The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 132: A Freezing Halloween

Tuesday, October 30 – Charlotte, North Carolina

Ryan and Darrell had been standing at the end of the haunted house for a bit now, tapping their feet, now almost impatient as they waited for Chase to make his way through.

“Where is he?” Ryan questions with a sigh, even trying to take a peak back through the exit he should’ve used.

“It’s Chase we’re talking about,” Darrell starts. “He gets afraid by the smallest little scare…” Ryan lets out a sigh, knowing that was true. Hence why they always avoided scary movies.

“That’s why he has a dinosaur to protect him.” Darrell had to chuckle in response, though also noticed a bit of hesitation in his friend’s voice.

“What are you thinking?” Ryan wanted to shrug it off, but couldn’t virtue of his own previous experiences.

“Alison.” Darrell freezes immediately as he looks over surprised.

“You don’t thin-”

“She’s stalked him secretly before, she’s done everything imaginable. I wouldn’t put it past her to know that we’re here tonight.” Ryan then takes one more peak. “Screw it, I’m going looking.”

“Are you serious?” Ryan then makes his way through the exit, set to follow the halls back up through. “Wait for me!”

The pair make their way through the halls, ultimately catching the characters off guard who were questioning them going the wrong way.

“We lost something,” Ryan quickly pawned it off each time. “The manager said we could look through.” Each character simply nodded their head accepting, before retreating back to their hiding spot. Clearly, it hadn’t been the first time.

They had been going for awhile, before they noticed a wall slightly off, almost a secret door open.

“You don’t think, do you?” Darrell questions, and even before he was finished, Ryan was opening it the rest of the way.

“Shit!” The only words to escape Ryan’s mouth as he ran over right away, trying to find the break-open latch.

Stuck in a tall glass tube, they saw their best friend – with his dinosaur unfortunately deflated, shivering as cold ice and water came down over top of his head.

“Here it is!” Darrell then opens it immediately, which releases cold ice water on them right away.

“Chase?!?” Ryan questions as he gives him a pull out of the center, getting a shivering response.

“So…cold…” Chase managed quietly, shivering before them as he tried to wipe any bit of water away.

“Go get help!” Darrell gives a simple nod, pulling out his phone to dial 9-1-1 while running off to find someone. He wouldn’t mind that dead doll popping out for a change now. “Get your wet clothes off…” Ryan then helps pull the costume that Chase was wearing off, before throwing a roll of paper towel.

“How’d you know?” Ryan knew him standing there shivering with nothing on wouldn’t help, as he stripped out of his own costume next.

“You were taking too long.” He then hands him over the beast costume. “You need to get war-”

“What about yo-”

“I’m not the one that was just standing in ice water for who knows how long!” Chase easily instructs, slipping on the pants, before Ryan helps him out with the shirt. “Better?”

“Still…freezing…” Ryan could tell by the shivering that his legs were still really cold.

“Try dancing around.”  Chase tried to move around as much as he could, as Ryan tried to find anything that would help. “Damn it, hurry Bubba!”

“Wrap this around your legs,” a new voice chimes in, causing both to look over as Christopher Bell was standing there, dressed as Chef Boyardi, handing off the apron.

“Thank you,” Chase simply replied before doing as instructed.  “What are you doing here?”

“We came to check out the haunted house – just like you probably did,” Morgan Kemenah comments as Ryan could only chuckle at her cardboard noodle costume. “Keep wiggling your toes, keep moving your legs. That’ll get the blood flowing and help warm you up with the layers.”

“Put these gloves on and rub your legs too,” Christopher adds, handing over the oven mitts that went with his costume. “The friction should help.”

After what seemed like an eternity, the manager arrived over to them with some paramedics in toe. Despite assurances from Chase that he would be fine once he got some more warmth, he was sent with them to go get checked out at the hospital.

“You go with him,” Christopher instructs as he looks over at Ryan. “We’ll go pick up Sarina.”

“Okay,” Ryan replies, accepting. He would’ve preferred to tell Sarina himself, but also knew it’d be strange in sticking Chase and Christopher together. “Hey Christopher, be careful in telling her the news. Make sure that she knows he’s alright.”

“I got thi-”

“I mean it, Christopher. Make sure that she knows he’s alright and she doesn’t panic or freak or anything. Just make sure that she stays calm, please…” The repeated comments initially caught both Morgan and Christopher off-guard, but Christopher gave a nod of approval.

“I promise Ryan, I’ll be careful.”

It didn’t take Christopher long to reach where he had parked, with both him and Morgan set to head back to the Elliott household.

“Ryan repeated that a couple more time than necessary,” Morgan comments as she puts her belt on. “It’s almost like there’s a hidden mess-”

“Sarina is pregnant,” Christopher cuts her off, earning a surprised glance in return from Morgan. “I wanted to say something the other week myself to her about it, but I noticed that her firesuit was looking a little tighter around the stomach area.” He then pauses, realizing how that probably sounded saying it out loud. There was also a time that I stopped by to see her, that Chase had his hands resting very suspiciously there.”

“You’re going to need to warn him about that if they’re trying to keep it secret…” Christopher nods his head as they head out to the house. “And Christopher, I know what you were thinking. I’m not worried.” She then reaches over, placing her hand on top of his as it rested on the shifter. “I know you love me, and I love you with everything. I know that we have nothing to worry about with you doing something with her, or vise versa. So if you’re worried about that looking comment, it’s fine. You guys spend lots of time together as friends so it’s bound to happen.”

“I love you.” He then turns to her, giving her a kiss, before focusing his eyes on the road.

Tuesday, October 30 – Carolina Medical Center

Sarina walks into the room, walking over to Chase and wrapping both arms around him immediately.

“Are you okay?” She questions, earning a nod in response. “Are you sure?”

“I told them that I was fine there,” he answers. “But with these nice warm blankets, I am toasty right now. Every bit of feeling, warmth, whatever is back in my legs.” She then kisses his lips, feeling the blankets as she does so.

“Those are nice and toasty. Do you think we can get some for the trailer?” He smiles back in response.

“Anything for you, as always.” He then leans in for another kiss, which she obviously accepts.

“Did they say anything?” Christopher asks Ryan as the couple embraces.

“They’ve given him their seal of approval,” Ryan answers. “There doesn’t look to be any longing effects or anything, so I think we got there in the nick of time for that. They’re just keeping him for a couple hours to make sure nothing develops.”

“I got what you were saying when you repeated it twice…” Ryan then looks over, a bit of horror and surprise mixed together. “Relax, I won’t say anything, I promise.”

“They’re doing whatever they can to keep it a secret until the banquet.” Christopher looks back over at the pair cuddled up together.

“Well, just warn him about hand placement in the garage area. I mentioned to Morgan that I saw something suspicious a week ago, and combined with your repeated messages, I figured it out.” Ryan knew he would have to pass along the message in a timely fashion. “So that announcement about next yea-”

“Stay tuned. She’s going back racing once she has the baby in the new year.” Christopher smiles as he was looking forward to competing against her once again. “She’s like 15 weeks along.”

“Really?” Ryan nods his head. “So she was pregnant at Talladega. That’s why she was crying afterwards.” Ryan nods his head once again. “Well, I hope for the best as they deserve it.”

“Hey Christopher!” Chase says, getting his attention, before throwing the apron and gloves back at him. “The chef needs his apron and oven mitts if he’s going to get any baking done. But thank you, once again.”

“I’m glad that I could help,” Christopher replies. He then glances over at Ryan with a comment of his own in the mixing, as Ryan rolls his eyes. With a look back at the couple, he couldn’t hold it in. “I heard you were doing some baking of your own. Congrats on the bun in the oven.”

“You figured it out?!?” Chase questions, earning nods around the room.  “Thanks…”

“And be careful on your cuddles. I almost figured it out without Ryan’s help..” Chase looks over at Sarina, giving her a wink.

“I’ll try, but man, I can’t wait for this little baby to be here..” He then places his hand on her stomach as he had been doing so many times recently. “I still say it’s a little girl.”

“I don’t care, as long as he or she is healthy,” Sarina comments, placing her hand on top of his.

Wednesday, October 31 – Charlotte, North Carolina

Chase fixes the outfit once again on Max, taking a step back and giving himself a nod of approval.

“You look good Max,” he says, before giving the dog a treat for co-operating as he dressed him up.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Sarina questions from upstairs, earning the millionth eye roll of the day. “I mean, I think you should be relaxing.”

“I could say the same thing for you.” She then lets out a sigh, growing very tired of his repeated remarks.

“Meanwhile, I wasn’t the one in a hospital just last night because a crazy chick had attempted to freeze me alive while holding a gun to my face.” While Alison’s other attacks had left him with after thoughts for days, surprisingly he was moving forward very smoothly after last night’s events. It just further enhanced his rules about not entering haunted houses anymore, though.

“She also killed my dinosaur, remember…” He checked over his own appearance in the mirror. He had managed to get his hands on another Mario costume, though wasn’t able to find the one with Yoshi in time. “I think that’s a good thing, though. Max didn’t like the dinosaur.”

“Did the costume fit Max, by the way?” While he had spent the morning relaxing per Sarina’s orders, she ran to the store to grab his new costume, something for herself, and managed to get an outfit for the dog in the process.

“He looks great. Now, can I finally see your costume?” She then makes her way out of the bathroom, down the stairs, and stopping at the bottom with a smile.

“A Mario needs his Peach to save…” A smirk forms on his face immediately, as he wraps his arms around her, picking her up.

“No Bowser would ever kidnap this Peach.” He then kisses her lips, before slowly setting her back down on the ground.

“You may be my Georgia peach, but I am your Peach tonight.” He then gives her a wink in return, as she just chuckles with a smirk of her own. “I almost want this Halloween night to be at the end to see what you’re thinking.”

“I don’t know if you can handle all of this sexiness.” She then grabs the straps of the overalls, pulling him close.

“I’ve handled them before, and I plan to handle them again accordingly…” She then slowly kisses his lips, as she backs him against the wall. “I don’t know if you can handle everything that I want to give you.”

“I’m not complaining, ever….” A bark from Max cut their fun off as they both knew it meant someone was at the door. “You should’ve dressed Max up as Yoshi.”

“I looked but they were out of Yoshi dog costumes.”

They had been having a smooth evening, handing out candies to the various kids that stopped by. Although they had critiqued some of the outfits for going too far to themselves, they had to admire others as there were some cute princesses and monsters.

In-between handing out the candy, the pair were naturally spending their time in the living room, playing either Mario Kart or Super Mario Brothers. It was Max’s bark that alerted them to pause and hand out the candy, accordingly.

“Beat ya again!” Sarina lets out, having crossed the finish line first.

“That stupid shell,” Chase commented, as he had been leading until a green shell she threw hit him.

They then heard Max’s familiar bark, glancing at each other before both getting up and going to the door. Chase reached the door knob first, opening it, before having to look down at who was there.

“Here to save the day!” Brexton let out, before a classic superhero pose. Both Chase and Sarina chuckled in response.

“Is that so?” Sarina questions, earning a nod from Brexton. She then scoops him up in her arms.

“But whose going to save Brexton from Tickle Monster Mario?” Chase asks, before beginning to tickle him as Sarina kept a hold on him. The giggles immediately escaped from the little boy.

