The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 227: Sarina’s Testimony

Wednesday, April 10 – Phoenix, Arizona – 9 weeks old

Chase follows Sarina through the door, before wrapping both arms around her.

“It’s okay, no matter what happens today,” he tells her quietly as he lays his head on her shoulder. “No matter what, it’s going to be okay. Just remember what I told you – focus on me, Christopher, anything but him. Do not give him that power to manipulate your thoughts. Don’t let him scare you. You’re absolutely amazing, the strongest person that I know. I love you.” He then gives her a light kiss on the cheek.

“I love you, too,” she replies quietly as she instantly relaxes back against him. “I can do this. I have to do this.” She then takes a deep breath, trying to get all of her thoughts in order. “I just need to say what happened – that’s it. The bare minimum and we’re done.”

“You’ll be fine, sweetheart, because know that no matter what, I’ve got your back.” She nods her head, accepting. “We both know there are plenty of other people who will do anything for you – but I can promise you that none of them will top what I will do for you. A promise is a promise.”

“Chase, I know.” She then reaches up, clutching his hands that wrapped around her with her own. “You don’t need to keep harping on that. I know the promise that you made, and I know you intend to do whatever it takes to keep that. If there’s a single hang-up with that, I’m not upset or mad. I know I can trust you and you’d do anything.”

“Chase….” Alycia says, getting his attention. She then nods for him to come forward with her, as he takes a deep breath.

“I love you,” he tells Sarina once more, before giving her another lasting kiss. He then slowly lets go, each finger one at a time, as he walks away from her. He then goes and takes his seat alongside Alycia, eyes focused totally forward. He didn’t even want to glance to the left at Carter, as he knew his blood would boil immediately in knowing what Sarina was going through today.

“We’ve got your back,” Christopher says as he sits down alongside Sarina, catching her attention as she simply nods her head back in return. While his hand clutch kept her wits together the last time, that wouldn’t be possible this time around.

“All rise!” The baliff states, as everyone stands up in the court room once again as they had done the weeks prior. “Presenting the Honorable Judge Jackson Pruitt.” All eyes focus forward as they watch Jackson walk out, taking his seat before all of them.

“You may be seated,” the judge instructs, as everyone follows suit. Sarina takes a deep breath, feeling her heart beating faster in her chest. It was only a matter of seconds now before everything began. “May the prosecution please call upon their second witness.”

“The prosecution would like to call Mrs. Sarina Elliott,” the district attorney Kyle Gates instructs. Sarina takes a deep breath, slowly standing up. She only stops slightly, feeling a slight hand squeeze and nod from Christopher.

“Just do your thing as you know how to do best,” Christopher whispers with a small smile before letting go of her hand. She then makes her way up to the front, taking a seat in the witness box. She then takes a deep breath, remembering Chase’s words in not making sure to glance at Carter. She forced herself to glance in that direction, though, catching his brown eyes immediately. She tried to soak up every bit of energy, knowing that it could only downhill from here.

“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?” The balif asks, catching Sarina’s attention as she looks forward at him.

“I do,” she replies, before turning her eyes back to Chase once again. Taking a deep breath, she had to do this no matter how difficult for everything that he was dealing with right now. She had to do this to prove he was right with his actions. She had to do this to prove that Carter needed to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

“Mrs. Elliott, when did you first encounter Carter Williams?” District attorney Kyle Gates asks, catching Sarina’s attention. She had wanted to find a trust with him, knowing that he was simply asking the questions and leading her down this path to prove what was on the floor. She had to make herself believe no matter what that he was on their side, even if he was also in charge of the prosecution against Chase, too. It was the only way that she could go about this so she could say everything that was necessary.

“When he took a shot at my husband.” It was Chase’s turn to glance over, actually surprised at how direct her comment.

“Objection – allegedly shot,” Carter’s attorney Nellie Martin states. Sarina ignored every bit of the comment, wanting to focus on the strength that she was trying to channel so she could move through this smoothly as possible.

“The witness will certainly back up her claim forth coming with her testimony,” Kyle reasons as Sarina glances towards the judge. Was he actually as bad as he seemed in handling Chase’s situation?

“Overruled,” Judge Jackson Pruitt states, which Sarina wanted to smile immediately at. It was like a small victory here. “It is the jury’s discretion to decide Mr. Williams’ guilt based on the happenings in this court – hence why we’re here for these proceedings. Continue with your questioning, Mr. Gates.”

“Please tell the court what happened…” Sarina takes a deep breath, thinking back to that night. The initial flashbacks were easy to encounter, as she remembered stories and dances shared with friends. She chuckled to herself in remembering how the girls took over the dance floor sitting Brittney Spears.

“I was enjoying my wedding night with friends – dancing, hanging out,” Sarina starts as she thinks back to when her phone rang. “My phone rang, and I was honestly surprised to see Chase was calling me. I was then even more surprised when he told me that he was stranded and he wanted to me to come get him. However, I immediately accepted using the tracker on the Iphone to locate where he was.”

“Let cell phone records from Mr. Chase Elliott to Mrs. Sarina Elliott indicate that a phone call was made just past midnight,” Kyle Gates states as he lays down a piece of paper before the jury. Sarina was actually surprised at the timeline, not realizing it was that late when she received the phone call. “You didn’t go to see Mr. Elliott yourself, though…”

“I was pregnant at time, due to with my baby girl in March. I was ready to leave, when Christopher saw me and asked me where I was going. I told him and he insisted no matter what that I wasn’t to go alone and he was coming. I finally gave in, allowing both him and his fiancé Morgan to come with us.” Christopher felt a bit of fear as he thought back to that conversation, fearful as to what could’ve happened if he would’ve let her go by herself as originally discussed.

“What happened when you arrived at the destination?” Sarina could feel as a shiver as she saw the empty, cold road in her mind.

“It was a random empty road in the middle of nowhere – we almost missed it, actually. But we rolled up and sure enough, there was the truck pulled to the side of the road with the hood up. We walked over and Christopher tried to help Chase solve the problem. They couldn’t figure it out, so they settled on calling for a tow. As they debated who to call, that’s when we heard a rustle in the woods and the three men appeared.” Chase takes a deep breath as he thinks the whole thing over in his mind. What if he would’ve just called for a tow initially instead?

“Can you please tell me which three men appeared from the field?” Sarina felt it was pointless, considering Chase told this same story last week. However, she wasn’t about to question the ways of the court if it meant clearing everything up.

“Sasha, Steve, and Carter..” She glances down as soon as Carter’s name rolls off her tongue, feeling vomit in her mouth immediately.

“Pleas continue telling what happened….” She then glances down, remembering the series of conversation that occurred.

“I don’t remember the exact conversation, but Chase and Carter were discussing things back and forth. In the midst of that, Carter looked straight at Morgan, asking her to stop dialing the number she was dialing in her pocket. We were then instructed to drop everything on the ground, where he smashed our phones immediately. Chase was ready for us to be let go, but yet Carter told us he wasn’t done yet.” Sarina’s eyes remain focused on the ground, remembering the next set of words clear as day.

“Then what happened, Mrs. Elliott?” She takes a shaky deep breath, trying to remember every piece of advice that she was offered from both Chase and Alycia before taking the stand today.

“Chase stepped forward to protect us, and that’s when Carter said, ‘Do you really think that it was the lady that I wanted? Although, she would be a nice quick fuck right here’.” Sarina feels the tears begin to roll down her cheeks as soon as the words left her mouth, immediately having flashbacks to the incident in the trailer. She then takes a series of deep breathes, trying to force herself to calm down immediately.

“Mrs. Elliott, please continue, taking your time as you do please…” Sarina feels the tears begin to intensify as she feels the flashbacks blur together, knowing exactly what happened next as they stood on the side of the road that night.

“Chase was set on protecting me, and he told Carter that. Carter then said it’d be easy to get rid of him, and shot him in the shoulder…” Sarina closes her eyes, trying to block out every piece of fear she felt in that moment, focusing on the fact that they were both okay. She tried to find herself envisioning the butterfly that he wore in that spot now. She had to be strong for not only herself, but for Chase, Abigail, and their future as a family. “I immediately focused on him, fell to my knees, just sick of worry. I don’t even remember what Christopher, Carter, and Morgan discussed next because I was so damn focused on Chase. I was so scared that in that moment….” She then shakes her head, not even wanting to process that thought as she briefly looks over at him, catching his eyes. “It wasn’t long till Morgan and Christopher were down by his side with me. I was in such a panic, and yet they took charge of the situation. They both began discussing what to do, leading us to the cabin, getting me comfy on the couch with my pregnancy while they took him in the bedsroom to take care of him.”

“How long were you at the cabin before?” Sarina hated to think about that feeling, knowing that it felt like an eternity.

“A couple of days before Christopher fixed Chase’s truck enough so we could drive into town and get help.” She smiled at remembering the relief she felt when Christopher came in the cabin saying that it was up and running.

“What about the vehicle that you rode to the scene in?” Sarina could only think of one explanation, despite not cluing into that moment herself.

“They drove away in it – Sasha, Steve, and Carter. That was their escape with our money.” She watches as Kyle walks back to the desk, picking a series of papers.

“Let these papers show the charges that Sasha and Steve pled guilty too, in relation to robbery against Christopher Bell and harassment, among other charges.” Sarina could tell by Kyle’s demeanor without even a word being spoken where there the discussion was going next. She’d gotten this far without any issues. She could do this. She had to do this. “Mrs. Elliott, when was the next time that you saw Mr. Williams?”

“Atlanta Motor Speedway….in….the hauler…” She then takes a deep breath, trying to clear her thoughts as she could feel every ounce of pain and disgust beginning to come back in that very moment once again.

“Mrs. Elliott, can you please tell the court what happened?” She wanted to shake her head no and say that she couldn’t do it. She wanted to run out there, curl up in a corner and just break down crying. However, she couldn’t do that. She had to be strong for her family.

“Chase and I were talking in the garage area. I then left to head back to the JR Motorsports hauler so I could get changed into my firesuit for the race that afternoon. I headed inside, and I could hear someone behind me. But, I didn’t think anything of it. I mean, it’s the team hauler. It’s race day. There’s always traffic in and out of the hauler. I just thought it was a random crew member so I headed up to the lounge.” She then glances down, almost kicking herself in the ass for not turning around and saying something. Would that had changed the course of what happened?

“Then what happened?” She takes a deep breath, feeling the tears already beginning to trickle down her face as she struggled to find her voice. Every bit of pain and disgust fought against allowing her to speak, sending her stomach into fits.

“I stopped at the closet, grabbed my firesuit. I then headed up into the lounge, went to shut the door and someone stopped me from doing that. I stated that I was getting changed, as I would normally do as that’d tell the crew guys that they needed to wait five minutes. However, that’s when I heard this voice. He then said, ‘What if I don’t want the lounge to myself?’ I finally turned around and saw him standing right there before me.” Just like in that moment in the hauler, the color had drained immediately from her face in saying the words out loud in the court room.

“What did you do once you realized it was Carter?” She feels the tears getting heavier, streaming down her face steadily now as she tries to find her voice once again. She had to do this. She had come so far.

“I tried to scream, but he put his hand against my mouth. I fought as hard as I could, but he pushed me inside, shutting the door. I kept fighting, I swear I fought as I hard as I could – but I couldn’t do anything. He had me pinned against the wall. I kicked him in the nuts, but that didn’t even cause him to budge a single inch. He pulled me back, kept me pinned there once again.  He then began to strip me, taking my jeans off, followed by my underwear.” She then glances over towards Chase, trying to find the security that she felt when she first got on the stand. She needed the strength more than ever as all she wanted to do was curl up, and break down into the worst breakdown possible. She just felt sick to her stomach beyond anything.

“Please continue as you may….” She didn’t want to. She couldn’t do this. She couldn’t – no, she had to do this. No matter how sick and disgusted it made her, even if she vomited in the next couple of seconds, the words needed to be said.

“He undid his own jeans, stripping out of them along with his underwear. He then held down on the couch, sitting my face, forcing his dick in my mouth. I bit it, I kept fighting, I did what I could – I swear I did what I could. I tried everything that I could. But it wasn’t enough. He forced me to swallow his cock, as he forced his fingers up inside me, as deep as he could go…” She feels the vomit rise in her mouth that very moment, “I’m going to be….” She swings around, seeing the garbage pail by the judge’s leg. She then reaches over, grabbing it, immediately dumping the full contents of her stomach in it.

“Mrs. Elliott, are you okay?” She then sits back in the chair afterwards, nodding her head. Despite knowing that she was a total mess, feeling as sick as she could to her stomach, tears streaming at a steady rate, there was no way that she could leave there now.

“He finally stopped after a while and left. I was so disgusted that I went and found the first shower that I could, washing every single bit of him off of me. Then I went and told Chase what happened. He barely convinced me to say something.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” Kyle states as he takes his seat.

“We are going to continue with the procee-” Judge Jackson Pruitt begins as Sarina shakes her head no, immediately.

“I want to do this – every bit of this – today,” she insists, catching the judge’s attention. She wasn’t about to take the sympathy road now. Besides, with the truth stated, it was all downhill from here.

“Are you absolutely certain that you can handle cross-testimony?” She wipes her mouth, taking a deep breath, trying to find whatever composure that she could.

