Cabin Fears – Chapter 40: “Just leave me alone, please…”

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-”

“I’m fin-”

“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.

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Cabin Fears – Chapter 39: Parking Lot

After a day of meeting up with everybody, he knew he had spent every bit of energy he had. It was time to head home, grab something to eat for dinner, and then relax for the rest of the night.

He walked out the back door, tossing the car keys in his hand as he walks through the parking lot. It was a short walk back to where he parked, but enough time for his mind to escape through a series of thoughts in regards to the past couple of hours.

He still couldn’t believe how understanding both Jeff and Rick were about the situation. He had thanked them, but knew in his heart they deserved a couple more thanks than just that.

He also appreciated the advice from them both in how to go about the next step, whether who to talk to or how to tackle things. He knew he needed to keep avoiding it. The only reason he kept saying he didn’t know who to talk to was to avoid actually talking – he knew that. Besides, he knew that his parents, Regan, Dale, Ryan or Darrel would be a good option to talk to as they’d worked before. It was just a matter of choose one, and get his thoughts off his chest.

He kept thinking over the thoughts, not realizing the stone kicked up in the middle of the parking lot, tripping forward. For the second day in less than week, he had tripped over something lost in his thoughts.

“Shit!” He immediately lets out as he works back at standing up.

He glanced up at his pant leg, seeing the rip as he let out a sigh. There went one of his favorite pairs of jeans. Though he wasn’t caught on the rip, but rather the scar that was in the space where the rip was. There was also some blood trailing from just beneath that from the fall.

He stands up, immediately placing his hand over the cut, before glancing back towards the shop. The car was closer, so he’d go there he figured. He made his way over, reaching in to grab some Kleenex and press it against the small cut to stop it from bleeding. A couple moments, it’d stop and he could home without a thought.

“Chase?” He hears and rolls his eyes, seeing the eyes of Ella locked on him. She immediately runs over, shock written on her face. “What the hec-”

“I tripped over that rock back there,” he cuts her off. “Stop worrying. I’m fine. It’s just a minor cut.  I’ll hold this here, it’ll stop and we can continue like nothing happened.” She then looks on puzzled.

“Are you sure about that? I mean, I could go get someone or a Bandai-”

“I’m fine, Ella.” She then stops with the questions, figuring that she should believe him. However, she wasn’t about to leave him sitting there alone as she joined him on the ground. “You don’t need to watc-”

“I know you’re a grown boy, but I don’t want to go and then you have some problem getting up or whatever. Just let me give you some company, please.” Chase lets out a sigh, figuring that’d be fine. “Is the blood because of the scar, by the way?” He instantly regretted her sitting down now.

“The blood and the scar are totally unrelated as the blood is coming from further down. The scar came from an incident with Randy. He stabbed in the leg in a hotel room.” She then looks on surprised. “You hadn’t heard about that?” She shakes her head no.

“I didn’t bother to look up all the gory details of what Mariela and Randy did to you guys, to be honest.” Chase couldn’t blame her as it wasn’t the best history to express.

“I dropped a hotel key in the lobby by accident. I still can’t believe I did that to this day, to be honest. I mean, who the hell lets a key to their room fall in the lap of a psycho-”

“Chase, we all make mistakes. Remember how I got frustrated without being able to have the perfect line, perfect race, small mistakes? You told me that nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes. It’s about learning from them.” Chase takes a deep breath, remembering the theory he stuck with himself to try and drive his pursuit of perfection to the back burner.

“You’re right. Hence why I guard keys and important cards a little more closely now. Anyways, he snuck into my room later on that night with the plan to hurt me because he was angry in having spent some time in jail as a result of what happened in Daytona.” She shakes her head, understanding. Randy’s anger made sense, but there was also a reason why he was stuck in jail.

“And how was he connected to Mariela’s deal in Daytona?” He then looks on surprised, once again. “Sorry. I told you that I didn’t look everything up and I was young then, Chase.”

“I know; it’s just surprising. He was the crew member that passed along all the details of where Dale, Marie and everybody would be to Mariela, and helped put the switcheroo in place for Dale to be in the car and me to be with Mariela.” Ella shakes her head, understanding. Now it made sense how that was pulled off, and why Chase found himself in her hands.

“I never thought any of our guys would be stupid enough to go behind the driver’s back. Now it makes sense.”  Chase shakes his head, agreeing. He remembered the disbelief he had when he first learned a crew member was connected to the mess.

“We fought back and forth – I threw a book and a shoe at him as he tried to tackle me down. He had a knife in hand, cutting my arm a little before I could get him back. We continued throwing things at each other and when he threw a shoe at me, I dropped the knife between us – perfect opportunity for him. Looking back, perhaps it would’ve been better to just use that knife on him firs-”

“You’re not the kind of guy, Chas-”

“It would’ve saved me from the pain later, though. I could’ve also hid the knife somewhere else, too. It may have bid me some time to escape the room.” He then shakes his head as he thinks it over.

“This was like 14 years ago and yet you’re still beating yourself up over it?” He looks over at her.

