Chasing The Love – Chapter 97: Cupid

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Tuesday

While everything seemed fine with the pair and they were reaching their emotional overload, there was still the concerns of ill-fated feelings through the ripple effects. Leo had his disappointment in the relationship not working out, but had come to understand that it was for the better with their split up.

On the flip side, Karsyn had played the role of playing it perfectly that she was over things with Chase and how they went down in Daytona. However, there was still some disappointment there. How do you expect someone to feel when they’re turned down by their crush.

Chase still felt bad about how things went down that day, and as a result found himself standing in Ty Dillon’s office over at Richard Childress Racing with Hayley. Besides, they had a prom event coming up in a couple of months. He had to make sure that the pieces were in place for everybody at the event.

He had created the event out of his own reasons, with some convincing from Shelby, and now wanted to make it a dreamy night for all of them.

“So you have come to the set-up queen before you feel bad?” Hayley questions as Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“I have an idea of three people that’d be perfect for her. I just don’t know how to go about setting it up, or which of those three to choose.” Hayley’s eyes lit up immediately.

“NASCAR Bachelor Style!” She then grabs a notebook and begins to write down ideas. “We propose to Karsyn that we have three guys that want to go out on a date with her, hopefully making sure each of these three guys agree. She goes on a date with each of them and chooses whom of the best she likes. It’s that simple.”

“I don’t think I could see her agreeing to that, though,” Ty comments from his perspective. “She’s the more the type that she wouldn’t go the shallow lengths of such a despicable show that should never have hit television waves. Why do you think it isn’t on any longer?” Hayley rolls her eyes as Chase shakes his head in agreement. “Given her attitude, you should come straight out to her that you want to help her move forward and have some suggestions. That, or go to one of the guys and suggest that they ask her out.”

“So who are the guys, Mr. Elliott?” Chase could tell that he had lit Hayley up, as she was always interested in playing cupid and making sure everybody was happy in their relationships. She was happy with Ty, and felt that everyone deserved the same.

“Blaney, Custer and your brother.” Ty’s jaw drops in hearing the last suggestion as a smile forms on Hayley’s face. She couldn’t help but giggle as she thought about it more, retracing a couple signs that she had seen through the years.

“Custer can be an ass, no offence and I just can’t see her with my brother,” Ty comments, leaving Blaney as the only option. It still surprised the whole group that Ryan had remained single through the years. He had gone on some dates, but nothing had worked accordingly.

“You’re obviously blind and missing all the signs that I’ve seen,” Hayley offers. “They grew up together, spending time together at the track. She would always hang around and he’d simply accept. Who is the only person that has been allowed to wear his hat? Who is one of a few drivers that she’d go to for anything, besides her teammates and Chase? Come on Ty!” Ty shakes his head in response, not believing anything that Hayley was saying.

“We grew up together. We were childhood friends due to our relations in racing. That’s all. That’s why you see all these things that look like something perfect.”  Hayley didn’t want to believe it as she looked back over at Chase.

“Well?” Chase felt conflicted as he thought about the pair of options left on the table – Blaney or Dillon. She seemed to be closer with Dillon, as Hayley had depicted, but perhaps Ty had debunked the idea with his theory. He knew that he could easily talk to Ryan and convince him to at least ask her on a date. They were both sweet, and deserved someone that could make them happy. It could be the perfect math for everyone….but yet his heard didn’t see it working.

“Now that I’ve talked with you guys, I have the perfect person in mind.” He then smiles as he looks straight at Ty. “Think you could talk to your dear brother?” Ty rolls his eyes as he starts shaking his head no immediately. There was no way that he was going to play friendly amongst the circle with how things had started at the beginning of the year. “Come on…”

“You’re trying to make up for hurting her. You’re trying to make up for going on that little escapade that I set yo-”

“Exactly. You set me up on that blind date with her, with no knowledge of it that night. Therefore, it’s also on your shoulders, too.” Ty lets out a sigh, silently cursing the cupid ideas of his dear girlfriend at times as he glances over at her. He then focuses his eyes back on Chase.

“So is this supposed new date idea supposed to erase what happened? Come on, Chase. You should know better than anyone that you can’t simply make it go away by distraction. Why didn’t you and Alyssa just come out with it from the beginning?” Chase knew the reason that they had then, and wondered if perhaps it would’ve been better to just say something. He wondered what would’ve happened.

“We weren’t sure about things. We had only gotten together, officially for a first date, two nights prior to that set-up. Besides, I didn’t lead Karsyn on now did I? I told her immediately afterwards so she knew.” Chase flops back in one of the chairs. “I love Alyssa and she’s everything to me. But, Karsyn is still a really close friend and you’re always going to care about your friends. For that reason, I want to do this for her. Sometimes people are a little shy with their feelings and need some encouragement. That’s why I’m making this simple suggestion for you to talk to Austin, please?” Ty lets out a sigh, knowing that he better give in or else Chase would continue to plead with him, followed by Hayley later.

“Fine. I’ll talk to him and see what he says. If it all works out, they will be attending your little prom event together in May. But then you better find your buddy Ryan a date.” Chase could only think of the possibilities, and knew that it’d probably require a meeting with Bubba before then.

“I can handle that. I can handle the planning and making sure that Ryan is good to go, if you handle this side of things. I want to make the night perfect for everyone – I want everybody to be with that special person. Let’s make it happen.”

Chase then left the offices shortly after, heading back over to Hendrick Motorsports for another meeting on the day. Piece by piece, it was coming together, just like the relationship he was building with Alyssa with each confession.

There was only one concern that was left on his mind, and he knew that it’d probably involve some conversation with Alyssa if he was going to move forward with it. She had broken with Leo on the right terms and Leo had agreed to those terms, seeing the lack of chemistry. But now how could they make the prom night special for him, too?

Beyond that, he also had Alyssa’s birthday next month and was in the process of trying to figure out the perfect gift to get her. Given that it was her first birthday with them as an official couple, he knew that he had to make it special in some way. But how would he do that?

It was a thought that he contemplated till he arrived back at Hendrick Motorsports, shuffling it off of his mind before heading inside. He immediately heads up to his office, going inside and flopping back on the couch. The meeting wasn’t for another 40 minutes, so he could squeeze in a nap.

With having the confessional session, it hadn’t been the best night to sleep for either of them, given how late they went to sleep and everything that they had on their minds. It was why he had chosen to do it while she was on her spring break from school. At least they could snag in naps, if they needed them, in between commitments. He didn’t need her falling asleep in class.

“Are you sleeping?” Chase hears as he is just about to fall asleep. He then glances towards the doorway, seeing Cole Custer standing there as he looks in the office. “You look tired as hell.”

“Long night,” Chase offers without much thought. “I’d rather not discuss it, please.” Cole then looks at him confused as he crosses his arms.

“Girl problems?” Chase shakes his head no as he lets his eyes close once again. “Is there issues with everything that happened? Isn’t someone supposed loo-”

“Don’t finish that sentence.” Cole instantly shuts his mouth, shaking his head in an understanding matter as Chase lets out a sigh. “Look, Alyssa wanted to know what happened from my perspective. It’s her spring break so I’m telling her everything. It was a late night. Now that you have your answer, can I sleep for a half hour, please?” Cole slowly shakes his head yes.

“Sorry…” He then slowly closes the door as Chase get comfortable, letting himself drift to sleep.

He was able to get his sleep without any issues, with the alarm going off in a timely fashion. He got up and headed to the meeting, joining his teammates and their crew chiefs. The meeting went without a hitch as everybody was able to easily reflect back on the previous weekend, while making suggestions towards the upcoming weekend.

The goal was simple – make it back to victory lane once again so they could bank more of those bonus points. If he couldn’t win, make sure it was a teammate in victory lane so they could get all four cars in the Chase for the boss.

“Chase?” Chase hears as he goes to leave the conference room after the meeting. He was going to check in with the shop guys, and then head home to make dinner for him and Alyssa. He figured if they were going to continue, they might as well start off with a good meal.

“What’s up, Cameron?” He asks. He was still a little off-guard about his teammate, given how curious Cameron was about Alyssa possibly running the double, and how he handled the situation. It was just odd to have him waiting at the house and asking the question, with nothing else in mind.

“I just want to apologize for how I approached things a week ago. I was just really curious on what she was doing, and let that curiosity do some things that I’m not comfortable with as I look back. It was unfair to ask you like I did. I should’ve simply texted you, or waited to see what the official word was. I’m sorry.” Chase understood where his teammate was coming from, and was easily willing to accept the apology. It didn’t mean that everything would be forgotten, though.

“I understand. I’m sorry for how I’ve treated you since. It’s hard to simply trust people and let things go like that with….everything. I’m sorry.” Cameron shakes his head, understanding, having heard Chase’s story of events through the media coverage.

“It’s okay. I understand, as well. Let’s just focus on working together as friends, okay?” Chase shakes his head yes before continuing on his way.

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Chasing the Love – Chapter 87: Rumors

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Monday Following Phoenix

 

Ty walked in his office, sitting down before the computer as he pulls up one of the many NASCAR gossip sites. He then quickly scrolls through the list, shrugging them off. For the most part, half of the stuff that he was reading he knew was lies, while he knew the other things and could care less. Still, sometimes the website was an interesting read as he’d find something interesting.

 

That was the case today as he scrolled down the page.

 

“Austin!!” He lets out as he reads over something, causing his brother to stop and glance in the office. Austin then looks on confused as Ty motions for him to come inside.

 

“What have I told you about these trash sites?” Austin questions as he looks over his brother’s shoulder at the computer screen. Ty glances back at his brother, rolling his eyes. It never failed a day that somebody wasn’t saying how the boys were spoiled and didn’t deserve to be in the series.

 

“It’s still sometimes curious to see what they say, regardless. Still, I found something that you should check out.” Austin then glances at what Ty has the mouse pointed out, reading it as his jaw drops in shock. The paragraph detailed how Alyssa was thinking of the doing the Memorial Weekend double, running both the Indianapolis 500 and the XFINTY race at Charlotte that weekend.

 

“Are you sure this isn’t just a ridiculous rumor?” Ty shakes his head no as he highlights the portion that details Alyssa’s trip to Indianapolis a couple weeks ago. “I mean, she has enough on her plate with this being her rookie season and school. This can’t be serious.”

 

“All indications point towards the fact that this is actually happening. As if we all needed another reason to discuss the royal princess since her announcement of dating Chase.” Ty then continues to scroll through the webpage with a sigh. “I have to admit, though. They don’t make that bad of a couple, and they seem happy with each other – despite everything.”

 

“Despite everything?” Ty then glance back at Austin.

 

“The obvious age difference, and her odd break-up with Leo.” Austin shakes his head, understanding, as he gives his brother on the shoulder.

 

“At least they’re not talking about us anymore, right? By the way, you owe me lunch today since I have a certain trophy on the shelf before you this year.” Ty just smiles in response, though was kicking himself in te butt for the strategy that his team played. He always told himself that he’d play the conservative approach, but yet took the odd gamble that weekend.

The same article that the Dillon brothers were reading had also caught the attention of someone else, causing disgust in her world.

 

“How does she keep getting these ridiculous opportunities?” Emma Vitty questions as she stares at her laptop in disbelief.

 

“She is a talented driver, and knows how to charm the people,” Marshall Folley comments from his spot on the couch, earning an eye roll from his girlfriend.

 

“Talent? As i-”

 

“She won at Atlanta earlier this year. Did you forget about that?” Emma just laughs. “Oh, and she won the truck series championship last year.”

 

“She got lucky both times. Besides, she’s just riding on the coattails of her last name. It’s the only reason that she got the ride, and is dating Chase.” Marshall crosses his arms, shaking his head in disbelief. He had his own options and would express them, but couldn’t believe the words that he was hearing from Emma.

 

“Jealous much?” Marshall then stands up and leaves the room.

 

“That’s all that you have to say? You can’t be serious! I thought that you’d have mor-”

 

“No, I don’t have anymore to say. Do you want to know why? Because I’m sick and tired of this bullshit! It’s time that you grow up and realize that jealousy is going to get you nowhere. Why do you think I have stopped bugging them and am focused on getting better as a driver? If you’re going to keep this up, you might as well waltz your ass out that door.” Emma then looks at him surprised.

 

“What happened to be in this together, Marshall?” Marshall then glances back at her.

 

“I grew up.” He then continues to walk towards the stairs as she stands up, glancing his way.

 

“I thought that you said it was a dream to date a sweetheart, model like myself. Throwing that away due to Alyssa and Chase now?” Marshall then stops and looks down at her.

 

“Do yourself a favor and disappear before I come back down these stairs. I’m done with you, and your games. I also will be calling Leo in the coming days to tell him what you did.” He then continues to walk up the stairs, satisfied as Emma lets out a growl of frustration.

 

 

 

While everybody was worried about the rumors surrounding Alyssa and the double, Chase had some else on his plate as he stared at his laptop with a blank expression on his face.

 

“Why does this have to so complicated?” He questions out loud as he scrolls through websites, viewing various Prom themes.

 

“Why are you making it so complicated?” Cindy asks in response, after having heard of her son’s Prom idea via their phone conversation that afternoon. She felt pride in hearing the reason behind the year, smiling in having another reason to know that she raised her boy right.

 

“I want the night to be perfect, Mom. I don’t want to throw this together with the guys and have it messed up because of something. Besides, all proms have a them-”

 

“I know plenty that didn’t, Chase. Beside, the theme doesn’t matter at the end of the day. All that matters is that you have your friends together, and good time partying. Once the food is served and the dancing begins, nobody is going to worry about the theme of the party. Why not just decorate in a general fashion and forgo the theme?” Chase lets out a sigh, reading a recent text that he had received from Shelby.

 

“It’s not totally my decision, Mom. I’m planning this with others, and they want to do a theme as well.” Cindy lets out a sigh, wishing that she could make it easy for her son in that moment.

 

“What about doing a Footloose theme? Everybody loves that movie – whether the original or the remake. It’s fit the country-boy feel for most of you, while trying to connect with your small town.” Chase shakes his head no upon hearing the idea.

 

“It’s a great idea, but you can’t base all of your decorations and everything on that mom.” Cindy then thinks it over, trying to figure out something that could work with what they were planning.

 

“What about doing a Fairy Tale theme? The night is about bringing everybody together with the loves of their lives, prince and princesses. You could royal invitations, and get the girls to do the decorations like a castle. Everybody could dress as their favourite princess and prince.” Chase thinks it over, wondering if it could work. However, he was worried about that being too much work for the decorating crew.

 

“Could you see Shelby and Marie trying to turn the Western Town into a castle?” Cindy lets out another sigh. So much for that idea, as well. “What about doing an old west theme? We’re in the old western town so why don’t we all dress the part?”

 

“It sounds like the perfect theme, Chase.” Chase smiles as he sends it off to the others, hoping to get their seal of approval. He was already running ideas through his head about how to do the prom proposal to Alyssa within the constraints of the theme. “Now, was that so har-”

 

“Alyssa is going to do the Memorial Day double?!?” Cindy then freezes upon hearing the words from her son’s mouth.

 

“What is that, sweetie?” Chase then re-reads the text message from Ty, before bringing up the website with the details.

 

“Ty just texted me that he found via a website online that Alyssa is thinking of doing the Memorial Day weekend double. She also made a trip to Indianapolis a couple weeks ago, meeting with a couple different Indy car owners, per the article. That’s the same weekend as her graduation? Is she insa-”

 

“Chase, calm down! Has Alyssa mentioned anything about this to you?” Chase couldn’t ever recall a conversation involving open-wheel cars.

 

“No, she hasn’t.”

 

“Then it may not be true. You know how these rumor sites are. Before you go freaking out, you should as-”

 

“It says that she visited with car owners in Indianapol-”

 

“She could’ve gone for a sponsor appearance, and stopped in to see some friends. You do realize that she’s friends with a couple of those guys via her love for anything with wheels, right?” Chase shakes his head yes, with a smile. It was that crazy drive to do whatever she could that made her childhood years fun, and a little crazy. “Just talk to her and ask her before you go freaking out, okay?”

 

“That’s fair, mom. I should know better anyway.”

 

“That’s my boy.”

Mayday #9 – Chapters 41 & 42

Chapter 41: Winnie

Chase hears a knock on the door as he slowly goes to get off the couch.

“Don’t move!” He hears and lets out a sigh as he sits down back.

“Mom, I can take care of myself!” He yells as Cindy comes out of the kitchen.

“I told you that I’m going to take care of you while that leg heals and you’re not going to argue with your mama, understood?” Chase lets out a sigh as he shakes his head yes. Cindy then goes to the door, opening it as she glances down with a smile. “Hey Alyssa.

“Hi Cindy,” the little girl says. “Is Chasey here?” Cindy shakes her head yes as she moves back and lets the little girl on.

“Your buddy is here!” Chase then glances back as he watches Alyssa walk over, hopping up beside him on the couch.

“Hi Chasey!”

“Hi Alyssa,” he replies with a smile. “How was your day?” A big smile forms on her face.

“I got to go to zoo and see ‘nimals. There was lion, tiger, giraffe, bears…it was fun.” Chase smiled as he liked hearing about her adventures.

“Really? Were they any monkeys?” Alyssa starts to giggle a little as she shakes her head yes. He then reaches out and grabs her, ticking her. “I think you’re acting like one.”

“Chasey!!!” He then lets her go with a laugh as she sits back down beside him. “Chase, you feel good?” He shakes his head yes.

“I’m doing good. Still a little sore…but a little better.” Alyssa then lets out a sigh.

“We play soon?” Chase shakes his head yes with a sigh. She had been so disappointed to hear that they couldn’t play some of their usual games due to his leg.

“Soon, sweetheart.” He then reaches behind the pillow and pulls out something, holding it behind his back. “I got something for you.”

“Present?” Chase does a thinking motion and shakes his head no. “Candy?” Chase shakes his head no as she tries to peek but he turns a little.

“No peeking!” She then lays back as she thinks it over – instantly popping up a couple seconds later.

“Winnie!!” A big smile forms on Chase’s face as he hands her the bear. “Yay! He come home!”

“I couldn’t leave him there.” She then hugs the bear tightly, before looking carefully at Chase.

“He make you feel good? He make you go fast?” Chase shakes his head yes as she looks at the bear. “Good boy Winnie. You do job well.”

“I know you’re not supposed to be sneaking around in my bags, but that was very nice of you to sneak the bear in there. He was a nice surprise and a great buddy to have.”

“You ‘elcome!” She then sits the bear down, taking her turn hugging him tightly as he just smiles.

“Now guess what?” She then sits back and looks at him curiously. “You get to see me race this weekend!”

“Yay!! You go win. You go fast. I wear ‘pecial suit.” Chase grins as she always looked cute walking around in the suit to match his.

“I think that’s a good plan. We’ll just have to see if Regan will let me…” Alyssa then makes face.

“Chasey, I tell Reggy to do that. He listen.”

Sure enough, Alyssa lived up to her word as the next time she saw Regan, she told him that he had to be nice, share and let Chase win. Regan could only grin and assure her that he would share some wins with his teammate. It was the only thing that he could say to keep her happy as anything else, and she would be grumpy.

The plan worked like a charm, too, as Chase was able to head to New Hampshire and pull off the victory. The immediate celebration brought forth tons of hugs in victory lane, including a special hug with his buddy. He also made sure that she got front row and center for the photos, taking a special photo of them just together with Winnie in her arms.

It seemed that the win at New Hampshire was exactly what Chase needed as it propelled him into a streak of racers that saw him pick up two more wins, along with a big string of top-fives that had him start to close the gap that was now between him and the leaders with missing Kentucky.

As the XFINITY Series got ready for the season finale weekend at Homestaed, Chase found himself back into championship contention, somehow. Regan was the points leader with Darrell four points behind, followed by Ty Dilon and then Chase. Sitting 32 points behind Regan, he defiantly had a shot to win his second straight – but it wasn’t going to be easy.

“How did you get back in championship contention?” Darrell questions as they get ready for the champion contenders press conference.

“I just did what I do best – win races and run up front,” Chase answers with a smile. “I said back at Iowa that anything was possible. While I said it, I didn’t believe that it was. This is just beyond crazy.”

“I don’t plan on letting the door of opportunity open for you,” Regan comments as Chase gives him a look.

