Chapter 56: His Frustration
I walk out of the small area, closing the door behind us. I notice the look on Chad’s face and immediately, I know he’s about to blow a gasket. Rick should perhaps get those cookies ready now.
“Wha-” Chad starts and Ron places his hand over his mouth, glancing between the pair. Okay, that was odd. I thought Ron would let him be put on blast. Let’s face it –Ron hasn’t all been too pleased about this, either.
“Not here in front of the guys,” Ron tells us and I take a deep breath and shake my head, agreeing. Who knows what 10 other guys would do if they heard.
“Can’t go up to the lounge as she’s calling Dom,” I state, quickly processing through some ideas. “We could go steal Dale’s lounge?” Ron shakes his head in agreement as the three of us head out of the trailer, walking up into Dale’s trailer.
“Are you done in the lounge?” Steve looks over and shakes his head yes. “Can we borrow it? Jimmie’s girlfriend is having a personal moment in his.”
“Sure – go ahead,” Steve accepts easily as we all head to the lounge. Ron closes the door once we’re inside and glances between the pair of us. Here it goes.
“What the hell were you thinking?” Chad questions, finishing off his previous thoughts. “Do you realize how much shit you could get in? Do you realize the risk that you’re taking? Hell – forget about the risk for your career, but your life. What if you wrecked? What if you were arrested? You could go to jail!” I take a deep breath, keeping myself calm. It was hard to argue against Chad as he made some valuable points.
“I wasn’t thinking about any of that,” I tell him and he goes to fire off his next shot, but I hold my hand up to stop him. Isn’t a debate supposed to be about letting both sides share their opinion evenly? “I was just thinking that I needed something to get away from the craziness – something to erase what was going on around me for a while. Call it a stress release if you will. That’s all that it was supposed to be. I know it is wrong and I know that I did a very bad thing. That’s why I am done with it now, once this gets cleaned up.” Chad crosses his arms, keeping his eyes locked on me. Obviously that didn’t go over well.
“Cleaned up? How is that supposed to happen? How are you supposed to chase off some guy trying to kill you?” Welp, for starters, that guy doesn’t know who I am. He is more so looking for Candiss to find out who I am.
“The guy that is after me – David Rhodes – is wanted for a bunch of other high criminal crimes. Once this guy named Dom has enough dirt on him, he’s going to arrest him and hand him over to the FBI as Dom is working for Agent Luke Hobbs. That is supposed to happen by the end of this weekend. Once he’s arrested, the whole thing will disappear.” I could see the eye roll before I said those words. There was no way that Chad was accepting this, so far.
“And what about this guy? It’s obvious that he knows who you are, right? What if he ruins your career?” Welp, he wouldn’t do that because he cares too much about Candiss and wouldn’t want to ruin things for her. Yeah, that should go over well.
“He isn’t going to say anything. He’s a close friend of Candiss’ and cares about her and just wants to see her happy. If that’s with me, then he’s fine with leaving me alone. He told me already that he isn’t going to mention my name at all – just Rhodes and who works for him.” Everybody remembers the discussion at the garage, right? That’s what he said and for some reason, I trust him even though I don’t know him. I guess I don’t have any other choice, though.
“Oh, so he cares for Candiss. What if he actually loves her? What if you break Candiss’ heart?” Okay – now this is going to too far in depth here. I thought we were just going to argue about my street racing antics. Shouldn’t that require a bunch more yelling? Why were we discussing Candiss now?
“He doesn’t ‘love’ her like you’re thinking, Chad. They’re just really good friends. He’s married to someone named Letty as Candiss talked about her a little. And I don’t plan on breaking Candiss’ heart because I love her.” Who knows months from now, but I’m committed. There’s something special about her.
“What if that chang-” Ron starts.
“It won’t change so don’t question it,” I cut him off, not even letting the thought go there. “Besides, I told you I was going to end this once things got cleaned up. I thought I could have some fun on Wednesday nights street racing without any other problems. However, that turns out to not be the case. It seems I’ve got myself caught up in something bigger. I’m not taking anymore chance and doing that again.” I’ll just have to find something else to relieve stress. Maybe Candiss will be what I need for that, or perhaps I could take up golf. I hear knocking the snot out of a white ball does wonders for Denny.
