The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 105: Michigan

Friday, August 10 – Michigan International Speedway

Alan walks into the Cup garage area, set to go find Josh and go over final set-up notes before the first practice of the day. However, he pauses when he notices Chase sitting in the corner by himself.

“Chase?” He questions out loud, slowly making his way over, kneeling down to his driver’s level. “Hey, is everything alright?”

“Do you ever feel like every time you take four steps forward you get knocked back two steps?” Chase asks, not even sharing a gaze with the crew chief yet as Alan sits down beside him.

“That’s better than one step forward, two steps backward as you’ve said before. I expected to enter the garage area with big smiles after last week. What would have you down so fast?” Alan could only reason that it had to deal with Sarina, considering that she wasn’t anywhere to be found.

“Alison.” Alan almost wanted to roll his eyes as he thought they were truthfully moving forward, but that obviously wasn’t true. “They spoke about the possibility of redemption and freedo-”

“She just got locked away not even a full month ago. We’re not even close to that happening, and they said there were steps that had to be taken. I thought you were fine with that decision, anyway.” Chase lets out a sigh, almost about to admit an immediate regret with that comment. Truthfully, it seemed that every situation with her was full of mistake and regrets. Taking a deep breath, he couldn’t let that trace his mind. It was not his fault no matter how it appeared were the words he had to tell himself repeatedly.

“What if that is sooner than we believed?” Alan now looks over with full shock on his face. “I got a note from the court house with an upda-”

“Why are they even bothering to keep you in the loop, to begin with? I thought moving forward involved no more reminders.” Chase wished that was the case as he would’ve preferred to not gotten the message.

“They feel I deserve a right to know due to being her primary target through all of that.” Alan actually couldn’t argue with that, understanding the dangers and safety here.

“There’s no way that they’d lock her up for a month and then relea-”

“They’ve found what was going on in her mind to cause her thoughts to be what they were and go insane, or appear of that nature. Bipolar Disorder is what they’ve diagnosed her with. The belief is once they figure out the medication regime to keep things under control, she will be able to function like anybody else and therefore no longer needing to be kept in the criminally insane.” Alan almost wanted to scream, but knew that wouldn’t help his driver’s state of mind right now.

“And because of that possibility, your mind is warped into 20,000 different theories. Let’s not forget this – it could take months to figure out the right course of action. It could even take years. They also have to make sure it true and tested before even giving her a possibility of release due to the nature of the crimes. I think you’re panicking too early.” Chase knew that, but that didn’t answer everything fully.

“But eventually, my thoughts will be reali-”

“That’s why there’s the review board. She could be told to serve jail time, or parole. Given the nature and depth of what she did to you, Chase, and what you’ve gone through because of that, they will not give her much leeway. You have to trust the justice system.” Chase almost wanted to laugh.

“Everybody has told me that since the beginning of the year when this started, but yet it took six months to get locked up. Would you understand if I didn’t feel fully convinced?” Alan nods his head, accepting.

“That’s why there’s restraining orde-”

“A piece of paper won’t stop someone from killing you.” Alan takes a calm deep breath, not even letting the thought enter his mind. He saw enough bullets, anyway.

“That’s why you can hire personal security, bodyguards, and other options.” Alan then places a hand on his leg. “Trust me when I say this to you – we will not let you go through that again with her. One time is enough and we’re not taking chances at repeating it, even if I had to pull the trigger myself on her. You can trust that you’re safe with us, always.” Chase finally looks over towards the crew chief.

“So am I crazy for sitting here right now having this discussion with you?” Alan shakes his head no.

“You’re understandably paranoid because of what happened. Obviously you’re going to fear her, and fear the possibility of going back there again. Don’t ever underestimate fear or pain. That’s what made this worse for you to begin with. My only suggestion is I know you thought your therapy was coming to a close, but I’d take a session or two and openly discuss what you just told me. It’s obvious that you haven’t uncovered everything yet.” Alan then stands up, brushing his own pants off as he glances over at the team. “The guys are looking a little lost without my direction – imagine that – so I better go get them in line. Are we good?”

“Yeah, of course.” Chase then slowly stands up himself. “Thanks, by the way.” Alan gives him one final glance.

“Anytime you need to talk, don’t be afraid to ask…” Alan then walks away and heads over to Josh as he was originally planning to do from the beginning.

Alan looks up at the speed chart, making a note they ended the session sitting 14th on the charts. It wasn’t exactly where they wanted to be, but it wasn’t the worse situation either. it was obvious they were missing on the intermediate tracks and top-15 was better than outside of that as progress was slowly being made.

“Happy driver or not?” He questions as Chase walks over to join the brain trust of the team.

“It’s free off the corner to the point that I feel I can’t hold it,” he answers as he looks up at the data. “I don’t know if I’d say totally loose, but I just can’t get the bite that I need.”

“More bite to turn give you more speed?” Chase thinks it over as he looks over at Alan.

“I think, but I don’t want to go too far either.” Alan glances back at his notes as he flips through the pages of adjustments tried, along with spring notes. “Give something a little snug, and I may be able to get you a good lap later this afternoon.”

“I’m just worried if I go this direction, that I’ll screw you even worse there. I want to fix the middle as you’re right, but you still need good entry.” Alan looks back at the data. “The key to Michigan is your run through the middle and off due to the long straightaways. So if I lose a bit on entry, can you handle that for the other side?” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“If I have to accept one over the other, I’d prefer to go that way. But why can’t I be like Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch and have both?” Alan chuckles as he looks back at his notes.

“I wish it was that easy, kid. Would you like to take over my job?” Chase chuckles, shaking his head no.

“I still say we should just get Sarina to steal notes from Kyle for us,” Josh interrupts the pair as Chase just rolls his eyes. “She loves you a lot that she’d prob-”

“You obviously don’t know her that well to say that,” Chase cuts him off. “She also believes in integrity and competition and all those things, just like I do. I could never feel right about that, and neither would she.” Josh lets out a sigh as he glances back at Alan.

“I tried….” Alan shakes his head as he grabs the clipboard.

“Focus on your job, not your crazy antics,” he instructs before walking away. Maybe a conference with the other Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs would lead to some answers.

Sarina climbs out of the truck, smile adorning her face as she looks over at Rudy Fugle. After topping the first truck practice, she had it backed it up with the sixth-fastest time in the second session.

“We’re fast once again,” she says as she walks over, grabbing a bottle of Gatorade out of the cooler. “Now can we actually put it all together tomorrow and win?”

“I’m trying princess,” Rudy offers as he looks over at her. “I told Kyle that the pit crew needs to pick up the slack, and he said he’d have a chat with the powers that be. Now we just need to communicate, and work on the handling accordingly. Can we communicate properly?” She nods her head.

“I feel confident in our communication. I know how to describe what she’s doing, as long as you give her what she needs.” Rudy then looks over surprised.

“She?”

“You always name a car after a girl’s name for her curv-”

“I’ve seen the movie Gone in 60 Seconds so I know how that goes. But even ladies believe in that?” Sarina nods her head, yes.

“I used to always name my late models after favorite females that I aspired to be like one day. Badass girls for that matter. Why do you think Pink had a pink splitter?” Rudy just smiles as he remembered the familiar paint scheme, while crew chiefing an event for Erik. “Now, I’ve gotten away from that with my trucks, but I still talk to them like their little girls.”

“Maybe we should refer to them as teenagers given the attitude some weeks.” She chuckles a little in response.

“Could you imagine a teenager with my attitude, but yet Chase’s sweetness?” Rudy was surprised by the comment, given everything going on, but just had to shake his head at the thought.

“Totally stubborn set on their ways, but yet sweet enough to get away with it.” She nodded her head in agreement, letting out a sigh afterwards.

“….and to think that Chase had a thought of us having two children one day. I almost got myself wrapped up in that vision, too.” Rudy wraps an arm around her.

“There’s options, and knowing the both of you, just like you’ve conquered everything else, you’ll figure this one out, too. Don’t ever limit your dreams as you’ll make them all come true.” She smiles as she glances up at Rudy. “For now, let’s focus on getting ourselves a win this weekend.”

“That sounds fine by me.”

“It’s just wasn’t quite turning like I was hoping it would,” Chase tells the media after qualifying. “But, we had a hard time here in the spring race, too. I’m not real sure why. Hopefully we can get it worked out tomorrow and move forward because that was not good.”

He then walks back over to where Alan was sitting, taking a spot across from him on the pit wall. They hadn’t done anythi9ng special in the session, ultimately ending up 21st on the chart.

“That adjustment obviously didn’t work,” Chase summarizes as Alan just nods his head back in response.

“I don’t know what to say,” the crew chief replies. “I tried going one way but that didn’t work during practice, and now the other way shows that we’re slower in qualifying. I’m literally running out of ideas.” Chase was actually surprised to hear this confession.

“So then what are we supposed to do?” Alan lets out a sigh as he thinks it over.

“I could change springs and shocks, but that’s like going back to the beginning. However, if nothing is working, do I have a choice?” Chase shakes his head no.

“We’ve got two hours tomorrow. That gives us a lot of time to explore. If you want to go a different direction during the first practice, then I say let’s go for it. Then we’ll compare and choose what we really want to go with for second practice.”  Alan nods his head, accepting.

“We’ve got to do something…..”

Saturday, August 11 – Michigan International Speedway

“Are we happier?” Alan asks following the first of two practices on Saturday.

“It’s better than yesterday,” Chase answers as Alan nods his head. The speed chart showed that with them ranked 11th after the first session. Chase then makes his way out of the garage stall, having heard that NBC wanted to do an interview. He was surprised, though, when it was Dale Jr. standing there to do it. “Is it okay to admit that this is a little awkward or strange?” Dale glances at him.

“As awkward as you and Erin?” Dale questions in response, which sees all emotion fade from Chase immediately.

“Excuse me?” Chase asks as Dale keeps his eyes locked on Chase.

“What did I tell you about when you have a good thing, man? Don’t screw that shit up! I thought you were over Eri-”

“There’s no feelings there for Erin. There wasn’t ever any fee-”

“Drunken actions are sober thoughts, man. I was also there at the banquet then.” Chase shakes his head.

“You’re reading into this too much. There are no feelings. Hence why I’ve already talked it over with both Erin and Sarina. Hence why I’m still getting married to Sarina. I was inviting you to the wedding, but I don’t know now. Really?” Dale was actually caught off-guard on the retracted wedding invite.

“I thought I was planning your bachelor party with Jimmie still?” Chase laughs and shakes his head no immediately.

“I’ve heard enough stories from Jimm-”

“We aren’t going to do anything that extreme.” Chase just continues to shakes his head.

“I want to actually be at my wedding, Dale. I don’t need a Hangover movie written after me.” Dale keeps his eyes locked on him.

“I wouldn’t do that to you – as long as you can guarantee me that you’re in this for the right reasons.” Chase then looks over at his former boss and teammate.

“There’s not one shadow of a doubt in my mind that I am.” Dale nods his head, accepting.

“Then I will make sure that you are there on your wedding day to say those words.” Dale then clears his throats as the camera man gives them a 10 second motion. “Ready?” Chase nods his head, as he takes a deep breath, focused back on his practice thoughts.

Sarina gives Rudy a high-five, pleased with their qualifying performance. It wasn’t the pole, but certainly she could make something happen from third later that afternoon.

