The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 80: Pocono Double

Saturday, June 2 – Pocono Raceway

Sarina glances through the garage, a bit of shock washing over her as she makes her way over to Lindsay.

“You’re actually here this weekend?” Sarina questions, catching Lindsay off-guard.

“Uh duh of course,” Lindsay answers as she places on her stomach. “Not that I’ve got to enjoy the Pocono weather at all because this little one has been a bit of a pain.” Sarina looks on concerned.

“Morning sickness?” Lindsay nods her head accepting, as she lets out a sigh.

“It’s more like all day sickness. I’ve had it all this week. I could’ve even think about food on Wednesday without throwing up. it’s getting easier, and I finally was able to get digest some toast so I thought I’d actually come out and support my man.” Lindsay then glances into the Cup garages. “I see you’re not getting much time with Chase.”

“I’m getting enough for what matters.” Lindsay just rolls her eyes as Sarina smiles. “Hey, he’s having fun doing double duty for a change and he isn’t doing too bad. He says the car feels good for the XFINITY race, and 11th in Cup practice isn’t bad considering…” Lindsay nods her head in agreement.

“I just realized I dumped all my baby news on you without a thought of consid-”

“No, it’s okay – trust me. I can handle it.” Lindsay then looks over surprised as it was a change considering the last reaction she had gotten. “I’ve come to grips with things. They may not be what I truly want, but I’ve come to grips with it. I can’t wait to be an aunt to your little boy or girl. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for myself and Chase. I also can’t wait until I prove everybody wrong and win that championship.”

“Still dealing with the doubters?” Sarina lets out a sigh, nodding her head.

“I only got the ride because I’m female. I’m only relevant because I’m dating Chase. I should’ve dumped for all the bullshit that I caused with my brother. Oh, and Alison is somehow my fault too.” Lindsay looks over surprised.

“Girl, what have both Chase and I told you about all that bullshit?” Sarina crosses her arms.

“To forget and ignore, but sometimes that’s too hard to do. Hence why I’m turning haters into motivators.” Lindsay smiles as she had heard that line before courtesy of Kyle.

“So Chase should just make you another shelf in the trophy room right?” Sarina just chuckles. “Speaking of Alison, when do you get those paternity test results?”

“Not until July as you have to be 10 weeks before they can get the DNA from the baby. If it was up to me, I’d just rip her apart and figure out what the hell sex that thing is. She’s so crazy that I’d be scared of a baby from it.” Lindsay was now really surprised. “What? I know I should have sympathy for an unborn life and everybody deserves a chance, but did you see everything that she’s done? Anything connected to that has to be crazy.”

“But what if Chase is the father?” Sarina glances over, slightly concerned, as her eyes glance down to the ground.

“I know if he turns out to be the father, he would want to do whatever it took for that baby and take full responsibility. I know him well enough to say that fully confident, no matter who the mother is.” Sarina then glances back up at Lindsay. “But is he the father? I don’t think so. The more that I talk with him about what happened, the more details that he tells me about what happened and he comes to grips with everything, the more I believe that she is playing this game to try and pull his life apart again. That’s who she is, Lindsay.”

“I’m surprised to see the change in perspective.” Sarina lets out a sigh as she glances back into the garage stall.

“Sometimes you have to trust your gut and believe every word out of your man’s mouth, even if you want to put a full shadow of doubt initially. I’m learning to trustworthy and be more open, each day a little more. Chase, you, Kyle and Samantha – I know I can trust each of you without a shadow of a doubt. So if he tells me he isn’t the father, I am going to damn well believe him.”

Chase leans back against the car as Sarina walks over handing him a bottle of water.

“Close….” She comments as he takes a sip, eyes focused on her.

“Close only counts in horseshoes and ha-” he starts.

“Hand grenades.” He nods his head as he drinks more of the water. “But considering the fact that you ran outside of the top-five all day and came back to finish second with strategy at the end, should you be complaining?” Chase shakes his head no. “I mean, to finish second to Kyle in the XFINITY Series is an achievement in itself with the way Gibbs has that program put together.”

“Of course you’d comment on their supreme equipment.” She then smiles as she leans back beside him.

“It was fun driving those cars, okay? If Joe called me tomorrow and said hey, you’re running this race next weekend, I’d have the helmet packed quicker than he could hang up.” Chase chuckles as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“You’ll get that opportunity, don’t worry.” He then gives her a quick kiss. “So you didn’t just watch me all day….”

“Are you kidding me? I’m the super supportive girlfriend who does anythi-”

“Fiancée, and I saw you talking with Lindsay.” She smiles at the reminder in change of the wording as she glances down pit road towards Lindsay and Ryan.

“I wanted to see how my girl is doing. It seems that pregnancy isn’t all sunshine and roses for her. She’s been dealing with some morning sickness that turned into all-day sickness.” Chase makes a face as he glances down their way. “Maybe not being able to get pregnant has its advantages…”

“Did I just really hear that from you?” Sarina lets out a sigh as she glances back at Chase.

“I’m coming to grips with reality, okay? Just like racing has taught me that I need to be calmer and realistic, I’m trying to do that with my entire life. While you’re handling what you’ve got, I’m becoming stronger myself. That includes realizing that maybe having a baby isn’t in the cards…” Chase pulls her even closer to him.

“We still have the second opinion. I know it’s taking longer than warranted, but when I mentioned to Rick that we were looking for someone to give us another opinion, he wanted to find the best expert that he could find so we knew the truth.” She nods her head, remembering the discussion. “I understand trying to do what you’re doing, but I also know how badly it broke your heart when you found out that you couldn’t carry a baby full term. I remember the tears and pain. You don’t just let that go by changing your ways, Sarina – same way I can’t just forget what happened.” He then takes a slow deep breath. “Before you make these life altering decisions, just promise me that you’ll consider what is to come.”

