Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 82: “You’re an All-Star!”

Sarina walks into the hauler, lets out a sigh as she flops back on the couch.

She had been quick throughout testing and practice, even laying down the quickest lap ever seen at Bristol in a super late model. However, come qualifying, everything went to shit and she ended up mid-pack. That was just going to make Sunday interesting.

She hears her phone go off, lets out a sigh as she sees the caller ID and answers the call.

“You should’ve gone with one of my late models….” She hears Kyle’s tone and rolls her eyes immediately. He never missed an opportunity to rub it in how she should be running Kyle Busch Motorsports late models to go with the truck. However, she liked working with Ricky Turner.

“Do I need to remind you of the practice speed set earlier today?” She questions in response.

“You didn’t get the job done when it counted, though. What happened?” She knew the explanation, having spoken with Ricky already. It didn’t make her happy, but it is what it is.

“We didn’t adjust correctly for the changing conditions. We went a little too far and she was just a tick loose. That’s not the best feeling when flying around this half-mile.” She hears a chuckle at his end, glad that she at least got a laugh out of him.

“Well, least you know you have a good car. I’m coming up after the All-Star race tomorrow to watch. Strangely, your boyfriend is the one giving me the ride.” Sarina could only laugh as she wondered how a flight with Kyle and Chase would go.

“Well, I’d suggest finishing second to him tonight so he doesn’t leave you stranded at the airport.” She hears a laugh in response, knowing there was no chance in Kyle listening to her suggestion.

“Hey, your boy has to qualify first. Good luck with that.” She then lets out a sigh. In her heart, Chase should’ve been qualified already for this event. There were a couple races last year he should’ve run, and a couple already they should’ve had. Instead, he was stuck in the Open and hopefully would be able to snag one of the segment wins.  “If it makes you feel better, I voted Daniel for the fan vote.”

“That’s just mean!”

“He’s my teammate. I couldn’t just not vote for him….”

“You could’ve and not told anyone. Regardless, it’s going to be a good night. I got some popcorn and me and Ricky are set to relax, and watch him kick butt in the open.”

“Well then I better let you go. See you tomorrow.”

“Bye Kyle.” She then hangs up, letting out a sigh as she relaxes back on the couch.

“You know he’s going to rub it in like hell if Chase doesn’t qualify….” Ricky comments as Sarina rolls her eyes. She wasn’t ready to accept that fate tonight.

She sat there, nerves at a high at times, as she watched him battled amongst the top-three through all the segments. However, one after the other, he came up short of winning, including a loss by just a bumper in one of them.

“Are you kidding me?!?” She lets out after the final segment as Ricky gives her a glance.

“We have the fan vote….” Ricky suggests as she rolls her eyes. She already had the winner picked out for that.

“It’ll be Danica because she’s Ms. Pretty Princes-”

“You’re forgetting her selfish act after Almirola hurt his back. That lost her a bunch of respect.” Sarina remembered that interview well, and how she wanted to strangle Danica for not being more thankful and worried on Aric’s part.

“Well there’s also Matt DiBenedetto. Look at the campaign he put together!” Ricky crosses his arms as he places a smile on his face.

“You’re not giving your boy enough credit. He’s an Elliott. Elliotts are popular. Just ask Bill.”  Sure enough, Ricky predicted it correctly as they announced Chase as the fan vote winner. “See?”

“Well, least we got a reason to watch tonight…” She then stands up, grabbing a drink out of the mini fridge, before returning back to her spot on the couch.

“What about your boss? Is he not a good enough reason?” She then rolls her eyes, though knew that Ricky was right as she didn’t mind watching Kyle at all.

Throughout the night, she kept her eyes locked on the television screen.

She found herself impressed with a couple of Chase’s strong moments, allowing him to be one of the 10 drivers in the final segment. She wasn’t exactly happy with the finish, but knew that they’d learned a lot ahead of the Coke 600.

A smile still found her face, though, in watching the event as she let out a big cheer in the restart that Kyle got to start the final segment, taking Jimmie and Brad three-wide into turn one and grabbing the lead. From there on, he flat-out dominated and snagged the win.

With the race completed, the pair headed out to grab a quick snack at the local Waffle House before heading to bed. They walked in, caught off-guard by the group sitting at one of the tables.

“I heard the guy will be alright but still….” They heard one person say.

“That’s just scary,” another commented as the group shook their heads in unison.

“They’re supposed to put an advisory in the morning to be careful around the track and with what you accept,” she noticed Christian Eckes comment. “Remind me not to go to the Bristol snack bar tomorrow.”

“What’s going on?” She asks, catching Christian’s attention. She hated to interrupt a conversation that she was originally not part of, but she hoped Christian excused her given their friendship and how well they had gotten to know each other with racing across the country.

“Someone was poisoned at Bristol today,” he reveals. “Supposedly they ate or drank something – not sure from where – but it had something in it and they were throwing up pretty bad. The guys said that he’d be okay as they got him to the hospital in time, but still. It just seems strange.” She shakes her head in agreement.

“Very strange. Thanks for the heads-up, though. Good luck tomorrow.”

“Same to you.” She then walks over to where Ricky had sat down, taking a seat across from him.

“Did you hear?” Ricky shakes his head yes, as he was caught off-guard as well.

Who would poison someone at a race track?

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

Sarina glances over the car, letting out a sigh as she leans back against it. If only she had qualified better…..

The next day at Bristol, she started where she had qualified – in the back half of the top-20, and began to slowly make her way forward. However, a pair of cars got together in front of her, leaving her nowhere to go as she crashed into them, resulting in heavy front end damage and the end of her Short Track Nationals.

