The Bruises – Chapters 26 Thru 30

thebruises

Chapter 26: Home Sweet Home

Post-Bristol – Dale Jr.’s House – Saturday Night

The discussion with the detectives went on for hours as they wanted to know everything. It seemed they never ran out of questions no matter what Dale said. However, he was now glad to be home. It meant that he could have some relaxation from everything. He had said his goodbyes to Tony, promising to get in touch that week.

He walked inside the house, closing the door behind him, glad to be done everything that needed to be done. With the announcement of the charges, his post-win media schedule had been cleared to avoid doing any publicity so close to everything. They would do a meeting mid-week to discuss what to do moving forward and then proceed.

As he slipped his shoes off, he heard footsteps coming towards him, knowing who they were once he saw the fluffy pink bunny slippers.

“You’re home!” Dale heard before he could look up to address the person before him, recognizing the voice to be Kelley’s. After speaking with her on the phone, she agreed to stay there with Angelica till he got home so that way Rick and Linda could go home. She mainly did it, though, so she could see him first thing when he made it there. Before he could move an inch from his position, the owner of the pink bunny slippers wrapped her arms around him, wanting to just be close to him. Since hearing the news, she had been worried. She knew that it couldn’t be too bad due to not noticing anything before, but had a tinge of worry on her mind. “I’ll leave you two be to talk. Don’t be a stranger tomorrow.” Kelley knew by how the pair were reacting that they needed their space.

“I’ll make sure to come and see you,” Dale told his sister before giving her a quick hug, the other set of arms still wrapped around him. He watched his sister leave, focusing his eyes down at the teenager that stood there, not willing to remove her arms from around him. Well he wanted to scream due to the pain he felt in his back and her pushing on it, he didn’t have the courage to say a word at that point. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what she was thinking. He had already heard from Steve and Rick both that she was worried about him.

“I’m just glad you’re okay Dad,” Angelica finally squeaked out, not wanting to let her dad go. He lightly rubbed her back, moving slowly into the front room as he knew that there’d be some questions she’d ask.

“I’m just so happy to see you.” They then sat on the couch, facing each other, Dale ready to face whatever was on her mind. She was a 15-year-old teenager now and probably not short of questions. “Did Steve tell you about Lind-”

“He told me that she is going away a couple days due to being scared.” Dale shook his head yes at those words, not sure if he was ready to tell her Lindsay’s secret. Was she too young for that? Seeing the heartbreak on her dad’s face, she grabbed both of his hands, wanting to find someway to give him comfort. She just wanted everything to be fine again.

“Okay. She’s worried that Jeff may get some people who don’t like her to come after her. She knew some bad people when she was younger and moved to North Carolina to get away from them. She’s scared that Jeff will tell them everything as to where she is so she wants to hide out till we get Jeff put in jail for a long time.” He looked up at Angelica’s eyes, curious of her reaction, not wanting to dive into anymore details about Lindsay’s past. That would have to wait till Lindsay was back home with them as that was her place to decide whether Angelica should know.

“Okay.” Angelica then looked down, wanting to tell her dad how she really felt, but also scared of what he would say and the affect on him. “When I heard the news, I’ll admit – I was in total shock.” She looked up, curious as to what he would say or do as a result of her words. All he did was nod his head in agreement that he was listening, not sure yet what to say. “I didn’t want to believe it that someone had hurt you because I’ve been around you and I haven’t seen anything that would make me believe it. But I knew it had to be true because you wouldn’t lie like that and it worried me. I didn’t know how you were or where you were or anything. That’s why I’m just glad that you’re home.”

“I’m glad to be home with you, too, and I’m sorry I worried you so much.” She knew her next question would test the waters of what could be said, but she had to know. She had to answer the worry questions in her mind.

“What did he do to you exactly, Dad?” Looking down as she saw no reaction on his face, she immediately regretted even asking the question.

“He slapped me, he hit with a belt across the back, he shoved me against the dresser one night – a couple different things over the course of the past two years. That’s why I didn’t want you here at first. I didn’t want you to come near what was going on. I only kept it a secret for this long because I was scared, scared that Jeff would hurt you or Lindsay. Tony finally convinced me to do the right thing. I want you to know, though, that he will never, ever, touch you because he is going away for a very long time.” He then tilted her head up towards his eyes, wanting to see those blue eyes he loved so much. “I would never let him touch you ever.” Feeling the pain on his back really begin to bug him, he stood up, knowing that he needed to go upstairs, relax and go to sleep, while getting the fabric that glazed the wounds off. “Anyways, it’s late and we’re both tired so why don’t we get some sleep? We can talk about more in the morning. I’m willing to tell you whatever you want to know. I don’t mind telling you.” He then pulled her close, giving her a kiss on the forehead. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She then looked up at him, smiling. “Can I ask one more question before bed?”

“Go ahead. What is it that you want to ask? I told you I’ll tell you everything. I don’t want you to worr-”

“How bad does it hurt? I could see you biting your tongue as we were sitting there. How bad does it hurt? What exactly is bugging you? You’ve done tons for me so I want to do tons for you.” He smiled at her courage, loving the fact he could see that Earnhardt fire right inside of her.

“My back is really sore, to be honest, because that’s where he did the most of the pain. There’s multiple marks across my back from nights with him.” She shook her head, now understanding everything. That’s why nobody knew as he always had a shirt on. Even if they were going swimming – he had a top on.

“How long will it take them to heal?”

“A couple weeks probably. Don’t know for sure.” She then hugged him, carefully not touching his back as she wrapped her arms around his waist.

“I love you and good night.”

“Good night Angelica. See you in the morning.” They both then headed up the stairs, separating at the top as they headed into their rooms. Once Dale was in his room with the door closed, he quickly snatched the shirt off of his back as quick as he could, slightly relaxing. “It’s over. It’s done. You’re safe and the girls are safe.” He then flopped down on the bed, belly first, knowing that he was exhausted and just wanting sleep. A slight glance at the clock showed it was 4 in the morning. “I hope Kelley and mom weren’t expecting me too early.”

 

Chapter 27: Sleepless Nights

Post-Bristol – Dale Jr.’s House – Tuesday Night

“You know you like it,” he heard growled against his ear, feeling another thrust up his rectum, pain filling his entire body.

Dale woke up, tears streaming down his face, glancing at the clock. 3:28 am. For the third straight night in a row, he couldn’t sleep as he envisioned everything that had happened in his mind. How was this possible? How could he ever move forward? He sat up, wiping the tears off, just wanting to go back to a peaceful sleep. He way overtired and needed his rest. Everybody could tell. It was why Rick had said to take some days off and try to relax.

One bedsroom over, Angelica rolled over her in bed, hearing the tears that came from the room beside her. Her dad thought that she was asleep and didn’t know of these nights. However, she had woken up each night. She wanted to go comfort him, but wondered if that would cross the line.

“You can’t keep doing this Dad,” she commented aloud as she picked her phone up off the nightstand, holding it in her hands. She knew of one person who cared for Dale more than most. She knew by how Tony had been around that he must be important.

“Fuck me,” she heard from the room over, hearing the bedsroom door crack. She knew that he was going to find some Tylenol for the pain or a glass of water to calm his thoughts. She had gotten used to these sounds. It was affecting her, not getting her own sleep. With going back to school and having homework on top of racing, she knew she couldn’t keep doing this. “Why can’t I just forget?” She shook her head, eyes focused on the number before her.

“Because you know it goes deeper than that….” She hit the number, knowing she’d have to whisper, but knowing that Dale needed him. She hated to call Tony in the middle of the night, but what else was she supposed to do?

“Hello?” She heard a panicked voice on the other end. “Angelica? Are you oka-”

“I’m fine Tony,” she started calmly. As she sat on the bed, she heard the footsteps of her dad outside of the door and into the bathroom.

“Then what’s going on?” As she heard the sound of vomit coming upstream into the toilet, she cringed slightly, knowing she definately had made the right move.

“Tony, you need to come over now please.”

“Why? What’s wron-”

“Dad hasn’t been able to sleep since coming back from Bristol.” As she sat there, she heard the cries, she heard the vomit, just wanting to run and hug him. But was that the right thing to do?

“I’m on my way.” She slowly opened her bedsroom door, catching her father’s eyes as she looked down towards the kitchen. The signature crystal blue was no longer found as it was replaced with a navy color – hurt, pain.

“Okay. See ya soon.” She then hung up on Tony, setting her phone down before slowly making her way to the bathroom. She knew it’d be a little bit before Tony showed up so she had to do something. She walked in the bathroom, sitting on the edge of the bathtub, looking at her father who sat there on the floor crying. She didn’t know what to do. She felt so afraid and so much pain in seeing him like this. “Tony is on his way over.”

“You called him?” Dale asked as he felt a hand rub his back lightly.

“You need him Dad,” she replied. “You can’t keep doing this every night.” She then scootched onto the floor beside him, continuing to rub his back as he looked towards her. It was enough for him to be going through what he was going through. But to know that his daughter knew was another fright in itself.

“You need to go back to be-”

“I’m not moving till Tony gets here.” He looked towards her, pulling her close into a hug, loving the comforting feeling of her just being there.

“Thank you.”

“I love you, Daddy. I hate to see you like this.” He looked down, letting himself vomit some more as he had yet to shake the memories. She then stood up, wetting a wash cloth, before sitting back down and wiping his face, trying to do something to help. He let her as tears filled his eyes, now knowing that she knew exactly how he felt. What was going to happen now? “The start of the trial is Thursday so you got two more days so you need to keep it together.” The start of the trial meant hearing Jeff’s plead. They expected him to plead guilty considering the evidence. If he did, it meant sentencing and gone away for all time. If he plead not guilty, then it would be a long process in telling what happened. That was something Dale didn’t want to face.

“I know and I’m trying, sweetie.” As they sat there, he felt the ability to confess that bit of emotion as there wasn’t anything to hide anymore.

“I know you are and you’re strong willed and you’re great. But you can’t do it alone and if Lindsay can’t be here for you, then I know Tony will take care of you.” He looked towards her, curious by those words. How did she know about Tony’s caring side for him?

“How do you know this, if I may ask?”

“I saw the way he was with you at Bristol so that’s enough to say a good guess. I take it by your reaction that I’m right.” He then smiled as he pulled her close, glad to be having a talk like this. It was starting to get his mind off of what he couldn’t minutes ago.

“Yeah, you’re right.” She looked up, seeing that smile, glad that she could bring some comfort to her dad. She just hoped that Tony could add more and things would end officially on Thursday.

 

Chapter 28: Tony

Post-Bristol – Dale Jr.’s House – Tuesday Night

Angelica opened the door, glancing at the big lock as it was officially 3am in the morning. Now she really felt bad for calling for Tony so late, but it had to be done.

“Hey princess,” he said before giving her a hug. He then slipped off his shoes and hung up his jacket. “Where is he?”

“In his bedsroom,” she said as they headed up the stairs. She had gotten him to calm down and led him back to his room before Tony had shown up. “Thanks for coming, by the way. I really appreci-”

“I’d do anything for him, Angelica.” He really meant those words. There was no lying now with the feelings that he had for Dale.

“I’ll leave you two be.” She then went into her bedsroom, closing the door as she knew the boys needed their privacy.

Tony walked into Dale’s bedsroom, sitting on the bed as he set his eyes on the man before him. He could see the tears streaming down Dale’s face, he could see the hurt in his eyes. It all the more ate at Tony as he wondered why he hadn’t kicked Jeff’s ass before their plan took full force.

“You didn’t have to come,” Dale let out as he looked at the person before him. How could Tony always be there like this for him? “It’s not fair for me to wake you out of bed.” Tony shook his head as he climbed up further in the bed, closing the gap that was between them.

“It is when you can’t sleep and I care about you,” Tony commented as their eyes met. When they did, Tony was reminded back to a couple weeks ago when he had busted in that night. He was reminded of the pleading eyes that just wanted to be held and comforted. Would it always be this way? “I care about you a lot and would do anything for you so don’t even start that shit on me.” Seeing no movement in Dale, he continued his crawl up the bed so the pair were sitting beside each other.

“I just want the feelings to go away. I just want to forget everything that happened. I want to move on.” Tony knew those feelings all to well as he hoped that everybody could do that with what had happened. He knew it was only becoming harder with the fact that Lindsay had ran.

“And you will as soon as Jeff is locked away for good.” Dale looked towards Tony at those words, having his own fears about Thursday.

“And what if he doesn’t get locked away? What if he ge-”

“That damn well won’t happen as we have loads of proof for what he’s done!” Seeing the tears on Dale’s face, Tony did the only thing next that he knew – he pulled Dale close, holding him. He wanted to help him forget the one thing that made him mad the worst.

“I can’t help but think about him getting off. You have to realize that can happen.” Tony then lifted his gaze, meeting Dale’s as he only had one set of words for that.

“If for some reason that asshole gets off, he will be met by me before he can do anything to you.” Dale then pulled himself in even closer to Tony, loving the safe and secure feeling that came over him.

“Why does it hurt so much? Why can’t I just forget it? Why does it continue to bug me?” Tony knew the answer to that as there was no questions about it after the confessions that had come out.

“Because you let it go for way too long. But that doesn’t matter now.” Tony lifted Dale’s shirt slightly, wincing at the marks across the young man’s back, but knew that it would help to have the fabric not touching it as he pulled the shirt off. Once the shirt was off, Dale cuddled back close to Tony, laying down in his arms as he felt the lack of sleep catching up with him.

“Thank you…..I can’t ever than-”

“Stop as you don’t need to say it. Just close your eyes and go to sleep.” Dale did as instructed, exhaustion taking over his body as he was asleep instantly. Tony laid there not moving, letting Dale lay against him, as he got his phone out of his pocket. There was one other person that needed his comfort in this house.

Tony: Angelica, are you okay?

Angelica: Yeah, I’m fine Tony.

Tony: You know if you need someone to talk to that you can always talk to me. I’m here for both of you. I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now. You don’t have to think about that alone.

Angelica: Thanks Tony. ‘Appreciate that. Just worried about Dad. Worried about how he is feeling and all. Worried about the pain and his feelings. Scared for him, too. Also just want Lindsay to come home. I can’t believe she ran. It’s just not fair.

Tony: I hear ya but you don’t need to worry. Dale will be fine. He will heal over time. He just needs to have the comfort and love. Lindsay will come home. It will work out. Jeff won’t see the light of day. Just stay strong and believe. You’ll have the life that you dream of. I can promise you that.

Angelica: Luv ya. So sweet. Ill let you sleep – need mine.

Tony: Okay. Nite. See ya in the morning.

Angelica: Night Tony.

 

Chapter 29: Trial

Post-Bristol – Court House – Thursday Afternoon

Dale sat there in between Tony and Rick, eyes focused forward. Today was the big day. Today they would learn the fate that they all questioned. Dale just wanted things over and done with after everything that had happened. He wanted to never go through the events again. There was no way this couldn’t be the end.

As his thoughts ran through his mind, he kept Tony’s hand close to his, clutching it in his tightly. Since Tony came over late Tuesday night, he hadn’t left. He called Stewart-Haas and told them that he had some things to take care of, agreeing to be there for his friend. While Dale thought he was done with crazy relationships following things with Jimmie, he was slowly finding himself falling for Tony. He had wanted to say something – but was scared. He still loved Lindsay and he didn’t want to change that. However, the comfort he felt with Tony – it was different. It was special and it had helped a ton.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Rick whispered as he turned towards Angelica. Angelica had begged them to come. She wanted to know herself that things were over, too. She knew she couldn’t go to school and sit through the day with worry. She also knew that staying home wouldn’t work either. After much protesting, they all had agreed to let her go so there she sat beside Rick. She knew it was a tough time for Dale and that Tony could offer the comfort he so deserved. In that respect, she had turned to the one person that she had depended so much on the last couple years of her life to help her out.

“I’m fine Rick,” she replied as she glanced towards the back of the room after hearing the door open. They had kept it as a closed court session, only certain people allowed to be there. Seeing the person, even if hid underneath her hood, she smiled. She recognized that face anywhere and was glad that she was there. “Look behind you but don’t say a word, Rick.” Rick took a quick glance towards the direction as he watched the women sit down in a seat at the back of the room.

“Court is now in session!” They all heard announced, turning their gaze up towards to the front. “Mr. Jeff Gordon, do you understand the charges that you are facing?”

“My client would like to follow a request with regards to one of them,” Gordon’s lawyer spoke up, causing concern to rise in Dale’s throat. What were they going to try to pull? “The charges against my client with regards to Mr. Earnhardt – there are no problems.”

“Then what is the problem?” The judge then asked, which was a question that many of them wanted to spit out. “The charges put forth with regards to Lindsay MacKenzie?” The lawyer then shook his head yes as he opened up a folder.

“Mrs. Lindsay MacKenzie has yet to file a statement with regards to the charges. She also has not officially stated that she is filing charges against my client.” Seeing the eyes of the Judge switch to the other side of the room, there was a small bit of tension.

“Is this true? Has Ms. MacKenzie done the necessary work required?” Angelica then took a glance towards the back of the room, feeling the need for an unveil soon.

“No she hasn’t,” Blake Johnson, the lawyer representing Dale and Lindsay, finally spoke. “She has officially taken to hiding as a result of some threats that Mr. Gordon has levied against her. She has stated her reasoning due to the safety of her family. I have an official telephone record of our conversation, which states her warrant to press charges. I can pla-”

“That’s not enou-” The judge started as Angelica smiled at the sight of the hood being put down.

“I am here and present and pressing those charges,” Lindsay then spoke, hood removed. Instantly, everybody turned to the back of the room, mixed of emotions. Dale’s was a full smile as he was glad that she had come back home. “I hope you rot in hell for what you did, Jeff.”

“Your honor!” Gordon’s lawyer Miley Williams protested against the outburst.

“Charges stay in place per Ms. MacKenzie’s words, but Ms. McKenzie must keep her mouth shut now,” the judge then spoke as Lindsay sat back down, eyes fixed on Dale. They locked eyes for a moment and she knew there was no way of running away now.

