"Ella phone call on line 2" I heard my secretary buzz into my office as I was thumbing through the countless files that had been stacked on my desk for days. This was the first time I had time to sit down to much less catch my breath and attempt to do work.
"Ella Gray" I juggled the phone briefly so I could continue my quest to find the bottom of my desk.
"Delana Harvick" I busted out laughing as the sound of my best friends voice came across the phone.
"De what is going on I haven't talked to you in what 2 weeks." There was knock at my door. When I looked up I saw my main client and good friend Keith Brooking standing there holding lunch which consisted of a bag of Chick-Fil-A.
"Why don't you tell me. I was reading the Atlanta paper on the Internet and it said that you and Mr. Tom Brady are now an item." I just rolled my eyes to her comment and then to Keith holding up the same article in front of me as I talked.
"It is nothing like that. When he was down here we went out a couple times as friends totally platonic no feelings there." It was now Keith's turn to roll his eyes as he sat down in a chair moving the files blocking the seat to the floor.
"Girl if I had that as a friend I would be eating it up. You know you think he is hot."
"He is not my type" I grabbed a French fry as she continued to talk.
"Yeah I forgot you type was tall, scrawny, and redheaded. What would you be thinking turning down someone tall, dark, and handsome one can only know?
"De I would love to continue this debate but I am swamped in work."
"Yeah, Yeah, likely story. Well, you are still coming to the race this weekend."
"I will be there. Keith and some more guys from the team are coming to for some "Meet the Falcons" they are having for the fans."
"Interesting maybe your Tommy will come down from New England."
"Bye De" I hung up laughing to myself.
"You talking about your lover again." Keith said busting out into a smile. He knew when he gave me that smile I couldn't turn anything down. That could be why I had the massive pile of work because of him and Michael making me go to watch some games with them saying they needed there PR girl with them as a chaperone.
"Brooking shut up" I tossed a fry at him as we began talking about the upcoming events he would need to attend.
"I swear you two are horrible" Michael and Keith both turned and flicked me off as we walked down the steps toward pitroad.
"What are you saying Ella we can't look at the girls here but you can check out the racers" Michael draped his arm around my shoulders as we began walking down pitroad in search of the Harvicks.
"That is exactly what I am saying Vick." It by far had been an interesting day at Atlanta Motor Speedway having Michael Vick attending a Nascar weekend was a huge step in the eyes of the multimillion owners of sponsors.
"Damn" We heard Keith say as he sucked in a breath.
"She is fine" Michael stopped a walked up where Keith was drooling.
"God guys ya'll are beyond hopeless" I stood there with my hands on my hips laughing at the to as the stared at a girl standing by the pitwall in a barely there shirt showing everything she had.
"Ella" I turned quick at the sound of my name looking for the direction it was coming from. When I did I saw Delana jogging over to where we all where standing and the guys where drooling.
"De, Girl it is so good to see you" when we got down hugging we both pulled back surveying the other one it had been since January we had seen each other. I heard Kevin yell at us from down pit road as he began walking with some other drivers falling in behind him as he made his way to our little group.
"Since Ella, is slacking on her job. I am Delana Harvick and I am warning you now whatever my husband does or says I am not any way connected to it" I watched as Michael and Keith introduced there selves. Soon there where to hands on my shoulders trying to push me down almost through the cement they belonged to only one person.
"You win here once and you think you own the joint" I turned around and got a hug from a man that was almost as close to me as his wife was.
"About time you show that ugly face of yours around here again. Ever since you and Tom have...." Kevin said giving his toothy smile
"Damn you there is no me and Tom." I hit in his shoulder causing him step and lean onto another guy behind him. When the guy turned around I recognized him immediately. Soon there was his outstretched hand in front him.
"Tony Stewart" he said as I shook his hand
"Your the girl that is with Tom Brady"
"God I hate all of you especially you three" I point to Keith, Michael and Delana all leaned over laughing.
Sorry they made me do it." He said shrugging his shoulders soon all of us where laughing causing heads to turn at the noise we were making. My laughter was interrupted as I heard my cell phone start going off which was my signal I needed to head over to the media center.
"It was nice meeting you Tony." I shook his hand again and hugged Kevin and Delana good-bye as I had to head over to the media center with my athletes for some question and answer sessions we had to do for the team.