“And we just had fixed it, too,” she comments, remembering the most recent outing with the car as she looks over at Ricky. “I’m sorry….”

“It’s my fault for screwing up yesterday,” he replies as he leans back beside her. “As long as you’re okay, that’s what matters.” She looks over, shaking her head yes.

“I’m fine…” She then glances down, twirling her ankle around a couple times, which caught the attention of Kyle as his eyes looked down.

“Twirling your foot?” He questions as she looks over at him.

“They said that it’d be tender for a bit after I wrecked at Talladega,” she answers. “It’s fine, just a tick stiff and whatnot. You don’t need to worry, okay?” He shakes his head, understanding.

“As long as you’re ready for the Monster in a couple weeks….” She then smiles, having looked forward to going to Dover from the beginning of the year. It was one of the races she had circled on the schedule when they put this deal together.

“Miles isn’t touching me….” Kyle then laughs, knowing how things usually went at Dover for rookies. He just had his fingers crossed that they avoided the usual rookie downfalls.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 75: Easter Bunny 150

Sarina stands at the top of the grandstands, watching the modifieds as they take to the track for their practice ahead of her qualifying session. She never was one for watching sessions, till Chase got her in the habit with mentioning the advantages.

“Sarina, you wanted to talk?” She hears and glances to the left, seeing Kyle as he reaches the top of the stands with her. She easily shakes her head yes, remembering how she asked about a conversation earlier in the day.

“I want to talk to someone about this, not sure who, so I figured I’d give you a shot,” she starts as Kyle shakes his head, understanding.

“What’s up?” She then takes a deep breath as she sits down, debating where to start.

“Chase’s practice crash last weekend at Texas was nothing big or heavy, basically. I mean, those types of deals happen all the time. Look at Erik’s wreck right after. I’ve seen those before and I know they’re no big deal. I’ve just always brushed them off, focused on the next thing. But yet that day, it didn’t feel like that.”  Kyle then smiles a little, knowing where she was going. He had remembered the same type of reaction from Samantha.

“Instead, you felt this additional level of fear and worry immediately, and it bugged you till you got to hug him, and hear from him that he was okay?” Sarina shakes her head yes. “Don’t be alarmed, Sarina. Samantha had the same deal with me a couple times.”

“It just felt odd, especially since I’m a racecar driver myself and should damn well know these things. I get Sam because she doesn’t come from a racing background, but I do Kyle. It just felt odd as I thought about it later.” Kyle knew that she was right in her concerns, but still didn’t feel alarmed.

“It’s adrenaline, sweetheart. The adrenaline pushes you to worry so badly because you’re caught up in that moment and thought. On the bright side, the worry means something – it shows you just how much you love and care for that boy. It shows how much you couldn’t stand to lose what you have, why you guys can fight back to each other despite all that’s happened, the second chance, and that love. I think you’re caught on that moment because it’s the first time you’ve realized just how much you care abou-”

“I damn well worried about him when we crashed the plane together-”

“But that wasn’t the same or as intense. You also didn’t have all this life experience, history, turmoil – reasons to make you thankful for what you’re able to have with him, Sarina. Everything that’s happened is why you were so concerned. You know what it’s like to lose that now having spent times at odds and the lies. Your heart was scared of being broken, separated and torn apart again.” She shakes her head, getting to understand where Kyle was coming from with his words.

“So how do I make that stop? I mean, I can’t damn well be worrying about him like that when I’m racing for you across the bloody country from where you guys are.” Kyle knew that, and couldn’t help but wonder whether it could become a distraction down the road.

“You have to remind yourself that he’s smart, these cars are safe, and there’s nothing to worry about. You also have to have the right measures in place – phone calls, text messages, radio traffic – so that way you have those instant answers. As you work yourself and teach yourself again, it’ll be fine.” She smiles, actually glad that she had chosen Kyle as her person to speak to.

“So you’re not calling me some crazed whacko racecar driver because I can’t handle a simple crash?” Kyle laughs and shakes his head no.

“Instead, I’m thankful that you and Chase are realizing just how much you love each other, and making it work. Keep working at it, don’t lie, and know that you guys can overcome anything.” She smiles as she gives Kyle a hug.

“I don’t plan on lying to him ever again – even about the smallest stupidest things.”

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

Sarina lets out a sigh as she leans back against the car. So much for a fun weekend. While Kyle experienced mechanical issues, she had gotten wrecked in the early stages as a result of people driving over their heads. She could only shake her head as she looked over the mangled racecar.

“You’re probably wishing you were in England with Blaney right now,” she comments with a glance over at Chase. He immediately shakes his head no.

“I’d take a rough day with you over doing something with anybody else, any day,” he says as he wraps an arm around her shoulders. “Don’t worry, Ricky will get her fixed up.”

“I still feel terrible….”

“It wasn’t your fault. You can’t help idiots.” He then gives her a kiss. “Besides, I got something to cheer you up. Happy Easter.” He then pulls a chocolate bunny out from behind his back, handing it over to her. She immediately smiles, giving him a kiss back in return.

“To be honest, I didn’t get you anything for Easter and I feel terrible. It’s just I got caught up in my emotions, my brother and this late model rac-”

“It’s  fine. You can get me something later on. Look at it this way – you’ll get a discount on your gift now as everything will be on sale.” She then chuckles as she pulls him close to her.

“Maybe I don’t need to go to the store to give you a gift.” She then kisses his lips, as she wraps her arms around him.

“Sarina….” She then spins them around, pinning him against the wrecked car as she runs her hands underneath his shirt. “Sarina….”

“What?” He places his hands on top of hers, locking eyes with her.

