Sunday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway – 1 week, 1 day old
Alan pops into the hauler, seeing Chase laying on the couch. He felt a bit of relief in knowing that he hadn’t taken off yet, given the amount of rain that was falling.
“Please tell me that you’re being careful about your decisions,” Alan lets out, almost out of cue, which catches Chase off-guard.
“Excuse me?” Chase questions, and Alan takes a deep breath as he knew there was no way around it.
“I know you want to fly back and be with Sarina and Abigail, but be careful in your decisi-”
“Why do you think I am still laying here? Why do you think I have the radar loaded on my phone? Why do you think I have texted Sarina that I may be late, or come tomorrow instead?” Alan admittedly let out an immediate sigh of relief. “I told you that I was going to be careful, and I meant that. I thought you trusted me.”
“I do.” Alan then sits on the couch. “I just also worry about you. Can you blame me?” Chase shakes his head no as he glances back through his text messages.
“I also got a phone call that Carter Williams was spotted in the Florida area. The police are checking into the person who left the tip, and what they can figure out.” Alan had to admit made him feel even more nervous about the situation. However, it also explained his driver’s location.
“Is that why you’re here and not back at the motorcoach?” Chase shakes his head no as he holds his phone up.
“I didn’t want to get comfy there if I did end up flying out tonight, hence the radar. However, it looks ugly so I might as well give it up.” Chase then sits up, looking over at Alan. “How do you handle the time away from your family?”
“It gets easier with time, in trusting them and knowing that we make the most of the time we do spend together. My kids are also older, Chase, and that helps. I remember the first couple of months, and how after some races I just wanted to get home immediately to be with them.” Chase had to smile slightly as the words did offer some comfort given the situation. “I’m sure once she’s out of the hospital, it’ll be easier for both you and Sarina to handle together.”
“It’s only been a week – a whole week, and yet it seems like things are going too slowly at times. I know we’ve gotten to be closer, but nothing will replace the first chance to hold her, and knowing that everything for sure is okay.”
“I’m sure other people have told you this, but she’s going to be fine. Maybe babies are born a couple weeks early and they turn out fine. You’d be surprised with what modern medicine can accomplish.” Chase nods his head, having heard the re-assurances every direction he looked. However, it didn’t cure those small worries that he had in the meanwhile.
Monday, February 11 – Daytona International Speedway
Although the rain had stopped, Chase was still stuck in Daytona, Florida on Monday. Between constant threat of more weather, and worries about a breach of security at the airport with Carter in town, comfort in clearance to fly up to Georgia couldn’t be found.
He had thought about making the trip out to New Smyrna to watch the short track racing, however he had to admit that it was comfy staying in cuddling with Max on the couch. So rather than heading down the road to the track, he had loaded the races that night on FansChoice.tv.
Although he tried to stay focused on the action before him, the conversation with Sarina was earning his attention. He was focused on the video feed of Abigail, seeing her little fingers wrapped up in Sarina’s hand. The pair were also conversing back and forth about updates from the doctor, the current plan moving forward if things continued according to plan, followed by how much they missed each other.
“So you’re for sure going to fly up here tomorrow?” Sarina questions and Chase nods his head.
“I have to,” he answers. “You’re due in Daytona on Wednesday for media day festivities, remember?” Sarina lets out a sigh. She knew that she could get out of those easily as everybody understood what was going on, however she wanted to stick by her words to Chase. She couldn’t expect him to drop everything and continue racing like normal if she didn’t do the same. However, that meant one more day away from her daughter.
“But you’re definitely coming up here to get me yoursel-”
“I promise you, Sarina, that I will make the trip tomorrow. I want to see Abigail for myself. It’s been three days now. I know we can’t do much, other than be near her and feel her fingers, but I miss it. I miss those little touches and being able to see her up close.” Sarina looks down at Abigail as the pair of them talk together.
“I think she misses seeing her daddy, too, if I’m being honest.” Chase wanted to believe in those words, but also knew that Sarina was projecting. Truthfully, he knew they were both missing each other just as much.
“Well you can tell her that Daddy loves her, and he can’t wait to see his girls tomorrow. I love you, Mrs. Elliott.” An immediate smile forms on Sarina’s face in hearing the name.
“I love you too, Mr. Elliott.” Chase then glances back up at the live stream from New Smyrna.
“And if it makes you feel better, Bubba Pollard is doing what he does best at New Smyrna. He set up the perfect late-race pass to snag the win by conserving his tires.”
“Are we honesty surprised, Chase? I told you that he’d be back to his familiar ways – even if that’s not his car.”
A couple text messages later, and both puppies were on their leeches as the drivers headed out through the infield at Daytona. They reached the playground area, letting them both off so they could run around and play together.
