Friday March 16, 2018 – Auto Club Speedway
“Ready to return to reality?” Chase questions as they make their way through the garage area.
“Not many people can say they get to drive fast cars for a living, and not many people can say they’re spoiled with a great guy,” Sarina answers, sneaking in a quick kiss as they reach the garage area.
“Everybody hide – the love birds are here!” Josh spats out as the pair reach the garage stall, earning an eye roll from Sarina.
“Aren’t you supposed to be on vacation this week?” Chase questions, causing Josh’s smile to disappear immediately.
“I don’t want to talk about that….” Chase rubs his shoulders with a chuckle.
“Hey, I’m not upset. I get pushing the envelope. I’ve done it before myself, right?” Josh nods his head as he picks up a stack of paper. He counts out 13 pieces, handing them to Chase.
“That’s the penalty. That’s how far the spacer and shim angle were apart according to NASCAR. Tell me how that is fair…” Chase shakes his head as he hands the pieces of paper back to Josh. “I mean, what if something happens in the race and it shifts slightly? What if you catch a curb or a bump? It’s ridiculous the confines that NASCAR expects out of us, and then how the fans go nuts when we just miss it by that much.”
“Like I said, I’m not upset as I get it. We stick together, right?” Josh nods his head in agreement as Chase makes his way over to where Alan and Jordan were hanging out. “I just want to know if there’s any way out of that penalty….”
“It’s a cut dry subject,” Alan offers as he crosses his arms. “We’ll see what happens. Jeff and I have to talk about it some more before next week..”
“Speaking of more to talk about…” Jordan starts, pulling an envelope out of the drawer. “This was sitting by the garage stall this morning…” He hands it over to Chase, earning an immediate sigh from him.
“I would rather talk about penalties over this all day,” Chase comments, as he rips the top of the envelope open. He had hoped to avoid any thought or collision course with Alison for the rest of time, and find her way to being caught.
“I already reported the fact that it was found here so they’re on the lookou-”
“We know how that works, don’t we?” Sarina cuts them off, earning a glance from Chase. “She managed to sneak into a public appearance that you were doing amongst hundreds of people, spend time with you, and escape without a trace. But oh no, we’re supposed to believe that having eyes on her is supposed to catch her. Do you see me being hopeful?” Chase wraps an arm around Sarina, pulling her close to him as he pulls out the slip of paper. He knew it was her fear spewing the comments more than anything, and he respected that based on what had happened. In a way, he could also feel the same trembling at times.
“I hope you haven’t forgot about the decision that you made and the effects that it will have moving forward,” Chase reads. “I have a surprise for you and you may not enjoy it…” He then takes the note, set to rip it right down the middle when Jordan snatches it out of his hands, slipping it back in the envelope.
“For the record, you’re not going to see that surprise no matter how hard she tries,” Josh states, catching the group’s attention. They didn’t realize that he had walked over to join them. “We’ve got your back, and we’ll do whatever we can for you – just like you’ve got our backs this weekend.”
“Like I said, I’m done letting her control my life.” Chase walks away, glancing in the car to make sure everything was set in place for the first practice. Both Sarina and Jordan went to follow, but found a hand on each of their shoulders.
“Just leave him be,” Alan advises, causing a sigh and almost protest from Sarina. “He’s using practice and this weekend as a distraction and frankly, that may be a good idea so he isn’t pondering every theory possible as to what she is planning. But we also know that when he wants to talk, he’ll say something to one of us, right?” Sarina and Jordan nod their heads.
“It just kills me to watch him let it eat at him like this,” Sarina comments, as Alan gives her a shoulder a little squeeze.
“It kills us all, but that’s why like Josh said, we’ve got his back. Don’t worry – we’re done playing games, too.” She then looks back at the crew chief intrigued, but is left without an answer as he heads off, set to give some more instructions to the team.
“Do I want to know what Alan is thinking?” Jordan shakes his head no as he keeps his eyes locked on Chase.
“Should I have hid the envelope and not let him see it at all?” Jordan wonders out loud and Sarina shakes his head no.
“He would’ve found out eventually, and been twice as upset,” Sarina offers, before taking a deep breath and heading out of the garage area.
It pained her to stand back and do nothing with everything going on, and she knew staying there any longer would result in that coming out. Certainly, that wasn’t going to help the being strong and united front attitude that Alan wanted. So for that reason, she knew that it was time to catch up with Samantha and Brexton. He was always a good distraction when things weren’t going as planned.
From the start of practice to the end, Chase had to admit that the car wasn’t that bad. They certainly could use some adjustments to get better, but it was handling pretty good and close enough that believing this could be the weekend they get a victory was there. Pleased with the session, he would end the day ranked 15th on the charts.
