Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 90: AAA 400 Drive for Autism

Christopher Bell leans back against a post, watching Chase and Sarina walk through the garage together. He could only let out a sigh as Todd Gilliland walked up to join him.

“You seem a little disheartened watching them,” Todd comments, catching a glance from Christopher. “If I didn’t know you had a girlfriend, I’d say you were crushing on her.” Christopher chuckles as he lets out a sigh.

“She’s not that bad looking bud, but you’re right – no crushing,” Christopher says. “I’m just thinking about what she said to me.”  Todd then glances over surprised.

“When she called you a jackass?” Christopher laughs and shakes his head no.

“We talked on Friday, actually. She asked me to get off her back and stop annoying her about Chase. I said I guess I could, but I had my reasons. I mean, you know – oh wait, you probably don’t know much about the fight they had after what happened at the Winter Meltdown, do you?” Todd shakes his head no. “Anyways, I have my doubts and concerns of their fight and what happened with her brother. I’m worried about her, you know? So she accepted that they were reasonable concerns in response, and told me her reasons as to why they weren’t bothering her. I accepted.”

“So that should mean this is all over and you staring is nothing, right?” Christopher glances at his teammate and shrugs his shoulders.

“It should, but I asked her why it meant a lot to her. Let’s just say that her response was interesting as to her background, and how she hasn’t had that person for stability or trust in her life – till she got the chance to run a late model down here, and till she met Chase. He’s only the second person, per her, to give her a true chance. It made me think…”

“You’re starting to realize that you were a jackass?” Christopher turns his head sharply as Todd smiles. “Hey, it’s okay to admit it. We’ve all done that before.”

“I guess…..”

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

Chase stood by the car on pit road, leaning against it as he lets out a sigh. If it was up to him, he’d just snap his fingers and it would be race time. Instead, he had to wait impatiently for opening ceremonies to commence.

“I’m surprised you don’t got a body guard or something hanging around,” He hears and glances over at his mom. He takes off his sunglasses, giving her a surprised glance.

“Why do you say that?” He questions, waiting for some reference to Sarina’s brother.

“Between Jared being poisoned, to that driver at Bristol, and then now Jake this weekend, I thought security would’ve been increased.” He couldn’t blame her as he had wondered the same after the events experienced. However, instead, they each go briefed on the happenings and that was all.

“We were just warned about the usual protocol of watch where you get stuff from, and make sure nobody is slipping something in your cup. That’s why this is being held close…” His mom walks over, giving him the once over as she glances at the bottle of Gatorade.

“Have they done any proper investigating?” Bill wonders. “Any leads?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, knowing the authorities were giving little details as possible.

“I know Jared went through a good questioning session with them as they wondered what he remembered and who was around him. Alan, Greg and a couple of the guys also got questioned as to how much he was around them and away from them, and also background checked due to possible reasoning – who knows why. I had a quick round of questions with them being my crew member, and Sarina spent a good round with them due to Jake.”

“Any update on Jake?” Sarina smiles as she walks over, wrapping an arm around Chase.

“I went and saw him yesterday actually,” she states. “He’s doing pretty good. They said that he is in the clear so he should be released soon and back to work. Didn’t Jared go back to work this week?” Chase shakes his head yes, pointing to him as he sat on the wall with the other guys.

“That’s good to hear.”

“Oh yes, because everybody needs Jared picking on them,” Chase comments as Jared perks up.

“Did you say something over there, Mr. Elliott?” Jared questions as Chase looks back.

“You’re hearing things…” Jared then stands up and walks over.

“I don’t think so….” He then wraps an arm around Sarina and leads her away. “Listen, that boy there, he’s trouble. You got to watch that one. I tell you he’s going to play games with you.” She then laughs as she looks back over at Chase.

“I don’t think I have anything to worry about man,” she comments as she sneaks out of his grasp and back over to Chase.

“Find your own girl; this sweetpea is all mine,” Chase says as he gives her a quick kiss.

“Sweetpea?” Bethany questions as she walks over. “That’s an interesting nickname that I’d never hear said in reference to Sarina.” Sarina then looks over at her cousin and brother.

“And that’s a nickname that you’ll never ever damn well repeat,” Sarina states as Bethany just smirks at her.

“Wait till the family reunion. Sarina Sweetpea Ott.” Sarina glances down at the comment, shaking her head.

“We’re having one of those?” Bethany shakes her head yes. “Lovely. Count me out.”

“Why is that?” Sarina looks over at her cousin.

“Because I told you damn well what I thought of the family. Wasn’t that made clear already? Been through enough shit to do that.”

“Easy,” Chase comments as he rubs her shoulders. “Bethany, why don’t you can the topic for now and we talk about it later, okay?” She then rolls her eyes as she glances at Chris.

“Want to go find our seat?” She question and he shakes his head yes. They then head off together as Chase lets out a sigh.

“Family ties that bad?” Bill questions as they walk away and Sarina shakes her head yes.

