Cabin Fears – Chapter 80: Check-Up


Alyssa takes a deep breath as they reach their destination.

She thought she was prepared for this. She believed she had come to grips with everything.

So why was she so nervous about today?

“Sweetheart, are you okay?” Marie asks, noticing the look on Alyssa’s face, which caught everyone’s attention immediately.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Alyssa answers as she climbs out of the Tahoe, taking another deep breath. Besides, what was the worse that they could tell her? She already knew what the news was set to be. It was just scheduling and sorting out details now. There was no reason to be scared.

“You know, you can tell us anything you’re feeling…” Alyssa keeps her eyes focused forward, not wanting to say a word on the topic.

“I can admit that I am nervous about what they’re going to say,” Dale adds, taking Marie’s lead in trying to encourage discussion. “It’s one thing to know you can’t feel it, but it’s another to realize it could be gone. There’s certainly nerves about how they go about that, healing time, worries into what could happen if it goes wrong. Any procedure is scary, right?” Alyssa slowly nods her head, but still didn’t want to say a word as there was no really point to doing that.

“We’re not going to learn anything standing in the middle of the parking lot, are we?” She questions back in return, leading the way to the building.

The group easily followed her through the front doors, followed by the elevator, and up to the fourth floor where her specialist was located. They walked the long hallway, quiet in their words as everybody tried to read Alyssa’s feelings, before reaching the office.

Without a drop of hesitation, knowing that’d just bring more thoughts, she entered the office and walked up to the reception desk.

“Alyssa Earnhardt,” she states her name, dropping a piece of identification on the desk for the security. “I have an appointment with Dr. Kunsafe.” She watches the secretary’s hands scurry across the keyboard, various screens popping up, followed by a quick glance at the ID.

“Of course,” the secretary states. “You do realize that we respect patient confidentiality and will never share the details of your file with someone without your authorization first, right?” Alyssa nods her head, having grown used to various doctors repeating that speech upon first meetings. It was supposed to be their assurance of celebrity security. “We also respect wanting to have support here, so there’s no issue in how many people you bring you as our offices are spacious enough. You may enter and head down to Door 3 for your appointment.” Alyssa smiles. It was almost like it was meant to be with the number, as she glances over at Dale. Maybe there was something to Chase’s theory of trying.

“Thank you.” She then heads down the hallway, followed by her group of people, who enter the door as requested. She immediately hops up on the bed, knowing that was where she’d be wanted, as everybody picks a spot to sit or stand in the room.

It didn’t take long before the doctor entered the room – which she recognized immediately following a quick appointment before her hospital release. It was actually insane to think that she’d gone three months since then without a single visit.

“Any feeling?” Dr. Kunsafe asks, immediately taking her arm into his hands without a single greeting. She knew that he was strict on keeping to business only from their previous encounters.

“Nope,” she answers, wishing that she had another answer to offer the doctor. “I’ve pinched myself, whacked it off something, slapped it – nothing.” The doctor chuckles, having grown used to patients doing crazy things to try and create something, not believing the reality they were dealt.

“We’re going to run some x-rays, as well as other scans, to see where the bones and skins stand. Then we can discuss your future.” She nods her head, accepting. That was why she was there, right? “Come with me, please.” She follows him out of the room as the group looks on, followed by glancing towards each other as the door closes behind them.

“She’s trying to act all confident and sure about this, but I damn well know that’s not the case,” Marie sounds off immediately. “You all saw it as we arrived, right? I mean, she looked freaked out.”

“It’s a scary subject to discuss,” Dale comments as he rubs Marie’s shoulders. “Just imagine if you were in her shoes. Could you imagine someone walking up to you and saying that you can no longer have your arm?” Marie shakes her head, knowing that she could never have faced that reality like Alyssa had so far.

“But she’s dealt with everything so good so far….”

“This is reality settling in for sure now, though. Before, it was okay I can’t do this but I still feel complete. Now it’s I need to do this – what if I am different? What if I am incomplete? What if I lose part of myself in the process? It can cause some skeptical thoughts.” Chase glances down, knowing that some of the thoughts didn’t relate to what Dale was saying, but rather his own words with Alyssa.

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Chase speaks up, catching both parent’s attention.

“Chase, you were there in the hospital when they told her that they would nee-” Dale starts.

“You don’t need to remind me, Dale.” Chase pauses, taking a deep breath, focusing on solely that moment alone. “There’s some experimental research going on elsewhere in the country. Using electric stimulation, they can bring that feeling back, or at least partially, or perhaps with a fake arm attached. What if we can try that and be successful?” He takes another deep breath, their late night discussions flashing through his mind. “We both have talked abou-”

“Without us?” Dale and Marie both question together as Chase lets out a sigh.

“Can I please explain?!?” They both relax, knowing he at least deserved that. Besides, Dale wasn’t willing to push Chase beyond boundaries, knowing what was going on. “We talked about focusing on the future, one step at a time, taking chances at times. My deal is I am supposed to take chances by entering that area of unknown, doing things that scare me, and try to figure some way to get rid of this anxiety in the process.  It could be something small, but do something. In turn, if I agreed, she was going to consider the options that were out there.”

“Are you sure you’re not creating false hope?” Dale questions, knowing that he couldn’t face his daughter being broken down again over this.

“We both agreed to keep our expectations low,” Chase answers. “We’d ask and explore, but not think that we were just going to get some miracle. We agreed to handle whatever thrown at us head-on, even if it wasn’t fair.” Dale nods his head, accepting.

“That takes a lot…..” Regan sounds off from his perspective in the corner. He was actually proud to hear those words spoken as he eyed Dale, noting it as a sign of progress. Being able to rationalize that way, discuss things, and set goals were certainly better than a lack of hope that they were seeing before.

