Saturday, August 12 – Michigan International Speedway
Sarina smiles after giving Chase a quick kiss, before walking over to the truck.
It had been a quiet morning so far as she had watched Chase take part in Cup practice, still pleased with how the No. 24 Chevrolet was performing. The pair then spent time grabbing a light bite to eat together, not much conversation, before heading out to pit road about 20 minutes before qualifying.
Sarina had been quiet most of the morning, lost in her own thoughts. This was where she grew up. This was where her journey had begun as a little girl. This was where she had spent the first 13 years of her life before everything got twisted around. Needless to say, for all the reasons above, she wanted to perform this weekend. She wanted to do well at her home track. She wanted to do well to put everything negative behind her.
Chase crossed his arms as he kept his eyes locked on her, taking a deep breath. Admittedly, it’d been tough to read her emotions. Sometimes she was confident and focused as always, while other times she was quieter than he could’ve imagined. He read some of the anger from her, as well as the sadness; it was why he had suggested story time the night before. He also spent that night cuddling her as they slept, and holding her after breakfast following some more comments. He couldn’t be disappointed, though, as at least she was opening up a little rather than running. It was nice to see the trust building more and more each passing day.
“Yo, is everything okay?” A voice catches Chase off-guard as he turns to the source. He immediately felt like rolling his eyes as he saw Christopher standing there.
“Everything’s fine,” he replies. “Why are you concerned?” Christopher glances towards Sarina, who was talking with Marcus, before eyes back on Chase.
“She’s quieter than normal, and you’re standing back here observing. It just doesn’t seem like you guys…” Chase smiles as he looks at Christopher; he had to admit that he was good.
“What are you talking about me not being observant? You were around when I was late model racing. How many times did I walk off to watch?” Christopher shrugs his shoulders.
“It’s not like this…” Chase sighs as he crosses his arms.
“Everything is fine between Sarina and I. It’s just, this is home for her. She wants to do well so badly. She wants to perform to the best of her ability. She’s also feeling some emotions, and fighting those. Needless to say, it’s a bit of roller coaster…” Christopher nods his head as he thinks it over. He knew Sarina’s backstory wasn’t pretty.
“So basically you’re standing back to make sure that she’s okay?” Chase nods his head. “And she’s like she is because of everything and maybe even feeling the pressure, some?” Chase nods his head. “That’s reasonable. Look, I didn’t want that to look like I felt you guys were having issues or trying to break ya’ll up, or whatever. I was just concer-”
“I know. Sarina told me that you guys had a heart-to-heart and you’re cool with things. I get it. You’re almost like a big brother to her at KBM, which sometimes she needs that.” Christopher now looked at Chase in surprise.
“Are we really finding a compromise after everything?” Chase laughs and nods his head.
“Surprising, as you barely lived after your comments in California.” Christopher laughs, remembering how he was doing everything in his power to break them up then.
“I don’t blame you for that, really. But I mean, I realize how much you mean to her, and she means to you. I mean, nobody should argue that after Indy.” Chase nods his head, as he lets out a sigh. He wished he could forget that whole experience – well, except for the meeting with Casey.
“I just did what I felt was right in the moment.”
“You did more than just the right thing, Chase. I hate to cut this short but I have to go quali-”
“Go before you get in trouble!” Christopher then gives him a nod as he heads off.
Chase remained in the same spot through the whole session, eyes focused on Sarina, then the scoring board, then the truck on track, followed back to her. The session ended up going quicker than he expected, and smoother as he didn’t see any cause for alarms. On top of that, she had a decent run, placing the truck fifth on the board.
“What do you think of our little superstar?” Marcus asks as he walks over and Chase just smiles.
“I think she did a great job,” he replies as he pulls her into a hug. “Truck looked good out there, and decent speed. Fifth is nothing to be bummed about.”
“I’m happy,” she comments with a smile. “We can do a lot from there. Just need to be calm, focused, not make any mistakes, and have a solid day.”
“That’s my girl!” Marcus says, giving her a high-five before walking away.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Chase asks as he looks into her eyes, and she just nods her head.
“I’m ready for what the day is going to bring me, not set to focus on anything else!” She tells him as he just smiles in return. “But thank you for being there this morning, caring, and asking.”
“I’m just doing what I need to do for you, because I love you…” She nods her head as she keeps herself leaned against him.
“You better be careful this weekend too though, mister. You’re still fresh off what happened.” Chase lets out a sigh, having heard reminders already from his parents and Alan.
