A Cowboy’s Chance – Chapters 91 & 92

Chapter 91: CTMP

Lance shook his head in disbelief as he waved to the crowd of fans that were cheering for him. He knew that once he returned home to Canada, he’d get a huge reception from the fans – but he didn’t think that it’d be this big. The screams were huge with many fans wanting hugs and offering congratulations already on a season that wasn’t even complete yet.

He heads over to his truck following driver introductions, hearing the camera clicks go off as the surrounding photographers take photos of the hometown kid.

“Take it all in, take it all in,” Austin tells him as he reaches the truck.

“I can’t believe this,” Lance comments as he leans back against the truck, wrapping an arm around Emma. He could only smile as he looked up into the crowd, seeing many fans with his colors. He also was having fun being back home in having his friends and family around him, soaking in the moment. There was no place like home.

“You’re the hometown hero now kid. There’s nothing holding you back.” Lance could only smile at the compliments from his teammate. It was strange to see how well the pair were getting along and chatting after their differences earlier in the season when Lance had started dating Emma. Perhaps Austin wasn’t such a bad guy after all.

“I just wish that you were driving that truck this weekend.” Austin glances down pit road, seeing Alex Tagliani standing by the other BKR truck and sharing comments with friends.

“You have to understanding Brad’s perspective. Canadian drivers in both trucks make for good publicity. It also counts when you have someone who has sat on the Indy 500 pole before, right?” Lance laughs and rolls his eyes. He knew of Alex’s accomplishments. That didn’t mean that he was a big fan of the guy.

“You saw the way he drove the Canadian Tire Series race earlier and how pushy he was. You’ve heard the guy’s interviews and how just stupid he sounds. Do I need to go on?” Austin just shrugs his shoulders, but couldn’t help but agree. He had been just as upset as Lance watching the Canadian Tire Series race and the move that Alex pulled, even with not being close to the guys like Lance was. “There’s nothing that’s going to make me like the guy, teammate or not. He tried to come give me some road course driving tips this weekend. I purely ignored them and went and saw a couple of my Canadian Tire Series guys. It seems to be working, right?” Austin shakes his head yes.

“So I should expect you in victory lane this year, right?” Lance shakes his head yes. He had a strong run last season and was confident with how the weekend had gone thus far that he was going to do well once again. It was just about biding his time through the race and being there at the end.

“I’m ready to spray some champagne and sign the national anthem with my people.” Austin laughs.

“Didn’t you say that last night?” Lance shakes his head yes, remembering his words before they headed off to the local short track. As discussed, Brandon qualified the car while he qualified his truck. Lance arrived and started deep in the field, coming up through to finish third. He couldn’t complain, though, as it was nice to see a first time winner that night. The kid that finished second – he wasn’t so bad either as Lance knew he’d be a driver to watch moving forward.

“I’m not complaining. That one helluva drive for not being in the car most of the season, and it never hurts to see a first time winner. That dude had been trying for years to get a win and he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll meet. Pretty sweet win.” Austin shakes his head in agreement, having seen the excitement in victory lane. “Besides, I’m saving the winning for the more important race this weekend.”

“Whatever ya say…”

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

Lance shakes his head as he climbs from the truck, throwing his gloves back in the truck feverishly before slipping off his helmet. He then places it lightly on the roof – not wanting to scratch it – before chucking his HANS device harshly into the truck. He then lets out a sigh as he runs his fingers through his hair.

He had a good truck and was doing what he had planned to do all race long – keep it clean and have a good race. Then, it happened. He made contact with Gaulding and the both trucks went for a spin into the gravel pit. Cue lost valuable time and track position, resulting in a 19th place finish. It certainly wasn’t the day that he was looking for in regards to not only the championship picture, but also in front of the hometown crowd.

“Just like normal, Lancey can’t drive and screws up,” Jessy comments with a grin as she walks by his pit area. He then rolls his eyes as he watches Koda close behind her. “Hence why I told you that Erik was the better catch. He’s an actual driver. He actually won today.”

“What did you ever see in that little pipsqueak anyway?” Koda asks Jessy and Jessy just rolls his eyes. Lance can only cross his arms and laugh at the pair. They were certainly your stereotypical track bunnies that you heard about in stories. He knew that karma would catch up with them eventually in one way or another. For now, it was just entertainment to hear their rumblings.

“Don’t ask me. Perhaps I wanted to show the loser some love to make him feel better.”

“It’s not like he was even good at kissing either.”

“You girls keep saying those comments, but weren’t you trying to get your hands wrapped around me and pull me away from Emma the other week, Jessy?” Lance finally breaks his silence, growing annoyed with the pair. The girls then look his way as Lance crosses his arms, walking over to them. “I seem to have a photo that proves that stunt, too. It seems that you wanted everyone to see that photo, too.”

“So are you starting to smarten up and realize that you need me in your life?” Jessy questions and Lance laughs, not believing this.

“First, you say your pitty comments about me and then expect me to love you and kiss you? I’m done with your games, Jessy. I thought we proved that a long time ago. Do us all a favor and stay away from everybody in this garage area.”

“Jealous much?” Koda questions as Lance looks over at her.

“I don’t need these guys getting their heart broken and dealing with your games,” Lance answers, making a mental note to talk to Erik, even if they weren’t that close.

“And that’s enough of that today….” Doug steps in as he wraps an arm around his driver and leads him away form the pair of girls.

“Awww, Lancey needs his babysitter.” Jessy teases as Doug gives her a glance.

“No – I don’t need you crying that your poor nail got broke.” Doug then leads Lance to the trailer and up inside, closing the door behind him. “Stay away from them. Just ignore what they have to say and stay away. You don’t need to deal with those two. They’re just trying to get you in trouble.”

“I know,” Lance comments with a sigh as he hops on top of the cabinet. “It’s what they do best. It’s what they’ve been doing the past several years.” Doug then crosses his arms as he leans against the cabinets across from Lance.

“Then why do you, as Emma would say, feed the trolls?” Lance shrugs his shoulders.

“I guess I figure that I can tell them off once and for all and not have to hear it any longer.”

“And how is that working for you?” Lance lets out a sigh. “Follow what Emma said and ignore them. They’ll figure out that you’re old news and boring and leave. They’ll go chase some other driver in another series, or go back to the short tracks. Either way, their games will get old and nobody will listen to them eventually. You’re just entertaining them, Lance.”

“I know…” Lance then grabs a bottle of water, sipping on it as he thinks it over. He knew that Doug and Emma were both right, but it was harder to do that than he wanted to believe.

Chapter 92: Las Vegas

Thanks for reading and reviewing 🙂

The incident with Austin – a lot of people have been asking whether it would be included in the story. I decided about four days after Las Vegas that it would be, but it was all about deciding how to write it. Hopefully this works out in the lines of the story without going overboard.

Also, glad to see that Austin will be okay and heal from his injuries. I know it sucks that he’s missing Talladega this weekend, but being a young man – he has a long career ahead of him.

The next couple of weeks went smoother than things had gone at CTMP as Lance was able to put together some solid runs. It didn’t help too much in points as Erik and Matt kept performing well, keeping the points gap the same. Going into Las Vegas, confidence was at an all-time high. Lance was set to score a victory and gain some points.

Unfortunately, the race didn’t go as intended. Perhaps pushing the boundaries a little much, perhaps should’ve waited for adjustments to be made rather than trying to push the truck the extra mile, he got loose through turns three and four. That wasn’t the bad part, as his ability to slide a car like no other paid off with an incredible slide and….almost save. He would’ve had it perfectly saved, except then it happened.

About having the truck saved off of turn four, he was almost set to head on his way when he made contact with his teammate. The resulting contact sent Austin hard up into the outside wall. So much for an innocent slide.

He listened on the radio as Doug told him that Austin was going to be alright, having climbed from the truck himself. The bit of apprehension in Doug’s voice, though, showed that Austin wasn’t 100% fine after the hit with the wall.

Taking a deep breath, he had to believe that his teammate would be okay and focus on the race for the time being. He couldn’t worry about Austin’s well-being till later. He still had a race to run. He still had to fight back from the contact and get a good finish. He still had a job to do for his team, sponsors and fans. He had to put everything else on the back burner.

His drive and determination played perfectly as he was able to do just that, fighting back to finish seventh, in front of both Matt and Erik. It hadn’t been the big championship day that he wanted, but at least he didn’t lose points.

As long as Austin was okay, then everything would be alright moving forward in his world.

“My guys worked real hard on the truck,” he commented post-race to the media. “It was all tore up after that contact when I tore up a couple of good trucks. Just have to give all the props to my crew. They did all that work and to finish seventh in points ahead of those guys that we’re racing in points. I didn’t do my part – they did do their part and we got a good finish. it’s been shaky on my part lately but I know when I get it right that I have a team behind me.”

He then walked away from the reporters, taking a deep breath to keep himself calm. In honesty, he couldn’t describe how he was feeling.

He was feeling a mix of worry, frustration and heartbreak in what had happened that night. There was worry in how Austin was doing, having heard that he had been transported to hospital with no further reports. There was frustration in knowing that he had caused the wreck by potentially pushing the limit too early in the race. There was also heartbreak in knowing that he had caused it, too.

The results and the rest of the race didn’t matter – but he wasn’t set to bring that up to the media as he knew he’d break down right there.

“Hey,” Doug says as he catches up with his young driver, handing him a bottle of water. Lance simply accepts it, opening it without a word. “I got an update earlier on how Austin is doing.” Lance’s eyes then immediately cut to Doug, worry increasing in the news. “They said that he’s got a 10 percent compression fracture in the lower back.”

“Damn,” Lance comments quietly, feeling his emotions hit another all-time low as he shakes his head in disbelief. He knew that he had a reason to be worried based on how hard Austin hit, the amount of caution laps and Doug’s voice on the radio. It certainly didn’t help him feel any better.

“Solid comeback tonight. I heard your interview. You don’t need to beat yourself up. Everybody makes mista-”

“I caused that wreck.” Doug then stops frozen as Lance looks back at him. “I got loose in the corner and came down into his line. I got loose because I pushed it a little too hard rather than conserving and doing what I needed to do to get to the first pit stop and then work from there. There’s no way around it. It’s my fault.” Doug then takes a deep breath, resisting the urge to yell in response.

“I get that you getting loose caused the wreck. But how were you to know how loose the truck would be up there? How were you to know that you’d get that sideways? Besides, it was just by chance that he needed up in your path. It’s not like you purposely turned him into the wall or anything. You can’t beat yourself up. It was a simple mistake. That happens in racing. At least he’s going to be alright and heal. That’s all that matters.” Lance rolls his eyes, seeing the crew chief’s perspective. However, that didn’t make him feel better in the moment.

“Thanks for the pep talk, but it’s not helping.” Doug then reaches out for Lance’s arm as he goes to walk away.

“Go see Austin tonight. Go see for yourself that he’s going to be alright. Besides, seeing him will perhaps help you let this go and realize what I’m saying when you hear it from him.” Lance lets out a sigh, knowing that it’d be a good idea to go see Austin. They were just starting to form a decent friendship…one that he probably ruined by the wreck. Friends would go check on each other, though, but could he find himself in that hospital room that night?

“I don’t think I could face him after the wreck.” Lance then fights away from Doug’s grasp, heading into the hauler and shutting the door behind him.

“I’ll get him to go see Austin one way or another,” Emma declares with a look over at Doug. Doug simply shakes his head.

“Talk some sense into your boy,” Doug instructs. “He may not listen to me, but maybe he’ll listen to you or Austin.” Emma then heads into the trailer, walking all the way to the back and up to the lounge. She then opens the door, finding Lance lying back on the couch. She then slides the door shut behind her, taking a deep breath.

“Lying on your ass isn’t going to help things,” she states as he give her a glance. “Accidents happen in racing. Sometimes people get hurt along the way, and sometimes they’re your friends. I know it’s hard to watch and go through, but you have to realize that it’s part of the game. You can’t beat yourself up.”

“I caused that wrec-” Lance starts once again.

“Not on purpose!” She then walks over and sits down beside Lance on the couch, debating what to say next. “You can beat yourself up all day but I don’t think Austin will be mad at you.” Lance then shakes his head with a laugh. “What?”

“How can you be sure of that? The guy just started to like me.” Emma knew that was the truth, but also knew why it had taken time for Austin to like Lance.

“That’s because he was worried about me and didn’t want me to make a mistake by dating the wrong person. He finally realized that you’re a good guy and decided to let go whatever he had against you. He told you that himself, remember?”

“And I probably just ruined it, right?” Emma shakes her head no. She knew Austin quite well – they had been friends for years – and knew that Austin could be a very forgiving person.

“Absolutely not. Austin will understand that it was a racing accident and you didn’t mean for it to happen. You simply got loose and the pair of you simply crossed paths. He’ll understand that and let it go easier than you’re letting it go.” She then lets out a sigh as she reaches for Lance’s hand. “At least come with me to see him, please?” He shakes his head no immediately. “Why not?”

“What if you’re wrong?” She then rolls her eyes.

“You’ll never know till you go see him. Besides, as Doug said, it’ll probably do you some good to realize that he’ll be okay. And, if it makes you feel better, offer an apology. It’ll get it off your chest.” Lance thought about her suggestion and knew that she was probably on to something. However, like he had told Doug, he wasn’t sure he could face Austin yet.

“You can go without me. I’ll wait back here for you. I just can’t go see him…”

“You’re acting childish, Lance.” Lance then looks up at her.

“Well I’m sorry if you’re offended by that but that’s how I feel right now.” She then rolls her eyes as she stands up.

“I think you should come, but I can’t force you. So if you want to stay here in your own pity, go for it. Feel free to call me when you want to do something about it.” She then heads for the door as Lance keeps his eyes on her, surprised.

“That’s it?” She then glances back his way.

“I’m your girlfriend, not your babysitter or your mother. I’m here to support you and love you. I’m here to offer advice when you need it, as I have tonight. I’m here to comfort you, as I have with offering someone to talk to about what happened and offer how to solve that problem. However, considering you just want to lay there and think about your pity, I don’t need to stay here and be apart of that. Plus, I offered a suggestion to solve that – but again, I’m not your father so I’m not going to forc-”

“If I go with you and at least make an appearance, will you shut up and let it go?” She then looks back surprised, but smiles and shakes her head yes. Lance then lets out a sigh as he sits up. “Fine – I’ll go see him. But, if it doesn’t go as you intend and he doesn’t somehow forgive me, don’t blame me.”

“I told you what he’d think, but whatever. I’m glad that you’re doing the right thing and giving this idea a chance.” Lance rolls his eyes as he slips the top of his firesuit off.

“Yeah, I’m only giving it a chance or else I probably wouldn’t hear the end of it from you or Doug.” She then walks over and gives him a light kiss on the lips as he finishes slipping off his firesuit.

“It’s because we care about you and don’t want to see this eat at you.”

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A Cowboy’s Chance – Chapters 86 Thru 90

Chapter 86: Gateway

Lance runs his hands through his hair as shakes his head, thinking it over. He kept replaying the final restart through his mind, trying to figure out what he did wrong, but kept coming up each time empty.

“Here…” Emma says as she walks over, handing him a bottle of water. She knew that she was frustrated with himself and knew from past experience with drivers to just give them their space till they calmed down.

“What did I do wrong the final restart?” He asks as he takes the cap off the bottle of water and takes a sip.

“I don’t know, but you’ll figure it out. Remember – you’re still not super experienced here and you’re still learning. You’ll watch the replays, talk with the team – you’ll figure it out and win next time.” He wanted to have the same positive outlook as her and knew that he should. Besides, he had won two races already that season and sat only 12 points behind Matt Crafton in the point standings. However, he still couldn’t wipe that last restart out of his mind.

“I’ve sucked on restarts this year!” Emma lets out a sigh as she leans back against the truck. She wasn’t going to involved herself in conversation, but was quickly finding herself involved as Lance let more thoughts go.

“They’re tricky, okay? There’s shifting and timing it just right. You have to do it perfect or else you look like an ass. You’ll figure it out and be a master before long. Rookies always struggle at the beginning.” He then glances over at her.

“I’m not a rook-”

“You also don’t have as much experience as Matt, Johnny and others. Therefore, there’s a learning curve and you’ll figure it out.” She then wraps an arm around him and pulls him closer to her. “I love you. You’re still one helluva racecar driver, and you’re going to do awesome from here on out. I bet the next time you’re in that spot, you’re going to kick ass. Just stop worrying.” She then gives him a kiss as a small smile forms on his face. His frustration was a pain in the butt at times, but it was nice to have someone by his side to offer true, thoughtful advice. Another reason why he was calling her the best girlfriend that he had ever had by a long shot.

“I appreciate that – but I’m still ticked about tonight.” She then rubs his shoulders.

“Take your water and go for a calming walk. I’ll meet you back at the trailer when you’ve calmed down some. We can then fly home and review the video together, over and over if needed.” He then gives her a quick kiss with a smile. She knew exactly what to do no matter the situation.

“I love you so much.” He then takes a deep breath before heading off with a sigh.

The entire walk down pit road and beginning through the garage, his mind flooded with a range of thoughts as he thought about the final restart. He recalled how he shifted, how he timed it, how he punched the gas and whether the truck got sideways. He went through the motions in his mind, trying to find that one single moment that caused him to drop from second to ninth on the restart.

Why did it have to happen on the late race restart of all places?

“Lance?” He hears and immediately rolls his eyes as he recognizes the voice immediately, watching as Jessy walks over to him. His night just continued to get better.

“Shouldn’t you be kissing and hugging Austin?” He questions as she immediately rolls her eyes. She had hoped to be doing that, but it seemed Austin had some comments for her before the weekend.

“Shouldn’t you be minding your business about what I’m doing with Austin?” Lance could only smile as the snarky bit of attitude meant that perhaps his warning has resonated with his teammate. Perhaps his teammate was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, despite their attitude spurts together.

“Hey, I was just being a good teammate and letting him know what to expect from someone of your nature. Teammates help each other.” She swore she could punch him at that moment with his comments. Why did she find herself attracted to him so badly?

“Well, in that case, shouldn’t you be kissing and hugging Emma?” He then looks over at her, surprised by the question. He knew that he deserved it based on his question, but it still bugged him to hear her talk about Emma.

“We talked already post-race and she’s letting me have some space to think about what happened on the last restart of the race, not like you’d know since you never pay attention to the races. Now, if you excuse me, I have to head off.” A smirk forms on her face as she immediately wraps both arms around him, giving him a quick kiss. “What the fuc-”

“Just wanted to leave you with a going away present, or a little good luck next time present. Toodles!” She then walks away as he heads on his way. She can only smile as she watches Koda catch up with her, also smiling. “Did you get it?”

“Blackmail has never been sweeter,” Koda comments as she shows Jessy the photos.

“Good girl. Emma is going to learn that she should’ve laid her claws on him, and he’s going to wish that I was standing in victory lane at Daytona with him earlier this year.”

“And once you get your deal all set, you’re going to hook me up with Erik?” Jessy rolls her eyes, but shakes her head yes in agreement as she looks over at Koda.

“I don’t know what you see in that boy, but I can help a girl out if she helps me.”

Chapter 87: Iowa

“That was awesome!” Lance lets out as he leans back against the truck, taking a sip of his water.

“Are you happy or what?” Emma jokes as she walks over. “You look like you just won or something.” Lance looks over with a smile firmly planted on his face.

“Did you see how badly we were running at the beginning of that race?” Emma shakes her head yes with a grin.

“But you fought back…..”

“Exactly, and that battle with Matt at the end – perfection. I was so glad to beat him. Just gives me that extra point that may come in handy, and it was fun.” Emma could only smile in response as she wrapped her arms around him and gave him a kiss.

“I’m proud of you, honestly. You did a great job.” He looks over at her and can’t help but smile in return.

“Thank you, thank you. I have to say that the team and I are very thankful for the compliments, because trust me – I owe the team a lot of credit, too.” Lance then glances over as Doug makes his way over in their direction. “Oh, and this man, of course, deserves some credit. He made some great adjustments tonight.”

“Yeah, but you also did a good job driving and not getting frustrated,” Doug compliments him. “That bodes well for you. That’s an improvement in character.”

“I always drive hard, buddy,” Lance says as Doug shakes his head.

“But you also get frustrated and sometimes overdrive the truck. That didn’t happen tonight. That saved your ass.” Lance smiles as he glances around, quite happy about the circumstances.

“Well, thank you for the compliments and bringing out the best of me.” Lance then feels a small shiver down his spine as he notices the pair of twits walking up pit road, giggling amongst themselves. “Why are they coming to all the races now?” Emma glances over and immediately feels her mood darken. She had honestly thought about pulling both their hair out.

“Because their track bunnies looking for a good fuck,” Emma comments, causing a surprised glance from Doug.

“I thought they would’ve hitched ass out of town when Austin learned the truth and kicked Jessy to the curb. I’m still surprised that he listened to me.” Emma glances over and shrugs her shoulders. She knew that things between Austin and Lance had been rough, but understood the reasons from Austin’s perspective. However, things were improving and that was a start.

