The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 248: Digital Ally 400

Friday, May 10 – Somewhere over the United States

With the court session out of the way, Sarina was glad to be on a plane headed to Kansas so she could be with Chase. After that experience, even if limited in seeing Carter, there was nothing more comforting than being in his arms.

Although it was a short flight – 2 hours and 15 minutes, Sarina was still looking for ways to pass time. knowing that Chase had media availability following practice, she couldn’t help but glance at what he had to say out of curiosity.

“What are you chuckling about?” Christopher questions as he hears a couple chuckles from Sarina, catching his attention. Considering the seriousness of the day, he was honestly was surprised.

“Chase’s media availability,” she replies, which results in a confused glance in response. “He’s finally finding his honest tone with their constant questions, and I think the reporters are getting more than they would’ve thought.”

“Oh really?” She nods her head, re-loading the quote on her phone.

“They asked him about his thoughts on how NASCAR handles driver feedba-”

“Is that because of Kevin lashing out on his radio show on Tuesday?” She shrugs her shoulders, as she hadn’t honestly kept up with the news due to being busy enough herself with the court dates and Abigail.

“I think there is certainly a right way to maybe bring it up. Frankly, I’ve tried to voice my opinion at different times or in those meetings that we’re supposed to voice our opinions in. And at the end of the day, I’ve come to the realization, and maybe this will change as time goes, but I just don’t think that my opinion matters to the people who make the rules.” Christopher’s face instantly turned to shock as he took a closer glance to make sure that she was reading that correctly.

“That comes across more shocking especially with him being the most popular driver…” Sarina nods her head as she continues to read through the rest of the quotes. “But he is right. I mean, how many times have the drivers complained about the package and been ignored?”

“Is that way you stated a couple weeks ago that you weren’t about to change your role, and you enjoyed doing what you were doing with the Xfinity cars?” Christopher chuckles as he was surprised she remembered that so clearly.

“Listen, everybody would love to be in the Cup Series one day. But you have to admit – these cars are a ton of fun to drive everywhere.” She nods her head in agreement as she couldn’t complain about her current situation with JR Motorsports.

“Christopher, thank you for coming with me, from the trip to Arizona to the flight back. It means the world to me.” He smiles as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“Anything for my best friend.”

Friday, May 10 – Kansas Speedway

Chase climbs out of the car, glancing at the scoring pylon with a shrug. There was nothing to complain about being fifth quickest. It was better than they had practiced, gave them somewhere solid to start off tomorrow night, and the car was driving decent.

Of course, though, it wasn’t the pole that he would’ve preferred but you cannot always have that as warranted.

“It was okay, it was fine,” he tells the media following the session. “I thought everything was smooth and our car drove okay, which was fine. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

“Do you have confidence form last fall for tomorrow night?” One of the media members ask, referencing his win at Kansas Speedway last October. It was the common question that they seemed to develop when you had previously won somewhere.

“It’s so different. It’s hard to really carry that. And, that was a long time ago too. You’d like to think so, yeah, it doesn’t hurt for sure.”

He then goes through answering a couple more questions, before meeting up with Alan. With a strong qualifying effort, the debrief session was quick as there wasn’t much to discuss and go over for tomorrow – having done so already.

With everything done for the day, he made his way to the motorcoach lot, knocking on a familiar door that he had seen many times. A smile immediately formed on his face as the door opened to a young face.

“Hi Chase,” Lydia says with a smile to match his as she never hated seeing her buddy.

“Hey Lydia,” he replies, easily accepting the hug that she was offering. “Was Abigail a good girl?” Lydia nods her head right away. “That’s good.”

“Sarina is here, too.” Chase’s response turns to shock in the comment as he hadn’t expected her to be back from Arizona yet. He also thought she would’ve come out to pit road.

“Oh really?” Lydia nods her head, before leading Chase inside by the hand. “Sarina, he here.” Sarina looks over with a smile to match Chase’s.

“Hey babes,” she replies, before standing up off of the couch and walking over. She quickly gives Chase a kiss, followed by a little hug. “Nice job in qualifying.”

“How long have you been here?” Chase asks, still caught off-guard by her appearance.

“I got here as you finished qualifying. I figured that you’d be busy with media and Alan, so I came to see our princess.” Chase smile as he looks over at Abigail in her arms, earning a chuckle back in response. “Chandra told me that she was an angel.”

