Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 164: “Look, are any of you on my side?”

Tuesday, October 31

Chase walks through the house, smiling as he enters the kitchen, wrapping his arms around her from behind.

“Something smells good….” He comments as she just smiles.

“Oh really?” She questions, before turning around to face him, lightly kissing his lips. “Well, I hope it tastes just as lovely.”

“I’m sure it will.” He then lets her go, so she can focus on dinner, going over to the fridge to grab a drink.

“Good day or bad day?” Chase glances over, shrugging his shoulders. Certainly the guys in the shop weren’t feeling peachy after the weekend, but things did go smoothly.

“Meeting goals accomplished, and ready to go kick some ass this weekend. I say it was a good day.” Sarina could see that easily happening, though her mind couldn’t help but wander.

“What about Denny?” Chase leans against the counter with a sigh.

“Not a single word spoken. But, I did receive a text and voice mail from him.” She then looks over surprised. “Something along the lines of an apology….” She then snatches his phone off of the counter, reading over the message, before handing it back over.

“I’m surprised you didn’t respond…” Chase shrugs his shoulders. He had thought about it initially, but there was no way he was going to accept an apology. You don’t lift someone’s tires off the ground by accident.

“Not worth my time, right?” He then walks back over, wrapping his arms back around her. “Besides, I have someone else I can focus on…” She just rolls her eyes.

“Did you get around to reading his apology on twitter?” Chase nods his head as he did load that when he went on to check college football updates.

Other than that, he had stayed away from reading everything else, knowing that the media was going to try and blow up the coverage to the extreme. There was no point getting warped in the midst of that?

“His apology was…umm….interesting….” Chase comments as Sarina immediately laughs.

“So that’s your response?” She questions as he shrugs his shoulders.

“It’s an interesting approach; I’ll give him that. However, Ryan is my hero.” She then looks on intrigued. “I was listening to his podcast and he goes, ‘I can kill an animal and apologize, but it doesn’t make a difference’ or something like that. Perfect! I literally texted him that I owe him ice cream.”

“So it looks like he’s getting ice cream and a basket of his favorite chocolate bars.” Chase shakes his head, not surprised by Sarina’s reaction. “Although Landon was pretty neat in how he broke down the race count factor.”

“Hence the interesting approach….” She just laughs as she focuses on finishing up dinner.

“After we’re done eating, we need to get changed. I did promise Brexton that we’d be dressed up when Samantha brought him by.” Chase nods his head, accepting. He had let Sarina pick out the costume of choice for the night, glad that it was better than what he wrote at Ryan’s party. They were going to simply be Mickey and Minnie for the night. “I still can’t believe Kyle is missing Halloween….”

“SEMA could’ve easily planned the show for another weekend.” Sarina nods her head in agreement.

They hear a knock on the door, both glancing at each other with a smile. They had finished dinner, got into their costumes, and been relaxing. Samantha had sent them a warning text that she was on her way over, and they knew that little knock belonged to a little hand. Sarina opens the door, with Chase popping out from behind her.

“Hey!” Sarina says as she smiles at the costumes by both Samantha and Brexton.

“Wow….” Chase comments in surprise as he looks at them. He never would’ve expected them to be done up based on the movie Psycho.

“Trick or treat!” Brexton says as Sabrina continues looking back, smiling. She then reaches back behind the door, grabbing the giant chocolate racecar, handing it over. “Cool! Thank you!” Brexton immediately gives Sarina a hug.

“You both look awesome,” Sabrina comments as she looks between Brexton and Samantha. “I never would’ve expected that costume…..”

“Kyle and I watched the movie a couple weeks ago,” Samantha explains. “I just fell in love immediately and knew it’d be perfect. I texted Kyle some photos and he’s just in pure joy.”

“I would be too as your make-up is perfect!” Samantha twirls around with a smile.

“You a cutie,” Brexton says as Sarina looks down at him, giving him another big hug.

“You’re always a sweetheart,” Sarina replies.

The pair embarked in some conversation, ranging from Kyle’s messages about SEMA to reflections on Sarina’s big win at Martinsville. From laughs to smiles, everything was going smooth as could be.

“Have you talked to Denny yet?” Samantha then asks mid-conversation, and Chase could only sigh. He figured she’d eventually bring it up given how Kyle and Denny were teammates.

“Sam, I’d rather not talk about this-”

“You know, I don’t think Denny really meant to do it.” Chase rolls his eyes, having expected a comment like that, as well. Being teammates, of course she would see the positives in Denny and believe that he didn’t do anything. Besides, she’d dealt with her fair of controversy in the past, thanks to Kyle. It was never Kyle’s fault when he and Brad got together, right?

“Samantha, you can say what you want. It doesn’t change my opinion on what happened.” Sarina could see the tension in Chase’s voice, and felt bad that their Halloween fun was being ruined by this.

“I think we should change the topic….” Her voice trails off as Chase keeps his eyes locked on Samantha. Instead of just moving on, he knew something needed to be said.

“I don’t mind hanging out with you and Kyle. Actually, Kyle isn’t that bad once you get to know him as we can relate on a couple different levels. But, there’s certain spots to draw the line – and that includes Hamlin. I don’t want to discuss it because we won’t come to an agreement.” Samantha lets out a sigh, though she understood where Chase stood right now.

“Okay, that’s fine,” Samantha accepts as Sarina’s eyes lock back down on Brexton once again.

“I can’t believe how cute he looks!” Sarina lets out as she picks Brexton up in his arms, spinning him around which causes a big smile on his face. “So, are you going around visiting the various driver houses?”

“I figured since it’s just me and little man, and he’d probably get tired if I took him everywhere, that I’d just hit up certain spots.”

“I can’t say I blame ya….”

“You know, it’s strange how even Brad sent a text saying to come by, too.” Sarina and Chase’s jaws drop in shock as they never would’ve expected that. If there was one thing for certain in the garage area, it was that Brad and Kyle just didn’t get along – period, no matter what. Although, admittedly, Brad had tried to soothe things over a couple times.

“Really?” Chase questions and Samantha nods her head.

“Yeah, it’s weird,” she replies. “Him and Kyle still don’t agree on a lot of things – which obviously I get why Kyle is still angry with him. But Brad wants them to come to a truce, in a wa-”

“Sort of like agree to disagree?” Sarina questions, having seen some of Brad’s previous approaches to do so, including his blog.

“That’s what I meant! So he sent me a text saying he wanted to see what Brexton was going to be for Halloween.” Chase just shook his head in surprise, as there was no way to wrap his head around that. He could only wonder what Kyle’s response was.

“That’s strange….” Chase comments as Samantha nods her head.

“That’d be like Denny and Jordan bringing Tay-“ Samantha starts.

“Samantha!” Chase and Sarina cut her off immediately, as Chase just rolls her eyes.

“Sorry, you’re right. I should just let it go…” Chase nods his head, accepting. “Actually, I better get going. We need to make these stops before it gets too late. Thank you for spoiling my prince.”

“Anytime,” Sarina says. They watch Samantha and Brexton head off together as Chase just shakes his head over the whole conversation.

“Do you think Denny put her up to asking us about things?” Chase wonders, catching Sarina’s attention as they head back inside the house.

“No, I don’t think so. I think her heart is in the right place as she’s looking out for her teammate, and friend, but just not realizing where you stand.” Chase could accept that as they reach the kitchen, sitting down across from each other. “I can’t believe I have to leave tonight…”

“Going to miss me?” She then looks over the table, giving him a look full of surprise. She had to leave late that night around 11 to catch a flight as she was taking part in Toyota’s big motorsports celebration day at their headquarters tomorrow. The manufacture was getting all of their drivers together to speak to the crowd of employees and interact with them.

“Obviously!” He smiles back in response, as he places his hand on top of hers.

“Just think – it’s only one day, and then we’ll be reunited tomorrow night before we head to Texas together. It’s just under 24 hours. We can handle it. We’re grown-ups.” She then laughs.

“Are you sure about that?” He nods his head as he leans across the table, kissing her lips.

“I’ll text you constantly if it makes you feel better. Just promise me you won’t kill Denny?” She then laughs even harder.

“I can’t that promis-”

“Sarina!” She then stops laughing, letting out a sigh.

“Alright, fine. I’ll behave.” She then focuses back on their dinner. “I wonder if Bell would offer to pay my bai-”

“Sarina!” She then looks up giggling as he rolls his eyes. “I mean it. I don’t want to hear any complaints from Joe and Kyle because you acted out of line.”

