The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 37: Media Day

When people want to play the game of mixing words and things like that, you turn us into robots. We can’t say the things that we want to say or do the things we want to do because it gets us in trouble or gets us in a bad light. It’s really unfortunate.” – Kyle Busch

Wednesday, February 14 – Daytona International Speedway

Sarina lets out a long stretch and sigh, before glancing over at the empty spot beside her in bed.

It was the day of love, but it was like that had disappeared with yet another day of work on the horizon. She actually wished he would’ve woken up before he left.

She then slowly gets up, making her way to the kitchen half-asleep, knowing that she’d have to go in a bit herself. Letting out a sigh, a day of photos and talking to the media just seemed perfect.

As she reaches the kitchen, a smile immediately blossoms on her face as she walks over to the small dining room table. She sees the dozen pink roses lying there, along with box of chocolates and a card. She picks up the card, quickly opening it as she leans back against the desk.

“I love you no matter and always,” she reads out loud. “You’ll always be my girl, no matter what anybody says. Have some fun today, ignore the hatred that you’re going to receive, and just be you. I’ll see you later…”

She then picks up the roses, smelling them as she gets out a make-shift to vase to put them. As she gets them settled, she was caught off-guard by a knock at the door. She was a little taken back, but wondered if it was possibly either her PR rep thinking she’d be running late, or maybe even Chase’s parents.

She makes her way over, slowly opening the door, relaxing as she sees her boss’ face immediately.

“I was wondering when we’d actually see each other after last night,” Kyle states as he enters the motorcoach. Sarina could feel the lump foaming in her throat as she closed the door behind them, slowly following him to the living room area.

“Kyle, I can explai-” She starts, hoping that she could somehow muster her way out of this.

“You don’t need to explain yourself.” She then looks at him confused. “Anybody knows that you didn’t know anything about it. Considering that Chase sent out a tweet supporting your statement, and the fact that his sponsors haven’t said anything, why are you thinking that?” She felt relieved immediately, but taken back by his words at first.

“I just thought that I’d be in shit considering the messages I’ve gotten back in return.” Kyle had to chuckle as he had read through a bunch of them last night before falling asleep.

“And you don’t think I’ve gotten worse? Do I need to show you what I received when I wrecked Dale?” She lets out a sigh, shaking her head no. Perhaps Kyle showing up was actually the best thing. “I like the personality and spark that you have. It’s one of those reasons why I felt you were perfect for KBM, beyond your talent. I thought Chase would’ve pushed for you to stay in the Hendrick/GMS family, but I can see watching you how he felt that you were perfect under my wing, too. I actually stopped by because I wanted to offer my hand in support, in case you thought I was mad at you.” She smiles back in return as it was nice to actually here, even if originally implied.

“I just don’t know how to handle everybody today after what was said…” Kyle crosses his arms as an idea comes to mind immediately, with a twinkle. “Oh no….”

“I’ve done it, but it’d be perfect…..”

Chase had been busy all morning, going through the required stages of the media day. From the radio interviews, to the TV interviews, to now sitting before a bunch of people talking his butt off.

Didn’t they have anything else to talk about, though? It was just about first win and the prospect of being the next most popular driver. Why did they want to make a big deal out of it?

“Your tweet last night in relation to Sarina surprised some people,” a media member speaks up, catching his attention. “We haven’t seen you speak out much about things…”

“I speak out when necessary, answer questions as they’re asked, and go about my business,” Chase offers. “But last night, it was clear that a lot of people took her comment the wrong way. Nobody associated with me, or myself, had any ill-feelings, but you could see yourself the comments. I just wanted to show my support.” He just hoped they left it at that.

“What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?” He smiles, shrugging his shoulders.

“I can’t tell you that, man. She’s around here somewhere and may hear my answer. That’d ruin the surprise.”

Sarina was also busy doing her rounds at the same time, and found herself before the same people later on. Taking a deep breath, she couldn’t wait for the fun to begin. She trusted Kyle’s judgment in doing this.

“What are your thoughts going into this weekend?” One reporter asks and she just smiles.

“Everything’s great,” she answers, noticing Kyle watching out of the corner of her eye.

“What is your reaction to the backlash from last night?” Another wonders.

“Everything’s great.”

“What about your relationship with Chase Elliott?”

“Everything’s great.”

“What about Valentine’s Day? Chase mentioned a possible surprise….”

“Everything’s great.” Kyle couldn’t help but chuckle as he watched the reactions on their faces.

“Is that all your going to say today?” She then glances over, and nods her head.

“It seems that when you guys get to know me, it’s gets twisted or torn apart. I’m the girl who’s probably crazy, maybe even insane, and can’t crack a simple joke, right? That’s sarcasm, if you don’t get that, because I am not those things. But I am sick of people twisting things on their face.”

“Does that mean all of your answers are going to dry from now on?” One of them wonders and she shrugs her shoulders.

“We’ll just have to see what happens, right?” She questions as she sits back in the chair. “If I have to be honest, though, I was taken back by the responses last night to the tweet that those clearly directed to got right away. I mean, I’ve talked with those girls before at races and we have no problems. Secondly, obviously I’m excited for this weekend to get back racing and get back behind the wheel. Hopefully I can snag myself a win and start off the year well. As for your other question, Chase and I – well, everything’s just great.”

Kyle also took his time before the media, seeing as though things had been taken care of accordingly – even if some people didn’t appreciate their tactic used.

“What is your take on the situation with Sarina’s tweet?” Busch was asked about halfway through.

“Everything’s great, right?” He offers, causing a series of chuckles. “My take is simple. When people want to play the game of mixing words and things like that, you turn us into robots. We can’t say the things that we want to say or do the things we want to do because it gets us in trouble or gets us in a bad light. It’s really unfortunate.”

Despite starting after he had started, she was officially done for the day and was now doing the liberty o standing back watching him finish up the last couple of photos.

“I can’t believe you’re not down here for Valentine’s Day sucking up to Ryan,” she says on the phone, having dialed up Lindsay. She wanted to make sure her cousin was still coming as promised.

“I couldn’t get out of doing this dance recital no matter how hard I tried,” Lindsay confesses as Sarina lets out a long sigh. “Besides, it’s not like Ryan and I aren’t close yet…” It was now her turn to chuckle.

“You don’t need to keep lying to me and Chase….” It was clear that chemistry was growing as she had on good information from Chase that Ryan had been texting Lindsay.

“I’m being serious! But okay, let’s talk to you now. It must suck working on the one day where you two could truly spend to yourselves, cherishing that special love….” Sarina couldn’t find herself to agree, though, by the sight before her right now.

“There are certainly perks to this job…” She licks her lips with every thought that comes to her mind, as he lets out a quick blink her way. “I have an excuse to just stand here, stare, and not be creepy.”

“Do I want to know what you’re doing right now?” Sarina almost chuckled, as she kept her eyes locked on Chase’s.

“I’m just watching him do the photo shoot for Fox. Needless to say, we’re going to be spoiled as they are doing quite the job…” It was Lindsay’s turn to chuckle as Sarina watched as he shifted positions.

“Are you sure you want to share that with the whole world?” Sarina knew the answer that should be offered, but she didn’t need to be one of those girls.

“They can look, but at the end of the day, we both know where his heart lies….”

Once they were done their photos together, they headed back to the motorcoach.

Chase goes in before her, retreating to the back as he finds a pair of good pants and a polo shirt, heading into the bathroom without saying a single word.

Sarina makes her way in, shutting the door behind her, as she comes up through. She finds herself frozen at the table, caught off-guard. She had put the card and flowers up, and eaten the chocolate, before she left, with nothing there. However, now a big box laid there with her name on it.

She slowly opens the box and her jaw dropped immediately as she saw the dress inside. She slowly pulls it out, holding it up as she glances it over.

“Do you like it?” She hears as her eyes turn his direction, seeing him peaking out of the bathroom.

“It’s stunning…” She lets out as she lays it back on the table. He makes his way over to her, just wearing his pants right now, as he wraps his arms around her.

“After you left, I got my mom to sneak back in and set this here for you. I love you, and I want to spend this day properly with you. I’m taking you out to dinner tonight. Why don’t you get that on and show me just how beautiful you are?” He then kisses her lips, before letting go and retreating back to the bathroom.

It didn’t take her long to get dressed before they headed out together to dinner.

It went successful together, as they were able to get some quality time together, with even more gifts shared. He bought her an 18 and 9 charm to go on her bracelet with the heart-shaped locket, while she had treated him to a box of chocolates, along with a couple new magazine subscriptions and new Georgia Bulldog sweater.

Of course, the night ended off in true fashion, too, as he eventually helped her take off the dress carefully later on.

Thursday, February 15, 2018 – Daytona International Speedway

With the night going later on than intended, Chase had later than he wanted, and was shocked when the alarm went off at 4am, knowing he had to go pick up Lindsay from the airport for Sarina. It also didn’t hurt that it had gone off a half hour later than he wanted, either. Perhaps he had hit snooze twice.

He carefully sneaks out of the bed without disturbing her, quickly texting Ryan in the process. Ryan had asked to come as he wanted to see Lindsay.

“So she landed in Miami because it was cheaper?” Ryan questions and Chase nods his head yes as they pull into the parking lot. “So we’re going to fly down there, pick her up, and come back?”

“That’s the plan,” Chase answers as he parks the car. “Are you excited to see your girl?”

“I would’ve honestly preferred a couple more hours sleep…” Chase couldn’t help but agree as the pair made their way to the plane.

Glancing at the time, seeing that they were running late, he could only shake his head. Knowing the plane had been locked up, he was confident in no issues, forgoing the usual checklist.

Though now in the air for awhile, he was beginning to regret it as he saw something wrong on the dials.

“We need to land ASAP,” he tells Ryan, who looks over a little concerned. Ryan knew there was reason to be worried if Chase was saying that. “Either we turn around, or we land up here on the sand. But this…” He points to a couple of the dials. “…just doesn’t seem right.”

“Do what you feel right,” Ryan instructs as he unintentionally makes sure the belts are done up tight as they can. “I trust you. Just let me know if I can help.”

One eye on the dials, one eye on the sky, he tries to get himself turned around to head back to the original airport. Though as he turns, a big sound can be heard, causing both of the young men to jump out of their skin.

