Cabin Fears – Chapter 62: Building Belief

Friday at Darlington Raceway

The practice went solidly for Alyssa as she wasn’t the quickest, but she wasn’t that far off from where they wanted to be, posting the 14th quickest time for the session. More importantly, she was pleased with the handling of the car.

Though after finishing up her discussion with Kevin, she couldn’t help but find her eyes focused on Chase, wondering what was going through his mind. She saw his emotions before the practice started, and how he left for some time to himself prior to the session.

So immediately after being released from their post-practice debrief, she made her way over to Chase, wrapping her arms around his waist.

“Are you okay?” She asks as she leans her head against his back.

“I told you that you didn’t need to worr-” He starts.

“I care about you, Chas-”

“You have a race to focus on. If I need someone, I have a bunch of others that I can turn to, if need be.” She lets out a sigh as she rubs his sides.

“I know that you do, but sometimes that can be harder than you think to talk to them versus talking to me. Sure, it’s a busy weekend for me. But I always have time to spend with you, and hear you out. So if you have something on your mind, you can tell me.” He lets out a sigh as they quickly glance at each other. “I saw you leave the garage before the practice started. I could tell something was up before then, hence the concern then. Tell me, please….”

“I just have a lot on my mind, and basically re-visiting that time brought it full circle in my mind.” She rubs his shoulders, now feeling perhaps it was the wrong time to bring out the paint scheme – even if it held a lot of special meaning. Their first ever victory lane photo together was taken at this win.

“I didn’t mean to do tha-”

“It’s fine.” He then turns to face her. “You don’t have to blame yourself or apologize for how I am feeling. It may be a good thing, actually. It let me ponder how things were then, and how they’ve changed since. It made me reflect on how I’ve changed as a person, what I’ve been through, and perhaps find who I want to be.” He then glances down, taking a deep breath, before looking back at her. “I want to get back to who I was a couple years ago, when I believed that everything we’ve been through would be behind me. I want to get back to having that fun I was having. I want to get back to just living it up. I want to get back to being focused on racing and doing what I can, but having those fun crazy moments with friends – like you.” She chuckles, remembering some of those times.

“Including the late nights in the treehouse?” He immediately shakes his head no as she laughs. “Really? No horror movies?”

“I’ve had enough experience, thank you.” She couldn’t help but nod in agreement after her own run with terror. “But yes, moments like those. I want to get back to being able to sleep and not having to worry about that nightmare. I want to be able to wrap my arms around everything, and feel total control. My little glance back in my mind through time gave me the clarity to see all that, realize what I wanted, and focus on fighting for that.” It brought a smile to her face to hear the encouragement in his voice, especially with how they started the week.

“I’ve got your back no matter what, and I vow to help you.”  He nods his head, knowing there was no questioning that.

“I know you have my back. I know Dale has my back. But what’s the most important thing? Believing in myself, even in my lowest moments, that I can crawl out of that hole. Tony talked about remembering that. I didn’t say much then, but I guess I was still questioning myself – letting the anxiety speak more than I should. But reminding me of this, being here, it gave me that answer that I needed. So rather than apologizing for bringing that scheme out of hiding, I say thank you.” An even bigger smile formed.

“Hopefully I can fulfill the rightfulness of bringing it back in familiar style.” He smiled, knowing that’d be a great feeling after the disappointment last week.

“Just focus on doing your best, and believe. You can do this. I know you can.” She smiles as she wraps her arms back around him firmly. He lets out a sigh as he rubs her back. “Alyssa….”

“Everything that’s happened this week scared me more than I admitted. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do.” She then glances up at him. “But hearing this positivity from you, it’s beautiful.”

“I’m going to have my moments. I know I’m not through every emotion that’s rattling in my mind. Randy is still playing his tricks with me even though he’s locked up due to his mazes of mystery. I’m still careful in doings due to fear of something happening – hence why I haven’t ventured off far from here. I’m sure I’m going to slip up and probably flip on you, unintentionally, out of my own frustration. But you’re right – I’m positive about your chances, and I’m positive that I’ll figure this out.”

“I know you will…” She then kisses his lips. “So what do you say we go do some exploring?” He nods his head in agreement as they accept each other’s hands, walking out of the stall together.

As they headed out together, Marie sat by the hauler with Dale, eyes focused on them with intent staring.

“Are you sure it’s best for him to be here this weekend?” Marie questions, catching Dale’s attention as he looks over.

“He couldn’t stand to be at home away from Aly-” He starts.

“I mean, with everything that happened and you told me.” Dale lets out a sigh, having his own reservations. He remembered calling Regan with a call of concern, wondering if they should put some plan in motion. However, Regan convinced him that Chase will find his way and the best way to give him space was let him to do it how he wanted. If they continue to pressure, it could backfire.

“So far, it seems to be working out well. He seems to be in the perfect positive attitude about things with smiles between them. I don’t think we’ll have any problems.” Marie had hesitation, though, based on previous weekends.

“What about the incident that happened at Bristol? What about the fan incident, too?” Dale remembered those, being the reason he had called Regan.

“He knows what happened. He’s taking the steps to make sure they don’t repeat themselves while he figures out what he needs to in his mind. Hence no walks by himself, hence staying away from crowds, and hence staying grounded. With everything put together, I don’t think we need to worry.” He then glances over at Marie. “You haven’t bothered me about them for awhile now….”

