The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 36: “This is classified information”

Monday, February 12, 2018 – Daytona International Speedway

With breakfast done and complete, the dishes were placed in the sink and rinsed off. Chase then came back over to the table, sitting down before her.

“So, this is our one day where we don’t have to do a single thing at all….” He offers and she nods her head, having glanced at the schedule. While yesterday was blank at Daytona, he would be off to Atlanta due to some promoting for the hometown event – something about lucky charms. Then on Wednesday, it was a day full of media, before back to racing action on Thursday.

“Considering how the past two days have gone, I’ll take it,” Sarina comments as there were no doubt that stress had been in the air with Speedweeks action, and the mysterious notes. It was almost unnerving sometimes to think about there not being something in their eyes since Friday.

“But I do have something that we can do, though.” She looks at him intrigued, half-expecting to head to the beach for the day, or over to New Smyna Speedway to watch some late model action. “What about going to Disney World?”

“Seriously?”  He nods his head.

“We both like roller coasters, and there are some pretty neat rides there so why not?” She couldn’t argue with the idea, even if relaxing was more her original plan for the day. But really, any day spent with him was better than nothing, right?

“Why are we still sitting here? Let’s go!”

“Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?” Chase questions once they’re in the park with their passes paid for.

“As much as Space Mountain is cool, you know that I have to go with the mountain,” Sarina answers and Chase nods his head. He should’ve remembered from last year’s trip. “We can do mine and then do yours?”

“Even being at the opposite ends of the park?” Sarina knew it wasn’t the best plan, but they had all day and the idea was to do their favorite rides. So she simply accepted, despite the walking that’d be required.

After taking in them both, they were certainly starting off their day with thrills as the smiles were easily seen from one end of the park to the other.

“What’s next?” Chase questions as it was back to her to decide what they would tackle.

“I challenge you to a shoot-off,” Sarina answers with a determined look in her eyes. He knew that meant Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. “The loser has to give the winner a special treat tonight – no holding back one bit.” He looks back at her with a intrigued glance.

“Are you that determined for me to pleasure you?” She chuckles back in response as they get in line.

“And you better make it worth my while….” Chase then crosses his arms as he thinks it over.

“Who says you’re winning?” She gives him a wink as they inch closer. “I’m serious! Recall, I did beat you the last time…”

“That was beginner’s luck.” He just rolls his eyes back in return.

The shoot-off ended up being closer than either expected, as they were both able to shoot a good number of targets accurately through the whole ride – despite trying to throw each other off at times. Though in the end, Sarina held true to her word as she came out the winner by a couple 100 points.

“You owe me,” she states as they come out of ride. He just wraps his arms around her from behind.

“I have no problem with that because trust me, by the time I’m done, you’re going to be wanting to give me just as much back,” he tells her, kissing her lips as she just smirks back. “Fantasyland or Main Street?”

“Main Street. I worked up quite the appetite kicking your ass.” He then rolls his eyes as they head that way. “Besides, we can go to Pirates of Caribbean afterwards.”

“Aye, the pirate’s life is for me…” She just laughs at the accent as they head off together.

Through the rest of the day, the pair explored the entire park, taking in some of their favorite thrills from one end to the other. Chase made sure to end off their day in style, though, making sure that they had dinner at Cinderella’s Castle.

“A princess like you deserves to be treated as such – especially since you’ll be missing me tomorrow, and we’re busy on Valentine’s Day,” he told her as they entered.

He also made sure to save riding Dumbo the Elephant for last. While it wasn’t the most quickest or intense ride, the sweet serenity of slowly going around in the air underneath the fireworks with his arm wrapped around her meant everything to him.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 – Atlanta Motor Speedway

Kicking off the home track promotional tour, Chase made his way into the media center where an assortment of lucky charms awaited delivery for him. The track had done a promotion for fans to send in something lucky, and needless to say, they had gotten a bunch of stuff.

Glancing over everything, he couldn’t help but smile as there were great, unique items throughout. The next step was doing a Q&A with the media from the stage, followed by one-on-one interviews.

“You have one more to do but we have to wait for your Dad to get here,” Morgan tells him and he nods his head.

“Yeah, he said he’d be here in about 10 minutes or so,” Chase answers, having texted him a couple times.

While waiting, Chase made his way back over to the assortment of items, going through them once again. He then picked up a couple of the envelopes off the floor, flipping through them. He tore open a couple, reading the notes inside to pass the time – admiring some of the notes from the youngest fans. As he reached for the next batch, his hand froze as he recognized the writing on one of the envelopes.

Swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat, he wished that Jordan would’ve been there to take the envelope and open it away from everybody like he had with the previous one. However, that was not an option today. He could easily hand it over to Morgan, but he didn’t want her to be more concerned than already with the warning at the shop. He also knew he could brush it off to later, but curiosity said otherwise.

Running his fingers along the top, he opens the envelope with ease as he glances inside to see the contents. Being a stack of papers, he admitted being caught off-guard as the small card before them fell into his hand first.

“Always know that I have an eye on you, and access to everything,” he reads quietly, sending a shiver down his spine.

Closing his eyes, reminding himself that it was just a mental game and they were just trying to mess with him, he tries to shake off the feeling that had come over him. He then pulls out the stack of papers, reading them over quickly. It didn’t take long to realize what it was, which caused a new worry.

“How would they have access to the NTSB and FBI report?” He questions to himself as he glances through the papers. At first he believed that they were fake documents meant to resemble the originals. But upon reading closer, checking the details and dates, it was clear – it was either a photocopy of the original documents from the plane crash.

Shoving it back in the envelope before anybody could realize the change in his demeanor, he quickly seals it back shut, before sending a text to both Jordan and the investigating officer. With confirmation that they’d take it into evidence and look into the cause, he tried to focus on the rest of the activities for the day.

“Ready for the interview?” Morgan questions and he takes a deep breath, nodding his head. He puts the envelope back in hidden behind the rest before following her to where FOX wanted him to do it.

Following the interview, Bill stood back as Chase went through the final step of the day, giving pacecar rides to a couple individuals around the speedway.

Once that was complete, Chase was free to leave for the day, ready to head to the airport and fly back to Daytona to be with Sarina.

“I couldn’t help but notice that you were a little distracted earlier,” Bill comments as they head out of the track together. “Is something going on?” Chase nods his head as he couldn’t lie to his father, and Bill already knew about part of what was going on anyway.

“Remember what I told you about the notes, and when we were going to fly to Daytona?” Chase reminds him and Bill nervously nods his head. He couldn’t help but feel a tinge of worry in the perfect set-up that was played at the airport that day. “There was another package today mixed in with the Good Luck Charms.” Bill looks over, surprised.

“Like what?” Chase takes a deep breath as he stops, glancing in the box and sorting through the various bears and other notes. He pulls out the envelope, handing it over to his Dad. Bill opens it, jaw dropping immediately as he looks over the contents. “This is classified information. You can only get this information if it is coming from you, a lawyer working for you, or you’re working in the department. Are you sure this is the real deal?”

“I read enough to know it is.” Bill then stops, looking at Chase with every bit of concern.

“You can talk to me….” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances back at his Dad.

“It’s one thing for a person to send me notes to try and mess with my mind. it’s one thing for a person to know what will bug me and set it up so right. But knowing the person has access to the infield at Daytona, as well as these documents – this isn’t just some random deal anymore.” Bill knew from the beginning it wasn’t random.

“I thought we both believed that Allison had a role in this, meaning it wasn’t random. Now, considering that it was her cousin Chris that tampered with the plane, could she be getting access through his lawyer? Did he receive a copy of documents at trial time to look over as part of the evidence?” Chase shrugs his shoulders as he had never wondered and worried about that. Through his fears at that time, he had just let the district attorney’s office handle it, making sure that Chris didn’t have any freedom coming in the future.

“I’ll mention that to the investigating officer to look into. Thank you for the suggestion.” He then takes the envelope back, putting it with everything else as they continue walking. “That actually gives me a bit of comfort as it explains her access to everything. I just wish she’d come out and face me, rather than play hide-and-seek.”

“As much as I don’t want you facing danger or anything like that again, I can see why you would want that, Chase. I understand how this is driving you insane.” Bill knew he wanted to give Chase space as he was grown up now, but this was one of those extreme situations. “Would you feel more comfortable if Mom and I came down to Daytona with you?” Chase knew being an adult, he should be able to handle this alone and deal with every emotion and twist on his mind. however, he couldn’t help but want that extra security feeling.

“If you could please, I’d appreciate it…” Bill simply nods his head accepting, knowing Cindy would have no problem with it.

Sarina sits on the couch nervously as she watches the door open, with Chase entering, followed by his parents. He could instantly sense something was off with her as he walked over, lightly kissing her cheek.

“Why do I have a feeling that I am not going to like what you’re going to say?” He questions, reading her facial expressions immediately.

“Because I fucked up today, like usual,” she answers and he just looks at her confused. “Clearly you haven’t been on twitter at all….” He was now even more confused as he took out his phone, scrolling through some of the messages.

“I’m not seeing anythin-”

“Go to my page and see what I sent out, followed by the responses. And for the record, I’m sorry and I didn’t mean anything by it.” He went to her page, seeing the tweet that she sent out mid-afternoon. It certainly wasn’t something that he would’ve preferred to send out himself, or seen, but it wasn’t the worst thing that could’ve been posted. But clicking the responses, his jaw drops immediately at some of the mentions.

“So because you made a simple joke in regards to the Hooters girls, this is what has transpired today while I was out?” She slowly nods her head as the parents both look on confused.

“What’d she post?” Bill whispers to Cindy as  Cindy had pulled out her phone to look herself.

