Wednesday, July 4 – Charlotte, North Carolina
“This is the life,” Sarina comments as she puts her feet up, smile locked on her face as she glances over with a smile.
How could she complain when she was surrounded by best friends and everybody was sharing drinks, stories, and some outdoor fun on Independence Day? Laying by the pool, soaking up the fun, catching up with her best friend while the boys played in the yard was everything that she could ask for after the stress of Monday.
“So you’d give up racing and go full beach bum?” Lindsay questions and Sarina just laughs.
“You know already that I wouldn’t survive that,” Sarina replies. “Heck, not being able to drive this weekend is going to drive me nuts. Oh wait, Daytona does that enough to me already.” She then looks over at Lindsay. “Think Alan would notice if I snuck a bit of vodka or rum in my drink on the pit box?”
“Now that’s just crazy talk from the lady who doesn’t drink…” Sarina lets out a sigh as she lays back in her seat.
“Let’s just say that restrictor plate racing is the reason that I will have a gray hair at the age of 40. It’s fun as hell in that moment, but watching Chase, I can barely stomach it.” Lindsay nods her head in agreement as she rubs her stomach.
“I just hope this little one co-operates enough that I can watch this weekend….” Sarina then glances over, feeling a little bit of concern.
“Still giving you issues?” Lindsay nods her head.
“They say morning sickness, but I call it just sickness. I can get through a couple days good, and then I go a couple days where I just continue throwing up no matter what.” The girls then watch as the boys make their way back up to the porch, grabbing another beer each out of the cooler. The boys also made sure to treat the girls as queens, with Ryan delivering a lemonade to Lindsay as Chase placed a glass before Sarina. “For a girl that doesn’t drink, that looks suspicious….”
“Take a sip and thank me later,” Chase comments, dropping a quick kiss on her cheek, before going back over to the porch ledge with Ryan. Sarina picks up the glass, taking a sniff as a smile immediately forms on her face.
“Did you seriously order in a bottle from Amsterdam?” Sarina questions as Chase just glances over at Ryan with a smile.
“Well, well, someone is trying to find his way to his girl’s heart,” Ryan offers with a laugh. “Are you trying to get lucky under the fireworks tonight or what?” Chase just rolls his eyes.
“She deserves a treat for everything that we’ve been dealing with,” Chase comments as he glances over the backyard. “I haven’t made it easy on her, Ryan…” Ryan glances over at his friend.
“Alison was not your fau-”
“But kissing your sister was my fault, and while Alison wasn’t my fault, I still appreciate Sarina for being there, comforting me, giving me space when I need it, and being understanding in my emotions. It seems no matter what I throw at her, she may get angry at that minute, but once then she’s my rock and there for me to lean on no matter what.” He takes a quick glance back at the girls, before looking over at Ryan. “How did we get so lucky, Ryan?”
“I don’t know, man, but I don’t take a single minute for granted.” Ryan holds his bottle up. “Cheers for two wonderful ladies that will do anything for us, and cheers to making this summer memorable.”
“I’ll drink to that.” They share a clash of bottles together, before taking a long sip each.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with more drinks and stories, with everybody just enjoying the chance to relax as they watched the sunset off the porch. Once the sun had set, the boys retreated to the garage, pulling out the fireworks that they had purchased, evil grins on their faces as the girls just glanced at each other nervous.
“Promise to be careful?” Lindsay questions as Ryan glances over.
“Absolutely,” he replies as he blows her a kiss.
“Are you sure you can handle this after what you’ve drank?” Sarina wonders and Chase nods his head.
“Just sit back and enjoy the show,” he offers, as he hands each of the girls a sparkler lit up.
The girls giggled as they made different shapes in the air with the sparklers, including each of their boy’s car numbers inside of a heart. Their eyes were caught on the sky seconds later as it was filled with a variety of different colors and sizes, with each boom surprising more after the previous.
“That was worth every penny,” Ryan offers and Chase nods his head in agreement.
Under the moonlight, another round of drinks was passed around, followed by perhaps a couple after that. The girls could tell the boys were certainly a little lit, but they weren’t about to stop them as they’d been behaved for the time being. There was the agreement that if things started to go off the rails, they’d put an end to the night.
