Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 168: Christopher vs. Sarina

Friday, November 10 – Phoenix Raceway

Sarina emerged from the care center, having been checked out and deemed okay besides being a little sore, and had only one thought on her mind.

“Where is he?” She immediately questioned as her eyes landed on the first person she recognized. The brown eyes that glanced into hers could care less about finding Christopher at this moment, though, as they were filled with concern and worry from what they had just witnessed.

“Are you okay?” Chase asks in response, ignoring her question totally. Wasn’t it obvious that she was okay?

“Where is Bell?” Chase knew he wasn’t going to get anywhere unless he answered her question. He actually wished that he didn’t have to give her this response as it was unfair.

“They fixed some of the damage, changed the tires and he’s back out.” She immediately rolls her eyes, feeling disgusted right away. Of course he would not have enough damage to end his race early.

“Son of a bitch! I’m going to kill him.” Chase takes a deep breath, trying to remain calm, hoping they could focus on how she was doing instead.

“Sarina….” She was surprised at his disagreement in her plan. Wasn’t he upset about what happened?

“What? He deserves it!” He felt like rolling his eyes, knowing her plan had many layers of failure. It also didn’t address the biggest concern that still filled him.

“Sarina…..” She didn’t care anymore what he said or thought, as it was clear that he wasn’t going to be supportive or do what she wanted. How was that even fair after she backed him all the way with Denny?

“I am going to go wait for his ass and he better watch out.” She then begins to walk away, creating a new sense of panic for Chase. How was he supposed to get his answer this way? What if she did approach Christopher? What would the team, or more importantly Kyle say afterwards?

“Sarina, no…. Sarina…. Chelsy!” Upon the name slipping out of his lips, she froze immediately, spinning around on a dime to face him. Was this really happening?

“What the hell is your problem, William?” It was Chase’s turn to be caught off-guard by her response, but that didn’t deter him from the plan at hand. He was going to get his answer, and solve the other problem at the same time. With eyes locked on each other, he immediately reaches for her arm, grabbing a stern hold. “Let me go…”

“You’re not going out there….” Sarina couldn’t believe this was happening right now. Shouldn’t he be simply following her, ready to back her up on all accounts?

“Let me go, Chase….” Chase knew there was no way that was going to happen based on her frame of mind right now.

“Not until you calm down.” She didn’t want to say the next words, but she was willing to do whatever it took to get her hands on Christopher.

“William Clyde Elliott, let me go before I kick your ass, too!” Chase knew she was just saying that out of frustration and lack of rationalization in her state. He also knew that she could try, but he would keep a hold on her to prevent her from doing something she’d regret later on. Besides, he had another concern on his mind…

“Sarina, are you okay?” Wasn’t it obvious to him that she was okay? She was walking around, willing to go kick some ass, and not deterred one bit.

“I told you to let me go….” Chase figured he better let the question go, because it wasn’t getting them anywhere. Maybe he had over-paniced a little when the wreck happened.

“Alright, I guess I got my answer – but I’m not letting go. You’re not going out there…” Her eyes immediately began to roll in response. If he got his answer, why did it matter anymore?

“Why not?” Chase knew the dead obvious answer.

“Because you’re not approaching him on pit road.” She had to laugh in response. He could easily approach Denny two weeks ago, but now she wasn’t allowed to go talk to Christopher?

“Why? Because I’m a girl? Because you want to protect me, Chase? Gosh, you approached Denny and you guys weren’t even on pit road! You were on the bloody backstretch! What is different here?” Chase knew his response immediately. An argument between two drivers was one thing, but punches thrown between teammates would be a whole other level.

“You’re a lot more fired up than I was and willing to kick his ass.” Again, a laugh escaped her lips. She had an obvious reason to be upset with him based on what happened.

“Oh, so because I’m going to get myself in a fight with possible punches you’re afraid now?” He had to shake his head as he knew she could stand her ground against any driver in this garage area. He had witnessed that already enough racing against in late models.

“No. I’m saying this because you guys are teammates. Do you really want to piss Kyle off by causing a scene out there? It’s not Kyle’s fault that it happened. It’s not the team’s fault, and it’s not the sponsor’s fault. But if you dare go and approach Christopher out there, cause a bloody scene, every one of those people are going mad at you for making a bigger headache.” She knew that he had a point on many levels, but that didn’t deter her plan for Christopher. He had to know that she wasn’t happy with what happened.

“So I’m just supposed to sit back and let him get away with that?” Chase knew there was no way that was happening as he did want to give her a chance to tell Christopher just how she felt.

“No – you’re just supposed to handle it appropriately. Why don’t we go back to the trailer, sit back and watch the final laps, and then you can approach him back there away from everybody? That way he knows your angry and gets to see why you’re so upset – and deservingly so, without a problem, please.” As long as she got the chance to talk to Christopher, she didn’t care how that happened.

“Fine. Can you let me go?” Chase shakes his head no. He wasn’t going to take a chance of her changing her mind in accepting his plan.

“No….” He then leads her back to the trailer and inside, closing the door behind them with his fingers still attached to her arm.

“Is this how it’s going to be? Are you keep doing this until I talk you about how I am feeling or give up on approaching Christopher?

“I’ll let you go when he gets back here….” She lets out a sigh, though knew she wasn’t winning this argument so she relaxed back, letting her eyes focus on the TV in the hauler.

After all the chaos that ensured, she watched as Johnny Sauter took the victory ahead of John Hunter Nemechek, with Christopher back in eighth. She almost wanted to scream watching Johnny do his celebratory burnout, though crossed her arms as Christopher came onto screen with one of FOX’s reporters.

“Can you take us through the side-by-side racing with Sarina Ott?” The reporter asks as Sarina just shakes her head. She couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say.

“It was really intense and we were both doing everything we could to go for the win,” Christopher starts. “It’s a big advantage to be on the outside because you have all the side force and whenever you crowd her like that you take all the air off the side of her truck. I knew that I was playing with fire there and that there was a good possibility that I was going to get us both in trouble. She was doing a really good job down there of hanging onto it and keeping it up – we were just racing really hard and it didn’t work out.” She almost laughed at how quickly he brushed off the contact. Like, it was supposed to mean nothing because they were both racing hard for the win and sometimes shit happens. She understood that, having found herself on both sides of coin previously. But you at least expect your teammate and best friend to give you a little more room.

“Are you mad at Sarina for the accident?” Chase then looks over surprised at the reporter. Why would Christopher have any right to be mad at Sarina when he was the one that crowded her to begin with?

“Everybody that drives a truck or any NASCAR, the aerodynamics are huge. Like I said earlier, you’re at a major advantage whenever you’re on the outside because you can just pinch that guy or girl down and make them loose, loose, loose and when they get loose, they lose momentum. You’re playing with fire whenever you do it and that’s the risk you run whenever you run like that and it didn’t work out for me.”

Sarina reached up, hitting the knob to turn the television off. She didn’t need to hear anymore of the post-race coverage as she had heard enough. Crossing her arms, she looks out the window to watch for him coming.