“I’d rather not talk about it, but yeah,” she answers as she glances into Chase’s eyes. He knew her reasons as he kept his arms tightly wrapped around her.

“Hence why I said that I couldn’t trust them,” Cindy says, earning a stern glance from both Bill and Chase. “Don’t give me that look. You boys know what I said.” Sarina remembered her thoughts when speaking with Bell as she takes a deep breath. If she was going to earn Cindy’s trust, that started now.

“Cindy, I know I have a questionable past and certainly I know that has caused issues – I apologize continually over and over for what happened. But I can assure you and promise you that I will never, ever hurt your son again or your family. I love you both and you’re both sweet as ever, and that’s not my intention here. I love Chase, I can’t wait for what’s to come in the future, and there’s really no words to describe what I feel. I just hope that over time you can give me the respect and maybe a little love that I’ve got for you.” Cindy crosses her arms, eyes focused on the young lady in her son’s arms.

“With all due respect Ms. Chelsy Dryer, I can’t just turn a leaf and pretend that nothing happ-”

“I understan-”

“So don’t expect me to just bend over and say everything is fine till I damn well see what you’re saying. Based on your questionable family history and given your brother’s past, I think I have a very reasonable concern as to why I’m not comfortable with Bethany or Chris hanging around Chase and everybody. I think there’s reasons for me to double check safety at times. You probably get that, don’t you? Perhaps if you would’ve taken the whole deal seriously from the start, ousted your brother, solved this problem and then kept distance, you could’ve got what you wanted.” Sarina felt taken back by the comments – even more surprised in the usage of her real name. However, it was understandable given Cindy’s feelings on the situation.

“I understand what you’re saying, fully. All I can do is say my peace and try and show you, and hopefully it comes over time. There’s nothing else to say. And as far as my brother, we went through that in what happened with the brain surgery and such.” Cindy rolls her eyes, remembering.

“Don’t need a reminder. Chase, good luck today sweetheart. I hope you have a good run and we’ll talk after.” Chase rolls his eyes, knowing the discussion will be again whether he should trust Sarina or not. A glance at his dad hopefully meant that he’d have a talk with her first.

“Thanks,” he replies. “I love you.” He lets go of Sarina, walking over to give his parents each a hug, before returning to her as they make their way down pit road.

“I’m sorry….” Sarina says quietly as he pulls her back close.

“You don’t have to a single thing to say sorry about. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has a questionable decisions of their past. It’s not your fault what your family did. I know you feel bad for your mistakes and yes they hurt, but it’s okay. I’ve forgiven you because of the effort that you’ve put forth to fix the situation and just by how much you love me.” He turns her around in his arms, looking into her eyes. “I love you….”

“But I started that deal with Betha-”

“You have every right to skip that family reunion and tell her that straight up. I was fine with that. I just got her to cool off for now because we don’t need to do that here.” Sarina then glances down.

“But your mother….” He then puts his hand under her chin, tilting her head back up so their eyes were locked together.

“Remember – I told you that it’d take time with my mom. She’s going to test and twist you every way that she can imagine. That’s because I’m her baby bear, and she’s going to do whatever she can to protect me – she’s always been that way. Don’t let what she says get to you and trust that over time, she’ll see why I love you so much and love you just the same. She did let you in her house, right?” Sarina chuckles and shakes her head yes. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She then gives him a kiss as they hear the cue for opening ceremonies.

Letting out a sigh as he grabs her hand firmly, he couldn’t wait for the race to start and leave this all in the rearview. There was some nagging part of him that agreed with his mom’s concerns over Chris. Bethany – that was an unsolvable interest.

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

Sarina walks up to him after the race, wrapping both arms around him as she reaches up and kisses his lips.

“I’m so damn proud of you!” She tells him. “You drove your butt off on that last restart to get up there and snag a top-five. That’s how you do it.” He then smiles as he spins her around his arms.

“It’s nice to break the curse, as we say,” he replies as he sets her back down. “And thank you.”

“You’re amazing. I can’t wait for your first win…”

“You’re going to get one, too.” He then takes her hand, giving the pit crew a quick wave before they head off together.

“What are we going to do about this week?” He lets out a sigh and shakes his head. Beyond Monday, the pair weren’t going to get a lot of time together. he was off to Chicago to test on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed her heading off to Texas on Thursday for practice. She was then racing in Texas on Friday while he was at Pocono for practice and qualifying. With her plans to stay in Texas on Saturday for the IndyCar race, that meant the pair wouldn’t see each other till Sunday – and that was only if she made the trip from Texas to Pocono for the Cup race.

“Promise me that you’ll text me and face time as much as you can?” She shakes her head yes.

“Of course. Promise me that you’ll kick ass?” He then laughs.

“As long as you do the same.” He then lets out a sigh as he looks towards her. “We better get used to this as we have a long summer ahead of us.” She shakes her head, knowing there were going to be plenty of weekends apart.

“As long as we both run well and remind each other of how much we love each other, I say we’ll be okay.” He smiles as he gives her a hand a squeeze.

“I hope you’re right…”

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