“He’s finally learning that you’re not so bad of a guy and understanding why I like you. He also knows to trust my judgment, as well.” Lance, meanwhile, couldn’t keep his eyes off of them as he knew there had to be a reason why they were still around the tracks.

“They’ve got something going on and I want to know what it is. They don’t just hang around, especially with no guy on their arm, for no reason.” Emma then goes back right close to Lance, wrapping an arm around him as she keeps him tucked close to her.

“I say you ignore the hell out of them and don’t worry about it. Whatever they’ve got going on, it doesn’t matter. Let them do what they want. We’ve got each other and you’ve got one helluva opportunity this year to win a championship. Focus on your goals, not the trolls.” She then gives him a kiss with a smile.

“How did he get so lucky to get a girl like you by his side?” Doug questions as Emma shrugs her shoulders.

“He’s not that bad of a guy, and he can be charming at times,” she offers as he rolls his eyes.

“I still don’t see the charm…” Lance then chucks his empty water bottle at Doug as Doug goes to walk away. Doug then glances back. “Yeah, yeah, you keep up the attitude young man and I’ll forget to make the adjustment one pit stop.” Lance chuckles as he glances back in Emma’s direction.

“You’re right – I should listen to you,” he starts. “I just can’t help but focus on them at times, though, because I know the games that they’ve played in the past. I know how much they’ve hurt me in their past relationships, and I know the relationships that I’ve screwed myself. I don’t want to do the same with you. I love you too much.”

“Don’t worry – that’s not going to happen,” Emma assures him. “I’m in this for the long haul – no matter what anyone says. I’ll deal with the trolls if they try anything.” Lance pulls her close and gives her a kiss on the lips before they head off towards the garage together. As they walked off, he started to remember the pervious weekend in Gateway and the odd hug and kiss from Jessy. It had seemed since then that the girls had kept their attention on him, always showing up at odd times. Was he truly on to a reason to be worried? “Lanc-”

“Last week in the garage area, Jessy walked up and had some words for me, before once again forcing herself on me with an awkward hug and kiss.” He then stops and looks at Emma. “It’s not the first time, either. They’ve done it other times this year – always making sure that you’re not around.” Emma lets out a sigh as she shakes her head. That was to be expected from a pair of jealous twits.

“I’m not surprised, Lance, but I’m not worried. They’re jealous – they’re trying to play a game. I saw how they did it when we were back home and I first crossed path with them. I trust you and I know that you wouldn’t cheat on me with either of them. So let them try whatever they may and to get whoever’s attention – it’s not going to work. Ignore the trolls!” He lets out a sigh as he keeps walking.

“I’m trying….but….”

“Ignore the trolls.”

Chapter 88: Off-Week

Lance finishes adjusting the mirrors and seat to perfection before hopping out of the truck and glancing over at Doug.

“She’s ready to go,” he states with a smile as Doug looks over and gives him a nod.

“You know, as a driver you don’t need to do that stuff yourself,” Doug offers as Lance shrugs his shoulders.

“I’m used to it. Besides, the driver’s compartment is where I do my work. To do my best work I need to have it set in the best way possible with the mirrors and seat. I might as well handle that myself.” Doug thinks it over before giving his nod of approval.

“That sounds fair. You win for your reasoning.” Lance grins as he leans over the truckbed at his crew chief.

“So what are you doing for the off-weekend?” Doug looks up from his notes and shrugs his shoulder.

“It’s a weekend that I don’t have to put up with you or the team. For that reason, I’m spending it relaxing with my wife, not letting anything bug me.” Lance shakes his head in approval, agreeing with the sentiments of his crew chief.

“You haven’t shared your plans for the next two weeks,” Emma offers, catching Lance’s attention as he shrugs his shoulders. He had been thinking of going home for some time with family, and perhaps a trip to the local short track with his cousin. However, the drama with Jessy and Koda had the idea at the back of his mind.

“I thought he’d be jetting off to go see the famjam,” Doug comments as Lance lets out a sigh as he leans back against the truck.

“I thought about it,” he comments. “It’d be nice to see them as I don’t get to see them much. It’s just….I don’t know. Maybe I’ll come hang with you at Ryan’s races.” Emma rolls her eyes, knowing why Lance had changed his mind on his original plans.

“What did I tell you?” Emma questions as he looks at her, surprised. “Ignore the bloody trolls!”

“Trolls?” Doug asks, curiously as Emma glances over at the crew chief. So far, Doug hadn’t been given knowledge of the pair walking around the garage.

“Lance has a pair of stalkers that resemble sluts. They also happen to be his ex-girlfriends who think if they hang around long enough they can get under his skin and make me ditch him.” Lance rolls his eyes as he walks away from the truck.

“I don’t need everyone knowing!” He lets out as Emma looks over his way.

“Actually, it’s a good idea that Doug knows,” she starts. “That way he can help keep them away from you so they stop messing with your mind.” She then glances back at Doug. “Despite the amount of times that I have told him that I don’t give a shit what the pair say, he seems to worry about their behavior. I told him that I know the games they’re trying and I trust him so I won’t believe those games. Does he believe me? No!” Austin looks over, curious by the topic of conversation as Doug glances over at Lance, who had reached the far end of the shop, set to escape the madness.

“So why don’t you believe your girlfriend?!?” Doug questions as Lance doesn’t even look back, continuing to walk away and head up to his office. Doug then looks back at Emma. “Well?”

“Let’s just say that they’ve screwed him pretty hard in the past. He hasn’t had the best of luck with relationships and he’s scared that he’s going to screw this up with me. The only thing that he’s screwing up is letting those little airheads get to him.”

“So what have they attempted so far, besides the at-home fling on?” Austin questions as he walks over, catching Doug’s attention. “The one threw herself on him, thinking that Emma would believe that he led her on.”

“They’re continuing those same tactics in the garage and perhaps there’s a photo or two floating around now,” she offers as Austin looks at Emma surprised. “But as I told him, he doesn’t need to worry.”

Brad, working on some papers in his office, had overheard bits and pieces of conversation. He then got up, leaving his office and making his way down the short hallway. He then reaches Lance’s office, glancing in at the young man as he sees him relaxing back in his chair, obviously trying to forget the whole ordeal.

“May I come in?” Brad questions as Lance looks up out of his daze and shakes his head yes.

“What’s up?” He asks as he watches Brad walk in the office. Long gone were the days of nerves. He had actually grown used to being around Brad and the opportunity at hand.

“I heard about your situation with a pair of trolls, as Emma calls them. Do you want to talk about it?” Lance shakes his head no as he glances back at his desk. He knew that it’d continue to blow bigger by Emma mentioning it.

“I don’t like talking about my personal business outside of my tight, real close friends. I hope you don’t mind.” Brad could understand that, having the same philosophy with certain topics, despite his wide-open personality.

“That’s fine. You don’t need to spill me the details or anything.” He then leans back on the desk as he keeps his eyes locked on Lance. “You know, being a racecar driver and everything, sluts and track bunnies are to be expected. That comes with the territory. I’ve dealt with my fair share.” Lance chuckles as he glances up at Brad, curious of those stories.

“I can deal with the normal girl – I know how to fend those chicks off. It’s just these girls know more about me than they should because I trusted them at one point in my life. That’s what bugs me more than anything.” Brad then crosses his arms as he keeps his eyes focused on Lance.

“So you’re afraid that they’re revea-”

“I’m afraid that my past relationships will come back to haunt me and the break the one relationship that means more than anything ever could to me.” Brad shakes his head, understanding.

“I understand your fear. You have a reason to be afraid, especially if your heart has been broken in the past. You can ask my buddy Dale about that one and how long it took him to truly trust Amy because of his past with girls. But, besides the point – you need to realize what Emma is saying. You’re worried that they’re going to effect Emma’s view on you and cause her to leave. Do I see that happening? Do I see her listening to what they’re saying? Do I see her standing down to them? Do you see that?” Lance lets out a sigh as he shakes his head no. “As long as they’re not bugging her and she understands what’s going on there, why should you worry? She knows what they’re trying. She’s not going to let that happen. Therefore, you shouldn’t let it cloud your judgment. You should solely focus on your relationship with Emma and nothing else. If you keep doing that, they’ll disappear because they’ll realize they can’t hurt you anymore. However the longer you continue to pay attention and feed the trolls, they continue to eat up the dinner.” Lance knew that the boss was right in his advice. It was the same thing that his mom used to say, and the same thing that Emma had been saying. So why was he still stuck here?

“So why can’t I simply do that already?” Brad thinks it over, keeping his eyes locked on his young driver.

“Because you have a heart and you care a lot. You’re caring and passionate, and with that, you can’t ignore the things that stab at that caring side of you. You’re afraid of Emma getting hurt through that. You’re afraid of yourself getting hurt. It takes a lot of strength to look past that and realize what I’m saying.” Brad then stands up and gives Lance a quick pat on the shoulder. “You’ll figure it out and while you do, you have a great lady by your side supporting you. Don’t blow her off when she tries to help. I think Doug knowing is a good idea as well, so he knows to keep watch incase they do bug you and be there as a defense for you.” A small smile forms on Lance’s face as he knew that Emma probably had a point in saying something, based on the boss’ comment.

“Thanks Brad. I appreciate you stopping by and offering the advice.” Brad then heads for the exit to the office.

“Hey, I can’t have my little star falling off his game. Besides, I can’t work when there’s a bunch of yelling going on.” Lance’s cheeks go a little red as he catches Brad’s eye.

“Oops. Sorry about that. I’ll try to keep the children from disturbing you.” Brad smiles.

“You just follow my advice and the rest will fall in place. Part of that ignoring the trolls includes not letting them run your life. Go see your family – see your parents as I know you miss them, especially your momma. Besides, a night at the track away from this craziness and pressure may be good for you.” Brad then heads off as Lance sits back with a smile. Perhaps a trip home was what the doctor ordered.

Chapter 89: Life is Good…

Despite the run-ins at the tracks with the ex-girlfriends, things found a calming ground for Lance through the middle of the season. He found himself further focused on his racing, not caring about the outside world. His results started to add up on track as he sat within striking distance of Matt, while having fun along the way.

He couldn’t get over the fun of going to Eldora and racing dirt for the first time. He had never been on dirt so during his trip home, he had spent time with his cousin Grayson and a friend of theirs taking in as much advice as possible via their experience. He even tried racing a street stock on track during practice and was able to sling the tail pretty well. It paid off when he went to Eldora as he was one of the front runner’s all night, battling for the win with guys who had tons of experience.

There was some off time for the trucks during the month, and he made good use of those as he headed home – as suggested by those around him. It felt nice to see his parents, brother and friends once again. He talked about the ex-issues with some of them, in which it ranged from threatening to send over a cliff to advice to not even worry about them.

In those trips back home, he made his way to the local short track, racing his familiar ride still. He had some success, scoring a victory one of the nights. However, he’d rather forget a couple of the other weekends. But even though he didn’t post the warranted results, it was still considered a fun night as he was able to get away from the NASCAR pressure and race for fun one night, while joking with close friends.

When he wasn’t busy racing or doing interviews, he was spending as much time as possible with Emma. They had managed to go out on a couple of casual dates together, while further decorating the apartment to their tastes together versus what the boys had before. They spent some nights enjoying tv shows and movies, while spending other nights working at her business.

He spent one night helping her sort through new boxes of clothes, while modeling some another night. She wouldn’t tell him, but she could’ve just used stock images for the clothes. However, it was more fun watching him prance around and pose in some of the outfits. There was a couple that she swore would be added to his closet by year-end.

For the couple, everything was perfect. For the racing superstar, he was living the dream in style with success. There was nothing that could cause this picture to go wrong.

Of course, there was also icing on the cake. This weekend was the race at Michigan International Speedway. That race was close to home, just about six hours south of the Canadian border. For that reason, many of his friends and family had committed to coming to watch their favourite superstar race. They all told him back at the beginning of the year that they’d be at Michigan and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park – loud and proud.

He had managed to get a bunch of them VIP passes to join him on pit road throughout the weekend, while getting race tickets for a bunch of others. Either way, it was going to be a thrilling, family/friend reunion filled weekend. He just hoped that he could win the race on Saturday to top it all off.

With the list of people receiving passes, BKR’s PR department had asked Lance to double check the list before sending it officially to the track with the rest of sponsor VIPs that would be there, since Brad’s foundation and Cooper Standard were sponsoring this week.

“You got that many passes?” Lance hears over his shoulder and looks up and back at Austin with a smile before returning to the list.

“I told Brad that I had a bunch of people coming and he told me to go to see the PR department,” Lance starts. “They told me a minimum number. It surprised me, but I’m taking advantage of it. I got a lot of family and friends that are coming up.” Austin shakes his head as he reads over the list.

“I can tell. I’m surprised, though, since I thought Brad would have a lot of people there from the foundation and Cooper Standard.” Lance flips to the next page, showing Austin the numbers.

“With having race sponsor privileges, it actually helps me.” Lance then flips back to his page. “I’m surprised that you’re not in the truck this weekend.” Austin shrugs his shoulders as he walks around and flops in the chair.

“Well, I’m actually surprised that Brad isn’t driving it, to be honest.” Lance then glances up, remembering the discussion with Ryan. The pair had stayed close despite heading separate paths, mainly since Lance was dating his sister.

“Ryan said that Brad was going to, but then decided to not due to all the sponsor and foundation stuff. Ryan then got the spot as they want someone proven in the truck – no offense – in hopes that both trucks do well for the sponsors.” Austin rolls his eyes, having heard that before.

“The usual spell, right?” Lance chuckles as he continues going over the list. “So, I heard from the peanut gallery.” Lance then glances up, confused as Austin slips him his phone. Lance then reads the series of text messages, realizing that it was a conversation with Jessy.

“You’re playing it off with her as if everything is still cool and you wouldn’t mind hanging out.” He then slides Austin his phone back. “Why?”

“Teammates have to stick together, right? Besides, I’ve been friends with Emma forever. If she sees something in you, I’m willing to give you a chance. I figure that I’ll just see what Jessy will tell me so I know what we can expect.” Lance then shakes his head as he returns back to the list.

“I don’t care what she wants. It’s obvious that she’d be there as it’s close and she knows everyone else is going. She still has the photos and she has her stories on me. It’s just a matter of time before she strikes, right?” Austin shrugs his shoulders, having summarized that before. He was just surprised as to how cool Lance was being about it.

“And what’s the plan?” Lance shrugs his shoulders as he glances up at Austin.

“I’m going to do what I should’ve done from day one – ignore her. If Emma isn’t phased or worried, then I have nothing to worry about. All that matters is she doesn’t screw things up there and Emma knows her games.” Lance then returns to the list. He was going to keep saying that, but it wasn’t the truth. He was still a little worried what would happen once Jessy and Koda went through with whatever plan that they had. However, Emma’s confidence had started to rub off on him.

“Well, best of luck with the freak show. They seem to have dead set on you, and perhaps also Jones.” Lance looks at Austin shocked as Austin scrolls up through his phone and slides it back. “Yeah, that was from Jessy. She was acting all curious about Erik and whether he had a girlfriend.” Lance and Erik didn’t really have any friendship or anything at all – just competitors. They had a mutual respect on track, raced each other clean – but nothing beyond that. He still wouldn’t wish the trolls on him, though. He wouldn’t wish those trolls on his worst enemy.

“I feel so bad for that kid right now if she even steps near him.” Lance then finishes off looking over the list before standing up. “But then again, he’s got Kyle. I’m sure Kyle would put them in their place quickly.” Lance then leaves, set to return to the list to the PR department.

Chapter 90: Home Life

“Is that who I think it is?” Brandon calls out from the garage as he watches a truck pull-up the driveway. He watches the pair of doors open and watches as the pair of individuals step out of the truck. “It is!!” He sets down the tools in his hands and walks up to the driveway, giving his brother a hug. “Well well, the big star did remember his family after all.”

“I couldn’t ever forget you, or anybody here for that matter,” Lance comments as he gives his old brother a hug. “How are you?”

“Doing great. Obviously not as great as you’re doing, but still doing great. How does it feel to be the Camping World Truck Series points leader?” Lance chuckles as he follows his brother back towards the garage.

“It feels awesome, actually. But, I’m not focused on that. I’m just focused on trying to do the best that I can each week, picking up as many wins as possible and seeing what happens. Just like we’ve always done, right?” Brandon shakes his head yes as he returns back to the right front suspension that he was working on with regards to the late model.

“That’s the best policy as that way you don’t get caught up in the pressure. I just wish that I’d have your damn luck and get a win before the year is over.” Lance smiles as he kneels down beside his brother, checking things over. He had heard that it’d been a pretty rough season for Brandon with a bunch of bad luck coming his way, but he had still done a solid job to sit in the top-five in points.

“You’ll get that win. Don’t give up. I know that you and this team have it in them to win.” Brandon then glances back towards the truck and watches as Emma joins them in the garage.

“You’re quiet….” Emma shrugs her shoulders as she leans back against the post, watching the brothers.

“I’m just letting you boys catch up as obviously a lot has happened over the past couple of weeks,” she offers as she watches the pair of them. “Is there a problem with that?” Brandon shakes his head no.

“So is everybody planning on being there Sunday?” Lance questions and Brandon shakes his head yes. The return to Canadian soil for the second straight year had caught everyone’s attention and the majority of their friends and family had gotten their hands on tickets, one way or another.

“Based on what I’ve heard, the cheering section is going to be like the good ‘ol short track days,” Brandon offers as Lance smiles. He remembered the long line-ups at autograph sessions and the amount of fans that came to him after racing to give him compliments. It was going to be nice to catch up with everyone. “Speaking of which, are you going short track racing on Saturday night?” Lance lets out a sigh as he had thought about it the whole week.

“We qualify at 5:45 so that puts me a little late with regards to quail-”

“I could qualify your car while you’re qualifying the truck. You just need to make it for the feature.” Lance thinks it over, knowing that it’s a good possibility. He knew with how strong the super stock was and how much fun he had in the past driving it that he could probably have some success should this plan together.

“Let’s go for it, then.” Brandon does a mental fist pump, making a note to also text all the people that had been questioning the details for the weekend.

“Good decision.” Brandon then makes his way through the garage, grabbing a piece of paper, before returning back to Lance and Emma. “Now, explain this….” He then slips the pair the piece of paper as they look it over. Lance immediately lets out a sigh and rolls his eyes as he glances at the photo.

“She forced herself on me,” Lance explains, seeing the image of him and Jessy. “Emma saw the whole span of events. She forced herself on me and has this plan to fool Emma into thinking that I’m cheating on her.” Emma then takes the piece of paper, ripping it into little pieces as she discards it.

“That is the type of bullshit that I’d never believe anyway, so you don’t need to worry about it or bring it up when you see us together,” she adds. “I know your brother is loyal to me, and I know the games that those trolls are trying to play. Rather than feed the trolls, ignore their crap and they’ll disappear to bug someone else.” Brandon laughs as he thinks about that, leaning back against the racecar.

“I’ve always tried to believe that, but we’ve been dealing with the dingbats for about four years now,” Brandon offers. “It didn’t help that Lance went out with one of them for a couple of months, but they don’t just disappear.” Emma shrugs her shoulders as it didn’t matter to her anyway.

“Who cares if they don’t just disappear. Who cares if they try to keep up the games. I don’t give a crap as I know what they’re trying to do and it’s not going to work.” Brandon then glances between the pair, feeling more pride in Lance having Emma as a girlfriend. He was finding that she was one of the first girls to truly stand up for him. However, there was something else that was still on Brandon’s mind.

“What about his reputation? If people keep seeing these rumors, they’re going to start wondering things. They may also start questioning the type of girl that you are, Emma.” Emma could only shrug her shoulders as she glanced over at Lance with a smile.

“If we stick together, there will be no reputation built and they’ll be seen for who they are. Anyways, those who have been around the sport know the type of person that I am and my family – they won’t start saying crap because that’s not the Blaney trademark. Besides, the focus should be on what Lance is doing on track – not off the track. As I’ve told him and as I’ll tell you, stop worrying about the trolls and focus on what matters.” Brandon smiles as he wipes his hands off, satisfied by the conversation. it was a conversation that he had been meaning to have sooner with the pair to cover basis and protect his little brother. He didn’t want to see Lance get his heart broken again. Seeing how Emma was being protective and standing her ground, he knew that he had nothing to worry about.

“Well, on that note, why don’t we go see Gramps?” Lance shakes his head in agreement as they head for the house together with Emma in toe.

“You know, you didn’t need to do that,” Lance whispers with a glance at his brother. He could tell the reason for Brandon’s questions as soon as he started them.

“I need to do whatever it takes to protect your little ass,” Brandon whispers back with a smile as he puts his arm around Lance’s shoulders. “Has Brad mentioned anything about next year?” Lance shakes his head no as that was something that hadn’t even crossed his mind.

“I’m just focused on the present and winning the championship this season. We’ll worry about next year when the time comes.”

A Cowboy’s Chance – Chapters 81 Thru 85

Chapter 81: Rain Delay

“Why is it raining?” Emma questions as she glances up at the sky.

“Because there’s clouds with rain above us,” Lance answers as he holds an umbrella over head. “It’s called the water cycle, incase you missed science class.” She then gives him a look.