“It’s all we can do. I’m going to get through this. She’s going to find her way through her demons. We’re both going to do this together because we both want that future together. I want my happily ever after.” Dale smiles, remembering how that was already stated in the past by them all through the chaos. How could they be royalty and not get to live the fairy tale ending?

“It’s coming….” Dale offers, returning the quiet nod back to Regan as Alyssa returns back to the room.

She climbs back up on the bed, glancing around the room, as she notices all eyes on her immediately. It was like an awkward silence had fallen over the room. She wondered if they had been secretly plotting something, or if it’d been just like this the whole time she was gone.

“Did they say anything?” Regan questions, breaking the silence and Alyssa shakes her head.

“He’s going to be back shortly,” she offers, remembering his exact words. Dr. Kunsafe had told her that he wanted some time to look over everything before openly discussing it with her and her family.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Chase questions, catching her eyes immediately. He felt safe asking her now that everybody else in the room knew what was set to happen amongst the discussion.

“Can I be honest? I am absolutely terrified at the thought. I am absolutely terrified to go through surgery. I am absolutely terrified to ponder options towards the future. I am terrified that I am going to find something, get my hopes set on that, and be crushed. I am absolutely freaked about this whole deal. I could never have done this alone.” She then stops, glancing down, remembering their discussion. She was scared, yes, but she had to be an example for Chase here. “But I am ready for what’s to come. I’m ready to face what he has to say, face what will happen next, and face the discussion that I want to open doors to. I have to do this for myself. I can’t run from this anymore…”


Cabin Fears – Chapter 77: “I thought this was done with….”

Saturday – Chicagoland Speedway

After notably sleeping in for a change, Chase Elliott went through the usual routine of getting ready for the day. While getting set, he flipped on the television coverage of XFINITY qualifying, hoping Alyssa put together a solid starting spot after yesterday’s struggles.

Letting out a sigh, he knew more came out yesterday than intended, and strangely was thankful for that. It brought relief to him in knowing someone else knew besides Alyssa what happened, and even offered some advice. Combined with having taken some himself, it didn’t seem as desperate as it had entering the weekend.

That didn’t mean his mind wasn’t pondering topics that morning as he sat down to have breakfast. Shaking his head, it was weird to even be thinking about her again, anyway. That had happened years ago and he faced those concerns with multiple conversations with multiple friends. Why were the feelings back and so harshly?

He takes out his phone, texting Regan, figuring that a conversation at some point today would help. Regan had been watching XFINITY time trials as he didn’t have anything to do until later on in the day when he got the message. Remembering the conversation with Dale yesterday, he didn’t hesitate to reply, and made his way over immediately.

Like other times, Chase quietly let him in without much words, shutting the door behind them. It was normally get settled, and then talk about everything.”

“You didn’t have to come right away,” Chase offers. “I mean, I hope I didn’t mess your schedule up.” Regan knew he couldn’t say the real reason for his direct answer, not sure that Chase knew about Dale coming to see him yesterday. However, he knew he probably would’ve come anyway.

“I wasn’t doing much to be honest,” Regan answers. “I was just watching time trials like everybody else. It looks like they got the back-up car working pretty good.” Chase nods his head, still feeling a touch connected to the guilt in that deal. What if she wouldn’t had been distracted with his business?

“It’s not that bad, but she’s still not exactly happy either.” Regan could tell, based on the fact that she’d qualified 17th for that afternoon’s race.

“I’m sure Kevin will get it figured out. He always did before.” Chase nods his head once again, knowing that the experience for Kevin at JR Motorsports was certainly nothing of shortage. “So, what’s on your mind?”

“Demi.” Regan was caught off-guard with the revelation, expecting something else based on the latest trail of events. “I thought this was done with. I was certain that I had sorted through the feelings of betrayal, messed up first time, jumping into too soon, and I don’t know – just everything connected. But it’s back, again.”

“What part of it is back?” Chase takes a deep breath, trying to sort through the puzzles as they swirled around in his mind.

“Just the fact of betrayal, it feeling totally wrong – almost dirty and to the point where I feel it was unfair and not my control, but it was as I fully consented to it.  That doesn’t sound crazy, does it?” Regan shakes his head, putting the pieces together. He just had to get Chase to connect the dots.

“So it’s a surprise to you to have these feelings, but what if it’s because they connect to something Kassandra or Randy did to you and Alyssa?” Chase looks on curiously, thinking it over, as the image flirts back in his mind. He also couldn’t erase the plan that Kassandra put together to make Alyssa think one thing and do another.

“They didn’t leave that off the table, but it wasn’t exactly done either…” Regan felt proud of his hint as it was working towards what he wanted.

“How do you mean?” Chase knew it hurt like hell to simply mention the words, but it had to be done to move forward. He had to start the conversation….

“Randy sent a photo of Alyssa all tied up – like he was set for something to happen. My mind immediately ventured to that very subject, and I even asked Dale out loud.  Remember when I went for that very long walk? That was partly why because I was just trying to erase that thought however I could, and stomach it really.” Regan remembered sitting in the house for what seemed hours that afternoon after Dale had called him and said Chase would probably want someone to talk to.

“You mention how you’re thinking about the betrayal, almost feeling forced, dirty, totally wrong, surreal about what happened to you and Demi. Could it be that you’re trying to feel for what could’ve happen to Alyssa in all your mind thoughts and continuing to relive that moment over?” Chase knew he couldn’t ignore that theory, as it’d make sense. Maybe this was the mind’s way of trying to wrap itself around it.

“That’s possible, I guess. I don’t know. It just came to me randomly….”Regan knew that was far from the truth.

“Had you been thinking about the image at all more so than normal lately?” Chase nods his head, but didn’t want to divulge into what happened. It was bad enough explaining it to Dale.

“Alyssa and I had a complete heart-to-heart breakdown because I knew I needed to face everything. It probably spurred the thought…”  Regan knew better than probably from what he had been told already.

