Moving Forward – Chapter 18: Can-Am Duels

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Congratulations to Chase on winning the pole! Not a surprise considering Hendrick Motorsports’ ability to be quick on the plate tracks in qualifying, and in general.

 

February 2016 – Thursday

“So explain how this works now?” Chase asks as he looks over at Alan. Alan simply shakes his head yes, having gotten word of the latest developments in Daytona.

“Elliott (Sadler) won the Daytona 500 pole with Dale’s car, but driver change results in giving up the pole and starting from the rear of today’s Duel,” Alan answers. “Therefore Denny Hamlin will lead the field to the green in today’s first Duel, with Dale starting at the rear of the field. Whomever wins today’s first Duel will lead the field to the green flag for the Daytona 500.” Chase shakes his head, understanding. It seamlessly somehow made sense.

“And then our duel…”

“Johnson leading the field to the green as second place qualifier, followed by Kenseth and then you. Just stick with Jimmie, and get a good finish, and we will start strong.” Chase lets out a small chuckle as he shakes his head.

“Easier said than done.” Alan gives him look as Chase shrugs his shoulder. “I’m just saying. Daytona can be wild.” Alan gives him a pat on the back.

“You’ll be fine, kid.” Their attention then turns to all the fuss and noise as they glance in the direction, both smiling. “The Royal family has arrived with children in toe.” Chase couldn’t help but smile as he saw Dale and Marie together with their two little girls.

The pair made their way through their way over, letting some of the attention faze down before making their way into the crowd. It seemed that they were the center of attention with everyone wanting to catch a glimpse of Elsa for themselves.

“You’ve got some time before the race – nice timing,” Dale’s PR Laura comments as she leans back against the car, sending out a couple messages to social media.

“Can I see her?” Chase asks as he makes his way over to Marie, who had Elsa clutched against her.

“I’m going to head back to the motorcoach soon to keep her out of the noise and hoopla, but I think that can be arranged,” Marie answers as she moves Elsa away from herself a little to allow Chase to catch a glimpse of her. An immediate smile formed on Chase’s face in seeing how she had Dale’s smile, but certainly got her mom’s eyes.

“She’s adorable. Congratulations.”

“Thank you.”

“Chasey!” Chase hears a small voice and immediately smiles as he looks towards the source.

“Hey Alyssa,” he says as he kneels down to her level. “So you finally made it down here, huh?” She shakes her head yes.

“I come see you and daddy race. You gonna win?” He stays there, giving her a thinking grin as he thinks it over. He knew that he had a car capable of winning. It was just a matter of doing his job behind the wheel.

“I’m going to try to win. Do you think I can win?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. “Well, hopefully I do and then you can come celebrate.”

“Okay!” Chase then smiles as he looks over at Dale and Marie together with Elsa, talking to all the people that had gathered to see her for themselves.

“Do you like your baby sister?” Alyssa shakes her head yes.

“She cute. I hold her with daddy.” Chase smiles, having seen the photo that had been forwarded around of that moment.

“Are you going to help mommy and daddy take care of her?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. “That’s a good girl.

Everybody hung out for awhile longer before splitting, with Dale getting ready for the first Duel, Chase getting set to watch the race with Alan, and Marie heading back to the motorcoach with kids to keep them both out of trouble.

The first Duel went smoothly without any incidents, surprisingly, despite the chaotic three-wide racing through the field from start to finish. Dale was easily able to make his way up to the front of the field, putting himself in position to capitalize late in the race and possibly score the victory.

Unfortunately, his plan didn’t come together as warranted as he’d end up a close second, finishing behind Hamlin. Regardless, there were no complaints on the 88 team as that meant they’d get to start third in the Duel.

“It’s all about Sunday,” Dale tells Greg once the race is done. “We’ve got a really strong car. We’ve proved that we could make the moves today. It’s just about perfecting on it and making the right moves on Sunday.”

“You did a great job out there,” Greg says as he gives him a hug. “Now, I’m not going to keep you. I hear there’s a family that wants to spend time with their daddy.” Dale chuckles and shakes his head no.

“Actually, Elsa has been mommy’s little cuddle bug since she was born. But, maybe I can change that.” Greg smiles as he watches Dale head off to join Marie and the kids in the motorcoach.

The second Duel would go how Hendrick Motorsports wanted, as Chase followed the instructions of his crew chief to a key. He stuck to the bumper of Jimmie from the drop of the green flag, continuing to give him little pushes to keep the pair 1-2. When it came to the first pit stop, the No. 24 team was quick and handy in their pit work, getting Chase off of pit road ahead of Jimmie.

No complaints from either Chase or Jimmie in that, as the key was to stick together, work together and finish 1-2, regardless of the order.

Despite being challenged heavily through the final laps, Chase was able to hold off all challengers with the help from Jimmie, crossing the finish line to pick up the victory.

In victory lane, the celebration quickly started with the team spraying liquids of all sorts all over each other, and high-fiving each other. It was certainly nice to not only start off their year on a high note, but know that they had a stellar piece for the Daytona 500.

As Chase was celebrating with the team, he felt a small tug on the pant leg of his firesuit, looking down with an immediate smile.

“She kept bugging to come see you,” Justin Allgaier comments as Chase smiles. “So I told Dale that I’d bring her over.”

“It’s usual – she always comes to victory lane when I win,” Chase says before picking her up into his arms.

“You won!” Alyssa says as she wraps her arms around him.

“Yep, you were right that I could win,” he tells her, before setting her back down. “Did you watch the whole race?” She shakes her head yes. “So, do you think I can beat your daddy on Sunday?” Alyssa thinks it over, and then shrugs her shoulders.

“Maybe. Me no know.” He just chuckles as he playfully messes with her hair.

“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens, right?” She shakes her head yes.

Love & Work: A Combo of Madness — Chapter 25: The Article

Dale was focused on checking on some quick e-mails when he heard a knock on the door. He glanced up, seeing his PR rep Laura Scott standing there. He simply offered her a quick smile, before motioning for her to come in the office.

“I thought you had nothing else for me to do,” he comments as she lets out a sigh. She wished that she didn’t have to be standing there delivering this batch of news, however there was no choice. She didn’t want her driver to get bomb-sided by it or surprised when he logged into his twitter account, so she figured warning would be the best policy.

“I don’t have anything for you to do,” she tells him as she reaches the desk. “I have something that you should see, though.” He then looks up at her intrigued as she slides the printed piece of paper across the desk. “This was published this morning. Considering the reputable source, I figured you better read it yourself.” Dale looks at her slightly intrigued, before looking down at the piece of paper, his jaw dropping immediately. Right in the midst of Fox Sports’ Shake and Bake Crew blog was a story that he and Angelica were dating.

“This has to be a prank….” Laura shakes her head no, putting to the address that was posted at the bottom of the page, which if typed in a web browser would take him to the actual article on any device. She figured that he wouldn’t believe her.

“I figured that it would come out eventually in the form of rumors since everybody has their ways with you and your previous reputation, but it came out rather quicker than I thought possible. Who knew it’d take two races for people to draw their conclusions.” She then takes a deep breath, quickly reading it over as she points to a middle chunk of the article. “The best part, though, is this clever mention.”

Dale then picks up the piece of paper, set to take a read for himself based on Laura’s comments of concern surrounding the article. If it was enough buzz to get her in his office that morning than it was enough for him to read.

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Midst of Relationship with Crew Chief? 

It seems there’s a new relationship in the garage, and it doesn’t stem far from the actual competition itself.

According to rumors spread through the Sprint Cup Series garage, it seems that Dale Earnhardt Jr. and new crew chief Angelica Lockson are not only paired together by the boss, but also in life in the midst of a relationship. The rumor mill took over the garage by storm over the course of this past weekend at Phoenix International Speedway.

 If you think about it, it wouldn’t mark a big surprise. A driver and crew chief spend a lot of time together so a relationship is quite possible and easily able to form.

Though according to one crew member from another team, whom wished to not be named, the pair had a previous connection from before and it seems that the pairing by the boss has rekindled their connection. It’ll be interesting to see how the personal relationship affects the professional relationship now.

Lockson was promoted to the crew chief role after spending the past several years on the No. 48 team as an engineer for Jimmie Johnson. Greg Ives, who previously assumed the crew chief role, left his post due to personal reasons.

 

“Do you have any idea on the mysterious person, and is that fact true?” Laura asks after a couple of minutes, drawing Dale’s eyes off of the page. He could lie and just tell her that he knew nothing, but that wouldn’t be productive. It was better that she knew everything to handle whatever may come out.

“It’s true – we dated for a couple of months, secretly, but broke it off due to a lack of belief and commitment on my part,” Dale reveals, before looking back down at the page. He was debating on the best way to kill Denny Hamlin and some of his crew members. “It was a member off of Hamlin’s team. Angelica confided in Denny, and Denny isn’t liking the way things are go-”

“Are you guys actually together?” Dale immediately looks up and shakes his head no.

“Denny suspects that we’re together, but we’re not. Angelica and I are just friends. We’ve talked about the possibility, but settled on working to regain trust before we even think about a relationship. Anyways, he doesn’t how he sees things, so he mentioned something to Brandon and Dustin on his team, and they spread it around the garage like wild fire. Angelica and I got word of it before the race, and she supposedly had a sweet chat with Denny.”

“Well, I knew that there’d be drama with a female crew chief and your reputation and fans, but I didn’t know it’d be like this.” She then turns on her heels and heads for the door, before glancing back. “You may want to tell Angelica, and warn some of those close to you about how valid this all is. Other than that, I’ll try and quiet the storm as much as I can. However, there’s not much that I can do when it comes to this kind of stuff.” Dale shakes his head, understanding. it was something that he had grown used to thus far in his career.

“Don’t worry – we can handle what they have to say. We know how to ignore it and focus on our job. Let them talk, and we’ll just go out there and win races.” Laura smiles as she gives him a quick thumbs up before leaving his office.

He then checks his phone quickly, sending a quick text to the important people close to him that they weren’t together, before forwarding the link to Angelica with a piece of advice on how to handle it. He then logged into twitter, writing a quick tweet without a glance at the notifications, before closing it.

@DaleJr: Gotta love rumors. For your info – @AngelicaLockson88 is just my crew chief, nothing more. But thanks anyways @FoxSports and others.

Moving Forward – Chapter 6: Preparations for Daytona

Thanks for reading and reviewing 🙂

 

 

“So what am I releasing again?” Laura questions as she sits at her desk while on the phone with her driver.

 

Dale hated to be having this conversation. it wasn’t one of the parts that he liked about the plan that they had for Daytona. However, here he laid back on the couch at home, on the phone with his PR rep. It was time to organize the perfect press release for the Daytona Plan.

 

“I am not going to be in Daytona for the start of Speedwee-” Dale starts as he relaxes back on the couch at home.

 

“Wait!” She cuts him off, shocked beyond belief. “You’re not going to be in Daytona? Why wasn’t I told sooner?” Dale rolls his eyes, switching screens on his phone to send Greg an angry text.

 

“Sorry. Greg was supposed to tell you as this was arranged about a wee-”

 

“Does Rick know? You’re going to miss all the media pre-season interviews and shots?” Dale lets out a sigh, remembering Rick’s words in the office that day.

 

“Rick says that he has no problem with it. He was supposed to get you to talk to the reps about doing stuff after. He assumed there’d be no issues.” Laura could only roll her eyes as she opened up her notebook, making a note to contact the Daytona Media Blitz Tour head after their conversation.

 

“There probably won’t be, given that you are whom you are. So you’re not going to be in Daytona…..” Dale takes a deep breath, glad that they were back on a straightened note once again.

 

“That is correct. I am going to be staying at home with Marie with the impending birth of our child. Once the child is born, I will fly out to Dayt-”

 

“What if the child isn’t born by the Shootout, qualifying, etc?” She had no choice but to ask, considering that she’d be stalked by the media for answers.

 

“Will you please let me explain the plan, Laura?” Laura lets out a sigh as she keeps her notebook open, keenly listening. “Since you so badly want your answer, if the baby isn’t born by Saturday or Sunday, I will miss both of those events. If the baby isn’t born by Thursday, I may or may not run the Duel; Greg and I are still up in the air about that. I will not miss the Daytona 500, though, under any circumstance.”

 

“That’s all understandable, and I can see why the boss would agree so easily since he cares. As much as I am being a bitch right now, I do care about you and Marie and have no issue with the plan. I will say, though, that we need to improve the lines of communication as I shouldn’t be working on this the night before Daytona.” Dale had to agree as he sent Greg yet another angry text in wondering why the message hadn’t been delivered promptly.

 

“I sincerely apologize as I text Greg in anger for not letting you know as he was supposed to. Furthermore, I appreciate your comments and understanding. Now, you’re probably wondering who is going to fil-”

 

“Elliott Sadler.” Dale froze in shock at her immediately guessing the name.

 

“How did you figure that out?” She couldn’t help but smile in having success with the guess. If he had answered otherwise, she knew that it had to be Justin Allgaier then.

 

“He has Cup experience and he’s driving for your XFINITY team. It’s easy sense, Dale.” Dale had to give her credit – she was smart with her comments.

 

“So, what do you need from me for this press release now that you’re caught up?” Laura quickly glances over the notes, seeing how things came together. It made quick sense as to how she’d write the release, obviously letting that out in the morning before panic set in by the media.

 

“I need a quote from yourself, and I will also call Rick and get a quote from him. Oh, and I need either Elliott’s phone number or your PR department at JR Motorsports’ phone number. Can you help me out?” Dale shakes his head yes, quickly finding the numbers in his phone.

 

“I can e-mail you the quote, as well as both phone numbers in about 10 minutes, okay?” She knew that’d be fine, given that she had to get in contact with Rick. Given his hectic schedule sometimes, that probably would take awhile.

 

“That’s fine. Oh, you were supposed to run the XFIN-”

 

“Chase is filling in for me if I am not there on time. We already talked about it, and my PR department is taking care of that, per Kelley. Any further questions?” Laura glanced over her notes one more time, satisfied with the conversation.

 

“I’m good and Dale, tell Marie to walk around the house and bounce up and down on a bouncy ball so that baby comes immediately. I can’t believe that a little racing fan would try to screw up Daytona with a late delivery.” Dale laughs, thought wondered to himself what their second daughter would be like. Alyssa was immediately a racing fan, just like him in many ways but with some of the looks from her mother. He wondered whether Elsa would be the same way, or have some other likes of her own. Either way, he wasn’t going to force his kids into the racing lifestyle if they didn’t want to be involved.

 

“I don’t get it either. I’ll be sure to have that discussion with Marie and the baby.” He hadn’t yet to tell her the name of the baby, not wanting it to be leaked in anyway. At this point, only he and Marie knew the name that they had picked out.  “Thanks for everything Laura. See you hopefully early next week.”

 

“Sounds good. Bye Dale.”

