Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 138: Chase’s Own Words Part 2

Sunday, August 20

“So you never saw my defendant touch your water bottle or place the drugs in it, did you?” The lawyer immediately asks and Chase bites his lips. Here came the lawyer’s way of showing doubt, which would hopefully get his client off. What did it matter? Chris was already going to jail for years….

“No, I did not,” Chase answers, truthfully. He knew he couldn’t lie, even if it would make his story better.

“So this is all based on your suspicion, guilty by association?” Chase wanted to curse up and down a wall right now.

“Correct, but I don’t see how it’d be different…” There was no way one of his guys or Sarina would’ve done it – and Allison wasn’t even a thought then.

“The bottle was located in your team’s trailer all weekend. What if a fellow Hendrick Motorsports employee with access tainted the liquid?” Chase almost laughed at the thought, while resisting the urge to punch the lawyer. There was no way he could watch his guys get accused.

“My guys are family, and trustworthy. We’re closer than you can probably ever imagine. None of them would ever do anything to hurt me.” He knew that for a fact, and couldn’t thank them enough for having his back through all this – on top of enduring the Indianapolis mess.

“It’s also nice that you have a history with Chris, and he never got convicted on those charges.” Chase wanted to state the answer once again, but knew that wasn’t needed as the jury heard the psychiatrist’s words. “Are you trying to pin these charges on my client out of revenge?” Now Chase really had to laugh even more.

“I wasn’t the one who initially filed the charges as the department did that based on evidence. I just went in, and gave my seal of approval because I know what Chris is capable of.” He remembered when they told him Chris had been charged. It was that moment his mind flashed to the discussion with Alan about the location of the bottle before he drank it. When it came to signing off on the charges, that came without a question.

“There’s another poisoning case going on with you associated in Indiana – Alison Stevenson. Let the court be known that it was same compound used there, as well. Could Allison been behind your attack this time, too?” Chase knew there was no way that Allison could be. Bethany – that was possible in a small sense, but never Allison.

“She did not have access to the bottle as it was first in my motorhome – accessed by myself, my girlfriend Sarina Ott, my parents – and then in the trailer, which is open to access by just Hendrick Motorsports employees. Allison is neither of those.” He could’ve also mentioned how she didn’t enter his life into later on that year at the pageant. Why did Hooters make him do that, again?

“And is it known that the poisons are accessible by others?” Chase felt confused immediately. Why would he know to locate these?

“I wouldn’t know.” That was the honesty at it’s best.

“Last question – if you were worried about Chris, why did you allow him to stay with you?” He couldn’t help but smile at the thought, as it was something he battled back and forth with.

“I did it as a favor for Sarina, actually. She trusted her brother enough and felt that he was turning a corner – and wanted to give him a full chance. She asked me, and I accepted. Like I said, I had my reservations – which never changed at all no matter what I said out loud to people, because of what he said to me. However, I was willing to open the door a little if she felt it was best. Obviously, that was a chance that I shouldn’t have taken.” Thinking it over, though, he knew even if he had not done that, Chris would’ve found another approach; that was how he was. It was the same way Allison got through to him.

“Thank you.” The lawyer goes back to her spot in the court room.

“You may step down,” the judge instructs and Chase does as instructed, biting his tongue the entire way. “We will resume court at the next date with continued testimony. Court adjourned!”

With those words spoken, the three friends immediately headed out of the court room, all focused on escaping that process as quick as possible and ready to get the vacation started.

As they reached the doors, they froze immediately, seeing the sea of reporters and microphones.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” Sarina lets out, causing both Ryan and Chase to grab her hands at the same time. Chase’s reaction was nothing new to her, but a glance towards Ryan and it was obvious she was surprised.

“There’s no public ban, remember?” Chase questions, remembering the discussion about that. “You said it yourself – he wanted us to testify, speak to what happened, and cause a stir in our lives. Whether that was his idea or Bethany’s, it’s all about tearing us piece by piece…” Ryan looked between the pair.

“And we’re not letting that happen, are we?” He asks and both shake their heads. “We’re the best of friends, focused on having fun together, our history together, and a vacation to come!” Ryan glanced around, seeing various people walk in and out of the court room. “Is anybody here from KBM or Hendrick?” Chase shakes his head, remembering the discussion.

“Morgan wasn’t scheduled to work today. She asked if she should come, but I told her that’d be unfair…” Now he instantly regretted that, as he pulled his phone out. He knew he should text her what happened and if he says anything as he leaves.

“…and Chris is busy with the Late Model guys,” Sarina adds, as Ryan curses to himself. He had no experience here, either.

“When everything began to come out, do you remember their advice?” Ryan questions, hoping they’d reach some answer.

“You don’t have to say anything,” Chase and Sarina repeat together, remembering the group discussion. “Ongoing investigations and trials have stipulations to where you cannot comment on certain things until everything is ove-”

“We are mid-trial, therefore legally you can’t say anything. Therefore, no matter the questions, the answer is this – we cannot comment at this time due to legalities.”

“When did you become so media savy?” Chase wonders as Ryan smiles.

“Since I started a podcast, which you seem to avoid coming on…” Ryan replies as Chase rolls his eyes, knowing how Ryan shoved that in his face constantly.

“Hey now, I’m busy….” Ryan laughs, having heard that excuse multiple times.

“If we’re going to make our flight, cut the bullshit and let’s get this over with!” Sarina demands, catching their attention once again. Trading glances across the line, the three of them walk forward together, going out the door as the sea of microphones and cameras focus on them.

“Chase Elliott, did the trail of events which took place change your view on Sarina?” One of the reporters immediately questioned. Chase takes a deep breath, repeating Ryan’s words through his head, as he tried to stop himself from something. But they were talking about his girl….

“We’re still together, right?” He questions, causing Ryan to curse to himself as he watched their plan blow-up. “We’re still in love. We’re here together, and actually always together. We’re going on a vacation together. What do you think?” Sarina bit her tongue, catching that bit of attitude at the end. That was not in his normal character, and she knew that’d cause a couple comments from everybody across the board. However, it was nice to hear him stand up for her.

“But was there any trust issues that came about as a result?” Chase knew the answer, but that was none of their business.

“No, but really – I have no more to say. The trial is still going on, and as Morgan told you – I cannot comment on legal preceding until they’re complete. Thank you.” He then tightens his grip on Sarina’s hand, pulling her through the crowd with him as everybody lost track of Ryan sneaking through.

The group makes their way through, before hurrying over to the Chevrolet Tahoe, immediately climbing in and shutting all the doors behind them.

“That was ridiculous!” Ryan comments as he sees the sea of reporters standing there, microphones in the air, cameras facing different directions. They were obviously waiting to see if anybody else important came out. “I mean, I’ve heard about celebrities being mobbed. I’ve never been mobbed – and that wasn’t close to being mobbed, but I never want to be mobbed.”

“Just wait until you see the crap that they write,” Chase adds, as he finishes texting Morgan. He told her about what happened, as well as a brief summary of what he said. “And I know I shouldn’t have said anything – but I had to. If I don’t say shit, then they’re going to write that we have issues and the relationship is for show. I don’t need your name dragged…” Sarina lets out a sigh as she glances out the window.

“Chase, it’s part of it,” she comments. “It’s not my fault that I’m related to him, and it’s not my fault what he did. It’s my family history, right? Everything that happened…” She then takes a deep breath, not believing that was being the calm one here. However, it was all about doing whatever Chase needed done. “It was going to come out at some point. I can’t keep running and hiding. But like you said, it’s time that I own it. It proves what I’ve been through, I’m strong, and showcases why I’m so thankful to be where I am today.” Chase smiles, not believing his advice was setting in.

“But what I mean is they would’ve dragged it furth-”

“Let them talk as it doesn’t matter. Who matters in my life? You, my friends, Kyle, Sam, my team, and those who truly believe what I have to say instead of some raggy ass paper. But, for what’s it worth, I am glad that you stood up for me…” She then leans in and kisses his lips with a smile of her own. “I love you, and thank you.”

“I’d do it all over again, to be honest…”

“Even if you get yelled at?” Ryan questions from the back, already getting that nagging third wheel feeling. Why couldn’t Bubba had joined them? “You know the attitude you showed at the end…” Chase leans back against the seat with a sigh.

“So maybe I took it a bit too far,” he comments. “And sure, I’m going to yelled at. I’ll own that. My reason? My damn vacation is getting interrupted! Now, are we ready to get going?”

“Why are we still sitting here in the parking lot, then? We have a flight to make!” Sarina questions as Chase smiles, pulling the keys out of his pocket.

“Amsterdam, here we come…..”

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Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 137: Chase’s Own Words

Sunday, August 20

“Just think guys – tonight, we’ll be heading off to Amsterdam set for the time of our lives,” Ryan comments as they reach the court house doors together.

“Can we just go there now and forget this?” Sarina questions as Ryan holds the door open for her and Chase.

“I wish….” Ryan then follows them inside. “If we could get away with doing that, I would do it in a heartbeat.” If there wasn’t a piece of a paper and e-mail requesting Chase’s appearance, he knew that he’d be following Ryan’s request. “By the way, what happens if you don’t show up today by chance?”

“Unless I’m in a hospital or a jail cell, and can provide a note backing that up, I would be deemed in being in contempt of court,” Chase starts, causing a confused glance from Ryan. “An arrest warrant would be put out for my arrest, and I would go to jail for a minimum of 30 days, to a maximum of five years per Florida law. That was included in the package sent to me, by the way.”

“So maybe it’s a good thing we did listen, huh?” Chase nods his head as they enter the court room. “Although, if he went to jail, that’d free up a lot of things that we could just do togeth-”

“I heard that, Blaney!” Ryan laughs as Sarina just rolls her eyes.

