Second Chances – Chapters 31 Thru 36

Chapter 31: Home Sweet Home

July 2007

After a long weekend in Daytona, the pair walk into the front of the house, slip their shoes off and head upstairs for the bedsroom.

“Sorry the weekend didn’t pan out as you wanted,” Dale says as they walk inside the room.

“It’s not your fault,” she replies. “You can’t help shitty deals on track and it wasn’t you that started the bullshit.” She grabs a pajama shirt out of her bag along with a pair of pants. “I’m going to grab a shower, okay?” Dale shakes his head yes as she heads off for the bathroom.

She walks into the bathroom and slips out of her clothes, before turning to the shower and turning on the hot water. She steps in and lets the water run down her body as he thinks over the happenings of the weekend.

She wasn’t surprised that she was recognized as she expected that to happen. It was why she didn’t want to go in the first place. Why did she trust him? Why did she still go? She, however, was surprised that it was Heather that spotted her. She never pinned Heather as being a racing fan and going to the race track. Why was she there?

She knew it was only a matter of time as news spread about her being with Dale and people came her way. She didn’t want to leave his side and run away, but her mind knew that there was no choice if people started finding her. As Tony Jr. so kindly put it, it wasn’t fair or her to put Dale’s life in jeopardy for her own mistakes.

Climbing out of the shower, she felt that her mind was set in what she’d do. She didn’t want to leave and head home totally, but she’d cut ties with Dale so that way he wasn’t in harms way. She’d keep to herself and her job – maybe a new job – and hope that things panned out well.

She walks into the bedsroom and glances towards him, knowing that it’d be difficult to say her decision and fight for the reasons that she believed. Losing the gap that lied between them, even trying to say the words became more difficult as her love for him grew in her heart. How could he simply wrap her heart up and capture it so easily?

She climbs into the bed, slipping under the cover, turning her eyes to the television. He was watching a movie – Cast Away – which was no problem with her as she enjoyed the movie also.

“I’m sorry the weekend didn’t go as planned,” she starts catching a glance from him. “And I’m sorry that I made things tense between you and Tony. That’s not fair to either of you.”

“Lindsay, you don’t have to wor-” Dale starts as she looks over at him.

“Don’t give me that crap.”

“Well then don’t say crap. He had no place to say something like that to you whether he agrees with us dating or not. If he has that opinion, it should be kept to himself or just to me directly. I don’t want you making excuses for his behavior.” She then looks down at the blankets.

“But it’s my fault.” He shakes his head no as he scoots closer to her and wraps both arms around her.

“Absolutely not. You didn’t choose your life. You didn’t choose to be attacked that night. You’re only at fault for your choices – not what happens out of your control. As a person yourself, you haven’t made any bad choices so you have nothing to feel bad about.”

“What about your cousin?” Dale rolls his eyes.

“Screw him. He’s worried about me – as he always is – and he’s overreacting, as normal. Just ignore it and ignore what he has to say and once he sees the beautiful woman that you are, he will come around.” She then looks up at his eyes, a bit of hope filling her.

“Really?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“And if he doesn’t, I don’t care. His opinion doesn’t matter as this is my life and I have made the choice to trust you and be with you no matter what. I accepted it when you told me, just like you accepted my daughter and the decisions that I’ve made with regards to her. We’ve both made mistakes but together, this is our second chance at love. Let’s make it count.” She then smiles as she kisses his lips lightly.

“Thank you. You’re amazing.” He then kisses her back lightly.

 

Chapter 32: Parents

July 2007

On Monday morning, the pair walk into the shop and head to Dale’s office.

“Lindsay!” Tony Jr. yells as the pair walk by him and immediately Lindsay rolls her eyes.

“Ton-” Dale goes to start as he looks over at his cousin.

“I’m not calling her name to say something rude so shush your flap!” Tony Jr. then walks over as Dale looks between Lindsay and Tony confused. “There’s someone here who says that they want to see you and has an important reason.”

“What have we said about people who stop by the shop and say som-” Tony Jr. then glances at Dale.

“It isn’t one of those cases.”

“Who is here to see me?” Lindsay asks confused.

“Does the name George Carter ring a bell?” Tony Jr. wonders as Lindsay shivers a little, causing a concerned glance from Dale.

“You recognize the name?” Dale asks and Lindsay slowly shakes her head yes. “Who is he?”

“It’s her father. Your mom is also here, as well. Once they showed me proof of who they are and relation to you, I escorted them up to the conference room and said that you’d be in shortly. I guess word spread about things, huh?”

“Tony!” Tony Jr. then throws his arms up in his defense as he starts to walk away.

“Guess I better face the music,” Lindsay states quietly before beginning to make her way up the stairs. She heads down the hallway, taking a deep breath, before opening the door. Immediately her parents both look her way surprised to see her as she makes her way down the table and slowly sits down.

Nerves began to set in as she knew that neither – especially her father – who have good things to say to her with what has happened. From the events that day to her running away, she hadn’t done anything that would make her parents proud of her actions.

She also was concerned about what they’d have to say about Dale and the love that she had for him. She hoped that went over well as she knew that they’d want to see their daughter happy….right?

“Leighanne, it is so nice to see you sweetheart,” her mom starts. Lindsay knew that she didn’t need to worry about her mom as much as her dad, but still felt some tinge of worry.

“I’ve been looking forward to seeing you since you were released,” her father adds as Lindsay rolls her eyes. What good could come of those intentions?

“Heather came and told us that she saw you in Daytona with a man – some racecar driver named Dale. We both knew that we had to come and see you.”

“So you could drag my ass back home?” Lindsay questions, surprising her mother.

“My dear, we both love you and want to keep the family together,” her mom starts. “Don’t you want that?” Lindsay rolls her eyes.

“Why do you think I moved down here and changed my name, mom? I don’t want to be at home.”

“Oh dear! How come? Please tell us why.” Lindsay takes a deep breath, waiting for her dad’s yelling to begin.

“I don’t want to be involved in dad’s business operations or associated with the family at all. I hate everything that daddy and you are up to and I don’t want to be that ‘mob princess’ so I ran away to have the life that I want.”

“How dare you be so mean in your comments about your family,” her father states as Lindsay shakes her head in disbelief. “You have no respect at all.”

“Your father is right as I thought we both taught you the meaning of respect in what we’re doing,” her mom starts calmly as Lindsay laughs. “Leighanne!”

“Leighanne Carter, I demand that you change your name back and come home instantly. I am not allowing you to play this game of pretend! You are my daughter, my principessa. You need to be home with your family. You need to be doing what you know best. To say that I am wrong in what I do is so disrespectful. If you would’ve listened to me, you never would’ve been hurt that night!”

“It was your fault that you went to see those men and thought they loved you. You got what you deserved and trying to run from that is wrong.” Lindsay then stands up and her jaw immediately drops as she hears the words that her parents have to say.

“You disappoint me, Leighanne, by not listening to me and not adhering to your destiny. The only reason I allowed Mary to have a daughter is so I could make her my principessa. Why do you have to be so unhearing?”

“Because I hate every part of this mob lifestyle that you have!” Lindsay then yells, louder than intended.

“Leighanne, do not yell at your father!” Her mom yells back at her before slapping her across the face. “What has happened to you? Where is my sweet daughter?”

“Disappeared with her parents’ non sweet illegal act-” Her mother cuts her words off with another slap as the conference door opens.

“Who are you?” George asks as Dale walks in and wraps an arm around Lindsay.

“My name is Dale,” Dale answers as he pulls Lindsay close to him. “I can’t believe either of you. To commit whatever illegal actions is one thing, but to sit here and treat your daughter like this is another. She doesn’t want to be involved in the crimes that you may commit and I don’t blame her. For you to blame her for what happened to her and then slap her like you did-” Dale then looks towards Lindsay’s mom. “-is highly disrespectful and not right. I’m sorry but I can’t stand back and let it happen any longer. Either of you both smarten your actions up or else I am having you led out of here by security with potential of being arrested.”

“Dale, you don’t have to do this…” Lindsay starts as Dale kisses the top of her head.

“Yes I do because you don’t deserve this. I fully
understand why you ran like you did and don’t blame you one bit after what I’ve just seen.”

“I understand, but this is between my parents and I – not you also.”

“I’m not going to stand back and let them treat you like they were. I love you.”

“Do you truly love my daughter as much as you say?” Mary then speaks up, causing Dale to look over at her. He shakes his head yes.

“I love her more than I could love any other woman ever,” Dale replies as Mary smiles.

“Being in love and finding that special person is something really and truly remarkable as it takes a lot of work to find a person to be with and share your life with. If you are happy here, I am not going to force you to come home. However, I do ask that you respect your father in a better matter.”

“Then perhaps her father could respect her wishes rather than acting like he was.” Dale then looks towards Lindsay’s father as he keeps her held close.

“Lindsay, è deluso di me,” her father starts. “Non aspettarti che io salverò o mai ti aiuti se sei nei guai di nuovo. Si meritava quello che è successo a voi per voi rinnegaste tuo padre allora e continua a farlo.” Dale then looks between them confused as he glances towards Lindsay.

“What’d he say?” Dale asks as Lindsay takes a deep breath.

“You don’t want to know,” she answers before turning to her father. “Le vostre azioni mi deludono proprio come le mie azioni si deludono. Per voi per augurare del male a tua figlia e dire che meritava di essere violentata, fottiti! Fottiti! Andare salto in un cassonetto dove artisti del calibro di voi appartengono!”

“What did you just say?” Lindsay smiles as her father lets out an aggravated sigh before storming out of the room.

“He told me that he was disappointed me, I deserved to be harmed and I better not look for him to take care of me in the future. In response, I told him that he disappoints me, to fuck off and go live in a dumpster where he belongs.”

“Wow!” Dale didn’t know what surprised him more – her father saying that she deserved to be raped, or the fact that she told him to screw off.

“You are very rude in telling your father to do that,” her mother states.

“Just as he says that she deserved to be raped?” Dale questions.

“I love you mother and I respect you – however, I can’t stand daddy when he says things like that,” Lindsay explains as she walks over to her mom. “I will always love you both. However, I want you to respect my decision. If you respect my decision, I have nothing to say. But when father says that, I can’t be respectful any longer.”

“I understand but you’re still a little out of line,” her mother states and Lindsay shakes her head no.

“Leave, mom. You have my phone number. Feel free to stay in touch that way and tell daddy to not bother with a single phone call. Goodbye and ti amo.” Her mother slowly leaves the room and heads out as Lindsay turns to face Dale. She wondered what was going through his mind as he listened what transpired, though also found her thoughts back to when she was a teen.

 

Chapter 33: Aftermath

July 2007

Without a single word, Dale instantly pulls her close and holds her, rubbing her back. He had no clue what emotions were going through her mind, but he imagined that there was probably a lot of heart break as a result of what had just taken place.

“At least mommy still loves me, right?” She states after a bit as she looks into his blue eyes.

“No matter what your father says, he still loves you deep down,” he tells her as she lets out a laugh.

“Oh really? Then what father says that he’s glad that his daughter was hurt by someone?” She then lets out a sigh as she takes a couple steps away, taking a deep breath. She couldn’t even believe for a second what had slipped from her father’s mouth only moments ago, nor could she believe that the thought of her father loving her was true. She felt no love at all in the span of time that he was in that room and wished that she never saw him ever again. “I’m sorry that you had to see that.”

“It’s fine. It doesn’t change what I think about you and how much I love you. It just allows me to understand you more and be there for you each step of the way, if you let me.” She then turns back to face him.

“Nothing my parents could say could change how I feel about you as I know in my heart what I am doing here is right and that I love you.”

“Well I love you right back and to the moon.” She then laughs as she walks over to him.

“I love you to the stars and beyond.”

“Well then I love you beyond the milky way.”

“Milky way….mmmm…..that makes me hungry for a milkshake. What do you say we forget about what happened and go get a milkshake together? We can get back to us.” She then heads towards the door, though notices that Dale hasn’t moved an inch. She then looks back, curious.

“You’re avoiding the topic at hand.” She then looks down as he caught her right in the moment.

“So what if I am? I don’t want to deal with it.” He then walks over to her.

“How are you going to move forward if you don’t deal with it?” She then looks into his blue eyes.

“Simple. By focusing on the positives that I have in my life now and not worrying about my past.” He then runs a hand through her hair.

“And what happens when you can’t sleep at night due to the thoughts that cross your mind? What happens when it hits you full force and you can’t handle it?” He then wipes a piece of hair away from her eyes. “You’ve made me face every thought that has crossed my mind and for that, it has helped me tremendously. Now that goes both ways. Let me help you.”

“You’re already doing that by being here with me and showing me that true love is possible without boundaries.” He then kisses her lips lightly.

“Without boundaries, huh? But yet the past still lies there beneath your eyes.” He then takes her hand into his, knowing that he has to be careful in his next set of words. “There’s certainly a lot going through your mind with what happened then and with what happened today. I know you got to be thinking about a lot of things when it comes to home, your parents and what happened. You need to let those go. You can’t let it stay buried up inside. It’s not good for you.” She then looks down before returning her gaze back to his.

“I know it’s not – but it’s how I choose to handle this. I can’t say much more about my parents. I te amo my mom dearly – she’s awesome and I care about her. I bless her heart for understanding what I am doing and certainly will keep in contact with her.” He then leads Lindsay back to the chairs in the room.

“But yet your father…..” She then looks away with a sigh. “Lindsay….”

“I could care less about him after what he said, okay? That was no way to speak to me or instruct me to behave or wish harm on me. He has no idea how much pain I went through that day and how much it hurt me. He has no idea how I felt and I wish that I could make him feel the same pain so he’d never speak those words again.” Dale keeps a firm grasp on her hand, totally understanding the feelings as he was set to take a shot at her dad if he didn’t adhere to the advice instructed. “But somehow, I still love and care about him.”

“And somewhere, somehow, he still loves and cares about you. Perhaps one day you will both find an understanding. Till then, maybe it’s best that you both don’t talk so therefore you don’t drive each other crazy. Maybe in a couple months, he’ll come to his senses.” Dale then slowly lets go of her hand. “Anything else on that sweet mind of yours?” She shakes her head no as he wraps both arms around her. “That’s fine. This is certainly better than saying nothing. I love you and know that I am always here to listen to you.”