The next time I glanced at my watch was when my stomach began to growl and both Michael and Keith started yawning and there happy fan face began to fade as the question drug on. As the questions kept coming I gently snuck out in search of the snack machine I had seen earlier. I walked around the outside of the building for it being March the weather felt like the middle of December. The track was extremely quite and almost seclude as a strong breeze blew through again. I was never glad to see a little cubby cut out where the snack machines where. After about 5 minutes of debate between buying a bag of doritos or potato skins. I hit the Cool Ranch Dortio button I could almost taste them as my stomach growled again. Then it happened like always they caught up in the machine
"This is just great" I muttered under my breath as I just stood there wishing for them to fall. I glanced quickly over my shoulder before I beat the leaving tar out of the machine. The bag not moving. I rested my forehead on the machine.
"Your bag stuck" Wow the person behind me was loaded with intelligence obviously.
"Um..Yeah" I turned around to see the person behind this thick southern accent.
"Maybe I can help" When I got turned around I was meet with a brim of a hat as the guy looked down at his shoes then the bluest eyes you have ever seen when he looked up with a smirk.
"You...You can try I have already beat the crap out of it and as you can see it is still stuck" I stepped back as he walked by me and with one swift hit the bag fell down into the trough. I couldn't help but do the totally guy thing I hate and look him up and down as he bent down and got my bag.
"Here you go." He raised up handing me my chips. My hungry was long forgot when I saw his eyes again.
"Thanks...By the way I am Ella Gray" I stretched my hand out to him. My business side finally coming back.
"Dale Earnhardt Jr"
"Yeah I knew" I said trying to each the tension and end the killer silence.
"Not surprised." He laughed nervously while he got himself a bag of chips.
"Well, I better head on thanks again for saving me from starvation." I turned to walk away when I heard his voice again.
"Where are you heading" I stopped long enough for him to walk up beside me.
"Back to the media center before the q & an ends" I was struggling to get the bag open. Tonight just wasn't my night for these chips.
"I am heading there to. They are having some players there from the Falcons" he said as he popped a chip in his mouth as I still struggled to open mine.
"Yeah they are my clients" his face showed an oh expression as I stopped walking.
"Ella do you need help" he said motioning to the bag of chips.
"Yeah" I said with a weak smile. As soon as he moved the bag they opened causing him to laugh.
"I swear" I took the bag back as we go to the door of the media center. I saw that Michael and Keith where swamped by people in conversations.
"It was nice meeting you Dale" he was even cuter in the light.
"Call me Junior"
"Well, Junior I better go save my guys before they say something I have to run interference for thanks again for saving me and my chips." I said with a smile as I started to walk off.
"See ya later Ella" he waved as I got to Keith and Michael and waved back.
By midnight we had all made it back to the car and were heading back into Atlanta. I still had the dortios bag in my hand.
"Ella you going to throw that away" Keith asked me as I loaded up into the passenger side.
"No, she is going to keep it to show Tom he has some competition with her new little main squeeze." I flicked Michael off in the back-seat as we pulled out of the track.
"If you two don't stop with the Tom jokes I am going to kill both of ya'lls career's."
"Okay we will stop right Mike"
"Yeah we are stopping with Tom jokes." I saw them smirk to each other through the rear view mirror and nod. Then they started
"Ella and Junior sitting in a tree K I S S I N G First come love second comes...."
"Guys" it was going to be a long 45 minutes home.
As we walked into the track this morning I adjusted my sweater cause extremely cold weather was making me shiver. My thoughts went to my warm team jacket in the SUV parked a million miles away, that is too far to go back and get without being late for the guys appearances. This was my element I loved being at the track. I loved everything about it, the hustle and bussle of the teams and the fans. The whole vibe fed my personailty. This was what I wanted to do was be a P.R. for the racing world. Granted I wouldn't change my life what-so-ever, I loved working the football side of things but that place in my heart for this was still there and empty.
"Ella what time is it ?" Keith asked me breaking my thoughts as I watched the track.
"8:15, we have to be in the hospitality area by 8:30 " he handed me a doughnut as I stood there.
"Okay..I was just wondering cause you zoned on me." he asked in a caring tone as we walked heading up into the luxury suites.