“I love you, but no.” He then slides her hands back out. “We’re not at that trusting stage yet with everything that happened, and I’m not one to just drop and go – you should know that. I mean, that takes time in making sure the moment is right, and I’ve got the perfect girl for that.” She shakes her head, understanding, as she lets out a small laugh. “What?”

“If you thought I was damn well stripping your ass out here and having sex with you in front of everybody, you’re wrong boy. I don’t do that, either. I want that moment to perfect and intimate with that right person. I just was going for the light massage and relaxation technique knowing that you have to fork out the cash to fix this thing.” Chase glances back at the car, letting out a sigh knowing that wasn’t going to be cheap, as he looks back at her.

“You swear?” She shakes her head yes.”Well, let’s save that for later anyway. Besides, Ricky could probably use some help loading the car.”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 73: Alpha Energy Solutions 250

Sarina takes a deep breath as she stands on pit road, leaning against the wall. She was waiting for the start of truck qualifying, feeling good about her chances after the lone practice yesterday.

She watches as Kyle walks over, reminding herself that she had asked for a quick meeting with him. She knew he was expecting an advice column session, but this was a different topic.

“You wanted to see me?” He asks and she shakes her head yes.

“Can you get Christopher to shut up?” She questions, causing Kyle to look at her surprised. He knew Christopher could be annoying at times, but this was still a surprise. He thought things were cool amongst the teammates.

“Giving too much advice?” She shakes her head no as Kyle crosses his arms, confused. “Then what is it?”

“He keeps bringing Chase up to me. He keeps telling me he’s worried about us, questioning our relationship, wondering whether I’m doing the right thing – and saying that he’s doing it because he cares. He’s getting damn well annoying and I’ve told him to shut up twice but I can’t seem to drill that into his brain.” Kyle shakes his head, understanding. Despite understanding where Sarina was coming from, he understood Christopher’s perspective.

“To be honest, Sarina, I think he has a point based on everything that we’ve seen. You guys got back together pretty quickly for something so big to have happened, and it’s almost like a pretend circus that nothing happened. Do you really believe that things are okay for him and your brother? Do you really believe that he trusts you fully? Can you honestly go forth and tell him the truth about things he needs to know? Christopher isn’t the only one asking these questions.” Sarina then looks down pit road, rolling her eyes.

“I thought you’d have my back on this, but I guess not. So when Christopher’s constant reminders screw shit up for me, I’ll be sure to thank you both.” She then goes to walk away, when Kyle reaches out, grabbing her hand. She looks at him, anger boiling in her eyes.

“If you can let someone from the outside come between the love you have for someone, then it’s not meant to be. Love and a relationship is about finding that one person you can conquer anything and everything together no matter the outsiders. Throwing it away because of a couple people with worries – you’re giving them what they were trying to show you, and not realizing what is lacking for yourself.” Sarina lets out a sigh, knowing that Kyle was right in his words. As she glances towards the 23 truck, she knew there was something to do.

“I have a feeling once I tell Chase about what is going on with Christopher that you’re going to need to offer that boy protection and fast.” Kyle laughs, as he wasn’t too worried about Chase.

“I’ll keep an eye out. Good luck today.” She then smiles as she heads off, set to make her qualifying run.

As she had thought out, the session went well with her qualifying ninth. She could only smile as she looked at the top number on the board – 23, knowing that she’d be stuck battling Chase all day up front. She wasn’t going to complain, though, as she looked forward to the challenge. Perhaps reminding him of Nashville was in the cards.

First, though, she had something on her mind. She makes her way through the crowds, catching up with him as he makes his way to the garage.

“Congratulations on the pole,” she says as he looks over with a smile.

“It should be a fun afternoon,” he replies as he wraps an arm around her and pulls her close.

“I know you’re on a high, and I know you got practice – but can we talk for a minute?” He then stops instantly, turning to face her with concern laced on his face. The tone of her voice reminded him of yesterday. “There was something yesterday that I left out when we were talking. I could tell on your face that you realized, but I wanted to avoid the topic. And yes, it deals with Christopher’s quietness.” Chase crosses his arms, the thought of her cheating on him crossing through his mind.

“Please tell me you didn’t chea-”

“I would never, ever, holy crap ever, do that to you. I love you, Chase Elliott, and I’m willing to do anything for you.” Chase felt himself letting out a sigh, though was still concerned. “Christopher came to me at KBM on Thursday night and expressed some concerns about our relationship. He is worried that we’re doing the wrong thing here in getting back together, and emotions and whatever based on what happened before. He doesn’t want me to end up broken hearted like I was Kern County that day.”

“What’d you tell him?” Sarina takes a deep breath, remembering their conversation.

“I told him that he needed to stay the hell out of our relationship because everything was fine and there was nothing to worry about. I told him all the reasons that I love you, which I have told you many times anyway. I asked the reason why, and he said it was cause he cares about me. I once again suggested shutting his trap.” Chase then pulls her close to him.

“Listen, those worries are well warranted.  I mean, look at what we’ve been through together. There’s going to be lots of questions – my mom still isn’t super pleased, either. The main thing, though, is that we love spending time together, we love each other and we know that it’ll work out. For everybody else, they’ll figure it out over time.” He then looks into her eyes with a slight smile. “I do appreciate your honesty, though. This is just a small thing, but it’s still wonderful that you were honest. It just means that I have to kick Christopher’s ass today.” She then rolls her eyes, having warned Kyle about that.

“Be somewhat easy on him, Chase. He is my teammate after all.” He thinks it over, then smiles.

“I didn’t say I was going to wreck him, did I?” He then gives her a kiss before walking away, set for Cup practice.

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

The race started off solidly, with Chase keeping himself up in the top-three with Christopher and Johnny, while Sarina put together a solid effort. She finished the first stage in the eighth spot, confident about the speed in her truck for the rest of the race.

