The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 68: Food City 500 (Con’t)

Sunday, April 15 – Bristol Motor Speedway

It’d been a quiet period of time waiting for the rain to pass, but it also didn’t seem like it’d be stopping anytime soon. It was at that time that NASCAR made the decision to regroup and come back on Monday to try and finish the rest of the Food City 500.

“Considering the car is wrecked and we’re out of it, we could just pack up,” Kenny suggests, catching a glance from Chase. “I know you’ve been through quite a bi-”

“Everything that happened last week has no effect on me standing here right now, or coming back tomorrow,” Chase cuts him off, which caught the crew chief by surprise. Kenny could also tell that it wasn’t the full truth, either. “Besides, we are spending another weekend working together. Let’s use tomorrow as practice for getting to know each other more, and then maybe we can make something work in Richmond.”

“If that’s what you want to do, I’m as committed as you are and I’ll see you tomorrow.” Chase nods his head with a small smile as he goes to head off. “Chase?” Chase then stops, glancing back towards Kenny. “I have no clue what happened this past week, or what Alan and Jordan know. But I will say this – whatever it is that happened between yourself, Sarina, and Alison, I hope it works out. I hope that you’re able to work your way through whatever feelings you’re having. I hope they’re able to find her so you can put your mind at peace. If you want to talk, you know my door is always open…”

“I appreciate that, Kenny, but I’m going to be fine.” Chase takes a pause, followed by a deep breath as everything flashes before his eyes once again. “I don’t think I could bring myself to talk to you about it, if I’m being honest. I just can’t find those words. But I appreciate the offer.”

“Anytime. Remember, we’re all family and we will do whatever we need to do for each other.” Chase nods his head, not needing a reminder considering Alan’s past couple of instances.

Monday, April 16 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Chase shakes his head as he glances out the window of the motorcoach. It was supposed to be nicer weather today, and get the rest of the race done – but yet it seemed worse. How did they get to the point of sleet falling at Bristol?

He then hears a knock at the door, and rolls his eyes at first. He had half-expected it to be one of the crew members with concerns for him, giving his distance through the weekend. Could you blame him for what had happened just the week before? And how could you expect him to say something? It wasn’t something he wanted everybody knowing.

He was caught off-guard when he opened the door, though, seeing his dad standing there instead. Since seeing his parents at the hospital after he woke up, he hadn’t seen them much since, focused solely on the racing that weekend and wanting to avoid everything concerning Alison.

“Hey,” Chase says quietly as he backs away from the door, watching his dad follow him back up inside.

“Hey,” Bill replies as he keeps his eyes on Chase, watching him closely. “How are you?” Chase sits down on the couch, half-expecting the conversation to come.

“I’m alright. I told you on Friday that I was fin-”

“I know what you said, Chase. I listen when you talk to me. But it’s been some time since then, and clearly everything has been on your mind more than likely. Can I guess that it’s still bothering you?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks back out the window.

“I woke up Friday night, as well as last night in the middle of the night because I was thinking about Alison. I was worried that she was going to show up once again. I was worried that she’d try to do something even further pushing because of her frustration in what happened. I was also sick and disgusted about what happened.” Chase then looks back towards his dad. “Is that what you wanted to hear, rather than my cover-up that I’ve told everyone?”

“It’s a start, if I’m being honest. We talked about it when you woke up in the hospital – your feelings, what happened, and the fact that you pani-”

“I was scared for Sarina. I had just watched her get shot after being kidnapped for a whole week. That didn’t have to do with what Alison did.” Bill takes a deep breath, trying to stay as calm as possible despite being frustrated as ever with Chase.

“Sure, that explains what happened. But what about Jordan and Alan finding you in the bathroom, sick and disgusted, having been up crying most of the night? That’s what worries me, Chase. The fact that you’re avoiding dealing with those feelings by putting it off as if nothing happened. I bet you haven’t said anything to anyon-”

“I brought it on mysel-”

“She sexually assaulted yo-”

“I made the deal, didn’t I?” Chase takes a deep breath as he glances back out the window. “I accepted it for Sarina’s safety, and I have to live with the consequences, whatever those may be. I’m dealing with it.” Bill rolls his eyes as he knew that wasn’t the case.

“Avoiding discussion isn’t dealing with it, Chase. You need to get a battle handle on it. When I mentioned what she did to you, you couldn’t even look me in the eye. You were about to break down in tears – but hey, there’s nothing remaining right? I let it go that day at the hospital because you were right, seeing Sarina was the most important thing that day.” Bill reaches out and places a hand on Chase’s, catching his attention. “Stop hiding it. I know you’re hurting, and it hurts me more than anything to see you like this…”

“I just want to forget it happened. I just want to find out that she’s been caught and I never have to see her again. Can we please just not tal-”

“Avoiding the topic isn’t going to make it go away, Chase. You need to talk about this with someone.” Bill reaches with his other hand into his pocket, pulling out a booklet and placing it down on the couch, catching Chase’s attention.

“There’s no way I’m talking to a complete stranger about this, Dad…” Bill takes a deep breath.

“I know it’s a daunting task, but that’s why there are psychiatrists. They can help you with your feelings because even beyond what she did this past week, she’s been messing with you for awhile now. Everybody can see that.” Chase rolls his eyes.

“Right, because that’s just how I am. Nobody believes that I can handle this and am stron-”

“Are you serious right now? Listen to yourself for a second. If you ask me, I have no question about how strong you are in how you’ve been able to face what she’s thrown at you, and keep everything else in your life in order. Not a lot of people could say or do that. I’m just trying to give you a way to stop fighting the silent fight anymore. Talk to someone, please. Take this number and call it, or talk to me, talk to Sarina, talk to your mom, talk to Jordan, or even talk to Alan. Just talk to someone and address your feelings, please…”

“I’ll think about it, okay?” Chase takes the booklet and places it up on the table. “Dad, I’ve got this. I don’t need you treating me like a kid anymore. I’ll be fine…”

He then stands up, grabs his phone and sunglasses off the table, before heading out to go to pit road. Bill could only glance in the direction he headed, and let out a sigh.

“Bill?” Sarina asks, catching his attention. “Please tell me he’s going to be okay….”

“He’ll be okay,” Bill replies as he gets up and walks over to her. “I know he’ll be okay. I just wish he would make it easier on himself…”

It was a long day, but their attitude paid off as they were able to gain some positions – and with every point mattering to qualify for the playoffs, they weren’t going to complain. But even with that said, Chase was certainly glad to be heading out of Bristol.

“I love you,” Sarina comments as he comes out of the back room after getting changed out of his firesuit.

“I love you, too,” he replies, lightly kissing her lips as she wraps her arms around him.

“You’ve been here for me through everything, and even are still here for me. I wouldn’t be able to make my XFINITY Series debut next weekend if it wasn’t for you being there, holding my hand, listening to me, letting me grow, and helping me be a better person. I can’t thank you enough for everything that you’ve done. We’re a team, Chase, so let me be here for you now. Talk to me about Alison, your feelings, your fears, how you feel. I’m willing to listen to you.” He watches as she lays her head against his chest, letting out a sigh as he rests his chin on top of her head.

“I wish I could just tell you everything, spill my guts out here and now. I wish I could just make the feelings go away by pouring them out. I wish I could do what you want – but I can’t. I can’t bring myself to say what happened….” She then glances up into his eyes.

“Is it because of the shame? Or something else?” He shrugs his shoulders as he wraps his arms around her.

“I don’t know, honestly. But I do appreciate you being here, and I love you. Nothing will ever change that.” She then lays her head back against his chest.

“Chase, I’ll always be here, forever and always….”

Friday, April 20 – Richmond Raceway

Chase makes his way into the garage area, a smile fixated on his face as he stops by the car.

“I don’t want to be insensitive here, but that smile normally means something….” Jordan starts as he leans over from the other side of the NAPA Chevrolet. He had wanted to make the dip in that something had happened, but didn’t want to push his luck just yet. He could only guess that the topic of sexual contact was still a sensitive subject.

“Check the XFINITY leaderboard and then get back to me,” Chase offers, earning a curious glance from Jordan. However, he did as requested, seeing that Sarina had ended both XFINITY series practice sessions ranked third on the board.

“She looks like no damn rookie out there!” Chase shakes his head no with a smile of his own.

“And the odd thing? She wasn’t using the bottom lane. Justin pointed it out, and I noticed watching, that she was using the middle groove instead of the bottom.” Jordan was now even more impressed as he kept his eyes on his driver.

“Are you going to try and steal a secret from your girlfriend now?” Chase just gives him back a wink as Jordan laughs. “Hey, whatever makes ya happy is all that matters, right?”

“We just need to survive this week and our boss is back next week.” Jordan nods his head in agreement as he makes his way over to Chase.

“You know, Alan told me to keep an eye on you.” Chase glances over intrigued. “He was worried about how you were feeling, and how Kenny would treat things. I mean, we both know what happ-”

“I don’t want to talk about tha-”

“Let me guess – you haven’t said a single word about that to anyone all week, have you?” Chase lets out a sigh as he lays his head on the roof of the car. “As Alan predicted. Look, we’re both just worried about you and being that we’re the only ones that know besides Sarina and your parents, we’re the only ones that can truly be here for you – unless you tell someone else.”

“Jordan, please…..” Jordan places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“I know you’re going to take your time and do this at your own pace and do whatever the hell you want with it. But please, don’t keep putting it off. You’re just going to make it worse. It’s like you’ve always said – don’t give someone the power to eat at you. What have you been doing with Alison for months? Don’t give her this power.” Chase glances over at the interior mechanic.

“And how am I supposed to just remove that power without question? The minute that I go to let my guard down is the minute that she strikes and does something.” Jordan nods his head, having seen the pattern over the past couple of months.

“So making yourself sick in thought is better? That doesn’t sound healthy, Chase. But hey, it’s your life.” Jordan walks away as Chase just lets out a long sigh.

Hopefully he wouldn’t have to deal with this much longer as he’d get the news they’d been waiting to hear all along. For now, though, he could use his racecar as a good distraction with the pair of practice sessions.

The first practice went amazing as he was comfortable in race trim through most of the session, and managed to top the speed chart with a qualifying trim run at the very end.

The second practice didn’t show the speed on the chart (25th), but that wasn’t Kenny’s focus as he was more focused on getting Chase comfortable over the long run. Given the pair of the practices, he had to admit that he was confident going into Saturday night’s race.

Chase makes his way into the garage area, hopping up onto the shelf with a sigh as Kenny glances over.

“For someone who just qualified second for the race, you don’t look happy,” Kenny comments as Chase looks over his way.

“Trust me – qualifying second is great, as is Sarina starting up front tonight too,” Chase replies as Kenny was now confused. “There’s more to life than that, though.” Kenny hated to intrigue on his driver’s personal lives when he worked with them, but the confusion pushed him to do so anyway.

“Enlighten me…” Chase rolls his eyes as he wanted to just forget about it.

“Media center, post qualifying. Did you not hear how they implied cheating on purpose, pressure getting to us, tension in the team?” Kenny nods his head, having watched the feed, and laughed through it all. “Alan and I have the best friendship, ever, and yet we’ve got to deal with that? They don’t understa-”

“When did it matter to you what they said, Chase? They’re just fishing for a story.” Chase lets out a sigh as he knew that was the case.

