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

Sunday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 10 – Dawsonville, Georgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 10 – Dawsonville, Georgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 163: Kidnapped

Thursday, January 3 – Colorado – 25 weeks pregnant

Chase makes his way through the kitchen, cleaning up the dishes after having made both him and Sarina food that morning. They had planned on another relaxing day, knowing that chaos was set to hit come the weekend.

After all the discussions, they were set to be married in just three days now.

As he was rinsing off the last dish, he hears his phone go off. He finished running it under the water, setting it aside to dry before making his way over to the counter where the phone sat. He flips open the text message, smiling as he sees it was from his mom. As he begins to read the details on his phone, the color drains immediately from his face.

“Chase?” Sarina questions, seeing the stunned reaction all over the young man’s face as he slowly looks up from his phone at her. “What’s wrong?”

“I need to go to Georgia,” he answers, before looking back down at his phone. Mixed with worry and panic, he quickly types a message back in return as Sarina makes her way over to him in the kitchen.

“Why? What’s wrong?” He takes a deep breath as he looks over at her, not sure if he’d be able to find the words to tell her what was going on.

“I told you decisions affected everything. You should’ve come home to the warning that I left you. Maybe you’ll come home if I tell you that I have parents in my procession. Alison sent me that text message from my mom’s phone.” Sarina felt an immediate panic come over her to match what she saw before her, but she knew that both of them panicking would get them nowhere.

“You should let the local authori-”

“She told me if I involve the police, she’ll make it worse. Essentially, she’s using them as bait to get me to come see her, and once again, I’m falling right into that trap. But do I have a choice?” Sarina shook her head no, knowing that taking chances with Alison was not a good idea.

“I still think you should notify them, as they could be on the ground there but at a distance.” Chase shakes his head no as he sends a text message to Brittney. “Please Chas-”

“You want me to trust them after they’ve done nothing to help us in a year? If I give Alison what she wants, then everything will be fine. I’d rather do that than risk my parent’s saf-”

“What about yours?” Chase takes a deep breath, knowing there were nerves and worries in every chance that he crossed Alison. However, it was worth every bit of the risk right now.

“I’ll be fine; I can take care of myself and be careful. I also have a trusty sister if necessary.” Sarina knew who he meant by those words, as she simply nodded her head in response. “I don’t want you to here alon-”

“I’m coming wit-”

“Hell no!” Sarina’s jaw drops in shock immediately. “I don’t want you risking your safety right now while you’re pregnant, please. If you come with me, I’ll be distracted because I’ll be worrying about you and the baby. That’s why I just texted Jimmie what’s going on. He says that he’s going to come with me back so I have company for the flight, while you spend some time with Chandra and the girls.”

“If you insist, then I guess I have no choice – even if I don’t feel comfortable with it.” She then places a light kiss on his cheek. “Just promise me you’ll be careful.”

“I will. I love you.” He then returns her kiss on the lips, before making his way out of the kitchen to get ready to go.

It didn’t take long for Jimmie and Chandra to get there with the girls, as the boys headed out the door shortly thereafter.

“I know he told me that he didn’t want to involve the authorities, but I think it’d be a good idea,” Sarina comments, as she takes her phone out, dialing the number for the investigator.

“I have to agree with you,” Chandra says as she lets out a sigh. She was willing to do whatever it took to make sure that Jimmie came back to her later.

Thursday, January 3 – Dawsonville, Georgia – 25 weeks pregnant

“What’s the plan?” Jimmie asks as they close in on the airport in Georgia.

“I’m going to see Alison,” Chase states as he keeps his eyes focused forward.

“Just like that? You’re not going to get the local authorities involved or anythi-”

“I’m not taking any chances on my parent’s safety and lives, Jimmie. As long as I listen to her, they’ll be okay and that’s what matters.” Jimmie understood them being priority and the focus of Chase’s worry.

“What about you, though?” Chase wasn’t looking forward to spending any more time than he had to with Alison, but it was simply necessary right now.

“I can handle it.” Jimmie knew that Chase was strong and believed in him, but also had his doubts based on Alison’s history. “You sound just like Sarina right now.”

“It’s because we’re worried about you, Chase. We care about you and want you to be okay – just as much as we want Cindy and Bill to be okay.” Chase focused on the landing, bringing down the plane with ease.

“I got this. Don’t worry.” Jimmie nods his head, accepting, as before looking back to his text messages. Chandra had been already keeping him posted on Sarina’s activities, including the phone call to the investigator.

Chase was surprised when he had learned of where to find his parents from Sarina. He had believed they’d be at the house, or some secret location. Instead, she had chosen his own race shop, threatening to kill them until they gave in to going there and waiting.

“Don’t let on that I’m out there,” Brittney comments as she walks up to the back door with Chase. “Just head in and act all cool.” Chase nods his head, accepting. He trusted his sister after what was able to do the last time they met Alison together, and hoped it’d pay off today.

“He texted you?” Jimmie questions and Brittney nods her head as she leans back against the wall.

“He trusts me because I was able to stop her once, unlike other people. I’m not about to break that trust and I’m not about to let that crazy chick harm my family.”

Chase takes a deep breath, before opening the door and walking inside. He makes his way past a couple of his old cars, before stopping as he came across the surprise he knew was inside.

Alison had gone through the liberty of tying Cindy to a chair, which obviously kept Bill close despite being loose due to his own worries.

“Chase, you shouldn’t have come,” Cindy says as soon as she sees him standing there.

“Are you okay?” He questions, ignoring the statement as his eyes remained locked on his parents. Cindy simply gives him a nod back in response.

“It’s so great to see you again,” Alison states as she walks over to where he is standing, clutching the gun in her hand which caught his attention immediately.

“I can’t say the feeling is mutual.” He then finally lets his eyes land on her, taking a deep breath. He already had an idea of what he was in for. “You’ve got me where you want me. Now let my parents go.”

“Are you sure that’s what you want? I thought they may want to watch the show..” Chase takes a deep breath, shaking his head no. It was one thing for him to endure what she had in store for him, and for his parents to learn those details later. He knew it’d be whole other step if they had to watch that for themselves.

“Isn’t this something that deserves privacy for us both? I wouldn’t want them to ruin what you had in mind.” She smiles a little, as she runs her fingers down his cheek.

“But perhaps if I let them remain here, they’ll serve as a good reminder to let me have what I want this time.” She then places her gun against his cock. “Everything that I want this time without taking it back.”

“As long as you let them go and be safe, I will do whatever you want me to do, I promise. All that matters to me is their safety.” Sarina knew she had him right where she wanted him as she looked back over towards Bill and Cindy.

“Just like when I had Sarina and you easily accepted my advances every night without an argument.” She then lets her eyes trail back to meet his. “It’s amazing how much you’ll do to protect the ones that you love.”

“Like I said, all that matters is their safety. Please let them go, Alison.” Alison glanced around, before letting her eyes return to his.

“Give me a taste of what’s in store, and maybe I’ll grant your wish.” Chase swallows the lump that formed in his throat immediately, as he knew he wasn’t going to like any part of this. However, he had to do what he had to for his parents.

“Please…” He then leans in, kissing her lips, before backing up. “Is that enough?” Alison nods her head in return as she looks towards the pair.

“Untie her and get the hell out of here before I change my mind!” Bill begins to work at the rope immediately, allowing Cindy to be free.

“I’m not going anywhere until I know that baby is saf-” Cindy starts as Chase shakes his head.

“Go, please Mom,” he practically begs. “Just please…” Cindy’s eyes lock with Alison’s.

“There’s no way in hell I am leaving you here alone, Chase.” Alison then lets out a sigh as she looks between the pair, with a smirk forming in the process.

“If you’re so willing, you can stay and watch the show,” Alison offers as she closes the gap that remained between her and Chase. “Now how about you sit down in that chair, little boy?”

“Dad, please Mom leave…” Chase says as he sits down in the chair as instructed, eyes focused on the gun that Alison clutched close to her.