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

Wednesday, November 1

It had been a jam-packed day full of action from top to bottom.

The day started with the entire group assembling on stage, speaking to the crowd about a variety of topics. Sarina then sat and signed autographs for a couple of hours, smiling and taking pictures along the way. It was almost robotic like some employees were just collecting for the sake of doing so, but a couple of them caused bonus moments with some surprised she was a female, as well as some more congratulatory messages for her win. Their day was then completed with a tour of the factory.

With everything complete, the group was let loose and headed off separately, airport bound, ready to take the flight home and get back to their lives. Sarina couldn’t wait to see Chase later on that night, daydreaming about their hugs and cuddles already. Letting out a yawn, those cuddles were going to be perfect…

“Hey Sarina, did Chase get my text message?” Denny’s voice ruins her daydream, as she immediately rolls her eyes. She remembered seeing that message on Tuesday, chuckling to herself at Chase’s lack of response.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure,” she replies. “You’re talking about the one you sent after the race, right?”

“Absolutely.  I also sent another one on Tuesday.” Sarina could only roll her eyes, as she had seen both of them – not that Denny needed to know that detail.

“Well, if he got the one, then he got the other.” Denny figured that as much, but was caught off-guard by having no response yet.

“Yeah, I guess. I was hoping he would’ve replied by now.” Sarina knew that was not going to happen by what Chase told her. Smiling to herself, it was time to have some fun as Chase hadn’t made her promise to not do that. She had just promised to not kill him.

“Denny, he is in no mood to reply to you.” Denny lets out a sigh, remembering the anger expressed. He had hoped that would’ve faded now three days later with reasoning setting in.

“Can you tell him that I asked, and still want to talk?” Sarina rolls her eyes, knowing that’d fall on deaf ears. She actually couldn’t wait for the laughs when speaking of this conversation.

“Sure, but I don’t see how it’s going to have any point.” Denny then glances over at her, surprised.

“Sarina, you know I’m a good guy. I mean, just ask Kyle.” Sarina then stops, eyes locked on Denny. Was this discussion seriously happening?

“Denny, you’re lucky it wasn’t me that you wrecked or else I would have punched you square in the face on the backstretch. To be honestly, you’re really lucky it was Chase because at least he knows how to be respectful.” Denny rolls his eyes, growing old of the threats. Why couldn’t people see that it was an accident?

“I did not mean to wreck hi-”

“But you basically  lifted his ass entering the corner. As soon as you did that, you had to know what was going to happen. I mean, you’ve been racing long enough.” Denny knew how it panned out, but that was never the intention. Why was it different than what happened between Chase and Brad? Why was it different than moves pulled by other drivers in the past?

“It was just supposed to be a bump and run.” Christopher then stops walking, glancing back at the pair, with a laugh of his own. This was getting ridiculous.

“Really, Denny?” Christopher questions, catching Denny by surprise.

“Oh, so now you’re on her side?” Denny asks and Christopher nods his head. There was no question what happened was wrong.

“Absolutely. That was the dirtiest driving that I’ve seen since Kyle wrecked Hornaday in that truck race.” The whole group stops mid-way down the hall, jaws dropping around the circle as Kyle focuses his eyes on his young driver. Why was he the focus now?

“Hey! That’s ancient history,” Kyle comments. “Can we like refer to Kenseth and Joey instead?” Matt then crosses his arms. He was never part of the aggressive driver discussion, but now he was the second name mentioned?

“Hey! Logano totally deserved that!” Matt replies as Kyle thinks it over. Joey had been acting like an ass for quite awhile….

“Good point….”

“But I mean, Chase got into Brad so really, he’s not innocent as you all may claim, either,” Denny interrupts, working back at defending his actions, as he focuses on Sarina. “I mean, being his girlfriend, you would know whether he’s totally innocent or not.” Jaws drop once again as Sarina resists every urge to punch Denny straight in nose as Christopher and Kyle both put a hand on each of her shoulders. Erik slowly takes his phone out of his pocket, set to record any punch that is thrown if one happens, knowing Sarina’s feisty side from the sort tracks.

“Do you seriously want me to kick your ass right now?” Sarina questions as Kyle just stands there, shaking his head. It was getting harder and harder to stand up for his best friend here…

“Denny, that was uncalled for,” Kyle comments as Denny shrugs his shoulders.

“I was just trying to crack a joke-”

“Very inappropriate.” Denny lets out a sigh, as he glances around the circle of surprised faces. He almost felt like he was on an island right now.

“Alright, fine, I’m sorry. Look, are any of you on my side?” Kyle lets out a sigh, shaking his head.

“I get being aggressive and doing anything for the win because you’re right – it’s ticket to Homestead,” he starts. “Hence why I got into you. It’s just I wouldn’t have done it like you did.”

“In my world, you crossed the line between respect and being an ass,” Christopher adds.

“You don’t want to know my opinion,” Sarina states, trying to calm herself with some deep breathes.

“I guess everything you’re all saying is well deserved,” Denny finally gives in, knowing he wasn’t winning the argument no matter how hard he tried. “Just let Chase know that I asked though, okay?”

“Yeah, whatever…”

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Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 163: Chase vs. Denny

Sunday, October 29 – Martinsville Speedway

She felt her leg tap nervously as she watched the restart with 39 laps to go, seeing him pull away. Taking a deep breath, everything was fine….

She watched as he didn’t get too far out, though, watching the No. 2 Ford close the gap, silently cursing to herself. If there was anybody she didn’t want to see win, it was Brad Keselowski. Her eyes kept focused, seeing him roll the center, watching as he made the move and got by for the lead with 28 laps to go. Letting out a sigh, so much for the dream….

She shakes her head. She couldn’t think like that. There were still 27 laps now and anything was possible. It had to work out….

She had gotten herself into a relaxed state, silently hoping that Chase was able to work his way back to Brad and get around, though also feeling alright about a runner-up finish. It was a good start to this playoff round, right?

Though like everything had gone throughout the day, the whole day changed once again when the caution flew with 10 laps to go for Joey Logano having a flat tire. Taking a deep breath, the butterflies began fluttering immediately, fingers and toes tapping, nerves a flowing. Anything was possible on a late-race restart at Martinsville.

Her eyes focus on the track with five laps to go, watching Chase and Brad go down into the corner. She watches the bump from the No. 24 Chevrolet to the No. 2 Ford, fist pumping in the air as Brad slides up out of the groove and Chase rolls on by.

“All clear, take it…” She hears Eddie on the radio, her thoughts echoing the spotter.

Her eyes didn’t leave the action before her, watching as Denny quickly moved into second with Kyle in toe. Taking a deep breath, there was nowhere over as Denny was right there, set to make a move. She just glanced down for a quick second, hoping whatever came that Chase held off.

4 to go…..3 to go, and so far he had done an impressive job at the helm. He was running the perfect line, diamonding the corner to perfection, rolling the bottom. He was doing what he needed to do….

“Pushing you,” she hears Eddie over the radio as Denny gets into the back of Chase off turn two, though Chase keeps it straight as an arrow. “2 to go at the line..” She watches as Chase goes into turn three, with Denny close behind. It didn’t seem as if Denny let off the gas or anything, though, as his front bumper immediately met Chase’s rear bumper, sending the No. 24 spinning around.

“Fuck!” Sarina lets out immediately in disbelief as he stands up, shaking her head in disgust. Did that just happen? Did he just dump Chase for no bloody reason at all? Denny’s reason had to do with having no brakes or something, right? There was no way that he would just go do that….

“Douchebag!” She had to agree with Eddie’s words as her body filled with anger. She wished she could strangle Denny and each of his crew members one-by-one in that single moment. She also wished Chase wasn’t such a sweetheart and wouldn’t just go ahead and wreck the dumbass under the yellow.

“Yep, he definitely wrecked me,” she hears Chase and knew that wasn’t even up for debate. It wasn’t like Denny tried to do anything else. The replay confirmed it, too, as his bumper was direct as they come, no slowing down at all. Who in their right mind lifts someone wheel’s up entering the corner?

“I feel your pain, bro….” Eddie’s voice rang through her head as she sat back down, shaking her head in disgust. She could see the reflections on each crew member on the pit box. it was immediate disappointment, almost brink of tears for some of the guys. She could only imagine how Chase was feeling, knowing that she’d be a mix of a heartbroken and anger – actually, she was. There was also disbelief there, too. Did that actually happen?

