Chapter 76: Landing in New Jersey
“When she told me that she had you held downstairs with a bomb, so many things flashed through my mind,” Dale offers. “I was angry. I was upset. I was emotional. I was just…I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to punch her in that moment. However, I couldn’t do that so I simply listened and knew once we landed that I was going to do whatever she wanted to get you back.”
Alyssa shakes her head in disbelief as she hears the details, in total shock of everything that her dad went through that day. She had heard bits and pieces, but didn’t realize just how dramatic and how crazy Mariela was truly was with each of her actions.
She thought she was ready to hear everything, but each detail just continued to shock her more and more. She could only shake her head, and be thankful that Mariela was already dead so she couldn’t go attack her.
“So what happened when you landed in New Jersey?” Alyssa finally asks, wanting to know the detail despite the swirling thoughts in her mind.
“Everybody was escorted off of the plane, except of course myself, Mariela and the pilot,” Dale starts. “The pilot walked over and told us that. She thanked him and asked for him to exit and tell the waiting federal agents that it’d be 10 minutes. She told him that she wanted to clear up some confusion.” Alyssa shakes her head in disbelief.
“More lies? I think the confusion was pretty much cleared up.” Dale sits back and thinks it over.
“Not quite because I didn’t know her whole plan or why she was doing it. So the pilot left, with that understanding. I asked for her to let loose, holding up my hands – she declined. She instead reached in my pocket and through my phone, tossing it awa-”
“You couldn’t get it anyway if you were hand-cuffed so why do that?” Dale shrugs his shoulders.
“Perhaps she thought that I could do some movement that would put enough pressure on the buttons in my pocket – I don’t know.” He then takes a deep breath, thinking back to the conversation that he had with Mariela. “She then said that she was glad the pilot bought the story, or else she would’ve had to do something to hi-”
“That would’ve thrown on suspicion and possibly brought the agents on board. Wouldn’t that solved the problem sooner?” Dale shakes his head no.
“Remember, she had the trigger in her pocket.” Alyssa then rolls her eyes. “I then asked her where you were and the plan that she had in mind. She told me that I’d get the details as she seen fit. She then took her phone out of her pocket, showing me an image of where she had you locked in the luggage compartment.” Alyssa shivers at the thought. “What?”
“I wonder if that’s why I hate tight spaces, because I remember being locked in that tight space.” Dale thinks it over, knowing that could be a possibly. “We’ve already discovered that was a piece of my dreams.”
“It could possible. It would explain that as you don’t get that fear from your mom or I. When I was younger, I’d get shy around big groups of people that I didn’t know. You were the complete opposite, Ms. Princess. You liked to be the talk of the town with your crown and all.” Alyssa laughs as she relaxes back.
“I guess the princess life was made for me, huh? So, what happened next?” Dale thinks it over, trying to put the pieces in the right order.
“I then asked her how she pulled it over and why. She then told me because if she could take you away from me, she could make me do something to you get back. I then asked her what she wanted. She then explained how she made things simple, as I explained in the details to you. She said that it actually helped her pla-”
“She told me if I wanted you back, I had to transfer $10 mill-”
“Wasn’t she doing this in revenge of mom and breaking country law? Wasn’t she doing this for her father? Wasn’t she doing this….Isn’t that why her mom took mom to the country and kidnapped her? I remember mom telling me about that.” Dale shakes his head yes. “So why did she ask for the money if that was the case?”
“I didn’t find out the true reason for her actions till I put the pieces together that she was your mom’s sister and your mom wasn’t dead, but rather kidnapped. I learned that about two weeks later and when I made the trip to Pitronia to get mom back.” Alyssa shakes her head, understanding.
The pieces were starting to come together in her mind. The attack on the plane led to what she heard about happening with her mom from her mom a couple years ago, to what happened in Daytona with her dad and Chase.
The Daytona events – she didn’t know too much on that except her parents were kidnapped, her dad had to run the race despite being in pain and Chase somehow got kidnapped in the process. She knew that’d come out in her discussion with Chase further down the road.
For now, though, she was focused on the rest of the details of the plane. She had one image from her nightmares stuck in her mind that she wondered where it came from.
“So did you agree to the money?” Alyssa finally questions and Dale shakes his head yes. He wanted to ask her about her thoughts, but decided to stay focused on the discussion at hand for the time being.
“I didn’t have any other choice, right? So I agreed to send her the money and to also have my jet available for her to jump on and fly away without being caught. She agreed and walked away, set to see if the money was going through. Well, she didn’t know that if a large chunk of money is transferred, Kelley gets notified. We can call this a security policy that we have in plac-”
“I remember you setting something up like that with my bank account when we opened it. So that’s the reason, incase kidnapped and they want money as arson?” Dale shakes his head yes. “So let me guess – someone snuck on the plane to help you?”