She then started off the second stage strong, moving all the way up to fifth in the initial laps. However, just as she was getting comfortable, she felt a tap and next thing was spinning around, 100 laps into the race.

“Briscoe, right?” She questions on the radio as she gets the truck pointed back in the right direction. “That figures. He couldn’t drive his ass straight when he was running ARCA either. Jackass!” Marcus just rolled his eyes as he sat back on the pit box, reminding him the trials of working with a rookie.

“He’s been driving like a jackass all day to be honest,” Marcus told her. “Main thing is there’s lots of time, no damage, and you got a fast truck. We can get back to the front, Sarina.”

Marcus’ words proved true as she fought back, moving up to eighth by the end of the second stage. She then kept moving forward after the restart, moving into the top-five and running right at the front. She felt Johnny get to her bumper, tapping her a couple times as she let out an aggravated sigh.

“Let him go, fall in line, learning something here, give us a solid run,” Marcus advised and she did as requested, despite every part of her wishing she could’ve held him off.

Besides, she knew the top-two – Christopher leading with Chase second. Given the discussion pre-race with Chase, she figured a bump and run was coming from Chase in the next couple of laps out of spite. Though she also wondered if the contact would become more, opening the door for whomever was in third to snag a win.

She didn’t get to think about it much longer, watching Christopher get sideways after contact with Austin Cindric, with the lapped truck going around in turn one. As quickly as it happened, she watched Chase and Johnny slip by, moving up a pair of spots with Christopher right in front of her.

On the late race restart, she peaked underneath Christopher a couple times, giving him a bump and run along the way, but never found a way by – coming home with a fourth-place finish. As much as she wanted to kick herself in the butt for not passing Christopher, she was very happy with the day. She had gotten her first career NASCAR top-five finish, and her boyfriend had won the race. What was wrong with that?

Immediately following the post-race interviews, she made her way to victory lane, standing off to the side as she watched Chase take a series of photos. Seeing the amount of people on stage die down, she made her way up, grabbing a bottle of Gatorade, walking up behind him and pouring it down his neck.

“Holy shit!” He lets out with a jump, before spinning around set to kick the person’s ass. However, as soon as their eyes locked together, he wrapped an arm around her, kissing her lips. “Awesome job today, Ms. Ott.”

“Spectacular win today, Mr. Elliott,” she comments with a smile. “I have to say your truck was awesome today. When I was behind you there for awhile, I was hoping to find some way to get by you, even bumped you a couple times, but there was no way about it. I say you figured this place out.”

“It feels pretty good to win here.” The pair then pose together for a photo, before turning back to face each other.

“So where is that clock going now anyway?” Chase glances at it, shrugging his shoulders.

“I guess we’ll have to figure out some place for it to go, and I’m sure you’ll be a great help.”

Beautiful Nightmare – Chapter 5: Continued Nightmares

You’re a beautiful nightmare

And nothing can wake me up from you

 

April 2016

Unable to sleep, he flipped through the DVR and settled on re-watching a replay of the 2016 Daytona 500.

Amidst the chaos of his personal life, he had walked away with the biggest win of his career – the Daytona 500. He had been able to enjoy the week surrounding that with peace. He remembered the fun he had with the team in victory lane, followed by the partying afterwards. He remembered the week’s worth of interviews, trips throughout the United States, and how much fun it turned into.

He couldn’t think of possibly wiping that smile off his face. It was that week he felt free, confident, and set to tackle the year ahead with the ease.

Closing his eyes, he wondered if he could get back to that thought now a couple months later.

 

April 2015

Denny climbed out of the car under the red flag for rain, biting his tongue as he went to turn his head.

“Denny, are you okay?”  He hears from his teammate, as he goes to turn his head in the voice’s direction. He then lets out another moan as he changes his mind on that.

“My neck is hurting,” he answers simply. “I think I pulled something.” He then walks away from the car with Kyle, heading over to the team’s pit box. “I’m going to go get some ice, some Tylenol, and hopefully it’ll chill out.”

“Hope it works out.”  He then walks away from Kyle, letting out a sigh.

He knew why his neck was hurting. It was obvious based on the past couple of nights. He had thought about telling someone about the deal he made with Diane, and reached out to an old female friend. Well, it turned out that Diane was watching at all times and caught the interaction. She made sure to restate her claim that night, throwing the blackmail back at him. She followed it up by demanding sex, among other things.

He threatened to tell someone, but she said to him, ‘And who is going to believe you?’ The thought rang in his mind so he kept quiet, not stating a single word about what happened. However, thanks to her grabbing him and pulling him back by the shoulder, it was obvious that she had done something based on the amount of pain he was feeling.

Throughout the rain delay, he spent time with the trainers at Joe Gibbs Racing, getting a massage among other things on his neck, trying to cool down the pain. However, nothing worked.

With already having a win a couple weeks later, Joe Gibbs suggested putting Erik Jones in the car for the rest of the event.  Denny, knowing he couldn’t stand the pain much longer, simply accepted.  Perhaps some nice relaxation would heal it, while clearing his mind. Maybe he could then do the right thing with Diane.

“You better not say anything as to why you’re sitting out,” she whispers in his ear as she runs her nail roughly across his neck. He then glances at her, almost like a child frightened by the punishment they could receive.

“I’ve got this under control,” he answers. “I’ll simply tell them that I pulled a muscle or something.”

“Good boy. Then we can get back to our business.” She then gives him a kiss on the cheek  before watching him walk off with the team.

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

“So you pulled something in the car?” Kyle asks post-race as Denny lets out a sigh.

