The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 109: Chevrolet Silverado 250

Saturday, August 25 – Canadian Tire Motorsports Park

“Is this seriously happening right now?” Sarina questions as they walk over to pit road.

“NASCAR says it is happening as scheduled,” Rudy answers, not surprised by her shock as he was as well.

“Do they not realize the track is still damp from all that rain?” Rudy nods his head yes.

“That’s why we’re running rain tires.” Sarina rolls her eyes as NASCAR had never chosen to use rain tires in qualifying before today.

“They set the Pinty’s Series by their owner’s points. So why can’t they do the same for us?” Rudy rolls his eyes as he shrugs his shoulders.

“Does anybody ever understand what NASCAR does and doesn’t do? Besides, the fans have been hanging around all day and haven’t seen much on-track action. They want to give them something. So how about we be a good sport, put a smile on our face, and do what we do?” Sarina puts a mocking smile on her face as she looks over at the crew chief.

“When the back ass of that truck is stuck in a wall, don’t stop me when I kick NASCAR’s sorry asses.” She then walks away as Rudy just lets out a long sigh.

Despite Sarina’s initial concerns, she was able to put it all behind her during the qualifying session, ending the first round in second, followed by second in the second round to qualify on the front row alongside Ben Rhodes.

Sunday, August 26 – Canadian Tire Motorsports Park

Sarina makes her way out of the Kyle Busch Motorsports hauler, changed into her firesuit, ready for the day before her. She then stops immediately, though, smiling as she sees a familiar sight leaning back against a pole before her.

“I was wondering when you’d get here,” she comments, before walking over, wrapping both arms around him and kissing his lips. “I missed you.”

“I missed you, too,” he replies, taking in every bit of the kiss. “You haven’t done so bad this weekend.”

“It looked like you had fun at Road America…” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“Finish never mattered, just the experience. Dad had a smile on his face at the end of the race, I had fun on the spotter stand and the fans got entertained. It was good. Oh, and Christopher even earned a cheer from me.” Sarina chuckles, having seen the highlights from the race.

“I thought he and Justin were both screwed there.” Chase couldn’t help but nod his head once again.

“Now, how about you don’t try any stunts like that today?” She smiles as she looks straight into his eyes.

“I plan on leading every lap and scoring myself another damn win this year. How does that sound?” He smiles as he kisses her lips.

“Go get them!”

Starting in second, Sarina kept herself solidly in position throughout the first stage, eventually taking the lead from Ben Rhodes with 13 laps to get the stage win.

“Nice solid start,” Chase couldn’t help but comment to himself as he sat on the pit box. He honestly had to glance around and feel a little strange considering Rudy wasn’t on the box as usual, but rather standing at the top of the turn one grandstand to help with spotting from there.

The pit stop under the stage caution went solidly with Sarina coming off first to start fifth behind those who pitted before the end of the first stage. She made her way back to the lead quickly, taking the lead one lap after the restart, pacing the rest of the way to score the stage two victory.

“She wasn’t kidding,” Chase chuckles to himself as he takes a deep breath. Stage victories were nice, but now it was all about putting the rest of the puzzle together.

She would once again pit under the stage caution, once again coming off first, set to restart 11th this time around. Of course, that didn’t sit well with anyone on the team as they watched the laps tick by under a lengthy yellow flag to clean up oil spilt around the track.

“Where the hell is the red flag?” Chase began to question as he glanced around, letting out a sigh.

“Be aggressive, but don’t tear the nose off,” Rudy then spoke across the radio. Chase knew that Sarina didn’t need any reminders about being aggressive, but glad that Rudy mentioned taking care of the truck, too. It may have seemed like the laps were running out, but they still lots of time with the chaos that was set to ensue here.

She would begin to make her way forward, moving up to seventh by the caution with 15 laps to go for Michael Self going around. She’d then get a good restart, making a three-wide move off of turn 10 to make her way up to third behind Todd Gilliland and Johnny Sauter.

“Come on baby girl….” Chase says as he almost felt like climbing down the steps of the pit box so he could pace with the nerves he was beginning to feel.

She would then get by Johnny Sauter to move into second before the caution waved with five to go. Restarting second for overtime, she began to drop back initially off of Todd’s rear bumper. However, she was able to find her way back there through the final corners, right there entering the final three.

Then it happened. Contact, spin, and everything was over at that point. Rather than dreams of victory or even a runner-up, she had gotten herself an eighth-place finish.

Chase stood on pit road, letting out a sigh as he watched the scene before him.

He wasn’t surprised when he heard the interview that Todd gave with his frustration as he could sympathize with him. He wasn’t surprised to see both Marcus Richmond and David Gilliland walk over and voice their displeasure with the contact, either. It also didn’t surprise when even Rudy had something to say while they stood on pit road.

Through the chaos, Chase stood in the background and just let everything unfold as he tried to keep his thoughts in check. He felt bad for all the heat that Sarina was getting, but could he blame everybody? The move just seemed so far out of line, considering it was a teammate and the loss of points being in the playoffs right now. It was weird to find himself unable to side with her on what happened.

“Are you okay?” He finally questions as they leave pit road following the interviews and discussions, trying to keep his own opinion in check.

“Oh, so now you’re going to be concerned?” She snaps back in return, earning a sharp glance from him.

“Excuse me?” She almost wanted to chuckle as she kept her eyes focused forward rather than at him.

“I saw you on pit road, Chase. As everyone was approaching, critiquing me, saying what they wanted, venting, you just stood back and didn’t do a thing. you could’ve come over and offered a shoulder of support. You could’ve asked me then if I was okay. You could’ve been the supportive fiancé that I expected, just like I was when it came to your few incidents.” They reach the KBM trailer as they both head inside, with her slamming the door behind them.

“You’re frustrated and now you’re taking it out on me-”

“I expected you to perhaps say something to someone that you had my bac-”

“Maybe it’s because I don’t exactly agree with the move.” She then stops suddenly, turning back around to face him directly now with a chuckle of her own.

“Oh, is that the case Mr. Innocent?” He slowly nods his head with a sigh.

“I love you, and I support you entirely. I want to be there for you and I want to do whatever I can to help you, but sometimes we’re going to disagree. Look at your angle to the corner. It was clear there was going to be contact, and I don’t think that’s a fair situation when it’s your teammate.” She then shakes her head.

“So it was okay for you to dump Dillon because he wasn’t a teammate?” Chase shakes his head no.

“Ty had lost momentum due to being out of gas-”

“You still hit hi-”

“Look at my entry to the corner compared to yours. I took my usual line and he cut down. You cut the corner, sweetheart.” She knew that he was right, but she wasn’t ready to back down and admit defeat.

“You’re a racer just like me so you should understand this just like me. Any racer that doesn’t go for the gap or the win questions themselves later on. I wasn’t about to do that. Call me out on it, say I did the wrong thing – I don’t give a shit, Chase. I have no regrets.” She then makes her way to the back to change, slamming the door in his face as he lets out a long sigh.

“I’ll be out here for when you’re rea-”

“Just go and fly home without me. I’d rather not see you right now.” Chase leans against the door with another sigh.

“I’m going to stay here for 10 minutes. Let me know if you change your mind in the process….” He then twists the top of his own bottle of water, taking a long sip as he shakes his head.

He was right as about five minutes later, she caved and wanted to fly home with him, apologizing for how direct “some” of her comments were, but not changing her mind as to what she said.

The flight home started off quiet as she focused on her phone and music, while he was focused on the flight.

I found myself today
Oh, I found myself and ran away
But something pulled me back
The voice of reason I forgot I had

All I know is you’re not here to say
What you always used to say
But it’s written in the sky tonight

So I won’t give up, no I won’t break down
Sooner than it seems life turns around
And I will be strong even if it all goes wrong
When I’m standing in the dark I’ll still believe
Someone’s watching over me

I’ve seen that ray of light
And it’s shining on my destiny
Shining all the time, and I won’t be afraid
To follow everywhere it’s taking me

All I know is yesterday is gone
And right now I belong
To this moment, to my dreams

So I won’t give up, no I won’t break down
Sooner than it seems life turns around
And I will be strong even if it all goes wrong
When I’m standing in the dark I’ll still believe
Someone’s watching over me

It doesn’t matter what people say
And it doesn’t matter how long it takes
Believe in yourself and you’ll fly high
And it only matters how true you are
Be true to yourself and follow your heart

So I won’t give up, no I won’t break down
Sooner than it seems life turns around
And I will be strong even if it all goes wrong
When I’m standing in the dark I’ll still believe

So I won’t give up, no I won’t break down
Sooner than it seems life turns around
And I will be strong even if it all goes wrong
When I’m standing in the dark I’ll still believe
Someone’s watching over me

Someone’s watching over
Someone’s watching over
Someone’s watching over me
Yeah, oh, oh,
Someone’s watching over me

She takes her ear buds out, glancing over at Chase as she lets out a sigh.

“I’m sorry for snapping at you, by the way,” she breaks the silence.

“I knew you were frustrated and didn’t mean it totally directed at me,” he offers as she nods her head.

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe I could’ve played my cards smarter and not went for the gap. But, that’s I was brought up.” Chase ponders the thought. It was odd of her to speak about her childhood in connection to a racing moment.

“What do you mean?” She takes a deep breath as she thinks it over.