“Daddy…Mommy,” he lets out in between chuckles.

“Let him go!” Samantha and Kyle appear from their hiding spots, both dressed in superhero costumes as well. Chase stops immediately, as Sarina puts him down.

“My princess!” Brexton then gives Sarina a big hug, which she easily accepts.

“I think you lost your princess for the night now,” Kyle comments, earning a shrug of the shoulders from Chase. HE actually thought it was adorable in seeing the bond that Sarina had formed with Brexton this year, and it had him ready for moments like these with their own child one day.

“So I heard that you lost Yoshi last night,” Samantha adds, earning a nod from Chase as Kyle simply gives her a glance. “I’m glad you’re alright.”

“Just thankful that Ryan came looking when he did,” Chase says, before looking back over at Sarina and Brexton with a smile. “Say, what do you say for a treat?”

“Trick or Treat!” Brexton lets out, before going back outside to grab his bag off of the porch.

“That’s a lot of candy!” Chase then drops a couple chocolate bars in as he looks up with a smile.

“Thank you.” Brexton then gives him a hug, as well.

“Ready to go visit more houses?” Samantha asks and Brexton nods his head.

“Have fun!” Chase tells him, as Sarina offers one more hug for him before watching the Busch family leave together.  They stood on the porch together, with Chase wrapping an arm around Sarina’s back. “That’ll be us in a couple years. Are you ready?”

“I’m in charge of the costumes, right?” She questions, earning a chuckle from Chase.

“Do I trust you?” She then gives him a playful punch, which just increases the chuckling.

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 120: Federated Auto Parts 400

Friday, September 21 – Richmond Raceway

“Are you sure you’re up for watching the race tonight?” Chase questions after coming out of the motorcoach, changed into a t-shirt and jeans. With Dale back behind the wheel for a one-off, curiosity was peaked on tonight’s action. Besides, it wasn’t uncommon for Chase to take in the XFINITY race the day before from the stands.

“I told you earlier that the headache was gone,” Sarina answers as she walks over, wrapping her arms around him. “I’m fine. Are you okay?” He nods his head, having let everything go about the mess of the past week already.

After making sure they had their phones, and credentials – in case they met a pesky security guard, they made their way out to the grid for the pre-race ceremonies.

With Dale qualifying near the front, they made their way to the top of the grid to offer their pre-race tidbits. That didn’t bother Sarina, at all, as Dale had qualified second with Christopher on pole. She’d get to see Morgan as planned.

“Where’s the JR Nation mob I was expecting?” Chase questions as they walk up to Dale and Amy.

“Don’t jinx it,” Dale answers, wanting to keep it quiet as it was right now.

“She’s so adorable…” Sarina muses as she looks at Amy holding Isla.

“Have you sat her in the car, yet?” Chase wonders and Dale nods his head, getting Amy to bring up the photo on her phone. “That’s awesome. Now we just gotta hope that daddy remembers how to drive tonight.”

“So far, so good,” Dale offers, as he had been quick in practice, as well.

“Good luck, and have fun tonight – seriously. It’s nice to see you back, even if just for a one-off.” He offers a fist-pump.

“Good luck boss,” Sarina adds, offering a hug for Dale.

“Kelley is dropping the press release on Tuesday,” he whispers and Sarina simply nods her head. “She told me the news. Congratulations. I’m genuinely happy for both of you. That baby is going to change your lives more than you know it. Savor every moment of your pregnancy, the small moments, and time spent with the baby once born. Oh, and make sure he takes care of you or I’ll kick his ass for you.” Sarina chuckles, glancing over at Chase.

“He’s doing a good job so far, and thank you. That means a lot coming from you.”

They then separate, with Chase and Sarina continuing their walk to the front of the grid, as Sarina sneaks up behind Christopher.

“Hey!” Morgan freaks, just seeing the arms of someone wrapping around her boyfriend, combined with some long brown hair. She then freezes immediately, going into a chuckle as she realizes who it is. “The only girl that can ever get away with doing that.”

“Ah, so I can keep him?” Sarina questions, not letting go as Christopher laughs.

“Chase would probably kill me,” Christopher comments, casting a glance in Chase’s direction, which earned a simple nod in return. “It’s nice to see you, too.”

“I just wanted to come say congratulations on the pole, and go kick some ass tonight.” Sarina finally lets him go, before walking over to Morgan. “As for you, madam, all I can say is damn you look beautiful tonight.”

“Says the girl that is making a simple Chase Elliott t-shirt and jeans look sexy,” Morgan replies as Sarina just rolls her eyes. “I’m serious, girl. You got all the curves in the right places.”

“I guess I’ll accept that compliment and enjoy it.” Sarina then gives a wink in Chase’s direction, as he just smiles in return. They both knew everything would be popping soon. “I was wondering if you’re available on Tuesday. We were going to bridesmaid dress shopping.” Morgan looks over at Christopher.

“When are you racin-”

“Wednesday,” he offers as Morgan nods, knowing that he was running a sprint car race at some point this week.

“Then I’m free to go shop with my best friend.” Sarina smiles as that sealed the deal since she had already asked the others.

She even had to chuckle, knowing the announcement would drop while they were out shopping.

The race played out wonderfully, and had them on the edge of their seats throughout. The grandstands had erupted in a series of cheers, including from the couple, during the second stage with Dale taking the lead and looking poised to win. However, the final run would see an adjustment slightly off, with the car getting tight, as he faded a bit in the final laps.

As the No. 88 faded, it was Christopher Bell who capitalized, taking the lead before cruising away from the field to start the XFINITY Series playoffs with a trip to victory lane.

“That’s why he’s my pick for the championship,” Sarina said as they made their way back across the track into the infield.

“I still think it’d be cool for Elliott to win it in his final season finally,” Chase offers. “I also know that Justin has been really strong this year.” Sarina couldn’t argue with either of those choices, and they gave her confidence going forward in knowing both were JR Motorsports drivers.

“I hate to crush your dreams there, Chase….”

They make their way to victory lane, standing aside as Christopher takes a series of photos. When he got a break in-between shots, the pair walked over, with Sarina offering a hug as Chase gave him a high-five for the win. Sarina headed over to Morgan right after, giving her the same wrap around from behind treatment that she gave Christopher earlier that day.

“Say, I think you have a very kickass boyfriend,” Sarina offers, earning a chuckle from Morgan.

“I don’t think you boy is so bad though,” Morgan comments, and Sarina couldn’t argue with that as she glanced over to where Chase stood waiting for her. “You know, with the race being sponsored by GoBowling.com and knowing their mascot was a bowling pin, I was all set to steal the costume. However, the mascot isn’t here as they lost the costume at Watkins Glen.” A very wide grin forms on Sarina’s face immediately. “Seriously?”

“I snagged it from the guy for the after party at Chase’s house after he won.” Morgan lets out a sigh, though had to chuckle at great mind’s thinking alike.

“So much for my fantasies…” Sarina then looks over a little surprised at the confession. “What? I got to spice up our love life sometimes. You know he’s one for living on the edge.”

“Well, I apologize for bursting your bubble. For the record, my great reveal at the party ended up with Ryan pushing me in the pool to see if I’d float.” Morgan then immediately breaks out into a laugh. “I floated, by the way, and Chase had the fun of slowly stripping me out of the wet costume.”

“Well, you don’t have to worry as I have another idea in mind.” Morgan then pulls out her phone, loading a photo. “I already got it, and it’s hidden in the motorcoach. I just need to get it while he’s pre-occupied.”

“Are you serious?!?” Morgan nods her head as Sarina shakes her head.

“He’ll be stripping me down, and boom – look what he finds already inside me. He has the balls for my bowling pin.” Sarina had to chuckle at her comment.

“Well, I hope you have a striking good time.” She then offers another quick hug, before walking over as she joins Chase for the walk back. “I just learned something about Christopher and Morgan that I kind of wish I hadn’t.”

“Do I want to know?” Chase questions, and Sarina shakes her head no. “That bad?”

“Naughty Chase, very naughty,” Sarina answers as Chase simply pulls her closer.

“Well I can promise you that I can be just as naughty if need be…” Sarina then looks over intrigued.

“Challenge accepted.”

Saturday, September 21 – Richmond Raceway

Alison makes her way into the NASCAR credential office, smiling as she sees Laiken standing there with two other girls. She almost wished that she had taken Laiken and become her, knowing that’d give her all the access she could’ve dreamed of. However, that would’ve been a challenge. She had to go with someone less knowing to easily take their place.

“Britney, you made it!” Laiken lets out as she glances Alison’s way. “This is the last one.” Alison watches the NASCAR credential look up at her, before glancing down at the image on the card before her. She offers a simple nod, before handing it over.

“Thank you,” Alison says with a smile, giving her blond hair a wave, before looking over at Laiken. “It’s nice to see you again.”

“Absolutely.” Laiken then wraps her arm around Alison’s shoulder, causing a shiver to escape from Alison. Everything she wanted was so close and right there, yet so far away. “I’m just glad that you finally made it out to a race with us!”

“I couldn’t miss the last of the season.” Alison had done her research. Britney was supposed to have been at all the races the ladies were at this season, but couldn’t make it due to work and personal issues. As a result, this was her first race of the year. Unfortunately, it was the last event Hooters was sponsoring the No. 9 entry, making it the last full-out scheduled appearance for Hooters. That didn’t mean the girls wouldn’t be popping up for the rest of the playoffs, which suited Alison’s objectives. “Thankfully, I sorted everything out now so if there’s any events that they call you out for, I’m all set for joining you.”

“I can’t thank you enough for that as these two other girls – well, let’s just say that they’re sometimes too invested in other objectives.” Alison couldn’t help but smile, but her plan was working out better than planned. “You know Sidney and Alicia, right?”

“Yep, I remember them from the calendar launch party.” Once again, as part of her research, she knew Britney was in the calendar so she would’ve attended the party.

“Perfect. It always works better when everybody sort of knows each other.” Alison knew that would take a bit of practice, but she was ready to do whatever necessary to not be figured out.

“So what is the schedule for today anyway?” She knew it was good practice as one of these girls to know what they were scheduled to do over the weekend.

“Chase has a Q&A scheduled for 3pm. We’re scheduled to attend. Essentially, they told me that he may get me to help in answering questions, being Miss Hooters International of course, but we’re supposed to stand there and do what we do best. There may be some fans who ask for autographs and photos afterwards, so just bare with them patiently, please. I don’t need any complai-”

“Trust me, I promise to behave.” She at least promised that for this weekend as she needed to get a feel for everything. As she got the schedule down, and found the holes, she knew that’s when she’d pounce.

“Then we’ll head out to pit road for pre-race ceremonies, and do the obligatory photos by the car with Chase, and the representatives. There may be more fans looking for photos and autographs, and then we can relax and enjoy the race.”

“Sounds like an awesome day.”

The afternoon would go smoothly, as they attended the Q&A as scheduled. Alison couldn’t resist licking her lips when he walked into view, remembering how he tasted against hers. She just wanted to reach out, and touch him, remembering every single moment, craving for it to continue. But, she held stiff and just kept a close watch as he easily answered the questions at hand.

