Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 100: Sonoma

Ryan makes his way back into the hotel room after getting breakfast with his crew guys, grabbing his bag as he searches for something.

“Ugh!!!” Sarina lets out as she looks at herself in the mirror, trying to fix her hair.

“You realize that you look pretty without getting all frustrated over a simple piece, right?” Ryan questions as she looks out of the bathroom.

“Well I appreciate the compliment, this pony tail is pissing me off.” He then laughs as he sets his stuff down, walking over into the bathroom.

“Give me the hair tie…” She hands it over, slightly confused. He then grabs the brush off the counter, running it through her hair a couple times, before putting the hair up in a perfect pony tail. She then checks it out, swinging it back and forth a couple times, before looking back at Ryan impressed. “What? I have two sisters, remember?”

“Right, that’s the reason for this. But, thank you.” She then exits the bathroom, making her way over to the bed. She taps Chase’s shoulder, waking him up as Ryan just rolls his eyes.

“You should’ve let me put whip cream or something in his hand….” She then looks on, surprised.

“And let you have some fun? Nah, I got the honor of that last night.” He then rolls his eyes, still mad about how that prank played out.

“I still owe you one…” She then laughs as Chase sits up, glancing between the pair.

“Why does morning come so early?” He questions as he kicks the blanket off the bed.

“Technically, you slept in three extra hours than you would on the east coast,” Ryan comments as Chase just flips him the bird while walking by to the bathroom. “Is he always grumpy in the morning?”

“It depends,” Sarina reasons. She then walks over to the mini fridge, pulling out a small bottle of orange juice. She had put it in there the night before, set to sip on it in the morning before heading out with Chase to the track and getting breakfast. Chase couldn’t help but chuckle from the bathroom as he watched her undo the cap, causing him to quickly slam the door as she looked over suspicious. “He’s also goofy at times in the morning.”

“He’s a special one, isn’t he?” Ryan then sits back on the bed, set for the day and knowing he should head out, but he couldn’t resist leaving and watching the show. Sarina untwists the cap, bringing the bottle up to her mouth. She takes a mouthful, immediately spitting it out afterwards.

“What the heck?” She then looks over the bottle, confused as ever. “That taste like no tropicana. That is just crap!” She checks the expiry date, but it hadn’t expired.

“Did it taste cheesy?” She then lowers the bottle, looking at Ryan confused.

“A little….” He then smiles with a laugh as he opens the drawer, throwing her a box of kraft dinner that was missing the cheese packet. He then goes into the cooler that he had, throwing her a bottle of proper orange juice.

“The look on your face when you tasted it was priceless!” She then looks at the contents he threw her, slightly confused, before looking back over.

“You switched my orange juice with kraft dinner cheese and water?” He shakes his head yes with a laugh. “Oh you dirty rascal!”

“Check mate!” He then grabs his bag and heads for the door as she stands up. “And on that note, I need to get to the track…” He then quickly closes the door behind him and takes off down the hall before she could catch up.

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

Sarina climbs up on the pit box, uncertain of how the day would play out. She had hopes of a good finish, but felt nerves based on how the weekend had begun with the practice crash.

Her nerves were calmed in the beginning stages, as he completed the first stage in the 11th position. She watched as he moved forward, racing his way into the top-10 before the second stage was complete.

“We’ve got some significant front end damage here,” Alan says over the radio to Chase. “So we’re going to pit an extra time, fix it, and that way you’ll be fine for the second half. I just don’t want to screw us over.”

“10-4.” Sarina hated to see him lose the track position, but understood the crew chief’s theory. She just hoped that the pit strategy turned out in their favor through the second half of the event.

As the race winded down, he was able to continue moving forward, running as high as third before he made his way down pit road with 30 to go for his final stop. He quickly got himself back into the top-15, racing his way up into the top-10. He was then able to retain the track position, crossing the finish line in eighth.

While the finish was nothing to write a big book about and be super proud of, it still brought smiles to Chase, Alan and the crew after the race. After struggling so hard at the beginning of the weekend, it was nice to see him finding his groove turning both left and right.

“I’m proud of you,” Sarina says as she gives him a kiss on the lips. “I can’t wait to spend this whole week with you.”

“I can’t wait to see you sun tanning all nice at the beach while I’m swimming,” he comments, and she couldn’t deny that herself. There was nothing to deny about seeing a cute, well-fit boy in just his swim trunks.

“Aww something to keep me entertained while I work on my tan. There’s nothing wrong with that.” He then smiles as they watch Kyle walk over to them.

“Well well, glad to see the love birds are still enjoying paradise,” Kyle Busch comments as the pair just smile. “Sarina, I just wanted to double check something. You put a request in to have Bethany’s credential revoked?” She shakes her head yes. “Okay, that’s fine. I just wanted to make sure that there wasn’t an issue there.”

“We’re not talking because she obviously can’t let go of the past or understand that I am done with family,” Sarina explains, in which Kyle just simply shakes his head in agreement.

“What about your brother? Is everything still cool there?” She shakes her head yes, even if his comment a week ago wasn’t the most well-thought out. “Alright. I’m just asking so I know who to put on the list for Kentucky, and who not to. It just seems odd that your brother is hanging out with her a lot, too.”

“Let’s just say that he gets where I’m coming from, but still doesn’t want to let the family connection go. I can’t deny that with him because of what we’ve all been through.” Kyle shakes his head, understanding.

“As long as there’s no issues, then I’m not going complain.” She puts her hands up, knowing that there’s no problems.

“I’m going to go actually catch up with him for a quick second, and then we can head out, okay?” Chase shakes his head yes, before giving her a quick kiss as she heads off. Kyle watches, before turning to Chase.

“I haven’t mentioned what we talked about, in relation to her brother. Have you talked to her at all?” Chase shakes his head no. “I don’t want to bring it up, but it’s still concerning….”

“I feel it’s coincidence, but that’s just me,” Chase comments as he glances towards the direction she headed. “Why are we talking about this, though?”

“I’m just concerned, that’s all,” Kyle says. “I don’t want her judgment of her brother to mess things up for her, and everybody else.” Chase shakes his head, understanding.

“Well like I said, I’m not concerned.” Chase knew that was a lie as he couldn’t deny keeping an extra eye out for Chris at times.

He also hoped that maybe the police would find a lead, and arrest somebody for what had happened lately so they could leave all the worries behind.

Advertisements

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 99: Saturday @ Sonoma

Saturday, June 24

 

Sarina walks into the garage area, adjusting her lanyard as she lets out a yawn. With no sleep through the previous night, needless to say she was ready for a long nap somewhere.