“There are still a problem – Lindsay McKenzie is not her real name!” The judge then turned back towards Blake as Dale looked down. Were they ready for the secret to be revealed there?

“Is this true Mr. Johnson?” The judge asked as Blake cleared his throat.

“She had her name legally changed over eight years ago and can show proof of that,” Mr. Johnson clarified as the judge motioned for the proof to be shown. Lindsay then stood up, walking to the front of the room, handing Blake her wallet. “Here it is.” Blake handed it to the bailiff who took it up to the judge, who looked it over.

“This checks out. Thank you Ms. McKenzie. Anymore protests before your client puts in his plead?”

“No sir,” Miley Williams said as Lindsay sat beside Dale on the bench.

“I missed you,” she whispered giving him a quick kiss before turning her eyes back towards to the front.

“So we’re going to go through these one by one…..” The judge started as he looked down at his sheet. “I’d rather do them at once but cannot do that legally. I am going to mention each type of charge and end your plead. Some of these have multiple accounts, by the way. On the charge of physical and mental abuse towards Dale Earnhardt Jr, how do you plead?”

“Guilty,” Jeff stated as he looked down. He knew by the length of proof that Tony had there was no way to get out of it.

“On the charge of assault towards Dale Earnhardt Jr., how do you plead?” Dale kept his eyes focused on the ground, body still sore from what had taken place, pain filling him. He knew part of it was mentally in thinking back to some of the nights.

“Assault? No no, that’s not guilty. I may have slapped in and pushed him, but that’s not assu-”

“That defines assault. Assault is when you cause bodily harm to another individual, whether with or without a weapon. Do you change your plead, Mr. Gordon?”

“Yes, I change my plead then. Sorry. Guilty.” Tony held Dale’s hand tighter, knowing what was left to come in the list of charges that still laid ahead of them.

“On the charge of threatening bodily harm towards Dale Earnhardt Jr., how do you plead?”

“Guilty.”

“On the charge of rape towards Dale Earnhardt Jr., how do you plead?” Hearing the words, both Lindsay and Tony took each of Dale’s hands and held them. They could see the hurt in his eyes at the words being mentioned and the thought of tears that threatened to fall.

“Not guilty.” Tony then looked up stunned at Jeff’s words. Didn’t Jeff know he was guilty by the video content that was already recorded?

“On the charge of rape towards Lindsay McKenzie, how do you plead?”

“Guilty.” Lindsay locked eyes with Tony at the conflicting pleads that they had heard. Why was he saying he was guilty to one but not the other?

“On the charge of threatening Lindsay McKenzie, how do you plead?”

“Not guilty.” Lindsay looked towards Jeff, surprised by those words. Was it a ploy for her to tell the story?

“On the charge of threatening Angelica Jami-”

“She just completed the process of getting her name legally changed to Angelica Earnhardt,” Blake Johnson interrupted as Angelica smiled at the thought. It was a long process that involved DNA tests to confirm everything, but she was glad it was done. It felt right to have the Earnhardt last name.

“Okay then,” the judge commented before making a change to his notes. “On the charge of threatening Angelica Earnhardt, how do you plead?”

“Guilty.” Jeff then looked towards the young 15 year old with a smile on her face as she turned away. She didn’t want to look towards him after what he had done to Dale and Lindsay.

“To recap, you have plead guilty to abuse, assault and threatening Dale Earnhardt Jr., raping Lindsay McKenzie and threatening Angelica Earnhardt. Adding the sentences together for the multiple accounts, you are to sentenced to life in jail without chance of parole. With that said, Mr. Johnson, do you want to prosecute the defendant on the other charges?” Blake looked towards Dale and Lindsay, looking for answer. Both shook their head no, knowing the emotions of going through talking about some of the nights would be too much on them both.

“No your honor,” Blake Johnson replied. “Although I do have a request about Mr. Gordon’s time in jail.”

“And what is that?” The judge asked as Lindsay held her breath. This was the moment of truth on whether she could stay there or have to run for the safety of those she loved.

“Due to the status of the threats that Mr. Gordon has levied against my clients, I request no touch with the outside world. I don’t think it’d be right to chance those secrets getting out. The secrets that he holds against Dale Earnhardt Jr., Lindsay McKenzie and Angelica Earnhardt could put them in danger if released.”

“Motion accepted. Any mail that Mr. Gordon wants to send out will be screened before leaving. Is that all?”

“Yes.”

“Court ajourned!” Dale then let out a long sigh of relief as he looked towards Lindsay, kissing her, as they both watched Jeff go away with the officer.

“It’s over finally,” Tony whispered as he gave Dale a quick hug before standing up. He knew that the pair would want some time to spend together alone after Lindsay’s escape.

“Thank you for everything,” Dale said as he stood up with Tony, pulling him into a hug. Even though he didn’t want to admit his feelings out loud, he wanted Tony to know how much he thanked him for everything. If it wasn’t for Tony stepping in, this could be still going on.

“You don’t have to thank me, Dale. I did it because I care about you. You’re my best friend and I hated to see you going through that.”

“Thank you for taking care of him the last couple of months,” Lindsay then interrupted them, wrapping her arms tightly around Tony. There were no words to describe how thankful she was for what Tony had done. “It means the world to me, to us.”

“Like I said – you don’t need to thank me,” Tony replied as he smiled. They all then walked out of the court house, finally relieved. As Tony stood back and watched Dale, Lindsay and Angelica talk, he couldn’t help but smile. They were a happy family again and there was no one around to ruin it. That’s all that mattered at that point.

 

Chapter 30: My Thoughts For Him

Monday Afternoon – 1 month down the road after the trial (end of September) – Tony Stewart’s office

To everybody’s surprise, life pretty much returned to normal for everyone.

Dale was dealing with his emotions slowly, getting through them one step at a time. He hadn’t had to worry about Jeff so he was feeling much better. Lindsay and Dale’s relationship was back to where it was before and she was convinced once again that her secret was safe.

For Angelica, life had returned to as normal as a 15-year-old girl racing could have her life. She was racing quarter midgets for Kasey Kahne’s team and doing well, finishing top five each week with some wins. She was also doing well in school and was lined up for her first ARCA start at Toledo Speedway in a month.

So with everything returned to somewhat normal, why was Tony sitting in his office stuck in deep thought about everything? It was also no surprise that the two people who knew the most about everything – Danica and Ricky – were sitting across from him. Yes, somehow Ricky managed to sneak past security at SHR again. Tony was beginning to think he should hire him and be done with it.

“So what is on your mind since you called us here?” Ricky asked, finally breaking the silence. Tony had texted the pair an hour ago asking for them to come over to talk. They showed up 40 minutes later and had been sitting there in silence the past 20 minutes, only saying hi to each other and asking how they all were. “Jeff escape jail? Was one of those secrets revealed? You need to tel-”

“It’s not what you’re thinking Ricky,” Tony cut him off, not even wanting to think about that happening. That’d just be a nightmare.

“Then what is it?” Danica asked as she stood up, walking around the big desk to be right beside Tony. She had used this tactic many times before and each time it had worked to her advantage as he would spill everything. “You’re with friends. We won’t tell anybody.” Tony took a deep breath, knowing it wouldn’t be easy to tell them.

“With the time that I spent with Dale, I developed a lot of feelings for him. Guys, I don’t how to say this but I love him. I love him a lot and I miss cuddling with him. I miss those sweet nights together.” Ricky looked towards the man before him, confused. What had broken off what they had going?

“Then why did you run away when the trial was over?” Ricky asked, catching Tony’s eyes. “Why did you leave him there and not say a word about this?” Tony looked down, remembering that day. That day wasn’t about him. It was about Dale and ending his nightmare. It was about Dale returning back into the arms of the person he loved the most.

“I wanted to just let him and Lindsay be because I felt that was right,” Tony started. “I never though I had fallen this hard for the guy.”

“Then why don’t you tell him?” Danica then asked as she walked back over to Ricky. “I finally broke down and admitted that I like this guy.” Tony knew it wasn’t that easy as there were other things to consider.

“What about Lindsay? What about that relationship that they have?” Danica shook her head as Tony’s questioning, remembering what Tony had told them the one day.

“What about her being okay with you and Dale cuddling that night?” Ricky smiled as he remembered how Tony’s face lit up when he talked about spending that time with Dale.

“She said it was fine and left you two be,” Ricky then added. “You had a different special look to you with your smile when you spoke about that. You need him, Tony.” Tony looked down, knowing that the pair was right.

“Yeah, I really do need him more than I think I realize,” Tony let slip out of his mouth as he felt a pair of hands on his shoulders. He glanced up, to see that both Ricky and Danica were standing behind him now.

“Then go tell him that.”

“The worst he can say is no and you don’t have to sit here questioning it everyday,” Danica added as she remembered the times she sat in her office thinking about Ricky before she started dating him. “Take a chance. Let yourself fight for what you want. We know that you are always willing to pick a fight so go after it. I bet you’ll find something you weren’t ever expecting.” She then smiled as she got Ricky to follow her out of the office, closing the door behind her.

Turning to Ricky, she pulled out her phone, showing him a text. Dale had been texting her the last couple of weeks wondering what Tony was up to and how he was doing.

It was true – Dale also missed Tony and wondered if he’d ever get those late night cuddles that meant so much to him back.

“All he has to do is listen to us,” Danica commented as she put her phone back in her pocket.

“He will – his heart won’t let him not,” Ricky replied as he remembered when Danica confessed her love for him. He wanted to deny it – not wanting to get involved so soon after her marriage. However, he couldn’t deny his heart in having what it so desired.

The Bruises – Chapters 16 Thru 20

thebruises

Chapter 16: My Visit

Dale Jr.’s House – Monday following Indianapolis

Jeff knocked on the door, knowing that he was home. Dale had been at Hendrick Motorsports earlier that morning for the team meeting. It was there that he heard that he was going home after lunch. He also overheard Dale telling Jimmie and Kasey that Lindsay and Angelica were bonding well and that they were going out for a girl’s day. Wouldn’t this make it the perfect opportunity?

Dale opened the door, surprised to see Jeff standing there on the other side. With having no contact with him the past two weeks – except when work forced them together, they had not talked to each other at all. Dale thought that Jeff was listening to Tony’s threat without problems and that things would get back to the way they used to be.

“What are you doing here?” Dale asked, already curious to Jeff’s motives.

“I came to talk to you about something,” Jeff started off lightly, knowing that he would get to the topic on mind shortly. “Actually, I came to talk to you about someone. Does Tony Stewart ring a bell?” Dale looked down, knowing that what Tony had done had crossed the line. He knew that Jeff deserved something in return for what he had done, but he also knew the risk that was involved in what had happened.

“Listen, I had nothing to do with that.” Jeff then put his hands on Dale’s shoulders, knowing otherwise.

“He’s only doing it because of what I did to you and the fact that he’s playing the role of bodyguard. Now, you’re going to do something for me so that way he stops what he’s doing. I am not leaving until you text or call him and convince him to leave my ass alone. See, he better do that or else I will have something in mind for you and that lovely daughter of yours. It’s kind of a strange that way. Tony’s threat does lay on my mind, but it’s honestly not enough to stop me.” Dale looked down, nerves building in hearing Jeff’s words as fear was coming to the surface. What was Jeff planning on doing if Dale didn’t listen to him?

“Fine – I’ll see if I can make him stop.” Jeff then smiled as he watched Dale pull out his cell from his pocket.

“That’s a good boy.”

Hey. Are you busy?

No. What is it?

I was thinking. Appreciate what you’re doing to Jeff, but I think you should end it.

Why?

Don’t need you getting in trouble with NASCAR or anybody. Plus, the guys at the shop are pretty mad.

I hear ya. I just wanted to show him the pain you went through. At your request, I’ll stop.

Sounds good. See you later this week.

“Happy?” Dale then asked Jeff as he showed him the text messages.

“Thank you cutie,” Jeff answered as he shot a smile at Dale. He watched Dale put his phone back in his pocket, watching his moves carefully. The words see ya later this week and “bodyguard” were the only words that Jeff could think about as he watched his ex-lover move about in front of him. Was Tony the new flirt in town? “So how close are you with Smoke?”

“Just friends and if you’re wondering, no, we aren’t sleeping together. He’s just been here comforting me.” Dale knew that lying to Jeff was impossible so he had to let out the truth in Tony being his comforting rock. The entire statement was no lie, though. The only night they had slept together was that one night back at the beginning of July. Since then, they’d just been the close friends that they’d always been.

“Have you thought about sleeping with him? You can’t lie to me and say that hasn’t crossed your mind. We all know how you think, espically me. Now are you going to tell me a lie?”

“I’ve thought about it, okay?” Dale’s words flipped a trigger of instant jealousy on Jeff as Jeff pushed him inside, closing the door behind him. “I thought we had a dea-”

“Funny thing is if you tell Tony, I can still go and tell the world the three secrets and get your girlfriend under hot fire. So in the end, you’re the one still in shit water because you’ll have a bunch of criminals after your asses.” Dale focused his eyes on the ground, knowing that he had to find some way to make Jeff leave. But the thought of having a bunch of criminals coming after a mob princess and the thought of Jeff hurting Angelica had him met with fear that he didn’t know what to do with. “So I suggest you do one thing for me – keep this a secret like you were supposed to and hide it from Tony, or else bang bang goes Lindsay and oops, your daughter will be kidnapped.” Dale looked down, knowing those were two thoughts that he never wanted to be face. How could one man be so evil?

“How can you do thi-”

“It’s cause of how much you hurt me! Now, you’re going to do exactly what I instruct you to do. Upstairs right now.” Not wanting to argue, scared of what Jeff had said, Dale walked up the stairs. Part of him wanted to text Tony and tell him. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it as he walked into the bedsroom. Jeff was right. The minute he texted Tony, the minute Jeff let out the secret causing the mob to come looking. He couldn’t handle the thought of his family in danger and knew that he had to take what was about to handed to him. He just hoped that it ended soon and maybe Jeff would find some reason to stop in the near future all together.

“Now what do you want?”

“Lay down. What else do you think I want?” Dale shook his head as he turned around, facing Jeff straight in the eye. There was no way he was going through the pain of that again.

“You can do anything but that.”

“So I can go hurt your daughter? Okay!” Jeff turned to leave the room, when he felt a hand grab his arm. Looking back at the eyes that faced him, he knew that the mind had been changed. “That’s what I thought.”

“I hope you fucking pay for this one day. Has anybody ever told you that you’re the biggest bitch in the world, ever?” Jeff then gave Dale a shove, sending him on to the bed, stomach first, as Jeff shook his head, surprised by the attitude that he was being delivered. Jeff went to the side of the bed, grabbing Dale’s wrists at easy will and tying them together before tying them to the headboard of the bed. With a quick rip, he tore the shirt that Dale wore, throwing it to the ground.

“If you want nobody to know, I suggest you don’t leave any mar-”

“You just find a way to hide them, Earnhardt! It’s not my problem to deal with.” Jeff then undid the jeans and took them off swiftly as he kept his eyes focused on the man below him.

“Lindsay will be curious if she sees anything so that’s why I’m warning you. I’m trying to help you.”

“It’s your job to deal with your girlfriend and keep her from knowing.” Jeff then went into the dresser that he had always gone before from previous knowledge, taking out the one thing that he knew he needed. “I’m sure she’d understand you not wanting to have sex after everything that has happened.” With bare back exposed, Jeff gave the belt a flick, sending him smacking against Dale’s back as Dale let out a scream. “The pain doesn’t get old.” Dale closed his eyes, not wanting to think about it as he felt the belt go against his back not once, twice, but about seven times. He didn’t want to count it, didn’t want to feel it, but knew it was hitting him by the searing pain it left each time. Each smack caused a scream to leave his throat, in hopes that it’d be easier to deal with the pain he faced. After realizing for a couple minutes that there’d be nothing, he opened his eyes in hopes that Jeff would be gone. But seeing Jeff’s shadow cast over him, he knew that wasn’t the case.

“You need to leave soon. The girls will be hom-”

“Don’t lie to me, Earnhardt.” Dale let out a sigh, hoping that would have been his way out as he knew that Jeff wanted to keep this between only them. He knew that he’d need a bit of time before they got back to compose his own emotions so they didn’t know anything was up. “Anyways, I have a specia-”

“Can’t we save it for another time, please?” Fingers meeting the back of neck, moving slowly down his back in a smooth fashion, Dale knew the answer to the question was a no as Jeff was setting him up for what was sure to be the worst pain ever. “You know I can’t take when you do that so just please, don’t.” Jeff then smiled as Dale’s pleads as it just egged him on more, wanting to inflict the pain in hopes it’d be enough warning to keep things quiet.

In an instant, the soft touch turned into a nightmare as Jeff thrusted himself inside of Dale’s rectum, pushing up inside quickly and forcefully.

“Relax and have fun with this,” Jeff pleaded as he kept pushing himself inside, deeper each time as he heard the cries. “You know you’ve missed these long sexual nights. I bring you a pleasure that nobody else can.” Against the cries and screams that could be heard, Jeff continued pushing himself in, time after time, making sure to do it quickly. “Fuck you never felt so good.”

Couple minutes later, he felt Jeff pulling himself all the way out and then standing up as he couldn’t feel the pressure against his back of his answer person being there. Eyes closed, tears streaming down his face as pain filled him completely inside, there was only one thing he wanted to do – run away.

As he kept his eyes buried in the pillow, tears finding no way of stopping, he felt the ropes around his wrist come loose and soon be gone as his arms fell beside him.

“I fucking hate you,” Dale let out as he heard Jeff leaving the room. It was confirmed that Jeff was gone by the slam of the bedsroom door. Dale then rolled over, letting out heavy breathes from being tired and worn out, pain filling his insides and back, just glad that it was over. “Why did I ever think that he was someone that I could love? Why did I ever even go out with him? Fuck!” Standing up, Dale made his way to the bathroom, taking one glance to see his lower back was covered in dark red scratches right across from left to right. “Guess this summer means no going around topless.” The bruises had almost been healed from their previous meetings and with the summer heat in the air, there was no question that going around without his top would’ve felt good. It would’ve even been nicer for the times that they were in the pool.

