The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 68: Food City 500 (Con’t)

Sunday, April 15 – Bristol Motor Speedway

It’d been a quiet period of time waiting for the rain to pass, but it also didn’t seem like it’d be stopping anytime soon. It was at that time that NASCAR made the decision to regroup and come back on Monday to try and finish the rest of the Food City 500.

“Considering the car is wrecked and we’re out of it, we could just pack up,” Kenny suggests, catching a glance from Chase. “I know you’ve been through quite a bi-”

“Everything that happened last week has no effect on me standing here right now, or coming back tomorrow,” Chase cuts him off, which caught the crew chief by surprise. Kenny could also tell that it wasn’t the full truth, either. “Besides, we are spending another weekend working together. Let’s use tomorrow as practice for getting to know each other more, and then maybe we can make something work in Richmond.”

“If that’s what you want to do, I’m as committed as you are and I’ll see you tomorrow.” Chase nods his head with a small smile as he goes to head off. “Chase?” Chase then stops, glancing back towards Kenny. “I have no clue what happened this past week, or what Alan and Jordan know. But I will say this – whatever it is that happened between yourself, Sarina, and Alison, I hope it works out. I hope that you’re able to work your way through whatever feelings you’re having. I hope they’re able to find her so you can put your mind at peace. If you want to talk, you know my door is always open…”

“I appreciate that, Kenny, but I’m going to be fine.” Chase takes a pause, followed by a deep breath as everything flashes before his eyes once again. “I don’t think I could bring myself to talk to you about it, if I’m being honest. I just can’t find those words. But I appreciate the offer.”

“Anytime. Remember, we’re all family and we will do whatever we need to do for each other.” Chase nods his head, not needing a reminder considering Alan’s past couple of instances.

Monday, April 16 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Chase shakes his head as he glances out the window of the motorcoach. It was supposed to be nicer weather today, and get the rest of the race done – but yet it seemed worse. How did they get to the point of sleet falling at Bristol?

He then hears a knock at the door, and rolls his eyes at first. He had half-expected it to be one of the crew members with concerns for him, giving his distance through the weekend. Could you blame him for what had happened just the week before? And how could you expect him to say something? It wasn’t something he wanted everybody knowing.

He was caught off-guard when he opened the door, though, seeing his dad standing there instead. Since seeing his parents at the hospital after he woke up, he hadn’t seen them much since, focused solely on the racing that weekend and wanting to avoid everything concerning Alison.

“Hey,” Chase says quietly as he backs away from the door, watching his dad follow him back up inside.

“Hey,” Bill replies as he keeps his eyes on Chase, watching him closely. “How are you?” Chase sits down on the couch, half-expecting the conversation to come.

“I’m alright. I told you on Friday that I was fin-”

“I know what you said, Chase. I listen when you talk to me. But it’s been some time since then, and clearly everything has been on your mind more than likely. Can I guess that it’s still bothering you?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks back out the window.

“I woke up Friday night, as well as last night in the middle of the night because I was thinking about Alison. I was worried that she was going to show up once again. I was worried that she’d try to do something even further pushing because of her frustration in what happened. I was also sick and disgusted about what happened.” Chase then looks back towards his dad. “Is that what you wanted to hear, rather than my cover-up that I’ve told everyone?”

“It’s a start, if I’m being honest. We talked about it when you woke up in the hospital – your feelings, what happened, and the fact that you pani-”

“I was scared for Sarina. I had just watched her get shot after being kidnapped for a whole week. That didn’t have to do with what Alison did.” Bill takes a deep breath, trying to stay as calm as possible despite being frustrated as ever with Chase.

“Sure, that explains what happened. But what about Jordan and Alan finding you in the bathroom, sick and disgusted, having been up crying most of the night? That’s what worries me, Chase. The fact that you’re avoiding dealing with those feelings by putting it off as if nothing happened. I bet you haven’t said anything to anyon-”

“I brought it on mysel-”

“She sexually assaulted yo-”

“I made the deal, didn’t I?” Chase takes a deep breath as he glances back out the window. “I accepted it for Sarina’s safety, and I have to live with the consequences, whatever those may be. I’m dealing with it.” Bill rolls his eyes as he knew that wasn’t the case.

“Avoiding discussion isn’t dealing with it, Chase. You need to get a battle handle on it. When I mentioned what she did to you, you couldn’t even look me in the eye. You were about to break down in tears – but hey, there’s nothing remaining right? I let it go that day at the hospital because you were right, seeing Sarina was the most important thing that day.” Bill reaches out and places a hand on Chase’s, catching his attention. “Stop hiding it. I know you’re hurting, and it hurts me more than anything to see you like this…”

“I just want to forget it happened. I just want to find out that she’s been caught and I never have to see her again. Can we please just not tal-”

“Avoiding the topic isn’t going to make it go away, Chase. You need to talk about this with someone.” Bill reaches with his other hand into his pocket, pulling out a booklet and placing it down on the couch, catching Chase’s attention.

“There’s no way I’m talking to a complete stranger about this, Dad…” Bill takes a deep breath.

“I know it’s a daunting task, but that’s why there are psychiatrists. They can help you with your feelings because even beyond what she did this past week, she’s been messing with you for awhile now. Everybody can see that.” Chase rolls his eyes.

“Right, because that’s just how I am. Nobody believes that I can handle this and am stron-”

“Are you serious right now? Listen to yourself for a second. If you ask me, I have no question about how strong you are in how you’ve been able to face what she’s thrown at you, and keep everything else in your life in order. Not a lot of people could say or do that. I’m just trying to give you a way to stop fighting the silent fight anymore. Talk to someone, please. Take this number and call it, or talk to me, talk to Sarina, talk to your mom, talk to Jordan, or even talk to Alan. Just talk to someone and address your feelings, please…”

“I’ll think about it, okay?” Chase takes the booklet and places it up on the table. “Dad, I’ve got this. I don’t need you treating me like a kid anymore. I’ll be fine…”

He then stands up, grabs his phone and sunglasses off the table, before heading out to go to pit road. Bill could only glance in the direction he headed, and let out a sigh.

“Bill?” Sarina asks, catching his attention. “Please tell me he’s going to be okay….”

“He’ll be okay,” Bill replies as he gets up and walks over to her. “I know he’ll be okay. I just wish he would make it easier on himself…”

It was a long day, but their attitude paid off as they were able to gain some positions – and with every point mattering to qualify for the playoffs, they weren’t going to complain. But even with that said, Chase was certainly glad to be heading out of Bristol.

“I love you,” Sarina comments as he comes out of the back room after getting changed out of his firesuit.

“I love you, too,” he replies, lightly kissing her lips as she wraps her arms around him.

“You’ve been here for me through everything, and even are still here for me. I wouldn’t be able to make my XFINITY Series debut next weekend if it wasn’t for you being there, holding my hand, listening to me, letting me grow, and helping me be a better person. I can’t thank you enough for everything that you’ve done. We’re a team, Chase, so let me be here for you now. Talk to me about Alison, your feelings, your fears, how you feel. I’m willing to listen to you.” He watches as she lays her head against his chest, letting out a sigh as he rests his chin on top of her head.

“I wish I could just tell you everything, spill my guts out here and now. I wish I could just make the feelings go away by pouring them out. I wish I could do what you want – but I can’t. I can’t bring myself to say what happened….” She then glances up into his eyes.

“Is it because of the shame? Or something else?” He shrugs his shoulders as he wraps his arms around her.

“I don’t know, honestly. But I do appreciate you being here, and I love you. Nothing will ever change that.” She then lays her head back against his chest.

“Chase, I’ll always be here, forever and always….”

Friday, April 20 – Richmond Raceway

Chase makes his way into the garage area, a smile fixated on his face as he stops by the car.

“I don’t want to be insensitive here, but that smile normally means something….” Jordan starts as he leans over from the other side of the NAPA Chevrolet. He had wanted to make the dip in that something had happened, but didn’t want to push his luck just yet. He could only guess that the topic of sexual contact was still a sensitive subject.

“Check the XFINITY leaderboard and then get back to me,” Chase offers, earning a curious glance from Jordan. However, he did as requested, seeing that Sarina had ended both XFINITY series practice sessions ranked third on the board.

“She looks like no damn rookie out there!” Chase shakes his head no with a smile of his own.

“And the odd thing? She wasn’t using the bottom lane. Justin pointed it out, and I noticed watching, that she was using the middle groove instead of the bottom.” Jordan was now even more impressed as he kept his eyes on his driver.

“Are you going to try and steal a secret from your girlfriend now?” Chase just gives him back a wink as Jordan laughs. “Hey, whatever makes ya happy is all that matters, right?”

“We just need to survive this week and our boss is back next week.” Jordan nods his head in agreement as he makes his way over to Chase.

“You know, Alan told me to keep an eye on you.” Chase glances over intrigued. “He was worried about how you were feeling, and how Kenny would treat things. I mean, we both know what happ-”

“I don’t want to talk about tha-”

“Let me guess – you haven’t said a single word about that to anyone all week, have you?” Chase lets out a sigh as he lays his head on the roof of the car. “As Alan predicted. Look, we’re both just worried about you and being that we’re the only ones that know besides Sarina and your parents, we’re the only ones that can truly be here for you – unless you tell someone else.”

“Jordan, please…..” Jordan places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“I know you’re going to take your time and do this at your own pace and do whatever the hell you want with it. But please, don’t keep putting it off. You’re just going to make it worse. It’s like you’ve always said – don’t give someone the power to eat at you. What have you been doing with Alison for months? Don’t give her this power.” Chase glances over at the interior mechanic.

“And how am I supposed to just remove that power without question? The minute that I go to let my guard down is the minute that she strikes and does something.” Jordan nods his head, having seen the pattern over the past couple of months.

“So making yourself sick in thought is better? That doesn’t sound healthy, Chase. But hey, it’s your life.” Jordan walks away as Chase just lets out a long sigh.

Hopefully he wouldn’t have to deal with this much longer as he’d get the news they’d been waiting to hear all along. For now, though, he could use his racecar as a good distraction with the pair of practice sessions.

The first practice went amazing as he was comfortable in race trim through most of the session, and managed to top the speed chart with a qualifying trim run at the very end.

The second practice didn’t show the speed on the chart (25th), but that wasn’t Kenny’s focus as he was more focused on getting Chase comfortable over the long run. Given the pair of the practices, he had to admit that he was confident going into Saturday night’s race.

Chase makes his way into the garage area, hopping up onto the shelf with a sigh as Kenny glances over.

“For someone who just qualified second for the race, you don’t look happy,” Kenny comments as Chase looks over his way.

“Trust me – qualifying second is great, as is Sarina starting up front tonight too,” Chase replies as Kenny was now confused. “There’s more to life than that, though.” Kenny hated to intrigue on his driver’s personal lives when he worked with them, but the confusion pushed him to do so anyway.

“Enlighten me…” Chase rolls his eyes as he wanted to just forget about it.

“Media center, post qualifying. Did you not hear how they implied cheating on purpose, pressure getting to us, tension in the team?” Kenny nods his head, having watched the feed, and laughed through it all. “Alan and I have the best friendship, ever, and yet we’ve got to deal with that? They don’t understa-”

“When did it matter to you what they said, Chase? They’re just fishing for a story.” Chase lets out a sigh as he knew that was the case.

“I also had the autograph session – which by the way, it went great for the most part as the fans were awesome. But of course, someone has to remind me that she’s alive.” Kenny was now ultra confused, and even a little worried.

“Alison?” Chase lets out a sigh as he nods his head, pulling his phone out of his pocket. He loads a photo of the note, having handed the original over the authorities, before handing the phone over to Kenny. “Just because I’ve left you alone for a couple weeks doesn’t mean I’m done with you. We were just getting started…” Kenny looks up at Chase. “Did she hand it to you herself?”

