A.N. Hey, Amanda here to write this chapters note, seeing as how it's my fault that we haven't updated since, mmm August. That's all my fault. Elena actually had this chapter done and I totally dropped the ball. But we are officially re-committed to this story. I'm going to be getting to work on the next chapter any day now so stay tuned! And review!

Chapter 3: Comfortable Silence

I was happy in my harbor, When you cut me loose

Floating on an ocean, And confused

Winds are whipping waves up, Like sky scrapers

And the harder they hit me

The less I seem to bruise

Silent Sea, KT Tunstall

"You know," she called out, snapping shut her cell phone. "When you called and said come get me, I'm stranded," Peyton Sawyer said slowing to a stop beside her best friend on the side of the road. "I thought you meant you had a flat tire."

Brooke pulled herself up on her bare feet and sighed, exhausted. "Yeah well seeing as how I've been walking home for the past hour…" She shrugged. "A flat tire would probably be very accurate. Look at my feet!" She pointed down to her dirty toes. "Now imagine walking half that distance in these!" She held up her heels.

Peyton winced. "Duly noted my pedicure needing friend." She laughed and pressed the unlock button in her car.

Limping over pebbles and dirt Brooke pulled the car door open and plopped down inside. Wincing, she pulled her feet inside and slammed the door shut. "Don't ask." She groaned and leaned back in the seat.

"I didn't say a word." Peyton snickered and turned the volume up on her stereo. Soon her Emo music was blaring out the speakers and filling Brooke with an odd sense of peace—not that she'd ever admit that to Peyton. Peyton lowered her top down and smiled over at Brooke, giving her a knowing wink.

Brooke smiled to herself as she felt the soft strands of her hair brush across her face in the wind. This was just what she needed, a nice Emo music filled car ride with her best friend. Now if only her feet weren't throbbing in pain things would be superb.

She watched as Peyton searched through her numerous stacks of CD's in her car and waited as she ejected one mix for another. The song started off slow and just when Brooke thought she was going to actually enjoy the song it broke out into a loud angry guitar solo, followed by ear piercing male screams. Was this even music? Or just an excuse to make Brooke want to off herself?

As if Aunt Jules and Nathan Scott hadn't already ruined her night, now she had to deal with this. She groaned and slumped down further in her seat. The revelation that her father's business was doing so poorly curdled in her stomach like spoiled milk. Why hadn't he ever said anything? Add

that to the Nathan factor and she had every excuse to get piss poor drunk. How could she have allowed Nathan to get under her skin the way he had? She had given him the upper hand by walking out of the party the way she had. She would bet he was chuckling to himself now in triumph.

"I hate him," she grumbled as a new song started.

"You hate who?" Peyton asked, lowering her music. "Anthony Raneri?"

Brooke wrinkled her nose. "Who?"

"The lead singer of Bayside—duh." She rolled her eyes and pointed to the stereo.

"Ugh, no!" Brooke shook her head vigorously. "Nathan. I hate him." She crossed her arms over her chest.

"Uh oh. I know that look," Peyton said worried. "You got that same look the night you met Lucas." She snorted, stopping at a red light.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Brooke grumbled, "I was drunk the night I met Lucas. I'm perfectly sober as of right now and I can tell you in my perfectly sober state of mind that I hate, hate, hate Nathan Scott." She huffed.

Peyton pressed her foot to the gas and revved her engine to pass up a group of immature frat boys. "So I'm guessing you want to go for a drink at Tric after you change out of the monkey suit." She eyed the dress Brooke wore.

Brooke turned her face towards her blonde comrade and grinned. "You know me so well."

---x---

"I'm telling you, he's pure evil!" Brooke shouted over the loud music in the bar Peyton owned, "And what's worse is the fact that he thinks he's God's gift to man." She snorted and tossed back another shot. "Well he's not and I'm going to be the one to show him." She nodded, assured of her drunken plan.

Peyton sighed and motioned for the bartender to walk over, "Coffee, please," she muttered into his ear. "My friend here is done."

Beck's "Loser" blared out the speakers and Brooke suddenly jumped up. "You know what? This is a perfect song for him!"