Feeling vomit rise his throat as he continued to cry from the pain that filled him, he let him collapse in front of toilet, throwing up as the tears continued to fall. How could one keep this a secret?

 

Chapter 17: The Text Message

Stewart-Haas Racing – Monday following Indianapolis

Tony looked at his phone for what seemed like the millionth time, reading over the text messages that he and Dale had traded earlier the day. It didn’t seem right in Tony’s mind.

Appreciate what you’re doing to Jeff, but I think you should end it.

Why?

Don’t need you getting in trouble with NASCAR or anybody. Plus, the guys at the shop are pretty mad.

I hear ya. I just wanted to show him the pain you went through. At your request, I’ll stop.

Sounds good. See you later this week.

He thought Dale would be fully for what was happening, no questions asked, knowing the secret that Tony now held for him. Though it itched at Tony at the messages sent. Maybe Dale was scared, or maybe it was because of another reason.

Running his hands through his hair, he was wondering whether it was right to keep this a secret. He was doing it for the kids and Jeff’s wife. He didn’t want to see them heartbroken over what was happening. He didn’t want the kids asking questions. However, knowing the pain that Dale had gone through, he kept questioning his actions.

Hearing the slam of his office door, he instantly looked up, seeing two determined people standing before him.

“We know who it is and she has been bugging me about what you’re doing about it,” Ricky started and Tony rolled his eyes. He knew it would only be a matter of time that they’d figure it out that it was Tony by what happened the past two weekends. Tony had taken the liberty in not telling either of them viberally, not wanting them involved, saying that he had it handled and was taking care of Dale.

“He knows not to touch Dale and that’s where we’re leaving it,” Tony replied as he looked back down on his desk. “Dale is too afraid to say anything so we found a compromise. I have on record what he did to Dale one night – videos of it, photos of the marks on Dale. Once I showed him that, plus some other trusty blackmail, he agreed to stay away. If he strikes again, I told Dale to come to me and we’re going to the cops.”

“And your anger led you to do what you’ve done the past couple of weeks, I take it. Is that going to continue beyond Indy?” Tony shook his head no, as he looked over the series of text messages once again.

“And why not?” Danica then questioned, seeing as how Tony was avoiding them with a straight answer and strangely keeping his eyes on a chat message screen. “Rick? NASCAR?”

“It’s probably NASCAR due to the fight in victory lane,” Ricky commented, having seen how every broadcast network had replayed the finish and ensuing fight over and over already.

“Well? What is it?”

“You can at leas-”

“Yeah, due to NASCAR,” Tony lied, just wanting them both to stop. He had debated telling them the truth, but knew that wouldn’t be advised with how things were currently sitting.

“What’d they say to you?” Danica then asked, curious as she didn’t remember Tony getting called to the hauler. “Did they give you probation? A fine?”

“Probably probation due to the fight,” Ricky then commented as Tony shot a look towards the young driver. “That’s just my guess.” Danica then sat on the edge of Tony’s desk, curious as to what the driver was looking at. When she went to take a glance at his phone, he flipped it over so she couldn’t read the messages. “Danica, that’s not right to do.”

“What’s going on Tony? What did NASCAR say and what’s on your mind?” Tony then looked from Ricky to Danica, then back to Ricky.

“I first want to know how you got in my shop,” Tony then started, trying to change the topic. He hoped that they’d get distracted enough. “You don’t even drive for me. Security is crazy to let you through, whether you’re dating her or not. You could be here to steal notes.”

“You can blame me for that one,” Danica then commented, keeping her gaze on her boss. “Now answer the questions.” She knew that he was trying to change the topic by how he accused Ricky and the fact that he had cleared Ricky being allowed inside previously – just not down at shop level.

“Three weeks probation is what I’ve been told.” Tony then turned his gaze back to his driver, curious as to her attitude. “And as far as the text messages and what’s on my mind, that’s none of your business as your boyfriend politely put it. Now if you excuse me, I would like you both to leave me alone.” As he watched the pair of them leave, he looked back down at the text messages, seeing alarms in his mind. This wasn’t like Dale to do this.

Tapping his phone on the screen, he decided to send a “test” text to see what happened.

Hey. Are you okay?

Yeah. Why are you asking?

Just thrown off by that text earlier. Totally thought you’d love it.

I do, but Rick is going nuts and the guys are upset and we don’t need that. You understand right?

kk I hear ya. It’s odd how you guys are teammates. How is that holding out?

He’s co-operating enough in front of Rick so that Rick doesn’t sense a thing. He’s listening, for now.

Dale Jr.’s House – Monday – Post Indianapolis

Dale put the phone back down on the bed, throwing on a new t-shirt and jeans, knowing that Lindsay and Angelica would be home soon from their day out. His mind was screaming to pick the phone up, tell Tony about the previous events, seek his best friend out for help. However, his heart was telling him otherwise. The words that Jeff had said rang through his mind and oddly told him that they were correct. The minute Jeff was charged, the minute the secret would be unreleased and Lindsay would be in danger.

“Dale?” He heard, slipping his phone in his pocket and heading down the stairs. Biting his tongue, he put on a smile, feeling a strong sense of pain across his lower back. His legs also felt sore and tired from the sexual abuse that he had taken.

“What do you think dad?” Angelica said as she spun around, showing off her hair. While she had left with blond hair, she came back with chocolate brown curls that seem to bring out her eyes more. “Lindsay went to get her hair cut and I’ve always wanted to go brown so thought I’d try it out. I hope you don’t mind that I didn’t ask.” Dale then smiled, as he leaned against the wall, not believing how beautiful she was turning out to be.

“It’s beautiful and you’re not in trouble,” he told her. “It’s a great color for you.” He then gave Lindsay a quick kiss, pulling her close, just wanting to hold her and not let go. Feeling Lindsay close to him, seeing Angelica smiling, he knew that he had done the right thing. It was what he had to do to protect his girls.

“We had a lot of fun,” Lindsay told him as she released herself from the hug. “Got our hair done, went out for lunch, went to a movie, went to the spa and finished the day with a visit to Sherry at Lavender.” Dale looked down at the bags, peaking in Angelica’s to see some of the new tops, pants and summer dresses that she had picked up from Sherry.

“I can tell that you had fun. It’s great that you guys are bonding so well.” Lindsay then smiled as she watched Angelica head up the stairs to put her stuff away.

“She’s great, Dale. Totally has your personality to her, but in a girly way.” After Angelica was out of earshot, he pulled Lindsay back close to him, giving her another kiss.

“Thank you for being acceptful of the fact that she’s my daughter and I screwed up. I appreciate that. I don’t think there’s many girls out there that would really understand.” She then smiled, giving him a kiss.

“You accepted my past and what I did without judgement. Why should I judge you based on her? I’ve gotten to know you and you’re such a sweet guy. I couldn’t imagine being with someone else. Being able to accept each other’s past and what has happened is what makes us work.” He then smiled as she headed up the stairs. He was definately doing the right thing in protecting them.

 

Chapter 18: The Following Weeks

I know I am combining weeks together with some of these updates, but I don’t want to leave with something that is too short.

Pocono – Raceday

The week that followed, Jeff’s visits stayed to a minimum with only one more day before heading to Pocono before the next race on the schedule. To say that race went well is far from the truth as Dale ended up finishing 32nd, two laps down, after struggling to find the handling all day. It ate at him more to see Jeff celebrating in victory lane than the finish itself.

“It’s just one week,” his crew chief Steve LeTarte told him as they stood in the hauler. “We’ll get it back next week. I know Walkin’s Glen is next week, but we’ve been getting better on the road courses. Maybe we’ll play the right strategy and win.” Dale showed a slight smile as he laid back on the couch, trying to allow himself to relax. His back was sore as all get out as the marks from the whips with the belt were deeper than weeks prior. He just wanted to scream as being in the firesuit wasn’t something that was helping. However, with Steve being there, he knew there was no chance of getting out of it. “Are you alright man?” Steve’s question caught Dale off guard as he looked towards his crew chief with questioning eyes. He watched as Steve came over, sitting on the end of the couch, eyes focused on him. There was a sense of worry Dale felt in that Steve knew something was up or Tony had broken the ultimate promise. “You just uncomf-”

“I haven’t been feeling that great all weekend,” Dale cut him off, not wanting to talk about things further. To any person who wondered about anything, that was his answer. It wasn’t the truth, but it wasn’t a lie. Thinking back to what had happened with Jeff, it had caused him to throw up numerous times. It seemed that this round was tougher than the round before and made him regret even saying anything to Tony to begin with.

“Well then use this week to get yourself better.”

“Gonna try.” Dale then sat up, standing up and leaving. He knew there wasn’t much to talk more about their day with how ugly it had been and he wanted to find his own peace so he could get out of the firesuit.

Walkin’s Glen – Raceday

The week following Pocono saw a total of four visits – one each day. Dale never understood why and questioned Jeff about it the last day. Jeff told him it was for security reasons to make sure things stayed quiet and Dale knew the threat that was above his head.

So going into the weekend, there was no secret that the pain was evident. His entire back was covered with marks – probably 30 to 40 separate ones – as some were scratches while others were bruises of all different colors. His legs were sore from the sexual abuse and force that Jeff had laid on him each night and making his walks appear that nothing was going on was becoming harder.

To his surprise, though, the race went way better than expected as Steve was right. He managed to keep the lap times decent throughout the day and save enough fuel to win the race. The celebration in victory lane was big as Dale had both of his girls there for the first time for a win.

“Way to go Dad!” Angelica said as she wrapped both her arms around him in excitement. “That’s how you win one of these races. Told you that you’d win at a road course some time.”

“Thanks sweetie,” he replied as he kissed her cheek, before turning to Lindsay and giving her a kiss and a hug. This was how it was supposed to be. They were supposed to be a happy family with any threats over their heads and it felt great to be there together in victory lane.

“Love you,” Lindsay told him simply before Dale turned around to see the shocked expression on Dave Burns face.

“I don’t know what to ask about first – she being your daughter and the world learning that, or the win,” the reporter said as Dale looked towards Angelica with a smile, before turning back to Dave.

“There’s no hiding it – that’s the princess of my life,” he said. “That’s my Angelica. Sometimes the craziest moments in your life turn into the biggest blessings and she certainly is. But enough about that! How about this team? Steve was perfect with his strategy!”

Some of the team listened to Dale talk with Dave Burns, while some of the other guys were talking to Angelica, also surprised by the news.

“I should’ve guessed that you were his daughter,” spotter TJ Majors commented as she smiled.

“I’m surprised you didn’t figure it out sooner,” Angelica replied as she felt arms wrap around her. Looking up, she knew exactly who it was.

“You can also say that you have met the newest driver for KKR,” Kasey said as he let her go, going over to high-five guys. Kasey had learned the truth when he offered her the contract a couple weeks ago, but kept it quiet at Dale’s request. In a couple of weeks, she would begin driving for Kasey in quarter midgets. Once she turned 16, he had it set up that she would drive for his USAC Midget team.

“Congratulations!” Rick Hendrick told her as he hugged Angelica with this being the first time that he had heard of the news. With the fact that she had lived with Rick for two years, they had become close and planned to stay close moving forward. “I guess Kasey beat me to the punch of asking you to a contract.”

“Now now, let’s not all jump on her at once,” Dale commented as he walked over to the group, finished with the interview.

As he stood there between his girls with Rick, there was a smile across his face. This was what it was all about. Though behind that smile, the pain was evident as there was a secret that was buried and it had the chances of ruining everything.

Another set of eyes knew this in the form of Tony Stewart as he looked over them, not really regretting that they had kept it a secret. If they had just said something and taken the right measures, this moment could be happening with that secret looming in the distance.

 

Chapter 19: Planning

Michigan – Qualifying Friday

Dale sat in the team hauler, thinking over the lap in his head. There was no way that he could qualify 29th at Michigan. That just wasn’t possible. However, that was where he had ended up after practice and he knew exactly why.

The past week was starting to catch up with him majorly as his legs were pouncing with pain, sore from top to bottom in being pushed outwards so Jeff could do what he wanted. As a result, his insides felt like they were burning and Dale could only question as to whether there was torn skin there. Leaning forward to undo his shoes, he regretted it right away, feeling the pain that consumed his back from top to bottom. There was no question about the marks that probably resided underneath the t-shirt and suit. The first couple of days he had brought himself to view them in the bathroom with the mirror. However, the past week, he didn’t want to see what was there; he didn’t want the reminder of what had happened in his mind.

“You okay?” He heard as he sat up slowly to see Steve standing there before him. With having worked together for awhile now, they were used to each other. Steve could sense when something was going on that was distracting Dale or bugging him immediately. It was evident in his feedback on how the car was and the tone of his voice. Steve knew that 90% of the time that the effort was always there when something bugged his driver, yet this time knew that not to be the case. “Dal-”

“I just don’t feel that good,” Dale let out before laying back on the couch, slightly, not wanting to put the pressure on his back. If he could find a way, he would rather lay on his stomach for comfort level. However, he never did that – especially at night – not wanting the chance that the evidence would be seen. “I haven’t felt good since Thursday. I feel bad ’cause I know we have a better car than that.” Steve sat down beside his driver, eyes on him, and it was clear that things weren’t where they needed to be. The physical exhaustion was evident on Dale’s face from the simple day of a practice session and two laps of qualifying. What would happen come tomorrow’s double practices or Sunday’s 500 mile race? “Tell the guys I apologize. Gonna try and get better for Sunday.” Dale was then surprised when he heard another set of footsteps amongst the hall of the transporter, surprised at who had shown up in their hauler. “Tony, what are you doing here?”

“I knew something was up by how you were acting,” Tony started as he sat on the other side of the couch, looking towards Steve, before looking down at Dale. “And the only way to corner you with this was his help.” Steve then looked down, feeling bad for being part of Tony’s betrayal in Dale’s trust, but knowing that it had to be done with what was going on. After Tony told him everything, assured him that there was physical proof if he didn’t belief, shock shot through Steve. Steve remembered working with Jeff and how nice Jeff was. How could this happen? Though, another emotion hit Steve – concern. He knew that he had to help Dale.

“He told me everything and before you worry, we’ve kept it between us,” Steve then starts. “Tony only told me because he knows that I can help you most on weekends.” Dale sat up, looking between them, not believing what Tony had done. How could Tony betray him like that?

“And don’t you yell at me, Earnhardt. You should’ve kept your end of the bargain.” Dale looked straight at Tony, surprised by those words. There was no way that Tony could’ve figured out that Jeff was back. He had made sure to keep distance there.

“How do you know that I didn’t keep my promise?” Dale asked as Tony smiled.

“I was by your place twice this week and I saw his car there,” Tony started. “Plus, we never took down the security cameras, either.” Seeing the horror on Dale’s face from the realization, Tony knew that he had to set things straight. “Now don’t worry – I haven’t shared any of that and I really haven’t even watched much. Once I got a slight sight of the beginning, I shut it off.”

“Fuck you, Stewart. How could you not trust me when I laid down my entire heart to you, telling you every secret and trusting you with them?”

“Then why didn’t you tell Tony what was going on when Jeff came back?” Steve then asked before Tony could even say another word. “That trust goes both ways, Dale.” Tony then moved closer to Dale, knowing what needed to be done before they even moved forward.

“Let me see what he’s done to you,” Tony pleaded. “I want to help you – remember.” Dale then slowly stood up, dropping the firesuit off of his arms after unzipping, letting it fall to the ground. Underneath, he wore a white t-shirt, in which he pulled up so both Tony and Steve could see what lied underneath. “Shit! What the hell has been going on between you two?” Tony couldn’t believe the marks that were there as it was twice as bad as before. How could Dale honestly let this go on?

“I’m going to get the cops. That just isn’t right.” Dale then looked towards his crew chief, holding his hand out to stop him. He remembered the words that Jeff said to him and wasn’t letting either of them move.

“No – you are not doing that Steve,” Dale told his crew chief point blank as Steve shook his head in confusion.

“So you’re going to let this continue?” Steve then asked. “You realize the cops can stop him from telling Lindsay’s secret?”

“How do you know that for sure, Steve?” Steve then looked down, knowing there was no definite way of knowing.

“They can put in boundaries to protect you and Lindsay. They can put boundaries in so he can’t let information out.”

“There’s no definition of knowing that for sure and that’s what scares me the most.” Looking down, though, Dale had an idea of his own. “However, I’m going to chance my luck – but not yet. I need your help, both of you.” Steve then crossed his arms, curious as to this new attitude that Dale had.

“We’ll do whatever you need,” Steve started. “So what is your idea?” Steve watched Dale carefully as Dale put his t-shirt back down, picking up the bottle of Tylenol for a pair of pills, anxiously awaiting the answer from his driver.

“I can’t drive this weekend and we both know that due to how I am feeling so we’re going to play this into Jeff’s hands. Get Regan to practice the car tomorrow and perhaps by Sunday I’ll be fine. If not, we’re doing a driver swap.” Dale then smiled as he let the cold water trickle down his throat, knowing that it was the perfect idea. “With seeing my weakness, he will think that he’s won the battle of hurting my ass and agree with my plead to lay off for a week so that way I can find some strength. He’s done it before so he’ll take pleasure in that again.” Tony then looked towards Dale confused as he did the math in his head.

“That takes us to Bristol,” Tony said as he looked towards Steve and back towards their driver. “What are you thinking, Earnhardt?” Dale then crossed his arms as he looked out the window and saw Jeff standing out there, joking with a couple other drivers.

