Saturday, March 16 – Auto Club Speedway
Sarina started off the Xfinity Series race well, remaining in the top-five throughout the first stage en route to a solid fifth-place finish.
Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the second stage, as she had to make an unscheduled green flag pit stop on Lap 61 due to the right front going down.
“Long time to go here….” Chase told himself as he watches her on-track, earning a nod from Dave when it’s confirmed she was right about the decision to come in.
She’d fight hard through the remainder of the second stage, working her way up to the 15th position by the time the checkered flag. More importantly, she was the first car one lap down, allowing her to snag the lucky dog.
“We still got lots of time here,” Chase repeats to himself, knowing that she could get back up front for a solid finish.
She’d run solidly through the stage, keeping herself in position for a good finish.
Chase watches as Brandon Jones gets a little sideways off the corner, with Ryan Preece narrowly avoiding front end contact. However, that sent Preece down the track, barely missing catching Sarina as he did so.
“I think I just shit my pants there!” Sarina instantly yells out on the radio, and Chase couldn’t help but nod his head in agreement. “Holy crap! Where the hell was he going?”
“He was worried about avoiding 19, didn’t think through step two,” Earl Barban informs her. “Nice job avoiding there.”
“That was pure luck, buddy….”
“We’re staying out here,” Dave tells her, ready to play the strategy card as they were late in the event. With running just inside the top-10, perhaps they could steal a stronger finish with a bit of strategy.
Restarting in the second position, she would fight hard against the fresher tires around her, eventually fading back, crossing the finish line with a 12th-place finish.
“I cost you a top-10 finish with that call,” Dave comments as he walks over post-race, earning a simple nod from Chase. He admittedly wasn’t pleased with the gamble as he could see that going ugly right from the beginning. Everybody knew how important tires were at Auto Club Speedway. “I’m sorry.”
“Hey, I don’t blame you for the decision,” Sarina replies, earning a surprised glance from Chase. He was ready for her to be angry about what happened. “You don’t know if you don’t try. We could’ve gotten some more cautions, and stole a top-five after the early bad luck. I’m not mad. You know what you’re doing on the box, and you do a great job. Just keep it up.”
“Keep up what you’re doing behind the wheel as you’re amazing…” She simply smiles in return, as it felt good to already have a nice relationship together.
“That’s the most speed that we’ve had all season long, Dave. We just got to keep that rolling into Texas in a couple weeks.” Dave could only glance between the pair at the mere reminder of the off-week, remembering yesterday’s conversation.
“Make sure you both take care of each other. I’ll see you this week…” He walks away from them, as Chase is still glancing at Sarina.
“Now are you going to tell me how you truly feel?” He asks and it was now her turn to be surprised.
“I was completely honest about my feelings about the call,” she answers. “I am guessing that you were frustrated about his decision.” He nods his head, easily. “Sure, tires are everything and we knew that we’d lose track position. We didn’t believe we lost as much as we did, but I am not mad because I wasn’t mad when he tried due to knowing the risk, and ready for the reward if possible.”
“That’s a very respectful, grown-up approach…” She then gives him a playful punch. “I’m serious! Normally you’d be stomping your feet at this point.” She just rolls her eyes in response.
“Just promise me that you’ll actually do something smart tomorrow…” He then looks over surprised. However, he instantly shifts conversation away in hearing his phone go off in his pocket. He pulls it out, reading the message. “Do I want to know?”
“Laiken said that there was a note sent to her office, stating that she should pass along to me that I need to be careful about my decisions in the coming weeks, as they’ll affect everybody.” He then lets out a sigh, looking over at her. “Do you think he figured out what we’re doing?”
“There was no way as we haven’t told anyone publically, and we both know that we can trust Dr. Grayson with everything. She didn’t reveal that I was pregnant despite her career being on the line with the rules, so why would she reveal this?” Chase had to agree with Sarina’s assessment as he looked back at the message. “Maybe it has to deal with the charges against….” Sarina glances down immediately, taking a deep breath.
“There’s no way that I am changing my mind and dropping those charges.” He then wraps his arm around her, pulling her close. “I know what you went through, and I want to make sure that I do whatever it takes to keep you safe so you don’t go through that again. There’s no way that he gets away with this.”