“No, she left a note lying around with my name on it and someone handed it to me – typical Alison style.” Kenny just shakes his head in disgust as he hands the phone back over.

“That’s just sick and retarded. But hey, everybody is watching for her-”

“They have been for the past several months and we’ve had nothing happen. She was within feet of police officers and managed to escape.” Kenny almost felt his barrier drop immediately as he watched his young driver.

“For whatever it is worth, I believe it will work out. she’ll be found, caught, and eliminated from your life – and she won’t pull anything else ever again. I know that because of how many people have your back, and how strong you are. No matter what she throws at you, you can push it away.” Chase glances up at the crew chief.

“I used to believe that, until she played my greatest weaknesses and vulnerabilities against me. Now, I don’t know how much I can take…” Kenny almost wanted to reach out, but resisted doing so as he wasn’t sure where things stood with them together.

“You’re still standing here, right? You’re still pushing forward. You were able to keep a straight face all last weekend. That should say something, right?” Chase wanted to believe that as he kept saying that, wanting to use that strength to actually move forward, but he also felt stuck.

“What if while I put on this great front it is tearing me apart inside slowly? I can’t even begin to describe how sick she makes me feel. The thought of her makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t even want to think about the feelings that I had….” Chase takes a deep breath as he feels the emotions coming to the forefront once again.

“But the only way that you’re going to see them through-”

“I know I need to talk about them to someone, Kenny. You’re not the first person to tell me that. Sarina has told me that. Jordan has told me that. My dad told me that. Alan told me that. But how do you talk about something that makes you so sick?” Kenny wasn’t even sure where to go with it as he shook his head.

“I don’t know because I’ve never been in your shoes before. You could always make sure you’re comfortable, knowing that she can’t hurt you from memories, knowing that you will be okay.” Kenny then looks over at Chase with sympatric eyes. “I wish I could tell you some magic cure…”

“I wish there was some potion that I could drink that would make me forget everything that happened – every single motion, feeling, entrapment. But I can’t get that wish either.”

“Life isn’t meant to be easy, Chase. But for what it’s worth, you have the right friends around you and I know you’ll find that answer you’re looking for.”

“When?” Kenny shrugs his shoulders.

“I don’t know, but hopefully sooner than later. Stay strong, it’ll work out…” Kenny then heads off, leaving Chase to think over his thoughts.

“I hope you’re right, Kenny…..”

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 67: Food City 500

 

Sunday, April 15 – Bristol Motor Speedway

It was a new day, and already it felt better than last week. For 500 laps, he would be in his own little world. Couldn’t complain about a distraction right now, right? Even with the threat of rain, hanging around with Ryan and Joey was a great change of pace.

“Do you have any dirt on Ryan?” A new voice caught him off guard. He glanced over his shoulder, seeing Darrell Wallace.

“Nothing new,” Chase replied, which wasn’t a lie. Where was the time lately?

“He locked me in my motorcoach. I had to climb through the door above the toilet to get out.” Chase couldn’t help but laugh in response. “It’s not funny, Clyde.”

“Oh no, it’s just a shitty situation.” Darrell rolls his eyes as Chase chuckles again. “Are you sure Ryan did it?”

“It’s right up his alley….” Chase knew from experience, but still wasn’t positive.

“He’s also been consumed lately with a distraction.” Darrell smiles as he glances over at Lindsay and Sarina on pit road. “I can’t believe they’re still together.”

“I thought he told us this relationship was impossible.” Chase nods his head, remembering the discussion. “Somebody else said the same thing and now you’re engaged to her.”

“I know, and I would do anything for her, too.” He takes a deep breath, knowing he couldn’t linger on that right now. It was time to have a fun afternoon.

Unfortunately, the fun didn’t last long as Michael McDowell got loose on Lap 4, collecting Chase among others. Sarina was already cursing up a storm on the pit box, even with both Jordan and Josh trying to calm her down.

“Mcfuckell finally qualifies good and he still can’t drive a wooden screw!” She lets out, visibly frustrated.

The team made as many repairs as they could, losing a couple laps in the process, before going back green flag racing. The day didn’t look to be improving as Chase began complaining of an exhaust leak, telling the team they better fix it next caution. That yellow came at Lap 45, which was the scheduled competition caution. Rather than time to make repairs, the red was flown for rain.

“I feel terrible,” Chase says as he stands on pit road with Kenny Francis. “I couldn’t see or do shit. I thought I was clear, but nope – somebody else had better ideas. I literally don’t get what happened there.”

“You met the class clown,” Kenny comments, earning a couple chuckles. “There was nothing you can do. We will salvage what we can and move onto Richmond. Josh has an idea to fix the leak so we will do that once we go back racing. If it doesn’t work, we’re done.” Chase nods his head before heading off with Sarina.

 Rain delay fun didn’t take long to be found, following an offer from Brexton to come play with him.

“Ah shit!” Samantha lets out from the kitchen. “How does one forget to buy eggs if they’re making cookies?” Sarina shrugs her shoulders.

“We’ve got none or I’d help you out,” Sarina offers.

“Why don’t you girls go to the store?” Chase suggests, catching them both off-guard considering the past week. “I’ll watch Brexton.”

“Are you sure about that?” Samantha questions and Chase nods his head.

“I can keep my eye on him.” Sarina, meanwhile, looked like a bucket of nerves.

“What about Alison?” Sarina wonders as Chase takes a long deep breath. He didn’t need that reminder right now.

“I’ll be fine,” he assured her. “Besides, I have everybody around here on the lookout. Go and have some girl time…”

“Okay.” Sarina then gives Chase a small kiss. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

The girls get ready and head out soon after, leaving Chase and Brexton to the spread of toy cars on the floor of the motorcoach. It didn’t take long for the girls to reach the car, or head out set for a trip to the store. However, there were other thoughts on Samantha’s mind.

“You know that you can talk to me always….” She casually let out, catching Sarina’s gaze immediately. “I heard the hesitation with Chase in your voice.”

“Can you blame me given the past week?” Sarina questions and Samantha shakes her head no.

“I don’t know what I’d do in that situation. I’d probably go crazy.” Sarina knew that feeling, but for other reasons.

“I almost did in worry for what she was going to do to me. Then it changed in worry, panic, fear for Chase when she told me details.” Samantha glances over confused.

“I heard that Chase had contact with her all week…”

“If she saw him, I was fine and saved. She used me as leverage to get to him.” Samantha felt an instant wave of shock in hearing that small detail.

“I don’t want to know, do I?” Sarina lets out a sigh, shaking her head no. She didn’t want to say it, but she needed to get it out to someone and knew Sam wouldn’t tell anyone.

“She sexually assaulted him, Sam. She made him kiss her. She made him enjoy bodies rubbing against each other. Then, in front of me, she stuck her hand down his pants and rubbed him. It’s one thing to feel physical pain, but it’s another feeling and watching that.”

“Sweetheart, I don’t even know what to say….”

“I felt like I was going to be sick – heck, Chase has gotten sick over the thought of it. I felt violated, betrayed – but yet it was him going through it and not because he had chosen to.” Samantha takes a careful deep breath.

“It’s understandable because of how much you love him, and how much you care about him, and that bond. It’s like she broke that privacy barrier.” Sarina nods her head as she looks down at her ring.

“When we first saw each other afterwards, he didn’t say a single word. He just slipped the ring back on my finger, holding my hand, completely silent.” Sarina glances up and at Samantha. “He’s always been the strong one. He’s always helped me. Now it’s role reversal and I feel helpless…” Samantha reaches over, placing a hand on Sarina’s.

“Just be there. Listen to him, hold him, comfort him, let him cry, make him feel safe. It sounds so simple but that’s all it takes. He will come around when he’s ready.” Sarina nods her head, hopeful, feeling her heart cringe.

“The worst feeling is knowing my touch scares him. I went to kiss him at the hospital, and he pulled away initially. He won’t say it, but it affected him. He can’t stand that simple touch now. Its a reminder, I guess…”

“He’ll come around, Sarina. Give it time. Take a slow, be assuring, comfort his fears. You’ll reach that understanding with him.” Sarina hoped that Samantha was right.

“I guess I just want that connection back so badly for selfish reasons.” Samantha smiles a little.

“Hey, I don’t blame you. Every girl is like that – no matter how much they’re there for their man. Kyle was dealing with his leg surgery and healing, and yet I wanted everything that I had before no changes.” Sarina smiles, having heard stories of that time.

“You had an excuse. You were pregnant.” Samantha smiles.

“I chalk some of the begging and tears to that, but I don’t think it was all that. Face it – we’re both spoiled. Our guys treat us as Queens and we can’t get enough of it. Now it’s your turn to repay Chase for everything…”

“I won’t hold back…”

At the track, Kyle had finished up his chats with the crew, as well as some fellow drivers, and decided to go check on Samantha and Brexton. He makes his way to the motorcoach, letting himself in, as he makes his way inside.

“Sssssh,” he hears and looks on surprised in seeing Chase lying on the floor beside Brexton, with Brexton passed out. “I finally got him to calm down and take his nap.”

“I’m impressed,” Kyle comments as he sits on the couch. “Where’s Samantha?”

“She went to get eggs to make cookies.” Chase had just realized that the girls had been gone longer than expected, but a text message in response to the photo of Brexton passed out had kept his nerves calmed. “I think they got sidetracked.”

“Isn’t that normal?” Chase chuckles as he sits up.

“Actually, it may be good. Sarina is still a little upset about what happened…” Chase lets out a sigh, as Kyle crosses his arms.

“She’s not the only one….” Chase shakes his head no.

“I’d rather not talk about it, though.” Chase trusted Kyle and liked their friendship, but not too tell him what happened with Alison.

“Hey, that’s fine….” Kyle smiles as he looks towards Brexton. “All I can do is say I hope it gets easier, I hope they find her, and you can babysit anytime.”

“I may hold you to that offer.” Kyle chuckles a little. “He may be cheering for me more than you…”

“Hey now, easy there…” Chase just smiles. “Say, I challenge you to game of NASCAR Heat.”

“Challenge accepted.”

Couple rounds later and the call was given by NASCAR for drivers to their cars as the track was dry.

With the call being made to get back going, the No. 9 crew began repairs – though a little early as the red flag was still being displayed. As a result, they were issued a one lap penalty from NASCAR. The team didn’t let that deter them, making the necessary repairs.

“NASCAR wants you to back up in the stall,” Kenny comes over the radio, as they were set to serve their penalty.

“Is there anything else that I can do for them today?” Chase snaps back after following the orders as requested. It was clear that the remainder of this race would be no fun.

With the penalty served and damage fixed mostly, he returned to the track to make laps and hopefully make up ground. Sarina had one eye on him, but also another on Ryan as he was in dominate form with the lead. Since Chase couldn’t win, she’d have no problem with Ryan winning. However, just like Chase, Ryan got caught up in someone else’s mess, wrecked while trying to put a bunch of cars a lap down.

“Did someone let out the clowns today or what?” She asked in total disbelief. “Ridiculous!”

It didn’t take long for the race to get back underway – or stopped again, with a second flag flying at Lap 204.

“Did we get it fixed decent enough?” Josh asks and Chase nods his head.

“It’s actually driving pretty decent, considering,” Chase answers earning an glance of approval from the crew. “What happened to Ryan?”

Jordan took the liberty of explaining, which earned a glance of shock and disbelief from Chase in return. He was then intrigued by what the interior mechanic had to share about others upfront and the nature of the track thus far.

With the discussion behind them and hopes of staying dry, the decision was made to retreat back to the trailer.

“Hey, are you okay?” Jordan asks as he lingers behind the others with Chase.

“I’m fine,” he tells him as Jordan takes another solid glance.

