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.

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 84: “Now what do we do?”

Saturday, June 16 – Ireland

Sitting in the car glancing at the go-kart track from the car, they all let out a sigh together. Their journey was for nothing as there was no way that they were going to chance going out in the rain doing this.

“I’m hungry,” Ryan lets out as he turns the key in the ignition. “Let’s go find some food and continue heading to Dublin. There’s no sense sitting here all day.” He then turns back on the road as Erin re-routes the GPS to head to Dublin now.

“Why didn’t we pack any snacks?” Chase asks as he checks throughout the backseat of the car for anything. “We fail at road trips.”

“Blame Erin.” Erin then looks over at Ryan shocked. “You’re the one that said we should go here, and take this ridiculous route.”

“Right, let’s blame your sister for the rain and your lack of preparation skills considering you always get hungry first.” Erin then smirks as her eyes remain locked on Ryan.

“Thank you Chase,” she replies as he gets back comfortable in the backseat as Ryan just rolls his eyes. “How about you also drive carefully this time?”

“Do you want to drive instead?” Ryan challenges and Erin shakes her head no. “Then no arguments, please.”

Ryan follows the route as silence falls on everybody in the car – no doubt nobody wanting to say anything out of crankiness due to hunger. The route takes them through several small cities, that strangely not a single place to grab a snack could be found in sight.

Feeling they were stuck in the middle of nowhere, they finally landed upon the city of Leixlip, which gave them some hope immediately as they rolled up into a town.

“Let’s try this place,” Chase offers, noticing a small pub on the corner of the road. Ryan, not caring as long as he got some food, pulled into the parking lot. With the rain having disappeared, they were able to all get out without fear of getting soaked this time. Ryan led them to the doors, where they headed inside, instantly set to leave immediately. “Maybe this was a bad idea…”

“Ya think?” Ryan questions, earning a stern glance from Chase. But it had seemed they stepped back in time with the sights inside of the place, feeling like they were back in the 1870s with the décor and style. The smell also matched the sight it seemed, too. “It’s almost like they haven’t ever cleaned this place.”

“Do we trust anything from those counters?” Ryan made a face as he saw the layer of dust that lined the bar. As the boys stood back nervous, Erin took charge and walked up to the man the bar. Ryan was already preparing to go into full protective mode given the glance she got in return.

“Do you have any food?” Erin asks, not seeing any menu anywhere to read but hinting there may be a kitchen behind the door.

“Food?” The guy repeats in a heavy accent that made him barely understandable.

“What?” Erin felt rude saying it like that, but it seemed to match the service they were getting.

“Maybe we should go….” Ryan suggests as he places a hand on her shoulder.

“Beer?” The guy questions and Ryan shakes his head no.

“Food. F-O-O-D.” The guy then gives him a puzzled glance as Ryan lets out a long sigh. “Erin, let’s go.” She then lets out a sigh, following him back outside and into the car.

“Remind me to always pack food when traveling with you two,” Chase comments as he surveys the area. “I feel like I’m never going to find food.”

“Ah look at this Erin, the poor superstar is going to waste away to nothing,” Ryan teases, earning a smack in the back of the head from Chase. “Hey! You could’ve packed your own smacks, dumbass!”

They return back on the road, continuing the journey, fingers crossed they found something soon.

Saturday, June 16 – Iowa Speedway

Sarina leans against the truck, giving a shrug of her shoulders as Rudy and Lindsay walk over.

“I had to give it a shot,” she offers with a smile on her face. “50 feet earlier, and that thing would’ve stuck perfectly.”

Running second on the last lap to Brett Moffit, she tried the “full send” move going into the final corner, planning to slide up in front of him. However, a little misjudgment, and she made contact with the wall instead en route to crossing the line second.

“Hey, I appreciate the effort,” Rudy compliments her with a pat on the shoulder.

“Even if I banged in the whole right side?” She questions and he nods her head.

“That’s easily fixable anyway. You did a great job!”

“Hey, you’ll make Sportscenter at least,” Lindsay adds earning a chuckle from Sarina.

“We’re going to win races soon Rudy, and lots at that,” she says and he simply nods his head in response.

“We’re just saving those wins for the playoffs,” he adds earning a smile back in return.

After a series of interviews, Rudy and the team headed to the garage for post-race inspection. Lindsay headed back to the trailer, set to relax with how she was feeling, while leaving Sarina to head to the media center for post-race interviews. Those didn’t take as long as expected as it seemed the media didn’t have as many questions as she predicted. After thanking them for their time, she headed out, ready to meet back up with Lindsay.

“How about leaving those moves to the professionals?” She hears and instantly chuckles as she recognized the voice immediately. She then slowed down, allowing Christopher to catch up with her.

“I thought I could steal a page out of your playbook,” she offers as he just chuckles back in response.

“You don’t have enough dirt experience to know the timing, sweetheart.” She just rolls her eyes, but couldn’t help but smile in response. “But I do applaud you for making that last lap very exciting and interesting, and I applaud the effort. That was a great attempt at stealing the lead – enough to get you on Sportscenter.”

“That’s what Lindsay said, too.” Christopher smiles as he had seen Lindsay hanging out with her earlier in the weekend.

“So you’re spending time with Lindsay while the boys explore Ireland?” Sarina nods her head in response.

“With everything going on, Chase needed some time to just escape and not think about anything. So when Ryan suggested the trip, I immediately agreed for his sake. In the same token, I could see Ryan was nervous based on Lindsay being pregnant and dealing with some sickness so I agreed to keep an eye on her. Besides, we get our girl time.” Christopher could easily see how the plan fell together. However, he also knew another layer to the topic at hand.

“No hard feelings in babysitting somebody else whose pregnant after hearing the new-”

“Hey now, that’s not locked in stone yet.” She then stops, taking a deep breath. “I didn’t mean to get defensive.” Christopher stops and turns back to face her.

“That’s why I asked, though. I know you better than most, Sarina. I learned a lot about you during our time at KBM together, remember?” She nods her head, knowing how some wondered if she was with Christopher as much as Chase. “But I know you were told that you can’t carry a baby full-term so I just have to wonder if that’s playing with your thoughts as you watch Lindsay.”

“To be honest, I haven’t given it a single thought – until now. I’ve kept both situations separate because truthfully speaking, I’m so happy for my best friend. I’m glad that she’s found someone that loves her and appreciates her. I’m glad that she’s ready to build a future with Ryan, and I can’t wait to meet the little one when he or she is born. My appreciation and love for Lindsay, Ryan, and that little one makes it easy.” Christopher could accept that and see the reasoning, but the topic wasn’t going away just like that.

“But you got defensive because it’s not set in stone yet, so I know that it’s bothering you somewhere.” She then lets out a sigh, as she glances down at the ground.

“I’ve been trying to bring myself to accept the news and move forward. I’ve been trying to look at the options as discussed. It’s not an easy reality to face at times, Christopher, especially when we’ve talked about having these perfect dreams of a future with children.” She then glances up to look into his eyes. “How am I supposed to just accept this when Chase wakes up and says he had a dream of us having two children together –a boy or a girl? How can I accept this when I know I’m ripping away not only my dream, but his?”

“Have you talked about it with him?” She nods her head, remembering those discussions since New Years.

“Except when I heard about the news for sure at first and knowing what he had just gone through with Alison, I have told him everything Christopher. We’ve talked about it and we both know where we stand. That’s why we’re set to accept the news…” He places a hand on her shoulder.

“It’s okay to be upset or have reservations about it.” She then lets out a sigh.

“I know, Christopher….” There was still one lingering thought, though.

“Now you mentioned not set in stone….”

“We’re getting a second opinion. We’re in contact with one of the best doctors in the States and want her to look over my files and situation to see if there’s anything that maybe was missed. I want to know for 100% certainty before I move forward with any of those options. Is that fair?”

“Absolutely. I would want to do the same thing. So when is this appointment?” She then lets out a sigh as she glances at her phone.

“She’s really busy so it’s hard to get an appointment in her schedule, and then make that match with our schedules. There was an opening soon, but I don’t know if Chase is available and I don’t want to go alone.” Christopher keeps his eyes locked on hers.

“If you absolutely run into a spot where you’re going to be forced to go alone because something came up, don’t hesitate to call me. Same thing if you wake up in the middle of the night, or anything. Just call me.” She wanted to believe that, but she also felt another fear.

“What about Morgan?” Christopher knew she was referring to his girlfriend.

“She understands our friendship, and respects it – same way that Chase gets us, and I get why you and Chase go so well together. You don’t have to worry about a single thing. Call me, or even just text me. I don’t care what time because I will answer you.” A small smile forms on her face as she reaches out to give him a hug.

“Thank you. That means so much to me…” He easily wraps his arms back around her.

“Remember when I told you that our friendship doesn’t end just because we’re not teammates? I meant that, Sarina. I’m sorry but you’re stuck with me for life.” She then chuckles.

“Ah shucks….”

***********

Saturday, June 16 – Dublin, Ireland

“I can’t believe I missed this race to get lost in freaking bloody of nowhere with you two,” Chase comments as he watches a replay of the Truck Series race at the hotel room.

“Are you sure you got enough food there?” Ryan asks, noticing the bag that Chase had opened up.

“I was hungry, man. Don’t judge me!” Ryan just rolls his eyes as he takes a bite into his burger.

“I’m just saying that you may need to step up your work-out program when we get back.” Chase then looks over a little surprised.

“I bet I can lift more than your skinny ass.” It was now Ryan’s turn to glance back surprised.

“Dude, I’m a ninja! That’s better than some strong muscle man!” Chase laughs, but he knew that Ryan was right about the ninja comment. He saw the wall jump that Ryan did, jumping on a mat twice as high as him without much effort.

“I want to know where that comes from….”

“I certainly didn’t get those genes,” Erin adds as she glances over from her spot.

“I think you’re doing pretty fine though,” Chase comments, earning a eye roll from Ryan.

“What was that for, Blaney?” Ryan glances over at her. “Yeah, I saw the eye roll.

“The standing on the balcony together, the flirting comments – I thought I told you alre-” Ryan starts.

“Ryan, take a chill pill!” Chase lets out as Erin gives him a stern glance. “She told me, alright? I know that she had a crush on me for the longest time. I know how she felt then, and how she feels now. We talked about that, among other things on the balcony. You don’t need to worry over the smallest of things.”

