Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 92: “There’s something about you, and blue….”

Friday, June 9

Chase walked into the garage, smiling as he saw the crew guys all hanging around ready for a busy day of practice and qualifying. With the speed they’d shown lately, and a good run last week, it was time to keep the momentum rolling.

“Ready to go, superstar?” Jared Seate questions and Chase shakes his head yes. “Not missing the girl at all?”

“I’m confident that she’ll do well this weekend,” Chase answers, having followed the live updates from Kyle Busch Motorsports all-day Thursday on practice. While she wasn’t at the top of the time sheet, the fact that she felt comfortable and knew they’d be good in race trim was a good feeling. Now if they just borrowed a bit of Bell’s qualifying set-up, perhaps it’d be a stellar night for her.

“And let me guess – she’ll be here tomorrow?” Chase shakes his head no, remembering her plans.

“She’s going to stay back to watch the Stadium Super Trucks and the IndyCars. She’ll be here on Sunday, though.”

“I thought she’d be traveling back to be with you as soon as possible.” Chase laughs and shakes his head no, though partially wishing that a bit himself. He had to admit he missed her sometimes on weekends like this. Though, it was part of the schedule and he knew the summer brought that a lot with how the trucks did a lot of stand-alone events.

“We have our own lives, and our own desires. We both want to make this work. I respect hers just as much as she respects mine, so therefore we give each other space.” Jared crosses his arms as he couldn’t help but admire that.

“Then why is it your mother still has a problem with her? I mean, we’re four months removed and you guys have only grown more closer together. I mean, it’s the talk of the garage…well, besides Bubba getting a chance to drive for Petty. But still, it baffles me.” Chase knew the answer without saying much as he sat down beside the crew member.

“She still doesn’t trust her and fully grasp what happened there. She gets the reasons why she did it, and yes, she has a heart and understands. But I’m her baby and as she described to me, she’s supposed to protect me no matter what. It’s an underlying worry that she has still till she’s fully proven otherwise. It’ll take time, but it will happen. Besides, she admitted that she’s starting to grow on her….” Jared smiles, remembering that small detail amongst everything.

“I heard that comment at Dover, too – till she mentioned Sarina’s brother. It seems with her brother in the picture, it may not ever come though.” Chase knew that was a good possibility, having pondered that a bunch of times himself. It wasn’t like it was something he could brush aside either, recalling a couple recent conversations with Alan.

“I don’t blame her, honestly. I mean, look at what happened between us, right? I’ve told Alan straight out, too, that I don’t fully trust him either.” Jared watched Chase curiously, as he thought over his next question.

“Alan mentioned a worry about the poison deal being connected to him. Are you worried about that?” Chase wanted to straight out say no, however he couldn’t do that. He heard about Chris’ brief ‘fan zone’ disappearance, and seemed odd on the timing of the incidents. “I see some hesitation….”

“Let’s just say that I know what he said to me that day, and it has stuck ever since. Now, we have a job to do, right?” Jared shakes his head yes as he watches Chase stand up. “Let’s focus and do what we got to do.”

“Yes boss.” Jared then brushes his legs off, before heading the other direction as Chase lets out a sigh. Glancing at the car, he knew it was time to focus on the day at hand.

The team was able to put together a solid practice, with Chase ‘alright’ about the car after the session full of race trim runs. As they got ready to switch over for qualifying trim, he could only hope that it went accordingly to plan.

With some time to kill between the session, he made his way back to the trailer, snagging some lunch before relaxing in the lounge part of the hauler. Just as he was set to bite into his sub, his phone rang and an immediate smile formed on his face.

“Hey princess,” he says as he hit answers on the FaceTime request, instantly earning an eye roll from her.

“Oh, so you think that you can try that line on me since it worked so well for Christopher?” She questions as he laughs.

“But you’re my princess as I’d do anything to make you feel good.” She couldn’t help but giggle in response.

“Okay, that earns you a point Mr. Elliott. The only thing is I don’t know how I feel about you in orange yet. There’s something about you and blue…” He just rolls his eyes.

“Well, white definitely works for you, sweetie, as it shows off every curve – just don’t let people stare at that butt of yours.” She takes another round of chuckling.

“You’ll just have to win me over with that lovely orange….” He looks on intrigued. However, he couldn’t deny that he was loving the chat as it was nice to get in some quality flirting.

“Maybe when you’re here on Sunday I can do that. Better yet, you can show up a day early and make my weekend that much sweeter.” She then sighs. It was a big toss-up for her. One of the reasons she loved the trucks racing at Texas was the fact IndyCar and SST ran the same weekend. She loved watching both, and it was nice to get a chance to see them live for a change. However, she understood the pain of being separated for a couple days.