“Are you sure? I mean, I know how tore up you were-”

“Jordan, I’m fine. I’m just focused on making the most of today right now. We can worry about that later – or really not at all.” Jordan wanted to scream in response as he knew taking that approach wouldn’t help. “Just promise me you haven’t told the guys.”

“I would never break your trust – as long as you promise to come to me if you need anything.” Chase takes a careful deep breath. He did have one wish.

“I just want to forget what happened, how she made me feel, and rid of her out of my life forever. But wait, I can’t do that because she could be hiding around the next corner planning another attack. If you want to know the truth, there’s no way I’m going to feel completely over what happened until I know she can’t do anything to me, Sarina, or anyone ever again. Will that day come?” Jordan hoped and prayed, but still didn’t know for absolutely certain anymore.

“I know everyone is doing what they can. It will end soon, Chase.” Chase wanted to believe those words, but it seemed distant and repetitive given the past couple of months.

“I hope you’re finally right….” He then heads into the hauler, joining the rest of the team. Jordan wanted to continue the conversation, but for now respected his driver’s wishes.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story — Chapter 66: Zombie 150

Thursday, April 12 – Nashville, Tennessee

Bill sat by the bed as quiet as could be, just waiting for something, anything out of Chase. He knew he would be waking up soon, and could only imagine what would be on his mind.

He didn’t have much longer to think about what to say, as eyes were slowly opening before him.

“Where am I?” Chase’s first words were as he pulled against the restraints that bound his wrists.

“Easy…..,”Bill encourages as he places a hand on each of Chase’s, staring him straight in the eyes. “You’re in the hospital. Take a deep breath and calm down, you’ll be ok.” Chase tried to focus on his father’s words, but the restraints didn’t feel comfortable.

“Can you get these removed, please? Why the hell are they even on me?” Alan sneaks out of the room as Bill keeps his eyes on Chase.

“Panic attack. In case you woke up freaking ou-”

“Sarina!” It was like everything that happened came to him that minute. “Dad, please….”

“She’s okay. The bullet just glazed the shoulder. Some stitches, no internal damage, and a bandage, and she’s good to go. Kyle and Sam are with her. She’s okay….” Chase nods his head. That was all that mattered as he had done everything for her.

“Alison?” Bill takes a deep breath, knowing this wouldn’t go well.

“She got away.” Chase was ready to curse up a storm, cry, anything as that meant the games weren’t over yet. “They told me when you woke up, they wanted to check you ov-”

“I’m fine, Dad. I just want to see Sarina.” Bill understood, but felt more comfortable following the doctor’s instructions.

“Let them check you out, please. There may be something you haven’t noticed. Also, I would accept the preventative STD medicine because you never know, right? A test wouldn’t hurt anyone, either. Isn’t peace of mind meaningful? They also want to give you a tetanus shot due to what happened, and they ordered a rape ki-”

“She didn’t rape me-“

“She still sexual assaulted you, molested you – everything possible without actually raping you. There are still a lot of effects. You don’t need to pretend it doesn’t bother you.” Chase glances away from his dad, feeling the familiar hot tears. “Chase, talk to me, please….”

“All that matters is Sarina is oka-”

“You may have accepted her offer, done what you believed was right, but you don’t need to suffer alone.” Chase takes a deep breath as the doctor comes in.

“I’m fine…”He then holds up his hands as high as he can. “Can we get this over with, please?”

The entire process didn’t take long, but it was still longer than Chase would’ve preferred. The constant prodding, pokes from needles certainly weren’t well received. However, eventually he was left to the condition they didn’t want to him leave yet, but he could go see Sarina.

It wasn’t a long walk to her room, but it may have as well been. It also didn’t hurt that reaching her room, he stood frozen in the doorway, thankful she was okay, but also disgusted at what had happened due to Alison’s intensions for him. Taking a deep breath, he gets his wits about him as he watches both Kyle and Sam exit together. He then slowly makes his way in, sitting beside her bed in the chair.

“Chase……” Sarina says quietly, reaching her hand out to touch his. “I’m okay, trust me.” He pulls the pink diamond ring from his pocket, slipping it on her finger slowly. “Say something….”

“I’m glad you’re okay,” he says quietly, before kissing her hand. “You never should’ve been put in that situation.” She knew he blamed himself, just like the last time. Except now it probably felt 10 times worse.

“Chase, it is not your fault, none of this. You don’t need to shoulder the blame, just like you told me about my brother. Don’t do that to yourself.” He takes a deep breath, slowly nodding his head. ”I saw what she did. I know she did more beyond that. You don’t need to be strong for me, Chase. You can tell me how you feel.”

“Disgusted, sick, violated, angry, upset – I couldn’t sleep last night because I kept picturing it over and over.” He then glances down at her hand. “I broke our commitment to us, and I think that hurts more than ever.”

“I’m not mad at you. I know why you did it. There is no telling what she would have done otherwise. So I actually thank you for being willing to suffer through that for my sake. I love you, Chase.” She then leans over, kissing his cheek lightly. His breath hitched at the first simple thought of her touch, but calmed in how tenderness and light she was. He even stayed relaxed when she went in for a second kiss, this time on the lips. “It doesn’t change how I feel about you. If anything, I thank you and am proud of your strength. We are going to be okay. You will get through this.”

“Thank you…..” He then looks up, smiling a little as he looks into her eyes.

“Now, can we cuddle already?” He nods his head, climbing up in the bed beside her. “Whenever you want to talk, I’m here for you.”

“I just want to hold you….” She had no reservations about that, allowing him to wrap his arms around her, laying her head against his chest. “I heard the news about your XFINITY debut. I’m proud of you. You absolutely deserve that opportunity.”

Friday, April 13 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Chase walks into the garage, ready for a weekend of fun. Anything to rid of the thoughts of the past week was welcome in his books. He also wasn’t about to take for granted that Sarina was back with him, too.

“Should you be here?” Kenny Francis asks as he watches the pair walk into the garage. Chase just glances over at Sarina a little surprised before looking back towards the crew chief.

“I’m fine, Kenny,” Chase says as Kenny just nods.

“What about you?” Jordan wonders as he walks over to them.

“My shoulder is sore but I am fine,” Sarina says. “It’ll heal eventually but I am ready for this weekend.” She then gives Chase a little kiss on the cheek. “Have fun.” She then heads out, ready to find her crew.

“First run in 15 minutes,” Kenny says before walking away to find Josh. Jordan, meanwhile, had his eyes locked on driver with secret in hand.

“Are you okay?” Jordan asks as he wraps an arm around Chase’s shoulders.

“I said I was fi-” Chase starts, almost annoyed. Jordan was making this harder than necessary.

“You don’t need to hide it with me…..” Chase lets out a sigh as he leans back against the car.

“It’s better today than yesterday, okay? With knowing she is back, she is okay, and we are going to be fine – it helps. But I would be lying if I said it doesn’t bother me at all. I still feel sick thinking about it, but I accepted the deal so I’ll deal with it. And before you start, I know it is not my fault as it is Alison’s for manipulating me based on my emotions, but I still need to convince myself of that.” Jordan nods his head accepting, as he leans back beside him.

“Well, I’m always here for you.” Chase takes a deep breath, debating if he should say something.

“You know, it affected me more than I realized. I thought having Sarina back would make me feel better instantly. But when she went to kiss me, I pulled back. I was almost scared to feel her touch. How is that fair? I love her, I know I am safe with her – but I couldn’t almost stand her touch and that was a simple kiss. What if I do the same when she wants more?”

“Give it time, you’ll come around. It’s all part of the feeling of disgust, betrayal. You’ll grow comfortable again.” Chase glances out of the garage.

“I just wish they’d catch her already. I think that’s what bothers me the most is the fact she is still out there, lingering, and could do something agai-”

“You can’t let her get into your head like that. She isn’t going to get another chance.” Chase lets out a sigh.

“I wish I could believe you….” Chase then fixes his shoes once more before climbing in the car.

The Cup practice went smoothly, as he and Kenny found common ground quickly. Despite wishing they had more speed being 26th on the board, he couldn’t complain too much about the handling being that it was just a little snug.

He then spent the K&N practice atop the hauler, eyes focused on his girl. While she had kept assuring him that morning she was fine, he couldn’t help but be nervous. Sure, the bullet had just glazed her skin – but that was a bullet regardless how you said it. What if she was more sore than she was willing to admit? Thankfully, though, her thoughts were more accurate than his, as she ended the session second on the charts behind Harrison.

The rest of the day went smoothly, as Cup qualifying saw no issues with a solid top-20 effort. Of course, the evening was made sweeter by Sarina winning the K&N pole.

“Are you okay?” Chase asks her as they head back to the motorcoach following photos.

“Is that even a question after watching me win the pole?” She questions and he just chuckles, before turning back serious.

“I mean it…” She glances over, clutching his hand.

“I’m okay, trust me. I may need some ice tonight but I am fine to run 150 laps tomorrow. I just need you to change the bandage.” He nods his head, accepting. That wasn’t a bad compromise.

Saturday, April 14 – Bristol Motor Speedway

It was no lie – last night was longer than Chase hoped for, unable to sleep with thoughts swirling in every direction. Sarina offered as much comfort as she could, and eventually he was able to get to sleep.

“We could get Justin to run the car,” Kenny suggested after hearing details.

“I’ll be fine,” Chase assured him. “Besides, we need to get more time together.” Chase then climbs in the car, getting the belts all tight.

“Is he always like this?” Jordan just nods his head.

“He will use racing as his distraction until he is ready to tell us,” Jordan comments. “He’ll be fine…” Jordan then kneels down, ready to stick to business as usual.

The pre-practice worries didn’t last long, as the speed was there immediately, with Chase timing in 10th and second quickest in the two sessions. It was also nice to have time to not think about Alison, but rather focus on the car and adjustments. The post-practice breakdown was filled with so much fun, it went longer than anticipated – with Josh being the one to realize the XFINITY race had finished, and the K&N race was ready to go.

Knowing he wanted to see her before the green, Chase hurried out to the grid as everyone was getting ready to go.

“I just want to pop in and say good luck,” he says, catching her attention.

“How come you haven’t changed yet?” She wonders, surprised.

“I was having fun with the guys….” She smiles as it was actually nice to see him having fun with a good distraction. “Go kick some ass, okay? I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Not even caring that he was still in his firesuit, he made his way up on top of the pit box, ready to take in the action. The race started off well with Sarina leading the first 50 laps. Unfortunately, she would get a little too tight, fading back to third by the checkered.

Standing on pit road post-race, she couldn’t help but be disappointed. But there was no sad faces in knowing she got beat by her besties, Todd and Harrison. She even chuckled when Todd offered to share his sword with her, if he got to keep the trophy and zombie.

“You can use it on someone,” he said with a slight chuckle.

“Yeah, that’d be perfect,” she replies, noticing how Chase tensed up a little. “Are you okay?” He nods his head as he takes a deep breath. She then wraps both her arms around him, leaning her head against his chest. “We are going to be okay, Chase. We have each other, always.”

 

The Tale of Love and Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 65: “How did you know?”

Thursday April 12, 2018 – Nashville, Tennessee

Jordan grips the door handle, turning it as he enters the adjoined room with Alan in toe. Given how late in the morning it was and not a single word heard from Chase yet, the pair figured they better check on him.

They hear what could be assumed to be tears coming from the bathroom – taking a glance at each other, before making their way in that direction. Jordan glances in the room first, feeling his heart break immediately.

“Chase?” He calls out quietly, earning a small glance from Chase as he glances over their direction. Chase could only let out a sigh, leaning back against the wall as he runs his hands through his hair. There was no strength left anymore to put on a good face for them. “Are you okay?”