“I can’t let go of the mistakes that I made, Ella. That could’ve cost me everything right there. The knife goes in my leg a little further down and it cuts the main artery, and I would’ve bled out that night. The knife goes a little higher, and I could’ve cut a main nerve. I don’t ever let that thought get lost on me, knowing how close I was that day. It makes me thankful that things worked out, but also drives me to make sure that doesn’t happen again – and that’s why correcting those mistakes.” She could understand his thoughts while looking back.

“I see where you’re coming from, but living in the past doesn’t let you move forward. You’ve pictured it every way you could, come up with these solutions. Now it’s time for you to be glad that it wasn’t worse, and make the most of what you’ve got in life. Take advantage of the friendships around you, grow closer to Alyssa and enjoy the relationship, figure out what you’ve got on your plate, and then kick ass on track to top it off.” He then smiles, knowing her advice was right in line with everyone else’s lately.

“I’m working on that, trust me.  I’m figuring out what I can to move forward so I can get back to where I was.” He then takes a deep breath, thinking over their discussion. “By the way, thanks for forcing me to talk about this. It helped, honestly.  It really put that in perspective some.” She smiles.

“See, it was a good reason that I came over here to check on you, huh?” He then smiles.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“So, who saved you that night?”Chase smiles as he knew two people that he’d be forever grateful for.

“Ryan and Darrell, actually. They were in the room not far from mine and heard my screams. Ryan found a way to bust the door open, and they were able to put pressure on the wound and help me till the medics showed up. I’ll admit that I wasn’t the best patient.” She then looks over, not surprised glance on her face.

“That sounds like you today, to be honest.” He then lets out a sigh as he lifts the Kleenex, taking in the cut.

“That’s because I knew this wasn’t serious, and see – it stopped bleeding.  I told you I was fine, Ella. But really, thank you for the company.” She then gives him a pat on the shoulder, before standing up first. She then reaches her hand out, letting him use to it to stand back up.

“Are you certain? I could give you a ride home or cal-”

“I’m fine, Ella, but thank you – again.” He then gives her a quick hug before climbing in the car.

“Text me when you get home so I know that you made it.” He then looks at her surprised. “Sorry Chase, but I worry about you.”  He then lets out a sigh. Perhaps a single text wouldn’t too bad after she had heard him out.

“Deal.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 34

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

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

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

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

However, it was the complete opposite from the truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was JR Motorsports ready to go Cup racing now?

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

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

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

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

But was he ready to pull the plug just yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Good luck with that.”

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

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

Cabin Fears – Chapter 27: The Reunion

Recall from “Chasing The Love” that the current make-up at Hendrick consist of Chase Elliott, Ella Gordon, Genieve Johnson and Cameron Hayley.

Alyssa glanced out of the hauler, seeing all the hustle around the car as various media members took glances, followed by photos, and interviewing the various people around.

“Care if we come see our girl?” Alyssa hears and glances just outside the doors to see Ella Gordon and Genieve Johnson standing there. She simply smiles, giving each of the girls a hug.

“It’s nice to see you both, as well,” she replies with a glance between them.

“You look absolutely amazing considering everything,” Ella compliments her. “When Dad came home and told me everything, I couldn’t believe it at all and felt myself scared for you. But damn, you look just as wonderful as always.”

“Hey, that goes both ways. You still look as beautiful as ever, picking up on those looks from your mom obviously.” Ella chuckles with a slight smile.

“I know that I’m a dear, but you – you’ve been through all that and look just as amazing.”

“You don’t look bad either Chase,” Genieve adds with a glance towards Chase as he stood in the trailer, waiting for the minutes to practice to tick away. “How are you feeling?”

“Still pretty sore at times, but it’s not too bad,” he answers honestly.

“Cameron mentioned to us after the team meeting that he was hoping to see you at some point this weekend to say hi,” Ella mentions, referring to their teammate Cameron Hayley.

“Well when you see him, tell him I wouldn’t mind that and can work at making that happen before the end of the weekend.” Ella smiles, making a mental note of the message.

“So how the heck did you everything approved by NASCAR?” Evie wonders as she glances over at Alyssa, who simply shrugs her shoulders. To her, it was a miracle that they had approved it.

“Go ask Stevie because I have no idea,” she answers, honestly. She still wondered what Steve had told them. “It also didn’t help that the test at Hickory went well.”

“Enough that you could win this weekend?” Alyssa smiled, and hoped that was the case as that was her plan. Confidence seemed to radiate ever since the test and how well it went despite the apprehensions so she was going to ride that all the way to victory lane that night. Besides, she had been strong back in March at Bristol.

“That’s the plan. Just need to do what I know best and make it happen.”

“Just remember to be careful too, okay?” Chase throws in, earning a glance from Alyssa who shakes her head easily.

“Trust me Chase, I’ll be careful and watch too,” she adds as she moves over to him, wrapping an arm around him. “Trust me. I know how to take care of myself and that I am doing the right thing. I also know that I can handle everything else around it. Just trust me. It’ll be fine.” She then leans in and snags a quick kiss as he wraps his arms around her. She knew the reasons for his nerves, as it went everything that had been experienced since what happened. However, she was willing to be patient and handle everything each piece at a time.

