Thursday, October 5
Sarina glances into the bedsroom, smiling as she sees Chase glancing in the mirror, putting the final touches on his outfit for that night. While she was all for a simple t-shirt and jeans, there was nothing like a sharp dressed man, and he looked mighty fine.
“Are you just gonna stand there and watch me, or are you going to say something?” He questions as he catches her eyes, glancing towards her. She just smiles back in return as she enters the room.
“I was just admiring how handsome you look right now,” she answers as he smiles. She then walks up behind him, rubbing his shoulders. “Besides, I know how much you’re not one for dressing up all perfect snazzy. I take the moment when I can get it.”
“I thought you hated the make-up and dresses, too.” She then laughs, knowing how much she wished make-up never existed.
“I do have a love for fashion, remember? I can understand having an appreciation for having that perfect look. It’s just I can’t handle doing it myself for hours upon hours, and impressing people with something fake for no reason.” She then leans in and kisses his cheek. “But I do know when a man looks plenty hot, and I take full appreciation when I get the chance.” He nods his head, accepting.
“Normally, I’d be for all getting out of the shirt, pants, and jacket, and just kicking back. But tonight, I don’t think so. I’m looking forward to this.” She smiles, knowing perfectly why. There was a special sense of pride in knowing the No. 9 was returning back to his door next year. Now set to unveil what the car would look like and having played a small part in the design, everything just seemed to be coming together.
“You haven’t even shown me a preview of what it looks like. Don’t I at least get that?” He laughs and shakes his head no.
“I don’t even have a copy of it anywhere saved to show you.” She then looks on surprised. “I’m serious! Go through my phone!”
“Can I get a hint on color? I know there’s some blue and yellow involved – but tell me something, anything!” He laughs, shaking his head. He just loved how flustered it seemed she was getting at that moment.
“You’ll just have to wait and see like everybody else….” She then lets out a sigh as she flops back on the bed.
“There’s no really advantages to being your girlfriend at times, is there? I mean, you got to see what my truck looked like before everybody else!” He then walks over, pulling her arms to lift her up so she was sitting on the edge, eye-to-eye with him.
“One advantage – you get to spend time with me that nobody else does. Another advantage – you get to know my inner secrets. You also get to feel this…” He then brushes his lips lightly across hers. “There are girls that for some reason would scream and faint if they got that honor. Do I need to go on?” She simply smiles as she wraps her arms around his hips.
“I also get the secret of knowing the fact that you can dance and sing quite decently, too – which makes missing the Cup banquet that much more painful.” He then looks at her surprised. “Same day as Snowball Derby practice and qualifying. I checked.”
“There’s got to be some way that you can do both. Have you talked to Kyle?” She shakes her head, though knew that was a possibility. He had done both in years past without any issues. “You better talk to him. I don’t want to go through the banquet without you by my side, even if you’re only there for a bit.”
“I’ll see, okay? Besides, I was looking forward to showing you the dress I picked out.” He could only imagine how cute she would look as he knew her taste in dressing was right up there. “But let’s make this clear – you’re coming to my banquet, right?”
“My schedule is completely that day so yes, I will be there to support you. I just hope you can return the favor.” She nods her head, showing him her fingers crossed.
“Besides, I’m surprised you’re not running the Derby….” He then lets out a sigh, having heard that question plenty of times over in the past couple weeks.
“You know how I run my late model program. I only do it one way and that way only. There’s no way I can get that group of guys together for that weekend this late in the year. Besides, you can’t just waltz in there and run that race without some others on your belt to get your program right.” She nods her head, accepting. It’s why her and Kyle had developed the schedule that she had.
“So you don’t mind that I’m going to be missing your race on Sunday to be in Winchester?” He then gives her an odd glance, surprised that she hadn’t mentioned it sooner. “Last minute deal put together by Kyle and the guys once they realized it was a truck off-weekend. We both figure that a week in the late model would be good right now.”
“Hey, I can’t argue with that. I’d do the same thing in your shoes.” He then takes one final glance in the mirror before grabbing his phone off the dresser. “Ready to go?”
“Absolutely. Let’s go see what this beauty of a car looks like….”
Friday, October 6 – Florida
Sarina took a deep breath, fixing her dress slacks, before entering the court room.
She would do anything right now to be anywhere but here. She would even take working on her trucks and late models over being here. She would take doing anything right now at Charlotte Motor Speedway as Chase practiced and qualified than being here.
But nope, she was there – without her man, and she hated every single moment of it.
