Cabin Fears – Chapter 62: Building Belief

Friday at Darlington Raceway

The practice went solidly for Alyssa as she wasn’t the quickest, but she wasn’t that far off from where they wanted to be, posting the 14th quickest time for the session. More importantly, she was pleased with the handling of the car.

Though after finishing up her discussion with Kevin, she couldn’t help but find her eyes focused on Chase, wondering what was going through his mind. She saw his emotions before the practice started, and how he left for some time to himself prior to the session.

So immediately after being released from their post-practice debrief, she made her way over to Chase, wrapping her arms around his waist.

“Are you okay?” She asks as she leans her head against his back.

“I told you that you didn’t need to worr-” He starts.

“I care about you, Chas-”

“You have a race to focus on. If I need someone, I have a bunch of others that I can turn to, if need be.” She lets out a sigh as she rubs his sides.

“I know that you do, but sometimes that can be harder than you think to talk to them versus talking to me. Sure, it’s a busy weekend for me. But I always have time to spend with you, and hear you out. So if you have something on your mind, you can tell me.” He lets out a sigh as they quickly glance at each other. “I saw you leave the garage before the practice started. I could tell something was up before then, hence the concern then. Tell me, please….”

“I just have a lot on my mind, and basically re-visiting that time brought it full circle in my mind.” She rubs his shoulders, now feeling perhaps it was the wrong time to bring out the paint scheme – even if it held a lot of special meaning. Their first ever victory lane photo together was taken at this win.

“I didn’t mean to do tha-”

“It’s fine.” He then turns to face her. “You don’t have to blame yourself or apologize for how I am feeling. It may be a good thing, actually. It let me ponder how things were then, and how they’ve changed since. It made me reflect on how I’ve changed as a person, what I’ve been through, and perhaps find who I want to be.” He then glances down, taking a deep breath, before looking back at her. “I want to get back to who I was a couple years ago, when I believed that everything we’ve been through would be behind me. I want to get back to having that fun I was having. I want to get back to just living it up. I want to get back to being focused on racing and doing what I can, but having those fun crazy moments with friends – like you.” She chuckles, remembering some of those times.

“Including the late nights in the treehouse?” He immediately shakes his head no as she laughs. “Really? No horror movies?”

“I’ve had enough experience, thank you.” She couldn’t help but nod in agreement after her own run with terror. “But yes, moments like those. I want to get back to being able to sleep and not having to worry about that nightmare. I want to be able to wrap my arms around everything, and feel total control. My little glance back in my mind through time gave me the clarity to see all that, realize what I wanted, and focus on fighting for that.” It brought a smile to her face to hear the encouragement in his voice, especially with how they started the week.

“I’ve got your back no matter what, and I vow to help you.”  He nods his head, knowing there was no questioning that.

“I know you have my back. I know Dale has my back. But what’s the most important thing? Believing in myself, even in my lowest moments, that I can crawl out of that hole. Tony talked about remembering that. I didn’t say much then, but I guess I was still questioning myself – letting the anxiety speak more than I should. But reminding me of this, being here, it gave me that answer that I needed. So rather than apologizing for bringing that scheme out of hiding, I say thank you.” An even bigger smile formed.

“Hopefully I can fulfill the rightfulness of bringing it back in familiar style.” He smiled, knowing that’d be a great feeling after the disappointment last week.

“Just focus on doing your best, and believe. You can do this. I know you can.” She smiles as she wraps her arms back around him firmly. He lets out a sigh as he rubs her back. “Alyssa….”

“Everything that’s happened this week scared me more than I admitted. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do.” She then glances up at him. “But hearing this positivity from you, it’s beautiful.”

“I’m going to have my moments. I know I’m not through every emotion that’s rattling in my mind. Randy is still playing his tricks with me even though he’s locked up due to his mazes of mystery. I’m still careful in doings due to fear of something happening – hence why I haven’t ventured off far from here. I’m sure I’m going to slip up and probably flip on you, unintentionally, out of my own frustration. But you’re right – I’m positive about your chances, and I’m positive that I’ll figure this out.”

“I know you will…” She then kisses his lips. “So what do you say we go do some exploring?” He nods his head in agreement as they accept each other’s hands, walking out of the stall together.

As they headed out together, Marie sat by the hauler with Dale, eyes focused on them with intent staring.

“Are you sure it’s best for him to be here this weekend?” Marie questions, catching Dale’s attention as he looks over.

“He couldn’t stand to be at home away from Aly-” He starts.

