Friday, July 28
Sarina emerges from the bathroom, brushing her hair, before pulling it up in a pony tail as she glances at herself in the mirror.
“Sarina…” She hears from the bed, noticing a pair of eyes watching her. She silently curses to herself as she walks over.
“Hey babes,” she says as she leans over to him. “How are you feeling?” He shrugs his shoulders before lying back in the bed.
“Sick to my stomach…” She then reaches over rubbing his leg.
“It’ll get better, Chase. You took the gravol, right?” He nods his head.
“Where are you headed?” She knew the discussion was set to come.
“First practice starts in a half hour.” He then flings the blanket off of him and sits up, but she places his hand on his chest. “And where do you think you’re going?”
“I’m coming to support you…” She shakes her head. “That’s why I’m here this weeke-”
“You’re feeling sick to your stomach, and can barely right now. It’s just a practice, Chase. I’ll be back right after Marcus and I am done debriefing about the truck. You need to get your rest and work at feeling better.” He lets out a sigh, knowing that she was right, as he didn’t feel like moving out of the bed. “Besides, your parents will right outsid-”
“What about you? You’re going to walk through the garage area alone?” She shakes her head as she knew that there was no way he’d let that happen, already called in a favor.
“Christopher and I are going to walk there together, and then he’s going to walk back with me – just for peace of mind, okay? I knew you’d be worried about something happening…” He was almost set to put up a fight about staying there, but didn’t have the energy. So he instead sat up, leaned in and kissed her.
“I’ll see you later then. Be careful, but be fast.” She smiles, nodding her head.
“Just take it easy, okay? Maybe if you’re feeling better this afternoon you can come out for the second practice and see your guys, okay?” He nods his head as she puts the blanket back over him. She makes sure he’s all tucked in before leaving the room. “He’s going back to sleep. I’ll see you both after.”
“Good luck,” Bill comments as she simply gives him a quick nod. “Watch the tunnel turn. It seems like it’s the easiest turn, but it’s got some corkiness. Then you’ve got the slipperiness of turn three.”
“Thanks for the tips, Bill,” she replies as she puts her shoes on. She then hears a knock on the door, grabbing her phone off the table and heading out.
“Ready to go?” Christopher questions and Sarina nods her head. The pair then head out towards the garage together. “Is Chase feeling any better?”
“A little bit, but still feeling pretty sick.” Christopher just shook his head.
“That sucks, big time. Hopefully everything subsides quickly for him.” Sarina nods her head in agreement. “You know, I’m glad that you texted and asked me actually. I was worried about you…” Sarina rolls her eyes immediately.
“Not again, Bell-”
“No no, please, don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not meaning to start that crap again. Like I said – you and Chase are meant for each other, and everything is right there if you’re happy. I’m going to burst your love bubble.” Sarina smiles, glad that they were over that as she didn’t want to kick his ass today. Admittedly, she was more tired than she thought with all of her energy exhausted on worrying this week. “I just get what Chase is saying. What if something else happens? What if there’s more to the plans here? I feel the safety concerns….”
“I can’t deny that, Christopher. I mean, they haven’t located Allison yet anywhere, and Bethany is playing completely dumb. So with both at large, I can understand the nerves. I mean, Allison could be anywhere.” Christopher then stops dead in his tracks, catching Sarina off-guard.
“There’s a posting that won’t allow her anywhere near the garage area, right?” Sarina nods her head.
“NASCAR talked to track security and made it clear that she isn’t allowed on property and to be arrested immediately if spotted. There’s an arrest warrant out for her.” Christopher then lets out a sigh of relief, before continuing the walk. “You think the hell I’d let that what she did to him go easily?” Christopher shakes his head. “Actually, he could’ve avoided getting the needle.”
“How do you mean?” Sarina takes a deep breath, remembering the conversation.
“No needle, and she would’ve blown the garage up that afternoon on Saturday.” Christopher looks over in shock.
“The crew guys. That’s why he did what he did.” Sarina nods her head.
“Their family, just like our guys are for us. We’d all do anything for each other, right?” Christopher couldn’t help but agree, having grown close to the guys over the past couple years. “The other option was that he sleep with her.”
“So instead of cheating on you and sleeping with her, he accepted a poisonous drug to be inserted into his system?” Sarina nods her head. “Holy, that’s the next level of commitment right there. Have I told you lately that you have a really special guy in him?” It was now Sarina’s turn to look at him in shock.
“I never thought I’d hear those words, Christopher…” He then shrugs his shoulders.
“It’s like everybody says – it’s hard to hate that guy as he’s the perfect sweetheart. Don’t ruin it, okay?” Sarina nods her head as they reach the garage area, going their separate directions.
Sarina begins the walk back to the motorcoach, feeling a little out of place as she glanced around side-to-side. She was supposed to head back with Christopher after just completing their second practice, but he was stuck longer due to media. Not wanting to wait around 15 minutes to see Chase, she made the trip herself.
She then hears her phone go off, pulling it out of her pocket and rolling her eyes as she read the number. She knew that she shouldn’t answer the call, but she wanted answers about Allison.
“Bethany?” She questions in a stern voice as she keeps walking.