“You know I’m just a ring-a-ling a way if you’re that desperate for company, Chase. But anyways, I thought you could take care of yourself.” Chase chuckles.

“Oh I’m not worried about myself, dear. I know I can handle cooking and all that day. It’s you that I worry about.” She had to laugh, knowing that her cooking was questionable at times. There were also times that she forgot to eat totally when she got busy.

“Does it make you happy that I’m eating while talking to you right now?” He shakes his head yes. “Good. So see, I can take care of myself.”

“Just make sure you have a good safe, fun, clean night. I want to see what a cowboy hat looks like on that sweet head of yours.” She smiles, wishing for the same result.

“I’m going to try, buddy. Alright – I better go as Marcus wants to chit chat soon. Talk later?” He shakes his head yes. “Love you.”

“Love you, more. Bye Sarina.” He then hangs up as he kicks his feet up, eating the rest of his sub as he watched XFINITY practice. That phone call was exactly what he needed.

The relaxation lasted for a good hour before a knock at the door, and he knew it was time for qualifying. Making his way out of the trailer, he grabs one of the markers off the counter and heads out. Taking his time along the way, he signs some autographs for the fans as he heads out to pit road.

He makes his way out to pit road and the walk down to his stall for the session, set to lay down the best lap that he could imagine.

“I was wondering where you were,” he hears a male voice as he reaches there, surprised to see his parents. They had told him they were coming, but weren’t sure if they’d get there for Friday or not.

“I was taking my time, but knew I’d be here with time to spare,” he answers as he fixes his shoes.

“Any updates from Texas?” He shakes his head no, knowing the truck series qualifying session was scheduled around the same time that he was supposed to go out for his session.

“She’s supposed to text me when she’s done, just as I am supposed to do for her.” Bill shakes his head, understanding. It was the same agreement that they had in place when she was racing a late model for him.

“Her brother and that supposed cousin with her?” Cindy asks and Chase shakes his head yes, only imagining what his mom would say next.

“Well, Bethany actually isn’t with them since Sarina told her off this week after the family comment stunt,” he starts. “Bethany stopped by and made some other comment about that reunion. Sarina told her to fly a kite because she wasn’t doing family drama anymore.” Cindy rolls her eyes.

“But yet she still hangs around with her brother?” Chase lets out a sigh, having a feeling that was coming.

“We’ve talked about this, and that’s all I’m going to say. I’ve told you what she’s said about her brother. I’ve also told you that I’m being cautious and careful. Now, can we drop it, please?” Cindy shakes her head, knowing there were bigger fish to fry. Besides, as long as he aware, that was all that mattered.  “It is nice to see you both, though.” Chase then walks away, heading over to Alan as Cindy watches on.

“You need to relax a little,” Bill comments as he rubs her shoulders.

“But I’m Mama Bear and it’s my job to prote-” Cindy starts.

“But your cub is growing up, and learning to handle things for himself. Besides, you both are just going around in circles. You see how much he loves her. Respect that, embrace that. Give her a chance.” She then looks back at Bill.

“You’re just worried that he’s going to be mad at me and not talk to me, aren’t you? You don’t want to lose that…” Bill just pulls her back close. “Don’t worry – I won’t let it come to that. But I will not back down when it comes to protecting him.”

The debates of the afternoon were all put aside through the next couple of hours with the focus being on qualifying. Still fighting a loose condition, Chase was unable to lay down the lap he wanted and barely missed out on making it to the second round, qualifying 25th.

“I should’ve went further on that adjustment,” Alan comments after the session is over. “I’m sorry.” Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“There’s a lot of ways to get to the front, strategy or passing,” Chase says. “We’ll work on the car a little tomorrow and be fine for Sunday. Don’t worry.” Alan smiles, liking the confidence from his driver.

“I believe you’re right as we know what we need to do now.” Chase shakes his head yes as he grabs his phone off the pit cart. “Any update?” He shakes his head no as he lets out a sigh.

“Pole!!!!” Jared Seate lets out, causing everyone to look over confused.

“Um, none of our cars on the pole,” Alan states the obvious as Jared laughs, shaking his head.

“Truck Series live timing and scoring – I have it loaded on my phone from NASCAR’s website. Someone is going to love-a-dub his update from his girl.” Chase then looks over at Jared with a face of amazement.

“Seriously?” He questions and Jared shakes his head yes, walking over as he shows Chase the scoring monitor.

“Read it and weep, baby. Sarina Ott just got her first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole at Texas Motor Speedway. How does that feel?” Chase immediately smiles as he lets out a small woohoo.

“That’s awesome!” He then grabs his phone, texting her immediately to say congratulations, knowing she’d get it once done with all the photos and such.