“My father and I would go go-karting every weekend; that’s where my drive comes from and ability. He was the hardest coach that I ever knew, though. I remember there were times that I felt that I did so well, but yet he’d harp on me for not making that pass. He’d go, ‘Yeah you finished third, but you could’ve got second if you would’ve cut that apex better, or you could’ve got this if you would’ve shot that gap’ and he kept pushing me. My aggressiveness comes out of that, I guess.” Chase couldn’t help but agree as it made perfect sense.

“So because that’s been engraved in you, are there times that you do it to yourself now?” She nods her head in agreement.

“That’s why when we have those good runs but miss it by a bit, I may be frustrated on pit road because those words keep playing in my mind. Those words were there those last few laps, plus wanting to be that playoff lock. Who wants to enter Talladega needing a good run badly?” She then takes a long deep breath. “I just need to relax, and remember that solid performances and a good team got me here. I need to do what I’ve been doing all year and I’ll be fine. I also need to survive Kyle’s lecture on Monday.” Chase chuckles in response.

“Are you sure you’re ready?” She shakes her head no.

“I thought it was bad at Phoenix and that didn’t screw a championship situation. Can you imagine that even worse?” She then glances over. “Can you save me?” He chuckles.

“I wish I could, but you’re going to have to weather the storm. Oh, and Todd as well. Hopefully calmer heads will prevail.”

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 86: Toyota/Save Mart 350

Friday June 22, 2018 – Gateway Motorsports Park

Sarina watches Todd walk up to the top of the grandstands, sitting down beside her with a funnel cake in hand.

“Really?” She questions with a chuckle as he takes a piece, flaunting it before her, then eating it. “I don’t want to be the one cleaning your truck after the race tomorrow.”

“It’ll be gone before then,” he answers as he gets comfortable. “I’m surprised you actually came to watch the ARCA race with me. I thought you’d be facetiming your boo all night.” She just rolls her eyes.

“I can have a life too, Todd.” She then reaches over, breaking a piece off and eating it.

“Hey!” She then sticks her tongue out.

“You can’t buy a treat like that and not share…” He then lets out a sigh as he lets her steal another piece. “Besides, this is actually pretty good.”

“See why I couldn’t resist it?” She nods her head, accepting.

Between sharing the snack and the action on-track, there seemed to be not any other care in the world as she was taken immediately in by everything, sharing jokes with Todd along the way. They both cheered on Christian, hoping he’d put together a good run before the truck race tomorrow.

About three quarters through the race, she hears her phone go off, pulling it out of her pocket.

“Chase?” Todd assumes without even glancing over with a chuckle.

“No….I wish though,” she replies, earning a curious glance from Todd. “Remember how Christopher and I were joking around last weekend?” Todd nods his head, having seen them outside of the media center together.

“Like you said to Christian, you guys are just friends….” He then doesn’t hear a response, earning another curious glance. “Right?”

“Absolutely as that’s what both Christopher and I have said to each other and believed every step of the way. So why is it that everybody else can’t understand that?”

“Christi-”

“I don’t even care what he said earlier anymore!” She then shoves her phone at Todd, so he looks at the article before him. “Just beautiful, right?”

“While Chase Elliott was vacationing in Ireland, Sarina Ott was spotted getting close to ex-teammate Christopher Bell. The pair spent several minutes talking, seeming laughing even with a hug. It isn’t the first time that the pair have been spotted together in the garage being real close, even sparking rumors last year about possibly being together. One has to wonder with the current situation surrounding Elliott and Allison Reynolds, including a possible pregnancy, if Ott is leaning to Bell for comfort, or possibly more.” He then glances up at Sarina. “Are they serious?”

“That’s what’s been released by one of those lovely rag magazines.” She then snatches her phone back from Todd. “It also goes on to speak of how I started dating Chase before I landed the ride with his Late Model team and KBM, as well as the fact that there could be issues both ways given Ms. Reynolds and that trial situation.”

“Seriously?” She nods her head as she closes the article on her phone. “Is this normal per the course?”

“Because of everything with my background, how I got the ride and the questions surro-”

“Pure talent, gir-”

“Some say only because I slept with Chase.” Todd then laughs out loud.

“They obviously haven’t raced against you ever.” She then smiles back in return.

“Thank you, but that doesn’t quit the haters now does it?” Todd lets out a sigh and shakes his head no.

“It’s like those that say the only reason I have this opportunity is because of my dad.” She then leans back as she tries to focus back on the ARCA race.

“Regardless, both Chase and I are used to this now as it isn’t the first time and it probably won’t be the last. All about having that public relationship, right? There’s always some tramp trying to break us up and this is the latest attempt. Clearly they don’t get how much we love each other, or the meaning of having best friends.”

“I’m glad you both found that meaning together. don’t let anyone change that.” She smiles as she glances down at the ring on her finger.

“I don’t plan on letting anyone change that, Todd. We’ve worked so hard to get to where we are. One little rag article isn’t going to change that.”

Saturday June 23, 2018 – Sonoma Raceway

Chase gives Alan a high-five after the qualifying session was done, big smile on his face. After all the doubts entering the weekend, it was nice to know that he would start Sunday’s race from the third position. Now as long as he kept it on the black top and ran a smooth race, they may be able to pull off a solid finish to get on a bit of a roll here.

He then makes his way down pit road, though was surprised when he was stopped mid-way by his teammate.

“Do you need some advice, seven-time?” He teases Jimmie, who just shakes his head no in return while remaining serious.

“I was just wondering if you saw the article that was posted about Sarina and Christopher,” Jimmie offers instead, earning a simple sigh from Chase. “So you have…”

“And?” Jimmie crosses his arms as he keeps his eyes locked on his teammate.

“I thought I’d get more of a reaction from you than that.” Chase shakes his head no.

“I know the friendship that her and Christopher have together. I know how much he’s there for her to lean on for advice when she needs someone, and I know it goes no further than being friends. It’s just someone trying to stir the pop as usual. Aren’t we used to that already?” Jimmie nods his head, having seen his share of articles when Jeff was going through his divorce.

“I was just worried about the effect it would have on yo-”

“I read it out of curiosity, and closed it right away. It hasn’t bothered me at all today.” That was a partial lie as it was the beginning of everything coming out in relation to Alison, and Chase wasn’t sure if he was ready for that quite yet.

“That’s good to hear. I mean, I know honesty has come up before in your relationship and I was worried the rumors would spark a probl-”

“We’ve over that, Jimmie. Why do you think I asked her to marry me? I’m in this for the long haul, committed to her no matter what – just like she’s committed to me. we also have our friends, too, but that’s it. Her friendship to Christopher is just like me and Erin…” Chase then froze a little, remembering what Ryan had told him on the plane about what happened while he was drunk. He didn’t want to go there, but what if Christopher and Sarina had more than he realized?

“Chase?” Chase snaps out of his thoughts as Jimmie doesn’t budge at all. “What are you thinking? As soon as you mentioned Erin’s name, you went qui-”

“There’s nothing goi-”

“Didn’t you just spend a week with her-”

“Ryan was there, too-”

“But something happened…” Chase lets out a sigh as he couldn’t deny any longer. “Do you want to tell me what happened?”

“Erin told me that she’s had a crush on me for the longest time, but never pursued it because she knew it wouldn’t work. She knew that I was meant for someone else like Sarina, and she’s happy that I’ve found that.” Jimmie wasn’t too surprised as he remembered how close Erin and Chase were when they went to the banquet together.

“But yet she told you?” Chase nods his head yes.

“We were standing on the porch talking about some personal thoughts of my own with bad dreams, and we mentioned how we’d always care for each other and that came out of her mouth. As soon as it was said, we moved on the rest of the trip as friends without any changes.” Of course that was a lie as there was a forgotten kiss in there, too. But if he didn’t remember it, what mattered?

“Can I give you some advice?” Chase lets out a sigh, not sure he wanted to go with this. “Take a moment and let yourself digest everything. Let yourself think about your relationship with Sarina and everything you’ve been through together. Think about your relationship with Erin and how that friendship has grown, and what you mean to each other. Think about why she would’ve wanted you to know that fact. Think about Sarina’s relationship with Christopher. The reason I say this is I don’t want you to bury yourself so deep in a relationship that isn’t going to last because of other factors. Save yourself from pain later by facing everything now.”

“Are you trying to tell me something with those words, Jimmie?” Jimmie shakes his head no.

“I stand by you and Sarina. Remember how I pushed for that engagement with Dale?” Chase laughs, remembering the conversations in Colorado. “I just don’t want to be helping you pick up the pieces later – if there’s any to pick up later because it fell apart. For all I know, this is just some pointless worry and the glass isn’t even touched. But do yourself the favor and do that now. I’ve seen one of my best friends go through a divorce. I don’t want to see another one.” Chase nods his head, sympathically.

“I’ll keep that advice in mind. Thank you, Jimmie.”

“Nice job in qualifying.”

Saturday June 23, 2018 – Sonoma Raceway

Getting comfortable that night at the motorcoach, Chase knew he was in for a long night with the truck race from Gateway. The fact that he was having to watch a second truck race in a row not at the track didn’t make it easy one bit. At least when he was at the track he had direct access to knowing everything that was going on from Rudy and the guys.

