Saturday March 24, 2018 – Martinsville Speedway
Sarina wakes up, and practically froze in the moment as she could hear singing….
“Cheers to a good country song,” she heard as she slowly climbed out of the bed. “To another long work week gone, and yeah I’m raisin’ my class to those savin’ our ass overseas.” She then slowly cracks open the bathroom door, smile still plastered on her face. “I might stay for one more round – hell, I might close this place down.”
A small chuckle escapes her lips, causing the voice to die out immediately as a head peaks out from behind the shower curtain.
“How long have you been here?” He questions and she just shrugs her shoulders.
“You could’ve just kept singing,” she answers. “I mean, your voice rang through the whole motorcoach…” He pouts a little.
“Sorry if I woke you.” She then smiles once again.
“It was actually really sweet to wake up, too.” He then glances around the small shower, before looking back towards her.
“Give me two minutes and I’ll be out. I’d invite you in here, but it’s a little tight…” She nods her head, accepting, but knowing they could make it work if desperate enough.
He lived up to his word as he was out a couple minutes later, drying himself off, before slipping into a pair of jeans and sweater. She flops back on the bed, knowing that she had plenty of time before she had to be out today – while knowing he wasn’t as fortunate with early morning scheduled media.
“I want to thank you for last night by the way,” she catches his attention. “That was one of the absolute best nights, concerts that I’ve ever been to. I’ve always loved Cole, and just being up on stage, hearing that song so close, and then just being there and….. I could go on, but thank you.” He smiles, leaning in for a quick kiss.
“You’re welcome,” he answers. “I figured you could use som-”
“Don’t you mean we could use something?” He lets out a sigh, but nods his head back in return. “I know you’re always killing yourself worried about me, but damn, you can tell me how you’re feeling, too. I can take it, too. I mean, I grew up with Chri-”
“That doesn’t mean that you should have to go through what we’re going through right now. You don’t deserve it.” She places her hand on top of his.
“You don’t, either. I mean, this isn’t even about you but here you are, wrapped up in a mess consisting of two psychos. I brought you into this worl-”
“I could’ve said no, I could’ve turned my back and left you standing as soon as I heard everything. Did I? No, because I believe in you and want to be with you – always, and am willing to accept whatever comes with it. We’ll be fine, okay?” She nods her head, accepting another quick kiss. “Besides, I was thinking maybe for Easter we could do something special.”
“Something special?” He nods his head. “I thought you’d want to spend time with family…” There was no secret that family was important and certainly missing a family dinner wasn’t like him, but he also knew where they both stood right now.
“We’re both stressed, worried, and have so much going on with our lives. We need some time away. Besides, it’d be nice to get in one final round before the season ends…” The cabin immediately brought a smile to her face as that’d forever be their special spot in being where he proposed to her. However, she couldn’t help but feel a bit of sadness behind the reason.
“I would never pass up a trip to the cabin…” He smiles, knowing that based on their last time there together. He actually wondered how many more special memories they could add to that now.
Sarina stood back following the final laps of the first practice session, glancing up at the board. She couldn’t complain about Chase ending the session being ranked sixth at the end of the session. Furthermore, hearing that he felt something in the car that related to how they were handling last fall gave her hope. If he could perform like he did last October, anything was possible – right?
Sarina hears her phone ring in her pocket, reaching for it with her eyes rolling immediately. How could she have the audacity to call her after everything?
“Didn’t I tell you that I didn’t want to hear a single word from you ever again?” She questions immediately upon answering the phone call.
“I heard your words clearly,” Shelley begins. “But remember, we did come to a compromi-”
“There was no compromising if you damn well ask me. You enabled Alison by allowing her to run around for months like nothing was going on. You are enabling a potential second around with Chris. Do I need to go on?”
“I understand your frustration, Sarina, and I’m actually calling to apologize once again.” Sarina immediately had to chuckle.
“Are you realizing that allowing Chris to be free is a mistake?”
“I won’t ever change my stan-”
“Then don’t you dare call me until you can change your stance on that, and realize you did wrong by both of them with us. Thank you for enabling my life to be a continued living hell!” She then hangs up, slamming her phone back in her pocket, as she leans back against the wall and takes a deep breath.
“I don’t want to be the one at the other end of that phone call,” she hears and glances out of the corner of her eye to see Lindsay standing there. “I came over because I wanted to come out and watch qualifying from pit road with the team – if I’m allowed of course – while Ryan is busy with his team.” Sarina takes a deep breath, nodding her head accepting, as they make their way to pit road. Putting down some laps would certainly be a good way to relieve some stress.
“The guys know we’re close so they’ll have no problem,” Sarina comments, causing a smile on Lindsay’s face. Of course, that smile quickly faded as she recalled the words heard.
“Do you want to talk about that phone call at all?” Sarina lets out a long sigh.
