Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 103: “Issues in Paradise?”

Saturday, July 1

Chase glances at the ground, twirling his fingers together, before glancing up as he looks around the small waiting room.

After reading the text message, he had rushed over to the hospital to check on his friend. Thankfully, the poison had been caught early enough so it hadn’t gotten Ryan badly. Erin told him that the doctors assured them that they would be able to catch it all before it got worse, despite Ryan probably feeling pretty sick for the next couple of days.

He had been in to see him briefly, letting him know he was there if need be, though took residence in the waiting room to allow his parents and sisters to be with him instead. He debated going back to the track, but knew he wouldn’t sleep with his mind worried about his friend. So instead, he had curled up in the chair and caught a couple hours of rest through the night.

“Do you want anything?” Sarina asks quietly and Chase shakes his head no. “You need to eat or drink something, breakfast wise. You need to take care of yourself.” She then rubs his back, knowing how worried he was despite assurance that everything would be fine. “Especially if you’re racing tonight on top of this.”

“I’m fine,” he answers as he feels his stomach flip flop once again, letting out a sigh. He knew that she was probably right with her concerns, but how could he stomach something with his worry on edge?

“Did they figure anything out from the previous incidents?” Brad Keselowski comments from his spot in the room. He and Joey had shown up that morning concerned about their teammate, along with a couple members from the Wood Brothers. Chase had given them the same spell that he heard from Erin, with the pair spending a bit of time in the room, before retreating to same spot as Chase.

“They couldn’t pick up any finger prints or anything on what they found. They had some suspect ideas, but never really got to narrowing them down based on evidence.” Chase knew one of those suspects was pretty close to the person sitting beside him, and almost felt like revisiting that topic as thoughts ramped through his mind. He could only wonder where Chris was right now.

“Do you have any idea who is on their short list?” Chase shakes his head no. “Well, I guess that’s for good reason as don’t need people walking around getting falsely accused over random suspicions.”

“There’s already enough of that happening without a true list being released,” Sarina comments as Chase shoots her a look as Brad just looks on curiously.

“Oh really?” Brad questions and Sarina shakes her head yes. Chase could only roll his eyes, knowing this wouldn’t be a good discussion to get into.

“Well, just because someone has a past doesn’t mean that they should be countered by people unfairly.” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances away, only wondering what possible response Brad could have to the comment. Although, admittedly, he was curious as to where this would go based his own perspective.

“Something going on between you two that we missed?” Darrell questions, causing Chase to look over immediately. “I saw the look on your face…”

“There’s nothing going on,” Chase comments as he stands up and heads to the vending machine. Perhaps a snack would be a good idea right now.

“I can go get you something…” Sarina says and Chase just shakes his head no as he inserts a bit of change, letting it disperse a hot chocolate before turning around to face the group. Sipping on the liquid could serve as a good distraction.

“So who was the person wrongfully accused, Sarina?” Brad questions as Chase focuses on the marshmallows in his cup. Darrell hadn’t taken his eyes off Chase the whole time, seeing the quietness forming.

“Your brother, right?” Darrell asks, having picked up on the unease from Chase and Sarina’s definite perspective. He knew how things went the last time these two but heads on the topic of Chris, and could only imagine if it happened again.

“Got your own thoughts to share, Darrell?” She questions, causing Darrell to look on surprised.

“You don’t need to get defensive,” Joey comments quietly from his spot in the room.

“I’m sorry but I don’t appreciate my brother being pinned for something that he didn’t do by people who don’t know anything.” Chase rolls his eyes, knowing that wasn’t fully true, having heard from the comment that Jared made about her brother being around.

“We were just asking based on your comment – that’s all,” Brad states. “Now, let’s just forget the topic came up if it is so touchy for you. Besides, we should be focused on Ryan…” Brad then glances down the hall towards the room that Ryan was in, as Chase glances up from his cup at Sarina.

“Do you want to talk?” Darrell whispers as he walks over, grabbing his own drink from the vending machine. He didn’t want a drink, but figured it was good cover for the offer.

“Nah, I’m good,” Chase replies as he takes another sip of his drink, eyes locked on Sarina.

“Issues in paradise?” Chase shakes his head no. “You’re a liar.” Chase then takes his eyes off Sarina and looks over at Darrell.

“Things are fine between Sarina and I. When it comes to her brother, that’s a different story that I’d rather not talk about right now.” Darrell watches his drink disperse, before grabbing the cup and looking back at Chase.

“Is he behind what happened to Ryan, though?” Chase shrugs his shoulders as he wasn’t sure, quite yet. He hadn’t found the knick of evidence that he knew was needed first.

“If he is, you’ll be one of the first to know about it.” Darrell shakes his head, accepting, before returning to his seat. Chase then drinks the last mouthful before making his way to where Sarina was sitting, returning back to his previous seat.

“We okay?” She questions and Chase shakes his head yes. “I know you’re worried about Ryan, but remember what Erin said. He’s going to be okay….” Chase knew to believe in those words, but it still wasn’t easy seeing one of his close friends in this position. “Now, do you want me to go grab you a bagel or something from the cafeteria?” Chase shakes his head no.

“I told you – I’m fine,” he replies quietly as he takes his phone out of his pocket.