"For who?" Peyton said, pulling her friend back down into her seat.

"Nathan!" She said exasperated. "Who else?"

"Lucas perhaps?" The curly blonde of the two mumbled under her breath.

Brooke exhaled a deep breath and squinted down at her watch. "Where the hell is Lucas?" She pursed her lips and looked towards the door. "Wasn't he supposed to be here like an hour ago?"

"Two hours ago." Peyton rolled her eyes and stood up. "You called him two hours ago." She reached for the cup of coffee that was held out to her. "Thanks Marc." She winked at her server and set the cup down in front of Brooke. "Here. Drink. Now."

Brooke frowned. "Gee, alright mom," she snorted into the cup and sipped. Her eyes scanned the room one more time for Lucas before landing on Peyton. "I suppose sex is out of the question for tonight." She heaved a sigh and set the mug back down onto the table. "Too bad too because it would have really helped me rid myself of all the frustration I've been dealing with lately."

Peyton groaned, "You know, this non-exclusive thing you have going on with Lucas is a complete joke Brooke," she said, knowing her comment was falling on deaf ears. "It's such a lame ass idea and I'm scared that in the end you're just going to end up hur—"

"Lucas!" Brooke suddenly shouted, interrupting Peyton's breakthrough. "Hey pseudo-boyfriend!" She greeted him with a sloppy wet kiss. "Where the hell have you been?" She pouted, still a bit under the influence.

Lucas smiled down at her guilty and tilted her chin up to place a small kiss on her lips. "I'm sorry baby. I got caught up playing a game with the boys down at the Rivercourt." His eyes were all for her, but the entire exchange still repulsed the third wheel at the table. He was such a liar. Lucas cleared his throat and looked over at the other woman. "Peyton." He nodded his head.

She snorted in response. Her true feelings for him were never sugar coated. She hated him because she knew he was bad for her best friend. Simple as that. He was a dog that fed Brooke lines so cheesy and fake it made Peyton want to gag each time Brooke melted in his presence.

"Broody, I want to take you home with me! Okay?" Brooke tilted her head to the side, her hair falling over her bare shoulder.

Lucas allowed his eyes to drink her in and shivered. "Absolutely Davis." He nodded and picked her up into his arms. "Sawyer, it was nice seeing you again." He laughed and carried a squealing Brooke Davis out of the bar.

Peyton shook her head and walked off to her car.

---x---

Light. Everywhere, and it was bright, so bright it was blinding her. Her head spun and the world tilted. She groaned and flopped over to her stomach—landing on top of a warm body.

"Shit!" She gasped in fright. "Lucas?" She squinted down at the snoring form below her. He groaned and rolled over to spoon her against his chest. Beyond annoyed she wiggled out of his arms and wobbled over to the bathroom.

Horrified at her reflection she groaned again and turned the sink on to splash cold water against her face. She felt like she looked, like shit.

Her stomach rolled and she set her hands on the sides of the sink to wait out the nausea. She filled the sink up with cool running water and dunked her face under. Coming up for air she screamed upon seeing Haley standing behind her in the mirror.

"You scared the crap out of me Haley!" She hissed reaching blindly behind her for a towel.

Haley handed her one and scowled. "So this is where you were last night huh? With him?" She snapped, her mouth set in a thin line.

"And Peyton!" Brooke paused. "I think…" She bit her bottom lip guilty.

Haley clenched her eyes shut and took a deep breath. "I thought this was over Brooke. I really did," she whispered, opening her eyes to look at her

sister in shame.

"Don't look at me like that." Brooke muttered and brushed past her sister to reenter her room.

"Like what?" Haley scoffed. "Like I'm disappointed in you? Because I am." She crossed her arms over her robe. "Peyton told me everything this morning when she called to ask if you were okay." She further scolded. "What happened last night Brooke? How could you in one night screw up what you've been working on for months?!" she shouted.

Lucas winced and covered his head with a pillow. "Hmmph," he groaned. Both Davis sisters rolled their eyes and turned back to face each other.