“Did you ask Alyssa if that was okay?” Regan rolls his eyes as he knew exactly what Chase’s little buddy would say.

“I still want to know why you’re her favourite.”

“Because he’s the charmer – he can charm anybody, anywhere,” Ty comments as they enter the media center.

“But yet still ahs no girlfriend,” Darrell adds as he sticks his tongue out. Chase simply rolls his eyes as he takes his seat.

In honesty, he never pictured himself as being part of the championship picture after he sat out a race. But, here he was – part of the discussion with a mathematical chance. Could he honestly win his second straight championship? Could he come back from missing a whole weekend? It was a possibility and he planned to do everything possible to try and make it happen by dominating and winning the race on Saturday night. But if he wanted it to happen, there were a lot of other factors that had to fall in place.

 

Chapter 42: Ford 300

He leans back against the car with a smile on his face. Things were going according to plan so far that weekend. He had led both practices, before winning the pole in qualifying. Now he just needed to go dominate the race and let the pieces fall in place. While he hated to wish bad luck upon any of his competitors, he wished that the three in front of him had a small slip up over the course of the night.

“Chase!” Alyssa yells as Chase snaps out of his thoughts and smiles as he looks down at her.

“Hey princess,” he replies as he kneels down to her level. “What’s up?”

“I came ‘ish you good luck. So…good luck.” She then wraps her arms around him, giving him a kiss on the cheek. Chase remembered the first time that she did this – she had given him the kiss because that’s what mommy and daddy did when mommy wished daddy good luck.

“Thank you sweetie.” She then sits on the ground with her teddy bears in her hands, leaning back against his car.

“Chase, you gonna win. I know that.” Chase then looks at her surprised.

“Oh really?” She shakes her head yes.

“Fast car and you good driver. You fastest.” He hoped that she was right and he was able to pull off the win, whether he won the championship or not. It’d certainly be a great way to end off the season.

“I think you’re right. I just have to make sure nobody passes me.”

“They won’t.” The pair then fall silent as Chase stands up.

“She kept bugging me to come see you,” Dale comments as he glances down at his daughter. “I kept saying that you needed time to think how you’re going to win, but she insisted that she see you.”

“It’s fine,” Chase assures Dale. “I always love seeing her. She knows how to make me smile so easily.” Chase glances back down at Alyssa checking on her, before glancing back at up Dale. “So boss, are you going to win tomorrow?”

“The car is quick and I’ve got to win if I want that championship, right?” Chase shakes his head yes. If Dale was going to finally win it, he’d have to put up the best race with how quick he, Jeff, Jimmie and Kevin were all in practice.

“It’s going to be a great race tomorrow night. Everybody will on the edge of their seat for that battle.” Alyssa then stands up, catching both of their attention.

“Chase, you need ‘ucky buddy,” she starts as Chase looks at her, slightly confused. “You have Winnie. Winnie go for ride.” Chase then takes the bear from her as he thinks it over. He had been good luck earlier in the year, and if he wanted the pieces to fall together… “Please?” There was that darn please again that he couldn’t say no too.

“I think that’s a good idea,” he comments. “Will, zip ties…again.” Will rolls his eyes and heads to the pit box, knowing exactly what the plan was. He didn’t get he deal with Chase, Alyssa and the bear, but knew that he had his job to do.

“You ‘ake care of him. Tie him tight and keep safe.” Chase shakes his head in agreement. He was planning on going fast and escaping all trouble, anyway.

“I’ll take of him, sweetie. Nothing will happen to Winnie, okay?” She shakes head yes with a smile as Will walks back over with zip ties in hand.

“Here we go…” Will lets out as he snatches the bear and goes forth with securing him in the car.

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

“Final lap!” Earl Barber says over the radio.

“Got to beat him…” Greg adds as he glances over at the live scoring monitor, showing the current points standings. “You can do it, kid!”

The race had gone according to their plan, so far. It was unfortunate, but Regan indeed run into trouble with a motor failure taking him out of the race. That left the championsip to be presumably either Ty’s or Darrell’s. But Darrell was back in the field multiple laps down following a pit road speeding penalty and Ty found himself at the bad end of a wreck. As a result, if Chase could pull off the win that night, he would be crowned the series champion. If he finished second, then the nod would go to Ty.

Chase had dominated the race, though found himself restarting fifth late in the race when they made the decision to take tires while others stayed out. Now with the final lap of the race upon them, Kyle Busch was right ahead in the lead, with Chase right on his bumper, set to challenge for the win. It was win the race and the championship, or lose both.

Through turns one and two, Kyle took the high line that he had been using the whole race while Chase made the car hug the bottom line. Coming off the corner, he still hadn’t been able to close the gap enough to get underneath, having to fall behind going down the backstretch.

Tucked behind the Monster Energy Toyota down the whole backstretch, getting a good view of Kyle’s black bumper, Chase knew that his chance was going to be down in turns three and four. He’d have to make it stick, somehow, and grab the lead or else the pieces would fall apart.

Going into turn three, he dives down the bottom, tugging on the wheel as hard as he can through the middle of the corner. For the whole night, the car had been tight through the middle and kept wanting to wash up. He knew he couldn’t let that happen as he had to make it stick around the apex to have the run off to beat Kyle to the line. There was the option to slide up and cause Kyle to slide up and lose momentum, but he wasn’t going to play things dirty. That wasn’t how he raced.

Through the middle, he was able to hold it and coming off, he was right align with Kyle. Straightening the wheel and pushing the gas pedal as hard as he can, he kept his eyes focused ahead on the finish line. He just need to get there and as quick as possible, ahead of Kyle.

The pair cross the finish line as everybody keeps their eyes peeled. To the naked eye, it was impossible to tell who had the advantage as everybody looked at each other in curiosity.

Greg glanced towards the scoring monitor, wanting to receive confirmation, either way. As he watched the numbers pop up, his jaw dropped in shock as he looked between the fellow crew members on the pit box.

He was about to give official word to Chase, but noticed a NASCAR official with his finger up. Glancing down, the official told him that they were going over the video footage to make 100% sure.

“They’re going over the video,” Greg tells Chase, not wanting to leave his driver hanging.

Chase coasted around the bottom of the track and let out a sigh. He had done everything that he could’ve. There was nothing else that he could’ve thought to do in that situation. If he won it, it’d be absolutely amazing. If not, he was still proud of the effort that he and the team had put in over the past couple of months.

“It’s official!!!” Greg lets out. “We’re the champions….again! I love you, kid! You’re amazing, spectacular! That was a great move on Kyle! You did it!”

“Woohoooo!” Chase lets out in response, smiling. “Great car, great crew. Way to go everybody! This is just…unbelievable! Thank you everybody!”

He then let out the biggest burnout that he could muster, before joining the whole team in championship victory lane for celebration. He shared a hug with each and every crew member, disbelief washing over him at the moment. He also did his usual spell of interviews, giving Alyssa a special shout out for the lucky bear.

In parts, there were a couple of tears rolling down his cheeks out of pure happiness, relief and just pure joy. Though there were also a couple in there in knowing how stressful the past year had been and everything that he had been through.

No doubt everything still lied beneath the surface and had its affect. He would always have a reminder in the form of a scar. There were also the couple of nightmares and thoughts that came about with reflection. His life had certainly changed over the year, and there was nothing that he could do to make go away.

The only that mattered that night, though, was that he was a champion and for those hours that followed, he could focus solely on that and forget everything else.

For that night, with his team and those that loved him, he could be free from everything.

 

THE END

Mayday #9 – Chapters 36 Thru 40

Chapter 36: Press Conference

I’ve had this ‘statement’ written for a good month. It came to me randomly one night and I just sat and wrote it out. It’s what kicked off the idea of the attack and the following events.
Friday July 17, 2015

Chase walks up and takes a seat, taking a deep breath. He hated that he had to do this. He didn’t want to talk about everything that had happened. He didn’t wan to talk to anybody. He just wanted to be behind the wheel of his racecar on that race track doing what he loved more than anything.

But yet, here he was, sitting in the press conference room, set to make a statement.

“Hello,” he started off simply as he looked around the room. His eyes immediately landed on his parents, a slight smile forming on his face. It was nice to have them both there for support, despite the minor disagreement about the weekend ahead. “I want to start by thanking you for being here and your patience. As most of you heard, I wasn’t at the race track last week due to being stabbed in the leg. Point blank – that’s what happened. I got stabbed in the leg by Randy as the police report says. There’s no other way of putting it.”

He hadn’t planned on being blunt with the reasoning, but why shadow around it? The trial was done so he wasn’t bound by the legal book, and there was a police report that had been spread around stating what happened. Everybody in the room knew what happened, knew Randy was charged and knew that the guy was going to rot in a prison cell.

That was just what Randy deserved in Chase’s mind.

“Between the pain and the inability to walk, I was forced to sit on the sidelines last week,” he continues. “I want to thank JR Motorsports and NAPA for their understanding and support during this time, and thanks for the fans for their support, as well.”

For the majority of the people in the room, they believed that Chase was just there to make a statement about the turn of events so they wouldn’t bug him over the course of the weekend. They thought that he was there to support whichever young driver was going to be filling in while he was healing. They had heard about the test and bugged JRM for a statement only to receive nothing, but didn’t believe that he would be returning yet. Perhaps that’s why Chase was sitting before them – to explain the test and his recovery period.

“I’m sitting here before you today as I am set to return to the driver’s seat,” Chase reveals, causing some jaws to drop in the room. “I feel that I am ready, physically in the best way possible and mentally, to return this weekend. I want to get back behind the wheel. I want to be racing. Some people have said that I shouldn’t worry about being here because of missing last week and taking myself out of the championship hunt, but I couldn’t stay away. I just….wow, this is harder than I thought it would be.”

Taking a deep breath, he focuses his eyes down on the table. He had thought the speech over in his head last night. Go in the media center and thank everybody for support, state that he was returning and his intentions on running well that weekend. It was supposed to be simple as that.

Though now sitting before everybody and watching the emotions flood in his mind, it was no longer simple. His mind was clouded with everything that had happened so far that year and the words that he had planned on weren’t sitting there ready to come.

Instead, he felt himself being sent on a road of reflection. Maybe if he shared his story, they would understand and not bother him about the decision.

“Everything was going my way,” he starts as he looks back up at everybody. “I was the carefree 18 year old that had everything going my way. I had a job racing cars for a living. I had the talent and ability to win races. I was already a NASCAR champion, set to drive for Mr. Rick Hendrick one day in the Sprint Cup Series. Everybody was saying that I was the next best thing – still are saying that. Then I turned 19 and this year happened.”

In that moment, he felt everything flash before his eyes as he took a deep breath and told himself to keep it together. He flashbacked to the attack by Mariela. He flashbacked to standing face to face to Randy in the hotel room. He even pictured the knife as it drew closer to him.

“Over the past year so far, my life has flipped over and over in so many more ways than I can count,” he continues. “I won my first Sprint Cup Series race, something that I still don’t believe. However, I’ve also been through a lot off the track. Everything that has happened has hurt me, challenged me, changed my perspective a little and helped me maybe mature and harden a little quicker than I would’ve wanted.”

There was no doubt that the words that Dale said back in February ran true – everything had changed now. rather than just worrying about the small things in life, he was stuck on these flashbacks, and sometimes worried that someone would be right over his shoulder ready to pounce. He couldn’t trust people as quickly as he would before. He wouldn’t simply go talk to anybody as he wondered whether they’d have another motive.

“With all the twists and turns off the track between court rooms and people…let’s not talk about them,” he stays on track with his speech, not wanting to touch upon Mariela and Randy. He knew if he went into those details that he’d break down right before everybody. “Being on the race track and behind the wheel is the one common thing right now, for me. It gives me more comfort than anything else can. For those 200 or 300 laps, I forget about everything that happened and focus simply on winning. It’s like an escape. It’s the one constant that I know in my life, right now, that can help me feel good.”

Cindy takes a deep breath as she keeps her eyes locked on her son. She could tell that he was laying his heart on the line in front of everybody, and it made her want to cry.

Nobody should feel what he was feeling in relative to pain. Nobody should feel what he was feeling in relative to fear. Nobody should have to deal with nightmares, flashbacks and the mental side effects.

Though in the same moment, it helped her understand why he so badly wanted to be there that weekend. He didn’t want to be at home, quiet, left to think. He wanted to have something that would take his mind off of what happened. He wanted to be there at the track so he could begin the process of moving on and putting it behind him.

“Last Sunday, the doctors gave me the okay to start walking,” Chase explains. “Those first few steps – painful as ever. It even hurts today walking around the garage area and into here. There’s also a bit of a limp, which will be there till it heals. Before you ask, doctors say about two to four weeks, probably more likely four weeks.”

He was personally hoping for two weeks, but Dr. Mae insisted four due to the slight muscle damage. He could only hope that the pain continued to lessen as it healed.

“Luckily, though, it isn’t my driving foot,” he continues. “I went testing on Tuesday and while there was a little pain, I felt great to be back in the racecar and driving. It took some getting used to in using my right foot to brake, but I can deal with that.

“My left arm is also bandaged up, and that’s due to a series of cuts all the way down my arm. It hurts as well – but not as much as my leg. It will have an effect as it’ll be hard to drive using my left hand, but that’s why I have a right hand and I can drive with it alone just fine.

“The test went well and despite those who challenged why I am here, I am here this weekend. I am here with the simple goal – to do the best job that I can for my team and sponsors, and win this race. I’m not changing my goals just because of what happened. And hey, there’s still a mathematical outside chance that I could win the championship and you never know what could happen.

“That’s it. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I’ll answer to the best of my ability.” He then lets out a long sigh of relief, glad that he had that off of his chest.

Now it was time to get going with business and do what he had to do.

Chapter 37: Practice
After making the announcement, Chase headed back to the trailer and got changed into his firesuit. He was set to go about the rest of the weekend without anybody bugging him. He just wanted to simply focus on driving, doing the best that he could and possibly even winning.

After getting changed in his firesuit, he made his way out to the garage, finally giving in to use the crutches. He figured that his leg was going to get enough of a workout with being in the car so might as well give it a break in his travels across the garage area.

“Do I see Chase with crutches?” Travis asks in surprise as Chase enters the garage. “Is he finally listening to the masses?”

“Have you finally taken your balls back from your girlfriend?” Chase questions in response, catching a surprised glance from everybody else on the team as a couple laughs are let out.

“Real nice Chase, real nice. I’ll keep that in mind when you get a girlfriend.” Chase shakes his head as he looks around.

It seemed as each of his peers was getting hooked up with someone, whether serious or not. He couldn’t find himself doing the same. He hadn’t found that girl that he could call the perfect girl for him. Sure, he’d seen possible candidates, but that option disappeared. Besides, he had all he needed right now. He had his family close, some good friends and his racecar.

“I made the adjustment that we talked about at the shop following the test,” Will snatches Chase from his thoughts. “About an inch of extra padding on the left side leg rest so that way you keep it padded up.”

“Thanks man,” Chase comments before glancing in the car for a look himself. “I’ll let you know after the first practice if we need to adjust it more.”

“Sounds good. I have extra pieces in the trailer if needed. Just watch those stitches, man. I don’t need you pulling those out.” Chase rolls his eyes as it seemed Will had played the role of extra worry man throughout the whole week.

“Just relax. I’ll be fine. You focus on your job and I’ll focus on mine, understood?” Will then cross his arms.

“Driver comfort is my jo-”

“You know what I mean, Will.” Chase then glances over at Greg and with the nod of a head, he climbs in and grabs the helmet to put on, ready to go. “Guys, let’s stay focused on the racecar today. Focus on getting the set-up down for tomorrow night. I don’t want to hear a single world about me.”

The weekend officially began with the first practice session. He could finally push everything that had happened out of the way and focus on what he knew best.

While the guys had been worried about their driver, those worries quickly disappeared throughout the hour practice session as they watched him lap after lap, post quick times on the board. With each run that they put behind them, adjustments were made to keep improving the comfort and with that, the lap times continued to climb. The consistency that Dale had begged so hard for during the late model test earlier in the week was starting to show through as he was able to stay within a tenth or two of the first lap throughout an entire 30 lap run.

At the end of the session, Greg looked at the board and smiled at what he saw. They weren’t the quickest, but being fourth quickest wasn’t too shabby either. It was something that they could defiantly work with throughout the weekend and continue to get stronger in time for Saturday night’s race.

“You’re going to rest in here for the break?” Greg asks after they’re done the team meeting in the hauler. Chase shakes his head yes as he lies back on the couch.

“You know the drill…” Chase offers as Greg shakes his head before heading for the door.

He had gotten use to this before. Leave the lounge with the door closed behind him. The alarm would be set on Chase’s phone and if he wasn’t out in due time, Greg was to come get him. They had done that for the past five months that it was second nature to Greg now.

With the door closed, Chase lets out a sigh as he ties the top of his firesuit around his waist before laying back. The pain was there, but it wasn’t that bad. He could handle it as it seemed to be a minimal, partially nagging pain that he was left with. He had also gotten at least a decent night sleep so that way he was prepared for the day ahead of him. Call it the excitement of returning to the track, but it had chased away the majority of the dreams that found his mind.

“Chase?” Chase hears, snapping him out of his thoughts and glances towards the lounge door. He wanted to yell for being interrupted, but couldn’t find his voice when he saw his mother peak her head in. “Can I come in?” Chase shakes his head yes as he goes to sit up. “Stay where you are.” She then sits down at the end of the couch, casting a glance his way. “How are you feeling?”

“A little sore, but I’m fine,” Chase offers as he keeps his eyes locked on his mother’s.

He could see the genuine concern that she had for him in what he was doing. He knew that she wasn’t too keen on the idea based on her own fears. It had been that disagreement that had caused the tension earlier in the week. However, he couldn’t deny seeing her for he cherished the relationship that he had with his parents. He liked the sweet love they offered, and how they were always there to support him. He meant it when he said on Tuesday that he wouldn’t do this without her being there. That’d be possibly be the only thing that could’ve held him back.

“Listen, I know I was hard on you, but I get it now,” Cindy starts, catching his attention. “I understand why you so badly wanted to be here this weekend. I understand why you wanted to get back to racing and try and get things back to normal. When I was sitting in the room and I heard your speech, it hit me. So, I understand and I’m here to support you 100 percent. Besides, I think you could pull off the win tomorrow night.” A smile forms on Chase’s face as that was possibly the best words that he could’ve been told.

“Mom, you don’t know how much it means to have you understand and your support,” he comments before sitting up. “I love you.” He then leans in and kisses her cheek with a hug, before lying back on the couch.

“I love you, too. You do realize that you’ll always be my baby, right?” Chase laughs and shakes his head yes. Any other day he probably would’ve regretted that comment and tossed a couple in response. However, today, he wasn’t about to deny that love.

“That’s why I love you. You always know what to do and say to take care of me.”

“But it seems I also have to learn to listen to my son and realize that he’s a grown man who can make his own decisions.”

“Don’t worry Mama, I won’t ever make any wrong decisions. You and Dad brought me up right to know right from wrong. I’ll be fine out there in the big world.” She shakes her head as she glances down at the floor, before returning her eyes to meet his.

“Chase, honestly though, how are you feeling?”

“I said I wa-”

“I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about you mentally right now. I know what happened is affecting you and playing on your thoughts. You probably also may not be sleeping right through the might, again. Am I right?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks up at the ceiling. This was a topic that he was hoping to avoid throughout the rest of the weekend.

“I can’t lie and say that it’s not bugging me. It is bugging me, a little. I got over the big part of it at the hospital in discussing what happened, but it’s still there. I don’t know…..” He then takes a deep breath, closing his eyes to erase the thoughts that he knew were forming there. “I’d rather not talk about it right now. I just want to focus on this weekend and racing. I want to have this weekend that I can….”

“Be free without any worries? Get that feeling that your life is back to normal and routine as it should be with hopes that it just disappears?” Chase looks over at his mom and shakes his head slowly. Beyond his desire to simply race, that was one of the big reasons right there that he wanted to be at the track and racing. “I get it, Chase. I understand. However, you can’t keep running forever. You need to face what happened and figure out the way for you to get through that. Whether that involves talking to someone, or getting your thoughts out in a diary, you need to do whatever it takes to get through it properly. And Chase, no matter what happens, know that you can always come to me because I will always be here for you babes.” Chase shakes his head as he knew that his mother was right, though where was he to begin? What did he have to do to get over it? He then flips over direction that he was laying, lying his head by her lap. Perhaps a discussion would help….

