Tuesday, May 21
Morgan walks over to where Sarina was checking over some messages on her phone, crossing her arms.
“Is everything okay?” Morgan questions, catching Sarina’s attention immediately, who simply nods back in response.
“Chase was just asking how you made out today,” Sarina answers. “I told him that you were able to pick out the dress you want for your wedding. So that’s two dresses picked out for my ladies this month. He asked what it looked like, but I told him no pictures of the one due to worries of Christopher seeing it.” Morgan nods her head, smiling as she was glad that everybody had followed her rules in regards to images. “For the record, I think you look absolutely amazing. You’re going to look amazing when you and Christopher get married.”
“I appreciate that, especially from someone as stylish as you. I still can’t believe what your dress looked like when you entered the hall and walked down the aisle.” Sarina always smiled as she thought back to that day. Not just because of the dress, but the sentiments expressed that day. “Thank you for coming out today and offering your opinion.”
“No, thank you for letting me be part of this. Considering everything said about us together originally, it’s amazing to see how close we are.” Morgan couldn’t help but agree, remembering everybody thinking that the girls would be odds with each other over Christopher. However, there were obviously other reasons that came into play for creating their friendship.
“After everything that we’ve been through together, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Sarina glances down, taking a deep breath, as that comment instantly brought her back to what had happened last month. It didn’t seem no matter what she was doing, she couldn’t escape what happened.
“I hate that you’re in the middle of that. I hate that you and Christopher are now part of the Carter’s games and everything that happened. it stings for me to have it happen, it stings even more watching Chase in pain, and then it stings the worse in watching my friends and family get caught up in it, too.” Morgan understood the sentiment, but it wasn’t the same for her.
“I’m just glad that Christopher and I could be there in the cabin to help you and Chase get through those couple of days. Could you imagine what you’ve done by yourselves?” Sarina shakes her head as she didn’t even want to think about the possibilities.
“I wouldn’t have known what to do about the wound. I mean, Morgan, you saved him…” She then glances down, taking a deep breath. “And Christopher saved me. I don’t think I could’ve ever gotten away from Carter myself. I know I tried, I pushed, I did what I could, but…” The tears begin to roll down her cheeks. “I just couldn’t stop him myself.”
“You fought hard, though. You were strong in holding him back, and how you’ve handled things since. You are still absolutely amazing. He doesn’t define you.” Morgan then wraps her arms around Sarina, pulling her close into a hug. “It’s okay. You’re going to get through this, and Carter is going to spend years rotting away in prison. Once word gets around what he did, I imagine someone will return the favor.”
“Look at me, ruining your special day with my tears….” Morgan immediately starts shaking her head as she keeps Sarina held tight to her.
“My day isn’t ruined. I still have my dress, and it means a lot to me to be there for my friends. It’s going to be okay….”
Thursday, May 23 – Charlotte Motor Speedway
Chase walks over to Alan following the first practice, giving the crew chief a high-five after timing in second quickest at the end of the session.
“We just need to lay down a lap like that later today and we’ll be fine,” Alan summarizes and Chase nods his head in agreement. He then leans back against the pit box, watching as the crew goes to work going over the car ahead of qualifying later that afternoon.
“Want to share some of your speed secrets?” Ryan questions as he walks over after a good five minutes. Chase could only chuckle in response.
“Don’t you have a win here?” Chase reminds him, as Ryan thinks back to the fall of last year in the dramatic last lap that took place.
“Some people claim that I got lucky.” Chase rolls his eyes, not surprised as he was used to the same critics.
“There’s no such thing as luck in racing. You put yourself in position to take advantage of the circumstances.” Ryan smiles as he had used the same logic himself a million times over. “If you’re looking for speed, why are you down here bugging me?”
“I wanted to offer you an update on my wedding.” Chase was used to these discussions by now, knowing it was just over a month until Ryan and Lindsay would be married. “So along with us having got the tuxedos, Lindsay was able to pick out her dress. She also decided on the bridemaid’s dresses, as they’re trying to go for a relaxed beach the-”
“So we have to go full tuxedos for your beach wedding when it’s going to be jaw-dropping hot, and yet the girls can go light?” Ryan lets out a sigh, having heard the same complaint from others.
“Hey, least you’re having to wear the jacket and tie. Lindsay could’ve enforced that.” Chase wasn’t about to argue as he wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. He knew that Lindsay had certain details she wanted perfected. “Guest list confirmed with invitations sent out. The first reception hall that we checked out was fully booked, but the second was available and we have it booked. We also have a date picked out to choose our wedding rings next month.”
