The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 99: Casino Resort 301

Friday July 21, 2018 – New Hampshire

After talking over the last run during practice with Alan, Chase makes his way over to the 88 garage stall next door.

“How’s your car feel?” He asks, catching his teammate’s attention.

“Fighting tight through the ends,” Alex answers as he glances up at the speed charts. “Well, at least we’re all right together.” Chase had ended the session in 12th, with Alex sitting eighth.

“Look at Jimmie and explain that to me.” Alex glances up the sheet, seeing Jimmie sitting sixth.

“Cause he’s seven-time. Should I waltz over to Grandpa and ask him his secret?” Chase chuckles at the nickname that Alex and William had been using for Jimmie all season long.

“I was tight going into the corner, but Alan says if I take a bit of that set-up Jimmie has, I should be good for qualifying. I guess it’s try and see, right?” Alan nods his head.

“Greg says that he thinks a tweak in air pressure is all that I need to be right there. Guess we’ll see…” Chase then lets out a sigh as Alex looks down at the toolbox. “So what’s this envelope addressed to you anyway?” Chase instantly looks over, a little intrigued that the envelope was sitting there. However, seeing Alan’s clipboard with it, he figured it might have got stuck to it when the crew chief came over to speak with Greg.

“Paternity results from the courts for Alison.” Alex keeps his eyes on the envelope, glancing it over.

“Oh right, there’s a chance that she may be pregnant with your kid…” Chase slowly nods his head. “So you got the results that you’ve been waiting for and yet you haven’t opened them? If it was me, I would get this off of my conscious immediately and rip it by the seams.”

“I’d rather wait in case I need some time to process it.” Alex glances over a little confused.

“I thought there was no chance that she was pregna-”

“I’m beginning to wonder if it happened, and I just tried to block it out.” Alex lets out a sigh.

“Oh man…” Alex’s eyes immediately find their way back to the envelope. “I still say that you should just get it over with.” Alex begins to run his finger along the seam, though Chase places his hand on top.

“My envelope, my rules. Leave it alone, please.” Chase snatches the envelope as Alex just looks on, notably concerned based on his teammate’s reaction.

“Alright, alright, I’m sorry man. But can I give you a piece of advice? I wouldn’t leave that lying around the garage. Someone could easily pick it up, snatch the results away, do whatever they want. You also leave the door open for someone to switch the resu-”

“Alison is locked awa-”

“She could blackmail or pay someone, Chase. My advice would be to get someone to take that back to your hauler, and lock it up in a drawer with key until you’re ready to reveal the details. That’s just me, though…” Chase glances down at the envelope, before looking back at his teammate.

“Thanks for the advice.” Chase then heads off, envelope in hand, as Alex watches on.

“Yeah – 10th best,” Chase tells the reporter. “It’s been kind of the status quo I feel like lately. Just trying to get a little better. The consistency has certainly been better, I feel like, but not consistently where we want to be.”

He then walks back over to the pit wall, having a seat as he thinks over the qualifying run. It was better than they had practiced – speed-wise and feeling. However, it still wasn’t where they wanted to be as running there wasn’t winning races, and that was the ultimate goal. Alan’s work was paying off slowly, but they still needed a little more and he wasn’t settling until they got that.

After thinking it over, he heads back to the hauler, making his way to the lounge in the back. Alan and Josh were already there, going over notes on the laptop. He grabs a drink, sitting down beside them as he stares at the envelope on the table. Sarina slowly makes her way inside, sitting down beside, placing a hand on his leg.

“Look at those two smarties,” she starts, catching the attention of Josh and Alan. “They’ll figure it out..” Chase nods, knowing that they would; he wouldn’t want to work with anybody else. However, his mind was instead consumed by the package before him. “Is that what I think it is?”

“Paternity results delivered directly by a court official to the garage area,” he says as he picks up the envelope. “Everything that I’ve been questioning for months is right in here.” Sarina checks the seam, surprised to see it wasn’t broken.

“So what are you waiting for?” He then flips it over, taking a deep breath.

“I’ve been stuck on the fact that she’s not pregnant with my kid. What if this confirms her theory?” Sarina knew that was a possibility, but stuck to the belief that it wasn’t. Sure, she didn’t know what to believe initially due to how she found out the news and the fact that Chase wasn’t the most forthcoming. However, hearing what he had to say since, she was now ready to believe this was just another one of Alison’s games.

“Then we’ll deal with it accordingly, okay? We’ll look at the next steps to take and figure out where to go from here. No matter what, you’ve got myself, Alan, Josh, Jordan, your parents, Ryan, everybody. We can get through anything.” She then runs her finger along the edge. “I’d rather you open it and stop torturing yourself by letting her run your life.”

“I’m sorry. I just don’t know where to go with it sometimes….” She then rubs his shoulders.

“You don’t need to apologize, Chase. I get it. I really do, all of the feelings are understandable after everything. That’s why we’re all glad that you’re taking the steps necessary. The next step, though, is opening this.”

Chase knew that she was right as putting it off continually was getting them nowhere as he ran his finger along the edge of the envelope, finally breaking the seam that sealed it together. He opens the envelope, looking inside to see a white piece of paper.

“Who knew a simple white piece of paper could determine the rest of your life,” he offers as he slides the piece of paper out, blank side facing up. All it took now was flipping over the paper and he would have the results he wanted. However, he couldn’t bring himself to do it, just looking at it with a sigh.

“Can I look?” Josh interrupts as he reaches over, but Alan smacks his hand.

“This is for Chase to handle….” Alan tries to convince the car chief as Josh keeps his eyes focused on Chase.

“I’ve wanted to be Maury, though.”

“You’ve watched Maury?!?” Alan, Sarina, and Chase all say together at the same time.

“Hey now, there’s some good drama sometimes,” Josh tries to defend himself as a series of laughs break out.

“Oh what the heck?” Chase says as he tosses it over to the car chief. “I might as well let someone have some fun out of this.” Josh picks up the piece of paper, flipping it over to reveal the news they all wanted to see. Alan immediately smiles as he glances over the car chief’s shoulder.

“Alan, you would never make a good show assistant,” Sarina comments, catching the grin herself as she begins to smile a little.

“William Clyde Elliott, you are not the father of Ms. Alison Reynolds’ baby as your DNA does not match the sample given,” Josh reads out loud before handing the piece of paper back to Chase.

“Your instincts were right all along,” Alan offers as Sarina pulls him close.

Chase lets out a large sigh as he reads it for himself, feeling as though the weight had been lifted off his shoulders. It was only one step, but it was the beginning of moving further away from what happened with Alison and along with his own life.

“Well?” Sarina questions, noticing the silence from Chase as he glances over with a smile.

“It’s nice to have the proof,” he comments as he stares back at the sheet. “It’s nice to know that I was right all along. She just tried to play me, and she did a good job because I was beginning to fall for her tricks.” He then holds the sheet up in the air. “Now, I’m ready to move forward.” He goes to tear it in half, but Sarina grabs his hands. “What?”

“Keep it for those who want to say you’re full of shit…” He didn’t really care what others thought, but it wasn’t worth arguing over as he slipped it back in the envelope. He then took out his phone, texting all of those who had wondered close to him the results.

Saturday July 22, 2018 – New Hampshire

Chase walks over to his teammate, leaning his head in the window following the final run of the pair of practices that he would get before Sunday’s race.

“Alright, spill,” he starts, catching Jimmie’s attention as he was ready for some earth-shattering request. “What’s the secret to getting around this place?”

“Roll in, turn left, come off like a tiger,” Jimmie says, repeating the same advice that he had stated earlier in the weekend. Chase just lets out a sigh.

“There’s got to be more than that…” Jimmie then glances at the computer screen before him in the car, scrolling through to see Chase was 16th and 20th in the pair of sessions.

“Have you looked over throttle and brake trace to see if you’re braking at the right spots?” Chase nods his head, having gone over those screens following the first practice.

“To be honest, it felt decent through the session, except for being a little tight. But yet, here I am once again, still mid-pack.” Jimmie flips over to the throttle trace screens and sees how they compare.

“Once Alan tweaks it a little, I think you’ll be fine as you’re doing what I told you.” Chase wanted to believe that, but still wasn’t feeling totally convinced.

“Even if the handling was way out to left field through the middle of the run?” Jimmie glances over, nodding his head.

“You at least know what not to do then, right? Look, you guys are making progress and you’re figuring out the track. Given what I’m seeing, you should be just fine tomorrow. You always figure it out. Stop being so hard on yourself for once.” Chase lets out a sigh as he stands up.

“I can’t help it, man. I want to be running better..” He goes to walk away, when Jimmie grabs his hand to stop him.

“It’ll come. We’ve made considerable progress compared to where we began the season to where we are now. It’ll keep coming as these guys are too smart to not let it happen. You’ll get to running where you want to be so just relax, roll with it, and stay focused. Also, remember what we talked about before the season. Don’t get yourself burnt out too early.” Chase nods his head, running the advice through his head.

He then walks away, satisfied with the conversation even if it got him nowhere, ready to relax the rest of the night. He knew there was going to be a good XFINITY series race on-track, and there was nothing more relaxing than sitting up in the stands watching like the good ‘ol days. Hey, maybe he’d pick up something that he could use tomorrow.

He makes his way through the garage, surprised when he sees a familiar brunette before him.

“I thought you would’ve ran off the dirt track with Emma and your dad,” he offers as Erin just chuckles back in response.

“I love my guys, but I needed to catch-up with everyone,” Erin comments as she places a hand on his shoulder. “It’s nice to hear that you got the news you wanted. See, I told you to trust your instincts. Now that’s something that you don’t need to worry about with her moving forward.” Chase slowly nods his head, accepting.

“I was almost dreading meetings about what would happen if I was the fath-”

“Don’t even let those thoughts enter your mind, Chase. Don’t give her the power to control your thoughts. Focus on yourself, your future, and what you have ahead. Focus on finding the answers you need to move forward. You deserve every bit of happiness that you can get, so focus on that.” He then glances into her eyes.

“Thanks, and I’m trying…” She then smiles back in response.

“I know you are, but I also know how you try and mask everything awa-”

“I do not do tha-”

“Who put off going to therapy? Who pretended that things weren’t as messy before with Sarina when they were a disaster?” The grin then fades from his face. “Look, I’m not ready to let go how much she hurt you the-”

“It wasn’t her fau-”

“Her brother was behind it, and certainly deserves the blame. However, she still made decisions of her own that were questionable at best. I saw the pain they caused you. I held you one of those nights that you cried. I’m not about to forget tha-”

“I thought you said you were willing to accept Sarina and I being together, though.” Erin takes a careful deep breath, knowing that she was going along thin waters. However, she knew their friendship could withstand that.

