Los Angeles, California
The screams of the crowd drowned out her heartbeat as Haley climbed to the stage on her own for the first time since she rode to New York that fateful day.
"For the very first time here in Los Angeles - Haley Scott."
She'd stopped wincing long ago, it was just her name.
The spotlight pinned her down and she smiled big for the crowd - the lights - every camera... "Hello, Los Angeles!"
They screamed for her.
"I wrote this song for everyone that's ever hurt someone - and ended up bleeding themselves."
Haley always opened with this song. Her manager said she should close with it - she told him to fuck off - a phrase she'd picked up from Chris.
Her fingers ran over the keys and she focused on a couple toward the front. The girl was already crying and Haley almost smiled.
It was the only time she let herself think of him, their wedding, the first time they made love in that tiny apartment.
...the way he begged her to come back and she said her last words to him: I'm sorry, my love.
And she hung up.
"...and I live...in the ashes of my broken promises..."
Haley opened her eyes to the roar of the crowd as the song that bought her fame and independence...and lost her her boyfriend Chris AKA FuckFace.
And the show went on.
"Haley! Haley!" Fans and reporters alike tried to get her attention as her bodyguards led her to the limo.
"Did you really break up with Chris for good?"
"Absofuckinglutely," she smiled.
Her manager handed her a bouquet at the door of the car and Haley snorted as she read the card. Tits looked hot. Sound was okay. Always, Chris.
"Fuck face," she muttered, and threw the flowers to the fans.
Haley collapsed into the car with relief and sighed.
She jumped as the light flicked on and she stopped breathing.
"Nathan," she choked. "How did you get in here?"
"Can a husband not visit his wife?"
Haley rolled her eyes, "Answer, please."
"Bribery, what else? There's perks to the NBA."
"Other than blondes and brunettes?"
Nathan looked amused. "Surely you're not accusing me of cheating?"
"I don't follow your career, Nathan, much less your sex life," she pretended the subject was boring instead of painful.
"You don't wish me well?"
Haley frowned, "You know I do, I just...hate basketball."
He actually laughed. "And I hate sappy chick songs, so how about we agree to disagree?"
"I don't hate you, Nathan," Haley licked her lips. "I never could."
"I wish I could say the same for you, Hales, but I did for a long time."
"...but no longer?"
Nathan shrugged, "I just realized that the only reason I hated you so much was that I loved you so much."
Haley's heart beat wildly. "...and?"
"...and once I got over that, I forgave you. You were right to go after what you wanted."
No, she wasn't. She wanted to scream at him, but he was still talking.
"I should have stuck to basketball too," he smiled, "You did us a favor."
"Oh," she swallowed, "I'm glad you...got what you wanted."
"Hey, me too," he grinned. "We should have put this behind us a long time ago."
"Right," she found herself nodding incessantly, but couldn't seem to stop. "So you just wanted to...talk?"
"Well...I might have been slightly more selfishly motivated,"
He took a folder from a gym bag on the floor she hadn't notice until that very moment. "It just seemed so cold to do this via courier."
Divorce papers. She'd been expecting them every day for five years, but nothing prepared her for the shock of what he actually handed her.
"Yeah, I figured that was the best way to go. Have a great lawyer, he set it all up."
"So it's like...it never happened."
"Bingo. I thought it would be better that way. I know Brooke would prefer it."
"Yeah..." Haley frowned, "Brooke?"
But she didn't need to ask, she already knew.
"Think she'll like it?" Nathan broke open what was obviously the box for a ring.
He'd never given Haley an engagement ring.
Brooke's was beautiful, tiny saphires lined the white gold band surrounding a large diamond that had to be at least a carat.
Nathan smiled and stared at the ring, lost for a second in a world she had no part of.
Haley uncapped the pen and stared at her name.
"It was nice to see you again, Haley."
"You too," she croaked, catching his eye for what she knew would be the last time. "I really did love you."
It hung there for a second.
...and she signed the papers.