“So, where are you watching this truck race tonight?” Chase looks over at Jared, intrigued. “We were stealing Alan’s suite at the hotel tonight because he’s got the 70 inch screen in there. That’d allow you to see her full screen…”

“Do you really want a panicking boyfriend ruining our viewing experience?” Chad Avrit questions as Chase laughs.

“Me? Panicking?” He asks and Chad shakes his head yes.

“I saw you at Talladega. You’re nervous watching her.” Chase chuckles, though knew that the crew guys were right.

“Regardless, I think it’d be fun if you join us…” Jared continues as Chase thinks it over, figuring company was perhaps a good idea since Ryan and Darrell had ditched him.

“Fine, just so I can drive Chad crazy,” he comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I guess…..”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s good to hear.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I understan-”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But I started that deal with Betha-”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I hope you’re right…”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 84: Fan Day!

 

Friday, May 27 – Coke 600 Weekend

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m doing alright. How are you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 78: Geico 500

Sarina sat on top of Chase’s pit box, feeling every bit of nervous throughout the race.

Normally, she was calm and focused in watching Chase out there. However, after her wreck yesterday and knowing what happened in Daytona last year, she couldn’t help but feel the nerves. She could understand why Samantha, Delana and Sherry always cursed these races now.

So far, things had gone well. Chase had ran up front, ran in the middle of the pack, and shown speed – all setting up for a great ending to the race. She gave herself a couple deep breaths, knowing that was set to go well.

She felt herself growing with even more anticipation, possibly dumping the nerves, as he moved up into second, challenging for the lead against Kyle Busch with the laps counting down. Maybe today would be the day.

Then it happened.

“Stay on the mirror hard now….Allmendinger is clear,” she heard Eddie D’Hondt over the radio. “On your bumper shoving you….shoving you….Oh my god, he just spun us…Son of a bitch….”

With her eyes focused on the TV screen on the pit box, she saw A.J. Allmendinger get the run off the corner, just catch the left rear corner of Chase’s No. 24 Chevrolet. She watched him spin sideways, back up the track into the path of the field, followed by the contact from Joey Logano into the left rear, catapulting the car in the air.

Her hands immediately went to her mouth as she watched the car go up, slightly tip over, before being caught by the wall and riding it, before landing on all four wheels. She watched as he headed off into turn three still attached to Logano and Keselowsk.

“Well fuck,” she heard Chase over the radio, sending a sigh of relief through her as she lets her hand rest back at her sides. She even had a small chuckle at the choice of wording. “Was that my bad?” She immediately found herself shaking her own head, knowing like everybody else there was nothing he could’ve done there.

“No, that wasn’t your bad,” Eddie replies before anybody could. “He just shoved you so hard that it got you twisted up.”

“Probably not who we need pushing us right there,” Alan Gustafson adds. “Are you okay?”

“I’m okay,” Chase replies. “Driving it back in….”

While the cameras before her focused on Allmendinger’s upside down car on the backstretch, her eyes immediately darted forward as he saw the mangled car heading down pit road, stopping in the stall before her. She then took a couple more deep breathes, knowing that he had to be okay if he drove the car back.

“Can’t touch it guys, can’t touch it yet,” Alan reminds the crew as she looks over at him in surprise. Were they really going to go back out there? How the heck were you supposed to fix all this in five minutes? “Nevermind. Climb out. NASCAR says we’re done due to driving under the red.”

“Fuck! Sorry guys,” Chase replies as Sarina lays back against her seat.

She slowly reaches up, taking the headset off of her head as her eyes remained locked on the car down below her, seeing the window net drop. She then watches as he climbs from the car, setting his helmet and HANs back inside before glancing up at them. He gives them a quick thumbs up, before heading towards the crew, as she feels another sigh of relief come over her.

She couldn’t believe it had happened. She couldn’t believe the fear that had washed over her once again. She couldn’t believe how her stomach had flip-flopped in a matter of minutes. Truthfully, it was even worse than the feeling at Texas earlier that month – and rightfully so based on what happened.

She then looked over at Cindy, watching her feverishly send a text message to someone.

“How are you so calm?” She questions, having not seen a single flinch out of Cindy the whole time.

“I’ve lived this my whole life,” Cindy answers, without looking up from her phone. “You just grow used to it. I was a photographer for a long time before I married Bill. I’ve then been through all of Bill’s scary wrecks – some worse than what Chase just went through. I’ve seen it all, sweetheart.” Sarina just shakes her head in disbelief.

“But how do you do it? I mean, that’s your son!” Cindy then looks up from her phone and to her left at Sarina.

“I know that Rick, Alan and these guys build really safe cars. I know that it’s just part of the danger. I watched the angle of impact and saw how the car landed. I trusted his words instantly. Do I freak out? I admit that I do a little inside, but remembering all these things makes it easier. You’ll find a way to handle it, better…” She shakes her head accepting, though found herself caught off-guard at the same time.