“If he was sitting in a jail cell, then you’d be going on your own because I’d be trying to get his ass out,” Sarina informs him. “And by the way, there’s no way you’d survive this trip alone. You need someone to help your ass back to the hotel after the drinks…” Chase could only smile in response as he sat down, with his friends on either side of him.

“You do realize that I could’ve taken a lot of other friends other than you both?” Chase and Sarina then look over at Ryan, surprised.

“Then why don’t you call them up? I mean, you’re cutting in on the time that we’ve got alone together…” The smile on Chase’s face widened as Ryan tried to find the right words to say.

“You’re not going to win this argument,” Chase comments as he wraps an arm around Sarina’s shoulders for support, knowing she’d stiffen up as soon as her brother entered. There was also a mix of thoughts already based on the possibilities of the psychiatrist’s findings. “

“Please don’t tell me the whole trip is going to be this way….” Ryan begs as Chase just gives him a wink. Ryan went to say something, though stopped as he watched the clerk walk in and stand before the judge’s desk.

“All rise!” The clerk states, as they all rise together. As he did the same time they were in the court room, Chase clutches Sarina’s hand tightly with his own, keeping her held close as he watches them bring Chris into the room. Chase catches the glance that Chris throws his way with a smirk, and Chase focuses on giving him the most stone cold look he could muster in reply.

“And you’re worried about me….” Sarina whispers, catching Chase’s reaction immediately.

“I’m fine,” Chase replies. “He’s not bothering me in anyway. I’m just sending him a message.” Ryan could only chuckle at the thought.

“Chase a big tough guy?” He questions. “Nobody would ever believe that….” Chase then glances over at Ryan.

“Once we get outside, I’ll show you just how tough I can be when I kick your ass.” Sarina then took her turn glancing over, eyes in surprise.

“Oh really? We’ll just have to wait and see…”

“YouTube Gold!” Sarina lets out, perhaps a little louder than intended as a couple eyes look her way. She immediately looks down, cheeks turning red, as the boys quietly chuckle. “Of course you’d both get me in shit…”

“This is going to be a great week,” Ryan comments.

“Judge Reynolds preceding!” The clerk announces as the doors open for the judge enter.

“So what’s the charge for telling the judge he’s a jackass for ruining our vacation plans?” Chase and Sarina both chuckle again.

“When you go up there, you should steal his gavel,” Sarina adds as Chase chuckles a little louder.

“I thought your goal was to keep me out of jail,” he comments as she shrugs her shoulders.

“It’s only a criminal offense if you get caught, right?” He looks over surprised as Ryan just smiles.

“And my only thought was just to tell him what we thought of him, and here goes the lady with the greatest suggestion of all-time,” Ryan comments as Sarina glances at Chase with a smile.

“I have his seal of approval,” she says as Chase rolls his eyes.

“You obviously don’t know what you’re in for this week,” he says, though had to admit it was probably going to be an amazing experience.

“Please be seated,” the judge states, as they all sit down together, trying to hide their smiles and giggles from the discussion. “We begin with the findings of our court psychiatrist, Dr. Hugh Greenfield.” The psychiatrist walks to the front of the room, taking his spot in the witness box. Chase had quietly crossed his fingers, hoping for the answer that they needed to hear to move forward.  “Did you evaluate the defendant, Chris Dryer, as requested by the courts?”

“I did, your honor,” the psychiatrist answers – as expected. Sarina just wanted to see the questioning move ahead.

“Can you speak to the defendant’s state of mind, please?” Chase took a deep breath, fingers still crossed, also perhaps trying to cross his toes in his shoes.

“I found the defendant, Chris Dryer, to have a complete sane mind as the next individual. He answered everything clearly. When we spoke of the case and events, he showed signs of trying to act insane – but none of those were matched with actual insanity. The suspicion that he may try to use it as a cover-up and not be is very found.” Sarina smiles as it was nice to hear a psychiatrist confirm what everybody had said for months.

“So, to continue with the trial and have him go to jail would be correct according to the theory?” Chase knew the answer to come, and couldn’t help but glance towards Chris to see if he was disappointed.

“Yes, indeed. There is nothing that should stop that process.” Sarina and Chase squeeze each other’s hands a little tighter in approval.

“Thank you. You may step down.” The psychiatrist then leaves the stand as Chase takes a deep breath. He knew what was next. “Now, we can carry the trial forward, as originally planned. Second witness, please…”

“We would like to call Chase Elliott to the stand please,” the attorney states as Sarina reaches over, giving him a quick kiss.

“Just tell it as it happened and tell the truth, and it’ll work out,” she tells him. “I love you.” He smiles, slowly letting go of her hand.

“Love you, too,” he replies before making his way to the front. Sitting down in the witness box, he takes a deep breath. He should be in a comfy t-shirt and shorts right now on a plane headed to Ambersterdam, not sitting in a box in a suit. Maybe stealing the gavel was a good idea…

“Do you swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?” The clerk asks as Chase holds his hand up, focusing back on the trial. If he had to tell the truth, maybe he should tell the judge what he thinks of this vacation ruining plans….

“I do,” he simply replies, eyes focused forward as he didn’t even want to look at the judge right now. He watches as the attorney stands up, walking over to begin her questioning. He could easily smack the attorney instead of the judge; the attorney was the one who issued the subpoena, after all.

“Mr. Elliott, can you take us back to that night in July, please?” The attorney asks as Chase thinks it over, wondering where he should begin.

“I got done the race – crappy finish.” He could only think about how the end of the race didn’t go his way, thanks to Michael McDowell being his usual douche self. He still wanted to kill Michael for the tweet, too. “I talked it over with my team, before heading into the hauler – I normally chill out a bit, before flying home. I grabbed a bottle of juice from the fridge, began to drink it as I laid in the lounge. The symptoms started to come over me, and I remember thinking of calling the guys. Alan showed up, and called upon the crew guys, and they got Greg and the medics. I was then taken to hospital with poisoning.”

“Let the record show that it was same poisons used for all the previous cases, even those in which Mr. Dryer has pled guilty, too.” Chase knew the connection was enough to create suspicion. Now when combined with Chris’ history with Chase, the charges were eventually laid. “The bottle came from the fridge into the team hauler. Can you explain the connection to the defendant?”

“I filled it with juice and brought it from my motorhome to the trailer on Friday, as I usually do at the beginning of the weekend so I have a drink there if I want. Chris had access to everything in the motorhome as he was staying there with myself and Sarina, and well, everybody else was getting poisoned by him, so it just makes sense.” He knew how that came across, and knew there was a 50/50 shot at the jury believing him right now. It was worth the chance, though.

“You have a history with Chris, though….” Chase nods his head, knowing that he could never forget their previous encounters.

“That’s why this is not a surprise to me, and why we connected the dots immediately. I mean, he pushed me down the bleachers at the Winterdown Showdown, and messed with my plane twice.” The attorney crosses her arms.

“Why wasn’t he convicted either time, then?” Chase smiles, as he glances over at Chris, glad the games were up.

“Because they found him to be insane, therefore requiring mental help rather than going to jail – when meanwhile, he was just making it seem that way. I mean, he even told me that in California. He told me before he pushed me that he knew he’d get caught, but it was okay because they’ll just take him to the hospital and try to fix him, failing like they have every other time.” Chase knew he could never forget those words as they were spoken to him, or the tone that Chris had decided to use that day, either. It was why he never forgave him despite the strides made with Sarina, and why he began to keep an eye on him. Too bad he hadn’t kept a better eye out….

“Thank you.” Chase’s eyes immediately focus over to Chris’ lawyer, knowing the series of questions were about to come flying and obviously, they were supposed to throw him off his game.

However, he was ready for it. Like Sarina said, he just needed to speak the truth.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 136: NRA Bristol Night Race 500

Saturday, August 19 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Still feeling stressed about what happened, Sarina changed into a pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt, grabbing her phone and a pair of headphones before going outside.

She didn’t know what route she was going to take, but having been to Bristol many times, she knew different ways to leave the motorcoach area, get a good size jog in, before returning back without getting lost.

She chooses her route, before bringing up her list of ultimate Demi Lovato songs, placing the head phones in, and beginning.

No matter what it seemed Chase, Marcus or anybody said, she couldn’t get rid of the disappointment from Wednesday.

She strived on winning and always put focus on producing the best results possible. For her coming up through the ranks, it was all about perfection – finding every little mistake and making sure to fix it immediately so it never happened again. If she had made any mistakes, they always cut her at the core as if she wasn’t supposed to do those. It was what made her so strong because you rarely saw her make one behind the wheel of her late model, putting herself in a position to be there when it counted.

Maybe she pushed for perfection there because nowhere else in her life were things even close to perfect.

She couldn’t help but think about her brother in the midst of everything. How could things have gotten this twisted? Why wasn’t something done sooner? Why weren’t the attempts to help him ever working? Why couldn’t she let go of the last bit of her that wanted to reach out, hold him and help him, even with everything he had done?

She wanted the blame his faults simply on their father’s death, but that would be wrong. Daddy wasn’t to blame as this started before his death – it was actually partially why he died.

Stopping for a moment, she reaches up and wipes away the stray tear, feeling every bit of her missing her father. She wished she could hug him just one more time. She wished he could tell her a story, give her a kiss, or say something to make everything better like he would. She even partially hoped he could put the family back together.

There was nothing wrong about living in North Carolina and truthfully, she enjoyed the company. Never could she ever complain about Chase as he was everything she’d describe – even if he denied it. She also loved Kyle and Samantha, having grown close to both of them so far in her time at KBM. She even liked Brexton, which was strange as she never got along with kids usually. She also loved her team and even Chase’s guys – no matter how much they may annoy her at times. Then there was Ryan – he was not such a bad guy, even if he was a pranking genius.