“I wouldn’t doubt that because of the emotional connection that you have to it. I mean, I’d feel something to if I was in your shoes with Megan.”

“I just don’t know what to do with those thoughts….” Regan wasn’t quite sure he knew either, but he went with his usual motto – speak from the heart as the advice normally paid off.

“Remember what we talked about before. At that time, you cared about her and damn Chase, you can’t fault yourself for that. It’s human nature to care, right? That’s just part of who we all are. There’s also the factor that you did it because you wanted to feel that love and erase the pain that you were trying to run away from. Everything adds up to not being the worst case scenario, too. I know it sucks, and damn I know it hurts, but it’s understandable…”

“It just feels so wrong as I look back….” Regan nods his head, understanding.

“I know, and there’s so many times where we all wish that we could turn the clock hands back in time and redo things as we’d probably do them much better the second time around. Everybody makes mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them. That’s why you’re talking about it now, and that’s why you’re taking things slow with Alyssa and letting her be absolutely certain.”

“You’re right….” Regan smiles, as he gives Chase a pat on the leg.

“Of course. I’m never wrong…” Chase just rolls his eyes. “Seriously, though, one day a time. Keep repeating that advice given to you then over and over. Also, the image – just try and blank it out, or remember what truly happened. It’s hard because some things just don’t want to leave, but I believe in you. I always believe in you.”

“That sounds like the way one lover would talk to another…” Regan chuckles, realizing that now.

“I didn’t mean it like that at all! I just meant that I’ve always had your back.” Chase nods, having lost count of the amount of times they talked to each other.

“Thank you.” Regan smiles.

“Keep doing what you’re doing…”


“There you are!” Cindy lets out, causing Chase to look her way surprised as he walked out onto pit road. “I was beginning to worry when you weren’t out here for time trials.” Chase lets out a sigh. No matter how things changed, a mother’s worry always stayed the same.

“I slept in and got talking with Regan a little bit,” Chase answers as he gives her a quick hug. Alyssa glances over, smiling a little as she overheard that he had been talking with Regan some.

“Everything is okay, right?” Chase nods his head as he makes his way over to Alyssa.

“And how’s my princess?” Alyssa smiles as it was nice to be back in his arms once again.

“Decent, I guess,” she answers as she glances back at the car. “It’d be nice if this was running a little better – but oh well.” Chase remembered the words from Regan.

“Listen, you’ll get it working in the race and have a good run,” he offers. “I believe in you and Kevin.”

“I trust that you’re correct. Did everything go okay with Regan?” Chase nods his head, satisfied by the conversation.

“It just helped me get some thoughts in the open…” She smiles, glad that progress was being made slowly.

“One step at a time, right?” He nods his head as he keeps her held close.

The pair remained like that till opening ceremonies, standing there with their fingers locked together, before sharing a kiss as she climbed in the car set to start the day off.

It  wasn’t the day that she envisioned, though, as they struggled with the handling throughout, ultimately crossing the finish line in 18th. Letting out a sigh as she climbed out afterwards, she was glad this wasn’t the first round of the playoffs.

She just hoped they got their act together before next weekend.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 76: Chase’s Confession

Friday – Chicagoland Speedway

Dale sits there, listening intently as Chase detailed everything.

He was proud of the pair for breaking down what happened and sharing their feelings with each other. He was shocked to see how much the simple image had affected Chase, but understood where he was coming from with that. He felt himself twirl with emotions, from good to bad, as he just sat there listening.

He was surprised when Chase recounted the tale about the shower. He was in shock over the trail of events – how could that just happen without memory? He was glad the pair had connected, but also understood the continued concern from Alyssa right now. In truth, he was as equally concerned about Chase himself, too.

“Certainly, this is something that I should’ve addressed before we flew out here to Chicago – I know that now,” Chase continues. “From advice from Jeff to seeing the way it’s affecting Alyssa, I should’ve said or done something. But I just couldn’t bring myself to speak about it. I also apologize for causing the rif-”

“You don’t need to apologize,” Dale cuts him off as he glances up, finally. “I only went off on you because of how much I worry about my little girl. I know better than to do that because you always are looking out for her. It just came out of anger, okay? And while I understand your concern for my well-being in not wanting to bring up certain subjects to me, don’t ever think that. I can handle anything if it makes you both feel better. I’ve been there, remember?” It also didn’t hurt that no matter what, Dale always had a tinge of blame on him for what happened to Chase no matter what was said.

“I get it. I just felt bad about opening old wou-”

“Don’t ever!” Chase simply freezes, nodding his head in acceptance. There was no way around it. “Now, obviously I can get why you were off your game since you were worried about him, from emotions to a re-occurrence, no matter what he told you. In exchange, he was trying to give you leeway to focus solely on your game while handling things his typical way – which he is slowly realizing, like always, is a complete failure.” The couple couldn’t argue with Dale, simply nodding their heads in acceptance.

“Like I told Alyssa, she doesn’t need to worr-”

“I can’t help it, Chase! I love you – damn it, and I’m sorry but that comes with love. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to handle it.” Dale glances over at Chase, intrigued to see his reaction to Alyssa’s words.

“I understand; it’s the same way that I keep worrying about you, too.  But, really, I’m being honest here. There’s a reason why we put in certain precautions about where I go and who is around me – like always making sure someone I can really trust is there, because we know this is possible.” He then glances into her blue eyes. “I have everything under control here, and to be honest – being at the track, cheering for you is when I feel my best without a worry. It allows me to forget everything for a couple days. If you can keep telling yourself that, and understand that I am going to handle this in which way I need to, then I ask it gives you some comfort. I don’t want you to throw away this year because of me.” Alyssa nods her head, accepting.