“Did what happen what I think happened, or am I skewed?” She then hears Chase question over the radio. She shakes her head immediately, knowing how he was at times. He was so hard on himself at times, always over-critical of his own actions, obviously right now questioning whether he did the wrong thing. Clearly, he had done nothing wrong….

“Nah, he drove over your bumper and crashed ya,” Eddie replies, which deserved no other explanation.

“That’s what I figured. 10-4. Good to know. Thanks….”

As the field gets ready to start, there was only one thing that mattered in that moment – Denny better not win this race. She didn’t care who won now, even if it was Brad, as there was no way she wanted to see that No. 11 in victory lane.

She watches the restart, instantly cheering her boss as she watches Kyle dive into the corner, tagging Denny off of turn two and sending him up the track a bit as he squeezes on by.

“Thank you Kyle!” She cheers, watching him take the victory. She was happy for him – if Chase couldn’t win, then let it be her boss. However, that didn’t even begin to eliminate the heartbreak and anger that was remained.

“I feel your pain, bro,” Eddie says over the radio as Sarina just lets out a sigh.

All she wanted to do was get down there, hug Chase, hold him, and assure him that win was coming – and then kick Denny’s ass from here to the other side of the world. Her eyes then find their way t to the monitor, seeing the screens focused on the backstretch. She couldn’t help but smile as she watched Chase run into Denny on the cooldown lap – perfectly deserved.

“Screw him!” Eddie cheers on the radio as Sarina could only laugh in agreement. A punch to the head would be fitting right now.

She watches as the pair come to a stop, both starting to climb from their cars, eyes focused on Chase. She knew how he was when he got angry. she knew the feisty side that he could show, if warranted. Anybody who raced him in late models knew that. She couldn’t help but cross her arms with a bit of pride watching.

“Alright, face-to-face guys, outside the car…” Eddie dictates the action over the radio as Sarina’s eyes stay locked on the screen.

How could this happen? Why did this happen? And what the hell was Denny Hamlin thinking?

Chase was in total belief of what had just transpired in a matter of a couple of laps. One minute, he could potentially see his first career victory; next minute, he was turned around backwards.

It was one thing to bump a guy, give them the bump-and-run, rough them up a little. However, the key was that you didn’t totally wipe the guy’s chances of a decent day or result in heavy damage to his car. You also gave him a chance, should he save it and get back to you, to return the favor.

It was another thing in entirely just wipe a guy out no questions asked – and that’s what had him riled up. He wasn’t going to stand for that, no matter who it was that did it to him to begin with.

That’s why following the event, he made sure to go looking for him, set to send a message and tell him he wasn’t happy and wouldn’t put up with that bullshit. Driving into him was satisfaction for the frustration that he was experiencing.

Following the bumps and seeing Denny stop short of pit road, it didn’t change his views at all. Instead, he was set to actually give him word for word what he thought of him. Throwing the steering wheel on the dash, and the belts off whatever direction they’d go, he began to climb out, set to meet him eye to eye. It was time to be a man and face the consequences of what he did…

“That was bullshit running into me after the checkered!” Denny yells to start, not even fully climbed out. Chase had to chuckle to himself and look back in disbelief. Was this guy serious?

“You’re kidding me, right?” Chase questions back in return as he finishes climbing out, watching Denny come walk up to him face-to-face.

“No matter what, that was ridiculous…..” Chase couldn’t believe this at all….

“You wrecked me….”

“I had someone right on my bumper…” Chase almost laughed back in his face, knowing that wasn’t true as he had glanced up in the mirror once Denny had bumped him off of turn two. He knew exactly where they stood entering the corner.

“There was two car lengths between you and the other guy…”

“I just tried to move you….” Chase almost laughed again, really not believing he was hearing this, especially from someone who had been racing as long as Denny had been.

“You wrecked me, plain and simple…”

“I did not mean to wreck you. I just meant to give you a bump….”The intentions of the actions didn’t really matter at this point. Besides, if you’re going to attempt to use the bumper, you have to know it’s a possibility. Why wouldn’t Denny just own up to it already?

“But you just wrecked me!”

“You got into the 2 car. What’s the difference?” Chase really wanted to laugh in his face now. This was unbelievable….

“Come on man….”

“I got into you just like you got into Brad…” Except Brad wasn’t turned around backwards.

“Come on man…..”

“You know it was just hard racing.”

“You had my back wheels lifted up going into the corner!”

“Whatever…” Denny then turns on the heels, heading back to his car at the request of the NASCAR Official as Chase just shakes his head in disgust.

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

Chase rolls up to where he was told to stop on pit road, sitting back in the seat, shaking his head. He almost broke out laughing as he thought about the excuses and reasons that Denny tried to use for his part in what happened. The anger also hadn’t left him at all, either, along with the disappointment. It was another week that he had been mere inches of winning, and come up short again.

“I want you to be smart here,” he hears, glancing out the window to see Jimmie standing there. “Be smart, watch your words, and don’t lose your true self. Don’t stoop to his level because he’s an ass. You did a great job, and you will win.” He gives Jimmie a simple nod, used to receiving the odd tip of advice here and there.

He climbs out of the car, giving the couple of crew guys a quick hand-shake and nod as he turns around, crossing his arms. There was no way he was just letting this go and moving on as anger was certainly not leaving him no matter what he tried. There was also that sense of disbelief.

His eyes wandered over to where the TV cameras had stopped, getting Denny’s side of the coin first. He actually brought himself to laugh in hearing the amount of boos that were being let out by the crowd. You know you royally messed up when your own home track is mad at you…

He patiently stand there, set to give his take on the action, knowing it was going to be kept simple and to the point.

“My mom always said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. He’s not worth my time,” he tells NBC.

Sarina couldn’t help but smile off to the side at the comment, as her heart remained torn in pieces at what had transpired. It was taking every urge to stop herself from going over and kicking Denny’s ass.

After the interviews were done, she walked over and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, just holding him, as the crew joined her.

“Hey, if he wants to race that way, you know what to do next time,” Alan tells him. “I’m sure he’ll be fine when you lift his back wheels going into the corner at Texas.” Chase lets back a small smile, knowing what Alan was thinking.

However, that wasn’t his style. Revenge and anger and dirty driving were not morals that he had grown to know. Instead, it was focus and driving as hard as you could to put what happened in the rearview.

“Hey, I just wanted to say I hate what happened to you guys,” a new voice pops in from Denny’s crew chief Mike Wheeler. “That was bad…”

“Go tell your smartass driver that,” Sarina spits out, keeping her arms around Chase.

“Excuse me?” Chase then wraps an arm around her in return.

“You heard her,” he starts. “All Denny could do was give me 20 million excuses. Go…” He then turns around, facing away from Mike, but letting his eyes land on Sarina right away.

“I’m so sorry,” she simply says, pulling him close as she puts her head against his chest. “Denny is an asshole. You’ll get that win soon…”

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

“That was utterly insane!” Ryan comments from his seat in the plane.

Following the race, it was a short flight back to North Carolina from Virginia with Ryan, Chase and Sarina all boarding together. For all of them, it was great to just get out of Martinsville as soon as possible.

“But I got to say, I’m proud of you,” Ryan continues as Chase keeps his eyes focused ahead.

“Why is that?” He questions as Ryan smiles, reading over the various tweets on twitter.

“You made the world proud, too. You did a great job from your interview to standing up to him. That’s what you need to do. I’m impressed…” He then glances up from his phone. “Although, you should’ve punched him on behalf of the whole field. He freaking turned down across me and Kurt!”

“So why did you punch Kevin?” Sarina asks, referring to Ryan’s visit with Kevin Harvick. She had been scrolling through twitter herself before they left, and saw a clip of Ryan giving Kevin a small punch. “Well according to him, I brake-checked his ass off the corner earlier in the race and fucked him over at the end of the day. I proudly told him that I wasn’t doing that at all during the race, and it was all freaking Denny’s fault at the end. Needless to say, we disagreed and had a small punch fest.”

“Crazy….” Ryan didn’t care about his deal with Kevin, though. He knew that was going to be forgotten within days. On the other hand, that wouldn’t be the case with Denny….

“So what are you going to do about Denny there, Mr. Pilot?” Chase had been toying with a bunch of thoughts since the conclusion of the race. He wasn’t a dirty racer, but payback was certainly entering his mind big time for what had happened. He wouldn’t mind something happening at Texas….