“Thank you. I appreciate it.” He then looks into her eyes with a smile.

“Still want that milkshake?” She shakes her head yes as he leads her out of the office. “I know the perfect place to go for these killer chocolate milkshakes.”

“I can’t wait to go there. It’s probably just as perfect as everything so far with us together.”

 

Chapter 34: Parents

August 2007

In the month that followed, she listened to Dale’s advice as she kept in contact with her mom, while avoiding her father. The conversations were great with her mother as it was nice to be back in contact once again and able to share the happenings of each of their lives.

Though with the conversations, you could tell that there was a tinge of sadness in no response or understanding from her father. It bugged her and Dale noticed it. He hated to see her saddened by it and kept trying to comfort her with words as it’ll work out in the future and not to worry. However, it didn’t seem to have an effect.

Seeing the emotions that it played on Lindsay, he knew that he had to do something himself.

He had jotted down the phone number for her house the night prior, and sitting in his office with the door closed, he dialed it.

“Hello?” He heard George’s voice on the other end as he took a deep breath.

“Hello,” he starts calmly. “It’s Dale Jr. calling. Listen, can we talk please?”

“Why should we talk? Did something happen to my daughter?”

“No, your daughter is perfectly fine. Actually, things are great right now for Lindsay…Leighanne as you call her. We’re perfectly fine in love as a couple and she’s got no issues with work right now. I think being able to talk with her mom has helped. I’m actually calling to talk to you, truthfully. Do you realize how much it bugs a child when they don’t feel that love they want from their father?”

“I do understand. I grew up without a father because he was killed when I was eight years old. I know the feeling so do not play emotional games on me, Mr. Earnhardt. Whether Leighanne is sad without a relationship or not, it doesn’t bother me. She knows how to fix that. She knows where she belongs. She knows where home is.” Dale leans back in the chair, thinking over George’s words.

“Are you ashamed that she didn’t follow your footsteps, or are you more ashamed that she ran away from home?”

“What?”

“Answer the question. It seems that you’re not agreeing with your daughter’s decision to move south. So is it because of now following your word, or because she left town all together?” Dale hears a sigh at the other end as a smile comes to his face.

“How would you feel if your baby girl ran away from you? How would you feel if she didn’t want to be near you? It’s not a comfortable feeling and certainly something that I wasn’t ready for. Do you know what it’s like to lose your child when she’s only a teenager?” Dale thinks over his words to say in return.

“I know the feeling of losing your child when she’s a toddler and holding that regret that you’re not there for her. Thankfully, I made good on that. I understand your sadness and being hurt as a result. Now does that give you the right to stand in front of her and tell her that she got what she deserved that night?” He hears a sigh and knows that he’s certainly breaking through.

“No, of course not. I thought tough love was the trick.”

“That wasn’t no tough love, my friend. That was extreme wrong behavior that shocked the crap out of me. You do realize that she does miss you, right?”

“Of course. I miss her as well, as you now know.”

“Maybe you should give her a call and talk to her.”

“How can I do that after what I said?”

“Simple. You can call her, apologize and explain your feelings. Knowing the sweet girl that she is and how she misses you, she’ll probably forgive you. Then you can start at building a good relationship.”

“Okay. I think I may do that. Thank you. I appreciate your call. Why did you call, anyway?” Dale smiles.

“Because I care about your daughter. I love your daughter so much. I just want to see her happy. If this helps, then it’s worth it.”

 

Chapter 35: George’s Visit

August 2007

Following the phone call, George got a flight to Charlotte as he wanted to go follow Dale’s advice, but take it one step forward and do it in person. He bought some flowers and headed over to the merchandise store where he knew that she was working.

“Is there a sweet red headed girl that I could see?” He speaks, catching Lindsay’s attention. She turns around and looks at her father, surprise written over her face as she looks over him. “I’m sorry.”

“Honestly?” Lindsay questions, unsure whether to believe him or not. Her father shakes his head yes as he hands the flower over to her. She then motions for him to follow as they head into the back stockroom. “So this is your apology? This is you saying that you accept my decision?” Her father shakes his head yes as Lindsay leans against a wall. “This is your way of saying that you accept that I don’t want to follow your lifestyle and I want to be here in North Carolina?”

“Absolutely and that I give you and Dale my blessing. If you’re happy, then I am happy for you. I was so wrong to try and tell you exactly what to do and also be like I was to you after what happened.” He then slowly closes the gap between them. “I’m sorry, Leighanne.” She then looks down, thinking over his words. Determining that he was telling the truth, she looks back up with a smile on her face and pulls him close for a hug. “Te amo.” She then kisses his cheek before pulling back.

“Te amo.”

“So does this mean that I’m going to get to talk to you a lot? Does this mean that you’ll be coming to visit?”

“Absolutely. I hated not being able to see you for a long time.”

“I hate it also as I couldn’t ever stop loving you no matter what. There was always a part of me that wished we could work it out.”

“Me too.”

“You know that I’ll always be daddy’s little girl – but for now, I have work to do.” She then picks up a box and heads back out to the store with her father in toe. “If I don’t do this, Shelly is liable to kick my ass.” Shelly then peeks over from the counter and laughs as Lindsay stocks the shelves.

“Girl, I can’t kick your butt as Dale would kick mine,” Shelly comments as Lindsay laughs. It did feel a little odd working her future cousin, but she loved it. It was easy to tell why everybody was close.

“I won’t keep you then,” her father starts. “Dinner tonight?” Lindsay shakes her head yes.

“Oh hell, leave now and get re-accustomed together!”

“Are you sure?” Lindsay questions and Shelly shakes her head yes. “Okay. If you need me, though, call me.” Lindsay then finishes the box before grabbing her things and heading out with her father.

As they spent the afternoon catching up, she couldn’t deny how good it felt. It was nice to have her life together the way she wanted it and have the relationship with her father that she cherished.

 

Chapter 36: New Beginnings

January 1, 2008

“Can you believe that it’s the new year?” Lindsay asks as her and Dale lay out on the back porch of his house together under the stars. “Can you believe that it’s officially 2008 and here we lay together? Everything…..what happened….has led us to this.” Dale grins and shakes his head no as he still couldn’t believe how well things were working out with her.

They had continued to get to know each other and had grown a special connection that nobody could break. They had gained Tony Jr.’s trust with each week that passed and he finally believed that Lindsay’s intentions were real.

While she was noticed that one time, it all didn’t grow into anything as her father was able to hold off all people who were even set to try anything. Beyond that, she now had the relationship with her parents that she truly wanted and craved for the years that had passed. They were back talking about everything.

In short, Lindsay had found her Cinderella story.

“I still can’t believe how well it has worked out….and how close we’ve grown,” Dale comments, before leaning in and kissing her lips. She wraps an arm around him, deepening the kiss.

“Dale….” She lets out as she pulls back for a quick moment. “I love you.” He runs a hand underneath the back of her shirt, keeping her held close, feeling her soft skin against his hand. They had still avoided having ‘sex’ together as he wanted to go by the rule of waiting till she was ready following what had happened to her before.

Though feeling that the time was right, he slowly slid her shirt up and over her head. She then followed suit with his shirt, not saying any words, scared that she’d spoil the moment herself. Her body craved him, she wanted him – but she also felt a tinge of worry in the form of memories.

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to. However, if you do, I will continue because I want you badly. I need you badly.”

“I need you…I’m just scared. Be slow and careful…” He shakes his head understanding as she reaches for the button on his jeans, undoing it. She then slides them off slowly, biting her lip the whole time in nerves. “God you’re sexy….”

“Baby, you’re just as sexy too.”

“Not as hot as you.” He then grins as he slides her skirt down, slowly, not wanting to startle her. “I know I’m ready now.”

“You don’t have to put on a brave face if you’re not. I’ll love you no matter what.”

“No – I’m truly ready, Dale.”

“Okay.” She then reaches over, sliding his boxers off as he slips her underwear off. With their eyes locked together, she knew that she could trust him. She knew that they were truly meant to be together as he slipped himself inside of her, slowly. She could tell in his movements that he was there to take care of her, and that gave her relief to her fears. The past could be forgotten and let go. The pain was to be left behind. She had her man and that’s all that mattered.

“God baby yes…..oh yess….that’s it…”

 

THE END

Second Chances – Chapters 26 Thru 30

Chapter 26: Dinner

July 2007

“Nervous?” Dale asks as they head to where they’re supposed to meet up with Rick, Linda and Angelica.

“Absolutely not,” Lindsay answers as she keeps a firm hold on Dale’s hand. “I’m excited, actually.”

“Daddy!” They hear as they get close as Angelica breaks away from Linda and Rick to run over. She immediately wraps both arms around Dale as he hugs her back. She then looks over at Lindsay. “Who are you?”

“My name is Lindsay.” Lindsay holds out her hand and the little girl shakes it.

“Are you daddy’s girlfriend?” Lindsay slowly nods her head yes. “Daddy finally got a girl!” Lindsay laughs a little as Dale looks at her shocked.

“Well, that’s the interesting introduction,” Rick states as Dale shakes his head in agreement. “So you’re his girlfriend, Lindsay. I’m Rick. Pleased to meet you.” Lindsay shakes Rick’s hand.

“Are you coming to dinner?” Angelica interrupts them and Lindsay shakes her head yes.

“Is that okay with you?” Dale questions and Angelica shakes her head yes.

“I can tell Lindsay about going fast.”

“Going fast?” Lindsay questions and Angelica shakes her head yes.

“She’s started racing the Legends at Charlotte on Wednesday evenings,” Linda states as Lindsay looks over at Angelica surprised.

“And she’s pretty good for a rookie,” Rick adds as Dale smiles.

“What else would you expect?” Dale questions. “She’s my daughter.”

“That’s true.”

“Oh, I should introduce myself,” Linda states. “My name is Linda and it’s nice to meet you.

“It’s nice to meet you too,” Lindsay replies.

“So are we going to the usual spot?” Dale wonders and Rick shakes his head yes.

“Why would we go somewhere else?” Linda questions and Dale shrugs his shoulders. “Don’t worry Lindsay, you’ll love it.”

They all then get in the car and head to the restaurant. Assembled around the table, Dale and Angelica immediately get into a discussion about homework, friends and racing, as Linda takes the opportunity to get to know Lindsay.

“So how long have you two been together?” Linda questions, surprising Lindsay. She wasn’t sure on the exact answer based on everything that has happened.

“We’ve officially been a couple for about two months now,” Lindsay starts. “But we started growing closer together near the end of last year.”

“Aww that’s sweet.”

“Absolutely. I can’t complain so far with how things have gone.”

“So what’s the story on how you both met?” Lindsay rolls her eyes. There was no way that she could tell the real truth to that.

“Very simple – I got a job working on the merchandise department at JRM with Shelley. We crossed paths at the company party and the friendship started then.”

“I know some others who have fallen in love through being at work together. It’s not a big deal, either, as long as you know how to balance work and love. That’s why sometimes I don’t understand how companies don’t allow inter-work relationships. I don’t think Rick has ever set his foot down on that.”

“I don’t see you should have, too. I mean, I can work at the merchandise store and yet still spend time with him on the side. However, I think people worry about what happens if the relationship turns ugly. That could make dynamics at work very stressful. I could only imagine if two people had to work together who had just broken up.”

“I can’t argue there.”

Throughout the night, everybody spent time talking with each other and catching up.

Dale could tell that Angelica liked Lindsay and knew that was a great first step as he wanted them both to like each other. He didn’t know what he’d do if he found his daughter didn’t like her.

In getting to know Lindsay, Rick thought that she was a great person for Dale to be with and hoped that things grew. He knew if he was telling her about his daughter that there was some serious trust there beyond other girls that he’d met through the years. Linda, meanwhile, wanted to think positive of every person in her life, but found struggles with that on Lindsay. She wasn’t sure whether the intentions were there for the right reason and worried what would happen if things went south.

“Daddy, will I see you tomorrow?” Angelica asks as they get back to the track afterwards.

“Absolutely,” Dale answers with certainty. “I’ll make sure to come say hi before the race and after the race, okay? Maybe you can sit in the car as well.” Angelica’s eyes open up wide as she looks back at him.

“Yay!”

“It was nice meeting you – all of you,” Lindsay comments as Angelica looks over at her.

“I like you,” Angelica comments as Lindsay kneels to her level.

“I like you as well.”

“Think you girls could be best friends?” Linda wonders and both shake their heads yes. “Well, I hope so.”

They then trade goodbyes before separating and heading their own ways. No doubt it was a successful night across the board for everyone.

 

Chapter 27: Spotted

July 2007

As they waited for the hours to countdown till race time, the pair walked through the garage area as they went to go find Rick and Angelica.

“Leighanne?” Someone questions, causing Lindsay to instantly become spooked.

“They’re probably thinking that you’re someone else – not who you think they think you are,” Dale whispers noticing the grip of her hand on his change. “That or they’re referring to someone else. Keep cool and keep walking.”

“Leighanne?” Lindsay stops and looks in the direction of the person, instantly recognizing her as she feels her heart sink.

“Nope – this person knows who I am,” Lindsay whispers as Dale looks at her and then the girl confused.

“Who is she?” Dale wonders as the girl comes trotting over.

“Well well, if it isn’t Ms. Carter herself,” the girl states as Dale keeps an arm between them.

“If you have nothing nice to say, I suggest you walk away. I will call security if necessary.” The girl then laughs as she looks at Dale and then back to Lindsay.

“So you go out of jail and then hooked up with NASCAR’s bachelor? Real smooth, Leighanne.”

“The name is Lindsay now so I suggest you use it right,” Lindsay instructs as Dale looks at Lindsay.

“Should we be going away from this person?” Dale wonders. “Or are things cool?”

“Oh hush your worried flap,” the girl instructs. “It isn’t me that she needs to worry about and she knows that. I guess that’s why she changed her name. Did you know that she had been in jail for murder?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“I don’t keep secrets from people that I love,” Lindsay states as she looks at Dale. “Dale, this is Heather – a person that I’d rather not see too much of actually.”

“Why sweetheart? There’s nothing wrong with me.”