“Mom, why does it have to be so hard?” She then brushes some of his hair back.

“Because that’s life. Life has a way of throwing challenges at us at every turn. It’s up to us to figure out how to get through them. Rather than being mad about it, you need to tackle that challenge and figure out what to do for you.” That was why he had decided to at least discuss some of this…briefly….barely….but not with details. He couldn’t handle that as that would distract him from the weekend too much.

“But it’s just…unfair….” She then takes a deep breath as she looks down on him.

“Someone once told me that each challenge you face makes you stronger as a person. Now, you’re already a pretty strong, smart kid. But know that once you figure out your way through this, you’ll be stronger than ever, able to tackle whatever is thrown your way.” She then glances down with a smile as she notices his eyes are closed.

Leaning her head back on the back of the couch she glances at her phone and figures a good half hour nap was probably exactly what he needed.

However, that didn’t mean that their discussion was over. She knew that there were a lot of things that he needed to talk about. It was evident by the pauses, and how he worded the press conference. Anybody that knew him really well understood that there was way more than what he said.

For that reason, she promised to do whatever in her power to make sure that she helped make things right once again.

Chapter 38: Qualifying
So with the way this story has gone so far, Greg Ives is still with Chase, while Jason Burdett is with Dale. So that leaves Ernie Cope to be working with Regan….right?
It seemed as though the rest of Friday went as smoothly as possible with final practice going solidly, followed by a nice sleep that following week. The race track certainly did wonders for both body and mind.

With the day turned to Saturday, Chase’s focus was not even relative to what had happened only a couple weeks ago, but focused on the task at hand. The car was really good and he felt that he was capable of doing it behind the wheel. All he had to do was put down two solid laps, followed by another 200 that night and things would be great.

Smoothing out the sleeve of his uniform over his left arm, he heads out of the trailer, set for the upcoming qualifying session. Signing some autographs along the way, he accepts the well-wishes from everybody as he heads out to pit road with ease.

“Hey, how are you?” He hears as he reaches pit road and looks over at Regan.

“Feeling great and ready to kick some ass tonight,” Chase comments as Regan looks at him surprised.

“Are you predicting a win, Mr. Elliott?”

“Did you not see how quick the car was in practice? Did you not know that I am capable of kicking butt?” Regan shakes his head and laughs. It was nice to see the goofy, poking fun side of Chase coming out. It was much better than what he had seen the previous week.

“Oh I know that it’s capable, but I also have a quick car as well. Did you not hear that the Ragu Chevy led practice?” Chase rolls his eyes with a smile. He knew that he would be battling his teammate all night long if he wanted to win.

“It’s fine to be quick for a lap, but you need to be there at the end. We’ll see if you’re there when the time comes.” Chase then makes his way down pit road as Regan crosses his arm, watching.

He had wanted to ask about more serious matters at hand. He had seen the press conference and caught some of the references to the not-so-pretty thoughts that were probably still there. Just like he had back in the summer, he wanted to assure his friend that he was there for him if needed.

However, he couldn’t bring himself to say anything when he saw the bright smile on Chase’s face and the fun kidding matter that he was willing to trade. Why burst the bubble? Let the kid live in the moment and be happy as it’s the best medicine possible. They could focus on the rest at a later time.

“Earth to Regan!” Ernie Cope yells, catching Regan’s attention. “Ready to go?” Regan shakes his head yes as he walks over to the car.

“Ready to win us a pole,” Regan answers, getting his mind focused back on qualifying.

The qualifying session continued the smooth process of the weekend that Chase had experienced so far as he was able to lay down good solid laps in both sessions, setting himself up to start second in the race later that night. The pole sitter? Regan held true to his word and was able to beat him by a tenth. It was certainly setting up to be a great night for the JR Motorsports cars.

“I knew you’d be a little loose, but the track is going to tighten up as the race goes so I figured I’d set you up for that,” Greg comments as Chase shakes his head yes.

“No complaints about starting second,” Chase replies with a smile. “I’ll see you after.”

He then turns and heads for the trailer. He figured a good snack would serve him well before the race that night as he was going to need every bit of energy that he had in him. Besides, some more relaxation couldn’t hurt either.

“Chase!” Chase hears and stops as he looks around, watching as Ty jogs up next to him. “I just wanted to let you know that it’s nice to see you up and about after what happened. When I heard, I just couldn’t believe it. You look good.”

“Thanks,” Chase replies, having heard comments of that nature over the past two days from fellow competitors.

“I’m surprised that you came back so soon, though. But just because you’re sore, don’t expect me to be easy on you tonight.” Chase chuckles as he thinks back a couple years when the pair of them got into each other at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

“I wouldn’t expect you. Just don’t run out of fuel in front of me.” Ty then looks at Chase surprised.

“Still saying that I was low on fuel and that was the reason for hitting me?”

“That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It’s a little better than stating to everyone that you cut down on me.” Ty just chuckles as he remembered the argument that the pair had. Though over the time, they had gotten over it and back to being good, clean racing competitors on track. They could also hold an easy conversation without issues – besides a little teasing about the incident here and there.

“I’ll let you go, but if you need someone to talk to…for any reason, let me know. I’ll be an ear and hear you out.” Chase stops, glancing over at Ty. It seemed weird to hear the offer from someone that he considered not a close friend.

“Thanks, but I think I’m good.” Ty shakes his head, having figured that based on the circle of friends that he knew hung around Chase.

“Just thought I’d offer. Nice to see you…” Ty then heads off as Chase continues his walk back to the hauler.

Entering the hauler, he peaks in the cupboard looking for a snack and can only let out a sigh at the lack of selection.

“Looking for food?” Greg questions, catching Chase’s attention. “We made sandwiches. I saved you one, made with your favourites.” Chase walks over, and grabs the sandwich, as well some vegetables.

“Thanks,” he says before retreating to the couch at the back of hauler. He then glances over to the end of the couch, noticing a small yellow teddy bear sitting there. He picks it up and looks it over, immediately recognizing it. It was Alyssa’s little Winnie the Pooh that she always had with her, along with her purple teddy that she had since she was a baby. She always told Chase stories of how the bears were buddies, and had tea together. “How’d Winnie get here?” Greg looks over as he notices the bear.

“I don’t know.” Chase then sits the bear back down as he goes back to his food.

“He wasn’t here earlier…”

“I found him in your bag when I opened it to get your helmet and gloves for you,” Will offers from his vantage point as Chase looks at him confused.

“Winnie was in my bag?” He questions as he looks over at the teddy bear. “How did he get there?”

“Maybe someone snuck him in?” Greg asks with an intrigued grin as Chase looks back at his crew chief. He then turns his eyes to the bear and shakes his head.

“No way…” As if on cue, his phone goes off and he picks it up with an immediate smile on his face. It was a face time request from Dale, which could only mean that Alyssa was at the other end. “Hey Alyssa!”

“Hi Chase,” Alyssa replies with as mile to match his. “How are you?”

“I’m good. How are you?”

“I’m good. I spend day with daddy. I tell daddy see you but daddy say not today…” Chase chuckles as Alyssa would always bug to go to Chase’s races when the two series wasn’t at the same track.

“Next week, sweetie, you can watch me race, okay?” He watches as a wide smile forms on the little girl’s face.

“Chasey, are you sore?” Chase lets out a sigh as he remembered telling her earlier in the week that he was sore and that’s why they couldn’t play like they would normally.

“A little…but I am ready to go fast tonight. Are you going to watch on the TV?”

“Yep, and cheer you on!” Chase just grins as his eyes glance towards the bear. He was still thinking over Greg’s comment.

“Alyssa, can I ask you something? Do you know how Winnie got in my bag?” He watches as a wide smile forms on the little girl’s face. He should’ve known.

“I put him in while you were in potty.” Chase just laughs as he thinks that over, shaking his head.

“Why?”

“Chase need buddy. Make you feel better. Winnie make me feel better with Babe.” Chase smiles as she certainly had a good theory as he picked up the bear.

“Well, sweetie, thank you, as it was nice seeing Winnie. He did make me smile.”

“Winnie go in racecar?” Chase just about chokes on his food as he watches the crew guys look at him. He then took a deep breath, thinking it over. He remembered when she made Dale carry one of the bears one time for ‘good luck’ and remembered how she was trying to make him take one with him before. He then looked at the bear, thinking it over, before glancing towards Greg and Will. He knew that he couldn’t say no to Alyssa. “Please?” He especially couldn’t say no when it came to the sweet, little puppy eyes that now filled the screen on his phone.

“Winnie can come tonight with me. I’ll make sure Will ties him down tight and send your daddy a photo, okay?”

“Okay!! Love you, Chase.” Chase smiles as he sits back. This had been the perfect time for a phone call like this as it certainly helped keep his mind at ease and set for the night ahead.

“Love you too, sweetie.”

Chapter 39: Teddy Bear
Chase walks over to the car following driver introductions, snatching the bear out of the seat. He had told Will to bring the bear out to pit road and leave it in the seat as he’d find the spot to put it following driver introductions.

Holding the bear tightly in his hands, he walks around to the passenger side, motioning for Will to come over.

“Pop the window – I have an idea,” he instructs as Will glances over at the NASCAR official. “I’ve got a five year old that says I need a lucky charm. I’m just going to tie him to the one post. Allowed without any penalty or anything?” The official shakes his head yes as he watches closely. Will pops the window as instructed as Chase glances in.

“Need some help?” Will wonders as Chase looks back at him.

“Got any zip ties?” Will points across the pit road.

“Should have some on the pit box. I’ll go grab a bunch?” Chase shakes his head yes as Will walks away.

Chase then leans back against the car, holding the bear in his hands. He could tell that some of the photographers had snatched some photos so no doubt there’d be questions later from the media. However, he didn’t care. If Alyssa thought this would make him feel better, then he was all for it.

“Awww Chasey, is that your teddy?” Chase hears and rolls his eyes as he watches Ryan and Darrell walk over. Of course the pair would find this time to be perfect to walk over and bug.

“Awww he has a teddy,” Darrell comments as he looks over the bear. He wished that he had a camera as this would make some good serious blackmail. Then again, there were a bunch of photographers that already had proof in hand.

“It’s not mine,” Chase states straight up, as the pair of drivers glance towards each other. They didn’t care for the real story right now as this was the perfect opportunity to have fun.

“It’s okay to admit that it’s yours…” Darrell then pats Chase on the shoulder as he moves away slightly from the touch.

“We won’t tell nobody that you sleep with your teddy,” Ryan adds with a snicker as Chase just rolls his eyes.

“It’s not mine,” he states once again as he looks between the pair. “It’s Alyssa’s.” The boys were now curious as to how the teddy got there with Alyssa not even being in the same state as them.

“Right…”

“You can tell the truth,” Darrell continues teasing as Chase rolls his eyes.

“She’s not here this weekend,” Ryan adds as Chase glances over at him.

“She snuck it in my bag,” Chase states as Will returns, pile of zip ties in hand. Chase snatches a couple, checking to see if they’d work.

“Uh huh…and?” Darrell continues.

“Admit it, Chase,” Ryan adds as Chase just shakes his head.

“I’m telling the truth,” he states with a glance between the pair. “It’s Alyssa’s. She sent it for comfort and good luck.” Chase then reaches in, tying the bear securely on the bar with the first zip tie. He then goes to grab another one, feeling a bit of pain in his leg as he goes to reach.

“I got it….” Will tells him as he moves in to finish securing the bear in place.

“So why is it in the car?” Darrell questions as Chase goes back to his spot of relaxing against the car.

“Chase can’t beat me,” Ryan teases as Chase looks over surprised. “He needs a lucky charm.” Chase just laughs as he crosses his arms.

“Who was quicker in qualifying?” Chase reminds him as Ryan shrugs his shoulders.

“It’s not where you start, but where you finish.” Chase knew that Ryan was right as a lot could happen over the course of the night. However, that wasn’t a thought right now.

“We’ll see,” he comments. Will then signifies it is done as Chase glances in, satisfied with the job. He then takes his phone, snapping a photo of the bear tied to the roll bar. He then sends a photo to Dale, as promised to Alyssa, before opening his twitter.

He attaches the photo before typing, Got a buddy for tonight courtesy of Alyssa. Hope he bring luck.

“Seriously – why the bear?” Darrell questions.

“I told you why,” Chase states as he puts his phone in his pocket. “She then asked for me to put it in the car. I couldn’t say no.” Ryan just grins as he had to admit that it was cute.

“Awww, you’re so sweet,” he comments.

“No wonder you charm the kiddies,” Darrell adds as he had to admit it was a sweet gesture. “See, you need a girlfriend.” Chase rolls his eyes as Darrell was always teasing both him and Ryan about needing girls in their lives.

“I’m fine,” Chase states as Darrell shakes his head. If the pair kept this game up, he was going to have to play cupid. He wondered if Shelby had any friends that’d be fine with dating a pair of nerds.

“Everybody needs a lady.” Chase just rolls his eyes with a sigh.

“I can take care of myself, unlike you.” Ryan laughs a little as Darrell just rolls his eyes.

“Remember, he has momma to take care of him,” Ryan then states, catching Chase’s attention.

“What was that, Ryan?” A new voice chimes in as Ryan glances over his shoulder to see Cindy standing there.

“Just admiring your motherly qualities.” Chase and Darrell just grin as Cindy rolls her eyes.

“Smooth, real smooth Ryan…” Darrell comentsa s he gives his friend a pat on the shoulder. “Come on. We better leave him be. Our crews will be sending out a search party if we don’t return. Good luck tonight.”

“Hope you have a good race back,” Ryan states as the pair start to walk off.

“Hope you both enjoy the view of my bumper all night long,” Chase comments with a grin as they walk off. His eyes then land on his mom’s and he can see the genuine concern that she has. “Mom….”

“No matter what you say to me, I’m going to be worried about you tonight,” Cindy tells him. “But I believe in you and what you’re doing. Just promise me that you’re going to be safe.” Chase shakes his head.

“I promise,” he tells her before giving her a kiss on the cheek. “If it gets bad or anything, I’ll get out. Don’t worry. I can take care of myself.”

“Are you sure about that? Your friends don’t believe that…” Chase just shakes his head as he glances down pit road.

“Ryan and Darrell both forget that it’s Shelby that takes care of them both and keeps them in line.” Cindy then shares her own laugh as Chase hears his phone go off. He pulls it out, smiling at the text received from Dale. It seemed there was one happy little girl now that her bear was officially in his car. “Here…” Chase hands his phone over to his mom as she places it in her pocket. Chase then walks around the car, taking a deep breath.

With opening ceremonies set to begin, he knew it was only mere moments till he would be buckling in the car, set for the race that night.

Chapter 40: So Close….
“Well?” He questions on the radio as the checkered flag flies, already knowing the results himself.

“Scoring says second,” Greg answers on the radio. “Regan got you by a nose.”

The whole race, the pair of JR Motorsports cars had ran up front in the top-two positions, taking turns leading laps. When it came down to the end of the race, Regan had gotten the advantage after the last set of pit stops to open up a considerable lead. However, Chase had been able to close the gap, catching him with a couple laps to go. He was then able to get to the inside off of turn four, with the pair crossing the line side-by-side.

So close….

“Thought so,” he comments with a sigh. He wanted to be happy as it was a good top-five finish and a great way to come back. However, he also felt some disappointment in coming so close. “Great effort guys. You gave me a great car. We’ll get them next week.”

“Great driving out there, Chase,” Greg comments. “You certainly proved something tonight and that’s the fact that you can fight through anything. Proud of you. Like you said, we’ll get them next week. Our focus from here on out is on one thing – winning races.”

“10-4. Let’s try and win as many as possible.”

He then brings the car down pit road, shutting it off as he lays his head against the back of the seat. The disappointment began to sink in even more as the adrenaline began to wore off, bringing forth some pain. With the pain that he was feeling, it made losing that much more painful to bare.

Slipping his helmet off, he runs his hands through his hair with a sigh. He then slowly climbs out, laying his head on the roof as Cindy walks over.

“You did a great job tonight sweetie,” she tells him as she gives him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“Just…should’ve cut under him sooner,” Chase comments as he finds himself replaying those last couple of laps in his head.

“You did what you could and you did a great job. It’s a great run and finish. Everybody is proud of you. This is a great way to come back, Chase. Don’t give me that whole disappointed feel.” He then glances over at his mom as he tries to listen to her, but finds the disappointment there.

“Yeah….but I’m a racer, and racers want to do one thing – win.” She then lets out a sigh as she shakes her head. No matter what she did, she could never erase the disappointment that he always got with coming so close.

“I still say that you did a good job and you should be proud.” She then gives him a pat on the back. “Now, more importantly, how are you feeling?” He then glances away as he knew this wasn’t going to go over well.

“Sore…really sore actually. My leg muscles feel like they’re on fire.” She then lets out a sigh, having expected this. It was why she didn’t want him to come back as soon as he had.

“Realizing that you made a mistake?” Chase then looks at her with his eyesbrows raised.

“Excuse me?”

“I warned you…” He just shakes his head as he knew she’d use this to her advantage.

“I can deal with it. It’s worth it. I’ll b a little sore tonight, but a couple of Tylenol and some sleep and I’ll be back to normal tomorrow. I can handle this, Mom.” He then climbs out of the car, leaning back against it with a sigh.

“I know you can do this…but can you handle them?” He then glances over at the media, seeing the group that the PR reps had kept back for the time being.

“They’ll probably ask about the race, how I’m feeling, how my leg affected…I can handle it. It’s to be expected, right?” She shakes her head as she takes a couple steps back. Tyler throws Chase a bottle of water as the media swarm surrounds with their questions of the night.

As Chase had predicted, it was the question that he would’ve expected given the situation. He explained everything as he saw fit for them, seeming to please most of the bounch.

“That’s it guys,” he finally said after a good 10 minutes. “I need to go lay down. Thanks…” He them makes his way out of the group and starts his own walk back.

“Here…” Will comments as he had grabbed the crutches lying against the pit box.

“I’ll one up you!” Tyler yells as he speeds over on a golf cart. “Want a ride?” Chase then looks over.

“Can I trust your driving, Mack?” He questions as Tyler shrugs his shoulders.

“They trusted me to come pick you up so I’d hope so.” Chase just laughs as he takes a seat on the car and they head off. “I’ve been instructed to take you back to the trailer so you can get changed, and then we’re set to fly out tonight. It seems that partying with Regan is not in your description tonight.” Chase glances towards victory lane as he lies back against the seat.

“I don’t think I’d have the energy to party tonight anyway,” he comments.

Chase made quick work of getting ready to head home, changing into a pair of jeans and t-shirts. He then relaxed back in the hauler till it was time to fly out.

Boarding the airplane, he shared compliments with Regan before heading to his seat in the back. He then sat back, letting out a sigh. The Tylenol was finally starting to work and take away the pain that was there, but there was no doubt that he was exhausted. He knew that his bed would look that more lovely when they landed.

“Tired?” Regan questions as he looks back at Chase.

“It took a lot to catch you man,” Chase answers with a grin as Regan just smiles.

“I was actually getting worried there as I saw you getting closer. I thought, ‘Oh boy, he is going to own up to his word’.” Chase just grins as he glances out the window.

“Trust me, I was doing whatever I could.”

“I honestly thought about backing off a little and giving you the win.” Chase shakes his head.

“I would’ve smacked you so hard if you just gave me a win. There’s no sympathy in racing, Regan.” Regan glances back again.

“Hence why I said thought. That thought, by the way, was real small.” Chase kicks the seat as Regan breaks out laughing. “Yeah…yeah….be evil. The problem is I can’t be mad at you right now.” Regan then sits back in silence for a bit before glancing back again. “Hey, if you need to talk, you know you can just call me. no matter the tme of night, or day, just call me. I’m here buddy.” Chase lets out a sigh.

“I know. Thanks man…” Chase then goes back to glancing out the window.

It was that moment, that one simple phrase from Regan – along the tinge of pain – that reminded him of everything over the past couple of weeks. It was something that he was trying to escape thinking about as he didn’t want it to cross his mind. Though trying to run from something was useless – he knew that from experience.

But how could you simply go back down that road and face it?

