The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 193: A Disney Engagement

Sunday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway – 1 week, 1 day old

Alan pops into the hauler, seeing Chase laying on the couch. He felt a bit of relief in knowing that he hadn’t taken off yet, given the amount of rain that was falling.

“Please tell me that you’re being careful about your decisions,” Alan lets out, almost out of cue, which catches Chase off-guard.

“Excuse me?” Chase questions, and Alan takes a deep breath as he knew there was no way around it.

“I know you want to fly back and be with Sarina and Abigail, but be careful in your decisi-”

“Why do you think I am still laying here? Why do you think I have the radar loaded on my phone? Why do you think I have texted Sarina that I may be late, or come tomorrow instead?” Alan admittedly let out an immediate sigh of relief. “I told you that I was going to be careful, and I meant that. I thought you trusted me.”

“I do.” Alan then sits on the couch. “I just also worry about you. Can you blame me?” Chase shakes his head no as he glances back through his text messages.

“I also got a phone call that Carter Williams was spotted in the Florida area. The police are checking into the person who left the tip, and what they can figure out.” Alan had to admit made him feel even more nervous about the situation. However, it also explained his driver’s location.

“Is that why you’re here and not back at the motorcoach?” Chase shakes his head no as he holds his phone up.

“I didn’t want to get comfy there if I did end up flying out tonight, hence the radar. However, it looks ugly so I might as well give it up.” Chase then sits up, looking over at Alan. “How do you handle the time away from your family?”

“It gets easier with time, in trusting them and knowing that we make the most of the time we do spend together. My kids are also older, Chase, and that helps. I remember the first couple of months, and how after some races I just wanted to get home immediately to be with them.” Chase had to smile slightly as the words did offer some comfort given the situation. “I’m sure once she’s out of the hospital, it’ll be easier for both you and Sarina to handle together.”

“It’s only been a week – a whole week, and yet it seems like things are going too slowly at times. I know we’ve gotten to be closer, but nothing will replace the first chance to hold her, and knowing that everything for sure is okay.”

“I’m sure other people have told you this, but she’s going to be fine. Maybe babies are born a couple weeks early and they turn out fine. You’d be surprised with what modern medicine can accomplish.” Chase nods his head, having heard the re-assurances every direction he looked. However, it didn’t cure those small worries that he had in the meanwhile.

Monday, February 11 – Daytona International Speedway

Although the rain had stopped, Chase was still stuck in Daytona, Florida on Monday. Between constant threat of more weather, and worries about a breach of security at the airport with Carter in town, comfort in clearance to fly up to Georgia couldn’t be found.

He had thought about making the trip out to New Smyrna to watch the short track racing, however he had to admit that it was comfy staying in cuddling with Max on the couch. So rather than heading down the road to the track, he had loaded the races that night on FansChoice.tv.

Although he tried to stay focused on the action before him, the conversation with Sarina was earning his attention. He was focused on the video feed of Abigail, seeing her little fingers wrapped up in Sarina’s hand. The pair were also conversing back and forth about updates from the doctor, the current plan moving forward if things continued according to plan, followed by how much they missed each other.

“So you’re for sure going to fly up here tomorrow?” Sarina questions and Chase nods his head.

“I have to,” he answers. “You’re due in Daytona on Wednesday for media day festivities, remember?” Sarina lets out a sigh. She knew that she could get out of those easily as everybody understood what was going on, however she wanted to stick by her words to Chase. She couldn’t expect him to drop everything and continue racing like normal if she didn’t do the same. However, that meant one more day away from her daughter.

“But you’re definitely coming up here to get me yoursel-”

“I promise you, Sarina, that I will make the trip tomorrow. I want to see Abigail for myself. It’s been three days now. I know we can’t do much, other than be near her and feel her fingers, but I miss it. I miss those little touches and being able to see her up close.” Sarina looks down at Abigail as the pair of them talk together.

“I think she misses seeing her daddy, too, if I’m being honest.” Chase wanted to believe in those words, but also knew that Sarina was projecting. Truthfully, he knew they were both missing each other just as much.

“Well you can tell her that Daddy loves her, and he can’t wait to see his girls tomorrow. I love you, Mrs. Elliott.” An immediate smile forms on Sarina’s face in hearing the name.

“I love you too, Mr. Elliott.” Chase then glances back up at the live stream from New Smyrna.

“And if it makes you feel better, Bubba Pollard is doing what he does best at New Smyrna. He set up the perfect late-race pass to snag the win by conserving his tires.”

“Are we honesty surprised, Chase? I told you that he’d be back to his familiar ways – even if that’s not his car.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtyXOhxBl-t/

A couple text messages later, and both puppies were on their leeches as the drivers headed out through the infield at Daytona. They reached the playground area, letting them both off so they could run around and play together.

“So I apologize for bringing up the engagement on Sunday,” Chase starts, catching Ryan’s attention. “I didn’t realize you hadn’t told your sisters yet.”

“You do realize what they’re both like when it comes to those things, right?” Ryan questions, and Chase nods his head as he had known Emma and Erin long enough to realize that. He also saw it firsthand as he was there when Ryan told Erin about the pregnancy. “I just didn’t want them on my ass about every small detail and everything until I did it. I also don’t know if Emma has completely come around yet.”

“I thought she was fully on-board midway through Lindsay’s pregnancy…” Ryan lets out a sigh, remembering the conversation that ensued.

“There’s no doubt that she loves Evelyn, and she can’t wait to be an aunt. I also feel that she trusts Lindsay to a degree. I just don’t think she’s on-board for the next step.” Chase wasn’t in agreement, but he was willing to entertain the idea if it made Ryan open up about the engagement plans.

“Doesn’t she realize that’s what comes next, though?” Ryan simply shrugs his shoulders. “But okay, what is your plan by the way?”

“The only reason you asked Sturgis and I to come with you is because you wanted to get the details out of me, right?” Chase wasn’t about to admit that straight out quite yet.

“There’s discussions that Carter is in the area and I didn’t want to go out by myself. It was either call you, or call Jimmie. Don’t you feel special?” Ryan wasn’t buying the act.

“I originally was going to do it on Valentine’s Day, but that’s so typical as you’d just expect it then. I don’t want to do something that everybody else wou-”

“Are you just putting it off because of cold feet, or your sister now?” Ryan shakes his head no. wishing his best friend had some patience right now. Normally, it was the other way around.

“We’re going to Walt Disney World tomorrow. I thought about it doing it then. I actually called ahead, too.” Chase actually looks over surprised, as he didn’t think Ryan would be one to fully put a plan together. “She’s my princess, my Cinderella. We’re going to go to dinner at the castle, and then desert. Part of that desert is going to be a glass slipper, which I will be set to present to her as my Cinderella. However, there will be a ring within those straps on the slipper. Do I need to say anything else?”

“That actually sounds magical, beyond anything that I thought you were capable of. I’m impressed.” Ryan didn’t know whether to appreciate, or slap him for the comment. “So you’re going to text me as soon as you know her answer, right?”

“Trust me – you and Sarina will near the top of the list.” Chase gives him a glance. “Okay, you’re at the top of my list actually. Lindsay wouldn’t want it any other way considering how close she and Sarina are, and the fact we met because of you both.”

“I still remember how you both kept putting off there being a connection and the fact you were just simple friends. However, from the first night you spent together – which would be my birthday party actually, everybody could tell there was a connection.” Ryan smiles as he remembers the dancing together, followed by going out for desert.

“I almost couldn’t believe it was happening because it felt too perfect. They say you know you have found the right person when you feel it – and it just felt too good to be true.”  Chase had to nod his head in agreement, remembering his first couple of days spent with Sarina. “And you’re flying back to Georgia tomorrow, correct?”

“That’s the plan. I have to go to the airport tomorrow afternoon as I have a pretty cool fun flying opportunity with a plane that I’ve always wanted to fly. Then after that’s done, I am taking the flight up to Georgia.”

Tuesday, February 12 – Daytona Beach International Airport – 1 week, 2 days old

“Thank you once again for the opportunity,” Chase thanks his fellow pilot that went up with him in the air.

While obviously his best way of spending the day would’ve been with his girls, he had to admit that passing up this opportunity would’ve sucked. It was only for a couple hours through the afternoon, by the height and speed they were able to reach and fun had with a couple small maneuvers in the process were worth it.

“You have my number; you know how to reach me if you want to do something again,” was the reply that he got in response which easily brought a smile to his face.

“I am going to hold you to that, actually,” Chase tells him.

He then makes his way to the hanger, sending a text message to Sarina in the process that he’d be there in a couple of hours. He also asked her what she wanted for dinner, knowing delivering her something would enable him to get his time with Abigail the quickest.

He then flipped onto twitter quick, scrolling through a couple notifications, followed by some of the various tweets that had been sent out. He then stopped and paused, bringing up one of the group shots for a closer view.

He looks over the group shot, recognizing several faces, before closing it.

He then texts Ryan Blaney, “I thought you were doing a romantic surprise for Lindsay. How is that happening now?”

Ryan hears his phone go off while standing in line for Space Mountain, looking at the text message. He then replies, “Bubba saw us going, and suggested that we join him, Ricky, Daniel and Kenzie. It would’ve been a little suspicious if I said no.”

Chase could only shake his head – for a couple different reasons as he read the response.

He then sees another text message from Ryan pop up, stating, “I pulled him and Daniel aside after lunch. We’re clear for the dinner surprise, still. Actually, Bubba is going to take photos.”

Chase couldn’t argue with that as he knew how well Darrell’s photos turned out on a regular basis. He knew those would be some great shots of the proposal for Ryan and Lindsay to savor. However, that didn’t erase one snagging feeling.

He then sent, “So where was my invite? I feel lonely…”

Ryan was honestly surprised by the response as they moved up closer to the ride, debating what to send back in response. He then finally sent, “Guess Bubba thought you’d be in Georgia. I thought you were flying out now.”

Chase looks over at the plane, knowing his pre-flight checklist had gone smoothly as always. It was finally time to go see his girls. He then sends, “Going now. Text me Disney details later, please.”

Tuesday, February 12 –Northeast Georgia Medical Center

It wasn’t a long flight back to Georgia – one hour and 30 minutes in total, with dinner delivered in a timely fashion for Sarina. Upon arrival, he took to the immediate chance to spend time with Abigail. Hand through the little holes, letting his hand hold her tiny fingers, which he almost swore he grown in length since the last time he’d seen her three days ago.

“So Ryan planned all of this himself?” Sarina questions, as she looks through a series of photos on her phone.