“I can’t believe you even did this in the first place,” Chad comments, thankfully getting us back on track. I didn’t wan to talk about Candiss anymore with him and Ron. “This is totally not like you. You are supposed to be the great awesome guy who leads the perfect little life. Remember – vanilla and can do nothing wrong? How the heck does this happen now? It doesn’t make sense!” His statement right there explains everything probably more than he can understand.
“Keeping that perfect straight face and not causing any problems isn’t easy,” I start. “Making sure to always behave and not let the bad days get to me – not as easy as it looks. Not letting the other factors that annoy me about life get to me – not easy. There’s more to my life than at the track, and that can get to me at times. But hey, in front of the cameras, I have to Mr. Perfect. I needed a place to let loose and that was my spot.” That was why I made the decision originally. Okay, so that’s a lie. I got into it in my late teens because of the thrill of going fast. I returned to it in the past couple of years for other reasons.
“So why not go to the local drag strip?” Now there’s an idea for a stress release if I still want to go fast. I’d be curious to see what time the camaro could put down.
“That’s a controlled environment that has set rules. This is an area that is totally loose, no rules and right out there. There’s a certain rush in going to find this back secluded road and making it happen. It adds to the adrenaline that you feel when you’re on the line, and gives the escape that you need because you’re lost in that world.” Now that’s the total truth. That was something that I learned at a young age when Ron and I first started.
“I still can’t believe this….” I then grab his hand, catching his attention. Okay, so it was nice to know that he didn’t believe it. But, that’s not why the discussion was being had.
“Look, I’m sorry to have caught you off-guard like this and I’m sorry for doing what may be viewed as the worst thing ever to do. I know I put all of us at risk, and everything that we worked for. I learned my lesson, okay?” I then take a deep breath, honestly scared of his answer. “Now, are you going to have my back moving forward? Or am I going to be looking for a new best friend?” It was an honest question. These things can change people, and I didn’t want to see this change us.
“I’ll always have your back. Just promise me you won’t do this shit again.” That was an easy promise to commit to.
“I promise. Now, excuse me, while I go see Candiss and whether she got a hold of Dom.” I then go to leave, glancing back at the pair. I debated withholding what I was going to say but decided to anyway. “On the brighter note, Ron can tell you what it’s like to be there. Ask him what he did when he was 18.” Might as well leave them on a discussion note. Perhaps Chad could learn some respect for what I did….okay, so that’s totally wrong. This is going to be harder than I thought.
“Is he serious?” I could already see Ron giving me a glare before I closed the door. Yep, that was worth it. “Malec?”
Chapter 57: Shock
A combination of shock and anger – more shock than anything – was all that ran through my veins. Was I hearing this right? Did I actually hear that Jimmie had been street racing? Okay, now there’s a big surprise. I didn’t know whether to be shocked or angry, but we’ll go angry because WHAT THE HELL WAS HE THINKING?
What if someone recognized him? What if whatever cover-up that he came up with was not enough? What if this Dom guy spilled the beans? There were so many possibilities that were going through my mind. All of them circulated back to anger.
His reason didn’t help issues, though, as he said it was a good ‘stress relief’ to be able to go fast and let the car loose. So what happens when that stress release turns into him being dead? I mean, what if he runs off the road and can’t get help in time? What if he is caught by the cops? Did any of this not go through his mind?
Perhaps I should be angry at Ron. After all, he knew for all of this time but stayed quiet, trying to convince Jimmie to stop by himself. When that failed, he should’ve came to me. We’re a band of brothers that always sticks together no matter what. Where did that go?
“So why not go to the local drag strip?” I finally managed to ask, having shifted through all the reasons for my anger. I could ask a thousand questions here, but there wasn’t much time before the second practice. Oh yeah, that’s right – I still had a job to do. I should be using this time to set up the car, not yell at my driver for being an idiot.