 

Chasing The Love – Chapters 76 Thru 80

Chapter 76: Landing in New Jersey

Friday

“When she told me that she had you held downstairs with a bomb, so many things flashed through my mind,” Dale offers. “I was angry. I was upset. I was emotional. I was just…I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to punch her in that moment. However, I couldn’t do that so I simply listened and knew once we landed that I was going to do whatever she wanted to get you back.”

Alyssa shakes her head in disbelief as she hears the details, in total shock of everything that her dad went through that day. She had heard bits and pieces, but didn’t realize just how dramatic and how crazy Mariela was truly was with each of her actions.

She thought she was ready to hear everything, but each detail just continued to shock her more and more. She could only shake her head, and be thankful that Mariela was already dead so she couldn’t go attack her.

“So what happened when you landed in New Jersey?” Alyssa finally asks, wanting to know the detail despite the swirling thoughts in her mind.

“Everybody was escorted off of the plane, except of course myself, Mariela and the pilot,” Dale starts. “The pilot walked over and told us that. She thanked him and asked for him to exit and tell the waiting federal agents that it’d be 10 minutes. She told him that she wanted to clear up some confusion.” Alyssa shakes her head in disbelief.

“More lies? I think the confusion was pretty much cleared up.” Dale sits back and thinks it over.

“Not quite because I didn’t know her whole plan or why she was doing it. So the pilot left, with that understanding. I asked for her to let loose, holding up my hands – she declined. She instead reached in my pocket and through my phone, tossing it awa-”

“You couldn’t get it anyway if you were hand-cuffed so why do that?” Dale shrugs his shoulders.

“Perhaps she thought that I could do some movement that would put enough pressure on the buttons in my pocket – I don’t know.” He then takes a deep breath, thinking back to the conversation that he had with Mariela. “She then said that she was glad the pilot bought the story, or else she would’ve had to do something to hi-”

“That would’ve thrown on suspicion and possibly brought the agents on board. Wouldn’t that solved the problem sooner?” Dale shakes his head no.
“Remember, she had the trigger in her pocket.” Alyssa then rolls her eyes. “I then asked her where you were and the plan that she had in mind. She told me that I’d get the details as she seen fit. She then took her phone out of her pocket, showing me an image of where she had you locked in the luggage compartment.” Alyssa shivers at the thought. “What?”

“I wonder if that’s why I hate tight spaces, because I remember being locked in that tight space.” Dale thinks it over, knowing that could be a possibly. “We’ve already discovered that was a piece of my dreams.”

“It could possible. It would explain that as you don’t get that fear from your mom or I. When I was younger, I’d get shy around big groups of people that I didn’t know. You were the complete opposite, Ms. Princess. You liked to be the talk of the town with your crown and all.” Alyssa laughs as she relaxes back.

“I guess the princess life was made for me, huh? So, what happened next?” Dale thinks it over, trying to put the pieces in the right order.

“I then asked her how she pulled it over and why. She then told me because if she could take you away from me, she could make me do something to you get back. I then asked her what she wanted. She then explained how she made things simple, as I explained in the details to you. She said that it actually helped her pla-”

“Just lovely….”

“She told me if I wanted you back, I had to transfer $10 mill-”

“Wasn’t she doing this in revenge of mom and breaking country law? Wasn’t she doing this for her father? Wasn’t she doing this….Isn’t that why her mom took mom to the country and kidnapped her? I remember mom telling me about that.” Dale shakes his head yes. “So why did she ask for the money if that was the case?”

“I didn’t find out the true reason for her actions till I put the pieces together that she was your mom’s sister and your mom wasn’t dead, but rather kidnapped. I learned that about two weeks later and when I made the trip to Pitronia to get mom back.” Alyssa shakes her head, understanding.

The pieces were starting to come together in her mind. The attack on the plane led to what she heard about happening with her mom from her mom a couple years ago, to what happened in Daytona with her dad and Chase.

The Daytona events – she didn’t know too much on that except her parents were kidnapped, her dad had to run the race despite being in pain and Chase somehow got kidnapped in the process. She knew that’d come out in her discussion with Chase further down the road.

For now, though, she was focused on the rest of the details of the plane. She had one image from her nightmares stuck in her mind that she wondered where it came from.

“So did you agree to the money?” Alyssa finally questions and Dale shakes his head yes. He wanted to ask her about her thoughts, but decided to stay focused on the discussion at hand for the time being.

“I didn’t have any other choice, right? So I agreed to send her the money and to also have my jet available for her to jump on and fly away without being caught. She agreed and walked away, set to see if the money was going through. Well, she didn’t know that if a large chunk of money is transferred, Kelley gets notified. We can call this a security policy that we have in plac-”

“I remember you setting something up like that with my bank account when we opened it. So that’s the reason, incase kidnapped and they want money as arson?” Dale shakes his head yes. “So let me guess – someone snuck on the plane to help you?”

“Steve did. He snuck on while Mariela was at the computer. We went back and forth, with Steve debating ways to help me. I told him that it didn’t matter. I would deal with Mariela. The main thing that mattered was you, and getting you off the plane. So I told Steve where you were and sent him to get you, saying that I’d deal with Mariela and we’d see what happ-”

“What if you hadn’t been able to get off of there? What if something had of happened?” Dale looks over at his daughter and pulls her close.

“I wasn’t thinking about that in the moment. I was thinking about you, and your safety. That’s all that mattered to me. Just be thankful that it worked out and we’re here today, okay?” She shakes her head yes. “So she came back and told me the money transferred successfully. She then told me that she had realized Steve was on the plane, and I fully told her the discuss-”

“Why?”

“I wanted to show her that she could trust my word. I had followed through in transferring the money and I was being honest about Steve. I wanted to show her that she could trust me because I wanted you to be okay. I felt that if I had that trust with her, perhaps it could work in my favor. Turns out, she gave me a chance to live.”

“Give me a chance to make it out of here, at least.” She then looks towards him and thinks it over. There were many thoughts that came with that – positives and negatives – and she wondered if any of them was worth giving him that fair shot to escape. “I at least deserve that after everything that you’ve put me through this flight.”

“Awww looking for sympathy now?” She then kneels down beside him. “I don’t play off sympathy, by the way.” She then stands up and walks towards the back exit. “The bomb’s location is directly below us. Your daughter was in this end of the luggage compartment so that should give you an idea of what is about to happen and how safe your daughter is probably right now. That Steve guy you spoke of – if he found her per the picture – is probably running beneath us, headed towards the other end of the plane as fast as he can run. He’ll probably be climbing up the stairs out of the luggage compartment at the front of the plane as I exit.” Dale then looks back towards her.

“So in other words, she’s safe. Thank you. What about me?” Mariela then looks back at him.

“I could make you a deal to increase your chance of survival.”

“I’m listening.”

“As I hit the back exit back here, I’ll toss you the keys for those cuffs so you better know how to catch. At that point, I’ll give you two minutes maximum to unlock yourself and start to run to the other end of the plane. If you try to follow me, I’ll shove you back and press the button – you’re dead. If you head towards the other end of the plane and the front exit where your daughter and friend should be, at least you have a fair chance at getting off of here.” She then turns back forward. “Is that a deal?”

“Absolutely.”

“Keep your free hand at the ready. I’ll do my best to toss at good aim.” She then walks towards the back exit as she was going to.

“What if you hadn’t caug-” Alyssa starts.

“But I did catch the keys and was able to free myself,” he cuts her off. “Remember – stop thanking about the possibilities and be glad that things worked out. You can’t sit and dwell on what if things had gone differently, Alyssa.” She lets out a sigh, knowing that he was right. “I was able to run and get far enough that when it did go off, I just hurt my back and broke my shoulder.”

“There’s something else, though…..” Dale then looks at her confused. “I have a dream of a flash of fire. A big flash of fire that looks like its set to close in on me and engulf me. It also comes with this loud bang that I can’t place anywhere else. It’s so loud that it could deaf you instantly.” Dale relaxes as he rubs her back.

“You and Steve were still beneath when it went off. He told me that when he heard it go off, he immediately hid it and laid right by you to block you from getting hurt. He got a piece in the leg, that was it. That’s probably where the image is coming from.” She then thinks it over, knowing that he was probably right.

“Remind me to thank Steve for what he did for me, then. I can’t believe that he did that.”

“He loves you, and he’d do anything for you – just like a lot of people in my life. I couldn’t stop thanking him the days following either, but he kept saying that he’d do it all over again if it happened again. Why? He wouldn’t want to see his own kids in the same situation.”

Chapter 77: Post Discussion

Friday

With everything out in the open, Alyssa spent a couple minutes sitting there quietly, letting it all process. Even if she was now 18 years old, it was a lot to process thinking of everything that she had gone through as a child herself.

She was glad that her father had shared the details, though, as it certainly helped place the images that kept replaying in her mind. Now she could piece together their order and had understanding. Perhaps with that understanding, she would have the power to change them to a positive, as Chase had discussed along the lines of things that she should do. She could keep reminding herself that she was there that day and everything had worked out, despite the chilling moments that they represented.

Though while it was a relief to hear the details, she knew how hard it was sit there and hear everything. She also knew how hard it was for her father to tell her each of the details, reliving the emotional pain that he went through during the time. She knew that she couldn’t thank him enough for doing that for her, and being there to help her that night – even if they were on the eve of the next race in her career.

“Thank you for telling me everything,” she tells him as she reaches over and pulls herself closer, hugging him. “I appreciate it. I know it must be hard for you to relive what you went through, even 14 years later. I’m just…thank you.” He then rubs her back, giving her a kiss on the forehead.

“You’re welcome,” he replies. “Like I said, I should’ve told you sooner and if this can help you, then even better. I’m proud of you for the young lady that you’ve become and maybe now you understand why I can be protective of you at times.” She then looks up at him with a smile, shaking her head.

“I totally understand, and it’s fine. Besides, I like the relationship that we’ve grown to have together. I’ll always need my daddy, no matter how much I grow.” He then smiles as he keeps her held close.

“If you ever want to ask me anything about it, or want to know other things that happened, please just ask. Don’t sit there and wonder about it.” She shakes her head, understanding. She was going to keep that in mind, especially when her talks with Chase started incase there were holes that needed filling.

“I’ll remember that. Thank you.” He then gives her another kiss on the forehead before letting her slip out of her hands. He knew without looking at the time that it was late, and she had a race the next day.

“Now, Ms. Alyssa, it is late and you have a race tomorr-”

“Dad, I’m 18-”

“And I’m still your fath-”

“You don’t need to tell me my bed time. I can take car-”

“Alyssa, you have another big race tomorrow and you need to be rested up.” She then chuckles at their small bickering as she stands up, glancing back at him.

“Dad, I know. I’m a big girl. I can put myself to bed at a good time. Besides, I knew it was late and was going to leave soon, grab a quick shower and go to bed.” He then smiles as he stands up and follows her out. They then head back to the motorcoach lot, and he drops her off at Chase’s motorcoach.

“I trust you. That’s all I’m going to say.” She then looks back at him with a smile.

“You can trust me, Dad. You’ve raised me right and I know the rules. Besides, you can trust Chase. He has already told me that he’s willing to wait till I’m ready.” Dale couldn’t help but smile. Those were the words that every father wanted to hear.

“I’ll see you in the morning.” She then gives him a wave as she takes her key out, letting herself in.

She walks up the stairs and immediately notices the lights are out in the living room and kitchen. She could hear the television in the bedsroom, and knew that he was probably already laying down set for the night. She quietly slips off her shoes, heading to the bathroom. She closes the door behind her, slipping out of her clothes and grabbing her shower as she wanted. She then climbs out, wrapping a towel around herself as she goes into the bedsroom.

She goes over to the dresser that he designated for her, but could only smile as she reaches it. She sees a pair of her shorts thrown on top with one of his t-shirts. She quickly snatches it up, escaping back to the bathroom and changing into it. Giving her hair a quick brush, she returns back to the besdroom, tiptoeing quietly, and climbs into her side of the bed.

“So, how did your discussion with your dad go?” She hears as her head hits the pillow. She then looks over, surprised to hear Chase’s voice, only to be met back with a smile in return. “I wasn’t falling asleep till you got back here tonight. I figured I’d just relax in here want till you got back.” She then moves closer to him, laying her head on his chest as he wraps an arm around her.

“It was good,” she tells him. “It was emotional, it was an eye-opening experience, but it was good. I realized a lot of things that I didn’t know, and I am even more thankful now for the life that I have. I didn’t realize all that happened then. I didn’t realize….It just made me open my eyes and keep thanking everyone – Steve, God, my dad-”

“Your guardian angel, too,” he adds and she smiles, shaking her head yes.

“Absolutely. I didn’t realize everything my dad went through that day for me. It also answered some questions and cleared up some confusion as to my nightmares.” Chase smiled as he was glad that the discussion had gone well for her.

“I’m glad that it went well for you, and it was worth it. Maybe it’ll help those nightmares.” She could only hope as she wanted to be able to sleep without a second thought about it. She knew that she could chase them away in Chase’s arms, feeling protected. But what would happen if they were apart for a night?

“I hope. I guess we’ll see, right?” She then takes a deep breath as she looks over at him. “And I will tell yo-”

“You don’t need to tell me everything, if you don’t want to. Don’t feel like you’re forced to tell me what happ-”

“No Chase, I want to tell you….eventually.” She then takes a deep breath. “It’s late and I have the race tomorrow, so I don’t want to do it tonight. But, I do want to tell you what my dad and I talked about, and my nightmares. I want to tell you so that way you understand. If you’re going to open up and tell me everything that happened to you, then I want to in return do the same for you.” He then gives her a kiss on the cheek as he pulls her closer, if that was even possible as they were pretty close.

“As long as you want to and don’t feel forced, then I accept. But you’re right – it’s late so we can have that talk another time, perhaps during your spring break. For now, let’s get some sleep. I love you.” She smiled, though felt some butterflies in knowing that spring break was soon. Was she prepared to hear what he had to offer?

“I love you, too. I’ll always love you.” She then looks up, kissing his lips softly before getting back comfy in his arms and closing her eyes.

While the pair peacefully slept, conversation loomed large with Emma and Marshall.

“I have one simple question for you,” Emma comments as she looks over at Marshall. “Why hasn’t any of those gossip rag magazines called me back? I sent them the audio recording of what Leo told me. Normally, those stupid magazines would be writing up stories and posting it to get hits. Why haven’t any of them released anything?” Marshall could only shrug his shoulders as he kept his eyes focused on the laptop screen before him.

“Did you try TMZ?” He questions as Emma rolls her eyes. This wasn’t her first game of revenge.

“They were first on the list to receive the file, and then I sent it to the National Enquirer, followed by some other gossip trash magazines.” She then lets out an aggravated sigh. “Normally, something comes out bad about some star and boom, they’ve posted it!” Marshall then looks back, trying to calm her down on the topic.

“They’re not true celebrities, they’re just racecar driv-”

“That still counts as a high public figure. Do I need to snatch that computer away from you and show you the previous TMZ stories?” Marshall rolls his eyes and shakes his head no. “Besides, Ms. Alyssa is the Princess of Pitronia, some country somewhere. That counts as big royalty. That should equal a big story, esp since she’s dating some boy who is years older than her so shortly after dating her high school sweetheart.”

“Why don’t you post it on some blog?” Emma shakes her head no with a sigh.

“You obviously haven’t played the game of revenge because the game works in that you reveal the story, but don’t get caught in the process.” Marshall then laughs. “What?”

“You’re going to get caught, anyway. Leo will say that he told you in confidence, thinking that you were someone sweet. Good try on that one, darling.” She then pounces closer, closing his laptop.

“Listen to me – rather than be smart and give me smart stupid allic remarks, why don’t you damn well help me? I thought you were on board with me for total revenge against that little punk? You said that he was a star who didn’t deserve all the attention that he got and only got his ride due to his father. You said that you wanted just as much revenge as I am. Why aren’t you doing something now?” Marshall then pushes her hands off of his laptop.

“Because maybe I’m trying to focus on my own racing career and getting better as a drier so I can win a championship. Because maybe I’m growing up and realizing that sitting around making stupid comments isn’t going to get me anywhere. How old are you again, Emma?” He then snatches his laptop away from her, standing up as he glances her way. “I thought you wanted to be with me because you liked me. It seems that you’re trying to use me to get what you want with Chase.”

“And if you’re on board, how is that using you?”

“Because maybe I’ve jumped off this train.” He then leaves the bedsroom, slamming the door behind him as she lays back on the bed, letting out a big sigh.

Chapter 78: XFINITY Qualifying

Saturday

Despite having a long emotional discussion the night before, things started off smoothly on Saturday for everyone. It seemed as though nothing was different from any other race weekend.

Alyssa and Chase both got up, went through their normal morning routine and headed to the garage. Chase put in a pair of solid Cup practices – very pleased with how the car was doing and felt confident going into Sunday.

Following practice, it was time for XFINITY qualifying. Alyssa felt confident based on how practice had gone the day before. However, mid-way through the session, a big puff of white smoke escaped the back of her Chevrolet, as she slid in the oil up in the wall.

“Is she okay?” Elsa immediately questions, catching a glance from her brother.

“You’re actually paying attention?” Robby asks as Elsa gives him a slap.

“Right now is not the time for teasing!” Marie rolls her eyes as she looks back at the two kids.

“Elsa, no hitting your brother. Robby, no teasing your sister,” she tells them both. “Alyssa is fine. She is already talking on the radio with the crew.” Marie then climbs down the steps off of the top of the trailer as the children both follow.

They then follow their mother through the garage, knowing their headed to the garage stall. If they knew that Alyssa was alright, they’d meet her there. If she would’ve been sore or anything, Marie would drop the kids off with a crew member and head to the care center by herself. It was a program that they had put together when Alyssa was younger.

“Why’d the car go up in smoke like that?” Elsa wonders as she follows her mother and brother.

“The motor broke, du-” Robby starts.

“Be nice!” Marie cuts him off with a glare in his direction. She then looks towards her daughter with more concerning eyes. She knew that Elsa didn’t care much about the racing, hence the questions, but understood the concern for her sister. “As your brother stated, the motor blew up.”

“But why?” Elsa wonders and Marie shrugs her shoulders.
“Something broke – while valve spring, or something else. We won’t know what till the engine guys dissect through the parts and figure out the reason.” Elsa shakes her head, understanding.

“So, why’d she slide into the wall?” Marie then wraps an arm around her daughter.

“Oil is very slippery when you get into it with a car. It’s like driving on ice. She just lost control with it.” Elsa then notices the crew guys working away on a second car that they had brought over to the stall. “That’s the bac-”

“Mom, I’m not a total ditz. I know how back-up cars work in racing. Thanks, though.” She then watches as Alyssa walks over, leaning back against one of the garage posts, looking over the team. “Are you okay?” Alyssa then glance at her sister and shakes her head yes. “Are you su-”

“I’m fine, Elsa,” Alyssa tells her. “No bruises, no pain anywhere – just disappointed.” Elsa shook her head, understanding, as she looked back towards the team.

“You’ll bounce back from this and do well in the race. You’re a great driver.” Alyssa lets a small smile form on her face as she looks at her sister with a glance.

“Thanks. It just doesn’t erase the disappointment in knowing all of the guy’s hard work disappeared with one slip in the oil.” Alyssa then pushes herself off of the wall, walking over to the car to help out the team. “Do you guys need help?” The crew guys shake their heads no as they keep working away.

“Get the driver compartment how you want it, with the mirrors, belts and seat,” her crew chief instructs as she shakes her head, accepting.

She then walked away, set to grab her helmet and HANS out of the primary car, returning shortly after to get to work. With the race near, she knew that she needed to be in a hurry.

As the team was almost done everything, Steve LeTarte walks into the garage. While it wasn’t NBC’s half of the season, he was set on attending the races and knowing what was going on for their weekly shows. Besides, checking up on Alyssa was something that he simply enjoyed, too.

“Hey,” he says, catching her attention. She immediately looks back at him, giving him a sympathetic smile. “Do they got the car rea-” Steve’s words are cut off as she wraps her arms around him, giving him a hug. She then lets him go shortly after.

“I just want to say thank you for everything that you did for me when I was younger,” she tells him as he looks at her confused. “Dad told me everything last night that happened on the plane – every detail that I didn’t even know before. It really opened my eyes and made me realize how thankful I am for being here and who I am today. It also made me realize just how thankful I am that you were there that day.” Steve smiles as it was that day, followed by the couple of weeks after spent with Dale, created a bond that eh couldn’t describe to anybody.