As promised, Chase and Sarina were the first to find out that Ryan’s proposal had been successful, with Lindsay accepting to marry him – despite tears rolling down her cheeks the entire time. It was only a little while later before a series of photos had been forwarded to them from Darrell.

“In his words, she’s his princess so she deserved a Disney Cinderella treat,” he comments, bringing an immediate look of awe to Sarina’s face. “I thought I did a great job on our proposal, but I have to admit that he’s pretty romantic.”

“The glass slipper is nice, but I wouldn’t trade the roses and the cabin for it,” Sarina replies, leaning in for a quick kiss, as she continues to scroll through the photos. “The princess comment is almost fitting for her, though, as she is a ballerina dancer at heart so she’d totally be in love with that. It’s nice to see that he gets her at that level.”

“Like they say – you should only be with the person that understands you right down to your tippy toes.” He then looks down at Abigail. “And by the way, you have the cutest little toes in the neighborhood. Oh yes, you do…”

“I’m just glad that she said yes as I remember all of her original apprehensions of moving down to North Carolina and moving forward with him. I kept assuring her that it was for the best, as there were so many reasons to do it, and that she could stay involved in dancing at a different level.” Chase nods his head, in agreement, remembering the numerous conversations. “So when are they getting married?”

“Woah now, slow down….” She then chuckles as she sits back.

“I’m serious! I know how magical it felt to marry you so I can’t imagine what she’s going to feel in having that moment with Ryan, and having Evelyn there with them.” Chase admittedly couldn’t wait to see Ryan’s reaction, either.

“I don’t think it will happen as quickly as you’re thinking it’s going to. Ryan is still nervous about what Emma thinks.” The smile immediately wipes away from Sarina’s face. There was no hiding the mix of opinions that she shared about Ryan’s sisters on a couple different occasions – from Erin’s feelings for Chase, to Emma sticking her nose in everything.

“I thought we were over that when she accepted the pregnancy, and was ready to be the best aunt possible for Evelyn. Wasn’t it supposed to be great to see the Blaney cousins in Louie and Evelyn grow up together?” Chase nods, remembering that same discussion.

“I told Ryan about that, and he said that no doubt that was the truth. However, he doesn’t feel that she’s ready for the next step.”

“What else does she thinks comes next?” Chase lets out a sigh, remembering the same words he said to Ryan. “Anyways, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that Ryan and Lindsay are happy together, and ready to raise Evelyn as a family. They’re going to do it when they’re ready, and it’s too bad if everybody isn’t on-board.”

“While I understand your perspective, I don’t see Ryan being as cut-dry as you’re being. His sisters mean the world to them and he’s going to want their approval and acceptance before the wedding.” Sarina takes a deep breath, glancing down as she lets the words sink in.

“I guess that’s something that I don’t understand, or have ever worried about with a lack of family.” Chase slowly lets go of Abigail, walking over to her, as he wraps both arms around her from behind.

“You may not have the traditional family, but you certainly have a family. You have me, Samantha, Kyle, my parents, Christopher, Morgan, Alan, Jordan…..I could go on for days, actually.” He then looks over at Abigail. “But most importantly, you have your daughter. You have Abigail, and you have me. We’re a family, and we’re never going to let you forget that. I love you, forever and always. I promised you that the day that I married you, and I am going to uphold that no matter what.”

“I love you, too, forever and always.” She then turns around in his arms, kissing his lips. “I could never ever forget that, or let you go. You both mean the world to me.”

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 192: Advance Auto Parts Clash

Sunday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway

Chase helps the crew guys push the car up the grid, before standing by the back it. He then smiles as he watches Jimmie Johnson come over to him out of the sea of teammates.

“So which one of us is going to be the pole sitter this year?” Jimmie questions as they look up at the scoreboard.

Hendrick Motorsports had swept the first round of Daytona 500 qualifying, with Alex first followed by William, Chase, and then Jimmie. While it wasn’t surprising given they had swept the past four poles for the Daytona 500, Chase was actually admittedly caught off-guard by the Hendrick Motorsports presence. It was much better than watching his teammates up in the top-five last year with him eighth.

“Well I’ve done it twice, so I am going to have to say me,” Chase answers, knowing it was the obvious answer but what else did Jimmie expect?

“Didn’t your Momma teach you how to share?” Jimmie asks, causing Chase to chuckle back in response.

“See, that’s why you haven’t won lately as you’ve been sharing too much.” Jimmie was actually taken back by the response, surprised it was now his own teammate picking on him for the lack of wins. “But really, I think the pole is mine. I have the experience of doing it, and I deserve it for Abigail.”

“Oh, so now you’re going to play on our sympathy for your baby to get your way?” Chase just gives him a wink as Jimmie shakes his head in disbelief. “See, the way I see it is that you should feel bad that I haven’t gotten any wins lately, and give me a gift.”

“Well if that was the case, shouldn’t the gift go to Bowman? He was the quickest of us four the first round, and he won the pole last year.” Jimmie shakes his head no. “Of course you’d go with Byron if we’re picking teammates as he has Chad.”

“We’ve seen Chad work his magic down here before.” A smirk forms on Chase’s face as Jimmie was making the game way too easy today.

“Right as I do recall something about rear windows.” Jimmie lets out a sigh, still shaking his head in disbelief at the span of events that season. He admittedly was surprised when the appeals board overturned the suspension for both Chad and Ron after that happened.

“Hey, that’s a better thing to be said that you got caught cheating for than a lousy piece of tape.” Chase glanced down right away, not even wanting to relieve that moment back in the summer. How could they get caught cheating with a simple piece of tape? “Seriously, though, how is Abigail?”

“She’s doing good. The doctors are happy with her progress, and feel that maybe by the end of the week we may have the chance to hold her. Could you imagine if Sarina and I won Daytona, and then got to go home and hold her? I don’t think you’d ever wipe the smile off of our faces.” Jimmie had to begin chuckling right away, but admittedly wouldn’t complain if that happened as he knew Chase and Sarina deserved every bit of happiness they desired.

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, but I am glad that she is getting to that point. Word of advice – don’t waste a single moment. They grow up quicker than you realize.” Chase knew that, hence savoring every single moment last night before flying back today for qualifying and the Clash.

“I can’t believe she’s a week old already. I don’t know what I’ll believe when we get into months, and years..” Jimmie smiles as it was happiness aura of the baby looked good on Chase.

The second round of qualifying would go just as smoothly, with Hendrick Motorsports sweeping the top-four once again. This time, it was William scoring the pole – as Jimmie predicted, ahead of Alex, Jimmie, and then Chase.

While he had hoped to be on the front row to eliminate the unpredictability of the Duels – and the chance of a wreck, he also couldn’t complain as this set him up to lead the second duel to green alongside Alex.

Now they just needed to repeat the same exact process that they did last year, both of them.

“Cool deal,” he admitted while speaking with the media afterwards. “Everybody knows qualifying down here is such a reflection upon the work over the off season and luckily, I know a lot of organizations don’t, but I feel like Hendrick Motorsports has always put a lot of effort into our speedway cars and why not? I mean, they all count and why not try for these things too. I know some people don’t like to, but we are trying to push in all areas and this is a good way to get started.”

Chase makes his way down pit road, knowing it was only a matter of time before the Clash was set to begin. Thankfully, another firesuit change session had gone smoothly as scheduled.

With Sarina back home in Georgia, Chase had already done the liberty of sharing pre-race text messages with her, just like they would do for the races they didn’t run at the same track. It was the same usual conversation they’d have on the grid if they were together, but unfortunately didn’t always give the same comfort as holding each other.

Though as he made his way to the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet, he couldn’t help but gush in seeing Ryan on pit road.

“Who knew you’d look like a natural holding a baby,” he comments as he walks up to him. “But that’s not your little girl.” Ryan smiles, nodding his head. He then glances over at Lindsay, who stood not far from him with Evelyn in her arms.

“I want to show Louie that I am going to be the best uncle ever,” Ryan replies, as Chase glances at the little face in total awe.

“I may be partial, but I have to say that Louie is the second cutest with Abigail at the top.” Ryan then gives him a look, knowing he had purposely laid it out that way in forgetting to include Evelyn.

“Could you imagine if Louie and Abigail got together?” Erin questions, earning an immediate shocked expression from Chase as Emma starts shaking her head no right away.

“Abigail isn’t allowed to date until she’s like 20, maybe 25 anyway,” Chase adds, which caused both Erin and Emma to burst out laughing. “What?”

“Ryan told is the same thing about Evelyn. We told him that Emma and me the same thing, and look what happened. Actually, Emma said that she’d never let him date ever, and well, next thing he’s a daddy.” Erin places a hand on Chase’s shoulder. “I’m sorry bud, but no matter what you do, your little girl is going to grow up and find a boy that loves her.”

“Maybe it’ll be Brexton,” Ryan comments as Chase lets out a sigh. It wasn’t the first time he had the comment with others referencing that due to Sarina’s friendship with Samantha. “Actually, I almost want Brexton to end up with Lydia. Could you see the look from Jimmie?”

“Speaking of Valentine’s Day….” Chase says quietly, earning a look immediately from Ryan. However, Chase had watched how loud he made the comment, not wanting to draw the attention of Lindsay as she chatted away with some of the crew guys.

“We don’t need to talk about it, Chase. I have it under control.” Emma and Erin then trade a glance, almost worried as to what was to come next in their lives.

“Is there something we should know, Ryan?” Emma questions, earning an immediate eye roll in response. Chase caught it, now understanding why Ryan hadn’t wanted the day mentioned.

“I want to go over some ideas with you afterwards that I had for Sarina and get your thoughts,” Chase tried to cover for what had happened, in hopes that Ryan would play around and the girls wouldn’t notice.

“Why would you go to him for love advice?” Chase glances over at Emma, glad that she was buying it.

“Because I have done it before with good results. Despite your attempts, he is a lover’s boy…” Chase then walks away, knowing that’d draw enough fun for Ryan and not wanting to put his foot in his mouth.

However, that didn’t mean he was dropping the topic as he’d be asking Ryan about it when they got some time.

Sunday, February 10 – Dawsonville, Georgia

“Is this real life?” Sarina hears, glancing over at Brittney a little confused. “Are we really watching this race together?” Sarina had to chuckle as she knew the reference right away, remembering where their first days spent together.

“Trust me – I was about to ask myself the same thing,” Sarina replies with a laugh.

“I mean, actually, I’m even surprised that I am watching.” Now it was Sarina’s turn to really look surprised. “Don’t get me wrong – I love my dad, and I love Chase, but racing isn’t my cup of tea so to speak. So I’d always only tune into the big races, or something significant like Chase’s championship night in XFINITY. Their love of flying wore off on me, but certainly not that.”