“Someone asked her about the Hooters girls and how they always hang around Chase,” Cindy whispers back. “She replied that they should focus more on their chicken wings and the kitchen, than him, because there was no way that he was leaving her arms. She then made a crack that her hooters were prettier, anyway.” Bill looks between the pair, shocked and intrigued, as Sarina lets out a sigh.

“Chase, I never meant anything by it,” she starts quietly. “I mean, I was just being a bit of a sarcastic ass-”

“You don’t need to apologize,” he cuts her off as he sits down beside her on the couch. “Have I gotten any messages from Hooters? Nope, but you know they’ve seen it because they replied it – and frankly, they took better to it than everybody else. Have I gotten any messages from Morgan, anybody at HMS, or have you gotten any messages from anybody at KBM? Everybody that’s important is fine with it.” She then lets out a sigh as she taps the tweet to bring up all the replies.

“And what about all this crap? Saying that I should keep my mouth shut? There’s also some that say that I am being a little over possessive, possibly controlling, and you should look into that. Of course, the best is those who say I am only with you for the fame, hence the Late Model ride which got Kyle’s attention. Do I need to go on, Chase?” Chase grabs his phone, instantly shutting off Twitter as he keeps his eyes locked on her.

“Do you see any of those comments bothering me? I know that you’re not that way, and I know what we have. I know that you were just being a little sarcastic – maybe just maybe over the line a tiny bit, but I know you didn’t mean to be harmful with your words. I know who you are. I love you. I want to be with you. I see a future for us. I see a beautiful, charming, stunning, determined, honest, fierce, racecar driver and woman that is my equal and true love. I can give you all the reasons why I love you, not because of what they say.” A small smile forms on her face as she reaches out for his hand.

“I thought you’d be upset…” He shakes his head no.

“Besides, those who know you, know that you didn’t mean anything by it. Those who know and respect you took it the same way that I am. That’s why there hasn’t been any other messages. That’s why I see a ton of fan support mixed in all that garbage. Those who were saying the other things – they’re just jealous of you, for the success you’ve had, and what we have. They’re just haters trying to get you riled up, the same way people say that I only have my ride at Hendrick because of my Dad and that I have no talen-”

“They’re full of shi-”

“Exactly, the same way they are about you. So just ignore it and don’t let it get to you. Stick to your guns, your beliefs, and those who are behind you, and let them hate. Haters are motivators, per your boss right?” She chuckles, remembering those words, as she nods her head.

“Thank you.” She then lets out a sigh. “It just hurt to see everything being said…”

“That’s because your human, and you have feelings, and it’s okay. As long as you realize that those hurtful things aren’t representative of yourself, and do what we’ve said, that’s what matters. It’s also nice that you told me, too.” He leans in and lightly kisses her lips.

“Media day tomorrow should be interesting now, huh?” Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“Let ‘em talk and ask questions. Just be honest and go with it. Everything will be fine…”

He then stands up, walking to the kitchen as he takes his phone out. He goes back into Twitter, finding one of his favourite photos of them together from Disney World.

This would be one of his more standout posts than what he would usually post, but he wasn’t about to let Sarina face the music alone, either.

@chaseelliott: Everybody can say what they want, but I’m standing behind @SarinaOtt18 no matter what. We both love each other equally, and forever, and there’s nothing going to change that. So she’s right @Hooters Girls, she’s the only leading lady in my life right now but I do like your wings.

Closing his phone and shutting off notifications for the night, it was time to focus on having some fun together with his parents.

Advertisements

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 176: “Are you ready for a marathon?”

Tuesday, November 28 – Charlotte Airport

“Are you sure you have everything?” Chase questions as they load the small airplane with the bags. Knowing there was three of them, he just hoped there was enough room for everything.

“It’s all in the bag,” Lindsay states as she hands him her suitcase so he can place where warranted.

“Banquet dress, heels, make-up, change of clothes, dress for Myers Brothe-” Sarina starts to ramble off the list that she had probably repeated 20 times already that morning while packing and organizing.

“Firesuit and helmet?” Chase asks and she lets out a sigh. She had taken care of that already on Monday.

“Loaded in the hauler so I don’t have to worry in going back and forth. Do you have your suits and outfits?” He nods his head, having double checked his bag a couple times over. “Then why are we still standing here?”

“Are you ready for a marathon of a week?” Lindsay just smiles as she gets up in her seat, followed by the pair taking the front seats. “First stop – Dawsonville, Georgia.”

Tuesday, November 28 – Dawsonville, Georgia

After landing at the local airport, the group hopped in the Tahoe and made the short drive to his parent’s house. A glance at the time, and so far they hadn’t fallen off schedule. An hour spent here, back on the plane right after, and they’d make it to Las Vegas in good time.

Knocking on the door, he couldn’t help but smile as he watched the door swing open before him, seeing his parents standing there.

“I was beginning to wonder if you would stop by,” Cindy comments as the group heads inside.

“I can’t break a promise to my Mama,” Chase replies as Sarina just glances at Lindsay, who simply chuckles back in return. “I don’t care what you girls say. You can pick on me all you want. I’ll always be Mama’s little boy.”

“Can you stop getting older then?” He laughs back in response as he gives her a kiss. “I just wanted to be able to wish you happy birthday in person.”

“I know….” Lindsay was caught off-guard in the fact that there was no true gift, simple trade of words in this stop, considering how much it added to the schedule. But, it was nice to see the love being Chase and his mom, too. It reminded her of what she had with her father.

“Now, do you promise to behave once you get to Las Vegas?” He just smirks back in return.

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…” Sarina rambles off, earning a stern glance from Cindy. “I mea-”

“Relax Mama, we’re going to have a ton of fun, but behave as always,” he tells her with a wink towards Sarina, who could only shake her head in return. They walk through the house, reaching the kitchen, and an immediate smile forms on Chase’s face as he sees the cake.

“Now since I won’t see you later…” Cindy starts as she grabs the lighter out of the drawer. “Oh what am I saying? It’s your birthday! You can break the desert rules!” He chuckles as she lights the candle on top of the cake. “Happy Birthday to you…”

“Happy Birthday to you,” Lindsay, Sarina and Bill all join in as Chase smiles at the group.

Following the singing, he pauses to make a wish, before blowing out the candle on top of the cake.

“What’d you wish for?” Lindsay wonders as he glances over.

“If I tell you, it won’t come true,” he answers with a smile. He then dips his finger in the icing, leaving a trace as he runs his finger across the top.

“Chase!” Cindy lets out as he licks the icing off of his finger.

“That is so good….” He then pulls the candle out, wiping the icing off of it and eating that, too. “I’ve always loved your cakes, and they just seem to get better with time.”

“Is that German Chocolate?” Lindsay wonders and Cindy nods her head. “Oh man…”

“Just purely amazing, right?” Chase questions and Lindsay agrees.

“Well, you kids can take the cake with you – as long as you let your Dad cut a piece to eat later,” Cindy tells them as Chase couldn’t help but smile. He knew it’d make a good snack later midway through the day. “And Chase, you can’t just lick all of the icing off yourself and leave the girls the rest.”

“That is so tempting…”

Tuesday, November 28 – Las Vegas, Nevada

After landing in Las Vegas, the group followed Chase through the first step of the day – quick stop at the stage to give a quick run trough. Once that was settled, they met up with Morgan, set for the details of the day.

“Morgan, this is Sarina’s cousin Lindsay – who I asked for the ticket for,” Chase introduces Lindsay to his PR rep. “Lindsay, this Morgan. You can blame her for my chaotic schedule.” Lindsay chuckles as Morgan just rolls her eyes.

“The request was not a problem at all,” Morgan states as she shakes Lindsay’s hand. “And I could proudly add more responsibilities for you next year if you don’t think it’s enough, Chase.” Chase glances at her, surprised, shaking his head immediately. “Please tell me you brought every outfit and everything you need.”

“Double and triple checked while packing.” She nods her, accepting.

“Alright. Ready to head to the fan square for the autograph session?” He accepts.

“You go on and tackle that, while us girls explore Las Vegas a little,” Sarina offers, catching Chase by surprise. “Then once you’re done, we can show you the hot spots and have some birthday fun.”

“I even got a couple spots that I can show her to see if they’d work out later,” Lindsay adds, as Sarina keeps her eyes locked on Chase’s. She knew Lindsay’s plan was already out of the window, but didn’t mind the extra suggestion to help cover for what was going on.

“I’ll call when I am on my way back, okay?” He asks and she nods her head, accepting, giving him a quick kiss. “Love you…” He then heads off with Morgan as Sarina immediately turns to Lindsay.

“So where do you want to head firs-” Lindsay starts.

“Caesar’s Palace,” Sarina cuts her off as they head out of the Wynn hotel. “I couldn’t tell Chase, but he’s getting a surprise birthday party courtesy of some close friends. Ryan put the plan in motion, but I need to go over there to help make sure things are in order.”

“So Chase has no idea what is going on?” Sarina shakes her head no as they climb in the cab, instructing the driver where to go. “How do you plan to get him over there?”

“That’s not my problem. Ricky is taking care of that.” Sarina just hoped that Ricky didn’t resort to revealing the surprise in the process. “Ryan and I have been going back and forth for a couple weeks now. It’s absolutely killed me to not just blurt it out and tell Chase.”

“So you don’t keep secrets at all?” Sarina lets out a sigh as she glances out the window.

“The last time I kept a secret from him, it almost cost me everything.” She thinks it over, taking a deep breath. She hadn’t talked to anybody about this except for Chase and Marcus. It was different telling a family member, though. “When I first recognized Chris in the photo of they wanted for attempting to kill us, I didn’t say anything. That went on for months. He found out who it was virtue of the investigation, and literally flipped on me. He yelled at me, threw me out, told me he never wanted to see me ever again.” Lindsay looks over, surprised, as she never would’ve expected that with how close the pair appeared.

