Cabin Fears – Chapter 27: The Reunion

Recall from “Chasing The Love” that the current make-up at Hendrick consist of Chase Elliott, Ella Gordon, Genieve Johnson and Cameron Hayley.

Alyssa glanced out of the hauler, seeing all the hustle around the car as various media members took glances, followed by photos, and interviewing the various people around.

“Care if we come see our girl?” Alyssa hears and glances just outside the doors to see Ella Gordon and Genieve Johnson standing there. She simply smiles, giving each of the girls a hug.

“It’s nice to see you both, as well,” she replies with a glance between them.

“You look absolutely amazing considering everything,” Ella compliments her. “When Dad came home and told me everything, I couldn’t believe it at all and felt myself scared for you. But damn, you look just as wonderful as always.”

“Hey, that goes both ways. You still look as beautiful as ever, picking up on those looks from your mom obviously.” Ella chuckles with a slight smile.

“I know that I’m a dear, but you – you’ve been through all that and look just as amazing.”

“You don’t look bad either Chase,” Genieve adds with a glance towards Chase as he stood in the trailer, waiting for the minutes to practice to tick away. “How are you feeling?”

“Still pretty sore at times, but it’s not too bad,” he answers honestly.

“Cameron mentioned to us after the team meeting that he was hoping to see you at some point this weekend to say hi,” Ella mentions, referring to their teammate Cameron Hayley.

“Well when you see him, tell him I wouldn’t mind that and can work at making that happen before the end of the weekend.” Ella smiles, making a mental note of the message.

“So how the heck did you everything approved by NASCAR?” Evie wonders as she glances over at Alyssa, who simply shrugs her shoulders. To her, it was a miracle that they had approved it.

“Go ask Stevie because I have no idea,” she answers, honestly. She still wondered what Steve had told them. “It also didn’t help that the test at Hickory went well.”

“Enough that you could win this weekend?” Alyssa smiled, and hoped that was the case as that was her plan. Confidence seemed to radiate ever since the test and how well it went despite the apprehensions so she was going to ride that all the way to victory lane that night. Besides, she had been strong back in March at Bristol.

“That’s the plan. Just need to do what I know best and make it happen.”

“Just remember to be careful too, okay?” Chase throws in, earning a glance from Alyssa who shakes her head easily.

“Trust me Chase, I’ll be careful and watch too,” she adds as she moves over to him, wrapping an arm around him. “Trust me. I know how to take care of myself and that I am doing the right thing. I also know that I can handle everything else around it. Just trust me. It’ll be fine.” She then leans in and snags a quick kiss as he wraps his arms around her. She knew the reasons for his nerves, as it went everything that had been experienced since what happened. However, she was willing to be patient and handle everything each piece at a time.

“They’re just the most adorable couple in the garage,” Ella comments as she glances towards Genieve. “Even cuter than Brexton (Busch) and Taylor (Hamlin) if you ask me.”

“What about your brother and Elladee (Crafton)?” Genieve questions as Ella shrugs her shoulders. She hadn’t made up her mind on them, yet.

“We’ll see how that goes, to be honest. Although, Karsyn and Ryan aren’t that bad, either.”

“I remember when I heard that Chase and the Dillons played matchmaker to make that happen,” Alyssa interrupts the pair as she leans back against Chase. “I was at first surprised that he and Ty managed to co-operate for that long, but also surprised that those two hadn’t picked up on each other sooner.”

“Karsyn was stubborn in her ways at times,” Chase comments, remembering some of his careful and interesting moments with her. There was a night in particular that they had crossed paths in the garage after one of his hidden meetings with Alyssa that would always stick in his mind. He was glad, though, that things had worked out that everybody seemed happy through this summer thus far.

“She’s still stubborn at times to be honest,” Genieve starts. “I thought Tony was going to have to find a tranquilizer when she went after Brexton a couple weeks ago for that incident.”

“Whose fault was that anyway?” Chase wonders as Genieve shrugs her shoulders.

“I got no idea, but Tony says that it was Brexton’s – but then again, he owns Karsyn’s car so who knows.”

“I called it as one of those1 racing incidents where both did something,” Ella comments, having watched the replay.

“I was wondering where you both ran off,” Cameron interrupts the conversation as he walks over to the group. “Nice to see you both back at the track.”

The group kept trading sentiments and jokes around, which was a nice distraction for the time being for both Chase and Alyssa as they waited for practice. It was nice to catch back up with their fellow track peeps, and hang out for awhile.

Though as he kept his arms tightly wrapped around Alyssa, Chase knew it was just a temporary distraction. There were still a lot of things on both of their minds, emotions to work through especially for him. There was still a tinge of fear and anxiety in simply walking out through the trailer doors into the crowds that surrounded the garage area.  There was also the unsettling fear and worry of possibly being split from Alyssa one day, and she being gone. Even with the laughs spent with his teammates, those thoughts wouldn’t dare try to leave.

His mind was then cut off from thoughts when Kevin Meendering poked his head through the trailer doors, telling Alyssa that it was time to come to the garage area with only 10 minutes till the first practice.

“I’ll see all of you later as I’ll be around all weekend,” Chase lets his teammates know, and following a couple trades all the way around and good luck wishes, the pair was headed out to the garage.

The walk across from the trailer to the garage stall was only five minutes, 10 minutes with the fans that wanted autographs and comments along the way. However, it felt much longer with feelings flip flopping the whole way till they were in the safety of their own spot.

Alyssa reaches the car, taking a glance in, before turning around to face Chase as she leans back against the car.

“This shouldn’t feel odd or strange, but it somehow does,” she starts. “I guess it’s because you’re standing here dressed in no firesuit.” She then takes a deep breath. “I love you, and I’m ready to have some fun.” He smiles as he brings himself right close to her.

“I love you too, and I trust that you’ll be careful while having some fun,” he tells her. “I’ve always been a big believer in your ability behind the wheel, and am now more than ever. I know that you can do it. I believe in you. Good luck, have fun, and go show ‘em what you’re made of.”

“That’s the plan.” She then gives him a quick kiss before facing the car to begin the process of getting ready and climbing in.

The next eight minutes went by quicker than she anticipated with excitement and nerves building as each second passed. With a flick of the fingers from Kevin Meendering, she hit the switch to fire up the car and head out to pit road, ready for her first laps of the weekend.

Taking a deep breath, there was no looking back now. It was time to practice hard to win.

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Chasing The Love – Chapter 107: Texas

While she had wanted to stop thinking about it, she found herself still pondering things in regards to Leo for the rest of the week. It carried over into Friday once she reached the track, set for practice. She knew once buckled in the car, it wouldn’t bother her and he’d be just another competitor. However, that didn’t mean it didn’t bother her out of the car.

“Your mind is on something,” she hears and glances at her dad with a shy smile. It never failed that her dad could read her mind.

“It’s about Leo,” she lets on as he glances at her surprised. Things seemed great between her and Chase. Why was Leo back in the picture? “And no, it’s not what you’re thinking. I still know that I made the right decision. Things are great for Chase, and Leo and I weren’t meant for that.”

“So why are you thinking about him then?” She then glances down towards his stall as she lets out a sigh.

“Even though we’re not together, I wanted to be friends. However, he hasn’t been open to that much. We finally confronted each other on our feelings and I could just tell that something was up. He doesn’t want to approach that friendliness now, but he says that maybe in time.” Dale shakes his head, understanding.

“Heartbreak is sometimes hard to deal with, sweetie. It cuts you deep and probably when he sees you, it reminds him of that pain, even if you both know what happened was for the right reasons. Maybe once he starts to move forward and figure out direction it’ll be fine. Maybe once he finds a girlfriend.” She rolls her eyes, as she had heard enough about fixing people up lately courtesy of those around her.

“Well, I’m not playing cupid so he’s going to have to figure that out. I just hope that he does soon as it hurts seeing him like that, knowing that I caused that.” Dale crosses his arms as his eyes falls on his daughter once again.

“Please tell me that you’re not having any regrets about what happened.” Her eyes immediately dart away on the thought. “Alyssa…” She then lets out another sigh, as if she had been seen through, and glances back at her dad.

“I have no regrets about Chase and I being together. That’s what I want. I also have no regrets in ending the relationship with Leo. I just maybe have regrets in how I went about it and what happened following.” Dale shakes his head, understanding, giving the rift raft and how quickly it seemed she fell into Chase’s arms.

“Those are understandable regrets. But is there anything that you can do now? Nope. That’s why you need to try and put your best foot forward, and learn from your mistakes, and hope that he can do the same.” He then gives her shoulder a squeeze and a kiss on the forehead. “It’ll work out, don’t worry. Besides, you can’t be upset this weekend. You’re just shy of your birthday.” She smiles knowing that her father was right. In just two days, she’d officially be 19 years old. She was hoping to celebrate that weekend in the best way possible with a win.

“I just don’t know how I am going to celebrate it Sunday. I never planned a party or talked to anyone. I was too busy.” Those comments were music to Dale’s ears, knowing what he was planning up with Chase.

“You just worry about doing the best that you can this weekend, and I’m sure everything will go fine on Sunday.” She then raises her eyesbrows curious as to her dad’s comment.

“Does daddy know something that I should know?” Dale just shrugs his shoulders before walking away with a grin. He wasn’t about to offer any clues yet.

Her plan to do well that weekend started off on an iffy note, though, as practice didn’t go as well as she hoped. She found herself mid-way on the practice chart, struggling to find grip and speed. It also didn’t hurt that they ran into transmission problems, either.

With only one practice ahead of the race, she could only hope that her team could pull something out of their asses in terms of a set-up.

While Alyssa struggled their XFINITY practice, both Cup Series practices went as well as Chase could’ve hoped as he was near the top of the scoring charts in both sessions. Given that Texas had treated him well over the years, he was looking towards another great weekend of success.

Of course, he also couldn’t wait to get the weekend done and make it to Sunday for Alyssa’s birthday. He had finally chosen a gift, and put together the perfect plans for the day. It was just about having the pieces fall together on the day of her birthday.

“So, would you happen to know what is planned for my birthday?” He hears, snapping him out of his thoughts quickly as he looks over at Alyssa, surprise written over his face. He immediately washes it away and shakes his head no.

“Why do you ask?” He questions in response, curious. He hoped that all parties involved had kept their mouths shut.

“Well, you’re my boyfriend so I figured you’d know something. I also know that Dad has something up his sleeve based on the response that he gave me earlier.” Chase could already see himself dumping a bucket of ice cold water on Dale’s head right now.

“I don’t know what your dad is planning.” Alyssa knew that was a lie as if there was any parties forthcoming, Chase would probably be in the thick of it involved. It seemed that was the theme all the years growing up.

“That’s strange, especially considering the grin on his face as he walked away. He talked about making this a special birthday weekend and told me about it and Sunday would take care of itself.” Perhaps he could warm that water up a little before dumping it.

“I think your dad gave you good advice, actually, no matter what’s going on. What better way to celebrate a birthday than in victory lane?” She wanted to believe that to be true, but the troubles of practice were weighing on her mind. “Did the team get the car ready to go for qualifying?”

“It’s ready to go. Who knows whether it’ll be quick or not.” He then wraps an arm around her, pulling her close. He could tell her the confidence was waved based on the issues.

“You have a smart group of guys who have been doing this for awhile. You also have teammates to lean on for help with set-ups. You don’t have a thing to worry about it. Just drive it like you know how and I’ll be checking out that cowgirl hat on your head.” She then smiles, catching the reference immediately.

“Perhaps if I win, somebody will need to get some boots for my birthday to match.” He smiles, shaking his head in agreement. He was a small town country boy and while he didn’t buy into the whole country thing all the time, he wouldn’t mind seeing her dressed up at least once.

“It’s a deal. Now just go do your part.”

She agreed to those words, hoping that she’d live up to her end of the bargain. Fortunately, though, it didn’t work out as well as hoped in qualifying as she’d end up 16th. It was better than she had practiced, so they were improving, but still being outside of the top-10 wasn’t the most pleasing feeling.

“For someone who has a birthday in the next couple of days, you don’t seem happy,” she hears as she leans against the pit wall following qualifying. She glances over her shoulder, giving Cameron a glance.

“Would you be happy if you qualified 16th?” She questions as he shrugs his shoulders, stepping over the small barrier.

“Depends on the day that I was having. Given your struggles in practice, its progress. Therefore I wouldn’t be excited, but I’d be pleased with the performance. Besides, Texas is a track where you can pass. You get the car handling good in the race, you’ll be fine.” She shakes her head in agreement knowing that he was right. However, she still didn’t feel too at ease. Perhaps the lack of practice laps was eating at her.

“Thanks for the attempt at a positive outlook. I’ll keep that in mind.” He then crosses his arms, know that there was still some time before qualifying.

“So what are your plans for your birthday?” She shrugs her shoulders. “So it’s a mystery?”

“I know my dad has something up his sleeve, but I don’t know what. Chase isn’t giving me any clues, either.” She ten glances at Cameron as a smile forms on her face. “You’re his teammate….”

“He didn’t tell me a single thing. We haven’t discussed you, ho….well, I was curious about your May plans for Indianapolis but beyond that no discussions.” She shakes her head, remembering the oddness in his visit, followed by the curiosity apology.

“Why were you so curious, anyway?” He shrugs his shoulders, unable to form a good reason.

“I guess my mind was just wondering and I figured I could answer that question before most. Now, if you want to know who probably knows the birthday plans, I bet you if Chase talked to anyone, he talked to Bubba and Ryan.” Alyssa shoo her head as she couldn’t believe that she hadn’t approached either of the boys yet in regards to her curiosity.

“Why am I standing here when I could waste some time asking?” He shrugs his shoulders as he gets up off of the wall.

“Seems you have a question to go ask, and I have a car to qualify. I will see you later, but I hope you do well tonight.” He then heads off as she glances down pit road. Who would spill the beans easier – Ryan or Bubba?

Chasing The Love – Chapter 103: Advice

Friday

The thought of picking out the perfect gift continued to linger on Chase’s mind as he headed into the following race weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

With the only practice before qualifying complete, he met up with his teammates in the lounge, and it somehow managed to come up as a topic of discussion.