“I’m not leaving you either,” Bill replies, as his eyes never left Alison.

“Then maybe you can help me out,” Alison suggests, pointing the gun directly between Chase’s eyes. “Tie him up or my finger may just hit the trigger.” Chase takes a deep breath, trying to remain as possible, as he feels the rope wrap around his body. Perhaps he should’ve made the call to the authorities like Sarina suggested.

“Can’t you just let us go, please?” Cindy begs, earning a laugh in response from Alison.

“Your little boy told me that I could have whatever I wanted – as long as he stayed safe. I’m letting him keep his promise.” She then bends down before him, forcing her lips against his as she slips her hand in his jeans, stroking his cock. “You feel just as good today as you have ever.”

“Just…get…it…over with…please,” Chase says as he tries to keep the tears and fears at bay, hoping the quicker the deed was done, the sooner he could escape the pain that he was feeling.

“Good things come to those who are patient,” Alison comments, slipping down his pants slowly. “I want a good thing so I am going to be patient.”

“Now!” Bill yells, giving Alison a shove forward, causing her to fall as Cindy steps on the hand that held the gun tightly.

“Nobody messes with my family and gets away with it,” she states as she pries Alison’s fingers off of the gun. Chase slithers his way out of the ropes, as Bill had left them slightly loose.

“Let’s see how you like being tied up….” Bill and Chase get her situated in the chair, before the rope is wrapped around her to hold her in place. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Chase replies as he takes a deep breath. Seeing her tied up before him was better than any Christmas present imaginable. Finally, after watching her terrorize him for a year, it was all over. “I hope you rot away in prison.”

“I’ll just escape like I did before,” Alison states as the door burst open with the authorities entering.

Chase walks away, leaning over one of the late models as he takes a couple deep breathes to calm himself while Alison is hauled out of the shop in handcuffs.

Running his hands through his hair, all of the emotions from the past year came to him at that moment as tears rolled down his cheeks.

He remembered meeting her in the hotel room at the pageant. He remembered the injection that she gave him at Indianapolis. He remembered falling down the steps at the Winter Showdown. He remembered the plane crash in Daytona.

He remembered the kiss, and gun shot in the trailer in California. He remembered the fall and kiss at Martinsville. He remembered the constant meetings with her through April, with her touching him every single night as he gave in to everything she wanted so easily.

He remembered Alison kidnapping Alan at the ROVAL. He remembered the sexual assault in Talladega. There was also the cameras planted in the motorcoach at Talladega, too. He remembered how she snuck in his house while he was at Kansas. He remembered the letters at Martinsville.

He remembered being froze on Halloween. He remembered her kidnapping Lindsay in Texas. He remembered the bomb in the garage at ISM Raceway. He remembered the baby rattles at the Snowball Derby, followed by a visit to go see Kyle. He remembered being drugged just before Christmas, along with a sexual assault that he was unable to see or remember.

He remembered the visit to Sarina just after Christmas. He remembered the series of rattles dropped off at those he loved. He remembered hearing about the bombing she did at the house. And lastly, now, the kidnapping of his parents to lure him to her.

Feeling his legs grow weaker with each passing thought, he slides down the side of the racecar, sitting down, tears continuously strolling down his cheeks. It was hard to believe everything he’d gone through. Would he be able to move forward? Even more, was it really over? Had he finally found the ending that he wanted?

“You’re going to be okay,” he hears as he feels his dad’s arms wrap around him, pulling him close. “You’re going to be okay, Chase. It’s okay, finally. You can begin to move forward, get through it, and you will be okay…”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 152: Christmas Parties

Thursday, December 6 – Kyle Busch Motorsports

Sarina chuckles as she watches Todd sit on Santa’s lap, followed by Harrison. Admittedly, she had to admit the latter was actually quite adorable sitting there.

“So, what are you asking Santa for?” Chase questions, catching her attention. She was surprised that his little sidekick, Brexton, still wasn’t attached to his hip.

“Are you trying to get some gift ideas as you don’t know what to get to me?” She wonders, and he shakes his head no. If he was being honest, he was actually pretty close to being done Christmas shopping early this year for a change. “If I’m being honest, though, I have everything that I need.”

“There’s got to be something you’re going to ask for….” She shakes her head no.

“I have the best friends that someone could ask for, supporting me in whatever crazy decisions that I may make. I also have the best opportunity that anybody could ask for next season in racing with one of the best teams in the XFINITY Series. I have my health, and I have a dashing darling fiancé that I will get to call my husband next month.” He smiles as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“I can’t deny that I can’t wait for you to be Ms. Sarina Elliott.” She lets the name run through her mind a couple times, smiling at the thought as well.

“There’s only one Christmas wish that remains, though….” The comment catches him by surprise given her comments thus far. “I just want my baby to be healthy. All I want for Christmas and the new year is for this pregnancy to continue going smoothly as it is, and for a healthy baby with no complications. I also wish for Christmas that we could hear the news of Alison being caught, but I don’t want to focus on her.”

“I can promise you this – she isn’t going to touch you, or that baby…” He then gives her a kiss, before shifting to stand behind her so he could wrap his arms around, with hands placed on her stomach. “I also know that you’re doing a great job taking care of yourself, and just like everything else, I have a feeling it’s going to go smoothly. Look at it this way – we’re past the halfway point now.”

“It seems someone agrees with Daddy, too.” Sarina didn’t need to say anything as Chase could feel the little kicks against his hands, though the word ‘Daddy’ did give him a new sense of nerves and worry, but also pride and unexplainable joy. “By the way, I have a surprise for you when we get home.”

“Oh really?” She nods her head as she leans back in his arms.

“While you’ve been busy the past couple of days, I’ve had some energy that needed to be used. So I got around to doing something that we both knew needed to be done – with some help from Kyle to put something together.” Chase glances at her a little confused, but immediately realizes what she was meaning.

“The nursery?” She nods her head.

“I know you wanted to do that together, but I just started doing some small things after you painted the walls, and it took off. I hope you don’t mind.” He shakes his head.

“Given the way the past couple of weeks have been, it’s probably better that you went ahead and did it because who knows if we would’ve had time.”

Thursday, December 6 – Charlotte, North Carolina

Chase walks into the nursery, glancing around with a smile on his face. She had followed their idea beyond anything that he could’ve imagined. He didn’t know what he liked more – the murals she added to the wall of the trees, or the stuffed giraffe to match the crib.

He then sits down in the rocking chair, swaying back and forth a little as he glances over at her with a smile on his face.

“Come here…” He requests and she walks over, sitting on his lap carefully. “This is beautiful.”

“Could you have imagined this a couple of years ago?” She questions and he shakes his head no. “It still shocks me so much in looking back to see how far we’ve come, what we’ve gone through, and how much I’ve grown to be here. I was saying to Samantha earlier tonight that I was so surprised in where we are now, but also so thankful and glad. I mean, I never could’ve imagined this.”

“I remember when we first began talking about a future together and our dreams. I remember you speaking about how things weren’t always easy, and you didn’t know if you could go forth with decisions like marriage, and a family. I was afraid at that time we would never get to where we could be like we are now. I was afraid that there’d always be questions of commitment, or we’d never grow with children because of past mista-”

“You told me before you never thought about kids, though. You lied to me.” Chase lets out a sigh, nodding his head. He knew that went against everything in their relationship.

“With all the fears surrounding whether you could carry a baby full term, and whether this was even remotely possible, I didn’t want to put any more pressure on you. I wanted you to feel safe and secure so you could share anything and everything with me. I wanted you to not hold something back due to a fear of judgment. So I bit my tongue, and focused on you, and moving forward in that moment.” She understood where he was coming from, but that didn’t mean she was going to let this go easily.

“I appreciate that, honestly, but remember what I told you, too. Just like you encourage me to share anything and want to be there for me, I want to be there for you. So please don’t ever feel the need to hide something from me, Chase. I can handle whatever it is and I can help you – just like you’ve helped me.” He brushes a small piece of hair out of her eyes.