“If you’re happy, then I’m willing to accept as I certainly see the potential in her to be amazing. I also see the happiness when you’re together. However, I will be the first person there to pick up the pieces, and make sure it’s the last time if something happens again. Like I told you, I have your back.” Chase places a hand on her shoulder.

“I know you do, and I appreciate that. However, you need to lay off a little, please. When I say that Sarina has changed, I mean it.” Erin glances over across the garage, seeing Sarina playing with Brexton, before looking back to Chase.

“As I’m spending time here with you, I’m seeing that. As I see more of it, then certainly I’m willing to back right off and forget. But it’s going to take time…” Chase wanted to argue back once again, but bit his tongue. He realized it was the same speech his mother had, and he knew how that turned out.

“Okay, I understand. Just please don’t get too much up in her face about it.” Erin smiles a little.

“You saw how we were at Eldora together, right? That should tell you enough. I’ll see you later.” Erin then heads off as Chase takes a deep breath, letting everything process through as he walks through the garage, catching up with Sarina and Brexton.

Sunday July 23, 2018 – New Hampshire

Following a lengthy rain delay, the race got started and there was speed in the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet right away as Chase began to make his way forward, finishing the first stage in the runner-up spot.

He would get a good restart to start the second stage, keeping himself second right behind Martin Truex Jr.

“Easy there boy….” Sarina says quietly as he slid up across Kyle Busch’s nose. She knew that wasn’t something that Kyle would take lightly too, and was probably already complaining about on his radio.

As the stage got into the second half, Chase began to catch up to Martin Truex Jr. as they got into lap traffic

“Holy hello fuck!” Sarina lets out as he goes four-wide, splitting the two lap cars with Martin to take the lead with 19 laps to go. “Easy boy, easy – but holy fuck that was stunning!” Josh could only chuckle as he glanced over his shoulder back at her, patting her leg.

Chase would lead the rest of the way, scoring the stage victory. Unfortunately, the pit stop sequence didn’t totally go in their favor as they lost a spot.

Restarting from the second spot, Chase ran solidly there, clicking off laps as he kept himself in position.

“I got a bit of a vibration,” Chase reports over the radio with 100 laps to go, sending the team into a bit of a fury. “Are my brakes hot?”

“I can’t tell man,” Alan replies as Josh stands up immediately. “Sending someone to check in the corner.”

Josh climbs down off the steps as Sarina turns the key on the golf kart.

“Hold on boy,” she tells him as she immediately puts it in drive, making their way quickly through the infield and down to the corner. Josh takes a close look at the NAPA Chevrolet goes through the corner, shaking his head no, before climbing back on the golf cart. He was barely on, grabbing the bar as she took off back up to their pit.

“I can see why you’re a driver,” he comments as she just chuckles. He makes his way back on the box, shaking his head no to Alan.

“No color,” Alan reports back to Chase over the radio.

Whether due to brakes or something else, the other concern was surrounding handling and that affected them as he slipped back to fourth. The final pit stop was then a little slow, causing him to lose two more spots to sixth. He would make one of them back up, crossing the line in fifth.

“Considering where we started the weekend, I’ll take it,” Sarina comments as she gives Alan and Josh a high-five. “It’s progress. Keep that coming and you’ll find your win.”

“I like your vote of confidence,” Alan replies with a smile, before looking at Josh. “Maybe we should’ve made an adjustment the last run there….”

“He said he was comfortable so I went with your theory, but the track was changing, too,” Josh offers as Alan glances at his notes. “Progress, man, progress…”

Advertisements

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 98: Eldora Dirt Derby

Wednesday July 18, 2018 – Eldora Speedway

Logan Seavey walks up to Todd Gilliland, as the pair watch truck series qualifying.

“Feeling confident for the pole?” Todd questions, without even glancing over at his young teammate.

“Should be fast,” Logan answers as he leans up against the fence. “How about you?”

“Still trying to get a little comfortable, but I think I’ve got something to work with.” Todd then watches as Sarina comes on track for her qualifying lap. “This’ll be interesting. She didn’t look happy after practice.”

“She’s still trying to figure out the balance between swinging it sideways enough for speed. I gave her a couple tips. She isn’t too bad to look at either.” Todd then glances over a little intrigued. “What? Can’t I compliment our teammate on her good looks?”

“I’m not going to argue.” Todd had a couple other  reserved opinions, but kept those to himself for the sake of the team.

“I mean, I can’t help but stare when she asks me ou-”

“Woah, wait, what? She asked you out?” Logan then looks over, nodding his head.

“She said that maybe we could hang out later. Last I checked, that normally leads into a date.” Todd then chuckled a little as he glanced at the speed chart.

“You do realize that she’s dating Chase Elliott, right?” Logan then looks over slightly puzzled. “Oh lawdy…”

“So maybe I did hear that. I also heard that she was hanging out with Christopher, which seemed strange due to Morgan. I mean, those two are always together.” Todd slowly nods his head as he lets out a sigh.

“Welcome to the media spinning everything. Morgan and Christopher are together as always. Christopher and Sarina are just best friends. Chase and Erin Blaney are just best friends as I’m sure you know her as well. But, Sarina and Chase are engaged. I don’t think she was asking you out on a date, but good try.” Todd then walks away as Logan thinks it over.

“Oh Logan, what did you do?” Even knowing he screwed up himself, he couldn’t help but turn around and watch as she climbed out of the truck. She was certainly a beauty….

Sarina climbs out of the truck, letting out a long sigh as she looks over at Rudy.

“I don’t even know what to say,” she offers before climbing the rest of the way out. “I tried everything that you told me, Logan told me, and whatever I did last year. I tried to make the moves that I was supposed to, but we went nowhere.” Rudy glances over his notes, before checking over the truck.

“Too tight or too loose now?” He questions, half-listening to her comments. He knew by finishing sixth in their heat that they’d have to run the last chance qualifier, which would be coming up shortly.

“I’m going to say too tight because I couldn’t slide as much as I did in practice.” Rudy nods his head as he glances back at his notes.

“They changed the track conditions slightly, and we’re getting more drivers running laps so that doesn’t surprise me.” He then looks back up at his driver. “I know you hate having to run the b-main, but look at it this way – you’re locked in the show no matter what you do, and it’s extra laps so you can get comfortable. Keep pushing, and you’ll figure it out.” She just nods her head as she runs her hands through her hair.

“How does Logan and Stewart (Frisen) and all those asses make it look so easy?”

“Because they’ve been running dirt all of their lives,” a new voice chimes in as she glances back over her shoulder, smiling. She walks over immediately, wrapping her arms around him for a hug. “Just like they’d find Winchester or Pennsacola challenging, you find this hard. But Rudy is right as you always figure it out.”

“I’ve missed you today,” she comments, before kissing Chase’s lips once again. “I’m glad that you made it here, though. How did today go?” He then takes a deep breath.

“Sample submitted. We’ll know the results on Friday when they’re delivered.” She then rubs his back a little as she could see the concern in his face.

“That’s it?” He nods his head as she lets out a sigh. She knew there was more, but she wasn’t about to push the issue.

“You know that you have to turn right to go left typically on dirt, right?” Another voice chimes in and she chuckles immediately, recognizing Ryan right away.

“Thanks Captain Obvious,” she replies, giving him a small smack as she keeps an arm wrapped around Chase. “Maybe I should just get you to drive instead.

“Woah now, I don’t have the experience even with how much racing my dad does over the year.”

“That’s surprising actually,” Chase comments as Ryan just shrugs his shoulders.

“I’ve always just stuck with pavement and stock cars,” Ryan offers.

While the boys were trading jabs, Sarina’s eyes caught Erin’s as she gives her a simple nod.

“It’s nice to see you Erin,” Sarina breaks the silence as they stare at each other. Even with both trying to ignore the kiss happened, it felt awkward to be standing there face-to-face.

“Same to you,” Erin replies. “It’s too bad that you couldn’t had joined the boys in Ireland.” Sarina silently wished she would’ve been there, too, as the kiss probably never would’ve happened.

“Maybe next time, right? I heard that you had a great time traveling across Europe…” Erin nods her head.

“I have to show you the photos some time because there’s so many beautiful spots.” Sarina just smiles back in response. “Look, it’s easy to see that things are awkward between us. I’m not going to deny to you the feelings that I shared to Chase that I have. I’m not going to deny the kiss that happened, nor will I deny that it made me think about what could’ve been. However, if he’s happy with you, then I’m willing to accept that as I think you’re pretty amazing. I’m ready to move forward, forget what happened, and just be friends.”

“I appreciate your honesty, actually. I have no issues with what happened because Chase told me the details, and I have no issues with your confession. I appreciate you giving us your blessing so to speak too, I guess. I also want you to know that I respect the friendship that you and Chase have. I get that he can come to you with things and talk like nothing – and that’s fine; it’s the same way with Christopher and I. If you guys continue that, I have no problem either.” Erin smiles as she holds out her hand, giving Sarina a hand-shake.

“I’m glad, and know that if you hurt him, I will be the first one ready to knock your ass out after his Momma.” She then squeezes Sarina’s hand a little tighter before letting go, and glancing down the pits. “I’ve got people to go catch-up with. See ya both later?” The boys nod their head simply as they watch her walk off.

“Well, that was interesting….” Sarina then pulls her ponytail out, fixing her hair before putting it back up again.

“Is everything okay, or did I miss something there?” Chase wonders as Sarina shrugs her shoulders.

“No matter what we say, Chase, it’s going to be awkward. You’re her first crush and yet you’re with me, but yet you guys kissed. We’re going to have that tension because we’ll always wonder what if and about the other person when we see each other; it’s like a reminder slap in the face. However, as we both said, we’re grown adults and ready to move forward. It’ll get easier with time, but for now, everything is alright.” She then wraps her arm back around Chase. “We just want to do the best for you, and be there for you. You deserve both of us supporting you through this time.”

“I appreciate that. I just don’t want to make things tougher on you.” She then glances into his eyes.

“Trust me, you’re not. Like I told her, I have no problem with the friendship you two have – as long as you’re okay with Christopher and I. We both love each other, want a future together, and have everything that we do have – but respect each other has a close friend of the opposite sex as well and that it’ll just be a friendship with them. Stop worrying. Let everyone else talk because it doesn’t matter what they say.” He nods his head, accepting.

