Chapter 16: Waiting…
They had been sitting there for two hours without a single word on how things were going.
Kyle sat in the chair, continuing to look at the ground, not wanting to move as he thought about whether she’d be okay or not. He wanted to believe everybody’s thoughts that she would be, but there was a small bit of fear burning inside of him that didn’t feel right.
Dale leans back against the wall, eyes closed, thinking. He had been strong so far believing that she’d be okay, but he couldn’t have the same fear bugging him. It just didn’t seem right that he was still standing there waiting without an update. Shouldn’t they at least get an update after the time that had passed?
“Kyle, are you okay?” Dale finally breaks the silence as he looks over at where Kyle is sitting.
“Yeah I’m fine,” Kyle answers as he looks over at where Dale is. “I just hope she’s okay.” Kyle takes a deep breath as he focuses his eyes back on the floor. “I want to believe that she will be and I know how strong that girl is, but I just don’t know if she will be.”
“You got to believe that she’ll be okay as you need that piece of hope to carry you forward.” Kyle shakes his head in agreement.
“I know I do and that’s what I keep telling myself.” Dale then pushes himself off of the wall and goes over and sits beside Kyle as Kyle glances up at him. Without a word spoken, the pair of them let their eyes meet and tears trickle down both their cheeks. Dale wraps his arms around Kyle and pulls him close as the pair sit in silence.
“She’s going to be okay,” Tony says as he stands on the opposite side of the small room. After dropping Chelsea off at Rick and Linda’s, Tony had returned with Lindsay and Rick to wait out the news. Linda promised to take care of Chelsea and make sure that she was okay throughout everything. She just reminded the group to make sure to send her an update when they had one. “She’s a strong person and she’s fought through a lot. This is just another bump in the road.” They then looked up when they saw the door open to the small room and saw a doctor standing there. “Doc, just tell us whether she will be okay or not. Ease their worry.”
“I can’t say whether she will be okay definitely quite yet,” the doctor says as he sits down in one of the chairs as Kyle and Dale both look over at him. “It all depends whether she wakes up or not. All I can tell you for sure right now is that the surgery went as well as it could given the circumstances. We removed what we could as we discussed before and now will have to see if she wakes up.” Tony looks over at Dale and Kyle before turning his eyes back to the doctor.
“What do you mean ‘if’ she wakes up?”
“There’s a chance that she won’t wake up as that’s part of the risk involved in this whole deal.”
“If she wakes up, then will she be okay?” Dale asks as he holds back his own tears trying to see through the fear that is eating at him.
“That will definitely show an improvement for sure,” the doctor starts. “We will know then that she got through the surgery. From there, it will be about building strength and continuing to get better with each passing day. Once she is strong enough or to the point where we’d like her to be, we will begin the chemo to get rid of the last bit that is left. You may go see her in the recovery room, only a couple of you at a time.”
“Dale and Kyle, you both should go first and then we’ll take turns,” Tony tells Dale and Kyle as he looks towards them.
“May you both follow me please?” Dale and Kyle both get up out of their chairs and follow the doctor down the hall, both worried about what is on the other side. They both wanted to see her for themselves, but could they take the condition she is in? “Don’t mind the tubes when you go in. she is connected to a ventilator till she wakes up and we see where her strength is. We want to give her lungs a chance to heal right now.” The boys shake their heads as they get to the door. “You may both go in when you’re ready. If you have any questions, don’t hesistate to come see me or one of the nurses at the desk.” The doctor then walks away as Dale and Kyle stand outside the door.
“I have to see her no matter what is going through my mind,” Dale comments outloud as he twists the doorknob slowly to open the door. Kyle stands there, taking a deep breath, trying to keep himself calm, also scared based on the doctor’s words and everything that they knew going into this. “Are you coming?” Kyle shakes his head yes before following Dale into the room.