“So how’d you make up?” Sarina smiles, remembering the countless messages back and forth before she went out to see him at his parents.

“He slowly began to understand why I did it – out of fear, out of my own panic, so many dumb reasons now that I think back. He also understood that it was hard for me trust, too. He slowly began to open the door with a few messages back in return to mine reaching out for him. Then one of his crew members tipped me off that he was looking to forgive and move forward, wanting to see me, missing me – just because he cared so much about him. I surprised him one night at his parents, and we were able to talk things out. Since then, we have promised to always keep an open book policy and not ever do that, again.” Lindsay nods her head, accepting. That was why Chase was so afraid of Sarina’s reaction when he reunited them together, because it was probably one of the first secrets that he had kept himself.

“Well from what I’ve seen in just five days, you both deserve each other a ton. Everything you fought through was certainly worth it for someone like him.” Sarina smiles as she looks back over at Lindsay.

“I don’t take a single day for granted, and for everything that he has done for me, I want to make sure that I blow him out of the water with both his birthday present and anniversary gift.” Lindsay could understand the reasoning behind that, now full of intrigue.

“Can you tell me what it is?” Sarina laughs, shaking her head no.

The girls reach Caesar’s Palace, paying and thanking the driver for the ride, before heading inside. They immediately make their way through the front foray, following the directions that Ryan had texted to her about getting to where they were set for the party.

Sarina enters the room, instantly smiling as she sees the array of decorations and the way the room was laid out. She knew it was perfect as Ryan spun around, raising a pair of bottles in the air.

“Ready for a night to remember?” He questions, though immediately freezes as his eyes catch those of Sarina’s friend. He had heard about Chase’s successful reuniting of cousins together as he sets the bottles down on the bar, making his way over. “You must be Lindsay…”

“How do you know my name?” Lindsay asks, a little concerned as Ryan smiles.

“Chase may have told me about his family reunion plan, and let me know on Friday how successful the first step was. He mentioned your name, and so I put two and two together.” He holds his hand out, smile not fading from his face.  “Ryan Blaney.” Lindsay simply shakes his hand in response.

“Nice to meet you.” He then turns back around, heading over to the bar, as he sits up on the counter.

“So I think I have the perfect 22nd birthday party planned here. What do you say, Sarina?” Sarina nods her head, accepting, as she walks around the room. “I just need to blow a couple more balloons, set a couple more things, and we’ll be ready to roll tonight.”

“It’s beyond perfect, Ryan.” Ryan could only smile as he relaxed back on the counter.

“I know my best friend well….” Sarina knew that as she placed a box behind the counter with the other presents that were hidden there. “Do I get a clue as to what you got him for his birthday?” Sarina shakes her head no as she walks away.

“I didn’t get anyth-” Lindsay starts as she catches Sarina’s glance.

“Don’t even worry about it,” Sarina cuts her off. “Now, let’s get this all set to go…”

“I promised her I’d call…” Chase comments as they reach Caesar’s Palace.

“Relax, she’s probably lost in the glitz and glam that is Sin City,” Ricky offers as he gives Chase a pat on the shoulder. “We’ll share a drink with Kyle, and then I will let you go see your lady.” Chase rolls his eyes, reluctantly agreeing. He just hoped he didn’t regret this later.

He follows Ricky through the door, glancing around as they head inside as he had never made his way to Caesar’s Palace, despite spending a good bit of time in Las Vegas a couple times. Not sure where they were going, he continues to reluctantly follow his friend as they reach a pair of double black doors.

“In there?” He questions and Ricky nods his head as he glances back.

“The best drinks in Las Vegas are kept in the most secret locations man,” Ricky answers, so far giving himself tons of brownie points. It hadn’t been easy, but he was succeeding in keeping it a surprise while perfectly leading Chase to the spot. He pulls on the door, holding it wide open. “After you….”

“It’s like pitch black in there, and I’ve never been here. Are you sure I should go in first?” Ricky knew this was getting far-fetched, but he had to get him in there one way or another.

“Trust me. Have I ever let you down before?” Chase shakes his head no as he enters the room.

In an instant as soon as he entered through the doors, the lights immediately flicked on and a smile filled his face as he recognized many of those before him immediately.

“Surprise!” The entire group  – consisting of crew members, fellow drivers, and of course Sarina and Lindsay, screamed back in return.

Chase glances around the room, filled with surprise, as he was in absolutely amazement. A normally sophisticated room for fancy dinners had been changed to your perfect country bar, filled with a dance floor, tables, and a bar for everyone to enjoy. His eyes glanced through the crowd, noticing the outfits to fit the theme to a perfect tee.

“Happy Birthday!” A voice catches his attention, followed by the clicking of a pair of boots directly towards him. “I love you.” A kiss brushes across his lips as a series of cheers escape from the variety of people in the room. That was all in the background for him, as he couldn’t take his eyes off of the lady before him right now. From the white tank top, to the nice loose fitting brown jacket, matched perfectly with a pair of boots that showed off the tone of her legs. His eyes even found their way to her pair of white daisy duke shorts, which enhanced the curves that he loved.

“I love you, too,” he replies, wrapping his arms around her, not caring that the room was filled with others. “Was this your doing?” She shakes her head no as she glances towards the crowd of people. Emerging from the dress, adorning a pair of blue jeans and cowboy boots of his own, Ryan stands before everybody, taking the cowboy hat and smiling. “Holy crap, you’re wearing cowboy boots….”

“Just for you brother,” Ryan replies as he makes his way over, giving Chase a hug. “Happy Birthday, bud. You deserve a night of fun in Las Vegas!” He then makes his way back across the room, releasing a cannon that shoots confetti all over. “Now, don’t we have a birthday to celebrate?”

From there on, the drinks began to flow along the tunes pumping throughout the room. Everybody began dancing together, enjoying each other’s company, and wishing Chase a happy birthday as they made their way around the room.

The only time the dancing and drinks stopped was midway through the night, as to sing happy birthday to Chase and allow him to cut the cowboy hat shaped cake – with Ryan flicking a bit of icing at his face in the process. Chase could only laugh in response.

They then sat around the bar, with Chase sitting up on the counter, opening the variety of gifts that were left behind the bar. From gift cards to some Georgia Bulldog collectables, to even a couple books on conspiracy theories, it seemed there was a bit of everything from everybody.

“I purposely left this gift to last,” Ryan announces as he reaches and picks up the rather large size boxed, placing it on the bar.

“We figure you could open Sarina’s gift last,” Kyle adds as Chase simply smiles back in return. He carefully tears through the wrapping paper, continually asking himself what it could be, as he reaches a black guitar case. He wasn’t one to play music of his own, so it caught him off-guard that she got him a guitar.

“We know you can sing, but play?” Chase shoots Ryan a look and Ryan could only smirk in return. “You’re going to be singing by the time I pour your last drink, boy. I got lots of Jack around here.”

“Doesn’t he have to do 22 shots for his birthday at one point?” Austin Dillon questions and Ryan smiles, holding up a series of glasses. Chase could only let out a sigh, knowing that tomorrow was going to be rough.

Though right now, he was focused on the gift that was sitting before him. He unlocks the case, opening it carefully to not knock it off, smiling immediately as he recognizes the guitar.

“Oh man….” Ryan states, recognizing it as well as Chase carefully picks it up, taking a closer glance at it.

His eyes catch Sarina’s immediately as he motions for her to come up closer, before looking back at the guitar, seeing the signature and note inscribed on it.

“Our first ever concert together was Eric Church,” Sarina starts. “I also know how much you adore his music. After a couple strings pulled, I managed to get a hold of him and asked if he’d be willing to part with one of his guitars for a very special fan. When I mentioned your name and the story behind it, he didn’t hesitate.

“It’s absolutely perfect!” He lets out, leaning down from his spot atop the bar to kiss her lips. “I love you so much. This is just…amazing. I don’t even have words.” She could only smile back in response, glad that her planning had paid off.

“I have another gift for you later – just between us.” He then raises his eyes brows intrigued as she smiles.

“Now, how about those shots?” Ryan asks as he begins to line up the glasses across the bar. Sarina just smiles back in response, giving him a wink as she backs away.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 89: The Monster Mile

The following week went smoother than all expected, which was surprising given the past couple of weeks.

Despite his own apprehensions and anxiety fighting him at times, Chase followed through in taking the medicine for the ulcers and anxiety as requested, and it had begun working. The pain in his stomach began ease much more with each passing day, and there weren’t any panic episodes.

He also kept taking the steps that he was supposed to be in figuring out a solution to the overall problem, having another couple sessions with Eric. Those paid off as he was able to get some of the emotions he was burying away out, which helped in finding the calmness.

His mind was also able to find ease in what happened earlier in the week, with the panic, seeing why it happened, speaking of the emotions connected, and strategies to avoid the fear and feelings creating another situation.

Although her thoughts shifted to the forthcoming surgery at times, Alyssa had gone about making the phone calls necessary to look at her options, stressing that she just had this week and next to do so. So far, not much had changed and everything was still set to take place after Charlotte as scheduled.

She didn’t leave her much time to think or worry, though, as her focus was on that weekend. With the blowing the engine at Kentucky, it was do or be done in the next two weeks. So over the past week, she spent every given chance looking back over video of previous races at Dover, seeing what she could correct in mistakes the last time there, and any ways to improve. She also spent time talking with Kevin Meendering each day, wanting to making sure every base was covered.