“That’s a controlled environment that has set rules,” he states and hence why I am asking the question. “This is an area that is totally loose, no rules and right out there. There’s a certain rush in going to find this back secluded road and making it happen. It adds to the adrenaline that you feel when you’re on the line, and gives the escape that you need because you’re lost in that world.” His reason doesn’t give me any relief, and it just makes my skin crawl that much more. Do I honestly know this guy anymore?
“I still can’t believe this….” He then grabs my hand, catching my attention. Obviously, he had more to say. Perhaps the fact that he found his brain.
“Look, I’m sorry to have caught you off-guard like this and I’m sorry for doing what may be viewed as the worst thing ever to do. I know I put all of us at risk, and everything that we worked for. I learned my lesson, okay?” Okay, so maybe he has found his brain. Meanwhile, he also found some person who stalked his new supposed girlfriend that he met there. “Now, are you going to have my back moving forward? Or am I going to be looking for a new best friend?” He should know the answer to that question. However, it does come with a stipulation. I’m not going through this, again.
“I’ll always have your back. Just promise me you won’t do this shit again.”
“I promise. Now, excuse me, while I go see Candiss and whether she got a hold of Dom.” I could only hope that this Dom dude meant true to his word and could help them out with regards to this stalker. It’s not like I totally trusted this guy yet, either, because I hadn’t even met him. There was no telling whether he could be trusted. What if he said that he’d keep Jimmie’s secret under wraps, but didn’t? “On the brighter note, Ron can tell you what it’s like to be there. Ask him what he did when he was 18.” I then turn away from Ron and glance at him with a surprised look. This can’t be happening. Someone wake me up from this nightmare.
“Is he serious?” I see Ron give Jimmie a glare and that answered my question before anything. Help me. “Malec?” His eyes then turn back to mine, and this should be interesting.
“Jimmie and I both got involved when we were in our teens through a friend in California,” he tells me and I just shake my head, once again in disbelief. It’s nice knowing that I’m working with a pair of street racers. That gives me so much job security. “I was involved in it right beside him through it all. I stopped when we moved out here – we both did. But, as you can see, he got back involved. I didn’t because I told him that I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t risk it.” Humanity is restored and knowing that at least one of them has a brain.
“Suddenly, you’re the smart one here.” I just hoped the other one kept his promise. Remind me to do random checks on him.
“Just don’t hold it against him, alright? Or Candiss. I’ve given her a hard time since meeting her, but she’s not that bad of a girl.” I hadn’t really placed judgment on Candiss, yet. She seemed alright in the time that is pent with her, but I wouldn’t truly judge till she was around for a couple weeks and I got to know her.
“Is she going to give it up, as well?” If things are going to go right, they’re both going to have to. Can’t have the world finding out that Jimmie’s girlfriend illegally street races.
“She says that she’s going to. She has been in some trouble along these roads before, so she’s ready to give it up because she likes what she has with Jimmie. They don’t want to lose each other.” I got to applaud a girl for standing up for her man like Candiss was. Perhaps I could start to like her a little. But, for now, there was one thing for certain.
“Till Dom gets here or whatever, let’s both keep an eye on him. Jimmie is easy to keep an eye on, but when you’re not working on the car – eyes on her.” Ron shakes his head in agreement as they both head out of the lounge. It was the only plan that we had. I didn’t want my friends getting hurt, and knowing that they had the team behind them to protect them should be enough.
I thank Steve and Dale for letting us use their lounge once again, sharing a couple quick notes from practice. I had imputed all the data, but it was always nice to discuss with teammates as there’s things that are always missed in notes. Considering that we’re both fast, it seemed like a reasonable discussion.
I walk over to the hauler, and notice the lounge door open. Obviously Jimmie and Candiss were done discussing whatever they had to discuss in relation to this Dom guy. If he was in North Carolina, it would probably take him time to get here.
“I’m sorry for getting you all involved and worked into this mess,” Candiss instantly apologizes before I can even say anything. The more I heard from this girl, the more I liked her.
“You just keep an eye on that man, stay away from the streets, and stay safe and we’ve got no problems,” I tell her. Even though I heard from Jimmie that he was quitting, and Candiss supposedly told Jimmie that she was as well, I wanted to make my point clear.