As it became evening, the trip was made out to pit road, and again all of those feelings were brought to the surface. She also felt anger rise in seeing Alan, Sarina and Jordan come over, knowing that she needed them all out of the way if she was going to play the game properly this time around. Smirking to herself, she had gotten rid of Britney and the doctor; it wouldn’t take much to dispose of more.

“So you’re going bridesmaid dress shopping on Tuesday while he’s testing?” She hears Alan question Sarina, feeling her anger raise as she lets out an aggravated sigh.

‘That’s the plan anyway,” Sarina replies as she leans back against the wall. “I am getting married in three months. I have to make sure everything is in order.”

“Just make sure you’re not pushing it.” She watches as Sarina rolls her eyes in return, wanting to roll her own. Alison knew It’d be nice to see Sarina out of the picture, and doing it herself by getting sick would make things easier.

Alison found herself back focused, following the directions set out by the photographers. They took an image with about 40 VIPs, who all wore the familiar Hooters lanyard. The group was then trickled down to just five of the guests, along with Chase, together.

The instruction was then made for Chase to pose with just the four Hooters girls. Alison tried to make it so she was on the other side of him, directly touching him, knowing that Laiken had taken the other side. However, Sidney got in there first, causing Alison to let out an aggravated sigh of frustration.

“Thank you,” the photographer says before walking away as they were done. Alison stands back, watching Sidney and Alicia each interact with him, before stepping back.

“It’s nice to see you again,” Laiken says, offering a hug. “Go get ‘em tonight and snag us another win, okay?” Chase nods his head, accepting. Laiken backs up, leaving Alison as the last one to get a turn.

“Good luck tonight,” Alison keeps her words simple, as she holds out her hand. She watches as he firmly shakes it, with a nod, resisting every urge to plant her lips against his right there in front of his fiancé. “I look forward to seeing you again in the future.”

“Absolutely,” Chase replies with, causing Alison to smirk even more. The beauty of being one of the track girls was setting in quickly.

“Being your first race Britney, you need to get a photo with him!” Laiken then lets out.

“Come here…” Alison wasn’t going to deny the offer, as she would never deny him what he wanted when it came to her. She immediately takes her spot right alongside him, appreciating the immediate touch to her back as she reaches around him, placing her arm carefully just above his butt. “Thanks for coming out.”

“Not a problem, Chase,” Alison replies, before strategically walking away with photo in hand.

The first part of her plan was complete. She was back in the circle and getting the time she needed, considered one of the track girls and no issues. Now it was time to keep stepping it up to what she wanted.

“Have you seen that girl before?” Alison hears Sarina ask as she walks away. She didn’t even take a glance back to see what the reaction was from Alan. “I don’t mind these girls as I get they have a job, and they’re simply here to do it. But I don’t know about that one.”

“Ah the irony in you not liking me already,” Alison muses to herself with a laugh.

Chase leans back against the car, satisfied as he looks over at Alan with a smile. They hadn’t led laps or done anything heroic, but a fourth-place finish felt like everything after struggling throughout practice.

“That’s what hard work brings you,” Alan offers, sharing a high-five with his driver. “I told you that I’d figure it out.”

“I don’t ever doubt your ability, Alan,” Chase assures him. “Keep doing what you’re doing, and we may have something here.”

“Next up – the roval!” Chase lets out a sigh, as his stomach flopped at the simple thought of that event. Everybody believed that he would be confident via his success at Watkin’s  Glen, but the test had left a bad taste in his mouth. “I don’t doubt your ability, either.”

“I know…” Chase takes a deep breath. “I just want to survive with a top-10 and move onto something that we know how to do. Look at it this way. I have tomorrow’s test at Kansas to get my mind off of it.”

Monday, September 24 – Kansas Speedway

Alan walks into the garage, caught off-guard as he sits Chase leaning against the pit box with a disgusted look on his face. He knew that testing sucked for drivers sometimes, and he wasn’t looking forward to the ROVAL, but this seemed out of place.

“Chase?” Alan says as he walks over, getting his driver’s attention. “What’s wrong?” Chase takes a deep breath, still not believing the words himself as he looked back towards his phone.

“Alison escaped the mental hospital,” Chase says quietly, as Alan immediately drops his jaw. “She had a doctor that helped her escape – Dr. Leons per the security camera. They found him dead in his office two hours after they realized she had escaped.”

“Any other clues left in the office?” Alan knew it was a long shot, remembering how clues weren’t Alison’s fortay.

“Dr. Leons didn’t have a single drop of paperwork pertaining to her in his office, and everything at the clinic is just usual stuff. They have no idea, like always.” Alan nods his head, slowly letting the news sink in.

“Chase, I know you’re worried, and I understand if you’re sca-”

“Alan, save the speech for someone who needs to hear it!” Alan was taken back by the attitude shown as he watches Chase runs his hands through his hair. “I’ve heard that speech from you so many times that I can recite every single word. I get it, I really do. Everybody is going to do what they can to keep me safe and I don’t need to worry. They’re even going to have someone watching me 24/7. We did all of that before and she still got to me, Alan, so I don’t need no speech of safety.”

“I was just trying to offer my support, that’s all. I know this is affecting you emotionally, so damn Chase, I’m offering a shoulder as always.” Chase looks over at the crew chief once again, finally.

“I appreciate that, honestly. I appreciate every bit of our friendship and how you’ve helped me. But I can handle this. Sure, I’m scared and worried a little. But I damn well can handle and take care of it this time.” Alan nods his head slowly, accepting. He wasn’t going to argue, but whether simply step in when the time was right.

“No secrets this time, either. you have to know that we’re to help you, and if she starts something, you can shar-”

“I don’t need a reminder, Alan. I know the mistakes that I made before. I don’t intend on making them again.” Alan nods his head once again.

“Have you told Sari-”

“I talked to her this morning. She promised me that’d be careful.” Chase closes his eyes, remembering the first fear he had upon hearing the message. He was worried that she’d be possibly kidnapped like she was the last time. “I suggested that she stay with Kyle and Samantha until I got home – just because, and she agreed if it made it easier on me to handle.”

“That’s good…” Alan then places a hand on his shoulder. “We’re going to get through this, like always. And Chase, you don’t need to pretend to be strong when you’re falling apart. It’s oka-”

“I’m fi-”

“I get it, I’m just telling you for the sake of saying it. The car is ready whenever you are.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 111: Southern 500

Saturday, September 1 – Darlington Raceway

Chase runs his hands through his hair as he stands on pit road, glancing over the No. 23 Chevrolet.

“Hey,” Sarina says as she walks up behind him, placing a hand on his shoulder. “There’s a lot of laps later this afternoon. You’ll be fine.” He wanted to believe her, but it still didn’t make him feel better. He was en route to a solid lap in qualifying, before the car snapped around and spun. With having to change the tires now, he was set to start back in 38th.

“At least I didn’t damage the car,” he offers as she rubs his shoulder.

“You’ll be fine….” She then glances out to the track. “She’s a nasty bitch, but you can put a whooping on her when you need to.” He then chuckles as her reference.

“She’s called too tough to tame for a reason.” He then looks down pit road towards Christopher, before glancing back at Sarina. “Do you think you could ask your boyfriend to give me the secret as to why that car is driving so good?”

“You know just as well as I do that Christopher doesn’t share competition secrets.” Chase knew that, but joking around a little was better than fretting about his mistake.

“Perhaps you could change the tune with a way of your own.” She then looks at him a little surprised.

“Wow, I’m surprised that you, Mr. Elliott, would like me to share my ways with someone else other than you.” She then runs his finger tips slowly along the back of his neck. “Are you sure you want that shared?”

“Good point, as I wouldn’t want him swiping you off my hands.” He then turns around to face her, lightly kissing her lips. “Ready for some lunch?”

“Yeah, I actually am today..” He smiles as he takes her hand and they head back to the trailer, ready for a quick bite to eat for the XFINITY race.

If there were any doubts about how the race was going to go, or the handling of the No. 23 Chevrolet, those were erased out of the way right from the beginning as he made his way up to 22nd just in the first two laps.

“Damn boy!” Sarina couldn’t help but let out as she watched him climb the scoring pylon.

He’d make his way into the top-five near the end of the first stage, running up front all race long en route to a sixth-place finish.

“So I’m not fired yet, am I?” Chad Norris questions afterwards and Chase shakes his head no.

“It took us some searching, but we found what we needed at the right time,” Chase offers. “A couple more adjustments and we would’ve been right there.”

“So are you ready for Indianapolis next week?” Chase knew it was an unknown with the drafting package, but also felt confident based on the past couple of weeks with this group.

“I like our chances better there than they were today.”

“Hopefully we can snag a win together. Thanks again.” Chase gives him a simple nod as the crew chief heads off, while Chase takes a deep breath. He knew he needed to get right back out to pit road with Cup qualifying next on the docket.

“I’m surprised that you’re not hanging out with Chase on pit road,” Christopher says as he watches Sarina walk over to him. She knew everybody expected her to be right by his side, but she also didn’t need to be distracting him right now.

“He’s focused on qualifying and Alan so do I really need to be there this exact minute?” Sarina questions back, earning a simple shrug of the shoulders from Christopher. “Besides, I had to come and check on my friend.” Christopher lets out a sigh.

“I didn’t even hit that hard, Sarina. I’m fin-”

“I realize the contact wasn’t that hard at all – been there, done that. However, I saw the interview and how bummed you were. I also heard about what happened with inspection yesterday and your crew chief kicked out. I came over here from a morale point of view.” Christopher’s eyes don’t leave the ground the whole time.

“What else is there to say? This weekend just sucked as a whole. There’s nothing we can do. We just need to regroup, move on, and go win at Indianapolis next week.” While Sarina wanted to see happiness for him, she was actually hoping to watch Indy go a different direction.

“I’m sorry, but you’re going to get beat next weekend. You can finish second, though.” He finally glances over, almost a little surprised.

“And here you came over to boost my morale, but now you’re bursting my bubble already. What kind of friend are you?” She then places a hand on his shoulder with a smile.

“An honest friend, Christopher. I figured learning a week early would help the pain a little next week.” He then rolls his eyes with a chuckle.

“Tell Chase that I won’t make it easy on him.” She could only grin in response.

“I wouldn’t expect otherwise.” She then goes to walk away, but he snags her hand. “Chri-”

“We were supposed to become teammates at JGR, but yet you’re supposedly rumored to be headed to JR Motorsports. What happened?” She then lets out a sigh as she glances back into his eyes.

“Why don’t you go ask Joe Gibbs? He wouldn’t give me a chance to run full time next year, but JR Motorsports has the offer on the table. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t entertain that offer.” Christopher wanted to argue with her, but knew he’d do the same thing in her shoes.

“So if Joe was to offer you a full-time ride, you would accept it?” She nods her head yes as he lets out a sigh. “I wish I had the power to force him to do that.”

“Trust me, I would like to work with you once again, as well. Instead, I’ll be against your ass next year. Are you ready to get your ass kicked this time around?” He then looks on surprised.

“Do I need to pull my championship trophy out and show you whose name is on it?” She couldn’t blame the comeback.

“For your information, I am getting one of my own this year.” He smiles as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“And I couldn’t be more proud. Keep doing what you’re doing – and avoid stupid shit like last week. I thought you would’ve learned after what you did to me.” She then rolls her eyes as she removes his arm from her shoulders.