“I can promise you that, but I can also tell you that I’m prepared for whatever happens.” She then turns to face him, wrapping her arms around him. “We’ve been through so much. There were times that I thought I lost you from either my stupid mistakes, or Chris’ behavior, or Alison’s choices. They made me appreciate what I have so much more, and I’m ready to live in the moment. As long as we’re together, happy, and healthy, that’s what matters.” She then reaches up on her tippy toes and kisses his lips. “I love you, Clyde.”

“I’ll always love you, too.”

Sunday, June 3 – Pocono Raceway

Sitting comfortable on the pit box, the day had gone smoothly as Sarina couldn’t complain thus far. Alan had worked on the handling to get it pretty decent for Chase, and he had been able to run in the top-10 all day.

Though when the caution came out in the late stages, Alan made the decision to leave Chase out while several of the leaders, having him restart third. While the track position was nice, the older tires did him no favors as he fell back outside of the top-10.

“Of course,” Sarina says to herself trying to avoid the thought of cursing Alan out. She got trying a gamble and do something different and maybe snag a win and track position, but she knew they needed solid finishes from here on out as they were right on the border of playoff elimination. It was never too early to think about the post-season.

Thankfully, the caution came out with 18 laps to go, which Alan made the decision to bring him down pit road. Restarting outside of the top-20, Chase would drive the wheels off of it, making his way back up into the top-10 by the checkered flag.

“I don’t blame you for trying something,” Chase stated after the race as Alan lets out a long sigh.

“We could’ve possibly got a top-five if I would’ve given you tires when you needed them,” Alan comments as Sarina nods her head in agreement. Sure, it was a decent finish and she could leave with a smile on her face. However, that didn’t absorb Alan of his wrong decision.

“We’ll get them next week. Michigan has always treated us well, right?” Alan nods his head in agreement as he glances at Sarina.

“Have fun in Texas,” he states as Sarina simply just smiles back in return.

“I’ll see you on Sunday to keep your ass in line,” she offers as Chase just laughs.

“Why am I not surprised?” Alan then walks away as Chase glances over at her.

“Remind me next time to not allow him to make stupid decisions on the box.” Chase just rolls his eyes as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“But if his strategy would’ve worked out, as it did for a couple others, you would’ve called him your hero.” She then lets out a sigh as they head back through the garage together. “Just make sure to behave next weekend. I’m not there to keep you in line.”

“I’m Kyle’s angel now, remember?” Chase just rolls his eyes.

Thursday, June 7  – North Carolina

Chase smiles as he reads the latest text message from Sarina, glad that she was in a good mood. Then again, how could she complain after being second quickest in practice?

“Story?” Chase hears as Lydia looks over at him, holding a book in her hand.

“I did tell you that I would read you one before bed, right?” Lydia nods her head yes. He puts his phone aside, snagging the book out of her little hands as he gets her tucked in on the couch.

With their crazy hectic schedule, Jimmie had wanted to take Chandra out on a special date night of their own without any interruptions. That was fine except while Genieve was sleeping over at a friend’s, their babysitter was not available to watch Lydia. That’s when Chase stepped up, knowing that Lydia would absolutely love a night with him.

The pair had been having fun throughout the night, from playing games to baking cookies and building a fort with the cushions in the living room – all while Chase kept checking timing and scoring from Texas.

Though now that it was night time, it was her bed time and that meant one thing – time for a story. She had brought a selection of books from her collection, all ending up with Chase reading her Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham before bed.

As he turned to the fifth page, he looked over and a smile formed as she was already passed out. He set the book lightly down beside her, before turning the light off.

After spending time relaxing with some more text messages to Sarina and a bit of Netflix, it was certainly time for him to close his eyes and go to sleep. Not wanting to be far from her, he made the decision to sleep in the lazyboy while she was on the couch.

“On the bed, spread eagle….” He simply follows the orders as she places the phone just out of reach from his fingers, allowing the live video feed to play once again, as she strips out of her clothes. “I should almost just do what I really want tonight to make you suffer for that comment. Actually, I could simply just send the messa-”

“No, please. Leave Sarina alone. Take me. Do whatever you want. Just please leave her alone.” Alison smirks even wider as she climbs on the bed, laying on top of him.

“I could easily take these off….” She runs her finger tips along the waistline of his boxers. “But we’ll save that for another night…” Just like the previous night, she begins off the same way, her breathing picking up as she did so, matched by his doing the same with a tinge of fear and pain mixed in. But yet, she was getting her satisfaction in feeling him harden against her even through the fabric.

“The….ring….” He grabs her hand, bringing it to closer view of his eyes, seeing the familiar pink diamond. “You took Sarina’s ring…” Alison smirks as she looks into his eyes.

“She doesn’t need tha-”

“Take it off!” Now he really wished that Jordan and Alan heard them. “Take it off!”

“Shut up and kiss me like you mean it, and maybe you’ll get your wish….” He takes a deep breath, accepting the kiss that she had to offer, as well as the continued body movements. “Good boy….”

“Please….” She then moves her lips down his collarbone, sucking as hard as she can as a moan escapes her lips once again.

“I know you want me….”

Chase sits up instantly in the chair, covered in a cold sweat as he tries to catch his breath. He instantly glances over at the couch, seeing Lydia still sleeping.

“You’re okay,” he tells himself as he slowly gets up and makes his way into the kitchen. He pours himself a glass of milk, leaning against the counter, drinking it immediately. “It was just a dream. She can’t hurt you anymore. Just forget it, Chase.” He then takes a couple more deep breathes, feeling the tears roll down his cheeks.

“Chase?” He hears, catching him off-guard as he tries to wipe the tears off of his face immediately seeing four-year-old before him. “You okay?” He nods his head yes as he takes a deep breath.