After a busy day at the track yesterday, she flew home to North Carolina with the team. Right upon landing, she walked into the house and switched out her firesuit and a couple other items for some jeans and t-shirts, re-zipping the bag. She let herself grab a quick shower – she was sweaty and sticky and hated it – before heading out to meet up with Amy.

The girls then boarded the plane, making the flight out to California for Saturday morning. She thought of sleeping on the flight, but that didn’t happen as her fear of planes caused her to keep watch thorough the entire experience.

The pair landed in California, adjusting the three hour time difference, with plans set in motion. Amy invited Sarina to join her and some other ladies on a wine tasting tour, but she proudly declined. For her, she’d rather spend a day at the track than sitting around drinking fancy wine.

Now armed with a Mountain Dew Kickstart (perks of boyfriend sponsored by them), she had made her way to the track and was set to find the person of the hour.

She walked into the garage area, smiling as she noticed a familiar No. 21 Ford. Setting a smile on her face, she walks over, wrapping her arms around the driver by the back of the car.

“Hey Ryan,” she says with a smile as he jumps out of his skin, spinning around to face her.

“Hey!” He lets out as he glances around the garage. “Do you realize what Chase would say if he saw us together like that?” She shrugs her shoulders with a smile.

“Oh Blaney, oh Blaney, I guess Chase didn’t fill you in the details for tonight, now did he? We’re going to have our own little lifesaber battle. Hope you’re up for it, Jedi.” His jaw drops in shock as he takes another glance around, hoping nobody was hearing. “What’s wrong? Scared someone will hear of your dirty plans for tonight?”

“Are you sure that you’re the same girl that I met that day at Hickory? Wait – are you the same girl that I saw just a couple weeks ago? Are you sure you’re not some twin or something? And what have you done to Chase? I mean, this is….No, that can’t be happening.” She laughs as she notices the look on his face.

“Ah boy, this is going to be a fun weekend. I can’t believe that you actually fell for it. Nice seeing you, and good luck.” She then puts her sunglasses back on and walks away as he stands there, shaking his head in total shock, before walking back to his team.

She continues making her way down the stretch of garages, destination already in sight as she couldn’t wait to see her actual man of the hour. If there was anybody that keep her awake it was him.

“Sarina!” She hears and stops in her tracks, rolling her eyes immediately as she spins around. She wanted to avoid him, but it would rude to ignore the boss.

“Hey Kyle,” she says in the politest way that she could muster.

“I’m surprised that you’re here – well, sort of. I mean, I get wanting to be with Chase, but really after last night?” She shakes her head yes, wishing that she could just get the conversation over with.

“We have to take advantage of what time we can get together with our schedule, right?” Kyle couldn’t argue that.

“I just wanted to say great job last night. You handled yourself very well, and took what the truck was willing to give you. I was impressed by what I saw. We’ll talk on Tuesday about restarts so you’ll be better for Kentucky, okay?” She shakes her head yes, knowing that she was probably going to get enough advice from Chase already. However, it didn’t hurt to also listen to the restart master.

“I appreciate the tips and advice whenever you get a chance. Thanks for the compliments, and good luck today.”

“Thank you.” He then glances at her hand and shakes his head. “Really? I thought you would’ve been carrying around a NOS instead.” She then lets out a sigh, knowing the balance of everybody having their own sponsor commitments.

“Let’s just say easy access with flying out with Amy is my reason. Don’t worry – I still love you and your great drinks. See you later.” He then returns back to his stall, which was the only cue that she needed to keep walking as she had originally planned.

Taking a couple more sips of her drink and depositing the can in the garbage, she walks through the stall, passing crew members left and right. They each wave and go to say something, but she motions for them to be quiet as she makes her way to the front of the car. She stands back for a second, letting Chase and Alan talk about whatever was on their minds ahead of qualifying later on that day. As they finish up their discussion, she makes her move.

She walks up behind Chase, wrapping both arms around him, and pulling him close as she plants a kiss on his cheek. A smile immediately forms on his face as he spins around to face her, placing one in return on her lips.

“Gosh I missed you,” he says as he keeps her held close. “I love you, and thank you for coming.”

“Any reason to torment Blaney is a good reason for me,” she replies as he laughs.

“I feel bad for him already.” She laughs as she remembers the bag she had previously placed in the hotel room before heading over.

“Just wait till we get back to the hotel later on tonight.” He rolls his eyes, knowing that she was going to be up to no good.

“Suddenly, I feel better about this weekend,” Jared Seate comments from his vantage point, getting a curious glance from the pair. “Chase is always in a better chipper mood now that his girl is here. I say we’re going to have a great weekend and put yesterday behind us.”

“Awww was Chasey not smiling yesterday?” Sarina questions as she slips his sunglasses up, looking into his eyes.

“Would you be smiling if you wrecked your racecar?” He asks and she shakes her head no.

“Well, as the boys have said, you’re going to put yesterday behind you starting today. You’re going to do great. You know how to turn left and right. You proved that in Canada. You also proved that you can’t see a slower truck in front of you, too, or judge the closing gap well enough and hit it.” He then rolls his eyes, still in disbelief that some people bugged him about how he got his first win.

“I’ve said it time and time again – he cut me off, plain and simple. Do I need to show you my mom’s evidence?” Sarina just smiles in response, having seen the pictures and agreeing with what happened.

“Awww is mommy protecting her baby?” He then rolls his eyes.

“You can pick on me all you want. I’m just glad that you decided to come.” She glances around the garage, before returning her eyes back to him.

“You cut into my beach and sun-tanning, but I guess I made the right decision.” He then smiles as he rubs her shoulders.

“Think about it this way – now you get racecars and a California suntan. Just promise me you put sunscreen on.” She then rolls her eyes, remembering the summer they were racing the same tracks in late models and she got a real bad burn one week and how he kept walking over, flicking it.

“Oh, so now you care about my skin? If you must know, I did put some on this morning and brought the bottle to put more on this afternoon, if I need it.” He smiles as it was always good to see her taking care of herself.

“Aren’t they just adorable?” Chad Avrit questions as he looks over Jared’s shoulder. “I’m wondering if we should start planning the wedding now….” Jared laughs as Chase just rolls his eyes.

“Bachelor party at Jr.’s Whiskey River?” Jared asks and Chad shakes his head yes. “Of course, we don’t want to scare off our sweet innocent boy, so no strippers allowed. Unless Sarina has turned him….” Chase just rolls his eyes once again, all the meanwhile keeping his eyes focused on Sarina. The boys could say what they wanted as he didn’t care – he got his girl to join him this weekend.

