Tuesday, September 25 – Charlotte, North Carolina
The girls were spread out through the store, looking through racks of dresses. Per the recommendation of Samantha, this was the second store to check out possible bridesmaid dresses.
“Have you heard anything from Chase today?” Lindsay asks as she holds up one of the dresses she liked on the rack.
Sarina wanted to keep the wedding as simple as possible, so the only specification was the ladies had to choose dresses that were light blue in color to match the theme. Other than that, it was up to them in their full discretion as to what they wanted to go with. Chase had kept it simple for the guys, too, requesting black pants with a white or blue shirt; whether you chose to tuck that in was your choice.
“He says he’s happy once again,” Sarina offers. “He’s got speed at Kansas and feels confident about their chances there in October.”
“Did you get him any tips?” Samantha asks, remembering Sarina’s win from May there.
“He knows what he’s doing, Sam.” Sam just smiles as she holds up a dress.
“Is this too much, or just perfect?” Sarina glances over, giving a thumbs up of approval as a yawn escapes her lips. She knew Samantha would look good in it, while not being over the top either. “Tired?”
“A little…” Samantha nods her head, accepting, knowing it was the par for the course. She glances around, making sure the other girls were invested in what they were looking at.
“You’ll find a balance as you go through the weeks in how much sleep you need and the baby needs. Just make sure to not push it, okay?” Sarina nods her head, accepting.
“I was already planning on taking a nap when we got back to the house.” Samantha wraps an arm around her shoulders.
“And just think, someone will home tonight to cuddle…” Sarina smiles, knowing exactly who she meant with that comment.
As the afternoon carried on, various dresses were tried on by everybody, with thoughts being shared as each look was displayed. Eventually, everybody had a dress chosen and purchased for the wedding in January.
The ladies decided to cap off the afternoon by going out for desert before heading home.
“Oh, Jimmie says congratulations Sarina,” Chandra speaks up as she keeps an eye on Lydia with her ice cream. The comment caught a couple odd glances around the table, with Lindsay and Samantha wondering if the news had been shared. It’d even caught Sarina off guard a little, though a smile formed on her face shortly after.
“Seriously?” Morgan then asks, increasing the intrigue from Samantha. “Christopher and you are racing against each other next year?” Sarina chuckles, nodding her head as Morgan wraps both arms around her for a hug. Samantha could only let out a sigh in realizing the news.
“Moving over to JGR?” Emma questions and Sarina shakes her head no.
“JR Motorsports XFINITY full-time,” Sarina clarifies everything, earning a couple more surprising glances around the table.
“I told Ryan that the rumor was true!!” Lindsay lets out, though feels a bit of confusion set in at the same time.
“Looks like Dale snagged another one of your superstars,” Morgan comments, as William Byron was the first of those to drive for KBM and then move to JRM in XFINITY.
“Recall that William drove late models for JRM first, though,” Sarina clarifies, as she texts Lindsay back in explaining the plan that was in place with her pregnancy after the glance of confusion.
“So you drive for Chase, head over to Busch, and then return back to the family you began with…” Chandra traces the steps as Sarina nods her head with a smile.
“I couldn’t turn down the opportunity when Kelley offered it to me. They have great cars, and I know I can drive in that series. I’m ready to go win some races next year.” Chandra then holds her milkshake up, having chosen to get that over a sundae.
“Here’s to a successful season down the road after a spectacular wedding.” Sarina nods her head in agreement, hoping that a smooth pregnancy was in the midst of that, too.
Wednesday, September 26 – Samantha’s Bundle of Joy Fundraiser
Sarina looks in the mirror, fixing her ponytail once again, before the shifting the dress over a bit.
“Need any help?” She hears as a head pops into the bathroom and she shakes her head no. “By the way, you look absolutely amazing.” She then turns to face him, almost biting her lip as she had to admit he looked great dressed up for that night.
“You don’t look so bad yourself,” she replies, before kissing his lips. She then grabs her klutch off the counter, following him as they head for the door and out of the house.
Climbing in the Tahoe, it was only a short drive over to Kyle Busch Motorsports. However, Sarina’s eyes found their way back to her phone as she looked over the series of text messages from earlier that morning once again. Sarina felt it was fair to let Chase know everything going on, but she also didn’t want to put more on his plate with the nerves over Alison’s escape.
“Are you okay?” Chase asks, reaching over to place his hand on her lap as they sat at the stop light. He could tell by how quiet and invested in her phone she was that something was off. It also fit how quiet she had been since getting home today.