“I also had the autograph session – which by the way, it went great for the most part as the fans were awesome. But of course, someone has to remind me that she’s alive.” Kenny was now ultra confused, and even a little worried.

“Alison?” Chase lets out a sigh as he nods his head, pulling his phone out of his pocket. He loads a photo of the note, having handed the original over the authorities, before handing the phone over to Kenny. “Just because I’ve left you alone for a couple weeks doesn’t mean I’m done with you. We were just getting started…” Kenny looks up at Chase. “Did she hand it to you herself?”

“No, she left a note lying around with my name on it and someone handed it to me – typical Alison style.” Kenny just shakes his head in disgust as he hands the phone back over.

“That’s just sick and retarded. But hey, everybody is watching for her-”

“They have been for the past several months and we’ve had nothing happen. She was within feet of police officers and managed to escape.” Kenny almost felt his barrier drop immediately as he watched his young driver.

“For whatever it is worth, I believe it will work out. she’ll be found, caught, and eliminated from your life – and she won’t pull anything else ever again. I know that because of how many people have your back, and how strong you are. No matter what she throws at you, you can push it away.” Chase glances up at the crew chief.

“I used to believe that, until she played my greatest weaknesses and vulnerabilities against me. Now, I don’t know how much I can take…” Kenny almost wanted to reach out, but resisted doing so as he wasn’t sure where things stood with them together.

“You’re still standing here, right? You’re still pushing forward. You were able to keep a straight face all last weekend. That should say something, right?” Chase wanted to believe that as he kept saying that, wanting to use that strength to actually move forward, but he also felt stuck.

“What if while I put on this great front it is tearing me apart inside slowly? I can’t even begin to describe how sick she makes me feel. The thought of her makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t even want to think about the feelings that I had….” Chase takes a deep breath as he feels the emotions coming to the forefront once again.

“But the only way that you’re going to see them through-”

“I know I need to talk about them to someone, Kenny. You’re not the first person to tell me that. Sarina has told me that. Jordan has told me that. My dad told me that. Alan told me that. But how do you talk about something that makes you so sick?” Kenny wasn’t even sure where to go with it as he shook his head.

“I don’t know because I’ve never been in your shoes before. You could always make sure you’re comfortable, knowing that she can’t hurt you from memories, knowing that you will be okay.” Kenny then looks over at Chase with sympatric eyes. “I wish I could tell you some magic cure…”

“I wish there was some potion that I could drink that would make me forget everything that happened – every single motion, feeling, entrapment. But I can’t get that wish either.”

“Life isn’t meant to be easy, Chase. But for what it’s worth, you have the right friends around you and I know you’ll find that answer you’re looking for.”

“When?” Kenny shrugs his shoulders.

“I don’t know, but hopefully sooner than later. Stay strong, it’ll work out…” Kenny then heads off, leaving Chase to think over his thoughts.

“I hope you’re right, Kenny…..”

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story — Chapter 66: Zombie 150

Thursday, April 12 – Nashville, Tennessee

Bill sat by the bed as quiet as could be, just waiting for something, anything out of Chase. He knew he would be waking up soon, and could only imagine what would be on his mind.

He didn’t have much longer to think about what to say, as eyes were slowly opening before him.

“Where am I?” Chase’s first words were as he pulled against the restraints that bound his wrists.

“Easy…..,”Bill encourages as he places a hand on each of Chase’s, staring him straight in the eyes. “You’re in the hospital. Take a deep breath and calm down, you’ll be ok.” Chase tried to focus on his father’s words, but the restraints didn’t feel comfortable.

“Can you get these removed, please? Why the hell are they even on me?” Alan sneaks out of the room as Bill keeps his eyes on Chase.

“Panic attack. In case you woke up freaking ou-”

“Sarina!” It was like everything that happened came to him that minute. “Dad, please….”

“She’s okay. The bullet just glazed the shoulder. Some stitches, no internal damage, and a bandage, and she’s good to go. Kyle and Sam are with her. She’s okay….” Chase nods his head. That was all that mattered as he had done everything for her.

“Alison?” Bill takes a deep breath, knowing this wouldn’t go well.

“She got away.” Chase was ready to curse up a storm, cry, anything as that meant the games weren’t over yet. “They told me when you woke up, they wanted to check you ov-”

“I’m fine, Dad. I just want to see Sarina.” Bill understood, but felt more comfortable following the doctor’s instructions.

“Let them check you out, please. There may be something you haven’t noticed. Also, I would accept the preventative STD medicine because you never know, right? A test wouldn’t hurt anyone, either. Isn’t peace of mind meaningful? They also want to give you a tetanus shot due to what happened, and they ordered a rape ki-”

“She didn’t rape me-“

“She still sexual assaulted you, molested you – everything possible without actually raping you. There are still a lot of effects. You don’t need to pretend it doesn’t bother you.” Chase glances away from his dad, feeling the familiar hot tears. “Chase, talk to me, please….”

“All that matters is Sarina is oka-”

“You may have accepted her offer, done what you believed was right, but you don’t need to suffer alone.” Chase takes a deep breath as the doctor comes in.

“I’m fine…”He then holds up his hands as high as he can. “Can we get this over with, please?”

The entire process didn’t take long, but it was still longer than Chase would’ve preferred. The constant prodding, pokes from needles certainly weren’t well received. However, eventually he was left to the condition they didn’t want to him leave yet, but he could go see Sarina.

It wasn’t a long walk to her room, but it may have as well been. It also didn’t hurt that reaching her room, he stood frozen in the doorway, thankful she was okay, but also disgusted at what had happened due to Alison’s intensions for him. Taking a deep breath, he gets his wits about him as he watches both Kyle and Sam exit together. He then slowly makes his way in, sitting beside her bed in the chair.

“Chase……” Sarina says quietly, reaching her hand out to touch his. “I’m okay, trust me.” He pulls the pink diamond ring from his pocket, slipping it on her finger slowly. “Say something….”

“I’m glad you’re okay,” he says quietly, before kissing her hand. “You never should’ve been put in that situation.” She knew he blamed himself, just like the last time. Except now it probably felt 10 times worse.

“Chase, it is not your fault, none of this. You don’t need to shoulder the blame, just like you told me about my brother. Don’t do that to yourself.” He takes a deep breath, slowly nodding his head. ”I saw what she did. I know she did more beyond that. You don’t need to be strong for me, Chase. You can tell me how you feel.”

“Disgusted, sick, violated, angry, upset – I couldn’t sleep last night because I kept picturing it over and over.” He then glances down at her hand. “I broke our commitment to us, and I think that hurts more than ever.”

“I’m not mad at you. I know why you did it. There is no telling what she would have done otherwise. So I actually thank you for being willing to suffer through that for my sake. I love you, Chase.” She then leans over, kissing his cheek lightly. His breath hitched at the first simple thought of her touch, but calmed in how tenderness and light she was. He even stayed relaxed when she went in for a second kiss, this time on the lips. “It doesn’t change how I feel about you. If anything, I thank you and am proud of your strength. We are going to be okay. You will get through this.”

“Thank you…..” He then looks up, smiling a little as he looks into her eyes.

“Now, can we cuddle already?” He nods his head, climbing up in the bed beside her. “Whenever you want to talk, I’m here for you.”

“I just want to hold you….” She had no reservations about that, allowing him to wrap his arms around her, laying her head against his chest. “I heard the news about your XFINITY debut. I’m proud of you. You absolutely deserve that opportunity.”

Friday, April 13 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Chase walks into the garage, ready for a weekend of fun. Anything to rid of the thoughts of the past week was welcome in his books. He also wasn’t about to take for granted that Sarina was back with him, too.

“Should you be here?” Kenny Francis asks as he watches the pair walk into the garage. Chase just glances over at Sarina a little surprised before looking back towards the crew chief.

“I’m fine, Kenny,” Chase says as Kenny just nods.

“What about you?” Jordan wonders as he walks over to them.

“My shoulder is sore but I am fine,” Sarina says. “It’ll heal eventually but I am ready for this weekend.” She then gives Chase a little kiss on the cheek. “Have fun.” She then heads out, ready to find her crew.

“First run in 15 minutes,” Kenny says before walking away to find Josh. Jordan, meanwhile, had his eyes locked on driver with secret in hand.

“Are you okay?” Jordan asks as he wraps an arm around Chase’s shoulders.

“I said I was fi-” Chase starts, almost annoyed. Jordan was making this harder than necessary.

“You don’t need to hide it with me…..” Chase lets out a sigh as he leans back against the car.

“It’s better today than yesterday, okay? With knowing she is back, she is okay, and we are going to be fine – it helps. But I would be lying if I said it doesn’t bother me at all. I still feel sick thinking about it, but I accepted the deal so I’ll deal with it. And before you start, I know it is not my fault as it is Alison’s for manipulating me based on my emotions, but I still need to convince myself of that.” Jordan nods his head accepting, as he leans back beside him.

“Well, I’m always here for you.” Chase takes a deep breath, debating if he should say something.

“You know, it affected me more than I realized. I thought having Sarina back would make me feel better instantly. But when she went to kiss me, I pulled back. I was almost scared to feel her touch. How is that fair? I love her, I know I am safe with her – but I couldn’t almost stand her touch and that was a simple kiss. What if I do the same when she wants more?”

“Give it time, you’ll come around. It’s all part of the feeling of disgust, betrayal. You’ll grow comfortable again.” Chase glances out of the garage.

“I just wish they’d catch her already. I think that’s what bothers me the most is the fact she is still out there, lingering, and could do something agai-”

“You can’t let her get into your head like that. She isn’t going to get another chance.” Chase lets out a sigh.

“I wish I could believe you….” Chase then fixes his shoes once more before climbing in the car.

The Cup practice went smoothly, as he and Kenny found common ground quickly. Despite wishing they had more speed being 26th on the board, he couldn’t complain too much about the handling being that it was just a little snug.

He then spent the K&N practice atop the hauler, eyes focused on his girl. While she had kept assuring him that morning she was fine, he couldn’t help but be nervous. Sure, the bullet had just glazed her skin – but that was a bullet regardless how you said it. What if she was more sore than she was willing to admit? Thankfully, though, her thoughts were more accurate than his, as she ended the session second on the charts behind Harrison.

The rest of the day went smoothly, as Cup qualifying saw no issues with a solid top-20 effort. Of course, the evening was made sweeter by Sarina winning the K&N pole.

“Are you okay?” Chase asks her as they head back to the motorcoach following photos.

“Is that even a question after watching me win the pole?” She questions and he just chuckles, before turning back serious.

“I mean it…” She glances over, clutching his hand.

“I’m okay, trust me. I may need some ice tonight but I am fine to run 150 laps tomorrow. I just need you to change the bandage.” He nods his head, accepting. That wasn’t a bad compromise.

Saturday, April 14 – Bristol Motor Speedway

It was no lie – last night was longer than Chase hoped for, unable to sleep with thoughts swirling in every direction. Sarina offered as much comfort as she could, and eventually he was able to get to sleep.

“We could get Justin to run the car,” Kenny suggested after hearing details.

“I’ll be fine,” Chase assured him. “Besides, we need to get more time together.” Chase then climbs in the car, getting the belts all tight.

“Is he always like this?” Jordan just nods his head.