“I’ve always heard it’s best to go with something that’s special,” Cameron Hayley offers from his perspective. “What is something that would mean something between the pair of you? Possibly you could get a certain necklace, or a bracelet.”

“What about those charm bracelets?” Ella suggests as she had always thought they were cute. “You buy the bracelet and then a couple initial charms that mean something to you and her together, like ones that stand for something. Then, as you go forward, you can continue to add to that.” These both seemed like a solid suggestions, and Chase could even picture himself going with the charm bracelet idea. However, the more he thought about Alyssa, she was your tomboy type who didn’t wear a lot of jewelry.

“So I’m going to get jewelry for the girl that doesn’t wear much at all?” He questions as the teammates shrug their shoulders.

“That just seems odd considering that she used to drive us nuts as a kid with that crown,” Karsyn comments, remembering how Alyssa loved dressing up as a princess with her dress and crown.

“That’s the only fancy thing that the girl loves.” Karsyn chuckles and shakes her head in agreement. She certainly had picked up on the lack of jewelry – maybe even jewelry phobia as a whole that her father had. “Okay, so she’s not the dressy girl and more likes to have fun. It seems that she’s always doing these memorable things. What about a way to capture those moments, like a camera? She seems adventurous and getting into photography would be perfect.”

“You could even get a scrapbook kit so that way she can put whatever memorable moments that she captures together in a book,” Cameron adds. “Or you can do up a scrapbook with some memorable photos from through the years of you two together.” Chase shook his head no, immediately, as he wasn’t the creative type and doing that would involve too much creative work. However, the initial thought of a camera and scrapbook kit for Alyssa seemed alright. It seemed right up her alley. He also had to admit that doing up a scrapbook of their special moments together was something he was filing in the back of his mind was a future Valentine ’s Day gift; perhaps he could get creative on that day.

“Camera and scrapbook kit is on the list of ideas,” he offers, making a note on his cellphone. He had come up with a couple other things, though kept asking himself – would she really enjoy the present? Did it fit her perfectly? Was it truly a special gift?

“She seems like she’s busy, lots on her mind – no time for herself,” Ella starts. “What about a spa day? Treat her to a day at the spa getting pampered like no other. I know that would be the perfect gift for me.” Chase had to admit that Ella had a good idea, considering that it would probably help with the other stresses amongst her life. He also wouldn’t mind that himself as things had been a little hectic lately with everything that was going on.

“A spa day together, ending with a special gift – added.” He just wondered if that clashed too much with the idea that he had already put in place with his partner in crime for her actual birthday. Was it really fair to get her to go out twice?

“Are you ever going to decide on something?” Cameron wonders as he glances over the list that Chase has. Chase chuckles and shakes his head no.

“I will probably decide like the day before,” he comments. “I just want it to be perfect and right…and fitting. It’s her 18th birthday. Do you know how special that is? I remember when I turned 18.”

“You’re putting too much pressure on yourself Chase,” Karsyn says. “That girl loves and adores you. She’ll love whatever you do for her. I’m sure whatever else you have planned beyond this gift will be plenty. Just pick something that fits her personality and go with it, and stop fretting over the small details. Besides, don’t you have a race season and Prom planning to already focus on?” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that Karsyn was right in her own ways.

There was already enough going on with the messages between himself, Darrell, Shelby and a couple others in setting up the NASCAR prom. They had decided on the theme (Old Western Town), the location (Dale’s), a date (May during NASCAR time then), so it was just working out the other small minor details to make it perfect.

“You could always pack some of these ideas together into a special gift basket,” Cameron then suggests after going through Chase’s list. “Get a basket and put in a scrapbook kit, some chocolates that she likes, some of this special chai tea that she likes, the art set that you talk about possibly getting her, and perhaps a couple other things, and then tie off with a fancy bow. It’ll go perfect with what you have planned.”

“Planned?” Karsyn and Ella both ask together, intrigued. Cameron had heard pieces of what Chase was thinking for Alyssa’s actual birthday, from start to finish.

“Ummm….”

“What are you planning, Chasey?” Ella wonders and Chase simply smiles from his spot in the corner.

“I’m not telling you,” he states as he stares down at his phone, texting Alyssa. Even though she wasn’t racing that weekend, she was still at the track enjoying some time with everybody. While he was busy in his meeting, she was busy catching up with some truck series drivers.

“Oh come on….”

“We have to see if it actually is birthday approved for a girly,” Karsyn adds as Chase shakes his head no.

“It’s my secret,” he tells them as both girls then turn to Cameron.

“Cammy….”

“It’s Chase’s plans so I’m not saying anything, but it is adorable worthy,” he offers as the girls glance between the guys.

“This is no fun,” Karsyn comments as Ella pulls out her phone.

“I’m not helping you anymore since you’re not playing fair,” she adds as she opens her twitter.

“That’s fine because I have someone to go see,” Chase states as he stands up and heads out of the hauler.

“Now will you tell us?” Cameron shakes his head no as Ella lets out a sigh. “Figures.”

The day quickly moved forward with qualifying taking place later that afternoon. Unfortunately, it hadn’t gone as Chase had wanted with a poor effort, meaning that he’d start near the back on Sunday. While normally that wouldn’t worry him, this was Martinsville and there was something to be said about track position at a short track.

His poor qualifying effort, combined with the fact that the past week had been confessional week for him and Alyssa, reigned on the mind of many people. There were some that wondered whether it was bugging him more than he was letting on. It was something that he quickly denied, stating that they just missed the set-up in practice.

Later on that night, though, he found himself sitting outside on one of the picnic benches, thinking things over.

“I thought you told my dad that there was nothing bugging you,” he hears and glances up, seeing Elsa standing there with her puppy on its leech. He simply rolls his eyes.

“There’s certain things that are grown-up business only,” he tells her as she walks over to him.

“Chase, it’s alright to admit it. Everybody would understand.” Chase glances away from her as she tries to take a peak at the piece of paper in his hand. He quickly snatches the paper up, looking at her surprised. “So there is something…”

“Haven’t you been told to mind your own business a time or two? I thought Alyssa was supposed to kick your ass for this.” Elsa remembered the lecture that she received, and it was fine and dandy at the time. However, this time it was alright to push the boundaries. After all, she was only trying to help.

“It helps to talk about it…” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that better than anyone as it seemed this was a topic that he had talked about on multiple occasions.

“Demi got her release this past week. I wasn’t going to let it bother me because I’m over what hap-”

“It doesn’t seem like it.” He stops and takes a deep breath, eyes focused towards the ground.

“You’re right – it doesn’t seem like it. Seeing the paper, and going to her hearing of the terms of being let go, it brought everything back up. The judge stated everything that she did and reasons for a probation and protection order. It reminded me of all the feelings that I felt.” He then takes a deep breath as he looks up at her. “It’s not necessarily hurting me, or bothering me. It’s just a reminder of what happened and what I’ve been through. I’m just sitting out here reflecting on things. Though to answer your curious question, I’m fine.” Elsa shakes her head, understanding, as she gives him a small smile.

“I’ve heard bits and pieces of what happened to you. Gotta say – you’re a tough son of a bitch.” He then chuckles a little.

“Maybe I am, but I don’t thin-”

“Don’t deny it.” Chase then shakes his head.

“I’m denying it because it’s the truth. I’m not the tough one that it seems. I’ve only gotten to where I am by having the best friends and family possible surrounding me to help me.” He then glances at the puppy, seeing how it’s trying to retreat bac to the mootorcoach lot. “I think someone wants to go to bed and cuddle, and it’s getting past your bed time.”

“You have to be that type of person, huh?” Chase chuckles.

“I’m only looking out for you, Elsa. Listen, I know it can be tough at times being a teenager and I know life doesn’t always give you the best situation. But you have to know that you got it pretty good. You’ve got understanding parents, and a pair of great siblings. Just try and take it a little easier on them and stay out of trouble, okay?” Elsa had to admit that Chase was right, despite her ways. Perhaps it was time to look at growing up a little bit and getting rid of some of her ways.

“I’ll try, okay?” He shakes his head yes with a smile. “By the way, I think you should head back so you can cuddle my dear sister. She’s probably looking for you.” Chase knew that she was right as he stood up off of the picnic bench.

The pair of them then walked back together to the motorcoach lot, sharing a couple things along the way. Elsa brought up some of life’s frustrations – not always getting to go where she wanted due to the family’s busy schedule, people at school being pain in the butts. It was stuff that Chase was used to having gone through himself, and also hearing the same tales from Alyssa. He took his time, as he had done with Alyssa, to give her the advice that he felt she needed.

“Thanks for the talk,” Elsa says as they reach the motorcoaches. “I’ll try to behave, okay?” He shakes his head yes.

“You always know where to find me if you want to talk again,” he offers. “Just because your sister and I are dating doesn’t change the whole babysitter-looking out for you relationship that I have with each of you kids.” She smiles and shakes her head accepting. “Goodnight Elsa.”

“Night Chase.”

Chasing The Love – Chapter 97: Cupid

Thanks for reading and reviewing 🙂

 

Tuesday

While everything seemed fine with the pair and they were reaching their emotional overload, there was still the concerns of ill-fated feelings through the ripple effects. Leo had his disappointment in the relationship not working out, but had come to understand that it was for the better with their split up.

On the flip side, Karsyn had played the role of playing it perfectly that she was over things with Chase and how they went down in Daytona. However, there was still some disappointment there. How do you expect someone to feel when they’re turned down by their crush.

Chase still felt bad about how things went down that day, and as a result found himself standing in Ty Dillon’s office over at Richard Childress Racing with Hayley. Besides, they had a prom event coming up in a couple of months. He had to make sure that the pieces were in place for everybody at the event.

He had created the event out of his own reasons, with some convincing from Shelby, and now wanted to make it a dreamy night for all of them.

“So you have come to the set-up queen before you feel bad?” Hayley questions as Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“I have an idea of three people that’d be perfect for her. I just don’t know how to go about setting it up, or which of those three to choose.” Hayley’s eyes lit up immediately.

“NASCAR Bachelor Style!” She then grabs a notebook and begins to write down ideas. “We propose to Karsyn that we have three guys that want to go out on a date with her, hopefully making sure each of these three guys agree. She goes on a date with each of them and chooses whom of the best she likes. It’s that simple.”

“I don’t think I could see her agreeing to that, though,” Ty comments from his perspective. “She’s the more the type that she wouldn’t go the shallow lengths of such a despicable show that should never have hit television waves. Why do you think it isn’t on any longer?” Hayley rolls her eyes as Chase shakes his head in agreement. “Given her attitude, you should come straight out to her that you want to help her move forward and have some suggestions. That, or go to one of the guys and suggest that they ask her out.”

“So who are the guys, Mr. Elliott?” Chase could tell that he had lit Hayley up, as she was always interested in playing cupid and making sure everybody was happy in their relationships. She was happy with Ty, and felt that everyone deserved the same.

“Blaney, Custer and your brother.” Ty’s jaw drops in hearing the last suggestion as a smile forms on Hayley’s face. She couldn’t help but giggle as she thought about it more, retracing a couple signs that she had seen through the years.

“Custer can be an ass, no offence and I just can’t see her with my brother,” Ty comments, leaving Blaney as the only option. It still surprised the whole group that Ryan had remained single through the years. He had gone on some dates, but nothing had worked accordingly.

“You’re obviously blind and missing all the signs that I’ve seen,” Hayley offers. “They grew up together, spending time together at the track. She would always hang around and he’d simply accept. Who is the only person that has been allowed to wear his hat? Who is one of a few drivers that she’d go to for anything, besides her teammates and Chase? Come on Ty!” Ty shakes his head in response, not believing anything that Hayley was saying.

“We grew up together. We were childhood friends due to our relations in racing. That’s all. That’s why you see all these things that look like something perfect.”  Hayley didn’t want to believe it as she looked back over at Chase.

“Well?” Chase felt conflicted as he thought about the pair of options left on the table – Blaney or Dillon. She seemed to be closer with Dillon, as Hayley had depicted, but perhaps Ty had debunked the idea with his theory. He knew that he could easily talk to Ryan and convince him to at least ask her on a date. They were both sweet, and deserved someone that could make them happy. It could be the perfect math for everyone….but yet his heard didn’t see it working.

“Now that I’ve talked with you guys, I have the perfect person in mind.” He then smiles as he looks straight at Ty. “Think you could talk to your dear brother?” Ty rolls his eyes as he starts shaking his head no immediately. There was no way that he was going to play friendly amongst the circle with how things had started at the beginning of the year. “Come on…”

“You’re trying to make up for hurting her. You’re trying to make up for going on that little escapade that I set yo-”

“Exactly. You set me up on that blind date with her, with no knowledge of it that night. Therefore, it’s also on your shoulders, too.” Ty lets out a sigh, silently cursing the cupid ideas of his dear girlfriend at times as he glances over at her. He then focuses his eyes back on Chase.

“So is this supposed new date idea supposed to erase what happened? Come on, Chase. You should know better than anyone that you can’t simply make it go away by distraction. Why didn’t you and Alyssa just come out with it from the beginning?” Chase knew the reason that they had then, and wondered if perhaps it would’ve been better to just say something. He wondered what would’ve happened.

“We weren’t sure about things. We had only gotten together, officially for a first date, two nights prior to that set-up. Besides, I didn’t lead Karsyn on now did I? I told her immediately afterwards so she knew.” Chase flops back in one of the chairs. “I love Alyssa and she’s everything to me. But, Karsyn is still a really close friend and you’re always going to care about your friends. For that reason, I want to do this for her. Sometimes people are a little shy with their feelings and need some encouragement. That’s why I’m making this simple suggestion for you to talk to Austin, please?” Ty lets out a sigh, knowing that he better give in or else Chase would continue to plead with him, followed by Hayley later.

“Fine. I’ll talk to him and see what he says. If it all works out, they will be attending your little prom event together in May. But then you better find your buddy Ryan a date.” Chase could only think of the possibilities, and knew that it’d probably require a meeting with Bubba before then.