 

“Bye Laura.” Dale then hangs up the phone as he glances over at Marie, who had taken up camping on the couch. He had just gotten done massaging her feet to help her feel better. Oh the drags of pregnancy – the feeling of fatness, sore swollen feet and the odd cravings. “Alyssa, what are you doing?” Dale then finds himself, though, focused on his daughter. She had just entered the room trailing a bag behind her. He thought it may be the kindergarten’s student’s backpack, but that wasn’t the case.

 

“I pack Daddy,” she tells him as she walks right over to him. He then looks at her surprised, with another glance towards the bag.

 

“Oh really?” He questions. “And where do you think you’re off to?” A smile formed on her face immediately. She knew exactly what Daytona meant when she heard the word – seeing Mickey and racecars on a BIG track.

 

“’Aytona!” He couldn’t help but giggle in hearing those words.

 

“Why are you packed for Daytona, sweetie?” A slight look of confusion comes over the five-year-old’s face.

 

“Race car! Mickey! Chase pack. Regan pack. Kasey pack. I pack.” She then looks around, wanting to find her daddy’s bag. However, it was nowhere in sight as her little blue eyes focused back on him. “Daddy pack?”

 

“Come here…” He then picks her up, setting her on his lap as he debates the best way to explain this to a five-year-old. “Mommy is going to have a baby soon so mommy can’t fly, remember?” Alyssa shakes her head yes as she looks over at her mother. “Daddy wants to stay with mommy till the baby is born. So right now, daddy isn’t going to Daytona yet. We’re going to go to Daytona after the baby is born, okay?” Alyssa gives him an odd glance, a thinking glance and then finally shakes her head yes.

 

“Daddy take care of mommy, ‘ight?” Dale shakes his head yes. “I help!”

 

“You are a good little helper. I love you.” A small smile forms on Alyssa’s face as she leans towards Dale and gives him a kiss.

 

“I love you. I go play, otay?” Dale shakes his head yes as he lets her down and she runs off to resume playing, probably with either her lego, cars or princesses.

Mayday #9 – Chapters 16 Thru 20

Chapter 16: Packing for Daytona

It seemed as though the next couple of weeks passed by rather quickly as they were getting ready to head to Daytona for the Coke Zero 400, which would then followed by the trial that they were all dreading.

Since talking to Regan about things, it’d certainly made things easier for Chase and it made what happened much easier to deal with. No more sleepless nights, no more nightmares, no more scary thoughts – everything was peachy in his life. But that didn’t mean that he was even close to being excited, or feeling fine about the trial to come following Daytona. Telling Regan about what happened was one thing, but having to sit and tell a bunch of people that he didn’t know was another totally. Wasn’t there anyway out of it?

“I’m sorry Mr. Elliott but you’re going to have to walk into that court room and tell them what happened based on the subpoena that they gave you,” the lawyer states as he looks over the piece of paper that Chase had received a couple weeks ago.

“You can call me Chase, and there’s got to be a way out of it,” Chase comments as he looks over at the lawyer. “He’s trying to prove that he was forced to do what he did by Mariella. What does that deal with me?”

“She’s not there to say what happened because of her dying while attacking.” Regan looks over, intrigued by the discussion. He had come over to see how Chase’s packing for Daytona was going. More so, he was intrigued as to what the young man was thinking. He wasn’t expecting the lawyer to be there.

“She died attacking him – the police shot her because she was choking him,” Regan recalls as he thinks back. “Anybody, not just Chase, could state that she did that. The cop that issued the shot. I could even say it because I witnessed it. Why force him to say it?”

“They’re trying to prove how ruthless and heartless she wa-” The lawyer starts as Regan rolls his eyes.

“Again, I could say that based on what happened and the police report could say that. That, along with Dale’s testimony as to what happened, proves that. The end.” The lawyer then takes a deep breath as he sets the piece of paper down.

“Mr. Smith, it wasn’t me who requested that Mr. Elli-”

“You aren’t fighting it, either. If you believe what I’m saying, then why don’t you go down there and fight against him saying something? And if you want a reason – call it psychological. He couldn’t sleep from when that happened in February to the beginning of this month because it was bugging him. Is that enough reason to try and avoid it?” The lawyer slowly shakes his head yes as he pulls out a notepad from his briefcase.

“I’ll make a note to say in the court room that the incident between Mr. Elliott and Ms. Kastona Calantay should be discussed by Mr. Elliott due to psychological reasons, and that if discussion is warranted, it can be handled by a witness.” The lawyer then looks up and over at Chase. “However, you still need to take the stand, by my instruction. He is trying to prove that he was forced by Ms. Kastona Calantay, correct? However, in the behavior that he portrayed with you in leading you away from the team and to the trailer, did he seem as though he was unnerved?” Chase thinks it over, remembering the entire exchange, before shaking his head no.

“He looked as if he knew what he was doing,” Chase comments as the lawyer shakes his head yes.

“That’s why I need you to take to the stand and explain that exchange, in relation to what happened, his behavior and his attitude in your eyes,” the lawyer explains. “That, along with some of the text messages that we were able to retrieve from Ms. Kastona Calantay’s phone, the timing of his hiring with Hendrick Motorsports and how he handled things with Mr. LeTarte will prove that he was acting along with her, not forced by her. Are you okay with telling your part, only in relation to Mr. Roberts, and leaving the rest undiscussed?” Chase takes a deep breath. He knew that he could talk about Randy without a tinge of fear or issue, as that he had grown really comfortable in the time that had passed.

“I can do that.”

“Thank you. now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to pay a visit to the other two and hope they’re prepared for next week. I will see you later. Goodbye Mr. Elli-”

“It’s Chase, and goodbye sir.”

“Bye!” Regan chimes in as the lawyer puts his belongings in his briefcase and heads out. Chase follows, closing the door behind him afterwards as he lets out a sigh. “Glad that he’s gone?” Chase glances down the hall at Regan with a smile.

“You’re amazing – honestly,” Chase comments. “Thank you for sticking up and saying something.”

“That’s what friends are for. Now, are you packed yet?” Chase lets out a laugh and shakes his head no.

“I always pack at the last minute. Haven’t you learned that yet?” Regan shakes his head in disbelief as he heads down the hall.

“When are you going to learn to be prepared?” Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“Outfits are simple. I’m in my firesuit most of the time anyway. I just need a couple pairs of jeans, my NAPA dress shirts for the sponsor functions, and some t-shirts for when it’s just me. Oh, and my sweater.” Regan then follows Chase to the bedsroom, leaning against the door when they get there.

“So you’re going to wear one pair of underwear all weekend, and one pair of socks? Yuck!” Chase then grabs a pair and chucks it at Regan, who ducks. “Dude, that’s just wrong. Those are nasty. I don’t want to touch something that’s touched your skinny little ass.”

“Least you know that my ass has behaved.” Regan just shakes his head.

“I can see what a nice influence living on Dale’s property has been for you. Where’s the innocent little boy that I used to know?” Chase smiles as he looks up from his suitcase.

“Still innocent.” Regan smiles as he knew that was a true fact. He then walks in the room and sits on the edge of the bed, curiosity sitting in. all of the young boys in the garage always seemed to have someone on their arm. Chase, not quite.

“So when are you going to get a girl?” Chase shrugs his shoulders as he rummages through some shirts, looking for a couple.

“When the right one crosses paths with me, whenever that may be. Is it wrong to wait for the right one?” Regan shakes his head no as he lies back on the bed.

“Perhaps Erin would be a good start.” Chase instantly looks up and shakes his head no.

“No…no…no. Myself and Erin are just best friends, nothing else. Are we clear?” Regan shakes his head yes, slowly.

“Don’t get all offended. I meant that in good taste, however I understand the friend zone boundary.” Chase then throws a couple shirts in the bag. “Don’t forget some good pants, dress shirts and such for court.” Chase heads to the closet, going through the variety to choose from.

“Why do we have to do this?”

“Blame the justice system. Innocent till proven guilty.” Chase knew that, but still didn’t want to face the music that was to come, no matter how comforting they were trying to make it.

“I just wish that I could build a time machine and fast forward past it.”

 

Chapter 17: Returning to Daytona

In the eyes of the group, they had returned back to a place that had a package of mixed emotions attached. It was also a place where none of them could wipe the events from February from their minds.

However, they had returned with a positive mindset. None of them were set to let it bug them or the goals at hand in winning the races ahead of them. It was a role of simple concentration and not letting the events plague their minds.

While that was their plan, it wasn’t in the plans of others.

Their fellow drivers hadn’t made any comments, obviously understanding the seriousness of what happened and the pain that it had caused. While there were some who didn’t have the best relationships with each other, it was mutual agreement to not bring it up.

No, it had been the duty of the media members that chose to bring up the discussion, in their stories leading into the weekend. They questioned how the events would play into the thoughts of Dale and Chase. They questioned whether there’d be flashbacks, and whether the drivers would truly have what it took to get through the weekend. Both ignored the stories, not giving it care. They knew to expect it, but also knew to avoid it.

Though, avoiding it could only be done for so long, as the discussions immediately became apparent at the first press conference of the weekend. It was the weekly scheduled media conference that Dale was used to doing each weekend. Spend about 15 to 20 minutes with the media answering their questions. However, this one turned different. It wasn’t a normal racing media member that brought up the question – it was one that was solely there due to the royalty reasons.

With Marie being the Queen and Dale being the King of Pitronia, royal news had their part in following their actions. This weekend and the upcoming trial were receiving more attention than other things – simply due to what happened and how Marie’s sister Mariella had died in the process.

“Sir, how are the events that happened in February affecting you this weekend?” The reporter asked, bringing shock to the room as others hadn’t intended on bringing it up. To most, there was a time and place for that – during the trial period, of course. Dale took a deep breath as he focused on the reporter.

“It is not affecting me as I’m not thinking about it,” Dale answered. “I’m focused on the race this weekend and winning. Nothing else. I’ll worry about that next week.”

“Anymore questions?” The moderator asked as he looks around the room.

Things finished up shortly thereafter with Dale thanking them for their time before leaving.

“They’ll always be someone that brings it up,” Laura comments as they head out of the media center.

“It didn’t matter so we don’t need to discuss,” Dale tells her with a glance her way.

“If you want, I can ask for it not to be discussed for the rest of the weekend.” Dale shakes his head, knowing that wouldn’t be a problem. In his mind, it wasn’t something of thought.

“It’s fine Laura – honestly.” Dale then stops and thinks it over as he glances around, before returning his eyes to Laura. “Actually, do me a favor. Make sure that they don’t ask Chase anything.” Laura shakes her head, understandingly.

“That’s not a problem. I’m going to go work on making sure the transcript is posted and such. You have practice in an hour.” She then heads off, leaving Dale for the rest of the walk alone.

He then continues the walk, leaving his thoughts to his own. He knew that he made the right decision in telling Laura that. Everything had hit Chase the hardest and given the time it took him to come out and tell Regan everything, he didn’t want to even begin to open the door to what happened. He knew that it’d have to open – come trial time – but he was willing to keep it shut as long as he could.

It was also true that indeed – everything had changed. It felt different being in the role of a King as he was in charge of a country. Sure, Marie handled everything for the most part in doing the paperwork and duties. However, there were times that he felt the weight when she’d ask for his opinion. How do you make decisions that affect a whole country of people and their lives? What if you make one wrong choice?

Though beyond that, it seemed that the events of the off-season and February were, for the most part, behind him. There were certainly some frightening moments along the way, but they had subsided and allowed everything to come back to focus. He couldn’t complain with the love that he and Marie had, how much Alyssa was growing each day and how well racing was going.

The positive thoughts flipped to the other side of the garage as well as Chase was in a good mood. Just done the first Xfinity Series practice, he had a fast car and felt that he had a good chance at winning. It seemed as though the perfect weekend was coming together.

“So, do you want to come hang out with us or not?” Darrell asked, snapping Chase out of his thoughts as he glanced towards the fellow driver. “I think it’d be a great idea for you on Sunday.” Chase leans against the car, thinking it over. He had the race later that night and planned on watching the Cup race on Saturday night. For Sunday, there were no plans in mind, but they were staying in Florida, given what was to come.

“I don’t know…” Chase lets out as he looks between the pair.

“Listen, we both know that you need to let loose for awhile and have some fun,” Ryan starts as he leans against the car beside Chase. “Let’s face it – you’re under a lot of stress and worry about the trial and what happened. You’ve had a killer year to date with the flashbacks.” Chase then glances between them.

“It was obvious to us that you weren’t sleeping that well for a couple of months there,” Darrell comments. “We’re your friends – we see everything.”

“You need to do something fun for yourself. You got to let loose. Just come spend a day with us and Kyle (Larson).” Chase thinks it over, knowing that the pair were probably right as it would probably be good to get away for awhile. “Please?”

“What do you have in mind?” Chase questions, curiously, as the pair glance towards each other.

“A trip to Disney to tackle the big scary roller coasters and find out who the biggest chicken is, or a possible trip to just hang out at the beach,” Ryan offers.

“It’s your decision,” Darrell informs him. Darrell had gotten Ryan and Kyle together and discussed the need to do a get away with their good friend as they could tell that he needed it. They all agreed, knowing that it’d be the best thing that they could do given the situation, also agreeing that they’d leave it up to Chase as to where they would go.

“We could even go go-karting.”

“Aren’t you scared of getting your ass kicked?” Chase challenges as Ryan laughs.

“You don’t scare me Elliott,” Ryan answers as he crosses his arms.

“So do you accept my challenge?”

“Go-karting it is – that’s if Bubba is ready to be put in the tire barrier.” Darrell laughs as a smirk forms on his face.

“Oh Ryan, you seem to forget that it was you who ate rubber the last time courtesy of me,” Darrell challenges in response as Chase just smiles.

His friends were right. It’d be good to get away for a day and have some fun.

 

Chapter 18: Royalty….

July 2015

“How much paperwork do you have to shift through each day?” Jason asks as he sits in the motorcoach on the couch before the Sprint Cup race that night playing a video game with Dale.

“Lots,” Marie answers with a sigh as she reads the latest piece that has landed in the stack.

“I told you – hire a secretary or a clerk or whatever they call it,” Dale suggests as he glances over at her, only to receive a stare.

“That won’t be necessary as I can handle this, Dale. We’ve been over thi-”

“You’re working your ass off too hard and it’ll take it’s tol-”

“I know how to balance things, so you don’t need to give me instructions.” She then reads over the piece of paper, signing the bottom before putting it in the stack. “Besides, this is a good balance. I deal with this paperwork while Sharon and Joshua run day-to-day things. I can’t complain and no matter what you both want to say about too much work, I can handle it.” Dale lets out a sigh as the discussion had been had between the pair on multiple occasions since March.

The amount of papers that she seemed to be shifting through just seemed to never end. The variety varied between court judgments that required her ruling due to appeal, to laws that were being appealed and possibly needed to be changing. She had made some significance changes, addressing the unfair laws that her father had put in place to make the country better for her people. For the most part, everything had gone over well.

