Cabin Fears – Chapter 34

Dale sat back as he watched the car go through technical inspection, impressed with how well Kevin Meendering and Steve LeTarte had explained the additions made to the car for Alyssa.

He then glanced over, smiling as he watched Alyssa and Chase sit on a bench, joined by some of their closest friends, simply shooting the breeze. After seeing the pain the pair had been through over the past couple of weeks, it was nice to see a carefree attitude between spread around by both of them. He knew he had fought Alyssa on coming back, perhaps harder than he did for Chase, but the smile her face said it all. The return to racing, emphasized by winning, had done more for her than anything else could.

Standing up and walking away from the area, he puts his hands in his pockets as he takes a deep breath.

He was the first to admit that he was worried about Alyssa coming back to racing. He may not have appeared it when Steve suggested it in the hospital, or when the idea was brought up to NASCAR. He also may not have appeared that way when they made the original test laps prior to the weekend.

However, it was the complete opposite from the truth.

He found his stomach flip flopping through the process, wanting to yell out ‘freeze’ or ‘stop’ or ‘impossible,’ just the same as Marie had in the hospital room. How was something this crazy going to work?

He knew how evil racecars could be when they weren’t handling correctly. He knew how ruthless competitors could be if they saw a single weakness in someone – they were quick to use that to their advantage. He knew the feeling of a car twitching sideways at 200 mph, and the fight a driver had to goo through to save it from spinning around or hitting a wall. There was also the fact of avoiding walls or other cars when you were sent sideways, unable to stop, too. The unpredictability factor was there.

Looking across the dimly lit track, he found himself admitting these worries to himself, even perhaps fear. He even thought about the other night when he dreamt of something happening, resulting in her being hurt badly. He thought of her maybe getting stuck in the car if it was to catch fire. Taking a deep breath, he knew those thoughts were only there because of what he had been through.

Though instead of that, the weekend had gone better than imagined. The team unloaded the best package that they could’ve dreamed of and she had the quickest car throughout the weekend, capping it off with a win despite two separate incidents in the race.

It’d be hours since the checkered flag had flown, but he still found himself in disbelief as to how she had done that. How’d she have the strength to handle steering the whole time with just one hand? How was she able to fight back against the adversity? How was she able to put everything aside and fight back?

Now, instead of those earlier fears, he was wondering if he’d be set to handle 10 weeks of her battling for the championship and stay calm through that. He also found himself thinking about the future.

It was a brief thought before, having crossed his mind after her first couple of wins and even after complimenting her at the test. Though before it had just been a quick thought scuffed to the side.

Was JR Motorsports ready to go Cup racing now?

He had discussed it previously, expressing to Kelley and others who asked that he’d never take his team up to the premiere series, comfortable to where they were in XFINITY.  Besides, there were other things on his plate outside of racing, too, as he and Marie were still busy as ever with Pitronia.

However, he knew there was no room at Hendrick Motorsports for Alyssa and he wasn’t sure if he’d be comfortable with her driving for another team, given the connections. He thought about Richard Childress Racing, but wasn’t too keen in her being teammates with the Dillon brothers. There was the thought of Chip Ganassi Racing, but that wouldn’t seem like home.

In the best interest for the future of his daughter’s career, was his team set to make the next big step?

He knew they had the talent to make it happen. He knew they had the resources to put forth. He knew everything would fall together as soon as he gave the order to make it happen.

But was he ready to pull the plug just yet?

“I was wondering where you ran off too,” Dale hears, glancing behind him as he sees Marie standing there. She then makes her way over, wrapping an arm around him. “What are you thinking about?”

“A lot of different things,” he tells her honestly, knowing he couldn’t lie to her. “From Alyssa to the race team and the future.”

“Care to enlighten me?” He then glances over at her, before looking back out to the track. It wasn’t worth asking her as she didn’t know just how big of a step this would be. Her answer would just be solely based on Alyssa’s future in racing.

“Nah, it’s okay. I’m sure I’ve got it sorted out, or got the right people to contact to make sure I do.” He knew that would involve getting some thoughts from the key players at JR Motorsports before he made his final decision.

“As long as you have it handled, I’m not going to fight you on that.” She then lets him go and walks up pit road a little, before looking back at him. “Remember all the fun moments that we had here together?”

“Bristol has always been magical. She just worked her magic a little extra hard tonight for Alyssa.” Marie smiles as she walks back over, pulling Dale close.

“She needed that, Dale. Chase needed that. It’s the first step to moving forward. We both know that better than anyone.” He shakes his head yes as he wraps his arms around her.

“We were able to do it, Chase has done it before. They’ll be able to do it again, I’m certain.” He then kisses the top of her head as they stay there for awhile together.

Back at the picnic table, the jokes continued amongst the friends.

“So she like literally threatened to kick Ty’s ass today?” Lydia questions and Chase shakes his head yes, with Alyssa rolling her eyes.

“I just stated that I was purely angry – nothing else,” she answers as Chase glances at her.

“It was more like, ‘he’s still a silver spoon fool’ or something like that,” Chase comments as the group just laughs.

“Kevin is never going to live down that comment,” Ryan Blaney says and Chase couldn’t agree more. He had his additional run-ins with Ty, beyond their issues at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

“He spoke the truth that day, though. I could kill at him times, too – and that says a lot coming from me, as you know. But man, he ticked me off a couple years ago at Richmond.”

“Is that when he dumped you for the win?” Leo asks and Chase shakes his head yes. “No surprise.”

“That was the night that Alan and Jared both held you back, and it was my dad who ended up coming by the car to get you and lead you off pit road,” Alyssa remembers as Chase smiles.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he went spinning into a wall tomorrow with the way he’s been driving.”

“If Chase was in the race, he would’ve done that,” Ella comments as Chase shakes his head no. “Really?”

“Alyssa can handle her own battles as she’s the strongest person that I know,” Chase says as he wraps his arms around her. “I don’t need to that for her. Besides, she did get back to his bumper.”

“So, when are you coming back racing?” Elladee Crafton asks, catching everyone’s attention as they look towards Chase. Chase lets out a sigh, unsure how to answer the question. He knew he’d be physically healed from everything soon, but that didn’t cover the mental aspects of what he was going through. He knew that more significant than anything, especially with the flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks.

“I don’t know, honestly. It just depends on how everything goes moving forward. The doctors say I should be fine in a couple weeks, but I don’t know if I’ll be ready then. There’s still a lot that I have to think about, and work my way through.” Ryan and Darrell traded a glance back and forth, knowing what the comment was in reference to.

“You know you can call us anytime you need to talk, right?” Ryan reminds him and Chase shakes his head yes. “I mean that, too. I don’t care if it’s 3 in the morning.”

“And girl, well they have his back, we have yours,” Genieve says to Alyssa as she reaches over, grabbing her hand. Alyssa simply shoots her back a smile and a nod of the head. She knew that she had a lot to talk about, like Chase, but just wasn’t sure who she wanted to turn to on that respect, yet, if anybody.

“We’ve always hung out together so just cause we’re older that doesn’t mean we don’t have each other’s backs and will do whatever it takes,” Lydia adds as the group simply smiles.