“And here we go again. I’m done…” She then walks away as he reaches out for her hand but misses.

“Sarina, I’m joking…” She then slightly glances back.

“I know, but you’re still a pain in the ass. I’ll see you around, Bell.” She then continues walking, making her way to pit road to see the tail end of Cup qualifying with Chase ending up 11th at the end of the session.

Sunday, September 2 – Darlington Raceway

Running up front all day paid off for Chase at Darlington Raceway as he finished stage one in 10th, followed by a fourth in stage two, before picking up a fifth-place finish. It certainly wasn’t the win they had hoped for, but the car came home clean without any marks and their string of solid runs continued.

Though on the flight home, that wasn’t the discussion between Chase and Sarina. Instead, their minds were focused elsewhere.

“Shelley finally got back to me, by the way,” Sarina broke the silence as they flew above South Carolina. “She said that she was busy, but is still interested as ever as if we are-”

“We?” Chase questions, and Sarina nods her head in response.

“She said that the apology is owed to us both as her decisions proved costly to us both.” Chase lets out a sigh as it seemed to be coming at all directions now. However, he was set to stick to his guns of being in the know rather than leaving everything in the dark. “She added that we can let her know some days that we’re available and she’ll pick one.”

“Did you send her some ideas?” Sarina glances up from her phone.

“I was just typing that reply, actually. I had to double check your calendar.” Chase knew things were hectic right now with the playoffs approaching, and as Hendrick tried to finalize some of his sponsorship contracts.

“For the same reason that we’re going to meet with her is the same reason that I want to open the note from Alison.” Sarina wanted to begin cursing immediately after hearing the name.

“Then how about you get it over with when we get home, read the freaking note, and then burn it with the rest of her shitty manipulating lying games?” Sarina then takes a deep breath as Chase reaches over to place a hand on hers. “Chas-”

“Sarin-”

“Both hands on the controls, please…” He then does as instructed, fighting every instinct to comfort her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it to come out that way. It’s just every time I think about her hands on you, manipulating you, forcing you, and making you feel so twisted – it makes me sick and I want to do whatever to protect you. If she doesn’t kidnap me, she doesn’t get her hands on yo-”

“You can’t play the what if game. She was crazy enough that she would’ve found out a way to do it no matter what. That crazy is what drives me to stay a step ahead this time and see what she is thinking, trying to imply, so I can be ready.”

“You do what you need to do – just let me burn it afterwards for therapy. How is that?” He smiles and nods his head, accepting. “Chase, we’re going to be okay even if she does try something again.”

“I know. We’ve got each other, and we’ve weathered the storm. We’re still together and we’ll keep weathering whatever comes our way. We’ve got this.”

Friday, September 7 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway

“This is ridiculous,” Sarina comments before curling up once again on the couch.

With Chase set to run both series races this weekend, they had flown out to Indianapolis as per their schedule to be there for Friday. However, all day, all that Sarina had been staring at was rain drops as it didn’t seem to be letting up with NASCAR eventually canceling both XFINITY Series practices scheduled for Friday.

“I could’ve stayed home curled up in my own comfy bed, with my teddy bear, in my super soft pajamas, with my cuddly fiancé,” she complains once again as she looks back towards the television.

“You would’ve missed spending time with me then,” Samantha offers as she glances up from her Ipad on the other couch. Kyle was off with some friends, so Samantha had come over to see Sarina, while Chase went over to Ryan’s for some games.

“I hate to kill the company bubble, but my bed overrules that right now.” Samantha slowly sits the Ipad down, now her eyes totally focused on her friend.

“You’re feeling that sick, huh?” Sarina slowly nods her head yes. “Have you gone to the care center to be checked out yet?” Sarina shakes her head no. “Okay, that’s not like you, or Chase for that matter. I mean, I thought he’d be all over making you do what you need to do.”

“Maybe it’s because I’ve hidden it so far this weekend…” Samantha’s jaw slowly drops. “I’m sorry but he’s busy enough with running both cars, and this whole madness over Alison sending some stupid apology note that I didn’t want to burden him more with something else to worry about.”

“Sarina…..” Samantha then stands up and makes her way over to the couch to sit right next to her. “You know once he finds out, he is going to be mad, right?” Sarina nods her head yes. “So I think that you need to say something like immediately.”

“That conversation may not go so smoothly.” Samantha was confused. Why did that matter if Sarina was sick? “This isn’t the first weekend I’ve felt like this. The past month, it’s been off and on, almost…like….”

“Something serious is wrong?” Sarina had pondered that, however she had a different theory in her mind already.

“I’m taking birth control, but it’s proven to not work with me before. We’re also using protection, but I know a condom or two broke. I saw it in the garbage pail. He didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to concern me knowing my thoughts after January.” Samantha slowly began to realize where Sarina was going with this and why she hid it.

“So are you saying that you’re pregnant?” Sarina slowly stands up, and makes her way to the cupboard. She then reaches up to the top corner, pulling out a box and placing it on the corner.

“I don’t know the damn signs or anything, but I’m pretty certain it is adding up to that, Samantha. That’s why I bought this the other night when I went to the store myself.” Sarina then glances back towards the box. “I just haven’t been brave enough to open the package and take the test.”

“If you want to take it – and I think you should based on what you’re saying, I’ll stay here with you for support.” Sarina looks back over at Samantha.

“There’s so many decisions to be made if it is positive. I am currently in the playoffs for my first championship and I don’t want to give that up. At the same time, I’m not supposed to be getting pregnant right now based on all these provisions. I’ve also had doctors tell me that I can’t carry a baby full term and should look into options.” Samantha knew of these discussions and knew it would be a long, interesting road. However, it all didn’t matter quite yet.

“How about we just begin with you taking the test?” Sarina slowly opens the box.

“If it is positive, I have a decision in my mind – even if everybody will tell me I’m crazy.” She then takes out the test kit. “I just hope everybody won’t be mad at me.” Samantha walks over, placing her hands on Sarina’s shoulders.

“I’ve been in your shoes with all these uncertainties. Any woman whose been in our situation understands what you’re feeling. Nobody will be mad at you as you were doing what you were supposed to be doing, and you’re only human – things happen. Sometimes it’s meant to be even if the timing and everything else is wrong.” Sarina glances down at her own stomach, before looking back at the pregnancy test.

“Welp, here goes nothing…..”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 108: Johnsonville 180

Thursday, August 23 – Nashville, TN

Ryan walks over to the table, placing a glass of Jack Daniels and coke before Chase, before sitting down with his own. The ladies were each drinking a Shirley Temple as Sarina wasn’t seeing anything on the menu of interest, and felt bad if Lindsay wasn’t the only one allowed to drink.

“I still can’t believe you’re not going to Canada with her,” Ryan comments as he takes a sip of his drink.

“What about those romantic CN Tower dinner plans?” Lindsay adds as Chase glances over at Sarina.

“I’m sorr-” He starts, starting to feel bad as she places a hand on his shoulder.

“Have I yelled at you about this once?” Sarina questions. Have I told you that I was mad or upset? Have I tried to stop you?” Chase shakes his head no. “Then I have no problem with this. I understand you not wanting to miss your dad being back behind the wheel, and I have my guys to  look out for me. Besides, you’ll be there Sunday and we can go out for dinner after the race if everything goes well.”

“You know, only the best win in Canada,” Ryan says as he leans his head on Chase’s shoulder. “We’re part of a very elite group.”

“How does Austin Cindric figure into that group?” Chase wonders, earning a questionable glance from Ryan.

“Austin isn’t that bad of a driver.” Chase chuckles a little. “Really?”

“Did you see what he’s done in the 60 for Roush?” Ryan nods his head.

“Have you seen what he’s done for Penske? Trust me when I say he’s going to run well this weekend. That’s why I’ve been trusted to spot for him – so help me…” The group lets out a chuckle. “Besides, that car is cursed as everybody has wrecked in it, even Ty Majeski and you, yourself, have said that man can drive.” Chase shakes his head no.

“I’ve bragged upon people – and still say Casey Roderick and Bubba Pollard are among the best, but I don’t recall mentioning Majeski.” Sarina smiles as she wraps her fingers around her glass.

“Oh, so you’re admitting that Bubba is talented now?” She questions and he glances at her. “I’m sorry, but you always talked down him in previous conversations.”

“I never said he couldn’t drive, though,” Chase reminds her as Ryan just smirks.

“Chase is just jealous that he offered you a ride first before he did,” Ryan comments, earning a finger from Chase, which brings chuckles around the table.

“So wait a minute – you almost didn’t drive for Chase?” Lindsay interrupts, and Sarina nods her head. “Let me guess – the crush caused you to say yes.”

“Oh no, the equipment and opportunity did because I liked what he was offering,” Sarina says.

“In more ways than one,” Ryan adds, earning a smack from Sarina as Chase just laughs. “Oh don’t you laugh over there. You only asked her because of the crush.” Chase shakes his head no.

“Dad and Ricky talked about the idea for a while of starting a team,” Chase refreshes their memory. “I just suggested a driver who was talented. Just like I told Sarina, I didn’t ask her because I had a crush on her. I asked her because she could win, she could drive, and she knew how to work hard. She deserved a chance. I just didn’t envision her driving for Kyle Busch.”

“I wouldn’t change that, though,” Sarina offers with a smile.

Admittedly, the past two years had been amazing in being able to work with likes of Rudy and Marcus, while having Kyle’s guidance and Samantha’s friendship.

Friday, August 24 – Road America

“Is this really happening?” Chase questions as they walk through the garage area.

“NASCAR says I can’t run unless I attend the rookie meeting,” Bill reminds him as Chase just chuckles to himself.

“I don’t think you could’ve ever had someone bet on having Katherine Legge, Conor Daly, and you in a NASCAR rookie meeting together.” Bill couldn’t help but nod his head in agreement.

“Rules are rules….” They make their way inside the NASCAR trailer, as Bill accepts the hand-out from the official reading it over.

“So when do we just let your dad run the meeting?” Christopher questions as Chase chuckles a little. “Did you give all your notes to Sarina ahead of this weekend?”

“She doesn’t need my help at CTMP,” Chase replies. “She finished second last year, remember?” Chase could still picture the emotions on her face after the race was over, knowing she’d missed locking into the playoffs by just that little bit.

“As long as she stays out of trouble on the last lap, she’ll be fine…” Chase nods his head in agreement. “By the way, I’m sure you heard that she invited me to the wedding.”

“Yeah – both you and Morgan actually.” Christopher remembered seeing that on the invitation.

“I hope you don’t min-”

“Are you kidding me? Seriously?” Christopher looks over at Chase.

“Things haven’t always been smooth between us due to all the discussi-”

“Other people may be saying that you and Sarina are doing this and that, should be together, possibly seeing each other. It’s the same stuff that I’m hearing about me and Erin. Do you know what I have to say to that? I don’t care. I know where she stands, I know where I stand, and I get the friendship you both have together. there’s no problems, Christopher.” Christopher smiles a little.

“I just didn’t want to cause any issues….” Chase places a hand on the young man’s shoulder.

“You’re welcome around Sarina anytime that you want. It doesn’t bother me, okay?” Christopher nods his head before Chase makes his way out of the meeting quietly.

