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

Tuesday June 19, 2018 – Dublin, Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Definitely drunk,” Ryan declares.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday June 20, 2018 – Dublin, Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Absolutely no-“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday June 20, 2018 – Charlotte, North Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday June 22, 2018 – Gateway Motorsports Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 16 – Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 16 – Iowa Speedway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Now you mentioned not set in stone….”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ah shucks….”

***********

Saturday, June 16 – Dublin, Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Seriously?” Chase then glances between the pair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 18 – Dublin, Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 83: “I’ll always be here if you need a friend, Chase.”

Friday, June 15 – Galway, Ireland

With having finished breakfast, Erin led the boys out into the middle of town, spinning around a pole as they both looked on with a glance of confusion.

“Should I go back and check if there was any alcohol mixed in with that smoothie?” Ryan offers, as Chase shares a quick laugh. He laughed even harder when Erin reached out closer to him giving Ryan a smack. “No sibling love, huh?”

“I thought you learned already to not pick on the little sister,” Erin comments as she glances over towards Chase. “Am I right?” Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“I know you can fight your battles pretty well,” he offers as Erin just flashes a smile towards Ryan. “But seriously, you do seem a little too cheery.”

“I just love that my two favorite people are here with me today.” She then stands between them, wrapping her arms around their shoulders. “So you both lamented to me how much you enjoy the culture, the scenes, and how you couldn’t explore enough last time. So I figured that you could both just explore today. Check out the pubs, town market, whatever you want.”

“Are you sure you can trust him?” Erin glances over at Ryan, sticking her tongue out.

“I figure he’ll be safe with us both babysitting him.”

“What is this? Pick on Ryan day?” Ryan asks as he goes off ahead of the pair.

“He’s such an easy target,” Erin answers as she follows, earning another chuckle from Chase.

The group made their way through the town, stopping at several different spots along the way.

The aunt in Erin was already coming out as she picked some gender neutral items out that she figured her future niece or nephew would absolutely enjoy. The fact that both Lindsay and Emma were pregnant had Erin knowing she’d be busy babysitting in the new year.

Ryan also found some different things that he was certain Lindsay would enjoy, including a new Irish dance outfit as he knew she had grown a liking to every style of dance.

Chase smiled as the last stop worked out perfect for him as he was able to find the perfect gift to take home to Sarina, letting out a sigh as he wished she could’ve enjoyed the vacation given the fun they had the last time in Amsterdam.

A day of exploring was met by the group wanting an evening of relaxation knowing that tomorrow would be another busy day. So it was no surprise they ended back on the beach, taking a dip in the water, before finishing the day off with a classic round of drinks.

Back at the hotel for the night, Chase made sure to video call with Sarina for a good couple of hours, sharing a couple different jokes, before calling it a night.

“Remember our deal. Do you want her to live or die?” Chase swallows the lump in his throat, tries to cut off the tears in his eyes, almost make himself numb as he feels the nerves pick up more.

“Live…” She then pulls his jeans down to his knees, revealing the boxers underneath.

“Every time we meet, you’re going to be like this – exactly how you’re sitting now. Am I clear?” He slowly nods his head as he tries to keep his eyes focused on the phone screen, remembering that he’s doing it for Sarina’s safety, not wanting to think about Alison’s plan. “Good boy….” She then takes off her own shirt, revealing a skinny bra underneath that barely covered her. She follows it by taking off her pants, revealing her thong. “One step at a time….”

“Please….” She had to chuckle at his pleas as she licked her lips, locking her eyes on his brown ones.

“Your wish is in my command.” She then straddles herself on top of him; pushing her body against his, grinding as she may, following the movements she wanted, once again going for the kiss, deepening it against his lips. She kept the process going, as a small moan escaped her lips, before drawing back. “I can see why she likes you so much, and I can’t wait for that special moment….”

“I hate you….” Alison just laughs as she climbs off of him, putting her pants and shirt back on.

“You may say those words, but you were growing hard….” She then grabs the phone off of the table, making her way back out the back door, leaving him sitting there stunned.

Chase sits up in the bed, taking a deep breath as he feels the hot tears rolling down his cheeks. Running his hands through his hair, wiping it out of his face, he lets out a sigh as he glances at the time.

He then slowly stands up, quietly tip toeing through the room to not wake up Ryan or Erin as he makes his way out to the balcony. Slipping the door quietly shut, he leans over the rail, taking a deep breath. Trying to lose his thoughts in the smaller details of Ireland he knew would be one way to erase the thoughts on his mind.

He was set focused on the view until he heard the door behind him open, freezing a little as he watched Erin open it and join him on the balcony before closing it.

“Sorry if I woke you up,” he tells her as he keeps his eyes focused forward. “I tried to come out here quietly.”

“It’s okay Chase,” she comments as she walks over, leaning on the railing beside him. “I can never fully sleep through a night. I always wake up middle of the night, and either look out here or watch some TV before falling back asleep.” She takes a glance at him, noticing the emotions written on his face despite his ability to try and hide it. “Chase…”

“I’m fine Eri-”

“You can tell me if something is going on. You know that I trust you and I will hear you out no matter what it is.” Chase nods his head, accepting, knowing that already. That didn’t mean he wanted to talk about the topic.

“I don’t ever question that. I’ve known you too long to not.” She then places her hand lightly on top of his.

“Then talk to me, Chase. You need to get it off your chest. This doesn’t help you.” He then glances down, taking a deep breath.

“I had a nightmare, okay? I had a flashback to Alison being in my house, seducing me on my couch. Rather than doing the right thing and ignoring her advances, I accepted everything knowing that it was keeping Sarina safe.” He then takes another shaky deep breath. “I know what I did was what I needed to do in that situation as the number one thing was making sure Sarina didn’t get hurt. But it’s not lost on me that I basically cheated on her, betrayed her trust, let someone else get their hands on me.”

“You’re being too hard on yourse-”

“I know I am, and that’s what drives me crazy.” She then looks at him slightly confused. “Every bit of logic tells me that I did the right thing. Every person tells me that I did what I needed to given the situation. Alan says that I did the right thing to protect Sarina. Dad says that I was caught in a trap and manipulated by emotions. But here I stand, knowing that I was the one that accepted it knowing the circumstances.”

“So it’s convincing your heart that you did the right thing?” Chase nods his head.

“It’s gotten easier, but I still struggle with it at tim-”

“And can anybody blame you? This only happened a couple months ago, Chase. Heck, it’s still going on due to this lingering pregnancy and the trial. I know thousands of people that wouldn’t be how far along that you are in dealing with this. Give yourself some damn credit, Chase. You’re doing a heck of a job.” He then looks over at her.

“Do you really mean that?” She nods her head yes.

“Look at how you’ve dealt with the emotions. Look at how far along you are right now. Look at every single step that you’ve done to move forward. On top of that, you’ve handled being the center of the spotlight and all the pressure on you in the process without flinching one bit and showing that this is lingering for you. That takes a lot of strength to put on a face when you’re hurting inside.” She then glances back over the balcony. “I did that for a long time myself, so I know what you mean.”

“That’s why you took this vacation once you sorted everything out?” She nods her head yes.

“I needed some time to get away and give myself the time I needed.” She then looks back over at him. “That’s why I’m glad you agreed to come with Ryan. That’s why I’m going to tell you right now to not be afraid to ask for comfort, or help, or even admit that you need some more time. Take care of yourself.” He then glances down at his hands on the railing.

“I’m just worried when everything comes out. What is everyone going to think?” It was now her turn to look shocked.

“They’re going to admire your strength. They’re going to appreciate how strong you’ve been without showing signs of what happened. They’re going to admire you’re ability to speak up against her and make sure she goes down. Those who look up to you will multiply.” Chase smiles as he remembers the last round of advice with Alan on the similar topic.

“That’s the same thing that Alan sai-”

“It’s the truth, Chase. We wouldn’t lie to you.” He then glances over her, flashing his familiar smile.

“Thank you. Actually, it’s not a bad thing that you came out here now…” She then smiles as she keeps her eyes locked on him, before letting out a sigh as she looks back forward.

“I’ll always be here if you need a friend, Chase. Don’t ever lose that fact because I always want to be there for you.” She then takes a careful deep breath. “I’m also going to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sarina at the beginning, either. I actually wished that she’d fall off a cliff at one point.” Chase looks over really surprised.

“Seriously?” She nods her head yes.

“You can ask Emma.” Chase just shakes his head in disbelief. “I even remember hearing that you guys got engaged and I told her, ‘What the hell is that boy thinking?’ I could think of every single reason to be pissed off at her. But hearing how she’s been there for you, hearing how much she loves and cares about you, and hearing just the perfect ways that you guys to go together – I get it finally, and I’m glad that you found that. I’m truthfully happy for you, and I wish you the best for the future. I hope once you put this behind you, the pair of you can have a life filled with happiness.” Chase smiles back in return.

“That means a lot to me, Erin. I trust you in so many ways and hearing that you appreciate Sarina, I know I’m doing the right thing for certain.” She then nods her head slowly.