“Well I’m going to grab myself something so text me if you change your mind.” She then gives him a quick kiss before heading out of the room. Considering the curious glances from Darrell and stare from Brad, she didn’t want to stick around in the room any longer.

“Anything to say now that she’s gone?” Brad wonders and Chase looks up, shaking his head no.

“I sympathize with her position as I get how it can be tough to hear people accuse Chris,” Chase starts. “But, I get the reason why after what happened. She’ll be fine…” He then returns his eyes back to his phone, hoping a quick game of something would distract his thoughts.

“Will you be fine?” Chase looks up, caught off-guard by Brad’s concern, though simply shakes his head yes.

“How are we supposed to race tonight as if nothing happened?” Darrell wonders from his corner.

“We just believe that he’ll be alright as Erin assured us, and try to win it for him,” Brad comments. “Have you heard anything about who is driving the car, Joey?”

“You’re really worried about that right now?” Brad shrugs his shoulders.

“Just trying to make light conversation, honestly. The silence was driving me crazy.” Chase actually wished they’d return to that, considering how many emotions the conversation had stirred already.

“I think I heard Ryan Reed is driving the car tonight,” Joey comments as Darrell just rolls his eyes. “Sore subject?”

“Because a guy has a sponsor that’ll kiss his ass and he figured out how to win at Daytona twice means that I’m out of a ride when I’ve beat him everywhere else,” Darrell comments. “But no, I’m fine.”

“It is a little unfair….”

“I still can’t believe you couldn’t find a sponsor,” Brad says as Darrell could only shrug his shoulders.

“It’ll work out bud; don’t worry,” Chase assures him as he gives him a pat on the shoulder.

“I hope you’re right,” Darrell says. “I mean, I’m trying to do what I can in the opportunity that I have till Aric comes back, but I can only do so much.”

“You’re not doing too bad so far,” Brad offers. “Just don’t get caught up in the fact that you’re trying to prove yourself, and overdrive the equipment. It’s better to take that so-so finish rather than a wrecked car.” Darrell shakes his head, knowing that fact already. It was why he was so pissed a couple weeks ago.

“Appreciate the advice.”

“And if all else fails, you could always become a rockstar,” Chase jokes, based on the videos that Ryan and Darrell constantly were sharing of them singing and playing instruments. Darrell could only roll his eyes at the comment, but chuckled.

“Would you attend the concert?” Darrell asks and Chase shrugs his shoulders. “Really?”

“I don’t want a headache….” Darrell rolls his eyes, knowing how Chase wasn’t the biggest fan of scream-o music, but rather a country fan himself.

“I will say that I listened to the Chris Rice CD that you left at the house, and it’s actually pretty good.” Chase smiles as it was certainly some progress.

“Chase?” Erin asks, causing Chase to look up from his seat. “We told Ryan that we were going to grab a quick bite to eat – had to pull dad and mom away but they finally agreed. Anyways, he said he wanted to talk to you alone first before the rest of the group came in.” Chase could only look on confused as he wondered what the topic would be. However, standing up and beginning the walk, he couldn’t deny his best friend a visit.

“I’ll let ya know when we’re done,” he tells the others as he heads down the hall. He crosses paths with Sarina, who stops to face him.

“I’ll com-” She starts and Chase shakes his head no.

“Ryan wants to see me alone before we call everyone else in.” She then looks on confused.

“Why?” Chase couldn’t place the reason no matter what he thought of.

“I don’t know, but I’m listening. I’ll come see you when I’m done.” He gives her a quick kiss before continuing the walk down the hall, giving a hug to both Erin and Emma, before taking a deep breath and heading into the room.

A VampWolf Wedding – Chapter 14: GoBowling.com 400

Brad gets done his media interviews, before making his way through the garage area.

It felt weird without Juliette being there that weekend as normally they’d talk about the night, get ready to head home together, before leaving the track. Though with her being home with Melody, it left him to his own devices.

He was all prepared to get ready to leave, excited to see both his girls once again, though knew he had to make a stop somewhere else first. He makes his way into the motorcoach lot, past his own motorcoach before stopping at his teammates.

He takes a deep breath, knocking, knowing he couldn’t leave without stopping by first. He watches the door open before him, focusing on the eyes before him.

“Hey,” Joey says as he moves back, allowing Brad to enter with ease.

“Hey,” Brad simply replies, knowing nothing else would fit with the somber mood in the room. “I just wanted to stop by and see how you are. That was a wicked crash….” Brad hadn’t seen what happened exactly, but he heard from his team that Joey had something break, causing him to turn into Danica and crash both into the wall. Aric then had nowhere to go, joining the party. He saw the cars as they drove back through the turn during clean-up, shaking his head immediately.

“I’m fine, physically.” Brad shakes his head, easily accepting, as he gives his teammate the once over. He couldn’t help but pick-up on the tone of Joey’s voice, though.

“Beyond that, though?” Joey sits down on the couch, having not talked about it much except to Brittney.

“That shook me up, Brad. I was scared as ever for Danica. I was scared as ever for Aric. It’s great to see her walk away, and Todd said that Aric was talking on his radio. But that scared me probably more than any other wreck has ever, and I was really worried there.” Brad shakes his head, understanding once again. He could see that easily on Joey’s face.