“I mean, with everything that happened and you told me.” Dale lets out a sigh, having his own reservations. He remembered calling Regan with a call of concern, wondering if they should put some plan in motion. However, Regan convinced him that Chase will find his way and the best way to give him space was let him to do it how he wanted. If they continue to pressure, it could backfire.

“So far, it seems to be working out well. He seems to be in the perfect positive attitude about things with smiles between them. I don’t think we’ll have any problems.” Marie had hesitation, though, based on previous weekends.

“What about the incident that happened at Bristol? What about the fan incident, too?” Dale remembered those, being the reason he had called Regan.

“He knows what happened. He’s taking the steps to make sure they don’t repeat themselves while he figures out what he needs to in his mind. Hence no walks by himself, hence staying away from crowds, and hence staying grounded. With everything put together, I don’t think we need to worry.” He then glances over at Marie. “You haven’t bothered me about them for awhile now….”

“I can’t help it with hearing what happened and his thoughts. Their lives have been shattered, and trying to put the pieces back together….” She then pauses as she looks down. “We know what it’s like, Dale. We’ve seen that and we know how much it hurts. I remember finding you broken down that night through it. I remember when you found me sitting on the balcony another night. I don’t want to see my baby go through that….” Dale wraps an arm around her.

“I know, and I don’t want to see her go through that. But what saved us those times? We knew that we had something to run to, and we had each other. They need each other more than anything else right now. I know you’re worried about Chase and things, but she needs him more than our worry justifies – just like she helps keep him good. We need to believe that it’ll be fine, and give them the space, and let them do what they need to do to get through it – just like we did.” Marie knew he was right, no matter how hard it felt to do so.

“Why can’t we just sweep in and take away all the pain and questions?” Dale wondered the same thing sometimes.

“Because life is unfair in that way sometimes. But hey, admit it – if anybody can do it, it’s them.” Marie nods her head in agreement.

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

Friday, June 30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cabin Fears – Chapter 59: The Afterthought

Tuesday morning

 

Regan knocks on the door, glancing around. He had been over here too many times to count through the years – almost too much it seemed. However, he was willing to do whatever it took.

He watches the door open, immediately smiling as he sees Marie standing there. She backs up, easily letting him inside as she was expecting him.

“Dale is out back with Tony,” she states simply as he nods his head.

He makes his way through the house, giving Robby and Elsa a quick wave along the way. He takes a deep breath as he opens the door, walking out onto the porch as he catches the boy’s attention.

“How are you?” Dale questions as Regan takes his seat with the group.

“I’m alright,” he answers. “The bigger question is how you are.” Dale knew the answer to the question was simple.

“I’m fine; that’s not why we’re here, Regan.” Regan shook his head, knowing exactly why Dale had called them. “So as I told you both on the phone, he had a bit of an episode yesterday. He snapped at Alyssa, and then I had a good discussion with him. A lot of mixture of thoughts from anger to frustration to blame to….well, the usual that he always get with Randy. But it was heightened more than I’ve ever seen it. That’s when I suggested he go to see Eric and he did, and Eric gave him a mild anxiety drug till he figures it out.”

“Glad that he finally listened to that advice,” Tony comments, remembering his discussions with Chase. “I told him that he should seek out help if he needs it. I mean, I know the feeling…”

“So do I,” Dale says, remembering the time he looked towards help after his experience with Marie’s family. “From what I get, this isn’t the first time he’s almost snapped, is it?” Regan shakes his head no, remembering their discussion at Bristol. “I don’t want to get overly crazy but we all agreed that we’d watch out for both him and Alyssa because we care. I think Alyssa is handling it slowly and right, as I know she’s taking steps in talking to people and getting her feelings out there.”

“She talked with me twice about things, actually,” Regan announces, remembering their discussions clearly. He remembered her concerns expressed about Chase.

“But what about Chase, guys? Should we be more concerned than we are? I mean, we’re trying to give him space and let him handle as he may because yes, he is taking steps slowly. But what if this is worse than that?” Regan thought back through the years, remembering his late night confessions with Chase and seeing all the signs of breakdown with him. He found himself comparing them to now.

“I think the emotions are worse, but I think we’re still handling it accordingly. He is slowly taking steps and he’s accepting advice when it is given to him. He’s doing more than he did before. If we keep seeing that, I’m going to lay off and let him do this the way that he wants. However, if we start backtracking with nothing done, you can hit the panic button and I’ll be there with you.”