It wasn’t long before he was back in the pit area, and bound for the trailer. Chase kept a hold on Sarina, giving her a simple nod as she looked back.

“You can speak and rant and yell all you want – I don’t care,” he tells her. “But I’m holding you back enough so you don’t punch the guy.”

She watches as the door opens, her eyes immediately meeting his as he knew what was coming without saying a single word.

“What the hell were you thinking?” She questions before he even has a chance to say anything.

“I was just thinking about the win,” he answers, which he thought was pretty obvious. Weren’t they both focused on that?

“Well, congratulations because you gave it away to Johnny rather than letting one of us get it. Are you happy now?” He lets out a sigh, as he was nowhere near happy with what transpired.

“I was trying to crowd you to get you loose – yes, for sure. I wanted to get you to wiggle a little so I’d get the momentum and clear you and drive away. I didn’t expect you to get that sideways or to come around. I guess I got a little too close off of turn four, and I apologize. I never intended to wreck you and I am so sorry. I was looking forward to battling right to the flag. I didn’t mean to do that and I feel absolutely terrible.” She was caught off-guard by his instant apology, and how sincere it sounded that it caused her to take a step back. That didn’t mean all was forgiven, though.

“But you did, and you saw what happened. Your words don’t fix trucks, Bell.” He nods his head, knowing that he certainly wasn’t done apologizing for what happened yet. Clearly each employee at KBM deserved an apology, too.

“I know, and I plan to apologize to everybody for what it is worth. We’re all learning here and I made a mistake. While I can’t take back what happened, I can tell you that I’ve learned from it so I won’t do that again. I don’t know what else to say, really.” She didn’t know what else to say either as how could you argue with a guy that was taking the full blame? But, that didn’t make her feel better at that moment.

“I accept your apology for what it’s worth, but that doesn’t mean that I’m ready to hang out and be super buddies quite yet. I’m going to need some time to let this go.” He nodded his head, accepting.

“Take whatever time you need, but know I am sorry….”

“I know…” She then head out of the trailer, with Chase in toe, ready to turn in for the night.

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

Saturday, November 11 – Phoenix Raceway

Sarina lets out a long sigh as she glances at the clock. How could it be morning already?

“Are you okay?” Chase asks, causing her blue eyes to focus on his brown ones. “And please don’t lie…”

“I am sore,” she answers, as she moves closer to cuddle up with him. “My back, my shoulders – a little bit everywhere. That wasn’t pretty last night…” It didn’t take much for him to agree as he wrapped an arm around her.

“Now do you understand why I was so worried?” She nods her head, almost set to kick herself in the butt for how she acted.

“I’m sorry I was a pain in the ass. I should’ve been understanding of your concerns for me, and I should’ve co-operated a little more. I guess I have some work to do in the anger department.” Chase chuckles a little, glad that she realized what many had seen the past couple of years.

“Least you have a boss that can give you some advice…” She rolls her eyes. “And hey, it’s okay. I understood your frustration. I wasn’t too pleased with Christopher, either.”

“He did apologize, though, and I don’t think he meant it, unlike say someone else…” Chase sighed, not surprised that a reference had been made back to Denny’s behavior at Martinsville. He would rather not hear a single word about that moving forward.

“Do you forgive him?” She nods her head, knowing that she couldn’t find a reason to stay mad any longer – despite how sore she was feeling. “Now, I know you want to stay and cuddle all day, but I do have to go practice…”

“Can’t you just tell Alan you’re not feeling well and get Justin to fill in?” Chase had to admire her attempt, but wasn’t about to go for it as he slipped out from their cuddle, standing up. “Chase….”

“I’m sorry, but that’s just how things go.” He then grabs the bottle of Tylenol and water off the night table he had placed there in the middle of the night, knowing this moment would happen sooner than later. “Take 2 so you ease some of the pain. Then after I grab a quick shower, I am going to run you a nice warm bubble bath so you can soak in it while I go pract-”

“I was going to come wit-”

“No, you need to take care of yourself today. So you’re going to soak for a good bit, and then I want you to either relax on the couch or in the bed. You need to take it easy so you don’t make all this soreness worse. But if you’re good today, I’ll make it worth your while once I’m done both sessions….” She then looks at him, intrigued. “Trust me.”

“You haven’t let me down before….”

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Back to Square One – Chapter 28: “Can you help me?”

Thursday

Even though she knew it was wrong, and wanted to head the other direction, she just couldn’t bring herself to do that. Like everything in life, she took it head on and was set to do it to her fullest potential before walking away.

That’s why after completing the hours she needed to at the shop and before heading to the house to pack for Pocono, she knew she had to make a stop on the way home.

Glancing at the sign outside, it seemed like the perfect shop that would carry the parts that she needed. Parking in front, she headed inside with her details set to get this done quickly as possible.

“May I help you?” Mitchell says, eyes focused on her. He recognized her immediately, but wasn’t going to tell her that. The longer she didn’t know, the more information he could gather for Jimmie.

“I’m looking for some parts for a Pontiac GTO,” she tells him as she pulls out a piece of paper. “I just moved to town recently, finally got my car back up and running, and now I’m set to continue improving on it.” He could only think of one reason why she wanted to do that, knowing her background.

“What type of improvements?” She smiles immediately. It was obvious by the name of the place.

“I want more horsepower, speed, torque – better performance overall. Can you help me?” He wasn’t about to turn away new business, or seeing her again so he could keep tabs on her for Jimmie.

“Absolutely. Can you tell me the specifications so I know where you stand and what we can possibly do?” She slides the paper across the counter, as he looks it over. “Not bad, but I got some ideas. I can have the parts in for you by Monday.” She smiles as that’d work out perfectly.

“That’s fine by me. Just let me know what I owe you.”

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

“You seem quiet today…” Chad comments as he finishes packing up what he needs in the shop for the weekend. “And I mean quieter than normal…” Ron could only let out a sigh as he double checked that he had the weekend checklists in order.

“I’d just rather not talk about it, okay?” Ron says and Chad nods his head, having grown to expect that answer. It didn’t mean that he was willing to just move forward this time.

“You know, you’re going to eventually have to talk about what happe-”

“This isn’t about that!” Chad freezes upon the outburst, watching his friend closely as Ron looks up to meet his gaze. Ron hadn’t meant to snap, but it was too late now as the eyes locked on him weren’t about to leave. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sna-”

“You need to change your attitude and fast, Ron. I am not going to deal with someone snapping their ass off at me and being a jackass for long. This team is about commitment, family, and being focused – not being on different pages and annoyance. I don’t have time for shit like that.” Ron knew that, and could feel the ice beneath him beginning to crack with each passing second.

“That’s what she said, too….” His voice trials off, causing the focused eyes to not leave him or flinch. “I snapped at Greenlee the other night when she accused me of staying too late and working too hard to divert my thoug-”

“She’s not lying, Ron. I’ve seen your hours.” Ron rolls his eyes, knowing that he was probably going to get approached about it sooner than later by either Chad or Rick.