“Seriously?” Chase nods his head as Erin felt like hiding her head immediately. She had promised Ryan to never let Chase know that.

“I was confessing some of my feelings about Alison, and then I went into some comments of our friendship and how I appreciate that. She then told me.” Ryan keeps his eyes locked on Erin.

“Seriously?” Chase then glances between the pair.

“I promised Ryan that I would never tell you,” Erin fills him in as Chase glances back towards Ryan. “He was afraid that it would make things awkward, and messy.”

“Well I am going to tell him the same thing that I told you – nothing is changing,” Chase comments. “We’re friends, we’re close, and that’s a fact. We’re just going to carry forward without any issues. Is that okay with you, Ryan?” Ryan slowly nods his head accepting.

“I just didn’t want her to mess up things with you and Sarin-” Ryan starts.

“It’s not!” Chase and Erin say together, before glancing at each other with a chuckle.

“Just imagine if she saw that right now, Chase.” Chase glances at his phone, loading up a photo from Iowa that had popped up on his twitter feed earlier, throwing the phone over to Ryan.

“And what am I supposed to think in seeing this, Ryan?” Chase questions as Ryan glances between the photo and Chase shocked. “Don’t look at me all shocked. She’s not cheating on me with Bell, same as I’m not cheating on her with Erin. We both respect each other’s close friendships with other people, even if opposite sex, and that’s all. That’s what you call finding respect and balance with your relationship, it took us time, and sure we had some pretty nasty fights along the way, but we’ve found that. You don’t need to worry anymore.”

Are you sure?” Ryan questions as Chase snatches his phone back.

“Trust me. I wouldn’t have given her a ring if that wasn’t the case, Ryan.”

“Now, what do you say we play a game of monopoly and let this all go?” Erin offers as she goes into the cupboard.

“I bet I am going to beat you both,” Chase comments as he clears off the table for them.

“I call being banker,” Ryan states as his eyes don’t leave Chase. He wanted to stick with those words and believe that everything would remain the same after this trip. However, he wasn’t about to write that in final writing yet.

Monday, June 18 – Dublin, Ireland

A good day later, and the whole questionable future was forgotten in their eyes. Erin and Chase had carried on as usual friends, with Ryan forgetting every bit of doubt that he had initially. Maybe it wasn’t so bad that Chase knew after all.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Chase questions as they walk up to the front doors of the John Jameson & Son Irish Whiskey Factory.

“As long as we don’t allow him to consume much,” Erin answers with a chuckle as they head inside the doors.

“Hey now, what’s a tour without a little consumption?” Ryan asks, earning a eye roll from both Erin and Chase.

“Just make sure to pace yourself there boy,” Chase comments as he places a hand on his shoulder. “I don’t want to be babysitting you later.” Ryan then glances over at Chase surprised.

“Are you sure it’s me that we should be worried about?” Chase then glances over at Ryan.

“Oh, you’re referring to lightweight over there.” Erin just flips them both the bird quickly as Ryan laughs.

“I actually am talking about the superstar in the middle here.” Erin then sticks her tongue out as Chase looks on surprised at them both.

“Me? When have you had to worry about me during this vacation, or any vacation for that matter?” Ryan then smirks as he takes out his phone, set to scroll through photos. Chase immediately places his hand on top of the phone. “That was a one time incide-”

“Are you sure about that, buddy?” Chase nods his head.

“Are we just going to stand here all day or can I find out how they make this stuff, please?” Erin questions as she stands at the front desk ready for the tour.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 79: Coca-Cola 600

Sunday, May 27 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Sarina walks into the Cup Series garage, surprised to see all of the crew members gone but yet one person remaining there. Her radar of concern came on immediately, too, seeing as he seemed lost in his own world.

Taking a deep breath, knowing that things were touchy still with everything going on and having heard the latest news, she didn’t know what to expect.

“Hey,” she says quietly as she places a hand on his shoulder. “Are you okay?” He nods his head as he glances back at her. “You know, you can tell me what’s on your min-”

“I told Ryan last night about what happened,” he cuts her off, catching her by surprise. “I told him what Alison did. I was freezing up a little thinking about the pageant last year where it began, how she tried to set us up with that photo, and he caught that. He brought up a couple other things and next thing, I told him what she did. I told him that she sexually assaulted me.” He takes a shaky deep breath as Sarina just remains frozen, hand locked on his shoulder.

“That’s big, Chase. For you to be able to talk to a friend, someone you trust, and voluntarily about that is big. It shows that you’re coming to grips with it, moving forward.” He nods his head as he turns a little, facing her more.

“I almost did it though as a test to myself. Could I speak about what happened clearly without a single problem? I know I have to speak to a room of strangers in a court room about what happened. But if I can’t tell a friend, how could I do tha-”

“You’re putting too much pressu-”

“I’d rather find out before I get to that moment how I am going to react and make sure I don’t totally freak out than to have it happen then.” Sarina could understand that, but still wanted to go back to her original words. However, she knew there was no convincing him. it was part of his nature to find his flaws, and work at fixing those.

“And how do you feel about that a day later now?” He then glances down, as he takes a deep breath.

“I think I can do it. I think I can go there, state what happened, and move forward. I’m ready to put that in the rearview. Just like I was ready for that night with you, I’m ready for the rest of this. I’ve come to grips that she did what she did, and the only way it can hurt me is if I let it hurt me. I still blame mysel-”

“Chas-”

“I know what you’re going to say, and I keep telling myself that – but it’s taking time, okay?” She nods her head, nicely. “Ryan did bring up something else though that I was thinking about, as well. He asked about the pregnancy claim, and what you thought about it. I told him you were angry initially, but have put that aside for us.” He then looks into her eyes. “Can I ask you for your honest opinion? I don’t care what it is, so don’t be afraid and lie so I will agree and make this easy. I want your honest opinion, please…”

“I want to believe you. I want to believe that she is full of shit and just doing this for what you said – to come between us, and to create false drama. I want to believe what you told me in what happened and the fact that there was no intercourse at any time. But damn it, I can’t help but wonder. Maybe that’s because of my own problems, maybe it’s jealousy – I don’t know. But I can’t stand here confidently and say that I don’t believe it without the fact on paper.” Chase nods his head, accepting, as he lets out a sigh.

“I will admit that it hurts to hear you can’t trust me fully on what happened and everything, but I get it. That’s all I’m going to say.” She then scoots closer, laying her head against his shoulder.

“No matter what, though, I am behind you and I am going to stand with you supporting you. I am going to do whatever it takes. I wouldn’t have accepted that proposal if I wasn’t going to.” A small smile forms on his face, before leaning in and kissing her lips.

“I’m glad that you accepted that proposal, by the way. I just hope you don’t go too crazy on the wedding plans.” She then chuckles back in response a little.

“I’ll try to keep it in line, but no promises….”

Chase leans back against the car, flashing a quick smile over the crew guys. It had been one of those decent races, where they looked stronger at times than others. However, running no higher than sixth throughout the event, they ended up with an 11th to show for their efforts.

“I call tonight progress,” Alan starts as he walks over, handing him a bottle of water. “We weren’t as strong as we wanted, but we were better than we’ve been lately. The new motor package made a difference, and we got closer on the handling. A couple more tweaks, and we’ll be where we were last year.” Chase nods his head as he takes a sip.

“It’s not going to happen overnight, but if we can make small gains like this, you’re right,” Chase comments as Alan smiles a little. It was nice to have a positive perspective compared to the past couple of weeks.

“Did you see how Jimmie ran? He was up in the top-five for a good middle portion of the race. Alex even flirted with the top-10. The work is beginning to finally show – hopefully enough to keep the guys in the game.” Chase gives the crew chief a glance.

“We’re family. You don’t ever give up on family. These guys are going to be willing to do whatever it takes until we’re celebrating in victory lane. One thing – when we finally do win, it’s going to be a long night.” Alan chuckles but knew that’d be the truth.

“Do you think we could put one of Clint Bowyer’s parties to shame?” Chase laughs, shaking his head no.

“He’s certainly special…..”

Friday, June 1  – Pocono Raceway

Fridays were normally busy days at the track with practice and media. That was no secret as that was an experience every weekend.

So why did they have to up the anty and make this weekend even crazier?

Since a good morning kiss shared in the morning, Chase and Sarina had been unable to really get a single moment together since then.

Sarina started off with truck practice, topping the charts in style. While she headed off for a debrief, Chase was in the Cup Series car, ranking 20th by the end of the session. They didn’t get any time after that as he was off to the XFINITY Series garage, showing speed with top-six rankings in both sessions. Although he had wanted to see her afterwards, that didn’t happen due to post-practice debriefs, combined with her pre-qualifying meeting.

So with the latest meeting done, Alan stood back and almost chuckled and watching his driver’s reaction. He knew the distance was getting to them both, having seen them trying to catch glances of each other. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see the latest glance on Chase’s face as he watched her hurry through the garage to pit road for qualifying.

“I have one single question – what are you going to do next weekend?” Alan says as he walks over, snapping Chase out of her daze. “Don’t try to cover your ass up, either. You were checking her out.”

“Is there a real problem with that, though?” Chase questions as he glances back at the crew chief, before returning his eyes forward. That didn’t welcome a good response, though, as she had disappeared.

“Again, what are you doing next weekend?” Chase smiles as discussions were already put in place with the way the schedule had worked out.

“She’ll be here Sunday for the race. She’s going to run the truck race, stay there for the XFINITY event, and then fly to be here for my race. We got this, Alan…” Alan just rolls his eyes as the plan actually didn’t surprise him. He was more intrigued to see what they’d do through the harshest part of the summer.

“Are you ready for the time apar-”

“We handled it last yea-”

“That was before everything that happened…” Chase turns around, facing the crew chief.

“Are you going to continue to remind me of what happened? I don’t need that, Alan. I am working my way through it slowly at my own pace. I am finding my way of dealing wi-”

“Avoi-”

“I openly told Ryan what happened last weekend. I discussed my thoughts about the upcoming trial with Sarina. Do you call that avoiding, Alan? I know it hit me hard, and I didn’t handle it right at first. But trust me when I say this – I’m fine.” Alan nods his head, accepting, but his eyes don’t leave his driver.

