Cabin Fears – Chapter 34

Dale sat back as he watched the car go through technical inspection, impressed with how well Kevin Meendering and Steve LeTarte had explained the additions made to the car for Alyssa.

He then glanced over, smiling as he watched Alyssa and Chase sit on a bench, joined by some of their closest friends, simply shooting the breeze. After seeing the pain the pair had been through over the past couple of weeks, it was nice to see a carefree attitude between spread around by both of them. He knew he had fought Alyssa on coming back, perhaps harder than he did for Chase, but the smile her face said it all. The return to racing, emphasized by winning, had done more for her than anything else could.

Standing up and walking away from the area, he puts his hands in his pockets as he takes a deep breath.

He was the first to admit that he was worried about Alyssa coming back to racing. He may not have appeared it when Steve suggested it in the hospital, or when the idea was brought up to NASCAR. He also may not have appeared that way when they made the original test laps prior to the weekend.

However, it was the complete opposite from the truth.

He found his stomach flip flopping through the process, wanting to yell out ‘freeze’ or ‘stop’ or ‘impossible,’ just the same as Marie had in the hospital room. How was something this crazy going to work?

He knew how evil racecars could be when they weren’t handling correctly. He knew how ruthless competitors could be if they saw a single weakness in someone – they were quick to use that to their advantage. He knew the feeling of a car twitching sideways at 200 mph, and the fight a driver had to goo through to save it from spinning around or hitting a wall. There was also the fact of avoiding walls or other cars when you were sent sideways, unable to stop, too. The unpredictability factor was there.

Looking across the dimly lit track, he found himself admitting these worries to himself, even perhaps fear. He even thought about the other night when he dreamt of something happening, resulting in her being hurt badly. He thought of her maybe getting stuck in the car if it was to catch fire. Taking a deep breath, he knew those thoughts were only there because of what he had been through.

Though instead of that, the weekend had gone better than imagined. The team unloaded the best package that they could’ve dreamed of and she had the quickest car throughout the weekend, capping it off with a win despite two separate incidents in the race.

It’d be hours since the checkered flag had flown, but he still found himself in disbelief as to how she had done that. How’d she have the strength to handle steering the whole time with just one hand? How was she able to fight back against the adversity? How was she able to put everything aside and fight back?

Now, instead of those earlier fears, he was wondering if he’d be set to handle 10 weeks of her battling for the championship and stay calm through that. He also found himself thinking about the future.

It was a brief thought before, having crossed his mind after her first couple of wins and even after complimenting her at the test. Though before it had just been a quick thought scuffed to the side.

Was JR Motorsports ready to go Cup racing now?

He had discussed it previously, expressing to Kelley and others who asked that he’d never take his team up to the premiere series, comfortable to where they were in XFINITY.  Besides, there were other things on his plate outside of racing, too, as he and Marie were still busy as ever with Pitronia.

However, he knew there was no room at Hendrick Motorsports for Alyssa and he wasn’t sure if he’d be comfortable with her driving for another team, given the connections. He thought about Richard Childress Racing, but wasn’t too keen in her being teammates with the Dillon brothers. There was the thought of Chip Ganassi Racing, but that wouldn’t seem like home.

In the best interest for the future of his daughter’s career, was his team set to make the next big step?

He knew they had the talent to make it happen. He knew they had the resources to put forth. He knew everything would fall together as soon as he gave the order to make it happen.

But was he ready to pull the plug just yet?

“I was wondering where you ran off too,” Dale hears, glancing behind him as he sees Marie standing there. She then makes her way over, wrapping an arm around him. “What are you thinking about?”

“A lot of different things,” he tells her honestly, knowing he couldn’t lie to her. “From Alyssa to the race team and the future.”

“Care to enlighten me?” He then glances over at her, before looking back out to the track. It wasn’t worth asking her as she didn’t know just how big of a step this would be. Her answer would just be solely based on Alyssa’s future in racing.

“Nah, it’s okay. I’m sure I’ve got it sorted out, or got the right people to contact to make sure I do.” He knew that would involve getting some thoughts from the key players at JR Motorsports before he made his final decision.

“As long as you have it handled, I’m not going to fight you on that.” She then lets him go and walks up pit road a little, before looking back at him. “Remember all the fun moments that we had here together?”

“Bristol has always been magical. She just worked her magic a little extra hard tonight for Alyssa.” Marie smiles as she walks back over, pulling Dale close.

“She needed that, Dale. Chase needed that. It’s the first step to moving forward. We both know that better than anyone.” He shakes his head yes as he wraps his arms around her.

“We were able to do it, Chase has done it before. They’ll be able to do it again, I’m certain.” He then kisses the top of her head as they stay there for awhile together.

Back at the picnic table, the jokes continued amongst the friends.

“So she like literally threatened to kick Ty’s ass today?” Lydia questions and Chase shakes his head yes, with Alyssa rolling her eyes.

“I just stated that I was purely angry – nothing else,” she answers as Chase glances at her.

“It was more like, ‘he’s still a silver spoon fool’ or something like that,” Chase comments as the group just laughs.

“Kevin is never going to live down that comment,” Ryan Blaney says and Chase couldn’t agree more. He had his additional run-ins with Ty, beyond their issues at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

“He spoke the truth that day, though. I could kill at him times, too – and that says a lot coming from me, as you know. But man, he ticked me off a couple years ago at Richmond.”

“Is that when he dumped you for the win?” Leo asks and Chase shakes his head yes. “No surprise.”

“That was the night that Alan and Jared both held you back, and it was my dad who ended up coming by the car to get you and lead you off pit road,” Alyssa remembers as Chase smiles.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he went spinning into a wall tomorrow with the way he’s been driving.”

“If Chase was in the race, he would’ve done that,” Ella comments as Chase shakes his head no. “Really?”

“Alyssa can handle her own battles as she’s the strongest person that I know,” Chase says as he wraps his arms around her. “I don’t need to that for her. Besides, she did get back to his bumper.”

“So, when are you coming back racing?” Elladee Crafton asks, catching everyone’s attention as they look towards Chase. Chase lets out a sigh, unsure how to answer the question. He knew he’d be physically healed from everything soon, but that didn’t cover the mental aspects of what he was going through. He knew that more significant than anything, especially with the flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks.

“I don’t know, honestly. It just depends on how everything goes moving forward. The doctors say I should be fine in a couple weeks, but I don’t know if I’ll be ready then. There’s still a lot that I have to think about, and work my way through.” Ryan and Darrell traded a glance back and forth, knowing what the comment was in reference to.

“You know you can call us anytime you need to talk, right?” Ryan reminds him and Chase shakes his head yes. “I mean that, too. I don’t care if it’s 3 in the morning.”

“And girl, well they have his back, we have yours,” Genieve says to Alyssa as she reaches over, grabbing her hand. Alyssa simply shoots her back a smile and a nod of the head. She knew that she had a lot to talk about, like Chase, but just wasn’t sure who she wanted to turn to on that respect, yet, if anybody.