“Yeah, I’m fine sweetheart,” he replies before kneeling down to her level. “You know those bad dreams that happen with monsters?” Lydia nods her head. “Well, I had one and it scared me – but I’m okay.”

“I save you!” She then wraps her arms tightly around him, which he immediately accepts the hug without reservation.

“Thank you sweetheart. Say, why don’t we both get back to sleep?” She nods her head in agreement as he takes her hand, walking back to the living room together. He tucks her into the blanket on the couch, before climbing back in the lazy boy once again. “Good night Lydia.”

“Night Chase.” He was just about to sleep when he felt movement in the chair, immediately relaxing when he felt arms around his neck. “I cuddle. I save you. Love you.” He then gives her a kiss on the top of the head.

“I love you too, Lydia.”

Friday, June 8  – Michigan International Speedway

Jimmie walks into the garage stall, eyes locked on Chase.

“For someone who just timed in fifth quickest, you’re not looking super happy,” Jimmie comments as Chase glances over. He was actually surprised to see his teammate as normally they all just got together as team meeting time. “But maybe that’d do with last night.”

“Last night?” Chase questions, a little curious. He actually thought Lydia had a good time – at least that’s what she told him.

“Lydia told me that you woke up from a bad dream with scary monsters.” Chase lets out a sigh as he had to know that it’d get back to Jimmie eventually. “She told me that she comforted you.”

“Yeah, I appreciated that actually – and I promise that I didn’t say a lot or really anythi-”

“I’m not mad, or upset, or concerned about that. well, actually, I’m concerned about you if you’re having bad dreams like that. Are you sure everything is okay?” Chase knew he couldn’t keep the act up with everybody forever, especially those close as they found out details. Besides, everyone was going to know in a matter of days when the trial finally took place.

“I had a flashback to an incident with Alison.” Jimmie had pretty much figured that out already.

“I know she stalked you for months, drugged, tripped you with a banana, crashed a plane – she has a track record. So I get why that’d bug you even still to this day and it’d take time to get through it. I also know it can’t be easy being by yourself with Sarina there to support you. Am I right?” Chase nods his head yes. “If it’s easier for you, Lydia can stay with you tonight and tomorrow night until Sarina gets here. If you’re not willing to open up to me, that’s the least I can offer and do to help as a teammate and a friend.” Chase hated to not spill the details, and be open, but how could he admit that out loud once again?

“I appreciate that. Thank you because your daughter is amazing.” Jimmie smiles, having realized that already.

“She also says that you’re pretty cool to hang out with. You’d make a pretty cool dad probably.” Chase slowly nods his head in response, knowing that hit a core in two spots at once.

“We’ll have to see what happens….” Jimmie watches closely as Chase takes a deep breath. “Can I tell you something that you promise you won’t tell anyone?” Jimmie nods his head yes. “Sarina had a miscarriage in January, and she was told last month that she may not be able to carry a baby full-term. We’re getting a second opinion, but we may not be able to have kids of our ow-”

“What about a surrogate or adoption?” Chase knew the options were there, and knew that discussion was next with Sarina. But first things first, it was dealing with Alison and the initial news.

“We’ve talked a little, but no decisions have been made yet.” Jimmie nods his head, accepting.

“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings in making the comme-”

“You didn’t. I’ve realized this already because this is something that we’ve been working our way through since January. I’ve accepted what is to come in the future for Sarina and I as parents. As she said to me, as long as we’re together, happy and healthy, that’s all that matters. But I can admit to you that sometimes, it stings a little..” Jimmie wraps an arm around him.

“I can’t fault you for that as I know it would for me and Chandra if we were in the same situation. But I’m proud also for how you’re handling it. For what it’s worth, you can always come to me to talk about it, and you can always babysit if you want. Lydia just adores you…” Chase smiles as that was very easy to tell.

“Even if she ends up dating Brexton because of it?” Jimmie looks on surprised. “Yeah, they had a good play at KBM when you asked me to watch her a couple weeks ago and I stopped by to see Sarina.”

“Oh boy, save me now….” Chase just chuckles as Jimmie walks away. “I’ll bring her by at 8, okay?” Chase nods his heads accepting.

“Yeah, thanks….” He then runs his hands over his face as he lets out a long sigh. “If only you knew, Jimmie….”

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

Sunday, May 27 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re putting too much pressu-”

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

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

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

“Chas-”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He’s certainly special…..”

Friday, June 1  – Pocono Raceway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you ready for the time apar-”

“We handled it last yea-”

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

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

“Avoi-”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 2  – Pocono Raceway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday May 18, 2018 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You sound like Rudy….”

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s the plan, right?”

Saturday May 19, 2018 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday May 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

“The sooner we get home…..”

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

Wednesday May 23, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 76: “I could easily take this off, and enjoying it all….”

Friday, May 18 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Chase glances at the radar. Everybody knew rain was in the area, but they hoped that it’d at least hold off for the morning so some practice would get completed. It’d suck going into tomorrow night with a whole new package and not a single lap on the car.

Sarina had gotten lucky through the morning as the truck series was able to get in both practice sessions. Despite being unhappy with the truck through the first session, she had ranked third on the chart. Rudy had been able to make it better during the second session, leaving her with a smile as they finished up ranked fourth.

Now it was Chase’s turn as he put his phone up, ready for the first Cup practice for the day. Although it appeared rain was all around them per the radar, it was right now dry at the track, and he was ready to take advantage of that.

A simple nod to both Jordan and Alan and he was climbing in the car, getting the belts all on and ready to go for the session. Jordan reaches in, giving everything a final check over before putting the window net up, with the cue to Alan to send him out.

Getting out there right as the session started, Chase was able to get a single lap in – though immediately cut it off and got down to the apron at the start of the second with the skies opening up.