“Hold on tight!” Chase instructs, keeping both hands locked on the steering wheel as he pulls at the wheel as hard as he can. “Damn it, come on!” Despite the efforts, it wasn’t long before water was in their full view as Ryan closed his eyes, counting his blessings.

“Oh shi-” Ryan starts as he sees the beach water below him straight ahead.

“Abort!” Chase reaches over, knocking Ryan’s belts loose before knocking his own. “Go down belted in and we’re drowning. You know what to do…”

“Are you sure?” Ryan didn’t get a chance to hear an answer as he watches his friend jump, heading straight for the water away from the plane. A deep breath, and Ryan followed suit, barely making it out following him.

Thursday, February 15, 2018 – Daytona Beach – 7am

Chase takes a deep breath, glancing around him. Considering how high he had jumped from, he actually didn’t feel that bad right now. But why did things feel odd?

He closes his eyes, trying to remember the past couple of hours. He remembered the jump into the water. He remembered working hard as swimming to shore as the plane went down behind him. He remembered making it to shore. As he opens his eyes, exhaustion was all he could think of as he glances around.

“Chase?!?” He hears his name called and the missing link instantly comes to him.

“Ryan?!?” He yells back in return as he glances down the beach. He saw his friend lying on the beach and couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief. He makes his way slowly down, flopping back down beside him. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, absolutely. I’m tired as hell, but I’m okay….” Chase nods his head as he glances around.

“I’m okay, too.” Ryan couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief.

“When you jumped, I didn’t know what to think….” Chase looks out to the water, before looking over at Ryan.

“Instincts just took over. I don’t know what went through my mind.” He then glances around the beach, seeing it was still bare – which seemed odd despite the early hour. “If you’re willing to do some traveling, we should go find civilization.” Ryan nods his head in agreement, as he slowly goes to stand up.

“Oh man…” Chase looks over concerned. “Sore, everywhere…” Chase watches Ryan get up, before getting up himself. He froze immediately, hands reaching down to his side.

“I knew he jinxed it!” Ryan then looks over confused. “Ricky mentioned in all this jokingly that I hadn’t hurt my ribs when this started. I recognize that pain – not as bad, but damn…” Ryan almost felt like getting the pair to sit back down, but knew that wasn’t an option.

“Are you sure you’re up for a hike?” Chase nods his head as he begins to head down the beach.

“If we’re racing tonight, we need to find the track…” Ryan couldn’t argue with him as he knew no matter how sore they both were, racing wasn’t out of the question.

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 31: Winter Showdown

Saturday, February 3 – Kern County Speedway – Winter Showdown

Sarina walks out of the bathroom, putting her hair up in a ponytail as she takes a glance at herself in the mirror.

“You should’ve woke me up,” she hears, turning around with a smile. A simple glance at him brought happiness to her.

“I figured you could use the extra sleep,” she comments as he stretches out a little, instantly regretting it as he feels the familiar pain in his knee. “And you should be relaxing, considering….”

“But we could’ve gotten a shower together. After all, I’m going to need a little assistance.” She couldn’t help but chuckle at the grin that had formed on his face in response.

“Oh but Chase, that would not follow along the guidelines of being careful because gloves slip in the shower.” He wanted to stay serious and flirty, but couldn’t help but bust out a laugh in response. “So how sore is your knee, truthfully?”

“About the same…” He then lets out a sigh as he goes to stretch a little more once again, sitting up in the bed. “Really, everywhere hurts now…” From his shoulders to his back, to his legs, it seemed that every spot had grown sore over night. If there was a muscle to be found, it was sore.

“Well, what can you say? You fell down a flight of stairs after all.” He nods his head with a sigh. “If you want to just stay back and relax all day, I’d be fine wit-”

“Are you serious? Do you really think that I’d miss your race because I’m a little sore? Clearly, you don’t get me sweetheart. I’ll be fine. I can come out to the track, and relax while watching you kick some ass.” She smiles back in return, walking over and leaning over the bed as she kisses his lips.

“How about I run you a nice warm bubble bath to relax in while I go get us some breakfast? Then maybe before we head out to the track, I can give you a nice massage…” He couldn’t argue with that as anything that’d help the pain right now would be worth it.

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

“I can’t believe this…” Sarina comments as they make their way through the infield – carefully, as she didn’t want him to further stress himself out.

A glance at the time had told her she was running late, knowing that she’d be showing up to the trailer for the pre-race team meeting a couple minutes late. But, seeing how much the massage had helped Chase, she wasn’t about to complain. She’d just flash a smile and Kyle would get it go, right?

“You’re late,” Rudy states as she walks over and she immediately nods her head in acceptance. Considering her and Rudy were just starting off their relationship together, this was now the second time she was late in a couple of weeks. It was either going to be a good way to get the hiccups out of the way, or proper training for handling crap while during the off-season.

“I know and I apologize,” she immediately says as she helps Chase sit down. “I was giving him a massage as he was sore after yesterday and I lost track of time.” She watches Rudy just roll his eyes as Kyle watches the pair closely.

“Is there all you were doing, Ms. Ott?” He questions as her jaw drops immediately as Rudy couldn’t help but chuckle at seeing her cheeks go red in front of all the crew members.

“That’s not an open topic for discussion in a room of this many peo-” Kyle’s grin widens as he looks over at Chase, before turning back to her.

“When you’re late for a meeting, the reason for your lateness is certainly a topic of discussion. Plus, you’re making yourself appear very guilty in not denying the accusations. I assume that you used the glove.”

“Kyle!” Kyle just chuckles as Sarina’s cheeks were now the darkest shade of red he had seen to date.

“Kyle, we were not having sex for your information,” Chase state as he wraps an arm around her shoulders. “She was simply taking care of me because I was sore with a massage – nothing else.”

“Trust me bud – I know how girls take care of their men,” Kyle adds as Chase can only roll his eyes. “Now, let’s get to the topic at hand – winning today.”

The meeting went smoothly, finishing off with the crew members heading out to do their assorted jobs, which just left Kyle with the couple.

“I could kill you,” Sarina starts after the last person had left the trailer, causing him to laugh even harder.

“You made yourself appear more guilty with your comment,” Kyle offers, sticking his tongue out as he grabs a NOS Energy drink from the fridge. “I knew you were innocent and telling the truth, but can you blame me for taking advantage of the situation?”

“You’re just lucky I started those anger management classes….” Kyle chuckles as he leans back against the counter.

“I’m your boss, remember? Kicking your boss’ ass is not in your best intere-”

“Oh really? Because frankly, that’s what I was planning to do today – all 300 laps long.” Kyle looks at her intrigued.

“You got to catch me first, princess.” He then glances over at Chase. “Glad to see your feeling a little better and moving around. Anything else happen?” Chase shakes his head no. “That’s good. Did Ricky tell you that he flew back to North Carolin-”

“I sent him actually,” Chase cuts him off. “I’m a grown adult, and I shouldn’t be depending on him for everything. Besides, he has a job to do today at the Meltdown.”

“Good luck to him beating Bubba (Pollard),” Kyle comments before heading out of the trailer.

“You know, it is okay to ask for help sometimes – even being an adult,” Sarina starts as she places her hand on his leg. “Somebody else taught me that. You don’t need to face the world alone and try to carry it on your shoulders. That’s why you have friends, remember?” He nods his head in approval.

“Just promise me that you’re going to beat Kyle today,” he replies and she just laughs back in response. But with a kiss on his lips, he knew the promise was set to be kept.

Or so he thought.

Starting fourth, Kyle quickly proved that he had his stuff together the way he needed it as it wasn’t long before he took the lead. From there, it was a cake walk as he led the rest of the way en route to scoring the victory.

Meanwhile, Sarina was able to put together a strong performance, driving from 12th to the top-three in the first half of the event. She also kept herself in the mix of the front runners, simply letting the laps countdown as she waited to make her move. But with 30 to go, she began to lose a bit of power with a carburetor issue, ultimately ending up fifth.

“Considering the issues you had, I am very proud of how you handled it,” Chase tells her, giving her a kiss afterwards.

“That’s much better than hitting the wall,” she offers and he nods his head in agreement. “Next stop – Daytona. Ready to get the party started?”

“Absolutely. I see a checkered flag destiny in our future.” She smiles as she had no complaints about that – even if nerves would probably consume them both in the process watching each other.

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

Tuesday, February 6 – Hendrick Motorsports

Chase makes his way into the conference room, taking his seat at the long table. Glancing around the room, he couldn’t help but smile. Through the off-season, the meetings had grown quite dry and boring with not a lot to discuss. However, with Speedweeks kicking off that weekend, it was certain that there’d be more topics on-hand this time around.

“So I hear we can’t be kicking you in the leg,” Chad Avrit comments as he sits down beside him. Chase then glances over at the crew member confused.

“Why would you want to kick me anyway?” He wonders as Chad shrugs his shoulders.

“How does one slip on a banana peel in the grandstands and fall down a couple flights of steps?” Chase sighs as he still didn’t have a clear answer, except that someone was up to something as discussed with Kyle, Ricky and Sarina. He had already done the due diligence of mentioning something to the crew members and the media team at Hendrick on Monday. “Is it feeling any better?”

“The swelling has come down and it’s not as sore.” Chase then reaches down, pulling up his pant leg to show his knee to Chad, who immediately squirms a little.

“Dude, that’s every shade of color imaginable!” Chase nods his head in agreement as he puts his pant leg back down. “Least it wasn’t any worse. I mean, I’d take that over having broken ribs like the past two years.” Chase then gives him a look, matching the same one that Ricky got for a similar comment a couple days prior.

“There’s still time between now and Daytona.” Chad immediately freezes up, taking out his phone and going on Google. “What are you doing?”

“Seeing if I can have a human sized bubble wrap body suit shipped over night to stuff you in.” Chase rolls his eyes, but couldn’t help but chuckle in response.

“I think I could bring a big roll in for you tomorrow to wrap him in,” Jared Erspamer comments, and Chad looks over, nodding his head in approval.

“You bring that, I’ll bring the masking tape, and you sir just make sure you’re here,” Chad instructs as Chase just shakes his head in disbelief. How was this actually happening?

“Can I video tape this?” Jared Seate offers as Chase glances down the table his way.

“I thought you said that you’d behave this year,” Chase comments as Jared shrugs his shoulders.