“I can’t help it with hearing what happened and his thoughts. Their lives have been shattered, and trying to put the pieces back together….” She then pauses as she looks down. “We know what it’s like, Dale. We’ve seen that and we know how much it hurts. I remember finding you broken down that night through it. I remember when you found me sitting on the balcony another night. I don’t want to see my baby go through that….” Dale wraps an arm around her.

“I know, and I don’t want to see her go through that. But what saved us those times? We knew that we had something to run to, and we had each other. They need each other more than anything else right now. I know you’re worried about Chase and things, but she needs him more than our worry justifies – just like she helps keep him good. We need to believe that it’ll be fine, and give them the space, and let them do what they need to do to get through it – just like we did.” Marie knew he was right, no matter how hard it felt to do so.

“Why can’t we just sweep in and take away all the pain and questions?” Dale wondered the same thing sometimes.

“Because life is unfair in that way sometimes. But hey, admit it – if anybody can do it, it’s them.” Marie nods her head in agreement.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 61: Mixed Emotions

Friday at Darlington Raceway

 

Following a relaxing morning together, the pair headed out to the garage, holding hands.

Normally, Alyssa was set to let Chase do his own thing – but she felt some pride this weekend. She knew how much the scheme that adorned her car meant to him and the team, and wanted to show it off to him first. There was also the feeling of a being a little more guarded this weekend after the week’s confessions.

The pair walk into the garage stall and Alyssa takes a glance over the car, smiling as she notices the small touches, before glancing back at him.

“Well, what do you think?” She questions as he takes his own view over the paint scheme. Immediately upon seeing it, he was taken back to that night at Darlington when he put together one of the most impressive runs to the checkered for his second series victory. Back when he was young and free, and back before all the chaos broke everywhere, too.

“They did a good job,” he answers as he takes his time looking it over. “It looks a little strange with the 88 on it, but it still looks amazing.” She smiles, remembering the discussion she had about putting the 9 on it properly, but how that was shot down for a variety of reasons by the team.

“Now it’s just about creating that same type of magic this weekend once again.” He smiles as he turns around to face her.

“I have every bit of faith that you can do that as you’ve impressed me a lot already, and everybody else too.” She smiles, nodding her head, as she lets out a sigh.

She knew the compliments from everybody about how she had driven the past couple of weeks were all good natured, meant to be encouraging given her situation and everything. However, she found herself guarded with each one.

She didn’t want to be known simply for being her father’s daughter. She didn’t want to be known for being that female racer. She didn’t want to be known as the driver who did it with one-hand and stood out her own way.

She wanted to be known as a racer – just like any other person in the garage.

Glancing in the cockpit, she knew there was no way she’d get that feeling totally back as she’d always wonder with each comment whether they’d give the same to someone different – a male, typical driver – versus her.

Though just because there were questions in her mind about comments, that didn’t mean her confidence was shaken at all. She was confident as ever that they’d be up front all weekend, and celebrating by the end of Saturday. She knew she could get the job done, and intended on doing that as she knew the playoffs were just around the corner.

“How long till practice?” She questions, set on focusing on the day ahead.

“15 minutes,” the crew member answers in return, before going back to what he was doing. She then glances over at Chase, watching him as he continues to look over the car.

“Did they miss something?” He shakes his head no. “Talk to me, then…..”

“Just thinking back to then and how things have changed,” he comments as he looks over at her. “You don’t need to worry about me. Focus on what you got to do. I’m fine.” She knew there was no way that was going over her head easily after what happened this past week.

“Chase, you don’t need to be like that with me,” she tells him, catching his attention. “I can focus on my job and damn well take care of you. Heck, I worry about you no matter what. So if you’ve got something going on, don’t be afraid to tell me.” He nods his head, accepting, as she gives him a quick hug and kiss.

“Trust me – I’m fine.” She nods her head, taking a deep breath. There was no time to push the issue as she watched Kevin walk into the garage, knowing that she wanted to go over some things before practice.

Chase watched her walk over to the crew chief, before taking one more glance over the car. He then takes a deep breath, grabbing his headset off of the pit box and beginning the walk out to the hauler. He was earlier than needed, but he knew some time alone to think would be warranted right now.

He climbs the steps, and looks out over the track, letting out a sigh. Through everything that happened, he had kept focused on moving forward and doing what he had to do. It was all about finding the best way to get through it all, and deal with whatever was thrown his way. There was never time to reflect, be glad for the highlights, be thankful for the opportunities, and make sure to not take everything for granted.

As he looks back into the stall at the familiar yellow and blue paint scheme, it brought everything into his focus.

He remembered his rookie season in the XFINITY Series. He was thankful that Rick had taken a chance on him, along with Kelley, Dale and the executives from NAPA. He remembered feeling an odd bit of pressure to perform after the mess that they had come out of from previously with Michael Waltrip Racing.

He remembered the shock at how quickly they were able to perform up front, though also being as hard as ever on himself for each mistake that he made. Of course they were supposed to be up there – welcome to the equipment. Now it was just on him to get the job done. He remembered the victory at Texas, followed by Darlington, and the realization they were going to fight for a championship. He remembered not having to worry about a darn thing, and living the ultimate dream. There were the jokes with friends, and the excitement of the weekend ahead.