“This is just making me sick to my stomach,” Chase confesses as he lets out a sigh. Jordan slowly makes his way into the bathroom, sitting down on the floor beside him. “I tried to sleep last night – but I kept thinking about what happened, and I couldn’t Jordan…” But rather than it being his worry about Sarina as they probably thought, the sickness was solely based on Alison.

“You should’ve and came and got us. We would’ve come and sat with you, or tried to do something…” Alan nods his head agreeing as Chase lets out a sigh. Why was it so hard to say the truth?

“I appreciate that, but you’ve both already done so much for me that it wouldn’t have been fair.” He also felt bad in knowing that he’s been lying, too.

“Like I told you before, and I’ll tell you until my face is blue – we will do anything for you, and keep doing it as long it makes sure you and Sarina are okay,” Alan states as he leans back against the wall. “I meant those words, Chase. Somebody doesn’t dodge a bullet and not run for no reason.” Chase feels his breath hitch in his throat, knowing that was the first time Alison tried to pull one of these moves. Then came the comments in court, followed by this past week – which brought the vomit back up stream again.

“Easy….” Jordan comments as he rubs Chase’s back, watching the young man throw whatever was still left up. “Breathe, Chase, it’s going to be okay…”

Jordan then stands up and walks over to the sink, grabbing the washcloth and running it under the cold water. His eyes immediately caught a bit of a pink shine on the counter, glancing that way as it was so familiar. It brought a smile to his face as he recognized it immediately, but then brought confusion.

“Alan….” He whispers just loud enough for the crew chief to hear, catching Alan’s attention. He points to the ring on the counter, which results in the crew chief looking back confused as well.

“I’ll handle this,” Alan whispers back as he takes one glance at Chase. Seeing him sitting on the floor shirtless trying to calm the fears again, he noticed the mark on his collarbone and immediately remembered Alison’s words in court. “Please….”

Jordan knew by the crew chief’s reaction that he wanted alone time with Chase as there was a theory in development – even if he had no clue what Alan was thinking. Regardless, he followed direction and slowly made his way out of the bathroom.

“Take a deep breath, relax, take another deep breath,” Alan offers as he rubs Chase’s forehead with the cloth. “Just take a series of deep breathes. She’s going to be okay, as well as you.” Chase tries to follow direction, but the images of the past couple nights fill every thought. He closes his eyes, attempting every bit of focus, feeling the coolness on his forehead, followed by his cheeks. He then feels it go away, flinching a little and almost jumping a bit away from Alan as it returns on his back.

“I’m sorry – I’m just a little jumpy,” Chase quietly replies as Alan takes a deep breath himself. It seemed with every reaction, his theory was building to be even more true.

“It’s okay….” Alan keeps running the cloth along Chase’s neck, followed by down his back, trying to do whatever he could. “You’re safe with me and Jordan. We won’t let anything happen to you – we promise. You’re safe, we would never hurt you, or let someone touch you…” Chase slowly glances up and looks towards Alan. The hurt that Alan saw behind the brown eyes almost brought him to tears.

“How did you know?” It wasn’t the response that he was expecting, figuring he would’ve had to claw the details out of Chase, but it confirmed the theory as Alan stared back, almost in shock.

“The mark on your collarbone seemed a little out of place, and you were sitting here nervous and pretty much sick in thought. I was there in the trailer, and I was there in the court room. Sarina wouldn’t just let the ring go easily so I know Alison would’ve given it to you, but not without earning something in return.” The hot tears that were previously there the night before begin to trickle down again. “How far did she go?”

“Not all the way, but far enough….” It was like a punch in the gut for Alan in hearing that detail – especially considering he was in the next room over as this happened. “She made me strip down to just my boxers, lie on the bed, and then pushed herself on me, moving against me, kissing me….” His breath quickens as the tears fall even harder. “She didn’t rape me, Alan.”

“But she went far enough that you felt every sensation that goes along with that. Chase, it may not be rape – but it still has the same consequences of that happening. Sexual assault is sexual assault one way or another, and brings those feelings, and fears..” Alan wraps an arm around Chase’s shoulder, pulling him close. “And I can tell you right now that no matter what you’re feeling, you’re going to be okay. Everything is damn well going to work out and you will get through this – I promise. And it’s not your faul-”

“That’s a li-”

“Listen to me-”

“Alan, I accepted the deal from her to allow her to do that for Sarina’s safety.” Alan looks over a little confused. “She has simply tied up Sarina, stole the ring, and just left her- and will continue to do so as long as I agree to her game each and every night. I agreed because it gives me comfort in knowing Sarina is okay until the police find her.”

“So she has this power over you, rips you apart from the inside mentally and physically? Someone once said that you can’t let someone control you, or else they’ll keep doing it. That’s what you’re doing right here and now.” Chase nodded his head, knowing that – perhaps that tore him apart the most about this.

“I just want Sarina to be oka-”

“But this isn’t a solution, Chase. We need to tell the police what she’s been doing so they know just how twis-”

“No, nobody finds out about this Alan, please.” Alan takes a deep breath, understanding the fears and almost was ready to agree. But one look back at Chase and he knew that wasn’t going to work here.

“I know it’s going to be the worst thing ever telling them, but you need to. How else are they going to understand just how crazy Alison is? Furthermore, you need to go get chec-”

“No, not at all. I’m fine….” Alan looks at him a bit of surprise. “I’ll be fine.”

“You need to let them look you over, please…” Chase shakes his head no as he lies his head against the wall. “Besides, the more evidence the bett-”

“I took a very long hot shower last night before trying to go to sleep. I didn’t want to feel any part of her on me ever again…” Alan glances at Chase.

“Please let me say something so you can stop living this nightmare, please….” Chase lets out a sigh as he nods his head.

“I can’t do it, Alan. Can you pleas-”

“Absolutely. Chase, I’ll do whatever you need so you can feel better.” Chase takes a deep breath as he tries to stay calm.

“Can you make the memories go away?” Alan lets out a sigh as he slowly stands up.

“I wish…” Alan makes his way out of the bathroom, finding Jordan sitting on the edge of the bed. “I’m going to tell you something, and then I want you to go back in that bathroom and just hold him, let him cry, be there, do whatever he needs. I would do it myself, but I promised him that I would take care of this.”

“Whatever he needs,” Jordan states as Alan takes a deep breath.

It was only a small span of time, but Alan wished he never had to go through doing this. Then again, the pain of saying what happened and thinking about Chase’s feelings was onl small in comparison to what Chase was going through right now.

After detailing everything to Jordan and making sure the mechanic had a good hand on taking care of Chase, the rest of the pieces fell into place.

Alan made the hardest phone call first, revealing the details of what happened to Cindy and Bill. Between the anger and pain he could feel in Cindy’s words, and watching Bill even choke up a little despite his calm demeanor, Alan wished he could take back every ounce. However, he knew Chase’s support circle and knew that those within it would be the most important in moving forward. He knew that included Ryan and Darrell, and didn’t make that call for the time being. That would be up to Chase to handle.

He then called the investigator, asking for a meeting at the hotel. He depicted the details in full, even showcasing the text messages that Chase had received from Alison through Sarina’s number to develop the trail.

“Where is Mr. Elliot-” The investigator began afterwards.

“You don’t need to put him through anymore hell or reminders,” Alan cuts him off. “There’s no additional information that you need at this time to continue the investigation. Really, if I was him, I would be furiously angry in knowing that Alison has easily visited him, manipulated, controlled, molested now without you being able to catch her. I mean, it really makes me sick standing here telling you.” Alan takes a deep breath, knowing that losing his temper would get them nowhere. “I know you need his word, but for now you need to just trust me. Once we know Sarina is okay and this is over, then you can get a statement from him. Right now, I feel it’d be too much for him to take.”

“I understand, but we also need to make sure that he is okay and have him chec-”

“There’s no trace because he said he took a shower last night. Physically, he’s okay. Mentally is another story, but I feel we have it under control with what we’re doing. I think your focus should be getting Sarina away from that witch. It’s only a matter of time before something happens. Alison has Sarina to get to Chase, but what happens when she gets bored of that?”

“We will need the ring for eviden-”

“You’re going to have to once again trust us. You’ve seen it as I showed it to you, as well as the fact that it was in the original photo that Chase received from Alison. But for now, that ring needs to stay with him. It’s the one thing that he can hold on to for hope….”

It took time for everything to continue to fall in place as the investigators did whatever they wanted with the information, while Alan continued to keep Bill and Cindy in the loop as Jordan took care of Chase.

It was three hours later that Chase had emerged from the bathroom, sitting on the edge of the bed, phone in hand, trying to avoid getting shaky. He had to do this one more time, he had to keep on a straight face and be strong. This was going to be the most important meeting, and he couldn’t screw it up no matter what. This was the only plan they could figure working at this moment.

He hears a knock on the door – his breath hitching in his throat as he glances down at the floor. Every part of him wanted to run right now, but he had to do this for her. He slowly makes his way over to the door, opening it.

“You are dressed appropriately this time,” Alison comments with a grin on her face as she enters the room, watching the door close behind her. “I’m impressed…”

“That was my intension,” Chase replies as he sits back on the edge of the bed. “That was why I reached out to you.” Alison crosses her arms watching him closely.

“I was really impressed to hear that you wanted to see me….” Chase fakes a smile, as he resists every urge to break down in that moment.

“Let’s face it – this is about me and you, and nobody else. This has always been about how far you can push me, how crazy you drive me, and clearly based on your feelings for me.” He then reluctantly reaches out for her hand, clasping it. “I’m done letting my friends get hurt. If you let Sarina go, I am willing to do whatever you want – whether go with you, sleep with you – I don’t care. I just want her to be okay, please…”

“Are you absolutely certain without a shadow of a doubt?” Chase knew the key plan – get the phone away from her and then call in the backup. However, that wasn’t possible right now and they didn’t want to capture her without knowing the location of where they were supposed to be going. So it was down to the second ridiculous plan that he wished he never had to believe in.

“Please, I’m begging you at this point…” Alison smirks back in return as she walks towards the door.

“Get dressed, and come downstairs. Walk over to the 2015 Camaro and get in without a single word. We’ll see how this goes…” Chase slowly nods his head as he takes a shaky deep breath, watching her walk out of the room.

He reaches onto the dresser, slipping on the t-shirt, followed by the jeans. Taking a glance in the mirror, trying to compose every bit of himself, he grabs his sweater and slips that on over the t-shirt.

“You’re going to be okay,” Alan comments as he comes out of the bathroom, placing a hand on Chase’s shoulder. “They’re going to follow…” Chase nods his head as he takes the black box off of dresser, placing it in his jean pocket. “It’s going to be okay, I promise…”

“I know…” Chase replies as he makes his way out of the hotel room, down to the lobby and outside. It didn’t take him long to find the Camaro and he followed the directions to a key, climbing in the car and sitting in the passenger seat. It was easy to see how she got around given the tinted windows.

“You’re such a good boy,” Alison says as she reaches over, covering his eyes with a black eye cover. “Don’t fight me or the deal is off…” Chase was glad that she couldn’t see his eyes to see the pain, the tears, the fear, as he tried to keep his breathing composed, knowing the plan and what was involved.

“Just do what I asked, please…” Alison chuckles as she grabs his wrists, tieing them both together tightly. “Easy..” She just laughed harder as she turned the key on the ignition, heading out of the parking lot.

The drive may have only been a half hour, but it felt like forever for Chase. He had no ability to have an clue as to where they were going, along with no ability to move or relax.

Once they arrived, he easily got out of the car, allowing Sarina to lead him to where they were supposed to be going.

“Chase!!” Sarina’s voice rang through the room as she watched him being voluntarily led in by Alison, her eyes locking to the pink diamond on his pinky.

“It’s time for some fun,” Alison comments as a smirk forms on her face.

“Please let Sarina go….” Chase says quietly as Alison laughs in response.

