The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 192: Advance Auto Parts Clash

Sunday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway

Chase helps the crew guys push the car up the grid, before standing by the back it. He then smiles as he watches Jimmie Johnson come over to him out of the sea of teammates.

“So which one of us is going to be the pole sitter this year?” Jimmie questions as they look up at the scoreboard.

Hendrick Motorsports had swept the first round of Daytona 500 qualifying, with Alex first followed by William, Chase, and then Jimmie. While it wasn’t surprising given they had swept the past four poles for the Daytona 500, Chase was actually admittedly caught off-guard by the Hendrick Motorsports presence. It was much better than watching his teammates up in the top-five last year with him eighth.

“Well I’ve done it twice, so I am going to have to say me,” Chase answers, knowing it was the obvious answer but what else did Jimmie expect?

“Didn’t your Momma teach you how to share?” Jimmie asks, causing Chase to chuckle back in response.

“See, that’s why you haven’t won lately as you’ve been sharing too much.” Jimmie was actually taken back by the response, surprised it was now his own teammate picking on him for the lack of wins. “But really, I think the pole is mine. I have the experience of doing it, and I deserve it for Abigail.”

“Oh, so now you’re going to play on our sympathy for your baby to get your way?” Chase just gives him a wink as Jimmie shakes his head in disbelief. “See, the way I see it is that you should feel bad that I haven’t gotten any wins lately, and give me a gift.”

“Well if that was the case, shouldn’t the gift go to Bowman? He was the quickest of us four the first round, and he won the pole last year.” Jimmie shakes his head no. “Of course you’d go with Byron if we’re picking teammates as he has Chad.”

“We’ve seen Chad work his magic down here before.” A smirk forms on Chase’s face as Jimmie was making the game way too easy today.

“Right as I do recall something about rear windows.” Jimmie lets out a sigh, still shaking his head in disbelief at the span of events that season. He admittedly was surprised when the appeals board overturned the suspension for both Chad and Ron after that happened.

“Hey, that’s a better thing to be said that you got caught cheating for than a lousy piece of tape.” Chase glanced down right away, not even wanting to relieve that moment back in the summer. How could they get caught cheating with a simple piece of tape? “Seriously, though, how is Abigail?”

“She’s doing good. The doctors are happy with her progress, and feel that maybe by the end of the week we may have the chance to hold her. Could you imagine if Sarina and I won Daytona, and then got to go home and hold her? I don’t think you’d ever wipe the smile off of our faces.” Jimmie had to begin chuckling right away, but admittedly wouldn’t complain if that happened as he knew Chase and Sarina deserved every bit of happiness they desired.

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, but I am glad that she is getting to that point. Word of advice – don’t waste a single moment. They grow up quicker than you realize.” Chase knew that, hence savoring every single moment last night before flying back today for qualifying and the Clash.

“I can’t believe she’s a week old already. I don’t know what I’ll believe when we get into months, and years..” Jimmie smiles as it was happiness aura of the baby looked good on Chase.

The second round of qualifying would go just as smoothly, with Hendrick Motorsports sweeping the top-four once again. This time, it was William scoring the pole – as Jimmie predicted, ahead of Alex, Jimmie, and then Chase.

While he had hoped to be on the front row to eliminate the unpredictability of the Duels – and the chance of a wreck, he also couldn’t complain as this set him up to lead the second duel to green alongside Alex.

Now they just needed to repeat the same exact process that they did last year, both of them.

“Cool deal,” he admitted while speaking with the media afterwards. “Everybody knows qualifying down here is such a reflection upon the work over the off season and luckily, I know a lot of organizations don’t, but I feel like Hendrick Motorsports has always put a lot of effort into our speedway cars and why not? I mean, they all count and why not try for these things too. I know some people don’t like to, but we are trying to push in all areas and this is a good way to get started.”

Chase makes his way down pit road, knowing it was only a matter of time before the Clash was set to begin. Thankfully, another firesuit change session had gone smoothly as scheduled.

With Sarina back home in Georgia, Chase had already done the liberty of sharing pre-race text messages with her, just like they would do for the races they didn’t run at the same track. It was the same usual conversation they’d have on the grid if they were together, but unfortunately didn’t always give the same comfort as holding each other.

Though as he made his way to the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet, he couldn’t help but gush in seeing Ryan on pit road.

“Who knew you’d look like a natural holding a baby,” he comments as he walks up to him. “But that’s not your little girl.” Ryan smiles, nodding his head. He then glances over at Lindsay, who stood not far from him with Evelyn in her arms.

“I want to show Louie that I am going to be the best uncle ever,” Ryan replies, as Chase glances at the little face in total awe.

“I may be partial, but I have to say that Louie is the second cutest with Abigail at the top.” Ryan then gives him a look, knowing he had purposely laid it out that way in forgetting to include Evelyn.

“Could you imagine if Louie and Abigail got together?” Erin questions, earning an immediate shocked expression from Chase as Emma starts shaking her head no right away.

“Abigail isn’t allowed to date until she’s like 20, maybe 25 anyway,” Chase adds, which caused both Erin and Emma to burst out laughing. “What?”

“Ryan told is the same thing about Evelyn. We told him that Emma and me the same thing, and look what happened. Actually, Emma said that she’d never let him date ever, and well, next thing he’s a daddy.” Erin places a hand on Chase’s shoulder. “I’m sorry bud, but no matter what you do, your little girl is going to grow up and find a boy that loves her.”

“Maybe it’ll be Brexton,” Ryan comments as Chase lets out a sigh. It wasn’t the first time he had the comment with others referencing that due to Sarina’s friendship with Samantha. “Actually, I almost want Brexton to end up with Lydia. Could you see the look from Jimmie?”

“Speaking of Valentine’s Day….” Chase says quietly, earning a look immediately from Ryan. However, Chase had watched how loud he made the comment, not wanting to draw the attention of Lindsay as she chatted away with some of the crew guys.

“We don’t need to talk about it, Chase. I have it under control.” Emma and Erin then trade a glance, almost worried as to what was to come next in their lives.

“Is there something we should know, Ryan?” Emma questions, earning an immediate eye roll in response. Chase caught it, now understanding why Ryan hadn’t wanted the day mentioned.

“I want to go over some ideas with you afterwards that I had for Sarina and get your thoughts,” Chase tried to cover for what had happened, in hopes that Ryan would play around and the girls wouldn’t notice.

“Why would you go to him for love advice?” Chase glances over at Emma, glad that she was buying it.

“Because I have done it before with good results. Despite your attempts, he is a lover’s boy…” Chase then walks away, knowing that’d draw enough fun for Ryan and not wanting to put his foot in his mouth.

However, that didn’t mean he was dropping the topic as he’d be asking Ryan about it when they got some time.

Sunday, February 10 – Dawsonville, Georgia

“Is this real life?” Sarina hears, glancing over at Brittney a little confused. “Are we really watching this race together?” Sarina had to chuckle as she knew the reference right away, remembering where their first days spent together.

“Trust me – I was about to ask myself the same thing,” Sarina replies with a laugh.

“I mean, actually, I’m even surprised that I am watching.” Now it was Sarina’s turn to really look surprised. “Don’t get me wrong – I love my dad, and I love Chase, but racing isn’t my cup of tea so to speak. So I’d always only tune into the big races, or something significant like Chase’s championship night in XFINITY. Their love of flying wore off on me, but certainly not that.”

“Well, maybe we’ll make a fan out of you by the time Speedweeks is over….” Sarina then takes a deep breath, hoping her words played true as that was much better than the alternative.

“You’re nervous – but I get that because of the nature of restrictor plate racing at Daytona and Talladega. Cindy even says that she got a little more nervous at times.” Sarina slowly nods her head, surprised by the Cindy confession as she’d never saw that side of Cindy.

“I’m fine any other week, except for these two tracks. Then I am the worst bucket of nerves. I almost feel bad for Jordan when he has to watch me, so sorry in advance.” Brittney wraps an arm around her.

“It’s okay. We can handle this together.” Sarina could only chuckle in response, hoping that Chase didn’t kill her nerves completely.

“Ugh of course we’d get rain,” Sarina comments with a sigh as the caution flies for rain on the track just 10 laps into the event.

She was hoping that the race would go smoothly, and quickly, so she could get back to Abigail. It’d also mean that Chase would be home at a decent hour as he was supposed to fly home once done the event.