“We’ve always hung out together so just cause we’re older that doesn’t mean we don’t have each other’s backs and will do whatever it takes,” Lydia adds as the group simply smiles.

“Crazy how we were running around causing chaos in the infield, perhaps driving Chase and Ryan crazy, and now we’re kicking their ass on track.” The younger ones just laugh as Ryan looks on shocked.

“Hey, that’s not nice!” He proclaims as Lydia simply gives him a look.

“What are you going to do about it, Blaney?” She asks as he just smiles.

“I’m going to beat your sister tomorrow and win.”

“Good luck with that.”

“Sorry, I’ve already proclaimed that I am winning so you’ll have to wait till….umm….I’m retired,” Darrell states as Ryan looks over.

“Well, considering you’re a poor old man who requires constant back rubs from Shelby, that’ll be soon,” Ryan teases back in response.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 29: The Meeting

Tony Stewart walks outside, turning the corner and making the quick work down to the next hauler, meeting face-to-face with Kevin Harvick. He was surprised to still see him racing, but had to chuckle as it reminded him a lot of himself. For some, there was no way to get the racing out of them.

“You  know, it’s a lot harder than you may think to wrangle up that group and get them to stay in a room calm without many details,”  Kevin starts as Tony crosses his arms. “Between the questions to the worry to the demanding of answers, to what the heck is going on – I give up with them. Why did you put me in charge?”

“Because I knew you could handle it as best as anybody here, and thank you,” Tony tells him. “Besides, I couldn’t say much or else they’d be stomping down the doors till they found him.” Kevin then looks at Tony curiously, stopping Tony as he goes to walk inside.

“Is he alright?” Tony stops, looking at Kevin with a sincere smile.

“He’s good right now, let me put it that way. It’s just going to take time working through everything, and I want to make sure that these people know what’s going on.” Kevin shakes his head yes as he understands, allowing Tony to enter.

Tony walks through the trailer, up the small set of stairs and opening the door. He glances around the room, seeing the group – including a face he didn’t text message – before stepping inside and closing the door.

“What the hell is going on, Tony?” Alyssa demands first, catching Tony’s attention.

“Where’s my son?” Cindy asks as she crosses her arms, giving Tony the equivalent to a stare down.

“Why haven’t you told us much of anything?” Dale questions as Tony sits back in the one open seat, spinning around the chair before looking at the group.

“Any other questions that you have?” He asks as he glances around. “No? Okay, then maybe I’ll start talking. For the record, Alyssa, I am going to explain what’s going on. Cindy, your son is currently having a well-needed in one of the other haulers in the lounge, at my request. He kind of appeared to look to need it. And Dale, that’s because I wanted to do it this way rather than in pieces over text message and make you go looking for him. Happy? Okay! Now that I’ve answered those, I will say what I called you here for.” He then looks over at Regan. “But wait, why are you here?”

“Dale told me to come,” Regan states with a glance towards Dale.

“When Chase is going through something and needs someone to talk to, most of the time he goes Regan,” Dale starts. “I figured it’d be fitting that he heard this.” Tony shakes his head, completely understanding. He figured the kid had a support system and tried to message those he knew were probably part of it, but figured he’d miss one or two. He was glad that Dale picked up on the fact to call Regan.

“Quite fitting indeed,” Tony comments as he takes a deep breath. Where was he supposed to begin? “So I was making my way back to the hauler after having met with some of the team in the garage to discuss things and I heard someone let out a sound, so I looked with curiosity – and it was Chase. He had tripped over a rock, causing him to let out a curse of word of his choi-”

“Was it fuck or shit?” Ryan questions, catching Tony’s attention. “That boy doesn’t say a lot of bad words. Cindy and Bill raised him really well.” Tony had expected a remark of question in that regard from Darrell, not Ryan.

“It was fuck, but who cares on that small detail, okay? Anyways, I called out his name, simply looking to ask if he was okay. I got an odd reaction, as he jumped back surprised, perhaps even worried. Anyways, I stood my ground and just simply said for him to look at me and got his attention. Seeing how startled he was –not by just me, but perhaps everything going on, I figured it’d be best to give him space to relax so I brought him in the hauler and got him a bottle of water, wanting to calm him down.”

“Anxiety, fear, worry – it’s common with him after something,” Regan starts, remembering some of their conversations. “There was one night he made me stay there over night to be with him because he was worried, I guess you could even say scared. We dealt with a good bit of that when Randy originally attacked him. You could also say that Alyssa being missing resparked that as I noticed it in a couple conversations we had before he got kidnapped. Tony, if that’s why you called us all figuring we didn’t kno-”

“I figured that you guys knew something, but you probably don’t know everything that I’m going to say,” Tony starts. “That’s why I called you guys – because of the unknown facts that I know. However, it’s great to see that you’ve recognized what’s going on and have spoken with him. I just hope that continues, and big time.” The comment throws a curveball through the room, as minds began to wander as to everything that Chase either said or did to spark this conversation out of Tony.1

“Why do you say that?” Jeff Gordon asks curiously from his perspective. Tony then takes a deep breath, figuring it was worth continuing with what else he sad to say.

“As he was drinking the bottle of water, you could tell that he was in pain – his stomach –just by his motions and expressions. I offered to go get someone, or do something, and he told me that he left his pain pills in the 24 hauler when he was there earlier today seeing the gu-”

“That’s why he probably didn’t come up for practice, because he went to get the pills and ran into you?” Marie questions and Tony shakes his head yes. “Yeah, he told Kevin (Meendering) that he had to do something and then was coming back. It caught Dale and Kevin off-guard when he didn’t, but we figured maybe he got tied up talking to someone.” Tony could understand that explanation. However, he knew that wasn’t a fitting reaction based on what he had seen out of Chase. It was why he knew this conversation was necessary.

“Totally easy assumption to make in figuring nothing is wrong,” Tony starts. “But to be honest, I think for the next bit everybody should be a bit more careful, know where he is and who he with and everything. Why? Trust me, you’ll understand if you let me finish saying what happened.”

“And you said that he was fine now, so we don’t have to worry at this very moment, right?” Bill questions and Tony shakes his head yes.

“He’s calmed right down, enough to grab some sleep in the trailer. I have a crew member there and as soon as he wakes up, the crew member will text me so I can go back and make sure he’s fine. Trust me, I took care of all angles.” Bill shakes his head in approval, glad that it was Tony who had found Chase and gone through the motions. He wasn’t sure if the same type of reaction would’ve happened with just any fellow driver or owner in the garage. “Anyways, I offered to go get them but he didn’t want to be left alone – sort of what you were talking about, Regan. So I sent a crew member, easily got them, and he was able to take one, which started working instantly. I waited quietly, just seeing where his reaction would go and what to do next as I wasn’t sure how to handle this. He then told me that he thought he could simply go get the pills, take one, return back to the trailer to watch Alyssa with ease. However, he then goes ‘then it happened, again.’” The group looks at each other, slight confusion entering the spectrum as Regan glances at Dale, remembering the discussion they had shortly after Chase had gone missing with the airplane.