“That’s not a problem as he’s a pretty special guy.” I watch as Jimmie pulls her close. In a couple weeks, this won’t be cool new girl. This is going to turn into Chad needing to puke because of too much loviness going on.
“Candiss says that Dom is already on his way,” Jimmie states, immediately grabbing attention. So much for love gawking – back to the seriousness of the matter. “He was set to track them today, but couldn’t find them. Got the phone number tracked and knew they were in the area about three hours ago. He’s already on a plane – jet to be exact – and should be landing this evening. I’ve already gotten Amy to put him as a guest under our team, saying that he’s a friend of Candiss’ – which isn’t a lie.” So the big bad protector will be here this evening. That just leaves us the next three or four hours without protection.
“Well then she’s not going out of eyesight,” I state, surprising both of them. Oh so they didn’t think that I’d do anything. Too bad, Jimmie. You welcomed me into your little world and as a friend, I’m going to do what I have to do to keep you safe. “You can stay with Ron and I on top of the hauler during practice. After practice, you’re not to leave this hauler till Jimmie is done.”
“Yes father,” she replies and I just roll my eyes. Leave it to Jimmie to find someone with sass. Well, at least she can keep him in line.
“We’re having dinner with the teammates tonight so her evening plans are already covered,” Jimmie adds. That should be interesting. The boys will probably be staring at her ass and boobs, but I’d be interested to hear what Ingrid and Amy say.
“Good luck,” I tell them before heading off. I have a job to do, remember?
Chapter 58: Anger
I watch as Clayton drives up in his little Honda Hatchback and gets out of the car, giving me a glance. I could tell by his demeanor that he had saw her, and let her go once again.
Why did I keep this guy around?
“Well?” I question as he walks over to join the group.
“She was at the local Walmart doing some errands,” he tells me and duh, hence why she left the track in the car and went to the mall. Could he tell me something interesting? “I approached her and was set to corner her, but she pushed me away.” As predicted, he let her get away. Why do I trust him with the important business? Why did I keep him around? “I then followed her out of the parking lot till we reached the track. I couldn’t get in to the motorcoach lot because I didn’t have the required credentials.” So in those cases, we’ve all been traded to deal with security accordingly and get a hold of the person that we want. It seems like he missed a whole day of evil man training.
Why was he part of my group again?
“And because you scared her pretty ass off, she probably won’t make any repeat trips,” I state. “So that means that the only way we’re getting to her is getting in that motorcoach lot, or when we get back to North Carolina. Great job Clayton, great job.” I hope he catches the sarcasm because upon landing in North Carolina, he will have nothing to catch. Might as well call the family now and say bye, buddy.
“We could always get the credentials necessary.” Does he not know how NASCAR races work? I’m not a regular follower, but I damn well know that only family and close friends to the drivers get the credentials that allow them that access. How does he expect me to do so? Of course, I normally have a way with finding a leak in every system – but this system is a little harder.
“Those credentials just don’t come to the average person. Better think of something else, clever one.” I honestly couldn’t believe the people that I worked with sometimes. Perhaps I should work alone in the future. I could get a lot more done.
“You can’t get those credentials, but you could get closer to perhaps make your move,” I hear James speak up and give the Frenchman a look. How did he know anything about NASCAR? Wasn’t he only supposed to know about IndyCar and Formula 1, if anything? “You can get pre-race pit road passes. They give you access to pit road before the race. That’s where the drivers are, and she’ll probably be if she stays close to the teams.” That wasn’t a bad idea. I’d have to fork out a couple thousand for the group of us to go, but it would provide the access. If I was right about suspicions earlier that Jeff Gordon was the man with his blue eyes and professional background. That would allow me access to him. Then screw Candiss as I wouldn’t need her services anymore.
“Get on getting those tickets!” I yell at him, throwing a credit card his way. I knew the card had enough space for the purchase. Don’t ask about paying it, though, as that’d only happen if I found another million dollar payday. Although, I heard that fuel truck robberies would probably bring that. steal the truck and offer the gas cheaper than the gas stations in the black market and you could make big money. That was probably my next project. First project – finding this little idiot.