He was back to the garage quickly, everything off and climbing out of the car as eyes fell back on the radar once again. Sure enough the green glob that he saw before was now right over top of them.

“Lovely,” was all he could say as he put his phone in his pocket, knowing that they’d be in a long wait.

“It’ll clear up and hopefully NASCAR will adjust the schedule in a smart matter,” Alan offers as Chase rolls his eyes. It was rare that the sanctioning body actually was able to work with them like that.

Knowing that they were getting nowhere and not wanting to linger around the garage area, he made his way back to the motorcoach, slipping inside as a smile found its way to his face immediately.

“You look pretty comfy,” he comments as he walks past Sarina, going straight for the fridge to grab a drink.

“I knew it was going rain so I thought why waste the walk to the garage area,” she offers as he lets out a sigh. “At least you got a lap in and know there’s nothing wrong with the car, I guess.” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“You’re just in a good mood because you were able to get both of your practices in, and have a good truck for tonight.” He then sits on the couch beside her. “Think you can beat the boss?”

“I beat him last week, right?” He smiles as it was certainly a great race to watch from the pit box. “I remember at the beginning of the year, I was questioning everything about working with Rudy and whether Kyle made the right decision. But I get it now, Chase. I get why Kyle does what he does. Rudy has been absolutely amazing. He has helped me improve my feedback, my driving, and is a great coach.”

“I’m actually surprised that he got you calmer on the radio, too.” Sarina chuckles as admittedly, she was surprised as well. “I just wish Kyle didn’t have a plan for you for this weekend…”

“Are you saying that you don’t want me to jet off to Canada?” He lets out a sigh. “Chase, you can admit it….”

“I understand, and I get why Kyle wants you go to run the Pinty’s Series race. It’s great experience for you ahead of the race there in the fall as you’re getting laps on the same track and it’s the first round of the playoffs. I know how well that worked for Christopher. But…” He then glances into her blue eyes. “The selfish part of me wishes you were here all weekend with me.”

“Trust me, anytime that I am away from you pulls at my heart because I hate being away from you and want to spend every second together. I want to be there for you, always. That’s why the schedule for the summer has me pulled at wits a little. But, like you’re saying, I understand the reasoning and that’s why I committed.” He then places his hand on top of hers.

“And I don’t want you to back out on that commitment, either. I’ll be fine. I have the guys, and you’ll have Lindsay with you. Besides, maybe you can bring home a trophy.” She then smiles as she leans in closer to him.

“As long as you promise to give it your all tomorrow night.” She then lightly kisses his lips. “And promise me to not cut this hair for as long as possible…” He then glances at her a little confused. “What? It’s adorable, honestly.”

“I have to admit that I’m starting to like it more this year than I did last year.” She got a little giggly, though instantly calmed down, feeling her breath hitch in her throat.

“Well please don’t let that opinion change anytime soon….” She then reaches over, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Besides, it can be fun to play with…” She then twirls a piece around her finger as she closes the gap between them once again, kissing his lips.

“Sarina…..” He deepens the kiss as they lay back on the couch together, lips locked together as she continues to play with his ringlets with her fingers.

“Like I said, these ringlets are everything….” She then pulls on the neck of his firesuit, making it loose, wrapping an arm around his neck as the fingers on her other hand continue to play.

“Your lips are everything…” He goes back in for another kiss, arms remaining firmly wrapped around her.

“You don’t understand what you do to me….” She then brings her fingers to the zipper on his firesuit. “I could easily take this off, and enjoy it all….” She then brings her hands back to his hair, playing once again. “But we’ll save that for another time….”

“Yeah….” It didn’t take his lack of words to see the change in his behavior immediately following the words escaping her mouth, as the fact that he was tensing up and his breathing was quickening said enough.

“Babes….” He then closes his eyes, trying to get himself to calm back down, as she slowly sits up. “Fuck me. I screwed up….” He then looks over at her immediately.

“No, no, you did nothing wrong….” He then sits back on the couch, calming down as he grabs the bottle of water off the table, taking a mouthful.

“No, I screwed up, Chase. I should’ve known to be more careful. I should’ve known to take it slower. I should’ve known to just leave it at making out and hair twirling until you were ready. I shou-”

“Stop, please.” He then reaches over, placing a hand on hers, squeezing it. “You didn’t do anything wrong. Even though I panicked a little, it’s not because of what you did and I wouldn’t want to change what you did. I loved every single minute of that kiss, and you can play hair twirling any day.”

“I still feel terrib-”

“I’m not mad at you, so let it go – okay?” She nods her head, accepting. “Your words took me back to a night with Alison. We had flown to Nashville because of meeting with the investigators. We agreed to stay in a hotel that night due to the investigation, and the fact that I was racing at Bristol in a couple days anyway. I kept my deal with Alison, and told her what hotel room I was staying in. She showed up as planned….” Sarina glances into his eyes, squeezing his hand as she could tell his breathing was quickening once again.

“Chase, you don’t need to tell me. You don’t need to go back there….”

“She made me strip down to just my boxers and lay on the bed, spread eagle, before stripping out of her clothes, down to just her bra and panties.” Sarina felt her own breath hitch in hearing the stripping out of clothes line, instant reminders of the possible pregnancy that loomed over both of their heads with her mind flopping back and forth. There was nothing that could describe the relief in hearing about clothes left on, but there was also still that layer of wonder and panic. “She then laid on top of me, ready to kiss me, move against like she before…”

“Chase….” He closes his eyes as he could see the images clear as day in his mind.

“That’s when she ran her finger along my waistline and said, ‘I could easily take these off – but we’ll save that for another night.’ When you said the same thing, it just took me back there and I instantly felt what I felt with her – sick to my stomach beyond any shadow of a doubt, wishing I could be anywhere else.” She then wraps an arm around him, pulling him close as she could a couple stray tears rolling down his cheeks.