“I haven’t been around him in other times like you both have,” Tony starts. “So I don’t know what he gets like. However, hearing the words that he wants to give up at times and he’s right at his edge, that’s concerning. If you’re going to get better, you have to believe in yourself without a shadow of doubt and focus on the steps to improving. If you have any doubt, where’s the effort coming from?” Dale and Regan both shook their heads, understanding what Tony was saying.

“I think that was the anxiety talking though,” Regan comments. “That’s why I feel what Dale did in making him go see Eric for a mild-anxiety drug will help keep that at bay as he works through the rest. Once he comes at peace with what happened, he typically stops panicing and worrying. So I think we let him get through it, and then see where he stands with regards to the other.”

“And what If our wait and see approach doesn’t pan out?” Dale didn’t want to think about that. He knew the previous two runaway activities by Chase had gone totally wrong.

“Let’s just not picture that, plea-” Dale pleads.

“It’s a possibility, and something you should consider if you’re going to do what you’re doing,” Tony cuts him off. “I know you hate the thought, but come on Dale…” Dale lets out a sigh as he looks out to the field.

“It’s not going to come to that, Tony,” Regan says as Tony looks over at him. “I’ve helped him through everything in the past. I know how he is. It won’t come to that. We just have to make sure he keeps making progress, slowly, whatever that may be. Keep making sure that he’s talking to people, working through his thoughts. If that happens, we’ll be fine.”

“100%?” Regan shakes his head yes, believing his words fully. He always knew to give Chase more credit than perhaps others would because he had seen what he’d been through.

“Alright, fine. But just promise me that you’ll keep watch and make sure it doesn’t go further.”

“100%,” Regan and Dale say together without a shadow of doubt.

While the boys were talking on the back porch, Alyssa had made her way over and met with Marie in the living room.

She remembered her own words last night of not wanting to make conversation. She remembered her own thoughts of avoiding what was going on. However, in the same thought, she was pushing Chase to talk about what was going on with him. So it was only fair that she actually did something instead of doing nothing.

“So what do you want to talk about?” Marie questions as Alyssa takes a deep breath.

“I’m having my nightmares again,” she confesses as Marie lets out a sigh. She hated the thought of her daughter suffering from anything.

“Well, that’s understandable with what you went through.” Alyssa looks down, remembering everything clearly. She could think through the trail of events without panicing now, thanks to careful conversation with some people.

“I’ve talked through that. I’ve handled that. I can look back at that and not worry a single bit. I talked to Regan, Ella, and a couple others. I’ve come to grips with what happened. I get that I couldn’t had done anything different and it is what it is. There’s no doubt there.” Marie was proud of the progress her daughter had made, knowing how much that meant to her. However, she was still concerned.

“But the nightmares….” Alyssa looks over at her mom, taking a deep breath.

“There’s nights that I close my eyes, and I see an assortment of scary images. Some of them are trying to kill me, or I’m watching someone I love be killed. There’s pain other nights. There’s also repeats of a plane crashing, or images of what happened like a movie.” Marie lets out a sigh as she reaches over, rubbing her daughter’s back.

“The last time you had these, it helped to talk through each nightmare that you were having. Have you done that, yet?” Alyssa shakes her head no. “Do you want to do that this afternoon?” While she loved her mom, she was never good at breaking everything like that down with her.

“I’d prefer to not do that with you, actually. It’s just…..I can’t explain it….I can’t tal-”

“It doesn’t come easily because you’re more comfortable with your father or Chase?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. “That’s fine, sweetheart. You have nothing to worry and I’m not offended. I understand being closer to someone else more. So, have you talked to Chase at all?”

“I admitted to them, but didn’t push the topic any further. With everything that’s going on for him right now, I didn’t want to make those thoughts worse.” Marie shakes her head, understanding.

“That’s fine, sweetheart. Just remember that you need to take care of yourself. So before sooner than later, you need to have that necessary discussion. Whether it’s with Chase, or if you feel that’s not ready then with your father or someone else. You need to work through this as it’s not healthy and we know that you need your sleep. You got a busy schedule coming up….” Alyssa knew that was for certain with plans to race for the championship and win it.

“I know. That’s why I’m trying to figure out the best thing to do….” Marie gives her daughter a pat on the back.

“You’ll figure it out – you always do. Keep believing in yourself; everything will be fine.”

Moving Forward – Chapter 47: The Surprise

Marie grabs her bag, smiling as she walks through the airport, clasping Elsa in her arms with Alyssa in toe.

While it was nice to head home and she took pride in her work, there was nothing like returning home to where she lived now and reuniting with Dale. Besides, she still had some wedding plans to finalize.