“I don’t know,” Chase answers. “We’ll just have to wait and see….”

“How about we just forget about it for one night and have some fun?” Sarina suggests, knowing that she could use a good distraction after the chaos.

“Isn’t that why we’re going to Blaney’s epic Halloween party?”

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

Chase glances at himself in the mirror at Ryan’s house, shaking his head. How did he get himself into this mess wearing this costume? He had seen Ryan’s Woody costume and Jordan’s Buzz Lightyear costume and both felt more comfortable than this.

He had totally forgotten about the party, and had not gone costume shopping. So prior the weekend, he informed Ryan in hopes his best friend would help him out. Certainly, Ryan did as he had an extra costume and would allow Chase to borrow it. He didn’t expect it to be this, though.

He almost felt scandalous, a little ridiculous, and knew for sure there was too much skin showing below the waist. Feeling a little shy, he knew every person would probably be analyzing his package.

“Damn….” He hears, recognizing Sarina’s voice and smiling. “I know you bike a lot, but holy damn tone in those legs…” He had to laugh to himself, as he spun to face her. An immediate smile formed, liking her voice – Batgirl. They’d be Batgirl and Robin that night.

“You look just as sexy right now,” he answers back in response. The black leather of the outfit clang to every sweet dear curve on her body, with the skirt long enough to cover but short enough to tease everything below.

“As soon as I heard Ryan had a Robin costume for you, I got Samantha to run a small errand for me. I figured we could match.” She then walks over closer, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. “You make one amazing superhero, but damn, I didn’t expect you to show off as much….”

“Is it too much? I almost feel like chang-”

“No, it’s fine; it’s absolutely fine. Besides, everybody down there will be too caught up in the party to realize. Now, are you ready to go have some fun?”

“Absolutely…” He then takes her by the hand, leading her out of the room and to the stirs with a smile.

It was time to leave behind the Martinsville disappointment and frustration for a night…..

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 154: Frustration

Friday, September 29 – Dover International Speedway

“I am going to miss you this weekend,” Chase says as he sits in the lounge of the trailer.

“I am going to miss you more,” Sarina replies. He just smiles, as that response was no surprise from previous conversations. It was one of those split weekends as she was off to Las Vegas, while he was at Dover.

“Just remember – it’s the last weekend that we have this problem.”

“That makes the heart swell and feel good. Hopefully I make it worth my while out here…” He knew what she was eluding too, and he hoped the same – even if he wouldn’t be there to celebrate with her.

“Just remember to stay focused, do your best, and don’t be too hard on yourself. I meant what I said. You’re having a great rookie year.” It seemed like he was on repeat, saying the same words every week, but he was going to do that till they soaked in and meant something for her.

“That’s the plan, superstar. You better do the same. Put together a nice solid run and get yourself into the next round. One race at a time, right?” He smiles, knowing that was the goal at hand. It also felt good to have both Alan and Josh back in the fold.

“Exactly, and let’s make sure we call each other every night at a decent hour, too. I got to remember the time change.” Being that she was in Las Vegas, she was three hours behind him. Hence why he asked her to call that morning when she woke up, not wanting to call too early.

“Three hours, that’s all you have to remember. That, or you can call me an hour after my final time on track so you know I’m available and it’s not too late for you.” He liked how she immediately come up with a plan.

“Alright. Well, I got to go as practice is soon so I will talk to you later. I miss you, and I love you.”

“Love you, too. Stay safe, babes. Bye Chase.”

“Bye Sarina.” He hangs up, leaning back as he lets out a sigh. There was no time to focus on her any longer.

Taking a deep breath and standing up, he knew that the focus had to shift to that No. 24 Chevrolet. They had to have three good practices this weekend, qualify well, and run well, if they wanted to be in the next round.

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

Friday, September 29 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sarina was pleased with how her first practice went as the truck felt decent, and they’d shown enough speed to put themselves in the top-10. Now it was just carrying that forward in the second session, and tomorrow.

“So you’re happy?” Kyle’s voice on the other end of the phone catches her attention.

“So far,” she answers as she relaxes in the hauler. Like every other weekend, she spent time debriefing not only with Marcus, but also with the boss, even if by phone on weekends like these. It was worth it every time as he had good advice.

“That’s good. Just follow this advice, though – try the high side in the second practice. You may be surprised.” She had to chuckle, knowing that was coming after her conversation with Marcus. She was a bottom feeder, and it showed during the first session. But at a place like Las Vegas, trying everywhere was critical.

“I’ll give it a shot, just for you and Marcus. Are you happy now?” She hears a chuckle at the other end.

“Actually, I’m greatly satisfied. Did you see where I was on the speed chart?” She smiles, having checked those speeds before her session. She was impressed by her boss but not surprised, and satisfied with the boyfriend.

“You’re doing great so far. Now let’s see if you can actually beat Truex on Sunday for a change.” She knew the comment would sting, but it was always fun to pick on Kyle a little bit.

“Are you sure you don’t want to be here on Sunday?” She was caught off-guard by him asking the question, but should’ve known it was coming. With being in Las Vegas, he had offered to fly her to Dover for Sunday’s Cup race so she could be there for Chase. However, she felt it was just not necessary as Chase would be fine by himself. Besides, she wanted to fly at least as possible if she could help it.

“I appreciate the offer, Kyle, but it’s fine. Chase will be fine one weekend without me.” Based on the phone conversation earlier, she knew that he’d probably prefer she accept the offer, though.

“But will you be fine?” She then lets out a sigh, shaking her head. When was she ever known to solely rely on a guy?

“I’m a grown woman, Mr. Busch. I can handle myself. How about you just focus on kicking ass this weekend, okay?”

“Alright, fine. Don’t say I never offered though. Good luck…”

“Thanks, and same to you. Bye Kyle.”

“Bye Sarina.”

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

Friday, September 29 – Dover International Speedway

Chase had to look back at the scoring monitor, decently satisfied. It wasn’t the best qualifying effort, but it was also not their best. It also didn’t help that he had just posted the slowest speed of the drivers in the third round. But still, starting 12th for Sunday wasn’t too shabby.

Knowing they were done for the day, he begins his walk back to the hauler and change. He debated sticking around and watching the K&N Pro Series event, or going to grab a bite to eat. Either way, it still felt a little weird not having his best friend to help make the decision with him.

“Chase!” He hears and glances back, rolling his eyes. He would’ve preferred to finish this walk without being bothered, but that obviously wasn’t happening.

“Hey Denny,” he says as his fellow competitor catches up with him.

“Hey. Where’s Sarina this weekend?” Chase was caught off-guard by the question as Denny was the first person to ask. He obviously didn’t follow the truck series schedule. Furthermore, why did he care?

“Las Vegas for the truck race. Where else would she be?” Denny felt like smacking himself in the head. That should’ve been obvious.

“Right, I’m sorry. I totally forgot about their schedule.” Chase just shakes his head, already wishing the conversation was over. “Bet it feels good to have Alan and Josh back this weekend.”

“Obviously…” Denny knew he had started off the conversation on the wrong nerve based on the responses, but felt a turnaround was possible.

“Tell me that you knew they wouldn’t get away with the crap they pulled there. I mean, there’s no way that they could’ve thought they’d get away with that.” Chase lets out a sigh, having grown annoyed of talking about it already.

“I didn’t know what they were up to, and that’s their decision. Listen, nice seeing you, but I need to go.” Chase then picked up the pace, hopefully Denny just simply obliged and headed another direction. He really didn’t need this discussion right now.

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

Saturday, September 30 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sarina leans back against the truck following Saturday night’s truck race, letting out a sigh. She actually wished she was heading to Dover now as it would be a good way to forget the night.

She had started off great, running up front and looking poised for a good strong finish. However, the handling faded during the second half and she fell back some positions. Unable to fix the handling or make up ground, she ultimately crossed the finish line in 13th – exactly where she started.

“That sucked….” She comments as she takes a sip from a bottle of water.

“Yeah,” Marcus agrees with her as he glances over his notes. “I’m sorry. I tried everything I could.” She knew of the adjustments that they’d gone through, knowing it wasn’t for lack of effort.

“You did a great job from your perspective, Marcus. There’s nothing else you could’ve done. I maybe could’ve been a bit better on my feedback to you, or maybe tried a different line. We did what we could.” He nods his head in agreement, still not happy about it.

“Live and move on, right?” She nods her head. “We got a week off so I’m going to go through everything and make sure that we’re on our A-game for Talladega.” Her thoughts paused immediately as she remembered the plan for next week.