“So what happens now?” Brittney wonders as the cars begin to head down pit road on the TV screen before her.

“We wait,” Sarina replies as she glances over. “We wait, and we wait, and we wait. Once the rain stops, we’ll go racing. If it rains all day, we’ll race tonight. If it rains tonight, NASCAR still won’t call it early, making you sit your ass here and wait, and then run tomorrow.” Brittney chuckles at the response, as she loads the radar on her tablet.

“The good news is that the shower doesn’t look like it’ll be long…” Sarina now looks over, actually intrigued. Maybe it was helpful having Brittney there to watch the race with her for more than general nerves. “Maybe 20 minutes maximum as it’s just a small one. However, the fear is what lies behind it. There is more rain to come, some in blotches, but then a big huge blob that is yellow in parts meaning it’ll be long and a lot.”

“So in other words, we may only be able to race until the halfway point?” Brittney slowly nods her head. “Great….” That only increased her nerves as she knew weather made things crazier as her eyes focus back on the TV. “Better hope Alan and Eddie are watching that so Chase makes the move before the rain hits.”

“Shall we call and warn them?” Sarina had to chuckle, though already knew that Tom probably had the radar loaded on the computer screen on the pit box. She then watches the camera focus to the No. 9 car, seeing Alan standing by with the wedge wrench. “I thought you weren’t supposed to make adjustments to the racecar under red.”

“You aren’t supposed to normally…” Brittney then points to the screen, as the crew members turn the wedge adjustment bar.

“That’s an adjustment from what I know. So what’s the penalty since this isn’t allowed?” Sarina had to chuckle as she looks over.

“You aren’t supposed to….normally…” Brittney then freezes, catching the repetition of words.

Sunday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway

“Is he seriously doing what I think he’s doing?” Chase questions, as the crew members nod their heads.

“You said that the car was dragging a bit so he’s adjusting heights,” Tom Gray summarizes as Chase nods his head. He remembered stating those adjustments. He figured that they’d head down pit road when the event went back to caution – not make them right now under the red flag.

“NASCAR rules state that you’re not supposed to work on the car under the red flag.” Tom then smiles, having noticed the odd glances from others. Even some of their own team members had originally questioned things when Alan walked over with Josh.

“You are correct – for points races.” Chase then glances over, intrigued. “If you read the rule book closely, you will notice that you are allowed to work on the car under the red flag for a non-points event. The rule was changed a few years ago in relation more so to the All-Star race and not here. Obviously, that occurred following the 2001 All-Star event wher-”

“They allowed Jeff Gordon, and the others who wrecked to bring out their back-up cars due to the accident being for rain.” Chase then looks back towards pit road, where Alan stood by the car with the official. “Once again, he’s reading between the lines. I’m impressed.”

“Let’s just hope that everybody else feels as good about it as you do.” Chase chuckles, having noticed some of the odd glances as well.

Sunday, February 10 – Dawsonville, Georgia

As Brittney stated, it was a short while before they were back on track and the racing resumed. Not much movement in the field occurred, though, with the only real shuffling happening once the drivers pit road. Unfortunately, Chase was unable to make up as much ground as he hoped.

Also as predicted, there was more rain as another red flag was displayed.

“Woah, half about wrecked…” they hear over the radio transmission as Sarina had loaded the NASCAR.com Raceday app to listen to Chase’s audio in the background.

“That caution took way too long to come out,” Brittney summarizes, seeing on television some of the windshields from the rain.

“Welcome to NASCAR and their desperation to get the rain in,” Sarina comments. “Even Jimmie was pissed about it. Someone tweeted that he said, ‘Who the fuck is on the switch up there? It’s fucking pouring!’”

“I don’t blame his panicking at all. Glad that Chase was able to hold onto that thing.”  Sarina looks over with a pure grin.

“Chase has talent, sweetheart…” Brittney couldn’t help but agree with Sarina’s assessment.

The race would get back going once again, and unfortunately did not go as the ladies would’ve hoped. Jimmie went to make a move on Paul Menard for the lead, making contact in the process that wrecked all of the cars in the race except three. Chase, unfortunately, was one of the drivers involved. The race was then called shortly thereafter for rain, with Chase scored sixth in the final rundown.

“I like Jimmie as he’s great personality wise and he can get the job done behind the wheel any day,” Sarina starts as she sends a text message to Chase. “But let me tell you something – that boy cannot restrictor plate race to save his damn life! He has no clue on judgment of space as he always is causing wrecks on these tracks.”

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 164: “Something old, new, borrowed, and blue….”

Friday, January 4 – Dawsonville, Georgia- 25 weeks pregnant

With everything that happened, Brittney flew Jimmie back up to Colorado, picking up Sarina to bring her back down to Georgia so she could be with Chase. Bill had suggested the trip option, knowing that Chase needed his girl, and the familiar surroundings of home would help. Besides, the wedding was near too.

“Are you okay?” Sarina asks as she sits down beside him on the bed.

The night had gone quietly with Sarina offering her cuddles in support, just being there as Chase ranged from talking about his feelings at one point to just wanting to lay together and watch Netflix. She didn’t care, as long as they were together and safe, as there was never a complaint in watching Alison be locked away finally.

“Yeah,” Chase nods his head as he looks over at her. “Thank you for spending last night with me and just being here.” He reaches over and squeezes her hand. “It means a lot to me.”

“I’d do it all over again, Chase. I love you, and I care about you. I worry just as much about you as you worry about me. That’s why I’m telling you that you don’t need to thank me. I’d do it again…” She then leans in and lightly kisses his lips. “Are you sure you’re okay, though?”

“Yeah.” He then takes a deep breath as he lays back on the bed. “It’s just a shock to think about everything being over just like that. You go through a whole year of watching your back, almost afraid to look over your shoulder some days, and going through a range of emotions that you weren’t even thought possible.” He takes another deep breath, keeping himself calm. “And just like that, a swarm of officers, the click of handcuffs, and it’s over. She’s locked away in maximum security without a chance of being able to hurt me – us, again.”

“That’s why I’m telling you, just like I told you last night, I’m here for you. Don’t be afraid to tell me how you’re feeling, or just drop a bombshell of emotions on me. I’m here for you, okay?” Chase nods his head, accepting it. “I was thinking. If you wanted, we could postpone the wedd-”

“Excuse me?” She then takes her own deep breath, knowing this conversation would not go smoothly.

“I’m just saying if you wanted to postpon-”

“No, we don’t need to do that – unless you’re getting cold feet or nerves.” She had to laugh at that now, given her initial reactions to the thought of marriage back when he initially proposed to her.

“Absolutely not. I’ve wanted to marry you since the very beginning immediately. Heck, I would’ve hitched on the plane and gone to Vegas if it meant being Mrs. Elliott sooner.” He had to chuckle at that response, too. “I guess I can wait two more days, though. But really, if need be, I could wait longer. I just don’t want to dive into it when you’re dealing with something else if you’re not in the right frame of mind to get married.”

“I can promise you when we’re standing at the altar that day, the only thing on my mind is going to be you, and calling you my wife for the rest of my life.” He then sits back up so they were looking right into each other’s eyes again. “I was ready to get married while she was running around. I wasn’t afraid of her showing up, trying to spoil the day, or ruining the moment. All I could think about was you. Now that she’s gone, that’s all I can still think about when it comes to our wedding. Me, you, us together forever, and that sweet little baby on the way.”

“So you’re absolutely certain that on Sunday, you’ll be ready for whatever comes with the wedding?” He nods his head. “Alright then, it’s settled. I just didn’t want to force you to do something you didn’t want.”

“I’ll be standing there waiting – as long as you promise to walk down that aisle.” She smiles, as she thinks over the magic of that happening.

“This is one of the times that I wish my dad was here. He would’ve loved you and you guys would’ve got along so well. I could see so many things that you could talk about together, and enjoy. I also know that I would’ve liked to have his hand to hold.” Chase reaches over, squeezing her hand.

“He also would’ve been proud of the lady you’ve become, and how much you’ve grown. You’re amazing, Sarina, and never let anyone tell you different.” He then leans in and give her another kiss.

“You keep kissing me like that and we won’t be leaving this bedsroom today.” He laughs as he looks across his childhood room at the poster on the wall.