“Daddy!!” Alyssa then lets out, running off from Marie as she goes to protest, though immediately smiles as she sees Dale standing there, leaning against the car. “I missed you!”

“I missed you too,” Dale replies as he holds her tightly in his arms, kneeling down to her level. “Did you have fun?” She shakes her head yes.

“I got to play in the garden, played with Lia and Nazelle, baked cookies and a big painting!” He then stands up, smiling as he takes Elsa from her hands.

“You didn’t have to meet me here,” Marie tells him as Dale kisses Elsa’s forehead. “I would’ve just got a ride back to the house.” He then looks over at her.

“I’ve been driving myself crazy missing you, and couldn’t bare to wait a minute longer,” he confesses with a smile. “Besides, I wanted to see my girls….” He then tickles Elsa’s belly, causing her to laugh as he just laughs in response.

“I just figured that you’d be busy today.” He then looks back over at her.

“I always have time for us, you more specifically.” He then leans in and kisses her lips. “And I’ve missed those…” She could only lick her own lips in agreement.

“Chase!!” Alyssa then lets out as she sees Chase heading over to them, running up to him for a hug.

“Chase?!?” Marie questions, glancing between Chase and Dale.

“Hey Alyssa,” Chase says as he gives her a big hug, before taking Elsa out of Dale’s arms. Dale gives him a simple nod, before pulling Marie close to him.

“Considering how much I’ve missed you, I figured we could use some time together,” he tells her, slipping his hand around her, firmly planted on her butt. “Besides, you’ve been busy with your responsibilities and planning the wedding that you need a break. Chase is going to watch the girls, while we have a night to ourselves.”

“We get to spend the night with you?!?” Alyssa questions and Chase shakes his head yes. “That’s awesome!” Chase could only look over at the pair of adults, seeing their eyes locked together. He could only bet how many minutes till they were wrapped in each other’s arms, reunited. There may be a third kid running around before long.

“That sounds like a good idea,” Marie gives in.

“Well, you both better get started on your fun,” Chase states. Everybody trades goodbyes, with Chase grabbing the girls’ stuff and heading off with them.

“My lady…” Dale says as he holds open the door, with a smile.

“My darling,” she replies, giving him a quick kiss before climbing in the car. He then closes the door, walking around to the other side, set for a fun night.

Leaving the airport, the pair were caught in heavy traffic, resulting in steady conversation about her latest trip to Pitronia and the happenings. It also saw them focus their eyes on each other at times, both biting their lips as thoughts fluttered through their minds.

“So what’s the plan for tonight, superstar?” Marie questions as she reaches over, placing her hand on his leg.

“I was thinking we’d go out for dinner, and then head back and spend a quiet night together,” he answers as he looks over into her eyes. “Unless you want to do something else….”

“That sounds like such a good idea. It’s just….” She lets her hand run up his leg to his crotch, placing lightly. “I’ve missed you so much…” He bit his lip, resisting the urge to let out a moan feeling her hand pressing against his package.

“We could skip dinner and head for desert?” She slips her hand underneath the rim of his jeans, forcing her hand down beneath the fabric of his underwear.

“I wouldn’t want to ruin your precious plans or spoil your appetite…” He bites his lip even harder, feeling her rub his package, wishing the traffic would move faster than it was.

“I think you’d be satisfying it more than…..oh man….” She then smiles, stroking him lightly as she locks eyes with his.

“Problem?” He then looks over at her and shakes his head no, leaning in for a kiss before focusing his eyes back on the road. “I can’t tell you how much I missed you…”

“This drive is way too long.” She then laughs as he takes a turn up at the next street, heading down the long alleyway. She releases him from her grasp, placing her hand on his on the shifter, eyes looking at each other briefly and locking, before his eyes returned to the road before them.

“Where are we going?” He just smiles as he takes another turn, pulling it behind the race shop, before reutnring the glance.

“I couldn’t wait. I figured here, behind the shop, we’d have some privacy.” He then flips the key off, turning to face her, leaning in and kissing her lips, as he pulls her close to him.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 58: “Alyssa’s Home!”

Monday evening

 

Alyssa walks into the house, slipping off her shoes as he glances into the living room.

An immediate smile formed on her face as she saw her father bonding with Robby, joking about the latest game that they were playing. She walks in quietly, glancing at the screen as she had to laugh at Robby beating him.

She knew that her dad was still there as he had texted her shortly after Chase got home. He sent her a quick update, which had put her heart at ease after the morning events and text from her dad then.