"She was thinking about her new man" I just stuck my tongue out at Micheal as I opened up the door for the meeting.
"Sorry Ladies and Gentleman, but Mr. Vick and Mr. Brooking have to leave now thank you for your wonderful questions and attention." I stood in front of the 200 plus crowd trying my best not to laugh as the guys made faces at me from the back, the fans in front oblivous to their actions.
"So what now ?" Micheal asked wrapping his arm around me like he did yesterday as we walked down the corridor, this time with Keith flanking me on the other side.
"We get to go to the drivers meeting, then you guys go onto the stage and greet all the drivers, then come back and find me and watch the race." I said with a smile trying to hide my own excitment.
We arrived at the meeting early before the doors opened. I was standing almost on top of Micheal and Keith trying to get warm when I heard someone call my name, since the voice was unfamiliar to me, I looked up trying to find who it was.
"Ella" When I turned around again to find it there was Junior standing beside me.
"Hey" I was taken aback by him remembering, but I couldn't hide the smile that came across my face. We just stood there looking at each other for a moment until Keith hit me in the shoulder.
"Oh Junior these are my cilents you probably know who they are already. Keith Brooking, the defensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons, and Micheal Vick, the quarterback, of course." I said in my best business tone, it never failed when I would introduce them to a friend acting as if I were trying to market them. I guess I could call Junior a friend. Maybe? I watched as Junior whispered to his own P.R. guy then introduce himself to the guys, I watched as they made small talk. I kept getting closer to the guys trying to get the body heat going causing them to laugh.
"So Dale, how do you know our Ella here ?" here it comes they guys are going to embarass me in front of him. Keith smiling the whole time as I began to squirm and shiver.
"Um...I met her last night at the snack machine, she was struggling with getting some chips." I looked up at my 2 friends giving them pleading eyes to drop whatever they were going to say and be nice. They both looked at me as I pleaded.
"Well thanks man Ella is really good at keeping us in line, would have hated having her starve to death." I felt both guys touch me on the shoulder. There was a God and he was on my side again as the conversation changed again to sports. I saw Junior's PR guy walk up with something in his hand right as the doors were opening and the drivers where called in.
Um..Ella..here." I heard Junior from behind me say as I stopped, Micheal and Keith kept walking. He was holding a jacket out in his hand.
"Oh thanks, I am okay though ?" I wanted to grab the jacket and snuggle in it so fast, but I had to keep cool.
"Just take it I know you are cold. It is better late than never." he said smiling. I knew my hard-headed nature with him was going to be a battle. He stretched the jacket out to me again.
"Thanks... I really appreciate it."
"Not a problem..Where are you going to be during the meeting?" he asked as we walked in the door, brushing against each others shoulders.
"I am not sure honestly. I know they are introducing the guys so I guess in the audience." I said as I tried to scan the crowd looking for the guys, finally finding them already sitting down in the front with some head NASCAR officals. I slid the jacket on, it smelled like him. Or I hope it was him, there was a strong scent of Drakkar Noir coming along with some fabric softener feeling my senses.
"Well if you want you can sit with the me." he said not looking at me in the eye, his shyness was adorable. After being around cocky and arrogant players, meeting a person who had everything they did and still was humble and shy was a plus.
"Okay." he gave me that classic smile as I followed behind to the seats with his team. When we got there I looked up to see Keith and Micheal making kissy faces as I sat down beside him, then quickly turning around before anyone noticed. It was going to be another ride home of jokes. But I wouldn't trade those guys for the world. For one of the rare times in my life I felt extremely uncomfortbale it felt like everyone in the room was focused on me and Junior sitting together. Truth is maybe everyone was. I was fiddling with the jackets sleeves when I felt someone pull my hair that was in a low ponytail, making the curls fall down onto my shoulders. I turned around with the best look- of -death I could to find Kevin sitting there smiling.
"You are such a loser Harvick." I said sticking my tongue out at him and quickly putting my hair back up.
"I know but you still love me like a brother so shut up, Ugly." he said as we continued our bantar.