“I don’t think I can do that with Jeff staring at us.” Sarina then follows his glance, seeing the poster of Jeff Gordon with a chuckle.

“That’d be a little strange…..”

Sunday, January 6 – Mooresville, North Carolina – 26 weeks pregnant

The girls walk into the room, immediately surrounding around Sarina as she looks in the mirror at herself. She had just spent the past hour with the make-up artist and tailor, getting everything situated perfectly for the day.

“You look stunning,” Samantha comments as she places her hands on Sarina’s shoulder.

“Do you think it’s too much?” Sarina questions and Samantha shakes her head.

“Today is your day to shine. You can’t even begin to go overboard. You look amazing.” Samantha gives her a quick kiss on the cheek.

“You look like a princess!” Lydia lets out as she runs in, flopping down on the chair.

“Lydia, be careful!” Chandra yells as she follows her in. “You’re going to ruin your hair and dress.” She then lets out a sigh as he finally catches up with her. “Do you know what it’s like watching a little rascal run around and trying to keep her looking perfect?”

“I think boys are tougher when it comes to that department,” Samantha comments. “Brex was trying to jump in a puddle on their way today while wearing his new dress shoes.”

“Save me now…” Emma lets out, earning a couple chuckles around the room.

“Do you think I am a couple years away from those days?” Lindsay asks as she holds Evelyn in her arms.

“Just wait until you get the big explosive poop on a new dress,” Chandra answers, remembering the first of those that she experienced.

“Now with every wedding, you must have something new, something old, something borrowed, and something blue,” Cindy says as she walks over to the circle of ladies around Sarina. “The first of those two items are something that I took the liberty of handling.

“You didn’t hav-” Sarina starts as Cindy shakes her head to protest.

“Do not even begin to argue, sweetheart, as it’s not going to get you anywhere. You’re part of the family, and these gifts show my appreciation for how much you mean to my son.” Sarina smiles as Cindy hands her the first of two boxes.

“The sweetness of your son, and the time that we get to spend together, and how much he means to me is enough. Though beyond that, your advice and help at times means a lot, too. I’m glad that we were able to find this common ground and be friends.” Cindy had to chuckle as she remembered the attempts of throwing Sarina out of Chase’s life in each trip to the hospital.

“Just be glad that he’s stubborn and didn’t listen to his mama for once.” Sarina nods her head, accepting, as she unwraps the first gift. It was the something ‘new’ as they were a pair of snowflake earrings. “You always are wearing that snowball necklace that Chase gave you for your anniversary…”

“The snowball derby is where we officially agreed to be a couple…” Cindy nods her head, remembering when Chase passed along the news. That was when she insisted that Chase and Sarina come over for dinner.

“I thought the snowflake earrings would be a perfect match, and the blue tint goes with your wedding theme.” Sarina nods her head, accepting, as she pulls one of them out of the box.

“They’re amazing, Cindy. I love the sparkle that they have.” She then looks over at her. “Thank you.”

“Let me help you sweetheart,” Samantha offers, taking the box from her as she puts them both on her. “They fit you perfectly.”

“I’ve never been a big fan of earrings, but I could get used to wearing these regularly,” Sarina comments. “Thank you.” Cindy then hands her the second gift, which Sarina opens.

“That bracelet has been in my family for years. It was given to grandmother as a gift from my grandfather. My grandmother then gifted it to my mom, in which she gifted it to me. She made me promise that one day when my first born got married, they would have the gift for their wedding day. It’s a family tradition and heirloom.” Cindy takes a deep breath. “I remember those days that I protested everything about you, and I just wanted Chase to see things my way. I remember the pleads that I made to Chase, as well as trying to make you see how you didn’t fit in. In those days, I hated this tradition. I was so regretting the thought of giving it to you. However, today, I can officially say that I am proud of the tradition and I can’t wait to see you wear it with pride and honor. I can’t wait to have you, Sarina, as my daughter-in-law. The only thing you must promise is that you share it with your first-born when they get married.” Sarina nods her head, accepting.

“Absolutely, and just like the earrings, it’s stunning. Obviously your grandfather had great taste.” Cindy nods her head, as she slowly lifts it out of the box.

“It’s amazing to think after all these years, it still goes with any fashion style that you can wear. But seeing the blue pearls, it’s fitting for you today.” Cindy then puts it on Sarina’s wrist, as she looks it over.

“just dashing…” Emma comments, earning a smile in return from Sarina.

“Now for something borrowed….” Cindy starts as Lindsay stands up, handing Evelyn over to Morgan.

“Are you getting babysitting practice already?” Sarina asks as she looks over at her with a smile.

“I got to learn, right?” Morgan offers, and Sarina nods her head in response. It was just another thing to add to her theory about the future that was in store for Christopher and Morgan.

“This is for you to borrow, today,” Lindsay states, catching Sarina’s attention as she hands her a small box. “I feel even more special about giving it to you after hearing everybody’s words.”

“Knowing you, it’ll be special,” Sarina replies, before opening the box to reveal a locket.

“I heard that your dress has a pocket for hiding snacks, but now you can hide something even more special…” Sarina nods her head, wiping the small tear that had already come to her eyes. “Do you remember?”

“That was the locket that my dad gave you as a gift for Christmas one year. He told you to put something in it that meant a lot to you, so you’d always have it close to you.” Sarina opens the locket, remembering Lindsay had put a photo of them together on one side, along with a photo of Lindsay’s parents on the other side.

“I told you last week that your father was proud of you, and he’s always looking down on you. I told you about how much he loved and adored his sweet dear Chelsy. I figured it’d be perfect for you have to a piece of Victor with you today.” Sarina nods her head as she wipes the tears away from her eyes immediately, hoping not to mess up the make-up in the process.

“It’s perfect. Thank you, Lindsay.” Sarina then gives her a hug, before placing the locket in her pocket. “Obviously I have something blue with my bracelet and earrings.”

“Then what are we waiting for?” Morgan asks. “Let’s get you married!”

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Samantha adds, and Sarina nods her head. “You can tell your girls if you’re having any last minute nerves or worri-”

“Trust me, Samantha, I’m ready,” Sarina answers as she takes a deep breath. “I’ve been waiting for this day since the proposal.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 159: Flying Around

Saturday, December 29 – Phoenix, Arizona

Chase takes one glance over at Sarina, noticing the nerves written all of her face immediately.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” He questions and she nods her head as she returns the glance.

“We need to get to the bottom of this, and she may be the only way how,” Sarina answers as Chase lets out a sigh. He wasn’t about to argue about that as this certainly had gone on long enough. However, he also wasn’t ready to push these boundaries either.

“As long as you’re certain that you can han-”

“What are you trying to say, Chase?” Chase takes a deep breath, cursing his wording immediately. However, it didn’t seem there was any way he could win in these situations.

“I just don’t want you overstressing or worrying while pregnant, and causing complications. I know you’re strong and can handle yourself, however, I also know the emotions involved. I don’t need something happening because of that. My worry is just for you, and the baby – that’s all.” She nods her head, having grown used to it already over the past several weeks. However, that didn’t mean it got easier listening to and letting sink in as she wasn’t about to let someone tell her she couldn’t handle something.

“I’ll be fine.”

Sarina walks through the doors with Chase right behind her, stepping up to the desk before them. It didn’t take long before the pair were ushered through to the meeting room, and seated accordingly.

“What do you hope to accomplish from this meeting?” They were asked as Sarina kept her eyes focused forward.

“Any information that I can gather,” she answered, earning a nod in return.

“Anything you can accomplish would be great as she hasn’t been very forthcoming since the arrest.” Sarina nods her head, having kept track of the situation for any possible updates. “For right now, she is charged with kidnapping you, conspiracy with Alison to numerous crimes in which we know we haven’t even finalized the list yet, and obstruction of justice for withholding information.”

“As long as it means that she can’t harm me, my baby, or Lindsay, I don’t care…”

Their eyes focus to the doorway as they watch Shelley walk in, eying them immediately. It had been a month and a week since the last time they had seen each other, and Shelley was actually surprised to see how much Sarina had grown since.

“You told me that I had visitors and they were family,” Shelley begins as she looks back over at the officer. “This isn’t no family of mine.”

“I’m your niece, remember?” Sarina questions, not willing to fall into the non-family trap as she had many times before.