With the session in the books, he makes his way back to the team transporter, heading inside and up into the lounge. Grabbing himself a quick drink, he texts Sarina where he was in case she was looking for him, but already knew that she was having a fun relaxing afternoon with Samantha and Brexton. Truthfully, he was glad to see that knowing her reaction to the note, and almost wishing a perfect distraction could be in his corner right now.
“It’s nice to see you again, Chase,” he hears, instantly catching him by surprise as he looks towards the doorway, watching it slide close slowly.
“How did you get in here?” He questions without moving a single inch. He was already eying a couple different ideas, ranging from where his phone was placed to the doorway and her location.
“I have my ways, right? It’s easy to sneak in here when nobody is around during the practice session.” He immediately wanted to curse the lack of security or people, or the fact that the doors had been left unlocked. If everybody was on the same page and not willing to leave anything to chance, why wasn’t that taken care of? Besides, where were the guys right now? Shouldn’t they be there going over notes and grabbing some grub? “Besides, there’s more important questions at hand that need to be answered.”
“Like what?” He hated to entertain her, but figured it was worth buying some time as the guys should be on their way soon.
“Have you seen Sarina lately?” His breath immediately hitches in his throat, but he tried to ignore the worry. If something was wrong, he would’ve heard something from Samantha and Kyle already – unless….
“She’s taking a fun day to hersel-”
“With her boss and Brexton. How adorable, right? It almost sucks to ruin it.” Chase felt his heart drop immediately in worry. He knew that Samantha and Sarina could take care of himself – he could honestly see Samantha sticking a heel up someone’s ass. However, it didn’t seem fair for Brexton.
“This is obviously between me and you – as you’ve made it from the beginning. Let’s try and keep it that way, alright?” He keeps his eyes closely locked on her as she makes her way around the small table closer to where he was sitting on the couch. Eyes locked on his phone, objects around him, a couple different ideas began to form immediately. Why couldn’t he find it in himself to do something?
“I’m glad you see it that way. Decisions, right? As long as you make the right choice here today, we won’t have to do anything…” He was almost set to throw the book off the table, when he watches her load an image on her phone of Sarina with Samantha and Brexton at the park. His hand immediately lowers as he knew if she had images, someone was there and something was possible. He didn’t want to be the reason something happened to them. He just needed to buy some time….
“What do you want?” A smirk forms on Alison’s face immediately as she sits down on the couch beside him.
“What have I wanted from the beginning? What did I ask you for at India-”
“Go to hell.” She breaks out laughing as she reaches for her phone, set to push a button upon his words.
“Like I said, decisi-” In an instant, he felt every nerve rise inside of him, almost like his stomach flip flopped with worry and panic, as he reached over and placed his hand on top of his. The crew guys would be there soon, right? They always came back to the lounge.
“As much as I hate you and despise you, I’m willing to deal…” Her smirk widens immediately, only making him feel sicker in the process.
“I know that this can be hard on you to do, so let’s just take it slow – one step at a time per meeting that we are going to have.” In Chase’s eyes, this was going to be the last meeting ever because she was going to get caught and this nightmare would be over. “Kiss me, or else I will send the message that you’re dreading.”
“Kiss you?” She nods her head as he takes a deep breath. He knew he was going to hate every minute, and cursed the guys for not coming around sooner, but what else was he supposed to do? He watches as her finger lingers closer towards the ‘send’ button, placing his hand more firmly on hers to hold it back. Against every wish and thought, he brought his lips close to hers, letting them brush across lightly as possible, before pulling back. “Happy?”
“Such a tease, Elliott….” He actually hated the thought that it seemed she got off on it. “It almost makes me want to take charge and have my wa-”
“That’s not happening.” She then laughs as she brushes his hand away, holding up the phone with pride.
“You’ll do anything for her, and I know you wouldn’t want to be responsible for something happening to Brexton…” She then stands up, standing over him as he glances at her, closing his eyes as he says every prayer imaginable that Alan would burst through the door already. “So what do you say, Chase?”
“I’m not betraying Sari-”
“Then I guess I can send the messa-”
“Don’t you have another trick up your sleeve?” She laughs even harder as she reaches for her pocket. His eyes catch a glimpse, only picking up his nerves that much more. He had half-expected a needle or something else, but certainly not that. “Okay, I get it, you’re not playing games.” He places his hand on top of hers, pulling it away from her pocket.
“So you accept my offer?” He hated that he was going to do this, but what other choice did he have? He simply slowly nodded his head, closing his eyes, not believing that this could be happening. “I knew you’d co-operate…” She straddles herself over him, reaching for the zipper on his firesuit, slowly bringing it down. “I just hope you enjoy watching how a real woman works…”
“What the hell?!?” They both hear as the door slides open with Alan standing there.