“Trust me – I’m watching everything and keeping tabs. I’m feeling great.” She then looks up at him.
“You’re not just saying that to get me off your back either, right?”
“Straight up honest.” She then kisses his lips quick, before they head back through the garage. “Oh, I got a phone call today…” She then looks at him, confused. Normally, he didn’t announce these things. “Our attorney wondered if we were open to deal maki-”
“Are you freaking kidding me?” Chase smiles, having expected that reaction.
“I basically told her the same thing. However, there’s an argument to be made about Bethany’s involvement. Some people suspect maybe she was behind what happened to Ryan and I.” Sarina could only laugh.
“Come on Chase, really? Do you honestly believe that shit? I mean, we know my brother was behind all those incidents…” Chase wanted to spit back the same belief, but he wasn’t quite satisfied yet.
“To be fair, there’s no exact proof that Chris di-”
“He handed the bottle directly to Rya-”
“What about mine?” Sarina then stops and faces Chase, causing him to freeze and turn to face her. “That bottle was brought into the trailer by myself out of the fridge. What if she laced that bottle in hopes that you would drink it? They’ve been in discussion so she could’ve had access to everything, or been the key to him getting his hands on it.” Sarina then crosses her arms, surprised.
“So you’re saying that we should play with the devil’s cards and deal?” He shrugs his shoulders.
“I’m just toying with the possibility, that’s all. But for the record, I told her that I had no interest in making a deal with Chris, ever.” Sarina lets out a sigh. She didn’t want to have to go into lecture mode after all the work it had taken her at the police department those first couple of days to get them to where they were now.
“Thank God…” They then continue walking as Chase debates whether to carry the conversation forward.
“She then asked whether I wanted to strike a deal with Allison. I straight up told her that I was through with her after the threats placed on you, the team, everybody, and what I’d been through. She understood that, and told me striking the biggest sentence possible was up for grabs.” Chase then takes a deep breath, remembering his words. “But then she mentioned how Allison’s dealings may be due to Bethany. Now recall Bethany gave you the threat and comments, followed by landing that photo in your lap. So I am going to assume there’s a connection. Now how does that work? I don’t know.”
“Bethany has always been just words. She can’t deal things herself. I couldn’t see her forcing Allison directly, but she may have talked the right words to get Allison to go with what she wanted.” Chase smiles as he thought the same thing in the conversation with the attorney.
“Conspiracy, please?” Sarina nods her head.
“So, you told her to go forward with a deal then?” Chase wouldn’t put it that far.
“I told her that there may be a conspiracy, and if she could explore and exploit that out of Allison, then maybe we could lower the sentence just a touch but not much at all because of my pure anger and the level of what she did. I mean, I don’t want Bethany to walk if she’s conne-”
“Oh, she’s connected alright. She visits Chris on a regular basis if you look at the visitor log. I’m going to take full bet that she had some connection to Allison, and I would so love to see that revealed.” Chase smiles as he looks over at Sarina.
“So you’re okay with what I told her, right?” Sarina nods her head.
“The Allison situation is yours alone so how you choose to go about that, I back you 100% fully no matter what.” He smiles as he wraps an arm around her.
“And your brother is your family, so no matter what, I back you fully there.” She smiles, but they already both knew the direction that was going.
Sarina lets out a sigh as she leans back against the truck, looking down pit road. It was almost surreal to be standing there right now, set to start in a NASCAR national event at her home track.
Was this really happening?
Glancing up at the crowd, she wondered if any of her high school mates were amongst the fans there. She also wondered if maybe they recognized her, too, and were set to cheer for her. Letting out a sigh, she sometimes missed those gals after having to pick up and leave the state.
“So you set me up on a date?” A voice chimes in, catching her attention as she spins around and smiles. This was certainly a good distraction.
“You need a girl Blaney,” she replies as Ryan just rolls his eyes. “I figured I’d help you out with some company tonight.” Ryan then crosses his arms.
“I don’t know a single thing about her. I don’t even know what she looks like, her personality, name, or age. I mean, can’t I know something?” Sarina shakes her head. “Okay, so what if I show up at this meeting place and I get kidnapped?”
“That won’t happen, Ryan; I’m not that evil. Besides, I’ll be hidden somewhere to make sure that it’s the right girl and nothing happens to you.” Ryan then looks at her with a glance of surprise. “I’m serious!”