“Shelley texted me this morning,” Sarina reveals, causing Chase to instantly roll his eyes. “She wanted to know if I’d be willing to meet up with her alone without you.”
“Seriously?” Sarina nods her head as she looks back down at her phone once again. “If I’m being honest, I’m not totally comfortable with you guys meeting up alone. Call me paranoid, but I don’t feel right with her due to everything that happened. I would personally make sure you have someone with you at all times.”
“Your feelings are understandable after everything that we’ve been through…” Sarina knew the comment wasn’t just coming from the Shelley situation, but the fact that Alison was walking around undetected by anybody as of yet. It had clearly brought reminders back of everything they’d been through. “I’m not afraid of her, Chase, as I don’t think there’s anything she could do to hur-”
“Do we really need to be taking chances, though?” She then lets out a sigh.
“I was going to add that to give you peace of mind, I wasn’t going to agree to a meeting with just her and I together. besides, the reason she wants to meet without you is a little ridiculous.” Chase was caught off-guard by the comment, almost wanting to look over in surprise but knew his eyes belonged on the road before them. “She feels that you’re being over-controlling, running my decisions and forcing the hand of what happened when she met up with us.”
“Have you ever let someone run your life before?” Sarina shakes her head no with a smile, knowing her own strength always shown through. “I couldn’t even do that if I tried. I mean, I may have come off stron-”
“Chase, I’m not saying that I agree with her or am thinking that she’s anywhere near right. Besides, I agree with how you came off and I would’ve told her the exact same thing with or without you there. You don’t need to prove yourself or worth about it to me.” Chase felt confident in that, himself, as he remembered the anger Sarina displayed after one of her phone calls with Shelley.
“So, what are you going to do then?” Sarina’s eyes find their way back to the phone as she takes a deep breath.
“I don’t need any other stress or worries right now with the baby, or with Alison running around. So I am going to do what I should’ve done a long time ago.” She then hits delete on the messages, before blocking the number. “She can’t communicate with me ever again..”
“Are you absolutely certain with what you did?” Sarina nods her head yes as they park in the parking lot.
They both climb out of the Tahoe, with Sarina giving her dress one final fix. They both then headed inside, Chase wrapping an arm around her shoulders as they make their way through the front lobby.
“Thank you for coming and supporting the event,” Samantha says as she walks over, offering them both a hug. “I appreciate you showing up probably more than you realize.”
“Everything that you’re doing and the strength you continue to show no matter what is amazing,” Chase compliments her, earning a smile back in return. “It’d feel wrong to not support you and Kyle after what you’ve done for us.”
“Besides, we know what it’s like for these couples,” Sarina adds as she glances around the room. “We’ve been there in the room hearing the news of a miscarriage. We’ve been there hearing the news that we cannot carry a baby.” She then instinctively places a hand on her stomach. “We’re also taking a chance of our own even after hearing that news, knowing the worries and nerves about what could happen.”
“Like I tell all of my couples, I truthfully deep down hope you get the blessing you both deserve,” Samantha says quietly so nobody else can hear. “And you have me for anything that you need, or any questions you have to ask.” She then offers another hug to the pair, before walking off to meet with others.
“Seeing the strength of everybody here, wanting to give them signs of hope, encouragement…” Sarina takes a deep breath as she leans back against Chase. “It almost makes me want to spill everything about my story here and now.”
“It’s up to you as alwa-” Chase starts, earning a glance in return.
“You’re the baby’s father, in both situations,” Sarina states. “It’s your call, too, Chase.” Chase wraps his arms around her, holding her close.
“If you want to tell the world, feel you have the strength to, and feel it’ll help, then I’ll support you the entire time.” He then kisses her cheek. “I’ll always be here to support you. I love you.” He then leans in and kisses her lips this time.
“I love you, too.” She then takes a deep breath as she glances around once again. “Maybe when we reveal the news in December, or maybe when the baby is born.” Chase nods his head, accepting. Truthfully, he could use the time to mull over the decision as he wasn’t quite sure if he was ready for everybody to know about the miscarriage, and the fall-out that’d come from that.
The couple couldn’t help but sit back in joy that evening. It was nice meeting the families that Samantha and Kyle had been able to help so far, and spend time with the kids that had born as a result. It gave them hope that everything was going to work out for them.
They also couldn’t help but smile, with Sarina almost crying, as three new couples found out that they’d be the next ones to receive the grant and begin their journey. It reminded Sarina of the initial joys she experienced in feeling her pregnancy, and realizing the steps that she was going to take.