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

The rest of the day played out decently. Chase had a decent run in qualifying for a solid starting spot, and the pair enjoyed the K&N Pro Series West show from the top of the hill, thrilled by the close finish between Kevin Harvick and Will Rodgers.

Following their fun day, Chase texted Ryan to tell him that he was taking Sarina out to dinner before returning back to the hotel that night, and to sadly inform him that he wasn’t invited. Ryan accepted, though, having already agreed to go out with his team.

Once the pair were done dinner, they retreated back to the hotel room, making it back before Ryan.

“Want to see how high we can make him jump?” Sarina questions as Chase rolls his eyes. He knew he was in for a troublesome night.

“What do you have in mind?” He asks, knowing that he couldn’t miss out on pranking Ryan.

“A bag of tricks…” She then pulls out a smaller bag from her duffle bag, sifting through it. She then pulls out two items, showing both of them to Chase. “Which would work better?”

“Is that what I think it is?” She laughs and shakes her head yes.

“And I know how to make it look the part, perfectly. Let’s just say that pranks on the road while racing were always fun.” He then rolls his eyes as he flops back in their bed.

“Go for it….” She then lets out a cheer of ‘yay,’ setting everything in motion. “Really? We have to go with all this?” She then jumps in the bed beside him, looking into his eyes.

“Just go with it, okay? Oh, and make sure the blanket is all the way up so he doesn’t know.” Chase rolls his eyes as he pulls off his shirt, flicking it off across the room. “And you could also do that….”

The pair laid there quietly, watching a couple different TV shows and using the time to get in some quality time. They then heard the lock on the door engage to unlock, causing the pair to look at each other. Chase reached over, switching the light off as he pulls her close in his arms. He began to giggle a little, with Sarina putting a hand over his mouth.

“Shut up!” She says quietly as they hear the door open.

“Chase? Sarina?” Ryan questions, noticing the darkness of the room with the TV turned off. “Well, guess someone was tired….” He then flicks the light on as he kicks his shoes off. His eyebrows then fuse together confused as he notices a trail of clothes. “Okay, we joked about this, but that was supposed to be all jokes. I mean, come on. Really, Chase?”

Sarina keeps her hand over Chase’s mouth to muffle his want to chuckle as Ryan walks across the room, shaking his head at the scattered clothes across the floor.

“Lace bra – I wouldn’t have pictured that,” he comments as Sarina resists the urge to wonder on the assumption.

Out of the corners of their eyes hidden by the blanket, they watch as Ryan sits on the edge of his bed, slipping off both his pants and t-shirt so he was down to just his boxers.

“Stop looking!” Chase whispers quietly into Sarina’s ears as he makes a motion to cover her eyes, but making it appear as if he was just moving in his sleep.

“Jealous?” She whispers back in response, keeping herself cuddled close to him.

They hear Ryan stand up and walk around the bed, grabbing the remote off the table as he turns to the bed. He pulls back the comforter, set to climb into the bed.

“What the hell?!? Ewwwwwww!” He yells out as he jumps, causing both Sarina and Chase to break out laughing. “Ewwww. Okay, that’s like wet. It’s milky white. That’s used…recently….in my bed. Ewwww.” The pair then break out laughing even more as Ryan spins around. “Really? I mean, okay fine you’re human so you did it before I got back. But really? In my bed? Why not in your own?”

“Who’s to say we didn’t? Let’s just say someone was horny tonight,” Sarina says, as she pulls one out from under the covers, set in the same form as the previous, flicking it at Ryan – which it hits him in the chest.

“Ewww ewww ewww! Oh my gosh! Ewww! There’s not enough showers that I could take to get rid of that. Ewww!” The pair laugh even harder as Ryan keeps his eyes locked on them. “And you think this is funny?” Sarina and Chase shake their heads yes as they sit up in the bed.

“I was wondering if you’d take me up on my earlier offer next…” Ryan’s jaw drops as Chase looks at her confused. “Oh Chase, I forgot to tell you what I was planning….”

“I don’t think I want to know,” Chase comments as he pulls out his phone. He watches the video, cracking up laughing. “All I know is that Bubba is going to kill himself laughing when he sees this.”

“You recorded my reaction?” Ryan asks and Chase shakes his head yes. “Why?”

“Because you’ve just been punk’d!” The pair let out together as Chase sends the video to Darrell.

“I’m confused….” Chase kicks off the blanket, revealing that he’s still in his boxers, with Sarina wearing her PJ shorts and one of his t-shirts.

“We got back about an hour ago,” Chase starts. “We’ve actually just been chilling here, watching TV, enjoying America’s Funniest Home Videos actually. Sarina wanted to see how high you could jump so she planted the evidence – the clothes, the used condom. By the way, that wasn’t used at all. That’s just a nice look-a-like prank liquid sprayed on it.” Ryan then looks around the room, before looking back at them.

“So this was all just a prank?” He asks and Chase shakes his head yes. “You’re mean!”

“I couldn’t let you off with nothing after last night’s comments,” Sarina comments as Ryan just shakes his head.

“Payback is a bitch, sweetheart. Remember that.” She shakes her head knowing that, as she pulls Chase back close to her.

“Yeah, but just remember that I have my knight in shining armor to protect me, always.” He then rolls his eyes as he goes back over to his bed, flopping in it. “You have to admit – I got you good.”

“Well played, actually. I give you credit…” She then lets out a yawn as she cuddles back up against Chase, laying her head on his chest.

“Tired?” Chase questions and Sarina shakes her head yes. “Close your eyes. I’ve got you, and I promise Ryan will stay over on his side of the room. I love you.” He then kisses her forehead, rubbing her back as she closes her eyes, finally glad to be able and snag some sleep after the past 48 hours.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 98: The Highs and Lows

Through the whole week, Sarina was quieter than normal – something that bugged Chase.

He knew that she wasn’t one to talk about her feelings much and guarded at times, so it wasn’t a surprise. He just wished on some occasions that she’d open up to him.

“Everything okay?” He questions as they’re packing for the weekend. She just shakes her head yes, double checking her bag. “If something is on your mind, you can talk to me.”

“I know; I trust you – completely,” she tells him as she looks across the room at him. “It’s just a couple different thoughts on my mind. Do you ever get the thought that you left something in the rearview and it wouldn’t bother you again, but it does?” Chase looks at her puzzled, thinking it over. Based on life experiences, it was hard to relate as he could see where she was going.