“They’re just the most adorable couple in the garage,” Ella comments as she glances towards Genieve. “Even cuter than Brexton (Busch) and Taylor (Hamlin) if you ask me.”

“What about your brother and Elladee (Crafton)?” Genieve questions as Ella shrugs her shoulders. She hadn’t made up her mind on them, yet.

“We’ll see how that goes, to be honest. Although, Karsyn and Ryan aren’t that bad, either.”

“I remember when I heard that Chase and the Dillons played matchmaker to make that happen,” Alyssa interrupts the pair as she leans back against Chase. “I was at first surprised that he and Ty managed to co-operate for that long, but also surprised that those two hadn’t picked up on each other sooner.”

“Karsyn was stubborn in her ways at times,” Chase comments, remembering some of his careful and interesting moments with her. There was a night in particular that they had crossed paths in the garage after one of his hidden meetings with Alyssa that would always stick in his mind. He was glad, though, that things had worked out that everybody seemed happy through this summer thus far.

“She’s still stubborn at times to be honest,” Genieve starts. “I thought Tony was going to have to find a tranquilizer when she went after Brexton a couple weeks ago for that incident.”

“Whose fault was that anyway?” Chase wonders as Genieve shrugs her shoulders.

“I got no idea, but Tony says that it was Brexton’s – but then again, he owns Karsyn’s car so who knows.”

“I called it as one of those1 racing incidents where both did something,” Ella comments, having watched the replay.

“I was wondering where you both ran off,” Cameron interrupts the conversation as he walks over to the group. “Nice to see you both back at the track.”

The group kept trading sentiments and jokes around, which was a nice distraction for the time being for both Chase and Alyssa as they waited for practice. It was nice to catch back up with their fellow track peeps, and hang out for awhile.

Though as he kept his arms tightly wrapped around Alyssa, Chase knew it was just a temporary distraction. There were still a lot of things on both of their minds, emotions to work through especially for him. There was still a tinge of fear and anxiety in simply walking out through the trailer doors into the crowds that surrounded the garage area.  There was also the unsettling fear and worry of possibly being split from Alyssa one day, and she being gone. Even with the laughs spent with his teammates, those thoughts wouldn’t dare try to leave.

His mind was then cut off from thoughts when Kevin Meendering poked his head through the trailer doors, telling Alyssa that it was time to come to the garage area with only 10 minutes till the first practice.

“I’ll see all of you later as I’ll be around all weekend,” Chase lets his teammates know, and following a couple trades all the way around and good luck wishes, the pair was headed out to the garage.

The walk across from the trailer to the garage stall was only five minutes, 10 minutes with the fans that wanted autographs and comments along the way. However, it felt much longer with feelings flip flopping the whole way till they were in the safety of their own spot.

Alyssa reaches the car, taking a glance in, before turning around to face Chase as she leans back against the car.

“This shouldn’t feel odd or strange, but it somehow does,” she starts. “I guess it’s because you’re standing here dressed in no firesuit.” She then takes a deep breath. “I love you, and I’m ready to have some fun.” He smiles as he brings himself right close to her.

“I love you too, and I trust that you’ll be careful while having some fun,” he tells her. “I’ve always been a big believer in your ability behind the wheel, and am now more than ever. I know that you can do it. I believe in you. Good luck, have fun, and go show ‘em what you’re made of.”

“That’s the plan.” She then gives him a quick kiss before facing the car to begin the process of getting ready and climbing in.

The next eight minutes went by quicker than she anticipated with excitement and nerves building as each second passed. With a flick of the fingers from Kevin Meendering, she hit the switch to fire up the car and head out to pit road, ready for her first laps of the weekend.

Taking a deep breath, there was no looking back now. It was time to practice hard to win.

Chasing The Love – Chapter 108: XFINITY Race

It seemed just like a blink of an eye, cup qualifying was over and it was time for the XFINITY event that evening. Alyssa headed to the stage for driver introductions, while Chase stood by her car waiting for her. He had done solidly in qualifying, set to start sixth the next night.

Though he was more focused at this point on Alyssa’s night. With her struggles and disappointment thus far during the day, he hoped that the race worked out in her favor.

“Knowing my son like I do, you already have something worked out for Sunday, right?” he hears and smiles as he glances at his mom, giving her a simple shake of the head yes. It seemed all that everyone wanted to discuss with him was his plans for Alyssa’s birthday.

“The day is all planned out, along with her gift,” he states as Cindy looks at him intrigued.

“Can a mother know what the gift is?” He shrugs his shoulders as he thinks it over. It wasn’t something that he had to keep secret as it wasn’t dirty, but he didn’t want to share details either.

“You’ll find out once she has the gift. I don’t want to tell anybody before hand.” Cindy shakes her head, understanding. She trusted her son’s judgment.

“I hope she loves it, but I have a feeling that she will. You probably also have a special day planned, too.” Chase shakes his head yes, still crossing his fingers that everything went as planned.

“As long as the morning goes well and she listens to her dad, it should work out great.” Cindy smiles as she knew there wouldn’t be any issues about Alyssa listening to her father, in being a daddy’s girl.