“Lydia told me that, too. I’m just glad that you’re here.” Sarina could easily see where Chase was going with the comment, but wanting to hold back with others around.

“It wasn’t easy, but I got through it. There were tears, and I felt like jumping up and running, but I saw through it all. Damien did us good.” Chase nods his head, having read her text message from earlier. “Alycia feels that the rest of the testimony is just going to solidify everything – but it’s not necessary as everything spells out nicely.”

“I want to be confident in what she’s saying, but I’m not going to say anything until I have the verdict in hand.” Sarina easily understood where he was coming from, as they’d been down this road plenty of times before.

Saturday, May 11 – Kansas Speedway

Although the day started off with smiles, that did not last long as Chase would fail pre-race technical inspection, resulting in having to start at the tail of the field.

“Again?” That’s all Sarina could say when Chase passed along the message to her from Alan.

“You know we’re pushing the envelopes and how close things are,” Chase replies, trying to reason what had happened. “Trust me, it doesn’t make me happy either – but there’s nothing we can do. We can handle it. We have a good car.”

His prediction was right on the money, as he was able to make his way to the front of the field quickly, showing speed through the first half of the event en route to winning the second stage.

The speed carried over into the final stage of the event, as he’d lead laps, trading the lead back and forth with Alex Bowman.

“As much as I want Chase to win tonight, I’d really feel bad for Alex if he finished second again,” Sarina comments, referencing the back-to-back runner-ups for Alex entering the night. “He honestly deserves to break through for his first win. That said, go Chase go!”

“Don’t worry – we all agree with you,” Josh Kirk offers in response with a chuckle.

Unfortunately, as the race got into the later stages, the handling would begin to go away as Chase developed a loose condition. He would slip dead sideways, barely hanging onto the car, which caused him to lose a couple spots. He’d fight back with a couple late race passes, crossing the finish line with a fourth-place finish.

“How do you feel about today’s run?” The reporter asks Chase following the event. Sarina had to smile herself, as it was certainly much nicer to running consistently in the top-five on the intermediate tracks after struggling through the first couple.

“It was okay,” Chase replied which didn’t surprise Sarina. “It was nice running top-five. I hate to have been leading the laps that we did and not finish it off, but what do you do? It’s unfortunate.” Sarina lets out a sigh, hearing that regret that she was used to with Chase in situations like this. It was all about the end result – not the performance through the night. She knew as a racer herself it really stung to give up the track position late in the event. However, that didn’t mean that she felt bad right now.

“What are your thoughts on the package with the conclusion of the race?” Sarina admittedly was a fan as she had been intrigued by the racing throughout the night, especially during the late stages with the three-wide battles for positions. It was an edge of your seat event, and one you didn’t want to take your eyes off of in fear of missing something.

“I think this track suited with what they were after, as far as being able to draft and be close to each other.” Sarina had to agree, knowing the fresh pavement certainly made that easier to do than other places. “This is kind of the perfect storm for it. I don’t really think it’s realistic everywhere. It was exciting tonight, so that was a win for them.”

Sarina stands back, letting Chase finish up with a couple more interviews before heading over to where she was standing. She immediately wraps her arms around him, as he takes Abigail from her arms.

“You did a good tonight,” she replies. “These are the types of runs that give me confidence for the summer stretch.” Chase nods his head in agreement. “I know you hate giving it away at the end, but don’t lose sight of the speed that you had – and how far you’ve come since the beginning of this season.”

“When you put it that way, I guess I’m bitching over small things right now.” She chuckles nodding her head.

“It’s okay, though, because I understand the frustration….”

Wednesday, May 15 – Philadelphia

Chase stands back, watching as Sarina interacts with the couple of media members, answering their questions.

“I’m surprised to see you here,” Chase hears, catching his attention as he glances over his shoulder. He smiles, not surprised by the direction of the comment from Justin Allgaier.

“And how come?” He wonders, out of pure curiosity. It did seem odd a bit as the other drivers hadn’t brought their wives and girlfriends with them.

“I thought you would’ve been enjoying your day off, or spending quality time with your daughter. Instead, you’re in the middle of Philadelphia taking photos of Sarina, whom you always get to see anyway.” Chase chuckles as it did sound ridiculous when Justin put it so simply.