“I know, and I don’t deny it. I didn’t deny it to her, either. She went out late last night to go somewhere, and I asked her where she was going. She wouldn’t give me a straight answer – still probably upset about what happened. She got home late and I apologized immediately, feeling terrible still. She told me that I needed to look at myself in the mirror, address my issues, and do something before I pushed everybody away. Basically, take what happened by the horns…” Chad felt his wall of anger break immediately in hearing his friend breakdown what happened, feeling absolutely terrible in that moment. How could he treat Ron that way when his crush had just broken him further?

“Did she say anything else?” Ron shakes his head.

“She just went to her room. It was like I do something, or I begin to lose her, forever. I want to do something as I want to begin the process and move on. I just don’t know how…” Chad’s wall broke even further in hearing the confession. How could he be mad when Ron wanted to do something?

“You could try by talking to me about what happened, and your feelings. You could also try confessing to Greenlee, Jimmie, somebody. You just need to start talking.” Ron knew that, but where would he ever begin?

“I went back to the stree-”

“Ron Male-”

“I didn’t go street racing or stay long, Chad. I just went and looked one night. I thought if maybe I brought back the feelings of being there, reasons for going, seeing how it all began, I could begin to find the answers and clarity that I wanted.” Chad could understand his position – having heard of people doing that before. That didn’t mean he was pleased with the approach, though.

“Did it help?” Ron shakes his head no. “I don’t know what to say or tell you, except she is right. You need to do something as this is eating at you and I don’t want it to come to the point where I have to draw a line. I told you if you needed time off, I could give that to you. Just please, figure out what you need to do and know my door is always open, okay?” Ron nods his head, accepting. “And maybe if you apologize to her again, she’ll understand. She knows how it feels to be in your shoes.”

Moving Forward – Chapter 57: Christmas

“Mommy! Daddy!” Alyssa yells as she runs into the bedsroom, jumping on the bed. “Wake up! Wake up!” Dale slightly opens his eyes, glancing at the clock, letting out a yawn.

“What time is it?” Marie wonders, as she tries to bury herself back under the pillows.

“It’s actually 8,” Dale states, as she glances over surprised. “She did let us sleep in some…”

“It’s Christmas!” Alyssa lets out as she sits on the bed, looking between them. “Santa came. I looked. Can we open gifts, puhleeeease?” The pair of them chuckle as Dale sits up, wrapping his arms around her, and pulling him back against him.

“Don’t you wanna lay here with daddy and cuddle?” She shakes her head no, immediately, squirming out of his hands. “So you really think Santa brought you some good stuff?”

“I good girl, Daddy!” He chuckles, knowing that was certain, as he tosses the blanket off, slowly getting up.

“I’ll go get Elsa from her room. I expect to see you downstairs shortly?” Marie gives a thumbs up as another yawn escapes her lips. “I’ll send Alyssa back up to get you if you’re not…”

“Yeah, yeah,” Marie lets out as Dale and Alyssa leave the room to go get Elsa.

It wasn’t long before the family was gathered around the tree, opening the gifts left by Santa, and also the ones they got for each other. From clothes, to barbies, to even a couple more toy cars, it seemed that Alyssa had gotten a bit of everything. Elsa was spoiled too, with some more toys for her to play with, including a little car to ride around on.

“We’re spoiled, aren’t we?” Marie questions, as she watches Elsa climb on her new toy car, pushing her feet as she goes back up the hall again.

“I wouldn’t say spoiled,” Dale answers as he wraps an arm around her, glancing towards Alyssa who was playing with her cars in a mock race of her own on the carpet. “I’d say we’re blessed, and deservingly so. You especially deserve it after everything you went through.” She looks over at him, grabbing his hand and squeezing it.

“You went through just as much as me, if not more. I still can’t imagine what was going through your mind that day on the plane.” Dale looks back towards Alyssa, counting his blessings once again, before his eyes return to Marie.

“I was thinking how much I missed you, how I loved you so much, and even how maybe I took you for granted sometimes. I don’t think I’ll ever do that again.” He then kisses her lips. “But I also remember watching Alyssa, wondering if I could raise a little girl all by myself, scared out of my mind. I just wanted the best for her – that’s all I still want for her. I was thinking how she’d never get to know her amazing mother, and why I loved you, and all the things that you could teach her. I was a mess…”

“Hey, that’s understandable. I mean, I was a mess when I woke up and you had gone missing from the hospital. If it wasn’t for Stevie and Kelley, I would’ve gone insane.” Dale chuckles, sometimes still amazed at his sister’s strength.

“All that matters is that we have each other, and these beautiful little girls…” He then kisses her lips once more, before heading out to the kitchen to start on breakfast.

As he was getting set to get the eggs out of the fridge, he pauses, taking a deep breath, as he glances once more towards the living room. He couldn’t help but smile as he saw Marie sit on the floor, kicking off a conversation with Alyssa about her race. He also chuckled as Elsa went around the kitchen and back out towards the living room, making vroom noises the entire time.

“Never take a single moment for granted,” he reminds himself, focusing back on breakfast. If he needed any assurance that he was making the right decision for his future, he got it in that moment.

The rest of the morning went smoothly as they all ate together, followed by the kids continuing to play with their new gifts. Dale and Marie began to set focus on dinner for later on that day, knowing the house would be full in a matter of hours.

Caught up in dressing her new dolls, Alyssa felt like she was having the perfect time in her little kid world. But when she heard a familiar ring from her dad’s cell phone, it didn’t take her long to drop her toys.

“I got it!” She announces immediately, walking over to the table and answering the facetime request. “Chasey!!” Chase immediately smiles back in return as her face fills the screen. “Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas to you, too!” He replies back as Dale glances over, not surprised that he was messaging them. “Did you get lots of gifts?”

“Yes! I show you!!” She then carries the phone around the room, showing him everything that she got from Santa and her parents. “You get gifts?”

“Of course I did as I was a good boy, too. I also know that there’s a special gift you haven’t gotten yet.” Her eyes light up immediately. “Go look behind the cupboard in the dining room.” She sets the phone down, running there to look as she sees a pink box immediately. She grabs it, hurrying back with it as she sets it down on the ground. “You found it?”

“Can I open it, please?” He chuckles, nodding his head. He watches as she tears into the packaging, ripping through each layer as quick as she could, before reaching a box inside.

“Open that up…” She follows the instructions, immediately smiling as she pulls out the pink firesuit. She holds it up, looking it over, seeing the design that he had chosen, along with ‘Princess Alyssa’ along the belt line. She looks back in the box, seeing he had gotten a pair of pink skeleton gloves and racing shoes to match. “What do you think of that?” Chase knew she was almost too big for her current suit, and figured it was only fitting to spoil her for the next one.

“That’s awesome! It so pretty! Thank you Chasey!” He smiles back in return. “I have gift for you when you come home, okay?”

“Absolutely. I look forward to seeing it. Now, can I talk to your dad?”

“I go put on my new suit!” She then takes Dale the phone, handing it to him, before rushing back to the box to grab the suit.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 88: Kentucky Speedway

Saturday at Kentucky Speedway

Regan’s well-wishes for a good day started out on point as she was running up front through the early stages of the event, having made her way through the field.

