A/N: There are some spanish words/phrases...I'm apologizing now for any errors in them. I just used an online translator for them. Other than that, enjoy!

Chapter 9

Being away from Tree Hill really had been cathartic for her. She remembered the first few nights she spent in her new home. For hours she poured through some of Anna and Ellie's stuff – pictures, records, jewelry - that she had brought with her. Peyton cried and grieved for her moms. She let that part of herself go and it felt so liberating. It was only then when she could finally accept that it wasn't anyone's fault that they were gone – not theirs, not her father's and certainly not hers.

If there was anything else that she learned from her road trip, it was that she never wanted to feel that way ever again. Loneliness and depression were lingering around her and she could feel it. The sun hadn't yet risen to start the day yet when she rolled over in her bed and came face to face with framed pictures of her mothers. Then something inside her made her sit up and get out of her bed. Peyton got dressed and left into the fading dark night.

Not more than five minutes earlier, Lucas had made his choice. He handed the taxi cab driver his fare and little extra for a tip before getting out. Just as he stepped onto the curb, the yellow car pulled away and sped off in search of its next paying passenger. Lucas took a deep breath and gathered his courage. Deep down he knew that he was making the right choice.

Just as he was about to take a step, a dog started growling and barking loudly. Lucas looked up to his right and saw a dog heading right for him, pulling its resisting owner along.

"Pare ladrar y a hombre agradable, Charlie," the grandmotherly woman commanded to her dog.

Only a couple of feet separated Lucas from the growling canine when the elderly woman was able to get her dog to get her dog under control. Not wanting to take any chances, Lucas stepped back from the dog.

"Pare!" she said more sternly.

The Yellow Labrador Retriever obeyed his master and stopped barking. He started sniffing around and seemed to lose interest in Lucas.

"¡Hola! Sorry, Charlie entusiasmado with strangers," the smiling woman said through broken english.

"Oh, it's ok. He's a beautiful dog,"

"Si, when no barking. I Maria Rodriquez. I live there," she pointed at her house just to the right of where they were standing.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Lucas,"

"Ah, Lucas," her smile seemed to grow bigger.

Lucas returned the smile but he was beginning to get anxious. He wanted to talk to Peyton.

"I don't want to keep you and Charlie, but it was very nice to meet you," Lucas smiled politely. "I just came by to talk to Peyton,"

Charlie suddenly stood up and barked.

"Charlie," she said sternly before looking back up at Lucas. "Peyton not home,"

"Not home?" Lucas stopped in his tracks.

Senora Rodriquez remembered seeing young neighbor leave the house just as she was getting up to walk Charlie that morning.

"Si. She gone,"

Lucas looked across the street and saw Peyton's black Mercury Caliente convertible still sitting there. He looked back at Senora Rodriguez with confusion.

"Where did she go?" he asked in a panicked voice.

Senora Rodriguez seemed to struggle with not only her English but with Charlie and his leash. Slowly the leash was slipping from her hands and seconds later, Charlie was off and running.

"Charlie, usted perro malo...come back!" she yelled and started after him.

Lucas looked at Peyton's house and then at Senora Rodriquez who would never be able to catch her dog. Without a second thought Lucas took off running after Charlie.

"Don't worry. I'll get him,"

Senora. Rodriguez stopped and smiled gratefully as she watched him disappear across the street and into the woods, after Charlie.

As he approached the cliff's edge that overlooked Lake Lagunita, Charlie finally slowed down. He could sense sadness and loneliness in the air. Quietly he made his way to his favorite spot, right beside the grey rock that was already occupied by his new friend.

"Hey, boy…" Peyton said with surprise when saw Charlie suddenly appear beside her. "Did you run off from Senora Rodriquez again?"

Charlie panted and started guiltily at the blonde.

"You know that's not very nice," Peyton petted Charlie as he rested his head onto her lap. She started fishing for her cell in her pocket to let Senora Rodriguez know that Charlie was with her. Suddenly a branch snapped from behind. Peyton's head whipped around and saw the culprit looking just as startled as she was.