“Smart ass!” She then gives him a smack just above the crotch as he jumps back in surprise.

“Well in that case, I’m not going to stand here and hold this umbrella over your head.” She then snatches the umbrella out of his hand and sticks her tongue out at him. “That’s not nice, Ms. Blaney.”

“What are you going to do about, Mr. Zeeko?” A grin forms on his face.

“You don’t want to know….” He then chases after her, through the rain and puddles, catching up with her and snatching her up in his arms. He then starts tickling her, causing her to giggle and squirm, before both fall down in a puddle.

“Lance!” She then stands up, ringing out her shirt as he slowly stands, laughing. “You ruined my outfit!”

“Next time you’ll keep your hands to yourself, right?” She then splashes a bunch of water at him with her foot before walking off with the umbrella. He then stands up, following her. “Hey, come back here! I don’t think I have a spare suit to change into.” She then picks up the pace a little as he runs to catch back up to her.

“Next time you won’t push me in a puddle, right?” He then wipes a bit of dirt off of her face with a smile.

“At least you weren’t wearing white or I may have to snatch you up in my arms so nobody sees. Besides, you look even prettier with a bit of dirt on you.” He then leans in and gives her a kiss. “Come on. I’ll go back to the motorcoach with you so you can change.”

“Oh, so now you want to take care of me? How sweet!” They then head back to the motorcoach, entering together. She heads to the back room, sorting through a bunch of shirts and jeans. She finally decides on a teal colored t-shirt and pair of blue jeans, quickly changing into them. She emerges a couple minutes later, fixing her hair back into a neat ponytail.

“Are you ready to be thrown in another puddle?” She then shoots him a look as he just laughs.

“Are you ready to get your ass kicked?” He then pulls her close, kissing her lips.

“You know, we do have some time to ourselves for a bit. It’s going to take them about an hour to get the truck dry.” She then wraps her arms around his waist.

“Don’t you have to go talk strategy with Doug?” Lance shrugs his shoulders. That may be a good idea with practice shortened, but it wasn’t a fun as being with Emma.

“We talked already and he knows what to do if practice gets shortened. He’s an expert.” She then runs her fingers through his hair. His offer was definitely tempting.

“What about this precious suit? You’d only have to put it back on if I work it off of you.” He then runs his hands down her legs, moving them from the sides of her legs to her butt, holding it firmly.

“Perhaps you shouldn’t have gotten changed so quickly yourself.” He then leans in kissing her lips as he picks her up. She instantly wraps her legs around him as he heads back to the besdroom, laying her back on the bed. “I knew you’d see things my way.”

“See, now it’s all coming to me. You purposely threw me in the puddle so we can come back here and do this. Face it – you love doing this.” She then runs her hands down the front of the firesuit, slowly pulling the zipper down. She then slips the firesuit off, in which Lance in return runs his hands up underneath her shirt, kissing her lips.

“There’s nothing wrong with this at all, Emma. It’s a good way to pass the time.”

“Okay…you got me…” She then smiles in return as he rubs her breast lightly.

“Feel good baby?”

“Oh yes….” He then sucks on her breast lightly, causing a moan to escape her lips.

“God Lance…” She then kisses his neck, sucking on it a little.

“Emma…” He then works at taking her top off, tossing it aside before sucking on the other nipple. Another moan escapes her lips before she runs tongue down the length of his neck.

“And just what else do you have planned for that tongue of yours?” They hadn’t explored much in their past times together, and that was something that was he was hoping she’d be more comfortable with as they spent more time together. He had a bunch of things that he wanted to try.

“What do you want me to do with it?” He liked the intrigue in her voice.

It was going to a fun afternoon – whether it continued raining all afternoon or not.

Chapter 82: Kansas

“Ugh!” Lance comments as he looks over the truck following the crash in qualifying.

Lance got loose off of the corner, getting into the wall slightly before crossing track sideways. As a result, he left nowhere to go for his teammate Austin but into the side of him.

“Are you okay?” Emma asks as she walks up behind him. Her heart leapt a little in her chest when she saw the contact.

“Yeah I’m fine,” Lance answers as he gives her a quick hug before walking around the back-up truck, observing the work already being put in by the team. “Is Austin okay?”

“Yeah he’s fine.” Lance glanced down the garage, watching as Austin’s team also went to work. Seeing his teammate’s truck damaged as well made him feel that much more worse about the situation. It was bad enough collecting someone else in the mess, but worse when it’s your own teammate.

“I just lost it. I knew it was loose from the first round but yet I pushed it, thinking that I could keep it underneath me and I just lost it. I shouldn’t…..” He then takes a deep breath, shaking his head. “I should’ve just gave what it was going to give me and been satisfied with that.”

“It’s alright. It happens. You make mistakes and you learn from them. You know now what to do during the race. Everything will work out. Both teams will get both trucks fixed and it’ll be a great night for BKR. Don’t beat yourself up.” He lets out a sigh as he glances around. It was easy for her to say that but not that easy to convince himself of that.

“I hope. It just means more work for the guys and that’s not fair. Like Chad Kendrick said – it’s going to hurt down the road because this truck should’ve been ran next week at Charlotte, as well.” Emma walks up behind him, wrapping her arms around him as she kisses his cheek.

“It’ll work out. Stop worrying about what you can’t control. Focus on knowing what to do come the race.” He then gives her a quick kiss as he watches Austin head his way. he takes a deep breath, preparing for his teammate to snap on him.

“Austin, I’m sorry man. I just got loose there.” Austin rolls his eye as he walks past the pair.

“I heard your interview,” he starts. “You said that you knew from round one that the truck was loose. You said that it would be a challenge to not make the same mistake, again. But yet, you did. Real smart.” Lance lets out a sigh as he walks over to his teammate.

“Look, I know it looks bad and trust me – I was wrong,” Lance starts. “I learned my lesson, okay? I’m sorry. We have two great teams. We’ll have a good race tonight.” Austin rolls his eyes as he looks away.

“Of course, because it’s easy to make up all that track position.” Lance then looks over at Austin, surprised by the sudden burst of attitude.

“What do you want me to say then? I’ve admitted my mistake, Austin.”

“You shouldn’t had that mistake in the first place.” Austin then walks away, not needing to hear anymore.

He really didn’t care what Lance had to say as his mind had been made up before he made his way down there. Truthfully, he still didn’t like his teammate that much. He was also still curious about that girl that had crossed paths with Lance while they were back home.

“Austin Theirault!!” He hears a female scream his name as he looks up. A smile instantly forms on his face as he recognizes the blond right away. He then walks over to her. “Can I have an autograph?”

“Of course,” he answers as he signs the book that she is holding. “I recognize you from somewhere. I’m going to guess that you’re from Canada.” She then chuckles a little and shakes her head yes.

“How’d you know?” He then locks eyes with her, curiousity burning.

“I recognized you from last weekend. I saw that kiss that you planted on Lance’s lips.” A smile forms on her face. Perhaps she could get used to seeing Austin more than intended.

“I also saw your little discussion with him. It seems you both aren’t the best of friends after all.” Austin chuckles and shakes his head no. He wasn’t supposed to be admitting that to fans or media, but hey, she was an inside. She knew more about Lance than anybody here.

“Let’s just say that he can a pain in the butt at times. Plus, I don’t honestly believe that he deserves to be Emma.” Jessy had to chuckle to herself. It was the opposite in her mind, but whatever floated Austin’s boat right?

“Oh trust me, I know exactly what you mean on him being a pain sometimes. I take it that you have a soft spot for Emma…” Jessy then runs her fingers down the front of Austin’s body. “Perhaps we can be good friends and work together.” A small smile formed on Austin’s face. Maybe his hopes weren’t dashed with Emma yet.

“Shall we meet after the race to plan?” Jessy smiles and slips him a small piece of paper with her number on it before walking away.

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

Lance stood by the truck post-race, satisfied with how the night had gone. He held true to his word and was able to bounce back following the wreck in qualifying as he fought back to be inside the top-five in the later half of the race.

However, things didn’t fall as he would’ve hoped as strategy resulted in a finish just outside of the top 10. While he was pleased with the speed and excited how the team bounced back from adversity, the finish didn’t go swell in his mind as in the end, they had nothing to show for it. Not how you want your night to go in the big city.

“Nice run tonight Lance!” Lance hears and gives a simple wave, eyes wandering to the source of the voice. A shiver immediately goes down his spine as he recognizes the girl immediately.

“What is she doing here?” He questions as Emma walks over.

“Who?” Emma wonders as Lance points to Koda. Emma immediately rolls her eyes. “Looking for another person to sleep with it seems.” Lance wasn’t too concerned about Koda; she was sleezy, but could be dealt with. However, where there was Koda was someone else.

“Yeah but…..Figures.” Emma then glances over and her jaw drops immediately as she watches Austin talk with Jessy.

“Seriously?” Lance shakes his head in disbelief.

“He saw what happened, didn’t he?” Emma slowly shakes her head yes. “So why is he giving her the time of day?” Emma shrugs her shoulders.

“That’s not like Austin. He’s always been the sweet kind guy. He was always going for the sweet gir-”

“But he also had his way of trying to deal with me due to the fact that I was with you.” Emma then shoots a look at Lance.

“He was only doing that because he cared about me.” Lance rolls his eyes, glancing back towards Austin and jessy.

“So why is he with her?” Emma shrugs her shoulders.

“I don’t know….” She then looks back over at Lance. “But you need to talk to him. You need to warn him. You need to tell him what Jessy did.” Lance knew that she was right. Despite how much he and Austin were at odds, he needed to warn him before he got hurt. It would only be fair as he knew Jessy’s back story better than anyone.

Chapter 83: Charlotte

Lance had just finished qualifying and knew that he had time before the race with the Sprint Showdown set to take place. Knowing that he wanted to have a good spot to watch the action from, and seeing that his teammate had already found a good spot, he decided that’d be the spot to stand.

He climbs on top of the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing hauler, joining Austin by the front. He was glad that Jessy wasn’t there with him as this gave him a chance to talk about things.

He had to laugh to himself – Jessy not there wasn’t surprising. She normally only hang around when she could get some loving, paid treatment or the spotlight on her. Other than that, she was always doing something else – whether hooking up with another guy, or gossiping with her girlfriends.

“Hey, can we chat?” Lance asks, earning a glance from Austin. Austin rolled his eyes, but knew that they had to play civil. While they weren’t the best of buddies – or even close to friends, playing civil was good for teammate relations and that kept the boss happy. If you keep the boss happy, you keep getting to run races.

Besides, they say to keep your enemies closer than your friends, and he wanted to keep an eye on Lance’s relationship with Emma. He had grown more comfortable with what the pair of them had, but it was still not the most settling feeling.

“What’s up?” Austin asks as Lance takes a deep breath. He hated to butt in people’s personal lives. He didn’t like people butting in his, so he felt that he should give them the same respect in return.

“I saw you hanging with Jessy last wee-”

“I thought we agreed to not talk about each other’s relationships.” Lance lets out a sigh, remembering that discussion. It was the only thing that he could do so Austin would be quiet about Emma.

“We di-”

“So why are we talking about me being spotted on pit road with Jessy?” Lance takes a deep breath, holding on to every bit of patience that he had left in him.

“She’s my ex-girlfriend. That’s why we’re talking about it.” Austin looks over at Lance and a small smile forms on his face. That would fit the kiss very well.

“So that’s why you kisse-”

“She forced herself on me. I didn’t want to kiss her. I wanted her to disappear, but I didn’t want to raise my voice or push her and cause a scene. She forced herself on me as soon as she saw Emma walking over towards us. You can ask my brother!” Austin rolls his eyes, knowing that was probably true but wasn’t going to act like it was. He could use this to his advantage, after all. Where was Jessy?

“Right, because your brother is so trustworthy. There’s a good chance that your brother could simply cover for your ass.” Lance was set to raise his voice and share an opinion, but decided not to. Once again, they agreed to play nice for the boss.

“Listen, I know that we’re not talking and whatever – but I felt that it was my right to warn you. I know what Jessy is like. She is just hanging around with you because your track eye-candy. She’s a lizard, chases after drivers to sleep with them. She only spends time with them to get the attention and love, because she’s that type of girl. You just watch how and when she hangs around you. Interestingly, I think she may only be hanging around you to try and get back close to me.” Austin chuckles, knowing that was the case. However, he wasn’t about to let on to Lance about that. Besides, if Jessy could get close to Lance and cause Lance to fall off his game, he could prove his point to Emma that the pair weren’t meant for each other.

“I’m sure you’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Lance chuckles and shakes his head no.

“I’d rather she fall off the first cliff that is in sight, honestly. Do you know want to know what she did to me? She made me buy her banquet ticket, because we were dating and she was my banquet. That’s $65. Then while I was dancing on the dance floor with my brother and cousin, celebrating my cousin’s championship, she went and made out with a rival’s crew member. Turns out, they had been sacking up behind my back for a whole two months before the banquet. Think about that, Austin. If she hurts you, not my fault – I warned you.”

Lance then walks down off the hauler, deciding that a different spot to watch the race from would be advised.

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

The race didn’t start off the way that he wanted, as he would get into the wall in the opening 10 laps. He and the crew didn’t give up, though, as he kept fighting hard and found himself restarting in the top-five within the final laps.

“I want to thank you guys for your hard work and giving me a really good stop,” he tells the team. “That’s the way you do it. You guys put me in position to capitalize and I can’t thank you enough for that. Great job guys, and thank you.

“I tell ya what, you’re my hero,” Doug tells him. “You’re doing a good job tonight.”

In the end, he would have a solid run, finishing the race in the fourth spot. He knew that he could leave Charlotte with a smile on his face about the performance.

Chapter 84: Dover

“So, are you ready for today?” Emma questions as she leans against the truck.

“As in ready to win?” He asks and she smiles. “You know, those monster trophies look awfully sweet. One of the most unique trophies ever. It would look good sitting up on the shelf.” She grins as she looks over.

“The same shelf that has your Daytona trophy?” He smiles as he closes his eyes, reflecting back to that win.

“There’s nothing that could replace how special that win felt. That was just unbelievable. It was one heck of a way to kick off the season with my first win. Better yet, it quickly assured people that I truly meant business.” Emma smiles, remembering his pre-season comments. He stated that he was set to contend for the championship this year. Some of the media didn’t take it seriously based on the results from last season. However, with the win, they started to pay attention.

“When you said that you would contend, I truly believed you then. I knew that Brad has good trucks and I know that Doug is a great crew chief. It just about you putting in the drive behind the wheel, and that is never questioned.” He looks over at her, giving her a quick kiss.

“I’m so lucky to have you by my side supporting me like this every week. Hopefully we can have a special day and win the race with Ryan second.” She glanced down the starting grid, giving Ryan a quick wave before looking back at Lance.

“That’s the plan.”

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

“We just took our time and was patience,” he told the reporter in victory lane. “It was hard to be patience, but we could’ve easily wadded it up. I took care of my truck all day, and were able to end the day in victor lane. Got to thank Brad Keselowski Racing, Doug Randolph and this whole team, as well as Broken Bow Records.”

“That’s Lance Zeeko, your race winner,” Hermie Sadler says before heading off.

Lance gets set to do the quick interview with MRN, going through his race details for them. As he gets near the end of the interview, Ryan sneaks up behind him and dumps a bottle of Gatorade down his back. Lance jumps and spins around, smiling.

“Nice job!” Ryan congratulates him with a hug. “You did a great job. Very well race and based on how late you made the pass, I say that you made it exciting.” Lance smiles as Emma walks over, joining them.

“Thanks,” he tells Ryan as he wraps an arm around Emma, giving her a kiss. “I knew that Erik wouldn’t have the tires at the end of the run so I just had to be patient. I knew it would come to me if I kept running my line as I was catching him.”

“You’ve definitely matured from your early days….” Lance chuckles, remembering some of his incidents last year.

“That was a touch of determination getting in the way of being smart.”

“So what happened with Jennifer today?” Emma interrupts the pair as Lance looks over, letting out a sigh. Even though he won the race, that wasn’t one of his proudest moments.

“I got into her by accident,” he commented. “I apologize and I hated to see that happen. It’s just lap traffic can be such a pain here. Hopefully, she’ll accept my apology later.”

“She seemed pretty ticked,” Ryan shares, having heard about her little escapade on the track.

“She got out of her truck and came up the track, pointing at me. I’d say that she was mad.”

“NASCAR has already said that she’s getting a penalty for that,” Emma comments, having heard the details of Jennifer’s trip to the hauler. “But forget about that. I’m just so proud of you. You did as you said!” She then wraps her arms around him tighter and gives him a big kiss on the lips.

“Easy sis…” Ryan comments as she looks over at him.

“What? Too much PDA for the brother? You better stay away from the apartment then.” He then covers his eyes and ears as he walks away, causing Emma and Lance to both laugh.

“I knew that you two moving in together was a bad idea. Darrell warned me that you’d probably end up pregnant soon.”

“Don’t worry – I got the slipping the plastic over the cucumber lecture as a kid,” Lance shares as Ryan shakes his head, walking away even faster. Lance then turns his eyes back to Emma with a smile. “You just love tormenting him, don’t you?”

“That’s what siblings are for,” she says. “That, and to protect him from lizard asses.” Lance shakes his head as he pulls her close.

“When are you going to let up on the reigns and let your brother find a girlfriend?”

“When I’m sure he’s mature enough to use his brains rather than his dick.”

“Emma, he’s mature enough. He’s one of the most mature guys in the garage. You can trust him.”

“That’s family matters – not boyfriend matters. Now, aren’t you supposed to be celebrating?”

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

After celebrating in victory lane, the pair returned to the hotel for the night. They agreed to stay over for the weekend to watch Ryan in the XFINITY event the next day as Emma hadn’t missed many of her brother’s races to date.

They had put on a movie, but it seemed as though Lance wasn’t paying attention. A glance over at him and Emma knew that he was lost in her own thoughts. She wondered if they were about the victory, their relationship or something totally out of realm.

She then cuddles a little closer, laying her head on his shoulder as she looks into his eyes.

“What are you thinking about?” She breaks the silences as he looks over at her.

“The win today and how cool it is,” he comments as she looks at him with a smile.

“You did a great job out there.” He shakes his head in agreement as he returns his gaze forward.

“It means even more after last year. I remember my first trip to Dover like it was yesterday. I had it was a physically grueling track, but I thought I was pretty fit and ready for it. Turns out, I wasn’t. Bad leg cramps, uncomfortable through the second half – it was just a day to forget.” He then turns his eyes back to her. “It’s crazy to think how things have changed a year later.” She then rubs his legs a little, running his fingers in a small circles for a massage.

“So, are they sore at all today?” He shakes his head no as he looks down at her fingers.

“No but that feels….really good.” She then chuckles a little as she continues doing it.

“You know that you’re spoiled, right?” He laughs as she continues to move her fingers further up his legs towards his crotch. “I just hope that you’re not too tired to celebrate, Mr. Zeeko.” He then focuses in on her eyes, leaning in for a kiss.

“I’m never too tired to celebrate with you, Ms. Blaney. I think you should know that by now.” He then pulls her close, kissing her lips with more passion as she climbs on top of him. “Besides, I need to get a reward for all my hard work today , right?”

Chapter 85: Miles The Monster

“You’re going to have to build a trophy shelf,” Emma comments as she glances at the counter, seeing Miles the Monster sitting up there beside the Daytona trophy.

“I can build mechanical things but shelves – we’re in trouble,” Lance says as he glances over at the display. “Plus, they look good there.”

“They’re taking up room in the kitchen…”

“And?” She then rolls her eyes.

“That’s right – you’ve never had a female roommate so you wouldn’t understand the need for a girl to have space so she can bake.” He then pauses his game and glances over the couch.

“So let me get this straight. All I have to do is build a shelf, or even buy a shelf, and you’ll bake me cookies and brownies?” She then thinks it over and shrugs her shoulders.

“Perhaps, or I may keep them for myself and the girls. Either way, you need a shelf because you’re going to win more races, and the championship. You’re going to need to put that somewhere.” He then smiles.

“That’s the perfect motivation for a shelf. I’ll have a shelf for the trophies by next week, with a special spot for the championship trophy at season’s end.”

“Are you sure you know what it looks like? Do I need to call Matt so you can borrow one of his?” She then ducks as he chucks a pillow across the room at her. “Okay, that’s another thing. Boys in apartments by themselves are messy. Can you at least keep the furniture where it belongs, and somewhat neat?”

“What fun is in that?” She then walks over to the back of the couch, staring right in his eyes.

“It keeps things neat and tidy and easy to fine. I thought your mom taught you that. Do I need to call her and tell her that you’re being a bad boy?” He then leans in and steals a quick kiss.

“You can do that but I know how to get out of trouble with her, the easy way. I learned very easily as a kid. Besides, I’ll try and follow your rules, okay? I’ll keep to be a little neater and I’ll get the shelf – but you have to promise to bake me some brownies.” She then lets out a sigh.

“Fine.” He then turns back to his video game, unpausing it.