“Can I tell you something else without you getting angry or strange?” He nods his head accepting with a glance of confusion. “Ryan is nervous about me spending alone time with you, or calling out Sarina, or anything like that for a reason. I can admit it openly now to your face that I actually had a huge crush on you. Every time you’d hang out with Ryan, I purposely lingered around at some of those times just so I could be closer to you and see you.” Her cheeks start to go red.

“….and I asked you to the banquet…..” Her cheeks go a shade darker.

“I never really reacted much to you asking, knowing that it was more a friendly favor, but inside I was like a little kid screaming for candy. I just wanted the night to go perfectly because here I am getting the dream that I wanted. That’s why I ate up as much of that night as possible, including the dance together at the party afterwards. It meant everything to me, Chase.” She then takes a deep breath. “Maybe my discontent against Sarina was because I wanted that.”

“So why didn’t you say something then?” She then glances back out off the balcony.

“Because I saw the way you looked at her at the Snowball Derby about a year before she even drove for you, and I knew that you’d found your true love. I knew that I’d never get that in return and I didn’t want to see you settle just to make my dreams come true.” She then places her hand back on his. “Chase, you’ll always have a sweet spot in my heart and I’m always going to care about you. You’ll always be my number one crush, but I can stand here as the big girl and admit that you did the right thing for you. You found who you were meant to be with.”

“You’re going to find Mr. Right as well, Erin. You’re pretty special and any guy would be stupid to not go out with you.” She smiles back in return.

“I’m just glad that you’re not running away thinking I’m a crazy stalker.” He then wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“I could never run away from my best friend…”

Saturday, June 16 – Ireland

“So how long is this drive to Dublin?” Chase questions as he gets comfortable in the backseat.

“A couple hours if we were going to straight through,” Erin answers as she lets out a yawn from the passenger seat. “Instead, because we’re going to Pallas, it’ll take about four hours total driving-wise.”

“But it’s totally worth it based on the photos….” Erin nods her head as she gets comfortable herself.

“GPS will guide you boys there.” She then grabs her sweater and puts it over herself. “I’m going to catch a nap.” Chase wasn’t surprised based on their conversation mid-way through the night.

He then checked on his phone for the truck practice results – or any updates at all from Sarina – as Ryan focused on driving. Ryan kept glancing over at Erin, with the odd glance in the mirror at Chase. He had seen them on the balcony and couldn’t help but be curious.

“What did you and Erin discuss this morning?” Ryan asks once he was certain that she was asleep.

“I woke up middle of the night, and she offered a bit of comfort,” Chase brushes it off immediately. he wasn’t about to reveal the confession as he knew that Erin shared that in confidence. While Ryan was aware of the crush, he didn’t need to know that Chase now knew the full details.

“That was nice of her. I mean, she was always good at listening and helping. So, you had another bad dream?” Chase now wished they were talking about the crush instead.

“Yeah….” Chase shifts a little in the back. “I’d rather not talk about it, okay? I’m dealing with it and that’s all I want to leave it at. This weekend is a distraction, remember?” Ryan nods his head, accepting.

“I just realized that you guys were so close there – and if she makes things uncomfortable not realizing that it is because of your relationship with Sarina, feel free to say something.” Chase understood Ryan’s concern but he wasn’t bothered one bit. If there were any doubts, the morning conversation cleared that up.

“There shouldn’t be any problems, but sure – I’ll let you know.” Ryan then lets out a sigh.

“Have you heard anything much from the girls?” Chase shakes his head no as he looks back to his phone relived.

“Things are going great according to Sarina and they’re having fun, ready for a great day in corn country.” Chase then look back towards his phone checking out a post, though immediately looked up as they swerved to the right quick.

“What the hell Ryan?!?” Erin asks as she shoots up awake immediately.

“The tractor was in my lane and almost took us off the road!” Ryan shouts back in response as he keeps both hands solidly on the wheel. “Why is this a freaking single-lane road that they allow those wide-ass tractors on that take a lane and a half?” He then swerves to avoid another one. “See what I mean?”

“Are you sure you can trust that GPS?” Chase questions, as Erin grabs Ryan’s phone off the holder and looks over the map.

“Everybody said to use Waze for the best routes, and it does show us getting there in the best time compared to others,” she offers as she glances through the route. “Welcome to this area of Ireland – it’s single-lanes everywhere.”

“Do you want me to drive, Ryan?” Ryan then glances up at the mirror a little surprised.

“Who has a Cup Series win, Mr. Elliott?” Ryan questions back sticking his tongue out.

“I see how it goes,” Chase comments as Erin rolls her eyes. “Who has two XFINITY Championships, bitch?”

“Who actually has led laps this season and contended for wins?”

“I’m not the one who has been busted for speeding down pit road.”

“I’m not the one who has turned top-fives into barely top-15’s by the end of the da-”

“How about I just drive?” Erin interrupts them, now growing annoyed despite being amused at first. they both then look at her shocked, shaking their heads no. “Okay then…”

“This should be left to the professionals,” Chase offers as he gets back comfortable once again. “Just try to not use your Sonoma lessons here Blaney, okay?”

“That’s why I stay on the actual track unlike someone else in this car,” Ryan jabs back as Chase just rolls his eyes.

A couple more swerves later and the GPS showed they were only about a half hour out from landing at their destination. They all literally began counting down the minutes, with Chase even playing the role of the little asking ‘Are we there yet?’ every so often.

Only five minutes from their destination, the group was excited for the day of fun to come go-karting at one of the largest tracks ever. However, as they were set to pull off the crazy road, the skies opened up with an instant pouring rain.

“Now what are we supposed to do?” Ryan questions, feeling defeated immediately .

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 82: Ireland

Wednesday, June 13

Ryan glances over at Chase, letting out a chuckle, before getting comfortable in his seat.

“Comfy there?” He questions, earning a glance from Chase.

“Very actually,” Chase answers. “Don’t mock until you try it.” Ryan just chuckles once again.

“I’d rather not based on how strange that looks…”

“Looks don’t matter if you’re comfy for a six-hour flight.” Chase then sends one final text to Sarina before putting the phone away. “I still can’t believe you told Lindsay to take care of herself about 10 times before we left.”

“She’s pregnant, and I can’t help but worry about her. I want the best for that little bundle of joy, and you can’t blame me for caring…” Chase nods his head accepting.

“Are you sure you’re going to handle being away?”

“I know Lindsay has an eye on her, so that’ll help.” Ryan then glances over at Chase. “What about you?”

“She’s going to be distracted and enjoying the girl time that she’s been missing combined with racing that she won’t even notice.” Ryan knew that wasn’t the purpose of the question.

“What about you?” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing the direction Ryan was headed.

“I told Alan this, and I am going to tell you, too – I don’t need to be hove-”

“I heard about the nightmares. I saw the flashback before the pageant. I get that you want to move forward, and you don’t want reminders, but you’re still dealing with stuff.” Chase lets out a sigh.

“I’ll be fine, okay? Besides, isn’t that the purpose of this vacation?” Ryan nods his head.

Chase and Ryan walk through the airport, glancing each direction for the sight that they were waiting for.

“Ryan!!!” Erin immediately runs up to him, wrapping both arms around him.

“Hey,” Ryan says to his little sister as he gives her a hug. “How are you?”

“Absolutely amazing. As much as I miss you, Emma, and our parents, I am loving Ireland. I can’t wait to show you both around. But first – it’s just so great to see you!” She then gives him another hug.

“You obviously remember this guy, I hope…” Erin then glances over at Chase, and nods her head.

“How could I forget my banquet date?” She then gives Chase a hug. “It’s nice to see you, and how well you’re doing after everything. Ryan has been keeping me posted…” Chase lets out a sigh. “I didn’t mea-”

“No, it’s fine,” Chase cuts her off. “I just don’t want reminders and thoughts about it.” She then stands up straight.

“Then we won’t say a single word from here on out, okay?” He nods his head accepting. “Now when in Ireland, we must do as the Irish does and have a drink a pub. Shall we?” The group nods their head accepting.

Once making the trip into town with Erin at the wheel, she takes them to one of her favorite pubs to stop in at while visiting Galway, leading the boys inside.

After taking their seats and ordering a round of drinks, it was time to catch-up. Erin shared all of her adventures with friends since moving over there, assuring them both she’d show them all the highlights, while Ryan caught her up on the family business and everything that she would’ve needed to know.

With everything on the table, there was only one thing remaining….

“So I have some news that I need to tell you,” Ryan starts a little nervously as he taps his hands on the table.

“Do I want to know this news, Chase?” Erin questions and Chase nods his head, knowing where Ryan was going immediately. “He seems a little nervous…”

“He already told Emma and she maybe didn’t have the best reac-” Chase starts carefully, knowing a warning would hopefully lessen the blow if any.

“Oh so now I’m second rated now?” Ryan just rolls his eyes in response, as he takes a long sip of his glass.

“I wanted to wait and tell you in person,” he offers, earning a curious glance from her.

“Go on….” She encourages, eyes locked on her older brother.

“Lindsay is pregnant. We’re due for a baby in December.” Erin looks back shocked as she glances at Chase for assurance, before locking her eyes back on Ryan.