“It’s understandable with how hard each of you hit. We know the risk and danger, but everybody hates to see that happen. Those wrecks are reminders of the danger, and even if we want to kill each other at times, we do care. I would’ve acted the same way, Joey.” Joey then looks up at Brad.

“So why is it that I will be like this now for the next 24 hours, and then put it behind me like nothing happened? It doesn’t seem right…” Brad sits down beside Joey, trying to think back to moments in his career in the same shoes.

“Because that’s what we do. The drive for success, the desire for speed forces us to put everything else out of the rearview. We remind ourselves that everything is as safe as it’s ever been, and the risk is worth it for what we want. That’s how it’s always been. The day a driver can’t do that…..well, we know the result.” Brad then puts a hand on Joey’s leg. “Look, don’t kick yourself in the butt over the change in heart when it happens. It’s the make-up of racer. It doesn’t make you less human or an asshole. It’s just who we are.”

“Yeah, I guess…” Brad then looks up as he watches Brittany walk out of the back, all set to leave, as he stands up himself.

“It’ll make sense. Give it time. You’re still dealing with the initial shock…” Joey shakes his head, knowing that Brad was right.

*****************************

Brad looks in the mirror, adjusting his jacket and tie, before walking through the house.

While Danny stopped by to babysit, the couple was getting to go out for a date night. For both, it was a special night being Sherry’s Catwalk for a Cause. Juliette could recall the days she helped Sherry with the first couple, while Brad always enjoyed seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces.

“Juliette, are you ready?” He questions out loud, knowing that she was in the bathroom, finishing up her make-up.

“Yep!” She replies, coming out of the bathroom. She slips her heels on, before making her way into the front foyer where Brad was waiting for her. As she came around the corner, his jaw dropped immediately as he took in her appearance. “Oh no…” She then glanced down at her dress, wondering if she should’ve chose something different. “It’s the dress, isn’t it?”

“The dress, you – everything together…” Brad was having trouble finding words to say, which was odd for him.

“Is it that ba-”

“Bad? Oh hell no! Let me just tell you that you look absolutely stunning!” A smile immediately forms on her face, as she spins around in a circle. She had chosen to go with a mid-tone red dress that went down to just above the knees. Tank-top style at the top, it tucked in at the waist virtue of a band that blended into the dress being the same color, followed by flaring out a touch in the bottom. She then chosen to go with three simple gold bracelets, along with her gold necklace from her childhood to top it off.

“Why, thank you…” She then walks up to him. “You don’t look so bad yourself, Mr. Keselowski.” She then leans in and kisses his lips as he wraps his arms around her. The pair remain lip-locked as she pushes him back against the wall, hands working their way underneath the edge of his shirt. “You actually take my breath awa-”

“You both realize you’re not alone right?” A voice reigns from the living room. They both immediately separate, trading smiles as they fix their outfits back to perfection.

“Sorry,” Brad apologizes as he glances into the room. “She just looked so stunning…” Danny smiles as he looks over at his sister.

“That dress does look good on her,” he compliments his sister as she gives him a quick nod.

“We’ll be back around 11. If you have any proble-”

“Just go. I’ll be fine.” Brad then takes Juliette’s hand with his, and the pair head out ready for a fun night.

A VampWolf Wedding – Chapter 13: “You look like you seen a ghost…”

Joey walks out of Brad’s office, feeling more stunned than ever by the conversation. He heads down the hallway, in a daze, trying to erase the image that formed in his mind.

“You look like you seen a ghost…” Brittany comments as Joey enters his own office.

“You could say that,” Joey replies as he sits in his chair, still caught off-guard. Brittany keeps her eyes focused on her husband, feeling puzzled herself. It wasn’t like Joey to be stunned.

“Well, what’d you see?” Joey didn’t know whether he wanted to repeat the details or not. He was worried that Brad would be upset if repeated – unsure whether it should be spread, and worried as to Brittany’s reaction. What if that ended the hang-out time they all had together?

“I’d rather not say…” Brittany lets out a sigh as she sits in the chair in front of Joey’s desk. She was becoming a little annoyed over the past couple of days.

“On Sunday, you return to the motorcoach after going to get a band-aid a little awkward and say it was just something strange that you saw, nothing new for Talladega. Then you come to your office and look completely stunned. Something is going on, Joey…” There was no lying that she was right in her comments as a lot was happening around them.

“Well, I can’t tell you, okay?” She glanced away, almost feeling as though her heart had been pulled apart by those words. What happened to total honesty when they got married?

“It’s about Brad and Juliette, isn’t it?” Joey glances up and shakes his head yes. He knew if he continued to give no details that she may freak out on him. “Well, strange and shocking is no surprise with them from what I’ve heard. I mean, what else do you expect when you’ve got a werewolf and a vampire?”

“What is your take on that, by the way?” Brittany shrugged her shoulders, though had to admit she found herself on pins and needles when she was around them at times.

“They’re both great people. I have a nice friendship with Juliette.” Joey knew by her tone that she was avoiding the topic, which made it even more important to keep quiet.