Thankfully, the race went smoothly as Sarina ran up front all night long, leading a ton of laps through the event and looked destined to pull off her second win of the season. However, it wasn’t meant to be as while leading, she had to pit under caution with seven laps to go for a flat tire. She was then able to fight back for a 10th-place finish.

Knowing she’d be disappointed, Chase pulls his phone and sends her a text of encouragement and comfort, adding in a small special message at the end. He then sets it down on the night table as he lays back in the bed.

Jimmie’s advice hadn’t left his mind since their conversation earlier in the afternoon. He understood his teammate’s concern – and appreciated his advice on the situation, too. Chase had taken it to heart as he ran everything through his mind as Jimmie told him. He even chuckled as he thought about to some memories with Erin, along with the tender moments. The memories with Sarina ranged from every emotion possible, but he wouldn’t changed anything as he’d grown along the way and learned a lot that he knew would help him moving forward in the future. He also thought about Christopher, the initial concerns that he had and wondering whether that was jealousy and self-warrant. He thought about when Christopher seemed to be turn a corner, conversations since then, and Christopher’s own relationship with his girlfriend Morgan.

Closing his eyes to go to sleep that night after weighing everything out, he was confident in where he stood across the board. There was a reason why he gave Sarina that ring, and there was no reason for him to take that back.

Sunday June 24, 2018 – Sonoma Raceway

Sarina walks down pit road, fixing her sunglasses upon her face as she flashes her signature smile with a wave to Samantha as she walks by Kyle Busch’s pit stall. She had done everything she could to arrive in California before the start of the race, but that unfortunately didn’t’ play out as she arrived just after the command to start engines have been given thanks to countless delays with her flight.

“What are your thoughts on the article about you and Christopher Bell?” She hears as it didn’t take long for a group of reporters to surround her on the walk, despite being dressed in a simple Chase Elliott t-shirt and jeans.

“Christopher and I are just friends,” she answers as she keeps walking. “We have a great friendship as it always has been. I’m fully committed to Chase Elliott as he’s my fiancé, and I look forward to spending the rest of my life with him. As for your rumors that I am straying due to everything going on, I’m sorry but you’re full of shit.” She knew she’d get in shit from Andy about her last comment, but they deserved it as it seemed they wouldn’t shut up every week despite being told the same answer countless times.

“What about Alison Reynolds?” She wasn’t surprised to hear that question.

“No comment.” It was the standard answer that she had gotten used to giving all year, but that’s all she was allowed to say in it being a current legal issue. She could only hope it was all solved a month from now, rather than taking forever. “How about you guys enjoy the race like I plan on doing?” She then entered into Chase’s pit, offering a few hugs and high-fives to the guys before heading up on the pit box with Alan.

“And the princess makes her grand entrance,” Alan comments with a grin as she just rolls her eyes.

“They always want to bug and create their stories,” she offers as she gets comfortable, picking her headset. “I’m still allowed up here, right?”

“Absolutely. Everybody close to you knows they’re full of shit, right?” She nods her head.

Thankfully, Chase made her trip to California worth it as he ran up front all race long en route to a fourth-place finish.

Thursday June 28, 2018 – Chicagoland Speedway

“Do you think five months is enough time to plan?” Chase questions as he glances over Sarina’s shoulder in the garage area.

“Do you really think I’m like those all too cool preppy girls who want this big huge damn wedding?” She replies as he laughs. “I just want it small and quiet with our closest friends. I’m sure five months is enough time, Chase.” She then turns around to face him. “Are you sure you’re ready for the big day in five months?”

“Oh so now you’re asking if I’m ready?” He then wraps his arms around her and pulls her close. “I can tell you that I’ve been ready for awhile now to call you Ms. Sarina Ott Elliott.” He then places his hand on hers atop of the ring. “That’s why I found the perfect pink diamond for you.”

“So it’s settled then. January wedding?” He nods his head, accepting.

“Colorado or Florida?” It felt weird to be getting married away from home, but it also felt perfect given their beginnings. They always felt their most at home together and free when they were away at the cottage in Colorado, but also found their true beginnings down in Florida at the Snowball Derby.

“Colorado. A winter wedding should take place where there’s lots of snow.” He then kisses her lips lightly.

“Then it’s settled. We’ll get married in January in Colorado.”

“Did I just hear that right?” A new voice joins the fray as Rudy walks over to them. “You’re getting married in January in Colorado?” The pair glance at each other, before looking towards the crew chief with a nod. “Wow. I’m surprised at this wedding discussion, especially following the latest round of articles that I’ve been seeing.”

“Oh Rudy, what did you tell me about reading that crap?” Sarina questions and Rudy smiles as he remembers the advice.

“Why do you think I deleted it immediately?” She then smiles, giving him a high-five. “I knew there had to be no truth to the Christopher Bell rumors. I mean, aren’t he and Morgan close to getting married, too?”

“They’re close enough that it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened this week.”

“Well, I hate to bother the love birds but someone has a truck practice that she must attend to. May I borrow your bride?” Chase laughs as he slowly lets her go.

“She has five months to plan so I supposed she can spend the next couple of hours working for you,” Chase answers. “But I get this first.” He then snags a kiss from her before fully letting her go. “Have some fun today.”

“That’s the plan,” she replies before walking over to the truck.

The happiness continued through both practices as the speed was shown, and Rudy was able to get her comfortable in the truck to where she was liking the handling as well. By the time it was over, she had ended up fourth and 10th on the speed charts for each session.

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

Tuesday June 19, 2018 – Dublin, Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Definitely drunk,” Ryan declares.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday June 20, 2018 – Dublin, Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Absolutely no-“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday June 20, 2018 – Charlotte, North Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday June 22, 2018 – Gateway Motorsports Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 56: “Someone doesn’t look happy.”

Friday March 23, 2018 – Martinsville Speedway

Lindsay walks up the small hill up onto the track, stopping, and glancing around.

“It’s even smaller in person it seems,” she comments, causing a chuckle from Sarina, before they head down into the infield. “How do they fit everything in here?”

“They don’t,” Sarina answers, causing a puzzled look from Lindsay. “The truck haulers don’t stay down here all race weekend. They’re here today for the truck practice, and they will be in the morning when they unload tomorrow for tech – but then they go back outside before letting the Cup guys unload and take up space.” Lindsay glances at her, shaking her head in surprise.

“I don’t want to be in charge of coordinating that mess.” Sarina just chuckles once again. “By the way, how’s Chase?” Sarina bites her lip as she would’ve preferred to not talk about Alison. “You don’t have to say anyth-”

“Given the situation, it’s as best as it can be. You can’t deny being a little worried because of Alison’s history, but time to calm down and his focus is looking forward.” Lindsay nods her head sympathically. “By the way, I’m sorry I didn’t say anythin-”

“Are you seriously apologizing for comforting your fiancé? I mean, given any news of magnitude, it’d welcome the response that you had. I have no hard feelings – same way you had none when I interrupted you guys.” Sarina rolls her eyes, before leading her to where the team was hanging out before the practice, introducing her to the different crew members who hadn’t gotten a chance to meet her yet.

“It’s almost like a family rather than a team….” Sarina nods her head as she glances back from the hauler door.

“Do you see what I mean now? These guys, Kyle, Sam, Ricky, and obviously Chas-”

“You don’t need to explain. I get it, and I’m happy for you. You have your racing family, and I have my dancing family; it’s our escape from reality, right?” Sarina nods her head once again.

“Give me 10 minutes – or less for that matter. I just need to get changed…” Sarina heads inside, hearing her phone buzz. She pulls it out, reading the text from Chase as she lets out a long sigh. “Of course…” She quickly texts him back with the best message that she can muster, before continuing up to the lounge.

Chase reads the response, smiling a little as much as he could given the situation, before placing his phone back in his pocket. Taking a deep breath, he knew procrastination would get them nowhere as he takes the quiet walk up to the doors.

“Thank you,” Chase says as he glances over at Josh and Alan.

“Sarina was busy, and you shouldn’t have to do this alon-” Alan offers.

“I have my parents.” It was no secret that Cindy and Bill had shown up for their own curiosity, too.

“I know, but having your friends also is helpful. Besides, you’re forgetting that you weren’t the only target of Chris’ attacks.” Chase sighs, not needing a reminder of a court room doors.

“It also gave me something to do today,” Josh adds, earning a light chuckle from both Chase and Alan.

“If you’re desperate for work during your suspension, I can gladly help you there,” Alan adds and Josh shakes his head no.

The group quietly takes their seats together, as Chase takes a deep breath. They were only there to hear a couple words from a judge, but it felt like the whole world rested on what he had to say.

He stands up as the judge enters, focusing his eyes forward, not allowing himself to begin to even wander towards the left. He didn’t want to see Chris, or really Shelley for that matter either. If it was up to him, he would leave all of this – and Alison – behind as quickly as possible.

Taking his seat, he feels a hand on his shoulder, glancing behind with a small smile towards his parents, before focusing his eyes the same direction as before.

“As requested by Shelley Dryer, the entire case pertaining to Chris Dryer was reviewed – with a focus on whether a psychological evaluation is valid and the surrounding steps,” the judge states as he focuses his eyes forward. “The purpose of this was review was to determine whether the sentencing regulations were fairly according to the charges and happenings of events.