“Can you blame me for worrying, though?” Chase shakes his head no. “Okay. I’ll try to remember what you’re saying and listen to what you want. At the same time, reme-”

“I know where to find you if I need you.” Chase then heads off, making his way out to pit road, actually curious to see how truck qualifying was going to go.

After watching Sarina snag the pole for the truck race, Chase knew there was no time like the present to put in a good lap and keep the good fortune going. Surprising himself a little bit, they had managed to get the third round in qualifying despite questioning their lack of speed in practice. However, the final round didn’t go as strongly as hoped, qualifying 11th for Sunday.

“I’ll take it,” Chase states as Alan walks up to him on pit road.

“It’s progress,” Alan adds. “I know you want to go run and watch her, but I need to kno-”

“Loose through the tunnel turn, but now it’s tight in three. Does that help you?” Alan lets out a sigh, nodding his head.

“See, we’re totally in sync now. if only I could get the car to be in sync with us and listen to my adjustments. I knew you’d still be loose in the tunnel turn, but not as bad as before. I didn’t realize it’d affect turn three, though.” Chase smiles as he glances at the crew chief.

“That’s why you get paid the big bucks – to figure out strange places like the tricky triangle. Wave your magic wand, say your spells, and we’ll be fine for practice tomorrow.” Alan just rolls his eyes.

“Just go tell your princess to win the race and keep you in a good mood.” Chase glances down pit road as Sarina speaking with Rudy and the guys.

“She’s got a good truck, and she’s got a good team around her. I feel pretty good about our chances.”

Chase climbs the steps, taking his usual seat behind Rudy, who simply takes a glance at the watch.

“You’re getting quicker at changing,” Rudy offers as Chase takes a swig of water.

“It’s a good workout run from the garage,” Chase replies out of breath as Rudy laughs.

“If you need the medics, I can’t help you there. I got a job to do.” Chase just rolls his eyes, but gets comfy as he knew they were in for a fun day.

The race started off strongly as starting from the pole, Sarina ran up front in the early stages, leading laps, before fading back a little. The team still felt confident about their chances, though, and knew a couple adjustments they’d be right back up there.

However, a trip down pit road sent their day on a bit of derail, courtesy of an uncontrolled tire penalty. Restarting form the tail of the field after a series of eye rolls from both crew chief and fiancé, Sarina was able to make her way back forward, returning back to the top-10. The progress continued, as she kept moving forward with a couple more passes.

It appeared as though a top-five finish was within distance until under a late caution, they heard the dreaded words “tire going down,” sending her down pit road with an unscheduled pit stop. Once again starting from the tail of the field again, she would drive her way back up to 10th by the checkered.

The disappointment was easy to see on the faces of everybody post-race standing on pit road, knowing what the truck had been capable of and feeling they should’ve been celebrating a win instead. However, Sarina was also able to put the day in perspective, proud of the strength that they showed with the adversity thrown their way.

“When we’re in the thick of the title battle and putting together days like these rather than 20s and 30s, we’ll be thankful,” she commented. “We can grow from this.”

“Is this the same crazy girl that showed up at my doorstep?” Kyle had questioned upon her revelation, earning a smile of pride from both Chase and Rudy. It was great to see her growing into a smart mature driver.

“I still have that fire Mr. Busch…” He just smiles back in return, glancing over at Chase.

“Oh I know you do, but I can see that someone has been a good influence on you.” She then glances over at Chase with a smile of her own.

“I thank whoever I can for him every day.” She then wraps an arm around him, kissing his lips. “I don’t even think he realizes what he did for me.”

“You’ve also helped me grow just as much, too,” Chase replies, keeping her held close.

“So when am I getting to invited to the royal wedding?” Rudy questions as the pair just glance between each other. “Oh no, don’t tell me you already have a date…” They then chuckle together.

“No plans yet – except it’ll be in the winter due to our crazy schedules,” Sarina reveals as neither could argue with that.

She wanted to suggest doing the wedding in Colorado since they loved to spend every winter there at the cabin, but knew that was still up for discussion – among other things. But for her, the simple thought that she was saying the word wedding and ready to walk down the aisle one day was enough to show how much things had changed.

Saturday, June 2  – Pocono Raceway

Sarina walks into the living room, placing a hand on each of his shoulders, rubbing them.

“Stay relaxed, stay focused, and don’t drive yourself insane with pressure,” she starts. “You got a busy day ahead of you, but don’t let yourself get too wrapped up. Oh, and remember to drink, drink, drink, and did I mention drink? It’s killer hot. I don’t need you passing out on me.” He then glances back over his shoulder at her.

“Aren’t I normally the one taking care of you?” He questions and she nods her head in return.

“It’s time that I pay you the favor in return. Besides, I care about you….” She then twirls her fingers in the ringlets at the end of the strands of hair, before reaching around, brushing her lips lightly across his.

“If this is caring for me and taking care of me, I’m all for it….” She then smiles in response as she straddles herself on his lap, arms backed around as she resumed playing with the curls.

“Well, I could help take care of you by helping remove these pesky clothes that you don’t need so you can get that sexy ass firesuit on.” He then wraps his arms around her, holding her in place on his lap.

“That’d be a good idea, actually….” He then brings his lips to her, as she runs her hands underneath the edge of his shirt. “Just can’t be too long. I can’t be late….”

“Don’t worry….” She then slips his shirt off, before returning the fingers to his hair, as she kisses his bare shoulder. It was to her own personal satisfaction that the mark Alison had left on him was pretty much gone now.

“Are you sure? You seem distracted by my hair…” She just laughs.

“The curls are fun….” He then stands up, keeping her held against him, carrying her from the couch to the bedsroom, laying them down together.

“Then I guess I need to keep you on-track…” He then brushes his lips slowly over her shoulder, before making his way down her body.

“Clyde….” She then reaches down for his shorts, with his hand landing on top.

“Patience…” She wanted to follow his request, but his lips across her body created that need for an immediate release.

“I…can’t….” She then lets a moan escape her lips. “Time. We don’t have much time…” He then glances back up into her eyes.

“I got enough time for you, don’t worry….”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 77: North Carolina Education Lottery 200

Friday May 18, 2018 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Chase makes his way up onto the pit box, giving Rudy Fugle a quick nod before taking his usual seat. Taking a deep breath, it was going to be a fun night under the lights.

The race started off strong for Sarina as he was ran second until Lap 15, before passing Johnny Sauter for the lead. It looked as though a stage win was in sight, when the caution flew with nine laps to go. Rudy made the call to bring her down pit road, where they’d come off strong in the running order.

“Speeding,” Rudy tells her. “Coming onto pit road. Tail of the longest line.” Chase could only let out a sigh as he watches her fall back down the running order to 22nd.

“We got a strong truck and there’s still a lot of laps tonight,” Sarina comments over the radio, surprising Chase as he half-expected her to be frustrated.

Once the green flag was back out, she made some moves, working her way up to 14th by the time the stage was finished. She was also able to gain ground under caution, with four trucks pitting, bumping her up to 10th to start stage two.

Once again, she showed more speed, working her way up to seventh mid-way through the second stage. However, it appeared the handling of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra was a little off, as she’d fade back to 10th by the checkered flag. Once again, Rudy brought her down pit road, giving her four tires, sending her back out to restart fourth.

The speed was back after the restart as the progress continued, with her battling Brett Moffitt for second when the caution came out with 56 laps to go for another truck going around. As per the other cautions, Rudy had her back on pit road for tires, set to restart seventh. She didn’t gain much ground this time on the restart, but another caution with 48 laps to go and more trucks pitting bumped her up to fourth. She was able to get a good restart, moving up to second before the next yellow flag with 22 laps to go.

With Kyle Busch on her back bumper for the next restart, Chase knew it was bound to be good and felt hopeful about her chances at possibly going back-to-back. However, Kyle got going before she did, getting into the back of her truck, sending her sideways, but she managed to hang on. However, it’d drop her back to 10th in the process.

“Lovely….” was all Chase could say as another caution came out with 15 laps to go. He really didn’t want to be around to hear what she said post-race as he knew she’d probably be fuming right now about Kyle.

The final restart saw her struggle a little, but she managed to gain some ground, crossing the finish line in eighth. As per usual, Chase and Rudy both made their way off the pit box together and were set to go see her. Chase felt a little nervous as they made their way over, not sure what her reaction would be.

“Where is he?” She immediately questions, and they both knew that she was referring to Kyle.

“He is in the media center,” Chase states, having seen him walk off in his own frustrated mode with his PR rep.

“Great. I’ll go wait for him…” Sarina goes to head that direction, when Chase puts his arm out stopping her. “Excuse me?”

“Maybe you should hold off talking to Kyle…” She then looks over at him surprised.

“We’re seriously going to do this again, are we? I mean, I thought you would’ve figured it out last year when you tried to stop me from talking to Chri-”

“I let you both talk eventually, remember? I made you wait until you were both away from everybody else and then I didn’t stand in the way as you basically went off on him. That’s all I’m doing here. Besides, Kyle is a little frustrated himself right now.” She then chuckles with a slight eye roll.

“That’s great. Ask me if I care, Chase?” Chase lets out a sigh as Rudy crosses his arms.

“The pit crew let him down twice tonight,” he starts. “Two penalties for being over the wall too soon put him back twice. I know you don’t have sympathy nor probably give a damn right now, but that’s why he’s overly frustrated. That’s probably why maybe he went a little early and got into you there. Chase just wants to save you from doing something stupid.” She then glances back at Rudy.

“So I’m just supposed to be the good employee and let my boss control my life? That sounds great, Rudy.” She then walks away from the pair of them as Chase lets out a sigh, following her. “You aren’t going to stop me, Chase…”

“I’m not trying to stop you, remember?” Chase questions before reaching out and grabbing her arm firmly. “Just please let’s save this and do it back in the motorcoach lot, just like you did with Christopher.” She then stops, letting out a sigh as she glances back. It was almost getting to be too much energy fighting him, and as long as she saw Kyle, what else mattered?

“Fine…” She agrees as they then turn and head the other direction, the frustration still stemming on her.

“Besides, I do have a question for you…” She rolls her eyes right away. “You spun the tires, right? Before Kyle even touched you, you spun the tir-”

“What are you getting at, Elliott?” He didn’t appreciate the tone, but that wasn’t going to stop him from going forward here.

“If you don’t spin the tires, he doesn’t touch your bumper, right?” She just laughs.

“You sound like Rudy….”