“It’ll be fine. Just relax and enjoy it, okay?” He smiles as he watches her head down their way.

“As long as she has a good night on track tonight, that’s all that matters right now.”

While the pair united on pit road, shared a couple of laughs before hanging out the car as she did a couple interviews, a pair of eyes glanced over their way, thinking.

“You’re watching them….” Ella comments out loud, catching her little brother’s attention. “I can tell by your eyes. Are you still missing her?” Leo glances down as he thinks it over. It was hard to explain as it wasn’t the typical feelings that you have after a break-up.

“There’s a small part of me that is still heartbroken, but also part of me that is relieved,” he tries to explain. “It just wasn’t working out how either of us thought it would or wanted. Its better that we did things like we did rather than tried to keep it going and ended up hurting each other worse in the end. I’m also glad that she’s happy and has that connection with Chase. I also know that it’ll come eventually for me.” Ella smiles a little as she glances down towards the pair. She had been on the fence originally about their relationship, but it seemed that Chase and Alyssa went together just like peanut butter and jelly.

“So why are you glancing down at them watching?” Leo takes a deep breath as he thinks it over. It was easy to tell in his mind why he was thinking about her as he couldn’t get their recent conversation out of his mind.

“We had a recent conversation together. She wanted to know why we hadn’t been having those friendly moments together, like friends, like we agreed. I told her that it’s tough right now as I’m still heartbroken a little. I told her that it may get better in time.” He takes another glance down at her before looking at his sister. “I’m debating whether right now is the right time, or whether I should wait.”

“You don’t want to do it too soon and make it hurt worse for yourself. You also don’t want to try to push it incase some part of you is saying that it’ll turn into rekindling the magic once again. Therefore, you should wait until the time is absolutely right. Take another couple of weeks and make sure you’re absolutely comfortable.” Leo shakes his head, knowing that his sister was probably right.

The race that night turned out to be one of those barn-burner events that saw everybody on the edge of their seats, watching the battle in the final 20 laps between Alyssa, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano.

Alyssa entered the final lap running in the second spot behind Joey, having the faster car. It was just about finding the quicker line to get by him. They both took the same line through turns one and two, which allowed her to close the gap down the backstretch.

The pair went into the three and four – Joey taking the bottom, Alyssa taking the top. As they came up off of the corner, Joey came up across her bottom, but she quickly turned the car dead left, going underneath him.

It was a drag race right to the checkered flag, with Alyssa edging him out by a mere purple bumper to snag her third victory of the season.

The team immediately headed to victory lane, with Alyssa joining them after doing a burn-out on the front stretch. She would climb out of the car, arms pumped in the air, with confetti and all sorts of beverages flying every direction on to her.

She then climbed down, big smile on her face, as Chase reached her first, immediately wrapping his arms around her and giving her a kiss.

“That’s how you come back after struggling all day!” He lets out afterwards. “I told you that you had nothing to worry about.” She could only smile in return.

“I guess you were right after all as that car was so fast, I couldn’t believe it,” she offers in response. She then grabs one of the cowboy hats, slipping it on her head. “Looks like you get a little cowgirl to celebrate with tonight.”

“That look fits you, actually.”  He then lets her go as she does her series of post-race interviews for TV and radio. However, he made sure to be right by her side as she went through the motions of the photos on stage afterwards. They also included their favourite usual final photo, as he stood behind her, arms wrapped around her, putting his head on her shoulder. After the photographers were done, Chase pulled out his phone to take a selfie. “I think this is the cutest one to date.”

“That’s what you say every time.” Chase smiles as he goes through, making it his background.

“I absolutely mean it this time, though. You make one very cute cowgirl.” She simply smiles as she twirls around before leaning in for another kiss.

“I guess that means you have to win tomorrow night to match me.” Chase grins as he already had that plan in mind. Texas had treated him well plenty of times in the past, and he wasn’t about to change his ways this year.

“Are you guys done being all flirty so we can go to the Waffle House together?” Ryan questions, catching their attention. The pair smiles as they see Ryan and Karsyn standing there together.

“Are you guys to finally admit that you look cute together and I was right playing cupid?” Chase asks as Ryan just smiles, placing a kiss on Karsyn’s cheek. “Yep, totally adorable.”

“Not as adorable as you though,” Alyssa states. “Are you going to let me get changed first, though?” Ryan thinks it over, shaking his head no as Karsyn and Chase look at him surprised. “Well this’ll be an odd trip to the waffle house.”

“It wouldn’t be the first though.” She shakes her head in agreement.

“You got five minutes girly – no less, no more,” Karsyn agrees as they head back to the motorcoach lot. “Considering that we’re buying since you won, I suggest you agree to those terms.”

“We’ll be ready,” Chase tells her as they split, heading into their motorcoach. Alyssa makes her way to the back, quickly changing, before returning in a t-shirt and jeans. “You’re missing something.” He then places the hat back on her head with a smile.

“Let me guess – I have to wear this hat for the rest of the weekend?” Alyssa asks and Chase simply smiles and shakes his head yes.