Chase makes his way back to the garage after the second practice, pretty satisfied. It sucked the first session had rain as he knew it would’ve been critical to get another 50 minutes in. However, even seeing his dad ranked 26th on the chart, he couldn’t be upset.

“Are you having fun?” He asks after Bill gets done debriefing things over with Chad.

“More than I thought I would,” Bill answers. “I actually have to thank you for bringing my name up.” Chase smiles as the key for the weekend was having fun, and enjoying the experience. “It’s a bigger difference than I even could’ve expected with everything that has changed. So much stuff that I didn’t think I’d have to get used to.”

“You’re not doing that bad, either. You’re getting quicker each lap. Keep that up in the race, along with staying out of trouble, and we should have a decent day.” Bill nods his head in agreement.

“To finish a road course you must first just keep all four Goodyears on the pavement.” Chase smiles, remembering that advice the first time he went road course racing. He then surprised himself with a win up at CTMP that weekend.

“You’ve also got my ear to talk off if you need any more tips – which even feels awkward saying after all the years you’ve helped me.” Chase then glances at his phone, seeing the text message from Sarina as he replies.

“I just can’t believe you’re getting married in four months.” Chase smiles as he glances back up. it still felt just like yesterday when he popped her the question.

“It’ll be here before we know it…” Bill places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“I don’t get what happens in your life – married, older, fatherhood, years from now – just know that you can always come to me for advice.” Chase nods his head accepting.

“I don’t ever forget that I can lean on you, if I need you.” Chase gives him a hug before letting Bill get back over to the crew to discuss things over some more.

Saturday, August 25 – Road America

Bill sits up on the counter, glancing over at Chase as he watches him curiously.

“Something is on your mind…” Bill comments, not even getting Chase’s attention in return. “I know we qualified 23rd, but it’s not ba-”

“I’m not complaining as it’s a fine spot to start from all things considered,” Chase cuts him off as he keeps his eyes focused in the other direction.

“Are you missing Sarina?” Chase shakes his head no. “Did she struggle in practice?”

“Led the first session, seventh in the second.” Bill was now growing frustrated as it seemed nothing would get his attention.

“So what is on your mind?” Chase finally looks towards his father.

“You have a race to focus on. I can worry about this la-”

“We’ve got a whole hour until the race, Chase. We’ve got time to talk and I can tell this is really bugging you.” Chase lets out a sigh, wishing the conversation would’ve already disappeared.

“I got a notice last week that Alison has written a note that she would like for me to receive and read.” The same reaction as Alan had a week ago began to appear with Bill as it didn’t take long for frustration.

“I thought the idea of her being locked away in a mental institution was closure, an ending, and a way for her to never play havoc in your life again. However, we’re opening that door with a notice? Why are they are even contacting you?” Chase glances back away.

“They say it’s important, so I’m guessing it may be an apology considering she realizes what she did.” Bill almost wanted to laugh.

“I’m sorry, but there’s not a damn single word that would make up for the shit that she put you through for months, Chase.” Chase was taken aback by how direct his father’s words were, but understood where he was coming from.

“Trust me, I could never forgive and look past what happ-”

“Then why are you even entertaining this? As soon as they reached out, I would’ve told them to stick the note where the sun doesn’t shine.” Chase almost wanted to chuckle in response.

“She was able to get the advantage on me by playing my emotions, and playing me totally. She used this is a gam-”

“…which you’re continuing to entertain by accepting this no-”

“Or am I getting the upper-hand by not letting her get a single thing over me and knowing where everything stands? I don’t want to be outsmarted again.” Bill now saw everything came from the regrets that still seemed to remain from what happened.

“I still say that you should ignore every bit of it and focus on moving forward, like we’ve talked about previously. But hey, it doesn’t matter what I say as you’ll do whatever you want.” Chase looks back to his father with a bit of sympathy written in the eyes.

“I still appreciate you hearing me out, and offering your advice on the situation, though. I also take it into consideration when figuring out what to do.”

“I always told you to be nice to your elders, and show people respect. If you’re unable to tell someone where to stick it, please let me do it because I have other words for them.” Chase rolls his eyes, knowing that wouldn’t end well especially if his mom got involved, too.

“I’m a big boy, Dad. I can handle it…”

Chase couldn’t complain about his vantage point for the race, as he takes a deep breath, ready to focus on the task at hand. It was all about having a solid day, and things started off that way as Bill was up inside the top-20 in the first stage. However, everything wouldn’t stay that way as he’d make contact with the back of somebody when Brandon Jones got spun with four laps to go.

“Significant front end damage,” was the report from the pits, which easily could be seen on the No. 23 Chevrolet. Chase could only roll his eyes, but knew there was a long way to go.

After finishing the stage in 19th, the GMS Racing team went to work in fixing the damage under the pit stop, ultimately putting Bill back to 33rd after pit stops. It’d be slow moving through the second stage, only earning a single spot to finish 22nd. However, it was better than the situation dealt for Austin Cindric and Ryan, with Cindric breaking with five laps to go while running in the top-five.

“You guys were running good,” Chase offered to Ryan before Ryan left the turn to head back to the pits.

“We’re not going to pit here,” Chad comes over the radio shortly after, causing a small panic to set in for Chase. he knew that’d make for an interesting restart as many of the guys up front had pitted, putting a bunch of fast cars behind them. buckling in, he knew there’d be a lot to spot through this back half of the race.

Restarting seventh, it didn’t take long for Bill to fall back outside of the top-20 immediately. however, Chase found himself slightly distracted after watching the contact ensue between Christopher and Justin.

“Nice job, Christopher!” Chase said to himself, trying to get his focus back on where it was supposed to be. He now had even more questions for Eddie and how he remained focus in most of these long races.

Focused back on the No. 23, Chase watched as his father began to make up ground late in the race. However, it seemed everything went downhill as while running 17th, he watched the No. 23 go around for a spin with seven to go.

“Dang it,” he commented to himself. “Chaos is set to happen here; we may be alright still…”

It seemed the race continued to go downhill from there, as he watched the No. 20 of Bell go around with five to go, spun out of fourth courtesy of Matt Tifft.

“I feel like I hit everything but the lottery,” Chase heard as he returned to pit road after the race, having a chuckle himself. The smile on his father’s face made all of the frustrations from the day go away immediately as all that mattered was having fun, and that had happened. Oh, and they got their top-20 as warranted, with a 20th-place finish.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 107: Thunder Valley

Thursday, August 16 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Christopher Bell walks down pit road, leaning casually back against the No. 18 truck.

“Can I help you, Mr. Bell?” Sarina asks as she turns around and notices him standing there. She already knew why he was there, having gotten the pole while she qualified seventh. She wasn’t surprised that he was set to rub in it.

“I was just wondering if you needed some tips for tonight,” Christopher answers as she just rolls her eyes.

“It’s one thing to be fast for a single lap; it’s another to be fast for the entire race tonight. We’ll see whose left standing at the end of the night.” Christopher nods his head, accepting. “By the way, you told me that I’d be embarrassed when I lost this bet. What do you have in mind?”

“A certain special costume – as long as your boyfriend won’t throttle my ass for making you wear it.” She then looks at him a little concerned. “A little skanky rainbow outfit…”

“Oh really?” He then shows her a photo on his phone as she just smirks back in return. “I see you’ve done your research. I didn’t take as long to find something as you did…” She then pulls up a coconut bra and skirt. “You’re on still, Mr. Bell.”

“You just want me to wear that so you can admire my ass….” He then walks away as she chuckles, rolling her eyes.

Sarina started off the race that night strong, running inside the top-10 through the first stage. Unfortunately, the end of stage pit stop did not work in their favor, as Sarina fell back to 14th.

“Are you kidding me?!?” Chase questions out loud as he rolls his eyes sitting on the pit box. He even had to admit these pit stop issues were getting annoyed and a talk with Kyle was becoming more warranted, especially before the playoffs.

She would battle back throughout the second stage, making slight contact with Myatt Snider coming to the checkered, who’d for a spin.

“Son of a bitch was pinching his ass as close as he could to me,” she complained immediately on the radio.

“Calm down – he’s done and forgotten now,” Rudy tries to encourage her. However, Chase knew the frustration wasn’t just from the incident, but the fact that the short track she thought she’d perform well had turned into a rough night.

She wouldn’t make much ground on the restart, which inspired Rudy to take two tires on a late-race pit stop, allowing to come off pit road in second.

“It doesn’t hurt to gamble, right?” Rudy offered, and Chase nods his head in agreement.

She was able to get the lead on the restart initially, but faded back to fifth shortly thereafter, ultimately crossing the finish line in eighth. More importantly, she had beaten Christopher who fell out of the race with a mechanical issue.

“I don’t even want to talk about it….” She commented after the race after she got out of the truck, putting her helmet and gloves in the bag. Certainly this wasn’t how you wanted to head into the playoffs off of a so-so run.

“Does this make you feel better?” Christopher questions, as he comes around the corner, wearing the outfit in question. There was immediate laughter from every crew member surrounding them, including some taking out their phones for photos.

“Thank you for being a good spot about this…” Sarina even had to chuckle herself as she glanced him over. “After having the mechanical issue, I almost feel bad about making you do this.”

“The smile on your face makes up for it.” He then wraps an arm around her shoulder. “You’ve got a good team around you. Just take a deep breath, remember you have speed, remember you’ve ran well, and the playoffs will go wonderfully.” He then glances over at Chase. “I just have to make sure to beat your fiancé there tomorrow night.”

“Good luck with that,” Chase says with a chuckle in response as Christopher walks away.

“I’d rather see you in that grass skirt, by the way,” Sarina offers as she cuddles back up close to Chase. “I think your ass would make it look much better.” Chase just laughs as he glances over at her.

“Sweetheart, I’m not the ones with the curvy hips to make it flow good….” She just smiles back in response, kissing his lips.

“Promise me you’ll make the rest of this weekend better for us?” Chase nods his head as he wraps his arms around her.

“I’ll do my best to snag another win….”

Friday, August 17 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Chase climbed out of the No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Camaro, walking over to Alan with a smile on his face as he leaned back against the pit box. Two practices in the books, and he had topped the first one with their qualifying trim, while placing eighth in the second.

“That’s much better than anything you gave me last week,” Chase comments as Alan just smiles back in response.

“I like the sounds of that,” he offers as he looks over his notes. “Now just back up that time in qualifying and you’ll be my hero.” Chase nods his head, in agreement, as it would be nice to start up front Saturday night. It was certainly a nice distraction from the message that morning. “The smile just faded from your face…..”

“I’m still feeling good about how we practi-”

“But something is on that mind of yours.” Alan walks over, setting down the clipboard, as he keeps his eyes on Chase. “When you start acting like this, it’s something serious that turns into something I should be nervous or worried about. So how about for a change you warn me ahead of time?”

“I always told you before when something was going on?” Alan nods his head in agreement.

“So why is this time any different?” Chase glances down with a sigh. Perhaps if he avoided saying something out loud, it wouldn’t be true. “You told me about Shell-”

“This doesn’t deal with her. Sarina hasn’t said anything since showing me the note.” Alan was now even more concerned as that didn’t leave many options on the table. “The mental institution for the criminally insane got aho-”

“What in the hell did you do to warrant that phone call?!?” Chase’s jaw drops as he looks at the crew chief.