She knew that in hindsight, she could be thankful for where she had gotten in her life, thankful for those around her, and thankful for how she had turned every negative into a positive. But yet, taking a deep breath, she couldn’t help but look back at times.

Unlike Bethany told her, she’d never forget her journey. It was what fueled her to push even harder moving forward. Perhaps that’s why defeats like Wednesday were so hard to accept.

Beginning to turn around and head back, she immediately smiles upon listening to the lyrics.

And we walk together into the light, and my love will be your armor tonight,” are sung from the song at random. “We are lionhearts, and we stand together facing a war, and our love is gonna conquer it all. We are lionhearts.”

She knew even in the darkest of doubts, she was never alone as Chase was always there to comfort her, give her advice, and even try and shoo away those feelings from a rough night. Sometimes, she had to admit – she didn’t know what she’d do without him now.

Feeling her stress leave her and odd sense of relaxation with each step of the jog, his words began to set in more and more. She had done her best behind the wheel, and made no mistakes herself as a driver. She was also a rookie and certainly learning was part of the experience. She also knew the doubts in the team and sponsor needed to run away as he was right, nobody showed signs of giving up yet.

As Kyle told her back at the beginning of the year, she needed to enjoy the moment, live it up, learn and do her best – rather than rest all the pressure on the results. Reaching the motorcoach lot, perhaps it was time she really begun to let those words sink in.

“Sarina?!?” She hears, pulling the one side out as she glances around the corner. She then smiles, as she sees Kyle there. “It is you!”

“Who else would you be expecting?” She wonders as Kyle just shakes his head, while keeping an eye on the dog.

“Look, you better get your ass in your motorcoach and tell your boy where you’ve been. He sent me a couple paniced text messages when he woke up alone.” Sarina then looks on surprised, as she pulls her phone out of her pocket. She wanted to curse herself, having missed those notifications while lost in her thoughts and music.

“Oh shit! I thought he would’ve stayed asleep….” Kyle then chuckles as he keeps an eye on her.

“On race morning? Are you sure you know that boy, well?” She then curses herself, again, knowing that Kyle was right. Even though the race wasn’t until 7 o’ clock that night, he’d be up on cloud nine excitement.

“Sorry about him bugging you…” Kyle waves it off as she carries forward.

She hurries to the motorcoach, entering the four key numbers before inserting the key and going inside. She makes her way quickly to back of the bus, where she finds him sitting up in bed, phone in hand. He instantly looks up as she enters the room, surprise written on his face.

“You went for a jog?” He questions, noticing the sweat and outfit, and she can only nod her head. “Why didn’t you leave a note or anything?” She then sits on the edge of the bed, slipping her shoes off. She knew she needed a good shower now.

“I didn’t think you’d wake up before I got back,” she answers as he rolls his eyes.

“It’s race morning. What else do you think?” She then lets out a sigh, remembering Kyle’s words, slightly chuckling. “What?”

“Kyle just said the same thing…” Chase then kicks the blankets off, crawling to the front of the bed where she sat.

“I don’t mean to be worried or if I’m being a little paranoi-”

“Chase, I get it…” She then looks back at him. “I understand the worry and fear and everything. I mean, the last time we got separated alone at a track, look what happened. I can understand that going through your mind and affecting you, even though you say it was no big deal. Kyle gets it, too, as he knows how much you care about me. I’m sorry for worrying. I should’ve left a note.” He then picks up her phone, eyes still focused back on hers.

“And what about this?” She lets out a sigh, switching the screen to her playlist.

“I was lost in the lyrics and my thoughts. I didn’t realize it was a text notification. I’m sorry…” He then lets out a sigh as he sets the phone back down.

“It’s okay. I’m not upset. I’m just….” He runs his hands through his hair as he flops back on the bed. “I can’t describe how empty and worried I was when I woke up and saw the other half of the bed empty. It was an odd feeling…which is strange…” She could only smile in response.

“Some people would call that love, Chase. Others would say it’s reasonable and psychological reaction to what you’ve been through. I’m going to say a bit of both.” He then sits back up.

“So I’m not insane for lighting Kyle’s phone up when you didn’t answer me within 30 seconds of sending a message?” She laughs and shakes her head. “Okay, that makes me feel better.”

“I’ll make sure to leave you a note, okay?” He nods his head. “Now, I’m going to grab a shower before we head out…”

“Good idea. You’re all stinky and sweaty.” She then puts her face within inches of his.

“But I bet you’d still kiss and cuddle me…” He smiles, leaning in for a kiss.

“I can never deny that.” She laughs as she gives him a kiss back, before heading to the bathroom. Chase grabs his phone off the night stand, checking a couple left over text messages, before glancing at his e-mails. There was one from the attorney in Florida, which caught his attention immediately as he opened it up. “Ugh!!!! Are you kidding me?!?” He wanted to chuck a pillow across the room in response.

He immediately found himself texting Ryan, seeing if a slight change in the travel plans was able to accommodated for. Ryan, knowing they had no choice in the matter, easily accepted, sending Chase back a slightly revised schedule. Chase glanced over it, making an adjustment of his own, before returning back to his friend.

“Of course this would happen,” he comments to himself as he sends an e-mail back to the attorney, before setting his phone back down on the night stand.

“What would happen?” Sarina questions, having returned from her shower. She kept it real quick, wanting to make sure she got a good bite to eat with Chase before they began their rounds.

“We’re not leaving to go to Amsterdam now until late Sunday night rather than tomorrow morning.” She then looks at him confused.

“Weather delay? Or for some reason did our flight get moved?” Chase shakes his head as he could only wish it was one of those reasons.

“The attorney texted me. The psychiatrist is done his evaluation on his brother, as requested by the lawyer. The judge would like the findings to be heard in court. At the same time, your brother’s dear lawyer said we don’t need to be wasting time in regards to the trial as if Chris is innocent, he shouldn’t be stuc-”

“He pled guilty to poisoning four other people….” Chase nods his head, clearly remembering that.

“But the psychiatrist findings may clear him of jail time due to insanity.” Sarina rolls her eyes, knowing the games that Chris pulled to make them think he was crazy. He had already done it twice. “So therefore the lawyer wanted it move up immediately. The only reason we have been delaying is due to my schedule. Since there’s no racing on Sunday and an opening at the court house, request was processed to move up the next hearing.” Sarina could already see where this was headed.

“….and since the judge just so happens to be such a great person and love us so much that everything has gone against us in his power so far, he just so happened to agree?” Chase nods his head.

“Not only are we going to hear from the psychiatrist before we leave, but I also have to file my testimony as the request was filed for the next witness to stand, too, by the same said judge – which is obviously me. So my final thoughts before flying off to another country are going to be this case.” Sarina could only shake her head in annoyance and laugh.

“Why am I surprised anymore, really?” Chase shrugs his shoulder.

“Thankfully, Ryan was able to re-book our flights without extra charge or problem. So once we’re done, we can say goodbye and forget everything…” Sarina simply nods her head in response. “Sarina?”

“It’s my brother, so naturally, I want to tell myself it’s my faul-”

“Sarina, what have I said about tha-”

“Chase, I know what you’ve said!” She then takes a calming deep breath as she places her hands on the small dresser. “I remember your words. My brain is telling me those words over and over, but my heart is not believing it. My heart keeps saying otherwise because of the fact it was my heart that reached out and cared for him.” Chase stands up, walking over, placing a hand on each of her shoulders.

“You know, I don’t ever hold that against you. I told why that was still okay. Your heart wanted to last for the past, for the love, for the good moments, for that family bon-”

“Chase, I know. You don’t need to repeat it, again. I just need to make my brain the primary focus on that so it can cut that feeling off…” Chase nods his head, accepting, as he rubs her shoulders.

“Well, whatever you need, whether it be someone to talk to, advice to hear, a shoulder to cry on – I’m here, always.” She nods her head, knowing that with certainty now.

“I have to admit – those hands on my shoulders feel pretty good right now…” He then smiles as he rubs a little more deeper.

“You seem a little tensed up….” She then smiles, knowing that was obvious. “Are you taking advantage of the situation to get a shoulder massage?” She then glances over her shoulder back at him.

“Is that a problem, Mr. Elliott?” He smiles, continuing to rub her shoulders.

“Never….”

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

Chase leans against the car on his grid, set to get the night started. He needed a distraction as he didn’t want to think about the trial anymore than he had to.

He knew it was simple as going in there tomorrow, saying what happened, and leaving without any more to do. However, he couldn’t help but feel the butterflies.

“So of course you had to go and mess up the perfect travel plans….” Ryan says as he walks over, catching Chase’s attention.

“Do you really think I wanted to do that?” Chase questions as Ryan joins him, leaning against the car. “I mean, I’d rather do anything than sit in a court room with that guy, or talk about him for that matter.”

“Now you know how I felt…” Chase nods his head. “And trust me, I’m not upset one bit. I get it and it’s fine. I mean, we’re still going to have a spectacular time away.” Chase couldn’t help but agree based on what they had planned.

“Think we can keep outta trouble for a week?” Ryan laughs as he looks at Chase with surprise.

“I thought we were supposed to get into trouble?” Chase rolls his eyes. “Really, though, there’s one worry that I have – your girlfriend.” Chase then looks over suddenly, surprised.

“What about Sarina has you nervous or worried?” Chase almost felt like kicking Ryan’s ass in the moment, too.