“Can I guess?” Regan asks, catching Tony by surprise. “I’m guessing that he had a total panic alarm set off in his mind, blanking out logical thinking, just going through the wheel of motions till everything caught up together without clearly knowing what he was doing.” Tony was surprised that he heard the right guess made, as it made him question even more why Chase was left alone.

“Yeah, that’s what happened,” Tony answers as Regan lets out a sigh. Perhaps he should’ve moved forward on his original thoughts then. “If you guys knew of this happening, why did you leave him alon-”

“We didn’t know of it being an actual occurrence; it was a random mind guess after he went missing looking for Alyssa. It was a theory that I had put together, but quickly dismissed due to nothing said by him in the days that followed.” Tony felt anger boiling as he just thought nobody had any idea. However, how could you avoid thought when you had an idea?

“Well, since you know of it, I guess why I’ve called you all here. Listen, the kid is got a TON going on emotionally, on a variety of scales. I just wanted to warn you based on what I saw so that way those closest to him to make sure to be there with him, and perhaps – as I said earlier – make sure someone was with him at all times – just so that way they can handle when these happen, till he figures it out.”

“Maybe I did come back racing too soon….” Alyssa thinks out loud, as she thought back to Chase’s thoughts on her return over the past several days. She had been selfish, stuck on her own goals of racing and dealing with her feelings. However, was part of the apprehension actually due to his feelings and needing her to deal with them?

“Alyssa, you can go back racing and we can still handle this,” Darrell starts. “We’ve got a bunch of us here that are tied up and available at different times so we can help when we’ve got time. This doesn’t fall on your shoulders and don’t think your decision has bought this on more.” Tony was glad to hear Darrell giving that piece of advice to Alyssa, especially with what he had to come. He had debated not saying what was said between him and Chase about Alyssa, but knew it was worth her knowing so everybody knew just where Chase was mentally.

“Chase was only giving you those warnings based on his own experience of coming back early, not because of this,” Dale adds. “However, if you felt that you handled it enough to come back racing, and handle the rest while racing, then don’t hold a single thought back on coming back.” Alyssa lets out a sigh as that was a thought she had continued to toss back and forth over the past couple of weeks, as well as during the day with what was said earlier at the press conference.

“Beyond that comment, I think you have word from the rest of us that we’ll be there and help him, and I appreciate you letting us know,” Ryan states, figuring they were near the conclusion of Tony’s discussion period. Besides, there was another XFINITY practice coming up that some of them had to get to.

“I know that I have your word because I know that you guys love him and will do what it takes,” Tony states cleanly, and that wasn’t a question in his mind. “I just have one other thing I think you guys should know, and I hope it doesn’t cause another issue.” He then takes a deep breath, remembering the discussion. “Chase blames himself for what happened. He says because of letting his fear control him, he wasn’t there for Alyssa. He wasn’t able to save her, prevent it from happening, or be there for her today. it’s a ton of guilt that just seemed to pour out of him unexpectedly. I spent a good bit convincing him otherwise in telling him that he was an amazing guy, great for Alyssa, and the fact his attempt to come out this weekend despite everything going on was beyond brave. I told him that he did a great job at the press conference, that he’s proven the odds surrounding the relationship, and mistakes are bound to happe-”

“He’s a ultra perfectionist,” Bill cuts off Tony, catching his attention. “He doesn’t believe in mistakes. To him, mistakes are the cause of things that he could’ve changed or done better to change what happened. He’s always been that way. It’s why he kept playing the previous attacks in his mind over and over, trying to see what he could’ve done differently. It’s why this is eating at him, again, and perhaps more because of how much he loves and cares about her.” Tony shakes his head, having picked up on his own theory around that.

“I also told him that he could bounce back from this, in which he didn’t believe me at first. However, I reminded him how he was able to before, followed by everybody who is here to support him, including Alyssa. I reminded him of the strength that we know he has, and there’s always a way to move forward. I told him it’d be okay, and to be honest, I think I got somewhere as we had a good session of tears before I let him go to sleep for awhile.” Tony then takes a deep breath. “I’ve been in those darkest moments and I know it takes a lot of work. However, with this group, I know you guys will help him.”

“It’s going to work out,” Ryan comments. “It’ll take time, it’ll take each of being patient with him and helping – but it’ll work out. I hate to go through this again with him, but I’d do a 100 times over because of how much I like my best friend.”

“I have no doubt,” Tony states as he reaches for his phone, seeing a text message. “That’s Chase…” The group goes to move, but Alyssa holds her arms out as she stands up.

“I want to go see him before any of you, please,” Alyssa starts. “He blames himself for what happened to me. As Tony said, the first round of feelings that poured out was all about me. Let me go see him. Let me have a heart-to-heart with him, show him I love him, show him it’ll be okay. Maybe with that out of the way, we can work through the rest.”

She then makes her way towards the door, glancing at Tony for directions as to where to go. She knew that she had practice coming up, but she in no way could think about the car or the race later on that night. There was only one thought on her mind, just as he had been in the hospital.

She had to make sure he was okay before she could take her own next step forward that weekend.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 17: Hospital Visit

Once the initial hugs were out of the way and the pair were back being comfy in their cuddle together, the group of visitors figured out their spots around the room, whether in a chair or sitting on what was supposed to be Alyssa’s bed, or a couple even choosing to stand.

“The obvious question – how are you both feeling?” Bill broke the silence in the room as the pair glanced over.

“Pretty sore,” Chase answered honestly. His stomach constantly ached – thankfully, just dully due to the pain meds being given, but enough that it caught his attention and made him want to curl up.  He knew he couldn’t do that, though, needing to lie on his back, straight due to the stitches. “It just constantly aches, with a nauseous feeling here and there. Everywhere else is just a little sore, though. It’s not the worse.”

“Sometimes I want to scream, sometimes I want to cry, sometimes I just wish I could rip away my entire side,” Alyssa explains, in reference to the burns up her left side. “They’re just evil. The pain killers are taking the edge off, but they still hurt a good bit.”

“Don’t need to tell me as I know that experience,” Dale offers, reflecting back to Sonoma awhile ago.

“You’ll get to see how we all felt when we were changing your bandages,” Kelley quips, remembering how disgusting the burns looked in the first couple of weeks afterwards.

“I’m not pushing against you too much by placing my hand here, am I?”  Chase questions, having wrapped his right arm her. She immediately shakes her head no, knowing he was careful of where to rest it.

“I’m not pushing against you either, right?” Alyssa asks and Chase shakes his head no. Alyssa had been careful when climbing into the bed not to push too much against his side, knowing the amount of pain he was in.

“Any tingling feeling at all in your arm?” Marie asks, not believing the doctor’s words about permanent damage.

“Not a single thing. I smacked it earlier and I pinched it earlier, watched the skin turn red, but felt not a single thing. I can’t even feel against Chase’s body right now. It just feels like this odd dead weight attached my elbow.”

“Well, if someone pisses you off, you can just swing it at them like a bat and not feel a thing,” Darrell comments, causing a small laugh and smile to follow from Alyssa. “Remind people not to wreck Chase because he’s got his own special security guard.”