“I was just doing what I thought was right. I knew that you both needed help, and that’s why I busted my butt in there.” She gives him a pat on the shoulder.

“No matter the reason, I thank you and I want you to know how much it means to me.” He then wraps an arm around her and pulls her close.

“Alyssa, I understand and you’re welcome.” She then smiles as she lets her eyes go back to the team.

“To answer your question, they just about have it ready to go through technical inspection and roll it out to the grid. As I went in the corner, the motor blew and I guess oil under the tires, lost control and was along for the ride. I’m feeling alright, though.” He smiles as that was all that mattered – her being okay without issue.

“And how are you after hearing the details from your dad?” He knew it wasn’t perhaps the subject to touch at the time being, but it did matter no doubt as she had brought it up originally. He had also heard about her sleeping issues previously, as Dale had vented some of his frustration about it to him.

“I’m alright, Steve. It certainly opened my eyes and shocked me more than I could probably explain to you. However, I believe that it helped. It answered the questions behind the images in my mind and I think moving forward that it will help in getting over those nightmares.” Steve smiles as he was glad to hear that.

“That’s great. I’ll let you know that if you ever want to talk, just call me okay?” She shake her head yes. “Alright. I got to go continue my rounds, but I’ll be keeping an eye on you.”

“Gonna cheer me on later today?” He then chuckles, knowing that she was right.

“I’m not supposed to have favourite, but I’ll let that slip just for you.” She then smiles. “I’ll see you later.” He then heads off as she returns back to the team.

She just hoped that the race went much better than qualifying.

Chapter 79: XFINITY Race

Saturday

“Everything squared away?” She asks one of the crew members as she walks over to the car following driver introductions. He simply shakes his head yes as she leans back against her familiar Chevrolet. That was all that she needed to know.

She had confidence in her ability behind the wheel – she had proven that with the win at Atlanta last week. This was another wide-open track and if she could win at one, she could win at another. She also had confidence in the team based on the success that they had before with a whole host of drivers over the years. It was crazy to see how much her dad’s team had expanded from the stories that she had heard of their beginnings.

The only thing that weighed on her mind was staying out of trouble early as she’d have to start the race from the rear. Taking a deep breath, she knew it’d be about taking her time and working her way through traffic, one car at a time. If she kept that attitude up for the whole race, she’d be at the front by the checkered flag.

She glanced over towards her cousin Wyatt, giving him a quick wave. She had to sympathize with him as he wasn’t having the weekend that he wanted thus far, struggling to get a handle under him throughout practice. As a result, he had only posted the 25th quickest time in the session.

“Did they figure out what happened during qualifying?” He asks as he walks over to her. She immediately shakes her head no, still having received no explanation.

“They were thinking something in the drive train,” she answers, having overheard a couple of the crew guys talking. “They won’t know till they take it apart this week at the shop. Have you started to get a handle on this place yet?” Wyatt shakes his head yes, with a glance back at the car and crew.

“It’s getting a little easier to drive. It’s still a tad loose going into the corner, which is never fun. I’d rather it be loose off so I can hang it out a bit.” She then grins, knowing that he had picked up that driving style from L.W. as he was like that with his late model, and teaching the kids on the dirt with the karts.

“You’ll figure out. You’re a smart driver and you have a good crew behind you.”

With opening ceremonies near, Wyatt returned to his car. She then got set by her car, smiling as Chase came up behind her. He wrapped an arm around her, pulling her close as the ceremonies started. The pair stood there together right till the end of the anthem, when he turned her to face him.

“Good luck,” he tells her, before giving her a kiss. “Stay safe. You’re a smart driver and will have a good day. I love you.” She then returns the kiss, followed by a hug.

“I love you, too,” she tells him. “Thank you.” She then pulls away as she grabs her HANS and helmet out of the car. “Are you going to watch from my pit box?”

“I can do that if you want. I’m sure the crew wouldn’t mind.” She glances back with a smile before getting the HANS and helmet on, climbing in the car. Chase then gave her one final kiss before walking away to her pit box as she got belted in.

He goes over to the pit box, climbing the steps and taking a seat on top beside Dale as he grabs one of the headsets.

“Has everything been okay with her?” Dale questions out of the blue, catching Chase’s attention. Chase then looks at him concerned. “I mean after I told her everything last night, because I told her everything. I just wanted to know if she was okay.” Chase simply gives Dale a sympathetic smile.

“She was alright, Dale,” Chase informs him as Dale lets out a sigh of relief. He was worried that it would’ve bugged her a lot. “She told me that it actually gave her relief in knowing how the images of nightmares connected in a story form, and felt that it’d give her a way to put everything together to make things better. She also said that it really opened her eyes, and made her thankful to be here where she is.”

“Thanks. I was worried about her.” Chase gives him a pat on the shoulder.

“Don’t worry – your little girl is doing great, and if anything comes up, I’ll help her as she needs and let you know. We’ll get through this together, just like we always have.” Dale shakes his head, accepting that. It had certainly been a journey over the years, but they had been able to make it through together. “Is everything okay with you? I mean, I know it must’ve been a lot to relive everything.” Dale takes a deep breath, remembering the feelings that went through his mind as he told Alyssa the details.

“It took a lot out of me, and I may have been unable to sleep a little bit last nigh. But, after talking things out with Marie, I’m fine. Thanks for asking, though.” Chase smiles, glad that Dale had Marie to talk to. However, with that thought, he just hoped that things went smoothly when he and Alyssa had their talk.

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

Chase watched as she crossed the line in the 11th spot, and could only shake his head. She was running in the top-five and looked to be on her way to a solid finish. Then the contact happened, followed by a spin. Instead of finishing in the top-five, she finished 11th. It didn’t seem fair at all.

“I swear that guy has no talent behind the wheel whatsoever,” Dale comments as he heads over to Alyssa’s car after the race. “It’s hard to believe that his dad continues to pay for him to race.”

“How’d he win at Daytona to start the season?” Chase questions and Dale shrugs his shoulders, totally confused on that one.

“Most of the good cars got wrecked out in that wreck. It thinned out the field and he got lucky, somehow.” Dale then throws a look Marshall’s way, before focusing his attention back forward as he makes his way over to Alyssa’s car. Chase, meanwhile, found himself glancing at Emma as she stood by the car, wondering why he ever dated her in the first place.

“I must’ve been crazy at that point.” He then shrugs it off as he makes his way over to Alyssa’s car, watching her climb out. She then slams her fist against the roof of the car, glancing Marshall’s way before turning away. She was honestly debating climbing out of the car that moment and walking over and giving him a slap with how frustrated she was. How could all her hard work of making her way through the field be gone in a simple flash of a second?

“Hey, don’t beat yourself up over it. You were doing great till he made contact with your bumper. Don’t let that take away from the job that you did today making your way through the field. He’ll get what’s coming to him.” Chase had caught the comment, wondering if there was any meaning to it as he knew that both Dale and Marshall are in tomorrow’s Sprint Cup race. Could there be a bit of contact made?

Furthermore, Chase couldn’t wait till they got to Bristol with how he was feeling as he had some ideas of his own. It wasn’t in his nature to think about payback, but in this moment – it felt like the only option. Was he becoming the protective boyfriend already?

“Alyssa!” A voice breaks into the thoughts, as Chase glances over to his right, seeing Marshall standing there.

“What do you wan-” Chase starts, closing the gap between himself and Marshall.

“I’m not here to see you; I’m here to see Alyssa. I’m not here to start any trouble so I’d appreciate if you back off.”

“Chase, relax…” Alyssa says as she rubs his shoulders, walking over beside him. “What can I do for you?” Marshall takes a deep breath, not believing that he was going to do this. If it had been a couple weeks earlier, he would’ve been laughing at what happened. Though now, in a more mature approach and knowing that he had to focus on his own racing, he was trying to bury the grudge and knew in his heart that the contact was accidental.

“I just want to apologize for getting into you,” he offers, as Alyssa looks at him surprised. “I got into the corner a little too hard, trying to make the car stick when it didn’t want to stick. I got a little loose and slid up, just catching your bumper. I didn’t mean to get into you and hated it as soon as it happened. I apologize, and hope that you accept the apology.” Alyssa gives him a small smile. She wasn’t 100% sure whether she believed him or not, but it was nice to see him at least take this approach of apologizing.

“Apology accepted,” she says as she holds out her hand. He then shakes it with a smile in return. “Just don’t let it happen again.”

“Trust me – I will try and make sure that I don’t let it happen. I want to race you fairly and cleanly without contact.” Chase wanted to spit in hearing the words, but knew that the discussion was meant to be kept between the drivers. He could deal with Masrhall on another day in his own way.

“Good. Nice talking to you.” She then wraps an arm around Chase’s waist and guides him away as she heads back towards the hauler with her dad following them in toe. “You don’t need to get defensive, Chase. I can handle this myself. I’m a big girl.” He then lets out a sigh as he gives her a quick kiss.

“I can’t help it – it just happened all of the sudden,” he comments with a glance back at Dale. “I think it makes your dad comfortable in knowing that someone has his daughter’s back and will do anything to protect her.” Dale then chuckles, shaking his head in agreement. Although if a fight had broken out, he wouldn’t want to be there for the conversation that followed

“Just make sure you behave because I’m not bailing you out with either your parents or the team,” Dale offers as Chase laughs, following Alyssa in the trailer.

They all just hoped that the rest of the season went smoothly, and they didn’t have to deal with anymore of these driver feud issues. Besides, Marshall had apologized, right?

Chapter 80: Cup Race

Sunday

Chase leaned against his car, set for the Cup race later that day. He had put his thoughts of revenge for Marshall aside after his stunt in yesterday’s XFINITY race, knowing that wouldn’t get him anywhere closer to his goal. He wanted to win a second straight race for his team.

He glances over and smiles as he watches Ryan walk over, leaning back against the car with him.

“Everybody is talking about yesterday with Marshall and Alyssa,” Ryan starts and Chase immediately rolls her eyes. “I want the truth.”

“The dumbass got into her,” Chase starts. “He then came over and supposedly apologized, saying that he didn’t mean to and whatever. Alyssa then flat out told him that she wasn’t hearing it and walked away.” Ryan shakes his head in disbelief, having heard some other versions from other people.

“So do you believe the apology?” Chase laughs and shakes his head no.

“We know the way that he drives. We’ve raced against him the past couple of years, right?” Ryan knew that was truth, however couldn’t buy it completely.

“Are you sure that someone else isn’t blurring your opinion, such as Emma (Vitty)? Do you perhaps have it stuck in your mind because of her?” Chase shakes his head no.

“I told you that we know how Marshall is, and Emma – I could care less. She has been given me dirty looks all weekend, but I could care less.” Ryan shakes his head, understanding. He knew that she was a sore subject based on her past with Chase.

“Well, I just wanted to know the truth. Good luck today. Hope to see you in my rearview mirror as I take the checkered.” Chase laughs and shakes his head no, patting the car.

“I have the quickest hot rod today. You’re going to be getting a nice view of my bumper all day long.” Ryan then laughs as he heads off, giving Alyssa a quick hug as they cross paths. Alyssa then walks over, giving Chase a quick hug before standing by him. “So last week, our relationship was the talk of the garage area. This week, it seems you and your stunt with Marshall. When are you going to stay out of the headlines?” Alyssa laughs, shrugging her shoulders.

“I guess that’s what happens when you’re a princess. Are you ready to deal with everything that comes with it, Sir Chase?” Chase pulls her closer, kissing her lips.

“I think I can handle it, ma’am. I can take on anything to be with you.” She just simply smiles in return.

The smiles weren’t the same for everybody, though, as Ty simply rolled his eyes watching the pair of them together.

“Will you get over it?” Hayley question as Ty gives her a glance. “I saw the eye roll.”

“I still don’t think that they should be together,” Ty offers as Hayley shakes her head. It was getting unbearable listening to his whining at times.

“That isn’t for you to decide, right? Remember what Karsyn told you that day in your office, right?” Ty shakes his head, remembering her stint as he glances over to where Karsyn was standing, talking with her crew.

“It doesn’t mean that I can’t have an opinion. It just means that I can’t be whiney to Chase and Alyssa.” He then walks away from Hayley, walking over to a group of crew members.

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

Chase could only shake his head as he got out of the car post-race. He had the strongest car, as he predicted, though ended up finishing 11th virtue of fuel strategy at the end of the race. His team had tried to stretch it, coming up short as he ran out in the final laps.

“I thought we had enough gas,” Alan tells him with a pat on the shoulder. “Sorry.” Chase glances back and smiles.

“It’s alright,” he says. “We’ve got our win and we’re in the Chase. We pit for fuel and we’d finish sixth or seventh. Might as well try the gamble and see what happens.”

“That was the plan. We’ll get them next week and snag a win. You always have liked Bristol, right?” Chase shakes his head yes before heading off to do some interviews.

As they stood around post-race, there were no complaints with the sight in victory lane. Tyler Reddick had struggled since moving up to the Sprint Cup Series, but with the right strategy and a decent car, the young man found himself celebrating in victory lane with his team for a first win. If there had to be a person to lose out to when it came to strategy, this wasn’t so bad.

Chase was surprised post-race when Alyssa didn’t come over to see him, though quickly found out where she was. It seemed that around the 15th spot, there was contact while racing for a spot between Cole Custer and Dale. Obviously, that brought forth a bit of a post-race argument with Cole walking over to display some displeasure.

“So I hear you’re a bodyguard now?” Chase questions as he walks over to Dale’s trailer. Alyssa looks over and rolls her eyes while shaking her head yes.

“It seems that Cole can’t listen when he’s told to shut up and walk away,” Alyssa answers. “Dad got loose and got into him by accident. It caused Cole to slide up the track and fall back some spots – they actually both fell back. Cole came over storming up a storm, and wouldn’t listen to a simple apology. He was then ready to throw down because according to him nobody was listening, so I got in the middle and sent him off on his merry way.” Chase smiles as he wraps his arms around her shoulders.

“Well, it seems then that you did a good job.” He then kisses her cheek a lightly. “But why does it seem that I have the rowdy girlfriend this weekend getting into scuffles at every end of the garage?” Alyssa shakes her head, not sure why herself. Normally, she was calm and quiet one.

“I guess this is just the weekend that I’m ready to throwdown. Need me to yell at somebody for you?” Chase shakes his head no, just wishing that he had another ounce of gas or so. “Sorry to see you come up short. I was all ready to celebrate in victory lane with you once again.”

“Guess we’ll have to wait till next week.” They then head off through the garage area together as Chase wanted to get changed out of his suit while Alyssa knew that getting home early as possible would be a good idea with having school on Monday.

“Think I could convince my dad to let me skip school tomorrow?” Chase then looks back as she sits on the couch.

“Now now, you know the rules. You need to keep up your studies to race and that includes going to as many classes as possible. You can deal with that for another couple of months, right?” He then keeps walking, going into the back bedsroom and changing out of his suit as she gets comfortable on the couch. He then returned shortly after, grabbing a quick drink from the fridge. “How are your marks?”

“Great. No complaints there. They’re all in the honor roll range.” Chase smiles as it was great to hear that she was doing well.

“Do you know when your graduation is?” She shakes her head no as those details hadn’t been released by the schedule yet. She was hoping that they’d make it a day that was easy to work with her racing schedule. “What about prom?”

“I haven’t paid attention to the details on that since it’s normally on a weekend and I have a hectic schedule enough.” Chase smiles, having gone through that himself. He then sits by her on the couch.

“So I guess I can’t take you to prom, huh?” She then gives him a surprised glance.

“Chase….”

“Depending on the date and our schedules, I was going to ask to take you to your prom. I never went to mine and thought it’d be nice to take you to yours, like a normal couple.” A smile formed on her face as it made her special hearing that in his sweet ways. However, the likelihood of the schedule working out would be tough.

“I’ll check when they’re doing the prom, but like I said – it probably won’t work out with our schedules.” Chase then crosses his arms.

“Oh, so you don’t want me to take you to a school dance?” Her jaw immediately drops.

“Chase, I didn’t mean it that wa-”

“It’s okay, I get it.” He then pulls her close. “Listen, see if it works out but if not, we’ll do something special in our way for your prom night. Either way, you’re getting a special night – crown, dress and shoes included.” She smiles, stealing a quick kiss as her phone goes off. She then reads the text message, quickly replying back. “If that’s your dad, I’m flying out of here in about an hour. You can tell him that we’ll check in when we get home.” She gives him the thumbs up before finishing off the text.

“You guessed that pretty well.” She enjoyed the fact that Chase had his own pilot’s license as it made it easier to go anywhere that they needed to go. It also gave them more time to spend together.

“I know how your dad is. He cares about his little girl.” Alyssa smiles, simply shaking her head yes as she thinks back to the discussion in the hauler a couple nights ago.

Taking a deep breath, she just allows herself to smile, knowing that each day moving forward that discussion would always be there. While some people would be worried that it’d affect her negatively, it actually made her feel stronger. It made her thankful to be there and get the opportunities that she was getting. It made her thankful to have such loving people in her life.

“Are you okay?” Chase interrupts her thoughts and she shakes her head yes. “What are you thinking about?”

“My discussion with dad,” she tells him. “It just made me realize so much – in a good way. When you’re living your life, you don’t realize things till you stop for a minute and think about what has happened in the past and led you to here.” Chase shakes his head, understanding.

“I know what you mean. I don’t go a day without thinking about the great parents that I have and great friends for support. There are days that I wonder what could’ve happened if things had gone differently, but I’m quickly reminded that I’d find my way because I have great people in my life.”

Chasing The Love – Chapters 61 Thru 65

Chapter 61: Post-Race

“This is amazing!” Chase comments as they shift through the hat dance as he poses for photo after photo. He had to admit – there was something special about winning at home.

“I thought every win was amazing,” Bill says as Chase looks over at his dad and smiles.

“Every win is awesome – but being at home, it’s just special. There are so many people that have come by victory lane and asked for photos that it just makes you smile; so many old friends and people that have helped me get to where I am – it’s great. It makes the win that more memorable.” Bill smiles as he throws Chase the next hat that he has to wear.

“Remember what I told you.” Chase smiles as he thinks it over.

“Never forget where you came from, and never forget the people who helped you get to where you are. Trust me, I haven’t done either. I’ll always be a Georgia boy at heart.” He then smiles for the photo, tossing the hat into the crowd of fans that had surrounded victory lane.

“How does it feel to be in the Chase, again?” Chase chuckles as he had seen some creative headlines over the years.

“Chase is no longer chasing the chase because he’s in the chase, right?” Bill rolls his eyes with a small laugh. “It feels awesome – but that doesn’t matter right now. Right now, all that matters is being here in victory lane.”

“So you had so much fun yesterday with me that you decided to make your way here yourself?” Chase hears and smiles as he looks over at Alyssa. Upon his arrival in victory lane, he had stood on top of the car for photos and then immediately jumped down for a kiss from her. Since then, she had stood off to the side letting him take the photos necessary.

“I figured that I couldn’t let you hog the spotlight all weekend,” he comments as she rolls her eyes.

“Don’t worry – I could never steal the spotlight from you.” She then makes her way over to him, wrapping her arms around him. “We were supposed to have a quiet coming out party for our relationship. What happened with that?” Chase smiles as he leans in and kisses her lips.

“Let ‘em talk all they want because I’m having the time of my life with my princess. Besides, they should be talking about how awesome we both drive, versus how much we love each other.” Alyssa rolls her eyes.

“You’re dreaming. This is the media that we’re talking about.” She then goes to walk away when he grabs her hand and pulls her back close. “What?”

“You got a photo with me yesterday so…” She then smiles as she gets right up close to him, posing as the photographers take the photo. He then takes out his cell phone, snapping a selfie of them together and making it his background. “There. Our phones match. You have your win with me, and I have my win with you.”

“You may it sound like we’re a pair of teenagers.” Chase smiles as he brushes a bit of her hair out of her eyes.

“Alyssa, you’re still a teenager, remember?” She rolls her eyes.

“I’m 18, remember?”

“You’re still in high school.” She lets out a sigh. She wasn’t ready to return to class on Monday after this weekend.

“For only a couple more months.” He then gives her a quick kiss.