“It is no secret that the amount of documents to review was lengthy, from Mr. Dryer’s own testimony, to victim testimony, victim impact statements, hospital and medical records, along with previous psychological evaluations. I thank all parties involved for your patience over the past couple of weeks.

“After reviewing everything extensively, I have reached my reasoning and it is final as of today in this court room. All parties are expected to accept the reasoning within reason, and not act out or against it.

“Following a review of Mr. Dryer’s court documents, I will allow him to be submitted for psychological evaluation by a psychiatrist of this court’s choosing. That psychiatrist works for the legal system here in California, and is an independent from all parties involved in this matter.”

Chase immediately saw the red flags with this situation. There was only a 5% chance of this door opening per the lawyer, but yet this judge was going to do that anyway. If it was opened this far to even allow for an evaluation – that could mean being forced further and a possible release. Alison was enough to deal with, but both her and Chris? That’d be mission impossible.

Furthermore, he wasn’t about to have confidence in the court’s mental institution policy given Alison’s escape, either. Who was to say that Chris wouldn’t follow her route?

“Following Mr. Dryer’s session, I will consult with the psychiatrist about his findings,” the judge continues. “If Mr. Dryer is found mentally unstable, he will be submitted  to the mental institution for rehab. At the completion of the rehab, a trial will be held to determine whether his sentence is reduced. If he is found stable, then there will be no change in the given amount of events.” The judge closes the file as he looks towards Chris. “Do you understand the findings today?”

“Yes sir,” Chris states as a small smile forms on his face.

“Does the defense have any requests or questions?” The lawyer shakes her head no. “Does the prosecution have any requests or questions?”

“Recently, Ms. Alison Reynolds escaped your mental institution after being found mentally unstable in relation to her charges connected to Mr. Elliott and others,” the lawyer begins, causing Chase to smile. He was glad he wasn’t the only one feeling the pressure there. “Can we make sure that this time the court system actually upholds their end of the bargain and watches Mr. Dryer to make sure he doesn’t escape like Ms. Reynolds?”

“I will make sure extra security is in place for that matter,” the judge answers, which earned a simple nod from Chase. As long as they were aware and did something about it so nothing happened, he could sleep at night. Now he just hoped that the psychiatrist saw what they saw before. “Is there any other requests? If not, court is adjourned for today.”

Chase slowly gets up, ignoring the glance his way from Shelley, as he heads out through the door.

“Chase….” Alan says as he follows him, earning a glance back. “Are you okay?” Chase nods his head.

“At least they’re using security better this time, right?” He questions as he lets out a sigh. “I can’t believe that for a third time, Chris may just find his way out of jail on a psychological loophole. I mean, sure, he’s probably a little crazy, but you can’t tell me that’s the sole reason for what he did. He even uttered the words of revenge against Sarina, Alan.”

“I know, I was there….” Chase lets out a sigh as he leans back against the wall, taking a deep breath.

“I told Sarina and I’ve told you that I’m not going to let Alison run my life, but here I am….” Alan places a hand on his shoulder.

“Anybody in your shoes would have the same reaction. If the shoe was on my foot, hell, I’d be freaking out right now. Give yourself some credit as you’re doing a good job, but also recognize that it’s not going to be all peaches and talk if you need to.” Chase nods his head as he glances over at Alan.

“I just can’t get the words of revenge out of my head, Alan. He said that he would do whatever it took to make sure Sarina understood that he wasn’t happy for what happened then. He was set on tearing her life apart, piece by piece, not caring who was in the way. How can someone who says that be allowed a third chance? How can someone who knows how to sneak around the system – and told me damn well so – be allowed a chance to do so?” Alan nods his head, sympathizing with his driver.

“I don’t know bud. All I can tell you is they will figure it out before he has a chance to get to you guys, and Alison is going to be found as soon as possible. The whole country is looking for her so she can’t hid-”

“She hid in plain sight for three mon-”

“Trust me, Chase – they will find her. Have I ever let you down before?” Chase raises his eyebrows.

“There was that one time when you promised me that perfect adjustment and it flipped the car’s handling right the wron-”

“I’m serious, Elliott!” Chase chuckles and shakes his head no.

“I believe you, okay. We’re going to be okay…..”

With having finished the second session of the day, Sarina was relaxing up in the lounge, discussing the approach for the final practice to come. She had kept her phone close, knowing that there was an update coming.

After pretty much finalizing everything, she reaches over, and unlocks the phone, noticing a new text message. Slightly caught off-guard that it had come from Josh – Chase was supposed to send the update, she opens it. It was long and lengthy, but certainly detailed as he hadn’t left out a single detail for her about what the judge had to say.

“Someone doesn’t look happy,” Todd offers as Sarina glances up from her phone. “What did Chase do now?”

“Please tell me that he wasn’t too mad after the snake pran-” Harrison goes to add, noticing the change in her demeanor.

“That doesn’t even freaking matter right now!” She lets out, causing everybody’s jaw to drop. She then takes a calming deep breath as she closes her eyes for a second, before glancing around. “Sorry….”

“Seriously, what did Chase do now?” Todd questions once again as he knew there were few things that made Sarina having an outburst – especially after starting anger management classes.

“Chase didn’t do anything.” That caused the teammates’ jaws to drop once again.

“Chris?” Lindsay wonders and Sarina nods her head. “You got to be kidding me…..”

“They have allowed him to have another evaluation,” Sarina informs her. “Then from there, if he is found mentally unstable, he will be submitted  to the mental institution for rehab. At the completion of the rehab, a trial will be held to determine whether his sentence is reduced. If he is found stable, then there will be no change.”

“They aren’t going to find anythi-” Harrison starts.

“You can’t be so sure of that, Harrison. He’s tricked them before – twice. What’s stopping him from doing that again? Furthermore, Alison was able to escape so how comforting is to know that he will be there even with extra security? Sometimes I wish I grew up in a different family!!” She then glances over at Lindsay. “Sorr-”

“Oh hell no, don’t apologize,” Lindsay tells her. “I wish we could knock out half of the family at times, too. Shelley was normally the smart one. How is it that she can’t get our reasoning for this and brings on this situation?” Sarina shakes her head in disgust.

“I don’t know….” Sarina comments with a sigh. Rudy quietly motions for the teammates to follow him, leading them out of the lounge, before closing the door shut. “My brother is such a mixed bag of feelings. I am able to put anything and everything in the past and focus forward – except for him. That is one thing that I keep toying with back and forth. As angry as I am for what he did and as much as I just want to forget, I can’t.”

“That’s human, though.” Lindsay scoots closer, placing a hand on her leg. “That’s a human reaction, Sarina. Sure, you have all of these negative thoughts with your brother – but we also have all these positive perspectives. I mean, how many good memories do we have from when we are kids? That’s why at times, it can be hard to understand what went wrong and how this happened – and bring that mixture you’re thinking about…” Sarina glances over at Lindsay.

“With that said, do you think what he did is because of being a little crazy?” Lindsay shrugs her shoulders.

“Drugs can have quite the effect on a person, right? But at the same time, certain things that he said and did don’t fit the case. So I think maybe there’s a bit – but he can’t sit here and blame it all on being crazy.” Sarina nods her head, accepting.

“Thank you….” Lindsay smiles a little as she looks at her.

“It’s going to be okay, regardless. You have the right foundation around you, and justice always wins out in the end.”  Sarina nods her head once again.

“I keep trying to believe that, even though this keeps going to shit….”

“If there was a night that we needed a good time and a distraction….” Sarina starts as Chase wraps an arm around her.

“That’s if I can keep my eyes off of you long enough,” he comments, kissing her lips.

“Will you two just get a room?” Ryan questions as he looks over at them over Lindsay’s shoulder. “Wait – that feels odd with me saying that to you instead…” Chase chuckles back in response. “But seriously!”

“Just wait, we’ll be saying the same for you two soon.” He then gives Sarina a wink as she lets out a tiny chuckle.

They head inside the concert venue after showing their passes, heading straight to the VIP section.

“Thank you for doing this!” Sarina lets out, before squealing a little as the boys just laugh.

“Careful, you may lose your girl to him tonight,” Ryan teases as Chase just rolls his eyes.

“If I knew it made her this happy, I would’ve done it sooner,” Chase offers as Ryan just shakes his head.

“Okay Romeo….”

Everybody was all set to enjoy the show together, when Cole Swindell called the boys up to the stage.

“Did you know about this?” Lindsay wonders and Sarina shakes her head no. “Can Chase even sing?”

“Oh he can sing when he wants….” Sarina answers, still remembering the phone message she saved that he left her. Thinking back to their trip to Amsterdam, she couldn’t help but smile at the upcoming off-weekend and the plans they were making. The girls watched on Cole did a shout-out with the boys, including a selfie of them together. “Can’t believe he’d do that without me…”

“So is he cut off tonight?” Sarina smacks her back in response as Lindsay bursts out laughing.

“Say, is Sarina Ott in the house?” They hear Cole say, causing a surprised glance on both girls’ faces. “Actually, let’s bring both of you girls down here.” The girls look at each other, squealing, before quickly making their way to the stage steps. Glancing at each other once again, trying to compose themselves, they walk up on to the stage. “So the boys tell me that you’re a fan….”

“Hell yeah!” Sarina immediately lets out.