“It makes you look so much cuter than you already are.” She then rolls her eyes as the pair head out, meeting up with Ryan and Karsyn.

The night out turned into a fun night, with laughs and jokes as always. As they got done, Chase made a quick trip to the washroom while Karsyn agreed to pay the bill. That left Ryan and Alyssa heading outside first together.

“That move you pulled on Joey was awesome,” Ryan compliments her as she looks over with a smile.

“They always say that you should go where they ain’t and that’s what I did,” she tells him as she thinks over the advice that Cameron gave her. “Can I ask you som-”

“I’m not divulge a single detail about your birthday, not that I know anything.” A smirk forms on her face as she could see right through that. There were obviously plans in place for her birthday from her dad and Chase, and Ryan knew about them.

“Not even a single clue since I kicked your ass tonight?” Ryan laughs and shakes his head no.

“If anything, you should’ve let me win so you could get a clue.” She then looks at him surprised.

“Hell no!” He then laughs as he keeps his eyes on her.

“I’m not telling you, sorry. You’re going to just have to wait and see, but I can promise that you’ll enjoy yourself.” She smiles as she knew that he was right.

Her dad and Chase hadn’t ever steered her in the wrong direction before.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 43: Daytona 500

ShortTrackLovin'

Thanks for reading and reviewing 🙂

Welp…..the Daytona 500 wasn’t a memorable experience for Chase, and that just sucked. There’s a reason why grass doesn’t belong at a race track. But hey, we’re past that right? He had a great run at Atlanta and I have that forth coming for here, as well. But first, we have the biggest race of the year.

 

The previous days of the weekend had played out like a routine of events, one after the other, with repetition written over them. It was just going through the motions, focusing on the task at hand. He got a celebration mode mixed in, via winning the XFINITY race, which was nice to have. Considering how things had been lately with the plane crash and all mixed together, a reason to smile was huge.

Though now, standing in the hauler facing the same mirror that he had become familiar too, today was a totally different day. It wasn’t just another race day, but rather his first career Daytona 500. This was the moment as he had reached the big time. The realization in what was set for this season, that he was making his dreams come true, that he was taking over the famed No. 24 car – it all hit home that morning as he stood there.

While others would be worried of expectations, it brought a smile to his face as he reflected back on everything that he had accomplished through his career to that point. All the hard work and dedication put in through the years was paying off now. He just needed to go out there and do a good job that day.

“Facing some disbelief?” He hears as he watches the hauler door open, glancing over towards his father with a smile.

“It’s really starting to hit what’s about to happen this year,” he sounds off as he glances back at the mirror. “I’m really going to race in the Sprint Cup Series. Everything is coming together crazier than I could’ve dreamed. I’m shocked, but I’m also proud.” Bill couldn’t help but smile in hearing his son’s comments as he made his way over.

“I bet you there’s some nerves there, too.” Chase wanted to shakes his head no and pretend as if that wasn’t the case, but standing there and realizing that he’d be leading the 40-car field to the green flag, there was no way to escape all of the nerves.

“I don’t want to mess up and let everyone down. I don’t want to let myself down. I’m just worried about making a mistake or not making the right move at the right time.” Bill places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“You’re a rookie. You’re going to make mistakes. It’s all about learning and moving forward. But, you don’t need to be worried. You did a great job yesterday in the draft – actually, spectacular job – and you’ve gotten better with each practice. I believe in you, the team believes in you, Rick believes in you. You just need to believe in yourself.” Chase shakes his head, knowing that his father was right.

Following the discussion, he made his way out to pit road, set for the raceday. He wished that he could just hop in the car, let the butterflies immediately escape his body, and focus on the task at hand. However, that wasn’t the case. There were driver introductions, interviews, and VIPs waiting by the car to see him. He just hoped that everything went smoothly, and quickly.

For the most part, everything followed his direction as the interviews went easier than he had anticipated, and driver introductions was actually sort of fun. Before he knew it, he found himself standing on the grid by his No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, counting down the minutes to the start of the Daytona 500. As he stood there thinking, it was all about following the same theory as the day before – make the right moves, and it’ll be an easy day in staying up near the front.

He is snapped out of his thoughts, though, as he notices a pair of familiar faces interacting with the crew guys, joking around and sharing conversation. He could think how odd it probably was for Ella and Leo to be standing on the grid for the first time with their daddy not set to his famed car, but rather Chase drive it.

“Are you going to take care of the car?” He hears, his attention immediately locked on a familiar set of eyes.

“I’m going to do my best to stay out of trouble,” he tells Ella with a smile as he kneels down to her level. She smiles as she walks over to him.

“I think you will do real good and win.” He smiles in response, all the nerves that he felt before escaping immediately. There was nothing more comforting than spending time with sweet children.
“I hope. We’ll have to see what happens, okay?” She shakes her head yes. Chase then glances a little towards the right, noticing Leo standing there, quietly. “Leo…” Leo looks up from his spot, eyes locking on Chase. “Can I have a high-five?” Leo thinks about it, before a big smile forms on his face and he gives Chase a high-five. “Thank you.”