“TV excuse,” he answers, truthfully. “Diane and I had a fight, and she pulled me back and it’s been bugging me since then.” Kyle then looked at Denny with surprise.

“Dude, really?” Denny lets out a sigh. “So what are you going to do?” Denny thought about spitting out the details right then and there. However, a glance from her in the distance told him otherwise.

“It was a stupid disagreement. We’ve already talked it over. I don’t see anymore issues.”

“That’s fine, but if for some reason you need a place to stay or someone to talk to, come find me.  I’m here if you need a friend.” Denny accepted that, putting that in the memory bank. He knew when he grew enough courage he’d take him up on the offer.

 

“Ugh!!!” He lets out a frustrated sigh as he sits up in the bed for the third time that night. “Why didn’t you say something that night? Why didn’t you just spill it? Why did you have to let that witch scare you? Why did you have to think you could change her ways? Why did you have to care, or create that damn book anyway?”

He then gets out of the bed, walking to the dresser. He rips it open, taking out the familiar book as he lets out a sigh. He was glad that the police had been quick to find her before she could release the book – he had to admit even speaking with Kyle that he was worried about that being released.

He then walks downstairs, walking out on to the back porch, chucking it as far as he could over the railing. He then turned around, leaning back against it, let his legs give out and sat right there against it.

“Nobody said this was going to be easy,” he starts. “You’ll figure it out, somehow. You just need to forget about her so you can sleep tonight.”

He then yawns, glancing in through the sliding door at the stove. It was already 5 in the morning, which meant he was supposed to getting up in three hours and beginning to get ready for the day.

How was he supposed to make it through everything he had to do?

“Why can’t I think of anything else when I close my eyes?” He questions as he stands up and heads inside. He thought about reaching for where the bottle was stored in the cabinet, but stopped himself a he remembered the conversation with Kyle. “No, I can’t let her win this battle. I can’t let her take over me. I can’t do that.”

He then walks back through the house, returning back to his room as he flopped back in the bed once again. Closing his eyes, he hoped that being dead-tired resulted in finally being able to sleep without a thought of her.

Though he knew that was going to be near to impossible as no matter how much she hurt him, he admitted that he loved her dearly and wished they could’ve had a future together.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 67: Rattler 250

Since racing together at Atlanta, the pair had been focused on their own lives.

Sarina returned to California to spend time with her brother and help him as he continued to recover from the brain surgery. Each day, she saw a little bit of progress, keeping her hopeful that everything would truly work out as planned.

Chase focused on his racing schedule, wishing he could shake the monkey off his back and snag his first career victory. He had been running up front every race this season, but had yet to break through and get the race win he wanted.

Though while Sarina focused on her brother’s recovery, she also didn’t want to wait till the next truck race to get back behind the wheel again. It was why she had asked Chase if him and Ricky wouldn’t mind getting the late model set for her to run on the weekend at South Alabama Speedway – the Rattler 250.

“I figured I’d go there and get you a pet to keep you company on the road,” she comments as Chase looks at her in total shock. “Don’t you want a pet snakey?” He shakes his head no immediately.

“I won that race, remember?”He questions her. “And you remember what I did when I won that race, right? I didn’t even let the guy put the snake on my shoulders like you’re supposed to when you win that event. There was no way I was getting close to the snake. And you think I want one as a pet?”

“I thought you maybe you grew up in the past couple years and shook that fear away.” He shakes his head no with an absolute definition. “So no Rattler for me?”

“Oh you can and you damn well win that race, but you better not bring that snake home.” She then smiled as she leaned in and snagged a kiss. “Ricky is already set to go as he had the cars ready to go. He said he just has to put the set-up in for that particular track, load up and make the drive down to Alabama.”

“Here’s to you getting a new pet!” She then walks away with a smirk as he simply rolls his eyes.

So after racing got done at Phoenix and he had debriefed with Alan on how they had fell back at the end, letting the top-10 slip away for 12th instead, he pulled out his phone as he sat back in the trailer. He told her and Ricky that they better text him once the race was done with the results so he knew, considering they’d be following the live timing and scoring from NASCAR in being done before him.

“So it looks like you’re not getting yourself a pet snake after all,” he read her text message and simply rolled his eyes. It meant that they hadn’t won. While he wasn’t fond of the snake, he didn’t want to see her lose the race. He also found himself with more questions than answers, perhaps some worry, as she hadn’t texted any other details from the event.

How’d you make out then?” He questions back, trying to keep himself as calm as possible as every scenario crossed his mind.

“Fifth. The handling was just a touch off and couldn’t catch the top-four.” He then lets out a sigh as he hated to hear that. It seemed they were back where they were last year, before snagging some wins during the second half.

”Guess we got some more work to do, again. It’s up to you and Ricky if you make the trip to Virginia this weekend for the next CARS event.” He hoped that she’d say no to the offer. He wanted to have her at the track this weekend to himself as he hated the time they were spending apart. Besides, he knew this weekend would be the easiest of them all for her to be at the track with him as they were racing in California, where her brother was staying as he recovered.

“Ricky offered to go but I turned him down. I figure with spending time with Chris, it’s easier. Besides, I have the truck race next weekend.” He smiled as he knew Martinsville was going to be a great opportunity for her to do well for KBM, considering her short track background.

“I’m staying out west all week. See you this week?” He thought about meeting her at the hospital with her brother, but still felt some apprehension there with everything that happened. However, he figured a night or two out together would work in the midst of everything else.

“We’ll both be in California…..” He then smiled as he knew the answer already.

He then leaves the small lounge, smile still locked on his face despite the pain he was feeling in his ribs, still a little. He then takes a deep breath, keeping the ice pack firmly placed there with his hand as he walks through the garage area.