“We’ve got the speed – let’s be smart,” Rudy reminds her as she nods her head in agreement. “It’s all about closing the deal.”

“I’m ready to build that momentum, put solid runs together, and get myself ready for those playoffs,” she offers and Rudy nods his head in agreement.

“You can do whatever you want for the first half of the season. All that matters, though, is how you perform those last seven. Let’s focus on that momentum.” She smiles as she leans back against the pit wall.

“I’m 100% focused on that.” Rudy could tell as he takes a quick glance around.

“So where’s the fiancé anyway?” She was caught off-guard by the question, but saw where it was coming from.

“His car has been handling like shit most of the weekend so he’s been focused on getting better. He got the win last week, but doesn’t want to be a fluke. The pressure is there to keep that momentum going, but they’ve struggled here. So they’re trying to figure out what they need and that takes times.” Rudy could relate to that, thanks to long nights spent going over notes.

“Am I still going to have a friend on the pit box during the race?” She smiles, nodding her head. No matter how busy they got on race weekends, they always watched each other’s races and always spent the night together to rehash over the events from the day. “I’d be worried if he didn’t show up.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Rudy shrugs his shoulders. “Rudy….”

“It’d be out of character and when you start doing things like that, you know something is going on. I’m hoping you’re both done with drama for the rest of the year.” That was her wish in response, too.

“I hope so, Rudy. I need a break. I think the win and knowing Alison is locked away will bring that calmness. Now we just need to get the job done.” Rudy places a hand on her shoulder.

“That’s not a problem for me, ever.” He then walks away as she just smiles back in response.

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 100: Pocono Sickness

Tuesday July 24, 2018 – North Carolina

Sarina walks into the bedsroom, pulling her shirt off as she glances over at Chase.

“What are you reading?” She asks, noticing his eyes don’t leave his phone at all.

“Casey’s press release,” he answers as she looks over slightly confused. She then flops down in the bed beside him, glancing at his phone. “Haven’t you heard? Casey Roderick is finally getting a chance to run an XFINITY race.” She then places her hand on his leg.

“I bet you set that up…” Chase glances away as she just laughs. “It’s sweet, actually. Look at you, already giving back…”

“He’s one of the talented drivers in late models and I’ve always wanted to see what he could do at this level with the right funding. When Mike Beam mentioned having an opening for Iowa, I went all in.” He also smiles, knowing that there was another announcement coming.

“Didn’t you and Casey work together at one point?” Chase nods his head.

“We were teammates actually. I learned a lot from him. Now we’ll see what he can do.” He then switches screen on his phone. “It’ll be interesting to see everybody’s reaction to the other announcement.”

“There’s another announcement? Please tell me that you got Bubba Pollard a chance, too.” Chase then gives her a slightly impressed grin.

“Bubba Pollard? I thought you got off of his high horse a long time ago.” She then shakes her head no.

“That boy is still winning races across the country. Somebody has to pick up the phone soon.” Chase actually had to admit that he hoped she was right as that’d be another fun driver to watch get a chance.

“Bubba isn’t the driver for the announcement, though. They had an opening for Road America, and I sort of threw my dad’s name out there.” Sarina’s jaw drops in shock. “The more shocking part is Mike Beam took that seriously, and then asked Dad and he agreed.”

“So your dad is running Road America at the end of this month?” Chase slowly nods his head yes. “Woah, okay, that’s kind of cool. I almost wish that I was off that weekend so I could be there in person to watch that.” Chase lets out a sigh as he knew what was coming next. “So I’m guessing you’re not coming to Canada with me then…”

“I am coming for the race on Sunday, but I will not be there on Satur-”

“And we’re not doing CN Tower dinner like we had planned, either.” She then takes a calming deep breath as she couldn’t help but feel disappointed in seeing their own plans spoiled. However, she also knew what this announcement meant. “It’s okay. We can do the dinner another time as you deserve to be there with your dad. I think it’s pretty cool that he’s coming back after all of this time. I think he’ll surprise people. I mean, he surprised me with how well he ran the TransAm race at Road Atlanta.”

“I appreciate your understanding.” He then leans over, giving her a kiss. “I also want you to let me know if Erin gives you an trouble.”

“You saw the conversation on Wednes-”

“We crossed paths in the garage this past weekend, and she shared some thoughts in that she’s totally not all set on you as she said, yet, due to our past together. I told her that you had changed and there’s nothing to worry about, but she wasn’t totally ready for you to have it.” Sarina slowly nods her head, understandingly. “But you have nothing to worry about in regards to me and her-”

“You don’t need to tell me twice, Chase. I know we’re committed to this together…” She then places her hand on top of his. “This lovely ring, the heart on my bracelet, and every time we spend together says it by itself. Let’s just live our lives and forget about the reassurances, okay? We understand where we each other is with regards to each other, and our friends, and that’s what matters.”

“You make it sound so easy…” She then grins as she scoots closer to him.

“…because it is that easy when I have lips like yours to taste each night.” She then slowly kisses his lips.

Friday July 27, 2018 – Pocono Raceway

Sarina makes her way into the garage area, taking a deep breath as she stops and leans back against the wall.

“What are you doing here?” Rudy immediately questions as he looks over at his young driver.

“I’m here, ready to wor-” She starts slowly as he shakes his head.

“Practice was cancelled due to weather. I texted both you and Chase hoping that you’d stay in the motorcoach and sleep some considering how sick you are. Instead, you’re standing before me. Why do I bother?”

“Getting in the groove, working on the truck, doing everything as I should, it’ll make me feel better…” Rudy just smiles as he looks over, almost set to roll his eyes, or perhaps even punch her.

“Do you know how many drivers have told me that? You should be taking care of yourself!”

She lets out a sigh as she was hoping to not get a lecture once in the garage area. Sometime Thursday, she had gotten a real pain in her stomach, which turned into her throwing up. Since then, she had been only able to keep down a little bit of toast and rice, with the vomiting happening on a constant basis.

Despite being sick, though, she was determined to race this weekend.

“Besides, it’s a distraction from those papers…” Rudy glances over a little confused as she lets out a sigh. “Now that two doctors have said I wouldn’t be able to carry a baby to full term, there’s options to look over and decide. I just want to scream when I look at them.”

“Then why are you bothering with them?” Rudy questions. “What part of take care of yourself, get sleep, drink, relax do you not understand lady?” She then lets out a sigh. “Don’t tell me that Chase is forcing the pape-”

“He’s telling the same thin-”

“So how about you listen for a change, please?” Rudy walks over, wrapping an arm around her shoulder as he hands her a bottle of Gatorade. “We’re just trying to take care of you. We love you, hate to see you sick, and want you to get better.” She then glances over with a small smirk.

“You actually love me?” He immediately want to kick himself in the ass for those words.

“Underneath this hard exterior, away from all of your other stupid shit at times, yes Sarina, I love you and care about you. I consider you a friend and want to see you doing well.” She smiles as she twists the top off the bottle, downing it immediately.

“See, I knew you were just a big teddy bear…” Rudy rolls his eyes as he walks away, going back over notes knowing down to just one practice session, they’d need to have all their ducks in a row.

Chase makes his way up through the No. 18 hauler, listening against the lounge door to make sure he wasn’t interrupting something before slipping inside.

“Nice job leading prac-” he starts, as planned, since she had led the session. It had been a good day as his girl had led truck practice, while Casey Roderick led XFINITY practice at Iowa Speedway.

“Why weren’t you here sooner?” Rudy immediately cuts him off. “I expected to see your ass here to take your fiancé back to the motorcoach so she could sleep and rest being as sick as she is. Where have you been mister?” Both Chase and Sarina look over at Rudy surprised.

“I was busy, but I came as soon as I got done the appearance…” Rudy shakes his head as he glances over at Sarina, who was curled up on the couch.

“Well since you’re finally here, please do the righteous duty of taking care of this lovely lady.” Chase didn’t need to be told twice as he walks over, brushing her hair out of her face.

“Are you feeling any better?” She slowly shakes her head no, before grabbing the bucket that was on the floor by the couch, throwing up again. “Sweetheart…”

“I suggested that she go to the care center as they may be able to help her. You can tell that she’s a little dehydrated…” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“Rudy has a good idea, sweetheart.” She shakes her head no. “No? I think he does, though.”

“I’m fine,” she says as she slowly sits up. “I just want to go back and lay down, please…” She leans against Chase as he rubs her back.

“I’d rather you go to the care center, though,” he tells her before looking down into her eyes. “Do you remember what you told me at Chicagoland? The fact that you wanted me to go get checked over so you would know that I was okay, and get the help I needed if necessary. Remember how you said it would make you feel better to know that I was okay? Now I’m asking you to please do it for me, please….”

She then slowly stands up, nodding her head in agreement, as they make their way through the trailer together.

It was a short ride over to the care center on the pit cart, where they took her inside immediately. As both Rudy and Chase predicted, she was pretty dehydrated, resulting in them giving her fluids immediately. Summing up her continued vomiting to a stomach flu going around, they also gave her some gravol to hopefully lessen the vomiting.

“Remember to stick to the brat diet,” the nurse says once she leaves the room. They weren’t releasing her yet, but it was good advice for later on.

“Did she just call me what I thought she did?” Sarina asks as Chase just chuckles. “It’s not funny!”

“Brat Diet – banana, rice, applesauce and toast,” Chase answers as he chuckles once again. “It’s the four items that are easiest on your stomach while sick and are known to bind things up to make it harder for it to come up stream.” She then gives him a little puzzled look. “My mom always made me follow it if I was even just a little sick. It works so listen, please…”

“Yes, Dr. Elliott..” He just rolls his eyes as he sits back in the chair.

“Once you get out of here, we’re going back to the motorcoach and you’re going straight to bed. I’ll deliver you food and drink, and cuddles of course.” She couldn’t help but smile in response as she lets her fingers interlock with his.

“Thank you for convincing me to come…” He glances over with a small smile as it was nice to see some of the color back in her face.

Saturday July 28, 2018 – Pocono Raceway

Chase walks into the garage area, fixing his firesuit one last time.

“Considering you were up late last night, you look ready to go this morning,” Jordan comments as he places the gloves in the car with the helmet. “Don’t play dumb, but I saw you online last night. Getting in another round of Fortnite?” Chase then shakes his head.

“That’s what you were doing,” Chase says as he stops at the car. “That’s the only way that you could tell that I was online last night. Meanwhile, I was watching The Ranch off Netflix while cuddling Sarina as she tried to get to sleep. But hey, good try man…” Jordan then gives him the once over.

“So you haven’t caught the bug, right?” Chase slowly shakes his head no. “Please give me warning if you do because I don’t want it.” Chase knew the answer immediately.

“Trust me, I don’t plan on catching that thing…” Jordan then leans over the roof as Chase gets set to climb in.

“That bad, huh?” Chase nods his head before climbing in the car. “Is she feeling any better today?”

“Nope as she threw up breakfast about a half hour after eating, and fell back asleep just before I left for practice.” Jordan shakes his head as he felt terrible before kneeling down, set to help him buckle in if needed.

“It feels solid, but we just need a little more,” Chase comments after ending the first practice sitting 10th on the speed chart. “If you give me something more to work with in turn two, I should be fine as we’re rolling three good.”