“Brittany, you know what I’m talking about….” She glances away and he knew there was no way that he could pursue the topic further. “With that reaction, I’ll just keep this quiet then.”

“Why?” He knew he was testing waters with big certainty in this discussion.

“Because you don’t need to know.” He then flipped through some of the papers on the desk, wishing they could discuss something else. “Did you hear that the appeal got deni-”

“You’re changing the topic, Logano.” He then froze at the mention of his last name. “Now, what the hell is going on?” He felt himself froze on the spot, debating whether to say something.

“Promise you’re not going to freak out?” She felt herself come over with unease, wondering if she should start running or checking for bite marks.

“I promise….I suppose….” Joey takes a deep breath as he thinks it over.

“Melody tried to bite me on Sunday. My finger was dripping, she tasted the blood and then went for the bite. Brad got me out of the way, while Juliette grabbed her.” Brittany froze at the mention of the words, feeling her own blood go cold and freeze at the thought. So much for game night.

“Do you realize what could’ve happened if she bit you?” Joey shakes his head yes, having been well aware of the fear. It was why he went to see Brad earlier. “I thought they both said there was nothing to fear with them and everything was fine, and no worries of human biting. That doesn’t look that one bit!”

“Brad said that Juliette is trained vampire who doesn’t go for human blood, but rather certain animals – that’s the same case for other vampires that you see, too. However, Melody hasn’t developed that yet. They can’t control her instincts for the first two years. She turns into werewolf when seeing a full man, goes for human blood once scented.  By year two, these go away. By year five and six, they’re taught everything. And you don’t have to worry about me on the weekend because she won’t go after me unless she sees my blood.” Brittany rolled her eyes, knowing that she was supposed to feel comforted by those words. However, she knew that wasn’t possible. While she wanted to lash out at Joey and demand they keep their distance, she knew that wasn’t possible. Joey and Brad worked well together and that was needed for success, and he probably wouldn’t take well to being told otherwise. However, that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to keep her guard up.

“Duty noted. What about today?” It was on the tip of Joey’s tongue, but he knew that he couldn’t say it.

“I was just caught off-guard with the discussion that Brad and I had about it, that’s it.” Brittany shakes her head, accepting, which causes Joey to immediately relax in response.

“Well I held my promise not to lash out and kill you all, so you better damn well promise me to be careful.” He shakes his head, accepting.

A VampWolf Wedding – Chapter 12: Post Bite Scare

Once everybody was done the post-race breakdown meeting, the drivers and crew members split up to their usual spots for a Monday afternoon. Joey was set to head back to his office, though instead made the short walk down to his teammate’s. He knocked on the door, causing Brad to glance up.

“You can always just let yourself in,” Brad says as he motions for Joey to walk in the room.

“I didn’t want to interrupt you if you were busy,” Joey replies as he enters, closing the door behind him. “Besides, I had to make sure Melody wasn’t here.”  Brad then glances back up from his desk, surprised by the comment.

“I thought we were cool about that…” Joey takes a deep breath as he nears closer to the desk.

“We are. I mean, I’m fine. It’s just….” Joey takes another deep breath, trying to find the right words. “It freaked me out a little, okay? I was caught off-guard by that.” Brad could only begin to understand as he knew it was always a surprise when people learned more details of their lives.

“I get that reaction from anybody who sees something a little strange it seems.” Joey had sat nervously, though perked up at the comment. He was worried he had offended his teammate. “Look, I get that it’s not what you’d call normal. It’s something you just see in horror movies, right? It’s a reasonable reaction. You don’t have to dart around the topic with me, Joey. Heck, Juliette expressed concerns about the next time you come over.” Joey felt his stomach flip at that comment.

“Concerns?” Brad shakes his head yes, keeping his eyes focused on his teammate. He wanted to try and make him as comfortable as he could.

“We’d understand if you were nervous around her, didn’t want to hold her, keep your distance. I wouldn’t blame you one bit.” Joey knew that wasn’t quite what he was thinking by concerns.

“What about her behavior? Will she do that again?” Brad couldn’t be 100% certain, but had a perspective gained after discussion with Edward about the meetings he went through with humans, and raising his daughter.

“As long as there’s no blood that she can see or taste, then you’re safe. That’s why she attacked you – she tasted your blood, liked the taste and was set for more. Look at it this way – you know that you have great blood.” Joey knew Brad was trying to be light-hearted, but it just didn’t feel right in this moment.

“Geez thanks Brad. Next time I’m not sure how I’m doing, I’ll just let your daughter check me out.” Brad took his turn with a slight chuckle.

“Hey, vampires only go after good, clean human blood. They won’t touch any with a trace of sickness.” Joey was surprised by the detail, but figured he couldn’t blame them as it was about protecting themselves. “Listen, if you go see her today or tomorrow or anyday, you’ll be fine. You can also hold her without a problem. Just know that if there’s any blood at all from yourself, make sure to keep your distance.” Joey then felt confused by those words, as he noticed Juliette’s reaction.

“Juliette didn’t do anything at the sight of my blood….” Brad sits back in his chair, having grown used to explaining things to people.