Taking another deep breath, she knew she needed to get her testimony over and done with as quick as possible as she couldn’t stand being there any longer than she was already.
Taking the stand, she spoke to the court room about her brother’s temperament as a younger boy, and the trouble that he found which eventually led to her father’s death. She spoke about how he re-entered her life, the layers he went through in hiding himself while attacking both her and Chase, followed by the reveal. She spoke of how he convinced them of his crazy act, followed by the reunion scenes that almost made her feel like her family would be whole again. She then went into detail about how that slowly fell apart, how others began to see it, how she didn’t want to believe it, and why, followed by watching the pieces fall apart eventually.
With her words in the books, she could only fidget nervously as she watched Chris’ lawyer stand up, knowing any excuse to get him off the remaining charges would be fought for.
“When Mr. Elliott first told you that Mr. Blaney said your brother was to blame, what was your reaction?” The lawyer questions, as Sarina takes a deep breath. Why was she having to repeat herself?
“I already told the court that I didn’t believe him,” Sarina answers. “I kept questioning him as to what he was saying, trying to find some other theory. I kept that belief in my brother because I didn’t want to believe what was happening. I didn’t want to see my brother as the bad guy. I wanted that same brother back that I had years ago.” She felt her eyes beginning to get wet, holding back every urge to cry as she focused her eyes straight forward on a single spot on the wall.
“What if your brother didn’t do it then and your suspicions are right – almost like sibling intuition?” Sarina now had to laugh as the lawyer was certainly stretching for some far with her assumptions now.
“My brother isn’t innocent, as we saw with him pleading guilty to the other charges. Also, hearing his opinion on myself and Chase’s relationship, as well as faking insanity for sympathy, that’s all I need to know. I believe Ryan fully now that I have taken a step back and looked over everything. I can promise you that it wasn’t something that was telling me he didn’t do it at all.”
“Is there a possibility that Ms. Adams could’ve poisoned Mr. Blaney and Mr. Elliott?” She knew the lawyer was now reaching for suspicion, same as she had done with Chase. She wasn’t about to let her guard down as her eyes turned to her brother.
“Absolutely not. Bethany didn’t take any actions until my brother was behind bars and unable to act further. She was just someone working alongside in the background, only taking charge when he couldn’t get his way. Besides, he poisoned the other people so it shows he know what he’s doing. Why would he stop there when we know the target was eventually breaking my life apart, piece by piece?” Her heart was tearing apart even more in saying those words out loud. How could your own sibling want to tear your life into pieces?
“How do you believe that to be the target of his behavior?” Sarina now laughs as she turns to the lawyer.
“He and Bethany told me themselves. What else can I say?” She wanted to glance at the jury, making her point stick, hoping these people were smarter than those who met Allison.
“Nothing more I supposed. We’re done….” Sarina felt satisfaction in seeing the lawyer done early, seeing as though nothing went her way through the entire testimony.
She slowly steps down, going past where she was supposed to take a seat afterwards and out the doors. As the door slips closed behind her, she barely makes it to a bench before sitting down quickly, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Sarina…..” Marcus lets out as he sits down beside her, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close as he rubs her back. “Sssh, it’s okay…”
“Why does it have to be my own brother?” She questions outloud as she continues crying into Marcus’ shoulder. “Why not someone else? Why not a stranger?”
“I don’t know sweetheart…”
“My own family, my own flesh and blood. They say all you have is your family. What the hell do I have?” Marcus continues to rub her back as Christopher sits down beside them.
“You have your racing family,” Christopher speaks up, catching her attention. “You have myself, Marcus, Kyle, Sam, Todd, Harrison, and your whole entire team. You’ve also got Chase, Alan, and heck – I think Chase’s team loves you, too. You’re not alone, ever. You have so many people that love you, support you, and have your back. You may not have that family everybody envisions, but you have people. Heck, I’m like that pesky little brother that won’t go away.” She then chuckles as he hands her a Kleenex.
“I guess that makes me like an uncle who is there for support and advice,” Marcus adds as she looks between them with a smile.
“We’ll never give up on you, and we’ll have your back – no matter whatever happens. I hate to say it, but you’re stuck with us.”
“You both are amazing,” Sarina comments as she wipes some of the tears away. “But sometimes I question letting you guys and Chase grow closer. What if I’m just tainted and bad news? What if that’s just in my bloo-”
“If that was the case, Kyle and Sam never would’ve hired you,” Christopher cuts her off. “If that was the case, sympathy wouldn’t be in your vocabulary. You wouldn’t be feeling sorry for those around you, or sorry for yourself. You’ve shown so many signs of being great beyond what has happened that I don’t doubt who you are.”