“I can handle that. I can handle the planning and making sure that Ryan is good to go, if you handle this side of things. I want to make the night perfect for everyone – I want everybody to be with that special person. Let’s make it happen.”

Chase then left the offices shortly after, heading back over to Hendrick Motorsports for another meeting on the day. Piece by piece, it was coming together, just like the relationship he was building with Alyssa with each confession.

There was only one concern that was left on his mind, and he knew that it’d probably involve some conversation with Alyssa if he was going to move forward with it. She had broken with Leo on the right terms and Leo had agreed to those terms, seeing the lack of chemistry. But now how could they make the prom night special for him, too?

Beyond that, he also had Alyssa’s birthday next month and was in the process of trying to figure out the perfect gift to get her. Given that it was her first birthday with them as an official couple, he knew that he had to make it special in some way. But how would he do that?

It was a thought that he contemplated till he arrived back at Hendrick Motorsports, shuffling it off of his mind before heading inside. He immediately heads up to his office, going inside and flopping back on the couch. The meeting wasn’t for another 40 minutes, so he could squeeze in a nap.

With having the confessional session, it hadn’t been the best night to sleep for either of them, given how late they went to sleep and everything that they had on their minds. It was why he had chosen to do it while she was on her spring break from school. At least they could snag in naps, if they needed them, in between commitments. He didn’t need her falling asleep in class.

“Are you sleeping?” Chase hears as he is just about to fall asleep. He then glances towards the doorway, seeing Cole Custer standing there as he looks in the office. “You look tired as hell.”

“Long night,” Chase offers without much thought. “I’d rather not discuss it, please.” Cole then looks at him confused as he crosses his arms.

“Girl problems?” Chase shakes his head no as he lets his eyes close once again. “Is there issues with everything that happened? Isn’t someone supposed loo-”

“Don’t finish that sentence.” Cole instantly shuts his mouth, shaking his head in an understanding matter as Chase lets out a sigh. “Look, Alyssa wanted to know what happened from my perspective. It’s her spring break so I’m telling her everything. It was a late night. Now that you have your answer, can I sleep for a half hour, please?” Cole slowly shakes his head yes.

“Sorry…” He then slowly closes the door as Chase get comfortable, letting himself drift to sleep.

He was able to get his sleep without any issues, with the alarm going off in a timely fashion. He got up and headed to the meeting, joining his teammates and their crew chiefs. The meeting went without a hitch as everybody was able to easily reflect back on the previous weekend, while making suggestions towards the upcoming weekend.

The goal was simple – make it back to victory lane once again so they could bank more of those bonus points. If he couldn’t win, make sure it was a teammate in victory lane so they could get all four cars in the Chase for the boss.

“Chase?” Chase hears as he goes to leave the conference room after the meeting. He was going to check in with the shop guys, and then head home to make dinner for him and Alyssa. He figured if they were going to continue, they might as well start off with a good meal.

“What’s up, Cameron?” He asks. He was still a little off-guard about his teammate, given how curious Cameron was about Alyssa possibly running the double, and how he handled the situation. It was just odd to have him waiting at the house and asking the question, with nothing else in mind.

“I just want to apologize for how I approached things a week ago. I was just really curious on what she was doing, and let that curiosity do some things that I’m not comfortable with as I look back. It was unfair to ask you like I did. I should’ve simply texted you, or waited to see what the official word was. I’m sorry.” Chase understood where his teammate was coming from, and was easily willing to accept the apology. It didn’t mean that everything would be forgotten, though.

“I understand. I’m sorry for how I’ve treated you since. It’s hard to simply trust people and let things go like that with….everything. I’m sorry.” Cameron shakes his head, understanding, having heard Chase’s story of events through the media coverage.

“It’s okay. I understand, as well. Let’s just focus on working together as friends, okay?” Chase shakes his head yes before continuing on his way.

Chasing The Love – Chapter 88: The Double

Thanks for reading and reviewing 🙂  

 

Monday Evening

 

Chase grabbed his phone, shutting down the computer as he walked out of his office. He then closes the door behind him, locking it before heading down the hall.

 

It seemed that everything was coming together. Alyssa was going to get to attend her graduation, as well as everybody else that wanted to be there to support her. He had also chosen a theme for the prom, with Shelby already working magic on the invitations to send to everyone. All that he needed to now was figure out the best way to ask her to the prom.

 

“So I hear that your girlfriend is causing quite a stir?” Chase hears, glancing over his shoulder to see Cole standing there.

 

So, perhaps everything wasn’t perfect. There was still the issue of whether or not Alyssa was truthfully running the double, as well as the issue of spring break coming up, would meant confession time.

 

“Oh come on Cole, does it surprise you?” Chase questions, sarcastically with a smile. Cole just laughs as he catches up with his teammate as they walk through the halls of HMS together.

 

“I have to admit – you guys kicked off this year on a bigger, crazier note that I could’ve imagined. Who knew that you’d have everybody talking about you guys due to a relationship?” Chase couldn’t help but smile about it, despite the bits of stress that came with the media on their backs.

 

“I never could’ve expected it to happen like it did, but I have no complaints Cole. It’s almost as if it’s meant to be.” Cole couldn’t help but agree, despite his initial reservations. It seemed that they were over the top happy together.

 

“So how is it that she stirs the pot again with the possibility of running the Memorial Day double?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, unsure himself. He was looking forward to following through his mom’s advice and asking Alyssa herself later that night.

 

“I don’t know, yet. I haven’t had the chance to ask her myself about what’s going on there. It seems odd considering that’s the weekend that she is graduating, too.” Cole looks on surprised, having not heard the details of Alyssa’s graduation.

 

“Has she ever discussed the idea of driving an open-whee-”

 

“Are we truthfully having this discussion, Cole? Everybody knows Alyssa. She’ll drive anything and everything. It seems that she’s been brought up under the Kyle Busch/Tony Stewart rule of thumb.” Upon Chase mentioning it, there was no argument from Cole as he remembered the dirt track days, and how Alyssa was trying different things to race.

 

“At least she didn’t inherit the attitude, right?” Chase rolls his eyes. “I’m just saying that it’d be crazy stress if we had to deal with that, too.” Perhaps his teammate had a point, even if both turned out pretty cool after everything. “Have you thought about her birthday at all?” Chase shakes his head no. He knew that would be coming up before anything else that was being planned, but honestly hadn’t had a chance to think about it with everything that was going on. “That should be important, epically since you’re dating.”

 

“Let’s just say that I have my hands full and haven’t had a chance to discuss that quite yet.” He then heads out of the shop, walking over to the car. “See ya later Cole.” He then climbs in the car and heads off, set for home.

 

For Chase, each night was a short drive from Hendrick Motorsports to Dirty Mo Acres, as long as track co-operated. Tonight was one of those nights where traffic was heavier than normal and it took an extra hour than he had expected. So much for the quick half hour drive home.

 

Letting out a sigh, he drives down the short pathway that led to the house, pulling up in front of the garage. He then climbs out of the car, set to head inside and have a quiet night, a good dinner, and some discussion. Though, it seemed his plans changed in an instant when he noticed someone sitting on his porch steps.

 

He walls up to the house, crossing his arms as he sees his teammate sitting there before him.

 

“What are you doing here, Mr. Hayley?” He questions as Cameron looks on surprised.

 

“Can’t I come spend some time with my teammate?” Cameron asks as Chase lets out a sigh. Perhaps he was being a little harsh on him.

 

“I don’t mind spending time with you. I just wish that you’d give me some warning.” Cameron shrugs his shoulders. It wasn’t the best ploy, but it kicked off discussion. He wasn’t about to reveal the true reason for his appearance, yet.

 

“Okay, I apologize. I didn’t mean to do that. Oh, if you’re looking for your girlfriend, she’s not at home. She’s actually over with her parents right now, discussing something.” Chase wasn’t too worried about that, as he was used to Alyssa spreading her time between her parents and him. “She was over here working on her homework when I got here. We talked a little, till her sister came in and said that her parents wanted to talk to her about something. Alyssa asked what was going on, and Elsa said it had to do with the rumors.” Chase shook his head as that was to be expected. Perhaps he wasn’t the only person curious about it. “So, what’s the truth? Is she running the double?”

 

“I’m going to guess that you acme over for the same reason why Cole stopped me on the way out, and the same reason that Ty texted me today. I do not know the validity of the rumors. I haven’t had a chance to ask her myself. I learned about them for the first time today.” Cameron felt frozen in that moment, with nothing to do. So much for being quiet about things.

 

“I….I got to go…” Chase could only roll his eyes as he watched Cameron head off.

 

“Good try Cam, good try. See you tomorrow.” Chase then heads up the steps and heads into the house, slipping his coat off. He figured that he better start on dinner, but wasn’t quite sure yet to even do that as would he be cooking for one, or two?

 

Letting out a sigh, he flopped back on the couch instead and flipped on the television. Perhaps he could pass the time while he waited to see what would happen. However, that wasn’t accomplishing anything so he made his way across the short walkaway, knocking on the front door. He then looks on surprised as he watches Robby open the door.

 

“What have your parents said about getting the door?” He questions the nine-year-old. Robby just shrugs his shoulders as he moves back.

 

“I saw you from my bedsroom so why are you so concerned?” Robby responds as Chase rolls his eyes. It seemed each of the kids had a flare of their own attitude.

 

“I don’t want you to get into any trouble, if that matters to you.” Robby couldn’t help but smile. He wasn’t worried about getting into trouble as someone else had taken the cake.

 

“They’re in the living room.” Robby then heads up the stairs without another word.

 

Chase then takes a deep breath, walking down the hall as he peaks into the room, seeing Alyssa sitting on the couch with her parents standing before her.

 

“You’re never too old to get into trouble,” he comments quietly to himself as he walks into the room.

 

“So, are the rumors true?” Dale asks as he stands before his daughter. He was already figuring for her answer to be ‘no’ as if they were true, why hadn’t he heard about something sooner?

 

“They are not true,” Alyssa answers as she glances between her parents. That wasn’t a lie, either. She knew that there was no time within her schedule to try and do the double, despite wanting to do it badly. “I am being completely honest. I can give you any details that you want about what actually happened, and what I’m thinking.”

 

“Start talking,” Marie instructs sternly, not moving from her position of arms crossed, anger written on her face.

 

“I had the sponsorship appearance in Indiana a couple we-”

 

“I know your schedule,” Dale cuts her off. “Get to the important factors before your mother chops your head off.”

 

“Once I got done the appearance, I didn’t have to fly out for another three hours,” she continues, recalling the trip. “So it was either stand around and wait, or do something to pass the time. The article is right – I made the trip to one of the shops. I went to go Andretti Autosport. You know that I’m good friends with the Andrettis, especially the twins Mia and Mario. So I simply stopped in to see them, say hi and also say hi to Marco.”

 

“Was there any discussions whatsoever surrounding you running an Indy Car?” Marie demands as Alyssa takes a deep breath. She knew how her mom felt about her running an open-wheel car, and knew that discussions of that possibility wouldn’t ever go well.

 

“I can’t lie to you, mom. We certainly discussed the possibility in the future. Did those discussions surround this year? Absolutely not. I already got my hands full enough with the sleeping issues, my rookie season in XFINITY, school and graduation. I don’t need any more on my plate, especially in the month of Ma-”

 

“But there were discussions?” Alyssa shakes her head yes, recalling the conversation in her head.

 

“I want to do the double, eventually. I want to try an open-wheel car. Marco talked about arranging me a test in the fall once the season is over. We’re also talking about the possibility of doing it for next season. That’s all the conversation consisted of. Am I done?”

 

“Alyssa, watch your attitude,” Dale warns, causing Alyssa to look over at him right away.

 

“I haven’t said anything wrong, have I?” She questions and he lets out a sigh, shaking his head no. “I just hate being accused of something when it isn’t even true. I also just hate that since someone is unsure of the idea, she has to be stuck up in my nose about it – just like she was when I first started dating Chase. I’m 18. I’m a grown-up now. I can make my own decisions.” She then looks over at Chase with a smile, in which he promptly returns. However, he couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed as he had originally judged her upon the original rumor.

 

“Stop by the PR office tomorrow and work with them to release a decent statement, declining the rumor. Oh, and get a hold of Andretti to make sure it’s clear across the board.” Alyssa shakes her head in agreement. “Good. As far as the other half of your comment, your mother cares about you and is doing things with your best interests in mind. I know it can be frustrating, but give her a bit of benefit, okay?”

 

“Understood.” Alyssa glances at the ground, biting her tongue as she looks back up and over at her mother. Perhaps she had been too hard, even if she was frustrated beyond a shadow of a doubt about the past month or so. “I’m sorry for what I said, mom. It’s just been frustrating at times.”

 

“Apology accepted,” Marie comments. “Are you staying for dinner?” Alyssa shakes her head no as she stands up and walks over to Chase.

 

“I promised Chase that I’d make him something tonight. I’ll come over tomorrow night for dinner.”

 

“Okay, that’s fine. See you children later.”

 

“Okay.” Alyssa then takes Chase by the hand and practically drags him out of the house.

 

“We didn’t agree to anything,” Chase comments once they got outside. Alyssa then looks over at him, and shrugs her shoulders.

 

“I lied, okay?” She tells him. “Let’s face it – I didn’t want to stick around tonight after that lecture spell. I need some time away from her for a bit. I figured we could do something together. It’s up to you whether we go out or stay in.”

 

 

Chasing The Love – Chapters 71 Thru 75

Chapter 71: The Outsider

Wednesday

Later that evening, Leo sat in his room doing his homework, not really enjoying any bit of it as usual. The sooner he got done school that year, the better. That was the only point glued in his mind.

Of course, that meant when his phone went off, he immediately paid attention to it, answering it without research.

“Hello?” He says as he kicks back in the chair.

“Hey Leo,” he hears a female voice, immediately cluing in to who it was. “It’s Emma. How are you?” He had to smile, already having recognized her voice before she had said her name.