“What about turn one?” Alan wonders, earning a shaky glance from his driver. “If you can live with that, I’ll work on the other two corners.”

“Chase?” A voice interrupts them as Chase looks through the garage to see Tyler Kieper off Sarina’s team standing there. “Rudy told me to come find yo-”

“What’s going on?” Chase questions, knowing if Rudy sent a crew member to get him during qualifying that something serious was up.

“Sarina is at the care center. She’s not being cleared to run today due to being sick as Erik Jones is runn-”

“How is she?” Chase could worry about the small minor details later as there was only one thing on his mind.

“She’s pretty dehydrated. She just about passed out on pit road during qualifying. Rudy took her back to the car center on the golf cart.” Chase gives Alan a quick glance and Alan simply nods.

“Go on,” the crew chief instructs. “I have enough to work on something for session two.”

Chase then makes his way through the garage stall, headed directly to the care center to see how she was.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 98: Eldora Dirt Derby

Wednesday July 18, 2018 – Eldora Speedway

Logan Seavey walks up to Todd Gilliland, as the pair watch truck series qualifying.

“Feeling confident for the pole?” Todd questions, without even glancing over at his young teammate.

“Should be fast,” Logan answers as he leans up against the fence. “How about you?”

“Still trying to get a little comfortable, but I think I’ve got something to work with.” Todd then watches as Sarina comes on track for her qualifying lap. “This’ll be interesting. She didn’t look happy after practice.”

“She’s still trying to figure out the balance between swinging it sideways enough for speed. I gave her a couple tips. She isn’t too bad to look at either.” Todd then glances over a little intrigued. “What? Can’t I compliment our teammate on her good looks?”

“I’m not going to argue.” Todd had a couple other  reserved opinions, but kept those to himself for the sake of the team.

“I mean, I can’t help but stare when she asks me ou-”

“Woah, wait, what? She asked you out?” Logan then looks over, nodding his head.

“She said that maybe we could hang out later. Last I checked, that normally leads into a date.” Todd then chuckled a little as he glanced at the speed chart.

“You do realize that she’s dating Chase Elliott, right?” Logan then looks over slightly puzzled. “Oh lawdy…”

“So maybe I did hear that. I also heard that she was hanging out with Christopher, which seemed strange due to Morgan. I mean, those two are always together.” Todd slowly nods his head as he lets out a sigh.

“Welcome to the media spinning everything. Morgan and Christopher are together as always. Christopher and Sarina are just best friends. Chase and Erin Blaney are just best friends as I’m sure you know her as well. But, Sarina and Chase are engaged. I don’t think she was asking you out on a date, but good try.” Todd then walks away as Logan thinks it over.

“Oh Logan, what did you do?” Even knowing he screwed up himself, he couldn’t help but turn around and watch as she climbed out of the truck. She was certainly a beauty….

Sarina climbs out of the truck, letting out a long sigh as she looks over at Rudy.

“I don’t even know what to say,” she offers before climbing the rest of the way out. “I tried everything that you told me, Logan told me, and whatever I did last year. I tried to make the moves that I was supposed to, but we went nowhere.” Rudy glances over his notes, before checking over the truck.

“Too tight or too loose now?” He questions, half-listening to her comments. He knew by finishing sixth in their heat that they’d have to run the last chance qualifier, which would be coming up shortly.

“I’m going to say too tight because I couldn’t slide as much as I did in practice.” Rudy nods his head as he glances back at his notes.

“They changed the track conditions slightly, and we’re getting more drivers running laps so that doesn’t surprise me.” He then looks back up at his driver. “I know you hate having to run the b-main, but look at it this way – you’re locked in the show no matter what you do, and it’s extra laps so you can get comfortable. Keep pushing, and you’ll figure it out.” She just nods her head as she runs her hands through her hair.

“How does Logan and Stewart (Frisen) and all those asses make it look so easy?”

“Because they’ve been running dirt all of their lives,” a new voice chimes in as she glances back over her shoulder, smiling. She walks over immediately, wrapping her arms around him for a hug. “Just like they’d find Winchester or Pennsacola challenging, you find this hard. But Rudy is right as you always figure it out.”

“I’ve missed you today,” she comments, before kissing Chase’s lips once again. “I’m glad that you made it here, though. How did today go?” He then takes a deep breath.

“Sample submitted. We’ll know the results on Friday when they’re delivered.” She then rubs his back a little as she could see the concern in his face.

“That’s it?” He nods his head as she lets out a sigh. She knew there was more, but she wasn’t about to push the issue.

“You know that you have to turn right to go left typically on dirt, right?” Another voice chimes in and she chuckles immediately, recognizing Ryan right away.

“Thanks Captain Obvious,” she replies, giving him a small smack as she keeps an arm wrapped around Chase. “Maybe I should just get you to drive instead.

“Woah now, I don’t have the experience even with how much racing my dad does over the year.”

“That’s surprising actually,” Chase comments as Ryan just shrugs his shoulders.

“I’ve always just stuck with pavement and stock cars,” Ryan offers.

While the boys were trading jabs, Sarina’s eyes caught Erin’s as she gives her a simple nod.

“It’s nice to see you Erin,” Sarina breaks the silence as they stare at each other. Even with both trying to ignore the kiss happened, it felt awkward to be standing there face-to-face.

“Same to you,” Erin replies. “It’s too bad that you couldn’t had joined the boys in Ireland.” Sarina silently wished she would’ve been there, too, as the kiss probably never would’ve happened.

“Maybe next time, right? I heard that you had a great time traveling across Europe…” Erin nods her head.

“I have to show you the photos some time because there’s so many beautiful spots.” Sarina just smiles back in response. “Look, it’s easy to see that things are awkward between us. I’m not going to deny to you the feelings that I shared to Chase that I have. I’m not going to deny the kiss that happened, nor will I deny that it made me think about what could’ve been. However, if he’s happy with you, then I’m willing to accept that as I think you’re pretty amazing. I’m ready to move forward, forget what happened, and just be friends.”

“I appreciate your honesty, actually. I have no issues with what happened because Chase told me the details, and I have no issues with your confession. I appreciate you giving us your blessing so to speak too, I guess. I also want you to know that I respect the friendship that you and Chase have. I get that he can come to you with things and talk like nothing – and that’s fine; it’s the same way with Christopher and I. If you guys continue that, I have no problem either.” Erin smiles as she holds out her hand, giving Sarina a hand-shake.

“I’m glad, and know that if you hurt him, I will be the first one ready to knock your ass out after his Momma.” She then squeezes Sarina’s hand a little tighter before letting go, and glancing down the pits. “I’ve got people to go catch-up with. See ya both later?” The boys nod their head simply as they watch her walk off.

“Well, that was interesting….” Sarina then pulls her ponytail out, fixing her hair before putting it back up again.

“Is everything okay, or did I miss something there?” Chase wonders as Sarina shrugs her shoulders.

“No matter what we say, Chase, it’s going to be awkward. You’re her first crush and yet you’re with me, but yet you guys kissed. We’re going to have that tension because we’ll always wonder what if and about the other person when we see each other; it’s like a reminder slap in the face. However, as we both said, we’re grown adults and ready to move forward. It’ll get easier with time, but for now, everything is alright.” She then wraps her arm back around Chase. “We just want to do the best for you, and be there for you. You deserve both of us supporting you through this time.”

“I appreciate that. I just don’t want to make things tougher on you.” She then glances into his eyes.

“Trust me, you’re not. Like I told her, I have no problem with the friendship you two have – as long as you’re okay with Christopher and I. We both love each other, want a future together, and have everything that we do have – but respect each other has a close friend of the opposite sex as well and that it’ll just be a friendship with them. Stop worrying. Let everyone else talk because it doesn’t matter what they say.” He nods his head, accepting.

However, witnessing the conversation and seeing how quickly Erin walked away couldn’t help but leave him a little nervous.

“That’s much better,” Chase comments as she crosses the finish line in second for the last chance qualifier.

He makes his way back down to the pits, taking her helmet from her as she climbs out of the truck. He gives it a quick wipe before placing it back in the truck. He then chuckles a little seeing the dirt on her back, wiping it off with his hand brushing across her ass in the process.

“Hey now,” She comments with a grin in his direction as he just gives her a wink. “One thing that can annoy me about dirt tracks – getting dirty.”

“I thought you didn’t mind getting a little dirty,” he replies as she glances over at him.

“With you, that’s a different story of course….” She gives him a wink to return the favor, before walking up to the hauler to debrief with Rudy before the main event.

The race didn’t start strongly for Sarina, as she ran outside of the top-20 most of the night, still trying to figure out the right approach for dirt racing. A decision from Rudy Fugle to not pit allowed her to stay out, moving up to 16th for the restart.

The final stretch would be deemed her best of the night as she avoided the late-race contact that took others out of contention, and even managed to figure out how to make a couple passes of her own. Ultimately, it paid off with an eighth-place finish.

“Not bad for someone who says dirt is their weakness,” Rudy comments, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “That’s how you persevere and survive. Look where you started the day, and now look where you finished. Days like these are what will win us a championship at the end of the year. I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks for sticking with me all day long,” she replies, easily returning the hug back in return. “Let’s get back to chasing wins, okay?” He nods his head in agreement.

“I have confidence in you at Pocono. Just keep a smart head on all-race long…” Rudy then walks away, set to pack up so they could get out of there.

“Nice job,” Chase says as he gives her a hug, placing a kiss on her cheek. “See, a little dirt never hurt anyone.” She then looks up into his eyes.

“Maybe if you’re good I’ll show you a different type of dirty later,” she offers with a grin as he just smiles back in return. “Or not. I mean, it’s all up to you.” She then glances down as the words slip out of her mouth.

“What’s wrong?” She slowly looks back up at him.

“I know you’ve got so much going on, and I know you expressed those regrets to me earlier this week. I just don’t know sometimes if I’m saying the right thing, or doing what you need me to do for you. Like, I don’t want to push you there if you’re not ready and confident based on what you said.” He appreciated the show of concern from her as it was one of the many reasons why he loved her.

“Listen, just keep being you. Just do your thing without any differences. I’ll tell you if I feel uncomfortable, or if you’ve gone over the line. But being here with me, there to lean on when I need you, that’s all I need. I love you.” He then places a kiss on her lips.

“I love you, too, Clyde…” She then takes his hand as they head off back to the transporter together.

“She stole your nickname for him?” Erin questions, earning a glance from Ryan.

“Still overcritical of their relationship?” Ryan offers back in response as Erin lets out a sigh.

“I can’t help it, Ryan. I want the best for him. Is that too wrong to ask?” He shakes his head no as he crosses his arms.

“He’s my best friend, too. I want the best as well and I have called him and her both out at times when I felt it wasn’t right. I just worry that you’re overcriticalness comes from a different plac-”

“I told you already that you didn’t need to worry, Ryan. If he’s happy, then I’m willing to accept it because that’s all I want at the end of the day for him.” She then walks away, knowing they’d just go around in circles, and that would probably continue from now on until she found the right guy for her.

Friday July 21, 2018 – New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Chase makes his way into the garage, giving various crew members a pat on the shoulder as he reaches the car.

