Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 163: Chase vs. Denny

Sunday, October 29 – Martinsville Speedway

She felt her leg tap nervously as she watched the restart with 39 laps to go, seeing him pull away. Taking a deep breath, everything was fine….

She watched as he didn’t get too far out, though, watching the No. 2 Ford close the gap, silently cursing to herself. If there was anybody she didn’t want to see win, it was Brad Keselowski. Her eyes kept focused, seeing him roll the center, watching as he made the move and got by for the lead with 28 laps to go. Letting out a sigh, so much for the dream….

She shakes her head. She couldn’t think like that. There were still 27 laps now and anything was possible. It had to work out….

She had gotten herself into a relaxed state, silently hoping that Chase was able to work his way back to Brad and get around, though also feeling alright about a runner-up finish. It was a good start to this playoff round, right?

Though like everything had gone throughout the day, the whole day changed once again when the caution flew with 10 laps to go for Joey Logano having a flat tire. Taking a deep breath, the butterflies began fluttering immediately, fingers and toes tapping, nerves a flowing. Anything was possible on a late-race restart at Martinsville.

Her eyes focus on the track with five laps to go, watching Chase and Brad go down into the corner. She watches the bump from the No. 24 Chevrolet to the No. 2 Ford, fist pumping in the air as Brad slides up out of the groove and Chase rolls on by.

“All clear, take it…” She hears Eddie on the radio, her thoughts echoing the spotter.

Her eyes didn’t leave the action before her, watching as Denny quickly moved into second with Kyle in toe. Taking a deep breath, there was nowhere over as Denny was right there, set to make a move. She just glanced down for a quick second, hoping whatever came that Chase held off.

4 to go…..3 to go, and so far he had done an impressive job at the helm. He was running the perfect line, diamonding the corner to perfection, rolling the bottom. He was doing what he needed to do….

“Pushing you,” she hears Eddie over the radio as Denny gets into the back of Chase off turn two, though Chase keeps it straight as an arrow. “2 to go at the line..” She watches as Chase goes into turn three, with Denny close behind. It didn’t seem as if Denny let off the gas or anything, though, as his front bumper immediately met Chase’s rear bumper, sending the No. 24 spinning around.

“Fuck!” Sarina lets out immediately in disbelief as he stands up, shaking her head in disgust. Did that just happen? Did he just dump Chase for no bloody reason at all? Denny’s reason had to do with having no brakes or something, right? There was no way that he would just go do that….

“Douchebag!” She had to agree with Eddie’s words as her body filled with anger. She wished she could strangle Denny and each of his crew members one-by-one in that single moment. She also wished Chase wasn’t such a sweetheart and wouldn’t just go ahead and wreck the dumbass under the yellow.

“Yep, he definitely wrecked me,” she hears Chase and knew that wasn’t even up for debate. It wasn’t like Denny tried to do anything else. The replay confirmed it, too, as his bumper was direct as they come, no slowing down at all. Who in their right mind lifts someone wheel’s up entering the corner?

“I feel your pain, bro….” Eddie’s voice rang through her head as she sat back down, shaking her head in disgust. She could see the reflections on each crew member on the pit box. it was immediate disappointment, almost brink of tears for some of the guys. She could only imagine how Chase was feeling, knowing that she’d be a mix of a heartbroken and anger – actually, she was. There was also disbelief there, too. Did that actually happen?

“Did what happen what I think happened, or am I skewed?” She then hears Chase question over the radio. She shakes her head immediately, knowing how he was at times. He was so hard on himself at times, always over-critical of his own actions, obviously right now questioning whether he did the wrong thing. Clearly, he had done nothing wrong….

“Nah, he drove over your bumper and crashed ya,” Eddie replies, which deserved no other explanation.

“That’s what I figured. 10-4. Good to know. Thanks….”

As the field gets ready to start, there was only one thing that mattered in that moment – Denny better not win this race. She didn’t care who won now, even if it was Brad, as there was no way she wanted to see that No. 11 in victory lane.

She watches the restart, instantly cheering her boss as she watches Kyle dive into the corner, tagging Denny off of turn two and sending him up the track a bit as he squeezes on by.

“Thank you Kyle!” She cheers, watching him take the victory. She was happy for him – if Chase couldn’t win, then let it be her boss. However, that didn’t even begin to eliminate the heartbreak and anger that was remained.

“I feel your pain, bro,” Eddie says over the radio as Sarina just lets out a sigh.

All she wanted to do was get down there, hug Chase, hold him, and assure him that win was coming – and then kick Denny’s ass from here to the other side of the world. Her eyes then find their way t to the monitor, seeing the screens focused on the backstretch. She couldn’t help but smile as she watched Chase run into Denny on the cooldown lap – perfectly deserved.

“Screw him!” Eddie cheers on the radio as Sarina could only laugh in agreement. A punch to the head would be fitting right now.

She watches as the pair come to a stop, both starting to climb from their cars, eyes focused on Chase. She knew how he was when he got angry. she knew the feisty side that he could show, if warranted. Anybody who raced him in late models knew that. She couldn’t help but cross her arms with a bit of pride watching.

“Alright, face-to-face guys, outside the car…” Eddie dictates the action over the radio as Sarina’s eyes stay locked on the screen.

How could this happen? Why did this happen? And what the hell was Denny Hamlin thinking?

Chase was in total belief of what had just transpired in a matter of a couple of laps. One minute, he could potentially see his first career victory; next minute, he was turned around backwards.

It was one thing to bump a guy, give them the bump-and-run, rough them up a little. However, the key was that you didn’t totally wipe the guy’s chances of a decent day or result in heavy damage to his car. You also gave him a chance, should he save it and get back to you, to return the favor.

It was another thing in entirely just wipe a guy out no questions asked – and that’s what had him riled up. He wasn’t going to stand for that, no matter who it was that did it to him to begin with.

That’s why following the event, he made sure to go looking for him, set to send a message and tell him he wasn’t happy and wouldn’t put up with that bullshit. Driving into him was satisfaction for the frustration that he was experiencing.

Following the bumps and seeing Denny stop short of pit road, it didn’t change his views at all. Instead, he was set to actually give him word for word what he thought of him. Throwing the steering wheel on the dash, and the belts off whatever direction they’d go, he began to climb out, set to meet him eye to eye. It was time to be a man and face the consequences of what he did…

“That was bullshit running into me after the checkered!” Denny yells to start, not even fully climbed out. Chase had to chuckle to himself and look back in disbelief. Was this guy serious?

“You’re kidding me, right?” Chase questions back in return as he finishes climbing out, watching Denny come walk up to him face-to-face.

“No matter what, that was ridiculous…..” Chase couldn’t believe this at all….

“You wrecked me….”

“I had someone right on my bumper…” Chase almost laughed back in his face, knowing that wasn’t true as he had glanced up in the mirror once Denny had bumped him off of turn two. He knew exactly where they stood entering the corner.

“There was two car lengths between you and the other guy…”

“I just tried to move you….” Chase almost laughed again, really not believing he was hearing this, especially from someone who had been racing as long as Denny had been.

“You wrecked me, plain and simple…”

“I did not mean to wreck you. I just meant to give you a bump….”The intentions of the actions didn’t really matter at this point. Besides, if you’re going to attempt to use the bumper, you have to know it’s a possibility. Why wouldn’t Denny just own up to it already?

“But you just wrecked me!”

“You got into the 2 car. What’s the difference?” Chase really wanted to laugh in his face now. This was unbelievable….

“Come on man….”

“I got into you just like you got into Brad…” Except Brad wasn’t turned around backwards.

“Come on man…..”

“You know it was just hard racing.”

“You had my back wheels lifted up going into the corner!”

“Whatever…” Denny then turns on the heels, heading back to his car at the request of the NASCAR Official as Chase just shakes his head in disgust.

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

Chase rolls up to where he was told to stop on pit road, sitting back in the seat, shaking his head. He almost broke out laughing as he thought about the excuses and reasons that Denny tried to use for his part in what happened. The anger also hadn’t left him at all, either, along with the disappointment. It was another week that he had been mere inches of winning, and come up short again.

“I want you to be smart here,” he hears, glancing out the window to see Jimmie standing there. “Be smart, watch your words, and don’t lose your true self. Don’t stoop to his level because he’s an ass. You did a great job, and you will win.” He gives Jimmie a simple nod, used to receiving the odd tip of advice here and there.

He climbs out of the car, giving the couple of crew guys a quick hand-shake and nod as he turns around, crossing his arms. There was no way he was just letting this go and moving on as anger was certainly not leaving him no matter what he tried. There was also that sense of disbelief.

His eyes wandered over to where the TV cameras had stopped, getting Denny’s side of the coin first. He actually brought himself to laugh in hearing the amount of boos that were being let out by the crowd. You know you royally messed up when your own home track is mad at you…

He patiently stand there, set to give his take on the action, knowing it was going to be kept simple and to the point.

“My mom always said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. He’s not worth my time,” he tells NBC.

Sarina couldn’t help but smile off to the side at the comment, as her heart remained torn in pieces at what had transpired. It was taking every urge to stop herself from going over and kicking Denny’s ass.

After the interviews were done, she walked over and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, just holding him, as the crew joined her.

“Hey, if he wants to race that way, you know what to do next time,” Alan tells him. “I’m sure he’ll be fine when you lift his back wheels going into the corner at Texas.” Chase lets back a small smile, knowing what Alan was thinking.

However, that wasn’t his style. Revenge and anger and dirty driving were not morals that he had grown to know. Instead, it was focus and driving as hard as you could to put what happened in the rearview.

“Hey, I just wanted to say I hate what happened to you guys,” a new voice pops in from Denny’s crew chief Mike Wheeler. “That was bad…”

“Go tell your smartass driver that,” Sarina spits out, keeping her arms around Chase.

“Excuse me?” Chase then wraps an arm around her in return.

“You heard her,” he starts. “All Denny could do was give me 20 million excuses. Go…” He then turns around, facing away from Mike, but letting his eyes land on Sarina right away.

“I’m so sorry,” she simply says, pulling him close as she puts her head against his chest. “Denny is an asshole. You’ll get that win soon…”

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

“That was utterly insane!” Ryan comments from his seat in the plane.

Following the race, it was a short flight back to North Carolina from Virginia with Ryan, Chase and Sarina all boarding together. For all of them, it was great to just get out of Martinsville as soon as possible.

“But I got to say, I’m proud of you,” Ryan continues as Chase keeps his eyes focused ahead.

“Why is that?” He questions as Ryan smiles, reading over the various tweets on twitter.