“I didn’t do anything, thank you very much. It’s about Alison.” Alan rolls his eyes as he was hoping to not hear that name ever again once she was locked away. “They have a note that she has written for me, that they’d like me to receive and read. It’s up to me what I want to do with it.”

“And?” Chase glances down as he had thought about it back and forth a couple times.

“She twisted the game so many different ways, and made everything so screwed up that I don’t want to retouc-”

“Then tell them that you don’t want to read it, or have anything else to do with her. It’s that simple, Chase.” Chase knew that was the easy way out. However, he couldn’t forget his words just a week earlier.

“But I can’t just do that because part of me wants to stay in the loop in case she does get released.” Alan almost wanted to let out a scream in response.

“We’re not re-opening that door, nor are we allowing anything to happen – as discussed last week. If we’re doing that, why do we have to worry about what she’s thinking or a note?” Chase knew it seemed ridiculous to be thinking what he was now.

“Because maybe that note will tell me how far she is along, and whether I need to worry now or lat-”

“That’ll only make you more paranoid, and anxious. Moving forward is about putting it behind you, and easing all of those worries away. You’re just putting yourself back in that box by thinking of these theories, and wondering.” Alan takes a deep breath, knowing a straight out lecture would help neither of them. “Did you take my advice in set up another appointment?”

“Yeah, I did, but when I got the notification about the note, it just took me right back.” Alan places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“I can’t tell you what to do and what not to do as this is your life. I can only tell you what I would do, and give you my reasoning. I’ve done that. Now you need to decide. If it gives you peace of mind in knowing where she stands and keeping tabs, then go forth and read what she has to say. If you are definitely ready to move forward and not think about her again, or are scared of getting warped up in her world, don’t accept.” Alan then takes his hand off of Chase’s shoulder as he picks the clipboard back up. “I don’t know what else to tell you.”

“Thank you, I guess….” Chase then takes a deep breath, feeling as though he’d gotten nowhere as the crew chief walks away.

“It was close,” he told the media after qualifying. “It wasn’t perfect. But I got through 1 and 2 pretty good and maybe gave up a little bit in 3 and 4. But I mean, heck, two-hundredths of a second. I don’t really know how to characterize that. But, I just hate we couldn’t grab a pole. We put a lot of effort into it. Our KKB Chevrolet was fast today and if there was ever a place still, with these closer segment times on pit road, that you want that first pit box, this is it. So, that would have been big. But, we’ll go get it from second.”

He then walks over to Alan, giving him a quick high-five. So far, things were going solidly as he qualified 13th for the XFINITY race, followed by second for the Cup race.

“I could’ve gotten back in it a touch sooner in 3 and 4,” he comments as he sits down on the pit wall.

“I’d rather start second than you get in it sooner and lose time because it kicks sideways,” Alan offers as Sarina hands Chase a bottle of water.

“You’ve been doing a lot of laps today,” she says as he gives her a puzzled look. “I’m just looking out for you.” He rolls his eyes, knowing this went back to earlier this year.

“Trust me – I’m not doing Chicago all over again,” he assures her, followed by a quick kiss.

“A little tender loving care never hurt anyone though,” Alan says before walking away from the pair.

“You don’t need to worry about me. I am taking care of myself.” She then places a hand on his leg.

“Can’t a girl look out for her man without being accused of doing the wrong thing?” He then lets out a sigh. Maybe it wasn’t too bad that she was looking out for him. “Besides, you’re always taking care of me, and I appreciate that. I’d like to return the favor.”

“I appreciate it, but I’m fine…” She nods her head, accepting. She then lets out a sigh, rubbing her stomach. “But are you okay?”

“I don’t know. I’ve just felt meh at times today…” He then looks at her a little concerned.

“I hope you’re not coming down with anything.” She shakes her head no as she glances at her own bottle of water.

“I’ve been taking care of myself, and been avoiding anybody whose sick. I don’t want to repeat my stunt this year, either. Maybe it was just something I ate today.” Chase shrugs his shoulders, knowing that was a good possibility.

The XFINITY Series began, and off to a weird start at that with Kyle falling out of the race after getting too high and into the wall. If anybody didn’t get that it was fine line running the top groove, there was their lesson right there.

Sarina didn’t let that stay in her mind, though, instead focusing on the No. 23 Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Chevrolet. She watched as Chase made his way up to the front through the first stage, staying out under the caution that came out with 11 laps to go in stage two. Restarting third, he battled hard, ending the second stage in third.

“Solid start,” she commented quietly to herself, still feeling out of place with the GMS Racing team. It wasn’t like the usual joking that she could have with Jordan and Josh during Cup races.

Restarting 12th after pitting at stage end, he made his way forward with the new rubber back up to third. He’d get alongside Justin Allgaier for second as the laps began to count down.

“I think I have a loose wheel,” Chase reported over the radio, earning a silent curse from Sarina.

“Are you sure?” Chad Norris asks, almost earning a slap upside the head from Sarina.

“Pretty sure…” Chase would begin to fade back as he tried to make it through the final laps without an unscheduled pit stop. The caution would then come out with two laps to go for Daniel Hemric getting into the wall. “Absolutely certain.”

“Guys are a little skeptical on the left front…” Now Sarina wanted to scream, especially after Chad’s comment earlier.

“I’m coming in….” Having faded back to fifth after the restart, Sarina couldn’t deny his decision. It was better to save the racecar since they weren’t in it for points, and the chance to win had faded away.

Returning back on-track for the restart, Chase would make his way back up to eighth by the checkered flag.

“They’ve got fast cars,” Chase comments after the race as he gets changed. “I just have no luck in them.” Sarina crosses her arms.

“I wanted to smack Chad when he asked if you were sure about that tire being loose,” Sarina adds, earning a glance from Chase. “He knew right away as the tire changer came up to say something when you complained, but yet goes and says that. Isn’t there any God damn respect anymore?”

“I’ll make sure to have a talk with Maurice (Gallagher) and Mike (Beam) about that, okay?” Sarina nods her heads, accepting.

“Hopefully your dad has better luck next week.” Chase couldn’t help but agree, but knew it’d be fun no matter where Bill finished.

“Yeah, not quite enough of something,” Chase comments post-race to the media. He was able to lead some laps early, before fading through the middle portion of the race, and making it back up at the end for a third-place finish. “I don’t know, just got tight there after the run that we had the lead and once we got it freed back up, but we kept getting the bottom on all the restarts and it was just hard to go forward and what not. But, man, that thing was really fast there at the end. It felt like we were making up some ground on those guys.”

He answers some more questions before walking over to the team on pit road, giving them each a high-five as they had given him a solid car and something to work with.

“Enjoy your off-weekend,” he tells Alan with a hug. “Don’t relax too much…” Alan chuckles as he glances back at the guys.

“Do you really think we’re going to do that?” Alan offers as he looks back to Chase. “The list of things we have to do this week will keep us busy.”

“Well, make sure to take at least a little bit of time for yourself.” Alan nods his head, accepting.

“Have fun at Road America.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 106: Pure Michigan 400

Saturday, August 11 – Michigan International Speedway

“I want to know how you kept that thing from getting any damage,” Alan comments after Chase climbs out of the car following practice.

“I want to know what adjustment you’re going to make to get the looseness out of the car,” Chase replies as Alan glances up at the chart. The session was pretty much a write-off considering the comments from Chase, and the fact they were ranked 18th.

“Is it that bad now?” Chase nods his head as he walks over to the crew chief.

“The rear-end is just too snappy that there was nothing I could do there but hold on.” Alan glances over his notes, as he tries to figure out what direction to go.

“Well, at least it isn’t tight anymore….” Chase just shakes his head as he glances over the data. “I think if I go in-between earlier and now, we’ll be fine – unless you want to go a little tight.” Chase thinks it over, while continuing to look over data – including some from his teammates.

“I’d rather be tight in the center than loose off like that, but perhaps you can fix both?” Alan glances over with a side eye.

“Now now driver, let’s not all get demanding for perfection here….” Chase rolls his eyes as Alan places a hand on his shoulder. “I’ll see what I can do for you. You can trust me…”

“I hope so…..”

Rudy walks over, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

“You did good holding on at the end,” he tells her. “I’m proud of you.” She then glances over with a small smile on her face.

“It still sucks, though,” she replies and he simply nods his head in response. She had run top-five through the first half of the race, before getting the lead off pit road for the final segment. Unfortunately, battling a tight condition, she would end up finishing fourth.

“When you can say fourth sucks, you’re doing something right. Hey, brighter note – Bristol is next weekend.” She couldn’t lie that she was excited as it was going to be a fun weekend.

“Thanks as always, Rudy….” He then heads off as she glances over to her right at Chase.

“Fourth sucks, but it’s better than 14th,” Chase comments as she reaches over, giving his hand a squeeze.

“Still worried about tomorrow?” She questions and he just shrugs his shoulders.

“It’s frustrating to come off a win and struggle so much to find the speed and handling you want in the car. I want to be mad at the guys, but I can’t because I know how hard they’re working and how far we’ve come.” She then moves closer, leaning her head against his arm.

“But your push for success, perfection, and the playoffs still makes you ponder it, right?” He nods his head.

“The fact that we’ve always ran good here, too. This wasn’t a place that I was worried about.” She then glances up into his eyes.

“Look at the bright notes. You’re locked into the playoffs, this track isn’t in the playoffs, and boom – you guys are getting better. things could be worse, right?” He nods his head, accepting. “Say, why don’t we go back to the bus and I get your mind off of that pesky car?”

“Do I want to know what you’re thinking?” She then looks at him with a bit of surprise.

“I wasn’t going there, but I can if you want….” He moves his arm so it’s wrapped around her, instead of her head against it.

“Either way is fine by me, but I can’t deny that we have fun together.” He then kisses her lips, before they head off pit road together.

Sunday, August 12 – Michigan International Speedway

Starting 21st on the grid, Chase immediately made his way forward, running 12th as of the competition yellow at Lap 25. The combination of speed shown, along with happiness on the radio, brought some relaxation across the pit box in knowing the adjustments last night were the right ones.

Though their day wasn’t meant to go smoothly as Chase would have an uncontrolled right front tire on the pit stop, resulting in a penalty, sending him back to 34th for the restart.

“Of course…” Sarina comments after hearing the call, rolling her eyes in response.

The restart came, and brought forth complaints from Chase in regards to feeling a vibration.

“Is it getting worse?” Alan questions after a couple of laps, sending Josh down to check with the tire changers if they got the lug nuts tight.

“Yes, 10 percent worse,” Chase answers, earning another eye roll from Sarina. “I think it’s a right.”

Knowing it wasn’t getting any better – and not willing to risk the consequences, Chase headed down pit road at Lap 40 for an unscheduled pit stop. Now a lap down, Sarina could only sit there, arms crossed, frustrated.

“We’ve got a long time to make it back up,” Jordan tries to coach the situation as he rubs her shoulder.

Alan made the decision to leave him out at the end of the first stage, allowing him to take the wave around and get back on the lead lap. From there, they slowly worked their way back up through, finishing stage two in 14th, followed by ninth at the checkered.

“Can I bitch today?” Chase questions as he glances over at Sarina afterwards. She just chuckles and nods her head.