“With everything that’s happened recently, she wanted some extra support with her.” Justin nods his head, understanding as he had heard some brief details about what happened. “I also don’t mind staring at her, either, and it gives me some practice to make my photos that much better. She also wants to make sure that she’s not late for the Catwalk for a Cause tonight so I’m her ride.”

“So you’re all about pleasing the beauty….” Chase smiles, as he couldn’t hide that fact at all. “I can’t blame you as she’s certainly a special one. Can you somehow talk her into laying off on the jokes on me, though?”

“I’ll think about it, but someone needs to keep you in line…” Justin just rolls his eyes in response.

The group continues to tour around the city, with the drivers partaking in the scheduled fan autograph session, followed by a tour of the city atop a double decker bus. Their trip finished off with them reaching the mountain that Rocky famously climbed in his movie.

“Can we expect to see you go running up that?” Chase questions, as they watch Tyler, Justin and John Hunter Nemechek go running up the steps.

“Are you serious?” She asks, glancing over at him in shock. “Oh hell no.”

“Come on, it’d be a fun entertaining photo…” She shakes her head no. “I thought you’d be all for proving the boys wrong.” She then chuckles as she looks back towards the steps, seeing them halfway up.

“I don’t need to prove anything. Do you see how they took off already? That’s because they knew they needed a head start to beat me.” Chase looks over surprised, but had to laugh as he watched the group go running up the hill.

“Would you race me up the stairs?” She was actually surprised by the comment.

“Is that a challenge, Mr. Elliott? Are you prepared to lose?” He then sets aside his camera and stuff with her PR rep, before looking back towards her. “Oh now we’re getting serious.”

“You know that I don’t come to play games, right?” She nods her head, having been down this road before. “Winner gets to choose dinner tonight.”

“You’re on.”

Wednesday, May 15 – Catwalk for a Cause

“So even though I lost, I have to admit that dinner wasn’t too bad,” Chase comments, before pulling her close. “Although that’s easy when I have such a beauty to look at while I’m eating.”

“I’m glad that you like the outfit,” she replies, leaning in for a kiss. “I’m just glad that we could be here tonight for the kids.” Chase nods his head as he looks around, seeing the smiles on all of the faces.

“Sherry and Martin certainly have created something special here…” She then leans back against him in his arms, as he wraps them around her.

“It really puts things in perspective. We have a lot going on and we’ve been through so much. I mean, I don’t even  need to say anything as we both know that. However, no matter what we’ve been through, it doesn’t compare to what these kids are going through. Imagine having your whole life ahead of you, and you find out that you’re dying of cancer. Imagine sitting through those treatments. It really makes me thankful, that even with everything we’ve been through, that we’re able to do what we can. I love you, Chase.” Chase holds her a little tighter, as he kisses the top of her head.

“I love you, too, forever and always. Now, let’s go make those kids happy….”

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 247: Damien’s Plea

Friday, May 10 – Arizona Court Room

Sarina stands by the door, taking a deep breath as she leans back against the wall.

“You should’ve gone to Kansas with Chase,” Christopher comments and she shakes her head no immediately.

“One of us needed to be here to take a stand,” she offers as he reaches out, rubbing her shoulders.

“I appreciate your strength, and I applaud you for everything that you continue to do, but you also need to realize your limits. You don’t always have to be the picture of strength. You can let those walls fall, and admit that you cannot do something.” She had been told that several times by more people than Christopher, but it just never seemed to stuck.

“That’s not who I am, though. I was always the fighter, the one doing whatever it took, standing up to someone. I can’t just snap my fingers and do that, Christopher. I can’t let myself become the weak pers-”

“You wouldn’t be, though, because everybody knows you as a pillar of strength for what you’ve done so far. Everybody knows how tough everything that you’re battling through is, and understands. Everybody would realize why you can’t just walk in that court room and be there alongside Carter. I was there in the bedsroom that day. I know what you went through. I saw the emotions on your face. It’s okay…” She slowly looks up off of the floor, letting each word carefully soak in. She almost made the choice to leave as suggested, reflecting on what he was telling her and what happened the other week. However, she couldn’t bring herself to follow through with that.

“I appreciate your advice, but I am going to do what I want to do here.” She then takes a deep breath, fixing her shirt once more, before turning to face the doors. She then takes another careful deep breath, entering the court room.