“You made the world proud, too. You did a great job from your interview to standing up to him. That’s what you need to do. I’m impressed…” He then glances up from his phone. “Although, you should’ve punched him on behalf of the whole field. He freaking turned down across me and Kurt!”

“So why did you punch Kevin?” Sarina asks, referring to Ryan’s visit with Kevin Harvick. She had been scrolling through twitter herself before they left, and saw a clip of Ryan giving Kevin a small punch. “Well according to him, I brake-checked his ass off the corner earlier in the race and fucked him over at the end of the day. I proudly told him that I wasn’t doing that at all during the race, and it was all freaking Denny’s fault at the end. Needless to say, we disagreed and had a small punch fest.”

“Crazy….” Ryan didn’t care about his deal with Kevin, though. He knew that was going to be forgotten within days. On the other hand, that wouldn’t be the case with Denny….

“So what are you going to do about Denny there, Mr. Pilot?” Chase had been toying with a bunch of thoughts since the conclusion of the race. He wasn’t a dirty racer, but payback was certainly entering his mind big time for what had happened. He wouldn’t mind something happening at Texas….

“I don’t know,” Chase answers. “We’ll just have to wait and see….”

“How about we just forget about it for one night and have some fun?” Sarina suggests, knowing that she could use a good distraction after the chaos.

“Isn’t that why we’re going to Blaney’s epic Halloween party?”

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

Chase glances at himself in the mirror at Ryan’s house, shaking his head. How did he get himself into this mess wearing this costume? He had seen Ryan’s Woody costume and Jordan’s Buzz Lightyear costume and both felt more comfortable than this.

He had totally forgotten about the party, and had not gone costume shopping. So prior the weekend, he informed Ryan in hopes his best friend would help him out. Certainly, Ryan did as he had an extra costume and would allow Chase to borrow it. He didn’t expect it to be this, though.

He almost felt scandalous, a little ridiculous, and knew for sure there was too much skin showing below the waist. Feeling a little shy, he knew every person would probably be analyzing his package.

“Damn….” He hears, recognizing Sarina’s voice and smiling. “I know you bike a lot, but holy damn tone in those legs…” He had to laugh to himself, as he spun to face her. An immediate smile formed, liking her voice – Batgirl. They’d be Batgirl and Robin that night.

“You look just as sexy right now,” he answers back in response. The black leather of the outfit clang to every sweet dear curve on her body, with the skirt long enough to cover but short enough to tease everything below.

“As soon as I heard Ryan had a Robin costume for you, I got Samantha to run a small errand for me. I figured we could match.” She then walks over closer, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. “You make one amazing superhero, but damn, I didn’t expect you to show off as much….”

“Is it too much? I almost feel like chang-”

“No, it’s fine; it’s absolutely fine. Besides, everybody down there will be too caught up in the party to realize. Now, are you ready to go have some fun?”

“Absolutely…” He then takes her by the hand, leading her out of the room and to the stirs with a smile.

It was time to leave behind the Martinsville disappointment and frustration for a night…..

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Cabin Fears – Chapter 85: The Truth

“Mr. Elliott?” A doctor peaks his head into the room, catching all of their attention immediately.

“That’s me last time I checked,” Chase states with a small smile as he tries to relax, despite the pain he was feeling. The doctor enters, file in hand – which immediately is where all eyes lie right away.

“I have the results of all the tests that we ran for you. Now, I understand that Eric signed off on your file and such so I won’t touch that.” Chase was glad for that reason, as he wasn’t about to tackle that stuff with a stranger now. “The pain in your stomach is not related to what you were thinking, but rather stomach ulcers.”

“Oh shit…” Regan lets out, knowing what those were right away as he lays his head back. He could sympathize with the pain Chase was feeling there.

“Now, the ulcers are basically painful sores in the stomach lining,” the doctor continues. “Now, it’s my understanding you had surgery not long ago….” Chase lets out a sigh, not wanting to reflect back to that experience.

“Tears in the stomach lining resulting in stomach bleeding in July,” Dale states, not flinching one bit as his hand reached for his phone. It was almost to the point where Cindy and Bill deserved a call. “That came courtesy of a strong poison injected into him.”

“That would explain the severity marked in the file…” The doctor makes another note as Chase’s eyes follow the pen closely. “With the healing time, you were pretty much set from that point and looked to be home free. However, it did make them tender and susceptible to more issues in the near future. Were you given any warning?” Chase nods his head, remembering the advice from the doctor. “So right now, the stomach acid isn’t breaking down correctly – therefore bringing this issue to the forefront…”

“Lovely,” Chase muses out loud as he shakes his head. Of course this would happen on top of everything else.

“Now, the reason for that is simple – stress. Stress rarely causes an issue like this, but if you’re under a tremendous amount, it is possible. Given everything that’s going on psychological and in your life, I would see it easily part of your life.” Regan thought back to Eric’s words in making sure to accept the doctor’s advice carefully. Certainly cutting stress would be along those lines.

“So, what’s the next step?” Dale questions, his fingers still resting on his phone in his pocket.

“We’re going to issue you mild pain killers to help the pain, as well as Dexilant to help reduce the acid in your stomach,” the doctor explains. “Both taken three times a day should relieve what is causing your problem. Once that is done, the sores should heal accordingly – but the process will take two to three weeks minimum, up to three months. If they do not heal, then you know the alternative.” Chase rolls his eyes, not wanting to go back down the road of stomach surgery once again. That was even worse than being stabbed in the leg. “In the meantime, cutting down the stress in your life – whatever way you can, will help you tremendously. I suggest you try to work on that, okay?”

“Yeah,” Chase comments as he lets out a sigh. He understood the reasons and knew that it’d be a good idea. However, that was obviously easier said than done considering everything going through his mind, the nightmares, the flash moments, and Alyssa’s situation.

“You should also check in with your doctor in two weeks, 14 days, to make sure that things are healing accordingly. Other than that, I am going to let you go with the prescriptions in hand…”

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

After stopping by Regan’s house to let him get his stuff, the group immediately headed to the airport. Jimmie and William both met them there, concerned with how Chase was doing. Chase easily explained the situation regarding the ulcers, leaving out the details of the dream, as they got set to the board the plane. Although Chase was originally going to fly them out himself, Dale immediately put down that idea, ordering his pilot and plane to be ready for the group.

“So they’re letting you fly to Kentucky no problem?” Jimmie questions and Chase nods his head. “Well, just be careful and take care of yourself.”

“Hope you feel better soon,” William adds as he follows his teammate onto the plane, taking a seat beside him.

Chase then goes to his usual spot at the back of Dale’s plane, curling up immediately with pillow and blanket as they get set for takeoff. After leaving the hospital, he got the prescriptions filled, and had taken the first dosage. The pain killers were already working, taking the edge off.

“Are you okay?” Regan asks as if they’d been in the air for a bit with a glance over the seat at him. Chase glances up, nodding his head.

“Yea,” he replies quietly. “Hey, can we keep this between us, please? Everything that happened….” Regan hadn’t thought of doing anything else otherwise. He understood the sensitivity in what happened.

“You know the rule….” Dale then glances over at the pair, having his own theory.

“Actually, the stomach ulcers, tears and stress – we should tell your parents and Alyssa, at least,” he suggests. “That way they can keep an eye-out, too, for your own good. Alyssa is going to notice, anyway.” Chase couldn’t argue with that, as he wasn’t concerned with people knowing about that. It was the other part as he wasn’t willing to touch those emotions otherwise.

“That’s fine, I can do that,” he tells Dale. “But the other – can we just not talk about that? Can that be something only we three talk about together?” Dale could see the fear and edginess in his voice upon the confession, immediately. Glancing at Regan, it was all about comfort here….

“Absolutely. That’ll be our secret.”

“And no matter what, it’s going to be okay….” Regan adds, before focusing back forward.

With everything that had gone on, they all knew that Chase needed to catch up on his sleep – especially now the pain was subsiding. Beyond the pain, the emotions of the day’s confession with Eric, along with the craziness of how he was woken up and another round of confessions had drained every last bit of emotional strength he had with him, too.

Letting out a yawn, it wasn’t long before he was curled up and sleeping away on the flight.

“Are you okay?” Dale questions as he looks over at Regan.

“Yeah,” Regan replies. “How about you?” Dale looks back at Chase once again, letting out a sigh as he turns back to Regan. Every fear was tingling in knowing they’d used the code word.

“I’m alright. I’m just glad that he reached out to you, and you were there….” Regan nodded his head, but knew there was no need for anymore discussion. You never turned your back on your friends.

“I told him I’d always be there. That was a promise, Dale….” Dale knew that, remembering when it was originally spoken.

“I still remember when I first met him, and I also remember when he first came to drive for me. It’s crazy to think back to then. A sweet, endearing 18-year-old with the world at his feet. You couldn’t had found a nicer guy at that age, or polite, or mature. I remember the jokes and the shyness at times.” Dale takes a deep breath. “It’s crazy to think how much he’s grown over these years….”

“He’s certainly grown up and became even more amazing, but some things don’t change. He’s still got that kindness, and he’s still afraid to talk about things. But we’ll get there with time.” Dale believed in those words, even with the setback, because of the signs of strength that he had seen at times over the night. “Could you ever imagined that he’d be dating your daughter?” Dale then laughs.

“Never in a million years, but I wouldn’t have it any other way….”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 162: “It feels amazing!”

Saturday, October 29 – Martinsville Speedway

Following the slew of post-race interviews, they immediately went into the sea of photos that were necessary after a win. From full team photos, to individual photos, to a few of her and the boss by themselves. The entire time, Sarina couldn’t help but smile as she stood there in total disbelief.

Was this really happening?

“That’s everything we nee-” Andy starts, in relation to all the photos.

“Not quite,” Kyle cuts him off, as he motions for Chase to go up on stage with her. “Go on…”

“It wouldn’t be a complete collection without you getting a photo,” Sarina says as he walks up with her, standing beside her. The pair both smile, as the flashbulbs go off multiple times.

“I haven’t seen that smile leave your face since you got out of the truck,” Chase comments afterwards. She just glances back, smile still firmly planted there.

“It feels amazing!” She then snags a kiss, which results in some more photos being taken. “I can’t even describe it. I can’t believe it.” Chase then laughs as he pinches her arm. “Ouch!”

“Believe it, enjoy it, and savor it. You deserve this beyond words…” She then pulls him back close into a hug. “I’m so proud of you. I’ve told you that before, but I mean it. You fought for this, and deserve it…”

“Thank you for dealing with my rough moments, including before quali-”

“You don’t have to mention it. I get it…” He then kisses her lips once again.

“Hey, you both can celebrate later!” Kyle yells out. “We have media center business to attend to!” Sarina turns to face the boss, wrapping an arm around Chase.

