Friday, December 8 – Hendrick Motorsports
The next two days were for the most part quiet. Chase finished up the production shoots he needed to do ahead of 2017, while getting in some reading time to check a couple more pages off in the book. Sarina, meanwhile, focused her energy into planning how the Christmas decorating was going to go once they go to the cabin.
But once Friday hit, that was all put on the back burner as it was going to be another busy day for them both.
“I still can’t believe I’m here with you…” Sarina muses as Chase parks in the back parking lot.
“What do you mean?” He questions with a glance towards her.
“I drive for Kyle, but yet I’m here on Hendrick proper-”
“Kyle lets me stop by your shop to see you, and he did invite me to your Christmas party. We also spend a lot of time in each other’s haulers on race weekends. I don’t see how this is any different.” She lets out a sigh as they both get out of the car together.
“It’s like I’m stepping on NASCAR sacred ground. Hendrick Motorsports is one of those always been here, top teams no matter what, and damn Chase, its surreal for someone like me who never imagined that she’d have a chance to be here in this sport. Plus, I am breaking every single rule that they say about competition and how you’re not supposed to be on your competitor’s turf because they will say you’re spying.” Chase laughs, remembering how both Christopher and Kyle had teased him about that numerous times.
“Trust me – it’s fine. It’s not like the boys will be doing anything of the secret variety. Well, except picking on you…” She rolls her eyes as she follows him through the back door.
As she enters, her jaw drops immediately as she was amazed at the space, organization, how clean it was, how professional everyone looked. She just shakes her head, glancing around in amazement, as she follows Chase to where they were headed.
“Hey!” Alan notices them immediately, walking over and giving each of them a hug. “It’s nice to see that you could make it today.”
“And miss seeing you? That’d be evil,” Sarina comments as Alan simply smiles back in return. Sarina had always kept a special admiration for the crew chief. It wasn’t lost on her that he had saved Chase’s ass in a big way twice now, and one of those times was partially her fault to begin with. She never took for granted what he was able to do for his driver.
“Well I’m glad you’re not a Grinch…” Chase then wraps an arm around her, smiling.
“Actually, she’s like one of those crazy elfs,” he starts. “She can’t wait to decorate as she was blabbing my ear off in Florida about how she can’t wait to get a tree, and make it look pretty, and then make the cabin look absolutely insane Christmas-y with lots of decorations.” Alan crosses his arms as he looks between the pair.
“Cabin, huh?” Alan questions. “Are we off to Colorado next week?” Chase smiles, nodding his head, which only caused the crew chief to take a careful deep breath. He knew what the trip would entail. “Just promise me, and swear to me that you’ll be careful. With your luck, I don’t want to be getting a phone call that you went tumbling down the mountain and broke a leg, or a foot, or worse.”
“I’ll be careful – like always. I’m a seasoned pro.” Alan rolls his eyes, knowing how that went.
“Hey Jared, your favorite female is looking for you,” Jordan Allen then chimes in from his perch. “She’s hear to fulfill her promise.” Sarina just rolls her eyes, watching as Jared makes his way over to the group.
“Haven’t you learned, Jordan? We found a truce,” Jared Seate begins with a smile towards Sarina. “She actually admitted that she likes me, and I was part of the reason why she was able to get back with Chase. So rather than planning my funeral, you can kiss my ass because I have a new friend now.” Sarina laughs as Jordan rolls his eyes, walking away.
“I wasn’t quite that sweet about it,” Sarina confesses as Jared shrugs his shoulders.
“Okay, so maybe not. But admit – you like me…” Sarina could only roll her eyes back now as Jared looks at her surprised. “Then I guess I should’ve just not called you that night.” Sarina closes her eyes, thinking back to the beginning of the year and remembering how upset and angry she was. Taking a deep breath, Jared had a good point as she probably would’ve waited longer without his message. However, he could never know that.
“I appreciate you reaching out and for what you did. But, like Chase told you, he knew I’d reach out eventually. I could never go on without him.” Chase smiles, wrapping an arm around her to keep her held close to him.
“You guys are too sappy for your own good,” Alan offers, before walking away. “Can we get these games started?” Sarina then glances over at Chase confused.
“Games?” She questions and all he could do was simply nod his head in return. “Why didn’t you warn me?”
“I didn’t want to scare you off,” he replies, giving her a quick kiss. “Besides, these are fun games.” They all circle around Eddie, who has a list of the games for the day in his hand, eying the group with pride. This was going to get interesting. “Who made you game commissioner?”
“I get the first two games, before we get the whole shop together,” Eddie offers. “I was given the list, so that makes me the boss. If you have any objections, all I have to say is bah-humbug.” Chase chuckles as he crosses his arms. “I am going to split you into four teams of three, as the first event is a relay race.”