"So Ella how did you land yourself in that bud jacket ?" he asked giving the seductive eye. I found it humorous, but when I looked over at Junior he had the same pleading eyes I did before with Keith and Micheal. Before he could answer the meeting started. When we both turned around our arms hit again causing us both to look at each other and smile.
"Good morning gentleman let's get this meeting started." I got comfortable setting in for listening to a meeting. I was still excited as I looked around I saw some of my favorite drivers and some guys who looked totally different on tv than they did in real life. I was caught off guard when I felt someone's lips dangerously close to my ear.
"I didn't know you knew Delana and Kevin." It was Junior he slid down in his chair as he whispered to me, not paying any attention to what Mike Helton was saying.
"De is one of my best friends I met her when she was working for Randy LaJoie here at the track when I was an intern during college. That was right when Kevin and her got together so he adopted me kinda as his little sister." I told him over and down at him as he propped up his foot on his knee. We continued to talk until De hit me in the shoulder.
"What" I looked at her then she mouthed 'standup', when I did so did Keith and Micheal and a round of applause happened I had no idea what it was for. I just stood there smiling and holding in my laughter as Kevin made comments. He leaned up and whispered to me when I sat down again.
"I guess ole' Junior there has you a little distracted." he patted my back as he leaned back against his chair. When the meeting ended me and Junior stood up again together hitting each other.
"We just keep hitting on each other. " I said causing him to laugh.
"Yeah. Are you staying for the race? " he asked propping his hand on the back of his chair as we stood.
"I wouldn't miss it." I heard Keith and Micheal walk up beind him.
"I better get going with these two." I said pointing back to the guys standing behind me.
"Yeah um if you want to during the race you..I mean all of you can come down to the Bud pitbox and watch from there."
"Okay that sounds like a deal. I am going to be with De anyway so yeah I will come by long as your crew doesn't care? " I asked pulling my hands deeper in his jacket.
"They won't. If they do I will fire em" he said grinning. Which caused me to laugh.
"Okay then. Oh yeah thanks for the jacket" I started to slide it off when he stopped me,
"Keep it, it is going to still be cold during the race you can give it to me afterwards."
"You sure ?" I asked with a questioning eye as we walked out of the building.
"Yeah there is some candy in the pocket if you want some."
"Ella hurry up." I heard the guys yell back to me.
"Well thanks for the seat and the jacket I promise I will give it back to you."
"Don't worry about it if you don't" he said as we stopped again where we had to go or seperate ways.
"Good luck today hopefully I can give it back to you in Victory Lane"
"Yeah" he said. I don't know what posessed me but I reached over and hugged him,
"Good luck" I whispered to him as we hugged.
"Thanks..See ya later. " he said almost in an asking tone, as we pulled back from each other.
"You bet in Victory lane" I said over my shoulder as I walked to Keith and Micheal where they where shaking there head.
"Yeah babe I will be home as soon as I can tonight." I told my boyfriend on the line while a UPS delivery guy gently knocked on my door with a package. I nodded for him to come in as I kept talking.
"I would be home sooner baby, but I have to work late. Keith and Michael have the Atlanta Food Drive coming up and I need to get all paperwork squared away." I said in a pleading tone. Curt was actually an old high school friend/flame. We had finally gotten together, something that I had always wished for cause I swore on my heart that he was the one. But now something else was telling me I had met the man I was supposed to be with, but he wasn't Curt. Although I had strong feelings for him. He worked for the local paper in my hometown as a Sports writer. There was always some resentment from him of my job, but we had always worked through it.
"Are you coming back home for lunch at least today ?" his voice booming through the phone as I put him on speaker to sign for the package and open it.
"Um...I am not sure why? " I asked as I opened the package seeing it was a photograph envelope. Finally the pictures from the race came in. It was one of my little things I loved to do was have pictures of my clients and I from the events we went to together. Needless to say Michael and Keith where all over my office. I started flipping through the pictures as he told me he wouldn't be in town cause he had a baseball game to cover for the local college. As the conversation ended he told me he loved me, which to him was no big deal. We had been together since St. Patrick's Day, but my heart wasn't ready to say those 3 words.