“But I don’t want to leave my boo…” She whines as Chase just laughs.

“Actually, I think you should go tell the world how you kicked Matt Crafton’s ass,” Chase suggests as she just glances back with a smile.

“That was the icing on the cake, really. I mean, he’s a veteran. He’s been doing this for so long. To come out here and beat the guy whose a veteran, done this many times, supposed to be ultimate here – it’s just amazing.”

“Not to mention that your boss was quite happy after Christopher got spun…” Sarina rolls her eyes, still not believing that. She was actually looking forward to getting the chance to race Christopher for the win. “Go on; we can celebrate later….”

“You’re comi-” He shakes his head as he points towards pit road.

“Cup practice, reme-”

“Kyle is coming and he has to qualify, too. There’s enough time….” He didn’t want to leave her as he wanted to savor the moment, but he also didn’t want to be late for qualifying. However, a quick glance at the time and text to Morgan and sure enough, time was on his side.

It wasn’t long until he was standing in the back of the media center, watching as her and Kyle fielded questions about the race from the various media personnel in the room. He could only smile with pride, glad that everybody was seeing what he saw in her from the beginning.

For the most part, everything was going smoothly with the same usual questions that they always asked. What did it mean to you? How did you make the move? How did you know it’d stick? It seemed like it’d be a nice, smooth day in the media center, until a comment caught his attention.

“Based on your reaction post-race and how chummy you have been with a fellow driver – plus the sickness last week, one has to ask – are you pregnant?” A reporter asked, which immediately caused Sarina to break out laughing. Chase could only look on surprised from his location, shaking his head. Of course….

“Are you seriously asking me that right now?” She questions, which fit the surprised glance from Kyle.

“Well, based on what we’ve seen-”

“I can assure you that I am not pregnant.” She bit her tongue as soon as the words escaped, though, remembering that night – and smile returning once again. However, she knew that couldn’t had resulted in something because they were careful, right? Besides, she had her period last week.

“I really don’t even think that’s a question that should be asked here,” Marcus Richmond comments as he looks between Sarina and Kyle. Kyle could only shake his head, though found himself giving both Sarina and Chase double takes. It wasn’t a bad theory….

“It’s honestly none of his business to ask that,” Kyle adds, knowing even if it was a good theory, it had no business being discussed in this moment. “Kerry?”

“It seems you guys are trying to divert the topic immediately…” The report continues on, which catches Sarina’s attention. Was this seriously happening right now?

“I have nothing to hide as I stated, I am not pregnant,” she repeats once again, beginning to grow frustrated. She wanted to focus on the key today – winning. “Would you be damn well satisfied if I placed a stick in your hand with a big negative on it?” Kyle was caught off-guard by her comment, but understood her frustration as he placed his hand on top of hers.

“Kerry….” Kyle states once again, hoping this would be a situation that NASCAR would handle swiftly.

“Sir, I am going to have to ask you to leave, please,” Kerry Tharp requests, following Kyle’s lead.

“Hypothetically, let’s say that you do get pregnant,” the reporter continues despite the pleas. “Is there a plan in place? Have you discussed the possibility with Chase, your team?” Sarina immediately rolls her eyes, as Chase could only shake his head. It was taking everything he had to not say something himself right now as he kept his own eyes locked on Kyle.

“Am I hearing these questions correct?” Marcus questions as Kyle looks over at Kerry once again. He could feel the frustration boiling off of Sarina, and the resulting piercing eye glare from Chase.

“Kerry….” Kyle states once again.

“Sir, I am going to ask you to leave once again,” Kerry repeats. “If you do not leave, we’ll have security remove you.” It did not take long for the request to be followed accordingly, thankfully to all in the room. “I apologize for that out of line questioning.” Sarina takes a deep breath, knowing that one stupid reporter didn’t matter at that time. This was her moment, her time to celebrate, her victory. There was no way she was letting him spoil it…

“It’s not your fault,” she states. “For the record – that is personal, and will be kept between those who need to know. If I am ever pregnant, I’m sure you’ll find out in the proper time.” Kyle felt a nerve in those words, once again glancing between the pair, hoping he wouldn’t be getting that news anytime soon. While he wanted to see them have a great future together, he wanted to see Sarina reach her full potential with a championship, which he saw happening next season.

“Now, can we get back to talking about how awesome this win is?” Marcus questions, trying to get things back on track. “I mean, I want to know everybody’s reaction to that final restart. She was absolutely amazing!”

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

They walk into the bedsroom together, flopping back on the bed together as Chase rolls over on his stomach, eyes locked on her.

“You still look like you’re on cloud 9….” He comments as she laughs, glancing over with a big smile.

“I can’t believe it still,” she tells him. “I’m in total disbelief. It just doesn’t feel real. It feels like a dream. I know I climbed the fence – and I know I had a moment there….” He chuckles as he had caught full glimpse of that.

“First win, being overwhelmed – it’s understandable….” She knew that, but of course there were some fans that had their share of comments, along with the reporter.

“And yes, we took all the photos and all the interviews – but it just doesn’t feel real. I mean, did I actually pass Matt Crafton on the outside on a late race restart with 10 laps to go to win?” He laughs, nodding his head. “I, a rookie driver, passed a series champion on the outside at Martinsville. You’re not supposed to pass on the outside here!”

“Well, you made it work – and that’s because you’re absolutely amazing.” He then leans in and kisses her lips. “Do I need to hold you and pinch you and tell you 100 times over for you to realize that this is actually happening?” She laughs and shakes her head.

“You know, I feel almost like a 100 times lighter today now. I feel like the world is off my back. I don’t have to sit there and tell people anymore. I don’t need to sit and hear people whine, moan, and make excuses. There are no longer those that say I’m just here because I’m a pretty face or dating you. There are no more comments about how I don’t deserve this opportunity, or how my hard work is purely worthless. It’s like the weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can be free almost…” Chase smiles as it was actually absolutely amazing to hear those words from her, considering the amount of relentless pressure she put on herself on a weekly basis. It was nice to see her letting go now.

“Kyle wouldn’t hire you for a simple reason because you’re pretty or because of me. He hires drivers that are talented, and can be molded into stars one day. Sweetheart, that’s yo-”

“I know that now. I believe in those words. But I will admit, there were times this year where I questioned whether I belonged here. Was this the right time for me to be here? Now, I don’t even know what to say…”

“Then don’t say a word….” He then curls up closer to her, kissing her lips lightly.

“Why is that?” He looks at her with a smile, his hand finding it’s his way to the zipper on her firesuit. “What do you have in mind, Mr. Elliott?”

“We need to celebrate your win, Ms. Ott…” He then gets up, moving so he was over top of her, kissing her lips once again as he toys with the zipper.

“Oh really?” Her fingers immediately find the way to his zipper, as they both begin to pull each other’s suits off.

“Oh yeah. I need to spoil you…” She then grins as they carefully slip each other’s firesuits off, tossing them aside, before he reaches for her undershirt.

“I wouldn’t mind that, either…”  He then grins as he keeps his brown chocolate eyes locked on her blue eyes.

“Good, because you’re not going anywhere…” She then grins, putting her arms up above her head as she relaxes on the bed.

“I’m not fighting for your offer, am I?” He then laughs as she slips off her undershirt.

“Then what are you waiting for?” She then points towards him. “Me?”

“You said you were going to spoil me because to the winner goes the spoils, right?” He laughs as a simple grin forms on his face. “As long as we don’t give Kyle a surpris-”

“Did you see the look that he gave me when the reporter asked that question?” She laughs, nodding her head. She had watched the glances that Kyle was giving them both carefully then. “For that reason, you’ll be glad that some important shopping was done this week…” He then reaches over to his nightstand, slipping the drawer open, reaching his hand in a box, throwing a small package on to the bed.

“I’m glad you did because I don’t want to see my boyfriend dead before year’s end…” She then gives his boxers a tug, bringing him back to her. “Now, where were we?”

“I was about to spoil you…”

**********

Sunday, October 30

The joy of victory didn’t fade on Sarina the next day, either, as the smile remained on her face throughout the entire morning as she spent time at the Toyota Racing display answering questions, and signing autographs.

It didn’t fade when she made her way out to pit road before the Cup race, accepting an array of congratulations from various drivers and crew members along the way. She politely accepted each of them, still in disbelief at times.

As she stood there holding Chase’s hand during the national anthem, her focus immediately shifted away from her own joy to the task at hand that day for him. The goal was to have a solid day, no mistakes, and continue to lock down the top-fives to work towards punching their ticket to Homestead. She knew the day came with pressure and unease, as Chase was the first to say that Martinsville wasn’t his best track. While he had finished well there in the spring, he still hadn’t grown comfortable in finding the line he wanted to run there. She almost chuckled to herself on the thought as he had qualified third earlier that morning. Now it was just about turning that starting spot into a great day.

“Good luck,” she tells him, kissing his lips. “Be safe. I love you.”

She then walks away as he climbs in the car, making her way over to the 24 pit box. She climbs the familiar steps, taking her usual spot behind Alan Gustafson, flashing a quick smile to Josh and Jordan.

While Chase would insist that Martinsville wasn’t his best track, that didn’t show at all through the first half of the race as he kept himself in the top-five, battling for positions, looking as comfortable as the others around him. It especially didn’t show as he challenged for the lead, taking the top spot for the first time that day from Brad Keselowski on Lap 385.

“Watch the cross over,” she hears Eddie D’Hondt over the radio, but Brad’s attempt to get back by was to no avail. “Nice work, nice and smooth.”

Glancing down, she couldn’t even fathom the amazement and joy that would be if everything played out accordingly today. Wouldn’t it be ironic if they both got their first wins the same weekend?

Taking a deep breath, she had to get the thought of her mind. There was still a long way to go as plenty could happen in 115 laps.

“You’re doing a great job out there,” Eddie’s words fill her ears once again, and he spoke the truth as Chase began to build a gap between him and Brad. “Just keeping show a little more discipline. That diamond looks good there….”

She kept her eyes locked on the track, trying to ignore the thoughts of what could happen knowing that’d just cause nerves and knowing how crazy things could go. However, her heart couldn’t help but wonder as the gap continued to grow more and more.

Then it happened……

Caught right in the midst of lap traffic with 63 laps to go, Chase tried to make a move to get by one of the many cars that he was working his way through. However, a little contact, and you could see a bit of smoke off of the fender immediately.

“Got a left rear tire rub here,” Eddie reports back to the crew as Sarina feels her heart sink immediately. If the tire blew out or they had to pit under green, that’d certainly end all hopes….

“Try to adjust your track bar up and down to see if it’ll clear up a bit,” Alan suggests and Sarina crosses her fingers, hoping that Chase could do something to survive here.