“Alyssa’s home!” Robby lets out, noticing his sister as Dale pauses the game, looking over at his daughter.

“How long have you been standing there?” He questions as she shrugs her shoulders. “How was your day?”

“Oh, so we’re going to be like the perfect home greeter with the questions?” She teases as he just shrugs his shoulders. “Actually, it was pretty good. We had a lot of positives to take from the weekend, and meetings went smoothly for once.”

“Did you smack Kevin for running you out of gas?” Robby questions, causing a shocked expression from both Dale and Alyssa. “That’s what Mommy said to do.”

“As much as it sucked, those things sometimes happen and Kevin mostly gets it right so we’ll let this one slide,” Alyssa reasons as she glances around the house. “Where’s Chase?” Robby points to the stairs.

“He was supposed to go upstairs and have a nap because he was so tired from the past couple nights,” Dale starts as Alyssa shakes her head, understanding. She couldn’t complain based on everything. “I went upstairs about an hour after he went up and he wasn’t in the bedsroom. Instead, he’s actually in the spare bedsroom curled up with your dog.” Alyssa then looks on surprised.

“Really?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“I grabbed a blanket and threw it over him. Hey, sometimes a dog can offer that comfort you need.” Alyssa shakes her head, understanding, but still caught off-guard.

“It’s just he’s not much of a cuddler…..”

“Maybe he knew Chase needed a cuddle.” Alyssa couldn’t reason it herself, but it didn’t bother her. “Anyways, I will go because he said that he didn’t want me sticking around after you got home. Text me if either of you need anything.” Dale then walks over, wrapping an arm around her. “I love you, and everything will be okay.”

“I know. I love you, Dad, and thank you.” She then gives Robby a hug, roughing up hair a little before watching the pair head out.

After closing the front door, she heads to the kitchen, glancing in the fridge with a smile. She had an idea for that night.

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

Chase comes down the stairs, stopping as he reaches the bottom, smiling at the smell. He then makes his way into the kitchen, the smile remaining as he saw Alyssa checking on the pasta.

“That smells so good,” he comments, causing her to look over.

“Well, well someone is up,” she replies with a smile of her own. She then walks over, wrapping her arm around him, and giving him a kiss before returning back to the stove. “Sleep well?”

“I did, actually.” He then sits at the counter. “Hey, if I scared you this morning, I’m sorry…” She then turns around to face him.

“It caught me right off-guard, Chase, but I understand. It’s okay. You don’t need to worry. I’m just glad that you talked it out with my dad, and went to see Eric. As long as you’re taking baby steps, that’s what matters.” Chase had to smile at the comment, having heard the same from Dale just earlier that day. “So, how’d you end up with my dog?”

“I had to go to the bathroom so I went and then as I walking back, I noticed that he had pulled out one of the rabbit stuffed animals he isn’t allowed again. So I snagged it back, put it up. I then laid down to pet him for a bit because I felt bad for taking it off of him, and I guess I fell asleep.” She then smiles, as it was a suitable explanation.

“I’m surprised he cuddled because that’s not like him, but I guess he figured you needed it.”

“You know you’re spoiling me by making this…” She then smiles as she places a plate of chicken parmesan in front of him, handing over the cheese next.

“I figured you could have your favorite to make you feel better.” She then gets her plate for herself, sitting down beside him.

“Thank you so much. I mean, I hate you pushing yourself with everyth-”

“Just because I only got one hand that I can use doesn’t mean that you need to play that damn sympathy card with me, Elliott. I can handle it.” He freezes upon her reaction, taking a deep breath of his own. He knew it was a touchy subject with her and tried to avoid normally.

The pair sit together eating dinner, lightly discussing the happenings of his day, followed by what happened at the shop for her.  Once they were both done, Chase takes the plates, placing them in the sink and washing them off. He then lets out a yawn as he places the plates in the dishwasher.

“Still tired?” Alyssa questions as she shows up behind him, wrapping an arm around him.

“A little, actually,” he answers as he turns around to face her.

“Well why don’t we forget about everything else for tonight, go upstairs, put on a movie and lay together watching it? That way you can catch up on some sleep.” He then runs his fingers through his hair.

“It’s only like 8, and you probably have something else you want to do, and it’s way earl-”

“You’re tired, and you need to get some rest. You can’t be walking around half asleep. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt for me to get some extra sleep either.” She then takes a pause, careful deep breath, as her eyes focus on his. “I know when you’ve been not sleeping at night because I’ve been waking up a couple times with nightmares.”