"So I had a couple drinks, so what?" Brooke snapped, picking up discarded pieces of clothing around her room. "It's not like I got piss ass drunk and slept with some random guy. Because those days are over." She snorted and sat down at the edge of her bed to set her face into her hands, the weight making Lucas flinch before rolling over and going back to sleep.

"What did he say to you last night?" Haley whispered, concerned for her sister. Brooke grimaced and looked over her shoulder at Lucas. "Ugh, not him." Haley gestured towards Lucas disgusted. "Nathan. What did Nathan say to you last night to upset you so much?"

Brooke shook her head. "I honestly don't even remember. All I know is that he makes me want to rip my eyes out. Or rip his out, I'm not quite sure yet." She snorted and fell backwards onto her bed, her back landing on Lucas. He grunted again and buried himself deeper under the covers.

"Talk to me Brooke. This isn't all about him," Haley pushed. "Besides, if its any consolation Nathan was pretty upset after you left last night. He huddled up into a corner of the room and scowled the entire rest of the night." She chuckled. "It was quite amusing. Jake and I spent most of the night poking fun at him."

"Good, I hope he had a crappy night." She sulked and slid an absent hand up and down Lucas's back. She chuckled at the way he sleepily reached behind himself to itch his back, completely unaware that she was the one tickling him.

Haley made a disgusted noise and stomped her foot. "Can we focus here? What the hell happened last night? Peyton said you kept going on and on about how much you hated Nathan and were gonna get him back or something to that nature." She shook her head confused.

"Ugh. I don't know Hales, he's just so… so infuriating!" She shouted, despite the way it made her head pound.

"Funny, Jake says he says the same thing about you." Haley smirked.

Brooke raised her head and arched a brow at the second mention of Jake. "So how are things with the Jagielski boy?" She smiled, settling herself up on an elbow as she leaned against Lucas's back for support.

Haley shrugged as her cheeks blushed red. "Oh, I don't know." She smiled to herself and began to nervously fold some of Brookes clothes.

"Oh you so do know!" Brooke squealed and hopped over Lucas' comatose body towards her sister. "Oh, ow." She winced and grabbed her head in pain. "It felt like my brain was rattling around." She winced.

Haley's motherly side kicked in and she caved. She could never stay mad at Brooke for too long. She pulled her sister into her arms and hugged her gently. "Come on, I'll make you some coffee and we'll discuss…" She shuddered. "Lucas."

Brooke's eyes followed Haley's and both Davis girls sighed. Lucas rolled over to his back and flung his arm out across the bed. "You have to admit though," Brooke spoke in her defense. "He's so cute when he sleeps."

Haley rolled her eyes and walked out of the room shaking her head.

---x---

He was like a boomerang. No matter how far she threw him, he always came back. But this time she had no excuse, she had been the one to call him first. She had been the one to get drunk and throw herself at him. Ugh. Alcohol sucked.

So now there she was, seated across from him at the kitchen table wishing she were doing anything but what she was about to do. Which was to tell him that last night… was a mistake.

"Lucas—"

"Brooke—"

They both paused to laugh.

"You first." Lucas said taking her hands in his from across the table.

Brooke gulped down her guilt and stared at their entwined hands. She gently withdrew her fingers and set them down into her lap. Oh boy. "So, last night was…"

"Great! We had such chemistry last night Brooke!" Lucas leaned over the table to grasp her hands once more. "It's never been like that between us. But I think I know why it was so hot this time." He squeezed her hands.

She cringed. "Why?"

"Because we haven't really even seen each other in like… weeks!" He scoffed. "Didn't you miss me pretty girl?" He brushed the hair from her face attentively.

No. Not really. Brooke thought to herself. Did she miss the way he stayed over night after night and mooched off her like a leech? No, she did not. Did she miss the way his eyes wandered to the passing female ass while she was standing right there beside him? No, she did not. And did she miss the way both Haley and Peyton frowned at her at the mere mention of Lucas?

No, she did not.

But she had to admit she had a soft spot in her heart when it came to Lucas Roe. He could be so charming when he wanted to be. She looked up at him, trying her hardest to keep a straight face. He took her silence as the go ahead to press his lips to hers. Crap. She quickly pulled away and

opened her mouth to respond.