“Maybe he was just trying to help you get going, and didn’t realize that your bumpers weren’t lined up. We’ve seen that before.” He then reaches out and places a hand on her shoulder. “Think about rationally….” She then stops, taking a deep breath.

“Okay, so maybe you’re right. Maybe I am wrong to be upset with him. That just leaves me to be upset with myself. Great…” He then glances down, knowing that the situation had just gotten worse – even if Kyle was off the hook.

“You made a mistake. It happens. Live and move on. Learn what you did wrong from that restart so you never do it again. But do not beat yourself up because you drove a great race tonight, and you came out of there with a top-10.” He then wraps his arm around her shoulder. “Besides, I can’t let you leave in the morning if you’re upset.”

“Part of me still doesn’t want to go. Part of me wants to be here wit-”

“I’ll be fine, Sarina. Go and learn what you can about that place. Maybe even bring home a trophy.” She then smiles, giving him a small kiss in return.

“That’s the plan, right?”

Saturday May 19, 2018 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Chase climbs out of the car and makes his way over to his teammates, knowing that there’d be a good discussion forth coming. It was the first time practicing the new package fully, and he had to say that it was different and certainly interesting. For the record, the practice had gone solidly too, as he felt pretty good about the car and ended up 10th on the charts.

“I feel if you can get that run off the corner, then you can make something work,” Alex Bowman shares with the group as Jimmie nods his head in return.

“But can you make it work so you actually clear the guy?” Jimmie wonders. “I almost felt stuck there at times.”

“The runs don’t come without you focusing perfectly on that timing. Like, you need to be precise or else you’re screwed big time.”

The teammates continue talking, as Chase listens on, not really having anything to add at this point. If he was being honest, Sarina being away was actually starting to bother him as he wanted her to lean on there right now. instead, he was stuck trying to find some way to get updates from Canada as there was not really the best of coverage for what was happening.

“Earth to Chase!” Chase hears, snapping him out of his thoughts as he looks up at Jimmie. “Dude, are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Chase replies, almost instinctively as he grabs his phone, hopeful for an update. He was glad that Sarina had sent one, noting that they’d practiced in the heavy fog which was certainly a new learning experience, and qualifying had been cancelled, setting her up to start 13th tomorrow. She then noted that they’d run another practice later on that day.

“He’s just missing his girl,” William comments before walking away as Jimmie watches him closely.

“Is he right?” Jimmie wonders and Chase nods his head. “I thought you’d be used to this with all the separate schedule stuff that you guys deal with.”

“It doesn’t mean that it’s always easy, right?” Chase offers and Jimmie could understand that. However, he was still a little caught off-guard by Chase’s behavior.

“I know what you mean as some weekends, I wish Chandra would bring the kids when she doesn’t. But really, are you sure everything is okay? I mean, I made mention of a bit of a joke last week and you like clamped up immediately. Then your deal with Ricky – which I can’t totally get mad at you for, and now this? Remember I always said that I’m here if you nee-”

“I’m fine, Jimmie, really.” Chase could see the sympathy in Jimmie’s eyes as everybody knew that his behavior was probably somehow connected to the mess with Alison. However, the details weren’t there and Chase was determined to keep things that way. “I have some things on my mind, but I’m fine. I’ll work them out.”

“Well, you know I’m here to talk if you need to.” Chase nods his head once again. “And for the record, I don’t know what all Alison did to you and Sarina, but don’t let that bother you. You’re strong, and nothing that she did or said matters.” Jimmie then walks away as Chase leans back against the pit box.

“If only you knew, Jimmie….” He then lets out a sigh, before grabbing his phone and Gatorade and heading off. It was only a matter of time before they’d be starting the night’s festivities, and Chase was thankful for that distraction.

After finishing the practice session seventh on the board, Sarina checked into her hotel room, getting comfortable on the bed as she opened the box.

“All-Star Race and Chicken Wings – perfect combination right?” She questions to herself as she glances over at the small stuffed animal sitting on the bed.

She smiles as she knew it’d be a good call to bring Hootie with her as it gave her some connection back to Chase. of course, if she was really looking for something, she just needed to glance at the ring on her finger.

Right from the drop of the green flag, she had to admit that she was proud of the package NASCAR had put together for all-star race in seeing the racing. It made her wish she was there, knowing that it was going to be a great show by the racing already.

“That’s it Alex!” She let out in watching Alex Bowman winning the first stage of the Monster Energy Open to qualify for the main event. Now Chase and William needed to do the same.

“So close….” She lets out after the completion of the second stage in watching Chase finish second to Daniel. She wanted to be happy for Daniel in being her Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, but she honestly wished more than anything that Chase would’ve won instead.

“Are you freaking kidding me?” She could only say after the third and final stage. He had led laps and looked like he was going to win it, until A.J. Allmendinger pulled the move out of nowhere with a jump from fourth to first in the last two laps to win instead.

Taking a deep breath, she wanted to believe in the fan vote. After all, it was clear that everybody liked her boyfriend just as much as her. However, she wondered just what would happen as she saw the campaigns put together by Darrell Wallace and Matt DiBenedetto.

The instant sigh of relief came in watching them announce Chase as the fan vote winner, including a fist pump in the air. It wasn’t how they necessarily wanted to get into the big show, but he was in the show and that’s all that mattered.

After washing up, and getting comfortable in her pajamas, she curls up on the bed with Hootie, ready to take in the all-star race that night.

Starting back in 21st, she was ready to watch him carefully make his way through the field.

“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy…” was all that slipped out of her mouth as she watched him barely getting by Kurt Busch when he went for his spin, backing into the wall barely.

However, she couldn’t complain by the end of the stage as he had finished seventh. The happiness didn’t last, though, as it turned to anger and a bit of confusion in watching him miss his stall getting onto pit road, set to restart at the back of the field once again.

“He’s just keeping it interesting,” she tried to tell herself.

Through the back half of the event, it was all smiles as he put on a show, working his way forward, contending for spots, en route to a fifth-place finish. It wasn’t the million dollars, but it was great momentum heading into the Coke 600 next week.

Sunday May 20, 2018

Chase watches her walk over to the car, climbing in the passenger seat. It had been difficult to get updates on her Pinty’s Series event, but she had done well, running up front throughout the event, and finishing third. Not too shabby for a learning experience weekend.

“I missed you,” she tells him, leaning over the center console to kiss his lips.

“I missed you too,” he replies, deepening the kiss immediately as he grabs her hand with his own. “I couldn’t sleep last night without you. Nice job today, though.”

“The only reason I slept was because of Hootie….” He had to chuckle as he saw the owl sticking out of her sweater pocket. “But I was right. I should’ve stayed and took care of yo-”

“I’m fine. We have tonight to make up for that…” She then puts her seatbelt on right away, with a wink at him.

“The sooner we get home…..”

“….the sooner we can cuddle.” He then puts the car in gear, heading out of the airport parking lot, thankful that it was a short drive home.

Wednesday May 23, 2018

“This is the life,” Sarina comments as she hits on the edge of the boat, enjoying the sunshine.

“I’m not complaining,” Chase says as he keeps his eyes locked on her.

“Of course you wouldn’t.” She just glances back at him, giving him a wink, before looking back forward. “Can we spend every day on the lake?”

“Sure.” He then makes his way over, sitting down beside her. “As long as you promise to wear that every time.” She smiles as it was obvious the bikini fit every single curve perfectly.

“As long as you promise to leave your hair like that…” She then reaches over, playing with the ringlets once again. “So you have the Hooters Pageant this weekend….”

“Don’t worry. I promise you that you’re the only girl that I’m totally staring at in total awe of.” Her heart fluttered in response, but the assurance wasn’t needed.

“You don’t need to tell me, Clyde. I know that already….” She then leans in and lightly kisses his lips. “But that’s just a reminder of how much I know.”

“A reminder, huh? Maybe I need another one…” She then leans in for another kiss, as he wraps his arm around her, keeping her held tightly against him.

“Chase….” He then looks into her blue eyes, feeling lost in them immediately.

“Sarina….” He goes in for another kiss, as she places her hand against his bare chest.

“Are you sure you’re ready?” He knew why she was doing this, and almost felt annoyed immediately.

“Is that going to be your question every time I go to kiss you, or make love with you?” She knew she hit a nerve, but it was better this way than to have regrets later.

“I just don’t want you doing something that you don’t want to do…” He then keeps his eyes locked on hers, as their fingers intertwine together.

“There’s nobody else I would want to be with. There’s nobody else that I’d want to do this with. There’s nowhere else that I would want to be. I want this, with you, right now, full heartedly. Yes, she hurt me and yes, I still can’t bear the thought sometimes, but I know I want you fully right now.” She then brings herself right close, breathing lightly on his neck.

“Then what are you waiting for?” He feels every temptation grow immediately as he stands up, picking her up in his arms, carrying her back through the boat till they were underneath the cover, laying her back on the small couch.

“I love you…” He then brings himself down, running his lips across hers, moving his body against hers as their lips fight for control.

“Clyde…” She then reaches around, running her hands along the waistband of his swim trunks, hand slowly going in underneath.

“I’ve missed this so much…” He then reaches around, slowly undoing the top of her bikini.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 74: 37 Kind Days 250

Friday, May 12 – Kansas Speedway

Chase stretches as he lets out a little sigh, glancing at the clock.

“Shit!” He lets out immediately, flinging the blankets off.

“Chas-” Sarina starts as she glances into the bedsroom.

“Did you see what time it is?” She nods her head as she walks over to him.

“Did you check the weather right now? It rained all morning so the track is soaked, and there’s lightening in the area. You know what that means?” He instantly relaxes as he sits down on the edge of the bed. He had been worried that he had missed the beginning of truck practice, which would certainly make him late then for getting to his pre-practice meeting with Alan. “Besides, you don’t have practice until 12-”

“I want to be there to support you….” She then smiles a little as she hovers over him, taking his hand into her own.

“I appreciate that, Chase, I really do. It means the world to me how much you care. But, you need to take care of yourself. That includes sleeping when you can because right now…..” He nods his head, knowing exactly where she was going with that comment.

It was no secret that he hadn’t been able to sleep well the past week as his head was filled with nightmares of Alison. He’d wait up in the middle of the night sometimes in a cold sweat, sometimes sick to his stomach, or sometimes just wake up, get comfy and go back to sleep once again.