“Yes sir.” The judge then looks over at the defendant’s table.

“Questioning may continue with the defense.” Sarina focuses on trying to get herself calm as possible, hearing the shuffle as she knew Nellie Marlin was ready to have her say.

“There’s no physical evidence connecting your husband’s gunshot to my client, is there?” Nellie Marlin questions and Sarina looks at her confused. Was that same question that she asked Chase last week?

“No,” she replies. “My husband was just shot, and I was pregnant at the time. The last thing I am going to be worrying about is fingerprints and proof and a damn gun. I was worried about my husband’s well-being and making sure my daughter was okay.” Christopher had to smile as he watched the strength he knew she held so well was coming through. He also smiled in remembering the small time they spent on the couch together at the cabin, as he calmed her down that night.

“You also didn’t recall the full conversation so what if your husband brought on what happened?” Sarina chuckles immediately as she shakes her head.

“My husband isn’t the type to go causing fights. He actually pushes a lot of things under the bush, because that’s not his style. I can assure you that his focus that night was making sure that we stayed safe despite being threatened by your client and his friends.” She couldn’t bring herself to say Carter’s name, but she wasn’t about to simply back away either.

“There’s no proof of the sexual encounter, either….” Sarina glances down, instantly regretting that. However, in that moment, she just wanted to get every bit of him off of her skin.

“I was in shock, disgusted, and I didn’t want to feel a single bit of that any longer than I had to.” Chase held some of that regret, knowing that he had done the same thing when he ran into Alison as well. He understood more than anybody in that room probably as to why she did what she did, and he didn’t blame her one single bit.

“What if you were cheating on your husband and this is a simple cover-up for being caught? What if this whole getting sick thing is an act?” Sarina’s jaw drop in pure shock in hearing the accusations. She then takes a deep breath, eying Nellie right in the eyes.

“Then obviously you don’t know what it feels like to have someone take advantage of you, make you feel small, and rip everything that you know from you. I can’t even begin to describe the disgust, the pain, everything that I’ve felt in the weeks since your client laid his hands on me. Your theory is sick, just as sick as you standing here defending his disgusting actions. Besides, if there was any proof or anybody saw anything, I damn well would’ve brought that to this court to make sure that it proved his guilt.” Chase nods his head, almost wanting to hug her immediately right then and there as it was the perfect comeback.

“I’m done…” Nellie Marlin then turns away and takes her seat, as Sarina sits there satisfied. She had taken each question and made sure it was twisted right back on her. She could only hope that was enough for the jury to see through everything that had occurred here today.

“I just want to start off by saying that I feel terrible for everything that you’ve been through,” Alycia Burrows states as she stands up and makes her way. “I fully sympathize with everything that you’ve stated. I just want to clarify that you told Chase every single detail of what happened, correct?” Sarina nods her head, as she glances over at him.

“I told him every single detail that I could in that moment despite how upset I was about what had happened. I trust him with my life. He knows every single one of my secrets. He knows all of my secrets. I turned to him completely because I knew that he’d take care of me.” Chase smiles, blowing her a small kiss in the process.

“We’ve already shown in the court that he went through a similar series of events with Ms. Alison Reynolds. Did he go through a period of time where he was just as upset as you have seemed to be today?” Sarina lets out a sigh, not wanting to think back to some of those days.

“He would shudder at my simple touch, scared that it’d remind  him of something that she did. I woke up in the middle of the night due to him crying, and I’d hold him through those nights to comfort him. We talked on several different occasions about his emotions. Just like he’s been here for me willing to do whatever it took to help me, I was there for him when it came to her.” Chase takes a deep breath, not wanting to think back through those nights, either. However, he was thankful for every single second that she was there. That’s why he wanted to be sure to be there with Sarina every step of the way now.

“Thank you for your time.” Alycia then takes a seat back beside Chase, giving him a simple nod.

“You may step down,” the judge instructs as Sarina slowly walks away from the witness stand. “That is it for today. Court adjourned!” As soon as the words escaped the judge’s mouth, Chase stood up, and walked over to where Sarina was, pulling him against her.

“It’s okay, I got you…” He tells her, holding her as tightly as he can against him. “I got you….”

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 221: Chase’s Testimony

April 2, 2019 – Phoenix, Arizona – 8 weeks old

Chase leaned back against the wall, thinking over everything that he was supposed to say that afternoon. It was just par for the course, walk in there and say what happened. He just needed to stay level-headed like he always did, explain each detail as Alycia told him that’d take care of everything accordingly.

He then closes his eyes, taking a deep breath, letting his mind run through everything one more time.

“Sarina….” He lets out, feeling a wave of confusion. He wanted to know so badly what happened, but also wanted to comfort her if that’s what she needed. “Just tell me you’re okay, please.”

“I’m okay physically,” she answers, which gives him a new sense of nerves. What could have happened to have her so shaken up?

“Can you tell me what happened?” He feels her shake against him upon hearing the words, as his firesuit becomes more soaked with tears.

“Carter came to see me….” He almost wanted to interrupt at the thought of Carter coming to see her, having so many questions. How was that possible with security? Where did it happen? How did he get in the infield? However, he didn’t want to stop her. Though upon hearing his name, he felt a new fear immediately come over him – flashing back to the bathroom in the Bristol hotel once again.

“Sarina, did he rape you?” She shakes her head no immediately, swallowing the vile that threatened to rise with the thought of that in her mind. She knew that was easily possible, considering how quickly he was able to take control of the situation.

“He took my jeans off, his jeans off…” She then takes a deep breath, sniffing among the tears that continued to fall, trying to bury herself more into Chase if even possible. “He forced his cock in my mouth while he fingered me. The harder I bit, the deeper he went.”

“Chase, are you okay?” Chase hears, snapping him out of his thoughts as he looks over at his father. He takes a deep breath, glancing down at his hand as he sees the fist that had been clenched tight, knuckles turning white.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he replies as he keeps taking deep breath in an effort to get himself calm. He then finally glances up at his dad. “I’m fine, I promise.” Bill reaches out to his hand, as Chase slowly breaks the fist that he had formed.

“This isn’t like you….” Chase knew that as he glanced down at his hand himself.

“I know, but how would you feel if someone went after mom like he went after Sarina?” Bill takes a deep breath, already knowing the answer to that. “I just want to get this over with, okay?”

He then takes another deep breath, before heading inside as he was supposed to, taking his seat accordingly. He knew it wouldn’t last long with being called up to the witness box.

“I see you managed to change the terms of your bail already,” he hears, breath hitching in his throat, fingers tensing up at merely hearing the voice. “What? Cat got your tongue?”

“Carter….” Carter’s attorney Nellie Marlin warns, before turning her eyes on Chase. “I hope your lawyer informed you that it was going to get brought up today.” Chase remembered seeing the text message on Monday, but hadn’t bothered to care. It was just another way of them trying to play with the system against him, and he wasn’t going to bite.

“It was a safety hazard; that’s the only reason the agreement was put in place,” he offers, eyes still locked forward. “I have it on right now, so that’s what matters. Truthfully, your client deserves it more than I do.”

“Chase….” It was now Alycia Burrow’s turn to warn Chase for his comments.

“All rise!” The baliff states, causing everyone in the court room to stand up. “Presenting the Honorable Judge Jackson Pruitt.” Chase watches the judge come in, and take his seat accordingly. He wasn’t looking forward to seeing him again, considering how everything went the last meeting.

“You may be seated,” the judge instructs, as everybody sits down. Chase glances down, taking a couple deep breaths, counting down the minutes until he was sitting up there. “We will begin the trial by hearing what the prosecution has to offer about the case.”

“Actually, we do have a matter that needs to be addressed first,” District Attorney Kyle Gates begins, as Chase rolls his eyes. He could only wonder the direction this was going to head. “While it is not important to myself as I accept the terms, Carter Williams’ lawyer was concerned about an adjustment made to Mr. Chase Elliott’s bail by the bail officer this past weekend.”

“We believe it presents a security risk in giving Mr. Elliott more leeway to possible flee from the situation,” Nellie Martin pleads, almost causing Chase to let out a chuckle.

“As my client explained to the officer, it was a pure safety issue surrounding comfort and fire hazard,” Alycia Burrows states, as Chase recalled the conversation he had with her explaining the series of events from Friday at the track. “His firesuit does not fit properly with the device on him, tightly as it needs to be for protection. It also proves to be a hazard should a fire or accident happen. Lastly, it was uncomfortable to the point that my client could not clearly perform his duties as specified, which we agreed would be allotted within his bail reasons.”

“I’ve spoken with the officer and he told me about the conversation that he had with Mr. Elliott on Friday,” the judge begins as Chase silently crosses his fingers. “He broke down the full agreement that they made together, and was pleased to report that Mr. Elliott fulfilled the call within an hour of race completion on Sunday. If Mr. Elliott continues to comply, I am willing to allow this amendment. However, the minute it is broken in anyway, there will be no wiggle room. Are you clear with that, Mr. Elliott?”

“Yes sir,” Chase simply replies, with a nod. He hadn’t planned on breaking the terms anyway, but he knew that it meant should a single one get broken he was doomed.

“Now, can we begin the trial as originally scheduled?” The district attorney Kyle Gates stands up, clearing his throat as he looks over at Chase.

“The prosecution would like to call their first witness, which is Mr. Chase Elliott,” Kyle states. Chase takes a deep breath, before standing and making his way up to the front. He then takes his seat in the witness box, remembering the process from when he was there the last time on behalf of Alison. Taking a deep breath, he shakes off that feeling in remembering how shaky that entire trail of events was with the emotions at play. It made him feel terrible in knowing Sarina would go through a familiar feeling eventually.

“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?” The balif asks and Chase takes a deep breath, locking his eyes on Carter. If he wanted to play this game, it was time to play the cards that he was dealt.

“I do,” he states, before taking a deep breath, as he glances over at Sarina. He knew for her sake, for the protection of his family, that he had to do his due diligence.”

“Mr. Elliott, when did you first encounter Carter Williams?” District attorney Kyle Gates asks as he makes his way over. Chase takes a deep breath, almost smiling as he thought about what occurred before that fateful night.

“January 6 of this year.” Sarina couldn’t help but smile as she said the date in her head, knowing that would forever be engrained no matter that. That was the day that she was officially Ms. Sarina Elliott.

“Why is the date so easy to remember for you?” Chase smiles, as the entire wedding played through his thoughts.

“That was the day that I got married to my wife Sarina.” Sarina smiles, glancing down at the ring that she had worn on her finger every day since.

“Please tell the court what happened….” Chase takes a deep breath, thinking back to the evening after the dinner and ceremonies.

“I had a lot of stuff on my mind as it was still fresh after everything that I had gone through with Alison Reynolds.” He then pauses, once again wiping those thoughts from his mind – despite every disgusted feeling he felt sitting in the same spot for her trial. “I thought that I would go for a drive, just to clear my head, and then return back to the wedding. I wasn’t paying attention where I was going, just simply focused on trying to erase those thoughts and think through everything. As I headed down the road, the truck sputtered and quit, leaving me stranded in the middle of nowhere.”

“When you realized that you were stranded, what did you do?” Sarina smiles as she remembered dancing with her friends, hearing her phone go off in her pocket. Thank Gosh for Samantha helping her choose a dress with hidden pockets – snack purposes, originally, being pregnant.

“I called my wife and I told her that I needed her to come get me. She showed up about a half hour later, along with Christopher Bell and his fiancé Morgan. Being pregnant, her attempt to leave the wedding alone wasn’t unnoticed and Christopher basically set it out that he was going to come with her.” Sarina glances over at Christopher, remembering just how smoothly the conversation went. She almost half-expected Christopher to kick Chase’s ass for asking her to come alone when they got there.

“What happened when Mrs. Elliott, Mr. Bell, and Ms. Kemenah got there?” Chase chuckles as he thinks back to the comments traded between him and Christopher in how the situation should’ve been handled. How different would things been if he would’ve called the crew or for a general tow as they discussed?

“He tried to look into the issue with me, but neither of us could figure it out. We then settled on calling a friend to come tow the truck, and we were about to do that. That’s when I heard a shuffle in the grass across the road, followed by seeing three men emerge from the field.” Sarina feels an in-volunteer shiver escape her, remembering the fear that flashed through her mind in that moment. She also admired how Christopher and Chase instinctively protected her and Morgan that night.

“Please detail that events that happened as you remember….” Chase takes a deep breath, thinking back to the very second that they first crossed paths.

“Mr. Williams told me that I was on the wrong side of town, and I began to try and explain what happened. I then told him that if could help us with a place that was open to tow the truck, we’d get out of his hair immediately. He told me it wasn’t that simple, and that’s when I caught first glimpse of the shot gun that he was holding. He then caught on that Morgan was trying to pocket dial 9-1-1, so he asked us all to drop our phones on the ground, along with our wallets.” Sarina had began to wonder since that night how close Morgan was fulfilling the call before the phone was destroyed.

“Then what happened, Mr. Elliott?” Chase takes a deep breath, locking his eyes on Carter as he thought about the entire trail of events. He wanted to make this clear as possible, so the jury knew how much of a threat that Carter truly was.