“Duck!” Chase yells, catching the crew chief off-guard but he does as requested and luckily so, as Alison spins around, grabbing the gun out of her pocket and letting off a shot. Chase uses it to his perfect advantage, grabbing her leg and causing her to fall on the ground. With her caught off-guard, he slips the gun out of her fingers, throwing it on the table. “Alan?”
“I’m….” Alan slowly stands up as he glances over himself, before looking at his driver. “I’m okay. I’m okay. It totally missed me..” Chase lets out a long sigh as he places a foot on her to keep her held down as Alan grabs his phone, calling for help. “What about you?!?”
“I’m fine…now….” Alan simply nods his head as he rambles off some details. “Call Sarina and tell her to get back to the track immediately with Samantha and Brexton, please. Just tell them something is up.”
“Sure, I’ll do that, whatever you say – whatever you need.” Chase takes another deep breath as he tries to relax back, but not letting go of his hold on Alison.
It didn’t take long for the right officials to get there and take away Alison in handcuffs, before getting a statement from both men as they sat in the trailer stunned. It didn’t even bother them right now that the car had failed tech inspection twice and there was going to be no attempt to qualify because quite frankly, that probably wouldn’t been possible with what had just happened.
“I can’t believe she had a gun,” Alan comments as he looks over at Chase with full surprise. “I can’t believe she took a shot at me, either.” Chase shakes his head in disbelief, too.
“That was too close for comfort, Alan,” Chase offers and Alan nods his head in agreement. “I’m sorr-”
“I’d jump out of the way of a bullet any day if it meant the nightmare was over, kid.” Chase smiles a little. “She’s certainly beyond crazy, actually crazier than Chris if I have to be honest, and I’m just glad that I was here for you.” Chase couldn’t argue with that as he takes a deep breath.
“She had convinced me that someone was watching Sarina with Samantha and Brexton, and willing to hurt them if I didn’t agree to her terms.” He takes another deep breath, trying to erase the thought as he glances over at the crew chief. “She was about to strip me dow-”
“Seriously?” Chase slowly nods his head. “So you were going to let her do that to you to make sure that Sarina, Samantha and Brex stayed safe?”
“What else was I supposed to do, Alan?” Alan couldn’t argue with that as he places a hand on Chase’s leg.
“That was brave, really brave. You did good…” Chase nods his head in agreement.
“I’m just glad that it’s over and I never have to see her again.” He then grabs a bottle of water, taking a big mouthful as he wipes his lips multiple times. “I just wish I never had to taste her li-”
“You kissed her?” Chase freezes, slowly nodding his head. “Oh man….”
“I had to do what I could to stall her, to stop her in anyway. I was willing to put it out there..” Alan looks over surprised as he glances back forward.
“I’ve always admired you and been grateful for the chance to work with you. But seeing how brave you were, seeing what you were willing to do today, I’m at a lost for words. That takes a lot from you. You should be proud of yourself.” Chase rolls his eyes. “I’m serious, Chase. Not many people would go that far for the people that they love.”
“Alan is right, and I’m forever grateful for you, and I know Kyle and Brex will be too,” they hear and look towards the doorway as Samantha stands there with Brexton in her arms. Sarina makes her way by, heading to the couch immediately, as she wraps her arms around Chase.
“Are you okay?” Sarina asks and Chase nods his head yes. “Are you sure? I mean, I heard that she had a gun, she took a shot at Alan, and she tried to mak-”
“I’m okay, Sarina,” he cuts her off, kissing her lips with as much passion as he could, before drawing back away. “I’m okay. She didn’t hurt me at all.” Sarina nods her head, accepting, before laying her head against him.
“I’m here for you, always.” He nods his head accepting, rubbing her back as he lays his head on her shoulder. “It’s okay…”
“Don’t try and push it off as if nothing happened,” Alan starts as he stands up. “Make sure you talk about it if you need to, because whether you admit it or not, she had you right where she wanted you.” Alan then leaves the lounge, shutting the door behind him to give the pair some time alone.
“Talk to me, Chase….” Sarina offers as she sits back a bit, glancing into his brown eyes.
“What do you want me to say?” He questions as she lets out a sigh. “I get it. Everybody is right that a lot went through that my mind with her, but I’m okay. I wasted enough of her time for Alan to get here and for us to do the right thing. Sure, I maybe cut it close a litt-”
“You think?” Chase lets out a sigh, having seen the hole in the wall further down the trailer.
“But I did what I had to do. I told you that I was done letting her control me, and she didn’t get to control that situation. She thought she had me right where she wanted me, but the whole time I had a plan in mind and was not letting it happen. I’ve always told you this, but I would never betray you or let someone hurt us. I love you.” He kisses her lips lightly.
“I love you, too. now, can I just hold you in my arms all night and be thankful?” He nods his head, accepting as he pulls her back close, laying his head back on her shoulder. He knew he was also saying the same thing, too.