She then stands up, making her way over to the ladder, and carefully making her way down the steps with the help of some crew. She then hobbles over to where Chase stood talking with a crew member.

As she approached him, he instantly felt her presence and turned around to face her. He could see the fear in her eyes, the same fear that he had yesterday for her. Without a word, he reaches his arms out and pulls her close, letting her lean against him.

“I’m okay,” he tells her simply before kissing her forehead. “I’m okay, Sarina. No pain anywhere. I’m perfectly fine. You don’t have to worry about me.” She just lays her head against him quietly.

They didn’t need to say any words as they both knew how each other felt, and knew the feeling of being close together was just what was needed.

“Mr. Elliott, you need to go to the care center,” Chase hears from a NASCAR official over his shoulder. He then glances back at him, shaking his head yes. “And that’s an order and now.”

“I’ll go – don’t worry,” he says as he keeps his eyes focused on Sarina. “Do you want to come with me?” She shakes her head yes.

They both then get on the golf cart, taking the short ride back to the medical center. As expected, Chase got through cleanly without any issues, fully checked out and deemed completely wreck.

He emerges from the care center, seeing the sea of media as he lets out a sigh. He watches as AJ completes his interview with FOX, glad that he was alright after getting upside down. He then looks on surprised as AJ turns around, walking over to him.

“I just want to say I’m sorry,” AJ starts. “I was just trying to push you and got over too far. I’m sorry for causing that mess. Glad you’re okay.” Chase shakes his head, accepting.

“Glad you’re okay, too,” Chase replies. “And as far as what happened, it’s not your fault. It’s just part of plate racing. I mean, we know how these cars are.” AJ shakes his head in agreement before heading off.

Chase then takes a deep breath, walking over and completing his interviews necessary. Once they were done, he walks over to where Sarina was waiting, climbs on the golf cart beside her and heads back to the motorcoach.

Once they get back, he reaches to pick her up – but she holds up her hand.

“You just wrecked,” she starts. “Shouldn’t I be taking care of you?” He shakes his head no as he holds out his hand.

“I’m fine while you have a sore foot that you should be staying off,” he answers as she grabs his hand, standing up.

“I can hobble…” He then scoops her up in his arms. “Chase!!”

“I told you I’m fine!” He then carries her inside, placing her in the familiar spot, with her foot back up.

“And what about you mister? You just wrecked…” He then lets out a sigh as he undoes the zipper on his firesuit.

“I told you that I’m fine, but if it makes you feel better…” He then slips the top of the firesuit off, before flopping back on the other couch. “I’ll stay here quietly while you lay there.” She then looks over with a smile.

“By the way, where’s Hootie?” He then looks over confused.

“Why?” There was only one destination for Hootie after this weekend.

“I’m going to kill owl. That little shithead shows up and we both have bad luck.” Chase couldn’t help but laugh as he pulls the owl out of his pocket, setting it on himself. “He was with you in the car?” Chase shakes his head no.

“Alan gave him to me before you came over after the wreck.” She then reaches out for him but he holds him away from her. “Listen, you’re going to lay there and blame our shitty Talladega luck on this cutie?”

“Hell yes! Now give him to me!” Chase shakes his head no as he holds him close to himself.

“But I like Hootie…” She then rolls her eyes as she goes to climb off the couch. “Sarina Ott!” She then freezes, looking at him in surprise.

“Listen here Mr. William Clyde Elliott…” It was his turn to give a surprised look. “He may be cute, but I’m not taking anymore chances. Say goodbye to the owl.” He then stands up, placing Hootie in a bag.

“You’re not shredding him as he’s cute and it’s not his fault that he was bad luck. I’ll send him home with Sara and tell her to send his brother next race. Maybe he’ll be luckier.” Sarina could only roll her eyes, not looking forward to Hootie’s return personally.

“When does he return anyway?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, not remembering the sponsorship schedule.

“If I knew, I wouldn’t tell you either as you’d probably shred the poor thing.” She then shakes her head no.

“Nah – I’d just give him to Kyle. His animals like to eat stuffies.” Chase then looks on in horror as she lets out an evil laugh. Chase couldn’t help but laugh afterwards as he lied back on the couch. “Are you sure you’re okay?” He then looks over at her.

“I’m absolutely 100% certain that I am okay. Not a single drop of pain.” He then stands up, making his way over to her couch, letting her sit up a little before sitting down himself and letting her lay against him as he wrapped his arms around her. “Better?” She shakes her head yes. “So is there anyway that I can talk you into keeping Hootie? I mean, I thought he was your buddy….”