“I thought you had work to do today. Didn’t you tell your mom you were working from home today?” She lets out a sigh as she had been working on stuff all morning and most of the afternoon. It was honestly becoming annoying as she hated staring at numbers and doing accounting. She’d rather be focused on what new shirts to order in and organizing the boutique for the summer season.

“I can think of things that I’d rather be doing than that,” she tells him as she climbs over the back of the couch, sitting beside him. “I’m sure you’d enjoy those more…” She then rubs his leg as she runs her tongue along his cheek.

“And you were supposed to be the shy, sweet, innocent girlfriend.” She then chuckles as she runs her hand over his crotch.

“I have to say that there may be a problem here, but I think you have converted me into a bad little girl.” He then tries to focus on his game, feeling a low moan escape his lips as she rubs his crotch.

“Daaamn…..Why you make it so hard to concentrate?”

“Because I love you.” She then runs her tongue along his lips as he crashes the virtual car into the wall. she then laughs as she stands up. “And I wanted to see you do that. Good luck next time.” She then leaves the room as he glance over towards her room.

“That’s it? That’s all I get?” She then peaks out of the room.

“I’ve got work to do, remember?” She then sits back at her desk, letting out a sigh as she gets back to the work that she has to do.

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

“You know you’re evil,” she whispers as Ryan shrugs his shoulders, quietly closing the door behind him.

“I learned from Darrell,” he comments as he glances around the place. “I see you’ve placed your touch since Cameron moved out.” She then lets out a smile, glancing around at the some of the changes.

“I had to make it feel like home. Now, good luck…” She then heads back into the bedsroom, climbing into bed.

Ryan quietly makes his way across the apartment, grabbing the trophy off of the counter and hiding it in the bathroom shower. He then heads back out, hiding in the small hall closet, trying not to laugh.

He hears the alarm go off in the bedsroom, hearing them both make stretching sounds.

“Good morning,” Lance says as he leans in and gives Emma a quick kiss.

“Morning,” she replies, trying to keep the smile that wanted to creep on her face away.

“If I can get out of BKR early tonight, I’ll come pick you up and take you to dinner, okay?” She shakes her head yes as she watches him get out of bed. He then heads out of the besdroom and walks into the bathroom. He then opens the shower, letting out a scream and jumping back, bumping into the bathroom sink. “How’d you get here?” He then picks Miles up, carrying him out of the bathroom and walking back to the bedsroom. “Emma, I know you were mad about Miles being on the counter, but did you put him in the bathtub?” She immediately erases her smile that had been there from laughing and shakes her head no.

“I kept my word of not touching the trophies since you agreed to get the shelf. Did you stick him there in the middle of the night?” Lance glances at the trophy and shakes his head no.

“Maybe they’re right and he can be haunting at times. Either way, that’s a creepy sight to have undressed to.” He then takes the trophy and puts it back on the kitchen counter, before returning to the bathroom to get his shower.

Ryan sneaks out of the closet, quietly, and snags the trophy off of the counter. He then takes it in the bedsroom, placing it on the dresser with a wink at Emma.

“If he doesn’t kill you, he’s going to kill me,” she tells him as Ryan shrugs his shoulders.

“Tell him that you’re going to check the mail,” he replies. “Then leave and let me continue.”

“He’s going to kill you…” Ryan then laughs as he leaves the room, going back into the closet. Emma gets dressed into a pair of pants and t-shirt quickly, putting her hair up in a pony tail. She then heads out of the bedsroom, hearing the water has stopped in the bathroom. “Lance, I’m going to check the mail quick.”

“Okay!” He replies as she heads out of the apartment, closing the door behind her. Lance, meanwhile, comes out of the shower with the towel wrapped around his waist. He heads into the bedsroom, immediately seeing the trophy on the dresser. “I knew Emma was messing with me. Miles, you’re not going to watch me get dressed. You’ve seen enough.” He then picks the trophy back up, putting it back on the counter with its back turned to the center of the kitchen.

He returns to the bedsroom, getting dressed in a dress shirt and pair of blue jeans for the day. He knew that he had a meeting with Doug Randolph early in the morning, followed by a couple interviews due to the win that past weekend.

He heads to the kitchen, grabbing a bowl down from the cupboard. He grabs the cereal, pulling some into the bowl. He then turns to grab the milk out of the fridge, turning around to pull the milk into the bowl. His eyes go up as he finishes pouring the milk, noticing the pair of red eyes facing him.

“Weren’t you just turned….the…other…way?” He asks as he glances around. “Emma?” He then shrugs his shoulders as he spins the trophy back forward. “Perhaps I put it up there backwards.”

He then puts the milk back in fridge before picking up the bowl and heading to the front room. He sits on the couch, turning on the television, figuring he might as well watch the morning news as he ate. If anything, it’d give him an idea of the traffic that he’d encounter heading into the shop.

Ryan watches as Lance fully concentrates on the television show and his bowl of cereal, sneaking back up and grabbing the trophy off of the counter. He then moves to hide back behind the couch, covering his mouth as he feels a strong laugh coming on. He then throws a small ping pong ball at the counter, which causes Lance to glance over.

“Miles?” He questions as he notices the monster trophy is not on the table. He then quickly gets off of the couch, rushing over to the area and checking to see if maybe the trophy had fallen off of the counter. Glancing around, he finds no evidence of that being the case, but rather a simple bouncy ball on the ground. He bends down and picks it up, glancing around the kitchen. “Emma? Miles? Emma?….This is getting creepy. What’s going on?”

Lance then returns back to the living room, finding Miles sitting on the coffee table beside his bowl of cereal. Ryan could only laugh as he hid back in the closet once again.

“Emma?” Lance calls out again, certain that Emma was playing the trick on him. “Emma, where are you?” He then watches the front door open and Emma walks in, hanging the mail key back up. “Emma, do you know anything about Miles?” She then glances up.

“He’s a trophy made to look like a monster?” She offers as he shakes his head no.

“He’s been following me around all morning. He was in the bathroom, then the besdroom, then the kitchen and now here. You wouldn’t know anything, would you?” She shakes her head no as she walks into the bedsroom.

“I was at the mail box, remember?” He then glances back towards the bedsroom at her.

“So you didn’t move him around on me?” She shakes her head no as she tosses him some junk mail.

“You checked the mail yesterday and there was nothing. I checked it and there was this. That means that I checked the mail, Lance. Maybe you’re just going nuts.”

“No way….this monster is haunted…” He then takes Miles and puts him back on the counter, before returning to finish the rest of his cereal.

Once he is done his cereal, he takes it and puts the bowl in the sink, double checking that the trophy hadn’t moved. He then heads to the bathroom, set to brush his teeth and give his hair a quick brush before heading out.

As he’s in the bathroom, Ryan sneaks out of hiding, grabs the trophy and stops by Emma.

“Give me the spare truck keys!” He whispers and she points to the hook. He then hurries out of the apartment with spare keys and trophy in hand.

Lance comes out of the bathroom, not even glancing towards the counter as he was done dealing with the monster. It had to be just a figment of his imagination that morning. Perhaps he had actually moved the monster around himself. He then puts his shoes on, grabbing his sweater.

“Bye Em!” He calls, blowing her a kiss.

“Bye Lance!” She replies, blowing back a kiss in return.

He then heads down to the garage, finding his truck where he had parked it the night before. HE opens the driver’s door, set to get in when he notices the trophy sitting in the driver’s seat.

“Miles?” He questions, now really creeped out as he picks the trophy up. He then notices a note and a set of spare keys below it. He picks up in the note, unfolding it.

Miles…Miles…. Lol I had fun this morning. Thanks for the laugh. –Ryan

“You little shit!” He yells as he tosses the note across his truck, shaking his head. He then places Miles in the passenger seat, putting the belt on him before putting on his own belt. “Guess you’re coming to work with me today, buddy. I need to keep an eye on you.”

A Cowboy’s Chance – Chapters 71 Thru 75

Chapter 76: Daytona!!!

“I can’t believe it….I can’t believe it….” Lance comments over the radio as shock comes over him.

He had done it. He had scored career win #1 in the Camping World Truck Series at one of the biggest tracks on the tour – Daytona. They say dreams come true, but this was beyond even that.

Following a burn-out on the frontstretch as he let the victory still soak in, he headed to victory lane. He couldn’t wait to celebrate with the team, his family that had come down to watch him and best of all – his girlfriend. In one word – everything was “perfect”.

He pulls into victory lane, slowly pulling off of his helmet and HANS device, still shaking his head in disbelief. Was this really happening?

“I told you that you could do it!” He hears a female voice as lips come across his, giving one of the best kisses ever. he then smiles as she backs up a little and he gets a good look into her eyes. “I told you that you could!”

“I can’t believe it happened, though,” he replies back to Emma. “I love you so much.”

“I love you even more.” She then leans in and gives him another kiss, both smiling as widely as they can. “I can’t wait to celebrate with you later tonight.”

“Oh don’t you worry about that, cutie. I’m going to make sure that it’s very special.”

She then moves back as the NASCAR official motions that the cameras are ready to go. He then climbs out, pumping an arm in the air and letting out a huge scream as the crew soaks him with every liquid imaginable.
This was paradise.

He then hops off of the truck, clearing his throat as he focuses on the camera man before him.

“What does it mean to win here at Daytona?” The reporter asks as he tries to put his thoughts in perspective.

“It feels amazing,” he commented. “I can’t begin to say how thankful I am to be apart of BKR. All of these guys made this possible – we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. My teammate, I wouldn’t be here without his teammate. It was outstanding tonight. We got it to victory lane here in Daytona.” As he let the words spew from his mouth, it was just like a dream. He couldn’t believe that everything was actually happening. Was he really standing in victory lane at Daytona?

With a couple more comments shared, the reporter gives him the signal that they’re done before heading off. A couple other reporters join in for comments as well, as he continues to shake his head in disbelief. It was hard to believe something that he had dreamed of since he was a little kid was actually coming true.

“You did a great job out there!” Doug wraps his arms around Lance and hugs him as Lance can only smile. He then glances back at Doug.

“Please tell me this is real,” he states. “Please tell me this isn’t a dream.”

“This isn’t a dream, kid. We’re standing in victory lane at Daytona. Do you need me to pinch you?”

“I can do that for you, Mr. Randolph,” Emma chimes in, before pinching Lance’s butt, causing him to jump.

“It’s reality!” He lets out before spinning around and pulling her close to him once again. “I wouldn’t want to be in victory lane with anyone else, except for you. You’re truly amazing. I’m so glad that you’re here with me. I love you so much.”

“I love you even more – always.” She then leans in and kisses his lips once again. he then glances down at her feet with a smile.

“I think it was the boots. They brought the lucky charm.”

“Nah. It was loving that we did on the truck at the shop.” Lance just laughs as he remembers the fun they had before leaving for Daytona.

“Perhaps we need to go for round two before Atlan-”

“Hey!” Doug lets out, catching their attention with a laugh.

“Ah come on Doug,” Emma starts. “As long as you keep winning races, certainly you can put up with it.” Doug just shakes his head in disbelief as he watches the pair.

“You two are just too much. How am I going to put up with you both all year?”

“By celebrating as much as you want in victory lane a lot,” Lance states with a smile. He came into the year believing that they could win the championship, and this didn’t change his perspective at all. If anything, it showed the world that he meant it.

“I hope you’re on to something,” Doug comments.

They then head up on the stage, set to go through the trophy presentation. As they get up on stage, Lance comes face to face with Brad for the first time since securing the victory. He could smile as he saw a smile equal to his on the boss’ face.

“Thank you for giving me a chance,” Lance comments as he holds out his hand.

“Thank you for bringing this team to victory lane at Daytona,” Brad replies, pulling Lance into a big hug as Lance can only smile. “You and Austin worked great together tonight. I’m proud of you both. Great job.”

“This is only the start of what’s to come this year.” Brad then lets him go and locks eyes with the young man before him.

“While that may be the case, make sure that you truthfully and fully celebrate this win. Make this win a very special memory. It’s your first, and it’ll always mean the most. Don’t let your determination stand in the way of soaking it in.”

“Yes sir.”

Lance then focuses in on the presentation of the trophy. With each motion in victory lane, the moment began to soak in more and more. While he wanted to just accept it as a win and focus forward to the rest of the year, he also knew that this was bigger than that. It was his first truck win. It was everything that he had worked towards. He wasn’t going to let this moment slip through the clouds.

He then starts going through the motions of the hat dance with the team, followed by the solo shots that were required with each sponsor.

“Smile wide and pretty boy!” He hears a voice yell from below the stage and can only laugh. He then looks down at Cameron and gives him a wave.

“Get your ass up here!” He yells down as Cameron shakes his head no.

“This is your moment to shine. Enjoy it. Celebrate it. Take it all in.” Lance then flips the hat off, flinging out to the crowd as he takes a couple steps forward, kneeling down to face Cameron.

“I want a hug from my best friend!”

“I wrecked tonight. This is your mome-”

“Oh stop blubbering and get your ass up here!” Cameron then lets out a sigh as he turns around, hopping up on the stage, back and bum first. He then swings his feet up, standing up on the stage as he looks at Lance in the eyes.

“Is it everything that you thought it’d be?” Lance shakes his head no as he looks around.

“It’s everything, and even much more. It just feels so surreal and so special. I can almost not put it in the words.” Cameron smiles as he gives him a pat on the shoulder.

“I’m proud of you. You did a great job leading that pack all night long. I’m surprised at how well you and Austin co-operated together at the front of the field.” Lance smiles as that was a shocker, too, considering how the teammates hadn’t seen eye-to-eye with his thoughts on Emma.

“Let’s just say that he knows he better co-operate in front of the boss. Besides, he knew what he had to do to stay up front.” Cameron shakes his head in disbelief.

“Smart man….smart man. Way to go. I’m proud of you. I’ll let you continue your hat dance.” Cameron then heads off towards the side steps of the stage.

“You’ll get your win, buddy. It’ll happen before you know it and I’ll make sure that I come congratulate you.”

“You better!” Cameron then heads off as Lance takes a sigh, returning back to his spot next to the trophy to continue his obligations.

This was certainly paradise.

Chapter 77: Atlanta

“Solid run once again,” Doug comments as he walks over and gives Lance a high-five.

Lance smiles as he leans back against his truck. It was a solid run indeed. Another solid top-five finish as he had finished fifth despite a pit road speeding penalty. That darn penalty….a small mistake. He knew that he’d have to eliminate those moving forward.

“I’m sorry about speeding on pit road there,” he says as Doug gives him a look. “We could’ve done much better if I hadn’t done that.”

“You’re young and you’re bound to make some mistakes,” Doug shares. “You don’t need to be so hard on yourself. I’m not mad and the team isn’t mad. Besides, you got that track position back.” Lance shakes his head in agreement as he certainly had to work hard to get back up there.

“Thanks. I just…..I can’t be doing that.”

“So you learn and move forward. That’s all you can do. A trip over to Penske the next couple of weeks could help cure your disappointment.” Lance shakes his head in agreement, knowing that some pit road practice would be a good idea. Perhaps he could work out those bugs. While he had made it back this time, that wasn’t a guarantee for the next time.

“Good idea. Thanks for the good truck. What happened to the boss?” Doug shakes his head in disbelief.

“They stayed out when everybody pitted and then he came down under green and had a penalty. He was trapped a lap down from there on. He finished in the teens.” Lance shakes his head in surprise. He thought that Brad would’ve been up there fighting Matt for the win.

“Everybody knows that you pit every caution at Atlanta.”

“Chad said he left it up to Brad and Brad decided to stay out. Chad believed that based on Brad’s experience. I tried to tell them.”

“They’ll learn – no worries. As you said, live and learn to move on to another day.”

“There’s the spirit. I’ll see you at the shop Monday.” Doug then heads off to help the team pack up as Lance just relaxes.

He then heads for the garage area, wondering as to where Emma was. Normally she’d meet him on pit road after the race and they’d talk. But yet, tonight, she wasn’t there. He then remembered that Ryan was there that weekend watching so perhaps they were chit chatting as siblings do. He then texts her, asking where she is as he makes his way through the garage.

“So how’d you get her to love you?” He hears and glances over, seeing Austin. He rolls his eyes. He honestly thought that they were past this based on how well they worked together at Daytona.

“It just….happened,” Lance answers, not really having any true secret.

“Yeah, well it seems as though you’re changing that girl. Did you hear about her snapping on me a couple weeks ago?” Lance then looks over at Austin, confused. He hadn’t heard of any discussions between the pair lately.

“No….”

“Well, she told me that she was moving in with you. I wanted to make sure that she was certain of her decision and asked her. That escalated and next thing she’s yelling at me to get out of her business and to get out.” Lance crosses his arms, not surprised. He would’ve had the same type of reaction and was glad to see that Emma didn’t allow Austin to cross the line.

“You should’ve minded your own business, Austin. It’s that simple.”

“Listen, we were close and friends. She was also the sweetest little thing that I ever knew then. Now that she’s with you, I don’t know.” Lance shrugs his shoulders, not really having anything to say. In his mind, she was still the same sweet person that he met a year ago.

“Maybe if you showed her respect, you’d still be friends with her.” Lance then glances at his phone as he reads Emma’s text. “See ya around.” He then heads off to the garage area, finding the bathrooms as she comes out.

“Sorry – I had to go really badly,” she comments as she pulls him close to her. “I love you. Great run tonight.”

“I love you too,” he replies as he keeps his eyes locked on hers. “And thank you. I did the best that I could after that mistake.” She then runs her hand down his cheek.

“Honey, mistakes are going to happen. It’s all about how you overcome them and you did one helluva job.”

“So what’s this deal with you telling Austin off? He told me about it and said that I’m changing you.” Emma then freezes immediately, wanting to haul off and yell at Austin in the face. She hadn’t wanted to bring it up as she was set to leave that in the past. She just wanted to focus on what she had with Lance.

“He butted in my business so I told him where to stick it. I’m not going to stand for him being like that. That’s not what friends do.” He smiles as it was the exact reason that he thought. “And babes, you’re not changing me. I’m still who I am. I’m just growing even closer with each passing day with you.”

“And I can’t wait for that to continue the next couple of weeks. I want to make the apartment perfect for us both.” He then kisses her lips once again before they head off towards the garage area.

Chapter 78: The Off-Weeks

Lance puts the ribs in the oven, pleased with how they looked. He hoped that they turned out as good as they looked. He then makes his way through the small apartment, glancing into what had become Emma’s office.

With the couple of weeks off since the last race, the pair had gotten a lot done on their apartment space. Emma had pretty much moved all of her stuff in, finding places to put her clothes and belongings throughout. She also had worked hard on setting up her little office so she’d have her space to work when she wasn’t at the boutique with her mom.

With Lance doing well on the track and the apartment coming along nicely with Emma, there were honestly no complaints to be had about his current situation.

He then sneaks into the room quietly, sneaking up behind her and wrapping his arms around her, giving her a kiss. She then glances over her shoulder with a small smile.

“And I thought you said that you were well-behaving, sweet cowboy type,” she comments as he laughs, letting her go.

“Hey now – I didn’t start stripping you right here or laying kisses over every inch of you,” he defends his actions with a smile. She then turns around to face him, smiling in return.

“That’s true, I’ll give you that. Perhaps my ways are having a good effect on you.” He then looks at her with surprise.

“You’re good ways? Right….because it’s all my fault that we were caught in the trailer together. I see how it is.” She then crosses her arms.

“I was the sweet innocent big sister keeping Ryan out of trouble till you showed up. That has to be your entire fault and none of mine.” He then pulls her close to him, looking into her eyes.

“I didn’t hear you complaining, did I?” She then rolls her eyes as she escapes his hold, returning to her boxes.

“Did you put the ribs on?” He shakes his head yes as he leans back against the wall, watching her shift through things.

“They’re in the oven and cooking. When are you going to be done unpacking?” She then glances over her shoulder at him, before returning her eyes to the box.

“Only a couple more boxes and I’m done. You should know with me that I’d have a killer amount of clothes and belongings. Call me the typical girl. Now, can we eat the ribs without dying?” He then looks at her surprised.

“So you don’t trust my cooking?” She shrugs her shoulders with a small smile. She had to admit – he was pretty good at times.

“I just don’t you scaring the guests, that’s all.” With the weeks off in a row, Cameron was coming down to visit and spend time with Lance since the pair didn’t see each other much since he moved. With his first night in town, they had also invited Erik, Chase, Darrell and Ryan over to enjoy a night of fun hanging out. Emma knew that meant that she’d be stuck with a bunch of guys, but she’d get some relief in knowing that Shelby was coming with Darrell.

“Don’t worry – I followed the recipe to a key. The ribs should be good.”

“I hope you’re right. My mom said that she cooked them the other night that way and dad was in total love.” Lance smiles, figuring that it was a good seal of approval.

“Well, you’ll be in total love when you taste mine after.” She shakes her head, hoping that’s the case.

“So, what were you saying about next weekend?” Lance smiles, remembering the phone call from his brother yesterday.

“Next weekend is the opening night for my home track back home. I’ve never missed an opening night – no matter what I’ve been racing anywhere. This looks to be the biggest opening night that they’ve ever had, too. Brandon called to make sure that I was coming. I told him that I was. I hoping that you could join me.” Emma thinks it over, thinking that it was a good idea. She enjoyed spending time with his family as they were all very friendly and welcoming, especially his mother – even if she had a fascination with taking too many photos sometimes. She also enjoyed the night that she spent with him at the track the last time, but had a special reason for that since he had picked up a win.