The smoke would soon fade – causing a mix of concerns. That could be good as the rub may have gone away, but that could be bad as next thing they may end up with a punctured tire and a big mess.

She was then caught off-guard another way when the caution flew with 43 laps to go for Carl Long spinning. She hated to see the field bunched up, but she knew the caution was the perfect opportunity. Now they could fix the fender…

Her eyes stay locked on pit road, focused down below the pit box as the crew goes to work immediately. She watches the tires go on and off, fuel dumped into the tank, along with a careful tug on the left rear quarter panel to pull it back out. She watches him peel out as soon as the work is done, lifting her fist in the air immediately as she watches him lead the field off pit road.

Taking a deep breath, her leg beginning to tap on the pit box, she knew the nerves were going to pick up from here on out.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 161: Concerns….

Friday, October 27 – Martinsville Speedway

Christopher Bell kept a keen eye on his teammates – there were a slew of them this week as Kyle Busch decided to enter four trucks, giving each of the kid’s a shot at glory. It was either going to work out really well, or really ugly as he knew they all wanted to win badly.

“Where’s Sarina?” Harrison Burton asks, catching Christopher’s attention. He points to the trailer, where she stood on top watching the Cup practice session. Harrison went to leave the group, possibly go get her, when Christopher grabbed his arm.

“Just leave her,” Christopher instructs as he lets out a sigh. “She’s watching her boyfriend.” Harrison figured that, but knew that they should have all of them together for a practice debrief. The session had gone better than expected, with all four trucks in the top-10, including both Christopher and Harrison in the top-five.

“And that’s an excuse for missing our meeting?” Christopher lets out a sigh, all ready wanting to strangle his teammates.

“No, but there’s other reasons. There’s other stuff going on that you guys don’t understand. She’s been quiet and that’s not like her around me. So I think it’s best that we give her some space.” Harrsion and Todd both glanced to where she was as Todd crossed his arms.

“What if we go tease her and loosen her up a bit?” Todd suggests as Christopher could only let out another sigh. “Or not. Look, I think we all have great trucks for tomorrow and I think it’s going to be a great day.”

“Just both of you just be smart about it. It’s not a long race – but it’s not super short, either. You have time to make moves so be patient.”

The group continued to share words through the rest of the Cup practice, with Christopher’s eyes leaving the fold at times as he glanced up at the hauler to see whether her demeanor had changed.

Once their discussion was over, the group separated and Christopher made his way down through the Cup stalls. He knew he shouldn’t be concerned – maybe he was over reacting, maybe it was none of his business – but he couldn’t help but worry about his teammate.

He stands by the No. 24 garage stall, watching as Chase breaks down the session with Alan and Josh. He waited until the group separated.

He could see the serious look on Chase’s face – wondering if the practice had gone according to plan. Chase had shown speed, but Christopher also knew of his struggles at the paperclip. Maybe this was a bad time…

Against his own judgment, though, he made his way up through the stall over to the driver in question.

“Hey,” Christopher says, catching Chase’s attention out of his daze.

“Hey,” Chase simply replies, caught off guard a bit to see Christopher standing there. His mind immediately wandered to the possibilities about Sarina. “Is everything okay?”

“Don’t worry, your girl is fine. She was actually on top of the KBM hauler watching your practice.” Chase smiles, not surprised as that was her normal spot if she wasn’t on top of the NAPA hauler. “Look, I don’t want to come across at the wrong time or interrupt something important, but I have to ask – is everything okay?” Chase crosses his arms, caught off-guard by the question.

“Why are you asking?” Christopher takes a deep breath, hoping his observations weren’t off.

“Sarina just seems quieter than normal, almost in a moody state at times – if you don’t mind me saying. I’m just concerned.” Chase was used to Christopher being concerned, and sometimes knew to accuse of overstepping boundaries. This weekend, though, he knew the thoughts were valid via conversations prior to arriving at the track.

“She hasn’t won a race this year and she hasn’t run as well as she thought. Plus, there’s the pressure to succeed because everybody wins in KBM equipment. It’s eating at her some as she and I talked about that this week. Now combined with the fact we’re at a short track where she’s expected to do well, and knows that she could win, she’s really entering this serious focused mode, set for nothing less than success. You understand where she’s coming from, right?” Christopher nods his head, remembering a couple moments like that of his own last year.

“Did you give her the common it’s okay for rookies to struggle, she’s done a great job, and to just have fun with it because if it’s meant to be it’ll happen?” Chase smiles, having said those exact things.

“But for her, combine that with the other crap. She can’t get her mind off the lack of sentence for Bethany, or literally nothing at all for Allison. It also doesn’t help that the process for a restraining order is a little ridiculous. Then on top of that, we don’t know where things stand with her brother. How long will be behind bars? Will he be found guilty of poisoning me and Ryan? She’s got a lot on her mind.” Christopher was glad that his observations weren’t too far off.

“I just gave her some space, let her think and do her own thing. I hope that’s right…” Chase nods his head. There wasn’t much else you could do in Christopher’s shoes.

“Yeah, that’s all you can do. I’m trying my hardest to give her advice, as well as Marcus and Kyle. We’ve all agreed that we just need to take it day by day, step by step, and try to make this weekend fun.” Christopher glances at the speed chart, shedding a smile as he sees Kyle at the top of the charts.

“You’re not too bad….” Chase glances behind him, seeing that he finished the practice in the top-five.

“Anybody can knock off one quick lap around this place. It’s all about getting that rhythm to be there all race long.” Christopher puts a hand on Chase’s shoulder, catching him off-guard.

“You will figure it out, and as much as I love my boss – I do hope that you get a win soon. Good luck.” Christopher then turns on his heels, leaving the stall as Chase lets out a sigh.

Crossing his fingers, he knew both he and Sarina needed a good weekend to turn things around.

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

Saturday, October 28

Chase rubs Sarina’s shoulders as they stand on pit road, waiting for the truck qualifying session to begin. It was quiet day for Chase as there was a practice scheduled later on, but time trials weren’t until Sunday. With that in mind, his number one focus was going to be her.

“Are you okay?” He questions and she nods her head. “Are you sure?” She then glances over her shoulder at him.

“You’re being extra caring, as well as Marcus and Kyle,” she starts. “Is this the way you’re going to be the rest of the year because of Dega?” Chase lets out a sigh as he stops rubbing her shoulders, turning her around to face him directly.

“This has nothing to do with tha-”

“Then why are you guys all being overbearing?” Chase takes a deep breath, trying to find the words.

“We’re concerned about you, okay? Everybody can see that you’re not in your perfect happy place, and we get it. We’re all racers so we get the pressure, the focus, and everything else you’re thinking about. I also understand your thoughts about your brother, Bethany, Allison, because those match mine. Because we care, we’re looking out for you.” She then rolls her eyes as she looks back towards the track.

“Well, I’d prefer if you just leave it alone, please. I’d like to focus this weekend, okay?” He nods his head, accepting.

“That’s fine.” He then grabs her hand, catching her attention. “But know that I love you, I care about you, and I’d do anything for you. If you need someone to vent to, or a shoulder to cry on – anything, just let me know. Stop running…” Her eyes freeze immediately as she catches the meaning behind those words, glancing down at their fingers interlocked together.

“Since I was 13, the only person I could depend on was myself – five years where I could not trust a single person in my life. It’s hard at times to realize that I can do that now. It’s hard to open up, to tell you, to explain.” She looks up into his eyes. “I love you, too, and I care so much about you. That’s why I want to do everything right for us. But sometimes, how do you open that door when it’s been shut for so long?”

“You believe, you trust, and you put faith in the person on the other side. I’ve never let you down, ever, and I don’t ever plan too. You need to believe that, no matter what…” She nods her head, accepting. She then takes a deep breath, trying to clear her mind as she leans in for a kiss. “Go get ‘em!”

“That’s the plan….” She then walks away as he stands there, running his hands through his short hair.

“I feel like we’re going in circles sometimes….” But he also knew the reason for it, respected that, understood that, and was willing to be patient.

They had made so much progress over the past two years that he couldn’t ignore, giving him fuel and belief for the future. They had gone from her not willing to open her heart at all, to being able to fully open up at times with love knowing no boundaries.

This minor moment was simply because of everything going on, which he understood that being mentally taxing – he found himself lost in the thoughts at times, too. He knew once they got through what was ahead, and things being able to stable out, everything else would fall into place too without anymore worries.

For now, his eyes focused on the track as he watched her lay down two impressive qualifying runs, setting herself up to start fifth later on that day.

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

Chase sat on the pit box, watching the action around the paperclip closely. It had been an exciting race so far, as Sarina had kept herself up in the top five throughout the first stage, and was doing so as the laps closed down in the second. He watches as the checkered flag flies, seeing her cross the line in third once again.

So far, so good….

Pulling off pit road in fourth, she kept herself right up there, immediately moving into third behind Christopher Bell and Matt Crafton. His eyes were so focused on her No. 18 Toyota Tundra, that he was surprised when he heard the curse words begin to fly in constant fashion out of Kyle’s mouth. An immediate glance towards the corner told him why, though, as he saw the No. 4 truck of Bell turned around backwards.

“Would you believe that Matt says that bullshit was unintentional?” Kyle questions out loud as Chase shakes his head. He then watched the replay on the big screen, even more surprised. Matt basically just drove in there, spinning Christopher around. “Unintentional – yeah right. Meanwhile, your crew chief had just told you to pick him apart. That just goes over nicely….”

“Bell has time – he will get back up there,” Chase offers, not knowing what much else to say as Kyle put his headset back on. “Well, this is interesting….”

“Don’t let a truck struggling to make a pass in front of you get you bogged down in return,” Kyle then advises Sarina over the radio. Chase had been listening all day, intrigued by the advice he was giving, also eating some of it up himself. Kyle knew his way around Martinsville, and anyway he could be better he was going to use it. “And I don’t care what you do with the 88 (Matt) here. You can wreck the shit out of him.”

“Oh lawdy….” Chase knew that Kyle was venting frustration, but he also knew that wasn’t necessary here on the radio.

There was still over 70 laps left. Sarina just needed to be smart here restarting second, keep herself in position, and do her thing – and maybe it’d come together. But filling her head with other unnecessary banter wasn’t going to help things.

Chase’s eyes were locked on the paperclip over the next several laps, watching as the laps continued to tick down with Matt Crafton leading over Sarina easily. He watched as the gap didn’t seem to close, despite Sarina locking down solid laps, one after the other, after the other.

With 15 laps to go, the game changed as a caution flew for a spun truck near the back of the pack. Chase ran his hands over his face, taking a deep breath, knowing shit was about to crazy here.