“Well, someone asked me if I’d sing a special song for you. He said that you may know it…” She glances back at Chase, who just gives her a wink back in return.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 54: Snake…

Tuesday March 20, 2018 – Kyle Busch Motorsports

Sarina makes her way through the shop, set to head up the stairs to the offices. She knew that getting briefed on yesterday’s wide spread company meeting was first on the docket as she hated to miss it, followed by a discussion with Rudy ahead of this weekend. it was time for Martinsville, and she wasn’t leaving anything on the table.

“Well, look who chose to make an appearance today…” She hears and immediately rolls her eyes as she watches Harrison Burton pop out of one of the offices.

“Sarina is actually here?” She hears from the same office, with Todd Gilliland popping out. “Oh my gosh, the princess is here in flesh. What shall we do, Harrison?”

“I don’t know Todd. I mean, what do you do with someone who chooses when they just feel like randomly coming in?” Todd shrugs his shoulders as Sarina rolls her eyes.

“I mean, who really misses the shop meeting ahead of a race weekend? I’d never missed one of those even with exams.”

“I even skipped a doctor’s appointment so I could be here for a meeting.”

“I even skipped a fun outing with friends so I could be here for a mee-”

“Are you guys done yet?” She cuts them off as she glances between them in surprise. “I mean, yeah, I missed the meeting yesterday, but I damn well would’ve rather been here at that meeting than sitting in a court room staring a crazy woman’s ass and hear her sick excuses for how she went after my boyfriend for months.” The smiles leave their faces immediately as they glance between each other, before glancing at her. She could only take a deep breath and glance down towards the floor. “I didn’t mean for that to come out so harshly, but you guys were going a little too fa-”

“We didn’t mean anything by it, Sarina,” Harrison starts. “We knew where you were. Kyle mentioned it. We were just having some fun, just kidding about it – nothing meant.”  Todd places a hand on her shoulder.

“We should’ve been a little more sensitive to the subject,” Todd adds as she glances back at the boys.

“It’s okay, I get it,” she assures them. “I guess I’m just a little on edge about it.” She then goes into her office, which the boys easily follow. “I don’t want to get into specifics, but the way she talked about what she did, and why she did, and her thought process – it honestly made me want to puke. It took every part of me to be strong for him because you could just tell that it made his skin crawl.” Harrison looks at her surprised.

“You mean it got a reaction out of Chase?” He questions and she nods her head. “Okay, I can’t say that I know Chase as well as anybody – but to get a reaction out of him, that takes quite a bit…” She just continues to nod her head.

“He didn’t say anything, or really do anything – but you could just see it in reaction to her words. I even tried to reach out to that layer afterwards and he wouldn’t say much.” She then lets out a long sigh as she flops back in the chair. “I’ve said too mu-”

“Hey, you need to get it out there and vent. We can both promise you that anything you say to us won’t go any further than this office, okay?” She nods her head accepting as she glances up at the pair. “Just also promise that you’ll do the right things to handle this, whether talking to someone, or whatever you need.” She lets out a chuckle as she peeks at her phone.

“I’m used to this by now, Harrison. You don’t need to give me the rookie involvement speech. Besides, aren’t I supposed to be giving you tips, rookie?” He then looks on surprised as she sticks out her tongue playfully. “For the record, did I miss much yesterday?”

“Kyle spouted off his usual advice, reminded us to play nice after your stunt last year with Christopher, and said that he expects to hear tick tock on Monday,” Todd informs her as she just smiles back in response.

“I don’t see why we can’t make that happen, right?” She offers and the boys nod their head in response.

“Now, let’s improve the mood a little….” She then glances at him confused, as she notices his glance over at Harrison. Harrison leaves the office as she still looks on worried.

“Do I want to know what you boys are planning?” He wasn’t too sure how to respond, so he just smiled.

“Let’s just say that you may enjoy or freak out at the surprise…” Harrison walks back in the office with the Rattler 250 snake on his shoulders as he walks over and sits on the corner of her desk.

“I can’t keep him, but he was allowed to come spend some time with me to meet everyone,” Harrison starts as Sarina admires the snake as it looks over at her. “My parents made me swear to not step within a 1000 feet of their house while he’s in town, so we’re stuck here together. What do you think?”

“He’s certainly a beauty,” she comments. “Congratulations, by the way.” He simply nods his head back in response.

“Thank you.” A smirk then forms on her face as she takes out her phone.

“Say, how long do you have him for?”

“The whole day…” Sarina chuckles as she brings up a familiar phone number.

“Care to have some fun in cheering up someone els-”

“You’re texting Chase, aren’t you?” She nods her head as he just laughs. “Text away…”

****

It was later in the afternoon when Chase was done the meetings at Hendrick Motorsports and able to make his escape. He still wasn’t sure why Sarina wanted to see him over at Kyle Busch Motorsports on ‘special reasons’ in the office, but he wanted to believe that it was the right intensions.

After clearing special permissions downstairs, he makes his way immediately up to the office level of the shop, walking down the hallway as he stops a familiar door. He glances in, smiling immediately as he sees her.

“If someone is busy, I can come back lat-” he starts, causing her to glance up immediately.

“Get your ass in here!” She instructs immediately while sending a quick text to Harrison. He makes his way inside and over to her side of the desk, kissing her lips. “I was wondering when you’d show up.”

“Given Sunday’s frustrations, the meeting took a little longer than anticipated. We also addressed the hole in the wall.” She then lets out a sigh, not wanting to think about Alison right now. “What’s wron-”

“Just tell me the conversation went smoo-”

“We all talked just touched upon being thankful, and the fact that she wasn’t able to get bail and shows all signs of crazy. Oh, and Rick had already arranged for the repair to be made – no questions asked.” She lets out a sigh, thankful for that.

“And how’s Alan?” Chase knew there wasn’t much to say as he sat on the corner of her desk.

“Alan is Alan. He’s focused as ever on making things better for our race tea-”

“You know what I mea-”

“He didn’t show any signs at all.” He then reaches out and places a hand on her shoulder. “Are you sure you’re okay?” She then takes a deep breath as she glances up into his brown eyes.

“I’m worried, okay? I saw the way you looked at her when she talked about her thoughts. I felt that skin crawl, the shudder, the way that she made you feel. It worries me about how you’re feeling and whether you’re okay like you make it seem to be…”

“All I can do is tell you how I feel, and my reaction, right? All I can do is try and be as truthful as I can be with you, and trust me when I say this – I am okay. Sure, she evokes these sick feelings with me and sure, I wish I could never of heard those words. But I am okay in knowing that she can’t hurt me, you, or anybody ever again.” He then leans in and lightly kisses her lips. “I love you.”

“I love you, too – and I hope you still love me after this.” He then glances at her confused as she points towards the doorway. Harrison then walks in with the snake affixed around his neck, smile firmly planted.

“Are you kidding me?!?” Both Harrison and Sarina laugh as they watch him squirm, hiding behind her.

“Say hello to my little friend…” Harrison teases as Chase glances down at Sarina.

“This is why you wanted me to come over?” He questions and she just laughs harder.

“I thought you could make a new friend…” She comments and he immediately shakes his head no. “The way I look at it is this – you lost the original bet when I qualified better than you. You also lost the second bet when Bubba beat Chand-”

“Chandler got wrecked on the second lap not of his doi-”

“Bubba still beat him, even if he broke. So that’s two losses to me.” He rolls his eyes as she spins her chair around to face him. “You could make friends with the snake to honor your loss.”

“Friends with the snake?” She nods her head. “Should I just go ahead and tell Harrison once again that you chose Bubba Pollard over both he and Raphael, your own teammates? But yet you want him to help you today?”

“Is he serious?” Harrison questions and Sarina slowly shrugs her shoulders. “Wow, thanks for the love. Come on Snakey, you don’t deserve to make friends with people like that…” Harrison turns and leaves as Sarina looks back at Chase.

“Happy?” She questions and he nods his head yes.

“Besides, I told you that I would honor the bet in style,” he answers, kissing her lips lightly. “I told you that I’d spoil you without any regard. If you’re a good girl, maybe I’ll take you up on that tonight.”

“You can’t tease and not deliver, Chase…” He smirks as he stands up and walks away to the doorway, glancing back.

“Don’t be late..” He heads out down the hall as a smirk forms on her face, hoping that she could get through what she needed to do that afternoon as soon as possible.

****

Wednesday March 21, 2018

With the sun shining in through the window on her, Chase glances over with a smile on his face. He brushes a piece out of hair out of her eyes, glancing at her in pure amazement.

“Are you just going to stare?” She questions as he smiles.

“I thought I did enough for you last night,” he offers and she just laughs as she rolls over. “Admit it. That was much better than trying to make me be friends with the snake.”

“The look on your face when Harrison brought that snake into the office was priceless…” He rolls his eyes as he reaches for his phone off the nightstand. “Chase, can we just stay here all day?”

“You wish for that every day except when it’s race da-”

“Do you blame me?” He laughs, shaking his head no. “You can’t have something that you have to do today…” He glances at his schedule, before looking over at her.

“What if I told you that I did?” She then gives him a pouting face immediately as he smiles.

“You’re not supposed to smile. You’re supposed to feel bad and cancel your plans…” He chuckles as he goes into his text messages. “Ah, actually, I better go into the shop and see Rudy. I promised that we’d have another chat before this weekend.”