He hadn’t spent a lot of time with Emma Vitty over the years, but had no problems with her. To him, she seemed like a nice girl within the racing community. Of course, he knew what others thought of her, as she was Chase’s ex-girlfriend, but he didn’t have the reservations that others had. Even when she quickly got with Marshall, he didn’t have any ill feelings.

“I’m doing okay, just doing homework,” he tells her. “How are you?” Emma flips her hair around as she glances over at Marshall with a smile.

“I’m doing great, just relaxing. I just wanted to call and see how you were. Everybody is so focused on Chase and Alyssa that it’s sort of left nobody to care about you and how you’re feeling. I was just….worried.” Leo lets out a sigh as he had seen the media following the pair had gathered since announcing their relationship. He saw the media’s questions, followed by the social media comments. He also saw how it lit up like crazy yesterday with Alyssa’s tweet.

He had his opinion on them, and it wasn’t pretty. He wanted to believe that the pair – he and Alyssa – had broken up for the right reasons. However, as he watched her quickly go to Chase without reservation, it did make the break-up sting a little more, despite the fact that he had to admit it had been coming. Seeing how close they were and how open things were quickly off the bat didn’t make it any easier, either.

When he and Alyssa first got together, the parents had reservations about how and where they spent time together. Why was she so easily allowed to sleep with him at night? Where had those previous reservations gone?

“I have to admit that it’s been tough, Emma,” he confesses. “There are nights where it hurts more than others. There are nights I feel heartbroken, times I feel angry and other times that I’m glad that we broke up before we got even more serious. That comes with any break-up, right?” Emma smiled as she made a couple of notes on a piece of paper with a smile towards Marshall. This was almost perfect.

“I understand, completely,” she replies. “It must also hurt because you guys were such good friends for so long, as well being close with Jimmie’s kids, Keelan and….the garage kiddies as it was called. I guess that’s out of the window, huh?” It hurt even more to hear those words come out so openly. However, he knew it was a possibility. He and Alyssa had agreed originally to stay friends, but was that really possible given the circumstances?

“I don’t know, Emma. We’ll just have to wait and see.” She then lets out an aggravated sigh as that put a kink in the plans.

“I understand. Well, look, I got to go but I just wanted to check in with you. If you ever need anything, just let me know. Talk to you later, Leo.”

“Bye Emma.” She then hangs up the phone, turning off the recorder as she glances back at Marshall with a smile.

“It seems that things aren’t as pretty as Chase and Alyssa commented.” Marshall shakes his head with a small laugh.

“Does that honestly surprise you?” He questions as he wraps his arms around her.

“Not at all,” she comments as she looks down at her phone. “I kind of hate screwing Leo in this deal, but it’ll look great on Chase and Alyssa….more so on Chase.” Marshall smiles as he kisses her lips. It was nice to have a buddy that was willing to do whatever it took to screw things up for the ‘pretty boy’.

“We also have that deal with Karsyn. She didn’t seem pleased, either, that night.” Emma shakes her head, remembering the discussion between Chase and Karsyn after they were stuck a dinner with Ty.

“What about Dillon?” Marshall thinks it over, having not heard much from Ty in the aftermath.

“I think he’s actually cool with things, surprisingly. But that doesn’t surprise me. Remember, the silver spoon fan favs stick together.” Emma laughs as she puts her phone up for the night.

“Now we just have to wait till the right time…and the right gossip magazine. Have I mentioned how much I love you lately?” Marshall laughs as he kisses her lips.

Meanwhile, Cameron had shown up at Chase’s place along with Cole, looking for some hang out time with him as they had done plenty of times previously. However, they were both met with a surprise as Alyssa was already over, sharing a video game with him.

“What’s this?” Cameron questions as he looks over at Alyssa. “Tired of being beat by us that you throw us away for your girlfriend?” Chase laughs as Alyssa looks over at Cameron intrigued.

“Why don’t you sit your ass down and see if those words come true, Cammy?” She asks as he looks at her surprised.

“She’s actually beaten me a couple of times,” Chase confesses as Cole laughs.

“Let me guess – you let her so you could get lucky!” Cole lets out as Chase gives him an instant smack.

“No….just no…” Cole then puts his arms up in innocence.

“I didn’t mean anything by it. I know that you’re both being behaved.” He then sits down and grabs a controller. “So, are the nights of us bombarding your house for video games with just the guys over?” Chase thinks it over as he glances over at Alyssa before looking back over.

“I’d never give up my hang out nights,” he tells them. “We’re just going to have plan a bit. We can work it in everybody’s schedule. When she’s out with friends and we’re not hanging together and I have a moment, then we’ll do it. Just like normal.” Alyssa glances over at the boys, catching their drift with a sigh.

“Before you start bugging and pouting, I’m not going to screw up things,” she starts. “I get it – he needs his time with his boys, just like I need my time with the girls. We’ll find a balance….just like everything.” She then hits the menu button, choosing her racecar. “Now, who’s ready to get their ass kicked by a girl?”

“Good luck,” Cole replies as he glances over at her with a smile. “And for the record, I wasn’t concerned. I’m not one of those who are against the pair of you being together or anything. I get it and you’re utterly adorable.”

“No hard feelings, Cole?” He shakes his head no. “Awww he’s still my buddy, Chasey!” Cameron laughs as Chase rolls his eyes.

“And how old are we again?” Chase questions, remembering all the years she called him that.

“You’ll always be my Chasey,” she tells him before kissing his cheek. “Doesn’t mean I’m letting you win.”

“Bring it on.”

Chapter 72: Morning

Thursday

Dale glances out of the kitchen as he watches Alyssa come through the front door and head for the stairs.

“How is it that she can not even show up for breakfast and I have to sit here and eat this?” Elsa complains as Dale looks over at her.

“Because your sister had breakfast already,” Dale informs her as he stands up and makes his way through the house. He then heads up the stairs, going to her bedsroom. He notices the door is closed, knocking on it.

“Getting dressed!” She tells him as she slips on her t-shirt. She then glances in the mirror, pleased with her appearance before opening the door. “Hey daddy!”

“Hey sweetheart. You don’t even say hi anymore?” She then lets out a little sigh.

“Sorry. I’ll remember to come say hi in the kitchen in my pajamas before coming up to get changed and ready to go.” He then shakes his head, not believing how quickly his baby girl was growing up.

“Did you eat break-”

“Chase and I ate before I left to come get changed.” She then grabs her brush and heads down the hall to the bathroom. She flips the light on, brushing her hair in the mirror as Dale peaks in.

“Have you guys talked about anything?” She then freezes and looks over and shakes her head yes. He then looks at her curious as she turns back to the mirror. “So you’ve started the proces-”

“Just barely, okay?” She then looks over at him. “He told me a little secret about what happened because I asked him a question. We haven’t gotten into the big details yet, and I haven’t said anything yet.” She then looks back at the mirror with a sigh. “I want to talk about it. I want to do the right thing that I need to do. I just haven’t got the chance to do it yet. We’ve had the time, but just not the right…..I don’t know to explain it.” He then walks up behind her, snatching the brush as he finishes up her pony tail for her.

“I get it, okay? You’re comfortable with him, but haven’t found the right comfortable time that feels right to divulge all of your secrets, either way.” She shakes her head yes, glad that he understood. “I’ve been there, Alyssa. I know what you’re going through. It’s okay – I’m not mad or concerned that you haven’t talked about it, yet. At least you’re getting your sleep and you’re starting the process. When the time feels right, you’ll know and you’ll tell him. The same goes with what he wants to tell you. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.” He then finishes putting her pony tail up and gives her a kiss on the cheek.

“Thanks….” She then turns to face him. “But I’m not a little girl anymore. You don’t need to do my hair.” He then raises his eyebrows, surprised.

“Right….because every time you do your own pony tail, it ends up crocked or falling out halfway through the day.” He then gives her a pat on the head. “I just was trying to be nice.”

“I appreciate it – honestly. And thank you for the advice, too.” He then looks into her blue eyes.

“You also know that you can come and talk to me abut anything, whenever, right?” She shakes her head yes as she takes a deep breath.

“I know, dad. If I need to talk to you about something, I’ll come to you. Can I go?” He shakes his head yes as she leaves the bathroom, returning to her bedsroom to get something as he heads back down the stairs.

He returns to the kitchen, catching a glance from Marie as the other two kids head out of the kitchen to finish getting ready for school.

“Regretting that you let her go move in with her boyfriend?” She questions and Dale looks back at her and shakes his head no.

“There’s no issues, Marie,” he answers. “That’s not why I went up to see her. I just offered some advice and wanted to see if they had talked yet. She said that they started the process but haven’t got into details yet.” Marie crosses her arms as she leans back against the counter.

“Right, because they’re probably too busy hanging out with friends and making out.” She then flips her phone on, showing him the Instagram photo from the other day. “Do you need a reminder?” Dale rolls his eyes as he pushes the phone away.

“I know my daughter. I trust my daughter. I know Chase. I trust Chase. They’re not up to anything wrong. It’s just cuddling together and nothing else. The cuddling helps her sleep easier, knowing that he’s there to protect her. You can stop worrying and start trusting your child more.” He then returns to the table to finish his breakfast as she watches him closely. She then walks up behind his chair, leaning over the back.

“I trust my daughter. I also know what trouble teenagers can ge-”

“I also know a ton of people who were very responsible as teenagers and not doing anything wrong, including Chase and the guys that he hung out with.” He then looks up at her. “If you’re so concerned, then why don’t you ask her?” Marie lets out a sigh as she goes and sits down in the chair at the end of the table.

“I can’t bring myself to do it because like you’re saying, I know it doesn’t sound like something that she’d do. I know she’s responsible and smart, and I know Chase will treat her like a princess. If it was Elsa, I’d be hiding a camera in the bedsroom.” Dale laughs as he looks over at Marie.

“Hence why she’s not dating till she’s out of high school.” Marie laughs as she rolls her eyes.

“You’re dreaming babes. If you try to instill that rule, she’ll just sneak around our backs. We might as well let it happen so we can at least meet the guy.” Dale then crosses his arms, watching Marie curiously.

“So you’re going to let Elsa date despite the concerns, but yet you won’t let Alyssa and Chase live together even though she’ll be 19 in a couple months?” Marie shrugs her shoulders as she relaxes back.

“I guess I’m just worried about our baby.” Dale then smiles.

“Listen, she’s growing up faster than we both could’ve imagined. However, at least we know that she’s a good kid who will smart decisions.” Marie shakes her head in agreement as they both finish up breakfast, satisfied with the discussion.

Meanwhile, after Alyssa had left, Chase had snatched his phone out, calling Ryan immediately. He wanted to catch Ryan before he headed out to talk about a couple of things.

“Can I ask your opinion on something?” Chase questions after they had talked about a couple of various topics for a while.

“Go ahead,” Ryan offers as Chase takes a deep breath.

“Alyssa and I both have a lot that we want to talk to each other about. She wants to tell me about her dreams, and I want to tell her what truly happened with Mariela and Randy. I don’t know how to go about bringing that all up, though.” Ryan relaxes as he remembered the couple of nights that he and Darrell spent time being the person for Chase to lean on through those couple of years.

“It’s going to take time to explain everything so you’re going to want to have time that you both have available. Don’t do it on a race weekend as you don’t want to be distracted – either of you. Perhaps within her school schedule, you could both agree to talk for a couple of hours each night before bed about some things. So say you both say that from 7 to 9, you talk about what happened and start to go through the details. Then after that for an hour, you focus on something positive so that way you can both sleep. There’s not much else that we can do within your schedules.” Chase shaeks his head, agreeing. It seemed to be the only idea that he had.

“I guess, but that may bug her sleep even more. I was thinking during Spring Break in March so that way she doesn’t have to get up each morning for school. We try and keep no sponsor stuff scheduled for that week and then we have as much time as we need.” Ryan thinks it over, knowing that time to explain was of importance.

“That could work, bud. I think you have this figured out better than I do. Why are you calling then?” Chase lets out a sigh.

“I guess I’m nervous. I haven’t talked about it much sine then. I put it all in the rearview.” Ryan could understand as there hadn’t been much talk since then, even with the fact that Demi was in the midst of her final months in jail as it was only a 15 year sentence.

“Well, if you need someone to talk to, you have my number. You can do this bud. It’ll just make you both stronger together in the end.” Chase knew that Ryan was right. He just hoped that they got through revealing it together without too many breakdown moments.

“Thanks. I appreciate that.”

Chapter 73: Las Vegas

Friday

Despite concerns of the day going by slowly, Thursday flew by like a quick breeze. Classes went easily and Alyssa was able to get through her homework quickly, set for her trip to Las Vegas. Chase had flown out with her and they had agreed to stay in Chase’s motorhome together for the weekend, since they were staying at home together anyway.

With XFINITY practice finishing up, Chase headed out to the garage area, set for Cup practice which was going to begin shortly.

“Having fun sacking up with the princess?” He hears as he walks through the garage and immediately turns in the direction of the voice. He immediately rolls his eyes as he sees Ty standing there. He had heard of the younger Dillon brother’s comments about the relationship.

“Still riding on the short tails of your Pop-Pop?” He questions in response, figuring that two could play the game of smart remarks. In truth, he hadn’t had the cleanest past with Dillon. They had their run-in during the truck race in Canada when they were first getting started in the big leagues, but had also crossed paths on-track a couple of times. Chase had thought of borrowing Harvick’s silver-spoon comment during those occasions.

“Well, at least I’m not sleeping for my ride, right?” Chase then laughs as he continues walking towards the garage area.

“Right – because I’ve already won a couple championships and found my way here virtue of beating your ass in the XFINITY Series. But hey, you’re right – I guess that’s what I’m doing. Seriously, grow some balls and grow up. I’m done with kiddy drama.” He then heads to his stall as Ty just shakes his head in disgust.

“You seem like you’re in a peachy mood this fine morning,” Alan comments as Chase walks into the stall. Chase just rolls his eyes as he glances back over towards Ty’s direction.

“Let’s just say that someone should knock off his smart ass comments and focus on driving,” he replies as Alan glances over, seeing Ty with a sigh.