“Be careful about pinching him because he’s racing for a championship, ” Kyle advises Sarina about Matt. “He’ll probably wreck you…” Chase could understand where Kyle was coming from. After seeing Matt’s aggressive style against Christopher earlier and everybody knowing that a win here locked you into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, everybody was willing to do whatever it took to make it happen.

His eyes are immediately locked on the frontstretch, watching the green flag fly with 10 laps to go. Crossing his fingers, he watches Matt and Sarina dive into turn one. She gives him room, running her line, hitting the gas up off the corner to stay even with him down the backstretch. He stand up on the pit box, watching them go around the corner side-by-side, again Sarina picking up the gas, this time getting the run off.

With nine to go, he watched as the No. 18 truck scurried ahead, getting clear of Crafton, before slipping down in front of him through the next set of corners.

Chase could feel his stomach flip flopping, butterflies swirling. His fingers instantly crossed themselves, followed by toes looking to do the same. He found himself nervous to watch, afraid of a late caution or Matt coming back, but wanting to watch as this was Martinsville – everybody liked watching a good short track race.

Each time she passed by start-finish, he clicked off another lap in his head, just wanting it to be over. 2 to go….white flag…..

As she came around with the black and white flag flying, it was almost disbelief came over him as he watched her drive underneath it first. It was over….

“WOOOHOOOO!” She lets out the biggest scream over the radio immediately as Chase pumps a fist in the air. He and Kyle immediately catch each other, sharing a hug before they both pat Marcus on the shoulders.

“Way to go!” Marcus says over the radio in response.

“Spectacular driving at the end!” Kyle adds. The group hurries down the steps, eyes focused on the frontstretch as the No. 18 truck comes around. “Burn ‘em down….”

They watch as the epic burnout as they make their way across pit road, sharing high-fives with various crew members along the way. Chase beams in total glory as he watches her come to a stop, climb out, dancing on the back of the truck, fist pumping in the air. She then jumps off, climbing the fence, as the crew hurries to join her.

“You’re coming too!” Kyle lets out as he motions for Chase to hop the wall with him. Chase couldn’t deny being happy for her as he joined the fray, pausing to stand on top of the wall and take a couple photos on his phone himself.

Sarina hops off the fence, feeling a bit of vomit rise, immediately bending over and letting it come up, falling into the cracks of the safer barrier. She feels a pair of hands on her shoulders, half-expecting them to be Chase, but is caught off-guard when it’s Kyle.

“Are you okay?” He questions as she looks back, smile still firmly planted on her face.

“Just got a little over excited, overwhelmed,” she answers as she wipes her mouth off. “I can’t believe this….”

“Believe it, embrace it, and enjoy it. You’re a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race winner. You get to take home a clock!” She immediately grins even more, pulling Kyle into a tight hug.

“Thank you for the opportunity!”

After letting herself calm a bit more, she moves the truck to the official victory lane location on the frontstretch before the stage, climbing out once again with her arms up in the air. She didn’t care how many times she had to do this – she would do it all night if she needed to.

She then hops off the truck and feels a very familiar set of arms immediately wrap around her from behind, kissing her lips immediately.

“I’m so proud of you!!” Chase lets out as he spins her around. “You did an absolutely amazing job. That was spectacular. I don’t know you made that move on the outside on the restart, but wow. You’re amazing!” She just smiles back in return, still in disbelief, a couple tears trickling down the cheeks in the process.

“Thank you for believing in me,” she tells him. “Thank you for the chance with your late model team, and thank you for believing in me. Thank you for being there, giving advice, letting me lean on you, and for being you. I love you so much….” She then kisses his lips one more time, before turning around, set to face the world with her comments. “Finally!!”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 160: The Photoshoot

Wednesday, October 18

Chase emerges from the change room, smoothing the suit out as he flashes a quick smile to Morgan.

He would’ve preferred to be at the shop. He would’ve preferred to be biking, hanging out. He could’ve even spent some time hanging out with Sarina. Instead, it was another day of work for the sponsors – this time, being a photoshoot for Hooters.

“Okay, so let’s get this started,” one of the many sponsor representatives says as he comes down the hall. “Chase, this is the girl that you will be taking the photos with…”

Chase glances over his shoulder, his breath catching in his throat immediately. There was no mistaking that face anywhere as it was one to never, ever forget no matter what happened moving forward. Sure, she had changed some of her appearance since their last meeting – but it was her without a shadow of a doubt.

Was this really happening?

“Alison?” He finally finds her voice, as she glances up to finally meet his eyes.

“Chase?” She asks, puzzled as ever, as Chase felt confusion wash over him immediately. Maybe that was restraining order wasn’t looking too shabby now….

“What the…..?” She puts her hands up immediately, knowing that his thoughts were probably flying a hundred miles an hour as they stood there frozen.

“This is total coincidence….” Morgan then glances up from her phone, seeing the tension immediately.

“Do you know her?” Morgan questions, and Chase looks at her with a total face of surprise. How could Morgan not recognize her? Didn’t she remember the chaos endured?

“Yeah….” He states, as if to try and implicate that it should be obvious.

“Well?” Chase couldn’t believe he was having to explain this outloud.

“She’s the one that went after me at Indianapolis….” Morgan’s face turns serious immediately, as she takes another glance at Allison once again. The hair or contacts didn’t fool her anymore as she found the recognizable facial features.

“Oh hell no, there is no way this is getting done…” Allison then glances at her, surprised. Who was this person to say what happened in Chase’s life? Wasn’t that the duty of Chase himself? Besides, she looked nothing like Sarina. Had something happened? Did Bethany and Chris finally get their wish.

“Who are you? His assistant or something?” Morgan then looks at the brunette in immediate surprise from her tone. She knew there was no chance around it – she needed to be thrown out of there as soon as possible.

“I am his media and public relations representative,” Morgan states firmly as she crosses her arms. “I am supposed to handle everything when it comes to those departments to protect him, and our marketing partners.”

“She’s also there so I don’t have to shift through pointless requests,” Chase adds, though Morgan shoots him a glare right afterwards. She knew she needed to get this handled right away. there was no way that she could let this go any further, or she might as well kiss her job goodbye immediately.

“Now, where is the boss so we can get this cancelled?” Chase was still caught off-guard by seeing her standing there, remembering her words in the court room. Didn’t everything that happened in Las Vegas ruin a chance of this ever happening?

“I thought you lost your role with Hooters totally. You also said you didn’t mean what happened. Why are you here?” Morgan rolled her eyes, wishing Chase wouldn’t even give her the time of a day.

“Chase, I can explain…” Allison starts, followed by taking a deep breath. “I had no idea that you would be here. And yes, I lost the pageant but they keep every  girl’s name on file. They liked my modeling work so they called and asked me if I do a photoshoot. They didn’t explain the details at all. I can give you copies of all the paperwork for proo-

“I’d like to see those, plea-” Morgan interrupts, not believing a single drip of her story. She knew how stalkers worked and wasn’t about to let this go through at all.

“Morgan….” Chase states, caught off-guard by Morgan’s tone as she looks over at him.

“Liability, Chase. I have to per the terms of my contract with Rick.” Chase really didn’t know her contract, but figured that may be along the lines. Still, he wanted to at least hear what Allison had to say.

“Listen, I’ll let you see them, no problem,” Allison immediately offers. “They’re my change room in my bag actually. But anyways, I took the job. I’m short cash, and I need money, so I took the job. I had no idea you were involved. If I knew, I would’ve said no for obvious reasons. I never wanted to see you again, cause anymore problems, violate any conditions  from the trial…. I’ll go tell John and he can get one of his other girls.”

Chase knew that would solve all the differences of opinion here, but he also knew how that’d go over. John would have two million questions, they’d need to spend time explaining, and then it’d create tension moving forward.

He also remembered her statement from the court room, her regrets, the fact that she never meant to do it. What if she truly meant that? He had gotten to know how insane Chris and Bethany could be.

Besides, he had a date planned that night with Sarina and knew any delays here would cause him to be late. While he knew that she’d forgive him, he didn’t want it to come to that.

What was the harm in taking a couple photos together for promotional reasons?

“No, it’s fine,” Chase speaks, catching both Morgan and Allison off-guard. “We can do this.” Morgan’s shocked expression lands directly on Chase, arms still firmly crossed. She had expected Chase to throw Allison out after everything.

“What?” She questions as Chase takes a deep breath.

“It’s going to take forever for them to find someone else right now at this moment. Let’s just do the photos, and get it over with. I want to get back home.” Morgan glances around, not believing this. Was this really happening?

“Can we talk alone?” Chase rolls his eyes, knowing that it was a waste of time.

“Of course,” Allison answers, before Chase can say anything. “I’ll go get you the papers…” Allison then leaves, as Morgan locks her eyes on Chase in the hallway.

“Chase, I am so sorry,” Morgan immediately begins. “I should’ve checked into these conditions and everything. I should’ve asked about who they were making you pose with. I shou-”

“It’s fine, Morgan,” Chase cuts her off immediately. Why were they having this discussion? “It’s not your fault.”

“No, it is! I’m paid by Hendrick Motorsports to do your public relations, media relations, and damn well security through that. I should’ve been on the ball knowing that sleezeball was walking around. I mean, I didn’t even recognize her and I was sitting in the damn court room with you! I should’ve done a background check!” Chase could see that she was beating herself, perhaps worried that she’d be fired in a matter of days. However, Chase didn’t see it that way. These slip-ups were possible, and he was willing to give Morgan the benefit of the doubt, for now.

“Look, you do a great job. We’ll just get these photos over with, and then we can talk to them, okay? If we try and hold this over, it may take hours and that messes up schedule and I want to get home. Can we just go forward, please?” Morgan hated the thought of moving forward, but felt obligated to listen to him.

“Sure….” Chase smiles a little, as he places a hand on her shoulder.

“And Morgan, please lay off a little….” She gives him a ‘really’ glance.

“I’m just doing my job, Chase.” They both watch as Allison walks over, handing a couple pieces of paper over to Morgan.

“Here are those papers. I’m sorry once again….” Allison says as her eyes find their way to Chase.

“Thank you,” Morgan replies, as she begin to look them over.

“Are we ready?” The representative looks down the hall, having grown tired waiting.

“If you are?” Allison asks, eyes locked on Chase. Why had she screwed things up so badly?

“Let’s get this over with, please….” Chase simply states, before following her to where they needed to be.

The representative got the pair to stand back-to-back, her flowing hair brushing his shoulder, eyes locked forward. The shutter closed a couple times, with flashbulbs around them

“Chase, relax a little man,” the camera man requests. “Let’s try and make these look natural….”