“Crazy how we were running around causing chaos in the infield, perhaps driving Chase and Ryan crazy, and now we’re kicking their ass on track.” The younger ones just laugh as Ryan looks on shocked.

“Hey, that’s not nice!” He proclaims as Lydia simply gives him a look.

“What are you going to do about it, Blaney?” She asks as he just smiles.

“I’m going to beat your sister tomorrow and win.”

“Good luck with that.”

“Sorry, I’ve already proclaimed that I am winning so you’ll have to wait till….umm….I’m retired,” Darrell states as Ryan looks over.

“Well, considering you’re a poor old man who requires constant back rubs from Shelby, that’ll be soon,” Ryan teases back in response.

Chasing The Love – Chapter 109: Cup Race

Still on a high from her victory, Alyssa walked through the garage area the next morning with a smile on her face. It had been a great night of racing, followed by a fun night of jokes with Ryan, Karsyn and Chase at the Waffle House.

Now she just needed to complete the weekend with a victory by Chase or her dad to end to be perfect ahead of her birthday on Sunday.

Ahead of the Cup race, both Chase and her dad were busy with VIP guests and sponsor obligations, so it left her some time for herself. She was fine with that, spending some quiet time sitting at a picnic bench working on some of her homework.

“Shouldn’t you be relaxing today given your birthday is tomorrow?” She then glances up at Leo and lets out a small laugh as she looks back down at her homework.

“You know that Ms. Holden will kick my ass, birthday or not, if I don’t get this done,” she comments, referencing her book report for English class. She hated the book that they were forced to read so it was even more painful now to write some character analysis book report based on it.

“This is true. If there’s any teacher that we can say is officially a pain in the butt, and shows no mercy, it’s her.” Alyssa smiles and shakes her head in agreement as Leo takes a seat across from her.

“I’m surprised that you’re still here.” Leo then looks at her surprised, caught off-guard as she glances up. “I mean, your mom normally makes you stay quietly hidden, focused on your homework, till Ella’s race time.” He then lets out a sigh, relaxing in realizing the basis of her comment now. He thought that she was implying he wasn’t wanted.

“I actually got this damn report done last night so I’m free for the rest of the weekend to do as I please.” Alyssa glances up surprised as Leo wasn’t normally the type to have his assignments done early.

“That’s a damn first, and lucky for your ass.” He then smiles as he watches her focus back on her notes for the report.

“I actually wanted to make sure I saw you today incase I didn’t see you tomorrow. I wanted to wish you an early Happy Birthday.” She then looks up with a smile. It was nice to hear that from him as it meant that perhaps there was truly hope for that friendship. “Oh, and I got you a gift.” He then hands her the bag that he had made sure to keep hidden. It wasn’t that big – one of those small gift bags – with some fluff paper on top to hide its contents.

“You didn’t have to do thi-”

“You deserve gifts for your birthday, and besides, I owe you this.” She then looks at him slightly confused as she sets her pen down. Perhaps she could take a small break. She then accepted the bag, pulling out the fluff to reveal an envelope and a small box. “Skip the card – it’s one of those corny cards just so there’s one there.”

“Fine – but I will look at it later to see what you decided on.” She then pulls out the box, popping the top of it. An immediate smile forms on her face as she glances up at him before back at the box. “Leo…”

“We were playing that day, joking around with each other, as well as others. I caught it by accident and broke it. I figured that it was only fair that I got you another one.” She pulls the necklace out of box, smiling. It was a simple silver chain, with a pair of dolphins kissing in the center of it. She had always loved dolphins as a child, and had a necklace just like this prior that she’d wear….till it got broke that day.

“It’s perfect. This is awesome.” She then looks up at him. “Thank you.” He shakes his head, accepting, as he takes a deep breath.

“We’ve both figured that being together doesn’t work, but we know that we have a good relationship as friends. Heck, we had some real fun times together and I don’t want to lose those. I want to still talk to you. I still want to hang out at times with you and others, going to Carowinds and joking around all day. I figured this was a good step in that direction to accepting things, like we talked about.” She smiles, as she wanted to be able to have that, as well. She knew that her and Chase were right for each other by their relationship and how it’d grown and how comfortable it was together, but wanted to still have her friends.

“Trust me – we won’t lose that, and I really do appreciate this.”

They spent a bit more time chatting, but Leo knew that she had work to do and didn’t want to disturb her so he headed on his way, leaving her to finish up that boring book report. She managed to get it finish before it was time for pre-race ceremonies, smiling to herself proud. She put everything away before switching into her outfit for that night, and sliding the necklace around her neck.

She then headed out to pit road, still smiling as she signed a couple autographs for fans who recognized her and received congratulatory messages from crew members who passed her by.

She eventually made her way over to where her dad was set to start that night, knowing that she owned him a good luck wish before heading down to spend rest of pre-race ceremonies with Chase.

“Hope you have a good run tonight – no pressure,” she says as she gives him a hug.

“Thanks,” he replies with a quick kiss on her cheek. “Tell loverboy that he better get used to my back bumper tonight.” She then chuckles, shaking her head.

“Oooo someone got a gift for her birthday already,” Elsa lets out, noticing the necklace around Alyssa’s neck. The necklace catches all of their attention then as everyone smiles. “Chasey spoiling you already?” Alyssa shakes her head no, wishing that Chase would reveal his plans for tomorrow already.

“It was actually a gift from Leo,” she states, catching her family by surprise. “He got it for me to apologize for breaking it last summer. He also said it was a way to show we can truly remain friends.”

“That was nice of him,” Dale comments as Marie crosses her arms. Jewelry was something that was normally reserved for couples to give to each other.

“Are you sure that it didn’t mean more?” Marie questions and Alyssa lets out a sigh. Leave it to her mom to worry about it. Hence why she normally took all her worries to her dad as at least he was more relaxed on these things.

“I’m absolutely positive as we’ve talked on multiple occasions as to where we stand with each other,” she answers, set to leave and find Chase. She wasn’t up to a pre-race discussion with her mom.

“And are you sure that you are truly fine with how things stand?” She then stops, spinning around sharply on the heels of her running shoes.

“Trust me, Mom. Just like I was certain about my feelings for Chase back in February when you doubted them, I’m certain about my feelings now. I’m also certain about how I feel about Leo, and have made that perfectly clear to him. In exchange, he has made it clear that he’s fine with that, but wants to remain friends. That’s it. No more. Stop fussing.” Alyssa then makes her way down pit road without another word as Marie glances at Dale with a look of surprise.

“Did you hear the tone of her voic-”

“You deserved it,” Dale cuts her off as he crosses his arms. “You questioned her feelings and judgment, and had no place to do that. We’ve seen it already through the past two months just how much her and Chase care for each other. Why do you keep asking about it? I thought we were over that. Beyond that, why can’t she simply be friends with Leo? Friends give each other gifts.” Marie lets out a sigh as perhaps she was worrying for no reason, and perhaps needed to lay off.

The race got started soon afterwards, and as expected, Alyssa spent the race on his pit box.

Just like he had been nervous about the final laps for her the night before, she was nervous for him. Just like he had been pulling her with every bit, she was doing the same for him. Just like he found himself nervous over the final laps, hoping that she had pulled the edge off for the victory, she found herself in those same shoes now.