“Who did you say that the Stig could possibly be?” I hear Hillary Evans asks as she goes through some video footage. Considering our dear was at the track, I put her on watch to check every feed available from the NASCAR garage to see if she could be spotted.
“Jeff Gordon fits the profile being blue eyes, California native and professional racecar driver.” I watch as her eyes flip back to the screen, going through something that she’d recorded. At least her and James were doing their jobs.
“Spotted her about half hour into final Sprint Cup Series practice. They were showing what they call ‘the brain trust’ for Jimmie Johnson on top of his hauler – Chad Knaus being crew chief, and Ron Malec being car chief. She’s hanging out with them.” She also boarded the plane with them. That is interesting.
So what if the Stig is Jeff Gordon? Could she found that information out last Wednesday? Now she’s staking her claim to lure him in, as Clayton predicted. To do so, she’s allowing that relationship that was sparked with Jimmie at the diner, per sources anyway, to give her access. If that was the case, I give her credit for her work. However, it’d be nice for her to contact one of my people.
But….if you recall, she pushed away from Clayton. So obviously she is trying to keep her distance from us, covering up something. So she actually knows the identity. That brings me to my second argument – what if is Jimmie? What if that clue was given to purposely throw us off?
Why didn’t I question Malcolm harsher before I left North Carolina?
Either way, I wanted that girl and probably needed one of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the process.
“The tickets are confirmed!” Clayton lets out as Jason prints them off. He could’ve let Jason confirm that. Announcing something that he didn’t do to try and get my attention isn’t going to earn him brownie points.
“Thanks Captain Obvious!” I let out as I snatch the tickets out of the printer. “I think this confirms them better than you waking up the dead.”
“Should I cross-check Ron and Chad for anything?” Jason questions, having already tracked down the records for Jeff and Jimmie. Jeff was purely clean. Jimmie, meanwhile, had a speeding ticket to his record back when he was 19 and living in California. Hence why I was starting to believe he fit the profile more.
“Go for it.” I then lounge back in my chair, thinking. “Hilary, you’re done with video. I know enough now. Get a hold of Winston Dumal in California. Ask him if he recognizes the names ‘Jimmie Johnson’ and ‘Ron Malec’ beyond their simple fame.” She shakes her head, getting on that. Winston was a street racing contact that I had in California for when I was out that way. He’d make sure that whenever I showed up in the state, I could get in the biggest street races of the night without question. Let’s just say that he’s been a valuable asset in the past. If he could dig me something on either of those two, that would work even better for my future.
“So what’s the plan for tomorrow?” Clayton asks as I cast a glance his way. The plan was obvious – go to the track, spot them out and somehow go about kidnapping Candiss without sparking off security. We could possibly look at kidnapping a driver, but that’d be a tall order. They probably have their own walking security, right?
“You should know that if you’re in this room,” I tell him, growing more and more annoyed. I wonder if there’s a lake near here that I can drop him off in.
Chapter 59: His Arrival
I look into the mirror, making sure that my hair looks right as I had just finished getting it back up nice and neat. I know Jimmie said that there was no pressure about meeting the teammates that night, but I couldn’t help but make sure that I looked a little extra presentable. Everything was based on first impressions, and I didn’t want to screw that up.
Besides, I had already added too much drama to Jimmie’s life as it was anyway.
I smooth out my t-shirt and jeans, still not sure if this was right. Jimmie told me not to dress up too fancy and just wear something that was relaxing. This was relaxing and looked good – but was I down playing things too much? I couldn’t worry much longer anyway if I wanted to as he was set to be ready in about five to 10 minutes, grabbing a quick shower.
Did you realize how stinky they get in those firesuits?
“You look good, by the way,” I hear and immediately smile as I glance behind me. As soon as I heard the door open to the motorcaoch with the keypad code clicked in, I knew who it was. I had given him the directions, after all. It also seemed like the perfect time that he would get here.
