After their fun together, the pair laid back in the bed, glancing over at each other with a smile.
“It’d been way too long,” she comments as he laughs. She then rolls over to look over at him. “But on a brighter note, it’s nice to see that you’re feeling better.” He then glances over surprised.
“You can tell?” He questions and she nods her head.
“Confidence, the way you walk, the way you’re thinking – it’s like you’re almost back to your full-self.” He couldn’t help but agree as he glanced up at the ceiling.
“There’s only one thing missing in that…” She nods her head, as she felt the pit of her stomach twist.
“You’re doing an off-season test to make sure before Daytona, right?” Dale nods his head, remembering the recent conversation with the team.
“Darlington in a couple weeks, actually.” She then looks over puzzled.
“This soon?” He nods his head, remembering the discussion with Mickey as well. “Holy…”
“You don’t seem so confident.” She lets out a sigh as her minds go back to when she was away.
“When I was sitting in my office trying to go through everything that I had to do, I couldn’t think straight to be honest. I tried to focus on what they’d put before me, and I just – my mind would go blank. All I could think about is what happened, the wreck, and how you were feeling. My mind worried that it wasn’t going to get better through your frustration. I wondered what the future held. I had more questions coming home than I think I left with.” He could understand that, based on the state of things. However, he felt based on her words earlier these thoughts were worth nothing now.
“And now?” She glances over as she looks into his eyes.
“I want to believe in you and say that you’re right in being ready. But I just can’t bring myself to 100% confidence yet. Maybe it’s because I’m worried about another wreck. Maybe it’s because I’m nervous. Maybe I’m skeptical. Maybe I’m afraid to let go because of everything. Maybe I want to keep the spoiled feeling of having you to myself. But it just didn’t sit as well as I thought it would…” Dale lets out a sigh as he rolls onto his back, eyes up at the ceiling.
“I can’t lie that I’m skeptical, too. I want to feel confident in what everybody is saying around me. I want to feel confident in how I’m feeling. But till I strap back in that racecar and take to Darlington, I won’t know if I’m ready for that. Can I go back and do that again? Am I healed to the point to do that again? I won’t know till we make those laps. So I get your worries, but there’s one way to answer them…” She nods her head as she reaches over and grabs his hand.
“That’s why despite what I may show and feel, I will be there and ready to support you 100%.” He looks over at her with a smile. “And I will then focus on Christmas plans because we got a lot of shopping to catch up on.” He then rolls his eyes.
“Can we skip that this year because we have a wedding instead to focus on?” She chuckles and shakes her head no.
“There are some kids that will be expecting gifts under the tree, Mr. Earnhardt.” He nods his head, with a smile forming. It was going to be fun to watch Alyssa and Elsa tear into their gifts together this year as Elsa seemed to be trying to copy everything Alyssa did now.
“We also have a wedding to finish up planning, and then go through…” She nods her head.
“I think that’s almost squared away, though. Didn’t we go through almost all the lists?” He looks back, remembering his last glance through the binders. “Besides, the details don’t matter. All that matters to me is being able to call you my dear husband.” He then glances over at her.
“So we can skip the formal presentation?” She laughs and shakes her head no. “Dang….”
“It’s Pitronia tradition, and I would like them to recognize you as an equal and fair party in this deal. Those people trust in the powers to run their country and home as they want. They’ve put their trust in myself, Stacey and John. They also need to know the people behind me who believe in me no matter what I may do because I want them to know how much you mean to me.” He smiles as he thinks it over.
“Okay, so maybe for that reason I can stand on stage and accept it all.” She smiles as she moves back close to him, placing her head on his chest.
“Just think. You’ll be King Ralph Dale Kastona Earnhardt Jr.” He rang the name through his head a couple times, trying to find a way to grow used to it.
“I like the sounds of Queen Marie-Ann Belle Kastona Earnhardt better.” She then chuckles, having written that out a couple times already.
“I don’t care whether it’s full name, or Marie Earnhardt, I just can’t wait to officially call you my husband.” He then looks down at her with an evil grin.
“Then let’s run away to Las Vegas and hitch up tonight. Then we can say we’re married for Christmas and I can save on a gift for you.” She then looks up at him surprised as the grin widens on his face.
“You’re one evil man, but I do like your ways…” He then laughs as she scoots up, kissing his lips once again. “Just promise me you’ll be careful when we do go to Darlington.” He nods his head as he wraps his arms firmly back around her once again.
“Don’t worry – I’m not going anywhere. You’ll always have me in your life. We almost lost each other once. I’m not letting that happen again.”