“The thing is you’ve helped me just as much, too. I wouldn’t had gotten through the summer and what Alison did without you. You gave me someone to talk to. You gave me someone to lean on, to cry to, to vent to, and hold me up when I couldn’t. Even though i didn’t want to share anything, you just held me and that comfort meant more than anything until I was ready to talk.” He then takes a careful deep breath, trying to find the right words to say. “I think that feeling of betrayal in knowing I went against your feelin-”

“It’s not your fau-”

“I know that, believe me. I know that she forced me and manipulated my decisions based on my fear for your well-being. I know it wasn’t my fault, Sarina.” He then takes a deep breath. “But at that time, those betrayal feelings in knowing that I’d done something with someone else, and felt something in return, I think that’s why it made it more difficult to say something then. I didn’t want to face those feelings, again.” She then wipes the stray tear that was rolling down his cheek away.

“Chase….” She then lays her head against his shoulder. “I want you to know that I am proud of you. I am proud of the strength that you’ve shown. I’m proud of how you’ve fought through everything you’ve endured. I’m proud of how you’ve kept pushing despite everything. But trust me when I say this, you don’t need to feel pain for me because I know it wasn’t your fault, and I know it meant nothing. I love you, always and forever.”

“I love you, too.” He then gives her a kiss as they continue to rock back and forth slowly together.

Friday, December 7 – Hendrick Motorsports

“Am I actually seeing what I am seeing?” Chase questions as he walks into the Hendrick Motorsports shop with Alex and Jimmie.

“What store even carries a suit like that?” Alex adds, earning a chuckle in return from Chase.

“Chad likes to win anything – even if it’s just a simple costume contest and there is one later today,” Jimmie reminds them. “I still say he looks ridiculous, though.”

“And I thought Alan was going to be the most embarrassed of the crew chiefs,” Chase comments, taking in the shirt that Alan had chosen to be in the Christmas spirit.

The group find their way to the front of the shop, standing with the crew chiefs as Chase chuckles once again in glancing over the outfit chosen by Chad.

Everything started out as any of their previous Christmas Parties had with the crew chiefs thanking everybody for their hard work all year, and emphasizing their focus on being stronger in 2019. There were then well wishes offered to crew members who were retiring or moving onto other opportunities – with some digs thrown in along the way. Finally, as they always had, well wishes were offered for the Christmas season and time spent away to everyone.

“Now before we do begin the games that we normally play, we are introducing something special this year,” Chad changes the usual tone from what they had experienced. The change appeared to catch everyone off-guard, except for Alan. “As everybody is aware, Chase and his fiancée Sarina are expecting a baby in the new year with her currently being 21 weeks pregnant. The last time a driver was expecting a baby, we had some fun – so why not do that again?”

“There’s a bucket to the left of the shop, with a small form beside it,” Alan continues, as Chase looks over slightly confused. Why wasn’t he warned about any of this? “When you get a chance today, please fill it out. Please include your guess on gender, weight, height, and the actual date of arrival. There are small prizes to be won for the person to guesses everything the closest.”

“Can I have some clues please?” Jimmie whispers as Chase just chuckles. Maybe this was going to be fun after all.

“You know as much as I do right now in terms of those details,” Chase replies.

“We’re also going to wish the couple a great wedding in January, which I know some of you will be attending,” Alan adds as he looks down the line at his driver. “It’s crazy to think about the fact that he and Sarina are getting married with a child on the way, considering where we began, but we also couldn’t be happier for them both. So here’s to everything going smoothly in terms of the wedding and pregnancy, and to happiness for you both in the new year.”

“Thank you. I appreciate the sentiments.”

“Now, let’s see who can pin the nose on Rudolph!”

“I17!” Chad announces from the front of the shop as he pulls the latest ball out of the bucket.

“How am I supposed to make the pattern that he wants if he keeps calling shitty numbers?” Chase questions, earning a couple laughs from those around him.

“You sound like one of those old ladies complaining,” Jimmie answers as Chase looks over at him.

“I’m not the only one whose growing grey hair.” Jimmie then flicks one of the small chips over at him, earning a chuckle in return from Chase.

“I can’t even figure out the damn pattern that he wants anyway…” Chase just shakes his head.

“They say in your old age that sometimes your eyesight goes first. Is that why you couldn’t see victory lane this past year?” Jimmie’s jaw drops in response.

“What has gotten into you today? Where is your Christmas spirit, man?” Chase looks over, moving a couple of the chips around on Jimmie’s card for him.

“There’s the season of giving for you. If you would’ve been paying attention, you could’ve yelled BINGO already.” Jimmie then looks down at his card, surprised at the formation of chips.

“Holy shit!” The comment then catches the attention of everyone in the room. “I mean – Bingo!”

“And we trust him to drive a racecar every week,” Alan comments, earning a chuckle from Chase. As they verity Jimmie’s chips to make sure it was right, Chase glances at his phone. “Sarina?”

“Nope, she’s with Samantha today getting her nails done with a Spa day ahead of tomorrow,” Chase reveals, which didn’t surprise the crew chief.

“Have you seen her banquet dress yet?” Chase shakes his head no, and that was even after trying to take a peak in the closet the other night. His phone then goes off again, which he obviously picks up to type a response to. “So if it’s not Sarina or myself that has your attention, who is it?”

“My sister.” Alan had to admit that he was slightly confused in knowing he wasn’t very close with either of them. “Brittney is expressing some concern in knowing what’s going on with Alison, and the fact that there are no leads.”

“Really?” Chase nods his head as he looks back at her response, typing another in return. “I wouldn’t expect her to be worried given that she’s a certifiable badass herself.”

“Knowing how people work in these worlds, and seeing how Alison can escape everything, it has caught Brittney’s attention and she wanted to share that with me.” Chase then sets his phone back down beside him as they clear their cards, ready for the next game. “She wants me to know that she does care about me as her little brother and she wants to make sure everything is going smoothly. She also offered to help, if necessary.”

“Given her air force training, that may not be something to pass up as she may have something to offer.” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks over at the crew chief.

“No tricks are going to work on Alison, though. it’s all about manipulating feelings and the situation. that’s how she got to me each time before. I just can’t let her do that again if and when we cross-”

“Who says you’re going to cross paths?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks back at his card.

“You know yourself it’s inevitable.” Alan wanted to argue that, but he knew better with having seen Alison’s pattern of behavior. “I just need to be ready this time, and not let her do things how she wants them to be done.”

“You also need to be safe, and think about your well-being through whatever she does. Don’t ever forget, please.” Chase nods his head in agreement.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 146: Myers Brothers Luncheon

Tuesday, November 27 – Charlotte, North Carolina

Sarina glances over at the monitor, smile marked on her face in seeing images of her baby on the screen. It almost made her want to cry in being able to hear the heartbeat, see that the baby was growing a little more each day inside of her.

“So we’ve decided to not get the paternity results, correct?” Dr. Grayson double checks, earning a nod from both parents. “That’s fine. If you ever do change your mind, please let me know and we can go from there.”

“I still say it’s a girl,” Chase comments, eyes also focused on the small screen that showed the ultrasound images.

“As long as she, or he, are healthy, that’s what matters,” Sarina says as she clutches his hand tightly.

“On that note, we did originally schedule this meeting to also discuss your MSAFP test results,” Dr. Grayson states, catching both of their attention. “I am happy to report that everything came back clean and looks to be right on track as normal, so there should be no surprises in that department. We just need to keep a close eye on how the baby grows, and the location of the baby inside of your uterus and whether concerns arise.”

“Is there anything that you can do if something was to happen?” Chase wonders as Dr. Grayson hands Sarina a cloth to wipe up the stuff on her stomach.