Just like she had edged Blaney for the win the night before, he managed to edge Cameron Hayley in the same fashion tonight to score the victory.

The result matched last night, just in reverse, once Chase got to victory lane as she was right there offering the victory lane hug and kiss, just like he had given her.

“I can win them in a better fash-” he starts as she shakes her head no.

“My finish was closer so stick it!” She cuts him off as he laughs, keeping his arms wrapped around her. “Thank you for the perfect weekend to celebrate my birthday. Hopefully you can live up to this tomorrow.”

“We’ll just have to see.” He then reaches over, grabbing one of the hats as he places it on her head. “See, I had to win tonight so that way I could see you with this look once again.”

“Think it fits better than the crown?” He shakes his head yes as he spins her around.

“You’re more of a country girl anyway, rather than some preppy over the top princess.” He then pulls her back close. “You’re my country princess, and I have no plans on letting that change.” He then places another kiss on her lips.

“And you’re always my dirty little rascal.” He then laughs, catching the reference from when she was younger. She was the princess, Steve was her knight in shining armor, which left Chase to be the dirty little rascal.

“Nah, I’m your prince charming now – charm and all.” She then looks at him with a glance as she smiles.

“Keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel good. We’ll see if you have that charm tomorrow.”

Chasing The Love – Chapter 108: XFINITY Race

It seemed just like a blink of an eye, cup qualifying was over and it was time for the XFINITY event that evening. Alyssa headed to the stage for driver introductions, while Chase stood by her car waiting for her. He had done solidly in qualifying, set to start sixth the next night.

Though he was more focused at this point on Alyssa’s night. With her struggles and disappointment thus far during the day, he hoped that the race worked out in her favor.

“Knowing my son like I do, you already have something worked out for Sunday, right?” he hears and smiles as he glances at his mom, giving her a simple shake of the head yes. It seemed all that everyone wanted to discuss with him was his plans for Alyssa’s birthday.

“The day is all planned out, along with her gift,” he states as Cindy looks at him intrigued.

“Can a mother know what the gift is?” He shrugs his shoulders as he thinks it over. It wasn’t something that he had to keep secret as it wasn’t dirty, but he didn’t want to share details either.

“You’ll find out once she has the gift. I don’t want to tell anybody before hand.” Cindy shakes her head, understanding. She trusted her son’s judgment.

“I hope she loves it, but I have a feeling that she will. You probably also have a special day planned, too.” Chase shakes his head yes, still crossing his fingers that everything went as planned.

“As long as the morning goes well and she listens to her dad, it should work out great.” Cindy smiles as she knew there wouldn’t be any issues about Alyssa listening to her father, in being a daddy’s girl.

“It’ll be fine. Just relax and enjoy it, okay?” He smiles as he watches her head down their way.

“As long as she has a good night on track tonight, that’s all that matters right now.”

While the pair united on pit road, shared a couple of laughs before hanging out the car as she did a couple interviews, a pair of eyes glanced over their way, thinking.

“You’re watching them….” Ella comments out loud, catching her little brother’s attention. “I can tell by your eyes. Are you still missing her?” Leo glances down as he thinks it over. It was hard to explain as it wasn’t the typical feelings that you have after a break-up.

“There’s a small part of me that is still heartbroken, but also part of me that is relieved,” he tries to explain. “It just wasn’t working out how either of us thought it would or wanted. Its better that we did things like we did rather than tried to keep it going and ended up hurting each other worse in the end. I’m also glad that she’s happy and has that connection with Chase. I also know that it’ll come eventually for me.” Ella smiles a little as she glances down towards the pair. She had been on the fence originally about their relationship, but it seemed that Chase and Alyssa went together just like peanut butter and jelly.

“So why are you glancing down at them watching?” Leo takes a deep breath as he thinks it over. It was easy to tell in his mind why he was thinking about her as he couldn’t get their recent conversation out of his mind.

“We had a recent conversation together. She wanted to know why we hadn’t been having those friendly moments together, like friends, like we agreed. I told her that it’s tough right now as I’m still heartbroken a little. I told her that it may get better in time.” He takes another glance down at her before looking at his sister. “I’m debating whether right now is the right time, or whether I should wait.”

“You don’t want to do it too soon and make it hurt worse for yourself. You also don’t want to try to push it incase some part of you is saying that it’ll turn into rekindling the magic once again. Therefore, you should wait until the time is absolutely right. Take another couple of weeks and make sure you’re absolutely comfortable.” Leo shakes his head, knowing that his sister was probably right.

The race that night turned out to be one of those barn-burner events that saw everybody on the edge of their seats, watching the battle in the final 20 laps between Alyssa, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano.

Alyssa entered the final lap running in the second spot behind Joey, having the faster car. It was just about finding the quicker line to get by him. They both took the same line through turns one and two, which allowed her to close the gap down the backstretch.

The pair went into the three and four – Joey taking the bottom, Alyssa taking the top. As they came up off of the corner, Joey came up across her bottom, but she quickly turned the car dead left, going underneath him.

It was a drag race right to the checkered flag, with Alyssa edging him out by a mere purple bumper to snag her third victory of the season.

The team immediately headed to victory lane, with Alyssa joining them after doing a burn-out on the front stretch. She would climb out of the car, arms pumped in the air, with confetti and all sorts of beverages flying every direction on to her.

She then climbed down, big smile on her face, as Chase reached her first, immediately wrapping his arms around her and giving her a kiss.

“That’s how you come back after struggling all day!” He lets out afterwards. “I told you that you had nothing to worry about.” She could only smile in return.

“I guess you were right after all as that car was so fast, I couldn’t believe it,” she offers in response. She then grabs one of the cowboy hats, slipping it on her head. “Looks like you get a little cowgirl to celebrate with tonight.”

“That look fits you, actually.”  He then lets her go as she does her series of post-race interviews for TV and radio. However, he made sure to be right by her side as she went through the motions of the photos on stage afterwards. They also included their favourite usual final photo, as he stood behind her, arms wrapped around her, putting his head on her shoulder. After the photographers were done, Chase pulled out his phone to take a selfie. “I think this is the cutest one to date.”

“That’s what you say every time.” Chase smiles as he goes through, making it his background.

“I absolutely mean it this time, though. You make one very cute cowgirl.” She simply smiles as she twirls around before leaning in for another kiss.

“I guess that means you have to win tomorrow night to match me.” Chase grins as he already had that plan in mind. Texas had treated him well plenty of times in the past, and he wasn’t about to change his ways this year.

“Are you guys done being all flirty so we can go to the Waffle House together?” Ryan questions, catching their attention. The pair smiles as they see Ryan and Karsyn standing there together.

“Are you guys to finally admit that you look cute together and I was right playing cupid?” Chase asks as Ryan just smiles, placing a kiss on Karsyn’s cheek. “Yep, totally adorable.”

“Not as adorable as you though,” Alyssa states. “Are you going to let me get changed first, though?” Ryan thinks it over, shaking his head no as Karsyn and Chase look at him surprised. “Well this’ll be an odd trip to the waffle house.”

“It wouldn’t be the first though.” She shakes her head in agreement.