As she walked into the garage area on Friday and took a deep breath, it was time to get down and focus.

“I’m sorry I’ve been a little distant this week,” she comments as her and Chase walk together. “I’m just so focused on this weekend. I know I got to make it happen, and I just want to win so badly.” He wraps an arm around her, pulling her close.

“It’s okay – I understand,” he replies, having repeated her same actions earlier in his own career. “Listen, just take a deep breath and relax. If it’s meant to be, everything will come together either this weekend or next. Just control what you can control. Do the best that you can – and it’ll fall into place if it’s meant to be. You can’t let yourself get caught up in the little details. It’ll drive you crazy – trust me.” She smiles, nodding her head accepting. She had heard about those times in the early stages of his Cup career, and remembered a couple trips over to the house to see him where he was frustrated beyond anything.

“I’m trying. I just….We came into these playoffs with so much momentum, all the wins and success. It’s been a dream season. I don’t want to throw it away in the span of three weeks. These guys deserve so much more with what they’ve had to endure.” Chase understood, as while the events were traumatic and drove them both insane, the team didn’t have it easy either. They had to deal with relief drivers, and everybody having their eyes on them wondering if Alyssa could actually get the job done.

“Just remember what I said. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen…” They then reach the garage, and he gives her a quick kiss before watching as she goes over to Kevin for a final briefing before the practice session.

He lets out a sigh as he leans back against the wall, watching the fury of activity in the garage stall, though finds his eyes wandering to where the Cup cars were parked. He knew he wasn’t ready for that yet, and time needed to be spent focused on himself. But, he also couldn’t lie that he longed to be part of that garage area.

“Soon…” He tells himself, as he glances back into the stall, smiling as Alyssa blows him a quick kiss before climbing in for the first practice.

He then makes his way across the garage with the team, climbing the steps to the top of the hauler, taking his usual position. Continued glances over at the scoring monitor, eyes focused on the track, he watched as she rode the concrete oval with ease. He couldn’t help but smile at some of the lap times during the session, and it seemed that the car was smooth as ever.

Though as they got into the second half, he watched her slip down the scoring pylon and just shook his head. This wasn’t what they needed right now in finishing off the session sitting 23rd on the board. He hadn’t paid attention to Kevin’s plans for the session, but he could only hope that they were as low as they were due to not making a qualifying run.

He makes his way towards the steps to climb down, hearing his phone ring. He pulls it out of his pocket, rolling his eyes as he answered the call.

“Hello?” He says as he stops by the railing.

“Hey Chase,” Cindy replies on the other end. “How are you?” He could only roll his eyes, again.

“I’m fine, Mom. I told you that you didn’t need to call and check on me…” He also knew that request, as always, fell on deaf ears. No matter what he did, he would always be her baby.

“I care about you, and I was worried. You have to get that after what happened, right? Can’t I give you a call and check on you once in awhile?” He didn’t mind talking to her. It was just her timing could use some improvement right now.

“Of course, mom. But, can we talk later, please? I was just headed to the garage area.” He wanted to go see Alyssa, make sure that she was still feeling pretty good about things despite the slip-up on the chart.

“Fine, I was just worried. Will you call later?” He felt like rolling his eyes, but knew he couldn’t deny her.

“I promise. Talk to you later, and I love you. Bye Mama.”

“Love you, too, always. Bye Chase.” He hangs up, continuing his way down the stairs.

He makes his way back to the garage area, instantly surprised as he sees Alyssa standing in the stall joking with Kevin, laughter purely filling her face with ease. Crossing his arms, he couldn’t help but smile himself, glad that there was nothing to be concerned about.

He could only hope that Saturday went smoothly and as planned.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 174: Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 23 – Dawsonville, Georgia

“Are you ready?” Chase questions with a glance over at Sarina.

“As long as your sister keeps her claws out of me,” Sarina answers and Chase laughs.

“Oh come on, she’s not that bad.” Chase wraps an arm around her. “It’s just because she cares about me.”

“Threatening me with a whole army of men is a little overboard….” Chase lets out a sigh as they reach the front door.

“The more she sees us together, the more she begins to understand how much you care about me and I care about you, she’ll lay off. She’s just being like this because Starr was like that to her about Robert – and that was more so because Starr didn’t have, well, the best of luck.” Sarina nods her head, understanding. She understood where Chase was coming from with that point, and could sympathize with everybody. But, a little bit of wiggle room would be nice.

“Her daughter Kennedy is amazing, though.” Chase couldn’t help but smile in response, as both his niece and nephew were adorable. He opens the door, leading Sarina inside who just glances back a little confused, and he gives her a quick wink. He then closes the door behind him. “Mama, I’m home!”

“And they told me that I’d never hear that again once my baby got a girlfriend – unless he was broken hearted…” Cindy comments with a glance from the kitchen. “I hope that’s not the cas-”

“We’re still happy as ever,” Chase adds as he makes his way to the kitchen, giving her a hug and kiss. “You know I’ll always come to see you, no matter what.”

“Of course, cause you’re baby.” Sarina stands back with a smile on her face, watching them together.

“You didn’t go home for Thanksgiving?” She hears, catching her off-guard as Brittney walks over. She could only roll her eyes in response as Chase glances over.

“Brittney….” He says with a stern tone. He knew she would say something, but didn’t think it’d happen within minutes of entering.

“It’s okay Chase,” Sarina says as she turns to face Brittney. She might as well face the music if she was ever going to quiet down his security guard. “I don’t really have any family, to be honest, that I know – except my brother and cousin, and we’ve talked about that already. Chase invited me to join you guys.”

“She’s one of the family, Brittney.” Brittney glanced between the pair, letting out a sigh. She still wasn’t quite convinced yet.

“We’ll see how that goes,” Brittney comments as Sarina tries to keep a stern face and not it eat at her. Why did it take so much to get Brittney’s approval? “By the way, Chase, I told you that I could take care of that other problem for you.”

“They’re all locked in jail cells and can’t hurt us so I’d rather just move on and forget,” Chase tells her as she rolls her eyes. “Seriously?”

“Guys….” Cindy warns, seeing the glance between siblings.

“Move on and forget doesn’t happen when it’s her brother,” Brittney says as Chase crosses his arms. She did have a point, as his eyes caught Sarina’s.

“You’re right about that,” Chase concedes. “But, I’d prefer to not have it thrown in my face by everybody – especially those who care about me and understand. Besides, it’s clear that we all realize the problems that Christopher and Bethany both brought and where they belong. Is there feelings remaining? Of course, but that’s something for Sarina and I to handle. So if you could please just let it go, that’d be nice.” Brittney glances between the pair, finally letting out a sigh.

“Alright, fine. But don’t think that I’m fully set on you two ye-”

“What is it going to take to convince you?” Brittney shrugs her shoulders as she looks over at Sarina.

“Time to see trust, growth, and everything that is required. I don’t know how long exactly.” Chase nodded his head, accepting.

“I respect that,” Sarina spoke up. “And I totally understand why for the mistakes that I made. I’m fine with us working towards a mutual feeling over time. Just please, give me a small benefit of the doubt and don’t toss it in my face.” Brittney shed a small smile in response.

“Deal,” she replies. “I’m going to go make sure Dad isn’t getting little man into trouble.” She then walks out of the kitchen as Chase walks over to Sarina, wrapping both arms around her.

“Are you okay?” He asks and she nods her head.

“I’m sorry that she has to be a bit of a pain – heck, I feel bad for when I chewed your head off,” Cindy comments and Sarina could only chuckle now. It was amazing to see how far they had come since July.

“I deserved that so I would buy a clue,” Sarina replies as she leans back in Chase’s arms. “You’re his mother. You care about him. I probably would’ve done the same if it was roles reversed. As far as Brittney, it’s one of the things about siblings – and I actually admire how much she cares about you.” Chase glances into the living room, watching Brittney and Bill play with Brittney’s son.

“She’s pretty amazing,” Chase agrees as he focuses back to Sarina. “If she gets to me too much, just tell me.” Sarina rolls her eyes, knowing that it’d probably never come to that. if she was going to get through Brittney’s supposed time test, she was going to do it on her own.

“Food is all on and cooking so we should be eating on time as always,” Cindy interrupts as she wipes her hands off. “Time for some family games!” Cindy heads into the living room as Sarina glances at Chase.

“Games?” She questions and Chase nods his head.

“Pictionary, among others,” he answers as Sarina just shakes her head. “It’ll be fun and entertaining. Come on…” He leads her into the living room as they all sit around, set for one of Cindy’s many plans for the day.

After a couple hours of playing, Chase feels his phone go off. He reads the text message, smiling, responding back in return as he stands up.

“Where are you going?” Sarina questions as Chase smiles. He couldn’t wait for this to fall in place.

“I have to go pick up someone from the airport,” he answers, causing a glance back of confusion. Though Sarina immediately shrugged it off, probably being a cousin or uncle.

“Be careful,” Cindy says as Chase heads for the doorway. A glance amongst the Elliotts, they all knew the plan already. Chase had previously texted his dad about Lindsay, which he passed along to everybody before they showed up.

It was a short drive to the airport, and thankfully, it was easy to find a spot to park. He then heads inside, remembering where he had told her directions to where they’d meet by a small gift shop. He smiles as he makes his way to the spot, seeing her already there with a bag.

“Easy to find?” He asks and she nods her head, following him through the airport.

“You’re good with directions,” she answers as he just shoots her back a smile in return. “I brought enough for a week. I can stay until the Monday after the Snowball Derby. Despite my own skeptical thoughts, I’m going to take in the event.” Chase smiles as he was glad that he would accomplish two goals with one stone.