“Hey now, it’s going to be awhile before I’m driving again,” Chase comments, remembering what the doctor told him about the healing process. “4-6 weeks, at least.” Ryan then thought it over, doing the math his head as he smiled.

“Even if it takes six weeks, you’re healed for the Chase,” he says as Chase just rolls his eyes. He knew other years, he would’ve been doing the math himself. However, that was not him today. Instead, he was focused on getting himself better, as well as Alyssa. He also knew the racing discussion wasn’t perhaps the best topic for Alyssa right now.

“You know, it’s not the end of the world – as I told you earlier. There are plenty of things that I know you’re good at, and I’m sure you’d make a great crew chief or a great helper in running the race team with your dad.”

“Can I hire you as my driver coach?” Ryan questions, as Alyssa looks over. The comment from Chase about her possible future had gone completely over her head, for now. That was a thought for when she was feeling better.

“Are you admitting that I am a better driver than you?” She asks as Ryan shrugs his shoulders.

“Nah, I know I’m better – but I need to figure out some of that guy’s secrets.”

“She’s not giving those up no matter what,” Chase states as he gives her another kiss. “I have the golden key to keep those locked up. Good try, through.”

“I know you don’t want to talk about it, Alyssa, but you can tell us about your thoughts on the whole racing thing,” Dale starts as he focuses on his daughter. That was his little girl and it seemed in more ways than one she was exactly like her daddy. She picked up on his love for racing, and ways of handling certain situations. That’s why he knew that the racing dream being ripped away from her would affect her, from losing her passion to anger over not being able to decide the end, to the anxiety and nerves. It hadn’t happened to him, but he knew the feelings associated when it almost happened following a concussion and doctor discussion. “I know the feelings that you must be going through. If you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to open up to someone.”

“Actually, that goes for both of you on everything that happened,” Regan adds, his eyes locked on Chase. He knew what his friend was like when it came to events happening.

“I don’t really have anything thoughts or anything to say on that right now,” Alyssa starts carefully. “I haven’t thought about it much. My priority right now is getting better, and making sure Chase gets better. I’ll worry about that down the road, and I’ll remember what you said.”

“By the way, Chase – the cops said the $2 million has been returned to your account upon Kassandra’s arrest and Randy’s death.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. It didn’t matter to him, though, as the money wasn’t the huge importance. The bigger thing was they were both going to be okay, and Randy was gone.

“What were you bloody well thinking when you did that?” Cindy spits out, shocking half of the room in her reaction. However, it was something that she had been holding back since learning about it.

“I wasn’t thinking,” Chase starts quietly. “I let my fear, being worried, scared, need for Alyssa to be okay force me to go through a series of events that I wasn’t thinking clearly. Somehow I rationalized with myself that I could save her by easily dropping the money off with no problem. I was going to make everything alright, get rid of those feelings that I was having just in a flicker of two fingers.  Obviously, if I was thinking, I would’ve said something to the police and we could’ve come up with a better strategy.”

“Did you have any thought to speak to someone?” Regan wonders and Chase shakes his head no.

“As soon as I got that text message, I was on my way to the airport, set to find her.” Chase takes a deep breath, calming himself down. He could feel some of that anxiety and fear still sitting there, and knew it’d be a battle to get it to go away again. “Knowing that she was missing, it sent me through a warp speed reminder of everything that happened through the years, causing my mind to go into overdrive. Stuck in my own world, I was thinking about anything else – except getting her, ending those feelings. There was no rational thought to speak to someone, or do the right thing. To be honest, it scared me once I realized what I had done.”

“The main thing is that you’re going to be okay over time,” Bill states as he gives his son a pat on the shoulder, eyes locked on Regan.  He knew there was a want to push the discussion and help Chase through it all in one sweep. However, it was obvious to Bill that this went deep and another strategy was going to be needed. It was why he wanted to play assurance, and then work on the rest once Chase was feeling better physically.

“We all know that feeling Chase,” Dale adds as he leans back against the wall with a sigh. He felt the same thoughts- panic, anxiety, fear. It was why he forced so much of his energy through the past three days on taking care of everybody else, not wanting to focus on his own emotions and cause them to eat at him.  “You had your way of handling it, and I had mine. Mine wasn’t much healthy as I let it eat at me insider while forcing myself to focus on other people’s needs.”

“Well everybody can relax now, because we’re going to heal from this – and be okay,” Alyssa interrupts the discussion. “We’re going to heal physically, and we’re going to get through all the fears and anxiety that comes with it. We’re even going to deal with my racing issue as it’s been worded.”

Marie watched the group interact, keeping quiet in her corner of the room where she had chosen to sit.  It pained her to hear of the emotions from Dale, Chase, and Alyssa. It pained her to hear about the amount of pain that Alyssa and Chase were in. it pained her to hear that Alyssa’s racing dreams were all cut short.

She blamed herself for everything, too. They had only met Randy because he was working with Mariela when she was trying to kill Marie as a result of the sisterhood going bad following a disagreement with their dad. It also didn’t help that she killed her own father, either.

She knew it was wrong to do that – it wasn’t her fault that Mariela and Randy did what they did, but she couldn’t help but blame herself in times like this. She had brought them in their lives by marrying Dale.  Without her influence, Dale and Chase wouldn’t have been through everything they experienced. Of course, she wouldn’t have a daughter, either, but those down times – she wished someone else was Alyssa’s mother to avoid this.

Marie’s silence was more telling than anything as Dale and Kelley picked up on it immediately, knowing what she was telling herself. Dale knew the feeling, having done the same after one of Chase’s attacks.

“What have we said about blaming yourself, Marie?” Kelley questions, catching the rest of the room’s attention.

“I know it’s not my fault – my brain knows that,” Marie answers as she glances over at Kelley. “It’s just telling my heart that in this moment. I’m working on it, trust me. I’ll be fine.”

“Don’t blame yourself mom,” Alyssa then speaks. “It’s fine. We can work our way through this.”

“I know. I just hate-”

“What have I told everybody else about the racing factor? I’ll deal with it. There are plenty of things that I can still do, involved in racing and in other parts of life.”

“There are also plenty of people out there who have defied the odds before,” Jeff finally speaks up. “Sam Schmidt and Alex Zanardi are both great examples. They were able to go back driving, at a high rate of speed, after their accidents and being told it’d be practically impossible. I’m sure where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

 

Cabin Fears – Chapter 15: “They’re going to be okay”

Wednesday Night

“I don’t get why we’re headed to Toronto General,” Cindy comments as they arrive at the hospital. “I mean, wouldn’t they have taken them to the local hospital?”

“They said it was for traumatic reasons – wanted to make sure they got the best trauma care based on their condition,” Dale states, remembering the phone call he had received from the detective.

As soon as the call had been put into the task force, Dale put a phone call into his pilot, requesting an immediate flight for everybody to Ontario, Canada – set to land at the same Kingston airport in which Chase had landed. The pilot quickly listened, knowing the importance of the situation.

