Thursday, December 6 – Kyle Busch Motorsports
Sarina chuckles as she watches Todd sit on Santa’s lap, followed by Harrison. Admittedly, she had to admit the latter was actually quite adorable sitting there.
“So, what are you asking Santa for?” Chase questions, catching her attention. She was surprised that his little sidekick, Brexton, still wasn’t attached to his hip.
“Are you trying to get some gift ideas as you don’t know what to get to me?” She wonders, and he shakes his head no. If he was being honest, he was actually pretty close to being done Christmas shopping early this year for a change. “If I’m being honest, though, I have everything that I need.”
“There’s got to be something you’re going to ask for….” She shakes her head no.
“I have the best friends that someone could ask for, supporting me in whatever crazy decisions that I may make. I also have the best opportunity that anybody could ask for next season in racing with one of the best teams in the XFINITY Series. I have my health, and I have a dashing darling fiancé that I will get to call my husband next month.” He smiles as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.
“I can’t deny that I can’t wait for you to be Ms. Sarina Elliott.” She lets the name run through her mind a couple times, smiling at the thought as well.
“There’s only one Christmas wish that remains, though….” The comment catches him by surprise given her comments thus far. “I just want my baby to be healthy. All I want for Christmas and the new year is for this pregnancy to continue going smoothly as it is, and for a healthy baby with no complications. I also wish for Christmas that we could hear the news of Alison being caught, but I don’t want to focus on her.”
“I can promise you this – she isn’t going to touch you, or that baby…” He then gives her a kiss, before shifting to stand behind her so he could wrap his arms around, with hands placed on her stomach. “I also know that you’re doing a great job taking care of yourself, and just like everything else, I have a feeling it’s going to go smoothly. Look at it this way – we’re past the halfway point now.”
“It seems someone agrees with Daddy, too.” Sarina didn’t need to say anything as Chase could feel the little kicks against his hands, though the word ‘Daddy’ did give him a new sense of nerves and worry, but also pride and unexplainable joy. “By the way, I have a surprise for you when we get home.”
“Oh really?” She nods her head as she leans back in his arms.
“While you’ve been busy the past couple of days, I’ve had some energy that needed to be used. So I got around to doing something that we both knew needed to be done – with some help from Kyle to put something together.” Chase glances at her a little confused, but immediately realizes what she was meaning.
“The nursery?” She nods her head.
“I know you wanted to do that together, but I just started doing some small things after you painted the walls, and it took off. I hope you don’t mind.” He shakes his head.
“Given the way the past couple of weeks have been, it’s probably better that you went ahead and did it because who knows if we would’ve had time.”
Thursday, December 6 – Charlotte, North Carolina
Chase walks into the nursery, glancing around with a smile on his face. She had followed their idea beyond anything that he could’ve imagined. He didn’t know what he liked more – the murals she added to the wall of the trees, or the stuffed giraffe to match the crib.
He then sits down in the rocking chair, swaying back and forth a little as he glances over at her with a smile on his face.
“Come here…” He requests and she walks over, sitting on his lap carefully. “This is beautiful.”
“Could you have imagined this a couple of years ago?” She questions and he shakes his head no. “It still shocks me so much in looking back to see how far we’ve come, what we’ve gone through, and how much I’ve grown to be here. I was saying to Samantha earlier tonight that I was so surprised in where we are now, but also so thankful and glad. I mean, I never could’ve imagined this.”
“I remember when we first began talking about a future together and our dreams. I remember you speaking about how things weren’t always easy, and you didn’t know if you could go forth with decisions like marriage, and a family. I was afraid at that time we would never get to where we could be like we are now. I was afraid that there’d always be questions of commitment, or we’d never grow with children because of past mista-”
“You told me before you never thought about kids, though. You lied to me.” Chase lets out a sigh, nodding his head. He knew that went against everything in their relationship.
“With all the fears surrounding whether you could carry a baby full term, and whether this was even remotely possible, I didn’t want to put any more pressure on you. I wanted you to feel safe and secure so you could share anything and everything with me. I wanted you to not hold something back due to a fear of judgment. So I bit my tongue, and focused on you, and moving forward in that moment.” She understood where he was coming from, but that didn’t mean she was going to let this go easily.
“I appreciate that, honestly, but remember what I told you, too. Just like you encourage me to share anything and want to be there for me, I want to be there for you. So please don’t ever feel the need to hide something from me, Chase. I can handle whatever it is and I can help you – just like you’ve helped me.” He brushes a small piece of hair out of her eyes.
“The thing is you’ve helped me just as much, too. I wouldn’t had gotten through the summer and what Alison did without you. You gave me someone to talk to. You gave me someone to lean on, to cry to, to vent to, and hold me up when I couldn’t. Even though i didn’t want to share anything, you just held me and that comfort meant more than anything until I was ready to talk.” He then takes a careful deep breath, trying to find the right words to say. “I think that feeling of betrayal in knowing I went against your feelin-”
“It’s not your fau-”
“I know that, believe me. I know that she forced me and manipulated my decisions based on my fear for your well-being. I know it wasn’t my fault, Sarina.” He then takes a deep breath. “But at that time, those betrayal feelings in knowing that I’d done something with someone else, and felt something in return, I think that’s why it made it more difficult to say something then. I didn’t want to face those feelings, again.” She then wipes the stray tear that was rolling down his cheek away.
“Chase….” She then lays her head against his shoulder. “I want you to know that I am proud of you. I am proud of the strength that you’ve shown. I’m proud of how you’ve fought through everything you’ve endured. I’m proud of how you’ve kept pushing despite everything. But trust me when I say this, you don’t need to feel pain for me because I know it wasn’t your fault, and I know it meant nothing. I love you, always and forever.”