“You may be by blood, but I could care less about that connection given how you’ve treated, alienated, and pretended as though we didn’t exist.” Sarina takes a deep breath, still having regrets for the decisions that she had made through the years.

“I had to do what I had to do at the time to protect myself from the danger that was there. Otherwise, I would’ve ended up just like my parents. I sure hope that’s not what you would’ve wished for.” Shelley almost wished for it at times given the events that had transpired since.

“And what about your dear ‘ol brother?” Sarina lets out another sigh, having been through that road too many times to count already.

“I did what I could to try and help him, and unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Sometimes people can’t be saved.” Sarina glances down at the table, as she takes a deep breath. “I hate it as much as you do sometimes, Shelley. I loved my brother. I loved the time that we spent together. I loved the bond that we shared as children. I would do whatever possible to get that back again. That’s why I forgave him for actions that never deserved a chance, and that’s why I put him first beyond anything at a time to do what I could. I tried, and unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. It’s a burden that I carry with me every day.”

“Right, while you live your perfect dream life as a successful racecar driver living with this superstar and spoiled by those around you, while he rots away in a cell.” Sarina’s eyes never left the table, as Chase began to rub her back, seeing as how Shelley was already finding her way underneath her skin. “Cat got your tongue?”

“I see you’ve taken lessons from Alison on manipulation,” Chase offers, not even wanting to entertain the previous discussion. They had entered the room with a goal in mind and he intended on doing what he could about that. “I heard that you revealed anything that Alison shared about her possible plans with myself. I also heard that you revealed a list of locations for the police to begin searching. Obviously, you know that they’ve come up with nothing so far. We’re hoping that maybe you knew more.”

“Do you really think that I am going to help you?” Shelley questions and Chase nods his head. He knew it was a stretch, but he was willing to try anything at this point.

“As the police have told you, it’d help the case against you in bringing someone of Alison’s nature to justice.” Chase also knew how to play with Shelley’s heart, just like she had played Alison. “You also mentioned how you cared about family, and I’m sure that includes Lindsay. Alison sent out a baby rattle yesterday, addressed to each person close to myself and Sarina, including Lindsay. She made a point to me that decisions will determine anything, which basically means that if she even feels I am not playing her game, Lindsay is in dang-”

“Lying to me isn’t going to get what you want, Chase.” Chase pulls his phone out his pocket, revealing the text that Ryan had sent, as he places the phone on the table.

“My momma always told me to tell the truth.” He watches as Shelley looks over the image that was attached. “Perhaps not for me and Sarina, but for the sake of Lindsay and your great niece or nephew, you’d be willing to offer the missing details.” He watches Shelley place the phone back on the table as she looks back up into his eyes. “This has gone on way too long, and you know it yourself that she has stepped over the line. Who kidnaps and threatens a pregnant woman? Better yet, who forces someone to have sexual conduct when they don’t want to?”

“I don’t have any sympathy for you and what she’s put you through, as you’re well deserving of it for how you’ve helped this one masquerade around.” Chase swallows the lump in his throat that threatened to lash out in anger for the comment, via a mix of his own emotions and those feelings in relation to Sarina. How had Shelley gone this far?

“I’m not asking for sympathy. I’m asking for inform-”

“No, you’re playing on my sympathy for my family in hopes that I will help you catch the girl that is currently making your life a living nightmare. You know, I actually hoped that she’d accomplish everything she wanted and more so that you’d break up.” Chase had to laugh in response.

“Actually, it’s brought us closer together as we’ve been able to comfort each other and help each other through this.” Shelley cursed that immediately, but still felt her own sympathy for Lindsay overpowering that.

“I wish I knew more information, to be honest. I can tell you completely that I gave the police every single location that I had met her or seen her or dealt with in some plan. I also gave them any contact that I had in which she had spoken with to do something. I gave them my entire notebook. I also offered a view into her thought process. I’ve done what I can. I wish I could do more – not for you but for Lindsay, but I can’t. I don’t know anymore and she won’t trust me as a bai-”

“I read her letter clearly in the weeks after.” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks over at Sarina. “Well, I guess this trip is a bust.”

“It was worth a try,” Sarina comments before standing up and pushing in her chair. “It was nice to see you, Ms. Shelley. I hope you enjoy what a prison cell looks like. Maybe it can lighten your heart so you can grow some sympathy.” She then walks out of the room with Chase directly behind her.

As they walk out of the building and climb into the rental car, their gaze catches each others.

“Are you okay?” Chase asks, which Sarina knew was coming before he even said it.

“I’m used to it by now,” Sarina answers. “Nobody in my family understands how I felt when I was that lost 16-year-old girl, full of fear in that the same fate would be met for me. Nobody understands what it’s like to have to fight for survival, shove every trust that you have, and watch your back despite someone maybe trying to reach out and help you. That’s why whenever they hear my story, they lash out and think that I’m wrong for not doing what they wan-”

“You did nothing wron-”

“I know, Chase. Hence why I said that I’m used to it.” She then takes a deep breath, before looking over. “However, I’ve grown from that. I’ve learned to accept the decisions that I made. I’ve learned that there wasn’t anything that I could do. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to let your barrier go….” She then reaches over and clutches his hand “…and trust someone openly, sharing your story and feelings. Not everybody is out to do you harm, and you can be loved, and you feel pain in knowing that it can be comforted. That all began with you, and I thank you every day.”

“You don’t need to thank me, as I’ve told you before.” She nods her head, knowing this wasn’t the first time they had discussed this.

“I know, but I can’t help it. You pushed my boundaries harder than anyone had from when I put them up, and you didn’t shed away when I pushed back. Instead, you stayed there until you broke them. And when you broke them, you didn’t run when all the signs were there. Instead, you worked at putting them back together and helping me. I never would’ve gotten to where I am anywhere in life – whether the ability to grow at KBM and be close with Kyle or Sam, or be a mother and be caring – without you.” She then leans in and lightly kisses his lips. “You’re amazing, Chase, and I’m glad to call you mine.”

“I’m glad that I pushed those weeks because I can tell you that it’s been worth it every minute ever since. I wouldn’t change a thing.”  She had to chuckle.

“I doubt that, actually.” He looks over, a little surprised. “What? I mean, I would’ve changed crashing a plane into a field with you.”

“But that fight we had afterwards, and the way we were able to find our way back to each other taught us trust, loyalty, patience, and showed us how much we love each other.” She then lets out a sigh.

“Is there any way to win an argument with you?” He chuckles, shaking his head no. “Fine. I say we get out of here and head home. I bet you that’s something you can’t argue with.”

“Nope…” He then starts up the car, driving out of the parking lot to head back to the airport.

Saturday, December 29 – West Virginia

The pair would never make their way back to North Carolina, but instead making the flight from Arizona to West Virginia. A simple phone call with a quick message from Emma Blaney changed everything as they both knew they wanted to be there.

“Did everything go smoothly?” Chase asks as they now sat in the waiting room at the hospital.

“The doctors says that both baby and momma are doing well,” Emma answers, earning smiles in return from the couple. “We were playing Monopoly and a cry of ‘my water broke’ ended that game early.”

“That baby knew it was time to come out and stop a fight from breaking out,” Erin adds, earning a couple chuckles around the room.  “Let’s just say that Emma owned a yellow property, Lindsay owned another, and the girls were fighting for the third to see who would have the better trading up hand later.”

“For once you’re actually innocent,” Chase comments, earning a smack in return from Erin.

“The ambulance showed up before the contractions got too bad – although I thought Ryan was going to faint at one point,” Emma continues, earning a chuckle from Chase. “Keep chuckling there; I can’t wait to see your reaction when she’s ready to give birth. But anyways, they got her here and two hours later, we got news of a baby being born.”

“Did they tell you the gender?” Sarina questions, and Emma shakes her head no.

“Ryan said he and Lindsay wanted to reveal that together when we came in to see the baby and momma.” Sarina smiles, as it was nice to know all of the surprises weren’t quite spoiled yet. “I heard Momma wanted a girl since I’m having a boy.”

“Did you guys find our your gender yet?” Erin wonders and Chase and Sarina shake their heads no, having stuck to the surprise route thus far.