However, witnessing the conversation and seeing how quickly Erin walked away couldn’t help but leave him a little nervous.

“That’s much better,” Chase comments as she crosses the finish line in second for the last chance qualifier.

He makes his way back down to the pits, taking her helmet from her as she climbs out of the truck. He gives it a quick wipe before placing it back in the truck. He then chuckles a little seeing the dirt on her back, wiping it off with his hand brushing across her ass in the process.

“Hey now,” She comments with a grin in his direction as he just gives her a wink. “One thing that can annoy me about dirt tracks – getting dirty.”

“I thought you didn’t mind getting a little dirty,” he replies as she glances over at him.

“With you, that’s a different story of course….” She gives him a wink to return the favor, before walking up to the hauler to debrief with Rudy before the main event.

The race didn’t start strongly for Sarina, as she ran outside of the top-20 most of the night, still trying to figure out the right approach for dirt racing. A decision from Rudy Fugle to not pit allowed her to stay out, moving up to 16th for the restart.

The final stretch would be deemed her best of the night as she avoided the late-race contact that took others out of contention, and even managed to figure out how to make a couple passes of her own. Ultimately, it paid off with an eighth-place finish.

“Not bad for someone who says dirt is their weakness,” Rudy comments, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “That’s how you persevere and survive. Look where you started the day, and now look where you finished. Days like these are what will win us a championship at the end of the year. I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks for sticking with me all day long,” she replies, easily returning the hug back in return. “Let’s get back to chasing wins, okay?” He nods his head in agreement.

“I have confidence in you at Pocono. Just keep a smart head on all-race long…” Rudy then walks away, set to pack up so they could get out of there.

“Nice job,” Chase says as he gives her a hug, placing a kiss on her cheek. “See, a little dirt never hurt anyone.” She then looks up into his eyes.

“Maybe if you’re good I’ll show you a different type of dirty later,” she offers with a grin as he just smiles back in return. “Or not. I mean, it’s all up to you.” She then glances down as the words slip out of her mouth.

“What’s wrong?” She slowly looks back up at him.

“I know you’ve got so much going on, and I know you expressed those regrets to me earlier this week. I just don’t know sometimes if I’m saying the right thing, or doing what you need me to do for you. Like, I don’t want to push you there if you’re not ready and confident based on what you said.” He appreciated the show of concern from her as it was one of the many reasons why he loved her.

“Listen, just keep being you. Just do your thing without any differences. I’ll tell you if I feel uncomfortable, or if you’ve gone over the line. But being here with me, there to lean on when I need you, that’s all I need. I love you.” He then places a kiss on her lips.

“I love you, too, Clyde…” She then takes his hand as they head off back to the transporter together.

“She stole your nickname for him?” Erin questions, earning a glance from Ryan.

“Still overcritical of their relationship?” Ryan offers back in response as Erin lets out a sigh.

“I can’t help it, Ryan. I want the best for him. Is that too wrong to ask?” He shakes his head no as he crosses his arms.

“He’s my best friend, too. I want the best as well and I have called him and her both out at times when I felt it wasn’t right. I just worry that you’re overcriticalness comes from a different plac-”

“I told you already that you didn’t need to worry, Ryan. If he’s happy, then I’m willing to accept it because that’s all I want at the end of the day for him.” She then walks away, knowing they’d just go around in circles, and that would probably continue from now on until she found the right guy for her.

Friday July 21, 2018 – New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Chase makes his way into the garage, giving various crew members a pat on the shoulder as he reaches the car.

“Practice starts in 15 minutes,” Jordan offers as he glances over at his driver. “Everything is there.” Chase nods his head as he glances into the car, seeing his helmet and gloves placed as normal. “So I heard you started therapy…”

“Is this going to be the topic of the day in the garage?” Chase questions as Jordan lets out a sigh, leaning over the roof.

“Alan made a brief mention when you weren’t there Monday afternoon for the rescheduled meeting.” Chase rolls his eyes, resisting the urge to go over and yell at the crew chief. He was hoping to keep that private. “For what it’s worth, everybody let it go easily, understandably, knowing everything that happened. They also saw you at the end of the trial, too.”

“So if it’s no big deal, why are you asking me about it?” Jordan makes his way around the car, leaning back against it as he looks over at his driver.

“Everybody else just heard about therapy and your feelings. I was there when you were getting the notes and saw your reactions. I was there when you told Alan what happened, and sat with you. I was there with you for the weeks af-”

“Jordan, I appreciate it a lot as it meant the worl-”

“I’m not looking for appreciation, man. I’m just saying that I know better than anyone else and coming from that angle, I’m glad that you’re doing it. I’m glad that you’re looking into ways to help you move forward and feel better about things. I hope it works out for you, or something else for that matter possibly. I also wanted to say that if you need someone to talk to, you can always come to me.” Chase takes a deep breath, glancing over at him.

“I know, and thank you.”

“William Clyde Elliott?” Everybody in the garage freezes at the full name mention, half expecting an elder family member to be standing there. Instead, jaw dropped around the stall as they saw the officer standing there.

“It’s Chase…” Chase states as he walks over slowly, taking a deep breath. His eyes were already locked on the envelope, knowing the information that it contained.

“I have a delivery for you from the Delaware Courts in relation to your case against Ms. Alison Reynolds.” Chase goes to snatch the envelope, but the officer holds it back. “We do need proof of identity and a signature first.”

“Seriously?” The officer slowly nods his head as Chase lets out a sigh. Instinctively, he holds up his hand as Alan throws him his hard card off the pit cart. “I don’t have anything else on me as I am here to do a job.”

“That’ll work.” The officer then hands him over a pen and paper, with Chase signing as instructed. “Thank you, sir.” He then hands over the envelope, before leaving the stall.

“Guys, just keep working as normal….” Everybody does as instructed, even if they kept glancing out of the corner of their eye at their driver, as he made his way to the pit box, setting the envelope there. “No opening it, got it?” Alan nods his head, accepting, but felt hesitant.

“We can hold off and let you ope-” Alan starts, and Chase shakes his head no.

“We have a job to do, and that’s figuring out what this car needs for qualifying,” he starts as he walks back over to the car. “Let’s focus on this practice, and then we can worry about that, okay?” Alan nods his head once again as he grabs his clipboard.

However, as the crew chief went to leave the garage stall, he couldn’t help but let his own eyes wander back to the envelope.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 97: Pressure is a Privilege

“The pressure is really a privilege. … Those are things we embrace at the University of Georgia. We can’t run from those things.” – University of Georgia Bulldog Coach Kirby Smart, 7-17-2018

Tuesday July 17, 2018 – Dawsonville, Georgia

Sarina walks out onto the back porch, shutting the door behind her, as she walks over to where Chase stands, placing an arm around his shoulder.

After everything that took place on Monday, the pair flew up to Dawsonville, knowing that they needed some time to just decompress and relax a bit.

“You look like you have a lot on your mind,” she comments as he gives her a glance. “You know, you can talk to me about it.”

“I’ve got the closure that I need in knowing she’s locked away, but there’s so much else to think about,” he offers as she leans her head on his shoulder. “Just when I think that I am that much closer to moving forward, it feels like I get knocked back two steps.”

“A single therapy session isn’t going to cure everything all at once, Chase. It’s going to take time, patience, and working through everything. Like your dad convinced you, you’re taking the right steps…” Chase knew that as it seemed right in what he was doing, therapy-concerned. The first appointment on Monday had gone smoother than he envisioned, with the reassurance and topics already discussed feeling as though it was progress.

“…and I’m ready to take those steps, Sarina-”

“I didn’t say you weren’t, nor was I beginning to judge you. I have no place to judge you, Chase, considering my family, my background, and how I used to handle things. I was just stating that simple fact openly. I will also add that therapy can help as it solved my anger issues.” Chase glances over into her eyes.

“I haven’t seen any holes in my walls lately so I call that progress…” She then sighs as he lets out a little chuckle. She knew she wasn’t going to let that down no matter how she tried. “I am still doubting whether I made the right decision accepting the deal for Alison. I am still debating the paternity results tomorrow. I’m also pondering regrets, which I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help it.”

“That’ll get easier with time as you find the answers you need…” He then takes a deep breath, as that comment opened a door to something he had wondered.

“Can I tell you something that was mentioned during therapy yesterday?” She nods her head.

“You can tell anything. I’m always here to listen, Chase…” He then glances down as he remembered the conversation.

“He asked me about how everything was affecting my daily life, and the changes that I wanted to see happen out of these sessions. I mentioned letting go of the regrets, finding comfort in the decisions made, but also the fact that I couldn’t fully open myself up to you in a sexual, romantic way as much as I felt I should because of what happened.” He then pauses, eyes catching hers again. “I hope you don’t mind me mentioning that, or you.”

“I’m glad to see you taking the steps to go to therapy, and I want to see you move forward beyond what happened. If speaking about me and our relationship helps you, then I don’t mind. I just want to see you be okay.” He then wraps an arm around her shoulders, pulling her close.

“I’m always okay when you’re with me.” He then gives her a small kiss. “He asked, though, how far we’ve gone since everything, and I said we’ve gone all the way – but something felt as though it was missing to me, whether passion, ability to just be vulnerable and show everything, or whatever. It pained me to feel that way, too, knowing that you’re always there for me…”

“Chase, I told you that I understand….” Chase nods his head, remembering the conversation.

“I hope you fully understand once I explain this, though.” She was now a little puzzled, but remained calm as she was to not deter him from mentioning it. “He mentioned that I may have dove in before I was truly ready after everything that happened for a reason. He said that I may have pushed myself to do that, in hopes that our time together would erase those images. I brought myself to do that with you, but yet comparing what happened to before, out of fear, and trying to create a distraction if you will.”

“That’s understandable based on what happ-”

“Even if essentially I was using you to try and overlap feelings and mask those to cure my own pain? Because the theory is that if we went ahead and did it, I could cover the images of what happened. But then my theory in that I couldn’t bring myself fully was because I was comparing and remembering, and not just being vulnerable to let it all out – both feeling what you were doing, and what I felt.” He then takes a deep breath. “I don’t even know if this is coming out right in how I’m trying to explain it, but I wanted to share it with you because I want to apologize for using yo-”

“Excuse me?” Her tone caught him a little off-guard.