“Well, maybe we’ll make a fan out of you by the time Speedweeks is over….” Sarina then takes a deep breath, hoping her words played true as that was much better than the alternative.

“You’re nervous – but I get that because of the nature of restrictor plate racing at Daytona and Talladega. Cindy even says that she got a little more nervous at times.” Sarina slowly nods her head, surprised by the Cindy confession as she’d never saw that side of Cindy.

“I’m fine any other week, except for these two tracks. Then I am the worst bucket of nerves. I almost feel bad for Jordan when he has to watch me, so sorry in advance.” Brittney wraps an arm around her.

“It’s okay. We can handle this together.” Sarina could only chuckle in response, hoping that Chase didn’t kill her nerves completely.

“Ugh of course we’d get rain,” Sarina comments with a sigh as the caution flies for rain on the track just 10 laps into the event.

She was hoping that the race would go smoothly, and quickly, so she could get back to Abigail. It’d also mean that Chase would be home at a decent hour as he was supposed to fly home once done the event.

“So what happens now?” Brittney wonders as the cars begin to head down pit road on the TV screen before her.

“We wait,” Sarina replies as she glances over. “We wait, and we wait, and we wait. Once the rain stops, we’ll go racing. If it rains all day, we’ll race tonight. If it rains tonight, NASCAR still won’t call it early, making you sit your ass here and wait, and then run tomorrow.” Brittney chuckles at the response, as she loads the radar on her tablet.

“The good news is that the shower doesn’t look like it’ll be long…” Sarina now looks over, actually intrigued. Maybe it was helpful having Brittney there to watch the race with her for more than general nerves. “Maybe 20 minutes maximum as it’s just a small one. However, the fear is what lies behind it. There is more rain to come, some in blotches, but then a big huge blob that is yellow in parts meaning it’ll be long and a lot.”

“So in other words, we may only be able to race until the halfway point?” Brittney slowly nods her head. “Great….” That only increased her nerves as she knew weather made things crazier as her eyes focus back on the TV. “Better hope Alan and Eddie are watching that so Chase makes the move before the rain hits.”

“Shall we call and warn them?” Sarina had to chuckle, though already knew that Tom probably had the radar loaded on the computer screen on the pit box. She then watches the camera focus to the No. 9 car, seeing Alan standing by with the wedge wrench. “I thought you weren’t supposed to make adjustments to the racecar under red.”

“You aren’t supposed to normally…” Brittney then points to the screen, as the crew members turn the wedge adjustment bar.

“That’s an adjustment from what I know. So what’s the penalty since this isn’t allowed?” Sarina had to chuckle as she looks over.

“You aren’t supposed to….normally…” Brittney then freezes, catching the repetition of words.

Sunday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway

“Is he seriously doing what I think he’s doing?” Chase questions, as the crew members nod their heads.

“You said that the car was dragging a bit so he’s adjusting heights,” Tom Gray summarizes as Chase nods his head. He remembered stating those adjustments. He figured that they’d head down pit road when the event went back to caution – not make them right now under the red flag.

“NASCAR rules state that you’re not supposed to work on the car under the red flag.” Tom then smiles, having noticed the odd glances from others. Even some of their own team members had originally questioned things when Alan walked over with Josh.

“You are correct – for points races.” Chase then glances over, intrigued. “If you read the rule book closely, you will notice that you are allowed to work on the car under the red flag for a non-points event. The rule was changed a few years ago in relation more so to the All-Star race and not here. Obviously, that occurred following the 2001 All-Star event wher-”

“They allowed Jeff Gordon, and the others who wrecked to bring out their back-up cars due to the accident being for rain.” Chase then looks back towards pit road, where Alan stood by the car with the official. “Once again, he’s reading between the lines. I’m impressed.”

“Let’s just hope that everybody else feels as good about it as you do.” Chase chuckles, having noticed some of the odd glances as well.

Sunday, February 10 – Dawsonville, Georgia

As Brittney stated, it was a short while before they were back on track and the racing resumed. Not much movement in the field occurred, though, with the only real shuffling happening once the drivers pit road. Unfortunately, Chase was unable to make up as much ground as he hoped.

Also as predicted, there was more rain as another red flag was displayed.

“Woah, half about wrecked…” they hear over the radio transmission as Sarina had loaded the NASCAR.com Raceday app to listen to Chase’s audio in the background.

“That caution took way too long to come out,” Brittney summarizes, seeing on television some of the windshields from the rain.

“Welcome to NASCAR and their desperation to get the rain in,” Sarina comments. “Even Jimmie was pissed about it. Someone tweeted that he said, ‘Who the fuck is on the switch up there? It’s fucking pouring!’”

“I don’t blame his panicking at all. Glad that Chase was able to hold onto that thing.”  Sarina looks over with a pure grin.

“Chase has talent, sweetheart…” Brittney couldn’t help but agree with Sarina’s assessment.

The race would get back going once again, and unfortunately did not go as the ladies would’ve hoped. Jimmie went to make a move on Paul Menard for the lead, making contact in the process that wrecked all of the cars in the race except three. Chase, unfortunately, was one of the drivers involved. The race was then called shortly thereafter for rain, with Chase scored sixth in the final rundown.

“I like Jimmie as he’s great personality wise and he can get the job done behind the wheel any day,” Sarina starts as she sends a text message to Chase. “But let me tell you something – that boy cannot restrictor plate race to save his damn life! He has no clue on judgment of space as he always is causing wrecks on these tracks.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 166: A Little Drive

Sunday, January 6 – Mooresville, North Carolina – 26 weeks pregnant

Following the official ceremony, all of the photos taken went smoothly. Chase and Sarina got some of just them together, along with some with his parents. Sarina and Lindsay took a couple together, followed by allowing all the bridesmaids in for some photos. Of course, there were some laughs when the groomsmen got together with Chase but the photos all were turning out amazing.

Everybody gathered afterwards for dinner, easily welcoming the couple into the party.

When it came to choosing the song for their first dance, Chase had allowed Sarina to choose what she wanted to dance to – as long as it was an Eric Church song, which caused her to laugh. After listening through some of her favorites for a couple days, she landed on “I Love Your Love The Most,” which Chase easily accepted.

I love sleeping in on Saturdays
And I love college football games
I love not acting my age
And good barbecue

Yea I’m a fan of Faulkner books
And anything my mama cooks
Small mouthed bass have got me hooked on Sunday afternoons

Yes I love good cold beer
And mustard on my fries
I love a good loud Honky Tonk that rocks on Friday nights
And hell yes I love my truck but I want you to know
Honey I love your love the most

Man I love how Redman tastes
Damn I love my Nascar race
Any song sung by George Strait is country at it’s best

Yes I love good cold beer
And mustard on my fries
I love a good loud Honky Tonk that rocks on Friday nights
And hell yes I love my truck but I want you to know
Honey I love your love the most

I love

Yea I love scuffed up cowboy boots
And broken torn up jeans
My 4-wheel drive and 8 point bucks
And rocky road ice cream

And hell yes I love my dog
And Jack D in my Coke
But honey I love your love
Yea I love your love
I love your love the most

I love your love the most

Once their first dance was out of the way, the couple made their way to the head table, sitting down, ready for dinner.

“So, how does it feel to be Mrs. Elliott?” Chase asks as they were eating. She just looks over with a childish grin on her face.

“It’s feels amazing,” she answers as she reaches over and clutches his hand. “How about you? What does marriage feel like?”

“More than I could’ve dreamed, and I can’t wait to spend every day with you for the rest of my life.” He then leans in and snags a quick kiss.

“I hope you both can wait until tonight..” Ryan teases, earning a glare from Sarina as Chase gives him a small smack. “You just can’t seem to keep your hands off of each other.”

“I wouldn’t be talking much lover boy,” Chase comments as he watches Ryan and Lindsay cast a glance at each other.

“How much longer do you think until they’re married?” Sarina asks as Chase looks over at the pair, before glancing back to Sarina.

“I wouldn’t bet against them running off to a chapel while we’re in Las Vegas and doing the quickie.” She then chuckles back in response.

“I could just make sure to aim the bouquet her way tonight…” Chase nods his head in agreement.

The rest of the night went smoothly – well, except the bouquet didn’t land in Lindsay’s arms as Sarina originally intended. Instead, it was Morgan catching it, which was fitting after her recent engagement to Christopher.

The food was tasty, the company was great and everybody was having a fun time sharing drinks and dancing on the dance floor. It even surprised a bunch that Chase was dancing the night away with Sarina – well, except to her as she remembered their special trip that revealed all the hidden details of her man.

Though as the night dragged on, there was a thought that continued to linger over Chase’s mind that he just couldn’t shake. This was his wedding day. Why was he thinking about Alison on this day?

Taking a deep breath, he smiles as he sees Sarina spending time with her girls, sneaking out of the room without being noticed. Flipping his eyes around in his hand, he knew a small drive would be what he needed to clear his head.

As he headed out of Dirty Mo Acres, his mind wasn’t focused on the direction he was going, but rather just the drive itself and letting his thoughts clear themselves out. He knew once he was able to do that, a simple type of the address in the GPS would lead him back to where he began the drive.

He thought about the range of emotions that he felt – anger, betrayal, disgust, sadness, fear, and perhaps another layer of anger added on top. He thought about the relief in knowing that it was finally over, and she wouldn’t be able to do anything else.

He thought about the relief in knowing that her dream plan would never be accomplished. He thought about how strong he was in making sure to not allow her to fulfill the goals that she wanted to.

There was also getting back to the negative association thoughts, those of weakness. How come he couldn’t have ended this sooner? Why was she able to exert so much control over him with such ease? She was able to make him twist and do as she pleased so easily – it just didn’t seem fair.

Turning around a corner, he feels the truck sputter a little.

“Are you kidding me?” He questions, pulling over to the side of the road. “Of course….”

This was supposed to be a simple trip for him to clear his head and return without anybody realizing. But now, he was stuck in the middle of nowhere. Making sure that it wasn’t stalled due to running out of gas, he climbs out of the cab and lifts the hood. He glanced through a couple possibilities based on what he felt, but nothing seemed to be adding up.

Running his hands through his hair as he pulls his phone out, he knew he had no choice but to make it known that he had escaped his own wedding party. He thought about who he should call, but there was only one name that his finger wanted to click on. Maybe a little trip away could have a sweet ending after all.

“So I escaped our wedding party to clear my head a little as I had a lot of thoughts going on,” he reveals once she answers the phone. “I’m fine now, I think I’ve got to where my thoughts are straight. However, the truck stalled. Can you come pick me up?”