“You’ll get to see your girl because she’s racing a Late Model for Kyle Busch, against him and 50 of the best drivers in the province.” He puts her bag in the back of the Tahoe, before they both climb in.

“Are you running it?” He shakes his head no as they head out of the parking lot. “How can you brag about an event, saying it’s the biggest event ever with 50 of the best drivers, if you’re not included?”

“I only run an event of that magnitude if I can do it with a certain group of people, namely Ricky Turner. I also refuse to make a one-off Late Model start because you need to have some experience before you head into that deal. Needless to say, my schedule didn’t allow for either this year. It sucks because it’s the 50th. Look at it this way – you’ll have a wealth of knowledge to sit with you and teach.” She just rolls her eyes as he lets out a chuckle. “So we’re headed to my parent’s house. I’m going to take you around the back using the side door while texting my dad. He’s going to ask Sarina to go out and grab something and boom, there you go.”

“That seems simple enough…” He nodded his head in agreement as they turned down another road.

“Are you nervous?” Lindsay glances over, surprised by the question.

“How could you tell?” He chuckles as he stays focused on the road.

“I couldn’t tell. It was just a question of curiosity.” She then lets out a sigh as she looks out the window. The nice country scenery was calming.

“I haven’t seen her in six years, Chase. How would you feel surprising someone that you haven’t seen or talked to for that long?” He nodded his head, accepting. “At the same time, I’m beyond excited. It’ll be nice to have someone that I can share anything with, hang with, talk to, and everything we used to do together again. There was nothing like those times together.”

“How long have you known each other?” Lindsay smiles as she thinks back to some of her earliest memories.

“Since birth. My dad and her momma were close. So as soon as I was born, we were playing together. She was supposed to be the two-year-old teaching me all the crazy ways.” Chase chuckles in response. “Oh, did you get the package?”

“It arrived today – which is perfect since we’re not home. I left my house key with a friend of mine, Dale, and he stopped by and put it inside with the help of some family. I just told him to put in the living room for now.” Lindsay smiles as she was glad that things had gone accordingly. She also had to shake her head at how casually the name rolled off his tongue.

“That’s something that I’m going to need to adjust to – being around NASCAR royalty without going a little nuts.” He chuckles as they pull up to the house.

“Hey, it’s easy to do. We’re just like everybody else – except we happen to go around in circles for a living which makes people love us. Just promise me you won’t freak on my dad.” She laughs back in response, nodding her head, as he shuts the key off. “Are you ready?”

“I guess it’s now or never…” She climbs out of the Tahoe, following him down the side of the house, through the gate, and sits down in one of the patio chairs. He sends a quick text message to his dad with a smile.

“I’m going to go hide…” She then looks on shocked as she thought he’d actually stay to help them along, but couldn’t manage to say something as he darted back to the side of the house.

Sarina makes her way outside, glancing left and right. She couldn’t believe that she was in the backyard, looking for a board game that supposedly got left out there. Why was she elected to go find it? As she looks over to the right, her eyes catch a gaze back in return.

“I recognize you….” She lets out quietly, almost set to hit a panic button as she could only think about this person sneaking onto the property and being a burglar or worse. However, she found herself instead frozen, eyes locked on those before her.

“You haven’t changed much,” was all Lindsay could only manage in return as a flood of memories soared through Sarina. Sarina recognized the voice – but there was no way this could be happening.

“Lindsay?” Lindsay nods her head in response as Sarina’s jaw drops in total shock. “But? How? When? Honestly? Really? Lindsay Dryer, right?” Lindsay chuckles back as she reaches for her pocket.

“I can show you identification if that’s necessary.” Sarina just continues to shake her head.

“I don’t get it. How are you here in Georgia? Why are you here?” Lindsay wanted to reach around the corner and grab Chase as she wasn’t sure she could find the words for the answers.

“Your lovely boyfrie-”

“He picked you up from the airport?” Lindsay nodded her head, once again looking back to where he had gone to hide. “But why? How?”

“Chase, can you come out please?” Chase then slowly emerges from where he was, causing Sarina to glance between the pair shocked more than ever. If the next words spoken that they were old friends, she could’ve smacked Chase for not saying anything in the span of two years. If she was a one night stand and that’s how identity was found, she may just smack them both.

“Remember when you mentioned to me that you were missed family, and wished you could see them sometimes?” Chase questions and Sarina nods her heads. It was one of her lowest day in the midst of Chris’ trial. “I immediately wanted to do something to make you feel better, so I started looking into your family history. Through some help, I was able to put together your six uncles and aunt. It was about deciding who to go see first. Between the story of how Lindsay got you interested in racing and Uncle Mike’s toy box, I went that way first. I went to Lindsay’s house on Tue-”

“You told me you were just going to hang out with the boys…” Sarina remembers and Chase nods his head.

“Technically, I hung out with Alan and Josh as they came for back-up. Anyways, I explained everything about how you changed your name and who you are now. She had some time off from a hectic dance schedule so she decided to come join us for the next 10 days.” Sarina looks over at Lindsay with a bit of shock, and Lindsay nods her head accepting.

“I wanted to see you again,” Lindsay tells her. “I wanted to reconnect. Damn girl, I’ve missed you since the moment you skipped town without a damn trace. I tried looking for you for awhile myself, but I gave up when nothing came up. When Chase gave me that opportunity, I couldn’t pass it up. I don’t have much family left, either.” Lindsay’s eyes tear up immediately as Chase knew the next piece of news wouldn’t be easy on either of them.

“Uncle Mike passed away a year ago from cancer and your aunt died in a car crash just months earlier,” Chase reveals, causing Sarina’s jaw to drop immediately. “This reunion couldn’t have come at a better time because frankly, Thanksgiving is all about two things – being thankful, and being with family. You both need each other.”   Chase then looks over at Sarina, seeing complete silence, almost frozen state. “Say something, please…..”

“I don’t know what to say…” Sarina comments as she looks back over at him. He could feel his stomach drop immediately.

“Say something, anything. I don’t care if you’re upset, happy, surprised, sad, or angr-”

“I could never be angry at someone who totally just went out of his way to find my best friend in the whole wide world, who could use a full hand of comforting after everything she’s been through.” Lindsay smiles a little as the girls look straight at each other. “Chase, you always tell me how much you care for me and how you’d do anything for me. This is beyond anything I could imagine. I don’t even know how I could ever thank you enough, or repay you.”

“You don’t ever need to – you deserve this for everything you’ve been through.” He then gives her a quick kiss on the cheek. “You girls catch up on the past six years. Dinner will be ready in an hour so take the time that you need, and then Lindsay, I can introduce you to the rest of my family.”

“Thank you, Chase,” Lindsay could only imagine to say as he headed inside the back door. “Chels…shit, sorry. I need to get used to this, but Sarina…”

“I can’t believe this,” Sarina comments in response, as she walks over, immediately hugging Lindsay.

Chase smiles from inside, watching them together, as he feels his parents walk over on either side of him.

“You did something really amazing here,” Bill comments as the girls sit down and begin trading stories. “I mean, you can see the bond between them immediately.”

“She deserves it, and more,” Chase says. “I don’t know what I’d do without you guys, Brittney, Starr, or any of my family for that matter.”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 169: “Did you hear your man is taking care of his lady?”

Saturday, November 11 – Phoenix Raceway

“You seem like you’re in a happy mood….” Josh comments as he makes his way over to Chase in the garage stall. Chase simply glances over at the car chief with a smile.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Chase questions. “Second quickest, happy with how the car feels, ready to perfect it the next session. I have nothing to complain about.”

“That’s probably more than you could say about last night…” Chase looks on intrigued, but immediately caught the reference. He figured that the guys would bring up what happened with Christopher and Sarina eventually.

“I heard you were playing referee,” Jordan adds as he glances over at the group assembling.

“I don’t see Sarina anywhere either,” Jared Seate continues the comments as Chase could only roll his eyes. “Time out?”

“No, she was feeling a little sore this morning so I told her to relax today,” Chase comments. “And sure, I may have played referee…”

“Did you hear your man is taking care of his lady?” Jared questions and Jordan nods his head.

“Are you honestly surprised?” Jordan asks back in response and Jared shakes his head no. Chase could only imagine the teasing if they knew the plan for later. “But I really want to know what happened when she and Christopher meant face-to-face.”

“He apologized right away,” Chase tells them. “No questions asked, simply said sorry. She accepted the thought, but admitted she wouldn’t feel perfectly right about what happened for awhile.”

“Can’t blame her,” Josh comments as Jordan still had his arms crossed. There had to be more to the story.

“No punches or shoving?” Jordan questions and Chase shakes his head no. “Man, you got to be lying. I mean, you’re covering for Kyle or something. You can’t tell me that nothing happe-”

“Go ask Christopher or Sarina yourself,” Chase cuts him off. “Look, they’re friends and even in anger, she knew that he didn’t mean it 100%. It’s hard racing, and sometimes contact happens.”

“So you’d be cool if same thing happened with, say Jimmie?” Josh questions and Chase rolls his eyes. Why were they still discussing this?

“No, I’d be mad as she was initially. However, I’d come to understand that it was hard racing.” Josh nods his head, accepting. “Alright, we got another practice to focus on….”

“Should we wonder if he has a treat to take care of the lady later?” Jared asks Josh as Chase walks away. Josh just gives him a quick glance.

“Did you not learn earlier this year to keep outta the man’s business?” Josh wonders and Jared simply shrugs his shoulders.

“They weren’t talking at one point. Who made the girl surprise him at home and get them back on the same page?” Josh rolls his eyes immediately.

“Are you going to hold that over his head forever?” Jared simply smiles in return as he goes to do his job. “You son of a bitch….”

