Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 102: “You Need to Come Run the Clash”

Friday, June 30

With a mostly quiet day on deck, Chase was surprised when he found himself up earlier than normal. However, perhaps that was because he had a lot on his mind.

After making a quick note for Sarina, he headed out off on a bike ride, hoping that it would clear his head.

Sarina’s brother had been something of discussion for the young man for awhile now – whether apprehension, fear, concern. As he rode down the hill towards the beach, he wondered why that concern seemed to grow more than he had hoped. Perhaps that was because the theory had continued to wrap around his mind over and over.

He debated with himself whether it was circumstance, or whether there was something to go with based on the discussion with Alan. He even thought about calling Jared to see what he truly had to say about Chris’ possible involvement.

He wondered as to whether Sarina could trust her brother, or perhaps she was letting her love and care for him overshadow what was right before them. Did he completely lie to her face without her knowing?

As he reached the beach, getting off the bike for a bit to dip his toes in the water, he could only let out a sigh. Why did it seem not a single question he asked himself had an answer to it? Why were the simplest things in life becoming so complicated now?

Perhaps it was because the things that Chris said at different times made it even more confusing. If he was set to move forward and regret what happened, why did he rehash the topic with Sarina? If he was glad to have his sister back in his life sincerely, why was he pushing her towards doing something she didn’t want to do?

“They’ve tried to fix me, but they never will.”  “You can change your name, but you can’t leave behind your past.”  “You’re trying to simply leave your family behind, because now you’re wrapped up in your new family. It’s a defensive mechanism in an effort to protect yourself from nothing.”

It seemed each comment that flew out of the guy’s mouth took up Chase’s thoughts, as he tried to dissect what was happening. Maybe it was just his concern and worry – could you blame him? But what if it was something more? He crossed his fingers and toes that wasn’t the case, as he didn’t want to waltz right into another trap.

Getting back on the bike, he had done nothing to clear the thoughts in his mind. However, there was no more time left to worry as he rode back to the track, set for a fun day. A qualifying session, followed by hanging out with Sarina, and then watching the XFINITY race should be make things interesting.

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

Sarina woke up sitting in the bed all alone, surprised by Chase’s note. Normally, he would wake her up and ask if she wanted to come. But yet today, instead, she got left with a note.

Letting out a sigh as she kicked the blankets off the bed, she could only wonder as to why. She grabs a towel before heading into the bathroom, turning on the water.

Standing on the hot water, her mind drifts back to the conversation the day before.

She found herself repeating the words from Christopher in her head over and over, wondering if maybe she had jumped the gun in yelling at him. It wasn’t like Christopher was the only suspicious person, supposedly, so maybe she could’ve given him benefit of the doubt for the warning. Instead, she had put her back up against the wall and flipped out on him. Wasn’t that always her defense mechanism?

She recalled the conversation with her brother, and how he denied the accusations. There was nothing in his words to tell her otherwise so she believed him. However, the comment on families still drew to her thoughts. Why would he release something like that? It kind of went along with the odd comment a week ago. Letting out a sigh, it was probably just him and his regrets for what happened on his part. She knew, whether he admitted it or not, there were some on his side of things.

She recalled the conversation with Chase, and how he paused in hearing a comment from her. He pushed it off as just being focused on a tweet – which was probably the case. However, the pause was certainly at an odd time and made her focus back to the comment.

She begins to wash the soap out of her hair, knowing that at this time she should be enjoying life. She was getting the opportunity she dreamed of, had a great boyfriend, and was in Florida for a vacation. What more could she ask for? However, instead, she found herself caught in her thoughts.

Climbing out of the shower and drying herself off, she knew she had to just let everything go. The key to moving forward was to always not focus on your regrets, but learn from those and focus on the future. Rather than mulling over these thoughts, why wasn’t she focusing on the fun day she was about to have?

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

A glance at the time, and Chase knew he had to be out to pit road soon. With his fingers firmly holding onto Sarina’s hand, the pair made their way out and walked down to where his No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet sat. A glance at each other, words didn’t need to be said. It was Daytona qualifying – sometimes you end up well, sometimes you don’t. It didn’t matter end of the day, though, because of the nature of the beast. This was just a formality in laying down laps.

“I’ll be back,” Sarina comments as she gives him a quick kiss before letting go of his hand. He looks on confused, but easily accepts as he knew that she’d do this normally. She had her own life and people to see, and probably had spotted someone. He watches her walk away, immediately rolling his eyes and freezing up a little as he notices her walking in Christopher’s direction. Given their debacle yesterday, he wasn’t too excited about what could happen next.

“I don’t want to talk to you if you’re going to yell at me again,” Christopher comments as he rolls his eyes. She could only take a deep breath, remembering her morning shower thoughts.

“I actually came to apologize,” she starts, causing him to look at her surprised. “I may have snapped on you a little too quickly. Sure, you were wrong to accuse my brother of something, and sure you shouldn’t kept your big mouth shut. But that said, you were just trying to warn me of what others were saying as a friend, teammate watching out for me. I should’ve given you that benefit.” Christopher shakes his head accepting, having wished that apology would’ve went a little different though.

“Like I said, I understood that you’d probably flip on me and be really upset. It’s the nature of the topic, right?” She shakes her head, in agreement.

“I’m not used to people caring about me and doing what’s right, thanks to just how everything has played out. The only person who came close to that was my father, and well…..I’d rather not discuss that. It’s why it took me a while to open up to Chase and accept him and our love together. It’s why I’m still a little hesitant around Kyle, Marcus, and talking about things that are personal. I guess what I’m trying to say as I shouldn’t have let my fears control how I reacted to you.”

“It’s okay. All is forgiven. I just like having you as a teammate, and think you’re a great person. I don’t want you to get screwed over or hurt because of something. Hence why I brought it up so you know what’s being said, and also watch a little.” She shook her head, accepting. It was the same thing that others had mentioned about her brother, too. She got the feeling based on Chase’s quietness at times, too.

“I appreciate that, and I will keep in mind what you said accordingly.” Christopher thanked himself for that as he knew any eyes on Chris were better than none.

The pair of teammates went back and forth for a bit, though all while keeping their eyes on the on-track action. It was no surprise when Chase made the final round of time trials, as he had done that at Daytona and Talladega earlier this year. Crossing her fingers, maybe it’d be nice to walk away with a pole today to put everything else in the rearview for a bit.

The final round seemed like it took forever, watching each car make two laps around the 2.5-mile oval, laying down the best lap that they could. Perhaps it was the anticipation that made it seem longer. Though as the checkered flag waved, there were no sad faces to be seen. Chase hadn’t gotten the pole, but he was set to start second in the race tomorrow night.

“Oops, I think I went a tick slower than I should have,” Chase commented as he walked up to Dale. “I just wanted to make sure you got a pole. You need to come run the Clash next year.” Dale then chuckles, remembering the comment he made about a possible comeback for the non-points show if he got a pole. There was no way to gauge speed and make sure he was slower than Dale to give him a pole, but it was worth a fun little kickback considering the chaos started yesterday.

 

“So you let me have that one?” Dale questions as Chase shrugs his shoulders. “I thought you said you wouldn’t be the guy to let anyone win.”

“That remains true for tomorrow night. Nice job, by the way.”

“Thank you.” Chase then heads down pit road, meeting up with Sarina as he gives her a quick kiss before they head out.

“Hopefully the rain stays away and we can enjoy our date night together.” She smiles as she cuddles up close to him through their walk, both smiling. It seemed every thought from earlier in the morning had escaped them in the simple bliss of spending time together.

The pair went back to the motorcoach, grabbing a bite to each together, before making their way out once again. They crossed the track, climbing up to their seats in the grandstands, set for a fun race that evening.

“I don’t get why you come up here to watch one of these races when you could be anywhere you want,” she comments as she looks over at him.

“It just brings me back to where I started,” Chase replies as he looks over at her. “It reminds me of my beginnings, why I got into this to begin with, and how fun it is. Besides, there’s no bad seat at Daytona to watch a race from.” She couldn’t help but agree with that statement, having tried a couple different spots during February Speedweeks.