“I’m going to be an aunt for Christmas basically?” Ryan nods his head. “You and Lindsay met at the banquet, and only started seriously dating in February….”

“Yes, we’ve only been together four months, Erin. But I’m absolutely certain about her and our future together. I know that she’s the right gal for me as we just click amazingly well. It was love at first sight, and it has only grown from there. I know that we’re both going to be amazing parents and we can’t wait to raise this baby together and spend our lives together.” Erin smiles a little as the happiness on Ryan’s face immediately radiated off onto her.

“I’m surprised, honestly, but I’m happy and excited. I can see how much Lindsay means to you and where you see your future, and I’m also excited about being an aunt. I can’t wait to meet him or her.” Ryan smiles as it was nice to see the approval from her immediately. “I can guess that mom and dad were over the moon while Emma was concerned?”

“She expressed the same thing that you said initially, and then laid into me about making irresponsible decisions. She was also concerned, given the past for Sarina and Lindsay.” Erin glances at Chase at the mention of Sarina and takes a deep breath.

“Sarina has that same past, and look at how the past two years have worked out with Chase – they’re amazing and belong together. If they can overcome that, then what’s stopping you and Lindsay? I’m happy for you…” She then lifts her glass in toast. “Here’s to a new little boy joining our family!”

“Boy?” She nods her head as their glasses touch.

“I have a feeling I’m getting a nephew this winter.” She then glances over at Chase. “You’re quiet..”

“I was just letting Ryan share his news and you bask in the excitement,” Chase offers. “I’ve known for awhile and I told him immediately I was happy for him, but worried about the reaction he’d get in return. I’m glad you’re on his side.” Erin puts her hand on top of Chase’s.

“When someone believes in you from the start, it makes the world that much more easier to handle and tackle. You know there’s someone to depend on when the walls start to fall around you.” She then glances across the table at Ryan. “I could never leave my brother hanging.” She then returns her eyes back to Chase. “Just like even though I have no clue firsthand what Alison is like or what her motives are, but I believe you when you say that you didn’t sleep with her and you’re not the father of her forthcoming baby. It’s about that trust.”

“I appreciate that. Thank you.” Erin then takes a big sip of her glass, eyes locking on Ryan for a minute.

“I was actually surprised to hear that you and Sarina got into a bit of a fight over that news, and she hasn’t come to full grips yet.” It was now Chase’s turn to give Ryan a stern glance. He didn’t mind details shared since they’d come out eventually, but he wish a line was drawn in the process.

“She actually has now. It took some time, but she’s come around to believe what I was saying.” Erin then looks back over at Chase.

“I’m just surprised it took tim-”

“Complicated reason and situati-”

“You were adamant from the beginning so that should tell her someth-”

“She also felt that I was trying to prote-”

“You wouldn’t lie, Chase. I thought she learned that already.” Chase lets out a sigh as he didn’t want to get this far into the discussion or advanced, but there was no choice.

“She also just found out at that time she probably wouldn’t be able to carry a baby full term, Erin. She had a lot of her own emotions about her own chances at motherhood and just throwing that on her, I felt it would’ve been too much, so I originally hid the notion of Alison even being pregnant. Everything combined together and I can see why she wouldn’t believe me. Why would I tell her if I slept with someone else? Why would I encourage the thought of someone else giving me what she couldn’t when I expressed a desire at one point for that?” He then takes a deep breath, glancing down at the table immediately. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to just go off…”

“No, it’s okay…” Erin then places a hand on his shoulder. “I shouldn’t have pushed the issue with you, either. But now hearing that, and understanding your shoes, I get where she’s coming from. I also don’t even know what to say about the fact that you may not be able to have a family of your own one day. You’re great with kids.”

“We’re still waiting for a second opinion, and there’s options ranging from adoption to a surrogate.” Ryan then smiles a little.

“You’d make a great surrogate,” Ryan offers candidly, earning a stern glance from both Chase and Erin.

“That’d be a little awkward, all things considered,” Erin comments and Chase nods his head in agreement. “Since you guys are here to forget about all that for a week and have some fun, let’s try talking about something else. Say, let me discuss my plans for you both…” Chase and Ryan glance at each other concerned.

“Should we be scared?” Erin just rolls her eyes as she pulls out a notebook and map.

The rest of the night went smoothly as the plans fell together perfectly with excitement all around, followed by the usual banter that they normally shared when together.

Though as they left the pub later that night, Ryan couldn’t help but pull Erin aside about the comments earlier.

“I told you from day one that Chase will always have a sweet spot in my heart and I’ll always care about him,” Erin starts. “I’m just looking out for him, Ryan. Relax….”

Thursday, June 14

The boys head outside, following Erin as they tried to remember what she had put on the list of things to do.

“So who believes in Santa Clause?” Erin asks as the boys glance at each other confused.

“Erin, do you not remember the discussion with our parents?” Ryan wonders earning a chuckle from Chase.

“Yes, Ryan, I remember when my heart got broken because someone told me that daddy bought me the wrong dolly when I said that Santa messed up.” Chase glances over at Ryan a little surprised and Ryan lets out a sigh. “This is why having siblings close to your age is not a good idea. At least for you, both Brittany and Starr would be old enough to keep it a secret.”

“I learned a young age, though, when I told Santa that I needed new tires for the go-kart rather than other gifts,” Chase reveals, as Erin just smiles.

“Ah of course that would do it,” Erin comments. “See, Ryan spoiled it for both me and Emma.” Ryan makes a mocking face behind her which earns a chuckle from Chase. “Can I smack him now or later?”

“Whenever you please.” He then puts his sunglasses on as they head down the street. “Now since we’ve got sunshine for a change in this cloudy city, enlighten us…”

“We’re going to St. Nicholas’ Church.” Chase nods his head accepting as they make the walk down the street. “It’s not far from the hotel, and it’s a signature spot. I figured we’d do the tourist thing before a fun thing.”

“I didn’t come all this way for you to give me faith and a church,” Ryan argues as Erin just rolls his eyes.

“To appreciate the city, you must appreciate the artwork of the past,” Erin offers, earning a curious glance from both men.

“Just go with it, Ryan….” Chase encourages as they walk down Market Street.

The church, built in the 14th century, wasn’t a full stroll down the street. While not much for history of churches, there was an appreciation in knowing the church was built in dedication to St. Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of children, better known as Santa Claus.

“Are those gargoyles?” Ryan offers as he glances at the exterior of the church, earning a nod from the other two. “No other church has those….”

“And suddenly he’s interested,” Erin whispers earning a chuckle from Chase. “That’s one of the things that makes this church unique and why it stands out. I know like you said you’re not here as a traditional tourist and such, but you can’t come to Galway and skip it.”

It wasn’t long before the group was inside, taking a tour of the layout, which included various tombs and a reader’s desk. It was also neat in looking at the list of people who worshipped there, including Christopher Columbus.

“Feel special now, Ryan?” Chase questions as Ryan just flips him off. “That’s rude..”

The afternoon plan for the boys was better, as Erin knew that she’d get them interested immediately. Considering it was also sunny for once rather than cloudy, that was an added bonus.

She knew they both liked to go for decent bike rides and jogs, and there was no better spot to do that than Salthill Beach. Known for its high standard of environmental quality and safety, it was one of the nicest spots to relax in Galway, whether swimming, being a beach bum, or working out. That was easily thanks to the surroundings, from a scenic view back to the city to the color of the water.

“This is the perfect spot for a sunset,” Erin comments after they had gotten done a nice jog to look around everywhere. “Whenever my world feels like it’s too stressful or I’ve just had enough – whether missing everybody or whatever, this is where I come. I can sit here, watch that sunset, and just bask in the glory. It really takes me back and makes me be thankful for what I have..” She then glances at the boys as she gets comfy on the beach blanket. “Just like I’m thankful right now that you both chose to vacation here and spend time with me. I’m thankful for a very supportive big brother, and also an amazing best friend for life.”

“I’m glad you’re a part of my life too,” Chase offers with a smile. “I didn’t realize how much I needed this until now, laying here, thinking…” He then takes a deep breath. “No matter how crazy the world gets, I always have my friends, my girl, and my family.”

“Alison can do whatever she wants, but nothing will change that if they’re truly loyal to you, and if you remain strong.” He nods his head accepting.

“Don’t be questioning how strong he is now….” Ryan offers as Erin glances over at him.

“I wouldn’t be so quick to past judgment over there. just promise me no jumping out of planes anymore.” Ryan chuckles as he looks over at Chase.

“I already made Chase promise me that we’ll forget that activity.” Ryan glances back out over the water. “I may pick on you, Erin, but thank you for bringing us here. I agree with Chase – I didn’t realize how much I needed this time.”

“I never want to forget this view when I come home,” Erin continues. “I’ve told myself to memorize it. That way when I’m home and everything is chaotic, I can take a deep breath and come right back to here. When I leave Ireland and come home, I don’t want to lose this. I want to make sure that I come back here again.”

“Can we make a pack that we’ll come here again, together?” Chase questions and Erin nods her head in agreement as the three join hands.