“I then asked if he was willing to let us go, which he said we weren’t done yet. I thought he meant that he wanted to touch the girls, so I stepped in front of Sarina and told him that wasn’t happening. He then made the comment, ‘Do you really think it was the lady that I wanted? Although, she would be a nice quick fuck right here’. I then restated that it wasn’t happening because he’d have to go through me.”  Sarina glances down, feeling the hot tears began to roll down her cheeks, as she feels a hand clutch hers. She didn’t even need to look up to know that it was Christopher’s.

“Then what happened, Mr. Elliott?” Chase glances away from Carter, looking straight at Kyle, knowing that it needed to be stated clearly as possible.

“He said it’d be ‘a very easy thing to do,’ and he popped off a shot off at me, hitting me in the shoulder. I fell back immediately, trying to put pressure on the wound.” He then feels a tinge there, reaching up to rub where he had been. It was comforting in a way to know what covered that now, his butterfly. “The rest is blurry, ranging from Christopher and Morgan helping me, to fighting through the following days, to waking up in the hospital.” Sarina takes a deep breath, remembering the worry that she felt through the entire experience. It just made her want to say thank you to Christopher and Morgan for the millionth time.

“With everything that’s been said, are you sure without a shadow of a doubt that it was Mr. Williams that shot you?” Chase looks over at Carter, before looking back to Kyle.

“Absolutely. I looked straight down the barrel as he pulled that trigger.” Sarina felt the tears increase, which only caused the hand clutch that she felt to increase as well.

“The next crime that Mr. Williams has been charged with is the sexual assault against your wife. Did you witness that?” Chase shakes his head no, knowing if he would’ve, that Carter would’ve had more than a couple fingers broken. “How did you find about that?”

“Sarina came into my hauler after it happened, looking visibly shook up. My crew chief Alan Gustafson got everybody else to leave, and she told me what happened.” Sarina takes a deep breath, trying to ease the tears and feelings that she was feeling as she thought back through everything in hearing Chase talk about things.

“When was the next time that Mr. Williams came up in discussion?” Chase remembered it clearly, remembering just how caught off-guard he was by the message from Laiken.

“I was at an appearance in Las Vegas and received a text message from Laiken Baumgartner that she wanted to discuss things. She asked me if I could meet up with her, but in secret, at the Hooters in Las Vegas once I was done.” Sarina didn’t even need to glance back to know that Laiken was probably now having the same flashbacks that she had just experienced. She remembered Chase coming home, telling her about the meeting, and being in the middle of freaking out and anger in knowing what was happening. Mostly, though, it was a panic from Sarina.

“Did you meet up with her?” Chase nods his head.

“The conversation is essentially heresay and should not be admitted for evidence,” Carter’s lawyer Nellie Martin states.

“That was not my intention your honor,” Kyle Gates clear things up immediately. “I just wanted to establish that Mr. Elliott was aware of Ms. Baumgartner’s interaction with Mr. Williams. I was going to have Ms. Baumgartner testify later on as to what happened herself.” Alycia Burrows had to smile, as she knew that’d help Chase’s case in building up as to why he did what he did.

“Motion accepted,” the judge comments as Chase takes a deep breath. He knew that meant there was only one thing on the table.

“Mr. Elliott, you have admitted to your approach to Mr. Williams in the No. 9 hauler. Can you please tell the courts what happened?” Chase fought the urge to smirk in remembering Carter’s complaints when it went down.

“I walked in the hauler, and saw that he was threatening Laiken,” Chase recalled, remembering the whole sequence of events in his head. “He was asking if she had told me about what happened, and she lied. Immediately upon hearing the voices, I yelled for him to leave her alone, pushed him back and held him against the couch in the lounge until the authorities got there.”

“Is there any truth to the rumor that you purposely broke a couple of his fingers in the process of those events?” Kyle Gates questions, which almost brought another smirk to Chase’s face, in knowing that he had accomplished his goal.

“I was doing what it took to keep him held there. If I broke a finger or two in the process, then I guess I did.” He almost wanted to say that he was glad, but bit his tongue.

“You told the police that you’d do it all over again because he was a ‘sick bastard’ and you’d do what it took to protect your wife and friends. Is that correct?” Chase remembered saying those words, and a single glance at Sarina in seeing the tears rolling down her cheeks gave him any assurance he needed.

“Absolutely,” he replies with confidence laced in his voice. If it meant that he went down for this, then that was going to be the case. But he wasn’t going to back down when it came to her.

“Ms. Martin, your witness.” Chase watches as Carter’s lawyer Nellie Martin stands up, and makes her way over to him. He couldn’t believe someone would defend him. Then again, someone had done that job for Alison, too.

“Is there any concrete evidence connecting my client to the gun?” She questions and Chase lets out a sigh. He remembered watching Carter take that with him, Sasha and Steve after everything went down. He was surprised it wasn’t found with the truck, or with Carter eventually.

“No,” he replies, knowing there was no other choice there.

“So essentially, it’s your word against my client that he was the one who shot you and not one of the others who are known thugs with him. Just like you’re believing the word of your wife that she was sexually assaulted. Has there not been trust issues with you and your wife in the past, surrounding her brother Mr. Chris Dryer?” Chase glances down, not even wanting to  think back to that experience, either. He still regretted not having any evidence to tie Carter to the assault, either. However, he also sympathized for Sarina in the shower she took immediately afterwards, knowing he did the same thing with Alison.

“There was trust issues once upon a time, but we sorted those out and were able to move forward. I can assure you that we completely trust each other no matter what now, and would not even think of lying to each other. We learned from our mistakes. That’s why I married and committed myself to her, forever.” Sarina had to smile at the thought and dedication of their love being expressed in the court room.

“I am done.” He then watches as Ms. Martin sits down, taking a deep breath of his own. He had made it through – thankfully.

“Given that he is my client, I have a couple things to clear up,” Ms. Alycia Burrows states as she then stands up, instantly bursting Chase’s bubble. However, he knew whatever she had to offer was important as it was to his defense. “We’ve stated that you’re guilty, and you’re shedding away from that. However, please state your reasons for what you did.”

“I just doing what I could to protect myself, my family and friends,” Chase repeats as he had done since the very beginning. “Given what he had done to myself and others, I wasn’t going to let him repeat that or escape in that moment.”

“If we can make it clear, you weren’t about to take justice into your own hands, though…” Chase shakes his head no, remembering the exact period of events in the trailer.

“As soon as I got him tackled, Alan went to get the authorities and get them into the trailer. He grabbed the first security guard that he could find. As soon as they entered, I let him go. I was ready for justice to do its course.” He just hoped that worked out in his favor and that he wasn’t unfairly punished through this.

“The quick, drastic reaction that he had in relation to Carter Williams could also be attributed to your mental state. Your feelings about the events with Mr. Williams weren’t just directly to those events, were they?” Chase remembered the discussion he and Alycia had before entering the plea, and the way that she was going to play the cards. It was all about using whatever they could to their advantage, and that included sympathy.

“I know what it feels like to go through what Sarina went through at his hands. I went through a similar set of events with Alison Reynolds last year. I promised myself in that moment that I wouldn’t let that happen again to myself or anyone that I loved. I promised to keep everybody safe. Hence why I keep saying that was my intentions in that moment.” Sarina takes a deep breath, wondering if a layer of regret was there with Chase now. She knew how much he regretted the mistakes he made with Alison for a long time.

“Let it be shown on record that my client was subjected to months of assaults, sexually, physically, and mentally – courtesy of Ms. Alison Reynolds. She was convicted in the courts last year, sent to a mental facility.” Chase watches as Alycia lays down the files of information for the jury to peak over, shaking his head as he didn’t want a single thought back to those events. “Mr. Elliott, we’ve talked about mental anguish as a result of those events. That was shown in the trial based on your behavior. Can you speak more on that topic, please?”

“I dealt with a lot of feelings from that – pain, anger, disgust, violation – and it took me months to wrap my arms around it. I fought with it back and forth, from flashbacks to nightmares.” Sarina could only shake her head as she remembered each of those moments, hating to see everything eat at him. However, she knew exactly how that felt now in her own shoes.

“Did you do anything about these occurrences?” Chase had to smile a bit with pride in knowing that he had done something.

“I began to seek therapy on a regular basis to talk about my feelings, and figure out how to deal with this. I am still seeing the therapist here and there when I need to get something out.”

“Let it be shown on record the appointments in which my client is referring to with a registered therapist in the state of North Carolina. Thank you, Chase. I am done.” She then takes her seat, and Chase knew by the nod that they had done everything accordingly to plan. Now they just had to hope everything played in their favor.

“You may step down,” the judge instructs, which Chase easily accepts. He immediately walks over to Sarina, wrapping both arms around Sarina to hold her close to him. “We will re-convene at a later date to continue with testimony. Court adjourned!”

April 3, 2019 – Mooresville, North Carolina – 8 weeks old

With having to be in North Carolina to be an appearance, Chase made the suggestion to Sarina that she make the trip and visit Lindsay as they hadn’t seen each other lately. He knew that she’d accept it as he knew how much they loved spending together, and it would fulfill the request given to him from Lindsay.

Lindsay had wanted to spend some time with Sarina, but didn’t want to come out and request it – as she had a surprise in store.

“Sturgill!” Lindsay calls out, getting the dog’s attention as he glances up at her. “Get your ass in here.” Sarina could only chuckle as she watched the dog turn around and look the other way. She then looked back inside, making sure the babies were still asleep in the play pen. She was glad that they were only going to be outside for a couple minutes as she hated to spend a single second away from Abigail.

“Ah, he has an attitude to match his daddy,” Sarina comments, referencing Ryan as Lindsay had to chuckle. “Does he at least listen to Ryan?”

“Half of the time, if there’s no squirrel to distract him.” Sarina just rolls her eyes. “Please tell me the secret to making dogs listen.”

“You’re going to have to ask Chase about them as he made sure Max was behaved for us both.” The girls then look back out in the yard once again. “So Chase suggested we spend today together…”

“Well, duh, we need to catch up! I mean, how much time have we been spending together lately?” Sarina lets out a sigh, wishing that it was certainly more time than she could count. However, she knew things had been crazy lately between Carter and Abigail.

“Well, now we can spend our days together, keeping an eye on our children, while trying to keep Sturgill out of trouble.” Lindsay rolls her eyes, knowing that was going to be practically impossible at times. “Besides, you cannot be chasing after that dog all the time. You need to be taking care of yourself.”

“I do not need to hear it from you, or anybody else for that matter. Even though Evelyn’s pregnancy went well and there was no issues, he has practically been doing the overprotective route with me already – and I’m just three weeks now. What is he going to be like in four, five months?” Sarina had to laugh, remembering how Chase, Alan and Rudy were the same way with her. “He won’t even let Sturgil sit on my lap.”

“He cares about you, and sweetheart, it’s an amazing feeling…” Lindsay smirks at the thought, as she glances down at her hand at the engagement ring.

“Well, that’s why I was hoping while we’re spending time together, you can give me some advice.” Sarina looks over, intrigued by the comment. “I was hoping we could do some wedding planning together.”

“Pardon me, but I was going to assume that Erin and Emma would’ve wanted to be all over that.” Lindsay nods her head, knowing that she was right. She knew how much those girls liked planning events, picking out dresses and designing things.

“Don’t get me wrong, I want them to be involved and I will certainly be talking with them. But they’re not my best friend.” Lindsay finally looks up from her ring and over at Sarina. “You are my best friend. We’ve been friends since we were little kids, and always there for each no matter what. For that reason alone, I want you to be the primary person to help me plan this wedding. I also want you to be my maid of honor.” Sarina smiles immediately upon hearing the words.

“Seriously?” Lindsay chuckles as she keeps her eyes on her. “I’d be absolutely honored to stand beside you as you marry Ryan – even though he may drive me crazy at times.”

“I knew you’d say yes!” Lindsay instantly wraps her arms around her. “No doubt Emma and Erin will be a part of the process, but I am going to tell them that the core of the decisions will come down to me and Ryan, and you’re going to have a big help in this. I know that you haven’t always seen eye-to-eye with the-”

“I won’t cause any tussles to make your wedding difficult, okay? Besides, Erin has slowly warmed up to me in seeing how much I care about Chase, and what I’m willing to do for him.” Lindsay smiles as she was glad to see that, in knowing how close they all were probably going to grow.

“Oh, and in case you didn’t know, we’re going to be doing it on the beach in July…” They then watch as Sturgil comes running up on the back deck. “And look who finally decided to join us.”

“He just wanted to give you time to say the best words possible!” Lindsay couldn’t help but smile as they headed inside. As they shut the door, the baby girls became to squirm a little.

“Looks like he knew more about timing than we did….”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 217: The Arraignment

Wednesday, March 27 – Phoenix, Arizona

Alycia walks into the interrogation room, closing the door behind her.

“So the district attorney was able to get your arraignment heard tonight – in about 15 minutes actually,” she reveals, earning a nod from both Chase and Bill. “Simply put, we’re going to walk in there. I believe they’re going to hear the charges against Christopher, as there’s an update there that they’re taking before the judge with Carter Williams and his attorney Nellie Marlin, as well as Christopher’s lawyer Leslie Hughes.”

“Is this a good update, that may work in our favor as well?” Bill wonders as Alycia could only shrug her shoulders. She had tried to get the information from Leslie, trying to strike a common ground, but that was unable to be divulged.

