The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 253: Charlotte Double

Saturday, May 25 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Despite starting in 10th, it wouldn’t take Sarina long to make her way up into the top-five in the first stage. She’d run up front all day long, keeping herself solidly in contention through the first half of the event. However, it wouldn’t last, with the crew being assessed a penalty for a loose wheel to start the third stage.

“Just barely….” Chase comments as they look at the replay, as the crew member barely falls over the wall trying to retrieve the tire. Dave Elenz simply nodded his head in return, knowing how close NASCAR had been watching that rule.

With the loss track position, Elenz made the strategy play to leave Sarina on track while others pitted with 54 to go, letting her restart fifth. However, that failed as she would fall back quickly.

So when the next caution came out with 40 to go, he went the opposite direction, bringing her down pit road for four tires and fuel. The grip later in the event compared to her competitors on old tires paid off as she made her way back up through the field, crossing the finish line for a fourth-place finish.

Chase walks over to the car, bottle of water and a cool cloth in hand. He watches as she climbs out of the car, immediately lifting her hair off of her neck, laying the cloth across.

“Holy cold!” She lets out, jumping a little at the initial touch, but relaxing at how nice it felt on her neck. He then chuckles as he hands her the bottle of water. “Where’s Abigail?”

“She’s making your crew chief feel better,” Chase comments, as Dave walks over with Abigail in his hands. “He feels bad for letting you down, even if it wasn’t his fault.” Sarina glances over at Dave, understanding where he was coming from as the crew was his responsibility. However, despite the penalty, she felt they finished right where they would’ve anyway.

“We had nothing for Reddick no matter what we did. I think we still ended up right where we should’ve been. He gave me a great handling car, and we put together a solid performance – one step at a time.” Chase nods his head in agreement, remembering how much she preached that with him through the rougher stretches. It almost felt odd in hearing the calm side of her right now; maybe motherhood had a good affect on her.

“Are you okay?” She then glances over at him, a little confused. “It was damn hot out there.”

“You don’t need to tell me about it, but I feel pretty good considering. I guess your workout traits and healthy tricks rubbing off on me are a good thing.” He wasn’t so certain of that at all times, knowing that he still needed to get better in some areas at times.

“You can thank Jimmie for his kickass advice, then.” She nods her head, not surprised given Jimmie’s dedication to working out.

She then takes a deep breath as she walks over to where the drivers were supposed to give their series of post-race interviews. She couldn’t wait to get home, relax, and get out of the sticky sweaty firesuit.

“We ran into a tire violation when someone fell over the wall, which put us to the back but we rallied back,” she commented. “That’s what we do on this team – we keep fighting no matter what’s thrown at us because you can’t keep us down.”

“Is that in more relation than just today?” The one reporter asks, and Sarina immediately knew the direction that they were going with the question. It always seemed the odd question in relation to Carter and the trial would surface.

“Absolutely. I’m not about to let someone take over my life and make me feel like a weaker person.” Chase walks over, lightly rubbing her shoulders as he could tell that the feelings were there beneath the surface for her. Just like he felt regret in not being there, she felt regret in not being strong enough to fight him off.

“In that respect, how are you handling eve-”

“With all due respect, as we’ve previously announced, I am not answering any questions in relation to what happened. It’s in the courts hands to handle and I’m sure the jury will find the right verdict.” Chase hands clutch on her a little tighter, ready to step in to say something if necessary as he hated to see her pressed more than necessary.

However, everyone co-operated this time around, circling the questions back around to the race conditions and what took place on track.

Sunday, May 26 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Just like Sarina was able to do the day before, Chase made his way into the top-five through the opening stage of the event. He ran up front through the second stage, before grabbing the top spot during the final stage.

“There ya go….” Sarina lets out with a small fist pump in the air.

The happiness was sort lived, as he would be passed by Martin Truex Jr., complaining of the car being slightly tight.

With the conditions not to his liking, Alan elected to bring Chase down pit road for four tires late in the event while others stayed out. Unfortunately, the restart initially did not go as planned, as he’d slip back a couple spots, due to sliding sideways as he battled a loose racecar. However, he was able to fight back, making a mini charge in the late laps to finish fourth.

“How do you feel about your run tonight?” One of FOX Sports’ reporters ask as they walk over.

“We had a really solid car,” he comments with a sigh. It was just like a couple weeks ago – fast through the middle, but missing that little bit at the end. “It was a solid race all around. We just needed a little bit more there at the end and needed to not give up control to get to Martin (Truex Jr.) in those last 40 to 50 laps. We just needed to finish a little stronger. I think I have some work to do on my end to make sure I’m keeping up with the track, giving the right information and not getting behind. I feel like I’ve made some mistakes the last couple of weeks and have just gotten a little off.”

Sarina shakes her head as she stands back watching, not totally feeling every bit of his comments. While adjustments depended on driver feedback, they also depended on the crew chief making the right call. So as Chase seemed to shoulder the blame here, she knew that it partially rested on Alan’s shoulders as well.

However, she was used to this reaction from him as it was right up his alley. He was always his hardest critic, and would nitpick the smallest things that he did himself to focus on improving forward. She knew the feeling as she was like that in some ways, though would grow more frustrated than he would.

It was a trait that she appreciated as it was always about finding what you were missing in racing so you could get better and beat your competition, but yet frustrating at the same time to see it harped on. That’s why with a deep breath, she knew that it was another night of offering a couple lines of encouragement.

“Did the car change a lot from day to night?” Another reporter asks as he has a couple writers surrounding him.

“The track just gains a lot of grip when the sun goes down,” he explains.” Yesterday in practice it was kind of weird that it didn’t really lose any grip during the day, but when the race started today, I felt like it was the normal Charlotte. I had to adjust to that a little bit and luckily we were able to hit it pretty close. We just needed a little bit more there at the end.”

He then answers a couple more questions accordingly, for making his way over to Sarina, giving both her and Abigail little kisses on the cheek.

“I love you,” he replies, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “I’d say that we had a pretty good Memorial day weekend.” Sarina nods her head in agreement, as there was nothing to complain about when you have a pair of top-five finishes.

“It’s the little things – we’re both running better in spots than we were earlier this year,” she reminds him, which he couldn’t help but nod his head in return to. Top-five was certainly better than running in the teens any day.

“Now if we both improve on the little things, we can take this princess to victory lane where she belongs.” Sarina smiles as she was certainly looking forward to that moment as a family after how special Talladega was together.

Monday, May 27 – Arizona Court Room

“I’d rather not have to make this trip every week,” Sarina muses to herself as they walk through the court room doors. Just like they had done the past several weeks, it was another flight up to Arizona.

“It will be over soon enough,” Chase tries to assure her, pulling her close with a kiss on the cheek.

They then make their way into the court room, taking their seats as they had done the past several weeks. It was just merely going through the motions lately.

“All rise!” The baliff announces, causing everyone to stand in the room as they had been doing. “Now presenting the honorable Judge Jackson Pruitt.” The Judge enters and takes his seat as he had done previously as well, with Chase beginning to wonder if there would ever be a week where they wouldn’t see him.

“You may be seated,” the judge instructs, resulting in everyone being seated. “We will begin today’s court session with a motion that has been filed by Alison Reynolds. Ms. Reynolds, is it true that you are giving up having Ms. Nellie Martin as your legal representation?”

“Yes sir,” Alison answers, as which causes a nod of approval between Alycia and Chase as they had done previously. Alycia knew the direction that Alison was going, and knew that Chase would be pleased with the result.

“May you state your reason for the court?” Chase glances down, taking a couple deep breathes, as there was only one thought that came to his mind when he saw Alison and he didn’t need any reminders of that anymore.

“I tried to file a change of plea, and reasoning, but she kept dismissing my claim to file.” The nods between Alycia and Chase quickly turned into small smiles. This just helped to further prove Nellie’s connections to Carter’s plan.

“Very well. Now, may you please explain your change in plea and reasoning?” Chase shakes his head, as he already knew what she was going to say having read the series of messages from Alycia.

“Your honor, I would like to either plead not guilty per a stipulation or request a lesser sentence. I admit my wrongdoings with Chase. However, they only occurred as a result of Carter forcing me and playing on my mental emotions.” The attempted plea was met with chuckles throughout the room, the same that Chase had in reading the initial message from Alycia.

“With all due respect, Ms. Reynolds has previously been found not mentally stable, hence being secured in the facility,” Attorney Kyle Gates adds, causing a couple intrigued glances. What was in his benefit to defend her now? “Ms. Reynolds was diagnosed with a couple different conditions, which ultimately previously caused an obsession with Mr. Elliott that ranged through an entire year with several sexual advances. Mr. Williams was aware of this behavior, and simply took advantage of the situation to accomplish what he wanted.” When it was worded like that, it didn’t seem so insane. However, the fact that Alison would get off easy for drugging him did not sit well with Chase.

“Wasn’t it previously established that Mr. Williams entered the orbit of Mr. Elliott due to being hired by Ms. Reynolds?” Nellie Martin counters, which was a true statement of fact. Carter was her legal hand through the year of torment, hence why Chase was wanting neither to get off easy no matter the theory they tried.

“While Ms. Reynolds pulled the early strings, she let me know that this situation was simply that of Mr. Williams turning the tables. Perhaps Mr. Williams was frustrated that he did not get what he wanted out of the deal and wanted to pull some revenge of his own on Mrs. and Mr. Elliott.” Once again, Kyle was playing the theory perfectly – and it brought both satisfaction and confusion in watching it happen.

“It will be for the jury to decide based on evidence presented and testimony whether Ms. Reynolds is correct in her account,” the judge finalizes, which seemed to be the standard procedure for everything in this case. “Should the court find in Ms. Reynolds’ favor, she will be granted the lesser sentence. However, she still has plenty left on her sentence and there are possible conditions stemming due to the attack happening within a mental facility. Are you aware of this, Ms. Reynolds?” Chase had already been made aware, courtesy of Alycia. Simply put, stricter provisions would be placed on Alison moving forward.

“Yes sir,” Alison Reynolds simply answers, before glancing over at Chase. “I miss you peachy.” Chase feels the vomit rise up his throat by the mere mention of the comment, as he takes a couple calming deep breathes.

“She can’t hurt you anymore…” Bill says quietly, rubbing his back as he saw the reaction instantly. “Deep breathes…” Chase easily follows the instructions, repeating those words over in his head. Everything was going to be over soon and there’d be nothing left to remind them of what happened.

“Court will reconvene at a later date to finish off the remaining testimonies,” the judge then states. “Court adjourned!”