The paperwork was the only complaint that was shared so far, though. As stated before, they could balance everything without any issues being had. She was able to take a week each month to go spend there – as appointed in the original agreement – and it didn’t seem to bug Dale, either. He was able to handle things at his end with racing and Alyssa in that period without issue, only sharing small thoughts of missing her. However, not seeing her for a week is something that he could deal with given the interesting situation they were dealt.

“So you’re King…” Jason starts, interrupting Dale’s thoughts as he looks over at him. “Do you get to, like, make any decisions?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“I could very well also go through the papers as well and sign off on stuff, but she won’t allow me,” Dale answers as Jason looks between them, surprised.

“He has his race team to run and racing to focus on,” Marie explains. “Besides, I enjoy handling business.”

“I don’t argue with her because why bother? If there’s anything that she’s second-guessing herself or not sure on, she runs it by me for approval. There’s also some things that require both of our approval.”

“But under any circumstance, I could throw him off the throne.” Dale then smiles as he gets up and walks up behind her, wrapping both arms around her neck.

“But you wouldn’t do that, now would you?” She then glances up at him with a smirk on her face.

“Don’t test me, Earnhardt. There’s some da-” He then cuts her words off with a kiss before rubbing her shoulders.

“You know that’s not true. You love me. You can’t go by a day without thinking about me.” Marie smiles as she leans back against him.

“Okay, you caught me. Happy?” She then flips through the paperwork to a binder that she hid at the bottom, pulling it out to the top and flipping it open. “So I’ve been doing some thinking. We talked about getting married and the wedding. We need to focus on dates.” Dale immediately flips her calendar to December and January.

“You have from mid December to mid January to do it – but not too close to Christmas, since during the race season is too hectic.” She shakes her head, understanding, having already sorted that out in her mind. It was why she had circled a date in question on the calendar.

“We talked about waiting till December 2016/January 2017 du-”

“We’re still going to do that, right?” Marie looks up at him before returning her eyes back to the calendar.

“I think we could still do it this year, actually. It gives us five to six months to put everything in order, which is enough time in my mind.” Dale knew that it would be enough time – if she said so – however, wondered whether it was the right decision.

They had been through a lot in the past year so far to date, with the trial still ahead of them the following week. Did they want a wedding truthfully at the end of the year? Or did they want to leave more time, due to trying to work their way through what happened?

While Dale had kept an attitude to everybody that he was over and done with what happened, it was a bit of a lie. There were nights that he’d still call up Rick or Steve to talk to them about various feelings. Some of it was pitty little things that he realized after were ridiculous to even have – while other pieces were true fears. He had at least gotten back used to flying, and thankfully convinced Alyssa that planes were okay as well. Though trust in strangers was something that they were building as if someone were to work up and spook him from behind, you wouldn’t always get the prettiest response possible.

On the flip side, Marie was still balancing her emotions. There was a lot on plate to balance, especially with so many family pieces. She was trying to get the relationship back together with her mother after the distrust that happened. She wanted to trust her mom and have the relationship that they had, but it was so hard with the events that transpired. There’d also be days where she’d be sad that her sister and father were gone, but yet others that she’d be so angry. There were days that she’d be asking herself why she was stuck in such a crazy family, and why things happened. It was why she liked to busy herself in the paperwork, as it was a good distraction from those thoughts for her.

“Should I leave?” Jason asks, seeing the looks between the couple in discussing possible wedding plans.

“No ‘eave – you play!” Alyssa tells him as she continues playing Mario Kart with him.

“Alyssa has final vote,” Dale states with his tongue sticking out before returning his eyes back to Marie. “Are you sure it’s enough time?” She shakes her head yes.

“We can determine within the next two to three weeks how big we want the wedding and who we want there,” she starts. “Then make sure the invites are sent out. Once they are, we can work on loca-”

“I got that covered.” Marie smiled as she knew exactly what her fiancé was thinking – the church that was part of his Western Town. They thought of doing a homey felt wedding with their vows said in that church and the reception held in the Saloon – obviously refitted for reception material. They would do the wedding with their closest friends and family – number to be determined. Then a week later, head to Pitronia and announce the marriage officially to ‘their people’ as that was part of the marriage process in being King and Queen.

“So we just need to determine the final guest list and send out the invites. Once that’s done, it’s all about getting a minister, DJ, catering, determining color theme, followed by dress shopping. The dress shopping is the worst part of it for a bride, but I can promise you that I will handle that quickly. I’m not one of those picky brides.” It sounded as though she had things under control and Dale was set to agree to her plan, however there was one thought that stood in the way and partially also why they had adjusted the date.

“What about you? You’re going to be about five to six months pregnant.” Jason then looks over as his jaw drops in shock.

“You’re pregnant?” He asks, still shocked as Dale eyes look over at Jason before turning back to Marie.

“I’m sorr-” Dale starts.

“It’s fine – Jason can know,” Marie assures him as she looks over at Jason. “About a month pregnant, due in February. We found out about a week ago. Now can you keep it a secret, like Alyssa promised, for a couple months?” Jason shakes his head in agreement, understanding.

Marie hadn’t been feeling like herself and it had Dale worried to bits that she was running herself down with too much work. Truth was, when she made a trip to the doctor to see what was up, she found out she was pregnant.

It was a shock to the pair due to everything else going on their lives, but honestly wasn’t much of a surprise considering how much they loved each other, and spending time together. Both of them were happy for the news, having discussed plans already of expanding their family to two or more children one day.

It was just a small worry between them in making sure they kept things in check, with everything else that had been going on in their lives. Dale had also made her promise to cut back on the amount of work she was doing to make sure that she took care of herself. She promised him that she’d do that, having finally agreed to talk to Sharon about hiring a clerk.

“I be big sister soon!” Alyssa cheers in excitement with a big smile on her face.

“Alyssa, remember…” Dale says as she looks over at her daddy.

“I know daddy – secret. I no tell anyone.” She then looks back towards the game as Jason jut smiles at the pair.

“Congratulations,” he says.

“Thanks,” Marie comments before turning her eyes back to Dale. “I know I’ll be pregnant. However, I can assure you that I can get married while I’m pregnant. I can walk down that aisle in a wedding dress pregnant. I can enjoy the reception. I can even make sure to indulge in the beautiful food.”

“Well that you must do since you’re eating for two,” Dale tells her before kissing her lips again.

“The decision is yours whether what year we marry.”

“Fine – we’ll marry at the end of this year, between Christmas and New Years. Besides, I can’t wait to call you my wife anyway.”

Chapter 19: Go-Karting
July 2015

“I thought he was going to win,” Chase comments as they head out to the go-kart track. “I thought he was far enough ahead.”

“But you thought wrong as that run that Kyle got off four was huge!” Darrell says as the pair talk about the Coke Zero 400. Dale had been leading late in the race, but with a run to the checkered flag, Kyle Busch scored the win by inches.

“Matt was sure locked on to his bumper,” Ryan comments. “It was good.”

“Just as good as you being edged at the line by me?” Chase questions, in referencing to his win on Friday night in the Xfinity Series race. He had edged Ryan Blaney at the line to score the win.

“I don’t even want to talk about that.”

“Awww is Ryan is still upset that he got beat?”

“Do we need to buy you a teddy bear?” Darrell adds, as Ryan flips them both off.

“I thought he still slept with a teddy bear,” Kyle Larson finally chimes in as Ryan gives him a look.

“Nah – it was you that slept with it, per your girlfriend,” Ryan offers as Darrell and Chase laugh, remembering the April Fools prank photo that she sent out with Kyle cuddling a teddy bear.

“Are you ever going to forget that?” The group all shake their head no as they laugh.

“I’ll handle this.” Ryan then walks ahead of the group to the desk, paying the amount required for an afternoon at the go-kart track. The group stands back, waiting patiently, as he returns a couple minuets later. “We’re good to go. There’s nobody else here so looks like we’ve got the place to ourselves for now.”

They then start to head inside when Chase’s phone rings, catching all of their attention.

“Mommy checking on her baby?” Ryan teases as Chase pulls his phone out.

“Uh oh, Chase is in trouble,” Darrell adds as Chase just flips the bird at them both as he looks at the caller ID.

“It’s Dale,” Chase tells them before answering. “Hello?”

“Hey Chase,” Dale starts. “Listen, where are you?” Chase then feels a bit of confusion. Why would Dale be looking for him?

“I’m at the go-kart track with Darrell, Ryan, Dylan and Kyle. Why?” Dale lets out a sigh. He hated to be the barrier of news while Chase was trying to have some fun in the midst of everything. It was news that he already hated enough himself.

“I’ve got something that you should know – not that you should be worried, or anything. Remember how Randy wasn’t supposed to be able to get bail and all that? Well, that was appealed and he got it changed to a million dollars for bail. He also paid said bail so he is out on bail right now, due to be in court tomorrow obviously with us.” Chase slowly takes it in as he stands there with a blank expression on his face of disbelief.

“Are you serious? He is right now loose?” Dale’s thoughts echoed that of Chase when he received the phone call from the lawyer.

“That is correct. Now, he can’t come within 100 feet of any of us. If he does, immediately call police and he’s arrested for breaking terms of bail. Beyond that, he’s free to do whatever he wants.” Chase felt comfortable with that thought as if anything, he could make sure to catch the guy in the act of something. “I don’t want you to worry or anything. I just told you because I was told and felt that you should know. Have fun with the boys and try to stay out of trouble. Call me if you need me. Bye.”

“Bye….” Chase then slowly lowers the phone, hitting hang-up as he continues to stand there in disbelief, letting the thought run through his mind.

How was it fair that Randy could walk the streets after what happened? How was it fair that he could do anything after he helped Mariela with her sick plan?

Chase then shakes his head, knowing that he didn’t want to think about it any longer, as he glances up to be met by four faces staring at him.

“Is everything okay?” Darrell questions as he is the first to step forward, walking up to Chase. He had heard Chase’s end of the conversation and knew the likelihood of what Dale told him. He also knew the effect that everything had on Chase in the weeks that had followed after what happened, based on the lack of hanging out together. “Randy is out on bail, right?” Chase slowly shakes his head yes as he keeps his eyes on Darrell.

“He wasn’t supposed to get bail, but that got appealed and was accepted and he paid the money required,” Chase answers as Darrell shakes his head in disbelief.

“Listen, we don’t have to go go-karting. We could go back to the hotel. As I told you earlier this weekend – we’re going to do whatever you want today. We just want to have a fun day with our friend. We miss hanging out with you.” A small smile forms on Chase’s face. He wasn’t about to let the phone call change his plans for the day. If Randy really did want to see him, then let him come find him. Let him try what he wanted as it would take a simple phone call. Chase knew he also had a bunch of friends with him that had his back, if something should happen.

“I thought you were supposed to be prepared to get your ass kicked today.” Darrell smiles as he knew what the answer meant. He then wraps an arm around Chase and brings him over to the group as they head over to the go-karts.

“Everything okay?” Ryan asks and Chase shakes his head yes.

“He’s ready to kick my ass – for some reason he believes that he can do that,” Darrell offers as a smile forms on Ryan’s face.

“I’m going to kick your ass, too. It’s not hard to do that.”

“I don’t want you going easy on me because you feel bad for me or anything,” Chase offers as he looks between them.

“Sympathy? What’s that?” Ryan questions as he looks over the go-karts. “They say that they’re all supposed to be equal, but a go-kart with the number 22 should be the quickest.”

“For that you’re wrong as number 6 is always a winner,” Darrell offers, sitting in a go-kart.

“Then why didn’t you win on Friday?” Chase asks as he finds the number 9, sitting in it.

“They don’t have a number 42?” Kyle questions as he looks them over.

“These places never have the coolest number around,” Dylan adds.

“Oh just shut up and choose one!” Ryan yells, getting surprised glances from the others.

“Someone is looking for some stress relief…” Darrell offers as Ryan rolls his eyes.

“Try having a sister that doesn’t let you date.”

“Did she chase away Brittany, or whoever that was?” Chase questions with a glance back at Ryan as Dylan and Kyle finally settle on a pair of karts. “Dude, she wasn’t even right for you. She was a total track bunny. You need better taste in woman.”

“When are you going to get a girlfriend?” Ryan asks as Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“I thought he was dating your sister?” Dylan questions, in reference to Erin.

“No comment.”

“We’re just good friends – that’s all,” Chase comments before putting his helmet on.

“20 laps – first across the line wins,” Darrell announces. “No other rules. Contact is acceptable – as long as you don’t flat out drill the other guy. Beyond that, good luck on trying to catch me boys.”

“It’ll be easier than you think.”

Chapter 20: Go-Karting Con’t
July 2015

Once the boys hit the track with the go-karts, it was a full raged war was on with contact from one end to the other. There were a couple spin-outs along with the way, highlighted by Ryan getting point-blankly dumped into the tire barrier by Kyle at about the halfway mark. Needless to say, the boys were following the promise of taking no prisoners.

In the end, though, Ryan found his way back to the front despite being dumped in the tires by Kyle as he made his way back by Kyle – a little retaliation spin, might we add – before passing Chase on the final corner to steal the win.

“You know, it’s not nice to steal the win from the poor sweet kid,” Darrell offered once they had all gotten their helmets off.

“He said not to have any sympathy for him so there ya go,” Ryan rebuttals with a smile on his face.

“I call that highway robbery!” Chase argues. “You had to have taken a short cut somewhere after being dumped by Larson.”

“Speaking of which, what was up with the retaliation?” Kyle questions as Ryan shrugs his shoulders.

“I thought Darrell said there was to be no hard contact and buddy, that initial hit was hard,” Ryan offers.

“And yet somehow made you faster,” Chase comments as Dylan shakes his head in agreement.

“It’s like I knocked off the limiter,” Kyle suggests, catching the attention of everyone.

“These karts have limiters on them?” Kyle shrugs his shoulders as he looks over his go-kart.

“Some places do limiters to make sure that people don’t go faster than their ability.”

“That’d be a good tool for you, Dylan,” Darrell offers with a pat on Dylan’s shoulder.

“I didn’t see you anywhere near the front now did I?” Dylan challenges as Darrell shrugs his shoulders.

“But who has won more races this year? This guy!”

“And who’s leading the points? This guy!” Chase states with a huge smile on his face.

“If only I had a full-time ride to kick both of your asses,” Ryan shares as they head out, done for the day.

They had discussed the possibility of dong another round, but with their stomachs feeling hungry, the group decided it was best to head out for dinner. Making their way to a local fast food place, they all got their burgers and fries before finding a place to sit and eat.

As they sat eating, Darrell kept his eyes locked on Chase with a mix of thoughts on his mind. With everything that had happened, they hadn’t been spending as much time together as they would’ve hoped. Instead, Chase was dealing with whatever was going on and spending time with Regan. On the flip side, that left Darrell having to deal with Ryan and Dylan’s stupidity alone as Kyle was only helpful here and there, thanks to being a father.

“We need to do this more often,” Darrell offers, having missed their hang out times together.