“Are you clear on what we talked about in how we’re going to go about this?” Chase nods his head, letting out a sigh at the same time.

“It feels so wrong to be pleading guilty,” Chase comments. He still wasn’t fully behind the plan that Alycia had in mind, but knew there was no choice given the box they were in right now. “It’s like admitting you did something wrong – when I know that I did nothing wrong.”

“I whole heartily understand where you’re coming from,” she starts. “That’s why I plan to do whatever it takes in my power to make sure that this is cleared up – for everybody’s sake. I am also going to be making sure that Kyle Gates has his case together so we don’t have to worry about Carter Williams, ever again.” Chase appreciated her dedication, knowing that it hadn’t let him down in the past.

Although it was only 15 minutes, it seemed like it took an eternity to pass by before they were set to head down to the court room. The entire walk down the series of halls through the police station to where the court rooms were seemed like forever, especially with each glance down in seeing both hands together by a pair of cuffs.

Upon entering the court room, he took his place – feeling out of sorts being in the defense side, easily accepting the cuffs to be taken off. Bill followed in shortly thereafter, taking a seat in the front row beside Morgan.

“I really need to learn how to fly in these situations like you and Chase,” Morgan immediately begins mumbling, earning a glance from Bill. “Do you realize how much last minute flights cost to get out here?” Bill nods his head, having seen the various prices that airlines were charging. “But I told Christopher that I didn’t care the amount, I was going to be here with him. This is purely ridiculous for both him and Chase, if you ask me.”

“Trust me, we had that very same discussion,” Bill replies, keeping his eyes forward locked on Chase. “I heard there was an update in the case for Christopher, actually…” Morgan nods her head, having heard some rumblings amongst the lawyers.

“We may not be stuck here as long as we thought originally. All I can hope is that’s the case for both of us.”

They both then stand accordingly as the doors open, with Judge Jackson Pruitt entering the room.

“Presenting the Honorable Judge Jackson Pruitt,” the bailiff states as the judge takes his seat.

“You may all be seated,” the judge instructs as he looks over the courtroom. “Considering that it’s late and we all want to get out of here as soon as possible, let’s get this over with.” He then opens the first file before him. “Christopher Bell, may you pleas rise?” Christopher stands accordingly, keeping his focus solely forward on the judge. “Have you been told the charges that are before me, and understand what they mean?”

“Yes sir,” Christopher replies as he keeps his serious stance the entire time. If all went accordingly well, he wouldn’t be there much longer.

“On charge of breaking and entering, how do you plead?” Christopher didn’t even need to take a glance at Chase and Morgan to know no matter what happened, he had done the right thing in the moment.

“Guilty, your honor.” The judge makes a note on the file as Christopher’s lawyer Leslie Hughes stands up.

“Your honor, these were extreme circumstances for my client,” she begins, recalling the story in which Christopher told her from January. “He and his friends had just been confronted at gunpoint by three men, with his truck stolen and Mr. Elliott wounded. They were stranded in the middle of the nowhere without a way of contacting someone, or running wheels to get somewhere. In a state of panic and desire, his main focus was doing what he could to take care of his friend and do what they could given the situation. For that reason, combined with his clean record to date, we are asking for a very minimal sentence, if anything at all.” Chase had to admit that he liked Leslie’s approach in her wording, and was actually curious to see whether that’d get Christopher anywhere, given what he was going to try to do next.

“Regardless of circumstances, both you and your client understand that breaking and entering is against the law, correct?” Judge Jackson Pruitt questions, earning a simple nod from Leslie and Christopher. Certainly that remark didn’t give Chase much hope on his own accord, as he began immediately questioning his own plan.

“Actually, the state is prepared to drop the charges against Mr. Bell entirely,” district attorney Kyle Gates comments, earning a series of surprised glances around the room, Maybe there was hope for this gentlemen yet. “The property in which Mr. Bell broke into belonged to Mr. Sasha Kraus. Upon his guilty plea back in January, Mr. Kraus stated that he would not be pressing charges against Mr. Bell for the incident. If the home owner does not want to pursue, there is no law-biding way that we can pursue the charges despite the wishes of others involved.” Chase almost wanted to roll his eyes immediately, as it confirmed every theory that they had in mind in that Carter and his lawyer had brought every piece of what they could possible in hopes of messing with their lives another way.

“Did Mr. Kraus give a reason for dropping the charges back in January?” Everybody watches as Kyle flips through the paperwork that he had in hand on the desk.

“Mr. Kraus stated in his sworn testimony that he would not be pressing charges as he understood the breaking and entering was a result of the position that he, Carter Williams, and Steve Lane put Mr. Bell and his friends in as a result of the harassment, robbery, and attempted murder.” Chase kept his eyes forward, not even wanting to see Carter’s remark in knowing that an attempted murder charge still laid over his head no matter what scheme he was trying to pawn here.

“Motion accepted then. Mr. Bell, you are free to go, but please remember the laws in each state so we do not meet again.” Christopher easily nods his head, accepting.

“Good luck,” he whispers to Chase. “Let’s hope you get the same fate as I did.” Chase just gives him a quick smile, before watching as Christopher goes over, instantly hugging Morgan.

“Since we’re planning on not being here tonight, stick around and you can fly with us – to avoid those ridiculous flights as you said Morgan,” Bill suggests, earning a nod of approval from Christopher and Morgan.

“I wasn’t planning on leaving anyway,” Christopher comments as he takes a seat.

“Before we touch upon the next case in hand, may I please add something in regards to this situation?” District Attorney Kyle Gates questions, earning a nod from the judge. “This whole situation brought upon discussion with Carter Williams, his lawyer Nellie Marlin, Christopher Bell, Sasha Kraus and Steve Lane brought forth some other aspects to light. There are some charges that Mr. Williams is facing that do not add up with everybody’s account as to what happened.” Chase glances down, letting out a sigh. Of course this would come about as Carter would begin to find ways to weasel out of his own situation.

“Continue….” Judge Jackson Pruitt instructs as Kyle flips to the page in question.

“The charges of harassment against Mr. Christopher Bell, Mrs. Sarina Elliott, and Mrs. Morgan Kemenah. Mr. Williams in no way harassed those individuals in the state’s eyes, as his discussion solely focused on Mr. Chase Elliott. He also wasn’t the active robbery participant, either. Therefore, we would like those charges to be dropped from the situation in North Carolina in January.” Chase almost wanted to glance back at Christopher and see if this was really happening. That was total contrary to all discussion following the incident by everybody involved. How was that being forgotten now?

“Motion accepted.” Chase runs his hands through his hair, only shaking his head at the events that were transpiring. This didn’t give him any hope of a solution moving forward on any account, given how easily things got thrown around here. “Will the other charges remain against Mr. Williams?”

“Absolutely as the state is ready to pursue him against those charges to the full extent.” Judge Jackson Pruitt looks down at his notes, seeing the list of charges.

“Mr. Williams, let me remind you what that means. You are still being charged with attempted murder and harassment of Chase Elliott in the state of North Carolina. You are still being charged with sexual assault of Sarina Elliott in the state of Georgia. You are still being charged with harassment and coercing Laiken Baumgartner in the state of Nevada. You are still being charged with breaking and entering private property (a hauler) in the state of Arizona. You are still being charged with harassment and attempted sexual assault of Mrs. Baumgartner in the state of Arizona. Are you clear of the charges laid above your head, and the current terms of your bail?”

“Yes sir,” Carter William states from his corner of the room, as Chase keeps his eyes forward on the judge. He didn’t want a single thought of the man in his mind as he knew that’d just make his blood boil, and that wasn’t probably warranted right now.

“Mr. Chase Elliott, may you please rise?” Judge Jackson Pruitt instructs as Chase takes a deep breath, following the order in hand. Nothing about this felt comfortable in this moment. . “Have you been told the charges that are before me, and understand what they mean?”

“Yes sir,” Chase replies, not wanting to go over that again. He would rather have an explanation how any of this was possible instead, though. Ultimately, nobody had been able to offer something that was sufficient.

“On the charge of assault to Carter Williams, how do you plea?” Chase takes a deep breath, knowing a single moment of this didn’t feel right. He did nothing wrong. He was just doing what it took to protect Laiken in that moment. Why was he standing here tonight?

“Guilty, your honor.” He almost wanted to take back the words immediately, having so many mixed emotions about them slipping from his mouth.

“Your honor, the defense is requesting no sentence with regards to special circumstances,” his lawyer Alycia Burrows states, as they had originally talked about. Chase could only hope the judge took this smoother than he took Christopher’s request before it got thrown out.

“Just because he’s a celebrity and Mr. Most Popular Driver doesn’t mean that there’s special circumstances given automatically,” Judge Jackson Pruitt comments, bursting any sign of hope in which Chase felt at that very moment immediately.

“I am not looking for special treatment, your honor. Respectfully, my client pled guilty due to a confession being in the hands of the police officer on scene, and in the weeks that followed. However, we would like the jury to find him not guilty on the terms of citizen arrest and mental health reasons.” Chase runs his hands through his hair, almost feeling like this was a nightmare he couldn’t escape.

“Explain….” Chase was actually surprised by the judge’s instructions given his tone through the events thus far.

“Given Mr. Williams’ previous occurring events and the fact that he had broken into the Hendrick Motorsports trailer – allegedly of course, Mr. Elliott was only keeping Mr. Williams in place until police or security could be called to the scene. As noted, Mr. Gustafson who was with him at the time did make the phone call which led to that happening. Secondly, it has been well documented through previous court cases the mental effects that everything has had on my client in relation to previous events with Mr. Chris Dryer, and Ms. Alison Reynolds. That brought forth a fear that perhaps pushed my client to step over the means necessary in that situation.” Chase had to admit that hearing her explain it in that sense did give him some comfort in the direction that she was taking him down. He could only hope that it made sense to everybody else.

“The case will go to trial to prove whether it was legally warranted or not under those means.” Alycia glances over at Chase with a small smile, knowing that was the first mission accomplished. That didn’t get him out of being there overnight yet, though.

“Given that you’re overseeing both Mr. Elliott and Mr. Williams’ cases, it would save the tax payer’s money to have them both played out at the same time in the same court room,” District Attorney Kyle Gates suggests, catching a little surprise around the room. “The same people are going to testify on both sides of the situation, so why should we go through this multiple times?”

“I would actually welcome that as I don’t need to hear from everybody twice,” Judge Jackson Pruitt accepts, earning a nod from Alycia to Chase. She knew that Kyle was doing that in partially for her benefit as another sign of support. Allowing the jury to see Carter’s actions and the full breakdown from everybody involved would bring forth sympathy for Chase’s actions, in hopes of things being cleared as she wanted.

“I would also like to request bail for my client through the trial process,” Alycia Burrows offers, which was the second stage of their plan that night.

“Do you have any objections?” This was where both Alycia and Chase hoped that Kyle’s sympathy trail continued.

“As long as the terms are followed accordingly by Mr. Elliott, I do not,” District Attorney Kyle Gates answers, earning another checkmark towards the plan. That just meant the terms being laid out by the judge.

“Your honor, may I say something please?” Carter Williams’ lawyer Nellie Marlin requests, earning a series of eye rolls from practically everybody in the room. “Mr. Elliott just admitted to assaulting my client. Is that really someone that we should be allowing loose on the street?”

“Right now, we’re allowing an attempted murderer and someone who sexually assaulted someone to be on the street – oh I’m sorry, allegedly right?” Alycia Burrows retorts immediately, earning a smile from Chase. He was always glad to work with her.

“My client is practically going to be afraid of being assau-”

“Just like my client is afraid of your client going after him or his wife, again.” Chase could already see the blood boiling from the look on Nellie’s face.

“Okay, fine. How about this then?” Nellie then looks back straight at the judge. “He’s a flight risk as he’s a pilot, and his father is also a pilot. He could leave the country at a moment’s notice.”  Chase lets out a sigh, wishing that he could gag her already.

“How about this then? Your client has a passport, right? Then just like my client, he could legally board a plane to leave the country, or even ride a train or drive a car.” Alycia then takes a deep breath, as she turns to the judge. She knew arguing back and forth would get them nowhere, except on the judge’s nerves. It was time to get back to the case at hand. “From the very beginning, my client has been co-operative with the police – not evading arrest like other people. My client spoke with them on scene each time, and my client willing accepted questions in a different state than the events happened as he wanted to clear up any confusion. My client also agreed to come from Georgia, leaving his daughter whose in the hospital, to come here without a single drop of hesitation according to your own police officers. My client intends to fully continue to co-operate with the court proceedings, and such as needed.”

“Is it true that your client is a pilot?” Judge Jackson Pruitt questions and Alycia nods her head. Chase could only see this going downhill with the judge’s approach.

“My client does hold a pilot’s license, yes,” Alycia confirms as there was no point in lying. “My client’s flying is solely work based. He is a NASCAR driver who competes across the country. He flies to each race himself, sometimes with his wife, parents, and others. He also flies to various media appearances, as well as the race shop to work with his team. His flight record is exceptional, as he keeps his log books updated with every single flight that he takes. If you were to grant my client bail, he would fully co-operate in meeting with a bail officer on a periodic basis to check in, as well as letting you know at anytime where he is located work-wise. For example, he’s scheduled to be in the lovely state of Texas this weekend from Friday to Sunday.”  Chase already knew that the continued check-in meetings were quickly going to grow annoying. However, he was willing to do whatever it took to get out of there that night.

