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.

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