“I used you to essentially mask everything that happened. I used you as my security blanket to cover every bit I was feeling. I apologize because that makes me feel terrible that I wasn’t honest with myself, with you, and especially in those moments that are supposed to be special to us.” Sarina places her hand on top of his.

“I understand what you’re saying fully, and I get where you’re coming from. But you don’t need to apologize, Chase. You never hurt me or mistreated me. I enjoyed every one of those moments because anytime I can be close to you, it means everything to me. My only hope is that everything you’re doing helps so we can get back to that place where you’re fully as comfortable as I am, and having none of these thoughts.” She then gives up, placing a light kiss on his cheek. “I love you, Clyde, and nothing will change that.”

“Not even Bell?” She then gives him a light smack.

“Morgan can keep that trouble maker…” He then chuckles a little. “You’re still coming to Eldora tomorrow night, right?” He nods his head.

“I’m flying up to Denver to do the test, and then flying to Eldora so I can cheer on my little dirt queen.” She then chuckles as she rolls her eyes.

“Dirt and I aren’t the best of friends, should you know…” Chase looks at her puzzled.

“You did a decent job last yea-”

“That was by luck!” Chase then laughs. “What? At least I’m honest…”

“Then maybe you should call Christopher and get some tips.” She lets out a sigh.

“Nah, he’s not as good at giving me tips as someone else.” Chase looks over.

“Like Kyle?” She shakes her head no. “Alright, who do I have to keep an eye on?”

“You. Your tips are always the best because they come from the heart..” He then gives her a mocked shocked expression. “Chessiest pick-up line?” He nods his head as they both laugh. “Please tell me you’re not going to Denver by yourself…..”

“No, Ryan and Erin are coming with me.” It was now Sarina’s turn to look surprised.

“Erin? She’s back from Ireland?” Chase nods his head, now nervous at the mention.

“She flies in early tomorrow morning actually. I hope you don’t mind that I asked Ryan, and he said that she wanted to come along for support…” Sarina bites her tongue as she couldn’t help but have a couple odd feelings considering what happened the last time the three of them were together – even if Chase was intoxicated in the process. However, she also knew that she could trust him and if Erin meant that much to be there, she wasn’t going to stand in her way.

“No, not at all. I’m actually glad because then it gives me comfort that you’re okay. Now I can focus on trying to sling some dirt…” He then pulls up his phone, loading a video, before handing it over.

“Watch this for motivation. I saw it this morning, and it’s stuck with me. Rather than running or dreading a situation, we should be blessed to have this chance….”

https://twitter.com/FootballUGA/status/1019360809422639104

Wednesday July 18, 2018 – Eldora Raceway

Sarina just lets out a sigh as she leans back against the truck.

“Ah shit, why did I do that?” She immediately questions, standing up as she feels dirt all against the back of her.

It just added to the frustration of the day as the first practice hadn’t gone as planned – no surprise – ranked 15th quickest on the speed chart. She also didn’t feel totally comfortable in the truck, not sure if the handling was off or she wasn’t sliding it just enough. Seeing her teammate Logan Seavey at the top of the board made her feel more towards the second option, unfortunately.

Worst of all, she was wishing that she was in Denver right now with Chase, there to support him, knowing a whole tirade of emotions were probably filling his mind right now. It also didn’t help knowing that Erin was there, and her mind trying to play tricks in a multitude of scenarios that could happen.

“Hey,” she hears and puts on her best smile as Logan Seavey walks over. She knew to be polite to her new teammate, even if they were just working together for this race.

“Hey,” she replies as the smile remains on her face, still trying to brush off the dirt.

“Rookie mistake in leaning against the truck?” She lets out a small chuckle realizing how ridiculous she probably looked as she nods her head.

“I’m so used to doing that everywhere else. Frustrated, waiting to just go off on my thoughts to Rudy, leaned back against it. Look at this – you’re the rookie, yet I’m making the mistakes.”

“I take it you’re not a dirt girl?” She shakes her head no as he begins to help brush the dirt off. “There, it’s all gone – except your ass, but I’m going to be the gentleman here.” She then smiles a little as she keeps her eyes locked on him.

“I see you’re already pretty comfortable out there….” She then glances motions towards the board, before returning her eyes back to him. “Got any tips?”

“Keep pinching it more than you think you should as she’ll stick with the track conditions. Just about where you feel you’re over that edge, you’ll be right on the money.” She nods her head, accepting. That seemed like sound advice and went with her thoughts earlier.

“Thanks, I appreciate the tips.”

“Maybe later we can hang out a little…” She nods her head, easily accepting. For a first meeting, he didn’t seem like a bad guy and it was never bad to have a couple extra friends.

“I wouldn’t mind that at all. I may have to return the favor and give you a couple asphalt tips for a change if you get a chance.” She then sees Rudy heading over their way. “If you would excuse me right now, though, as Rudy and I need to go over stuff for second practice.”

“I better get back to my guys, anyway. Nice talking to you.” She then watches Logan head off, not noticing the boyish grin that had formed on the young man’s face in the process.

Wednesday July 18, 2018 – Delaware

Chase walks down the hall with Ryan and Erin toe, taking a deep breath in the process, as he reaches the desk.

“May I help you?” The secretary asks as Chase clears his throat. Why did he suddenly feel nervous?

“I am here with regards to a paternity test,” he answers as the secretary just continues to give him a dull glance.

“Name?” Second time in three days that he hadn’t been recognized. What was happening?

“Chase Elliott.” He watches her furiously type information into the computer, waiting a couple minutes.

“The paternity of Ms. Alison Reynolds’ baby, correct?” He nods his head. “Please head into Room B. A court officer will be in there shortly to take your DNA sample.”

“Thank you.” Chase then heads down the hall as the pair of Blaneys follow silently behind.

“What crawled up her ass and died?” Ryan asks, as Erin gives him a smack. “What? She seemed grouchy!”

“She was just being formal, which you need to be in this line of work,” Erin answers as they follow Chase into the room.

“A little politeness would be a change. You know a smile can do millions to brighten someone’s day.” Erin then flashes a smile at Ryan.

“How’s that, cheeky? Is your day made now?” Ryan then gives her a playful smack as Chase just rolls his eyes.

“Are you guys always like this?” He wonders, catching their attention.

“Chase, man, we’re sorry we’re not taking this seriously,” Ryan immediately apologizes as Erin places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“No, keep it coming; it’s a good distraction.” Ryan then looks over at Erin with a grin.

“Hear that? He gave me permission to smack you!” Chase then looks over shocked as Erin flips Ryan the bird. “You can go stick that where the sun don’t shine.”

“Momma wouldn’t be happy to hear your tone boy,” Erin retorts back as the door opens. The pair then fall silent as the officer sits before Chase.

“Formality is the name of the game and making sure everything is done by the book is important, “ the officer states. “Ms. Reynolds was taken into a room with an officer and doctor, who performed the sample testing as discussed in the courts. The officer then took the same directly from the doctor, got Ms. Reynolds to sign off, and then left the room. Therefore, we know the sample collected from the mother is without question. We do need to follow the same guidelines of procedure with the second sample. Do you understand so far?”

“Absolutely,” Chase states as he takes a calming deep breath, wishing those nerves would disappear.

“I need proof that you are who you identify as.” Chase was a little confused, but pulled out his wallet, dropping his driver’s license on the table and sliding it over to the officer. “Thank you.” The officer scans it using the scanner behind him, printing a copy immediately that goes in the small box he brought in. He then hands it back over. “Have you been through DNA sampling before?”

“No.”

“Trust me, this guy doesn’t go making random babies with random mommas just because he’s famous,” Ryan adds, earning a smack from Erin who tries to keep a straight face.

“Who are you?” The officer then asks, catching Ryan’s immediate attention as Chase just looks down at the table, shaking his head.

“Ryan Blaney, his best friend. I am just here for morale support. I apologize if my comment was out of lin-”

“You can be supportive by remaining quiet or else I will have to ask you to leave. We have an important procedure to follow and your jokes don’t help matters.” Chase would beg to differ as a nice light relief from the butterflies he was feeling. “We collect our DNA sample from the potential father via cheek swab. You will simply take the stick that I am going to hand you, swab the inside of your cheek before me, showing me as you do so, and hand directly back to me.”

“Understood,” Chase says as he keeps his eyes locked back on the officer. He then takes the stick, swabs the inside of his cheek as instructed, before handing it back over. He then watches as it placed in the box, and sealed.

“Thank you,” the officer states. “I am going to hand you a piece of paper, and you are going to sign, agreeing that the procedure was followed accordingly, along with agreeing to whatever results may surface.” Chase nods his head, doing so as requested.

“When do we get the results?”

“48 hours and we will have the resul-“ There was no way he was flying to Denver during race weekend.

“I’m scheduled to be in New Hampshire for a race. I will not be available to attend a court hearing to hear these results.” The officer nods, as he looks over the package.

“We can have an officer of the courts deliver you the results at New Hampshire Speedway directly if requested.” Chase nods his head, accepting. The only other option was to wait until next week and the longer they waited, the worse the feeling would probably get.

It wasn’t long after before they were headed out of the offices, set to the board the plane and fly up to Eldora.

“Are you okay?” Ryan asks as they reach the airport.

“I felt like I just went through the biggest exam of my life and I have no idea whether I failed or passed,” Chase answers as they walk across the tarmac. “I know it should just be procedure and we’re going to have proof that she’s playing me, but my mind still is playing tricks. What if?”

“You never made mention of there being a possibly that she’s telling the truth…” Erin offers as Chase glances back at her.

“Everything my gut says will tell you that she isn’t because I don’t remember her actually physically going that far, Erin. But I also have my doubts because what if I am blacking it out?” Ryan shakes his head knowing that couldn’t be true.

“You’re not the type to do that, though,” Ryan comments. “You always face every situation head on, and are the hardest judge on yourself because you find every single fault that you did wrong and ways to do better. You wouldn’t just forget or black that out. You’d be trying to find every fault in yourself for allowing it to happ-”

“But what if I blacked it out because I couldn’t handle that? I put off going to therapy forever. I could’ve blacked it out for the same reason.” Ryan understood the doubts, but wasn’t ready to buy into it at all.

“You put off therapy out of your own pride in thinking that you could handle it by yourself. This is totally different Chase….” Chase lets out a sigh as they reach the plane.