“Usually if a client is an evident flight risk, we do not allow them to have bail. However, these are some very interesting circumstances and charges that have been laid before Mr. Elliott. Therefore, I am going to grant you a bail of $5,000 – with the agreement that you are to check in on a periodic basis, be available to state where you are no matter when you’re called upon, and wear an ankle monitor for tracking purposes. Court adjourned!” The judge then leaves the room as Chase just sits there stunned.

“Ankle monitor for tracking purposes?” He questions Alycia in pure disbelief, as she nods her head slowly. “Seriously? I have to wear that for however long it takes for this trial to go on and get things settled?”

“It’s better than being stuck here, isn’t it?” She offers, as he could only let out a sigh in response.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 214: STP 500

Saturday, March 23 – Martinsville Speedway

Chase climbs out of the car, making his way over to the pit box as he glances up. With how smooth the car felt, he was actually surprised they were only 10th quickest in the session. What did it take to be quicker around here?

He then grabs a bottle of water, taking a seat as he waits for Alan to finish discussing things over with Josh and Tom. He finally catches the crew chief’s attention as Alan comes over.

“Considering you were happy with the handling, I thought you’d be smiling right now,” Alan comments as he notices the immediate facial expression on Chase.

“I tell you that the car is handling good and I’m rolling the corner like we should, but yet were 10th,” Chase replies, as Alan could only smile back in response. He had seen the speed chart, but he wasn’t worried about that this session.

“Is it comforting to know that most of those ahead of you were working on qualifying runs, and we were in race trim?” It was now Chase’s turn to look intrigued. “Yeah, that’s why you weren’t quicker than you thought. But if you compare yourself to those who were working on the same thing, then we’re fine. You also don’t lose as much time over the run as others were in fighting the handling.”

“Alright that makes me feel better…” He then lets out a sigh as he glances at his phone, which resulted in the crew chief’s not leaving him.

“So where’s my happy driver since we actually have a good car this weekend?” Chase turns the phone so Alan can view the image, which causes a small smile to form on his face. “Is she taking the formula like they want her too?”

“She’s doing amazing, Alan. She’s growing, and she’s following through with each step towards being released and being fine just like you would expect. There hasn’t been a single setback, thankfully.” Alan nods his head, accept, but that didn’t explain the glance on Chase’s face.

“But….” Chase lets out a sigh as he finally takes his eyes off the screen to look over at Alan.

“This is harder than I realized to handle weekends apart from them both, countless weekends apart at that. The first couple were easy, but there was belief it’d be over soon. The next couple were harder, but yet I was able to do it because at least Sarina was there a couple days. But this weekend all by myself? It’s starting to really hit home.” Alan could see where Chase was coming from, remembering previous years when the pair would spend weekends apart.

“Just be thankful that you can go home tonight, and spend time with them. Be thankful that you’re getting that time at all, and value every single second. Also remind yourself that it won’t always be this way because of those milestones that you spoke of.” Alan kneels down to Chase’s level. “I know you worry about her more than anything because of what happened. I understand the worry, and the pain that’s there with that because you know what it feels like. But realize that she’s just as strong as you are, and can get through this, and she’s got Brittany and Cindy there for support.”

“Thank you….” Alan smiles as he stands back up, walking away to make sure everything was in order of the second session.

“There’s the smile that I was looking for,” Alan comments as he walks over to Chase following the second session.

“There’d be something really wrong if I led the session and wasn’t smiling,” Chase replies, earning a chuckle from Alan. “But it shows what you were talking about before. Switching to qualifying trim was everything.”

“I told you there was a method to my madness.” Alan then glances at his notes. “The same way that I hope I have the right method for qualifying later today. We know the track is going to slightly change with the rubber being put down by the trucks, and the fact it’s later in the day. We also know that it’s an impound race, so we can’t make a whole bunch of adjustments between qualifying and the race. That’s why I am thinking maybe we should go a little conservative on the qualifying set-up so that way we’re good for the race.”

“Whatever direction you want to go for, I’m game. I mean, I am willing to give up a little in qualifying if that means that I’m not fighting the car through the entire first stage.” Alan nods his head in approval, watching  as his driver grabs his phone off of the pit box.

“I just don’t want to cost us a shot at the pole because I make one over-conservative decisi-”

“No matter what you decide, I’m behind you 100% and I won’t question your decision. I believe in you, Alan. Do what you feel is right for the situation that we’re in.” Alan nods his head, accepting, glancing back over the notes as he sees who was quick in qualifying trim from the first session. “So they charged Damien with conspiracy on multiple counts with Alison Reynolds, conspiracy for sexual assault against Sarina, and conspiracy for attempted sexual assault on Laiken. They can’t charge him for the visits that he made to myself and Laiken following the first mee-”

“I’m sorry, but wasn’t that clear harassment given his previous knowledge of Carter?” Chase nods his head, having stated that in his initial response to the conversation.

“Instead, it was deemed as simply checking in to double check where things stood following our initial meeting. Why don’t we just call it a business follow-up?” Alan rolls his eyes, once again annoyed with the police. It was one thing to currently have Carter on bail, but not to have Damien not getting fully charged.

“I’m going to guess that he pled not guilty to all of the counts, too.” Chase shakes his head no, causing Alan’s jaw to drop.

“He actually pled guilty to all accounts, stating that he was coerced by both individuals through death threats and blackmail. He is bargaining for a plea deal, based on the evidence that he can provide of that.” Alan wanted to focus on the racecar, though found himself intrigued by the update.

“Didn’t Alison once upon a time say that she was coerced by Bethany?” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances down immediately, nodding his head.

“And I easily let that go through believing it was true since we saw every sign with Bethany. If I hadn’t let that go through….” He then takes a deep breath as Alan sets the clipboard down, walking over.

“It’s not your fau-”

“She doesn’t get the chance to touch me if she goes away for those crimes. She would’ve easily been in jail for sexual assault, attempted rape, harassment, conspiracy – do I need to go on? Instead, I let her get away with that, as well as being a potential mental case. I could’ve ended everything then, Alan.” Alan places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“You can’t live in regret, and you can’t carry that with you forever. That was two years ago now, Chase. You can’t keep beating yourself over it.” Chase slowly glances up at the crew chief, taking a deep breath as he does.

“No, I can just learn from it and not make the same mistake twice. That’s why I made it clear that I don’t want Damien getting anything, no matter what evidence he tries to show. Is that fair?” Alan nods his head, accepting, feeling comfort in that as well. He didn’t want any lose ends as that always led them back down this road, now three years in a row.

“When it is time for his trial and Carter’s to begin, I want you to tell me. I want to be there for you and Sarina once again, okay?” Chase nods his head, accepting, actually appreciating the offer. Looking back, it was easy to realize how much of a benefit it was having both Alan and Jordan there through that time.

After practicing well, Chase was able to carry the momentum into qualifying, ending up eighth quickest at the end of the last round despite the car continuing to get a little tighter each run.

Alan was quick to assure his young driver that it was nothing to worry about, as that tight condition would start them off well at the beginning of Sunday’s race. That was all part of the conservative vs. qualifying trim battle of the minds they had thought of.

“Nice qualifying effort,” Chase hears as Ryan catches up to him during the walk after the session.

“It’s nice to finally have that speed that we’ve been missing,” Chase comments, looking forward to what was possible for Sunday.

“Could you share some of that with me?” Chase almost wanted to chuckle back in response, seeing that Ryan had qualified 17th for Sunday.

“Why don’t you go ask your teammates?” Ryan lets out a sigh, having seen Joey qualify on the pole with Brad in third.

“I just didn’t roll the center like you needed to. Those quick laps – I just can never get into that right rhythm that I need to.” Chase understood that, remembering his first couple of trips to Martinsville. However, he was having a bigger debate of the minds for this discussion.

“Shouldn’t you have enough practice getting into a rhythm?” Ryan then looks over slightly confused. “I mean, you’re doing the bunny hop enough and that’s a simple in and out rhythm.” Ryan then stops dead in his tracks as he looks over at Chase.

“How in the hell do you know that?” Chase immediately broke out laughing by Ryan’s response, as he just smiled back in response.

“Congratula-”

“Who told you?” Chase almost didn’t want to admit it, but felt it was obvious enough.

“Sarina found out from Lindsay as she sent a photo of the pregnancy test on the table. Sarina brought it up as she figured you would’ve told me at the same time. What’s up with that man?” Ryan lets out a sigh, knowing that he should’ve figured Lindsay would share it with Sarina even though they agreed to keep it on the down low for the first couple of months.

“I’m just returning the favor after you continually turned down my offers to hang out and do things together, and then tried to call me out on nationwide. How does it feel, buddy?” Chase just shakes his head, knowing that Ryan had come up with that on the spot. “Seriously, though, I never thought to share it because we both agreed to just tell my parents, and siblings.”

“What did Erin and Emma have to say?” Ryan smiles, as it had certainly gone over better than the first round.

“Erin wanted to know if I knew what a condom was, and Emma suggested I take a course on cucumbers and gloves.” Chase broke out laughing, actually surprised by that response.

“Seriously, though, I am happy for both of you. I am glad that you’ve fallen in love, and are so close. I’m glad that you’re ready to take this next step once again with her, Ryan.” Ryan had to smile in hearing the compliments from Chase.

“I appreciate that – I just hope you won’t be offended if you’re not my best man.” Chase gives him a fake pout immediately, but half-expected that in knowing how close Darrell and Ryan were.

“Just remember everything we’ve been through, and you were my first call when I got engaged.” Ryan nods, remembering that sequence of events.

“Maybe I can win tomorrow so we can celebrate in style, and I can take a page out of your book in asking about being a best man.” Chase had to admit that was a pretty sweet memory, sharing drinks at the house after winning Watkins Glen and bringing up the question in the midst of that.

“Hopefully we can get back to spending time together like we have always done, too.” Ryan was easily ready for that, though understood where Chase stood right now due to Abigai’s situation.

“Just make sure that you’re being careful. I know they caught Damien Crane and it’s great to see him plead guilty – even with shady reasons, but don’t let your guard down with Carter.” Chase looks over at Ryan immediately.

“You don’t need to warn me, Ryan. I think I learned the depths of how far he will go when he went after Sarina.” He then takes a deep breath, calming himself back down, before heading off. He was ready to follow Alan’s advice, and take every single moment that he could get with Sarina before the race in.

Sunday, March 24 – Martinsville Speedway

From the drop of the green flag, Chase was able to run up front with the leaders, moving into the runner-up spot behind Brad Keselowski before the first stage was even completed. He would continue to run there solidly, until he was able to take the lead from Brad with 168 laps to go.

Unfortunately, the pit stops would not go as planned with a small hang-up on the left rear, resulting in Chase coming off pit road in second. However, it didn’t deter the team as they knew they had a good car.

On the restart, Brad was able to get away from him – as expected, due to being on the bottom and having paced the most laps to that point. Kyle Busch would then try to take advantage by diving underneath Chase, however Chase was able to roll the top line to perfection and held off Kyle, with a nice run off of turn two.

“I wonder where he learned that from,” Sarina told herself as she watched the race, remembering her win at Martinsville a couple years ago.

As the laps ticked down, now 100 laps to go, Chase was able to reel Brad back in for the lead. He was able to get back to his bumper with 80 to go, almost giving him a shot, but the back-end began to step out a little. As a result, he would fade back, which allowed Kyle to get to his back bumper for second.

Although it appeared that Kyle had a better car, Chase was able to ride the top lane like he had done before, preventing Kyle from getting a solid run off of the corner to take the spot. Eventually, Kyle would begin to fade back a bit, allowing Ryan to catch him and pass for third before the caution came out with 57 laps to go for Ross Chastain slowing with a problem.

The No. 9 crew would make up for the mistake that they made on the previous round of pit stops, performing another flawless stop. However, as Chase went to pull out, Kyle would cut him off, causing almost contact – with the only avoidance being Chase slightly tapping the brakes. As a result, that’d give Brad the lead off pit road ahead of Kyle, Chase and Ryan.

“I could kill him sometimes,” Sarina comments, in reference to Kyle. “He’s a great spectacular owner, and he has so much talent behind the wheel. But sometimes, he does the most stupidest things – like that. He’s lucky that wasn’t worse!”

“Deep breathes, remain calm,” Christopher coaches her, catching her attention. They had decided to watch the race together with Morgan after he got back down south following an eventful night racing midgets in Oklahoma. She appreciated having him there for support, as he was one of a few that actually knew everything that had happened – from Abigail, to Carter. “The fact that they didn’t make any adjustments should give you confidence. That means that he believes in the ca-”

“His exact words were, ‘It’s not perfect, but it’s too close to change,’ so yes, I get what you’re saying Christopher. I also fully believe in my husband and his ability to get the job done. I haven’t dropped a single doubt about that. I was just stating my frustrations with Kyle, at times.”  Christopher nods his head, accepting, having not expected to get chewed out by a simple comment.

“I was just trying to offer some calming advice….” She glances over with a sly smile.