“I wish I could make that pain disappear for you, and I’m sorry for bringing it all back…” He glances up at her.

“I told you – it’s not your fault. Don’t be upset, okay? Like you said before, we’ll get there – in time and eventually. I just need to let it go. But how? I don’t know sometimes because there’s no words to describe how sick she made me feel, how much pain I was in, and how I just wanted to rip every part of it away…” The tears become to fall more as Sarina holds him close, letting him lay his head against her as she rubs his back with one hand, and goes back to twirling his hair with the fingers on her other hand.

“I don’t know how to fix it, I don’t know how to make it better – but I wish I could make it disappear in a second’s notice for you. But know that as you work your way through, I’ll always be here to hold you, help you, and be there for you…” She then kisses the top of his head. “I love you, Clyde….”

The pair then sat there in silence listening to the rain fall outside, as he slowly calmed down with the tears slowing down in feeling her against him. She continued to rub his back, not moving a single inch over the next couple hours – even when various text messages came through from their teams about qualifying being cancelled for each of their respective races.

“Are you sure you’re okay now?” Sarina double checks and Chase simply nods his head in response, before leaving the motorcoach.

After a quiet afternoon, he had gotten a text message from Alan to meet him in the garage area to talk about the latest details from NASCAR ahead of tomorrow’s event. He had thought about changing out of his firesuit, but running late, he left it on.

He made his way into the garage stall, finding the crew chief right away with Jimmie Johnson.

“What’s up?” He asks as he leans back against the pit box.

“So they’re still doing all-star qualifying, no pit road speed limit pit stop without any practice,” Alan answers as Chase glances over at Jimmie with a bit of a surprise.

“Isn’t it wonderful?” Jimmie questions sarcastically earning a smirk in return from Alan. “And yes, I get to be the first one out to do it. I mean, why not? I’m 7-time. I can do anything, right?”

“For once, maybe being in the Open is a good thing,” Chase comments as Alan chuckles a little.

“Then NASCAR said that they’re going to do a combined one hour practice tomorrow morning so you can get a feel for the package,” Alan adds, which added some relief to the driver. It was a little nerve-whacking heading into a race without any laps on the car in a new package.

“Now why couldn’t they run that practice tonight and qualify us tomorrow?” Jimmie wonders and Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“That’d be too easy for NASCAR,” Jimmie just chuckles.

“And on that note, I better go find Chad before he kicks my ass. By the way, Chase, make sure you do up your collar next time. You give away what you’ve been up to during the delay..” Chase’s hand runs up to the collar, having realized it was left undone by Sarina in their fun, as he watches Jimmie walk away.

“For someone who supposedly just did tha-”

“Alan, please….” Chase starts as he does it up quickly, earning a curious glance from the crew chief. “Out of everybody here, you know what happened – and there you go…” Alan wanted to smack himself immediately.

“I should’ve remembered that it was a sensitive subject, still,” Alan starts. “I’m sorry….” Chase lets out a sigh as he returns to his previous stance against the pit box.

“Just like I told Sarina, no apology is necessary – and I’m sorry I snapped last week, and again right now.” Alan then looks over sympathy laced in his eyes.

“Listen, I know how tore up you were about what happened. I was there, remember? I spent that morning in the bathroom, and the days following. You don’t need to apologize. I understand – hence why I said on Monday that I bit my tongue in return. With that said, is everything okay with you and Sarina?” Chase nods his head as he takes a deep breath.

“Everything was going perfectly – and then she said something and it took me right there immediately. We then talked about it, before just cuddling together…” He then runs his hands through his hair. “I just want to get to a time where there’s no reminders. I don’t want to feel sick and disgusted instantly. And I know it’s going to take time, and I know all this and that – but sometimes, can’t I just wish it would happen instantly?”

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting that. And really, you’re making progress because you and Sarina talked about it. That’s a start, right?” Chase nods his head.

“And before that, man, I can’t even describe this…” A smile comes across his cheeks as he thinks about their kisses together, earning an eye roll from Alan.

“I know there’s questions about her ability to get pregnant – but at least wear a glove just in case.” Chase then looks back over at Alan.

“Have you been hanging out with Kyle lately?” Alan just chuckles as they head out of the garage together, set to watch the all-star race qualifying session.

Chase stands back and lets Sarina get introduced to the crowd, before taking her hand as they head back to pit road, ready for the truck race that night.

“We need to go see Brex!” She lets out as they reach pit road, making the short turn to walk over to where Samantha and Kyle were with him, rather than going to her own truck. They immediately smiled as they walked over, seeing him having a piece of cake.

“Cake?” Brexton offers, grabbing a chunk of the small cake and holding it up to Sarina.

“I don’t want to be giving him the bath afterwards,” Sarina comments with a chuckle as she accepts the piece, eating it. “That’s actually really good.”

“Sarina!” Sarina wanted to pick him up as he wanted, but knew that’d result in getting cake all over her – not the best look before the race.

“Maybe later buddy.” She then kneels down before him. “I just wanted to come over here and say Happy Birthday. I can’t believe you’re three years old!”

“I can’t believe it either….” Samantha lets out as she tries to clean up some of the cake.

“Did you get my present?” Sarina questions and Brexton nods his head immediately. She had left a pedal car done to match her truck by the Busch motorhome earlier on that day. “We can have races against each other now at KBM!”

“Oh boy….” Kyle says as he rolls his eyes, earning a chuckle from Chase.

“’Hank you!” Brexton tells her, giving her a big hug in return.

“You’re welcome,” she replies, giving him a kiss on the cheek before standing up, as she glances over. She had luckily escaped getting cake all over her. Brexton then went to run off into the grass when Chase grabbed him, scooping him up in his arms, which sent Brexton into a fit of giggles.