Everything continued to go smoothly – until the boys were set on starting a competition as to who could have the fanciest, craziest dive into the pool. A glance at each other, and the girls were feeling more nerves than earlier.
“Watch this….” Chase let out as he took the run to the diving board, ready to set the bar high. Though rather than going for the diving board, he slipped on the path, foot twisting slightly, before landing head-first in the pool.
“Shit!” Sarina and Ryan yelled immediately together as Sarina jumped up from her seat.
“Chase?!?” She says as she makes her way over to the pool.
“I’m okay….” He lets out after his head pops up above water. “I’m okay…” Sarina was set to believe him as she saw no visible marks anywhere on the top of his head or face, but his response didn’t have her totally convinced.
“Oh really?” He then swims over to the edge of the pool, making his way up on the edge and sitting there. “Chase…”
“I’ll be fine…” He then glances down at his foot, moving it slightly as he lets out a small grunt. “I probably just sprained it….”
“I hope so because otherwise, Alan is going to kill you….” She then makes her way over to him, holding her hands out. “Come on, let’s go. You’re going inside and putting that up immediately.”
“I’ll be fin-”
“No ifs, ands, or buts. If you don’t get that up with some ice on it, it’s going to swell like a bitch and you’ll be sorry tomorrow.” He then reluctantly swings around, slowly getting up with Sarina’s help and hobbling in the house.
“Come on Ryan; fun is over for tonight,” Lindsay says as she grabs Ryan by the hand, dragging him in the house after her.
Thursday, July 5 – Daytona International Speedway
Sarina makes her way into the garage stall, giving the crew guys a quick wave as she does, making her way over to where Chase stood. Her eyes immediately sunk to the ground, noticing how he was trying to keep weight off his foot.
“You know, it’d be easier to do that if you were laying down with it up with ice on it as you were instructed to,” she offers as he just lets out a sigh.
Ever since he had woken up that morning before flying, she bugged him about it. She then persisted to bug him once they landed, making him put it back up on a pillow with ice while they snagged a nap. It seemed the only conversation that they were having over the past 24 hours surrounded a foot.
“I’m fine,” he offers as she glances up into his eyes, shaking her head in disagreement. His eyes obviously told a different story.
“Chase, you’re in pai-”
“I’m fine. I can handle it…” She then lets out a sigh as she crosses her arms.
“What if you broke it? What if you tore some ligaments? What if there’s more to this than you’re letting on? You should go get checked it out.” He then glances over at her.
“I’m supposed to be in the car shortly, and you want me to go get it checked out?” She nods her head. “I’m fine, Sarina.” She then places her hand on top of his.
“Chase, it’d make me feel a lot better if you got it checked out, so please listen to me….”
“Listen to her Chase,” Alan suggests as he glances over at him. he knew how Sarina was at Daytona with her nerves, and he knew anything to give her comfort was warranted. “You’ve got an hour to XFINITY practice. You’ve got plenty of time.”
“Not helping, Ala-” Chase starts as Alan gives him a stern glance.
“Do I need to call your mother?” Chase’s jaw drops in shock. “Do what your told, please.” Chase then glances back at Sarina with a sigh, almost in total disbelief.
“Let’s go….” She then takes his hand with hers, as they make their way slowly out of the garage stall through the garage to the medical center.
Thankfully, his predictions of it being just a sprain were right as all the of the x-rays came back clean, showing all bones in their proper places. With the recommendation of more elevation and ice when he got a chance, he was back in the garage ready to start the day.
“Make sure you’re drinking lots,” Sarina offers as she watches him get set to climb in the car, earning a curious glance from him. “I don’t want a repeat of last week.”
“I’ll take care of myself, okay?” He tells her. “You don’t need to worry about me. I’ll be fine, and we’ll have a good weekend…” She then takes a deep breath as she grabs onto his hand.
“Just promise me you’ll be safe.” He then pulls her close to him so they were touching head-to-toe.
“Always.” He then gives her a kiss on the lips, before climbing the car as she takes another deep breath, slowly walking away.