Everybody easily files out, as Chase repeats his own process over, while holding Sarina tight to him.

“Chase!” Chase hears his name, stopping as he recognized the voice immediately. He turns around to face Alycia. “I just wanted to clarify Kyle’s behavior as he spoke to me before going about today as he did. It’s no secret that Alison is going to spend many years behind prison bars, and these added years for whatever she gets here are a mere bonus. The focus right now is simply making sure Carter and Nellie follow the same suit. That’s why Kyle went forth the route of pressing everything on their shoulders with his approach today.”

“It makes sense,” Chase quietly comments, not really caring on these mere details. As long as everything ended with the jury finding them guilty and adding multiple years together, that was all that mattered to me. “And you feel that we have enough to make that happen.”

“Absolutely. Between the physical evidence, the testimony that you offered, the past that we’ve linked together, Damien’s testimony and Carter’s connection to Alison, it should just merely come together. I honestly don’t see any way that the jury could miss connec-”

“Alison was able to escape before and come after me a second, third time. I don’t want that happening this time around, please.” Alycia takes a deep breath, obviously understanding the fear and concern laced in his voice.

“Chase, you can trust me when I say this – we’re making sure it’s done with lock and key this time. I’ve got your back 100% and I am making sure that Kyle does it air tight so that cannot happen.” Despite how messed up the process had been to this point, Chase knew that he could believe her words considering what she had been able to accomplish this far.

“Thank you.”

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 252: “She’s already growing up too quickly….”

Friday, May 24 – Hendrick Motorsports

As per the usual tradition during Charlotte Motor Speedway weekend, the Friday was reserved for fan day festivities. As a result, both Chase and Sarina were at their respective shops, signing autographs for the fans and participating in the activities.

Thankfully, Chandra had been gracious – along with Lydia’s big help of course, to watch Abigail while the parents were busy with the fans.

“Mommy, she grabbed my finger again,” Lydia comments as they lay on the floor together. Chandra had set up the blanket with her toys surrounding her, allowing Lydia to sit and play with her.

“That’s what babies do,” Chandra explains as she looks over at them. “They grab things because they’re curious about what they look like, smell like, and even taste like. That’s how they get used to you and things.” Lydia looks over at Abigail a little confused, before looking back at her mother.

“Did I do that?” Chandra chuckles, nodding her head. “Really, Mama?”

“Yep, you can even ask your dad when he’s done.”

“How do you know how to answer her questions?” A new voice interrupts the pair as Sarina walks over, kneeling down at their level.

“I just try to be honest, and keep it as simple as possible,” Chandra explains back in return. She was actually surprised to see Sarina there, surprised how quickly the day had gone by.

“I hope I can remember how to answer all of Abigail’s questions…” Chandra just looks over with a simple smile, remembering the same fears with Genieve.

“Don’t worry – you and Chase will be fine. You have nothing to worry about.” Sarina could only hope that Chandra and Samantha were right in their continued assurances, despite the amount of times that she expressed them. “By the way, she was very behaved once again today. She ate no problem at all, let me change her without any issues even if Lydia told me she was stinky, and she’s been very playful.”

“She loves moving around. Chase and I will go to hold her somewhere, and she just wants to bounce on our legs like no tomorrow.” Chandra nods her head, having noticed that in the time that she had spent with Abigail.

“I still have the jolly jumper somewhere in the basement that Lydia used. You can hang it in the doorway, and she can bounce up and down all day long. I’ll get Jimmie to undig it, or do it myself, as it’d be perfect for her.” Sarina smiles as it was nice to have friends willing to do that for them. “For now, though…look….”

“Oh my gosh…” Sarina couldn’t help but let her smile grow wider, as Abigail began to push herself up off of her stomach, onto her side, rolling over onto her back.

“Did she just do that all by herself?” A new voice chimes in, which the ladies recognized immediately.

“Yes she did, Chase,” Sarina replies with amazement in her voice, as she reaches over to tickle Abigail’s belly.

“She’s already growing up too quickly….” Both of the girls just chuckle in response.

“It won’t be long now until she’s crawling, sitting up on her own and talking….” Chase could only look on amazement, not believing that it was happening so quickly. Even though she was already four months, it seemed like she was just born yesterday in his eyes.

Friday, May 24 – Charlotte Motor Speedway Dirt Track

After their exciting day, the couple made the trip out to the dirt track – courtesy of an invite from Brad Sweet.

While the sprints were fun to watch on the TV screen, it certainly was nothing like being able to see them up close. From the roar of the raw speed, to watching your favorite driver on the edge of control as dirt is slung in your face, it was certainly an experience to take in. Though on top of that, they were treated to a show with the front runners close together all race long right down to the checkered flag.

Although Kyle Larson was able to lead the most laps, he wasn’t able to capture the win, ultimately being passed with five laps to go by Giovanni Scelzi. Brad Sweet also was able to put together a strong run, scoring a fourth-place finish.

“I think I understand why you want to try one of these sprint cars one day,” Sarina comments as they walk up to Brad’s car in the pits. “That was a thrilling race to watch. Say, when you put that deal together with Rick, can you squeeze my name in there?”

“Let me just focus on getting myself in one of these and then we’ll see,” Chase reasons with her, with Brad chuckling as he overhears the conversation.

“I still say that we should just get NAPA to put the whole deal together,” Brad comments, recalling a previous discussion they had. “Rossi, yourself, and me – oh heck, throw Ron Capps in there for good measure, too. Each of us can try an IndyCar, a NASCAR racecar, a sprint car and a dragster to see who can beat the others.” Chase wasn’t about to argue with that idea, knowing it’d  be cool to also try a dragster on top of the sprint car.

“You just want to drive Rossi’s car…” Brad looks over with a grin on his face that said everything.

“Can you blame me, though?” Chase chuckles, shaking his head no. “For the record, I wouldn’t mind letting your lady drive my sprint car and I bet Dale would be more open to the idea than Rick has been.” Sarina couldn’t help but agree as Chase’s face had a bunch of nerves written on it.

“Have you seen this girl behind the wheel of a racecar? She can be a little crazy at times.” The comment earned him an immediate playful punch from her, with him rubbing his arm afterwards. “And she’s abusive.”

“I’m surprised that she didn’t stick with Bell…” Chase just rolls his eyes, not surprised by the comment as it was common for Brad to sneak something in relation to Christopher in there. “Hopefully you can kick some ass on Sunday as I plan on going to victory lane tomorrow night.”

“Oh really? So you think that you can beat Larson now?” Brad was actually taken back by the comment.

“And here I thought that you were a fan of mine, but meanwhile you’re just using me for a chance to drive my car….” Chase laughs as Brad walks away, playing off the disgusted with his comment look. “We’ll see whose talking when I bring him the trophy on Sunday to show him.”

“Oh please do, because I will be showing you my new addition.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Rossi completed the trifecta,” Sarina adds. “He’s certainly talented and knows how to drive his ‘baby girl’ to her limits.” She then takes her own deep breath. “I just wish that I was right up there in that conversation, too.”

“Give it time,” Chase tells her as he warps an arm around her shoulders. “You’re getting stronger behind the wheel of that car each week, always learning something. You’ve gone from running top-10, to top-five. It’s only a matter of time before you’re celebrating in victory lane.”

Saturday, May 25 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Alan walks over, looking at his driver slightly confused, before leaning back against the toolbox to observe over the crew. With the first practice in the books – having finished up in the 15th position, the guys had a strict list of things to check over on the No. 9 Chevrolet, with adjustments to make, ahead of the second session.

“Did you hit your arm off something in the car?” Alan wonders, earning a  head shake in return from his driver. “Okay, because it looks sore considering you keep holding it today…”

“Let’s just say that my daughter’s kicking habit became a problem this morning,” Chase comments, earning a confused glance from the crew chief. “She woke up before Sarina and I really wanted to get up this morning. So like we’ve done plenty of other times, I laid her between us to just relax for awhile. While, she got kicking and she kicked me in the arm pretty hard as she rolled over.”

“Did you just say that she rolled over?” Chase nods his head, still smiling as he thought back to the first time on Friday. “Oh my, she’s already starting….”

“Don’t remind me, please. I don’t think I’m ready for her to grow up.” Alan chuckles back in response, but could relate to the feeling with his boys.

“Relax, she’s still only four months. 18 years is still a long time away, Chase. You’ve still got plenty of moments to come with her.” Chase knew that, but still it felt sometimes it was moving too quickly. “Also, try and keep your arms from being kicked…”

“I’ll do my best…” He then lets out a sigh as he glances back up at the speed chart. “Now, can we talk about the practice?”

“I don’t want you to look up at the speed chart again. I don’t care where we’re ranked because right now, it’s brutal hot and slick, whereas we’re going to be running the race tomorrow in the evening. So rather than focus on handling correctly, I want to build adjustability into the car. I want to know what adjustments I can make, how you react to them, and have a notebook for when the track conditions change tomorrow.”  Chase wasn’t about to argue with the crew chief’s theory, as it made sense when you thought about everything together. Still, it wasn’t the most encouraging thing to not even be in the top-10 right now.

“Well, it felt better the first run compared to the second run. Does that help you?” Alan nods his head, as he reaches up for the tablet to look over the data as they continued discussing.

Sarina leans back against the car, taking a long sip of the ice cold water that Dave had handed her following the qualifying run. Just like they had been doing, it was another solid performance as she’d start 10th later on that afternoon. However, it was 10th – not the top-five that she desired.

“Make sure that you’re drinking a lot of water today and keeping yourself hydrated,” Dave reminds her as she simply nods her head in agreement. She didn’t need to be told, considering she could feel the heat through her firesuit. It was just the beginning of the hot summer to come.

“Don’t worry – heat has been on my mind all morning long,” Sarina replies. “That’s why Bill and Cindy have Abigail right now in the motorcoach keeping her nice and cool. I then told them, along with making sure Chase understood, that she needs her hat and sunscreen.” Dave wasn’t surprised to hear that Sarina was taking care of everything all angles in relation to her daughter.

“I don’t think you’d need to tell Bill and Cindy considering they have experience, but it’s good to know that you have everything under control. I wouldn’t want my driver getting heat stroke out there today.” Sarina nods her head in agreement, not wanting to go through that. She remembered experiencing that with Chase last year at Chicago, remembering how he was the night after the Xfinity race.  She had kept that in her mind, to make sure that she was hydrated each weekend.

“Why do you think I’ve been working so hard to keep this booty of mine in shape? You just worry about the car; I can handle myself…” Dave just smiles back in response, again not surprised.