“Steve did. He snuck on while Mariela was at the computer. We went back and forth, with Steve debating ways to help me. I told him that it didn’t matter. I would deal with Mariela. The main thing that mattered was you, and getting you off the plane. So I told Steve where you were and sent him to get you, saying that I’d deal with Mariela and we’d see what happ-”
“What if you hadn’t been able to get off of there? What if something had of happened?” Dale looks over at his daughter and pulls her close.
“I wasn’t thinking about that in the moment. I was thinking about you, and your safety. That’s all that mattered to me. Just be thankful that it worked out and we’re here today, okay?” She shakes her head yes. “So she came back and told me the money transferred successfully. She then told me that she had realized Steve was on the plane, and I fully told her the discuss-”
“I wanted to show her that she could trust my word. I had followed through in transferring the money and I was being honest about Steve. I wanted to show her that she could trust me because I wanted you to be okay. I felt that if I had that trust with her, perhaps it could work in my favor. Turns out, she gave me a chance to live.”
“Give me a chance to make it out of here, at least.” She then looks towards him and thinks it over. There were many thoughts that came with that – positives and negatives – and she wondered if any of them was worth giving him that fair shot to escape. “I at least deserve that after everything that you’ve put me through this flight.”
“Awww looking for sympathy now?” She then kneels down beside him. “I don’t play off sympathy, by the way.” She then stands up and walks towards the back exit. “The bomb’s location is directly below us. Your daughter was in this end of the luggage compartment so that should give you an idea of what is about to happen and how safe your daughter is probably right now. That Steve guy you spoke of – if he found her per the picture – is probably running beneath us, headed towards the other end of the plane as fast as he can run. He’ll probably be climbing up the stairs out of the luggage compartment at the front of the plane as I exit.” Dale then looks back towards her.
“So in other words, she’s safe. Thank you. What about me?” Mariela then looks back at him.
“I could make you a deal to increase your chance of survival.”
“As I hit the back exit back here, I’ll toss you the keys for those cuffs so you better know how to catch. At that point, I’ll give you two minutes maximum to unlock yourself and start to run to the other end of the plane. If you try to follow me, I’ll shove you back and press the button – you’re dead. If you head towards the other end of the plane and the front exit where your daughter and friend should be, at least you have a fair chance at getting off of here.” She then turns back forward. “Is that a deal?”
“Keep your free hand at the ready. I’ll do my best to toss at good aim.” She then walks towards the back exit as she was going to.
“What if you hadn’t caug-” Alyssa starts.
“But I did catch the keys and was able to free myself,” he cuts her off. “Remember – stop thanking about the possibilities and be glad that things worked out. You can’t sit and dwell on what if things had gone differently, Alyssa.” She lets out a sigh, knowing that he was right. “I was able to run and get far enough that when it did go off, I just hurt my back and broke my shoulder.”
“There’s something else, though…..” Dale then looks at her confused. “I have a dream of a flash of fire. A big flash of fire that looks like its set to close in on me and engulf me. It also comes with this loud bang that I can’t place anywhere else. It’s so loud that it could deaf you instantly.” Dale relaxes as he rubs her back.
“You and Steve were still beneath when it went off. He told me that when he heard it go off, he immediately hid it and laid right by you to block you from getting hurt. He got a piece in the leg, that was it. That’s probably where the image is coming from.” She then thinks it over, knowing that he was probably right.
“Remind me to thank Steve for what he did for me, then. I can’t believe that he did that.”
“He loves you, and he’d do anything for you – just like a lot of people in my life. I couldn’t stop thanking him the days following either, but he kept saying that he’d do it all over again if it happened again. Why? He wouldn’t want to see his own kids in the same situation.”
Chapter 77: Post Discussion
With everything out in the open, Alyssa spent a couple minutes sitting there quietly, letting it all process. Even if she was now 18 years old, it was a lot to process thinking of everything that she had gone through as a child herself.
She was glad that her father had shared the details, though, as it certainly helped place the images that kept replaying in her mind. Now she could piece together their order and had understanding. Perhaps with that understanding, she would have the power to change them to a positive, as Chase had discussed along the lines of things that she should do. She could keep reminding herself that she was there that day and everything had worked out, despite the chilling moments that they represented.
Though while it was a relief to hear the details, she knew how hard it was sit there and hear everything. She also knew how hard it was for her father to tell her each of the details, reliving the emotional pain that he went through during the time. She knew that she couldn’t thank him enough for doing that for her, and being there to help her that night – even if they were on the eve of the next race in her career.
“Thank you for telling me everything,” she tells him as she reaches over and pulls herself closer, hugging him. “I appreciate it. I know it must be hard for you to relive what you went through, even 14 years later. I’m just…thank you.” He then rubs her back, giving her a kiss on the forehead.
“You’re welcome,” he replies. “Like I said, I should’ve told you sooner and if this can help you, then even better. I’m proud of you for the young lady that you’ve become and maybe now you understand why I can be protective of you at times.” She then looks up at him with a smile, shaking her head.