“I guess I’ll have to highly consider that offer.” Lance knew by her words that probably meant she was coming, but knew there was a possibility if things were real busy with the boutique. That was also the Talladega NASCAR weekend, and she liked being there for Ryan. “Are you going to be driving anything?” Lance shrugs his shoulders. Brandon told him that the car was still there – hadn’t sold yet – and was race ready if he wanted to drive it. It was a question whether he wanted to race, or sit back and relax for a night watching. It was nice to do that, sometimes, especially when it came to watching his cousin Grayson.

“Brandon says the car is ready to go. If I told you that I was racing, would that shift the offer to a yes?” She then grins as she glances at a photo as she takes it out of the box. She then places it up on the desk beside her laptop, smiling. It was from that special win that night. His mom had brought the photo, framed, down to Daytona and given it to her. It was one of her special keepsakes now.

“I say you should drive. It’d be interesting to see if you could top that win.” Lance glances at the photo, remembering how magical that night was. It was certainly a special, yet crazy weekend. His brother won the Saturday night, while he had motor problems. They managed to change the motor and on Sunday, he dominated with a beautiful victory.

“I don’t think there’s anything that could top that weekend.” She stands up and glances out to the hallway, seeing the 16×14 photo that hung of the hug that the brothers shared on the Saturday night.

“That hug….that was just magical. There were people in the stands that were about to cry because of how adorable that was. It was just – sweet.” She then looks back at him. “You’re right – nothing would top that weekend, or winning in Daytona. But, I bet you could still make a sweet memory.” He was seriously considering the idea, now. He knew it wouldn’t be easy, though, given the fact that he hadn’t run the car since last summer. He also hadn’t done any upgrades over the winter. That probably equaled a decent disadvantage compared to everyone else that was doing practice laps, and changing things over in their cars.

“I tell you what – I’ll give Brandon a call and tell him that I’m interested in running it. It’ll just depend whether he can do some quick changes to it before the weekend. Either way, you’re going to have fun with my family again.” They then hear a knock at the door and share a smile, knowing that their conversations could wait till later.

Their guests had arrived.

Chapter 79: Canada

“Still feels like home….” Lance comments as he pulls up the long driveway to the house and glances over at Emma with a smile.

“So this is where you grew up?” Austin asks from the backseat as Lance shakes his head yes.

He hadn’t wanted his teammate to join him. He was still at odds with Austin following his comments about his relationship with Emma, and Austin’s past with Emma. However, his brother called saying that they’d need a couple extra hands if they were going to able to allow Lance to run his car while his brother ran his. So for that reason, Lance asked Cameron originally tag along and serve as spotter – but Cameron already had plans in Alberta with his parents. That left Lance asking Austin, and for some reason, he had accepted. Lance just hoped the guy knew something about working on super stocks, and could do a decent job spotting.

“I spent the first 15 years of my life at my mom’s house,” Lance answers. “Then I moved here when I turned 16. I wanted to be closure to the racecar, and closure to my job. My mom accepted because she knew that she could trust that I’d behave and had a policy of checking in on me.” Austin looks around, checking out the area. He could see the small house that went along with the big garage; there was no doubt about there probably being a couple racecars in there. He noticed the surrounding feelings, giving him the feeling that they were out in the country still with being so close to the city. It was somewhat nice.

“So you grew up in a city but have the persona of a cowboy?” Lance shuts the car off as he glances back at Austin.

“Being country isn’t where you live, but rather in your heart. The country persona just seems fits to better. I’d rather be at a bonfire than some club. I’d rather be sitting in the back of a pick-up enjoying a picnic, rather than a fancy restaurant for a date. I’d rather listen to Luke Bryan than Eminem or Jay-Z. Do you see where I’m going?” Austin shakes his head yes as they get out of the car.

Lance glances towards the garage as they hold their suitcases in hand. He knew that it’d be a good idea to throw the stuff in the house, and figure out where Austin was going to sleep for the night. However, he was tempted to go see his car first. He had missed his baby, after all.

“It’s about time!” Lance hears and immediately smiles as his grandpa comes out of the house. Lance goes up on the porch and gives him a hug. “What happened to coming and seeing me at least once a month?” Lance chuckles.

“Life has been busy – I’m sorry,” he replies as his grandpa smiles.

“Oh that’s right because you’re a big superstar now with winning at Daytona – I forgot about that. I thought you told me that you weren’t going to change.” Lance lets out a sigh as Emma joins him on the porch.

“I’m sorry, okay? I promise to stick to my word in the coming months. I’m sure Emma will make sure that I do.” His grandpa’s eyes turn to Emma as a smile forms on his face.

“He’s still treating you right?” Emma shakes his head yes. “That’s a good boy since I know that you’re a good girl. It’s nice to see you, Emma.”

“It’s nice to see you as well,” Emma replies as grandpa looks over at Austin.

“Who is he?” Grandpa asks as Lance looks back at Austin with a smile.

“Brandon called and said I’d need someone else to spot with this weekend being busy,” he starts. “So I asked my teammate. Gramps, meet Austin. Austin, this is my grandpa – who also happens to be the car owner.” Austin walks up the porch steps and holds out his hand.

“It’s nice to meet you sir,” Austin states politely as the older man shakes his hand. The older man gives him a look over before turning to Lance.

“Wasn’t he the one that you compla-” His grandpa starts.

“Grandpa, let’s not talk about that right now,” Lance cuts him off, giving Austin a smile. “We talked and things are straightened out. He knows to keep his comments to himself. Besides, he was the last option that I had.”

“You’re here!!!” Lance hears and turns to the garage door, seeing Laura come running out. She runs up the steps and gives Lance a big hug as Brandon comes out with a smile on his face.

“It’s nice to see you as well.” Laura then glances over at Emma and gives her a hug as well.

“So glad that you could come. I need someone to help calm my nerves when Brandon is racing.” Emma chuckles as she waves to Brandon. “Seriously, how do you not get nervous watching Lance and Ryan?” Emma shrugs her shoulders.

“Been around it my whole life,” she comments. “I guess I’m immune now.” Laura shakes her head in disbelief.

“Ugh, I don’t think I could ever get used to it. I’m always nervous and screaming for him to do better.” Emma lets out a small chuckle.

“Austin, this is my brother’s girlfriend Laura,” Lance introduces them as the pair shake hands. “That’d be my brother Brandon. Guys, this is Austin.”

“How do you get to cross the border with Lan-” Laura starts.

“Let’s not talk about that right now, okay? That’s behind us.” Laura rolls her eyes as she snatches the bags, taking them in the house.

“You guys are upstairs in the normal room. Austin – that gives you the couch.” She then heads inside, secretly hoping one of the springs in the couch would break and stick up Austin’s butt based on what she heard about him to date.

“I hope you’re okay with the couch.” Austin shakes his head.

“It’s fine. No problem there. It’s just nice hearing these great comments from your family, Lance.” Lance lets out a sigh as he looks over at Austin.

“Look, when I have shit going on – I talk it over with my family. That includes my mother, my grandpa, Laura and Brandon. I’m sorry for the comments. I should’ve told them that we straightened things out – well, at least agreed to work professionally without further comments – and asked them to keep their mouths shut. I’m sorry.” Austin shrugs his shoulders.

“Whatever. It is what it is, right? Can’t wait to meet your mom tomorrow if that’s the case.” Lance lets out a sigh. There was merit to that comment as he knew that his mom would chew Austin’s butt out.

“I’ll give her warning first, okay? I’m sorry. Want to go see the car?” Austin shakes his head yes as they head to the garage. they go inside and immediately, Austin’s eyes land on the late model in the garage.

“So this is the car?” Lance shakes his head no.

“That’s my brother’s late model. Pretty quick car, though, as he won a couple features last year. This is my baby…” Lance rips the tarp off of the car, revealing the Monte Carlo underneath. “It’s a super stock, second tier division at the track.” Austin looks over it, surprised.

“Not bad…not bad. So how’d you catch the attention of Brad Keselowski with this?”

“His hard driving style, never give up attitude, the way he handles sponsors and some of his weekends when he drove a friend’s late model landed him the opportunity to go to New Smyrna with BKR,” Brandon answers as Austin looks over at the brother. He could tell that any negative comments about Lance wouldn’t be tolerated as it seemed the group was a tight pack. That was fine, though, as he was set to be professional this weekend.

“That makes sense then,” Austin comments as he continues to look over the car. “So, what can I expect when I get there tomorrow night?” Lance smiles as he leans back against the wall.

“It’s going to be war,” Lance states. “40 cars are registered and will be trying to qualify. 10 of them are decent in the speed department – five, including this car, can win on any given night. We don’t play nice either – this is rough and tumble racing. Any rubbing, bumping and potentially wrecking each other goes. I’ve had tires cut and I’ve been turned purposely. I’ve also been bumped out of the groove. Needless to say, you have to be on your game and ready to fight with the best of them.” Lance then eyes Austin carefully. “As long as you do your job on the spotter’s stand, telling where people are around me and what I need to know, I can handle it behind the wheel.”

“Welcome to his world!” Emma comments as she hops up on top of the car, sitting on the roof.

“Hey – you’re not supposed to do that till victory lane!” Brandon complains as she looks over with a grin.

“I’m just practicing because I have confidence in my baby….” She then tugs on Lance’s shirt, pulling him close and kissing his lips.

Chapter 80: Race Night

“Feeling alright?” Lance asks as he watches the late model time trials finish up. He had watched his brother’s lap closely, pleased with how things went. It wasn’t the quickest, but it wasn’t that far off either.

“It’s crazy how many cars are here, the race format and just….Wow,” Austin comments as Lance chuckles.

“And they say us Canadian boys don’t have nothing on the U.S. racing.” Austin glances around, checking out the variety of cars and the amount of stands in the grandstands.

“It’s not the same for sure. You guys don’t seem as dedicated with it or hardcore about it as we are, and the cars don’t seem as quick.” Lance shakes his head, understanding.

“That’s normally what we here. However, we may not seem as dedicated, but we are. We just like to keep it low key and have some fun while we’re doing it.” He then checks out the final rundown following qualifying. “Brandon will start 15th later. That is going to make it tough.” The pair then head down the hill together.

“So late models….”

“We’ve got 10 to 15 guys that can win any night. If you’re starting in the teens, you have your work cut out for you. The winner will come out the top-five, and I’m just hoping that Brandon can pull a top-five finish off with where he is starting.” Austin shakes his head, understanding.

“What about your division?” Lance glances over at Austin, before pointing to one of the cars.

“That guy is stupid fast usually. He’s the one that you got to really watch for. If you’re quicker than him, you have a real shot. Beyond him, keep an eye on the 76, as well as the 07. The 07 was quick before, but he’s a bit of a madman. Let’s just say that he reminds me of how idiotic Kyle (Busch) would drive at times.” Austin chuckles as he walks back to the pit with Lance.

“So a lot of speed and talent, but no brains?” Lance shakes his head yes as he reaches the car.

“Grab a radio and head back up to the stands. I’m up in a good 10 minutes. It’s tough to find a spot to spot from due to no set spotter’s stand – but there’s normally a couple spots high up that will work.” Lance then focuses on getting set to go as Austin heads off to do as instructed.

It was weird to be getting along so well with his teammate. They hadn’t talked much since their encounter in the shop, or the encounter that Emma had with him in the office. They had all decided it’d be best to not discuss things with each other as it seemed nobody wanted to co-operate. However, so far this weekend, there had been no problems as everybody was getting along well without issues. Better, it seemed as though the pair were forming a bit of a friendship and understanding for each other. Rather than holding a highly appointed opinion, Austin was willing to listen and learn some things. Perhaps the trip had been a good idea, after all.

“Good luck,” Emma interrupts his thoughts as she gives him a quick kiss. “See ya in victory lane.”

“We’ll see what happens,” he replies before climbing in the car. She then heads up the stands, set to watch the racing action.

The first qualifying race of the night started off really well as Lance was quickly able to move up from the second starting spot to the lead and led the rest of the way en route to scoring the victory. A quick photo with the checkered flag, and off the track he was.

He returns to the pits after going through tech inspection, climbing out of the car and looking things over. For the most part, the car handled really well – however, it could be just a touch tighter, if warranted. But still, he was happy with his start to the afternoon.

“Lance!” Lance hears and immediately rolls his eyes before spinning around to face the blond that was running towards him. “It’s so nice to see you! Congratulations!”

“Jessy, it’s nice to see you as well,” he replies with a smile on his face, secretly wanting to kick her ass. “Thank you.” He was even surprised that she was coming up to him. The last time that they had talked, he had told her to screw off and never come near him again. That was at the year-end banquet when, while they were dating, he found her making-out with a rival’s crew member in the hallway.

“I can’t believe the little superstar that you’ve become. I always believed that you’d become famous.” He then sips a water bottle as he heads into the trailer, hoping that she’d disappear.

“The hard work paid off.” He then comes out of the trailer, trying to determine some plan to escape her. “Say, don’t you have some place to be?” She then looks around and shrugs her shoulders.

“No, not really. I wanted to catch up with you.” He then laughs, crossing his arms. Enough games.

“I thought you’d take my advice and screw off. It’s very strange to see you right here close to me, Jessy.” She then smiles as she closes the gap between them.

“What are you going to do, Lance? Call your own precious security guards.”

“Why don’t you go back lizzardville?” Brandon then interrupts the pair as Jessy gives him a look.

“I thought that’s where you got Laura from,” she shoots back, earning a glare from Brandon as he closes the gap.

“Want to say that again?” Lance then steps in between the pair.

“Brandon, don’t touch her,” Lance states as Jessy smiles.

“Awww Lancey is going to protect me!” She lets out as Lance gives her a look.

“Only because I don’t want my brother getting in shit for touching your ass. Now move on out because I call one of the track officials over here.”

“Lance?” A new voice chimes in as Emma heads over towards them with Laura and a couple others.

“I’m going to get you back, one way or another,” Jessy whispers in Lance’s ear before kissing his lips. “I’ll see you later babes. Need to go see how Travis makes out.” She then walks away, shooting Emma a smile as she walks by, before heading up to watch the racing action.

“Yuck!” Lance lets out as he wipes his hand across his mouth.

“What was that?” Emma questions, obviously surprised by the kiss. If she hadn’t seen the disgust written on Lance’s face or Brandon’s anger, she would’ve high-tailed it the other direction immediately. Instead, she was willing to give him a chance to explain.

“That was my ex-girlfriend Jessy. She’s the one that I told you about – the whole banquet deal.” Emma glances back towards the direction the girl headed before returning her eyes to Lance. She did seem like the skanky type.

“And?” Lance shrugs his shoulders.

“She came over congratulating me and I eventually told her off after awhile. She then made a comment to Brandon about Laura, in which I stopped him from kicking her ass as he doesn’t need to get kicked out. She then whispered in her ear that she was going to get me back one way or another before kissing my lips before I could do anything.” Lance then closes the gap between him and Emma. “I wouldn’t ever cheat on you, ever. I love you too much to do that. You mean everything to me. Don’t think that I tried something.”

“I believe you – don’t worry. Just don’t let her lay her paws on you again, okay?” Lance shakes his head yes as he wraps an arm around Emma and holds her close.

Back by the track, Jessy had met back up with one of her fellow track girls.

“Koda, I’m telling you – they’re just disgusting together,” she comments as Koda glances towards Emma and Lance.

“She totally isn’t his type,” Koda says. “He was never someone to go for a goody two-shoes type, anyway. We both know that.” Jessy chuckles, remembering the fun times that they had over the years.

“I told him that I was going to get him back one way or another and kissed his lips right in front of her.” Koda holds her hand up for a high-five, in which Jessy returns easily. “We got to start going to some of his races in the States.”

“You read my mind, girl. I already got us tickets for Kansas and Charlotte.” Jessy smiles. It was going to be a couple of interesting weeks to come as she already had a plan in mind.

“I can’t wait to get down there. In the meanwhile, I say we check out that hot stud that came along with them.” Koda looks over at Austin and simply licks her lips. He was definitely a cutie.

Lance and Emma were quickly able to put the incident behind them as Lance focused on getting the car set for the rest of the night. They certainly had the right set-up as he would go out in the fast qualifiers dash.

Afterwards, they walked over to the tech shed to draw for Lance’s feature starting spot.

“Are you sure that she should pick the number?” Brandon questions as Lance shrugs his shoulders.

“She can’t pick worse than I do,” he answers, normally having picked anything from eighth on back. Emma then sticks her hand in the pail, pulling out one of the poker chips. She then flips it over, revealing a 14.

“Sorry,” she replies to Lance as she hands the chip over to the line-up steward.

“It’s fine. I usually pick around there anyway.” He then wraps his arms around her, kissing her cheek. “I love you and I can still win for you from there. It’s just going to be a little tougher.” She then spins around in his arms to face her.

“I believe in you. You’re my little superstar, remember?” She then kisses his lips before they head back to his pit stall.

When it came feature time, she helped him buckle in and got him set to go out. She then gave him one final kiss before he headed out for the 30 lap feature.

There was no doubt that the car was fast and there was no doubt that he tried as hard as he could. However, when the 30 lap race was over, he came up just one spot short – finishing second.

“You did a good job,” Emma tells him afterwards. “I’m proud of you. That was a heck of a drive.”

“The car was fast – just needed a caution to catch him,” Lance comments as he glances over at his buddy in victory lane. “Dawson has been one of the strongest kids in these cars since he began driving them a couple years ago. For a 15 year old, he’s got a lot of talent.”

“Are you suggesting that BKR sign him to a development deal?” Austin questions as Lance glances over.

“It wouldn’t surprise me as sometimes I think he is better than I am. If I can’t win, I’d rather he win than anyone else.”

“You’re still number one in my books!” Emma comments as she pulls Lance close, giving him a kiss.

Austin had to admit – he was warming up to the idea of them being together. However, he couldn’t totally accept it. Perhaps it was his own feelings for Emma, or perhaps it was the situation that happened earlier with Jessy. What if there was more to that story?

A Cowboy’s Chance – Chapters 71 Thru 75

Chapter 71: Birthday Surprise Continued

“Are you having fun so far?” He questions as he wraps an arm around her. She looks at him with a smile as they lay in the back of his truck together.

“This is perfect, beyond perfect,” she comments as she fixes her eyes on the sky. The sun was almost set, bringing forth one of the most beautiful views with the setting sun and stars beginning to form on the sky.

“I’m glad. This was something that I did a lot as a kid. I’d drive off into a field, and lay in the truck just looking at the sky. Sometimes it was to clear my mind, sometimes for the view, and sometimes just because I was left with my own dreams.” He then turns his eyes towards her. “Those dreams are coming true. I’ve got my truck ride, and I’ve got the most beautiful stunning girl along my side. I love you, Emma.” He then leans in and kisses her lips as she accepts the kiss easily, wrapping an arm around him.

“I love you too, and I wouldn’t want to spend my birthday anywhere else than here with you.”

“So I’m cooler than answering your girls and going out for drinks with them?” They both roll their eyes as her phone goes off again, knowing that it was another text message. With it being her 24th birthday, her list of friends that she hung with wanted to go out for some drinks. But, there was a snag – Lance wasn’t old enough (19) by US standards to drink. Therefore, she didn’t want to go off drinking without him.

“I can go out with them anytime. I want to spend time with you before our lives get crazy and insane this summer.” He then pulls her closer, intertwining his fingers with hers.

“No matter how crazy this summer gets, we’re going to spend all the time that we can together. I’m going to make sure to make time for you, no matter what it takes. Besides, I thought you were heading cross country to chase after your brother’s racing endeavors.” She then smiles, remembering the promise that she made Ryan shortly after Christmas inbeing there to support him through the big season that he was set to embark on.

“There’s a certain boy that may get in the way of that. Would you know him?” Lance chuckles and shakes his head no as he brushes a pair out of her face.

“Should I worry about him?” She then shrugs her shoulders with a grin, before pulling him close for another kiss.

“I don’t think so. You’re too cute and sexy for your own good, somehow.” She then lets go and kicks back as he thinks those words over. He then glanced up further in the truck bed, seeing the gifts that sat there packaged perfectly.

“Compliments. That’s a good way to try and find the sweet spot in my heart. Someone wanting their presents?” She glanced back at the packages before returning her eyes to him. She couldn’t wait to see what he got her, but also just loved being able to have this special time together.

“Well, I am the birthday gift after all. I thought there was some code for presents.” He then rolls his eyes as he reaches back and grabs one of the bigger packages, setting it before her.

“We’ll start with this present. It’s something that I’m surprised that I haven’t seen on those feet of yours in the time that I have known you, and these have a special twist.” She raised her eyebrows in intrigue as he let out a small laugh of his own. “So are you going to just sit here and stare at me, or open the gift?” She then glances back towards the box, before glancing back at him.

“I’m trying to figure out what it is before I open it. Something for my feet, eh?” A huge grin formed on Lance’s face as she let out a laugh. “Your ways are rubbing off on me, Lance.”