“Thank you,” I reply as I walk up to him and give him a hug. “I’m meeting Jimmie’s teammates tonight with a little dinner so I’m a little nervo-”
“So Clayton was almost able to get his hands on you?” I take a deep breath, shaking my head a little. Leave it to Dom to get straight to business without hesitation.
“Yeah. He approached me when I was leaving Wal-Mart, but I imagined to push him away and get back here.”
“And what did I tell you about going out on your own? You’re supposed to stay safe, Candiss. You’re supposed to lay low with Jimmie.” Not only was he always serious and on point, but he was always looking out for friends. Nothing new.
“Listen, we needed a couple things so I ran to the store. I didn’t think that they’d be in Kansas with us. But anyways, with what happened, I’m not allowed out of sight due to Ron and Chad.” I notice an instant look of confusion on Dom’s face at the mention of the two names. Okay, so I guess I could’ve given him more explanation.
“Chad Knaus is my crew chief, and Ron Malec is my car chief,” Jimmie speaks up before I get a chance. “They’re in charge of my crew. Ron knew about my street racing since I was a young guy, and we figured that we better tell Chad so he knows what’s going on. Don’t worry – they’re going to keep it on the down low.” I see a relaxed expression on Dom’s face as that was probably the right explanation. Perhaps it was best leaving that to Jimmie.
“Those two are good people,” Dom comments. “As far as Clayton and the guys, they probably saw you at the airport or something and followed. That, or caught you on camera during a practice or something. Either way, when I found out they were here, I came immediately.”
“So what’s the plan?” I question as obviously that’s the next step. What else was there to find out?
“You’re going to keep doing what you’re doing. Hobbs should have the information for an arrest put together tomorrow and I can get them off your tails then. You just stay close with Jimmie and enjoy the weekend and Jimmie, you do what you do best.” Jimmie smiles as he wraps an arm around me.
“That’s the plan,” he replies. “Chad has given me a good car.” That was true as he was solid during practice. He wasn’t the quickest, but he was in the top-10 and wasn’t complaining about the car a lot. According to Ron, that means really good news as a good handling car allows you to be in position to capitalize on those who are struggling with their cars being loose or tight.
“So where are you going tonight?” Dom then questions and I felt guilty now. He had come across the country and here we were going to go to dinner without including him. That felt a little rude, I’d say.
“We’re going over to my teammate’s motorcoach for dinner. He offered because he wants to meet my girlfriend. It’s normal teammate behavior. You could come. We’ll just say that you’re a special guest.” I have to admit – it was nice for Jimmie to offer that. It made me feel a little better. However, I couldn’t help but be nervous.
How would they react to Dom? How would Dom react to them? I already had my reactions, and some of it wasn’t as smooth as you’d expect.
This was going to be an interesting dinner.
Chapter 60: Dinner
“Are you ready, finally?” I ask as I glance over at Candiss. She had returned to the mirror for what seemed like the millionth time to look over her outfit. “Candiss, it’s fine. They’ll love you no matter what.”
“Fine – let’s go,” she finally gives in. we then head out, making the short walk over to Jeff’s motorcoach. According to earlier arrangements, Jeff was to set-up a little cook-out as his place for us all to hang out. It seemed like an easy plan.
I lead the group over, immediately earning some curious glances from others in the group. No doubt they were surprised to see our little tag along. I thought about leaving him back at the motorcoach, but that wouldn’t be nice. He was doing all this work to protect my ass after the trouble that I had gotten myself into. It’d be rude to be impolite and not invite him. Besides, he had a thing for cars – it seemed – and that’d bode well for conversation with the guys as Candiss got to know Amy and Ingrid.
“This is my girlfriend Candiss,” I tell the teammates as I watch their eyes scan over. So far, so good. “Oh, and this is her buddy Dominic. He came down to hang out for the weekend and it didn’t feel right to leave him out.” There – simple as that. Now we wait for the questions.