He then pauses, and takes a deep breath. After that year, everything that changed. He headed to Daytona and everything began. All the thoughts that mixed through his mind – from pain, to anxiety, to fear, to doubting decisions more than normal, to anger – it was everything that drove him from then. Sure, he found some time with a peace – a good 10 year stretch of being relaxed without anything happening. But yet, he knew it probably lingered there under the surface. There was no way that you could just get rid of that totally.

Now standing there, overlooking a memory so to speak, he knew the situation he found himself in. There were more questions than answers, and more doors open than he could shut throughout his mind with everything flooding through.

Could he get through this? Was he strong enough to find the peace that he warranted? Could he erase the thoughts that Randy had stuck in his mind? Could he find that peaceful opening that was there previously? Would he ever return to the self he warranted for from then?

He also remembered the questions about whether he was destined to continue racing beyond this, or else this craziness would result in hanging it up earlier than expected. Though being reminded of that victory, the excitement, the drive to win, determination, and everything else he could think of – there was no way he could leave that behind.

As the car pulled out of the stall and he placed the headset upon his head, ready to watch the practice, he vowed to himself to keep fighting and find what he needed.

He was going to get through this, and he was going to come through it stronger than ever – no matter what it took.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 60: “I was Concerned”

Thursday

Following their conversation earlier in the week, Tony wanted to do what he told the others they’d do – give Chase his space and only intervene if they felt the right steps weren’t being taken.

Though 48 hours later, and he had to admit his worry hadn’t died at all. Perhaps that was due to seeing the first panic attack himself at Bristol, and feeling totally lost in that moment.

Taking a deep breath, he pulls up to the house and turns the key. He knew he should probably turn around and leave, as everything was fine if there were no signals being sent from Alyssa or Dale, but he couldn’t convince himself to doing that. He had to see Chase himself.

He climbs out of the truck, and walks up to the front, taking another deep breath for knocking on the door. What was the worst thing that Chase could say?

He waits a couple minutes, before watching the door open before him, smiling at the sight before him. He didn’t look too bad, considering.

“Hey,” he says simply as Chase just gives him a simple smile. “Can I come in?” Chase shakes his head yes, moving back to allow Tony inside the house, before closing the door behind him.

“I don’t mind the impromptu visit at all, but did you mention anything about coming or did Alyssa ask you?” Chase questions as he focuses his eyes on Tony. He knew he had been out of it at the beginning of the week, but nothing clicked together with Tony.

“Nah, this is a total off the cusp, I’m in town so I’m heading over for a visit moment. If you’re busy, I can leave.” Chase shakes his head no as he makes his way back through the house to the kitchen.

“I was actually just putting dinner together so Alyssa and I could eat when she got home before heading out to Darlington.” Tony could only shiver at the thought of Chase going through another weekend of traveling. With everything, he kind of hoped that Chase would take some weekends to relax at home by himself and focus on healing. However, he totally understood the reason due to his concerns surrounding Alyssa. As long as they didn’t repeat Bristol….

“Think she’ll have the same luck you did there?” Chase simply smiles as he had full belief that Alyssa was going to do well this weekend. She had done well there in the spring, and backing it up this time around would be nice.

“Have you seen the throwback scheme that she chose?” Tony shakes his head yes, having seen the photos flirting around the internet. She had chosen to go with Chase’s rookie XFINITY scheme, which obviously had a good history at Darlington. “Although admittedly – it feels weird to see someone using me for a throwback. 16 years man….” Tony shakes his head in disbelief as he still remembered when Chase was embarking on his first season of XFINITY racing.

“Do you remember your Daytona debut and how you were going around the garage, picking the minds of everybody for advice? Your dad was throwing stuff at you, but then you had myself, Dale and Kevin and you picked our minds like nuts.” Chase shakes his head yes, remembering how he was trying to soak in whatever he could. “By the way, I never should’ve given you all that advice.” Chase laughs as he knew he had used some of it very nicely.

“I wasn’t always good at the plate tracks, though.” Tony chuckles, remembering some of Chase’s crazier moments.

“I like the fact that you bring Hooters back to the sport, and debut it by letting Hootie fly at Talladega.” Chase laughs, remembering that experience and how it turned into a slew of jokes on twitter. “Hey, it’s nice to see you actually, and the smiles by the way.” Chase pauses, glancing over at Tony.

“You came over because you were worried?” Tony shakes his head yes as Chase lets out a sigh. He was used to everybody checking on him. For the most part, it annoyed him as he would rather be left alone to focus on what he needed to do. However, when it guys like Tony, Regan and Dale, he would let it go because he knew how much they helped at times.

“I was concerned after hearing about how this week started. But based on what I’m seeing, I say we’re making progress, again?” Chase nods his head.

