Saturday, August 19 – Bristol Motor Speedway
Still feeling stressed about what happened, Sarina changed into a pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt, grabbing her phone and a pair of headphones before going outside.
She didn’t know what route she was going to take, but having been to Bristol many times, she knew different ways to leave the motorcoach area, get a good size jog in, before returning back without getting lost.
She chooses her route, before bringing up her list of ultimate Demi Lovato songs, placing the head phones in, and beginning.
No matter what it seemed Chase, Marcus or anybody said, she couldn’t get rid of the disappointment from Wednesday.
She strived on winning and always put focus on producing the best results possible. For her coming up through the ranks, it was all about perfection – finding every little mistake and making sure to fix it immediately so it never happened again. If she had made any mistakes, they always cut her at the core as if she wasn’t supposed to do those. It was what made her so strong because you rarely saw her make one behind the wheel of her late model, putting herself in a position to be there when it counted.
Maybe she pushed for perfection there because nowhere else in her life were things even close to perfect.
She couldn’t help but think about her brother in the midst of everything. How could things have gotten this twisted? Why wasn’t something done sooner? Why weren’t the attempts to help him ever working? Why couldn’t she let go of the last bit of her that wanted to reach out, hold him and help him, even with everything he had done?
She wanted the blame his faults simply on their father’s death, but that would be wrong. Daddy wasn’t to blame as this started before his death – it was actually partially why he died.
Stopping for a moment, she reaches up and wipes away the stray tear, feeling every bit of her missing her father. She wished she could hug him just one more time. She wished he could tell her a story, give her a kiss, or say something to make everything better like he would. She even partially hoped he could put the family back together.
There was nothing wrong about living in North Carolina and truthfully, she enjoyed the company. Never could she ever complain about Chase as he was everything she’d describe – even if he denied it. She also loved Kyle and Samantha, having grown close to both of them so far in her time at KBM. She even liked Brexton, which was strange as she never got along with kids usually. She also loved her team and even Chase’s guys – no matter how much they may annoy her at times. Then there was Ryan – he was not such a bad guy, even if he was a pranking genius.
She knew that in hindsight, she could be thankful for where she had gotten in her life, thankful for those around her, and thankful for how she had turned every negative into a positive. But yet, taking a deep breath, she couldn’t help but look back at times.
Unlike Bethany told her, she’d never forget her journey. It was what fueled her to push even harder moving forward. Perhaps that’s why defeats like Wednesday were so hard to accept.
Beginning to turn around and head back, she immediately smiles upon listening to the lyrics.
“And we walk together into the light, and my love will be your armor tonight,” are sung from the song at random. “We are lionhearts, and we stand together facing a war, and our love is gonna conquer it all. We are lionhearts.”
She knew even in the darkest of doubts, she was never alone as Chase was always there to comfort her, give her advice, and even try and shoo away those feelings from a rough night. Sometimes, she had to admit – she didn’t know what she’d do without him now.
Feeling her stress leave her and odd sense of relaxation with each step of the jog, his words began to set in more and more. She had done her best behind the wheel, and made no mistakes herself as a driver. She was also a rookie and certainly learning was part of the experience. She also knew the doubts in the team and sponsor needed to run away as he was right, nobody showed signs of giving up yet.
As Kyle told her back at the beginning of the year, she needed to enjoy the moment, live it up, learn and do her best – rather than rest all the pressure on the results. Reaching the motorcoach lot, perhaps it was time she really begun to let those words sink in.
“Sarina?!?” She hears, pulling the one side out as she glances around the corner. She then smiles, as she sees Kyle there. “It is you!”
“Who else would you be expecting?” She wonders as Kyle just shakes his head, while keeping an eye on the dog.
“Look, you better get your ass in your motorcoach and tell your boy where you’ve been. He sent me a couple paniced text messages when he woke up alone.” Sarina then looks on surprised, as she pulls her phone out of her pocket. She wanted to curse herself, having missed those notifications while lost in her thoughts and music.
“Oh shit! I thought he would’ve stayed asleep….” Kyle then chuckles as he keeps an eye on her.
“On race morning? Are you sure you know that boy, well?” She then curses herself, again, knowing that Kyle was right. Even though the race wasn’t until 7 o’ clock that night, he’d be up on cloud nine excitement.
“Sorry about him bugging you…” Kyle waves it off as she carries forward.
She hurries to the motorcoach, entering the four key numbers before inserting the key and going inside. She makes her way quickly to back of the bus, where she finds him sitting up in bed, phone in hand. He instantly looks up as she enters the room, surprise written on his face.
“You went for a jog?” He questions, noticing the sweat and outfit, and she can only nod her head. “Why didn’t you leave a note or anything?” She then sits on the edge of the bed, slipping her shoes off. She knew she needed a good shower now.