“Aunt Shelley if you must know. She wanted to apologize once again for the Alison situation, but could give two shits about the mess that she’s starting with Chris being allowed a chance.” Lindsay nodded her head, accepting. There was no secret that she wasn’t pleased with her aunt’s actions, either.
“Well I’m glad that you stood straight up to her and told her what for because she deserved to hear that and understand where you’re coming from. But my biggest advice? Block her number.” Sarina shakes her head no, causing a glance of confusion from Lindsay.
“I need it as she’s supposed to phone with any tips on Alis-”
“She can call Chas-”
“I don’t need him being under any additional stress abou-”
“She can call the investigating officer. Look, I just don’t want you to keep that toxicity in your life. You know it’s not good for you, but yet you enable it as much as she does.” Sarina had to chuckle at those comments. “Why the hell are you laughing?”
“You sound like Chase right now.” Lindsay then glances at her confused. “He’s honestly told me those same exact words. He told me, ‘you’ve got to draw a line somewhere or you are going to get taken advantage of’. It first came up in relation to racing on-track and why he took a stand against Denn-”
“Clever way of doing it.” Sarina immediately smiles, laughing a little.
“I could watch those laps at Phoenix over and over if you ask me.” Lindsay now chuckles herself. “But then later on that night, he said that he didn’t just mean that for one way – but every way. It’s why he wants to try and make sure that he doesn’t let his concern for Alison drive his life – he doesn’t want to feel powerless and not have that ability to stand up.”
“The feeling of being powerless, unable to do anything, that’s worse than the pain itself sometimes.” Sarina nods her head in agreement. “So why haven’t you listened?”
“Because I keep telling myself that I can handle it, that I’m stron-”
“You don’t need to use Shelley to prove that, Chelsy. Look at the life that you’ve built for yourself.” Lindsay immediately froze, noicing the change on Sarina’s face. “I’m sorry. It just slip-”
“It’s okay, I understand and get it.” Sarina then takes a deep breath as she glances over. “If anybody is allowed to mention that name, it is you because you have the best intentions and am connecting it to a very special time when we were growing up together and being friends. I’m not upset, okay?” Lindsay smiles a little, nodding her head.
“So are you going to block her?” Sarina slowly pulls her phone out, unlocking it as she hands it over to Lindsay.
“Do the honors. I have to go qualify….” Sarina then walks over to the truck, stretching out her arms as she walks over to Rudy, ready to get down to business.
As much as she wanted to believe that it wasn’t bothering her, it showed in her qualifying attempt as she ended up 10th – versus being in the top-five as anticipated. She immediately apologized to the team afterwards, with Rudy brushing it off – saying they’d make it back up in the race later on that afternoon.
Chase gets out of the car and makes his way back to the box, letting out a sigh.
There was nothing that you could want in where they ranked the second practice, but that didn’t tell the whole story. He obviously knew the first run was off of their game, but the second he felt was closer to where he wanted to be. It wasn’t quite as good as where he was last October, but the feeling was coming to him and confidence was growing that they’d be fine come Sunday.
However, his attitude was immediately shifted when he noticed an envelope sitting there, with his name on it. He went to reach for it, but a hand landed on top of his.
“Don’t open it, don’t touch it,” he hears and knew the words immediately were from Alan Gustafson.
“You’ve looked at it, though,” he replies and the crew chief slowly nods his head around as Chase turns to face him. “So it’s from Alison and it’s a note of threatening given her escape. So basically that means that she’s on the property somewhere but like always, they haven’t found her? But yet hey, it’s safer for me to not know that detail and to not see the note…”
“I didn’t mean it in anyway shape or form like that, Chase.” Chase glances up at Alan. “I was going to tell you after the session was over. I was going to suggest that a couple of us guys stay with you through the rest of the evening just to make sure that you keep your wits about you. I was going to suggest taking the envelope to the NASCAR hauler. I was ready to do what was necessary….” Chase’s eyes fall back to the ground.
“I’m sorry….” Alan crosses his arms as he locks his eyes on Chase.
“It’s clear that these notes and everything about Alison bugs you – I saw that on Thursday firsthand, I saw that when she went after you in the hauler. Heck, I was almost at the receiving end of a bullet – and don’t make a single comment about that. I know safety is the most important thing and I’m focused on that. I’m also trying to do what’s best for you, and I felt not letting you see the contents would be advised.” Chase kept his eyes focused towards the ground, knowing that Alan wasn’t moving a single inch.
“You’re right. I don’t need to see it and ponder what it means and what she’ll do because like you said, she’s not going to touch me. Everybody in this garage area – every team member off every team, every official, even fans knows what she looks like and has an eye out for her. She’s going to be caught and it’s going to be over.” Alan smiles a little, nodding his head.