“Ah shit!” He then looks at her confused. “I told Chase that this was our last weekend apart. Well, that was a lie. He’s going to be at Charlotte, and I’m going to be at Winchester.”

“Right, because you agreed to run the Winchester 400 for Kyle?” She nods her head, remembering that discussion. She absolutely adored late model racing, and knew she needed a break from the chaos that was ensuing at the NASCAR level. It was why she agreed to take a weekend away to get some late model driving in. She wondered now, though, if that was the right decision.

“I absolutely want to be there for Chase and support him, and I damn well hate missing his races. But, I couldn’t pass up the chance. I mean, I love late models so much and I haven’t gotten to run as much as I wanted this year.” Marcus could understand why, seeing the chaos that had gone on in their lives.

“Chase will understand. You just need to explain why…” She nods her head, knowing that he wouldn’t say a thing even if he wasn’t happy. That’s just how he was – always making sure things were good for them both, no matter what. “By the way, it seems things are quiet on a court front for once…”

“We handed in our schedules and they’re supposed to work around those. Ultimately, it doesn’t work with the judge’s schedule that well so hence why we haven’t returned to court in Florida for my brother in what seems like forever. I’m supposed to speak next as to what happened. I’m ready for it. I’m not letting him get away with anything. When it comes to Bethany and Allison, it’s in the jury’s hands as to whether they want to lock Allison up for her doings or not.”

“You’d think the jury would’ve decided by now…” Sarina could accept that perspective, as it had been a couple weeks since Allison stated her full confession as to what happened.

“It’s a tough decision for them, I guess. Do you find fault in her actions or sum it up to a threat? I mean, if it was up to me, you know where she’d be right now.” Marcus could sympathize with that as he was in agreement.

“And until that’s decided, Bethany is on hold?” Sarina didn’t know what was up there, nor did she care. All that mattered to her was all guilty parties are held behind bars.

“I guess. I don’t know, nor do I care. I’m just glad that she’s finally been caught for being a total asshole.” Marcus laughs, though fully understood the viewpoint.

“Well, I do hope it works out for you both and Chase. You guys deserve happiness, and we’re going to get that first win soon.” She smiles, knowing that Marcus was right, as the next couple weeks produced some great opportunities. She then felt her phone buzz, glancing at it.

“Oh great, of course…” Marcus then looks at her confused. “Jury has reached a verdict on Alison, and they’re not waiting until Monday to give it out. So looks like I’m headed to Indiana instead of home, while Chase races this weekend. Isn’t that just swell?”

“I’m coming with you….” She nods her head, accepting, knowing support of any kind would be nice.

***********

Sunday, October 1 – Indiana Court Room

Sarina’s eyes focused on the floor as she watched Alison walk in, the judge file in, and the head jury member stand with his envelope in hand. Why was her stomach flip flopping so much?

“The defendant pled guilty and requested no time in jail due to coercion,” the judge begins. “How does the jury find the defendant in relation to the charges?”

“We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty, and therefore wave all charges,” the head juror states, causing Sarina’s jaw to drop immediately.

Sure, Bethany had threatened her. Sure, Allison was probably scared for her life in some ways. But to totally just let her off of every single charge? There had to be some guilt associated with the fact that she had followed the steps, cornered Chase, and almost succeeded in accomplishing what Bethany wanted.

“Thank you,” the judge states. “Ms. Reynolds, you may be released without any re-precautions. Let this be a warning to you about who you choose to associate with, and how you choose to handle situations. Court adjourned!”

The court room immediately begins to file out as Sarina sits there completely stunned and in shock still. How was this happening?

“If you would like, we can file a restraining order request against her for both you and Mr. Elliott,” the prosecutor states as she faces Sarina. “I know it’s not much at the end of the day with what she put you through, but it is something and security for the future.” Sarina nods her head, accepting the narrative, almost laughing back in response. It seemed ridiculous now.

“Restraining order is just a piece of paper,” she states as she stands up. “It doesn’t fix what she did, nor does it stop her from doing it again. You have to love our justice system, right?”

Sarina then turns and heads out of the court room without a single word as Marcus just follows quietly in return. He knew if she wanted to talk or say something, she would offer the first glimpse.

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

Sunday, October 1 – Dover International Speedway

Following a slew of media interviews, Chase returns back to the trailer, closing the door behind him and just leaning back against the counter.

“Fuck!” He could only let out as he reflected back to the final laps of the race just a half hour ago.

He had been leading and looking set to finally break through for his first career victory. However, lap traffic was another thing and he found himself stuck behind Ryan Newman. Fearing the car wouldn’t work up high, he stayed in the groove he was in, hoping a bit of respect would eventually be shown. Instead, Kyle was able to run him down, pass him, and score the win – with Chase finishing second instead.

Since that moment, those laps had been going through his mind repeatedly as he wondered what would’ve happened if he would’ve taken the chance. Would he have made it by Ryan? Would he have stopped Kyle from chasing him down or passing him? Would he have finally broke through for his first win?

Like he had earlier this year, another mistake had cost him a shot at finally being able to celebrate in victory lane like he desired.

Frustration, anger – it just seemed to consume him and matched perfectly when he looked over his text messages, seeing how Allison was just getting off scot-free after everything she had done. How does someone just get away with drugging someone and bombing a bunch of others like that? It didn’t even seem fair.

He notices the door crack open a little, expecting Alan or another crew member as he glances over. He was almost ready to yell back and tell them to go jump in a lake with how he was feeling at that moment. Instead, he was caught with his guard down when he saw Jimmie instead.

“Can we talk?” Jimmie asks quietly as he takes a careful slow step inside.

“What about?” Chase questions in response as he focuses his eyes back forward on the cabinets.

“Those last lap couple of laps, and what you’re feeling. I have some advice that may help you…” Chase glances over slightly, before turning back forward. He wanted to run and hide and just dwell in the disappointment and frustration. But, that wouldn’t make things better for the future. If he wanted to move forward, he needed to figure it out and do what he needed to do so this didn’t repeat itself again. Maybe listening to Jimmie was a good idea.

“I’m all ears….”

Beautiful Nightmare – Chapter 6: Tired @ Work

I gave you love

Gave you everything you asked for

And this is what I get

The silence only fills my head with noise

 

 

Denny lets out a yawn as he walks through the shop to where he had to be, set for another day of commercials. With hardly any sleep the night before, he was ready to get done as soon as possible so he could go back home.

“Hey, you don’t look like someone who got sleep after I left last night,” he hears and rolls his eyes as he looks over at Kyle.

“Maybe it’s cause I didn’t get that much sleep,” Denny comments as Kyle lets out a sigh.

“I told you that you should’ve come back to my place, or we should’ve talked longer.” Denny continued to ignore him, but figured he was probably right. “So, what was on your mind so much last night?”

“More nightmares of her, obviously. From not recognizing the first signs, to one of our initial fights at the track, to the deal at Bristol last year. It just seems everything keeps revolving around in my head.” Kyle could see that, based on Denny’s actions. He then stopped him as he reached where he was supposed to be.

“Have you thought about what I said in talking to someone?” Denny lets out a sigh, wishing to avoid the discussion. He didn’t feel there should be any need to talk to someone, whether he knew them or a stranger, about some girl. Break-ups happened every day.

“I’m fin-”

“Not sleeping and drinking your pain away is not fine, Hamlin.” Denny lets out another sigh, focusing his eyes elsewhere.

“Listen, we can deal with this later. I have a job to do today.” He then takes a deep breath, heading into the room and set for the list of commercial productions on the docket for the day.

He got through each of them with ease, followed by some on-phone interviews, not saying a single complaint. His focus was kept on them, getting through it as quickly as possible, not letting the thoughts of Diane fill any voids in his mind. He just had to stop thinking about her and all the pain, and everything would be okay.

“That’s all for today,” his PR rep says after awhile and he lets out a sigh. “Thanks for your patience and coming in today.”

“Thank you,” he simply replies as he watches the door to his office close.

He then stands up, glancing at himself in the mirror as he snatches his t-shirt and jeans off the back of a chair. With everything in the books, he could change out of his firesuit back into something comfortable, relax, and work towards getting some sleep that night.

He slips the firesuit off easily, followed by slipping on the jeans accordingly. He then looks up at himself in the mirror, eyes setting in on the scar that remained on his shoulder.