“Now now, Chase, would that any fun if you didn’t have someone to cause trouble?” Chase lets out a sigh, shaking his head no, while also wishing inside that there was not another kind of trouble to deal with. “Besides, I could turn you into a human basketball if we make the shape turn out properly.”

“More like a snowball,” Chad offers as Jared shrugs his shoulders.

“How did we get stuck with this group, Alan?” Chase finally questions as Alan chuckles from the head of the table as he goes through his notes.

“I don’t know,” Alan answers. “Would you like me to see if I can trade them in?”

“Hey!” Everybody lets out together as Alan just chuckles.

“There is an important matter to address before we get started,” Chad begins as he glances at Chase’s hand, picking it up with his own, before setting it down. “Not engaged, yet.”

“Chad, what did I say about the engag-” Alan starts with an eye roll of his own.

“No, I would like to address this, actually,” Chase interrupts, catching the crew chief off-guard. “Guys, I appreciate your compliments and concerns about my love and my personal life. It’s flattering to see how much you care, actually. But, I can assure you, engagement isn’t something that’s happening in the next week, two weeks, or possibly month. Will it happen down the road? Absolutely, but not right now as the time isn’t right. Sarina and I talked about it and we agreed to hold off a bit. So knowing that, I’d appreciate if you guys didn’t ask me every single time I walked into a room with a smile on my face. When the time comes, don’t worry – I’ll gladly tell you.” The crew members nod their head in acceptance, as Chase looked around the room. Seeing their smiles in return, he knew that his words would only hold true for a couple weeks before someone started again.

“The smile just means that he did the wanky doodl-” Jared Seate whispers to Chad.

“I heard that!” Jared glances around Chase, sticking his tongue out. “You know, NASCAR has cut us down from six crew members to five. I could easily rid of you.” Jared then looks back in fear as the rest of the guys laugh.

“Remember I was the one that got Sarin-”

“To call you and reunite,” a couple of the other guys finish it off as Alan and Chase both laugh.

“Can you please get rid of him?” Chad wonders. “He’s annoying!”

“He also doesn’t know when to shut up,” Jared Erspamer adds as Chase chuckles.

“Sorry guys, but he actually is good at his job,” Chase offers as Jared Seate simply smiles in approval. “Now, Alan, please begin this meeting accordingly….”

Following the meeting, Chase retreated back to his office, knowing that Morgan had left him some fan mail that had come in while he was away during the winter. Admittedly, he was caught off-guard by how many packages littered his desk.

“Mr. Popular, huh?” Alan questions, peeking in as Chase sits down, grabbing the first package off the desk.

“It’s insane, really,” Chase answers as he reads over the first note. “It’s almost surreal. I mean, I know how they feel watching the Bulldogs, so to see someone that flattered over me, it just doesn’t seem real…” After reading the note inside, he autographs the item they sent to be signed, before putting it in the new envelope and setting it aside.

“Get used to it. You got a long career to go in this sport, and the fans aren’t going away anytime soon. If anything, the fan base is only going to grow.” Chase knew that, having heard those familiar comments from everyone. But it still didn’t ease the feeling at all.

He continued going through the assortment of packages, signing what needed to be autographed along the way, almost halfway through the stack. As he picked up the next one and ripped it off, it immediately caught him off-guard.

He slowly takes the note out, seeing the same familiar type that was used on the note in the grandstands.

“Glad to see I got your attention,” he reads, causing Alan to glances over curious. Alan had been working in Chase’s office on his laptop, asking a couple questions here and there as he worked through his notes.

“What was that?” Alan wonders as Chase turns the note into a paper airplane, sending it over to Alan. “Wow, not only do you fly real airplanes but you’re a master of paper ones…” Alan picks it up and unfolds it as Chase digs further into the envelope. “Weird…” Alan looks back over as he sees Chase reading something. “What is that?”

“A newspaper article, dated January 2016. It details the plane crash that Sarina and I had.” Alan was now confused as he sets his laptop aside, walking over to the young man’s desk. “Then there’s also a DVD in here…” Alan looks over the case, reading the label.

“It’s a DVD of the security camera footage at the airport.” Chase nods his head, having seen that already as he dispenses the remaining contents on his desk.

“There’s also a full breakdown of how Chris tampered with the engine to cause the cra-”

“What the hell?” Alan picks that piece of paper up, looking it over as his eyes catch Chase’s. “Why would someone send something like this?” A thought immediately came to Chase’s mind as he glanced back to the original note.

“Someone who is trying to mess with me and get in my head. The same person who left me that note in California, and possibly said those comments in the hotel lobby. They could’ve also been responsible for the banana.” Chase looks over the scattered contents on his desk. “It’s someone that’s trying to drive me insane with reminders of what happened, and make me just lose my mind.”

“Clearly they don’t know who they’re messing with….” Chase wanted to feel as confident as Alan made him seem, but he couldn’t echo the same sentiment as quickly as his crew chief.

“This person isn’t just anybody, though. You just don’t come across that DVD footage or the diagram, Alan.” Chase bundles it all up together. “This is someone that has access to everything someho-”

“Allison.” Chase slowly nods his head as he takes a calming deep breath. There was no other person that came to his mind that would even have a chance at accessing this information. “Chase….”

“I don’t get afraid easy. I’m ready to take on anything head on as easily as anybody.  But I can damn well admit to your face today that she scares the crap out of me. She played my weaknesses perfectly the last time that we crossed paths. She knew I wouldn’t turn my back on Sarina, and she knew I’d do anything for you and the guys. You know what happ-”

“That’s not ever going to happen, agai-”

“How do you know that for sure?” Alan takes a deep breath as his eyes locked on the young driver before him.

“Because mark my word, me and this team will do everything in our power to protect you and Sarina, because I am never walking down that path ever again. There is no way. Do you understand me?” Chase nods his head, accepting. “Now, what are you going to do with that?”

“I was going to take it down to Morgan, and then turn it over to campus security.” Alan couldn’t help but agree with the young driver’s initiatives as Chase stood up, stuffing it back in the original envelope.

“Chase, no matter what happens, you can always come to me with your concerns – no matter the time or day.”

“Thank you.” Chase then walks out of the office with everything in hand as Alan takes a deep breath. The crew chief could only shake his head in response.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 30: “Just tell me what’s going on.”

Friday, February 3, 2018 – Winter Showdown – California

Chase takes a deep breath as he waits for Ricky to come out of the airport.

He had told Sarina that morning that Ricky had changed his mind, deciding to come out and watch that weekend’s event despite not being up to anything. He wasn’t about to speak about everything – still fearing that he was making a big deal out of nothing, and not wanting to scare her. He did warn her not once, but twice, before leaving to be careful. Though knowing she’d be busy with practice and surrounded by the team, it also gave him that extra security.

He watches as the back door opens, instantly looking back as he watches Ricky throw a bag in. He then smiles as Ricky gets in the passenger seat beside them, and they head out.

“How was your flight out?” Chase wonders as Ricky glances over.

“Not bad, considering it was a last minute deal,” Ricky answers as Chase nods his head. There were no words to express his appreciation.

“Listen, I really appreciate you coming out. Whatever I owe you, just tell me and I’ll pay ya back for su-”

“Just tell me what’s going on.” Chase takes a deep breath as they sit at the stop light, tapping his fingers on the wheel.

“I don’t know if it’s coincidence, de ja vu, someone just trying to mess with my head – or something is really goi-”

“Chase, I can’t tell you my take and help you if you don’t just tell me. Spit it out, man!” Seeing Chase nervous about talking about something with him, Ricky could already sense it was probably more than Chase was trying to make it out to be.

“I went up to the grandstands to watch practice yesterday, and there was a folded up piece of paper with my name on it. I opened it and there were some of Chris’ most memorable lines written on it.” Ricky then glances over a little confused. “Now, these lines everybody would know because I said them as part of my court testimony – they were the lines that I told you I’d never forge-”

“They’ll just take me away, and try to help me, but they won’t be able to like those times before?” Chase’s grip on the steering wheel increases a little as he nods his head. “Alright, take a deep breath…” Ricky glances out the window as he lets out a sigh. “So you’re thinking someone knew you’d go up there because that’s what you always do, and left the note to screw with you. Frankly, their plan is working because you froze up as soon as I said those words out loud. But obviously, I can see why you’d think it may be more.”

“It’s not the only thing that happened, either. I went to get ice last night – and the ice machine on my floor was not working. So I went down to the main floor, and I could hear a bunch of girls talking. Some of the words they said took me right back to the Hooters Pageant when I met Allison for the first time. I peaked and got a glimpse of them all, but I didn’t recognize her.” Ricky slowly nods his head as he sits back in the seat. “Now, it could be coincidence because those are just common words. But if you combine both of those togeth-”

“I can understand you’re freaked out. Now, have you told Sarina?” Chase shakes his head no. “Of course not. Have you told Kyle?” Chase shakes his head once again. “Why not?”

“Because what if I’m making a big deal out of noth-”

“But what if something is going on? It’s always better to safe than sorry, and the more eyes you have on the situation, the better. Secondly, if they could possibly be out for Sarina, it’d be best if she knew what was going on so she could be on the look-out for odd situations. You always talk about how you guys trust each other about anything, and you’re proud that she’s gotten to the point she can tell you stuff. Well buddy, it’s time for you to reciprocate that behavior.” Chase lets out a sigh as he turns the corner.

“Are you mad that I just called you instead?” Ricky shakes his head no.

“Actually, I’m glad that you called me – so that way I can help you deal with this properly. The only way to handle it is to be deal with it, right?” Chase nods his head. “When we get to the track, let’s watch practice and then tell both Sarina and Kyl-”

“Right before qualifying? Do you really want to throw off their game?” Ricky lets out a sigh as he looks over at Chase.

“What’s more important? Starting well tomorrow or their life? You decide.”

After parking in the lot and getting Ricky’s pass for the weekend, the pair made their way into the track grounds. With having arrived after the first practice started, it was an easy decision to watch the session from the grandstands.

A keen eye on both ends of the speedway, the pair watched each car make laps carefully, glancing at the tires as they came out to see if they were a sticker set, while checking handling through the middle of the corner. With each lap being made, certain things were pointed out by both – including a little slide form one driver, to how it appeared another got stronger with each lap put in the books.