“You got five minutes girly – no less, no more,” Karsyn agrees as they head back to the motorcoach lot. “Considering that we’re buying since you won, I suggest you agree to those terms.”

“We’ll be ready,” Chase tells her as they split, heading into their motorcoach. Alyssa makes her way to the back, quickly changing, before returning in a t-shirt and jeans. “You’re missing something.” He then places the hat back on her head with a smile.

“Let me guess – I have to wear this hat for the rest of the weekend?” Alyssa asks and Chase simply smiles and shakes his head yes.

“It makes you look so much cuter than you already are.” She then rolls her eyes as the pair head out, meeting up with Ryan and Karsyn.

The night out turned into a fun night, with laughs and jokes as always. As they got done, Chase made a quick trip to the washroom while Karsyn agreed to pay the bill. That left Ryan and Alyssa heading outside first together.

“That move you pulled on Joey was awesome,” Ryan compliments her as she looks over with a smile.

“They always say that you should go where they ain’t and that’s what I did,” she tells him as she thinks over the advice that Cameron gave her. “Can I ask you som-”

“I’m not divulge a single detail about your birthday, not that I know anything.” A smirk forms on her face as she could see right through that. There were obviously plans in place for her birthday from her dad and Chase, and Ryan knew about them.

“Not even a single clue since I kicked your ass tonight?” Ryan laughs and shakes his head no.

“If anything, you should’ve let me win so you could get a clue.” She then looks at him surprised.

“Hell no!” He then laughs as he keeps his eyes on her.

“I’m not telling you, sorry. You’re going to just have to wait and see, but I can promise that you’ll enjoy yourself.” She smiles as she knew that he was right.

Her dad and Chase hadn’t ever steered her in the wrong direction before.

Chasing The Love – Chapter 106: Weekly Gossip

Ryan simply sits back on the couch with a smile, as he glances over at Chase.

The pair had met up mid-week, as per usual doings, to spend some time chatting and playing video games. It seemed with them everything under the sun came up during discussions, ranging from Chase’s feelings on a range of issues, to Ryan’s thoughts on the past weekend.

For them both, this was a mid-week meeting that had an easy topic to discuss following the victory lane visit.

“I thought I’d go congratulate her – just a friend, you know?” Ryan starts, after Chase had asked for details surrounding his reasons for visiting Karsyn in victory lane. “I’ve done it before so why would this be different?” Ryan then smirks as he remembered the words slipping out of his mouth. “I don’t know what happened to me when I reached victory lane, man. Everything that I’d be afraid of normally went away and I came out with the most classic line ever. ‘Maybe I’m your good luck charm’.” Chase then looks over, surprised, as he pauses the game.

“Seriously?” He questions and Ryan shakes his head yes. Chase then holds up his hand for a high-five, in which Ryan returns. “Damn boy, you finally got game. Darrell never thought this day would happen. I’m so proud of you for finally growing up some.” Ryan rolls his eyes as he unpauses the game.

“Hey now, that game can work sometimes. There are girls who like the shy, quiet boy.” Chase then realizes the game is unpaused just as his car goes crashing into a wall. Chase then looks over at Ryan, surprised.

“That was uncalled for, no matter who you are.” Ryan shrugs his shoulders as his victorious accomplishment comes up on the screen.

“You didn’t state any rules against it. All is fai-”

“I could care less about the game. Tell me what happened!” Ryan then chuckles as the desperation in Chase’s voice.

“Sounds like you’re pretty mad based on that tone, and you sound like a high school girl. Alyssa’s friends rubbing off on you?” Chase rolls his eyes as he’d rather not think about her friends. All he could picture was the nightmare of the previous and forms of betrayal.

“I’m just curious to see what’s got you in an extra good mood this week. You’re never this happy when you finish a lap down.” Ryan knew that Chase was right in that sentiment, but he couldn’t explain it. It seemed that Karsyn already that special effect on him without even trying.”

“She replied that maybe I am, and that she may have to return the favor next weekend.” Chase’s jaw drops in shock once again.

“She told you that she wanted to keep it slow till she talked with Cole about things, but yet gives you that type of line? That’s got to be the worst tease, or the easiest admission that she had fallen straight down for you with the Cole thing being a deterrent due to not wanting to admit it.” Ryan shakes his head in agreement, recalling his feelings of confusion when she mentioned the line. He thought that she was giving him best wishes to win the following weekend, or a vote of confidence after his day. He never thought it meant what it turned into.

“I asked her what she meant, because like you, I was confused. She then suggested that we could possibly hang out this weekend.” Chase immediately starts smiling, knowing what that meant without any regard. Perhaps he could have a second career as Cupid after he was done racing, after all. Maybe he could even team up with Hayley. “I then asked her about what she said on Friday, and she told me, ‘Can I honestly deny someone when they make me smile as much as you are?’.”

“Dude, that’s perfect flirting 101 – line, hook and sinker. Perhaps your sweetness is the perfect play in the book, despite Bubba’s comments on your lack of game. Regardless, I’m glad that you guys have found this common ground. It’s actually adorable and sweet. You deserve someone that makes you happy.” Ryan couldn’t deny those comments, as they summed up his conversation with Karsyn perfectly, and Chase was right – she made him happy.

“So we’re going to work out the details this week and figure something for either Friday night. Maybe we’re going to sit and watch your girlfriend kick ass.”  Chase chuckles as he was hoping to see the same thing. He watched her do well at Texas before, so he hoped transitioning to XFINITY would be no different. Besides, he won there in his rookie year, and that was the sight of her dad’s first XFINITY and first Sprint Cup wins. It’d be the family perfect story to make it happen.

“I hope that she can do exactly that because it’d be a pretty neat stat to have.” Ryan froze at the comment. “Her dad’s first win, my first win, her….well, second win but a win as a rookie there. Besides, it’d also be a great start to a birthday weekend.”

“Do you have everything worked out for Sunday?” Chase shakes his head yes, remembering the conversations with his accomplice and working out gift ideas. “Wait – you finally decided on a gift?”

“I have narrowed it down to about three ideas. I’m picking it up for sure before we head out to Texas.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“So, what are your plans for your birthday on Sunday?” Keira wonders as Alyssa shrugs her shoulders. With everything else going on, she hadn’t put any focus into making any plans at all. “You forget about your own birthday?”

“I’ve been busy with racing and school and Chase and other things…” Alyssa lets her voice trail off as Keira could only sympathize with her friend. She knew it was a busy schedule.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have jum-”

“No no, it’s okay.” Alyssa then leans back against her locker.

“Really, I thought of asking my parents to throw a party. But, the issues with Kassie, I don’t know who I could honestly trust in attending from school, and I don’t just want it to be race track friends.” Keira shakes her head, understanding. She wouldn’t have a problem with that, being someone who loved being at the track, but knew others may.

“When are you coming back from Texas?” Alyssa gives her a friend a surprised glance as Keira rolls her eyes. “Okay, that was a dumb question. Obviously you’re staying for the race on Saturday. Maybe Prince Charming will win so you can have some birthday fu-”

“Keira!” Keira then puts her hands up defensively.