“Well well, it appears things are going good for you,” he hears a voice, looking over and noticing Kyle standing there. It felt weird having this mutual bond of respect and conversation with him at times.

“Everything’s great,” Chase replied as Kyle simply rolled his eyes, wishing he could’ve said the same with a win that day. It was beyond him why Joey had to blow a tire at that moment.

“If it’s my guess, I’d say it’s cause Sarina won today because you certainly didn’t have the race you planned.” Chase rolls his eyes as he didn’t want to think about how the final restart went one bit.

“Nah, she got fifth. The smile is just ‘cause.” Kyle then lifts his eyebrows intrigued.

“Just ‘cause? Okay, I don’t want to know what text messages you kids are sending back and forth. Just promise me that you won’t be getting her pregnant before the end of the year.” Chase had to laugh at the comment as he could see where Kyle was coming from, but he also knew his own standards. There wouldn’t be any of that funny business going on.

“You have nothing to worry about, Kyle. You should know me better.” Kyle stopped, and shook his head. While there were always questions about to whether a boy would treat a young lady right, he knew that Chase was someone he didn’t have to worry about.

“I know who raised you, and I know you were raised well. I trust you. I just hope you’re both together because you truly love each other and have gotten over everything that happened. I don’t want to see either of you get hurt.” Chase shakes his head, understanding.

“We talked it over, and things are good. It’s like we’re back to almost what we had before.” Kyle then looks on intrigued, having caught the comment.

“Almost?” Chase wishes he hadn’t said anything.

“We both admitted that there’s going to be some trust issues at times because she basically lied straight to my face and crossed me. But, we both agreed that we’re going to work on that because we can’t deny how much we love and care about each other.” Kyle smiles, as he was glad to see them both happy.

“I’m glad, and I hope it does work out. I’ll see you later. Bye Chase.”

“Bye Kyle.” Chase then watches Kyle head off, before going over to check in with the team quickly before heading out.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 65: She’s Back

She walks down pit road, smiling as she waves to a couple different people throughout the garage area before reaching her stall.

The conversation with Chase earlier in the week seemed to set a lot of thoughts and things in motion, as she made the decision to come back racing sooner than expected. A simple phone call to Kyle and he was easily to put everything in place for her to be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra for the rest of the season, as originally scheduled. The phone call had resulted in a slight grumble from Erik who had been told he’d get to run instead, but he was easily accepting as he was glad to see her get a shot.

“Are you sure you’re ready to come back this weekend?” Kyle asks as he walks over to her. She looks up at him and quickly shakes her head yes. “So everything is squared away with your brother?”

“My cousins have no issue with sitting with him during the weekend while I’m out racing,” she starts. “Then once he’s better, he’s expressed interest in coming out so I easily accepted.” Kyle smiles as he was glad to see everything work out, though admitted a tinge of worry on the second thought. There had been a lot of things that had happened through the past several months.

“And how’s things with Chase?” The question only caused her smile to increase in size.

“Let’s just say that we talked everything over – Chris included – and are back together. It feels just as wonderful as it was before, and just as close. I know there may be a couple hiccups of trust at times, but I trust in what we have.” Kyle smiled back in return as he had hoped the pair would find their way back to each other.

“Well, I’ll leave you to get ready for practice then. If you need any advice or anything, don’t hesitate to come over and ask.” She easily accepts as she watches him walk away.

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

She then leans back against the wall, waiting for her name to be called. Thus far, the weekend had gone amazing. She practiced well in each of the three sessions, and managed to qualify 10th for the race that afternoon. After watching how crazy the XFINITY race with the different grooves, and the strong performance by her boss, she was excited to get going that day.

“Nervous?” She hears as she glances over to see Christopher. She just shakes her head no as she glances out towards the track.

“I feel good about things going into today,” she comments as he simply smiles in return.

“That’s a good feeling, and you’ve looked great all weekend. Just remember to not get ahead of yourself, and watch when you’re making moves. You don’t want to be too aggressive early.” She then looks over, remembering how Christopher’s race went last year.

“Talking from experience?” Christopher shakes his head yes. He just wanted to forget about how last year went already. “I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.”

“Anytime. I want to see you do well.” She smiles back, hoping for the same thing. It wasn’t every day you got to the opportunity to drive for a team like Kyle Busch Motorsports.

“So, did I do a good job in the booth?” She hears as an arm wraps around her shoulders. She looks towards the face, smiling as she leans in for a quick kiss.

“I’d say that you did a good job,” she tells Chase. She had to admit that she was impressed with how flawlessly he took to the job of being an XFINITY Race Analyst. “I’d give you an A+ if I was your teacher.”

“Adam made it easy, thankfully,” he replies as he glances over at Christopher with a quick nod. “I just wanted to stop by and see you, and say good luck if we don’t get to see each other before the race starts. Have fun, be safe, and take in every bit of this moment. You’ve earned it and I’m proud of you.”

“Thank you, and I hope you have just as much as an amazing day as I am about to have. Enjoy and have fun in front of the hometown crowd, superstar.” Their conversation is then cut short as Sarina is called out for driver introductions as the 10th place qualifier, with Chase following directly behind her as he qualified ninth. The pair then get into the same truck together before heading out for the lap around the track. “So much for worrying about not being able to see eac-”

“Sssh, take in the moment. Enjoy it. Look out to the crowd, see all the people, and enjoy the cheers.” She then glances out, before looking back at him.

“I’m guessing those are all for you superstar.” Chase knew that was probably the case in being home, however he seen a few that he knew for sure had to be for her.