“I’m pretty certain it’s a girl, though,” Chase adds, earning an intriguing glance from the Blaney sisters. “It just feels like it in some weird way…”

“Cale thought I was having a girl until the reveal at the wedding so you never know,” Emma comments.

“I can’t believe all three of you are due within a couple months of each other,” Erin offers. “There must’ve been something in the water…”

“He said, “I’ve been where you’ve been before, down every hallway’s a slamming door, no way out, no one to come and save me, wasting a life that the Good Lord gave me….” Erin rolls her eyes as she recognized the song immediately.

“Then somebody said what I’m saying to you,” Sarina continues, singing the Carrie Underwood song. “Opened my eyes and told me the truth.”

“They said, “Just a little faith, it’ll all get better,” the girls begin to sing together. “So I followed that preacher man down to the river….”

“Anybody want to see a baby?” Ryan’s voice interrupts as they all freeze immediately.

“Thank you from saving me from their singing,” Chase comments, earning a small slap from each of them. “Ouch!”

Chase and Sarina, accompanied by the Blaney sisters, make their way down the short hallway to the room. They then follow Ryan inside as he leans them over to the bed, where Lindsay laid holding her baby.

“We’d like to introduce you to Evelyn Lou Blaney,” Lindsay says as everyone gathers around to take a closer look.

“It’s fitting that her middle name is Lou,” Erin comments, knowing how much Ryan admired his grandpa.

“She’s adorable,” Sarina comments.

“Congratulations,” Chase adds, as he wraps an arm around Ryan’s shoulders. “She’s perfect.”

“Better than perfect, better than I could’ve imagined,” Ryan adds as he fixes her little hat.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 121: Bundle of Joy, and Fears

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.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 101: Pocono 400

Saturday July 28, 2018 – Pocono Raceway

Chase makes his way into her room, walking over as he immediately lets her clasp his hand.

“You didn’t need to come,” she offers as he shakes his head back in response. He knew the second practice wouldn’t have gone as planned without a visit.

“I was worried about you after Tyler told me what happened,” he replies as she sits up a little in the bed.

“I didn’t really pass out like they all claim, okay? I leaned up against the wall because….okay, I was tired and when I leaned against the wall, Tyler asked me if I was okay. I was slow responding so he got Rudy’s attention and next thing, I’m here.”

“Dehydrated again?” She slowly nods her head as she glances up at the IV.

“They ran a couple more tests or whatever to make sure it’s stomach virus and nothing something else – like pregnant, or food poisoning. Everything came back clean so we’re stuck with it being a torturous stream and my body barely able to handle it.” He brushes the small bit of hair out of her face.

“That’s because you’re not following what everybody told you, and focusing on yourself. You should’ve been in bed still, catching up on sleep, sipping Gatorades, looking after yourself. Let this weekend go…” She then lets out a sigh as she glances down at the bed.

“I guess I have no choice now, huh? Doctors won’t clear me due to the incident as they’re worried about my hydration levels and conce-”

“I don’t blame them, as I would be as well.” She then looks over at him.

“I can handle driving while I’m sick. It seems nobody understands how strong I am.” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks into her eyes.

“Don’t ever let anybody question your strength. We all know how strong you are, how hard you push, how determined you feel. We also know your limits, and today is one of those. NASCAR has given you a waiver so take it, embrace it, and let yourself get better. You always tell me to take care of myself. Well, now I’m telling you to do the same.”

“But I know I have a winning truck for today. You saw how quick we were in practi-”

“You’ll have many more chances to win races this year, next year, and for many years to come. But you need to weather this storm first, so it’s time to focus on you and get better.” He then kisses her forehead. “Did they say how long you have to stay for?”

“They want to make sure my hydration levels are steady, that I can keep the fluids somewhat in my system, and I’m not feeling faint anymore. I think I have a room reserved for the afternoon, unfortunately.” Chase then glances down at the chair, shifting a little.

“Then I guess I have a seat reserved here for the afterno-”

“Uhh, you have a final practice to run so I suggest you get your ass out there and run it.” He then looks at her surprised. “What? Don’t let my sickness change your schedule. I can take plenty care of myself here while you go make circles. If I’m giving up my damn weekend, then you better have a car underneath you that can win tomorrow. Besides, a trophy would be a nice get well present.” Chase couldn’t help but smile.

“I’ll do the best that I can, but I can’t make any promises.” She nods her head, accepting, as it was better than nothing. That said, she knew how strong Hendrick Motorsports was at Pocono, and she knew that the No. 9 team had been on a upswing so her chances looked good. “I love you, and I hope you feel. I hate to see you sick.”

“I hate being sick. I get sick looking at my own vomit.” He shakes his head as he knew that wasn’t a pretty sight.

“You’ll be feeling better soon….” He gives her one final kiss before heading off for final practice, as she had instructed him to do so.

Chase climbs out of the car, following the final practice run of the day, before walking over to the crew chief.

“Better or worse?” Alan questions as he looks over at his driver.

“About the same?” Chase replies back as Alan lets out a sigh. He could only glance at the board and see they were 10th on the speed chart for the second session in a row.

“The good news is we’re consistent so we should be fine on the long runs tomorrow. The bad news is that we’re still not where we need to be to find that next step and run in the top-five.” Chase nods his head in agreement as Alan thinks it over. “I could try something for time trials, but then it may not work. Whatever we do for qualifying, we have to leave in the for the race.”

“So what if we leave it, start the race solidly, and go from there?” Alan nods his head, accepting, as it seemed like a decent plan.

“Alright, it’s settled. You can go back to taking care of your girl – as long as you don’t get sick on me.” Chase places a hand on Alan’s shoulder.

“Trust me, I’m fine.” Alan glances over at him with a small smile.

“It’s been a while since you could say that and I would absolutely believe you. Keep doing what you’re doing, kid.” Alan then walks away notes in hand as Chase makes his way out of the garage, back to the care center to see Sarina.

Thankfully rehydrated with some more fluids, Sarina was released from the care center, with Chase taking her back to the motorcoach immediately. The pair curled up together, taking in the truck race on the TV there despite Sarina’s pleas to go sit on the pit box.

The race only made the afternoon harder for her to handle as Erik Jones drove her truck from last in the field to sixth by the end of the first stage, before battling the rest of the race with Kyle for the win. Ultimately, the boss won, though, with Erik in second.

Cup qualifying was set to follow, and once again Sarina expressed the want to join Chase out on pit road. However, finally beginning to realize just how sick she was, she settled in under the blankets with a couple Gatorade bottles on the night table as he headed out for the session.

The plan to go with a solid set-up to not mess up things allowed them to lock down the 11th starting spot for the race tomorrow. It wasn’t spectacular, but certainly they could work with it.

Sunday July 29, 2018 – Pocono Raceway

“Thank you for spending the race with me,” Sarina says as she pulls the blanket even more snuggly around herself, trying to get comfortable and settled in. it was going to be odd to be at the track with Chase, yet watching the race from the motorcoach rather than the pit box.

“Are you kidding me?!?” Lindsay asks immediately as she looks over. “I wasn’t going to make you suffer watching this alone.” Sarina then returns the gaze back to her best friend.

“I just don’t want you to get sick with that little one…” Lindsay glances down at her own stomach, seeing at it was ever-growing, giving it a little rub.

“That’s why we’re not real close to each other. Besides, Ryan is already a little overprotective.” Sarina couldn’t help but chuckle as they each got comfortable on the couches.

The race started off solidly as Chase immediately made his way forward to the front.

“Stage winner,” Eddie D’Hondt says over the radio at the end of the first stage. While watching the race broadcast, Sarina had loaded NASCAR.com’s raceview so she could listen to Chase’s audio. It wouldn’t be the same watching a race otherwise. “Good work, bud. Two weeks in a row. I’m starting to like this.” She couldn’t help but agree with the spotter as the success was great to see.

The second stage started off just as strongly with Chase running up front throughout, but ultimately crossing the finish line in second behind Kevin Harvick.

“He backs up pretty much every corner, gets to the bottom, and stays there,” Alan reports over the radio which Sarina had to agree via what she saw on the screen before her. “(He) has a lot of grip in his car.”

“The grip meter is an understatement – that’s for sure,” Chase replies, earning a nod of approval from both Sarina and Lindsay.

“He makes a pretty wide arc off of the wall,” Eddie adds in as well as Sarina simply smiles.