“Chase….”

“I’m just saying. He’s cute and he was buddy, and it’s not his fault that AJ got into me.” She then lets out a sigh, looking over at the paper bag.

“Is it really going to break your heart to let him go?” He shakes his head yes.

“He became my best friend this weekend, second to you of course.” She then smiles as she reaches over with every bit that she had, grabbing the bag and dumping the owl out onto her.

“We’ll give him a bath this week and wash away everything. Maybe then he’ll behave.” Chase smiles as he watches her cuddle the owl.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 52: The Encounter

Chase leaned back against the wall, knowing in the room behind him was the pre-qualifying debrief between crew chief, driver and team. After such a strong ending to yesterday’s practice, he hoped things continued on a high today.

“So you’ve been fine all weekend?” His mind focuses back to the phone call as he rolls his eyes. He knew why his mom was calling, and couldn’t blame her after the recent events. That didn’t mean he’d rather not be having this conversation right now.

“Absolutely fine mom,” he tells once again. “I haven’t had a single issue at all so you can calm down.” He hears a sigh on the other end, knowing the speech was coming.

“I’m your mother. It’s my job to worry, Chase. But you’ve been sticking by the guys and not venturing on your own right?” He knew of her nerves and rightfully so after the incident at Bristol. However, eventually, he would have to see how he could handle things on his own so he was prepared. He knew he wasn’t there yet, with some stuff to still work through.

“Yes, mom. I’ve practically been by Alyssa’s side all weekend, except during practice when I was with Kevin and the team.”

“Okay. Just checking. I love you, and I wanted to make sure you were okay.” As much as the call annoyed him, he couldn’t get mad as he understood the concerns.

“Well, I’m fine so you don’t have to worry about me. Listen, Alyssa is going to coming out soon so I will talk to you later, okay?”

“Okay. Bye Chase.” He then smiles.

“Bye mom, and I love you.” He then hangs up, letting out a sigh as he glances around. He waits a while before seeing the door open, and seeing the group come out. His eyes immediately lock on Alyssa, wrapping an arm around her. “I love you so much.”

“I love you, too,” she replies as she kisses his lips. “We’ve only been away from each other for like 15 minutes. What’s got you all like this?”

“Can’t I just tell my girl how much I love her and want to see her do well today?” She then smiles, knowing not to take any moment for granted. There’d be times next year where she’d be wishing for moments like this when they were traveling to different places.

“Well just cross your fingers that I remember what I learned yesterday, okay?” He holds up his hand, crossing his fingers with a smile.

“I’ll do it if it makes you feel better, but I know that I don’t have to. I believe in you more than you realize.” They then head out of the trailer together, making their way out to pit road with a couple people in toe, all eyes watching those around them.

The popularity from her father had carried on to her, with fans asking for autographs the entire way. She takes her time, signing a couple as they walk together, with Chase also joining in the signing.

“When are you going to come back racing?” “How are you doing?” “Are you ever going to race again?”

Chase could hear the numerous questions along the way, though simply kept signing. He knew if he started to answer that he’d get stuck there with a demand for more answers.

Besides, there was no straight-up answer to the questions asked. He hadn’t decided on a time to come back, and he wasn’t about to bare his soul to them with everything on his mind. He hated to deny them answers and keep quiet, but it was the only way to go about this.

“Chase!!” A female scream rings out, with a hand reaching out and grabbing his arm. “Chase oh Chase, when are you coming back? I miss seeing you every week. I am big fan. I just want to see you race again. When are you racing again?” Chase takes a deep breath, trying to remain as calm as possible as he feels his heart rate rise in being cornered by this fan. He kept reminding himself that she was only doing this probably out of her worry.

“I’m going to come back racing when I am ready,” Chase answers in a calm matter as he looks into her eyes. “I don’t know when that is.  Now, can you please let go of my arm, ma’am?” He feels her grip loosen bit by bit, as she finally lets go fully, pulling her hand back to her side of the fence. Chase takes a calming deep breath, glad that he had cooled down the situation. “Thank you. I appreciate your co-operation.” He then keeps walking as Alyssa wraps her good arm around him, placing his marker back in his pocket.

“Take care of her as that was uncalled for,” the PR rep tells security before catching up with the pair.

Chase and Alyssa walk out to pit road in silence, Alyssa still firmly holding him close to her, before stopping in her stall for the session. She immediately looks at him, turning herself so she’s facing him square.  She could tell that he froze up a little, and could tell the nerves in his voice earlier. It wasn’t hard to forget about what had happened just a week prior, either.

“I’m fine,” he tells her, seeing the worry written on her face as he leans in for a kiss. “Yes, she scared me and yes, she caught me off guard. But I’m fine. Focus on qualifying, okay?” Alyssa simply shakes her head yes.