“It depends on how far along she is with her pregnancy at that time, as well as the health of the baby, her health, and the location. There are measures that can be implemented to help if needed, like putting her bed rest. Now I know you’ve been the type to over-concern yourself, so please do not do that to her right now as she doesn’t need to.” Sarina just looks over with a smirk, glad that point was made knowing the direction things would probably go already. She had heard enough comments already from Chase, and even Cindy on Thanksgiving.

“That doesn’t mean you push yourself over the edge….” Sarina just rolls her eyes.

“He is right about that, too. If she’s far enough along and a significant concern arises, we could induce her to have the baby early – or do a c-section. But again, I wouldn’t worry about that as everything is growing normally so far. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that the baby co-operates and follows course the rest of the pregnancy.” Chase knew if they’d gotten this far and survived the likes of Talladega, it was meant to be and things were probably set to go full steam ahead. However, he couldn’t help but wonder at times.

“And she is okay to go to Las Vegas and Florida?” Dr. Grayson nods her head in response.

“She is fine with flying until she reaches 36 weeks, or I say otherwise.” Sarina had to chuckle as she could see Chase doing the math already in his head.

“Will you just focus on writing your acceptance speech for Thursday night?” Sarina questions, earning a glance from him. “We both know you’re getting Most Popular Driver.”

“I can’t argue with that,” Dr. Grayson admits as she hands the couple some print-outs. “I know you both are already in love with this baby, so feel free to stare at these images until we see each other again.”

“Thank you for everything, truthfully.” Dr. Grayson looks back over at them.

“You’re welcome, and I hope everything goes according to plan for you both. Have fun at the Snowball.”

Wednesday, November 28 – Las Vegas, Nevada

Sarina focuses on herself in the mirror, fixing the fluff on her shoulder, followed by making sure it crossed her body as it was supposed to. She had just finished getting her hair angled how she wanted, and knew the next step was making sure the dress sat correctly on her body.

She then hears her phone go off once, ignoring it at first as she wanted to make sure she was ready on time. However, after hearing the phone go off another 10 times in a row, she began to wonder as she walked out of the bathroom to where it sat on the dresser. Were they running late? She also knew there were probably going to be other messages throughout the day, as everybody worked out plans for later on that night. With Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson supposedly organizing the bulk of the birthday party, she was a little skeptical.

“You…look…stunning,” Chase slowly comments, having caught the first glimpse of what she was wearing for the Myers Brothers Luncheon. “That color suits you perfectly.”

“Are you sure we’re not running late?” She questions out-loud as she unlocks her phone.

“I was told to be ready for 12 and down in the lobby. We still have 15 minutes.” He then hears his phone go off, walking over to where it sat beside hers on the dresser. “You’re popular today.”

“Congratulations?” He then looks over at puzzled. “I’ve got five text messages saying congratulations, and they’re all from people who knew I was pregnant already…”

“That’s weird, as I have one that seems off, too.” He then shows her the phone so she can read the text message. After a pair of confused glances at each other, they went back to scrolling through the other notifications. “Actually, congratulations is in order my dear.”

“What did you find?” He then holds the phone up, which showed the notification from twitter that NASCAR had sent out. They elected to announce the Truck Series and XFINITY Series Most Popular Driver Award winners prior to the luncheon and tomorrow’s Cup banquet. While Elliot Sadler had gotten the award for XFINITY, it was Sarina taking the award in truck. “Oh wow….”

“Congratulations to Sarina Ott on being the Most Popular Driver. She’s the first female to win the award in NASCAR’s national series history, and brings home the first recognition for Kyle Busch Motorsports.” Her jaw drops a little as she would’ve expected KBM to have at least one with talents like Christopher Bell and Erik Jones through the years. “I’m surprised Kyle hasn’t called you yet, but I guess I get to be the first one to say in person – congratulations.” He then gives her a kiss.

“Thank you….” She then looks back at the notifications once again, replying back to a couple as she stands there in disbelief. “Is it wrong that I don’t even know what to say?” Chase shakes his head no.

“You’ve got a whole week to plan your speech for the banquet.” She had to chuckle a little, as it seemed weird having the truck banquet after the Cup ceremonies.

“But seriously, Chase. A small town girl who was considered an outkast at times, who some people wanted nothing to do with, who continued to alienate people and make mistakes, and admittedly isn’t easy on trust is this year’s most popular driver.” She then looks over at him, disbelief written in her eyes still. “Seriously?”

“I see someone that has inspired a nation. You showed everybody that no matter what happens in your past, you can find a way to overcome that and become the person you’re truly meant to be. You showed everybody the value of strength, perseverance and determination with everything that has been thrown at you. I also see your drive on track to succeed, and the success that you’ve been able to have. You’ve earned this all the wa-”

“Oh come on, Chase. You can’t seriously say that without admitting that there’s got to be some influence on the award being that I’m dating you, going to drive for Dale next year, and I drive for Kyle this year.” Chase takes a deep breath, remembering advice that he was given a couple years back when he won the award in the XFINITY Series.

“I can’t deny that, okay? There’s certainly fans that will vote for you for those factors alone. However, I also see those who are genuinely Sarina Ott fans from the beginning, the late model days, and seeing you as a driver yourself. Do you remember the little girl that you helped at the hall of fame? Do you remember the father we met in Amsterdam who knew nothing about racing, but yet his daughter knew of you and admired your strength? There’s always going to be those who gravitate to you because of who you’re surrounded by. However, there’s also those who like you for who you are, and appreciate every bit of who you are. So when everybody tries to shove those reasons down your throat, just damn well remember those little moments. Remember everything that you’ve done to get here, and remember every person whom you directly affected to get here. You earned this, you deserve it, and we’re going to celebrate it next weekend at your banquet.” She didn’t know what to say in response, surprised he had even remembered those small moments. Certainly they were glued in her mind as they meant something, but for him to remember took it to a whole new level for her.

“Have I mentioned how much I love my Georgia Peach birthday boy lately?” He had to chuckle in response as she leaned over, snatching another kiss. “Thank you for being my rock, and always being here for me.”

“Thank you for being here for me, too.” They then finish getting ready, grabbing their phones and her clutch before heading out of the hotel room. Immediately upon exiting, they spot an envelope on the floor.

“Seriously? I mean, how does she know already what room we’re in?” Chase picks it up, shoving it in his pocket as he walks down the hall. “You’re not going to open it?”

“I’ll alert security that she’s in the building and knows what room we’re in, and they can handle it.” He then waits for her to catch up with him, followed by wrapping an arm around her shoulder. “Why  should we mess up our good day?”

“I still like how you wore pink to match my dress.” He then smiles as they reach the elevator to head downstairs. “You look very handsome, sir Elliott.”

“We had to celebrate your accomplishment in a small way, and you look extremely charming, Ms. Ott.” He grabs another kiss, before leading her into the elevator to head downstairs to the luncheon.

For the most part, the luncheon was a pretty dull event in watching their various competitors go up to accept awards, along with Todd Gordon’s Championship Speech. The only thing that caught either of their attention to really watch was William Byron’s rookie of the year speech.

“That’ll be you one day,” Chase comments, as Sarina leans her head against him. “I’ll be sitting here holding our baby as you tell the world how you succeeded at the highest level.”

“It doesn’t hurt the dream,” she admits. “I just hope William knows what he’s in store for later on tonight.” Chase had to chuckle a little, having heard a couple rumors as he glances over at her.

“Has Jeff or Jimmie given you any details yet?” She shakes her head no. “You’re not lying to me, are you?” She shakes her head no once again.

Even though there was no awards for him to accept at the Luncheon this year, he was required to take part in a mandatory media availability to answer questions for the media that wanted to speak with him.

Sarina stood back, watching as she knew it wouldn’t take too long with the focus being on the likes of William and Joey. Though she had to admit she was caught off-guard with various people walking up to congratulate her on receiving the Most Popular Driver Award.

“Maybe there’s hope for me tomorrow yet,” Kyle comments as he stops by, earning a chuckle in response from her. “Oh, I see how it is. I let your fiancé drive your late model and this is how you treat me….”