Following the final round of pit stops, Chase continued to run up front, running as high as third before fading back a bit.

“Holy shit!!” Lindsay lets out as the No. 43 Chevrolet of Darrell Wallace slams the wall.

“Fuck!” Sarina adds as they both sit there stunned. The nerves stayed until the window net came down on the car, with Bubba climbing out shortly after to the sigh of relief.

“That was insane!” Sarina nods her head in agreement.

“If there’s a track that I never want to lose my brakes going into a corner, it’s here because the result is just insanity beyond other tracks it seems. Look at Gordon’s wreck a couple years ago!”

The girls settle in for the final run to the checkered, watching as Chase drops back to fifth. He would then make a big save down the backstretch – which caused Sarina to jump out of her skin a little – before crossing the line in seventh when it was said and done.

“I don’t even know why some race tracks seem to be more suitable for what we have, and some don’t,” Chase tells the media afterwards. “We think we’re better as a whole, but I think we still have some work to do.”

Tuesday July 31, 2018 – Pocono Raceway

Chase smiles as he walks over to Cale and Emma, giving them each a hug.

“Congratulations,” he tells them both after the ceremony. “Make sure you take care of her.”

“You don’t have to worry about that,” Cale offers as he wraps an arm around Emma’s shoulders.

“I also bet that you’re having a boy.” Emma just smiles back in return as she glances up at Cale.

“That’s what I told him, but he told me otherwise. We’ll see when we reveal it later.” She then glances around, before focusing back on Chase. “Where’s Sarina?”

“She’s at home,” Chase answers. “She was still not feeling all the way better yet so she told me that she was skipping the wedding, but sends her blessings.” Emma nods her head, accepting, already forming another theory in her head.

“She also trying to avoid seeing Erin?” Chase glances over to where Erin was talking with someone, before looking back at Emma.

“They talked at Eldora and things are straightened ou-”

“I also talked to my sister Chase, and I know her honest opinion of Sarina as of right now.” Chase bit his lip, knowing that probably didn’t come out smoothly.

“Emma, I know as she told me, but Sarina has no idea. Her skipping the wedding has nothing to do with that, I promise you.” Emma wanted to simply believe him to make things simple, but couldn’t quite do that.

“It doesn’t matter to me either way as this is my night – well, Cale’s too, and we’re set to celebrate our love with those who are close to us. But know that I don’t take lightly to people playing around with my sister’s fee-”

“The kiss was a total accide-”

“I don’t care the circumstances, reasons, whatever. Just remember what I told you. I will kick your ass if I have to. Just ask Ryan.” Emma then walks away as Cale glances between the pair surprised.

“I’m going to say that’s the pregnancy hormones kicking in,” Cale offers as Chase just grins a little.

“I’d like to believe you there, but I’ve known her a long time to know better,” Chase comments as he places a hand on Cale’s shoulder. “You found a gem in her, and I’m happy for you. Don’t screw it up.”

Chase then walks away, set to go find Ryan and Lindsay as he promised he’d catch up with them both.

The rest of the night ultimately would go smoothly, capping off with the gender reveal and Chase guessed it right as Emma and Cale were expecting a boy.

“Try topping that reveal,” Chase offers as he glances over at Ryan and Lindsay.

“We actually talked about waiting until she has the baby to see what it is,” Ryan comments as Chase looks over surprised.

“Are you sure your sisters are going to let you away with that? I’d expect them to want to know so they can shop and spoil the baby, and plan the baby shower.” Ryan chuckles as he had heard rumblings from both already about those plans.

“They have Emma’s boy to spoil. That should keep them occupied for awhile.”

Friday August 3, 2018 – Watkin’s Glen International

“What are you looking at?” Chase questions as the pair of them relax in the transporter together.

“White flowers, or light blue flowers?” She asks as she flips between the images.

“Light blue. The snow will have so much white that you want something to compliment it.” She then looks over surprised as he puts his arm around her. “You learn those things doing photo shoots. Are you almost done planning for the wedding?”

“Venue, decorations, and now flowers – I say guest list and then finding the perfect dress.” He smiles as he looks into her eyes.

“I don’t care what you wear as you’ll look beautiful no matter what.” He then leans in, lightly kissing her lips. “Guest list – close friends and family only. That should be easy..”

“I just hope that things go smoothly when it comes to that.” She then sets her phone down. “I heard from Lindsay that Emma wasn’t pleased that I wasn’t there, blaming it on Eri-”

“I talked to Emma about it, and whether she agreed or not, who knows. But she knows from me that you were sick and she saw it on the weekend. She’s just set to let it go.” Sarina lets out a chuckle.

“Chase, I haven’t known them as long as you know, but I know how protective Emma can be from Lindsay.” Chase lets out a sigh.

“So Emma threatened to kick my ass should something else happen – that’s normal. Like you told me last week, there’s nothing to worry about because we love each other.” He then intertwines his fingers with hers. “Nobody is going to change that, ever.”

“I know…” She then lays her head against him. “Even if the fans want to start rumors and little hashtag battles.”

“Hashtag battles?” She then picks her phone back up, going into Twitter as she loads a poll. “Sarell or Charina? We have a couple hashtag now?” She chuckles, nodding her head. “I guess Sarase didn’t sound as good. Did you vote?”

“Uh no, I don’t want them to realize I’m stalking their crazy asses.” He then laughs as he glances through some of the tweets. “But you have to admit, there’s some entertaining stuff in there….”

“You certainly have gathered a following.” He then hands the phone back to her.

“It still surprises me, sometimes. I still can’t believe my decision to go down main street and grab a drink when we landed because I wanted to go to my favorite smoothie shop since I had been missing it resulted in paparazzi.” She then pulls up the photo they took. “Like, that’s insane. You don’t even have that unless you’re downtown New York.”

“At least they took an adorable photo of you…” She then shakes her head. “But I also heard they were in town due to Ariana Grande or something, so maybe they mistook you at first. Not that I could understand why because you’re so much more beautiful.”

“Careful Chase, too much of the flirting and we may get distracted. I have practice soon….” Chase nods his head, remembering as he rubs her shoulders. With the trucks being off, she had decided to run the K&N Series race to get some more road course experience.

“Are you sure you’re feeling up to it?” She then glances back at him surprised.

“Are you going to be overprotective for the months to come because of one sick weekend?”

“Someone has to take care of you…” He then kisses her cheek, causing her to turn back and face him, with their lips meeting together.

“We take care of each other, always….” She then wraps her arms around him as their lips find each other’s once again, with his hands slipping underneath the back of her shirt. “Chas-”

“You need to get changed anyway….”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 159: Alabama 500

Sunday October 15 – Talladega Superspeedway

Sarina let out a sigh as she relaxed on the couch, flipping through a random magazine. She didn’t even know why she was awake that early, or still in the motorcoach. However, that’s where she was while Chase was off doing a series of appearances for the sponsors.

She flipped through her latest book of choice – just because it was the next in the stack, glancing over the pages without paying much attention. Though as a page came across her view, she froze immediately. It was an advertisement about NASCAR Champion’s Week festivities coming up next month – no surprise, really. However, the date caught her off-guard.

“November 30? That don’t make sense,” she comments to herself as she grabs her phone. The Cup Series banquet was always on a Saturday and she was certain that date was December 2, having made a note already in her phone due to Snowball Derby qualifying. Double checking the date, she hadn’t gone wrong. “Maybe they made an error…..”

She then opens up Google, typing in “NASCAR Cup Series Banquet 2017” in hopes of finding some sort of results to match her theory. Instead, she was caught off-guard completely. The magazine was right, as one of the first initial searches detailed how NASCAR had changed the date from a Saturday to a Thursday to make the Vegas week shorter on teams.

A smile immediately came across her face – that meant she could go to the banquet, and then head down to Florida for the Snowball Derby weekend festivities. Maybe even Chase could join her down there, too.

The smile left right away, though, as panic set in. She hadn’t planned on the banquet. She hadn’t planned on having to get shoes, her hair done that week, ready – she hadn’t even thought about dresses. What was she going to wear?

Remembering Ryan’s advice, she immediately dialed Emma’s number, in hopes of some answers.