“I love you,” she tells him, stealing a quick kiss before letting go and walking to the car. She wasn’t 100% sure on his answer, but knew his reason for even keel regardless – he wanted her to concentrate on the task at hand. Furthermore, she also knew of his technique in avoiding discussion. Resting her hands on the roof of the car, taking a quick glance back at him, her mind refreshed back to the conversation with Regan. “Be there to support him, stand by him, hug him, let him cry, and let him rant. It’ll be okay…”

“Ready to go?” Adam Jordan asks as he walks over to her. Alyssa takes one final deep breath, trying her best to place the whole incident out of mind before looking at the interior mechanic and shaking her head yes.  “Good luck this weekend.”

“Thank you Adam.”

Throughout the qualifying session, Chase’s eyes locked on the screen in their pits, double-checking her position on the chart.  He knew they had the speed based on practice, so it was just about laying down a solid lap in each round.

The first round went clean as a whistle, no issues at all, with her easily transferring to the Round of 12. She then laid down another solid lap in that round, placing herself fifth on the grid when it was said and done.

“Not bad for someone that was freaking out yesterday,” Kevin Meendering comments, causing Chase to jump a little from his spot. Kevin immediately freezes, facing him. “Woah, are you okay?”  Chase lets out a sigh, taking a couple calming deep breaths as he looks at the crew chief. He should’ve known it was just one of the guys.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he answers simply as Kevin keeps his eyes locked on him.

“I just spooked you….” Chase knew he wasn’t going to get anywhere without an explanation.

“I had a weird encounter with a fan that caught me off-guard. Let’s just say I haven’t calmed down all the way from that, yet, and I didn’t realize it was you. Sorry.”

“It’s okay, no worries. As long as you’re fine, then I’m fine.” Kevin then walks away, giving Alyssa a pat on the shoulder as they walk past each other. “Nice qualifying effort, princess.”

“Thanks Kevin,” she replies, keeping her eyes focused on Chase the entire time as she continues making her way over to him. She had seen the discussion with Kevin. She knew that wasn’t supposed to push the boundaries with Chase as that’d set him off and make him uncomfortable, but she couldn’t go forward with the rest of her day without saying another word. “Hey, I know she spooked you earlier. I know it got you frazzled and probably spunked your anxiety level a bit. If you need to talk about it, I’m willing to listen – no matter what. I can help you while focusing on what I have to do today.” Chase looks in her eyes, shaking his head in acceptance.

“I know,” he replies. “But I’m fine. I just needed to calm down, relax, and remind myself everything is okay. Besides, she was just an overzealous fan.” Alyssa smiles as she wraps her arm around him.

“Well let me assure you that I will protect you from any crazy fans that come after you because boy, you’re stuck with me.” He then laughs as he wraps his arms around her.

“I have no problem with that at all.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 48: Morning

Wednesday morning

Bill walks into the kitchen, stopping for a minute as he takes a sniff and looks around. He then looks on surprised as he sees Chase at the stove.

“My son is a cook?” He questions out loud as Chase glances back at him, smiling before focusing back to the food.

“I’m no gourmet chef, but I know how to cook a couple things dad – like breakfast,” he answers as Bill takes a seat at the table.

“I’m impressed.” Chase rolls his eyes as he flips the bacon over. “So Cindy said you woke up last night with a nightmare.” Chase glances back as he lets out a sigh.

“And of course mommy would continue to be overly concerned with me and tell you that, huh?” Bill just shrugs his shoulders. “Look, I told her the truth. I’ve had a couple nightmares, but I’m fine. I’m dealing with them slowly, finding ways to get back to sleep quickly. Give me a bit more time and you won’t hear about it.” Bill sat there impressed as it didn’t sound like the same young man who avoided stuff like this always. However, he understood the change based on their conversation the night before.

“I trust you. Hence why I’m calmed her worries, but assured her I’d ask incase.” Chase smiles as he focuses back to breakfast.

“So what’s your plan today?” Bill glances around, not having thought it through as they weren’t  supposed to have been in North Carolina at this time. However, it was welcome right now.

“I was going to stop by and say hi to Dale and Marie as we haven’t seen them in awhile, and then probably go see Jeff and Rick as you can’t stop by without saying hi or else they both kick our asses. I know there are a couple others that Cindy wants to see, and I have some more – so we’re basically making our rounds today and then heading out tonight. Why?” Chase really didn’t have a real reason for asking, except curiosity.

“I was just curious, that’s all.” Chase keeps himself focused on the breakfast as he watches the ladies both enter the kitchen, giving them a quick smile.

“You raised the boy right, Cindy,” Alyssa comments as she gives Chase a quick kiss before walking over to the cupboard and getting some glasses out.