Chase takes a deep breath, trying to follow suit with the request, though he couldn’t help but feel the nerves Morgan previously warned of creeping in. He wasn’t sure about her story in the court room now…

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

Friday, October 20 – Kansas Speedway

Sarina makes her way down off of the 24 hauler, making her way across the garage, signing a couple autographs for some fans that recognized her. She flashes a couple smiles for some photos, too, knowing her destination in mind.

“Don’t you ever spend a weekend away from the track?” She hears a familiar voice, seeing Kyle immediately as they cross paths with him headed to the 18 hauler.

“Once upon a time, there was a guy who rarely spent time away from the track, too,” she reminds him of his younger self as he just chuckles. “You know why I’m here…”

“It doesn’t surprise me one bit that you’re here supporting him, actually. Just make sure you’re having and kicking it loose. This is your last break before the end of the season.” She nods her head, accepting. She was actually excited for the next four weeks as they were going to be four really good tracks, hopefully producing a win or two.

“Of course, boss. Any other advice for the day or am I escaping your butt chewing?” He then glances back surprised, as he looks back towards the garage.

“Go cheer up your man….” She then crosses her arms.

“How about you share those secrets that make you so fast?” He then laughs right away. She was good…

“Not happening, but good try….” They then separate as she walks into the garage stall, waiting back patiently as she sees Chase standing here debriefing with Alan and Josh. It had been a decent qualifying run as he would start Sunday’s race in 15th.

Taking a deep breath, she just quietly asked for a nice, clean, quiet race day come Sunday.

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

Saturday, October 21 – Indiana

“This is ridiculous!” Chase lets out as they climb out of the car, bound for the familiar court room once again. “I thought we told them that we didn’t want to do these things on race weekends?”

“The judge is trying to expedite the process,” Sarina comments as she wraps an arm around his shoulders. She understood and sympathized with his frustration. He had finished practice that day all the way back in 22nd, and now ad to fly from Kansas to Indiana just to see Bethany. She had suggested that she just go herself, not wanting to add more to his day and also giving him time to talk with Alan, but he wouldn’t allow that to happen.

“The judge is also an asshole…” Sarina nodded her head as they walked inside, taking their familiar seat.

They just hoped that the process went as quick as possible. Thankfully, they were just there to hear how long she would spend behind bars, hoping that it was for a long time.

“Ms. Bethany Adams, I would like to throw you away for a long time given what you’ve done – but I can only do as the law allows,” the judge begins. “You pled guilty to coercion against Ms. Allison Reynolds. Coercion in the form of a Class C felony because it involves threatening with a deadly weapon gives you up to eight years in prison – which you’re receiving completely as words cannot describe the level of actions you caused Ms. Reynolds to follow suit with by your actions. The level of fear experienced to the amount of people involved – it’s unfathomable.

“You also pled guilty to poisoning Mr. Elliott through coercion since you put the method in motion, while supplying the vile that was injected into his system. That’s a class C felony of coercion, equaling another eight years. On top of that, a charge of poisoning at a degree to where life was without reasonably a doubt threatened based on medical record findings – actually, attempted murder is more like it for Mr. Elliott was on the verge there for a period of time. That right there brings you another 10 to 15 years – which I am placing 15 years, once again.

“Therefore, if I was to add everything together, you will be spending a total of 31 years behind bars for your actions against Mr. Elliott and Ms. Reynolds. You will also have no chance at parole for you showed no remorse for your behavior during the court proceedings. Court adjourned!”

Satisfied with the results and how quickly the events took place, Chase and Sarina immediately make their way outside, taking the back door to escape the media field of questions that surrounded the main gates.

“Feel better now?” Chase questions as he rubs her shoulders.

“I’d feel if she was dead and I had no chance of seeing her face again,” she answers as Chase lets out a sigh. He could sympathize with her feelings as they climbed in the car together.

“Both of us would feel better. But hey, 31 years behind bars isn’t too sha-”

“You will be 52 and I will be 51 when she gets out. We’re both easily able to be found, Chase. Do you not realize we’re never going to get away from this?” Chase runs his hands across the steering wheel, finding patience in her words despite his own frustrations. That thought wasn’t lost on them.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. For all we know, seeing how she’s unruthless, she could get herself in trouble in prison to earn more years or get killed. We don’t know what the future holds. All we can do is focus on each day ahead, and put that out of mind. When she does get out later on, if she does, we will handle it. We will get the right papers and details put together.” She wanted to firmly believe in his words as she nodded her head. “And I’ve put in for that restraining order against Allison.”

“Really?” He nods his head. The more he moved away from Wednesday, the more nervous he felt about the whole ‘random coincidence’ meeting.

“I don’t want to take any chances. I know she felt, and I know she says she didn’t mean it – but what if?”

***********

Sunday, October 22 – Kansas Speedway

“Nice job!” Alan gives him a high-five post-race following a fourth-place finish. “You did a good job sticking with it all day.” Chase smiles, as he was certainly proud of the effort.

They hadn’t started out as strong as they wanted, fighting the balance of the car from start to finish. However, they kept working at it, getting it a touch better, and found their way to the front in the late stages using a bit of driving know-how and strategy. It wasn’t the day they may have envisioned, but it was enough as they were now off to the Round of 8.

“We just got to keep working at it….” Chase tells him and Alan nods his head in agreement.

“Let’s just go survive next week at Martinsville, and go from there, okay?”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 159: Alabama 500

Sunday October 15 – Talladega Superspeedway

Sarina let out a sigh as she relaxed on the couch, flipping through a random magazine. She didn’t even know why she was awake that early, or still in the motorcoach. However, that’s where she was while Chase was off doing a series of appearances for the sponsors.

She flipped through her latest book of choice – just because it was the next in the stack, glancing over the pages without paying much attention. Though as a page came across her view, she froze immediately. It was an advertisement about NASCAR Champion’s Week festivities coming up next month – no surprise, really. However, the date caught her off-guard.

“November 30? That don’t make sense,” she comments to herself as she grabs her phone. The Cup Series banquet was always on a Saturday and she was certain that date was December 2, having made a note already in her phone due to Snowball Derby qualifying. Double checking the date, she hadn’t gone wrong. “Maybe they made an error…..”

She then opens up Google, typing in “NASCAR Cup Series Banquet 2017” in hopes of finding some sort of results to match her theory. Instead, she was caught off-guard completely. The magazine was right, as one of the first initial searches detailed how NASCAR had changed the date from a Saturday to a Thursday to make the Vegas week shorter on teams.

A smile immediately came across her face – that meant she could go to the banquet, and then head down to Florida for the Snowball Derby weekend festivities. Maybe even Chase could join her down there, too.

The smile left right away, though, as panic set in. She hadn’t planned on the banquet. She hadn’t planned on having to get shoes, her hair done that week, ready – she hadn’t even thought about dresses. What was she going to wear?

Remembering Ryan’s advice, she immediately dialed Emma’s number, in hopes of some answers.

“Well, the good news is you have a whole month to figure that out,” Emma offered after hearing Sarina’s panic story. “We already finalized your truck series dress options down to five different styles – each white in nature, but slightly different. I’m sure we can figure out something for you to wear as you accompany Chase just as well. I mean, he’s not a fancy guy nor would he be too upset by any choice you make so we can make this work. Give me some details you’re thinking….”

“Well, I don’t mean to be typical but let’s keep matching sponsors and go with blue,” Sarina starts, knowing it’d match with NAPA perfectly. “But not as dark a blue as they have – something lighter. I also want to go with something long, flowing, almost like a princess but not quite there. Oh, and not form fitting either. Does this make sense?” Emma laughs as she makes some notes, also including a citation to tell Chase he needed a blue highlight on his tux if he wanted to follow that rule of matching.

“Hey, it gives me somewhere to start with – if anything. Shoulders or no shoulders?” Sarina thought it over. It was her night to look sexy though, right?

“Spaghetti strap, please. I don’t like strapless for fear of falling off – but I don’t want something too thick.”

“Got it. I will look into what I know from some designers, and shoot you some ideas later on this week. Just take a deep breath, and relax. We got this – even if both you and Chase can’t remember that they switched the date. Hey, don’t go telling him that you realized. Let it be a surprise for when he does figure it out.” Sarina smiles, knowing his reaction would probably be priceless.

“Deal. Thank you. I guess Ryan was right after all….” Emma laughs.

“My brother isn’t so bad….”

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

Sarina wished she was back in the comfort of the motorcoach, relaxing, not having a single care in the world; she’d even take banquet dress worrying over this.

Instead, she sat on top of the 24 pit box, fingers crossed, legs crossed, trying to cross her toes, just hoping for a calm day at Talladega. After the drama that track had delivered in April, she wasn’t looking for a repeat.

Everything started out smoothly as Chase kept himself up front after starting second, staying in the midst of the lead pack while avoiding taking any chances. However, that all changed when it was time for pit stops.

As cars began to peel off for their stops with the stage coming to an end, chaos ensued with contact, followed by cars going every which way. She held her breath as she watched Chase avoid the chaos, darting down pit road as it broke apart behind him.

The 24 team did their stop as scheduled – cleanly, might she add – before he headed out, set to rejoin the pack. It all seemed to be going perfectly…..

“We’re going to have to restart tail of the longest line here,” Alan tells them, after getting word from NASCAR. “They say we pitted after pit road was closed.” Sarina could only let out a sigh. Sure, they had pitted – but how could anybody tell that NASCAR just randomly decided to flick the light from green to red due to a wreck? This also meant that he’d be back in the middle of the eye of the storm. “They need to move that line and light back so you can see it better in turn three. There’s no way that you would know.”

“It crossed my mind,” Chase replies back over the radio. “I thought about trying to get out but it was too late when I saw them wrecking.” Taking a deep breath, it was better safe than sorry – even if it meant there’d be nervous times once they got back going.

“Okay, so come on down now and we’ll get the left side tires so we’ll be penalized for doing the best job that we can.” Sarina had to chuckle at Alan’s approach to handling the chaos at hand.

Hey, least they’d have four new tires compared to some only having two.

Despite her nerves shot up a couple places, Chase was able to hold his ground quite well, and work his way back towards the front of the field into the top-10, getting up to six as the stage was set to come to a close. Another round of stops began, though, and the same chaos ensued, this time involving Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray. Taking a sigh of relief, she was just glad they had avoided trouble so far.

“If we get in a position where we have to pit under green, don’t put yourself in harm’s way,” Alan advises. “Just take another lap.” Sarina couldn’t help but agree as it was about surviving, scoring as many points as possible, and getting to the next round today.