“Maybe I’m just over-reacting, maybe I’m just giving her the power that she doesn’t deserve to deceive me again. But until I have those results in my hand on Friday, I will not stop questioning it because there’s a chance.” He then unlocks the door, throwing his bag inside.

“How would there be a chance if they didn’t have sex?” Erin questions out loud as Ryan glances back at his sister.

“There isn’t because they didn’t have sex, or else he would’ve told us,” Ryan answers. “She’s still playing games with him….” Ryan then backs up, so Erin can enter the plane first, before following her inside.

“Regardless what it says, though, it’ll work out. You have us here for you, always.” Chase glances back at the pair with a small smile.

“Thank you for coming today,” he comments before placing on the headset. “Ready to go dirt tracking?”

The Tale of Love & Racing; Sarina’s Story – Chapter 91: A Pool Slip-Up

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.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 85: “I think you’re drunk.”

Tuesday June 19, 2018 – Dublin, Ireland

The afternoon had been fun for the group, as there were more interesting aspects to the making of Irish Whiskey than they had realized, and even some of the history had been intriguing too. Oh yeah, and the consumption was obviously a highlight of the group,

“Chase, are you sure you can walk?” Erin asks with a laugh as they head towards the exit.

“I told you – I am fine,” Chase comments as Ryan just rolls his eyes.

“And here he was worried about you,” Ryan offers as Erin just smirks. It was actually kind of nice payback seeing him feeling more than she was.

“I don’t think we should do the other tour today as planned,” Erin comments as they had planned to do the Guinness Beer tour that same day as well. Obviously this declaration wouldn’t go over well with Ryan considering he had been looking forward to that since landing in Dublin.

“Oh come on, we will be fine,” Chase says as he wraps an arm around Erin’s shoulders.

“Are you sure about that buddy? Because if I am being honest, I think you’re drunk.” That just brought on a laughing response from Chase in return.

“Definitely drunk,” Ryan declares.

Knowing they had to keep him out of trouble and wanting to watch the effect of the alcohol begin to wear off slowly, Erin had decided to take the long walk back through town, followed by a light meal at one of her favorite spots.

Along the way, they passed by a children’s park – which immediately saw Chase stop with a smile.

“Erin, come play with me!” He lets out as he makes his way over. Erin looks over at Ryan concerned, who just shrugs his shoulders in response.

“Maybe another time,” Erin plays it off. “Come on Chase…”

“Just one ride, please?” She was almost ready to laugh at him begging, though then looked on surprised as he got on one of the round-abouts. She looked on even more shocked when Ryan took out his phone, sharing on Snapchat as Chase got himself going around fast, before it came to a slow stop.

“Are you alright?” Ryan asks, now laughing at Chase’s behavior.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Chase answers as he tries to remain steady on his feet. “Let’s go…”

“Oh boy….” Ryan just follows along behind as Erin could only wonder what as going to happen next. She hadn’t been used to seeing either of them drunk, so it was certainly a learning experience as she went along.

“Erin, you’re amazing….” Chase then stops, wrapping an arm around her shoulders as she just flashes a smile back in return.

“I think you’re pretty cool too,” she offers, easily accepting the gesture.

“I want to spend the rest of the week with you.” She now wondered how much was honesty and how much was drunkenness. Regardless, she wasn’t going to deny her dream coming true. It was okay to live out a fantasy once in awhile, right?

“I wouldn’t mind doing the same with you, too. But you do have to go to Sonoma this weekend….” That just brought out a long sigh from Chase as he wasn’t about to let Erin go,

“Ryan, do I have to go turn left and right?” Ryan simply nods his head as he didn’t know what to think of these events. “Damn…..”

“I think you’re going to do a great job this weekend, though. You won in Canada, remember?” Ryan smiles as he also knew the answer to that question for himself, too.

“But I like it here and its fun with you and you’re amazing, and I just like the time we’re spending together….” He then turns to face her, snagging a kiss, before skipping off ahead.

“Did that just happen?” Ryan could only stand there shocked as he watched Chase, before looking towards Erin.

“You know he didn’t mean that like it looked, right?” Ryan offers and Erin slowly nods her head. “I mean it, Erin! He loves Sarina and he can’t wait to marry her and be with her for the rest of his life. Do not dare think that meant anymore than it did. Do not dare think of doing anyth-”

“I get it, Ryan,” Erin cuts him off. “Remember when I said I understood where things were? That includes knowing that he’s drunk right now and things just happen during that time. At least he kissed me and not some stranger.”

Ryan knew that was a positive he could take away from the experience, but yet he just hoped that nothing more was said or come about as they didn’t need anymore drama. Besides, this trip was supposed to be an escape from all of that.

Wednesday June 20, 2018 – Dublin, Ireland

“Are you still watching that video?” Chase asks as he adjusts himself slightly in the seat, ready to fly home.

“I’m sorry but it’s worth every single laugh at your expense,” Ryan answers with a chuckle as Chase rolls his eyes.

“I can’t believe how drunk I got….” Ryan couldn’t help but agree with him. “How much whiskey did I end up sampling anyway?”

“I don’t even remember how many glasses or flavors. Do you have any memories?” Chase closes his eyes, as he nods his head.

“I remember the first half of the tour – all the history that they talked about. Then he got into how they developed different flavors, and started suggesting some flavors to try and previous ways they had gone about it. From there on, it begins to get blurry.” Ryan wasn’t surprised given how the rest of the day went. But he did wonder about the kiss, still.

“Do you remember anything after we left?” Chase shakes his head no. “Are you sure?”

“Is there something you’re not telling me?” Ryan knew he should’ve shut up immediately.

“Absolutely no-“

“That’s a lie. What are you hiding?” Ryan immediately swallowed the lump in his throat.

“Don’t tell Erin I told you because I told her I wasn’t going to tell you.” Chase rolls his eyes immediately. What was with all the secrets? “You kissed her.”

“I did what?” Ryan looks directly at Chase.

“You kissed her after we went to the park.” Chase’s jaw drops immediately.

“Please tell me that she knew I was drunk….”

“Oh, that was obvious.” Chase lets out a small sigh.

“She tells me about this crush and I say no big deal, and then I kiss her. How lovely is that?” Ryan nods his head.

“I was worried, too. But she talked me down immediately and assured that there was no problem. You don’t need to worry.” Chase wanted to let it go easily too, but that kiss combined with Alison didn’t feel good.

“I’ve been so loyal to Sarina and now thrown that away twice in a year. Who does that?”

“I know that but it doesn’t change what happened. I had a choice with Erin.”

“Least it was Erin and Sarina would understand.” Chase knew that more than likely but that didn’t cure his thoughts.

“You’re not going to tell, are you?” Ryan shakes his head no. “I know you’re righ-“

“But there’s enough going on. I get it, Chase. Let’s just enjoy these last moments of peace and tranquility.”

Wednesday June 20, 2018 – Charlotte, North Carolina

Heading inside the house, his mind had totally forgotten about what had happened as all he could think about was seeing his girl. While Ireland had been amazing, and the friendship with Erin was special, he couldn’t deny how much he had missed Sarina the entire time.

“I’m home!” He lets out as he sets his bags down, not caring about them right now. He knew he should unpack and wash everything, considering he’d be heading out to Sonoma tomorrow, but that wasn’t important.

“I’m upstairs,” he hears and smiles as he heads up the stairs. He figured that she’d be packing her stuff for Gateway as she liked to always be prepared for trips.

Though as he reaches the doorway of the bedsroom, he stops instantly, jaw dropping at the sight before him. Whether it was how the dress showed off the curves, or how toned her legs were from working out, or the thoughts running through his mind in seeing her lick the lollypop, he felt hard immediately.

“Is there a problem, Chase?” She asks as she slowly stands up and makes her way over, wrapping her arms around his neck. He just shakes his head no as her lips find his. “I missed you, and figured I’d give you a proper greeting back home.”

“I can’t deny how much I missed you, too….” he lets out as he picks her up, letting her legs wrap around his waist as he carries her over to the bed. “Did you at least have fun with Lindsay?”

“Yeah, I did – as well as Christopher.” Chase couldn’t but hesitate at hearing that, considering his own experience with Erin. “Did you have fun in Ireland?”

“It was exactly what I needed. There’s so many spots that I want to take you to show you.” Despite how things may have gone in parts and the tension that laid there now, he couldn’t deny the fun that was had along the way.

“Maybe in the off-season…” She then runs her hands up underneath her shirt. “Now, how about we make the most of the time we have together?”

“36 hours….” As she lays back on the bed and he lays over her, his lips find his way to hers once again, taking them in completely, with her slipping his t-shirt off over his head in between.

“Better make every single second of that worth it….” He had plans to do that as he reached around, slowly pulling down the zipper on the back of her dress.

“Then why are you still wearing this?” She then tugs on the waistline of his jeans, grabbing his manhood as she does.

“The same reason you’re damn well wearing this boy…” He then smirks at her.

“You better do something about that then.” She just smiles as she undoes the button, letting them slide down his legs.

Friday June 22, 2018 – Gateway Motorsports Park

With having just finished the debrief following the first practice session, Sarina sits back as she loads the Cup Series Sonoma practice results.

Things had been going well for her so far in Gateway, as she was second quickest in the first practice with her teammate Christian Eckes topping the charts. She also wasn’t too put off by Chase’s practice results, seeing that he was 13th and 15th in the pair of sessions at Sonoma. She then sends him a quick message, adding that she’ll make sure to Facetime later that night once the ARCA race was over.

“Texting the boyfriend again?” Todd Gilliland teases, which Sarina just flips him the bird in return. “Christopher was right – you guys are addicted to each other.”

“What’s wrong with madly being in love?” Sarina questions as Todd just shrugs his shoulders. “And Christopher can tease all he wants, but we know how much he loves Morgan.” She then places her hand on Todd’s leg. “You just need to find yourself a girl now.”

“Careful getting cuddly there, as some rumors may start flying,” Christian comments, earning a curious glance from both Sarina and Todd.

“Everybody knows how much Chase and I love each other. Can’t you tell by the engagement, or the time we spend together?” Christian puts his hands up in defense immediately.

“I’m not saying it’s not true, Sarina. Even though I’m not around here, I get the relationship and I’m not judging. I’m just saying the outside perspective.” Sarina crosses her arms, still not liking the direction of his comments. “We all know you guys are doing whatever you can to keep the Alison trial under wraps so there’s not much discussion. However, there’s the rumors about the fact that she’s pregnant with Chase’s chil-”

“Full of shit just trying to screw with us!” Todd looks over surprised by the instant outburst.