“I didn’t teach him how to cook breakfast,” Cindy says as she sits down at the table.

“That was Ryan’s doing, actually, after annoyance on his part in how I’d never help out,” Chase states, catching everybody off-guard. “His lessons have paid off – just ask Alyssa.”

“You can trust his cooking,” Alyssa assures them. “He hasn’t poisoned me yet.”

The group went through breakfast easily – and without issue as yes, Chase’s cooking was good. Everybody then got ready for the day as Alyssa headed to the shop to check in with the guys, while Bill & Cindy kicked off their trip around town. Chase had thought about going with Alyssa, but had another idea instead.

Once they had left, he makes the short walk across Dale’s property to Dale’s house, walking up the steps and knocking on the door.

“Hey Chase,” he hears as Dale opens the door with a smile. He moves back, easily allowing Chase to enter without a problem. It was common for Chase to come over and visit often.

“Is Marie around by chance?” Chase asks as Dale looks on confused. It was normally him that Chase would look for, or else Robby for some crazy fun in the backyard with him and Alyssa.

“She’s actually out on a couple errands right now because we forgot to grab some things.” Chase lets out a sigh at that busted his plan. He knew he had to keep making headway on his emotions, and talking about certain aspects of what his mind was thinking as he could.  He had made the decision to tackle the idea of blame and figured Marie would be the perfect person, considering she blamed herself for months as it started with her family.  “What’s up Chase?”

“I was hoping I could talk to her about something, actually.” Dale found himself even more caught off-guard, wondering if it had to do with what happened or his daughter. Perhaps even a bit of worry drifted into the picture.

“Everything is okay, right? I mean, there’s nothing that I need to worr-”

“It’s fine, Dale – trust me. If something was going on with Alyssa, myself or somebody else, I’d tell you straight up. You know I don’t keep secrets like that, right?” Dale shakes his head yes, feeling relief inside. While he knew Chase wouldn’t keep secrets, the spoken relief felt better. “I’m trying to work through everything that happened by talking to different people that I feel it relates to and can speak up to about. I’ve talked to Tony, Regan, my parents, Alyssa. I just felt this would best be discussed with Marie.”

“What exactly do you mean? Perhaps I could help you out…” Chase thought about it, and understood how Dale could perhaps offer some perspective. He remembered how Dale blamed himself for months over what happened to him, and how that played a role in things down the road.

“I appreciate the offer, but this is something I’d rather save and talk to Marie about, actually. I mean, it just feels right.” Dale wanted to push the issue, knowing how Chase held things in and knowing the re-cautions that produced. However, he wanted to give him respect – just in case Chase needed to turn to him later on.

“That’s fine as I understand. Listen, just know if you do want to talk about something, you just have to let me know and I can hear you out – as always.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. That thought hadn’t waved from his mind, ever. “By the way, how is my daughter handling things, if you can elaborate?”

“She’s starting to talk to people, Dale. I’ve talked with her a bit, but I know she’s talked to a couple people actually. Just last night she had a long conversation with my mom.” Dale shook his head, having seen the car pull up last night.

“I thought I saw Bill and Cindy….” Chase smiles.

“Yeah, mom was worried about me and my emotions so they made a surprise trip to see how I was doing. Actually, I’m thankful they did as I had a good conversation with my dad about some things, and then had one with my mom after Alyssa and her talked. To be honest, Dale, I think my mom helped her more than anything as she got a lot out on the table.” Dale was surprised as he didn’t know of Alyssa and Cindy being close, and remembered Cindy’s initial reservations about Alyssa and Chase together. However, he could see how Alyssa may find Cindy as someone to confide in.

“Your mother may be tough as nails at times, but she has this really sweet caring side and I think that’s what Alyssa reached out for there. I’m glad that she was able to help her, though.”

“So am I. Listen, I’m going to get going as I’ve got some places to be today. When Marie gets in, let her know I stopped by.”  Dale shakes his head, accepting.

“Will do. Remember – door is always open.” Chase smiles as he gives a wave, heading out as Dale leans back against the door way.

“Dad, is everything okay?” Dale hears, and glances towards Elsa. He shakes his head yes as he watches her eyes focus on him. “It’s just I heard Chase wanted to talk to mom about something, and then you guys mentioned Alyssa and…..You’re not lying, are you?”  Dale shakes his head no.

“I can assure you that nothing is going to happen and they’re okay,” Dale starts as he looks her in the eyes. “However, with what they went through, it was very traumatic and it brings up a lot of emotions.  They’ve got some things that are bothering them right now – from the pain, to the fear, to everything that comes with it. When you’re going through that, it helps to talk to someone. That’s why Chase wanted to see Marie, and that’s why he was mentioning how Alyssa has been taking steps, including a conversation with Cindy.”  Elsa shakes her head, accepting, as she looks out the doorway with her dad.