“I thought I could be completely over what happened with your brother, but that plagues my paranoia at times. Does that count?” She thinks it over, though rolling her eyes at the same time. Chase’s comment proved her point thoroughly and that her brother was right.

“Chris and I got into a discussion about me ignoring the idea of the family reunion and pissing off Bethany a couple weeks ago. He told me that I could change my name and runaway, but it would never leave me.” She then sits down on the bed as Chase makes his way around to her side. “I get that you can’t choose your parents and what happens around you. I get that decisions were made by my brother and my father that I cannot control. But regardless, they affected me and changed me. I just wish some days that I could look forward without that single thought in the rearview.” Chase sits beside her, grabbing her hand with his.

“We all wish that there are things we could just make disappear or change. I wish some days that I could’ve met my cousin Casey. I never got the chance to get to know him, but the stories that I hear from my mom, dad and Ernie are just crazy. There’s also some decisions that I’ve made through the years that I wish I could change – like completely going off on you that nigh-”

“I deserved that, Chase. I wasn’t truthful and in the end, you’re the one that got hurt.” Chase knew that she was right, however he could still never blame her for what happened.

“You were afraid, scared; you had lots of emotions and reasons for what you did. Remember, I don’t fault you for that. Besides all that, listen, I know your past affects you – it’s why you wouldn’t let me in at first.” She chuckles, remembering how much she forced him to push before a first date.

“You were a good help getting ready for Berlin, though.” He chuckles, remembering the couple of long nights in her garage helping her with the late model.

“As I recall, you had a decent finish that weekend, too.” She shakes her head yes as a smile forms on her face. “We’ve both heard the saying – what doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger. I know you want to pretend some days as if nothing happened and you’re all powerful and invincible. However, remember that you’re human and you have feelings. It’s okay to have regrets, anger, sadness, and whatever else you’re feeling. Just know that you can always talk to me about it. And by the way, your past doesn’t affect how I see you. I still see you as the wonderful girl that I fell for, despite the desire to beat you so badly. But I also have more respect for you, who you are, and the strength that you have.” She smiles as she wraps her arms around, kissing her lips.

“You just know what to say at the right time. Thank you.” He gives her a kiss in response before standing up, and going back over to packing.

“Just think – this time next week, we will be headed to Florida together.” She smiles, knowing that was a good idea. “I still say you should fly out to California on Saturday with Amy.” Sarina knew the offer was very tempting, and considering that her mood was brightened, maybe it was a good idea.

“I will think about it, okay?” He crosses his fingers as he picks up his bag and leaves the room.

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

“So, did you talk to her?” Bethany asks as she meets up with Chris at Iowa Speedway. She was surprised that she was still on the list for available VIP passes for Sarina after their fight. She could only muster that she had forgotten to remove her name.

“She isn’t budging on going to the family reunion, or any thought of that matter,” Chris answers as Bethany rolls her eyes. “It’s like she doesn’t give a shit about anybody in the family.”

“She has to care about you to stand up for you in front of Chase.” Chris knew that was true as he looked out to the track, watching her practice.

“Sure, I supposed. But what about you? What about Uncle James? What about Uncle Nick? I mean, I get her reasons against Leon, but come on. There may have been some ruffled feathers at times, but no family is perfect.”  He then spins around. “I’ve always wished we could go back to when we were little kids and having everything just right.”

“Sometimes you don’t get what you wish for, Chris.” Chris then turned around as a smile formed on his face.

“No, but there’s other things that you can do so it works out as you want. It’s just working up to the master plan.” Bethany then looks over at him confused as he simply continues to smile.

“Chris Dryer, do I want to know what you got in mind?” Chris shakes his head no.

“Let’s just say that the world as she knows it is going to have some fun, and she will learn that you don’t turn your back on family.” He then heads for the stairs, as Bethany places her hand on his shoulder.

“What are you planning? Because whatever it is, I want in…” He then smiles as he turns back to face her.

“The past couple weeks and those accidents that have been happening to those around them is nothing out of surprise. It’s just working up to the top hits…..”

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

Sarina climbs out of the truck, pumping her fist in the air, before walking over and wrapping both arms around Marcus.

“Way to go!” Marcus tells her as they take a look at the top of the scoreboard to double check. Sure enough, she had scored herself the pole for that night’s race.

“Thank you for an awesome truck,” she replies. “I had a good feeling coming here, and damn, it just feels even better. I can’t believe it.”

“Just make sure to remember it’s a long night, and not to over jump the gun.” She shakes her head, knowing that.

She then makes her way through the crew members, giving them high-fives, before giving her post-qualifying interview. Once she was done the interview, she went through the usual routine of post-qualifying media center, followed by taking photos as the pole sitter. She easily accepted the accolades, glad that everything had come together perfectly after practicing well and knowing she had a good Toyota Tundra under her.

With some time to spare once she was done, she took her phone out of her pocket. She knew at about the same time as she was qualifying, Chase would be on track in Sonoma for their second practice session. Oh the fun of handling a time difference between their events. She smiled as she read his quick text message of congratulations, obviously sent between practice ones. She replied back, flipping through a couple others.

She then goes into the mobile internet, set to load the leaderboard on NASCAR.com. As she watches the main page load, her jaw drops in seeing an image of the No. 24 Chevrolet with the entire front end ripped off. She takes a deep breath, reminding herself to stay calm. If Chase was hurt in anyway, Alan or one of the guys would have texted her already.

She loads the video, watching as he gets loose through turn 10, spinning around and making contact with the outside concrete barrier. She notices the edge of the bumper catch the wall, ripping away from the car. She then sits down on the bench she had come across in her walk, telling herself repeatedly that the car looked worse than the hit actually was based on the video.

“Hey sis, are you okay?” She hears in the midst of her thoughts, glancing up to see her brother standing there.

“Yeah,” she answers as she flips screens, sending a quick text message to Alan, Chase, and a couple crew members at once. She kept telling herself not to worry, but she couldn’t help but send the message.

“What’s wrong?” Chris then sits down beside her as he watches her furiously send the message.

“Chase wrecked in final practice at Sonoma.” She sits back, hoping that she heard a ping back in response soon.

“Is he okay?” She holds her phone up, rolling her eyes, before clutching it back close to her. “I’m sure he’s fine. You know, you worry too much.”

“Well I’m sorry I damn well care about how he is doing. That’s part of loving someone, in case you didn’t realize that.” She then hears the phone ping, chuckling as she looks at the video that Jared sent her of Chase giving her a quick wave & dance. She sends back a thank you message, letting out a sigh of relief.

“What’d I tell you?” She just rolls her eyes as she sits back.