“Besides the tube, she looks like she’s just sleeping,” Kyle says as they walk over to the bed. Immediately his eyes were drawn to the tube in her mouth, which the doctor had discussed both they had walked in. It killed him to see her like that, but he understood why and knew that he had to be strong for her. Kyle sits in the chair beside her bed, taking her hand into his. He rubs it, feeling the warmth that he had grown used to. He notices the IV that in her wrist, knowing it was probably for fluids due to how she was.
Dale stands on the other side of the room, eyes looking across at Kyle before looking down at his daughter, holding back his own tears. Her face was still its normal color and Kyle was right, she looked like she was sleeping. He followed suit, holding Angelica’s other hand as he kept his eyes fixed on her face. He wished that he was dreaming right now and could wake up and not be there. If not that, he wished he could see those sparkling blue eyes that he had grown to love of hers looking back at him.
The pair don’t move for a couple minutes, both feeling shock and content in knowing that she’s right there before them. Kyle knew thought that he couldn’t hold back his own feelings, though, as he reached in and kissed her lips before sitting back in his chair.
“You’re going to wake up,” Kyle tells her. “You have to Angelica.”
“I need you, Kyle needs you and your baby needs you,” Dale adds as he gives Angelica a quick kiss on her hand.
“Your daddy is right. You can’t leave us now.”
Chapter 17: Christmas Wishes
Two weeks. They had taken turns over the past two weeks sitting with her and yet saw no improvement. It drove them both crazy as they both wanted her to wake up and everything to be fine. Why wasn’t that happening as they had planned?
As Kyle walked through the lobby once again, he looked at the Christmas tree and shook his head.
“I wish I was home for Christmas with her,” Kyle whispers to himself quietly. “All I want this Christmas is my sweetie.” He then walks down the long hall and turns into the room, seeing Dale and Tony sitting there with her.
“Did you get some sleep?” Dale asks and Kyle shakes his head yes. They both knew that they couldn’t spend every day and night there without a break as they needed their sleep, food and eventually a shower. “Okay.”
“I brought you a Dew.” Kyle then hands Dale the bottle before sitting down. “I just wish she’d wake up.”
“She’s going to wake up soon.” Dale then rubbed the back of Angelica’s hand as he took a deep breath, holding back his own emotions. “I have a feeling that she’ll wake up soon. She’ll want to be with us for Christmas.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“I can’t believe tomorrow will be Christmas,” Tony then comments as he stands up and leans against the wall. “It seems just yesterday we were finishing the season and celebrating.”
“I’m never going to forget the smile on her face when she was crowned the champion,” Kyle says as Dale and Tony both shake their heads.
“I just can’t believe how much she’s grown since she moved in with Rick when she was a little girl,” Dale adds as Tony puts his hands on Dale’s shoulders.
“She’s just like you in many ways,” Tony comments as Dale smiles.
“I just want to know why she has to go through this after everything,” Kyle speaks up as Dale and Tony look over at him. “It’s just not fair. First things with Jeff, then things with Ashton and now this. How is it fair?”
“It’s not fair,” Tony comments as he looks down. “Life is not fair sometimes, Kyle. Sometimes life likes to be cruel to make you a stronger person.”
“It’s still not right. We all know how strong she is; she doesn’t deserve this.”
“Nobody deserves this.” Tony then straightens up. “I’m going to go grab a quick bite to eat and check on Lindsay & Chelsea.”
“Bring me back a bag of chips please.” Tony smiles.
“Of course.” Tony then leaves the room as Dale and Kyle sit there silently, like they had many times before.
“How are you holding up?” Kyle then looks over at Dale as Dale sits there staring at Angelica’s face, hand wrapped around her hand. “Dale, she’s going to be okay.”
“I know that,” Dale answers simply as Kyle looks back over at Angelica.
“I just wish that she’d wake up already.” Kyle then reaches down and kisses her cheek slightly, though is startled when he sees her eyes flutter beneath him.
“Ang?” Dale asks quickly as he squeezes her hand.
“Wake up for us please,” Kyle begs as he continues to look down at her. As they both sit there nervously, they see her eyes flutter once again as she slightly squeezes Dale’s hand in return. After a little bit, they see her eyes flung open and stare at them as a smile crosses both of their faces. “Welcome back princess.” She then goes to talk, though realizes the tube and pouts. “The doctor said he’d take it out after you woke up and gained some strength. Just relax sweetie.”