“I’m Canadian, and I don’t even say ‘eh’. There’s a problem here.” She then laughs as she begins to open the gift. Her jaw drops in surprise as she pulls them out and looks them over, smiling.

“Cowgirl boots. Nice touch.” She then looks over them, liking the solid black traditional design with a couple of pink accents to add the right touch to her fashionista self. Perhaps her sense of fashion was rubbing off on him. “Let me guess…you had some help?” Lance shakes his head no.

“I picked them out all by myself without anybody’s help. I thought you’d have more faith in me.”

“I guess I’m rubbing off on you, as well. They’re beautiful.” She twirled them around as she kept glancing them over, feeling her heart melt even a little more when she noticed the small pink maple leafs etched into the design. “Maple Leafs…..Canadian flag….Nice special twist, Lance.”

“I’m the perfect little Canadian cowboy, while you’re the fashion princess. Somehow in this world, we’re together. That’s what those mean.” She then leans in and kisses his lips before slipping them on after kicking her shoes off.

“And they look real pretty as well. I could get used to wearing these.” She then reaches behind her, snatching up his hat that had fallen off earlier and slipping it over her head as he just grins. “Completes the look…”

“Is that a clue that you need a hat of your own?” She shakes her head no as she adjusts it a top of her head.

“It wouldn’t be the same as wearing your hat. I’ll just settle for wearing yours while you kick ass this year.” He shakes his head in approval as he was hoping to have a top-notch season, as well. He then reaches over his head, grabbing a small box as he hands it to her.

“Every outfit needs jewelry to complete it.” Her jaw begins to drop before she even touches the bow that covers the wrapping paper and enclosed box.

“Lance…..” He then immediately begins shaking his head no, now realizing how wrongfully this all seemed.

“It’s not an engagement ring. Don’t worry – I meant it when I said that we were taking things slow.” She then lets out a sigh of relief as she wasn’t to explain reasons for turning him down, or even be able to face that thought. It wasn’t because she didn’t love him and want to be with him forever. There were just other reasons.

“Yeah, that has gone so well though. So much for keeping our sexual secrets.” He then chuckles as she begins to unwraps the box, feeling more comfortable right now.

“We need to work on keeping that hidden. Maybe that should be our New Years Resolution, even if we set it oh 20 days late.” She shook her head in agreement, not wanting to see a shocked Cameron or scare her brother anymore.

“Sounds like a good idea. We’ll see how long it lasts considering Cameron can’t keep his nose out of your business.” Lance knew that he needed to give Cameron a lecture, or two, for how pesterizing he could be. However, that’s how the pair grew up – always bugging each other for details in each other’s lives, ready to judge and offer the best perspective that they could. They had each other’s back ad this was one of the things that came with that.

“Just like your brother needs to not sneak up on us in the hauler, or elsewhere.” She rolled her eyes, having expected that out of Ryan. The siblings had a protective barrier that hey shared, willing to protect each other from anything. Hence why she was known as ‘cockblock’ to some of his fellow, immature, male friends.

“Hey now, he hasn’t killed you or harmed you yet. That should say something.” She then pulls the lid off of the box and pulls out the small gold chain necklace that holds a small heart locket o the end. She then opens the locket and feels her heart start melting together. The one side, there was a picture of Lace with his arms wrapped around her during one of the race weekends. The other side held one of her favourite photos that she had taken with Ryan and the rest of the Blaney clan.

“You always talk about how much you love and care about your family. Now, they’ll never be far from your heart, nor will I ever. I love you, and nothing will change that.” He then leans over and kisses her lips as all she can do is smile.

“You’re a true sap. Honestly. This is all coming from the guy that said he wasn’t the romantic type.” He then laughs as he remembered telling her that.

“I guess it took the right girl to bring out this side of me.”

Chapter 72: ….That Guy…..

Lance walks into the apartment, closes the door behind him and leans against it with a sigh.

“If I commit murder, will you be an alibi?” Lance questions as Cameron looks away from his game surprised.

“Woah….” are the only words that come from Cameron’s mouth. “Who are we killing?” Lance walks over and sits on the couch beside Cameron.

“My new teammate.” Cameron’s jaw then drops in shock.

“As in Mr. Austin Theriault?” Lance shakes his head yes as Cameron returns his eyes back to his game. “I thought he was a nice and sweet and all the great buzz. Didn’t you say that you were looking forward to working with him?” Lance shakes his head yes as he remembered saying that upon meeting the new guy.

“Let’s just say that things have changed drastically.”

In truth, Austin seemed like a great guy and would be a good addition to the BKR truck team. He wasn’t the same as having Ryan around as a teammate, but he would be decent enough. He didn’t seem like he caused unneeded drama, clean racer, easy to discuss notes with. That was why he had told Cameron that the kid would be a great teammate.

However, in a matter of a week, his thought process had flipped. It seemed there was more to Austin than Lance knew.

“He has a past with Emma,” Lance reveals, causing Cameron to drop his controller and look over.

Lance had caught it a little when Austin and Emma crossed paths in the shop before her birthday. He had seen them discussing, laughing and going upstairs for some private conversation. Considering that they were friends, he didn’t think anything of it. There always the want to catch up with an old friend.

However, as time went by the past week, he saw them spending more time together while he was focused on getting ready for the season. He would go to the shop to do an interview, and Austin would be up with Emma discussing life in general. It seemed whenever he wasn’t with Emma, she was with Austin.

Doug had caught him staring earlier that day and revealed that the pair had a past together. He told them how they always spent time together when Austin was working for BKR a couple years ago. Doug even revealed the crush that he knew Austin had, and perhaps Emma even showed at times. However, nothing ever happened between the pair then because Austin was scared of Ryan, or perhaps the fact that Ryan had warned Austin to stay away from his sister.

“It seems reuniting them in the shop as rekindled those feelings,” Lance comments after he’s done explaining the happenings to Cameron.

“Let me ask you this – does she love you?” Cameron questions and Lance shakes his head yes. There was no doubt about that in his mind.

“If that wasn’t the case, would I still be with her?” Cameron knew that was a logical answer.

“Then why are you worried? They’re good friends and they’re just spending time together. Guys and girls can be friends without sex. I thought you lived by that rule well.” Lance lets out a sigh as he remembered saying those exact words himself. However, this felt different….

“Maybe I’m just paranoid or over worrying.” Cameron lets out a sigh as he sits back.

“You have a right to worry and wonder based on what Doug told you. But you also know how much that girl loves you and how great you guys are together. Rather than become that jealous boyfriend and throw everything away, use your brain and realize that there’s nothing to worry about.” Cameron then picks his controller up and resets the game. “Want to play?” Lance shakes his head no as while he wanted to simply do as Cameron suggested, he couldn’t. The scene of them chatting and her laughing was locked in his mind.

“Maybe later.” Cameron lets out a sigh as he knew that his conversation was playing no role yet.

“If you’re so worried, why don’t you ask her? Bring it up to her and see what she has to say.” It’d be easy if he could simply do that. However, he couldn’t bring himself to ask Emma.

“And what if she turns it on it’s nose, calls me the jealous boyfriend or someone that doesn’t believe we’re real and runs away?” Cameron looks over with a grin.

“If the girl is right for you, she won’t do that. She’ll do whatever it takes to defend her love for you. You need to put your past love experiences out of your mind.” Lance wished it was that easy, but it was those experiences that helped shaped his view on love and how he was approaching this relationship with Emma.

“Right….because my ex-girlfriends and those memories should just disappear. They should especially disappear when Jessy figures it’s a good idea to come to Daytona for Speedweeks, and messages me on twitter saying that she can’t wait to see me.” Cameron then rolls his eyes as he hated the thought of meeting one of Lance’s ex-girlfriends. From the stories that he had told, these girls were nothing but bad news. “Thanks for the advice….I appreciate it….” Lance then gets off of the couch and heads to the kitchen to get something to drink, wishing that he could find something stronger than apple juice.

Chapter 73: Ohio
So Lance’s thoughts on Austin, and then his ex appearing in Daytona….that’s to come. But first, let’s just say that we got some exciting news that I’m very excited for. Hopefully it brings success for Cameron this year.

“I’m surprised you aren’t hanging with your girl,” Cameron comments as he enters the apartment, closing the door behind him.

“She is spending the afternoon with her girls,” Lance shares as he focuses on the video game.

“Are you sure she’s not seeing Austin?” Lance then looks over with anger written in his eyes as Cameron immediately throws his arms up with a grin. “Kidding, obviously! I just wanted to see how much I could rile you up.” Lance rolls his eyes as he pauses the game, glancing over at Cameron. He was seeing a smile, a true smile – something that’d been missing the past couple of weeks.

“What’s up with you?” Cameron comes over and flops back on the couch, still smiling as bright as ever. He didn’t think there was anything that could wipe the smile away.

“What would you say if your best friend had a ride for this season full-time?” Lance’s jaw drops in shock as he keeps his eyes locked on Cameron. It was news that he had been hoping to hear all month long, hearing of the meetings that Cameron kept having with teams.

“What tea-”

“What would you say if we’d get to race against each other all year long?” Lance smiled brightly as he knew that it was a truck deal. That narrowed the options down to a couple of teams, but he couldn’t think of any that had an open seat that’d be strong.

“What tea-”

“What would say if I had to move to Sandusky, Ohio in the next week?” Lance’s smile slowly disappears as he knows exactly what team. With Jeb Burton leaving ThorSport, that left the No. 13 truck open for a driver. Obviously, with Cameron’s comment, he had landed the ride. Lance wanted to be happy for his friend and was excited for the opportunity, but that meant that they’d no longer be sharing the apartment.

“Cameron…..I don’t know what to say. I’m so happy for you in getting the opportunity, but….”

“But you’re sad that I’m moving away from you since you enjoy sharing the apartment with me?” Lance shakes his head as he sits back on the couch. The pair made the perfect roommates coming down to North Carolina looking to make their dreams. A pair of Canadian boys that everybody said had the odds against them. But now, here they both were, in full-time rides for 2015. Though the pieces were falling apart as they’d no longer be roommates. I understand. That’s why I knew it’d be hard to tell you the news, but I wanted you to find out before anybody else. The world is going to find out on Tuesday. I’m moving to Ohio next week, by the way.” Lance was now dealt with the straw of having to find another roommate to share the apartment with because he knew he couldn’t foot the full bill himself right now, even with a full-time ride.

“I can’t sit here and be mad at you for taking the opportunity because that’s one helluva strong organization. I’d accept that offer in a heartbeat as well. But I’ve had so much fun with you here.” Cameron glances around the apartment, remembering the jokes that they’d share over the previous two years.

“We’ll still get to see each other each week, racing against each other and such. There’s no way I’m throwing our friendship away. Besides, I need to make sure you don’t screw things up with Emma.” Lance chuckles as he remembers all the relationship advice that Cameron had offered.

“I think Ryan has that covered. He’d kick my ass if I ever screwed up.”

“I have no doubt about that, and I hope I don’t hear about that happening. I’m also going to pay the rest of this month’s rent even though I won’t be here to help you out. If you need help finding a roommate, you can let me know.” Lance shakes his head as he knew that’d be a tough sell.

“Thanks…….So, how did the deal come together?” Cameron just smiles as he sits up on the couch.

“As soon as they let Burton go, my dad actually made the call. He asked if we could at least try to put something together. From then, they started talking dollars and such, and then I was brought into the frame.”

“Dude, you’re the luckiest goose in the world. This is going to be one fun year.”

“I plan on kicking your ass, boy.”

“Bring it on….bring it on…..”

So who should be Lance’s new roommate? Chase? Erik? Austin? Emma? Someone else?

Chapter 74: Roomate

“So, I heard that Cameron is moving to Ohio,” Emma comments out loud as she hops up on the back of truck. Lance glances over and shakes his head yes.

“He got a ride with ThorSport for the whole season,” Lance replies as he focuses back on what he is doing. Being a picky racecar driver, he liked to install his own seats, gauges and things for the interior of his truck. His reasoning was he didn’t want something being out of place to be the reason why he didn’t get the job done on track. “I hate that my best friend is moving cross country, but I can’t argue with him. It’s a great opportunity.”

“I’m glad that he found a ride as he truly deserves it. Talented little guy – even if he’s annoying.” Lance then stands up and looks over at her.

“More talented than me?” She then thinks it over as he looks at her surprised. “Emma!”

“Of course not…but still, really talented. I wouldn’t mind watching you win Daytona with him right on your tail.” Lance then laughs as he glances back in the truck, adjusting the seat once again.

“That’d be beyond crazy, but awesome if it happened. I don’t know what I’d do if I won Daytona. Heck, I just want to win a race. But Daytona….that’d be….wow….” Lance then hops in the truck, seeing how the seat feels as he reaches out and puts his hands on the wheel. “Are you ready for Daytona?”

“Do you honestly have to ask that?” He then chuckles as he gets out of the truck, sitting on the edge of the window as he looks over at her.

“I was afraid that you may not be able to choose what outfits to take with you.” She then reaches to smack him with a laugh as he ducks back, almost falling off, causing her to burst out laughing. “That’s not nice, Ms. Blaney?”

“What are you going to do about, Mr. Zeeko?” He then gets off of his spot and walks over to where she is sitting on the tailgate, wrapping his arms around her.
“I’m going to attack you…” He then reaches under his arms, tickling her as she bursts out laughing, leaning back, trying to squirm out of his arms. “Learned your lesson?” She shrugs her shoulders.

“Not really…” She then holds up her hands. “But I’m fine for now. Besides, we don’t want to give these guys too much of a show.” Lance then looks around the shop, seeing a bunch of the crew guys staring. They then pretend as though they weren’t looking, going back to their jobs.

“Good point.” He then helps her down before glancing over at Doug. “Truck is ready!”

“Finally…” He lets out as he walks over. “I was beginning to think that you were going to Christian it.”

“Doug!” They both yell as the crew chief simply laughs.

“Oh to be young and in love again….” Lance and Emma then walk off as he wraps an arm around her.

“So, are you packed?” He questions once again as she looks over at him.

“I’ve been packed for awhile now,” she answers. “Can’t wait to leave tomorrow night and get down there.”

Despite the truck race not being for another week, the pair were leaving for Daytona as Lance had to be there for Media Day festivities and she wanted to watch Ryan. Besides, it was always better to be at the track than at home.

She then follows him up to his office, as he grabs a couple of things that he needs.

“So, what are you going to do about the roommate situation?” Emma questions as they leave the office together.

“I need another roommate as I can’t afford the rent by myself right now,” Lance comments as they head down the stairs. “I guess I’ll be looking for someone to join me.” Emma thought it over as she watched him carefully.

“Have you thought about any possibilities?” Lance remembered the discussion that Cameron had with him as they were packing Cameron’s things the other night.

“Cameron mentioned a couple people that he knew that were looking for a place. There were a couple of nice options in there that I’d consider.” Emma shakes her head, curiosity blooming as to whom would be on the list.

“Didn’t Austin say that he was looking for a place to stay?” Lance freezes and immediately shakes his head no. There was no way that the arrangement would work, considering what he already thought of Austin.

“I don’t recall hearing anything. I thought he found something?” Emma thinks back, having a realization thought.

“Right….I think he did.” Lance lets out a sigh as he was glad that crisis was dealt with. “What if I move in with you?” The pair then freeze and turn to face each other. “I mean….”

“No, I think that’s a great idea, actually. We’ve been dating a year and we’ve already….well, you know. We have talked about sharing a motorcoach at the track this year, so why not share an apartment as well?” Emma had been looking for her own place. She loved her parents, but it was time to find her own spot. She needed the personal space when she was working on things, and they could get a little overbearing at times.

“I love you, and I love spending time with you. I think it’d be a great idea – only if you’re comfortable. I don’t want to take this step if you’re not rea-”

“I’m ready.” He then pulls her close and kisses her lips. “Emma, will you move in with me?” She then smiles as she kisses his lips.

“Of course.”

Chapter 75: His Thoughts

“So I hear you’re moving in with Lance?” Austin questions as he peaks into Lance’s office. Emma looks up and shakes her head yes. As he heard the news, it had struck him harder than he would’ve hoped. His chances of worming his way back into her life were thinning by the second. “That’s a big step.”

“We together last March – officially – so I think it’s right,” she comments, reflecting back to that fateful day in Bristol. She couldn’t believe that her brother had been part of the reason that they ended up talking things over and breaking the barrier. It was part of the reason that made that bullring that much more special. The return next month would not only mark the return to a track that her brother ran well at, but the place everything came together.

“A whole year?” Austin didn’t realize that she had been with Lance that long. That meant that he had dug his claws into her upon his first steps within the Brad Keselowski Racing organization.

“It’ll be a year come March. Why do you seem so shocked?” Austin takes a couple steps into the room, keeping his eyes on her.

“He started at BKR in February. I didn’t think that you’d fall for him that quickly.” He also didn’t think that her brother would allow that to happen as he always seemed to have his guard up with her, just as she did with him. He had to laugh at that because it meant that Ryan’s love life was pretty pathetic.

“What are you tryi-”

“Nothing, I was just curious. Can’t we just discuss life like we used to?” Emma then crosses her arms, focusing her attention totally on Austin. There was something about him that she just didn’t like right now. Lance’s office was the perfect spot to get some work done while he was busy downstairs. Normally, she could get a lot done and nobody would bother her. However, that seemed to not be the case today and this case of bothering was becoming annoying.

“Oh we can discuss life, but that doesn’t mean we can stand around and make pity judgment calls. Based on your comment, you think that I just fell into his lap and he isn’t right for me – or something like that. Am I getting warmer?”

“Emma, I didn’t mea-”

“Then what did you mean by that comment, Mr. Theriault?” He then looks at her surprised. She hadn’t called him by his last name in forever.

“Wow, you just used my last name. So am I now rejected to just another employee here?” She then stands up and walks over to him.

“No friend of mine waltzes into my boyfriend’s office and starts making smartass remarks like that about me. You don’t know anything about the relationship that I have with Lance. You don’t know how we got together. You don’t know the fact that I was scared to fall in love with him originally because I didn’t want to be treated like someone’s easy sex object. You don’t know that he respected that, and opened up as I let him. You don’t know that he’s been through a lot of rejection himself, and it took time for us to find the balance together. You don’t know how much we love each other, or how much work we’ve put into our relationship. So before you waltz in here and make smart remarks, find your brain.” He then looks at her surprised, not expecting that at all. He knew that she had a fiery personality, but that was certainly taking the cake in how she fired off that rant. Though it had worked as perhaps he had been too harsh and perhaps he should give the guy a chance, even if he had his girl. After all, they were going to be teammates for a couple of races.

“Emma, I’m sorr-”

“Get out!” He then takes a deep breath, fully prepared to apologize.

“I’m trying to sa-”

“Get out!” Austin then lets out a sigh as he turns around and leaves the office. She then follows him, shutting the door behind him before returning to the desk.

The discussion between Austin and Emma was something that was kept between just them. She never bothered to bring it up to Lance later that day, not wanting to place that on his mind. She knew how much his heart had been stamped on in the past, and didn’t need to bother him with love drama. Besides, he was supposed to be focusing on getting ready for the season opener next weekend.

There was never a time that she was more thankful about flying out to Florida than later that night. it would defiantly put the drama in the rearview mirror.

A Cowboy’s Chance – Chapters 66 Thru 70

Chapter 66: New Years

“Can you believe that the season begins next month?” Lance questions as he flops back on the couch.

“Can you believe that you’re going to be running full-time this season with Brad Keselowski Racing?” Emma asks as she sits beside him. Lance simply shakes his head no as he lies back on the couch.

“I’ve worked so hard for this opportunity all my life. It’s surreal to believe that it’s coming true and happening this year. Sometimes I feel really excited, then I’m disbelief and other times I’m scared as hell because what if I don’t live up to expectations?” Emma lets out a sigh as she curls up close to him.

“You got to stop beating yourself up, Lance. You have to believe in yourself. You just got to go out there and do the best that you can and hope that it all works out. It’s all you can do.”

“That’s the plan. I just….I’ve given up everything to go after this dream and now that it’s here, it’s surreal and beyond belief. I just can’t wait to get started and get that first win.” He then looks over at her, pulling her close for a kiss. “You’re going to be there with me the whole year, right?”

“Absolutely. I’m never leaving your side, Lance. I love you so much that I can’t picture being anywhere without you.” He then smiles as he keeps her held close, brushing her cheek with his fingertip.

“I can’t wait for that first win because the first thing I’m going to do is pull you close and kiss your lips.” She then wraps an arm around him to keep him held close to her.

“I’m going to accept that kiss with great gratitude and love, and remember it forever and always. Please make our dreams come true at Daytona.” He then laughs, knowing hat he defiantly has a shot to score the victory.

“I’ll give it 110% and hope that it happens.” She then runs her fingers up underneath the edge of his shirt, running them lightly across his chest.

“You know, it’s been a busy past two months. We had a fun visit together with your family, a great Christmas with our own families and a fun New Years together. However, I still haven’t gotten my one Christmas wish.” Lance grins, remembering the note that was placed in the card to go with the gift that she left at his parent’s house for him to open.