“Heck, next time we’ll bring Lindsay and Sarina, too…” Ryan was a little surprised based on Erin comments in relation to Sarina, but was glad that she was opening up to respecting everyone.

Once the sun had set and group agreed hunger was on the horizon, Erin took them to another one of the pubs she enjoyed visiting on a regular basis. The group immediately set forth on ordering some food, with their drinks.

“One Guinness beer please,” Ryan orders as he places the menu down after everybody had ordered their food.

“You never drink Guinness,” Chase comments as Ryan looks over at him.

“Irish brings out a different side of me…” Chase just rolls his eyes remembering the trip to Amsterdam and those adventures.

“I’ve never tried a Guinness,” Erin then reveals, earning a surprised glance from both men.

“Seriously?” They both question and she nods her head.

“How can you spend months in Ireland and not try a Guinness?” Ryan questions and she shrugs her shoulders.

“She even suggested a tour of the plant – but yet has no idea and why they’re so good,” Chase adds as Ryan just shakes his head in disgust.

“Make that three glasses, please. She’s not getting out of here without a sampling.” The waiter heads off as Ryan just continues to look at Erin surprised.

“I can’t believe that we got ID’d.” Ryan then looks back towards Chase.

“It’s nice to blend in for a change and just let loose without any regard,” he offers and Chase nods his head in agreement.

“Should I worry?” Erin questions and both men shake their heads no. “Can I trust that?”

“We went through Amsterdam and didn’t get arrested,” Chase reminds her as she nods her head, having heard about those adventures.

“So do I get to see those two left feet turn into a pair of tap dancing heroes?” Chase just chuckles as he gives her a wink. Ryan could only think of every nerve in the process, knowing the feelings Erin still had.

It didn’t take long for the waiter to return, placing three glasses before them.

“It smells good,” Erin comments as she takes her glass, taking a wiff.

“Just drink it already,” Ryan encourages as she rolls her eyes.

“Here goes nothing….” She then takes a sip, smiling immediately. “This is good.”

“Better than Heinkenen?” Chase wonders, knowing her drink of choice.

“Not quite, but it’s a very good substitute,” Erin answers. “You still like your whiskey?”

“You can’t beat a glass of Jack.” Erin chuckles a little, followed by holding her glass in the air.

“Here’s to a week of adventure, laughs, joy, and a good ‘ol distraction. Let the fun begin!”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 81: “Do yourself a favor and take a step back”

Friday, June 8 – Michigan International Speedway

“How close were we from making it to the next round?” Alan questions as he looks at the monitor, seeing they ended up qualifying 13th.

“Hundreths of a second,” Josh answers. “That little bobble that Chase talked to you about – cut half of that out and we’re in.” Alan shakes his head in disbelief as he glances over at his driver.

“We’re getting where we want to be…” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“I’m sorr-” Chase starts and Alan gives him a stern glance.

“Don’t give me that apology shit,” he cuts him off. “You were driving your ass off as hard as you could. It’s not your fault. I missed the set-up a little so I’m to blame just as much. We’ll get there.” Chase nods his head as Alan walks over, placing an arm around his shoulders. “You believe me?”

“Absolutely.” Alan smiles a little as they watch the final round of qualifying start.

“You’re quiet….” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances over his shoulder.

“Why can’t everybody just let it go? Everybody knows what happened, but yet they’re on my case about every single little feeling.” Alan glances over at him a little confused. “My parents keep asking about how I am doi-”

“They care abou-”

“You keep aski-”

“I care abou-”

“Jimmie pushed to find out more information after hearing that I had a small nightmare while watching Lydia.” Alan’s jaw now drops in shock. “I flashed back to the hotel room, woke up a little spooked. She caught me with tears rolling down my cheeks. I told her it was a bad dream and she offered to comfort me. She then told Jimmie, and Jimmie asked me about it.”

“What did you say?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks back out to the track.

“I told him it was about Alison, which he understood because of everything and offered to be there if I need a friend.” Chase looks over at Alan. “He doesn’t know about everything she did. I can’t bring myself to say oh yeah, I had a nightmare because this chick sexually assaulted me.”

“Chase…..” Chase takes a deep breath.

“Everybody is going to find out, though. Whennver they finally set the date and we do the trial, I am going to have to say everything. Everybody is going to know what happened. Then what?” Alan knew it was a touchy subject as he thought over the best wording to say.

“They’ll understand everything that you’ve been dealing with. They’ll have sympathy for your reactions, behavior, everything that you’ve been saying. They’ll also know to give you space knowing it’s a touchy subject. Some people may even view you as a hero for being strong.” Alan then places a hand on his shoulder. “Nobody knows how everybody will react and what is going to happen. Honestly? That doesn’t matter, Chase. Those who know you will be there to support you. Those who want to do whatever else can kiss your ass because at the end of the day, all that matters is you.”

“I know, but it’s hard….” Alan nods his head sympathically.

“I know Sarina is racing next weekend in Iowa, but it’s your off-weekend. You’ve been through hell and back these past couple of months, balancing your schedule, racing, and Alison’s whole list of shit. Do yourself a favor and take a step back, take some time to catch your breath, and relax. Unplug from everything and try to have a bit of relaxation and fun. Can you promise me that?” Chase smiles, nodding his head yes. “And if you need anything while she’s in Texas, don’t hesitate to call me – no matter the time of night.”

“I’ll be fine. My little angel is coming back to stay tonight.” Alan then looks over puzzled. “Lydia loves spending time with me, and Jimmie says if it helps, he’s willing to let her spend the weekend at my coach.”

“Children can be a bless – shit, I didn’t mea-”

“Children can be a blessing in the happiness that they can bring and distraction. You can say it, Alan. We’ve talked about this. I’ve come to grips….” Alan nods his head, accepting.

“Just don’t keep distracting yourself that you don’t face your feelings.”

After a quick chat and snack, things were starting to get settled in for the night for Chase and Lydia. Knowing there was no way he was missing the truck race, he had convinced her that they curl up in the big bed in the motorcoach and watch it together.

“Sarina?” Lydia questions and Chase nods his head as they get comfy with a bucket of popcorn.

“Yeah, we’re going to watch Sarina race on the big TV,” Chase answers as she smiles. “Now, what number is Sarina?”

“Eighteen!” Chase looks over impressed as he didn’t expect her to know that.

“You’re pretty smart, huh?” Lydia just keeps smiling in return.

Starting third, she was strong through the first portion, running in the top-three through the first stage until a caution with 10 laps to go. Rudy pulled the strategy card, bringing her down pit road rather than keeping the position for stage points. Restarting about 14th, she crossed the line in 12th.

Chase had expected Rudy to leave her out and gain back the lost ground, but instead he made the decision to pit her once again.

“What the hell?” He questions out loud confused as Lydia glances over.

“Bad word Chasey!” She says as he immediately covers his mouth, repeating what he said back to himself.

“Sorry. Guess I’m just a little nervous tonight..” Lydia then grabs a handful of popcorn before cuddling into his side.

“She will win!” Chase smiles as he was certainly enjoying the vote of confidence.

Restarting from the seventh position, she didn’t make up much ground, only moving up to fifth and staying there until a caution with six laps to go in the stage – which puzzled Chase about the initial strategy even more. Of course once again, Rudy made the decision to bring her down pit road rather than get the stage points, setting her back to restart seventh and finish sixth in the second stage.

“There we go….” He lets out as Rudy left her out at the end of the second stage, allowing her to move up to the second position for the restart.

“She win?” Lydia asks, eyes half-opening back up as Chase glances down at her.

“It’s not over yet sweetheart. Listen, close your eyes and I promise I’ll tell you what happened in the morning.” He then wraps his arm back around her as she grabs her stuffed animal, cuddling it as she closes her eyes once again.

Restarting second, Sarina was unable to hold the track position, dropping back to fifth – which was still decent considering the older tires. The next caution flew at 60 laps to go, which was just outside of the fuel window.

“Of course….” He lets out as he watches them come down pit road, with her set to restart fifth for the restart.

He knew if he was at the track sitting on the pit box, this would be the time that he’d be trying to peak at the numbers being written down by the engineers for fuel mileage. Instead, he was stuck in a bed with his little buddy, fingers crossed, hoping that they could make it on gas.

Over the course of the run, his nerves were shot as it seemed every thought and pit road report had him knowing that they’d be outta gas in the final laps, and stuck with a poor finish. However, his nerves got a sigh of relief when the caution flew with 19 laps to go.

Rudy brought her down pit road, giving her four tires, setting her up to restart eighth. Unfortunately, it probably would’ve been better to stay out – like eventual race winner, or get two tires as making up ground never happened, but rather falling back to 10th.

“Come on Rudy….” He says getting discouraged with the lack of adjustments. It almost seemed a repeat of several other weeks this year where they ran great the first two stages, and then just fell off the final section.

The final yellow flag flew with seven laps to go, with Rudy bringing her back down pit road. Restarting from 12th, she was only able to make two spots, finishing 10th.