“Then you better focus on your work and make sure you pass all your classes.” He then heads off the stage with his PR rep, set for post-race media center obligations. Alyssa just stands there, watching him leave, with a smile on her face. It was certainly a special weekend.

“You better listen to him, Alyssa,” she hears and glances over at Bill.

“Oh great – another parent,” she states as a smile forms on Bill’s face. “Don’t worry, Mr. Elliott. I always put my school first and make sure to study and do my homework.” Bill smiles as he was pretty sure that was the case with her based on the parenting that he saw from Dale and Marie with their kids.

Monday Morning…..

“You have got to be kidding me!” Ty lets out as he shifts through the articles on the internet. It seemed that everybody was talking about either Chase’s win, Alyssa’s win or their relationship together.

“It’s to be expected,” Hayley comments from her spot as TY gives her a look. “What? She’s a princess and she’s an Earnhardt. He’s an Elliott. They both won a race. Why would you expect anything different?”

“I expected a lot of talk but this?” Hayley rolls her eyes as she sits up.

“Face it Ty – you just hate it because you don’t like them being together.” Ty gives Hayley a surprised look.

“I’m surprised that anybody agrees with them being together, Hayley. I still can’t believe that you’re fine with it. They’re 13 years apart!” Hayley shrugs her shoulders.

“Love doesn’t know age. I know other people who are together that are 10 or 15 years. It’s not a big deal.” Ty laughs.

“She’s still in school. Haven’t you heard of that being illegal?” Hayley shakes her head.

“She’s 18, Ty. It’s legal once she turns 18. She turned 18 last May.” Ty makes faces as he turns back to his computer.

“It’s still ridiculous. They’re buddies. He babysat her. He helped take care of her and raise her. For them to be together is just….Ugh!”

“Get used to it, Dillon. I don’t think they intend on breaking up.” Hayley then leaves his office, not wanting to hear anymore details about his opinion on the relationship.

It was the talk of the town, though, as it seemed everybody was talking about it. Alyssa had heard about it all day at school.

“So Chase was the person that you were texting?” Keira questioned in between classes. “You guys were together, already?” Alyssa rolls her eyes as she closes her locker.

“He asked me if I’d go out with him on Friday in Daytona,” Alyssa answers. “Leo and I broke up on Thursday. He didn’t want to impede and he told me that he’d be comfortable if we didn’t divulge into it right away. I told him that I’d accept, but we’d take it slow. We then went out on a date at the beginning of last week. We decided to tell the world on the weekend since they’d find out anyway, right?”

“So the whole Leo break-up story….” Kassie comments, referring to what the fake story for the media about how she broke up with Leo at the beginning of February.

“We didn’t want to be wrongly judged on how quickly we got together so I got Leo to agree to that. Besides, we actually started drifting apart then as he couldn’t understand how I was balancing school and racing together.”

“Doesn’t he do that, as well?” Keira wonders and Alyssa shakes her head yes.

“He does the balance, but not like I do,” Alyssa explains. “He believes that racing comes first, followed by hanging with friends and school. As long as he is doing decent in his classes, he doesn’t give a shit. Meanwhile, I care a lot about my grades so I put a lot of effort into studying and doing homework during the week. If I get time in between that to spend with friends, that’s fine.”

“What about Chase?” Kassie wonders as Alyssa smiles.

“He’s more mature so he understands the balance. He told me that we would find time in between my studies and racing to spend time together. So far, it’s going great.”

“So have you kissed?” Keira asks as Alyssa glances between them.

“Are you going to give me the 21 questions treatment all day about Chase and I?” She questions as Keira shrugs her shoulders.

“We’re your friends. This is typical girly gossip, Alyssa. We did the same when you started dating Leo.” Alyssa rolls her eyes, remembering how annoying they were. they always had a question about things.

“Don’t remind me. Besides, I’m done answering questions. I have class to get to, and homework to do tonight. I want to make sure I’m right caught up before the west coast races.” She then walks away from the pair, set to focus on her studies for the rest of the day.

She could only hope that discussions surrounding her and Chase died down in the coming days.

Chapter 62: Mid-Week Musings

Karsyn let out a sigh as she walks into the Richard Childress Racing shop back door, watching as a bunch of workers suddenly stop working and turn to face her.

“You’re not suppo-” A random guy starts.

“Relax, she’s with me,” Hayley cuts in as she walks over. “She’s going straight to the offices anyway without a peak at what you’re doing.” Hayley then wraps an arm around Karsyn’s shoulder and leads her to the door for the offices, opening it as they pair walk through. “Excuse the boys for being extra protective of their secrets.”

“It’s fine, I totally get it,” Karsyn comments as she follows Hayley. “So Ty won’t shut up?” Hayley rolls her eyes and shakes his head no.

“He’s adamant that the pair don’t belong together. He says that they shouldn’t be together due to Chase being older than her and the fact that she just recently broke up with Leo.” Hayley then stops and turns to Karsyn. “By the way, have you talked to Leo?” Karsyn shakes her head no.

“I heard that he was a little surprised and skeptical about it as well, but he didn’t have much to say.” Hayley shakes her head understanding as they keep walking.

“So if he can keep his mouth shut, why can’t your husband?” Hayley shrugs her shoulders as they reach the door.

“Why don’t you go ask him?” Karsyn smiles and opens the door as Ty looks up from his desk.

“What are you doing here?” He questions as Karsyn walks up to the desk.

“Your wife called me because you’re annoying her,” she stated. “Austin is away this week due to media so she figured that I’d be best to set you straight.” Ty crosses his arms as he glances at Hayley, slightly confused.

“What are you talking about?” Karsyn crosses her arms as she shakes her head in disbelief.

“What do you think I’m talking about, Dillon? I’m talking about Chase and Alyssa!” Ty lets out a sigh, glancing back down at the desk.

“I’ve said what I think about them being together. I think that’s all that’s needed.” He then glances back up at her. “Weren’t you the person that had a huge crush on Chase? Weren’t you the person that we set up with him? Weren’t you the person who was heart broken when he told you the truth?” Karsyn shakes her head yes as she takes a deep breath.

“When he told me that he was with Alyssa, I was heartbroken and I certainly questioned him more than I should have. Though as I’ve thought about it in the week since, I’ve realized a couple things. If they love each other, then that’s great for them. I also can see why they’re so close together. Also, I’ll find that person that’s right for me when the time is right. It’s just a matter of waiting for that time. I thought Chase was that person, but he’s just meant to be a good friend and future cousin.” She then walks over to Ty’s side of the desk and leans back on it. “Ty, I know it’s hard to look at them together at first. It’s a little strange, you’re right. Certainly it’s not what we expected. However, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. They’ve both been through a lot – I know first hand as I saw it all myself. I’ve known Alyssa since she was born and have lived a couple houses down on Dale’s property to Chase for the past 14 years, whether with my mom or my place now. They deserve to be happy – both of them – and if they’re happy, can’t you give them the benefit of the doubt?” Ty looks up at her and lets out a sigh.

“You make it hard with your sappy stor-”

“Then just say that you’re fine with it and let us move on.” Ty shakes his head no.

“But that’s not the case. I’m still not fine with it. Besides, they came together so quickly and so shortly after Alyssa’s break-up with Leo. What’s going to happen in the months that follow?” Karsyn shrugs her shoulders.

“We don’t know what will happen, but we can give them a chance and that’s what I’m doing, that’s what everybody else is doing and that’s what you should do. If you can’t do that, at least keep your bloody mouth shut about this because we’ve heard enough from Marshall and the media.” Ty lets out a sigh as he focuses back on his e-mails.

“Fine. I’ll keep my mouth shut. I never knew it was a bad thing to have an opinion.”

“You can always have an opinion, and sometimes it’s best to keep it to yourself,” Hayley offers as Kasryn shakes her head in agreement. “Now, speaking of that, I’m not keeping this one to myself. I could always set you up with someone else in the garage, Ms. Karsyn.” Karsyn shakes her head no.

“It’s fine, Hayley,” she assures her. “I will find someone when the time is right. You don’t need to force it upon me.”

Over at JR Motorsports, Alyssa pulls into the parking lot after getting out of school, pulling the car up to the back door. She then snatches her phone out of her purse, sending her dad a quick text that she was there.

As she sets her phone back down, she leans her head against the back of the seat and lets out a sigh. She wasn’t sure what to expect that day. She also didn’t know why she was so nervous about it. Perhaps it was the deal of the unknown.

However, she was set to go for the appointment. After going through the three different sleep studies and all of her sleepness nights, it’d be nice to finally find out the cause for them.

She knew that her days were only going to continue to get busier. It was enough balancing the truck schedule with grade 11 homework and classes. Now that she was in grade 12 and it was getting to the busy part of the year with exams and final projects, she knew that business was set to pick up. She would be stuck doing all that work while racing almost every weekend. It wasn’t like the truck schedule that had a couple weeks off between the first three races of the season. She knew combining the enhanced racing schedule, school schedule and her media obligations, sleep was something that she’d need more than ever.

She snaps out of her thoughts as she watches the door to the shop open and her dad walks out. He then walks over to the car and hops in. They had already agreed that she’d drive them over and then they’d come back afterwards to the shop.

“Are you ready to go?” He questions and she shakes her head no.

“I asked Chase to come with me yesterday,” she answers as she glances around the parking lot. She heard from him earlier that he was over at Hendrick, but would make his way over to make the trip with them.

“Oh?” He looks over at her, curiously. “I mean, I get that this is a big deal but it’s not something that he has to be there for.” She takes a deep breath, understanding what her dad was saying. He was perhaps right that she could simply tell him the details later. However, it’d be nice to have him there instead.

“I know. I asked him because I want him to be there for extra comfort. I told him about how things have been and how they have been trying to find the route cause. I then asked if he’d come for comfort.” Dale shakes his head, understanding, as he keeps his eyes focused on his daughter. It used to always be the ability to find comfort in daddy. But as she grew older, he knew that he had to get used to the fact that he wouldn’t always be the comfort rock – but rather her boyfriend.

“That’s understandable. I’m not saying that he can’t come or anything. But you should also know that I’ll always be here by your side and you can talk to me about anything.” She looks over with a slight smile.

“Trust me, I’ve known that since I was a little girl and I’ll always remember that. I also remind myself how blessed I am to have two awesome parents.” She then picks her phone up, double checking her text messages. “He was supposed to meet me here like now. I told him that we were leaving and he said that he’d meet us here.”

“Maybe he’s running a little late. I’m sure he’s on his way. It could be traffic.” She shakes her head as she sees no missed calls or messages.

“Then why hasn’t he texted me to let me know? Why hasn’t he called?”

“He’s driv-”

“Hands-free calling, daddy. That’s why we have On-Star, remember?” He then rolls his eyes as he glances around.

“Give him a call then and ask where he is. If he’s too far out, give him the address and he can meet us there.” She then calls his number, and sure enough, he was running late due to traffic. She then gives him the address for the doctor’s office, in which he promises to meet them there. She then hangs up, heading out of the parking lot and down the road. “Was that too hard?”

“No…” He then gives her a smile as he glances out the window.

“So I heard from mom that your friends were being…umm….pushy for gossip?” Alyssa chuckles as she thinks back to the discussion with the girls.

“Yeah, they were a little pushy. But I mean, it’s normal. We always tell each other everything so that’s what they were expecting from me as well. It’s fine.” He then looks over at her.

“Just make sure that you can trust your friends, and they won’t backstab you. I don’t want to find out that they were just being close to you to get information and gossip.” Alyssa shakes her head, understanding. It was that reason that she had been careful who she hung around with at school, and what she told them about her life.

“Don’t worry – I’ve known these girls since kindergarten. If they were going to screw me over, it would’ve been done by now.”

“Just looking out for you.”

Chapter 63: Appointment

Alyssa pulls into the parking lot, smiling as she notices Chase’s truck parked already. She pulls in the empty spot beside it, parking the car.

“Serious puppy love!” Dale immediately comments noticing the smile on Alyssa’s face and Chase smiling as he got out of his truck. “You’re both acting like a bunch of little teens.”

“I’m still a teenager, remember?” Alyssa questions as she gets out as Dale shakes his head.

“Right because every time I tell you that you’re a little girl, you tell me that you’re a grown adult who can make her own decisions.” She then glances over at him.

“But I’ll always be my daddy’s little girl.” She then looks back over at Chase. “I just have a special boy by my side, as well.” She then wraps her arms around Chase, giving him a kiss.

“How was school?” He asks as she takes a glance back.

“That’s the first question that you ask?” She offers as he shrugs. “It was good, though. No real issues in classes, no real annoyances. A couple small pieces of homework to do later tonight. Oh, and I got 98% on a pop-quiz.”

“98?” She shakes her head yes with a sigh.

“I forgot one of the mathematical equations.” He then messes with her.

“I told you that you needed to study.” She then gives him a playful shove as he laughs. “Careful. Your daddy is watching. I don’t want him to be grossed out by our love.”

“Atleast you’re not having a public make-out session,” Dale comments. “Come on. You have the appointment, remember?” Alyssa shakes her head yes.

“I’m just glad that you were able to make it,” she tells Chase as he wraps an arm around her.

“I told you that I would be here, right?” He gives her a quick kiss before they head inside the doctor’s office with Dale.

When they get upstairs, she goes up to the desk to sign in and get told instructions.

“So she told you about her sleeping issues?” Dale questions as Chase looks over at him.

“We got talking about it Thursday night,” he comments. “She mentioned it to me out of the blue. I forget why she brought it up.” Dale shakes his head, understanding. “Do they have any idea as to what it is?” Dale shrugs his shoulders.

“The doctor mused over a couple different possibilities. It could range from sleep apnea to nightmares. That’s why she went for the tests to see.” Chase shakes his head, understanding. He could understand the nightmares. He had been through enough of that himself and could sympathize with her if that was the case.

She then glanced over at the pair, motioning for them to follow her. They then walked down the short hall and went into a small office.

“Please take a seat and the doctor will be here in a minute to discuss your results,” the desk attendant instructed before walking away. Alyssa sat in the chair in front of the doctor’s desk as Chase and Dale glanced at each other before returning their eyes to Alyssa.

“You’d think they’d have more than one chair in an office,” Chase muses as he walks up behind Alyssa, wrapping his arms around her shoulders.

“They normally at least have two chairs,” Dale comments as he leans back against the wall.

“If you want to sit, I could sit on your lap,” Alyssa says as she looks over at Dale. He shakes his head as she lets out a chuckle. “Oh come on. We did that when I was younger.”

“I’m fine…”

“Are you nervous?” Chase questions as she glances up at him. She then glances back down at her toes and lets out a sigh.

“A little. I guess you always are when you’re getting results from a doctor, though. I just want to know so I know a reason. It’ll be a sense of relief to have answers.” They then watch as the doctor walks in, closing the door behind him. He then walks and sits down behind his desk.

“I didn’t expect this to be the group here today,” Doctor Trainor states as he places her file on the desk. Alyssa follows the lump of nerves that has formed in her throat upon looking at the file.

“I wanted both my daddy and boyfriend here for support,” she states as a small smile forms on the doctor’s face.

“It’s always nice to have support in these situations. That certainly can help things.” He then opens the file, glancing over the notes. “So I received the test results from the sleep center. I understand that the first test didn’t go as you would’ve hoped as you had to redo the test, correct?” Alyssa shakes her head yes.

“Supposedly I didn’t sleep as many hours as required to collect data.” The doctor shakes his head in agreement.

“The test was useful as it eliminated a lot of possibilities and gave me an idea as to what is going on. It’s with certain that there’s some insomnia going on based on the amount of sleep that you’re getting, as listed in the journal and the test. Now, it’s not caused by sleep apnea as breathing patterns are fine.” Dale then crosses his arms, keeping his eyes on the doctor. They were there for answers and he wanted to know what was going on with his little girl. Why beat around the bush? What exactly was it?

“So, what’s causing her insomnia?” Dale wonders as the doctor keeps his eyes focused on Alyssa.

“It’s a mental aspect with regards to emotions, per the patterns that we’re seeing and the spikes that are shown in brain activity when she wakes up.” The doctor takes a deep breath. “Traumatic life events can cause nightmares, fear and a strong sense of emotions during sleep. Have you been through any, Ms. Earnhardt?” Alyssa takes a deep breath and shakes her head yes.

Chapter 64: Trauma and Insomnia

She couldn’t depict every single detail of what happened, however there were images that flashed through her mind about that moment in her childhood.

She remembered the airplane. She remembered not having her teddy bear and meeting a lady. She remembered the small box that she lied in. She remembered the big boom sound, followed by a big flash. Being older, she could put the pieces together as to what all that meant.

That, combined with the story of what happened from Dale and Steve as she had asked for them to tell her when she was 13, equaled what happened.

“I wasn’t that old when it happened,” she states. “I was four years old.” Dale closes his eyes, shaking his head as he didn’t want to think about what happened.

“She was drugged and kidnapped while on an airplane,” Dale states. “There was also a bomb that went off on the plane, while she was on it.” Dale then looks back up at the doctor. “That happened when she was four years old. That can’t be affecting her, can it?” The doctor slowly shakes his head yes as he makes a note in the file.

“When we’re children, we don’t process or reason things like we do as adults,” the doctor starts. “However, we can still have memories of it as we grow older and it can affect us, even if we don’t realize that.” The doctor then looks back at Alyssa. “Do you have any recollection of what happened?” Alyssa shakes her head yes as Chase rubs her shoulders.

“When I wake up, though, I don’t have any thought of it,” she comments.

“But it still could be bugging you and causing the problem. Beside traumatic events, another cause could be anxiety or stress. Is that a problem?” Alyssa shakes her head no.

“Nothing with regards to racing and the pressure?” Dale questions and she shakes her head no.

“I don’t let that bother at me at all,” she answers. “I stay focused on the main goal.”

“So it is more than likely traumatic related…” The doctor summarizes as Chase thinks it over.

“Can I share something?” He offers as all three look at him. “The pair of us slept together at my place and we slept together in the motorcoach the night after the XFINITY race. Both nights, she slept perfectly through the night without any issues. If this is trau-”

“When she sleeps with you, she feels safe in your arms and as a result, her mind doesn’t think about what happened at all. So it is what I thought.” Dale then glances at the pair of them and thinks it over. They were both really responsible and he truly believed that Chase wouldn’t take advantage of her in anyway. He wondered if it may be a good idea to allow her to stay in the lake house with him till they sorted through what was going on.

“Besides sleeping with her boyfriend – since he can’t be there every night – is there anything that you can do?” Dale questions.

“The nightmares go back to what happened, obviously,” the doctor starts. “To overcome nightmares, there’s two processes that you can go through.” He looks over at Dale. “I think you know what I’m discussing as we went through this, right?” Dale lets out a sigh and shakes his head yes.

“Yeah, I went through it then. Chase knows, too.” Chase shakes his head yes, remembering his experience with it.

“Unfortunately, but it does help,” he states as Alyssa lets out a small smile form.

“I guess the good news through this is I have two people who know exactly what I’m going through,” she comments and the doctor shakes his head yes.

“I would recommend setting up an appointment with her to see Rhonda Station,” the doctor states, speaking of the psychiatrist. “You could talk with her about what you’re seeing and what’s bothering you. There’s also the process of ‘Imagery Rehearsal Treatment’, which will help erase your nightmares.”

“What’s that?” Alyssa wonders as Chase rubs her shoulders.

“You think about what is in your nightmare,” he starts. “You then think of a way to change the nightmare to make it better and turn it into a positive. Then throughout the day, you pick a few minutes to imagine this altered version so when you go to sleep at night, that altered version is what you see instead.” She then looks up at him, slightly confused.

“And that works?” He shakes his head yes.

“It worked for me. I would have nightmares of drowning in an ice hole after Randy pushed me. I thought about either changing the climate, or there being a rope there to pull myself out. Both of those worked and whenever that re-occurred, it didn’t bother me.” He then gives her a kiss on the cheek. “We’ll get through this, together – I promise.”

“I’m going to let you go with those two recommendations to try,” the doctor then starts. “If they don’t work, then you can come back and we can discuss some medical options that can be used. However, with the combination of these two, I think you’ll be fine. You’re a lucky girl to have these two by your side.”