“It’s better to know and be safe, rather than regret it later. It’s a little comfort in having received or seen something. At least the boys get that.” She then stands up, taking a quick glance back at Chris. “Oh, and you can tell Bethany that as of Kentucky, she’s off the VIP list. Yeah, I saw you talking with her and my answer hasn’t changed. Now, I have a driver’s meeting to go to.” She then heads off as Chris just smiles.

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

Chase smiles as he keeps his eyes on the clock, watching the minutes tick by. He had promised himself not to dial her number for 20 minutes after the race. He knew that she’d be doing interviews, debriefing with the guys, and getting changed out of her driver’s suit. He figured if he gave her enough time to go through all that, she’d be ready to chit chat for awhile before flying out with the team.

18 minutes….19 minutes….19 minutes and 15 seconds….19 minutes and 30 seconds….19 minutes and 45 sec…

“Screw it!” He lets out as he hits dial on her number, lying back in the hotel room. Being out in California, he had forgone the motorhome route and instead split a hotel with Ryan Blaney.

“Hey!” She immediately answers the phone call, full of happiness.

“Nice job tonight, rookie. I’d say that laps led with a nice sixth-place finish is a great step in the right direction. You are finding your groove, and Marcus is giving you something to work with.” She smiles as she walks through the hauler, slipping the door closed to the lounge as she enters.

“Why, thank you sir. I appreciate the compliments from a Cup Series driver who has a lot of talent.” He then chuckles.

“I mean it. You did great out there. I think I could give you a couple restart tips, but not too shabby.” She then flops back, letting out a sigh. She knew the last restart could’ve gone a little better as there was a chance that she could’ve had a top-three finish if the others didn’t get the run on her.

“I’d appreciate those tips, Mr. Elliott. Actually, I have to say that tonight was just purely amazing. Can we race here every week? I mean, Iowa is beyond anything that I’ve done before.  I can’t explain how much fun I had tonight going three, four-wide at times and trying every groove. It has to be the funnest race of the year – besides racing you at Atlanta.” He smiles, knowing both truck races that he had gotten to run this year had been fun. He was wondering if possibly GMS would let him run another two later on this year.

“I always liked going to Iowa, too. Kentucky is just as much fun as that, but on a bigger scale. You’re set to find out why guys like Matt Crafton never want to leave the truck series.” She knew that she couldn’t wait for that, as a fun summer of racing would be a great way to put the past couple of weeks behind her. “So, are you coming out to California?”

“Maybe, maybe not. I still haven’t quite decided yet.” He lets out an aggravated sigh. He thought it’d be an instant yes, hence the text messages to Amy already.

“Oh come on. You know you want to see me.” She then chuckles as there was no way to lie about that.

“Hm, but I could hang around North Carolina this weekend. I could spend some time on the lake, work on my tan a little. I could even go to Hickory for a nice short track night out. You’re cutting into my fun time.” He couldn’t argue with her suggestions for a fun weekend, but that didn’t mean he was giving up yet.

“I still say coming and hanging out with me would be more fun. Besides, I miss our cuddles. I could use some tonight.” She then lets out a sigh, knowing that he was using the sympathy card on her for the qualifying wreck.

“Chase, good try but you’re fine and you’re going to do well tomorrow in qualifying, and race well on Sunday. I believe in you.”

“You should still come….” She then smiles as she finishes getting changed.

“I guess I should. Someone needs to keep your butt in line.” He smiles, letting out a fist pump.

“Oh hell no – I never agreed to sharing a hotel room with the both of you,” Ryan lets out from his side of the room as Chase looks over. “Oh no. I’m not listening to kissy sounds and cuddles each night. No way. That’s not what I agreed to.”

“Think of it this as a bonus – you can torment Blaney,” Chase teases as Ryan flips the finger at him.

“I’m sure there’s plenty of sounds that I can make to give him nightmares,” Sarina comments, followed by making some sexual noises over the phone. Chase breaks out laughing as he sees the look on Ryan’s face.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Ryan says as he throws a pillow across the room at Chase, making him laugh even harder.

“Suddenly, this weekend got a whole lot more entertaining. See you soon, boys!” Chase then hangs up as he looks over at Ryan with a smile, with Ryan just rolling his eyes.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 97: Michigan

Sunday, June 18

Chase wakes up the next morning, getting himself some breakfast.

Remembering how well practice went and how last year was, confidence seemed to come easy that morning. They just had to put together a solid 400 miles and perhaps today would be the day.

He was focused on eating his breakfast when he heard a knock at the door.

He gets up and walks over, half-expecting his parents. That would’ve been fine with him, considering it was father’s day and there was nothing wrong with seeing them anytime.

Though when he opens the door, he sees Alan standing there, catching him off-guard. They hadn’t agreed to any pre-race meeting.

“Good morning,” he says as he lets the crew chief in with ease.

“Morning,” Alan replies simply as he walks inside. He then sits on the couch as Chase walks by him to where his plate sat on the table. “Whatcha eating?”

“Bacon, eggs, toast and some orange juice. I would’ve made you some if you would’ve told me you were coming.” Alan chuckles, having grown used to some of their pre-race breakfast meetings. It was always a good weekend when they avoided those as that meant no last minute discussions.

“Sorry for the surprise visit. I actually came by because something came to my attention this morning, courtesy of Jared.” Chase then looks over, curious. It was never good when the crew members brought something to their chief’s attention.

“So why are we starting at the back this week then?” Alan looks on surprised by the response.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the racecar, actually.” Chase was now even more confused. First the surprise meeting, followed by a finding by a crew member. “Do you remember when Bubba passed out last week during his post-race interview?”

“He was dehydrated, pissed at himself. I texted him later on to see how he was.” Alan shakes his head, surprised at how underwraps it had been kept.

“Welcome to your latest incident under the poison investigation. Jared said they pulled him for more questioning on whether he recognized anybody that was seen around the RPM pit or Bubba post-race with drinks that had been around him a couple weeks ago.” Chase shakes his head in disbelief.

“No way….” Alan shakes his head yes. “You’d think Bubba would’ve said something, considering he knows one of my crew members had been affected already.”

“It seems as though NASCAR and Richard Petty Motorsports wanted to keep it under wraps. You want to see the headlines when it gets out that a driver was poisoned? Hello paranoia 101, especially considering all the headlines about him going into the weekend.” Chase knew that Alan was probably right, as he had seen the comments already by people on social media. He wished people could just leave the racism behind them, and get with the 21st century.