She makes her way up onto the GMS Racing hauler, placing on her headset as she glances out at the oval. Trying to calm herself with another deep breath, she hoped the butterflies cooled off as they went through the rest of the weekend.
“Are you okay?” She hears Chad Norris ask as he joins her up on top of the hauler.
“Usual restrictor plate nerves,” she offers as her eyes glance down to the garage, seeing the No. 23 Untuckit Camaro pulling out of the garage.
“I’ve heard of wives and girlfriends being nervous, but I’d never thought I’d see a fellow racecar driver be nervous…” She then glances over at Chad.
“You’re looking at a driver who has seen the worst of these tracks from the driver’s seat, though. I know what it feels like to hit that wall. I know what it feels like to ride that wall with two wheels because you get pinched up there, trapped, nowhere to go and along for the ride. I think because I’ve experienced that helpless feeling, it makes my nerves worse knowing that there’s nothing that you can do if it starts around you. besides, I watched him wreck at Talladega and you can ask Alan and Jordan how I was – not pretty.” Chad then places a hand on her shoulder.
“I can understand then, but I will promise you that my guys built a real safe, fast racecar, and we’re going to be fine tomorrow night.” She nods her head.
“I don’t doubt that, but try convincing the butterflies in my stomach….”
Chase leans against the wall, knowing that there were only 10 minutes between the pair of practices, and Alan would be set for him to take his first laps of the first Cup session. After feeling comfortable with the XFINITY Series car and the moves they could make, he just hoped that same feelings was there in this practice, too.
It was also a bonus when Chad offered to not run the second XFINITY practice since there wasn’t much else they could do to get better. whether he’d admit it openly or not, the sooner he could chill in the motorcoach with his foot up, the better as it was sorer than he thought it’d be.
He then hears his phone go off, which had him a little confused as everybody was pretty good in avoiding anything during practice sessions knowing that was his priority. Though seeing the number on his phone, he answered it.
“Hey,” he says simply as he stays in the same spot.
“Hey,” Erin replies at the other end. “I thought I’d call you and let you know that the article will go live on Monday. I did what I could, but there was no way that stop it from coming out…” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing what that meant as it was only a matter of time until the world knew he kissed Erin in Ireland.
“Thanks for the heads-up.” Erin could see the disappointment in his voice.
“Have you told Sarina what happened?” Chase closes his eyes, as he remembered that conversation clearly.
“She took it better than I imagined, Erin. A little anger but not as much as I thought, understanding that it was a drunken lapse in judgment. Now, how do you convince the world of that?” Erin lays back in her bed.
“Everybody isn’t going to believe that you were drunk and it was a lapse of judgment. I think, if I’m being honest, everybody will split down the middle. Carolyn gave me the choice to add a comment, in which I did with that statement – so it isn’t like you’re coming up with a later-on statement. Chase, I’m really sor-”
“You didn’t kiss me, Erin; I kissed you. It’s my decisi-”
“A drunken decision that you don’t even remember for that matter, therefore holds no weight. It’s unfair that you have to shoulder all of this, from the trial with Alison to the kiss that was really nothing. Hopefully it blows over quickly.” Chase wanted to laugh as he knew that was impossible. It was only a matter of time that the Alison would blow-up further with the trial dates scheduled, and details to be revealed.
“Just know that whatever they may say about you, it’s not true. You’re amazing, and I’ll always be your best friend.”
“That goes both ways, Chase. I’ll see you when I get back to the States. Have fun in Daytona this weekend. Go snag a win, will ya?” He then chuckles.
“I’ll try – if you stop distracting me from practice.” Erin then rolls over, glancing at the time, doing the math silently in her head.
“Ah shit, I screwed up. I thought that practice was over by now. Sorry…”
“It’s okay. I’m not mad at you, but I better let you go. We’ll talk later, okay?”
“Absolutely. Bye Chase.”
“Bye Erin.” He then hangs up, a small smile on his face.
Certainly the circumstances of that call sucked as he would’ve preferred no article at all, but she never failed to put a smile on his face.