“Hey sweetheart,” Bethany replies, causing Sarina to roll her eyes. “So I get when you phone about your brother – of course, put that on my shoulders because you can’t accept responsibility for actions, ever. But why the hell are you sending cops to my ass about this random chick, Ally or whatever?” Sarina chuckles, knowing the name mistake was supposed to be the perfect cover.
“Because I know the way you are, Bethany, and the games that you play. Besides, it’s odd that she shows up right after you make that comment to me about someone set to implode my life.” She couldn’t help but feel anger as soon as she thought about that day leaving the court room.
“Well news flash – I’m not behind her actions at all. She’s just some jealous girl who seems to have the hots for your boyfriend. Good luck with her.” Sarina rolls her eyes, knowing that Allison would be dead if they crossed paths.
“Sure, and if you do speak to her – tell her she’s dead to me. See your ass in court.” Sarina then hangs up as she reaches the motorcoach.
She then took the recording of the phone call, sending it over to the investigating officer, with questions about the timing of the call, and whether purposely done as a cover-up.
She then takes a deep breath, calming herself down, trying to forget every second of the conversation, as she heads inside the motorcoach, planting a smile on her face immediately.
“Hey!” She says as she sees Bill lying on the couch, with Chase sitting up on the other, sipping on some soup. “Chicken noodle?”
“Mother’s special homemade,” he replies with a smile as she slips her shoes off. “Nice job out there. Not bad for a rookie.” She then smiles, as she walks by, grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge.
“There’s enough if you want some, too,” Cindy says from the kitchen table, catching Sarina off-guard. It was odd seeing the woman who seemed to completely despise her at one time now being this kind.
“Thanks,” she replies. “I’m not hungry right now, but I may warm some up after.”
“I’ll make sure to save you some then.” She then sits down on the couch by Chase as he finishes up his bowl.
“So I take it the advice to get a little more sleep helped?” Chase nods his head.
“Mama’s soup always does the trick when I’m sick, too,” he adds, as Cindy just smiles from the table.
“My dad would always make a special hot chocolate with extra whip topping when I was feeling down to cheer me up,” Sarina offers, as she leans back. “I bet it was just the same usual hot chocolate, but the fact that he said it was ‘special’ made it feel even better.”
“You were close with your dad, right?” Bill questions and Sarina nods her head as she looks over. “Is that where your love for racing came from?” Sarina shakes her head.
“That was my cousin Lindsay, actually. I was so annoyed with the drama at home between my parents and my brother, that she offered to take me away for a weekend to escape it all. That trip took me to Bristol, actually, and I fell in love immediately.”
“That’ll do it,” Chase comments, remembering some of his early trips there with his parents.
“Did you ever get close with your mom?” Bill wonders and Sarina shakes her head. “Bad relationship?”
“Me and my dad just connected immediately it seemed,” she starts. “No matter the topic, I just felt that I could go to him. Whatever was going on, he always knew what to do or say. With my mom, she was a good mother and good on the girly advice. But, I just didn’t have the same comfort with her to really grow close.”
“And you were close with your brother, right?” Cindy asks, causing Sarina to look over and nod her head. “So that’s why you could never get what everybody was saying….”
“Exactly. I mean, I got it and taking a step back, I could see what Chase was saying, Ryan was saying, everybody else was saying. But being close to him, I was blinded by that love and that connection that we had when we were younger. I guess I was longing that I could go back to that…”
“Are you okay?” Chase asks as he wraps an arm around her, and Sarina nods her head.
“If you don’t want to talk about it, you can just tell us,” Cindy offers as Sarina shakes her head.
“I have no issue speaking about it at all, Mrs. Ellio-”
“Just call me Cindy.” Both Sarina and Chase felt surprise wash over them in hearing that comment as they looked over. It wasn’t much, but it was a simple step that she was opening up a little to Sarina more.
“My brother was the last connection that I had to my life the way it was before. I’m not proud of everything that happened then, but I don’t want to forget. I want to remember the memorable moments of my childhood. I want to remember the fun times. I want to remember playing with my brother and my friends. I want to remember my father. I fear that I am going to lose that.”
“I can give you the same piece of advice that I gave Ernie.” Chase pipes up at the mention of the name, remembering the whole surreal experience he had. He hadn’t told anybody about what happened before he woke up. Not because he was afraid they wouldn’t believe him, but because he hadn’t come to full grips with it either. “He lost his son when Casey was only 21 due to cancer. He was worried that people would forget who Casey was. I told him that’ll never happen. Keep telling the stories of those moments, keep telling people what he was like. Go back to those photos and see where they take you back. Maybe even do yourself a little scrapbook. I can tell you that he’s never been forgotten, either.”
“Mom is right,” Chase speaks up, quietly. “I never got to know him, but I’ve heard so many stories from Uncle Ernie, my parents, and other family members. It’s all about telling people…” Sarina nods her head as Chase pulls her close. “If you want, tell me a story a day. If you want, I can help you with a scrapbook. But know, you’ll never lose that, ever. Your daddy is always with you.” He gives the top of her head as he takes a deep breath, remembering the conversation more clearly than ever. If only he had gotten to know Casey, and if only they’d gotten more time together.
“Thank you – both of you,” Sarina says as she stays cuddled with Chase.
Perhaps everything would work out – and maybe, like her father told her, she’d find her happily ever after right here.