The third and final stage started, and as he had all day, Chase was right in the mix of the battle for the lead. Though with each move he made, it just seemed to not come together. As the caution flew for debris with the laps counting down, she hoped the reset would present the perfect opportunity.

“We will get this,” Eddie D’Hondt encouraged. “We just haven’t found the right dance partner.” She couldn’t help but agree, but saw potential in those starting around him.

Her breath caught in her throat as they went back green, knowing the action was about to pick up with the race nearing its conclusion. She found herself in a mix of nerves, with some cheers even escaping her lips, as everything began to came together. The search for a dance partner came out to be complete, in the form of Ryan Blaney, as the pair went back and forth for the lead with the Penske teammates. It was also a calming sensation seeing that No. 24 Chevrolet lead laps, as he was ahead of both wrecks that took place behind them removing multiple cars.

Taking a deep breath under the latest caution, she knew the intensity was set to ramp up and it was now or never. She just hoped Chase made the right moves.

She watched the shuffle on the restart, seeing Chase just behind the leaders. Down the backstretch with 12 to go, her eyes focused on the television monitor before her. Her breath then hitched in her throat as she watched Joey Logano and Daniel Suarez battle side-by-side for the lead, with Chase diving from the top lane behind them to the bottom to go by them both entering the third turn, before sliding back up to the top to hold the momentum.

“Holy shit!” She let out in disbelief, placing her hand on her chest. “That was damn sexy! Hot damn! But damn, Chase, don’t be doing that to me….”

She hoped that he could just simply stay ahead of them, no more challenges for the lead, just a smooth sailing from here to the end.

That wasn’t meant to be, though, as she watched Joey get a run, followed by Chase getting shuffled back to fourth with eight laps to go. Taking a deep breath, she partially just wanted the race to be over so nerves could return to normal, but she also felt herself on the edge, fingers crossed, knowing what could happen today – finally.

“Come on Chase!” She lets out, hoping it all came together.

With six laps to go down the back and entering turn three, the opportunity to make a move came up. A hole opened up between Kyle Larson and Daniel as they battled for the lead, and Chase had the momentum. He immediately shot for the gap, though before anybody could realize – that hole closed, contact happened. Sarina immediately wanted to throw up, panic, cry, scream as she watched the No. 24 Chevrolet shoot from the bottom of the track to the top, making contact with the outside turn three wall.

“Oh shit!” She lets out as she feels arms wrap around her from behind, glancing over her shoulder to see they belonged to Jordan Allen, who was rubbing her shoulders. “Oh gosh….”

“Breathe, relax….” Jordan encourages as he continues to rub her shoulders. “You heard the radio transmission…” She nods her head, having heard him say the words that he was ‘okay.’

“I can’t believe this…” She tried to take a couple deep breathes, and relax, but the sudden angle of impact, the speed, and seeing the crumpled up car, she was beyond disbelief.

“He’s okay…” Jordan then slowly stands up, holding out a hand for her to grab hold. She grabs it, slowly standing herself. “I’ll walk you back so you can see him….” She simply nods her head, following Jordan’s lead, going through the motions without questions.

She carefully climbs down the ladder from the pit box, glancing at one of the team’s televisions screens in the process. She watches him slowly get out from where the car stopped in turn four, slowly walking down the banking. She takes a couple more deep breaths, saying a couple silent prayers of thanks, before following Jordan’s lead quietly.

The entire walk to the infield care center was quiet as she didn’t know what to say; she almost felt numb in that moment. The wait for the ambulance to come back, followed by them checking him over felt like it was going on forever – even if it was just a span of perhaps 15 to 20 minutes.

After feeling like an eternity had passed, she watches the doors open and he walks out, instantly walking over to her, wrapping his arms around her shoulders.

“I’m okay,” he simply tells her, knowing how freaked out she could get about wrecks from the last Talladega experience. “I’m okay…” She looks up into his brown eyes, feeling every emotion run through her, as she wraps her arms around him to hold him close.

“Are you sure?” She questions as he lays her head on her shoulder.

“I wouldn’t lie to you. I’m fine. It took my breath away for a minute, but I’m fine…” He then lets go, which she follows suit slowly. She watches as he goes over and answers some questions for the reporters, before swiftly returning back to her arms. “Ready to go back to the motorcoach?”

“Absolutely. It’s time for me to take care of you…” He then rolls his eyes as they begin the walk together.

“I told you, I’m fin-”

“You’re going to be sore as hell tomorrow after how hard you hit, whether you want to admit that to me or not. You also did an incredible, beyond admirable job, dealing with my issues this weekend. It’s time that I repay you. For once, let me take care of you…” He nods his head, accepting, knowing he wasn’t going to win this fight.

Once back in the motorcoach, she got him a bottle of water, helped him change out of his firesuit, made him a nice snack, followed by a full back massage.

“I’m spoiled….” He lets out as she continues to work the muscles.

“You deserve it,” she tells him, kissing his cheek. He then glances up at her with a smile.

“You absolutely deserve to be repaid for your hard work and dedication, and I just want to love you that much more…” He then lets out a sigh as he lays his head back down. “But that soreness is creeping in…”

“Then let me do all the pleasuring…” She then rolls him over so he’s on his back, facing her directly, as he looks on intrigued. “Besides, I owe you…”

“You don’t owe me a single thing. I would do what I did for you 10 times over, sweetheart.” She smiles, kissing his lips lightly.

“That doesn’t mean that I can reward your hard work in taking care of me, and your hard work in coming oh so close today…” She then reaches for the edges of his boxers, slipping them down. “Now, relax…”

“How can I relax when I know….where….you’re….going?” She then laughs as she rubs his shoulders once again, brushing her body against his. “Sarina….”

“Yes, Chase?” He then takes her hand, placing it over his crotch, knowing her plan already.

“Stop being a damn tease and deliver on your promise. Help make the pain of Talladega disappear, please…” She then smiles, kissing his lips as she rubs him lightly.

“Your wish is my command, sweet dear…”

*******

Monday, October 16

Sarina makes her way to the back door of the 5/24 shop, knocking on the door.

With concerns still stemming from how he was feeling, she had taken the liberty of dropping him off at the shop while on the way to Kyle Busch Motorsports herself. Now that she was done everything for the day, she had come back to grab him – but also make a stop of her own.

She watches the door open slowly, flashing a million dollar smile immediately.

“No matter what you say or do, you cannot sneak in through the shop,” Chad Avrit tells her as she just laughs.

“I can’t even seduce you to do that?” She questions, causing an intrigued glance to form on his face.

“You’d never….” She laughs and shakes he head.

“You’re right, but I may seduce your driver.” Chad knew that quite the possibility as he crossed his arms.

“Chase is still upstairs doing whatever Chase does….” She figured that as she knew that she was early.

“Is Jordan around?” Chad glances behind him, seeing Jordan working on the interior section of their car for Martinsville in a couple weeks. “Can he come see me, please?”

“I’ll go ask…” Chad then closes the door, leaving Sarina to stand there and wait by herself.

She knew she wasn’t taking the smoothest approach in doing this, but she had to say something after Sunday. Lost in the chaos, she never spoke to Jordan after he led her back to the care center.

“Hey Sarina,” Jordan comments as he opens the door, closing it behind him as he steps outside.

“Hey,” she replies. “I didn’t get you in trouble, did I?” Jordan shakes his head.

“I hadn’t taken my break yet…” She then takes a deep breath, debating the best way to say this.

“I just wanted to stop by and say thank you. I mean it – thank you so much. Thank you for holding me, thank you for your words, thank you for comforting me, thank you for leading me there, and thank you. I was totally lost in the moment and didn’t say a single word….” Jordan looks at her with eyes of sympathy. He understood where she was coming from.

“I knew you were scared and worried; I could see it by your reaction when he hit the wall. Hey, it’s understandable, though. You love and care about him. I knew the best thing in that moment was to offer support for you.”

“But you went above and beyon-”

“Any of the guys would’ve done the same on this team. We’re family, and we’re there for each other. Alan was there on the radio for Chase with Eddie, and I was just the first one to step in for you. Josh mentioned to me that he was about to grab you and take you, but realized that I had you already. You don’t need to thank me. I’m glad as much as you are that he is okay.” Sarina nods her head, having said a couple more thank you prayers since.

“You do a great job at making sure the interior of that car is done right and he’s kept safe. It shows. Thank you…” He smiles as he pulls her into a hug.

“It’s part of the job, and I love him just as much as anybody. But you’re welcome.”

They then separate, talking for a bit longer, before she lets him go so he doesn’t get in trouble for too long of a break.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 84: “It won’t come to that….”

Dale makes his way down the hall, glancing at the room numbers, remembering what Regan texted him. He freezes when he sees the number, glancing inside. He was surprised to see Regan sitting there in a lone chair, clipboard and paper in hand.

“Hey,” Dale says as he enters the room, catching Regan’s attention as he looks up from the clipboard.

“Hey,” Regan replies, before glancing back down. Dale takes a look to the right, noticing it was totally empty, before looking back toward Regan.

“Where is he?” Regan looks back up once again as he takes a deep breath.

“They took him for tests. X-ray, ultrasound, couple different things.” Dale could understand that as he made his way to the one side, leaning back against the wall.

“Oh, okay. How is he?” Regan takes a deep breath, knowing that was a loaded question as he tried to focus on the form.

“Scared out of his mind, confused, in pain. So much shit.” Regan then pauses as he looks at the sheet, shaking his head. “Fuck, I can’t fill this out!” Dale then looks over confused as normally Regan was the calm one in these situations.

“What is it?” Regan hands over the clipboard as he takes another deep breath. “Psych evaluation?” Regan nods his head as he looks over, taking the clipboard back. He knew whether he liked it or not, he needed to finish it.

“Because of how I explained it and how he’s feeling, they asked me to fill this out based on tonight and the past couple months.” Dale was confused, if it was possible to even more so after reading Regan’s initial message.

“Why?” Regan shrugs his shoulders.

“I guess to have an idea of his mental state.” Dale knew there was no more sitting around waiting. Things were serious, and he needed to know now.

“What the hell is going on anyways? Your text message confused me.” Regan takes a deep breath, not even knowing where to begin. How were you supposed to describe this to someone?

“My head has been swirling since he texted me, so bare with me…..” Regan then tells him everything in the best way that he can possibly describe it, just hoping that it made some sort of sense.

“What do you believe happened?” Regan admittedly had gone back and forth with possibilities since then.

“There’s no signs at the house. Heck, you would’ve known as you have all the security detail of who enters the property. Plus, he’s 99% sure that it’s just a dream. So I don’t see it as happening now. So it’s either a dream, maybe it happened before….” Dale ponders it over, while making a note to double check the cameras incase.