As the session neared conclusion, Chase pulled out his phone, loading the live lap times to see where everybody stood.

“Gonna take a bet she was making qualifying runs?” Ricky questions as he takes his off the speedway and looks over. Chase looks over, with a nod and a smile.

“Top of the board!” He lets out as Ricky just shakes his head in return.

“That doesn’t surprise me at all…..”

“The boss was 15th quickest in race trim.” Ricky nods his head in response, as Kyle had looked nice and smooth through both of his laps.

“Now, are you ready to tell them?” Chase looks over, caught off-guard by the comment.

“I thought you said after practi-”

“I didn’t necessarily say after both sessions, and do I need to repeat my question for you?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks out at the track. “If you don’t want to tell them, I will gladly do it for you. But, it will sound better coming from you – especially to Sarina, because she’ll see another layer of that trust you have together.” He knew he would do anything for and protect to her, and he knew he couldn’t keep putting this off.

“Alright, fine.” Chase then begins making his way down the stairs, with Ricky in toe. Eyes focused forward, he didn’t notice the banana that was slid out onto the step, with his foot landing on it. As soon as it did, it flung forward, sending him back on his ass, before sliding down the remaining steps. “Fuck!”

“Chase!” Ricky lets out, hurrying down afterwards, though taking glances in both directions to see if there was a source of where it came from. “Chase? Are you okay?”

“Sore…” Ricky holds out a hand, helping him up as a couple security officials make their way over. “I’m okay….” He then goes to take a step away from them, though a pain shoots up through his leg, causing him to almost fall – with Ricky grabbing him from behind in the process.

“Easy…..” Ricky slowly sets him down on the bench, while taking another glance around. Suddenly, the idea of coincidence didn’t sit well with him.

After consulting with the security officials and medical staff, they made it clear that they’d keep a watch out for anybody causing trouble, and make sure garbage was picked up efficiently. Although his knee was pretty sore, and hard to stand on right now, it wasn’t believed to be broken. They released him, with the promise to take care of himself and get checked out later if needed.

Ricky carefully helps him through the crossover gate and across the track, before they make their way over to Sarina’s hauler. Ricky finds a chair, sitting him down in it, before getting another to put his leg up.

“What happened?” Sarina asks as she walks over, arms crossed, though feeling every bit of concern.

“Do you have any ice?” Ricky questions, not even paying attention to her concern. Kyle, having witnessed Ricky taking care of him, had already grabbed a small plastic bag, and put a couple cubes in it from the cooler, bringing it over.

“So now we can’t balance on our own two feet?” Kyle questions as Chase glances up at him. “How do we trust you to drive a racecar if you can’t walk straight?” Chase just rolls his eyes in response as Ricky crosses his arms. “Why do I have a bad feeling about this looking between you both?”

“Because your jokes are falling on deaf ears right now.” Kyle looks between them intrigued, before focusing his eyes on Chase. “This wasn’t just a simple stumble, and I think something may goin-”

“Ricky!” Chase cuts him off as it was now Ricky’s turn to be surprised at him.

“You just fell down the grandstands because of a banana peel and you want to pretend nothing is going on?” Ricky questions, now catching more intrigue from Kyle and Sarina. “Okay, that’s fine. It’s your decision after all.”

“What the hell is going on?” Sarina now wonders, arms crossed as she looks between the pair.

Unable to lie to her straight in the face, Chase went through describing everything that had happened in the past 24 hours, and the reason for calling Ricky.

“So you were afraid to tell me?” Sarina questions, having come to her own realization as Chase lets out a sigh.

“I was thinking I may have been over-reacting, and I didn’t want you to worry if I was,” Chase answers as she nods her head, accepting.

“So trying to save me from worrying is better than protecting your ass from something happening? Okay, that makes sense.” Chase glances down at the ground.

“I screwed up, okay? I let my own fear and worry of your reaction and not wanting to hurt you stand in the way of probably doing the right thing. instead of going to you, I went to Ricky. I get that it hurts and stings and whatever because of our trust together, but I promise you that I love you and trust you. I just….” Chase takes a deep breath as he focuses on her. “I know how much everything has hurt you. I know how much everything that happened upset you and how emotionally trying it has been. I didn’t want you to suffer more.”

“Chase, what matters to me most of all is that we’re both safe and okay. I will suffer through whatever I need to emotionally to damn well make sure that you’re okay. I mean, look at what you did for me. It’s only the tip of the iceberg in paying you bac-”

“You don’t nee-”

“I don’t care what you say, but I will forever be grateful for everything that you’ve done for me, been through for us, and will always want to give that back to you in return.” She then leans down, kissing his lips. “I love you, I care about you, and nothing will change that.”

“I love you, too.” He then pulls her close, kissing her lips back in return, before she sits down beside him.

“Alright, before you both get too lovey gushy, who could be behind this – if it’s not a coincidence?” Kyle interrupts, grabbing everyone’s attention. They hadn’t expected him to come out with the comment of the day.

“Chris and Bethany are both in jail, which leaves Allison,” Ricky answers as Kyle crosses his arms.

“She was let loose with nothing?” Both Chase and Sarina nod their heads in return. Chase then takes his phone back out, seeing the cracked screen now from the fall.

“Second year in a row here I’ve done that,” he comments, unlocking it anyway. He then goes into his images, pulling up one in particular, before handing it over to Kyle.

“I’m not a genius,” Kyle starts as he hands the phone back. “What the hell am I supposed to see behind the spider web?”

“Restraining order. If I see her anywhere near me, I have the choice to get her arres-”

“Given the events, that shouldn’t be a choice anymore.” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“There’s also Shelley,” Sarina states as everybody looks towards her. “She didn’t seem too happy either time we spoke to her. I mean, she isn’t the type to do anything – but you just never know. What if she plans to torment us until we let Chris go?”

“There’s no way I’m agre-” Chase starts as Sarina places a hand carefully on his leg.

“I didn’t say we were going to agree to those terms, if that’s the case. I don’t believe it because that’s not her, anyway.”

“Regardless, we should all promise to be extra careful and just keep an eye out, okay?” Kyle offers and everybody nods their head in return. “And Chase, when the ice melts, there’s more in the cooler so feel free to steal some.”

“Thanks,” Chase comments as he glances down at his knee, seeing some swelling already there.

“Least you didn’t break your ribs this year,” Ricky offers as Chase glances over at him. “Too soon?” Chase simply flips the bird in return as Ricky laughs. “So no talk of tungsten or ribs – got it.”

“I still like you, but that could change….” Ricky chuckles as he kneels down to Chase’s level.

“Face it – there’s only a few that will put up with you. It’s in your best interest to keep me around.” Ricky then takes out his phone, glancing over a message, sending one back in response. “Besides, I could’ve been at the Winter Meltdown tomorrow, but instead I am here.”

“Wait – you were supposed to be at the Meltdown and I pulled you away from that?” Ricky nods his head. “Dude, why didn’t you tell me? You didn’t have to come dow-”

“Who would’ve been here to convince you to do the right thing? Who would’ve helped you when you fell?” Chase lets out a sigh.

“But you still didn’t need to drop everything for me. I mean, your new deal is more importan-”

“Your life or racing – what’s bigger? Besides, once I explained things over, they’ll understood so it’s not a problem at all. Just excuse me if you see me texting a lot of tips over the phone all day.” Chase sits back in the chair as he shakes his head.

“You didn’t have to do this for me, Ricky, really, but thank you. It means a lot to me.” Ricky looks over with a smile.

“I told you that I always have your back and I would do anything for you. That’s not gonna change – ever.”

For the rest of the day, Chase chilled out in the chair, icing his knee off and on while keeping a close eye on the on-track action. Thankfully, nothing else strange occurred either.

The second practice went smoothly with Kyle topping the charts, with Sarina mid-pack due to working on getting the car comfortable for the long green flag runs. While they never got it exactly perfect, it was better than when they started by the end of the session and she felt confident going into tomorrow’s main event.

The qualifying session to finish the day also brought smiles, as she qualified 11th with the boss up in fourth. It wasn’t the top-10 start they envisioned, but it was something to work with for 300 laps.

Despite his pleas, Kyle and Ricky both made certain that Chase did get his knee checked out, having seen the swelling. Thankfully, it was nothing too serious – nothing broken, and would simply heal over the next couple of days with rest, heat and ice.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of him tonight,” Sarina comments as she lays on the bed beside him. Kyle and Ricky had helped them back to the room, wanting to make sure they were safe and careful.

“I don’t wanna know!” Ricky immediately lets out as he hurries out of the room to a simple eye roll from Sarina.

“Just remember that gloves are important at all times,” Kyle adds with a wink before following Ricky out.

“Can you believe them?” She questions as Chase just lets out a sigh. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m okay, as long as I have you by my side,” he comments, as she gets comfortable beside him.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 29: California Bound

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The blond crosses her arms, with a big smile forming on her face as she watches the fellow person lean against the wall.

“So you know everything from that time?” She hears and simply nods her head in return.

“I was right in the midst involved,” the blond reveals. “I played quite the role too, almost breaking them up. It’s just too bad that they hadn’t bought the e-mail, or accepted the offer. Instead, the blink of death could be seen. Needless to say, I know everything. I also have spoken with both on a limited basi-”

“I thought they weren’t allowed visitors.” The blond smiles as she leans back in the chair.

“I have my ways. I am a genius after all. I mean, I did play the perfect role to get off of the charges, right?” She watches as the person leans against the counter top.

“It’s clear that you’re a conniving little bitch, taking advantage of Chris’ condition to play out what Bethany wanted for your own advantage. What happens if your plan is spoiled?” The blond immediately laughs as she rubs her hands together.

“You wouldn’t out me, Shelley Dryer, because then you’d ruin the perfect plan that’s in mind – which will actually be what you want in the end. Don’t you want to see Chris be released?” She watches a face of confusion meet her back in response.

“What do you have in mind?”

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

Thursday, February 1, 2018 – Kern County Speedway

Sarina leans back against the car as they stand in tech lane prior to practice later on that day.

Unlike last week, they had got out of North Carolina in a timely fashion and were able to arrive at the track early, set to take full advantage of the ample practice time. Being Sarina’s first KBM Late Model race of the year, she knew she had to leave a good impression. Besides, it’d be the best way to put last week’s disappointment behind her.