“He will use racing as his distraction until he is ready to tell us,” Jordan comments. “He’ll be fine…” Jordan then kneels down, ready to stick to business as usual.

The pre-practice worries didn’t last long, as the speed was there immediately, with Chase timing in 10th and second quickest in the two sessions. It was also nice to have time to not think about Alison, but rather focus on the car and adjustments. The post-practice breakdown was filled with so much fun, it went longer than anticipated – with Josh being the one to realize the XFINITY race had finished, and the K&N race was ready to go.

Knowing he wanted to see her before the green, Chase hurried out to the grid as everyone was getting ready to go.

“I just want to pop in and say good luck,” he says, catching her attention.

“How come you haven’t changed yet?” She wonders, surprised.

“I was having fun with the guys….” She smiles as it was actually nice to see him having fun with a good distraction. “Go kick some ass, okay? I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Not even caring that he was still in his firesuit, he made his way up on top of the pit box, ready to take in the action. The race started off well with Sarina leading the first 50 laps. Unfortunately, she would get a little too tight, fading back to third by the checkered.

Standing on pit road post-race, she couldn’t help but be disappointed. But there was no sad faces in knowing she got beat by her besties, Todd and Harrison. She even chuckled when Todd offered to share his sword with her, if he got to keep the trophy and zombie.

“You can use it on someone,” he said with a slight chuckle.

“Yeah, that’d be perfect,” she replies, noticing how Chase tensed up a little. “Are you okay?” He nods his head as he takes a deep breath. She then wraps both her arms around him, leaning her head against his chest. “We are going to be okay, Chase. We have each other, always.”

 

The Tale of Love and Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 65: “How did you know?”

Thursday April 12, 2018 – Nashville, Tennessee

Jordan grips the door handle, turning it as he enters the adjoined room with Alan in toe. Given how late in the morning it was and not a single word heard from Chase yet, the pair figured they better check on him.

They hear what could be assumed to be tears coming from the bathroom – taking a glance at each other, before making their way in that direction. Jordan glances in the room first, feeling his heart break immediately.

“Chase?” He calls out quietly, earning a small glance from Chase as he glances over their direction. Chase could only let out a sigh, leaning back against the wall as he runs his hands through his hair. There was no strength left anymore to put on a good face for them. “Are you okay?”

“This is just making me sick to my stomach,” Chase confesses as he lets out a sigh. Jordan slowly makes his way into the bathroom, sitting down on the floor beside him. “I tried to sleep last night – but I kept thinking about what happened, and I couldn’t Jordan…” But rather than it being his worry about Sarina as they probably thought, the sickness was solely based on Alison.

“You should’ve and came and got us. We would’ve come and sat with you, or tried to do something…” Alan nods his head agreeing as Chase lets out a sigh. Why was it so hard to say the truth?

“I appreciate that, but you’ve both already done so much for me that it wouldn’t have been fair.” He also felt bad in knowing that he’s been lying, too.

“Like I told you before, and I’ll tell you until my face is blue – we will do anything for you, and keep doing it as long it makes sure you and Sarina are okay,” Alan states as he leans back against the wall. “I meant those words, Chase. Somebody doesn’t dodge a bullet and not run for no reason.” Chase feels his breath hitch in his throat, knowing that was the first time Alison tried to pull one of these moves. Then came the comments in court, followed by this past week – which brought the vomit back up stream again.

“Easy….” Jordan comments as he rubs Chase’s back, watching the young man throw whatever was still left up. “Breathe, Chase, it’s going to be okay…”

Jordan then stands up and walks over to the sink, grabbing the washcloth and running it under the cold water. His eyes immediately caught a bit of a pink shine on the counter, glancing that way as it was so familiar. It brought a smile to his face as he recognized it immediately, but then brought confusion.

“Alan….” He whispers just loud enough for the crew chief to hear, catching Alan’s attention. He points to the ring on the counter, which results in the crew chief looking back confused as well.

“I’ll handle this,” Alan whispers back as he takes one glance at Chase. Seeing him sitting on the floor shirtless trying to calm the fears again, he noticed the mark on his collarbone and immediately remembered Alison’s words in court. “Please….”

Jordan knew by the crew chief’s reaction that he wanted alone time with Chase as there was a theory in development – even if he had no clue what Alan was thinking. Regardless, he followed direction and slowly made his way out of the bathroom.

“Take a deep breath, relax, take another deep breath,” Alan offers as he rubs Chase’s forehead with the cloth. “Just take a series of deep breathes. She’s going to be okay, as well as you.” Chase tries to follow direction, but the images of the past couple nights fill every thought. He closes his eyes, attempting every bit of focus, feeling the coolness on his forehead, followed by his cheeks. He then feels it go away, flinching a little and almost jumping a bit away from Alan as it returns on his back.

“I’m sorry – I’m just a little jumpy,” Chase quietly replies as Alan takes a deep breath himself. It seemed with every reaction, his theory was building to be even more true.

“It’s okay….” Alan keeps running the cloth along Chase’s neck, followed by down his back, trying to do whatever he could. “You’re safe with me and Jordan. We won’t let anything happen to you – we promise. You’re safe, we would never hurt you, or let someone touch you…” Chase slowly glances up and looks towards Alan. The hurt that Alan saw behind the brown eyes almost brought him to tears.

“How did you know?” It wasn’t the response that he was expecting, figuring he would’ve had to claw the details out of Chase, but it confirmed the theory as Alan stared back, almost in shock.

“The mark on your collarbone seemed a little out of place, and you were sitting here nervous and pretty much sick in thought. I was there in the trailer, and I was there in the court room. Sarina wouldn’t just let the ring go easily so I know Alison would’ve given it to you, but not without earning something in return.” The hot tears that were previously there the night before begin to trickle down again. “How far did she go?”

“Not all the way, but far enough….” It was like a punch in the gut for Alan in hearing that detail – especially considering he was in the next room over as this happened. “She made me strip down to just my boxers, lie on the bed, and then pushed herself on me, moving against me, kissing me….” His breath quickens as the tears fall even harder. “She didn’t rape me, Alan.”

“But she went far enough that you felt every sensation that goes along with that. Chase, it may not be rape – but it still has the same consequences of that happening. Sexual assault is sexual assault one way or another, and brings those feelings, and fears..” Alan wraps an arm around Chase’s shoulder, pulling him close. “And I can tell you right now that no matter what you’re feeling, you’re going to be okay. Everything is damn well going to work out and you will get through this – I promise. And it’s not your faul-”

“That’s a li-”

“Listen to me-”

“Alan, I accepted the deal from her to allow her to do that for Sarina’s safety.” Alan looks over a little confused. “She has simply tied up Sarina, stole the ring, and just left her- and will continue to do so as long as I agree to her game each and every night. I agreed because it gives me comfort in knowing Sarina is okay until the police find her.”

“So she has this power over you, rips you apart from the inside mentally and physically? Someone once said that you can’t let someone control you, or else they’ll keep doing it. That’s what you’re doing right here and now.” Chase nodded his head, knowing that – perhaps that tore him apart the most about this.

“I just want Sarina to be oka-”

“But this isn’t a solution, Chase. We need to tell the police what she’s been doing so they know just how twis-”

“No, nobody finds out about this Alan, please.” Alan takes a deep breath, understanding the fears and almost was ready to agree. But one look back at Chase and he knew that wasn’t going to work here.

“I know it’s going to be the worst thing ever telling them, but you need to. How else are they going to understand just how crazy Alison is? Furthermore, you need to go get chec-”

“No, not at all. I’m fine….” Alan looks at him a bit of surprise. “I’ll be fine.”

“You need to let them look you over, please…” Chase shakes his head no as he lies his head against the wall. “Besides, the more evidence the bett-”

“I took a very long hot shower last night before trying to go to sleep. I didn’t want to feel any part of her on me ever again…” Alan glances at Chase.

“Please let me say something so you can stop living this nightmare, please….” Chase lets out a sigh as he nods his head.

“I can’t do it, Alan. Can you pleas-”

“Absolutely. Chase, I’ll do whatever you need so you can feel better.” Chase takes a deep breath as he tries to stay calm.

“Can you make the memories go away?” Alan lets out a sigh as he slowly stands up.

“I wish…” Alan makes his way out of the bathroom, finding Jordan sitting on the edge of the bed. “I’m going to tell you something, and then I want you to go back in that bathroom and just hold him, let him cry, be there, do whatever he needs. I would do it myself, but I promised him that I would take care of this.”

“Whatever he needs,” Jordan states as Alan takes a deep breath.

It was only a small span of time, but Alan wished he never had to go through doing this. Then again, the pain of saying what happened and thinking about Chase’s feelings was onl small in comparison to what Chase was going through right now.

After detailing everything to Jordan and making sure the mechanic had a good hand on taking care of Chase, the rest of the pieces fell into place.

Alan made the hardest phone call first, revealing the details of what happened to Cindy and Bill. Between the anger and pain he could feel in Cindy’s words, and watching Bill even choke up a little despite his calm demeanor, Alan wished he could take back every ounce. However, he knew Chase’s support circle and knew that those within it would be the most important in moving forward. He knew that included Ryan and Darrell, and didn’t make that call for the time being. That would be up to Chase to handle.

He then called the investigator, asking for a meeting at the hotel. He depicted the details in full, even showcasing the text messages that Chase had received from Alison through Sarina’s number to develop the trail.

“Where is Mr. Elliot-” The investigator began afterwards.

“You don’t need to put him through anymore hell or reminders,” Alan cuts him off. “There’s no additional information that you need at this time to continue the investigation. Really, if I was him, I would be furiously angry in knowing that Alison has easily visited him, manipulated, controlled, molested now without you being able to catch her. I mean, it really makes me sick standing here telling you.” Alan takes a deep breath, knowing that losing his temper would get them nowhere. “I know you need his word, but for now you need to just trust me. Once we know Sarina is okay and this is over, then you can get a statement from him. Right now, I feel it’d be too much for him to take.”

“I understand, but we also need to make sure that he is okay and have him chec-”

“There’s no trace because he said he took a shower last night. Physically, he’s okay. Mentally is another story, but I feel we have it under control with what we’re doing. I think your focus should be getting Sarina away from that witch. It’s only a matter of time before something happens. Alison has Sarina to get to Chase, but what happens when she gets bored of that?”

“We will need the ring for eviden-”

“You’re going to have to once again trust us. You’ve seen it as I showed it to you, as well as the fact that it was in the original photo that Chase received from Alison. But for now, that ring needs to stay with him. It’s the one thing that he can hold on to for hope….”

It took time for everything to continue to fall in place as the investigators did whatever they wanted with the information, while Alan continued to keep Bill and Cindy in the loop as Jordan took care of Chase.

It was three hours later that Chase had emerged from the bathroom, sitting on the edge of the bed, phone in hand, trying to avoid getting shaky. He had to do this one more time, he had to keep on a straight face and be strong. This was going to be the most important meeting, and he couldn’t screw it up no matter what. This was the only plan they could figure working at this moment.

He hears a knock on the door – his breath hitching in his throat as he glances down at the floor. Every part of him wanted to run right now, but he had to do this for her. He slowly makes his way over to the door, opening it.

“You are dressed appropriately this time,” Alison comments with a grin on her face as she enters the room, watching the door close behind her. “I’m impressed…”

“That was my intension,” Chase replies as he sits back on the edge of the bed. “That was why I reached out to you.” Alison crosses her arms watching him closely.