“I told you she couldn’t miss Christmas.” Dale then stands up and heads out to find the doctor to tell him that she is awake.
After checking her over and some scans, the doctor had a good diagnosis. He said that she’d have to stay there for a couple weeks for observation purposes to make sure her lung continued to heal. However, she was allowed to get the tube taken out as long as she promised to stay relaxed about things.
“So it’s Christmas Eve?” She asks in disbelief after the doctor leaves the room.
“Yes babes,” Dale answers as he sits in usual spot. “You made our Christmas wishes come true.”
“All I wanted this Christmas was you and you’re here so don’t worry,” Kyle adds as she smiles.
“I know how much you loved Christmas as a kid. You couldn’t stand to miss a Christmas now could you?” Angelica then laughs slightly, though quickly stops as she feels a bit of pain.
“No I couldn’t because I love spending time with those I love over the holidays,” she answers.
“Well we’re not going anywhere,” Kyle tells her as Dale smiles, holding her hand again.
“I’m sure we can have Christmas right here with her with everybody,” Dale adds as Kyle looks at him surprised.
“Okay, maybe not everybody. But we have to make sure that Tony, Lindsay and Chelsea are here.” With that, they heard the door open and everyone smiled when they saw Chelsea run in.
“You’re awake Angie!” Chelsea yells as she runs over to the bed.
“She wouldn’t stop asking us to bring her,” Lindsay says.
“It’s fine,” Angelica says as she gives Chelsea a hug. “She can come visit me anytime. I always love to see my little Cheeseball.” Angelica then moves over a little and pats her hand down on the spot beside her. “Come up here with your big sister.” Chelsea smiles as she jumps up on the bed and sits beside Angelica.
“Are you happy to see your sister?” Dale asks and Chelsea smiles.
“Yes,” Chelsea answers. “I love my sister.” Dale smiles as he watches them together.
“How’d I get so lucky to have both of them in my life?”
“Because you’re special daddy!” They all then smile as Lindsay gives Dale a quick kiss.
“Am I really special?” Chelsea shakes her head yes. “Specialer than Angelica?”
“Nope.” Dale then laughs as Angelica pulls Chelsea close.
“Sorry but you’re not her favorite anymore,” Lindsay comments as Dale shrugs his shoulders.
“Oh well,” Dale says. “I’m still special. That’s what matters Lindsay.”
Over the next couple of weeks, Angelica would continue to heal and she would be allowed out in early February. The plan was for her to go to Speedweeks with Tony, Kyle, Dale, Lindsay and Chelsea and then begin her treatments when she got back. Who knew what Speedweeks had in store.
Chapter 18: Daytona!
“I can’t believe I am in Daytona!” Angelica cheers out loud as she walks into the Daytona infield with the clan.
“Did I just hear Angelica’s voice?” They hear and smile as they see Matt walking over. Matt had planned on stopping to see her but hadn’t gotten time with his off-season schedule. He immediately pulls her close and gives her a hug.
“It’s nice to see you too, Matt.”
“It’s even more awesome to see you up and walking around.” She then smiles as she looks towards him.
“I have a lot to thank you for as this is due to you and your hardwork.”
“She’s right as I don’t what I would’ve done had you not brought that information forward,” Dale adds as Matt smiles.
“I told you that I couldn’t stand to see that happen without trying something and I’m glad that worked,” Matt comments. “Step one complete. Step two to go. You still have to go for some therapy, right?” Angelica shakes her head yes remembering the doctor’s words.
“Two months of chemo should clean the rest up,” she tells him and Matt shakes his head understanding.
“Well you’ll pull through because you’re a strong young lady.”
“Thanks Matt and I know that I have to pull through so I can kick your ass again.” Matt then looks at her surprised by those words. It was in her typical spew of attitude, but he didn’t really think that after everything they’d see her racing again.