The rest of pre-race went smoothly, with opening ceremonies going as they normally would. Chase stood by the car, an arm wrapped around Sarina’s waist holding her close. It felt nice to have someone to share pit road with pre-race. It felt nice to have someone that he could share every detail of his life with. It felt nice to totally open up without any reservations.

“I love you,” he tells her, giving her a hug following the national anthem.

“I love you too,” she simply tells him before walking away slowly. He then gives each of his parents a hug, before climbing in the car. It was time to do what he was supposed to do.

The race started off great as he was able to lead the first couple of laps, before being passed by his teammate. Still, though, he was able to remain near the front of the field, holding his own. Though, as the same with the Duel, he got in the wrong lane and found himself sliding back to the pack. It was okay. It was part of Daytona. He just needed to work his way back up there.

Consulting with his spotter in what lines were moving, he made the decision to go up through the middle, figuring that he could begin his charge as others had done before him.

Then it happened.

The car felt light, twitched sideways too quickly to catch and went sliding down off of the track. He kept his hands firmly on the steering wheel, knowing that he could steer himself away from the inside wall, go for a slide and be fine.

That didn’t happen accordingly, though. The car ended up hooking, shooting into the infield grass, launching the front off of the ground as it dug in, before landing. The force of hitting the grass caused a pain to shoot up his left side immediately, as he lost his breath in the process.

Sitting in the car once it had come to stop, he closes his eyes, focusing on the breathing techniques that he was taught while his ribs worked at healing, while hoping that the pain would die down fast. He could already see himself sitting in a hospital room, finding out that things were worse than expected, and everybody playing worrywart over his condition and running the race.

“Chase?” He hears Eddie D’Hondt on the radio after a couple seconds. He moves his hand to the button on the steering wheel, pressing it to cue the radio.

“I’m okay,” he assures the team. “I’m okay…”

The pair of simple words gave a sense of relief on the pit box as Sarina let out the breath that she had been holding. As soon as the car hit the grass, she found herself turned into instant worry mode, panicking over his condition. What if he had hurt himself worse? What if the rib injury had made things worse? What if having the concussion after the plane crash presented issues here? It seemed that every theory possible flooded through her mind.

“Can I meet go him at the care center?” She asks with curiosity. She hadn’t been to a race as a girlfriend so she didn’t know procedure, except driers went to the care center to be checked out following a wreck. She could already see it taking time based on Chase’s condition.

“Of course you may,” Alan tells her as he takes his headset off, focus on the young lady sitting beside him. He could see the worry that she felt, and echoed those sentiments as he had his opinions on Chase’s condition entering the weekend already. “I can go with you and lead you there, if you want.” She shakes her head slowly, as Alan glances over at the car chief, who simply shakes his head in response. They knew the deal – start working on making repairs so they could go out and make laps.

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

“Go on…” Alan tells her as they reach the room. She goes around the corner, walking up to Chase and wrapping both arms around him. “She was worried.”

“I’m okay,” he says as he wraps his arms around her, kissing her forehead. He then lets her go, forcing her to look at him in the eyes. “I’m okay. You don’t have anything to worry about.” She shook her head no immediately, knowing otherwise.

“What about your ribs?” He then takes a deep breath, feeling the pain that still remained. He had been worried himself till talking with the doctor.

“Everything is still the same as it was before. It just sent a shock through my system that was emphasized by the injury, causing a lot of pain. However, the doctor says checking me out that everything is still as it was before. I’m okay, Sarina.” She shakes her head, letting those words shake in as the worry slowly escaped.

“I feel so bad for overworrying and freaking an-”

“It’s a natural reaction,” Alan cuts her rambling off from his corner in the small room. “You were worried about him because you care a lot about him. Whether you children want to admit it or not, she loves you a lot and would do anything for you.” Chase had felt that same feeling a couple days prior in their discussion. However, hearing confirmation from his crew chief, it made him feel even better.

“I have no problem with that because I love her a lot, and I would do anything for her in return,” Chase shares, before leaning in and kissing Sarina’s lips. “It’s just convincing this girl to admit it out loud just how much she loves me.” Sarina could only smile in response as she shrugged her shoulders. It was hard to open up and feel that way again. It was hard knowing the pain when those doors were shattered previously. Though, slowly, Chase was leaving her no choice but to accept and open up.

“I guess maybe I do love you a little more than I thought,” she comments as Chase could only smile, despite the pain that he was feeling. There was no amount of pain that could possibly wipe the smile off in hearing those words, even if his precious car was tore up.

Though, the smile did slowly fade away as he found himself thinking more than he probably should be at that moment. He wanted to be happy. He wanted to feel the moment and stick with it. However, he couldn’t stop himself from reflecting back to what happened just a couple weeks prior to them both. What if the plane hadn’t landed like it did? What if they were injured worse? What if…..

Taking a deep breath, giving his head a shake, he knew that he couldn’t let that thought ponder his mind. He just had to keep reminding himself how thankful he was that they had come out decently, and hope to hear news on the sabotager soon.