“If not for Jordan, I think I would’ve strangled the guys,” Sarina comments as Chase just chuckles.

“They don’t make a lot of mistakes – and they were heroes last week. But it still sucks.” Sarina nods her head in agreement.

“Hey, at least you guys found speed and you made moves to the front of the field. Progress, right?” He glances over with a small smile.

“I see my lessons are rubbing off on you…” She lays her head against him once again.

“I got to be smart if I want to win a championship this year, right?”

Wednesday, August 15 – Kyle Busch Motorsports

Sarina makes her way down the stairs after a meeting with Rudy Fugle ahead of this weekend, set to check in with the guys before leaving for the night. However, she pauses as she notices a familiar face sitting in the No. 51 truck.

She makes her way through the shop and over to the truck in question, peeking inside.

“I know you’re having a killer season in the XFINITY Series, but is Sir Bell missing his time here at KBM with me?” Sarina questions as Christopher just laughs with a glance her way.

“There’s something about Denny, Ryan (Preece), Daniel, and Kyle as teammates that doesn’t equal to your standard,” Christopher answers as Sarina places her hand on her heart.

“I’m so touched by your compliments. But do you realize how mad Harrison will be if he finds you in his truck? You’d be worse off than Goldilocks was with the three bears.” Christopher just smiles as he keeps his eyes locked on her.

“I don’t think Harrison will be too mad. Actually, he texted me today stating that he hoped that I had a good weekend.” Sarina now keeps her eyes on him, feeling more confused than ever. “Oh, you haven’t heard? I’m going to be your teammate this weekend, sweetheart.”

“Say what?!?” Christopher continues smiling as he glances back forward, running his hands over the steering wheel.

“He’s still feeling pretty sick after someone passed along their flu bug, but I wouldn’t know who.” Sarina glances down, knowing that she was one of the people within the shop to have had the bug at one time or another. She was still mad that she wasn’t about to run that weekend, too.

“So Kyle called you to replace him this weekend?” Christopher nods his head as he looks back towards her.

“Now can you try not to wreck me this time?” She then playfully punches him as he laughs.

“Can you seriously just let that go?” Christopher continues laughing, shaking his head no.

“You should know better than anyone that racers don’t forget when they come close…” She nods her head, knowing that was true. However, she couldn’t deny it stung when he made a comment about what happened.

“Recall I did apologize 100 times over for the contact, but relax – I won’t wreck you this weekend. I’ll just give you a slight bump when I pass your ass for the win.” He then looks on surprised.

“That’s some pretty tough talk there for a gal who has only two career wins to her credit, against someone who has hoisted a championship. Are you sure you’re up for the challenge?”

“Is that a bet, Christopher?” Christopher glances back out the windshield, before turning back to her with a serious face.

“You’re on, Ms. Ott. Be prepared to be embarrassed when you lose.” She just chuckles, before going to leave the shop. She couldn’t help but take a glance back and smile in watching him climb out, though.

It was now certainly going to be a really fun weekend.

Thursday, August 16 – Bristol Motor Speedway

The first day of the weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway was filled with lots of action for both Chase and Sarina, as it was alternating practices between the trucks and XFINITY Series.

The day started out strong as Sarina was ninth in the first truck series practice, but confident in how comfortable the truck felt despite not being up there in the top-three with Christopher.

She had walked over to the No. 23 pit during the quick break between sessions, knowing that Chase would be in a good mood after timing in sixth quickest.

“Can you go tell Christopher to slow down, please?” He questions as she walks over, just earning a chuckle in response. It wasn’t a surprise to see Christopher fastest with Kyle second, either.

“I’ll see if the guys can distract him for you, okay?” She replies, snagging a quick kiss. “I can’t stay for long, but I wanted to come see you…” He glances into her eyes, brushing a strand of hair off of her face.

“I don’t have a problem with that – just make sure your boyfriend over there isn’t jealous.” She rolls her eyes, knowing that Christopher’s pit wasn’t far from Chase’s.

“Let him be jealous all he wants because I only have eyes for a handsome Georgia Peach.” He smiles back in response, before playfully glancing around.

“I don’t see no one that fits that description.” She then tugs at the collar on his firesuit, getting his attention.

“I’m talking about you, of course. No other man can ever take this heart.” She then snags another kiss, which he pushes his lips against hers more so this time than before. “I didn’t just come here to flirt, though.”

“Should I be worried?” She takes a deep breath as she reaches into the pocket of her firesuit, pulling out a folded piece of paper. She slowly unfolds it, handing it over.

“This got dropped off in the mail yesterday…” Chase was a little confused, but went with it anyway.

“Shelley….” It didn’t take long for the mood to be killed as he read the top of the notice and saw the name. “Why didn’t you show me this sooner?”

“I debated just throwing it in the trash, or burning it…” Chase holds it over the garbage can.

“I can drop it in if you wan-”

“At least read it first, please…” Chase was surprised with the request, but followed through anyway as he read the notice in full. Simply, it was an apology letter as she tried to once again reason for her actions before in trying to free Chris, and help everyone in the family along. “I don’t believe a single drop of her apology, nor do I want anything to do with her. I get what she says about not having much family, but I don’t care anymore. All I need is Lindsay – no one else as I’m done playing games. I’ve got what I need in you, Samantha, Kyle, Christopher, Rudy, and those around me.”

“So you’re not going to entertain this meeting that she wants to have?” Sarina shakes her head no as she snatches the piece of paper back from Chase.

“I just wanted you to be aware of the notice before I threw it out.” She then holds it over the garbage can, but he grabs it before she can drop it in. “What are you doing?”

“I think we should accept the mee-”

“Are you serious?!? We let Alison get close by believing her trail of words with Bethany. Haven’t we done enough?” Chase nods his head, knowing there was no way he was going back down any road like that ever again.

“I didn’t say we were accepting her apology or allowing her to get close to us, did I?” Sarina crosses her arms.

“You’re agreeing to a meeting with her-”

“I want to hear her intentions said out loud. I want to hear the direction that she is wishing to go. I want to hear why she reached out now. I want to hear what she intends for the future. Not because I’m willing to accept the apology or move forward with her, but because I want to know what we’re facing this time. We set the meeting up, make sure to alert authorities in case it goes south, and see what happens. Can you agree to that?” Sarina understood his approach, but still wasn’t wanting to open those family doors once again.

“I am only going to say yes right now because I want you to be comfortable with the situation. However, if I see anything off, then I’m ending this. Do we have a deal?” Chase nods his head in agreement as he hands her back the piece of paper.

“Figure out where she wants to meet, and when. I’ll make the phone calls afterwards.” Sarina nods her head, accepting, nervously, as she shoves the piece of paper back in her firesuit.

“Not a word of this is spoken to Lindsa-”

“Only if her life depends on it. If anything happens to her, that baby, or Ryan, we’ll have some sisters who will throttle our asses.” Sarina lets out a sigh, nodding her head as there was no denying that. As it was, she had heard enough from Emma already.

“Deal.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 90: Alison’s Story

Monday July 2, 2018

Chase takes his seat in the court room in the front row, watching as Sarina sits to his left with his father to his right. It didn’t surprise anybody to see Cindy sit in the same row alongside Bill, with Kyle alongside Sarina. With about room for five people per row, Alan and Jordan had taken the immediate seats behind Chase, along with Samantha, Ryan, and Lindsay.

While it was supposed to be important meeting day at Hendrick Motorsports, Chase was caught off-guard in seeing the rest of the team enter and take seats, ready to show their support as they each still wanted a piece of her for the bomb. Chase even questioned Alan about it, to only to be told, “Our own team meeting, and the group shop meeting was pushed back to tomorrow, as a show of support for you and Sarina.”

The bigger surprise was seeing Christopher and Morgan walk in to Sarina, but Christopher told her that he wanted to be there to support his best friend as much as he could.

“Are you okay?” Alan questions as he places a hand on Chase’s shoulder, earning a simple nod in response. Chase wanted to remain as strong as possible through this, and that meant showing least amount of emotion as possible because he knew that was Alison’s end game.

“Thanks for the advice Saturday by the way,” Chase offers as Alan smiles back in response. He didn’t care if he got the appreciation in return or not, as long as Chase took it to heart and did what he needed to do.

“All rise!” The court officer says, as everybody stands up. “Now presenting the honorable Judge Gus.” The judge enters, taking her spot as expected.

“Everybody may be seated,” the judge states, as Chase takes a shaky deep breath as he does so. He knew the next step was Alison’s entrance, and that’s where all the emotions would begin. “Bring her in…”

The doors to the right of the room open as an officer enters, holding Alison as her wrists remained bound together in handcuffs. She instantly looks over towards Chase as a smirk forms on her face.

“It’s so nice to see you again sweetheart,” she starts quietly. “Do you want to feel your baby?”

“How about you just reveal that your pregnant with somebody else’s kid?” Bill questions as he keeps a strong grip on Chase’s right hand.

“Ahh, is there a problem Grandpa?” She then smirks even more. “I can’t wait for family dinners together as the baby gro-”

“You’ll be rotting away in hell for what you did to my son,” Cindy snaps, earning a couple surprised glances as Bill reaches over for her hand, too.

“Order!” The judge instructs as he slams down the gravel. “I will not tolerate outbursts from individuals in the court room. We’re simply here to hear Alison say what happened to each count of guilty plea, to help determine her sentencing and whether the insanity plea is viable. Take the stand, young lady.”

“It’d be my pleasure as I’m sure momma dearest would like to hear how her son played right into my hands, right Chase?” She then takes her seat beside the judge, smirk still firmly planted on her face as she kept eyes locked directly on Chase. Chase just pointed his own gaze down, taking a deep breath, as he tried to remain as calm as possible, despite feeling the same panic that bit him the last time they were there.

“As I stated, we will begin with your guilty pleas – and then it’ll be up to you and your lawyer to discuss the non-guilty pleas. We want simple explanations for your actions, understood?” Alison finally takes her eyes off of Chase and looks over at the judge.

“Please, let me tell the tale of our estranged secret love affair….” The judge opens the file on her desk.

“In March 2018, you pled guilty to poisoning Mr. Chase Elliott’s drink. Why did you do that?” Alison smiles as she crosses her arms.

“I could always tell that he loved me from the first day that we crossed paths at the Hooters Pageant. That’s why he didn’t want me to win – because then I’d be off doing all these tours and such. However, I get that he’s a little quiet and reserved. I also get how he’s kind of stuck in a fake love situation with that chick. Sometimes a little gentle persuasion does the trick. I spiked his drink, figuring that maybe he’d give in once he got a taste of what a real woman can offer him.” Sarina just rolls her eyes in disgust as Chase fought the laughter that was willing to escape his lips.

Though of course he got the defense that Alison wanted to use in the fact that they were having a secret love affair behind Sarina’s back, because Chase wouldn’t want to break up with Sarina and prove everybody wrong in how she got her ride and how they initially got together. it was crazy enough to even seem a little believable – if any bit of having feelings for Alison was true.

“She’s certainly crazy,” Morgan whispers, earning a quiet chuckle and nod of approval from Christopher.

“We haven’t even got into the worst of it yet,” Christopher replies, remembering everything that he and Sarina had talked about together.