“Just suggesting.” Alyssa shakes her head no, though, remembering the discussion of first times. “Don’t worry, no pressure. I’m not saying that you have to or should or anything. It just slipped. But, it could work in your favor. Knowing that Georgia boy, I bet he is planning something for your birthday. So I will be sure to see you next Monday with present in hand and hear all the details.” Alyssa shrugs her shoulders as they hear the bell ring.

They then head in their separate directions for class, as Alyssa thinks over Keira’s comments. She wondered if perhaps Chase was actually planning something, or whether she’d be having a boring birthday. Given that Chase was just as busy as her, it didn’t seem feasible that he could plan something.

“Hey,” she hears as she watches Leo catch up with her. She glances over with a smile. “I came looking for you post-race but you weren’t there.”

“Sorry – I was taking a quick shower,” she offers. “Chase told me that you stopped by. I meant to call you when we got home, but I got busy. Let’s just say that I forgot about the assignment that Ms. Holden assigned us for the break.” Leo chuckles as he could picture that easily happening, knowing that he probably would’ve as well if it wasn’t for his mother’s constant reminders.

“If it wasn’t for my mother, I probably would’ve done the same. Did you get it done?” Alyssa shakes her head yes, holding up the book report with a smile. They were supposed to write a report based on the book that they had been reading that semester to that point. “Well done.”

“So what did you want to talk about?” Leo takes a deep breath, suddenly growing nervous. Why wasn’t this as easy to talk as they used to be able to?

“I got your message about trying to remain friends and the agreement that we had when we broke up, and I wanted to address it with you.” Leo then stops midway through the hall, catching Alyssa’s attention as she look back at him. “Look, I think you’re an amazing girl. I also think that we have a great friendship regardless, always have. But right now, it stings a little too much with the break-up and seeing you with Chase. I’m still working my way through this. I just feel some space at this time would be warranted. But, maybe one day we can get back to that friendship.”

“That’s fine and perfectly understandable. I appreciate you explaining how you felt to me. Oh, and by the way, I’m sorry…” Leo shakes his head no as they continue down the hallway together, Alyssa lagging a little behind him.

“Don’t ever be sorry. At least you were honest with me, rather than dragging me along n the relationship with feeling that we should be apart. Don’t ever be sorry for falling in love with the guy that is truly meant to be yours. I’ll find my girl one day and have that balance that you have. There’s no need to apologize as while I said it’s hard and stings, I’m happy for you, and I’m happy we didn’t make a disaster of our break-up.” The pair then enter the classroom, placing their reports on the teacher’s desk before taking their seats, which happened to be just a couple apart.

Alyssa found herself glancing over at Leo a couple times during the class, a bit of sadness forming. Despite his pleads with her to not be sorry, she couldn’t help it as it always hurt to see a friend in pain. She knew she had done the right thing. Things just weren’t working there, and things with Chase were truly unbelievable at this point. However, she couldn’t help but ponder the current situation that they found themselves in as a result.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 43: Daytona 500

ShortTrackLovin'

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Welp…..the Daytona 500 wasn’t a memorable experience for Chase, and that just sucked. There’s a reason why grass doesn’t belong at a race track. But hey, we’re past that right? He had a great run at Atlanta and I have that forth coming for here, as well. But first, we have the biggest race of the year.

 

The previous days of the weekend had played out like a routine of events, one after the other, with repetition written over them. It was just going through the motions, focusing on the task at hand. He got a celebration mode mixed in, via winning the XFINITY race, which was nice to have. Considering how things had been lately with the plane crash and all mixed together, a reason to smile was huge.

Though now, standing in the hauler facing the same mirror that he had become familiar too, today was a totally different day. It wasn’t just another race day, but rather his first career Daytona 500. This was the moment as he had reached the big time. The realization in what was set for this season, that he was making his dreams come true, that he was taking over the famed No. 24 car – it all hit home that morning as he stood there.

While others would be worried of expectations, it brought a smile to his face as he reflected back on everything that he had accomplished through his career to that point. All the hard work and dedication put in through the years was paying off now. He just needed to go out there and do a good job that day.

“Facing some disbelief?” He hears as he watches the hauler door open, glancing over towards his father with a smile.

“It’s really starting to hit what’s about to happen this year,” he sounds off as he glances back at the mirror. “I’m really going to race in the Sprint Cup Series. Everything is coming together crazier than I could’ve dreamed. I’m shocked, but I’m also proud.” Bill couldn’t help but smile in hearing his son’s comments as he made his way over.

“I bet you there’s some nerves there, too.” Chase wanted to shakes his head no and pretend as if that wasn’t the case, but standing there and realizing that he’d be leading the 40-car field to the green flag, there was no way to escape all of the nerves.

“I don’t want to mess up and let everyone down. I don’t want to let myself down. I’m just worried about making a mistake or not making the right move at the right time.” Bill places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“You’re a rookie. You’re going to make mistakes. It’s all about learning and moving forward. But, you don’t need to be worried. You did a great job yesterday in the draft – actually, spectacular job – and you’ve gotten better with each practice. I believe in you, the team believes in you, Rick believes in you. You just need to believe in yourself.” Chase shakes his head, knowing that his father was right.

Following the discussion, he made his way out to pit road, set for the raceday. He wished that he could just hop in the car, let the butterflies immediately escape his body, and focus on the task at hand. However, that wasn’t the case. There were driver introductions, interviews, and VIPs waiting by the car to see him. He just hoped that everything went smoothly, and quickly.

For the most part, everything followed his direction as the interviews went easier than he had anticipated, and driver introductions was actually sort of fun. Before he knew it, he found himself standing on the grid by his No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, counting down the minutes to the start of the Daytona 500. As he stood there thinking, it was all about following the same theory as the day before – make the right moves, and it’ll be an easy day in staying up near the front.

He is snapped out of his thoughts, though, as he notices a pair of familiar faces interacting with the crew guys, joking around and sharing conversation. He could think how odd it probably was for Ella and Leo to be standing on the grid for the first time with their daddy not set to his famed car, but rather Chase drive it.

“Are you going to take care of the car?” He hears, his attention immediately locked on a familiar set of eyes.

“I’m going to do my best to stay out of trouble,” he tells Ella with a smile as he kneels down to her level. She smiles as she walks over to him.

“I think you will do real good and win.” He smiles in response, all the nerves that he felt before escaping immediately. There was nothing more comforting than spending time with sweet children.
“I hope. We’ll have to see what happens, okay?” She shakes her head yes. Chase then glances a little towards the right, noticing Leo standing there, quietly. “Leo…” Leo looks up from his spot, eyes locking on Chase. “Can I have a high-five?” Leo thinks about it, before a big smile forms on his face and he gives Chase a high-five. “Thank you.”

The rest of pre-race went smoothly, with opening ceremonies going as they normally would. Chase stood by the car, an arm wrapped around Sarina’s waist holding her close. It felt nice to have someone to share pit road with pre-race. It felt nice to have someone that he could share every detail of his life with. It felt nice to totally open up without any reservations.

“I love you,” he tells her, giving her a hug following the national anthem.

“I love you too,” she simply tells him before walking away slowly. He then gives each of his parents a hug, before climbing in the car. It was time to do what he was supposed to do.