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

With practice in the books, Chase made his way back to the motorcoach to see Sarina. Certainly, the second session did not go as well as the first as he was 17th on the charts – which meant that those experiments by Alan were a failure. Hopefully when they started the race on Sunday, the set-up was something they used in the first session.

He makes his way into the bedsroom as he slips off his firesuit, instantly smiling as he spots her immediately curled up in the blankets.

“Feeling any better?” He questions as he hangs the suit up in the closet.

“With this type of view, how can a girl think about any pain that she’s in?” She asks in response as he simply looks back with a grin. “I mean, the next best thing would maybe be a Magic Mike dance, or strip show…”

“That’s totally not happening.” She then pouts as he could only giggle back in response. “I’m serious….”

“I guess I’ll take what I can get…” Besides, how was a lady supposed to complain in seeing her man stripped down to boxers and an undershirt? The next best thing would only be to take that off, too. “And, actually, your relaxation idea worked perfectly. Muscles are feeling a little better and not as sore. Maybe once and awhile it wouldn’t hurt to take a step back.”

“So aren’t you glad that you listened?” She smiles as she grabs her hand, pulling her close to the bed.

“You did say, though, that you’d make it worth my while. Can I cash in my payment?” He then laughs as he flops back on the bed.

“I don’t know. Have you been a good little girl?” She then rolls her eyes.

“When am I not a good little girl? I mean, I did listen to you last night and didn’t kick Christopher’s ass. I mean, I could’ve snuck out today and kicked it while you were busy.” He then glances back at her surprised. Did he really just hear that?

“Please tell me that you’re not mad at him still…” She lets out a sigh. She wanted to be mad as she hated to lose as much as anybody – if not more, and hated how tore up the truck was. But, his apology was worthy.

“Why do some people make it so hard to stay mad at them?” Chase smiles, knowing what she meant immediately.

“See, you’re a good little girl. You’re beginning to see things…” She then moves a little further down to the bed to be closer to him at the bottom.

“So, what’s my payment cutie?” He looks over, his smile matching hers immediately.

“I was thinking I give you a nice massage while we watch the XFINITY race, and then I take you out for a nice dinner.” She smiles in response, certainly approving the suggestion.

“I say after dinner, we come back and cuddle up with a movie.” He nods his head in agreement.

Sunday, November 12 – Phoenix Raceway

After Chase had made his way to driver introductions, Sarina headed out to pit road, giving Samantha and Brexton a quick hello, before making her way to where the No. 24 Chevrolet sat.

It didn’t surprise her to see Hootie sitting up on the roof, perfectly placed after some of the pre-race Hooters photos; she even caught the sponsor representative taking a quick photo. She smiles as she reached into her pocket, placing a green beanie baby beside him.

“Did that just out of your pocket?” She hears and glances back, seeing Cindy standing there. She nods her head, feeling a tinge of nerves in wondering how Mommy would accept it. “He’s cute….”

“That’s my lucky buddy Shamrock,” Sarina reveals. “Let’s just say that he came from a friend one night, and gave me some extra luck that gave me a special victory. I figured someone could use him today.” Cindy could only glance back with a smile, as she snapped a quick photo on her phone.

“Hootie and Shamrock look great together. Hopefully your plan pays off…” Sarina holds up a pair of crossed fingers.

“You were ready to kill Hootie at one point,” she then hears as she takes her own photo of the pair, recognizing the voice immediately. She then feels a pair of arms wrap around her, and she instantly leans back in them. “And now I hear you given him a friend. Do I get an explanation?”

“When Hootie and I met at Talladega, you’re right – I was ready to murder him,” she tells him. “However, I took your advice and gave him a bath and tried to be nice to the little guy. Besides, he is kind of cute. Then last week at Texas, he redeemed himself with a decent run. So now I figure if I give him a lucky friend, he’ll make some magic happen for you.”

“I hope you’re right…” He then gives her a quick kiss on the cheek before walking over to the guys for a last minute conversation.

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

“Alright, it’s show time here,” Eddie says over the radio. “All we gotta do is do it all day long here.”

Sarina takes a deep breath as she takes her usual seat on the pit box, headset on her head, ready to endure a race that would probably seem like it was 24 hours long. She knew it was just another race, just another day at the track. However, what could possibly happen with the result of a good day didn’t leave her mind. What if today was the day?

Her hopes instantly opened up as she watched him take the lead on Lap 12, passing Ryan Blaney for the top spot. So far, so good, as the car seemed to be handling great with consistent lap times. But, it was early, so she couldn’t get ahead of herself either.

Everything seemed smooth until Lap 26 as she watched the No. 11 FedEx Toyota begin to close the gap to the rear bumper. Her eyes opened wide and she shook her head in surprise, combined with some anger mixed in probably too, as a small bump saw Denny go by for the top spot two laps later. She had to grin as she watched Chase give him a small bump in return entering turn one, putting himself back out front.

“That’s my boy,” she comments to herself. It was nice to see him standing his ground and not taking Denny’s crap. Though a sigh escaped her lips as Denny passed him back a lap later, beginning to pull away.

“Stay with it, nice and smooth,” Alan says over the radio, set to keep his driver focused on the bigger picture. Yes, it sucked that it was Denny leading. Certainly, Denny would be the worst person to see transfer to the next round or win today. But there was still a long way to go and they wouldn’t get there if they let him get into his head.

The first stage finished off solidly, as he crossed the line in third behind Denny and Kyle Larson. She then watched him come down pit road – tires off, tires on, fuel inserted, and pull off easily. Letting out a sigh, she almost let out a curse word in seeing him drop two spots to fifth

“Lots of time,” she reminded herself with a deep breath.

While she tried to stay positive and focused, admittedly her heart was almost set to break in watching the second stage. Fighting a loose condition throughout the run, he slipped back one position at a time, ultimately finishing the stage in ninth. Letting out a sigh, this certainly wasn’t helping their cause at all. Something had to change, and soon….

She somehow managed to keep her wits about her, and slowly things started to turn around. Alan’s adjustments paid off as with 100 laps to go, he was back to being happy with the overall balance, set to make his way to the front, already up a spot to eighth. Though closing the gap to those ahead wasn’t coming easy, with everybody’s times being so close together.

“What line are they running?” He asked a couple times on the radio, looking for anything to make up the ground.

Everybody felt almost stuck in a routine, till she felt a tap on her arm from Jordan Allan and instantly glanced at the big screen, watching Trevor Bayne blow a tire and hit the wall. Perfectly timed caution as that’d help with the problem. Now if they could make something happen.

“Really used the brakes today,” Chase comments over the radio. “They’re used up. I don’t think heat is the issue, but they’re used up…” She felt her heart sink in the thought of a problem, but knew that she couldn’t panic. He was a big boy, and he could handle the brake issue.

“Come on Shamrock, come on Hootie…” She says, clutching tighter to the pair of stuffed animals in her hands. After he had climbed in, she had been put on babysitting duty for the pair, according to practically everybody on the team since Shamrock was hers anyway. She just hoped that it didn’t result in Hootie going flying off the pit box at some point.

The restart went perfectly, as she found herself on the edge of her seat, more impressed than usual as she watched him crack the top-five with a pass on Kevin Harvick.

“Keep it rolling, best lap times….” Eddie D’Hondt encourages, which was backed up by his performance on track as he got around Erik Jones to move up into fourth. Three more spots to go now. “All clear. We’re coming to the party, boys!” The smile only grew more as it seemed like destiny now.

It didn’t take long for another yellow flag to come out, though, as Chris Buescher blew a brake rotor and hit the wall with 61 laps to go. Perhaps another restart would be perfect….

“I don’t know what that was, but that was balls out!” Chase comes over the radio. “That was really good.” She couldn’t help but agree in watching him go from eighth to fourth in 10 laps. Maybe rubbing the pets was a good idea as she gave them both another rub.

“What the hell is that?” Jordan catches her attention, pointing to big screen. Her jaw drops as she sees the safer barrier on fire.

“Is that really happening?” She questions and Jordan nods his head. “So much for being fire retardant…” She almost had to laugh as if something would happen in these playoffs, it seemed to take place.

Once the fire was out and they lined up for the restart, she takes a deep breath. It was now or never, and anything was possible in Phoenix. She just hoped it played in their favor.

Once again, he got the restart of his life, going from fourth to second before the caution flew once again, now with 50 laps to go, for someone in the back hitting the wall.

“Our car likes these short runs,” Chase says over the radio afterwards. While these runs made her more nervous than she could take at times, she was willing to deal if he continued to move forward like this. Just make sure to have some gum and tums ready, too.

Unfortunately, this restart did not pan out as she wanted as he fell back to fourth. More importantly – Denny was now right there in front of them. Letting out a sigh, it seemed no matter what they couldn’t get away from each other all day. This was not what they needed right now.

She even found herself cursing a little, ready to punch Denny herself post-race, as she watched the pair trade contact back and forth. She knew if this kept up, the laps would just continue to tick away and everything they were truly working towards would not happen.

As Chase got underneath Denny through the dog leg, her hand clenched into a fist, pumping up and down on her knee, small cheers filling her in hopes that this time he would complete the pass. She ten watches them through turns three and four, followed by contact off the corner as Denny got into the wall. She couldn’t help but smile in watching Chase clear him.

“All clear,” Eddie goes on the radio, not even deterred by the contact. “Flip your bead fans on now. Nice and smooth…

“Well played Chase,” Sarina couldn’t help but comment herself as the smile remained in seeing the tire smoke off of the No. 11 Toyota. It wasn’t a direct payback or wreck that you’d replay over and over, and know it was purposely done. It was enough contact to send a message and do the damage – without going say overboard. Perfectly short track executed.