Though with 50 laps to go, the smoke began to trail out behind the car, as a series of disappointed faces filled the pit box. Just like that, their day was over and just like that, she was in a hole in the standings. They knew she had to get a win in the next two races or else their championship dreams were officially vanished.

“You ran good at both Dover and Charlotte in the spring,” Chase reminds her. “You still got a great shot at doing this.” She smiles back in return, simply nodding her head.

“We just gotta do what we know how to do, right?” She asks and he couldn’t agree more. If anybody could win under pressure, it was this group right here as they’d done it before.

“The roval at Charlotte should fall right into your wheelhouse,” Kevin Meendering adds, referencing her success a couple months ago. “But either track should be perfect for a win.”

“I haven’t lost a drop of hope, yet…”

As she broke down the discussion with the team, followed by a series of interviews, Chase couldn’t help but wonder from a distance as he watched her. Had he thrown her game off with what happened? But of course, that couldn’t be blamed as it was a mechanical failure, not driver error.

His mind also filled with a flew of thoughts, thinking back to his conversation earlier with Regan, and the past couple of weeks, as he found himself balancing the positives and negatives.

“I’m sorry I rambled on earlier this morning,” he finally speaks, catching Regan’s attention.

“What? Those rambles about your fears and frustrations?” Regan questions and Chase simply nods his head in return. “Don’t be. I’d rather see you get that out of your system, see some answers, then let it eat at you. I’d had no issues handling that this morning.” Chase was glad that he found that trust in Regan, but often wondered about other people.

“I know it’s the anxiety bugging me more than anything, but I just worry about things like that. How will other people see it? Will I get that same acceptance when I get back? Am I truly who I think I am? I just found myself worrying and wondering and asking so many questions…” Regan wasn’t about to end the conversation, actually glad to see his friend continuing to open that door.

“It’s understandable as a lot of has gone on, and I can see why that’s happening. I can’t say that everybody is going to be the most positive like myself, Dale, Alyssa, and others. There will be some that want to tear you apart at the seams. But in the end, do their opinions matter? Absolutely not. All that matters is the confidence that you have in yourself, and the confidence those around you closest to you have.” Chase knew that, even though the questions lingered once in awhile.

“But how do I stop myself from worrying?” Regan wasn’t quite sure he knew the answer, to be honest.

“I think you just need to focus on the positives. Focus on what’s happening, yourself, what you’re doing, and not try to let your mind wander outside that world. I know part of that worry comes with the fear, wondering if something else is going to happen. The only way to overcome that is to face the world and convince yourself that’s not going to happen, and you’re doing that slowly. I mean, you’re standing out here in the garage in a sea of people. As you convince yourself, put that into practice, and continually remind yourself that it’s over – it’ll come.” Chase hoped that Regan was right, but knew there was still one piece of unfinished business.

“I also worry about completely blacking out, or going through that phase where I just do stuff and don’t remember. I don’t want to do that at the wrong time, but I often wonde-”

“Hey, that’ll come with everything that I just said. As you get more comfortable and retrain the brain so to speak so it doesn’t go hide, it’ll come to be where you’re comfortable. I mean, we’ve been out here all day yesterday and today and nothing has happened, not even a flinch from you despite all the chaos. That’s progress, right?” Chase nods his head, but wasn’t about to say he was home free.

“But I’ve also been having someone look over my shoulder every single minute.” Regan knew the feeling of being ‘babysat’ didn’t quite sit well all the time with Chase. Here, a grown adult, was having to be watched by someone 24/7. It just didn’t seem right when you thought about it in that way.

“But you haven’t had to turn to that person to bail you out, or help you. Besides, what’s wrong in having a friend there to look over your back all the time?” Chase knew nothing was wrong with that, except that missing adulthood independence feeling.

“But you could’ve been hom-”

“I would’ve been here anyway. I just would’ve been watching like a normal fan, rather than down here in the midst of the Alyssa circus.” Chase chuckles, remembering they nicknamed the sea of reporters and photographers that just seemed to follow her around for whatever reasons due to being a princess.

“You know I really appreciate having you as a friend, right?” Regan smiles.

“You’ve told me a time or two, and that feeling is mutual.”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 167: The Teammate Tangle

Friday, November 10 – Phoenix Raceway

After a nice week away, it was just like clockwork as they were back to the daily grind at Phoenix Raceway. So far, the day hadn’t gone that bad. Sarina was fourth in the lone truck practice session, while Chase led the Cup session.

“So I take it those adjustments worked?” Alan questions afterwards as Chase nods his head.

“That was worth taking the time to do,” he comments as Alan glances over the notes, before setting them aside.

“We should qualify well later on today. Then I say we tweak on the car a little more tomorrow, and we’ll be fine for Sunday. We’re going to get this right.” Chase believed in the crew chief’s words as it was now or never to win that weekend.

“We’ve missed out on a couple different opportunities to win these last couple of months. I don’t see why we can’t win this weekend. I mean, I’m going to be disappointed if we don’t make the final four.” Alan could understand that, based on their performance, but he wasn’t quite that far down the radar.

“I wouldn’t say disappointed as we’ve done a lot better this year than we did last year, and we’re starting to find our groove here at the end of the year. If anything, it makes me look that much more forward to next year – not that I’m writing off this season, yet.” Chase understood where the crew chief was coming from, but felt thinking of next year was pointless right now.

“Let’s just stay focused on the task at hand, and get the job done – deal?” Alan nods his head, accepting, but his eyes don’t leave his driver one bit through the whole conversation.

“You’re quieter than normal…” Chase looks over surprised. “I just noticed that you got something else on your mind. Would I be right?” Chase just smiles back in return. It should be obvious what’s going on.

“Well, you do realize my trip got cut short because we had to go to Florida, right?” Alan nods his head, having heard about that minor detail. It was the next stage in the trial against Sarina’s brother Chris for everything that had happened. It was Chris’ turn to testify against the charges laid in his favor. “To be honest, he was smart with what he said. He stated enough words that it would make you believe there’s doubt that he poisoned me and Ryan. Now if the jury sees that, and doesn’t consider the other evidence enough, you know what happens.”

“But okay, let’s say they find him not guilty on those two charges. There are five other counts of poisoning that he pled guilty to, along with two other minor charges. Isn’t that worth enough time in jail?” Chase nods his head, having already done the math as he tried convince Sarina things were going to work out in their favor.

“He’ll be away for at least 60 years, if not 80, depending how the judge sees fit – which is great as you’re right, that is ample time. The problem lies in the fact of parole and making sure that he can’t sneak out under psychological insanity. Both terms need to be clear as day so he can’t sneak around them, or that chance of him doing something again is always there.” Alan could understand the theory behind that, and one look into Chase’s eyes said everything he needed to know.

“And that worries you, right?” Chase looks up at Alan and nods his head.