“Practice starts in 15 minutes,” Jordan offers as he glances over at his driver. “Everything is there.” Chase nods his head as he glances into the car, seeing his helmet and gloves placed as normal. “So I heard you started therapy…”

“Is this going to be the topic of the day in the garage?” Chase questions as Jordan lets out a sigh, leaning over the roof.

“Alan made a brief mention when you weren’t there Monday afternoon for the rescheduled meeting.” Chase rolls his eyes, resisting the urge to go over and yell at the crew chief. He was hoping to keep that private. “For what it’s worth, everybody let it go easily, understandably, knowing everything that happened. They also saw you at the end of the trial, too.”

“So if it’s no big deal, why are you asking me about it?” Jordan makes his way around the car, leaning back against it as he looks over at his driver.

“Everybody else just heard about therapy and your feelings. I was there when you were getting the notes and saw your reactions. I was there when you told Alan what happened, and sat with you. I was there with you for the weeks af-”

“Jordan, I appreciate it a lot as it meant the worl-”

“I’m not looking for appreciation, man. I’m just saying that I know better than anyone else and coming from that angle, I’m glad that you’re doing it. I’m glad that you’re looking into ways to help you move forward and feel better about things. I hope it works out for you, or something else for that matter possibly. I also wanted to say that if you need someone to talk to, you can always come to me.” Chase takes a deep breath, glancing over at him.

“I know, and thank you.”

“William Clyde Elliott?” Everybody in the garage freezes at the full name mention, half expecting an elder family member to be standing there. Instead, jaw dropped around the stall as they saw the officer standing there.

“It’s Chase…” Chase states as he walks over slowly, taking a deep breath. His eyes were already locked on the envelope, knowing the information that it contained.

“I have a delivery for you from the Delaware Courts in relation to your case against Ms. Alison Reynolds.” Chase goes to snatch the envelope, but the officer holds it back. “We do need proof of identity and a signature first.”

“Seriously?” The officer slowly nods his head as Chase lets out a sigh. Instinctively, he holds up his hand as Alan throws him his hard card off the pit cart. “I don’t have anything else on me as I am here to do a job.”

“That’ll work.” The officer then hands him over a pen and paper, with Chase signing as instructed. “Thank you, sir.” He then hands over the envelope, before leaving the stall.

“Guys, just keep working as normal….” Everybody does as instructed, even if they kept glancing out of the corner of their eye at their driver, as he made his way to the pit box, setting the envelope there. “No opening it, got it?” Alan nods his head, accepting, but felt hesitant.

“We can hold off and let you ope-” Alan starts, and Chase shakes his head no.

“We have a job to do, and that’s figuring out what this car needs for qualifying,” he starts as he walks back over to the car. “Let’s focus on this practice, and then we can worry about that, okay?” Alan nods his head once again as he grabs his clipboard.

However, as the crew chief went to leave the garage stall, he couldn’t help but let his own eyes wander back to the envelope.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 95: Kentucky Speedway

Thursday July 12, 2018 – Kentucky Speedway

Sarina kicks her feet up, scrolling through photos on her phone.

“That’s not bad,” she comments out loud quietly, before looking at the next one. “This one is nice…” She then flips to the next photo, immediately making a disgusted face.

“I’m guessing that one is ugly?” Rudy questions, earning a glance from her as she nods her head. “I thought you’d be hanging out with Chase right now…”

“He’s doing an appearance for NAPA so I’m stuck here with you instead. Lucky me, huh?” Rudy just rolls his eyes as he looks away from his laptop at her.

“You can’t pick on me. I gave you a good handling truck all through practice, and with what I have before me, we should be good tonight.” She then looks over intrigued. “I bet that sounds a lot better than those photos you’re looking at.”

“I can’t complain when my crew chief tells me he is going to give me a truck that will win, now can I?” Rudy shakes his head no as he turns back to his notes.

“What are you even looking at to begin with, or do I want to know?” She then lets out a sigh as she kicks her feet up.

“Wedding photo ideas, actually.” Rudy now glances over surprised. “What? Did you think I was just going to stay engaged forever?”

“Based on what I know about you, wedding and commitment weren’t high on your list…” She then lets out a sigh as she looks back at her phone.

“That was before I met Chase, and saw what love was capable of. Now, I’m almost excited for it to be official and call myself Sarina Ott Elliott, or just Sarina Elliott.”

“If that’s all that matters, then let’s go pick the boy up and head down to city hall.” She then takes the small pillow that was beside her, chucking it at him as he laughs. “Besides, I can’t see you planning a wedding….”

“Hey now, I can be pretty just as much as I am tomboyish.” Rudy then shakes his head.

“So in other words, as we get closer to this supposed wedding, I should worry about having a panicking bride worried about the fine details, such as flower color and the invitations. Oh yeah, that’ll make great practice while we chase a championship. Say, when is this wedding?”

“January in Colorado.” Rudy’s jaw drops as he looks back over at her again. “What?”

“Don’t chew me out or anything, but Chase seems like the perfect family darling. I was ready for a Dawsonville wedding, or North Carolina wedding. But Colorado in the winter?”

“The cabin has been home to a lot of memorable, special moments, and it’s our place to just get away and be together without anybody judg-”

“…or wondering whether you’re with Christopher and he’s with Erin?” She slowly nods her head.

“Besides, his parents go to Colorado in the winter for some outdoor fun as Bill even came skidooing with us the one day. Everybody will be there and news flash, I think there’s enough room to invite you. And don’t worry, I won’t be one of those panicking brides. Yes, I have certain things that I would like to see for my wedding, but I’m not Bride-zilla.” Rudy then lets out a sigh of relief.

“So those images….” Sarina then glances back at her phone, before looking over at the crew chief.

“Flower ideas, dress idea, decoration idea. There are some that I saved when I first started thinking about it, along with suggestions from Samantha and Lindsay in stuff that they saw that may work.” Rudy then glances over to meet her eyes.

“And the groom?” She then smiles.

“He said that I can choose those finer details. He just wants to help in picking the venue, along with the guest list. As he put it, I’m his princess and he wants me spoiled.” Rudy couldn’t help but smile in response.

“It’s really nice to see you both so happy, and looking forward to something. I  know it hasn’t been an easy road, and there are still hurtles to figure out. Don’t ever forget how special you are, and how special he makes you feel. You deserve the happiness, but don’t take it for granted.”

“I know better than to do that, Rudy. Monday was the perfect reminder of that…” She then takes a deep breath, letting herself get lost back in the images as she didn’t want to think about Alison and give her the power that came with that thought.

Sarina climbs out of the truck, gives one glance over to Rudy, before walking over and giving the crew chief a high-five. Qualifying was in the books, and she’d be leading the field to the green flag later on that night.

“That’s what I’m talking about!” She says as Rudy just smiles back in response.

“I told you that I had something for you to work with,” he offers, before sharing high-fives with the rest of the team. “We just got to keep our heads down, keep focused on this truck, and keep doing what we’re doing. We may end up where you want to be at the end of the night.”

“I believe….”

“I believe in you both as well,” a new voice chimes in, bringing a smile to Sarina’s face immediately as she turns around to face Chase, giving him a hug.

“I missed you today,” she replies, kissing his lips.

“I missed you, too, but I heard Rudy has been taking good care of you.” She then glances over at the crew chief, before turning her eyes back to Chase.

“Not as well as you can take care of me, though….”

“I heard light colored flowers work well with a winter wedding landscape in a cabin,” Rudy offers before walking away, earning a confused glance on Chase’s face as Sarina rolls her eyes.

“Since when did Rudy become knowledgable about weddings?” Chase wonders as Sarina just just shakes her head.

“I don’t know,” she answers almost chuckling to herself. “But he caught me looking over ideas for our wedding.” Chase then looks at her surprised.

“So has the bride picked out a dress, yet?” Her jaw drops in shock.

“When have you known a bride to pick out a dress so far in advance like now before her wedding, Chase? Besides, I can’t pick any of that out before we decide on the venue, and then we need to decide on flowers. Once I know the surroundings, then I can pick the perfect dress.” He then puts his arms around her.

“Well I don’t care what you choose, I know you’re going to look beautiful when it’s time.” He then gives her another kiss on the lips, before letting her go so she could take her pole winning photos.

The race started out well, as she was fast through the beginning portion of the event. She finished second in the first stage after leading the initial laps, followed by winning the second stage.

“Loose wheel….” She says on the radio shortly after the final round of pit stops under caution in a tone that could only be defined as frustration. Here they were another weekend with a fast truck capable of winning, and here they were set to once again not be able to close the deal due to something happening.

“Come back in,” Rudy offers, which she follows instructions as requested. “Wheel spacer needed…”

The extra pit stop would force her to restart 18th, rather than inside of the top-five. With a fast handling No. 18 Toyota Tundra underneath her, she was able to make her way back through the field to score an eighth-place finish.

“Sorry,” was all Rudy could manage after the race as he gave her a hug. “The guys let you down. We’ll get ‘em next week.”

“Just got to keep trying and eventually the pieces will fall in place, right?” She questions and Rudy nods his head back in response before walking away. “I didn’t want to say it in front of Rudy, but I feel Kyle needs to fire half of this damn team because these pit stops the past couple of weeks have been awful!”

“Does it feel better to get that out of your system?” Chase questions and she nods her head.

“But am I right?” Chase was about to say something, but bit his tongue instead. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. We’re supposed to be the championship team, set to do what Bell did last year once again, and boom – we’re stuck with crappy pit stops. You don’t win races by messing up on pit road.”

“Kevin Harvick does….” She then smacks his shoulder. “Hey!”

“I just feel as though something is missing…” He then wraps an arm around her, pulling her close.

“You’re just getting frustrated because you think you should’ve won five races this year by now, and you’re probably right. Just take a deep breath, put everything in perspective, and push forward. These guys will figure it out before the playoffs.” She then looks at him, intrigued.

“You really believe that?” Chase nods his head. “I’ll try to listen, okay?”

“That’s my girl…..” They then head down pit road together. “On a brighter note, the old you would’ve freaked out on Rudy and the crew guy.”

“Maybe I need to do that…” Chase then stops suddenly, looking over at her. “Kidding, of course. Besides, you’re right. These are my guys and they’ve proven they can get the job done before. We’ll be fine…”

Friday July 13, 2018 – Kentucky Speedway

The first practice was in the books for the Cup Series, and all that it could be described was decent for Chase Elliott and company. There was speed in the NAPA Chevrolet and potential for a good run on Saturday night, but the piece of the puzzle that had been missing over the past couple of months still remained that way. They were closer, but without that touch of speed, the thought of winning wasn’t even on the radar yet. For now, a goal of scoring a solid top-10 was on the mind.

Though as he stood in the garage area, that wasn’t the thought that consumed his mind at that very moment. Instead, he was brought back to a familiar thought process that had clouded him throughout the past several months.

“Hey, are you okay?” Chase hears, not even looking back to glance over his shoulder as he could already tell who was standing there.

“Yeah,” Chase replies as he lets out a sigh. It was time to shift those thoughts back to the shelf so he could focus on the racecar. Those were thoughts that he could worry about next week and the coming days.

“It’s okay to admit when something is on your mind, Chase…” Chase finally glances over his shoulder to look at his dad.