“I thought about that, but this will be more fun. Now, you’re going to listen and goodbye goes your girlfriend.” Chase felt every tinge of fear, worry, and nerves, but knew he just had to play along for a short amount of time. He feels the tie around his wrists loosen, stretching out a little. “What did I say?”

“Sorry….” He wished he could see that Sarina was okay for himself, but clearly that wasn’t going to be an option.

“Strip down…” He felt his breath clutch once again in hearing those familiar words, as he reaches underneath his sweater, slowly taking it off. He just needed to buy himself some time. “Faster or else….”  He then undoes the buckle on his jeans, feeling them drop to the floor immediately, taking a deep breath. He wondered if the black box was defective and where the cops were. He also wondered what Alison had in mind. What else could happen now? He then reaches underneath of shirt, pulling it off.

“Chase…” Sarina lets out, knowing where this was going immediately having heard Alison reminisce of the fun times that she had with him.

“I hope you enjoy the present I left for him, as well as what you’re going to receive,” Alison says as she brings her body against his, pinning him up against the closest wall. “Let’s give her a show…” Chase feels the hot tears returning as Alison’s lips meet his once again, pushing every bit of her against him. She then reaches her hand down his boxers, stroking him slowly… “You’re so hard, baby.”

“Alison Reynolds!” The shout catches everyone off-guard as Alison immediately spins around. She then takes the rolling chair that she had Sarina tied on, pushing it across the floor as the gun goes off from the officer.

“Oh fuck!” Sarina lets out immediately, glancing towards her shoulder, seeing the blood seeping down her arm as one of the paramedics rush over.

“What is going on?” Chase says, still frozen in the same spot. He feels hands wrap around, untying the mask immediately. “What happened?!?”

“Alison escaped out the back room after putting Sarina in the fir-” Alan starts, keeping his arms wrapped around Chase.

“Sarina!!” Alan grips him even harder, not letting him get any closer. “Alan, let me go, please. I need to help her. She nee-”

“Medical services are already taking care of her. She’s going to be okay.” Chase keeps fighting against Alan as Alan maintains his grip. “Chase, calm down. We need to let them look at yo-”

“I’m fine! Let me see her, please!!” His breathing quickens as panic begins to set in against Alan’s hold, as Alan keeps every grip possible, resisting the urge to break into his own panic.

“Chase, take a deep breath, please. Calm down. The worst is over….”

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

“22-year-old male, sedated due to panic attack setting in at the scene,” the paramedic states as they enter the hospital. “No other known injuries or concerns, except sexual assault being discussed by officers.”

“Cubicle 1,” the doctor instructs. “Get his vitals up immediately, along with restraints in place in case he wakes up. Rape kit order should be placed as well.”

“21-year-old female, gunshot wound to the shoulder. It looks to be a flesh wound, but the extent of the damage is not known. May require a blood transfusion as it took awhile to slow the bleeding. She was kidnapped and tied up for a total of four days, dehydration was present.”

“Cubicle 2. Ordering immediate x-rays on the shoulder as that should be taken care first, while beginning fluids.”

Bill stands by the desk, and just looks back in total shock as he watches Alan enter the room, visibly exhausted.

“I tried to get them to avoid giving him the sedative,” Alan states as he walks over to Bill. “I tried with everything I could, but he was totally freaking out no matter how hard I trie-”

“Stop, please,” Bill requests as Alan glances up at him. “I know that you did what you could. I know you wouldn’t make it worse, and damn it Alan, he’s going to be okay. They’re both going to be okay. But what the hell went wrong today, and why did you ever agree to this plan?”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 64: “I can’t do this…..”

Tuesday April 10, 2018 – Charlotte, North Carolina

Chase hears a knock on the door, and just lets out a sigh. He didn’t want to move, just hoping the person would go away. He already felt enough blame on his shoulders – and as much as worry consumed him, guilt was catching up. How could he face anyone?

Taking a deep breath, he makes his way to the door, slowly opening it.

“Hey,” he says quietly backing away immediately as Kyle makes his way inside the house.

Chase swallowed the lump that formed immediately in his throat in the process as he shut the door. How could he face the person who truly believed in Sarina as much as he did from the beginning? It was easy to push off for those who didn’t know her or her story well, but Kyle was a different story.

“Hey,” Kyle replies as he turns back around to face Chase. “I was headed to the shop and thought I’d stop by on the way. Have you heard anything?”

“Not a single update or clue,” Chase answers, biting his tongue in the process. He wanted to spit it out and tell Kyle about the visits, the video, Alison’s seduction, their deal – but he couldn’t. The fear of Alison doing something to Sarina overrode everything in his mind.

“How is that even humanly possible? One woman can’t simply make her way around without being recognized considering everybody is looking for her. You’d think that they’d find her by now.” Chase nodded his head in agreement as he back on the couch.

“If that was the case, Alison never would’ve gotten her hands on Sarin-”

“Marcus feels so terrible, I can’t even begin to describ-”

“I’m not upset with Marcus. I’m upset with the authorities because they can’t damn well do their job. She’s been running around for months now!” Chase takes a deep breath, knowing his own situation was running his tension higher than normal, and he wasn’t about to risk slipping – but maybe that’d be to his benefit.

“I don’t know what to say….” Kyle glances towards the kitchen, noticing a lack of plates, cups, really anything. “Please tell me you’ve been taking care of yourself….” Chase knew that wasn’t going to be a smooth answer.

“I couldn’t sleep last night. I kept waking up every hour, thinking about where she was, how she was, whether she’d be okay, and what Alison could possibly be doing to her.” He also found himself contemplating his options, even trying to come up with a plan, and wondering just how far Alison was going to take things.

“Have you eaten?” Chase glances to the table, where a half-eaten mini pizza sat. “Chase….”

“I’m trying, but I just can’t….” He takes a deep breath, once again feeling the disgust and guilt. Why could he just say the words? “I want to believe, but it is getting harder.”

“She’s going to be okay…” Chase simply nods his head accepting. They both hear the front door crack slowly, instant nerves forming, but watched them relax as Samantha entered with Brexton.

“I’m sorry, but he has to go pee,” Samantha offers as Chase simply points down the small hall.

“She took him over to the park, figuring he could play while we talked,” Kyle comments after the pair were out of earshot. “I’m worried just as much as you are – so is Sam. It’s hard at times because how do we look at Brex as if nothing is wrong?” Chase shakes his head, not even sure where to go with that since he could barely handle himself. “But you have to believe me – she will be fine and you need to take care of yourself.”

“I’ll try….” Kyle nods his head accepting as he watches Brexton come running down the hall.

“Chase!” Brexton lets out as he rushes over, jumping up on his lap. Kyle just glanced over at Samantha, who looked back with uncertainty.

“Hey buddy,” Chase says with a small smile. How could you look at him and not smile?

“Sarina?” Chase takes a deep breath, resisting all urges to let down his defenses in front of Brexton.

“She’s not here right now – she went away with a friend.” He almost puked in saying the words as Kyle watched on.

“Brexton, why don’t we go back to the park?” Samatha offers, having seen Chase’s reaction.

“I like Chase….” Brexton rambles off as Samantha glances back towards Kyle.

“It’s okay Sam,” Chase comments as he looks into Brexton’s eyes. Being with him then, she could see why Sarina never gave up an opportunity to babysit for Sam or Kyle. “Did you have fun at the park?”

“Big slide!” Chase lets his eyes go wide in surprise as Brexton smiles. He watches the little boy reach in his pocket, pulling out some cars. “Daddy car, Uncle Denny car, Uncle Kurt car, Chasey car…” Chase smiles as it surprised him that Brexton even had one. “Sarina truck.”

“Those are awesome. Now, who wins the race?” A big smile forms on Brexton’s face as he pulls out another one.

“McQueen!” Chase chuckles as he had to admire the effort, and knew where they came from given Kyle’s toys for Brexton at home.

“He is pretty cool, huh? Now, does Sarina beat daddy and me?” Brexton nods his head. “Of course…”

“I love Sarina. She my girl…” It was now time for another surprised face, even if Chase felt a bit of heartbreak in hearing it.

“I love her, too. She’s amazing, Brex.” He feels a couple tears forming in his eyes as he glances down at the cars in Brexton’s hand.

“Alright Brexton, it’s time to go….” Samantha starts again, having seen the emotions.

“I come again?” Brexton asks and Samantha nods her head. “Yay! Bye Chase!”

“Bye Brexton,” Chase says as he slowly puts him down, watching him run back off with Samantha.

“Are you okay?” Kyle asks and Chase nods his head. “Remember what I said.”

“I will,” Chase answers. “And Kyle, thanks for bringing him by. He can make any girl smile.” Kyle smiles as he watches Samantha walk out the door with Brexton.

“That’s what scares me for when he goes to school.” Chase laughs as he watches them all leave together. he then goes to get up, feeling something by his side. He reaches down the cushion, picking up the toy truck. Letting out a sigh, it must’ve fallen out of Brexton’s pocket as he was leaving.

“Don’t worry Brex – you’ll get to play with her again.” He then takes a deep breath, walking over to the TV stand and placing the truck on one of the shelves, before texting Kyle that he had it.

The incident was almost set to be the motivation to do something about Alison, and he almost had a thought stuck in mind for what to do when she showed up at her usual time. However, hearing the back door open again, it was like nerves tied all doors shut for him.

“We meet again,” she offers as she walks into the living room.

“If this is about me, then why keep Sarina locked away?” Chase questions as he looks up at Alison, not moving a single inch from the couch. He wasn’t about to startle her knowing what one little button could do.

“Because it keeps you on your toes, and it helps make those decisions so much easier.” Chase knew that because it was the perfect leverage.

“Why not just kidnap me instead?” Alison laughs as she bends over, locking eyes with him.

“Because this is more fun. I told you that I like a game, and I always win.” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that wasn’t a lie as she had played him perfectly so far. When was that going to end?

“How long is this going to go on for?” He watches Alison just shrug her shoulders.

“Until I get bored. What? Is Chase wanting to end the game early? There’s only one way to do tha-” He could see the hand reaching for the pocket, and knew better.

“No, I’m willing to play.” She smiles widely as she takes out the phone, placing it on the table, bringing up the same video footage as before. “You haven’t touched her….”

“This isn’t about her, remember?” Chase nods his head as his eyes remain focused on the screen, not wanting to lose sight of Sarina. If he was only going to get these seconds, he wanted to savor every single minute. “It’s time to up the stakes.”

“What do you mean?” Every bit of fear and nerve tingled through his whole body as she reached down, running her hands up underneath his shirt, taking it off. He felt those nerves twitch even more as she reached down, pulling the zipper of his jeans down. “What are you doing?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He felt sick. He felt terrified. He felt scared. He felt anger. How could he let her do that to him? How could his body react in that fashion? How could he let himself be controlled and manipulated so easily? How could he let Alison continue to have this hold over him? Worst of all, how could let Sarina continue to spend time with this psycho witch?

Feeling hot tears run down his cheeks, and his stomach flip upside down, he rushes down the hall, barely making it to the bathroom in time before what little he had ate was back up stream.

“I can’t do this….” He says to himself as he sits back against the bathroom wall afterwards. “I can’t…..”

Wednesday April 11, 2018 – Nashville, Tennessee

After landing the plane, Chase followed Alan and Jordan across the short parking lot, as the group get in the rental car that Alan had already arranged.

Earlier that morning, they received a phone call from investigators requesting Chase to come to Nashville to discuss Sarina’s situation in person where it happened. To him, it seemed like a waste of time as he was betting Sarina was in Charlotte given Alison’s frequent visits. Furthermore, he didn’t want to screw up those visits.

Knowing he couldn’t make the trip alone, Alan immediately offered to go – having been at Chase’s house at the time of the phone call. Furthermore, it seemed the crew chief had some more time on his hands right now.