“What about the truck?” She asks as he lets out a sigh. Of course he couldn’t leave the truck stuck there.

“I’ll call a tow truck once you get here. Just come, please. I want to see my lovely wife.” Sarina smiles at hearing herself be called that as she glances over at the party.

“Alright, I’ll be there as soon as possible. You’ve got your phone GPS turned on, right?” She then goes into the phone locator app, seeing his dot pop up as to where he was. “I know where you are. I’ll be there soon. I love you.”

She then hangs up, taking a deep breath with another glance at the party. She then makes her way for the door, knowing that it wouldn’t take long. Everybody was lost in their own fun anyway, right?

“Where do you think you’re going leaving your own wedding party?” She hears, freezing instantly as every curse word threatened to slide out of her mouth. Reluctantly, she turned around to face Christopher.

“Chase went for a drive to clear his head,” Sarina starts, which Christopher easily understood given everything that happened. “The truck broke down. He asked if I would come meet up with him to bring him back while he called a tow truck.”

“You’re 26 weeks pregnant and you’re just supposed to go driving by yourself at night?” She then lets out an immediate sigh, hating how everyone continued to be overprotective of her. She appreciated their concern, but something had to give every once in awhile.

“I’ll be fin-”

“There’s no way that I am letting you go alone, Sarina. I’m going with you – Morgan and I actually. Maybe I can help fix his truck so he doesn’t have the call the tow.” She then lets out a sigh, knowing there was no sense in arguing as they’d be going back and forth for awhile.

“Fine…..”

Christopher follows the direction that Sarina continued to give from the backseat of his truck, while Morgan sat in the front glancing around.

“There he is!” Morgan lets out, seeing the truck in the distance with a figure standing next to it.

“Finally….” Christopher comments as he pulls up behind the truck. He instantly caught the glance of confusion on Chase’s face as he watched them pull up.

“I called Sarina and told her to just com-” Chase starts as Christopher climbs out of the truck.

“26 weeks pregnant, traveling alone down a dirt road. That sounds really safe, Chase.” Chase was about to say something in return, though bit his tongue as he couldn’t argue with Christopher’s logic.

“Good point.” Christopher walks up to the side of the truck, taking a glance underneath the hood as the girls join them. “I was driving down the road, and it just started sputtering and no, I know that I have gas Christopher. I checked everything, but there doesn’t seem to be anything that stands out.”

“That’s why you need a Toyota.” Chase gives him a ‘really’ glance in return as Christopher just chuckles. “Are you sure you want to get used to this, Sarina?”

“I think I’ll be fine Christopher,” she comments, as she wraps her arms around Chase, laying her head on his shoulder.

“Have you called the tow truck yet?” Christopher asks and Chase shakes his head no.

“Who is even open at this hour?” Chase wonders as Christopher shrugs his shoulders. He took a quick glance at his phone, seeing it was 1 in the morning.

“We should’ve told a couple of the crew guys. They may have been able to help us.”

“Since they get paid to work on cars and trucks?” It was now Christopher’s turn to offer the glance. “I know what you’re saying, so maybe I messed up everything about the phone call.”

They then hear a shuffle in the grass field along the road, glancing at each other, as they watch some figures emerge from the field. The boys immediately glance at each other, as if to offer the universal sign that they were in charge of protecting the ladies in case, before looking towards the three men.

“You’re on the wrong side of town,” one of the men speak as they walk out into the middle of the dirt road.

“Look, we didn’t mean to come out this way,” Chase starts as he points towards his truck. “I was just driving down the road and I broke down. I called my friends to help me out. If you can let me know a place that is open to tow the truck, I can easily call and get out of here.”

“It’s not that simple, boy…” That is when the second man emerges, shot gun in hand as he points it in their direction.

“Okay, let’s take it easy.” Chase then takes a deep breath. “We’re not meaning to start any trouble.” The men then smile back in response.

“Good. This is going to be very easy – as long as we get what we want.” Chase then glances over at Christopher confused, who just shrugs his shoulders back in return. “Now before you reach your damn hand in your pocket and dial 9-1-1, how about you drop that phone here missy?”

“Easy…” Christopher warns as he knows the comment was directed towards Morgan, seeing how the gun was slightly turned her way. Morgan then pulls the phone out, dropping it on the ground.

“The rest of you – drop ‘em, along with your wallets and purses,” the guy instructs. All four of them easily follow the order, figuring this was going to be one of those regular stuck in the middle of nowhere robberies where they take the money and high-tail it out of there. “Was that so hard?”

“No,” Chase comments as he watches the leader take the shot gun from the second man. It was then a furry of action in watching the two others go through the wallets, cleaning out the cash inside, before smashing each of the phones. “Look, you got what you wanted. Now, can you let us get out of your hair?”

“We’re not done yet…” Chase then glances over at Christopher slightly confused. “There’s one more thing that we want.” Chase saw the grin forming on the guy’s face, instantly taking the stand to step in front of both Morgan and Sarina.

“You’re not touching them.” The guy chuckles as he licks his lips.

“Did you really think that it was the lady that I wanted? Although, she would be a nice quick fuck right here.” Chase shakes his head once again.

“Like I said, you’re not touching them. You’ll have to go through me to do that.”

“That’s a very easy thing to do…” The guy then pops off a shot, hitting Chase directly in the shoulder.

“Fuck!” Chase screams instantly as he falls backwards, hand immediately clutching where the bullet had gone in.

“Chase?!?” Sarina says as she leans down by him.

“Now, you’re going to co-operate with me or else I’ll give him something else to scream over,” the guy states as Christopher takes a deep breath, carefully keeping Morgan guarded behind him.

“What do you want?” Christopher asks, swallowing the lump in his throat.

“Your truck. We need something to get out of here.” Christopher knew losing a chance of some way to get out there was better than another gun shot.

“The keys are in the ignition.” The other two men walk over to the truck, reaching inside and holding the keys up for their leader to see.

“See, it’s much easier when you co-operate…” The guy then runs off, hopping in the truck with his friends as they drive off out of sight and mind.

“Chase?!?” Sarina says as she kneels by him, with both Christopher and Morgan joining her.

“Keep pressure on it,” Morgan states as Christopher pushes down on where the wound was, causing Chase to let out a big scream in the process. “Now, what are we supposed to do?” Christopher glances around, seeing nothing in sight except for the cabin where the guys came from and the street lights. “We got to do something as we can’t stay here all night.”

“We’ve got to help him!” Morgan instantly wraps her arms around Sarina.

“We’re going to figure this out, right Christopher?” Morgan asks, casting a glance in Christopher’s direction as he nods his head in return.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 165: Wedding Day

Sunday, January 6 – Mooresville, North Carolina – 26 weeks pregnant

Chase takes a glance in the mirror, fixing his suit one more time as he takes a deep breath. All of the waiting since proposing to her was finally over as today was finally the day. He was about to marry the girl that had captured his heart three years ago without a chance of letting go.

“Starting to feel the wedding day nerves?” Darrell asks as he walks over and Chase shakes his head no.

“I honestly can’t wait to marry her,” he offers. “It’s almost like can we just do it already?” Darrell chuckles as he rubs Chase’s shoulders.

“You just want to get this over with because you’re nervou-”

“I told you that I was fin-”

“Dude, every groom gets nervous. Will you relax and just admit it?” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that Darrell was right.

“What if she runs away? What if I get one of those famous your bride has run away scenarios? What if I’m left standing at the altar by myself?” Darrell didn’t want to share the same worry as his friend, but he absolutely understood those nerves coming to him right now. After all, Sarina was afraid of commitment for the long time, from even beginning to the relationship to discussing the mere thought of marriage. However, now they were supposed to get married with a child on the way?

“She adores you so much that I don’t think she could ever dream of doing that to you,” Ryan interjects as he walks over. “She would do anything for you, and wants to be with you every second of the day. I bet she’s just as set to get it over with and walk down that aisle then you are.” He then looks over at Darrell. “Dude, really?”

“I came over to check on our groom and make sure everything was fine,” Darrell confesses. “I didn’t mean to start this…” Ryan just lets out a sigh.

“Well, I can promise that there’s nothing to worry about. I can assure you from the ladies that everything is going smoothly.” Chase then smirks as he looks over at Ryan. “And no, I am not sneaking you a photo of her dress or anything. Good try.”

“Don’t you know how much bad luck that is?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks back in the mirror. Alan then walks over, placing both of his hands on Chase’s shoulders.

“Think about this as the next chapter of your life,” he starts. “Everything that happened before is over with. Alison is caught, locked away forever. That chapter of your life is over and in the past. There’s no worries for you to wonder about moving forward. You can finally put that where it belongs, and live your life as you wis-”

“There are some feelings that still remain, Alan,” Chase confesses and Alan nods his head, accepting.

“I know, and those will linger for months as you work through getting past what happened. Like I’ve told you before, you’re one of the strongest people that I know and you’ve been through more than I’d wish on my worst enemy. It’s going to take time, Chase. However, this is your new beginning. Today once you both stand together, and share your vo-”

“That’s if I remember them…” Alan felt a bit of worrisome in hearing those nerves as he continued to rub Chase’s shoulders.

“You’ll remember them when the time is right, or you’ll come up with something right then and there that’s more beautiful. You love her, Chase, and all it takes in that moment is expressing what she means to you.” Chase knew that, but it didn’t take away from wanting to make sure they were perfect and the time spent writing them. “My point is you’re set to begin the next chapter of your life – you, Sarina, and the baby on the way together. Use that as motivation to make this even better, to make up for the wrongs of the past, and to move forward from what has happened. You deserve it, and I know you’ll make the most of it.”

“Thank you, Alan.” Chase then turns around, offering the crew chief a hug. “You’re more than just a crew chief; you’re my best friend, and I can’t thank you enough.”

“I’m just glad to be here and be a part of your special day.”

So many years have gone by
Always strong, tried not to cry
Never felt like I needed any man
To comfort me in life

“Sarina, it’s time to get started…” Lindsay says as she heads to the door, the last of the ladies. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Sarina replies as she glances over with a smile. “I’ll be right out….”

As the door shuts behind Lindsay, Sarina takes a deep breath as she takes one final glance in the mirror. Was this really happening? It didn’t seem like it was even possible.

As she looked at the lady that she had become, she could only shake her head.

She remembered what she envisioned herself being when she got to this age as a little girl. She also remembered how that vision changed as she entered her teenage years.

Then everything happened, and her life was forever changed. In the span of three years, both of her parents were gone and her brother had become someone she didn’t recognize. She was also forced to leave behind every family member, friend that she knew.