“I know, but I can’t worr-”

“You’ll never move forward if you keep avoiding it.” Chase then crosses his arms, actually beginning to grow annoyed of this discussion. Wasn’t his decision on Wednesday supposed to quiet the critics?

“That’s why I made the appointment for next week. That’s why I’m beginning to do what I need to do. However, in this moment, that isn’t something I need to be worrying about. I have a racecar and a race team to focus on, Dad.” Bill lets out a sigh, having grown used to this response from Chase.

“That’s every bit important, but your health is more important than that….” Chase leans back against the pit box as he just shakes his head.

“Dad, can we please discuss something else for once? I’m doing what I can….” Bill places a hand on his shoulder.

“I know, but I can’t help but worry as your father. You do understand that, right?” Chase looks over and nods his head. “Like I told you, I’m proud that you took the step in admitting that you need the help, and making that appointment. I’m proud of how far you’ve come since you woke up freaking out about what happened. I’m proud of the strength that you’ve shown, as so many people wouldn’t had been able to do what you’ve done. But I can also see on the inside that it’s tearing you apart just as much…”

“Some days are worse than others. I can go through a day and not have a single thought about anything. Then the next day, it’s the only thing that consumes my mind. That’s how I knew I needed to do something because I can’t keep going through those days.” He then glances towards the ground, taking a deep breath. “Sarina was talking about the wedding yesterday, and the beginning stages of planning. I can’t wait for January for that moment, but then it made me realize something else. Everybody plans on a wedding, followed by their future together. That future includes children, and well, that’s something we’ve realized isn’t going to work how we thou-”

“There are options, though….” Chase nods his head, having heard that from so many people over and over. he was glad that there was options and knew he and Sarina would need to explore those, if need be. However, it still didn’t replace the feeling of an opportunity torn away.

“Everybody talks about the amazing feeling in watching their wife or girlfriend carry the baby for nine months, feeling it kick against them, the sensations that they feel during that experience. Just ask Ryan about Lindsay, or Kyle when he talks about everything he went through with Samantha. Kyle don’t get emotions, but that affected him. Is it wrong to feel like you’re being stolen of that experience?” Bill shakes his head no.

“So everything isn’t just about Alison in what you’re feeling….” Chase slowly looks up towards his father.

“But it always gets back to her though, right? Because while Sarina receives this news that she can’t carry a baby full term, Alison wants to prance around the fact that she’s my baby’s fath-”

“She’s lyi-”

“What if she isn’t?” Bill then looks at Chase confused.

“What are you trying to say, Chase?” Chase takes a slow deep breath, remembering the discussion with Alan.

“I trust every one of my instincts fully. I know what I believe in, and I fully believe that I remember everything that happened. I fully know to myself with my instincts that she didn’t conceive that baby. But when you’re going through these emotions, realizing that you’re trying to escape it every way possible but head on, you begin to wonder. What if I escaped that by blanking it out of my mind? What if that happened? There’s a small bit of self doubt that creeps in every once in awhile and I wonder…” Bill didn’t want to face the fact, but knew it was possible if Chase was bringing it up to him.

“What are you going to do if that is the news you receive?” Chase shakes his head.

“I don’t know. I’d like to say that I’d do the right thing and raise the baby as if it’s my own without a drop of doubt because it’s not the child’s fault, and it is a piece of me regardless. But, can I look at the baby and raise that child without thinking of everything Alison put me through? I don’t know, Dad…”

“I think for now, you should focus on what you know. You focus on what happened, and moving past beyond that. Think about the emotions that you’re feeling in regards to pain, and regret, and how to move forward in the best way that you can. I wouldn’t think about the baby until the news come down. Then once you have that news, then if it is what it is, then take your time to think about it.  You can’t control the unknowns, but control your future and what you know. You only got so long and you don’t know when your time is up…” Chase takes a deep breath.

“That’s what I’m trying to do. That’s why I made the phone call and the appointment because I want to take control of these emotions and my life. I’m done being her puppet and living a life controlled by how she manipulated me. I’m done dealing with her unknowns and the games.” Bill places a hand on his shoulder.

“That’s what I like to hear. And I know it won’t be easy, because there will be days where therapy may seem hard because of everything you’re dulging into. But remember that it’s worth it for you, and you will get through this. Your mom and I are always here for you…” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“Chase, second practice……if you’re ready,” Jordan Allen says as he walks by, placing the helmet on the roof with his gloves.

“Got to go to work,” Chase states as he gives his dad a hug before walking over to the car.

“Remember what I said…” Bill reminds him before leaving the garage, letting him focus.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 87: Overton’s 225

Friday, June 29 – Chicagoland Speedway

Chase walks through the garage, set to get ready for the first XFINITY Series practice session of the day, when he hears someone trying to catch up with him. He slows down, half-expecting to see Sarina, but surprised when it’s Ryan.

“You could’ve just called out my name,” Chase offers as Ryan doesn’t even flinch in response to the comment.

“Erin messaged me this morning and I need to talk to you immediately,” Ryan starts, sounding as if he totally missed Chase’s comment. However, the panic in Ryan’s voice caused Chase to stop right away.

“Is something wrong?” Ryan was a little hesitant on answering that. “Ryan? Is your sister oka-”

“If she was in danger, do you think I’d be standing here right now trying to get your attention?” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that panic could leave his system immediately. “In reality, what she told me is the most innocent thing ever. However, it could have a big impact moving forward.” Chase was now confused. “She’s best friends with one of the newspaper writers in Ireland, and her friend called her to talk about something that she saw on the desks of the editors. There’s a photo of you kissing Erin.”

“You’re not pranking me, are you?” Ryan slowly shakes his head no. “Ryan, I swear if you’re lying, I will screa-”

“I am not lying, Chase. Per what Erin was told, the photographer recognized you and knew that Erin wasn’t Sarina and took the photo. The plan is to publish it with a mere mention of the flirt, which will co-exist just lovely with the Sarina and Christopher story from last weekend.” Chase runs his hands through his hair.

“The worst part is I haven’t told Sarina about the kiss yet. I haven’t said a single word to her or Erin about the matter.” Ryan then crosses his arms, not surprised. It was supposed to stay that way.

“You know as well as I do that if it gets out over there, it’ll make its way over here and boom – the fun and rumors are set to begin. Furthermore, because you didn’t say a single thing to Sari-”

“She’s could think I am cheating on her, and here we go again….” Ryan slowly nods his head, glad that Chase had put together the pieces himself.

“We know that everybody involved can handle rumors as we’ve been there before. But maybe it’s a sign that you should say something….” Chase lets out a long sigh. “I’m just saying that it’s better coming from you than someone else, right?” Chase knew that lesson all too well after the pregnancy news. “In the meanwhile, Erin and her friend are going to work at getting this eliminated so that way it doesn’t come out and throw another unnecessary wrench in your world.”

“Keep me posted, please?” Ryan nods his head, accepting.

“Just make sure you make the right decision here, okay?” Chase accepts as he heads into the garage, ready to get in the car as he knew that he could use a distraction right now.

For the first session of the day, they didn’t start off that bad in his mind, timing in 20th quickest on the speed chart. With another hour scheduled later in the day, he knew that he and Chad Norris could work at finding something to work with.

With having finished her photos for winning the pole, Sarina makes her way back to the XFINITY Series garage.

She had half-expected to see Chase on pit road or while she was doing photos, but yet she hadn’t seen him since earlier that morning before the first XFINITY series practice. She chalked it up to him wanting to spend time with Chad Norris and the GMS guys since he didn’t normally work with them. That, or the schedule was too tight to make some time; but it was still odd considering every other weekend they normally spent together.

She makes her way down the row of cars, stopping at the 23 garage stall and making her way inside. She saw of furry of guys working around the car, glancing around as she looked for any sight of Chase. She was then surprised when she found him standing by himself, almost lost in thought by the pit box at the front of the stall. She slowly makes her way over, placing a hand lightly on his shoulder as if to not startle him.

“Are you okay?” She questions and he nods his head, keeping his eyes focused forward. Half of him wanted to spin around and just spit it out, while the other half wanted to carry forward as if nothing happened. Maybe he could tell her after the truck race. “I was expecting to see you sooner…”

“I wanted to come congratulate you, but the session was starting right then and Chad was ready to go,” Chase answers as he glances over his shoulder back at her. A glance into her eyes and the guilt ate at him even more. How could he do this again? “Congratulations, by the way.”

“Thank you.” She then gives him a kiss on the cheek. “I see you were ninth in the session, which isn’t too bad after all.” He couldn’t help but agree, as the car also felt comfortable and he thought they may have something to challenge for the win tomorrow. “Chase, what’s on your mind?”

“There’s something that I need to tell you, and I’m worried about your reaction if I’m honest.” She then looks at him a little nervous and scared; it was never good news if he was worried.

“You know that you can tell me everything, right? I mean, we’re fully trusting each other without holding back.” Chase nods his head, accepting, as he turns to face her, taking one of her hands into his own.

“So I got drunk while I was in Irelan-”

“And that’s supposed to surprise me?” She chuckles, while the serious glance on his face doesn’t fade one bit.

“I made a decision that I regret, and I wish I could do over or never ever happen, and I feel terrible.” Sarina was half-expecting him to state that he slept with someone at this point based on the sadness and guilt that showed through in his brown eyes. “I didn’t even remember a single thing about it until Ryan told me on the flight hom-”

“Chase, what happened?” He then takes a deep breath, knowing there was no going back now.

“I kissed Erin. According to Ryan, I was so out of it and saying that she was amazing that I kissed her, and then skipped off.” Sarina didn’t know whether to be mad, upset, or laugh.

“Skipped off?” He nods his head. “That’s not like you….”

“Like I said, I was totally out of it – and I wish I never would’ve kissed her, or touched her that way, or done anything. I feel terrible as here again, I broke our tru-”

“I told you to stop blaming yourself for what happened with Allis-”

“I accepted the de-”

“But did she give you a choice? No, she manipulated you – just like she’d been doing all along, Chase. You need to let that go….” Chase felt encouraged by the fact that she was still standing there before him, rather than storming out of the garage.

“But what about the kiss to Erin?” Sarina bit her tongue as she was set to yell, but the fact that he was admitting it straight out and felt bad, amidst the Allison drama, she hadn’t moved a single muscle.

“If I’m being honest, I am not happy that you went and kissed her. If I’m being honest, I can tell you that it upsets me that your lips landed on someone other than me. If I’m being honest, I am pissed and under any circumstance, I would throttle your ass right now. However, given the stress you’re under with Allison, and given the fact that you were drunk to that extent, I am willing to let it go.” Chase was now surprised, as he had braced himself for every bit of anger she had inside of her.

“Really?”  Sarina nods her head, very slowly. “So we may have a problem, though. A photographer got a shot of us together, and is planning to publish it with a nice story after your deal with Christopher. Erin’s friend works for the newspaper, and saw it. However, she is trying to get it destroyed or something so it doesn’t happen.”

“So wait – were you planning to tell me what happened? I mean, Chase, now it just sounds like you’re telling me because someone else was about to and you didn’t want to be the second person in line doing it.” Chase glances down as he knew how bad that looked as he took a deep breath.

“I didn’t even remember it so I hadn’t even thought about it. I was ready to shelf it as if nothing happened, if I’m being honest.” He then glances up into her eyes. “I don’t know if I would’ve actually said something because I was afraid of your reaction.”