“Bristol race I’m going to show him who’s boss very quickly. I’m going to show him why you don’t mess with an Earnhardt and their family. I’m going to do it in a way that will be remembered on track by many fans forever. Steve, consider it your Daytona revenge. Then after the race, he’ll be fuming and the two of us will meet. At that time, call in the cops and he’s arrested.” Dale then turned back to the pair that sat before him. “I’m taking a chance in trusting that him being arrested will result in the secrets being kept by the advice you both give me. Considering that we’re cornering him off guard, he won’t have a chance to spill first. If he sees us talking and some security guard, he can drop it off easy. Plus, I want a piece of him before he pays for what he’s done.” Tony stood up, walking over to where Dale stood, knowing that the plan was risky. It could result in more pain and/or a secret revealed without being warranted.

“Why Bristol? How do you know you’ll get your chance?” Steve then smiled, crossing his arms.

“Cause we have a really good bullet for that race and we’ll be up front, ready to dice with the best of them,” Steve commented. “I’m ready for some Daytona revenge, even if it means ruffling some feathers. I totally now understand why you did what you did Stewart and don’t envy it.”

“Plus, I know him better than you both and I know how to mess with his mind if I want to,” Dale added as he sat back on the couch, flinching at the pain of the fabric of his shirt touching his skin.

Well – do you think Dale has a good plan? Or do you think it will backfire? I’ll also admit that in writing this plan out, it seemed to feel better in my mind than written out.

 

Chapter 20: Raceday

Michigan – Sunday

Dale sat in the team hauler, pulling his firesuit on as Tony and Steve sat on the couch, watching. They hadn’t decided yet whether Dale would run the whole race, and Dale had to still talk to Jeff about a week of nothing. The concern was garage wide, though, as people were wondering as to why Dale hadn’t done any practice on Saturday. Some of the drivers even stopped by the motorcoach to see how he was, and as always, it was put off as “I’m just sick. Thanks for the concern.”

Looking at the pair of people that sat there with him, it was evident that next weekend was going to be a perfectly planned ordeal. If everything worked out, then they could move forward without any issues.

“So, am I expecting to race you all day?” Tony asked as he watched Dale do the zipper up.

“I got enough sleep and atleast the sting off the pain that I think I’ll be okay,” Dale told Tony as he looked towards Steve at the tail end of that. Though even with that said, they knew that they’d keep Regan around just in case.

“You let me know on the radio if it becomes too much,” Steve commented as he couldn’t stomach himself how much Dale was going through and how he could keep a straight face with it going on.

“Steve is right as you don’t need to push it,” Tony added as he gave Dale a quick hug before standing up. With it being close to race time, Tony knew that he had to go check in with the team, even if his heart wanted to stay there by Dale. “I’ll see you out there.”

“You got it,” Dale replied as Steve and Dale watched Tony head out. “I’ll be back in five. I got to go see our dear teammate.” Steve rolled his eyes and with a nod, he watched Dale head out and go over to the 24 hauler. Steve kept his eyes focused on the pair, not wanting to miss if something a strange happened.

Once Dale got over to the 24 hauler, he found Jeff standing there talking to Alan and waited till the pair finished and Alan walked away. He watched Jeff turn around and face him, a smile coming across his face. There was satisfaction in seeing the pain that Dale was going through. Knowing they were far enough out of ear shot of everybody, Dale knew that he could bring up what he wanted to bring up.

“What do you want?” Jeff asked as he locked eyes with Dale. Dale let the full hurt of the pain go forth in how he looked back at Jeff, knowing that it was a must.

“I’m not sick like everybody thinks I am,” Dale started as he kept watch for people around them. “I’m just finding it hard to run this weekend with what you did last week.” Dale then focused his eyes to the ground, knowing that convincing Jeff for this to work would be hard. However, he knew Jeff well and all signs pointed to this working. After all, Jeff wanted this to remain as their little secret.

“Well, like I said, that’s your problem and you seem to be doing a good job covering it up.” Dale shook his head as he raised his gaze to meet Jeff’s, now worried Jeff would decline the offer. “So why are you her-”

“I wanted to see if you could let next week slide because of it being Bristol and you know how ruthless Bristol can be. Give me a week to rest up so I can be ready for that beat down, and then we can meet up and continue.” As he watched the grin cross Jeff’s face, worry hit him as he thought maybe he had said too much in his request.

“Fine, but I will see you on the Sunday.” Dale smiled inside, knowing that would work perfectly as the plan was set to go down on Saturday night anyway.

“Okay.” Dale then walked away, pulling out his phone and the chat window for Tony.

Part 1 complete. He agreed. He wants to meet Sunday so we got time Saturday.

Dale then walked back to the 88 hauler, managing to avoid the media and everybody, tucking himself back inside.

“Did he listen?” Steve asked instantly as he heard the door close and Dale shook his head yes as he made his way to the back, sitting back on the couch. “Good. If it was me, though, I’d go say something right now and get it over with.” Steve then stood up, ready to leave, knowing that his driver needed some time to himself to sort out everything going through his mind and the pain.

“It can’t end here,” Dale spoke causing Steve to freeze. “It has to end at Bristol.” Steve then turned around, facing his driver with surprise written on his face.

“Wh-”

“It all started in 2004 after my win and some late night fun. That was also the place that he found out that Jimmie and I slept together in Daytona. It just seems perfect, Steve.” He then laid back, shaking his head as he didn’t want to think about how things started with Jeff and him. “Things with Jeff and I started a year and a half ago at Daytona.” Seeing the shock on Steve’s face at how long it had been going on for, there was a realization that things had gone way too far. “I didn’t say anything because of the threats that he held above my head. Call me a chicken, but I don’t give a shit.”

“You’re no chicken. I don’t know what I’d do if somebody said something about Trisha and the kids. In my eyes, Dale, you’re stronger than I realized to be able to have dealt with this for this long.” Steve then continued his walk down the hall, leaving the trailer, shocked by Dale’s words for him. How were they able to keep it hidden all this time?

The race went better than expected that afternoon as Dale would run the full race, finishing eighth. As he stood on pit road looking down at Jeff, who finished sixth, there was a smile that came across his face. Bristol was about to write another memory in their book.

The Bruises – Chapters 1 Thru 5

thebruises

Chapter 1: Who Did This?

June – Michigan Int’l Speedway – Post-Race

She felt bad, real bad. She never meant to get into him. But when the tire blew, she had no control of the car and felt the contact right away. Why did she have to wreck him? Why not somebody else?

“I just want to go apologize,” she told Ricky as they were packing their bags in the motorcoach. Ricky, meanwhile, had a decent run as he had finished 13th. “I’ll be right back.” She gave him a kiss before heading for the door, knowing that he’d be ready by the time she got back. She walked through the motorcoach lot, knowing exactly where she was going. She had been by his motorcoach plenty of times, talking to him about an array of things.

Meanwhile, inside of his motorcoach, he just wanted to scream as he thought he had the car to win that day. He thought that at the end of the day, his team would be celebrating in victory lane. Instead, he was wrecked out with about 15 laps to go because of her flat tire. He knew he couldn’t be mad as it was an accident, but it still pissed him off.

“Figures he’d win,” Dale commented aloud as he shut off the tv, not wanting to watch anymore of the post-race blitz. He had already heard enough to make him want to puke. “Why couldn’t someone else win? Anybody but him!” He then threw the water bottle in frustration, watching it burst open as it bounced off the one wall. “Fuck!”

“Dale?” He heard, startling him. Who was that? Why were they there? What hadn’t he closed the door after Lindsay left to go get something? He turned around, surprised to see Danica standing there. Hadn’t she left already with Ricky?

“Hey.” He didn’t know what else to say. She had probably seen the hissy fit.

“Hey.” She then walked up the steps slowly, knowing that he was mad by what she had witnessed. It was expected though as he had dominated the race before the wreck. Though, that wasn’t of concern anymore. He had been standing there topless, racing suit tied around his waist. She had gotten one look at his back and wanted to scream. She could see a trail of bruises, from his shoulders to his waist line. What was going on? She also saw scratches down his arms, which continued to grow her concern. She sat down on the couch as she watched him furiously try to pull his suit, knowing that now he wanted to hide it. “I just wanted to apologize for getting into you there.” She then grabbed his hand, stopping him, wanting to ask him about, still curious. “What’s going on?” She watched as he froze up, pulling him down to sit with her. Something was seriously up. She eyed the scratches more closely, trying to determine their depth. Had he simply fallen? Maybe he had gotten it from playing with the animals? Or was something a miss? “Dale, you can tell me. I promise I won’t say anything to anybody. What are these bruises and scratches from?” He then looked away, taking a deep breath, not wanting to talk about it. He knew exactly what it was from and wasn’t willing to speak of the details.

“It’s nothing, Danica.” He then stood up, pulling his racing suit back up, hoping she’d get the idea that he just wanted to be left alone with his own frustrations. “I just fel-”

“Like hell!” He then turned around surprised by those words. Did she really say what he thought she said?

“Can you leave please? I appreciate the apology and I know it wasn’t your fault, but I’d like to left alone.” She stood up, seeing the fear in his eyes, knowing that there was something that he was definitely hiding and it made her sick. Why wouldn’t he say something?

“Dale, I know these are caused from somebody hurting you. Now, who did it?” She wanted to be there to console him, help him. She hated seeing him like this. There was only one thing that she could think of. Somebody in particular wasn’t there at that moment and now he wondered if that’s why she had to leave so suddenly. “Dale? Did Lindsay do this?” He turned around, eyes full of shock. How could Danica say that when she knew how much Dale loved her? Oh wait, it was possible. Most times you see bruises on somebody you think of their significant other.

“No, it wasn’t Lindsay.” Danica then took a deep breath, knowing that she had to find out who.

“Then who was it? I swear I won’t tell anybody at all.” Dale then looked down, knowing what he had to tell her, despite every inch of him bagging to say the truth.

“I can’t tell you. I just can’t do it. I’m sorry.” He then walked to the back of the motorcoach, closing his bedsroom door, wanting to find something else to throw. There was his escape. He found finally tell somebody and get it out there as to what was going on.

“Dale!” Danica then yelled as she made her way to the back of the motorcoach, knocking on the door. She knew by the fact that he was hiding in the room that he had wanted to tell her. “Please tell me.” She then heard footsteps, turning suddenly to see Lindsay standing there. Now this wasn’t a pretty picture indeed. She then walked away from the door, wanting to comfort Lindsay, wanting to ask her. She knew what was going on. “Lindsay, what’s going on with Dale?” Lindsay looked at her confused, wondering why she was there. Shouldn’t Danica be cuddling Ricky at that moment?

“Lindsay!” The both girls heard from the bedsroom as Lindsay kept her eyes focused on Danica.

“What are you doing here?” Lindsay then asked, now really confused. She then closed the door, taking steps down the short hall way to be face-to-face with Danica.

“Lindsay, are you okay?” Danica then looked towards Lindsay confused. Why was Dale asking that? She watched the bedsroom door open and Dale step between them, wrapping his arms around Lindsay. What was going on?

“I’m fine sweetheart. I just want to know why she’s here. Why is Danic-”

“She came to apologize for what happened.” Lindsay then let out a sigh, realizing that her worry was for nothing. She saw what had happened on the track and it made her stomach sick. What was worse was the events that took place after that.

“Oh, okay. Well, if you’re ready, I’m ready to go.”

“Lindsay, I know about the bruises on his back and the scratches down his arms,” Danica then started, not wanting to leave without confronting Lindsay on the question first. “What’s going on?” Lindsay held Dale close to her, knowing of them herself and knowing where they were from.
“We can’t tell you,” Lindsay then started as she felt Dale cling to her. “There’s a lot going on that you don’t know about.” By those words, she knew that they were caused by somebody within this very garage, maybe this very room. However, seeing as Dale was clinging on her, it was probably not Lindsay.

“Like what?”

“I told that I can’t tell you who did it,” Dale then started lightly. “Now can you leave please?” He then buried his head in Lindsay’s shoulder, knowing what she had just been through herself.

“Can you please leave us be?” Lindsay then asked. “I can promise you, swear to you, that it isn’t me who is doing this. I’m going through it myself, too. We just can’t talk about it right now.” Lindsay then kissed Dale’s cheek, hoping that Danica would leave so they could be together, alone.

“Go Danica…..Thanks for coming and apologizing once again.” Danica then slowly left the motorcoach, thought swirling through her mind. After what she had witnessed and spoke about, she was worried. Who would do such a thing? “Did he do it?” After he watched the door close, he tilted Lindsay’s head up to his, wanting her to answer the question. He knew why she had been called away.

“Yeah, but I’m alright.” She then gave him a kiss, rubbing her hands down his back, knowing how much it hurt him.

“I just wish this could end.” Lindsay then wiped his tears away as they sat on the couch, knowing how much pain he was truly going through. “When he came looking for you, he told me that he’d make sure to come see me.” Dale then slipped his firesuit off, biting his tongue as he felt the pain take over him from the bruises.

“He told me that he’d be by during the week.” Lindsay then wrapped her arms around him, not wanting to see his tears, wanting every bit of it to end.

Outside, as they walked through the motorcoach lot and ready to leave the area, Danica had just finished telling Ricky about the details. She couldn’t hold it in. She had to tell somebody. As they walked, Ricky thought about it through and through, agreeing with her that something wasn’t right. There was something going on and both were doing one heck of a job hiding it.

“I don’t wha-” Danica then started as Ricky took a glance towards her.

“I do.” He cut her off simply as he grabbed her hand, knowing that he was going to find a way to get to the bottom of it. “You need to go tell Tony. He can get through to Dale.”

 

Chapter 2: Stewart

Monday after Michigan – Stewart-Haas Racing

“So I told Ricky and he said to tell you,” Danica finished off telling Tony about what had happened the previous day in Dale’s motorcoach. She was scared speaking up, scared telling his secret, but she had to tell somebody.

“I know we’re close and you’re friends with him so maybe you can help,” Ricky added, as that what was going through his mind after Danica had told him everything. He also had thoughts of telling Jimmie or Rick, but wasn’t sure how that would go over with how they are friends and such.

“Like I said, it’s not Lindsay, but it’s somebody he knows that is close in his life. I just wis-”

“Just quiet for a minute!” Tony then yelled, trying to think things over. How was this happening? Why was this happening? Was his affection towards Lindsay a cover-up? Was that a set-up to ward her off? Tony wanted to know why would somebody else do something? He sat back in his chair, musing in his own thoughts as she walked over to where he sat, curious as to what he was thinking. Did Tony know something? “Go back to your side of the desk, please. I really want to think this over before I do something I will probably regret.” By those words, Danica knew what Tony was thinking – he was in ass kicking mode. But who’s ass was first? “There’s a lot that has gone on that you both don’t know about and that could be why this is going on.” Tony then pulled out his phone, thinking of what to do. He was his own boss. He could leave at that minute and run over to Dale and confront him. Or would a text be simpler – would that cover the basis better? “Linsday isn’t the only person that has been in his life. Jimmie has been there, too.”

“So do you think Jimmie did this?” Ricky asked with his eyes wide open. He was in total disbelief. He would never ever believe Jimmie doing such a thing. How was this possible?

“It can’t be….” Danica thought outloud, also in shock by Tony’s words. There had to be some other explanation.

“When you say in his life, what do you mean?” Ricky knew that Dale was good friends with his teammate, but was Jimmie something special?

“They were in love and had sex; are you happy now?” Tony didn’t want to tell Ricky and Danica that, but knew that he was left only to do that. “I don’t believe Jimmie did it, though. I honestly have no idea whatsoever who is the person.” Ricky then crossed his arms, watching Tony fiddle with his phone.

“So what are you going to do?” Tony then stood up, knowing that texting wouldn’t be the same as confronting. If Dale wasn’t going to speak about it, there was only one way to make him.

“I’m going to go see him tonight and get him to fucking tell me. Then I’m going to go kick some ass before the night is over.” Danica then smiled, already knowing in her mind that’s how Tony would react.

“I will have your bail money posted for you,” Danica joked as they all laughed, trading some hugs as they left the office.

“I don’t even give a shit about that right now. All I give a shit is about finding out who is doing this.” They then walked through the halls as Ricky knew he’d have to leave soon, bounded by Tony’s rules of where he was allowed within the building.

“I still can’t believe you let me in the building,” Ricky commented as they walked through a set of doors. “But really, do you think you can get him to tell you? I mea-”

“I will force him to tell me,” Tony cut Ricky off, already determined that he wasn’t finishing the night without kicking ass. Danica then watched Tony send a text, curious as to who it was to.

Hey – are you still sleeping with Earnhardt?

No – why?

Just curious buddy.

Have the hots for him?

lol Not a chance. Just heard some rumors.

From who?

Don’t worry..shop guys. I’ll kill ‘em.

Tony closed his phone, now having a mind filled with too many thoughts. Was it Linsdsay? Was it Jimmie? Or was it someone else? How could this be happening? Why was he feeling so bad for Dale? Dale was a strong guy! He could handle it. Why was his heart cracking?

“Are you going to be alright?” Ricky asked as they reached the exit doors, seeing the look on Tony’s face. “I mean you look shocked, paranoid, confused. Sure you don’t want us to com-”

“I will handle it,” Tony assured them. “You go back to your love life now children.” Tony then closed the door, putting his phone in his pocket. “Why do you have that affect on me?” Shaking his head, he headed back inside, knowing where he was heading as he had to make sure to get things done fast so he could do what he had to do that night.

 

Chapter 3: The Visit

Dale Jr.’s house – Post-Michigan

Getting out of the truck, locking the doors, Tony Stewart was still nervous about walking through the doors and questioning Dale Jr. about what Danica had spoken of. What if it was nothing that she noticed? What if she was just overreacting to something that wasn’t needed? Shaking his head, he knew he was in denial at that point. He knew that he was trying to make it disappear because he didn’t want to believe that someone was hurting one of the people that he cared about. He was already too far in to turn back now.

He had texted Dale earlier that afternoon, wondering if they could hang out and drink beers, chit chat like they always would. It was a typical request that Dale wouldn’t get suspicious about. Dale had accepted – as he always did – and they agreed to meet up at the house around 9 to enjoy their back porch discussion.