“Alan kno-” She goes to continue, catching his attention.

“So you told Alan?” He interrupts, and she shakes her head no immediately. she had thought about it, but he texted her first.

“He realized that you seemed more tired than normal so he asked me before I could say something. Chase, it’s only because he cares and knows the truth ,and the fact that I want to help you and care about you, that I openly told him. So he made me assure him that if you were sleeping in, to let you do so as missing a bit of a pre-practice meeting was fine.” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances down at the floor. This was exactly what he didn’t want right now.

“If we’re avoiding discussions due to whatever reason, are we going to get better? Nope, and we need to be performing bet-”

“You’re putting too much press-”

“Sarina, we’re not even running regularly in the top-five, or challenging for wins. That’s not putting too much pressure on myself; that’s admitting that we’re behind and need to work on our shit. If I was driving myself insane about that, I’d be up a wall in thought about it – but I’m not, am I?” She shakes her head no, slowly. “Besides, if I start coming late to meetings, the guys are going to ask ques-”

“They know something happened with Alis-”

“They don’t know the exact details, and I’d like to keep it that way – please.” He then takes a shaky deep breath as he glances down at their hands locked together. “I can barely talk to you about it. I can barely even bring myself to think about it rationally. It’s enough that Alan knows, Jordan knows, my parents, Ryan, Kyle, Sa-”

“I hope you don’t mind me talking to Sam abou-”

“It’s okay, I understand that you need an outlet and I trust that Sam won’t say anything. I just don’t want more people to know, please…” Sarina nods her head, accepting.

“For what it’s worth, Chase, if it did get out there, it wouldn’t change how people thought about you. Actually, they may give you more benefit of the doubt in understanding what you’ve been through and seeing how strong you are.” She then kisses his cheek lightly. “I love you, and I believe in you – always. You’re going to figure this out, off and on the track for that matter because you damn well need to win a race this year.”

“I love you, too.” He then slowly gets up and heads off to the shower as she lets out a sigh, reminding herself of the advice from Samantha. She just needed to be patient.

Sarina climbs up on top of the NAPA hauler, giving a quick smile to Alan and Josh, before grabbing her headset and taking her usual spot watching. She had just gotten down her own practice, and couldn’t complain. The No. 18 truck had a ton of speed in it, and was handling great – even if she had ended up eighth on the chart, behind the boss for that matter.

She just hoped the good vibes carried over to Chase, knowing that having a good solid weekend would help everything overall. It’d put him a good mood and ease his performance concerns, maybe allowing him to properly address everything else going on – or at least what they could for now.

The thought of having to wait until July for the paternity test results from Alison was certainly going to eat at her. She wanted to believe what Chase said to her, and she so badly wanted to believe everything Alan had expressed to her. However, there was a funny small itch in the back of her mind that wondered if it was all a lie. What if Alison was pregnant? What if Chase had tried to forget that moment with Alison for obvious reasons? What if that’s why he was having the nightmares?

She then lets out a sigh, knowing that she couldn’t let that consume her mind. She had a race to focus on later on that night, and being all caught up in her emotions would not do any of them well.

She was intrigued in listening to Chase’s comments on the radio, from complaining about the car being edgy in the corners to start the session, to actually going tight through the middle of the session. However, she couldn’t deny the smile on her face when he made the comment the car was the best it had been at the end – even being ranked 12th on the speed chart. Fingers crossed, and maybe a couple more adjustments and Alan would have it perfect.

She then climbs down the steps carefully, before fixing her firesuit and pulling her hair back up in a neat ponytail.

“Do you have time to come see him?” Josh Kirk wondered as he took the headset from her and she shakes her head no.

“Tight schedule this weekend has me on track shortly,” she offered before heading in the opposite direction.

“Good luck!” Josh then headed in the garage, ready for the debrief to come with Alan and Chase.

“So for winning the pole at Kansas Speedway, we have a special gift for you….” The announcer states as Sarina glances at him surprised.

It had been a great qualifying session as for the second week in a row, she had won the pole for the truck race. Now she just needed to turn that into a successful finish and everything would be right in the world. She could never make up for last week’s disappointment totally, but this would be a good start.

“What do you think?” The announcer says as they walk over to victory lane where a little pedal car sat.

“It’s….amazing….” She lets out as she takes a careful deep breath. She wasn’t about to lie that the first thought that came to her mind was watching a child of her own ride around the house one day. Of course, that brought the reminder that she couldn’t….

“Are you okay?” Rudy asks, watching her hand immediately go to her stomach.

“Yeah.” She takes a deep breath, clearing the thoughts of her head immediately as he gives her a pat on the shoulder. “I’m still not totally come to grips with it, you know?”

“Have you thought about that second opinion?” She nods her head, remembering the discussion with Chase. She had followed that up with a call to Samantha to see if she could help put that in order with her contacts.

“Is there a problem?” The announcer asks and Sarina shakes her head no.

“No, not at all,” she answers as she walks over to where the pedal car sat. “It’s actually amazing, like I said. Really adorable, if I might add. Thank you….” She then sits on it. “I could get used to this….”

“Now, now, there’s no cruising around KBM on that thing,” Rudy comments, causing her to chuckle. “I don’t want to be telling Kyle that you can’t drive the truck because you fell off a pedal car.”

“Ah come on Rudy, I bet you’d look adorable instead….” He then walks away immediately as she laughs a little harder. “It’s actually pretty comfy….”

She then takes a couple photos of her sitting on it for the various photographers.

“Alright, see ya….” She then says, taking off on it as quick as her legs would let her, causing some more chuckles from the team.

“Oh boy….” Rudy says as he just rolls his eyes, imaging the worse immediately.

She then makes her way down pit road, earning strange glances and laughs along the way as she tries to get some speed going down the hill by lifting her legs up. She makes her way to a certain No. 9 pit, pulling up and purposely bumping Chase in the back of legs.

“What the hell?!?” Chase lets out as he spins around immediately. It wasn’t long before he was laughing, too. “I heard you won the pole….”

“What do you think of my stylish wheels?” She questions as he just smiles.

“They’re perfect for you….” She then smiles. “I’m surprised Rudy actually let you ride that out of victory lane.”

“He’s too slow for me now….” He laughs once again as he kneels down, kissing her lips.

“Try to not get into any trouble. I love you…” She then smiles back in response.

“I love you, too. Go win yourself one so we can race each other.” He then chuckles as he stands back up.

“Do you got a bottle of NOS that I can sneak in the car to catch Harvick?” She shakes her head no with a slight laugh.

“Got a bottle I can stick on this so I can go faster?” He then looks at her full of surprise, as she chuckles again before turning around and heading back up pit road.

“She’s one of a kind,” Alan muses as he watches her cruise away on her little wheels.

“I wouldn’t change a single thing, though,” Chase offers with a smile as he snaps a quick photo on his phone. “Alright, let’s see what the hot rod has today….”

With qualifying complete, Chase was left feeling pretty satisfied. It hadn’t gone as well as hoped, but he couldn’t complain with 17th based on the speed shown in practice, and the fact his first run in the second round had been screwed by Kyle Larson’s spin ahead of him. They could work their way to the front from there tomorrow night.

After getting changed out of his suit, he stood with her on pit road, giving her a quick kiss before she climbed in the truck set for the night. He then made his way to the No. 18 pit box, taking his familiar seat up behind Rudy. It almost felt weird to not having Kyle sitting up there beside him tonight.

The race started off solidly, as while Matt Crafton passed her initially on the start of the race, she passed him back on Lap 5, and led the rest of the way in the opening stage.

“What the hell?” He questions as they head down pit road, with Kyle practically pushing Sarina down the length of pit road until he reached his pit box. Chase had to chuckle a little in response, but had no complaints in watching her come off pit road first.

There was also no complaints in watching her dominate the second stage, leading all of the laps once again. It didn’t even bother him much when she came off pit road in second behind Justin Hayley – who elected for two tires rather than four. He knew that Hayley would fall back immediately, and that happened as Sarina got by him on the restart, taking the lead back.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly as the laps continued to tick down, opening the window for the green flag pit stops to close out the race. It caught Chase a little off-guard when Rudy elected to bring Sarina down first amongst the leaders, putting four tires on the truck. That turned into nerves when he watched Stewart Friesen and Kyle pit in the next couple of laps, electing for two tires each.

“Give me four mister feel-goods any day and I’ll be just fine,” Rudy comments, seeing the nerves on Chase’s face as he catches the driver’s attention. “Trust me – she’ll be fine….”

Chase wanted to believe his words, but felt every nerve say otherwise in seeing the gap that was now between Sarina and them. However, as Rudy predicted, she was able to quickly close the gap, passing them both with ease. Of course, that didn’t put her in the lead yet – as both Myatt Snider and Austin Hill were trying to play the fuel game.

“Come on Sarina,” he says quietly, leg beginning to tap nervously on the pit box as he watched the laps count further to the end. Those nerves turned into excited nerves as he watched her catch them both, putting the No. 18 truck into the lead with five laps to go.

Sarina was then able to lead the rest of the way, picking up the victory.

“Hell yeah!” She lets out immediately on the radio. “Way to go guys! Thank you for a great truck! Thank you for a great job well done, Rudy and Tony! Way to go everybody! Great way to come back after last week! Thank you, thank you!”

“Way to go, Sarina!” Rudy says on the radio, before slowly pulling the headset off, and glancing over at Chase with a smile. “What did I say?”

“I see why Kyle likes you now,” Chase comments, giving him a high-five. “Nice job tonight. Congrats.”

Chase watched on with pride as she did a burn-out on the frontstretch, before making his way to victory lane. It didn’t take her long to get there, and get out, standing up on the back of the truck. After posing the photographers, she turns around and leaps down into his arms, kissing his lips immediately.

“Way to go!” He tells her as she just smiles back in return. “Way to go!”

“Thank you for what you said last week, thank you,” she replies, before letting him go.

She then goes over to the interview with TV and radio as Chase feels a slight tug on his pant leg.

“Hey Brexton!” He says, before scooping him up in his arms. “Where’s mommy?”

“Trying to keep up with that monkey,” he hears Samantha say as she makes her way over. “Have you ever tried running in high heels?” He shakes his head no. “Don’t, because it’s impossible.” He then laughs. “He normally only gets excited when Kyle wins, but as soon as he heard that she won – he was like immediately wanting to be in victory lane.”