“You don’t trus-”

“I trust you fully and completely, but I also know how easily it takes for you to flip a switch to anger, and I didn’t want to face that right now. I also know that things are messy enough right now with Alison, her pregnancy, and waiting for your appoin-”

“Oh, so now my infidelity concerns are an excuse to keep a secret from me?” Chase shakes his head no immediately.

“I didn’t mea-”

“Chase, I am a grown woman. I can handle anything and everything that is thrown at me. When I accepted your proposal and accepted this ring -” She places his hand on top of the pink ring that she wore. “- that meant that I fully trusted you, was willing to be fully honest, weather any storm, and do whatever it took for us together. So for you to stand here and imply that you may not have told me that you kissed another woman, even drunk, and not just any woman but Erin,  doesn’t really sit well.” Chase takes a deep breath.

“I know, and I am so sorry. I should’ve told you immediately.” He then glances back towards the ground. “I’m just dealing with everything as best as I can, and trying to face the storm that we have before us with the trial and paternity test, I tried to forget every other bit of drama.”

“Have you and Erin talked since the kiss?” Chase shakes his head no as he glances back up at Sarina.

“We texted here and there, but nothing on the matter. From what Ryan said, she was ready to forget knowing that it came from a place of misjudged behavior.” Sarina takes a calming breath as she lets go of him, pacing in a small circle. “Sarina….”

“I want to just forget about it and not think about it, but I can’t help but wonder. What’s her reaction? Does this change things moving forward?” Chase then reaches out for her hand, snagging it.

“I love you, I trust you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to be with you all the time as any time that we’re apart kills me. You have to believe that nothing has changed…” She then gives him a small glance. “Please…”

“Is there anything else I should know, first?” Chase was about to put it off as nothing, but he knew he’d written himself a deep enough hole already with that approach.

“Erin admitted that she once had a crush on me and that’s why she was very judgmental of us being together at first. I woke up middle of the night and was on the balcony, and she came out to join me. We got talking about my feelings, and then I mentioned how we’d always care about each other as close friends. She then admitted the crush, saying that she ate up every minute that we got to spend together at the banqu-”

“But yet I’m supposed to believe that she thought the kiss was innocent?” Chase nods his head slowly.

“After she told me, she said that she also realized in the same breath that the way I looked at you for the first time was a look that she had never gotten herself in return, and she knew that I’d found the person I wanted to be with. She added that over time, she’s begin to realize how much we care about each other, how you’re there for me and vise versa, and is willing to accept what we have – as long as her and I remain close friends.” Sarina let that thought run through her mind, trying to knock out every bit of jealousy and anger mixed in by a simple kiss.

“So I’m supposed to believe that everything between you both is really nothing that I need to be concerned about?” Chase nods his head once again.

“It’s the same type of friendship that you have with Chri-”

“Don’t make this about me now, Chase.” Chase takes a deep breath as he glances down a couple stalls in Christopher’s direction, before looking back to Sarina.

“I’m not, because I don’t blame a single thing that I did on you; it’s all on me for the decisions that I made, and I accept every bit of that. I’m just saying that the friendship I have with Erin, that trust, is like what you have with Christopher. Heck, didn’t Christopher seamlessly have a crush on you at one point, too? I was able to let that go once you both explained where you stood. I’m now asking for that same understan-”

“I didn’t kiss him-”

“What do you want me to say to make it better than?” Sarina was almost set to spit back in his face, but she took a calming deep breath. It wouldn’t be worth it because she knew she’d just be mad at herself a couple hours later for chasing him away, and would want to be right back in his arms. She learned that from the other plenty of times that she tried the runaway approach.

“Nothing. You don’t need to say anything.” She then reaches for his hand. “I love you so much that it scares me to think that I could wake up tomorrow and it all be gone. I’ve never felt so in love with someone, or special, until you came into my life. You taught me how to be a better person, you made me face my demons, and you led to me something that I didn’t think possible. I’m always afraid it’s a dream, and that someone is standing right there ready to crumple it up and toss it in my face. So I’m sorry if something small like a drunken kiss or a past crush scares me. I just don’t want to lose this…”

“I don’t want to lose it, either. That’s why I kept fighting every time you tried to run.” She then looks down at her ring.

“And I said when I accepted the ring that I was done running, and ready to live my life with the one man that always makes me smile. I love you.”

“I love you, too.” He then places a light kiss on her lips as she wraps an arm around his waistband. “I’m sorry…”

“You don’t need to apologize, Chase. Let’s just focus on the rest of this weekend, us and moving forward, okay?” He nods his head in agreement.

“Go show them how it’s done,” he tells her, giving her a kiss, before walking away as she climbed in the truck, ready for that night.

He then climbs up on the pit box, taking his usual seat up beside the boss with a smile.

“Is everything okay?” Kyle asks and Chase nods his head.

“Everything’s great,” he answers with a smile as Kyle rolls his eyes.

“I just heard that you guys were having a serious conversation earli-”

“We were, and we worked it out. That’s all that needs to be said, okay?” Chase wasn’t about to tell Kyle that he kissed another girl.

“As long as you’re both happy together, I’m not going to interrupt.”

Starting on pole, Chase half-expected Sarina to cruise away from the field, but instead she fell back to second immediately fighting a loose condition in the middle of the corner. She remained second until the caution waved with 14 laps to go in the first stage. Rudy would leave her on-track, allowing her to start on the outside of the front row. She would get a good restart, taking the lead when Dalton Sargeant spun the tires, leading until the last lap.

“Are you kidding me?!?” Chase questions out loud as she crossed the line second to John Hunter Nemechek end the first stage after getting real loose in turn two.

“I repeat Rudy – I am loose!” She literally screams on the radio, as if he hadn’t heard the comment enough times over the run.

“Adjustments coming right up,” he assures her as she gets set to head down pit road.

The team would put together a good pit stop, sending her off pit road first at the front of the field. She would lead the initial laps, before fading back to sixth. She’d remain there through most of the rest of the event, fighting back to fourth at the end.

“I just fought a loose condition all night with the truck,” she tells reporters after the race. “I don’t know what it is, but I need to get better at my feedback and getting this team heading in the right direction because we can’t be doing this over and over to ourselves. I know we have the speed in the trucks and once we get it sorted the way I want it, we’re going to fight back and kick some ass.” She then smiles as the reporters walk away, feeling a pair of arms wrap around her shoulders. “Comforting and loving me is not going to save you both.”

“Can’t we at least try?” Chase offers as he gives her a quick kiss on the cheek.

“I’m not doing the kissing thing,” Kyle states as Chase just laughs back in response. “But I know you love that guy so it has to be doing something.” She then glances to her left, giving Chase a quick wink. “I saw that!”

“It doesn’t change what I sai-” Sarina starts, earning an eye roll from them both.

“You did nothing wrong tonight. You gave Rudy good feedback all night. A little bit more there from you, combined with some better adjustments in knowing what you’re saying, and you guys will be golden. Don’t shoot yourself totally in the foot. You’re doing a good job. We’ll figure it out.” He then goes to walk away from her. “Chase, make sure to give her a good distraction tonight and I’ll see you Monday.”

“I thought you were against distractions….” Kyle then glances back.

“I never said that. I just said to use a glove in all processes.” He then heads off as Chase tugs her closer to him.

“I say we follow the boss’ advice to the direct order,” Chase offers as she just grins back in response.

“Maybe it isn’t a bad idea after all,” she comments.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 86: Toyota/Save Mart 350

Friday June 22, 2018 – Gateway Motorsports Park

Sarina watches Todd walk up to the top of the grandstands, sitting down beside her with a funnel cake in hand.

“Really?” She questions with a chuckle as he takes a piece, flaunting it before her, then eating it. “I don’t want to be the one cleaning your truck after the race tomorrow.”

“It’ll be gone before then,” he answers as he gets comfortable. “I’m surprised you actually came to watch the ARCA race with me. I thought you’d be facetiming your boo all night.” She just rolls her eyes.

“I can have a life too, Todd.” She then reaches over, breaking a piece off and eating it.

“Hey!” She then sticks her tongue out.

“You can’t buy a treat like that and not share…” He then lets out a sigh as he lets her steal another piece. “Besides, this is actually pretty good.”

“See why I couldn’t resist it?” She nods her head, accepting.

Between sharing the snack and the action on-track, there seemed to be not any other care in the world as she was taken immediately in by everything, sharing jokes with Todd along the way. They both cheered on Christian, hoping he’d put together a good run before the truck race tomorrow.

About three quarters through the race, she hears her phone go off, pulling it out of her pocket.

“Chase?” Todd assumes without even glancing over with a chuckle.

“No….I wish though,” she replies, earning a curious glance from Todd. “Remember how Christopher and I were joking around last weekend?” Todd nods his head, having seen them outside of the media center together.

“Like you said to Christian, you guys are just friends….” He then doesn’t hear a response, earning another curious glance. “Right?”

“Absolutely as that’s what both Christopher and I have said to each other and believed every step of the way. So why is it that everybody else can’t understand that?”

“Christi-”

“I don’t even care what he said earlier anymore!” She then shoves her phone at Todd, so he looks at the article before him. “Just beautiful, right?”

“While Chase Elliott was vacationing in Ireland, Sarina Ott was spotted getting close to ex-teammate Christopher Bell. The pair spent several minutes talking, seeming laughing even with a hug. It isn’t the first time that the pair have been spotted together in the garage being real close, even sparking rumors last year about possibly being together. One has to wonder with the current situation surrounding Elliott and Allison Reynolds, including a possible pregnancy, if Ott is leaning to Bell for comfort, or possibly more.” He then glances up at Sarina. “Are they serious?”

“That’s what’s been released by one of those lovely rag magazines.” She then snatches her phone back from Todd. “It also goes on to speak of how I started dating Chase before I landed the ride with his Late Model team and KBM, as well as the fact that there could be issues both ways given Ms. Reynolds and that trial situation.”

“Seriously?” She nods her head as she closes the article on her phone. “Is this normal per the course?”

“Because of everything with my background, how I got the ride and the questions surro-”

“Pure talent, gir-”

“Some say only because I slept with Chase.” Todd then laughs out loud.

“They obviously haven’t raced against you ever.” She then smiles back in return.

“Thank you, but that doesn’t quit the haters now does it?” Todd lets out a sigh and shakes his head no.

“It’s like those that say the only reason I have this opportunity is because of my dad.” She then leans back as she tries to focus back on the ARCA race.

“Regardless, both Chase and I are used to this now as it isn’t the first time and it probably won’t be the last. All about having that public relationship, right? There’s always some tramp trying to break us up and this is the latest attempt. Clearly they don’t get how much we love each other, or the meaning of having best friends.”

“I’m glad you both found that meaning together. don’t let anyone change that.” She smiles as she glances down at the ring on her finger.

“I don’t plan on letting anyone change that, Todd. We’ve worked so hard to get to where we are. One little rag article isn’t going to change that.”

Saturday June 23, 2018 – Sonoma Raceway

Chase gives Alan a high-five after the qualifying session was done, big smile on his face. After all the doubts entering the weekend, it was nice to know that he would start Sunday’s race from the third position. Now as long as he kept it on the black top and ran a smooth race, they may be able to pull off a solid finish to get on a bit of a roll here.