“He did sleep with Demi at the cabin a long time ago. That was feeling of betrayal, pain. You heard him when he told us. Could he be re-invisioning that with the images and thoughts from Kassandra?” Regan shrugs his shoulders as he glances back to the forms.

“Who knows at this point, to be honest. You could be right. Either way, for his sanity, we need to figure what’s going on.” Dale knew that was the primary focus, as he wanted to see the same thing – for multiple reasons.

“Well, you made the right decision coming here. If something happened, then we and they can handle it. If nothing did, the emotions can be handled.” Regan believed in those words, but he also remembered the desperation and tone Chase had used with him.

“I just don’t feel right filling this out. He asked me if he was crazy, losing his mind, and I told him he wasn’t. But filling this out, it doesn’t feel right….” Dale places a hand on Regan’s shoulder, sympathizing with him immediately.

“It’s not supposed to, Regan. He’s not the type to go crazy or lose his mind. He’s the calm, focused one. Heck if anybody should be that it’s me as I was always the nervous panic type.” Regan couldn’t argue with that, though, as he looks up with a small smile.

“You found your way, though, and he will too. I know that in my heart.” Dale believed in that, no matter what. It was the only way they could move forward.

“You’re right. He will…” Regan continues filling out the paper, not wanting his support to waiver, though the final words on the page catch his attention.

“It says here that by filling this out and understanding the terms and situation, the individual could be committed. I can’t see them doing that. That would be the last straw for both him and Alyssa. They both need what they can hold on to…” Dale couldn’t even imagine what Alyssa’s reaction would be if she was there, or he had texted her to tell her.

“It won’t come to that….” Dale’s voice trails off as they watch the nurse bring him back in the room, both flashing a small smile.

“Is that form filled out Mr. Smith?” The nurse asks Regan after she is done getting him situated.

“Yeah, pretty much…” Regan answers as he hands over the clipboard, not taking his eyes off of Chase in the process.

“Thank you. The doctor should be here soon with your results.” The nurse then leaves as both Dale and Regan keep their eyes locked on Chase.

“Hey,” Dale says quietly as Chase just gives him a little wave.

“Everything go smoothly?” Regan questions and Chase nods his head. “Did they say anything?”

“Not a single world,” Chase answers as he tries to get comfy, rubbing his stomach. “Oh man…”

“How long has that been bothering you?” Chase knew where Regan was going with the question and knew that needed to end right there.

“It just started today when I woke up.” Chase then closes his eyes, taking a deep breath, as he lies his head back on the pillow. “I still can’t believe myself….”

“About?” Chase opens his eyes as he focuses on Regan.

“The reason I texted you initially. I don’t get how that flashed in my mind so vividly…” Regan and Dale glance at each other, as if they could share mental notes, before both focusing on Chase.

“Nightmares can be like that…” Dale remembered a couple of his own, along with Alyssa’s past experience.

“Sometimes they’re worse than what happened itself,” he adds as Chase glances towards the small window.

“I don’t get why this is so tough to wrap my arms around,” Chase starts. “The others – yeah, they were tough, and they certainly freaked me out. I know they took time to handle, too. But this just doesn’t seem to be getting better, and almost endless at times…” Dale wanted to simply walk over, hold him, do whatever he could to just make everything go away in a flash. But he knew that wasn’t the answer.

“This is just feeling worse for reasons that we can’t explai-”

“Not only were you attacked, but the number one person that you love with everything as well,” Regan interrupts. “That’s why it’s tearing at more heart strings than you could imagine. You’re feeling what you felt towards you, but you’re also feeling a strong sympathy pain and regret for what Alyssa experienced.” Chase could see where Regan was coming from with that explanation.

“And it will get better eventually, right?” Chase asks and Regan nods his head. He wasn’t sure how soon, or even how to begin with, but he would never give up on his friend.

Their attention is then caught to the doorway as they watch Eric enter, slipping the door closed behind him. Regan’s eyes immediately find Dale, every possibility of the paper he filled out swirling through his mind.

“Hello Dale,” Eric says quietly as Dale simply smiles.

“Hey,” he replies. Eric then glances towards the chair at Regan.

“You must be Regan. I’m Eric.” Regan shakes the man’s hand.

“Nice to meet you,” Regan replies. “Wait – how do you know who I am?” Dale just chuckles in response.

“You’re a superstar….” Dale muses as Regan just rolls his eyes.

“I do watch some racing, but I figured you’d be here as I know Chase turns to you on a lot of things,” Eric comments, which Regan could see easily making sense. “And then there’s you. We just saw each other earlier today. I mean, I don’t mind seeing you, but not under these circumstances. How are you feeling?”

“Sore,” Chase comments quietly as Eric could only nod his head.

“That’s understandable. When the doctor comes in after, he’s got something that’ll help with the pain, okay?” Chase nods his head, accepting. “Now, I’ve read over everything that they gave me that you and Regan told them, along with everything they figured out.” Eric then places the file aside, keeping his eyes on Chase. “I don’t care what the paper says. What really matters, end of the day?”

“My feelings.” Eric nods his head.

“Right. Now, obviously the biggest concern from both you and Regan was a potential rape scenario. What are you thinking about that, right now?” Chase takes a deep breath, as he focuses up on the ceiling. He would rather not say a single word.

“That I was a fool for saying that happened. I was totally wrong in every aspect of what I said. The more I think it, the more I realize that I was just woke up panicked from my dream – like when you wake up screaming because you’re set to scream in a nightmare.”

“You’re never a fool, okay? Actually, you’re a bigger person for doing something about it and contacting a friend. You’re also a bigger person for lying here, and having figured out what happened. The doctor went through with the rape kit, checking to see if there were finger prints or any trace anywhere of the possibility. Nothing came back. With what you’ve said and what we’ve found as a whole, I am confident nothing happened and what you’re saying is true.” Regan felt more confused now as he watched the pair closely.

“Then why is he feeling this random pain in his stomach?” Regan wonders as Eric glances back at him.

“There’s a reason, and you will get that reason when the doctor comes in after,” Eric answers. “For now, I’d like to take the steps in talking about why I’m here.” Regan nodded his head, accepting. He knew why they had called Eric as it was all about the paper he filled out earlier. “With what I’ve told you, does that make sense and can you accept that?”

“Yeah,” Chase says, as it made sense. A combination of trapped in his dream, along with a new pain, would easily equal what happened.

“What if this is a case of a rape that happened but he totally blocked it out of mind and it wasn’t caught due to other things?” Dale then questions, remembering his conversation with Regan about the possibilities. It was better to explore them now with Eric, than enter that scenario later.

“That’s possible, but I feel this is more a combination of his fear and thoughts twisting around itself,” Eric explains. “We’ve talked about fearing rape, scared of what could’ve happen if things had played out as envisioned. We talked about fearing a rape against Alyssa by photos that Randy had taken. We talked about fearing a rape by Kassandra when at her disposal and hands, even being touched unfairly in that moment. A new sense of pain, combined with nightmares of a possibility, and you have this scenario.” Chase could only shake his head as Eric broke it down. There was only one more thing to say.

“So I am crazy….” Chase comments, causing a surprised glance from everybody in the room.

“Chase….” Regan says quietly, remembering their discussion earlier.

“Going through the trauma that you experienced, and running into a situation like this does not mean you’re crazy,” Eric tells him. “It just means that the mind is having a hard time processing everything and making sense of these feelings. In this situation, we’ve simply watched your nightmares pick up to a new level of intensity. It happens as there are plenty of people who deal with this scenario. So for future sessions, we can talk about that, and work through strategies to make coping with them easier.” Chase nods his head, accepting. As long as there were answers that could get rid of this feeling, he was on-board.

“What do we do in the meanwhile?” Eric glances over at Regan, again.

“He has a mild anxiety drug that he has been taking once in the morning to soothe off extreme emotions – and it is working for what we want it to do. For the night time, I can either suggest taking another dosage or a sleeping pill to allow him to relax. That’s something that me and him can discuss.” Regan nods his head, accepting. He could now understand why Dale always suggested to go to Eric when there were problems. “Other than the words that I’ve spoken, there is not much else that I can say. Do you have any questions?”

“This pain…” Chase comments, voice trailing out.

“The doctor has an explanation for you that connects in a way, but I will let him explain,” Eric states, as he picks the file backup, opening it. “The doctor did request a psychological evaluation form to be filled out and overlooked by myself. Regan, I appreciate your patience in filling it out accordingly. The form is meant for me to give my recommendation on what to do from a psychological standpoint. Now, this can include treatment, drugs, further evaluation under a physician, or ground rules of a type of sta-”

“So basically, you’re supposed to judge if I’m to be admitted to the psych ward or not?” Regan froze at Chase’s revelation, glancing towards Dale. Dale just glanced back at Regan with a calm glance, hand slightly up.

“That is part of it, yes, depending on patient safety and whether they’re a danger to themselves or the public.” Eric flips through the pages to the last one in the file. “I’m not supposed to tell you my recommendation or what I write in here, but we have an open-book policy so I owe it to you. I am simply going to state that I went over with the patient the bearings of what happened, and we determined that a trauma-caused nightmares were the result of your feelings. It is also worth noting that previous time spent with you showed clear signs of PTSD. My recommendation is to either increase our anti-anxiety medicine or give you a sleeping pill to put off the feelings until they can be further discussed, broken down, and handled accordingly. That seems right, so far?” Chase nods his head.

“That’s exactly what you told me.” He then lets out a yawn as he lie back. “Sleeping has been a pain in the ass, so I hate to say this but maybe that’d be a good idea…”

“The focus should be on yourself, your health, and how you’re feeling. If it’s going to help make things easier, then I would fully open that door if I was you. That doesn’t mean you have to open it forever, or become dependent. It’s just a strategy till you find a better one.” Chase nods his head, accepting, even if part of him wanted to chuck the pills across the room. “Furthermore, I do not believe you to be a danger to society or yourself, so I see no emergency reason to keep you on a psychological basis. I will strongly recommend that someone be with you at all times – 24 hours a day, just in case an episode creeps up until we see some noteworthy progress. Is that possible?” Chase nods his head, with both Regan and Dale joining in.

“I’ll come spend time if nobody else is available,” Dale adds, knowing he’d do whatever it took.

“My signature is on the file, and we are done,” Eric says as he signs off, closing it. “Now, I will let the doctor see this, and then he can tell you what he has to say. Trust me, you’re going to fully understand why you’re experiencing the pain once you see the results. My advice? Take every bit of what he is going to say and consider it. You can always call me if you need me.” Eric then leaves the room, as the group takes glances towards each other, pondering what is next.