“Oh, Kendall texted me during the early stages race by the way,” Sabrina starts, catching Chase’s immediate attention as he knew that as she was referring to Kendall Taylor, the FBI agent that was handling their case. “She says that checking all the databases and spreading that photo around of the guy, they were able to identify him. They say that his name is Harry Butler. She was wondering if we’d ever heard of him.” Chase continues to run the name through his brain, trying to place him somewhere, eventually shaking his head no.

“It doesn’t sound familiar to me,” he offers as she shakes her head, accepting. “Do you know a Harry Butler, or any Butler actually?” Sabrina shakes her head no.

“I’ll text Kendall back and tell her that you don’t know of the name. She said that she was going to cross reference it with past gang contacts and NASCAR resources to see if something pops up.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. It seemed like the reasonable next step.

At least they were growing closer to knowing the story behind what happened, through how it was accomplished and why it was done. He just hoped that the answers were released soon.

Chasing The Love – Chapter 103: Advice

Friday

The thought of picking out the perfect gift continued to linger on Chase’s mind as he headed into the following race weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

With the only practice before qualifying complete, he met up with his teammates in the lounge, and it somehow managed to come up as a topic of discussion.

“I’ve always heard it’s best to go with something that’s special,” Cameron Hayley offers from his perspective. “What is something that would mean something between the pair of you? Possibly you could get a certain necklace, or a bracelet.”

“What about those charm bracelets?” Ella suggests as she had always thought they were cute. “You buy the bracelet and then a couple initial charms that mean something to you and her together, like ones that stand for something. Then, as you go forward, you can continue to add to that.” These both seemed like a solid suggestions, and Chase could even picture himself going with the charm bracelet idea. However, the more he thought about Alyssa, she was your tomboy type who didn’t wear a lot of jewelry.

“So I’m going to get jewelry for the girl that doesn’t wear much at all?” He questions as the teammates shrug their shoulders.

“That just seems odd considering that she used to drive us nuts as a kid with that crown,” Karsyn comments, remembering how Alyssa loved dressing up as a princess with her dress and crown.

“That’s the only fancy thing that the girl loves.” Karsyn chuckles and shakes her head in agreement. She certainly had picked up on the lack of jewelry – maybe even jewelry phobia as a whole that her father had. “Okay, so she’s not the dressy girl and more likes to have fun. It seems that she’s always doing these memorable things. What about a way to capture those moments, like a camera? She seems adventurous and getting into photography would be perfect.”

“You could even get a scrapbook kit so that way she can put whatever memorable moments that she captures together in a book,” Cameron adds. “Or you can do up a scrapbook with some memorable photos from through the years of you two together.” Chase shook his head no, immediately, as he wasn’t the creative type and doing that would involve too much creative work. However, the initial thought of a camera and scrapbook kit for Alyssa seemed alright. It seemed right up her alley. He also had to admit that doing up a scrapbook of their special moments together was something he was filing in the back of his mind was a future Valentine ’s Day gift; perhaps he could get creative on that day.

“Camera and scrapbook kit is on the list of ideas,” he offers, making a note on his cellphone. He had come up with a couple other things, though kept asking himself – would she really enjoy the present? Did it fit her perfectly? Was it truly a special gift?

“She seems like she’s busy, lots on her mind – no time for herself,” Ella starts. “What about a spa day? Treat her to a day at the spa getting pampered like no other. I know that would be the perfect gift for me.” Chase had to admit that Ella had a good idea, considering that it would probably help with the other stresses amongst her life. He also wouldn’t mind that himself as things had been a little hectic lately with everything that was going on.

“A spa day together, ending with a special gift – added.” He just wondered if that clashed too much with the idea that he had already put in place with his partner in crime for her actual birthday. Was it really fair to get her to go out twice?

“Are you ever going to decide on something?” Cameron wonders as he glances over the list that Chase has. Chase chuckles and shakes his head no.

“I will probably decide like the day before,” he comments. “I just want it to be perfect and right…and fitting. It’s her 18th birthday. Do you know how special that is? I remember when I turned 18.”

“You’re putting too much pressure on yourself Chase,” Karsyn says. “That girl loves and adores you. She’ll love whatever you do for her. I’m sure whatever else you have planned beyond this gift will be plenty. Just pick something that fits her personality and go with it, and stop fretting over the small details. Besides, don’t you have a race season and Prom planning to already focus on?” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that Karsyn was right in her own ways.

There was already enough going on with the messages between himself, Darrell, Shelby and a couple others in setting up the NASCAR prom. They had decided on the theme (Old Western Town), the location (Dale’s), a date (May during NASCAR time then), so it was just working out the other small minor details to make it perfect.

“You could always pack some of these ideas together into a special gift basket,” Cameron then suggests after going through Chase’s list. “Get a basket and put in a scrapbook kit, some chocolates that she likes, some of this special chai tea that she likes, the art set that you talk about possibly getting her, and perhaps a couple other things, and then tie off with a fancy bow. It’ll go perfect with what you have planned.”

“Planned?” Karsyn and Ella both ask together, intrigued. Cameron had heard pieces of what Chase was thinking for Alyssa’s actual birthday, from start to finish.