“So all that’s left is for me and Bubba to plan the bachelor party?” Ryan breaks out with a laugh, actually not surprised that his friends were thinking that already for him.
“First of all, I didn’t get to give you a proper bachelor party, as Jimmie and Dale wan-”
“Blame Alison for that…” Ryan takes a deep breath, actually not wanting to think about her at all considering everything that she had done.
“Second of all, there’s no Hangover happening as I would actually like to be fully present for my wedding. It’s also a race weekend, and I need some brain cells to handle Daytona.” Chase couldn’t argue with the stipulations as he knew he wasn’t going to be getting into much at the wedding for the same reason. “There’s also my vows. She was inspired from your wedding, thank you for very much, and thinks writing our own vows is a great idea.”
“Good luck with that. If I’m being honest, I struggled with mine for weeks and crumpled up a lot of paper in trying to write them exactly how I wanted. However, it came together. Just speak from the heart, and tell her what you think of her – ignoring everybody else in the room.” Chase simply places a hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “You’ll be fine, don’t worry. Regardless of what you say, she’s going to cry anyway with her hormones.”
“Geeez, thanks for the encouragement. I guess I’ll make sure to have a couple Kleenex in my pocket, even if I sound like a total ass in the process.” Chase simply smiles in response.
“It wouldn’t be the first time, would it?” Ryan playfully gives him a punch before walking away. “Aww poor Ry got his feelings hurt. Are you going to go cry on her shoulder now?”
“No, I don’t want to be the excuse for you being late going to get Abigail from your wife.” Chase then freezes, glancing at the time as he mutters a quiet ‘shit’ to himself before hurrying out of the garage. He knew he should’ve left sooner with Xfinity practice scheduled close to the Cup practice.
Sarina was glad to have an afternoon with two practices as it gave her a chance to focus on something other than her feelings. She had done decent across the pair of sessions, posting the 11th quickest time in the first session, along with the sixth quickest speed in the second.
“Like I was telling you before, the car feels real comfortable,” she tells Dave Elenz after having finished taking a glance over the data. “It feels like I can run solidly without any issues over the course of a run, not too tight or loose. It’s right where I’d want to be, if I’m being honest.”
“That’s good, and it shows on the clock as you maintain over 10, 20 laps,” Dave replies back to her having watched the lap times over the course of both practices. “I’d just feel a little more comfortable if we were a little quicker on the short run because you know how the races typically end up with one of those late-race cautions.” Sarina nods her head in agreement, as she knew it’d also hurt in qualifying on Saturday.
“I just don’t want to give up that comfortable feeling as I’ve felt that we’ve been missing that a couple weeks, hence why we’ve faded in the late stages. If we can keep that feeling, we can run solidly up front all day.” Dave wasn’t about to argue as he knew a happy, comfortable driver produced better than someone complaining.
“I’ll look over things tonight and tomorrow, as I have a couple ideas that we could go with. But don’t worry – I will try and keep that comfort that you’re liking. Maybe it’s just the fact that car looks awesome blue.” She couldn’t help but smile as she had quickly became of the new paint scheme herself.
She then leaves the garage stall, ready to head back to the trailer and change ahead of Cup qualifying. She knew she could stand on pit road with Abigail in her firesuit, but it’d be much more comfortable changed into a t-shirt and jeans.
The fact that a crowd filled the infield didn’t surprise her, as that was the case every week. It was also why she kept a marker in her pocket, as she knew they’d want autographs. She easily accepted the offers as she began the walk through the garage, signing as many as she could, along with taking a couple photos along the way.
“Damn, I can see why Chase married you,” she hears one of the young male fans comment. She could only roll her eyes, having grown used to comments like that.
“Thanks for the compliment,” she easily responds, just like any other day. “I’ll be sure to pass along the appreciation.”
“So does he squeeze that ass of yours every night?” The comment was a little further than she expected the fan to go, but again, it happened every once in a while. She just ignored as usual, focusing on other fans. “I bet he slaps that ass every night, eh sweet thang?” She then feels a slap against her ass, causing her to snap in the direction of the fan.
“How about you keep your filthy hands to yourself, please and thank you?” She then takes a deep breath, trying to put it out of her mind, as she turns her focus back to the other fans looking for autographs.
“I bet Carter enjoyed the chance to touch you all over, fulfilling every guy’s fantas-”
“That’s enough!” A new voice breaks in the picture, as an arm wraps around Sarina’s shoulders. “Just so you know, this will be the last time that you’re allowed in the garage area.”
“Aww I’m sorry, did the truth hurt your wee little feelings?” The fan questions, but the comment was totally ignored as Sarina is led out of the crowd and to the hauler as she intended.