“What happened to getting together at least once a week?” Dylan wonders as Ryan glances over at Kyle.

“Talk to the father of the group,” Ryan suggests as Kyle shrugs his shoulders.

“Fatherhood is awesome,” Kyle comments. “You’ll understand once you have kids.”

“You’re growing up way too fast man,” Darrell shares before looking over the rest of the group. “Okay, for the rest of us, we need to get back to doing this once a week. I don’t care what is going on in your lives, we need to do this.” Darrell’s eyes then lock back to Chase. “Besides, it’s good to get away from the everyday hassles and have some fun.”

“Okay, so what all happened in February?” Dylan blurts out, earning a mix of surprised and angry glances from the others at the table.

“Dylan!” Kyle spits out first as Chase focuses his eyes on his food.

“I’d rather not talk about it, okay?” Chase offers and Dylan simply shakes his head understanding.

“I thought that you’d be okay talking about it,” Dylan tries to offer an apology as Kyle debates smacking him underneath the table. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”

“Way to ruin the day of fun and distraction!” Kyle finally lets out as he smacks Dylan across the back of the head. The behavior catches Chase’s attention as Darrell lets out a sigh.

“We’ve been doing our own get togethers here and there,” Darrell starts as he glances between the Ganassi duo, before looking back at Chase. “We didn’t want to bug you with everything that you had going on. If you want honesty, I talked to Regan a bit and he said that things were a little tough so I was willing to give you your space, and told the others to do so as well. However, that can only go on for so long. I got together with Ryan first and suggested that we do a fun day together, get back to how things were. He agreed, and we got a hold of dumb and dumber. It seemed even more apparent that we should do it this weekend as we know that tomorrow is start of the stress 101. After our own discussions, we came to you.”

“Even with those two acting like complete knobs, we hope that the day accomplished what we wanted – a day of fun with friends, without having to worry about a thing,” Ryan adds.

“I’m sorry I have a dumb teammate who has to ruin everything with his big mouth,” Kyle offers.

“And I’m sorry that I have the worst curiosity possible,” Dylan adds. The group then goes silent waiting for Chase’s response as he looks between them.

“You guys are the best friends that anybody could ask for,” he starts. “When I’m ready to say what happened, Dylan, I’ll gladly tell you. I’m just not ready yet. However, it’s understandable to be curious considering you’re a close friend. And Kyle, don’t shoot him as despite being a dumbass sometimes, Dylan is a pretty cool guy.”

“The first time those words have been spoken,” Ryan states, earning a look from Dylan as Darrell laughs.

“Thanks for the fun day and no, you haven’t ruined it. It was perfectly what I needed after the past couple of months and yes, especially before tomorrow. Like you’ve already said, we have to get back to doing this. We need to do this for our own sane purposes.”

“We should go mini-golfing next week.”

“Are you sure you’re ready to face the clown windmill again?” Darrell questions as Chase laughs, remembering the last time they went mini-golfing. Ryan fought the clown windmill, shooting approximately 30 times before getting the ball in the hole.

“I am ready to master that wind mill this time,” Ryan states with a smile on his face.

“Who wants to bet it takes him 40 shots this time?”
“I’m aiming for 50!” Chase offers as Dylan shakes his head.

“Nah – I’ll give him 10 this time,” Dylan suggests as they look over at Kyle. “Are you available?”

“Someone has to make sure that you boys stay out of trouble,” Kyle offers, casuing the whole group to laugh.

“Right, because it was you who went swimming in the pond after their precious rainbow golf ball despite all the signs that said no swimming.”

“That rainbow golf ball was special, okay? It’s a special collectable.”

“Only Larson would go golfing with a Jeff Gordon rainbow golfball,” Chase teases as they all share a laugh.

“The best friends that anybody could ask for.” I don’t know about you, but it seems that this would be an interesting group to be have as your best friends haha

I can say that I enjoyed writing this comic relief section of the story. With the trial pending and Randy being loose, I figured we all needed a break. However, that can only last for so long. We have business to get to.

Flight 88 – Chapters 66 Thru 70

Chapter 66: Phoenix

“So, are you ready for this?” Dale asks as he and Chase head to the media center with Rick and a couple of the Hendrick Media PR reps.

“They know what happened?” Chase double checks once again as Dale shakes his head yes.

Earlier in the morning, Rick had met up with both Chase and Dale, as per discussed previously with the team media reps. It was revealed during that discussion that the media knew a fair bit pertaining to the events that happened at Daytona behind the scenes in regards to Mariela and Randy. You could thank the police report being in public domain. Everybody knew about Dale being kidnapped (they had told everyone back when it happened in hopes to find him), they knew about the Mariela-Chase incident at the hauler and knew some what of the connection in which Randy was involved.

There was no doubt that the media was set to ask about it to them throughout the weekend in Phoenix as the media is what it is – always looking for a story. For that reason, the media reps had recommended setting up a press conference on Friday morning. Each would make a statement – saying as much as they wanted, as little as they wanted. Then it’d be stated by the PR reps that they’d be talking no more about it for the rest of the weekend, with their focus purely on the racing.

“Remember – you don’t need to say anything if you don’t want to,” Dale reminds him of the discussion had earlier in the hauler.

“But then I’d just look stupid sitting there,” Chase comments as they head inside the media center. “What’d be the point of that? But…I don’t….”

“You could simply say thanks to the fans for their thoughts when they heard you were involved in an incident in the garage, say that you’re fine and that you have nothing else to say in regards to it at this time,” the one PR rep Mike suggests as Dale shakes his head in agreement. He was thinking of saying something along the same lines. He couldn’t believe that they were even doing this. “Besides, none of you can’t say too much because of the pending charges against Randy.”

“Don’t remind me of that drama. I don’t want ever want to hear that guy’s name again. I don’t want to hear any of this truthfully.” Rick gives Chase a pat on the back understanding as they head inside, ready to take their places.

One of the PR reps takes to the main podium as Rick, Chase and Dale take their seats, nerves floating through both Dale and Chase in addressing this.

“If we could have everybody’s attention, we’d like to get this started and done with,” Laura says as the podium, catching the attention of all the media members in the room. “Welcome to the scheduled Hendrick Motorsports press conference. Here, at the table we have Rick Hendrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Chase Elliott. We scheduled this press conference as a team to discuss what happened last weekend at Daytona. As many of you were made aware of, there was some incidents involving two of the individuals here off the track that have made their way into police reports. Many of you have read the police reports, got statements from the police in regards to what happened and know the basics. I’m not going to go over all that because I don’t believe it’s necessary and we want to get this done as quickly as possible. Each of these individuals has a statement that they’d like to share with you about what happened and then I’ll continue.” Laura then turns to the three at the table, ready for them to speak.

“I’ll go first,” Chase announces, just wanting to get it done with as quickly as possible. He kept running through his mind the suggestion made as to what to say outside, and was going to stick with it. “I want to say thanks to the fans and fellow competitors for their positive thoughts last weekend. I’m doing fine, ready to go and hoping to score another victory. My focus is on racing this weekend, not what happened, and I plan on giving this team their second straight win. Last weekend was incredible with winning Daytona….and then….” Chase takes a deep breath, clearing his thoughts. “…seeing Dale put on that great drive to win despite what he was going through. As for what happened, at this time, I don’t feel comfortable discussing it. So again, thanks to everyone for the support and I look forward to another good weekend.” Chase then sits back, relieved to have said his piece as he works at keeping his thoughts focused on the weekend and not letting them draw back to what happened.

“Dale…” Rick welcomes as he wanted to save what he was going to say till the end.

“Along the same lines, thanks to the fans for their support, especially on twitter, as it was incredible to see how many people sent messages,” Dale starts. “Everybody was made aware of the stab wound to my back early last week and it made that Daytona 500 tough. I appreciate the media being willing to accept we weren’t doing the media tour as I needed that week to relax and spend time with my girls – Marie and Alyssa. This weekend, I’m ready to go. It’s still a little tender and I’m a little sore, but nothing like last week so I expect the same results. Jason is an incredible crew chief to work with. Like Chase, I’m not going to discuss what happened as I don’t believe that is needed.”

“They both have said the thanks to the fans, but I can’t restate that enough as NASCAR and the racing community have some of the best fans,” Rick starts. “So many people sent messages, offering support, that it caught everybody off-guard so thank you. As a team owner, I’m looking forward to this weekend as I think we can have another good weekend. Chase has a lot of talent and can win, and it seems pairing Jason and Dale together was the perfect decision. As a friend to them both, I hate what they both went through and they know that they can talk to me if they need to.”

“Thank you – all three of you,” Laura states as she looks back down at her notes. “With this press conference and their statements on the situation, we ask that for the rest of the weekend, the topic be avoided in any further interviews. We would like to focus purely on the racing on-track and not the personal happenings. Furthermore, nobody connected to the situation is allowed to say much per legal guidelines as they are pending charges towards a Mr. Randy Roberts for his actions in what happened. If you’re wondering whether they will open up more about what happened after the legal proceedings, I can’t guarantee that and it won’t be required by the team for them to do that. At this time, we’re going to let you guys have a half hour to spill questions towards the three of them – focused on the racing, please. Consider this your normal media availability time versus doing it later.”

The three of them then went through answering the questions as the media was actually behaved in keeping the questions focused on the racing that weekend and their outlooks. They all felt at though they were in the clear – even Chase despite his nerves earlier – till there were about five minutes left and a new face stood up to ask a question.

“John Daniels from CNN,” the representative introduces himself as required in the media center. “This question is for Dale Earnhardt Jr. I was wondering if you could please comment on the upcoming crowning ceremony next month in Pitronia that will see your fiancé Marie Calantay become the Queen?” Most of the media members glance at each other slightly confused, having not heard that part of the news.

“That’s a good question as Chase and I were discussing that on the way here last night with Alyssa and Marie,” Dale comments as he thinks it over. “I haven’t thought about it too much with everything else that has been going on. I think Marie will a great queen as she has priorities set straight and the way she thinks about the world will be a great perspective in knowing what to do for her country. I can assure you that everybody is in good hands under her control with the help of Sharon and Joshua.”

“Furthermore, considering that being engaged probably equals marriage, we can assume that you’ll become the King with your daughter as a Princess. Any comments?”

“Same thing as I haven’t thought about it too much. It’s still fresh and new to me so it’ll take some time. It’s a lot of responsibility knowing that country is in our hands, but I feel that we can handle it and do well.” Dale bit his tongue as he knew that wasn’t the best words to say, as far as a speech to the people. But what else was he supposed to say?

“I still like the fact that Alyssa says I’m the dirty rascal,” Chase throws in a joke, trying to cut the seriousness in the room, causing a couple of laps.

“You’re not the knight in shining amour?” Rick asks surprised and Chase shakes his head no. “I thought that you’d get that role with being her babysitter as of late.”

“And with that, I think we’ll end off this press conference,” Laura announces. “To those who didn’t know what the last reporter added, you can check into the royalty news I imagine and find out the details. If not, I can tell you what I am allowed to say per the guidelines of Ms. Queen Marie Calantay. Thank you for your time everybody.”

They then stand up and head out, ready to put that behind them and get started with the weekend as they imagined it – focused on racing, putting everything else in the rearview mirror.

had to touch on this topic just to give you the whole rounded picture. Couple more chapters to go in this one. We’re going to touch on Alyssa’s birthday party and the fun that entails with Dale’s surprise (as spoken couple chapters to go) with some guests. Then there’s a crowning ceremony as you have to wonder what Alyssa will say once she has her crown, sees the castle and wears her big fancy blue dress. Gotta love our favourite little cutie in this story.   ………..and before you ask, yes I said a couple chapters to go but don’t worry – there’s a sequel. I got to write a wedding somewhere, and we don’t want the fun with Alyssa to end 😉

 

Chapter 67: Phoenix Race Weekend

“I look good?” Alyssa asks as she walks out with Chase on to pit road following driver introductions.

“Doesn’t she look amazing?” Chase questions as everybody takes in the NAPA Firesuit that she is wearing. Chase had gotten it done to match his – with a couple adjustments. Her last name across the back at her shoulders, while her name was on the waist belt. “Now she’s officially my little buddy.”

“Be scared Dale – my son is already training your daughter,” Cindy warns as she snaps a picture of the pair of them together.

“Now now, she could have a worse role model than me.”

“I know the trouble that you can get into, mister. Do I need to remind you of the times that you were grounded?”

“He got grounded?” Dale questions and Cindy shakes her head yes. “He wasn’t always so sweet and innocent?” Cindy chuckles.

“He’s always had this quiet sweetness to him – gets it from his dad – but he knows how to get into trouble,” Cindy tells him.

“Wow. Who knew I had to actually keep an eye on you.”

“Close eye – remember that.” Cindy then walks away as Dale walks over, scooping up Alyssa in his arms as she laughs.

“So – mommy wants to know whether you like being dressed like this, or whether you’d like be dressed in a big blue dress?” Alyssa thinks it over before turning to her dad with a big smile.

“I like my suit!” She announces proudly. “Wear ‘rown with suit?”

“A princess that drives a racecar – now that’s something new,” Chase comments. “However, it fits her.”

“I can hear it now – Princess Alyssa Earnhardt scores her first NASCAR victory,” Dale proclaims as Alyssa shakes her head in approval.

“I win like Chase!” Alyssa proclaims as Dale looks at her surprised.

“What about daddy? Daddy wins, too.”

“I win like Daddy and Chase! I go super fast.”

“Now can you see why I talked to Kasey about that idea?” Dale asks as he looks over at Chase and Chase shakes his head yes. “I think that go-kart for Christmas was the start of trouble.”

“’Rouble?”

“Don’t worry – this is good trouble. This is the kind of trouble that causes laughter and smiles.”

“Like the trouble that we got into when we pranked Greg earlier,” Chase adds, causing Alyssa to snicker as Dale looks at Chase, curiously. “Whoopi cushion. She put it on his seat in the driver’s meeting.”

“Well played!” Dale congratulates her as he gives her a high-five.

“Greg swears that I shouldn’t be allowed young children for that reason.”

“I knew something was up!” They hear as Regan Smith makes his way over to them. “What is she doing wearing a NAPA suit?”

“She’s my little buddy,” Chase announces as Regan looks over at Alyssa, shocked.

“What about me? Don’t you want to wear an awesome Ragu or Brewer’s Ice Cream Suit?” Alyssa shakes her head no.

“I eat ice cream – but no suit,” Alyssa tells him as Chase laughs.

“What did you do to her?” Regan questions as Chase continues to smile.

“He babysat her most of the week and they’re now ‘buddies’ so she wanted to be just like her ‘big buddy’,” Dale explains as Regan shakes his head in disbelief.

“Now now Regan, don’t get all jealous,” Chase comments.

“I still like you,” Alyssa assures him as Regan smiles.

“But I’m going to win, right?” Alyssa looks at Chase and shakes her head yes.

“We’ll just have to see because I just may pass Chase and beat him,” Regan states as Alyssa gives him a look.