“It’s not the easiest thing to say, Alan, but he scares the bloody crap out of me. There’s twice now that he almost has gone too far – the plane crash, and the pois-”

“Don’t remind me of Daytona, please…” Alan didn’t need a reminder of what he saw that day, and the panic that set in once he found Chase up in the hauler. He was fine moving forward without any reminders. However, he understood how that played with Chase’s thoughts right now. “I absolutely understand the fear, and trust me – it’s not something to joke about, or realize that it’s not coming from a good place. You have every reason to feel the way that you do. I hope for your sake, and Sarina’s, that it plays out the way you want. I know what it would mean to finally have that peace of mind.” Chase laughs a little. “What?”

“Peace of mind? Please, I don’t think I’m going to get that. It seems Allison is great at showing up at the loveliest of times.” Alan nods his head, having seen her appearance at Texas.

“Well, at least you’ll be one step closer to that if you manage to get Chris where you need to.” Chase could live with that statement. “That makes me wonder. Exploring her family and finding more people that have connections to her, Chris, and Bethany. Do you worry about uncovering something that doesn’t need to be?” Chase shakes his head no right away.

“The potential of closing that chapter for her, and helping her deal with those feelings by finding something, outweighs that entirely. By the way, we are getting closer to the first piece of the puzzle.” Alan looks over surprised.

“Really?” Chase nods his head, remembering the text message he received.

“I think I’ll have it unwrapped and really down that road by Christmas.” Alan smiles, knowing exactly what Chase had in mind already. But still, a tinge of fear was there in knowing what had happened so far.

“Just be careful, okay?” Chase nods his head, accepting.

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

Following qualifying, Christopher Bell made his way down pit road to where Sarina’s pit was, patiently waiting as she discussed things over with Marcus Richmond. He then smiled as he caught her attention, with her walking over right away.

“Hey,” he simply says. “Nice job.” She then crosses her arms, with a smile of her own. Truthfully, she wished it was role reversal but instead, he got the pole with her second.

“I should be telling you nice job there,” she comments as he simply smiles back in return. “We’ve got a pair of good trucks.”

“That doesn’t surprise me, actually. Look, I stopped on my way down here because I just wanted to check on you. Are you okay?” She then looks at him confused.

“Why would I need someone to chec-”

“Yesterday, your brother, and everything that happened.” She then takes a deep breath, as she glances away from Christopher for a moment.

“I was actually trying to put that out of mind, truthfully.” He then glances down at the ground. “But hey, it’s okay. I’m still pissed and upset at what he did. All I care is that he gets locked away so he can’t do it again. He said what he had to say and now we’ll see what happens. If the courts do their job, I won’t have anything to worry about.”

“Do you think they will?” He didn’t mean to press the issue too far, but he couldn’t help but ask. He knew while she wanted to avoid, getting her to talk about it some would help.

“I think so. It’s clear as day that he was behind the other attacks, and he has a past history with Chase. If you add that together, no matter what freaking story he tries to con up to cover the last two, a little kid could put together that he was responsible. I don’t see there being any problems.” She then flashes trademark smile. “Hence why I am focused on this weekend, tonight, and kicking your ass.”

“Oh really?” She nods her head as he could only look back with a grin. “Well, we’ll just have to see what happens tonight. By the way, I’m not going to take it easy on you just because you’re my teammate and having a rough stretch…”

“I wouldn’t expect otherwise. Good luck tonight.”

“Right back at ‘cha.” He then heads off to his pole award photos, while she makes her way up pit road, knowing Cup qualifying was next on the docket.

“Uh oh, someone looks like he’s got something serious on the mind…” Ryan comments as he watches Chase walk by him following the qualifying runs. The session had gone decently, with Chase ending up qualifying fourth. The fun factor was the front row being made up of Ryan and Denny. “Thinking about if you should wreck Hamlin on Lap 1?” Chase laughs and shakes his head no.

“Chase wreck someone on purpose? That’d never happen,” a new voice chimes in as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. walks over to the pair. “Sorry, but I don’t see you doing that ever…”

“Never say never. Danica did tell us she’d never date another driver, and she’s been with you for a couple of years.” Chase grins between them, impressed with those words. “She also said she’d never be one to hang around the dirt tracks and oh wait, isn’t she doing that now?”

“So are you really going to wreck Denny on the first lap?” Chase laughs, enjoying the suspicions about his plans for Sunday.

“I don’t have any plans to wreck Denny on the first lap or at all,” Chase reveals. “I’m actually going to be solely focused on winning so I can be part of the Championship 4. And for your knowledge, Mr. Blaney, Sunday’s race is not even what I am thinking about.” Ryan then looks at him puzzled, but immediately has his suspicions.

“Are you thinking about Chris?” He wonders, though knew if that was the topic at hand they should walk away from Ricky now.

“I heard he had the trial on Thurs-” Ricky starts, having seen something about it in his twitter feed.

“It’s not about Chris, either,” Chase cuts him off, even though he had thought about it a little since his conversation with Alan earlier. He figured he might as well tell the pair, anyway. It’s not like they could spoil the surprise and maybe they’d have advice. “So I’m trying to find Sarina’s family – real family that she ran away from. She had six uncles and an aunt. I had someone looking into the information and he’s located the majority of those people, and they check out to be decent. Now it’s figuring out the best way to reach out to them.”

“What if you just call them one day?” Ryan suggests, not seeing the big deal in this process.

“They may not answer the phone so I say you just show up on their front door,” Ricky adds as Chase rolls his eyes. This wasn’t quite the advice he was looking for.

“What if they’re crazy and attack him?” Chase then looks at Ryan full of complete shock, with Ryan just shrugging his shoulders in response. “What? It could happen.”

“Good point. Bring security with you…” Chase rolls his eyes as he couldn’t believe he had enlisted these two.

“Joshua suggested that the first person we reach out to be someone that Sarina really knew well, trusted, and liked,” Chase continues. “But she doesn’t talk much about her family – except her dad here and there. How do I find out that person?” Ryan and Ricky were caught off-guard by the question, but knew there had to be a solution eventually.

“How about you tell her about what you’re doing?” Ricky questions and Chase shakes his head immediately. He wasn’t ready to ruin the surprise, yet.

“That’d ruin the surprise.” Ricky almost felt like smacking himself in the head.

“What if you bring up some stories, and see if she’ll complement with some of her own?” Ryan suggests. “Or maybe ask about family vacations, and tell a memorable story of your own. Just try to bring it out in casual conversation.”

“Or you could talk to people that have known her longer than you have and see if they know,” Ricky adds. Chase nods his head, accepting the advice. It was certainly somewhere to start.

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

He knew those concerns could be worried about later, as for now, he had a truck race to focus on. Seeing how strong she was through practice and qualifying, there were some high hopes entering the evening.

Chase watched as she pulled ahead early, leading a chunk of the laps, before Christopher got back around her for the top spot, leading the rest of the way in the opening stage. The second stage went smoothly, as well, with Christopher leading the whole thing as she ended up second.

Chase watched the slew of pit stops, small fist pump in the air as the teammates came off pit road together 1-2. Could this go any better?