“I can try, okay?” She questions and he nods his head, accepting. “And Dad, can I ask that both you and Kevin cut some slack to me and Chase? Obviously you get it now having heard everything…” Dale nods his head, knowing that a talk was probably in order with Kevin. He would understand anyway, having been there when the photos were dropped off.

“As long as you give Kevin and the focus they deserve, I can request that for you,” Dale offers and Alyssa nods her head, accepting. Some compromise was better than none. “And Chase, I know it’s hard and difficult.  But you have to know that you’ll work it out, okay?” Chase nods his head.

“Well, I’m going to go check on that back-up car. Thank you for understanding…” Dale and Chase both give her a quick hug before she leaves. Chase then glances back at Dale, knowing there was more to be said.

“Go on…” Chase instructs as Dale lets out a sigh, leaning back against the wall.

“Please tell me that you haven’t thought of running from this….” Dale pleads as Chase looks down immediately. “Damn it, Chase!”

“But I haven’t, right? Isn’t that the key?” Dale watches him closely as Chase looks back up at him. “I thought about it that morning. I’ve thought it about it a couple times since. But I could never, ever do that. We’ve talked about that. There’s no way I could just leave her.” Dale nods his head, remembering the discussion.

“I just don’t want a repeat of what happ-”

“That’s not going to hap-”

“It’d be 10 times worse because you’d break her heart into piec-”

“I promise you – that’s not happening!” Dale simply accepts the words from Chase, trusting the young man before him as always. It gave his heart some comfort in trying to work out the pieces moving forward. “Is that all?”

“Are you trying to avoid discussing this, like always?” Chase sighs, and shakes his head no. He knew he couldn’t do that…..

“I just didn’t know whether you were done or not.” Dale crosses his arms, having a couple other thoughts on the mind. He couldn’t erase his own discussion with Regan and Tony now.

“What about just giving up? Is that become a thought?” Chase was surprised by the question, but understood the reasoning. Dale had heard the previous rant and knew where the mind could go at times like these from experience.

“Once or twice….” Dale shakes his head as he could hear the warnings from Tony on repeat.

“You can’t be doing that, because it just takes that one thought for the rug to be dropped out from underneath you. In no way whatsoever, you can’t ever give up.” Chase knew that, remembering the couple of times he had spoken to Tony. It was all about baby steps.

“Those thoughts don’t last for long – and to be honest, I have a safe word to go with that. If I feel that down to the point of almost hitting rock bottom, Regan and I agreed that all I have to text him is “bubbalicious” and he’ll be right there to have my back, and figure it out.” Dale couldn’t help but smile. It was no wonder why Regan was confident in Chase’s future based on steps being taken he hadn’t seen himself.

“Well, if you can’t get a hold of Regan, please, text me.” Chase nods his head, accepting. It was why he had texted Dale that morning at the house. “And I meant what I said. You’re going to figure this out…”

“So how do I train my mind to just forget that image and stop having those thoughts?” Dale remembered the image clearly himself, as he takes a deep breath.

“Every time it begins to pop in your head, repeat what actually happened. Repeat that she was just laying there, tied down, restricted from doing anything, not tormented in anyway. You just have to keep reminding yourself till it’s stuck in your mind. It’s like they told you and Alyssa for nightmare and retraining yourselves; give that nightmare another story attached to it.”  Chase nods his head, accepting.

“I’ll give it a try….” Dale then pulls him into a hug.

“I meant what I said – every word.” Chase nods his head. “I got to go take care of business, but you know where to find me.” Chase nods his head once again as Dale heads out on his way.

Chase sat back on the couch, letting everything soak in as he tried to process the advice while focusing on the future ahead. He knew he could do this – he had done it before. He just needed to keep taking it one step at a time. This conversation was a step in that direction. He just needed to get through the weekend smoothly, followed by the meeting with Eric this week – that’d be another couple steps. Then focus on the rest of the things going on around him, and maybe he would figure it out over time.

Maybe he’d get back in a racecar before the year was done yet after all.


Regan worked his way through the garage area, having finished his work with MRN Radio for the day as he double checked his text messages. He smiled as he had found the meeting spot, seeing Dale leaning against one of the JR Motorsports trailers.

Dale gives Regan a finger nod to follow, and the pair immediately head inside with the door slipped closed behind them. Dale didn’t need Chase knowing that he had gone to seek out Regan after the conversation.

“You said this was important?” Regan questions and Dale nods his head.

“When did you and Chase come up with bubbalicious?” Dale questions as Regan looks on surprised.

“Is everything oka-”

“You don’t need to worry – too much. I mean, he’s fine and she’s fine, but there are some concerns. Just please answer…” Regan takes a deep breath, thinking back.

“It was probably the second time that we talked about things in how it could be tough at times and he was still battling with these emotions and brain tricks they were causing. It was probably a couple days after I met up with you and Tony. Like I said then, I knew he could get a hold of somebody if it came right down to it and start doing the right thing.” Dale nods his head, remembering. It was a little therapy in knowing Chase had actually followed those details.

“I just gave him the same offer, too, in case you’re busy. Let’s just say that you may be getting it sooner than later…” Regan then looks on concerned.

“I asked if everything was okay, Dale…” Dale takes a deep breath, knowing there was no other way to explain this than to break down all the details of what had happened since Wednesday. “Oh my….”

“Yeah…” Regan leans back against the counter, trying to figure out something to say.

“But he said that he’s going to take the right steps, correct?” Dale nods his head, remembering Chase’s words.

“He has an appointment scheduled with Eric on Monday I believe, and he asked me for advice on what to do about that photo thought.” Regan could respect that as at least there was the right steps being taken.

“But you still called me….” Dale crosses his arms, glancing outside as he watched Chase and Alyssa walk by together.

“Let’s just say that I don’t fully believe he has the grip on it that he wants us to believe. There’s more than just that image, and you know that yourself. Besides, he’s thought about running again and the thought of giving up…” Regan wanted to curse out loud immediately, but knew that wouldn’t help the situation. He needed to give reassurance to a rough situation.