I kept flipping through the pictures when I found one that made butterflies flutter in my stomach for a strange reason that surprised me. In my hand was a picture of Keith, Michael, Dale Jr and I before we all walked into the drivers meeting, all of us smiling happily. I didn't notice until I looked again that I was snuggled almost into the side of Junior trying to get warm. This was definitely going on my desk. I buzzed my assistant to go find a nice picture frame. Soon the picture was framed and sitting beside my computer next to the picture of me on Curt's back with the Atlanta skyline behind us. There was something about Junior that I still couldn't place. He crossed my mind at least once a day just out of curiosity wondering if I would ever see him again.
"Ella, Mr. Putman needs those files before lunch." My assistant buzzed, reminding me of something I had totally forgotten. I glanced at the clock it was 11:45. I quickly grabbed the files and headed out of my office. As I walked I opened up the folder making sure it was the right information that he need when I ran smack into someone.
"Excuse me Ma'am I wasn't...." When I looked up to lay into the idiot that just ran into me, my heart skipped a beat almost.
"JUNIOR!" I grabbed him around his neck and gave him a hug, surprising him at first. When we pulled back I couldn't stop my mouth.
"I was just thinking about you. I mean I saw a picture of you that made me think of you again... I mean. Forget it what are you doing here? " I asked totally wanting to fall into the nearest wall and disappear.
"I was in here for an interview I didn't know you worked here?" He asked as we stood in the hall, people passing us left and right causing us to stand within inches of each other.
"I actually work on the 4th floor but I had to take this files down to Mr. Putman before lunch." I said holding up the folder. I couldn't take the smile off my face.
"Well I better let you go cause you have like 2 minutes left." he said pointing to the clock with a warm smile.
"I'll make you a deal I have to get these in real quick. But if you want you can go up to my office and we can catch up before you have to leave unless you have to go now." as soon as my mouth closed he was answering me.
"Your office is on the 4th floor right?" he asked back to me as he walked to the elevator and hit the up button.
"Yeah. Just tell the lady I said for you to go on back to my office, she will let you if you smile she is a huge race fan." I said patting him on the shoulder.
"See you up there then." he said as he got in the elevator. When I finally got back up to my office Junior had been in there for 15 minutes. When the elevator dinged open. Becky, my assistant, gave me the eye as I walked by.
"Don't even say it Becky. Don't even say it." I told her laughing as she fanned herself saying `how hot Junior was.' When I walked to my doorway I saw Junior looking at the pictures on the wall that I had. He was over by my diplomas and old high school football team pictures from where I was the student trainer.
"Sorry it took me so long. Mr. Putman wanted to go over the information real quick." I walked back behind my desk and sat down in my chair.
"Kick Ass office Ella." he said moving his hand around.
"Have a seat." I said motioning to the chair before continuing.
"Thanks for the office comment I wasn't really sure about going with a navy color for the walls than a cherry finish cause it seemed so dark but I'm really happy with the finished product. He sat down just watching me talk.
"I really like it, Ella, I might have to get my sister to redo mine. I like the Vietnam Wall picture." http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/PF/PF_915707.jpg
"That used to be my dad's when he work at Fort Benning. Oh here are the pictures from the race I just got them in today." I reached back and handed him the frame by my computer of the one with us together. The conversation always went easy with us. We could talk about mindless things like this and it is interesting, as if we were finding the cure for cancer.
"I like that one too" he said looking up from the race photos I handed him to point behind my desk at the Auburn Dreams one I had hanging up. http://www.jmbooks.com/outerweb/product_images/DREAMl.jpg
"Yeah that is my favorite my mom bought it for me when I graduated and got this job." I answered. Suddenly Junior's stomach let out a loud growl causing us both to laugh.
"So are there any good restaurants here?" he asked laying the pictures back on my desk, but still holding the frame.
"I am not really sure normally since I am so close to 85 I go back to my hometown and eat there."
"So what is down there?" he asked still hiding in his shyness, but I could see the faced crack.
"What do you want?" I was going to play his own game and crack him if I could.
"Not sure why don't you take me out to lunch?" he said finally letting his shyness go away.
"Why would I want to do that?" I winked at him as I leaned back in my chair crossing my arms.
"Cause friends do that," he said standing.
"Well I guess since you said the `friend' word I'll do it. Just let me get my purse." He just nodded.