“Not so fast,” Chase says as he turns him around in his arms. “I wanted to say Happy Birthday, as well! Oh, and I have a surprise for you later…” Kyle then looks over a little concerned. “I got you a bin to put all of your cars in neatly so you can take them all over – and it has a couple new cars in it. I figured daddy’s car needs a little more competition from me and my friends.”

“Now now, Jimmie Johnson cars are not allowed in the household,” Kyle teases as Chase just laughs.

“Sleepover again?” Brexton asks, catching everyone off-guard.

“Maybe another night bud, okay?” Chase offers and Brexton nods his head, accepting. Chase then sets him back down, letting him run off with a couple of his friends. “And maybe I should’ve included a Brad Keselowski car after all.”

“Well maybe I’ll just get you a Denny Hamlin diecast for your birthday, big boy,” Kyle replies, as they both laugh. “Good luck tonight. Stay out of trouble, and be smart. It’s easy to make a mistake here.”

“Gotcha boss,” Sarina replies. “Good luck tonight to you, too. See ya at the front of the field.” She then takes Chase’s hand as they walk off together over to her truck.

“I’m so glad that she has him…” Samantha smiles as she places a hand on Kyle’s shoulder.

“As much as it probably means to him to have her. I just wish that they could get the news they want about children…” Kyle glances over at Samantha. “I know what it feels like to not have that chance, feel that you can’t be a mother, you’re missing out. Of course, I can’t describe the overwhelming joy in being able to have Brexton.”

“We got our miracle. Maybe they’ll get theirs.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 75: KC Masterpiece 400

Saturday, May 12 – Kansas Speedway

Sarina could only shake her head as she sat on the pit box, seeing the performance that Chase, Alan, and the guys were putting together. It seemed no matter what adjustment Alan went with, it wasn’t improving the handling of the No. 9 car like Chase would’ve hoped, leaving them stuck in running in the teens, barely on the lead lap, all night.

When it came to the final 10 laps and Alan made the strategy call to stay out for track position and Sarina saw he was restarting fifth, she just crossed her fingers – hoping they’d make something out of the crappy night. Instead, the fade began immediately, and after being blocked in by Ricky on the last lap, that sealed his fate for a 12th-place finish.

“Ugh….” was all Sarina could say as she shook her head in disgust watching. She was hoping he would’ve at least had a decent finish to go along with her win.

“Oh boy,” she then hears Alan say, catching her attention as he points to the monitor. That was when she saw Chase make contact with Ricky’s back bumper on the cool down lap.

“I don’t blame him actually,” she comments and the crew chief simply nods his head in agreement. She knew if it was her and someone slid up across her nose like Ricky did on the last lap, they would’ve been seeing what the grass was like in the infield.

“I don’t either, but he’s an idiot as you can tell.” Sarina nodded her head in agreement, now feeling her own anger boil over a little in watching Ricky run into the side of the 9 car.

“What a jackass!” She then climbs down the steps, ready for a long quiet ride home.

She makes her way out to pit road, expecting for Chase to climb out, the usual post-race debrief, thoughts of a positive future, and for them to head out and leave this weekend behind. Instead, she was admittedly taken back when she watched him quickly climb out and make his way down pit road to where Ricky was.

“What was that?” Chase questions as he catches Ricky’s attention.

“I got loose off the corner,” Ricky answers. “I was clear – simple as that. You didn’t need to wreck me after the flag.” Chase could almost laugh in his face in response to that based on the contact.

“Oh really? What do you call slamming me in the door? Don’t do it again, or you’re going for a ride….”

Chase then turns and walks away, done with the conversation, considering it wasn’t getting through to Ricky from what he could tell anyway.

“What are your thoughts on the night?” A reporter asks as he makes his way back to the No. 9 Chevrolet and his team.

“Just scratching and clawing to run mediocre,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do.” He then walks over to where Alan is standing, catching the crew chief’s eyes. “We have a lot of work to do. No matter what you did tonight, we got nowhere. Some adjustments made it a little bit, but it was nowhere near close. I don’t know what you’re doing, but it’s not working man.”

“I know,” Alan replies as he crosses his arms back in response. “I know. We’re all working as hard as we can to figure out what we need to do to get better. We’ll get ther-”

“We’re further off now than we were a month ago. That should say something, right?” Chase then walks away without another word, not even caring whether Sarina or anybody was with him.

“He’s frustrated…” Alan takes a deep breath. “But he is right. We absolutely stunk tonight.” Sarina didn’t want to make too much light of the situation, but there was one bright side.

“You ran better than Jimmie, though….”  Alan rolls his eyes back in response. “You know as well as I do that all of that frustration isn’t from tonight, either.”

“I know…” Alan glances over at Sarina. “That’s why I didn’t snap back at him in return. That’s why I just let it go. He’s right to a degree, though, but we’ll figure it out. You go take care of him, and I’ll get my ass to work.”

Sarina makes her way into the motorcoach, taking a deep breath as she sees the pedal car by the door. They had so much fun that morning with Brexton, letting him play on it, share laughs together. Now that seemed like a mile away.

She quietly makes sure that she has everything together, knowing that he wouldn’t want to stick around after the night he had. She could hear the shower and almost wanted to go and offer comfort right away, be there as Alan said to take care of him, but instead sat down on the couch, pulling out her phone.

“Are you ready to go?” She hears about 10 minutes later. She could see by wet shaggy hair that he had gotten himself a shower. Her eyes immediately drew to the backpack that he was wearing, with everything as needed as packed, as predicted.

“Yeah,” she replies as she puts her phone in her pocket. “If you’re ready to get out of her-”

“Let’s go…” She quietly stands up, walking out of the motorcoach behind him, only glancing back to shut and lock the door. Her eyes keep on him as they make their way to the rental car, ready for the short trek to the airport.