He grabbed his phone off of the nightstand, sending her a quick note of encouragement on the night and a I love you, I miss you message. He then put his phone up, getting comfortable with Lydia, letting his eyes drift close for a good night’s sleep.

Saturday, June 9 – Michigan International Speedway

After a crazy hectic Friday, it was nice to have a relaxing Saturday ahead of him, with just a single two hour practice to make sure they got the handling right on the car for Sunday.

As they had been doing, solid progress was seen throughout the session with Chase feeling comfortable and feeling it was something they could work with, despite only being 17th quickest on the speed chart.

Though once the meeting was done and his mind was left to wander, he couldn’t help but reflect back to Alan’s comments from the previous day about taking some time to himself. He knew the crew chief was right as certainly the weight on his shoulders felt like it was getting heavier with each passing day.

“Do I want to know?” He hears, snapping him out of his thoughts as Ryan walks into the garage. “You looked like you were deep in thought.”

“Nah, it was nothing,” Chase brushes it off immediately but Ryan knew better than that. However, he wasn’t there to push the issue – but rather offer the alternative.

“So Lindsay and I finally told Emma that she’s pregnant.” Chase glances over a little surprised. “It went just as lovely as you’d probably expect knowing Emma. While she’s ready to spoil the child and be the greatest aunt ever, she immediately pulled me aside to question Lindsay’s intentions and behavior.”

“I’m not surprised, Ryan….” Ryan just lets out a sigh as he leans back against the pit box beside him.

“I’m actually not either. I tried to explain how we casually met and we’re working at getting closer and then it just…well, it just happened. She told me that I should’ve been more careful, I should know how to wear gloves, and everything else in between. She’s still concerned, too, despite everything we’ve said, about Lindsay’s history and intentions due to Chris, Bethany and everything…” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances towards the ground.

“I’m sorry that you’re faced with that, man. I know what it feels like because I heard the same thing from my sister, too. Brit was ready to throw Sarina out the back door at dinner – if not have it secretly kidnapped on a mission.” Ryan chuckles a little, not surprised. “But hey, she grew to tolerate and like her over time. Give it some time…”

“I’m trying – but you know how much Emma’s approval means to me.” Chase nods his head, understanding. He knew how close Ryan was with both his sisters.

“So have you told Erin yet?” Ryan shakes his head no.

“This isn’t something that you tell someone over the phone, man, and she’s still away in Ireland. Speaking of which….” Chase wasn’t sure he wanted to go this direction. “Let’s just be honest and state this openly. You’ve had a crazy hectic past couple of months and an escape from reality would be welcoming. I also like to have my time to get away and recharge during these breaks. We talked about this last year when we were there that we wanted to go back and see more of Irela-”

“No, no – no way….” Ryan looks on surprised. “You and Lindsay can just pick up and run away but Sarina still has her schedu-”

“I talked to her about this already.” Chase looks over, jaw dropping immediately. “Lindsay doesn’t want to travel much due to being pregnant and sickness and all that jazz. We know Sarina can’t go because of her race in Iowa, but she agrees with me – you need some time to get away, forget about everything for a couple days, and have some fun. Lindsay is going to stay with her and go to Iowa, as long as you agree to come with me to Ireland.”

“Seriously?” Ryan nods his head. “So you put all these pieces together without consulting me first?”

“I figured I’d take all the hard work and planning out of the equation because this is supposed to be a little getaway for you. At the same time, I can meet up with Erin and tell her the great news.” Chase smiles a little.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing Erin’s reaction….” Ryan then smiles as he knew that meant he was warming up to the idea.

“We always do a vacation at this time. You got to say yes…” Chase glances over. “Well, you could say no – but everybody may kick your ass. Besides, you have to admit that I am right.”

“Alan mentioned the same thing to me yesterday – make sure to take time for yourself, even with Sarina’s schedule.”

“So is that a yes?” Chase had been looking forward to Ireland, and he had to admit that some time away was exactly what the doctor ordered. While having comfort from everyone was nice, the time away would probably do more good than he probably realized right now. He also knew that the girls would enjoy their own time to themselves with how hectic everything had been, and there was no fear with Alison locked up now.

“Let’s go have some fun!” Ryan lets out a small cheer, immediately pulling his phone out to send a text of approval to Erin, Sarina and Lindsay.

Sunday, June 10 – Michigan International Speedway

Chase scrolls through his twitter feed, letting out a sigh as he glances back up towards the sky. They may say it’s clearing, but the sky and drops of rain set to fall, combined with the radar said otherwise.

Why couldn’t NASCAR just admit it?

His eyes return back to his phone, as another sigh escaped his lips. Rain delays sucked, but they even sucked worse without Sarina there.

He was actually surprised that she hadn’t made it to the track yet. He knew she stayed in Texas to watch the IndyCar race last night and was flying out on Sunday morning – and he had gotten an update that she had landed, but that didn’t explain the fact that she hadn’t made it to the track yet.

“Where are you?” He asks himself, stopping every urge to send her a panic message and see where she was. While it felt like hours since the update, it’d only been two – and he knew traffic was a bitch on raceday.

“Where is who?” He hears, and a smile comes to his face immediately, as he glances up above his phone. “Hey babes…” She then leans down, placing a kiss on his lips.

“Hey…” She then sits down beside him on the pavement.

“So why are we camping out by the car?” He just shrugs his shoulders. “Was someone feeling a little lonely?”

“I missed you, okay?” He then looks over into her blue eyes. “And I know I am going to miss you this upcoming week…” He then kisses her lips.

“I am going to miss you, too, but I also agree with Ryan. You need to do something for yourself. If this is the right therapy and gives you that escape you need, then I can handle it. We can always text each other and facetime, right?” He nods his head in agreement.

“I almost said no because I knew I’d miss you so much….” She then smiles a little.

“I almost told Ryan that he was full of shit for asking you. But then I realized he was right, and I wouldn’t mind some girl time. The fact that Lindsay and I haven’t gotten to hang out at all for a couple of months now is a shock.”

“That’s because of me…” She then shrugs her shoulders.

“I’m not complaining, though. I wouldn’t take back all the time that I spent taking care of you, Chase. You needed that comfort, and I promised you I’d give you every bit of that because I can’t ever make up for what you did for me.”

“I appreciate it.” She then leans over to glance at his phone, and she does, the skies open up, soaking them both immediately. They both laugh, glancing back and forth, seeing as her retro Chase Elliott t-shirt and jeans were soaked right through to go with his firesuit. “I’m glad that I asked for two of these firesuits now…”

“Come on…” She then gets up, grabbing his hand as they run off for shelter by the team pit box.  “I have to say that clings to you very nicely when it’s soaked…” She then wraps an arms around him, with her hands immediately finding their way down to his butt cheeks. “And you’re probably going to need some help changing out of it.”

“The same way that I believe these jeans won’t slide off so easily…” He then leans in, bringing his lips to hers, as he pushes back up against the pit box. “I missed you so much.”

“I missed you, too.” She accepts every inch of the kiss, not moving her hands one bit from his butt. “Clyde…”

“Trailer?” She nods her head without a single word as they trek through the rain, heading inside, with the lounge door closing immediately, with the lock flicked as he pinned her back against the wall.

“Like I said, you’re going to need help of that…” Her hands work their way to the zipper of his firesuit, as he runs his fingertips along the waistline of her jeans.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 78: The Charlotte Double

Thursday, May 24 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Chase makes his way through the Cup Series garage stall, sharing a couple quick laughs with some of the crew members. So far, it was a good day – even if it was busy. He had put himself third in the Cup practice, and was sixth in the second XFINITY practice. With another practice to get a little more comfortable with the GMS Racing guys and package, he felt better about their chances.

Though when the session had ended, he had realized he left his phone back in the Cup Series stall, which is where he had returned to. Picking up and seeing a couple notifications, he quickly scrolled through the messages. He skipped a few as he read through the simple ones, before going back to the others.

There was one message that he had chosen to leave to the end, not really interested in it as he didn’t need that right now. However, with everything else checked and time on his side, his eyes found his way back to it.

“I just wanted to let you know that the courts have found Alison mentally instable – surprise, surprise,” he reads and rolls his eyes. “The court evaluation found that, but yet a trial still needs to be fully conducted to determine what happens with her moving forward and the fact there are outstanding charges. I can tell you with confidence the list of guilty pleas would have her away for a long time, but we also know there’s a slew of non-guilty pleas. It’ll be up to both sides whether to pursue or not – your call. Either way, you will need to testify about what happened and your relationship with her. I’ll keep you updated.”

He lets out a long sigh as he closes the message, just shaking his head.

Two steps forward, one step back.

He had began to find his footing moving forward, finding ways to reach into those emotions and do certain things without a single reminder of her background. But yet, he needed to relive every single detail to a bunch of a strangers.

He remembered the first court date and how sick he had gotten thinking about everything – and here he had to face her again.

There was also the fact that the paternity test still loomed ahead, impossible until July, meaning that there wasn’t a hint of this going away until then.

How was he supposed to move forward with all these reminders?

“Chase?” He hears and takes a deep breath as he glances over his shoulder, watching Alan make his way over. There was no sense hiding the emotions as it was written all over his face.