“Well, you can always count on me to join you as you always pick good spots to sit.” He smiles as he wraps an arm around the back of her.

“I’m a trained professional, that’s why.” She then simply smiles as he snags a quick kiss as the cars head off pit road.

The pair got to enjoy the first 32 laps of the event from their seats, taking in the thrills with some cheers and some frustrated sighs. Chase found himself cheering for William Byron, impressed with how the young man had began to move forward after starting at the back. He also focused on the other JR Motorsports cars, seeing the same powerfulness in Elliott Sadler as always, placing bets that he’d probably win later on.

“Nah, it’s going to be Willy B!” Sarina had declared instead, causing a smile to form on Chase’s face. He couldn’t deny the youngster was talented.

Unfortunately, the pair did not get to watch the entire race as the skies opened, soaking them both through before they could get to cover and postponing the rest of the race till Saturday morning.

“I’d offer you a coat or something to keep you dry, but I’m just as wet,” Chase comments as they head down the steps together.

“What do you say we head back to the motorcoach, each get something dry and then watch a movie?” She questions, knowing how much of a movie buff he was. She had gotten her hands on “Drone,” which wasn’t supposed to be out for another couple of days. Knowing how much he liked a good action thriller, she hoped that it’d suit his fantasy that night.

“I’d have no problem with that, actually. It’ll feel nice to get out of these wet clothes.” The pair then head through the tunnel together, laughing as their feet sloshed in their shoes from how soaked they had gotten.

“I look like a drowned rat!” Chase chuckles as they continue running together.

“But you’re my cute drowned rat!” Sarina just rolls her eyes as she kicks a puddle of water at him. “Hey!” He then scoops her up in his arms, threatening to drop her in the puddle.

“Chase…no….Chase….” He just laughs as he lowers her a little bit more towards the puddle, though tips her back right side up before letting her go.

The pair continued laughing all the way back to the motorcoach, before entering together. Chase then takes his phone out of his pocket, drying it off as he sets it on the counter. He removes his t-shirt, which was clanged to his body being so wet, as he glances down at the phone and notices the three missed calls and nine text messages – certainly not normal for him.

He picks the phone up, seeing two of the calls came from Ryan Blaney while another came from his crew chief. He then opens the text message, seeing three from Ryan, three from his crew chief, one from Bubba, and two others he wasn’t set to place yet.

He opens the three from Ryan, curious as to why it seemed the young man had completely panicked on him.

“What the heck?” He questions, catching Sarina’s attention as she walks out of the bathroom from ringing out her hair. “Oh shit…” He then hurries past Sarina without a word, slipping off his soaked jeans for a pair of dry ones and grabbing the first t-shirt out of the drawer.

“What’s wrong?” She asks as she could see the panic on his face.

“Ryan was poisoned.” Her jaw drops immediately as she watches Chase grab another pair of running shoes out of the closet.

“I’m coming with you…” She then grabs her flip flops, slipping them on as she grabs the umbrella out of the closet.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 101: Suspicions and Villain?

Thursday, June 29

Christopher Bell takes a deep breath as he sits back, watching the pair hang out together. He knew the promise that he had made Sarina about keeping his distance, but he couldn’t help but wonder right now.

He watches as Chase heads off, set to begin his duties for the day. He then takes a deep breath, making his way over to where she was.

“Sarina!” He lets out, catching her attention as she gives him a quick smile.

“Hey Christopher,” she replies as he shoves his hands in his pocket, nerves building. “I’m surprised to see you down here on an off-week.”

“Figured I’d get to know the guys a little that I am going to work with later on this year.” Sarina shakes her head, having seen the announcement that Christopher was going to run select XFINITY events this season.

“I can’t argue with that logic, especially considering this weekend normally produces a great race.” He glances away, debating whether he should open his mouth or not, before looking back towards her.

“You can yell at me if I’m crossing the line or whatever, but I’m going to say this because I’m damn well worried. How much can you trust your brother? It just seems when there’s been poisoning incidents, he’s either been hard to trace. There was also mention from Jared that he was around then. I’m just wondering if history is repeating itself.” Sarina crosses her arms, looking at Christopher in the eyes, doing everything she could to not punch him then and there.

“So you’re saying that my brother is behind this?” Christopher didn’t know if he could say that exact quite yet.

“I’m saying it could be a possibility. I mean, KBM crew member, followed by JGR crew member, and then Hendrick crew member. You also add in Darrell Wallace, and there’s just some odd connections there, along with what I said already.” Sarina was really resisting the urge to punch him now.

“And for what bloody reason would he be doing this, Bell?” Christopher then put his hands up, defensively.

“Look, I don’t know. Jealousy? Spite? I’m just saying that we should consider all avenues. I mentioned it to Kyle and he said it was nothing. Chase has heard, too, and he said it’s nothing either. I just thought I’d be the polite one to warn you of the thought incase it is reality.” Sarina then takes her sunglasses off, closing the gap between the pair as she looks at Christopher in the eyes.

“What did I tell you a couple weeks ago? Do you remember?” He shakes his head yes.

“To stay out of your life.”

“Then why don’t you start doing that, jackass?” She then puts her sunglasses on, turning around and heading the other direction as she lets out an aggravated sigh.

She made her way through the garage area, trying to shake off the conversation with Christopher. However, as she thought about it more, she couldn’t help but see what was being said. Besides, there was the odd comment that he made before.

Instead of heading into the 24 hauler as she had originally planned, she went and found where her brother was hanging out.

“Can we talk?” She asks him as he looks over and shakes his head yes. “There’s suspicion about you surrounding the poisonings. People are saying that your location has been hard to place at time of events, combined with your questionable past. I don’t want to be an ass, but do you have something to say?” Chris shakes his head no.

“Why would I do such a thing?” He questions. “I told you before that I felt bad for everything that happened during that time, and I didn’t mean it. Why would I go back to those ways?” Sarina felt confident in his answer, as that was she had tried to tell herself when Christopher approached her.

“It’s just you made mention how I can never let my past go and it will always be a part of me.” He shakes his head, remembering the comment.

“I meant that you can’t just change your name and try and forget what happened. It’s something that’s part of who you are, and shapes what you do. Just because you try and forget it, or escape those people, doesn’t mean that it never happened as it may seem. I was trying to get you to think about coming to peace with everything and agreeing to the family reunion, possibly.” She then rolls her eyes, knowing that was still never a possibility.

“I told you what I thought about that, so can we not talk about it?” He shakes his head, accepting.

“You asked, I answered. I just wonder whether you’re forgetting your own family because you feel your new adopted family is better since there’s not all this chaos in members who you don’t agree with. I actually asked my psychologist about that one. He said it’s possible, but not true. Who knows…” Chris then walks away, as Sarina looks on confused.

She then shakes her head knowing that had nothing to do with her thought process. Her reason for ignoring the reunion was simple – she didn’t want to involve with the people that twisted her life upside down to begin with, as there were no words they could say to bring her parents back, or forgive themselves for what had happened.

Taking a deep breath, she reminds herself of the advice heard from those around her and decides to put it at the back of her mind, focusing instead on the upcoming day ahead.

The same couldn’t be said for her brother, who was now wondering whether the plan he and Bethany had put together was really going to pay off. If they were being found intriguing now, how were they going to pull off the next couple of rounds?

He then took out his phone, dialing her number, hoping for some reasoning.

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

Chase walks into the trailer, flopping back on the couch as he rolls his eyes.

“Well you look pleased…” Sarina comments, noticing his actions as he looks over at her.

“Media center availability – such fun, huh?” He questions as she looks on confused. “Oh, did you not see the lovely questions that they decided to go with?” She shakes her head no.

He then pulls out his phone, pulling up the transcript before handing it over to her.

YOU ARE SECOND TO DALE ON THE LAST LAP HERE, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?
“I am just hoping I have the right push to get around him.”

NO HESITATION TO PASS HIM?
“Absolutely not. I wouldn’t think twice about it if I had an opportunity to pass him. I am not going to let anybody win. Would you?”