“I wouldn’t say they’re all mine as have a look at that sign and t-shirt the little girl is wearing there. You’re inspiring a whole generation, Sarina.” She then glances towards the girl that Chase is pointing at, immediately smiling even more as she gives a wave directly in that direction, before looking back at Chase.

“That’s just an amazing feeling.” He smiles as he continues to wave to the crowd, while putting one hand on her shoulder.

“Enjoy it, sweetheart. You’re about to become a superstar.”

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

Following the race, she climbs out of the truck and lets out a sigh. It wasn’t the day that she envisioned, but at least she had come home with a solid finish.

While she had hoped to start off the race in a solid manner, she found herself sideways in the middle of three-wide, sliding down the banking of the track. She was able to get away without a lot of damage, though, restarting at the back of the pack easily for the restart. She then worked her way back towards the field, piece by piece, eventually crossing the line in 14th.

She glanced towards the scoring pylon, smiling at the fact that Christopher had won the race. From what she’d seen, he had a pretty fast truck all day.

She then notices Chase in fifth and couldn’t help but smile at that result as well, as she had seen him slowing with a tire issue during the first stage. She also remembered the point just after one of the restarts where the pair got to run side-by-side for position for a couple laps, with him eventually passing her with the quicker truck. She had to admit even getting beaten it was neat to have that quick moment during her series debut, and couldn’t wait till they raced again later on once she got to knows the trucks better.

She felt her heart gutted in seeing Kyle back in 26th as she knew that he had a fast truck as well, but saw the tire issue that he had on a late-race restart causing him to get up in the wall. Thankfully, she got down in the middle lane in time to not make contact as she went by.

“Solid debut,” she hears as Kyle walks over.

“Thanks,” she replies as she was pleased, but the small bit of rejection laced her voice. “I can’t believe I made that mistake on Lap 1. I mean, really?” He had heard from the team about the mistake that she had, but couldn’t be upset as he knew those would come with a rookie.

“You’re learning, Sarina. There’s going to be mistakes along the way. That right there was a lesson in positioning the truck, and what three-wide moves don’t work. As you make more moves, you’ll see what works and what doesn’t. However, what matters is you were able to keep your head down, and focus on making a comeback, and were able to post a strong 14th place finish. For your very first truck series start, and on an intermediate track at that, you’ve impressed a lot of people including me.” She smiles as it felt nice to hear that compliment from Kyle, despite everything. Perhaps this racing thing was going to work out.

“Thanks. I appreciate that.”

“Now, you’ve got a month before the next race so I say you take this time and spend it wisely. Spend time with Chase, spend time with your brother, and relax. But also watch some videos from past Martinsville races, speak with the shop guys, and give me a shout for some advice. Knowing your short track background, I say you should do well there.” She hoped that he was right, as she had experience at Martinsville virtue of running some late races there and doing pretty well with a couple top-fives.

“Let’s hope it plays out, and again, thank you for the opportunity, the advice, and for everything that you’ve done. I mean, you’ve gone beyond what I ever expected, especially with what happ-”

“Sarina, you don’t need to go on with the thanks. It’s all part of looking out for my drivers and doing what I can so they have the best tools at their disposable to do well. If all this pays off in the form of success on track, than it’s good for you, good for me, and good for the whole company.”

“I’ll remember that.”

Beautiful Nightmare – Chapter 3: Sleepless Night

But when I rest

There is nothing I can do

 

After getting the tears out, Denny went over to the sink and took a handful of water, washing his face off before turning back to face Kyle.

“Thank you,” he says simply as Kyle just shakes his head.

“I told you that I’d come see you anytime,” Kyle assures him. “We all told you that, Denny. We’re all here for you.” Denny knew that. He remembered the conversation amongst the teammates when word got out what had happened. He remembered their hugs, words of encouragement, and assurance that they’d help him as much as he needed.

“I know…” Denny then takes the glass off the counter, dumping the last bit of alcohol down the drain as he sits the cup in the sink.

“Denny, what are you thinking?” Denny then takes a quick glance at the time, seeing how it was 2am, before looking back at Kyle.

“I’m tired. I haven’t been sleeping well the past week. It’s late. I want to sleep, but I’m scared to sleep.” Kyle shakes his head, understanding. He was glad that his teammate was starting to open up more, piece by piece.

“Why are you scared?” Denny leans back against the counter, thinking back to the past couple of nights when he had tried to sleep, whether up in the bedsroom they shared or on the couch.

“I don’t want to relive what happened. I want to remember what happened. I don’t want to see those images once again. However, as soon as I close my eyes, there she is, and something is happening. Sometimes it’s something good, other times it’s everything I want to forget.”  Kyle had heard that nightmares and flashbacks could happen. It was why talking with a psychiatrist was recommended so he could figure out how to handle those.

“They told you that day if you had any of those issues, you could seek a psychiatrist and he could help you so you could move forw-”

“I’m scared to talk to someone about it, okay? We established that already tonight, Kyle! Let’s just let superstar badass racecar driver who has one of the most cocky attitudes at times walk into some office and say, ‘Hey, I let some woman control and abuse me and now I can’t sleep at night’.  Does that sound right?”  Kyle lets out a sigh, knowing it wasn’t as easy as he had made it.

“I get that it’s not easy. That’s why they said it’s going to take time. I also understand your fears of wanting to open up, telling people in fear that they won’t believe you. However, the officer that night believed you and we were able to get the help you needed. I also understand it’s hard to make yourself feel vulnerable because you’ve been so strong for so long – but Denny, we both know that you have feelings and need to get this out. You can’t go months on end without sleeping. It’s not healthy.” Denny knew that Kyle was right, reminding himself once again of the words spoken earlier.

“I know what I need to do. I just need to keep telling myself what you’re saying and do it.”  Kyle shakes his head, accepting. It was a step in the right direction.