“For some reason, I trust you….” He then gives her a pat on the shoulder. “Good luck…” He then walks away as Chase glances between the pair confused.
“Don’t ask…” Chase then gives an intrigued look to Sarina, who can only laugh. “Just make sure you’re there around 8 o’ clock tonight.”
“Another prank?” He questions as Sarina shrugs her shoulders, grabbing his hand.
“Like I said, don’t ask. Besides, it’s time for opening ceremonies….” Chase lets out a sigh as he stands by her, taking it all in.
The race that day went smoothly as Sarina ran up front all day long en route to scoring a solid seventh-place finish. She wasn’t overly excited, but she was pleased – it was a decent finish and that’s what she needed right now. She knew they could build on that in the weeks to come.
As promised, she found her hiding spot, alongside Chase, later on that night in the motorcoach lot. Glancing at her watch, she saw Ryan show up when he was supposed to per her original text message. She could only laugh as she glanced down the alleyway, cuing up her little project.
“Should I ask?” Chase wonders once again as Sarina laughs, shaking her head.
“Ryan is in for a surprise,” she offers with a smirk. She then turns the controls on, and hits a button. Chase could only watch in amazement as this robot came out of the alleyway, turning the corner, and walking up to Ryan.
“That looks almost real….” Sarina could only smile a little more.
“It pays to know smart people….” Chase rolls his eyes.
“Are you Mr. Ryan Blaney?” The robot then speaks, per it’s program, impressing Chase.
“Yes,” Ryan replies, taking a couple glances at it. “Are you Marybeth?”
“I am Marybeth…” Ryan then walks around her in a circle, as Sarina spins the robot around. “Is there a problem?”
“Yeah….” Ryan then tries to look behind a couple close bushes. “Your owner is a jackass!” Sarina burst out laughing as she stands up from her hiding spot.
“Really?” Sarina questions as Ryan looks over, shaking his head. “Admit it, though – I had you going for a good couple minutes.”
“You’re evil….” Ryan then walks over to where Sarina is. “Really evil. Like, you won’t want to know what prank I am going to have for you next for this one, missy.” She then laughs.
“I could let you dance with her if that makes you feel better.” Ryan just flips the bird as he walks away.
“Are you pouting, Ryan?” Chase questions as Ryan looks back. “Seriously, man, she may be evil, but I am willing to offer you to come hang out for a couple board games tonight.”
“Are you sure she’s going to play fair?” Ryan wonders with a glance towards Sarina.
“I never cheat,” she comments as Ryan rolls his eyes.
“Do you believe her?” Chase just laughs.
“Relax – I can catch any time that she’s cheating so she won’t pull one over on you,” Chase says as he walks over to Ryan. “I have to say, though – she got you good.”
“Evil….” Ryan comments again as Sarina burst out laughing, while going to pick her toy.
Sunday, August 13
Sarina smiles as she walks over to Chase, giving him a high-five.
“Nice job,” she comments as he just smiles in response. It had been another solid race with a eighth-place finish for the No. 24 Chevrolet.
“Thank you,” he replies. “It wasn’t too bad. Could’ve been better if those restarts wouldn’t been that messy, but not bad…”
“They’ll come with practice.” He smiles as he gives her a kiss.
“I’m going to go see Alan, and then we can head out, okay?” She nods her head as he hurries off.
“Sarina!” She hears as she’s about to run off after Chase. She then turns, watching Kyle head her way. She wondered whether he was in a good mood or not, considering it’d just been a solid 10th-place day for him.
“Hey Kyle,” she replies. “Nice run.” He nods his head, accepting.
“It was alright….I guess. Look, I just wanted to remind you about tomorrow morning’s meeting at KBM. I’m going to be there and I don’t want you to miss it.” She then looks at him intrigued.
“I don’t ever miss a meeting, Kyle….” He knew that, but was being rather safe than sorry.
“You have a good attendance record according to Marcus. It’s nothing bad tomorrow, but I just want to make sure you and Christopher are both there. I want to talk about this upcoming week at Bristol, and some tips, and I don’t want you to miss out. Considering your short track background, this is really a good chance for you to break out of your shell and really perform.” She nodded her head, accepting. That thought was already on her mind. She just wished Kyle hadn’t put this extra pressure now on her.
“I know what’s possible, and I’ll make sure to be there tomorrow.”
“Good girl. See ya later.” He then heads off as she lets out a sigh, turning the other way to head the direction that Chase headed.
Fingers crossed, she hoped things panned out well at Bristol.