“And I appreciate that, honestly, but you do not need to. Although, I am intrigued by Chase’s words. Think about this. We as racers are always striving for every single inch of speed that we want. However, even though Chase isn’t perfect, he’s not asking for adjustments. Is he afraid that they’re going to go too far and possibly lose what they’ve gained?” Christopher shrugs his shoulders, really not understanding the psychology of Chase despite being good friends.

“Him and Alan have worked together for four years now, so I think there’d be a trus-”

“I don’t doubt that, but look at his struggles this year. Is he not wanting to lose what they’ve gained today for that reason?” Christopher could only shrug his shoulders once again. “Just food for thought…”

“I feel we’re killing ourselves riding there behind guys,” they listen into Alan on Chase’s radio, which both Sarina and Christopher had to nod their heads in agreement. They remembered always being advised by their crew chiefs to jump at the first chance. That was why when Sarina won there, she jumped at the first instance that she could get by Matt Crafton for the lead and control the race.

“I know,” Chase replies, which meant he understood where they were coming from. “I just feel like you’ve got to go right away.”

They’d get the restart with 46 laps to go, and Chase would go by his promise that he made on the radio in getting by Kyle on the outside with 44 laps to go. He would also make his way forward quickly, getting to Brad’s bumper with 40 laps to go.

“He’s going to do anything to get around the 2 (Brad) without rubbing him up,” Darrell Waltrip offered with the commentary. “That’s how he races.” Both Sarina and Christopher almost began chuckling immediately at the comment.

“Has Darrell forgot about Denny already?” Christopher offers, earning a smile from Sarina.

“I’m still waiting for him to fall down a hill so you can have his ride,” Sarina replies, earning a chuckle and fist pump from Morgan who easily agreed. “But seriously, he’s forgetting where Chase grew up. He knows how to do the bump-and-run if it’s necessary, and when it comes to Brad he won’t be afraid to do it.”

Despite all their high hopes of waiting for the move to be made, they watch Chase begin to lose touch with Brad’s bumper with 30 to go.

“Brad has a stronger long run car,” Christopher comments, which Sarina nodded her head in agreement.

“And here comes Kyle,” she adds, as Kyle had began to close the gap for second.

The leaders would remain close without any change in position, except for Brad beginning to pull away some more. The leaders would also find themselves in lap traffic, with Kyle making a wrong decision in getting by Matt Tifft as he lost crucial time.

With a sizable gap on Kyle for position, Chase made the decision to move from the bottom to the second lane with four laps to go. He would close the gap, getting within a car length, however it was too late as he’d cross the line in second.

“Three, possibly  two laps sooner and that could’ve been a win,” Christopher nods and Sarina lets out a sigh, though had to agree.

“But if he tries sooner and it fails, that allows Kyle to get by,” she reasons which Christopher had to agree with. However, he also knew what he would’ve done in the same situation.

“However, you always do what it takes for the win – damned if you do, damned if you don’t, no regrets.” Sarina knew that both her and Christopher were in the same boat, as they were determined to make the moves necessary to win. Chase was easily able to do the same, however he was calculated – and sometimes that could bite, like here.

“He’s going to kick himself in the ass for that, I guarantee….” Christopher looks over with a grin.

“I guess that means you’ll just have to make him feel better.” She then playfully punches his shoulder, earning a laugh in response.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 206: NAPA in Vegas

Thursday, March 7 – NAPA Convention – Las Vegas, Nevada

Chase could only glance at the room at the array of drivers that joined him. It was a yearly occurrence for NAPA to get all of their drivers together in Las Vegas to meet with the NAPA owners. While he wasn’t looking forward to an additional day away from Abigail, he knew it was one of those appearances to not miss.

“So Alexander Rossi isn’t really here?” Brad Sweet questions, earning a shake of the head from those surrounding him. The IndyCar driver had gotten out of coming, virtue of having an appearance with Honda at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg the same day.

“He’s just jealous of all the love this guy is getting,” Ron Capps comments, wrapping an arm around Chase’s shoulders. Chase could only chuckle in response.

“I’m just taking after you,” Chase replies, knowing the reputation that Ron had grown with being personable with the fans.

“It’s okay – he’s got some competition this year,” Brad offers, with a glance over at Hailie Deegan and Brittany Zamora. Chase had caught the attention of the pair of the K&N Pro Series drivers. Brad was right about them having the eyes of the world, but at least it was for the right reasons as Hailie has proved her talent.

“What can we say? We’re pretty and fast, too,” Hailie comments as Brad crosses his arms.

“I just want you to know that I believed you’d win, even if you’re mom didn’t.” Everybody chuckles in response, having seen the latest InstaStory from Hailie in her mom not believing she’d win the Las Vegas dirt race and the bet they had.

“Are you trying to suck up to her now?” Ron questions, and Brad just winks back in response. “We’re in trouble….”

“I just wanted to say that I was hoping Sarina would’ve come with you,” Brittney comments, catching Chase’s attention. “I wanted to let her known how much I admire her and want to be like her one day. She’s shown so much fight and perseverance through everything, and yet has become a great driver on track with success. The pure grace she has is admirable.” Chase could only chuckle partially, knowing it wasn’t always so graceful when it came to Sarina.

“I’ll pass along the sentiments to her as I know she’d appreciate it,” Chase tells her. “Next time we’re together and if she’s with me, I’ll be sure to introduce her to you. She stayed home with Abigail today, though.”

“Is she still adorable and growing?” Ron wonders, earning a nod and smile from Chase in response.

“I’m just wondering when I am going to get you in a sprint,” Brad offers with a glance over at Chase. Chase could only let out a sigh, remembering the continuous off-season banter about the idea of getting him in either a sprint car or midget.

“See if you can get the boss to budge and then we can talk,” Chase replies, knowing where the executives at Hendrick Motorsports stood on that.

“I may just get my boss to talk to your boss.” Chase could only chuckle, actually wondering how a conversation of that magnitude would go down between Kasey and Rick.

With all the guests set in place, the drivers were set in the room to speak before the crowd. Following that, they spoke one-on-one with some of the owners, signing autographs and taking photos. It was all about sharing the same consent in wanting to spread the word about NAPA.

Chase was in-between conversations when he heard his phone go off with a text. Although he’d normally been ignoring them today, he pulled it out as he half-anticipated it to be Sarina since they hadn’t talked all day. However, instead it was a message from Laiken.

“Are you really in Las Vegas today?” She had sent asking, which caught him off-guard. Why would she be stalking his location?

“Yeah, NAPA appearance,” he typed back in response. “Why?”

“Come by the Hooters Las Vegas. I need to talk to you. it’s important.” Chase was caught off-guard by that, as normally she’d just call with something she felt was necessary to tell him.

“Okay….” He then takes a deep breath, set to place his phone back in his pocket easily. However, he couldn’t help but shake the feeling about the message.

“Come as if you’re not coming to see me, though. Come as if you’re just looking for a snack after a long day. It does this weekend, and Carter. Just please come see me, and follow instructions.” Chase felt his breath hitch in his throat at the wording of the message. The tone only meant one thing in his mind, and it was that she had some details to share about him that were probably going to be unnerving.

“Okay. Give me an hour.”

Thursday, March 7 – Hooters Las Vegas Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada

Chase walks through the front doors of the casino, heading into the restaurant portion of the casino. He had texted Laiken about 10 minutes before arriving that he was on his way so she’d have an idea. She had done the liberty of talking to staff, sending back to Chase who he should speak to.

He glanced across the girls at the counter, reading the various name tags. He finally found the one that he wanted, taking a seat just a little down the row from her.

“Hey Chase,” Miranda states as she makes her way down to where he was sitting. “What can I do for you?”

“10 smoked wings dipped in ranch please,” he tells her. Out of the selection of wings and sauces they had, it was the flavor he’d fallen in love with and always seemed to resort to when he got wings. If he was going to spend some time talking to Laiken, he might as well have a snack in the process.

“Not a problem, as always.” Miranda then glances around, before turning back to him. “Laiken texted me. She said to go up to the VIP booth and have your wings delivered up there. That way you can eat in peace without being disturbed.” Chase nods his head, accepting. It was the perfect cover in ensuring that they had the privacy to discuss what Laiken wanted, but not making it look at all suspicious as Laiken wanted. Besides, it was the perfect cover as someone was bound to recognize him.

“I appreciate the VIP treatment. Keep doing what you’re doing, Miranda.”

With having been the casino a couple times already, he stands up and makes his way to the steps up to the VIP floor. He heads into one of the booths, seeing it marked, taking a seat. He then pulls his phone out, sending a quick text to Sarina that he loved her and things were going smoothly thus far. He wasn’t about to tell her about the meeting with Laiken and the contents, yet.

“10 smoked wings, dipped in ranch, with a glass of Mountain Dew,” he hears and smiles in seeing Laiken standing there. She places the wings and glass on the table, before sitting across from him. “I was surprised that you didn’t order the drink as well.”

“Let’s be honest – I didn’t have to order anything as we both know my order,” he replies as she just smiles in return. They had certainly grown used to working with each other over the past year. There was also a friendship that had grown, considering the instances that happened. “I was caught off-guard by your text.”

“I couldn’t just tell you this over the phone, and when I saw you were going to be in Las Vegas today, I made the trip and figured it’d be perfect. Otherwise, I would’ve been flying my butt back to Georgia.” He hadn’t even gotten into the first wing yet, staring at her in almost pure shock. He knew this was important by the original tone of the message, but this seemed to be going downhill fast.

“Laiken, what’s going on? I haven’t seen you like this since you revealed Alison was impersonating someone.” Laiken takes a deep breath, wanting to erase that thought from her mind immediately. She still regretted everything that transpired through those weeks.

“Do you realize how much I still regre-”

“I told you that I was over it. Besides, you couldn’t had known what was going on. She didn’t just trick you, Laiken.” Chase hoped the conversation wasn’t simply based on those regrets, as it wasn’t necessary. “You mentioned Carter.”

“He came to see me yesterday.” Not a single bite into the wing yet, it fell back onto the plate as Chase dropped it out of his fingers, pure shock written over his face.

“Are you okay? Like seriously, are you o-”

“He didn’t touch me, Chase. He didn’t do anything to hurt me, okay?” He slowly nods his head, a mix of disbelief and confusion written over his face immediately. He was also thankful that Laiken hadn’t been hurt, knowing what Carter was capable of. “Remember how we talked about the Phoenix appearance and wanting to work around Sarina’s race? I was sitting in the office, putting the final touches on timing, trying to work with your schedule and he showed up. He told me that he would kill me, gun in hand by the way, if I didn’t overlap the race and your apperan-”

“He wants to get Sarina alone, again.” Chase shivers at the mere thought of that happening, not needing a single flashback to what had already happened. In that moment, he could see the heartbroken, shattered look that Sarina had given him walking into the trailer at Atlanta. “Have you told anyone else about this?”

“I was going to tell the cops after I told you. I wanted you to know, even though he told me if I made a mere mention that he’d teach me a lesson.” She then takes her own careful deep breath. “I’m afraid, but I promised you that I wouldn’t screw things up again. So here I am.”

“I appreciate you telling me, and I’m sorry that you’re in the middle of this. You don’t deserve any of this, Laiken. I promise that I’ll do what I can to make sure that you, and the girls stay safe.” While concerned about that, Laiken had bigger concerns on her mind.

“What about Sarina?” Chase swallowed the lump in his throat, not needing to picture something else happening.

“We know he’s in the Phoenix area. We know that eyes are out looking for him and Damien. They should be caught eventually, right?” Laiken slowly nods her head, not totally convinced given the incident with Alison. “Regardless, with the information you told me, it sets things in motion for the weekend. I’ll warn both my team and Sarina’s team of what you’ve told me. We’ll make sure that someone is with her at all times at the track, as well as me. We will do whatever it takes to keep her, and everybody safe.”

“And Chase, realize that I am on-board with whatever you need to do and feel is necessary. After what I saw on Wednesday, I’m ready to end this for you and Sarina.” Chase slowly nods his head, accepting.

There was only one pressing matter – how was he going to tell Sarina about what was going on?

Thursday, March 7 – Northeast Georgia Medical Center

With Chase spending the day in Las Vegas for NAPA, Christopher and Morgan had made the trip up to Georgia to keep Sarina company. Selfishly, they also wanted to see Abigail for themselves.

“I think she’s more adorable than you described,” Christopher comments as he makes his way off the elevator and sits down beside her. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” she replies quietly, taking a deep breath. It was only a matter of an hour earlier that Chase had called her and broke down his discussion with Laiken, wanting her to find out from him rather than an investigator or someone else. He then promised that he’d get back to her in Georgia as soon as he could.

“You can talk to me about what you’re feeling…” Christopher had found out the details, with Sarina telling Chase to tell him so he and Morgan were aware. It was only fair those surrounding them and closest knew. Besides, Christopher had been involved with Carter from the beginning.

“Just afraid, sick, and wanting all of this to be over. Is that too much to ask?” Christopher shakes his head no as he wraps an arm around her.

“It’s going to be okay. Morgan and I promised you that in the cabin that night, and we’ve gotten to here. I haven’t given up on that promise yet. I promise still, that it’s going to be okay. Carter and Damien aren’t going to away with anymore.” Sarina glances down, swallowing the lump in her throat.