“You in trouble,” Dale comments with a slight laugh, before looking towards Alyssa seriously. “Now Alyssa, it’s okay if Regan wins.”

“Dale’s right as Regan is cool too,” Chase adds as Alyssa smiles.

“Okay – Reggy win ‘nother day but Chasey win today,” she states.

“There you have it, Regan. I’ll see you in victory lane.”

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

The race didn’t pan out to Alyssa’s instructions as Regan would get the victory after passing Chase with two laps to go for the lead. Following the race, Alyssa wanted to make it known that she wasn’t pleased with ‘Reggy’ not listening as she headed to victory lane with Dale after the race. She goes up to Regan, tapping his leg to get his attention.

“Alyssa….” Dale warns, knowing what is coming based on her reaction to the end of the race.

“You pass Chasey. Chasey no win. Me no happy,” Alyssa tells Regan as Regan looks at her surprised. “Chasey ‘ould win.”

“Alyssa…”

“Why you pass? Why no be 2?”

“Because I like to win,” Regan tells her as Alyssa gives him a mad look.

“Reggy no win today – Chasey win today. Reggy win ‘nother race,” Alyssa instructs.

“How about you let Regan celebrate today and maybe Chase can win next week?” Dale suggests as he pulls Alyssa back slightly.

“And perhaps I can you get a suit to match mine to go with that, okay?” Regan adds as Alyssa immediately shakes her head no. “Okay – so you keep the NAPA suit, I celebrate today and Chase celebrates next week?” Alyssa thinks it over, shaking her head yes with a smile on her face. “Want to help me celebrate?” He then leads her over to the team, ready for some fun.

They all were used to having her in victory lane with them since Dale and Marie had her. Dale stands back, watching as Alyssa plays with the confetti on stage with the team, throwing it at Regan as Ryan Pemberton sprays him with the champagne.

“Can you believe it – another win?” Marie questions as she wraps her arms around Dale from behind.

“I can believe it because these guys are awesome at what they do,” Dale answers. “It’s nice to see the success continue from last year.” He then turns around to face her, kissing her lips, as they both turn and watch Alyssa with the team. “I think somebody else likes it, too, as long as we make sure that her ‘Chasey’ wins some races.”

“She’s really grown close with him, huh?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“I’m fine with it because I know Chase won’t do anything wrong. It’s a good distraction for him right now, too, as he’s not thinking about…”

“I know.” Marie then lays her head on Dale’s shoulder as she lets out a sigh. “Will there be a day where that doesn’t come up in our lives again?”

“Nope. Everything has changed based on the past couple of months – some for the better, some not.”

“I just hope that I can be the Queen that everybody wants me to be. I’m so scared that I’m going to make the wrong decisions.”

“You won’t as you’re a great person and you know right from wrong; you’re going to make a great Queen.”

“Yes, as I will have the best King and Princess combo by my side the whole way.”

 

Chapter 68: Birthday Party

“Chasey, do you today is?” Alyssa asks as she rushes over to Chase as he walks over to the ‘party zone’ in the backyard.

As a result of her growing love with the thought of princesses increasing over the past month since Phoenix, Marie and Dale had set up a ‘teddy bear tea party’ for her birthday. Each of the attending guests were to dress like a princess or prince, and they’d play some games in the backyard (dress-up, sand castles, tag, playground) before sitting around eating snacks and drinking ‘tea’ (juice) with their teddy bears. They’d then open Alyssa’s presents and enjoy some cake to close out the party.

All of her friends were invited, from those that she played with at the race track to those away from the track. There was also a lot of family invited to take in the occasion, as well. One of the people that Alyssa had made sure was one the list – Chase.

“What’s today?” He asks as he picks her up, still surprised that she was already four years old.

“My birthday!!” She yells in pride as he twirls her around.

“Really?” She shakes her head yes.

“You come party?” Chase pretends to act as if he is surprised by her question.

“Maybe, or maybe not. I may have just came to see your daddy. Do you want me at your party?” Alyssa shakes her head yes as he sets her down. She immediately crosses her arms, checking him over.

“Chasey need outfit, and ‘rown and teddy! Chasey no come to party without.” Chase looks at her surprised as he thought that he could get away without dressing up.

“Well, what do you say that you help me out by going to find me a teddy that I can bring, and I’ll go get changed? Is that a deal?” Alyssa shakes her head yes before running off into the house. Chase rolls his eyes as he hurries over to the garage.

He knew that there was an outfit for him in the back of Dale’s Impala as he had picked it up while he was out, persisting that Chase would need to wear it. Chase gets it out, looking it over, shaking his head immediately. Alyssa had chosen the Cinderella appearance, and you could say that he would match Prince Charming with the outfit.

He goes into the small bathroom in the garage, changing into the outfit before checking out himself in the mirror. It wasn’t a preferred outfit, but he couldn’t argue about looking good wearing it. He then emerges from the bathroom, surprised when he sees Kasey and Dale there together.

“I told you that she’d make you dress up,” Dale comments while Kasey just snickers. “You look good, by the way. I’m glad that I asked Cindy for your size.”

“Yeah…thanks,” Chase says as he takes one last glance at himself in the mirror.

“Just wait till everybody sees you,” Kasey comments and takes out his phone, snapping a photo before Chase or Dale could say anything. Kasey then snickers as he sends it out to twitter, knowing that the girls would be all over it. “I can’t wait for your phone to blow up with people offering to be your princess.”

“Sssh Kasey, you’ll get him all flustered and his cheeks will go beet red,” Dale teases as Chase just rolls his eyes. “Now, don’t you have a party to attend?”

“Don’t you?” Chase questions as Dale points to the side. Chase looks over there, his jaw dropping as he notices what lies there. He had heard about Alyssa’s surprise, but wasn’t ready to believe it. However, there it lied right before him.

“I have to figure out how to wrap that first. Buy me some time?”

“Good luck with that….and Marie when she finds out.” Chase then heads out, ready to meet back up with Alyssa as Kasey takes a glance over at Dale.

“You haven’t told Marie yet?” Kasey questions and Dale shakes his head no. “Well, this should be an interesting birthday surprise. It would’ve been nice for you to give her some warning.”

“She would’ve said no and made you not go through with helping me,” Dale states before starting to unroll the wrapping paper and helping Kasey wrap it. “Don’t worry – she’ll be fine. It’ll take a couple days but she’ll agree with it.”

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

Midway through the afternoon, the girls and boys were running around playing together as Alyssa had all of her friends gathered around to play on the playground with her – even Chase. She had gotten Chase to go down the slide a couple times, followed by playing hide and seek with them.

As the day went on, Leo took a seat beside Alyssa as the pair were drawing some pictures at the ‘art and craft’ table that Marie had decided to set-up as a small break in chaos playing.

“Alyssa, am I your prince?” Leo asks, catching all of the adults off-guard. “Can I be prince?” Alyssa looks over and shakes her head yes as a small smile creeps on her face.

“What about me?” Chase questions as he looks up from his photo.

“I like Alyssa – I prince charms.” Chase feels taken back by Leo’s comment.

“Leo my prince, but Chasey my buddy,” Alyssa states with a smile on her face, bringing a smile back to Chase’s face. He was glad to not be replaced as he really did enjoy spending time with Alyssa.

“My buddy too,” Leo adds, surprising Chase. He wasn’t aware of how much the kids really adored him as he was getting glances from around the table. However, he knew that the buddy system with Alyssa went deeper than the other kids would understand. “Chasey go fast.”

“Faster than your daddy?” Chase questions, with a glance towards Jeff. Leo thinks it over before shaking his head no.

“My daddy fastest!” Alyssa comments as she sits up with pride at the table. “My daddy win. My daddy is special.” The discussion of course brings forth a mix of comments from the table as the children discuss the fact that their daddy is the ‘best’ and will win and such.

Marie rolls her eyes as she watches all the kids, having known to expect this. The kids always thought that their daddy was number one and getting them discussing that wasn’t always the most pleasant discussion.

There was one thing that all the kids agreed on, though – Chase was better than Regan. Regan took the comment to heart a little, though found a way to get his revenge. As Marie and the other parents tried to solve the discussion issue, Regan snuck off and changed into a clown costume. He then came back and honked his red nose to get their attention.

“Hey kids, perhaps the clown will do some tricks,” Chase edges the kids on, as they all leave the small table and hurry over to where Regan was standing.

“Regan a clown?” Leo questions as he looks up at him and Regan shakes his head yes.

“Regan make balloons?” Alyssa asks and Regan shakes his head yes as he pulls out a pump and some balloons. He didn’t have much practice, but he knew how to make flowers and dogs so that’d be enough to keep them entertained. “Yay! I go first.”

“That’s right because you’re the birthday girl,” Regan states as he sits down and starts making up the balloons while Marie and Kelley get the table set up for the tea party portion of the party.

 

Chapter 69: The Surprise

“’Hank you Geni and Lydia,” Alyssa says as she finishes admiring the new Barbie set that Jimmie Johnson’s girls had gotten her for her birthday.

“So cool,” Ella comments from her spot in the circle as Alyssa sets it aside. She had been going through the gifts, opening them from one by one, with the big gift from her daddy saved for last.

“Daddy – I get?” Grace Kenseth asks her dad Matt.

“We’ll see sweetheart,” Matt tells her as he sits behind the children with Grace on his lap.

“Okay, so there’s one more gift to go,” Kelley announces as she glances over towards Dale. Dale simply smiles as he was just glad that he had got it wrapped with some help from Kasey.

“Woah!” Grace lets out in surprise as to the size as Alyssa stands up and walks over to where it is with Dale.

“That big!” Ella adds as the children gather around curious. “What is it?”

“Can I open?” Alyssa asks as she looks at her daddy. Dale shakes his head yes as Alyssa tears at the paper a little.

“What did you get her?” Marie whispers as she walks over.

“Just be quiet and be patient with this,” Dale tells his fiancé as he pulls her close. “You can yell at me later, but I know that she’ll love it.” Marie then looks at Dale confused as Alyssa keeps ripping at the paper.

“Dale…” Marie then turns back to the ‘big gift’ as she hears a squeal of excitement from Alyssa at seeing what was wrapped inside. Marie looks over the gift, noticing that Dale had gotten her a quarter-midget car with the fact that she was old enough to race those. No wonder Dale had been in close contact with Kasey lately. “Seriously?”

“Yay!” Alyssa lets out another yell as she runs around the car excited, looking it over. The other children at the party were also checking it out – curious – as most of them had not seen one up-close themselves. Ella was one of a few that had as Jeff had let her take some laps in one last year (2014). “’Hank you Daddy!”

“Like I said – we’ll talk later,” Dale tells Marie before walking over to where Alyssa was standing, giving her a hug.

“Yeah, no kidding,” Marie comments as she takes her phone out and snaps a photo. She figured, even if she wasn’t ready to handle Alyssa driving a quarter-midget, that she’d get some happy photos of the moment. She also couldn’t help but smile when Dale got Alyssa into the midget with her hands on the steering wheel.

“Are you okay?” She hears as she glances over her shoulder to see Kasey there. “I told him to tell you about it beforehand, but he insisted on keeping it a secret.”

“He should’ve listened to your advice, but I also can’t help but admit that she looks perfect sitting in it.”

“She’ll also look perfect driving it on her way to victory as it came out of my shop.” Marie looks at Kasey in surprise as Kasey shakes his head, assuring that was the truth. “Dale came to me because he knew I had the resources and I got my guys to build it. It wasn’t that hard as it’s basically a miniature of what they’re used to building. So while your heart may worry, I’m going to tell you that you don’t need to. Coming from my shop and my guys, I know that they built it as safe as they could so if something does happen, she’s safe.”

“Thanks….I suppose. Just be prepared to pay my bail when I kill him for keeping a secret.” She then snapped a couple more photos.

“Can I drive now?” Alyssa asks as she looks at her daddy. Dale shakes his head no.

“Not right now sweetheart,” Dale answers. “Later you can try it on the go-kart track and then Kasey is going to help you by going to a real track, okay?” Alyssa shakes her head in approval. “Why don’t you play with your friends and the new toys that you got?”

“Okay!” Alyssa then climbs out of the quarter midget and hurries off with the other track kids.

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

“She in bed?” Marie questions as she lies in her bed later that night.

“She was asleep by the time I got to page 3,” Dale answers as he lies down beside Marie. He had told Alyssa that was time for bed, helping her get tucked in before starting a bedtime story. As he started the third page, he looked up from the book to see that she was already passed out from her big day.

“Now, about that present….” Dale lets out a sigh as he cuddles up to Marie. “Cuddling up to me isn’t going to get you out of the dog house, mister. You should’ve told me! I should’ve got a say!”

“I knew that your answer would be no so that’s why I didn’t bother. I figured that once I got it and she saw it, that I could win you over with time. Is it working?” Marie gives him a look as Dale lets out another sigh. “Marie, I know you’re very overprotective of her and scared that something is going to happen, but I can promise that she’s going to be fine.”

“Oh really?” Dale shakes his head yes. “And what gives you that impression?”

“Because I’m a racecar driver myself and know the risks and here I am. Because I know the safety improvements that have been made over the years to make these cars safer. Because I’ve watched Tony, Kasey Karsyn and Kennedy run these cars and the worst injury was Tony’s broken leg.” Marie tires to convince herself that Dale is right as he rubs her hand. “Listen, I’ve been through it. I know what is possible because of what happened to father – but I also have seen things change a lot since then. It’s part of the risk. Yes, it’s scary. Do I worry about her? Absolutely. However, this is her dream and if she wants to be a racecar driver like me…or really, like Chase, then I am going to give her every opportunity to follow her dream. I am going to bite that worry and convince myself that they’re safe and let her do it. I need you to be there with me, though. Please let your daughter have this shot and work with me.” Marie lets out a sigh as she looks over at Dale into his blue eyes.

“I can’t help but accept because I can’t be the person that crushes her little heart.”

“Thank you….from us both, really.” Dale then looks up and kisses her lips.

“Plus, I agree with what the others have said. It’ll be fun hearing the words Princess Alyssa Calantay-Earnhardt scores her first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. She’s only four, and this is the first step. Plus, I like the sounds of King Dale Earnhardt Jr. scores another NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory en route to a championship.” They both then chuckle as they lay back in the bed, still letting the idea soak in that they were both royalty now of Marie’s home country Pitronia. It was still surreal, but becoming more real with each passing day. They knew that it’d really hit when they were crowned officially, and Marie began her real duties as Queen.

“By the way, did you catch what her and Leo said to each other while doing arts and crafts?” Marie shakes her head yes as she caught the fact that Leo was her prince.

“Prince Leo Gordon and Princess Alyssa Calantay-Earnhardt-Gordon. Who would’ve thought that?” Dale shakes his head in disbelief as well as certainly over the years, there were many that wouldn’t have pictured an Earnhardt child with a Gordon child.

“Remember – it’s still puppy love and they’re only little kids.” Marie then looks over at Dale.