“You knew the moment that you both came out, there’d be comments about the pair of being together. You knew that it’d irk some people. Dillon is one of them, but you can’t let it get under your skin. Just focus on what you need to do in the car, focus on your relationship and ignore the BS.” Chase looks over at his crew chief with a smile, already focused on that. It’d be great satisfaction to finish in front of Ty on Sunday.

“That’s the plan, boss.” Alan smiles as he gives Chase a pat on the back and heads back over to the crew. He just hoped that the drama kept to a minimum over the weekend and the rest of the season.

He was then able to get through practice without any problems, timing in quickest on the charts at the end of the session. It was defiantly an added piece of satisfaction and no doubt the goal of the weekend. With a win to already lock him in the Chase, he was set on having fun for the rest of the year till September.

With another XFINITY practice scheduled, Chase headed out to pit road, watching the session closely, keeping his eyes on one car in particular. He watched as she came off the corner, glancing at the lap times in hopes that she found more success. Seeing that she was currently sitting 12th on the board, he couldn’t complain as it was solid for a rookie.

“Keeping an eye on your princess?” He hears a familiar voice and immediately smiles. Darrell then walks over, sitting beside Chase as he takes in the session. “She looks good out there right now.”

“Solid laps, car looks to be under her well – I say that she’ll be in good shape tomorrow,” Chase offers as he glance at Darrell, before returning his eyes back to the track.

“I heard someone was giving you trouble earlier. Do I need to kick some ass?” Chase laughs and shakes his head no. He had honestly put the exchange between himself and Ty behind him, focusing on the keys to success as Alan had discussed.

“Nah – I don’t feel like bailing you out of jail and explaining to Shelby what happened.” Darrell smiles as he relaxes back, keeping a close eye on his friend.

“So, how close have you two gotten? You’ve been hanging out all the time.” Chase grins as he had been enjoying the time spent with Alyssa. However, in the back of his mind, he knew that the pair hadn’t addressed the one thing that they were supposed to be addressing.

“We’re enjoying the time together, and figuring out how the transition from friends and buddies to a couple really works. So far, things are going good. We’ve got an understanding and have started to open up to each other.” Darrell shakes his head, understanding. He knew the road of opening up was going to be a long run, and had heard the reasons via a conversation with both Chase and Ryan. He just wondered whether his friend could get through that conversation easily. There was also another reason why Darrell had wanted to come see Chase, knowing the significance of this year.

“That’s great to hear. Now, please, let me bring this up and don’t shut me off. But, have you looked into anything about Dem-” Chase’s eyes immediately cut to Darrell, anger building.

“I don’t want to talk about her, or anything to do with her.” Darrell takes a calming deep breath, having expected a sudden reaction.

“Chase, I know that you don’t prefer to talk about her. However, she is getting her relea-”

“She shouldn’t even be allowed to step out of that jail cell with everything that she did!” Darrell knew the anger that Chase felt, and had to agree based on what she had done to Chase, and others through her crime ring.

“I understand, and I agree. I was just wondering if you’ve talked to the lawyers or anything about the timing.” Chase keeps his eyes focused on the track as he takes a deep breath. With thinking over everything to discuss with Alyssa, it had certainly crossed his mind lately and didn’t go unnoticed. There was also a couple phone calls that brought everything back to the surface.

“The lawyer called me and told me the date that she’s released – it’s basically next week. There is an offer to where I could be at her release and share some thoughts, but I declined. I’m through with talking to her and….I just didn’t want to go back down that road. I’ve gotten past what happened, and I’d rather leave it in the past.” He then takes a deep breath, remembering all the things that he taught himself at that time to move forward. “He called me a couple days later and wondered if I wanted a restraining order, just incase Demi had any thought of coming near me. We went through the required steps, and if she dares to step near me or any family of mine or poses any threat of any kind towards me, she’s arrested for violation.” Darrell shakes his head, understanding. It didn’t give him much confidence as it was just a simple piece of paper – but it did add a bit of confidence.

“Well, hopefully she listens. Are you sure you’re a-okay on everything?” Chase shakes his head yes.

“Darrell, I’m over what happened. We’ve been through this. I’d just rather leave it where it is and move on with Alyssa. Yes, I’m going to go back to that to tell her, but that’s it. I’m done.” Darrell shakes his head understanding as he stands up.

“That’s fine, but you also know where to find me – as always. I’ll see you later.” Darrell then headed off pit road to the garage to meet up with the team for a meeting as Chase went back to watching Alyssa.

The more he thought about the recent conversations, the more he realized the sooner Alyssa learned everything, the better. As they say, better be safe than sorry with everything.

When practice finished up, Alyssa chatted with the team about a couple adjustments before heading off to the motorcoach lot.

She couldn’t lie – there was a lot on her mind, as well. She had heard tidbits of the Demi story and knew, like others, that her release from jail was soon. She could only wonder how much it was on Chase’s mind, and how much he was truly letting on.

Though in the midst of that, she was also dealing with her own emotions and the re-occurring dream. While there were nights that she’d simply wake up screaming, she started to be able to remember other pieces and wondered what they all meant.

As she headed into the motorcoach, she texted her dad a message, in hopes that he’d available later that night. She knew it was odd to have a conversation of this nature on a race weekend, but she couldn’t hold it back any longer. Besides, he had told her anytime she wanted to talk.

She had originally wanted to discuss everything with Chase, but it made sense to go to her father first. He was there that day on the plane with Steve. He knew the exact events that occurred. He’d more likely be able to fill in all the gaps that surrounded her brain. With those gaps filled in, she was certain it’d make it easier when it came for that time with Chase.

As she grabs herself a snack, she hears her phone go off, reaching over to grab it off the counter. She then reads the reply and smiles, sending back a quick response.

Taking a deep breath, she knew that evening/night would be an interesting conversation.

Chapter 74: The Conversation

Friday

Following dinner, the pair agreed to meet up just outside of Dale’s motorcoach. They had debated places to talk – whether inside or outside – and had settled on the trailer in the garage area. The trailer would be empty with it being night time and privacy was the best policy right now.

“Are you ready?” He asks as he comes out and she simply shakes her head yes. They both get on the golf kart and head to the garage area portion of the infield. They then head to her XFINTY hauler, parking the golf-kart by the door. The pair get out of the golf-kart and she unlocks the hauler, before they head inside. They go up into the lounge as Dale closes the door behind them. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she answers as he sits on the couch beside her. He could tell that she had grown a lot quieter since the text message earlier that afternoon.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” He offers and she shakes her head, yes.

“I need to do this if I’m going to move forward. I need to get it out on the table and know fully what happened. I was going to tell Chase first, but I figured it’d be best to talk to you. You were there and know the exact events that happened. I figured that you could fill in the pieces of what I am recalling.” He shakes his head, understanding. He hadn’t wanted to do the conversation on a race weekend, but knew that he had to help her clear her mind if it meant that much to her.

“I just want to apologize for not talking to you about this sooner and telling you everything that happened. It’s just I was so afraid of losing you and your mom that day that I couldn’t bring myself to tell you. I just wanted to leave it in the past.” Alyssa shakes her head, understanding, as she knew it had to be a difficult topic one way or the other.

“It’s fine, Dad. I understand. You don’t need to apologize for anything.” He then gives her a quick kiss on the forehead as he sits back, waiting for the details of how she wanted to go about the conversation. He was ready to detail everything if that was what she required.

“So, should I begin or do you want to begin?” She thought it over as she looked over at him. She felt herself stumbling on the images and knew that perhaps a start of explaining would result in some explanation.

“You may go ahead.” Dale then relaxes as he thinks back to that fateful day, taking a deep breath as he tries to keep himself calm.

“We had taken a trip to England during the off-season. It was supposed to be the perfect getaway for the three of us. You were just in love with the thought of the castles.” She laughs, as she remembers her enjoyment of dressing up as a princess as a child, while wanting to go as fast as possible.

“I guess I was always meant to be a princess, huh?” He smiles and shakes his head yes. He then lets out a sigh, knowing that they couldn’t stay in the happy realm forever.

“We were a couple days into the trip and I woke up one morning. Your mom wasn’t there so I just immediately thought that she went out to get something. So, I went about my normal morning routine and found you sitting on the couch watching cartoons. As I went to get us some breakfast, there was a knock at the door.” He then takes a deep breath, as he remembers the conversation and the instant sadness that he felt that day. “The man, who claimed to be an officer and had identification, said that your mother had been involved in a car accident and died.” Alyssa takes a deep breath, remembering hearing brief details of something along these lines.

“I remember hearing about that lie when I was around 13. Mom told me about that. She told me to always make sure that an officer had proper identification and double check the facts that I was being told before acting upon something.” Dale shakes his head, remembering the conversation that Marie had with the children. She had given them the ‘don’t talk to strangers’ and ‘make sure people are who they truly are’ speech.

“That was a tough lesson to learn at the time. Immediately, feeling upset, I was set to fly back to the United States. They told me that they’d have her body transferred in good time. I then packed up all our stuff and headed to the airport, taking the first flight that was available. I was then introduced to Mariel-”

“Was she really a federal agent?” Dale thinks it over, remembering the investigation that followed after everything.

“She had managed to get a job, somehow, working for the airline. It’s crazy to believe with her record and everything.” Alyssa shakes her head in disbelief. “We then got on the plane and we were set to fly back to the United States. I sat down in the one seat, and you sat down in the seat beside me with your bear.” Alyssa grins as she had kept the bear over the years, with the bear sitting now on the shelf in her room.

“I took that thing everywhere.” Dale shakes his head yes as he thinks back to the flight.

“Emotionally drained and everything else, I fell asleep on the plane. I then found out afterwards the water I drank had a sleeping agent in it to make me fall asleep, more so. During that time, Mariela led you away from me, suggesting you tour the plane. She then made you drink a drug-infused drink – telling you it was a nice juice – before hiding you in the luggage compartment as you were passed out.” Alyssa swallows the lump that had formed in her throat as her father’s words match to images that had flashed through her mind at night.

“There are some nights that I dream of this scary looking witch dressed lady standing there with a red glass over my head, pouring it down on me and forcing me to swallow it.” Dale then remembers back to one of the conversations that he had with Alyssa after Mariela’s arrest.

“Well, we did tell you that Mariela was a witch and that she would be locked away in the dungeon with the bad wolf. Then we told you that she was dead, recalling Wizard of Oz.” Alyssa puts the pieces together, remembering the stories that she heard as a kid about the big bad wolf (and his pigs), among others. She then takes a deep breath, recalling another one of the haunting images that had left her awake at night.

“That explains that image. There are also other nights that I dream that I’m in a box, and that box continues to shrink smaller and smaller till I can’t move or escape, and I suffocate alive in it.” As he heard the details of his daughter’s dreams, he wanted to cry and scream at once. How could you feel so much pain and anger at one time? How could someone put a young, four-year-old through what she went through and leave these images in her mind for years? He was angry at Mariela when she went forth with the plan originally and hurting others in her chase after him and Marie, but felt that anger growing as the conversation continued now with Alyssa.

“That probably comes from the luggage compartment as they move around and according to Steve, who rescued you by the way, it wasn’t that big of a space that he found you in.” She shakes her head, understanding. It also explained why Steve was always there in her life, looking over her shoulder and there to help at times. Their connection had begun that day on the plane.

“That’s all that I can think of so far with what you’ve told me.” She then takes a deep breath, debating whether she wanted to hear the full story. She knew it’d give understanding to the images, but would it bring a more haunting tale in her mind to follow? She also didn’t know if she wanted to put her father through the pain of recalling one of the scariest events in his life. “You may continue, if you want.”

“You deserve to know the full story. As I told you, I should’ve told you sooner.” He then takes a deep breath, thinking back to the flight. “I woke up about 30, 40 minutes later, not feeling much better. I then asked aloud if you were enjoying the flight, expecting you to answer me. I didn’t hear anything so I looked over at the seat, just seeing the bear sitting there. I then questioned for you……..”

“I’m Mariela Kats – remember?” He hears and glances past the seat to see a dark brown haired lady sitting there. He certainly remembered her as he remembered them meeting at the airport after he had gotten the tickets. “Is something wrong, Mr. Earnhardt? You look frazzled.” He picks up the teddy bear as he keeps his eyes locked on the lady beside him. “The bear. You brought it with you.”

“I also brought my three-year-old daughter Alyssa with me,” he tells her as Mariela slowly shakes her head.

“Your daughter? I don’t remember mention of a daughter.”

“I was holding her at the airport when we met, Ms. Kats. I carried her on to the plane and sat her in the seat beside me with her bear on her lap. So tell me something – where the hell is my daughter?” Mariela continues to look at him confused. “You mean to tell me that you didn’t see a blond three-year-old with eyes like mine sitting here? I know she was with me! I carr-”

“Sir, you need to calm down, please. If I saw your daugh-”

“Where is my daughter?” Mariela shrugs her shoulders, still confused. “I carried her on to the plane.”

“Well then she has to be on this plane as we were the last to board and they closed the doors after we boarded.” Dale then looks around, feeling his heartrate rise and nerves growing.

“Okay, fine. Where on the plane is my daughter then?”

“Sir, I honestly don’t know.” He then looks at her and she can tell that he’s frazzled. “I wasn’t honestly watching as I was looking forward to make sure that people kept their distance – as the airline instructed.”

“But yet you missed a three-year-old getting out of her seat and crossing your legs? That seems real smart. Where did you learn to be a FBI agent? I want to know where my daughter is.”

“Sir, I can’t be more honest with you than I am being. If you’re 100% certain that you carried your daughter on the plane then she’s on the plane somewhere. You just stay here and I’ll start looking for her.” Mariella then slowly stands up as she backs away, as Dale stands with her.

“I’m coming with you because I want to find her. I want to know where my daughter is and besides, I don’t trust you right now.”

“I understand. If you want, I can take you to the captain and we can have the flight crew search as well per protocol. Perhaps that’ll help calm you down. Follow me.” He then follows her through the halls as they head to the front of the plane.

“Don’t expect me to be calm till she’s back in my arms. How would you feel if your daughter went missing shortly after losing your girlfriend?”