“Do me a favor – do not try and attempt stupid shit anymore,” Chase had told Alan when he heard about the suspension. He had heard the reasons, and immediately put the pieces together – they tried a similar situation to Kevin’s and obviously it failed. He didn’t know whether to be shocked of having two penalties on a year, or the fact that they tried something another team was caught with.

Regardless, the happenings there didn’t change the friendship values because no matter what, he and Alan would always have each other’s back given the events that transpired, friendship, and the fact that he did believe in what they had. Alan was only doing his job trying to win, right?

It didn’t take them long to reach the police station, or be escorted to the conference room. As expected, there were no updates.

“We just want to go over some things further,” the investigator states as Alan crosses his arms.

“He’s sick with worry and you’re wanting to push him more?” Alan questions as the investigator glances over Alan’s direction.

“I can understand your frustration with the department, and I sympathize. Hence why we’re trying to do whatever is possible. Please let us do our job…” Alan rolls his eyes before focusing back in Chase’s direction. “Alison’s path of record is interesting. What type of place could you see her focusing a kidnapping on given tha-”

“You have police report upon police report upon police report – along with a psychological evaluation. Couldn’t you just use that?” Chase hears his phone go off, reading the text message immediately. He wished they could trace the location of a text message right now, but also was glad they couldn’t read it as he typed back a response.

“Mr. Gustafson, could you please allow me to do my job?” Chase swallows the lump in his throat as he sets his phone on the table. “Is there a problem, Mr. Elliott?”

“No, the text message is nothing to be concerned of,” Chase comments, knowing he could lie through his teeth if necessary but almost wished he wasn’t doing that right now. “To answer your question, there’s no pattern to location or matter with her. It’s always a mix of stuff. The initial kidnapping was a set of abandoned offices at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but she also did an abandoned warehouse in Atlanta.”

“And she hasn’t been in contact with any other incidents in this state, correct?” The investigator asks and Chase shakes his head no. “Okay…”

“Anything else or can you stop wasting both of our time?” Alan questions. “I mean, you should be out looking for her-”

“We have people on the jo-”

“If we put both of you, that’s two more. Maybe you’d actually accomplish something here!” Chase feels his stomach flip flop as pictures from last night fill his mind again.

“I’m sorry….” He immediately leaves the room, finding the first bathroom as he does, letting everything out right away.

“Chase?” Jordan asks as he follows, stopping in the doorway. “Hey, are you okay?” Chase sits down on the floor, as he takes a deep breath. “Chase….”

“I haven’t been sleeping, I haven’t been eating as I can’t eat – I’m just a mess.” He glances up at Jordan, knowing there was something very important he was leaving out but how could he say those words? “I just want her to be okay….”

“She’s going to be…” Jordan makes his way in, sitting down on the floor with Chase. “She’s going to be okay, Chase. They’re going to find her and she’s going to be okay – just like I told you Saturday night. Do you remember what I said?” Chase nods his head. “Believe me….”

“The other day I was thinking about what you said, and how strong she is, and how she‘s so amazing. You told me to think of the good times and remember that to get through this.” He glances towards his phone, making sure the messages were closed, as he loads an audio file. “I laughed at her when she saved that clip of me singing to her while we were away in Amsterdam, but yet the only thing that seems to be saving me right now is this clip I saved of her…” Jordan looks over a little confused, but also relieved. In having this conversation, he could see Chase calming down immediately.

“What is it?” Chase smiles as he presses the play button.

“When I was in Las Vegas for pageant week, she left me a voice mail so I could hear her voice, think about her, feel connected even separated. She told me how much she loved me, how she wanted to be with me, and then sang me a song – one call away. I wish I could just get that one call now that she’s okay.” Jordan smiles a little as he listens to the clip.

“You guys are more adorable than I have words for….” Chase chuckles as he closes his eyes.

“You know what the odd thing is? Pageant week is when Alison entered our lives for the first time….” His voice trails off as  he glances back down at the phone. “Even the sweetest most romantic moments can’t be our own anymore because she…..she….” Chase feels the emotions building again, wanting to spit out the words but unable to. Instead, the phone goes flying across the bathroom, shattering against the wall.

“Chase, it’s going to be okay…” Jordan wraps an arm around him, holding him as the tears begin sliding down Chase’s cheeks.

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

It took a good bit to get him calmed down, but Jordan eventually got the tears to stop and they were able to leave without incident. They even managed to stop at the mall for a new phone. Checking into a hotel for the night, Jordan was pleased once he saw Chase get a good bite to eat, followed by a hot shower.

“Get some sleep tonight,” Jordan offers. “We’ll be in the adjoining room next door if you need us.”  Chase just nods his head in return.

It was only a couple hours later, but he had slipped the door open, having received the text message that she was there.

“You kept your end of the deal – I’m impressed,” she states as she walks in the hotel room. “This will work even better….”

“Do I get a reward?” Chase questions as he keeps his eyes locked on her, almost wishing Alan and Jordan would hear them.

“In sweet dear time…” Alison then spins around. “You’re wearing too many clothes. What did I tell you about how you should appear for me?” Chase swallows the lump in his throat, trying to shoo away the butterflies as he follows orders in stripping down to his boxers. “For that, your chance a prize for me being impressed is revoked.”

“Can we just get this over with, please?” She smirks as she turns to face him.

“On the bed, spread eagle….” He simply follows the orders as she places the phone just out of reach from his fingers, allowing the live video feed to play once again, as she strips out of her clothes. “I should almost just do what I really want tonight to make you suffer for that comment. Actually, I could simply just send the messa-”

“No, please. Leave Sarina alone. Take me. Do whatever you want. Just please leave her alone.” Alison smirks even wider as she climbs on the bed, laying on top of him.

“I could easily take these off….” She runs her finger tips along the waistline of his boxers. “But we’ll save that for another night…” Just like the previous night, she begins off the same way, her breathing picking up as she did so, matched by his doing the same with a tinge of fear and pain mixed in. But yet, she was getting her satisfaction in feeling him harden against her even through the fabric.

“The….ring….” He grabs her hand, bringing it to closer view of his eyes, seeing the familiar pink diamond. “You took Sarina’s ring…” Alison smirks as she looks into his eyes.

“She doesn’t need tha-”

“Take it off!” Now he really wished that Jordan and Alan heard them. “Take it off!”

“Shut up and kiss me like you mean it, and maybe you’ll get your wish….” He takes a deep breath, accepting the kiss that she had to offer, as well as the continued body movements. “Good boy….”

“Please….” She then moves her lips down his collarbone, sucking as hard as she can as a moan escapes her lips once again.

“I know you want me….” She then sits up, slowly rolling off of him. “But that’ll have to wait.” She then takes the ring off, throwing it on the bed. “Goodbye….”

He watches her leave the room, hoping someone, anybody would recognize her, as he laid there frozen. He felt the same feeling returning – sickness, pain, heartbreak, anger – and all he could do was wish that he found the strength to do something about it because he knew there was no way he’d last another night with her.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 63: O’Reilly Auto Parts 500

Sunday, April 8 – Texas Motor Speedway

Chase wakes up, grabbing his phone immediately as he checks for any text messages or phone calls. Seeing nothing, he lets out a long sigh as he puts it back on the small night table. He wanted to believe that last night was a nightmare, but the text that did remain on the phone told him otherwise.

Taking a deep breath, he slowly gets out of the bed, making his way into the small kitchen of the motorcoach. He was actually taken by surprise when he smelt breakfast, giving him another bleep of hope that it was a nightmare, but seeing just Jordan at the table said otherwise.

“Hey,” Jordan says quietly, unsure of really what to say in response. “I heard you wake up, so I made you breakfast.” Chase simply sits down quietly.

“Thanks,” he replies as he picks up the fork.

“Was there any updates?” He shakes his head no as he tries to eat a piece of the egg. “Damn. Listen, you’ll get something soon, I’m sure. They’re going to find her. You have to belie-”

“Alison is the master of the hide and seek as she’s played that game with me all season, Jordan. It really gives me so much hope that they’re going to find her.” Jordan understood the response, but wanted to believe otherwise.

“I get it, I really do. But you can’t ever stop believing in Sari-”

“Don’t you dare go questioning that, Jordan…” Jordan lets out a sigh.

“Look, I don’t know what to say to make you feel better. I just know that things are going to work out somehow.” Chase glances up, simply nodding his head in return.

“And I didn’t mean to cut your head off, either – today or last night.” Jordan knew that as it wasn’t like Chase, but he understood with the current circumstances. That’s why he just let the attitude continue to slide off his shoulders.

“From what I’ve heard, Alan says that your parents are going come by and stay with you – or even let you head out to Nashvi-”

“Why would I leave the state when I have a race today?” Jordan’s jaw almost dropped immediately in hearing those words. He was all set to get the car ready for Elliott Sadler to drive. “Oh, that’s right. Everybody is concerned about me so arrangements have been put in place for either Elliott or Justin.”

“Chase, your mind is elsewhere right now as we know you’re worried sick over Sarina. We both know that you were up late last night. We both know that you’re not thinking the clearest because you want to make sure that she is okay. It was just an executive decision made by Alan, Rick, and Jeff because of what happe-”

“I understand, and trust me – I appreciate everybody being so caring. But, I am racing today.” Jordan just shakes his head in return as he texts Alan. “I’ll be fine, and I can handle i-”

“Are you even listening to yourself right now?” Chase nods his head as he sets his fork down.

“Jordan, I know myself better than anybody else, right? I also know what Sarina would say to me right now. Whether it’s this way or if the roles were reversed, we’re both racers at heart. We would want the other to go out there and try our hardest to win that race for the other. She was in the hospital, and all she pushed was for me to go race. I did the same to her. I will be fine today because I am going to do everything in my power to win for her.” Jordan could understand where Chase was coming from, and believed in his best friend. He just wasn’t sure if that was going to be an understanding across the board.

“I texted Alan and told him what you said. He told me to send back to you that you don’t have to feel pressu-”

“I’m not feeling any pressu-”

“I already told him, Chase.” Jordan takes a deep breath as he reads the next message. “Alan says if you’re insisting, then we’ll go with it. But the minute that there’s something off, we’re switching drivers. Morgan has also cancelled morning appearances.” Chase nods his head as he picks his fork back up. “You know, you can tell me what’s on your min-”

“I told you last night, didn’t I? I just want her to be okay.” Jordan nods his head accepting.

“Let me know when you’re ready and we’ll head out…”

Jordan sat back quietly allowing Chase to go through whatever morning ritual or whatever he wanted. It wasn’t long before they were ready to go, though, meeting up with the rest of the team who expressed their support and concern. With that out of the way, Alan made the call in the meeting for everyone to simply focus on their jobs for the rest of the day – while noting he’d watch Chase’s phone for updates during the race.

The pair then went to the driver’s meeting together, receiving the same comments of support and concern from fellow competitors. There were even a couple who wondered why Chase was even there, but understood once they heard the explanation.

Chase then retreated back to the hauler, changing into the fire suit, before giving his phone another glance for a possible update. With a simple nod, the trip was made out to pit road and once again – all eyes laid on his shoulders. There were some fans and other team’s pit crew members who felt the worry they knew he had, while others wanted to lend a hand of support. And just like his competitors, some even had doubts in the back of their mind.

For Chase, it didn’t matter what everybody was thinking around him. taking a deep breath, he was there to do a job and for the next four hours, he could forget about the worry – and hope that once the race was over, maybe they’d have the answer he wanted.

Starting 20th on the grid, the race started out strong for Chase as he was able to put himself in the top-10 before the end of the first stage. It seemed the plan to do something special for Sarina was going along fine. A ninth in the first stage, followed by a sixth in the second, and it was easy to see why the team was happy.