While other times they’d hold hands or share details on the night, it was pure silence and lack of touch the whole walk. Even the drive over to the airport didn’t contain a single drop of discussion.

They got out of the rental car and she took the keys back into the place as he made his way to the plane, beginning to go through his own little checklist before take-off. It wasn’t long before she had joined him, standing back, letting him do his thing.

“Any issues taking the keys back?” He questions and she shakes her head no. “Alright. Well, it’s ready to go…”

“Okay,” she replies, before reaching out for his hand. “Hey, I love you….” He then glances back into her eyes, giving her a simple nod in return. “I know tonight was frustrating as shi-”

“Let’s just not talk about it, please?” She then lets out a long sigh, but nods her head in return.

“As long as you’re ready to go and in the right frame of mind, then alright…” He knew of her dangers of flying, and even in a pissed off state, he wasn’t about to jeopardize things for her.

“If I wasn’t, I would let you know immediately. I would never fly myself if I didn’t feel I could concentrate fully and let everything else go. That’s why I didn’t fly after we left the court room, remember?” She nods her head back in response. “We’ll be fine…”

Like everything else to that point, the flight was just as quiet as the walk back to the motorcoach, and the trip over to the airport. Though it had done the trick that was warranted. The quietness, serenity, focusing on something else, had given Chase the time to put everything in perspective.

It wasn’t the night he wanted on track. He didn’t want to have to deal with the haunting thoughts of Alison. He didn’t want to have to deal with what came in the future for her. There was the factor of Sarina’s infidelity.

Though, no matter what, things could be worse, and they would find their way through, somehow.

It wasn’t long before they were landed in Charlotte, key turned off, ready to get out and head home as per any other race day.

“You know some people run, or paint, or workout to make themselves feel better?” He starts, catching Sarina’s attention. “Everybody has something that helps them relax and forget for awhile. For you, I know that’s just purely racing once again – am I right?” She slowly nods her head yes. “Flying is that for me. When I’m in the air focused on what I need to be doing, admiring the view, it relaxes me. It allows me to think about everything and figure out what is bugging me the most.” He then reaches over, placing his hand on hers. “I’m sorry for how I acted earlier, by the way. I was a total jackass.”

“Chase, I understand,” she starts. “I’m the same way when I have a bad day. Okay, maybe you took it to the extreme, but I’ve done the same thing. We’ll both highly competitive people. That’s all that was coming out. Oh, and Ricky deserved it anyway.”

“I would’ve told him off more but I was worried that I would smack him with how I was feeling.” She actually wanted to smile as it would’ve nice to see that for those who questioned his passion. “It was more than just tonight, though. This whole month has been driving me crazy. I want to forget Alison, and not remember a single thing that she said, but that’s all I can think about…”

“She’s locked away, Chase. She can’t hurt you again.” He wanted to believe that, but a look into Sarina’s eyes said otherwise.

“She’s still coming between us. I know the baby is a touchy subjec-”

“Whether she’s pregnant with your kid, or not, it doesn’t change anything, though. I will love you, care about you, an want to be with you no matter what comes of that because I know it wasn’t your doing on purp-”

“I accepted the dea-”

“She put you in a box based on your vulnerability, and that’s using someone, and that’s unfair and not your fault. I’m not one bit mad at you, okay? And no matter what happens, I’ve come to grips with it. We’ll deal with it.” He nods his head, accepting, as he glances down at her hands together.

“I just wish I could forget the feeling. It’s just every time you reach out to me, I remember her against me…” He then closes his eyes, taking a shaky deep breath. “I remember how I felt in her body against mine, her lips attacking mine, her hand touching me, the motions. I know in my heart it didn’t mean anything. I know in my brain that reasoning says it doesn’t mean anything. But I can’t stop myself from shivering at the thought of you touching me and that instant flashback.”

“It’s going to take time, Chase. It’s instant reflex. It’ll take time but you’ll convince yourself, and whatever part of it that it needs to be convinced that things are okay, and we’re okay, and we can do that. And Chase, I’m willing to be patient. You’re worth every single second that I have to wait.” She then leans in, lightly brushing her lips against his. “She messed with you for months. You don’t just forget that overnight.”

“Thank you…” She smiles a little, before giving him another little kiss. “I love you.”

“I’ll always love you, Clyde. You’re stuck with me, whether you like it or not.”

Wednesday, May 16 – Catwalk for a Cause

Sarina looks at herself in the mirror once again, twirling around as she tries to look at herself at the same time.

“I hope it’s okay,” she tells herself as she glances at the necklace.

“Oh wow….” she hears and instantly freezes as she recognized the voice immediately – Sherry Pollex. It was Sherry that had picked out the dress for her to wear from the boutique since she couldn’t make it over to go through some of the selections, and it was her event.

“Is that a good wow?” The person simply laughs in response as she walks over, fixing Sarina’s hair.

“That’s an absolutely amazing wow, sweetheart. My oh my, I must say that I was right about this dress. It is absolutely beautiful on you, Sarina. The guys aren’t going to know what hit them tonight. They’re going to be like, ‘Are you sure that’s the same girl that kicked our ass Friday?’” Sarina chuckles in response as she glances back towards the necklace.

“I don’t wear jewelry much, but the little girl that you have me walking with – Jessica – she told me that I should wear a necklace tonight. I let her pick one out and she chose this.” Sherry takes a closer look, immediately smiling.

“It’s perfect. I’m glad that you were able to come tonight, by the way. When I mentioned to her that you would be her fashion partner, she was over the moon excited.” Sarina smiles as she glances over, seeing Jessica playing with some of the other kids.