“I’d probably be scared just like you are, sir.”

“That’s what I thought.”

Once they reached the front of the plane, they made a report to the pilot about his daughter being missing on the plane. Immediately the passengers were notified and told if they saw a three-year-old blond girl to notify a flight attendant. The pilot also instructed all flight attendants to begin looking everywhere on the plane for the daughter, including spots that normally people couldn’t access. Like Mariela had told him, everybody had a job per protocol and place to look as they stayed waiting at the front of the plane.

Chapter 75: Conversation Con’t

Friday

“So you were just left standing there, worried and wondering where I was while they looked?” Alyssa questions and Dale shakes his head yes. He then takes a deep breath, thinking back to that day.

“I was so worried and I could’ve almost broken down in tears if not for the anger at Mariela’s behavior,” Dale answers. “I was also mad at myself for allowing it to happen. Who lets their child go missing on an airplane? Who doesn’t keep their eyes opened and peered to make sure that everything is alrig-”

“You can’t beat yourself up over it. Besides, you were having a mix of emotions that you can’t probably explain to anybody. As you told me, you were emotionally drained and sleep just took you over.” Dale shakes his head, knowing that his daughter was right. Besides, this had happened years ago. He couldn’t beat himself up for it now. “What happened next?”

“She came back awhile later and asked if I was sure you came on the plane. I told her that I’d be sure and we argued back and forth. The pilot then reported back to say that they hadn’t found you anywhere, in which I replied that you had to be. Mariela then suggested that perhaps I was hallucinating, saying that it happens when we lose the people that we love.” Dale glances down, feeling his own heartbreak as he remembered there was a moment on that plane that he believed Mariela and thought that he was.

“Dad….” Alyssa reaches over and places her hand on top of his as he glances over at her, tears in his eyes. “It’s oka-”

“How does a father forget about their daughter?” She then reaches over and pulls himself closer, wrapping her arms around him.

“You were emotionally exhausted. You were in the midst of the biggest heartbreak that you could know, hearing that mom had died. You were confused as to what happened to mom, and upset beyond anything. Confusion combined with physical exhaustion and emotions, you start to question everyth-”.

“I forgot about yo-”

“If you had probably taken a nap and cleared your mind that confusion wouldn’t had been there.” She then looks up at him. “It’s okay. I understand. I’m not mad at you, and you shouldn’t be mad at yourself. Besides, everything worked out and you saved me….with Steve’s help.” She then relaxes back, thinking. Was it worth the emotional turmoil to hear the whole story? Or, had she heard enough to clear up the confusion of images in her mind? “We could stop-”

“No.” Dale then looks over at her, taking a deep breath. “Like I said, you deserve to know and I’m going to tell you the whole story.” He then takes a deep breath. “The pilot then suggested that he keeps two people searching, in which I accepted. Mariela then suggested that we check if there was a ticket for you purchased as you’d require a ticket. She added that it’s part of a standard investigation. If there was no ticket, she’d call back to England and report you missing ther-”

“Basically, letting everyone think and believe that you had left me behind in the midst of your confusion?” Dale shakes his head yes as Alyssa shakes her head in disbelief. “She certainly was the queen of conning. I can understand why everything she did with Chase affected him so much.” Dale then glances over at his daughter.

“Mariella had one big instance with Chase that had him upset for a good couple three months, but it was Randy that really put the kid through too much.” Dale then glances back down. “I know I shouldn’t and Chase tells me that I shouldn’t, but I still bug myself at times that he was thrown in Randy’s line of fire by me.” Alyssa then rubs her dad’s arm.

“It wasn’t your fau-”

“I know. I know that and I keep telling myself that. Sometimes, though, the lines try to blur themselves in my mind.” He then looks back over at her. “That’s why I do as much as I do for him. That’s why I’m always there looking over his shoulder, ready to help if he needs it.” Alyssa shakes her head understanding.

“So getting back to what happened, I’m guessing there was only one ticket purchased?” Dale shakes his head yes. “How is that possible?”

“Mariela changed the system, according to the investigators. She went into the system and showed in system that the second ticket had been voided, without voiding the actual ticket so I could still board the plane.” Alyssa looks over shocked and surprised as she shakes her head in disbelief.

“So she started to plan this from the minute that she met you at the airport?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“It makes sense now that I think about it. Her father takes your mom back to the country under kidnapping, and then Mariela makes sure she’s placed in the right spot to complete the rest of the plan.” Alyssa just continues shaking her head in disbelief.

“Congratulations. I have an aunt and a grandpa that are known criminals, know how to con people and the dirtiest people that I could know.” Dale shakes his head, knowing that she was right in that regard. “Not that I am implying anything….”

“It’s fine, I get it.” He then chuckles to himself a little. “Perhaps that’s where your sister’s evil planning genes of trouble for your mom and I come from.” Alyssa then looks over at her dad surprised.

“I don’t want to sleep in your house ever again with that girl if that’s the case. She could be planning something else!” Dale then laughs.

“Don’t worry – Elsa isn’t that bad of a person. Admit it – you love your sister and have fun with her at times.” Alyssa lets out a sigh, knowing that her dad was right.

“Okay, so she has a sweet side and I’ve had fun sharing stories with her and she’s alright when she isn’t being a pesk. Perhaps you’re right.” Dale then smiles.

“Thank you.” He then thinks back to what happened. “So once they told that there was no ticket purchased, Mariela said that she’d make the necessary calls to the London Police, asking me to give her a photo. I then handed her a photo – which confirmed I wasn’t hallucinating. She then offered for me to go back to my seat, in which I declined. I then remember thinking back to the hotel room that morning, remembering everything that happened. I knew for sure that you had come with me. I knew for sure that something was up.” Alyssa relaxes back as she thinks it over. It seemed the pieces were coming together.

“So what’d you do when you realized that Mariela was playing you?” He then glances over and shakes his head.

“Nothing. I hadn’t figured out that she was playing me yet. That was later on during the flight when I realized it. I stayed there waiting and she got a phone call, asking for them to forward a copy. I then asked why I had to wait and she said it was protocol. She then told me that once I heard this news, I had to watch my behavior and stay in check as the boundary between sanity and insanity was easy to cross on an airplane.” Alyssa then laughs.

“I think she knew the boundary because she had crossed it, right?” Dale laughs and shakes his head.

“I asked her if she thought I was insane, in which she said she didn’t think I wa-”

“She couldn’t identify herself as insane.”

“This is true. She then simply said that perhaps I’m having an emotionally difficult time handling the situation surrounding Marie and you. She then received the e-mail shortly after, handing it over. It was a photo copy of a death certifica-”

“Please tell me that’s when you realized she was crazy and punched her!” Dale laughs and shakes his head no.

“I stood there in disbelief and told her that I didn’t believe her and I wanted the truth. I then went to run away to go find you or whatever, and she grabbed my wrist. She told me that wouldn’t be proper behave-”

“But telling someone their daughter is dead is?” Dale shrugs his shoulders.

“I guess. I then realized for sure that she was lying and something was up. I knew I could go running and looking, but figured that’d be a wrong move. I didn’t want to spook her as if she was crazy enough to do this, what else was she capable of? So, I played my cards. I returned to my seat like a good boy, debating how I could go about my move nex-”

“So how’d she produce a death certificate?” Dale then looks over at Alyssa.

“Her father ran a country. It’d be easy to do given that he runs the printing systems and such.” Alyssa shakes her head in disbelief.

“Fine. Continue…”

“So I made the decision to leave her and go to the bathroom. I told her that I had to go and wanted some time to myself to think about things. The truth? I called Steve to discuss things.” Alyssa rolls her eyes as she smiles.

“That doesn’t surprise me. You always talk things out with Steve.”

“I told him the story – the fact that you were missing, the entire situation with Mariela. He then said some things that gave me more clarity that Mariela was nuts – no police checking things out in the US, and who would’ve identified your body? So I immediately hit the panic button and knew I had to do something. Steve, being the rationale one, told me to keep calm and play it sa-”

“Well, you were in the hands of a mass criminal and letting them think they’re in control gives them the power and they won’t try anything odd….or so I hear.” Dale then looks at her confused. “Criminal Minds. It’s a great show.”

“So Steve gave me the advice to simply follow orders while he contacted local authorities to make sure they were at the airport when we landed in North Carolina to figure things out. I told him that I acc-”

“Yeah, okay. I know you better than that.” Dale then laughs.

“He believed me, even though it wasn’t the truth. I then figured that I’d go looking for you myself. So I repeated the move in movies – move the tile, sneak up into the other compartment and go searching. I ended up by a control panel when Mariela found me up there. I threatened her, saying that I’d make things uncomfortable for us both. I glanced at the buttons and thought perhaps hitting one would get her attent-”

“What if you had hit like the master power button and caused the plane to crash?” Dale then shrugs his shoulders.

“I wasn’t thinking rationally. I was just thinking about getting my daughter back in my hands. Perhaps I was starting to go insane as she suggested.” He then takes a deep breath, remembering the encounter with Mariela. “It was at that moment that she realized she better start telling me details or else there’d be trouble. So she suggested that she had lied to me. We argued a bit, and then she admitted that she had a plan. She told me that if I returned to the regular deck, she’d tell me everything.”

“Did she actually come clean?” Dale shakes his hand back and forth. “Sort of?”

“She told me enough that I knew things were serious, and that I better behave or else you’d be in trouble.”

“Hands behind your back,” she states before pulling on his other arm and forcing it behind his back, hand-cuffing them together. “Per plane protocol, any patron who tries to hijack the plane or go in quarters not specified is placed under arrest and handed over to the U.S Government for questioning. Per your report, it will state that there was hallucinations involved with regards to your daughter. With that said, they will likely accept your issues and offer you the right psychological help. Also, as a result of this, we will not be landing in North Carolina – but in the first U.S state that we can land in once off this ocean; I believe that will be New Jersey.”

“I thought you were going to tell me the truth to your plan,” Dale counters as Mariela turns him around so they’re facing each other.

“Not so fast. I can’t have you knowing a lot yet. Here’s the deal. When we land in New Jersey, they will escort everybody else off the plane except myself and you – reason being we don’t want our psychologically challenged patron scaring the rest of the passengers. Once they are off the plane, then we will discuss what I have in mind for you and your daughter – just the two of us. That’s all you can find out right now. If you dare try to tell anyone else about this sort of plan that I have, there’s a trigger in my pocket that I will unfortunately have to use.” She then pulls the little keypad out of her pocket, with a big red button in the middle before pushing it back in her pocket. “Understood?”

He shakes his head yes quietly, a new fear that he wasn’t used to rushing through him as they return to their seats. He now didn’t know what to do as she defiantly had him in a box. There was no denying now that Alyssa was somewhere on the plane – but where? There was no denying that he and Alyssa both were in danger as well. Though what all did Mariela want with them? What did she have planned once they landed?

“Can I let someone know that I’m going to be landing in New Jersey rather than North Carolina?” He questions. “My sister was supposed to be picking me up when we landed.” Mariela shakes her head yes as she takes out her phone.

“Give me the number and I’ll send them the normal statutory message per protocol.”

Chasing The Love – Chapters 51 Thru 55

Chapter 51: Friday Night

Alyssa smiled as she stood on pit road watching qualifying. It wasn’t the session that Chase would’ve wanted in his perfect dreamland, but he had qualified a solid 13th for Sunday’s race. She also couldn’t be too mad about the pole sitter, considering it was Karsyn grabbing the spot.

Once Chase was done talking things over with Alan, he and Alyssa headed back to the motorcoach lot together, set for dinner. Marie, slowly agreeing to the pair being together, had invited Chase over for dinner that night with the family. That invitation were further extended to Cindy and Bill, making for a complete family gathering night at the Earnhardt motorcoach.

“Mom says we’re eating outside since there’s not enough room for everybody inside,” Elsa comments as she walks back with them. She had come out to watch qualifying, but not for the cars. She was more focused on watching the new couple together. “So why is everybody talking about you guys so much?” Alyssa shrugs her shoulders as Chase just laughs.

“Of course that’d be the question that you’d have to ask,” he says as he looks at her. “It’s called we’re the new thing. Whenever there’s something new in the garage – whether new team, new driver, driver with a new team, or a new dating pair, it becomes the topic of discussion. The media focuses on that and sees what they can write about it. The media smiles and craves to have the scoop and inside information on the newest thing so they’re wanting to find out whatever they can find on Alyssa and I.” Elsa shakes her head, understanding.

“So that means they’re going to bring up her relationship with Leo?” Alyssa rolls her eyes, having heard enough about that. Based on a short discussion with Leo, it seemed he got bugged about things during his media availability as well.

“Some of them are going to bring that up. Some writers – whether because they don’t like us for some reason, or because they just want hits on their website – are going to try and create a gossip story out of it. They’re going to try and make it as though Alyssa cheated on Leo, or broke up with him because of me. They want to make it look as worse as they can because those types of stories get clicks, and for them, more clicks means more money.”

“It’s a cruel world!” Chase and Alyssa both shake their heads in agreement.

“Welcome to the life of the royalty and famous dear sister,” Alyssa comments as she wraps an arm around Elsa. “Remember, you’re a princess as well. You’re going to have to deal with the same thing when you start dating.”

“You’ll deal with people like Gabriel, who want to call you by your designated princess name,” Chase adds as Alyssa laughs.

“I can’t believe I had to sit there and say all the full names for the lady.” Chase laughs as he shakes his head.

“It got worse after you left. She called me William.” Alyssa rolls her eyes with a laugh.

“Well, you would be Prince William Clyde Elliott,” Elsa comments as Chase lets out a sigh. That was still odd to hear and would be even stranger if it came true.

“I’ve always been known as Chase, and that’s how it’s going to be,” he states. “As I did with her, I quickly corrected her and said to call me Chase.”

“Prince Chase Elliott. That has a nice ring to it.” Elsa then looks between them. “So when are you going to become Prince and Princess?” Chase lets out a laugh as Alyssa freezes in her spot.