“I know that you can take care of yourself, but remember what I told you on Thursday – it doesn’t hurt to have help sometimes.” She then lets out a sigh, hating to have reminders about everything. But given what happened, she knew that they were necessary.

“I appreciate what you did then, so thank you. But Dave, trust me when I say this – I have a handle on this.” Whether that was fully true or not, who knew. Maybe if she kept repeating it to herself it would come true.

“Remember what I told you…” Alan simply says as he walks over to where Chase stands following the second practice. They were scored even worse this time around, ranked 18th quickest.

“I know; that’s not on my mind right now,” Chase comments, catching Alan off-guard. He had simply assumed that based on the look on Chase’s face. He also knew that it couldn’t be Sarina’s performance as she had done decently. “Alycia sent me an e-mail.”

“I’m guessing it wasn’t the news that you were looking for….” Chase reaches up for his phone, handing it over to the crew chief. He then lets out a sigh as he goes back into thought about it. “So Alison told Kyle and Alycia that Carter took advantage of her mental issues in planning the attack? Can I call bullshit on that?”

“She’s obviously trying to escape the charges of attempting to drug me. However, there’s no way that she can prove this as she hired Carter initially.” Alan crosses his arms as he thinks it over. He understood Chase’s theory, but he found a new fear of his own.

“What if she is ready to twist the whole thing on its nose? What if she turns around and says that the whole thing through was Carter taking advantage of her mental capability and making her believe what she believed? Therefore, Carter takes the fall for everything that has happened and she gets a minimal sentence.” Chase felt a shiver escape from him immediately at the mere thought of Alison being loose from prison.

“She’s been sentenced and sent to prison for the previous charges. They can’t just turn them arou-”

“They could offer early parole due to misunderstanding, mental capacity, and good behavior.” Chase shakes his head no immediately, not even wanting to face that thought.
“Or at least that’s the theory that she could develop. The other theory is trying to escape the new charges, which it doesn’t matter either way because she’s still hung up for multiple years on the other charges. The main steak right now is making sure that Carter and Nellie pay.”

“This would certainly make Carter’s story look that much more fuzzy…” Chase lets out a sigh as he runs his hands through his hair. “I just hate the thought of any of them twisting anything and getting away with anything. I don’t want to deal with this anymore. I want to be done with this, Alan. I want them all locked up for multiple years so I don’t have to worry. I want to give Sarina that peace of mind so she can sleep at night.”

“The same peace of mind that you’re looking for, as well?” Chase looks away as Alan crosses his arm. “You’re still having nightmar-”

“I just hate that I couldn’t be there to do something to protect her from Carter. I should’ve been there, Alan. He shouldn’t been able to get into our own home and do that.” Chase takes a couple deep breathes. “It’s getting easier with each day, but I won’t get that comfort I need until I know that my girls are safe and the only way that happens is with Carter locked behind those cell bars.”

“It’s going to happen, Chase. He’s not going to get out of this, no matter what he or Nellie try to spin.” Alan reaches over, placing a hand on Chase’s shoulder. “You keep telling Sarina that it’s going to be okay, and now you need to believe in those words Chase. It is going to be okay. Everything is going to work out, finally.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 251: “I bet Carter enjoyed the chance to touch you all over.”

Tuesday, May 21

Morgan walks over to where Sarina was checking over some messages on her phone, crossing her arms.

“Is everything okay?” Morgan questions, catching Sarina’s attention immediately, who simply nods back in response.

“Chase was just asking how you made out today,” Sarina answers. “I told him that you were able to pick out the dress you want for your wedding. So that’s two dresses picked out for my ladies this month. He asked what it looked like, but I told him no pictures of the one due to worries of Christopher seeing it.”  Morgan nods her head, smiling as she was glad that everybody had followed her rules in regards to images. “For the record, I think you look absolutely amazing. You’re going to look amazing when you and Christopher get married.”

“I appreciate that, especially from someone as stylish as you. I still can’t believe what your dress looked like when you entered the hall and walked down the aisle.” Sarina always smiled as she thought back to that day. Not just because of the dress, but the sentiments expressed that day. “Thank you for coming out today and offering your opinion.”

“No, thank you for letting me be part of this. Considering everything said about us together originally, it’s amazing to see how close we are.” Morgan couldn’t help but agree, remembering everybody thinking that the girls would be odds with each other over Christopher. However, there were obviously other reasons that came into play for creating their friendship.

“After everything that we’ve been through together, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Sarina glances down, taking a deep breath, as that comment instantly brought her back to what had happened last month. It didn’t seem no matter what she was doing, she couldn’t escape what happened.

“I hate that you’re in the middle of that. I hate that you and Christopher are now part of the Carter’s games and everything that happened. it stings for me to have it happen, it stings even more watching Chase in pain, and then it stings the worse in watching my friends and family get caught up in it, too.” Morgan understood the sentiment, but it wasn’t the same for her.

“I’m just glad that Christopher and I could be there in the cabin to help you and Chase get through those couple of days. Could you imagine what you’ve done by yourselves?” Sarina shakes her head as she didn’t even want to think about the possibilities.

“I wouldn’t have known what to do about the wound. I mean, Morgan, you saved him…” She then glances down, taking a deep breath. “And Christopher saved me. I don’t think I could’ve ever gotten away from Carter myself. I know I tried, I pushed, I did what I could, but…” The tears begin to roll down her cheeks. “I just couldn’t stop him myself.”

“You fought hard, though. You were strong in holding him back, and how you’ve handled things since. You are still absolutely amazing. He doesn’t define you.” Morgan then wraps her arms around Sarina, pulling her close into a hug. “It’s okay. You’re going to get through this, and Carter is going to spend years rotting away in prison. Once word gets around what he did, I imagine someone will return the favor.”

“Look at me, ruining your special day with my tears….” Morgan immediately starts shaking her head as she keeps Sarina held tight to her.

“My day isn’t ruined. I still have my dress, and it means a lot to me to be there for my friends. It’s going to be okay….”

Thursday, May 23 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Chase walks over to Alan following the first practice, giving the crew chief a high-five after timing in second quickest at the end of the session.

“We just need to lay down a lap like that later today and we’ll be fine,” Alan summarizes and Chase nods his head in agreement. He then leans back against the pit box, watching as the crew goes to work going over the car ahead of qualifying later that afternoon.

“Want to share some of your speed secrets?” Ryan questions as he walks over after a good five minutes. Chase could only chuckle in response.

“Don’t you have a win here?” Chase reminds him, as Ryan thinks back to the fall of last year in the dramatic last lap that took place.

“Some people claim that I got lucky.” Chase rolls his eyes, not surprised as he was used to the same critics.

“There’s no such thing as luck in racing. You put yourself in position to take advantage of the circumstances.” Ryan smiles as he had used the same logic himself a million times over. “If you’re looking for speed, why are you down here bugging me?”

“I wanted to offer you an update on my wedding.” Chase was used to these discussions by now, knowing it was just over a month until Ryan and Lindsay would be married. “So along with us having got the tuxedos, Lindsay was able to pick out her dress. She also decided on the bridemaid’s dresses, as they’re trying to go for a relaxed beach the-”

“So we have to go full tuxedos for your beach wedding when it’s going to be jaw-dropping hot, and yet the girls can go light?” Ryan lets out a sigh, having heard the same complaint from others.

“Hey, least you’re having to wear the jacket and tie. Lindsay could’ve enforced that.” Chase wasn’t about to argue as he wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. He knew that Lindsay had certain details she wanted perfected. “Guest list confirmed with invitations sent out. The first reception hall that we checked out was fully booked, but the second was available and we have it booked. We also have a date picked out to choose our wedding rings next month.”

“So all that’s left is for me and Bubba to plan the bachelor party?” Ryan breaks out with a laugh, actually not surprised that his friends were thinking that already for him.

“First of all, I didn’t get to give you a proper bachelor party, as Jimmie and Dale wan-”

“Blame Alison for that…” Ryan takes a deep breath, actually not wanting to think about her at all considering everything that she had done.

“Second of all, there’s no Hangover happening as I would actually like to be fully present for my wedding. It’s also a race weekend, and I need some brain cells to handle Daytona.” Chase couldn’t argue with the stipulations as he knew he wasn’t going to be getting into much at the wedding for the same reason. “There’s also my vows. She was inspired from your wedding, thank you for very much, and thinks writing our own vows is a great idea.”

“Good luck with that. If I’m being honest, I struggled with mine for weeks and crumpled up a lot of paper in trying to write them exactly how I wanted. However, it came together. Just speak from the heart, and tell her what you think of her – ignoring everybody else in the room.” Chase simply places a hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “You’ll be fine, don’t worry. Regardless of what you say, she’s going to cry anyway with her hormones.”

“Geeez, thanks for the encouragement. I guess I’ll make sure to have a couple Kleenex in my pocket, even if I sound like a total ass in the process.” Chase simply smiles in response.

“It wouldn’t be the first time, would it?” Ryan playfully gives him a punch before walking away. “Aww poor Ry got his feelings hurt. Are you going to go cry on her shoulder now?”

“No, I don’t want to be the excuse for you being late going to get Abigail from your wife.” Chase then freezes, glancing at the time as he mutters a quiet ‘shit’ to himself before hurrying out of the garage. He knew he should’ve left sooner with Xfinity practice scheduled close to the Cup practice.

Sarina was glad to have an afternoon with two practices as it gave her a chance to focus on something other than her feelings. She had done decent across the pair of sessions, posting the 11th quickest time in the first session, along with the sixth quickest speed in the second.

“Like I was telling you before, the car feels real comfortable,” she tells Dave Elenz after having finished taking a glance over the data. “It feels like I can run solidly without any issues over the course of a run, not too tight or loose. It’s right where I’d want to be, if I’m being honest.”

“That’s good, and it shows on the clock as you maintain over 10, 20 laps,” Dave replies back to her having watched the lap times over the course of both practices. “I’d just feel a little more comfortable if we were a little quicker on the short run because you know how the races typically end up with one of those late-race cautions.”  Sarina nods her head in agreement, as she knew it’d also hurt in qualifying on Saturday.

“I just don’t want to give up that comfortable feeling as I’ve felt that we’ve been missing that a couple weeks, hence why we’ve faded in the late stages. If we can keep that feeling, we can run solidly up front all day.” Dave wasn’t about to argue as he knew a happy, comfortable driver produced better than someone complaining.

“I’ll look over things tonight and tomorrow, as I have a couple ideas that we could go with. But don’t worry – I will try and keep that comfort that you’re liking. Maybe it’s just the fact that car looks awesome blue.” She couldn’t help but smile as she had quickly became of the new paint scheme herself.