Of course, their happiness was subsided a little when about 20 laps into the final stage, Chase reported a vibration. Citing the better safe than sorry route, he headed down pit road, giving up fourth-place, for four tires and fuel under green. Chase’s concerns were also valid as Alan confirmed a loose wheel with the pit crew.

“Come on guys – let’s stay on task here,” he reminds them. “Remember we’re trying to make something special happen today for someone….” The crew just gave the crew chief a nod, not needing another word as Alan made his way back on top of the pit box.

Thankfully, there were no wrecks or incidents during the entire pit cycle, allowing everybody else to pit that was on the lead lap and cycle Chase back to the front. Nothing like a double lucky whammy in watching the caution fly shortly after, allowing them to pit under yellow and remain on the lead lap.

“Get a drink here,” Eddie says, as per his usual duties and like any other caution. However, it was extra requested here in wanting to make sure driver took care of himself with everything going on. Alan also had the extra duty in keeping tabs on the radio for any signs that a switch was needed.

“Hydrated here,” Chase reports back. “How about you?” Eddie had to roll his eyes as normally he didn’t get asked back in response. Besides, it wasn’t a good reminder of the his current situation either.

“I have to pee….” The entire team chuckled on pit road in hearing the news, wondering if they had binoculars they could see Eddie doing the potty dance.

“I do too, actually. it’s cold here…” Eddie could’ve smacked him almost in that moment as if it was cold in the car, that meant freezing on the roof top – and that was exactly the case.

Back under green, Chase was able to work his way back up to fourth as the leaders began to make their way down pit road. With debate whether to go the full fuel run hoping for a caution but losing time to those who pitted, or to come down early, Alan elected for the lather of the pair.

Once they were back on- track, Chase had fallen a lap down and back in 14th. However, if it continued to cycle out, they’d be back in the top-10 about where they felt they were car-wise in eighth position approximately.

Then it happened. A blown tire for Ryan Newman brought out the caution, trapping him a lap down, as four other cars hadn’t pitted yet along with Newman.

“Four tires and fuel,” Alan made the call on the radio as Chase came down pit road with the leaders. Another glance at the leaderboard and Alan wanted to smack himself silly. He hadn’t realized that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was still up there and lead lap, meaning they were a lap down. On top of not being able to take wavearound now, they would be stuck starting tail end of longest line for pitting too soon. “We’re fucked. That’s my bad. I didn’t even realize. It’s on me…” Alan just shook his head as he glanced back down at his own notes.

“Dude, are you okay?” Kevin Hulstein asks as he takes off the headset so only the pair could hear each other.

“I’m fine – I just made an honest mistake,” Alan tells him as Kevin nods his head.

“Kevin and I can take over if you want,” Tom suggests as Alan looks over confused. “You don’t need to explain it to us. We know Chase may be off his game because of what’s going on, but we also understand if you are as well. We can handle the rest if you wa-”

“I’m fine, and this had nothing to do with Sarina being missing. I literally made an error in not letting it register in my mind that Ricky was leader when I checked the monitor as everybody pitted. I fucked up as I said – and for no other reason that you’re trying to convey.”

“Okay – we’re just looking out for you.” Alan simply nods his head back in return as he focuses back on the on-track action.

Following the restart, Chase was able to work his way up from the 14th spot to 11th in the lucky dog position with 20 laps to go. Unfortunately, no more cautions resulted in being trapped there, handing them an 11th-place finish.

Alan immediately apologized following the race to Chase, stating that he had screwed up on both occasions with strategy and the final pit sequence.

“We all make mistake,” Chase tells him. “We’re getting stronger as a team, and we’re finding the speed we’ve been lacking. It’ll come together, don’t worry.” He then accepts his phone from the crew chief, checking once again for a message. “No updates?”

“Not a single thing,” Alan replies as Chase shakes his head. “I know your worry is growing because it’s a whole day, but I will keep saying it just as Jordan has – she will be okay.” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“I know. I just wish I knew something, anything. But I guess right now, no news is good news.” Alan simply accepted that as he wrapped an arm around Chase’s shoulders as they head to the garage area together.

Chase walks in the front door of the house, closing it and leaning back against it immediately.

After being surrounded by the entire team all weekend, he had asked them to give him space that night and just leave him be. His emotions were going 200 miles per hour, and he just wanted some kind to catch his breath – alone. Really, in his mind, he would prefer that Alison try something with him alone because it’d lead him to Sarina and right now, he’d do anything.

His eyes caught the phone once again, waiting, begging for any sort of message to come through. But he wasn’t that lucky or spoiled, as it remained just like before – silent.

Taking a deep breath, it almost made him sick to his stomach standing there in their house with her missing somewhere stuck with someone like Alison. How was that even humanly fair?

“I wondering when you’d get home,” he hears a female voice, taking him out of his thoughts. His hope meter pegged, wanting it to be Sarina so badly as he followed the source of the voice to the front room. However, instead, he saw the horror of sights.

“How did you get in?” He immediately questions, only to hear a laugh back in response.

“I can find my way anywhere I want – remember?” He takes a deep breath, not wanting to let her words mess with his thoughts. There was only one goal now.

“Where’s Sarina?” That was meant with another laugh.

“I’m not telling you.” He wasn’t surprised by the answer.

“Look, this is between you and I; it has always been between us from day one. Let her go, and let’s settle this between us. I don’t care what happens to me – I just want her to be okay, please.” Alison licks her lips as she keeps her eyes locked on the young man.

“I can’t just obey your orders, but you’re going to obey mine.” Chase makes his way further into the room, feeling as though there’s nothing to lose. If she gets caught right now in his house, then at least she’s away from Sarina and it’s a matter of just finding her.

“Really? Because all I want to know is one thing – where’s Sarina?” Alison shakes her head no. “You’re going to tell m-”

“Actually, I’m not, because I have something in mind for you.” She then stands up, standing face-to-face with him as she pulls a phone out of her pocket. “There’s a video feed I can show you on here that show your little pretty little girl, as well as a friend of mine. All I have to do is press send on my phone, and he will do what I request – finish her. However, we can make a deal.” As Chase had said, he would do anything for Sarina – and he meant those words. There was no way that he was going to watch Sarina get hurt further because of Alison.

“I’m listening….” Alison smiles as it was the reaction she expected.

“You’re going to do as I request right here and now and I won’t hurt her. You’re going to let me leave without holding me back, and I won’t hur-”

“How can I trust you?” It was a question worth asking based on history.

“Because I’ll be back tomorrow. I want something from you each day in return for her safe keeping. Consider it payment for my hospitality.” Chase felt disgusted immediately, but knew there was no other choice.

“What do you want?” A smirk forms on her face as she pushes him back on to the couch.

“I think you know what I want…” He felt disgusted immediately, and wanted to scream with all his might, but bit his tongue instead in knowing the stakes.

“Fine….” She places the phone beside him, pressing a button as the video feed comes into view. “Sarina….”

“She can’t hear you, babes….” She immediately straddles herself on him, pushing her lips against his, deepening the kiss as much as she could while reaching underneath his shirt. She rubs his chest a little, before pulling her hand out, and backing away. “I need to go before I am caught. Remember the deal. I’ll see your sweet ass later.”

“Just promise me you won’t hur-”

“You have your answer already.” Alison then picks up the phone, heading back out through the back door where she had broken in.

Closing his eyes, running his hands through his hair, feeling the hot tears roll down his cheeks, all he could do was wish it was over as soon as possible. For the rest of the night, it was like he couldn’t get the disgusted taste of Alison off his lips, continuing to feel it despite washing his lips off as many times as he could.

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

Monday, April 9 – Charlotte, North Carolina

“Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” Alan asks as he stands by the doorway of the house.

The pair had spent the entire day together as Alan had picked him up in the morning, not wanting to see him driving right now with the worry meter pegged. They had gone over to Hendrick Motorsports for a series of meetings, before spending some time talking about his worry in the office. They even accepted visit from the officers who, like always, had no further leads or updates for them. However, the questions they had were answered for whatever it was worth.

They made a quick stop over at Kyle Busch Motorsports, wanting to double check how everybody was doing there. Kyle wasn’t lying when he said Marcus was upset beyond anything, but Chase assured him that the crew chief did what he could, and Sarina would be okay.

Now back at the house, it was dinner and another round of discussion, followed by Chase assuring Alan it was okay to head home for the night as he would be okay.

“I promise,” Chase assures him as he looks over from the couch. “I’ll call you or text you later if it makes you feel better.” Alan nods his head, accepting.

“Stay strong, kid,” Alan says, before heading out the door, still not sure about the whole leaving him alone aspect.

Chase spent the next two hours sitting on the couch, contemplating his nerves. He so badly wanted to say something to someone, anyone about Alison’s visits but couldn’t bring himself to say the words. What it if meant further harm for Sarina? He couldn’t risk that. So instead, he kept it to himself, and waited for her to come.

Just like before, she came through the back door and just like before, she loaded the video so Chase could see that Sarina, indeed, hadn’t been harmed any further.

“A deal is a deal,” Alison says as she once again assumes the same position, pressing her lips once again against his, as he debated grabbing her and returning the favor. However, seeing Sarina on the screen, he held back every bit of resistance, as Sarina pushed her body further against his. Satisfied after a good 20 minutes, she gets up and leaves without a trace.

“You can’t keep doing this,” he tells himself as he remains stunned on the couch, tears once again rolling down his face, part of him ready to reach for the phone and almost doing so. However, a deep breath and another attempt to wipe the taste away, and he stayed frozen.

Nobody could know – not yet anyway. He had to put a plan in mind first.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 62: North/South SLM Challenge

Saturday April 7, 2018 – Texas Motor Speedway

Even with knowing the crew guys were close, and a solid conversation with Sarina, Chase could admit that his nerves were admittedly fried right now. He wanted to forget the note that he had read the night before, but it was the only thing that kept filling every thought in his mind.

“So I was thinking we’d start off where we finished last session, and go from there,” Alan states, though his comments go right over Chase’s shoulders without a single reaction. “Earth to Clyde!” Chase glances over immediately, actually surprised.

“You never call me that…” Chase comments and Alan nods his head.

“You were totally spaced out; I had to do something.” Chase runs his fingers through his hair with a sigh. “Do you want to talk about it?” Chase shakes his head no. “Hey, it’s okay to admit that you’re worried, or whatev-”

“Can we just focus on practice, please?” Alan could only cross his arms.

“I was trying to do that, but my comment just flew right over that head of yours. It seemed you were the one that was spaced out, not me. But, I don’t blame you.” Alan reaches out, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Like I told you yesterday, we’ve got your back – the entire team. We’re going to do whatever it takes for you this weekend. She’s not going to get near you. I also shared our concerns surrounding someone being involv-”

“Really?” Alan nods his head slowly. “You did that without even asking me?”

“Your safety is all that matters at the end of the day, and that’s part of taking care of you. I had to do what I had to do, Chase. But I will let you know that the sentiments have been felt by NASCAR’s head brass, and Brent said that he would do his part to look into the officials and such to make sure nothing is off. He also added that he will make sure to coordinate in every way possible with the officers.” That response didn’t surprise Chase one bit, almost sounding too textbook in how NASCAR’s President Brent Dewar had worded his comment. However, what else were they supposed to do?

“I want to be mad at you for saying somethi-”

“I was looking out for yo-”

“But you did it behind my back, Alan, and part of me wanted to strangle you. However, you’re right – given the situation, I can’t be upset.” Alan smiles a little.

“I’m doing what I can, and you know at anytime you can cut me off and we can talk about it rather than the racecar.” Chase nods his head, having heard that too many times. But what could he say that hadn’t been said yet?

“Now, what were you saying about practice today?” Alan glances back towards the notes, bringing up the plan for the first session.