“But what if it’s true? Everybody wonders the dynamics and whether you can both survive a rocky ship if she is pregnant, considering that’s something that you can’t do while driv-”

“How about you just mind your own fucking business?!?” Todd’s jaw drops even further as he glances between the pair. “Am I hearing this right, Gilliland?”

“Christian isn’t lying as there’s been some musings around the garage with that coming to light,” Todd starts carefully as he could see that Sarina was on edge. “Everybody knows that there’s been rough times, and it begs the question for some – hence the generalization that Christian made. It’s better to be aware of the situation, anyway.” Todd then looks over at Christian. “That said, you crossed the line in your comment about her ability to have a baby. How do you know that? She could easily take some time off, or have a baby once she’s done racing….” Todd then looks back over at Sarina, seeing the change in her demeanor. “Or maybe there’s something else in the cards that’s affecting things. You just shouldn’t accuse like you did.”

“I’m sorry Sarina,” Christian immediately apologizes as Sarina keeps her eyes locked on the pavement below.

“I know you didn’t mean anything wrong by your question as I understand your curiosity,” she starts quietly. With Todd’s explanation, she knew that she couldn’t let him have the harshest end of the stick as her teammate was right – despite her own personal feelings. “I get everybody’s thoughts and curiousity. You’re right there’s a chance that Chase could be the father, but he says he isn’t so I’m sticking with that. Beyond that, I have nothing to say on the topic.”

“That’s fine. Let’s talk about our plan for next practice….” Sarina takes a deep breath as she glances back at the truck, trying to get her head back into the game.

She completed the whole discussion with her teammates, before heading over to the truck, reaching in for her helmet and gloves.

“Are you okay?” Rudy asks as he places a hand on her shoulder, and she simply nods her head in return. “I overheard the discussion with Todd and Christian. Christian had no right to bring that up-”

“He doesn’t know what’s going on, so how was he supposed to know how it’d bother me?” She questions back in return as she cleans the visor. “That’s the hardest part, Rudy. Nobody knows what’s going on, with the miscarriage and infertility, so baby discussions just happen out of nowhere. They don’t realize that it’s killing me inside because I keep hearing the words over and over in my head that I can’t do that myself. I don’t want to be that person that lets it bother them, but damn sometimes I can’t help it.”

“That’s understandable. But Sarina, I can tell you that you’re one of the strongest people that I know and if anybody can fight through whatever this storm brings, it’s you and Chase together. You’ll figure it out. It may take some time, but you’ll do what you need to do.” She nods her head, accepting.

“I think the hardest part is waiting for that second appointment that seems to be taking forever. I get that this specialist is super great at what she does and super busy and booked, but the wait is killing me. I know the chances of a change in her answer are slim, but that chance doesn’t let me close the bo-”

“Chapter, because remember there’s options…” She lets out a sigh, remembering the discussion about that. “Never close the book because you can always continue the story by taking a different path.”

“Can I just say how amazing you are?” Rudy smiles as he wraps an arm around her shoulders, pulling her into a hug.

“You’re equally as amazing, and we’re going to win some more races before this season is over. Now let’s put all of this behind us with some great lap times, okay?” She nods her head, accepting, before climbing in the truck.

The speed chart certainly didn’t show this session well by the end, as she was only 10th quickest. However, that didn’t bother her and Rudy, knowing they were working on long-run stuff and the handling of the truck. In that regard, she felt confident based on how it felt, and the fact that she was second quickest on the 10-lap average chart.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 84: “Now what do we do?”

Saturday, June 16 – Ireland

Sitting in the car glancing at the go-kart track from the car, they all let out a sigh together. Their journey was for nothing as there was no way that they were going to chance going out in the rain doing this.

“I’m hungry,” Ryan lets out as he turns the key in the ignition. “Let’s go find some food and continue heading to Dublin. There’s no sense sitting here all day.” He then turns back on the road as Erin re-routes the GPS to head to Dublin now.

“Why didn’t we pack any snacks?” Chase asks as he checks throughout the backseat of the car for anything. “We fail at road trips.”

“Blame Erin.” Erin then looks over at Ryan shocked. “You’re the one that said we should go here, and take this ridiculous route.”

“Right, let’s blame your sister for the rain and your lack of preparation skills considering you always get hungry first.” Erin then smirks as her eyes remain locked on Ryan.

“Thank you Chase,” she replies as he gets back comfortable in the backseat as Ryan just rolls his eyes. “How about you also drive carefully this time?”

“Do you want to drive instead?” Ryan challenges and Erin shakes her head no. “Then no arguments, please.”

Ryan follows the route as silence falls on everybody in the car – no doubt nobody wanting to say anything out of crankiness due to hunger. The route takes them through several small cities, that strangely not a single place to grab a snack could be found in sight.

Feeling they were stuck in the middle of nowhere, they finally landed upon the city of Leixlip, which gave them some hope immediately as they rolled up into a town.

“Let’s try this place,” Chase offers, noticing a small pub on the corner of the road. Ryan, not caring as long as he got some food, pulled into the parking lot. With the rain having disappeared, they were able to all get out without fear of getting soaked this time. Ryan led them to the doors, where they headed inside, instantly set to leave immediately. “Maybe this was a bad idea…”

“Ya think?” Ryan questions, earning a stern glance from Chase. But it had seemed they stepped back in time with the sights inside of the place, feeling like they were back in the 1870s with the décor and style. The smell also matched the sight it seemed, too. “It’s almost like they haven’t ever cleaned this place.”

“Do we trust anything from those counters?” Ryan made a face as he saw the layer of dust that lined the bar. As the boys stood back nervous, Erin took charge and walked up to the man the bar. Ryan was already preparing to go into full protective mode given the glance she got in return.

“Do you have any food?” Erin asks, not seeing any menu anywhere to read but hinting there may be a kitchen behind the door.

“Food?” The guy repeats in a heavy accent that made him barely understandable.

“What?” Erin felt rude saying it like that, but it seemed to match the service they were getting.

“Maybe we should go….” Ryan suggests as he places a hand on her shoulder.

“Beer?” The guy questions and Ryan shakes his head no.

“Food. F-O-O-D.” The guy then gives him a puzzled glance as Ryan lets out a long sigh. “Erin, let’s go.” She then lets out a sigh, following him back outside and into the car.

“Remind me to always pack food when traveling with you two,” Chase comments as he surveys the area. “I feel like I’m never going to find food.”

“Ah look at this Erin, the poor superstar is going to waste away to nothing,” Ryan teases, earning a smack in the back of the head from Chase. “Hey! You could’ve packed your own smacks, dumbass!”

They return back on the road, continuing the journey, fingers crossed they found something soon.

Saturday, June 16 – Iowa Speedway

Sarina leans against the truck, giving a shrug of her shoulders as Rudy and Lindsay walk over.

“I had to give it a shot,” she offers with a smile on her face. “50 feet earlier, and that thing would’ve stuck perfectly.”

Running second on the last lap to Brett Moffit, she tried the “full send” move going into the final corner, planning to slide up in front of him. However, a little misjudgment, and she made contact with the wall instead en route to crossing the line second.

“Hey, I appreciate the effort,” Rudy compliments her with a pat on the shoulder.

“Even if I banged in the whole right side?” She questions and he nods her head.

“That’s easily fixable anyway. You did a great job!”

“Hey, you’ll make Sportscenter at least,” Lindsay adds earning a chuckle from Sarina.

“We’re going to win races soon Rudy, and lots at that,” she says and he simply nods his head in response.

“We’re just saving those wins for the playoffs,” he adds earning a smile back in return.

After a series of interviews, Rudy and the team headed to the garage for post-race inspection. Lindsay headed back to the trailer, set to relax with how she was feeling, while leaving Sarina to head to the media center for post-race interviews. Those didn’t take as long as expected as it seemed the media didn’t have as many questions as she predicted. After thanking them for their time, she headed out, ready to meet back up with Lindsay.

“How about leaving those moves to the professionals?” She hears and instantly chuckles as she recognized the voice immediately. She then slowed down, allowing Christopher to catch up with her.

“I thought I could steal a page out of your playbook,” she offers as he just chuckles back in response.

“You don’t have enough dirt experience to know the timing, sweetheart.” She just rolls her eyes, but couldn’t help but smile in response. “But I do applaud you for making that last lap very exciting and interesting, and I applaud the effort. That was a great attempt at stealing the lead – enough to get you on Sportscenter.”

“That’s what Lindsay said, too.” Christopher smiles as he had seen Lindsay hanging out with her earlier in the weekend.

“So you’re spending time with Lindsay while the boys explore Ireland?” Sarina nods her head in response.

“With everything going on, Chase needed some time to just escape and not think about anything. So when Ryan suggested the trip, I immediately agreed for his sake. In the same token, I could see Ryan was nervous based on Lindsay being pregnant and dealing with some sickness so I agreed to keep an eye on her. Besides, we get our girl time.” Christopher could easily see how the plan fell together. However, he also knew another layer to the topic at hand.

“No hard feelings in babysitting somebody else whose pregnant after hearing the new-”

“Hey now, that’s not locked in stone yet.” She then stops, taking a deep breath. “I didn’t mean to get defensive.” Christopher stops and turns back to face her.

“That’s why I asked, though. I know you better than most, Sarina. I learned a lot about you during our time at KBM together, remember?” She nods her head, knowing how some wondered if she was with Christopher as much as Chase. “But I know you were told that you can’t carry a baby full-term so I just have to wonder if that’s playing with your thoughts as you watch Lindsay.”

“To be honest, I haven’t given it a single thought – until now. I’ve kept both situations separate because truthfully speaking, I’m so happy for my best friend. I’m glad that she’s found someone that loves her and appreciates her. I’m glad that she’s ready to build a future with Ryan, and I can’t wait to meet the little one when he or she is born. My appreciation and love for Lindsay, Ryan, and that little one makes it easy.” Christopher could accept that and see the reasoning, but the topic wasn’t going away just like that.

“But you got defensive because it’s not set in stone yet, so I know that it’s bothering you somewhere.” She then lets out a sigh, as she glances down at the ground.

“I’ve been trying to bring myself to accept the news and move forward. I’ve been trying to look at the options as discussed. It’s not an easy reality to face at times, Christopher, especially when we’ve talked about having these perfect dreams of a future with children.” She then glances up to look into his eyes. “How am I supposed to just accept this when Chase wakes up and says he had a dream of us having two children together –a boy or a girl? How can I accept this when I know I’m ripping away not only my dream, but his?”