“Anything wrong?” She shakes her head no. “I bet you’d rather be working with Marcus still…”

“There’s some days that I would rather work with Marcus because I can’t even begin to describe the friendship and understanding there. He did so much for me, right? I mean, he’s one of the reasons we were able to find what we needed together as he always offered advice. Rudy – he isn’t that type from what I’ve gathered so far. However, I don’t just want to throw him to the curb like you’re impl-”

“I never said those wor-”

“I just want to try and see where it goes, you know? I mean, he’s smart and certainly I can learn a lot from him as we’ve seen some of the improvements already in just a couple events together. So frustrating as it may be at times to change what I know and followed, I’m willing to open this door.” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“Rudy reminds me a lot of Ricky in a way, too. Smart about the approach, willing to teach, knows what you need to hear as a young driver, tips – it should work out well for you, I believe. I just – Ah of course…” She then looks at him confused as he reads over the text message. “Alison’s lawyer filed an insanity plea so she will be evaluated by a court official.”

“Are you honestly surprised given what she said on Monday?” Chase shakes his head no as he moves on to another message. “Chase….”

“It doesn’t change my thoughts. As long as she’s away – whether jail or a mental institution, she can’t do anything and that’s all I care about. I’m not giving her the power to mess wit-”

“But if she does, you will tell me and let me help you for once, right?” He glances over, and nods his head immediately.

“Of course….” He leans in and kisses her lips. “Have you heard anything about Chris?” She shakes her head no as she grabs her phone. “That judge is certainly taking his time with everything…”

“I thought you said that was a good thing.” He nods his head as he looks back to his phone.

“It is. It means that he’ll come out with a very clear, concise, correct decision and that will be leave to Chris where he is.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 34: General Tire 200

Saturday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway

Chase walks into the garage, smiling as he walks over to where Jordan was standing, finalizing things with the helmet.

“I’m surprised you didn’t break out the swancho,” Chase comments as Jordan chuckles.

“I could still go get if you want,” he offers, giving his driver a glance. “Actually, if you think about it, it’s not raceday today and that’s something to save for lat-”

“Like I told you last night, I’m fine without it.” Jordan nods his head in agreement as he focuses back on his job.

“I was thinking last night. Considering everything going on, wouldn’t it be a good idea to maybe look into having someone with you and someone with Sarina all the time? I mean, I know you said that everybody team-wise is keeping an extra eye out, but having someone armed and trained wouldn’t hurt.” Chase couldn’t argue with the idea, especially when his nerves were completely fried about the notes. However, it was an idea they had previously discussed.

“It would make us stand out, though. We want to just go business as usual, make it appear nothing is going on, and not add fuel to fire. Also, we don’t want to mess with things in how they stand otherwise. The idea was discus-”

“What about a person dressed as a crew member?” Chase lets out a sigh, as any other year that would’ve worked.

“NASCAR has those roster things now. With the limits, Alan is already strapped in who he really wants here and who he doe-”

“NASCAR would understand if you explai-”

“But what about other teams? What about the fans? What about the media? It just brings too much attention, Jordan.” Jordan lets out a sigh as he glances over at him.

“And do you really think that bothers me? Frankly, the only damn thing I care about is you being safe.” Chase takes a deep breath, understanding the frustration as he could easily express the same in some instances.

“Just trust me right now – everything is going to be fine.” Jordan was skeptical on that, based on what he had seen so far, but wasn’t going to push the issue. Besides, they had a job to do.

“Let me know if you need any adjustments to the mirrors, helmet straps, steering wheel – whatever, you get the idea.” Jordan then grabs the tools he had and walks away as Chase just shakes his head. He knew by that reaction that Jordan wasn’t happy with their discussion, but wasn’t willing to continue to fight the issue. He almost wanted to say something, or perhaps even do something about those concerns that certainly lingered.

But instead, taking a deep breath and a glance in the car, it was time to get ready for the first practice of the year. It was nice to be back behind the wheel again.

With a solid practice in the books and pleased with how the car drove, there wasn’t much time to chill and relax following debrief. Two more practices would follow, and those were certainly more important than the first.

But first, a trip was required back to the trailer. As per special request from the sponsors in wanting to make sure to get the opening season images, he was instructed to change from his Mountain Dew firesuit to the NAPA colors so he’d match the car.

Stepping inside, he slips the door closed behind him, beginning to unzip the firesuit. He goes to pull it off his shoulders, when he hears the door open.

“I’m getting chan-” He starts, half-expecting it to be a crew member.

“I know,” a female voice instantly causes him to freeze, followed by a pair of hands on his shoulders. “I came to help you.” He feels her light lips brush against his cheek, planting a kiss as she slowly pulls the fabric down his arms.

“If we go ahead with this now, you’re bound to get me in trouble.” She then chuckle as he turns around to face her. “I don’t have all day here.”

“Um hello, neither do I. I have a driver’s meeting that I need to get to.” Chase nods his head, knowing exactly what that meant with the ARCA race later on that afternoon. “Besides, we know how to do this quick…”

“Driving racecars and spending time getting some loving – how spoiled can I get?” She just chuckles as she finishes slipping the firesuit off his arms, watching it drop down, revealing the thin black fabric underneath that covered his chest and stomach. She was focused on that, when he slipped his fingers underneath her shirt.

“I thought you were worried about tim-”

“Don’t you have to get undressed and changed into your suit?” A smirk forms on her face, followed by their lips clashing together, as she works the firesuit down the rest of his body as he lifts his t-shirt off.

About 15 minutes later, the pair emerged from the trailer, both smiling ear-to-ear as they shared a glance at each other. Snagging another kiss, they head their separate ways as she goes to the ARCA driver’s meeting, while he retreats back to the garage for the next round of practice.

There was one thing for certain, though – the smile wasn’t leaving his face anytime soon.

Changed into a pair of jeans and t-shirt, Chase climbs up on top of the pit box, taking his seat as he gives a simple nod to the team. He was thankful that despite a different group than usual, Sarina had cleared it easily for him to join the guys on the pit box. Then again, he wouldn’t expect less from David Gilliland.

With the drop of the green flag, Chase managed to keep his nerves about him, watching as she took the ride-around approach early with dropping to the back of the field. He couldn’t complain, knowing the history of these ARCA races and crashes. He just hoped that she wasn’t in the midst of one of those.

From there, she was able to carefully made her way to the front, moving up to seventh following the first set of pit stops, before moving up to third after staying out with 35 laps to go. He had to admit the fuel calculations by the team right now made him a little nervous, but he was confident as the strategy had worked for others in the past.

“Damn!” was all he could manage to say on the restart as he watched her push race leader Sheldon Creed out away from the field in a textbook restrictor plate start. No doubt the tips from Kyle were being showcased tonight as she had done that perfectly.

Of course, as they say, dreams don’t always come true in these events and sure enough, a caution three laps later slowed the pack down, and brought them all back together. it also caused some unease on the pit box in knowing that the drafting partners were separated.

“Sheldon wants to keep working with you and I know you like working with him,” her spotter explains after some debate. “So we’re going to do the famous pull in-line trick. He’ll start outside, you’ll start inside. You let him get a jump and then he’ll slot down in front of you, and you can pull off that awesome move once again. Simple enough, right?”

Chase almost had to chuckle in response. How many times had they’d seen a similar move fail in the Cup Series? Anybody remember the Team Penske teammates at Martinsville? Taking a nervous deep breath, trying to stop the foot from tapping, there was nothing else he could do but sit and watch with nerves.

Surprisingly, the restart went smoothly as the pair were able to get in line perfectly – but not before Sean Corr was able to get by them both for the lead, bumping them to second and third. Chase takes a deep breath, glancing at the lap count. 24 laps was almost an eternity at this place, so there was lots of time to make magic happen.

Of course, the opportunity for that came sooner with a caution at 16 laps to go with a wreck mid-way through the field. Feeling the leg bounce a little more, it was no secret the nerves were picking up.

“Nervous?” Todd Gilliland questions as he glances over with a chuckle.

“I’m never comfortable with her at Daytona or Talladega,” Chase answers as Todd was slightly taken back and a little surprised. “Let’s just say that I keep thinking about last April…” Todd closes his eyes, trying to remember, before nodding his head as he understood.

“A glimpse of what if and now it makes you nervous…”

“I mean, I can handle it because I’ve been there and know what it’s like. But it does cause a couple butterflies.” Todd just shakes his head in surprise, but not before sending a quick message to Kyle. “I saw that….”

“I’m sorry, but you know Kyle will get a chuckle out of that….” Chase couldn’t deny that, as Kyle had already bugged him a couple times before. “She’s got the best car out there. It’s just about making the moves happen….”

The restart would go smoothly, and it’d look as though they were set to get a good run at the lead – but of course, that opportunity never came. Another caution would fly with eight laps to go.

“You and Sheldon will be lined up together,” her spotter told her, which brought smiles all around. Everybody could only picture the past restart in their minds and were set for the magic to happen once again. It was like the race was playing right into their hands.

As predicted, the pair were able to check out together on the restart with four laps to go. As the moments ticked down, everybody could already see the magical move coming on the last lap. Chase knew she just needed to leg back perfectly, let the pack allow her to get a run on Sheldon, and then make the move – but not too soon to get shuffled out. The last lap would be where it would happen.