“I am honored that you asked me to come, actually. I mean, what you and Martin have done here is absolutely amazing. Raising money for children’s cancer while featuring the kids – it’s perfect.” Sherry smiles as she wraps an arm around Sarina’s shoulders.

“I could’ve never imagined it’d grow this big though…” Sarina glances over at her with a smile.

“That’s because you’re amazing, inspiring, strong, beautiful – and did I mention inspiring?” Sherry just smiles back in response.

“Just make sure to have fun tonight, okay?” Sarina nods her head in response.

She then watches as the show begins with introductions, followed by the first set of drivers heading down the walkway together. She had to chuckle at Kyle and Samantha with their warrior as Kyle’s dance moves were certainly on point tonight.

“Think we can do better than my boss?” She asks Jessica, who simply nods her head back in return.

They then take their turn down the catwalk together, doing the Soulja Boy dance once they had reached the end. They then spin around and head back, smiles affixed on their face. She even managed to kick it up a notch the second trip down, mastering the Hoedown Throwdown, which Jessica had picked in being a big Hanna Montana fan.

“Look like you have some dancing competition,” Aric Almirola comments to Kyle as he gives Sarina a high-five as she walks by.

“Where do you think she learned her dance moves from? Her boss of course!” Kyle replies as Sarina just laughs in response.

“But yet who out-danced you at the Christmas party?” She asks back as Kyle lets out a sigh. “It’s okay to admit defeat, Kyle…”

“And that’s why you’re both wrapping up the show together,” Martin states as he points towards the catwalk. Their separate walks down with their stars had caught everyone’s attention that they wanted a return trip. “We need someone to do something while we get all the kids together….”

“We got this, don’t we?” Kyle replies and Sarina nods her head in response. “I got the song…”

Sarina could only worry about the song that he had told the DJ to play, though instantly relaxed as they headed together.

“Teach me how to dougie…” She sang along as she did the dance, even a little more stylish than Kyle to his surprise. “You’re welcome….”

They all then stand back and smile in watching all the kids together with Sherry and Martin on the stage.

Once sharing some thoughts around, everybody separated and headed their own ways, set to get ready for the after-party which Cole Swindell had offered to perform a couple extra songs at.

“You got one up on me tonight,” Kyle comments as she smiles back in response. “I was surprised.”

“I’m certainly not surprised,” Sarina hears and instantly smiles in immediately as her eyes catch a pair of brown ones staring right back at her.

“Well how nice of you to join us Mr. Elliott,” she replies back in response, giving him a kiss immediately. Chase had been gone all-day, traveling up to Michigan to travel the Air Force base as part of a promotion with Michigan International Speedway. He told her that he would try to get back to see her on stage, and the whole show in general, but wasn’t sure if he’d make it.

“I got here just as you were heading out for the first trip down the runaway. I don’t know what was better – souja boy or hoedown throwdown. But I will say the dougie took the cake at the end.” He then twirls her around. “And you look absolutely stunning as always.”

“Got any moves of your own?” Kyle questions as Sarina chuckles back in response. “Oh so he does? He’s been holding out on us?”

“This white boy can’t dance,” Chase answers as Sarina now chuckles even louder.

“Your girlfriend’s response says otherwise.” Sarina just gives him a wink, as Samantha wraps an arm around Kyle.

“Come on; let’s leave the love birds alone,” Samantha says as she tugs Kyle away from them. “Sarina sees enough of you at work…”

“I think you should’ve busted a move for him,” Sarina comments as Chase shakes his head no. “Oh, but you do know how to dance. What do you call that line dancing boy?”

“What happens on vacation remains our secret,” he replies, as he snags another kiss. “Besides, you can’t tell all of my secrets or we’d have none.”

“I’m glad you’re here…” She then takes him by the hand, and the pair head to the after party, mingling with everyone and sharing jokes.

Sarina even caught herself looking over at him a couple times, smiling, as it was nice to see this side and getting back to the fun they were used to after everything that happened. She also didn’t complain one bit when he pulled her close, wrapping both arms around her, and swaying with her as Cole Swindell performed.

Baby, it just took one look at you
For me to change my one drink order to two
Like we already knew each other
Like we been talking all night
About a minute into our first dance
We got blindsided by your friends
All in a hurry like you had to go
Didn’t they know you can’t leave someone
Girl, you can’t leave someone

In the middle of a dance floor all alone
In the middle of an old school country song
Right when I was just about to lean on in
Why’d you have to go then?
Baby, in the middle of the glow of the neon light
It shoulda, coulda, woulda been the night of our lives
Girl, it ain’t right, no
How you gonna leave me right in the middle of a memory?

We were gonna dance till they shut it down
People’d be staring while I spin you ’round
Thinking we were so in love, yeah
They wouldn’t know we hadn’t even hooked up
I’d get your number and I’d give you mine
And we’d be hanging out tomorrow night
But now I don’t know where you are
I’m under these lights right here in the dark

In the middle of a dance floor all alone
In the middle of an old school country song
Right when I was just about to lean on in
Why’d you have to go then?
Baby, in the middle of the glow of the neon light
It shoulda, coulda, woulda been the night of our lives
Girl, it ain’t right, no
How you gonna leave me right in the middle of a memory?

Yeah, it’s like you walked right out in the middle of a movie
Tore the back half out of a book
And no, you’ll never know, girl, what you did to me
It ain’t right saying goodbye

In the middle of a dance floor all alone
In the middle of what could’ve been our song
Right when I was just about to lean on in
Why’d you have to go then?
Baby, in the middle of the glow of the neon light
It shoulda, coulda, woulda been the night of our lives
But, girl, it ain’t right, no
How you gonna leave me right in the middle of a memory?
In the middle of a memory
In the middle of a memory

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

Friday, May 12 – Kansas Speedway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re putting too much press-”

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

“They know something happened with Alis-”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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