“That’s the second time that you’ve said the word ‘little’ in reference to Alyssa. Awww, is daddy afraid to see his little girl grow up?”

“Can’t she stay little forever?” Marie shakes her head no as she cuddles up to Dale, flipping off the light switch.

“Just think – she’ll be starting Junior Kindergarten at the end of August this year.”

“I didn’t need to hear that right now.”

“Face it Dale – our little girl is growing up. She’s becoming her own young lady.”

“Will you just stop? Let me deal with the fact that she’s a year older first.”

 

Chapter 70: Returning Home

“Are you ready for this?” Dale asks Marie as they pull up to the castle later that month. It was time for the crowning ceremony and the pair had returned back to Pitronia with Alyssa, set to be officially crowned the queen and king.

“The past is in the past,” Marie answers as she looks over at him. She knew the question was in reference to what happened the last time they had set foot in the castle with the sequence of events that happened with her father. While those events had happened here, there was no fear in her mind as she knew that he was gone forever and not able to ruin their lives moving forward. “I know that I can trust my people and I know this is my second home. Are you ready for this?” Dale shakes his head yes as the car pulls up to the castle.

It wasn’t the truth as he had thought back to what happened the last time he was within those very walls in the main hall with facing her father and the guards. The fact that her father had yelled at him for dating her. The fact that her father had struck him repeatedly with a belt in reference to the fact that he broke country law.

Shaking his head, he lets those thoughts leave his mind, not wanting to influence the future with the past. It was the past. Her father was dead. Those same events weren’t going to happen again. But the same words remained true – their lives were forever changed by those events.

“It’s okay to admit that you’re afraid – I won’t tell anyone,” Marie whispers in his ear as they both get out of the back of the car, leaning over to kiss his cheek. Alyssa gets out behind them, her eyes looking up at the castle, growing huge with each passing second. Marie notices this and can only smile as she kneels down to Alyssa’s level. “Big, isn’t it?” Alyssa shakes her head yes as she looks over at her mom.

“Mommy’s castle?” Alyssa questions and Marie shakes her head yes.

“It’s mommy and daddy’s castle as mommy and daddy are the king and queen here. And that makes you the little princess of the castle.”

“Like Cindy and Belle?” Marie shakes her head yes, knowing that Alyssa is referring to Cinderella and Belle. “Cool!’

“Do you want to go inside?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. The three of them then enter through the doors as Dale looks around, noticing the colors inside had been changed to a brighter tone – he could thank Sharon and Joshua tremendously for that. It helped in clouding out the thoughts of the past, and it definitely looked a lot better.

“Good day Queen Marie-Ann and King Dale….oh, and of course Princess Alyssa,” Sharon says as she appears before them with Joshua, both bowing per protocol. “Admiring the décor? I hope you both like it. I thought the castle could use some better colors.”

“It’s perfect and cut the official crap,” Marie states as she pulls Sharon close into a hug, glad to see her close friend. “I don’t want to hear that greeting or see that bow again, got it?” Sharon and Joshua shake their heads yes.

“This is pretty!” Alyssa lets out as she walks around the front hall, peaking into each room before looking back at her parents.

“She is a little excited about being a princess.”

“She wouldn’t stop blabbing about wearing a pretty dress and crown once we got here,” Dale adds as Sharon chuckles. It was Sharon’s second time seeing Alyssa as she had flown to the States to see her at her birthday party. Each time Sharon saw her, she just watched in awe, loving Marie’s daughter more with each passing day.

“Of course, daddy here had to ruin the blabbering and asked her what she wanted more – her dress or her new racecar? She of course picked the new racecar,” Marie explains as both Sharon and Joshua chuckle. “Thankfully, we both explained that she could have both if she wanted.”

“I told you that she’s daddy’s little girl.”

“Yeah, somehow that happened.”

“Can we go around?” Alyssa asks, wanting to know if she could scope the whole place out.

“Perhaps Sharon could give us a tour since I forget some of the favourite spots here,” Marie suggests as Sharon shakes her head in acceptance.

“Yay!”

“But you have to listen to Sharon and Joshua, okay?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. They then begin the tour.

As they check out each room, Alyssa’s eyes grow in amazement. There were certain highlights and watching her check out her bed to checking out the playground out back and wanting to jump in the pool. Perhaps the favorite moment for them was all was a trip to the kitchen that brought forth ice cream and homemade cookies.

Before any of them knew it, it was the end of the day and they knew that the next day would be long with the crowning and such so each was planning on heading to bed a little earlier than normal.

After tucking Alyssa into bed, Dale leaves her room, leaving the bedsroom door cracked open a little as he looks for Marie – admitting that sometimes it was hard to find people in the big castle. As he thinks of familiar spots to check – bedsroom, bathroom – he catches a glimpse of her hair blowing in the breeze on the balcony. He walks up behind her, leaning against the building, not wanting to catch her totally off guard.

“You seem lost in thought,” he says after standing there quietly for a couple of minutes watching her.

“There’s so many thoughts to be had,” she answers without a glance back his way. “This place brings out so many different thoughts.” She then looks down, a mix of sadness, hurt and anger filling her as she thinks over everything. “My father being the asshole that he was when I was younger. The thought of running from home to try and escape what he was doing. My father being the asshole towards you and me when he found out we were together. The mix of sadness and rightfulness that is there in the moment that I stabbed him. Yes, he deserved it for he was a bad man, but he is still father Dale. Then there’s my crazy ass sister and all the stuff that she pulled. From what she pulled on the plane, to what she pulled in Daytona on both you and Chase. I feel I am to blame for that pain for I brought her into your life and Chase’s life. There’s also sadness there with her being gone as hell, she’s my twin; we spent the first 15 years of our lives together close as ever. Then there’s the realization that the pain we all feel will never go away. It’ll continue to haunt us as we move forward, no matter what we do.”

“But in the same breath, everything happens for a reason.” She then looks back at him confused as he closes the gap between them, joining her at the railing. “We may not know the reason, but they say everything happens for a reason. It brought us closer together. It made us realize just how much we truly love each other and Alyssa. We also proved all of us – Chase included – how strong we are and the fact that we can face any challenge that is put up against us. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I believe now that we’re strong enough to take on the whole world. Maybe that’s why your mother feels that you’d be the perfect queen with me by your side.” He then wraps an arm around her and pulls her close as they look out over the country together.

The idea of being king and queen wasn’t something that was the first flattering news to hear as Dale remembers the confusion, worry and mix of negative feelings that were there when he learned the news. However, as he looked out towards the people who were sleeping the night a way – for the most part – some happiness began to shine through. Perhaps they were brought together and here to make a difference. These people deserved a solid change in their lives for the better in having to deal with the dramatics of the past. They deserved the happiness that Marie and Dale got everyday with their daughter and the rest of the family. Knowing how bad things could get, were they set to be king and queen because they could make a difference?

“I remember growing up in this country and wishing that things were different, better,” Marie muses out loud, as if to read the thoughts that were on Dale’s mind. “Now this is my chance to give back to this place and make it what I dreamed that it should be like. This is my chance to make things right.”

“And I think that you’re going to do a beautiful job,” Dale tells her before kissing her lips.

“Neither of us are going to do anything if we don’t get some sleep, though.”

“Then to the royal bed we go?” Dale then leads her back inside, closing the balcony doors as they head down the hall to their bedsroom.

So there’s about one more chapter to go – the official crowning! But no fear as there’s two sequels planned: “Mayday #9” and “Chasing the Love”. Both stories are set for different time periods but I am going to write them both at the same time so stay tuned.

Flight 88 – Chapters 46 Thru 50

Chapter 46: Monday Part 2

“I like the train,” Alyssa comments, speaking of the monorail that they rode to get to the park.

“It’s always a fun ride, eh?” Jordan questions and Alyssa shakes her head yes. “Well, just think of it as a big way to start your day. There’s more fun rides soon. Maybe even a bigger train.” Alyssa looks at Jordan surprised before they continue walking.

“I think she’ll be fixated on one thing before we even get to the rides,” Rob interrupts the pair. They then stop talking, showing their tickets before being allowed inside the park. “Give it a couple…..but she’ll want to go see a princess.”

“Look Jordy!” Alyssa yells as she points towards the castle. “Cinderella’s castle!” Rob then smiles as he looks over at Jordan.

“Told you.”

“Wow. It big! Can we go inside? Can we?” She then tugs on both their hands. “Please?”

“We will go see Cinderella and have lunch with her in her castle,” Rob announces, having already planned out part of their day. Once he knew that he was going, he had checked out options as to things to do, noticing the lunch with the princesses. He knew that Alyssa would enjoy that.

“Yay! ‘Hank you!”

“Thank god I have you here,” Jordan comments as Rob chuckles a little. Jordan then glances over at him as they watch as Alyssa still takes in the sight of the castle. “Dale and Marie haven’t told her yet that she’s a princess. Can you imagine the shock on her face when she learns that she has a castle of her own? She’ll freak!” Rob laughs as he snaps a quick photo of Alyssa.

“Nah – she’ll be wanting to wear the dresses,” Rob reasons as Jordan shakes his head.

“Nope – crowns and castles for this girl. You can tell by the look on her face. So Disney expert, where to first?” Rob smiles as he crouches down to Alyssa’s level.

“Say, how about we go see Stic-”

“Oh my – look who I see! Pluto!” Alyssa’s eye shoot up away from Rob as she notices Pluto as well, signing autographs and taking photos with people. “Do you want to go meet Pluto?” Alyssa shakes her head yes as the pair head towards the line together.

“Suddenly, I feel like I’m out with two kids.” Rob then rolls his eyes as he follows the pair, knowing that it’s going to be an interesting day.

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

“So Rob didn’t come to our little crew game of mini-putt?” T.J. questions as he meets up with Steve, Jason and the others.

“Rob is at Disney World with Jordan and Alyssa,” Steve answers as T.J. smiles.

“That figures. We knew that he was a kid at heart.”

“He also knows how to do little girl’s hair into pig tails if you ask Jason.”

“Really?” Jason then shows T.J. the picture that he received from Jordan earlier and T.J. breaks out laughing. “That’s adorable. Honestly, truthfully, adorable.”

“And funny?” Steve questions and T.J. shakes his head yes.

“It’s a good laughter relief,” Jason comments, putting his phone back in his pocket. “So, are you ready to lose?”

“Please – we both know that you’ll get stuck on the windmill again,” Steve jokes. “Anyways, I got something to ask you about.” Jason looks at Steve curiously as T.J. takes his turn, going first. “I overheard you on the phone the other day. Everything okay at home? And if I’m intruding, let me know.”

“Things are fine…” Jason then walks away, grabbing his golf club, ready to take his shot.

“Are you sure about that? You know that you can trust me.”

“Dude – I know that so you don’t need to inform me, but things are fine. It’s nothing unusual.”

“And who can mini-putt?” T.J. questions as he scores it in the hole in his first shot.

“Show off,” Jason mutters as they watch the new guy on the team go next. “Say, this new engineer is pretty swift. I’m sort of glad that Kenny sent him our way. I think he’ll be an asset.”

“Have we pranked the new guy yet?”

“Not yet but Speedweeks has just begun my friend.”

“That it has.” They watch the new guy take a shot, getting it in the whole. “I finally have competition. You’re up LeTarte! Make sure you aim for the hole, alright?” Steve gives him a surprised look. “Got your glasses this time?”

“You’re just asking for your butt to be kicked T,” the new guy chimes in as Steve walks over to the spot.

“He always is,” Steve comments before making his shot, scoring it in one shot. “Now what were you just saying?” He then walks back over to Jason as they watch Laura step up for her turn. “I like the new guy as well. Just watch your step with him till we know he’s comfortable with how we roll. And, are you sure things are okay?”

“Things are fine,” Jason replies. “I can deal with it and do my job. Let go and relax. I got this bro.”

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

“Now remind me how awesome I am for thinking of this great breakfast idea,” Marie questions with a glance back towards Dale as they sit together in the motorcoach. She then turns back to the toaster, checking on the waffles as they toast. “We’ll just keep it between us, though. I wouldn’t want the others to get jealous.”

“Waffles, strawberries and whip cream – definitely a treat but definitely a secret treat,” Dale comments as he finishing cutting up the strawberries. Marie then looks in the fridge for the whip cream, surprised when she sees there is none. “What’s wrong?”

“There’s no whip cream. Did you have a midnight snack?” Dale shrugs his shoulder, ducking away from her as she reaches to smack him. “Dal-”

“I needed something to help me sleep last night. What do you expect? Relax, as I have a plan. I’ll go see if Jimmie has some as I’m sure he keeps some hidden for Evie and Lydia.”

“You’d probably have more luck with Harvick and perhaps I should go as I need to ask Delana something.”

“It’s up to you.” He then watches as she takes the waffles out of the toaster, sitting them on a plate before wiping her hands off. “I’ll go since you’re busy with the food.” Dale then grabs his shoes, slipping them on as he watches her check on the bacon and eggs. They had decided on bacon, eggs, waffles (with delight) to go with a glass of orange juice for breakfast. “I’ll be back before you can finish those eggs…I promise.” He gives her a quick kiss on the lips before exiting out of the motorcoach.

“Tell Delana I say hi!” Dale then shuts the door, feeling a hand on his shoulder as he does so.

“Going somewhere?” He hears, instantly freezing as he recognizes that voice. Without thinking, he swings his hand back, making contact with her head and knocking Mariela back a couple of steps.

“Marie!” He yells as he keys the code in, opening the door.

“Dale?” She questions as she walks towards the door away, curious. “What’s wrong?” She picks up her step, worried that he had possibly fallen or something.

“Marie isn’t going to save you next time,” he hears Mariela say.

“Dale?!?” Marie yells out once again as she opens the door. He then stands there frantic. “What’s wrong?” Dale turns around without saying a word, glancing to see if there’s anybody around him. He then lets out a sigh of relief as he doesn’t see Mariela anywhere. “Earth to Earnhardt!”

“Your sister…she…was…just….” Marie pulls him by the arm and drags him into the motorcoach, shutting the door behind him. “She….was….there….she…gone…” Dale places a couple fingers on his throat, pain aching from the scream that he had let out as he walks towards the kitchen and grabs a drink of cold water. Feeling the cool liquid go down his throat and ease the pain, he sits down. “I walked out and she was there. When I yelled for you, she said that you wouldn’t save me next time and she ran.”

“So she’s on the property? Shit!” Marie grabs her phone off the counter, dialing a phone number that she had made sure to retrieve earlier. The phone number would give her instant connection to the security office and without a do, she was ready to make a report. “Forget the whip cream – we’ll do it with ice cream.” She then sits across from him, ready to file the necessary report. There was no way her sister was going to do something again.

 

Chapter 47: Report Filed

“I just wanted to let you know that your report has been filed,” the officer speaks as he stands between the pair in the motorcoach. “Every officer on the property is looking for Ms. Mariela Calantay now as we speak. Once she is located, she will be placed under arrest for attempted kidnapping as that’s the charge that fits what she attempted here. We have yet to locate her, however I am sure we will in the next few hours.”