“There’s something odd about this situation,” Sarina hears as she watches Kyle walk over with Brexton in his arms. She could only imagine what was on his mind. “I mean, you in a firesuit with a racecar – that’s no surprise.” He then turns to Chase. “But yet, you’re here, no firesuit, no racecar. I also haven’t seen Ricky walking around either.”

“And that seems odd?” Chase questions, caught a little off-guard by the comments. Sarina, meanwhile, had immediately focused in on Brexton, making faces at him which caused him to laugh.

“Given the news that came out the past couple weeks, wouldn’t you agree?” Chase couldn’t help but nod his head accepting. Admittedly, he had talked about coming out to possibly shake the rust off ahead of the season with this race, but last week’s events put a wrench in those plans.

“Ricky’s plans for this year with his new team are totally up to him, when it comes to what races they’re going to run. I guess they decided to forego running this and wait a couple wee-”

“You’d think Chandler would want to come stand up for himself at this end of the country after winning Speedfest, though.” Chase nods his head in agreement, as he was caught off-guard not seeing Chandler Smith on the entry list.

“You could say the same for Bubba Pollard, too.” Kyle crosses his arms – with Sarina having taken Brexton out of his arms – as he glances through the cars lined up in tech,

“Really, there’s a lot of talent here – but there’s so many faces missing. And obviously, I know why you didn’t bring a car here anyway…” Chase lets out a sigh as Sarina glances over.

“That wasn’t my faul-”

“I didn’t say it was!” Kyle immediately cuts her off as he puts his hands up in the air. “It just answers my question.” Kyle then glances over towards the line-up, resuming his previous pose. “Preston….”

“He’s got a lot of talent,” Chase comments. “I was watching him closely last week and he equals the expectations. It’s not just luck. He has the speed in the car, but the talent to know what to do with it. Chris didn’t give him any breaks. If you want someone to keep an eye on, that’s where my eyes will be – him and Majeski.”

“You can never count out Majeski.” Chase nods his head in agreement. “So, I hear you’re running the ARCA race at Daytona…”

“What?” Chase then looks over at Sarina confused, as she looks over at them. “When was that revealed?”

“Did I speak too soon? I mean, I saw the press release so I thought it was an open discussion…” Sarina shakes her head as she lets out a sigh.

“The deal just came together on Monday,” she reveals. “I meant to say something – but it got lost in discussion. I’m running it so I can get some more drafting experience.” Chase couldn’t help but shiver at the thought, considering how her last restrictor plate ARCA event went. “Is there a problem?”

“Absolutely not,” Chase offers as he flashes a smile her way.

“So, everything is good in paradise?” Kyle questions as he looks between them.

“I don’t see any problems. Do you, Sarina?” Sarina shakes her head no. “Yep, everything is good.” Kyle couldn’t help but smile.

“That’s good. Now, can I have little man back?” Sarina pouts a little as she hands Brexton back over to Kyle. “You can play with Sarina later – I promise. But Mommy will be here soon since daddy and Sarina have work to do.”

“Racecar!” Brexton says as he points the car and Kyle nods his head.

“He’s just so adorable,” Sarina comments as she leans back against the car once again.

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

Halfway through the practice, Chase makes his way to the top of the grandstands, stopwatch in hand. With a full view of speedway, his eyes immediately traced over the various cars. He watched Sarina for a while, before watching Kyle, Preston, Ty, and a couple of the others. His mind immediately began to pick up on spots where he believed both Sarina and Kyle could be better, but spots where they were certainly stronger in return.

Taking his phone out of his pocket, he sends a text message to Rudy Fugle with some of the notes in mind, smiling back in the response that he appreciated the feedback. He may not be set to contend himself, but he was going to give his girl the best opportunity to succeed.

He was set to head down the steps to grab a drink during the quick break, when he noticed a piece of paper. A little confused, he reaches over and picks it up. It only increased his confusion as he saw his name written on the piece of paper.

“That’s strange,” he comments, wondering if it had fallen out of his pocket by accident. But then again, he never had anything in his pockets before.

Sitting down, he slowly unfolds the piece of paper, revealing the typed up note inside.

“I knew that I’d get caught,” he reads the words out loud. “But that’s okay – they’ll just take me to the hospital….and….try to….fix….me.” Chase swallows the lump that had formed in his throat, taking a deep breath. “They’ll fail like they have every other time. So I figured I’d make your trip out here memorable. After all, you were the one who broke my sister’s heart, and ultimately broke this family.”

Closing his eyes, taking a deep breath, the words immediately transported him back to a year ago, as he could picture Chris standing there right before him, spewing word after word. He immediately opens his eyes, double checking there was nobody around that resembled Chris’ description, or anybody else that he had ever come across.

“What am I doing?” He finally comments to himself as he looks back at the note. “Everybody knows what he said. Anybody could’ve done this. Good try, but whoever you are, the plan is not going to work.”

Figuring it was just someone messing with him – knowing his usual practice, he tosses it aside before going about his day as normal.

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

Sarina glances up at the chart following the three and a half hour practice session, letting out a sigh. it wasn’t the best feeling sitting 19th on the chart, but she had to chuckle at being faster than the boss.

“We didn’t do a qualifying run,” Rudy comments as he walks over. “A lot of teams did qualifying runs. Once we put on those sticker tires tomorrow, we’re going to be fine.” She nods her head, accepting. It was the same situation that they found themselves in at the Snowball in December.

“Let’s just make sure that we start the race where we need to be so I can make moves when it counts,” she offers and Rudy nods his head in agreement.

“I know. We have 30,000 reasons to win tomorrow.” She smiles back in response as he walks away. Chase then wraps his arms around her, lying his head on her shoulder.

“You know, it’d be fun in victory lane if they’d shower you in $1 bills.” He chuckles, almost shaking his head in response.

“Would you like to sit around and pick up that many bills afterwards?” He questions as she thinks it over, chuckling to herself now.

“Maybe $100 bills instead?” She offers as he just lets out a sigh. “Actually, I don’t care what it pays. All that matters is the trophy, being able to say that I can beat the best – east or west coast.” He rubs her shoulders as he kisses her cheek.

“You’re going to be fine tomorrow. Just take a deep breath, relax, and focus. You have the right team around you and you’re talented beyond words. You’ll be fine.” She knew that, and spinning around to face him, her confidence matched the smile on her face.

“I don’t have a single worry on my mind. that’s why, as my treat tonight, I would like to take my man out for a nice date.” He then looks at her a little surprised.

“Shouldn’t it be the other way around?” She knew that was typically the case, but certainly not the plan for that night.

“You’re always doing stuff for me, but you deserve to be taken care of just as much in return – if not more. Like I told you last night, I will do anything for you. So tonight, let me take care of you.” He smiles, kissing her lips.

“Lead the way…”

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

After a nice night out together, the pair retreated back to the hotel together, laying down watching movies. Chase got up, grabbing a pair of drinks out of the fridge. Noticing they hadn’t gotten cold yet, he lets out a sigh as he looks at the ice bucket.

“I’m going to get some ice,” he comments and Sarina simply nods her head in response. “Do you want anything else?” She shakes her head no.

“Just make sure you hurry back,” she replies, blowing him a kiss as he just smiles in response.

He grabs the hotel key off of the desk, tucking it in his pocket, before heading out of the room. He makes his way down the short walk way, pressing the button to dispense some ice. Though to his surprise, nothing came out. Letting out a sigh, it meant that the trip was going to be longer than warranted. He made his way to the elevator, taking the ride down to the first level. He goes to the ice machine there, pressing it as he watches the frozen cubes begin to dispense.

“A couple of us are going to hang out in the pool,” he hears as he stands there. “Do you want to join us?” He immediately looks towards the source, seeing a bunch of ladies hanging out in the lobby together. Though it wasn’t why it caught his attention as those words were very familiar in tone and question. Where had he heard those before? “I mean, it’s okay to flirt and hang out; nobody will say anything.”

As he goes to walk away from the ice machine, his feet almost freeze in place as the words came to him immediately. The first phrase was exact, while the second had been adjusted slightly. He knew where those words came from.

“Alison,” he says to himself, remembering that night as part of the Hooters Pageant week. It was when she had entered their lives, and attempted to destroy them piece by piece.

He remembered her words and how she never meant anything, and how she promised to stay away. But that moment, he began questioning everything all over again. He then glances around the corner a little more, trying to catch a glimpse of the girls together – seeing if he recognized one of them.

“It’s okay to not have any fun,” he hears as his eyes scan over every single person. “We know the girl has you whipped into shape.”

“De ja vu?” He questions himself as those words seemed very familiar, as well. but another scan over the room, and nobody fit any descriptions.

Rubbing his eyes, putting it to the fact that he was probably needed sleep, chalking it up to coincidence, he makes his way to the elevator, and climbs on. Leaning back against the wall, he lets out a sigh as he thinks back to the note, before replaying everything that happened in the lobby over and over in his mind.

“It’s nothing,” he tells himself once again as he takes out his phone. “You’re just overreacting. It’s nothing. Everybody knows what Chris said, and those words could be said by anybody. Plus, how was she supposed to know that the ice machine…wouldn’t be working…on your floor?”

As the elevator reaches his floor and he climbs off, his fingers immediately quickly scanned through his phone, bringing up a very familiar number.

“Hey Chase,” he hears on the other end shortly after hitting it. He takes a deep breath, trying to reason it’s all coincidence and there’s nothing to worry about. But just in case, this conversation was necessary.

“Hey Ricky,” he replies. “How soon can you get to California? I’ll pay your flight, just get out here please.”

“What’s going on Chase?” Chase pauses as he reaches his hotel room, taking the room key out of his pocket.

“I don’t know yet. It could be a simple case of de ja vu, coincidence, or something could be goin-”

“I’ll be there in the morning. Flight is already booked.” Closing his eyes, Ricky was immediately transported back to a year ago when everything happened, remembering clear as day as he sat in the hospital room alongside him, talking about things. He wondered if it was simply nerves, or fear, or reminders playing with Chase – but he wasn’t about to take any chances.

“Thanks man. See ya then. I owe you.”

“I always have your back. Bye Chase.”