"Lucas, look—"

He interrupted her with his lips again. "Brooke, I think we should give this another go. I don't want to see other people. I want to see you." He nodded. "What do you say?"

"No," she blurted. Dear god did she really just do that? Yes, yes she did.

He blinked at her several times before pulling his hands away from her face. "Umm…" He shook his head confused. "Excuse me?"

She groaned. "Luke, look last night was… actually I don't really remember much of last night, but I do know that it was a mistake. You don't want me Lucas. You just think that you do because the sex is great." She sighed and rubbed her hands over her face. "I can't do this again." She motioned between the two of them. "I don't want to support you while you're 'between jobs'. I don't want to stay up late at night wondering where the hell you are. I don't want to have to look the other way while you ogle some passing skank—"

"It's just looking Brooke. It's not like I'm acting on it," Lucas interjected.

She shook her head. "You mean like you didn't act on it with Stacy?" she scoffed. "Or with Julia, or Loren—or Heather?" Her voice rose with each name. The pain returning all at once. "You were quite the man-whore Lucas," she said.

"Brooke, that was a long time ago. I thought we moved past that." He stood up from the table to pace the room. "You were the one who came up with the idea to date nonexclusively!" he barked.

"I know!" she shouted and stood from the table as well. "But… God I don't know what I'm doing here! I can't be with you Lucas. You hurt me so bad. And this thing… Whatever it is? It's no different. You hurt me every time you hook up with some other chick," her voice wavered.

"But we're not together!" He defended his actions. "This was your idea, remember?"

She nodded sadly, "Yeah, I know that Lucas. But think about it, have I hooked up with anyone other than you?" she whispered.

He remained silent.

She bit her bottom lip. "I think you should go. This is over," she muttered, gulping down the ball in her throat.

"Brooke, don't do this. We can start over." He crossed the room to lift her chin up with a hand. "I'll change. I swear I will," he promised.

She shook her head. "You always say that Lucas." Her eyes darted behind him to see Haley standing in the doorway. Brooke pulled away from Lucas and wiped at her face. "Hey Hales," she said in greeting. "Uh, how long you been standing there?"

"Long enough," Haley growled. "Why is he still here?" She sneered.

"And hello to you too Haley." Lucas rolled his eyes.

"Look, she doesn't want to see you anymore. So just hit the road okay? She doesn't have time for your bullshit Lucas. Besides, she's seeing someone else. A real man," Haley snapped.

"I am?" Brooke frowned in confusion.

"Yeah!" Haley spoke up again. "And he's rich and handsome and…" Haley reached for more lies. "And he treats her so well, but most of all?" She walked further into the room. "He doesn't make her cry."

Lucas balked at this. "W-what?" He sputtered and turned to glare at Brooke. "So that's why you wanted to break things off? I can't believe you!"

"I'm not seeing anyone else!" Brooke laughed. "She's lying!"

"Yeah," Lucas scowled back at her. "Right. Now who's the whore, huh?" He brushed past her and grabbed his jacket. The sound of the door slamming caused both Davis girls to flinch.

"Thanks a lot Haley." Brooke whispered.

"Well someone had to grow some balls and tell him to get out of your life," Haley snapped, angry. "I'm so sick of this Brooke! Why do you always let him talk you into getting back together when you know deep down inside he's just going to hurt you again! Grow up, will you?" she scolded further.

Brooke blinked back at her sister in shock. Grow up? All she'd ever done since her mothers death was grow up. How dare Haley accuse her of anything less. She felt chastised and small, a feeling she would have expected from anyone, but the person standing before her. Lucas may have made her cry, but he'd never hurt her the way Haley had just then. She covered her mouth with a hand to suck back a sob and shoved past Haley.

"Brooke, wait." Haley dove to follow her sister. "Brooke, I'm sorry for how I said what I said, but its true! Its for your own good! He's not worth—" She was met with Brooke's door slamming in her face.