“I’ve been taking the pills as instructed, and been getting back to a normal sleep schedule, which obviously helps my mood. They’re doing what they should so I can get through each day, doing what I need to do.” He then stops, glancing down at the pot before him, before looking over at Tony. He didn’t want to go further, but he knew Tony was owed the explanation. It was always better to be honest, right? “There’s moments that I have including the anxiety and concern and nerves and anger beyond what the pills are meant to control. I’m still having a difficulty finding the right strategy to handle that, and make it subside. But it’s coming…”

“That’s good. I’m glad. That’s all that matters. Any progress is good progress.” Tony glances out the window, thinking back some time in his own life. “You know, I can think about how upset and down I was after everything happened in New York. I couldn’t believe what happened. How could I have done that to a young man who had a whole future ahead of him? Admittedly, I had days where I wanted to throw in the towel and give up. I didn’t know how I could handle those emotions going forward. But Zippy was there with me and he told me I couldn’t do that. He kept reminding me reasons to move forward, and offer advice as to how to comprise every emotion. He also told me that if I could just keep a slim belief in myself, I could find a way. I was a fighter, and I could do it. You’re a fighter – just look at everything, so I damn well know you can do it.”

“I’ll try to always keep that in mind when I have those ultra tough days. Thanks…” Tony simply nods his  head.

“And know that you don’t have to force it to happen sooner than it will. You know the guys at Hendrick loves you and will always have a place for you at the team for when you’re ready to return. But if for some reason they forget about how awesome you are, just give me a call.” Chase chuckles, though offers a thumbs up for the owner before him.

“I told Jeff that it’d be at least another 2 weeks, probably a month. I don’t know….”

“What about waiting till next year?” Chase looks over and shakes his head no. “How come?”

“That’ll make me go crazy through the winter.” Tony chuckles, knowing the feeling.

“You could always get a late model fix.” Chase thought it over, knowing it’d been awhile since he had ran the Snowball Derby. “You could also try a sprint car.”

“As tempting as that is, I don’t think I have the balls to do that like you and Kasey.” Tony chuckles once again, easily accepting.

“There was once a time that we almost Alyssa signed for a year in World of Outlaws for Kasey. But instead, she just did the quarter midgets only.” Chase looks on surprised as he didn’t realize that.

“Really?” Tony shakes his head yes, remembering the discussion with Kasey. “I always thought stock cars were the number one destination for her.”

“Yeah, but the age restriction almost changed that path. She’s always had an affixation for open-wheel since she did the midget deal.” Chase then thinks it over, remembering the rumors that he had heard.

“So would it surprise you if she ran the Indianapolis 500 one year?” Tony shakes his head no. “That’s what I thought. She put off the rumors earlier this year like they were nothing to her parents, but I figured there was some merit there.”

“Graham (Rahal) eventually got his shot in a stock car for JR Motorsports after going back and forth with Dale for years. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a sort of return the favor here.” Chase knew that was possible, based on the fact that they had Graham come out one week already this year to help with teaching paddle shifting. “Am I sensing some apprehension from you on the idea?” Chase shakes his head no.

“I know those cars are safe, and I know their probably a lot of fun to drive. I also know it’s a great opportunity and something that she could excel at. I’d have no nerves or issues if she did it. Now her parents, well, that’s another story.” Tony nods his head in agreement.

“Either way, if she was given the opportunity, she’d take it Chase.” Chase knew that was the truth, knowing parental concerns wouldn’t be enough reason to stop her.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 59: The Afterthought

Tuesday morning

 

Regan knocks on the door, glancing around. He had been over here too many times to count through the years – almost too much it seemed. However, he was willing to do whatever it took.

He watches the door open, immediately smiling as he sees Marie standing there. She backs up, easily letting him inside as she was expecting him.

“Dale is out back with Tony,” she states simply as he nods his head.

He makes his way through the house, giving Robby and Elsa a quick wave along the way. He takes a deep breath as he opens the door, walking out onto the porch as he catches the boy’s attention.

“How are you?” Dale questions as Regan takes his seat with the group.

“I’m alright,” he answers. “The bigger question is how you are.” Dale knew the answer to the question was simple.

“I’m fine; that’s not why we’re here, Regan.” Regan shook his head, knowing exactly why Dale had called them. “So as I told you both on the phone, he had a bit of an episode yesterday. He snapped at Alyssa, and then I had a good discussion with him. A lot of mixture of thoughts from anger to frustration to blame to….well, the usual that he always get with Randy. But it was heightened more than I’ve ever seen it. That’s when I suggested he go to see Eric and he did, and Eric gave him a mild anxiety drug till he figures it out.”

“Glad that he finally listened to that advice,” Tony comments, remembering his discussions with Chase. “I told him that he should seek out help if he needs it. I mean, I know the feeling…”

“So do I,” Dale says, remembering the time he looked towards help after his experience with Marie’s family. “From what I get, this isn’t the first time he’s almost snapped, is it?” Regan shakes his head no, remembering their discussion at Bristol. “I don’t want to get overly crazy but we all agreed that we’d watch out for both him and Alyssa because we care. I think Alyssa is handling it slowly and right, as I know she’s taking steps in talking to people and getting her feelings out there.”

“She talked with me twice about things, actually,” Regan announces, remembering their discussions clearly. He remembered her concerns expressed about Chase.

“But what about Chase, guys? Should we be more concerned than we are? I mean, we’re trying to give him space and let him handle as he may because yes, he is taking steps slowly. But what if this is worse than that?” Regan thought back through the years, remembering his late night confessions with Chase and seeing all the signs of breakdown with him. He found himself comparing them to now.