“Why would they even ask if you would think of finishing second to someone?” Sarina questions as she hands him his phone back. “I mean, that’s just ridiculous! Everybody knows that every single racecar driver is going to go for the win, no matter who the hell is in front of them and what it means to that person.”

“Thank you,” Chase accepts her comment.

“So why the aggravation?” He then lets out a sigh as he opens up twitter.

“It’s just hearing the question to begin with, as you expressed, and now the local media is turning it into a big deal in how I’m the mean butthead that won’t help my teammate.” She then chuckles as she couldn’t believe it.

“Chase Elliott the villain? What has happened?” He shrugs his shoulders. “To be honest, that’s just ridiculous. I mean, I don’t even get how that happened. That person whoever they are should be banned from media centers for the rest of their life. By the way, is today ridiculous day or what? It goes along the lines of everything else today.” Chase then looks over, confused. “Would you believe that Christopher Bell thinks that I should be worried about my own brother hurting people?”

“Really?” She shakes her head yes.

“He came up to me today and made mention of it, trying to convince me and playing his damn worry card again. You can tell how far that went.” Chase could only imagine the drawback that Christopher got, but wondered if it was really warranted as he had his thoughts about her brother, too.

“I wouldn’t want to be him….”

“Of course, I did talk to my brother. By his answer, I say there’s not a thing to worry about – except the fact that he may be attending the family reunion. He also made mention that I may be avoiding my family because I don’t think of them that way anymore, due to having become a part of this adopted racing family and only thinking of that. Like, I’m using an avoidance measure.”

Chase about opened mouth on the comment as it only added to the theory about her brother being involved. By poisoning people, he could be taking charge against her new adopted family out of jealousy. It went along perfect with him saying that nobody could fix him and his other previous comments.

Shaking his head, he knew that it was probably just his own fear talking based on what had happened in the past. He had to remember that was all gone now, thanks to the great work of the doctors.

“Chase?” She questions, caught off-guard by his silence as he looks over.

“Sorry, just got busy reading a tweet,” he lies, not wanting to say something. He knew that she’d flip on him. It was why he was going to stick to what he had told both Alan and Kyle – concrete evidence before suspicion discussed. “Based on what you’ve been through, I wouldn’t blame you if you are using it as an avoidance measure because I would be doing that, too. However, to be fair, your reasons for not going are logical and you don’t need to defend yourself. If he’s really making you pick sides, then he’s not the sweet caring brother that you need in your life – no matter how you put it in needing each other. Don’t let him upset you, okay?” She shakes her head, accepting.

“And what do I do about ding-a-ling?” Chase had to laugh at her nickname for Christopher.

“The police have leads and interest into everything. Once it’s solved, you can rub it in his face that he was wrong and to stop doing what he’s doing. For now, just try and keep things work related between you guys, and if a problem arises speak to Kyle.” He then sets his phone down, wrapping an arm around her. “I thought we were supposed to be enjoying being in Florida together, getting a chance to soak up the sun rays and have some fun.”

“You’re the one that came in here all sulky because of a dumb reporter….” He then smiles, knowing that was true.

“Well, what do you say we forget about that and your ding-a-ling problem, and we focus on having some fun? I’m going to go run this practice session, and then we should go to the beach.” She smiles, liking that idea.

“Can I bury you in the sand?” He knew he’d hate that with how it would tickle, but it’d be a nice change in pace.

“I don’t see why not.”

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

Chase relaxes back in the trailer, glancing over at Alan as he types up the last bit of notes.

“I thought you’d be long gone to the beach by now,” Alan comments as he notices Chase sitting there.

“Actually, I need to tell you something instead,” Chase says, catching the crew chief’s attention. “Bell approached Chris about all of our concerns in him being involved, by the way. Sarina told me before practice. She said that he mentioned how there’s suspicions, playing the worry card, and wondering if maybe she could look into it.” Alan was hoping something would be said, but obviously didn’t want to be the one to do it because he didn’t want to get in the midst of their relationship. He knew he should buy Christopher a Christmas card now.

“What’d she say?” Chase rolls his eyes, remembering the response.

“She said she talked to her brother, actually. By his answers, though, she’s not worried about anything as she feels he’s innocent and same deal that we’ve said about coincidence.” Alan then closes his laptop, focusing on Chase. The notes could wait as safety was paramount – especially considering there had been talk of a bomb threat around Daytona, with police even investigating it at one point during the day. Like everything else so far, those cops found nothing.

“Coincidence was something we discussed, but you also said there were worries with what he said to you, too.” Chase knew that, as those words continued to haunt him.

“He told me that nobody could fix him, no matter what I did in trying to catch him as they had tried before. It’s the stupidest line, but I guess it makes me question the whole tumor theory and whether it’s a fix or not.” Alan shakes his head, understanding.

“You know, I’ve heard about people in his situation that have changed after having a tumor removed. So it’s not too far fetched. I also get why you’re worried, though, because of what you saw and your own fear speaking. Now, did Sarina mention anything else?” Chase shakes his head yes.

“He told her that she may be avoiding her family reunion because she doesn’t think of them in that way no more, due to having found a new family in racing. I don’t want to sound strange here, Alan, but what if he’s behind the attacks and the reason is he wants to eliminate her new family piece by piece out of jealousy? He’s so fixated on rekindling what they had, the past, not holding a regret against actions made – what if this is out of spite?” Alan knew the theory could be on to something, and was glad he hadn’t changed his thought process.

“Now do you see why I told you to be extra careful?” Chase shakes his head yes. “Promise me that will continue?” He shakes his head yes, once again. “Have you thought about talking to the authorities?”

“I don’t want to say anything right now till we have some sort of proof. I don’t want to throw the trust that Sarina and I have away because of a fear and theory that I have. I’d rather make sure I’m right, first. Besides, they already have him on their list.” Alan knew that, having heard what Jared had told them.

“That’s fair and understandable, and for your sake – I hope he is not the one behind everything.”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 90: AAA 400 Drive for Autism

Christopher Bell leans back against a post, watching Chase and Sarina walk through the garage together. He could only let out a sigh as Todd Gilliland walked up to join him.

“You seem a little disheartened watching them,” Todd comments, catching a glance from Christopher. “If I didn’t know you had a girlfriend, I’d say you were crushing on her.” Christopher chuckles as he lets out a sigh.

“She’s not that bad looking bud, but you’re right – no crushing,” Christopher says. “I’m just thinking about what she said to me.”  Todd then glances over surprised.

“When she called you a jackass?” Christopher laughs and shakes his head no.

“We talked on Friday, actually. She asked me to get off her back and stop annoying her about Chase. I said I guess I could, but I had my reasons. I mean, you know – oh wait, you probably don’t know much about the fight they had after what happened at the Winter Meltdown, do you?” Todd shakes his head no. “Anyways, I have my doubts and concerns of their fight and what happened with her brother. I’m worried about her, you know? So she accepted that they were reasonable concerns in response, and told me her reasons as to why they weren’t bothering her. I accepted.”

“So that should mean this is all over and you staring is nothing, right?” Christopher glances at his teammate and shrugs his shoulders.

“It should, but I asked her why it meant a lot to her. Let’s just say that her response was interesting as to her background, and how she hasn’t had that person for stability or trust in her life – till she got the chance to run a late model down here, and till she met Chase. He’s only the second person, per her, to give her a true chance. It made me think…”

“You’re starting to realize that you were a jackass?” Christopher turns his head sharply as Todd smiles. “Hey, it’s okay to admit it. We’ve all done that before.”

“I guess…..”

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

Chase stood by the car on pit road, leaning against it as he lets out a sigh. If it was up to him, he’d just snap his fingers and it would be race time. Instead, he had to wait impatiently for opening ceremonies to commence.

“I’m surprised you don’t got a body guard or something hanging around,” He hears and glances over at his mom. He takes off his sunglasses, giving her a surprised glance.

“Why do you say that?” He questions, waiting for some reference to Sarina’s brother.