“We both know that you’re going on a hope and a prayer to win that award tomorrow,” she offers with a smile.

They were almost done when she hears her phone go off, pulling it out of the clutch that she was holding. She smiles as the party details had finally arrived from Jeff in where they were to meet, and at what time. Everybody was supposed to go to dinner as many had sponsor obligated functions to go to, and then meet up at the chosen location at 8pm. There’d be cake and drinks to be had by everybody, with those going past midnight to make sure that the young teammate – William Byron – got some for his 21st tomorrow.

As soon as everybody arrived, it seems the drinks began immediately with everybody and their best friend offering to buy Chase a drink for his birthday. Though in not wanting to deal with too bad of a hangover tomorrow, he was trying to keep it as minimal as possible.

“Since you won’t take my good damn Tequila shots, then maybe I can interest you in something else,” Ryan starts as he walks away from where Chase was standing.

“You could just do the shots yourself,” Chase offers as Ryan shakes his head no. “Okay, maybe we could pass them over to Jimmie.” Jimmie admittedly had to chuckle as he shakes his head no.

“With the travel whirlwind that I’ve been on since Miami, I need to take it slow if I am going to survive this week,” Jimmie admits.

“So that’s why you’re sticking to beer tonight…” Jimmie nods his head in agreement as he places a hand on the glasses.

“But don’t worry because if one birthday boy don’t want them, we have another at the crack of midnight.” Chase laughed as he looked over to where William was hanging out with Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

“He has no idea what he’s in for with you guys. I almost feel bad, but then I remember what you did to me.” Jimmie immediately puts his hands up in the air. “Don’t act innoc-”

“That was Ricky and Kyle who thought it’d be a great idea to do that.” Chase rolls his eyes, but had to chuckle. It was definitely a new experience waking up on the roof. “Answering back birthday wishes on the phone?” Chase was trying to be discrete with his phone in hand, but obviously that hadn’t worked.

“Snowball Derby qualifying draw. Marcus (Richmond) sent me that he pulled 37.” Jimmie looks at him slightly confused. He had heard that Chase was running the event, but didn’t know whether that was a good number or not. “He wanted to pull between 15th and 30th as that’s normally when the track is at its best, but we missed that by a bit.”

“So when you don’t qualify on the pole, you can now blame the crew chief.” Chase smiles a little with a nod of the head. “Have some fun down there. It’s actually fun to see you back in a late model.” Chase couldn’t deny that as the more he thought about it, the more excited he was. Maybe that was influencing his decision to avoid as much trouble as possible these next couple of days before going.

“It’s certainly been a couple years, and it’s always fun going to the Snowball. I was surprised when Kyle asked me, but I wasn’t going to turn him down.” Jimmie admittedly was caught off guard when he saw the announcement, but understood the basis with Sarina’s pregnancy.

“It makes me wonder why Kyle wouldn’t just run himself.” Chase nodded his head in agreement, remembering he had brought that up without much response from Kyle.

“Since I’ve known you, there’s only been one cake that you’ve accepted for your birthday,” Ryan starts as he begins to walk back over towards them finally. “Now it may not be a good as your mom’s classic German Chocolate recipe, but I had to my boy a favor tonight considering I didn’t buy you a gift.”

“Seriously?” Chase questions, as Ryan just shrugs his shoulders.

“Pregnancy has got my mind going crazy,” Ryan admits as Sarina and Lindsay could only smile. Lindsay then reaches over, running her finger along the edge and licking it.

“Damn that’s good,” she lets out, going for another when Ryan smacks her hand.

“Oh my gosh….” Sarina lets out as she had done the same without being noticed.

“They won’t even leave my cake alone long enough for you to light the candles,” Chase comments, as the girls shrug their shoulders.

“I think this baby is all you. I’ve never been one for German chocolate, but damn, that’s good and I want some more.” She then snatches a candle from Ryan, placing it right in the center. “Go ahead and light this so he can blow it out and we can please his baby.”

“I’d rather do this,” Ryan comments, before snatching a good piece, stuffing in Chase’s face as everybody laughs.

“I see how it is….” Chase simply says with a smile. He knew that he’d get Ryan back later. “I guess I could say thank you for the ruined cake.”

“Now will you take the shots to go with the cake?” Chase lets out a sigh, slowly shaking his head no. “Seriously? Where’s the man that I traveled around the world with?”

“Looking out for my lady tonight…” Chase then wraps an arm around Sarina, pulling her close with a kiss. “Besides, Jack tastes a lot better…”

“I can take care of myself if you want to have some fun,” Sarina tells him. “But I will say, this will be worth your while.” He looks over slightly intrigued as she walks away.

“Someone is getting laid tonight!” Ricky lets out from his corner of the room with his glass up in the air.

“You’re just jealous….” Sarina gives him a wink as she leaves the room. She couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when she returned.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 119: The Note

Friday, September 21 – Richmond Raceway

Chase was glad to be in the garage area early as he looked over to the neighbouring garage stall. It was no secret that his mind had been busy the past week following the meeting with Shelley as he contemplated a bunch of different things. Could he have handled her differently, and what was he supposed to do with the other note that rested in his procession?

He had turned to Jimmie for advice on many occasions, surprisingly the situation with Alison not ranking on that list as their discussions focused on racing, attitude, work-outs and life decisions. He wanted to turn to somebody different, someone whom he trusted deeply, and that was Jimmie. But was he ready to discuss the topic of Alison with her?

Remembering the words from therapy and a deep breath, he made his way over and got his teammate’s attention.

“What is it that you wanted to talk to me about?” Jimmie asks, once they’re out of earshot of the crew members, half-expecting a question about Richmond or how to handle a tough start to the playoffs.

“Do you remember Alison?” He questions, earning a curious glance from Jimmie who simply nods his head in return. “I wish I could’ve told you at the time what was goin-”

“Hey, I get it, okay? That’s not easy to deal with, so I can understand why it’s tough to talk about. I learned that when it was revealed as to what she had done, and it makes me sick to my stomach to even imagine going through that. I don’t think I would’ve let her live if I was in your shoes.” Chase was used to comments similar to that nature, and still wondered whether he had made the right choice. “Why are you bringing this up?”

“About a month ago, she had a note sent to be delivered to me via the courts. I’ve heard it’s a possible apology with everything that she’s going through.” Jimmie lets out a sigh, knowing that combined with Chase’s compassion could be a bad situation. “I can’t decide whether to open it or to just burn it like Sarina said.”

“Are you mentally prepared to open that door again?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, having not even considered that. “Given what I’ve heard, you had a lot going on to the point that rumors were you went to therapy. For you to have to go that far, she must’ve took it deep and I’m worried about you if you re-open those wounds too soon for you to handle.”

“Alan told me the same thing…” Jimmie glances over his shoulder at the crew chief, before turning his eyes back to Chase.

“You’ve always trusted Alan’s judgment….” Chase nods his head, knowing that without a doubt. Ultimately, he had trusted Alan with his life at times.

“Shelley also approached us for an apology. We scheduled the meeting for Monday afternoon at the house. Needless to say, I chewed her ass out.” Jimmie’s jaw drops in surprise. “I don’t know what came over me, but I just let her hear how much pain and anger I felt from what she had done in possibly getting Chris released. She then asked me if I wasn’t ever going to forgive, why set up a meeting? If you continue to let people run over you and get away with it, they are just going to keep doing it. If you let somebody control you too much, they are probably going to take advantage of yo-”

“In other words, your regrets over Alison in letting her control out and that situation for so long.” Chase takes a deep breath, slowly nodding his head. He couldn’t avoid that comment, no matter who he talked to, as Samantha and Alan had already brought up the same thing. “Have you been told lately that was it not your fau-”

“I know it wasn’t my fault, Jimmie! I’ve heard that so many times that I’ve lost count. However, I still made the decision to accept her deal. I still made the decision to keep it a secret. I still made the decision that brought her closer to us. Hence wanting to take a stand so we don’t have a repeat. I’m done being hurt, and I’m done playing everyone’s games. I only accepted that meeting with Shelley so I could hear her words, and decide what I needed to do moving forward so that myself, Sarina, and my family never get hurt again.” Jimmie nods his head, accepting, now realizing how this translated back to Alison.