“Thank you. Now, can we get back to discussing the car? I know you have a truck race to go watc-”
“Have you seen the radar?” Alan lets out a sigh, nodding his head. “Do you really think there’s going to be a race looking at that?”
“Stranger things have happened, right?” Chase rolls his eyes as he reaches back, grabbing the small screen.
“This isn’t going to be one of those cases, Alan. But, for the what’s it worth, it’ll give us time to figure out what we’re missing…”
Chase then goes through the runs, watching them, and comparing lines and braking patterns. They were only missing a touch of something – and he was bound to figure what it was. It was better than thinking about a psycho person.
“It’s almost beautiful in a way….” Sarina comments as she glances out the window at the snow.
“I almost want to go out and make a snow angel,” Lindsay adds as the girls chuckle together.
“I can’t believe NASCAR thought they could get the truck race in before this. I mean, the whole radar was bloody well green and blue – what else did they expect? Those laps with the rain tricking down – I was a little nervous there…”
“You didn’t do too bad, though. I mean, you didn’t lose any positions.” Sarina nods her head, knowing that it had been tricky to remain where she was.
“Nothing wrong with a Sunday doubleheader, right?” Lindsay couldn’t help but agree as the girls looked back out the snow again.
“Anybody seen my phone?” Chase questions as he emerges from the back of the motorcoach. They had just gotten back from going out to dinner and were set for a fun night of hanging out together, considering there wasn’t much else to do in the snowy conditions.
“Did you leave it at the restaurant?” Ryan wonders from his spot on the couch and Chase shakes his head no.
“Is it back in our motorcoach?” Sarina adds, and Chase shakes his head no once again.
“I haven’t had it since final prac….” His voice trails off, as he almost wants to curse himself. He could see where it was sitting immediately. “Have the Cup teams left the infield yet?”
“I can see some cars being loaded still – including I think your trailer,” Lindsay comments as she tries to get a clear view through the flurries falling.
“How is it fair that you guys get your cars put in your haulers for the night and my baby truck has to sit on pit road all night with a tarp over it in the snow?” Sarina questions and Chase shrugs his shoulders.
“You can take that up with NASCAR – after I borrow your phone,” he tells her as she looks over intrigued. “I need to text Alan.” She easily hands it over, knowing the crew chief’s number was in there for safe keeping, among other reasons.
“It’s just ridiculous. I mean, what if the tarp comes loose? What if snow gets in there? What if someone tampers with my truck? What if security runs into issues? I can’t help but worry…” She then glances back out the window, staring at her truck on pit road, barely seeing it.
“Are you going to stand guard all night?” Ryan wonders and Sarina glances back at him. “I wouldn’t blame you….”
“I wish I was allowed to sleep in it just so I knew that it’d be safe,” she muses, causing a couple chuckles.
“I’m going to get phone,” Chase says as he hands the phone back to Sarina.
“I should come with you.” He shakes his head no as he slips on his shoes.
“I’ll be fine.” Sarina lets out a long sigh as she glances over at Ryan, before looking towards Chase.
“Alison is running free righ-”
“I’ll be fine, Sarina. I can take care of myself.” He then gives her a quick kiss, before grabbing his coat and heading out the door.
He makes his way through the motorcoach lot, going over to where the gate led into the track. Showing his hard card to the security official, he crosses over the track, shaking his head at the amount of snow already.
As he reaches the infield of the track and goes to cross over pit road, he feels something underneath his feet move, catching him off-guard. He immediately falls back, landing hard as he lets out a small groan.
“Fuck!” He lets out, feeling the pain up his back immediately.
“That was easy,” he hears, sending a shiver through his spine. “It’s amazing what a little cord can do…” He feels every fear flood through him, his voice threatening to hitch in his throat.
“Hel-” He goes to scream after finding his voice, but a hand ends up pressed against his face.
“Sssh, I wouldn’t want someone to disturb our little meeting…” His eyes fill with glancing straight into her eyes. “Besides, I thought I had something that we had to finish.”
“You’re never going to get away with this….” A chuckle escapes her lips.
“I don’t need long, playboy…” She then reaches for the edge of his jeans.
“What the hell??” A random voice can be heard, causing Alison to freeze immediately.
“We’ll meet eventually, and you won’t get away,” she offers, before taking off out of sight.
“Thank you…” Chase quietly says to no one in particular, curious himself as to who said those words. He then goes to sit up, feeling the pain rip through him. “Holy shit!”
“Chase?!?” He hears the voice once again, recognizing it as Chad Knaus and Jesse Sanders come running over.
“Chad….” Chad glances over at Jesse a little confused, before turning his eyes back to Chase.
“Just don’t move; we’ll get you some help,” Chad states, eying Jesse as he takes off running back towards the garage area. “What the hell happened?”
“Alison, again…” Chase then squints his eyes, feeling as though the pain was increasing. “Oh man…”