“It’s nice to meet you both,” Amy states first, holding her hand out. It was honestly surprising that she was the first welcoming face in the group. However, that seemed right based on Dale’s description of her. She was the type of person who liked to do things and was a social butterfly, kind of opposite of Dale’s shy side. It seemed to work well as she complimented him and had honestly brought out a real nice happiness in him. There were times that I was even a little jealous of what they had. Don’t need to be anymore as I can tell you already that Candiss is the perfect fit for me. “I’m Amy.”
“It’s nice to meet you Amy,” Candiss replies, politely. So far, so good.
“Nice to see you,” Dom states, also shaking her hand. See, I had nothing to be worried about.
“That’s Kasey,” I state, pointing over to Kasey who was relaxing at the far side of the group. If only he could settle down a little and find someone that fit. It seemed the girls that he hung with were….well, track material but not long-term material. I think you get my drift. “That’s Jeff, cooking. Don’t worry – he’s a decent chef. We should be fine. Ingrid is his wife. You’ve met Amy, and that’s her dear boyfriend Dale.” I could feel the eyes of the teammates as I introduced everybody. Ah yes, the introductions did seem a little odd. “Candiss wasn’t into NASCAR much before we met, so hence the introductions. Dom…I’m not sure…”
“I’ve watched a couple races. I know a couple faces here.” They say you learn something new each day, and that Dom has more interests outside of street racing and cars. Who knew!
“So, if you weren’t into NASCAR, where’d you guys meet?” Amy asks as the three of us take a seat. That’s a good question. It’s not like we could say the truth, now could we? It’d be a great thing to reveal to all my teammates what is going on. I’m sure that’d go over well.
“You know the diner in town that Tyler Benni-” Candiss starts and I smile. Well played. We did technically meet face-to-face first there, so I guess that works. That started the connection and then it just grew through the streets.
“Everybody knows that place! Their chicken is awesome!”
“Well, I was working as a waitress. Jimmie came in and let’s just say he was a little flirt. Next thing, he asked me if I’d join him this weekend.” That seems fitting. I did flirt with her from the beginning, and I did ask her to join me for a weekend. The only reason she was here was because of David and Clayton, but it fit. It’s technically not lying.
“Jimmie flirting?” Jeff questions with a glance over my way. “Seriously? Where’d that come from?” So yes, flirting was something that I didn’t do often. I’m more the type of guy to stick to business, and hanging with friends – but not girls. I’d rather be having a fun day goofing off with my buddies or wrenching on a car than flirting with girls. It was out of my element to just randomly flirt. What changed that day? Simple.
“I guess her beauty just brought that side out of me,” I comment with a smile as I look over at her. “That, and her genuine personality. It was hard to hold back any feelings.”
“Not to mention the fact that I may have edged him on by not allowing him an inch,” she adds and I can only chuckle. She’s right about that. Between her hardcore attitude in the diner and her hardcore racing style, she didn’t give me any room.
“But yet I still found a way to charm you, didn’t I?” She then chuckles as she ruffles up my hair.
“They’re already doing the adorable thing together,” Jeff comments as he glances towards Kasey. “You’re next! We can fix you up with someone, if you want.” Kasey immediately shakes his head no as I chuckle. Yeah, that may be a bad idea. The last time we fixed someone up on a blind date – I believe it was Ron, actually – the girl turned out to be someone that was wanted by murder. She was arrested while at dinner with him. I didn’t hear the end of that for weeks on end.
“We promise to do a criminal background check first this time,” I add as Jeff chuckles and Kasey rolls his eyes. He heard the story when it happened, and he made us swear not to fix him up with someone.
“It’s hard to find someone that can balance being on the road during the season and dealing with my dirt schedule,” he shares, and I can reason that. It was always a lot to ask for someone to give up their life to be with us on the road for our own selfish reasons. It took a lot to be involved in this world. A glance towards Candiss, and I still wondered to myself if she truly knew that side of it. Could she handle traveling me with weeks on end? Shake my head, I can worry about that later. For now, I got to focus on furthering our relationship and surviving Rhodes.
“We both found it so you’ll find it Kasey,” Dale comments. “It took me some time, but I can’t complain.”