“I was really impressed to hear that you wanted to see me….” Chase fakes a smile, as he resists every urge to break down in that moment.

“Let’s face it – this is about me and you, and nobody else. This has always been about how far you can push me, how crazy you drive me, and clearly based on your feelings for me.” He then reluctantly reaches out for her hand, clasping it. “I’m done letting my friends get hurt. If you let Sarina go, I am willing to do whatever you want – whether go with you, sleep with you – I don’t care. I just want her to be okay, please…”

“Are you absolutely certain without a shadow of a doubt?” Chase knew the key plan – get the phone away from her and then call in the backup. However, that wasn’t possible right now and they didn’t want to capture her without knowing the location of where they were supposed to be going. So it was down to the second ridiculous plan that he wished he never had to believe in.

“Please, I’m begging you at this point…” Alison smirks back in return as she walks towards the door.

“Get dressed, and come downstairs. Walk over to the 2015 Camaro and get in without a single word. We’ll see how this goes…” Chase slowly nods his head as he takes a shaky deep breath, watching her walk out of the room.

He reaches onto the dresser, slipping on the t-shirt, followed by the jeans. Taking a glance in the mirror, trying to compose every bit of himself, he grabs his sweater and slips that on over the t-shirt.

“You’re going to be okay,” Alan comments as he comes out of the bathroom, placing a hand on Chase’s shoulder. “They’re going to follow…” Chase nods his head as he takes the black box off of dresser, placing it in his jean pocket. “It’s going to be okay, I promise…”

“I know…” Chase replies as he makes his way out of the hotel room, down to the lobby and outside. It didn’t take him long to find the Camaro and he followed the directions to a key, climbing in the car and sitting in the passenger seat. It was easy to see how she got around given the tinted windows.

“You’re such a good boy,” Alison says as she reaches over, covering his eyes with a black eye cover. “Don’t fight me or the deal is off…” Chase was glad that she couldn’t see his eyes to see the pain, the tears, the fear, as he tried to keep his breathing composed, knowing the plan and what was involved.

“Just do what I asked, please…” Alison chuckles as she grabs his wrists, tieing them both together tightly. “Easy..” She just laughed harder as she turned the key on the ignition, heading out of the parking lot.

The drive may have only been a half hour, but it felt like forever for Chase. He had no ability to have an clue as to where they were going, along with no ability to move or relax.

Once they arrived, he easily got out of the car, allowing Sarina to lead him to where they were supposed to be going.

“Chase!!” Sarina’s voice rang through the room as she watched him being voluntarily led in by Alison, her eyes locking to the pink diamond on his pinky.

“It’s time for some fun,” Alison comments as a smirk forms on her face.

“Please let Sarina go….” Chase says quietly as Alison laughs in response.

“I thought about that, but this will be more fun. Now, you’re going to listen and goodbye goes your girlfriend.” Chase felt every tinge of fear, worry, and nerves, but knew he just had to play along for a short amount of time. He feels the tie around his wrists loosen, stretching out a little. “What did I say?”

“Sorry….” He wished he could see that Sarina was okay for himself, but clearly that wasn’t going to be an option.

“Strip down…” He felt his breath clutch once again in hearing those familiar words, as he reaches underneath his sweater, slowly taking it off. He just needed to buy himself some time. “Faster or else….”  He then undoes the buckle on his jeans, feeling them drop to the floor immediately, taking a deep breath. He wondered if the black box was defective and where the cops were. He also wondered what Alison had in mind. What else could happen now? He then reaches underneath of shirt, pulling it off.

“Chase…” Sarina lets out, knowing where this was going immediately having heard Alison reminisce of the fun times that she had with him.

“I hope you enjoy the present I left for him, as well as what you’re going to receive,” Alison says as she brings her body against his, pinning him up against the closest wall. “Let’s give her a show…” Chase feels the hot tears returning as Alison’s lips meet his once again, pushing every bit of her against him. She then reaches her hand down his boxers, stroking him slowly… “You’re so hard, baby.”

“Alison Reynolds!” The shout catches everyone off-guard as Alison immediately spins around. She then takes the rolling chair that she had Sarina tied on, pushing it across the floor as the gun goes off from the officer.

“Oh fuck!” Sarina lets out immediately, glancing towards her shoulder, seeing the blood seeping down her arm as one of the paramedics rush over.

“What is going on?” Chase says, still frozen in the same spot. He feels hands wrap around, untying the mask immediately. “What happened?!?”

“Alison escaped out the back room after putting Sarina in the fir-” Alan starts, keeping his arms wrapped around Chase.

“Sarina!!” Alan grips him even harder, not letting him get any closer. “Alan, let me go, please. I need to help her. She nee-”

“Medical services are already taking care of her. She’s going to be okay.” Chase keeps fighting against Alan as Alan maintains his grip. “Chase, calm down. We need to let them look at yo-”

“I’m fine! Let me see her, please!!” His breathing quickens as panic begins to set in against Alan’s hold, as Alan keeps every grip possible, resisting the urge to break into his own panic.

“Chase, take a deep breath, please. Calm down. The worst is over….”

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

“22-year-old male, sedated due to panic attack setting in at the scene,” the paramedic states as they enter the hospital. “No other known injuries or concerns, except sexual assault being discussed by officers.”

“Cubicle 1,” the doctor instructs. “Get his vitals up immediately, along with restraints in place in case he wakes up. Rape kit order should be placed as well.”

“21-year-old female, gunshot wound to the shoulder. It looks to be a flesh wound, but the extent of the damage is not known. May require a blood transfusion as it took awhile to slow the bleeding. She was kidnapped and tied up for a total of four days, dehydration was present.”

“Cubicle 2. Ordering immediate x-rays on the shoulder as that should be taken care first, while beginning fluids.”

Bill stands by the desk, and just looks back in total shock as he watches Alan enter the room, visibly exhausted.

“I tried to get them to avoid giving him the sedative,” Alan states as he walks over to Bill. “I tried with everything I could, but he was totally freaking out no matter how hard I trie-”

“Stop, please,” Bill requests as Alan glances up at him. “I know that you did what you could. I know you wouldn’t make it worse, and damn it Alan, he’s going to be okay. They’re both going to be okay. But what the hell went wrong today, and why did you ever agree to this plan?”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 47: Stratosphere 200

Friday March 2, 2018 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Bill walks into the hauler, smiling as he sees Chase walk out of the lounge, all set for practice shortly. He knew Sarina wasn’t there, having seen her head off as she was going to do a morning shopping run. That was welcomed by him, given the topic at hand.

“Well?” Bill questions, catching Chase off-guard. “Engagement ring. Did you get one?” Chase lets out a sigh, remembering their discussion a couple nights ago about buying the perfect ring, and spots to go look. He had also rambled off some proposal ideas, getting his dad’s thoughts on which way to go. Bill’s only advice in return was to be you, don’t try to do it too big, and make it special. It wasn’t much advice, but it helped narrow down the selection.

“I may have,” he teases as Bill gives him a glance. Chase pulls out his phone, unlocking it and going into his photos. He brings up a photo of a ring, showing his dad with a small smile. “It’s hidden righ-”

“Don’t tell me somewhere she’ll look easily.” Chase shakes his head no as Bill glances over the photo.

“She doesn’t go through my bags and I buried it in the bottom of one in a secret pocket for safe keeping.” Bill hands the phone back over with a smile.

“It’s really nice. Good job…” Chase smiles back, as he glances over the photo. He had gone with something simple, knowing that she wasn’t big for jewelry, but something that he knew would make a statement. “I can’t believe that my son is about to enga-”

“Just hold the thought because it isn’t happening overnight.” Bill crosses his arms, now confused. He thought a decision had been made and set in stone. “There’s a lot going on righ-”

“I thought we both decided that you aren’t letting Allison run your life anym-”

“I’m talking about Shelley and Chris. It’s no secret the thought of Chris being one step towards freedom, even just moved from jail to a mental institution, has her unraveled.” Bill nods his head, having heard the discussion last night from the pair of them about the series of text messages. He immediately made sure the right phone calls had been made to the lawyers, while Cindy vowed to do whatever it took to protect her baby.

“So now you’re going to let Shelley and Chris run your life? Chase, there’s always going to be something going on. Welcome to the life that you live, and the fact you’re both involved in this business. If you’re asking for a calm moment, you’re going to be waiting a long time.” Chase knew that, but in his mind, this was different than the normal circumstances.

“She’s afraid of engagement and marriage. I don’t want to set her off more than she is. That’s why I was thinking maybe I should wait until after this gets resolved.” Bill looks on shocked, shaking his head immediately.

“These court cases can take anywhere from a month, to six months, to a year. Do you really want to put it off that long? And besides, what if something else comes up after this?” Chase shrugs his shoulders as he looks back towards the photo again. He couldn’t wait to slip the ring on her finger, but it didn’t seal the deal in his mind.

“Then it happens. This doesn’t make or break the relationship for me, Dad. As long as we’re together, we can trust each other, and can see each other all the time, I don’t have any problems. I know everybody else wants to push the theory and say we should be engaged, but it doesn’t matter to me. I love her, and she loves me. If we’re both happy together, what does it matter?”

“You’re right, absolutely right. But remember what we talked about as well…” Chase nods his head, having been running everybody’s advice multiple times through his mind whenever he got a moment of uncertainty.

“I’ll see you after. I got to go to see Alan. Practice is soon.” Bill nods as Chase heads off, set for practice.

Once in the garage, Alan laid down the plan for the session, which was pretty simple. Start off with a run in qualifying trim, followed by doing a second semi-long race run. He was also set to jam-pack everything together in the 45 minutes they had, as a result of having to sit out the final 15 minutes due to a penalty after failing tech a couple times last weekend.

While last weekend at Atlanta brought frustration throughout the weekend, things started out much smoother as he was happier with the handling of the car through both runs and felt they were only a couple minor adjustments from being right there. Ultimately, he finished the session in ninth.

After a quick debrief with Alan and team, he was set to head out of the garage, knowing the next commitment of the day. He smiles as he comes out of the garage, seeing Sarina standing there.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” He questions, knowing she went on a quick shopping trip. She nods her head, giving him a kiss.

“Not a single problem at all, thankfully,” she answers as she wraps her arms around him. “Why can’t we just stay here like this?” He chuckles as he brushes her hair back.

“Because we both have commitments that we’re supposed to attend to…” She makes a face, followed by a sigh.

“Do you think NASCAR would be mad if I skipped the autograph session?”

“Do you think Las Vegas would be mad if I skipped the Q&A?” They both chuckle, heading out to the garage area together. “Don’t hold up my fans too long signing there. I don’t want them to miss my awesome answers.”

“Oh boy….” He just laughs back in return as they reach the stage. “Don’t take up all their time so they can come say hi at least. I love you.” She then kisses his lips, before heading off to the tent for the autograph session.

Once both of them were done their commitments, they made up before heading back out to pit road. The day didn’t stop there, with both of their qualifying sessions set to take place back-to-back.

“Care to make a wager?” She questions, catching his attention as he looks on curiously. “I bet that I’ll qualify better than you will.” He chuckles as he wasn’t surprised by the idea.

“You were better in practice, and it’s clear that the KBM trucks are where to be, compared to where I would like to be myself,” he answers as she crosses her arms.