“I think the emotions are worse, but I think we’re still handling it accordingly. He is slowly taking steps and he’s accepting advice when it is given to him. He’s doing more than he did before. If we keep seeing that, I’m going to lay off and let him do this the way that he wants. However, if we start backtracking with nothing done, you can hit the panic button and I’ll be there with you.”

“I haven’t been around him in other times like you both have,” Tony starts. “So I don’t know what he gets like. However, hearing the words that he wants to give up at times and he’s right at his edge, that’s concerning. If you’re going to get better, you have to believe in yourself without a shadow of doubt and focus on the steps to improving. If you have any doubt, where’s the effort coming from?” Dale and Regan both shook their heads, understanding what Tony was saying.

“I think that was the anxiety talking though,” Regan comments. “That’s why I feel what Dale did in making him go see Eric for a mild-anxiety drug will help keep that at bay as he works through the rest. Once he comes at peace with what happened, he typically stops panicing and worrying. So I think we let him get through it, and then see where he stands with regards to the other.”

“And what If our wait and see approach doesn’t pan out?” Dale didn’t want to think about that. He knew the previous two runaway activities by Chase had gone totally wrong.

“Let’s just not picture that, plea-” Dale pleads.

“It’s a possibility, and something you should consider if you’re going to do what you’re doing,” Tony cuts him off. “I know you hate the thought, but come on Dale…” Dale lets out a sigh as he looks out to the field.

“It’s not going to come to that, Tony,” Regan says as Tony looks over at him. “I’ve helped him through everything in the past. I know how he is. It won’t come to that. We just have to make sure he keeps making progress, slowly, whatever that may be. Keep making sure that he’s talking to people, working through his thoughts. If that happens, we’ll be fine.”

“100%?” Regan shakes his head yes, believing his words fully. He always knew to give Chase more credit than perhaps others would because he had seen what he’d been through.

“Alright, fine. But just promise me that you’ll keep watch and make sure it doesn’t go further.”

“100%,” Regan and Dale say together without a shadow of doubt.

While the boys were talking on the back porch, Alyssa had made her way over and met with Marie in the living room.

She remembered her own words last night of not wanting to make conversation. She remembered her own thoughts of avoiding what was going on. However, in the same thought, she was pushing Chase to talk about what was going on with him. So it was only fair that she actually did something instead of doing nothing.

“So what do you want to talk about?” Marie questions as Alyssa takes a deep breath.

“I’m having my nightmares again,” she confesses as Marie lets out a sigh. She hated the thought of her daughter suffering from anything.

“Well, that’s understandable with what you went through.” Alyssa looks down, remembering everything clearly. She could think through the trail of events without panicing now, thanks to careful conversation with some people.

“I’ve talked through that. I’ve handled that. I can look back at that and not worry a single bit. I talked to Regan, Ella, and a couple others. I’ve come to grips with what happened. I get that I couldn’t had done anything different and it is what it is. There’s no doubt there.” Marie was proud of the progress her daughter had made, knowing how much that meant to her. However, she was still concerned.

“But the nightmares….” Alyssa looks over at her mom, taking a deep breath.

“There’s nights that I close my eyes, and I see an assortment of scary images. Some of them are trying to kill me, or I’m watching someone I love be killed. There’s pain other nights. There’s also repeats of a plane crashing, or images of what happened like a movie.” Marie lets out a sigh as she reaches over, rubbing her daughter’s back.

“The last time you had these, it helped to talk through each nightmare that you were having. Have you done that, yet?” Alyssa shakes her head no. “Do you want to do that this afternoon?” While she loved her mom, she was never good at breaking everything like that down with her.

“I’d prefer to not do that with you, actually. It’s just…..I can’t explain it….I can’t tal-”

“It doesn’t come easily because you’re more comfortable with your father or Chase?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. “That’s fine, sweetheart. You have nothing to worry and I’m not offended. I understand being closer to someone else more. So, have you talked to Chase at all?”

“I admitted to them, but didn’t push the topic any further. With everything that’s going on for him right now, I didn’t want to make those thoughts worse.” Marie shakes her head, understanding.

“That’s fine, sweetheart. Just remember that you need to take care of yourself. So before sooner than later, you need to have that necessary discussion. Whether it’s with Chase, or if you feel that’s not ready then with your father or someone else. You need to work through this as it’s not healthy and we know that you need your sleep. You got a busy schedule coming up….” Alyssa knew that was for certain with plans to race for the championship and win it.

“I know. That’s why I’m trying to figure out the best thing to do….” Marie gives her daughter a pat on the back.

“You’ll figure it out – you always do. Keep believing in yourself; everything will be fine.”

Moving Forward – Chapter 47: The Surprise

Marie grabs her bag, smiling as she walks through the airport, clasping Elsa in her arms with Alyssa in toe.

While it was nice to head home and she took pride in her work, there was nothing like returning home to where she lived now and reuniting with Dale. Besides, she still had some wedding plans to finalize.

“Daddy!!” Alyssa then lets out, running off from Marie as she goes to protest, though immediately smiles as she sees Dale standing there, leaning against the car. “I missed you!”

“I missed you too,” Dale replies as he holds her tightly in his arms, kneeling down to her level. “Did you have fun?” She shakes her head yes.