“He’s always welcome in victory lane with us, right bud?” Brexton nods his head back in return.

“Sarina won!” He lets out, catching her attention as she finishes up the second interview. “Yay!” Sarina smiles back in response as Brexton leaps out of Chase’s arms into Sarina’s.

For the rest of the night, Brexton joined the group right in the middle of the photos, enjoying throwing confetti in the air with the crew members. He was even extra happy when Rudy let him help soak both Sarina and Chase in champagne.

“He admires you both so much,” Samantha starts as she stands back with Chase and Brexton as Sarina does her solo photos later on. “I couldn’t believe his smile when she won.”

“It probably didn’t match mine,” he comments, causing Samantha to smile. “Listen, you’re tired and I know you want to get back to Kyle. Go on, and I’ll keep him for the night.” Samantha then glances over at Chase surprised.

“Seriously?” He nods his head in response. “Are you sure that’s okay with Sarina?”

“What’s up?” Sarina questions as she walks over, having finished her last photo of the night.

“Chase offered to watch Brexton tonight,” Samantha states and Sarina glances between them both surprised. However, a single glance into Chase’s eyes and she didn’t need to say another word.

“Yeah, it’s fine. I don’t mind spending time with him anytime.”

With Sarina still having to do media center post-race availability, as well as some other one-on-one interviews, Chase took Brexton back to the motorcoach with him as he could tell the little man was tired.

“Car!” Brexton lets out as he notices the pedal car inside the motorcoach immediately.

“That’s Sarina’s pedal car,” he tells Brexton, earning a curious glance from him. “Maybe if you ask her nicely tomorrow morning, she’ll let you drive it around outside, okay?” Brexton nods his head excitedly.

“She love me, Chasey….” Chase smiles, nodding his head in agreement.

“So you think she’s going to say yes?”

“Yes!” Chase smiles as he spins him around once, before setting him down on the couch.

“You’re probably right, but you still have to wait until tomorrow…” He then picks up the backpack that Samantha had left with him, which was supposed to include the essentials. “Let’s see what your mommy packed for you….” He then opens up the bag. “Ah, pajamas and a book. Now if you put your pajamas on quickly, maybe then I’ll read you a story.”

“Okay!” Brexton then goes to take off his pants immediately as Chase just smiles.

Once getting him changed into pajamas, Chase set him up on the couch, pulling the book out. Reading the story, he didn’t even notice that Brexton was out like a light after the second page, or the fact that Sarina had made her way into the motorcoach halfway through.

Sarina had remained quiet, taking a couple deep breathes, feeling her emotions all come back her once again.

“Hey….” Chase lets out as he notices her sitting on the other couch. “I didn’t even notice you come in.”

“It’s okay,” she replies as she stands up, grabbing a blanket and putting it over Brexton. “I didn’t want to disturb you guys.” That’s when Chase noticed the tears in her eyes.

“Are you okay?” She nods her head slowly, as he grabs her hand. “I know you’re so happy about winning tonight. I hope I didn’t ruin tha-”

“You didn’t, Chase.” She then takes a deep breath. “Small moments, like the pedal car, or seeing you with Brexton, they’re reminders of what could’ve been. It just gets my emotions going – but I’m okay. I’m handling it, slowly, just like you and what happened.”

“We also have the second opinion which may open that door.” She nods her head in agreement. “You can always talk to me, too.”

“That goes both ways, Chase. I know why you invited Brexton to come stay over tonight. You were afraid of a victory celebration and not being ready for that after….what….happened.” She could tell by the distant look in his eyes that she was right, as she reached out for his other hand. “Look, it’s okay. I knew you wouldn’t be ready. I knew it’d be too soon for that. I want you to know that I understand there’s nerves and feelings there, and I’m willing to wait until you’re ready – whenever that is. As long as we have each other, that’s all that matters.”

“Thank you…” She then lightly kisses his cheek as he pulls her close against him. “I really am proud of you. You did an absolutely amazing job tonight. From following Tony’s advice to keep the lead, to staying poised despite the crazy strategy, and being able to put last week behind you. I’m glad that everybody is seeing the talent that I saw in you.”

“I just can’t believe it sometimes that I am a truck series winn-”

“Do I need to pinch you?” She laughs, shaking her head no.

“It just seems surreal though with everything that happened.” She then glances back at the trophy sitting down on the table. “How does a small town Michigan girl who saw her life tore apart make it to here?”

“By being absolutely amazingly talented behind the wheel, and super strong…” He then places his hand against her chest. “…in here, and having the ability to fight through whatever challenge is thrown her way.” She smiles as she glances into his brown eyes.

“She also is glad to have a knight in shining armor by her side, willing to do whatever it takes for her no matter what. I’ll never take what you did for me for granted, ever. I love you, Clyde.” She then kisses his lips once again.

“I love you, too, forever and always…” They then head into the back room together, laying down and cuddling up in the bed, knowing tomorrow would be another long day.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 72: JEGS 200

Friday, May 4 – Dover International Speedway

After having finished the Cup session – ranked 14th with only four laps on the board due to the tech inspection issues, Chase had made his way back up on top of the NAPA hauler to watch truck qualifying. Even if they weren’t talking right now, he wasn’t about to not support her.

He could see immediately what she was talking about feeling comfortable in the truck as soon as she took to the high banks, watching the No. 18 go instantly to the top of the chart. He found the smile on his face widen when she was able to repeat the performance in the second round of qualifying, winning the pole.

“Way to go!” Rudy says as he gives her a high-five. “That’s how you get the job done.”

“Thanks for the great truck,” she replies with a smile locked on her face. “Now, I got to go. XFINITY practice.” The crew chief just gives him a nod in response as she makes her way through the crew, giving them high-fives along the way.

She makes her way quickly down pit road, headed for the XFINITY Series garage knowing that Eric was waiting for her. Though as she turned the corner, she wasn’t expecting to see the sight before her.

“Hey,” was all she could manage quietly as she stopped face-to-face with him.

“I just wanted to say congratulations,” he offers, flashing a small smile. “That was a great lap. You’re going to have a great truck later today….”

“It seems that Miles likes me after all.” He chuckles a little, though the chuckle instantly fades in knowing that they’d spent the previous night apart, along with most of today.

“I know you’re busy so I won’t keep you, but can we talk later, please?” She could see the pain laced in his voice, and felt her heart breaking immediately. However, her own heart was brought back to the note.

“I got to go, Chase…” She then heads off without a single word, leaving him standing there stunned.

The rest of the way to the XFINITY garage, her heart was torn between the emotions all over again from the previous night, along with the conversations that had taken place with Eric, Rudy, Alan, Kyle and Samantha. What if she was doing the wrong thing? What if they just talked it out together? What if she just put her feelings aside? What if her nerves right here were a sign of things to come?

Reaching the garage area, she takes a deep breath, shaking everything out of her mind as her eyes focus on the car sitting there before her in the garage stall. She couldn’t think about that anymore. She had a job to focus on, and thinking about her own drama would be a disservice to the team. With the truck handling the way she wanted, it was time to get the car doing the same thing.

Chase gets out of the car, glancing over at Alan with a smile, before walking over to the crew chief. Considering the way their day had started with all of the tech issues, there was no complaints about qualifying sixth.

“We can work with that on Sunday,” Alan comments and Chase nods his head as he sits down beside him.

“That was a much better balance than I had the practice run,” he offers, which causes the crew chief to smile. At least they were headed the right way in adjustments, too. “Turn 1 and 2, you have it exactly where we want it. But we need to work on turn three and four because I lost a lot of time there. I screwed up a litt-”

“Hey now, let’s not get down on that lap, okay? That was still one great lap. We’re making progress. Let’s just take solice in that, okay?” Chase nods his head. “So I have to say that you’re having quite the Friday. Sarina ran great in both XFINITY practices, you qualified well, and she has the pole for tonight. Oh, and obviously I take it you’ve heard the big news of the day about Alison.”

“Can we please not talk about her, Alan?” Alan could understand where Chase was coming from in wanting to avoid the topic, given the emotions that were still there despite the fact that they’d talked some more the night before. “I stopped Sarina earlier to congratulate her on the pole. She then told me thanks, and made a crack about Miles. I almost thought that we were getting somewhere, and then I asked to talk later, and she just walked away.”

“Remember what I said last night? You need to give her time, Chase. At least she accepted the conversation about racing, and had a bit of fun with you. That should give you hope, right?” Chase lets out a sigh.

“I just wish that we weren’t doing this at all. I love her, Alan. I want to be with her. I want to be there for her every single moment of the day. I want to be having our fun times at the track together. I want to have everything that a relationship entai-”

“That sometimes includes fights. No relationship is a fairytale, Chase. I’m sorry if your parents didn’t tell you that one.” Chase chuckles a little. “Seriously, I can see how much she loves you and cares about you via what she said to me. I can see that in how she offered the conversation. I can see that in how she was watching you qualify. She just needs space to come to grips with the ne-”

“What is there to come to grips with, though? Alison isn’t pregna-”

“As much as you keep saying it, and as much as I believe you, the possibility is there based on seeing those words on a page. Hence the feelings that she’s having. Once she comes to grips with that, along with her own infertility, I have a feeling it’ll be like nothing ever happened.” Chase glances over, feeling a bit of hope in hearing that detail.

“But how long do I have to wait for that?” Alan shrugs his shoulders. “Great…”

“In the meanwhile, can I make a suggestion for you? You’ve told me that there’s still emotions there, and you’ve told me this may change things for how you and Sarina move forward. Maybe as she comes to grips with her feelings, you address yours…” Chase knew the crew chief had good intentions with his advice, but it seemed like the steepest mountain possible.

“I’m trying, okay? It was a like the weight had been lifted off my shoulders when Jimmie told me what happened in Alison getting caught. It was a relief that I couldn’t describe. Knowing that we’re safe now, I think it’ll be easier, I hope.” Alan reaches over, placing a hand on Chase’s leg.

“I know you’re trying and I know it’s going to take time. I’m not trying to push you sooner than you’re ready. Just remember, it’ll be okay…” Chase nods his head, accepting.

Chase climbs the steps up onto the pit box, slowly taking a seat beside Kyle, as he glances over at him.

“Are you sure about this, Kyle?” He questions, having been caught off-guard by Kyle’s text looking for him.