As they were flying, Dale had received a phone call regarding the change in hospital location, with the attached explanation. He had demanded an update on the condition of the pair, however that was not obliged. Instead, he was told by the detective all updates would come from the doctor in person. Letting out a sigh, he just hoped it wasn’t as serious as mind was trying to tell him now.

They had landed at Pearson International Airport just outside of Toronto just an hour and a half prior, before making their way downtown to the hospital. Now with the front doors right in front of them, they knew it was now or never in finding out what was going on.

“It’s probably precautionary,” Regan comments, sensing the nervousness in the parents’ voices as they spoke. “They’re going to be okay.”

The group walks into the hospital, set to find the front desk in the emergency department as instructed by the detective. It was there they would be instructed where to go next. After confirming who they were there to see, the triage nurse led them through a series of halls, before arriving in a private waiting room.

“Of course,” Cindy comments as she walks in the room. “They still haven’t gotten it through their head that all we want is to see the children, then hear the updates. Don’t they get what we’re going through?”  She then takes a seat in the corner, with Bill sitting in the chair beside her. He quietly intertwines his fingers with hers, holding her hand tight as if to offer reassurance.

“It’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay,” Marie kept repeating to herself as she took her seat, trying to keep her own tears at bay. She watched as Dale sat beside her, their eyes locking for a second. It was clear between them the situation. She was the type to worry on the outside and let it be known, whereas he was the type to look strong – but yet be driving himself crazy on the inside with anxiety and nerves. While he had been the one to keep things together, in truth he was falling apart more than she was with each passing moment. It was why Marie was trying to be the strong one, for a change. “It’s going to be okay.”

Regan, Ryan, Darrell, Jeff and Kelley found themselves standing. There were five chairs in the room, but they didn’t want to take it in case the other wanted it. Truthfully, it was a fine move by them each to stand as they were set to be there for support for the group and the ability to quickly move would help.

The room fell into a quiet period of worry, curiosity and nerves – till the door opened, catching everyone’s attention in an instant as a female doctor entered and closed the door behind her.

“My name is Dr. Grayson,” the doctor starts as she takes a seat in the last remaining chair. The name immediately causes Regan to look up from his chosen corner.

“I know the name,” he states as she smiles, shaking her head yes. “You’re his daughter, right?” She shakes her head yes as Regan smiles. The conversation immediately answered the rest of the group’s questions, remembering it was Dr. Randolph Grayson who had treated Chase the last time they crossed the border.

“This is just too much irony for one man to take,” Darrell comments.

“Given that the family has quite the history, I’m going to start off by stating that both of them should make a full recovery from the injuries sustained,” she starts, causing a couple sighs of relief. Dale still felt himself frozen in his nerves, though, as he knew that was part of the puzzle. It was always easy for the body to heal from the physical injuries, but what about the mental? “I’m going to address Ms. Earnhardt’s files, followed by Mr. Elliott’s file. Once they’re both complete, you’re free to go see them. We do have them on a 24 hour nurse watch, but placed them both in the same room knowing the connection.”

“That is appreciated,” Kelley comments from her perspective, knowing that’d make it easier on everybody. She also knew it’d help Chase and Alyssa in being able to see each other.

“Ms. Earnhardt was subjected to obvious torture – without a single doubt in my mind. From being slapped with a belt, to parts of her body being electrocuted multiple times.” The comment caused the group to cringe, only wondering what the injuries could be. “The electrocution was the primary concern when she arrived. We did an electrocardiogram to check her heart, checked her blood count, as well as a CT scan for both brain and internal injury reasons. Everything came back clean so there are no severe underlying injuries. However, there are burns down her left arm from the shoulder down, as well as others down her left side. We have bandaged them, and will be regularly changing the bandages, putting on ointment and monitoring those. If they do get worse, a skin graph will be done.”

“Burns are painful – trust me,” Dale comments quietly as he watches the doctor flip the page in the file. He had hoped there was only one page to be concerned about.

“When she woke up, we did a general assessment and were surprised when she said she couldn’t feel her left arm,” the doctor continues, causing confusion to come over Dale’s face. “We did run an x-ray, as well as an electromyography and other nerve tests. Looking over the results myself and with other consults, it was determined the electrocution killed the nerves, which control those movements. By what we were able to see, it seems that she’s permanently lost the feeling from her left elbow to her left hand.” It seemed like a sense of shock went over the room in hearing the news. It wasn’t the worst thing that could’ve happened, but it wasn’t the prettiest either.

Dale knew it was the wrong time to think about it – especially where the number one concern being her physical and mental health, but it was an immediate thought when it came to her.

What about her racing career?

He knew hearing the news, questioning whether she could race or not would crush her totally as it was a big part of her life. She had always wanted to be a racecar driver since she was a little kid, and yet here as she was starting to blossom into a star this happened.

“Obviously I know that is a shock to everyone and it’ll take getting used to in her daily routine, but it should come with ease,” Dr. Grayson continued, but Dale wasn’t as convinced. “In the coming weeks, we’ll have her meet with a specialist who can determine what the next best course of action is in regards to her left side. Other than that, there are some pain marks for her to heal from in relation to the belt slaps and restraints, but those should heal accordingly with time.”

“Now, what about Chase?”  Bill asked as he took a deep breath. Considering what he had heard in relation to Alyssa’s torture and knew of the past, he could only wonder what his son had been put through. He just hoped it wasn’t too bad.

“Mr. Elliott certainly has some significant concerns, as well. When he came in, he was complaining of severe pain to the stomach, as well as the fact he was injected with a needle right above his lower extermitie-”

“Are you saying that sick-o stuck a needle in the top of weewee?” Darrell questions, feeling disgusted immediately at the thought, as the doctor shakes her head yes. “That’s just wrong on so many levels.”

“From conversation, it was supposed to bring a sense of simulated pain and sexual arousal from the side of the attacker so he thought he’d be raped and Alyssa would hear the sounds of it. The pair had a discussion of the nature when we were discussing things over with them.”

Cindy could only shake her head, barely able to restrain herself from getting up from her seat and marching over to the police station to give Kassandra a piece of her mind and a slap. It was one thing to attack her baby, but it was a whole other aspect to do it that way.

It was why she was also thanking the task force 10 times over for killing Randy, even if they hadn’t planned on it.

“The drugs in the needle were of high concentration – so we completely pumped out the contents of his system, followed by IV fluids to replenish the body,” the doctor continues. “There was a purpose to the drugs, beyond the simple sexual arousal reasons and pain. Unfortunately, this has brought more issues and more pain, as it was meant to eat at the lining of his stomach. As a result, there’s been vomiting and significant pain experienced. We did surgery for some of the excessive bleeding inside already, in which went successfully. Now, it’s just letting it heal and rebuilding the lining of his stomach through medicine. He should be fully healed in four to six weeks.” Cindy was relieved that there was no permanent damage on that front and the surgery had gone well, however going through four to six weeks of healing and pain didn’t sound fun.