---x---

She wandered the beach silently, the man beside her meeting her stride for stride with patience. With each step her toes sunk into the moist sand and though the sensation was strange, she loved it. Another warm breeze fluttered past them and blew the fair colored hair from her face. She

sighed and stopped in their brisk walk to kneel down and retrieve a seashell.

As the waves crashed against each other Haley looked on down the shore and sighed wistfully. As much as she was comforted by Jake's presence, she couldn't stop thinking about Brooke. She still couldn't explain what had compelled her to lie to Lucas the way she had. The entire time she just couldn't stop thinking of the hundreds of times Brooke had spent crying herself to sleep.

She wouldn't let that happen again. She couldn't. She was the older sister. It was her job to keep her sisters hearts from being broken. Right?

She hadn't realized she'd started to cry until she felt Jake's arms pulling her to his chest. She buried her face in his neck and allowed herself to let go. All the while Jake remained quiet and for this she was grateful. He knew she'd tell him what was wrong when the time was right. For now she simply wanted to rest in his arms and struggle to forget the look of hate she had seen in Brooke's eyes that morning.

She'd been wrong in telling Brooke to grow up. Brooke was the most responsible one in the entire Davis estate. She felt guilty, severely shameful, for the hurtful words that had come out of her mouth. She tightened her arms around Jake's waist and cried silently. She'd always been

the emotional one of the bunch.

With one arm securely wrapped around her, Jake sighed and continued to rub a gentle hand up and down Haley's back with his free hand. Nathan would start to worry about his whereabouts soon if Jake didn't go back inside. Rachel would freak out if she knew he were with Haley, a girl his sister considered a waste of her brother's time. He scoffed at this, Haley was meant for him and he was meant for her. The comfortable silence between them now was all the proof he needed.

"I'm sorry." Haley wiped at her face and pulled away suddenly. "God you must think I'm a total mess." She laughed softly.

He pulled a handkerchief out of his back pocket and handed it to her politely. "Why would I think that? I'm just glad you called me when you did. It means a lot to me that you would trust me enough to come walk with you." He smiled at her slightly, his hand moving to brush the hair from her face. "God, you're so gorgeous," he whispered, shocked by her beauty.

Haley blushed. "Yeah, right." She laughed and used the cloth to wipe under her eyes. "But thanks you for saying that anyways." She smiled.

"I mean it," he spoke seriously, taking another step closer. "Look, I know we just met and all but… I have to be honest with you Haley." He laughed. "I like you… a lot," he said genuinely.

She blinked up at him in surprise. "I like you a lot, too Jake." She smiled, her lips turning up at the corners and making Jake's heart skip a beat.

"Come to dinner tonight," he blurted out. "Please?" His eyes pleaded with her to oblige. "You can bring Brooke if you like."

She shook her head sadly. "I don't know if she'd come. She's very upset with me right now." She bit her bottom lip. "Maybe another time though? I have to go now. I'm sorry for taking up so much of your time Jake. Thank you for—"

Jake's hand darted out to lightly cover her mouth. "Please, the pleasure was all mine. And every second spent with you is worth all the time in world, okay?"

She blushed deeper. "Jake." She playfully pushed him. "You're making me blush."

"Good," He teased. "You're even more beautiful when you blush." He slid a finger down the side of her flawless face. "Just think about tonight, okay? At least promise me that," he asked of her.

She nodded. "I will."

His face lit up. "Great." He raised her hand to his lips. "I'll see you later Haley." He winked and backed away slowly just as Nathan's form appeared from out the back of the beach house.

"Hey, Jagielski!" he shouted. "What the hell?" He tapped his watch dramatically. "We gotta go! Dan's waiting!"

"I'll be right there!" Jake called back through cupped hand and turned back to Haley who was already halfway down the beach. With a sigh he trudged up the hill towards home and silently prayed she'd grace his dinner that night with her wonder presence.

---x---

"You're going." Aunt Jules snapped at Brooke later that evening as she shifted through Brooke's closet. "And I don't want to hear another word. Not one!" She pointed at the pouting brunette and went back into the closet.