She remembered the strength that she thought she possessed through those years. She remembered how quickly she hardened herself, knowing she needed every ounce if she was going to succeed and make the most of the second chance. Besides, it was easier to do that – then face the emotions and let the tears roll down her cheeks.

At that moment as she made the initial move down to North Carolina, her primary focus was on herself. She was going to make it in life, and do what she needed to do survive – without a focus on anyone else. How would she trust someone else with everything that happened?

But I’m all made up today
A veil upon my face

Adjusting the veil that she wore atop her head, she had to laugh when she looked back at that approach. Seeing what she had learned in the past four years, she wished she had done everything different then.

Who knew a simple Georgia Peach would change everything in her life? She remembered the fear of trusting him, and how she kept saying no to his advances despite feeling every bit of attraction to him. She remembered the initial conversations, and the sleepover that changed everything, where she confessed everything.

From there on, she was thankful beyond anything for what he had done for her, as he slowly pulled back the pieces. She learned that it was okay to shed those emotions and be vulnerable, while being strong at the same time. She was finally able to address that pain – and she thanked him every day despite how much it hurt. It was amazing how much therapy it was to release all those feelings after everything that happened.

Seeing how much he cared for, and how much she cared for him return, there was no turning back. Then seeing how much he was willing to endure for her, and help her through, she knew that she couldn’t ever lose the connection they shared together.

They certainly made mistakes along the way, but she was thankful they were both patient and forgiving. She could officially say as she glanced at her reflection in the mirror that it was beyond worth it.

But no father stands beside me
To give this bride away

Feeling confidence in her step, she makes her way out of the room and gets in the car for the short ride from Dale’s house to the western down.

“I was wondering if you got cold feet or something,” Morgan half-jokes as Sarina shakes her head no.

“I could never do that to Chase,” she confesses with a smile.

Once down at the western town, the ladies got out of the car, joining up with their partners for the walk down the aisle.

As she watches Brexton and Lydia begin the parade down the aisle as ring-barrier and flower girl, it begins to hit her that she will have to make the long walk down alone. Taking a deep breath, she had expected it to come easy – though she couldn’t help but feel a couple butterflies. Taking another deep breath, though, she knew it’d be worth it once she reached the other end.

She smiles in seeing Kyle and Sam walk down the aisle next, thankful all the help they had offered through the past couple of years. As strong as she and Chase were together, she wondered if they would’ve been able to get through last year in January with the miscarriage if it wasn’t for Samantha. Knowing what they had gone through recently, she now felt the need to repay them with whatever they needed. It also served as a good reminder to make sure to take it easy today despite everything going on.

The next pair to walk down were Darrell and Emma, which caused her to chuckle via the jokes shared in an attempt of Darrell to ruffle Cale Conley a little bit. Thankfully, though, he had behaved on this important day.

Morgan and Alan were the last of the pair of bridesmaids and grooms to make their way down the aisle. Considering it was their first meeting together, everything went smoothly.

Lindsay glances back at Sarina, sharing a quick nod and smile. She then turns to face the aisle, making her way down as the maid-of-honor. Sarina couldn’t believe how easily the pair had been able to reconnect, or how much their friendship grew with each passing day. If she was going to have only limited family moving forward, she was glad that Lindsay was the chosen one.

Taking a deep breath in knowing everyone else had taken the walk down with the music beginning to play, she knew that it was her turn to make her way down.

Well, I’m standing in the chapel
Wearing my white dress
I have waited for this moment
With tears of happiness
Here I leave behind my past
By taking the chance
I’ve finally found the right man

Thoughts racing fast through my mind
As I’m gazing down the aisle
That my future will mend the memories
Torn between father and child

My emotions overload
‘Cause there is no hand to hold
There’s no shoulder here to lean on
I’m walking all on my own

“Are you ready?” Ryan whispers and Chase nods his head as he looks up the aisle, ready for her to make her grand entrance.

Seeing her enter the chapel with her first step into the aisle, everyone’s eyes turned around to face her. However, none of that mattered as her eyes were focused on a pair of brown ones at the other end of the aisle.

Chase’s jaw dropped immediately upon seeing her, admiring how snugly the dress fit her and showed off her ever-growing baby bump. His eyes followed from the train of the dress, all the way up to the eyes that stared right into his.

“I…I don’t….I don’t know what to say,” he fought to find the words in commenting how she looked.

“She looks amazing,” Ryan filled them in as Chase just nodded his head in return, standing there speechless.

The silence remained as she made her way to the altar, their eyes still locked together, as he reached out and took her hand.

“You look beyond stunning…” He comments as she smiles back in return.

“You look very handsome,” she replies, sneaking in a quick kiss.

“Hey now, I didn’t say you could kiss the bride yet,” the wedding officiator states, earning a couple chuckles through the room.

“She’s so beautiful that I couldn’t resist accepting her offer,” Chase comments, eyes back locked on her as all that mattered to him was saying the key words today and walking out of the chapel married to this stunning woman.

Here I go

Now I’m standing at four corners
To have and to hold
Now, my love, you stand beside me
To walk…

“Dear friends and family, we are gathered here today to witness and celebrate the union of Ms. Sarina Lynn Ott Dryer and William Clyde Elliott in marriage,” the wedding officiator states.

The usage of their full names was a discussion point for a couple of days between them, but they decided to go with it to be official. It also brought forth a second discussion in regards to Sarina’s name choice, which Chase left up to her. She decided to use the name that she had been using since changing her identity over, but yet add the Dryer part. While she wasn’t proud of her entire’s family past, she did admire parts of it, including her father, and felt it was right to be honorable. Perhaps those words stated by Lindsay in relation to their child to come were beginning to soak in.

“In the years they have been together, their love and understanding of each other has grown and matured, and now they have decided to live their lives together as husband and wife,” he continues, before taking a glance at the pair before him. “May you always need one another, not to fill an emptiness, but to help each other know your fullness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you embrace one another, but not encircle one another. May you succeed in all important ways with each other, and not fail in the little graces. May you have happiness, and may you find it in making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it in loving one another.”

Sarina and Chase simply nod in response to the words, without taking their eyes off of each other. There was only one thing that mattered to them both about today.

“Your love brings me to a simple question,” the officiator continues. “Do you, Sarina Lynn Ott Dryer, take William Clyde Elliott, to be your lawfully wedded husband, promising to love and cherish, through joy and sorrow, sickness and health, and whatever challenges you may face, for as long you both shall live?”

“I do,” she answers with certainty laced in her voice. There was no need for those nerves that she had ever felt before.

“Do you, William Clyde Elliott, take Sarina Lynn Ott Dryer, to be your lawfully wedded husband, promising to love and cherish, through joy and sorrow, sickness and health, and whatever challenges you may face, for as long you both shall live?”

“I do,” Chase replies as a smile forms on his face. The months of waiting that never seemed like they would end had finally concluded.

“Do we have the wedding rings?” The officiator asks as Sarina and Chase both finally turn away from each other to face Brexton. The little boy reaches into his pockets, taking out a pair of rings, handing one to each of them.

“Sarina is still my princess,” Brexton states matter of factly as he hands the ring to Chase.

“Don’t worry – I can share buddy,” Chase replies, giving him a hug, before letting him go.

“The couple have chosen to write their own vows today,” the officiator reveals. “Ladies first…” Sarina lifts her hand, spinning the ring inside of it before reaching out to slide it on his face.

“As I slide this ring on your finger, I vow to always love you,” she starts, trying to hold back the tears that threatened to fall. “I vow to always cherish you, take care of you, and be there for you. I vow to always listen to you, and help you with every emotion that you feel. Chase, you opened a door that I wasn’t willing to open to anyone. You pried harder than I could’ve imagined – but yet so gently that I didn’t realize, making me face my greatest fears and helping me through the roughest patch of my life. So therefore, I vow to be there for you no matter what in the same way in return – and that includes moving past the latest chapter in our lives. I vow to do whatever you need me to do for you to be there for you, and to love thee completely. I vow to be your partner in life, till death do us part.” She then slides the ring up his finger, as he simply smiles in return.

“Now were those really so hard to write?” He asks, breaking the ice a little as she chuckles remembering the paper balls they had both thrown out in the process. He then takes a deep breath, holding up the ring in which he had gotten for her. It was a simple diamond band, with a slight opening so it’d fit snugly around the pink diamond engagement ring. “As I slide this ring on your finger, I vow to always love you. I vow to be there for you every single day. I vow to be understanding in our rough moments, even if you threaten to run awa-”

“There’s no way I am doing that again. I’ve learned my lesson.” He smiles, as he wipes a piece of hair out of her eyes.

“I’m glad, but just in case, I vow to be there for you. I vow to hold you, cuddle you, listen to you, and be your rock when you need someone to vent to. I vow to always be there for you to give you advice, and guidance when you need it. I vow to bring out the best in you as you’re more beautiful and talented than anyone probably imagined. I vow to take care of you, and keep you safe. I vow to make sure that we don’t endure the same pain that we’ve gone through again. I vow to make you feel safe, and secure in my arms like you’ve never felt before. I vow  to be yours forever and always. I will cherish what we have no matter as I vow to be yours, and yours alone, till death do us part.” He then slides the ring up her finger, as she wipes away the couple of tears that slid down her cheeks.

“By the power vested in me by the States of North Carolina, I now pronounce you husband and wife,” the wedding officiator officially proclaims. “Mr. Elliott, you may now actually kiss your bride for real.”

“Thank you…” He then pulls her close, as the pair share a big kiss to the chime of whistles from the crowd in the church.

“Ladies and Gentleman, family and friends, I present to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Chase and Sarina Elliott.”

“I like the sounds of that,” Sarina comments, before diving in for a second kiss.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 162: New Year’s Day

Tuesday, January 1 – Colorado – 25 weeks pregnant

Chase lies down on the bed on his stomach, eyes locking with Sarina’s as she laid there before him.

“So, how’s the new year treating you?” He questions as she smiles back in response.

“With this view, I’d say the new year is spoiling me already,” she replies. He then crawls further up in the bed so he’s beside her.

“Well get used to it as by the end of the week, you’re going to be my wife.” The smile only grew at that thought.

“I can’t wait. Are you sure you’re ready for that?” He nods his head.

“I just hope you’re ready for me spoiling you, pampering you, and offering more things just like last night.” She simply licks her lips as a savory grin comes to mind.

“That certainly was a great way to bring in the new year.” He then gives her a light kiss on the lips. “Maybe if you’re lucky, there’s more outfits where that one came from.”

“Oh really?” She nods her head, remembering the debate when she was at the store in which of the outfits to buy. Thinking back with how fun last night was, maybe she should’ve bought a couple extras as well. “Well, just so you know, the new year is treating me well, too. I can’t complain about spending a nice day in the woods with my fiancée and baby.”