“Have you talked about it with him?” She nods her head, remembering those discussions since New Years.

“Except when I heard about the news for sure at first and knowing what he had just gone through with Alison, I have told him everything Christopher. We’ve talked about it and we both know where we stand. That’s why we’re set to accept the news…” He places a hand on her shoulder.

“It’s okay to be upset or have reservations about it.” She then lets out a sigh.

“I know, Christopher….” There was still one lingering thought, though.

“Now you mentioned not set in stone….”

“We’re getting a second opinion. We’re in contact with one of the best doctors in the States and want her to look over my files and situation to see if there’s anything that maybe was missed. I want to know for 100% certainty before I move forward with any of those options. Is that fair?”

“Absolutely. I would want to do the same thing. So when is this appointment?” She then lets out a sigh as she glances at her phone.

“She’s really busy so it’s hard to get an appointment in her schedule, and then make that match with our schedules. There was an opening soon, but I don’t know if Chase is available and I don’t want to go alone.” Christopher keeps his eyes locked on hers.

“If you absolutely run into a spot where you’re going to be forced to go alone because something came up, don’t hesitate to call me. Same thing if you wake up in the middle of the night, or anything. Just call me.” She wanted to believe that, but she also felt another fear.

“What about Morgan?” Christopher knew she was referring to his girlfriend.

“She understands our friendship, and respects it – same way that Chase gets us, and I get why you and Chase go so well together. You don’t have to worry about a single thing. Call me, or even just text me. I don’t care what time because I will answer you.” A small smile forms on her face as she reaches out to give him a hug.

“Thank you. That means so much to me…” He easily wraps his arms back around her.

“Remember when I told you that our friendship doesn’t end just because we’re not teammates? I meant that, Sarina. I’m sorry but you’re stuck with me for life.” She then chuckles.

“Ah shucks….”

***********

Saturday, June 16 – Dublin, Ireland

“I can’t believe I missed this race to get lost in freaking bloody of nowhere with you two,” Chase comments as he watches a replay of the Truck Series race at the hotel room.

“Are you sure you got enough food there?” Ryan asks, noticing the bag that Chase had opened up.

“I was hungry, man. Don’t judge me!” Ryan just rolls his eyes as he takes a bite into his burger.

“I’m just saying that you may need to step up your work-out program when we get back.” Chase then looks over a little surprised.

“I bet I can lift more than your skinny ass.” It was now Ryan’s turn to glance back surprised.

“Dude, I’m a ninja! That’s better than some strong muscle man!” Chase laughs, but he knew that Ryan was right about the ninja comment. He saw the wall jump that Ryan did, jumping on a mat twice as high as him without much effort.

“I want to know where that comes from….”

“I certainly didn’t get those genes,” Erin adds as she glances over from her spot.

“I think you’re doing pretty fine though,” Chase comments, earning a eye roll from Ryan.

“What was that for, Blaney?” Ryan glances over at her. “Yeah, I saw the eye roll.

“The standing on the balcony together, the flirting comments – I thought I told you alre-” Ryan starts.

“Ryan, take a chill pill!” Chase lets out as Erin gives him a stern glance. “She told me, alright? I know that she had a crush on me for the longest time. I know how she felt then, and how she feels now. We talked about that, among other things on the balcony. You don’t need to worry over the smallest of things.”

“Seriously?” Chase nods his head as Erin felt like hiding her head immediately. She had promised Ryan to never let Chase know that.

“I was confessing some of my feelings about Alison, and then I went into some comments of our friendship and how I appreciate that. She then told me.” Ryan keeps his eyes locked on Erin.

“Seriously?” Chase then glances between the pair.

“I promised Ryan that I would never tell you,” Erin fills him in as Chase glances back towards Ryan. “He was afraid that it would make things awkward, and messy.”

“Well I am going to tell him the same thing that I told you – nothing is changing,” Chase comments. “We’re friends, we’re close, and that’s a fact. We’re just going to carry forward without any issues. Is that okay with you, Ryan?” Ryan slowly nods his head accepting.

“I just didn’t want her to mess up things with you and Sarin-” Ryan starts.

“It’s not!” Chase and Erin say together, before glancing at each other with a chuckle.

“Just imagine if she saw that right now, Chase.” Chase glances at his phone, loading up a photo from Iowa that had popped up on his twitter feed earlier, throwing the phone over to Ryan.

“And what am I supposed to think in seeing this, Ryan?” Chase questions as Ryan glances between the photo and Chase shocked. “Don’t look at me all shocked. She’s not cheating on me with Bell, same as I’m not cheating on her with Erin. We both respect each other’s close friendships with other people, even if opposite sex, and that’s all. That’s what you call finding respect and balance with your relationship, it took us time, and sure we had some pretty nasty fights along the way, but we’ve found that. You don’t need to worry anymore.”

Are you sure?” Ryan questions as Chase snatches his phone back.

“Trust me. I wouldn’t have given her a ring if that wasn’t the case, Ryan.”

“Now, what do you say we play a game of monopoly and let this all go?” Erin offers as she goes into the cupboard.

“I bet I am going to beat you both,” Chase comments as he clears off the table for them.

“I call being banker,” Ryan states as his eyes don’t leave Chase. He wanted to stick with those words and believe that everything would remain the same after this trip. However, he wasn’t about to write that in final writing yet.

Monday, June 18 – Dublin, Ireland

A good day later, and the whole questionable future was forgotten in their eyes. Erin and Chase had carried on as usual friends, with Ryan forgetting every bit of doubt that he had initially. Maybe it wasn’t so bad that Chase knew after all.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Chase questions as they walk up to the front doors of the John Jameson & Son Irish Whiskey Factory.

“As long as we don’t allow him to consume much,” Erin answers with a chuckle as they head inside the doors.

“Hey now, what’s a tour without a little consumption?” Ryan asks, earning a eye roll from both Erin and Chase.

“Just make sure to pace yourself there boy,” Chase comments as he places a hand on his shoulder. “I don’t want to be babysitting you later.” Ryan then glances over at Chase surprised.

“Are you sure it’s me that we should be worried about?” Chase then glances over at Ryan.

“Oh, you’re referring to lightweight over there.” Erin just flips them both the bird quickly as Ryan laughs.

“I actually am talking about the superstar in the middle here.” Erin then sticks her tongue out as Chase looks on surprised at them both.

“Me? When have you had to worry about me during this vacation, or any vacation for that matter?” Ryan then smirks as he takes out his phone, set to scroll through photos. Chase immediately places his hand on top of the phone. “That was a one time incide-”

“Are you sure about that, buddy?” Chase nods his head.

“Are we just going to stand here all day or can I find out how they make this stuff, please?” Erin questions as she stands at the front desk ready for the tour.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 83: “I’ll always be here if you need a friend, Chase.”

Friday, June 15 – Galway, Ireland

With having finished breakfast, Erin led the boys out into the middle of town, spinning around a pole as they both looked on with a glance of confusion.

“Should I go back and check if there was any alcohol mixed in with that smoothie?” Ryan offers, as Chase shares a quick laugh. He laughed even harder when Erin reached out closer to him giving Ryan a smack. “No sibling love, huh?”

“I thought you learned already to not pick on the little sister,” Erin comments as she glances over towards Chase. “Am I right?” Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“I know you can fight your battles pretty well,” he offers as Erin just flashes a smile towards Ryan. “But seriously, you do seem a little too cheery.”

“I just love that my two favorite people are here with me today.” She then stands between them, wrapping her arms around their shoulders. “So you both lamented to me how much you enjoy the culture, the scenes, and how you couldn’t explore enough last time. So I figured that you could both just explore today. Check out the pubs, town market, whatever you want.”

“Are you sure you can trust him?” Erin glances over at Ryan, sticking her tongue out.

“I figure he’ll be safe with us both babysitting him.”

“What is this? Pick on Ryan day?” Ryan asks as he goes off ahead of the pair.

“He’s such an easy target,” Erin answers as she follows, earning another chuckle from Chase.

The group made their way through the town, stopping at several different spots along the way.

The aunt in Erin was already coming out as she picked some gender neutral items out that she figured her future niece or nephew would absolutely enjoy. The fact that both Lindsay and Emma were pregnant had Erin knowing she’d be busy babysitting in the new year.

Ryan also found some different things that he was certain Lindsay would enjoy, including a new Irish dance outfit as he knew she had grown a liking to every style of dance.

Chase smiled as the last stop worked out perfect for him as he was able to find the perfect gift to take home to Sarina, letting out a sigh as he wished she could’ve enjoyed the vacation given the fun they had the last time in Amsterdam.

A day of exploring was met by the group wanting an evening of relaxation knowing that tomorrow would be another busy day. So it was no surprise they ended back on the beach, taking a dip in the water, before finishing the day off with a classic round of drinks.

Back at the hotel for the night, Chase made sure to video call with Sarina for a good couple of hours, sharing a couple different jokes, before calling it a night.

“Remember our deal. Do you want her to live or die?” Chase swallows the lump in his throat, tries to cut off the tears in his eyes, almost make himself numb as he feels the nerves pick up more.

“Live…” She then pulls his jeans down to his knees, revealing the boxers underneath.

“Every time we meet, you’re going to be like this – exactly how you’re sitting now. Am I clear?” He slowly nods his head as he tries to keep his eyes focused on the phone screen, remembering that he’s doing it for Sarina’s safety, not wanting to think about Alison’s plan. “Good boy….” She then takes off her own shirt, revealing a skinny bra underneath that barely covered her. She follows it by taking off her pants, revealing her thong. “One step at a time….”

“Please….” She had to chuckle at his pleas as she licked her lips, locking her eyes on his brown ones.

“Your wish is in my command.” She then straddles herself on top of him; pushing her body against his, grinding as she may, following the movements she wanted, once again going for the kiss, deepening it against his lips. She kept the process going, as a small moan escaped her lips, before drawing back. “I can see why she likes you so much, and I can’t wait for that special moment….”

“I hate you….” Alison just laughs as she climbs off of him, putting her pants and shirt back on.

“You may say those words, but you were growing hard….” She then grabs the phone off of the table, making her way back out the back door, leaving him sitting there stunned.

Chase sits up in the bed, taking a deep breath as he feels the hot tears rolling down his cheeks. Running his hands through his hair, wiping it out of his face, he lets out a sigh as he glances at the time.