Denny walks into the house, taking a deep breath as he leans back against the door. He walks into the front room, eyes setting on Diane.

“We need to talk,” he tells her as she looks over, confused.

“About?” She questions as he glances down towards the floor.

“Us, and this relationship.” He then walks further into the room, sitting down on the couch. “Listen, I love you, probably will always love you as there are certain things that make me amazed by you. But, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t handle the pain anymore. I can’t handle the late nights, the bruises, trying to pretend nothing is wrong. I can’t handle the lies, and I can’t handle you. I’m through, Diane. You need to move out.” She then gives him a surprised look.

“So you’re breaking up with me, Denny? Haven’t you forgot about our deal?” He shakes his head no with a sigh. He knew it wasn’t going to be pretty if she revealed the truth, but what was he supposed to do? He couldn’t do this any longer.

“Go ahead. Tell everybody. Show everybody. I don’t care. I can’t do this, Diane. We’re done.” He then stands up and goes to leave the room, unable to face her any longer. As much as he hated her faults, he still loved her. It made this extra tough to do. “You can leave now.”

“You’re not getting rid of me that easy, Hamlin.” She then stands up and walks over to him, wrapping her arms around him. He grabs them, placing them off of her as he turns to face her. He had to make sure she knew the truth – it was over.

“I am, Diane. I’m through. Leave or else I’ll call the cops for trespassing.” She then leans in for a kiss, but he backs up at the last minute. She then reaches out, brushing his cheek.

“What about the kisses? What about the love? What about the sex?” He knew he’d miss the kisses and the amazing sex, but it was worth it.

“We’re don-”

“I’ll change, I’ll be better. I told you that I’m going to work at it.” He shakes his head no with a sigh.

“You’ve been saying that for six months. Diane, I can’t do this anymore so leave!”

“You bitch!” She then pushes him when he’s least expecting it, forcing him down on his back as he lets out a groan. “I can’t believe you’d do this to me!” She then gets down to his level, set to pin him on the ground, using the weakness she knew of his knee to her advantage as she went to pin that first. He then pushes her back before she can though, catching a look of surprise. “Oh so that’s how it’s going to be?”

“I told you we were done.” He then goes to reach for his phone, wishing he had of called sooner. Just as his fingers clasp the plastic, he feels a smack, sending the phone sliding across the floor.

“And I told you that we could work it out.” He then lets out a sigh as he sits up.

“We’re far beyond that point, Diane. I can’t keep lying for your sake.” She lets out an aggravated sigh as she stands up, walking towards the front door. “Goodby-”

“You’re not getting rid of me that easy.” She then turns on her heels, picking up a photo from the sideboard and bringing it over to him, where he still sat on the floor. “What about these happy moments? What about this time in victory lane just a month ago? What about the smiles here at Daytona?” He lets out a sigh as he hated the thought of her connected to his lone Daytona 500 win.

“Those aren’t directed to you, but rather the happiness of finally accomplishing my dream to win the biggest race of them all. I forced that smile with you to keep everybody off our case. Now, like I said, go ahead and tell everyone.”

“So that’s all that I mean to you?” She then takes the photo frame, smashing it on the ground. “After everything I’ve done for you, that’s all I mean?” She then stands up, whacking the other photo frames off in one swift motion as he lets out a sigh.

“I’m sorry you’re hurt, but I told you, I can’t do thi-”

“Let me guess – Kristy came back into your life? Or was it Janessa this time, Hamlin?” He then lets out a sigh, wishing he could be with one of them rather than Diane right now.

“There was no other girl that affected this decisi-”

“Oh, so it was Larissa?” She then walks back over. “Or how about Franchesca? I heard she called the other day looking for her favourite lover. Gonna go give her a booty call after I leave?” Denny shakes his head no, knowing he was going to probably be stuck in his own sadness for awhile. “Well, there’s no way that it’s happening on my watch just like that.” She then picks up a piece of the broken glass, chucking it at him as it digs into his shoulder.

“Seriously?”

“When I get back, get your mind off this trip and know that you belong to me, Denny.” She then grabs her purse, leaving the house as he places his hand over the cut, feeling the blood seep out as pain filled him everywhere.

“Denny?” He snaps out of his thoughts as he looks back towards the door. “Woah man, are you okay?” He then lets out a sigh as he goes back to putting his shirt on as he was.

“I’m fine Wheels,” he tells his crew chief, before turning around to face him. “What’s up?”

“I was wanting to talk a bit about this upcoming weekend at Martinsville if you had some time before leaving.” Denny then shakes his head yes as he walks over to the desk, sitting down in the chair.

“I’m all ears, bud.” Mike keeps walking over, eyes focused on Denny as he sits in the chair before him.

“Are you sure? I mean, you seemed pretty spaced out when I came in here. Everything alright?” Denny shakes his head yes as he fumbles around with some papers on his desk, hoping to get him off the case. “Denny, everybody knows what happened. If there’s something going on, you can ta-”

“There’s nothing going on, Wheels. So let’s just focus on what you want to talk about.” Mike takes a deep breath, knowing there was no way of getting through to Denny. He just hoped that whatever was going on, his driver started to handle it properly sooner than later.

Beautiful Nightmare – Chapter 5: Continued Nightmares

You’re a beautiful nightmare

And nothing can wake me up from you

 

April 2016

Unable to sleep, he flipped through the DVR and settled on re-watching a replay of the 2016 Daytona 500.

Amidst the chaos of his personal life, he had walked away with the biggest win of his career – the Daytona 500. He had been able to enjoy the week surrounding that with peace. He remembered the fun he had with the team in victory lane, followed by the partying afterwards. He remembered the week’s worth of interviews, trips throughout the United States, and how much fun it turned into.

He couldn’t think of possibly wiping that smile off his face. It was that week he felt free, confident, and set to tackle the year ahead with the ease.

Closing his eyes, he wondered if he could get back to that thought now a couple months later.

 

April 2015

Denny climbed out of the car under the red flag for rain, biting his tongue as he went to turn his head.

“Denny, are you okay?”  He hears from his teammate, as he goes to turn his head in the voice’s direction. He then lets out another moan as he changes his mind on that.

“My neck is hurting,” he answers simply. “I think I pulled something.” He then walks away from the car with Kyle, heading over to the team’s pit box. “I’m going to go get some ice, some Tylenol, and hopefully it’ll chill out.”

“Hope it works out.”  He then walks away from Kyle, letting out a sigh.

He knew why his neck was hurting. It was obvious based on the past couple of nights. He had thought about telling someone about the deal he made with Diane, and reached out to an old female friend. Well, it turned out that Diane was watching at all times and caught the interaction. She made sure to restate her claim that night, throwing the blackmail back at him. She followed it up by demanding sex, among other things.

He threatened to tell someone, but she said to him, ‘And who is going to believe you?’ The thought rang in his mind so he kept quiet, not stating a single word about what happened. However, thanks to her grabbing him and pulling him back by the shoulder, it was obvious that she had done something based on the amount of pain he was feeling.

Throughout the rain delay, he spent time with the trainers at Joe Gibbs Racing, getting a massage among other things on his neck, trying to cool down the pain. However, nothing worked.

With already having a win a couple weeks later, Joe Gibbs suggested putting Erik Jones in the car for the rest of the event.  Denny, knowing he couldn’t stand the pain much longer, simply accepted.  Perhaps some nice relaxation would heal it, while clearing his mind. Maybe he could then do the right thing with Diane.

“You better not say anything as to why you’re sitting out,” she whispers in his ear as she runs her nail roughly across his neck. He then glances at her, almost like a child frightened by the punishment they could receive.

“I’ve got this under control,” he answers. “I’ll simply tell them that I pulled a muscle or something.”

“Good boy. Then we can get back to our business.” She then gives him a kiss on the cheek  before watching him walk off with the team.

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

“So you pulled something in the car?” Kyle asks post-race as Denny lets out a sigh.

“TV excuse,” he answers, truthfully. “Diane and I had a fight, and she pulled me back and it’s been bugging me since then.” Kyle then looked at Denny with surprise.

“Dude, really?” Denny lets out a sigh. “So what are you going to do?” Denny thought about spitting out the details right then and there. However, a glance from her in the distance told him otherwise.

“It was a stupid disagreement. We’ve already talked it over. I don’t see anymore issues.”

“That’s fine, but if for some reason you need a place to stay or someone to talk to, come find me.  I’m here if you need a friend.” Denny accepted that, putting that in the memory bank. He knew when he grew enough courage he’d take him up on the offer.