She then leaves the garage stall, ready to head back to the trailer and change ahead of Cup qualifying. She knew she could stand on pit road with Abigail in her firesuit, but it’d be much more comfortable changed into a t-shirt and jeans.

The fact that a crowd filled the infield didn’t surprise her, as that was the case every week. It was also why she kept a marker in her pocket, as she knew they’d want autographs. She easily accepted the offers as she began the walk through the garage, signing as many as she could, along with taking a couple photos along the way.

“Damn, I can see why Chase married you,” she hears one of the young male fans comment. She could only roll her eyes, having grown used to comments like that.

“Thanks for the compliment,” she easily responds, just like any other day. “I’ll be sure to pass along the appreciation.”

“So does he squeeze that ass of yours every night?” The comment was a little further than she expected the fan to go, but again, it happened every once in a while. She just ignored as usual, focusing on other fans. “I bet he slaps that ass every night, eh sweet thang?” She then feels a slap against her ass, causing her to snap in the direction of the fan.

“How about you keep your filthy hands to yourself, please and thank you?” She then takes a deep breath, trying to put it out of her mind, as she turns her focus back to the other fans looking for autographs.

“I bet Carter enjoyed the chance to touch you all over, fulfilling every guy’s fantas-”

“That’s enough!” A new voice breaks in the picture, as an arm wraps around Sarina’s shoulders. “Just so you know, this will be the last time that you’re allowed in the garage area.”

“Aww I’m sorry, did the truth hurt your wee little feelings?” The fan questions, but the comment was totally ignored as Sarina is led out of the crowd and to the hauler as she intended.

Dave leads her inside, sliding the door shut, before walking up to the lounge and doing the same thing. He watches as she slowly sits on the couch, still stuck in her own thoughts about what had just transpired, as he hands her a cold bottle of water.

“Are you okay?” Dave questions as he takes his usual seat, fighting between the urge of going into his notes as usual and letting her be, or being the comforting force in this situation.

“Thank you,” Sarina quietly whispers in response, as she continues taking small sips of the water, letting it slowly calm her down as she tries to let every thought escape her mind. “As soon as he mentioned Carter’s name, I just froze….”

“I was headed back here as planned, ready to go over notes before meeting up with Jason (Burdett) and I heard the comment. It caught my attention, and then I noticed you froze so I just took charge.” It was as if Dave’s words didn’t sink in for Sarina as she sat there, still froze.

“As he said Carter’s name, it brought me back to the bedsroom, and what happened. Touching me all over, I couldn’t get it out of my mind as I still remember what every single touch felt like and how sick it made me feel.”  She finally looks up and looks over at Dave. “I just wanted to puke on that guy in that very moment.”

“You should’ve as there was no right for those comments. Thankfully, he won’t have a chance to say those again.” Dave had already done the liberty of sending an image of the fan to NASCAR security, describing the incident to have his HOT pass removed.

“I probably looked like a fool standing in that sea of people froze like that…” Dave was about to put the issue to bed, but her comment instantly taught his attention. “The simple mention of his name, and I’m a statue.”

“Anybody who’s been through what you went through would be understanding of your reaction. They would be comforting to your feelings, knowing that you just don’t forget or let go. Don’t put much thought into what happened. Nobody will care or say anything. Just maybe for the next couple of weeks, have someone walk back with you in case. I know you wanted no special treatment, but it’s okay to accept a hand sometimes.” Sarina hated to admit that the crew chief was right, but she knew another incident like that wouldn’t be a good idea. Furthermore, incidents like that could turn ugly quick.

“I’ll keep that in mind, thank you…”  Dave pulls out his laptop as he originally planned, feeling as though the conversation was put to bed. He knew that they weren’t close as there was no chance that she’d go into further details with him.

“I texted Alan that you were running a little late in coming to get Abigail, sharing as minimal details as possible but enough to warn that there’s a couple crazy fans around. He appreciated the message, and said that the guys would watch Abigail as Chase headed out.” Sarina wasn’t surprised to hear that in return, as she knew how much the crew guys enjoyed spending time with Abigail. It seemed her giggles, and mumbles caused them to melt immediately, with her favorite activity being able to jump on their knees as they held her.

Sarina walks over to Chase, leaning over the roof of the car as she glances over at him.

“I know it wasn’t what you wanted, but it could be worse,” she offers, catching his attention. He then lets out a sigh, as he wasn’t about to be happy with qualifying 12th. “You could’ve qualified 22nd, or 32nd.”

“We were quicker in practice, and the car felt more comfortable, though,” he replies, summarizing his comments for Alan following the run. “I know it’s a long race and we can make our way forward, but I’d rather be starting up front than in the sixth row. We can’t keep giving up in qualifying if we’re going to start winning races.” She then makes her way over to him, leaning her head against him.

“One step at a time. It’s progress compared to earlier this season.” Chase couldn’t argue with there, and things could certainly be much worse right now as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“Alan said there was a brief incident in the garage with a fan. Are you okay?” She nods her head back in response. “What happened, anyway?”

“I was heading back to the hauler, and this fan came up and made a comment that he understood why you married me. I accepted the compliment, telling him I’d pass it along to yo-”

“I appreciate the sentiment, but he has to understand that you’re my girl and I don’t share well.” Sarina lets out a sigh, wishing that was something that’d always stayed true. Instead, another person had gotten the chance to get their hands on her.

“He then slapped my ass while complimenting it, which I told him to keep his filthy hands to himself. He then made the comment that Carter probably enjoyed his time with me – and I just froze like a statue. It took me right back to what happened, and I couldn’t move. Dave noticed and he led back to the hauler.” Chase pulls her a little closer, knowing that feeling as he remembered some of his past flashbacks to Alison.

“Just so you know, you’re not a fool for how you reacted. It’s understa-”

“Dave already told me what I wanted to hear, Chase.” She then takes a deep breath, glancing over the car before looking down at the ground. “I just want the day to come when it doesn’t bother me, when I don’t think about it, when we’re not talking about it. I don’t want it to always be like this. I don’t want to this to be what defines my thoughts.”

“It’ll come, I promise you that day will come. You just need to give it time, patience, and fully work your way through everything. We’re going to be okay.” He then leans in and gives her a kiss.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 250: Another Testimony for Chase

Monday, May 20 – Phoenix, Arizona

Chase leans back against the wall, thinking things over as he takes a couple deep breathes. It was just a matter of telling what happened a couple weeks ago. He had to put the emotions aside, the fact of what happened at the same time in his own home to his girls, and just tell the tale as he had done times before.

“Are you okay?” He hears, nodding his head without moving an inch. “Do you want to talk about it?” He shakes his head no, knowing that’d get him nowhere, just like it hadn’t on Friday with Alan. “I’m here when you want to talk about it, okay?”

“I appreciate that, Dad, always,” he finally speaks, letting his eyes leave the spot they were looking at in no particularity to look at his father. “But trust me, I’m fine.”

Once the doors to the court room opened, he brought himself to walk through them, taking his seat in the front row as he was supposed to. He didn’t need to glance left or right to know that Sarina and his dad had joined him.

“You don’t need to be there,” he remembered telling Sarina earlier that morning.

“I know – but I want to be there for you,” she had told him in response. He could still see him placing his hands on her shoulders, rubbing them, offering whatever comfort that he could.

“I appreciate that, but I also know how painful it is for you to face him. I don’t want you to have to go through tha-”

“Chase, I’ll be fine. Let me be there for you, please…”

He instinctively reaches over, clutching her hand with his as he watches Carter be led into the court room, followed by Alison and Damien, as they had done weeks prior. It was the same process over and over, but it never got any more comforting to watch.

“All rise!” The baliff announces as he had done previous weeks, with everybody standing up accordingly. “Now presenting the honorable Judge Jackson Pruitt.” Chase watches as he enters and takes his seat accordingly. He was glad to not be in front of him facing a sentence anymore knowing how strict he was, but yet thankful at the same time that Jackson was handling their case. Hopefully being handled professionally and by the book would end things once and for all.

“You may be seated,” the judge announces, as everyone takes their seats accordingly. Chase knew that it wouldn’t last long with being the called upon witness of the day. “Court proceedings will continue today, with the prosecution beginning their round of witnesses and questioning in relation to the additional charges. District Attorney Kyle Gates, who would you like to call as your first witness?”

“Your honor, the prosecution would like to call Chase Elliott to the stand,” Kyle states, which was no surprise at all. Chase slowly lets go of Sarina’s hand before standing up and making his way to the front of the room, taking the familiar seat in the witness box.

“Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth so help you God?” The baliff questions as he gets him to hold his hand upon the bible.

“I do,” Chase replies, keeping his eyes locked firmly on Sarina for the time being. He still didn’t feel comfortable with her being in the room that Carter was in.

“Mr. Elliott, can you please take us back to the events on Monday, April 22?” Kyle Gates questions. Although Chase hadn’t itched the date in his mind, it was one that he wouldn’t forget.

“As per the documents of the court, I showed up at the Delaware Psychitractic Center for an assessment,” he begins, still not letting his eyes leave Sarina. “I told the secretary my name, and agreed to the policy that they set forth before me in how these events would be handled.”  He still remembered his expressed frustration with the process.

“As previously presented to the courts, there were documents stating the court appointed assessment and Mr. Elliott’s arrival according to plan. These were supported by video. Mr. Elliott, you were taken to a room per the procedure that they had in place. What happened once you were in a room?”

“I just laid on the bed waiting for when they would come to get me. It was maybe 10, 15 minutes later that I heard the door unlock and I thought it was the psychiatrist. Instead, it was Damien Crane. We began discussing why he was there with my obvious confusion, with him initially trying to state that he was checking on me. He eventually made the comment that nobody is at home with your wife and your daughter…” He then bites his own tongue, feeling those mix of emotions flooding back in, as he knows what happened. If only he had been there to do something about it.

“Then what happened, Mr. Elliott?” Chase takes a deep breath, trying to clear those thoughts out of his mind as he tries to focus on recalling what happened.

“I picked up on what he was implying and mentioned Carter. He then showed me a photo on his phone of Carter standing at the rear entrance to my house.” Chase still shakes his head in his remembering the photo on the phone.

“Evidence 2A – Damien Crane’s phone, which includes the photo that Mr. Elliott is describing, dated accordingly.” It was actually nice to have Damien’s plea as it meant that they were easily able to collect additional evidence.