Dave leads her inside, sliding the door shut, before walking up to the lounge and doing the same thing. He watches as she slowly sits on the couch, still stuck in her own thoughts about what had just transpired, as he hands her a cold bottle of water.
“Are you okay?” Dave questions as he takes his usual seat, fighting between the urge of going into his notes as usual and letting her be, or being the comforting force in this situation.
“Thank you,” Sarina quietly whispers in response, as she continues taking small sips of the water, letting it slowly calm her down as she tries to let every thought escape her mind. “As soon as he mentioned Carter’s name, I just froze….”
“I was headed back here as planned, ready to go over notes before meeting up with Jason (Burdett) and I heard the comment. It caught my attention, and then I noticed you froze so I just took charge.” It was as if Dave’s words didn’t sink in for Sarina as she sat there, still froze.
“As he said Carter’s name, it brought me back to the bedsroom, and what happened. Touching me all over, I couldn’t get it out of my mind as I still remember what every single touch felt like and how sick it made me feel.” She finally looks up and looks over at Dave. “I just wanted to puke on that guy in that very moment.”
“You should’ve as there was no right for those comments. Thankfully, he won’t have a chance to say those again.” Dave had already done the liberty of sending an image of the fan to NASCAR security, describing the incident to have his HOT pass removed.
“I probably looked like a fool standing in that sea of people froze like that…” Dave was about to put the issue to bed, but her comment instantly taught his attention. “The simple mention of his name, and I’m a statue.”
“Anybody who’s been through what you went through would be understanding of your reaction. They would be comforting to your feelings, knowing that you just don’t forget or let go. Don’t put much thought into what happened. Nobody will care or say anything. Just maybe for the next couple of weeks, have someone walk back with you in case. I know you wanted no special treatment, but it’s okay to accept a hand sometimes.” Sarina hated to admit that the crew chief was right, but she knew another incident like that wouldn’t be a good idea. Furthermore, incidents like that could turn ugly quick.
“I’ll keep that in mind, thank you…” Dave pulls out his laptop as he originally planned, feeling as though the conversation was put to bed. He knew that they weren’t close as there was no chance that she’d go into further details with him.
“I texted Alan that you were running a little late in coming to get Abigail, sharing as minimal details as possible but enough to warn that there’s a couple crazy fans around. He appreciated the message, and said that the guys would watch Abigail as Chase headed out.” Sarina wasn’t surprised to hear that in return, as she knew how much the crew guys enjoyed spending time with Abigail. It seemed her giggles, and mumbles caused them to melt immediately, with her favorite activity being able to jump on their knees as they held her.
Sarina walks over to Chase, leaning over the roof of the car as she glances over at him.
“I know it wasn’t what you wanted, but it could be worse,” she offers, catching his attention. He then lets out a sigh, as he wasn’t about to be happy with qualifying 12th. “You could’ve qualified 22nd, or 32nd.”
“We were quicker in practice, and the car felt more comfortable, though,” he replies, summarizing his comments for Alan following the run. “I know it’s a long race and we can make our way forward, but I’d rather be starting up front than in the sixth row. We can’t keep giving up in qualifying if we’re going to start winning races.” She then makes her way over to him, leaning her head against him.
“One step at a time. It’s progress compared to earlier this season.” Chase couldn’t argue with there, and things could certainly be much worse right now as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.
“Alan said there was a brief incident in the garage with a fan. Are you okay?” She nods her head back in response. “What happened, anyway?”
“I was heading back to the hauler, and this fan came up and made a comment that he understood why you married me. I accepted the compliment, telling him I’d pass it along to yo-”
“I appreciate the sentiment, but he has to understand that you’re my girl and I don’t share well.” Sarina lets out a sigh, wishing that was something that’d always stayed true. Instead, another person had gotten the chance to get their hands on her.
“He then slapped my ass while complimenting it, which I told him to keep his filthy hands to himself. He then made the comment that Carter probably enjoyed his time with me – and I just froze like a statue. It took me right back to what happened, and I couldn’t move. Dave noticed and he led back to the hauler.” Chase pulls her a little closer, knowing that feeling as he remembered some of his past flashbacks to Alison.
“Just so you know, you’re not a fool for how you reacted. It’s understa-”
“Dave already told me what I wanted to hear, Chase.” She then takes a deep breath, glancing over the car before looking down at the ground. “I just want the day to come when it doesn’t bother me, when I don’t think about it, when we’re not talking about it. I don’t want it to always be like this. I don’t want to this to be what defines my thoughts.”
“It’ll come, I promise you that day will come. You just need to give it time, patience, and fully work your way through everything. We’re going to be okay.” He then leans in and gives her a kiss.