Everything was starting to set up for a move down the back, when they watched one car spin around, collecting two others, with a car going up on its side – bringing out the yellow flag on the white flag lap.

“That’s it,” Chase states as Todd looks over, shaking his head no.

“ARCA will run every single lap – no matter how many attempts,” Todd reminds him. “One lap shootout coming up.”

Chase felt the mixture of butterflies immediately hearing the news. While he knew that could be what they needed to win as she’d be restarting at the front of the field, he couldn’t help but admit his nerves were fried after seeing the wreck, as it reminded him of every fear he had entering the event. How was he supposed to survive this one lap shootout now?

He hears his phone go off, taking it out of his pocket. He sees the message from Alan, notifying him that they’d drawn 12th for the Clash tomorrow. Not the best starting spot, but not the worse. He could make that work in his favor.

Taking a deep breath, he was set to focus back on the race, knowing it was now or never.

“I’ve got to pit!” He hears over the radio. “We’re out of fuel!”

“Shit!” David Gilliland lets out as he looks over the calculations once again.

Chase felt every frustration in that, as he watched her come back down pit road and get topped off with gas. From third to 18th just like that.

The restart came and the focus was simply on trying to survive – no damage at all to the car yet unlike a bunch of others – and maybe get a top-10. Chase couldn’t help but watch the top-four, though, hoping Sheldon pulled it off as they had all worked together.

“Oh no….” He lets out, seeing the contact from Chase Purdy into Sheldon, sending him sideways. Somehow, Sheldon manages to save it, but the other three crash, collecting others along the way. “My gosh….”

His eyes immediately go searching for Sarina, trying to see where she ended up, and immediately sets sights as she’s midway through the corner, dodging cars left and right. He felt his stomach flip, leg set to tap a little quicker, as he watched her barely miss a couple – even closing his eyes at one point for a quick second. though seeing her come out of the wreck with not a single crash, he couldn’t help but let out a cheer.

“Holy cow!” Todd lets out in surprise as he looks over at Chase. “That was incredible. Sheldon’s save, to her driving – am I seeing this right?” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“Suddenly I don’t mind pitting for fuel,” David adds as he points to the scoring monitor, which showed her now back up to third.

“How the heck?”

“I learned that from Kyle Busch – my gosh that was amazing,” they hear her over the radio as Chase takes a couple calming deep breathes.

“I don’t know if this guy here is going to survive another restart – or two,” Todd comments as David looks over with a chuckle.

“How long have we been stuck on one to go for?” Chase wonders as Todd shakes his head, not sure. Either way, they both knew it felt like forever and if not for the twist in fate, they probably would’ve been pissed off.

“You always said that she could drive, but damn!” Chase chuckles as it was actually neat in hearing Todd’s constant comments now.

“Are you kidding me?!?” David’s outburst catches them both off-guard, as they glance at each other, before looking towards him. “Tail end of the field on the restart for holding back on the restart.”

“Are you serious?” Chase questions and David nods his head. “No, there’s no wa-”

“I’m not kiddin-”

“Sure, she wasn’t caught up to the rear of the field. But did she gain anything by doing that? No, she didn’t jump pass anybody nor did she go before the flag came out. If you don’t gain anything by legging back, then how can they penalize you?”

“Besides, was there even enough time after serving the penalty to catch the back of the field?” Todd adds as David lets out a sigh.

“Trust me, I’m confused as you are….” David offers as he climbs down the steps to argue over the decision with the official.

Ultimately, he was unable to get the call overturned, sending Sarina to the back once again. Chase just shook his head in disgust as he watched the restart, seeing her come back up through once again, ultimately crossing the finish line for the checkered in seventh.

Chase walks over to the car, and almost stopped in surprise as he saw a smile on her face. He had expected a burst of anger, frustration, yelling, and a look of disgust to match the one on his face after the late-race decision.

“Are you actually smiling?” He questions as she nods her head. “Okay, those anger management classes must be magical….” She then half-punches him, catching him off-guard. “Hey!”

“I can’t help but smile, okay?’ She offers as he looks at her confused. “I had a bunch of fun out there tonight. No pressure, just letting it fly and loose for a night to kick off the year. I had fun joking on the radio with the team. I had fun driving my ass through the field multiple times. I mean, who can say they drove through that field three times? I had a ball of fun, and I’m not afraid to tell the world that. I’m glad that I got the opportunity to run this race.” Chase certainly was surprised by her reaction, but he wasn’t about to change things as he walks over, wrapping an arm around her.

“You did do a great job behind the wheel to the point that Todd wouldn’t stop chattering my ear off.” She chuckles as she glances over at Todd. “But really, you were very impressive tonight. If you can do that next Friday night, you’re going to be awesome – but that’s no surprise.” He then kisses her cheek, before she turns to glance at him.

“So I’m happy and you’re frustrated?” It certainly didn’t feel right.

“I wasn’t too pleased with the call at the end of the rac-”

“It is what it is, right? I obviously didn’t follow restart protocol to what they specify, despite a strategic move, so I got penalized. Why should I upset about something that I can’t change?” He then looks at her now really caught off-guard.

“Seriously, who are you and what have you done with my girlfriend?” She chuckles as she glances over towards the guys.

“I guess I’m just glad that the winter is over, and we’re back in our natural habitat.” She then glances back towards Chase. “But for what it is worth, we should’ve been in victory lane. Now just promise me that your race will be calmer tomorrow.”

“Hey now, we don’t have endless restarts and there’s only 17 cars. I think it’ll be smoother.” Sarina takes a deep breath, crossing her fingers that he was right.

After a couple more discussions with the team, the pair headed back to the motorcoach lot together. Though as they were heading back, Sarina couldn’t help but stop when she saw Natalie Decker.

“Natalie!” She lets out, walking over to her. “Great job!” She immediately wraps her arms around her, which Natalie immediately responds back. While they hadn’t spent a lot of time together over the past couple of years, they had a good friendship dating back to their late model days together. When Natalie signed her new ARCA deal, Sarina had been one of the first people to call and congratulate her.

“I still don’t know how I finished fifth with the car looking like that,” Natalie jokes as she had been missing the left front fender following contact. “That was insane! But my gosh, you, I have to say that you’re amazing too. Great job!”

“I can’t deny that I had a lot of fun tonight.” Natalie then glances over at Chase.

“And can I just say that you’re spectacular?” Chase then looks between the girls surprised.

“What did I do?” Chase questions as Natalie’s jaw drop in shock.

“Hello Mr. Super Talented racecar driver,” Natalie answers. “Hello great in so many ways. Hello you’re awesome revenge on Denny. Hello – I could go on and on. Plus, on top of that, you’re just the perfect package of sweetness.” Natalie then looks over at Sarina. “Frankly girl, you’re spoiled.”

“I don’t ever take him for granted,” Sarina offers as Chase just rolls his eyes.

“I’m just an ordinary regular guy,” he comments as Natalie looks back towards Sarina.

“That’s what he keeps saying….” Natalie couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Clearly, we need to send the entire fan base after him at once,” Natalie suggests as Sarina nods her head in agreement. “I can’t wait to see how you do Friday night. Both Leilani and me said that we’d watch it together.”

“I’m glad that you’re staying to watch,” Sarina comments back in response. “It should be a good show.” Natalie nods her head back in response.

“It’s like the perfect girl power weekend. We start the weekend off by getting good luck hugs from our queen, Ms. Danica, and then we all finish in the top-10. I mean, no pressure, but you and Danica better live up to your end of the bargain.”

“I have a feeling she’ll be right up there battling for the win Friday night,” Chase comments, catching the girls off-guard as they’d totally forgot about him being there in the midst of their discussion. “What? Her talent, plus trucks from KBM – do you see where I am going, Natalie?”

“Absolutely,” Natalie answers with a big smile on her face. “And really, it’d be nice to see Danica go out on a high considering this is it…” Both Chase and Sarina nod their heads in agreement. “By the way, me and Leilani were going to sit with Danica tomorrow for the Clash – kind of girl’s catch-up. Leilani mentioned asking you, but Danica noted how you always sit on Chase’s pit box. What do you say?” Sarina then glances over at Chase.

“It’s up to you. I mean, I don’t think Alan and Jordan will miss you too much….” Sarina glances between the pair. It’d be nice to spend time with the girls for the race, but would it feel right not being in her usual spot?

“I’ll let you know tomorrow, okay?” Sarina offers, continuing to flip flop in her mind. Natalie simply gave her a nod back in return.

“I better go before Billy comes looking,” Natalie then states. “See ya!”

Natalie heads off as the pair continues their walk back to the motorcoach.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 90: AAA 400 Drive for Autism

Christopher Bell leans back against a post, watching Chase and Sarina walk through the garage together. He could only let out a sigh as Todd Gilliland walked up to join him.

“You seem a little disheartened watching them,” Todd comments, catching a glance from Christopher. “If I didn’t know you had a girlfriend, I’d say you were crushing on her.” Christopher chuckles as he lets out a sigh.

“She’s not that bad looking bud, but you’re right – no crushing,” Christopher says. “I’m just thinking about what she said to me.”  Todd then glances over surprised.

“When she called you a jackass?” Christopher laughs and shakes his head no.