“And what are we supposed to do till then?” Dale questions, still shook up from everything as he sips on some more water. His throat felt sore, scratchy and everything else irritating from the simple act of screaming. No doubt it was why the doctor had advised against use of voice on Saturday night.

“Till then, I would advise you both not to make many steps outside of the area for fear of her lurking and waiting. To offer you some comfort, we could get a guard to stay positioned here to protect you both.”

“That’d be comforting, actually. There’s no telling what this girl is capable of.”

“Sir, I understa-”

“Do you honestly? Have you read up on her file?”

“Dale, please relax and understand that the officer and his staff are doing what they can,” Marie comments as Dale looks over.

“I just want to make sure that everything possible is being done,” Dale states.

“Well as the officer stated, they are looking for her and will do what it takes to protect us.”

“That is correct,” the officer states firmly. “I will do need to head back to my office, however I will call for Office James Carson to stand guard for the rest of the day. If Ms. Calantay is not found by nightfall, another guard will take his place. I am sorry for the situation that you both find yourselves in.” The officer leaves quietly without another word as Marie leans back against the counter in the small kitchen.

“So much for a relaxing day without life’s stresses eating us up,” she comments to herself as she takes a bite of the waffle.

“We can still have our relaxing day together as we weren’t planning on going far anyway,” Dale says as she looks over.

“Oh yeah because you sounding all worried about my dear sister makes perfect lead in to that.”

“I told you – I just wanted to make sure that the officers were doing everything that they could. I’m not worried about your sister as I can kick her ass if I want.” Dale then stands up and walks over to Marie. “But I’d rather do this to you.” He then leans in and kisses her lips lightly.

“Spill the truth.” He then takes a step back surprised.

“Excuse me?”

“I know my sister spooked you and obviously with what she did to you, you’re probably a little scared and worried. Considering how this has gone for us both, there’s no surprise that the nerves are a bucket full.” Dale lets out a sigh before sinking back in his seat.

“So you want the truth, huh? Okay, fine – here is the truth. I’m mad that your sister escaped under that ‘royalty innocence’ law shit that you brought up earlier. I’m mad that your mother didn’t see fit to bother to believe you when you told her that it wasn’t right. I’m upset that are good day is spoiled by her invasion because we sit here worried. I’m perhaps a little worried about our daughter not being with us in a sea of people where Mariela could hide out and trap her again. Do you see a problem here? Yes, I’m worried. Yes, I’m even scared. Yes, there’s nightmares that come to mind at the sight of your sister. However, I also realize that with the officers searching and with that officer on guard, that things will most likely be okay. Plus, Alyssa has Jordan and Rob – plus Mickey Mouse and his security guards. For that reason, I am trying to make the best out of the situation. Happy?” Marie walks over and sits on his lap with a smile.

“Honesty is awesome to hear. I appreciate the honesty. Truthfully, my thoughts match yours because why should the evil witch spoil how much I love your company?” She then kisses his lips as he wraps both arms around her.

Peaking from her hidden spot, Mariela rolls her eyes at the sight of them cuddling. She couldn’t believe how care free that they seemed to be acting despite her actions to try and play her cards.

Carefully watching her step, she moves away out of the motorcoach lot and scours across the Daytona infield in a spot where she wouldn’t be noticed. Once tucked away in a quiet spot of the fan campground, she pulls out her phone and dials the number in question.

“Hello?” She hears on the other end as she lays back in the grass, soaking up the warm sun.

“Why hello,” she replies with a smile. “I hope you’re enjoying your day with the team mini-golfing. We both know that you can’t hit a ball worth anything. I guess that goes with figuring out things for me because I know more than you know. Remember that passcode? Yeah, I know it.”

“Well done. I guess that increases the price, huh? I mean, I did get you access and location.” She then chuckles and shakes her head in disbelief.

“Oh sweet dear, it doesn’t help you because you could’ve got it for me and saved the trouble. You got to love spooking a man, and then watching his every move closely as he types five numbers into a keypad. Only problem now is I’ve got some security guards watching my tail behind. Got some words for that?”

“They do their night-time switches at about 9 o’ clock. That should give you a window to get in there, type the keypad in and make your move. However, making an escape if I sense your ideas would be testy.” She smiles as she hums to herself, musing over her thoughts.

“No fear. I can get my way out without help. I’ve become known for sneaky situations. Now, I need your help with a four year old.”

“Simple as pie sweet thang. I’ll pull convincing tonight at dinner to get Jordan and Rob to keep her for a night, or for her to spend some time with Stevie and his kids. Pull strings in that sweet couple needs more time alone after your ordeal. Payment? Or four year old trouble?”

“Payment. Well done. You’re learning quicker than ever. By the way, keep up what you said on the resume. Don’t arose suspicions.”

“10-4. I’ve been good so far. The guys seem to like me.”

“I don’t know why they would. Thanks for the conversation. Bye.” She then hangs up and tosses the phone back in her pocket. Now what to do till later that night?

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

As TJ and Laura sit leaning against the wall waiting, they notice the three telephone amigos returning to the group. Each had gone off to talk on the phone to someone about something following the round of mini-golf.

“Hey hey, cellphone city has ended,” TJ comments as Laura chuckles a little. “Everything okay?” Everyone shakes their head yes – except Steve. “Stevie….”

“Rob reports that he is surrounded by two kids in the form of a four-year-old blond and a 20-something-year-old who screams on kiddy rides,” Steve starts as they all laugh.

“So fun is to be had at Disney World, huh?” Laura questions and Steve shakes his head yes.

“I got a hold of Marie and it seems they had a visitor in the form of a Mariela. Now relax as they’re both okay. They’ve reported it and an officer is standing guard to make sure that she doesn’t return. It’s caused some spook in their step, but they’re okay. Oh, and Rob says that Jordan wants to keep Alyssa for the night because they’re having so much fun that they’re doing Universal Studios tomorrow.”

“Jealous!” TJ yells as they head out.

“Awww, does T want to join the fun?” Laura teases as TJ playfully slaps her.

“You just wait till we get the go-kart track missy.”

“If TJ didn’t have a girl at home, I’d say that you two are boyfriend and girlfriend,” Steve comments, getting laughs from the others. “You’re so couplish.”

“Oh can it!” TJ says as he playfully throws a candy wrapper back at Steve.

They then head off to the go-kart track as one person in the group smiles in delight. It was nice to see Jordan make things easier in having Alyssa away for the night as that meant that Mariela could truly do what she needed to – satisfying payment requirements.

 

Chapter 48: Night Fall

“It’s 9….where are you?” Mariela heard the officer say out loud as she hid behind another motorcoach, patiently waiting. She knew that they’d switch at 9 o’ clock per the phone call and had planned to be in that particular spot at that time.

“That’s the million dollar question,” she whispers to herself as she checks her watch once again. She was glad to hear that Alyssa hadn’t returned as that’d make just two people within the doors and not a third person.

Truthfully, she didn’t want to hurt the three-year-old as it wasn’t her fault that she was stuck with this family. It wasn’t Alyssa whom broke the rules that were laid in place. Who goes behind their father’s back and breaks a law? Who kills their own father? And who is fully okay with the actions of his supposed fiancé now? None of those questions ended up in the answer being Alyssa.

“I wonder if the other guard forgot that he was even on duty,” Mariela whispers to herself once again, getting annoyed with waiting.

“James!” She hears as another officer comes into view and walks over to where Officer James is standing.

“Man, why are you late?” James asks the officer as he takes a couple steps away from the front door of the motorcoach and over to where the new officer is standing.

“Perfect,” Mariela whispers as she watches the pair intently. She had hoped that they’d get themselves into some sort of conversation and then she could sneak behind and type the password in the keypad, entering the motorcoach.

“Well at least you’re here now so let me brief you on what you need to know,” she hears James continue. She watches as the officers get locked in a conversation and slowly makes her way over. Upon reaching the door, she types the four digits into the keypad, smiling when she hears the door unlock.

Noticing the officers aren’t moving from position, she opens the door – as quietly as possible – set to go up the steps.

“Who’s there?” Mariela hears her sister call from inside the motorcoach as Mariela slips inside, carefully shutting the door behind her. She could tell by the distance of her sister’s voice that Marie and Dale were in the back lounge part of the coach. She could only think that Marie thought it was someone that they knew real well.

“Did you hear something?” She hears the officer outside ask as she finds the first thing in reach that she can use to jam the door from the inside. She didn’t want to take any chances.

“Steve?” Dale asks out loud, thinking that Steve had come to see them after being done his fun day with the crew and knowing that everybody was a little spooked upon Mariela’s visit earlier.

“The last time I checked, my name wasn’t Steve,” Mariela speaks out loud as she reaches the back room, causing a look of shock on both Dale and Marie’s faces. “So you honestly thought that a guard would stop me from seeing you. Real funny…and cute might I add. The problem is, guards have a switch time and with the right ‘crew member’ informing you, you know all the details about where people will be at certain times and when the switch will happen.”

“Crew member….no….” Marie says quietly out loud, not believing that someone on Dale’s own team would be helping her sister. However, it did make sense considering that Mariela had access to the motorcoach lot and knew when they’d be there. “What do you want?” Marie then gets off the bed and walks right over to her sister. “I could scream for help right now and you’d be arrested for everything that you’ve done.”

“I’d like to see them try and get in here before I do something to you little one. Blocking the door to make sure that nobody can get in always work out perfectly, doesn’t it? Plus, you know that you should pay your dues.”

“I have no dues to pay as I did what any sane person would do since daddy was insane and those laws were insane.”

“I never thought that you’d be the naughty one, Marie-Ann.” Mariela then reaches into her pocket and pulls out a knife, pulling her sister close and wrapping an arm around her. “Scream and you won’t see the light of day again, got it?” Mariela then looks up at Dale, who is sitting on the bed still surprised about Mariela’s appearance. “You know not to break my rules so you wouldn’t scream, would you?” Dale shakes his head no as he keeps his eyes firmly locked on Marie’s.

“So what are you going to do? Kill me? Do you really have what it takes to kill your own sister?” Marie then kicks her foot back, landing square in Mariela’s crotch, causing Mariela to bend a little. Marie uses the opportunity to grab Mariela’s arm with the knife and pull it away, causing the knife to fly out of her hand.

“Help!” Dale screams as he searches for where the knife landed, knowing that Mariela will be looking for it to plan her next move.

“Bad move…” Mariela calls as Marie turns to face her sister.

“Think again sister,” Marie comments, before punching Mariela, though Mariela ducks.

“You never were good at fighting. I guess that’s why you just made the decision to shoot daddy rather than perhaps do something else.”

“Get out of my face and leave my life alone!!” Marie then goes after Mariela once again, though Mariela jumps back, as Marie goes running down the main hall.

“Run sister run…while I get a man of my own to play with.” Mariela then looks back at Dale, who has an eye locked on her. “So what is it about you that she likes so much?”

“I would make an escape rather than stand there and look all tough,” Dale suggests as he gets up off the bed, scanning the floor for the knife. “It’s time that you rot away in hell for what you’ve done.”

“Nah, that’s my sister as how can you be with someone who killed someone?” Mariela questions as she walks over to Dale. The pair of them set eye on the knife that lies on the floor in the middle of them. “And anyways, saying that I’m crazy due to my father’s death and behavior would cover anything I do, right?” Mariela then dives for the knife, grabbing it just before Dale can get his hands locked on it. “So what do you have to say to me now?” Dale gets up off the floor and begins his run through the motorcoach as he hears Marie at the front door, making her way out to tell the officers. “Run…of course…” Mariela then grabs the biggest item that she can pick up and literally throw with her hands in the bedsroom, tosses down the main hall, hitting Dale straight in the back and knocking him down. “That’s more like it!” She then walks down the hall as she hears Marie outside with the officers.

“One second till you’re dead or arrested…”

“Nah, I know what I’m doing sweetheart.” She then takes the knife and stabs it square in his back as she hears multiple footsteps coming up the stairs. She runs through the motorcoach to the bedsroom, opening the window and climbing out.

“Dale!” Marie yells as she runs over to him. “Damn it!” She then crouches down to his level. “This is what happens when officers decide to socialize and talk about the girls they’ve slept with. What are you going to do now?” She then looks back down at him. “Dale?”

“Pain….pain…” he lets out as the officer radios for an ambulance.

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

Steve LeTarte walks through the doors of the hospital waiting room and over to Marie, sitting down beside her as he hands her a hot chocolate.

“Have you heard anymore?” He asks as she shakes her head no.

“No updates…yet…” She answers as she sips on the hot chocolate. “Thank you. I appreciate you running down and getting this. I still can’t believe it.”

“He’s going to be okay, Marie.” Steve then rubs Marie’s back as he thinks everything over.

Only a couple hours earlier, his phone had gone off with a phone call from Marie telling him what had happened. He then proceeded to call everyone else who needed to know at that moment before making his way over to the hospital.

They had all been sitting in the waiting room downstairs – crew members, Rick, family members – waiting for an update. The doctor came out about an hour ago to report that Dale was going in for surgery due to the wound caused by the stabbing. The doctor had said that only immediate family members were to head to the upstairs waiting room by recovery. Steve and Rick had weaseled their way into that group virtue of pleading by both Marie and Kelley.

Since then, the doctor had yet to come out with any updates. Steve had promised everybody else downstairs that he’d report to them when he heard something so that way they knew.

“Rob and Jordan have Alyssa downstairs,” Steve started quietly. “They told her that Mariela escaped and saw her daddy and caused a big booboo. She’s worried about him, but the boys are doing a good job in telling her that he’ll be okay and keeping her mind occupied. She wants to see him, per Jordan, but Jordan says that they’ve told her that she can see him after when the doctor allows and that he’ll be okay. She seemed to accept their explanation.”

“I don’t know what we’d do without Jordan this weekend,” Marie says quietly as Steve keeps her held close.

“Jordan has always been there when we’ve needed him. Actually, the whole team has fallen in love with Alyssa.”

“Then why is it that Mariela said that someone on the team is helping her?” Steve looks at Marie completely surprised as he couldn’t believe those words herself.

“Seriously?” Marie shakes her head yes as Steve shakes his head in disbelief. “This team is like family. Nobody would backstab the other.”

“That’s what she said, Steve. That’s how she got in the motorcoach lot and how she got to us and knew that we’d be alone.” Steve then freezes as realization hits him. It all made sense based on the behavior that he’d seen so far.

“Jason. He’s been acting strangely.”

“Burdett?” Steve slowly shakes his head yes as Marie shakes her head no. “No way!”

“He’s been odd with his phone calls and won’t talk about what is going on that has him all odd. His behavior doesn’t’ add up at all, Marie.”