The race started off great as he was able to lead the first couple of laps, before being passed by his teammate. Still, though, he was able to remain near the front of the field, holding his own. Though, as the same with the Duel, he got in the wrong lane and found himself sliding back to the pack. It was okay. It was part of Daytona. He just needed to work his way back up there.

Consulting with his spotter in what lines were moving, he made the decision to go up through the middle, figuring that he could begin his charge as others had done before him.

Then it happened.

The car felt light, twitched sideways too quickly to catch and went sliding down off of the track. He kept his hands firmly on the steering wheel, knowing that he could steer himself away from the inside wall, go for a slide and be fine.

That didn’t happen accordingly, though. The car ended up hooking, shooting into the infield grass, launching the front off of the ground as it dug in, before landing. The force of hitting the grass caused a pain to shoot up his left side immediately, as he lost his breath in the process.

Sitting in the car once it had come to stop, he closes his eyes, focusing on the breathing techniques that he was taught while his ribs worked at healing, while hoping that the pain would die down fast. He could already see himself sitting in a hospital room, finding out that things were worse than expected, and everybody playing worrywart over his condition and running the race.

“Chase?” He hears Eddie D’Hondt on the radio after a couple seconds. He moves his hand to the button on the steering wheel, pressing it to cue the radio.

“I’m okay,” he assures the team. “I’m okay…”

The pair of simple words gave a sense of relief on the pit box as Sarina let out the breath that she had been holding. As soon as the car hit the grass, she found herself turned into instant worry mode, panicking over his condition. What if he had hurt himself worse? What if the rib injury had made things worse? What if having the concussion after the plane crash presented issues here? It seemed that every theory possible flooded through her mind.

“Can I meet go him at the care center?” She asks with curiosity. She hadn’t been to a race as a girlfriend so she didn’t know procedure, except driers went to the care center to be checked out following a wreck. She could already see it taking time based on Chase’s condition.

“Of course you may,” Alan tells her as he takes his headset off, focus on the young lady sitting beside him. He could see the worry that she felt, and echoed those sentiments as he had his opinions on Chase’s condition entering the weekend already. “I can go with you and lead you there, if you want.” She shakes her head slowly, as Alan glances over at the car chief, who simply shakes his head in response. They knew the deal – start working on making repairs so they could go out and make laps.

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

“Go on…” Alan tells her as they reach the room. She goes around the corner, walking up to Chase and wrapping both arms around him. “She was worried.”

“I’m okay,” he says as he wraps his arms around her, kissing her forehead. He then lets her go, forcing her to look at him in the eyes. “I’m okay. You don’t have anything to worry about.” She shook her head no immediately, knowing otherwise.

“What about your ribs?” He then takes a deep breath, feeling the pain that still remained. He had been worried himself till talking with the doctor.

“Everything is still the same as it was before. It just sent a shock through my system that was emphasized by the injury, causing a lot of pain. However, the doctor says checking me out that everything is still as it was before. I’m okay, Sarina.” She shakes her head, letting those words shake in as the worry slowly escaped.

“I feel so bad for overworrying and freaking an-”

“It’s a natural reaction,” Alan cuts her rambling off from his corner in the small room. “You were worried about him because you care a lot about him. Whether you children want to admit it or not, she loves you a lot and would do anything for you.” Chase had felt that same feeling a couple days prior in their discussion. However, hearing confirmation from his crew chief, it made him feel even better.

“I have no problem with that because I love her a lot, and I would do anything for her in return,” Chase shares, before leaning in and kissing Sarina’s lips. “It’s just convincing this girl to admit it out loud just how much she loves me.” Sarina could only smile in response as she shrugged her shoulders. It was hard to open up and feel that way again. It was hard knowing the pain when those doors were shattered previously. Though, slowly, Chase was leaving her no choice but to accept and open up.

“I guess maybe I do love you a little more than I thought,” she comments as Chase could only smile, despite the pain that he was feeling. There was no amount of pain that could possibly wipe the smile off in hearing those words, even if his precious car was tore up.

Though, the smile did slowly fade away as he found himself thinking more than he probably should be at that moment. He wanted to be happy. He wanted to feel the moment and stick with it. However, he couldn’t stop himself from reflecting back to what happened just a couple weeks prior to them both. What if the plane hadn’t landed like it did? What if they were injured worse? What if…..

Taking a deep breath, giving his head a shake, he knew that he couldn’t let that thought ponder his mind. He just had to keep reminding himself how thankful he was that they had come out decently, and hope to hear news on the sabotager soon.

“Oh, Kendall texted me during the early stages race by the way,” Sabrina starts, catching Chase’s immediate attention as he knew that as she was referring to Kendall Taylor, the FBI agent that was handling their case. “She says that checking all the databases and spreading that photo around of the guy, they were able to identify him. They say that his name is Harry Butler. She was wondering if we’d ever heard of him.” Chase continues to run the name through his brain, trying to place him somewhere, eventually shaking his head no.

“It doesn’t sound familiar to me,” he offers as she shakes her head, accepting. “Do you know a Harry Butler, or any Butler actually?” Sabrina shakes her head no.

“I’ll text Kendall back and tell her that you don’t know of the name. She said that she was going to cross reference it with past gang contacts and NASCAR resources to see if something pops up.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. It seemed like the reasonable next step.

At least they were growing closer to knowing the story behind what happened, through how it was accomplished and why it was done. He just hoped that the answers were released soon.

Chasing The Love – Chapter 105: Martinsville

Sunday

 

Alyssa lets out a sigh as she sits at the kitchen table eating breakfast that morning.

With Chase having a really early appearance and the fact she wanted to sleep in, she chose to sleep through the morning and had made her way over to her parents for breakfast. It was always nice when her parents would welcome her in for breakfast with them without any questions or issues.

It was even more important on days like this where her mind was clouded with thoughts. She knew that she had to make up her mind soon as to what she was doing in May with regards to prom. It seemed that her friends wouldn’t stop bugging her in asking whether she’d be attending.

Everybody said it was the not miss event of high school, and that’d she regret going years later. Besides, she could have fun with her friends, even if her date wasn’t there. However, she wondered just much fun she would have, and whether going to Kansas with Chase would be more fun.

“Something is on your mind, right?” She hears after a couple minutes of silence, glancing up at her mom with a sigh, shaking her head yes. “This was supposed to be your fun relaxing weekend. You had no school all week, and no race to worry about. Why do you look stressed?”

“To go to prom or to not go to prom,” she answers as Marie smiles, having understood the inner battle that her daughter faced. She’d rather prefer that Alyssa not go to prom since she wouldn’t be in town anyway with being in Kansas for the race. She also knew that there was another plan coming together of sorts, and was waiting for Chase to come out and ask her. He had shared with both Marie and Dale that he was saving that for a special time.

“If it’s causing you so much stress, then why don’t you forego going? You can always get together with friends and have a house party of sorts, only inviting those that you’re close with. You also know that while you’re trying to have fun that you’ll be wondering how both your dad and Chase are making out.” Alyssa chuckles, knowing that her mother was probably right in that. She remembered when she went on a school trip and how she loaded a live stream of the race on her phone because she couldn’t find a way to concentrate on the sights that she was supposed to be taking in.

“But what about all those that say going to prom is something that you’ll regret?” Marie shrugs her shoulders. She had heard many people say that, and didn’t have to face the issue herself as she was able to attend hers.