“Then why does this feel like de ja vu?” Chase lets out a sigh, having the exact thought as he remembered a similar text message from Alison.
“He was the mastermind behind Alison’s tricks and giggles, recall. He knows what she did because he helped her do everything. I bet he’s going to play right that book in hopes that he throws me off my game. That’s not happening this time.” It was now Chase’s turn to take the difficult deep breath, still having his regrets about some of the events with Alison at times. “We’re going to be okay, Sarina. Nobody is going to hurt us, or tear us apart…”
Sunday, March 17 – Auto Club Speedway
Sarina glances over as she watches Chase pull on his t-shirt, smiling immediately as she recognized it.
“So I go ahead and ask Daniel for one of his Amigo shirts, and then you steal it?” She questions, as she was still hailing Daniel as a hero for tackling Michael McDowell a couple weeks ago. Based on Michael’s actions over the past couple of years, it was something that was a long-time coming.
“It fits me better, anyways,” he answers, giving her a butt wiggle in return. She then grabs the edge of the shirt, pulling him close to her.
“Have I told you lately how much I enjoy the color grey on you?” He shakes his head no, but remembered the constant banquet compliments. “Have I told you lately how much I love when you wear these jeans, because they showcase every single curve…” She then wraps her arms around him, placing both hands on his ass. “They certainly leave nothing to hide, and I have to admire that fact because boy, let me tell you, you are fine specimen.”
“The same could be said for this beauty right before my eyes…” He then leans in, and lightly kisses her lips. “You didn’t have to stay today.”
“I know, but I knew that you didn’t want to spend last night alone. Frankly, I didn’t want to spend last night without you.” He then easily wraps both arms around her, holding her against him. “It’s getting easier, but I need you…”
“I know, and I’m here for every single moment that you need me.” He then looks into her eyes. “Trust me when I say this – I will do whatever you need because I love you. I made the promise to take care of you, and vowed to protect you. I don’t break my promises.”
“I know…” She then slowly stands up off the bed. “I also know that you’ll do whatever it takes for me and Abigail and our family – you’ve proven that so many times over, Chase. You don’t need to do something to prove that to me.”
“Are you referring to tomorrow?” She slowly nods her head, as he sits down beside her. “I thought you were fully on-board with me getting it done.”
“I fully agree with your sentiment and reasons, and understand that, and like I told you – I fully support any decision that you make, as you would for me. I just don’t want you to feel obligated to do something.” He knew it was nothing like that when he made the decision.
“I’m not doing it out of obligation, but rather love and caring for you. Aren’t those all the right reasons?” She nods her head. “And how is it different then you doing this for me and us?”
“I know it’s not, Chase, but yet I just haven’t fully got on-board with it. Do you realize that you can’t go back on that?” He nods his head, having read everything about it. “What if something happens to me? What if the unthin-”
“That’s not going to happ-”
“Trust me, I damn well agree with you, but please play the hypothetical game for a minute. Accidents unfortunately happen every day, right?” He then lets out a sigh, but he knew that she was right, given the dangerous life that they both lead. “If something were to happen for whatever reason, you would be stripping your ability to also have kids with someone else. On the other side, I cannot carry a baby full-term due to it being too risky so it’s not like I stripping anybody’s abili-”
“You’re stripping your own ability, and you never know what the future could hold. There’s break throughs in medicine every day as they’re always developing new methods. What if they come up with a way to do uterus reconstruction surgery successfully?” She then glances down, having not let that thought cross her mind. She honestly didn’t want to play the game of false hopes for the future as having a finalization allowed her to come to grips fully with the decision. “If we’re going to play the hypothetical game, then maybe we both shouldn’t do this.”
“And what if I get pregnant again? I know we’ve talked about better birth control methods – whether different brand of condoms and pills, but what if I get pregnant again?” He knew there was only one way to handle that – just like they did here.
“We’ll go through with every single step necessary to ensure you can’t get pregnant without the surgery, but if it happens, we’ll handle it – just like we did with Abigail. We’ll handle everything that comes with it, together, side-by-side, no matter what. We’ve gotten to this point. I’m pretty sure we can face whatever else the world has for us and succeed.” She then glances over with a small smile on her face.
“Have I told you how much you mean to me lately?” He nods his head, as he wipes her hair out of her face.