“You’re right – there isn’t. However, I don’t agree with what your father, uncle or cousin seem to be up to ever in their lives. Hence why I moved away from it all. Now why don’t you go about your business and leave me alone? Come on Dale…” She then tugs on Dale’s hand lightly and they walk away from ‘Heather’ and instead of going to look for Angelica and Rick, they head straight into the No. 8 Budweiser hauler.

Lindsay walks inside and heads up to the lounge, thoughts swirling through her mind. She knew that this was possible and that’s why she was worried about being down and out about with Dale. She never thought that she could possibly run into Heather or someone, though. Well she felt a strange worry before, that worry didn’t remain now. For some reason, she felt safe with Dale and safe with the team. She also felt that Heather or nobody could touch her based on these premises.

Beyond this weekend, she knew that Heather would say something back home and everybody would know. Well worry perhaps plagued her mind before, she wasn’t seemingly worried now. Let them come see her and let them try what they may. She knew that she could defend herself and she knew that she wouldn’t let any of them ruin what she had. This relationship may only have been official for a couple weeks now, but the pair had been together much longer dating back to the party. She wasn’t ready to let anyone rip that out of her arms no matter what.

“That would be Johnathan’s cousin by the way,” she states as Dale sits there thinking. “That’s why I didn’t care to stay around her any longer.”

The thoughts of what had taken place didn’t concern Dale that much as he knew that he could take on whatever challenges this brought. He was more worried about Lindsay’s thoughts, and felt confidence in how she was acting so far. With being led back to the lounge, he was thinking that she’d be wanting to leave immediately and spreading regrets about the situation.

“Are you okay?” Dale asks and Lindsay shakes her head yes.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” She questions. “Did you think that her spotting me would change things?” Dale shakes his head yes. “Well, originally I thought it would. However, I’m really starting to realize how much I care about you and how I couldn’t just up and leave you. That’s why I swear to you that I’m not leaving you no matter what. I love you and nothing will ever change that.” She then looks at him and kisses his lips. “Let her tell the world or the family and let them come fine me. They can do whatever they want but I’m not leaving your side.”

“I won’t let them take you from me, either. You’re the most amazing person ever.” Dale then kisses her lips back as they sit there relaxing.

 

Chapter 28: Spotted Part 2

July 2007

The pair sat in the trailer talking back and forth before Dale headed out to go find Angelica before the driver’s meeting, as he had originally planned to do earlier.

Becoming restless with relaxing in the lounge, Lindsay heads out ready to check out everything that is going on around Daytona. She thought that she’d see the whole hustle and bustle in the garage area pre-race, or perhaps catch up with some of the girls that she had met well hanging with Dale in the motorcoach lot.

She had the chance to meet Sherry Pollex through the JRM connections previously, though found herself crossing paths with Katie Kenseth and Delana Harvick for the first time. She felt comfortable with meeting both girls as they both seemed real sweet and friendly, perhaps future friends down the road if she made it a habit of traveling with Dale to the races every week.

She certainly was enjoying herself at the track, but wasn’t sure whether she wanted to travel each week. She liked being at home and relaxing with Demi at their apartment together. She enjoyed going around town and checking out shops on the weekend with no real deadline of having to be somewhere especially with working through the week. Was she willing to push that aside to join him on the road permanently?

She wasn’t sure if she could truthfully answer that question. Sure, she enjoyed his company and he absolutely seemed like the best boyfriend ever. However, she wasn’t sure whether she wanted to drop the life she’d grown for herself yet to be with him. Perhaps it was her trust issue based on what happened before with Johnathan, or perhaps she was worried because of the incident with Heather.

“Thought you could hide away forever by moving to the south, huh?” Lindsay hears as she walks through the garage area, rolling her eyes as she recognizes the voice immediately. “That’s not a possibility, you know, when you go sleeping with NASCAR’s favourite driver.” Lindsay stops and turns to face Heather.

“Instead of standing around making threats and remarks, why don’t you do something about it?” Lindsay questions as she walks right up to Heather. “I’m not scared of you. I’ve never been afraid of you.”

“Then if you’re not scared, why haven’t you waltzed your ass home yet? Why’d you run away?”

“Perhaps I wanted a better life for myself that didn’t deal with being involved in father’s business. Perhaps I don’t give two flying fucks about what goes on there because that’s my scene or thing to do. I didn’t run away because of what happened. I ran away because I got sick of the games.”

“Sweetheart, you can’t change who you are.”

“No, you’re right – I can’t change who I am. However, I can put myself in the best position to have the life that I wanted.”

“And what happens when the pieces start to fall apart one by one?”

“I’m not letting that happen.” Lindsay then turns around and walks away, finished speaking to Heather about her thoughts on things.

********

“Are you going to win tonight?” Angelica asks as she and Dale sit together.

“I hope I can win tonight,” Dale answers as the little girl smiles.

“I think you can. I know you can.”

“Really?” She shakes her head yes. “Well I hope you’re right as I think I can, too.”

“Can I see you if you win?” Dale shakes his head yes as a bigger smile forms on her face.

“You just make sure you listen to Rick and Linda, okay?” She shakes her head yes.

“I always do. I’m a good girl.” Dale wraps an arm around her and pulls her close.

“I know you are. I’m proud of you. I love you.” He then kisses the top of her head.

“I love you too.” She then reaches up and gives him a kiss on the cheek. “Does Lindsay kiss too?” Dale laughs, though surprised by the question.

“Lindsay loves your daddy very much so sometimes she does kiss me.” Angelica makes a little face as she sits back on the couch, causing Dale to glance her way.

“I no want her to kiss daddy.” Dale then looks at her shocked.

“Why not? I thought you liked her. Do you like her, Angelica?” Angelica looks over and shakes her head yes. “Then why can’t she kiss your daddy? I like when she kisses me.”

“I no want to share daddy. I only want to kiss you. And daddy, she not like the other girl?” Dale rolls his eye as he remembers the one girlfriend that he introduced to Angelica. It was an understatement to say that it didn’t go well. “She love you? She always nice?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“Lindsay is really special to Daddy as I care a lot about her, just as much as I care about you.”

“Okay – maybe Lindsay can kiss you.”

“Maybe?” Angelica then lays her head on Dale’s arm.

“She can kiss you.”

“Thanks for the permission.”

“But daddy need to promise to always kiss me, too. Lindsay also need to promise to be nice.”

“Both your promises will be answered. I wouldn’t disappoint you.”

 

Chapter 29: Raceday

July 2007

Soon it was time for the pre-race festivities and following driver introductions, Dale joined Lindsay on pit road by his car.

“So, are you ready to kick ass tonight?” She questions as she wraps an arm around him.

“Well, according to my daughter, I’m supposed to be really good tonight and win,” he answers. “She also made me promise that you and I both would be nice to each other and never forget about being nice to her as well. If we break that promise, then we don’t get to kiss.” Lindsay looks at Dale surprised by that fact.

“So I guess I have to be nice to both you and Angelica to kiss those soft lips of yours?”

“That’s what she says.”

“For some reason, I don’t have a problem with that.” She then kisses his lips before slowly pulling back. “I still can’t believe how much you’ve opened me up and made me want to grow closer to you. I thought it wasn’t possible.”

“I told you that I’d show you the way and that I’d be patient. Nothing has changed.”

“Thank you.”

“No, thank you.” She then looks at him confused as he smiles. “You’ve done as much for me as I’ve done for you. Each time I’ve needed someone to be there to talk to you’ve been there. You’re my rock and I need you at times to help me through things. I can’t express how thankful I am for you.”

“Secret and all?”

“Secret and all. I take the whole package because I know it’s worth it each time that we’re together. I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She then kisses his lips once again before they stand together for the invocation and the national anthem. Following the anthem, she kisses his lips once again.

“I’ll see you in 400 miles. Don’t mind the crew guys. They shouldn’t give you any problems. I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She then walks away and heads to the pit box, climbing up and taking her seat.

**********

The race didn’t pan out how they would’ve hoped as Dale ended up getting caught up in a wreck early, spent many laps behind the wall for repairs and ended up riding around deep in the pack to try and salvage some points. Needless to say, there was no special win.

Post-race, Dale was answering questions for the media about his day while Lindsay stood back watching. She watched as crew chief Tony Eury Jr. came over while the team was packing up.

“So you have a secret, huh?” He questions as she looks over her shoulder surprised. “Yeah, I know your secret.” She lets out a sigh. She wonders if Dale had told his cousin – wanting to get some comfort and advice about the situation. Perhaps he wasn’t as comfortable with it as he made it out to be. “It definitely makes me curious of your intentions, Ms. McKenzie. I have to wonder whether you truly mean what you’ve told him, or whether it’s just a ploy.”

“I meant every word that I’ve told him in loving him,” Lindsay states as she keeps her eyes focused forward on Dale. “I truly love your cousin and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt him.”

“Of course, because you’re a perfect angel right? I mean, everybody should be able to trust you after all. Listen, I have my eye on you and I’m going to tell you this once and never again – hurt him and you’ll have to answer to me. And trust me, Leighanne, you’re not going to want to answer to me.” Tony Jr. then walks away as Lindsay lets out another long sigh.

With being spotted and Tony Jr.’s thoughts, she wondered whether this had been the right decision after all. Was she doing the right thing in being there with him? Or was this going to blow up in her face?

 

Chapter 30: Post-Race

July 2007

Once done the last interview, Dale walks over to where Lindsay is and wraps both arms around her.

“Are you done what you need to do?” She questions as she turns to face him.

“Absolutely,” he answers as she lets out a sigh.

“Can we go then? Things haven’t gone as planned.” He looks at her curiously, wondering whether the comment is in relation to the race or her life in general.

“I know the race didn’t go as plan-”

“I’m not talking about that.” He shakes his head understanding immediately. “I don’t want to run into Heather again right now with how I’m feeling. Also, it seems your cousin has an opinion on me already.” Dale glances towards Tony Jr. before turning his eyes back on Lindsay. “Did you tell him?” Dale shakes his head no immediately. “So he figured it out? When?”

“Friday he told me that he figured out who you were and warned me about watching my back.”

“And yet you didn’t tell me?” Dale lets out a sigh.

“I didn’t want you to worry about being recognized and other people’s thoughts. I was trying to help you have a great weekend.”

“Well perhaps you can tell certain people to keep their mouths shut with their opinions. I’m going to pack my stuff up. I’ll see you when you get back ready to go, okay?”

“Yeah, absolutely. I’ll probably go see Angelica if she’s still awake.”

“That’s fine. I just need to have some time.” Dale shakes his head understanding as he gives her a kiss before watching her walk off. He then takes a deep breath before walking into the hauler as he sees Tony Jr. packing some things up with the guys.

“So you want to tell me what you said to her?” Dale then leans back against the wall as he keeps his eyes on his cousin. “I thought I told you to stay out of my business. What part of that didn’t you understand?” Tony Jr. stops what he’s doing and turns his eyes to Dale.

“What part of I care about you don’t you understand?” Tony questions in return as Dale lets out a sigh.

“I know you care but I know what I’m doing,” Dale tells him as Tony crosses his arms.

“Are you sure about that?”

“Absolutely. There’s no question in my mind that she’s a great girl and she’s not trying to fool me over. That’s why I accepted it and moved forward. Now, I don’t care what you think. You can believe what I see or you can live in your own worried world. But for the record, keep your flap shut. Play nice with her or else I’m through with you. I don’t need this and she doesn’t need to hear it from you. Sorry about our luck today; see you at the shop on Monday sometime.” Dale then leaves the trailer as Tony Jr. watches him walk out.

“When she hurts you, don’t come running.” Tony Jr. then goes back to what he’s doing as Dale heads out.

He then walks down the stretch of haulers, predicting where Rick would probably be with Angelica. He knew that he couldn’t let himself play into Tony Jr.’s thoughts. He believed Lindsay. He believed everything that she had told him and the trust they had. He seen it with his own two eyes and felt it. There was something about her that he couldn’t describe and he was going to hold on to that no matter what. It didn’t matter to him what other people who didn’t know her thought.

After checking Kyle Busch’s hauler and Jimmie Johnson’s hauler, he walked down to Jeff Gordon’s hauler and up to the side.

“Hey Dale,” Gordon’s crew chief Steve LeTarte asks confused as he watches Dale walk over. “What’s up?”

“Is Rick and Angelica around?” Dale asks. “I was hoping to talk to Rick for a bit.”

“Rick actually left not that long ago to head home as Angelica was tired and cranky.” Dale shakes his head understanding. It was definitely a late night for her, no matter how much he wanted to see her.

“That’s not a problem. Thanks man. Nice job on the top-five finish. I’ll see you later.” Dale then walks away with his answer and begins the walk back to his motorcoach to catch up with Lindsay.

“You seem to always be looking for Rick lately,” he hears on the way and recognizes the voice.

“Well I have a lot to talk to him about with planning for next year and what I’m going through,” Dale lies, not wanting to say the truth. “I thought you’d understand that, Jeff.”

“No no, that can’t be it…..” Dale then turns around and faces Jeff.

“Then what is it? Why do you persist on bugging? Let’s just drop the discussion and act civil, okay? We do have to work together next year as teammates. I thought you’d be professional. I guess not.”

“I can be professional when I need to be. That doesn’t mean that I have to play nice all the time.”

“Well why don’t you run along right now and go see your girlfriend? I have other things to do.” Dale then heads off as Jeff stands there thinking. There had to be more to the story than what Dale had said.

If you’ve read “The Bruises”, you understand the tension between Jeff and Dale. I’m not going to go into hat majorly in this story as I’m going to focus on Lindsay and Dale’s love.

 

Second Chances – Chapters 21 Thru 25

Chapter 21: You Should Come

June 2007

With things going so well between Dale and Lindsay as they continued to grow closer – not super close yet as Lindsay hadn’t shared her deepest secret nor had they had sex together, yet. They had cuddled each other a night – about a week ago – and slept together that night. However, that’s as far as it went. Both had pajamas that night and Dale respected the imaginary boundaries.

So with everything going so well, there was only one other thing to do….

“You should come with me this weekend,” Dale suggests after the movie they were watching was over.

“You want me to come to Daytona with you?” Lindsay questions and Dale shakes his head yes. “I guess I could. I just don’t know about work and everything. I’d need to get Friday and Saturday off. I hav-”

“And who’s your boss? Where do you work? I can make sure that you have the time if you want to come with me.”