“Between Jared being poisoned, to that driver at Bristol, and then now Jake this weekend, I thought security would’ve been increased.” He couldn’t blame her as he had wondered the same after the events experienced. However, instead, they each go briefed on the happenings and that was all.

“We were just warned about the usual protocol of watch where you get stuff from, and make sure nobody is slipping something in your cup. That’s why this is being held close…” His mom walks over, giving him the once over as she glances at the bottle of Gatorade.

“Have they done any proper investigating?” Bill wonders. “Any leads?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, knowing the authorities were giving little details as possible.

“I know Jared went through a good questioning session with them as they wondered what he remembered and who was around him. Alan, Greg and a couple of the guys also got questioned as to how much he was around them and away from them, and also background checked due to possible reasoning – who knows why. I had a quick round of questions with them being my crew member, and Sarina spent a good round with them due to Jake.”

“Any update on Jake?” Sarina smiles as she walks over, wrapping an arm around Chase.

“I went and saw him yesterday actually,” she states. “He’s doing pretty good. They said that he is in the clear so he should be released soon and back to work. Didn’t Jared go back to work this week?” Chase shakes his head yes, pointing to him as he sat on the wall with the other guys.

“That’s good to hear.”

“Oh yes, because everybody needs Jared picking on them,” Chase comments as Jared perks up.

“Did you say something over there, Mr. Elliott?” Jared questions as Chase looks back.

“You’re hearing things…” Jared then stands up and walks over.

“I don’t think so….” He then wraps an arm around Sarina and leads her away. “Listen, that boy there, he’s trouble. You got to watch that one. I tell you he’s going to play games with you.” She then laughs as she looks back over at Chase.

“I don’t think I have anything to worry about man,” she comments as she sneaks out of his grasp and back over to Chase.

“Find your own girl; this sweetpea is all mine,” Chase says as he gives her a quick kiss.

“Sweetpea?” Bethany questions as she walks over. “That’s an interesting nickname that I’d never hear said in reference to Sarina.” Sarina then looks over at her cousin and brother.

“And that’s a nickname that you’ll never ever damn well repeat,” Sarina states as Bethany just smirks at her.

“Wait till the family reunion. Sarina Sweetpea Ott.” Sarina glances down at the comment, shaking her head.

“We’re having one of those?” Bethany shakes her head yes. “Lovely. Count me out.”

“Why is that?” Sarina looks over at her cousin.

“Because I told you damn well what I thought of the family. Wasn’t that made clear already? Been through enough shit to do that.”

“Easy,” Chase comments as he rubs her shoulders. “Bethany, why don’t you can the topic for now and we talk about it later, okay?” She then rolls her eyes as she glances at Chris.

“Want to go find our seat?” She question and he shakes his head yes. They then head off together as Chase lets out a sigh.

“Family ties that bad?” Bill questions as they walk away and Sarina shakes her head yes.

“I’d rather not talk about it, but yeah,” she answers as she glances into Chase’s eyes. He knew her reasons as he kept his arms tightly wrapped around her.

“Hence why I said that I couldn’t trust them,” Cindy says, earning a stern glance from both Bill and Chase. “Don’t give me that look. You boys know what I said.” Sarina remembered her thoughts when speaking with Bell as she takes a deep breath. If she was going to earn Cindy’s trust, that started now.

“Cindy, I know I have a questionable past and certainly I know that has caused issues – I apologize continually over and over for what happened. But I can assure you and promise you that I will never, ever hurt your son again or your family. I love you both and you’re both sweet as ever, and that’s not my intention here. I love Chase, I can’t wait for what’s to come in the future, and there’s really no words to describe what I feel. I just hope that over time you can give me the respect and maybe a little love that I’ve got for you.” Cindy crosses her arms, eyes focused on the young lady in her son’s arms.

“With all due respect Ms. Chelsy Dryer, I can’t just turn a leaf and pretend that nothing happ-”

“I understan-”

“So don’t expect me to just bend over and say everything is fine till I damn well see what you’re saying. Based on your questionable family history and given your brother’s past, I think I have a very reasonable concern as to why I’m not comfortable with Bethany or Chris hanging around Chase and everybody. I think there’s reasons for me to double check safety at times. You probably get that, don’t you? Perhaps if you would’ve taken the whole deal seriously from the start, ousted your brother, solved this problem and then kept distance, you could’ve got what you wanted.” Sarina felt taken back by the comments – even more surprised in the usage of her real name. However, it was understandable given Cindy’s feelings on the situation.

“I understand what you’re saying, fully. All I can do is say my peace and try and show you, and hopefully it comes over time. There’s nothing else to say. And as far as my brother, we went through that in what happened with the brain surgery and such.” Cindy rolls her eyes, remembering.

“Don’t need a reminder. Chase, good luck today sweetheart. I hope you have a good run and we’ll talk after.” Chase rolls his eyes, knowing the discussion will be again whether he should trust Sarina or not. A glance at his dad hopefully meant that he’d have a talk with her first.

“Thanks,” he replies. “I love you.” He lets go of Sarina, walking over to give his parents each a hug, before returning to her as they make their way down pit road.

“I’m sorry….” Sarina says quietly as he pulls her back close.

“You don’t have to a single thing to say sorry about. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has a questionable decisions of their past. It’s not your fault what your family did. I know you feel bad for your mistakes and yes they hurt, but it’s okay. I’ve forgiven you because of the effort that you’ve put forth to fix the situation and just by how much you love me.” He turns her around in his arms, looking into her eyes. “I love you….”

“But I started that deal with Betha-”

“You have every right to skip that family reunion and tell her that straight up. I was fine with that. I just got her to cool off for now because we don’t need to do that here.” Sarina then glances down.

“But your mother….” He then puts his hand under her chin, tilting her head back up so their eyes were locked together.

“Remember – I told you that it’d take time with my mom. She’s going to test and twist you every way that she can imagine. That’s because I’m her baby bear, and she’s going to do whatever she can to protect me – she’s always been that way. Don’t let what she says get to you and trust that over time, she’ll see why I love you so much and love you just the same. She did let you in her house, right?” Sarina chuckles and shakes her head yes. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She then gives him a kiss as they hear the cue for opening ceremonies.

Letting out a sigh as he grabs her hand firmly, he couldn’t wait for the race to start and leave this all in the rearview. There was some nagging part of him that agreed with his mom’s concerns over Chris. Bethany – that was an unsolvable interest.

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

Sarina walks up to him after the race, wrapping both arms around him as she reaches up and kisses his lips.

“I’m so damn proud of you!” She tells him. “You drove your butt off on that last restart to get up there and snag a top-five. That’s how you do it.” He then smiles as he spins her around his arms.

“It’s nice to break the curse, as we say,” he replies as he sets her back down. “And thank you.”

“You’re amazing. I can’t wait for your first win…”

“You’re going to get one, too.” He then takes her hand, giving the pit crew a quick wave before they head off together.

“What are we going to do about this week?” He lets out a sigh and shakes his head. Beyond Monday, the pair weren’t going to get a lot of time together. he was off to Chicago to test on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed her heading off to Texas on Thursday for practice. She was then racing in Texas on Friday while he was at Pocono for practice and qualifying. With her plans to stay in Texas on Saturday for the IndyCar race, that meant the pair wouldn’t see each other till Sunday – and that was only if she made the trip from Texas to Pocono for the Cup race.

“Promise me that you’ll text me and face time as much as you can?” She shakes her head yes.

“Of course. Promise me that you’ll kick ass?” He then laughs.

“As long as you do the same.” He then lets out a sigh as he looks towards her. “We better get used to this as we have a long summer ahead of us.” She shakes her head, knowing there were going to be plenty of weekends apart.

“As long as we both run well and remind each other of how much we love each other, I say we’ll be okay.” He smiles as he gives her a hand a squeeze.

“I hope you’re right…”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 89: Bar Harbor 200

Friday at Dover International Speedway

Sarina walks through the garage area with Chase, giving him a quick kiss before letting him head off for practice. She then took a deep breath, continuing to make her way through the garage. She signed a couple autographs throughout her walk, before reaching the Kyle Busch Motorsports hauler.