“So now you’re wondering if you should open that envelope in a want to protect them?” Chase nods his head yes. “Well, for starters, Alison isn’t getting out of the mental institution anytime soo-”

“How do you know that? There’s been talk about them finding what she has wrong with her, and possibly releasing her sooner than stated. Of course, there’s a parole board and such, but that door has been spo-”

“She’d never get past the parol-”

“Never say never, Jimmie. She’s bent rules before.” Jimmie takes a deep breath, nodding his head. It was obvious that he wasn’t ever going to totally erase that fear, and that was understandable.

“Regardless, that note is her writing. It could be a bunch of jibberish to mess with your head. It could be a sincere apology. It could be her attempt to get you have her released early. I understand doing everything that you can for your family as I would do the same for Chandra, Genieve, and Lydia. But is it worth it with all the pain? Only you can decide if you can handle that.” Jimmie then places a hand on his shoulder. “I’ve always believed in you, Chase, and you’ll figure this out. If you need to talk further, you know where to find me as I am willing to discuss whatever you want.” Jimmie then takes a deep breath, re-analyzing their full conversation as he was intrigued by parts of Chase discussing his feelings in relation to her. “And please remember that Alison can’t hurt you, and you can let go now if you haven’t already.”

“Every day, it seems it fades more and more into the distance. But I’d rather remember so I don’t make the same mistakes again.” Chase then turns on his heels, returning back to his stall with Cup practice set to begin as scheduled.

“Are you okay?” Sarina questions as she walks over, with the second session set to started soon. Chase already had put his helmet on his head, ready to go, knowing they needed to make the most of it having timed in only 15th quickest.

“Just hoping we figure out what we’re missing,” Chase answers as he glances at the speed chart, seeing the speeds laid down for XFINITY practice. He had to smile at Dale showing speed in his return behind the wheel.

“That wouldn’t have anything to do with what you and Jimmie were discussing, would it?” Chase thought that she wasn’t in sight at the time, knowing she was looking for Samantha. However, obviously she’d caught their discussion.

“Everything is fine, believe me.” He then wraps an arm around her, pulling her a little tighter, as she plants a kiss on his nose.

“Okay. I wanted to come see you before I went and laid down, so I’ll see you after practice. Be careful, and find that speed.” She then goes to leave him, but he holds onto her arm a little tight. He could tell by her tone that something was off.

“What’s wron-”

“I’m fin-”

“You’re lying.” She then lets out a sigh, wanting to shelve this in the annoying compartment that seemed to be filling quickly since Indianapolis. However, she understood his concern as he wasn’t wrong.

“I have a small headache right now. I don’t know if it’s because I practically puked my guts out this morning, or if it’s something else. It’s just nagging me a little. So I am going to lay down in the motorcoach with the lights off and see if that eases it.”

“Cucumbers on the eyes works.” She breaks out in a chuckle as he looks at her dead serious. “It’s not some beauty myth as it honestly works. I’ve done it before.”

“Alright, I’ll try it.” He then pulls her back into a quick hug, before letting her go finally.

“I hope you feel better. Tell that baby of ours to behave, will you?” She then chuckles as she rubs her stomach a little, before heading off out of the garage stall.

Chase leaned back against the pit box, with a sigh. it seemed no matter what they tried the final session, there was no speed to found in the No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet, leaving them ranked 29th on the board.

“Does it at least feel comfortable?” Alan wonders as he looks over the notes once again with Josh and Tom.

“I’d give you a passing grade, but it could be better,” Chase answers as Alan just shakes his head.

“Maybe we should’ve totally gone the other way. It just feels so weird to be so far off as we used to be hitting these tracks like gold.”

“I’ll check with Jesse (Saunders), and see what direction he and Chad went for Jimmie,” Tom suggests. “Maybe it’ll give us something better.”

“We got to do something,” Chase offers as he lets out a sigh.

“We’ll figure it out,” Alan offers, patting his shoulder. “Go check on your girl, and I’ll see you at 5.” Chase nods his head, accepting, knowing that was when Cup qualifying was scheduled for.

After signing some autographs along the way, Chase was able to get through the garage area and back to the privacy of the motorcoach lot. He entered the code in the door, quietly entering as he slowly closed the door behind him. Making his way through, he smiles as he leans back against the door opening for their bedsroom, seeing her curdled up on the bed, asleep.

He grabs a bottle of water and chicken quesadilla from the fridge that he had made earlier before sitting at the small table. His mind was still stuck on the image in the room, as he takes a deep breath.

His life was set to change a lot over the next couple of months, as he’d be married in January, and a father by March. He couldn’t help but remember everything he and Sarina had been through to get to this point, everything they’d overcome and the painful nights they’d never thought possible to escape. Knowing his family was ready to expand, and not wanting to see his child, or the mother of his child, in pain, he knew he had no choice in the matter. Regardless of personal feelings, the letter couldn’t remain a mystery forever.

He stands up, walking over to the cabinet where he had stashed the envelope, pulling it out. He remembered packing it in his backpack with his IPad and phone charger, wanting to have it in case it was needed. He remembered putting it up there, wanting to keep it out of sight and mind. Clearly, that hadn’t worked either.

Sitting back at the table, he runs his fingers along the edges, before ripping it open slowly. He tips it onto the table, watching the piece of paper that he had been told was inside fall out before him. it was no surprise to feel a shiver through his spine, recognizing the handwriting, remembering the letters that started everything.

Taking a quick bite of his lunch, he brings the letter into view before him on the table, ready to dive in.

Chase,

I’ve written you so many letters over this past year that it’s crazy to think I am writing you another one. I remembered the first letter that I wrote you, back in January, with some surprising contents. Ultimately, that began everything was more letters came, followed by what happened.

They tell me that I am sick. They tell me that I have multiple personalities, and  a disorder that needs to be medicated. It’s kind of hilarious if you consider that since you’re almost living two lives. You’re the perfect sweetheart for Sarina, while pondering a life with someone else. I know about your kiss with Erin, and I know you have feelings for me. That was obvious in the way you slowly caressed your lips against mine, savoring every single moment.

I know that I need to spend some time away, but I look forward to our reunion. I want you to meet this baby that I am having. Some test says that you’re not the father, but I don’t doubt you are. Recall the passionate night we had together.

I can tell you when we reunite, we can spend some memorable times together. We were just starting to get close. I’m sure you recall those kisses, and dream of them every night. I’m sure you recall how close we were able to get, and I look forward to pulling more layers off the next time we see each other. No more secrets, no more games, it’s time for our feelings to show.

See ya soon, your favorite Hooters Girl, Alison Reynolds.

“You are sick!” He lets out as he scrunches the paper up in a fury, chucking it across the room in a instant. He then pulls his phone off the charger, sending a quick text in a fury to his lawyer to make sure that no further letters be left for him to pick up as he didn’t need her trouble in his life.

“Chase…..” Sarina slowly comments as she places a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m sorry I woke you.”  Chase slowly glances up at her, not even realizing that she had been standing by him through the second half of reading that letter. “Jimmie warned me. Alan warned me. I still opened and read that sick lett-”

“Curiosity got the best of you, okay? Besides, you did it for the right reasons in wanting to protect me, and our baby. Your strength and want for us means more to me than you probably realize.” She then slowly sits down across from him, placing her hands on top of his. “Now, damn well let me be here for you and help you.”

“I’m fin-” She shakes her head no, having seen the outburst firsthand.

“She stirred up a lot of emotions, Chase.” He then takes a deep breath, shifting those out of focus.