“I didn’t think you’d wake up before I got back,” she answers as he rolls his eyes.
“It’s race morning. What else do you think?” She then lets out a sigh, remembering Kyle’s words, slightly chuckling. “What?”
“Kyle just said the same thing…” Chase then kicks the blankets off, crawling to the front of the bed where she sat.
“I don’t mean to be worried or if I’m being a little paranoi-”
“Chase, I get it…” She then looks back at him. “I understand the worry and fear and everything. I mean, the last time we got separated alone at a track, look what happened. I can understand that going through your mind and affecting you, even though you say it was no big deal. Kyle gets it, too, as he knows how much you care about me. I’m sorry for worrying. I should’ve left a note.” He then picks up her phone, eyes still focused back on hers.
“And what about this?” She lets out a sigh, switching the screen to her playlist.
“I was lost in the lyrics and my thoughts. I didn’t realize it was a text notification. I’m sorry…” He then lets out a sigh as he sets the phone back down.
“It’s okay. I’m not upset. I’m just….” He runs his hands through his hair as he flops back on the bed. “I can’t describe how empty and worried I was when I woke up and saw the other half of the bed empty. It was an odd feeling…which is strange…” She could only smile in response.
“Some people would call that love, Chase. Others would say it’s reasonable and psychological reaction to what you’ve been through. I’m going to say a bit of both.” He then sits back up.
“So I’m not insane for lighting Kyle’s phone up when you didn’t answer me within 30 seconds of sending a message?” She laughs and shakes her head. “Okay, that makes me feel better.”
“I’ll make sure to leave you a note, okay?” He nods his head. “Now, I’m going to grab a shower before we head out…”
“Good idea. You’re all stinky and sweaty.” She then puts her face within inches of his.
“But I bet you’d still kiss and cuddle me…” He smiles, leaning in for a kiss.
“I can never deny that.” She laughs as she gives him a kiss back, before heading to the bathroom. Chase grabs his phone off the night stand, checking a couple left over text messages, before glancing at his e-mails. There was one from the attorney in Florida, which caught his attention immediately as he opened it up. “Ugh!!!! Are you kidding me?!?” He wanted to chuck a pillow across the room in response.
He immediately found himself texting Ryan, seeing if a slight change in the travel plans was able to accommodated for. Ryan, knowing they had no choice in the matter, easily accepted, sending Chase back a slightly revised schedule. Chase glanced over it, making an adjustment of his own, before returning back to his friend.
“Of course this would happen,” he comments to himself as he sends an e-mail back to the attorney, before setting his phone back down on the night stand.
“What would happen?” Sarina questions, having returned from her shower. She kept it real quick, wanting to make sure she got a good bite to eat with Chase before they began their rounds.
“We’re not leaving to go to Amsterdam now until late Sunday night rather than tomorrow morning.” She then looks at him confused.
“Weather delay? Or for some reason did our flight get moved?” Chase shakes his head as he could only wish it was one of those reasons.
“The attorney texted me. The psychiatrist is done his evaluation on his brother, as requested by the lawyer. The judge would like the findings to be heard in court. At the same time, your brother’s dear lawyer said we don’t need to be wasting time in regards to the trial as if Chris is innocent, he shouldn’t be stuc-”
“He pled guilty to poisoning four other people….” Chase nods his head, clearly remembering that.
“But the psychiatrist findings may clear him of jail time due to insanity.” Sarina rolls her eyes, knowing the games that Chris pulled to make them think he was crazy. He had already done it twice. “So therefore the lawyer wanted it move up immediately. The only reason we have been delaying is due to my schedule. Since there’s no racing on Sunday and an opening at the court house, request was processed to move up the next hearing.” Sarina could already see where this was headed.
“….and since the judge just so happens to be such a great person and love us so much that everything has gone against us in his power so far, he just so happened to agree?” Chase nods his head.
“Not only are we going to hear from the psychiatrist before we leave, but I also have to file my testimony as the request was filed for the next witness to stand, too, by the same said judge – which is obviously me. So my final thoughts before flying off to another country are going to be this case.” Sarina could only shake her head in annoyance and laugh.
“Why am I surprised anymore, really?” Chase shrugs his shoulder.
“Thankfully, Ryan was able to re-book our flights without extra charge or problem. So once we’re done, we can say goodbye and forget everything…” Sarina simply nods her head in response. “Sarina?”
“It’s my brother, so naturally, I want to tell myself it’s my faul-”
“Sarina, what have I said about tha-”
“Chase, I know what you’ve said!” She then takes a calming deep breath as she places her hands on the small dresser. “I remember your words. My brain is telling me those words over and over, but my heart is not believing it. My heart keeps saying otherwise because of the fact it was my heart that reached out and cared for him.” Chase stands up, walking over, placing a hand on each of her shoulders.