“This needs to be done,” she calmly reminded herself as she took another calming deep breath. “This needs to be done….” She then walks up to the door, sliding it open and walking inside. She immediately comes face-to-face with her teammate, giving herself some more calming deep breathes. She wasn’t ever good at staying calm in these situations.

“You called?” Christopher Bell questions and she shakes her head yes.

“We need to talk about our issues,” she answers as he crosses his arms. Needless to say, she could tell that he had the same attitude as her normally.

“Our issues?”

“Well duh. Do you not recall what happened yesterday in the garage?” He rolls his eyes, shaking his head yes. His crew chief had already mentioned to him that it’d be best to clean up his actions.

“Let me guess – Marcus told you that we should work out our issues?” She shakes her head yes. “That figures as I got the same lecture. So, what’s it going to be?” She crosses her arms, knowing there was only one way through this.

“What is it going to take for you to damn well lay off Chase and I? It’s clearly obvious that you have a problem with us. You told me straight up at the shop that you didn’t trust him because of what happened. Well news flash, I trust him from one end of the earth to the other. If anybody should have a reason to not trust, it’s him for what I did. Now should that concern you? I don’t think not as it doesn’t concern me, hence why we’re together and better than ever. So, can you lay off please?” He lets out a sigh, wishing he could just say the words and do as she pleases. However, he couldn’t allow himself to do that.

“If you’d prefer that I lay off, I supposed I can keep my mouth shut for your sake. However, don’t think that I’m not going to keep my eye on you or him. I have some reasonable concerns that I’m sure plenty of others have as well based on what happened. I mean Sarina, how is it he can take you back so quick after you lied to him? How is it that you can handle things with him when he straight up admits that he’s nervous about your brother?” She lets out a sigh, having explained this already to Christopher.

“I’m not going through this again with you, Christopher. Can we just agree for you to shut your flap?”

“Can we just agree for you to consider my concer-”

“What is it going to take to get through your damn head?!?” A smile forms across his face as he keeps his eyes on her.

“Sarina Ott, the tough as nails female racer that nobody could crack and always held her own. Despite any challenge her way, she would never back down and stood guard to that person. Here was the girl that would never crack, shout – just give you straight up attitude back and let the talking happen on the track. But yet, here we are, and you can’t keep your damn cool and are shouting at me about your boy. Do you see what’s happening? You know my concerns are valid so therefore you have to push beyo-”

“Did I ever tell you that your concerns weren’t?” She then takes a deep breath, knowing that he was right though. It was amazing the things that love caused you to do. “I explained the trust deal. I explained why he was able to easily forgive me – hello the fear and everything. I explained why things are a mess with him and my brother – understandably as my brother basically tortured him for a good year. Like I said, their valid and I get why you can’t get it right away. The same way I get that Cindy has iss-”

“So his mom doesn’t like you, either? Oh man, that’s never going to fly knowing that boy as family means everything to him.” Sarina glances down, knowing that he was right in those words. She knew she’d have to work on Cindy over time if their future was going to be set, but she was fine with that. Like everything else, she understood the concerns.

“Like I was saying, everything is fair and valid. But, can you please give me the benefit of the doubt and shut up about it? I don’t need constant reminders. I don’t need you getting under his skin. I don’t need you always trying to shove it in my face. I get the damn mistakes made. Now give me the space to fix them, please!” Christopher leans back against the drawers, understanding where she was coming from as he keeps his eyes locked on hers.

“Why does this mean so much to you, Sarina? I want the truth…” She then glances back down as she looks away partially.

“My life has always been a mess. I’ve always been fighting against my own family and issues – just ask my brother about the deals that happened with our parents. My father was no perfect man and that caused tensions and resulted in what happened. I’ve always been on the run, trying to leave demons behind.” She then takes a deep breath as she looks up at Christopher. “When Chase gave me the chance to drive for him, it really set things down and gave me a chance for the life I wanted. It gave me a chance to have solid grounding, to stop worrying, and actually build towards what I wanted. Then when we started dating, he is the only second person in my life besides Tony Leons that I could truly trust and know that no matter what happened, things would be okay. I don’t want to lose that….”

“What about your cousin Bethany and your brother?” She lets out a small chuckle.

“Things have never been smooth there, nor has there ever been any grounding. Let’s just say that what we’ve seen this year is the first time I’ve seen something I wanted out of them both.” Christopher felt himself breaking for her, understanding her perspective.

“I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and leave you be. I get it and understand why you want this so badly now. To be honest, even though I was ribbing the heck out of you and bugging you, I want you to be happy. I want things to work with you and Chase. I hope they do work out, and you both get the happiness you deserve.” She looks up with a smile on her face.

“Thanks Christopher. You won’t say anything about this conversation to anyone, will you?” He shakes his head no. “Good, or else I may actually kick your ass.” He then walks over to her, wrapping an arm around her.

“Everybody has a vulnerable side, and that’s okay. As long as you handle it right and trust the right people, it’s fine. I’ve got your back.”

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

Chase Elliott walks up the steps, taking his usual seat on the pit box as he was set to take in the truck race that afternoon. Silently crossing his fingers, he hoped that Sarina had the good run that she wanted.

He watched her through the first stage, seeing how loose the No. 18 Toyota Tundra was off the corners. However, like she had impressed him a couple years ago in the late model, she managed to keep it out of trouble and gain some track position, crossing the finish line for the first stage in fifth.

His eyes remained focused on her through the next stage, in hopes that she’d continue to make up ground. Restarting 16th, his nerves for her were edgy in knowing how quickly Miles could snatch you up with a single bite. However, she kept it clean, moving forward up to the eighth spot by Lap 74.

Ahead of her, a couple trucks got together, sending someone spinning. She slowed up to avoid after the call on the radio from her spotter, just to be hit from behind.

“Shit!” He heard her curse over the radio, feeling his heart drop. So much for the good run that she needed. “How bad is it?”

“It’s easily repairable,” the spotter announces over the radio, peaking Chase’s interest. “Left rear and bumper cover, crew chief.”

“10-4 bring it in,” Marcus instructs as he focuses his eyes on the pit crew. It was obvious what they needed to do.

The repairs came easily, with her returning to the track near the back and ready to make up the lost ground. Both Marcus and Chase crossed fingers in hoping the repairs were enough, watching her drive from 17th to 12th over the next 12 laps to complete the stage.

“Stay out!” Marcus instructs at the end of the stage, given that they only had 12 laps on their tires. “Going to gain some position here.”

“Whatever you say boss,” she replies, knowing that she could trust Marcus in seeing their work together already this year, and his past with Timothy Peters.

Restarting seventh, she made her way up through the traffic to the third spot, before having to under green for fuel on Lap 156. Now trapped a lap down, the field began to cycle through stops which was set to put her back on the lead lap. However that happened, the caution flew as Chase Briscoe’s wheel went rolling onto the track after coming loose.

“Crap!” Marcus lets out as he shakes his head. He knew that was pretty much the end of them getting the top-five finish they deserved. “Just try to do what you can here, and hope you get a caution for the lucky dog.”

She would put herself into position, running in the lucky dog spot after the restart. However, a caution failed to fall in the final 25 laps, trapping her a lap down and handing them a ninth place finish.

“Solid day everyone,” Marcus says over the radio. “Great effort all day. Great truck. Great driving. Sorry about the strategy.”

“It happens – you were just trying to make up what we lost,” Sarina says, not feeling a drop of disappointment. “Great job today guys!”

Climbing from the truck afterwards on pit road, a smile was firmly planted on her face the entire time. Normally, she had to admit in the past that she’d pissed about coming so close and falling short at the end. However, given how the past month had gone along with the fact that they still got a top-10, it was a great effort. It was the solid footing that they needed moving forward into the summer. It also didn’t help that she found Dover to be a very fun track, and couldn’t wait to race there again sometime.

“I’m proud of you,” Chase says as he gives her a hug, followed by a kiss. “You did a great job all day. Great driving, great maturity – you’re growing into quite the driver.”