“What about the other degusting factor?” Ryan asks. He didn’t want to ponder the thought, but he knew it had to be addressed by someone.

“The lower exterminity area, known as the dick in which you boys can’t say?” Dr. Grayson asks and Ryan shakes his head yes. “Other than some pain from being stuck there, it should be fine. He’ll still be able to make babies for the curious parents.  Beyond that, there is some other general pain – again, belt slaps and restraints – but it should all heal accordingly.”

“Can we go see them now?” Dale asks, figuring that the explanation was done. He knew he wouldn’t calm in his worries at all till he saw the pair.

“Yes, you may. Let me lead you all to the room.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 14: “$2 million? Are you for real?”

After spending the morning sitting filled with anxiety, Dale now sat at a table with a pair of the detectives. The thought that they were there with some information should be helpful. However, it was the opposite. Given the quick disappearance, Dale could only paint ideas on where Chase could be.

A glance up and seeing the eyes of Chase’s parents, and the anger at Chase for leaving without letting anyone know seemed it’d be boil over. It was one thing to do this when he was younger – when they were all younger, but not now when they were older. Didn’t he know stress wasn’t good for older people?

The room also saw the arrivals of the close knit group – Regan, Darrell and Ryan. Considering the three had always been the ones that Chase would lean on, they deserved to know whatever information was to be said. Perhaps they could help answer any questions that’d come up.

“Everybody’s here now,” Cindy states, breaking the silence that had filled the room for the past couple of minutes. “Where’s my son?” The detective truthfully wished he could spit out a location with ease. However, that wasn’t the case.

“We still haven’t located Mr. Elliott specifically, ma’am,” the detective starts, causing a sigh and eye roll from Cindy. Didn’t they know the danger he was in? Why hadn’t they done their job and found the kids already? “We did, however, find some things that have alerted our curiosity. We checked all the United States airports for the tail number, but had no luck. We then expanded the search to Canada and Mexico, to cover all basis. The plane has been located at the Norman Rogers Airport.” Glances of confusion filled the room at the name, not placing a location with the name.

“Where the heck is that?” Ryan asks the question which every person felt like asking.

“Kingston, Ontario.” Dale rolls his eyes at the thought. It figured as the last time they played possum with Randy it led them to Ontario. He remembered the shock of the trip from 15 years ago with Regan, not believing that they’d be chasing a guy across North America.

“We’ve been there….” Cindy’s voice trails off as she thinks about the same previous trip that Dale was thinking about. It was as if they had a light bulb moment as the pair glanced at each other and Dale shook his head yes. He remembered the pilot stating something about that in his odd bank of memories.

“The last time we chased Randy around when he kidnapped Chase, we ended up there,” Dale starts. “We drove two hours northwest to a hospital in the Blue Mountain area where Chase was.” The officer shakes his head as he flips through the stack of documents in the file.

“Mr. Elliott was admitted December, 15 years ago, as a result of hypothermia due to falling in a hole on Lake Simcoe after an altercation with Mr. Randy Roberts,” the officer reads from one of the old files. “That was why he was arrested and thrown in jail, for the third time, in relation to situations surrounding Mr. Elliott and your family. Certainly Norman Rogers Airport is the closest airport to the area.” Dale wanted to scream. He knew the craziness that had been flooding through Chase’s mind. If they were set to return to where everything happened, he knew that it’d only be a matter of time before it pushed Chase further. However, it still didn’t make sense as to why Chase ran off without a trace, especially to there.

“If I may, are you saying that in his search for Alyssa and being perhaps desperately worried, he returned back to where Randy’s last known attack location was?” Darrell puts the theory out there, almost causing a light bulb moment for Dale. If Dale added that to his thoughts, it was clear rationale thinking had gone out of the window.

“You may be on to a very true theory, Mr. Wallace,” the officer states as he flips back to the main page. “With him officially being missing, bank assets were being watched to see for something suspicious. It appears after landing at the airport, he rented a truck with his credit card. He then proceeded to make a stop at the TD Canada Bank, 13 minutes away on Princess Street, and make a significant withdrawal, big enough that they required him to fill out security forms. How does $2 million sound?” All the jaws drop in the room at hearing the number, with even more confusion and anger set to hit the fan.

“$2 million? Are you for real?” Dale questions and the officer shakes his head yes, placing a copy of the document in the center of the table. “That’s impossible. That is not like Chase at all. He’d never do that. I mean, no….”

“Unless he wasn’t acting like himself due to being worried and paranoid,” Regan starts, catching Dale’s attention. “We both called him out on his feelings and worries and we both had a turn or two each talking to him. We warned him about things, and said if he got close to say something. What if the latest batch of pictures, wondering if Randy would rape her by how she was bound down pushed him over the edge?” Dale didn’t want to consider the possibility. He wanted to believe that somehow Chase had kidnapped, taken there, and forced to take the money out. None of this was adding up at all.

“Didn’t you mention something on the phone about Randy getting closer to wanting to reveal the details?” Bill then speaks, catching both of the boy’s attention and Dale shakes his head yes. “Catching the messenger, that’d force Randy to either want to act quicker or become desperate. What if he has Alyssa’s phone? What if he texted Chase something, sent him over the edge and he went into overdrive to satisfy the need?” It was a surprise to hear the oldest man in the room, completely worried over his son’s safety, actually be the smartest in the room with a theory.

“Why hadn’t this area been checked before knowing Randy’s past, anyway?” Dale questions as he looks back at the officer. He was starting to think about Chase’s words and the fact that the officers weren’t quite doing their jobs. It appeared they failed once again in not having any idea where Chase was now, either. “And please damn well tell me that you’re checking the entire area now.”

“I can assure you that there is a search party covering all the area up by Blue Mountain, and the surrounding areas,” the officer starts. “We checked the ski lodge where he was picked up from before, and we checked other discussed locations. We haven’t found anything yet.”

“What else is new?” The comment then caught the officer off-guard as Dale lets out a sigh. Perhaps it was his own frustration beginning to shine through but his attitude was wearing thin. Now he understood Chase’s actions based on his own feelings now.

“I suggest you get off your ass and find them then because this is getting ridiculous!” Cindy lets out as tears roll down her cheeks. Bill just sits there quietly, rubbing her back as he keeps his eyes on the officer.

“We are doing the best that we can, ma’am,” the officer assures her. “We were also wondering whether from what you’ve been told about the previous instances if you had any ideas.” The room fell silent as thoughts began to kick into overdrive. Given Randy was going over previous traces, there had to be something else they were missing – something obvious.

“The cabin,” Ryan spits out, catching everyone’s attention. “Before he dropped him in the hole, he kept him in a cabin not far from the lodge and open water over night because he didn’t want to travel then due to darkness. Perhaps he has the cabin still, or access to it.”

“Did Chase ever mention any names surrounding the cabin?” Ryan thinks it over and shakes his head no.

“There was a female that owned the cabin because he heard their voice speaking with Randy before leaving, but that’s it. No way to identify.”

“I’ll pass this information along to the right people, and perhaps they cross reference previous crime ring contacts and see if they can find something,” the officer states before leaving the room to make the phone call.