“I guess I could then. It’d be nice to come to watch a race at Daytona.” She then cuddles up with him as it seemed natural. If they were going to try this relationship, they had to try going to race tracks together and seeing how all that went.

“I’m glad that you accepted. We can spend some time together on the beach and you can see up close up how a race outside of Charlotte goes. Plus, I wouldn’t mind having you on pit road with me before the race.” She then looks at him cautiously.

“Oh really?”

“Absolutely. We’re in love and who cares if the world knows. Kelley knows. My mom knows. Rick knows. I love you and I want to have you there by my side right before the race so I can kiss your lips for good luck.” She then begins to feel a little scared at his words. Standing on pit road in front of cameras. Was she ready for that? “Or is that a problem?” She closes her eyes as she thinks it over.

The thought scared her. What if someone recognized her? What if they came down her way to find her? What if it brought froth issues? She has changed her identity so she couldn’t be tracked. This could ruin it. Dale could tell immediately when something wasn’t comfortable to her or was bugging her, and could see it simply in her eyes and reaction that this wasn’t something in her cards. He then pulls her close, holding her, cuddling her, comforting her.

“If you’re scared of it all, I promise that it’ll be fine,” he tells her. “I promise that there’s noth-”

“I can’t do it!” She lets out as she separates herself from him. Her own fear was driving her crazy in her mind right now. “I’m sorry but I can’t go with you.”

“Why not? What is so bad about going to Daytona and being with me? If the pit road thing is such an issue, we won’t worry about that.” She let out a small sigh at that suggestion, but still felt worry. What if they were caught somewhere else?

“No, I can’t do it regardless. I’m sorry but I’m not ready for that.” She then breaks away and heads for the door, scared that she’ll reveal her reason as to why. “I’ll talk to you later this week. I got to go.” She then puts her shoes on quickly as he make his way to the door. As she stands to face him, he places a hand lightly on her arm.

“Lindsay, what are you thinking about?”

“I got to-”

“Stop avoiding me and tell me the truth.” She then looks down as she pulls her arm back from his hand.

“I can’t do it.”

“What can’t you do? Us? Being at Daytona with me?” She takes a deep breath. She knew that she could come up with a false good reason.

“Being at Daytona with you. I’m not ready to handle being in front of people and being judged because I’m with you.” She then turns her eyes away, hoping that he bought what she was saying.

“I understand as we’re only a month into this relationship business.”

“Maybe, in a couple more months, I’ll be ready for it all and ready to open up fully with you. I’m sorry. I just can’t….”

“I understand as I know you’ve been through a lot with what happened to you before as you told me. Take your time. I’m just glad that you trust me mostly now.” She then smiles.

“I’m glad also as you’re a great guy.” He then pulls her into a hug and rubs her back, before lightly kissing her cheek.

“You’re an awesome girl as well. Can you stay tonight, please? I want a buddy for another movie and a cuddle buddy tonight.” She shakes her head yes as she slips off her shoes before heading up the stairs with him.

Her words still bugged him as being odd and not right. He knew there was plenty more to this story and even part of him wondered if keeping her around was a good idea. Were there too many secrets to equal a good relationship? Was she hiding something else that he should know about that would equal using him?

 

Chapter 22: Nightmare

June 2007

The rest of the night went smoothly and soon after they were both fallen asleep.

At some point in the middle of the night, Dale felt Lindsay stir a little next to him. He then opened his eyes when he felt her push against him, immediately letting go of her as a scream escaped her lips.

“Lindsay, wake up!” He yells, hoping the snap her out of bad dream that he assumes she’s in the middle of, tapping her shoulder. “Lindsay!”

“Let me go!” She yells in response, pushing against him once more as it forces him to move back away from her.

“Lindsay!” Lindsay’s eyes flash open immediately as she looks up at the ceiling, panting heavily. She stays frozen like that for a couple of seconds before looking over at him.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. It was just a bad dream –that’s all.” She then reaches out and grabs his hand, the urge to tell him everything feeling stronger as the comfort grows.

“I still feel bad.”

“Don’t worry about it.” She then cuddles back up close to him, wanting to feel his skin against hers as it gave her comfort and relaxation. She knew that she was safe in his arms, here in North Carolina – rather than back home where it all happened. He holds her in his arms, rubbing her back, wanting to give her the comfort that she needs and deserves. “Sometimes it helps to talk about what causes the nightmares. Sometimes it helps to make them disappear.” She shakes her head no before laying her head on his chest.

“I can’t do it, Dale. It hurts too much to tell you everything. I don’t want to go through the details. I don’t want to remember.”

“It obviously hurts enough that it isn’t letting you get closer to me like you want, or join me this weekend as you denied earlier tonight. I think it’s time that you speak up.” He then runs his hand through her hair, hoping that she’d finally open up so they didn’t have to play this game any longer.

“You don’t understand how much it hurts to be raped like I was. You don’t understand what I went through. You don-”

“I will never understand how much it hurt you. However, I can still be there to comfort you if you just let me in.”

“I fell in love with a boy. I thought he was everything to me.” He then continues to rub her back and run his hand through her hair repeatedly as she tells him how her and Johnathan fell in love. She tells him of the fun times that they spent together and how it was almost perfect.

“Then something happened, right? It wasn’t a fairy tale.” She shakes her head no.

“He asked me to meet him at the bridge in the wilderness one night. We were supposed to have that couples loving retreat together. Then his dad called and he had to run off. He left me with his brother – William – and told his brother to keep me company.”

“I’m guessing that the brother as company wasn’t a good idea?” She shakes her head no as she keeps her eyes focused forward, not wanting to look into his.

“I had my top off since Johnathan and I were going to…..well…..and I went to put it back on and he told me no. I finally won him over and I then sat beside him. We started talking and it quickly turned into an argument. Next thing he goes that he’d rather spend time with me over trying to find his brother and then….” Tears began to fall down her cheeks as Dale kept her held tightly close to him.

“You don’t need to tell me anymore.” She shakes her head yes as she sits up.

“Dale, I do need to tell you more so you understand where I’m coming from.”

“Only if you want to.” He then pulls her back close.
She then recounts the details of the chase through the woods, and how he pinned her down. She recalls how she escaped and ran off.

“He followed me though….” she continues. “I then did what I thought was necessary.”

“What was that?” Dale questions, curiously. She then looks at him.

“I killed him.”

“Really?” She shakes her head yes. “Well I know it’s not right to kill – but hey, the bitch deserved it. He never should’ve tried to rape you.” He then pulls her close. “Listen, that doesn’t change anything for how I feel about you even knowing what you did to him. So you’ve killed a man, but he deserved it. I’m not going to run away because I’m scared you’ll do the same to me. I know that I’ll treat you right and not give you a reason to do that.” She then looks into his eyes.

“That happened when I was 16. I went to jail because of it. I had to sit in prison and think about what I did. It made me feel awful.” He shakes his head in disbelief.

“I can’t believe that the judge didn’t understand your reasoning. I don’t know what to say – except I’m sorry you had to go through that. I really am. You didn’t deserve that.” He then wraps both arms around her and pulls her close as a couple tears trickle down her face.

“Thank you for understanding. Thank you for not chasing me away. I love you.” She then slowly sits up and takes a deep breath. She knew that with that on the table, she had to tell him the other half of the tale.

He had to know that she had changed her name. He had to know that she was a mob princess. He had to know all this to really understand why she was afraid of going to Daytona and being seen. Her fear was simply that she’d go out with him and be recognized, and then be found and it’d over. She didn’t want to take that chance.

“I have something else to tell you,” she starts off as he looks at her cautiously.

 

Chapter 23: Mob Princess

“What is it?” He questions, nervously. How could there be more to add to what she had told him already about what happened that night? He then reaches his hand out for hers wanting to add comfort as he could tell that she was nervous.

“The rape and my time in jail for killing William isn’t why I changed my name and moved down to North Carolina as I originally told you,” she reveals. She then looks back at him, still unsure whether she could continue or not. She knew that if they were ever going to move forward that she had to tell him everything. “There are bigger reasons as to why I changed my name.” Dale felt his nerves building as he wondered what he got into with trusting her originally and what could come out of her mouth in the next couple of minutes.

“Such as?” She then looks away again as the worry he feels continues to increase. What could be so bad that she changed her name?

“My real name is Leighanne Carter.” He then looks at her confused as her real name didn’t seem to ring any bells in his mind at all. “And I’m what you could call a Mob Princess.” His jaw drops as he thinks about all the possibilities that associated with that title. The idea of the word ‘Mob’ obviously wasn’t setting well with him.

“And what does that entail?” She then looks at him and knows that she can’t stop now with her reveal.

“My father is part of the Mob that basically runs the corrupt back streets of the town that I grew up in. My father is one of the top notch guys in that mob. I am known as ‘Mob Princess’ by my biological name because I am his daughter. As his daughter, I’m expected to follow suit with everything that he does in his business and do the same myself. I am expected to take my position and be part of the business making that happens as its family.” He then sits back surprised by her explanation as he definitely didn’t see it coming. However, while it may scare some, it didn’t make him want to run away. He knew there had to be a reason why she wasn’t with her father no longer, why she was barely talking to him and why she changed her name.

“I’m guessing that you didn’t like being part of that lifestyle?” She shakes her head yes.

“Precisely why when I had the chance to start my life over without that connection, I took it.” He shakes his head understanding.

“As weird as it seems, I’m going to say that I’m very accepting of your past and glad that you did what you had to do to escape it. Just like everything else you’ve told me, it doesn’t change how I feel about you. I still love you for who you are.” She looks at him surprised as she fully expected for him to chase her out of the room.

“Honestly?” He shakes his head yes. “Wow. I thought you’d want to chase me away.”

“No, I couldn’t do that. If I did that, I’d be too worried about something happening to you and trying to find you because my heart couldn’t stand to be away from you.” She then smiles as she leans in and kisses his lips lightly, her shoulders feeling much lighter.

“I knew you were special but I didn’t know you were this special.”

“I’m glad you took the chance to get to know me then. So, now that I’m accepting your past, can you join me in Daytona?” He feels her instantly freeze up in his arms.

“Dal-”

“What could possibly be stopping you now that I’ve accepted everything?” She then looks into his eyes knowing her answer without hesitation.

“What if someone from my past recognizes me? What if they recognize me on national television standing with you on pit road?” She then backs away slightly. “They’ll know where I am and who I am with. Those who want to come after me for what I did then will find me. They will make sure that they hurt me for what I did. They will also take no prisoners in that approach…” She then takes a careful deep breath. “….and I’m not taking that chance with you. If something happened to you, I don’t know what I’d do.”

“Let them know where you are and if they come, trust me, they won’t touch either of us.”

“How do you know?”

“Top notch security around me at all times. They try anything and nothing will come of it. I need you there with me, Lindsay. I need someone there with me that can support me and help me through the rough weekends. This isn’t getting easier this year and it won’t be easy till we get to next year. I need my rock. Please trust me. I swear that I’ll keep you safe and not let any of them touch you.” She takes a deep breath. She knew that it was a chance if she went, but she also understood his feelings. With how much she had grown to love him, she knew that she had to find her way to the track with him.

“Fine. I’ll come with you.”

“Really?” She shakes her head yes as she kisses his lips.

“Of course. I need to work on my tan after all.” He then laughs as they both lay back down and cuddle.

 

Chapter 24: Daytona

July 2007

Lindsay walks through the pits with Dale, total smile on her face as she takes in the scenery. She couldn’t get over how busy the garage was – like orchestrated chaos.

“This is insane,” she comments as she looks at each row of teams working to get ready for practice.

“You’ll get used to it,” he replies as he leads her to his hauler. He then leads her up and inside the hauler. Immediately, Tony Jr. looks over with a smirk on his face.

“I knew she was something special that night,” Tony Jr. comments as Dale rolls his eyes.

“It doesn’t mean that you had to intrude and be a pest about it. Officially, though, Tony meet Lindsay and Lindsay meet Tony.” Tony Jr. shakes her hand with a smile.

“Pleased to meet you.” He then looks over at Dale. “Can I talk to you – in private?” Dale shakes his head yes. He then turns to Lindsay.

“You can hang out in here without any problems. If the crew guys give ya hell, tell ‘em your with me and if they keep it up, I’ll take care of them.” She shakes her head as she watches Dale and Tony walk off to the lounge part in the back of the trailer. Tony opens the door and the pair go inside before the door closes behind them.

“So you haven’t put two and two together huh?” Dale looks at him confused as Tony opens up his laptop. “Perhaps you haven’t seen this story previously.” Dale looks over Tony’s shoulder and immediately recognizes it, per what Lindsay told him.

“I know the whole story – the truth – as she told me straight out. She killed him because he was trying to rape her and she didn’t want any part of it.” Tony then looks back at his cousin.

“And did she also tell you that she’s a freaking daughter of a Mob Father?” Dale shakes his head yes. “And you’re still with her? Are you insane? Do you realize what you’re getting your ass into?”

“Absolutely as she told me that she changed her name and ran away from home because she didn’t want to be involved in all that shit. We’ve talked about it and she’s told me everything so I don’t need to hear it from you.”

“Are you sure that she’s not just playing you?”

“Absolutely. I trust every word out of that girl’s mouth because I was there with her when she said it and I’ve been there trying to crack her little shell for the past year.”

“Well if she does hurt you, don’t say that I didn’t warn you.”

“I don’t need a warning. Now is the car ready or do you want to talk about that beforehand?”

“It’s ready to go for first practice.”

“Thank you. Stay out of my personal life as I know what I’m doing.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Kiss my ass.” Dale then walks out of the lounge area and slams the door shut behind him, causing a look from each of the crew members and Lindsay. “Get back to work.” All the crew members listen as Dale makes his way over to Lindsay and wraps both arms around her.

“Are you okay?” She asks and he shakes his head yes kissing her lips.

“Just dealing with Tony – that’s all,” he answers as she keeps him held close.

“Patience by both of you would help.”

“Yeah…and staying out of my business.”

“Come again?”

“Nevermind. Come on. Let’s go watch some Nationwide practice.” She then follows him out of the trailer as he leads her up top to watch practice.

He knew that if Tony could find a correlation on the internet that other people would be to without a doubt. He felt the need to warn Lindsay so that way they were both on the same page. However, at the same time, he didn’t want to scare her off in the first day at the track.