“Well, the good news is you have a whole month to figure that out,” Emma offered after hearing Sarina’s panic story. “We already finalized your truck series dress options down to five different styles – each white in nature, but slightly different. I’m sure we can figure out something for you to wear as you accompany Chase just as well. I mean, he’s not a fancy guy nor would he be too upset by any choice you make so we can make this work. Give me some details you’re thinking….”

“Well, I don’t mean to be typical but let’s keep matching sponsors and go with blue,” Sarina starts, knowing it’d match with NAPA perfectly. “But not as dark a blue as they have – something lighter. I also want to go with something long, flowing, almost like a princess but not quite there. Oh, and not form fitting either. Does this make sense?” Emma laughs as she makes some notes, also including a citation to tell Chase he needed a blue highlight on his tux if he wanted to follow that rule of matching.

“Hey, it gives me somewhere to start with – if anything. Shoulders or no shoulders?” Sarina thought it over. It was her night to look sexy though, right?

“Spaghetti strap, please. I don’t like strapless for fear of falling off – but I don’t want something too thick.”

“Got it. I will look into what I know from some designers, and shoot you some ideas later on this week. Just take a deep breath, and relax. We got this – even if both you and Chase can’t remember that they switched the date. Hey, don’t go telling him that you realized. Let it be a surprise for when he does figure it out.” Sarina smiles, knowing his reaction would probably be priceless.

“Deal. Thank you. I guess Ryan was right after all….” Emma laughs.

“My brother isn’t so bad….”

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

Sarina wished she was back in the comfort of the motorcoach, relaxing, not having a single care in the world; she’d even take banquet dress worrying over this.

Instead, she sat on top of the 24 pit box, fingers crossed, legs crossed, trying to cross her toes, just hoping for a calm day at Talladega. After the drama that track had delivered in April, she wasn’t looking for a repeat.

Everything started out smoothly as Chase kept himself up front after starting second, staying in the midst of the lead pack while avoiding taking any chances. However, that all changed when it was time for pit stops.

As cars began to peel off for their stops with the stage coming to an end, chaos ensued with contact, followed by cars going every which way. She held her breath as she watched Chase avoid the chaos, darting down pit road as it broke apart behind him.

The 24 team did their stop as scheduled – cleanly, might she add – before he headed out, set to rejoin the pack. It all seemed to be going perfectly…..

“We’re going to have to restart tail of the longest line here,” Alan tells them, after getting word from NASCAR. “They say we pitted after pit road was closed.” Sarina could only let out a sigh. Sure, they had pitted – but how could anybody tell that NASCAR just randomly decided to flick the light from green to red due to a wreck? This also meant that he’d be back in the middle of the eye of the storm. “They need to move that line and light back so you can see it better in turn three. There’s no way that you would know.”

“It crossed my mind,” Chase replies back over the radio. “I thought about trying to get out but it was too late when I saw them wrecking.” Taking a deep breath, it was better safe than sorry – even if it meant there’d be nervous times once they got back going.

“Okay, so come on down now and we’ll get the left side tires so we’ll be penalized for doing the best job that we can.” Sarina had to chuckle at Alan’s approach to handling the chaos at hand.

Hey, least they’d have four new tires compared to some only having two.

Despite her nerves shot up a couple places, Chase was able to hold his ground quite well, and work his way back towards the front of the field into the top-10, getting up to six as the stage was set to come to a close. Another round of stops began, though, and the same chaos ensued, this time involving Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray. Taking a sigh of relief, she was just glad they had avoided trouble so far.

“If we get in a position where we have to pit under green, don’t put yourself in harm’s way,” Alan advises. “Just take another lap.” Sarina couldn’t help but agree as it was about surviving, scoring as many points as possible, and getting to the next round today.

The third and final stage started, and as he had all day, Chase was right in the mix of the battle for the lead. Though with each move he made, it just seemed to not come together. As the caution flew for debris with the laps counting down, she hoped the reset would present the perfect opportunity.

“We will get this,” Eddie D’Hondt encouraged. “We just haven’t found the right dance partner.” She couldn’t help but agree, but saw potential in those starting around him.

Her breath caught in her throat as they went back green, knowing the action was about to pick up with the race nearing its conclusion. She found herself in a mix of nerves, with some cheers even escaping her lips, as everything began to came together. The search for a dance partner came out to be complete, in the form of Ryan Blaney, as the pair went back and forth for the lead with the Penske teammates. It was also a calming sensation seeing that No. 24 Chevrolet lead laps, as he was ahead of both wrecks that took place behind them removing multiple cars.

Taking a deep breath under the latest caution, she knew the intensity was set to ramp up and it was now or never. She just hoped Chase made the right moves.

She watched the shuffle on the restart, seeing Chase just behind the leaders. Down the backstretch with 12 to go, her eyes focused on the television monitor before her. Her breath then hitched in her throat as she watched Joey Logano and Daniel Suarez battle side-by-side for the lead, with Chase diving from the top lane behind them to the bottom to go by them both entering the third turn, before sliding back up to the top to hold the momentum.

“Holy shit!” She let out in disbelief, placing her hand on her chest. “That was damn sexy! Hot damn! But damn, Chase, don’t be doing that to me….”

She hoped that he could just simply stay ahead of them, no more challenges for the lead, just a smooth sailing from here to the end.

That wasn’t meant to be, though, as she watched Joey get a run, followed by Chase getting shuffled back to fourth with eight laps to go. Taking a deep breath, she partially just wanted the race to be over so nerves could return to normal, but she also felt herself on the edge, fingers crossed, knowing what could happen today – finally.

“Come on Chase!” She lets out, hoping it all came together.

With six laps to go down the back and entering turn three, the opportunity to make a move came up. A hole opened up between Kyle Larson and Daniel as they battled for the lead, and Chase had the momentum. He immediately shot for the gap, though before anybody could realize – that hole closed, contact happened. Sarina immediately wanted to throw up, panic, cry, scream as she watched the No. 24 Chevrolet shoot from the bottom of the track to the top, making contact with the outside turn three wall.

“Oh shit!” She lets out as she feels arms wrap around her from behind, glancing over her shoulder to see they belonged to Jordan Allen, who was rubbing her shoulders. “Oh gosh….”

“Breathe, relax….” Jordan encourages as he continues to rub her shoulders. “You heard the radio transmission…” She nods her head, having heard him say the words that he was ‘okay.’

“I can’t believe this…” She tried to take a couple deep breathes, and relax, but the sudden angle of impact, the speed, and seeing the crumpled up car, she was beyond disbelief.

“He’s okay…” Jordan then slowly stands up, holding out a hand for her to grab hold. She grabs it, slowly standing herself. “I’ll walk you back so you can see him….” She simply nods her head, following Jordan’s lead, going through the motions without questions.

She carefully climbs down the ladder from the pit box, glancing at one of the team’s televisions screens in the process. She watches him slowly get out from where the car stopped in turn four, slowly walking down the banking. She takes a couple more deep breaths, saying a couple silent prayers of thanks, before following Jordan’s lead quietly.

The entire walk to the infield care center was quiet as she didn’t know what to say; she almost felt numb in that moment. The wait for the ambulance to come back, followed by them checking him over felt like it was going on forever – even if it was just a span of perhaps 15 to 20 minutes.

After feeling like an eternity had passed, she watches the doors open and he walks out, instantly walking over to her, wrapping his arms around her shoulders.

“I’m okay,” he simply tells her, knowing how freaked out she could get about wrecks from the last Talladega experience. “I’m okay…” She looks up into his brown eyes, feeling every emotion run through her, as she wraps her arms around him to hold him close.

“Are you sure?” She questions as he lays her head on her shoulder.

“I wouldn’t lie to you. I’m fine. It took my breath away for a minute, but I’m fine…” He then lets go, which she follows suit slowly. She watches as he goes over and answers some questions for the reporters, before swiftly returning back to her arms. “Ready to go back to the motorcoach?”

“Absolutely. It’s time for me to take care of you…” He then rolls his eyes as they begin the walk together.

“I told you, I’m fin-”

“You’re going to be sore as hell tomorrow after how hard you hit, whether you want to admit that to me or not. You also did an incredible, beyond admirable job, dealing with my issues this weekend. It’s time that I repay you. For once, let me take care of you…” He nods his head, accepting, knowing he wasn’t going to win this fight.

Once back in the motorcoach, she got him a bottle of water, helped him change out of his firesuit, made him a nice snack, followed by a full back massage.