“No matter what, I can’t escape this…” he lets out as he hands his phone over to the crew chief, letting him read the text message that was attached.

“So we know she’s insane and should be locked away, but regardless whether you pursue the other charges or not you still need to testify and face her?” Chase slowly nods his head. “And you’re scared….”

“You saw what happened last time. I froze up, I started shaking, I went into a panic and I threw up every single thing that I had in my stomach – and that was sitting there listening. What will happen once I am up on that stand and have to recount every sick disgusting detail? What will happen when I remind myself of every hand she laid on me, of how she followed me across the country, and how she is using this pregnancy from someone else to manipulate my life?” Without saying a word, Alan reaches over, wrapping an arm around his shoulders.

“You’re strong. You have Sarina, myself, your parents, Ryan, Jordan, all these guys – you’ll be fine. You’ll get through it, and kick ass while doing it.” Chase then glances over at Alan.

“I just want it to be over. I thought this week I was getting a glimpse of that with the time I spent with Sarina, forgetting every single thing that Alison did for a while. But yet, here I am, once again….”

“It’s going to take time. I know you’re going to get sick of hearing this, but it’s going to take time. She’s tormented you since January – last year, too, actually. Think about all the time that she’s had to lay her fingerprints on your soul. It takes time to let all that pain go. You’re doing good, though. I can see the signs of things getting better. Sarina sees the signs.”

“Thanks…..”

“You’re going to be okay. Say, why don’t you forget about this and go have some fun? XFINITY practice is soon and I see you have a fast car there.” Chase smiles as the confidence factor was always there with that.

“I may even like those guys more than you…” Alan looks on shocked as Chase walks away. Chase then stops and glances back. “You know that’s impossible, right?”

“Better be…”

Alex Bowman looks down pit road with a bit of surprise as he sees Chase walking towards him, twirling the wedge wrench in his hands.

“Firing the guys just like that?” Alex comments and Chase laughs as he sits down beside him.

“Maybe I could make the car better on used tires than they can,” Chase replies as Alex lets out a sigh.

“Hey, you at least made it to the second round. I qualified 27th. Who does that?” Chase glances over at him. “Yeah, okay, I did…”

“So how do you ninth in the first round to 22nd in the second?” Alex shakes his head in disbelief. “And Jimmie isn’t even better, either. Maybe I could use this to unlock some secrets from Kyle and Kevin.”

“Maybe you could just get your girlfriend to do the dirty work for you?” Chase laughs as he glances up at pit road where Sarina and Sam were talking. “There’s got to be perks to dating Kyle’s driver.”

“Trust me, she keeps those competition secrets locked up pretty good. She won’t even tell me her late model secrets at times.” Alex was now surprised as he looks in the same direction.

“You’re probably feeling spoiled in having her at the track this weekend. What are you going during the summer?” Chase shrugs his shoulders. He actually felt some nerves on that given the past couple of month’s events.

“That’s why they invented phones, Alex. Do you know what a phone is?” Alex rolls his eyes. “If I could just get more security off of turn four, I think I’ll be decent for Sunday.”

“I need security all over the place. I told Greg all day that the car was loose and it seems no matter what he does, it doesn’t work. I almost want to ask for the package from last week to come back.” Chase smiles as that had worked out well for both of them.

“It’ll be interesting to see what NASCAR decides to do with it. I just feel that we seem to be getting closer, and then wham – we’re back out in left field again. I know teams struggle, but this is a little ridiculous for us.” Alex nods his head in agreement.

“The engine package seems to be a bit better, though. We just need to get a handle – and in your case, as the tires fall off. Looking at your telemetry, I think you overdrove the one cor-”

“Trying to make up time due to slipping sideways before that. Good observation, though.” Chase then stands up. “Well, I better return this to the guys before they send out a search party. We’ll figure it out. By the way, the GMS guys are fun. You’ll enjoy your couple of races.”

“XFINITY Series racing is always fun. Have fun tomorrow.” Chase gives him a simple nod back in return before heading back up pit road.

Saturday, May 26 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

With having finished final practice in 12th, it was now time to focus back on the XFINITY Series car and the race. Given the solid practices and qualifying effort, he was looking forward to putting together a good day.

Everything started off smoothly, as he was third at the end of the first stage. He ended up slipping back to seventh by the end of stage two, but the team was still confident in their run for the final part of the race.

Unfortunately, they never got to see where they stacked up as there’d be a gear issue, sending Chase to the garage early.

“That’s just how she goes, right?” Chase questions as he leans in and kisses Sarina. “We had a good car. We’ll get them next week at Michigan.”

“I have no doubt in my mind about that,” she replies, as she lets him go. She watches as he goes over and thanks the guys for the opportunity, before returning and taking her hand as they leave the garage together.

“Are you coming tonight?” She then lets out a sigh. She wasn’t looking forward to seeing a bunch of girls in bathing suits.

“I don’t know…” Chase glances over at her.

“You know that no matter what beauty walks on the stage, you’re always number one in my eyes.” She then chuckles a little as her cheeks turn red.

“Nice try there, playboy. That was good…” He laughs as he pulls her close.

“Unlike some guys, though, I mean it.” He then kisses her neck lightly. “I could prove it to you later, too.” She found herself growing a little excited on the thought of that. “Besides, the star of the show isn’t the girls – but rather Jake Owen. You can’t tell me that you’re going to miss the afterparty.” She then glances over at him, knowing she couldn’t pass up that offer. Jake was always a good singer to listen to and watch perform.

“I have to make sure the ladies behave, right?” He smiles as they reach the motorcoach, going inside to get changed.

Saturday, May 26 – Hooters Pageant

Chase stands back stage, leaning back against the wall, as he lets out a sigh.

“Well well, he’s here….” A voice is heard through the room, causing Chase to practically jump out of his skin as his eyes turn towards the source.

“What the hell?” He questions at the sight before him.

“Do you like the costume change?” Alison licks her lips, as she pulls the tiny strap of her pink bra to the side a little, allowing more of her breast to show. Below that, the lining of her lace thong could be seen as she laid spread out on the bed. “I told you I’d see you later.”

“Please leave, please…” Chase walks past her, opening the drawer and grabbing the small things that were left in the night table. He throws them in the bag, before walking into the bathroom.

“Oh come on, Chase. We both know that you could use some entertainment before you head back out on the road. Everybody deals with stress – it’s all about letting it go in the right way. Come on…”

“Chase?” Chase snaps out of his thoughts as he sees Ryan standing there before him.

“Hey, you made it,” Chase says trying to stay cool as Ryan watches him confused.

“Yeah, of course – but are you okay?” Chase nods his head as he takes a mouthful of the water, hoping it would calm every sense he had.

“You don’t need to worr-”

“Everything with Alison began at the pageant last year, right?” Chase’s breath hitches in his throat at Ryan’s realization. “You had a flashback to that, didn’t you?”

“Ryan, I am going to be fine tonight. You don’t need to start worrying about me. If it was at the same venue, I may have said something – but I’m fine.” Ryan nods his head, accepting, but couldn’t help but feel some nerves.

“I believe you, but if you need a friend, I’m here.” Chase couldn’t deny accepting that offer.

“She tried to make me sleep with her. She snuck into my hotel room and led me on, but that didn’t get nowhere as I left. She then sent a photo of her in the room secretly to Sarina in hopes that it’d cause issues. There was some tension, but Sarina saw the truth.  From there, you know what happened….”

“That’s why I can understand if you’re a little caught off-guard right now, and I offered to be here for you if needed.” Ryan also couldn’t help but wonder about one other thing, though, and it had bugged him since he was sitting in the court room that afternoon.

“You’re looking at me funny, though….” Ryan wanted to ask so badly, but didn’t want to hit a sensitive nerve. However, they were best friends – they could always talk about anything and everything.

“Let’s just drop it for now, okay?” Chase crosses his arms, seeing right through that.

“You want to know if I ended up sleeping with her. You want to know if she’s pregnant with my child. You want to know the sexual assault clai-”

“Chas-”

“Ryan, I swear to anybody and everybody, that I did not sleep with her. She led me on every which way possible for sex, but I never gave in that far. We did not have sex and she’s not pregnant with my child. She kissed me, she touched me, she grabbed me – that’s it.” Chase feels his emotions beginning to boil over as he glances down, taking a couple deep breathes.

“Chase…” Ryan walks over, placing a hand on his shoulder. “That’s why you’ve been so quiet….”

“Alan knows, Jordan knows, Sarina knows, and my parents know what happened. I couldn’t bring myself to say it.” He then glances back up at Ryan. “It still bugs me right now. I still feel sick over it. I still feel like as if I cheated on Sari-”

“You didn’t do it on purpo-”

“But I still let another woman kiss me. She said it herself in court that I agreed to it, and she was right. I agreed so they’d keep Sarina safe.”

“That’s why Sarina isn’t mad at you, because she understands. Chase, you did nothing wrong man. I would’ve done the same thing in your shoes. I feel terrible as heck that you’ve had to endure thi-”

“I feel terrible as heck that you decided to fly-”

“And I have no regrets. Actually, I’m glad that I was there. It would’ve been worse if you’d been totally by yourself. At least with a friend, we each could look out for each other.” Ryan then takes a deep breath as he glances out to see if they were ready for them yet.