As he walked up to the front door, he debated in his head how he would bring it up. Would he allow themselves to have a casual conversation and bring it up very lightly? Or would he spit it out, demanding answers? Either way, he wanted those answers before he walked back to his truck later that night. He wanted to know the exact name of the person and their address so he could fulfill the words that he had told Danica and Ricky earlier that day.

Knocking on the door, he moved his feet around nervously, still full of debate in mind, but now also anger. Deep breathes, he told himself. He knew he couldn’t let Dale see him like this to start off the night. It wouldn’t allow them to get to what he wanted to talk about.

“I thought you’d never show up,” he heard as the door opened, smiling. Even with something going on, Dale was being typical Dale in Tony’s mind and that’s what made it hard to believe. Even on track, things had been going great. Dale was running up front each week, clicking off good solid finishes without any worries. How could something like this be happening behind the scenes to ruin that good flavor?

“Remember – I do have a company to run,” Tony joked back as Dale led him through the house out to the back porch. They went out there, Tony closing the door behind him as he knew with the topic at hand, nobody needed to hear the details. Relaxing in the same chairs they always sat in, the cooler was already there, full of drinks ready to go. Everything so far was going as it would normally and that meant that the door was wide open for Tony to do what he needed to do. “It seems the business never quits for a second. There’s always some sort of paper that needs to be filled out and signed.” Dale then smiled, as he opened the cooler grabbing a drink for himself. With everything that was going on, it felt great to kick back and relax on the porch and share drinks with a friend. For the next couple of hours, he could escape what he had been going through. “How’s things at JR Motorsports?” Despite the self-arguments in his mind, Tony had decided to take things slow, not wanting to hit the pressure cooker right away. He also knew that he couldn’t waste too much time as he had to ask Dale before he had too much to drink. Getting him totally drunk and then asking wasn’t a good idea at this moment if he wanted a logical explanation.

“They’re alright if you consider how the boys are running on track.” Tony then shook his head as he grabbed his own bottle, quickly popping the top off, knowing he couldn’t look like there was something going on. Tony knew what Dale meant as it seemed Brad Sweet couldn’t stay out of trouble, while Regan Smith was having a solid season, currently sitting fourth in points. Tony watched Dale down half of the bottle in a swig, knowing that time was ticking till they got into the rest of the cooler. Though he was looking for any sign of what Danica spoke of. Dale sat beside him, wearing one of his all too familiar white t-shirts. For the area that as visible below the short sleeves, there was no marks to seen, none of the scratches that she spoke of. This person is careful with what they’re doing, Tony thought to himself. This person knew that people were always around Dale and there was no chance of leaving any clues.

“Brad will get better with experience and hey, Regan could still win that championship.” Dale smiled as Tony was right about Regan. Making up 20 points was very easy to do with three months left on the schedule. Many drivers had made up that many points in one week so what was stopping them?

“No doubt in my mind with his talent. How are things with Ryan and Danica?” Tony looked down, having wished Dale had not asked the question as he was hoping to bring up what was truly on his mind.

“Ryan is doing okay – no luck finding sponsorship for next year, while Danica is, well, learning.” There was no secret that Danica was having some bad runs, not even finishing within the top 20 as they had at least hoped for. But, Tony took it all in stride, knowing that each week she was continuing to learn and they would get better. “Listen, talking about Danica, I do want to talk you about something important. She came to my office today with some concerns.” Tony knew that he couldn’t wait any longer with how many thoughts were going through his mind and the concern that his heart felt. How could he sit there beside his best friend without doing anything?

“What did she say?” Well Dale was curious as to what Tony would answer, in his heart, he already knew the answer. She had seen enough on Sunday to be concerned and he knew after she left the motorcoach, that she would tell somebody. He was hoping that she’d only tell Ricky, but as Dale could tell, that wasn’t case. But why tell Tony? Why tell the guy that was known for kicking everybody’s ass?

“She told me that after coming to apologize to you, she saw some bruises and scratches that she was concerned about.” Dale then stood up, walking over to the railing, not knowing what to say next. For most people, he could lie to them, say it was cause of something. To others, like Danica, he knew he could ward them off and they wouldn’t press the issue. But Tony – he knew he couldn’t push Tony away. He knew that Tony wouldn’t leave till he got a straight answer and that worried Dale. Dale was scared to say who it was, knowing what was at stake. What if Dale opened his mouth and told Tony? Then what would happen to them? “Now I know by your reaction that she wasn’t fucking lying.”

“Just leave, please. I don’t want to talk about it.” Looking out at the field, Dale knew that he wasn’t in the mood to deal with Tony anymore that night. What he had hoped would be his escape was now turning into something worse than the pain itself. How could she send him over to push the issue? Why not someone else? Instead of listening to Dale’s requests, Tony joined Dale over by the railing, knowing that he came there wanting to know one thing and wasn’t leaving till he cracked the nut.

“You’re not doing yourself any favors by not saying anything to anybody about it.” Dale then looked towards Tony, shaking his head at Tony’s words. Tony didn’t know anything. Tony knew nothing about the secrets. He knew nothing about the torture that he was going through – the violation. Tony knew nothing about what Lindsay was having to deal with. How could he think Dale would open his heart and just tell him?

“You don’t understand…” Tony then put his hand on Dale’s, knowing that he had to do anything in his power to get Dale to tell him. If it meant showing the soft side that secretly cared about his best friend more than the racing and the team, then so be it.

“Then help me understand by telling me what’s going on.”

“I can’t do it.” Dale then turned, beginning to walk the length of the porch as the tears began to fall down his face. For the first time in a long time, somebody else besides his torturer and Lindsay had seen the tears fall out of his eyes. This had been going on for two months now and yet Dale had managed to hide it all from everybody. Why was he breaking right now in front of Tony? He walked over to the stairs, walking down them slowly in the darkness, heading into the backyard, just wanting to run. In that instance, all the pain that he had gone through – physically, emotionally – just wanted to pour our. He wasn’t about to let Tony be there to be consult him. That would just lead to him spilling the beans and that wasn’t an option.

Tony stood there, leaning on the railing, watching Dale go sit by the rocks by the pool, dipping his feet in, just staring. He saw enough. He saw the tears. He saw the pain written in Dale’s eyes when he said those few words. He saw everything that he needed to see to know it was true. How could this be happening? In that instant, he also felt his own heart break in half. How could he let this happen? For so many years, even when Jimmie was with Dale, he had always wondered what they’d be like together. How could he not be there to protect him?

“Why won’t he just leave?” Dale said outloud as he swirled the water around his feet. He was hoping that Tony would just leave as he didn’t want to have to deal with him. He didn’t want to talk about it, he didn’t want Tony to know anymore details.

As he sat there, losing himself in the motion of swirling the water around his feet, he then felt his phone vibrate. Pulling it out of his pocket, quickly unlocking it, many thoughts were going through his mind. It was probably the torturer, speaking of their next meeting. Or maybe it was one of the guys, with some random text. However, as he read the text, he realized it wasn’t none of that.

I wasn’t going to leave because of one thing – I care about you. To see you cry, to see you hurt, it breaks my heart. How could you let someone do this without telling everyone? For your own sake, please tell someone that can help you! Tell the cops!……Considering you don’t want to talk about it, I decided to leave. However, when you want to talk about it, know that I am just a phone call away. The minute you phone, the minute I will walk through that door and be there to hear your story. To help you. Remember Dale, I love and care about you. I want to see you happy.     – Smoke

Dale closed the message, putting his phone in his pocket, feeling the tears trickle down his face.

Meanwhile, out front of the house, Tony sat in his truck, holding his phone in his lap – waiting for a text, waiting for a phone call. He was praying in his mind that Dale would open up and allow him to be there. Why wasn’t he responding?

“Fuck Dale!” Tony yelled before throwing his phone across the truck in frustration, hearing the screen shatter against the passenger door. He then turned the truck on, backing out of the driveaway and driving away. If Dale wasn’t going to open up and realize that someone was there, willing to give him a way out, then Tony wasn’t going to sit there all night and waste the night away. “Now I need another new phone. And I still didn’t kick anyone’s ass! Why won’t he listen to me?” Driving down the dark roads, Tony lost his mind his own thoughts, thinking it over. What was stopping him? Why wouldn’t he say something?

 

Chapter 4: The Wreck

Daytona International Speedway – July

2 weeks had past by and still nothing – Dale had yet to reach out to Tony and speak about any of the details. There was nights that he wanted to, but as he would reach for the phone, fears would enter his mind, scared of what could happen if the news spread.

However, after what had happened on the last lap of the race, he was ready to do it – knowing that he needed to talk to Tony. This time, the torturer had crossed the line.

Last lap coming out of turn four, Dale and his new found enemy were side-by-side, battling for the win. As they went for the tri-oval, it looked like without a doubt that it’d be the “other guy” taking the win as he was half a car ahead. Dale was fine to settle for second – mad, but would settle for second. It would at least keep him up front in the points and that’s all that mattered. However, in a split second, that finish was wiped out of his hands. The car to his outside came down, making contact, sending Dale for a spin through the grass, resulting in a finish of 14th – or at least that’s what NASCAR has decided for now. How was that fair?

Sitting in the trailer, glad that he at least didn’t find a wall in the incident or another car, he was ready to press the numbers on his phone that could give him the freedom his body ached for. Finally somebody would know what was going on. Finally, maybe, somebody could help him and he could escape what he was going throug-

“What the hell was that about?” Dale heard, surprised, as he looked up to see Steve LeTarte storming into the trailer, furious. Steve wasn’t one to get mad. He never got mad. He typically always had a calming sentence or two to put Dale in his place. Dale was actually glad that Steve was able to do that with everything that was going on. “How does a teamma-”

“Steve, calm down,” Dale encouraged, not needing to hear this right now as his phone sat in his hand ready to dial Tony’s number. He had put Tony’s number on speed dial, not wanting any hesitation when the decision was finally made. “He probably got loos-”

“I’ve watched the replay 20 times and no, he didn’t! He did that on purpose!” Dale watched Steve storm back out of the trailer, still surprised at how mad the normal crew chief was. For sure something had to give. Now it had gone too far. It was fine when it was away from the track, hidden from everybody. Dale could handle that, to a certain extent only, but he could handle it. He could keep the tears hidden away, locked to where nobody saw them. He could hide the marks that were left on his body as reminders for what had happened. But to take it on the track and do something that messed the one thing Dale held on to up? To screw up the race for the team because of their own deal? Was that even fair? Not at all!

As Dale fiddled with the phone in his hand, now returning to a mind of self doubt in saying something, he could hear Steve outside discussing things with Rick. This definitely isn’t going to end well for me, Dale thought. He knew once word spread to Rick and their “teammate” got in trouble, there’d be anger to be spread and directly at him. That was how it always worked. As soon as something happened on track to make him mad, he would take it out on Dale right away. It didn’t matter what. Dale was his pressure release and that was all that mattered. It didn’t matter whether somebody else had caused the wreck, he had caused the wreck or some mechanical failure – Dale felt the blunt of it all. That’s why part of him was glad to see the guy win as maybe he could escape for a week. However, with Rick involved, that wasn’t likely.

“Rick is going to have a talk with him about it,” Dale heard Steve say as Steve returned inside the trailer, somewhat calmer. While Steve was calmer, Dale’s blood began to boil and rush through his veins. What would be the plan for Monday night or Tuesday afternoon if that be the case? What would the torturer do next?

Filled with worry, knowing that he couldn’t say a word to Steve or Rick without giving off a clue, he quickly picked up his phone – sending out the text that Tony had been begging to read the past two weeks.

Tony, I’m ready. I’m ready to tell you what’s going on. Meet me at the house tonight at 11 when I get home. 

As Tony sat in his hauler reading the text, he smiled. Finally Dale had come around. Finally Dale was going to speak the truth and say what was going on. There was only one thing Tony feared now – who was the person behind it and what had they done? What had they done to push Dale to the edge of telling?

“Whoever it is, they better hope that somebody is there to save them,” Tony spoke outloud before quickly heading out, not wanting to be late for their meeting together.

“Whoa Tony – slow down!” Danica yelled as Tony almost ran into her, trying to make his way quickly through the garage area.

“Sorry. Didn’t see ya.” Danica was shocked by those words as she followed him. How could he not see her when she was wearing a bright, bright green suit?

“Where are you off to in a hurry? I have never seen you run like this before – except when you’re mad. Did somebody piss you off?” Tony looked towards her, knowing that was exactly the truth.

“Oh yeah, and they’re going to pay. Remember the promise you told me a couple weeks ago.” She then smiled, knowing what that meant. It was finally time for Tony to figure out what was going on. She had to admit – she had been worried about Dale since the day she noticed the first bruise. She had wanted to go and say something to him, but knew by Tony’s words to sit back and wait till he was ready.

“Good luck.” She then headed off in the other direction as Tony ran into his motorcoach, quickly grabbing his bag.

“If I was her, I’d be saying that to oh said bitch.” As Tony ran out of the motorcoach 10 minutes later with his bag packed, he pulled out his phone, sending one quick text.

Thanks for finally texting me. It’s about damn time. I’ll meet you on the back porch when ya get there. If I get there before you, I’ll let Killer and Stroker out for a pee.

Chapter 5: The Marks…
Dale Jr.’s House – Saturday night, post July Daytona race

Tony stood on the back porch, watching the two dogs run around, looking for a spot to do their business. The race had gone alright for Stewart as he managed a fourth place finish despite the wreck at the end. However, that wasn’t what was bugging him. He was concerned about what would happen when Dale came home. Would he be able to take in every thing that Dale was going to tell him? Could he handle hearing the events first hand himself? Shaking his head, he knew he had to. He had to so he could kick the person’s ass. He hated the thought of what Dale was going through and it made him sick everytime he thought about it.

“How’d you let the dogs out?” Tony heard, causing him freeze. He knew that voice from anywhere. He didn’t need to look at the eyes behind him to know who it was.

“I went and got the spare key from Kelley,” Tony replied as he held the set of keys up, still keeping his eyes focused on the dogs.

“Did you say anything to her about why you’re here?” Tony could hear the fear in Dale’s voice as it was quivered, while just above a whisper. Tony now knew that there’d be lots of comfort needed because whatever was going on was big.

“No – I just told her that I came here to hang out with you and chit chat over some drinks due to having tomorrow off.” Tony then turned slightly, locking eyes with Dale. He had to make one thing clear before he started anything. “When I told you that you could trust me, that I wouldn’t tell anyone, that it would be kept between us – I meant it.” Dale smiled slightly, still keeping his eyes down. Was he ready to let somebody in and let them know exactly what was going on?

“Thanks…..I’ll take those two inside and get changed. Stroker! Killer!” Both dogs shot their eyes up, immediately running to their owner, giving him licks. Dale chased the pair of dogs inside as Tony turned around, looking over the backyard again. In all previous thoughts of this moment, he had felt confident. Now, he felt scared – how would he start this conversation off? How would he show that Dale that he was really going to be there for him? Tony shook his head, downing the last of the bottle of the water as Dale came back out, changed into a t-shirt and some jeans.

“Where’s Lindsay?” Tony knew he had to start the conversation somewhere and this was a spot to begin it, since he was worried that maybe she’d show up in between their conversation and mess up the confession. Maybe that’s why Dale had chosen to tell him that day.

“She went away for the weekend with some of her girlfriends. She’ll be back tomorrow night.” Tony smiled inside, knowing that meant they had the time to themselves to discuss what needed to be discussed. If Lindsay had any effect on what was going on, it wasn’t something to be worried about at this point. Tony then moved so he was sitting in the chair beside Dale, taking a deep breath. He was anxious, wanting to hear the name badly – knowing where he’d be going right after the name was spoken. However, he also knew that he had to be careful. It had taken two weeks for Dale to take him up on the offer so he couldn’t ruin the opportunity. “Whenever you’re ready, I’m here to listen to what you want to tell me.”

Dale shifted in the chair so his back was facing Tony, slowly pulling up his t-shirt to reveal the bruises that Tony had learned about from Danica. There were some that looked more fresh than others, while some looked like they were almost healed. There were ones that were a light brown and small to a purplish one that was huge. In that moment, Dale couldn’t find the words to say what he wanted to say. He couldn’t find the words to say the person that had hurt him so badly, that had caused the wreck, that was ruining his life one inch at a time. It felt like someone had come and ripped his tongue out of his mouth. Was there fear setting in?

Tony ran his eyes over the marks, lost for words. There had to be a good 30 different marks across Dale’s back, inflicting their own levels of pain. The caring part of Tony wanted to rub Dale’s back, find someway to soothe them. The frustrated part of Tony wanted to scream at Dale for not saying something. The angry part knew that some serious ass kicking was needed to be delivered. How could this had happened?

While fighting to find the words to say to Tony, the tears began to once again fall down Dale’s face as they had the other time he had faced Tony for this discussion. Facing the pain, possibly finding a way out of it made it even more real. Though the fear was also there. His so-called teammate would be mad when Rick began to the lecture during the Monday morning meetings. Dale knew he would already be feeling the blunt of Steve opening his mouth. Though if Tony dare said a word that escaped that area – that would be even worse. There was no telling that would happen in their next meeting. Was Dale ready to face that? Could he handle what was yet to come? As his thoughts collided with each other, he began to stand up, knowing that he had made the wrong decision in sending Tony the message in the heat of the moment.

“I can’t tell you….I’m sorry….” Dale let out, tears streaming down his face, feeling defeated. He knew that this was his inner battle to face till he could find way out of it himself. There was no way that he could let somebody else know what he was going through. That was just too hard.

“Dale, please let me know,” Tony begged as he grabbed Dale’s hand, wanting to pull him close and give him a comforting hug, wanting to be there. All the frustration and anger had cleared as Tony’s heart broke immediately after the first tear fell. He couldn’t believe the sight before him. Immediately, Tony felt Dale go to pull away…..