“He’s going to be okay, he’s got to be okay,” Bill says quietly as he continues to rub Cindy’s back. While he appeared to be the strong one of the pair, it was no secret that he was hurting on the inside as well.

“You’d think they would’ve checked, had posters, been doing all these things before we mention it,” Regan comments and Dale shakes his head yes.

“Chase mentioned something about how he didn’t like the officer and his behavior,” Dale starts. “Something about how incompetence, inability seemed to ring a bell. He actually got the officer assigned to him removed. It makes sense with those fears and his own irrational behavior out of worry that he’d escape without a trace.” Cindy then looks up from the table, eyes locked on Dale.

“Then why the hell weren’t you keeping a closer eye on him if you knew these details?” Cindy questions as Dale glances up, surprised by her attitude. It shouldn’t have surprised, to be honest, with her worries – but he had his own this time as well.

“I’ve been a little consumed with something else, thank you very much.”

“Guys, this doesn’t help matters,” Regan interrupts the pair as they both look over, steel-eyes in lock mode. “Besides, Dale is right. He has his own daughter missing, and a family to worry about. Knowing that, I should’ve kept a closer eye on him than I had been doing. I apologize for not doing that, Cindy, but if he was determined enough then nothing would’ve stopped him from going. You know his determination.” Cindy lets out a sigh, knowing that Regan was right. However, it felt comforting for a second to have someone else to blame.

“Well well, it seems the suggestion by Mr. Blaney has pawned something up,” the officer states as he returns to the group. “Kassandra Terrance owns the cabin, and happened to be arrested on crime ring charges eight years ago, but was let off. We are sending a task force over to the location now.”

“Glad we could do your job for you,” Dale states before standing up and walking away from the group. As he walked out to the kitchen, he just hoped the pair would be alright and able to heal from whatever they’d been put through.

The Journey – Chapter 6: Atlanta

Thanks for my reviewers for the suggestion to start off this chapter.

 

Ryan picked up the little fluff ball and smiled as he rubbed his nose against its face.

Since the previous weekend at Daytona, he had a lot on his mind. He was thinking of how to make this weekend’s race at Atlanta much better, though also thinking about Devon. There was working everything out so she could get pregnant as they wanted, while working through the other issues that still remained.

He had turned to his teammates for advice once again, sharing the incident that happened over the weekend with her nervousness. When the teammates pressed for more details about her nerves, Ryan shared how they had been working at making it easier, though still found a couple hang-ups along the way.

“Maybe you should get her a pet,” Darrell suggests. “They say that animals can help calm and relax people, and keep them company. Perhaps that’ll help make it easier for her.”

Ryan originally scuffed off the idea, though stopping at the humane society on the way home changed his mind immediately. His eyes caught a 2-year-old cat that could only described as a white puff ball with the amount of fur that it had. A single glance into the eyes of the cat, and boom, he found his heart melting immediately. There was no way that he could walk out of there without the cat in his arms.

After signing the required papers, he left with the animal, adopted into his care. Now getting out of the truck at the house, holding the cat in his arms, he couldn’t wait to see his new friend with Devon.

He heads inside of the house, walking through as his senses immediately light up from the smell coming from the kitchen.

“I think someone is cooking a good dinner,” he says quietly to his little companion as he heads down the hall. He enters the kitchen, noticing the pot on the stove. “Something smells good. Whatcha cooking?”

“Chicken stir…,” Devon replies as she turns around to face Ryan, stopping mid-sentence as she notices the cat in his arms. “Is that a cat?” Ryan shakes his head yes.

“I know that you’ve been having a tough time dealing with everything and trying to move forward. I mentioned something to my teammates as we talk about everything, I hope you don’t min-”

“That’s fine Ryan….” It didn’t bother her as she knew that they could trust Darrell, Chris, Ricky and Trevor with details.

“Darrell suggested that I should get you a pet because sometimes they can help calm and relax, while keeping you company. I stopped at the humane society out of curiosity, and immediately fell in love with this little guy. He’s two-years-old. His name is Snowball.”  Devon walks over, looking into the little cat’s eyes. She found her heart melting as soon as she caught a glimpse of him, as well as at the gesture from Ryan.

“He’s certainly a snowball with all that fur, and he’s certainly got the most adorable eyes. I’ve never had a pet, but I think he’ll make a welcome edition to the family.” Ryan smiles as he looks up from the cat into Devon’s eyes. “Thank you for thinking of me – well, I have to thank Darrell for the suggestion, but thank you.”

“I want to help you move forward. I want to do whatever possible for you. If it includes getting a cat and taking care of him, then I’m willing to do that.” She then takes the cat from his arms, holding it her arms as she glances at it with a smile.

“I think he’ll make a great friend, Ryan.”

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

Another weekend under his belt into the season, another disappointing run that he had to face. Despite showing speed and looking like he’d contend for a top-10 finish, he would end up 16th virtue of a pit road speeding penalty.

Just like Daytona, another mid-pack finish and another day of coming short on expectations.

“It’ll get better,” Seth tries to instill in Ryan post-race, just as he did at Daytona. “We all make mistakes. It just takes practice in getting it better. We’ve made mistakes on pit road in the past. You’ve made your mistakes. We’ll go get them at Vegas. At least we know that we have speed.” Ryan just shakes his head, no smile even trying to peak through as it did at Daytona a week before.

“It just sucks,” he comments in response. “You guys worked so hard to give me a good solid car and I messed up. It sucks, period.” Seth walks over to his young driver, feeling the same disappointment and frustration.

“Just like I told you last week – I know it sucks and understand how you’re feeling. But, sulking your head all week isn’t going to do any of us any good. Let’s take what we learned and focus on this coming weekend at Las Vegas. We’re going to get a win this year and make the Chase. Let’s use this as learning and motivation.” Ryan shook his head simply in response, hoping that his crew chief was right on all accounts. Besides, it was just two races into the season. They had lots of time to make up the lost ground.

“See you Monday.” Ryan then walks away from his crew chief.

“Ryan!” Ryan then glances back at Seth. “You’re just going to walk away disappointed without any sign of hope buddy?” Ryan lets out a sigh and shrugs his shoulders.

“I’m trying, man, I’m trying. It’s just tough.” Seth could only sympathize as he glances over at Devon.

“You know how to make that boy happy so do us all a favor, okay?” She shakes her head yes as she wraps an arm around his waist.

“Don’t worry – I’ve got it under control Seth,” she assures the crew chief with a smile. “Come on Ryan.” The pair then walk away together as a bunch of hoots and hollers escape from the crew members; they all had a theory as to what the pair would be up to next.

Chasing The Love – Chapter 102: Cupid’s Plans

Thursday

It seemed that the idea of playing cupid with Karsyn was spreading around more than originally anticipated. After the discussion with Ty and Hayley about the possibilities, Chase found himself stuck on the thought for awhile. With that in mind, he called up Darrell and asked him what he thought about the possibility of Ryan and Karsyn together.