“Oh lawdy….” Josh Kirk muses, knowing that this wasn’t going to go pretty, considering they all attempted to trip each other last year.
“Why can’t we choose our teammates?” Jared Seate wonders, earning a glance from Eddie.
“Because that’d be too easy,” Eddie replies, shuffling a bunch of names around in a hat. “I’m going to pull our names. First three are team one, next three are team two, and well, you get the damn idea.” Eddie reaches his hand in the bucket, pulling out three pieces of paper. “Team A – Josh, Chad, and Sarina.” Jared rolls his eyes immediately, as Chase silently curses to himself. “Team B – Jordan, Jared Seate, and Alan.” Jared’s eyes roll immediately.
“I get the worse team? Really?”
“Hey now!” Alan lets out, looking obviously offended.
“I can run, you know?” Jordan adds as Jared only rolls his eyes.
“Ah, the Christmas spirit is alive and well,” Eddie comments as he reaches his hand back in. “Team C – Jared Erspamer, John, and myself. That means the final team will be Nick, Travis and Chase.”
“You would obviously get the two best runners on your team, superstar.” Chase sticks his tongue out as they get all lined up ready to go.
“Rules are simple. Grab the Christmas tree, run to the other end of the shop, and run back without losing a single jingle bell. If you drop a bell, you must stop, pick it up, and put it back on. Each team member must do one run. First team to complete and not lose their balls will be the winner.”
“Wait – some of us don’t have balls,” Jared cracks, earning a smack across the forehead from Alan. “Hey!”
“No, we just have them on our chest, and if you stare – you’ll find out how painful it hurts to twist your own,” Sarina offers back, causing a couple shocked glances.
“I like our new teammate,” Josh comments, earning a nod of agreement from Chad.
The relay started off smooth, but it wasn’t long before the balls were bouncing off trees, across the floor. Chase knew his team was out of it when he had to chase a ball halfway across the shop, dropping some more along the way. Sarina watched as Josh and Chad perfected the art, and she was able to get from the start to the other end without losing a single ball. However, on the trip back, one of them bounced off. She was able to quickly pick it up and put it back on – but it was too late. Eddie crossed the line with his tree perfectly in tack seconds ahead of her, handing his team the win.
“I feel like shit,” Sarina comments as makes her way over to Josh and Chad. “You guys were perfect, and I blew it. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Chad Avrit assures her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “You did your best, and that’s what matters. We’re here to have fun, right?”
“Besides, I was more entertained watching Chase run after balls all over,” Josh Kirk adds, causing a chuckle to escape her lips.
“That was amusing…” She offers as Chase just rolls his eyes.
“Now it’s time for everybody’s favorite race – two to tangle,” Eddie announces, causing Sarina to look over confused. “The rules are simple – you will be divided into teams of two. You are to tie a left shoe lace to your partner’s right shoe lace, and each wear a hand-cuff. You must hop, run, whatever you can to stop one – where you must decorate five cookies together. Then you go to stage two, where you decorate the Christmas tree. And then you can go to stage three, where you have to untangle the lights for outside. If you can do all that, and make it to the finish first, you win. But the pair that comes in dead last must remained hand-cuffed together all day long – yes, including dinner.”
“He’s joking, right?” Sarina questions and Josh shakes his head no, glancing over at Jordan.
“His mistake last year ended up resulting in us tied together all day long,” Josh reveals as Sarina looks over shocked. “When it comes to these games, we don’t kid around. This gets a little interesting….”
“Seriously?” Chase nods his head as he crosses his arms. He hoped he got a good partner that would allow him to complete the course with ease. However, if for some reason that failed, he wanted someone that he wouldn’t murder by day’s end.
“So here we go….” Eddie says, reaching his hand into the bag of names. “Team A will consist of Jordan and Nick.” A couple cheers escaped, as nobody wanted to be stuck with Jordan again this year for another mistake. “Team B will consist of Travis and Jared Seate.” Sarina said a quick thank you to herself as she was worried about being stuck with Jared. “Team C will consist of John and myself.”
“I would laugh if we ended up together,” Chase whispers to Sarina as she just smiles in return.
“Team D will consist of Sarina and Alan.” Chase let out a quiet sigh, as Sarina smiled. If she was going to be stuck to someone, it might as well be Alan as at least she knew him pretty well. Actually, he was probably the best person of the group to do this with – except for Chase, obviously. “Team E will Jared Erspamer and Chase, making Team F consisting of Josh and Chad.” Chase walks over to Jared, affixing a cuff to himself, before holding it out for him, as he takes a deep breath.
“Listen, I’m going to make sure to not screw this up,” Chase starts, catching Jared Erspamer’s attention. “I still feel rotten and terrible about what happened in Ma-”
“It’s not your fault that Chris poisio-” Jared interrupts him, but Chase shakes his head.