The whole way to my hometown was just like being with an old friend. From the time we pulled out of the parking deck to the time we pulled into the parking spot at the local BBQ place called Hog Heaven the conversation never stopped. It was mostly us picking on each other, the way you would with any of your guy friends, it just seemed so natural and comfortable. This time I wasn't going to let this friendship chance get away. As we walked up to the restaurant I noticed him pulling his hat father down.
"You are safe here. If they recognize you I promise they won't walk up to you" I smiled at him. We were about the same height I noticed as he opened the door for me something that I wasn't used to from the guys that I called friends. A young teenage girl sat us in a booth. I heard Junior crack up as he walked stepping on the peanut shells that littered the floor. The heavy blues music and the old country atmosphere gave these places its own personality, along with the peanut shells on the floor.
"So Ella tell me about yourself." I watched as the waitress sat a glass of sweet tea in front of him while he grabbed a hand full of peanuts.
"Well let's see. I grew up here, which would be LaGrange. I went to Columbus State for 2 years on a scholarship then transferred in to Auburn University in Alabama to keep the family tradition alive. I worked as an intern at Atlanta Motor Speedway all 4 years of college and for a real job I worked with the parks and recs here. So sports is my life. My parents are divorced. I live in the same neighborhood as my mom and that is about it." I watched him soak it all in.
"What about your dad." he asked in between us giving our orders.
"He lives in Augusta where he is a teacher. He remarried when I was 15 so I got a step-brother out of the deal and the cutest niece you have ever laid your eyes on that is turning 3 this year." I said throwing a peanut shell at him causing him to throw some back.
"Got any questions?" I eyed him down as he brushed the shell of his chest
"Do you have a boyfriend?" he asked suddenly interested in the tablecloth.
"Do you have a girlfriend?" with that he smiled knowing the game I was playing.
"I asked you first." I watched him take a sip of his tea.
"I am seeing someone. And you?" I asked smiling
"I am kind of seeing someone in a way." before he could continue he was saved by the food arriving.
I didn't get back into Atlanta until 3. So to say my lunch hour went a little over would be an understatement. Junior hung out in my office until he had to leave. It wasn't a walk in the park for him either, I made him do minor paperwork as he sat there and bugged me for a purpose. The whole time we cracked jokes left and right about each other. One thing that did surprise me was the amount of questions he asked about Curt and I.
"Ella I would offer to take you to dinner but I have to get going." he said standing stretching from his spot.
"Yeah yeah. You are just tired of working on your day off. What did you tell J.R so you could stay this long?" I asked getting up so I could walk him out.
"That a friend and I had to catch up." he said as he hit me in the arm playfully. I walked him all the way down to the front of the building where there was a SUV waiting for him.
"So when am I going to run into you again?" I asked him as he pulled his phone out of his pocket.
"Haha phone. Give me your Nextel so we can keep in contact. Whenever you are up near me or I am down here we can do this again." he said getting ready to type in my code. I got my own phone out to get his.
"Oh the honor to have Dale Earnhardt Jr's Nextel Code what will I do?" I joked with him in my best surprised-fan-voice.
"Oh don't worry you will be hearing from me." With that he closed the door and waved as the drove off.
I sat behind my desk listening to Michael and Keith give me excuses on why they were late, causing us to miss an interview with a reporter they both commented on hating.
"Guys the thing is that when y'all decide to do this and skip out it makes me look bad, which makes the whole team look bad, ending with me getting my butt chewed out because I can't handle the athletes I am given to represent." The only thing that kept me hanging on the past month was Curt and the phone calls from Junior every day to tell me how much I sucked or how slow Georgians were at doing things all in a loving way.
"Sorry Ella." both said.
"It is okay don't worry about. But you two are making this up somehow. I am not sure yet, but damage control is needed. Y'all go on. Don't forget I am leaving out tomorrow and am not coming home till the first of June." I said causing them both to stop.
"Tomorrow what day is that?" Michael asked.
"The 27th nosy."
"Damn I thought you weren't going to be coming back for a long time. I was going to get worried we ran you off." Keith said.