“Bye Ricky.” Chase places the phone back in his pocket, entering the room and shutting the door behind him.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 20: “I don’t need babying!”

Sunday, January 20 – North Carolina

After the busy day spent at the NASCAR Hall of Fame for the past two nights, it was actually nice to be able to put her feet up and relax once again on a Sunday afternoon. She wasn’t about to take these afternoons for granted, given that race season was set to kick off shortly.

Glancing at the calendar, she knew everything began next weekend with a trip to Cordele, Georgia for Speedfest. After the frustrations of the Snowball Derby, she couldn’t wait for a chance to redeem herself in the late model.

She pulled out her phone, texting Marcus a note of interest, knowing that they’d want to have things finalized before the car got loaded. She was actually surprised last week’s seat fitting hadn’t included some time sitting in the late model, too.

Her brows fused together at the text in response, though, as she sat up.

“You’re kidding me, right?” She questions out loud, catching Chase’s attention away from the game he was playing. He paused it, confused.

“Do I want to know?” He wonders, immediately thinking to Chris based on the past couple of days.

“Kyle is only fielding a late model for Raphael (Lassard) for Speedfest,” she informs him. “My effort was shelfed. Marcus thought he told me already, hence a lack of questions.” Chase knew the lack of questions wasn’t totally for no fault, given the plenty of other things occupying her mind lately. However, it did feel weird to not hear much discussion just a week away.

“I thought you and Kyle were cool….” She immediately begins to dial Kyle’s number as Chase places a hand on top of hers. “Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and calm down before you hit dial. Remember he gave you a chance and he has done a lot for you.” She follows the instructions, reluctantly, before dialing Kyle’s number.

“Hello?” She hears immediately as her eyes remained locked on Chase, who is full on giving her reminders to stay calm.

“Hey Kyle,” she says as calmly as she can manage. “It’s Sarina. I have a question for you.” Chase nods his head in approval, seeing that his suggestions were being taken to heart – so far.

“What’s up?” She could almost cross her arms, and go into furious mode at what she was feeling. Why wasn’t she notified? Why was she just finding out now? And why was this happening as a whole?

“I thought I was running Speedfest next weekend – until I talked to Marcus today, and found out that you cancelled the effort.” Chase nods his head once again, glad that she hadn’t flipped on him – yet.

“Oh crap, I meant to call you before I left to go away, but was caught up in making sure we had everything. With what happened at the end of the year, I cancelled all of the pre-season late model events so you could have as much time as you needed to relax, take care of yourself, and handle what’s going on.” The concern was appreciated. It was nice to know that Kyle cared about her enough to do that. However, it still didn’t erase her frustration.

“Well, I can let you know that I am fully healed physically and have been for awhile now. Like I said to Marcus at the shop and I will say to you, I don’t need babying. I am perfectly fine and can take care of myself. Everything healed accordingly, per the doctor, and I am set to return to life as normal. Can I please get that respect from you?” In her eyes, she didn’t want to be treated differently. It was the same as having a simple surgery, or coming down with a disease. Why did everyone have to make a big deal about it? Besides, she didn’t need Kyle becoming overbearing and others catching signs, and then getting curious about what happened.

“I understand your perspective fully. I was just looking out for you, and didn’t know whether you’d be good to go in time. I didn’t want to have to shift plans at the last minute and mess up the guys. I was looking at it from an overall perspective.” She takes a deep breath, once again appreciating the concern, but certainly not removing her anger. She was set to get back to the grind, enjoy some late model racing before getting in the truck, having some fun. Now what was she going to do?

“So is Kern County off the table, too?” Chase knew he could deal without the trip out to California, having strong memories of last year’s incident before the race even happened. But taking a deep breath, he knew he couldn’t play the guilty association game.

“I had cancelled that event, but we’re far enough out that it is back on the card for you. I will let the guys know on Monday.” She smiles, glad that everything wasn’t thrown away.

“Thank you, Kyle. I’m sorry if I came on a little strong. It’s just I was frustrated and caught off-guard when Marcus told me.”

“I understand. I should’ve told you like I had planned, and I apologize. It’s great to see you both doing so well.” Sarina glances over at Chase, flashing a smile.

“Yeah, it is a nice change of pace actually.” She just hoped it stayed that way with the Shelley situation in the back of her mind.

“Well, don’t mess it up. Go enjoy these couple of weeks with Chase before your schedule gets busy. I’ll talk to you later. Goodbye Sarina.”

“Bye Kyle.” She hangs up, setting the phone on the table as she lets out a long sigh. “I didn’t kill him, yell at him, or threaten him. I listened.”

“I know, and I’m proud of you,” Chase comments, leaning over and stealing a kiss. “But just because I made the comment about the ang-”

“Don’t sugarcoa-”

“I’m not!” He sets the controller down, scooting closer to her on the couch. “I was just going to say that we don’t need to make a big deal over every situation that happens. We don’t need to focus on your behavior and reactions. Feelings and emotions, yeah I want to know those so I can help you feel better. But other than that, we don’t need to go crazy. We just need to quietly handle.” She then reaches into her jean pocket, pulling out a card and placing it in his hand.

“I was talking with a fellow crew member and he mentioned something about how he was going to be late on Monday due to having a psychologist appointment. I didn’t mean to intrude, but I asked him what about and he mentioned some emotional stability issues. I then asked if I could have the psychologist’s card so I could schedule an appointment as I was looking into possible anger management. After joking about my anger handling abilities, he handed it over.” Chase picks it up, reading over the name and number, before handing it back to her.

“That’s good. I’m glad that you’re being proactive. Just keep at it and everything will come together.” He then reaches to grab the controller to unpause the game, but she places her hand on top of his.

“You know, they said that we had to wait four to six weeks before we could have sex again. I’m not racing next weekend, so I’d be open for a special night for two together.” Chase then looks over at her intrigued.

“That just came out of nowhere…” She chuckles as she lays back on the couch.

“I’ve been thinking about it for awhile actually. I miss those special, close moments. I miss showing you how much I love you, care about you, and want to be with you. I miss touching every inch of you – even if you may taste a little digus-”

“Hey!” She then laughs as he throws a pillow at her. “You’re no better sometimes.”

“We need to agree to not do anything while we’re super sweaty after races – no matter how excited.” He chuckles in agreement. “But really, I’m serious about this. There’s sometimes I just want to reach for you, pull you close, and strip everything down. I have no shame in saying that I have a good thirst for a Georgia peach.” Chase rolls his eyes.

“What about your fears of repeating what happened?” She then pauses, taking a deep breath, having thought about that, as well.

“I will admit that I was originally scared – but you can’t let fear drive your life, and like the doctor and Samantha both said, it was a small chance of probability and we hit the lottery. If we take the right steps, from changing condom brands to the new birth control pills that I am supposed to be taking, I have every faith in what we’re going to do.” He nods his head, accepting, as he keeps his eyes locked on her. He knew that the questions wouldn’t end there, though, as he didn’t want any regrets down the road.

“What if you get pregnant again, by chance?” She glances down, knowing that he was definitely covering all his bases and she respected that.

“What do you thin-”

“I’m not the one who would have to give up racing mid-season if that happens. But I will say if it did, I would support you completely and fully, and be right by your side for whatever happened.” She smiles, glad that they could equally state the fact that they’d never leave each other again.

“It’s the chance that I am willing to take to be with you, because I can’t do this for an entire year. I know they say absence makes the heart fonder, but damn my heart can’t take that.” He smiles as he lays on top of her, kissing her lips.

“I’m glad, because I don’t think I could stand to keep my paws to myself, either.” She smiles back in return as she runs her fingers up underneath the edges of his shirt.

“Can I ask you a question now?” He nods his head, accepting, before laying his head on her chest. “Did you ever think about being a father?”

“I can’t say that I did, honestly. I was focused on so many other things that I never paused to think about being a dad.” He then glances up at her as she thinks it over.

“What about now? Do you want kids, someday?” He thinks it over, as he lets out a sigh. He didn’t realize they were going to lead right into this discussion that night.

“I still haven’t given it a lot of thought. If you wanted to have kids of our own, I would fully be there ready to be a father – but it’s not a deal breaker for me.” He then looks back at her. “As long as I’m with you and you’re happy, then I’m fin-”

“What did I say about sugarcoating shit?” He gives an instant look of shock. “Stop trying to solely make me happy, and tell me what you want for once.”

“I am telling you what I want, completely and honestly. I’m fine either way.” She nods her head, accepting, as he lays his head back against her. “I can’t deny that I was torn apart and broken in hearing that you had suffered a miscarriage. Whether we knew or not, that’s a life, a piece of us just gone like that. I admit that I had more emotions than I even let on for you, because my focus towards you was taking care of yo-”

“And I told you what I thought about that, right?” He nods his head, accepting.

“I know, but at the time, that’s what I thought was the right thing to do. That’s why Samantha really became my person to vent to because I needed to get it out, but I didn’t want to blow your world further apart. No doubt it was tough, it was emotional, and even discussing it now it still stings. But whatever happens moving forward, whether we have kids or not, it doesn’t matter to me.” She then runs her hands through his hair.

“I never thought about being a mother before. I never imagined my life in that way before. I guess you could say that I was focused solely on survival, everything I was going through, moving forward. Besides, who would want to be a mother when you’ve seen what I’ve seen? I didn’t want to be my parents, either.” She then takes a deep breath as she continues making swirls in his hair with her fingers. “But, I can admit that’s changed. Going through this whole experience, pondering different topics, I can say that I would like to be a mother one day. I would like to have a little daughter or son of my own. I want that little piece of me and you to take care of. Now, I don’t want that today or maybe in the next month – really, maybe not even the next couple of years. Right now, my focus is solely on my career. I want to make the most of this opportunity with KBM and establish myself as someone who can win races, and championships. Maybe I even want to move up to that next level and see what I can do there. I keep pondering this, and sometimes I keep saying to myself in three, five, or maybe even eight years, I will take a year off and have a baby of my own. Then after that, I’ll find my way back and show that I can raise a child while kicking some ass at the same time.”

“If anybody can do that, it’s certainly you because you’re absolutely amazing. I think you’d make a great mother, too, after what you did yesterday. I actually found myself daydreaming about you and I having a family together, and how you’d be settling the sibling diff-”

“Sibling? You day-dreamed two children?” He nods his head. “What were they?”