The start of the third stage worked out perfectly, as she pulled ahead, taking the top spot. A smile formed on his face as he watched her pull further away from Christopher and the rest of the field, destined for smooth sailing from here on out.

Of course, none of these races come that easily as the caution would fly with 27 laps to go for a truck slowing. Marcus immediately made the call for Sarina to stay out, sighting the importance of track position, lack of tire fall off, and having enough fuel to make it to the end.

The ensuing restart did not go smoothly, as a move by Austin Cindric, followed by a block from Ben Rhodes, saw Ben spin around and hit the inside barrier hard, before collecting Matt Crafton in the process.

“Are you kidding me?!?” Chase says out loud, disbelief forming between the late race incident to the fact the pair had collided in their battle for the final transfer spot in that way.

“Same thing that Carl and Joey did last year,” Kyle comments from his vantage point, referring to the wreck at Homestead while battling for the championship. “Ben never should’ve blocked.”  Chase nods his head in agreement.

“He had to know that would happen as soon as he went down. But, does Austin make that move stick with enough room if they get to turn one? We’d probably see a repeat of Kenseth and Bowman here last year.” Kyle smiles, as he thinks back to Martinsville a couple weeks ago.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures. Both were desperate to make a statement and get to the next round.” Chase couldn’t help but agree, and began to wonder if the same type of move would be what it would take to transfer tomorrow.

After a lengthy clean-up – including a red flag, everything was set to go for another attempt at the restart. This time, the green lasted a little longer as they were able to at least make a lap – but it didn’t take long for the caution, either. Six-wide through the dog leg on the backstretch resulted in contact in turn three, and several torn up trucks.

“That definitely wasn’t going to work,” Kyle comments after seeing the replay, shaking his head in surprise. “Ridiculous…”

“Are we ever going to finish this race?” Chase wonders, glancing at the lap count. Through the chaos, Sarina had managed to hold the lead with Christopher in second. There wasn’t much left now…

The restart came with 10 laps to go, and all eyes locked on the action in seeing Sarina and Christopher battle alongside each other for the lead. Both Chase and Kyle felt like they were going to jump out of their skin and nerves as they saw both trucks get a little sideways, followed by a little bit of bumping.

Neither driver lifted through the whole process, and finally with five laps to go, everything came to a head. Sarina got loose underneath Christopher off of turn four, truck spinning around, and backing into the outside wall, followed by Christopher slapping the wall with the right side of his truck. The wreck wasn’t over there, yet, as Justin Haley was left nowhere to go, hitting just behind the driver’s door of Sarina’s truck as it rolled across the track.

“Are you fucking kidding me?!?” Kyle asked out loud, standing up in complete disbelief as he looked at the pair of torn up trucks. “They led all the laps to this point…”

Chase had his fair share of anger over the contact, almost set to give Christopher a piece of his mind, but that didn’t matter in that very moment as he sat there, eyes closed, waiting for the familiar words over the radio.

“I’m okay,” he hears after a bit, taking a deep breath to calm his own nerves.

He watches as she climbs out of the truck, taking a breather for a moment as she lays her head on the roof. Chase could feel each part inside of him ripping apart, concern filled in thinking about the pain that she could be in.

He felt somewhat relieved in watching her climb out the rest of the way, followed by walking with the official to the ambulance for the trip back to the care center.

Making his way down the steps and set to join her, he could only wonder as to what’s to come.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 166: JAGS Metals 350

Friday, November 3

Chase was surprised by her reaction as he revealed his plans for that Friday evening.

Perhaps he could have told her a little sooner. But with trying to avoid thinking about anything racing related, it simply had slipped his mind until Morgan reminded him earlier in the day.

She also had to know that their schedules wouldn’t always align. Didn’t she go run a late model event the same day as a Cup race that time? Wasn’t it about balancing schedules for them? To be honest, the anger was uncalled for. He understood the shock due to no warning, but not the anger.

“I have to be at Hooters for 7 o’ clock, sign autographs for an hour and a half, and then do a Q&A and a couple other things so I’ll be there until around 9,” Chase tells her. “That means I’m missing opening ceremonies, and half the truck race. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you sooner; I forgot to mention it.” He then takes her hands with his. “But I promise my heart is with you, and even if I’m not here, I’m cheering you on just as much.”

“A little more warning would’ve been nice,” she comments and he nods his head in agreement. He knew he screwed up, and certainly planned to make up for it later.

“I know and I’m sorry. I should’ve told you when Morgan reminded me earlier. I promise I won’t do that again.” She nods her head, accepting, as she looks into his eyes.

“I accept that promise, and trust you. Besides, you don’t schedule these appearances, right? It happens. I’ll be fine. I’ll see you when the night is done, okay?” He accepts with a smile back in return. “Love you.”

“I love you more.” He then leans in, snagging a kiss, before heading out of the garage to go get changed and ready for the night ahead.

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

Even though he wasn’t at the track, Chase made sure to keep up-to-date on what was happening with the event. He had Morgan tuning into KBM’s twitter handle for updates while at Hooters, whispering over her running position and who was leading whenever she got a chance. Then once they had left, they had turned into the radio broadcast to listen to the entire ride back to the track.

So far, things had gone really well for her. She ran up front throughout the first stage in the top-three until a late caution came out, and Marcus went with the strategy of pitting. Then once the stage ended, she stayed out to inherit the lost position, cycling back to the top-five. She would once again run up front as she did before, taking the stage 2 win after passing her teammate Myatt Snider with nine laps to go.

He had arrived at the track just as they were set to start the third and final stage, and he hoped it went just as well. Sneaking up on top of the pit box in his usual spot, he watched as she restarted further back in the field due to strategy, ready to make up ground.

Then, everything just seemed to fall apart. With 78 laps to go, she kissed the wall slightly, causing concerns that there was damage to the right rear – but those were not to be worried as things looked fine upon further review.

“Loose as fuck!” She swore across the radio shortly thereafter. “Can’t drive it. On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 10.”

From there on, she was unable to make up much ground, ultimately crossing the finish line in 16th.

“You were doing good until I showed up,” he told her after the race. “I think I might have jinxed you.” She then gave him a smack as he looks at her surprised.

“That’s why you can’t miss part of the race and then just show up,” she tells him. “Either you watch the whole thing, or go fly a kite.” He then laughs back in response. “I can’t believe we lost the handle just like that.”

“Marcus must’ve missed the transition from day to dark. It happens as even the great Chad Knaus has done that before. You’ll get them next week.” She then smiles as she pulls him close.

“That’s right, but that’s after you show off your cowboy strut on Sunday…” He just rolls his eyes as they head back to the motorcoach lot together.

Saturday, November 4

Chase knew he should be focused on the weekend ahead and the racing action that was set to take place, but his mind kept wandering to another spot on Saturday afternoon. That was why after some careful thinking, he made the trip down to see his teammate between practices.

“You always go see Jimmie, so if you’re coming to see me, that’s trouble….” Kasey muses as Chase just laughs, continuing his walk over.

“Maybe because this is advice that Jimmie can’t help with,” Chase comments as Kasey crosses his arms, a little confused.