“Again?” She shakes her head yes. “Alyssa, I….”

“You don’t need to start on explanation or whatever. We all know why. Look, just like you’re figuring this out, I’ll figure that out with due time. I’m getting sleep when I can and handling things when I can – take the conversation with Regan on the way home. Don’t worry – I’ll be fine.”  He lets out a sigh, knowing that he couldn’t just do that. She had been there for him all morning.

“You tell me not to worry, but yet you spend all this time worrying about me and cooking me dinner. Remember – it goes both ways.” She knew that, as she lets out a sigh.

“Look, I don’t want to discuss it right now, okay? I’d rather just focus on getting some rest and then discuss it when I can. And don’t worry, I won’t put it off or do something stupid, okay?” He shakes his head yes.

The pair then let their fingers lace together, heading up the stairs with the dog closely following behind.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 57: “We’re going to see Chase…”

Dale smiled as he watched the car pull up to the house. He then glanced at Robby, before looking back out the window. He knew he couldn’t just stay where he was without checking up on him, but also couldn’t leave Robby by himself.

“Robby, grab your stuff,” he states as Robby looks up. He had grown used to it with his parents’ busy schedule. The instruction was always simple – but he knew they were going somewhere. He packs everything up in his backpack, slinging it over his shoulder as he walks over to his dad.

“Where are we going?” He asks as Dale puts his running shoes.

“We’re going to see Chase.” A smile immediately forms on the young boy’s face.

“Can I play a game or two with him? Wait – I need to show him the new car I created.” Dale smile as he was glad that each of his kids had formed a solid friendship with Chase. But he also knew that right now was quite the right time.

“Actually, Chase and I need to have an adult conversation, and I can’t leave you home alone so you’re coming.”  Robby then looks up at his dad, puzzled.

“I’m eight years old. Why can’t I be home alone?” Dale lets out a sigh as he leads his son out of the house.

“Because I don’t quite trust you yet.” Robby then looks back at his dad even more puzzled. “Ask your sisters. They weren’t allowed to be home alone till they were 12, and fortunately for you, the same remains.” Robby then climbed in the UTV, watching his dad climb in the other seat and they head across the property.

“Why do adults have adult conversations?” Dale could only roll his eyes. He should be used to lots of questions from the kids now.

“Because adults need to talk about things that little ears can’t hear.” Robby rolls his eyes, wishing he was older already.

“Does Alyssa know what you guys are talking about?” Dale shakes his head yes. “Could I ask her?” Dale then stops instantly, looking over at Robby.

“Under no circumstances are you to ask Alyssa about what I and Chase are talking about, nor are you to pressure Chase about it.” Robby then looks on puzzled as Dale looks back forward, taking a deep breath. Perhaps that was a little too blunt. “You know that someone kidnapped both Alyssa and Chase, right?” Robby shakes his head yes.

“That’s why you warned me once again about not trusting strangers and the signs.” Dale shakes his head, remembering the discussion. He had sat both Elsa and Robby down shortly after Alyssa went missing out of his own fear.

“When something big like that happens, it takes a lot out of someone emotionally. It brings thoughts of fear, pain, anger, confusion. When you hear me or your mom worrying about your sister, that is what we’re talking about. It’s going to take her time, and Chase too for them to come to grips with everything that happened emotionally and be ready to move forward like nothing happened. It’s a touchy subject for them both, so hence why I’d just prefer that you don’t say anything, okay?” Robby shakes his head yes, accepting. “That’s my little man.”

Dale then continues the short drive over, parking out front of the house. The pair then walk up to the door together, with Dale knocking. Dale felt himself fidgeting, nervous as to Chase’s reaction, waiting for him to open the door.

He couldn’t wonder anymore as he watched the door open before him, causing him to look back up.

“Were you watching?” Chase questions, figuring in his mind that someone would be there when he got home.

“Yeah – because I was worried about you,” Dale answers. “And I wanted to see how you made out.” Chase glances down at Robby, giving him a small smile, before looking back up at Dale.

“I made out pretty good, actually.” Dale easily accepts, seeing the glance towards Robby in wanting to keep conversation at a minimum with him present. “Everybody out right now?”

“Alyssa is still at JRM, Elsa went out with Jenna and Alexis, and Marie is…well, as you know, out of the country on errands. So that leaves just me and Robby. I told him I had to come over for ‘adult conversation’ but couldn’t leave him alone.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. He knew that Dale and Marie weren’t the strictest parents, but they kept concerns about their kids at a certain level.

