didn’t say yes because of you. I said yes because of Ricky. I miss our fun times.” He then looks at her a little surprised.

“Oh, so you don’t care that you’re driving for your boyfriend and going to make him proud when you run well?” She felt her nerves flip flop, knowing it was going to be a tough field down there.

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch….” He knew where the comment was coming from – confidence wasn’t as high as warranted with everything going on lately.

“Don’t get down on yourself. You’re a great driver. You damn well earned this shot.” She looks over, shaking her head yes in agreement.

There was not a weekend that went by that she didn’t think back to the days of working on cars by herself, racing underfunded equipment as she tried to get her name out there. She also thought about the journey life took her in moving by herself to North Carolina, escaping what was at home, and the ups-and-downs that brought with moving forward. Perhaps it was the pressure from that pushing her to succeed and pissing her off more when things didn’t go their way.

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

Sarina walks into the trailer, flopping on the couch as she places the bucket of popcorn between them. After solid laps all day at Bristol, her and Ricky had sat down ready to watch the happenings of Kansas.

The race started off strongly for Chase as he ran up front in the early stages, looking like he could contend for the victory. However, a trip down pit road and the world dropped out from underneath them.

“Come on here, come on here,” Alan Gustafson calls over the radio after the second caution of the race. “Right sides.”

“Watch that 95 here – he’s coming in late,” Eddie D’Hondt says over the radio as the pit crew conducts the pit stop. Once the tires are changed, jack goes down, Chase pulls out of the stall throttle down, hitting Michael McDowell and spinning McDowell around.

“Damn it! Back it up here…” Sarina could only echo the frustration of the crew chief, knowing the amount of damage that probably did to Chase’s front end.

“Well there goes our night,” Chase says over the radio. “Fucking awesome!” Sarina then reaches for the remote, switching the race off as she stands up and walks towards the exit.

“That’s it?” Ricky questions as she looks back at him. “They could make it back up….” Sarina then laughs, shaking her head no.

“There’s enough damage there that he’ll be riding around all night,” she replies. “Like he said – night over because Alan can’t damn well do his job properly and clear him leaving the stall!” Ricky’s jaw drops in shock of the anger let out by Sarina.

“Alan knows what he’s doin-”

“Explain why the hell that happened?!?” Ricky takes a deep breath, thinking his efforts would probably be worth nothing based on the anger.

“Alan doesn’t clear him leaving; that’s not what they do. Eddie watches, gives warning, but it’s Chase’s doi-”

“How is Chase supposed to clear his damn self when he probably didn’t see the 95 due to the headrest and visibility in those cars? Are you just trying to make excuses, Ricky?” Ricky shakes his head no as he lets out a sigh. He knew it was worthless.

“I’m just stating how things work. Obviously they’ll probably be changes moving forward. Now, where are you off to?” She then crosses her arms.

“What are you? A cop?” He knew he should’ve probably just shut his mouth right from the start.

“I’m curious, okay?” She then let out a sigh, knowing perhaps she shouldn’t be dishing her anger out at Ricky. She’d just have to kick Alan’s ass next time she saw him.

“I’m going for a walk to cool my head, and then probably going to come back and re-watch the practice videos. I want to see what I’ve been doing wrong. I then may also re-watch the videos of Charlotte that Kyle sent me. Is that okay, officer?” Ricky knew some cooling off time would be very warranted.

“Yeah….” She then smiles, grabbing her phone and leaving.

Ricky sits back on the couch, flipping the race back on, now hoping Jimmie could pull off a win after that disaster.