“So I apologize for bringing up the engagement on Sunday,” Chase starts, catching Ryan’s attention. “I didn’t realize you hadn’t told your sisters yet.”
“You do realize what they’re both like when it comes to those things, right?” Ryan questions, and Chase nods his head as he had known Emma and Erin long enough to realize that. He also saw it firsthand as he was there when Ryan told Erin about the pregnancy. “I just didn’t want them on my ass about every small detail and everything until I did it. I also don’t know if Emma has completely come around yet.”
“I thought she was fully on-board midway through Lindsay’s pregnancy…” Ryan lets out a sigh, remembering the conversation that ensued.
“There’s no doubt that she loves Evelyn, and she can’t wait to be an aunt. I also feel that she trusts Lindsay to a degree. I just don’t think she’s on-board for the next step.” Chase wasn’t in agreement, but he was willing to entertain the idea if it made Ryan open up about the engagement plans.
“Doesn’t she realize that’s what comes next, though?” Ryan simply shrugs his shoulders. “But okay, what is your plan by the way?”
“The only reason you asked Sturgis and I to come with you is because you wanted to get the details out of me, right?” Chase wasn’t about to admit that straight out quite yet.
“There’s discussions that Carter is in the area and I didn’t want to go out by myself. It was either call you, or call Jimmie. Don’t you feel special?” Ryan wasn’t buying the act.
“I originally was going to do it on Valentine’s Day, but that’s so typical as you’d just expect it then. I don’t want to do something that everybody else wou-”
“Are you just putting it off because of cold feet, or your sister now?” Ryan shakes his head no. wishing his best friend had some patience right now. Normally, it was the other way around.
“We’re going to Walt Disney World tomorrow. I thought about it doing it then. I actually called ahead, too.” Chase actually looks over surprised, as he didn’t think Ryan would be one to fully put a plan together. “She’s my princess, my Cinderella. We’re going to go to dinner at the castle, and then desert. Part of that desert is going to be a glass slipper, which I will be set to present to her as my Cinderella. However, there will be a ring within those straps on the slipper. Do I need to say anything else?”
“That actually sounds magical, beyond anything that I thought you were capable of. I’m impressed.” Ryan didn’t know whether to appreciate, or slap him for the comment. “So you’re going to text me as soon as you know her answer, right?”
“Trust me – you and Sarina will near the top of the list.” Chase gives him a glance. “Okay, you’re at the top of my list actually. Lindsay wouldn’t want it any other way considering how close she and Sarina are, and the fact we met because of you both.”
“I still remember how you both kept putting off there being a connection and the fact you were just simple friends. However, from the first night you spent together – which would be my birthday party actually, everybody could tell there was a connection.” Ryan smiles as he remembers the dancing together, followed by going out for desert.
“I almost couldn’t believe it was happening because it felt too perfect. They say you know you have found the right person when you feel it – and it just felt too good to be true.” Chase had to nod his head in agreement, remembering his first couple of days spent with Sarina. “And you’re flying back to Georgia tomorrow, correct?”
“That’s the plan. I have to go to the airport tomorrow afternoon as I have a pretty cool fun flying opportunity with a plane that I’ve always wanted to fly. Then after that’s done, I am taking the flight up to Georgia.”
Tuesday, February 12 – Daytona Beach International Airport – 1 week, 2 days old
“Thank you once again for the opportunity,” Chase thanks his fellow pilot that went up with him in the air.
While obviously his best way of spending the day would’ve been with his girls, he had to admit that passing up this opportunity would’ve sucked. It was only for a couple hours through the afternoon, by the height and speed they were able to reach and fun had with a couple small maneuvers in the process were worth it.
“You have my number; you know how to reach me if you want to do something again,” was the reply that he got in response which easily brought a smile to his face.
“I am going to hold you to that, actually,” Chase tells him.
He then makes his way to the hanger, sending a text message to Sarina in the process that he’d be there in a couple of hours. He also asked her what she wanted for dinner, knowing delivering her something would enable him to get his time with Abigail the quickest.
He then flipped onto twitter quick, scrolling through a couple notifications, followed by some of the various tweets that had been sent out. He then stopped and paused, bringing up one of the group shots for a closer view.
He looks over the group shot, recognizing several faces, before closing it.
He then texts Ryan Blaney, “I thought you were doing a romantic surprise for Lindsay. How is that happening now?”
Ryan hears his phone go off while standing in line for Space Mountain, looking at the text message. He then replies, “Bubba saw us going, and suggested that we join him, Ricky, Daniel and Kenzie. It would’ve been a little suspicious if I said no.”
Chase could only shake his head – for a couple different reasons as he read the response.