“He was after me and Sarina. He never should’ve touched you guys, or any of her guys, or Ryan, or Bubba. It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it.” Chase takes a deep breath. “Anyways, I owe you something – redemption. So let’s get ourselves a win, alright?”
“Just don’t be throwing the balls across the shop….” Chase rolls his eyes, knowing he would probably hear about that for weeks now.
As expected, the game turned intriguing right away with tons of laughs throughout as crew members tripped, items got dropped, and a couple cookies got eaten in the process. Despite Chase and Jared’s best effort together, it wasn’t their turn to pick up the crown. Instead the honor went to Sarina and Alan, who seemed to perfect their partnership immediately. The bottom of the pile – well, that honor went to Chase.
“Last in both games….” Jared Seate comments as he shakes his head. “Is this really happening?”
“I hate those damn balls,” Chase says as he places the last one of the lost balls on the table. He then glances at his partner with a sigh. “I’m sorry….”
“It’s my fault, too,” Jared Erspamer replies. “Looks like we’re stuck together….”
Friday, December 8 – Kyle Busch Motorsports
“Are you glad to be finally free of your partner in crime?” Sarina asks, having chuckled the whole way from Hendrick Motorsports to Kyle Busch Motorsports. It was hilarious watching Chase and Jared try to play some of the other games, and of course eating did not go smoothly, as predicted.
“Did you have fun at my expense, at least?” Chase wonders and Sarina nods her head. “Now I don’t know. Maybe I would’ve preferred to stay connected to my partner than be here…” Sarina laughs as they reach the door.
“I just hope Kyle didn’t go too crazy this year.” They then walk inside, meeting face-to-face immediately with Kyle, who was sitting on a big green couch with an evil grin on his face.
“My oh my, you guys have arrived…” Kyle muses as Chase looks at him with odd curiousity.
“This is somewhat creepy…” Chase comments as Sarina chuckles.
“You haven’t seen nothing yet,” she offers, giving Chase an immediate look of fear.
“I am not wearing this damn thing!” They hear yelled from behind the curtain and Kyle breaks out laughing.
“Come show off your new sweater, Bell,” Kyle requests as Christopher lets out a sigh.
“This is evil. I know we were bad this year and annoyed you, but this is ridiculous.” Christopher then emerges from behind the curtain, wearing a red sweater with a big bell attached to the back, including a string to be rung. “Ring my bell so I feel swell? How the hell did you come up with that?”
“I almost wrote ring my bell so I don’t go to hell – but I thought that was a little over the top.” Chase looks at Sarina, feeling even more fear and anxiety over what was planned now. What had he gotten himself into? “Now, my next victim – I mean sweet dear individual. Take this package and place it on.” Sarina takes the bag, glancing at Chase with a tinge of her own fear, before retreating behind the curtain. “After she is changed, I have something special for you.”
“It wouldn’t have to deal with base, would it?” Chase wonders, trying to rhyme every word he could in his head.
“I don’t play rhyme gam-” Kyle starts.
“Are you kidding me, Kyle?” Sarina interrupts them as she puts on the sweater. “I seriously tell you about that, and you make a sweater out of it?” Kyle smiles even more, causing confusion to be written over Chase’s face.
“Isn’t it adorable?” Sarina had other thoughts than that, including being set to land a punch on someone’s face. “Please, oh please, come share your prize…”
“I could kill you right now, Kyle!” Kyle chuckles as she emerges from the curtain. Kyle had gotten a navy blue sweater, which now had an enlarged snowglobe sticking out the front of it, with a picture of Chase inside of it. “Like, really?”
“What do you think, Elliott?” Chase shakes his head in disbelief. This was getting ridiculous. “Oh, and if you press the button right underneath it, there are some fake snow falling acti-”
“Are you doing this to get coal in your stocking this year?” Kyle looks over, surprised, as Sarina sticks her tongue out.
“Oh Sarina, I’ve been a good little boy all year long. Santa is going to make sure to treat me well. Besides, I thought it was adorable.” Sarina sits down beside Christopher, shaking her head.
“Want to meet me on April Fool’s Day?” Christopher laughs, but couldn’t help but agree.
“Mr. Elliott, are you ready for your package?” Chase looks on with fear on his face, but takes the bag gracefully. “I hope I got the right size.”
“Can I run away now?” Chase asks and Sarina shakes her head no.
“If I have to play along with this snow globe and deal with Mr. Seate teasing me all day, then you can handle wearing that for at least 15 minutes of jokes,” Sarina answers as Chase lets out a sigh.
“Figures…” He then retreats behind the curtain, opening up the box. “There is no way that this is happening!”