"Jacqueline Avari." Picking up the phone she found that her eyes stayed on the television screen as her hand muted the sound. The closed caption words popped up on the screen and she began to quickly read her way through the last parts of the race. They were only fifteen laps from the checkered flag and even though Dustin wasn't at all going to win this one, she wanted to make sure that he crossed the finish line without wreaking the car. She wouldn't have answered the phone in the first place, but after the surprise visit from Jack earlier she didn't want to miss out on someone trying to get in touch with her.
A deep laugh filled the line, "Aren't we being formal?"
Her eyes slid away from the screen, traveling across the RV before moving out towards the window as the cars raced by. "Sorry honey," she said quickly. "I was watching the race and I thought it might be Jack on the line. He came by earlier and talked to me. The race is almost over. We're on the last few laps here and I didn't--" She was in no way a stupid girl. The adrenaline that came with the end of the race made her brain spin out of control. She tired to concentrate on reading the race commentary, watching the cars fly by and keep the conversation going at the same time. It was a battle she was losing.
"You didn't want to miss it?" he asked. "Is something crazy happening in the line up? How's Dusty doing?"
"Middle of the pack," she said as she saw a yellow flag being pulled on the race. Footage on the screen showed a wide shot of turn two and a mini picture in the corner of the official waving the flag wildly. "Shit."
He laughed again. "Tsk. Tsk."
"I know. I know. I shouldn't swear, but--" She got up and moved across to the window to see if she could see what happened outside to bring out the yellow flag. She knew that logically she could watch the footage on the screen, but most races they would focus on one of the cars that had gotten pulled into the accident and she didn't want to miss to see if Dusty would get caught up in the mess. "But they just pulled a yellow and there are only six laps left."
His voice didn't sound at all upset or stressed in any way, which was surprising considering all things. "What happened?"
She stopped looking for the wreak on the track as things started to click into place. "You aren't watching the race? Are you feeling ok? Where's Momma and Daddy?"
"I'm fine. I'm fine," he said over the line. "I'm on the road right now. I didn't want to watch the race today. I'm too nervous. I don't--"
Her eyes opened wide. "You're on the road?"
"Jackie. I'm fine. Yvonne came over and decided to take me out to lunch." She did have to admit. He was sounding a little more like himself these days. Today seemed to be one of the good days and when a good day came around they all celebrated the moment to the fullest.
She could hear noise in the background and then he cleared his throat. "Yvonne says I stay at home too much these days."
"I'm sure that's not all she says," Jacqueline said.
"Be nice," he whispered to her loudly.
"She's not there to heal you for no reason," she said.
"Quit it now," he said, "You and she may not get along, but I'm not getting in the middle of this again."
"You're still in braces Quincy." Her heart jumped into her throat and she desperately wanted to be distracted by the television screen or the sound of the cars whizzing by, but at the moment all her attention was on the man on the phone. "I shouldn't have come down here. I should have just stayed up there this weekend. You know what the doctor's said about that. You need to be careful."
"I'll remember that," he said, "I doubt that I can get hurt between here and the Waffle House. I've got my crutches and I'm sure Yvonne will be careful with me."
"I don't doubt that you will," she said, "But sometimes you don't know when to stop and as much as Yvonne says she loves you, I don't think she knows sometimes when to leave you be."
"Like the way you do?" he asked.
Fuming. The word fuming came to mind with the accent in her head that sounded like her mother's scolding. She'd always been told that she fumed too much when it came to him. Most times she could play back and forth with him, but there were times where the littlest of jabs from him could send her to the boiling point.
It had been months since they'd bantered back and forth in this nature. When he'd first been in the hospital she'd been right there at his side. A year was a long time though and as much as he'd wanted her to help out and as much as she wanted to there, they'd parted ways. Quincy had stayed home to finish up rehabilitation and she'd taken a job overseas, working with a Formula 1 Racing Team that Jenson Button belonged to. It had been a chance to travel and get away for a while.
Spending time in Europe had been hard. Being away from home was one thing she'd had to get used to, but it was more than that. She'd vowed after Quincy's accident that she wasn't going to be a part of racing again. The job in the United Kingdom had eased her back into the sport. It was a short spurt of work to take over for a PR agent that was going on materinity leave for a few months.
Coming back to the United States, she'd thought that she'd get some time off to relax and take stock of her life. That vacation didn't last long. Despite her pure hatred of Dustin, Quincy had talked her into working with him. No one else would touch any kind of a project that he was working on and her brother told her that if she was ever to make peace with what happened, then she was going to have to work with him.
The truth of the matter was that Dusty was an incredible driver, but he was only half of the package that made up a great race team. Jack had convinced Disney to sponsor him, conditionally, knowing that the added coverage of his races would be good for the company, but the PR team that had been hired were only there on a short term basis. They had two months out of the long season to make some leaps and bounds when it came to Dusty's reputation and she was in charge come morning.
"Quincy I will hang up this phone on you so fast--" Most of her childhood, the parts that came after her mother's marriage to Quincy's father, were riddled with sarcastic and not-so-sarcastic exchanges, verbal battles if you will, but since the accident they'd both been a little easier with each other.
"Temper. Temper." He scolded her. She heard him clicking his tongue at her. "You and Dusty sure are going to be a pair."
"A pair?" She let her eyes slide away from the television when she heard the tone of his voice. "A PAIR? What the hell are you talking about Quincy?"
"It's a good thing," he said, "I wouldn't have it any other way."
Her heart began to race. She'd been set up. She hadn't realized it in the last few weeks of preparation leading up to her return to the United States and to the NASCAR scene, but she was being set up. "YOU wouldn't have it any other way?"
"I just meant--" He started to laugh a mischievous laugh. "I just meant that I talked to Jack and had him look at your resume."
"Quincy Herron, you big jerk." As she exploded instantly. The picture was so suddenly clear she was surprised at herself for not seeing it all before. Her brother had always been one to try and hook her up with someone. He'd tried numerous times to get her thoughts away from her school work and more onto the guys that hung around the race track. "You manipulative JERK!"
"And there is the accent." He laughed more at her. "I knew that a few months in England couldn't take that away from you."
"Quincy you're a mean mean man. I swear to God above I'm going to get you back for this."
"I never said that you have to marry the dude," he said, "But hanging out with a guy your own age who needs a little good PR work lets your work and your play mix together."
"You're the worst," she said.
"I know. I know. But you can't beat up a crippled man."
Her eyes moved back to the television screen, but the next show on Fox had come on. "Oh so now you're crippled?" she asked with a laugh. "Damn you Quincy. I didn't catch the end of the race. Hell. There could have been a huge crash and Dusty might have won the whole damn thing."
"Not likely," Quincy said. "He was middle of the pack. I'm sure you would have seen if the first half of the pack crashed. It would shake the RV to the frame."
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