“Well, they are doing a good job at it…” Alan watches Chase carefully as he notices the young man thinking. “What?”

“Speak, please….” Chase lets out a sigh.

“Christopher Bell mentioned to Kyle that Sarina’s brother has been at the track every time something has happened. They flew in for Sunday’s race once she was done racing at Texas. Again, it’s another time that it checks out. Plus, we still can’t place him for that one time remember.” Alan crosses his arms.

“So you’re starting to believe the theory more and more based on what he told you that day, which you haven’t told me yet, and coincidence? Just by chance, have you said anything to Sarina?” Chase shakes his head no immediately.

“What evidence do I have to go by? She’ll think that it’s coming completely from left field, that I’m paranoid, and shoot it back in my face. Heck, I might as well kiss the progress that I’ve made away.” Alan knew there was a good chance of that, but he couldn’t let his own guard down.

“And what if something happens to you, or this gets outta control? I mean, we’ve been alright so far with everybody being fine. But what if the worse happens?” Chase knew there was a chance of that, but he wasn’t changing his approach.

“Right now, I believe that it is my own paranoia just because of what happened and the fact that I can never trust him, ever. However, if there’s any sign of evidence, I will be the first one to be knocking at her door.” Alan shakes his head in agreement. It seemed like a good plan. “Now, can we focus on today?”

“Of course. We have some goals to accomplish, right?” Chase smiles and shakes his head yes.

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

Sarina takes a deep breath as she looks into the graveyard. She clutches the rose to her chest, taking another deep breath, before walking forward. She slowly walks down the walkaway, hearing the footsteps in toe. It had been last minute, but she was glad that she had company.

“Thank you for coming,” she whispers quietly as she looks back over her shoulder at Marcus.

“It’s not a problem,” he replies as he pats her shoulder lightly, before giving her some space. “Your brother didn’t want to come?” She shakes her head no.

“In his mind, my father caused his own problems and only made my brother’s life worse.” She shakes her head as she stops, glancing down at her feet. “He could be further from the truth, actually. He was trying to help him, even if he went about it the wrong way.”

“Take your time. I’ll stand here and just watch over, or come closer if you want. I can give you a hug, hear you out. Whatever you need, Sarina.” She shakes her head, accepting, as she takes another careful deep breath. She then makes her way onto the grass, walking up to the stone as she places the rose on top.

“Happy Father’s Day, daddy. Just like every other year, I’m here to say the same thing – I miss you, and wish you were here with me every day. You always my inspiration, and the reason why I think I took the chaotic life that I did. I wish you were here to see where I am now, and watch me drive for someone as amazing as Kyle. Heck, I wish you could meet Chase. I know you were always a Darrell Waltrip fan and wanted him to wreck Bill one night, but heck – his kid turned out amazing.” Marcus couldn’t help but chuckle at that comment.

“So your dad wasn’t the biggest Elliott fan?” She shakes her head.

“He was one of those ones that desired the crazier personalities, like Waltrip. Maybe that’s why I’m a little hard-headed and stubborn sometimes, just like him.” Sarina stops, taking a deep breath. “I miss you. I hope you’re proud of me. I wish you were here. Thank you for everything….” She then turns around, wiping a stray from her eyes. She then keeps walking, feeling her legs to start to give out. Marcus instantly reaches out, grabbing her and pulling her close.

“Ssssh, it’s okay. I’ve got you….” He keeps her held close as he rubs her back. “I’ve got you….”

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

Chase unlocks the door, walking in the house and shutting it behind him. He slips his shoes off as he sets his phone on the table.

It had been a solid day, capped off with another runner-up finish. While he wanted to be disappointed, he couldn’t be as they finished better than they ran all day, and that’s all you could ask for. He knew if they kept working at it, his day would come.

He looks into the living room, smiling as he sees her curled up on the couch. Marcus had texted him earlier about their quick trip to New York. He makes his way into the living room, grabbing the blanket off of the other chair, and slipping it over her.

“Chase?” She says a little groggy, looking up at him. “Hey babes…”

“Hey,” he replies as she sits up. “How are you?” She then lets out a sigh as she looks around the room.

“How long have I been sleeping for?” He shrugs his shoulders, showing her what time it was. “Wow, five hours. I was going to watch the recording of the race and then I just zonked out.” He sits down beside her, wrapping an arm around her.

“It’s okay. I understand. Emotionally drained, it happens. Don’t fret. You didn’t miss much. I just finished second to Kyle Larson.” She then grabs his hand, rubbing it as she leans against him.

“Your day will come….” He looks into her eyes.

“I don’t care about that right now. All I care about is you. I totally forgot about how you would be feeling today, and I hate that. I’m sorry. I should’ve texted or called you, or something….” She shakes her head.

“I didn’t want to mess up your focus today, and it’s fine. You’re here now, and that’s what matters. I love you.” She leans in and kisses his lips.

“I love you, too. Wanna go upstairs?” She shakes her head yes as she gets up and follows him up the stairs.

“Can we just cuddle and watch a movie?” He spins around and smiles.

“That was my plan. I have someone you should meet – Chase Race-a lot.” She then looks on surprised.

“Oh really? Is he cute?” He shrugs his shoulders. “Wait, how do you have Cars 3 already?” Chase smiles as he pulls the DVD out of his bag, and places it on the bed.

“There’s perks to be one of the stars of the movie. Now, are you ready to see my staring role?” She then rolls her eyes as she flops back in the bed.

“Sure, but I heard that Inside Laney is cooler.” Chase rolls his eyes as he pops the movie in, before slipping his shirt off and climbing in the bed with her. He pulls her close, keeping her cuddled in his arms, as they take in the move together.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 96: “Thank you, Kyle.”

Sarina leans back against the truck following the first practice, pleased with how it felt. There was nothing wrong with having posted the quickest time on the charts.

She hears her phone going off, expecting it to be Chase. She then smiles when she sees ‘Rowdy’ instead, hitting answer.

“That’s my girl!!” He lets out on the phone as she laughs immediately. “I just had to call you and say that it is awesome seeing your name on top of the pylon. That is great. Nice job.”

“If you’re this excited over practice, I can’t imagine what you’ll be like if we can pull it off later on tonight,” she replies with a chuckle. “But thank you boss, much appreciated.”

“It is not a problem. I know how rough some of these weeks have been on you, so it is great to see you and Marcus finding your groove.” She lets out a sigh, knowing those words hit deeper than probably Kyle would’ve thought so.

“Do you actually have some time right now, Kyle? I want to talk to you about something….” She then walks off pit road, heading through the garage area in search of a quiet spot. She just hoped he said yes as she took the walk.