“I can’t sleep with that girl in the roo-”

“You did when we were in Florid-”

“Do you know the nightmares that I have?” Chase then looks on confused. “From the condoms in the bed, to hearing Barney sing over and over to the point my ears bleed.” Chase could only laugh with a smile, as he knew exactly where the comments were coming from.

“So let’s just forget that you messed with her macaroni, and you also gave her a donut which was really broccoli underneath the powder.” Ryan smiles, proud of what he had accomplished so far.

“Dude, she set me up on a date with a robot!” Chase couldn’t help but laugh, remembering Ryan’s reaction.

“For one, I can’t believe you fell for that. For two, she just felt bad for you. She thought you were lonely and needed compa-”

“So then why did she kick my ass at cards?” Chase shakes his head, no answer in mind.

“Because she’s damn good to the point that I can’t even beat her.” Ryan knew that was true.

“All I’m saying is that I have a right to be nervous.” Chase nodded his head.

“But that goes both ways, and she still agreed to come on the trip with us. I mean, she knows she’s got something coming after the robot. As long as you don’t strike, maybe she’ll let you off scott free all trip.” Ryan then laughs as he rubs his hands together.

“Not so fast, buddy boy. Don’t think you’re getting your girl out of my hands that quickly. She’s got a couple tricks coming…” Chase could only roll his eyes and wonder as what those were.

“Just promise me that you’ll keep it in good taste and not hurt her? I don’t want to have to kick your ass!” Ryan then takes a couple steps back.

“Are you becoming protective over her? I mean, are you that deep in love?” Chase smiles as he glances up pit road where she was talking to Samantha and Brexton. “Oh my gosh, I never thought I’d see the day….”

“She’s pretty amazing, Ryan. How could I not fall head over heels?” Ryan smiles.

“And let’s just remember how nervous you were to even say hi to her, and how you needed a pair of wingman to kick off the conversation.” Chase laughs, remembering that afternoon.

“But did you have fun?” Ryan couldn’t deny that as he continued smiling. “And by the way, I didn’t say it then because you didn’t deserve it – but thank you.” Chase then turns around, noticing she was headed their way. “Now, don’t you have a place to be, like your own car?”

“I guess. Good luck!”

“Same to you, buddy…” Ryan then heads off as Chase watches Sarina walk back his way, just smiling. They had certainly come a long way in a couple short years.

Ultimately, he wished the race would’ve gone in a way to make him smile as much as he was in that moment. He had started off strong, running up front and laying down good lap times – till Harvick ruined that, getting into him, turning him around. Instead of getting a nice solid top-10 or maybe even contending for the win, he ended up 18th.

So far, things weren’t starting off as planned…..

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 135: Couple of Doubts…

Friday, August 18 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Chase lies there, pulling Sarina closer as he lets outs a sigh. He knew that Wednesday night still lingered on her mind, and he wanted to comfort her. He also didn’t feel like moving, even with practice time soon, as he was perfectly comfortable.

Though hearing a knock on the door, Chase rolls over and lets out a sigh. There was no sleeping in now…

“Are you kidding me?” Sarina questions out loud as she kicks the blanket off. Chase just smiles as he looks over.

“Go back to sleep,” he tells her, throwing the blanket back over her as he stands up. “It’s my parents. They probably just got in town. Get some sleep, and then come out later when you’re ready.” She smiles as she sits up, watching him get dressed quickly.

“Are you sure?” He nods his head.

“I can handle them…”

“Thank you!” She then flops back in the bed, pulling his pillow close as she curls up once again.

With another knock on the door, Chase makes his way out of the bedsroom, slipping the door closed before walking to the door. He opens it, immediately smiling.

“Did we wake you?” Bill questions as he and Cindy enter the motorcoach, each giving him a hug.

“I was awake – just hadn’t moved yet,” he answers, following up inside. He then makes his way into the small kitchen, pulling out the orange juice. “Sarina and I were up late watching movies so I was taking advantage of the time. She’s still sleeping…” The parents both sit on the couch, eyes focused on Chase.

“So what did you two kids do yesterday?” Cindy wonders, and Chase wasn’t surprised by the question. With nothing happening on track and not wanting to travel back for a single night, the pair agreed to take in the town with a fun afternoon.

“We found some great parks and caves to check out, so it paid off for a great afternoon of biking and running. We then spent some time at the lake, chilling and talking, before heading back here to enjoy a quiet night in.”

“Sounds relaxing,” Bill comments and Chase nods his head as he leans back against the counter.

“It was needed,” Chase adds. “She was pretty frustrated with how things played out Wednesday night…” Cindy looks at him with raised eyebrows.

“Like when you’d get frustrated and pick apart every single detail, frustrated?” Chase nods his head as Bill just smiles. “Now you get to see what we dealt with…” Chase just rolls his eyes.

“Thanks a lot, Dad.” Bill crosses his arms, remembering some of those nights.

“Let me guess – lots of pressure on her to win with the playoffs and a short track, and yet that was thrown away because of a crew member’s mistake?” Chase nods his head. “So obviously that ate at her big time. Did you tell her that sometimes that happens, you can’t take it back, she did what she cou-”

“I gave her every liner that you could use in that situation, but you know yourself – it doesn’t replace that feeling. That’s why I figured a day away would be perfect to forget it.” Chase then smiles as he thinks to the upcoming week. “That’s why I feel this trip is coming at the perfect time, too.”

“Are you sure you guys should be going away at this time?” Cindy questions, catching his attention. “You guys are knee-deep in legal messes with the trials, and we just got through everything that happened. If that was me, I would be wanting to relax and lay low for once.” Chase knew it was simply his mother’s worry speaking.

“Actually, I’m the exact opposite,” Chase informs her. “I’m open to having that perfect distraction, something else to think about for a week without a single thought. It’s a way to clear my mind of everything and just be free for once since it all started, you know? Plus, it’s almost like a reset for both Sarina and myself – Ryan, too – in regards to racing because we’re just escaping everything.” Cindy understood where he was coming from, but still felt nervous about everything.

“But are you absolutely certain that you’ll be safe, careful and nothing will happen?” Chase nods his head, remembering extra discussion spent with Ryan.

“Ryan and I have put certain things in place with where we’re going, and we’re always going to be watching our backs. Mom, you don’t need to worry – we’ll be fine.”

“You’ll call every day, though?” Chase could only smile as he walks over, giving her a hug.

“If it makes you feel better, then I will make sure to call…” He then puts his shoes on. “Practice is in a half hour. I better head to the trailer before Alan sends a search party.”

“I’ll come,” Bill comments, chuckling.

“I got to go catch up with Ingrid and a couple others so I’ll meet back up with you later, okay?” Cindy says and Bill nods his head, accepting.

Chase quickly pops in the back, letting Sarina know that he was heading out for practice. She promised that she’d come out for the second session, once she got a shower and some breakfast this time around –  but made sure to wish him the best of luck.

He then heads out, beginning the short walk to the garage area with his father.

“You know your mother was just pushing you because she worries, right?” Bill asks and Chase nods his head.

“Hence why I tried to be assuring and gave in to the promise,” Chase answers as Bill smiles. They then round the corner, as Bill finds himself back on a thought for a week ago.

“Chase, when you told me what happened with Casey, why did you just want to keep it between us? Why not tell your mother?” Chase thinks it over, debating the best way to express the reasons.

“It was almost surreal, and sometimes I find myself questioning whether it really happened, or it was just my imagination; maybe it was my conscious speaking to me. It took a lot to bring myself to tell you, yet alone anyone else. I just don’t feel comfortable talking about it more, or having everybody knowing.” Bill nods his head, accepting and understanding.

“That’s fine…” Chase then pauses, looking towards his father.

“I mean, is that okay with you? If you really want to tell her, then I guess you cou-”

“No, it’s fine this time, really. I get it. You wanted to say it out in the open to one person to test what you were thinking, but not tell everybody because of the doubts. It’s okay the way it is. I just asked because you normally share everything with both of us.” Chase nods his head, knowing that was always the case – there was no secrets with his parents.

“I appreciate that, really.” He then heads into the hauler, set to change into his firesuit, as Bill remains outside, waiting. It was time to focus on what was to come that day….

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

Leaning against the NAPA Chevrolet, Chase was pleased with how the first practice had gone, having ended up 11th on the board. It was certainly not near the top where he wanted to be, but the car felt pretty good so they were certainly making process. With another hour of practice to come, he believed that they could get the last little details ironed out.

“Well, well, the princess shows her face,” Chase hears, glancing towards Josh as he points back towards the other end of the stall. Chase smiles as he watches Sarina walk over.

“Nice of you to finally come out and say hi,” Chase comments as Sarina rolls her eyes.

“Not everybody is a sweet dear morning person like you,” she replies as Chase just smiles.

“I could’ve made you get up this morning….” She then lets out an aggravated sigh as she leans back against the car beside him. “You seem grumpier than normal, though…”

“Why would that surprise you? I mean, you were here Wednesday right?” Chase lets out a sigh, having believed that was the last thought on her mind after the day they spent away from the track yesterday. Besides, normally, a couple days removed, you began to put things in perspective and move forward.

“What is it going to take to get you out of that funk?” She shrugs her shoulders. “We talked about this Wednesday night. You did what you needed to do. It’s not your fault that they made a mistake. You’ve still got Canadian Tire Motors-”

“I have no road course experience, Ell-”

“Hey, I won there. Now that has to say something as I’m no road course expert, right?” Sarina just rolls her eyes. “Besides, Christopher won there before. He can give you some advice…”

“That’s if I can catch the guy to begin with!” Chase wraps an arm around her shoulders. He could understand where she was coming from in having to live up to the results of all-star teammates.