“Your boyfriend didn’t go to his prom. Do you see him complaining?” Alyssa shakes her head no. Chase had a good reason to not complain, given that he won at Darlington that night. “Listen, I’m just giving you the best situation to kill your stress. Being stressed is no good as you already have enough on your plate.”

“I know, and I appreciate the advice. I think I’m going to skip it and go to Kansas. I wouldn’t want to miss a special night if someone was able to walk down the yellow brick road.” Marie smiles at the reference, shaking her head understandingly.

The rest of the day went smoothly and it was soon race time. For Alyssa, it felt odd being at a race track without being part of any of the racing action through the weekend. Though, as she stood on pit road pre-race with Chase, there were no complaints.

She just hoped that the race had gone better.

She chose to sit on his pit box and through the first half of the race, she had hopeful thoughts that the race would end with a celebration as Chase was quick, and solidly ran inside of the top-five.

Though as the race neared the final 50 laps, that was thrown out of the window as Brad Keselowski would drive too hard into the corner, getting into Chase, causing the pair of them to wreck, collecting a couple others in the process. The frustration was evident post-race for Chase and the team, knowing that Brad’s ill-timed move had cost them the race.

“Typical Brad,” Chase comments. “It isn’t the first time that he does something like this.”

As the crew loaded the car, Chase leaned against the pit box arms crossed, watching. Frustration was just the beginning of what he was feeling and there was part of him that wanted to walk down and tell Brad what he thought of him.

“You’d think he would’ve changed over the years,” Chase hears as he glances over his shoulder and sees Leo standing there. He shakes his head in agreement.

“Maturity is something that he hasn’t found,” Chase offers in response. He had watched Brad through the years and his altercations, even getting involved in some of them himself. This wasn’t a surprise by any stretch.

“Is Alyssa around?” Chase looks over at Leo once again, this time with his eyebrows raised in curiosity. “She messaged me the other day about the possibility of still being friends as we said, and wondering why I was quiet. I wanted to talk to her face-to-face, rather than texting her.”

“She is watching the race from pit road, sitting with her mom. I can tell her that you stopped by and wanted to see her, if you would like.” Leo shakes his head, accepting that. It would at least show that he made an effort, better than anything thus far. “Consider it done.”

The race didn’t take too much longer to finish after Chase’s incident, and it ended with a finish that left the fans cheering and watching on in surprise as Karsyn would edge Ella by a bumper at the line to score the victory.

The victory was followed by a celebration in victory lane with Karsyn and her team, and included a visit from a familiar face.

“Maybe I’m your good luck charm,” Ryan states as he walks into victory lane, catching Karsyn’s attention. She then smiles as she walks over to him, giving him a hug.

“Maybe you are,” Karsyn replies with a smile on her face. She knew that she ran well when she was in a good mood, and she found herself smiling a lot since spending time with Ryan the night before. While she was fully open to giving both Ryan and Cole chances before, she found the door slowly changing and leaning more towards Ryan. “Maybe I’ll have to return the favor for you next weekend.”

“What are you saying by that?” Karsyn smiles as she pulls Ryan back close, so she can whisper the next words in his ear. She didn’t want everybody knowing quite yet.

“Maybe we can hang out before the race once again.” Ryan backs up and looks at her with a look of surprise.

“What about everything that you told me after Friday?” She shrugs her shoulders as the reoccurring smile widens.

“Can I honestly deny someone when they make me smile as much as you are?” He smiles back in return.

“It’s a date….if you want to call it that. We’ll text each other and work out the details?” She shakes her head yes. “Congratulations on the win. That was a great finish.”

“I didn’t think I was going to get her there. She was tough to beat.” Ryan smiles, shaking his head in agreement as he saw in practice that Ella was going to be strong.

“There’s no secrets as to where she got her knack for Martinsville from, though.” Karsyn smiles and shakes her head in agreement. “Although, I think it’s also obvious to see where your talent comes from, too.”

Meanwhile elsewhere, Chase was headed back to meet up with Alyssa and head home, set to put this race in the rearview as soon as possible.

“You know, if you’re looking for a real girl, I can offer you what you’re looking for once again,” he hears and glances towards the direction of the voice. He immediately rolls his eyes as he sees Emma Vitty leaning against a fence wearing a low-cut tank top and short daisy duke shorts.

“I have a girlfriend,” Chase states as he continues walking in his intended direction. He then hears the familiar sound of high heels behind him, knowing that she’s following.

“Right, you have a school girl that needs to be taken care of and babysat, whereas I’m a grown woman and can meet your other needs.” Chase then looks back at her.

“Not interested. Besides, I thought you had a crew member or two picked out to take to bed already.” He then kept walking, growing more and more annoyed, wishing that he’d reach his direction sooner.

“Well, that’s all fine and dandy. I’ll just be sure to call up Demi and see if she’s available to come see you.” Chase then froze upon hearing the name, spinning around immediately. “What’s wrong, Chase? Didn’t think I’d rea-”

“Do not ever mention her name again. Do not even think of trying to get a hold of her. If she comes near me, she knows the consequences, and I will make sure that you suffer the same as her accomplice. The whole garage is sick of your games. Do us all a favor and don’t show your face in the garage area again. Furthermore, leave me alone.”

He then continues his walk back to his awaiting ride from Alyssa, making a mental note to talk to his team officials and NASCAR about Emma’s allowance in the garage. It seemed that she was just there to cause trouble by his standards. How did she even have a hard card?

Emma could only stand there and smile after seeing the reaction from Chase, as she thought about ideas for the future. She then got out her phone, going into her contacts as she dialed a familiar number.

“Why the hell isn’t that article published already?” She questioned, in reference to the thoughts from Leo previously. “Furthermore, I think I have something to add that may push you over the edge and get it out there sooner.”

Chasing The Love – Chapter 93: California

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Sunday

 

Following the discussion with Karsyn, Marshall knew what he needed to do. He knew that there’d be anger, possibly punches and tears, but it was better that everyone knew the truth. Also, knowing that the people he needed to talk to wouldn’t listen solely to him, he continued to invest in having Karsyn help him out.

 

After debating whom they needed to see first, the pair settled on seeing Leo as it had been his confessions laid on the table that could possibly be spread by the plan that Emma Vitty had up her sleeve.

 

Following the driver’s meeting, Karsyn pulled Leo aside and got him to agree to hear out what Marshall had to share. It was at that time that Marshall explained everything, just like he had the night before with Karsyn. Leo could only sit there and shake his head in disbelief.

 

“And to think I trusted her and thought that she was a good friend and confident,” Leo comments once Marshall was finished with his explaination.

 

“I’m sorry that this is happening,” Marshall apologizes once again as Leo glances up from his spot.

 

“It’s not your fault that she’s the way she is, right? It’s just my fault that I didn’t listen to all the warning signs that were there. Everybody had their comments while she was with Chase before. Why didn’t I listen?” Karsyn knew the answer to that question without hesistation, knowing where the young man’s thoughts lied following the events that had transpired already that year.