Knowing that Carter was on the right side sitting in the defendant’s chair, she kept her eyes focused forward as she took her seat on the left side of the room behind Kyle and Alycia. It was refreshing knowing that Alycia was on that side now, with nothing facing them head on.

“You have our support,” Christopher says quietly as he sits down alongside her with Morgan. Sarina simply nodded her head back in response, eyes still focused solely forward. “By the way, Chase was 16th in first practice.”

“Seriously?” Christopher shows her the screen with the live timing from the first Cup practice. “Ugh, that’s just the icing on the cake for today.”

“All rise!” The baliff announces as he had done previous weeks. Everybody stands up accordingly. “Now presenting the honorable Judge Jackson Pruitt.” Sarina’s eyes remain focused on the judge’s seat, watching Jackson take his seat as he had done the previous weeks. It felt nice to not be on the side of the criticism.

“You may be seated,” the judge announces, as everybody takes their seats accordingly in the room. “The court has received a motion as submitted by district attorney Kyle Gates. It appears as though one of the defendants will be changing their plea in trade for a lightened sentence. Am I reading the document correctly, Kyle Gates?”

“Yes sir,” Kyle replies as he gives Alycia a quick glance afterwards. It was nice to see them working together than against each other, as it probably should’ve been from the beginning.

“Damien Crane, may you please stand?” Damien follows the request, catching the aura of not only his lawyer by Carter and Alison. “According to this document before me, you are prepared to plead guilty to the charges of conspiracy of rape, conspiracy of attempted rape, conspiracy of drugging, robbery, impersonation of a law official. Is that correct, sir?”

“Yes sir,” Damien replies as Sarina glances down, taking a couple deep breathes. It never got easy hearing the word ‘rape’ mentioned, causing her stomach to flip each time. The gentle hand squeeze from Christopher at the same time was comforting.

“You also have pled guilty to two counts of harassment previously,” Judge Jackson Pruitt continues reading the document before him. “In exchange for your testimony in the court today, you will be serving a total of seven years along with being placed on the sexual offenders list. Are you aware of the sentence and accepting of the consequences?”

“Yes sir.” Judge Jackson Pruitt initials the piece of paper before setting it aside.

“You may come up to the stand to state your case.” Damien follows the request, taking a seat in the witness box. Sarina had been focusing her eyes forward, and that didn’t change as she let herself stare right at him. Considering he had a good hand in screwing with Chase’s life for a series of months, she wanted to hear what happened.

“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?” The baliff asks, and Damien Crane nods his head in return.

“I do,” he states as he holds his hand on the bible, before taking his seat accordingly.

“Mr. Crane, please take us back to the beginning of your association with Mr. Elliott,” Kyle Gates requests as he stands up to begin the questioning. Alycia had thought about handling it herself, but Kyle assured her that he’d do a good job while covering everything she had listed to be mentioned.

“I was approached by Mr. Carter Williams in February. I was running my own security detail company and he was aware of that via previous dealings. He mentioned that he knew of someone looking for personal security, which was Mr. Chase Elliott. He wanted me to take on the job, accepting the payment that would be offered – with a twist. He wanted me to create ways that he could gain access unaware to Mr. Elliott and his fellow parties. In exchange, he’d be paying me double my normal rate – on top of what Mr. Elliott was going to pay me.”  Sarina shakes her head as she listens, as it appeared money was the root of all evil once again. Why were these people easily bribed?

“Following the meeting with Mr. Williams, you got in touch with Mr. Elliott to discuss the services he was requiring, correct?” Damien nods his head, remembering the meeting in the hauler. He had to chuckle as he looked back at how things went down.

“Once I inquired about being willing to fulfill the request, Mr. Elliott arranged a meeting for myself and a fellow team member at the race track in his team’s hauler. Although Mr. Alan Gustafson was originally scheduled to attend, there was another member who was there instead – Mr. Ron Malec, I believe. I simply stated my company’s background and what we were prepared to do. I then stated that I was aware of Mr. Williams and his actions, and could easily prevent him from previous dealings. At that point, Mr. Malec became quite questionable about my intentions spilling into a debate, which Mr. Elliott did not take too kindly to and quickly shut off our meeting. Ultimately, I was not allowed the position.” Sarina smiles as she knew Ron deserved yet another hug for catching that so quickly in the discussion. She couldn’t even imagine how worse things could’ve gotten if Damien would’ve gotten the requested access.