Brooke groaned and flopped backwards onto her bed. Why did Jake have to call their house and ask them to dinner? If he wanted to see Haley, why the hell didn't he just ask her out? She hated the customs of the old fashioned south sometimes, as formal as it was it was annoying. Haley just had to insist that Brooke go with her to dinner that night. Knowing full well how upset Brooke was with her, she still had the gall to even ask.

"Oh I can see it already. The wedding will be beautiful." Jules sighed and clutched her hands to her heart.

Brooke sat up on her elbows. "Haley and Jake?" She questioned, curious.

Jules snorted. "No, you and Nathan. Of course Haley and Jake!" She shook her head and set her hands on her hips as she looked into the closet once more. "You know, now that I think of it. It wouldn't be such a bad idea to start being nicer to Nathan. He does make almost double what Jake does and—"

"I am so not hearing this!" Brooke covered her ears in disgust.

Jules frowned at the pink dress in her hands then shook her head and hung it back up. "Need I remind you of the situation we are all in, Brooklyn?" She eyed her niece from the corner of her eye.

Brooke buried her face into her pillow. "I wish you'd let me talk to dad about that. We're all old enough to get jobs of our own you know."

Jules scoffed. "Are you kidding me? What would people say? No, I will not have that happen. No respectable man will even think to ask for your hand if he even hears a rumor that you were not financially stable."

"God forbid—"

"Exactly." Jules nodded. "And about talking to your father? Out of the question. He's already stressed out enough as it is. Can you imagine the strain you'd be putting on him by allowing him to know that you were aware that he was unable to care for his family? It would devastate him Brooklyn. Use your brain."

Brooke cowered into her bed and thought about the stupidity of her ideas. As absurd as it was that woman in her class were not allowed to work for a living, it was true. No well brought up man in his right mind would think to marry a woman who got her hands dirty. As for telling her father she knew he was in trouble financially? She'd rather die than upset or hurt him in any way. She loved her father more than anything, why would she even think to embarrass him by offering to get a job to help out? It would almost be like a slap in the face.

Brooke frowned and cursed her life.

She hated secrets. Yet that was all her family seemed to be keeping these days. Secrets from each other and secrets from the vast social circles in Tree Hill. What she would give to live in a society where it didn't matter how much you made or how you made it. Was it so difficult to

just simply live?

"Ah! Perfect!" Jules rushed out of the walk in closet with a classy looking royal blue ensemble in her hands. "Now go shower and I'll have these ironed and ready to go when you get out." She grinned happily.

Haley poked her head into the room then, cautiously looking at her sister. "Um, Brooke? Can I get your opinion on something, please?" She was reaching for a lifeline and Brooke knew it. Her anger subsided for a moment at the nervous way Haley tugged at the belt on her robe. She looked like she was about to be sick with worry. Brooke sighed and motioned her inside the room.

Jules sat at the end of the bed in wait and clasped her hands in her lap patiently. Brooke rolled her eyes at this and licked her lips as she waited for Haley to show them her choice in attire. Haley pulled forth a white sundress which would fall to just past her knees, it was breathtaking.

Brooke knew that her sister would look elegant and stunning in it and she was about to say so, but stopped herself. She was still somewhat upset with their argument from that morning.

"That'll look nice." Brooke nodded her head and went into her bathroom, shutting the door behind her gently.

Jules gave her niece a sympathetic look and stood to iron Brooke's clothes.

---x---

Nathan fidgeted with his collar and growled at his reflection in the mirror. He looked like a jackass. Jake entered his room walking on air and smiled over at his long time best friend. Nathan rolled his eyes and walked away from where he stood to grab another shirt out of his closet.

Why did it matter what he wore anyways? It wasn't as if the dinner was meant for him, it was meant for Jake to get closer to Haley. A small voice in the back of his mind whispered out to him then, reminding him of who else would be in attendance that night. Brooke, the dimpled brunette who derailed him in so many ways he'd yet to figure out why.

Why did his hands shake and his body heat up at the mere thought of her? Why did he toss and turn each night wondering what she was doing? Why couldn't he gather his thoughts and compose himself like he usually could? God, he'd been such an ass to her that night. But he was always an ass so why was now any different?