“He’s 7-time. He knows everything.” Chase laughs as that was most certainly true – about racecars, though.

“You have a brother and a sister, so you understand this better than Jimmie.” Kasey smiles, knowing exactly where Chase was going with this immediately.

“Let me guess. You finally let Sarina meet the family as in not only your parents, but Star and Brittany as well. I could also guess that one, if not both, gave her the third degree.” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“But it gets better. Brittany calls me two weeks after that meeting and gave me the 21 question treatment about Sarina’s history, background, intentions, and my thoughts.” Kasey smiles as there was nothing left to do.

“Welcome to siblings. Shanon did the same thing to Samantha after we had been together for a couple months, too. She gave me the questions, followed by cornering Sa-”

“Brittany did that at the family luncheon.” Kasey just shakes his head.

“What do you expect me to do or say? That’s just how siblings are, Chase.” Chase was hoping for a much better response than that.

“How do you deal with it, though?” Kasey wished he had a better answer, as it wasn’t like some magic word or phrase would call off the wolves.

“I just told Samantha that my sister loves me a lot, cares about me a lot, and wants to see the best for me. I also told her that if she was patient, she would see that my sister is a great person and they’d probably get along once she trusted her. In contrast, I told Shanon that she needed to lay off a little, and give Samantha a chance because she was a great girl, someone I trusted, someone I loved, and she’d get to see that. You just have to be understanding to them both, and realize that one cares a lot and the other feels defensive because they’re worried about how that person could cha-”

“Brittany could never make me just say goodbye to Sarina.” Kasey nodded his head, glad to see the commitment.

“But Sarina doesn’t know that 100% certain. She doesn’t know how much you trust Brittany. She doesn’t know how far you take her word. That’s why you have to repeat your words, reassure, and be comforting.”

“Okay….” Kasey puts a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“Relax, breathe. They’ll get along eventually. Every family deals with this that has siblings.”

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

 Sunday, November 5

“Are you ready or not?” Chase questions, as Sarina glances in the mirror once again, fixing the couple strands of hair that had come loose from her ponytail.

“Do I look good?” She asks and he simply nods his head. “Alright. Let’s go….” They then head out together, set to make the walk through the motorcoach lot together.

“So, are you going to be able to stay calm and collected, or are you going to lose your mind?” She then looks at him, a little confused, almost laughing.

“Oh, so now you think that I’m one of those girls?” Chase glances over with a slight smile.

“Well, you did go a little crazy when we were at the rac-”

“I got to sit in a Formula 1 car. That would make anybody go crazy!” He just laughs back in response.

“I just don’t want you to scare Daniel off…” She rolls her eyes, giving him a playful jab as he laughs back in response once again.

“You’re being an ass.” He just gives her a wink as they finally reach Dale’s motorcoach.

They keep their distance, letting the pair trade helmets and sign each other’s as originally planned. Then once that was done, Dale did the duty of introducing Daniel Riccardo and his friend to both Chase and Sarina, as it was up to them to host the Formula 1 driver for the day.

“Careful, she may have 20 million questions and freak like a little fan girl,” Chase teases as Sarina gives him a shocked look.

“Jackass!” She lets out, smacking his arm as his jaw drops, followed by his hand rubbing the spot.

“See what I mean?” Daniel just laughs at the pair as they walk through the garage area, headed for pit road.

“Don’t be afraid to ask anything,” Daniel informs her. “Because I’ve been asking Dale, and the crew members questions all day. I’ll probably have more to ask Chase.” She smiles back in response, before sticking her tongue out as Chase glances towards them.

“Can I trade him in for you?” She questions, causing a hurt expression to form on Chase’s face as Daniel could only laugh.

“You have got to be kidding me….” Chase’s words then catch their attention as they reach pit road.

“Well, I can’t blame her for trying,” Daniel comments in response as Chase just shakes his head.

“I’m not talking about that.” Sarina then looks at him confused, watching his eyes immediately dart towards Morgan. “Blond chick, Hooters attire, 2 o’ clock. Are you kidding me? You did say something, right?” Morgan follows his lead, letting a big sigh as she does.

“I said something, as well as showing them a copy of the restraining order,” Morgan comments. “Just hang back and I’ll get rid of her.” Chase nods his head, accepting, watching Morgan walk over. While he played it cool that day at the photoshoot, he wasn’t about to let Allison continue to interfere with his life with no regard. Certainly this couldn’t been ‘by accident’ as she had to know an at-track appearance would include him.

“Can I kick her ass right now?” Sarina questions, noticing the blond immediately and seeing the wink that was shot her way. She didn’t need any other thoughts to realize who that was.

“If the pit road wasn’t full of people and witnesses, absolutely,” Chase answers, growing annoyed himself.

“Is she the chick that supposedly went after you because some other chick forced her?” Daniel wonders having heard the story through the news. Chase nods his head as he cautiously looks over at his special guest. Cue the guest leaving now because of thoughts of danger….

“That would be Allison Reynolds…” Daniel watches her and Morgan interact closely.

“If she did all that by accident and meant no harm, why would she break the restraining order?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, now believing less and less of her sob story with each interaction. “If I was in your shoes, I’d accept that they’re all co-herding together.” At least Daniel wasn’t trying to make a run for it.

“Trust me, we’ve talked about that. Hence why we wish she would’ve been locked up.” They then watch as Morgan walks back over, smile on her face as she glances across the group in full.

“She’s dealt with, taken care of, and being escorted off the property by security as we speak,” Morgan informs them, satisfied with a job well done. “Now daily representative at Hooters can kiss my ass as he says three girls in a photo will look like shit because you should have two on either side of you. I told him simply that your safety is more important, and they better accept it because already they failed to do their job in not allowing her to enter your circle.”

“One, two, three girl – does it really matter?” Sarina questions as Morgan shrugs her shoulders.

“That what I’m saying. So let’s go get this over with and then we can have some fun today.”

Chase sits on the pit wall, sipping on some water following the series of post-race interviews, taking a couple deep breathes as he watches Sarina walk over.

“You guys fought hard all day,” she comments sitting down beside him, placing a hand on his leg as he looks over at her.

It wasn’t the day he wasn’t looking for, but it wasn’t that bad in all reality. They continued to make strides in their mile and a half program, and ultimately ended up with an eighth-place finish. It wasn’t the win or top-five he originally desired, but after starting in the back and fighting the handling through the middle, it wasn’t too bad either.

“The guys and I did the best that we could,” he replies. “I can’t complain. We’ll just bottle it up together, and focus on making it happen next week.” She nods her head, accepting.

“I believe in you and the guys,” she tells him. “Your short track program has been top-notch this year, and you ran well at Phoenix in the spring. If there’s any place it could happen, that’s a good spot…” He nods his head accepting, as he finishes the water. “You look completely wore out….”

“I’m roasted, soaked through with sweat.” The thought of stripping him right down out of those layers came to her mind immediately – to help him cool down, right? But she had to shelf that idea for that second, despite her tongue running across her lips.

“You need to go back to the motorcoach and get a nice cool shower…” He nodded his head in agreement as that was his next destination already.