“While none of that is good, let’s take a couple steps of faith here. He at least spoke to you about it and broke down what happened – even if it took some interesting circumstances. He also admitted both of those facts to you, while stating strategies to be taken. The first step is admitting you have a problem – he’s done that. Therefore, I don’t know if I’m as panicked as you are.” Dale wondered if maybe he was worrying more than he should – which was nothing new. He was glad that Regan was always understanding about that, though, and willing to explain things.

“But you’ll be on alert for something in case?” Regan nods his head.

“You don’t have to ever question that, Dale. I’d do anything for him….”

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.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 54: “That sucks….”

After waiting for what felt like forever, Alyssa’s car is pushed into the garage area with her still sitting in it. She just shakes her head as she climbs out, laying her head on the roof.

“That sucks,” was all she could manage, before she turned around to face the media.

Everybody stood back, allowing her to handle the questions asked of her from the various media members. Once the last question was asked, Regan was the first to walk over, wrapping both arms around her.

“I hated to see that,” he comments. “I told Kevin he should do a better job at calculating gas mileage.” Alyssa chuckles a little as she glances over his shoulder at the crew chief.

“Kevin does an awesome job on the pit box so I couldn’t trade him in,” she replies. “Besides, he had no idea that there’d be an overtime.” Regan looked back at the crew chief, before facing her.

“I’d rather be prepared than left out to dry.” Alyssa lets out a sigh, knowing he’s right as she leans back against the car.

“Oh well. Nothing we can do now, right?” He shakes his head yes in agreement before walking away, allowing the rest of the hugs to continue for her.

Once the hugs were complete, she headed into the hauler with Chase in toe to change, set to return home as soon as possible as she just wanted to leave the day behind. She emerges from the trailer shortly after, giving a hug to Graham and thanking him for coming.

“I’ll be in touch once your season is over,” he tells her with a wink and she could only smile.

“That’s a deal,” she replies as she watches him walk away. She then looks over at Chase. “Should I tell him that Marco has also offered me a ride with his team, too?” Chase could only look over in surprise.

“You’re serious about this open-wheel thing, huh?” She shakes her head yes.

“Is that okay with you?” He shakes his head yes, knowing that she’d be careful and safe – despite concerns from other parties. “I’d like to do the double one year, and I’d like to try Iowa and a street course. I need to start somewhere so might as well start with a test. It’s just a matter of whether I accept Graham’s offer or Marco’s.” Chase thought it over, knowing both sides had positives.

“I say that you should accept whatever you feel most comfortable with. Given how Graham helped you with tips this weekend, that may be a good spot.” She shakes her head in agreement, though wondered how Marco would handle the news once it got back his way.

With everything set in place, the group boarded the plane to go home, each taking their respective seats. It was a quiet initial ride, with each person busy with a book, or a game on their phone – even some sleeping, too.

Alyssa glanced over, seeing Chase had closed his eyes and was getting some much needed rest. She knew that he needed it with stressing himself on some things, and still continuing to push through what happened.

As he sleeps, she slowly stands up and makes her way back a couple rows, sitting down beside Regan – who gives her a cautious glance.

“I thought you’d be curled up with the boyfriend tired from your day,” he comments as she shakes her head no with a sigh.

“Don’t feel like sleeping actually,” she replies. “I just want to say thank you for that discussion before the weekend. It helped, in a small way.” Regan puts his phone down, focusing on her as a small smile forms.

“Glad to help, and you know the line of communication is always open.” She shakes her head yes as she glances forward, wondering whether this was a good idea.

“I was hoping that was the case, actually. I admit that I’ve talked to Elsa, Karsyn, Cindy and Chase about a lot of the details into what happened. But – there’s the thought of when I was by myself. I haven’t really said much.” Regan knew it was odd to be having the conversation while flying in the air with everybody, but he wasn’t about to say no.

“If you want to talk about it now, I am willing to listen…” She then takes a deep breath, knowing the sooner she got it out, it was better.

“If you don’t mind, actually.” He focuses his eyes on her, ready for her to continue. “I was over at JR Motorsports that day. I was just there for a normal, usual scheduled day. Heck, it was supposed to be like any other day. But anyways, I got done and headed outside, ready to head home. I had parked in my usual spot and headed out of the shop.” She then stops, glancing down as she takes a deep breath. “I walked through the parking lot, walking up to the car, easily set to go home….”

“Then what happened?” Regan reaches out, placing his hand on hers as he could see her tensing up.

“Before I knew it, he showed up behind me, arm wrapped around my waist, other hand on my mouth. I tried to bite, kick, scream – but yet I felt light headed immediately…” Regan could already tell what they did.

“Chloroform.  It’s the oldest trick in the book.” She shakes her head, having already assumed that.

“I woke up awhile later – I don’t know how long, or whatever, but it must’ve been awhile later. I was sitting in a room with bright lights. Nothing in the room – bright white light, bare walls, a rough bed. That was all the room contained. I stayed awake for as long as I could from the first time that I woke up, trying not to fall asleep as I didn’t want to chance anything. But I did, eventually.” Regan could only wonder as to the events that she was going to tell.

“Did they do anything?” Alyssa looks over, shaking her head no.

“I woke up in the very same spot, no attention given, just a simple room. I walked around for a bit, but knew I had to conserve energy so I sat back down. As I was in there, I could hear the voices outside – Randy and Kassandra. I heard her wondering whether they were doing the right thing. He then said something about needing a reason to make them worry more before asking for something.” Regan felt his stomach turn at the thought of what they could’ve done.

“Did they do anything to hurt you?” Alyssa could only  shrug her shoulders at the thought as she knew the true pain only came once they had both her and Chase.