“What did we talk about Wednesday, too? Some drivers, it takes time for them to come into their own before their hit everything out of the park. I mean, Christopher will even tell you that based on last year. So why are we sitting here comparing ourselves again? What are we supposed to focus on?” She lets out a sigh, still annoyed.

“Focusing on bettering ourselves, improving with each run out there, and doing the best that we can.” He nods his head as he squeezes her shoulder.

“Just do that at CTMP and do that at Chicagoland, and where the chips fall, they fall. If you make the playoffs, it’s a bonus for you as a rookie. If you don’t, then focus on making the most out of the last seven races so you can come back stronger next year.” She wanted to believe in those words, but there were doubts about her future – as always.

“What if I’m not back at KBM next year?” Chase then looks at her, surprised.

“Kyle and Samantha adore you. I see no reason that they’d drop you based on the solid performances that you’ve put together this year, Sarina.” She rolls her eyes.

“Right, and what about the sponsor? What if they don’t retur-”

“They love you, as well. Why do you think they brag about you constantly? Why do you think they sponsored your late model program?” He takes a deep breath, trying to resist the urge of flipping out on her. It frustrated him to no end to see this self-doubt. “For once, believe in yourself, please. Believe in yourself. Believe in everything around you. Believe in what you’ve worked for, earned, and the fact that it’s not going to be stripped away this time. It’s going to pay off…” His words hit home, hitting her doubts right in the middle – she was afraid due to having seen everything continually fall apart in her life, one piece at a time.

“You really believe that?” He nods his head.

“Absolutely without a doubt.” She smiles as she leans in, and kisses his cheek.

“You’re amazing. Thank you…” He smiles as he keeps her held close.

“No, you’re amazing. I’m just blessed with the fact that you finally accepted my offer.” She laughs, remembering how many times she turned down his request.

“I don’t know what I was thinking then….” He could only smile, glad that they were at this point where they could joke about that now. With her, it was baby steps in the relationship, and he was glad to continue taking those each day.

“I don’t know what you were thinking accepting the offer, though,” Nick O’Dell chimes in, receiving a middle finger from Chase, causing laughs throughout the stall. “I mean, can you really handle this guy? He’s quite the character…”

“You should hear what she tells me at night when you’re sleeping,” Chase comments, causing a couple surprised glances from everybody.

“Now now, no bedsroom tal-”

“I didn’t mean that one bit!” He then laughs, realizing how his comment came across. “I totally didn’t mean it that way. Oh my gosh…” His cheeks immediately go a bright shade of red as laughter erupts around them.

“So what are we missing at night, guys?” Josh questions as he leans over the roof, peeping in between them, with a glance either way.

“That I’m the most amazing, perfect, sweet guy that she’s ever met,” Chase brags as the guys begin rolling their eyes and laughing. “What?”

“Please Sarina, do us all a favor – do not fill his head with these stories. I’ll have to get Jordan to get a bigger helmet for his head if you do that.”  A couple guys laugh as Chase just rolls his eyes.

“Relax Josh – he keeps assuring me that I’m lying and he’s just some ordinary guy,” Sarina says as Chase receives a couple surprised glances.

“I’m just an ordinary guy who appreciates the opportunity he gets to go fast every week,” he comments.

“Down to earth, sweet, amazing – actually, Sarina may be onto something,” Alan says from his perch. “I guess that’s why we put up with you. But guess what? It’s time to say goodbye to the girl and get your ass ready to go make some more laps. We have a job to do, right?” Chase gives him a thumbs up, before looking over at Sarina.

“See you after practice?” She nods her head, snagging a kiss, before walking out of the stall to go on top of the hauler.

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

Chase climbs out of the car following qualifying, smiling. Fourth wasn’t too shabby at all. It was better than they practiced all day, and he could certainly do a lot from there tomorrow night.

“Nice job!” Sarina says as she gives him a big hug. “Now, want to hear some even bigger news?” Chase then looks at her surprised, intrigued what could be more important in this moment. “They arrested Bethany in Florida. She’s being transported back up to Indiana as we speak.”

“Really?” He questions and Sarina nods her head, showing him the message from the detective. “Step 3 in our plan to take back our lives is complete.”

“But can they make the charges stick?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, not sure. He knew that depended on what Allison had to say.

“We’ll see…” He then pulls her close to him. “But for now, we’re not going to worry about Bethany, Chris, or Allison. We’re going to enjoy this darling weekend, taking in the XFINITY race together, enjoying another movie together, before having a thrilling race night tomorrow. And then we’re off on a world vacation…”

“I can’t wait!”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 71: Reflections and Regrets

Wednesday

Chase walks out to the back balcony, taking a deep breath, as he glances out into the backyard.

With everything that he’d been through, he knew there wasn’t a day that went by where he was just thankful to be standing there. Sure, there were tough times with emotions and trying to sort through everything in his mind, but he knew he had to be blessed to simply get a chance to keep trying.

He also knew that things could’ve been much worse. He could’ve been unable to walk, move freely, do things all by himself. He also possibly could’ve been facing the same physical challenges that Alyssa was facing, and yet making look so easy all the same. But yet, all limbs were working in proper order having avoided the talked about effects that could’ve lingered.

As he closes his eyes, he immediately drifts back to just a couple months ago, that fateful day in the Hendrick Motorsports parking lot. How did he know a normal office day would inherently flip his life upside down and leave him still struggling with how to cope moving forward? It was unbelievable how much the simple words written on a page could affect you mentally, and transcend you into a journey that almost felt surreal at times – but he knew it was real.

He could still feel those emotions of worry, heartbreak, panic. Taking a deep breath, he was almost brought back to that feeling once again as he thought it over, gripping the banister more with his fingers.  Taking a deep breath, he quietly reminds himself that is in the past, everything worked out, and he doesn’t need to worry no more as Alyssa turned out fine.

Looking out to the yard, his mind wanted to focus on how nice of an evening it was, the peacefulness of the sunset over the clouds, and the colors that seamlessly lit up the sky – but that wasn’t on the cards.

Reclosing his eyes, he remembered sitting in the Hendrick Motorsports shop about a half hour after finding that very same piece of paper. The conference room was set to be a place of trading ideas, focusing on performance, continuing to improve. Though admittedly, since that day, it also held the reminder of that same fear once again.

He remembered the panic in his own mind, but also the panic and worry written on the faces of her parents. It was one thing for him to hear the news, but he knew that’d never equal the worry that parents felt at the thought of their baby going missing or being hurt.

Taking a shaky deep breath, he remembered the guilt that entered his mind at the time, too, fearing that Demi was behind everything as she had just finished her sentence. Almost laughing to himself, how could he had known at the time that she would’ve been the catalyst to beginning to find the truth? He never did say thank you, but that wasn’t deserved considering what she had done previously, either.

His clammy hands once again, finding the banister, he remembered the blame that he placed on his shoulders – feeling if he had of been there, things would’ve been different. Why hadn’t he been the protective boyfriend? Why wasn’t he always looking over her shoulder in knowing what was possible? Gripping even more, he remembered how he completely broke down in the room that day, tears streaming down his face, body giving in, unable to move and open to the first bit of comfort offered – thanks to Jeff, that day.

“Breathe,” he reminds himself as he slowly opens his eyes, releasing the grip he held on the piece of wood. He had to remember what he had learned since then – you can’t stop everything, you can’t live a sheltered life, and sometimes there’s crap that happens out of your control.

He could do everything that he needed to do in trying to protect her – but that never would seem right as having someone control and watch over your every move is not living. It’s why you were forced to take chances, and just hope it worked out in the end. Reminding himself of her smile, how she was moving forward, it was certainly working out bit by bit.

It was the same way running out of gas in the middle of nowhere brought fear to your mind, and being approached in the dark by a figure you didn’t recognize could drive your fear up a wall. However, that worked out as it gave him a chance to question Demi and truly see where she was coming from. It didn’t offer re-assurance at the time as there was no way he could believe what she was saying, but it was an attempt at least.

There were also those pesky packages. It was truly a game that he didn’t want to play, but in a way, he thanked Randy for those now. They were at least reminders and assurances that Alyssa was okay, still hanging on – allowing him to have some sort of hope to cling onto.

Closing his eyes, he could still picture Kevin Meendering walking up the driveway to the porch where he and Dale sat, dropping a brown square box between the pair that had shown up at JR Motorsports over night. He remembered the words being spoken around him being a blur as his eyes and motions focused solely on the box, ripping it apart, in hopes of any sign.

His fingers once again clang the banister even more as everything played in his head like a movie – remembering the one photo that was now stored forever in his mind of a bulky man dragging her across the floor. He remembered how vulnerable she looked, how in control he looked, and how the mind field just opened up in that moment.

He had been in Randy’s finger tips before. He knew how manipulative he could be. He also knew how forceful he could be. He also knew the man’s strength, thanks to some bouts between them. in an instant, his mind had flipped, danger alarms going off as he knew there was no way his precious girl could withstand what Randy was set to throw her way.

“You don’t control me….” He repeats out loud to himself, shifting through the series of emotions that always lingered with the simple mention of that man’s name. How could he let someone play him like that, over and over? How could he let that man tear into every weakness that he had? How could he play the roulette games? “You may have won at times, but I won the war. You’re dead now and you can’t hurt me….”

Forcefully opening his eyes and letting go of the banister, he tries to focus on the beautiful sunset once again. It was almost completely over, but it was something to take his mind off of what he was thinking. Taking a series of deep breaths, he tried to bring himself back to focus on reality and not on the past, knowing that he couldn’t travel those emotions anymore.

How could you move forward if you could only think about giving control of yourself to a stranger?