“Are you saying that you don’t think you can qualify better? Are you giving on yourself?” He knew that she wasn’t going to let this go easily.

“What’s the stakes?” She thinks it over, a smirk easily forming on her face.

“The loser has to spoil the winner tonight after the truck race.” He knew no matter what, they both won in this scenario as it was clear where that’d lead to.

“It’s a deal.” They then share a kiss before she heads up pit road to meet up with Rudy and the team. Chase just crossed his fingers that Alan got the car tuned up as good as he thought they could.

It was no surprise when he saw her make it to the second round of qualifying, and he knew it’d be no surprise if she got the pole. As much as he wanted to win the bet, he’d have no issues in watching her lead the field to green later on that night.

“So Bubba, explain to me why my boy isn’t engaged yet….” Ryan comments as the pair walk up on Chase, and Chase can only roll his eyes.

“Bubba, explain to me why Ryan won’t tell you anything about Lindsay,” Chase counters as Ryan looks over shocked. “Yeah, that’s right, two can play this game. I know how close you two are whether you want to admit it or not.”

“Is that why he’s been missing our adventures?” Darrell questions and Chase smiles, nodding his head.

“It seems that he’s been texting his girl and talking to her on the phone as much as possible. I’m actually surprised that she’s not here this weekend.” He could see the bit of sadness on Ryan’s face in that mention immediately. “Another dance recital?”

“Yeah,” Ryan says quietly. “But she’ll be at the next two races.” Chase smirks as he glances over at Darrell, giving him a wink. “I saw that!”

“Like I said, two can play this game,” Chase comments as Ryan wraps his arm around his shoulders.

“So how about you answer my question?” Chase just smiles back in response as he pulls his phone out. He loads the same photo that he had shown his dad earlier, causing both jaws to drop in return.

“That’s beautiful!” Darrell lets out as Ryan keeps his eyes on Chase.

“So you did ask her?” Ryan questions and Chase shakes his head no.

“I bought the ring,” he starts. “Now it’s figuring out the best way to go about asking and do it.”

“Well, do it!” Darrell instructs as Chase lets out a sigh, taking his phone back.

“I will – when the time is right.” Both of the boys just nod their heads in return, before glancing at each other.

“Bachelor Party Planning Committee!” They both let out as Chase lets out a sigh.

“The last time I let you guys plan a party was my birthday party here in November, and I woke up on the rooftop,” he recalls as Ryan laughs at the memory.

“Admit it – you had fun, though,” Ryan comments and Chase couldn’t deny that as he smiles. “Look, I don’t want to make a sequel to the Hangover because, well, I’d have my ass kicked by both Lindsay and Sarina if I did tha-”

“Cindy, too,” Darrell adds, and Ryan nods his head in agreement.

“So I promise we’ll go a little crazy, but not that crazy…” Chase rolls his eyes. He didn’t even want to know what they were planning. He then focuses back on truck qualifying session rounds out, seeing that she had ended up fifth quickest on the board.

“Got my work cut out for me,” he comments, catching a glance from his friends. “Sarina and I made a bet, and whoever qualifies worse has to spoil the other.” The pair smirk back in return as Chase shakes his head. “I know, it’ll probably me spoiling her.”

“I don’t think you’ll be complaining,” Ryan offers as Chase resisted the urge to smack him as Darrell laughed. “Oh, we didn’t just come down here to pick on you. Do you recall the text message I sent? Are you coming with us tonig-”

“I’m not missing Sarina’s rac-”

“It’s after the race is over. Come on….” Chase lets out a sigh as he flat out wanted to say no, but hated to let down his friends.

“You know that I’m not into the same sty-”

“Come be nice and give it a try, for your best buddies.” Chase lets out another sigh, finally nodding his head in agreement to go as Darrell lets out a big cheer. “Now, go get yourself a good qualifying spot. You can start in second – right behind me.”

“Hey, what about me?” Darrell questions as the boys head off, leading to a simple shrug back in return from Ryan. “I see how this goes….”

While he was able to lay down a better lap than he originally believed in, he ended up sixth – which certainly marked a good way to start off the weekend, but not as strong as Sarina.

“I beat you!” She lets out as she walks over to him after the session.

“Guess I have to spoil you,” he offers, wrapping his arms around her. “Hopefully I’m spoiling a winner.” He then kisses her lips lightly. “It just won’t be tonight after the truck race.”

“Why not?” She felt an immediate wave of confusion as Chase glances down pit road, before turning back to her.

“We’re going out after the race.” She looks on now surprised. “Ryan and Darrell welcomed us to go see Saving Alexandra.” She was now back confused.

“When did you start to like screamo-rock?” He shakes his head.

“I haven’t, okay? Look, they’ve been bugging me for weeks about this and I couldn’t say no. they want me to give it a chance and come have some fun since we don’t hang out as muc-”

“I’m sorr-”

“I don’t regret a single moment that we’ve spent together, as I’d rather spend as much time as possible with you.” She smiles back in return. “They’re also friends with the band, too. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Absolutely not. If spending my night watching a group totally rock out and hang with those two means that I get to spend hundreds of nights with you, I’d do it in a heartbeat.” He smiles back in return, kissing her lips. “I just hope they don’t mind us being a little later than anticipated.”

“I’ll accept any yelling that they tell us in response, while sending Lindsay after Ryan.” Sarina just chuckles back in response as they head back to the garage area. A quick snack, and they knew it’d be time for the truck race.

Sarina stood on pit road, leaning back against the truck, arms crossed, frustration laced.

There was no denying that she had a quick truck and was able to run up front, actually winning the first stage. She also kept herself in contention through the second with a top-five. Although she started the last stage well, it all fell apart as a truck that was certainly supposed to finish in the top-five crossed the line in 12th after a pair of poor executed restarts.

Chase walks over, simply wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close.

“That sucked,” she states clearly as she looks into his eyes and he simply nods his head back in return, sympathizing with her frustration.

“You had a good tru-” he starts and she lets out a sigh.

“I had a good truck, I ran up front all night, but oh no I fucked up and finished 12th. That’s just great, right? On a night where I should’ve easily walked away with a top-five finish, I fuck up a pair of restarts and finish 12th. What do you call that shit?” Chase understood it was her frustration showing through as he rubs her shoulders.

“Take a deep breath, count to 10….” She tries to follow his advice as she just shakes her head.

“I just can’t believe that I did tha-”

“You’re still lear-”

“That was last yea-”

“You’re still learning, and there’s going to be tough lessons. Why does Kyle make it look so easy? Why can Johnny and Brett just go execute like it’s nothing? Simple – they’re both experienced. They have tons of laps under their belt, been in those situations before, and know how to work the truck draft to their advantage. You will get better with practice.” She rolls her eyes. “Sarina…..”

“It’s just annoying to watch good finishes just get thrown away like that!” He nods his head, accepting, as he continually rubs her shoulders.

“I know, I’ve been there. But take the good away from the night. You were able to run up front, have the speed, and you learned what you can and cannot do on a late-race restart. Now moving forward when you come back here, or go to Michigan, or Pocono, you will know what to do.” She lets out a sigh, slowly nodding her head.

“I just hate giving away finishes like that…”

“I know. Hey, here’s another bright side. You’ve got a couple wee-”

“I’d rather be racing every weekend.” He lets out a sigh, knowing how she felt about that, and could already see her escaping to run some late model events during these weekends. However, selfishly, he wanted her at the track with him.

“But your next race is at Martinsville. We both know how well you run there.” A smile forms on her face as she thinks back to her first career victory.

“You wouldn’t mind if we got another clock, would you?” He chuckles, shaking his head no.

“Everybody can use three grandfather clocks in their house – maybe even four.” She laughs back in response.

“I wouldn’t mind the added décor.” She then leans in, lightly kissing his lips. “Thank you.”

“How about we go get you changed, and get out of here?” She nods her head, accepting, as they head off.

As planned, they both headed to the concert with Ryan and Darrell as discussed. While it was clear that both Ryan and Darrell had the time of their lives, Chase couldn’t honestly see himself falling for that style of music. They were good, but he’d rather stick with his country.

But it all didn’t matter, as his arms stayed wrapped around Sarina’s shoulders all night as she leaned back in his arms, both of them satisfied with each other’s company.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 42: Daytona 500

Sunday, February 18 – Daytona International Speedway

It may have been the biggest race of the year, but Chase began the day like he would any race day – a quick shower in the morning, along with breakfast, before heading out to go through the usual sponsor appearances. Each of those went according to plan with no issues, as each of them wished him best of luck along with a series of photos.

He was getting finished up with the final one for the day – NAPA – and set to leave, when someone placed an envelope in his hand.

“We found this here addressed to you when we got here,” the older man tells him and Chase simply nods his head in return. He didn’t need to glance down at the envelope to know who it was from.

“Thank you sir,” he simply replies, clutching it in his hand as he shoves the envelope in his sweater pocket.

“Do I want to know?” Morgan wonders as they leave and Chase just shakes his head. “I can take it if you wan-”

“All notes go to Jordan, and Jordan opens them. He lets me know if there’s something important, and then passes it along to where it goes.” Morgan was caught off-guard, but simply nodded her head in acceptance in return. “It’s a system we developed when they started to try and make it easier on me.”

“Okay. Well if I ever can do anything to help, just let me know.”

“Thank you.”

He makes his way to the garage area, seeing Jordan standing by with the team as they get ready to push the car out to the grid. He quietly slips him the envelope, with a nod, before continuing on his way back to the motorcoach.

Jordan lets out a sigh as he glances at the white envelope, slowly ripping away the back of it. He pulls out the slip of paper, looking around, before reading the writing inside.

“I hope the message is getting to you clearly,” he reads. “A decision will be coming, and I hope you make the right one.” Jordan was puzzled, and could only wonder as to what was going to happen next.

With Alison, he could only guess on the variables – but knew it would have to deal with Sarina in some way, if she got her way. Taking a deep breath, he just hoped the measures put in place stopped that from happening.

He then made the familiar phone call, speaking of the details, before agreeing to when they would grab the note and envelope for evidence.

Sarina gets comfortable in her usual spot, as Jordan glances over with a pat on her leg.

“500 miles, 200 laps – you can do this,” he tells her as she glances over nervously.

“You saw me yesterday and you think today will be easy?” She questions and he shrugs his shoulders. In his belief, the driver was going to make it easy by staying up front all day long.

“Trust in your man…..”

For both, it was relief to see him up front as the race didn’t start off with the calm feeling that they had experienced in the Clash or Duel, with chaos from the drop of the green flag. Sarina even had to admit that she was caught off-guard when Kasey Kahne was sent out of line early, flying down pit road in the opening laps.

Chase wasn’t making her nerves any easier, either, as he fell back some spots, running mid-pack after getting split down the middle. All she could think about was him being in the eye of the storm the whole way.

She got a small break with the field stringing out single file on Lap 31, but it wasn’t a surprise to see that only last for four laps. It was actually her man ruining the calmness, too, as he made his move to get back to the front.

“That’s how you do it!” She lets out as he takes the lead with 15 laps left in the stage. If he wanted dance, she had no problem with that – a s long as he was at the front of the train.

The first major wreck of the event happened five laps later, thankfully far behind pack as Kyle Busch blew a left rear tire, collecting some others with him.