“A boy and girl, two years apart.” She smiles to herself as she closes her eyes, seeing the image in her own mind. “Sarina, no matter how long you want to wait, whether three or eight years, I’ll be willing to do that for you. You deserve a chance at this first, and I know you’re going to make it – beginning with a championship this year.” She then lets out a laugh.

“No pressure, huh? You sound like everybody else out there.” He had seen the pre-season predictions. Everybody had Sarina near the top of the heap simply based on her limited success last year, and the way Kyle Busch Motorsports typically grew drivers.

“But unlike them, I believe it more than just on paper. I’ve seen your talent behind the wheel. Heck, I hired you to drive my late model. I know you can do it so that’s why I’m saying it. But win or lose, I’ll be here, too.” She smiles as she glances down at him.

“Just like I’ll be here no matter what, but I know you’ll get that first career win this year, and I’ll be right there ready to celebrate in victory lane. It’s time to #di9 boy.” He then smiles, seeing how she had gotten back to the perfect use of the hashtag already.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 7: New Year’s Party

December 31, 2017 – Charlotte, North Carolina

Chase walks down the stairs, stopping as he reaches the last stop and taking a pause as his eyes set on her. He just shakes his head as he walks over.

“You look absolutely amazing,” he compliments her as she just flashes a quick smile at him.

“Thanks,” she replies. As discussed, she was adorning her cowboy boots and matching jacket, combined with a white t-shirt and blue jeans. Despite the color of the t-shirt, the snowball around her neck still glowed like always. “You look good, as well.”

“I didn’t want to overdress you.” She then takes a deep breath as she looks back in the mirror once again. “Still not feeling that well?”

“Not really…” He then wraps his arms around her waist, holding her close.

“We can stay in if you’re not feeling that well and just have our own quiet celebration. We don’t have to go-”

“I’ll be fin-”

“You’re not going to enjoy yourself if you’re not feeling good.” She then takes a deep breath, thinking it over, before turning around to face him.

“It’s not that bad anyway. I’ll just take it easy, but trust me – I’ll be fine. Besides, it’ll be fun to meet up with everybody.” He smiles, kissing her lips.

It was a short drive over to Kyle and Samantha’s place, and Chase was the pure gentleman the whole way. After parking, he walked around and opened the door for her, holding his hand out to help her, before leading the way up to the house together.

“You guys are just so adorable!” Samantha lets out as she had been standing in the doorway watching them the whole way. She then gives them both a hug, as Sarina’s necklace catches her attention. “Help yourself to some drinks. Kyle is already in there talking up a storm.” Chase nods his head as he goes inside. Sarina goes to follow, but Samantha stops her. “Can I see that necklace up close, please?”

“Oh, this?” Sarina offers as she holds out the snowball away from her neck so Samantha can take a closer look. “Chase got it for me while we were in Florida for our anniversary.”

“It’s perfect.” Samantha then glances at the bracelet, taking Sarina’s hand with her own and having a closer look. “I love the bracelet, too. Both of these just fit you perfectly. He knows his girl well…” Sarina nods her head in agreement, watching Chase over Samantha’s shoulder. “There’s no other jewelry that I need to be concerned about, right?”

“Nope, just those two things – but it was a very sweet Christmas. By the way, I love your wedding photos that you’ve been sharing all day. They’re absolutely amazing. Kyle certainly gave you the wedding of your dreams.” Samantha beams in glory, nodding her head.

“He always makes me feel like a true princess. Everybody focuses on his negativity and roughness at the track, but when it’s just us, he makes me feel amazing, special, like his whole world.” Sarina smiles as she could relate with her and Chase. “Alright, enough chit chatter, let’s have some fun…..”

As the night went on, the pair found themselves amerced in all the fun. They caught up with Kyle and Christopher, before enjoying some dancing together amongst the crowd. Kyle had also invited other drivers, which led to more fun conversation during the night – including Cole Rouse wondering what Sarina’s late model plans consisted of for the new year on top of her truck series schedule.

The pair managed to get separated at some point, and Sarina was hating that feeling as the sickness she was feeling earlier began to grow some, along with a bit of stomach pain.

“Excuse me,” she excuses herself from the conversation with the mix of KBM crew members. She goes straight to the bathroom and leans over the toilet, taking a deep breath, but feels nothing coming. “Ugh…”

“Hey, are you okay?” She hears and turns around to see Samantha standing there. “I saw you disappear into the bathroom and you didn’t look so good.”

“I’ll be fine. It’s probably either just a stomach bug, or cramps. You should go enjoy your par-”

“I can’t enjoy my party when my girl is in the bathroom feeling terrible.” Samantha walks over, wrapping an arm around Sarina’s shoulders. “You don’t look so good.”

“I probably match how I feel.” She then lets out a small grunt as her hands find her way to her stomach, rubbing it, feeling the pain intensify that much more. “Oh man…”

“I’m going to get Chase.” Sarina didn’t have the energy to fight against it, and maybe going home would be a good idea as she couldn’t hide in the bathroom all night.

It didn’t take long for Samantha to find Chase, whispering in his ear to follow her to the bathroom. Chase immediately listened, going over to Sarina, who was standing with one hand on the sink, one hand on her stomach.

“Samantha told me you’re in pain,” he comments as he wraps his arms around her, holding her in his arms. “Are you okay?” Sarina lets out a sigh.

“It’s a little worse than earlier,” she tells him truthfully as he keeps his arms wrapped firmly around her feeling better.

“I called you in here because I’m thinking if she goes home and gets some rest, or if you even take her upstairs to my room she can relax,” Samantha suggests, earning a nod of approval from Chase. Though a glance at Sarina once again, and Samantha wasn’t even sure if that’d be enough. “Maybe you should actually take her in to get looked at….”

“It’s probably nothing,” Sarina offers immediately, not wanting anything to do with the hospital that night. “It could just be cramps. I may be getting my period.” Chase knew what she was like when she got cramps, knowing the extremes they reached. This didn’t appear to be that, but rather something much worse, and had him extremely concerned.

“This is worth than that,” Chase comments and Sarina immediately lets out an aggravated sigh. There was no way that she was going to the hospital, and she hated that Samantha wasn’t even getting to enjoy her own party.

“Regardless, sweetheart, you should go in,” Samantha coaxes her, catching Chase’s drift and figuring he knew when to panic with her and when to not. “They can give you something.” As the words slipped out of Samantha’s mouth, Sarina immediately began to feel a little faint, her legs giving out a little as Chase grabs onto her even tighter.

“Oh gosh….” Sarina lets out as Chase keeps a firm grasp on her, slowly lowering her to the ground as she sits now between his legs, arms still wrapped around her.

“I think we should listen to Samantha,” Chase suggests, not wanting to play around anymore as his concern meter felt pegged out of this world.

“Why is it so bad? It hurts so much…” Both of her arms wrap around her stomach, just below his, as a couple tears trek down his cheeks. Chase releases one of his arms, wiping a bit of hair out of her face, rubbing her cheek lightly.

“You’re going to be okay.” She relaxed more back in his arms, feeling as though the pain could consume her in that moment.

“Maybe we should call-” Samantha starts, unsure whether the pair could even get up together.

“Go!” Chase instructs immediately, feeling Sarina relying more on him as he continues to rub her cheek.

“Chase-” Sarina starts, as while she didn’t want to go the hospital, she certainly didn’t want to go to by an ambulance. That is always a great way to leave a party full of people.

“No, you need someone right now!” He then takes a deep breath, continuing to hold her as he rubs her cheek. He noticed her body begin to slump more against him, and could see the eyes slightly closing in the mirror. “Stay with me, stop drifting off. Just stay with me, talk to me, please.”

“It hurts so bad!” He felt like crying himself as he heard the pain in her voice.

“I got you, but you need to stay with me…” He thought he had the situation where he wanted under control, but the slumping feeling that he was feeling returned. “Sarina? Sarina?” No response from her hit every panic nerve that you could imagine immediately. “Samantha!!”

Samantha comes running back into the bathroom, phone in hand, with Kyle right behind her. Samantha continues to give off information that they wanted as Kyle goes over.

“They’ll be here soon,” he tries to assure Chase. “She’s going to be okay…”

Like Kyle told him, it wasn’t long before they arrived and had her bound for the hospital after a quick series of questions.

“I’ll be fine by mysel-” Chase starts as they head out and both Kyle and Samantha start shaking their heads immediately.

“She’s my driver, she’s my friend, and you are not doing this alone,” Samantha cuts him off as he lets out a sigh.

“This is your par-”

“And I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, Chase. I’ll take you over.”

“Besides, I can hold down the fort,” Kyle adds with a smile as he puts his hand on Chase’s shoulder. “It’s going to be okay…”

It was a short drive to the hospital for Chase and Samantha, and truthfully, Chase was glad that she drove because he didn’t know if he could’ve handled the drive anyway. Once they arrived, they were set to head to the room, but instead found themselves sitting in the waiting room, per doctor orders.

After what seemed like forever – but was only about 45 minutes, the doctor came out and said that he’d have the results for Sarina when she woke up. But for now, they could go see her while she was given fluids and pain medicine.

That was all Chase needed as it wasn’t long before he was sitting by her bed, hand wrapped around hers.

“Samantha, if you want, you can go,” he restated once again and Samantha immediately shook her head no.

“I’m not going anywhere until I know that you’re both okay,” she insisted as he nods his head, accepting.

“Thank you. Not many people would give up their own party to be here.” She gives a sly smile, eyes focused on Sarina.

“I care about my drivers, Chase. To me, they’re more than just an employee, but rather family. That’s why even though Erik and Christopher are off to better opportunities, I’ll always be close to him. that’s why I still make sure to give Brian Scott a call here and there to check on him, too. It hurts me just as much to see her like this.”

“I just can’t believe it, you know?” He then takes a deep breath, closing his eyes for a quick second, though re=opening right away to focus on her. “It’s like one thing after another. We went from dealing with her brother, to Bethany, to Allison. We finally get everything sorted there, and get some quiet time to ourselves and even happiness with her cousin – and now we’re here.” Glancing at the clock, seeing the hours and minutes ticking down to the new year, he only had one wish. “I just want 2018 to go smoothly, without these hiccups, and for both of us to have the happiness together that we want. She deserves it, Sam.”