“There’s a soul out there for each person to be matched with,” Dom starts as I glance towards him curiously. “Each person will find their second half in the right amount of time. It just takes finding that person and connecting with them. You’ll find it. I found someone who can take everything that I dish out, so you can find someone that takes your life too.” Perhaps Dom gave away too much in that as now everybody may be curious as to his daily life schedule. However, he made a good point. I knew of the wrongs that he had done, and the ways that he had gone to correct those ways. But through it all, Candiss had told me that Letty had stayed by his side – okay, except for a small period of time but that wasn’t Letty’s fault. That’s a story for another time. Anyways….that takes a lot of guts to do that.
“I could always fix you up with someone from the diner,” Candiss suggests and that’s not a bad idea. Tyler had a great group of girls that worked for him and we knew they were kind at heart.
“For the last time, I do not want anyone playing cupid with my heart,” Kasey states. “Can’t we talk about something else, please?” Let’s just say that Kasey doesn’t like when we pick on his love life. We can pick on him for looking like a teenager and being an ass at times, but his love life was off limits.
“What would like to talk about, Mr. Kahne?” My eyes darted between the pair, watching as their eyes stared at each other. It was like they knew each other. Wait….perhaps they knew each other. See, I knew about Kasey’s stunt with street racing. I heard about the tales and how he worked with some girl. He talked about possibly hooking me up with her, but I avoided that. I hadn’t seen him the past couple of weeks at the strip, or the girl. I wondered what happened there.
“So we heard how you both met. We also know that you’re just getting an interest in NASCAR. What interests do you both have in common?” Yep, Kasey knew exactly who she was and he also knew my side of the coin. This was just going to be….interesting.
“We have similar interests in movies and music,” she starts, which was partially a lie….I guess. We hadn’t discussed that much. “We both understand each other well and can always have a great conversation about anything. Oh, and we both like classic muscle cars.” That line right there peaked Kasey’s interest as that’s what he wanted her to say. What are you doing, Kahne?
“Got a classic car of your own?” If he is trying to get her to say something about what happened….
“I have a ’71 Camaro. It’s a pretty sweet ride. It goes perfect with Jimmie’s Camaro.” I smile as it certainly did. The pair sitting beside each other in the garage just looked beautiful. I wondered what would happen to them when things were over.
“Very nice. Perhaps I’ll have to come see it sometime and you can come see my ride.” If I didn’t have anything nice to say, I’d say that he was flirting with my girl. Doesn’t that sound like flirting to you? That, or he was digging to learn more about her street racing since he knew that she was a street racer. Either way, I was ready to kick his ass by the end of the night if this continued.
“Maybe we can get together and discuss our love for classic cars and show off what we each have,” I break in, wanting to really feel his game. Might as well figure out what he’s up to.
“You read my mind, Jimmie,” Kasey states with a smile. Yep, he wants to know about her street racing and that relates to how we met. Son of a gun! We weren’t supposed to talk about that after….
“Oh, of course I did. I know your love for classic cars.” I then throw an arm around Candiss. Time to cover our butts for this conversation before something slipped. “We always share details about cars and stuff. I had to know that he’d ask since I always told him that if I met a girl, she had to be fine with my love for cars.”
“He honestly had very few requirements for a girlfriend,” Jeff starts and I relax. That’s right – get the conversation back on track. “He told us that she had to be pretty, had to really understand him, share his interest in cars, and….I think that was it.”
“That sounds right,” Dale states as I smile. Candiss fit those requirements and more.
“Seems like I pass the test,” she states with a glance towards me. I can only smile.
“And you were worried about coming over and meeting the guys,” I reply before kissing her lips quick. Perhaps she knew the truth about Kahne beforehand. Maybe that added to her nerves.
“Wait – you were nervous?” Ingrid questions and I shake my head. “Girl, you have nothing to worry about. As long as you’re a sweet person, not a lizard and Jimmie likes you, we are willing to accept you. There’s no special requirements for friendship.”
“Food is ready!” Jeff announces as we all get up and head over to get some food.
So far, so good. Even with the minor crisis surrounding Kasey, I say we’re off to a good start here this evening. I knew she’d be fine once she got to know everybody.