“We talked on Friday, actually. She asked me to get off her back and stop annoying her about Chase. I said I guess I could, but I had my reasons. I mean, you know – oh wait, you probably don’t know much about the fight they had after what happened at the Winter Meltdown, do you?” Todd shakes his head no. “Anyways, I have my doubts and concerns of their fight and what happened with her brother. I’m worried about her, you know? So she accepted that they were reasonable concerns in response, and told me her reasons as to why they weren’t bothering her. I accepted.”

“So that should mean this is all over and you staring is nothing, right?” Christopher glances at his teammate and shrugs his shoulders.

“It should, but I asked her why it meant a lot to her. Let’s just say that her response was interesting as to her background, and how she hasn’t had that person for stability or trust in her life – till she got the chance to run a late model down here, and till she met Chase. He’s only the second person, per her, to give her a true chance. It made me think…”

“You’re starting to realize that you were a jackass?” Christopher turns his head sharply as Todd smiles. “Hey, it’s okay to admit it. We’ve all done that before.”

“I guess…..”

********************************

Chase stood by the car on pit road, leaning against it as he lets out a sigh. If it was up to him, he’d just snap his fingers and it would be race time. Instead, he had to wait impatiently for opening ceremonies to commence.

“I’m surprised you don’t got a body guard or something hanging around,” He hears and glances over at his mom. He takes off his sunglasses, giving her a surprised glance.

“Why do you say that?” He questions, waiting for some reference to Sarina’s brother.

“Between Jared being poisoned, to that driver at Bristol, and then now Jake this weekend, I thought security would’ve been increased.” He couldn’t blame her as he had wondered the same after the events experienced. However, instead, they each go briefed on the happenings and that was all.

“We were just warned about the usual protocol of watch where you get stuff from, and make sure nobody is slipping something in your cup. That’s why this is being held close…” His mom walks over, giving him the once over as she glances at the bottle of Gatorade.

“Have they done any proper investigating?” Bill wonders. “Any leads?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, knowing the authorities were giving little details as possible.

“I know Jared went through a good questioning session with them as they wondered what he remembered and who was around him. Alan, Greg and a couple of the guys also got questioned as to how much he was around them and away from them, and also background checked due to possible reasoning – who knows why. I had a quick round of questions with them being my crew member, and Sarina spent a good round with them due to Jake.”

“Any update on Jake?” Sarina smiles as she walks over, wrapping an arm around Chase.

“I went and saw him yesterday actually,” she states. “He’s doing pretty good. They said that he is in the clear so he should be released soon and back to work. Didn’t Jared go back to work this week?” Chase shakes his head yes, pointing to him as he sat on the wall with the other guys.

“That’s good to hear.”

“Oh yes, because everybody needs Jared picking on them,” Chase comments as Jared perks up.

“Did you say something over there, Mr. Elliott?” Jared questions as Chase looks back.

“You’re hearing things…” Jared then stands up and walks over.

“I don’t think so….” He then wraps an arm around Sarina and leads her away. “Listen, that boy there, he’s trouble. You got to watch that one. I tell you he’s going to play games with you.” She then laughs as she looks back over at Chase.

“I don’t think I have anything to worry about man,” she comments as she sneaks out of his grasp and back over to Chase.

“Find your own girl; this sweetpea is all mine,” Chase says as he gives her a quick kiss.

“Sweetpea?” Bethany questions as she walks over. “That’s an interesting nickname that I’d never hear said in reference to Sarina.” Sarina then looks over at her cousin and brother.

“And that’s a nickname that you’ll never ever damn well repeat,” Sarina states as Bethany just smirks at her.

“Wait till the family reunion. Sarina Sweetpea Ott.” Sarina glances down at the comment, shaking her head.

“We’re having one of those?” Bethany shakes her head yes. “Lovely. Count me out.”

“Why is that?” Sarina looks over at her cousin.

“Because I told you damn well what I thought of the family. Wasn’t that made clear already? Been through enough shit to do that.”

“Easy,” Chase comments as he rubs her shoulders. “Bethany, why don’t you can the topic for now and we talk about it later, okay?” She then rolls her eyes as she glances at Chris.

“Want to go find our seat?” She question and he shakes his head yes. They then head off together as Chase lets out a sigh.

“Family ties that bad?” Bill questions as they walk away and Sarina shakes her head yes.

“I’d rather not talk about it, but yeah,” she answers as she glances into Chase’s eyes. He knew her reasons as he kept his arms tightly wrapped around her.

“Hence why I said that I couldn’t trust them,” Cindy says, earning a stern glance from both Bill and Chase. “Don’t give me that look. You boys know what I said.” Sarina remembered her thoughts when speaking with Bell as she takes a deep breath. If she was going to earn Cindy’s trust, that started now.

“Cindy, I know I have a questionable past and certainly I know that has caused issues – I apologize continually over and over for what happened. But I can assure you and promise you that I will never, ever hurt your son again or your family. I love you both and you’re both sweet as ever, and that’s not my intention here. I love Chase, I can’t wait for what’s to come in the future, and there’s really no words to describe what I feel. I just hope that over time you can give me the respect and maybe a little love that I’ve got for you.” Cindy crosses her arms, eyes focused on the young lady in her son’s arms.

“With all due respect Ms. Chelsy Dryer, I can’t just turn a leaf and pretend that nothing happ-”

“I understan-”

“So don’t expect me to just bend over and say everything is fine till I damn well see what you’re saying. Based on your questionable family history and given your brother’s past, I think I have a very reasonable concern as to why I’m not comfortable with Bethany or Chris hanging around Chase and everybody. I think there’s reasons for me to double check safety at times. You probably get that, don’t you? Perhaps if you would’ve taken the whole deal seriously from the start, ousted your brother, solved this problem and then kept distance, you could’ve got what you wanted.” Sarina felt taken back by the comments – even more surprised in the usage of her real name. However, it was understandable given Cindy’s feelings on the situation.

“I understand what you’re saying, fully. All I can do is say my peace and try and show you, and hopefully it comes over time. There’s nothing else to say. And as far as my brother, we went through that in what happened with the brain surgery and such.” Cindy rolls her eyes, remembering.

“Don’t need a reminder. Chase, good luck today sweetheart. I hope you have a good run and we’ll talk after.” Chase rolls his eyes, knowing the discussion will be again whether he should trust Sarina or not. A glance at his dad hopefully meant that he’d have a talk with her first.

“Thanks,” he replies. “I love you.” He lets go of Sarina, walking over to give his parents each a hug, before returning to her as they make their way down pit road.

“I’m sorry….” Sarina says quietly as he pulls her back close.

“You don’t have to a single thing to say sorry about. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has a questionable decisions of their past. It’s not your fault what your family did. I know you feel bad for your mistakes and yes they hurt, but it’s okay. I’ve forgiven you because of the effort that you’ve put forth to fix the situation and just by how much you love me.” He turns her around in his arms, looking into her eyes. “I love you….”

“But I started that deal with Betha-”

“You have every right to skip that family reunion and tell her that straight up. I was fine with that. I just got her to cool off for now because we don’t need to do that here.” Sarina then glances down.

“But your mother….” He then puts his hand under her chin, tilting her head back up so their eyes were locked together.

“Remember – I told you that it’d take time with my mom. She’s going to test and twist you every way that she can imagine. That’s because I’m her baby bear, and she’s going to do whatever she can to protect me – she’s always been that way. Don’t let what she says get to you and trust that over time, she’ll see why I love you so much and love you just the same. She did let you in her house, right?” Sarina chuckles and shakes her head yes. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She then gives him a kiss as they hear the cue for opening ceremonies.

Letting out a sigh as he grabs her hand firmly, he couldn’t wait for the race to start and leave this all in the rearview. There was some nagging part of him that agreed with his mom’s concerns over Chris. Bethany – that was an unsolvable interest.

*********************************

Sarina walks up to him after the race, wrapping both arms around him as she reaches up and kisses his lips.

“I’m so damn proud of you!” She tells him. “You drove your butt off on that last restart to get up there and snag a top-five. That’s how you do it.” He then smiles as he spins her around his arms.

“It’s nice to break the curse, as we say,” he replies as he sets her back down. “And thank you.”

“You’re amazing. I can’t wait for your first win…”

“You’re going to get one, too.” He then takes her hand, giving the pit crew a quick wave before they head off together.

“What are we going to do about this week?” He lets out a sigh and shakes his head. Beyond Monday, the pair weren’t going to get a lot of time together. he was off to Chicago to test on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed her heading off to Texas on Thursday for practice. She was then racing in Texas on Friday while he was at Pocono for practice and qualifying. With her plans to stay in Texas on Saturday for the IndyCar race, that meant the pair wouldn’t see each other till Sunday – and that was only if she made the trip from Texas to Pocono for the Cup race.

“Promise me that you’ll text me and face time as much as you can?” She shakes her head yes.

“Of course. Promise me that you’ll kick ass?” He then laughs.

“As long as you do the same.” He then lets out a sigh as he looks towards her. “We better get used to this as we have a long summer ahead of us.” She shakes her head, knowing there were going to be plenty of weekends apart.

“As long as we both run well and remind each other of how much we love each other, I say we’ll be okay.” He smiles as he gives her a hand a squeeze.

“I hope you’re right…”