“Juliette is a very trained vampire. She doesn’t go for human blood at one bit – actually doesn’t like the taste, strangely. She is only able to enjoy certain animal bloods by what she tells me. But she’s also trained herself to not attach to human blood, stay far off it – same with Edward and the Cullens. With Melody, that’ll come with time as she gets older.” Joey felt his stomach twist and turn as he tried to make sense of everything.

“So she’ll be willing to attack me if she sees blood for a long time?” Brad shrugs his shoulders, having listened to Edward’s explanation.

“For the first two years of her life, we can’t control her instincts at all. She turns into werewolf and howls at the sight of the full moon and around those days, which is this week. She instinctly goes after human blood because that’s what vampires love. As she enters year three of her life, all those go away and disappear under the surface as she continues to grow.” Brad then takes a deep breath, remembering the details. “Our beings grow smarter quicker than a human so by year five and six, we can understand things like control and ability. At that point is when training begins to withstand full moons, how to change on instant like I can, and also how to deal with blood thirst.”

“So for the first two years of her life, you need to keep her guarded because of that?” Brad shakes his head yes.

“That’s why Juliette won’t be there this weekend as we have no babysitter and its full moon week.” Joey finally felt like he was getting an understanding for everything. “Any questions you ever have, don’t hesitate to ask me. I’ll give you the answers that I know.”

“What about your wedding? I heard you’re keeping the guest list real low. Do I want to know what’s up there?” Brad shakes his head no, as he wasn’t quite sure yet either. “That bad?”

“It’s going to have tradition from both sid-”

“You guys are anything but the traditional couple, though.” Brad chuckles, remembering that comment from his siblings and Yolanda.

“We want to honor tradition, though, because it’s who we are. We haven’t quite decided what to include and what to do yet – hence why I can’t say much yet. But, when I do know, I will let you know. Oh, and you’re invited along with Brittany, Paul, Dale and Amy since all of you know.” Joey was about to simply agree, thought felt puzzled.

“Did Juliette somehow tell Dale when she was working for him?” Brad shakes his head no. “Then how does he know?” Brad could only wonder about how to tell that story from Talladega last season. He had to laugh at the teasing jokes from Dale, too.

“Let’s just say that Jason used him as a pawn to get mine and Juliette’s attention.” Joey’s jaw then drops as he thinks back to a year ago.

“So you killed him?” Brad then looks away. “Holy shit…”

“I had no choice. He was either going to hurt Dale, hurt me and go after Juliette and probably kill her. I had to do what was necessary for survival based on what he was doing.” Joey felt himself in total disbelief now, worse than when he entered the office. “I hated every minute of it and wished that we could’ve handled things differently. But that night, it was either him or me or Dale.”

“I get that. I know that’s not you. I know that it’s strange. It’s just….I can’t picture that.” Brad then sits up in the chair.

“Then don’t and forget you ever asked. Besides, that past with Jason is in the rearview and forgot about. As Juliette said, we’re not mentioning that ever again.” Joey just quietly shakes his head yes, letting it continue to soak in.

A VampWolf Wedding – Chapter 11: Talladega Disaster

Juliette let out a sigh of relief.

She didn’t care where they had finished – she was just glad that everybody was okay after the crash down the backstretch. Though with a glance at the scoring monitor, there were no complaints about a top-10 after getting crash damage.

Standing up, she began the normal post-race behaviors in the motorcoach. As Brad handled post-race media and other responsibilities, she’d normally get everything ready to go so he could enter, change, and they could jet off home together. While keeping one eye on Melody, she began packing everything that needed to go in the travel bag.

Almost done with the bag, she hears the door click open and looks back with a smile.

“Well, no win this time around,” Brad comments as he closes the door behind him. He then picks up Melody in his arms, swinging her around which is met with giggles. “Least you’re happy.”

“I’m just glad that you and Joey are okay after that madness on the backstretch,” Juliette says, causing Brad to cast a glance her direction. “I mean, what the heck was AJ thinking?”

“He was just trying to help Chase, but sometimes you mis-time your bumps. Joey did the same yesterday.” Juliette rolls her eyes as she focuses back on packing.

“Knowing what’s at stake, you’d think he’d double check they were aligned before hitting.” Brad sets Melody back down, allowing her to play as he walks over to Juliette.

“Let’s just say that you don’t have time to plan things exactly accordingly. You realize how fast we’re going, right?” Juliette shakes her head yes as she lets out a sigh and looks at him.

“Listen, just ignore me. It’s my nerves getting the best of me, honestly. I just hate stomaching these races.” He wraps his arms around her, giving her a kiss. “I’m proud of you and Paul for fighting back, though.”

“We had a good car. That certainly helps.” He then lets her go, letting her resume packing. He was set to go get changed and grab a quick shower, though hears the door open. “What the….” His comments are cut off when he sees Joey standing there, holding his finger.

“Do you guys have a bandaid?” He questions as blood drips from the finger to the floor.

“Yeah, I can get you one,” Juliette answers as she goes towards the bathroom.

“What’d you do?”  Brad questions as he makes his way over to his teammate.

“Cut it on the edge of Brittany’s bag,” Joey answers. Brad was set to say something, though noticed Melody had made her way over to where the blood had dripped on the floor, wiping it up with her finger and licking it.

