Ella lets out a sigh as she glances at her phone. She had received a text message from Chase, but it was still not the comfort she truly desired over the situation. It was why a couple hours later on that night, she had her phone out and hit dial.
“Hello?” She hears on the other end and smiles.
“Hey Alyssa,” she starts calmly. “It’s Ella. How are you?”
“I’m doing good. How about you?” Ella wished she was calling on better terms.
“I’m doing okay. Listen, I wanted to ask you something. Did Chase mention anything about earlier today?” Alyssa looks over at Chase, feeling puzzled.
“He mentioned that he spoke with Jeff, Marshall and Rick – they’re all on board. He also mentioned seeing the guys and such – nothing out of the ordinary. Why? What’s up?” Ella figured that’d happen, based on the vibe she got from Chase.
“He fell in the parking lot leaving the shop today. He said he tripped over a rock while stuck in his own thoughts. I made sure he was okay, and then let him drive home once he was. I just wanted to check and see how he was, though.” Alyssa found her eyes locked on Chase, concern and perhaps anger in not knowing on her mind.
“He seems fine, to be honest. He made dinner tonight, we talked as usual, and he’s cleaning things up.” Ella let out a small smile at the thought.
“That’s good. I just wanted to check. Listen, I’ll let you go. Thank you for your honesty.” Alyssa glanced into the kitchen.
“Thanks for letting me know what happened, Ella. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She then hangs up the phone as she takes a deep breath.
She then walks into the kitchen, leaning over the counter as she watches him carefully.
“I thought you were going to wait for me in the front room,” he says, feeling her presence behind him.
“I came into the kitchen because I have something to ask you,” she starts, causing him to spin around and look at her confused. He could tell that she had just been on the phone. What could’ve caused her to come see him. “How are you feeling?”
“Fine. Who was on the phone?” Alyssa debated revealing the name, but knew he’d figure it out immediately anyway.
“Ella. She wanted to ask me how you were as you had a moment in the parking lot.” Chase then froze. He had hoped she would’ve kept quiet as he didn’t need everybody on his case more.
“I tripped over a rock. Everybody can do that. I had a small cut on my leg but it’s fine. Why are we being paranoi-”
“She called to just check because she was worried due to you having a lot on your mind.” Alyssa then walks around the counter, closing in on Chase. “Considering your reaction, I’d say there was a good reason to believe that.”
“I told you – I’m fine.” He then turns back to the sink, taking a deep breath as he tries to keep himself calm.
“Chase, it’d help if you’d talk abo-”
“Your voice says otherwise.” He then spins around, throwing the rag that was in his hand off to the side.
“I’m going for a walk. I’ll be back after.” He then goes to walk by her, but she grabs his hands, causing him to stop. He turns to look at her, eyes locking together. She could see the pain in his, while he saw the concern in hers.
“Chase, please talk to me. Please explain. Don’t run aw-”
“Just leave me alone, please!” She then freezes instantly, letting go of his hand as she feels the inability to move, not realizing that his temper was going to break just like that. She felt hot tears rising to the surface as she backed away from him, shock and heartbreak combined together. “Alyssa….”
“It’s fine. Go…” She then goes to keep walking away, though he takes a deep breath and follows. She stops as she hears his footsteps behind her, letting him place a hand on her shoulder as he gives it a squeeze.
“I’m sorry.” He then spins her around so they’re facing each other. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I’m sorry I snapped like that. I didn’t mean to do that to you. I’m sorry….” He then takes a deep breath as he takes her hand into his. “I don’t like talking about what happened. I don’t like talking about anything in relation to whatever happened. That’s just how I am. I bottle it up together, shove it in the back of my mind and try to move forward without a single thought. Pushed and pressured to talk, I snap – automatic defense mechanism never meant to truly hurt the person pushing me.”
“It scared me a little, Chase. I didn’t know what to think…” He takes a deep breath, hating that he had scared her. He wanted to take care of her and help her, not do the opposite.
“I’m sorry. I should’ve handled that totally different.” He then lets her hand go, leaning back against the closest wall as he debates opening up more. “I hate talking about it. I don’t like reminding myself or facing situations. I’ve always been like that. I made myself so sick one time that I was puking and almost passing out from dehydration. I failed to sleep for almost a whole month. That’s why I was worried about you returning to racing so soon, and whether you were truly ready and not just trying to avoid things. I also ran away, to try and escape everyth-”
“Please don’t run away, please….” Chase saw the tears slipping down her cheeks as he immediately re-closed the gap between them, grabbing both of her hands in an instant.
“I could never, ever, run away from you. I could never live with myself if I did that, Alyssa. You never have to worry about me running away, I promise. Even if I go off for a walk – I’ll always come back to you because of how much I love and care about you.” He then kisses her lips. “I could never be without you.”
“I love you, Chase…” He lets go of both her hands, just so he can wrap his arms around her to hold her close.
“I love you, too. I’ll always love you.” He then kisses the top of her head before she lies her head against him. “I don’t like what I do. I don’t like how I handle these situations to this day. I want to handle things differently. I want to be the guy that talks to someone and sorts it out. I want to work things out.”
“And you will be able to, Chase. You’re starting to take the right steps by the decision to not return racing till you’re ready, and opening up to Ella a little and Regan a little, as well as myself. It’s starting, and that’s progress. If you can do a little each day, then there’s no reason to be ashamed or angry.” She then looks up at him. “And I’m sorry I pushed you.”
“You were only doing that because you care about me. I should’ve thought about that before flipping on you.” She shakes her head before placing her head against his chest once again. “What do you say we go lay down and watch a movie together?” She easily accepts as they make their way to their room together.
She takes her pajamas out of the drawer, heading off to the bathroom to get changed as Chase sat on the edge of the bed. He takes a couple deep breaths, looking up at the reflection in the mirror.
“You can’t be doing that. You need to get this under control. She doesn’t need you scaring the crap out of her,” he told himself.
He then stands up, slipping off his shirt, followed by his pants. He glances down at the mark just below the scar, glad that he hadn’t cut himself worse.
“Chase?” He hears as he glances up to see Alyssa standing there in her familiar pink cheetah pajamas.
“I’m fine,” he tells her as he throws his clothes to the side. “I was just checking on the spot.” She then walks over, her finger tracing the new mark before she gives him a kiss on the cheek. Her eyes then return for a brief second, fixated on the scar, before looking up to look into his eyes.
“Don’t ever let me take you for granted. I know how lucky I am to have someone like you in my life.” He then grabs her hand and pulls her right close to him.
“I think that’s what I should be saying right now after what happened. Come on…” They then climb up in the bed together, choosing a comedy to try and get their minds off what happened for the night.