Reminding herself to take deep breathes, trying to kill the nerves, she knew that once when they went back to green, it was only going to get crazier. Everybody would want stage points, and her man was going to be right in the middle of that.

Right when the green flag flew with five laps left, the craziness began immediately with everybody switching lanes, attempting to block each others runs. Chase was one of those, going up to block a move, but ended up getting put the top with no help, causing him to slip back through the field.

Sarina didn’t get a chance to calm down as three laps later (two left in the stage), Ricky  Stenhouse Jr. got sideways down the backstretch running second, causing the field to get all jumbled, resulting in contact with cars sliding every which way, whether grass or outside wall. Thankfully, Chase made his way through – barely – finishing the opening stage in eighth.

“Aaah nice job,” Alan congratulates his driver as Sarina takes a couple deep breathes. That was too close to comfort, and she knew it was just the beginning with 140 laps still left to go.

“Holy shit!” Chase lets out on the radio, and Sarina couldn’t help but nod her head in agreement.

“I’m going to need malox, tums, and whatever else you can find before this is over,” she comments causing a chuckle from Jordan.

When they went back racing, the chaos didn’t calm down one bit, with passes and blocking happening every turn. The front of the field saw Chase lead some laps, followed by Ryan Blaney leading some, back to Chase, before Ryan got back to the lead.

Running in second, Chase was riding behind him with 18 laps left in the stage, trying to plan his move accordingly.

“2 has a run on the top….” Eddie D’Hondt tells him, in which Chase was set to use to his advantage. Both of them came down at the same time, which caused Brad to make contact with the left rear corner, hooking Chase. “We’re wrecking….”

The contact instantly caused Chase to spin up and hit the outside wall, before spinning around and hitting it once again as he also got hit in the door. The car then slowly rolled down the banking to the apron, damage seen at every corner.

“Are you alright?” Eddie asks right away, feeling every nerve pinched at seeing the incident.

“Yeah…” Chase answers, trying to take a couple deep breathes. Instantly upon hitting the wall initially, it had taken his breath away, with the contact afterwards not doing anything to help him. “Yeah….” He takes a couple more deep breathes, getting his wits about him, feeling a bit of pain up his back and especially through his ride. “I’m alright…”

Jordan continues rubbing Sarina’s shoulders, as he glances up at the monitor. He could only shake his head at the events that had transpired, and he could kick Brad’s ass right then and there.

“He’s okay…” Jordan reminds her once again as she takes a couple deep breathes. Upon the wreck beginning, she instantly freaked, panic consuming her. It was Jordan that reacted immediately, wrapping his arms around her to hold her and offer comfort, certainly caught off-guard by how hard the initial impact was. “He’s climbing out…”

“I can’t believe this…” Sarina lets out as she takes a couple more breathes, watching on the monitor as Chase sat on the window ledge, laying his head on the roof for a little bit as he waited for the medical staff to come over. “He’s sore…”

“I’d be sore, too if I hit a wall that hard. Come on…” He slowly helps her stand up and make her way over to the ladder. He climbs down first, before watching closely as she followed, making sure she didn’t slip.

The pair of them make their way through the garage to the infield care center, sneaking in through the back door as they wait for the ambulance to make the trip back.

It wasn’t long after before he walked in, helmet and HANs in hand, with their eyes connecting immediately. Every tinge of worry she had showed, and he saw that right away. In return, being sore didn’t help anything and any comfort she could offer was a bonus. He walks over to her, wrapping both arms around her, as he kisses the top of her head.

“I’m okay,” he tells her as he gives her another kiss. “I’m okay…”

“I know,” she replies, glancing up into his eyes. “I knew you would be, but I just couldn’t help but worr-”

“It’s okay…” He then takes her hand into his, letting him come with her as he goes into one of the cubicles as directed, sitting up on the bed. He lets out a small grunt as his hand immediately goes to his side, rubbing it.

“Sore?” He nods his head as he continues to rub his ribs, taking a couple breathes. “Worse than earlier?” He nods his head as she lets out a sigh. “I hope it’s not worse…”

“I’ll be fine. You don’t need to worry about me.” She could only let out another sigh as she walked right over, leaning against him as he wrapped his arms around her.

“I’m never going to stop worrying about you, okay?” He smiles as he kisses her head once again. “On the bright side, you have someone to look out for you tonight, and tomorrow. I suggest you take two Tylenol and a nice, long hot shower tonight or you’ll be regretting it tomorrow. Maybe I’ll even give you a massage, if you’re lucky.”

“If I’m lucky?” She nods her head as he thinks it over. “I thought I meant enough already to deserve one…”

“You’re probably right. Besides, I need to take care of you so you can spoil me.” He chuckles as they watch the doctor come in.

He goes through the usual questionnaire, answering everything accordingly, before slipping the top half of his firesuit off so the doctor can take a closer look at his ribs. Feeling them, pushing lightly in a couple spots, a couple grunts could be heard.

“I’d like to run an x-ray to be safe and make sure nothing is broken or cracked,” the doctor says, and Chase simply nods his head accepting. “How about you go do your post-wreck interview since you’re actually cleared, and then we can do that?”

“Sure,” he answers as he carefully puts the firesuit back on, feeling every bit of pain as he does so.

Following instructions as requested, the x-ray came back clean with no cracks or breaks, just the bruises that were left over from Thursday with a couple more to join them.

With strict instructions to rest for the next couple of days, and to go to the hospital if he felt any new or worsening pain, he was able to leave and head out, returning to the motorcoach to get changed.

“Let me take care of you, please,” she tells him, helping him take off his firesuit slowly.

“Oh man….” was all he could say, feeling the familiar pain up his side and through his back as he slips it off. He then slowly slipped off the undershirt, biting his tongue along the way.

“Are you sure you’re going to be alright? Maybe you should’ve let them give you something stronger for the pai-”

“I’ll be fine. I just want to get home, okay?” She slowly nods her head as she hands him a t-shirt out of the drawer.

It was no secret that he was frustrated with how Speedweeks had gone, given the fact that two days straight he had a car capable of winning, but wrong moves and over-aggressive driving by both himself and his competitors got him in trouble. Combined with the remaining frustrations over the note and plane crash, and the faster he was out of Florida and back home, the better.

With this weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the plan wasn’t to go home – but rather fly back with his parents to Georgia and stay at their house for the week as he went through media responsibilities promoting the event. Though given the amount of pain he was feeling, he didn’t care where he ended up – as long as he found a nice comfy bed tonight.

“There’s something on your mind, other than the wreck and how you’re feeling,” Bill says as they reach the house, holding Chase back a bit as Cindy and Sarina headed inside.

“Is it that obvious?” Chase questions and Bill nods his head.

“The notes haven’t stopped, am I right?” Chase lets out a sigh. “They haven’t found a single trace yet, and the notes haven’t stopped. You’re probably feeling a mess of emotions in regards to that, too, from anger to fear. But I can sense that something is off, too.”

“It’s just been a long wee-”

“Chase….” Chase didn’t want to talk about it, no matter how hard he tried as he wished to avoid the topic all together.

“The past couple of notes have me intrigued. They reference making a decision and being connected to someone that I care about, and making sure the right one is made.” He takes a deep breath as he tries to sort through his thoughts. “It has to do with Sarina. Alison is set to put her next plan into action, and it will be do Sarina. It’ll probably be like Sarina or something, and my decision will affect everything. Everything that has happened – we didn’t have any reasonable explanation or something we could’ve done different. But making a decision, fear of something happening – it’s messing with my thoughts more than I would like.” Bill crosses his arms as he glances out into the night sky.

“Have you told Sarina about this?” Chase nods his head. Reluctantly, he told her following the XFINITY race on Saturday – only after Jordan made him do so, in fear that something could happen.

“She put it off as not being worried, calling it an empty threat and that I needed to not let them mess with me because it’s just a mind game to screw me. Meanwhile, I can’t just say that like she can because Alison got close enough to hurt me again and if she can do that and get access to drop these notes, then the chance is there.” Bill couldn’t help but agree, increasing his own nerves about the situation.

“Sarina is just telling herself that so she can psych herself out of being worried, like you are. If she prtends that she can’t get hurt, then she doesn’t have a thing to worry about. Meanwhile, she can put that energy in trying to ease your worries, take care of you, be there for you.” Bill places a hand on Chase’s shoulders. “You have every right to be afraid and worry. But you can’t let it eat at you, or consume you. You need to keep reminding yourself that you have the right people around you, the right policies in place, and everything will work out – just like I will have your back no matter what.”

“I know…” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances up at the sky before looking back to his dad. “Thank you.”

“You can always come to me. Now, you need to get some rest…” Bill wraps an arm around Chase’s shoulders, as they head inside for the night.

The week went smoothly as the pain slowly eased with rest and time, but bothered him at times. He was able to get through during media activities Monday through Wednesday without any problems, and the visit to the Children’s Hospital on Thursday went off very successfully.

Back at the house for the night, he was focused on getting a good night’s sleep, knowing that Friday would be a busy day at the track and he needed to be as ready as possible. He was comfortable in the bed when he heard his phone go off, reaching over and grabbing it off the nightstand.

“Shit!” He lets out, catching Sarina’s attention as she was playing a game on her laptop. “Alison’s weekly vis-”

“What did she do now?” Sarina questions, feeling the immediate worry to match Chase’s reaction.

“The guy’s plane is delayed because the same sabotage put together last year was done once again, per Alan.” Sarina shakes her head in disbelief as she lays her head on his chest.

“I’m glad that they caught it.” Chase nods his head in response as he sends back a text message.

“Alan said it was obvious by how the evidence had been placed. Like, she wanted to prove she had access and could do it, but not actually hurt the gu-”

“Chase, think about this for a minute.” She then takes a deep breath as she tries to put her theory together. “She’s going in the same order of what Chris and Bethany did to you and I. We had the plane crash – which was you and Ryan this time around. Now the team plane once again. What happened next?” Chase closes his eyes, wishing he wasn’t having to think back to the timeline of events.

“I had the small issue at the training session, and then we figured out it was him as he like disappeared for awhile. We had our fight and went to California, and I fell down the ste-”

“You fell while you there for my Winter Showdown. That was the start of the plan.” Chase nods his head, remembering.

“The next thing that happened was the drugging as he began with the crew members, followed by Ryan, and then myself.” He grabs his phone once again, texting Alan. “I’ll tell Alan the theory in case.”

“I’ll make sure to mention something to Rudy tomorrow.” He then puts his phone back up as he thinks back to Jordan’s latest text messages.

“But what does all that have to do with a decision and being connected to someone I love?” He takes a deep breath as he glances into her eyes. “I know, I’ll do what you said. I’ll just forget about it and not worry.” Though closing his eyes and trying to get comfortable, the thought just wouldn’t leave his mind.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 38: “Are you sure we went the right way?”

Thursday, February 15, 2018 – Daytona International Speedway

Sarina heard her phone go off for what seemed like the hundredth time, and was almost set to chuck it across the room.

“What time is it?” She wondered, half-asleep, as she reached over for her phone. Seeing that there were eight missed text messages from Lindsay, she couldn’t help but feel concerned as she opened them. “What the hell?”