“He then told me that Carter would leave them alone and leave, as long as I agreed to whatever plan he had in mind. I’ll do whatever it takes to protect my girls, and keep them safe as they are my world. So I agreed to the plan.” Sarina glances down, taking a couple deep breathes of her own. She knew how much Chase loved and cared about her, and the lengths he was willing to go. Now to hear that Carter disobeyed anyway made it more painful. “He told me to cause a scene that would get me thrown into solitary confinement, adding that there’d be a surprise once I got down there. I told him to open the door and I’d give him what he wanted. So he opened the door and asked if he could help me. That’s when I went off as he requested.”

“Recall Evidence 1A was a copy of the incident report and Evidence 1B was a video of the incident, both showcased during Damien’s testimony. Mr. Elliott, you were taken down the hall to solitary confinement. What happened next?” Chase takes a deep breath, trying to remember the details though everything still remained fuzzy.

“I remember laying on the bed in there, the room smaller than the previous room. I remember hearing the door open, and watching Alison enter the room. I pushed her back, I tried to get away – but she was able to prick me in the arm.” He then glances down, knowing that was when she had drugged him. If only he had moved his arm out of the way by a slim bit and avoided her for a little longer. “The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital room with my dad alongside.”

“Recall Evidence 1C was the drug report from Delaware State Hospital showing ketamine was in Mr. Chase Elliott’s system. Recall Evidence 1E was a video of Ms. Alison Reynolds escaping her room and entering Mr. Elliott’s room. Thank you for sharing your story, Mr. Elliott. Your witness.” Chase watches as Kyle sits down, followed by Nellie Martin standing up. He was actually intrigued to see what questions she was going to ask.

“Through your whole story, you never mentioned my name,” Nellie Martin begins, as Chase watches her curious. Was she just focused on making sure that she was not connected to what happened? “Did you witness any involvement by myself that day?”

“No, but you were the one that insisted in the court room that my assessment be done at the Delaware facility despite the fact court sessions are taking place here in Arizona,” Chase was quick to remind her. it made sense now given the trail of events that she helped set-up.

“But at any time, did you hear my name mentioned in relation to what happened?” Chase lets out a sigh as he knew that was her focus now. He just hoped everything stated by Damien yesterday did the dirty work.

“No.” Nellie smiles as she was glad to get that out of the way.

“What about Carter? You saw a photo of him at your property. Anything else?” Chase chuckles as he knew the tactics being used here.

“No.” However, he knew the video evidence from the house, combined with the hospital evidence on Sarina and Christopher’s testimony would accomplish their goals.

“And obviously the photo could’ve been photo shopped to have that date stamp….” He wasn’t even going to bother answering or diffusing. There was enough evidence elsewhere for Carter. “Did you see Alison stick a needle into your own?”

“As I said, I saw her enter the room. I pushed her back, I tried to get away – but she was able to prick me in the arm.” Was it that obvious?

“But did you see the needle?” Why did it matter if he saw the needle or not? Alison had a pattern of this type of behavior against him, and a prick followed by being knocked out would equal needle.

“No, I physically did not see the needle in question.” What was Nellie trying to create in her line of questioning?

“Thank you.” Nellie then takes her seat as planned, as Chase glances over at the judge. He just wanted to get out of there.

“You may step down,” Judge Jackson Pruitt gives him permission, which he quickly accepts, returning to the bench where Sarina and his father sat. “Court will reconvene at a later date for more testimony. Court adjourned!”

Everybody gets up and makes their way through the court room, followed by out of the doors as Chase and Sarina hold hands.

“Are you okay?” Sarina questions and Chase nods his head, accepting. “You can tell me whatever you’re fee-”

“I’m fine,” he assures her, followed by a quick kiss on the forehead. “Listen, it’s going to work out. We’re going to be fine. This is the beginning to the end, finally.”

Tuesday, May 21 – Charlotte, North Carolina

Chase pulls up in front of JR Motorsports, smiling as he looks over at Sarina. They share a quick kiss, before she hops out of the Tahoe, before opening the door for the backseat.

“I thought she was coming to work with me,” Chase comments as Sarina begins to undo Abigail’s car seat.

“She can’t come to work with you every day,” Sarina replies. “She hasn’t come with me to JRM for a good three weeks now.” Chase wasn’t about to hide it – he loved taking her to the shop meetings at Hendrick Motorsports as any time with his daughter was amazing. It also didn’t hurt that the guys loved her. “She can come to work with you tomorrow.”

“Can’t – NASCAR on NBC production shoot.” Chase would’ve preferred hanging out with Abigail and the guys over that anyday.

“She’d look cute on the pre-race videos…” Chase knew that would probably be the case, but that wasn’t the angle they were looking for. “She can go with you Thurs-”

“We’re both at the track pract-”

“Frid-”

“Fan fest at our respective shops, although she helping me sign autographs would be adorable.” Sarina had to chuckle as she knew everybody would probably eat that up – well, except for the jealous girls. “Alright, you can take her today – as long as I get to take her a couple days next week.”

“Deal. We love you…” Sarina then heads off inside with her as Chase hears his phone go off with a text message. He reaches over, picking it up, chuckling as he reads the message.

it didn’t take long, but he was able to stop at the gas station and fill up the small gas can, before routing the GPS to the coordinates that he had been sent. He follows the directions accordingly, smiling with a chuckle as he rolls up behind Ryan on the highway.

“Thanks for bailing me out,” Ryan comments as he watches Chase climb out of the Tahoe, grabbing the gas can.

“You’re lucky that I was in the state today,” he replies, as normally he would’ve done shop meetings on Monday. “Now, are you going to get that gas gauge fixed?”

“I suppose I should….” Chase just rolls his eyes as Ryan pours the gas into the tank. “I owe you lunch for this. Your choice.”

“Do you realize that I am going to make you pay for this?” Ryan lets out a sigh, but nods his head, not surprised.

“Like I said, name the place…”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 249: All-Star Race

Friday, May 17 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Sarina glanced out on the track, watching as Chase started off with his first of two practice sessions ahead of tomorrow night’s All-Star Race. She couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief as the weekend got started, knowing for once they didn’t have to worry about the Open or the fan vote as he was locked in this year, and next year already for that matter.

That left her mind to wonder about other pressing matters. The trial and what could come for Carter, Alison and Nellie wanted to take the next spot in her mind – but she didn’t want to allow that to happen. She still couldn’t stomach the thought of Carter after he had put his hands all over of her. That left only one topic on the table.

“So, can you believe you’re getting married in – oh, a month and a half?” She questions with a glance to her left. With both ladies having babies in toe, they decided to pick a quiet spot in the infield to watch together. Sarina couldn’t wait to see Abigail and Evelyn play together as they got older being only just over a month apart, nor could she wait to meet the new addition to the Blaney family.

“I’m excited, if I’m being honest,” Lindsay replies with a smile. “I mean, at first I thought I’d be freaking out as the day came closer due to such late planning. But the fact that we got everything out of the way early, including my dress, it just makes me smile now when I think about it. The only worry – making sure that the dress fits appropriately.” Sarina chuckles, in knowing Lindsay was just two months pregnant now, meaning she’d be three and a half on her wedding day.

“You shouldn’t be too much bigger as normally it doesn’t really pop out that much till the fourth month and beyond – or at least you should know from experience. I mean, at least you’re not getting married while you’re seven months pregnant.” Lindsay shakes her head as she remembered back to that experience with Sarina and Chase, and the last minute alterations that Samantha had to arrange for her.

“Strangely, this pregnancy is also going much better. I’m not feeling that morning sickness as much,  and the other symptoms that we both talked about oh so too much. They say that you can normally feel the baby sooner in your second pregnancy, so I hope that’s the case too.” Sarina couldn’t help but smile as she remembered the first time she felt Abigail kick.

“So, what are you hoping for? A boy this time, another girl, or does it really matter?” Lindsay hadn’t wanted to get into that discussion, but she knew that there was a preference.

“To be honest? I don’t care as long as the child is happy, and Ryan and I are happy together. But it would be nice to have a little boy to add to the family.” It was just another reason for Sarina to smile as she felt a boy and a girl would be a perfect combination for any family, just like she and Chase had originally envisioned for themselves.

“When Chase and I first started talking about having kids, we both came to the conclusion a boy and a girl would be perfect. He actually said he had a dream of us down the road, five years from now, with one of each. Sometimes I wonder if the baby that I lost was a boy.” Lindsay reaches over, placing her hand on top of Sarina’s as a sign of support. She couldn’t imagine going through what Chase and Sarina had been through together.

“Does it offer you any comfort now thinking about that?” Sarina shrugs her shoulders, as it was a touchy subject depending on the day.

“There’s some days where I can think about it and it doesn’t bother me. There’s other days where I wonder what if? Then there’s day where I just want to break down and cry, hating that the opportunity let go. Do you want to hear something cute? Brexton was telling me how his little sister is in heaven with great grandma and such – baby doinkey as he called her. I told him that she wasn’t alone, because I feel that she has a little boy to play with, Chase and my baby that we lost. He smiled and told me that they were probably dancing on the clouds.” Lindsay couldn’t help but feel a bit emotional in hearing that relation together.

“I don’t care what  anybody says about Kyle and Samantha, because they have become two of the most amazing people that I’ve gotten to know. Kyle may have this attitude on track that sucks at times, but he and Sam are raising one incredible little boy.” Sarina nods her head in agreement, still shocked that his birthday was tomorrow and he’d be another year older.

“She’s also inspiring for everything that she’s doing with spreading awareness about IVF. It inspires me sometimes to want to get up there, and tell my story, and let everybody know everything. But then I stand back and I don’t know she does it.” Lindsay nods her head in agreement, still in shock that Samantha went through the banquet weekend knowing she’d lost the baby without saying a word to anybody.

“You’re going to get there, too. You’re going to find your way through everything. I believe in you.” Sarina couldn’t help but smile, as her eyes finally glanced up at the scoring pylon.

She wasn’t surprised to see that Chase was only 13th quickest, given that he had been complaining about a free condition with the car as they got into the second run. The other frustrating factor of practice was them losing a tiny bit of time on track due to a flat tire.

Taking a deep breath, she brought herself back to the thoughts before the discussion with Lindsay. They had another practice, and at least they were locked in the show this year.

Alan walks over to the pit box, glancing at his driver with a bit of a surprised glance, before looking over the notes as he was originally going to.

“I know that we suck right now, but it could be worse,” Alan starts, catching Chase’s attention. The crew chief certainly was right as there was nothing comforting being only 15th quickest, out of 15 cars. “I mean, Jimmie was complaining about parts falling off with the new rule package – which I kind of get where he’s coming from, but we’re only 10 minutes down the road from the shop. It’ll be fixed.” Alan then focuses his attention back on his driver. “I mean, this is the all-star race. Let’s have some fun with it.”