“Can you believe that we’re going to be parents to a baby before the year’s over?” He shakes his head no.

“I never would’ve guessed that when we got together originally, or the fact that we’d be getting married.” She remembers all the fears that she had associated with both, but was glad that she could call those no more now.

“I’m glad that someone changed my mind.” He smiles back as he brushes a piece of hair out of her face. “So we do need to talk about something, though.”

“Am I going to like this discussion?” She honestly wasn’t sure, not knowing where he stood on the topics ahead.

“Parenting class. I was wondering if we should sign up for one to take together, to learn what to expect when it comes to the birth of the baby and the first days at home with the baby.” He knew with her nerves, doing something like this would probably be re-assuring and beneficial for her. He also wasn’t about to object to spending more time with her, and discussing the baby as it was his favorite topic to discuss lately. It was also another good tactic to keep his mind off of other things.

“What are you thinking about it?” She then lets out a sigh, chalking that up to a stereotypical Chase answer.

“I brought it up for your opini-”

“You know that I am totally on-board for whatever you think we should do, and I will be there to support you no matter what. So if you feel that we should, then I’ll do it. I’ll give you my schedule and we can find the days to go that work within it.” She almost wanted to smack him right now.

“But what do you feel, Chase?” He honestly wasn’t sure. Was it really necessary? Certainly labor and everything that happened would be a new experience, as well as taking care of a newborn. However, it seemed like as long as you followed a simple slew of steps that it would go smoothly. Besides, they also had the baby books that they had been checking out in times of boredom.

“If I was to sit here and decide solely for us both, I don’t know if I would. However, I’m not going to stop you if you want to go.” She then glances down at the bed, feeling all the nerves that she remembered feeling when she initially found out she was pregnant. Could she be a mother? Would she know what to do when the baby was crying? What if she repeated her family’s crazy mistakes?

“I think for sanity and extra precaution, it wouldn’t hurt to take a couple classes, just to have that extra re-assurance.” As he expected, her nerves were showing through once again.

“Then sign us up and I’ll make sure to be there. But I also want you to know that you’re going to be an amazing mother to our baby. You are going to show our child how to love, care, and do everything beautifully with grace and strength that knows no bounds.” She smiles in return, knowing exactly why he was saying those words at that moment.

“Chase, I know what you’re doing, and I thank you for that.” She then leans in and lightly kisses his lips. “I also know that you’re going to make an amazing father.”

Lindsay walks over, sitting on the couch, after laying Evelyn down following her latest feeding. She picks up her phone, finding the chat that she had started with Cindy, Samantha and Morgan that morning.

“Ryan!” She calls out, catching his attention away from the chores that he was trying to catch up on around the house.

“What’s wrong?” He asks, caught off-guard by her sudden cry for him.

“Nothing, actually.” He breathes a sigh of relief as he comes over. “Do you have any idea what Chase and Sarina are planning the couple weeks following the wedding?” Ryan thinks it over, going through the various discussions that they had together, before shaking his head no.

“They just talked about wanting to have a quiet off-season together before the baby comes and racing across the country. I don’t even think he mentioned any special honeymoon plans.” Lindsay had to admit that she was caught off-guard by that, half-expecting Chase to surprise Sarina with a getaway after the wedding.

“I’ve talked with her the past two days, and she hasn’t revealed much of anything, either – not that I’ve asked for details openly, though. It’s either they have no calendar planned, or they’re just keeping quiet.” Ryan crosses his arms, now confused by the sudden interest. Normally if Lindsay wanted to get together with Sarina, she’d just reach out and ask.

“Why are you asking me this?” Lindsay lets out a sigh as she looks back down at her phone.

“We’re trying to plan the baby shower for Little Elliott – myself, Cindy, Samantha, and Morgan. However, we have no idea as to what day to plan it or where because we don’t know if it’ll conflict with Sarina’s plans.” Ryan had to admit that it was surprising to hear that Cindy didn’t know many of the details.

“Couldn’t one of you just openly ask Chase for when she is available?” Lindsay knew that was the easy way out, but also wasn’t willing to go down that road quite yet.

“It’s supposed to be a surprise, Ryan. Hence why we’re trying to keep it quie-”

“It’s a surprise for Sarina, not for Chase. If one of you would so nicely message him and tell him what you’re planning to do, he could give you possible dates and maybe even help set it up so she arrives at the location unexpectedly. He could also possibly help you with a list of what they have and don’t have, so that way you don’t overlap as they have the nursery together with the crib and change table.” Lindsay nods her head, having seen the photos from Sarina.

“She sent me photos, thank you very much. And how do you know all these great things of planning a baby shower?” Ryan smiles as he leans back against the wall.

“How do you think my sisters and Sarina surprised you so well?” Lindsay had to chuckle, as she figured that Ryan was involved despite all of his original avoidances. “I also have a sister that’s pregnant, too. Since you’re busy with Evelyn and they’re busy with Alison, a wedding, and the pregnancy plus racing, I think it’d be best to make it as easy as possible on everybody.”

“I’ll pass along the suggestion to the ladies. Thank you for your tips. Oh, and thank you for doing the chores.”

“You just keep doing an amazing job with our daughter, and I’ll do whatever you need.” He then leans in, sharing a quick kiss with her, before retreating back to where he left off as she texts the ladies what he said.

After having gotten down the latest round of snowboarding, Chase retreated back to the cabin, taking off his snow pants and jacket. He then hears his phone going off, picking it up.

“Hello?” He answers, a little confused by the number.

“May I speak to Mr. Chase Elliott?” He hears, still confused as he makes his way through the cabin.

“This is him speaking. May I ask who this is?” Sarina then looks over slightly confused.

“This is Officer Miomi Day with the Charlotte Police Department. I am calling to inform you that a bomb was blown up at your house.” Chase freezes instantly, as he takes a couple deep breathes.

“Was anybody hurt?” Sarina now felt her confusion increasing as she leaned over the back of the couch to try and listen.

“Nobody was hurt by the bomb, and the damage to your house was minimal. However, there was a note left on the front porch of the house in a brown envelope.” Chase rolls his eyes immediately, knowing what that meant.

“Alison Reynolds has been tormenting me for an entire year, and her trademark is leaving brown envelopes when she wants to leave me something that is important to read.” Sarina now knew that something had happened, and could only wonder what if and where.

“We were made aware of that by the investigative department upon arriving at your residence when the phone call was placed by a concerned neighbor. The department opened the envelope, revealing the note inside. It simply stated that, ‘Your decisions affect everything that I do. You made things harder for me, so I had to send you a message. Let this be known for your future.’” Chase takes a deep breath, knowing that it was just Alison trying to get into his head like always. He also knew that if they were home, something else may have happened.

“Well, thank you for letting me know. Is there anything that you need me to do immediately?” Sarina was taken back by Chase’s low-key response.

“Nothing is required. If you do file an insurance claim for the minimal property damages, please let us know and we can give you a copy of the police report to go with that. We can also provide a copy if you need one for any reason, too. Do you have any questions for me?” Chase didn’t want to think about it any longer.

“Nope. Thank you for calling, and have a nice evening.”

“Same goes to you, sir, and please stay safe. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye.” He then hangs up, letting out a sigh as he sits his phone down on the table. “Alison blew up a bomb at our house to send a mess-”

“Was anybody hurt?” Chase shakes his head no immediately. “Okay, good…”

“The officer also stated that there was no damage done to the property, either. She purposely set off a small one near the house to send the message. The message was decisions affect everything, and our trip has made things harder for her to accomplish goals and we should keep her in mind.” Sarina rolls her eyes as she lays back on the couch.

“Typical Alison….” Chase nods his head in agreement as he comes over and sits beside her. “Are you okay?”

“Like you said, typical Alison. I’m not even going to worry about it. All that matters to me is you, me, the baby, our safety, and the wedding. I’m not going to give her a second thought if she’s keeping her distance. However, if she steps anywhere that I can see in this state, don’t expect me to hold back.” Sarina half-expected that after the trip to see Shelley before coming to Colorado.

“Just be careful, no matter what.” He looks over at her, easily accepting her words.

“Always.” He then leans in and kisses her lips. “Now, please tell me that your TV watching this afternoon without me was worth it…”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 160: Babies, Shopping, and Escaping

Saturday, December 30 – West Virginia

Sarina smiles as she sits in the chair, eyes locked on the little girl that laid in Lindsay’s arms. The boys had ran out to the store, leaving the girls to their own devices as Erin and Emma had headed home.

“I can’t get over how adorable she is,” Sarina offers as Lindsay smiles.

“She’s been truly blessed with her daddy’s appearance,” Lindsay replies, as Sarina could only chuckle.

“Once again, you’re not giving yourself enough credit as you’re pretty in your own right.” Lindsay could only glance over with another smile to offer in return. “Evelyn is the perfect name for her, by the way.”

“When we discussed baby names, Ryan wanted to keep the tradition of E if it was a girl. I respected that, and the fact that he was letting me choose. As far as boy names, we had thought about using Elijah Lou Blaney.” Sarina nods her head as it had a nice ring to it.

“I love how Ryan wanted to stick to tradition, and Lou for her middle name is perfect…”

“That was my idea, actually. I know how much his family means to him, and how he admired Lou. I told him that it’d be an honor to have our daughter named after him.”

“It’s perfect…”

“Just think, you’ll have a baby of your own soon.” Sarina knew that was coming as her ever growing stomach was a reminder every day. “Have you guys talked about names yet?”

“Between planning the wedding, Christmas, building the nursery, and Alison, is there really any time for that?” Lindsay chuckles back in response, shaking her head no. “He figures that it’s a girl no matter what.”

“Oh really?” Sarina nods her head, having gotten used to his constant references. “So I guess if you began to talk about names, he’d probably insist on focusing on girl names only.”

“I’m going to guess that.” She then lets out a sigh as she begins running some ideas of her own through her head. “We spoke about it briefly, once. Chase mentioned how he wanted to pay homage to my father in some way. He mentioned to me how special my dad was to me, and never wanting me to forget that amongst the family drama. He told me how he wanted my daughter to learn about the good in her mom’s side, and why I cherished my father. He wanted her to recognize that it was important, and have that influence in her name every day.”

“But what is your opinion about that?” Sarina feels the tears coming to her eyes.

“I love my father, I do cherish him, and he will always means the world to me. However, I don’t want my daughter having any reminders of my family or connections. No offense as you are family, but that’s been hell ever since I was a teenager. I want to leave that where I left it because she shouldn’t have to deal with the pain of my past.” Lindsay saw it in a different light, like Chase was though.