"If I keep having weeks wait… no a month like this one I might run far far away." I said with a laugh as they waved `bye'. Soon I had two bouquets of wild flowers on my desk they sent as an apology. I was hard at work trying to argue the point of the guys with the Falcon's front office when I noticed my cell phone vibrating across my desk. When I looked at the caller id it was Curt. I just let it vibrate until I could have time to answer it. After 2 hours of arguing I was finally back in the good graces of the front office and had a job. I went to call Curt back when I saw I had 11 missed calls all from him. I dialed his number quickly knowing this wasn't going to be a relaxing conversation.
"Yeah Ella." his tone was already pissy.
"Sorry I had to deal with Keith and Michael shafting another reporter. This time the front office called me to chew me.... "
"Ella I don't have time to talk I need to finish what I am working on." he said shortly cutting me off.
"Um okay. You coming by my house tonight?" I asked hoping I could spend a relaxing night in the arms of my boyfriend.
"Well if I am there when you get home, yes, if I am not then no" I hated it when he was like this. It was just more added stress.
"What is wrong Curt?" I asked him. My own tone starting to turn cause of the pressure of the weeks and the day adding up.
"I called you fucking 11 times and you ignored it until now." He said I could tell he was in his truck.
"I was working arguing to save my butt with this job." I said as I laid my forehead on my desk.
"Well Ella, I am working now so I will call you back when I have time." With that I heard him click his phone shut. He was always like that, he told me one night he wanted a strong woman so he didn't have to be responsible, also so she could stroke his ego and take care of him. I guess now I am starting to see those negative traits come out in him. I was on the verge of tears, which is something Ella Gray doesn't do is cry. I chucked my phone across the room as I tried to calm down. I heard it ring again. I didn't want to deal with Curt if it was him calling, I just wanted to be angry with him. Soon the phone on my desk was ringing.
"Ella Gray" I sniffled sucking back the tears.
"Hey Ug-Ugly that is." I heard a thick southern accented voice come across the line to my ear.
"Hey fathead." I said now with tears coming back to my eyes,
"Woo-oho Ella what is wrong?" His playful tone turned serious again.
"Nothing." I struggled out.
"Alright stubborn what is going on? Who do you want me to beat up or hit with my car?" Junior said getting stern.
"The list is too long. I am just ready for a break." I said leaning back looking at the flowers the guys gave me as well as the picture of all of us from the Atlanta race.
"The front office giving you shit again?" He had been the one that I loaded all the Falcon's Front Office drama on because I knew Curt would write about it to get his career going better. I still hadn't told him I loved him.
"Yeah the guys skipped out on an interview today and now Curt is pissed at me. Because while I was trying to save my job he called my cell and I didn't answer" I said just blurting it all out to him.
"It will be okay cause you have what… the rest of the day then you will be in NC and then we get to party on Memorial Day weekend so life will be good."
"Yeah if I make it that far."
"If you want me to I can be on a plane down there and beat the shit out Curt for being a cracker plus I have a posse." Him saying that made me laugh
"Nah I can handle him I got boys down here too, you forget that."
"Yeah I want to meet them. Your guy friends that is that you grew up with."
"You will someday." My tone was far off.
"Ug you sure everything is okay?" He started calling me Ug out of pure stupidity, but it stuck and he ended up being fathead.
"Yeah. I need to get back to work."
"Okay, call me if you need me."
"I will talk to you later Fathead."
"Later Ugly" when I hung up all I wanted to was work all the way until I had to leave. I had no time to concentrate on the drama. I was able to finish all my work up through a Friday and a Monday. I had gotten 2 agents to watch over Michael and Keith, making sure they attended every interview or media outlet that was set up while I was gone.
As I drove home I hit the CD in my car to scan. Out of either luck or misfortune Curt's and my song came on filing my speakers. I pulled into my neighborhood driving by my old house noticing my mom's car was not in the garage. So much for wasting time and getting motherly advice. It is not like I didn't know her thoughts on the way my life was going, she always supported me in every opportunity I took. But the one thing she hated in my life was my relationship with Curt. She knew I could do better and I am beginning to think I can. When I got to my house I saw all the lights were off and Curt's truck was in the drive. Curt has been staying over a lot since he had a run in with his roommate, it was only supposed to be a few days, but that turned into a few weeks and it shows in my empty fridge and massive piles of laundry. I sat my bag down on the kitchen table when I walked in. I saw the game going on the TV, when I walked to the door of the living room untucking my shirt. He got up and pulled me into his arms.