“Chase?” He hears, causing him to freeze instantly as he glances back at the sliding door. He smiles as he sees the familiar blue eyes, smile, and brown hair that he had come to adore and love over the years. “I was looking for you….” She walks out on to the porch, sliding the door shut behind her as she joins him by the balcony. “Are you okay?” He simply nods his head.

“I was just enjoying the sunset,” he lies, not wanting to fill her in on the flood of emotions that he was currently going through. That would just bring another discussion, which he wasn’t open to having right now – even if he knew he should based on last night’s conversation.

“It is beautiful….” He then wraps an arm around her, trying to black out every thought that had just flooded through his mind. “We should go to the beach one night. I heard they’re even more stunning as they reflect off the water and you lay in the sand.”

“Just name the day and I’ll be there…” She smiles as she lays her head on his shoulder.

“Now, are you going to tell me the truth?” He then turns suddenly, causing her head to come off her shoulder in an instant. “I saw your little panic, and talking to yourself. I saw how you were in your own little world. Chase, you can’t tell me you just came out here to look at the sky.”

“It is beautifu-”

“Chase…..” He takes a deep breath, knowing he couldn’t lie to her no matter how much he tried.

“I’m working on trying. I’m working on pushing myself. I was having some thoughts of what we went through this summer together so I came out here to reflect.” She then looks at him, surprised. This was supposed to be comforting….

“All by yourself?” He nods his head.

“I’m a big boy….” She knew that, and wanted to give him space, but she also had reservations.

“And what if your emotions got to be too much for you? What if you went into a panic? What if you did something stupid? There’s a reason why they say you should have a friend at these times.” He lets out a sigh, knowing that she was right, no matter how he tried to avoid that. Maybe it would’ve caused him to not attempt to rip the balcony apart. “Chase, talk to me, please….”

“Are you sure you’re ready to hear the darkest thoughts that I had?” Alyssa felt a lump form in her throat, but immediately it made it disappear. She knew how badly he needed to do this, and a door of opportunity wasn’t allowed to be shut.

“Absolutely. I’ve faced what I felt in what happened and I know how to deal with it – besides what I told you last night. I’m ready for this, always. I told you – I’m here for you to help you finish that climb…” He nods his head, remembering that discussion clearly.

“I was just thinking back to the first package that we received from Randy and his helper. I remembered the photos, and the note. There’s one image that I can’t ever erase from my mind, either – him dragging you across the floor, obviously taking you to where he was going to hold you. It reminded me of everything – how he manipulated me, hurt me, controlled me – and I just felt my heart tear into two realizing you were going through that. I felt the worst of fear in knowing how strong he was and wonde-”

“There’s no denying how strong he was – I won’t let you go on that thought. But trust me, you had nothing to worry overboard about. I kept wits about me and worked through seeing every step of the game that he wanted to play. I kept asking the questions, saving the strength for those moments, and knowing that in a game of survival, I had to do what I had to do.” He smiles, wishing he had the same confidence she empowered when he first crossed paths with Randy.

“You certainly did quite the job, too. I remember that….” She smiles as she nods her head.

“What else is there, Chase?” Chase takes a deep breath, as he glances out into the distance once again, letting himself transcend back to that world.

“The second package showed up at the airport by my car. I had gone on a flying exercise, thinking I could cover more ground and find you that way. We got back and there was the package. I was so angry beyond belief at that point. How could someone drop a package in a public place and not get caught? How could they know exactly how to do this? Why was the officer I was with being such a ditz? I actually told him I was going to get his ass fired that day for being such an asshole.” Alyssa then looks over, surprised.

“Seriously?” He nods his head, remembering his words to Dale.

“He went from asking me questions he shouldn’t while flying, to not seeing the package drop off. I told him he was a complete failure at his job and I wanted his boss’ number right away.” Alyssa couldn’t help but be surprised.

“Did you actually follow through with that threat?” Chase glances over, with a smile. “Didn’t think so….”

“Reality sunk in that maybe I was just over paranoid and worried and taking it out on him so I got him transferred off of being my security guard so I didn’t have to deal with him, at least.” Alyssa nods her head, figuring that was a decent compromise.

“I remember Randy discussing those packages and how he wanted them to be pictured a certain way, delivered a certain way, and a certain perception. He was so particular on the shots that he wanted and how he wanted them to be angled with me in certain locations and poses. He kept telling her to take a lot, and this angle then, and package them this way. He was driven by the obsession over that…” Chase nods his head, knowing that’d be right up Randy’s alley. It was how he played the game.

“Mind games. That’s half the battle with him, and I’ll be damned but it worked. I remember that second package clearly…” Chase closes his eyes as he glances down, gripping the banister once again.

“Chase?” Alyssa places her hands on top of his, rubbing them slightly, as she tries to see where his mind was going.

“I remember those images….those thoughts….the fear….” He feels tears coming to his eyes, stinging him, as he fights against letting them go. “I remember what I thought I saw, and what I asked Dale. I just…can’t…..there’s no way to get that image out of my head…”

“Whatever it was that he made you picture, it didn’t happen Chase. He just held me there in bounds, giving me some water here and there, waiting for the right time to contact you…” Chase knew that now having discussed the events that took place. However, that didn’t take away from the feeling in the moment.

“I know….” He then takes a shaky deep breath, as a tear trickles down his face. “But that moment, seeing that photo of you bound that way to the table, his hand rubbing your cheek….” The tears begin to trickle down as he tries to take another deep breath. “I was so scared and afraid and wondering what could’ve been going on. I pictured so many things, and the one thing I wish I could never picture again….” Alyssa could fill in the blanks without words, as she kept her hands firmly placed on top of his.

“It’s the same as when we woke up in the hospital, and I thought Kasandra had raped you because of the screams and the lights. Chase, I get it. I understand those emotions, and it’s okay, you couldn’t have known. But please, please know, that none of that happened – I swear. I would’ve told you immediately.” He takes a couple deep breathes as he reaches up to wipe a couple stray tears away.

“I know….” He then looks over at her. “It’s just, I love you so much and I never want to ever see you get hurt. It’s one thing to be hurt, but it’s another to be violated, mistrusted, misused, and have something like that happen. The thought just sickens me…”

“I know – it made me sick to my stomach, too. But remember – it didn’t happen, right?” He nods his head. “So let’s just try and erase that image, thought out of our minds and be thankful that we got away with what we did.” He nods his head as he leans in, lightly kissing her lips. “I love you, Chase.”

“I love you, too. I’ve always loved you.” He then pulls her close, as he lets out a sigh.

Taking a deep breath, clutching onto her tighter, he knew no matter what he did, the image would probably never ever leave his mind. It was why he held on to her tighter at night, and why he found himself watching over her shoulder at times.

Sometimes, he wished he could just wipe his memory clean…

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 134: Her Trial and Those Nerves….

Wednesday, August 17 – Indianapolis, Indiana

Chase thins out the creases in his shirt once again, as he lets out a sigh. He wished he was in Bristol right now, but instead he had this to deal with.

“Thanks for coming,” he comments with a glance at his parents as they walk towards the court room doors.

“We’ve always got your back,” Cindy says as she follows him inside. “We would’ve been here whether you asked or not.” Chase smiles, knowing that was true. He just wished Sarina was there too, but she was in Bristol getting ready for practice.

“My phone is turned on silent. I told Sarina I’d text her updates, as long as she let me know how practice went. Hopefully, we’re out of here quickly…” He had already planned to fly to Bristol that night and be there for the truck race, no matter what. He wanted to be there to support his girl.

He heard from her the discussion with Kyle, followed by the extended meeting at Kyle Busch Motorsports on Monday. Everybody knew her short track pedigree and how she could master any track just like that – it was why she was so good behind the wheel of a late model. She also already had laps at Bristol with a late model and ran well. Now knowing the pressure to make the playoffs was picking up, it was now or never to win – and this was the best opportunity looking at the stretch of races.

He had comforted her as much as he could, assuring her that she had the ability to get the job done, but also to relax and just do her thing and it’d pan out right. He also texted Kyle that it may be a good idea to calm off a little as pressure wasn’t needed necessary right now with everything else going on.

Though now being in Indiana set for the first day of another trial spell, he wished with all of his might that he was in Bristol right now by her side, supporting her. Why couldn’t they done this a day before or a day later?

“There he is….” Chase hears, recognizing the voice – Eddie D’Hondt – as he enters the court room, instantly glancing over with a surprise as he sees the whole team sitting there.

“What are you guys doing here?” He questions as the team looks towards the boss. Alan was supposed to mention that they were going to be attending.

“She set up a bomb to blow all of our asses up,” Alan starts. “We’re in this as much as you, so we wanted to make sure and be here. We have to make sure she pays for what she did.” Chase admired the crew’s reasoning, but still felt bad for taking them away from focusing on things in the shop. He knew things were crazy right now at Hendrick with making sure he qualified for the playoffs, and were ready when they started.

“You guys are already working crazy hours, and now you’re putting in flight time and time away from your families, the team that you don’t need to be doing.”

“This is coming from the same guy that said we stick together no matter what and have each other’s back, right?” Jared Seate questions. “No matter what you say, Chase, we felt the need and right to be here. What if – Never mind, I don’t want to picture that happening. But still…” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that Jared was right in his words – seeing the bit of fear the guys felt in the moment. It was another byproduct of the decision he made….

“Well, I appreciate you being here regardless, and don’t worry – she’s not getting away with this.” Chase then takes his seat, with his parents sitting on either side of him, as he quickly sends a good luck text to Sarina, knowing practice is about to start.

“All rise!” The clerk then states, causing Chase to focus his attention forward as he stands up. “The honorable Judge Mansions preceding!” The female judge walks in, taking her seat on the podium as Chase focuses his eyes on her. He wanted to read her, see whether she was someone that had sympathy or would lay down every ounce of the law in a second.