“I totally understand, and it’s fine. Besides, I like the relationship that we’ve grown to have together. I’ll always need my daddy, no matter how much I grow.” He then smiles as he keeps her held close.
“If you ever want to ask me anything about it, or want to know other things that happened, please just ask. Don’t sit there and wonder about it.” She shakes her head, understanding. She was going to keep that in mind, especially when her talks with Chase started incase there were holes that needed filling.
“I’ll remember that. Thank you.” He then gives her another kiss on the forehead before letting her slip out of her hands. He knew without looking at the time that it was late, and she had a race the next day.
“Now, Ms. Alyssa, it is late and you have a race tomorr-”
“Dad, I’m 18-”
“And I’m still your fath-”
“You don’t need to tell me my bed time. I can take car-”
“Alyssa, you have another big race tomorrow and you need to be rested up.” She then chuckles at their small bickering as she stands up, glancing back at him.
“Dad, I know. I’m a big girl. I can put myself to bed at a good time. Besides, I knew it was late and was going to leave soon, grab a quick shower and go to bed.” He then smiles as he stands up and follows her out. They then head back to the motorcoach lot, and he drops her off at Chase’s motorcoach.
“I trust you. That’s all I’m going to say.” She then looks back at him with a smile.
“You can trust me, Dad. You’ve raised me right and I know the rules. Besides, you can trust Chase. He has already told me that he’s willing to wait till I’m ready.” Dale couldn’t help but smile. Those were the words that every father wanted to hear.
“I’ll see you in the morning.” She then gives him a wave as she takes her key out, letting herself in.
She walks up the stairs and immediately notices the lights are out in the living room and kitchen. She could hear the television in the bedsroom, and knew that he was probably already laying down set for the night. She quietly slips off her shoes, heading to the bathroom. She closes the door behind her, slipping out of her clothes and grabbing her shower as she wanted. She then climbs out, wrapping a towel around herself as she goes into the bedsroom.
She goes over to the dresser that he designated for her, but could only smile as she reaches it. She sees a pair of her shorts thrown on top with one of his t-shirts. She quickly snatches it up, escaping back to the bathroom and changing into it. Giving her hair a quick brush, she returns back to the besdroom, tiptoeing quietly, and climbs into her side of the bed.
“So, how did your discussion with your dad go?” She hears as her head hits the pillow. She then looks over, surprised to hear Chase’s voice, only to be met back with a smile in return. “I wasn’t falling asleep till you got back here tonight. I figured I’d just relax in here want till you got back.” She then moves closer to him, laying her head on his chest as he wraps an arm around her.
“It was good,” she tells him. “It was emotional, it was an eye-opening experience, but it was good. I realized a lot of things that I didn’t know, and I am even more thankful now for the life that I have. I didn’t realize all that happened then. I didn’t realize….It just made me open my eyes and keep thanking everyone – Steve, God, my dad-”
“Your guardian angel, too,” he adds and she smiles, shaking her head yes.
“Absolutely. I didn’t realize everything my dad went through that day for me. It also answered some questions and cleared up some confusion as to my nightmares.” Chase smiled as he was glad that the discussion had gone well for her.
“I’m glad that it went well for you, and it was worth it. Maybe it’ll help those nightmares.” She could only hope as she wanted to be able to sleep without a second thought about it. She knew that she could chase them away in Chase’s arms, feeling protected. But what would happen if they were apart for a night?
“I hope. I guess we’ll see, right?” She then takes a deep breath as she looks over at him. “And I will tell yo-”
“You don’t need to tell me everything, if you don’t want to. Don’t feel like you’re forced to tell me what happ-”
“No Chase, I want to tell you….eventually.” She then takes a deep breath. “It’s late and I have the race tomorrow, so I don’t want to do it tonight. But, I do want to tell you what my dad and I talked about, and my nightmares. I want to tell you so that way you understand. If you’re going to open up and tell me everything that happened to you, then I want to in return do the same for you.” He then gives her a kiss on the cheek as he pulls her closer, if that was even possible as they were pretty close.
“As long as you want to and don’t feel forced, then I accept. But you’re right – it’s late so we can have that talk another time, perhaps during your spring break. For now, let’s get some sleep. I love you.” She smiled, though felt some butterflies in knowing that spring break was soon. Was she prepared to hear what he had to offer?
“I love you, too. I’ll always love you.” She then looks up, kissing his lips softly before getting back comfy in his arms and closing her eyes.
While the pair peacefully slept, conversation loomed large with Emma and Marshall.
“I have one simple question for you,” Emma comments as she looks over at Marshall. “Why hasn’t any of those gossip rag magazines called me back? I sent them the audio recording of what Leo told me. Normally, those stupid magazines would be writing up stories and posting it to get hits. Why haven’t any of them released anything?” Marshall could only shrug his shoulders as he kept his eyes focused on the laptop screen before him.