The auction also raised a bunch of new funds for the charity, with Chase and Sarina ultimately bidding on some items and taking them home for a good cause.
As everything finished up that night, Chase and Sarina headed out to leave, passing by Kyle and Samantha with Chase slipping them a piece of paper.
“Keep doing what you’re doing,” he says quietly, giving them each a hug before walking away. Kyle was confused at first, but unfolded it, his jaw dropping as he looked up.
“Chase?!?” Kyle lets out as Samantha looks over his shoulder, her own jaw dropping in seeing the cheque that he had written for them.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done,” Samantha reads the note that was attached. “You’ve done more than you realize to help both Sarina and I, and we wouldn’t been able to get to this point without you guys. Let this go to good use, anonymously.” Samantha then looks up as she watches the couple walk out the front door. “She certainly found someone special in him.”
“I just hope it works out for them….” Samantha nods her head in agreement, as Kyle puts the note and cheque away, going back to hugging everybody as they left.
Friday, September 28 – Charlotte Motor Speedway
“Whose great idea was it to make this oval into a roval?” Chase questions as he walks through the garage area with Sarina in toe.
“The great people who run this track along with NASCAR,” Sarina offers the matter of fact answer as Chase glances over. “Seriously, what’s the big deal? You know how to run a road cours-”
“This doesn’t drive like no regular road course. I’d actually rather run anywhere than here for an elimination race based on testing.” She then lets out a sigh, placing a hand on his shoulder. It was clear that the fact they were closer to the cut-off line then they hoped with the issues at Las Vegas was plaguing his mind.
“You’ll be fine. Just do your thing and #di9 hard.” She then places a quick kiss on his cheek before letting him go as he walks through the garage stall to where the crew was standing.
“Alan told me to hide this, but it was by the No. 9 hauler this morning,” Josh says before walking away as he hands over an envelope to Chase. Chase only glances towards the crew chief a little, before looking back down at the envelope in hand.
“I probably don’t want to know what this is….” Chase muses as Alan walks over, looking him straight in the eyes. He then snatches the envelope out of his hand, tossing it on the shelf behind him.
“We both know that she’s loose, so you can guess that she dropped the note off,” Alan starts. “We know what her goal was always with the notes – to mess with your mind and thoughts. She would twist her words in whatever way possible to get your attention and make you think, double think, and question everything about you and yourself. It’s how she’d tear you down so she could make her move. I didn’t want Josh to give it to you because I care about you, and I didn’t need you thinking about what she said in that envelope.”
“So I’m just not supposed to care that she has once again been able to deliver me a note in a place where there’s supposedly security?” Alan lets out a sigh, not surprised by the defiance.
“I’m just saying don’t give her the power to twist your thoughts. We know the note is here. We’ve reported it to NASCAR and security. They promised me they’ll up their game for around us to keep watch on people, especially looking for someone of her identity. An official is also supposed to stop by and pick it up for evidence purposes, as well.” Chase didn’t feel confident in the steps taken, remembering everything that happened the last time that they supposedly had it under control.
“Whatever, I’ve got a practice to run and a track to figure out….” He then walks by the crew chief, making sure everything was in place in the car for the first practice coming up.
Each of his moves were being watched from the outside, as Alison just shook her head at the crew chief’s actions.
“It’s too bad that Alan wouldn’t let you see what you wanted to see,” she muses to herself before walking away, blending back in once again with the crowd. The crew chief’s move just meant that she’d have to change her game a little.
Chase couldn’t believe what he was seeing as he glanced up at the monitor. He had managed to escape making any mistakes during the full practice session, keeping the No. 9 on the tarmac. As a bonus, he was eighth quickest on the speed chart.
Perhaps the anxiety he was having about the event previously was pre-mature.
However, his mind was still wandering elsewhere as he couldn’t help but wonder what the note had said. He wondered if it built on what she had written him the last time, or whether she had taken a new approach. He wondered if maybe it laid the ground work or clue for what she was planning this time.
She was capable of murder. She proved that with the doctor being found dead. What if she was ready to kill? What if there was a clue about her next victim?
She was on the property and hadn’t been spotted yet. She was able to sneak around multiple tracks previously undetected for months on end. What if she popped up unsuspected when he wasn’t expecting it?
Taking a deep breath, he knew he couldn’t let his mind be consumed by those thoughts. He had to do whatever it took to protect his family – Sarina, and the baby – along with the crew guys as they’d done everything for him the first time around. It was getting mixed in her game that had been his downfall the first time, as she played every card perfectly. this time, she wasn’t winning as he held the Ace and he was ready to win.