“You may be seated,” she states, as everyone in the room sits down. “Except for Ms. Alison Stevenson…” Alison remains standing, glancing over at Chase with a wink and smile, before looking back forward. Chase could only roll his eyes, and feel a bit of vomit rising at that thought. “We’re simply here to see how you plead to the charges, which seems to be a decent list. I am going to go through them and you will simply say guilty or not guilty, understood?”

“Yes ma’am,” Allison replies as Chase keeps his eyes locked forward, not wanting to take another glance at her.

“On the charge of attempted murder in a public place including over 100 people, how do you plead?” Everybody knew that charge surrounded the bomb that went off in the garage, as some of the crew guys still shivered at the thought. Jared couldn’t stop himself from asking the what if question, either.

“Guilty.” A series of gasps in surprise can be heard throughout the room in response to the charge as Chase glances back at the crew guys surprised. Perhaps this was going to be easier than expected….

“On the charge of poisoning Mr. Chase Elliott, how do you plead?” Chase sits back, closing his eyes as he wishes he could forget how sick he felt that afternoon, and continued to question why he let her play him and not do something sooner.

“Guilty.” Chase was once again surprised, but not willing to argue. It was nice to see everything going to plan.

“On the charge of kidnapping Mr. Elliott, how do you plead?” It was intriguing to hear those words used, given that Chase had voluntarily followed her helper to that location. However, he also did recall being held there against will with the door locked. There was also the fact the state attorney promised she was going to try and catch Allison on every charge possible.

“Not guilty – he came voluntarily.” Chase lets out a sigh, having expected an answer of that magnitude. However, he wasn’t going to worry about it. There was enough years with the other two charges combined.

“Your honor, my client has pled guilty to both charges due to being forced to follow orders from another female in this equation,” Allison’s lawyer speaks up, catching Chase’s attention as a smile forms. There was no question who that other party was, either.

“A plea deal was offered for the informatio-” The attorney starts, which Chase recalled the phone call conversation.

“My client should not serve any time for her wrongdoings simply due to how she was forced by another individual!” Laughter escaped people in the room in response to that, casing the judge to hit her hammer to quiet them down.

“Your honor, she caused Mr. Elliott to be hospitalized almost for a full week, knocked out for almost a whole day. She also caused fear among any person standing in the garage that weekend, which reached the 100s, but more specifically the entire team that works with Mr. Elliott. Just because someone was forced, she shouldn’t be allowed to escape every charge.” There were people who were almost set to cheer at the rebuttal, though stopped themselves as they saw the hammer being raised again.

“Any outbursts from here on out and you will be kicked out of my court room, possibly held in contempt of court,” Judge Mansions says, causing a frozen appearance to go over the room. “A trial will be held to determine whether a sentence should be levied against, and to what extent. We will begin with Allison Stevenson stating what she did, and why, before going from that point with whatever else is felt necessary. Jury or no jury? Media block or none?”

“We would like to keep the media out of this due to being a high profile case,” the attorney states, which Chase had his fingers crossed for. There was going to be enough for a mess caused by the Chris trial in Florida.

“Once again – special treatment for celebrity status?” The lawyer questions. “And we would like a jury, please.”

“The request for a media block has been denied as being high profile, the public does deserve re-assurance,” Judge Mansions says, as Chase lets out a sigh. It was going to be a media mess in the garage for a good bit. “Jury selection will be done, and then we will begin as stated. Has the individual responsible for the threats been arrested?”

“The paperwork is currently being processed as we speak,” the attorney reveals as Chase could only shakes his head. He knew that Bethany would be going into hiding with the thought of being captured – that or expediting whatever plan she had been cooking up in her meetings with Chris. Either way, he immediately found his fingers typing away on his phone quietly to Sarina with an update, including a fair stern warning.

“Thank you. Court adjourned!”

Everybody immediately files out of the court room as Chase glances at the time, figuring out in his head when they’d land in Bristol. Perhaps he’d actually get there in time for qualifying now.

“Surprised by her confession?” Bill questions, catching Chase’s attention as they walk out of the court room.

“Not one bit – Sarina and I figured there was a connection,” Chase answers, remembering their conversation. He also remembered another conversation with Sarina in the timing of the photo being sent, along with a comment traded. “She’s been dropping hints to Sarina for awhile now. It was how Sarina got her hands on the photo that weekend…”

“So she was going to use Allison to break you two up?” Chase nods his head, remembering the comment that Sarina mentioned from Bethany.

“On the first day of Chris’ trial when I wasn’t able to be there, Bethany mentioned something about how I may get bored or annoyed, and stray from her. That very same day was when I first encountered Allison at the Hooter’s Pageant.” Bill shakes his head in disbelief as they reach the car.

“At least Sarina was smart and listened to you and trusted you….” Chase nods his head as he climbs in the car. Though letting out a sigh, he couldn’t let it escape him that it took some convincing from a third party as she was almost set to run away.  “Did she do well in practice?” Chase glances at the results, knowing right away that his dad was trying to get his mind off of what happened.

“Fourth quickest. The boss was first with Bell third. They’ve got some quick trucks…..”

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

With both practices in the books, Sarina found herself leaning against the truck, awaiting for qualifying to begin. She kept glancing at her watch, checking the time, remembering the latest text from Chase – he was supposed to be on his way. She couldn’t help but glance towards the gates to see whether he was walking through them. She knew within five minutes of the session, the gates would close and he would be stuck on the outside until the session was over.

Crossing her fingers, she wanted to see her man before then.

She was trying not to be nervous, but she couldn’t help but remember the words chance to win, playoffs, short track queen, your wheel house that had been repeated by crew members, Marcus, Kyle, and the media entering the day. It was like everybody expected her to come in, run well, and battle Kyle for the win – just like her late model short track days.

Nobody understood the difference between the trucks and late models, it seemed. Nobody understood that she was a rookie still trying to learn. Nobody understood that pressure would drive her insane.

“Surprise!” She hears as a pair of arms wrap around her waist, instantly pulling her close. She immediately smiles as she recognized the voice and feeling right away. It was like every bit of anxiety she was feeling escaped immediately, too.

“Thank you….” She then spins around, facing him, wrapping her arms around him.

“Did you really need me that badly?” She nods her head as he keeps her held close.

“You wouldn’t believe the questions in the media center….” He then steps back, looking at her surprised. He could only connect those questions to everything going on with Chris and Allison. “Everybody just assumes that I’m going to be in contention to win because I know short tracks, and it’s Kyle Busch Motorsports equipment. Like, I didn’t need to hear that. I can do that enough myself!” Chase then pulls her back close, running his hands up and down her back.

“Take a deep breath, relax….” He then pauses, looking into her eyes. “What did we talk about this week? What have we talked about every time something like this comes up?” She closes her eyes, remembering their conversations.

“Take a deep breath, relax, be calm, forget the outside world, focus on myself, and just do my thing because no matter what, it’ll play out how it is supposed to.” He nods his head as he pulls her back close, rubbing her back once again.

“Don’t let it eat at you. Your belief in yourself is all you need. Just focus on that, Marcus and everything will work out. You’ve had a great rookie season, showing improvement every week. Just keep doing that, and you’ll eventually get to where everybody thinks you should be. They keep forgetting that you’re just fresh out of late models, and it’s not just going to come to you. Not everybody is a William Byron.”  She then glances at him.

“….or a Chase Elliot-”

“Hey now, I made some costly mistakes when I first moved up, too, and tore up some equipment. I wasn’t no angel by any means.” She shrugs her shoulders, not too sure about that, as she remembered always hearing amazing things. “Look at Joey Logano, though. Look at Truex. Look at Keselowski. Heck, look at your car owner or even Bell. Those guys took time to come into their own. Bell had a bunch of horrendous moments last year, but came into his own as the year closed. Kyle got sent from one team to another due to how he was. It’ll come…”

“I hope you’re rig-”

“I know I’m right. Just believe, okay?” She nods her head as she lays it on his shoulder. “So, we were right about Allison….” She smiles immediately.

“I’m just glad that she had the courage to say something. But to not want any jail time at all?” She then stands straight up, staring at Chase in the eyes. “Are you sure she’s not actually insane?” Chase laughs.

“Hey now, I never said that she wasn’t, either. We saw what she did….” Sarina nods her head. “Regardless, it feels good that we’ve got them on all angles. See, things are starting to work out…”

“It’s a start, I guess…” He then rubs her shoulders once again.

“Believe in yourself – you’re going to have a great night, and the rest of stuff will fall into place. If it makes you feel better, think about the vacation coming up….” She smiles, remembering that discussion. She wasn’t absolutely certain about doing a vacation alongside Ryan, given the fear with what pranks may come, but she was ready to get away and have some fun for a couple weeks.

“What are you most excited for – Amsterdam, Germany, or the Belgium Grand Prix?” Chase thinks it over, remembering the planning that he and Ryan broke down earlier in the week together in places to hit up. It had already been an almost disaster trying to get passes to go to the Formula 1 event, but it paid off to have connections – thanks Jeff!

“Amsterdam looks like it’s going to be amazing with all the places that Ryan has figured out.” Sarina just shakes her head.

“You boys are just excited to try the different beers…” He then chuckles, shrugging his shoulders. He couldn’t deny it…

“It’s going to be a good time regardless, right?” She then rolls her eyes, already figuring she’d be babysitting them at one point. “What about you?”