“I got to play in the garden, played with Lia and Nazelle, baked cookies and a big painting!” He then stands up, smiling as he takes Elsa from her hands.

“You didn’t have to meet me here,” Marie tells him as Dale kisses Elsa’s forehead. “I would’ve just got a ride back to the house.” He then looks over at her.

“I’ve been driving myself crazy missing you, and couldn’t bare to wait a minute longer,” he confesses with a smile. “Besides, I wanted to see my girls….” He then tickles Elsa’s belly, causing her to laugh as he just laughs in response.

“I just figured that you’d be busy today.” He then looks back over at her.

“I always have time for us, you more specifically.” He then leans in and kisses her lips. “And I’ve missed those…” She could only lick her own lips in agreement.

“Chase!!” Alyssa then lets out as she sees Chase heading over to them, running up to him for a hug.

“Chase?!?” Marie questions, glancing between Chase and Dale.

“Hey Alyssa,” Chase says as he gives her a big hug, before taking Elsa out of Dale’s arms. Dale gives him a simple nod, before pulling Marie close to him.

“Considering how much I’ve missed you, I figured we could use some time together,” he tells her, slipping his hand around her, firmly planted on her butt. “Besides, you’ve been busy with your responsibilities and planning the wedding that you need a break. Chase is going to watch the girls, while we have a night to ourselves.”

“We get to spend the night with you?!?” Alyssa questions and Chase shakes his head yes. “That’s awesome!” Chase could only look over at the pair of adults, seeing their eyes locked together. He could only bet how many minutes till they were wrapped in each other’s arms, reunited. There may be a third kid running around before long.

“That sounds like a good idea,” Marie gives in.

“Well, you both better get started on your fun,” Chase states. Everybody trades goodbyes, with Chase grabbing the girls’ stuff and heading off with them.

“My lady…” Dale says as he holds open the door, with a smile.

“My darling,” she replies, giving him a quick kiss before climbing in the car. He then closes the door, walking around to the other side, set for a fun night.

Leaving the airport, the pair were caught in heavy traffic, resulting in steady conversation about her latest trip to Pitronia and the happenings. It also saw them focus their eyes on each other at times, both biting their lips as thoughts fluttered through their minds.

“So what’s the plan for tonight, superstar?” Marie questions as she reaches over, placing her hand on his leg.

“I was thinking we’d go out for dinner, and then head back and spend a quiet night together,” he answers as he looks over into her eyes. “Unless you want to do something else….”

“That sounds like such a good idea. It’s just….” She lets her hand run up his leg to his crotch, placing lightly. “I’ve missed you so much…” He bit his lip, resisting the urge to let out a moan feeling her hand pressing against his package.

“We could skip dinner and head for desert?” She slips her hand underneath the rim of his jeans, forcing her hand down beneath the fabric of his underwear.

“I wouldn’t want to ruin your precious plans or spoil your appetite…” He bites his lip even harder, feeling her rub his package, wishing the traffic would move faster than it was.

“I think you’d be satisfying it more than…..oh man….” She then smiles, stroking him lightly as she locks eyes with his.

“Problem?” He then looks over at her and shakes his head no, leaning in for a kiss before focusing his eyes back on the road. “I can’t tell you how much I missed you…”

“This drive is way too long.” She then laughs as he takes a turn up at the next street, heading down the long alleyway. She releases him from her grasp, placing her hand on his on the shifter, eyes looking at each other briefly and locking, before his eyes returned to the road before them.

“Where are we going?” He just smiles as he takes another turn, pulling it behind the race shop, before reutnring the glance.

“I couldn’t wait. I figured here, behind the shop, we’d have some privacy.” He then flips the key off, turning to face her, leaning in and kissing her lips, as he pulls her close to him.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 58: “Alyssa’s Home!”

Monday evening

 

Alyssa walks into the house, slipping off her shoes as he glances into the living room.

An immediate smile formed on her face as she saw her father bonding with Robby, joking about the latest game that they were playing. She walks in quietly, glancing at the screen as she had to laugh at Robby beating him.

She knew that her dad was still there as he had texted her shortly after Chase got home. He sent her a quick update, which had put her heart at ease after the morning events and text from her dad then.

“Alyssa’s home!” Robby lets out, noticing his sister as Dale pauses the game, looking over at his daughter.

“How long have you been standing there?” He questions as she shrugs her shoulders. “How was your day?”

“Oh, so we’re going to be like the perfect home greeter with the questions?” She teases as he just shrugs his shoulders. “Actually, it was pretty good. We had a lot of positives to take from the weekend, and meetings went smoothly for once.”

“Did you smack Kevin for running you out of gas?” Robby questions, causing a shocked expression from both Dale and Alyssa. “That’s what Mommy said to do.”

“As much as it sucked, those things sometimes happen and Kevin mostly gets it right so we’ll let this one slide,” Alyssa reasons as she glances around the house. “Where’s Chase?” Robby points to the stairs.

“He was supposed to go upstairs and have a nap because he was so tired from the past couple nights,” Dale starts as Alyssa shakes her head, understanding. She couldn’t complain based on everything. “I went upstairs about an hour after he went up and he wasn’t in the bedsroom. Instead, he’s actually in the spare bedsroom curled up with your dog.” Alyssa then looks on surprised.