There was only one way that Darrell was set to approach the question, and it seemed fitting with how Darrell approached most things.

“So when are you going to get a girlfriend, settle down and get married?” Darrell came out and asked randomly as Ryan looks over at him cautiously. The pair had been hanging out, as they normally did on multiple occasions, when the question seemed to come out of nowhere.

“That was an odd way to ask a question, but that will happen when the time is right,” Ryan comments as Darrell watches his friend closely. He was determined to eventually steer Karsyn’s name into the conversation.

“And when is the time right?” Ryan rolls his eyes, having grown annoyed with the discussion. While his sisters had played the role of cock-blocking when he was younger, they were now set on fixing him up with someone. He didn’t need his friends doing the same thing.

“That is when the right girl comes into my life, okay?” Darrell shook his head, easily accepting the comment. It seemed fair. Could Karsyn be that person?

“Do you have someone in mind, by chance?” Ryan couldn’t hide the look on his face as his cheeks immediately turned red with embarrassment. There was obviously someone that had caught his attention. “Alright. What’s her name and where can I find her?”

“What makes me think that I’m going to tell you? You’re liable to go tell her, or go tell someone.” Darrell shakes his head no, although he knew that he would have to tell Chase the answer regardless. “Does a certain fellow racer com-”

“Karsyn!” Ryan freezes upon Darrell’s comment and smile. “That’s amazing hat you bring you up her name.” Ryan then crosses his arms, growing curious.

“What’s going on, Darrell?” Darrell couldn’t help but hide the grin on his face as he pulled out his phone, set to text Chase. “Darrell?”

“Just by chance, Chase was trying to figure out a way to help make-up for how things went down with him and Karsyn in Daytona due to the secrets and Hayley trying to play cupid. He wanted to set her up with someone that’d work out perfectly. He, along with Ty and Hayley, came up with a short list – Hayley thought of Austin, while Chase thought of you and Cole. Chase came to me for my opinion and well, I couldn’t help but ask.” Ryan instantly felt a bundle of nerves come over him in realizing what sending of the text could mean for his future.

“So you’re now going to go blab to Chase that my eyes are set on her, and it’d be a good idea to move forward?” Darrell shakes his head yes as he goes to type the message. He got it half-typed when Ryan snatches the phone away. “That’s going to result in Chase trying to play cupid, setting us up on a date of some sort. Is that really the best thing to do after what happened?”

“If everybody has fun and all intentions are known this time, I see no problem with that. So please give me my phone so I can go forth with the message.” Ryan shakes his head no as he pushes Darrell’s phone across to the opposite end of the table. “There’s something else…”

“I’m nervous, okay? I get nervous when I’m around girls. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I chase them away by being nervous and unsure of an answer? What if…. – I can’t do dates and everything. If you go forth with this idea, I’d probably blo-”

“What if we set up a hang-out night instead rather than a formal date? It’d be me, Shelby, Chase, Alyssa, you and Karsyn? That way you have us friends to lean on.” The idea gave Ryan some comfort as it wouldn’t be a date, but it’d give him a chance to feel out the waters. Perhaps it could work.

“Fine…” Ryan then slides back the phone and Darrell instantly picks it up, immediately typing the message to Chase with a smile on his face.

Chase quickly replied back to Darrell, set to put the process into motion. If everything worked out right, they could realistically do a hang-out together at the track on Saturday the night before the race.

Taking a deep breath, he made his way through the halls of Hendrick Motorsports, stopping when he reached Karsyn’s office and peaked in.

“Got a couple minutes?” He asks, causing her to look up. She shakes her head, motioning for him to come in. Strangely, despite how odd things fell at Daytona, the pair had been able to move forward with ease. Their friendship continued as it had before, with conversation coming naturally. “This is personal, not business by the way.”

“Girl problems?” Karsyn questions and Chase shakes his head no.

“Everything is going perfectly between Alyssa and I, actually. We’re not having any issues.” Karsyn had to admit that hearing that brought a smile to her face. It was nice to see Chase happy about how things were going, considering how things had gone for a period of time before. Plus, she couldn’t help but be happy for one of her best friends in Chase and her cousin in Alyssa at the same time. “I’m not coming to you for advice, either. I was actually wondering if you wanted to hang out on Saturday with me and some friends.” Karsyn glances up from her desk, eying Chase carefully. The last time that she was approached with such an offer it resulted in the cupid mess at Daytona.

“May I ask who will be there?” Chase knew that upon releasing the names, she’d put the puzzle pieces together.

“Myself, Alyssa, Darrell, Shelby, Ryan and you. We were going to hang out, play some board games, card games, and do as we always would.” Karsyn lets out a sigh, knowing exactly what it was – a play for cupid without the word date attached. It was obvious that Darrell and Chase were trying to set up Ryan with her.

“Just admit the plan that you have in mind, Elliott.” Chase lets out a sigh as he sits down in the chair before her desk.

“Okay, so we’re trying to set you and Ryan up to spend some time together. I feel bad for how things went down at Daytona in how I let you down and there were wrong intentions across the board so I want to make it up to you. Also, don’t tell them that I told you, but Ryan has a bit of a crush on you. So it seemed perfect that this would be a way to get you together, but without doing it as a date as Ryan is shy.” Karsyn couldn’t help but admit that the idea had caught her interest. She had to admit that Ryan was pretty cute, and had fun hanging out with him through the years. Perhaps this is what she needed to rebound from everything that happened, even if it felt a little odd and uncomfortable on the surface.

“I’ll be there. Might as well enjoy some fun with friends, and see where things go.” Chase couldn’t help but smile in hearing the comment. The added edition at the end was all he needed to know that there was a possibility for chemistry between them.

Mission accomplished, he texted Darrell, satisfied with how easily it had come together. It seemed that everything was coming together easily – the talk with Alyssa, the plan surrounding Karsyn. Perhaps the next thing was to make sure the birthday plan came together just as easily.

After leaving Karsyn’s office, Chase headed back to his own office, sitting down in the chair, cell phone in hand. If he didn’t make his move now, there was no telling whether it’d come together as he was planning. Besides, he was certain that the plan would come together with all the pieces at hand. He knew that his helper would be all for it, as he’d do anything for Alyssa.

“Hello?” He hears at the other end after dialing the person’s phone number.

“Hey,” he says simply. “Listen, I need to ask you something in regards to Alyssa.”

“What is it?” He could immediately sense a concern in the voice on the other end. Shaking his head, he knew that he could’ve phrased the question better.

“Don’t worry – nothing is wrong. I am working on planning something for her birthday next week, but I need some help. Would you be willing to help?”

“You know that I’d do anything for her. What’s this birthday plan, though?” Chase smiles as that was the exact response that he had hoped to hear.

He then went forth detailing his ideas for her birthday, ranging from beginning of the day to the end of the day. As he explained everything, it seemed to be even better than he thought of originally in his head.

“Chase, that sounds perfect and of course I’d help,” he hears once he is done and the smile simply widens. Part one was now officially complete.

Now to figure out the perfect gift to go with the perfect day.