“Not really much before Chase got there. I mean, they know how to scare the crap out of someone and torment them, but  there wasn’t anything too physical.” Regan lets out a sigh. He knew that was part of Randy’s appeal, given the previous times he had sat down and talked things through with Chase. It was why it made it so hard for Chase to talk about things, his own thoughts twisting in confusion.

“Go on….” She then takes a deep breath, wondering how to begin.

“He entered the room shortly after, saying hello and telling me there was a plan for me. That was when I found out that he had a gun, as he pulled it out and pointed it at me. He then told me that I had to come with him or else he was going to shoot me. I reluctantly agreed.” Regan felt his stomach twist more in wonder as to what was to come from her, knowing what Randy was capable of.

“Anybody would’ve done the same thing….”  She knew that, but it didn’t make her feel any better.

“He led me down a hall to another room – same bright white light, but yet there was a bigger bed in this room, and this was a torturous spot as it had everything to strap you down to it. He made me lay down on the table, and immediately Kassandra began strapping me down.” She then feels a lump in her throat, quickly swallowing it. “As she was strapping me down, Randy took the gun and tucked it in my pants.”

“Oh gosh….” Regan then wraps an arm around her shoulder, seeing how she was getting choked up by the discussion.

“He removed the gun shortly after, instructing Kassandra to take photos. He then let me drink some water, which I immediately grabbed chance to because I was so thirsty. They then left the room. He returned twice a day to give me water, but that was it – other than that, he left me to my own thoughts till Chase came.” Regan found himself letting out a small sigh, glad that it wasn’t worse for her by herself.

“I imagine you had a lot of thoughts during that time…” She shakes her head yes.

“Regan, it’s not like he did anything during that time. He didn’t hurt me. He just restrained me. But yet, I feel scared and shiver at the thought.” Regan pulls her a little tigher as he thinks it over.

“You’re right that he did nothing physical – but fear is so powerful sometimes. It makes you do and feel things that you never would otherwise. Look at Chase and what he did. Sure, they didn’t hurt you per se – but they made you feel things. They made you imagine things and feel fear. He made you uncomfortable with no lack of control, touching you in that spot, and vulnerable. The feeling of vulnerability and knowing that someone can so easily overpower you is worse than anything.” She shakes her head, understanding as she looks over at him.

“So it’s okay to feel like I am about this?” He shakes his head yes.

“Absolutely. Anybody would in your position. Just ask your parents and Chase. It’s easily reasonable.”  She then glances down, feeling a couple tears, before looking back.

“How do I make it go away?”

“You just got to assure yourself that you’re safe and everything is okay. Keep reminding yourself of the good things, and the fact that you survived. Keep reminding yourself that you can overcome obstacles. Make yourself feel that you can outpower that next evil guy that should step in your path. Also, know that your loved and you have people that would do anything for you, no matter the day or time. It’ll be okay…” A small smile creeps on her face as she lays her head back.

“Thanks Regan.”

“You’re welcome. Now, you better go back and sit up with lover boy or he may get worried if you’re not there when he wakes up.” She then chuckles as she stands up. “You have my number…”

She then makes her way back to her seat, sitting back beside Chase as she lays her head against him.

“Are you okay?” He whispers, as she looks at him surprised. “I know you left. I know you went to see Regan. It’s okay…” He then lifts his arm up, allowing her to get a little more comfier against him.

“I’m fine,” she answers. “I just needed to talk to him for a bit about everything.”

“I know, and I understand. I’ve done it plenty of times. But know that you’re always safe in my arms, okay?” She shakes her head yes. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 50: A Trip to SHR


Chase waits patiently, glancing around the foyer.

It felt weird to be standing in the gift shop of another race team’s shop. It felt weird being at another team’s shop, period. After spending the past several years between Hendrick, GMS and JRM, walking into a shop that ran a different manufacture just felt strange.

However, he was there for a reason. He knew there was something that he needed to do before he and Alyssa boarded the plane together and headed off to Road America for the race that weekend.

“Mr. Stewart will see you now,” he hears, catching his attention. “Just go through the doo-”

“Is his office in the same spot that it’s always been?” Chase cuts her off, remembering one of the few times he had walked through the halls before SHR switched to Ford. The female shakes her head yes. “I’ve got this. Thank you, though.”

He walks through the store, catching a few curious glances from fans who were there shopping, before going through the set of doors. He walls up the steps and takes the walk down the hallway, glancing around in surprise of some of the changes made to the shop since his last visit there.

He reaches the office door he wants, glancing into the office and knocking on the door.

“Come in,” Tony says as Chase follows instructions, walking up to the desk. “You better not be here to steal secrets, and I’d be damn surprised if you were here asking for a ride. I mean, I know Jeff and Marshall can be crazy, but that’s extreme.” Chase chuckles as some days, he wanted to fling Marshall across the room.

“Negative on both of those actually,” he states. “I’m leaving for Road America in a couple hours, but I wanted to stop by and say thank you.” Tony then looks at him, surprised. “I’m serious, Tony. Our discussion at Bristol may have been by random chance, but it’s shoved me in the right direction quicker than I probably was going myself. It forced to take a step back, put things into perspective and do something. That’s something that I’ve never done, ever.”

“Chase, you don’t need to thank me. I’ve known you my whole life. You’re an amazing ki – well, I can’t say that anymore as you’re actually an amazing man. You’ve grown to be a great guy.  I did that out of courtesy and friendship for you. You were one of those who stood by me through everything that I did, despite some people’s comments, and I simply repaid the favor. I know what it’s like to go through hell and come back stronger on the other side.  I wanted the same for you.” Chase smiles as the hope for the future was nice to hear, especially considering at times it was tough to just take one step each day.

“Well, regardless, thank you. I appreciate it.” Tony couldn’t help but smile as it’d only been a week since their discussion, but he saw the change before him.