“I just want my sister back that I grew up loving. I don’t want things to change….” Dale puts an arm on her shoulder.

“Alyssa hasn’t changed one bit in regards to the relationship you have, or how she is, sweetheart. She’s just a little more aware of things, and having to change her daily routine a little.  Don’t worry – she’ll still annoy you as much as ever.” Elsa rolls her eyes as she looks at her dad.

“And I can annoy her, too?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“You can give her the same crap as always that she’d shoot you for, but just know to balance it with everything, okay?” Elsa shakes her head yes as she wraps her arm around Dale. “I love you, Daddy.”

“I love you too, kiddo.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 47: Sleepless Nights

Tuesday Night

 

Chase let out a sigh as he kicked the blankets that covered him off, slipping out of bed quietly and out of the room. He closes the door ever so slightly, before tip toeing down the stairs.

He walks into the kitchen, opening the fridge and pouring himself a glass of milk. Sipping on it, he leans back against the fridge shaking his head.

Why was he back here again?

He thought he had left nightmares and these sleepless nights behind a long time ago. He had found ways to combat them to the side, avoid having them whether through falling asleep with a happy thought, cuddles, or some other strategy for the time. Though against everything, there he stood in the kitchen with the familiar glass of milk.

Continuing to sip on it, he knew it’d help him calm down enough so he could go back up the stairs, lay down and fall asleep without another thought. For now, it was a good clenser to forget what he was thinking.

“I thought I heard someone up,” he hears and looks up from his glass at his mom. It figured that she’d catch him up, as she used to always catch him anyway. “Can’t sleep?” He shakes his head no.

“Nightmares, again,” he tells her, rather than trying to hide it as he had done plenty of other times. He was learning slowly that it was easier to talk about it rather than hold it in.

“Baby…” He then takes another sip, before sitting the glass in sink.

“Listen, go back to bed with dad. I’m fine. I just need a couple minutes and then I can go back up and go to sleep easily.” She then looks at him with a glance of surprise as he turns to face her. “Mom, I’m serio-”

“And I know what you’re like with these, remember? Or have you forgotten the nights I held you on the couch here? Or in the hospital? Or caught you here and talked with you?” He then lets out a sigh as he glances away from her. So much for being totally honest and saying everything.

“I’d rather not discuss everything no-”

“The only way to deal with it is by talking about it, and you know that.” She then walks over to him. “Listen, I know it’s hard and it’s easier to avoid – but how does that help you? I thought we were in agreement that you were dealing with this slowly.” He shakes his head, remembering those words he spoke earlier in the evening.

“I’ve been having these once and a while, not in a strict pattern or that often. However, they pop up here and there. I get up, find a way to calm myself back down, and I can get back to sleep no problem. It’s just part of the healing process, Mom. I can handle it.” He then goes to walk by her and head back upstairs, though she puts his arm out to stop him.

“What are they about, Chase?” He then looks at her, wishing they weren’t having this discussion.

“Mostly about what happened with Randy and Kassandra, to be honest. I keep re-envisioning what happened there.” He then glances down, wishing the pictures weren’t in his mind as he’d do anything to forget. “I’ve scared the crap out of myself in thinking that Randy’s electrocution plan killed Alyssa, and I’ve scared the crap out of my own fears in Kassandra fully going through with the anything offer. What if that had happened?” Cindy crosses her arms as she lets her guard down on him a little, seeing they’re getting somewhere.

“What have we said about ‘what if’?” Chase lets out a sigh, having heard that answer from too many people to count.

“Mom, I know what we’ve said and it doesn’t bother me as much outside of my sleeping. It’s just convincing my sleeping conscious that it didn’t happen and to be thankful things worked out as they did. That’ll take time, though.” Cindy shakes her head, understanding that. It didn’t make her feel better about things.

“I just hate that you have to go through this…” He reaches out and puts his hand on her shoulder.

“I hate it too, but it’s life – it happened, and now I have to deal with it. I’m a big boy. I can handle it, Mom. You don’t need to worry about me. Just focus on getting yourself some sleep tonight, okay?” He then gives her a kiss on the cheek before making his way back up the stairs.

He quietly makes his way back into the room, climbing back under the blanket as he wraps his arm around Alyssa once again. He kisses her shoulder, before letting out a sigh and closing his eyes.

He just had to remember that she was here with him always and things had worked out. He had to remind himself to not picture the thought of being without her – as he didn’t know what he’d do if that happened.

After clearing out his mind of the thoughts – thinking of positives in their future together, along with some fun moments between them through the years, he closes his eyes and goes back to sleep with ease.