“I actually can’t wait to go to the Belgium Grand Prix, to be honest. I’m always for exploring different forms of racing, and I’ve never been to a Formula 1 event. I’m ready to get up close and personal for a change.” Chase then thinks things over, pondering some thoughts…

“Maybe we can get the chance for you to sit in a car.” Her eyes open wide immediately and Chase makes a mental note to get a hold of Jeff or maybe Tony to see if he could pull that favor off, too. “I said maybe…strong maybe. I mean, I don’t know them. It’s going to take some convincing…”

“Have I told you today that you’re perfect and amazing?” He just rolls his eyes as she kisses his lips. “I got to go qualify. We’ll get back to these plans later, okay?” He nods his head as she heads off. He could only smile seeing the hop in her step, knowing their conversation had been perfect.

Now they just needed the bubbly attitude to carry them through the night….

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

Chase cautiously walks back to the garage area, seeing Sarina climb out of the truck, throwing her gloves back in frustrated. She then takes her helmet off, setting it down lightly – she never threw that no matter her anger due to how she cherished it – before letting out a sigh. She grabbed the bottle of water left on the truck by Marcus, downing the entire bottle, before chucking it across the pit area.

The race had started out well as she had started fourth, running up front right there with Kyle and Christopher. However, near the end of the second stage, she suffered a pit road penalty – crew member over the wall too soon – which set her back in the field. She pushed as hard as she could to make up the lost ground, ending up 15th.

Chase cautiously walks over, slowly wrapping his arms around her, as he lays her head on her shoulder. If it had been anybody except him, he knew she would’ve snapped around and chopped their head off. But being that it was him, she actually laid back into his arms a little.

“You did what you had to do,” he starts. “It’s not your fault that you got the penalty. It’s not your fault that you finished where you did. You did what you needed to do, and that’s all you can ask as a driver.” She sighs, knowing that he was right – no matter how angry she was.

“How could they not get that they jumped over the wall too soon?” She questions as Chase had to shrug his shoulders. He remembered instantly cursing on the pit box when he heard the call.

“They’re always trying to get that advantage of being as quick as possible. The one guy just timed it a little wrong…” She wanted to scream, possibly snap the head off of that crew member, but she knew that wouldn’t solve anything.

“I so badly wanted to do well. I so badly wanted to be up there in the top-five. I so badly wanted to win…”

“I know, and you did exactly what you needed to do. It sucks, but that’s racing and shit happens. These guys have done a great job all year. I bet that crew member feels worse than you do right now. You guys have a couple more races – you can make the playoffs. Just take a deep breath, and put your best foot forward as you can do this.” He then kisses her cheek.

“Thank you…” He nods his head as he lets her go, letting her walk up into the hauler to change as he lets out a sigh.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 70: My Confession

Tuesday night

Alyssa takes a deep breath as she emerges from the bathroom, fixing her pajama shorts once again. She had to smile at her choice of attire – one of Chase’s old tops, along with her favorite pink Winnie the Pooh shorts.

Though glancing towards the room, taking another deep breath, her mind was mixed with a tirade of thoughts. Was this the right time? Was she freaking out over nothing? Was this even worth a conversation? Should she wait until he was closer to being ready? What if she tripped another episode? Though pausing in her own thoughts, she remembered the conversations shared with her parents.

She had to do this.

She slowly walks into the bedsroom, smiling as she glances over at him already cuddled in the bed. She throws her laundry in the hamper, before cuddling up beside him. She felt her breath hitch in her throat as she debated speaking.

“Chase, can we talk?” She questions, catching his attention.

“Of course,” he answers, eyes focused on her blue ones. There was no time that he’d deny having a conversation with her.

“I want to go back to Sunday sitting in the hau-”

“I told you that your words didn’t affect my deci-”

“Chase, please, hear me out.” He then stops, watching her curiously, as she focuses on keeping herself calm. She had to do this now, or else reap the consequences later. “There was a reason I said what I said. There was a reason why I suggested you not go test, not move forward.  There was a reason why I, in a sense I suppose, stopped you.”

“Because you were concerned about me and knew my feelings better than I knew them myself?” Alyssa wished it was that simple as she shook her head. That would be a much shorter conversation than what they were about to have.

“No, because of my own feelings. I’m a racecar driver. Racing isn’t supposed to scare me. Racing is supposed to fuel me further, push me beyond my limits. I am supposed to live off that adrenaline. Heck, for me getting back in that car that day at Hickory, that’s what it was all about. I never thought something that I’ve been around my whole life could scare me…” She then glances up from the bed, looking into his eyes. “I’m afraid.”

“Of something happening to you?” She shakes her head, once again; if that was the case, why would she had agreed to Steve’s wacko plan that just so happened to work? “Of something happening to me?” She nods her head.

“As soon as the thought about you racing hits me, it creates this big burst of fear inside me. I’m afraid of something happening. I’m afraid of you getting caught up in a wreck. I’m afraid of something strange happening. I’m afraid of….losing….you, I suppose…” Chase pulls her close as tight as he can, feeling her body shaking with a couple tears.

“What have I told you? You’re never going to lose me, ever. I’m always going to be right here by your side, for the rest of your life. I’m always going to have your back and be here to care for you. We’re never going to be apart from each other, ever.” She nods her head, remembering that discussion in the hospital as she looks up into his eyes.

“I know. I know you’ve told me that a hundred times. But, it just nags at me….”

“I can’t blame it, though. You’ve lost family due to racing, and we’ve been through a lot together. I can see why. It’s the same reason I am anxious and paranoid about everything – due to everything.” She then keeps her head leaned against him as he rubs her back. “It’s okay to worry. I get it and I understand. I don’t know what I can say to change it, but I understand…”

“I told my mom what I was feeling. She said that she was feeling the same way when dad got back from Pitronia. She said it took some convincing from Steve, but she finally told him. He gave her some words of encouragement and made her believe it’d be okay.” Chase takes a deep breath, wishing he could pop out of the moment, ask Dale what those magic words were, and in return offer them to Alyssa.

“I don’t know what to say, though. I don’t know how to convince you otherwise. I don’t know what the magic words would be…” She had a feeling that would be his response, but that was okay, too. At least they were talking about it.

“Just promise me that I will not be the reason you decide to not do this, or wait it out, or whatever. I want you back racing on your terms when you’re ready and not doing it because of me.” He nods his head, accepting. “I think once we get back to that normal, we’re both racing and we get back into our groove together, I’ll fall out of this trance and be fine. But I will tell you – those first few races may be a little nervewacking.”

“That’s okay, I get it.” He then takes a deep breath, remembering his own feelings. “To be truthful, I think they’re going to be tougher than I imagined for me, too. There’s just so much that I didn’t realize until I was sitting in the trailer that day. I knew I had some emotional issues to still work through, but didn’t realize it till then.”

“So how do we get to that point where things are normal again?” He then thinks back, remembering his meeting with Tony.

“I spoke to Tony about it because he went through something similar, and he offered some advice. Take it one step at a time; do one little thing each time that you get a chance. Find comfort in each little thing, and then move forward to the next, but all while forcing yourself to face the challenge because deep down, you believe you can do it.” She felt sound on that advice, and felt that it was a good start.

“So, are you ready to do that?” He nods his head.

“Are you ready to face each challenge with me, pushing yourself to believe that it’ll be okay, and there’s nothing to worry about?” She glances up, and shrugs her shoulders. “You’re at least going to try, thou-”

“I can give you that much commitment.” She then closes her eyes, thinking back to another recent discussion. “Going to try…..”

“What are you thinking about?” She then sighs as she glances down at her right arm and hand.

“I have a doctor’s appointment coming up to check in about things with my hand…” Chase cringes, knowing that wasn’t the kindest of subjects between them. “You were there at the last appointment. It was clear that I wasn’t going to feel anything, and I still don’t – not even a twitch or pinch. Well, without feeling or circulation, it’s just going to wither.”

“I remember that…” She then takes a deep breath, thinking it through.

“It’s one thing to know that I can’t use it, but it’s another to realize that it’s about to just go missing. They’re just going to put me out, cut it off, and turn my arm into a stub at my elbow. It’s almost a shock, eye opener – I guess, a whole level that I can’t explain.” He rubs her shoulder, understanding.

“You’re feeling like you’re losing part of you that you wish you could keep forever….”  She nods her head.

“But recall, he mentioned there was some experimenting going on with electronics and signals from the brain at another hospital. On that note of going to try, what if I try that? What if I open the door of opportunity for hope and see how that plays out?” Chase knew it was a big possibility, and small chance of something happening, but it was worth a shot.

“I have your back no matter what you decide…” She smiles, already knowing that.

“I’ll make a deal. You try to get your ass back to where you need to be, emotionally and driving, and I’ll try to get my ass back to believing fully in you driving while giving this a try.” Chase looks at her, surprised. It wasn’t too bad of an offer.

“So in other words, use each other as motivation?” She nods her head.

“You’ve already made great progress. You haven’t freaked out in crowds as muc-”

“The pills take the edge of-”

“Chase, it’s still progress. It’s still something for you, even with the aid of medicine. But, those minor nerves in crowds are just small now, and you haven’t lashed out in discussion lately due to a panic. Oh, and you’re actually talking about your feelings with me and even Tony – rather than trying to bury them. That says something, right?”  He had to admit that she did have a point.

“I guess you’re right…”

“Like Tony said, one step at a time. You’ve been making great steps – halfway up that staircase. I believe that you can do it the rest of the way if you put your mind to it.” Chase takes a deep breath, knowing that she was right. It was just whether he was ready to bury up the last bit of hidden emotions.

“I’ll keep trying at least, okay?” She smiles and nods her head.

“Like you told me – that’s all I ask.” She then leans in and lightly kisses his lips.”Now, can we sleep like this?” He laughs as he grabs the blanket, throwing it over them both.

“I don’t see why not. I’m always comfortable in your arms.”