“Why thank you Mr. Elliott,” she replies with a smile.

“I just may have to treat you out to dinner tonight as a present.” She then looks on surprised as they hadn’t gone out for dinner much since they started dating.

“Really?” He shakes his head yes. “I wouldn’t mind that one bit, actually. It’d be nice to get some alone time…”

“Just promise me you’ll both behave,” Marcus comments over her shoulder as she glances back, giving the crew chief a smack as he laughs. “I don’t want to find out my driver is preg-”

“Marcus!!” They both yell together as he laughs even harder while walking away.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 88: “Good luck with that, jackass!”

Thursday, June 1

Sarina walks into the garage, placing her helmet and gloves on the dash of the truck. She then noticed her teammates and their crew chiefs standing around, concerned. She then grabs her phone out of her pocket, walking over to join them.

“What’s going on?” She questions her crew chief Marcus Richmond.

“Another crew member has been poisoned,” Marcus tells her, causing her jaw drop to immediately. “One of our guys, actually – Jake. He’s going to be okay, so you don’t have to worry. But it just caught us off-guard.” She shakes her head in obvious agreement.

“First Bristol, then one of Chase’s guys and now Jake,” Harrison Burton says as he finds himself puzzled by the events.

“When did this happen?” She wonders as she glances amongst the group.

“Earlier today while we were going through tech, he seemed a little off and sure enough, that was it,” Marcus explains. “He said he had some food and he had a couple drinks while we were working before then so who knows as that could’ve been the cause.”

“You guys cleaned out the cooler incase, right?” Todd Gilliland wonders as he looks over the bottle of Gatorade that he had grabbed and Marcus shakes his head yes.

“So you’re late getting here,” Christopher Bell comments, in reference to Sarina’s late arrival. “Where have you been? Hanging out with the boy?” Sarina just rolls her eyes, getting annoyed of Christopher’s comments.

“I’ve been here since early this morning, just doing some sponsor things and other commitments – you can ask Marcus,” she states in a stern tone. “And as far as your comments with regards to Chase, he’s not even here today. He has his own commitments, you know?”

“We don’t need to get defensive,” Marcus comments, noticing the change in Sarina’s behavior as she focuses her eyes on Christopher.

“I’m sorry. It’s just Christopher can’t seem to keep his nose out of his business lately. Ever since Chase and I had that fight, he’s been riding my ass about everything. I thought you had a girlfriend, Bell.” Todd and Harrison look between their teammates with their own look of shock as Marcus could only roll his eyes.

“So I’m in trouble for caring about your well-being now?” Christopher asks as she just laughs.

“Caring?” She repeats. “Dude, you’re always accusing his ass of something when you feel something is off. Like today with whether we were busy today. There was also the trouble in paradise comment at fan day. Oh, and the best was the catch me off-guard in shop for discussion. It’s one thing to care, it’s another thing to be an annoying little brat who just annoys me!” Marcus could only look on in shock as he hadn’t heard of anything going on, nor did he feel like being a babysitter today.

“Well I’m sorry for offending you with my way of caring, Ms. Princess. I’ll be sure to keep my paws away from your little crown. Hope I kick your ass this weekend.” Christopher then turns and heads towards his garage stall as she just rolls her eyes.

“Good luck with that, jackass.”  She then turns and heads over to her truck, taking a glance inside to make sure things were how she wanted.

“Good luck with them,” Harrison says as he gives Marcus a quick pat on the back. “We’ll see you later…”

“Yeah, thanks,” Marcus replies as he watches Harrison and Todd head off together. He could only let out a sigh, knowing that it was going to be interesting with Sarina and Christopher at odds. The boss’ reaction would be priceless at this time.

“Ready for practice, Marcus?” Sarina questions as she turns to face her crew chief. He immediately heads over to her direction, working at putting what happened aside.

“You know, you and Christopher need to work out whatever is going on. We can’t be having that crap.” She then rolls her eyes as she turns away from him. This was why she hated having teammates sometimes.

“So I’m just supposed to let go what he said, Marcus? Yeah, that sounds right. Until he learns his boundaries, he can kiss my ass. Now, we have a practice to focus on, right?” He lets out a sigh, shaking his head yes.

He knew he could argue more with her, but knew that wouldn’t get him anywhere, given how stubborn she was per Kyle and Chase. That was something that would be left up for her to either deal with, or Kyle since he knew how to handle behavior like that.

The practice ended up going better than they could’ve originally imagined as she topped both practice sessions on the afternoon. She also felt comfortable with the truck’s handling, feeling that she’d be good over the course of a long run through the entire stage lengths.

Wrapping up the day and putting her helmet back away, she couldn’t help but smile at the prospects for Friday.

Once she was done for the day, she headed into the motorcoach lot and walked to where Chase’s motorcoach was parked. She brought up the password in her phone, while pulling the key out of her small purse. She punched the password in, before unlocking the door and heading inside.

She walks in, tossing her purse on the small table as she goes to the fridge and pulls herself out a drink. She then walks over, flopping back on the couch as she looks at her phone. She could only count the hours till he landed in Dover, Delaware and would join her there.

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

Chase unlocks the door and heads inside, slipping his shoes off. A smile immediately forms on his face as he sees her sprawled out on the couch, sleeping. He walks by quietly, setting dinner on the small island table. He heads back to the couch, kneeling down to her level. He then lightly kisses her lips as he runs a hand through her hair. As if on call immediately, she sits up, sending him flying backwards as he falls back on his ass.

“Ouch!” He lets out immediately as she sits up, reaching for the first thing she could – the remote.

“Get up and walk any closer and I’ll throw this at your face!” She yells as he sits up slowly, putting his hands in the air. “Oh….” She then sets down the remote as he laughs.

“Who did you think I was?” He questions as she shrugs her shoulders.

“Are you okay?” He stands up, brushing off his jeans, shaking his head yes.

“My ass is a little sore, but I’ll be fine. It’s nice to see you, too.” She just smiles as she reaches out for his hand, pulling him back close to her.

“Now that I know it’s you, I wouldn’t mind that kiss again.” He smiles as he kisses her lips once again, before picking her up in his arms. “Woah….”

“I brought you dinner.” He then carries her over to the table, sitting her down on the bench on one side, before taking his place on the other side.

“Thank you. Maybe I’ll give your butt there a little rub after to make it feel better.” He laughs as he opens the bag.

“That’s certainly one way to get a greeting from your girlfriend….” She chuckles herself as she takes her dinner from him.

The pair focused on their food. She talked a little bit about how practice went. She also told him about Jake being poisoned earlier in the day, and how he was going to be okay. He talked about the sponsor appearance he had to go to. He also mentioned the crew lunch with the guys. It was more or less small talk for dinner, till they got near the end of their meals.

“So I pissed off Christopher today,” Sarina reveals quietly, catching Chase’s attention.

“Bell?” He asks and she shakes her head yes. He rolls his eyes, remembering their last conversation about him. He had been a little pushy from what Chase could recall. “What happened?”

“Well, I showed up later to the garage than he, Harrison and Todd did because I had that appearance with Toyota and the interview to film for that local TV station. So he made the comment of my late arrival, asking where I’d been and whether I was hanging out with you, basically implying it was your fault that I was late.” Chase could only shake his head as he heard that.

“Of course…..”

“So I told him that I’d been there since the morning, doing commitments and told him to talk to Marcus if he didn’t believe me. Then I added that you weren’t even here today, and that ‘you have your own commitments’.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. It seemed reasonable so far. He had to admire her tactic of response.

“That’s fair…”

“So then Marcus goes that I don’t need to be so defensive towards Christopher as obviously, he has no idea about what happened previously so he didn’t get the true meaning behind the tone of his voice. That’s when I said that I was sorry, but Christopher can’t keep his nose out of my business. I told Marcus and basically everybody there that since we had our little fight, Christopher’s been on my ass about our relationship and then told Bell that I thought he had his own girlfriend.” Chase couldn’t help but laugh, even if perhaps she had taken her response a little too far.

