Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Here is the end of Chapter 6. We’ve got a little post-race stuff going on, and we get a glimpse of Coach and Georgie.
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Will turned the engine off and began unhooking his safety equipment, removing his helmet and hanging it on the hook. Then, he turned sideways, grasping the top of the window opening and pushing with his legs until his backside was on the door. Then, he twisted again, drawing out first his left leg and then his right. He accepted a towel and bottle of water from Liz, leaning down to drop a quick kiss on her lips before wiping the sweat off his face and neck and chugging down the entire bottle of water. With all the cars returning to the garage, it was too loud to do much talking, so he grabbed Liz’s hand and started walking away from the car and toward pit road.
Liz knew exactly where they were headed. Charles Bingley was Will’s best friend, and Will wanted to congratulate him while Bingley was still riding the high of his win. Liz also knew that Jane would be by Bingley’s side. Jane would be excited, too, almost as much as Bingley. Liz wanted to share that moment with her sister, no matter how briefly.
Within a few moments, Will and Liz were pushing through the crowd of crew members, reporters, camera crews, and VIPs that filled Victory Lane. Charles had finished one interview and was turning to another when Will interrupted, slapping his friend on the shoulder.
“Congratulations, man! That was some good driving right there. I tried every trick I knew to get around you!”
Bingley laughed, shaking Will’s extended hand and then pulling him in for a hug. “Steak dinner tonight?”
“Heck yeah! We need to celebrate this one!” Will grinned, slapping Bingley again and ducking out of the way of the reporter.
While Will was talking to Charles, Liz had joined Jane, who was hanging back a bit. When Jane saw her sister, she grinned and jumped, squealing.
“Did you see that finish?”
Liz grinned and hugged her sister. “I did! He’s a great driver. He deserves this win.”
“He wanted it so bad. It’s been a long time since he’s won.” Jane spoke to Liz, but her gaze was clearly on Bingley.
Liz leaned in so Jane could hear her over the sudden cheer from the crowd. “I’m guessing we’ll be celebrating tonight. See you later?”
Jane nodded and with a final hug and “Love you, Sis,” turned back to watch Charles.
Liz felt her hand being grasped and turned to find her husband at her side. He nodded toward the motor home lot and she nodded, following as he made another path through the energetic, cheering crowd.
Finally arriving at their home away from home, Liz and Will breathed a sigh of relief. They hugged for a long moment, despite Will’s sweatiness.
“I’m sorry you didn’t win. You worked hard for it.”
“Thanks, Babe,” Will tightened his hold on Liz for just a moment, dropping a kiss to the top of her head. “I thought for sure I could slingshot him on that last lap, but every time I got close enough, he would suddenly dart away.”
“Do you think the issues early on hurt your finish?”
“No, I don’t think they did. Once that wedge was adjusted, I was able to pick up speed and charge forward. I guess we’ll know more on Tuesday, after the data has been analyzed, but I think it was just a case of one driver having a better car than the other.”
Liz nodded, rubbing her check on Will’s firesuit, which he still wore. “I suppose I should let you go take a shower.” Despite her words, Liz was comfortable cuddled up to Will this way and did not want to separate. She felt his chuckle vibrate through his chest.
“I suppose so, unless you want to go to get steak with a smelly guy in a dirty firesuit.”
With a sigh, Liz let go, sliding her hands around his back to rest on his waist. “No, I don’t think I do. I’ll let you go for now, but I expect more hugs once you’re clean.”
Will laughed again. “I don’t know what has you feeling this way, but I can guarantee you as many hugs and kisses as you want once I’m showered up.” He paused. “Unless you’d like to join me in the shower?” Though he sounded like he was joking, it was clear he wouldn’t mind if she did.
Liz giggled and caressed Will’s cheek. “If the shower was not so small, I would.” She shrugged. “I don’t know why I’m so amorous, to be honest. I just am.” She blushed a little, but the delighted look on his face gave her the tingles, and so she laughed again. Pushing at his chest, she tried to move him along. “Go on, Driver. Get a shower and step on it. The hat dance will be over soon and it will be time to go.”
“Very well, Mistress of My Heart.” Will kissed Liz once again and then, with a wink, turned and headed to the shower.
When Will was finished and before they walked down to Bingley’s RV, he and Liz decided to stop by Coach’s and see if he and Georgie wanted to join the party.
“Dad?” Will stuck his head in the door.
“Come on up, Son.” Coach waved Will up and motioned for him and Liz to have a seat at the table with him.
“Good driving today, Will. You remind me of your grandpa when you drive like that.” Coach congratulated his son. “He and ____ were best buddies like you and Bingley are and many was the time they fought it out on the track.”
Will grinned. “I love being compared to Gramps. I’ll have to ask him to tell me about some of those battles.”
“I’m sure he’d love to tell you.” Coach’s smile spread over his entire face. He turned to Liz. “How have you been, my girl? I hear you had a run-in with Bingley’s sister.”
“I did,” Liz confirmed, her eyes rolling. “I made it perfectly clear that I’d clean her clock if she didn’t leave Will alone.”
Coach laughed, his eyes twinkling. “She is a persistent one.”
Just then, Georgie came out from the motor home’s bathroom. Hugging her brother and congratulating him on his second place finish, she turned to Liz, complimenting her for her social media coverage of the race after hugging her.
Liz patted the seat beside her in invitation. “Thanks. I get good interaction, but it’s nice to hear someone I know telling me it’s working. How’s school?”
Georgie settled in beside Liz. “It’s good. I’m starting to think about electives for next year. Since I’m going to pass all my classes this year, I don’t have to worry about making anything up.”
“That’s great!” Liz put her arm around Georgie’s shoulders and squeezed. “I’m proud of you; you’ve worked hard this semester.”
“I’m proud, too, Squirt. I knew you could do it. You have the Darcy brains.” Will ignored the laughter spurting from Liz and Coach and kept talking to his sister. “Liz and I are going to get steaks with Bingley and Jane and probably some other folks, if you want to come along. You too, Coach.”
Georgie glanced at her father. “If it’s ok with Dad, I’d love to.” She bit her lip, her hands grasped tightly together in her lap.
“I think that’s a great idea! The doc said I could go off my eating plan once in a while, and I’ve been faithful for weeks now.”
“Great!” Will rose and held out his hand for Liz. “Can we take your SUV? I’ll drive.”
“Sure.” Coach rose. “Let me get you the keys.”
The four of them piled into the vehicle, stopping briefly at Bingley’s motor home to decide on a restaurant. A short time later, they were driving off the speedway property.
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