“There’s a small problem with that – you’re missing the piece of gift that is supposed to go with it.” She then grins wildly, remembering how she planned it out. She put a nice present under the tree at his parents, but also placed a card that said there was a special one hidden in his room. That room included some exclusive clothing wear, with the promise upon reunion to be spotted in it. It was out of her ordinary to do such a thing, but she couldn’t pass up the opportunity and she was past being innocent with their sexual life considering the past five months.

“Well why don’t I go change into that and you see what you think?” The smile on Lance’s face only grows at that thought as a laugh escapes her lips. She then brushes his cock – pants still on – with a grin. “I can see somebody is already approving without it’s arrival.”

“What can I say? It approves of a very pretty young lady being part of its life.”

“Well you better tell that thing to behave or else it may be cut off.” Lance looks at her in shock as she leaves the room.

“Say, I got question for you. Your birthday is later this month – 20th to be exact. What do you want?” He hears her getting undressed in his room, thankful that Cameron decided to head up to Calgary for the majority of January; it was nice having the house to himself. He had been debating what to get her for her birthday, but didn’t have any ideas that he thought were worthwhile. He also didn’t want to resort to asking Ryan or Erin for suggestions either.

“You should know what’s on my list for my birthday.” Lance wished that was the case as he peered over the top of the couch, trying to catch any preview of her appearance that he could.

“Help a guy out.” She then peaks out of the room and shakes her head no.

“Consider it a challenge. You know my interests and you should know me better than anyone in my life. Figure it out.” He lets out a sigh, knowing that he isn’t getting anywhere.

“Fine….Are you done changing?” She then glances at herself in the mirror, smiling at how sexy it made her look. It wasn’t her normal cup of tea, but it was perfect for this occasion.

“Are you sure you’re ready to see me dressed like this?”

“Please?” She then slowly comes out of the room with as mile plastered on her face as she spins around in a circle. She had bought a pink lace bikini and thong set that was set off with slight black accents in the design. It seemed to hug every part of her body that Lance enjoyed the most as he stood back admiring it.

“Do you approve?” She then moves closer to the couch as they hear the door opening. She then flips over the couch and grabs the blanket as Lance looks over the top, watching Cameron walk in. “Hayley!!”

“Hello?” Cameron says as he glances between them.

“You weren’t supposed to be here till later this month?” Lance questions as Cameron closes the door behind him.

“I have a couple meetings come up and needed to come back sooner.” He then slips his shoes off as he walks towards the pair. “Having some fun, I see?”

“Well we thought that we had the place to ourselves. You could’ve gave me some warning!” Cameron goes to say something – though stops as he glances at his phone.

“Oh damn. I thought those text messages went through. My apologies. I’ll go hide in my room so you can escape back to his room and change, Ms. Blaney.” Cameron then goes to his room, shutting his door as Emma pops back up from under the blanket.

“So much for our idea…” She then kisses his lips.

“I’ll slip my clothes back over and we can go to my place,” she offers. “It seems as though everyone is out and no, they won’t be making a surprise return.”

“The quicker the better.” She then hurries to his room to get changed as he shakes his head in disbelief. It seemed everybody liked to walk in on them.

Chapter 67: Post New Year Thoughts

“So thanks for ruining the buzz on a great night between Emma and I,” Lance says as he jumps on the couch, disturbing Cameron as he tries to play his game.

“You still got it on at her place probably so what are you mad about?” Cameron questions with a glance his way as Lance rolls his eyes. That wasn’t a lie. “Besides, I don’t need those cooties all over these blankets.”

“I would’ve washed them before you got back.” Cameron just shrugs his shoulders as he sets the controller down.

“And thanks for ruining my game with your so-called jump on the furniture. I love you, too.” Cameron then playfully punches Lance with a laugh as Lance just sits back with a smile on his face.

“You were going to lose anyway. You don’t need to blame me. You’re just looking for some place to deliver your blame.” Cameron then throws a punch, landing it on Lance’s arm as Lance looks at him shocked. “Ouch! What has happened to you? You’ve turned violent!”

“You’re just lucky that I didn’t punch you harder than that.” Lance then holds his fists up with his own smile.

“Listen buddy, if you want to fight, we can fight.” Cameron then gets up off of the couch and heads to the kitchen.

“Shouldn’t you hanging out with your girlfriend?” Lance then looks over the back of the couch into the kitchen.

“See, that’s your problem. You need a girl to balance you out. Let me set you up with one of Emma’s friends.” Cameron shakes his head no as he peaks his head out of the kitchen.

“I don’t need anymore drama or anything else in my life right now. Things are already a big enough mess.” Lance then looks over confused as he hops over the couch, joining Cameron in the kitchen. He had never seen Cameron so down about something that it had him confused. It was always Cameron giving the pick-me-up to Lance. Had something happened in Calgary?

“So what is on your mind?” Lance then leans against the wall as he watches Cameron debate on what to get for a snack.

“I’d rather just not talk about it, honestly.” Lance’s eyebrows raised, even more confused.

“Dude, seriously? What is going on?” Cameron then lets out a sigh as he reaches into the fridge and grabs a fruit, leaning back against the counter.

“I can’t find a ride. No matter what I say to any team, it doesn’t seem to be enough. My dad has given me a certain budget and I’m trying to get at least so many races out of that, whether Truck or even K&N at this point. There’s nothing coming up for me. It’s driving me insane. How can I not find a ride?” Lance lets out a sigh, understanding why Cameron was totally bummed out. With Turner-Scott Motorsport’s owner dispute, it had left Cameron without a ride – anywhere. Now searching for something for the season, it seemed there was nothing out there that could work. Lance could sympathize, remembering the uncertainty that he went through when it wasn’t sure whether he’d return to BKR.

“Man, I’m sorry to hear about that. I thought you’d be able to find something, anything. You have proven that you can get it done and you have the sponsorship. What else do they expect?” Cameron shrugs his shoulders.

“Good question. Feel free to go ask everybody that. It seems that either they don’t have room, or they want more money. There’s even a couple that believe I’m not talented enough.” Lance’s jaw drops at that accusation.

“Um excuse me, but who has a top-10 in the truck series? Who has a couple K&N wins? Who won Battle of the Beach? I’m sorry but for anybody to say that you don’t have talent, it makes them absolutely nuts.” Lance then walks over and wraps an arm around Cameron. “Listen, you’re going to make it down here. Have some faith. Some ride will come your way and you will make it. You have too much talent not to make it, and you’ve already proved a bunch of people wrong who said that you couldn’t do it.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence. It’s appreciated.” Cameron then lets out a sigh as he heads back into the main room. “So I hear you have a new teammate for the new season.” Lance shakes his head, having heard that Austin Theriault would be running a partial schedule for BKR. Thinking it over, he wished that he could’ve gotten Cameron in for that ride.

“It seems like it. I just found out the other day.” Cameron then glances over at him.

“Have you met him?” Lance shakes his head no.

“Not yet. According to others, though, he seems like a good kid.” Cameron sits down on the couch and smiles.

“Good luck. Just hope the teammate doesn’t cause issues, or try to hit on your girl. She may realize what an idiot for a boyfriend that she has.”

“You little shit!” Lance then runs and jumps over the back of couch, tackling Cameron as Cameron breaks out laughing.

Chapter 68: Flirting

“Am I the only one not at the Chili Bowl orrrrrr ?!?!,” Emma tweets out with a sigh before glancing towards the latest batch of clothes that she has to sort through for the next batch of orders.

“I’m not, but that’s because I’m here hanging out with the best girl around,” Lance tweets back as a reply. He then watches her phone go off as she picks it up, sorting through the notifications. She then sees the message from Lance and looks over at him, smacking him.

“Real smart, real smart Lance. Do you feel special now?” He then shrugs his shoulders before leaning in to steal a kiss.

“Next year, let’s make a pack that we’ll both go to the Chili Bowl together and have a fun week.” She shakes her head in agreement as she picks up one of the orders.

“And see you strap behind the wheel of a midget?” He then thinks it over. The offer did sound enticing for multiple reasons. Though one thing stood in the way – he had never driven a midget before in his life.

“I’ll have to learn before I can do that. Is there a teacher available?” She then glances over with a smile, remembering the times that she played around with Ryan when she was younger.

“I may be able to teach you a thing or two. However, are you afraid to be showed up by a girl when I can lap your ass quicker than anything?” Lance then looks over at her surprised.

“Are you sure you can take me?” A grin then forms across her face as she was loving the dynamics that they were building into their relationship with the flirting becoming more entertaining.

“That’s not even a question. Ryan is lucky that I gave it up or else I would’ve kicked his ass.” Lance could only grin. The fact that she could race her ass off and get dirty with the best of them was beautiful. However, a self-proclaimed business woman who had her wits about her and pretty? Pure bonus that he wasn’t willing to give up to anybody.

“We’ll see if you’re still talking that talk once I take you to the track and beat you.” She then shrugs her shoulders as she sorts through the pants.

“I wasn’t the one that was asking my girlfriend to be his teacher so he could learn how to drive.”

“Well I’ve never driven one so I thought that I could use the best teacher around.” She then rolls her eyes as she knew that he was totally trying to suck up now.

“Just because I’m your girlfriend doesn’t mean that you can flatter me with kisses to get a good mark.” He then curls up closer to her.

“I’ll just make sure to show up naked then so your jaw drops in awe and you keep marking A+ because you like the view.” She then smacks him as he lets out a laugh.

“The more I get to know you, the worst you get.” He then shrugs his shoulders as he returns to the game that he was playing.

“That’s one of the perks about me, Emma. You are just going to have to get used to it.” Lance then focuses purely on the game, letting out a sigh as he once again loses. The reaction only causes Emma to laugh in the background, bringing forth a flip of the finger by Lance. “You’re just loving this…”

“I have to get my shots in while I can, it seems, as your friends like to try and take a peak at me.” Lance then looks back at her with a sigh. She still hadn’t let the New Years incident go.

“I told Cameron that he should’ve texted me that he was coming home early. Don’t worry – he’s got an earful, and more disgusted then you could imagine.” She then laughs as that certainly probably made things fun at their house.

“I can only imagine how he feels. Ryan was saying that he thought he was going to gag with the love fest that Darrell and Shelby put on the other day.” Lance smiled as he thought it was cute that Darrell and Shelby had such a good relationship going, somewhat like his with Emma. Ryan, on the other hand, was different.

“When is your brother going to get a girlfriend?” Emma lets out a good laugh at that thought.

“When he actually stops trying to pick up stupid girls and takes it seriously. The guy has only ever dated track bunnies in the past – just a couple before I taught him right.” Lance laughed as he heard about the stories from Darrell and Chase in how Emma was a good cock-block for her brother.

“But you never see him with a girl now…” Emma shrugs her shoulders as she lets out a sigh.

“Ryan is a quiet, shy guy. I don’t think he knows the right approach to take with asking a girl out. That’s why he asked a good girl out. Now if only he could step out of his shell, things would be fine.”

“You just have to wait for his balls to drop.” Emma’s jaw drops in shock as she hurries over, giving him a smack across the back of the head as Lance lets out a big laugh.

“That’s my brother you’re talking about!”

Chapter 69: …..Austin Theriault…..

“I was beginning to think that you didn’t like me,” Doug Randolph comments as he gives Emma a hug and she just smiles.

“Doug, you know that’s never an issue,” she starts. “I’ve just been busy with the store.”

“Does that surprise me?” Emma shakes her head no. “You better be making sure to take some time for yourself, though.”

“Trust me – you can ask Lance all about that.” He then sticks his fingers in his ears as he walks away.

“I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know. Just….No! I have to work with him, remember?” Emma just starts laughing as she watches the crew chief cross the shop.

With Lance having to check in at the shop for a couple of things, she had tagged along, ready to catch up with some of the guys and due to not having much to do. Besides, the pair were going out for dinner afterwards.

“Is that my favourite little princess that I see?” Emma hears and turns to see Chad Kendrick, the other BKR crew chief, standing there with a smile.

“Awww thank you,” Doug comments as he runs his hands through his hair. “I forgot to tell you about that sex change, Emma.” Emma then bursts out laughing as Chad looks over at the older crew chief surprised.

“Are you feeling alright, Doug? You seem a little strange.” Doug puts his hands up.

“I’m fine, just dandy. I’m just waiting to see how the boobs will look with my tiara.”

“Yeah….” Chad then looks back over at Emma. “I’m just glad that he does a better job crew chiefing than socializing.” Emma laughs as she walks over and gives Chad a hug. “By the way, the family loved the outfits. Perfect idea for Christmas gifts.”

“I’m glad that they liked them,” Emma comments. “So now for their birthday, you can get gift certificates. You did tell them where you got them and everything, right?” Chad shakes his head yes.

“They said that they’ll be buying some things to come for the spring.” Emma smiles as it was always good news to hear that she’d be getting new customers. She was also getting marketing down to a key, helping people with gifts and making sure they gave recommendations. If things continued to grow, she’d certainly be set for the fashion high-life.

“Emma Blaney?” Emma hears and freezes instantly as she looks towards her left. She knew with him driving for Brad Keselowski Racing part-time that they’d cross paths. However, she didn’t realize that it’d be so soon.

“Austin!” She lets out as she walks over, taking a couple calming deep breaths. “How are you?”

“I’m great.” He then pulls her into a hug, giving her a kiss on the cheek. In past years, that simple kiss had thrown her into a tumble of butterflies. It was a feeling that turned as soon as his lips touched her cheek. “How are you?”

“Doing great.”

“So what brings you to the shop today? I don’t see your brother anywhere.” Emma then points over to where Lance is as Austin shakes his head understanding. He should’ve known that’d be her reason for being there. He heard that the pair were dating through the grapevine and it frankly surprised him. She thought that her brother would’ve chased him away already as he seemed to be good at that.

“He was coming by to check in, and I thought I’d stop by and see some people.”

“That’s understandable and fair. It’s just weird seeing you here without your brother. He always was here….before….” Emma slowly shakes her head yes, remembering those previous times. It seemed whenever her and Austin would talk in the shop before, Ryan was always there and in the mix.

“Guess he’s finally learned to give me some space, as I am learning with him. Got to trust each other’s judgment, right?” Austin shakes his head, sort of wishing that things would’ve been different a couple years ago.

“So wait – he’s maturing?” Emma laughs at that thought and shrugs her shoulders.

“He’s getting better, but still nervous as hell talking to a female. I don’t have a thing to worry about with him picking up a lizard.” Austin then bursts out laughing, before wrapping an arm around her.

“What do you say we go upstairs and catch up while the boyfriend is busy?” Emma shakes her head yes, accepting. She knew that a lot had happened in the past two years and no doubt they’d both have lots to say.

“I’d like that, actually.” They then head upstairs. It was a common walk for the pair of them in the years that had past. Each time before, it brought forth a nervousness and butterflies – something that she couldn’t shake till this day.

Lance was busy talking with Doug about something when he noticed the pair of them walking up the stairs together, casting a glance their way. Doug’s eyes follow his drivers as he lets out a sigh. He should’ve known that Emma and Austin would find their way back towards each other.

Chapter 70: Birthday Surprise

“Can I look now?” She questions as Lance continues to lead her up a walkway with her eyes covered.

“Not yet…” He answers as she lets out a sigh. She knew that he had a surprise, but she didn’t think it’d be something like this and involve all of this.

Earlier in the day, he had texted her, wishing her a Happy 24th Birthday and told her to find something comfortable, but pretty to wear and be ready for 4:30. She had gone with a light pink shirt that flowed perfectly over the edge of waist for her blue jeans. It was comfortable, but she looked darn cute in the outfit.

Her mind was left to wander what Lance had in mind as she had gotten ready, thinking of the possibilities. Date night? Movie? Cuddles? Going out for dinner? A little night of their own? She knew with him that anything was possible.

Upon picking her up, he had covered her eyes with a blind fold, not wanting her to gain any clues as to what he had in mind. It was the oddest feeling ever going down the roads in his truck without being able to see a single thing, but she trusted him. After all, he could drive 200mph certainly he could handle North Carolina traffic with ease.

They arrived at the destination shortly thereafter, with Lance helping her out of the truck and beginning to lead her down this path. He knew that it’d be the perfect present to give her –well, start of the night. Supposed he’d call this simply the surprise to their night because he had a present set to give her later.

“Lance, are we there yet?” Emma questions as she heads up the small hill that he has chosen to lead her up. “This better be worth it!”

“Oh trust me, you’ll be thanking me for this,” Lance answers with a smirk. He also made a mental note that it was good to have friends, who had friends.

With a plan in mind for her birthday and in need of the perfect location, he went to his team owner and told him the details. He then asked Brad for advice as to where would be the perfect spot, given that he had liven in North Carolina longer. Brad then gave him an address and a location on the property, and told him that he’d make sure that owner gave the okay. Lance was surprised when he learned just who’s property, but made a mental note to say thank you in a big way at a later date.

Upon arrival earlier in the day to set things up, Lance knew it was perfect. There was the right amount of tress surrounding the patch of grass to give it the outdoor feel that he wanted, but not too much to make you feel overtaken. There was also a perfect spot to set things up, laid out, with a view of the sunset and stars. Thankfully he had gotten some decent weather and so far, things were working out well.

Well, except for an impatient birthday girl.

“Do I get any clues?” She questions and he knew that he couldn’t give her anything.

“Not a single clue,” he answers, before stopping as he overlooks the area. He then smiles, feeling pride in how well his set-up looked.

“Wait….you stopped. Are we here?” He then spins her to face him, leaning in with a soft kiss.

“Happy Birthday, Ms. Emma Blaney.” He then removes the blind fold, before turning her back around to take a look at the set-up for the evening.

“Lance!!!” She couldn’t believe what lied before her as she felt her jaw drop immediately. A blanket had been laid out with a pair of dinner plates sitting on the blanket, each with their own glass beside them. There was a bottle of wine next to her glass, while a bottle of grape juice sat next to his. A couple candles – the plastic electric ones due to fear of the real falling over and catching fire – sat in the middle of the plates. There was also a small white cake to the side, with her name written on it using light blue frosting.

“Was it worth it?” She then looks back at him and shakes her head yes, before wrapping her arms around his neck.

“You are something truly special. I never would’ve expected this. Thank you.”

“This is only the beginning, sweets. Now, let’s eat for it gets cold.” The pair of them then sit down, beginning toe at their meal together as they watch the sunset in the background.

A Cowboy’s Chance – Chapters 61 Thru 65

Chapter 61: Phoenix

“It’s over – NASCAR called it,” Doug announces as he walks over to Lance and Emma. They both look at him confused as if to not believe the call. “They said that they don’t want to chance the lights going out again due to ‘safety reasons’. We’re done.”

Lance shakes his head in disbelief as he looks around the track, seeing the lights still on. It didn’t make sense to him for NASCAR to call the race.

He had a solid night. Got bit during the green flag pit stop cycle, but fought back to get back on the lead lap and was up to 10th when the caution flew for the issue with the lights.

“So we wait an hour to get the race started, but we can’t more than five minutes to possibly restart?” He questions as Doug shrugs his shoulders.

“That’s how it goes sometimes,” Doug comments as he walks over and gives Lance a pat on the shoulder. “You did a good job tonight. Kept fighting, never gave up and got a solid finish. When we’re racing for points next year, days like these will matter.”

“We still had 25 laps…”

“NASCAR is worried that they’ll go out again and it’ll result in a wreck. It’s a safety issue, Lance. That’s how it goes.” Lance shakes his head in disbelief as it didn’t make sense to him. It wasn’t even that late, either. They could’ve at least tried once again, in his mind, to give the drivers the last 25 laps. This was the second last race in the season so every lap mattered that much more, and he wanted those laps.

“Let it go…,” Emma advises as she rubs his shoulders, trying to keep him calm. “You had a good truck tonight and got a good finish. You can do even better next week at Homestead.” He then turns to her and shrugs his shoulders. It just meant the season was even closer to ending – one more shot – and why this race was that much more important than, say, another event in his mind.

“I guess….” He lets out not wanting to argue with her about it as Doug walks away.

“You can’t always have things go your way. You need to learn that and let it go.” She then turns him so they’re facing each other before kissing his cheek, trying to cheer him up. She knew he was super hard on himself. She though it was just because of the contract. Now with that signed, it seemed to continue. Must be the pure drive and determination….

“Are you going to keep at this till I agree with you?” She then smiles, knowing that she was getting his mind off of the night, just as she planned.

“Perhaps, or perhaps I’m going to warp you to a whole new reality. It’s too bad that the lights did come back on…” He then looks at her shocked, knowing where her thought was going with those words. Did he really hear that?

“Emma Blaney, how dare you! Where’s the sweet innocent girl that I met earlier this year?” She then grins, knowing that the innocence was still there. However, it was fun to play the tricks with him to get him riled up. No doubt she was finding more reasons that their relationship was awesome.

“Didn’t you say that you were going to show me a good time and why you’re a sweet, yet bad boy around the edges?” He shakes his head in disbelief, not believing the words that he was hearing. Did he honestly create this?

“Yeah, but not like this…” She then looks at him, fake surprised.

“Oh really?”