“While I’m not happy being the slowest, that’s not what has me down,” Chase replies, earning a glance of intrigue from the crew chief. “Alycia just sent me confirmation that I have to testify on Monday.”

“Oh.” Alan then takes a deep breath, having wanted to originally discuss the handling issues and trying to solve their problems but knowing that was least of their worries right now. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“What else is there to say? I just need to walk in there, get up on the stand, and tell everybody exactly what happened from the moment I walked into the Delaware facility to when I woke up in the hospital. I’ve testified before. I know the drill.” Alan remembered the last time that Chase had to testify, and the time before that. He knew out of those experiences, the first of those telling the tale of Alison’s sexual assault was the worse.

“While it’s the same story, new dance, the emotions are still probably there once again just like before. I know she didn’t get to do anything much this time, but the thought of what she was trying accomplish.” Chase glances down, as he knew everybody thought his mind was stuck on what happened with Alison in the room. However, that wasn’t what he was thinking about.

“The thought of being stuck in a room helpless to her hands, the thought of leaving Sarina and Abigail alone in the house vulnerable while knowing Carter was out there, and knowing what happened – that’s what makes this harder than anything.” Alan wasn’t surprised, as he knew that Chase was willing to do whatever it took for his girls.

“You have to know that it wasn’t your fault what happ-”

“Damien told me that if I went along with his plan and Alison’s surprise, Carter would leave Sarina alone. I went through what I did to protect her – and what was that worth in the end? You don’t see her shivers and her tears at the mere sight of our bedsroom in our house where we were supposed to raise our kids. Half the time, she can’t stand to sleep in there due to flashbacks. How would you feel sleeping in the guest room of your own home? Then there’s the nightmares and screams in the middle of the night of pure terror, to where I have to cuddle and rock her back to sleep because she’s so afraid. Any time that I think about what being locked in that room, my mind goes to what Sarina went through.” Alan nods his head, easily understanding where Chase was coming from with his thoughts.

“Have she talked about anything to what happened?” Chase shakes his head no. “They say it gets easier with time, and you’ve seen that yourself. The fact that you can mention Alison’s name without shivering is progress. Sarina is going to get there, too. You just need to give her time. I also know that you want to fault and kick yourself in the ass, but damn it Chase, just keep telling yourself it wasn’t your fault and you couldn’t have done anything. Continuing to play the blame game is just going to hurt more.”

“I know, I keep telling myself that, but convincing my heart that I couldn’t have stopped her pain and taken it away isn’t easy.”

“I know….” Chase then clears his throat, glancing back at the notes, before eyes on the crew chief.

“So, what were you going to tell me before we started talking?” Alan wanted to continue discussing the topic at hand, but bit his tongue as he knew to not push Chase unless it was absolutely necessary. For now, it was time to offer the distraction that he needed.

“I wanted to discuss the dynamics of this package, running side-by-side with people, lanes, different feelings you had with the car. I just want to figure what direction we need to go with this. Like, when you were side-by-side with Kevin, what was the car doing?”

Chase climbs out of the car, making his way back up pit road to join up with Sarina. With a pure grin on his face, he accepts his daughter from her hands, before sharing a quick kiss.

“How do you think you did?” Sarina questions, in relation to the qualifying effort. “I’d say that smile means you did really well.”

“Actually, I didn’t even bother to looking at where we are,” Chase answers, smiling as Abigail chuckles in his arms. “That was too much fun to not smile about!”

“Oh really?” Chase nods his head as they watch the next driver take to the track for their effort.

“It’s just so surreal and strange coming down pit road with no speed limit – but yet so much fun at the same time. From the crazy arch that you take and feeling as you drop off the banking, to the sudden stop in front of the crew. That was way too much fun!” Sarina had to smile back in response, certainly looking forward to when she’d get the opportunity to do it herself.

“Can they give the Xfinity drivers a chance to do it one week for shits and giggles?” Chase nods his head in agreement as he knew it was an experience everybody should feel.

“I’d seriously try it if you are testing somewhere because it felt more amazing than I thought it would. But you know what, you’re talented enough that you’ll be in the Cup Series one day, in this race, and get to do it yourself.” She smiles back at him, appreciating the confidence. However, there were sometimes she wondered if it would happen considering this Xfinity Series season hadn’t quite gone so great yet.

“Poor Abigail will be asking herself in the morning which shirt to wear – mommy or daddy. At least your mom would appreciate that as she’d get plenty of time babysitting.” Chase couldn’t help but agree as he knew how much Cindy loved spending time with Abigial already.

“Don’t worry – I’d get my princess a shirt with both of our cars on it.” He then tickles her belly, earning a couple bigger giggles in response. That lasted until she was able to grab hold of his sunglasses, trying to take them off. “Hey now, you can’t eat those…”

“I heard plastic tastes good…” Chase just rolls his eyes as he takes the sunglasses off, placing them up on top of his hat. That only caused her to reach up and try to grab his hat off of his head. “She’s going to get them one way or another….”

“Oh no way…”

Saturday, May 18 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

With having ran up and down through the pack over the course of the stages, they knew that they had a decent car enough to run with the front pack. That was why the decision came easy to Alan when the caution came out before the final stage.

“Stay out,” Alan immediately instructs his driver, feeling that track position was going to matter. He was planning on everybody going crazy, with them being able to cruise away having the clean air in hand.

The plan started off accordingly, as Chase pulled out in front off of the green flag, taking the lead as he envisioned. However, with the package being utilized, he was unable to cruise away as Alan originally envisioned. Those who pitted also were able to make their way through the pack, with Kyle Larson leading the charge past Chase. Once he was out of the clean air, it was game over, as the free condition experienced through practice was back and he dropped back like a rock. Ultimately, he crossed the finish line with a 14th-place finish.

“If there’s a week that you’re going to gamble and be wrong, it is this week,” Sarina offers as she walks over to the No. 9 Chevrolet after the race with Alan in toe.

“I also don’t want it to be a reason that you don’t take gambles in the future as the theory was right – if this was a normal package,” Chase adds. “We have a win – we can afford to play.”

“I like your theory,” Alan replies with a smile of his own. With them finding speed in the cars lately and running in the top-five, it was time to start taking advantage and perhaps pick up a couple wins. “Here’s to a successful summer with hopefully some more black and white moments – not just for us, but also for the lady.”

“I think someone agrees with you,” Sarina comments, as Abigail lets out a chuckle from her hands, trying to jump up a little.

“Aren’t you supposed to be sleeping?” Alan then rubs her cheeks, causing a couple more chuckles. “I guess we can make an exception for tonight.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 248: Digital Ally 400

Friday, May 10 – Somewhere over the United States

With the court session out of the way, Sarina was glad to be on a plane headed to Kansas so she could be with Chase. After that experience, even if limited in seeing Carter, there was nothing more comforting than being in his arms.

Although it was a short flight – 2 hours and 15 minutes, Sarina was still looking for ways to pass time. knowing that Chase had media availability following practice, she couldn’t help but glance at what he had to say out of curiosity.

“What are you chuckling about?” Christopher questions as he hears a couple chuckles from Sarina, catching his attention. Considering the seriousness of the day, he was honestly was surprised.

“Chase’s media availability,” she replies, which results in a confused glance in response. “He’s finally finding his honest tone with their constant questions, and I think the reporters are getting more than they would’ve thought.”

“Oh really?” She nods her head, re-loading the quote on her phone.

“They asked him about his thoughts on how NASCAR handles driver feedba-”

“Is that because of Kevin lashing out on his radio show on Tuesday?” She shrugs her shoulders, as she hadn’t honestly kept up with the news due to being busy enough herself with the court dates and Abigail.

“I think there is certainly a right way to maybe bring it up. Frankly, I’ve tried to voice my opinion at different times or in those meetings that we’re supposed to voice our opinions in. And at the end of the day, I’ve come to the realization, and maybe this will change as time goes, but I just don’t think that my opinion matters to the people who make the rules.” Christopher’s face instantly turned to shock as he took a closer glance to make sure that she was reading that correctly.

“That comes across more shocking especially with him being the most popular driver…” Sarina nods her head as she continues to read through the rest of the quotes. “But he is right. I mean, how many times have the drivers complained about the package and been ignored?”

“Is that way you stated a couple weeks ago that you weren’t about to change your role, and you enjoyed doing what you were doing with the Xfinity cars?” Christopher chuckles as he was surprised she remembered that so clearly.

“Listen, everybody would love to be in the Cup Series one day. But you have to admit – these cars are a ton of fun to drive everywhere.” She nods her head in agreement as she couldn’t complain about her current situation with JR Motorsports.

“Christopher, thank you for coming with me, from the trip to Arizona to the flight back. It means the world to me.” He smiles as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“Anything for my best friend.”

Friday, May 10 – Kansas Speedway

Chase climbs out of the car, glancing at the scoring pylon with a shrug. There was nothing to complain about being fifth quickest. It was better than they had practiced, gave them somewhere solid to start off tomorrow night, and the car was driving decent.

Of course, though, it wasn’t the pole that he would’ve preferred but you cannot always have that as warranted.

“It was okay, it was fine,” he tells the media following the session. “I thought everything was smooth and our car drove okay, which was fine. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

“Do you have confidence form last fall for tomorrow night?” One of the media members ask, referencing his win at Kansas Speedway last October. It was the common question that they seemed to develop when you had previously won somewhere.

“It’s so different. It’s hard to really carry that. And, that was a long time ago too. You’d like to think so, yeah, it doesn’t hurt for sure.”

He then goes through answering a couple more questions, before meeting up with Alan. With a strong qualifying effort, the debrief session was quick as there wasn’t much to discuss and go over for tomorrow – having done so already.

With everything done for the day, he made his way to the motorcoach lot, knocking on a familiar door that he had seen many times. A smile immediately formed on his face as the door opened to a young face.

“Hi Chase,” Lydia says with a smile to match his as she never hated seeing her buddy.

“Hey Lydia,” he replies, easily accepting the hug that she was offering. “Was Abigail a good girl?” Lydia nods her head right away. “That’s good.”

“Sarina is here, too.” Chase’s response turns to shock in the comment as he hadn’t expected her to be back from Arizona yet. He also thought she would’ve come out to pit road.

“Oh really?” Lydia nods her head, before leading Chase inside by the hand. “Sarina, he here.” Sarina looks over with a smile to match Chase’s.

“Hey babes,” she replies, before standing up off of the couch and walking over. She quickly gives Chase a kiss, followed by a little hug. “Nice job in qualifying.”