He hears his phone going off and takes it out of his pocket.

“Hello?” He answers.

“Hey – it’s Rick,” he hears and smiles. “Angelica is here this weekend.” Dale then looks over at Lindsay as he thinks things through. He hadn’t mentioned a word yet to her, but knew that he wanted her to meet his daughter and let her inside his world after she confessed everything to him.

“That’s great. We both know how much she loves Daytona. Tell her that I’ll definitely be by to see her later. Perhaps maybe dinner tonight together.”

“Absolutely. She’ll love that. By the way, Linda wants to meet the pretty red head.” Dale smiles as he looks over at Lindsay.

“I’m sure we arrange for that. I’ll be sure to introduce her to you both.”

“I look forward to it. Stay safe. Have fun. Keep in contact. Bye Dale.”

“Bye Rick.” Dale hangs up as Lindsay looks back curious.

“Dinner?” She questions. “Introducing?” Dale smiles as he wraps both arms around her and pulls her close.

“You’ve been spotted with me and my future car owner’s wife wants to meet you,” he informs her. “If you’re up for it, I was thinking dinner with us all together.”

“That sounds fine by me. Linda and Rick seem like nice people.”

“You’ll love them.”

 

Chapter 25: Post-Practice

July 2007

Lindsay stood up atop the trailer with the team and watched practice, very pleased at what she saw. She didn’t know whether it was good or bad truthfully – but he looked strong in the draft. She sat back afterwards as he debriefed with the team, not wanting to interfere. Once everybody was done discussing, she watched them all leave, leaving just her and Dale.

He then moved from his spot on the other couch to directly beside her on the couch she was sitting on, cuddling up close. He kisses her lips lightly as she smiles.

“So, are you enjoying yourself so far?” Dale questions and she shakes her head yes.

“I had a great time watching you out there,” she answers. “Car feel good?” Dale shakes his head yes as he sits back. “So we may be celebrating by tomorrow night’s end?”

“It all depends if I can avoid the big one and keep myself up front at the end.” He then takes a mouthful of his Gatorade, knowing that he has to get to the details that she has to know before that night’s dinner before, well, that night’s dinner.

“I think you can do it. I believe in you.” He looks over with a smile.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence. We’ll just see what happens.”

“First, I want to see you qualify that awesome red Bud car on the pole. What do you say? Is that possible?” He shrugs his shoulders.

“If the speed is there, yes.” She then kisses his lips once again, catching him off-guard a little.

“You seem to want to kiss my lips in between each word. Is there something that I should know?” She shakes her head no as he laughs. “It’s okay. You can admit that I’m charming. There’s a bunch of girls outside that will confirm that.” She then laughs as she saw those girls earlier screaming his name.

“Yea…so I saw that. Do they always act like that?” Dale shakes his head yes. “Does it get annoying?”

“Sometimes, but it’s the nature of having some of the craziest and best fans ever.”

“So how do you deal with it?”

“I sign some autographs when I’m out there and take some photos and thank them for their support. Beyond that, there’s not much to it.” She shakes her understanding. “So are you still okay with dinner tonight with Rick and Linda?” She shakes her head yes.

“Absolutely.”

“Great. You’ve met Rick and you loved him so you’ll defiantly love Linda as she’s real sweet.”

“I’m looking forward to it. It should be a great dinner.”

“Oh yeah, great dinner is not the only phrase to use.” She then looks at him confused.

“What do you mean?” Dale takes a deep breath as he debates how to tell her.

“I have a daughter named Angelica from a previous relationship and she’s currently living with Rick and Linda. She will be at dinner tonight.” Lindsay looks at him shocked.

“Does she know that you’re her dad?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“That’s why I’m always spending time over at Rick’s as it’s not just business that we’re discussing.” She shakes her head understanding.

“That makes sense. So why is she living with them and not you?”

“It’s sort of complic-”

“Explain!” He then looks at her surprised.

“Well, okay then. Amber is her mother’s name by the way. We were dating during my Busch Series days and she got pregnant. We broke up before she told me. She came to me a couple weeks later and I just ignored it, thinking that she was playing me. I couldn’t deny it when a baby showed her seven months later, though.”

“So what’d you do when the baby showed up seven months later? Did you accept it?” Dale shakes his head no.

“I didn’t want to be a father at that time as I was the young happy go lucky bachelor who just wanted to have fun partying with his friends and racing his heart out.” She then looks at real surprised now.

“I could seriously slap you right now. I can’t believe that you would do that.” She then stands up and looks back at him. “Really?” Dale shakes his head yes. “So when did you decide that you wanted a part in her life?”

“Around her fifth birthday, actually, which would be three years ago. I had been paying the child support payments without hesitation – but I didn’t tell anybody. I then called Amber about mid-2004 and decided that I wanted to have a part. So we started seeing each other a couple times a month and I got to know my sweet daughter.” Lindsay then sits back down on the couch as she tries to process this ‘mess’ as she’d like to put it. “When she turned six, Amber dropped her on my doorsteps and told that she didn’t want anymore to do with her. Not wanting to have anybody figure it out what happened, I went to Rick for advice.”

“And in return, he adopted her?” Dale shakes his head yes. “So does anybody in your family know?” Dale shakes his head no as Lindsay looks at him shocked.

“I’ve thought about telling them, but Amber came back into the picture. She’s trying to make me send her a certain amount of money each month and all this other bullshit. I’m currently in conversation with my lawyers about how to handle her and shut her trap up. Once I’m done dealing with her, I plan to come clean about it to everybody who needs to know and let her come live with me.” He then looks over at Lindsay, seeing a confused surprised expression on her face. “Please understand. I screwed up – I know – and I’m trying to fix my mistakes. That’s why I was so understanding about you. You made some mistakes and you’re taking your second chance at making things right. I made a mistake at first when it came to dating Amber and then neglecting my own kid. However, I’m taking the second chance that I have to have a connection with Angelica and be her father. I’m doing what it takes.”

“I wanted to slap you at first, honestly. However, hearing you out and that little explanation, I can’t bitch about it.” He then smiles.

“So are you okay with meeting her tonight?” Lindsay shakes her head yes.

“If she’s anything like her daddy, I bet she’s awesome.”

“I may be bias, but I think you’ll love her.” Lindsay then sits back closer to him.

“I bet I will.” She then kisses his lips, wrapping both arms around him to keep him held close.

Second Chances – Chapter 16 Thru 20

Chapter 16: Post-Kiss

April 2007

He then pulls back slowly from her lips with a small smile on her face as she looks at him with total shock.

“I know you’ve had feelings since the beginning,” he starts in a whisper as he keeps close to her. “It’s time you let them show. You accepted the kiss without hesitation. What’s going on in your mind?” He then lets her slowly go as he wonders what lies beneath her eyes.

“I….I got to go,” she lets out as she turns her back to him.

“Lindsay….” He then puts a hand on her shoulder, causing her to freeze. She wanted to so badly just drop the barrier and cave in to him; however she couldn’t find the strength to do it. “Tell me why.”

“I can’t. I can’t tell you why.” He then rubs her shoulder lightly, sensing a bit of fear in her voice. Was there more to why she ran away from her home? Did it go beyond her parents?

“Are you scared?” She looks back at him, fear written in her eyes as she slowly shakes her head yes.

“Yeah. I was scared the moment we woke up that morning. I was scared the moment I looked into your eyes. I was scared the whole time. I can’t help it.” He then pulls her close into a comforting hug, not wanting her fear to chase her away. He had to find a way to make her stay. He couldn’t let her leave. “You don’t understand how afraid I am. You don’t know…”

“Try me. Tell me why you’re afraid.” She bit her lip, not wanting to reveal the details. She was scared of what his reaction would be, even more scared to recount the details herself.

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t want to go back down that road. I don’t want to think about it.” Dale rubs her back as the pieces slowly begin to add up in his mind.

“Is that why you ran away from home? Did it do with something else besides your relationship with your father?” He then looks down into her eyes as he waits for an answer. “For what it’s worth, I promise to never ever hurt you. I would never do that to you. When I love someone as much as I love you, I could never see myself hurting that person or making them suffer. You may not know me that well, but please hold on to that promise.”

She shakes her head understanding, truly believing his words without a shadow of a doubt. She knew that she could trust him simply by how they had acted around each other to date. It was something strange that she couldn’t describe, but stronger than her past.

“I believe you.”

“Okay.” He then kisses the top of her forehead as she keeps her eyes focused on his.

“Maybe when I’m ready, we can try everything that you want with me.”

“We can work together to help you get to that point. I’m just glad that you understand.” He then lets her go as he tries to think of what to do next. He didn’t want her to go home, but he also didn’t want to pressure her further. “Whenever you want to talk about your feelings, your past, feel free to call me. I’m here for you.”

“I’ll remember that. Same goes for you. I actually got to go as I have to be up early tomorrow. Perhaps we could do this again?”

“Absolutely.” He then gives her one more hug before walking to the door. “Thanks for coming.”

“You’re welcome.” He leads her out to her car and watches her drive away, before returning inside satisfied. It wasn’t what he truly wanted, but he was closer to his goal.

He then heads to the kitchen and sits back as he grabs the phone, dialing a number he had memorized clearly.

“Hello?” He hears at the other end as he takes a deep breath. By her advice, he was ready to take his next big step in regards to accepting the offer that laid on the table with regards to his future.

“Hey Rick,” he starts. “It’s Dale. Listen, can we meet up tomorrow? I want to talk to you about the offer. I think I’m ready to accept it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. No questions.”

“Alright. Come see me and we’ll work out a plan as to how to slowly reveal this to the world without getting caught. There’s someone else who wants to see you, by the way.” Dale smiles as he knows exactly who Rick means.

“I can’t wait to see her also. Perhaps tomorrow you can let her that it’ll be me and her day. Gosh, I can’t believe how big she is already, Rick. It seems just yesterday Amber was saying that she was pregnant. I can’t believe she’s already seven.”

“They grow up fast, Dale. She’ll be a teenager before you know it. Have you told Kelley yet? Or anybody?” Dale bites his tongue as he thinks it over. He had meant to tell someone but just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

“I can’t do it, Rick. I can’t tell them yet. I don’t even know how to tell them. Plus, there’s other issues. Things are still messy with Amber in trying to sort out her end of the deal. Once I get Amber sorted out and other issues, then I swear I’ll do it.”

“I understand.”

“Do you really? Or are you putting me in a box? Tell me the truth, Rick.”

“I truthfully understand. You don’t have to tell till you’re ready. I told you that when we agreed to do this. I’m just glad that she’s in your life. If you had totally let her go, you would’ve regretted it. Just remember that it can’t remain a secret forever.” Dale shakes his head, understanding.

“I know. I promise I’ll tell them as soon as things wrap up with Amber and we’re straightened out for next year. I’m glad that you agreed. I can’t thank you and Linda enough. I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye Rick.”

“Bye Dale.” Dale then hangs up and sits back. There was more of a mess to sort out than he thought.

 

Chapter 17: Angelica

April 2007

Dale knocks on the door at Rick’s house and immediately smiles as he sees the door open, seeing his favourite eight year old standing before him.

“Daddy!” Angelica lets out as she steps forward and wraps her arms around him. “Rick said you’d come. Yay!”

“I can never miss seeing my little angel,” Dale tells her as he kisses the top of her head.

“We gonna play today?” Dale shakes his head yes as he makes his way inside the house. “Yay! I got a new game.”

“Oh really? Well then I guess you’ll have to show it to me.” Dale then takes his sweater off, along with his shoes as he follows Angelica through the house to the kitchen.

“Hey Dale,” he hears and smiles as Linda stands there finishing up Angelica’s afterschool snack.

“Hey Linda,” he replies as he walks over and gives her a hug.

“Daddy came to play,” Angelica tells Linda as Linda smiles. Linda knew that Dale was going to be coming over so it didn’t mark a surprise that he had shown up. “I gonna show him the new game. Do you want to play?” Linda shakes her head no.

“I’m sure you and daddy can play ‘Hungry Hungry Hippos’ by yourselves,” Linda tells her as she hands her the plate with cheese and crackers.

“Okay! Thank you for crackers and cheese.”

“You’re welcome sweetheart.” Angelica then puts a piece of cheese with a cracker and holds it out to Dale.

“Snack?”

“No, thank you,” Dale replies as he just looks at her smiling. Who knew she’d grow up to be such an amazing girl.

“Okay,” Angelica replies. “I eat it then.”

“Okay then.”

“Did you tell daddy about your school field trip?” Linda questions as Angelica’s eyes light up. “They went to the zoo a couple days ago. They got to see the lions and the monkeys.”

“What was your favourite animal?” Dale questions as Angelica smiles.

“The big lion!” Angelica tells him.

“I think they’re pretty cool, as well.”

“She’s been doing good in school though,” Linda continues. “She does all her homework every night.”

“That’s a good girl,” Dale comments as Angelica smiles. “But I shouldn’t be surprised. We both know you’re well behaved.”

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

Later that night while Angelica was getting her bath, Dale and Rick sat down in the living room. They had planned out everything with regards to how to announce details surrounding the following season. He’d announce he was leaving Dale Earnhardt Incorporated next month, followed by his announcement about Hendrick Motorsports in June.

“So what loose ends do you have to tie up with Amber?” Rick questions as Dale rolls his eyes. He didn’t want to talk about Amber and his past with her as the only good thing to come out of that was Angelica.

“Just getting her off my back – to be honest,” Dale answers as Rick looks at him curiously.

“Talk to me. What has she been up to?”

“She’s threatened to take the story public that I got her pregnant and totally abandoned her and Angelica. She’s also threatened to add to that how I continue to be irresponsible and have put sole responsibility for her being raised on your shoulders. To keep her shut, she wants me to agree to pay her financial compensation as she calls it for the next so many years at some ridiculous amount for having to take care of Angelica by herself for six years. Meanwhile, she didn’t as even if I didn’t really care at first – let’s admit the truth that I did give my share of money to take care of her. Actually, more than she needed honestly.”

“And this all because raising Angelica supposedly cost her the chance to become the good little dancer that she wanted to be?” Dale shakes his head yes. “Unbelievable.”