“Oh, I talked to Kyle already. This coming week, you do not have to go into the shop at all for any meetings – same with myself at Hendrick.” She then looks at him a little puzzled. “Look, we’ve had a lot going on lately. From dealing with Allison popping up like a jack in a box, to Bethany’s trial, to frustrations on-track – it hasn’t been the month that neither of us envisio-”

“We’ll figure it out like we always do – together. I’m not running…” Chase knew that, and appreciated that statement more than he could express that single moment. It meant a lot to see the trust had grown so far to where she was no longer running at the darkest times.

“But let’s face it, we also need to get away and just have some time to where we’re not thinking about racing or life at all for awhile. You’re coming up with me to Colorado this week, with some of my friends and my dad. We’re going to let loose, relax, enjoy the cabin, and have some fun dirt biking.” She couldn’t help but look back a little puzzled.

“Dirt biking and a cabin with some of your friends and your dad?” He nods his head.

“Two of my buddies that live out that way, plus my dad…”

“Your dad going dirt biking?” He laughs at the surprise on her face as he places a hand on her leg now.

“You’re in for a surprise. When we get out there, he just as wild as I am on a bike, ready to hit some of those knarly jumps. He still has a fix for adrenaline.” Sarina couldn’t help but be surprised as she thought it over. it was a good idea, though.

“And your mom lets him?” It was now his turn to be surprised.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” She was wondering if maybe she’d stepped over the boundaries, but it was worth saying out loud.

“Your mom seems like she’s the one who holds the control of the relationship between them – not to offend you.” He had heard that from plenty of people before, so he wasn’t surprised by her observation.

“My mom does in many ways, but she knows when it comes to letting Dad play, she can’t stop that. He needs to get in his fix or else he goes a little insane. She just makes him promise to be careful, and makes sure I’ll keep an eye on him. So, what do you say? Ready for some time away?” She couldn’t help but smile back in return.

“When do we leave?”

 

Back to Square One – Chapter 27: Sneaking Out

“What time are you getting back tonight?” Ron questions as Greenlee throws him a glance.

“Why does it matter to you?” She shoots back, still upset about his comments in the shop.

“I was just curious, that’s all. And where are you going anyway?” She then looks at him with a bit of surprise. It almost seemed opposite to what happened earlier.

“So I can’t ask you questions, but you can ask me? That seems fai-”

“You’re staying in my house, so I have a right to know.” She could almost laugh in his face right now. Of course, he’d throw it back in her face.

“Maybe I’ll just find myself a new apartment or something so we don’t have to deal with this….” She then grabs her purse, heading out of the house with the door slammed shut behind her.

Slipping behind the wheel, cruising off into the night sky, she couldn’t tell him where she was going. There was no way that he’d understand her intensions, or allow her to go. She might as well kiss the life she was building goodbye.

But, for some reason, she couldn’t let go of the past.

She makes her way to the spot that she was told about previously, pulling up to the mountain as she glances around. A small smile immediately crept onto her face, and it felt like home immediately.

She was one of the best street racers back when she was running the streets, impressing the hell out of every guy that she came across. However, when she moved to Pine Valley, she fell out of that world. There was nowhere to do that there, and she wasn’t able to travel hours for a simple thrill. Instead, her joys and adrenaline came in another form of a twisted life full of ups and downs. While she was enjoying a restart, she missed some of those times there….

Part of her continued to wonder what would’ve happened if she wouldn’t have moved. She wondered whether she would’ve stayed involved in the street racing, where it would’ve taken her, and whether she could’ve made the cut as one of the best.

Taking a deep breath, it never hurt to test the waters a little.

“Well, well, there’s a fine lady if I would say so myself….” A voice catches her attention as she glances to her right. She knew the streets well,  and could tell by the guy’s swagger that he was good at setting things up. Time to play the cards… “What brings you out here, good looking?”

“What other reason would I be out here than to kick some tail?” She questions back in response, catching him off-guard.

“No need to get all hasty, sweetheart. I just wanted to know your intentions.” She watches him as the guy overlooks her car, taking in a surprised glance with a swing around the backend. “Not a bad ride…”

“I don’t play games.” She didn’t know if she could still get it done like before, but he didn’t need to know that.

“Well I would hope not if you’re here. Now if you’re ready to ready to play, I got somebody that’s up for a challenge from a rookie.” She laughs as she was nowhere near a rookie, but perhaps being a little rusty may make it look that way so no need to brag about her record.

“I’m ready for anybody….” She watches a flick of his fingers, and then the roar of a motor fills her thoughts as she could only smile. Anybody could tell that was a mustang from a mile away. She was certainly ready for this fun tonight.

“I hope you’re not just talking the talk because this guy isn’t someone to mess with.” She then laughs back in return as her hands land on the steering wheel.

“Neither am I, hot shot.”  He then smiles as he glances in the car, eyes focused on hers.

“Be at the starting line in 10.” She watches as he walks away, taking a deep breath. She could already feel the adrenaline pumping through her veins, itching to her hand shift through the gears and feel the rumble of the horsepower.

Why hadn’t she done this sooner?

**********

She climbs out of the car, grabbing her purse and heading inside the house. It had been a decent night, as fun was definitely had in revisiting memory lane. But, it hadn’t gone as according to plan as she lost both races she tried, certainly showing the rusty ability that surrounded her. There was also probably the fact that the car needed some TLC, too.

“Hey,” she hears quietly as she walks past the living room, glancing at Ron as he watches the TV.

“Hey,” she replies back as she continues walking through the room without a pause in her step.

“Greenlee, I want to apologize for earlier.” She then stops suddenly, glancing back at him, surprised and taken back by his words. “I shouldn’t have been as rude to you. You’re right about your concerns, and you have every right to care, too. Actually, I like the fact that you care about me so dearly. I shouldn’t had let my mood and everything that’s going on cloud that judgment and take it out on you. It’s just I can’t find the way to tell everybody so I lashed out. I’m sorry…” She nods her head, accepting the apology. If truth be told, she truly cared about him more than she could admit, worried about his condition with everything that he was going through. But, that didn’t mean that he could just escape what he had done. Sorry was just a word in her mind, as actions did the talking.

“Maybe it’s time you take a look at yourself in the mirror, and address those issues, before you push away every damn person that cares about you by treating them like an ass. Life isn’t full of pure happiness, joy and perfection, Ron; we all get dealt tough times – trust me. That doesn’t give us a right to treat everybody like you treated me. Maybe it’s time you open your eyes and realize what myself, Jimmie, and Chad have been saying to you all along.”

She then keeps walking, closing the bedsroom door behind her, leaning against it, hot tears forming and rolling down her cheeks as she slid down to her knees.

She loved him so much. She wanted to reach out, accept the apology, and just move on like nothing happened. She wanted to feel his arms around her, speak with him more. But, she couldn’t do that. If she had done that, then they’d just probably repeat the cycle over and over as he continued to fight the demons he was facing.

If there was any chance of moving forward and letting him find his true self, she needed to do this.