Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 104: “I Swear, Chase….”

Saturday, July 1

Chase walks into the room, walking over and couldn’t help but smile as a smile greeted him back in return. It was nice to see Ryan awake and smiling.

“Hey,” Chase says as he sits down in the chair beside the bed.

“Hey,” Ryan replies. “I thought you would’ve went back to the track after checking in last night. I was surprised when Erin told me you were just down the hall when I told her we needed to talk.” Chase felt his stomach flip flop at the importance of the conversation.

“Are you kidding me? I care about you. You’re like a brother to me, man. I had to make sure you were going to be okay. Feeling better?” Ryan shakes his head yes as he sits more up in the bed.

“Still feel a little nauseous and just bleh, but it’s wearing off slowly. I’m just glad that they caught it when they did.” Chase couldn’t help but shake his head in agreement.

“How’d you figure it out?” Ryan takes a deep breath, as he thinks back to the night before.

“After they called the race due to rain, I was thinking about going to watch the ocktagon fight in the infield like everybody else. But then I just felt off. So I went back to the trailer and ended up throwing up a ton. Greg (Erwin) noticed and suggested that I go get checked out, perhaps some fluids if it was the flu, knowing that Saturday was going to be real busy running both races. Well, they saw a couple other things they didn’t like and sent me over here to get checked more, and boom – there ya go.” Chase shakes his head in disbelief, but thankful that Greg had convinced Ryan to get checked out.

“Remind me to tell Greg that he’s a bloody hero for helping you out.” Ryan shakes his head in agreement as he had to thank the crew chief, too.

“Trust me – I’ve texted him twice already since then. I’m just surprised I listened.” Chase chuckles, knowing how stubborn Ryan could be at times. “Anyways, the doctor mentioned to me that the police would be by sometime today to check-in with me and get a statement as part of their continued investigation. They told me to think back to everything throughout the day and have it ready for them – especially thing that were odd.” Chase knew that to be standard process as it was through the odd moments that they tried to pull apart everything. However, his stomach flip flopped as to wondering how he connected to standing there.

“They just want to see where you may have been poisoned. I mean, we never have a normal day at the track but they want to see if it fits other trends or whatever.” Ryan already knew what he wanted to say, but not how he wanted to say it.

“I called you in here because I figured you have a right to know before I speak to them due to Chris’ past.” Chase’s stomach then performed the biggest flip flop that he had done all day at that thought. He had enough suspicion already. He didn’t need evidence now to back it up.

“What do you mean?” Ryan takes a deep breath, closing his eyes, as he recalls the night before.

“The last person that handed me something to drink was Chris.” Chase’s jaw drops in shock as he didn’t think Chris would be that obvious if he was the one. However, it made sense in how Ryan would accept, knowing Chris through his friendship with Sarina, which obviously happened through Chase.

“Are you 100% certain?” Ryan shakes his head yes.

“I got out of the car when they pulled us down pit road. My PR guy was busy doing whatever so I was getting wet in the rain. Chris walked over with a umbrella, offering to hold it over my head as I walked back to my team’s pit box. I accepted, and we talked a little – nothing really important, to be honest. I then mentioned how I was going to grab a drink, and he had a bottle of Gatorade. He offered it to me, saying that he had grabbed it but would hand it over. I thanked him, took a sip.” Chase glances away, putting the pieces together immediately in his head as he stands up out of the chair, and glances out the window.

“And you’re sure that’s the cause?” Ryan shakes his head yes, once again, as he focuses on Chase.

“I had nothing else from then to when I was throwing up. It has to be…” Chase glances down, thinking it over, as he tries to sort through the tirade of thoughts going through his mind. “I figured you deserved to know first due to your connection with them. I hope I wasn’t wron-”

“No, it’s fine. It doesn’t change a single thing between us as you just simply told me what happened.” Chase continues thinking through everything, remembering every single concerned conversation with Alan, as Ryan keeps his eyes on his best friend.

“Then talk to me, please….” Chase turns around, leaning back against the ledge, as he just shakes his head.