“So I’m trying to sort things out with her and make it to where I don’t have to deal with her in the future – but that’s taking longer than expected with the legal side of things. By the way, don’t mention it to Kelley or my mom because I’m taking care of that without filling them in.”

“I told you on day one that I wouldn’t mention anything about Angelica or Amber to them unless you requested. I won’t back down on that promise. However, we can’t do this forever, Dale. We need to sort things out so that way you can both be together 24/7. I don’t know what it’s going to take – but you got to do it. She needs you. You’re her father.” Dale shakes his head understanding as he had told himself those very same words many times himself.

“I know, Rick. As soon as I take care of Amber, I’m ready to spill what happened to my mom and Kelley and then let her move in. I can’t wait till that day, really. I know I get to see her a lot this way, but it’s not the same as being around her all the time like I want.” Dale then sits back and lets out a sigh. “Am I really saying this?”

“It’s hard to believe considering what you said when Amber told you she was pregnant, huh?” Dale shakes his head yes. “You’ve matured a lot.”

“What can you say? I realized that I couldn’t be living the single, crazy bachelor life for the rest of my life. Speaking of which, can I ask you something?”

“Should I be worried?” Dale laughs and shakes his head no. “Go on.”

“I love this girl. I love her a lot. I really want to be with her in a relationship. It started out as friends but I want to go deeper. However, she’s afraid. Something about her words to me says that she’s been heartbroken before – possibly painfully as she seems to have moved down here to North Carolina to run away from something. I want to get through to her and show her that I care and can help her. What do I do?” Rick sits back.

“You’ve just got to be there for her, each day, and show her more and more how much you care. Don’t overstep the boundaries and don’t push her past her limits. Work within her limit and try to show her that you care. If she truly loves you like you say you love her, she’ll start to open up and tell you why she’s afraid and accept your love. It’ll take patience, though. Don’t expect it to happen overnight.”

Dale shakes his head understanding. No doubt Rick was right as he couldn’t try to push it on her without her permission. He knew that he could handle the waiting game, though, as when it came to Lindsay, he’d wait as long as needed.

 

Chapter 18: Waiting

May 2007

Knowing that Rick’s advice was probably the soundest advice that he heard, he accepted it and followed it to a key. He spent time with Lindsay throughout the weeks that followed, being friends as they always were. Though it became more – slowly – as they were becoming close friends. Dale felt the walls slowly falling down between them and wondered when they would truly open up.

A couple days following the announcement that he would leave DEI, things were hectic as expected. Everybody was making their comments and questions surrounded everybody within the walls. No doubt it built a pressure of its own making on Dale’s shoulders. If you add in the lack of on-track success as of late, it certainly had taken its toll on him.

So it was no surprise in Lindsay’s eyes when she found him spending a late night at DEI, by himself, thinking. She had stopped in to grab something that she needed to take in with her tomorrow, and noticed him.

“Are you okay?” She asks, snapping him out of his thoughts as he glances over at her. He shakes his head yes as he lets out a sigh, continuing to look over the part of the museum section he currently stood in. “There seems to be a lot on your mind.”

“More than you’ll probably understand,” he says quietly as he glances over her way.

“Try me.”

“I keep questioning myself. Am I doing the right thing? Is leaving here the right move for my career? Everybody has their thought sand certainly you’ve probably heard them by now. I don’t try to let that bug me, but it does. Do you realize how many people think I’m ass right now for leaving the family team? Then do you realize those who think it’s a positive but make it look just don’t right ugly?”

“You can’t let their thoughts bug you and interfere with what you’re thinking. If you believe this is the right move for you than that’s all that should matter.” She then sets the box she has in her hands down and walks over to where he is. “Are you confident in the fact that you’re doing the right thing?”

“I think it’s the right thing – but I won’t know till next year and how it pans out.”

“But it has to feel good for other reasons, as you discussed. I mean, we both know things are awkward as hell with you and Teresa. I think if you feel confident personally than it’s a great move.” He then looks over at her with a small smile on his face.

“You really think so?” She shakes her head yes.

“Absolutely. I think next year with He-” He then pushes his lips against hers, kissing them before pulling back.

“Don’t mention,” he then starts in a whisper. “There’s cameras. That lands on a camera and they’ll be a story published immediately. Sorry for making you uncomfortable if you didn’t like the kiss. I had to what I had to do.”

“I understand and I didn’t mind the kiss at all,” she tells him confidently as he looks at her surprised. “I’m afraid of falling in love. I’m afraid of going into a serious relationship. However, I’m not afraid of being this close to you.”

“So you trust me?” She shakes her head yes.

“I know that you won’t hurt me. You told me that and I believed you 100% just by the look in your eyes and how much you care.” He then brushes her red hair out of her face as he looks into her eyes.

“Then why can’t you simply just fall in love with me?” She then shudders away as she feels herself clamming up again. She wanted to tell him something, help him understand, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t dare tell him anything that happened that night in the woods.

“I can’t tell you.”

“You’re scared. Why are you scared? What is stopping you?”

“I….I need to go.” She then stands up and walks back to where she sat the box down as he stands up.

“You can’t avoid this forever as we both know that you’re falling for me, whether you want to admit it or not.”

“You don’t understand, Dale.” He then walks over to her and places a hand on her shoulder as she bends down to pick up the box.

“Try me.”

“Dale, I can’t talk about it.” She then looks back at him, hurt written easily in her eyes as she feels herself breaking down and wanting to seek out someone to talk about it with. She hadn’t talked about it since leaving jail and it bugged her. There was no denying that there were some broken pieces there. “It hurts too much to talk about.”

“Sometimes you need to let the pain go and let it out to feel better.”

“I can’t…” She then picks the box up, ready to head out.

“Lindsay, please let me in and let me help you.”

“You don’t….” Her eyes start to get wet and voice starts to crack a little at the end of the short two words as the box slips out of her hand and the papers spread across the floor.

“Lindsay…..” She then bends down and starts to pick up the papers, trying to hide her wet eyes from him. He then goes over and starts to help her pick them up, placing them in the box. As he places the final piece of paper in the box, he takes a glance at her. He could tell she was shaken up. “Let me drive you home.” He then picks up the box and carries it outside as she follows quietly. He then locks the doors and they head towards his car.

“Camaro….damn, that’s a sexy car.” Her shoulders then drop, though, as she thinks back to things as they both climb in, box in the backseat. “You don’t have to drive me home.” She then goes to let herself out when he grabs her arm.

“You’re too upset to drive yourself home. I wouldn’t want to be responsible of something happened to you.” She keeps her eyes focused away from him as he reaches to brush the hair out of her face again. He wanted to help her but was losing touch on just how to.

“Let…me…go…”

“Let me drive you home then.” He then lets go of her arm as she relaxes. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault. It’s my fault because I trusted that son of a bitch.” Dale then looks at her curiously.

“Who?” She then looks back down as tears start to come to her eyes, flashes of memory clouding her vision. “Lindsay…”

“I trusted hi-”

“Who?” There is then an awkward silence between them, only followed by the sniffles on Lindsay’s part as Dale hands her a Kleenex. “Someone hurt you, am I right?” She shakes her head yes slowly.

“I trusted him and he took advantage of me.”

“Lindsay, are you saying that you were raped?” She looks away and immediately it hits Dale as he sits back, now real unsure of what to do. He wants to give her comfort and cuddle, but scared to do so as he didn’t want her to freak out again. He wanted to find out the details and chase after the brat, but he didn’t want to push her too much. “Lindsay….”

“It happened when I was 14. I spent years dealing with it, through psychological help and other crap, but couldn’t bother to stay in that town anymore around those people so I ran my ass out of there.” She didn’t want to tell him that she had killed the guy. She didn’t even want to speak about details. She figured telling him that would be a good cover, something that she could use so he understood but didn’t question more.

“Lindsay, I’m so sorry. I totally didn’t know anything about it and I’m sorry I’ve kept pushing you to open up to me more.”

“It’s not your fault as you didn’t know. That’s why I’m scared of falling in love because I’m scared that I’m going to be hurt again.” She then looks over at him. “I want to trust you and I know somewhere inside of me that you won’t hurt me, but it’s not easy to do.”

“I understand.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. I’m sorry that I’ve kept chasing you away. I hate not being truthfully open with you.” He then reaches out for her hand and slowly wraps his fingers around it, testing the boundaries. She easily allows.

“It’s okay. I understand. You don’t need to be apologizing. Nobody should have to go through that. I swear that I will never hurt you and make sure you’re never hurt like that again. Let’s work through this together. Slowly but surely we’ll build it to that relationship that we both want – but only when you’re ready.” She looks at him, shaking her head as her smile grows.

“I’d like that because the more I get to know you, the harder it is to resist you.” She then leans over and slowly kisses his lips. “Thank you…..Thank you for everything…”

“No, thank you for being here for me when I need someone to talk to. It seems whenever I’m in a rut and got something on the mind, you somehow show up and help me.”

“Like I said, I was attracted to you. That sweet southern gentleman side of you drew me in right at the party.” He then smiles.

“Checkmate! I knew it!” She laughs as she sits back in her seat, shaking her head.

“And oh, by the way, I still don’t hold that night against you.”

“Neither do I. What do you say we go back to my place and have some dinner?”

“Just like always.” They then pull out and head back to his place.

There were certainly more questions on his mind to ask and more things that she wanted to tell him – without of course saying the number one thing that she killed the guy. However, how would they both go about accomplishing these goals when they were both afraid?

 

Chapter 19: Dinner

May 2007

After a short drive back to Dale’s house, the pair spent some time playing video games and joking around as Dale hated the fact that Lindsay was sad and wanted to cheer her up.

After smiles appeared on both their faces, they made a frozen pizza and now sat at the table, enjoying pieces and chatting as normal. Dale didn’t want to bring up what she had told him only hours prior as he liked the happiness that they found. However, he also had this part of him that kept saying that he should bring it up because of how much he cared for her.

“I just wanted to let you know that if you ever want to talk about your feelings, I’m here,” he blurbs it out as he picks up a second piece.

“Thank you as I appreciate that,” she replies as she continues to eat her piece.

“You seem to be the person for me when it comes to something on my mind so I want to make sure that you understand it goes both ways.” She shakes her head understanding as a slight smile formed on her face.

It was officially coming up on a year that she had moved down there and she was happy. She had some great friends and now truly found someone that she could turn to no matter what. It gave her some comfort, especially with the feelings that were on my mind sometimes. There were times that she’d feel sadness or frustration, but yet had nowhere to vent – till now.

Dale hears the phone ring and excuses himself from the table as he goes and picks it up.

“Hello?” He says.

“Why hello Dale,” he hears on the other end and rolls his eyes immediately.

“Hello to you too, Amber. What the hell do you want?”

“You know what I want, Dale. Why haven’t we signed the agreement? I thought I made it clear what I wanted. Didn’t we agree on that?” Dale rolls his eyes as he leans against the wall.

“No, we didn’t – as I’ve told you multiple times. I don’t know if you’ve checked your mail, but there’s a letter there for you. I suggest you read it before calling me again. Now excuse me but I have to go.”

“I read that letter and that letter can kiss my ass. As far as I’m concerned, that gives me more reason to burst your little happy bubble. I don’t think you want that with whatever else is going on, now do? Isn’t your world a little twisted right now?”

“Kiss my ass.” Dale then takes a deep breath as he thinks it over. “Listen, we’re supposed to have no contact via the letter. The letter states my legal intentions with you. If you dare mention Angelica to the public, you’re breaking that and you’ll be fucked.”

“No see, it’ll be the other way around. Sure, I’ll spend some time with the legal system. However, you’ll be explaining your lovely life to the media. You’ll also have your fans making comments about you as a parent. Do you really need that?” Dale lets out a sigh.

“Sometimes I wish you would fall off a cliff. Check your bank account tomorrow. I promise to leave you something for your troubles.”

“That’s what I thought. It was nice doing business with you, Dale. Sometimes I wish things would’ve worked out. But then I realize how I have you wrapped around my finger anyway. See ya darling.” He then hears the dial tone as he lets out a frustrated sigh, hanging up the phone.

He then returns to the dining room and takes his seat back at the table as he looks over at Lindsay with a smile.

“Sorry about that,” he says as he picks up his piece again.

“It’s okay,” she replies.

“Sometimes I just want to unplug the phone and chase everything away. It seems if it’s not one thing, it’s another.” She shakes her head as she remembers being in that scenario through her childhood.

“I understand what you’re saying. It never seems that the hill you’re trying to climb will get smaller.” He shakes his head yes, finding an understanding. She didn’t know what was going on with Amber and Angelica – he wanted to keep it that way for now – but there was an understanding of fighting battles. “I thought escaping it all would make it go away and I could have that perfect reset to my life. However, in the same breath, it hasn’t because here I am sitting here with fear over my head.”

“You can’t run from your fears. Your fears always catch up with you no matter how much you try to hide from them.”

“Oh trust me, I’ve learned that one now.” He then places his hand on her hand.

“But don’t worry – we’ll work through it, together. Fear can be overcome as it just takes patience and working up the strength to do it. I believe that one day we’ll look back on this and think about how weird it was to say the words ‘I’m afraid to love you’.” He then kisses her hand lightly before standing up. “What do you say we screw the pizza and go for desert?”

“What’s desert?”

“The one thing that can put a smile on anyone’s face – chocolate cake. Are you coming?” She then stands up immediately and follows him out to the kitchen. “I guess I didn’t need to ask.”

 

Chapter 20: Post-Race Charlotte

May 2007

The announcement was followed by the Coca Cola 600, in which resulted in a solid performance with Dale finishing the race in the eighth spot. Climbing out of the car afterwards, he gives crew chief Tony Eury Jr. a high-five before doing a quick couple of interviews.

As he finishes up the interviews, Lindsay makes her way over and gives him a hug once the last interview is done.

“Nice job tonight,” she tells him as Tony Eury Jr. looks on intrigued. He watches Lindsay give Dale a quick kiss on the cheek. “Perhaps next week you can get that win. I believe in you. You’re a talented little shoe.”

“You just want more chocolate cake right?” Dale questions, causing Tony Jr. to raise his eyebrows as Lindsay laughs.

“Cake after dinner is a nice touch, by the way.”

“And just like that I know the way to your heart. Are we meeting up again this week?”

“I’d like that. I think we had a great conversation this week.”