“You told me on father’s day that your father was a great man,” Marcus starts, remembering their trip together. “You talked about how courageous he was in the line of duty, but you also mentioned how understanding he was if you brought a problem to his attention. You talked about how kind he could be in helping someone in trouble, and how compassionate he was to the point that you really thought he got their level. Sweetheart, there may be some bad seeds in your family, but I can tell you that you’re not one of them. If anything, you remind me of how you talk about your father. You need to carry that legacy forward…” Sarina nods her head, remembering the stories she shared with Marcus that day.
“I don’t know what I’d do without you both today, any day actually. Thank you for being here,” she comments as Marcus keeps her held close.
“It’s going to be okay….”
Saturday, October 7 – Charlotte Motor Speedway
Chase knew his mind should be focused on the upcoming practice session, but he couldn’t bring himself to think about. Instead, he was stuck on everything that had happened over the past couple of weeks.
He was thinking about Allison. How could she be found innocent? What if she did something, again? What if they didn’t escape it next time? They had already tempted fate too many times to count.
He was thinking about Chris. Would he actually be found guilty on both of these charges? Either way, he was going to jail having pled guilty to the others – but it would be nice to have the icing on the cake. But what if he convinced the guards to let him out sometime? What if he played the insanity card again, but yet succeeded, while in prison? What if these thoughts were just nothing of the possibility?
He was thinking about Sarina and her emotional breakdown as Marcus told him about. He was thinking about what Sarina had to say about it later on that night. He was thinking about those family connections, and whether it was a good idea. What if he just found more bad news? But what if he found something good?
Why was he thinking about all of this when he should be focused on his racecar and the playoffs? There was no way he would make the next round if his mind was elsewhere and they didn’t do a good job today in practice to get the right set-up to run well tomorrow.
“I know that look on your face….” Chase hears as he watches his father enter the garage stall. “That is a look of too much on the mind to process, and no time to focus. Am I right?” Chase nods his head as he quietly looks over towards his dad. “Is it because Sarina is in Winchester?”
“It has nothing to do – okay, it has something to do with her,” he answers. “But it’s not because she’s not here. I’d be having these thoughts no matter what.” Bill then looks at him intrigued, but nothing else needed to be said. Bill had gotten the lowdown on what happened at Chris’ trial as he was keeping tabs, making sure that justice was served for what happened.
“I heard that she was on the stand yesterday to speak about her brother’s relationship, and involvement.” Chase nods his head.
“Christopher and Marcus went with her. She had a complete breakdown afterwards, and then when she got home, she broke down again to me with all of her emotions and regrets.” Bill could sympathize with that happening, knowing it had to be tough to be in her shoes.
“It’s understandable. How would you feel if one day you woke up and found out that one of your sisters was doing stuff like that, and going behind your back?” Chase knew the reaction he would have, and it wouldn’t be pretty. It took a lot to wile him up, but that would do it.
“It’s not that I don’t understand it and get it. It’s just it breaks my heart to see her going through that – and with no family to lean on for support, on top of that.”
“Did you remind her that she has peop-”
“Marcus and Christopher did. Christopher related himself to a pesky brother who won’t leave her alone, while Marcus says he can be the caring and advising uncle.” Chase takes a deep breath, knowing this conversation was going to get them nowhere. “Dad, what can I do to make it easier for her? I just hate seeing her in this much pain….”
“There’s no magical cure that you can follow, Chase. You can’t just wipe your hands and make it all better. It’s going to take time for her to come to grips with those emotions, and sort her way through them. It’s like she talked about before – she kept moving around the country, running, so there’s probably a lot that she never faced then. With this bringing all that out, on top of what happened, it’s like a tidal wave for her. The only way to fight that wave is to ride it. Be there for her, hug her, cuddle her, comfort her, hold her, assure her – just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re doing an amazing job even if it seems like you’re doing nothing at all. That’s all you can do, and at some point, you’ll both see that light and it’ll be okay.” Chase nods his head, accepting. It wasn’t the best answer that he could hear, but it was something.
“Thanks….” He then takes a deep breath, glancing towards the car, seeing as the guys were done the pre-session adjustments. “Now, I got a job to do…”
“Don’t let me stand in your way…” Bill then walks back out of the stall, glancing back with a small smile. He was willing to give Chase his space and let him grow, but also knew the times to step in and offer some advice.