He then makes his way down pit road, though was surprised when he was stopped mid-way by his teammate.

“Do you need some advice, seven-time?” He teases Jimmie, who just shakes his head no in return while remaining serious.

“I was just wondering if you saw the article that was posted about Sarina and Christopher,” Jimmie offers instead, earning a simple sigh from Chase. “So you have…”

“And?” Jimmie crosses his arms as he keeps his eyes locked on his teammate.

“I thought I’d get more of a reaction from you than that.” Chase shakes his head no.

“I know the friendship that her and Christopher have together. I know how much he’s there for her to lean on for advice when she needs someone, and I know it goes no further than being friends. It’s just someone trying to stir the pop as usual. Aren’t we used to that already?” Jimmie nods his head, having seen his share of articles when Jeff was going through his divorce.

“I was just worried about the effect it would have on yo-”

“I read it out of curiosity, and closed it right away. It hasn’t bothered me at all today.” That was a partial lie as it was the beginning of everything coming out in relation to Alison, and Chase wasn’t sure if he was ready for that quite yet.

“That’s good to hear. I mean, I know honesty has come up before in your relationship and I was worried the rumors would spark a probl-”

“We’ve over that, Jimmie. Why do you think I asked her to marry me? I’m in this for the long haul, committed to her no matter what – just like she’s committed to me. we also have our friends, too, but that’s it. Her friendship to Christopher is just like me and Erin…” Chase then froze a little, remembering what Ryan had told him on the plane about what happened while he was drunk. He didn’t want to go there, but what if Christopher and Sarina had more than he realized?

“Chase?” Chase snaps out of his thoughts as Jimmie doesn’t budge at all. “What are you thinking? As soon as you mentioned Erin’s name, you went qui-”

“There’s nothing goi-”

“Didn’t you just spend a week with her-”

“Ryan was there, too-”

“But something happened…” Chase lets out a sigh as he couldn’t deny any longer. “Do you want to tell me what happened?”

“Erin told me that she’s had a crush on me for the longest time, but never pursued it because she knew it wouldn’t work. She knew that I was meant for someone else like Sarina, and she’s happy that I’ve found that.” Jimmie wasn’t too surprised as he remembered how close Erin and Chase were when they went to the banquet together.

“But yet she told you?” Chase nods his head yes.

“We were standing on the porch talking about some personal thoughts of my own with bad dreams, and we mentioned how we’d always care for each other and that came out of her mouth. As soon as it was said, we moved on the rest of the trip as friends without any changes.” Of course that was a lie as there was a forgotten kiss in there, too. But if he didn’t remember it, what mattered?

“Can I give you some advice?” Chase lets out a sigh, not sure he wanted to go with this. “Take a moment and let yourself digest everything. Let yourself think about your relationship with Sarina and everything you’ve been through together. Think about your relationship with Erin and how that friendship has grown, and what you mean to each other. Think about why she would’ve wanted you to know that fact. Think about Sarina’s relationship with Christopher. The reason I say this is I don’t want you to bury yourself so deep in a relationship that isn’t going to last because of other factors. Save yourself from pain later by facing everything now.”

“Are you trying to tell me something with those words, Jimmie?” Jimmie shakes his head no.

“I stand by you and Sarina. Remember how I pushed for that engagement with Dale?” Chase laughs, remembering the conversations in Colorado. “I just don’t want to be helping you pick up the pieces later – if there’s any to pick up later because it fell apart. For all I know, this is just some pointless worry and the glass isn’t even touched. But do yourself the favor and do that now. I’ve seen one of my best friends go through a divorce. I don’t want to see another one.” Chase nods his head, sympathically.

“I’ll keep that advice in mind. Thank you, Jimmie.”

“Nice job in qualifying.”

Saturday June 23, 2018 – Sonoma Raceway

Getting comfortable that night at the motorcoach, Chase knew he was in for a long night with the truck race from Gateway. The fact that he was having to watch a second truck race in a row not at the track didn’t make it easy one bit. At least when he was at the track he had direct access to knowing everything that was going on from Rudy and the guys.

Thankfully, the race went smoothly as Sarina ran up front all night long, leading a ton of laps through the event and looked destined to pull off her second win of the season. However, it wasn’t meant to be as while leading, she had to pit under caution with seven laps to go for a flat tire. She was then able to fight back for a 10th-place finish.

Knowing she’d be disappointed, Chase pulls his phone and sends her a text of encouragement and comfort, adding in a small special message at the end. He then sets it down on the night table as he lays back in the bed.

Jimmie’s advice hadn’t left his mind since their conversation earlier in the afternoon. He understood his teammate’s concern – and appreciated his advice on the situation, too. Chase had taken it to heart as he ran everything through his mind as Jimmie told him. He even chuckled as he thought about to some memories with Erin, along with the tender moments. The memories with Sarina ranged from every emotion possible, but he wouldn’t changed anything as he’d grown along the way and learned a lot that he knew would help him moving forward in the future. He also thought about Christopher, the initial concerns that he had and wondering whether that was jealousy and self-warrant. He thought about when Christopher seemed to be turn a corner, conversations since then, and Christopher’s own relationship with his girlfriend Morgan.

Closing his eyes to go to sleep that night after weighing everything out, he was confident in where he stood across the board. There was a reason why he gave Sarina that ring, and there was no reason for him to take that back.

Sunday June 24, 2018 – Sonoma Raceway

Sarina walks down pit road, fixing her sunglasses upon her face as she flashes her signature smile with a wave to Samantha as she walks by Kyle Busch’s pit stall. She had done everything she could to arrive in California before the start of the race, but that unfortunately didn’t’ play out as she arrived just after the command to start engines have been given thanks to countless delays with her flight.

“What are your thoughts on the article about you and Christopher Bell?” She hears as it didn’t take long for a group of reporters to surround her on the walk, despite being dressed in a simple Chase Elliott t-shirt and jeans.

“Christopher and I are just friends,” she answers as she keeps walking. “We have a great friendship as it always has been. I’m fully committed to Chase Elliott as he’s my fiancé, and I look forward to spending the rest of my life with him. As for your rumors that I am straying due to everything going on, I’m sorry but you’re full of shit.” She knew she’d get in shit from Andy about her last comment, but they deserved it as it seemed they wouldn’t shut up every week despite being told the same answer countless times.

“What about Alison Reynolds?” She wasn’t surprised to hear that question.

“No comment.” It was the standard answer that she had gotten used to giving all year, but that’s all she was allowed to say in it being a current legal issue. She could only hope it was all solved a month from now, rather than taking forever. “How about you guys enjoy the race like I plan on doing?” She then entered into Chase’s pit, offering a few hugs and high-fives to the guys before heading up on the pit box with Alan.

“And the princess makes her grand entrance,” Alan comments with a grin as she just rolls her eyes.

“They always want to bug and create their stories,” she offers as she gets comfortable, picking her headset. “I’m still allowed up here, right?”

“Absolutely. Everybody close to you knows they’re full of shit, right?” She nods her head.

Thankfully, Chase made her trip to California worth it as he ran up front all race long en route to a fourth-place finish.

Thursday June 28, 2018 – Chicagoland Speedway

“Do you think five months is enough time to plan?” Chase questions as he glances over Sarina’s shoulder in the garage area.

“Do you really think I’m like those all too cool preppy girls who want this big huge damn wedding?” She replies as he laughs. “I just want it small and quiet with our closest friends. I’m sure five months is enough time, Chase.” She then turns around to face him. “Are you sure you’re ready for the big day in five months?”

“Oh so now you’re asking if I’m ready?” He then wraps his arms around her and pulls her close. “I can tell you that I’ve been ready for awhile now to call you Ms. Sarina Ott Elliott.” He then places his hand on hers atop of the ring. “That’s why I found the perfect pink diamond for you.”

“So it’s settled then. January wedding?” He nods his head, accepting.

“Colorado or Florida?” It felt weird to be getting married away from home, but it also felt perfect given their beginnings. They always felt their most at home together and free when they were away at the cottage in Colorado, but also found their true beginnings down in Florida at the Snowball Derby.

“Colorado. A winter wedding should take place where there’s lots of snow.” He then kisses her lips lightly.

“Then it’s settled. We’ll get married in January in Colorado.”

“Did I just hear that right?” A new voice joins the fray as Rudy walks over to them. “You’re getting married in January in Colorado?” The pair glance at each other, before looking towards the crew chief with a nod. “Wow. I’m surprised at this wedding discussion, especially following the latest round of articles that I’ve been seeing.”

“Oh Rudy, what did you tell me about reading that crap?” Sarina questions and Rudy smiles as he remembers the advice.

“Why do you think I deleted it immediately?” She then smiles, giving him a high-five. “I knew there had to be no truth to the Christopher Bell rumors. I mean, aren’t he and Morgan close to getting married, too?”

“They’re close enough that it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened this week.”

“Well, I hate to bother the love birds but someone has a truck practice that she must attend to. May I borrow your bride?” Chase laughs as he slowly lets her go.

“She has five months to plan so I supposed she can spend the next couple of hours working for you,” Chase answers. “But I get this first.” He then snags a kiss from her before fully letting her go. “Have some fun today.”

“That’s the plan,” she replies before walking over to the truck.

The happiness continued through both practices as the speed was shown, and Rudy was able to get her comfortable in the truck to where she was liking the handling as well. By the time it was over, she had ended up fourth and 10th on the speed charts for each session.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 85: “I think you’re drunk.”

Tuesday June 19, 2018 – Dublin, Ireland

The afternoon had been fun for the group, as there were more interesting aspects to the making of Irish Whiskey than they had realized, and even some of the history had been intriguing too. Oh yeah, and the consumption was obviously a highlight of the group,

“Chase, are you sure you can walk?” Erin asks with a laugh as they head towards the exit.

“I told you – I am fine,” Chase comments as Ryan just rolls his eyes.

“And here he was worried about you,” Ryan offers as Erin just smirks. It was actually kind of nice payback seeing him feeling more than she was.

“I don’t think we should do the other tour today as planned,” Erin comments as they had planned to do the Guinness Beer tour that same day as well. Obviously this declaration wouldn’t go over well with Ryan considering he had been looking forward to that since landing in Dublin.

“Oh come on, we will be fine,” Chase says as he wraps an arm around Erin’s shoulders.

“Are you sure about that buddy? Because if I am being honest, I think you’re drunk.” That just brought on a laughing response from Chase in return.

“Definitely drunk,” Ryan declares.

Knowing they had to keep him out of trouble and wanting to watch the effect of the alcohol begin to wear off slowly, Erin had decided to take the long walk back through town, followed by a light meal at one of her favorite spots.

Along the way, they passed by a children’s park – which immediately saw Chase stop with a smile.

“Erin, come play with me!” He lets out as he makes his way over. Erin looks over at Ryan concerned, who just shrugs his shoulders in response.

“Maybe another time,” Erin plays it off. “Come on Chase…”

“Just one ride, please?” She was almost ready to laugh at him begging, though then looked on surprised as he got on one of the round-abouts. She looked on even more shocked when Ryan took out his phone, sharing on Snapchat as Chase got himself going around fast, before it came to a slow stop.