 

“Ugh!!!” He lets out a frustrated sigh as he sits up in the bed for the third time that night. “Why didn’t you say something that night? Why didn’t you just spill it? Why did you have to let that witch scare you? Why did you have to think you could change her ways? Why did you have to care, or create that damn book anyway?”

He then gets out of the bed, walking to the dresser. He rips it open, taking out the familiar book as he lets out a sigh. He was glad that the police had been quick to find her before she could release the book – he had to admit even speaking with Kyle that he was worried about that being released.

He then walks downstairs, walking out on to the back porch, chucking it as far as he could over the railing. He then turned around, leaning back against it, let his legs give out and sat right there against it.

“Nobody said this was going to be easy,” he starts. “You’ll figure it out, somehow. You just need to forget about her so you can sleep tonight.”

He then yawns, glancing in through the sliding door at the stove. It was already 5 in the morning, which meant he was supposed to getting up in three hours and beginning to get ready for the day.

How was he supposed to make it through everything he had to do?

“Why can’t I think of anything else when I close my eyes?” He questions as he stands up and heads inside. He thought about reaching for where the bottle was stored in the cabinet, but stopped himself a he remembered the conversation with Kyle. “No, I can’t let her win this battle. I can’t let her take over me. I can’t do that.”

He then walks back through the house, returning back to his room as he flopped back in the bed once again. Closing his eyes, he hoped that being dead-tired resulted in finally being able to sleep without a thought of her.

Though he knew that was going to be near to impossible as no matter how much she hurt him, he admitted that he loved her dearly and wished they could’ve had a future together.

Beautiful Nightmare – Chapter 4: Sleepless Nights Con’t

My eyes are closing and I’m scared

Cause I only dream of you

 

Following the shower, he dries himself on before glancing in the mirror.

 

Letting out a yawn, he knew that he needed to get some sleep somehow. He had a big day tomorrow – a couple interviews, followed by filming a commercial for a sponsor. There was no way that he could show up to all that feeling as tired as he was.

 

Though, as he stood there, he noticed the scar that remained on his shoulder from that night. His eyes fixate on it, remembering how the piercing glass through her skin, her trademark left on him, had changed him. It wasn’t as bad as the back spasms that plagued him for months, but it was the turning point. Seeing the blood seep down that night, combined with the rest of the night, he knew the game of survival was a game he wouldn’t win with her. It was why he had called Kyle that night to come, and go get some help.

 

Shaking his head, he knew thinking about that would lead to nowhere. Instead, he had to focus his mind on something else as he walked down the short hallway back to the bedsroom.

 

Flopping down in the bed wearing nothing but his boxers, he let his mind think back to one of his most recent on-track wins – the Daytona 500 – and how excited he was. He kept telling himself over and over that sleep would allow that feeling to return because he could go to the track, win races, and use it as a distraction.

 

He knew it was a good possibility, heading to Martinsville Speedway that weekend, a place that he had won at five times prior. As he heard the familiar clock chime being top of the hour, his eyes drifted closed with dreams of bringing another one through the door.

 

He walks into the house, taking a deep breath. Despite his thoughts that they’d work out these small disagreements, Diane continued to hold them above his head. Knowing that it was getting to be a distraction on-track, he knew something had to be done.

 

“Hamlin, you said you wanted to talk?” She says from her vantage point on the couch. She was sitting there, straight-up, legs crossed, eyes locked on him. She knew that something was up and it wasn’t good, and he hated that feeling – so much for using surprise to his advantage.

 

“Yeah, I do want to talk actually,” he states as he slips his shoes off by the front door. He then walks into the front room, debating between remaining standing, sitting down, or retreating to the kitchen for a drink. “We need to have a talk about the past couple of weeks, obviously. As you’ve noticed, my mood has been shit and it’s affected on-track performance enough that the guys are asking way too many damn questions. Listen, we’ve been having issues here and I think we should call it quits if this is going to continue.” He watches an instant look of surprise form on her face. Perhaps she had thought he was going to say something else.

 

“You’re serious, right? So because you can’t handle my worries about your past, you’re going to break things off? I mean, you told me that I was the best girl for you, the one that you’ve been searching for. You told me that we connected right away – and we had the most amazing sex that you had ever experienced.” He couldn’t deny that, but knew there had to be another sex goddess out there – with a more understanding personality. A bit of guilt formed in her words, though. Perhaps she was right and he was to blame for the constant questions.

 

“I get that you’re concerned, and I answered to those concerns right from the beginning – I love you, and don’t want any other girl in my life, so I kissed those hoes goodbye. However, it seems that you can’t understand that – hence the repeated questions that you’ve asked. I can’t take always being questioned about my intentions.” It felt better to get it out there in the open and get the pressure off of his chest. It also made him realize how much he needed to call a shop meeting tomorrow and apologize.

 

“Oh, okay. I get that.” He watches her stand up, walking towards him. In his mind, he ran through a bunch of scenarios. She could make it easy and just walk out the door, leaving his life forever. Perhaps she was going to kiss him and remind him of the connection they have. Perhaps she was going to slap him for whatever reason. Perhaps she had to just go to the bathroom. “Denny, I trust you – in some ways, but you have to understand where I’m coming from.”

 

“I do, as I stat-”

 

“And trust me, I love you so much that it pains me at times at how much I can love you. We have this amazing connection, and the sex is obviously the best part. Besides that, trust me, you’re amazing. I can’t complain about the traveling or shopping, either, too. But hey, I get your reasons for confronting me, but listen, I’m just protecting what’s mine. I don’t want you to stray and cause problems, that’s all. You have to understand what I am doing.” He didn’t know if he liked the tone of words – “protecting what’s mine,” “straying,” and the fact that she hadn’t brought up many reasons why she loved him. Was there more to this?

 

“What are you trying to get at, because at this moment, I’m feeling a little confused.” He watches a smile form on her face – a smile that would cause any blood to drain from the person on the other side, as he felt himself entering a bit of panic worry.

 

“You want me to walk out the door and say goodbye? Fine, but I’m taking this damn well with me.” She then holds a small black book, which he knew all too well. Why had he decided to keep the name and numbers in that book? Why not just in his cell phone like any other sane person? Oh that’s right – because he had a tendency of breaking phones and losing them, and didn’t want to be left without a girl one week. “What would happen if this would get released to the world?”

 

“You wouldn’t do that, would you?” She then shrugs her shoulders as she steps back, placing the book behind her back with that familiar smile on her face.

 

“What’s stopping me, Dennykins? Besides, it’d be great payback for you ruining what we have. I’d just ruin your reputation. Who would want a cheating little bitch who sleeps around in every city he goes to drive for them? ‘Hey, I’m Denny and guess what? FedEx helps me with all my girls because I can ship them all flowers for a good rate. I also like my teammate Kyle so much because M&Ms are just the perfect thing to give them, too.’ That’s a great advertis-”

 

“Are you damn well blackmailing me, Diane Chainwood?” The smile only widens and it was that moment that he realized he was in trouble, for certain.

 

“And by the way, I know Kourtney pretty well. It seems that she doesn’t care about her reputation and proudly handed over the tape of you at her house. Remember that trip in Texas?” Denny feels his blood go cold immediately, as he knew that girl quite well. He had picked her up after Dale had left her to the side, spending the next couple years at her place as his “Texas” girl. He couldn’t have known there was security cameras or whatever she used. “Well?”

 

“Why are you doing this? Do you want some sort of big pay off? I can write you a check, I guess; it’d be my way of paying for being a dumbass. Give me the reason, Diane.” She then closes the gap between them immediately, tugging on his shirt as she pulls him close to her.

 

“Because I want to keep the good sex life with you to myself, while taking full advantage of everything else that you come with. Remember, I know people and I always get my way. Just like that you’re reputation could be ruined, among other things. You wouldn’t want that, Denny. However, if you deal with me, I’ll let you continue living your life that everybody knows. What do you say superstar?” He knew in that moment, at that time, he had no choice. He would just have to figure out the rest later, and perhaps plan a strategy to make sure nothing happened and they ended things.

 

“Deal, I guess.”

 

He then wakes up, letting out an aggravated scream as he sits up and chucks a pillow across the room at full force.