“Well why don’t you both come in, and Robby, you can head into the front room and play a game or two. I got a new dirt racing game that Kyle Larson said is awesome, and so far – I have to agree.” The eyes light up on the little boy.

“Can I try it?” Chase shakes his head yes as Robby hurries in the house and to the living room.

“Thanks…” Dale comments as he follows Chase through the house to the kitchen. “I wasn’t sure what to do with him but knew I had to come see you….” Chase glances back at Dale.

“Hey, he’s a good kid,” Chase starts. “Not a single problem.” Chase then opens the fridge, grabbing them each a drink as Dale notices the pill bottle sitting on the counter.

“Niravam?” Chase shakes his head yes as he looks over.

“How’d you know?” Dale sits down on the stool by the counter.

“That’s what I got. It’s a good, mild anxiety drug. It should work.” Chase shakes his head, accepting, as he leans back against the counter. “So, you said back there things went well….”

“You know why I said that there.” Dale shakes his head, understanding. “I did what you said. I explained things as best as I could and he agreed with what we’re saying. He also gave me some suggestions and ways to work through it. He then said I could come back anytime and discuss with him if I felt like it and the time was right.” It was progress, and that’s all Dale wanted to hear. It was better than where they stood that morning.

“That’s good. Did you guys talk about the details at all?” Chase looks down at the ground, shaking his head no.

“I couldn’t bring myself to do it….” Dale heard the regret in Chase’s voice, knowing how much he did push himself at times.

“Hey, that’s alright. You made progress, right? He at least knows where you are, and you’ve got those to start. It’s a start. One step at a time. That’s all you need to do.” Chase knew that Dale was right in those words.

“Look, as much as I don’t mind talking with you, I really need to get some sleep. I’m dead on my feet tired today after not sleeping the past couple of nights and with everythin-”

“Hey, that’s perfectly understandable.” Dale then stands up, pushing the stool in. “I can come by later and we can talk then, or whatev-”

“Actually, would you mind sticking around even if I go upstairs and sleep? I just don’t want to be by myself totally.” Dale shook his head, accepting with ease. He knew the feeling, and remembered the times that he hated being apart from Marie and alone himself.

“Absolutely. I’ll give that new game a try with Robby.” Chase chuckles as he glances in the room at Robby.

“Yeah, good luck with it. He seems to be mastered it already.” Chase then heads for the stairs, though stops and looks back at Dale. “Thank you, and feel free to go home when Alyssa gets here. I’ll be fine with it.” Dale shakes his head, easily accepting.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 56: Call for Help

It didn’t take long after receiving the text message for Dale to show up at the house, immediately facing Chase. Dale could see the tears in the young man’s eyes before him, combined with the emotions on his face. He could only wonder as to why the sudden urgency to come over.

“What’s going on?” Dale questions, breaking the silence as he enters the house, with Chase closing the door behind him.

“I snapped again….” Chase lets out quietly, causing Dale to spin around instantly. Since he had spotted Alyssa’s car leave the house not long ago, his stomach flip-flopped especially with the emotions on Chase’s face.

“Please tell me that you haven’t called my ass over here because she ran away….” Chase immediately shakes his head no.

“She caught it right away and she remembered what I told her – it’s not meant to be directed at her, but rather a matter of circumstance due to my own twisted feelings. She actually helped calm me back off my edge with some words of advice, and we talked it out. She then offered to stay but I told her to go to JRM and do her usual things.” An involuntary sigh of relief escaped Dale, glad that the pair had found a common ground. If Chase had said something otherwise, there was no telling what would’ve happened next.

“So you called me because you wanted to let me know or…..”

“I needed someone to talk to immediately before I completely flip and go insane.” Dale then looks on completely surprised, considering previous recent discussions had sounded like Chase was making slow, but steady progress and getting further off the edges of what happened.

“Why do you say that?” Chase hated to be repeating this once again – it felt like a movie replaying in his head of the previous three times. He had been through this before. Why couldn’t he get a grip on it and just move forward?

“I’m having so many thoughts right now, mix of everything, thanks to Randy and what happened. From confusion, to pain, to being purely upset, to anger – it’s just a mess of thoughts that I can’t seem to find any way to control. Psychological war fare is what I called it when I told Alyssa. It’s been there small since what happened, but it just seems to have grown and I’ve been handling it….but I can’t do this, Dale.” Dale  felt his stomach drop in the last couple of words, feeling lost as to what to say. He almost pulled his phone out after hearing those to dial Regan’s number, seeing as Regan had been the one Chase turned to the most. However, he fought back, taking a couple calming breaths of his own at the revelation. Admitting that it was tough was the first step, and admitting that he needed help for step two. Now it was just working through it, and they’d done it before.