“You know, I don’t ever hold that against you. I told why that was still okay. Your heart wanted to last for the past, for the love, for the good moments, for that family bon-”
“Chase, I know. You don’t need to repeat it, again. I just need to make my brain the primary focus on that so it can cut that feeling off…” Chase nods his head, accepting, as he rubs her shoulders.
“Well, whatever you need, whether it be someone to talk to, advice to hear, a shoulder to cry on – I’m here, always.” She nods her head, knowing that with certainty now.
“I have to admit – those hands on my shoulders feel pretty good right now…” He then smiles as he rubs a little more deeper.
“You seem a little tensed up….” She then smiles, knowing that was obvious. “Are you taking advantage of the situation to get a shoulder massage?” She then glances over her shoulder back at him.
“Is that a problem, Mr. Elliott?” He smiles, continuing to rub her shoulders.
Chase leans against the car on his grid, set to get the night started. He needed a distraction as he didn’t want to think about the trial anymore than he had to.
He knew it was simple as going in there tomorrow, saying what happened, and leaving without any more to do. However, he couldn’t help but feel the butterflies.
“So of course you had to go and mess up the perfect travel plans….” Ryan says as he walks over, catching Chase’s attention.
“Do you really think I wanted to do that?” Chase questions as Ryan joins him, leaning against the car. “I mean, I’d rather do anything than sit in a court room with that guy, or talk about him for that matter.”
“Now you know how I felt…” Chase nods his head. “And trust me, I’m not upset one bit. I get it and it’s fine. I mean, we’re still going to have a spectacular time away.” Chase couldn’t help but agree based on what they had planned.
“Think we can keep outta trouble for a week?” Ryan laughs as he looks at Chase with surprise.
“I thought we were supposed to get into trouble?” Chase rolls his eyes. “Really, though, there’s one worry that I have – your girlfriend.” Chase then looks over suddenly, surprised.
“What about Sarina has you nervous or worried?” Chase almost felt like kicking Ryan’s ass in the moment, too.
“I can’t sleep with that girl in the roo-”
“You did when we were in Florid-”
“Do you know the nightmares that I have?” Chase then looks on confused. “From the condoms in the bed, to hearing Barney sing over and over to the point my ears bleed.” Chase could only laugh with a smile, as he knew exactly where the comments were coming from.
“So let’s just forget that you messed with her macaroni, and you also gave her a donut which was really broccoli underneath the powder.” Ryan smiles, proud of what he had accomplished so far.
“Dude, she set me up on a date with a robot!” Chase couldn’t help but laugh, remembering Ryan’s reaction.
“For one, I can’t believe you fell for that. For two, she just felt bad for you. She thought you were lonely and needed compa-”
“So then why did she kick my ass at cards?” Chase shakes his head, no answer in mind.
“Because she’s damn good to the point that I can’t even beat her.” Ryan knew that was true.
“All I’m saying is that I have a right to be nervous.” Chase nodded his head.
“But that goes both ways, and she still agreed to come on the trip with us. I mean, she knows she’s got something coming after the robot. As long as you don’t strike, maybe she’ll let you off scott free all trip.” Ryan then laughs as he rubs his hands together.
“Not so fast, buddy boy. Don’t think you’re getting your girl out of my hands that quickly. She’s got a couple tricks coming…” Chase could only roll his eyes and wonder as what those were.
“Just promise me that you’ll keep it in good taste and not hurt her? I don’t want to have to kick your ass!” Ryan then takes a couple steps back.
“Are you becoming protective over her? I mean, are you that deep in love?” Chase smiles as he glances up pit road where she was talking to Samantha and Brexton. “Oh my gosh, I never thought I’d see the day….”
“She’s pretty amazing, Ryan. How could I not fall head over heels?” Ryan smiles.
“And let’s just remember how nervous you were to even say hi to her, and how you needed a pair of wingman to kick off the conversation.” Chase laughs, remembering that afternoon.
“But did you have fun?” Ryan couldn’t deny that as he continued smiling. “And by the way, I didn’t say it then because you didn’t deserve it – but thank you.” Chase then turns around, noticing she was headed their way. “Now, don’t you have a place to be, like your own car?”
“I guess. Good luck!”
“Same to you, buddy…” Ryan then heads off as Chase watches Sarina walk back his way, just smiling. They had certainly come a long way in a couple short years.
Ultimately, he wished the race would’ve gone in a way to make him smile as much as he was in that moment. He had started off strong, running up front and laying down good lap times – till Harvick ruined that, getting into him, turning him around. Instead of getting a nice solid top-10 or maybe even contending for the win, he ended up 18th.
So far, things weren’t starting off as planned…..