“I have an update on Mr. Dale Earnhardt Jr.,” the doctor’s words cut their conversation off as they turn to see the doctor standing there. “He is out of surgery and in recovery. I am happy to report that the surgery went well. The stab wound has been repaired effectively and he should heal in the coming days. Once the anesthetic wears off, he should wake up in the next hour or so. Mind you, he’ll be in some pain and discomfort. You’re welcome to go see him – about five at a time. May I get the first five to follow me?” Marie stands up along with Kelley, Brenda, Kerry and Rick and they follow the doctor accordingly.

Steve, meanwhile, heads the other direction to go downstairs to update the rest of the people in the waiting room – but also see what Mr. Burdett has to say for himself.

 

Chapter 49: Burdett

Sometimes the truth isn’t what the truth may seem 😉

 

“So he’s going to be okay?” T.J. asks once again and Steve shakes his head yes, keeping one eye on Jason.

“Yeah the doctor says that surgery went well and he should wake up soon,” Steve answers. “Give him a couple weeks to heal up and he should be good to go.”

“Couple weeks?” Rob asks, surprised as he looks over.

“Stab wound, Rob. It’s not that deep and thankfully didn’t tear any important per the doctor. Now I know this may not seem like the perfect time for this, but to my…I mean Jason’s guys – Regan is going to run the rest of Speedweeks with you.”

“Still can’t say that flat out, huh?” T.J. questions as Steve shakes his head.

“Should I go tell Jordan that he can take Alyssa upstairs?” Rob wonders as Steve shakes his head no.

“Wake till we know he’s awake and then we’ll let her come up for a couple minutes before taking her away and to bed.” Rob shakes his head approving as Steve walks past the fellow crew members and other drivers that have joined them in the room. “Jason, can I talk to you?” Jason then looks at Steve confused.

“What is there to talk about?” Jason questions as Steve takes a deep breath, trying to remain calm.

“I’d prefer that we talk about this in private rather than in front of everybody so move your ass outside now,” Steve states, taking another deep breath.

“Fine…” Jason then stands up ands heads outside, caught off guard by the hint of attitude that he caught in Steve’s voice. Normally, Steve was always laid back so he wondered what had the crew chief up in a bunch. “So why did you have to drag me out here?”

“You’ve been acting strange all week and it has caught my attention – as you noticed earlier today. However, I’m really interested now that I’ve heard from Marie that Mariela told her that someone on this team is helping her.” Jason then looks at Steve completely surprised by the accusation.

“Are you saying that person is me?” Steve then crosses his arms as he keeps his eyes on Jason.

“Well, you’ve been acting strange and you’ve been on your phone a lot these past couple of days so you tell me.”

“I can’t believe that you would even accuse me of this! I thought you said that you trusted me, LeTarte! So you think I’ve been on my phone with Mariela, huh?” Jason then takes his phone out of his pocket and tosses it to Steve, which Steve firmly catches.

“It seems to be the logical explanation since you won’t tell anybody what the hell is going on. Am I right? Is there reason to believe that you’ve backstabbed everyone?” Jason shakes his head no as he points to the phone.

“Look into my contacts and see who I have been talking to. Look through my text messages. Look at the messages from my sister. Look at the phone calls from my dad’s cell, my mom’s cell and from their house and then tell me your thoughts. I thought you trusted me. I thought that was why you hired me. However with how you’ve been acting in wanting to be here with your nose in the business and then now accusing me, I have to wonder if you really do trust me. Do you? Or was I hired because everybody else told you too?” Steve looks through the text messages, before flipping to the previous calls, never taking his eyes off the phone.

“The decision was made as a joint effort by myself, Rick, Dale and Chad. I was one of the first people to suggest that you be bumped up to the new crew chief on this team.” Steve looks through the previous calls, immediately feeling his heart drop as he sees that they correspond with what Jason is saying, before handing back the phone. “Jason, I’m sorry I ever accused you and I do hope that your mom gets better soon, honestly.”

“That’s why I’ve been out of the loop – I’ve been worried about her. I would never do anything to hurt Dale or Marie or Alyssa. I love them and have loved them since they came into our lives. It hurts me to think that you thought that. However, I understand. The pieces were there – as you say.”

“It’s not fai-”

“You don’t need to say anymore. You apologized, I accepted it. It’s time for us to move on. Let’s hope Dale gets better soon, Mariela gets arrested and Regan wins us a damn Daytona 500.” Jason then pulls Steve into a hug before the pair head back inside.

As they walked inside, Steve’s eyes scanned over the rest of the crew, wondering who the weasel of the group was.

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

“Are you sure you’re comfortable?” Marie asks as she sits in the chair beside Dale’s bed. He had been awake for a couple of hours and had said his hellos and given the hugs to those who requested them.

“As comfortable as I’ll be,” he answers before letting out a little grunt with the pain that he was feeling in his back. The drugs were working as they took the sharpness away from the pain, however there was still a dull annoying ach that was bugging him. “Why are you sitting there? Why aren’t you lying with me?”

“Because you haven’t asked me to yet…” He then shifts over a little and pats to the spot on the bed beside him as he lies on his stomach – it seemed to be the most comfortable spot. Lying on his back wasn’t working out and laying on his side wasn’t a good suggestion either. She then climbs up in the bed, getting comfortable beside him.

“Now that’s much better.” She then leans in and kisses his lips without saying another word, rubbing his cheek lightly. He then wraps an arm around her, holding her close to him. “Hey, it’s okay. I’m okay. Stop worrying and no blubbering. Your sister gave it her shot, but she doesn’t know who she’s messing with.” Marie chuckles a little as she lays her head down on the pillow.

“It still doesn’t erase how much I worried about you. I can’t even put that into the words. I didn’t know what I was going to do when I turned and saw the knife sticking out…and the blood…..I love you. I never want to lose you.”

“You’re not going to lose me. I told you that before and I’m going to tell you that again.”

“Then stop scaring the living shit out of me! You’re not a cat, you don’t have nine lives so this is the last scare of the year got it?” He then shakes his head yes, knowing himself that they’d already been through too much and didn’t need this on top of it. “So I don’t know if the doctor told you this, but you’re not driving this weekend.”

“I know and you don’t need to break it so harshly or easily. I get it. I hate your sister. I hate missing this weekend. I hate not being able to be in the car. However, I’m just glad that I’m okay and here with you and have my precious girls in my life.”

“Speaking of which, Jordan is supposed to bring up that little trouble maker in a couple minutes. Fair warning – she knows that something happened.”

“So in other words I should be prepared for three-year-old tears and questions and hugs and kisses? I guess I can handle that.”

“Daddy!” They hear the familiar voice as she comes running in the room and over to where Dale is laying with Marie. Alyssa gets up on the chair by the bed and reaches over, hugging him and kissing his cheek. “Are you otay?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“I’m sore baby girl, but I’ll be fine,” he tells her. “It’s just a big booboo on my back.”

“Don’t worry – mommy will take care of daddy and make sure he’s okay,” Marie adds as Alyssa smiles. “Of course, I could use a little helper at times.”

“I help mommy!” Alyssa comments as Dale reaches over and plays with her Minnie Mouse ears.

“So did you have fun seeing Mickey and Minnie?” He asks, not wanting to discuss how he was feeling any longer with her.

“I got to see Mickey, Minnie and walk in Minnie house.”

“Oh wow, that was a lot of fun, eh?” She shakes her head yes.

“I also saw Cindella….and her castle. We ate with Cindella, Belle and Snow White.”

“Sounds like you had an awesome day with Jordan and Rob.” She shakes her head yes.

“Tomorrow, we go to Universaty Udios!” Dale and Marie chuckle as Jordan walks up behind her.

“I told her that I’d take her there tomorrow – actually, way before I heard what happened to you both,” Jordan explains. “I had so much fun with her today that I thought I’d go for another day of fun.”

“We appreciate you taking such good care of her and thank you,” Dale comments. “Now is Alyssa being a good behaved girl?” Alyssa shakes her head yes.

“I always good daddy,” she comments before yawning.

“I think someone needs to leave and go to bed.”

“But I no want to ‘eave daddy.”

“Sweetheart, you’re tired and if you want to go to Universal Studios tomorrow, you need to get some sleep tonight.” Alyssa lets out a sigh.

“Okay. Kissy?”

“Of course.” Dale and Marie both give her kisses before trading goodbyes with each other and Jordan as they watch Jordan and Alyssa leave together.

“Rob was saying that she was so surprised to see Cinderella’s castle,” Marie starts. “They were debating what her reaction is going to be when she finds out that she’s a princess.”

“She’ll be searching for the crown, and then the dress and of course a castle,” Dale comments before looking dead into Marie’s eyes. “Stay with me tonight?” She shakes her head yes as they cuddle up together, both set to get some sleep after their big long day.

 

Chapter 50: Tuesday

“Steve, you have a lot on your mind,” T.J. comments as he walks over and sits beside Steve. “What’s up?”

“Mariela told Marie that one of the crew guys is helping her,” Steve starts, startling T.J. “I want to figure out who because damn, one of our own screwing with us?”

“Did you check out Burdett?” Steve shakes his head yes.

“He’s been acting off as his mom hasn’t been doing that well. Trust me – I confronted the guy and felt so bad afterwards when I saw the messages and phone calls. I know it can’t be myself and it’s damn well not you as you both are best friends. So who is it?” T.J. shrugs his shoulders as he thinks it over.

“This team is family to each other so for one of the guys or gals to backstab the rest, it seems unflappable.” Steve shakes his head in agreement as he runs the list of crew members through his head. “It’s not Laura as she didn’t know some details about what the pair were doing. It’s not Jordan or Rob because they’ve been with Alyssa.”

“It could still be them, T.J. However, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt because they’re part of the close knit part of this team, especially Jordan. So that leaves the whole over the wall crew and engineering staff.” Steve then sits up, continuing to run names through his head. “Say, didn’t we make a new hire recently?” T.J. shakes his head yes remembering that they’d hired Randy Burns as a new team engineer. “You don’t think that he’s the person, do you?”

T.J. shrugs his shoulders not sure as Steve thinks it over. Could it honestly be Randy?

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

“Do I honestly have to do this?” Dale asks as he sits up in the bed.

“The doctor said that it’d be good for you to get up and do some walking,” Marie answers as he looks at her, unimpressed.

“I’m sore, cranky and did I mention sore? But I’m supposed to do some walking?” Marie lets out a sigh as she sits beside him.

“Listen to me – I know that you’re sore and I wish I could make the pain go away. However, I can’t do that now can I? Getting up and moving about is good for you. It promotes motion in your legs so that way you heal quicker all together. Also, if you’re a good boy, the doctor said that he could let you leave soon.”

“And then I could have my favourite nurse tend to me 24/7?” Marie chuckles before leaning in and kissing his lips.

“So am I getting your ass up today or not?”

“Help me…please…” She shakes her head yes, standing up and holding out her hands with him. He grasps them and slowly stands up, letting out a grunt. “Son…of…a…bitch…fuck this hurts!”

“Deep breaths and relax. Remember – a couple steps.”

“Do I get a treat if I’m a good boy?” Marie then rolls her eyes as they start walking a little.

The doctor had come in that morning saying that it’d be a good idea to get him up and moving as some constant movement would help in healing. Some circles around the room and a couple tongue bites later, the movement was a refreshing sight for Marie as she knew with him up and about that he’d be okay. She hated to see the rest of their Speedweeks screwed due to her sister, but was glad that he’d be okay.

“I’m done,” he announces before sitting back on the bed. He then lays back in the bed, couple grunts later with the pain that is still there. “Now for my treat….I did as you asked…”

“I’m not doing that he-” Marie starts as he pulls her close.

“Nobody is in the room but us.”

“Good try but you’re going to have wait till we get home. Plus, it’d be stress on your back and don’t need that.” She then flops down in the chair beside him as he pouts.

“You’re no fun.” She sticks her tongue out as he rolls his eyes. “You’re mean.”

“I’m just doing what I need to do to take care of you.”
“Well I want a new nurse if that’s the case. This…” He then grabs her hand and places it on his crotch. “This needs to be taken care of too. You know that you want it also. Come on nurse.” Marie then rolls her eyes as she removes her hand.

“You’re not going to convince me so you might as well stop. You know that you need to behave.” He then crosses his arms as he lays back, defeated.

“This sucks.”

“Sorry babes. I hate it as well.” He then looks at her with a smirk as she shakes her head no.

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

As they head out of the diner, Steve pulls Randy away from the group as Jason and T.J. peak over curious.

“Can I ask you something?” Steve questions as Randy looks at him curiously.

“Sure…” Randy answers, uncertain of what could be on Steve’s mind.

“Mariela says that someone is helping her. I thought over every crew member on this team and picked them out as to not being involved. You’re the new guy. Are you involved?” Randy shakes his head no instantly as Steve keeps an eye on him, curiously. “Are you sure about that?” Randy shakes his head yes as Steve lets out a sigh. “Okay, but let me tell you something. If you are, you won’t be meeting no cheery side of me anytime soon.”

“Understood. May I go now?” Steve shakes his head yes.

“I’m watching you.”

“Keep watching because there’s nothing to see.” Randy then walks away and rejoins a couple of the other crew members.

As he walks away, he notices the next text message on his phone, asking which room that Dale is in. He texts the number, with details in regards to when visiting hours are over and such before placing the phone back in his pocket.

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

“Do you have to go?” Dale asks as Marie glances at the clock once again, realizing that it’s 10.

“Yes I do,” she answers. “The doctors won’t let me stay tonight beyond visiting hours so I’m sorry, but I have to leave.”

“I’m going to worry….” He keeps her held close as she lets out a sigh. She wanted to stay with him as well, however the doctors had told her that she couldn’t tonight. They had made a special exception on Monday night, but couldn’t two nights in a row.

“I’m going to stay with Steve and Trisha so I am not alone tonight. Alyssa is staying with Jordan and Rob. Everybody will be okay.” She then kisses his cheek. “And if you can’t sleep, you have my phone so you can text me or call me. I’ll make sure that I answer it right away.”

“And you’ll come bright and early in the morning? You promise not to be late?”

“Promise. I love you. See you in the morning. Sleep well.” She then gives him one more kiss, before reluctantly heading towards the door to leave.

“Love you. You better be here at 9.”

“I will – I promise.” He then lets out a sigh as he tries to comfortable, already hating the feeling of her being gone from his side.

Shall I take you on a tour of the clues?

Chapt 46 – I mentioned that there was a new guy on the team per conversations with Steve, Jason and T.J. Recall Steve’s words – “I like the new guy as well. Just watch your step with him till we know he’s comfortable with how we roll.”

Chapter 47 – The person was one of the three that were part of cell-phone city (joining Jason with parent call and Steve’s call to Marie) and the person’s thoughts on Alyssa not being with Dale and Marie were spread so it had to be someone that had gone mini-golfing with the team – therefore ruling out Rob and Jordan.

As a result – it’s the new guy, which I have now identified. You’re welcome 🙂

So how long till he gets figured out? What is Mariela up to? Oh that’s all to be figured out!