“Say for tonight, why don’t you try a change in scenery? Come over to my place. You can sleep in the spare bedsroom or on the couch.  Then we can worry about everything else tomorrow.” Denny shakes his head no. he couldn’t intrude on Kyle’s house after everything Kyle was already doing for him. Besides, he didn’t want to wake up from one of his nightmares screaming and freak out Brexton and Samantha.

“I’ll be fin-”

“You just said yourself tha-”

“Kyle, I’ll be fine. I’ll deal with it tonight and then take the first step tomorrow.”  Kyle couldn’t do anything but accept his teammate’s words. He wasn’t totally convinced yet, but he was willing to take a chance.

“Alright.  Well, if you’re headed to bed, I’m going to head home – but don’t be afraid to call, even if it is in a couple hours because you can’t sleep, okay?” Denny shakes his head yes as Kyle comes over and gives him a hug. “I mean it, Denny. It’s going to be okay.”

“Thank you. I appreciate what you’ve done, and tell Samantha that I appreciate her patience.”

“She just wants everything to work out for you.”

With a couple more trades back and forth, Kyle headed out to head home while Denny made his way upstairs to the bathroom. Slipping his pants and t-shirt off, he climbs under the blanket in his bare boxers. Considering how exhausted he was feeling, perhaps sleep would be easy tonight.

Denny makes his way into the motorcoach, smiling after putting down a great lap in qualifying to himself up to start third in Sunday’s race.

“Hey Dennykins,” Diane says, using the nickname that she had always used for him from the beginning.

“Hey sweet cheeks,” he replies with a smile, dropping a small kiss on her cheek. He then makes his way by, slipping the top of his firesuit off as he reaches into the fridge.

“Nice run out there. Glad to see that you got the car working.” He looks back with a smile, pleased himself. “But where have you been since then?” His smile immediately fades by the tone of her voice.

“What do you mean?”  She then stands and makes her way over, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Qualifying was done 20 minutes ago, Hamlin. Where have you been?” He had heard this tone before with her. It started before she had joined him at the track with late phone calls, curious if he was seeing other woman when they weren’t together. It had continued when she made the decision to quit her job so she could be there with him every week. The job quitting had caught him off-guard, but he was totally for it as he didn’t mind being able to spend more time with her.

“I got out of the car, followed my proper media obligations of interviews on pit road, spoke with Wheels about the car, and then spent some time with Kyle comparing notes before coming back.”  The smirk on her face equaled disbelief as she turned him so they were facing each other face-to-face.

“You’re such a liar!” She then gave him a slap across the face, catching him off-guard.

“Diane! What was that for?” She then crosses her arms, keeping her body pressed against his.

“I saw the TV screen. Sure, you did your interviews. But you want to explain the brunette who came over to talk to you?” Denny rolls his eyes, remembering the appearance by Christy.

“Christy Lawre-”

“Oh, so you know her full name as well? That’s just sweet, Denny.” Denny takes a deep breath, sensing where this was going. He had come to expect it with Diane as she had taken this route a couple times.  He understood her motive, though, as he had quite the history.

“She was my track girl here so she came over to see if I wanted to spend some time with her. I explained to her that I had a steady girlfriend, and wouldn’t need to see her tonight. She didn’t take acceptance to that for a bit, but then accepted with goals of hooking up with Kahne.” The look on Diane’s face meant that she didn’t quite believe that Denny had said.

“I don’t believe you, Denny. See, you probably went and had a quick hook up with her before heading back here after qualifying. It’s also why you probably need to leave early tomorrow before practice so you can have a hook up before then. Denny, we’ve talked about this. I told you that I wouldn’t accept cheating. I’m not just another girl.” Denny remembered the discussion, and had accepted immediately. He could honestly see a future with Diane.

“I can tell you with honesty that I didn’t have sex with Christy, or any other girl. I promis-” His words are then cut off by her reaching her hand down his pants, pinching him.

“This raised out after your little discussion while doing the interview tell otherwise.” He bit his tongue, resisting the urge to scream as he reached down for her hand, clasping it with his.

“I can promise you that wasn’t happening. You were seeing thin-”

“Denny oh Denny, your eyes say differently. What have I told you about that?” He lets out a sigh, looking into her eyes.

“Diane Chainwood, I can assure you that I would never cheat on you, ever.” She then relaxes a little. “I love you, a lot. I can honestly see a future with you.”

“I can see a future with you, too.” She then holds him against the wall, pressing her body firmly against his. “So if you ever do cheat on me, I will cut you half and make you watch as I pull your guts out. Don’t be a whore. You told me that bullshit was done.” Denny felt his body tension up at her firm behavior, even tense more as he saw her hand form into a fist, raising above to be level with his shoulder.

“I promise you…” The fist then drops as her lips clash against his, and he picks her up in his arms, carrying her back to the bed, pulling her back. She then assumes her position on top, making her way through the layers of clothing as more kisses come.

The discussion, despite having happened prior, he forgot about. It was just jealousy. It’d just disappear with time. She’d understand that he’d never cheat and those fears would go away, followed by the behavior that came with it.

Denny sits up suddenly in the bed, panting to himself as he shakes his head. Why did he let him believe that? If only he could’ve figured it out then, left her then, he wouldn’t get himself in the rest of the mess that he found himself in.

Scurrying out of the bed, he rushes to the bathroom, turning the shower water on as he strips out of his boxers. He didn’t want to feel her on him. He didn’t want reminders of the awesome, splendid, pleasure-filled sex. He didn’t want to think about her touch against his skin. As he climbs under the hot water, he wanted to wash away every single memory or moment from his thoughts.