“They’ve already gotten away with too much….” She then sniffs back the stray tear as Christopher hands her a Kleenex. “There’s a reason why I didn’t want to be alone today, and I was glad that you and Morgan offered to give me company. There’s a reason that I shivered when you went to hug me when you got here.” She then slowly glances up and looks over at Christopher. “When he attacked me, he sexually…” The tears then begin to roll down the cheeks.

“Sarina….” Christopher pulls her even tighter close to him, wrapping both arms around her as she buries her head into his shoulder, tears rocking her. “I’ve got you. I’m not letting you go, and I’m certainly making sure he doesn’t touch you again.”

The pair stayed close, followed by spending more time together with Abigail, until Chase got back later that night as he said he was going to. The group talked together briefly, before Chase and Christopher left the room together to go grab dinner for the girls.

“Sarina told me what happened at Atlanta,” Christopher confesses, catching Chase off-guard. “She told me that he sexually assaulted her.” He then looks over at Chase in the elevator. “Are you okay?”

“I’m upset, angry and disgusted that he simply got the opportunity to do that,” Chase reveals. “I’m disgusted watching her go through this, knowing what it feels like.” Christopher nods his head, remembering the trial and hearing what happened with Chase and Alison.

“I know you’re doing whatever you can to comfort and help her, and you’re doing a great job. I just want to tell you that I told her that I’m here if she needs someone, too. The same goes for you.” Chase nods his head, easily accepting. “I also know that sometimes it can help if you have something positive and fun to take your mind off of it for a bit. That’s why I wanted to let you know that I am going to talk to the powers that be on both sides, and see if we can get her in a midget for a couple laps. I figure it’d be a good distraction, change of pace for her.”

“I don’t have a problem with that, although I’ll be jealous if she gets to test one before I do.” Christopher had to chuckle at the thought, remembering Chase’s desire to test a midget.

“I’ll see what I can do for both of you, okay?” Chase nods his head. “It’s going to be okay, Chase. Like I told Sarina, I made a promise that day in the cabin and I don’t break my promises.”

“Trust me – Carter doesn’t want to see me anytime soon.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 181: Playing in Georgia

Sunday, January 27 – Dawsonville, Georgia – 29 weeks pregnant – 7 am

“Are you watching the Rolex 24 right now?” Chase reads the text message from Christopher, almost a little surprised. When did they start sending out random messages to each other?

“What else would I be doing?” Chase texts back response. “I’m surprised that you’re watching.”

“Not much else to do while Morgan sleeps after the dog wanted to go pee.” Chase had to chuckle, having been through those moments. Nothing like being woke up in the middle of the night by the dog to go pee. “I figured you’d be awake via your tweet about the race so I thought I’d reach out.”

“I know you better than that Christopher.” Chase already knew where the discussion was headed, just like it had the past several days between them.

“Have you told Sarina about Carter, yet?” Chase lets out a sigh, almost wanting to say ‘bingo’ out loud but he didn’t want to wake her up.

“Nope. Getting cold feet?” He knew how badly Christopher wanted to tell her, and almost questioned whether he should’ve confided in him. However, they went through that together so he deserved to know.

“Just worried about her reaction. The longer you wait, the worse it will be.” Chase knew that as he glanced over at her, curled up next to him fast asleep.

“Risk vs. reward. I don’t want to risk Abigail.” The thought of the baby took away any unease he had about the situation – well, except the small bit of worry about Carter. “Police called by the way. All the spots they checked had no clues to his location. However, he left a note at the house in Charlotte.”

“And?” Chase takes a deep breath, remembering the discussion with the police officer yesterday.

“Just saying that I better be watching my toes as that was a preview.” Chase takes another deep breath, erasing every single thought that flooded into his mind.’

“I’d be telling Sarina, and watching your back.” Chase lets out a sigh as he had almost done that right after getting off the phone yesterday.

“I got this, don’t worry.” He then takes a deep breath, feeling her scurry against him. “Talk later. Thank you for trusting me.”

“Who are you texting?” Sarina asks, noticing the phone immediately his hands.

“That’s the first question you ask when you wake up?” He offers back in response, before leaning in for a quick kiss. “Christopher. We were comparing notes about the race.” It was better than telling her the truth, right now at least.

“Did I miss much?” Chase lets out a sigh as he watches the cars sit on pit road, as Dale and Steve tried to fill the time with driver interviews.

“Usual suspects up front, with some incredible passes back and forth. Actually, Fernando Alonso proved why he is awesome no matter what he drives with a move that he made into the bus stop. Oh, and lots of rain – to the point that they’re sitting parked on pit road now.” She then rolls over, glancing at the television screen.

“Are you serious?” He nods his head to emphasize the point. “These are world class drivers. They can handle racing in the rain.”

“Actually, the puddles were so bad that you couldn’t see and everybody was just sliding through without any grip at all. A.J. called it the worst conditions that he’s ever driven in.” Sarina had to admit that sounded a little skeptical.

“So in other words, other than the pass from Fernando, I made the right decision to get some sleep?” He nods his head once again as he places his hand on her stomach.

“Besides, you have a little one to take care of….” He then leans in for another kiss as she smiles back in return.

“You better just get some sleep tonight as you have a big day tomorrow….” Chase lets out a sigh as he didn’t need to even look at the schedule to be reminded of it. He was still in shock that everybody couldn’t co-operate and move some things around a little.

“My schedule went from dead, to completely jam-packed in a flick of the fingers.” She then reaches over, gripping his hand.

“But I appreciate the sacrifice that you’re making for my team.” He then looks into her eyes, smiling.

“I’d do anything for you, and you know that…” She nods her head, not surprised one bit by his decision to test for her at Atlanta. “Besides, it’s a good test for me to do.”

“Just make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, okay? I get being worried about me and the baby – but you need to take of you, yourself, Chase Elliott, for once.” He appreciated her concern, and knew it was genuine. However, there was nothing he could do to change things.

“Just think of it this way – it’s a good preview of what’s to come this season.” Sarina lets out a sigh as she knew he was right. It was only a matter of days – just 21 until the Daytona 500 – until their schedule would see them traveling cross country and racing at every chance possible. Now they were supposed to handle that while raising a child together, too?

“I wouldn’t change it for the world despite every worry at times if we can do this….” Chase nods his head in agreement, knowing that racing and spending time with his best friend would always top his list.

Sunday, January 27 – Dawsonville, Georgia – 29 weeks pregnant – 2:00 pm

“Are they seriously going to end it like this?” Sarina questions, seeing the race under a second red flag for rain with just now 35 minutes remaining.

“What else are they supposed to do with the conditions like this?” Chase counters as she lets out a sigh. As frustrating it was to see the Rolex 24 end like this, it’s not like she could magically make the conditions better.

“They said an update was coming like now, however they haven’t said anything. If you’re going to end it early, then just state it so we don’t sit here and stare at the cars for no reason!” He then reaches over, rubbing her shoulders.

“Easy…..” She then gives him a glare.

“Shouldn’t I be saying that to you right now?” He gives her a slightly confused look, though lets out a sigh as he sees that she was scrolling through her twitter feed like he was. “For being someone that’s quiet on social media, you’re willing picking a bone with Kyle.”

“Are you saying that he’s correct in his viewpoint?” Sarina shakes her head no, agreeing with the rule change to remove live pit stops from the Snowball Derby moving forward. It was ridiculous that teams were having to pay $3,500 to bring in NASCAR pit crews for one race of the season. “Well the-”

“It’s just a surprise to see you go that far with your comments.” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances back through the comments, reading what Corey LaJoie and Ty Majeski had to offer.

“It needed to be said. Just because he’s Kyle Busch, it doesn’t mean that he’s always right and sometimes he needs to be offered a bit of perspective. He was the one that took it one step further when he mentioned the wide-5s so I had to go there.” Chase then rolls his eyes seeing the latest tweet from Kyle. “Although he could’ve left the tungsten out of the discussion.”

“I have to admit that was a bit of a low blow…” Chase nods his head in agreement. “I love Darron Turner’s clap back at the fan that assumed you used an all-star pit crew for your wins.”

“Looking back, I wouldn’t had changed it either. Those were the guys that worked on the car all year. They deserved to be in the spotlight at the end of the year. We win or lose together.” Sarina smiles as she remembered the years that she spent driving for his team.

“I miss working with Ricky and Darron sometimes…” Chase glances over at her, seeing the gloss in her eyes. “What? I’m serious! I didn’t realize it at that time, but those were some special days. Those guys just had the right tick in making things feel right, and the memories made from those small points on the road stand-out. I also didn’t realize how much Ricky was teaching me until I put some of that to good use this season.”

“He’s one of the best in the business, and hey, the pit stops have gotten better as Mike is right – Chandler didn’t lose a spot this year on pit road.” Sarina nods her head, remembering that. While she had been focused on Chase’s effort at the Snowball Derby in December, she had to admit that she took some time to watch how Bubba and Chandler were doing, too.

“It’d be fun one day to reconnect the group together, and do a couple races.” Chase had to smile at the thought as he had been thinking something along those lines previously. “But right now, I guess we can let Chandler be spoiled.”

“Chandler is talented, though. He is proving that he is worthy of their help.” Sarina then places her hand in her stomach, feeling the gentle kicks against it. “Kicking time?”

“She’s always more active in the afternoon, and strangely, she kicks harder when we start talking about racing.” She then keeps a steady count of the kicks that she feels, remembering Dr. Grayson’s suggestion of doing that at least once a day. It was all about tracking her movement. If the kicks were to begin decreasing, then concerns would rise about space in the womb.

“Why does that not surprise me?” Sarina chuckles in response, though had to nod her head in agreement. She knew that their daughter had better be used to racing – and preferably like it to a degree – as she’d be spending a lot of time at the race track with their schedules. “Hopefully creating this dialogue, along with what Bubba tried to do on Sunday, it’ll continue the conversation. Short track racing needs changes to save money, and Kyle is right that drivers and teams should be included in rule change discussions.”

“Heck, even Christopher brought up a good point. We don’t need to be doing five days of practice for a single event.” Chase nods his head in agreement, as he remembered how frustrating it could be at times to be just doing run after run.

“Do you think he’d begin to like the Snowball Derby more than the Chili Bowl if that happened?” Sarina then breaks out laughing.

“Have you ever seen a cow fly over the moon?”

Monday, January 28 – Atlanta Motor Speedway – 29 weeks pregnant

Chase makes his way into the garage area, going up into the JR Motorsports trailer. It didn’t take long for him to change into his firesuit, as he made his way back out. He heads into the garage, checking in with the team.

“Thank you once again for doing this,” Dave Elenz thanks him as he simply nods his head in return.

“Well, thank you for thinking of me and allowing me to do this,” he replies. “It’s just as good for you as it is for me.” He then rubs his fingers across his shoulder, stretching a little – though not passing the limit that he had been given thus far. Three weeks removed from sustaining the wound, they had began giving him simple exercises to begin working the shoulder. However, he was strongly advised to not go over the limit and stop as soon as he felt any pain; it was about slowly building the muscles.

“And you’re absolutely sure this is a good idea?” Chase stops rubbing his shoulder, eying the crew chief immediately with a nod of his head.

“I have doctor’s clearance and recommendation. I also have NASCAR’s approval. I also have personal approval as I’d rather see where I stand right now instead of at Daytona in two weeks.” He then takes a deep breath, as he goes back to rubbing it. “Besides, I don’t think it’ll be a single issue. I haven’t been dealing with any pain lately.”

“Just don’t be hesitate to say something if it gets to be too much as we’ll understand.” Chase nods his head accepting, actually wishing that it wasn’t a topic brought up today. However, he understood the concern expressed by the crew chief.

“Let me know when we’re ready for the first run….” He then walks over to where Sarina was sitting, glancing over her shoulder. “What are you reading?”

“I think it’s something that we should talk about another time…” He was caught off-guard by her comment. That was never a comforting feeling.

“Okay, but you know that you can tell me anythin-”

“You should be focused on the car today, and this test.” He then leans down beside the chair that she sitting on, making sure that she caught a glance into his eyes.

“You come before any of that, so you can tell me anything.” She then lets out a sigh as she shows him the article that she had loaded on her phone. “The process of freezing eggs, and using a surrogate…”

“Dr. Grayson told us that while this pregnancy has gone well, we shouldn’t take the chance again. Do you remember that discussion?” Chase nods his head, having been to each of her appointments with her. “She was basically implying that we should look into other forms of birth contr-”

“Essentially getting your tubes tied?” Sarina nods her head, remembering that was mentioned in one of their many appointments.

“While I know things have gone smoothly, I have to agree that I don’t want to take the chance again. I mean, what if something goes wrong? That’s a pain that I can’t handle.” She then pauses, taking a deep breath. “It was enough dealing with that last January.” Chase rubs her shoulder, understanding as he went through that right beside her. “So I am ready to take that step and be responsible. However, I also don’t want to close the door to possibly having a second child together, whether through adoption or using a surrogate. So I thought I’d read up about it to help myself understand while I think about it.”

“You should also realize that it’s a decision that you don’t have to make alon-”

“Hence why I wanted to talk to you about this lat-”

“It’s fine, though.” He takes a deep breath, knowing that he was taking the wrong approach with his comments. “You also don’t have to make it as soon as Abigail is born. You could freeze some eggs in case you want to do that down the road. Then when we’re ready to expand the family – if we want to, then they’re there.” She smiles as he always had a good way of handling anything.