“I see it as a sign of her strength and ability to overcome everything. I also know that Victor would be proud of the young lady you have become.” Sarina smiles as it had been a long time since someone had named her father by name. “So obviously Amanda, Victor, Christopher, and Chelsy are not on the dream list of names.”

“I then mentioned to him how I wanted to keep the Elliott legacy alive in the way he wanted to keep my father’s. I suggested including Casey, possibly.” Lindsay smiles as she had heard the discussions about Chase’s cousin already. “That was an idea that he was fully open to. So if anything, we have a middle name and obviously she’s going to be an Elliott.”

“I would hope so, unless she’s a Bell.” Sarina then looks at Lindsay shocked, who immediately breaks out laughing in return.

“Hailey Casey Elliott.” Lindsay freezes immediately upon hearing the name. “Abigail Casey Elliott.”

“Abigail Elliott does sound pretty nice, actually. Then you could call her Abby for short.” Sarina nods her head in agreement. “Abigail Victor Casey Elliott sounds amazing, though.”

“I told you what I thought about that…” Lindsay reaches over and places her hand on Sarina’s.

“Your daughter is going to learn about your family regardless of what you do; there’s this thing called Google now-a-days. I’m sure she’ll find everything eventually. However, you as her mother, have the ability to tell her what people don’t realize. You can tell her the magical part of the family, and those times as a child. You can tell her the bond you shared with Chris before things went affray. You can tell her about why you will never forget your father, why it breaks your heart still to this day, and why you want to keep his memory alive. You can also tell her the positives of the family and why you reached out to me. Just think about it, and reconsider it. I think it’d be the best way to honor Victor despite everything that has happened.” Sarina nods her head, wiping the tears out of her eyes.

“I’ll consider it, okay?” Lindsay accepts as she lets her best friend go, focusing back on Evelyn.

“I can’t believe that I am car seat shopping today,” Ryan states as he looks over the seats in the store. “How do two people who know that they have a baby on the way and coming any day not bring the car seat and diaper bag with them when traveling?” Chase shakes his head.

“I don’t know, but I’m taking notes from your experiences,” he replies, as Ryan chuckles in response.

“No matter how prepared you think you are, nothing can prepare you for that moment. I can’t even tell you what went through my mind when she said the words, ‘my water broke,’ or everything that happened from that moment to getting to the hospital. It’s a total blur and I almost felt like I was out of control at times.” Chase wanted to take notes of this, as he didn’t want to be in the same shoes when it came time for Sarina to have her child.

“But you got her to the hospital in time as the call was made…” Ryan nods, however he also knew that wasn’t his doing.

“Let’s just say that I am glad my sisters were there as it was Erin who calmly made the phone call, while Emma sat with Lindsay with me.” Ryan then picks up one of the car seats, giving it a good glance over, before reading the attached pamphlet. “This one has a good safety rating, and it’s easily portable for when we’re traveling.”

“The girls should like it as well…” Ryan was surprised by the comment, not expecting Chase to admiring the purple and pink design. However, he supported having someone there to keep the shopping somewhat in line.

“Alright. We just need to find a diaper bag that matches now.” The boys then make their way through the store to the next section. “Oh, and let me tell you – there’s nothing that I can say to describe the first moment when you see the baby outside of the womb. I was taken back by how beautiful she looked, how perfect – I just couldn’t believe it to where I was speechless as Lindsay offered me the chance to hold her for the first time.”

“She is beautiful, and the name Evelyn is perfect.” Ryan nods his head in agreement. It was nice to see Lindsay choose a unique name after the rules that he had laid down.

The boys shift through the various diaper bags on the shelf, debating the exterior designs to the pockets available inside the bag. They both tried to remember everything that would normally go in a bag, and whether these would be the right fit. After debating back and forth for a good 10 minutes – and sending a snapshot to the girls for approval, they were headed through the check out with bag and car seat in hand.

“Remind me to leave the shopping to the girls the next time,” Ryan offers, as Chase could only chuckle in response.

“You should’ve gotten Emma and Erin to go,” Chase comments as Ryan glances over. He had thought about that, but held back asking.

“I can’t make Emma go shopping while pregnant, and some of Erin’s choices are a little out there.” Chase had to nod in agreement with having spent time with both of them. “Speaking of being out there, I was surprised that you were in Arizona when Erin got a hold of you to tell you Evelyn was born. I thought you were supposed to be taking a low-key winter.”

“We went out there to see Shelley, actually.” Ryan’s jaw drops immediately.

“I thought we were done with family, and done with any connection to Shelley after she tried to bust Chris out of jail.” Chase recalled stating those words, remembering the fears endured through that time period.

“She’s also the only person to have spent time with Alison and know anything as to how the girl thinks. This has been going on for a year, and she’s crossing the lin-”

“Oh really? I think I understood that when she decided to go after you sexual-”

“I’m talking about the baby rattle, threatening Alan – things that she has done outside of just me.” Ryan knew why Chase was stating this as he knew Chase better than more. It was one thing to bug him – he could easily brush that off and continue about things; he’d battle with it internally, but it’s not like he would let that show. It was another to go after those close to him as the defensive, strong side would come out immediately. “I figured if we went to Shelley, spoke of everything that Alison has done over the last month and a half, maybe she would give us more information than she did originally.”

“Was that worth the trip?” Chase shakes his head no as he lets out a sigh.

“She told me that if she could offer information, then she would, but she had told them everything that she knew. Somehow I don’t know if I believe her entirely.” Ryan wasn’t about to argue with Chase about that from how much he had gotten to know of the family thus far.

“You’d think after stating that she couldn’t go through with Alison’s ideals that she’d be willing to hand over everything..” That was why Chase had made the trip, but Shelley’s words revealed something entirely different.

“Shelley’s opinion and objectives haven’t changed, though. She basically belittled Sarina once again about leaving the family behind and Chris’ situation. It’s like she can’t get it through her head that no matter what we’ve done, it hasn’t been enough to help Chris. We’ve tried. What else does she expect?” Ryan shrugs his shoulders. “Nobody also understands how much fear Sarina dealt with originally, either. What would you have done if you were a teenager, and your sister got into drugs, resulting in both your parents being shot dead?”

“I don’t know what I would’ve done without my parents or my sisters. They mean everything to me.” Chase glances out the window, having begun to realize the sibling bond more than ever over the past couple of weeks. “I’m guessing that Brittney means a lot to you, too.”

“There’s no words that I can say to her to thank her for what she did that day.” Chase takes a deep breath, remembering the discussion with the psychiatrist about his constant feelings in relation to what happened. “I don’t know what I would’ve done if she hadn’t shown up.”

“The main thing is that she did, though, and that’s what matters…” Ryan looks over at Chase, placing his hand on his. “All that matters is that you’re okay, and Alison was unable to succeed at her crazy plan once again, and she won’t ever succeed at her crazy plan. You’re strong, and you’re going to get past her and through this. Believe me, Chase.”

“I’m trying, I promise you…” Ryan nods his head, having seen that with the various discussions the pair had shared through the year.

“What else did Shelley have to say?” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that Ryan was simply now using that as a distraction – but he wasn’t about to argue.

“She tried to manipulate and play mind games with me, using my feelings for Sarina and trying to emphasize how I helped her ‘masquerade’ around. I just ignored it, let it go in one ear and out the other. My main goal that day was to put an end to Alison, but clearly that wasn’t happening.”

“It’s going to happen, though. She can’t do this forever.” Chase wanted to believe that, and tried to focus on those words, but yet found himself wondering what if. “Can I offer you some advice?”

“Oh boy…”

“I understand why you wanted to keep a low-key winter with everything that’s going on. However, a lot has happened. Alison’s visit is obviously still playing into your thoughts, and I’m sure Sarina is still stuck on what was said by Shelley. Maybe it’s time that you guys get away.” Chase had thought about that, though found himself back to the thoughts he had told himself in the summer.

“If you run away, though, are you ever facing what you should be? Are you ever going to move forward?” Ryan knew the box that was written with that theory, but believed his thought process.

“You’re moving forward, though, by talking about it. However, every person deserves a break. Start the new year off right and be in the frame of mind that you should be.”

Chase smiles as he knew exactly where he and Sarina needed to go.

“I thought we were heading home,” Sarina comments, as she looks around at the area around them. She knew what the airport looked like in both North Carolina and Georgia, and this looked like neither of those.

“Welcome to Grand Junction Regional Airport, better known as Colorado,” Chase replies as he smiles, ready to give himself a pat on the back for yet another successful, smooth perfect landing. “I figured we needed some time away after everything.”

“And you didn’t tell me?” Chase had thought about doing that, but figured a surprise would be nicer.

“I thought about it, but I didn’t want you to argu-”

“Are you kidding me? I’d never argue about coming up to Colorado with you.” He looks over with a smile as it was nice to hear they were in sync. This was always his spot before for coming up to get away from everything, and it was great to be able to share that with her. “Our cabin is everything to me. It’s where we get to spend time without being disturbed or distracted or caught up in everything. It’s where we can catch our breath and relax when the world seems like it’s out of control. It’s our special spot together, and I never want to ever complain about spending time there with you.”

“So are you okay with bringing the new year in this way?” She nods her head in agreement.

“It’s where one of the most special moments of this past year occurred in getting engaged to you, so it’d seem to fitting to start off our magical 2019 there.” She then leans in, giving him a light kiss.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 159: Flying Around

Saturday, December 29 – Phoenix, Arizona

Chase takes one glance over at Sarina, noticing the nerves written all of her face immediately.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” He questions and she nods her head as she returns the glance.

“We need to get to the bottom of this, and she may be the only way how,” Sarina answers as Chase lets out a sigh. He wasn’t about to argue about that as this certainly had gone on long enough. However, he also wasn’t ready to push these boundaries either.

“As long as you’re certain that you can han-”

“What are you trying to say, Chase?” Chase takes a deep breath, cursing his wording immediately. However, it didn’t seem there was any way he could win in these situations.

“I just don’t want you overstressing or worrying while pregnant, and causing complications. I know you’re strong and can handle yourself, however, I also know the emotions involved. I don’t need something happening because of that. My worry is just for you, and the baby – that’s all.” She nods her head, having grown used to it already over the past several weeks. However, that didn’t mean it got easier listening to and letting sink in as she wasn’t about to let someone tell her she couldn’t handle something.

“I’ll be fine.”

Sarina walks through the doors with Chase right behind her, stepping up to the desk before them. It didn’t take long before the pair were ushered through to the meeting room, and seated accordingly.

“What do you hope to accomplish from this meeting?” They were asked as Sarina kept her eyes focused forward.