“Well, they say if someone is bugging you that you should make them aware. You were just telling him how he was bugging you since things happened. What’s wrong with that?” Sarina rolls her eyes, remembering the comments from Marcus and Christopher afterwards.

“Well then he said, ‘So I’m in trouble for caring?’. I basically flipped on him, saying that it wasn’t fair that he was always accusing of you shit from one end to the other and that there’s a difference between caring and what he was doing. I basically told him that he was an annoying little brat who just annoys me.” Chase’s jaw drops in shock, but he couldn’t help but cheer inside. He knew how annoyed he had made her.

“Please tell me that Marcus backed you up….” She then laughs.

“Marcus didn’t say a bloody word, or bother to take anybody’s side. He’s rather more concerned about team morale, but more on that later.” Chase was ready to eat the rest of his dinner, but couldn’t with what was on tap to be said.

“There’s more?” She shakes her head yes. “Oh boy…..”

“Well after my comment, he apologized for offending the ‘princess’ and that he’d keep his paws away from my crown. Then he said he hoped to kick my ass this weekend. That’s when I told him, ‘Good luck with that, jackass.’” Chase laughs as he couldn’t believe what he had missed earlier that day.

“Can’t blame you…..”

“Well then after he left, Marcus suggested that Christopher and I talk about whatever we got going on and work that out as we can’t have that crap going on. That’s when I turned to Marcus and basically said, ‘So I’m just supposed to let go what happened?’ He didn’t say anymore as we focused towards practice, but I could tell that he was a little ticked.” She then looks down at the table, before looking back up across at Chase. “Did I do anything wrong?”

“You stood up for yourself. Christopher is just going to keep being an ass if you don’t say anything. If he gets it through his brain that you’re annoyed, he’ll let it go maybe. That’s all you were doing. Did you take the wrong approach? Perhaps as some of the comments weren’t needed, but he also didn’t need to make the princess comment. Anybody that knows you knows better than that as you’re no perfect princess.” She shakes her head, accepting. It felt better that Chase had her back, even if she knew a possible lecture from Kyle was coming in the future.

“Thanks. I appreciate the support.” He then reaches across the table, grabbing her hand and holding it.

“I’ve always got your back, just like I know you have mine. Oh, and if Kyle says something, just explain what is going on. He’ll understand and perhaps say something to Christopher, too.”

“Kyle understanding? Do you realize how many people would laugh if they heard you say that after this past weekend?” He shakes his head yes.

“Dale is bringing him a snickers on Friday.” She then laughs with a shake of her head.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 84: Fan Day!

 

Friday, May 27 – Coke 600 Weekend

 

Sarina goes through the halls of Kyle Busch Motorsports, smiling as she sees the crowd of people through the next set of doors. It was going to be a busy day.

“All those people here to see you?” Chris asks as he follows his sister through the halls. She looks back and shakes her head yes.

“Well, not entirely as Christopher, Harrison, Todd and Samantha are also signing autographs too,” she answers. “But I’d think that I’ve gained some fans of my own.”

“I don’t get why people wouldn’t be your fan as you’re awesome,” her cousin Bethany comments as she goes through the final set of doors. She then takes her seat at the table between Todd and Christopher, looking at the hero cards. “Is it insane the feeling of seeing your face on those cards?” Sarina laughs and shakes her head no.

“It’s surreal sometimes when I’m signing them…” She then sits back, set for the doors to open shortly as she glances over at Todd. “I’m surprised your little video star isn’t here.”

“We thought about it, but it’d probably be too long of a day as he gets anxious and excited easily,” Todd comments, referring to the dog that they used for their announcement. “I’m surprised how late you were getting here.”

“Let’s just say it’s been a bit of a long morning getting ready,” she replies, causing a curious glance from Christopher Bell.

“Trouble in paradise, again?” He questions and she rolls her eyes immediately. She wished she could smack him sometimes.

“Chase and I are perfectly fine for your information, Bell. It’s just my hair wouldn’t co-operate and then one of his crew guys was poisoned yesterday. Thankfully he’ll be alright.”

“I heard about that actually,” Harrison comments as he glances over at the group. “Crazy though as first Bristol, now Charlotte. You’d think NASCAR and security would be watching things more closely.”

“That’s what I said to Chase,” Sarina comments. “But as Alan pointed out to him, they can’t very well sometimes tell as it may look like one thing and be something else, right? We just got to be careful.”

“No drinks from strangers, no weird foods – all those things that my mother goes on about anyway.” He then glances over to where his mom was standing off on the side with some others. “I just hope she didn’t hear me.”

“It’s okay to be mommy’s little boy still, Harrison,” Todd teases as Harrison just rolls his eyes.

“Chase is and everybody thinks that’s adorable,” Christopher adds, earning a glance from Sarina. “What?”

“I’ll bite my tongue for now, again,” she replies as the line starts moving, marking the official start of the autograph session.

Off to the side, Bethany and Chris watch Sarina sign autograph after each other, taking a few photos with some of the fans.

“Where’d you go yesterday, by the way?” Bethany questions, causing Chris to look at her curiously.

“What do you mean?” He asks as she rolls her eyes.

“We got separated. Where’d you go?” He thinks back to yesterday in the pits and smiles.

“I went and checked out the fan fair. You should head over there when we’re at the track tomorrow. There’s a lot of fun activities to do.” She looks at him surprised as he keeps the same glance back at her. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you that I was heading over that way. I figured you were concentrated on watching Chase practice.”

“I actually had my eyes on someone else….” She then smiles, thinking back to the young man that she had noticed talking with Chase the week prior.

“You got a crush on someone….” The smile immediately escapes her lips as she looks over. “Yeah, I know that look.”

“Don’t say anything to them though, okay? I mean, that’s Chase’s best friend.” Chris shakes his head, agreeing.

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

Chase gets done his set of autographs for the day, followed by a quick Q&A and thanking the fans for their support. He then heads off through the door into the halls of Hendrick Motorsports, loosening the collar on his shirt.

“You’re like your father in so many ways…” He hears, spinning around surprised by the voice. He hadn’t expected his parents to be there.

“What are you doing here?” He questions his mother as he gives her a hug.

“Can’t I come check on my boy, or are you too much of a superstar now?” He then laughs as he continues walking through the shop to the back door. “So, how are you?”

“I’m doing alright. How are you?”

“I’m good.” He then opens the back door, heading out behind the shop to where he had parked. “How’s Jared?” Chase stops, knowing that was the next spot to visit before heading home. He promised Jared that he’d come and say hi.

“From what I’ve been told by Alan and Greg, he’s going to be fine. They just have him take it easy for now due to how sick he was feeling. I think they even mentioned releasing him on Saturday, but no work this weekend.” Cindy smiles as it was nice to hear that he would be okay.

“Promise me that you’ll be careful? This whole deal has me worried.” Chase stops and turns back to face his mom.

“I’m always careful, mom. You don’t have to worry, okay?” She then lets out a sigh, knowing that was impossible.

“Between this incident and Sarina’s brother – which I still don’t get how you handle that, it’s hard to just let go.” He shook his head, understanding.

“If it makes you feel better, I haven’t let my guard down with regards to Chris. I tolerate enough to keep Sarina happy, but it’s not like I totally trust him nor probably will ever. I know what happened, and can’t say that I’m fully comfortable.” Cindy shakes her head, accepting that. It gave her comfort knowing he had the same worries that she had.

“And what about Sarina?” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing the topic would come up.

“I love her. We’re great together. I can’t see myself with anyone else sometimes. Trusting her – we’re working on building that back up. We’re as honest as we can with each other, and that helps with each passing day.” Cindy could only wonder whether there was complete honesty in reality.

“You need to stop growing up so quickly. But I trust your judgment and as long as you’re careful, I’ll believe you.”

“Always careful. I’ll see you later…” He then gives her another hug, followed by a quick kiss, before heading out to make the short trip to the hospital to check on Jared.