“You pled guilty to the attempted murder of Alan Gustafson. Why did you do that?” Alison lets out a sigh as she glances between Chase and the crew chief.

“I get it. I’m not the perfect princess and certainly how I entered Chase’s life is no saint of actions, either. So because of that, it seems everybody wants to judge me – including Chase’s parents it seems. Chase was just about to show me how much he loved in his trailer, when the crew chief showed up. I figured if I scared him, he’d go away and we could get the deed done. Meanwhile, I was never going to hit him….” Alan chuckles as he remembered looking straight down the barrel of the gun until he had jumped out of the way. The memory made him take a pause, and thank himself for his lucky graces that day. “If I may, your honor, I would like to detail the events in the trai-”

“That’ll be for another time, unless you want to plead guilty to sexual assault as you are charged.” Alison then looks over at Chase shocked.

“You charged me with sexual assault after you brought on that kiss yourself? Wow, I’m impressed how far you’ll cover for your poor decision to sleep with that tramp and regret it later.” Chase looks down, shaking his head as he regretted every single moment there. Why did he let any of it go on as far as he did?

“The only regret that we have is not knocking your head off sooner!” Cindy comments, earning another round of surprise glances around the room.

“Mom!” Chase lets out as he looks over at her, shocked himself. Cindy was normally the one in control of the family, and every situation. However, that was now her second outburst of the day.

“Anymore outbursts from Ms. Cindy Elliott and you could be held in contempt,” the judge warns as Cindy just laughs. It was irony how the judge was willing to throw the innocent in jail, but yet at one time had enabled Alison’s escape. “Ms. Elliott….”

“Mom, please….” Chase reaches over Bill’s lap, placing his hand on hers. “I need you here with me so please listen. I know your angry, and so am I. There’s so many things that I want to tell her, but we need to let this go on as it is, and I need you here for me….”

“What did you want to tell me, Chasey-boo?” Alison then questions, snatching his attention away from Cindy. “Did you want to admit to the world that you love me?” He then laughs as he shakes his head back in response.

“Try again, bitch….”

“That’s enough from you too, Mr. Elliott,” the judge states. “In May 2018, you pled guilty to kidnapping Sarina Ott in the state of Tennessee. Explain why you did that, please.” Alison lets out a sigh as she glances at the pair.

“That should be obvious now,” she starts. “It’s clear that Chase loves me more than her, and has only kept her out of protection of his own career, decisions, and kind-heart in not wanting to leave her stranded on the side of a road. That said, she always gets in the way of our love – despite knowing that she’ll never be first in his life. I had to get her out of the way so I could really show Chase what he meant to me, and maybe convince him to let her go.” Chase just shakes his head as he tries to ignore every bit of reasoning out of her mouth as nothing made sense or was even believable no matter what planet you lived on.

“Who in their right mind would believe that Chase loved her more than Sarina?” Alan wonders out-loud, earning a glance from either side of him.

“A sociopath, which is what Alison is,” Samantha starts. “She doesn’t understand what other people feel, therefore not knowing the consequences of her actions. She doesn’t understand that Chase’s reaction to her was not out of love, but out of fear and pain. Combined with that, she’s a manipulative bitch who will do whatever she wants to get whatever she needs. She went after Chase for a reason, Alan….” Alan glances back at her.

“Opportunity to land herself in fame and fortune, hence trying to pawn a pregnancy off….” Samantha nods her head in agreement as she looks back towards Alison.

“We have reached the end of your guilty pleas,” the judge states, surprising everybody. “There was also charges of stalking, attempted murder in Florida, sexual assault in a trailer, assault via tripping an individual, robbery of a ring, and sexual assault.” Chase lets out a sigh as he knew those would all take forever, and brought forth the most pain, million times worse than what they had addressed. “Would you like to discuss these charges?”

“I don’t see how there’s any point because I didn’t do those things, right?” Alison offers, before looking back towards Chase with a smirk. “I’d rather talk about my baby with my future daddy. I want to know his feelings, whether he thinks it’s a boy or a girl, and any name ideas he has. Oh, and please tell me that there’s a baby shower coming. I’d assume your mommy is planning it, right?” Alison then rubs her stomach as her smirk widens. “I remember the night that we conceived this baby, every single detail. Your skin was so smooth, so soft, and I just took in every single inch. I took you long and hard, and slow so I could savor it all – and you just let me knowing that I had total control and were in love….”

Chase focuses his eyes on the ground, taking a shaky deep breath as he tries to make the hot tears that were forming in his eyes go away. He felt his stomach flip flop immediately as a clear image entered his mind upon each of her words.

“I remember how you laid back in bed, telling me that I could do whatever I wanted that night,” Alison continues in a low, seducing voice. “I remember stripping you down to nothing. I remember leaving that mark on your neck, and you saying how you’d treasure that until our next meeting. I remember when I first tasted you, and how I couldn’t get enough. you went hard immediately for me, and I just took it from there baby, and woah it was a night of pure hot sexual joy. Chase, do you remember, baby?”

“Chase….” Bill says quietly as he maintains his firm grip on Chase’s hand. “Ignore her. She’s just doing this to get under your skin and make it crawl. Just close your eyes, and block it out. You know that never happened like she said….”

“Oh Bill, you just wish that was the case so that way you can stay in your crystal ball of belief in that your son has the perfect engagement to Sarina. After all, you liked her too since she drove a late model that you owned, right? It’s okay to realize that your son’s first love isn’t what it seems and there’s a dirty little secret. I mean, your first love didn’t work out either.” Bill didn’t care what she was saying, as his eyes and focus remained on Chase, just wanting to do whatever he needed to help him get through this.

“Can we put a gag order on her already?” Christopher demands from his seat, earning even more surprised glances as he wasn’t one to freak out on a nature.

“Oh Bell, I’m glad that you’re here,” Alison starts next, earning a surprised glance on both Christopher and Morgan’s faces. “It’d be great if you could explain to the court how you and Sarina have been having some great weekends together. I mean, I couldn’t believe that article that was released. How amazing how you guys were caught already. I should’ve given you some more pointers on those secrets, huh? But it’s great because you can reveal your love to Sarina, and I can reveal mine for Chase. I just feel bad for precious Morgan and how she’ll be left out….” Christopher’s frustration was set to hit a new height as his hand immediately formed a fist.

“Relax,” Morgan told him as she placed both of her hands on top of her fist. “We talked about this, Christopher. I know what you mean to me, and what we mean to each other. I also know the friendship that you have with Sarina, and I will never be jealous or think it is more. She is just doing pawning her deed off to you to try and get to you and Chase more. She wants to get us all feuding so we break apart more…”

“How about you stop telling your damn dreams and speak about reality for once in your bloody life?” Cindy questions. “I’m sorry but I don’t care what that judge says. I will not bother to sit here and listen to you twist words and situations to torture people. You deserve every bit of sentence you get, and I hope you rot away to little bits and pieces. Better yet, I hope you find someone in prison that can torture you just like you’ve tortured my son.”

“You’re just afraid to admit it as well, sweetheart,” Alison states with a grin on her face as she lets out a laugh. “Isn’t it great that we’re finally talking about it, though? I’m glad that we’re getting it out in the open…..” She then looks back towards Chase. “I just wish you’d say something to me, please….”

“That’s enough!” The judge finally states as she looks towards Alison. “You’ve explained what you did, and you had a chance to defend yourself and didn’t choose to accept it. We’re done.” She then looks back out to the courtroom. “As for everybody else in here, I already warned you once and I’ll let it be known again – outbursts will land you in contempt.”

“It took her quite a while to speak out,” Cindy whispers, earning another stern glance from Bill.

“We will re-convene at a later date to begin testimony from the prosecution with their witnesses, including victims. I hope everybody is better behaved then. Court adjourned!”

The judge leaves, followed by the officer with Alison. Everybody else files out of the court room, except Chase who still sat frozen with his little circle surrounding him.

“Chase, talk to us, please….” Alan offers as he places a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m fine,” he replies as he glances up for the first time in awhile. “She is sick and twisted, and that’s all she was trying to do there – get under our skin, get a reaction, satisfy herself. It worked considering some of the things that were said.” He then takes a deep breath. “But I’m strong, and I’m going to get through this. I don’t care what she says. I’m fine. Everything that she just said is a total fictional imagination and I can’t wait till that is thrown out.”

“You did a great job handling yourself today,” Bill comments as he stands up, taking Cindy’s hand as he does so. “Call me if you need me, okay?” Chase accepts, nodding his head, as his parents head out together.

“For once, do you think Dad will be giving the lecture instead of Mama?” Alan and Sarina offer a light chuckle in response. “Seriously, though, I am okay. It took a lot to block out what she was saying and not create my own theories again, but I’m fine.” He then looks over at Sarina. “Besides, you’re my focus.”

“Chase, I told you the other night that I’d do anything for you,” Sarina starts. “That includes being there for you as much as you need me, too. You don’t need to put up a fron-”

“I’m not,” he replies. “Besides, we have an appointment to get to and that’s what should matter most here.”

“I know that’s on our minds, but I care more about how you’re doing. So please, let me be there…” Chase takes a deep breath as he slowly stands up.

“I’m fine. One day at a time. I’m ready to just move forward…..”

“Remember what I’ve always told you – don’t let it eat you,” Alan warns as he gives him one final pat on the shoulder. “Call me if you need me – both of you.”

“You have my word,” Chase replies, giving the crew chief a hug, before looking back towards Sarina. “I’m not lying to you. She didn’t bother me today because my number one focus was you. I knew as soon as she focused on that baby, she wanted to get under our skins about that and I knew to look towards you.” He then pulls Sarina close. “We’re going to be okay…..”

“I know that,” she replies as she looks into his eyes. “I love you, always….” She then leans in for a kiss.

********

“I appreciate your patience with the appointment scheduling,” the doctor states. “I reviewed your file multiple times, hoping to find something that may have been missed. I even had a couple colleagues in the surgical department review it, as well as other fertility specialist. I know this is news that nobody ever wants to hear, but in my view, it would be impossible with the shape of your uterus to carry a baby full-term.”

“Okay,” Sarina replies quietly as Chase wraps both arms around her, holding her close.

“If there’s anything that I can do to make the process easier to handle, please let me know. I’m willing to fully break down everything we’ve gathered with you. If you need help in moving forward, please do not hesitate to ask. I can get you in contact with potential councilors, as well as answer any questions about the previous options discussed.  Please remember that there’s no timetable on making that next decision, or dealing with any pain that you are feeling right now…”

“Thank you.” Sarina then takes a deep breath as she glances back over her shoulder at Chase. “To be honest, I’d come to the reality of what was to be my future as a potential mother. I just wanted to hear it a second time so I could actually move forward knowing that I’d tried my options. It’s not ideal, but like everything else, we’ll get through this. And when that day comes that we want to be parents, I’m sure we can work out an option that’s suitable for us both.”

“I’m behind you no matter what you decide,” Chase offers, kissing her shoulder.

Though in the back of his mind, the words from Alison in court began to replay in his mind. What if he had blacked out what happened just like he had suggested to Alan on Saturday? What if Alison was actually having his kid?

Shaking his head, he knew he couldn’t wonder about that right now as it was just Alison to play games to make him believe those things. Besides, his focus was right here and now, and being there when Sarina needed him most.