“Woah….okay….” she starts as she grabs hold of her sister. “We just started dating. Marriage isn’t even a thought yet, dear sister. We have to get through dating and if that goes well for some months, then maybe Chase will pop the question.” Elsa then looks up Chase.

“Can I help you pick out the ring?” Elsa questions as Chase looks at her in surprise.

“Can we not discuss this right now?” He asks as she lets out a sigh.

“Alright…fine. But I know that you both will eventually get engaged and then married so you might as well start planning now. Besides, I saw your doodle…” Elsa then runs off as Chase looks at Alyssa.

“Well? What was your doodle?” Alyssa smiles as Chase pulls her close.

“I know we’re just starting things off, but I was thinking about my name would sound if I married you,” she tells him and he smiles in return.

“Funny thing was I thought about that while you were up on stage today,” he replies. “And I think Princess Alyssa Kelley Sharon Kastona Earnhardt Elliott has a nice ring to it.” He then kisses her lips. “Don’t worry about your sister. She’s not going to scare me off.”

“You haven’t dealt with my brother’s teasing yet.” Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“I dealt with teasing from Bubba and Ryan and I’m still walking this planet. Nothing is going to scare me away. I meant it when I said I loved you.” Alyssa smiles.

“I love you, as well. We better hurry up before dinner gets cold and Mom yells at us.” He shakes his head in agreement as they hurry to the motorcaoch lot to join the rest of the family for dinner.

The night of dinner turned into a beautiful night for everybody, with great conversation around the table. For the most part, everything focused towards the racing that was set to happen over the next two days. However, there were also stories shared from Cindy and Bill about living in Georgia and even some stories from Chase’s childhood. At times, Chase broke out laughing at the memories, but also there were some that left him more embarrassed than he hoped.

“Don’t worry – I’ll even out the embarrassment and share some of Alyssa’s photos from growing up with Cindy and Bill when they’re over,” Dale told him as Alyssa’s jaw dropped in shock as Chase laughed.

“Dad!” Alyssa lets out.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing those myself,” Chase shares as she gives him a look.

“Careful – I’ll send out photos of your bedsroom on twitter for the world to see.” Chase then goes to say something in response as she just looks at him with a smile.

“Wait…they slept together at your house?” Marie questions as she looks over at Cindy and Bill.

“I wasn’t going to let them at first, but Chase promised to behave and keep the door open a crack so I knew nothing was going on,” Cindy answers, seeing the motherly worry that Marie shared. “They were behaved – don’t worry.”

“Besides, we slept together in Daytona without any issues,” Chase comments as Alyssa smiles, remembering that night. “I was brought up to be a good boy and show respect.”

“And he knows I’ll kick his ass if he hurts my little girl, right?” Dale questions and Chase shakes his head yes, remembering those words fondly.

As the night grew late, Alyssa found herself thinking back to Daytona, as well as the night at the Elliott household. Both sleeps had been wonderful as she was able to relax, knowing that she was cuddled up and safe in his arms.

With the fun evening of discussion over and everybody needing sleep to be ready for the next day, Chase was set to head to his motorcoach while Alyssa was to head to hers. The pair shared a glance, both thinking about the same cuddling ideas, but knew it wasn’t time for that yet. That was a whole other chapter that they’d have to discuss, if they were to move in together, and also see how it went over with their parents. Yes, they were both over the age of consent – but Chase wasn’t about to do anything to piss off Dale and Marie. He knew that’d make things tougher with still living at the Pool house, and Alyssa living at home.

Instead, the pair shared a hug and a kiss, followed by goodnight wishes before separating for the night.

Chapter 52: Media

Dale walks out of the back of the motorcoach, having gotten changed into his firesuit for practice that morning. He hears Marie let out a small chuckle as she shakes her head, glancing over to see that she’s reading something on her laptop.

“What are you reading?” Dale questions as Marie glances back at him.

“Would you believe how ridiculous the media is sometimes?” She asks and he simply rolls his eyes, sitting beside her.

“Let me guess – they are eating up Alyssa and Chase?” She shakes her head yes as she scrolls through a couple different articles that had been published that morning.

“Gabriel Franklin made another appearance, and it seems that she can’t understand that this isn’t the 1800s where full names of the royalty have to be used. You can also tell that she doesn’t know a stick about racing, either, and is just here because we’re royalty.” Dale glances over Marie’s shoulder, looking over the article.

“When will she understand that she doesn’t need to be here?” Marie glances over her shoulder at Dale.

“She never will understand that. She needs the gossip for the royalty websites of choice. It’s a question of when the tracks will stop accepting her credential application.” Dale then focuses in on the reading the article, for mere curiosity.

Princess Alyssa Earnhardt Finds New Love

It seems as though there’s been a change in the love royalty world. Princess Alyssa Kelley Sharon Kastona Earnhardt of Pitronia revealed during her media availability at the Kobalt Tools 500 that she’s dating a new fellow racecar driver.

“Chase Elliott and I are dating, if it matters so much that everybody knows,” she stated. “We just started dating this week after he asked me out over this past weekend.”

William Clyde Elliott competes in NASCAR’s premiere division, the Sprint Cup Series, and has won championships throughout his career. Like Alyssa, he followed his father into racing. The 32-year-old isn’t new to the family, having found himself in the middle of the events that transpired during 2015 with regards to Mariella Cynthia Kastona Calantay, and Randy Roberts.

“To you, the people of Pitronia and people around the world, she’s a Princess and considered royalty,” he commented. “To me, she’s my little buddy that I’ve known all her life and I love with all my heart. Just because she’s a princess doesn’t change anything in my mind. Why should that affect me now when it hasn’t affected me for the past 10 years?”

If the pair were to become married, the result would be Chase becoming the prince of Pitronia. That is something that he hasn’t even thought about, per his comments for the media.

“It wouldn’t change my thoughts about her or the marriage,” he added. “I would respect the country traditions, values and responsibilities, whatever those may be. However, I’d leave that to the responsibility of Marie and Dale since they’re in charge.”

Alyssa is the daughter of Queen Marie-Ann Belle Kastona Earnhardt, who inherited the thrown following her father’s death and mother giving up the throne. Marie-Ann actually also carries the Calantay last night, but chose to drop it following the disagreement with her father. Marie-Ann is joined on the throne by King Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr., following their marriage in January 2017. The couple also has a pair of additional children – Princess Elsa Kastona Earnhardt and Prince Robby Kastona Earnhardt. The children’s middle names were not known as the time of print.

“She has to always bring up what happened, too…” Marie comments. That was something that annoyed both Marie and Dale. While everybody else had let it go over time, it seemed that Gabriel always mentioned it within her articles. To Gabriel, it was a piece of royalty that she was never going to let go.

“It’s just her way of getting hits and getting attention,” Dale shares. “I still can’t believe that she referred to Chase via his full name.” Marie looks over at Dale.

“That’s what she does. She still lives in the Golden age.” Dale rubs Marie’s shoulders.

“Don’t worry – she’s old. She’ll retire soon.” He then kisses her cheek lightly. “Now, why are you even sitting here reading these? I told you long time ago not to worry about what they say about us, or the kids.”

“Oh I’m not worried about what they have to say. I’m actually getting a laugh out of this stuff now.” She then lets out a sigh. “I just hope it doesn’t eat at Alyssa and Chase.”

“They’re both used to it now, especially Chase. He’s seen everything written about him, good and bad. Alyssa is used to it with the pressures that seem to find her since she’s my daughter. They’ll be fine – just look at how they handled the questions yesterday. They probably won’t even worry about what’s written.”

That was something was Dale was wrong about, though. While eating breakfast, Chase had opened up an article or two on his phone, out of curiosity. He expected it to be ugly and he expected there to be writing that wasn’t the most pleasant.

However, despite the writing that lied before his eyes, he didn’t feel his skin crawl at all. He knew to expect it and honestly, didn’t care what the media had to say. It didn’t matter as that wasn’t the opinion that counted. For him, all that mattered was he was happy, Alyssa was happy, and the parents were both happy. If he could get approval all the way around, why worry about those that knew nothing?

“Oh Jeffrey, never change…” he comments, randomly, glancing over the article that laid on the USA Times website.

Alyssa Earnhardt and Chase Elliott Announce Relationship

It seems Pitronia royalty has created some NASCAR royalty as two of NASCAR’s biggest families have come together. On Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Alyssa Earnhardt revealed that she and Chase Elliott are dating.

Beyond being the daughter of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Alyssa is also the princess of Pitronia, virtue of her father’s marriage to Marie-Ann Kastona. She has made the move up to the NASCAR XFINITY Series this year after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship last year.

While the last names and royalty catch attention, it wasn’t the talk of discussion. Instead, many people were questioning the happenings of the relationship as a result of Earnhardt dating fellow NASCAR XFINITY Series competitor Leo Gordon last season.

“We broke up just before the season started,” Gordon told the USA Times. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t working out like either of us intended with the relationship so we decided to be friends.”

When asked about his thoughts on Earnhardt being with Ellott, Gordon said that he wished the pair happiness in their relationship before walking away.

The other factor of their relationship that was discussed by many on social media was the age difference with Elliott being 32, and Earnhardt being 18.

“Love knows no bounds, and love doesn’t know age,” Earnhardt said. “I love Chase, and Chase loves me. What difference does it make?”

The pair are both set to run the XFINITY race on Saturday at Atlanta, but don’t think they’ll race each other differently due to dating.

“I’m going to race her as hard as I’d race her on any other weekend, just like I know she’ll do in return,” Elliott said. “This relationship doesn’t change anything on the track. it just changes some things away from the track.”

Chase shakes his head as he finishes reading the article. He knew that Leo wasn’t exactly supportive of the relationship, but was thankful that he co-operated for the media as that made things easier. He also glanced at the line about the age gap for a second, but felt pride in Alyssa’s answer and knew that it wasn’t that big of a deal among fans. The majority of the fans that followed him on twitter had tweeted to him their acceptance of the relationship – if it mattered.

He then grabs his phone, finding Alyssa and sending her a quick text.

“Hey – are you okay?” He questions as he puts his dish in the sink.

“Yeah. Why?” he reads her response.

“The media is having a field day. I just wanted to make sure that it wasn’t bugging you.” He remembered her initial worries and knew that they were set to come to a head today, if they were there.

“It’s fine. I haven’t even bothered to read any of it, nor do I care. All that matters is that you love me and will come give me a kiss before qualifying.” He smiles, knowing that he had the exact same thought on his mind.

“That’s a promise. Love you.” It was going to be a fun day.

Chapter 53: Qualifying

Alyssa smoothes out her firesuit one last time, and glances in the mirror with a smile. It was finally raceday – finally time to redeem herself after what happened at Daytona. The goal was simple – qualify in the top-10 and run there throughout the day. Just have a solid day for the rookie.

She walks out of the hauler and heads to pit road, signing a couple autographs on the way. It seemed that all the young female fans in the garage gravitated towards her, saying that she was their idol and they wanted to be like her. She simply told them each ‘thank you’ and to never give up on their dreams.

“You’re amazing!” One of the younger girls says as Alyssa reaches pit road.

“You’re pretty special too – don’t forget that,” she tells her as she signs the girl’s diecast car and poses for a quick photo.

“I just hope that my daughter has more class and dates a boy around her age,” the mother comments as the father walks away with the child. Alyssa’s takes her sunglasses off and looks at the mother in surprise.

“That’s a pretty interesting comment there, ma’am. But hey, that’s simply your opinion, right? The thing that you should remember is that the heart will love who it wants, whether the person is the same age or about 10 years older. A mother always wants what’s best for their child and for their child to be happy. I hope if your daughter is in the same situation that you allow her to be happy, and be thankful that she found someone who appreciates her. It’s nice seeing you and I hope you enjoy today’s race.” Alyssa puts her sunglasses back on and continues her walk out to pit road.

“That was….interesting,” her PR rep Tyler comments as Alyssa glances over at him. “But, I’ve known you all my life so it doesn’t surprise me that you’re being very open with your opinion. Just don’t get yourself stuck in a bind.”

“I wasn’t even close to doing that,” Alyssa replies. “I was simply offering a small bit of advice based on my situation. Isn’t that what a role model and a princess is supposed to do?” Tyler rolls his eyes as he ruffles up her hair. “Hey! That was very mean of you, Mr. Overstreet. I suggest that you apologize for your rude behavior to your highness or face punishment with the King and Queen.” Tyler just laughs.

“That isn’t going to work on me, Alyssa. Your dad isn’t going to complain.” Alyssa rolls her eyes, knowing that’s true.

“It worth a try, right?” He shakes his head in agreement.

She then walks over to the car, leaning against it as she goes over a couple pre-qualifying notes with her crew chief. She then does a couple of interviews – FOX and MRN, talking about her thoughts about the upcoming session. Once they’re both finished, she goes back to her own little world of thought, getting herself in the mood for qualifying.

“May I come steal that kiss now?” She hears as she opens her eyes with a smile. She then reaches out and pulls Chase close, wrapping her arms around him.

“You can steal that kiss anytime,” she tells him before kissing his lips and letting go. “Good luck. I look forward to kicking your ass today.” He then laughs.

“You’d just love that, wouldn’t you? You’re forgetting that you’re on my turf this weekend and I’ll be showing you the way around here.” She then laughs, shaking her head in return.

“You’re forgetting who my father is, and the fact that I’ve won at this place before.” Chase gives her a quick smack on the ass before walking away.

“We’ll see, won’t we?” She then laughs as she watches him head off, simply smiling.

“You’re staring at his ass…” Elsa comments from her spot behind the pit wall as Alyssa looks over at her little sister.

“Aren’t you grounded or something?” Alyssa questions as Elsa shrugs her shoulders.

“Mom didn’t want to leave me alone because she’s afraid of the trouble that I’m going to get into so she made me come out here and watch you qualify.” Alyssa smiles. It seemed that Elsa was like her in a couple ways. While they were totally different in some – Elsa being the diva girl, it seemed that Elsa knew the troublesome way of a teenager.

“Well I hope you enjoy the show. You wouldn’t be stuck on guard duty if you’d just simply do your math homework.” Elsa lets out a sigh and rolls her eyes at the same time.