Of course, her smile only widened some more in seeing the tire blow out for Denny, followed by him hitting the outside wall.

“Oh snap!” Jordan lets out with a high-five to a couple of the crew members.

“Can I get that on replay please?” Sarina questions, almost to the point where she wanted to break out laughing. She knew there was going to be a reward for that move.

Though with Denny out of the picture, it was time to focus on what they were there to do. They had a fast enough car; now it was just making it happen.

Her smile didn’t even get a chance to fade as her eyes locked on the restart with 30 laps to go, seeing Chase take the top spot.

“All clear, all clear,” Eddie says over the radio. “Alright, nice and smooth now….”

She just needed to find a way to be calm and collected. 30 more laps. They could do this, finally.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 86: “It’s on me.”

Thursday night, Kentucky Speedway

Once the plane landed, it was a short trip to the speedway with the group immediately finding their way to the infield. Couple goodbyes said, and both Jimmie and William headed in their own direction. Dale and Regan stuck with Chase, wanting to make sure he got settled for the night with everything that went on.

They go to the motorcoach, with Chase unlocking the door, quietly walking in. It didn’t take long before Alyssa had her arms wrapped around him tightly, holding him. Dale couldn’t help but smile knowing that was classic her, remembering when she did that to him a couple times.

“You shouldn’t have come,” Cindy starts as she is the next one to hug him. “You need to be home, taking care of yourself…” Chase lets out a sigh, as it didn’t matter how old he was, Momma was always going to try and take care of him.

“I’m fine being here in Kentucky,” he assures her. “The doctor said it was fine for me to fly out as Regan asked. Besides, if I was home, I’d be worried even more over what was going on here. I’ll take it easy, okay?”

“Don’t worry Cindy,” Alyssa adds. “If he doesn’t take it easy, I’ll kick his ass for you.” Chase then looks at her a little skeptical as she just smiles back in return. “You heard me….”

“Well, I’m going to go get settled so I will see you later,” Regan states. “Chase, if you need me, just give me a ring. Take it easy, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Thank you,” Chase says once again as he gives him a hug. “I mean it – thank you.”

“I’m always just a text message away.” Regan then gives Dale a quick pat on the back, before heading out to leave the group by themselves.

“Alright guys, it’s time for you to give them some time to chill,” Dale instructs after awhile. He knew sleep was the best thing for Chase right now, and having the motorcoach crowded wasn’t going to lead to that. “He needs to relax, and she needs sleep before a busy day tomorrow. Time to say goodbye.”

“You’re going to be careful, right?” Cindy asks once again and Chase nods his head. “Alright. Take care of yourself and get some sleep.”

It didn’t take long before everyone cleared out, leaving Alyssa and Chase to themselves, as they both got ready for bed and got comfortable.

“Are you sure you’re okay right now?” Alyssa wonders, still worried about him. He just simply responds by pulling her close to him.

“It’s a little sore, but I’m fine,” he answers honestly. “You don’t need to worry about me.” She then rolls her eyes, knowing that was impossible.

“I always worry about you – I always have. You can’t think that a moment is going to go by where I’m just going to sit back and not worry. Give me a break, Chase.” She then lays her head on his chest, a bunch of thoughts running through her mind at what seemed like 100 miles per hour. “I can’t believe this happened, and it’s on me-”

“What do you mean?” She then lifts her head up, staring into his brown eyes.

“Well they stated it was stress related and it clearly happened after my appointment. You’re stressing out over me, which is nothing new.” He then lets out a sigh, rubbing her shoulders. Well she was certainly on his mind, that wasn’t the start of it.

“I’d been dealing with a couple of the signs before then, but chalked it up to nothing. Besides, I’m not stressing about what’s about happen for you. I know that whatever works best, whether amputation or another road, is for the right reasons. I also know that you’re strong beyond anything. You’re like your father in a lot of ways. The world may throw a bunch of bricks at you, but you don’t change; you keep that sweetness, honesty, and every great quality about you. I know you’ll get through it so I don’t stress about you.” She knew he was just trying to make her feel better with his advice, and make it not seem like it was her fault.

“And now you can cut the cra-”

“My stress comes with my anxiety and fears. I’m stressing about everything that I’m going through and feeling. I’m stressing about trying to do the right thing. I’m stressing about the worry in whether I can make things better, come back from this. I’m stressing about…. It’s me that’s causing my own issues, not you. This isn’t something that just started over night.” He then takes a deep breath, remembering the doctor’s words in trying to find some way to cope with it all. “I just need to find a way to cope with it all.”

“You’re going to find that, Chase. You will move forward. Everything will get better. We’re not going to be stuck in this situations forever.” He nods his head, hoping that she was right. But admittedly, there were times he wasn’t sure about that.

“I believe you, and I’m trying.” She glances back up at him, again.

“You’re doing a helluva job, admirable. Just take it one step at a time, okay?” She then reaches up, kissing his lips. “Now, I wouldn’t be doing my job if we weren’t getting comfy and going to sleep.”

“Yes, Nurse Earnhardt.” She just smiles as they get comfortable together, set for a good night sleep.

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

Chase made his way through the garage, falling in suit with the crew members, ready for the first XFINITY practice of the day. So far, it was business as usual. Spend the morning hanging out with Alyssa, walk to the garage together, let her get ready to go, and head to the hauler to watch.

“Hey!” Regan says as the pair cross paths. “How are you feeling?”

“Alright,” Chase replies, and that was honesty. The pain had laid off with taking both the pain killers and other pills. It was just a matter of hoping things were starting to heal down there. He had also been keeping himself nice and relaxed, which came easily at the track, so he was following the stress rule so to speak.

“That’s good. Listen, just take it easy, alright?” Chase nods his head. “I’m serious. I don’t want to be creating some emergen-”

“I’m fine, Regan. It’s not that bad and I’m chilled out. Your truck looked good in practice so best of luck later on today. I’m headed to watch Alyssa.” Regan easily lets him go, though his eyes linger on him for a little while longer. He couldn’t help but worry.

The practice went smoothly, with no incidents at all. But that didn’t mean it was all smiles in the JR Motorsports camp as struggling wasn’t the word for it. No matter what they did to the car, it just seemed to be too loose all throughout the session and as a result, she timed in 24th quickest.

“This is ridiculous!” She comments as she runs her hands through her hair. First round of the playoffs and they looked like a bunch of idiots who didn’t know what they were doing. What happened to all the speed they had shown the past couple months?

“I am going to go see if Leo’s guys have any suggestions,” Kevin Meendering says, before walking away. She rolls her eyes in response, not believing that now they were having to rely on their teammate, their competition at that, so they could figure it out.

“Hey, you’ve started weekends like this before and they’ve turned out beautiful,” Chase reminds her as he wraps his arms around her shoulders. “Take a deep breath, think, and relax. You’ll be fine.” She wanted to follow those words, but the drive and desire to succeed was telling her otherwise. “Think about how you’re detailing of what the car is doing, and try to rerun those laps over and over in your mind. Was there something that you missed? Did you maybe not explain something how Kevin needed to hear you? Could you change up or give a bit stronger feedback to get the car where you need it?”

“Maybe it’s not necessarily loose, but tight on entry,” she finally says out loud as she glances over her shoulder at him. “Maybe I’m not realizing that, trying to overcorrect my line, and causing the other issue. So therefore, we’re not fixing what the real problem is….”

“Why don’t you give that a try in the next session?” She nods her head, accepting, ready to tell Kevin when he got back.

“Are you okay?” He immediately rolls his eyes, growing annoyed at every person asking him already throughout the day.

“I’m fine – just focus on getting the car better for tomorrow.”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 156: “I Can’t Hold Back Anymore….”

Sunday, October 8 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

The seconds felt like minutes, and the minutes felt like hours. The anticipation and flip-flopping feeling in his stomach continued to build.

Couldn’t it be race time already?

Taking a deep breath, he glances at his phone, seeing if Sarina had sent him any updates from Winchester yet. Qualifying should’ve been in the books already and he was hoping to see at least where she’d start before his day got busy with driver introductions, and his race. Though, just like the last time he looked 10 minutes ago, there was no updates.

He puts his phone back in his pocket, letting out a sigh. What else was a guy to do while he waited for race time?

“You look un-amused…” He hears, catching his attention, and he could only roll his eyes. It’s like his parents had a special intuition at times.

“Just getting impatient,” he comments as he leans back against the tool box. Normally, he’d be calm and collected before a race, just waiting patiently for the day to begin or busy with pre-race sponsor obligations. Though now having an hour to himself and thinking of the goal at hand – solid day, no mistakes, keep yourself in playoff contention, and there was no way to be calm, cool, and collected.

“You don’t have someone here to keep your mind off everything and have some fun with…” He smiles, knowing that his mom was probably right in her words. Sarina and him would normally crack jokes together, sometimes finding Ryan to crack some with him, which obviously passed time quicker than waiting around. “Your dad mentioned that you were pre-occupied with some thoughts yesterday….”

“Of course he would tell you…” He would’ve rather kept that conversation just between he and his father, but he understood Bill’s reasons for speaking to Cindy. Concern was paramount given the situation. “Look, I’m fine. The advice that he offered, combined with figuring some things out myself, I’m good.”

“I still say that you and Sarina should make sure to get that restraining order against Allison…” Chase wished he never heard that name again.

“We’re looking into it, okay? If she meant what she said, she’ll return to whatever life she had before. If she didn’t, I can promise you it won’t be much to get her charged with stalking.”