She calls Chase’s number twice, before hitting Ryan’s twice afterwards. She then resorts back to Chase’s number, dialing it over and over as she gets out of the bed, throwing a sweater and pair of pants on quickly. She makes her way out of the motorcoach, continuing to hit the number, as she makes her way down a couple more.

She knocks on the door, panic slowly building, as she was getting no answer, or sign of return from him.

“Sarina?” Bill questions as he opens the door, confused.

“Have you seen Chase or Ryan?” She questions and Bill shakes his head no, now intrigued. “He was supposed to fly down to Miami, pick Lindsay up, and bring her here. But I haven’t seen him, or Ryan, and Lindsay hasn’t been picked up yet.” Bill felt concern forming as he goes back in his motorcoach, grabbing his phone, looking for any messages or missed calls.

“Have you trie-”

“I’ve been calling his number over, and over, and Ryan’s too!” Bill didn’t want to panic because who knew, it may be a simple issue like he left late due to a problem, or there was still a problem at the airport. However, that thought was also accompanied by the reason he had come down there early.

“Stay here with Cindy and explain to her what’s going on, and I’ll be back. It’s probably nothing, but I’ll go by the airport and see if he’s there…” Sarina takes a calm deep breath, nodding her head as Bill walks over up to her. He wraps an arm around her shoulders. “He’s going to be okay, relax…” He then heads off as Sarina enters the motorcoach, ready to see Cindy.

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018 – Daytona Beach

The pair had been walking for what seemed forever, but it seemed to be leading them nowhere. They had passed by a couple buildings, but there weren’t open so there was no way to find people there.

“Are you sure we went the right way?” Ryan questions as he stops to take a small break. Chase shrugs his shoulders as he glances around.

“The sun always rises in the east, and sets in the west,” he recalls a saying that he learned during pilot training. “The track is west of the beach, so therefore if we walk away from the sun, we should find the track.” Ryan looks over a little concerned by the theory, as he glances around.

“Meanwhile, we’ve been walking for a while and found nothing!” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks over at Ryan.

“I didn’t say it was a short walk, did I?” Ryan shakes his head. “Besides, are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m not the one bitching that my side hur-”

“You’re also not in perfect shape, either..” Ryan knew that Chase was right as he tries to stretch a little.

“I’m not a big swimmer, man. That was probably the most I’ve gone, and will go, swimming in my life. I’m just sore everywhere.” He then stretches a little bit more before continuing to walk. “But standing around isn’t going to get us anywhere, so we better keep going…”

“Yeah.” Chase then continues walking behind him.

“Are you good to keep walking?” Chase nods his head as he catches up alongside.

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018 – Daytona Airport

Bill walks down the airport tarmac, surprised by the sight before him as there was no plane, bags, or anything to be found. It was clear that Chase wasn’t there, having taken off, now somewhere between here and Miami.

“Where are you?” He questions as he looks at his phone once again. He had followed Sarina’s lead, also dialing Chase’s number a couple of times, demanding an answer.

He goes to where the plane was parked and was almost set to walk away with no signs of anything, but stopped when he noticed an envelope. He walks over, picking it up, and quickly ripping it open. Before even reading the contents, he figured what was coming.

“You should be more careful as you know I’m always watching,” he reads, letting out an aggravated sigh.

Taking a deep breath, he pulls his phone back out, calling the phone number that Chase had given him for the investigator. His heart was panicking, but he had to do what was right. He just didn’t know how he’d tell Cindy and Sarina what he found.

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018 – Daytona, Florida

“Now which way do we go?” Ryan questions as they seemed to be getting closer to where some hopeful civilization would be.

“This way,” Chase answers as he leads them down a path. Ryan almost wasn’t set to listen, given where they’d gotten so far, but he also didn’t have a single clue. “That hotel there – that’s where the crew guys are staying!”

“Wouldn’t they be gone already?” Chase knew that was a possibility, but whether they were there or not, he didn’t care. It was someone that could help them out.

They continue walking, both of them feeling some pain as those clothes clung tight being soaked, walking up to the edge of the Marriott property.

“Chase?” They hear, catching them by surprise. They could only wonder what crew member and team this person was fun, but it was nice to finally find someone who recognized them. They watch as the person immediately heads over their direction, and every reflex relaxed immediately. “We’re just about to come to the track. What the hell are you doing here? And why are you both soaked?”

“Crashed the plane in the beach,” Chase states, causing Jordan’s jaw to drop immediately. “We were going to pick up Lindsay and ran into a bit of a probl-”

“A bit of a problem? Are you serious? This is no little problem! I mean, I don’t know if you realize, but you’re both damn lucky to be simply standing here based on what you’re telling me. I mean, how lucky can one gu-”

“Look, can I call Sarina and my dad, please? They’re going to be worr-”

“Come with me….” Jordan gets the pair of them to follow him up to the hotel, causing some glances from a couple of the other crew members.

It didn’t take Jordan long to explain what was happening, causing more shocked glances from the various crew members. But in their true fashion, they each stepped in to help immediately. They led both boys inside, and back up to the floor they were staying on. They went down to the crew chief’s suite, with Alan letting them in immediately.

“Get out of your wet clothes,” Alan instructs as he goes into the closet. He didn’t have much, but threw a pair of pants and shirt at each of them. “Anything is better than being soaked.”

The pair nod their heads as they follow the instructions, getting changed quickly. Once changed, the crew members had already figured out their plan of action. Josh was set on making sure both of them were comfortable laying in Alan’s bed, having seen the signs of being sore. Alan had taken the action of calling Sarina, followed by calling Bill, while Jordan took the liberty of phoning it in to the investigator.

“Sarina, Cindy, and Bill are on their way over,” Alan states as he glances over the pair. “You both need to get checked out so they can take you. Ryan, if you want, we can call Roger, anybody you nee-”

“I’m fine,” Ryan cuts him off as Alan simply nods his head.

“Do we really need to get checked out?” Chase questions and Alan gives him a glare.

“You’re in pain right now as I can see that,” Alan starts. “You just crashed a plane into the water and want to go on as if nothing happened? Not happening, buddy.” Chase lets out a sigh as he rubs his side a little.

“I already know what they’re going to sa-”

“You’re not getting out of this – no ifs, ands, or buts.” Chase lets out a sigh as he tries to get comfortable.

“Yes sir.”

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018 – Daytona International Speedway

“I’m just glad that you’re okay,” Sarina comments as she cuddles up to him in their bed together.

It hadn’t taken long in the morning for the pair to be reunited, with shock being the number one item of discussion. Although he hadn’t been wanting to get checked out, it didn’t take as long as anticipated either.

Thankfully, he hadn’t actually broken any ribs, but rather just bruised a couple. While it’d take three to four weeks to heal, thankfully a bit of asprin and ice was helping right now. Other than that, some bruises in a couple other spots and rest to heal the tiredness and he’d be good to go.

Ryan had gotten luckier, only having some questionable bruises in spots, and needing some rest as clearly it had taken its toll.

After they were released, the pair returned to the track and their respective tracks. Bill had gone and picked up Lindsay so Ryan and Lindsay were able to spend their time together, while Sarina and Chase had each other.

“I don’t think you realize how luc-” Sarina goes to continue.

“Trust me, I know how lucky I was,” he cuts her off as he runs his fingers through her hair. “Jump any later than I did, or if we weren’t over the water, and we would’ve been in trouble. I get it. I haven’t lost sight on that – especially considering it’s my fault.” Sarina then looks at him confused. “I was running late, and didn’t bother to look everything over. The note was right – I should’ve been more carefu-”

“You couldn’t kno-”

“I should’ve known that it was possible, because of the notes, because of the threats, because of the way the notes have gone. When something like that is going on, you need to be more careful than usual, and I should’ve been. It’s my own fault, and worst of all, I feel terrible for Ryan.” She then lays her head against his chest as she debates what to say next. How was she supposed to make him feel better about this?

“Ryan isn’t mad at you, and you can’t beat yourself up over it. Like you always tell me – learn and more on. Next time, it’ll serve as a reminder to be careful. Be thankful you’re alright and focus on the future.” She then glances up in his eyes. “Besides, don’t you have a race – are you even running the Duel now?” He nods his head.

“This is a whole new package. I learned a lot in the Clash, but I need to figure out some other things. Alan needs the data for the car, too. I’m running it.” She nods her head, accepting, swallowing the lump in her throat as she lays her head back against him.

“Just promise me you’ll be careful, okay?”

“I’ll do my best.” He then kisses the top of her head as he goes back to running his fingers through her hair. “I’m sorry I scared you this morning.”

“It’s not your fault. All that matters to me is that you’re okay.” He shifts a little, getting comfortable.

“I’ll be okay…” She then glances at the clock, and lets out a sigh. “Go practice. I’ll be here when you come back – I promise. I’m probably going to go to sleep for a bit anyway.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to call your pare-”

“I’m a big boy, Sarina. I can take care of myself.” She then kisses his lips, before slowly standing up and reaching for her firesuit off of the dresser. She gets changed, snagging another kiss before starting to head out. “Sarina?” She ten glances back. “Can you get me another bag of ice?”

“I thought you said you could take care of yourself. Maybe I should call your pare-”

“Once you get the ice and I put it there, I’ll probably fall asleep shortly after. If I need them, though, I’ll call.” She lets out a sigh, nodding her head. It didn’t take her long to grab the ice, giving it to him and making sure that he was nice and comfortable. “Thank you.”

“Be careful. I love you.” He grabs her hand with his, pulling her close, and kissing her lips.

“I love you, too, and it’s you that needs to be careful. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” She takes a deep breath, slowly turning on her heels and heading out.

She hated to leave him like this, but she knew she couldn’t give up the first practice of the year, either.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 36: “This is classified information”

Monday, February 12, 2018 – Daytona International Speedway

With breakfast done and complete, the dishes were placed in the sink and rinsed off. Chase then came back over to the table, sitting down before her.

“So, this is our one day where we don’t have to do a single thing at all….” He offers and she nods her head, having glanced at the schedule. While yesterday was blank at Daytona, he would be off to Atlanta due to some promoting for the hometown event – something about lucky charms. Then on Wednesday, it was a day full of media, before back to racing action on Thursday.

“Considering how the past two days have gone, I’ll take it,” Sarina comments as there were no doubt that stress had been in the air with Speedweeks action, and the mysterious notes. It was almost unnerving sometimes to think about there not being something in their eyes since Friday.

“But I do have something that we can do, though.” She looks at him intrigued, half-expecting to head to the beach for the day, or over to New Smyna Speedway to watch some late model action. “What about going to Disney World?”

“Seriously?”  He nods his head.

“We both like roller coasters, and there are some pretty neat rides there so why not?” She couldn’t argue with the idea, even if relaxing was more her original plan for the day. But really, any day spent with him was better than nothing, right?

“Why are we still sitting here? Let’s go!”

“Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?” Chase questions once they’re in the park with their passes paid for.

“As much as Space Mountain is cool, you know that I have to go with the mountain,” Sarina answers and Chase nods his head. He should’ve remembered from last year’s trip. “We can do mine and then do yours?”

“Even being at the opposite ends of the park?” Sarina knew it wasn’t the best plan, but they had all day and the idea was to do their favorite rides. So she simply accepted, despite the walking that’d be required.

After taking in them both, they were certainly starting off their day with thrills as the smiles were easily seen from one end of the park to the other.

“What’s next?” Chase questions as it was back to her to decide what they would tackle.