“I’m the boss and what I say goes,” Kyle answers as Chase simply nods his head in return. “Besides, I can tell you myself that based on what she was saying to Sam, you have nothing to worry about. She still loves you a lot.” Now there was a small smile in hearing those words.

Chase settles in, set for the race, hopeful for the best of endings, and it started out that way as she led the entire first stage of the event from the pole. However, coming down pit road, there was a small hang-up on the jack, causing her to slip back to seventh for the restart.

“Lots of time here,” Kyle says as he settles in for the restart, double checking where the other KBM trucks were running, too.

“I’m surprised how calm she was on the radio when Rudy told her,” Chase offers, catching a glance from the boss.

“That’s why I put Rudy with the children as he knows how to calm them down. Besides, he says that having both cars for her this weekend, she’s been more focused than normal.” Chase could relate to that, having watched how she kept a strict schedule in making sure to get ample time with both teams.

“You know how she is about her racing – 100% heart and effort. Besides, it’s probably a good distraction…” Kyle knew by that response that it wasn’t just a distraction for Sarina, but for Chase after what had happened. But there wasn’t time to push that issue right now.

Instead, they settled in and watched as she was able to gain some ground on the restart, making her way back up to fifth by the end of the second stage. She then started off the third stage solidly, but dropped back some spots, running seventh as she fought a looseness condition with the rear of the truck.

A round of pit stops with 44 laps to go played in her favor, though, as the pit crew redeemed themselves, getting her up to third for the restart. She then put together the restart of her life, too, jumping up to second behind Johnny Sauter. She was set on catching him, slowly closing the gap, when a pair of trucks made contact before the leaders with 20 laps to go.

“Holy shit….” was all Chase managed to say as she barely snuck between them, escaping without any damage.

“The fun is just beginning,” Kyle comments with a chuckle as Chase rolls his eyes. He couldn’t help if he got nervous for her.

“Bottom does win 40% of the restarts here,” Rudy starts his pep talk for her as Kyle just sits back with a smile on his face. It was almost like the pieces were setting up right perfectly for a great day.

They all watched the battle intently on the restart, seeing her and Johnny battle side-by-side for the lead. There were nerves in watching a couple bumps back and forth, as well as excitement when she was able to gain a bit of an edge. However, it was all forgotten when Johnny got a run on the outside, and they bumped not once but twice, causing the No. 18 truck to snap around quickly, making heavy rear-end contact with the wall.

“Shit!” Kyle and Chase both let out at the same time.

“Is she okay?” Chase asks, instantly switching to worry in seeing the damage, and in-car camera.

“Yeah, she’s good,” Kyle answers as they watch her climb out of the truck, disappointed. “I can’t be mad at her. I know she tore up a truck, but she was going for the win and that’s what we racers do – we go for the win no matter what. It was just one of those racing deals where she got crossed up. Live and learn, I guess.”

“Yeah…” Chase slowly stands up, following Kyle off of the pit box as he lets out a sigh. This was obviously the worse time for a wreck of this nature to happen.

“I know you guys aren’t talking, but I wouldn’t be against you coming to see her right now – even if just for a couple of minutes. I know it’d be beneficial to you both, even if she won’t tell you that.” Chase nods his head, accepting, trying to fight off his own nerves about following that advice.

After going back and forth a little on the thought, he followed his heart and made his way to the care center, waiting for her to come out. he knew he could go in and see her, but figured the space was necessary right now. It didn’t take long for her to emerge though, immediately met with media.

His heart instantly broke as he saw how dejected she looked after the incident, and continued to break further in listening to her interview. He just shook his head – he knew he was hard on himself sometimes, but she was taking it to a whole new level.

He didn’t move at all as each of the media members asked their questions, slowly leaving one-by-one. Once the last media member had left and she was set to leave, he made his way over, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“Sarina,” he says quietly, catching a glance from her. “I know you’re upset and I know you’re disappointed in yourself. But you need to be a little easier on yourself.” She shakes her head as she looks into his brown eyes.

“Aren’t you the person that said you need to be set to rate yourself and tell yourself what you did wrong so you become better?” She questions and he nods his head.

“There’s a difference between doing that, and being so hard on yourself that you’re tearing your heart apart. That’s what you’re doing right now. Yes, you made a mistake. Yes, it sucks to tear up a truck. But you were right there, fighting for a victory, doing whatever you could to win. You had put yourself in that position. Give yourself more credit that you are – you’re an amazing driver, and you did a great job today. You’ll learn from racing that close and trust me, it’ll be a lesson that turns you into a winner one day.” She smiles a little.

“Thank you….” He pulls her close, letting her lay her head against his chest. “I can’t honestly say that I’m just going to let it go like you want me too, and certainly I’ll be disappointed for the rest of the night and maybe days to come, but thank you for your advice.”

“Just think – you have a chance to redeem yourself tomorrow. You have another great car underneath you from Eric. What better way to put this behind you than prove tomorrow how awesome you are?” She smiles, nodding her head in agreement. Considering how well the past two weeks had gone, it’d be nice to cap off her XFINITY schedule with another great run.

“The same way that you’re going to kick ass on Sunday, right?” He nods  his head back in response.

“Are you okay?” He rubs her shoulders as she lets out a long sigh. “That wasn’t no light hit, Sarina…”

“It took my breath away, I won’t lie to you. It caught me off-guard just how hard it hit when it snapped around.” He rubs her shoulders, as he looks into her eyes.

“I know we’re not talking right now, which I hate by the way, but maybe you could bend the rules for a massage and bubble bath tonight?” She glances back up into his eyes.

“You play a hard game…..” He chuckles a little. “Being away from you is the hardest thing ever, if I’m being honest. I love Samantha, I love Kyle, and I love Brexton – but nights like that aren’t the same.” She then glances back down. “Chase, I’m so sorry for how I handled that yesterd-”

“You don’t need to apologize. I get it, I really do. It caught you off-guard and you didn’t know how to react. Everything boiled over and you didn’t know what to do with those emotio-”

“I ran like I always do-”

“It’s okay, though. Sometimes we need space so we can figure out everything. I love you, I’ll always love you. If you’re willing to accept it, can you come with me back tonight?” She smiles, nodding her head yes accepting.

“Can I be honest, though?” He freezes, feeling every bit of nerve in response. “I haven’t come to full grips in what the note said, what Alison did, and how to move forward with everything. But I know being together side-by-side, holding hands, we’re stronger than we are apart. That’s why I want to be there with you so I can figure out what I need to do, what you need moving forward to help you, and what we can do together and for each other.”

“Just you being there helps me, Sarina. It makes me feel safe…” She then tightens her arms around him a little more.

“If all it takes is holding you to help you, then I’m for that…” She then backs away, taking his hand with her own, as they begin the walk through the garage area. “Now, what were you saying about a nice massage?”

“You don’t need to beg. Just promise me that you’ll always love me.” She then looks over at him.

“That’s not a problem at all, babes.” She then kisses his lips as they head out together.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 71: “That can’t be true, Rudy….”

Thursday, May 3 – Dover International Speedway

Sarina walks through the garage area having finished the first of two practices for the day. The first session had gone decently, with her ranking sixth by the time it was said and done. Feeling comfortable with the truck, she couldn’t wait for the second round.

Stopping by the KBM hauler, she grabs herself a snack and bottle of water before heading back out, knowing that it would be starting sooner than later. That’s when she freezes though, noticing an envelope sitting on the ground by the hauler.

“Rudy?” She questions, catching the attention of the crew chief. He immediately looks down at the envelope, shrugging his shoulders.

“Maybe an admirer left you a note during the practice,” he offers, and she could only roll her eyes. That was less likely, but rather something else. She couldn’t help but admit it’d be odd if it was that, though, considering Alison was typically leaving the notes for Chase.

“Or it could be the wicked witch..” She then picks up the envelope, ripping it open immediately as Rudy stands there intrigued. She pulls out the slip of paper, revealing a note.

“Well?” Sarina reads the contents, her breath catching in her throat as the note falls from her fingers to the ground.

“That can’t be true, Rudy….” Rudy was now confused as he reaches down to pick up the piece of paper, reading it himself.

“I have a present for your darling boy that he will be seeing in nine months. Isn’t it lovely?” Rudy then looks back towards Sarina. “She’s pregna-”

“She has to be bluffing, Rudy. She can’t no way be pregnant. There is no way in hell that she can be having his baby when I can’t!” Rudy gives Sarina an intrigued glance. “I found out that I can’t carry a baby full term. Happy?”

“Sarina….” He walks over, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, and pulling her close immediately. It was a surprise considering he was normally all focused on business, but he could feel his heart breaking for her right now. “I’m sorry to hear that. You know there’s options, right?” She slightly nods her head. “And have you got a second opinion?”

“I thought about doing that, maybe I will. I don’t know…” She then glances back to the piece of paper in the crew chief’s hand. “Do you know what it feels like to have a dream ripped from your hands? Now take that feeling, combined with the fact that somebody else can give that person what you can’t? She’s tormented and ruined so many things, but yet she may be able to give Chase something I can’t…”

“You said there was no way it could be tru-”

“I don’t know that for sure, though. Chase hasn’t told me everything that happened when they were alone. What if? It would explain why he’s so tore up and told me that it’d change things moving forward.” Rudy holds her a little tighter as a couple tears slide down her cheeks. “What am I supposed to do?”

“You can’t keep this to yourself. It’ll just grow tension and obviously it’s got you upset. You need to talk to Chase. You need to tell him about the note, and you need to see what he says. Maybe it’ll put your mind at ease.” She nods her head, accepting.

“But he won’t even talk about what happened…”

“Maybe if he knows how upsetting this is for you, he will tell you something.” He holds her for a little while longer, opening the bottle of water as they stand there, getting her to drink some. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m ready to go for this afternoon.” She takes a deep breath, fixing her hair a little, before heading down the garage area and back out to pit road for the second practice. “Coming, Rudy?”

“Ready to go….”

Sarina hears the door open to the hotel room, glancing towards the door and tries her best to put a smile on her face. However, there was no way that was happening considering the note that still remained on her lap.

“Hey,” Chase says as he enters, setting his bags down, flashing a smile at her. He was then surprised when she didn’t move, or flash one back in return.

“Hey,” she replies as he makes his way over, sitting down beside her. His eyes found their way to the paper, wondering what the contents were. Maybe it was just a note from post-practice.