“You’re amazing…” She then leans in and kisses his lips. “Thank you.”

“Chase!!!” Dave lets out, which was the signal that they were ready for the first set of laps of the day.

“I may be amazing, but you’re spectacular,” he replies, leaning in for another kiss. “Take it easy.”

“Go have fun, and be careful,” she tells him. “I love you so much.”

Chase leans back against the car, letting out a sigh. Despite having a limited time schedule to get testing in, they had managed to squeeze just over 200 laps in.

“Did the last run feel better?” Dave asks as he walks over to his driver.

“Much better,” Chase answers. “You guys have a good package underneath the car, and I think it’ll work perfectly for Sarina. It’s a little tight right now, but she always liked to be a touch tighter than me when we ran late models.” Dave glances between them, offering a simple nod. “She also knows how to roll the high line here well so she should be fine when you come back.”

“I like your vote of confidence.” Dave then casts a glance over at Sarina. “You also have the intermediate experience from the truck so that’ll be beneficial. It’s just learning that the cars don’t draft like the trucks do.”

“I’m ready to put in the work that’s necessary to learn,” she comments, determined to make the most of the opportunity with JR Motorsports. That was always her approach, but she felt even more determined this time with how easy Dave, Dale and Kelley had been with her situation. “There’s nothing stopping me from getting in some time via IRacing until I’m ready, right?”

“Just be careful – both of you,” Dave comments as his eyes land back on his driver for the day. “Be honest. How are you feeling?” Chase looks over confused, though lets out a sigh as he rubs his shoulder.

“It’s more sore than I thought that it would be,” he confesses, while easily accepting the ice from one of the crew members to hold against it. “But I can handle it. It’s not the worse pain that I’ve dealt with, and I’ve got a couple more weeks to heal anyway.”

“Just make sure that you’re taking care of your lady here….” Chase looks right into Sarina’s eyes, before reaching out with his good arm to wrap it around her.

“You don’t have to worry about that.” He then leans in, kissing her lips.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 176: A Bell Visit

Monday January 21 – Charlotte, North Carolina – 28 weeks pregnant

“We’re not done yet….” Sarina kept her eyes on the gentlemen before them. “There’s one more thing that we want.” She then watched as Chase stepped in front of her, protectively right away.

“You’re not touching them…” Chase says, as the guys chuckles as he licks his lips.

“Did you really think that it was the lady that I wanted? Although, she would be a nice quick fuck here.” Sarina feels her stomach flip instantly, as her hand moves to it instinctively.

“Like I said, you’re not touching them. You’ll have to go through me to do that.”

“That’s a very easy thing to do.” Sarina then watches the guy draw his gun, aiming it directly at Chase, pulling the trigger, as the bullet flies through the air straight at him.

“Fuck!” Chase’s scream rings through her ears immediately as he falls backwards, hands immediately clutching where the bullet had gone.

“Chase?!?” Sarina lets out, sitting up in the bed instantly. She then looks around the bedsroom, confusion taking over her immediately. “Chase?!?” She then feels a couple tears trickle down her cheeks as she couldn’t hear a single thing in return. “No, no, no this can’t be…” The tears begin to fall harder as she throws the blanket off the bed, getting up quickly. “Woah….”

“Easy…” She hears as a pair of arms wrap around her, holding her right away. She then takes a deep breath, trying to get the dizziness to disappear. Though she also wanted to be able to look at the man who held her right now.

“Chase, is that you?” He then turns her around so they’re facing each other, slowly backing her up so she’d sit back down on the edge of the bed.

“Take some deep breathes, relax…” He then kneels down before her, clutching her hands with his. “Take a couple deep breathes, please…” She does as instructed, letting her wits come about her. “That’s it.”

“Where were you?” He then brushes the hair out of her face, before grabbing a Kleenex to wipe the tears off of her face.

“I woke up before you, and thought I’d go downstairs and make you breakfast for when you woke up. I didn’t come up here immediately, or otherwise I would’ve burned the house down, and the eggs.” He then sets the Kleenex aside as he looks into her eyes. “Now that we’ve calmed down, do you want tell me what happened?”

“I had a nightmare…” She then glances down immediately, knowing the shooting was a difficult topic for either of them to discuss. “I dreamed back to the night of our wedding, and the meeting. I saw everything over again in my head, every word that they said to you and Christopher. I saw how you stepped in front of me, to protect me.” She then looks back up at him. “You got shot because you were protecting me.”

“And I’d do it over again in a heartbeat because I will do whatever it takes for you, and our little girl. I’m not letting anybody harm my family.” That was a promise he planned to standby should Carter resurface anytime soon. He knew that she’d find out that meaning down the road as he still wasn’t ready to tell her – especially now with the nightmare, on top of the pregnancy.

“What if he would’ve shot you in the chest? What if you would’ve….what if you would’ve died?” She then glances back down, feeling her eyes get wet once again. “That was the nightmare, Chase. The nightmare was you getting shot in the chest.”

“I know that it was possible, but I still wouldn’t had changed what I did to protect you and our daughter.” He then stands up, sitting beside her, so he could wrap an arm around her shoulders. “But that didn’t happen, Sarina. We were able to get through it, and I’m going to be okay. That’s what matters. That’s what you need to keep telling yourself so you can move forward.”

“I was so scared, Chase….” He nods his head in agreement, remembering his own fears as he laid in the bed under Christopher’s care.

“That makes two of us. I remember feeling the endless pain, and the weakness taking over me as I could barely move as Christopher rambled on about why I was cold, why I had a fever, and trying to remain strong. I was scared that I wouldn’t do it. However, I stayed strong because I knew that I had to do what it took to be here for you, and Abigail.” He then places a hand on her stomach. “It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be going through what you’re going through. But you have to tell yourself that you’re okay, Abigail is okay, and I’m okay – you can’t let it become worse in your mind.”

“I don’t know if I can do that….” Chase takes a deep breath, remembering saying the same words himself at one time.

“It’s hard, it’s almost impossible at times. Mind control isn’t easy, and it’s going to take time to perfect because your fear wants to overpower it. You just got to keep pushing and eventually, your brain begins to understand everything is fine and will be ready to move forward. Like we’ve both said before, we’ve been through a lot and it’s going to take time. As long as we’re taking steps, that’s what matters. You’ll figure it out.” He then kisses her cheek.

“Just promise me that you’ll be here by my side to figure it out, always.” He smiles, as he runs his finger across the top of her ring.

“I wouldn’t have given you this ring if I didn’t plan to be by your side no matter what. I vowed to be yours and forever, and that’s what I plan to do.” He then slowly stands up, rubbing his shoulder a little as he does, before holding a hand out to her. “What do you say we go have some breakfast and start off the day right?”

“Deal.” She then stands up, following him through the hall and down the stairs to the kitchen.

Monday January 21 – Bell Residence  – 28 weeks pregnant

Chase and Sarina walk through the front door of the house, as Chase shakes his head once again in seeing the midget sitting in the living room.

“I still want to know what he said to you to convince you to have the car sitting in the living room,” Chase comments as Morgan chuckles.

“He actually didn’t need to say much, truthfully,” she confessions as he drops his jaw in shock. “It’s his house, his rules, right?”

“You’re engaged now….” Christopher gives him a look as Morgan just shrugs her shoulders.

“I actually couldn’t imagine the room without it. It’s a good memory.” Chase then looks over at Christopher with a smile.

“You’re certainly spoiled…” Sarina, meanwhile, had worked her way over, checking it out closely.

“If I wasn’t pregnant, I’d probably climb in and take a seat,” she confesses as Christopher had to smile.

“You wouldn’t be the first guest to do so,” he reveals, as he had seen plenty of people stop by the house and want to try the car out for size. “Can I make you a deal? You can take a seat in it right after you have your baby.” She then looks over with a big smile on her face.

“You know, Chase could take a seat in it if he wants…” Morgan suggests, as  Christopher nods his head in agreement.

“Why don’t you help him while I go grab us all some drinks?” Morgan nods her head in agreement as Christopher heads to the kitchen, with Sarina in toe. “Do I want to know why you’re following me?”

“I thought that you could use some help,” Sarina comments as she leans back against the counter.

“I’d rather you be relaxing and taking care of yourself,” Christopher replies, remembering Chase’s words about the pregnancy. Instead, that just got an eye roll from her.

“I don’t need another babysitter, Christopher. I thought you learned about that before.” He chuckles, remembering the lecture offered to both her and Kyle. “Besides, I do have a question to ask you. I figured that it’s fair to ask you given that you and Morgan were there.”

“Go ahead….” Christopher was honestly afraid of the direction that she was going to go, afraid it’d result in him revealing the secret that Chase promised him to keep.

“Vivid dreams are said to happen during a pregnancy, and I had a good taste of one this morning – a flashback with a twist to what happened. But alas, some talking from Chase calmed me down. So with having my own reflections and issues since then, I don’t want to seem over concerned or bearing here. However, something seems off with Chase that I can’t peg…” Christopher immediately said ‘oh shit’ to himself, knowing another conversation would probably follow.

“What do you mean by that?” She then lets out a sigh as she shakes her head.

“It’s hard to describe. I know what he’s like when he’s going through something – the closed off feeling, distance, and stuck in his own trance at times. I’d come to expect it with Alison, and easily went through everything. However, it improved once he started seeing the psychiatrist, along with discussing things and working his way through those emotions.” Christopher crosses his arms, now growing a bit of confusion as he bit his tongue in the process.

“That sounds reasonable. Are you saying that we’re back to that with what happened?” Christopher could understand that given Chase’s nerves about Carter’s connection to Alison.

“In some ways we are. He had a flashback last week, and there’s nights that he’s not sleeping through the night – and yet won’t talk about it as much as I want him to. But even beyond that, something just seems odd Christopher. He keeps repeating the vows that we took to each other, the fact that he’ll do anything for me, the fact that he’s willing to do what it takes to protect his family.” The lack of surprise could be seen on Christopher’s face as it made sense with what he knew.

“When you go through something like this, it’s understandable that it makes you a step back. It makes you want to do whatever it takes to not repeat the circum-”

“My brother is locked away in prison. Bethany is locked away in prison. Alison is locked away in prison. Seth and Sean have been caught with Carter soon to be as well. Even with Carter on the loose, it still doesn’t make sense as everything is over. The chapter with Alison is over so we don’t have to worry about that. So why keep repeating it over?” Christopher immediately bit his tongue, set to blurt out the connection.

“Maybe he’s afraid of Carte-”

“He just got through dealing with the two most psychotic people that we know, one that I happen to be rela-”

“Don’t do that to yoursel-”

“We’re related, Christopher, and that’s all there is to it. I didn’t mean to say that it had any bearing on me, or my family.” She then takes a deep breath. “But you go through all that, and yet you’re afraid of a low-life criminal? That doesn’t make sense!” Christopher almost wanted to chuckle in response.

“It could, though. Everything that has happened through the past several years has heightened his fears – just like I was afraid when you went back to him of a repeat of everything. So for that reason, even the smallest thing affects and right now that is Carter.” Sarina lets out a sigh, almost ready to believe Christopher’s theory.

“So what am I supposed to do in the process?” Christopher hands her a glass, as he thinks it over carefully.

“Just be there for him. Assure him that everything is going to be fine. Comfort him. Help him through the tough moments. Do what you’ve done to get him to this point. It’s almost over – don’t give up now.” He hoped she remembered those words when it was revealed that they’d kept a secret from her.

“Sometimes I feel that I don’t do enough….” Christopher freezes, glancing back at her.

“Trust me, you do plenty enough. I know how much he appreciates you, and I know how much you appreciate him. Why do you think I’ve laid off despite caring about you?” It was why he was comfortable keeping the secret no matter how much he feared for how it’d affect their friendship.

“And now you two act like a couple best friends….” Christopher had to chuckle, but knew that she was right.

“I guess you could say that I’ve learned he’s not a bad guy.” He then makes his way back in the living room, handing Morgan her glass as he takes a look inside the midget. “You actually look comfortable in there.”

“It’s a little tighter than I’m used to, but I could get used to it,” Chase confesses. “Morgan did a good job explaining everything.” Christopher glances over at her with a smile of his own.

“She wasn’t the Knoxville princess for no reason,” he comments.

“You were going to show your crown…” Sarina recalls, remembering their discussion at the cabin when Morgan told her the tale of how she and Christopher got to know each other.

“Come on…” Morgan tells her, leading her through the house to where the crown sat.

“I have no problem with you staying in there all day,” Christopher starts as he kneels back down to Chase’s level. “But I suggest that you watch your actions. Sarina confronted in the kitchen about your behavior lately. She said that something was off, more so than normal after these incidents. She’s on to you and it took everything to not blurt it out.”

“I appreciate you doing this,” Chase replies as he slowly climbs out of the midget. “You just have to believe that we’re doing this for the right reasons.”

“I know….” Christopher then looks over to where Morgan and Sarina stood together, with Sarina trying the crown on. “She’s my best friend, and I’d do whatever I could for her. If this is going to help make sure that everything goes smooth until your daughter is born, I can’t argue against it.”