 

“You stupid ass!” He tells himself. Why hadn’t he developed a strategy? Why hadn’t he done something sooner? Why did he let it continue on sooner? Why did he subject himself to everything over that? Letting out a sigh, he lays back down. “Come on Denny. Forget about her. Think about Martinsville. Think about Daytona. Think about everything else in your life. She’s just one girl who fucked you over.”

 

Though as he lets out a sigh, he knew there was no way to stop dreaming of her because it seemed she was the only girl that filled every single thought for him.

Beautiful Nightmare – Chapter 3: Sleepless Night

But when I rest

There is nothing I can do

 

After getting the tears out, Denny went over to the sink and took a handful of water, washing his face off before turning back to face Kyle.

“Thank you,” he says simply as Kyle just shakes his head.

“I told you that I’d come see you anytime,” Kyle assures him. “We all told you that, Denny. We’re all here for you.” Denny knew that. He remembered the conversation amongst the teammates when word got out what had happened. He remembered their hugs, words of encouragement, and assurance that they’d help him as much as he needed.

“I know…” Denny then takes the glass off the counter, dumping the last bit of alcohol down the drain as he sits the cup in the sink.

“Denny, what are you thinking?” Denny then takes a quick glance at the time, seeing how it was 2am, before looking back at Kyle.

“I’m tired. I haven’t been sleeping well the past week. It’s late. I want to sleep, but I’m scared to sleep.” Kyle shakes his head, understanding. He was glad that his teammate was starting to open up more, piece by piece.

“Why are you scared?” Denny leans back against the counter, thinking back to the past couple of nights when he had tried to sleep, whether up in the bedsroom they shared or on the couch.

“I don’t want to relive what happened. I want to remember what happened. I don’t want to see those images once again. However, as soon as I close my eyes, there she is, and something is happening. Sometimes it’s something good, other times it’s everything I want to forget.”  Kyle had heard that nightmares and flashbacks could happen. It was why talking with a psychiatrist was recommended so he could figure out how to handle those.

“They told you that day if you had any of those issues, you could seek a psychiatrist and he could help you so you could move forw-”

“I’m scared to talk to someone about it, okay? We established that already tonight, Kyle! Let’s just let superstar badass racecar driver who has one of the most cocky attitudes at times walk into some office and say, ‘Hey, I let some woman control and abuse me and now I can’t sleep at night’.  Does that sound right?”  Kyle lets out a sigh, knowing it wasn’t as easy as he had made it.

“I get that it’s not easy. That’s why they said it’s going to take time. I also understand your fears of wanting to open up, telling people in fear that they won’t believe you. However, the officer that night believed you and we were able to get the help you needed. I also understand it’s hard to make yourself feel vulnerable because you’ve been so strong for so long – but Denny, we both know that you have feelings and need to get this out. You can’t go months on end without sleeping. It’s not healthy.” Denny knew that Kyle was right, reminding himself once again of the words spoken earlier.

“I know what I need to do. I just need to keep telling myself what you’re saying and do it.”  Kyle shakes his head, accepting. It was a step in the right direction.

“Say for tonight, why don’t you try a change in scenery? Come over to my place. You can sleep in the spare bedsroom or on the couch.  Then we can worry about everything else tomorrow.” Denny shakes his head no. he couldn’t intrude on Kyle’s house after everything Kyle was already doing for him. Besides, he didn’t want to wake up from one of his nightmares screaming and freak out Brexton and Samantha.

“I’ll be fin-”

“You just said yourself tha-”

“Kyle, I’ll be fine. I’ll deal with it tonight and then take the first step tomorrow.”  Kyle couldn’t do anything but accept his teammate’s words. He wasn’t totally convinced yet, but he was willing to take a chance.

“Alright.  Well, if you’re headed to bed, I’m going to head home – but don’t be afraid to call, even if it is in a couple hours because you can’t sleep, okay?” Denny shakes his head yes as Kyle comes over and gives him a hug. “I mean it, Denny. It’s going to be okay.”

“Thank you. I appreciate what you’ve done, and tell Samantha that I appreciate her patience.”

“She just wants everything to work out for you.”

With a couple more trades back and forth, Kyle headed out to head home while Denny made his way upstairs to the bathroom. Slipping his pants and t-shirt off, he climbs under the blanket in his bare boxers. Considering how exhausted he was feeling, perhaps sleep would be easy tonight.

Denny makes his way into the motorcoach, smiling after putting down a great lap in qualifying to himself up to start third in Sunday’s race.

“Hey Dennykins,” Diane says, using the nickname that she had always used for him from the beginning.

“Hey sweet cheeks,” he replies with a smile, dropping a small kiss on her cheek. He then makes his way by, slipping the top of his firesuit off as he reaches into the fridge.

“Nice run out there. Glad to see that you got the car working.” He looks back with a smile, pleased himself. “But where have you been since then?” His smile immediately fades by the tone of her voice.

“What do you mean?”  She then stands and makes her way over, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Qualifying was done 20 minutes ago, Hamlin. Where have you been?” He had heard this tone before with her. It started before she had joined him at the track with late phone calls, curious if he was seeing other woman when they weren’t together. It had continued when she made the decision to quit her job so she could be there with him every week. The job quitting had caught him off-guard, but he was totally for it as he didn’t mind being able to spend more time with her.

“I got out of the car, followed my proper media obligations of interviews on pit road, spoke with Wheels about the car, and then spent some time with Kyle comparing notes before coming back.”  The smirk on her face equaled disbelief as she turned him so they were facing each other face-to-face.

“You’re such a liar!” She then gave him a slap across the face, catching him off-guard.

“Diane! What was that for?” She then crosses her arms, keeping her body pressed against his.

“I saw the TV screen. Sure, you did your interviews. But you want to explain the brunette who came over to talk to you?” Denny rolls his eyes, remembering the appearance by Christy.

“Christy Lawre-”

“Oh, so you know her full name as well? That’s just sweet, Denny.” Denny takes a deep breath, sensing where this was going. He had come to expect it with Diane as she had taken this route a couple times.  He understood her motive, though, as he had quite the history.

“She was my track girl here so she came over to see if I wanted to spend some time with her. I explained to her that I had a steady girlfriend, and wouldn’t need to see her tonight. She didn’t take acceptance to that for a bit, but then accepted with goals of hooking up with Kahne.” The look on Diane’s face meant that she didn’t quite believe that Denny had said.

“I don’t believe you, Denny. See, you probably went and had a quick hook up with her before heading back here after qualifying. It’s also why you probably need to leave early tomorrow before practice so you can have a hook up before then. Denny, we’ve talked about this. I told you that I wouldn’t accept cheating. I’m not just another girl.” Denny remembered the discussion, and had accepted immediately. He could honestly see a future with Diane.

“I can tell you with honesty that I didn’t have sex with Christy, or any other girl. I promis-” His words are then cut off by her reaching her hand down his pants, pinching him.

“This raised out after your little discussion while doing the interview tell otherwise.” He bit his tongue, resisting the urge to scream as he reached down for her hand, clasping it with his.

“I can promise you that wasn’t happening. You were seeing thin-”

“Denny oh Denny, your eyes say differently. What have I told you about that?” He lets out a sigh, looking into her eyes.

“Diane Chainwood, I can assure you that I would never cheat on you, ever.” She then relaxes a little. “I love you, a lot. I can honestly see a future with you.”

“I can see a future with you, too.” She then holds him against the wall, pressing her body firmly against his. “So if you ever do cheat on me, I will cut you half and make you watch as I pull your guts out. Don’t be a whore. You told me that bullshit was done.” Denny felt his body tension up at her firm behavior, even tense more as he saw her hand form into a fist, raising above to be level with his shoulder.

“I promise you…” The fist then drops as her lips clash against his, and he picks her up in his arms, carrying her back to the bed, pulling her back. She then assumes her position on top, making her way through the layers of clothing as more kisses come.

The discussion, despite having happened prior, he forgot about. It was just jealousy. It’d just disappear with time. She’d understand that he’d never cheat and those fears would go away, followed by the behavior that came with it.

Denny sits up suddenly in the bed, panting to himself as he shakes his head. Why did he let him believe that? If only he could’ve figured it out then, left her then, he wouldn’t get himself in the rest of the mess that he found himself in.

Scurrying out of the bed, he rushes to the bathroom, turning the shower water on as he strips out of his boxers. He didn’t want to feel her on him. He didn’t want reminders of the awesome, splendid, pleasure-filled sex. He didn’t want to think about her touch against his skin. As he climbs under the hot water, he wanted to wash away every single memory or moment from his thoughts.