“Did you try TMZ?” He questions as Emma rolls her eyes. This wasn’t her first game of revenge.
“They were first on the list to receive the file, and then I sent it to the National Enquirer, followed by some other gossip trash magazines.” She then lets out an aggravated sigh. “Normally, something comes out bad about some star and boom, they’ve posted it!” Marshall then looks back, trying to calm her down on the topic.
“They’re not true celebrities, they’re just racecar driv-”
“That still counts as a high public figure. Do I need to snatch that computer away from you and show you the previous TMZ stories?” Marshall rolls his eyes and shakes his head no. “Besides, Ms. Alyssa is the Princess of Pitronia, some country somewhere. That counts as big royalty. That should equal a big story, esp since she’s dating some boy who is years older than her so shortly after dating her high school sweetheart.”
“Why don’t you post it on some blog?” Emma shakes her head no with a sigh.
“You obviously haven’t played the game of revenge because the game works in that you reveal the story, but don’t get caught in the process.” Marshall then laughs. “What?”
“You’re going to get caught, anyway. Leo will say that he told you in confidence, thinking that you were someone sweet. Good try on that one, darling.” She then pounces closer, closing his laptop.
“Listen to me – rather than be smart and give me smart stupid allic remarks, why don’t you damn well help me? I thought you were on board with me for total revenge against that little punk? You said that he was a star who didn’t deserve all the attention that he got and only got his ride due to his father. You said that you wanted just as much revenge as I am. Why aren’t you doing something now?” Marshall then pushes her hands off of his laptop.
“Because maybe I’m trying to focus on my own racing career and getting better as a drier so I can win a championship. Because maybe I’m growing up and realizing that sitting around making stupid comments isn’t going to get me anywhere. How old are you again, Emma?” He then snatches his laptop away from her, standing up as he glances her way. “I thought you wanted to be with me because you liked me. It seems that you’re trying to use me to get what you want with Chase.”
“And if you’re on board, how is that using you?”
“Because maybe I’ve jumped off this train.” He then leaves the bedsroom, slamming the door behind him as she lays back on the bed, letting out a big sigh.
Chapter 78: XFINITY Qualifying
Despite having a long emotional discussion the night before, things started off smoothly on Saturday for everyone. It seemed as though nothing was different from any other race weekend.
Alyssa and Chase both got up, went through their normal morning routine and headed to the garage. Chase put in a pair of solid Cup practices – very pleased with how the car was doing and felt confident going into Sunday.
Following practice, it was time for XFINITY qualifying. Alyssa felt confident based on how practice had gone the day before. However, mid-way through the session, a big puff of white smoke escaped the back of her Chevrolet, as she slid in the oil up in the wall.
“Is she okay?” Elsa immediately questions, catching a glance from her brother.
“You’re actually paying attention?” Robby asks as Elsa gives him a slap.
“Right now is not the time for teasing!” Marie rolls her eyes as she looks back at the two kids.
“Elsa, no hitting your brother. Robby, no teasing your sister,” she tells them both. “Alyssa is fine. She is already talking on the radio with the crew.” Marie then climbs down the steps off of the top of the trailer as the children both follow.
They then follow their mother through the garage, knowing their headed to the garage stall. If they knew that Alyssa was alright, they’d meet her there. If she would’ve been sore or anything, Marie would drop the kids off with a crew member and head to the care center by herself. It was a program that they had put together when Alyssa was younger.
“Why’d the car go up in smoke like that?” Elsa wonders as she follows her mother and brother.
“The motor broke, du-” Robby starts.
“Be nice!” Marie cuts him off with a glare in his direction. She then looks towards her daughter with more concerning eyes. She knew that Elsa didn’t care much about the racing, hence the questions, but understood the concern for her sister. “As your brother stated, the motor blew up.”
“But why?” Elsa wonders and Marie shrugs her shoulders.
“Something broke – while valve spring, or something else. We won’t know what till the engine guys dissect through the parts and figure out the reason.” Elsa shakes her head, understanding.
“So, why’d she slide into the wall?” Marie then wraps an arm around her daughter.
“Oil is very slippery when you get into it with a car. It’s like driving on ice. She just lost control with it.” Elsa then notices the crew guys working away on a second car that they had brought over to the stall. “That’s the bac-”
“Mom, I’m not a total ditz. I know how back-up cars work in racing. Thanks, though.” She then watches as Alyssa walks over, leaning back against one of the garage posts, looking over the team. “Are you okay?” Alyssa then glance at her sister and shakes her head yes. “Are you su-”
“I’m fine, Elsa,” Alyssa tells her. “No bruises, no pain anywhere – just disappointed.” Elsa shook her head, understanding, as she looked back towards the team.