He then slowly stands up, quietly tip toeing through the room to not wake up Ryan or Erin as he makes his way out to the balcony. Slipping the door quietly shut, he leans over the rail, taking a deep breath. Trying to lose his thoughts in the smaller details of Ireland he knew would be one way to erase the thoughts on his mind.

He was set focused on the view until he heard the door behind him open, freezing a little as he watched Erin open it and join him on the balcony before closing it.

“Sorry if I woke you up,” he tells her as he keeps his eyes focused forward. “I tried to come out here quietly.”

“It’s okay Chase,” she comments as she walks over, leaning on the railing beside him. “I can never fully sleep through a night. I always wake up middle of the night, and either look out here or watch some TV before falling back asleep.” She takes a glance at him, noticing the emotions written on his face despite his ability to try and hide it. “Chase…”

“I’m fine Eri-”

“You can tell me if something is going on. You know that I trust you and I will hear you out no matter what it is.” Chase nods his head, accepting, knowing that already. That didn’t mean he wanted to talk about the topic.

“I don’t ever question that. I’ve known you too long to not.” She then places her hand lightly on top of his.

“Then talk to me, Chase. You need to get it off your chest. This doesn’t help you.” He then glances down, taking a deep breath.

“I had a nightmare, okay? I had a flashback to Alison being in my house, seducing me on my couch. Rather than doing the right thing and ignoring her advances, I accepted everything knowing that it was keeping Sarina safe.” He then takes another shaky deep breath. “I know what I did was what I needed to do in that situation as the number one thing was making sure Sarina didn’t get hurt. But it’s not lost on me that I basically cheated on her, betrayed her trust, let someone else get their hands on me.”

“You’re being too hard on yourse-”

“I know I am, and that’s what drives me crazy.” She then looks at him slightly confused. “Every bit of logic tells me that I did the right thing. Every person tells me that I did what I needed to given the situation. Alan says that I did the right thing to protect Sarina. Dad says that I was caught in a trap and manipulated by emotions. But here I stand, knowing that I was the one that accepted it knowing the circumstances.”

“So it’s convincing your heart that you did the right thing?” Chase nods his head.

“It’s gotten easier, but I still struggle with it at tim-”

“And can anybody blame you? This only happened a couple months ago, Chase. Heck, it’s still going on due to this lingering pregnancy and the trial. I know thousands of people that wouldn’t be how far along that you are in dealing with this. Give yourself some damn credit, Chase. You’re doing a heck of a job.” He then looks over at her.

“Do you really mean that?” She nods her head yes.

“Look at how you’ve dealt with the emotions. Look at how far along you are right now. Look at every single step that you’ve done to move forward. On top of that, you’ve handled being the center of the spotlight and all the pressure on you in the process without flinching one bit and showing that this is lingering for you. That takes a lot of strength to put on a face when you’re hurting inside.” She then glances back over the balcony. “I did that for a long time myself, so I know what you mean.”

“That’s why you took this vacation once you sorted everything out?” She nods her head yes.

“I needed some time to get away and give myself the time I needed.” She then looks back over at him. “That’s why I’m glad you agreed to come with Ryan. That’s why I’m going to tell you right now to not be afraid to ask for comfort, or help, or even admit that you need some more time. Take care of yourself.” He then glances down at his hands on the railing.

“I’m just worried when everything comes out. What is everyone going to think?” It was now her turn to look shocked.

“They’re going to admire your strength. They’re going to appreciate how strong you’ve been without showing signs of what happened. They’re going to admire you’re ability to speak up against her and make sure she goes down. Those who look up to you will multiply.” Chase smiles as he remembers the last round of advice with Alan on the similar topic.

“That’s the same thing that Alan sai-”

“It’s the truth, Chase. We wouldn’t lie to you.” He then glances over her, flashing his familiar smile.

“Thank you. Actually, it’s not a bad thing that you came out here now…” She then smiles as she keeps her eyes locked on him, before letting out a sigh as she looks back forward.

“I’ll always be here if you need a friend, Chase. Don’t ever lose that fact because I always want to be there for you.” She then takes a careful deep breath. “I’m also going to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sarina at the beginning, either. I actually wished that she’d fall off a cliff at one point.” Chase looks over really surprised.

“Seriously?” She nods her head yes.

“You can ask Emma.” Chase just shakes his head in disbelief. “I even remember hearing that you guys got engaged and I told her, ‘What the hell is that boy thinking?’ I could think of every single reason to be pissed off at her. But hearing how she’s been there for you, hearing how much she loves and cares about you, and hearing just the perfect ways that you guys to go together – I get it finally, and I’m glad that you found that. I’m truthfully happy for you, and I wish you the best for the future. I hope once you put this behind you, the pair of you can have a life filled with happiness.” Chase smiles back in return.

“That means a lot to me, Erin. I trust you in so many ways and hearing that you appreciate Sarina, I know I’m doing the right thing for certain.” She then nods her head slowly.

“Can I tell you something else without you getting angry or strange?” He nods his head accepting with a glance of confusion. “Ryan is nervous about me spending alone time with you, or calling out Sarina, or anything like that for a reason. I can admit it openly now to your face that I actually had a huge crush on you. Every time you’d hang out with Ryan, I purposely lingered around at some of those times just so I could be closer to you and see you.” Her cheeks start to go red.

“….and I asked you to the banquet…..” Her cheeks go a shade darker.

“I never really reacted much to you asking, knowing that it was more a friendly favor, but inside I was like a little kid screaming for candy. I just wanted the night to go perfectly because here I am getting the dream that I wanted. That’s why I ate up as much of that night as possible, including the dance together at the party afterwards. It meant everything to me, Chase.” She then takes a deep breath. “Maybe my discontent against Sarina was because I wanted that.”

“So why didn’t you say something then?” She then glances back out off the balcony.

“Because I saw the way you looked at her at the Snowball Derby about a year before she even drove for you, and I knew that you’d found your true love. I knew that I’d never get that in return and I didn’t want to see you settle just to make my dreams come true.” She then places her hand back on his. “Chase, you’ll always have a sweet spot in my heart and I’m always going to care about you. You’ll always be my number one crush, but I can stand here as the big girl and admit that you did the right thing for you. You found who you were meant to be with.”

“You’re going to find Mr. Right as well, Erin. You’re pretty special and any guy would be stupid to not go out with you.” She smiles back in return.

“I’m just glad that you’re not running away thinking I’m a crazy stalker.” He then wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“I could never run away from my best friend…”

Saturday, June 16 – Ireland

“So how long is this drive to Dublin?” Chase questions as he gets comfortable in the backseat.

“A couple hours if we were going to straight through,” Erin answers as she lets out a yawn from the passenger seat. “Instead, because we’re going to Pallas, it’ll take about four hours total driving-wise.”

“But it’s totally worth it based on the photos….” Erin nods her head as she gets comfortable herself.

“GPS will guide you boys there.” She then grabs her sweater and puts it over herself. “I’m going to catch a nap.” Chase wasn’t surprised based on their conversation mid-way through the night.

He then checked on his phone for the truck practice results – or any updates at all from Sarina – as Ryan focused on driving. Ryan kept glancing over at Erin, with the odd glance in the mirror at Chase. He had seen them on the balcony and couldn’t help but be curious.

“What did you and Erin discuss this morning?” Ryan asks once he was certain that she was asleep.

“I woke up middle of the night, and she offered a bit of comfort,” Chase brushes it off immediately. he wasn’t about to reveal the confession as he knew that Erin shared that in confidence. While Ryan was aware of the crush, he didn’t need to know that Chase now knew the full details.

“That was nice of her. I mean, she was always good at listening and helping. So, you had another bad dream?” Chase now wished they were talking about the crush instead.

“Yeah….” Chase shifts a little in the back. “I’d rather not talk about it, okay? I’m dealing with it and that’s all I want to leave it at. This weekend is a distraction, remember?” Ryan nods his head, accepting.

“I just realized that you guys were so close there – and if she makes things uncomfortable not realizing that it is because of your relationship with Sarina, feel free to say something.” Chase understood Ryan’s concern but he wasn’t bothered one bit. If there were any doubts, the morning conversation cleared that up.

“There shouldn’t be any problems, but sure – I’ll let you know.” Ryan then lets out a sigh.

“Have you heard anything much from the girls?” Chase shakes his head no as he looks back to his phone relived.

“Things are going great according to Sarina and they’re having fun, ready for a great day in corn country.” Chase then look back towards his phone checking out a post, though immediately looked up as they swerved to the right quick.

“What the hell Ryan?!?” Erin asks as she shoots up awake immediately.

“The tractor was in my lane and almost took us off the road!” Ryan shouts back in response as he keeps both hands solidly on the wheel. “Why is this a freaking single-lane road that they allow those wide-ass tractors on that take a lane and a half?” He then swerves to avoid another one. “See what I mean?”

“Are you sure you can trust that GPS?” Chase questions, as Erin grabs Ryan’s phone off the holder and looks over the map.

“Everybody said to use Waze for the best routes, and it does show us getting there in the best time compared to others,” she offers as she glances through the route. “Welcome to this area of Ireland – it’s single-lanes everywhere.”

“Do you want me to drive, Ryan?” Ryan then glances up at the mirror a little surprised.

“Who has a Cup Series win, Mr. Elliott?” Ryan questions back sticking his tongue out.

“I see how it goes,” Chase comments as Erin rolls her eyes. “Who has two XFINITY Championships, bitch?”

“Who actually has led laps this season and contended for wins?”

“I’m not the one who has been busted for speeding down pit road.”

“I’m not the one who has turned top-fives into barely top-15’s by the end of the da-”

“How about I just drive?” Erin interrupts them, now growing annoyed despite being amused at first. they both then look at her shocked, shaking their heads no. “Okay then…”

“This should be left to the professionals,” Chase offers as he gets back comfortable once again. “Just try to not use your Sonoma lessons here Blaney, okay?”

“That’s why I stay on the actual track unlike someone else in this car,” Ryan jabs back as Chase just rolls his eyes.

A couple more swerves later and the GPS showed they were only about a half hour out from landing at their destination. They all literally began counting down the minutes, with Chase even playing the role of the little asking ‘Are we there yet?’ every so often.

Only five minutes from their destination, the group was excited for the day of fun to come go-karting at one of the largest tracks ever. However, as they were set to pull off the crazy road, the skies opened up with an instant pouring rain.

“Now what are we supposed to do?” Ryan questions, feeling defeated immediately .