“I thought everything would be fine once he got the surgery as he just seemed like a different person afterwards. I thought we had put all this behind us, and had begun to work towards trusting him. Sarina and I worked everything out from then. I really thought all the troubles were in the rearview. But now to hear this? To hear that my girlfriend’s brother poisoned my best friend? Ryan, I don’t know what to say….” Ryan could sympathize with the emotions as he watched Chase closely.

“I don’t blame you one bit. You had no idea what he was like, so please do not let this ride on your conscious. It is not your fault. And I’m sor-”

“Like I said, you have no reason to be sorry. You simply just told me what happened.” Chase crosses his arms as he thinks over what to do next. “Once you tell them, they’re going to put an arrest warrant for him as they already had him on their list. Jared mentioned him being someone to consider.”

“Your crew member, right?” Chase shakes his head yes as he runs the list of those poisoned through his mind.

“My crew member, a Joe Gibbs Racing crew member, Sarina’s crew member, Bubba – they’re all connected to me and Sarina in one way or another. It just adds to the list of reasons.” He then lets out a sigh, silently wishing he would’ve said something sooner.

“Now please don’t go snap on Sarina. She may not have any idea as to what her brother is doing, and she’ll believe him out of love. It’s not her fault for not listening and understanding. I don’t want you guys to throw away what you gained because of him.” Chase already knew that he was going to have the conversation with Sarina anyway, and he also knew it wouldn’t go well. However, that was besides the point as lives were at stake here.

“I’ll keep what you’re saying in mind. Thanks for telling me, and I wish you the best in getting better.”

“Thank you, and I’m here to talk if you need someone, got it?” Chase shakes his head yes. He then gives Ryan a quick hug.

“I’ll send the rest of the gang in, okay?” Ryan shakes his head yes as he watches Chase leave, letting out a sigh. He knew there wasn’t going to be a pretty set of hours ahead.

Chase walks down the hall, giving motion to the group that they could go see Ryan as he keeps his eyes focused on Sarina. He knew they couldn’t have the conversation there as that’d be too many eyes, but he knew it was necessary.

“Let’s go,” he states as he grabs his sweater off the chair and heads towards the elevator.

“Just like that?” Sarina questions as she watches him, wondering what he and Ryan talked about.

“Yeah. I want to go back to the track, grab myself a bite to eat, and then I have a sponsor appearance to get to.” She simply accepts as she grabs her own sweater, joining him in the elevator.

“Did your conversation go okay with Ryan?” He simply shakes his head yes. “What’d he want, anyway?” He knew they couldn’t mention it there, either, as they got off the elevator.

“Our usual fun stuff, that’s all. He needed a fun crazy break from his sisters.” Sarina shakes her head accepting as they head out of the hospital together.

“Well, at least he’s going to be okay. That’s all that matters, right?” Chase shakes his head yes as he climbs into the seat of the rental car, taking a deep breath. He knew there was a lot of other stuff that mattered.

He debated unleashing what he had to say right then, but held his tongue back as he turned the key in the ignition. He knew getting frustrated while driving back to the track with her wouldn’t be a good idea, incase it really blew up. There was only one option, and that was to have the discussion once they got back to the track.

Upon arriving the track, he quickly climbs out of the rental car, unlocking the motorcoach and heading inside. He lets out a sigh as he notices the clothes left on the floor by her brother, rolling his eyes. He moves them to the side, making a note that would be next topic of discussion – if ever necessary – before making his way to the fridge.

He reached in, grabbing himself a bottle of water – double checking the seal, though decided against it as he didn’t know if he could trust the liquid in his own motorcoach right now. He closes the fridge door, turning back to face Sarina as she sits on the couch, looking at him.

“What are you thinking?” She questions as Chase leans against the counter. There were many ways he could approach this discussion.

“The words that I want to say to you right now,” he answers as she looks at him puzzled.

“Why?” He thinks it over the conversation with Ryan as he glances away, before looking back at her. There was only one way to do this.

“Your brother is set to be arrested in a couple hours for the accused poisoning of Ryan Blaney, along with at least Jared Erspamer, among the others that have been in the past four weeks. That’s why Ryan called me in the room.” She then looks at Chase, even more confused.