“How long have you been here?” Chase asks, still caught off-guard by her appearance.

“I got here as you finished qualifying. I figured that you’d be busy with media and Alan, so I came to see our princess.” Chase smile as he looks over at Abigail in her arms, earning a chuckle back in response. “Chandra told me that she was an angel.”

“Lydia told me that, too. I’m just glad that you’re here.” Sarina could easily see where Chase was going with the comment, but wanting to hold back with others around.

“It wasn’t easy, but I got through it. There were tears, and I felt like jumping up and running, but I saw through it all. Damien did us good.” Chase nods his head, having read her text message from earlier. “Alycia feels that the rest of the testimony is just going to solidify everything – but it’s not necessary as everything spells out nicely.”

“I want to be confident in what she’s saying, but I’m not going to say anything until I have the verdict in hand.” Sarina easily understood where he was coming from, as they’d been down this road plenty of times before.

Saturday, May 11 – Kansas Speedway

Although the day started off with smiles, that did not last long as Chase would fail pre-race technical inspection, resulting in having to start at the tail of the field.

“Again?” That’s all Sarina could say when Chase passed along the message to her from Alan.

“You know we’re pushing the envelopes and how close things are,” Chase replies, trying to reason what had happened. “Trust me, it doesn’t make me happy either – but there’s nothing we can do. We can handle it. We have a good car.”

His prediction was right on the money, as he was able to make his way to the front of the field quickly, showing speed through the first half of the event en route to winning the second stage.

The speed carried over into the final stage of the event, as he’d lead laps, trading the lead back and forth with Alex Bowman.

“As much as I want Chase to win tonight, I’d really feel bad for Alex if he finished second again,” Sarina comments, referencing the back-to-back runner-ups for Alex entering the night. “He honestly deserves to break through for his first win. That said, go Chase go!”

“Don’t worry – we all agree with you,” Josh Kirk offers in response with a chuckle.

Unfortunately, as the race got into the later stages, the handling would begin to go away as Chase developed a loose condition. He would slip dead sideways, barely hanging onto the car, which caused him to lose a couple spots. He’d fight back with a couple late race passes, crossing the finish line with a fourth-place finish.

“How do you feel about today’s run?” The reporter asks Chase following the event. Sarina had to smile herself, as it was certainly much nicer to running consistently in the top-five on the intermediate tracks after struggling through the first couple.

“It was okay,” Chase replied which didn’t surprise Sarina. “It was nice running top-five. I hate to have been leading the laps that we did and not finish it off, but what do you do? It’s unfortunate.” Sarina lets out a sigh, hearing that regret that she was used to with Chase in situations like this. It was all about the end result – not the performance through the night. She knew as a racer herself it really stung to give up the track position late in the event. However, that didn’t mean that she felt bad right now.

“What are your thoughts on the package with the conclusion of the race?” Sarina admittedly was a fan as she had been intrigued by the racing throughout the night, especially during the late stages with the three-wide battles for positions. It was an edge of your seat event, and one you didn’t want to take your eyes off of in fear of missing something.

“I think this track suited with what they were after, as far as being able to draft and be close to each other.” Sarina had to agree, knowing the fresh pavement certainly made that easier to do than other places. “This is kind of the perfect storm for it. I don’t really think it’s realistic everywhere. It was exciting tonight, so that was a win for them.”

Sarina stands back, letting Chase finish up with a couple more interviews before heading over to where she was standing. She immediately wraps her arms around him, as he takes Abigail from her arms.

“You did a good tonight,” she replies. “These are the types of runs that give me confidence for the summer stretch.” Chase nods his head in agreement. “I know you hate giving it away at the end, but don’t lose sight of the speed that you had – and how far you’ve come since the beginning of this season.”

“When you put it that way, I guess I’m bitching over small things right now.” She chuckles nodding her head.

“It’s okay, though, because I understand the frustration….”

Wednesday, May 15 – Philadelphia

Chase stands back, watching as Sarina interacts with the couple of media members, answering their questions.

“I’m surprised to see you here,” Chase hears, catching his attention as he glances over his shoulder. He smiles, not surprised by the direction of the comment from Justin Allgaier.

“And how come?” He wonders, out of pure curiosity. It did seem odd a bit as the other drivers hadn’t brought their wives and girlfriends with them.

“I thought you would’ve been enjoying your day off, or spending quality time with your daughter. Instead, you’re in the middle of Philadelphia taking photos of Sarina, whom you always get to see anyway.” Chase chuckles as it did sound ridiculous when Justin put it so simply.

“With everything that’s happened recently, she wanted some extra support with her.” Justin nods his head, understanding as he had heard some brief details about what happened. “I also don’t mind staring at her, either, and it gives me some practice to make my photos that much better. She also wants to make sure that she’s not late for the Catwalk for a Cause tonight so I’m her ride.”

“So you’re all about pleasing the beauty….” Chase smiles, as he couldn’t hide that fact at all. “I can’t blame you as she’s certainly a special one. Can you somehow talk her into laying off on the jokes on me, though?”

“I’ll think about it, but someone needs to keep you in line…” Justin just rolls his eyes in response.

The group continues to tour around the city, with the drivers partaking in the scheduled fan autograph session, followed by a tour of the city atop a double decker bus. Their trip finished off with them reaching the mountain that Rocky famously climbed in his movie.

“Can we expect to see you go running up that?” Chase questions, as they watch Tyler, Justin and John Hunter Nemechek go running up the steps.

“Are you serious?” She asks, glancing over at him in shock. “Oh hell no.”

“Come on, it’d be a fun entertaining photo…” She shakes her head no. “I thought you’d be all for proving the boys wrong.” She then chuckles as she looks back towards the steps, seeing them halfway up.

“I don’t need to prove anything. Do you see how they took off already? That’s because they knew they needed a head start to beat me.” Chase looks over surprised, but had to laugh as he watched the group go running up the hill.

“Would you race me up the stairs?” She was actually surprised by the comment.

“Is that a challenge, Mr. Elliott? Are you prepared to lose?” He then sets aside his camera and stuff with her PR rep, before looking back towards her. “Oh now we’re getting serious.”

“You know that I don’t come to play games, right?” She nods her head, having been down this road before. “Winner gets to choose dinner tonight.”

“You’re on.”

Wednesday, May 15 – Catwalk for a Cause

“So even though I lost, I have to admit that dinner wasn’t too bad,” Chase comments, before pulling her close. “Although that’s easy when I have such a beauty to look at while I’m eating.”

“I’m glad that you like the outfit,” she replies, leaning in for a kiss. “I’m just glad that we could be here tonight for the kids.” Chase nods his head as he looks around, seeing the smiles on all of the faces.

“Sherry and Martin certainly have created something special here…” She then leans back against him in his arms, as he wraps them around her.

“It really puts things in perspective. We have a lot going on and we’ve been through so much. I mean, I don’t even  need to say anything as we both know that. However, no matter what we’ve been through, it doesn’t compare to what these kids are going through. Imagine having your whole life ahead of you, and you find out that you’re dying of cancer. Imagine sitting through those treatments. It really makes me thankful, that even with everything we’ve been through, that we’re able to do what we can. I love you, Chase.” Chase holds her a little tighter, as he kisses the top of her head.

“I love you, too, forever and always. Now, let’s go make those kids happy….”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 247: Damien’s Plea

Friday, May 10 – Arizona Court Room

Sarina stands by the door, taking a deep breath as she leans back against the wall.

“You should’ve gone to Kansas with Chase,” Christopher comments and she shakes her head no immediately.

“One of us needed to be here to take a stand,” she offers as he reaches out, rubbing her shoulders.

“I appreciate your strength, and I applaud you for everything that you continue to do, but you also need to realize your limits. You don’t always have to be the picture of strength. You can let those walls fall, and admit that you cannot do something.” She had been told that several times by more people than Christopher, but it just never seemed to stuck.

“That’s not who I am, though. I was always the fighter, the one doing whatever it took, standing up to someone. I can’t just snap my fingers and do that, Christopher. I can’t let myself become the weak pers-”

“You wouldn’t be, though, because everybody knows you as a pillar of strength for what you’ve done so far. Everybody knows how tough everything that you’re battling through is, and understands. Everybody would realize why you can’t just walk in that court room and be there alongside Carter. I was there in the bedsroom that day. I know what you went through. I saw the emotions on your face. It’s okay…” She slowly looks up off of the floor, letting each word carefully soak in. She almost made the choice to leave as suggested, reflecting on what he was telling her and what happened the other week. However, she couldn’t bring herself to follow through with that.

“I appreciate your advice, but I am going to do what I want to do here.” She then takes a deep breath, fixing her shirt once more, before turning to face the doors. She then takes another careful deep breath, entering the court room.

Knowing that Carter was on the right side sitting in the defendant’s chair, she kept her eyes focused forward as she took her seat on the left side of the room behind Kyle and Alycia. It was refreshing knowing that Alycia was on that side now, with nothing facing them head on.

“You have our support,” Christopher says quietly as he sits down alongside her with Morgan. Sarina simply nodded her head back in response, eyes still focused solely forward. “By the way, Chase was 16th in first practice.”

“Seriously?” Christopher shows her the screen with the live timing from the first Cup practice. “Ugh, that’s just the icing on the cake for today.”

“All rise!” The baliff announces as he had done previous weeks. Everybody stands up accordingly. “Now presenting the honorable Judge Jackson Pruitt.” Sarina’s eyes remain focused on the judge’s seat, watching Jackson take his seat as he had done the previous weeks. It felt nice to not be on the side of the criticism.

“You may be seated,” the judge announces, as everybody takes their seats accordingly in the room. “The court has received a motion as submitted by district attorney Kyle Gates. It appears as though one of the defendants will be changing their plea in trade for a lightened sentence. Am I reading the document correctly, Kyle Gates?”

“Yes sir,” Kyle replies as he gives Alycia a quick glance afterwards. It was nice to see them working together than against each other, as it probably should’ve been from the beginning.

“Damien Crane, may you please stand?” Damien follows the request, catching the aura of not only his lawyer by Carter and Alison. “According to this document before me, you are prepared to plead guilty to the charges of conspiracy of rape, conspiracy of attempted rape, conspiracy of drugging, robbery, impersonation of a law official. Is that correct, sir?”

“Yes sir,” Damien replies as Sarina glances down, taking a couple deep breathes. It never got easy hearing the word ‘rape’ mentioned, causing her stomach to flip each time. The gentle hand squeeze from Christopher at the same time was comforting.