“Ummm….”

“What are you planning, Chasey?” Ella wonders and Chase simply smiles from his spot in the corner.

“I’m not telling you,” he states as he stares down at his phone, texting Alyssa. Even though she wasn’t racing that weekend, she was still at the track enjoying some time with everybody. While he was busy in his meeting, she was busy catching up with some truck series drivers.

“Oh come on….”

“We have to see if it actually is birthday approved for a girly,” Karsyn adds as Chase shakes his head no.

“It’s my secret,” he tells them as both girls then turn to Cameron.

“Cammy….”

“It’s Chase’s plans so I’m not saying anything, but it is adorable worthy,” he offers as the girls glance between the guys.

“This is no fun,” Karsyn comments as Ella pulls out her phone.

“I’m not helping you anymore since you’re not playing fair,” she adds as she opens her twitter.

“That’s fine because I have someone to go see,” Chase states as he stands up and heads out of the hauler.

“Now will you tell us?” Cameron shakes his head no as Ella lets out a sigh. “Figures.”

The day quickly moved forward with qualifying taking place later that afternoon. Unfortunately, it hadn’t gone as Chase had wanted with a poor effort, meaning that he’d start near the back on Sunday. While normally that wouldn’t worry him, this was Martinsville and there was something to be said about track position at a short track.

His poor qualifying effort, combined with the fact that the past week had been confessional week for him and Alyssa, reigned on the mind of many people. There were some that wondered whether it was bugging him more than he was letting on. It was something that he quickly denied, stating that they just missed the set-up in practice.

Later on that night, though, he found himself sitting outside on one of the picnic benches, thinking things over.

“I thought you told my dad that there was nothing bugging you,” he hears and glances up, seeing Elsa standing there with her puppy on its leech. He simply rolls his eyes.

“There’s certain things that are grown-up business only,” he tells her as she walks over to him.

“Chase, it’s alright to admit it. Everybody would understand.” Chase glances away from her as she tries to take a peak at the piece of paper in his hand. He quickly snatches the paper up, looking at her surprised. “So there is something…”

“Haven’t you been told to mind your own business a time or two? I thought Alyssa was supposed to kick your ass for this.” Elsa remembered the lecture that she received, and it was fine and dandy at the time. However, this time it was alright to push the boundaries. After all, she was only trying to help.

“It helps to talk about it…” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that better than anyone as it seemed this was a topic that he had talked about on multiple occasions.

“Demi got her release this past week. I wasn’t going to let it bother me because I’m over what hap-”

“It doesn’t seem like it.” He stops and takes a deep breath, eyes focused towards the ground.

“You’re right – it doesn’t seem like it. Seeing the paper, and going to her hearing of the terms of being let go, it brought everything back up. The judge stated everything that she did and reasons for a probation and protection order. It reminded me of all the feelings that I felt.” He then takes a deep breath as he looks up at her. “It’s not necessarily hurting me, or bothering me. It’s just a reminder of what happened and what I’ve been through. I’m just sitting out here reflecting on things. Though to answer your curious question, I’m fine.” Elsa shakes her head, understanding, as she gives him a small smile.

“I’ve heard bits and pieces of what happened to you. Gotta say – you’re a tough son of a bitch.” He then chuckles a little.

“Maybe I am, but I don’t thin-”

“Don’t deny it.” Chase then shakes his head.

“I’m denying it because it’s the truth. I’m not the tough one that it seems. I’ve only gotten to where I am by having the best friends and family possible surrounding me to help me.” He then glances at the puppy, seeing how it’s trying to retreat bac to the mootorcoach lot. “I think someone wants to go to bed and cuddle, and it’s getting past your bed time.”

“You have to be that type of person, huh?” Chase chuckles.

“I’m only looking out for you, Elsa. Listen, I know it can be tough at times being a teenager and I know life doesn’t always give you the best situation. But you have to know that you got it pretty good. You’ve got understanding parents, and a pair of great siblings. Just try and take it a little easier on them and stay out of trouble, okay?” Elsa had to admit that Chase was right, despite her ways. Perhaps it was time to look at growing up a little bit and getting rid of some of her ways.

“I’ll try, okay?” He shakes his head yes with a smile. “By the way, I think you should head back so you can cuddle my dear sister. She’s probably looking for you.” Chase knew that she was right as he stood up off of the picnic bench.

The pair of them then walked back together to the motorcoach lot, sharing a couple things along the way. Elsa brought up some of life’s frustrations – not always getting to go where she wanted due to the family’s busy schedule, people at school being pain in the butts. It was stuff that Chase was used to having gone through himself, and also hearing the same tales from Alyssa. He took his time, as he had done with Alyssa, to give her the advice that he felt she needed.

“Thanks for the talk,” Elsa says as they reach the motorcoaches. “I’ll try to behave, okay?” He shakes his head yes.

“You always know where to find me if you want to talk again,” he offers. “Just because your sister and I are dating doesn’t change the whole babysitter-looking out for you relationship that I have with each of you kids.” She smiles and shakes her head accepting. “Goodnight Elsa.”

“Night Chase.”