"Peyt…I thought…I um, the dog…" he stuttered out of breath.

"Ran off from Senora Rodriguez?" she filled in the blanks for him. "Yeah, he does that from time to time,"

Charlie let out a whine and just looked up at her. Peyton looked down and petted his head. She then looked out over the horizon. It was still nothing but darkness.

"Peyton," Lucas stepped forward.

Peyton didn't look back. Although she was shocked to see Lucas, she was glad he was there. There were some things she needed to say but at the same time she wasn't sure what do say. What she was sure of was that it wasn't going to be easy.

"I dog sit for Senora sometimes. The first time I watched Charlie for the night, he woke me up at 5:30 in the morning to do his business. After wandering aimlessly in the woods for fifteen minutes, we ended up here and after he did his thing, I thought great, now I can get back to bed. But Charlie here, walked right over to this very spot and sat down,"

Lucas listened carefully as she softly spoke. At the same time he walked closer to her.

"For a few minutes we just stared at each other. Me wanting to ring his neck and him, he just stared innocently back. Then the first light began to break. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I was just drawn to it and then next thing I know, I'm sitting right here,"

From the corner of her eye, she saw Lucas taking a seat beside her. She still refused to look at him. Her eyes fell to her hands that were fidgeting nervously.

As if he knew they needed some time alone, Charlie took his head from Peyton's lap. But he also wasn't going to leave Peyton alone with Lucas just yet. So he carefully laid down beside Peyton's feet.

"Remember last summer when it was just you and me? We'd go to the beach and watch the sun set…"

Lucas nodded and smiled at the memory they shared.

"I've always seen the sun set, ending the day, but I never saw a sun rise till I came here. And this may sound stupid but occurred to me that no matter how bad my day was, the sun would always rise the next day and it would be my choice; I could either dwell on the past and things I can't control or I could try to move on and be happy,"

Peyton wiped a stray tear that fell and then looked at him. "With or without you, Luke," her voice began to crack, "I have to move on. I can't…"

"Peyt," he interrupted. Lucas knew he could let her finish. He could already feel her slipping away from him again. "Before you say anything else…I owe you an apology. I've said a lot of things that I never meant and I've been unfair to you. I don't know. I guess I was just scared because there is exactly one person who can ever break my heart… but I know that if I let that person go because I'm stupid and scared, my heart will never be complete,"

Peyton looked up at him wide eyed. Lucas stared back with soft and loving eyes that looked into her bare soul. She wasn't slipping away anymore, he was holding her hand. A delicate smile fell across his lips.

"So if you're gonna move on…than I'm just gonna have to move on with you. I'm not going to lose you again, Peyton,"

She still hadn't said a word since he interrupted. It seemed like all the right words that could express her love, her happiness and joy were spoken directly to him through her doting hazel eyes and blushing smile. The first rays of sunlight began to peak over the horizon. The yellow-orange colours casted a glow on her flawless face.

"It's not just a new day, Peyt," he smiled as he outlined her face with his finger. "It's the beginning of you and me,"

"This is too perfect to be real," she whispered as she closed her eyes. Moments like these just never happened to Peyton Sawyer, not unless she was dreaming.

Lucas let his forehead rest on hers, "It's real, Peyt. I promise,"

With her eyes still closed, she let the warmth of his lips draw hers in. Their soft lips grazed each other before he backed away slightly. Peyton's eyes fluttered open.

"I thought you said you wanted to wait till our first date?" he said smugly.

"Luke, the sun is rising and we're finally together…don't ruin it, ok?"

The smug in his grin turned into a genuine smile. He let his hand brush through her curls as his eyes continued to twinkle in hers. Peyton caressed his cheek as he neared her face.

As the new day started for Lucas and Peyton, their eyes closed simultaneously as their lips met for their long awaited kiss.

A/N: Sorry for the delay on this chapter. I was having trouble with the LP conversation and I wanted Charlie to have a bigger part – more protective with Peyton but I think it ended up ok. I think one more chapter will end this story nicely, but it may take a while so just bare with me. Thanks! R&R's are always appreciated.