 

“Your break-up, and thoughts on Alyssa probably clouded your judgment in listening to what was being said,” Karsyn offers. “Regardless, at least we know now and we’re on top of things. We’ve also told Chase and Alyssa what happened. Neither of them are mad at you as they understand things from your perspective. They’re also prepared to handle things head on, as Marshall has said he is.” Leo shakes his head, understanding. It was reassuring to hear that Chase and Alyssa weren’t angry, and he trusted that Karsyn was telling the truth about that. Despite things currently being rocky, he wanted to go with what they were saying in having a friendship together, at some point.

 

“They haven’t spread anything yet as you said,” Leo starts. “How likely is it that this will get spread?” Karsyn and Marshall both shrugged their shoulders, unsure themselves as neither had been in the situation personally. Though Karsyn had watched these things from the sidelines, with regards to her uncle and others, and felt confident that the discussion wasn’t necessarily needed as nothing would probably happen. However, she had forced Marshall into it as clearing the air was certainly a step in showing his commitment to change.

 

“I don’t think it’ll be a problem, Leo, as normally things come out sooner than this is appearing to bring forth. With that said, though, you don’t have to worry if something comes out as it’ll get handled quickly. We got your back.” He gave them both a smile in return, hoping that it was reassuring enough, but in the back of his mind had a bit of worry over everything. What if Alyssa inquired to learn about what he said? What if his comments were spread for the world? What if…..That’s all he could ask himself.

 

So much for having a smooth year as a rookie points leader.

 

His focus couldn’t rely on that much longer, though, as the raceday was shifted into high gear. He wasn’t racing himself, but Leo wanted to take the time to take in the action and learn what he could. Speaking with his father and others, they always told him that you can learn about from watching others. After just missing the top-10 in the XFINITY event the day before, he wanted to focus on that day’s Cup race to see if he could learn something to do better next time.

 

The race, though, gave Leo a perfect reminder of some of the tings that eh wanted to avoid as it turned into one of those snooze fest events with a single driver learning about ¾ of the laps, and barely any passes.

 

The way the race played out may not had been exciting to watch for Leo and others, but that wasn’t a complaint that Chase shared. The snooze fest had worked in his favor, as he had been the one dominating at the front of the field, all the way to scoring his second victory of the season.

 

With Alyssa winning the day before, it was just like Atlanta when the pair swept the weekend with trips to victory lane. Just like that weekend earlier in the year, this weekend was met by more kisses in victory lane and photos taken together.

 

“I could get used to this,” Chase comments as he wraps his arms around her. “You keep winning races, okay?” She then smiles as she leans in and snags a kiss on his lips.

 

“I’ll do my best, but you do realize that I’m just a rookie?” She reminds him as he smiles, brushing a bit of hair out of her eyes.

 

“I know that you’re just a rookie, but you’re a remarkable driver and look like a veteran out there. I think you’re going to continue to set the bar high this year and surprise a lot of people with possibly some broken records. I hate my records being broken, but I guess I can handle it if you’re the person behind it.” She then smiles for one last photo on her phone, making her background before looking back at him.

 

“Just think – we both got a win, and now we get to spend the whole week together without any interruptions from my school schedule as it’s SPRING BREAK!” Chase shakes his head in response as he continues to look in her eyes. He was looking forward to their time together. He wasn’t absolutely looking forward to the plan that they had in mind for that week together in having some ‘confession’ time. Was he truly ready for this?

 

“I can’t wait to spend this time with you.” She shakes her head as she notices the change in his demeanor. She then grabs his hand, intertwining her fingers with his.

 

“I know that we also have this planned as confession week, as well. I can tell by your change in attitude that it’s going to be tough to talk about and do that. If you’re not ready, we can hold off till another time. I don’t mind.” He shakes his head no as he wanted to do this. They needed to do this to help her with things.

 

“We agreed to do this to help you with how thin-”

 

“Things are improving for me, slowly. I’m sleeping better and the strategies in changing the direction of the dream and focusing on other things are working. Besides, I can share what I want to share with you about things without needing to hear what you have to share, if you’re not ready. I don’t mind doing that if it makes you feel more comfortable. I love you. I don’t want to do something to push you the wrong way or hurt you.” Thinking through all their times together, it felt weird to be having a discussion of this nature, but it needed to happen if they were set to be a couple in the time moving forward.

 

“Alyssa, you could never push me away or hurt me in some way that would cause us to fall apart. I love you too much.” He then takes a deep breath, knowing that he needed to do this. “As much as it’s going to be tough and it may hurt, I’m ready to tell you everything. I’m ready to sit down and go through all that you want to know from what happened, right from the beginning with Mariella to Randy and Demi. It hurt then. There are still parts that sting at times. But they don’t control me, nor do they hurt me any longer. For that reason, I’m not letting them hold me back from this time with you.”

 

Chase and Alyssa weren’t the only ones that knew of the plan of confession week, as the parents were also made aware of the fact.

 

It was talked about through Alyssa’s doctor/psychological notes as she had shared it with both in showing the steps that she was taking, while also telling her parents. It was no surprise when she shared the details as Alyssa had always been the type to tell her parents everything and be as open as possible with them. It always came back to how close the relationship was with them all.

 

“Are you sure that it’s a good idea for Chase and Alyssa to do this?” Marie questions Dale later that night as they lay in bed together once getting home from the track. He glances over at her and shakes his head yes.

 

“If they’re going to be together, they have to understand where each other stands,” he starts. “The past affects all of us in how we handle and do things, out of our fears and that pain that we went through. It’s going to affect Chase in how he decides to go about the relationship. For that reason, he wants to give her that information so she understands where he stands. Beyond that, it shows a boundary of trust in being able to share everything. If you’re going to have a good relationship, there needs to be that level of trust.” Marie knew that Dale was right in his words, but still wasn’t certain in the next step taken.

 

“Can I complain then that our baby girl is growing up too fast?” Dale laughs as he shakes his head in agreement. It was something that was tough to come to grips with as he could only think of all the times through the years as she grew up.

 

“She’s going to be a high school graduate in two months. She’s going to be 19 years old next month. Whether we like it or not, it’s happening before our eyes. We need to either accept it or live the rest of our lives in denial. I didn’t think she’d be moved out this early, but at least she’s with someone close and someone that we can trust.” Marie shakes her head in agreement as it felt nice to know that she was just across a small stretch of property should they want her.

 

“I can’t believe I scolded her for getting with Chase at first.”

 

“You’re a mother. It’s your given right to be worried about your daughter. Everybody understands the comments that you said. Even Cindy was being hard on Chase.” Marie shakes her head, remembering that very well herself. “Just think – we still got two rugrats that are going to keep our hands ful-”

 

“Tell Elsa to shut up and go to sleep!” They then hear Robby yell. “She keeps singing some darn annoying song.”

 

“Tell Robby to stop kicking his feet against the wall!”  They hear Elsa yell in response. They then look at each other and just laugh as they both get out of the bed.

 

“Like I said, we still got our hands full,” Dale comments as he gives Marie a quick kiss. “Please let my son mature quicker than he is, though.”

 

“Remember – he’s your kid,” Marie reminds him. “How long did it take you to grow up?” Dale rolls his eyes, knowing that they were indeed in trouble if that was case. “I’ll handle the kids. You go get those sundaes that you promised.”

 

“Deal.”