“You’ll bounce back from this and do well in the race. You’re a great driver.” Alyssa lets a small smile form on her face as she looks at her sister with a glance.
“Thanks. It just doesn’t erase the disappointment in knowing all of the guy’s hard work disappeared with one slip in the oil.” Alyssa then pushes herself off of the wall, walking over to the car to help out the team. “Do you guys need help?” The crew guys shake their heads no as they keep working away.
“Get the driver compartment how you want it, with the mirrors, belts and seat,” her crew chief instructs as she shakes her head, accepting.
She then walked away, set to grab her helmet and HANS out of the primary car, returning shortly after to get to work. With the race near, she knew that she needed to be in a hurry.
As the team was almost done everything, Steve LeTarte walks into the garage. While it wasn’t NBC’s half of the season, he was set on attending the races and knowing what was going on for their weekly shows. Besides, checking up on Alyssa was something that he simply enjoyed, too.
“Hey,” he says, catching her attention. She immediately looks back at him, giving him a sympathetic smile. “Do they got the car rea-” Steve’s words are cut off as she wraps her arms around him, giving him a hug. She then lets him go shortly after.
“I just want to say thank you for everything that you did for me when I was younger,” she tells him as he looks at her confused. “Dad told me everything last night that happened on the plane – every detail that I didn’t even know before. It really opened my eyes and made me realize how thankful I am for being here and who I am today. It also made me realize just how thankful I am that you were there that day.” Steve smiles as it was that day, followed by the couple of weeks after spent with Dale, created a bond that eh couldn’t describe to anybody.
“I was just doing what I thought was right. I knew that you both needed help, and that’s why I busted my butt in there.” She gives him a pat on the shoulder.
“No matter the reason, I thank you and I want you to know how much it means to me.” He then wraps an arm around her and pulls her close.
“Alyssa, I understand and you’re welcome.” She then smiles as she lets her eyes go back to the team.
“To answer your question, they just about have it ready to go through technical inspection and roll it out to the grid. As I went in the corner, the motor blew and I guess oil under the tires, lost control and was along for the ride. I’m feeling alright, though.” He smiles as that was all that mattered – her being okay without issue.
“And how are you after hearing the details from your dad?” He knew it wasn’t perhaps the subject to touch at the time being, but it did matter no doubt as she had brought it up originally. He had also heard about her sleeping issues previously, as Dale had vented some of his frustration about it to him.
“I’m alright, Steve. It certainly opened my eyes and shocked me more than I could probably explain to you. However, I believe that it helped. It answered the questions behind the images in my mind and I think moving forward that it will help in getting over those nightmares.” Steve smiles as he was glad to hear that.
“That’s great. I’ll let you know that if you ever want to talk, just call me okay?” She shake her head yes. “Alright. I got to go continue my rounds, but I’ll be keeping an eye on you.”
“Gonna cheer me on later today?” He then chuckles, knowing that she was right.
“I’m not supposed to have favourite, but I’ll let that slip just for you.” She then smiles. “I’ll see you later.” He then heads off as she returns back to the team.
She just hoped that the race went much better than qualifying.
Chapter 79: XFINITY Race
“Everything squared away?” She asks one of the crew members as she walks over to the car following driver introductions. He simply shakes his head yes as she leans back against her familiar Chevrolet. That was all that she needed to know.
She had confidence in her ability behind the wheel – she had proven that with the win at Atlanta last week. This was another wide-open track and if she could win at one, she could win at another. She also had confidence in the team based on the success that they had before with a whole host of drivers over the years. It was crazy to see how much her dad’s team had expanded from the stories that she had heard of their beginnings.
The only thing that weighed on her mind was staying out of trouble early as she’d have to start the race from the rear. Taking a deep breath, she knew it’d be about taking her time and working her way through traffic, one car at a time. If she kept that attitude up for the whole race, she’d be at the front by the checkered flag.
She glanced over towards her cousin Wyatt, giving him a quick wave. She had to sympathize with him as he wasn’t having the weekend that he wanted thus far, struggling to get a handle under him throughout practice. As a result, he had only posted the 25th quickest time in the session.
“Did they figure out what happened during qualifying?” He asks as he walks over to her. She immediately shakes her head no, still having received no explanation.
“They were thinking something in the drive train,” she answers, having overheard a couple of the crew guys talking. “They won’t know till they take it apart this week at the shop. Have you started to get a handle on this place yet?” Wyatt shakes his head yes, with a glance back at the car and crew.
“It’s getting a little easier to drive. It’s still a tad loose going into the corner, which is never fun. I’d rather it be loose off so I can hang it out a bit.” She then grins, knowing that he had picked up that driving style from L.W. as he was like that with his late model, and teaching the kids on the dirt with the karts.
“You’ll figure out. You’re a smart driver and you have a good crew behind you.”