“I challenge you to a shoot-off,” Sarina answers with a determined look in her eyes. He knew that meant Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. “The loser has to give the winner a special treat tonight – no holding back one bit.” He looks back at her with a intrigued glance.

“Are you that determined for me to pleasure you?” She chuckles back in response as they get in line.

“And you better make it worth my while….” Chase then crosses his arms as he thinks it over.

“Who says you’re winning?” She gives him a wink as they inch closer. “I’m serious! Recall, I did beat you the last time…”

“That was beginner’s luck.” He just rolls his eyes back in return.

The shoot-off ended up being closer than either expected, as they were both able to shoot a good number of targets accurately through the whole ride – despite trying to throw each other off at times. Though in the end, Sarina held true to her word as she came out the winner by a couple 100 points.

“You owe me,” she states as they come out of ride. He just wraps his arms around her from behind.

“I have no problem with that because trust me, by the time I’m done, you’re going to be wanting to give me just as much back,” he tells her, kissing her lips as she just smirks back. “Fantasyland or Main Street?”

“Main Street. I worked up quite the appetite kicking your ass.” He then rolls his eyes as they head that way. “Besides, we can go to Pirates of Caribbean afterwards.”

“Aye, the pirate’s life is for me…” She just laughs at the accent as they head off together.

Through the rest of the day, the pair explored the entire park, taking in some of their favorite thrills from one end to the other. Chase made sure to end off their day in style, though, making sure that they had dinner at Cinderella’s Castle.

“A princess like you deserves to be treated as such – especially since you’ll be missing me tomorrow, and we’re busy on Valentine’s Day,” he told her as they entered.

He also made sure to save riding Dumbo the Elephant for last. While it wasn’t the most quickest or intense ride, the sweet serenity of slowly going around in the air underneath the fireworks with his arm wrapped around her meant everything to him.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 – Atlanta Motor Speedway

Kicking off the home track promotional tour, Chase made his way into the media center where an assortment of lucky charms awaited delivery for him. The track had done a promotion for fans to send in something lucky, and needless to say, they had gotten a bunch of stuff.

Glancing over everything, he couldn’t help but smile as there were great, unique items throughout. The next step was doing a Q&A with the media from the stage, followed by one-on-one interviews.

“You have one more to do but we have to wait for your Dad to get here,” Morgan tells him and he nods his head.

“Yeah, he said he’d be here in about 10 minutes or so,” Chase answers, having texted him a couple times.

While waiting, Chase made his way back over to the assortment of items, going through them once again. He then picked up a couple of the envelopes off the floor, flipping through them. He tore open a couple, reading the notes inside to pass the time – admiring some of the notes from the youngest fans. As he reached for the next batch, his hand froze as he recognized the writing on one of the envelopes.

Swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat, he wished that Jordan would’ve been there to take the envelope and open it away from everybody like he had with the previous one. However, that was not an option today. He could easily hand it over to Morgan, but he didn’t want her to be more concerned than already with the warning at the shop. He also knew he could brush it off to later, but curiosity said otherwise.

Running his fingers along the top, he opens the envelope with ease as he glances inside to see the contents. Being a stack of papers, he admitted being caught off-guard as the small card before them fell into his hand first.

“Always know that I have an eye on you, and access to everything,” he reads quietly, sending a shiver down his spine.

Closing his eyes, reminding himself that it was just a mental game and they were just trying to mess with him, he tries to shake off the feeling that had come over him. He then pulls out the stack of papers, reading them over quickly. It didn’t take long to realize what it was, which caused a new worry.

“How would they have access to the NTSB and FBI report?” He questions to himself as he glances through the papers. At first he believed that they were fake documents meant to resemble the originals. But upon reading closer, checking the details and dates, it was clear – it was either a photocopy of the original documents from the plane crash.

Shoving it back in the envelope before anybody could realize the change in his demeanor, he quickly seals it back shut, before sending a text to both Jordan and the investigating officer. With confirmation that they’d take it into evidence and look into the cause, he tried to focus on the rest of the activities for the day.

“Ready for the interview?” Morgan questions and he takes a deep breath, nodding his head. He puts the envelope back in hidden behind the rest before following her to where FOX wanted him to do it.

Following the interview, Bill stood back as Chase went through the final step of the day, giving pacecar rides to a couple individuals around the speedway.

Once that was complete, Chase was free to leave for the day, ready to head to the airport and fly back to Daytona to be with Sarina.

“I couldn’t help but notice that you were a little distracted earlier,” Bill comments as they head out of the track together. “Is something going on?” Chase nods his head as he couldn’t lie to his father, and Bill already knew about part of what was going on anyway.

“Remember what I told you about the notes, and when we were going to fly to Daytona?” Chase reminds him and Bill nervously nods his head. He couldn’t help but feel a tinge of worry in the perfect set-up that was played at the airport that day. “There was another package today mixed in with the Good Luck Charms.” Bill looks over, surprised.

“Like what?” Chase takes a deep breath as he stops, glancing in the box and sorting through the various bears and other notes. He pulls out the envelope, handing it over to his Dad. Bill opens it, jaw dropping immediately as he looks over the contents. “This is classified information. You can only get this information if it is coming from you, a lawyer working for you, or you’re working in the department. Are you sure this is the real deal?”

“I read enough to know it is.” Bill then stops, looking at Chase with every bit of concern.

“You can talk to me….” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances back at his Dad.

“It’s one thing for a person to send me notes to try and mess with my mind. it’s one thing for a person to know what will bug me and set it up so right. But knowing the person has access to the infield at Daytona, as well as these documents – this isn’t just some random deal anymore.” Bill knew from the beginning it wasn’t random.

“I thought we both believed that Allison had a role in this, meaning it wasn’t random. Now, considering that it was her cousin Chris that tampered with the plane, could she be getting access through his lawyer? Did he receive a copy of documents at trial time to look over as part of the evidence?” Chase shrugs his shoulders as he had never wondered and worried about that. Through his fears at that time, he had just let the district attorney’s office handle it, making sure that Chris didn’t have any freedom coming in the future.

“I’ll mention that to the investigating officer to look into. Thank you for the suggestion.” He then takes the envelope back, putting it with everything else as they continue walking. “That actually gives me a bit of comfort as it explains her access to everything. I just wish she’d come out and face me, rather than play hide-and-seek.”

“As much as I don’t want you facing danger or anything like that again, I can see why you would want that, Chase. I understand how this is driving you insane.” Bill knew he wanted to give Chase space as he was grown up now, but this was one of those extreme situations. “Would you feel more comfortable if Mom and I came down to Daytona with you?” Chase knew being an adult, he should be able to handle this alone and deal with every emotion and twist on his mind. however, he couldn’t help but want that extra security feeling.

“If you could please, I’d appreciate it…” Bill simply nods his head accepting, knowing Cindy would have no problem with it.

Sarina sits on the couch nervously as she watches the door open, with Chase entering, followed by his parents. He could instantly sense something was off with her as he walked over, lightly kissing her cheek.

“Why do I have a feeling that I am not going to like what you’re going to say?” He questions, reading her facial expressions immediately.

“Because I fucked up today, like usual,” she answers and he just looks at her confused. “Clearly you haven’t been on twitter at all….” He was now even more confused as he took out his phone, scrolling through some of the messages.

“I’m not seeing anythin-”

“Go to my page and see what I sent out, followed by the responses. And for the record, I’m sorry and I didn’t mean anything by it.” He went to her page, seeing the tweet that she sent out mid-afternoon. It certainly wasn’t something that he would’ve preferred to send out himself, or seen, but it wasn’t the worst thing that could’ve been posted. But clicking the responses, his jaw drops immediately at some of the mentions.

“So because you made a simple joke in regards to the Hooters girls, this is what has transpired today while I was out?” She slowly nods her head as the parents both look on confused.

“What’d she post?” Bill whispers to Cindy as  Cindy had pulled out her phone to look herself.

“Someone asked her about the Hooters girls and how they always hang around Chase,” Cindy whispers back. “She replied that they should focus more on their chicken wings and the kitchen, than him, because there was no way that he was leaving her arms. She then made a crack that her hooters were prettier, anyway.” Bill looks between the pair, shocked and intrigued, as Sarina lets out a sigh.

“Chase, I never meant anything by it,” she starts quietly. “I mean, I was just being a bit of a sarcastic ass-”

“You don’t need to apologize,” he cuts her off as he sits down beside her on the couch. “Have I gotten any messages from Hooters? Nope, but you know they’ve seen it because they replied it – and frankly, they took better to it than everybody else. Have I gotten any messages from Morgan, anybody at HMS, or have you gotten any messages from anybody at KBM? Everybody that’s important is fine with it.” She then lets out a sigh as she taps the tweet to bring up all the replies.

“And what about all this crap? Saying that I should keep my mouth shut? There’s also some that say that I am being a little over possessive, possibly controlling, and you should look into that. Of course, the best is those who say I am only with you for the fame, hence the Late Model ride which got Kyle’s attention. Do I need to go on, Chase?” Chase grabs his phone, instantly shutting off Twitter as he keeps his eyes locked on her.

“Do you see any of those comments bothering me? I know that you’re not that way, and I know what we have. I know that you were just being a little sarcastic – maybe just maybe over the line a tiny bit, but I know you didn’t mean to be harmful with your words. I know who you are. I love you. I want to be with you. I see a future for us. I see a beautiful, charming, stunning, determined, honest, fierce, racecar driver and woman that is my equal and true love. I can give you all the reasons why I love you, not because of what they say.” A small smile forms on her face as she reaches out for his hand.

“I thought you’d be upset…” He shakes his head no.

“Besides, those who know you, know that you didn’t mean anything by it. Those who know and respect you took it the same way that I am. That’s why there hasn’t been any other messages. That’s why I see a ton of fan support mixed in all that garbage. Those who were saying the other things – they’re just jealous of you, for the success you’ve had, and what we have. They’re just haters trying to get you riled up, the same way people say that I only have my ride at Hendrick because of my Dad and that I have no talen-”

“They’re full of shi-”

“Exactly, the same way they are about you. So just ignore it and don’t let it get to you. Stick to your guns, your beliefs, and those who are behind you, and let them hate. Haters are motivators, per your boss right?” She chuckles, remembering those words, as she nods her head.

“Thank you.” She then lets out a sigh. “It just hurt to see everything being said…”

“That’s because your human, and you have feelings, and it’s okay. As long as you realize that those hurtful things aren’t representative of yourself, and do what we’ve said, that’s what matters. It’s also nice that you told me, too.” He leans in and lightly kisses her lips.

“Media day tomorrow should be interesting now, huh?” Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“Let ‘em talk and ask questions. Just be honest and go with it. Everything will be fine…”

He then stands up, walking to the kitchen as he takes his phone out. He goes back into Twitter, finding one of his favourite photos of them together from Disney World.

This would be one of his more standout posts than what he would usually post, but he wasn’t about to let Sarina face the music alone, either.

@chaseelliott: Everybody can say what they want, but I’m standing behind @SarinaOtt18 no matter what. We both love each other equally, and forever, and there’s nothing going to change that. So she’s right @Hooters Girls, she’s the only leading lady in my life right now but I do like your wings.

Closing his phone and shutting off notifications for the night, it was time to focus on having some fun together with his parents.