“Are you alright?” Ryan asks, now laughing at Chase’s behavior.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Chase answers as he tries to remain steady on his feet. “Let’s go…”

“Oh boy….” Ryan just follows along behind as Erin could only wonder what as going to happen next. She hadn’t been used to seeing either of them drunk, so it was certainly a learning experience as she went along.

“Erin, you’re amazing….” Chase then stops, wrapping an arm around her shoulders as she just flashes a smile back in return.

“I think you’re pretty cool too,” she offers, easily accepting the gesture.

“I want to spend the rest of the week with you.” She now wondered how much was honesty and how much was drunkenness. Regardless, she wasn’t going to deny her dream coming true. It was okay to live out a fantasy once in awhile, right?

“I wouldn’t mind doing the same with you, too. But you do have to go to Sonoma this weekend….” That just brought out a long sigh from Chase as he wasn’t about to let Erin go,

“Ryan, do I have to go turn left and right?” Ryan simply nods his head as he didn’t know what to think of these events. “Damn…..”

“I think you’re going to do a great job this weekend, though. You won in Canada, remember?” Ryan smiles as he also knew the answer to that question for himself, too.

“But I like it here and its fun with you and you’re amazing, and I just like the time we’re spending together….” He then turns to face her, snagging a kiss, before skipping off ahead.

“Did that just happen?” Ryan could only stand there shocked as he watched Chase, before looking towards Erin.

“You know he didn’t mean that like it looked, right?” Ryan offers and Erin slowly nods her head. “I mean it, Erin! He loves Sarina and he can’t wait to marry her and be with her for the rest of his life. Do not dare think that meant anymore than it did. Do not dare think of doing anyth-”

“I get it, Ryan,” Erin cuts him off. “Remember when I said I understood where things were? That includes knowing that he’s drunk right now and things just happen during that time. At least he kissed me and not some stranger.”

Ryan knew that was a positive he could take away from the experience, but yet he just hoped that nothing more was said or come about as they didn’t need anymore drama. Besides, this trip was supposed to be an escape from all of that.

Wednesday June 20, 2018 – Dublin, Ireland

“Are you still watching that video?” Chase asks as he adjusts himself slightly in the seat, ready to fly home.

“I’m sorry but it’s worth every single laugh at your expense,” Ryan answers with a chuckle as Chase rolls his eyes.

“I can’t believe how drunk I got….” Ryan couldn’t help but agree with him. “How much whiskey did I end up sampling anyway?”

“I don’t even remember how many glasses or flavors. Do you have any memories?” Chase closes his eyes, as he nods his head.

“I remember the first half of the tour – all the history that they talked about. Then he got into how they developed different flavors, and started suggesting some flavors to try and previous ways they had gone about it. From there on, it begins to get blurry.” Ryan wasn’t surprised given how the rest of the day went. But he did wonder about the kiss, still.

“Do you remember anything after we left?” Chase shakes his head no. “Are you sure?”

“Is there something you’re not telling me?” Ryan knew he should’ve shut up immediately.

“Absolutely no-“

“That’s a lie. What are you hiding?” Ryan immediately swallowed the lump in his throat.

“Don’t tell Erin I told you because I told her I wasn’t going to tell you.” Chase rolls his eyes immediately. What was with all the secrets? “You kissed her.”

“I did what?” Ryan looks directly at Chase.

“You kissed her after we went to the park.” Chase’s jaw drops immediately.

“Please tell me that she knew I was drunk….”

“Oh, that was obvious.” Chase lets out a small sigh.

“She tells me about this crush and I say no big deal, and then I kiss her. How lovely is that?” Ryan nods his head.

“I was worried, too. But she talked me down immediately and assured that there was no problem. You don’t need to worry.” Chase wanted to let it go easily too, but that kiss combined with Alison didn’t feel good.

“I’ve been so loyal to Sarina and now thrown that away twice in a year. Who does that?”

“I know that but it doesn’t change what happened. I had a choice with Erin.”

“Least it was Erin and Sarina would understand.” Chase knew that more than likely but that didn’t cure his thoughts.

“You’re not going to tell, are you?” Ryan shakes his head no. “I know you’re righ-“

“But there’s enough going on. I get it, Chase. Let’s just enjoy these last moments of peace and tranquility.”

Wednesday June 20, 2018 – Charlotte, North Carolina

Heading inside the house, his mind had totally forgotten about what had happened as all he could think about was seeing his girl. While Ireland had been amazing, and the friendship with Erin was special, he couldn’t deny how much he had missed Sarina the entire time.

“I’m home!” He lets out as he sets his bags down, not caring about them right now. He knew he should unpack and wash everything, considering he’d be heading out to Sonoma tomorrow, but that wasn’t important.

“I’m upstairs,” he hears and smiles as he heads up the stairs. He figured that she’d be packing her stuff for Gateway as she liked to always be prepared for trips.

Though as he reaches the doorway of the bedsroom, he stops instantly, jaw dropping at the sight before him. Whether it was how the dress showed off the curves, or how toned her legs were from working out, or the thoughts running through his mind in seeing her lick the lollypop, he felt hard immediately.

“Is there a problem, Chase?” She asks as she slowly stands up and makes her way over, wrapping her arms around his neck. He just shakes his head no as her lips find his. “I missed you, and figured I’d give you a proper greeting back home.”

“I can’t deny how much I missed you, too….” he lets out as he picks her up, letting her legs wrap around his waist as he carries her over to the bed. “Did you at least have fun with Lindsay?”

“Yeah, I did – as well as Christopher.” Chase couldn’t but hesitate at hearing that, considering his own experience with Erin. “Did you have fun in Ireland?”

“It was exactly what I needed. There’s so many spots that I want to take you to show you.” Despite how things may have gone in parts and the tension that laid there now, he couldn’t deny the fun that was had along the way.

“Maybe in the off-season…” She then runs her hands up underneath her shirt. “Now, how about we make the most of the time we have together?”

“36 hours….” As she lays back on the bed and he lays over her, his lips find his way to hers once again, taking them in completely, with her slipping his t-shirt off over his head in between.

“Better make every single second of that worth it….” He had plans to do that as he reached around, slowly pulling down the zipper on the back of her dress.

“Then why are you still wearing this?” She then tugs on the waistline of his jeans, grabbing his manhood as she does.

“The same reason you’re damn well wearing this boy…” He then smirks at her.

“You better do something about that then.” She just smiles as she undoes the button, letting them slide down his legs.

Friday June 22, 2018 – Gateway Motorsports Park

With having just finished the debrief following the first practice session, Sarina sits back as she loads the Cup Series Sonoma practice results.

Things had been going well for her so far in Gateway, as she was second quickest in the first practice with her teammate Christian Eckes topping the charts. She also wasn’t too put off by Chase’s practice results, seeing that he was 13th and 15th in the pair of sessions at Sonoma. She then sends him a quick message, adding that she’ll make sure to Facetime later that night once the ARCA race was over.

“Texting the boyfriend again?” Todd Gilliland teases, which Sarina just flips him the bird in return. “Christopher was right – you guys are addicted to each other.”

“What’s wrong with madly being in love?” Sarina questions as Todd just shrugs his shoulders. “And Christopher can tease all he wants, but we know how much he loves Morgan.” She then places her hand on Todd’s leg. “You just need to find yourself a girl now.”

“Careful getting cuddly there, as some rumors may start flying,” Christian comments, earning a curious glance from both Sarina and Todd.

“Everybody knows how much Chase and I love each other. Can’t you tell by the engagement, or the time we spend together?” Christian puts his hands up in defense immediately.

“I’m not saying it’s not true, Sarina. Even though I’m not around here, I get the relationship and I’m not judging. I’m just saying the outside perspective.” Sarina crosses her arms, still not liking the direction of his comments. “We all know you guys are doing whatever you can to keep the Alison trial under wraps so there’s not much discussion. However, there’s the rumors about the fact that she’s pregnant with Chase’s chil-”

“Full of shit just trying to screw with us!” Todd looks over surprised by the instant outburst.

“But what if it’s true? Everybody wonders the dynamics and whether you can both survive a rocky ship if she is pregnant, considering that’s something that you can’t do while driv-”

“How about you just mind your own fucking business?!?” Todd’s jaw drops even further as he glances between the pair. “Am I hearing this right, Gilliland?”

“Christian isn’t lying as there’s been some musings around the garage with that coming to light,” Todd starts carefully as he could see that Sarina was on edge. “Everybody knows that there’s been rough times, and it begs the question for some – hence the generalization that Christian made. It’s better to be aware of the situation, anyway.” Todd then looks over at Christian. “That said, you crossed the line in your comment about her ability to have a baby. How do you know that? She could easily take some time off, or have a baby once she’s done racing….” Todd then looks back over at Sarina, seeing the change in her demeanor. “Or maybe there’s something else in the cards that’s affecting things. You just shouldn’t accuse like you did.”

“I’m sorry Sarina,” Christian immediately apologizes as Sarina keeps her eyes locked on the pavement below.

“I know you didn’t mean anything wrong by your question as I understand your curiosity,” she starts quietly. With Todd’s explanation, she knew that she couldn’t let him have the harshest end of the stick as her teammate was right – despite her own personal feelings. “I get everybody’s thoughts and curiousity. You’re right there’s a chance that Chase could be the father, but he says he isn’t so I’m sticking with that. Beyond that, I have nothing to say on the topic.”

“That’s fine. Let’s talk about our plan for next practice….” Sarina takes a deep breath as she glances back at the truck, trying to get her head back into the game.

She completed the whole discussion with her teammates, before heading over to the truck, reaching in for her helmet and gloves.

“Are you okay?” Rudy asks as he places a hand on her shoulder, and she simply nods her head in return. “I overheard the discussion with Todd and Christian. Christian had no right to bring that up-”

“He doesn’t know what’s going on, so how was he supposed to know how it’d bother me?” She questions back in return as she cleans the visor. “That’s the hardest part, Rudy. Nobody knows what’s going on, with the miscarriage and infertility, so baby discussions just happen out of nowhere. They don’t realize that it’s killing me inside because I keep hearing the words over and over in my head that I can’t do that myself. I don’t want to be that person that lets it bother them, but damn sometimes I can’t help it.”

“That’s understandable. But Sarina, I can tell you that you’re one of the strongest people that I know and if anybody can fight through whatever this storm brings, it’s you and Chase together. You’ll figure it out. It may take some time, but you’ll do what you need to do.” She nods her head, accepting.

“I think the hardest part is waiting for that second appointment that seems to be taking forever. I get that this specialist is super great at what she does and super busy and booked, but the wait is killing me. I know the chances of a change in her answer are slim, but that chance doesn’t let me close the bo-”

“Chapter, because remember there’s options…” She lets out a sigh, remembering the discussion about that. “Never close the book because you can always continue the story by taking a different path.”

“Can I just say how amazing you are?” Rudy smiles as he wraps an arm around her shoulders, pulling her into a hug.

“You’re equally as amazing, and we’re going to win some more races before this season is over. Now let’s put all of this behind us with some great lap times, okay?” She nods her head, accepting, before climbing in the truck.

The speed chart certainly didn’t show this session well by the end, as she was only 10th quickest. However, that didn’t bother her and Rudy, knowing they were working on long-run stuff and the handling of the truck. In that regard, she felt confident based on how it felt, and the fact that she was second quickest on the 10-lap average chart.