“Don’t worry – I don’t take them for granted,” she tells the doctor. They all then thank the doctor for his time before leaving together. They head outside as Alyssa glances over at Chase. “Are you coming with us back to JRM? I got to drive Dad back.” Dale and Chase glance over at each other.

“That’s fine,” he states. He then gets in the truck, following them back to the shop.

Dale kept quiet the entire ride, thinking about things. They said that you couldn’t escape the past, and the past was a gift that kept on giving it seemed. He glanced over at his daughter and couldn’t help but smile at how she had grown, continuing to remind himself how lucky he was that day. Taking a deep breath, he knew that they were going to get through this.

He also wondered about his other thought that he had while in the doctor’s office. She was still in school, she was his little girl. However, given the situation, would it be so bad if he gave her permission to stay with Chase each night at the lake house and the motorcoach? He trusted them both to be responsible, and it’d give him comfort knowing that she was getting a good sleep.

They reach JR Motorsports as they all get out of their respective vehicles.

“I’m going to go check in and see how things are coming for this weekend,” Alyssa states as Chase shakes his head, understanding. “Then, do you want to go out for dinner?”

“Aren’t I supposed to ask if I can take you out to dinner?” He questions in return and she chuckles. “Besides, you have homework, remember?”

“I can do it after dinner, Chase. I want to spend some time with you.” Chase then glances over at Dale.

“As long as your dad is okay with it.” Dale glances between them and smiles. Besides, it’d give him a chance to talk to Marie about what the doctor said and his thoughts.

“That’s fine,” he states as Alyssa runs off with a smile on her face. “Chase!” Chase then stops and looks over at Dale. Dale walks over, glancing around to make sure nobody was standing around. “I appreciate you being there. You’re really and truly her prince by how you take care of her.” Chase smiles.

“I told you that I loved your daughter a lot and I wouldn’t screw this up,” he reminds Dale as Dale smiles. “No matter what, I’m going to be by her side. I’m going to help her work on those strategies that doctor suggested. If she needs to go see Rhonda, I’m going to go with her to offer support. You don’t have to worry.”

“I’m not worried.” Chase then takes a deep breath, thinking about their conversation over the weekend.

“I’ve thought about what you said on Saturday, as well. I’m going to talk to her about what happened when I believe the time is right. She deserves to hear it from my perspective, even if she knows details via others or even Google. I just don’t feel that time is right this minute, but rather as we get closer together.” He then glances down, thinking it over. “Perhaps the pair of us will share a tell-all night and she can tell me what she remembers that plane ride, and I can tell her what I remember from everything.”

“When I mentioned that to you, I didn’t mean that you had to tell her right away. I just thought of it becau-” Chase smiles as he remembers what Regan had to say when they talked about it.

“You care about your little girl, and want to be make sure that she’s taken care of. You want her to understand every bit of me before she gets into this too deep, right?” Dale lets out a sigh and shakes his head yes. “It’s fine. It’s a father worry. I understand.”

“So you’ll understand when there’s a shot-gun sitting on the porch if you’re late?” Chase laughs.

“I know you won’t shoot me.” Dale gives him a grin.

“Don’t test me, kid.” Chase shrugs his shoulders as he opens the door to the shop.

“I can test those waters all I want because I know the truth. You looove me.” Dale laughs as he follows him inside the shop.

“If you for any reason hurt my daughter, that love will not exist.” Chase looks back with a smile.

“I got nothing to worry about.”

Chapter 65: Post Appointment

“Do you want to get changed first?” Chase offers as they stand in the driveway together. With both of them having a car, he had followed her back to the house so they could just head out in one car together.

“Are we going someplace fancy?” She questions as he shrugs his shoulders. He hadn’t really planned the dinner out. He just knew that he wanted to take her out to give her a bit of peace of mind after the appointment, and figured that having her out of the house would be good for when Dale talked to Marie about things.

“We can go wherever you want to go. I hadn’t even planned anything yet. I also figured that you may want to get out of your normal school looking outfit.” She glanced down at her t-shirt and jeans before returning her eyes to him.

“What’s wrong with this?” He throws his arms up in the air.

“I can’t win, can I? There’s nothing wrong with it! I was just suggesting!” She lets out a sigh as she grabs her backpack from the car.

“I’m going to take this inside and put it up in my room. While I’m up there, I’ll get changed into a skirt rather than the jeans, since jeans are improper for dates, so I hear. Then we can go out and you can choose where to take me. We’ll see if you got the stuff to make a good date.” Chase looks at her surprised as she walks away.

“I scored points on the first date, right?” She then glances back with a smile.

“That doesn’t get you brownie points for the second.” She then heads inside as he shakes his head.

He didn’t have to worry, though, as he already knew where he was taking her. It’d be something simple again, but that was perfect for them as he knew she wasn’t the fancy type of girl. Besides, this was meant as a little getaway for the pair of them.

While she was gone, he grabbed his phone and dialed Ryan’s number. The pair had talked about hanging out that night with a couple video games since Ryan’s girlfriend was busy, however Chase knew those plans were cancelled now given the details of the day.

“Hello?” Ryan answers.

“Hey,” Chase says. “It’s Chas-”

“I know who it is, dummy. Where are you?” Chase lets out a sigh.

“Listen, I’m going to have to cancel. Something came up with Alyssa.” Ryan’s immediate gut feeling was something was wrong based on the tone of Chase’s voice.

“What’s wrong?” Chase shakes his head.

“There’s nothing wrong. Well…..it’s complicated, okay? Well okay – it’s not. It’s jus-”

“Did you guys have a fight?” Ryan could only think of that based on Chase’s perplexed tone.

“No! She’s been having issues sleeping and she just went to the doctors and it’s due to nightmares and….it’s jus-”

“You don’t need to say anymore – I get it. It’s an emotional roller coaster and you want to treat your girl because you feel bad for her since you know the pain. It’s fine, man. I can find someone else to hang out with or amuse myself. You don’t need to worry.” Chase lets out a sigh as it was nice to have supportive friends who understood things.

“Thanks man, I appreciate that.” Ryan couldn’t help but think back to the times that he and Chase had spent together through the years. There were times when he’d be doing the same type of thing for Chase – cheering him up to help him with whatever.

“It’s alright. I told you that I’d always be your friend and be there for you, and that includes letting you help your girlfriend. If you need someone to talk to through this – besides the parents – you know where to find me.” Chase smiles, having gotten a hold of Ryan a couple of times through the years.

“Sounds good.” He then lets out a sigh as he leans back against the truck. “You know, we talked at the appointment that it’d be best if she talks about what’s going on and then how to turn those nightmares into good moments. Part of that would probably include myself telling her what happened to me.” Ryan lays back on the couch as he could immediately tell the change of tone in Chase’s voice.

“Are you ready to be honest with her and tell her, though?” Chase knew that was a difficult factor. It had been a long time since everything that happened, but that didn’t mean that the pain had disappeared.

“I know that I can go through with talking about it – I’ve done that with you, Bubba, my parents, Dale, Regan, and others. However, this is different. I love her. She loves me. We have a deep caring for each other.” Ryan shook his head, understanding.

“If it was easy, you would’ve done it already. No doubt it’ll be rough waters and no doubt it’ll include some tears and shock. However, in the end, it’ll make you both stronger to tell each other what you’ve both been through. It’ll bring you closer together and give you a deeper understanding. It’ll allow that connection to form that every pair of lovers has. With that said, you can’t rush it and you should do it when you feel the time is right, just like she’ll tell you what she remembers and wants to say when the time is right.” Chase knew that Ryan was right in that advice. It was the same piece of advice that Regan had told him, as well. But yet, it didn’t resonate like he would’ve thought it should.

“So how do I know when the time is right?” Ryan knew that question didn’t have a dead-dot answer.

“You’ll know in your heart. It’ll just happen. Stop worrying about it.” Chase lets out a sigh, wishing it was that easy. However, with knowing the details of Alyssa’s nightmares and the need to discuss, it didn’t seem that easy.

“Alright, fine. Listen, I’m going to let you go. I’ll talk to you later.”

“You know where to find me. Bye Chase.”

“Bye Ryan.” Chase then hangs up as he watches Alyssa walk out of the house, redressed in her skirt. “You look mighty fine.”

“Thank you,” she tells him as she walks over. “Are you ready to go?”

“Let’s hit the road,” he replies, giving her a kiss on the cheek before opening her door. She then hops up in the truck as he closes the door behind her. He goes over to his side, getting in.

“So where are we going?”

“That’s a surprise.” He then heads out, set to give her a fun night – but knowing not to be too late as she had homework still to do.

At the house, Dale was spending the time telling Marie everything that the doctor had said while she made dinner for the other two rugrats.

She hated not going as well, but had her own business to take care of with the latest batch of country documents. She wanted to know the details, though, so she knew how to help their daughter.

Dale went through each and every detail, explaining the sleep study results, the reasons for the results and how they could improve things in the future. He explained the recreation of dreams protocol, as well as talking about everything and possibly speaking with a psychiatrist.

“In other words, I’m the bad parent for not talking about what happened with her sooner,” Dale summed it up, catching Marie’s attention. She then walks over to where Dale leaned over the counter, wrapping her arms around him.

“You’re not a bad paren-” She starts.

“I avoided talking about it with her because I didn’t want to think about what happened and the fear of losing my daughter. I tried to make it as if nothing happened. However, here she is at the age of 18 with flashbacks to what happened and nightmares because I didn’t do the right thing as a parent.” She then rubs his shoulders a little.

“You’re a good parent. You’ve helped raise three wonderful children who are all well behaved – well, except for Elsa’s minor attitude issues but that’s typical teenager. You’ve done everything that you need to do for your ki-”

“Except face the big issue at ha-”

“And your reasons for not facing it are understandable, and would have no one angry at you. I’m sure Alyssa isn’t mad at you for how you’ve handled things and that’s all that matters. It’s not your fault for what happened, or your fault for not talking about it with her sooner. We’ll get through this, just like every other storm that’s blown through here. But beating yourself up over it isn’t going to help. Instead, you should be focusing on how to make things better.” Marie then walks away and goes back over to the stove, checking on dinner as Dale thinks it over.

He knew there was a way to help make things better based on Chase’s comments at the doctor’s office. She felt a special sort of comfort with him and that comfort gave her the sleep that she badly needed. He also trusted the fact that she’d do the smart thing and he wouldn’t take advantage of her based on how well he knew Chase. There was the fact that they wouldn’t be that far away from the house, either, so it wasn’t like she was leaving town or anything. Besides, some personal time with Chase may help bring out her feelings as the pair set-up their own little confession time together.

“I have a suggestion,” Dale starts as he wondered what Marie’s reaction would be. “Chase stated that when he and Alyssa slept together in Daytona and at his parent’s house, she slept through the night without any issues. She feels a special sort of comfort with him. I want to make sure that she’s sleeping well each night with the busy racing schedule and school. With that said, I think we should let her slee-”

“No way!” Marie snaps as she looks over at him. “There is no way that is happening under my watch, Dale. It’s already hard enough to trust them simply being together with the age gap and the fact that’s my little girl. I’m just coming to grips with the fact that they’re together and understanding it – and now you want to allow them to sleep together each night? Really?” Dale crosses his arms and shakes his head yes.

“Give me one good damn reason why we shouldn’t let them. Give me one good reason why you can’t trust Chase with her.”

Chasing The Love – Chapter 36 Thru 40

Chapter 36: Daytona 500 Pre-Race

“We have to go see Chase and Alyssa after the race,” Ty comments as he wraps his arm around Hayley following driver introductions.

“Oh really?” She questions as she looks at him.

“He wants to talk to us about their relationship.” Hayley shakes her head as she glances down pit road at Chase.

“I don’t see why he has to have that meeting with us. It’s not like they should have to explain themselves.” Ty rolls his eyes, not wanting to get into this discussion again with her.

“I told you my thoughts and that’s where I’m leaving this discussion. My guess is I’m the not the only person who doesn’t agree and there’s going to be some heated debate.” Hayley lets out a sigh.

“It doesn’t matters what everybody thinks. As long as they love each other, that’s all that matters. They shouldn’t have to answer to anyone. You don’t see everybody else having to answer to their friends over stuff, do you?” Ty lets out a sigh.

“Obviously you forgot the definition of gossip, but of course you’re innocent.” She then rolls her eyes as she looks away, but Ty knew by the lack of response that he was saying the truth. “Besides, we aren’t the only ones that he invited. He invited Cole since he kno-“

“You told Cole?” Ty goes to say no as she gives him a look. She then smacks his arm “Ty!!”

“I told him that I’d let him know how the dinner went.” She then lets out a sigh.

“Right – the dinner. Nothing else beyond that needed to be said. I told you not to say anything!” Ty then glances down, knowing that he was probably the blamed party here. “Let me guess. Cole told someone?”

“Cindy overheard us discussing things.” Hayley lets out a sigh, shaking her head. Leave it up to the boys to make it harder on Chase and Alyssa.

“I hope that he gives you a big huge lecture after this race is over for what you’ve done.” He then goes to say something as she just glances away, now extra annoyed with the topic. She just hoped that Alyssa was strong enough to handle the critics that were going to be thrown her way.

It seemed as though the critics would be saying something sooner than anybody would’ve warranted as rumors started kicking up around the garage. Little by little, more drivers were learning about the possibility of them together. One of the drivers that overheard the discussion was Cameron, who made his way over to Chase.

“Is it true?” Cameron simply asks, catching a glance from Chase.

“Who told you?” Chase questions in return, basically answering the question for Cameron.

“It’s being slowly passed through the garage…” Chase lets out a sigh with an eye roll as he leans against the car.

“I told Karsyn and she told Hayley, who told Ty and Ty told Cole and then Emma and Marshall kicked up the bloody idea so this was only a matter of time. Just lovely…” Cameron then crosses his arms, glancing around. He was surprised that Alyssa wasn’t anywhere in sight.

“Did you honestly think that you could keep it hidden forever?” Chase shakes his head no as he looks back at his teammate.

“I figured that we could keep it secret for at least a week. We were going to tell our parents next Friday and then ell the world after the weekend. It seems those plans are thrown out the window.” Cameron knew the pair could talk, and the fact that Chase could probably use a friend on this topic.

“Just take it with stride and ignore it. They’ll make a big deal, some people complaining and others supporting. It’ll blow over in a couple weeks and we’ll be on to some other big story. You can both handle the storm.” Chase looks over with a slight smile.

“Thanks. I appreciate the kind words. You win the nice award of the day.”

“Does that mean that you’re going to push me to the Daytona 500 win?” Chase then laughs and shakes his head no.

“That just means that since you’re extra nice, you’re going to push me.” Cameron shakes his head no as he crosses his arms.

“This is my year, buddy. You’ve done this enough times. You need to share.” Chase shakes his head no as Cameron glances away, before returning his eyes to Chase. “Don’t mind me asking, but how long have you been with Alyssa?” Given the relaxed state of the conversation, he felt confident discussing the details with Cameron.

“Since Friday. I told her in the morning. We then agreed on Saturday morning that we would keep it quiet. I then stayed at her place on Saturday nigh-”

“Already?” Chase then looks over at Cmaeron shocked and shakes his head no with a laugh.

“No, we didn’t do that. She needed some comfort as she wasn’t feeling well so I cuddled her. That was all that happened – I swear to whatever power you’ll make me swear to. Then this morning, a bomb blew up in my face.” Cameron shakes his head, understanding. He had heard about the dinner that Ty had planned and now saw how that fit in, shaking his head.

“Why is it that Hayley and Ty are always mixing everything up and creating drama?” Chase could only think back to his words the night before.

“Because she thinks she’s bloody Cupid and can set the world up. Perhaps if she stayed out of everybody’s business, along with Emma and Marshall, everything would be much better.”

“That’d be too easy. Listen, I got to go to my car…” Cameron then goes to leave when Chase grabs his arm, catching his attention.

“You’re going by Dale. Tell Alyssa that I promise to be safe and I love her…please.” Cameron shakes his head yes, agreeing, before making his way down pit road. Chase then leans back against the car and lets out a sigh.

The sooner the race started, the better things would be.

Chapter 37: Daytona 500

So….everything that happens….your favourite or not…blame the random number generator. I always use it when it comes to these “race” chapters so I don’t have my favourite win every time haha
“Just play it smart – long race today,” Greg Ives says on the radio.

“10-4,” Chase comments, just wanting to get it started.

The green flag then flies for the Daytona 500 with the field immediately spreading out into three-wide formation. Though the intense battling throughout the field doesn’t pan out well for some people, as Gray Gaulding would get into Cameron Hayley on lap five. The result would be Cameron Hayley getting completely sideways and taking Gaulding to the wall with him. in the process of trying to escape the wreck, several cars take the evasive action through the infield grass.

“Car looks fine…” Chase’s spotter tells the team across the radio afterwards.

“I had to go through the grass – no question,” Chase tells the team.

“10-4 We will get it fixed,” Greg assures him as he glances down at the team. They knew the task at hand.

“Front valence looks good – fenders look fine,” the spotter starts rambling off. “Splitter looks like it’s pushed up a little.” Chase lets out a sigh as that should be obvious.

“Well duh I went through the grass!” Chase comes across the radio. “If that’s the only damage, I’d consider myself lucky as I about creamed Cam. What was Gray thinking?”

“Not using his brains or being smart,” Greg offers with a sigh as he leans back on the pit box. “Come in this time.” Greg then watches Chase bring the car down pit road with the pit crew immediately going to work to repair the damage. He also noticed others hitting pit road for damage repairs as well, including their teammate Karsyn and Ryan Blaney. It’d give them a couple of good cars around them to work with to get back to the front. However, that wasn’t the main thought on his mind as he thought about his driver. Chase was normally calm on the radio about things and just took it all in stride. However, it seemed a little more on edge today. “Just be smart here…relax. Long way to go. It’s only lap five of 200.”

“10-4,” Chase simply answers as he gets himself lined up for the restart.

“Chase – don’t let the off-track stuff distract you,” a new voice chimes in, causing Greg to smile. He immediately recognized Bill’s voice. It also got Greg thinking as to what could possibly be going on. “Just focus on what you need to do.”

“10-4.”

The field then went back to green with Ella leading the field back to the green flag. Chase immediately put everything aside, focusing on getting back to the front as he tagged onto Blaney’s bumper and was set to push him through.

Their progress wouldn’t go as well as Chase hoped, though, as they were stuck in the middle of the pack around the halfway mark. With everybody running three-wide, it made progress real hard and real slow as there was simply nowhere to go. He knew getting closer and closer to the end of the race that they’d need to catch a break with green flag pit stops, and somehow avoid the next big wreck if it happened. The intensity was easily continuing to build with each passing lap and they were certain to have someone make a mistake if they kept running three-wide.

Stuck on the outside for some laps, stuck in the middle for other laps trying to find some running room, the laps continued to tick away and before everybody knew it, they were at 50 laps to go.

“We’re pitting with Blaney – gonna try and get you closer to the front,” Greg comments on the radio. “2 more laps till we pit, bud.” Sitting on the pit box, Greg could only continue to chew piece after piece of gum, in hopes that they found some sort of relaxation.

“How am I supposed to?” Chase buts out quick in between comments from his spotter. It was going to be impossible to get out of the middle and down pit road.

“Bottom lane is pitting lap before.” Greg knew to keep his comments and short as possible so the spotter could continue to rely important information.

The plan played to perfection as the bottom lane was able to peel off and pit nicely, with Chase pitting the next lap with Ryan and a couple others. Getting as much as he could getting on and off – without penalty, and the crew giving him a fast stop happened in quick succession. He also made sure to get Ryan and Karysn tucked back up behind him as soon as they got back on track.

As scoring sorted itself out, Greg could only shake his head in shock as he looked at the monitor. It was strange how these plate races played out sometimes.

“You’re P1 kid, P1…” His spotter says before Greg can relay the information. “Blaney following you bottom…no runs on the top right now.”

They only had to keep the field behind them for the next 50 laps. Easy right?

In thought, it was, but it wasn’t in practice. Chase was set on blocking the roads, but kept making sure to tuck back to the bottom to not let Ryan fall back much. After they had worked together all day, it’d suck to watch that partnership fall apart. Though making sure to keep Ryan with him proved costly as the outside lane was able to form a good run with Dale leading. Dale was then able to get to his outside, pulling ahead for the lead with 38 laps to go with help from Karsyn. The distance would continue to grow as the bottom lane didn’t get tightly formed as Chase would’ve hoped with Dale’s Chevrolet solidly pulled ahead.