With opening ceremonies near, Wyatt returned to his car. She then got set by her car, smiling as Chase came up behind her. He wrapped an arm around her, pulling her close as the ceremonies started. The pair stood there together right till the end of the anthem, when he turned her to face him.
“Good luck,” he tells her, before giving her a kiss. “Stay safe. You’re a smart driver and will have a good day. I love you.” She then returns the kiss, followed by a hug.
“I love you, too,” she tells him. “Thank you.” She then pulls away as she grabs her HANS and helmet out of the car. “Are you going to watch from my pit box?”
“I can do that if you want. I’m sure the crew wouldn’t mind.” She glances back with a smile before getting the HANS and helmet on, climbing in the car. Chase then gave her one final kiss before walking away to her pit box as she got belted in.
He goes over to the pit box, climbing the steps and taking a seat on top beside Dale as he grabs one of the headsets.
“Has everything been okay with her?” Dale questions out of the blue, catching Chase’s attention. Chase then looks at him concerned. “I mean after I told her everything last night, because I told her everything. I just wanted to know if she was okay.” Chase simply gives Dale a sympathetic smile.
“She was alright, Dale,” Chase informs him as Dale lets out a sigh of relief. He was worried that it would’ve bugged her a lot. “She told me that it actually gave her relief in knowing how the images of nightmares connected in a story form, and felt that it’d give her a way to put everything together to make things better. She also said that it really opened her eyes, and made her thankful to be here where she is.”
“Thanks. I was worried about her.” Chase gives him a pat on the shoulder.
“Don’t worry – your little girl is doing great, and if anything comes up, I’ll help her as she needs and let you know. We’ll get through this together, just like we always have.” Dale shakes his head, accepting that. It had certainly been a journey over the years, but they had been able to make it through together. “Is everything okay with you? I mean, I know it must’ve been a lot to relive everything.” Dale takes a deep breath, remembering the feelings that went through his mind as he told Alyssa the details.
“It took a lot out of me, and I may have been unable to sleep a little bit last nigh. But, after talking things out with Marie, I’m fine. Thanks for asking, though.” Chase smiles, glad that Dale had Marie to talk to. However, with that thought, he just hoped that things went smoothly when he and Alyssa had their talk.
Chase watched as she crossed the line in the 11th spot, and could only shake his head. She was running in the top-five and looked to be on her way to a solid finish. Then the contact happened, followed by a spin. Instead of finishing in the top-five, she finished 11th. It didn’t seem fair at all.
“I swear that guy has no talent behind the wheel whatsoever,” Dale comments as he heads over to Alyssa’s car after the race. “It’s hard to believe that his dad continues to pay for him to race.”
“How’d he win at Daytona to start the season?” Chase questions and Dale shrugs his shoulders, totally confused on that one.
“Most of the good cars got wrecked out in that wreck. It thinned out the field and he got lucky, somehow.” Dale then throws a look Marshall’s way, before focusing his attention back forward as he makes his way over to Alyssa’s car. Chase, meanwhile, found himself glancing at Emma as she stood by the car, wondering why he ever dated her in the first place.
“I must’ve been crazy at that point.” He then shrugs it off as he makes his way over to Alyssa’s car, watching her climb out. She then slams her fist against the roof of the car, glancing Marshall’s way before turning away. She was honestly debating climbing out of the car that moment and walking over and giving him a slap with how frustrated she was. How could all her hard work of making her way through the field be gone in a simple flash of a second?
“Hey, don’t beat yourself up over it. You were doing great till he made contact with your bumper. Don’t let that take away from the job that you did today making your way through the field. He’ll get what’s coming to him.” Chase had caught the comment, wondering if there was any meaning to it as he knew that both Dale and Marshall are in tomorrow’s Sprint Cup race. Could there be a bit of contact made?
Furthermore, Chase couldn’t wait till they got to Bristol with how he was feeling as he had some ideas of his own. It wasn’t in his nature to think about payback, but in this moment – it felt like the only option. Was he becoming the protective boyfriend already?
“Alyssa!” A voice breaks into the thoughts, as Chase glances over to his right, seeing Marshall standing there.
“What do you wan-” Chase starts, closing the gap between himself and Marshall.
“I’m not here to see you; I’m here to see Alyssa. I’m not here to start any trouble so I’d appreciate if you back off.”
“Chase, relax…” Alyssa says as she rubs his shoulders, walking over beside him. “What can I do for you?” Marshall takes a deep breath, not believing that he was going to do this. If it had been a couple weeks earlier, he would’ve been laughing at what happened. Though now, in a more mature approach and knowing that he had to focus on his own racing, he was trying to bury the grudge and knew in his heart that the contact was accidental.
“I just want to apologize for getting into you,” he offers, as Alyssa looks at him surprised. “I got into the corner a little too hard, trying to make the car stick when it didn’t want to stick. I got a little loose and slid up, just catching your bumper. I didn’t mean to get into you and hated it as soon as it happened. I apologize, and hope that you accept the apology.” Alyssa gives him a small smile. She wasn’t 100% sure whether she believed him or not, but it was nice to see him at least take this approach of apologizing.