“Oh really?” She shakes her head yes as she looks out towards the backstretch. She knew that once everything was over, she was going to go back to what she loved.
“Well let’s just get through this and then we can look at that,” Dale comments, a ting of worry in his mind. He also hadn’t expected those words or let that thought cross his mind.
“That’s the plan,” Angelica comments as she turns back to the group. She could tell by the looks on everyone’s faces and responses that she had caught them off guard.
“Be careful this weekend sweetheart,” Matt then says before giving her a quick hug. “The girls are probably looking for me. I’ll see you later.” Angelica smiles.
“Bye Matt.” They then watch Matt walk off before continuing on their way.
“Did you mean what you said about going back racing?” Kyle then asks as Dale bites his lip, knowing that may not be the best question to ask.
“Of course I did,” Angelica replies. “Once I’m strong enough, I want to go back to doing what I love. Racing is in my blood and this is what I love to do the most and am born to do.” Tony smiles admiring the determination.
“Well I hope that you get the chance because you’re one heck of a racer,” Tony says and Angelica turns to him smiling.
“Just for now, remember what the doctor said about taking it easy,” Lindsay adds and Angelica shakes her head remembering the words.
“I plan on finding a nice spot to relax, kicking back and taking in the action as a fan and cheerleader for the three most important people in my life,” Angelica comments as she looks towards Kyle, Dale and Tony as they reach the motorcoaches. Kyle and Angelica had their own parked right beside where Dale, Tony and Lindsay would spend their time with Chelsea. “I don’t think that should take too much energy now should it?”
“What about the beach?” Chelsea then speaks up from the back of the group, remembering the promise that she had received from Kyle and Angelica.
“We’ll also make a day to go relaxing at the beach and build some sand castles.”
“Just take it easy sweetheart,” Dale says as he goes to open the door to his motorcoach.
“Your dad is right as we don’t need to cause any trouble down here,” Lindsay adds as she walks inside once the door is open.
“Let us know if you need us,” Tony says as he follows Lindsay inside. Dale and Chelsea then follow suit while Kyle and Angelica head in their own motorcoach.
Once their inside, Angelica lays on the couch, smile crossing her face as she knew that she was in for a week of fun.
“So you’re right running all three races right?” She then double checks as she glances towards Kyle.
“Nationwide and Truck with Turner-Scott and then obviously the 500 with Stewart,” Kyle replies as Angelica shakes her head. It was an odd feeling knowing that her boyfriend was in the ride that she had drove to a championship the previous year. Kyle then glances towards her, noticing the look on her face as he goes and sits beside her.
“What? I didn’t say anything!”
“Your facial expression gave you away.” Angelica then looks down, shaking her head. She didn’t want to come out and say her feelings as she knew that it’d mess things up with how Kyle felt about things for that year.
“You can tell me what it is no matter what, Angelica.” She then looks away, still not wanting to say it as she feels him wrap an arm around her. She then looks back at him, kissing his lips lightly.
“It’s just it’s weird seeing you with Ron and my team after my year last year, okay?” She then looks back down, knowing that she had said enough. “It just doesn’t feel right as I guess I have that feeling that they’re my guys and we should be together.” Kyle wraps an arm around her.
“I understand how you’re feeling and there’s no hard feelings. Remember that they’re always your team and I’m just borrowing them for this season.” Angelica then glances at him, a feeling of worry filling her.
“What about when I’m ready to come back? I don’t just want to say ‘hi, I’m back and they’re mine’. That’s not nice to you!”
“But I’d accept it because I love you and knowing the boundaries here.” Angelica shakes her head.
“No, it still doesn’t feel right. I could never do that to you, Kyle.”
“You could because I’d let you and everything would work out. Somehow, someway, we figure something out so that I’d be with a top tier team and racing too. We always do. That’s why we have your dad and Tony in our court.” Angelica smiles as she knows there were many possibilities.
“Okay, you have a point as they always have a plan. But promise me that no matter what, we won’t let this screw things up with us.” She then kisses his lips as he lays back with her laying on his chest.
“I promise. I could never ever leave you or make you mad.” She then smiles as she rubs his arm.