“Melody….” Brad turned to move his daughter away, though noticed a change in the color of her eyes. “Shit! Juliette!” As Melody goes to move forward towards Joey, Brad pushes his teammate back, letting Juliette grab their daughter and hold her back, despite tears.

“What the…” Brad continues pushing Joey back, grabbing a piece of Kleenex as they back out the door together. Brad then shuts it behind them, leaning back against with a sigh. “What the hell was that?”

“My vampirish daughter liked the taste of your blood and was set for a bite.” Joey then looks at Brad in total shock as he wraps the Kleenex around his finger.

“Seriously?” Brad shakes his head yes as Joey looks around, completely surprised. “I don’t get it. Juliette is a vampire and yet she didn’t feel any craving when she saw the blood, actually went into action and never has tried to bite a human. But yet, your daughter just about bit me?”

“As a baby, there’s no way to control urges – they just act upon bodily instinct and for a vampire, that’s blood. Hence why as she continues to eat normal human things and drink formula and milk like any other baby, she also has some blood each day to keep that in check for the most par-”

“Let me guess – close to feeding time?” Brad shakes his head yes as Joey continues to be in total disbelief. “I just….I don’t know….Wow….”

“Look, I’m completely sorry about this, Joey. We’re still learning about her urges and balancing both her vampire behavior and werewolf behavior. I never thought that she’d do that. I apologize sincerely and please don’t hold this against me, Juliette or Melody.” Joey debated in his mind whether to go full scary movie mode and yell, panic, cry – but also thought about it logically. It wasn’t like they had gone after him previously.

“It’s okay. It’s understandable. I’m beginning to understand around you that nothing is straight, and it’s just part of the drill.  Just make sure you keep her fed so that doesn’t happen again, and I’ll try to keep my blood scent away from her.” Brad holds up his hand as he feels himself relax in knowing there was understanding.

“You have my word, I swear. I’m doing everything that I can to make sure we balance this properly.” He then opens the door slightly, grabbing the bandaid that Juliette left by the door and handing it to his teammate. “Here’s what you asked for. I hate to leave you hanging, bu-”

“Go on…” Brad then heads inside as he looks towards Juleitte and Melody, sitting on the couch together as Melody drinks a bottle.

“We can’t ever let that happen again. We have to do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Joey is at least forgiving enough to let it go, but what if that was someone else who doesn’t know or isn’t?” Juliette looks up from Melody, shaking her head in agreement.

“I’ll have a long talk with Edward this week and make sure that we sort out any of these issues for the future,” Juliette assures him. “Trust me; that scared me as much as it scared you.” Brad then walks over, sitting down beside her. “Are you sure Joey is okay?” Brad shakes his head yes.

“We knew there’d be issues and concerns,” Brad starts. “Now we just better handle it accordingly. That could’ve gotten ugly real quick.” Juliette knew that as she could only picture the thought if Melody had actually bit Joey.

“Maybe we need to hold off the wedding till we make sure we have everything under control with Melody.” Brad then looks at her surprised. “I mean, I don’t want this to happen again either, and it deserves a full focus. How are we supposed to plan a wedding while we worry and care for her?” Brad knew her concerns were valid, but didn’t want to wait any longer to call Juliette his wife. He had to already wait a couple years to get together.

“No – we’re getting married as scheduled. We can handle all of this accordingly.”

The Mysterious Puppies – Chapter 51: The Proposal

“So, are you going to show me the ring?” Joey questions as he meets up with Brad.

 

As per the e-mails back and forth, Joey had agreed to meet Brad at his house one night after they got done at Penske with the truck. In trade, Joey was hoping that he would get to see the ring that Brad had been talking about for Juliette.

 

“Fine….” Brad gives in as he leads Joey into the house. He lets Joey follow him to his office, opening up the door and going inside. He sits in the chair, pulling out his keys from his pocket.

 

“You have it under lock and key?” Joey questions surprised as Brad unlocks the lock.

 

“I wouldn’t want her to find it by accident, now would I?” He then slides the drawer open, reaching in for the box. He then picks it up carefully and slips it forward to Joey. “Open it carefully. Do not break it.” Joey shakes his head yes as he takes careful procession of the box. “Don’t lose it. I don’t want to go looking for another like someone else here.”

 

“It’s not my fault that it was a little loose on the finger.” Joey slowly opens the black box before him, taking in the ring that laid in the box. He checks out the silver band features certain swirls and features, as well as the dark ruby that lies in the middle. It wasn’t a traditional wedding ring of any sorts, nor what he would’ve expected when thinking of Brad or Juliette.

 

weddingring_vampire“You don’t look pleased….” Joey looks up from the box, caught off guard by Brad’s comment. He wasn’t wanting to disappoint his friend.

 

“It’s just not what I was expecting. It caught me off-guard.” Brad slowly takes the box out of Joey’s hands, closing it and placing it back in the drawer.

 

“That should be expected. You’re a mortal so you wouldn’t understand the significance.” He then closes the drawer and locks it back out. “That’s a traditional vampire ring. The small swirls each have special meanings, in which I can’t exactly remember right now, to the traditions of the ‘breed’ as they call themselves. The ruby is a significant colo-”

 

“Red for blood, obviously.” Brad shakes his head yes. “So you got her a traditional vampire ring?”