“Apology accepted,” she says as she holds out her hand. He then shakes it with a smile in return. “Just don’t let it happen again.”
“Trust me – I will try and make sure that I don’t let it happen. I want to race you fairly and cleanly without contact.” Chase wanted to spit in hearing the words, but knew that the discussion was meant to be kept between the drivers. He could deal with Masrhall on another day in his own way.
“Good. Nice talking to you.” She then wraps an arm around Chase’s waist and guides him away as she heads back towards the hauler with her dad following them in toe. “You don’t need to get defensive, Chase. I can handle this myself. I’m a big girl.” He then lets out a sigh as he gives her a quick kiss.
“I can’t help it – it just happened all of the sudden,” he comments with a glance back at Dale. “I think it makes your dad comfortable in knowing that someone has his daughter’s back and will do anything to protect her.” Dale then chuckles, shaking his head in agreement. Although if a fight had broken out, he wouldn’t want to be there for the conversation that followed
“Just make sure you behave because I’m not bailing you out with either your parents or the team,” Dale offers as Chase laughs, following Alyssa in the trailer.
They all just hoped that the rest of the season went smoothly, and they didn’t have to deal with anymore of these driver feud issues. Besides, Marshall had apologized, right?
Chapter 80: Cup Race
Chase leaned against his car, set for the Cup race later that day. He had put his thoughts of revenge for Marshall aside after his stunt in yesterday’s XFINITY race, knowing that wouldn’t get him anywhere closer to his goal. He wanted to win a second straight race for his team.
He glances over and smiles as he watches Ryan walk over, leaning back against the car with him.
“Everybody is talking about yesterday with Marshall and Alyssa,” Ryan starts and Chase immediately rolls her eyes. “I want the truth.”
“The dumbass got into her,” Chase starts. “He then came over and supposedly apologized, saying that he didn’t mean to and whatever. Alyssa then flat out told him that she wasn’t hearing it and walked away.” Ryan shakes his head in disbelief, having heard some other versions from other people.
“So do you believe the apology?” Chase laughs and shakes his head no.
“We know the way that he drives. We’ve raced against him the past couple of years, right?” Ryan knew that was truth, however couldn’t buy it completely.
“Are you sure that someone else isn’t blurring your opinion, such as Emma (Vitty)? Do you perhaps have it stuck in your mind because of her?” Chase shakes his head no.
“I told you that we know how Marshall is, and Emma – I could care less. She has been given me dirty looks all weekend, but I could care less.” Ryan shakes his head, understanding. He knew that she was a sore subject based on her past with Chase.
“Well, I just wanted to know the truth. Good luck today. Hope to see you in my rearview mirror as I take the checkered.” Chase laughs and shakes his head no, patting the car.
“I have the quickest hot rod today. You’re going to be getting a nice view of my bumper all day long.” Ryan then laughs as he heads off, giving Alyssa a quick hug as they cross paths. Alyssa then walks over, giving Chase a quick hug before standing by him. “So last week, our relationship was the talk of the garage area. This week, it seems you and your stunt with Marshall. When are you going to stay out of the headlines?” Alyssa laughs, shrugging her shoulders.
“I guess that’s what happens when you’re a princess. Are you ready to deal with everything that comes with it, Sir Chase?” Chase pulls her closer, kissing her lips.
“I think I can handle it, ma’am. I can take on anything to be with you.” She just simply smiles in return.
The smiles weren’t the same for everybody, though, as Ty simply rolled his eyes watching the pair of them together.
“Will you get over it?” Hayley question as Ty gives her a glance. “I saw the eye roll.”
“I still don’t think that they should be together,” Ty offers as Hayley shakes her head. It was getting unbearable listening to his whining at times.
“That isn’t for you to decide, right? Remember what Karsyn told you that day in your office, right?” Ty shakes his head, remembering her stint as he glances over to where Karsyn was standing, talking with her crew.
“It doesn’t mean that I can’t have an opinion. It just means that I can’t be whiney to Chase and Alyssa.” He then walks away from Hayley, walking over to a group of crew members.
Chase could only shake his head as he got out of the car post-race. He had the strongest car, as he predicted, though ended up finishing 11th virtue of fuel strategy at the end of the race. His team had tried to stretch it, coming up short as he ran out in the final laps.
“I thought we had enough gas,” Alan tells him with a pat on the shoulder. “Sorry.” Chase glances back and smiles.
“It’s alright,” he says. “We’ve got our win and we’re in the Chase. We pit for fuel and we’d finish sixth or seventh. Might as well try the gamble and see what happens.”
“That was the plan. We’ll get them next week and snag a win. You always have liked Bristol, right?” Chase shakes his head yes before heading off to do some interviews.