“I told y that x was never going to be found because he doesn’t want to come back. Isn’t that enough?” Alyssa laughs and shakes her head no.

“For some reason, y is a number and x is another number. You’re smarter than you give yourself credit for. You should be able to figure out those numbers.” Elsa shakes her head.

“The sooner I’m done school, the better.” Alyssa then walks over and keeps her eyes locked on her younger sister.

“Why is that?” Elsa then smiles.

“I don’t have to deal with Ys and Xs and I can simply worry about other things.” Alyssa lifts her sunglasses, now growing curious.

“Speak child.”

“I was either going to help mom run Pitronia as the thought just sounds intriguing. That, or going to college for fashion design.” Alyssa smiles and shakes her head.

“If you can’t do your school work and take that seriously, then you don’t deserve to be near official country documents. Running a country and being a princess is much more serious business than you’re giving mom and dad credit for. If you can’t take school seriously, I don’t think mom is letting you have any chance at those reigns. Besides, there’s dollars involved in a country in making sure the budget is balanced. It’s called accounting, sis. Oh, and no college is going to accept someone that has 70% for their average. They’re looking for marks in the 80s for all of the classes. You should’ve paid attention when the advisor came by the school. Oh, and isn’t math required to determine dress length and fabric length? Say you have certain size of fabric – y. Wouldn’t x be a good way to help determine the best way to use the majority of the fabric? But hey, that’s right – school means nothing, right?” Elsa’s eyes open in shock as Alyssa simply smiles, patting her sister on the head. “Love you, too.” She then walks away from the pit wall and over to her car, grabbing her helmet and putting it on.

She couldn’t worry about Chase any longer. She couldn’t worry about Elsa or school any longer. It was now time to worry about the upcoming qualifying session and laying down the laps required to qualify well.

Chapter 54: Atlanta XFINITY Race

“The world’s eyes are on you and this is the best that you can deliver?” Cameron questions as Chase glances over his shoulder and rolls his eyes.

“The car was too loose – that’s all I can say,” he answers, having qualified 13th for the XFINITY race later that day.

“And your girlfriend?” Chase let out a sigh as he glances over towards Alyssa’s stall. She had the worst qualifying effort possible, getting loose out of the groove and backing the car in the wall. The crew was now in the process of getting the back-up ready.

“She’s earning that rookie stripe the hard way, sadly. I thought she would’ve done well today based on how well she practiced.” Cameron then crosses his arms as he leans back against the car, looking down Alyssa’s way as well.

“I feel as though she’s trying too hard at times. She knows the pressure is on her and everybody expects her to do well. She may say that it doesn’t bother her, but I think it is. She pushed the car a little too hard on that third lap and got out of the groove and in the wall. If she would’ve just rode it comfortably, she could’ve qualified top-15.” Chase shakes his head, understanding Cameron’s perspective. It made sense based on the small conversations that he had with Alyssa leading up to the weekend. It didn’t help that she was disappointed about her performance at Daytona, even if it wasn’t her fault.

“You know, she admitted the possibility of being worried about what the media had to say about us being together. It hasn’t bugged her, though, as she was all smiles this morning. However, you could be right…” Cameron then glances at Chase, thinking it over.

“What if she’s putting on a happy front so you don’t worry?” Chase shakes his head no, knowing that wasn’t the issue.

“I know when she’s hiding something, Cameron. I could always tell with her.” Cameron smiles.

“That’s why you both ended up together. Good luck later today, and maybe you should talk to her.” He then walks away and heads back to the Sprint Cup garage.

Chase stays in his spot, leaning back against the car, thinking. He thought about whether Cameron was on to something and whether it’d be a good idea to say something. Perhaps just to offer a small piece of advice.

Though as he watched her dad and the crew all surround her, he figured that it wasn’t needed. If Cameron was telling the truth, Dale would make the suggestion to her already. Dale was one of the first people, along with his dad, that caught Chase’s frustrations in his rookie year and helped cool them down.

He couldn’t let that worry remain on his mind much longer, though, as it was soon after race time and that meant 163 laps of hard racing ahead if he wanted to get the win.

The first 50 laps of the event would run cleanly, though there’d be a caution at lap 52 with Wyatt getting up in the wall with a flat tire. There were some slight concerns that tire wear could play a factor into the race, with the tires starting to show signs of heavy wear during the later end of a long run.

Those 50 laps hadn’t gone as Chase had wanted at all, though, as he continued to run just outside of the top 10 complaining that the car was loose. For Alyssa, though, she had made her way up after having to start from the rear of the field due to the back-up car. Currently running just inside the top-10, she was very pleased with how the car was handling.

“Why didn’t we go this car originally?” She asked her crew chief, who could only simply laugh.

“Just stay focused – still a long way to go,” he reminds her, causing her to take a deep breath. He was right as with 153 laps remaining, there was still a lot to happen. She just knew that she had to keep her nose clean and perhaps she could get that good finish she wanted. Though with how well the car was running, she was even starting to dream of a possible victory.

The trend of tire issues continued as at lap 100, it was RCR rookie Jayden Eddison taking his turn with contact in the wall. While Alyssa had gotten herself up into the top-five now, the caution was a welcome sight for Chase. If the caution hadn’t flown for Jayden, he thought that a trip down pit road would’ve been in his future as he felt one of the tires getting ready to separate.

“Need to work on the handling,” he tells his team. “We’re burning the right rear off every run because the tail is nowhere near happy. Can you please make some decent adjustments to tighten this car up?”

“I’m doing what I can Chase,” his crew chief tells him. “I’ve been tightening up throughout the day.”

“Well maybe take a bigger swing at it because we’re not going anywhere.” The frustration was evident in Chase’s voice as Bill listened in from his spot on the spotter’s stand.

“Take a calm deep breath and relax, Chase. Everybody is in this together. We’re all trying to make the car better. Perhaps a different approach or adjustment may be what he needs.” JR Motorsports kept their trend going through the years of taking the HMS engineers that were ready to be crew chiefs and giving them a chance. This young stud was no different, and so far, he wasn’t doing quite the job that they expected. Hence the suggestion from Bill to try and help the younggun out.

The race went back to its typical green flag feel, with the field getting spread out around the track as Kennedy took control dominating the event. Though with 13 laps to go, the caution would fly for yet another tire failure – this time courtesy of Ryan Blaney.

The caution only caused Alyssa to lick her chops as that meant a shot at stealing the lead and the victory form her cousin. She had kept herself in the top-five after getting up there and managed to continue posting solid lap times, moving into the second spot.

The long green flag run had been a great thing for Chase, as well, as the team finally made the adjustments that he was looking for and he found himself up to the fifth spot. With the restart set for the eight lap to go mark, it was going to be anybody’s race.

“Be smart about this,” Dale reminds Alyssa. “You’re having a good day. Don’t throw it away by pushing yourself too hard to try and steal the win. However, I also believe in you and know that you can pass Kennedy so give it all you got, princess.”

Marie’s nerves about racing were still there, despite having watched her daughter race for the past 14 years since beginning in quarter midgets. She still found herself covering her eyes in the final laps, worries of something happening.

“Tell me what happens!” She yells at her two kids as they sit on the either side of her on the pit box.

“I believe in her…” Elsa shares with a smile, having found herself caught up in the racing action for once.

“It’d be funny if Chase comes up there and steals the win from them all,” Robby comments, earning a look from Elsa. “Just saying!”

“Nope – it’s time for some girl power. It’s either going to be Kennedy or Alyssa – hopefully Alyssa.”

Their eyes then focused back on the track as they watched the green flag fly in the air and the action on track resume. This was going to be a good finish.

Chapter 55: The Finish

The green flag would wave with eight laps to go with Kennedy choosing to start on the inside, with Alyssa lined up on her outside set to challenge for the win.

The field went charging into one as Alyssa stuck to the high-groove that she had been using all day to gain ground throughout the race. It wouldn’t work out good for her this time, though, as she’d get loose in the center, giving up second to Chase as Kennedy took off with the lead.

She wasn’t set on letting Chase have the position for long, though, as she tucked in behind him down the backstretch. She then went to the bottom as he went to the top, hooking it perfectly as she came off the corner with the second spot behind him.

“7 to go,” her crew chief tells her. “That bottom works wonderful in 3&4.”

She debated whether to use the bottom down in one and two, however was hesitant with the fact that she hadn’t tried it all day and didn’t want to lose ground to Kennedy. She then went with her known high-groove, thought got loose once again, which once again allowed Chase to grab the second spot back from her.

“Son of a bitch!” She swore as she drove it off the corner, set to chase him down once again. She knew that for the rest of the race, she defiantly couldn’t keep doing that as continuing to lose this ground would just let Kennedy run away with it. Besides, she also wanted to make sure to beat Chase for bragging rights.

That task was going to be more difficult than she had planned, though, as he got the good run down the backstretch and was able to chase down Kennedy for the lead, all over her back bumper as they came to the line.

“6 to go,” Alan tells him as he sets focus on Kennedy’s move. He knew that she’d take the bottom in one and two, so that meant he’d have to go for the top-side. He just hoped that he didn’t find the same loose spot that had bitten Alyssa the past two laps.

His attempt at trying to make the pass down in one and two didn’t pan out as he found that spot as he had predicted, which allowed Kennedy to form that gap once again. He knew if he let her get any further out ahead that she’d be gone, as evident by her attack all race along.

Though he couldn’t focus that as his little slip up had allowed Alyssa to close the gap on him, right on his bumper down the backstretch. He couldn’t help but smile as it was nice to see her having a good run. Beyond that, though, it was an interesting dynamic racing her now that they were dating. Perhaps that journalist had a point after all.

As predicted, she made the move on him through the corner, breaking alongside of him off the corner. Neither could break clear of each other, sending them back to the flag side-by-side with five to go. They also both noticed the same thing ahead of them – that pink Chevrolet was getting smaller and smaller.

Knowing that he couldn’t go all the way to the outside, Chase ran the middle line of the track through turns one and two. It worked perfectly as he able to get the run off the corner, while pinching her down a little, to take back the second spot. Now to run down Kennedy for the lead.

Seeing as the middle of the track looked to have some grip, he used the same approach through three and four and was able to close considerably on the gap to Kennedy off the corner.

“4 to go,” Alan tells him. “That was your best lap of the race.”

That middle was a sure thing of beauty, and for that reason, he took it once again through one and two. He wasn’t expecting, though, the run that Alyssa was able to get on the bottom, getting back alongside him once again for the second spot. Despite continuing to battle off the corner, the pair were both closing on the distance that Kennedy had been able to open up over them.

Chase knew that time was running out, though, as he made sure to hit his marks perfectly through turns three and four, grabbing the advantage ahead of Alyssa as they closed on Kennedy’s bumper.

“3 to go,” Alan says as the anticipation in the pits was growing. Everybody could already the photo finish that was set to happen.

Going down into one and two, he took the middle lane once again while Kennedy took the top, getting alongside her for the lead. Though as they went off the corner, he was almost set to clear up to the wall…

“Outside…3 wide middle,” Eddie D’Hondt radioed and Chase went against his original plan, knowing what that meant. Alyssa was there and with three laps to go at Atlanta Motor Speedway, they ran three-wide for the lead.

They kept the formation down the backstretch, each taking their separate line through turns three and four. While she had overstepped the boundary and gotten loose other times on the outside, this time she hit the line perfectly. Alyssa came off the corner with the run, hitting the start-finish line first.

With two laps to go, Alyssa was leading in her second ever XFINITY start in front of the defending series champion – Kennedy – and her boyfriend, who had won a couple Cup Championships.

Deep breathes. Focus. Don’t lose yourself in the moment. That was the words spoken on her mind as she headed down the front straightaway.

She took the high line through the turn, feeling confident as that was the move that had gotten her the lead. However, the balance of running fast and jumping the cushion seemed slim to none today, and she overstepped it a little. A slight twitch of the wheel in her hands and off the corner, she found a familiar blue Chevrolet right back on her tail once again.

She drove it into the far end of the track, knowing that she was driving for all that she had with the laps counting down. She came off the corner, solid, not hearing any comments of ‘outside’ or ‘inside’ from her spotter, meaning that she had clear track, still.

“White flag,” TJ Majors tells her, having agreed to spot for her following a special request. The season saw him spotting for Alyssa all year, along with the select races that Dale was running. “Two-wide behind you. Run a solid lap and she’s yours.”

Alyssa kept that thought in mind, retreating to the bottom lane of the track where she had been solid, rather than taking a chance with the cushion once again. She came off the corner with a strong run and headed down the backstretch. No lap cars to contend with, no cars beside her – she just had to hit her marks once again.

She took the high line through turns three and four, careful to find the sweet spot that the car liked. She then came off the corner, cleanly, heading straight for the finish line. As she crossed, she could see the checkered flags waving above her head and could only smile. A glance in the mirror told her that it was an extra special first win as a certain someone had come in second, beating Kennedy to the line by mere inches.

“Wooohoooo!” She let out on the radio as the excitement of the moment took over. “I love you! I love you guys! This car was awesome! Thank you….thank you…..Great job everybody!”

“Solid job driving that car today,” TJ tells her. “You looked nothing like a champion out there – but rather a rookie. Heck – working with you reminded me of all the times with your dad. Way to go, Alyssa!”

“Great job guys!” Crew chief Travis Mack says. After working as the car chief underneath Greg Ives through the years, he finally got his opportunity to call the shots, originally working with Alyssa in the truck series. “Great driving Alyssa! Great car guys! Helluva job! This is what a championship team is made of!”

There was one voice on the radio that Alyssa had yet to hear, but wanted to hear. It was the voice that she knew would give her the most pride in this moment.

“Give us the burnout of a lifetime, princess!” Travis brings Alyssa back to reality as she does her victory lap. She could worry about hearing that voice later. Victory Lane would be the perfect spot for that, along with a special visit from Chase.

Sitting on the pit box, all Dale could do was shake his head in disbelief as he sat back on the pit box. Perhaps there were a couple tears of joy flowing, too. It was the fact that he couldn’t believe it. His baby girl had won her first race, and in style might he add.