 

“I wanted to show that I accepted her for whom she is, vampire and all, and want to fully embrace that in my life, family and with our love twirled together for marriage. The wedding rings will symbolize that moreso with my side of the equation.” Joey then looks at Brad slightly confused as Brad takes his phone out. He then slides through a bunch of photos before handing his phone over to Joey. “That’s what I have discussed for a potential wedding band and maybe her ring.” Joey looks over the photo with a particular interest. There was something new that he learned each day about Brad.

 

“You certainly have put more thought than I would’ve expected, but it’s sweet and nice.” He then hands the phone back to Brad with a smile. “So, have you asked Danny yet about the propos-”

 

“Easssy.” Brad then stands up and walks out of the office. “I’ve got to worry about one thing at a time. Right now, that’s my family getting along with Juliette and Christmas plans.” The comment caught a bad reaction out of Joey as he had heard the story from what had happened at the Thanksgiving dinner.

 

“Any luck with that?” Brad shakes his head no as he fidgets a little nervously. With picking up the truck and going out for a couple last minute gifts, it was the next thing on his list to do before returning home.

 

“I’m going to speak to my dad about it tonight actually.” Joey looks on surprised, as he had expected an answer sooner.

 

“You do realize that today is the 23rd, right? You’re not giving yourself a lot of leeway. What if he and Kay have already started getting Christ-”

 

“I’ve talked to my mom, Dawn and Brian already. They have accepted without hesitation. My mom just didn’t want to tell Dad herself so that’s why I am doing it.” Joey could only imagine the awkwardness if Bob said no, and what could transpire over the next 48 hours as a result. He could only hope that Dawn and Kay had a better reading than he had of Bob.

 

“Fingers crossed – but that’s all I have to say for you. I mean, if he doesn’t accept, you’re going to have a couple problems Brad.” Brad shook his head yes, agreeing. It was why he wasn’t going to accept no for an answer.

 

“Trust me – it has to work. This has to work if the rest of my Christmas plan is going to come together.” Joey then looks on confused, but a glance back towards the ring answered the question.

 

*********************

 

“Danny, can we talk?” Brad asks later that night upon returning back to the house. Danny glances over, caught off-guard by the seriousness of Brad’s voice.

 

“The last time you used that tone, my sister was pregnant,” he starts. “Please tell me that she’s not pregnant again.” Brad shakes his head no, though feels the nervous grow in Danny’s response. He didn’t want his sister pregnant again. Did he have reservations about them still?

 

“It has to do with my relationship with Juliette, though.” Danny crosses his arms, curious. What could Brad have to say?

 

“You told me that your dad was coming for Christmas and I accepted. There is tension between the pair. Are you saying something in relation to that?” Brad knew that his father wouldn’t react the best to the idea of an engagement, but he wasn’t going to sit back and deal with his father’s apprehensions forever.

 

“It doesn’t deal with my father, Danny. That’s dealt with for now.” Danny thought otherwise, just hoping for peace on Christmas because they didn’t need to have any fights. “I actually have a bigger question than that for you. I love your sister a lot. You know how much I care about her and what I’ve been willing to do for her. You understand that I’d do even more for her if I had to. She’s my world and she means everyth-”

 

“Bradley Keselowski, are you planning on proposing on Christmas to my sister?” Brad froze immediately hearing his full name used. He was not expecting that at all, but knew it meant that things were definitely serious. He just hoped that they’d go as he hoped now.

 

“That is the plan. I want your permission, though. I know how much you mean to each other and it wouldn’t feel right without your permission first.” Danny wanted to say yes as he understood how much Brad and Juliette loved each other. However, he couldn’t bring himself to spit out the word.

 

“I can’t give you permission to do that quite yet.” Brad looks on surprised as he thought he had taken the right steps necessary. What was he missing?

 

“May I ask why not?” Danny hated to do this and he knew that he was asking a lot, but it was something that he wasn’t going to budge on. It was one of those things that meant a lot with his own situation that wouldn’t change

 

“Family is something that is very important to myself, Juliette and Yolanda. We’ve always said that family will come before anything, as it has with our lives. We’ve experienced heart breaking loss and know the pain at the opposite end of love. Right now, your father isn’t accepting of my sister. Therefore the family aspect is not complete, and therefore I have to decline your offer. I’m sorry, Brad.” Brad was surprised to hear Danny’s reasoning, but was also understanding given how he had gotten to know Danny over the past year and a bit. It was why he wasn’t going to put up an argument right now despite his frustration.

 

“So you won’t accept at any cost till my father accepts your sister?” Danny shakes his head yes. “Well then I guess I better ask for a Christmas miracle to happen.”

 

Brad then walks away without another word. He knew if he stood there any longer that he would get into a bickering match with Danny about how unfair his response was, and how changing his father’s ways wasn’t quite as easy as it seemed. He wasn’t going to burn that bridge right now, whether fair or not.

 

Instead, he had about 36 hours to come up with a peace making miracle.

The Mysterious Puppies – Chapter 48: Future Plans

Thanks for reading and reviewing 🙂

 

Brad lets out a sigh as he looks out the window. He wasn’t supposed to be on this plane today. He didn’t want to be on the plane today. He shouldn’t be on the plane. This was the off-season, a time that he was supposed to be relaxing and enjoying time with the family.