“I think we did also. Perhaps there’s a way for me to find a spot in your heart after all.”

“Oh don’t worry – you always have had a spot in my heart; it’s just taken me time to realize it.”

“That’s what I like to hear.” He then kisses her lips lightly. “Dinner tomorrow night?” She shakes her head yes as she walks away. Dale then leans against the car and smiles.

“Are you going to tell me who that is cuz?” Tony questions as he leans against the car with Dale. “Or do I want to know who that is?”

“You don’t need to know the details, Tony,” Dale starts. “She’s just a friend.”

“Just a friend? Sharing chocolate cake and dinner with just a friend? I feel like I am in an alternate universe. That’s not your fortay.” Dale then looks over at Tony confused.

“Fortay? Now I feel like I am in that alternate universe. And by the way, I can be friends with girls and not sleep with them. It’s not just about the sleeping, Tony.” Dale then walks away and heads down the pits, sharing a couple quick conversations along the way.

He makes his way down to Jeff Gordon’s pit and smiles as he sees Jeff talking with his team about their night.

“Rick around?” Dale asks as Jeff looks over with a smile.

“He’s in the trailer,” Jeff answers as Dale smiles. “Angel-”

“You don’t need to tell me anymore, Gordon. I think I know that she is with him.”

“Yeah yeah whatever.” Jeff then walks away as Dale heads towards the trailer.

The pair of them used to be real close friends and got along almost perfectly. However, things changed over time with the influence of a couple others and now things were not like that at all. The pair barely talked and if they did, it wasn’t great conversation. That was something that rang through Dale’s mind when he agreed to accept Rick’s proposal. Could he and Jeff work together despite their ill-feelings for each other?

Dale smiles as he makes his way to the back of the trailer, seeing Angelica sitting with Rick.

“She was about to fall asleep near the end of that race,” Rick starts. “But with the promise that you’d come see her before you headed home, she told me that sleep wasn’t an option.” Dale then smiles as he sits beside her.

“If you’re tired, you can head home with Rick and go to sleep since I promised to come see you this Wednesday,” Dale tells her as she smiles. “Did you have a good time tonight?” She shakes her head yes. “You always have a good time at the track.”

“She’s even said that she wants to race like her daddy, too. She said that it’d be fun to go fast. I told her that we’d ask daddy to see what he thought. What do you think?”

“Can I go fast?” Angelica questions as Dale smiles.

“Of course you can,” Dale answers. “If that’s what you really want to do, then maybe we can figure out a way for you to race.”

“Maybe she could start with some go-karting, or even Legends,” Rick adds as Dale shakes his head yes. “Those cars are a lot of fun. I remember taking Ricky to the track when he first started. It was amazing to see the look in his eyes the first time.”

“Can I race a legend, daddy?” Angelica asks as Dale looks over at Rick. “Can I?”

“If you’re open to the thought, we can probably work something out, Dale.”

“I don’t have a problem with it,” Dale comments as Rick smiles.

“She could start even with the group that runs here Wednesday nights,” Rick adds as Angelica’s eyes light up. “That’s if she does all of her homework. And she makes sure to does well on all her tests. We don’t want a bad spelling test, now do we?” Dale shakes his head no.

“I promise to work and study hard in school,” Angelica tells them.

“We’re going to make her run under her mom’s last name?” Dale shakes his head yes.

With trying to keep it quiet for now, Angelica was attending school using her mom’s last name and till Dale sorted out details, he planned to leave it that way. Once they were sorted out, then she’d have the choice as to whether she wanted to switch her last name.

“I’m getting closer to figuring out how to handle Amber and what’s involved,” Dale assured Rick as Rick shook his head understanding. “She hasn’t been making it easy, though.”

“I understand,” Rick tells him. “Take your time and do it right the way you want. Linda adores having Angelica around the house anyway.”

If you’ve read the series and the story ‘The Bruises’, you know the reference made to why Jeff and Dale’s relationship is sour. If you haven’t read ‘The Bruises’, don’t worry as this reference will not be a big deal in this story. This is more going to focus on Dale and Lindsay, as it has so far.

 

Making Memories for a Lifetime – Chapters 51 Thru 55

makingmemoriesforalifetime

Chapter 51: Visits Upon Visits

Dale peeks into Steve’s office, smile locked on his face as Steve looks up from his meeting with Chad, Alan (who was now crew chief for Chase Elliott) and Kenny.

“Who’s there?” Chad asks as he notices the direction that Steve is focused on. He then looks back to see Dale standing there, smiling.

“You never come to my office unless you have something important to say so speak,” Steve instructs as Dale laughs, walking into the office. “What do I owe this honor to?” Dale then drops a piece of paper on Steve’s desk as Steve reads it, also now smiling.

“You’re cleared for Atlanta?” Kenny asks and Dale shakes his head yes. “Welcome back hot shot.”

“Thanks,” Dale says as he leans against Steve’s desk. “Looking forward to kicking some butt this weekend?” Steve shakes his head yes as Kenny kicks back a bit.

“That’s if you two can catch Kasey. If he is anywhere close to where he was last year, it’s gonna be a wonderful day.”

“Bring it on as we’re ready to get back to winning,” Steve comments as he hands Dale back the piece of paper.

“Have you told Tony yet?” Kenny asks and Dale shakes his head yes. Tony was the first person that he called once he received the news. “And let me guess – you have a very happy boyfriend?” The smile widens on Dale’s face as he shakes his head yes once again.

“He said that he missed racing with me each week and it wasn’t the same,” Dale comments as Kenny just shakes his head in disbelief.

“Of course, because there’s probably rewards when he beats you right?” Kenny then ducks as Dale goes to smack him. “Hey! I was just stating the truth. When is that a crime? You know it’s true; it’s okay to admit it.”

“Watch your back because I’ll be getting you back for this one. I’ll see you later, Steve.” Steve shakes his head yes as he watches Dale leave the office and the crew chiefs return back to their meeting.

*********

Kyle walks up to Angelica, handing her a glass of gingerale before sitting in the chair beside her.

“Is it okay?” Kyle asks as he watches her take a sip and she shakes her head yes. “I didn’t know how much ice to put in it.”

“You put enough,” she informs him as she continues to sip on it. She then sets the glass on the table beside her before lying back and letting out a sigh.

“Are you okay?” Angelica shakes her head yes as Kyle grabs her hand with his own.

“I just want this over with. I don’t want to deal with this any longer.” Kyle shakes his head understanding as he rubs her hand.

“I know how you feel, but it’ll be worth it in the end. You just have to be patient and deal with it. I believe in you, your family believes in you, your friends believe in you so now it’s time for you to believe in yourself.” She smiles as she closes her eyes.

“I do, but it’s just hard at times. Going through it all, it takes its toll on you.” Kyle shakes his head, understanding once again, as he glances over to see her sleeping. He then stands up, reaching over and kissing her cheek.

“Love you sweetheart. Everything will be okay. I’m not going anywhere.” He then sits back in the chair as he puts his feet up. “Please let my words be true. I’m not ready to let my angel go.”

*********

“What are you doing?” Tony asks as he looks over Lindsay’s shoulder while she’s on the computer. She then smiles as she looks back at him, before resuming what she was doing. He watches the websites as she looks at them, quickly realizing what she is looking up.

“I can’t let it go…” Lindsay comments, surprising Tony. “I still can’t believe the words that I heard that day.” Tony knows immediately what she means as he rubs her shoulders. It was no doubt in any of their minds that she was still upset about the news about not being able to get pregnant again. “How do you let that sink in? How do you accept that?” She then flips to another website. “I just figured looking some things up it would make it easier to accept.”

“Give it time, Lindsay.” She then looks over her shoulder, looking into Tony’s eyes.

“How much time?” He then reaches down, kissing her cheek as he continues to rub her shoulder. “It’s been three weeks and it still hurts like it did in Daytona. What will change that feeling? What will make it okay?”

“You’ll find your way to feeling better about the news, Lindsay. Just give it time.”

“I’m sick of waiting.”

“Then let the pain go and stop burying it inside.” He then walks away, going to check on the roast that was cooking for dinner that night. “Once you let it go, you’ll feel better.”

 

Chapter 52: Hotlanta

“Ready to get back to driving?” Steve asks as he glances at his driver before the first practice.

“Of course,” Dale answers with a smile on his face.

“Just double checking.”

“You don’t need to do that, Steve.” Dale then puts both legs in the car, sitting on the edge as he watches Tony walk by and give him a smirk. “Watch that sexy ass Smoke!” Tony then stops and glances into the garage stall, smile showing immediately.

“Why is that Earnhardt?” Tony questions as Dale just smiles.

“Because someone may come up behind and pinch it.”

“Oh please. Nobody wants me – all the girls want you.”

“Can you please not distract my driver?” Steve interrupts them as they both laugh. Steve then walks over to the side of the car. “You’re as bad as a pair of toddlers. Don’t you have work to do Tony?”

“Yeah – aren’t you supposed to be making laps right now instead of showing off your ass?” Dale adds as he watches Delana sneak up behind Tony and pinch his butt. Tony jumps and spins around, shock written over his face as Dale and Steve both laugh. “Told you to watch your ass.”

“Better watch yours cause its next on the list if Kevin doesn’t run good this weekend,” Delana advises Dale as Dale looks at her surprised. She knew of their game together, but never thought he’d get roped in.

“Don’t you have a husband to bug instead of my driver?” Steve questions as Danica looks towards him surprised. “I was trying to get him to get his ass back to work this weekend.”

“Are you turning into Chad Knaus, Steve?” Tony questions as both Dale and Delana laugh.

“Are you feeling okay?” Delana adds as Steve rolls his eyes.

“Tony get to work and Delana, go find your son and husband,” Steve instructs as Tony just rolls his eyes.

“See ya later prince,” he says to Dale before continuing to walk down the garage area.
“Now can we get started with this weekend?” Dale shakes his head yes. “Finally.”

“Are you sure you’re feeling okay?” Dale questions with a smirk on his face. He laughs as Steve walks away and then slips into the car, ready for practice.

***********

“Are you sure you’re feeling okay?” Kelley asks as she walks into the spare bedsroom, checking on Angelica. While Lindsay and Chelsea joined the boys in Atlanta, Angelica was staying at Kelley and L.W.’s place so they could both take care of her.

“I’m fine Kel,” Angelica tells Kelley for what seems like the millionth time already in the day. She knew she’d be annoyed if Kelley was like this the whole weekend. “Shouldn’t you be in Atlanta?” For Angelica, she was surprised that Kelley wasn’t in Atlanta with her oldest daughter Karsyn. This year marked Karsyn’s first year in the Nationwide Series after winning the championship last year in the trucks. Kelley seemed like the type that’d be there for each of her daughter’s races so this surprised her.

“Jimmy (Elledge, Karsyn’s father), your father, Tony, Lindsay, Tony Jr., T.J – everybody that needs to be in Atlanta with her is with her. I have two other darlings to take care of, each with dirt races of their own on Saturday night.” Kelley, of course, was referring to both Kennedy and Wyatt. The pair had taken the racing trade into their hands as well and were both successful in their own right. It wouldn’t surprise anybody if they weren’t racing in the top tier NASCAR ranks in the next couple of years.

Angelica shook her head understanding as she hadn’t thought about that originally. She wondered what would happen when Chelsea began racing for KKR next year in the quarter midgets. Would Lindsay go to Chelsea’s events or stay with Dale? What races would Tony and Dale be able to see within their own schedules? How would responsibility be sorted there?

“Can I come with you on Saturday to watch them?” Angelica asks as Kelley goes to leave the room. “It’s been forever since I’ve hit up the dirt track.” Kelley shakes her head yes, smiling. That had been the plan anyway as she knew that Angelica needed her racing fix as well.

“Call me if you need anythi-” Kelley starts.

“I’m fine Kelley!” Kelley just rolls her eyes as she heads down the stairs to check on the kids. There was no questioning who Angelica’s father was.

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

Dale shakes his head as he looks up at the scoring pylon, seeing that he had qualified 23rd. That was nowhere near where he wanted to be at this point.

“You can make your way through the field easy here babes,” he hears as he feels arms rap around him, recognizing the voice immediately. “Qualifying doesn’t matter here. Stevie and you will figure the car out. I have belief in you.”

“I hope you’re right Smoke,” Dale comments as he glances back and gives Tony a quick kiss.

“I know I’m right.” Tony then walks away to go meet up with his crew chief.

 

Chapter 53: Hotlanta Success

Lindsay, Chelsea, Dale and Tony sat on the pit box with Tony Jr. and Karsyn’s team watching the Nationwide Series race together. They each wanted to see how well she would do given that Atlanta was one of her best tracks. The year before, it was the sight of her first truck win. They were hoping that history would repeat itself.

“She’s doing pretty well,” Lindsay comments as she watches Karsyn make a pass on Kevin Harvick for fourth. She had come off pit road in the sixth position with 30 laps to go.

“She just may have the right set-up under it to win,” Dale adds as he looks to the front of the field to see it’s the Kyle-and-Kyle show with Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch. If Karsyn couldn’t win the race, then he was all for Larson picking the win to make Angelica happy.

“Come on Karsyn!” Dale then turns his eyes back to Karsyn, watching her move into third with a pass on Sam Hornish Jr. “Two more spots….20 laps…”

“She’s going to catch them before it is over,” Tony comments as he looks over Tony Jr.’s shoulder at the lap times.

“The question is – will they all stay out of trouble?” Dale questions as he points to the pair of leaders, noticing how hard they are racing each other.

“She’ll past them both so she doesn’t have to worry about it,” Lindsay points out as Karsyn began to close the gap between herself and the pair of Kyles.

“She’s there,” Tony announces, five laps later, as Karsyn is riding in third right behind Larson and Busch. “She just has to play it smart.”

“She’s got a quicker car than both of them,” Dale adds as he sits there nervously.

With 10 laps to go, Busch got alongside Larson once again and grabbed the lead down the backstretch. Karsyn used it to her advantage as she got under Larson heading into turn three and came off the corner ahead in second spot.

“And Kelley said she’d be fine with missing this race…” Tony comments as he looks towards Dale, knowing that Karsyn had a good chance to win it with nine laps to go. “She’s gonna get herself a win.”