“You’re welcome. I wish you and Alyssa the best – just make sure my wedding invitation doesn’t get lost in the mail.” Chase laughs as he could only smile at the thought of marrying her one day down the road.

“I’ll make sure to hand deliver it when the day comes.”

“And I don’t want to hear of any crazy incidents this weekend. Know your limits, don’t test them, and take things at whatever speed is necessary – whether that’s time by yourself, how you spend your days in the garage, or anything.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. He knew there was going to be no self trips through the garage this weekend or any till he got the anxiety and nerves under control. He wasn’t willing to repeat that incident, again.

“Yes sir.”

“By the way, how have you been dealing with that anxiety, if you don’t mind me asking?” Chase didn’t mind the question, knowing that he could trust Tony with everything he said.

“I haven’t really gotten to dealing with that yet. I’ve dealt with fears, remembering what happened and worries.  I haven’t touched the anxiety. I think it’ll start to settle as I deal with everything else so I don’t think it’s something I necessarily need to focus on. However, I know if it doesn’t then I need to express that to someone, and maybe go see Eric again.”  Tony shakes his head, understanding. He could see where Chase was coming from in the steps that he was taking.

“Well, I wish you the best and know that you can always talk to me. You’ll figure it out.” Chase smiles and shakes his head in agreement.

While Chase was at Stewart-Haas Racing, Alyssa was also doing her own work. She made a phone call to Regan while getting ready to go, asking for him to come over. The pair then made their way down the backyard, climbing the steps up into the treehouse.

“When I was younger, I’d come up here when I needed a spot to think or be alone, and it just seemed to always calm me down,” she states as they walk inside. “I’d come up here, just lie on the floor, and put my thoughts in order.” She then goes to her usual spot, sprawling out as Regan sits on the couch.

“It’s a peaceful spot so I can’t blame you,” Regan tells her. “I used to go to this nature conservation area with these winding paths and hike through them when I was younger. Nature just has that calming effect.” She shakes her head in agreement as she looks over at him. “So you called me because you wanted to talk?”

“Yeah, if you don’t mind. I mean, I know that you and Chase talk all the time and we’ve known each other a long time. I’ve heard you’re good for advice, and I just thought this topic was perfect for you.” Regan wasn’t sure about that assumption, but was willing to go with it.

“I’ve always said the door is wide open to talk whenever you both need to.” She was glad for that assumption.

“You know Chase pretty well, so you’ll understand where I’m coming from with what I’m going to talk about. I mean, I hate that this is bugging me because it doesn’t feel right due to how well I know him. But, I can’t stop thinking about it as it’s been on my mind all week.” Regan felt his nerves growing with her words, wondering what could be going on as the possibility was endless.


“He snapped at me on Monday.” Regan takes a calming deep breath, remembering Chase had mentioned something about that in a brief exchange they had. According to Chase, everything was worked out – but  Alyssa’s demeanor said otherwise.

“What happened to cause it?” Alyssa thinks it over, shaking her head now. It felt ridiculous looking back on it.

“Elsa called me to ask how he was doing, since he tripped over a rock in the Hendrick parking lot. I said fine because he hadn’t said anything otherwise. I then asked him about it, and he brushed it off immediately. I then pushed the issue, knowing there was something on his mind and he kept denying it. I kept pushing, though, and he then said he was going to go for a walk.  I then pushed again, and he snapped – just telling me to leave him alone.” Regan shakes his head, understanding. He got where Chase was coming from in snapping, and knew that was typical response for him when pressured from experience.  However, he also got how that’d make Alyssa feel.

“Have you guys talked about it since?” She shakes her head yes, remembering the conversation afterwards.

“I immediately began crying, feeling hurt. He then reached out to me, immediately apologizing.  He then explained that he didn’t mean to hurt me, and how he doesn’t like to talk about what happened and avoid it. Instead, as you probably know, he bottles it up and tries to avoid the topic – as he was with me. He brought up how he made himself so sick one time, and then when he ran away. I then  instantly felt fear, demanding he never run away, which he said he never could do that to me.” She then stops, glancing away, as she didn’t want to think about that being a possibility.

“I know how much he loves you, Alyssa. He cares about you so deeply.  Hence why he apologized immediately and why he immediately explained why – wanting you to feel better. You don’t need to worry about him running away or anything – trust me. And as far as what happened, I know he didn’t mean it.” She looks up at Regan, shaking her head in agreement.

“I know he didn’t mean it, and I don’t hold it against him, Regan. I could never do that, really. I mean, we talked about it more in developing the right ways moving forward. He expressed the want to change how he handles things, and I apologized for pushing him knowing that I was wrong. We worked it out, perfectly.” Regan then sat there confused as it seemed everything was fine – which he was glad to see. However, it didn’t explain why he was sitting in the treehouse.

“It’s great that you worked it out and got through that. I applaud you both. But if everything is okay, why did you call me?” Alyssa knew the exact reason as she sits up, pulling her legs close to her body.

“I know he’s hurting. I know what he’s like when he’s hurting. I know this is difficult.  Regan, I want to help him. I don’t want to see him suffer through this pain and everything. You’ve always been there, great for advice and seemed to help him move forward on a variety of topics. How do I help him?” Regan knew the answer without even thinking.

“Be there for him. When he feels the need to cry, be there to hold him. When he feels the need to lash out or talk about things, listen to him. When he wants some space, let him have it but assure him that you support him and love him. All you can do is be supportive. When the time is right, he’ll come around and work his way through this. But you can’t force or push him –he needs to do that on his time. Till then, you need to be supportive.” Alyssa wanted to scream as it seemed like nothing. She could only wish there was a magic button to hit and make everything better.

“And what about when he is talking, though? What about the advice or response to tell him?” Regan knew that at times it could be difficult to come up with a response, having been there before.  However, it was another easy piece of advice.