“Yeah, of course. What’s up?” She knew he was expecting something competition related, but this was far from it.

“I’ve talked with Chase about this, but I want an outside opinion – and I feel we’re close enough to where I can say this. You won’t say anything, will you?” Kyle felt intrigued about her words as he walked up into the lounge, closing the door behind him.

“Absolutely not.” He knew if it was serious enough, though, that he would have to say something to Chase.

“So you know my past as I made sure to open that box when my brother’s identity and involvement came out. That was all about full discretion because I didn’t want you to walk into something that you weren’t comfortable with. With that said, did it change your opinion on me at all?” Kyle remembered the meeting in his office with him, Samantha and Marcus as she broke out her life story for him. He remembered the mix of feelings experienced through the discussion, as well as his words with Samantha afterwards.

“You didn’t choose for your brother to get involved in drugs and mix up things. You didn’t choose for your father to take his police job, and try to protect your brother in the process and get shot. You didn’t choose for those people to find you and take your mom away from you, especially at such a young age. Everything that’s happened – that’s been a matter of circumstance around you, not your choic-”

“Even separating myself from my brother and family at that point?” He took a deep breath, seeing where the regret was probably coming from.

“Even that. He was making the wrong decisions at that time, and nobody would’ve blamed you from wanting to get away from that and get a fresh start after what you’d been through. Sarina, every choice that you’ve made has been a good choice. That said when we were done the meeting, I respected you even more because of everything that you’ve been through and how you’ve been able to fight back from it. The will to fight and be strong no matter what is one of those many reasons why I love having you drive for me.” She felt a little more confidence, and felt the feelings of yesterday fading slightly.

“Thanks Kyle. I appreciate that…” He couldn’t help but wonder now, though.

“Why did you ask about this, anyway?” She lets out a sigh. She didn’t want to bring it up, knowing everybody had differing opinions on Chris already.

“Let’s just say that it was bugging me for some odd reason, and I wanted a vote of confidence. I admit that I can be hard-headed, and I will do whatever the hell it takes, but I still have my worries here and there.” Kyle knew that, remembering her questions surrounding Chase, and whether that step was right.

“Well whenever you need a pick me up, I’m here. I told you that I was here for advice whenever you needed it, and I mean that. I have your back, no matter what.”

“Thanks. Listen, I better let you go as Marcus is going to be looking for me.”

“Alright. I’ll talk to you later. Keep up the good work.” Kyle then hangs up, sitting back with a smile.

He knew that Marcus and Samantha both were skeptical about keeping her on board through everything, but the choice was the right decision. She was proving it behind the wheel, and there was something about her desire that seemed familiar.

Meanwhile in Michigan being father’s day weekend, Chase had made the decision to take his parents out to dinner the night before the race since he knew Sunday would result in being too busy. However, he made them both promise that they’d be back to the motorcoach before the truck race started as he wanted to watch how his girl made out.

“She’s doing better each week,” Bill comments as they drive back to the track.

“Well, she’s never driven mile and a half tracks so it’s a whole new ball game for her,” Chase says. “But she says that she’s trusting Marcus more, and they’re finding the chemistry that you need. Combine that with getting used to the trucks, I think she may get her first win in the next couple of weeks.” Bill shakes his head in agreement.

“Iowa or Kentucky are two good places, if not tonight. I mean, Iowa drives like a short track and then Kentucky is like some of the places that she’s been already. I don’t think you’re off in that prediction.”

“Think she can beat Christopher, though?” Cindy questions, referring to Christopher Bell.

“She was quicker than him a couple weeks ago,” Chase reminds his mom.

“I was talking to Kim (Burton) the other day. She was saying how much Harrison likes it there, and how helpful everybody is with advice. She said that she was surprised, really. She even mentioned how well Harrison, Todd, Christopher and Sarina were getting along. She then asked me what I thought of Sarina and you together, and I told her that I was still skeptic-”

“Mama…..”

“But that you guys were alright together. She said based on Harrison’s words that you picked a gem in her as Sarina was a sweetheart with giving him some tips and a tour.” Chase smiles, knowing that he’d have to thank Harrison later for the vote of confidence on the girl. It was nice to see his mom speak positively about Sarina for a change.

“Well, for what it’s worth, Sarina loves having Kyle as a boss, and says that they get along great. I’ve also talked to Kyle a couple times, and he’s happy with her and been great about it.”

Once they get back to the track, they separate with a quick wish goodbye for the night, with Chase heading inside the motorcoach and flipping the race on. He then relaxes on the couch, set for a fun night.

He hated to hear the news that she had to start at the tail of the field after having water pump issues in time trials. However, it was great watching her come through the field, despite battling a tight truck. Throughout the night, Marcus was able to make it better and better, with her crossing the finish line in ninth. Considering how the night started, he had no complaints for her on the night.

He took out his phone, sending her a quick text message on a nice job, a little pick me up, followed by a quick ‘love you, talk to you later.’

He then grabs himself a shower, before getting comfy in bed, knowing that he had a busy day ahead of him on Sunday. It had been a great dinner out with his parents, including some complimentary words from his mom finally, and capped off with a solid truck race. Now he knew he just had to take the solid car they had and turn it into a great performance tomorrow.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 95: “It’s just ironic, considering…..”

Kyle Busch walks through the garage between the practices, stopping by Chase Elliott’s stall. He watches the young man speak with his team about the debrief from what had happened, before watching him as he walks towards where Kyle was standing.

“Hey!” Chase says, having gotten used to seeing Kyle over the past couple of months. It was one of those things he knew he would have to get used to, thanks to Sarina. It didn’t bother him, though, as Kyle was truly not that bad of a guy, all things considered.

“Hey,” Kyle replies. “How were you in practice?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, but he knew Kyle was making small talk. He didn’t come by and not have much to say.

“The car is pretty good, actually – but that’s nothing new here,” Chase comments. “How about you guys?”

“We could use a couple adjustments, but I have no complaints.” Chase crosses his arms, leaning back against the post. He was waiting for Kyle to drop what he truly had to say. “So I was talking to Christop-”

“I already know about his comments to Sarina and his concerns. I don’t honestly want to hear another thing that Bell has to say, considering he has no grounds for what he’s saying.” Kyle takes his sunglasses off, looking at Chase with surprise.

“No grounds for what he’s saying? So obviously you forgot about everything that happened in January, right?” Chase rolls his eyes. There was no way he could forget what happened. He was reminded of that every weekend when Sarina’s brother was there.