As they stood around post-race, there were no complaints with the sight in victory lane. Tyler Reddick had struggled since moving up to the Sprint Cup Series, but with the right strategy and a decent car, the young man found himself celebrating in victory lane with his team for a first win. If there had to be a person to lose out to when it came to strategy, this wasn’t so bad.
Chase was surprised post-race when Alyssa didn’t come over to see him, though quickly found out where she was. It seemed that around the 15th spot, there was contact while racing for a spot between Cole Custer and Dale. Obviously, that brought forth a bit of a post-race argument with Cole walking over to display some displeasure.
“So I hear you’re a bodyguard now?” Chase questions as he walks over to Dale’s trailer. Alyssa looks over and rolls her eyes while shaking her head yes.
“It seems that Cole can’t listen when he’s told to shut up and walk away,” Alyssa answers. “Dad got loose and got into him by accident. It caused Cole to slide up the track and fall back some spots – they actually both fell back. Cole came over storming up a storm, and wouldn’t listen to a simple apology. He was then ready to throw down because according to him nobody was listening, so I got in the middle and sent him off on his merry way.” Chase smiles as he wraps his arms around her shoulders.
“Well, it seems then that you did a good job.” He then kisses her cheek a lightly. “But why does it seem that I have the rowdy girlfriend this weekend getting into scuffles at every end of the garage?” Alyssa shakes her head, not sure why herself. Normally, she was calm and quiet one.
“I guess this is just the weekend that I’m ready to throwdown. Need me to yell at somebody for you?” Chase shakes his head no, just wishing that he had another ounce of gas or so. “Sorry to see you come up short. I was all ready to celebrate in victory lane with you once again.”
“Guess we’ll have to wait till next week.” They then head off through the garage area together as Chase wanted to get changed out of his suit while Alyssa knew that getting home early as possible would be a good idea with having school on Monday.
“Think I could convince my dad to let me skip school tomorrow?” Chase then looks back as she sits on the couch.
“Now now, you know the rules. You need to keep up your studies to race and that includes going to as many classes as possible. You can deal with that for another couple of months, right?” He then keeps walking, going into the back bedsroom and changing out of his suit as she gets comfortable on the couch. He then returned shortly after, grabbing a quick drink from the fridge. “How are your marks?”
“Great. No complaints there. They’re all in the honor roll range.” Chase smiles as it was great to hear that she was doing well.
“Do you know when your graduation is?” She shakes her head no as those details hadn’t been released by the schedule yet. She was hoping that they’d make it a day that was easy to work with her racing schedule. “What about prom?”
“I haven’t paid attention to the details on that since it’s normally on a weekend and I have a hectic schedule enough.” Chase smiles, having gone through that himself. He then sits by her on the couch.
“So I guess I can’t take you to prom, huh?” She then gives him a surprised glance.
“Depending on the date and our schedules, I was going to ask to take you to your prom. I never went to mine and thought it’d be nice to take you to yours, like a normal couple.” A smile formed on her face as it made her special hearing that in his sweet ways. However, the likelihood of the schedule working out would be tough.
“I’ll check when they’re doing the prom, but like I said – it probably won’t work out with our schedules.” Chase then crosses his arms.
“Oh, so you don’t want me to take you to a school dance?” Her jaw immediately drops.
“Chase, I didn’t mean it that wa-”
“It’s okay, I get it.” He then pulls her close. “Listen, see if it works out but if not, we’ll do something special in our way for your prom night. Either way, you’re getting a special night – crown, dress and shoes included.” She smiles, stealing a quick kiss as her phone goes off. She then reads the text message, quickly replying back. “If that’s your dad, I’m flying out of here in about an hour. You can tell him that we’ll check in when we get home.” She gives him the thumbs up before finishing off the text.
“You guessed that pretty well.” She enjoyed the fact that Chase had his own pilot’s license as it made it easier to go anywhere that they needed to go. It also gave them more time to spend together.
“I know how your dad is. He cares about his little girl.” Alyssa smiles, simply shaking her head yes as she thinks back to the discussion in the hauler a couple nights ago.
Taking a deep breath, she just allows herself to smile, knowing that each day moving forward that discussion would always be there. While some people would be worried that it’d affect her negatively, it actually made her feel stronger. It made her thankful to be there and get the opportunities that she was getting. It made her thankful to have such loving people in her life.
“Are you okay?” Chase interrupts her thoughts and she shakes her head yes. “What are you thinking about?”
“My discussion with dad,” she tells him. “It just made me realize so much – in a good way. When you’re living your life, you don’t realize things till you stop for a minute and think about what has happened in the past and led you to here.” Chase shakes his head, understanding.
“I know what you mean. I don’t go a day without thinking about the great parents that I have and great friends for support. There are days that I wonder what could’ve happened if things had gone differently, but I’m quickly reminded that I’d find my way because I have great people in my life.”