 

Why was he sitting on the plane?

 

“So why are you going to the Performance Racing Industry show today?” Joey questions with a glance over at his teammate as they sit on the plane together. As per Brad’s normal schedule, Yolanda had brought him in to meet up with Joey, with them flying to Indiana together to look as though the whole flight had gone that way.

 

“They asked me to be the key best speaker for the event,” Brad answers. “What was I supposed to say?”

 

“You couldn’t do it?” Brad shakes his head no. “You should be spending time with Juliette and Melody.” Brad lets out a sigh, as he knew his teammate was right.

 

“Right. I’ll go ahead and tell Roger that I can’t come because Melody’s situation. He will require the reasoning, and I’m sure that’d go over well.” Joey rolls his eyes as he felt that Brad was certainly blowing it out of proportion thus far.

 

“He knows that Juliette is pregnant. Couldn’t you use that in your reasoning in that you need to stay with her?” Brad shrugs his shoulders as perhaps the young teammate was right. Why hadn’t he thought of this before leaving? Though, if he was stuck on a plane and headed to the show, he might as well use the time wisely.

 

“Forget that – we can’t change that now, can we? I want to ask you something else, and I want your honest opinion. I was thinking of proposing to Juliette before the year was over.” Joey looks on at his teammate shocked, not expecting this by a long shot. He knew how close the pair were, and could see that they had a future together. But, was this really happening?

 

“You both love each other, and you’re starting a family together. Seeing you both together and knowing your secrets, I think it’s meant to be. I think it’s perfect for you to propose.” Brad had those same very thoughts on his mind, and it was the reason why he was already piecing proposal ideas together. However, there was one thing holding him back a little.

 

“Should my family’s lack of acceptance play in my decision? My mom and Bob have loved her from the beginning, and I finally got Dawn to come around. My father, though, has yet to come around and Mom doesn’t think he ever will. I don’t know if I should wait till I have their entire acceptance first.” Joey knew the complex that Brad faced, and totally understood that. He had made sure to have understanding from both his and Brittany’s parents before proposing.

 

“I understand how it’d be perfect to have their acceptance, and it’d make the very happy merry family. However, it’s not necessary. If you feel that it’s the right time and you truly want to be with Juliette in that way, I say that you go for it.” Brad smiled as the logic came nicely from his teammate and certainly settled his worries. “Although, you should get the blessing from her pare-”

 

“They were killed when she was a teenager, actually.” Joey looks on with a sad face, surprised to learn the news and wondering how this affected things moving forward. “It happened when she was 14. She spent the rest of her teenage years with her brother Danny and best friend Yolanda before she ran away, looking for her own life amongst the human race.”

 

“Well, it’s proper to get the family’s blessing before you do anything. Therefore, you should ask Danny. Do you think that Danny would give you that?” If Brad had heard the question about six months ago, he knew the answer immediately, and that wouldn’t been favorable. Although given how things had changed and the relationship improving, perhaps there would be an answer that he was looking for.

 

“I think Danny would say yes. He likes me and hasn’t complained about me living at his house or dating his sister. I don’t think that’d be a problem.” Joey smiled as he knew that Brad didn’t need any other issues on his plate. It seemed to be enough with Melody, his family, and balancing everything together.

 

“So, do you have any idea how you’re going to propose then?” Brad thought it over, remembering what he’d use the long flights to think about over the past couple of weeks. He just had to keep reminding himself to not say anything about those thoughts to Yolanda.

 

“Christmas or New Years.” Joey looks on intrigued by his teammate’s suggestion. Both days seemed like good options, depending how Brad went about the celebration.

 

“A lot of girls start to suspect things on New Years once you start getting cute, romantic and planning. Therefore, if you want to surprise her, go with Christmas. Hide it as a normal present, and go from there.” Brad smiled, as that was the exact idea that he had been thinking of, should he use Christmas. “Do you have a ring?”

 

“No, I just thought I’d propose with a lollipop. What do you think, dummy?” Joey looks on shocked at Brad’s response. He had been called a bunch of names lately, but didn’t think that the latest would come from his own teammate.

 

“Hey, you could be planning for the day and then getting the ring later. So, can I see the ring?” Brad shakes his head no as Joey looks on shocked. “Why not? I’m your best friend. I’m offering you advice. Don’t I get a preview?”

 

“I don’t have the ring on me. It’s at my house, hidden in a secret spot. I’ve had it hidden there for about a month now.” Joey felt like pouting in not being able to see it, despite now knowing where it was.

 

“So what does it look like?” Brad knew that he could take the time to describe it, but that’d take too long. This wasn’t just your average ring.

 

“How about we end this discussion, enjoy our job as best we can, and I’ll show you later?” Brad then unbuckles his seatbelt and walks off of the plane, greeting one of the representatives that was meeting them there before Joey could say anymore.

 

Brad trusted Joey, and certainly called him his best friend. But, he wasn’t quite at the liberty to discuss the details of the ring, quite yet. He wanted to keep that a secret till Juliette saw it, wanting her to be the first to know what he had gotten.