“That, in return, resulted in you stalking both Mr. Elliott and Mrs. Laiken Baumgartner about the business opportunity – which you previously discussed with the courts. However, you had a more recent encounter with Mr. Elliott. How did that come together?”  Damien looks over at Carter, smiling as he couldn’t wait to finally spill everything out. No amount of money was worth what ended up transpiring.

“Carter came to me and stated that he was certain that his fate was going to be guilty as a result of the testimony in the court. He wanted to make sure that Mr. Elliott and Mrs. Elliott got a final going away present in style, the big one, before everything went down. He detailed to me how he had gotten his lawyer Ms. Nellie Martin to set up a psychological council for Mr. Elliott at the Delaware facility where Ms. Alison Reynolds was staying. He wanted me to use my security experience to make sure Ms. Reynolds got the access she required.” Sarina couldn’t help but smile in hearing everything come to light, as that perfectly matched up with the conspiracy theory and spelled it out for the jury. It’d be a miracle if they didn’t convict Carter, Alison, and Nellie now.

“Please detail how you accomplished the plan…” Damien still couldn’t believe how easy it was to make everything happen.

“I inquired with a friend that I knew was working at the Delaware facility about whether I could be hired for a job there. He told me that they were working, and he’d help me get in there so I could get some extra money even with the conviction over my head. He was successful, and I was hired as part of the psychological criminal ward security.” Sarina shakes her head in disgust, as she watches Alycia make a couple notes in the process. She already knew their next process would be taking down the facility.

“Being part of that wing gave you access to Mr. Elliott when he came in for his psychological evaluation…” Damien nods his head, remembering the discussion they had together. He still applauded Chase for how easily he co-operated, and was able to put together enough of a performance for everything to fall together.

“Once I saw the room that Mr. Elliott was placed in for waiting, I entered. I then explained to him that Carter was at his house and would go after Sarina and his daughter if he didn’t co-operate as planned. Of course, he listened to protect his family.” Sarina looks down, feeling a couple tears trickle down her face. He had gone through everything he did with Alison thinking that it was protecting her and Abigial. However, it seemed that Carter did not follow through as he was supposed to. “I instructed him to put on a show, find a way to get taken down to the maximum security department so that way I could arrange a surprise for him. He did as requested, shoving me, freaking out that I was not who I claimed to be and should be there. It caught the attention of staff, who cuffed him and took him down to a room.”

“Evidence 1A – a copy of the incident report as written up by the officer who escorted Mr. Chase Elliott to the room that day. Evidence 1B – a video of the incident as described by Mr. Damien Crane in the hallway.” The jury looks over the evidence in question as Kyle keeps his eyes focused on Damien. He almost wanted to look over at Nellie to see if she was squirming in her seat yet. “What did you do once Mr. Elliott was in the room?”

“I snuck into the medicine room via my staff card. I stole a vile of propofol and a vile of ketamine. Both of those drugs were handed over to Ms. Alison Reynolds for her using.” Sarina shakes her head as she couldn’t believe it had been so easy for everything to come together for them.

“Why did you hand those drugs over to Ms. Alison Reynolds?” Damien smiles as he takes a glance over at Alison, before focusing back on Kyle.

“Propofol is an anesthetic that Ms. Alison Reynolds was supposed to use to knock out the doctor when he came to check on her. Ketamine is a date-rape drug that Mr. Carter Williams requested I give her for what she wanted to do to Mr. Chase Elliott. She was supposed to knock out the doctor, steal his key card, and sneak into Chase’s room.”

“Evidence 1C – the drug report from Delaware State Hospital that shows ketamine was in Mr. Chase Elliott’s system. Evidence 1D – the drug report from the Delaware State Hospital that shows propofol was in Dr. Rick Spawn’s system. Evidence 1E – a video of the encounter in the hallway to where you see Ms. Alison Reynolds escape her room and enter the room Mr. Chase Elliott was placed in. Mr. Damien Crane, thank you for your time.”

“Any questions?” Judge Jackson Pruitt asks Nellie Martin once Kyle has taken his seat.