“I can’t get over how sweet it is to say my name is Angelica Earnhardt-Larson.” Kyle laughs as he shakes his head before she gives him another kiss.
“Are you in a lovey mood, Mrs. Larson?” She then looks up at him surprised.
“Lovey mood? What are we? Teenagers?” Kyle shrugs his shoulders.
“Hey now, we’re just over the teen hump to adults so you can’t fault me too bad.” He then pulls her back down to him and kisses her lips. “Plus, I won’t mind if you are.”
“I’m sorry but a sexy boy like yourself has a magical effect on a girl like me.” He then smiles as he wraps both arms around her, kissing her neck lightly. He only lifts himself up off the couch enough for her to slip his shirt off. “I can’t get enough of the touch of your skin against mine. You just feel way too soft.” She then lays her head back down on his chest.
“I don’t mind holding you close to me every second of the day.”
“I never want to let you go, ever.” She then kisses his bare chest. “I love you, Kyle.” He then rubs her back till she falls asleep on him, content to stay there for as long as she slept. It didn’t matter as all that mattered was that she was still there with him and they could have moments like this.
Chapter 19: Daytona Speedweeks
Daytona Speedweeks had gone well so far as Dale won the Bud Shootout while Dale and Tony split the Duels. Kyle Larson managed to score the win in both the truck race and the nationwide race and with the Daytona 500 ahead, he was ready for a three-peat.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Rick asks Angelica as he walks over to where she was sitting during the driver intros. He knew that she was enjoying her time in Daytona, though he also worried that she was pushing things too far.
“Yeah I’m fine Rick,” Angelica comments as she looks over at Rick. She knew that Rick was always concerned about her well-being and making sure that she was fine. It was all part of their relationship and she wasn’t going to argue with it.
“Okay. Just make sure you’re not pushing things too hard.” Angelica smiles as she looks up at him.
“Trust me Rick, I know my boundaries and will follow them.” Rick then smiles as he gives her a quick hug. “So, do you think dad has the car to win today?” Rick rolls his eyes as she is right back to race mode.
“We’ll just have to see what Steve and him have done this week to get ready.”
“I have faith in Stevie. If that car is like it was on Thursday, the field is going to have a hard time beating him.” Rick then sits down beside her, once again curious as to how she is feeling based on how she looks. However, he didn’t want her to clue into that….just yet.
“Now who do you want to win – your father or your husband?” Angelica smiles as she shakes her head.
“I can’t decide between them and you know that, Rick. I’d be fine with either of them winning.” She then opens the bottle of water in her hands and takes a big sip.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Angelica?” Rick couldn’t hold off asking any longer.
“Yes, I’m fine Rick. Why do you keep asking?”
“I worry about you. Plus, you just seem a little paler than normal. Maybe you should think abou-”
“I’m fine, Rick. Plus, I won’t be up to much today. I’m going to sit up on Kyle’s pit box and enjoy the race with Ron.” Rick smiles, though is also still concerned.
“Okay. But be careful sweetie. I have to go see my drivers. I’ll talk to you later.” Angelica smiles.
“Bye Rick.” Rick then heads off as Angelica stands up and makes her way down pit road to see Kyle.
Already down at the other end of pit road, Dale stood by his car thinking as Lindsay walks over and wraps her arms around him.
“Hey sweetie,” Dale comments as he spins around and looks at her, kissing her lips. “How is my favourite lady doing? And where’s my little munskin?” Lindsay points over to Tony’s car and Dale smiles as Chelsea sits on the ground by the car with Tony, amused in some conversation with him and a couple crew guys. Dale then turns back to Lindsay.
“So how are you?” He then looks her over, concerned by the look in her eyes as he could always tell when she was getting sick.
“I’m fin-” she starts as Dale places his finger over her mouth.
“Tell me the truth.” She then rolls her eyes.
“Dale, it’s noth-”
“Tell me the truth Lindsay.”
“Morning sickness. You can thank Angelica and Kyle for that due to the baby.” Dale rolls his eyes as he remembered watching Lindsay go through it when she was pregnant with Chelsea.