“Any information that I can gather,” she answered, earning a nod in return.

“Anything you can accomplish would be great as she hasn’t been very forthcoming since the arrest.” Sarina nods her head, having kept track of the situation for any possible updates. “For right now, she is charged with kidnapping you, conspiracy with Alison to numerous crimes in which we know we haven’t even finalized the list yet, and obstruction of justice for withholding information.”

“As long as it means that she can’t harm me, my baby, or Lindsay, I don’t care…”

Their eyes focus to the doorway as they watch Shelley walk in, eying them immediately. It had been a month and a week since the last time they had seen each other, and Shelley was actually surprised to see how much Sarina had grown since.

“You told me that I had visitors and they were family,” Shelley begins as she looks back over at the officer. “This isn’t no family of mine.”

“I’m your niece, remember?” Sarina questions, not willing to fall into the non-family trap as she had many times before.

“You may be by blood, but I could care less about that connection given how you’ve treated, alienated, and pretended as though we didn’t exist.” Sarina takes a deep breath, still having regrets for the decisions that she had made through the years.

“I had to do what I had to do at the time to protect myself from the danger that was there. Otherwise, I would’ve ended up just like my parents. I sure hope that’s not what you would’ve wished for.” Shelley almost wished for it at times given the events that had transpired since.

“And what about your dear ‘ol brother?” Sarina lets out another sigh, having been through that road too many times to count already.

“I did what I could to try and help him, and unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Sometimes people can’t be saved.” Sarina glances down at the table, as she takes a deep breath. “I hate it as much as you do sometimes, Shelley. I loved my brother. I loved the time that we spent together. I loved the bond that we shared as children. I would do whatever possible to get that back again. That’s why I forgave him for actions that never deserved a chance, and that’s why I put him first beyond anything at a time to do what I could. I tried, and unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. It’s a burden that I carry with me every day.”

“Right, while you live your perfect dream life as a successful racecar driver living with this superstar and spoiled by those around you, while he rots away in a cell.” Sarina’s eyes never left the table, as Chase began to rub her back, seeing as how Shelley was already finding her way underneath her skin. “Cat got your tongue?”

“I see you’ve taken lessons from Alison on manipulation,” Chase offers, not even wanting to entertain the previous discussion. They had entered the room with a goal in mind and he intended on doing what he could about that. “I heard that you revealed anything that Alison shared about her possible plans with myself. I also heard that you revealed a list of locations for the police to begin searching. Obviously, you know that they’ve come up with nothing so far. We’re hoping that maybe you knew more.”

“Do you really think that I am going to help you?” Shelley questions and Chase nods his head. He knew it was a stretch, but he was willing to try anything at this point.

“As the police have told you, it’d help the case against you in bringing someone of Alison’s nature to justice.” Chase also knew how to play with Shelley’s heart, just like she had played Alison. “You also mentioned how you cared about family, and I’m sure that includes Lindsay. Alison sent out a baby rattle yesterday, addressed to each person close to myself and Sarina, including Lindsay. She made a point to me that decisions will determine anything, which basically means that if she even feels I am not playing her game, Lindsay is in dang-”

“Lying to me isn’t going to get what you want, Chase.” Chase pulls his phone out his pocket, revealing the text that Ryan had sent, as he places the phone on the table.

“My momma always told me to tell the truth.” He watches as Shelley looks over the image that was attached. “Perhaps not for me and Sarina, but for the sake of Lindsay and your great niece or nephew, you’d be willing to offer the missing details.” He watches Shelley place the phone back on the table as she looks back up into his eyes. “This has gone on way too long, and you know it yourself that she has stepped over the line. Who kidnaps and threatens a pregnant woman? Better yet, who forces someone to have sexual conduct when they don’t want to?”

“I don’t have any sympathy for you and what she’s put you through, as you’re well deserving of it for how you’ve helped this one masquerade around.” Chase swallows the lump in his throat that threatened to lash out in anger for the comment, via a mix of his own emotions and those feelings in relation to Sarina. How had Shelley gone this far?

“I’m not asking for sympathy. I’m asking for inform-”

“No, you’re playing on my sympathy for my family in hopes that I will help you catch the girl that is currently making your life a living nightmare. You know, I actually hoped that she’d accomplish everything she wanted and more so that you’d break up.” Chase had to laugh in response.

“Actually, it’s brought us closer together as we’ve been able to comfort each other and help each other through this.” Shelley cursed that immediately, but still felt her own sympathy for Lindsay overpowering that.

“I wish I knew more information, to be honest. I can tell you completely that I gave the police every single location that I had met her or seen her or dealt with in some plan. I also gave them any contact that I had in which she had spoken with to do something. I gave them my entire notebook. I also offered a view into her thought process. I’ve done what I can. I wish I could do more – not for you but for Lindsay, but I can’t. I don’t know anymore and she won’t trust me as a bai-”

“I read her letter clearly in the weeks after.” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks over at Sarina. “Well, I guess this trip is a bust.”

“It was worth a try,” Sarina comments before standing up and pushing in her chair. “It was nice to see you, Ms. Shelley. I hope you enjoy what a prison cell looks like. Maybe it can lighten your heart so you can grow some sympathy.” She then walks out of the room with Chase directly behind her.

As they walk out of the building and climb into the rental car, their gaze catches each others.

“Are you okay?” Chase asks, which Sarina knew was coming before he even said it.

“I’m used to it by now,” Sarina answers. “Nobody in my family understands how I felt when I was that lost 16-year-old girl, full of fear in that the same fate would be met for me. Nobody understands what it’s like to have to fight for survival, shove every trust that you have, and watch your back despite someone maybe trying to reach out and help you. That’s why whenever they hear my story, they lash out and think that I’m wrong for not doing what they wan-”

“You did nothing wron-”

“I know, Chase. Hence why I said that I’m used to it.” She then takes a deep breath, before looking over. “However, I’ve grown from that. I’ve learned to accept the decisions that I made. I’ve learned that there wasn’t anything that I could do. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to let your barrier go….” She then reaches over and clutches his hand “…and trust someone openly, sharing your story and feelings. Not everybody is out to do you harm, and you can be loved, and you feel pain in knowing that it can be comforted. That all began with you, and I thank you every day.”

“You don’t need to thank me, as I’ve told you before.” She nods her head, knowing this wasn’t the first time they had discussed this.

“I know, but I can’t help it. You pushed my boundaries harder than anyone had from when I put them up, and you didn’t shed away when I pushed back. Instead, you stayed there until you broke them. And when you broke them, you didn’t run when all the signs were there. Instead, you worked at putting them back together and helping me. I never would’ve gotten to where I am anywhere in life – whether the ability to grow at KBM and be close with Kyle or Sam, or be a mother and be caring – without you.” She then leans in and lightly kisses his lips. “You’re amazing, Chase, and I’m glad to call you mine.”

“I’m glad that I pushed those weeks because I can tell you that it’s been worth it every minute ever since. I wouldn’t change a thing.”  She had to chuckle.

“I doubt that, actually.” He looks over, a little surprised. “What? I mean, I would’ve changed crashing a plane into a field with you.”

“But that fight we had afterwards, and the way we were able to find our way back to each other taught us trust, loyalty, patience, and showed us how much we love each other.” She then lets out a sigh.

“Is there any way to win an argument with you?” He chuckles, shaking his head no. “Fine. I say we get out of here and head home. I bet you that’s something you can’t argue with.”

“Nope…” He then starts up the car, driving out of the parking lot to head back to the airport.

Saturday, December 29 – West Virginia

The pair would never make their way back to North Carolina, but instead making the flight from Arizona to West Virginia. A simple phone call with a quick message from Emma Blaney changed everything as they both knew they wanted to be there.

“Did everything go smoothly?” Chase asks as they now sat in the waiting room at the hospital.

“The doctors says that both baby and momma are doing well,” Emma answers, earning smiles in return from the couple. “We were playing Monopoly and a cry of ‘my water broke’ ended that game early.”

“That baby knew it was time to come out and stop a fight from breaking out,” Erin adds, earning a couple chuckles around the room.  “Let’s just say that Emma owned a yellow property, Lindsay owned another, and the girls were fighting for the third to see who would have the better trading up hand later.”

“For once you’re actually innocent,” Chase comments, earning a smack in return from Erin.

“The ambulance showed up before the contractions got too bad – although I thought Ryan was going to faint at one point,” Emma continues, earning a chuckle from Chase. “Keep chuckling there; I can’t wait to see your reaction when she’s ready to give birth. But anyways, they got her here and two hours later, we got news of a baby being born.”

“Did they tell you the gender?” Sarina questions, and Emma shakes her head no.

“Ryan said he and Lindsay wanted to reveal that together when we came in to see the baby and momma.” Sarina smiles, as it was nice to know all of the surprises weren’t quite spoiled yet. “I heard Momma wanted a girl since I’m having a boy.”

“Did you guys find our your gender yet?” Erin wonders and Chase and Sarina shake their heads no, having stuck to the surprise route thus far.

“I’m pretty certain it’s a girl, though,” Chase adds, earning an intriguing glance from the Blaney sisters. “It just feels like it in some weird way…”

“Cale thought I was having a girl until the reveal at the wedding so you never know,” Emma comments.

“I can’t believe all three of you are due within a couple months of each other,” Erin offers. “There must’ve been something in the water…”

“He said, “I’ve been where you’ve been before, down every hallway’s a slamming door, no way out, no one to come and save me, wasting a life that the Good Lord gave me….” Erin rolls her eyes as she recognized the song immediately.

“Then somebody said what I’m saying to you,” Sarina continues, singing the Carrie Underwood song. “Opened my eyes and told me the truth.”

“They said, “Just a little faith, it’ll all get better,” the girls begin to sing together. “So I followed that preacher man down to the river….”

“Anybody want to see a baby?” Ryan’s voice interrupts as they all freeze immediately.

“Thank you from saving me from their singing,” Chase comments, earning a small slap from each of them. “Ouch!”

Chase and Sarina, accompanied by the Blaney sisters, make their way down the short hallway to the room. They then follow Ryan inside as he leans them over to the bed, where Lindsay laid holding her baby.

“We’d like to introduce you to Evelyn Lou Blaney,” Lindsay says as everyone gathers around to take a closer look.

“It’s fitting that her middle name is Lou,” Erin comments, knowing how much Ryan admired his grandpa.

“She’s adorable,” Sarina comments.

“Congratulations,” Chase adds, as he wraps an arm around Ryan’s shoulders. “She’s perfect.”

“Better than perfect, better than I could’ve imagined,” Ryan adds as he fixes her little hat.