“Really?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“I grabbed a blanket and threw it over him. Hey, sometimes a dog can offer that comfort you need.” Alyssa shakes her head, understanding, but still caught off-guard.

“It’s just he’s not much of a cuddler…..”

“Maybe he knew Chase needed a cuddle.” Alyssa couldn’t reason it herself, but it didn’t bother her. “Anyways, I will go because he said that he didn’t want me sticking around after you got home. Text me if either of you need anything.” Dale then walks over, wrapping an arm around her. “I love you, and everything will be okay.”

“I know. I love you, Dad, and thank you.” She then gives Robby a hug, roughing up hair a little before watching the pair head out.

After closing the front door, she heads to the kitchen, glancing in the fridge with a smile. She had an idea for that night.

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

Chase comes down the stairs, stopping as he reaches the bottom, smiling at the smell. He then makes his way into the kitchen, the smile remaining as he saw Alyssa checking on the pasta.

“That smells so good,” he comments, causing her to look over.

“Well, well someone is up,” she replies with a smile of her own. She then walks over, wrapping her arm around him, and giving him a kiss before returning back to the stove. “Sleep well?”

“I did, actually.” He then sits at the counter. “Hey, if I scared you this morning, I’m sorry…” She then turns around to face him.

“It caught me right off-guard, Chase, but I understand. It’s okay. You don’t need to worry. I’m just glad that you talked it out with my dad, and went to see Eric. As long as you’re taking baby steps, that’s what matters.” Chase had to smile at the comment, having heard the same from Dale just earlier that day. “So, how’d you end up with my dog?”

“I had to go to the bathroom so I went and then as I walking back, I noticed that he had pulled out one of the rabbit stuffed animals he isn’t allowed again. So I snagged it back, put it up. I then laid down to pet him for a bit because I felt bad for taking it off of him, and I guess I fell asleep.” She then smiles, as it was a suitable explanation.

“I’m surprised he cuddled because that’s not like him, but I guess he figured you needed it.”

“You know you’re spoiling me by making this…” She then smiles as she places a plate of chicken parmesan in front of him, handing over the cheese next.

“I figured you could have your favorite to make you feel better.” She then gets her plate for herself, sitting down beside him.

“Thank you so much. I mean, I hate you pushing yourself with everyth-”

“Just because I only got one hand that I can use doesn’t mean that you need to play that damn sympathy card with me, Elliott. I can handle it.” He freezes upon her reaction, taking a deep breath of his own. He knew it was a touchy subject with her and tried to avoid normally.

The pair sit together eating dinner, lightly discussing the happenings of his day, followed by what happened at the shop for her.  Once they were both done, Chase takes the plates, placing them in the sink and washing them off. He then lets out a yawn as he places the plates in the dishwasher.

“Still tired?” Alyssa questions as she shows up behind him, wrapping an arm around him.

“A little, actually,” he answers as he turns around to face her.

“Well why don’t we forget about everything else for tonight, go upstairs, put on a movie and lay together watching it? That way you can catch up on some sleep.” He then runs his fingers through his hair.

“It’s only like 8, and you probably have something else you want to do, and it’s way earl-”

“You’re tired, and you need to get some rest. You can’t be walking around half asleep. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt for me to get some extra sleep either.” She then takes a pause, careful deep breath, as her eyes focus on his. “I know when you’ve been not sleeping at night because I’ve been waking up a couple times with nightmares.”

“Again?” She shakes her head yes. “Alyssa, I….”

“You don’t need to start on explanation or whatever. We all know why. Look, just like you’re figuring this out, I’ll figure that out with due time. I’m getting sleep when I can and handling things when I can – take the conversation with Regan on the way home. Don’t worry – I’ll be fine.”  He lets out a sigh, knowing that he couldn’t just do that. She had been there for him all morning.

“You tell me not to worry, but yet you spend all this time worrying about me and cooking me dinner. Remember – it goes both ways.” She knew that, as she lets out a sigh.

“Look, I don’t want to discuss it right now, okay? I’d rather just focus on getting some rest and then discuss it when I can. And don’t worry, I won’t put it off or do something stupid, okay?” He shakes his head yes.

The pair then let their fingers lace together, heading up the stairs with the dog closely following behind.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 57: “We’re going to see Chase…”

Dale smiled as he watched the car pull up to the house. He then glanced at Robby, before looking back out the window. He knew he couldn’t just stay where he was without checking up on him, but also couldn’t leave Robby by himself.

“Robby, grab your stuff,” he states as Robby looks up. He had grown used to it with his parents’ busy schedule. The instruction was always simple – but he knew they were going somewhere. He packs everything up in his backpack, slinging it over his shoulder as he walks over to his dad.

“Where are we going?” He asks as Dale puts his running shoes.

“We’re going to see Chase.” A smile immediately forms on the young boy’s face.

“Can I play a game or two with him? Wait – I need to show him the new car I created.” Dale smile as he was glad that each of his kids had formed a solid friendship with Chase. But he also knew that right now was quite the right time.

“Actually, Chase and I need to have an adult conversation, and I can’t leave you home alone so you’re coming.”  Robby then looks up at his dad, puzzled.