“I’m just frustrated that I once again got sucked into her games. Once again, I opened her letter and read her words. Once again, I let her fill my head with lies. It’s the same thing that got me into this mes-”

“You did nothing wrong, Chase. She would’ve found some way to get to you, no matter what you did. Actually, I’m damn well thankful that we’re both alive and were able to survive and move forward.” He nods his head, knowing that she was right. “Don’t be mad at yourself, Chase. You did nothing wrong.”

“I know..” He then sits back in the seat as much as she could with her holding his hands. “I just hate how easily she can get under my skin.”

“Then don’t give her that power. Don’t re-imagine everything happening. Don’t think about what happened. Don’t even look back a single bit. Focus on yourself. Focus on me. focus on our baby. Focus on your race team. Focus on your chances in the playoffs. Do whatever else you need to do.” He had already been set to head down that path as he looked into the eyes before him.

“How’s your headache?” She smiles, as the cucumbers miraculously worked.

“Your suggestion worked, Dr. Elliott. Let it be known that you can always take care of me.” He smiles as he leans over the table, snagging a kiss.

“Good, because I’ve heard that I can give you wonderful loving tender care.”  She smirks, knowing that he was right along those lines.

Alison stood watching the TV monitor, licking her lips as they showed her man on TV, sitting on the pit road, sharing a laugh during qualifying. Despite ending up 19th on the board, he had actually found a reason to joke around.

“I’ll be seeing you very soon sweetheart,” she offers, before turning on her heels and facing the doctor behind her. “I mean, I’m the perfect Hooters girl. How can he say no?”

“I better get my payment,” the doctor instructs as she walks over to him, running a finger along his neck.

“You’ve been such a good help. You snuck me out a back door, and nobody knows as they think I’m knocked out on high isolation due to an incident and don’t want to bother me. I love how you added only you can check on me.” Her finger slowly makes it over to his shoulder. “Then bringing me to your clinic, letting me change my whole appearance. I mean, you’re a miracle worker when it comes to plastic surgery. Who knew that I was such a beautiful, perfect blond with blue eyes? These contacts feel wonderful, and I’ve always wanted to be named Britney. The name Britney Teals is such a pretty name, actually. Of course, I wonder what happened to the real Britn-”

“I took care of that, as you said I’d have a bonus. Do you not remember?” She nods her head, accepting.

“That’s right. It’s such a shame as she looked to be just ready to hit the peak of her life soon.” She then looks into the doctor’s eyes directly. “Your payment is so easy, doc, because let’s face it – you owed me after you killed my bab-”

“You attacked me, and I pushed back. I’m sorry that you fell.” She then gives him a hurt appearance.

“That’s it? Just an apology for being a murderer? Actually, though, thank you for what you did. Now I can do what I need to do without carrying extra weight. But first, I need to make sure to cover my basis – an eye for an eye as they say.” She then takes the knife that she had been holding under her gown, shoving it in the doctor’s gut directly. “Goodnight, Dr. Leons. I’m sorry for murdering you.”

She watches him fall down, glancing back at the TV with another smile, before making her way out of the office.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 114: Indianapolis Double

Monday, September 10 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway

“Can you believe it? It finally stopped raining!” Sarina lets out as she takes her seat atop of the GMS Racing pit box behind Chad Norris.

“Miracles actually do happen,” the crew chief mused with a nod in her direction.

From drop of the green flag, Chase ran up front throughout the race, showing the potential of the No. 23 Chevrolet underneath him. Chad Norris also pulled the perfect strategy, bringing Chase to pit road near the end of stage. As a result, he would start first for the third and final stage after the leaders pitted.

The strength of the car shined through as he led the field around the speedway, holding a pretty wheel with sights set on winning.

However, the package NASCAR chose for  the XFINITY Series allowed for runs to be created if you drafted together with teammates. The JR Motorsports played that to perfection on a late-race restart as Justin Allgaier and Tyler Reddick got a run on him together, passing him to take the leadwith 18 laps to go.

“Ugh…” was all Sarina could say, knowing that it’d be tough to make it up in the final laps.

He wasn’t able to, as predicted, ultimately crossing the finish line with a fourth-place finish.

“I hated that for you,” she comments as she rests her head on his shoulder. “But on a brighter note, I am going to have a pair of badass teammates next year.” Chase chuckles as he couldn’t be upset in seeing the success for Justin and Tyler, either.

“Careful how loud you say that,” he offered, with a quick kiss.  “One down, one to go.”

Sarina once again climbs the step of the pit box, this time in very familiar territory on top of the No. 9 pit box. She took her usual seat behind Alan, catching the crew chief’s attention.

“I guess congratulations are in order,” Alan offers with a smile, as he holds his arms out for a hug. She then accepts it, graciously.

“Thank you,” she replies, before getting comfortable in her spot once again. She was admittedly nervous discussing the baby topic with Alan based on his thoughts as Chase expressed yesterday.

“I wish you and Chase the best – I really do, and I want to see it work out for you both because of course I want the best for you guys. You deserve it after everything you’ve been through these past couple years. Just promise me you’ll be smart, and careful.” She nods her head, accepting, knowing exactly what he was talking about.

“I know what I’m doing Alan.”

With pace laps beginning, Alan was set to focus on his job at hand, while she got comfortable knowing it was going to be a long afternoon.

From drop of the green flag, Chase showed that he had a solid car as he kept himself just inside the top-10 until the second competition caution, when he was scored eighth. Alan would make a strategy call with the yellow flags close together, electing to put just two tires on the NAPA Chevrolet. This would allow them to jump up to third for the restart.

The discussion on the radio through the caution turned interesting, though, with a couple comments from both in a side skirt that was flared out on someone else’s car after contact. While normally that would be something concerning, it seemed to be giving them an advantage.

“I can put it back if it helps that much,” Chase joked on the radio, causing a couple chuckles from Alan and Sarina.

“Let’s just focus on our race,” Alan offered. “We’re doing a great job so far, bud.”

The two tire called proved to be a little tougher than imagined, but Chase was able to hold on to score a seventh-place finish to end stage one.

“I am going to pit you here – setting us up for later,” Alan tells him as he brings him down pit road at the end of the stage. With several others staying out, it drop Chase back to the 20th position for the restart. Sarina took a deep breath, not sure if it was butterflies or baby jitters swirling in the stomach right now.

The plan worked by the crew chief as they stayed out through the stage while others pitted, gaining track position in the process, crossing the finish line with a second-place finish.

Alan would bring him down pit road, wanting to put new tires on to start the run to the checkered, which dropped him back to ninth. The strategy worked as even with a green flag pit cycle, Chase would make his way up to fifth. The caution then came out with 18 to go, as Alan debated what to do next. Track position was nice, but tires seemed critical.

“Bring it in….” Alan finally decided as Sarina let out a sigh of her own. Personally, she felt they had a better chance by staying out.

Restarting 14th, Chase would gain four spots before the next yellow flag came out with seven laps to go. The final restart with three laps to go would not go accordingly with Clint Bowyer spinning his tires, backing up the line, causing Chase to lose valuable ground. he’d ultimately cross the finish line with a 15th-place finish.

“I shouldn’t have brought you down pit road that late in the race,” Alan comments as they meet up together after the race. Both of them, along with Sarina, were wanting to get out of Indianapolis as soon as possible, but that wasn’t happening as Chase needed to do playoff photos.

“I still agree with the call,” Chase offers, catching the crew chief’s attention. “I think we would’ve lost a lot of ground with tires being so important. If Bowyer doesn’t spin the tires, we finish inside the top-10 about seventh or eighth, where I’d finish without new tires. It was a gamble either way, and I’d rather try so we know than wonder.”

“I was happy with the performance.” Chase nods his head in agreement as he reaches down, rubbing the back of legs. “You had a busy day…”

“I just want to go home, just put my legs up, and relax..” He then lets out a small yawn, as he continues rubbing the back of his legs. “My calves are sore.”