“Every day, but you can continue to tell me because you mean just as much as to me.” He then leans in, and lightly kisses her lips. “I love you, forever and always.”
“I love you, too, and for the reasons stated, we’ll just go through with the egg retrieval, keeping all options open.” He nods his head, approving her suggestion.
Starting deep in the field, there was some speed in the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet as Chase was able to work his way into the top-15 through the opening stage. He then continued to move forward in the middle of the race, running just outside of the top-10.
With a couple back-to-back cautions, Alan decided that they might as well try something since the speed wasn’t there to continue moving forward as they would’ve hoped. As a result, he left Chase out on-track, allowing him to restart up in the fifth position.
The restart would see a lot of close battles with everybody racing three-wide, trying their hardest for any position necessary. Sarina felt herself biting nails at times on the pit box, including almost jumping out of skin when he and Ryan got close together, making slight contact down the frontstretch. Thankfully, both of them were able to keep it straight and going without any damage.
“Damn, that was close,” Eddie commented afterwards in which Sarina had to agree.
“Hurt my rears playing defense trying to run with those guys,” Chase replies, not even referencing the contact with Ryan in the process.
“10-4 just hold on and do the best that you can,” Alan tells him, with a sigh of his own.
“Oh lawdy, Ryan isn’t happy….” Sarina comments, earning a glance from Jordan in the process. “Lindsay just texted me that he blasted Chase on his radio, and frankly I can’t blame him. Ryan basically said, ‘How about he stops trying to fucking side draft so hard? He just doored me,’ and referenced being the second time this year.”
“I guess that means his best man privileges for the wedding are revoked,” Jordan replies and Sarina couldn’t help but chuckle.
However, she admittedly had to agree with Chase. He knew he was at a disadvantage on the older tires – hence his lecture to her about the call yesterday, and he knew the risks of side-drafting. He also knew when he was pushing his equipment too hard, as well. So why was he being an ass here?
Ultimately, he would fade back to where he was running before, crossing the finish line with an 11th-place finish.
“Are you going to say anything to Ryan about the contact?” Sarina wonders post-race and Chase shakes his head no as he gets changed. He had totally let it go until hearing the reminder.
“He knows I didn’t do it on purpose,” Chase answers. “He also knows that we’ve been struggling to find what he has, and pushing our stuff to its limit. I bet by tomorrow he will have forgotten about it.”
Sarina could only hope that was the case as she didn’t need a riff between them, not wanting to see how that’d affect things with Lindsay and her. She wasn’t ready to lose that friendship, again.
Tuesday, March 19 – College Football Hall of Fame – Atlanta, Georgia
“Are you okay?” Chase questions as he glances in the mirror, giving himself another look over.
“Yeah,” she answers as she walks behind up him, fixing the collar on his jacket.
“You don’t have to come tonight….” She then lets out a sigh, as she knew what he was referencing already.
As planned, she went through the egg retrieval process on Monday. Everything went smoothly with Dr. Grayson able to retrieve three viable eggs that they could use in the future. She also couldn’t complain about the days following, either. While she was a little sore, it wasn’t anything above what she could handle. That was why she had made the choice to go with him tonight.
“I want to be there to support you,” she comments as he spins around to face her. “It’s pretty amazing to see you being honored by the boy scouts for your achievements, and I agree with every sentiment of the Professional Athlete Award. I mean, you showcase your great character and personality by always having a positive attitude, being there for the fans, and taking care of everybody. I’m proud of you.”
“I just don’t want you to push yourself too hard…” She then takes his hands with her own.
“Chase, I’m fine, I can handle this. Let me be there for you, please…” He lets out a sigh, nodding his head accepting. Besides, there was no way that he’d change her mind.
“Just promise me you’ll tell me if you get too sore or something….”
They both then headed out, making the trip up to the College Hall of Fame. They had to admit that everything was nice and smooth going with the ceremony, with Sarina even absolutely adored at how cute some of the younger scouts were all dressed up in their uniforms. They were glad to see Chase’s acceptance of the award go smoothly, along with the couple of photos that followed.
They even hung around with some of the boy scouts afterwards, taking a couple photos for the ones who were racing fans and wanted an image. It was nice to have a quiet night out together without much going on after everything they’d been through lately.