“Have you done anything to help these feelings at all?” Chase rolled his eyes, remembering the suggestions from Regan and Tony.

“I’ve talked a little with Regan and Tony on that note, but it doesn’t seem to be relieving what I’m going through. They both suggested talking to Eric, as well.” Dale shook his head, figuring that was probably the second direction that he’d take should a text to Regan result in nothing. He had even thought about suggesting it himself, though held back for a second in remembering the reaction previously. Regan normally had better luck with that.

“I know it’s frustrating and I know you’re feeling like you’re in a mess – but remember, first step is to admit it and second step is to figure out the best way to get help. You’re working at both of those, and that’s great. I know it may not mean much to you right now, but it’s a start.” Dale then takes a deep breath, glancing down at the ground as he thought things through. “Everything you’re describing reminds me of something. Do you remember when I had that real bad concussion and I was out of the car for months?”

“How could I forget that? It scared the crap out of everybody wondering if you’d get better….” Dale shakes his head, remembering everybody’s reactions surrounding him.

“It sort of reminds me of what you’re saying right now in being confused, unsure of direction, stuck in what you’re going throu-”

“It’s not the same thing, Dale. You had a concussion. Mine is a psychological insanity iss-”

“They’re both mind field games, Chase.” Dale then looks up at him. “Listen, I know you’re probably going to hate the thought, but maybe Tony and Regan are right. Maybe you should go see Eric and go see him immediately. I had a lot of anxiety and crap going on. Till I could handle it, Mickey gave me a mild-anxiety drug that just calmed my system down. It allowed me to remain calm while I healed from the other side effects. Eric could give you the same thing, and then that way it could make figuring out the rest of this mess a little easier.” Chase thought it over, having remembered the same suggestion from Alyssa. Maybe she had more knowledge than he was crediting her for.

“Maybe you’re right….” Dale had to admit that he was surprised, not expecting that reaction right away from Chase. “I mean, I can’t describe this to anybody and make them get what I’m feeling. I’m anxious, panicing, angry, fear, confused, trembling, unable to sleep…..there’s just so much that I don’t know how to put it into words.” Dale kept his eyes on Chase, having known the feeling all too well.

“Deep breaths, count to 10 and relax. You may call this a damn psychological insanity issue as it may feel you’re going insane. But really, it’s a panic attack causing a heightened anxiety and increasing everything that’s still there barely…” He then reaches out to Chase, grabbing both his hands. “Look at me. Deep breathes. Count to 10…” Chase closes his eyes, taking a couple deep breathes. “That’s it….”

“How do I describe this to Eric, though?” Dale lets go of Chase’s hands as he sits back, trying to figure out the best wording. With Mickey, he just knew what to do for Dale.

“Tell him you’re having a mix of thoughts. Tell him that you feel you’re on the edge of control. Tell him that your friends saw it as a panic attack. Tell him about what happened at Bristol. Ask him for permission for something to take the edge off. If you find the task daunting by yourself, ask for someone to come with. I’ll come with you, if need be.” Chase thought it over. It felt daunting to come out and straight out admit that he needed that help, but he knew that he wanted to erase this feeling as quick as he could.

“Thank you….than-”

“I told you that you never need to thank me, Chase. I’m always here for you – always.”

“I know….” Chase then wipes the next layer of stray tears from his eyes. “I just….” Dale then immediately makes his way over, wrapping both arms around him.

“Let it go, Chase. Please just let it go…” Chase then lets himself open up, leaning against Dale as the tears continue to fall.

After spending time like that, the pair separated with Chase making a phone call to Eric to set-up an appointment. The psychiatrist easily set-up something for later that afternoon, which Chase was set to attend no problem at all.

“Are you sure you can do this by yourself?” Dale questions as Chase is getting ready.

“Yeah, I’m good,” he answers before heading out.

Dale watches him leave, pulling out his phone.

He sends a quick text message to both Regan and Tony, letting them know a couple details on the latest crack from Chase. The three of them had been keeping in close contact with each other, keeping updates flowing, all wanting to do whatever they could to help Chase. They figured if all three were keeping a close eye, they could help him tackle things with ease.

He then sends a text message to Alyssa, giving her a quick update and reminding her that they could always talk if need be.

Leaning back against the door, he just hoped that everything would cool off soon.