“I’m eight years old. Why can’t I be home alone?” Dale lets out a sigh as he leads his son out of the house.

“Because I don’t quite trust you yet.” Robby then looks back at his dad even more puzzled. “Ask your sisters. They weren’t allowed to be home alone till they were 12, and fortunately for you, the same remains.” Robby then climbed in the UTV, watching his dad climb in the other seat and they head across the property.

“Why do adults have adult conversations?” Dale could only roll his eyes. He should be used to lots of questions from the kids now.

“Because adults need to talk about things that little ears can’t hear.” Robby rolls his eyes, wishing he was older already.

“Does Alyssa know what you guys are talking about?” Dale shakes his head yes. “Could I ask her?” Dale then stops instantly, looking over at Robby.

“Under no circumstances are you to ask Alyssa about what I and Chase are talking about, nor are you to pressure Chase about it.” Robby then looks on puzzled as Dale looks back forward, taking a deep breath. Perhaps that was a little too blunt. “You know that someone kidnapped both Alyssa and Chase, right?” Robby shakes his head yes.

“That’s why you warned me once again about not trusting strangers and the signs.” Dale shakes his head, remembering the discussion. He had sat both Elsa and Robby down shortly after Alyssa went missing out of his own fear.

“When something big like that happens, it takes a lot out of someone emotionally. It brings thoughts of fear, pain, anger, confusion. When you hear me or your mom worrying about your sister, that is what we’re talking about. It’s going to take her time, and Chase too for them to come to grips with everything that happened emotionally and be ready to move forward like nothing happened. It’s a touchy subject for them both, so hence why I’d just prefer that you don’t say anything, okay?” Robby shakes his head yes, accepting. “That’s my little man.”

Dale then continues the short drive over, parking out front of the house. The pair then walk up to the door together, with Dale knocking. Dale felt himself fidgeting, nervous as to Chase’s reaction, waiting for him to open the door.

He couldn’t wonder anymore as he watched the door open before him, causing him to look back up.

“Were you watching?” Chase questions, figuring in his mind that someone would be there when he got home.

“Yeah – because I was worried about you,” Dale answers. “And I wanted to see how you made out.” Chase glances down at Robby, giving him a small smile, before looking back up at Dale.

“I made out pretty good, actually.” Dale easily accepts, seeing the glance towards Robby in wanting to keep conversation at a minimum with him present. “Everybody out right now?”

“Alyssa is still at JRM, Elsa went out with Jenna and Alexis, and Marie is…well, as you know, out of the country on errands. So that leaves just me and Robby. I told him I had to come over for ‘adult conversation’ but couldn’t leave him alone.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. He knew that Dale and Marie weren’t the strictest parents, but they kept concerns about their kids at a certain level.

“Well why don’t you both come in, and Robby, you can head into the front room and play a game or two. I got a new dirt racing game that Kyle Larson said is awesome, and so far – I have to agree.” The eyes light up on the little boy.

“Can I try it?” Chase shakes his head yes as Robby hurries in the house and to the living room.

“Thanks…” Dale comments as he follows Chase through the house to the kitchen. “I wasn’t sure what to do with him but knew I had to come see you….” Chase glances back at Dale.

“Hey, he’s a good kid,” Chase starts. “Not a single problem.” Chase then opens the fridge, grabbing them each a drink as Dale notices the pill bottle sitting on the counter.

“Niravam?” Chase shakes his head yes as he looks over.

“How’d you know?” Dale sits down on the stool by the counter.

“That’s what I got. It’s a good, mild anxiety drug. It should work.” Chase shakes his head, accepting, as he leans back against the counter. “So, you said back there things went well….”

“You know why I said that there.” Dale shakes his head, understanding. “I did what you said. I explained things as best as I could and he agreed with what we’re saying. He also gave me some suggestions and ways to work through it. He then said I could come back anytime and discuss with him if I felt like it and the time was right.” It was progress, and that’s all Dale wanted to hear. It was better than where they stood that morning.

“That’s good. Did you guys talk about the details at all?” Chase looks down at the ground, shaking his head no.

“I couldn’t bring myself to do it….” Dale heard the regret in Chase’s voice, knowing how much he did push himself at times.

“Hey, that’s alright. You made progress, right? He at least knows where you are, and you’ve got those to start. It’s a start. One step at a time. That’s all you need to do.” Chase knew that Dale was right in those words.

“Look, as much as I don’t mind talking with you, I really need to get some sleep. I’m dead on my feet tired today after not sleeping the past couple of nights and with everythin-”

“Hey, that’s perfectly understandable.” Dale then stands up, pushing the stool in. “I can come by later and we can talk then, or whatev-”

“Actually, would you mind sticking around even if I go upstairs and sleep? I just don’t want to be by myself totally.” Dale shook his head, accepting with ease. He knew the feeling, and remembered the times that he hated being apart from Marie and alone himself.

“Absolutely. I’ll give that new game a try with Robby.” Chase chuckles as he glances in the room at Robby.

“Yeah, good luck with it. He seems to be mastered it already.” Chase then heads for the stairs, though stops and looks back at Dale. “Thank you, and feel free to go home when Alyssa gets here. I’ll be fine with it.” Dale shakes his head, easily accepting.