“Just promise me you’ll be careful, okay?” He looks straight in his mom’s eyes, grabbing her hand firmly. He was used to her nerves. He knew how to deal with those already.

“I’m always careful, Momma. I’ll be fine.” She nods her head, accepting, but her mind swirled in 20 other different directions. There was no need to chance fate again.

**********

Sunday, October 8

Chase lies in the bed, barely focused on whatever show he had chosen to pull off Netflix that evening to watch. He could’ve cared less, to be honest. His mind was focused on other thoughts.

He had a decent day, followed what he needed to do, and ended up with a solid second-place finish. It was nice to be able to improve throughout the day, with their best run at the end. It didn’t hurt to have that confidence boost entering the other mile and a half tracks to come in the playoffs.

Though his day didn’t matter in reflecting on the big picture once he got to watch the highlights from the Winchester 400. Starting up front, Sarina stayed up there, pulling off an impressive slide job on Bubba Pollard on a restart, and leading the rest of the way en route to the win. He had called to congratulate her, with her assuring him that she’d be home as soon as possible.

Being middle of the night, he should be sleeping – but his mind was solely focused on waiting for her to get home. He couldn’t wait to see her.

As the clock barely turned over to 12:05, he heard the front door click open downstairs, immediately shutting the television off as he walked out to the top of the stairs. He glanced down, an instant smile forming on his face as he saw her come through the door.

“Chase?!?” She calls out, glancing around as she sets down her bag. He immediately comes down the stairs, only stopping when he reached the bottom step. “I figured you weren’t sleeping….”

“I can’t sleep without you home,” he tells her as he walks over, pulling her close to him right away. “Congratulations.” He then kisses her lips. “I’m so glad that it worked out for you, but damn, I missed you so much today…” She chuckles, wrapping her arms around him in return.

“I missed you, too. I almost stood on pit road before the race regretting my decision to go, actually.” He looks at her surprised. It was odd to hear either of them looking forward to each other more than some race somewhere, especially her.

“Really? I thought you couldn’t wait to run the late model event, it was the best thing that you could’ve dreamed of, you missed it so mu-”

“Oh, stop blabbling…” She then pushes her lips against his, slowly backing them both up against the one wall. “I absolutely adore late model racing, but damn….I realized something else. I love you more than I could’ve realized.”

“I love you, too, and I love this just as much.” He then puts his lips back against hers, keeping her pinned against the wall. “Your lips…”

“Yours are softer…” Their tongues find each others, as he picks her up, with her legs immediately wrapping around his hips. He then carries her up the stairs, with their tongues barely leaving each others, before he leads her into the bedsroom, laying her back on the bed. “Chase….”

“Sarina…”  He looks into her blue eyes with his brown eyes, feeling every bit of lust and desire forming more than he could’ve explained. “I can’t hold back anymore. I love you. I keep falling more and more for you.” She then pulls on his t-shirt, bringing him down to her, faces within inches of each other.

“I can’t deny it anymore, either. I thought I could resist you…but…I can’t….” She then grabs his hands, holding it firmly with hers. “I need this, I need you…” He didn’t know if it was the desperation from the emotions swirling through her from everything that had happened, or the time apart, but he could sympathize with her position. His hands had always liked the feeling of continuing to roam over her. He ultimately wanted to feel every inch of her, too….

“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” She felt the hitch and pause in his words, wondering if she had overstepped boundaries with her request. However, there was no stopping the flood of emotions now.

“I want you, and I need you; I want to be your first tonight.” He was sure that was what she meant originally, and frankly – his guard was totally down that night as he knew what he wanted, too.

“Then what are we waiting for?” His lips find her lips once again as her hands roam underneath his t-shirt, slowly slipping it up his body.

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

Monday, October 9

“That was…” Sarina starts, trying to keep her wits about her.

“Incredible?” Chase questions as he looks over at her. She glances over, nodding her head. “No regrets?”

“Absolutely not a single one. How about you?” Chase shakes his head no.

“I would do it again, if you asked….” She then chuckles as she moves back close to him, laying her head on his shoulder.

“Can I have some time to calm everything down and relax first?” He laughs and nods his head. “I can’t believe everything that released….”

“You had a lot of emotional stress going on, and frankly – we both can’t handle being away from each other for a whole weekend easily. That’s going to be a problem next year.” She nods her head in agreement.

“At least we know the therapeutic cure….” She then leans in, lightly kissing his lips.

“Then you won’t mind if I’m gone both Wednesday and Thursday?” An instant face of shock meets his as he simply smiles. “I’m going testing at Martinsville. Alan seems to think that if we do two full days of testing there, I will figure out how to get around that place.”

“You won the truck race in the spring – that damn clock in the hallway reminds me every day, and you finished top-five in the Cup race. Doesn’t that spell knowing what the hell you’re doing?” He laughs and shakes his head.

“I still haven’t found that rhythm that Jeff and Jimmie talk about. I need to find that…” She rolls her eyes as she lets out a sigh.

“I guess I can’t stop you from going testing. I mean, if you need to, then you should. But you will be in Talladega on Thursday night, right?” He nods his head, knowing that the plan was to go straight from Martinsville to Talladega on Thursday when they were done.

“And I’ll be home Wednesday night since I’m not staying there overnight. It’s a quick flight…” She nods her head, accepting. “What are you thinking?”

“That flight path – Charlotte to Martinsville. When you go over the mountain, do you ever think about what happened?” He knows exactly what she was talking about as he wraps an arm around her.

“Alan and Josh have mentioned it a couple times in how they think about it. It really doesn’t play a role in my mind, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t ever forget what happened to them…” She then wraps an arm around over his chest as she gets snuggly.

“Just promise me you’ll be careful?” He then wraps an arm around her, keeping her held close.

“I’m always careful….”

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

Friday, October 13 – Talladega Superspeedway

Chase walked through the garage area, caught off-guard by the mix of conversation and glances his way, as he went straight for his stall. He walks through past the crew members, who each gave him a quick glance but went about their jobs, as he walks up to Alan.

“Considering everything going on for you, I’d say you’re not frazzled at all,” Alan comments, catching Chase off-guard.

“What did I miss that’s going on in my life?” Chase questions as Alan rummages through the papers on the box, pulling out the National Enquirer. He then hands it over to Chase, flipping to a particular page as he does so.

“Have a read, and then let me know…” Alan then walks past the young man, going over to the crew guys.

“You have got to be kidding me?!?”

There was no other reaction than that as he read through the details on the page before him. There, laid out in a two-page column, was everything you could imagine about Sarina.

The reporter depicted how her real name was Chelsy Dryer, calling her a fraud. He then went on to discuss her connection to her brother and parents, including details surrounding her father’s death. The article even detailed her brother’s horrific actions in the plane incident, followed by the push at Cordele, and the poisonings. It then detailed the connection to Bethany and Allison, as well.

The article finished off questioning whether the young lady could be trusted, and whether she had a future in NASCAR with everything out in the open now about her entire life. The article also questioned the validity of her relationship with Chase, and whether it was meant to be, if she was just doing it for kicks and to get herself known, and whether it could remain strong during everything.

He immediately pulls out his phone, texting Sarina to ask her if she had seen the article, where she was knowing she was supposed to be going to see Marcus about pre-practice discussion, and how she was. He was relieved by her response, as she assured him that she could care less about what was written there – as long as she had her friends who truly stuck behind her. Smiling, it was nice to see her taking his advice finally…

“Well?” Alan questions as he returns, snatching the magazine back from him and burying it on the pit cart. “Congratulations on your great debut in the biggest scam magazine on the planet. You know you’re a superstar when…”

“I can’t believe they just did it like that,” Chase comments as Alan turns around to face him, directly.

“You had to know that was coming eventually. That’s why Morgan was working hard to try and keep tabs on everything. This should be no surprise. That’s how those vultures work. They take whatever they can and exploit it.” Chase nods his head, knowing his crew chief was dead on the money. “As long as you’re both fine…”

“Sarina texted me back that she’s seen it, read it, and could care less. All that matters to her is those who know everything and have her back – like me, Christopher, Marcus, Kyle, Sa-”

“Me and the crew can be added to that list, too. We know how much you love and trust her. If you can find a way to trust her knowing everything, then we can find a way to have your back.”

“I can assure you everything that she did was justified. Her brother got involved the wrong way, and her father got shot trying to protect her brother while still fulfilling his line of duty. She moved to California as a result, but those people found her mom and her there. She then made the move down here.” Alan places his hand firmly on Chase’s shoulder.

“You don’t need to tell me everything. Like I said, I believe you and if you trust her – we all have your back. Let them have their fun and talk about this for awhile and get a thrill out of it. Once something else comes out, they’ll move on to the next big thing. The most important thing is that Kyle, Sam, her sponsors, and your sponsors know the truth and don’t waiver.” Chase knew that Sarina had told both Kyle and Sam, which probably meant that her sponsors knew.

“I just hate to see her go through this….” He glances away, before returning his eyes back to Alan. “All she wants is to be able to have that normal life finally. She wants to be able to stop running, leave the demons where they belong, and move forward. No matter what she does, it seems to be thrown right back in her face.”

“It’ll work out, eventually. Just stick with it. Everybody will understand what happened, and not give a shit.” Chase nods his head, hoping that was sooner than later. “Now, I hate to twist things around but we got practice.”

“Ooo yay, I can go out there and run laps all by myself now…” Alan chuckles, knowing how Talladega practice could be so boring.

“No no, I’m going to make it more interesting. You can run laps with Kasey, Dale and Jimmie in a train.” Chase forms the biggest smile he can muster on his face as Alan laughs.

“Oh thank you for letting me have friends in the sandbox…” Alan continues chuckling as Chase goes over to the car.