“Let me go, Stewart. Let me go! Stew-”

“If you can tell me like that, then why the hell can’t you say that to whoever is doing this to you?” Tony didn’t want to grab Dale’s hand and hold it as tightly as he did, but he had to. He had to show Dale that he would be there for him. He had to show Dale that he cared and wanted to help. He also wanted to see what Dale would do, sort of like a brutal reaction test. He had expected the fear to come across Dale and for him to be able to use that to break the barrier that Dale held up. Instead, he was treated to defense from Dale and that had him curious. What was going on between him and this person? “What is stopping you, Earnhardt?” Dale kept his eyes focused on Tony, growing frustrated with Tony’s antics as his eyes from a crystal blue to a dark navy blue. The anger was growing and as much as Dale wanted to keep things cool between him and Tony, part of him was able to give Tony a slap for what he was choosing to do.

“Just let me go.”

“Fine – but I want an answer.” Having seen enough to answer some of his questions in his head, Tony did as requested, curious as to whether Dale would tell him what he was originally supposed to tell him.

“I told you before – you don’t understand.” Tony rolled his eyes, standing up so they were level with each other. He hadn’t come for a fight right there, but if that is what it took, then he was willing to do it. He wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on.

“Then why don’t you start explaining? Nobody will understand till you speak your mind! Nobody will know what you’re going through till you let them know! If you don’t say something, this is going to go on forev-”

“No, because I’m going to handle it myself.” There were many nights Dale had sat thinkings of ideas on how to handle things. Would he tell the police and get them involved, arresting the individual and hoping the charges stuck? Would he hurt the person back in no way describable to let them know what he was going through? Or was there some secret he could dig up that would hurt enough to make it end? “I don’t need you doing my dirty deeds for me.” Tony took a deep breath, shaking his head. How had their discussion gotten to this point?

“I think you do because if you could do it yourself, it would’ve been done.” Dale shook his head, walking away from where they stood, knowing that he had definitely made a mistake in texting Tony. How could he had let him into his world? “Admit it – you’re scared and you don’t want anybody to know the details of that.” Tony then followed Dale, wanting to get through to him, not willing to leave. He had left the other night and had regretted it ever since. “What is stopping you from telling that person what you said to me? What do they have over your head that you’re not telling?” Dale reached for the back sliding door, ready to find a mistake from Tony, but Tony put his hand on the door, holding it shut. He wanted one last shot at getting the truth out before he once again left, defeated. “Why do you let them keep hurting you? I don’t care who it is anymore – I just want to know why they are doing it. I want to try and help you, and to do that, I have to understand what you’re going through.”

“I told you – I can’t tell you and I’m going to handle it myself.” Dale then pushed Tony back, causing Tony to trip over the chair. Dale heard Tony fall, but ignored it, sliding the door open. He just wanted to escape Tony and not have to answer the questions. He couldn’t. He knew he couldn’t and it was eating him inside. As Dale began to slide the door closed, Tony got there, pushing it back, not ready to give up. Dale had pushed things too far at that point and Tony was ready to let his feelings loose. “If you don’t leave, I will punch you. I thought you’d get the ide-”

“Tell me what is going on and let me help you!” Tony then walked inside the house, following Dale into the kitchen. “Give me something to work with to understand why you can’t say anything.” Dale then turned around, looking at Tony straight in the eyes, anger written through his eyes and stance. Tony had picked the wrong time to test the Earnhardt  Stance.

“What part of I have it handled and I don’t need you do not understand?” Tony then walked up to Dale, standing right up close, ready to say what needed to be said. There was only one reason Tony hadn’t left yet.

“Because I fucking love you and care about your ass. I have always loved you – that’s what attracted me towards you in wanting to be your friend.” Tony then walked past Dale, knowing that was the last bit of effort he had left in him. He had no other ideas in how he could possibly get Dale to tell him what needed to be said. If Dale didn’t want to tell him, then he would have to live with that. Also, with confessing his love, he also felt his own tears fill in his eyes, hurt that the person he loved didn’t trust him. Tony walked down the hallway slowly, headed for the front door, ready to leave. He couldn’t do nothing about it and it killed him inside. It felt worse than any of the previous feelings he had. “Text me if you grow some ball-”

“Do you remember Amber?” Tony then froze, a shiver going through him at hearing her name. Amber was Dale’s famous flirt from his second season in NASCAR. Everybody hated her attitude, and the fact that she was always wearing tank tops that showed off her boobs and short shorts. In contrast to what everybody was saying, Dale insisted that everything was perfect in his eyes with her. For Tony, she was the total tramp, just trying to sleep with all of the drivers. When Tony heard that Dale broke it off at the end of the season, he had an inner celebration, glad that Dale had reached his senses. He was glad to put her in the book of girls they’d never hear of again. “Amber Lynn Jami-”

“Yeah, I remember the tramp. What does she have to do with what is going on? Is she the reason that this is happening?” Dale then walked down the hall up Tony, ready to begin explaining a piece of the puzzle. He wasn’t ready to say who was doing it and what was going on, but after hearing Tony’s confessions and knowing the feelings that he had felt for Tony in the past, he was willing to start somewhere.

“She’s not the one doing it, but she has to do with the reason. The person, who I can’t say because….I just can’t. Anyways, the person knows something about Amber and I that is causing this.” Dale walked into his living room, opening a table drawer, pulling out some photos. Looking at them, he knew this was the perfect time that he had told anybody about the contents – beside Jimmie – and knew it was a big step to tell somebody else what had happened. He was just worried as to how Tony would handle it once he knew everything. “Meet Angelica.” Tony looked over the photos, surprised by what he saw. The girl in the photos looked to be in her teens in some of the newer photos, with blond hair that matched Angelica’s and those crystal blue eyes that Tony knew where Dale’s. “She’s my daughter.”

Like Father, Like Daughters – Chapters 21 Thru 25

likefatherlikedaughter

Chapter 21: Angelica

Mooresville, North Carolina – Post All-Star Race

Kyle and Ron followed Ricky through the halls of the hospital to the private waiting room. To keep media out and from bugging and others from bugging on top of that, the hospital had set them up in their own waiting room while they waited to be able to see Angelica.

“She was complaining of her back and side hurting when Danica and I found her,” Ricky explained to them. “Doctors haven’t given us an update yet.” Kyle and Ron shook their head as they sat down in the room, glancing over quickly at Dale, Tony and Lindsay.

Dale sat there, eyes focused on the floor, not believing what had happened. This wasn’t like his daughter at all. Nothing was adding up. Then hearing that there had been issues with Ashton and Angelica and that Kyle was her confident, it just added more confusion to the mess. If it wasn’t for his current worry for his daughter, he’d be finding Ashton and kicking his butt after hearing he was sleeping with some random girl.

“What happened to cause it?” Ron asked, curiously, breaking the silence.

“The transporter driver that was at the scene said she was driving all over the road and came across his lane,” Danica explained. “Contact was made and it flipped her truck into the ditch. The transporter driver that she made contact with – Roush Fenway’s No. 99.”

“Oh crap!” Kyle swore outloud as he kept his eyes focused on Dale. They knew that she would probably be okay as Danica and Ricky had talked to her at the scene, while waiting for the ambulance. However, he wanted to tell the other details that needed to be known. “This isn’t going to be pretty, no matter how you look at it.”

They all then watched Dale stand up and walk to the other end of the room, looking out the window. His mind was in a blur of confusion, debating what made her do what she did. It just didn’t make sense, espically after winning her first race. Why would she run away looking for Kyle? Why wouldn’t she be home with Ashton and her puppy celebrating?

The silence at that moment was only interrupted by the doors to the room opening, as a doctor stood there.

“Mr. Earnhardt, may I speak to you separately?” The doctor asked, raising concerns for everybody in the room. “Oh, your fiancé may come with you, if you want, but I’d like to speak to you away from everybody first.”

“Dale, do you want me to come?” Lindsay asked as she walked over to where Dale stood.

“Whatever you have to say doc, you can say in front of everybody in this room,” he told the doctor as he kept his eyes focused looking out the window. “They’re all close with Angelica and will find out one way or another.”

“Under normal circumstances, I would accept your request,” the doctor then started. “However, I cannot under these circumstances.”

“Fine.” Dale then followed the doctor out of the room with Lindsay, while the rest looked on fear in their own thoughts.

“Whatever the doctor says, she is going to be okay,” Tony assured everyone as he knew how strong she was.

Meanwhile, the doctor led Dale and Lindsay into a private conference room, all of them sitting around the small table.

“First of all, will she be okay?” Lindsay asked as she knew that was what mattered most.

“She’s gotta be….” Dale let out as he kept his eyes focused down on the table.

“She will be fine,” the doctor told them, causing Dale to glance up.

“Then why are we doing this as a private meeting?” Dale watched the doctor open the file up, curious to hear what the doctor was going to tell them.

“There are some concerns that we have beyond her injuries sustained in the accident,” the doctor began. “To start, as a result of the accident, she has a back fracture – L2 vertebrae. She also broke a couple of her ribs – left side – as well as a series of bruises. She also suffered a concussion, as well as whiplash. You probably have heard this from police on the scene, but she was drunk at the time of the accident.”

“Yeah, the officer gave me the whole lowdown on that and the charges she will get as a result. So why are we sitting here because all of my friends in the other room could have learned that?”

“Relax Dale,” Lindsay advised as she rubbed his back.

“I am just wondering…” Dale added as he looked towards the doctor.

“Across her shoulders, upper arms, back and down her legs, there are some bruises that don’t correspond with the wreck,” the doctor announced, causing both Dale and Lindsay to look at the doctor with shock written on their face. “Some look to be maybe a week old, others maybe a couple weeks old. We have concerns that she has been subject to abuse of some kind. Would you know anything about this?” Lindsay shook her head as she kept her eyes focused on the doctor.

“There’s nothing that she has told us,” Lindsay replied as the doctor then looked towards Dale.

“There’s nothing we can do if she doesn’t say anything or nobody knows anything. I just wanted to bring it to your attention so you do know.” Lindsay turned her eyes on Dale, wanting to know what he was thinking.

“Well thank you. May we go see her?” The doctor shook his head yes as he closed the file and led them out of the conference room. He then led them down the hall to her room.

The entire way, Dale stayed quiet, thinking about the words the doctor had said. Who had hurt her? Was it Ashton? Was that why she ran like she did? Or was it someone else? Had his own fears of Jeff acting out again come true?

 

Chapter 22

Mooresville, North Carolina – Post All-Star Race

Dale and Lindsay walked into Angelica’s room and over to where she laid, looking she was comfortable in her current state.

“Hey sweetie,” Dale said as he gave her a small hug. He felt himself biting his tongue, not wanting to blurt out the words the doctor said right away.

“Hey Angelica,” Lindsay said, also giving Angelica a hug.

“Hey,” Angelica replied before looking down. Having come out of her previous drunken state, she had realized how stupid she had been with what she had done. Dale noticed this as he sat in the chair beside her, curious of her thoughts.

“I’m going to go tell everyone that they can come see her,” Lindsay announced before leaving the room. She knew that Dale and Angelica needed time to talk to each other.

“How are you feeling?” Dale asked after Lindsay had left the room.

“Sore,” Angelica answered before looking up to face her dad. She could see the concern in his eyes, but also the hint of anger. She was ready to take the blunt of it, knowing she deserved after what had happened.

“I’d believe that. What were you thinking?” Dale had wanted the words to come out lighter than they had, but they found their own way out.

“When I got home, Ashton and I had a fight and I was upset. So there was a bottle of vodka left from the party so I downed it, followed by another. After that, I don’t know what I was thinking when I grabbed the keys for the truck.” Dale bit his tongue in his own anger, knowing his fears of Ashton being behind what the doctor said were coming true.

“Angelica, did he hurt you?” She looked down, holding back her own tears, not wanting to say anything about it. She wasn’t ready for his dad’s reaction as she knew it wouldn’t be pretty. As soon as Dale saw her reaction, he clinched his fist, frustrated and ready to find this kid and kick his ass. How could he do that to his baby girl? He knew what it was like to go through something so brutal and hated that she had to feel that, too.

“Dad…” Angelica let out as she looked up at her father. Now that he knew, she knew he had to keep quiet. There was more that he had to know.

“Why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?” She sniffed back her own tears, eyes turning back down.

“I was scared. That’s why I didn’t tell you. I’m sorry. He said he’d kill me if I told anyone.” She then glanced up, ready for her dad’s reaction.

“How long has this been going on?” Dale kept his eyes focused on the floor, trying to keep his own anger inside. He glanced up only when he heard footsteps by the door, wishing they’d actually disappear as he knew who was all there. He watched as Tony, Lindsay, Kyle, Ron, Ricky and Danica walked into the room, before turning back to Angelica. “Ang, how long has this been going on?”

“A couple months.” Hearing the conversation and seeing the look on Dale’s face, Tony looked between them very confused. Lindsay had told him, and only him of the group, what the doctor had said. She knew the others would only learn when the time was right. They were only told of her injuries as a result of the wreck.

“Who do we have to kill?” Tony asked, causing Angelica and Dale to look back up. If he had to, he ready to play protector once again.

“Easy tiger…” Lindsay advised as she put her hand on Tony’s shoulder.

“So she told you?” Kyle asked, causing a confused look to form on Dale’s face. How did Kyle know?

“Maybe we should let them talk,” Ron advised as he saw the look on Dale’s face after Kyle’s comment.

“How long have you known Larson?” Dale asked as his eyes focused on the younger driver.

“I told him after the Darlington race because I couldn’t take hiding it any longer,” Angelica spoke as she focused her own eyes on Kyle. She could see the pain in his eyes from being worried. “I made him and Ron promise not to say anything about it, not even to you or Tony.”

“So now can we kill him for you?” Kyle asked as he knew now the secret was out.

“Easy Larson…” Ron advised as he kept his eyes focused on his driver. He knew there was more to be said before anybody moved.

“No because I want this to keep between us,” Angelica announced, causing Dale to look at her.

“I think it’s time you told your dad the whole story…” Kyle advised as Angelica took a deep breath.

“No…I can’t do it..” She looked back down as Ron stepped forward, ready to speak.

“So there’s reasons that she is keeping this hidden,” Ron started as he kept his eyes on Dale.

Ron then told Dale and the others of the secrets…..the fact that Ashton had a helper that was a female but not Ingrid for sure. The fact that Ashton would kill not only Angelica, but the rest of them if the truth was told. The fact that Ashton had a tape of Angelica being drunk after prom, which caused some surprised looks. The fact that Ashton had gotten a copy, somehow, of the Jimmie/Dale sex tape. The fact that Ashton would tell the whole story of Angelica from a baby and the parenthood chaos. The fact that Ashton knew Lindsay’s secret. Oh, and the fact that Ashton had a copy of the tape of what Jeff had done to Dale.

The last detail was what pushed Tony over the edge, as he had the urge to punch something and almost punched a hole through the wall.

“I’m sorry we kept it a secret….” Kyle lets out as he looks down, seeing the anger written on both Dale and Tony’s faces.

“I want to know who he is working with,” Ron comments as he leans back against the wall.

“I don’t care what happens from here on out – she is staying with us and he is not allowed on the property,” Tony states as he looks towards Dale, locking eyes with his counterpart. All he gets in response is a head shake from Dale.

“Should I call the cops now?” Lindsay asked as she glanced between them.

“This has gone on to long so yes,” Angelica let out as she knew something had to be done. She couldn’t face Ashton with the pain that she was in now. “Oh, can somebody go get Winnie then? I don’t want him at my house if I’m not there.”

“I’ll go do that,” Tony announced as he looked up. He knew how much the puppy meant to her. He remembered the day she got him in December as a Christmas gift and the look on her face.

“Thank you Tony,” she replies as she looks back down. “I’m sorry for keeping this a secret. I’m sorry for acting so stupid.”

“It’s not your fault,” Tony tells her, giving her a kiss and a hug before he heads for the door. “Anything else you want?”

“Some clothes please,” she tells him. “Oh, you don’t have the keys for the hou-”

“The officer gave them to me,” Dale interrupts her, before going in his pocket and throwing them at Tony. “Be careful Smoke.”

“As always,” Tony replies as he smiles. He was hoping, though, that he’d see Ashton to give him a piece of his mind.

“Maybe someone should go with him,” Angelica suggested, feeling afraid.

“That’s a good idea,” Dale agreed as he looked towards Tony.

“I’ll go!” Ron announced. “You, Lindsay and Kyle can stay here with Ang….oh, and I guess Ricky and Danica, too.” Ron then got up and headed out the door with Tony.

“Actually, we’re going to get going,” Ricky announced. “Glad to see you’ll be okay. Be in touch.” Ricky then gave her a hug, followed by Danica.

“Call us if you need anything sweetie,” Danica added as Angelica smiled.

“Thanks for being good friends,” she told them before they left.

 

Chapter 23

Mooresville, North Carolina – Post All-Star Race

“What time is it?” Tony asked as they drove through town headed to Angelica’s house. Ron glanced at his phone, surprised.

“2,” Ron answered as he looked over at Tony.

He watched as they pulled up to the house, seeing no other cars in the driveway. Tony rolled his eyes, not expecting Ashton to even be home yet, or even concerned, as he climbed out of the car.

“Got the keys?” Ron asked and Tony shook his head yes.

“I’ll get Winnie, you grab some clothes from her closet,” Tony instructed.

“Alright.” They then walked up to the front door, Tony unlocking it as they headed inside.

“Winnie!” He then walked down the main hall to the kitchen, looking for the dog while Ron headed upstairs.

“Anything specific you know she likes?!?”

“Not really; that’s Lindsay’s department.”

“Okay!” Tony headed into the kitchen, shaking his head as he saw the two bottles sitting on the counter. He rolled his eye, tossing them in the trash as he heard the front door open.

“Who is that?” He then glanced down the hall, looking to see who was there, feeling instant rage as he saw Ashton standing there surprised. “Oh, it’s a bitch. We’ll be leaving in a couple minutes.”

“Where’s Angelica?” Ashton asked as he walked down the hall into the kitchen, seeing Tony holding Winnie.

“Who’s there?” Ron yelled as he came down the stairs, some clothes thrown into a bag. He glanced up the hall before heading out, surprised when he saw Ashton standing there.