“I love you, too.” He then gives her a kiss as they continue to rock back and forth slowly together.
Friday, December 7 – Hendrick Motorsports
“Am I actually seeing what I am seeing?” Chase questions as he walks into the Hendrick Motorsports shop with Alex and Jimmie.
“What store even carries a suit like that?” Alex adds, earning a chuckle in return from Chase.
“Chad likes to win anything – even if it’s just a simple costume contest and there is one later today,” Jimmie reminds them. “I still say he looks ridiculous, though.”
“And I thought Alan was going to be the most embarrassed of the crew chiefs,” Chase comments, taking in the shirt that Alan had chosen to be in the Christmas spirit.
The group find their way to the front of the shop, standing with the crew chiefs as Chase chuckles once again in glancing over the outfit chosen by Chad.
Everything started out as any of their previous Christmas Parties had with the crew chiefs thanking everybody for their hard work all year, and emphasizing their focus on being stronger in 2019. There were then well wishes offered to crew members who were retiring or moving onto other opportunities – with some digs thrown in along the way. Finally, as they always had, well wishes were offered for the Christmas season and time spent away to everyone.
“Now before we do begin the games that we normally play, we are introducing something special this year,” Chad changes the usual tone from what they had experienced. The change appeared to catch everyone off-guard, except for Alan. “As everybody is aware, Chase and his fiancée Sarina are expecting a baby in the new year with her currently being 21 weeks pregnant. The last time a driver was expecting a baby, we had some fun – so why not do that again?”
“There’s a bucket to the left of the shop, with a small form beside it,” Alan continues, as Chase looks over slightly confused. Why wasn’t he warned about any of this? “When you get a chance today, please fill it out. Please include your guess on gender, weight, height, and the actual date of arrival. There are small prizes to be won for the person to guesses everything the closest.”
“Can I have some clues please?” Jimmie whispers as Chase just chuckles. Maybe this was going to be fun after all.
“You know as much as I do right now in terms of those details,” Chase replies.
“We’re also going to wish the couple a great wedding in January, which I know some of you will be attending,” Alan adds as he looks down the line at his driver. “It’s crazy to think about the fact that he and Sarina are getting married with a child on the way, considering where we began, but we also couldn’t be happier for them both. So here’s to everything going smoothly in terms of the wedding and pregnancy, and to happiness for you both in the new year.”
“Thank you. I appreciate the sentiments.”
“Now, let’s see who can pin the nose on Rudolph!”
“I17!” Chad announces from the front of the shop as he pulls the latest ball out of the bucket.
“How am I supposed to make the pattern that he wants if he keeps calling shitty numbers?” Chase questions, earning a couple laughs from those around him.
“You sound like one of those old ladies complaining,” Jimmie answers as Chase looks over at him.
“I’m not the only one whose growing grey hair.” Jimmie then flicks one of the small chips over at him, earning a chuckle in return from Chase.
“I can’t even figure out the damn pattern that he wants anyway…” Chase just shakes his head.
“They say in your old age that sometimes your eyesight goes first. Is that why you couldn’t see victory lane this past year?” Jimmie’s jaw drops in response.
“What has gotten into you today? Where is your Christmas spirit, man?” Chase looks over, moving a couple of the chips around on Jimmie’s card for him.
“There’s the season of giving for you. If you would’ve been paying attention, you could’ve yelled BINGO already.” Jimmie then looks down at his card, surprised at the formation of chips.
“Holy shit!” The comment then catches the attention of everyone in the room. “I mean – Bingo!”
“And we trust him to drive a racecar every week,” Alan comments, earning a chuckle from Chase. As they verity Jimmie’s chips to make sure it was right, Chase glances at his phone. “Sarina?”
“Nope, she’s with Samantha today getting her nails done with a Spa day ahead of tomorrow,” Chase reveals, which didn’t surprise the crew chief.
“Have you seen her banquet dress yet?” Chase shakes his head no, and that was even after trying to take a peak in the closet the other night. His phone then goes off again, which he obviously picks up to type a response to. “So if it’s not Sarina or myself that has your attention, who is it?”
“My sister.” Alan had to admit that he was slightly confused in knowing he wasn’t very close with either of them. “Brittney is expressing some concern in knowing what’s going on with Alison, and the fact that there are no leads.”
“Really?” Chase nods his head as he looks back at her response, typing another in return. “I wouldn’t expect her to be worried given that she’s a certifiable badass herself.”
“Knowing how people work in these worlds, and seeing how Alison can escape everything, it has caught Brittney’s attention and she wanted to share that with me.” Chase then sets his phone back down beside him as they clear their cards, ready for the next game. “She wants me to know that she does care about me as her little brother and she wants to make sure everything is going smoothly. She also offered to help, if necessary.”
“Given her air force training, that may not be something to pass up as she may have something to offer.” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks over at the crew chief.
“No tricks are going to work on Alison, though. it’s all about manipulating feelings and the situation. that’s how she got to me each time before. I just can’t let her do that again if and when we cross-”
“Who says you’re going to cross paths?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks back at his card.
“You know yourself it’s inevitable.” Alan wanted to argue that, but he knew better with having seen Alison’s pattern of behavior. “I just need to be ready this time, and not let her do things how she wants them to be done.”
“You also need to be safe, and think about your well-being through whatever she does. Don’t ever forget, please.” Chase nods his head in agreement.