“Don’t. Jinx. It,” Karsyn’s father Jimmy then speaks up as he keeps his eyes focused forward as he watches the ticker go down to eight laps to go.

“Sorry.”

“If she doesn’t win, it’s your fault Tony,” Lindsay adds with a smile on her face. “Go Karsyn Go!”

“Go Karsyn!!” Chelsea yells as the lap ticker goes down to seven laps to go.

Six to go.

Five to go.

Four to go.

Three to go.

Two to go.

Final lap.

It seemed like it’d take forever for the race to end as they watched Karsyn keep tightly tucked behind Kyle Busch, ready to strike.

As they watched the pair head down the backstretch, they waited for Karsyn to make her move. As the pair headed into turn three, Kyle Busch took his normal high lane while Karsyn went for the low lane, drawing alongside him in the middle of the corner. The whole team stood up as they watched the pair come off the corner, cheering as they waited to see what would happen….

“Did she get him?” Lindsay asks as she watches the pair cross the finish line side-by-side.

“Congratulations baby girl – you’re a Nationwide Series race winner!!” Jimmy yells over the radio as the whole team and family erupts in cheers.

“Nice job calling that race,” Dale congratulates his cousin Tony Jr. with a hug. “I didn’t know if you made the right call putting the four tires on there.”

“I knew what she needed to do it,” Tony Jr. replies before they head to victory lane.

In victory lane, many hugs are shared between everybody as they celebrate with their favourite little girl. She hugs each of them, shedding tears of her own and made a special call to her mother. She told her mom that she wished she could’ve been there, but was happy to be bringing the trophy as well. She then told her siblings good luck that night and hoped that they could keep the winning going.

“One day, I am going to win just like you!” Chelsea yells after Karsyn gets off the phone. Karsyn smiles, picking up her cousin and sitting her on the roof of the racecar.

“I have no doubt that you will Chelsea,” Karsyn replies as Chelsea smiles.

“I get to race soon!” Karsyn shakes her head, remembering that Chelsea would begin racing in a month, running quarter midgets for Kasey Kahne’s team. After some light persuading, Angelica had convinced everybody that it was a good idea as it was a way for Chelsea to start young and learn some valuable racing lessons. “I going to win! I want a big trophy like you!” Karsyn just smiles as she leans against the car.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll win many races princess.”

 

Chapter 54: Playing in the Dirt

“I am so happy you get to see me race!” Wyatt said excited as he slipped his firesuit on as they got ready for the race that night. The youngest of Kelley’s children had been so excited that his favourite cousin ‘Angie’ was going to be at the track with them that night to watch him race. He wanted to show her that he could drive a car just as quick as she could and be just like her. While most children looked up to the men in their lives, Wyatt had always kept his eyes focused on Angelica from when he met her and knew she raced in amazement. She was everything that he wanted to be. “I am going to win just for you!”

“I wish I could say the same,” Kennedy commented as she walked into the hauler, plopping down on a box. She had just gotten done her final practice before racing that night and the sprint was far from working to her favor. If things kept like they were, she was going to be in for a long night. “The thing is slipping and sliding all over!”

“Daddy will fix it.” Kennedy looks over at Wyatt, eyes full of surprise as her little brother shakes his head yes. “Daddy always fix it.”

“I don’t know if he can fix this one. It’s the worst it’s been all year.”

“Daddy will fix.” Wyatt then puts his helmet on and hops in the sprint, putting his seat belt on.

“Are you running the bottom or the top?” Angelica asks Kennedy as they watch Kelley help Wyatt get strapped in.

“She was running the bottom because she heard that was the quick groove from Ryan,” L.W. comments before walking over to join Kelley with Wyatt.

“The bottom has always been the quick line here,” Kennedy points out as Angelica shakes her head in disbelief. She had remembered hearing those words herself one night at the same track with Kale when she was running quarter midgets.

“Wyatt is ready to go.”

“Go up and watch me!” Wyatt yells as he keeps his eyes focused on Angelica.

“You better come with us,” L.W. instructs and Angelica shakes her head yes as she walks out of the trailer.

“Try running the cushion in your heat as sometimes it can be a better line,” Angelica suggests to Kennedy as Kennedy looks at her like she’s gone crazy. “I mean it. The bottom gets slippery with everybody running it and packing the dirt down so the loose dirt up top can sometimes be to your benefit.”

“Good luck Wyatt!” Kelley yells before Wyatt heads out to line up with his group.

“I guess it’s worth a shot,” Kennedy says to Angelica’s suggestion as Angelica smiles. “I mean, it can’t make it any worse right?” Kelley then wraps an arm around Kennedy as they head up to watch Wyatt’s race.

“Have some faith; you’ll figure it out. You always do.”

“Yeah, that’s when the problem makes sense.” They then turns their eyes on to the track as they watch Wyatt head out for his qualifying heat.

Wyatt didn’t do as well as he would’ve hoped as a late race spin saw him near the back of the pack. He pulled the midget in, slowly climbing out as he shook his head, looking at the ground.

“Sorry I no win,” he comments quietly as Angelica and the group return to the pit. “I tried my best. It just got loose.” He then looks up at Angelica, sadness written on his face. “I wanted to win for you. I sorry.”

“It’s okay – you tried your best,” Angelica tells him as she pulls him into a hug. “You’ll win the big race later tonight.”

“Here goes nothing,” Kennedy comments as she climbs in her midget, ready to head out.

“Try what Angelica said the first couple laps and if it doesn’t, try the bottom again,” L.W. advises as he looks over at Angelica. He wasn’t sure about her being at the track with them that night as he didn’t want her to be up to too much. He walks over to her. “Are you okay?” Angelica shakes her head yes.

“Are you sure?” Kelley asks, also concerned and Angelica once again shakes her head yes. “If you start to feel really tired or anything, just let us know.”

“I take care of Angie,” Wyatt speaks up as he walks his arms around her as both Kelley and L.W. smile.

“Seems like someone has it under control already,” L.W. comments as he wraps an arm around Kelley as they head up to watch Kennedy’s race.

“I can’t believe how much that kid loves her,” Kelley replies as L.W. smiles. It had surprised him also, though it didn’t bug him. He was glad that his son had chosen someone like Angelica to look up to instead of someone that caused problems.

They then watch as Kennedy heads out for her qualifying race and it didn’t go as planned as she would finish mid-pack. Though L.W. smiled as he looked at the lap times, noticing an improvement from the earlier practice.
“Now my turn to win!” Wyatt cheered as he went to get in his car.

“Good luck buddy,” Angelica says as she helps him do up the belts once he is in it.

“Be careful,” Kelley adds as Wyatt shakes his head yes before heading out.

With them returned to the hill, they were ready to watch the feature. With Wyatt starting at the rear, expectations were set at finishing top five at least by the parents. They felt that’d be good considering the traffic that he had to deal with and the number of laps that night. However, it went better than that as he was able to work his way to second with a couple laps left and made a last lap pass to grab the win. They all cheered, immediately joining him in victory lane with hugs.

“I told you I’d win for you!” Wyatt yells as he hugs Angelica and she just smiles.

“Way to go!” Kelley cheers as they set up for a picture together. Once the picture is over, Wyatt picks up the little trophy and hands it to Angelica. She looks at him puzzled as a smile forms on his face.

“It’s yours ‘cause the win was for you.”

“Awww thank you little buddy,” she replies as she hugs him again. “I’ll put it right beside my championship trophy, okay?” He shakes his head yes with pride as he hops back in the car to drive it back to the parts.

“1 more win tonight and this momma will be a super happy one,” Kelley comments as it’d be perfect to have all three kids win in a day.

“Kennedy will do fine if she remembers what I told her, what L.W. told her and the adjustments work.”

“So in other words, I should have a storybook ending to my day?” Angelica shakes her head yes as they head back up to watch the next race.

“Let’s hope.”

As L.W. and Wyatt joined them – Wyatt sitting in Angelica’s lap – they were set to watch the final race of the evening. Kennedy drove a hard and strong race, carefully making her way to the front. However, she would run out of laps as she finished a solid second. They all smiled as it meant a solid finish on the day and Kennedy was happy with it considering where she had started the night.

“I win – you no win!” Wyatt teased as they started to pack up.

“Wyatt!!” Kelley yelled from her spot with Angelica. Wyatt then turned on a sad face, looking at his old sister.

“Sorry Kennedy.” He then hugged her, smiling afterwards. “You did great tonight.”

“I’ll meet you girls at home,” L.W. says as he gives Kelley a kiss. Kelley and Angelica head off as L.W. and the kids finish packing up.

“Hey Kel?” Angelica starts as they get in Kelley’s car.

“Yea?” Kelley asks as she looks over at her niece.

“Thanks for the night of fun. I needed a night like that.” Kelley smiles as she turns the car on, pulling out of the parking lot.

“Anytime girl. I think both kids enjoyed your company as well.”

The smile on Angelica’s face didn’t seem like it’d ever disappear as it stemmed right across her mouth. Well it was just a simple night of racing at the local dirt track, it had done wonders for her mood. It gave her a chance to get away from everything for a couple hours. It reminded her why she worked hard for everything that she had. It reminded her why she had to continue to fight to get back to the fun that she had before. most of all, it reminded her of the family that she had by her side – even out of her own house. Being at Kelley’s for the weekend wasn’t a bad thing one bit as it meant special times with Wyatt and Kennedy.

 

Chapter 55: Down The Road

At the present time, the Atlanta weekend seemed like it had happened forever ago. But in reality, it was only a month ago.

For a month and a half, Angelica had gone through going in each week, getting the dosage and returning back home. She spent days at home, doing what she could, and weekends at the Earnhardt-Elledge household. Some weekends it was a welcome gift as it meant special time with Kennedy and Wyatt. Wyatt was like a breath of air. Though other times, it felt more tiring than anything.

It was certainly taking its toll on her as her energy level was down, fatigue setting in. she could spend five or six hours awake, but other times, she would sleep. It wasn’t to wash it all away, but because she couldn’t keep her eyes open any longer. That one day a week was eating up every bit of energy that she had.

As she lies there, thinking everything over from what she’s been through to how she was feeling, she couldn’t think that it’d be worth nothing if she was told bad news that day.

“Can you please eat something?” Tony asks as they sit in a hospital room waiting. On top of feeling tired, her appetite had shrunken big time over the past couple of weeks. Instead of eating three meals, she went down to two and now at most a meal a day. Breakfast may be a piece of toast while dinner, you’d be lucky to get her to eat a piece of toast. Conversations with the doctors led to learning that it is just part of it and to not fuss. As long as she was getting something, continuing to drink and had some vitamins in her system, they weren’t overly concerned. However, they’d keep a watch on it if it became worst and insert a feeding tube if necessary. “You haven’t eaten anything today!”

“I’m not hungry,” she replies as she looks over at Tony. She felt if she put anything in her stomach that it would just come back up. Worry shot through her. Today was a big day. They had done scans earlier that morning to see how she was doing. Today they’d find out whether the treatment had been working or whether this had been all done for no reason at all. As the thought crossed her mind not once, not twice, but multiple times, it had her twisting and turning in worry.

“Just relax Tony…please…” Kyle begged as he sat beside her, holding her in his arms. Even though she had been tired, really tired the night before, she hadn’t slept at all. She kept waking up every 20 to 30 minutes wondering how the day would go. She had asked Kyle what seemed a million questions and thought of every type of reaction they could get that day. He kept assuring her it’d work out and that she needed sleep for strength.

“She needs to eat something though,” Tony reminds Kyle as Kyle looks over at Tony.

“We’ll worry about it after the doctor comes back,” Dale tells them both, as he leans against the wall thinking. Seeing his baby girl go through this was like torture to him. He had asked himself many times why this was happening. What did she do to deserve this? Why couldn’t it be over soon enough? He could only hope that they were told good news when the doctor returned. He couldn’t tell them bad news. That just wouldn’t be fair. “Let’s just focus on that right now.” Tony then stands up and walks over to where Dale is standing, looking into the younger male’s eyes. He could see the tiredness written in Dale’s eyes from the lack of sleep that he had. He had also not slept, worried about his daughter himself. If it was up to Tony, he wished that he could have everything over that minute of the day.

“Are you okay?” Dale then looks back at Angelica before returning his eyes back out the window.

“I’m not the one lying there am I?” Tony then rubs Dale’s back as he takes a deep breath.

“You need to look out for yourself as well.” Dale takes a deep breath as he knows Tony is right. But how could he sleep and be calm with this going on? The only good thing was that life on track was going well as he had been clicking off solid runs.

“I’m fine, Tony. Just leave her be about the food issue for now and let’s just get through today.” Tony shakes his head understanding. He then goes to walk away, knowing Dale is in his own world, though is surprised when he feels fingers grab his hand. “Thank you.”

“You don’t need to say thank you.” Dale then looks back at Tony.

“Yes, I do. Thank you for being here with me during this time.”

“I love her a lot as well so you don’t have to thank me.”

“Oh will you just accept the thank you Tony?” Angelica questions, overhearing their conversation. In her thoughts, she wanted to thank Tony as well. She wanted to thank Tony for being there for her. She wanted to thank Tony for taking care of her dad. There was no way that she could erase her teenage years from her mind and it was Tony had that made the pain that she saw then disappear. “Because I damn well want to say thank you to you as well.”

“It’s not a duty – it’s because of love,” Tony tells her as she smiles.

“But still, you deserve it for what you’ve done for us, for Dale, for Lindsay,” Kyle adds. “You’ve been their rock, you’ve helped them through tough times and you saved them all. A hero deserves to be thanked. So thank you.”

“Do you finally accept it?” Lindsay asks and Tony shakes his head yes.

“Where is that damn doctor?”

“He’s taking longer than I thought he would,” Dale comments as he looks towards the doorway, hoping the doctor would magically walk through the doors.

“He probably wants to double check it first,” Kyle suggests as Angelica focuses her eyes back down on the bed.

“That could be a good thing….or a bad thing…” She muses out loud. As if their question had been answered, all the eyes looked up in the room when they heard footsteps and watched the doctor return to the room, scans in hand. “Moment of truth.”

“I have the results from the scans for you,” the doctor starts as he looks at the faces in the room, and then focuses on Angelica.

“Then tell me what they are. I’ve been waiting long enough. Has all this pain and suffering been worth it?”