“I meant like having fun in the woods playing on ATVs, or laying in the back of a truck, or camping. But that? Are you serious?” She then grins as she reaches up and kisses him on the cheek.

“I was joking, babes. But….you never know…..” She then turns on her heels and heads up pit road to see her brother as Lance stands there shaking his head in disbelief. He then collects his thoughts as he watches the reporter come over, expressing the same disappointment in the racing being called that he had told Doug earlier.

Chapter 62: Banquet Business

“You did a great job all season,” Lance comments as he leans on Ryan’s car prior to the Nationwide Series finale. As much as he wanted to be happy about his season, and was happy, Ryan knew that if he had done a better job in a couple of spots, he could’ve won the championship.

“Lance is right as you won a race, had a lot of great runs and caught the world’s attention,” Emma adds as she pats her brother on the shoulder.

“I know, but it could’ve been better,” Ryan lets out as he looks between the pair of them.

“You had a couple of tough moments – welcome to learning and becoming a better driver in the process,” Lance says.

“Why don’t you end the year on a good note and win today?” Emma suggests.

“Wasn’t that the plan all alon-”

“We got a problem!” A voice catches all of their attention, as they look in front of them to find Dylan Kwasniewski, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Kyle Larson there.

“Piss off the wrong person, again?” Ryan questions and Dylan shakes his head no.

“Elliott doesn’t have a date for the banquet,” Dylan reveals as Emma shrugs her shoulders.

“And that’s a problem because?”

“The champion should have a date!” Darrell exclaims.

“I thought he would’ve asked someone, but he was saying earlier to his tea-” Dylan starts.

“Regan…” Kyle fills out in the blank as Dylan rolls his eyes.

“Yeah, whatever. That doesn’t matter right now. Anyways, he was saying that he’s going by himself. Do you believe that?” Lance shakes his head yes as he crosses his arms. He was surprised, given Dylan’s self-centered attitude at times, that Ryan, Darrell and Chase still hung out with him.

“Who says the champion has to have a date to the banquet?” Lance questions as the group looks at him confused.

“The champion always has a date, Lance.” Lance shakes his head no.

“I’ve gone to banquets where the driver goes by himself, and enjoys his time with the team and not caring that he doesn’t have a girl in his life.”

“The guy does have a point,” Kyle adds, surprising Dylan and Darrell.

“I thought you were on board with us….” Darrell comments.

“If he doesn’t have a girlfriend, he doesn’t have a girlfriend. It just means that Greg will be sitting closer to him and he won’t have a ready dance partner at the party afterwards. Does it change anything else? Nope, it doesn’t.”

“He has to walk down the red carpet alone,” Dylan rebuttles as Kyle shrugs his shoulders.

“Do you honestly think that would bug him?” Kyle questions. “Besides, if we do set him up with someone, can you see the rumors starting immediately? Everybody will say that his date is his secret hidden closet girlfriend.”

“The world is not that immature,” Ryan comments, earning a look from his sister.

“Did you not hear the comments from when this guy started chasing me?” Emma asks, causing a snicker from Darrell. He remembered those comments as he had fun annoying Ryan with those, and still did sometimes. It was one of the things that he could say to get under his roommate’s skin still, sometimes.

“They were telling the truth, though,” Dylan comments as he remembered hearing the rumors. He believed them from the beginning and wasn’t surprised at all when he saw the pair share a pre-race kiss.

“I just don’t want your crazy thought of having to send Chase with a date creating a mess for him to clean up later, Dylan.”

“Oooo someone truly cares for Chasey,” Darrell starts. “I’d be watching your girl to make sure she’s not strayi-” Ryan then slaps Darrell across the back of the head. “Ouch! What was that for?”

“That’s my sister you’re talking about that!” Ryan yells. “Besides, she won’t do such a thing. She’s a sweet honorable young lady.” Emma smiles as Lance can only snicker based on the comments the pair shared the previous weekend at Phoenix.

“Darrell…don’t…” Emma warns as Darrell goes to say something.

“You can see the grin on Lance’s face even if you shush him up,” Dylan comments as Lance looks away, playing it off as if nothing happened.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Lance says.

“It’s okay; you can tell us later while Ryan races,” Darrell offers as Ryan gives him another look.

“Want your clock to get lost again?” Ryan threats.

“Is that even humanly possible?” Kyle asks and Ryan shakes his head yes, remembering his prank from earlier in the year.

“Weren’t we talking about Chase?” Emma tries to get them back on topic as she glances up pit road at him. She smiles as she sees a smile on his face as he talks championship with the team. It was great to see him win the championship, icing on the cake to see it locked up early. Now they could simply enjoy the race and hope that Ryan won while Penske locked up the Owner’s Championship. “Actually, let’s forget about Chase. I have that situation under control.”

“As in you don’t care about what we’re saying?” Dylan questions and Emma shakes her head no. She had the perfect idea. She just had to hope all the pieces played out perfectly on Monday.

“You’re going to set him up with someone…” Darrell offers as a smile forms on Emma’s face.

“Thought he didn’t need anybody?” Lance questions as Emma shrugs her shoulders.

“He’ll thank me for this one and she’ll get to have a fun time,” Emma shares as she pulls her phone out, making notes of her plan.

“So who is the lucky friend?” Kyle wonders as Emma glances up from her phone.

“A close friend of Chase’s, someone that he once said was his woman crush Wednesday on twitter and she’s in Flori-”

“Erin?” Ryan questions as the smile widens on Emma’s face.

“Erin?” Dylan questions confused.

“Erin Blaney, another relative,” Darrell explains as Dylan shakes his head understanding.

“She cuter than Emma?” Emma then turns the stare on as she looks at Dylan.

“You’ve got a girl and she’s not available to you,” Emma states before going back to comprising her plan.

She knew that it would be perfect.

Chapter 63: The Set-Up

“You’re going to the banquet, right?” Ryan questions as he and Erin reach their hotel rooms. He knew about Emma’s plans, wasn’t sure how she was implementing it, but also was worried that something would go affray. Leave it to his sister to make things twisted at times.

“Of course I’m going,” Erin assures him as she reaches her door. “I want to be there to celebrate your season.”

“Awww you’re so cute. Are you sure that you’re not using it an excuse to dress up and be fancy?” Erin then laughs as she goes to open the door.

“Ryan, you know me. I’d rather be playing in the dirt with my dad than pretty like Em.” Ryan laughs as he knew that was true.

“She may be changing, though. I heard through the grapevine that someone may have an influence on her.” Erin smiles as she thinks it over. Emma and Lance were certainly a cute couple and she enjoyed watching the pair grow closer.

“She’ll always be the pretty girl at heart, Ryan. That isn’t going to change. See you tomorrow.” Erin then heads in her room, closing the door behind her. With a busy Sunday night in the books and having enjoyed a thrilling battle for the Cup Championship, she was ready to hit the sack and get some sleep.

She walks over to her bed, set to find her pajamas to change into. As she unfolds them, she watches a piece of paper fall on the floor. She looks at it strangely, curiously, before bending down to pick up the piece of paper. She slowly unfolds it, still driven by curiosity as to how the piece of paper got stuck in her pajamas. She then reads the handwriting as she lies back on her bed.

Dear Princess Erin,
It’s time for you to meet a Prince Charming that is dashing to meet you.
You should know that he’s special and that he likes you a lot
It’s not something for you to fear, for you know the beautiful beau.
So please down to the main foyer, right at nine on the dot

She then rolls her eyes as she tosses the paper to the side. There was no one that came to mind in reading the note, and she couldn’t even think of how the note would’ve got in the room.

Though as she changes, and then gets comfy in bed, she couldn’t close her eyes to dream because she was stuck on the writing in the note. She then lets out a sigh as she grabs her phone and dials Emma.

“Hello?” Emma answers as she sits in a room with the other planners of the evening.

“Hey Em,” Erin says as she picks up the note from her night table. “Can we talk?” Emma smiles as she had expected the call.

“Of course. Does it deal with a note?” Erin was now rightfully confused.

“Yes, yes it does. What do you know?” Emma couldn’t stop smiling as she remembered getting Dylan to write it earlier so that way her hand writing wouldn’t get recognized by Erin.

“Some guy walked up to me and asked me if I could pass along the note. You had just left your room and house cleaning was there so I asked I could tuck it in, explaining hat we were related. It wasn’t a problem.” Erin smiles as she lies back as her big sister’s explanation did give her some comfort – leave it to her big sister to try and set her up with someone, though. Though, that also begged a question.

“So who’s the guy?” Emma looked towards the boys in the room with a smile.

“Can’t tell ya that one, Erin. But tell me – are you going to go see him tomorrow morning?” Erin glanced back towards the note and thought it over. She could always tell him no when she saw him.

“I guess….”

“That’s a girl. Listen, I got to go. Watching a movie with the boy. Talk to you tomorrow. Bye.”

“Bye.” Emma then hangs up as she kicks her feet up with a smile. “Success boys. She is going to meet up with him tomorrow at 9.” Dylan and Kyle shake their heads in approval as Lance just rolls his eyes. He couldn’t believe that they were doing this set-up on Chase.

“What about Elliott?” Lance questions as Dylan smiles.

“Ryan talked with him before the Cup race and he’s all set to meeting up with whoever wrote the mysterious fangirl letter,” Dylan explains. “The only condition was that he have someone come with him – so Ryan offered.”

“Now wait – this girl wrote a letter and this boy asked her,” Kyle Larson thinks it over. “So what happens when they face each other?”

“They realize that they were set-up and somehow it works out to them going to the banquet as a date,” Emma explains the plan that she had in mind.

“Couldn’t you had just showed them up at the banquet together?” Dylan wonders and Emma shakes her head no.

“Poor Chase would be out of whits over that and I didn’t want to leave him surprised like that on banquet night. Besides, trust me, this will work. He has always had a secret crush on her, and she won’t want to let the champ down.”

The group went to bed that night – Emma confident in her plan, Dylan waiting for it to blow up in her face, Lance not believing the chaos that he found himself in and Kyle just curious as to how the hell this would play out.

The next morning, everybody ate breakfast before planning out where they’d hide out. Ryan claimed that he lead Chase to the foyer and see where things went, while Erin was going to head down confidently by herself – or at least that’s what she told Emma. Emma, Dylan, Darrell and Kyle planned to hide out in a spot in the foyer that they wouldn’t be found to spy and see what happened.

It was just that easy, right?

“Ready?” Ryan asks as he stands out in the hall waiting for Chase. Chase shakes his head yes, still unsure of this. He was always told to stay away from girls like that as they were stalkers and only brought bad news. So why was he meeting up with this girl? Guess he figured that she could get a note to him like she did that she had connections and wasn’t that bad.

The pair then walk out to the foyer and Ryan immediately smiles when he notices Erin standing there, glancing around from someone. He watches as Chase continues walking, though slows himself as if to leave the pair by themselves.

“Erin?” Chase questions as he catches a glimpse of her face. She then looks over at him and immediately feels her heart skip a beat in her chest. Could this be her prince charming?

“Chase?” She says in response as she feels her fingers fumble with the letter in her pocket. “Are you the Prince Charming?” Chase then looks at her confused and shakes his head no.

“No….Why do you ask?” She then holds up the letter that she had in her pocket.

“Some guy wrote a letter saying that I was his princess and to meet him here at 9 o’ clock. I thought it was you.”

“It wasn’t me. I’m here because of this…” He then gets the fan girl’s letter out of his pocket and hands it over to her. She then reads it over in disbelief.

“Wow. Weren’t you told to stay away from people like this?” Chase knew that he’d heard that reasonable response from anyone. So why did he let Ryan convince him otherwise?

“Thought I’d come at least meet her and let her have the story of meeting me. Then perhaps get her arrested for stalking. It’s weird that both our letters say the same time, though.” He then looks back over his letter, before snatching the letter out of Erin’s hands.

“Hey!!” Chase looks over both letters and starts to shake his head.

“We’ve been set up. They’re both written with the same writing.” She then looks them over, coming to the same conclusion.

“But…..” Chase then looks over at Ryan, who is standing to the side of the room just watching the pair.

“Do you know anything about this, Blaney?” Ryan shakes his head no, trying to hide the smile that is starting to form on his face.

“Ryan, you’re lying. I can tell by the grin that you’re trying to hide…” Ryan then looks away, knowing that he couldn’t spoil the plan. The pair were having a great conversation as they had hoped for.

“Start talking….”

“You didn’t have a date and we know that you both are good friends going by yourselves so Emma and I set you up,” Ryan reveals, hiding the fact that they also did it because they knew of the crush that stemmed back and forth between the pair. “Dylan wrote both notes so that way we wouldn’t reveal the truth.” Erin then shakes her head in disbelief as she doesn’t believe what has happened. Leave it to their friends to do this – leave it to her own sister to set her up.

“Look Chas-” Erin starts as she looks back towards him.

“You don’t have to say anything, Erin,” Chase cuts her off because she can start.

“No, I do have to say something. They are both asse-”

“They meant well and knew that I didn’t have a date. Every champion has a date to the big party.” Chase then takes her hand, having wanted to do this for awhile. If he could’ve went to prom, he would’ve brought an out of town girl and that would’ve been Erin. Since he didn’t get to prom, this party would have to settle. “It may have been a dirty trick and we’ll get them back for it, but come enjoy the night with me. Be my date to my party and help me celebrate tonight, please?” She always melted at the sight of his cute smile and loved his eyes that they captured her. There was no saying no.

“You’re on.”

“Woohooo!” Dylan lets out a big cheer from the hiding spot, earning a slap from Darrell.

“Last time I plan a trick with you,” Darrell comments as they come out of their hiding spot.

“Admit it – you love us right now for this, right?” Emma questions as she looks between the pair. She could tell that they were both happy about this by how they were looking at each other, matched by the smiles on their faces.

“I guess I could use a date,” Chase comments as Erin smiles.

“And I wouldn’t mind helping you celebrate,” Erin adds.

“Okay – now to get the princess ready!” Emma lets out before dragging Erin away, set to do her hair and make-up before the night.

Chapter 64: Thanksgiving Plans

“So what are your plans for Thanksgiving?” Lance asks as the pair lay on the couch together watching a movie. They didn’t have to worry about Cameron’s comments as the roommate had headed up to Calgary to spend time with his family while his plans for 2015 were worked out. Lance hoped that his best bud heard something soon, whether K&N or Truck, but knew the odds were slim thanks to the owner lawsuit that was going on.

“Full Blaney family get together with everybody,” Emma answers as she had already received the phone call from her mom to make sure that she was there. It was family tradition for everyone to get together and there was no letting anyone miss out on that. The thought of her whole family getting together gave her an idea, though. “You should come!” Lance then glances down at her confused.

“Really?” Emma shakes her head yes as she sits up, knowing that it was the perfect plan. She didn’t get how Lance was confused.

“Absolutely. We’re officially together – been together most of the year – so you should get to know my family. I got to know yours so now it’s your turn. Come home with me and enjoy some of the best laughs around while enjoying a beautifully cooked turkey.” Lance laid back, thinking it over. The offer did sound like a good one. However, he had a tradition of his own that he promised his mother that he would keep going.

“I actually should be heading home to see my parents. I missed my Thanksgiving and since I started thinking of moving down here, it was always that I’d come home on the US Thanksgiving and we’d do it then. I don’t want to break my mom’s heart.” Emma’s smile immediately turns to frown. She knew with Cameron heading to Alberta that it’d only be a matter of time before Lance headed up to Ontario for some time with his family during the off-season. Knowing for certain that he’d come back with a good feeling, but knowing that she may not see him for a good month was heartbreaking.

“Can’t you come to my thanksgiving on your way home and just ask your mom to postpone it?” Lance knew the option was a liable one that made sense. It’d also make it easier for his mom to do it on the weekend when nobody had work. However, changing plans in the family – different story.

“But she’s planned it all out, Emma. I can’t just change her plans on her.” Emma then runs her fingers down his cheek, feeling the heartbreak creep in more and more.

“We’re not going to see each other for at least a month. Come with me to see my family and then I’ll come with you home to see yours for a couple of days. I’ll tell mom that I’m going to spend time with you till the 1st and she can handle things in the store while I do the online stuff from your place.”

“Emma…..”

“Please Lance? I don’t want to go a month without seeing your face. It’s going to be the worst feeling ever! You don’t understand how hard this is for me. at least compromise on the dinner, please.” Lance felt his own bit of heartbreak begin to fade in as he let the feeling of not seeing her come forth. Sure, he wanted to spend time with family as he knew there wouldn’t be time come the race season. Sure this was tradition for him to go home on US Thanksgiving weekend and stay there till the New Year. However, with a girl in his life, perhaps it was a time for a change in plans.

“It’s just so hard to disappoint Mo-”

“So you’d rather disappoint your girlfriend than your mother?” Lance lets out a sigh as he shakes his head no.

“I didn’t mean it that way, Em. It’s jus-”

“You could at least ask, if nothing else. I’d understand if she said no after you asked. However, persisting to not even ask is just unbearable. Relationship is about compromise. I’m compromising not seeing you while you go see your family, so why don’t you compromise by coming to my thanksgiving?” It was hard to argue with her as she made plenty of good points – one after the other – that he was finding no way to answer back to. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to ask his mom for a change in date. As Emma said, it wasn’t his fault if his mom said no.

However, he also knew that his mom would bend over backwards for him and do whatever was necessary to make her sweetie happy. So if that meant changing plans all around so he could do something, she would do it. He had seen that through his childhood as she always made sure her boys came first, no matter what.

To watch her change her plans just because of him – again – wouldn’t be the easiest thing for him to watch. He didn’t want to make things difficult or complicated for his mom as he loved her, and was so thankful to have her. He also knew that it wasn’t easy for her having her youngest away from home as she loved to have that constant relationship with her boys.

“Lance?” Emma breaks up his thoughts as he focuses back on her. Seeing the sad eyes before him, thinking how he’d have to deal with a month without cuddles, kisses, eyes glaring at his, lips to smooch over and a body to touch, he knew that he also had to do what was right in spending as much time as possible before they couldn’t spend the time together.

“I’ll call her and see what she says, okay?” Lance questions as a smile forms on Emma’s face. “I love you, Emma-poo.”

“I love Lancey-boo.” She then kisses his lips as she cuddles back up c

Chapter 65: Thanksgiving
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“How are you still alive dating my sister?” Ryan asks as he plays a video game with Lance while the Blaney girls were playing a girly board game.

“You like me?” Lance asks as he looks over at Ryan.

“I hope you keep your eyes on the track when you’re actually racing.” Lance then looks back at the television, getting his race car off of the wall. “As far as your reason, that must be it.”

“You did want to kill me originally.” Ryan chuckles, thinking back to some of their previous encounters.

“I always thought that I’d be the ass brother and chase away all of her boyfriends – once she actually started dating. I didn’t believe that my own teammate would be the first, or my mind would be changed.” Lance was intrigued by this confession as it made sense given what happened.

“Why did you want to be like that originally?” Ryan grins at the thought.

“Revenge. That’s how she’s been with me since I started racing, worried that I’d end up with a bunny.” That surprised Lance based on what he knew of Ryan over the past year.

“Doesn’t she trust your judgment?” Ryan knew the answer automatically.

“Let’s just say that my high school girlfriends weren’t the best choices. I’ve learned since then but she doesn’t understand that.” This conversation had caught the intrigue of Lance a lot.

“Is there anybody that you like?” Ryan shakes his head no.

“There’s no girl that I’ve met that is sweet enough to take home forever. Call me whatever, but I want a sweet country girl to call my own.” Lance smiles as he remembered saying those same words himself a couple years ago to a close friend underneath the stars in the back of his truck.

“That’s not a bad dream. I had the same and I accomplished it. I got a darling in your sister.” Ryan smiles as he was glad that Emma had someone like Lance who truly cared about her.

“So she’s coming home with you for awhile?” Lance shakes his head yes.

“That’s the plan.”

“Remember to behave.”

“So, how are you liking the family?” Emma interrupts as she sits on Lance’s lap.

“Can’t you see that I’m playing a game?” Lance asks as he tries to see around her.

“My brother needs all the help that he can get.”

“Hey!” Ryan comments as Lance laughs.

“Your family is awesome,” Lance answers her question. “I really love your uncle Dale.”

“Everybody does,” Emma says as Erin sits on the chair beside the group.

“I thought you would’ve brought Chase with you.” Erin simply rolls her eyes in disbelief.

“We are not a couple and he went home for thanksgiving,” she answers.

“You looked cozy at the banquet,” Ryan comments as Emma gives her brother the stare.

“I told you that we were just friends and nothing more, enjoying the night. Why can’t you drop the topic?”

“Face it – you have a crush,” Emma teases.

“I do not,” Erin rebuttles.

“Keep saying it. You’ll be with him before we all know it.” Erin could only roll her eyes at the discussion.

The entire afternoon and evening, Lance could only smile. No doubt he had landed himself in the midst of an awesome close loving family. He knew that he could enjoy getting closer with them, and even trading Erin in the process.

He also didn’t mind the idea of a new tradition for the post race season as it was nice change up in life that he could get used to.

Though in the same breath, he couldn’t wait to get home and see his family.