As he drove over, he listened the tunes and found himself thinking everything over. He couldn’t get his worries expressed to Alan or their conversation out of his mind. He couldn’t get the recent events with two poisonings out of the blue and ignore that. Everything felt like it was falling in place for him and Sarina, and truly back to where they wanted to be together, but around them was a like a storm brewing. He just hoped that they could survive this round together.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 72: Friday @ Martinsville

“Ugh, why today?” Sarina lets out as they pull into the parking lot. “Like, seriously?”

“It’s mother nature – she can be a pain in the butt sometimes,” Chase comments as he looks out the windows to see the rain continuing to fall. “Maybe it’ll stop and we’ll get some practice today.”

“Okay, Mr. Optimistic.” They both climb out of the car, beginning to make the walk to the track and into the infield. “Yay to a day of sitting around and doing nothing.”

“What’s got your attitude in a bunch? I mean, it’s just a bit of rain. Tomorrow is supposed to be clear. I’ve never heard you this cranky, Chelsy.”  Sarina then stops right in her tracks, looking over at Chase.

“What did I say about using my real name, Elliott?” He then lets out a sigh as he wraps his an arm around her.

“You told me that I could use it in private, if I wanted to have some fun. Trust me – I won’t tell everybody the truth or anything.  I just figured it’d snap you out of your attitude.” She then rolls her eyes as she continues walking, snagging the umbrella in the process. “Really?”

“I told you what I thought of that, Chase….” He then lets out a sigh as he catches her up to her, standing in front of her.

“Okay, so I was wrong. I’m sorry.  I won’t use it, again. Just promise you’ll lighten up about the weather?” She then looks around, twirling around before placing a smile on her face.

“It’s liquid sunshine and the flowers will grow because of it so who cares I don’t get to practice and know this place in my first trip here, right? Besides, I can go try a hot dog while I wait.” Chase smiled as he reaches over, roughing up her hair as she gives him a smack.

“Ouch! Okay, that’s it!” He then grabs her, picking her up on his shoulder as he tickles her. She then starts giggling, struggling out of her grasp. He finally puts her down, smiling himself more. “That’s better.”

“You know you’re truly one of a kind, right?” He then snatches the umbrella as he skips away from her in the rain – before turning back to face her.

“That’s what they say, and that’s why the girls just love me so much.” She then rolls her eyes as she hurries to catch up with him. They then make their way into the infield, trading a quick kiss before heading their separate ways.

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

Sarina just shook her head and laughed as she looked through her twitter timeline. It was quite the day if you were following Hooters and Chase.

Knowing she had a break between now and the next truck practice, she made her way down through the stalls to where Chase was standing by the GMS guys. She waited till he was done discussing, before catching his attention.

“Ms. Oh I need to learn the track seems to be doing quite well,” he comments with a glance up at the scoreboard. She couldn’t help but smile herself in being third on the chart, while he was eighth.

“Kyle is good for advice, as well as Christopher,” she replies, recalling their discussions before the weekend. While she wasn’t keen on Christopher away from the track right now – virtue of the shop discussion, she had to admit that he was a great teammate with his advice.

“Any driver can take advice, but it takes another to put it into practice. Heck, I’ve been listening to Jimmie and Jeff and I still struggle with this damn place.”  She then gives him a smile as she pats his shoulder.

“You’ll figure it out – you always do.” She then pulls her phone out of her pocket, bringing up the twitter posts she had been just looking at. “I’m surprised you didn’t tell me about your new job for Hooters.”

“Oh dang, I was going to tell you the other night but we got talking about other things. Don’t worry, it’s on a part-time basis so I can focus on racing and spending time with you.” She rolls her eyes, seeing right through the April Fools joke they’d set up.

“Oh really?” She then flips to another tweet. “So that means I can see you wearing this uniform soon?” He glanced away, hiding his own chuckle and wishing that part hadn’t been released partially based on the reaction. “Well?”

“I’ll be sure to show it off as soon as I get my hands on. They haven’t done them up, yet. They just got done taking fittings.” She shakes her head, understanding, though wanting to punch him at the same time for keeping the joke up.

“I can’t wait to see it.” He then wraps an arm around her as he was cracking in giving in on it.

“I’m sure you would. By the way, I’ll have to deliver some chicken wings sometime to you with it. Oh, better yet, you could be my assistant. The girls get to wear the traditional outfit.” She then grins as she locks eyes with him.

“Are you sure you’re okay with everybody seeing that?”  He thinks it over, before pulling her closer to him.

“Who said I was going to let the assistant go out and help me? Maybe I just wanted to see you wearing that for myself.” He then kisses her lips as she smiles in return.

“My name is not Danica Patrick, Mr. Elliott. You know, I actually win races.” Chase wanted to bite his tongue, but he couldn’t help but laugh in response a little.

“That’s mean….good, but mean.” She just shrugs her shoulders in response as she smiles.

“Sorry, but I had to say it. I’ve already had two sponsors approach me solely based on the fact that they’d only sponsor if I’d agree to do an ad dressed rather scandalous. I told Kyle there was no way in hell I was doing that.” He then looks on surprised – partially. He knew of her attitude, but was surprised she’d been that straight with Kyle. “Thankfully, he agreed. The only stipulation is if Samantha is short a model one day and I’m around, she has permission to steal me.”

“There’s certainly some dresses that I know would look very nice on you.” She then gives him a puzzled look. “Although, we could start with some of the other outfits that I’ve heard she has first.”

“Nice run teammate,” they hear as Christopher walks by, giving Sarina a quick pat on the shoulder. “They canceled the rest of the day so I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Sounds good,” she replies, feeling her frustration return from earlier as she wanted some more time on-track before tomorrow. “By the way, you looked good yourself. Hopefully we can pull off a 1-2 finish for the boss.”

“What about me?” Chase glances between the pair as Sarina shrugs her shoulders.

“You could finish third.” Sarina then looks back towards Christopher, noticing his silence towards Chase. “Bye  Christopher.”

“Bye Sarina,” he says before walking away as she looks back to Chase.

“That boy was quieter than normal,” Chase starts as Sarina bites her tongue. She didn’t want to discuss what was said the other night. “What’s up with that?”

“No clue,” she answers, already hating herself for the small lie. She had promised him honesty and here she was just a month later with a lie to his face. How was that fair?

“You answered that a little quickly….” She just shrugs her shoulders, wishing he’d drop the topic.

“Well, that’s what I knew. What else do I say?” Chase wanted to push the issue, seeing the lie there, but bit his tongue. It wasn’t worth it, for now. However, it certainly didn’t sit well with him.

“Fair enough. I got to go – media center for starting second.”

“I’ll wait by your hauler?” he shakes his head accepting, before running off. She then grabs her umbrella, re-opening it as she works her way back through the garage area.

“You promise me that you’re both “totally honest” now, but yet you lie to his face about me,” she hears and glances over her shoulder to see Christopher standing there.

“Can it Christopher,” she tells him response as she walks a little faster, wishing he’d disappear. That only causes him to quicken his step to keep up.

“There’s got to be a reason why you didn’t say anything, though. Are you worried about his reac-”

“Just like I told you before – we love each other and nothing is going to change that.” She then stops and turns to face him. “So can your bullshit and take it elsewhere. Besides, it wasn’t the time or place to discuss something that could get him riled up. That’s something we can discuss after the weekend when we have to divulge through it so I can make sure he doesn’t kick your damn ass. Although, let’s face it, he’s not too nice for that. So let me say something to you – can it or I’ll kick your ass.” He then looks on surprised.

“Ms. Ott, are you threatening me?” She then smiles.

“Mr. Bell, are you annoying me?”

“I told you my reasons. I’m only on your case because I care about you.” She knew that, but it didn’t buy sympathy.

“And I told my reasons for you to can this discussion, totally. So how about you listen if you care so damn much?” She then walks away without another word as he lets out a sigh, heading the other direction.

As she sat by the trailer, phone in hand texting Bethany, she felt herself in a bundle of knots.

It was just a little lie, but yet she felt terrible and wanted to take it back immediately. She also wondered whether or not the future she envisioned would truly happen, or she would be back picking up the pieces – as always. If she couldn’t face Chase on a simple topic like an annoying teammate, how would they handle everything else?