“How did practice go?” That was something that she could smile about, even if the rest of her life was falling apart.

“Sixth in the first session, second in the final practice. Rudy has the truck handling really well. I feel good about my chances for tomorrow.” Chase couldn’t help but smile about that as he knew seeing the chemistry build between her and Rudy was progress.

“That’s great. I tried to get here as soon as I coul-”

“Chase, we need to seriously have a talk.” He freezes immediately, demeanor changing in seeing the change in hers. There were only few instances where she took this approach with him. “Alison left a note for me by my trailer during practi-”

“Please tell me you weren’t wandering about the garage alon-”

“I always had a crew member with me, but Chase, that’s beside the point. I want to focus on the note, please.” He knew the note had to be serious if she was this set and focused on it, considering she had always been telling him to not let Alison’s words bother him. “Read it….” He takes the piece of paper from her, reading the contents, letting out a sigh immediately.

“Oh man…” She could see by the look on his face that he wasn’t surprised, and that caught her off-guard as she thought he’d be shocked by Alison’s latest tactic – or truth, who knew.

“Well?” He then glances over at her. “What do you have to say in response?”

“There’s no way that she could be pregnant. Yes, she touched me all over. Yes, she…” His breath hitches as his mind immediately goes back to the images of the nights together. “She pushed herself against me, but never in the way that she could get pregnant, Sarina.”

“You don’t seem to surprised by the note…” Chase glances over, feeling guilt immediately as he remembered Alan’s advice, cursing himself.

“She left me a note at Talladega on pit roa-”

“And you didn’t tell me?!?” He takes a deep breath as he tries to keep himself calm.

“It was right before you told me that you couldn’t carry a baby full term. I didn’t want to put this in your mind when you were already upse-”

“Chase, are you saying that she’s telling the truth?” He shakes his head no, immediately. “Then why would you hide it from me? Why would you want to comfort me? If it’s not the damn truth, then hell, I’d be calling her damn ass out right away. But the fact that you hid it….”

“I swear that she isn’t pregnant with my kid, Sarina. I know what happened. I remember everything. I wish I could forget, but I remember. I deal with that pain every day. I see it over and over in my head like a movie. I would know if she went that far.” Sarina wanted to believe him and knew that they had an uncandid amount of trust considering everything, but she couldn’t help but feel a bit of doubt in her heart. “Please tell me that you believe me….”

“I don’t even know what to say. I want to believe you, Chase. I want to trust you. But I keep thinking what if?” He nods his head, accepting, as he reaches to touch her hand.

“That’s why I didn’t want to tell you until I proved for certain that she wasn’t pregnant.” She then glances over at him.

“But what if she is?” Chase just shakes his head no over and over once again.

“That’s not possi-”

“Anything is damn well possible! I mean, people have collected other people’s semen and made babies from that. What if she did that to you?” Chase shakes his head no once again.

“You have to believe me, please. I need you….” She looks into his brown eyes, seeing the heartbreak there.

“I wish I could just say what you want me to say, but I can’t…” She then slowly stands up and walks away, as his eyes follow her around the hotel room.

“Sarina?” She then goes into the bedsroom, wiping the tears that had formed on her face out of her eyes, before grabbing her bag from the floor and emerging. “Where are you going?”

“I can’t do this. I can’t look at you right now and think that maybe she, the worst person on this earth, is having your baby…” He then stands up and walks over to her.

“Sarina, please, listen to me. I can assure you that she’s not pregnant. This is what she wants. You’re giving her what she wants right now….” Sarina could feel that possibility, but she couldn’t bring herself to look into his eyes right now either.

“I just need some time, please….” She then leaves the hotel room, closing the door behind her and heading down the hall.

Feeling the emotions boiling over, he leans back against the wall, sliding down, tears falling, as he glances at his phone. He dials the only number that he could think to dial right now as he tries to convince himself that things were going to be okay.

It didn’t take long for the crew chief to get there, knocking on the door shortly after.

“Hey,” was all Alan could manage when Chase opened the door and let him into the room. “Have you heard from her?” Chase shakes his head no as he closes the door. “I texted her, by the way. I told her that she should believe you because of what you’ve told me so far. The fact that you detailed what happened and nothing adds up to what she’s saying. She appreciated my vote of confidence, but said that there was still a possibility because you could’ve left out a detai-”

“I told you everythin-” Chase starts and Alan puts his hands up.

“Hey, I believe you, okay?” Chase nods his head, accepting. “She told me that she’s with Kyle and Sam and she didn’t want to say anything else right now. Least she has someone, right? And you have me…” Chase then goes and sits back on the familiar couch.

“I just wish that she would’ve believed me, trusted me, or at least stayed here…” Alan walks over, sitting down beside his driver.

“You have to understand where she’s coming from. You both talked about becoming parents, and how much you would like to see that one day down the road. Then to find out that the dream you envisioned isn’t possible, but yet mostly every other woman in this world can do that, it crushes you. So obviously it explains her emotions being all over the place.” Chase nods his head, understanding. But it still didn’t make him feel right now.

“That’s why we need each other, Alan….” Alan could understand that, and wished it was that easy. He had also pleaded with Sarina along that point that they needed each other especially at this time with everything over the past month, but she wasn’t buying it. It was at that time he had cut off sending anymore texts for the night, not wanting to drive her too far away to not talk to him at all.

“But you have to understand where she’s coming from. She just learned that somebody else can give you something that she can’t. She can give you love, comfort, laughter, fun times – anything, except that. Now somebody else is set to give you that? I can see where she’s coming from, Chase. Besides, she knows in your heart that you’d do anything for a child, no matter who the mother is.” Chase wasn’t so certain about that, considering his own feelings at the time.

“I don’t know if I could look at the child and not think about Alison – if she was pregnant. But I don’t even want to discuss that because Alan, she is not pregnant.” Alan nods his head, accepting. He wasn’t about to argue it.

“I think if you give Sarina some time to process the news, think about what you’ve told her, and wait until calmer heads prevail for a future discussion, you guys will work it out.” Chase glances over at Alan.

“Are you sure about that? Isn’t this what Alison probably wanted?” Alan couldn’t argue against that, either.

“You guys will find your way back to each other. You always do. Just give her some space tonight, okay?” Chase lets out a sigh, nodding his head, accepting. “And if you want, I’ll stay here tonight so you’re not alone.”

“Will there ever come a day when I don’t feel like this about what happened? I can’t even mention her name without a flashback. I almost couldn’t say a word to Sarina because I was stuck in that moment, unable to breath, feeling that pain again…” Alan scoots a little closer, wrapping an arm around him.

“There will come a time, don’t you worry. It’s just going to take time to get there. You just need to face your emotions, fears one bit at a time. You’re making progress. While it may be slow and seem never ending, you’re making progress. You will find your way…”

“I accepted the deal. I told her to go forth with it. I knew what she was going to do. I knew the conseque-”

“You could’ve had known the feelings that would be associa-”

“But I accepted the deal, Alan. I brought this on mysel-”

“You were trapped, Chase. She caught you in a corner with your vulnerabilities against the wall. She knew that you would agree because she knows how much you love Sarina.” Chase glances down at the floor.

“I never should’ve agreed. I never should’ve said ye-”

“Look at me right now, Chase.” Chase looks back up at the crew chief. “It is not your fault. None of this is your fault. You’re not to blame for what Alison did to you. You’re not to blame for this whole mess right now. It is not your fault. She played you, and you’re a victim just like anybody else. Never blame yourself because it is not your fault.”

“I’m trying, but I just can’t help but think back to that night she offered the de-”

“A one-sided, shady, slap in the face deal that played to every weakness. It’s not your fault that she played you, Chase. It’s not your fault that it went on as long as it did.” Chase tried to let the crew chief’s words soak in as they sat there quietly for the rest of the night.

Alan only moved one single time when he heard his phone go off, seeing a text from Kyle. He assured him that Chase was okay and he was there with him, while sharing a bit of his side in the matter. He read the response from Kyle, smiling a little in knowing that he was there for Sarina as long as Samantha.

He knew if both sides worked together, the pair would find their way back together sooner than later.

Friday May 4, 2018 – Dover International Speedway

Even though they weren’t talking right now – despite the fact that he reached out to her by text in the morning to no response (Alan told him to give it a little bit more time), Chase couldn’t help but smile in seeing her top the first XFINITY Series practice.

Of course, his happiness was cut short in knowing the situation that they were currently stuck in not talking to each other, along with the fact that Cup practice was starting and his car was stuck in inspection. He makes his way up on top of the hauler, watching as the first couple cars head out.

“You still stuck in tech too?” Jimmie questions, catching his teammate’s attention and Chase simply nods his head back in return. “Damn….”

“Something about the splitter,” Chase comments, and Jimmie nods in agreement having heard Chad’s comments.

“NASCAR wants to crack down on them since teams are getting a little too carried away.” Chase could only roll his eyes in response. “I’m surprised you’re here, and not in the NASCAR hauler, or with police officers.” Now it was Chase’s turn to look over confused.

“What happened?” Jimmie glanced back surprised, thinking Chase would’ve learned before anyone else.

“Alison was arrested by a couple security guards after she was spotted by, I believe, a couple of Harvick’s crew guys.” Chase looked over, surprised. Why wasn’t he told? How were able to spot the person that seemed like a ghost? “She headed over down that way according to what I heard and she was wandering around like nothing. Someone thought they saw her, so they reported it. But yet they ended up finding her down at that end…”

“Really?” Chase then pulls out his phone, half-expecting to see a text. Sure enough, there was one confirming Jimmie’s news. He then forwarded it to Sarina, knowing it’d give her comfort despite not talking together. “Finally…”

“That has to make you feel good, huh?” Chase looks over, nodding his head in response.

“I can’t begin to describe how good that makes me feel actually…” Jimmie smiles a little as he glances towards the tech line. “It’s over, finally. I don’t need to worry about it anymore. I can finally focus on moving forward…”

“You know you always a friend in me, right?” Chase nods his head, accepting, before watching Jimmie head down the steps.

“Finally….” He runs his hands through his hair, letting out a sigh, feeling an instant sense of relief come over him, even combined with a couple of tears in letting it go.

Alan was right. He was making progress as he could talk about what happened to the crew chief. But there was still a long way to go. Maybe that’d come easier now…