He then sees another text message from Ryan pop up, stating, “I pulled him and Daniel aside after lunch. We’re clear for the dinner surprise, still. Actually, Bubba is going to take photos.”
Chase couldn’t argue with that as he knew how well Darrell’s photos turned out on a regular basis. He knew those would be some great shots of the proposal for Ryan and Lindsay to savor. However, that didn’t erase one snagging feeling.
He then sent, “So where was my invite? I feel lonely…”
Ryan was honestly surprised by the response as they moved up closer to the ride, debating what to send back in response. He then finally sent, “Guess Bubba thought you’d be in Georgia. I thought you were flying out now.”
Chase looks over at the plane, knowing his pre-flight checklist had gone smoothly as always. It was finally time to go see his girls. He then sends, “Going now. Text me Disney details later, please.”
Tuesday, February 12 –Northeast Georgia Medical Center
It wasn’t a long flight back to Georgia – one hour and 30 minutes in total, with dinner delivered in a timely fashion for Sarina. Upon arrival, he took to the immediate chance to spend time with Abigail. Hand through the little holes, letting his hand hold her tiny fingers, which he almost swore he grown in length since the last time he’d seen her three days ago.
“So Ryan planned all of this himself?” Sarina questions, as she looks through a series of photos on her phone.
As promised, Chase and Sarina were the first to find out that Ryan’s proposal had been successful, with Lindsay accepting to marry him – despite tears rolling down her cheeks the entire time. It was only a little while later before a series of photos had been forwarded to them from Darrell.
“In his words, she’s his princess so she deserved a Disney Cinderella treat,” he comments, bringing an immediate look of awe to Sarina’s face. “I thought I did a great job on our proposal, but I have to admit that he’s pretty romantic.”
“The glass slipper is nice, but I wouldn’t trade the roses and the cabin for it,” Sarina replies, leaning in for a quick kiss, as she continues to scroll through the photos. “The princess comment is almost fitting for her, though, as she is a ballerina dancer at heart so she’d totally be in love with that. It’s nice to see that he gets her at that level.”
“Like they say – you should only be with the person that understands you right down to your tippy toes.” He then looks down at Abigail. “And by the way, you have the cutest little toes in the neighborhood. Oh yes, you do…”
“I’m just glad that she said yes as I remember all of her original apprehensions of moving down to North Carolina and moving forward with him. I kept assuring her that it was for the best, as there were so many reasons to do it, and that she could stay involved in dancing at a different level.” Chase nods his head, in agreement, remembering the numerous conversations. “So when are they getting married?”
“Woah now, slow down….” She then chuckles as she sits back.
“I’m serious! I know how magical it felt to marry you so I can’t imagine what she’s going to feel in having that moment with Ryan, and having Evelyn there with them.” Chase admittedly couldn’t wait to see Ryan’s reaction, either.
“I don’t think it will happen as quickly as you’re thinking it’s going to. Ryan is still nervous about what Emma thinks.” The smile immediately wipes away from Sarina’s face. There was no hiding the mix of opinions that she shared about Ryan’s sisters on a couple different occasions – from Erin’s feelings for Chase, to Emma sticking her nose in everything.
“I thought we were over that when she accepted the pregnancy, and was ready to be the best aunt possible for Evelyn. Wasn’t it supposed to be great to see the Blaney cousins in Louie and Evelyn grow up together?” Chase nods, remembering that same discussion.
“I told Ryan about that, and he said that no doubt that was the truth. However, he doesn’t feel that she’s ready for the next step.”
“What else does she thinks comes next?” Chase lets out a sigh, remembering the same words he said to Ryan. “Anyways, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that Ryan and Lindsay are happy together, and ready to raise Evelyn as a family. They’re going to do it when they’re ready, and it’s too bad if everybody isn’t on-board.”
“While I understand your perspective, I don’t see Ryan being as cut-dry as you’re being. His sisters mean the world to them and he’s going to want their approval and acceptance before the wedding.” Sarina takes a deep breath, glancing down as she lets the words sink in.
“I guess that’s something that I don’t understand, or have ever worried about with a lack of family.” Chase slowly lets go of Abigail, walking over to her, as he wraps both arms around her from behind.
“You may not have the traditional family, but you certainly have a family. You have me, Samantha, Kyle, my parents, Christopher, Morgan, Alan, Jordan…..I could go on for days, actually.” He then looks over at Abigail. “But most importantly, you have your daughter. You have Abigail, and you have me. We’re a family, and we’re never going to let you forget that. I love you, forever and always. I promised you that the day that I married you, and I am going to uphold that no matter what.”
“I love you, too, forever and always.” She then turns around in his arms, kissing his lips. “I could never ever forget that, or let you go. You both mean the world to me.”