“Hopefully it doesn’t kick your butt like it did the last time.” Lindsay then smiles.
“If it does, can I kick your daughter in the ass?” Dale laughs as he shakes his head.
“She has her own batt-”
“I know, but can I after that?” Dale shakes his head yes as he pulls Lindsay close holding her. “How are you feeling?” Dale then let out a long sigh as he thought back to the previous night.
“You know how Daytona goes sometimes.” Lindsay then backs away and looks at him.
“It’ll be fine, Dale. You’re going to do awesome today. I believe in you and this team. You don’t have nothing to worry about.” Dale then smiles as her words start to relieve some of his thoughts.
“I hope you’re right as that’d be great. I wouldn’t mind winning this race again.”
Chapter 20: Daytona 500
50 laps into the Daytona 500, Angelica sat on the pit box beside Ron Malec watching Kyle, Dale and Tony race hard for positions amongst the field. It had been a calm race so far, but everybody knew that there was craziness yet to come.
Angelica wiped some sweat off of her forehead as she sat back, taking in a deep breath. She had been fine so far, but she knew that she’d be in for a nap later. Normally she could handle a day like this, but considering it being soon after the surgery and still healing with more to come, she knew she had to be careful. Rick was right – she should’ve been relaxing back at the motorcoach.
“Ron, I’m going to go lay down for a bit,” she says as she stands up and Ron shakes his head.
“Be careful and take care of yourself,” Ron tells her as he watches her leave the pit box.
She slowly makes her way down the steps and takes a deep breath when she reaches the bottom, knowing that she should’ve gone back to the motorcoach sooner.
“Are you okay?” One of the crew members asks her concerned and she shakes her head yes.
“I’m fine,” she answers before continuing to head back. She continues walking, reminding herself to breathe in and breathe out, really knowing that she should’ve listened to Rick earlier. “Why is this happening to me? I was careful all weekend!”
As she goes to walk by Jimmie’s pit box before turning to head down the path, she feels herself getting faint and starts to lean back when she feels a pair of arms grab her.
“I knew there was reason to be concerned,” she hears and immediately recognizes the voice. He then holds her up as he leads her down the path that she was going to take originally.
“Rick, please, I’m fine,” she tells him, knowing herself otherwise. “I’ll be fine once I lay down for awhile.”
“You should’ve listened to me earlier, Angelica.” She then about falls again, when he strengthens his hold on her.
“You’re going to the care center whether you like it or not.”
“Rick, I’m fine.”
“Angelica, you’re not and you’re going to listen what I have to tell you. Your body is weak, you’re probably dehydrated and you need to be attended to. Just please listen to me for once.” She then lets out a long sigh and knows that she has no strength to fight with him as he continues to lead her to the care center.
Back out on track, it’s now down the final 20 laps and Steve LeTarte sits on the pit box with Lindsay. Dale had warned him earlier that Lindsay was a little off due to some “morning sickness” and he promised that he’d keep a close eye on her. He glances over at her as the cars run under caution, noticing the same pale complexion that he found himself questioning earlier.
“Oh God,” Lindsay lets out, catching everyone on the pit box off guard as she goes to grab her stomach.
“What’s wrong?” Steve immediately asks concerned as he slips his headset off. “Lindsay? Tell me what’s wrong. Lin-”
“My stomach hurts!” Steve bites his tongue, knowing that can’t be good given everything.
“Why don’t I get one of the guys to take you and get you checked out then? I’ll take care of Dale these final laps. You take care of yourself.” He then motions for Rob and Nick to help her.
“What if something is wrong?” Lindsay asks as she stands up with their help. “What if I lose the baby?”
“Everything will work out Lindsay,” Rob assures her as he helps her down with Nick’s help. “Just stay calm.”
“How can I be calm when this is happening?”
“Just trust us for this once please,” Nick begs as they head towards the care center.
“I don’t know what I’ll do if something happens to the baby,” Lindsay lets out as tears roll down her cheeks.