“Speak from the heart. Tell him the truth and tell him what your heart tells you. It may scare you at times or not feel right, but it is right. I’ve always just been honest with my responses and it has worked. That’s all that you can do. Tell him advice based on your own experience, and be honest. If you really get stumped, then you can then suggest speaking to someone who may be better to talk to. I’ve done that a couple times.” She shakes her head, understanding.

“Thank you.” He then smiles as he pats her shoulder.

“But in the same way, remember to take care of yourself. You can’t just focus on making his world perfect. We all know that you went through a lot as well, and you need to work through that too. Make sure you take time for yourself, and work on things, okay?” She shakes her head yes.

“And you’ll always be here to listen if I need you?”

“Absolutely.” She then stands up and walks over, giving him a hug.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 36: Night Wanderer Con’t

Chase and Regan walk back to the motorcoach, stopping as they reach there.

“Thank you,” Chase says and Regan simply shakes his head in response.

“You know what I told you, right?”  Regan questions and Chase shakes his head yes.

“So Chase, are you going to explain this little adventure?”  Chase then faces forward, surprised to see Cindy sitting there right before him. Even though he was a grown up now, he still felt a lump form in his throat. “I got a phone call from Alyssa that she awoke in the middle of the night, alone, nowhere as to your whereabouts, wondering if you came to see me. I told her that wasn’t the case. Bill is in there right now, but what about you?”

“I should’ve left her a note – I apologize,” Chase replies, feeling bad as despite his own feelings, he knew there was also a lot going through Alyssa’s mind. “I couldn’t get to sleep and decided to go for a walk to clea-”

“What did we say about being alo-”

“Mrs. Elliott, I already gave him the lecture,” Regan cuts her off, knowing where this was going. He knew they didn’t need to go this far right now. “He gets our concerns and worries, and has made certain that he won’t wander off again. For the time being, he wasn’t by himself as I joined him and we had a talk. I should’ve thought of Alyssa, but I was focused on his wellbeing.” Cindy simply shook her head, accepting Regan’s explanation. She always liked the relationship that Chase had with him.

“Is everything okay now?” Cindy questions and Chase just lets out a sigh.

“If I’m being truthful, it’s far from being okay,” he starts. “I still got a lot to work through and a lot to figure out. But Regan helped me brush the surface, get some perspective, and work towards taking the next step. I’ll be fine for tonight.”

“You know that I love you, care about you, and am here right?” Chase shakes his head yes as he reaches out, giving his mom a hug.

“I know I’m still your little boy, even all grown up. I’ll be fine, Mom.” He then heads inside, set to see Alyssa. Regan takes a deep breath, turning on his heels and set to walk away.

“Regan?”  He freezes immediately, turning around to face Cindy. “What’s your take?” Regan wanted to be fully open with her, but remembered the promise he kept to Chase always.

“The discussions that Chase and I have are between us only,” he starts. “That was our agreement always. I was only supposed to say something if I felt there was an extreme need. By what I heard tonight, it’s what he said.” Cindy simply shakes her head accepting, but was frustrated with the lack of details.

“Can’t you tell me anything?” She questions as Regan takes a deep breath. He debated what to say from the conversation.

“He admitted that he’s got quite a bit to work on and the rough details. He admitted that he isn’t sure where to start, who to talk to – but knows that he has options. It’s just figuring out the best first step to take. He admitted that amongst that knowledge, there are times that he feels lost in trying to work it out. That’s when I reminded him that he has me, others, and never hesitate to get in touch to talk. We then finished it off with a small discussion about Alyssa and them moving forward, together. Happy?” Cindy shakes her head yes, though couldn’t help but let out a sigh. There were certainly concerns based on those comments from Regan.

“Regan, is it ever going to be normal again?”  Regan didn’t know the answer, for sure. The truth was that things like this changed you. However, he had a strong belief.

“He’s gotten through it before, he can do it again. Despite his own thoughts, he’s strong deep down and can overcome anything. Cindy, I know you worry and I know it breaks your heart, but I can tell you that he’s amazing and it’ll be fine. Be patient.” She then smiles as she walks over and gives Regan an unexpected hug.

“Thank you.” He simply accepts the hug with a smile.

“You’re welcome. Now, can I head back to bed?” She shakes her head yes as he heads off. She then waits for Bill to come out before heading off herself.

Inside, Chase apologized to Alyssa for running off without leaving a note or anything, before explaining brief details as to why he went for a walk and the discussion with Regan.

“You know that you can always talk to me, right?” Alyssa questions and Chase shakes his head yes. “I mean it – no matter what it is, I’m here for you, just as you say you’re here for me. We’re in this together, forever. I love you.” She then kisses his lips lightly.

“I love you, too, and I’m sorry,” he replies before lying back down in the bed with her. He lets her cuddle right back up against him as he wraps an arm around her. “Back to needing cuddles again?”

“I don’t sleep as well unless I’m in your arms. I start thinking about other things…” He then runs a hand through her hair.

“We’ll work it out.  We’ll figure out what’s bugging you the most now to cause this, and work it out. For now, though, I don’t mind being able to hold you close to me.” She smiles as she lets herself get comfy before closing her eyes. “I love you, and I’d do anything for you.”

“I know. I love you, too.” Chase then lets out a sigh, before closing his eyes.

He knew that the conversation with Regan that night had been worth it.

It was just to be able to start somewhere for a change, rather than bottle up and fight against it. He knew he had friends, but it was nice to hear the words spoken out loud to him. He knew he’d repeat those words anytime he felt like he was lost without any hope of figuring this mess out.

Now, it was about figuring out the rest of the steps. What was bugging him? What was the most important? Who was the right person to discuss this? How long did he feel that it’d take?

Though he knew he could worry about that in the days to come. For now, that night, his eyes were closed and set to sleep, dreaming of a fairy tale future with his princess.