“I’m going to start with something close to what we ended off yesterday with, and we’ll go from there. Being that it’s like 35 today and will be 50 on Sunday, I want to just work on getting it comfortable and being able to make adjustments.” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“You’re the man that gets paid the big bucks, right? I’m just supposed to get in and turn left.” Alan rolls his eyes as he watches Chase head to the car in the garage and get ready.

“Oh – did you mean it when you said that Sarina was 24th in practice?” Chase glances over, nodding his head. “Holy shit. I thought she said working with Marcus was supposed to bring good results.”

“That’s what she told me. But they didn’t get the full session in – cut real short actually – so they didn’t have time to work their proper magic. Don’t worry, she’ll be fine today.”

“I hope…”

The pair of practices both went smoothly, but perhaps not the way that Chase would’ve absolutely hoped for. He was 20th in the first session, followed by placing 18th in the second. The only hope that he had going into Sunday was that they were getting better in speed and handling, so at least Alan was heading in the right direction. If they continued down that path, then maybe they could turn Sunday into something decent.

Rather than taking in the XFINITY Series race as originally planned, Chase hung out in the lounge of the trailer watching the late model qualifying coverage to see how Sarina made out. Seeing that she had ended up 13th, it was certainly better than how practice had gone for her as well.

Chase hears a knock on the lounge door, actually surprised as nobody the crew guys would just burst their way in. He watches as it opens slowly, seeing John standing there.

“Jordan and Alan are hoping you can make your way out here for a second,” John Gianninto says, causing Chase to be a little confused. “They said it was important.” Chase knew if the boys were saying that, it meant business. He could only wonder what they had to offer.

Chase follows the crew member back through the trailer to the front where the pair stood, along with an officer. Chase could only look concerned as he glanced between them.

“Do I want to know?” He questions and Jordan gives a questioning glance to Alan.

“Actually, you may want to know,” Alan answers, as Chase simply crosses his arms. “Remember how we spoke about someone important being responsible for Alison’s weekly entrances?” Chase nods his head.

“A fan came forward with a photo that we believe you should see,” the officer states, handing the photo to Chase. He simply takes the images, glancing it over before shaking his head. “I don’t think any words are necessary.”

“You were right after all,” was all Chase could manage as he handed it back to the officer. The image certainly showcased what they knew as you recognized Alison standing beside one of the NASCAR officials.

“The fan stated that they were going through images shot from the day, and noticed something that looked interesting, taking a closer glance. He said that if he would’ve known it was her right away, he would’ve said something but he didn’t realize.” Chase could only chuckle in response.

“Hidden in plain sight like she was does, right?”

“One of my fellow officers has already gone to NASCAR with the image to see if we can match it with an official’s description. Given that we can only see part of them, there’s no clues to identity so we will have to see if it can be matched. We will also be questioning all the officials, as well.” Chase just rolled his eyes.

“Talk to us…” Alan says, noticing the glances right away.

“Our suspicion is confirmed, but what can we do from here?” He questions. “There’s nothing we can do if we don’t know who and what they’re doing. So she’s just going to keep getting away with it. Needless to say, I’m not reassured yet.” Alan glances back over towards the officer.

“Clearly you can see that so far, you guys have done nothing to comfort him or assure him and make him feel safe. Clearly, it seems like you’ve failed to do your job because she’s been running around since January terrorizing everybody. Every race for the past couple of weeks – Martinsville and California – he has seen her in the flesh. He also saw her at an appearance that he made one weekend, too. When are you going to step up and do your job?”

“We are doing the best that we can given the circumst-” the officer starts as Alan shakes his head.

“I don’t want to hear any more excuses. We’re done. I was done the minute that bitch took a pop shot at me because I was trying to be a friend to him. I mean, if I was you, I would have security on him at all times knowing what it is possible. I would make sure that someone is always watching knowing what she’s planning to do. But hey, what do I know? I’m just a crew chief.” Alan walks away heading for the lounge as Chase glances back in that direction.

“If you want security, I can arrange for that to happen.” Chase then looks back towards the officer.

“So it takes someone suggesting it to you for you to do that? I think you know my answer…” He then turns to follow in Alan’s direction as Jordan is left standing there stunned. Chase slowly enters the lounge, finding the crew chief relaxing back on the couch. “Hey…”

“Hey,” Alan says as he takes a sip from a bottle of water, watching Chase enter and close the door.

“I want to apologize,” Chase starts as he leans back against the door. “I’m so sorry for bringing you into the midd-”

“It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t ask for this, right?” Chase nods his head as he glances towards the ground.

“I still feel like shit. You shouldn’t have to deal with this and while you want to sit here and tell me that it’ll be fine and whatever, I can tell that it’s getting under your skin.” Alan couldn’t deny that as he pulled out his laptop.

“I just want to know that you, and every single one of my guys is safe and doesn’t have to worry about someone being right over their shoulder constantly. I thought we could trust everybody in this garage and it turns out, we can’t. My frustration isn’t with you. It is with someone being able to do within NASCAR’s staff. It is with the officers for taking their damn sweet time to find her.” Alan lets out a sigh. “I’m sorry I blew up there…”

“Don’t be.” Chase comes over and takes a seat beside the crew chief. “We all have our moments. As long as we stick together, we’ll get through this and come out stronger in the end – in victory lane for that matter.” Alan smiles, nodding his head in agreement. “So, what’s the hot ticket set-up for tomorrow?”

“I was just about to start working on that because I’m not sure yet…” Chase glances over concerned as Alan looks up. “Don’t’ worry – I won’t let you down. I’ll give you something to work with.”

“I wouldn’t expect otherwise. Care to watch a Late Model race while you work?” Alan focuses back on his laptop.

“Be my guest. I want to see if she can kick some ass.”

After grabbing them both a snack, the pair settled in – Chase focused on the TV in the lounge while Alan worked away at his notes.

Here and there in the midst of watching the event, Alan would throw a quick question Chase’s way about how the car drove through the practice sessions. But for the most part, he allowed his driver to focus on the late model race. There were even times that Alan stopped working and glanced up himself, intrigued by the action.

“That track looks like a lot of fun,” Alan commented midway through speaking of the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

“It is,” Chase replied as he glanced over at the track. “I would put it up there with the top short tracks that I’ve ran.”

“Didn’t you get a guitar from there?” Chase nods his head, remembering that late model win.

Despite starting 13th, Sarina was able to make a decent run of it for the 100 laps. Focused on conserving tires most of the race and avoiding trouble, she cracked the top-10 with 35 laps to go, before working her way up to fourth by the end.

Chase called her up, giving her a shout of congratulations based on what happened – as well as an update about what they had learned in relation to Alison. He told her that he’d be going out to dinner with the guys, but looked forward to seeing her later that night. She made mention that she was staying for the ARCA race to see how Harrison did, but would make her way to Texas right after.

“I’m surprised she’s coming,” Alan states after the call was over.

“I was too, but she told me that she doesn’t want to miss it,” Chase comments. “I know, before you say it – I’m spoiled.” Alan just chuckles as he looks over at him.

“Just let me know when the wedding is because I know it’s coming…” Chase rolls his eyes as they head out for dinner with the rest of the guys.

The fun night of laughs was almost like therapy as for those couple hours around the table, everything else was totally forgotten. Everybody found themselves entertained by the series of stories told by fellow teammates, as well as jokes that were shared. Who knew some of their stupidest past mistakes would become the biggest laughs today?

Chase even got the biggest laugh when a couple of the guys tried to go and join the band that was playing in a song. The guys also pushed for him to do the same, but he wasn’t willing.

With dinner in the books, he and Alan made the trip back to the track – with Jordan agreeing to spend the night on the motorcoach couch as part of the team’s plan to keep an eye on their driver.

Reaching the motorcoach and pulling out his key, Chase hears his phone go off on his pocket. He opens the door, allowing the pair to enter first, before pulling his phone out of his pocket. He smiles, seeing that it was a new message from Sarina, opening it immediately.

“What the fuck?!?” He says, instantly causing Alan and Jordan to turn around on a dime.

“Chase?” They both say together, slowly coming back down the stairs to where he was standing outside.

“Alison….” He couldn’t find his voice as he tried to say what was on his mind. “Alison…” Alan snatches the phone from his hands, reading the text message instantly.

“You pulled the wrong move and now I have no choice but to make a different decision,” Alan read out loud. He then looked at the attached image, which showed a photo of Sarina tied up. “Holy shit! Jordan, get him inside! I’ve got this.”

Jordan simply nods his head, wrapping his arms around Chase’s shoulders and guiding him inside as Alan takes out his own phone, dialing the investigator’s number immediately.

It wasn’t a long conversation on the phone as the investigator promised to be there immediately, while making sure to contact those that were in Nashville close to the situation.

“Alan!” Alan hears, watching as Kyle comes hurrying his way. “Have you hear-”

“Alison has Sarina tied up somewhere,” Alan cuts him off, showing him the image on Chase’s phone. Kyle resisted the urge to let out a big long curse. “You know?”

“Marcus just called me. He and Harrison were leaving the track, along with some of the other guys, and a laughing gas bomb went off. It knocked them ou-”

“….and Sarina was kidnapped by Alison in the process…” Kyle nods his head. “Are they okay?”

“Yeah, Marcus says that he and the guys are fine. He also has already told local authorities and they’re looking into security cameras, whatever they can.” Alan simply nods his head. “How’s Chase?”

“Totally stunned. He couldn’t even get the words out. Jordan took him inside…” Kyle just shakes his head.

“I can’t believe she’s taken it this far….”Alan wanted to believe the same thing, but he couldn’t.

“Based on what she said in the court room that day, and the fact that she took a shot at me, I’m not.” Alan crosses his arms as he tries to remain calm about this. “She wants to get to Chase in every way possible. By simply killing Sarina, that’s not going to do it – we both know that. I have a feeling that there’s going to be a second part to this.”

“She’s going to try and lure Chase in to doing what she wants?” Alan slowly nods his head. He didn’t want to say or think about the next set of words, but the scene in the trailer that day said it all.

“And he’ll do anything for Sarina so you know what the results will be.” Kyle nods his head, knowing where this was going on.

“Marcus feels absolutely terrible that for a second time, he hasn’t done enough to stop her.” Alan could understand that, given the friendship Marcus and Sarina had.

“I still can’t believe you broke those two up…..”

Inside the motorcoach, Jordan had sat Chase down on the couch, simply sitting calmly beside him. Jordan only got up and went to the fridge, pouring a glass of water, and bringing it over to hand it to him.

“Do you want anything else?” Jordan asks.

“I just want Sarina to be okay, and here with me,” Chase answers as he glances over at the mechanic. “Is that too much to ask?” Jordan shakes his head no as he wraps his arm back around Chase’s shoulder.

“She’s going to be okay. She’s strong. She’s fought through so much so far, and she’ll damn well make sure Alison doesn’t hurt her. We both know how strong she is, Chase. Keep telling yourself that…” Chase nods his head as he glances down his hands, the keys still resting in them. His eyes immediately caught to a key in particular as he holds it firmly.

“For our anniversary, I gave her a heart locket and I’m the only one that has the key for it – the key to her heart. Cheeky, huh?” Jordan hated to, but he chuckled a little even in the moment.

“Corny, but absolutely adorable at the same time.” Chase couldn’t help but chuckle a little, before letting out a sigh as he glanced back down at it.

“I always kept it on my key ring with the plane keys, truck keys, motorcoach key, house key – whatever. I thought I lost it when I crashed the plane in February. When it came to recovering the wreckage, they weren’t able to save much – but one of those things was that key. I was probably more thankful about that little key than I should’ve been. But right now, it’s all I can think about….” Chase glances up at Jordan. “She’s got to be okay, Jordan….”

“She will be. They’re going to find her, and she will be okay without a doubt in my mind.”