Seeing as the top lane was continuing to grow their advantage, he backed as much as he could to Ryan, watching as the nose of Karsyn’s car edged ahead, hoping the pair of friends could rekindle the magic that had gotten them to the front.

The Daytona 500 would turn into the battle of the lines, with the lower line slowly beginning to gain momentum once again. Chase watched as his nose peaked out in front of Dale’s with 10 laps to go. If Ryan could keep pushing as he was, the lead would be his.

Ryan would follow through, getting Chase back out front as Chase resumed his role of blocking both sides of the street. He just knew that this time, he was going to do things different. He was going to watch both lines carefully, and if Ryan fell back, it was too late to care about with friends with being so late in the race.

Chase played the blocking card game right….all the way till 4 to go. As he went to block Dale, Ryan would get a perfectly timed push from his teammate Tyler Reddick, allowing his Ford to pull alongside Chase’s Chevrolet.

The final laps of the Great American Race were coming down to a battle between friends.

As the final laps ticked away, the pair of lines ran side by side in a dead heat. Ryan would gain a little with a push from Tyler, but Chase would gain it back with a push from Dale. As the fans watched on in the stands, they held their breathes, debating who would win and hoping for no big wreck to finish the race off.

They’d get their wish as no wreck happened (somehow) with the pair of drivers crossing the line side by side, inches apart. All immediately laid eyes on the scoring monitor…

“So close!” Greg lets out as he watches the names pop up in order on the screen. “Scoring monitor says Ryan got you by a nose. Great race, kid!”

“Thanks for the strong car,” Chase comments. While he wanted to be disappointed in losing the biggest race by just that bit, he couldn’t be in watching his best friend take the win instead. “That was fun! Way to go Ryan!”

Chapter 38: Post Daytona 500
“Are you ready for this?” Chase questions as he pulls Alyssa close to them. They had told everyone to meet them in the Sprint Cup garage area. It was empty now with the cars loaded up and set to head home, and big enough to hold everyone.

“I think…” Alyssa answers quietly.

“Listen, it doesn’t matter what they say. I truly love you and will always love you. Let them think what they want to think.” She shakes her head in agreement as she glances up at him.

“Then why are we doing this?” He lets out a sigh, having asked himself the same very question since setting up the meeting.

“Rather than play the runaround, let’s be adults and tell them straight up. They deserve to hear it clearly from us, rather than play the high school runaround game. Is that fair?” She shakes her head yes. “Then let’s go.”

They then make their way out of his trailer and head over to the empty Spring Cup garage, holding hands the whole way. They walk down to the end, going into the first empty stall as they see the group of people standing there. They both let their eyes run across the group seeing Dale, Marie, Cindy, Bill, Ty, Hayley, Cameron, Cole, Leo and Karsyn all standing there, looking at the pair closely. He knew that Emma and Marshall were also requested to join them, but wasn’t surprised to not see them.

Chase takes a glance over at Alyssa, before looking back towards the group as he takes a deep breath.

“Thanks for coming to our makeshift meeting,” he starts. “We have a lot to say and we’d appreciate if you keep your comments to yourself for the time being. Let us say what we want to say about the situation and then you can say what you want to say. Truthfully, though, we’re both adults and deserve to make our decisions for ourself.” Chase then looks over at Alyssa and gives her a slight nod as she takes a deep breath.

“Leo, I know we had a great relationship and everything,” she says. “I also know that hearing that Chase and I are together is a shock. I want you to know, and I swear to you by anything out there, that this has nothing to do with us. I was truly committed to you the whole time. I made the decision to break up with you on Thursday for the reasons that I told you. They had nothing to do with Chase. He only told me that he liked me on Friday.”

“I have liked her for a long time, but I didn’t want to say anything. She was fully in love with Leo and fully committed to him, and I didn’t want to ruin that. However, given that didn’t work out for the reasons she stated, I made the decision to say something to her. I knew if I never said anything that I’d regret it.”

“When he told me, I was shocked – but it totally made sense. There were times that I’d find myself glancing over at him and wondering what could be – and perhaps that’s why things didn’t work out, Leo. Perhaps because I wasn’t truly committed and fulfilled with the partnership. When he told me, I accepted – I said to him that I’d give him a chance. I didn’t know whether it was what I truly wanted, but I was open to going on a couple dates and spending time together. That’s how far we are with the relationship, right now.”

“And what about Saturday night?” Marie questions, having heard from Cindy about Chase staying over night.

“What did I say about questions?” Chase asks as he glances over at Marie.

“Based on her comments, the question seems vali-”

“We didn’t have sex if that’s what you want to know!” Alyssa lets out, causing everybody to look between the pair shocked. “I’m guessing that’s everybody thinks we did Saturday night. Well, that wasn’t the case. I had a real bad stomach cramp and Chase had simply showed up to check on me after going out to dinner with Ty, Hayley and Karsyn. He then offered to cuddle and comfort me as I waited for the pain killers to work. It got late and he then said that he was going to leave. I told him no because I wanted to lay in his arms over night since it was comfy and comforting. Are you happy?”

“Not rea-” Marie starts as Dale shoots her a look.

“I told you that she was responsible, and I told you that this arrangement is fine by all means,” Dale cuts her off as she crosses her arms.

“And I told you that I thought it wasn’t a good id-”

“Can you guys finish this later?” Chase interrupts them, as they both look towards him. “I have more that I’d like to say about things so far.” Dale shakes his head, understanding, as Chase glances towards Alyssa. They had discussed previously about what they wanted to say and were set on taking turns back and forth in addressing each part of the mess.

“Mom, Dad – I didn’t want you to find out this way,” Alyssa starts. “We were content on telling you next Friday as we felt a week to see things would be a good start before saying something. We didn’t think that things would get spread like they had before, and I’m sorry. I wanted to be the first to say something to you and I wanted to be able to explain things to you so you’d understand. Hopefully, you can grow to be accepting.” Dale smiled as there was no growing to accepting as he understood things so far. He trusted his daughter’s judgement, and knew that Chase wouldn’t pull anything stupid. Besides, they’d been together for a night and he hadn’t gone for the sex route. Marie, on the other hand, still couldn’t find a way to come to grips with it.

“Same goes for you…” Chase adds as he looks over at his parents. “That was our plan all the way along, and I’m sorry that you found out like you did. However, it is what it is. You heard my piece this morning and that’s all I have to say.” Cindy shakes her head, understanding. She had thought about what Chase had to say since the morning and was slowly finding a way to agree with his decision. As far as Bill was concerned, things were still iffy on his thoughts. “Now, for the rest of you….” Chase took a deep breath, resisting the urge to yell at them for their behavior. It seemed like high school behavior in his mind.

“Leo, I have said what I want to say in regards to things. I hope that you understand and I hope that we can remain friends. Beyond that, if you have anything you want to ask, the door is open.” Leo keeps his eyes locked on the floor, not knowing what to say. Perhaps he was still locked in the moment of shocked.

“Karsyn, I think we covered things last night so I’m going to leave it at that. I also want to say that I’m not mad at you for saying something to Hayley. You were heartbroken and needed comfort – that’s understandable. I’m not going to yell at you for that.” She shakes her head in agreement as she lets out a sigh.

“I’m sorry for being so hard on you last night,” she starts. “It’s just I was shocked to hear your confession, and perhaps slightly angry because I’ve had a crush on you. Though if you’re both happy, I’m happy.” Chase could only smile as he was slowly getting more people to side with them. It would mean less drama moving forward.

“Hayley, in that respect, you didn’t need to go and tell your husband since it was told in confidence,” Chase continues. “But, I also understand the need to share details between a married couple so I’m not going to stand here and yell at you.”

“But we’re not happy, regardless,” Alyssa adds, still frustrated with the situation.

“As for you, Ty, I could strangle right now. Oh, and I’m going to add Cole to that list, too. This morning, when my mom told me that she heard it from you both because you were gossiping in the motorcoach lot, it was all I could do to not come yell at you both. How old are we? Are we in high school anymore? To be in our 30s and gossiping like high school kids is ridiculous! I can’t believe that behavior. I thought I left that behind a good 10 years ago. Seriously, grow up and mature!”

“To act like you did, it’s highly disrespectful and not fair to any of us. I thought being friends that you’d be more respectful. You’re lucky that I haven’t punched each of you, yet.” Chase takes a deep breath as he looks over the whole group.

“I know some of you agree, and I know of you obviously don’t agree. However, we love each other and we plan on being together, no matter who doesn’t agree. So….” He takes a deep breath as he shares a glance with Marie. “Let’s hear it. Anybody have anything that they want to say?

Chapter 39: The Discussion
“I know some of you agree, and I know of you obviously don’t agree,” Chase starts. “However, we love each other and we plan on being together, no matter who doesn’t agree. So….” He takes a deep breath as he shares a glance with Marie. “Let’s hear it. Anybody have anything that they want to say?”

“As long as you promise to take care of her, I don’t have anything to say,” Dale comments as Chase smiles.

“Dale, have I ever not taken care of your daughter, right? I’ve babysat this girl and watched her grow up. You don’t have to worry.”

“I know…”

“So wait – you’re not going to give him the big talk?” Cole questions, catching their attention. “Hey, I agree with them being together so that’s not why I said that. it’s just you always hear of the girl’s father having a talk with the guy to make sure that he doesn’t hurt his little girl.” Dale smiles as he keeps his eyes on Chase.

“I’ve known him long enough,” Dale starts. “He also knows me, and knows I’ll do anything for Alyssa. Plus, I have a lot of property, remember?” Chase chuckles lightly at that thought, knowing the reference as Alyssa shakes her head with a sigh.

“Unlike him, I do have a lot that I’d like to say to both of you,” Marie comments, catching their attention.

“Mar-”

“Dale, it’s fine,” Chase interrupts him as he takes a deep breath. “It’s to be expected. Where would you like to begin, Queen?” Marie thinks over the possibilities of the comments that she could say. There was the age, the previous relationships, the type of relationship they had to the fact that just didn’t spell love period.

“I just don’t see anything between you both that says loves,” she starts. “I see a buddy friendship.” Chase thinks it over as he glances over at Alyssa. He knew that Marie’s approval would mean a lot. Beyond simply dating his best friend’s daughter, he was dating a princess. Something that would require a lot more thought at a later date.

“The buddy friendship is what brought us to get to know each other,” Alyssa comments. “As we did, I began to feel more – and that’s something that he also commented upon. I started to imagine myself being with him all the time, cuddled up with him and really close. That’s why when he said something, I openly accepted. Whether there’s truly something there as you say you don’t see, that’s yet to be seen, honestly. We just started dating on Friday, remember. Anything can happen between now and the future. Perhaps it’ll grow to more and we’ll keep it going, and perhaps you’ll see that love blossom. Though if there isn’t, we’ll go back to being friends. We’ve talked about this already, Mom.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to run off to Vegas and immediately get hitched with her. I’m going to take my time.” Ty, Cole and Cameron all break out laughing as Dale gives him a look.

“Do that and you’ll lose your manlyhood,” Dale states as Chase looks over at him shocked.

“That’s my son you’re talking about!” Cindy says as Dale glances over at her.

“And that’s my daughter. I’m just telling him the truth, Cindy. I’ m giving him warning.”

“Remember – you’ll have to answer to me…” She then looks back over at Chase. “But, he’s right. Don’t be doing that as you’re never too old for a lecture from your mother.”

“I learned that today…” Chase comments quietly, referencing their pre-race conversation as Cindy lets out a sigh.

“I’m sorry that I came in and yelled at you. I was just shocked about hearing the news and I was in the same shoes as Marie. But, you’re slowly convincing me…slowly.”

“That’s a start!” Alyssa comments as she leans her head against Chase as they look over the group. Based on things so far, it wasn’t as bad as it could be.

“While you’re changing your opinion Cindy, I still have the same feelings for these two,” Marie shares as Alyssa lets out a sigh. She didn’t want to argue with her mom about this. “I’m sorry, but how old are you? 18, right? You’re just old enough to be a adult and make your own decisions. He’s 32 and a full grown adult, knowing everything. Something seem wrong about this picture?” The pair both shakes their head no as Chase keeps his eyes locked on Marie’s. His parents seemed fine and Dale seemed fine, and out of the rest standing there, Marie was all that truly mattered. He could deal with Ty and Leo not agreeing as that was…well, that.

“I will never, ever, take advantage of your daughter simply based on the age argument,” Chase starts. “I’m not going to force her into something that she doesn’t want to do just because she’s younger than me. I’ve had my heart broken before and I know what that feels like, beyond just Emma. We’re not going to do that to each other so I will never, ever, hurt or manipulate your daughter. In my mind, age is just a number in this relationship and nothing more.” Marie rolls her eyes as she wasn’t convinced based on that.

“Age is just a number that can be used to be controlling without even knowing it. While you say that you won’t and don’t intend to, you could lead her to something based on being the older, wiser one in the relatio-”

“Do you honestly hear what you’re saying right now?” Dale cuts her off, catching her attention. “Before you bring up that argument, remember that you’re talking about Chase. One of the most mature, sweet, hell even innocent boys that you’ll ever meet. Has he ever crossed the boundaries of non-innocence? Has he ever pushed those barriers with anyone? That is something that you don’t need to worry about!” Marie takes a deep breath.

“Dal-”

“The whole age argument is something that I can’t believe you’re bringing up,” Dale continues without giving her a chance. “I know a lot of people who loved each other that were more than 10 years apart. Look at my dad and Teresa, and how much they loved each other. They were 11 years apart, Marie! I’ve seen it first hand how it can work and for you to stand here and say this is ridiculous! I can’t believe you’d accuse Chase of such ideas.”

“Well since I’m not going to get a word in with him standing here, we’ll be talking later.” Marie then leaves the room as Alyssa rolls her eyes with a sigh.

“Let me go talk to her…” Chase says as he goes to leave the group, though Dale stops him.

“Going and talking to her while she’s upset and on a rage isn’t going to work,” Dale tells him. “Just focus on your relationship with Alyssa and as that grows, she’ll come around. It just takes her a bit to understand. You have to understand that she’s been through a lot with how her father ran her country before and things that didn’t go so well in love.” Chase shakes his head yes slowly, with a sigh.

“I just wanted her approval. To get the approval from both you and Marie would mean everything.” Dale shakes his head, understanding, giving Chase a hug before walking off to find Marie.

“Patience is a virtue – use it wisely,” Bill comments as he glances back towards the direction that Marie headed off. Chase glances over at Alyssa with a slight smile, though feels himself letting out a sigh as well. He could only hope that Marie changed her mind soon.

“I know…”

Chapter 40: Return Home
Chase walks into Dale and Marie’s house after getting done at Hendrick Motorsports for the day, walking down the main hallway towards the dining room.

“Hey, you can’t waltz righ-” Marie starts as she sees him on her way down the stairs.

“Your daughter let me in,” he states as Marie glances around. “Elsa.”

“Elsa!” Elsa shrugs her shoulders as she walks past her mom up to her room.

“I heard a knock and glanced out and saw Chase,” she starts. “He’s always been allowed in before.” Marie just rolls her eyes as Chase continues his way to the dining room.

He knew where Alyssa would be. Being that it was Tuesday and she had gotten home from school a couple hours ago, she’d be working on homework. There were probably a couple assignments to do with being away for the previous week, so she’d probably be finishing those up, as well as the new stuff. He also knew that she didn’t have an easy semester with English, Physic and Algebra on her plate.

“You better be doing your homework missy,” he comments as he sneaks up behind her and wraps his arms around her, looking over her shoulder at a book report she was writing. She then laughs as she glances over of her shoulder at him.

“It’s not going to get done itself and Dad threatened to take away the racecar if I didn’t maintain my grades,” she replies as Chase simply smiles.

“He just wants the best for you, and completing school with good grades is near the top of the priority list.” He then kisses her cheek before sitting down in the chair beside her. “So, are you over your woman thing?” She then gives him a smack as he laughs.

“Just about, actually. The cramps are gone so that helps.” He shakes his head, understanding, as he picks up the book that she was reading, glancing it over.

“Lord of the Flies. They’re still making you read this?” She shakes her head yes with a sigh.

“It’s the most boring-”

“Dreadful book ever written about nine boys on an island. Don’t worry, I didn’t enjoy reading it either.”
“I can’t believe we read ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ for January, and then follow it with this. I can only hope that Mr. Shakesphere did a good job writing Romeo and Juliet.” Chase thinks back as he remembered reading the play, continuously shaking his head at how their perception of love was. However, it brought it back to today.

“I feel like Romeo in a way. I have a future mother-in-law who doesn’t like me.” She then glances towards the kitchen where Marie was working on dinner, before glancing back at Chase.

“I know that she’s being a big pain in the ass right now, but give her time. She’s just worried about me. Let’s just see where things go and it goes, she’ll probably get easier to deal with.” Chase could only hope that was the truth as he didn’t want to deal with that all the time. “Besides, I’m an adult and can make my own decisions, and you have my daddy’s support.” She then leans over and gives him a little kiss on the cheek before focusing back on her book report.

“I know….It just, her approval means a lot to me.” Alyssa lets out a sigh as she looks over at Chase once again.

“I get that, but remember – we’re really early into the relationship. We’ve only been together for four days, Chase. You still haven’t taken me on a date, anyway. Give it time.” He then sits back, watching her as she goes over a note that she made about a chapter before adding it into the book report.

“So when am I going to get to take you out to dinner, Ms. Earnhardt?” She then raises her eyebrows in surprise as she looks over.

“That’s a good question, Mr. Elliott. When are you free?”

“I am free whenever you are free, my dear. Just tell me the day that you’re available to go out for dinner.” She then thinks it over, glancing over at her school schedule notes.

“What about Wednesday night? I need tonight and Tuesday to get caught back up on school work, but Wednesday should be good. I can get everything done by 6:30 and go out with you. Oh, and I have to ask my daddy for permission.” Chase then watches her in surprise.

“I thought you were the adult that got to make your own decisions?” She then smiles as she looks over.

“I can make my own decisions, but I still live under my parent’s roof so therefore I need to follow their rules. Those rules include asking for permission to go out on school nights and being home by 10 on school nights, 11 on non-school nights – unless I have special permission.” Chase shakes his head, understanding. He remembered making sure to tell Bill and Cindy what he was doing, even at her age, as well.

“That’s fair. You ask your dad and let me know how that goes. I’ll keep that night open.” He then sits back, letting her focus on homework, not wanting to distrupt her. As she gets back focused on what she needs to do, he slowly gets up and gives her a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Where are you going?”

“You’re doing your homework, and I don’t want to distract you. Focus on your studies and I’ll see you later. Text me later with what your parents say.” She then smiles, shaking her head in agreement.

“Make sure to check your phone then.” She then gives him a quick kiss on his cheek before he leaves the dining room and exits the house.

She then lets out a sigh as she looks up from her book at her mom in the kitchen, shaking her head. She could easily get permission from her dad to go out with Chase, but her mom would be a different story. Why couldn’t her mom just let it go?

She then takes a deep breath, focusing back on her book report, knowing that the 1000 words weren’t going to write themselves.

“So now that you guys are together, is he going to be around all the time?” Elsa questions, as Alyssa glances up.

“Excuse me?” She questions as Elsa sits down across from her with her math textbook.

“You and Chase. Is Chase going to be around here all the time now?” Alyssa lets out a sigh.

“Probably, I don’t know. Is that a bad thing?” Elsa shakes her head no with a big smile.

“I have no problem with your boyfriend so don’t worry. I was just wondering. So, he asked you on a date. What are you going to wear? Where are you going?” Alyssa then rolls her eyes as she looks back down at her homework.

“Don’t you have homework to do?” Elsa lets out a sigh as she flips through the book.

“I’ve already told the teacher that the x wasn’t coming back to y, and they needed to stop worrying about finding it.” Alyssa chuckles. While she loved doing algebra, Elsa hated it completely and would complain at every chance.

“That isn’t going to help you get past the tests so I suggest you do your work, just like I’m trying to do mine.” Elsa then lets out a sigh as she gets out her supplies.

“You’re no fun. Please tell me that you’ll say the details later!” Alyssa just ignores her sister, trying to focus back on the stupid little rugrats in the book.