“I asked you a question, Stewart. Where’s Ang-”

“You don’t need to know the details of that,” Tony interrupted him, heading down the hall with the dog in hand. “If I was you, I’d go hide on the farest island you can find.” Tony walked out the front door, putting the dog in the car, petting his head as he sat him down.

“Why?” Ashton asked as he walked out on to the front porch, looking down at Tony.

“Because there’s a certain father that won’t hold back from kicking your ass like I am right now.” Ashton then walked over to where Tony stood.

“What are you saying?”

“You know exactly what we’re talking about,” Ron commented as he opened the trunk, throwing the bag in.

“So she told you?” Ashton asked, surprised. “I thought she’d be too scared to say anything.”

“You underestimated who you’re messing with,” Tony told him as he walked past Ashton, back in the house. He knew there were a couple of other things he needed. “Fuck where’s his leech? And that stupid rubber chicken leg?” He smiled as he found the leech hanging up by the closet, grabbing a couple of Angelica’s favourite sweaters, before walking into the living room where the chicken leg was.

“I think you should be the one that’s afraid right now, Mr. Stewart,” Ashton said as Tony came back out the door, items in hand, along with the trophy from the night that he found in the living room also. “You can only guess what I have planned. The promise will be lived up to. Just watch what happens when everyone around you falls apart.”

“Bring it on bitch,” Tony replied. “We’re ready for whatever you have to offer so go ahead and try and I’ll kill you.” Ashton then pushed Tony back, keeping his eyes fixed on Tony.

“Then why don’t you do that right now?”

“You’d love for Tony to kill you because that’d put you out of having to deal with the misery of what’s to come,” Ron interrupted them, grabbing Tony’s arm and leading back to the car with him.

“Can I kill him, Ron?” Tony asked as he put the stuff in the trunk.

“Sadly, no. But he’ll get what’s coming to him soon.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ashton asked as he walked over to them. “And you can’t take the dog with you.”

“We don’t give a shit what you say – she asked for the dog, she gets the dog,” Ron told him before climbing in the car as Ashton continued walking over.

“I gave it to her for Christmas – to her – so don’t you even try that,” Tony added as he laughed when he heard the dog growling at Ashton.

“Good puppy.” Ron then rubbed the dog’s head as the pup sat in his lap.

“We’ve got enough. She can go out shopping for more clothes when she feels up to it.”

“Sounds good.” They then backed out the drive way, heading back down the same long stretch they drove on the way.

As they left, Ashton ran back in the house, calling Amber and telling her what had happened. He then called Rebecca Snider, his secret girlfriend, and told her to come over for the night.

 

Chapter 24: Amber

Mooresville, North Carolina – Post All-Star Race

“Are you okay?” Dale asked Angelica as he looked over at her. She just shook her head yes, fixing her eyes on the ceiling. “Do you want talk about it?” She shook her head no, as they heard the door open. Glancing up, they were surprised when it wasn’t a doctor, but a police officer. Dale recognized the officer as he had spoken to him earlier. “Hello sir.”

“Hello,” the officer replied before looking at Angelica. “I understand that you’re in good condition to talk to us?” Angelica shook her head yes as she looked up at the officer. She knew what was coming.

“There’s more to talk about then what we spoke of earlier,” Dale added as he could sense the nerves that Angelica was feeling.

“I’d rather wait for that to be spoken till the detective is here since he understands what’s going on with us,” Lindsay suggested as Dale glanced over at her.

“So there is an ongoing issue surrounding her?” The officer asked, and Dale knew he had taken Lindsay’s words the wrong way. “Why wasn’t I made awa-”

“You’re heading down the wrong path so don’t even go there,” Dale started as he looked back at the officer. “There has been some things going on with myself and Lindsay with reference to our past and some text messages. Angelica told us some things earlier that connect with that, in a way.”

“It was no reason for what I did, but it is part of the reason,” Angelica then spoke as the door opened.

“Lindsay, you called?” The detective Terry Burns asked and Lindsay shook her head yes.

“Angelica has some things to say you should know,” Lindsay replied as she looked back at the officer. The detective then walked over to the officer.

“Detective Terry Burns. I’ve worked a previous case with Mr. Earnhardt and am working on a current case involving Ms. McKenzie. She told me about what happened with Mrs. Earnhardt and the accident, but also spoke of some details that I should be made aware of so that’s why I am here.”

“Officer Bryce Jones,” the officer replied, shaking the detective’s hand. “I was one of the responding officers for the accident. I am just here to get Ms. Earnhardt’s side of the story, and tell her of the charges.” Angelica rolled her eyes, knowing what was coming.

“You may go ahead with your investigation and then Angelica can tell me what I need to know.” The officer then turned to Angelica, pulling out his notepad.

“What do you remember, Ms. Earnhardt?” The officer asked as Angelica thought back to earlier that night.

“I remember being angry at my boyfriend Ashton and I remember trying to get a hold of a friend of mine – Kyle – with no success,” Angelica started as Kyle looked away, still mad at himself for not being there when she needed him. “I remember going in the fridge, finishing off a bottle of vodka that was left over from my 21st birthday party. I then drank maybe all of, maybe part of another bottle. I remember trying again and someone else answering, can’t remember who.”

“Danica,” Dale told her as Angelica looked over. That was why Danica and Ricky had found her.

“I then remember grabbing my keys and heading out the door. Next thing, I’m waking up here. I have no recollection of the accident or what happened right after.”

“The other driver stated that you were swerving all over the road and came across the front of truck, going into the ditch and flipping over,” Officer Jones told her as he wrote down what she said. Angelica then looked towards her dad before looking down, wanting to punch herself now. That truck meant a lot to her. It was her pink baby truck that he had gotten her for her 16th birthday, done up exactly like she had dreamed of.

“Guess that means the truck is totaled?” She asked and the officer shrugged his shoulders.

“Heavy damage but may be repairable,” the officer replied as Dale smiled, lightly patting her hand.

“We’ll take care of her,” he told her as he knew how much the truck meant to her.

“Thanks daddy,” she replied, squeezing his hand, before looking up at the officer. “So what are the charges? I know I’m pretty much shit out of luck here.”

“You could say that,” the officer started as she focused her eyes back down. “You’re charged with a DUI – $100 fine and per state law, your license is suspended for 60 days.”

“Okay,” she replied as she thought at over. With her back injury, she knew she wouldn’t be doing much regular driving, much less racing, for the next two months while she went through therapy and possible surgery. It wasn’t as bad as it sounded.

“You’re also charged with reckless driving as per the accident,” the officer continued as Dale took a deep breath. He knew this wasn’t going to be pretty as a whole. “Now that’d be a $500 fine, and a 30 day suspension – so in total, both charges bring you a fine of $600 and a license suspension for 60 days.”

“Okay,” Angelica replied as she took a deep breath. Dale then heard his phone go off, looking to see who was calling.

“Excuse me,” he said as he left the room. “Hello?”

“What is this I hear about Angelica being charged with a DUI?” He heard on the other end, surprising him.

“Where did you hear about that?”

“It’s all over the news. Is it true?” Dale took a deep breath, knowing he couldn’t lie to Mike Helton. He also knew that the next couple of months would be a mess dealing with everything.

“Yeah, it’s true. She also broke a vertebra in her back, plus her ribs. Street license is suspended for 60 days, but she’s not going to be doing much with therapy and possible surgery to come.”

“Glad to hear she’s okay, on a positive note. Now, I don’t want to divulge into your personal business but I am going to ask this. Is there a drinking problem going on?”

“No. She had a fight with her boyfriend and this was her way of trying to say fuck it to that.” Dale then took a deep breath, knowing Mike would find out the rest anyway. “Listen, they’ve been having problems – he’s been hurting her – and she finally cracked. She’s dealing with it now and I can assure you this is a one time thing. I’d just appreciate some time right now. We’ll release according statements Monday and try to keep this down as much as we can. Is that all?”

“Yes and Dale, this is coming from me as a friend, not as the president of NASCAR– take your time with her, support her and if you need someone to talk to, you can always come by my office. The door has always been open. I’ll let you go. Have a good night and tell Angelica I hope she feels better soon.”

“Thanks. Bye Mike.”

“Bye.” Dale then put his phone back in his pocket, before returning back into the room, to hear Angelica finish telling the detective about the details surrounding Ashton.

“Angelica, I’m going to ask you an important question – do you know the woman that he is working with?” Detective Burns asked as Dale sat down.

“No,” Angelica lied as she had done earlier with Ron and Kyle. Though Dale knew his daughter well and knew it was a lie.

“Angelica Earnhardt, you know exactly who it is so I suggest you start talking,” Dale instructed as they locked eyes together. With what had happened that night, Dale wasn’t willing to play games.

“Fine – you want to know who? You want to know who came into my room one night and said that I had to put up with Ashton or else. My own mother – Amber Jamieson. Happy?” As the words came out of her mouth, tears began to trickle down her face as she couldn’t believe she had said it herself.

Dale, meanwhile, stood at the back of the room – shocked. Eyes opened wide, not believing what his daughter had said. What was Amber up to?

 

Chapter 25: Concern

Mooresville, North Carolina – Post All-Star Race – Sunday Night

Angelica laid back on the couch, trying to get comfortable. She had been allowed to go home, but was told to relax as much as possible. With the back brace and her back currently hurting, it wasn’t easy to get comfortable as she laid there.

“Hey, are you okay?” She heard, causing her to open her eyes and look to her side. She smiled as her dad stood there, watching her. She watched him walk over, having come to expect his check-ins with her. “Do you need anything?” She shook her head no, as she moved slightly once again, trying to find the comfy spot for the night.

“I’m fine Dad but thanks for asking,” she replied. She then only glanced up when she saw her puppy hopping up on the couch and curling up alongside her. She rubbed his head, smiling, glad that he was there to offer her some comfort.

“Are you sur-”

“Dad, I’m okay. You don’t need to worry.” Dale then looked down, feeling his own concern with how she was feeling.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t help but worry about you. You’ll always be my little girl.” She smiled as she thought back to Daytona, when she had told him those words herself.

“I know I will always be, but I’m fine.” Dale then took a deep breath, knowing the next couple of words needed to be said – no matter his own feelings.

“I know the feeling of what you’re going through, with regards to Ashton. If you need someone to talk to, know I’m here for you, always.” He then kissed her forehead and she smiled, wrapping her arms around him for a hug. “Night baby girl.” He then headed out of the room and up the stairs to see Lindsay and Tony.

He walked into the room, smiling as he saw them laying on the bed talking to each other. They both looked up as he walked in the room.

“Is she okay?” Lindsay asked as she sat up, focusing on Dale. Tony sat up also, reading the feelings on Dale’s face as he remembered their time before.

“She’s being quiet right now because she’s scared and you’re worried, right?” Tony asked and Dale shook his head yes. “You know yourself that feeling. Like you, she’ll come around when she feels the time is right.” Dale knew that Tony was right as he laid back between them. However, it didn’t change how he felt about her.

“Everything will work out,” Lindsay told him as Dale took a deep breath.

“Yeah, they caught Ashton right?” Dale asked and Tony shook his head yes, remembering that phone call from the officer. Ashton was taken into custody on the charges.

“And they’re looking for Amber, but haven’t found her yet,” Lindsay added as Dale rolled his eyes. The only thing he got out of that was it wasn’t over just yet.

“Come on, cuddle with us,” Tony suggested as he wrapped an arm around Dale. “You need to get some sleep.”

“I just can’t get over the fact that Amber is behind this,” Dale let out as he thought it over. Why would she try to harm her own daughter? How had they gotten to that point? Was this some kind of sick revenge because her dancing career didn’t pan out?

“It just proves once again that she’s no kind of mother.”

“Tony is right and they’ll find her before she can make things worse,” Lindsay told him as she then focused her eyes on the ceiling. “How do you think she learned of all the secrets, though? I mean, I get the secret about Angelica and the Jimmie deal – but what about the videos and me? I just can’t belie-”

“Sssssh,” Tony let out, cutting her off as he glanced down at Dale. Dale had curled up between them, eyes closed, already snoring away in a deep sleep.

“Sorry,” Lindsay apologized as she rolled over to face Tony and Dale with a smile. “He’s so cute when he’s sleeping like this.” Tony smiled in agreement, before turning serious and looking at Lindsay.

“Lindsay, I need you to promise us something,” Tony said, keeping his voice at a whisper. He had business to take care of after what had happened before.

“Wha-”

“Whatever happens, don’t you dare even think of running away and hiding like you did before.” She shook her head, knowing she couldn’t do that again. It had been too much on her heart the last time she had done it, whether feeling right about it or not. Tony then smiled in agreement, as he quickly kissed her hand before climbing out of the bed, carefully. “Thank you. I’m going to check on Angelica and then I’ll be back.” Tony then left the room, tiptoeing, before carefully making his way down the stairs.

He walked into the living room, seeing Angelica lying on the couch with her puppy, fast asleep. He smiled as she looked so peaceful just lying there content. He grabbed one of the blankets that had been thrown in the chair earlier, throwing it over her, carefully telling Winnie not to move. He then headed back upstairs, climbing back in bed with Lindsay and Dale.

Once again, he had to take care of them all. He just hoped that it worked out because none of them deserved to go through this again.

Like Father, Like Daughter – Chapters 16 Thru 20

likefatherlikedaughter

Chapter 16: Aaron’s 499

Talladega Speedway – Sunday Afternoon

It came down to the final laps of the race and it seemed like a repeat of Daytona. Dale led ahead of Tony, Angelica, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.

“5 to go,” Ron Malec told Angelica as he stood atop the pit box, thinking they were in good shape. “Just stick with your dad and Tony and you’ll be fine. You’ve done an awesome job.” Ron knew that nobody wanted to repeat what had happened at Talladega and if things went down this road, they would have a good solid finish. He also had a good idea that Tony wasn’t going to make a move on Dale as he knew about the relationship that they had.

“Larson is trying to deal with Harvick and Busch, thinking we won’t move,” her spotter warned her. It was exactly what Malec had been thinking. “It’s up to you what we do.”

“I’m sticking with the two people who mean the most to me,” she told them quickly over the radio as she knew that it was her way of staying out of trouble. She just wanted to get out of Talladega without something happening. “Hope the team isn’t mad in lack of effort.” She also shook her head, feeling some soreness through her, knowing that avoiding a wreck with what was happening with Ashton was recommended.

4 to go and everybody still held their line single-file, but everybody knew the move was coming. Discussions across the radios were in full force and no doubt Larson was going to have a plan of his own.

“Larson to go with two to go with Harvick and Busch,” Steve Addington radioed Tony and Tony made note of it, knowing that they were probably safe with having Dale in front of him and Angelica behind him. “Be on the watch Stew.”

“Just stick to the bottom and you should be fine,” Tony’s spotter replied.

“That’s the plan,” Tony replied as he knew what needed to be done. “Tell Dale and Angelica to keep tucked close.”

“10-4. I’ll remind Ang since Dale should know.”

“10-4.” Tony knew it was a good move as whether she was an Earnhardt or not, she was a rookie and reminders were always a good idea at times.

3 to go down the backstretch, contrary to radio reports, Kyle Larson pulled out of the single file line with Harvick and Kyle Busch in toe.

Coming off turn four, Larson was able to get himself up alongside Angelica for third as she tried to keep herself tucked up against Tony’s back bumper.

Two laps to go and keeping the bottom and tucked up draft allowed Angelica to keep in front of Kyle Larson as Larson fell back to end up battling for fourth with Johnson down the backstretch.

With them battling for forth as they came to the white flag, it allowed Dale, Tony and Angelica to gain a bit of an advantage ahead of them as they stayed tucked single-file.

“Tony wants to know if you will work with him,” Ron came across the radio, though he knew the answer himself.

“Does he really think I’d pick him over my dad?” Angelica asked as Ron laughed. “Tell him thanks but no thanks.”

Down the backstretch, Larson and Johnson managed to close the gap that had formed, though couldn’t do anything with it.

Coming around to the flag, Dale grabbed the win with Tony second and Angelica third.

“Heck of a job!” Steve cheered on the radio. “Great job team! Great job driver!”

“Amazing finish!” T.J. Majors agreed as Steve looked over at Lindsay and Chelsea with a smile.

“He needed that,” Lindsay said simply as Steve shook his head in agreement.

“Sissy no win?” Chelsea then asked and Lindsay shook her head no. “Daddy win?” Lindsay then shook her head yes and Chelsea let out a big cheer. “Yay Daddy! Daddy is cool!”

“That he is sweetie,” Lindsay agreed as she helped Chelsea down off the pit box. “You want to go to victory lane and congratulate him?” Lindsay then glanced at her phone, having heard it go off.

Congratulations my dear. Celebration is something that I will enjoy later, Leighanne.

“Bring it on bitch,” Lindsay said as she knew she was ready to take on the world and protect those who mean the most to her.

******
Later that night, Angelica walked into the motorcoach, smiling as she began taking off her uniform. It had been a long day, but she got a great finish out of it and had her favourite two people in the whole world finish in front of her.

“Hey Winnie,” she said to her puppy as he ran up and put his front paws up on her legs.

“Nice job,” Ashton congratulated her. Ashton didn’t have much luck in himself in yesterday’s Nationwide race having been caught up in one of the wrecks. Focusing on her puppy and wanting to keep the good day going, she picked him up and gave him a kiss on the nose. In return, he licked her cheek.

“Thanks,” she finally acknowledged Ashton as she sat the dog down on the couch.

“So think you’re pretty lucky staying out of trouble? You only will be lucky for so long.” His words caught her by surprise as she glanced his way, continuing to change out of her suit into some jeans and t-shirt. “There’s a plan in the midst that you won’t believ-”

“And what is that? Because frankly, I know how this plan goes. You do what you want with me as long as you know that I won’t say a word to protect my family. The minute I squeal, you say everything you want and hope that it all goes downhill from there.”

“So that’s what you think of it?” Ashton then gave her a slap across the face, out of surprise. “You have no fucking idea what is coming to you this week then so I suggest you keep that mouth shut if you want to be lucky.”