“Does Sarina believe you about the baby?” Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“She’s argued with me about it both ways. She was angry when the thought occurred because she can’t carry a baby full-term. She was upset to see that happen. However, hearing my side, she’s beginnings to see it may not be true.” Ryan glances back at him.

“I can’t express the excitement that Lindsay and I am having right now in knowing a little piece of us is coming. At first, I was scared and shocked – but I can’t describe the excitement right now. Learning that you and Sarina may never get that, it breaks my heart for you guys. I’m sorry…” Chase takes a deep breath, having toyed with the emotions back and forth about that for awhile.

“We still have a second opinion, and other options. I’m not writing it off yet…” The pair then cut off conversation as they watched one of the event leaders come back and motion to them everything was going to get started.

“Are you sure you can do this?” Chase nods his head in response as he leads Ryan out to where the judge’s table was.

The rest of the night went smoothly, as they were able to make their way through the rounds easily and everybody ended up agreeing at the end of the event as to who was named the next Miss. Hooters.

Once the event was complete, Chase and Sarina reunited back together, meeting up with Ryan and Lindsay, set to take in the full night of Jake Owen performing. It also didn’t take them long to start singing songs together.

A full moon shinin’ bright
Edge of the water, we were feelin’ alright
Back down a country road
The girls are always hot, and the beer is ice cold

Cadillac, horns on the hood
My buddy Frankie had his dad hook him up good
Girls smile when we roll by
They hop in the back, and we cruise to the river side

Never gonna grow up (Whoa-oh)
Never gonna slow down (Whoa-oh)
We were shinin’ like lighters in the dark
In the middle of a rock show (Whoa-oh)
We were doin’ it right (Whoa-oh)
We were comin’ alive (Whoa-oh)
Yeah, caught in a southern summer, barefoot, blue jean night

Blue eyes and auburn hair
Sittin’ lookin’ pretty by the fire in a lawn chair
New to town, and new to me
Her ruby red lips was sippin’ on sweet tea
Shot me in love like a shootin’ star
So, I grabbed a beer and an old guitar
Then we sat around till the break of dawn
Howlin’ and singin’ our favorite song

Never gonna grow up (Whoa-oh)
Never gonna slow down (Whoa-oh)
We were shinin’ like lighters in the dark
In the middle of a rock show (Whoa-oh)
We were doin’ it right (Whoa-oh)
We were comin’ alive (Whoa-oh)
Yeah, caught up in a southern summer, barefoot, blue jean night

Whoa-oh, never gonna grow up, ha
Never gonna slow down
We were shinin’ like lighters in the dark
In the middle of a rock show (Whoa-oh)
We were doin’ it right (Whoa-oh)
We were comin’ alive (Whoa-oh)
Yeah, caught in a southern summer, barefoot, blue jean night

Barefoot, blue jean night (Whoa-oh)
Barefoot, blue jean night (Whoa-oh)
Barefoot, blue jean night (Whoa-oh)
Barefoot, blue jean night (Whoa-oh)
Barefoot, blue jean night (Whoa-oh)
Barefoot, blue jean night

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 73: “Not Guilty or Guilty?”

Saturday, May 5 – Dover International Speedway

Chase glances over at her, smiling, as she just rolls over onto her stomach.

“So how are you feeling this morning?” He questions as he gives her a little kiss.

“Better than I thought I would be,” she answers. “I mean, I’m not sore. I guess your massage did the trick, huh?” He just smiles back in response.

“I guess I have the right touch.” She nods her head in agreement.

“Did you sleep through the whole night?” It was now time for the surprise to be shifted in return.

“The best sleep that I’ve gotten in awhile. I think it’s because I was glad to have you back – even if you were only gone for a night.” She takes a deep breath as she places her hand on top of his.

“Remind me not to do something stupid like that again. I should know we’re stronger together.” Chase knew he could simply give her the lowdown, but that wouldn’t be fair because he understood where she was coming from after talking with Alan.

“You came back, right? That’s what matters. As long as you always take the time you need, but come back to me when you’re ready – that’s all I care about.” He then bends over, placing a kiss on top of her ring. “I know you wouldn’t have accepted this ring if it wasn’t forever.”

“Sarina Elliott. Sarina Elliott Ott. Sarina Ott Elliott. And strangely, Chelsy Elliott. Actually – no, let’s just stick with the other options. My point is it has a nice ring to it.” He nods his head in response. “Given our schedules, I hope you don’t mind a winter wedding.”

“Did I just hear you say the word ‘wedding’?” She laughs, nodding her head in response. “I thought we were taking this slow, going to do it when you were ready with no pressure. But yet, here you are, mentioning the word before I do – with a plan in toe.”

“Actually, what do you think of a Florida wedding?” He then takes a closer look at her. “What are you doing?”

“Seeing if you are really who you say you are…” She then gives him a light smack. “I wouldn’t have a problem with that, actually. Just please no getting married at the track – as cliché as that sounds.”

“I won’t do that to you. Or we could get married in Colorado in the mountains. That’d be majestic.” She then lets out a sigh as she shifts over, laying her head on him. “The more I think about us together, the more I warm up to the thought of marriage. I find myself talking more about a future together, with everything involved. Trust me, I’m not planning no wedding yet, Chase, but it does sound nice…” He smiles as he was glad to see the change in pace with her. However, there was a topic they were avoiding.

“What about parenthood? And I’m not talking about Alison because she’s not pregna-”

“Let’s pretend that doesn’t exist until we have to see her in court, okay?” Chase slowly took a deep breath, swallowing the lump in his throat. He wished that wasn’t even necessary as it was obvious she was guilty. After all, she had pled guilty to charges before. “I am going to ask if I can get a second opinion. I know Samantha says that this doctor is amazing and he knows everything and he’s on the leading edge, but I want a second opinion before we make any decisions going forward.”

“I have no problem with that – as long as you let me be there for you this time, please…” She glances up into his brown eyes, nodding her head yes in return. “Thank you…”

Chase walks over to Alan once they were done the second practice, smile firmly planted on his face. The day couldn’t had gone any better to this point.

“Was it better that last run?” Alan wonders and Chase nods his head yes. “That’s what I thought. It looked pretty sporty.”

“Just need a minor adjustment to fix a tick loose and you’re perfect,” Chase replies as Alan smiles.

“Not a bad Saturday so far. Fourth in the first session, second in the second. I know you mentioned yesterday not wanting to talk about Sarina, but I saw she qualified second and did you guys actually walk into the track this morning together?” Chase lets out a sigh, but nods his head yes. “Oh my…”

“I went to see her after the truck race, and offer a piece of comforting advice, to check on her, because she was tore up about it. That turned into us both realizing we need to put aside the Alison situation and be there for each other because we’re better together.” Alan crosses his arms.

“Isn’t that what we’ve all been telling you both since the beginning? How is it that it took you guys two years to realize this?” Chase lets out a sigh. “Regardless, I’m happy for you both. I know it’ll make it easier on Eric today.”

“Hopefully she has a good run and we can move forward from this weekend…” Alan catches a change in glance from Chase as he watches closely.

“Talk to me…..”

“I don’t want to see or deal with Alison ever agai-”

“She was arres-”

“We still have court procedure to go through.” Alan lets out a long sigh. “Lawyer messaged me to say that we need to address the additional crimes, what they are going to do moving forward considering she escaped, and the pregnancy because court officials have confirmed she’s pregnant.” Alan’s jaw drops as he feels a new wave hit him. He had strongly believed Chase before in saying that he wasn’t the father, but now began to wonder.

“Look, I know this won’t be easy for you and I wish just like you we could avoid it like it never happened. But we can’t do that, can we?” Chase lets out a sigh, shaking his head no. “You need to be strong. You need to remember that she can’t hurt you anymore. You need to remember that it’s not your fault no matter what she says in that court room. You’ll have Sarina, me, your parents. It will be okay.”

“I know…” Chase feels his breath hitch as the thoughts surround him, trying to shake them off immediately.

“Your facial expressions say otherwise…” Chase glances down at the ground, swallowing the lump in his throat.

“I told you what happened. I know you keep saying it wasn’t my faul-”

“Because it wasn-”

“But I still need to convince myself of that. I also can’t get rid of that sick feeling of her touching me, and how it made me feel. I’m trying Alan, but I can’t…do…thi-”

“Yes, you can.” Alan puts an arm around him. “Chase, you can do this. It’s going to take time, but you can do this. You can figure it out, do what you need to do, talk to the people that you need to talk to, and move forward. Like I said to you before, I will go see a professional with you if that’s what you need, or I will listen to you for hours. I’m sure Sarina or your parents would do the same.” Chase glances up at the crew chief.

“I can barely talk to Sarina about this…..”

“That’s understandable, but you will be able to in due time. She’s patient and she understands. You’ll figure it out.”