“I know, Chase. You guys will get your happiness and your fairy tale. By the way, I love the necklace that you gave you her.” He smiles, seeing the snowball sparkle even in this moment. “Actually, both the necklace and the bracelet are nice.”

“Did she show you the heart on the bracelet?” Samantha nods her head as she watches Chase take out his set of keys. “She got me a new key for my keychain to always carry with me. It only works on one thing alone, and that’s her heart – because she says that I have the key to her heart. In reality, though, she has the key to me in so many ways that I can’t even describe or even thought possible.” He then takes the key, placing it in the heart on her bracelet. “I never thought I’d fall so hard, and so quickly, in love…”

“Chase, look up!” Chase glances up, seeing her eyes flicker a little, before widely opening with her blue eyes meeting his brown ones. An instant smile crosses his face as she looks down at the heart.

“The key…” She says quietly and he nods his head yes. Before she could even say anything more, a sharp pain came to her stomach, causing her hand to immediately go there. If Chase wasn’t holding the other one, that would’ve been there too. “Oh man….Holy fuck….Damn it, where am I? What’s going on?”

“Hey,” was all Chase could muster for her, unsure of where to even begin after the events and emotions.

“Hey.” She wished he’d say more, but instead watched as his fingers traced her hand, followed by a kiss landing immediately.

“You’re okay, you’re awake…” She knew that, hence why they were talking. Why hadn’t he said anything else?

“My stomach….” Chase places a hand on top of the one that rested on her stomach, while continuing to rub the other hand. What else was he supposed to do with no answers?

“I know it’s sore and I know you’re in pain..” She almost wanted to smack him at this point; she would’ve if she wasn’t so caught up in his sappy emotions. Where were her answers?

“What happened? I remember I went to the bathroom with Sam..” Chase knew by those words that she didn’t even remember him coming to check on her, nor passing out in her arms. Certainly they had made the right call.

“You passed out in my arms, so Sam called an ambulance and brought you to the hospital.” Sarina nodded her head, accepting. That made sense based on the lack of memory and room surroundings. But still, he hadn’t told her what she wanted to know most of all.

“What’s wrong with me?” Chase takes a deep breath, wishing the doctor would’ve told him. Normally, the doctors would tell you what was wrong so you knew for when they woke up and had understanding. But to now sit there with no answers felt almost unbearable.

“The doctor said they’d tell you when you woke up..” Samantha debated leaving the room to find a doctor and say that she was awake, but didn’t want to leave them alone incase Sarina said something that Chase was left without an answer for. Focused on the pair, listening to their conversation, she had already developed a theory of her own on what the doctor would say – but immediately brushed it off. That couldn’t be it as if that was the case, she would’ve found out news before this occurrence.

“The IV…” Chase’s eyes immediately glance towards where it was pieced through her skin, his hand not leaving hers one bit along the way.

“Fluids and pain killer. Just the usual…” She nods her head, accepting, feeling frustration and worry creeping in as her eyes finally look away from Chase to see that Samantha hadn’t moved an inch.

“Sweetheart, you’re going to be okay,” Samantha comments, noticing the eyes locked on her.

“You should get back to your par-” Sarina starts and Samantha shakes her head no.

“I’m not leaving until I know that you’re going to be okay. It’s fine. Kyle has everything under control and I’d be too worried to party.” Sarina accepts, taking a deep breath, as she lies her head back against the pillow.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this….” Chase fought with what words to say, but didn’t bother speaking any as he watched the doctor walk in and give her a glance over.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 186: “How am I supposed to even get this on?”

Friday, December 8 – Kyle Busch Motorsports – Christmas Party

“Oh it’s happening…” Kyle muses with a laugh of his own.

“Seriously?” Chase questions as he peeks out from behind. “I am not wearing that, Kyle.” Kyle just grins as he rubs his hands together.

“I don’t have any other options, and the rules are that you must wear what I supply.” Chase just grins back in response.

“I am not one of your employees, Mr. Busch.” Kyle nods his head, knowing that quite well.

“But you did agree to the terms by being Ms. Ott’s date for the night. Now, why don’t you show us how it looks?” Chase glances back at the box, shaking his head. This was the last time he agreed to anything Kyle-related without getting the terms first.

“How am I supposed to even get this on?”

“Kyle, it better not be that bad….” Sarina comments as Kyle glances over at her with a smile.

“Don’t worry – you’re going to enjoy it,” he offers as she looks back a little confused. “Trust me.”

“You’re scaring me…”

“Why can’t we choose your outfit?” Christopher wonders and Sarina nods her head in agreement.

“Because I am the boss,” Kyle answers as they both roll their eyes. “Besides, it’s more fun this way….”

“April Fool’s Day. Call me.” Sarina laughs, but certainly knew that was on the cards right now.

“This is ridiculous,” Chase comments as he pops out from behind the curtain, resulting in instant laughter from both Sarina and Christopher. “How am I even supposed to walk in this thing?”

“Very carefully,” Kyle says as he tries to control his own laughter. “I think it looks great.”

“It’s fitting,” Christopher adds, continuing to chuckle. There Chase stood before them, dressed an elf, but inside an inflatable snowglobe.

“Now you’re really inside of her globe…” Kyle then stands up and walks away as Chase lets out a sigh.

“When are you planning the April Fools, prank?” Chase wonders as Christopher just smiles.

“We going to have to start planning early March because he’s doomed now,” Christopher answers. “But you look good…”

“No, I look ridiculous…” Sarina shakes her head as she watches Christopher walk away, before wrapping an arm around him.

“Least you’re not the only ridiculous-looking person tonight,” she adds as he glances over at her.

“You make anything look good, though.” He then kisses her lips, lightly.

“So admit it – did you have fun tonight?” Sarina asks as they walk into their bedsroom later on that night.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought,” Chase answers with a smile as she glances over his way.

“I still can’t believe you sat on Santa Kyle’s lap…” Chase chuckles, knowing he had caught everyone off-guard. “What did you ask for Christmas?”

“I can’t tell you, or else my Christmas wish may not come true.” She then pouts. “You could tell me what you asked for…”

“Not happening. Good try.” He then sits on the edge of the bed, shaking his head as he looks over the costume.

“I can’t believe I’m still wearing this elf outfit. I told Kyle I was done with it and set to change back, but he insisted that I keep it.” Sarina grins as she walks over, standing before him.

“That’s because I asked him to let you keep it…” He looks at her surprised. “I think you look absolutely adorable.”

“Seriously?” She nods her head as she runs her hands up his legs.

“It brings out every feature of these legs that I love, how toned they are and fit…” She then lightly kisses his cheek. “And it’s soft and cuddly, which I know will be perfect for cuddling you. Besides, you’ll always be little elf.”

“When you put it that way, it doesn’t sound that bad…” She nods her head in agreement. “Maybe I’ll just have to help you out with your dress…”

“See, maybe this isn’t so bad…..”

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

Saturday, December 9

“Ugh!!!!” Sarina lets out an aggravated sigh as she looks in the mirror. She was beyond furious as she tried to get her hair to go up in the perfect pony tail. “This is getting annoying. This is why I never dress up!” Chase then glances in the bathroom, a little caught off-guard.

“Is it right to ask if everything is okay?” He wonders as she looks over at him.

“The curls didn’t set right so my hair turned into disaster. Then I tried to put it up nicely and it just won’t go that way. I mean, I look like there’s a hornet’s nest on my head and we have to be down there in an hour. What do you think of the question now, Chase?” Chase took a deep breath, debating what to do immediately.

“I think no matter what you look beaut-”

“Not helping!” She then closes the door, debating what to do next.

“Okay…” Chase walks down the stairs, finding his cell phone as he glances through the numbers. There had to be someone that could help her out. “Emma? Hey, it’s Chase. Can you come over here like right now? Sarina is having a girl’s dressing crisis.”

It didn’t take long for Emma Blaney to show up, giving Chase a quick hug before making her way upstairs.

“Oh my…” She comments once Sarina opens the bathroom door, noticing the hair disaster that was there. “I can see why Chase said this was a crisis.”

“No shit!” Sarina says as she looks back in the mirror. “I’ve tried everything, Emma. I just wanted to look beautiful tonight since hey, it’s my banquet, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished this year. But damn – look at this disas-”

“I can fix it. We can make it look great.” Emma glances over again, thinking about it. “I have an idea….” After taking some fabric, cutting it one way, shaping another, and then going through the hair – it took a good half hour, but Emma felt satisfied when she was done. “What do you think?”

“Well, that fixes the hair….” Sarina then lets out a sigh, though. “I just don’t know if that looks proper.”

“I think it looks good, actually. It complements your dress perfectly.” Sarina spins around to face Emma.

“Really?” Emma nods her head. “I hope it looks alright.”

“Trust me, you’ll look beautiful tonight. Now come on, let’s go…” The girls then head down the stairs together and Chase looks over, smiling immediately. Emma was the perfect person to call.

The pair went to the truck series banquet that night with ease, enjoying the nice dinner and ceremony that entailed. Once it was over, they went to the after-party being hosted by Kyle Busch Motorsports to celebrate the year that was, taking in the dancing and jokes to be had.

Midway through the night, Sarina makes her way out to the terrace, overlooking Charlotte. It wasn’t long after she went out there that she felt a pair of arms wrap around her.

“Are you okay?” She hears and nods her head, immediately. “What are you thinking about?”

“Everything,” she offers as she leans back in his arms. “From what we’ve been through together, to the success I had on track, to what I’ve fought through.” She takes a deep breath, spinning around in his arms to face him. “I’m thankful and blessed beyond belief, Chase. I could never have imagined everything going this well. I mean, sometimes I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe it.”

“You deserve it, and more….” She smiles as she wraps her arms around him in return.

“That goes for you, too. Any guy that can deal with everything I have to offer deserves the world at the palm of their hand.” She then leans in, kissing his lips. “I love you, Chase. I will always love you.”

“I love you, too, and I tell you what – next year, this party will be all about you.” She then chuckles as she looks back in the room at the fun being had.

“Nah, next year we’ll be having two parties at the end of the season. I can’t wait for the world to see what I see, in how talented you are.” Chase just smiles back in return.

“Here’s to a great 2018 to come…”

THE END

Stay tuned for “The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story” as the sequel to this story.