“I fucking hate you.” He then slapped her once again as she shook her head.

“I guess the feeling is mutual. I have never loved you, ever. It was all just a ploy knowing what dating the Earnhardt princess would do for me.” She shook her head, not wanting to hear any more of it as she finished changing. How could he say that when she had loved him without question for the past five years till these things started happening?

She watched him walk out of the motorcoach, letting her guard down as she rubbed her cheek, feeling the tears come to her eyes. She knew she wanted to get away from him and this. She knew she couldn’t handle dealing with it. however, seeing how happy Tony, Dale, Lindsay and Chelsea were and also the fear shared when Dale had learned about the text messages, she felt a strong pull to hold back. But how much longer could she take this without anybody knowing?

 

Chapter 17: Darlington…..

Darlington Speedway – Saturday Evening

Angelica walked into the team hauler, chucking her water bottle across the hauler, not caring that it was still full. She was frustrated with what had happened. She was leading. She had led the first half of the race, the whole way. Then the motor blew and up in the wall she was, sliding in her own oil. Another shot at victory cut shot. It just didn’t seem fair.

“Fuck!” She screamed as she sat down on the coach.

“I’ll go and come back later,” Ron told her as he knew she needed some time alone. “You were doing an awesome job. We’ll get that win.”

“When?” She asked as she laid back, flinching slightly. To add to the frustration, her body wasn’t agreeing with her at all. The pain of everything was catching up with her and holding it in, not telling anyone, was becoming harder with each day that passed.

“Soon because you’re a really good driver,” she heard, catching her out of her gaze as she looked up. She was surprised to see Kyle standing there. Why had Ron let him in? “I’m glad to see that you’re okay. Considering what you were saying last night, you don’t need any more headaches.”

Angelica sat up, looking down at the ground. Last night, her and Larson had sat watching the Nationwide Series race together – which Ashton won – having a heartfelt discussion. Larson talked about how his girlfriend of two years cheated on him while she talked about her relationship with Ashton. She didn’t speak of the abuse or threats, but of them having arguments and not spending as much time as they used together. It was at least some relief off her shoulders.

She then looked towards Larson, wanting to tell him more about what they had discussed. She had wanted to tell him about the abuse and everything, in hopes that he may be able to help. However, she was worried about her dad, Tony and Lindsay.

Looking back down, she took a deep breath, knowing that this was just the beginning of another long night. Ashton would be done whatever he was doing and they’d be headed home where she’d have to deal with him.

“Ang, what are you thinking?” Kyle asked as he sat down beside her. He could tell that she was deep in thought and surprised he had received no answer. What was bugging her? “You can tell me. I told you last night that you could trust me with anything. I won’t tell anyone whatever you tell me. What are you thinking?”

“Just give her some time alone please,” Kyle heard as he looked back towards the door to see Ron had returned, with a new bottle of water.

“Actually, there’s something that I do want to tell you Kyle,” Angelica announced as she looked up at him. She was scared about saying the words, but they had to be said. She couldn’t handle it alone anymore.

“What is it?” He asked as he looked back towards her, curious.

“Should I leave?” Ron asked, not knowing whether she wanted him to know. Angelica shook her head no, as she wanted Ron to know also. He had been bugging her about some of her lack of effort in testing and certain things, and now was her way to explain her case. He then sat down on the other side of her, handing her the bottle of water. “So what is it?”

“Angelica, are you pregnant?” Kyle asked, not knowing what she was thinking. Seeing her shake her head no, he let out a sigh of relief. “Well, that’s one thing out of the way.”

“So then what is it?” Ron asked, not able to stand the silence anymore. He knew about the previous things that had happened with her dad and was scared of a repeat.

“It’s Ashton,” she let out slowly, eyes focused back on the white tiles of the trailer floor.

“What about Ashton? Did he cheat on you?”

“Is that what you left out last night?” Kyle added, growing concerned. “Or is it worse than that? Angelica, you can tell us.”

“He probably is sleeping around with some chick, but that’s not the point,” Angelica let out as she knew that Ashton was probably off seeing some girl at this very moment.

“Then what’s going on?” She then wiped the tears off of her face, knowing they had to know. Somebody had to know her pain.

“He’s been hurting me….”

 

Chapter 18: He’s Been Hurting Me….

As the words came out of her mouth, both Ron and Kyle looked at her with shock, not believing them.

“It’s been going on for a couple months now,” she started.

“I’ve been scared to tell anyone. I don’t even know if I should be telling you right now. I’m scared and I don’t know what to do.”

“How has he been hurting you?” Kyle asked as he rubbed her back, trying to calm her down.

“Angelica, you can tell us,” Ron encouraged her. “We won’t tell anyone. You can trust us both.” He wanted to go scream at Ashton, and he wanted to tell Dale and Tony, but he atleast wanted her to first tell him.

“He’s slapped me, yelled me, pushed me and forced me to have sex with him when I don’t want to,” she finally told them slowly, voice quivering.

“I’ll be right back.” Ron then stood up, knowing where he had to go as he had some serious ass kicking to do. “Nobody does this and gets away with it. I don’t care who he thinks he is, he is in for an ass kicking. Kyle, you stay with her.” Ron didn’t know much about Kyle and Angelica’s relationship, but he knew that Kyle cared about her enough to take care of her.

“Ron, please just stay here and listen to me,” she begged as she knew she couldn’t let Ron go see Ashton.

“Why?” She then looked down, taking a deep breath, knowing that he had to know the truth.

“Because he finds out I told someone, he’s going to kill me. He’s also going to spill some secrets that we don’t need unburied.” Ron knew by those words what she meant, but it didn’t do anything with his anger. “He’s not working alone either. There’s someone else involved.” Ron was now desperate for answers as he was ready to kick two butts if necessary.

“Who?” He then turned back to face her, wanting an answer. “Who is working with him, Angelica?” He then walked over, sat on the couch beside her, seeing the fear in her eyes. “Angelica, you can tell me. I’ll listen for now and not go kick his ass. However, you’re going to need to do something about this.”

“Ron, relax a little,” Kyle told him as he pulled Angelica close. “She’s scared. Angelica, we only want to know so we can help you. We both will keep our distance from Ashton, if you want. We’ll both keep it secret if you want.”

“Kyle is right as we want to do whatever we can to help you,” Ron added as he took a couple of deep breaths to calm himself down.

“Please Ang?” Kyle then got a slight glance under her shirt while he rubbed her back, not believing some of the bruises that were there.

“I don’t know who,” she lied as she felt tears come to her eyes. “I just heard him talking with somebody.”

“Angelica, we’ll both take care of you and figure out a way to stop this without the secrets getting leaked,” Ron started. “Can I know what type of secrets there are that he knows? Maybe it’ll help us figure out who is helping him. If we can figure that out, maybe we can think of something.” Angelica knew she could say that much without giving too much away.

“He knows Lindsay’s real name is Leighanne and her back story.” Kyle then looked towards Ron and Angelica, confused.

“Lindsay’s real name is Leighanne?” He asked as Ron shook his head yes.

“Long story that you don’t need to know today kid,” Ron told him as Kyle looked back at Angelica. He was curious as to why the different name, though. But like Ron said, not really important.

“What else?”

“He knows about Jeff and Dale’s deal and has one of the tapes that Tony took to catch Jeff in the act,” Angelica explained as Ron looked on full of shock.

“So this is somebody who’s got a dish on the inside,” he concluded. “Next.”

“The famous sex tape that we’ve heard of at Hendrick. He knows about the relationship between Tony, Dale and Lindsay. Oh, and me getting drunk after prom, which is no big deal really.”

“That’s a lot of dirt.”

“Could Jeff be behind this?” Kyle then asked and immediately saw Angelica shake her head no. “How can you be so sure?”

“I heard a female voice,” she explained as Ron stood up, shocked. There was only one other person he could think of.

“Ingrid?” Ron asked and Angelica shook her head no.

“I know her voice,” Angelica told them as Kyle continued to rub her back.

“How long has this been going on for?” Kyle asked as he pulled her shirt up, showing Ron what he noticed before.

“Ang?”

“A couple months,” she confessed to them as she kept her eyes locked on the floor.

“You need to tell your dad.” She shook her head, knowing he had enough going on.

“No, he has enough with the crazy text messages. I don’t need him worried about me and you know he’d go after Ashton right away. Just please keep it between us. I’m going to figure out something about this on my own.”

“As you wish,” Ron agreed, not wanting to break her trust as he wanted to help her.

“Fine and we’re both here to help you,” Kyle added as he moved back a bit, allowing her to lay back. “I hate to see this happening to you. You don’t deserve it.”

“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” she said as Ron flipped on the trailer TV.

“Get some rest – there’s still 40 to go and Ashton probably won’t be looking for you yet,” Ron told her as Kyle rubbed her forehead. She then fell asleep shortly after.

When the race was over, Kyle woke up her up and they got ready to head out. As they were about to leave the trailer, Kyle grabbed her arm.

“If you need me, I don’t care what time it is, call me,” he told her. “I meant it when I said I’d be there for you. I want to help you.” She shook her head yes, giving him a hug.

“Thank you,” she told him as he kissed her cheek.

“There really is something special about you.” She then smiled as she left the trailer, ready to head back to the motorcoach and face Ashton.

 

Chapter 19

Since coming up with this story idea, this chapter has been in my head and playing fits with me. So here it is…..Finally!

Charlotte Motor Speedway – Post All-Star Race

Angelica had the night she could only had dreamed of. She won the Sprint Showdown and went on to win the biggest race of the night – the Sprint All-Star race. The party in victory lane was over the top as everybody was celebrating, screaming and high-fiving.

As she returned home that night, she closed the door, smile plastered across her face. Life couldn’t be any better. She had gotten the burden off her shoulders with the secret and as promised, Larson had been there for her. He had been there to talk about the rough moments and even plan an escape. Ron had also kept his promise for the week following Darlington, which she was relieved. Now all she had to do was get rid of Ashton and her mom and things would be ready to go.

She went into the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of water. She was legal to drink, having had her 21st birthday a couple days prior. She had done her fair share of drinking in victory lane, enjoying more champagne than most drivers would. So with that said, she wasn’t ready to push her boundaries or the night as she knew she would come off her little high soon.

“Winnie, you wouldn’t believe how happy mommy was in victory lane,” she told her six month puppy as she looked down at him.

“So you finally won a race….the one that doesn’t count,” she heard as she gulped down her water, recognizing the voice all too well.

“It still is awesome to win it and it still means something. It proves that I’ve got a good car for the Coke 600.” She then threw the empty bottle out, walking down the hall, ready to go to bed. She knew she had a long day ahead of her on Sunday with some of the post-race obligations. “Can we just go to bed, please?”

“Think I’m going to let you get off that easy?” She then felt a shove, pushing her back against the wall. She shook her head, knowing she should’ve took up her dad’s offer to come back to his house for some post-race partying.

“I have a busy day tomorrow and I thought you’d be nice for once in your right mind.” He then walked over to her, grabbing a fistful of her hair as he picked her up.

“Nice and me don’t mix, and you know that well princess.” She then yanked her hair away from him, thinking maybe it’d be a good idea to cut it.

“I thought you were only doing this because some crazy bitch said to.” She then went to walk away, though didn’t get far as she fell straight down, tripping over her leg. She held her stomach in pain, now really regretting coming home.

“That was only 50% of the reason, Angelica. The other half is my hatred meant for you.” She then held back her tears as she tried to stand up, wanting to get whatever he had for her over with as quickly as possible. She knew he’d leave to go see his mistress and she could get Kyle to come over.

“So what do you have planned for tonight? Might as well get it over with.” He then smiled as he picked her up, pushing her against the wall and locking eyes with her.

“You know how this goes.” She looked down, knowing what he meant exactly.

“Then what are we waiting for?” She then started towards the stairs, knowing it’d be a long crawl up to the bedsroom. “I can’t believe I ever loved you.”

“Face it – I’m charming.” He then followed her as she made her way up the steps. Partway up, he tripped her, causing her to hit the staircase hard as she bit her tongue in pain. “Now that’s for cheating on me for fucking Larson. I saw your little cuddliness. I told you not to play games with me.” He then turned around and walked out the front door, shutting it behind him.

“Fuck!” She then slowly stood up, knowing she had to go find her phone, which she had left in the kitchen after getting the bottle of water. She struggled to her feet, grabbing the banister as she made her way down the stairs. She then made her way up the hall, holding on to whatever she could for comfort.

Once in the kitchen, she grabbed her phone off the counter, leaning on the counter herself and called Kyle. She waited….and waited….and waited…..yet there was no answer. She tried again and got the same response.

“Figures,” she said as she made her way to the fridge. “Everybody is out partying and I’m stuck at home, with a bitch.” She went in the fridge, knowing exactly what was on the door as she grabbed the bottle. Pulling the bottle to her mouth, she began downing it. “If they’re going to party and he’s going to fuck a skank, then fuck this – I’m getting wasted.”

An hour later, she could barely stand up as she was feeling tipsy. One bottle drank, second bottle started, she grabbed her phone, ready to try Kyle again. She hit the call button, hoping he’d answer.

“Hello?” She heard on the other end, a smile coming to her face.

“Kyle baby?” She asked, hoping that he was there for her.

“Angelica? This isn’t Kyle, sweetie. This is Danica. You hit the wrong number?” Danica could tell at her end that Angelica was drunk by the sound of her first words. “Sweetie, are you drinking? I think you need to lay down and lay off your celebration. I’m sure you’ve had enough to sink the Titanic.”

“Dani….I need my Kyle baby….” Danica couldn’t get why she was asking for Kyle. Larson? Busch? What did she want?

“Don’t you mean Ashton? Sweetie, you’re not making sense.”

“Screw Ashton…I want Kyle baby….he loves me Dani and I need him……” Danica then smiled as she felt an idea come to her head.

“How about you go lay down and I’ll make sure Kyle comes to see you? I promise.” Angelica shook her head, growing frustrated with her teammate.

“No….I need him now…..I go find him….” She then stumbled her way down the hall, grabbing her keys off the counter as she opened the door. “I know he house…..I go there.” Danica then looked at Ricky, feeling paranoid. Ricky grabbed the phone, knowing they needed to do something.

“Angelica, you’ve had too much to drink and cannot drive,” he started as he stood up at his house. “Go back in your house and I will drive over there, picking up Kyle for you on the way.” He then motioned for Danica to follow him. “Angelica Earnhardt!”

Though to Ricky’s surprise, all he heard was the dialtone as she had hung up.

“She hung up on me!” He yelled. “We need to find her! Let’s go!” Ricky then ran out the door with Danica in toe. As they got in Ricky’s car, Danica pulled her phone out of her pocket, calling Dale as she knew her dad needed to know what was going on.

Chapter 20: Finding Angelica

Mooresville, North Carolina – Post All-Star Race

Kyle Larson stood there, joking with Kasey and Denny about their previous race on the go-kart track, in which Denny had won. He only stopped joking when he saw Ron Malec coming close to him.

“Excuse me,” he said as he walked away from Kasey and Denny and over to Ron. “What’s up?” Seeing the seriousness on Ron’s face, Kyle felt a sense of worry in his stomach.

“Where’s your pho-”

“It’s on the table. I don’t keep it with me when I’m racing go-karts. Why?” Seeing no response from Ron and the seriousness on his face, he walked over and picked his phone up. As he looked at it, he saw the missed calls from Angelica, a missed call from Ron and a missed call from Danica. “What’s going on?”

“Angelica got drunk tonight and is god knows where with her truck,” Ron told him. “She drunk-dialed Danica before leaving, wanting you and saying she was going to find you.”

“Fuck! Kasey, Denny, I will see you guys later.”

“Important business.” Ron then ran after Kyle, watching the younger driver quickly hop in his car with his car keys in hand. Ron hopped in with him, eyes now focused on Kyle. “Where are we going? We can’t just wander around the city randomly.” Kyle turned the truck on and backed out of the driveway.

“I know the route she takes to my place fro-”

“Her dad is on that route right now.” Kyle clenched his fist, thinking. Where could she be? As he did that, Ron looked down at his phone, reading the latest text message from Ricky.

“Shit.” Ron looked up, silently, shaking his head. It just didn’t seem fair.

“What? What does the text message say, Ron?”

“Ricky and Danica found her and the truck. Go to the hospital.” Kyle quickly switched routes as he kept his eyes focused on the road.

“How bad is it, or did they say?” Kyle glanced towards Ron before focusing his eyes back on the road. “It’s my fault. I should have kept my phone with me.”

“It’s not your fault. You’ve been there for her as you promised. She should’ve been smart enough to either call me when she couldn’t get a hold of you before the drinks, and been smart to not drive. Oh, your question – Ricky says she’ll make it, but she’s going to be sore for a while. Her back and side are hurting pretty bad.” Kyle shook his head, keeping his own tears hidden. As much as Ron told him it wasn’t his fault, he knew it was. He had made her promise at Darlington to be there for when she needed him.

“Ron, we need to tell Dale what’s going on now for sure. Whatever he did after the all-star race must had been bad if she did that.” Ron knew that Kyle was right. There was no time for secrets anymore.

“I was already planning on telling him. Ricky called Ashton’s phone and got some chic-”

“I don’t even want to hear anymore.” Ron could tell by the tone in Kyle’s voice how much he cared for Angelica.

“I know, just saying. Kyle, pull over. Let me drive. You’re upset and shouldn’t be.”

“Okay.” Kyle pulled over and they switched seats, continuing their drive.

“Let me tell Dale, Lindsay and Tony as I know about everything that is going on.”

“Okay. I guess I’ll be explaining things lightly to Danica and Ricky.” Ron shook his head yes.

“Sure, that works. They thought she was cheating on Ashton with you. I told them that Ashton and Angelica are having some issues so you’ve been her comfort rock.” Kyle smiled as he looked back at Angelica’s crew chief.

“Nicely done.” Ron then pulled into the hospital parking lot, quickly parking as they headed inside.