“I’m spoiled….” He lets out as she continues to work the muscles.

“You deserve it,” she tells him, kissing his cheek. He then glances up at her with a smile.

“You absolutely deserve to be repaid for your hard work and dedication, and I just want to love you that much more…” He then lets out a sigh as he lays his head back down. “But that soreness is creeping in…”

“Then let me do all the pleasuring…” She then rolls him over so he’s on his back, facing her directly, as he looks on intrigued. “Besides, I owe you…”

“You don’t owe me a single thing. I would do what I did for you 10 times over, sweetheart.” She smiles, kissing his lips lightly.

“That doesn’t mean that I can reward your hard work in taking care of me, and your hard work in coming oh so close today…” She then reaches for the edges of his boxers, slipping them down. “Now, relax…”

“How can I relax when I know….where….you’re….going?” She then laughs as she rubs his shoulders once again, brushing her body against his. “Sarina….”

“Yes, Chase?” He then takes her hand, placing it over his crotch, knowing her plan already.

“Stop being a damn tease and deliver on your promise. Help make the pain of Talladega disappear, please…” She then smiles, kissing his lips as she rubs him lightly.

“Your wish is my command, sweet dear…”

*******

Monday, October 16

Sarina makes her way to the back door of the 5/24 shop, knocking on the door.

With concerns still stemming from how he was feeling, she had taken the liberty of dropping him off at the shop while on the way to Kyle Busch Motorsports herself. Now that she was done everything for the day, she had come back to grab him – but also make a stop of her own.

She watches the door open slowly, flashing a million dollar smile immediately.

“No matter what you say or do, you cannot sneak in through the shop,” Chad Avrit tells her as she just laughs.

“I can’t even seduce you to do that?” She questions, causing an intrigued glance to form on his face.

“You’d never….” She laughs and shakes he head.

“You’re right, but I may seduce your driver.” Chad knew that quite the possibility as he crossed his arms.

“Chase is still upstairs doing whatever Chase does….” She figured that as she knew that she was early.

“Is Jordan around?” Chad glances behind him, seeing Jordan working on the interior section of their car for Martinsville in a couple weeks. “Can he come see me, please?”

“I’ll go ask…” Chad then closes the door, leaving Sarina to stand there and wait by herself.

She knew she wasn’t taking the smoothest approach in doing this, but she had to say something after Sunday. Lost in the chaos, she never spoke to Jordan after he led her back to the care center.

“Hey Sarina,” Jordan comments as he opens the door, closing it behind him as he steps outside.

“Hey,” she replies. “I didn’t get you in trouble, did I?” Jordan shakes his head.

“I hadn’t taken my break yet…” She then takes a deep breath, debating the best way to say this.

“I just wanted to stop by and say thank you. I mean it – thank you so much. Thank you for holding me, thank you for your words, thank you for comforting me, thank you for leading me there, and thank you. I was totally lost in the moment and didn’t say a single word….” Jordan looks at her with eyes of sympathy. He understood where she was coming from.

“I knew you were scared and worried; I could see it by your reaction when he hit the wall. Hey, it’s understandable, though. You love and care about him. I knew the best thing in that moment was to offer support for you.”

“But you went above and beyon-”

“Any of the guys would’ve done the same on this team. We’re family, and we’re there for each other. Alan was there on the radio for Chase with Eddie, and I was just the first one to step in for you. Josh mentioned to me that he was about to grab you and take you, but realized that I had you already. You don’t need to thank me. I’m glad as much as you are that he is okay.” Sarina nods her head, having said a couple more thank you prayers since.

“You do a great job at making sure the interior of that car is done right and he’s kept safe. It shows. Thank you…” He smiles as he pulls her into a hug.

“It’s part of the job, and I love him just as much as anybody. But you’re welcome.”

They then separate, talking for a bit longer, before she lets him go so he doesn’t get in trouble for too long of a break.

A Proposal – Chapter 7

Thanks for reading and reviewing 🙂

 

Early January 2016 

 

Let’s take it slow, I don’t wanna move too fast
I don’t wanna just make love, I wanna make love last
When you’re up this high, it’s a sad goodbye

 

While the original plans had been to simply cuddle till his flight in the early morning hours, there were other things that were going through both of their minds. Emma knew that she couldn’t go a whole week without feeling him close to her, especially so closely after the most magical moment of their life – engagement.

Knowing his eyes were focused on her, as he wanted to mesmerize her beauty before leaving, she slowly let her fingers trail down her chest, slowly undoing each button, one by one after each other.

“Was sleeping even in your plans?” He asks and she simply smiles. It seemed that they were both already on the same page, without a method to the madness announced.

“Is there a problem with that?” She questions and he shakes his head no.

“Why didn’t you do this sooner?” The only thing that was flooding through his mind as he mentioned the words – time. Glancing at the clock behind her, it seemed that in the flip of some hours and minutes, he’d be on the plane and off to Canada for the week.

“Cause I wasn’t sure whether you wanted to celebrate by cuddling, or otherwise.” He knew that explanation was a load of crap since they both knew their ways.

“I think you know the answer to that as soon as you stated it.” She laughs, shaking her head as the answer was obvious. Was there any other way to celebrate an engagement?

“So what are you going to do now that I held out for awhile?” He contemplated the ideas, but knew that none of them would be fair for the situation because for that night, all that mattered was each other and love. “Besides, I may want to go get some cake instead.” She then goes to leave the bed, though he grabs her hand, causing her to lock eyes with his. There was no way that he was being stood up in this moment for cake.

“Now now, it’s not nice to be a tease, Ms. Blaney.” She then chuckles as she sees the playfulness in his eyes.

“Now now, it’s not nice to drop a ring on a girl’s finger and then leave the country.” He could let out a sigh in hearing that response. It certainly made him feel more guilty about how things had come together. However, he couldn’t wait a whole week to ask her later.

“I told you my reasons for doing that. Besides, distance lets the heart grow fonder. It’ll just make things even more sweeter than we reunite.” He then leans towards her, kissing her lips lightly. Perhaps increasing the temptation could distract away from conversation, and more towards action.

“I have heard that before…”

“We can prove it’s true….or not….”

“And if it isn’t?” He then smiles as he looks into her eyes – this was simpler than he thought.

“That’s why I am doing this tonight the way that I am.” He then wraps both arms around her, kissing her lips with even more passion than before. He figured a simple increase in the passion would allow that temptation to easily grow.

“Lance….” She tries to catch her breath afterwards, not believing he amount of passion that she felt. She knew that he loved her and could kiss her lips in a dear fashion, but that wasn’t expected.

“I’ve told you so many times that I love you…” He then kisses her lips once again.

“I just wasn’t expecting that…or this…” He then smiles as he brushes a bit of hair out of her eyes.

“I love you so much. That’s why I asked you to marry me. That’s why I am cuddling here with you. That’s why I kissed you so passionately. That’s why I want to do this tonight….and I want to do it the right way – fair, meaningful, slow, passionately.” He then kisses her lips once again as her hands find their way underneath his shirt, slowly pulling it off. Once the shirt is thrown aside, he wraps his arms around her, kissing her shoulder. She lays her head back slightly, allowing him to work the kisses up her neck, followed by more on the lips. A trail of kisses would certainly be something to hold on while she awaited his return. “I love you, Lance. You’re special to me all the time.”

“Awe you are special to me too…” A twirl finds his eyes as the kisses were all great, but he knew that he wanted to make most of the time that they had before he had to leave.

“Well then let me show you just how special you are…” He then pins her back down against the bed.

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

“So, you promise to text me as soon as you know when you’re leaving Toronto so I can meet you here?” She asks as they reach the airport in the early hours of the morning.

“I promise,” he tells her, before kissing her lips. “I also promise to text you each day, and call you each night as well. Don’t worry – the week will be done before you think so.” He then gives her one final kiss before heading inside the airport to catch his flight.

Glancing at her ring, she could only help but smile.

It felt nice to be so in love. It felt nice to be engaged. It felt nice to have a sweet moment together before he left.

Taking a deep breath, she knew that the week would probably go faster than her heart felt it would.

 

The End

 

Be sure to stay tuned for the sequel “A Season’s Quest”, which will focus on Lance’s second full year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driving for Brad Keselowski Racing, while dating Emma Blaney.