“Did you drink enough?” Chase wasn’t sure on the answer to the question, but he felt he had. “Well, at least Sarina can take care of you. Oh wait, you already took care of her in good fashion.” Chase then gives Alan a glance as Alan begins chuckling.

“Am I supposed to expect these jokes for the next seven months?” Alan thinks it over, before nodding his head. “As long as you don’t say anythi-”

“I may not agree with every bit of your plan, but I won’t spoil the party. Are you sure that Kyle and Samantha won’t say anything?” Chase knew that for certain based on their conversations the past two days, especially with Sam.

“They’re both totally on-board.” Alan was surprised to hear that, given the risks involved.

“I thought Samantha would’ve said something given her experience.” Chase had expected that, as well, however she seemed to be the strongest one in Sarina’s corner of them all – or it seemed. Sarina had hinted otherwise based on what she had discussed with Samantha without Chase.

“Samantha is on the fence, but says she’ll do whatever we need to support us with our decisions.” Alan smiles as he puts a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“I promise to follow through with that, as well, even if I want to smack sense into you both sometimes.”

“Thank you everybody,” the photographer says once the last photo is taken of the three Hendrick Motorsports teammates together.

“We need a selfie for social media and then you can go,” the one PR rep states, as she hands a phone over to Alex.

“Get in here guys!” Alex says as he sets it up, ready to take the image of the three of them together.

“I’m good…” Chase comments, earning a glance from Alex and Jimmie.

“What? Are you afraid the trophy is going to bite you or something?” Chase then gives it a glance over, before looking back up at his teammates.

“I’m not touching it.” Jimmie just rolls his eyes as he looks over at him.

“Scared of the jinx?” Jimmie questions, earning a nod from Chase. It was one of the oldest tales in racing – don’t touch the trophy before you get it, or you’ll jinx yourself. Chase had always followed that rule, and even ready to drop suspicions away, he wasn’t going to break that today. “Well, I don’t believe in those crazy suspicions. As a matter of fact, I believe you should become friends with it so it comes home with you.” Jimmie then leans right on it, giving Chase a smirk before looking back at Alex. “Make it work, kid.”

“Say cheese!” Alex lets out as he gets it centered so they were all in the frame with the trophy.

Tuesday, September 11 – JR Motorsports

“Are you nervous?” Chase questions as he holds the door open for her, following Sarina inside.

“A little,” Sarina answers as she glances back at him, taking his hand before heading towards the office doors. Sarina had called ahead of time, saying she wanted to stop by. Kelley had told her to make her way through, no need to stop at the desk, as she’d be in her office. “You’ve got some great memories here.”

“Lots of fun times, actually. I wouldn’t change the decision to drive for Dale and Kelley.” He then squeezes her hand, catching a gaze from her eyes. “I know you’ll make your own memories here, too.”

They make their way down the short hallway, knocking on Kelley’s office door. She motions for them to come in, surprised when she sees Chase with Sarina.

“Chase, I wasn’t expecting you,” Kelley says, giving them both a hug before taking her usual seat back behind her desk. “So did you bring a new bargaining partner?” Sarina chuckles as she takes a seat across from Kelley.

“I figured he should be here when I told you the news,” Sarina starts, catching Kelley’s interest immediately. What would Sarina have to share that she’d want Chase to be there for her?

“Well Dale can’t be here today due to NBC and sponsor commitments, so please go ahead…” Sarina takes a nervous deep breath, debating how to tell Kelley the news.

“I want to say yes to the deal, and agree to drive for you next season as it’s a spectacular oppor-”

“Please tell me you didn’t go to Mike Beam for her, Chase…” Chase puts his hands up defensively immediately, knowing that he didn’t want to be Kelley’s bad side.

“I haven’t done a single bit of negotiating for her,” he confesses. “I always believed that she’d stay with KBM and move on to JGR next.” Kelley knew that was a possibility, but also knew the dynamics at play over there – hence the move for William a couple years ago.

“Please continue, Sarina,” Kelley instructs as Sarina takes another shaky breath.

“As I was saying, everything about it is perfect as I can’t find any argument against it,” Sarina continues. “Under any other circumstances, I would’ve come here and said yes without another discussion. However, I have a unique situation. I am pregnant.” Kelley’s jaw drops immediately as she glances between the pair.

“Seriously?” Sarina nods her head as Chase places a hand on her shoulder. “How far along are you?”

“Two months..” Kelley’s deadpan surprise look remained as she glanced between the pair once again. “I just found out this past weekend at Indianapolis. It’s strange what you can uncover during a rain delay, huh?” Chase almost wanted to chuckle already imagining another couple having baby news in a couple weeks as a result of the boredom. “I am in due early in March. I wanted to come and talk to you about this today because I believed you had a right to know before you decided or announced anything. I’ve thought about this, and I was thinking that once I have the baby in March, if you are willing, I would like to begin driving for your team then.”

“So in other words, you’re going to miss about three or four races and then planned to step in as if nothing happened?” Sarina slowly nods her head, the nerves growing in hearing Kelley’s tone.

“The playoff format allows for her to do so…” Chase offers, trying to ease Kelley’s heavy presence.

“I am still in shock that you’re pregnant – and you got her pregnant,” Kelley comments as she tries to process everything they just told her.

“I was taking birth control, he was using condoms – it still happened,” Sarina confesses as Kelley’s shock hit a new level. “And trust me, if you do agree to all of this, I won’t be marching in your office next year mid-season saying oh surprise I’m pregnant again.” Sarina then glances down, taking a deep breath. “I just can’t give up this baby because it wouldn’t feel right after everything that we’ve gone through.” She then slowly glances back up at Kelley. “But at the same time, I don’t want to let go of this opportunity because it’s everything.”

“If you came to any other plain old car owner with news like this, you’d probably get a strip torn off your ass and sent back out the door for messing with plans.” Sarina felt every nerve tingle, but also wanted to argue that after her own discussion with Kyle and Samantha. “However, we’re family. I’ve known Chase for a very long time, and my happiness for him soon to be a father is bursting at the seams. I remember the days he’d spend here playing with Wyatt while waiting in between meetings or sponsor commitments, and he was great with him. I know he’ll make a great father – just like you’ll make a great mother. I’ve believed in you since day one when Chase started bringing you around. I’ve watched you grow as a driver. So given the circumstances, how well I know you both, I’ll work with your so-called plan.”  Sarina smiles as it was a big relief off of her back to have someone else committed to everyone. It was also nice in hearing Kelley’s sentiments as it further solidified her decision to join JRM for 2019.

“Maybe Elliott will drive the first couple of races,” Chase suggests as Kelley nods her head in agreement, already having made a note to ask him. “Oh, the other thing – we’re not revealing she’s pregnant till after the season.”

“I am going to finish the year at KBM as committed with a focus on that championship,” Sarina adds, catching Kelley’s surprise glance once again.

“Are you sure you can handle that while carrying a baby?” Kelley questions and Sarina nods her head. “Well, I hope you come away as the champion as you’d certainly deserve it for all of your effort.” She then takes a deep breath, glancing over her calendar. “That said, I won’t say anything to anybody else within the company – other than Dale, that is – until you’re ready to do so. We’ll reveal you’re driving for us as originally scheduled in a couple weeks, and then handle the fall-out when you announce the pregnancy.”

“Thank you….” She then glances at Chase, knowing where their next stop would take them. “Now let’s just hope that Cindy and Bill are as accepting.” Kelley then looks up from her notes.

“Expecting grandparents better be a happy reaction. Actually, I expect Cindy to smother you with love.” Sarina had to chuckle at the thought considering where their relationship started.

“What about the plan, though?” Chase questions, having his own nerves in revealing that to his parents after Alan’s reaction.

“All I can say is good luck on that one,” Kelley offers. “I can already sense their fears perking up because they understand the dangers of racing having grown up around it just like me. However, if you explain your motives, you may get Bill on your side at least.”

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…”