“What else can I say?” Nellie Martin questions in response. “He is obviously fabricating this story to get himself a lesser sentence.” Alycia smiled as she knew that wasn’t going to work, given that the video and physical evidence backed up all the claims being made. However, she had a point.

“Judge Jackson Pruitt, may I ask the witness a question?” Alycia Burrows requests, catching everyone’s attention. The judge had thought he was done with her actions once she cleared Chase of all charges.

“You may go ahead,” Judge Jackson Pruitt allowed, despite his own questions about her motive.

“Mr. Damien Crane, you wanted to enter this plea bargain as early as last Friday. Can you state why that did not happen?” Nellie Martin immediately glanced over with eye slits, as she knew the direction that Alycia was going with this questioning.

“Ms. Nellie Martin advised against me doing that whole trying to assure me that I had nothing to worry about,” Damien Crane explains. “That was when I asked the guard to contact Mr. Kyle Gates on my behalf.”

“Thank you,” Alycia replies, before sitting down with her own smile. That was the last piece of the puzzle to connect the conspiracy together.

“You may go back to your seat,” Judge Jackson Pruitt allows, releasing Damien Crane from the witness box. “Court will convene at a later date with more testimony. Court adjourned!”

Everybody quickly files out, with Alycia sharing a quick hug of assurance with Sarina, before leaving.

“Are you okay?” Christopher asks as he walks with her out of the court room.

“I will be okay,” Sarina answers as she wipes the stray tears off of her face.

“I’m proud of you for sitting through that without freaking out. that shows a lot of strength.” She smiles a little as she glances over, still wiping tears off of her face.

She just hoped that everything would pan out with all loose ends actually tied up this time.

Friday, May 10 – Kansas Speedway

With the final practice in the books, Chase had to admit that he was happier than he was earlier in the day. He had managed to post the sixth quickest lap in the session, giving him confidence that they had something for qualifying later that afternoon. More importantly, he felt they had the adjustability built in the car for tomorrow night.

“Hey, is Abigail okay?” Chase questions once he and Jimmie got done debriefing with their crew chiefs following the practice session.

“Chandra says that she’s been a perfect angel,” Jimmie assures him. “She ate without any issues, had a little stinky but that was cleaned without issues, and been giggling with the girls. By the way, my daughters absolutely adore her already so you have some helpers if ever necessary.” Chase smiles, as he was glad to hear that things were going well with Abigail. It certainly helped with the range of nerves that he was experiencing.

“You already know how much Livie and I love each other so she is always welcome to come over to help.” Jimmie actually had to appreciate the bond that they formed together last year, knowing how much that had helped Chase.

“Well if you ever need a pick me up during the summer when you’re running the split schedule with Sarina, don’t hesitate to send me a text as I’ll send her over.” Chase nods his head, accepting. He was hoping this year went smoother than last year’s nerves and worries, though. “Did Sarina text you at all?”

“She said that everything went according to plan. Damien told the story perfectly, and connected all the dots in relation to Carter, Alison, and Nellie. She feels that the jury should already have everything put together in their minds – with the testimony to follow just being par for the course and sealing the deal.” Jimmie was glad to hear that as he didn’t want to see them go through this any longer.

“That’s perfect. Now, are you ready to testify, again?” Chase takes a deep breath, as it was never easy going back down the path of Alison’s actions against him. However, he was going to do whatever necessary to make sure his girls were protected.

“I just have to get up there and say what happened. I’ve done it before, I can do it again.” Jimmie knew he had done it before, but that didn’t give him assurance about a third round of testimony.

“But are you sure that you can handle that, and you’re okay?” Chase glances away, before looking back towards Jimmie. There was a simple answer to offer.

“I’m not the one who is dealing with flashbacks of being raped in my own bedsroom. My dad got there before Alison was able to take it that far. I could only wish that was the case for Sarina. Heck, Carter wasn’t even supposed to be in the room.” Jimmie hadn’t heard the details, but could tell by those simple words that there was regret and pain to be heard.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Chase shakes his head no, knowing that he couldn’t bother to fully detail everything from the beginning for Jimmie. “Okay, that’s fine. But I want you to know that I’m here if you ever do you want to talk about it, and my daughter is always available for comfort.”

“I appreciate that, Jimmie. Thank you.”

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.”

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.