“I haven’t forgotten about what happened, and don’t expect me to ever forget what happened. I guess you forget that he tried to kill me twice, and pushed me, right? But Sarina and I have moved past it. We’re closer than we ever were, probably closer than I thought we would be at this point considering her feelings. So if we can move forward and become stronger, why can’t everyone else accept it?” Kyle shook his head, understanding.

“Hey, I have accepted it so that’s something. I know that most people have accepted it so you guys are doing good, actually. But by the way, Christopher’s comments – you shouldn’t have your guard up. He’s been busy and he hasn’t had a chance to see you or get your number from Sarina. Anyways, he wanted to apologize for being an ass actually, because he feels bad after talking to her and seeing you guys together. He said it was totally out of character for him – which I can attest you, but he said the only reason was because he cared about his teammate.” Chase relaxes, accepting the apology. He heard from Sarina that the pair got a chance to talk things over a couple weeks ago, but hadn’t put much thought beyond that. He wasn’t quite ready to relax in his concerns, yet.

“Well you can let him know that I accept his apology, by the way. I appreciate it.” Kyle shakes his head, accepting.

“The other thing I wanted to mention you – this whole poisoning deal. Other than what happened in Bristol, it’s been focused around us weirdly.” Chase looks at Kyle with a bit of concern, but was getting where this was going. “Your guy, and then two of my crew members – one from KBM at Dover, and then one from JGR last week at Pocono. It’s just ironic, considering….”

“Yeah, I hadn’t put much thought into it actually.” Kyle glances down, having his own thoughts.

“Christopher made mention of the fact that Sarina’s brother was at all four races, and he has an interesting past. I told him that he was far-fetching, the tumor deal, and to just can the thought. However, it has been on my mind ever since.” Chase glances away, knowing the feeling after conversations with Alan.

“I think it’s just coincidence, to be honest.” That’s what Chase had been telling himself to keep sane through the whole ordeal.

“Is that what you told Jared? I mean, someone mentioned that Jared said Chris was one of the last people he saw before feeling sick.” Chase remembered hearing that detail during a weekly shop meeting from Alan, which had triggered his senses again.

“I haven’t talked to Jared about it, and he’s pretty much moved forward. Listen, they’re going to find who is doing this and it’s going to be put to rest soon. For now, we just need to be careful. I even told Sarina that.” Kyle was glad to hear those words, having his own suspicions.

“Well, I don’t want to keep you so I’ll see you later. I heard the boys built your girl a good truck for tomorrow night.” Chase smiles as that was always good news to hear as Kyle walks away.

He then lets out a sigh, shaking the mix of thoughts out of his head before continuing the walk he had originally been set to follow to the trailer.

Meanwhile, Sarina was at home, finalizing what she was talking with her to Gateway for tomorrow’s busy day. She knew it’d be one of those long days that would feel like it was going on forever with practice, qualifying and the race all scheduled for the same day.

It was even worse with this being the second straight weekend away from Chase, and the fact that she wouldn’t be making the trip up to Michigan for Sunday’s cup race. She didn’t know what she’d do sitting at home watching as it was going to feel weird.

Taking a deep breath, she knew that this was part of life, and she could handle it. If she wanted to chase the dream of doing this for the rest of her life and take advantage of the great opportunity before her – sometimes she even pinched herself not believing it, there were going to be weekends that they’d spend apart.

She zips up the bag, carrying it to the front door and setting it down, as she thanks herself that there was only one more weekend apart before they would be relaxing at Daytona together, followed by racing together at Kentucky.

“Chris!” She yells out, calling her brother as he comes out of the kitchen. “Do you have everything that you need? We’re leaving tonight and Marcus said, the plane waits for nobody.” He shakes his head yes, having placed his bag by the door already.

“I just need to add two more things and it’s ready to go,” he comments, before returning to the kitchen. She then looked on intrigued, but immediately shrugged her shoulders, shaking her it off as she flips the TV on. Considering she didn’t have to leave for another hour, she might as well watch qualifying. She hears her brother make his way down the hall, putting the things in, before zipping up his bag. “Okay, it’s packed now.”

“What did you forget this time?” It was usual that he’d always forget something to the last minute, but seemed to always remember just before they were leaving.

“Toothbrush and tooth paste. I wouldn’t want my breath smelling bad.” She then chuckles a little as she sits back on the couch.

“Don’t worry – the pretty girls won’t be there this weekend. You can return to staring at them at Daytona.”  He then looks at her, surprised.

“How did you figure that out?” She looks over with a grin.

“You’re single, ready to mingle, and always were one for chasing the cute booty. Let’s just say that those girls fit that style. No wonder you keep running off because you found their hang out.” He then laughs.

“Have you heard anymore about the investigation into the poison incidents?” She shakes her head no.

“Why do you ask?”

“I just worry about you and Chase with someone like that, walking around. It’s just ridiculous, you know?” She shakes her head, accepting. “Have you spoken to Bethany lately?”

“I haven’t talked to her since the incident, and that’s how it’s going to stand. Till she understands where I’m coming from, she can jump off a cliff.” Chris looks on surprised, though a glance away and he knew that the comment wouldn’t go well.

“I guess…..” Sarina then looks over at her brother.

“What do you mean by that, Chris?” He then glances up.

“I just hate seeing everybody tore apart piece by piece in this family.  I mean, I always dreamed that we’d be close. Mom always wanted that.” Sarina lets out a sigh, knowing everything had been most difficult on her brother. For her, she had racing as a distraction through the years. For her brother, there wasn’t much – especially considering when their father was killed in part due to her brother’s behavior back then.

“Sometimes you don’t get what you want, you should know that. I hate to be a debby downer and I hate to crush the dreams of perfect family, but it’s just not happening. I’m not repeating the bullshit over. I got away from that, and I’m staying away from that.”

“Just because you change your name and run away doesn’t mean that it leaves you. Bethany was just trying to get everything back to where it was before it fell apart. We could’ve fixed things..…” Chris then gets up and leaves the room before Sarina can reply, as she lets out a sigh.

She flips off the television, running her hands through her hair. She knew that her brother was right. The memories remained there, and the reminders continued to surface throughout events that had happened since. Whether she wanted to admit or it, Chelsy Dryer was who she was truly and there was no way to leave behind the life that Chelsy had lived.

As she sits up, though, she knew that she had no regrets. She had to do what she could to survive the mess that she found herself in then. The decisions she made were all about protecting her, and she would’ve done it again in a heartbeat to break away from everything. Ms. Sarina Ott was who she was now, and that’s who she would remain with her heart focused on making the most of her life.