“You also have pled guilty to two counts of harassment previously,” Judge Jackson Pruitt continues reading the document before him. “In exchange for your testimony in the court today, you will be serving a total of seven years along with being placed on the sexual offenders list. Are you aware of the sentence and accepting of the consequences?”

“Yes sir.” Judge Jackson Pruitt initials the piece of paper before setting it aside.

“You may come up to the stand to state your case.” Damien follows the request, taking a seat in the witness box. Sarina had been focusing her eyes forward, and that didn’t change as she let herself stare right at him. Considering he had a good hand in screwing with Chase’s life for a series of months, she wanted to hear what happened.

“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?” The baliff asks, and Damien Crane nods his head in return.

“I do,” he states as he holds his hand on the bible, before taking his seat accordingly.

“Mr. Crane, please take us back to the beginning of your association with Mr. Elliott,” Kyle Gates requests as he stands up to begin the questioning. Alycia had thought about handling it herself, but Kyle assured her that he’d do a good job while covering everything she had listed to be mentioned.

“I was approached by Mr. Carter Williams in February. I was running my own security detail company and he was aware of that via previous dealings. He mentioned that he knew of someone looking for personal security, which was Mr. Chase Elliott. He wanted me to take on the job, accepting the payment that would be offered – with a twist. He wanted me to create ways that he could gain access unaware to Mr. Elliott and his fellow parties. In exchange, he’d be paying me double my normal rate – on top of what Mr. Elliott was going to pay me.”  Sarina shakes her head as she listens, as it appeared money was the root of all evil once again. Why were these people easily bribed?

“Following the meeting with Mr. Williams, you got in touch with Mr. Elliott to discuss the services he was requiring, correct?” Damien nods his head, remembering the meeting in the hauler. He had to chuckle as he looked back at how things went down.

“Once I inquired about being willing to fulfill the request, Mr. Elliott arranged a meeting for myself and a fellow team member at the race track in his team’s hauler. Although Mr. Alan Gustafson was originally scheduled to attend, there was another member who was there instead – Mr. Ron Malec, I believe. I simply stated my company’s background and what we were prepared to do. I then stated that I was aware of Mr. Williams and his actions, and could easily prevent him from previous dealings. At that point, Mr. Malec became quite questionable about my intentions spilling into a debate, which Mr. Elliott did not take too kindly to and quickly shut off our meeting. Ultimately, I was not allowed the position.” Sarina smiles as she knew Ron deserved yet another hug for catching that so quickly in the discussion. She couldn’t even imagine how worse things could’ve gotten if Damien would’ve gotten the requested access.

“That, in return, resulted in you stalking both Mr. Elliott and Mrs. Laiken Baumgartner about the business opportunity – which you previously discussed with the courts. However, you had a more recent encounter with Mr. Elliott. How did that come together?”  Damien looks over at Carter, smiling as he couldn’t wait to finally spill everything out. No amount of money was worth what ended up transpiring.

“Carter came to me and stated that he was certain that his fate was going to be guilty as a result of the testimony in the court. He wanted to make sure that Mr. Elliott and Mrs. Elliott got a final going away present in style, the big one, before everything went down. He detailed to me how he had gotten his lawyer Ms. Nellie Martin to set up a psychological council for Mr. Elliott at the Delaware facility where Ms. Alison Reynolds was staying. He wanted me to use my security experience to make sure Ms. Reynolds got the access she required.” Sarina couldn’t help but smile in hearing everything come to light, as that perfectly matched up with the conspiracy theory and spelled it out for the jury. It’d be a miracle if they didn’t convict Carter, Alison, and Nellie now.

“Please detail how you accomplished the plan…” Damien still couldn’t believe how easy it was to make everything happen.

“I inquired with a friend that I knew was working at the Delaware facility about whether I could be hired for a job there. He told me that they were working, and he’d help me get in there so I could get some extra money even with the conviction over my head. He was successful, and I was hired as part of the psychological criminal ward security.” Sarina shakes her head in disgust, as she watches Alycia make a couple notes in the process. She already knew their next process would be taking down the facility.

“Being part of that wing gave you access to Mr. Elliott when he came in for his psychological evaluation…” Damien nods his head, remembering the discussion they had together. He still applauded Chase for how easily he co-operated, and was able to put together enough of a performance for everything to fall together.

“Once I saw the room that Mr. Elliott was placed in for waiting, I entered. I then explained to him that Carter was at his house and would go after Sarina and his daughter if he didn’t co-operate as planned. Of course, he listened to protect his family.” Sarina looks down, feeling a couple tears trickle down her face. He had gone through everything he did with Alison thinking that it was protecting her and Abigial. However, it seemed that Carter did not follow through as he was supposed to. “I instructed him to put on a show, find a way to get taken down to the maximum security department so that way I could arrange a surprise for him. He did as requested, shoving me, freaking out that I was not who I claimed to be and should be there. It caught the attention of staff, who cuffed him and took him down to a room.”

“Evidence 1A – a copy of the incident report as written up by the officer who escorted Mr. Chase Elliott to the room that day. Evidence 1B – a video of the incident as described by Mr. Damien Crane in the hallway.” The jury looks over the evidence in question as Kyle keeps his eyes focused on Damien. He almost wanted to look over at Nellie to see if she was squirming in her seat yet. “What did you do once Mr. Elliott was in the room?”

“I snuck into the medicine room via my staff card. I stole a vile of propofol and a vile of ketamine. Both of those drugs were handed over to Ms. Alison Reynolds for her using.” Sarina shakes her head as she couldn’t believe it had been so easy for everything to come together for them.

“Why did you hand those drugs over to Ms. Alison Reynolds?” Damien smiles as he takes a glance over at Alison, before focusing back on Kyle.

“Propofol is an anesthetic that Ms. Alison Reynolds was supposed to use to knock out the doctor when he came to check on her. Ketamine is a date-rape drug that Mr. Carter Williams requested I give her for what she wanted to do to Mr. Chase Elliott. She was supposed to knock out the doctor, steal his key card, and sneak into Chase’s room.”

“Evidence 1C – the drug report from Delaware State Hospital that shows ketamine was in Mr. Chase Elliott’s system. Evidence 1D – the drug report from the Delaware State Hospital that shows propofol was in Dr. Rick Spawn’s system. Evidence 1E – a video of the encounter in the hallway to where you see Ms. Alison Reynolds escape her room and enter the room Mr. Chase Elliott was placed in. Mr. Damien Crane, thank you for your time.”

“Any questions?” Judge Jackson Pruitt asks Nellie Martin once Kyle has taken his seat.

“What else can I say?” Nellie Martin questions in response. “He is obviously fabricating this story to get himself a lesser sentence.” Alycia smiled as she knew that wasn’t going to work, given that the video and physical evidence backed up all the claims being made. However, she had a point.

“Judge Jackson Pruitt, may I ask the witness a question?” Alycia Burrows requests, catching everyone’s attention. The judge had thought he was done with her actions once she cleared Chase of all charges.

“You may go ahead,” Judge Jackson Pruitt allowed, despite his own questions about her motive.

“Mr. Damien Crane, you wanted to enter this plea bargain as early as last Friday. Can you state why that did not happen?” Nellie Martin immediately glanced over with eye slits, as she knew the direction that Alycia was going with this questioning.

“Ms. Nellie Martin advised against me doing that whole trying to assure me that I had nothing to worry about,” Damien Crane explains. “That was when I asked the guard to contact Mr. Kyle Gates on my behalf.”

“Thank you,” Alycia replies, before sitting down with her own smile. That was the last piece of the puzzle to connect the conspiracy together.

“You may go back to your seat,” Judge Jackson Pruitt allows, releasing Damien Crane from the witness box. “Court will convene at a later date with more testimony. Court adjourned!”

Everybody quickly files out, with Alycia sharing a quick hug of assurance with Sarina, before leaving.

“Are you okay?” Christopher asks as he walks with her out of the court room.

“I will be okay,” Sarina answers as she wipes the stray tears off of her face.

“I’m proud of you for sitting through that without freaking out. that shows a lot of strength.” She smiles a little as she glances over, still wiping tears off of her face.

She just hoped that everything would pan out with all loose ends actually tied up this time.

Friday, May 10 – Kansas Speedway

With the final practice in the books, Chase had to admit that he was happier than he was earlier in the day. He had managed to post the sixth quickest lap in the session, giving him confidence that they had something for qualifying later that afternoon. More importantly, he felt they had the adjustability built in the car for tomorrow night.

“Hey, is Abigail okay?” Chase questions once he and Jimmie got done debriefing with their crew chiefs following the practice session.

“Chandra says that she’s been a perfect angel,” Jimmie assures him. “She ate without any issues, had a little stinky but that was cleaned without issues, and been giggling with the girls. By the way, my daughters absolutely adore her already so you have some helpers if ever necessary.” Chase smiles, as he was glad to hear that things were going well with Abigail. It certainly helped with the range of nerves that he was experiencing.

“You already know how much Livie and I love each other so she is always welcome to come over to help.” Jimmie actually had to appreciate the bond that they formed together last year, knowing how much that had helped Chase.

“Well if you ever need a pick me up during the summer when you’re running the split schedule with Sarina, don’t hesitate to send me a text as I’ll send her over.” Chase nods his head, accepting. He was hoping this year went smoother than last year’s nerves and worries, though. “Did Sarina text you at all?”

“She said that everything went according to plan. Damien told the story perfectly, and connected all the dots in relation to Carter, Alison, and Nellie. She feels that the jury should already have everything put together in their minds – with the testimony to follow just being par for the course and sealing the deal.” Jimmie was glad to hear that as he didn’t want to see them go through this any longer.

“That’s perfect. Now, are you ready to testify, again?” Chase takes a deep breath, as it was never easy going back down the path of Alison’s actions against him. However, he was going to do whatever necessary to make sure his girls were protected.

“I just have to get up there and say what happened. I’ve done it before, I can do it again.” Jimmie knew he had done it before, but that didn’t give him assurance about a third round of testimony.

“But are you sure that you can handle that, and you’re okay?” Chase glances away, before looking back towards Jimmie. There was a simple answer to offer.

“I’m not the one who is dealing with flashbacks of being raped in my own bedsroom. My dad got there before Alison was able to take it that far. I could only wish that was the case for Sarina. Heck, Carter wasn’t even supposed to be in the room.” Jimmie hadn’t heard the details, but could tell by those simple words that there was regret and pain to be heard.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Chase shakes his head no, knowing that he couldn’t bother to fully detail everything from the beginning for Jimmie. “Okay, that’s fine. But I want you to know that I’m here if you ever do you want to talk about it, and my daughter is always available for comfort.”

“I appreciate that, Jimmie. Thank you.”