“What do you mean? How the hell is that happening?” Chase crosses his arms, remembering Ryan’s words.

“After Ryan climbed from the car last night, your brother offered him a walk to the pit box with an umbrella. Ryan accepted, thinking he was trustworthy based on our relationship. Your brother then gave him a Gatorade, and Ryan drank it. Between then and when he was found to be poisoned, he did not consume anything else. Ryan believes it was your brother that poisoned him, without a shadow of doubt.” Sarina shakes her head, not believing it as there was no way that could be true. Why would Chris poison Ryan?

“Just because that was last thing consumed doesn’t mean it was the cause. Sometimes you don’t remember what happened du-”

“Ryan went back to the hauler after the race was cancelled – he remembers every bit of last night. He said from pit box after drinking it, to hauler once cancelled. He then puked in the hauler shortly after getting there, and Greg suggested he checked out. Ryan can account for every single second last night, Sarina.” Sarina then stands up, crossing her arms as she looks at Chase.

“So, what are you saying Chase? Are you saying that you believe Ryan’s theory?” Chase shakes his head yes as Sarina glance away, biting her tongue. She had to resist the urge to flip on him. “I guess I can see why based on your past with my brother. I mean, it wasn’t the most pleasant thing. It’s just, I don’t see how this is possible.” Chase knew he was going to hear that response as he recalled the warnings from both Alan and Ryan about this possible discussion.

“That’s understandable – I can’t fault you for that. You love him, he means the world to you, and obviously you’re going to believe he’s innocent till you’re shown without a shadow of doubt that he’s guilty. I would probably be the same way if the roles were reversed. However, I think you should at least consider the theory based on the evidence.”

“Evidence? You call that evidence? Do you not realize what police need to consider evidence?” Chase rolls his eyes, knowing that was obviously a big missing piece of the puzzle here.

“I do, but Ryan’s testimony is evidence as well. Next thing they will search his belongings and probably find a trace, if it is true. Then it’s over.” Chase could see the frustration growing on Sarina’s face as he keeps his eyes focused on her. “Look, I didn’t tell you to start a damn fight. Heck, I love you and I get why you trust him. But just like Ryan thought he’d warn me, I thought I’d warn you. Is that at least allowed?”

“Oh that’s always allowed, Chase. But this whole believing accusations and telling me how it’s going to go down and why is not allowed. That’s crossing the line. That’s not having my back like I thought you would.” Chase then looks at her surprised.

“Having your back? Okay, news flash – I always have your damn back. I’ll always love you. Hence why I said that I didn’t want this to cause a riff, but you should know. And damn, obviously I’m going to consider what Ryan is saying based on my past. You mentioned it yourself that I obviously have first right to consider your brother based on what happened.” Sarina takes a deep breath as she glances down at the floor, debating her next move.

“That was pre-tumor, though….” Chase shakes his head in agreement, though also had developed a theory of his own.

“What if the tumor was there, but didn’t change him afterwards like the doctor implied? That’s always a possibility, Sarina. He could’ve been acting.” Sarina laughs as she rolls her eyes.

“Of course, because we all know my family is screwed in the head.” Chase walks towards her, feeling bad for upsetting her and knowing how touchy of a subject her family was.

“Hey, I’m sorry, okay? I know it’s not easy for you to handle in learning this news and everything that has gone on with your family. If I can offer you any comfort, let me offer a cuddle or something, please. But also, please consider what I’m saying…” Sarina shakes her head no as she looks up at Chase.

“It’s not true. I don’t care what Ryan or you say, it’s not true. And I’m not going to stand here and listen to the bullshit.” She then grabs her purse and phone off the couch, heading out the door and slamming it behind her.

Chase then lets out a sigh as he sits down on the couch, eyes glancing towards the door.

He knew what she was like. When she didn’t like what you told her, she shut down and hid everything away and ran. It was her motto. She had run when she was younger. She had run from the danger to them before. He knew that once things came out – whether good or bad, everything would even out and they would be able to discuss things nicely as they had previously.

Though as he lays back on the couch and feels a tear trickle down his cheek, he couldn’t deny that it didn’t sting a little to watch her walk out in that fashion.

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