Wednesday, May 9 – Delaware Court Room

“I would rather be back at Dover, fading back to outside of the top-10 despite running there all day than here,” Chase offers as they reach the court house doors.

“I’d rather be dealing with Friday’s disappointment than here,” Sarina adds as she grabs his hand. “But we can’t do that, can we? Just breath, relax, and know – it’s going to be okay. We’ll get through this, today and whatever comes, together.” She then lightly kisses his cheek. “I love you, Clyde!”

“Hey, stealing my nickname now?” Ryan asks, earning a glance from Sarina that basically said for him to quiet his lips. “She’s right, though, as we all have your back.”

The group enters the court room with Chase remaining silent the rest of the way, taking his seat behind the prosecutor. He feels Sarina wrap her hand around his left, and knew without a glance that Alan and Jordan sat on his right. Behind him, there was his parents. He was also surprised too that Ryan and Kyle had both shown up, as well.

It was nice to have everybody there willing to offer support, but it didn’t make the feelings go away.

“Your first court appearance Ms. Reynolds took place in California in regards to this case,” the judge begins. “You pled guilty to a list of charges – poisoning Mr. Chase Elliott and attempted murder of Mr. Gustafson. You pled not guilty to a sexual assault charge against Mr. Elliott, as well as an attempted murder charge against Mr. Elliott or Mr. Ryan Blaney. You were supposed to go for a psychological evaluation, where you escaped the facility. Do you realize that you are guilty of Escape in the First Degree, which is liable for five years in addition to your sentenc-”

“Your honor, no sentence was given due to needing to see if my client was mentally stable enough to withstand trial,” the defense interrupts, earning a stern glance from the judge.

“I will not stand for being interrupted. Therefore, you just cost your client any leeway that I was going to give as there was a possibility of that being dropped depending on the new psychological evaluation. Therefore, stable or not, you will spend at least five years in federal prison.” Chase takes a deep breath as it was a relief to see there’d be some time. However, five years seemed pity considering. “For the prosecution, do we have any objections against a second psychological evaluation?”

“As long as Ms. Reynolds has guards around her at all times and cannot escape once again, I do not see a problem,” the prosecutor states. “However, if these terms cannot be met, we will have a problem due to the danger that she is to the public.”

“Motion accepted,” the judge replies. “There is also a question of where the courts are to take place due to the fact crimes have been committed in several states. Since she was arrested here, we will continue the proceedings here. Now, there are new charges that we need to discuss. Guilty or not guilty, you enter a plea and nothing else.”

“Yes ma’am,” Alison says as she stands there, smile firmly planted on her face as she kept her eyes locked on Chase. It was so nice to see him once again after their lovely nights together.

“How do you plead to the charge of assault in the state of Virginia?” Sarina shook her head as she remembered that snowy night at Martinsville. She remmberd the initial fear that shook through her when Chad had called the trailer after finding Chase sore, lying in the snow. She also couldn’t forget the days that followed with the pain he faced due to the bruises along his back. She chuckled thinking back to how the floor of Ryan’s motorcoach turned out to be the comfy spot of the night.

“Not guilty,” Alison replies as Chase just shakes his head. Of course it was going to be chalked up to the fact that he tripped due to the snowy conditions.

“How do you plead to kidnapping Ms. Sarina Ott in Tennessee?” It was Sarina’s turn to let out a small shiver as she remembered the lonely experience of being stuck in Alison’s grasp with so many questions, worries, concerns. She had generally not let it bother her, but that was getting impossible due to what could’ve happened during that time.

“Guilty.” Alison then glances over at Sarina. “She’s always getting in the way due to being jealous of me and her boo. I had to keep her busy for a bit.” Chase glances down, not wanting to look into her eyes, as he clutches onto Sarina’s hand tighter. He was just glad that Alison hadn’t done anything else to Sarina.

“How do you plead to robbery against Ms. Sarina Ott in Tennessee?” Sarina glances down at her hand, seeing the ring firmly placed on her finger. She remembered the tears and shrieking that had occurred when Alison had ripped it off her finger, followed by the relief when Chase slipped it back on in the hospital. However, she began to worry now wondering what price did he pay for it.

“Not guilty. I gave the ring back, didn’t I?” Chase doesn’t even move, taking a couple deep breaths, as he remembers the conversation in the room. The fact that he said he would do anything for Sarina’s safety and to get the ring back, and the fact that he had initialed the kiss on her lips said it all.

“But you admitted that you took it without authoriza-”

“She could’ve been borrowing with position,” the defense interrupts as half the court room breaks out into laughter.

“Fine, not guilty,” the judge states. “How do you plead to sexual assault against Mr. Elliott in Tennessee?” Sarina and Alan both grab onto Chase’s hands a little harder knowing the thoughts that were going to be flooding through his mind as the jaw drops on those in the court room who didn’t know what had happened yet.

“He asked for it, right?” Alison questions, as Chase shakes a little, his breath quickening. Those words were going to haunt him forever, no matter how much Alan wanted to tell him that it wasn’t his fault. Alison was right on the money as he accepted the deal. There was nothing he could do now but try to move forward with those feelings. “Besides, he’s always wan-”

“Not guilty or guilty?”

“Not guilty, your honor.” She then looks over at him, grinning widely. “Once he tells the court what happened, everybody will know the truth, including his precious fiancé.” A couple tear roll down Chase’s cheeks as the panic increases slightly, followed by a flip of the stomach. The thought of having to tell everyone what happened was the worst feeling known to mankind.

“It has been discovered that Ms. Ott is pregnant so she will be held in protective custody as a result for that reason until the next trial date. We will be commencing a meeting following the psychological evaluation before moving forward. Other than that, there is no bail due to the escape, either. Does the prosecution have anything else to add?”

“We would like to contest the paternity of the baby,” the prosecutor states. “Ms. Ott wrote a letter to both Mr. Elliott and Ms. Ott stating that she was pregnant and implied that he was the father. Mr. Elliott denies this allegation beyond a shadow of a doubt based upon what happened. Therefore, we would like to know the paternity as soon as possible.”

“Ms. Reynolds has been found to be four weeks pregnant as of right now,” the judge reveals. “The earliest we can find out the paternity would be 14 weeks. A quick glance at the calendar, and we can perform a test as early as July 18 to determine whether Mr. Elliott is the father.”

“But my baby….” Alison lets out, wrapping her arms around her stomach.

“Both amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling involve inserting a needle into the womb to collect the sample,” the defense begins. “That has shown to put the baby at ris-”

“The test we will be using is non-invasive and prevents no harm to the mother or baby,” the judge interrupts. “It simply involves comparing genetic profiles of the fetal cells, the mother’s blood, and a sample collected via a cheek swab from the alleged father. Besides, Ms. Reynolds gave up her rights of decision when she left threatening notes, escaped custody, and committed her other crimes. Mr. Elliott deserves some peace of mind and truth after everything. Court adjourned!”

Everyone slowly starts to get up and leave the room, as both Sarina and Alan remain in their spots alongside him.

“I’m going to be sick….” Chase lets out as they reach just outside of the court room, breaking free from the pair to immediately go into the bathroom.

“I’ve got this,” Alan offers as he follows him, making his way to the stall as he sees Chase kneeling over the toilet, everything coming up. “Ssssh, easy….” He rubs Chase’s back as it continues to come up, mixed in with shaky breathes and tears.

“I couldn’t take it any longer…” Chase then slowly sits down on the floor, leaning back against the wall. “Every word, every smirk, it just made me sicker and sicker. I can’t do this…”

“Yes, you can….” Alan then sits down alongside him. “You got through today – barely, yes, but you got through today. She didn’t see any of this and you got through this. Sure, you’re throwing up and sick to your stomach, but you got through it. That’s a step in the right direction, just like talking to me, and just like you and Sarina being able to bare things with regards to Alison. You’re doing better than you believe.”

“She just makes me so sick to my stomach….” The tears roll down the cheeks as Alan focuses on him.

“Take a deep breath, count to 10, take a deep breath. Remember that she can’t hurt you anymore and you’re safe now. Remember that she’s locked behind bars and she won’t touch you again. Tell yourself that over and over. Just relax….” Chase tries to follow the instructions, slowly calming down.

“We can’t do the test until July. That gives her 10 weeks to come between Sari-”

“That’s not going to happen, Chase. Sarina has already made that clear. Sure, she’s coming to grips with everything surrounding it and the possibi-”

“I’m not the fath-”

“I know, Chase. I believe you when you say that. Sarina just needs that paper proof, okay? And I know it sucks waiting all this time but trust me, it won’t make you two fall apart or anything. She believes in you, and she loves you. She’s going to be right there for you just like today.” Chase nods his head in response. “Just breathe, please. It’s going to be okay. We’re going to get there somehow…”

After allowing him to calm down and wipe off his face, the pair made their way out, and with a simple nod everybody else left the topic alone. It wasn’t long until they were at the airport, onboard the plane, and he was curled up in the back. With Sarina rubbing his back and clutching his hand, sleep came easily as there was no denying he was wore out from everything.

“I love you, Clyde,” Sarina whispers in his ear. “And I’m not going anywhere….” She then gives him a small kiss.