"I am sorry about today." He wrapped his arms around me letting me fall into his 6'3 frame. I felt him gently kiss my head as I started to cry again.
"I am just so stressed out and tired. I am glad we are leaving for NC tomorrow." He held my hand as we sat down in the Laz-E-Boy, he pulled me down his onto lap letting me lay across him and snuggle into his shoulder.
"I was thinking if we leave around 11 we will get in at 1 and you can spend some time with Delana and your friends up there, maybe even get me a autograph or two." He said smiling.
"Whatever you want baby I just want to stay like this for a long long time." I gently kissed him on his lips as I got up to go change. He caught my hand as I went to walk away.
"I love you."
"I know you do" When I got changed I got us all packed so I could sleep as long as I could. Curt came upstairs and pulled me in his arms holding me as we laid on the bed watching the ending of the Braves game. That night I slept soundly in his arms. It was times like this that made me think of forever with him and that he was the one.
The next morning we both woke up with a start. I was excited to see Delana and Kevin again. Curt was excited cause the paper offered him a bigger assignment if he wrote a great article of the weekend. After we loaded up and grabbed some breakfast we were on the road. I fell asleep somewhere in between Augusta and Charlotte. I didn't wake up again until Kevin was pulling my flip-flops off and started hitting me with them in his driveway. We were staying with the Harvick's for the weekend. I crawled out of the truck about to head after Kevin, totally forgetting that Curt had never met the couple.
"Curt ,baby, this is Kevin and Delana. The best two friends a girl could ask for." I said pointing to the couple both sizing him up. I felt him wrap his arm around my shoulder pulling me in close. I slide my hand around his waist. Getting comfortable in his arms. Delana gave me the look of `we are going to talk about him later'.
"Nice to meet you Curt" Kevin said first outstretching his hand. Soon the two guys were off looking at some RC cars Kevin had while I walked into the house with Delana.
"I don't like him Ella." She said bluntly as I petted Endy.
"Well that was fast."
"He just rubs me the wrong way Ella, I can't point it out, but I don't trust him." I knew that it was going to be hard to keep De down if Curt stepped on her toes.
As the days passed at the track Delana never forgot to tell me her dislike for Curt, but she promised you would respect him just because she loved me. By Sunday everything seemed to have calmed down. I hadn't seen or heard from Junior the whole time I was up here, but I also knew he was with someone cause Curt decided to point her out every chance he had as we would walk around the track. We were walking hand in hand when I had to tell him `good by'e at the media center, he had landed a key interview with Jimmie Johnson. With a quick kiss I watched him walk in. Praying this was something that would be good for us both. I looked at my watch it was an hour until the driver's meeting. Something inside of me needed to see Junior, but I didn't want to run into his other half. Something about her was just off and I knew from what Delana had told me she wasn't in it too much for him.
"Ella!" my head shot up when I heard my name called. I smiled when I saw Junior sprinting towards me.
"Follow me Come on" He never stopped he just grabbed my arm pulling me with him.
"Where are we going?" I asked as I pulled my arm back and got beside him ducking into the hauler parking area.
"Right here." We were standing between his hauler next to a stack of tires so you couldn't see him, but he could see other people.
"About time I see you." I said hitting his arm
"Yeah I know is that your boy with you this week?" he asked shooting me his glare and crossing his arms.
"Is that your girl with you?" I asked trying to mock the Earnhardt glare.
"She isn't my girl." He was quick to answer and pulled my credentials up from around my neck so he could read them.
"Okay." I held up my hands.
"Anyway I need to go before the fans see me. You are going to be at the barbecue right?" He asked pulling me into a hug.
"Yeah I will be there."
"Okay I will see you tomorrow then."
"Yeah Junior be safe okay, and Good Luck."
"Last time you said that I won." He said as he pulled back and waved as he walked into his hauler. I turned around and headed to find Delana and settle in to watch the race.
As the last half of the race started I looked down to Junior's pit box. I watched his crew as they stood watching their driver. But noticed the girl with him wasn't on the box anymore. I laid my head on Curt's shoulder as he wrapped me in his arms. Tomorrow was going to be very interesting having Junior and Curt within breaths of each other.