"Hello? Earth to Nate!" Jake waved a hand in front of his friend. "You alright?" He chuckled.

Nathan shook his thoughts clear and grunted. "Yeah, why?" He grabbed a navy blue polo shirt from out his closet. "Hand me that belt over there, will ya?" he asked as he pulled the white dress shirt over his head to replace with the new darker blue number. He took the belt from Jake with a

thankful nod and proceeded to wrap the leather around his waist. He looked back at his reflection more satisfied this time around, the blue shirt went well with the beige khakis.

"You look nice." Jake nodded and pursed his lips. "So, tell me. When did this dinner go from me and Haley to you and Brooke?"

Nathan spun around to scowl at him. "What?" he spat.

Jake laughed. "Chill out, I was teasing. Although…" He flinched when Nathan socked him in the arm. "Alright, alright. I'm out of here." He winced and clutched at his bruised arm. "See you at dinner." He exited the room.

"Yeah, see ya." Nathan said and turned back to his reflection. A look down at his watch told him the girls were due any minute and as if on cue he heard the front door open followed by Rachel's shrill welcome.

He snorted at this. She was so full of shit. Just that afternoon she'd thrown a fit at Jake's notion to invite Haley and especially Brooke over. Nathan was clueless as to why the fiery redhead hated the brunette so much, but didn't care enough to ask. He wasn't due downstairs for at least

another 20 minutes. Which meant he could slip out to mentally prepare himself for dinner.

"You have a lovely home." He heard Haley's enthralled voice and rolled his eyes. With a frustrated growl he grabbed a book from his nightstand and snuck downstairs and out the back door towards the beach. Thankfully, no one had seen him. As he trotted down the shore for a spot he paused at the sight before him.

"You have to be kidding me," he muttered under his breath and stomped over towards the lonesome Brooke Davis. "Why aren't you inside?" he snapped as he towered over her.

She ignored him and continued to stare out at the sea. Her long white skirt blew nicely in the wide, fluttering against her legs beautifully. The straps on her royal blue camisole wrapped around her neck elegantly to expose the delicately tanned skin on her shoulders and bare back. She was beautiful and he was speechless.

Nathan Scott did not like this feeling one bit.

"Well?" He demanded. "Are you going to answer me or not?" he snapped again. She answered him by grabbing her matching blue sandals and slowly moving past him down the beach. Her thoughts were elsewhere as she walked attentively along the shore, the water nipping at her toes. Her unashamed brush off sent Nathan in a hurricane of frustration. How dare she!

He quickly started to storm after her. "Do you make it a habit to piss me off?" he shouted out as he struggled to catch up to her without sprinting forward. He was suddenly glad he hadn't worn any shoes, else he'd be knee deep in the sand.

She only stopped when his hand darted out to catch her at her elbow and whirl her around to face him. "What?" She growled back at him in annoyance. "I was walking away, leaving you alone. Forgive me for breathing your air." She shoved him back.

Shocked at her outburst, Nathan fumbled for the right words to say. "Well… Good," he managed. Lame. He was so lame.

She glared up at him, her mind racing with so many different thoughts. Lucas, her father, aunt Jules, her sisters… Haley. She missed Haley, it hadn't even been a full day and she couldn't wait to go back inside the house to pull her sister aside and apologize. The silence between them was

deafening, it unsettled her to the point where she couldn't fully function without thinking about it. The ride over had been hell. Haley had tried so hard to get her sister to open up and forgive her yet Brooke had refused to budge.

And now here was Nathan, the last thing she needed was to add one more thing to her list of shitty things that day. Nathan was now her number one. He stood before her with an air of arrogance and a giant chip on his shoulder. She wanted so badly just then to knock it right off.

She had a perfectly nasty comment just at the tip of her tongue, yet she found herself keeping quiet. There was just too much on her mind and not enough strength to fight with Nathan. "What do you want from me Nathan?" She groaned. "Because if you couldn't tell by now, I'm having a bad day and you standing here now before me is just making it worse."

At her words, his entire superior demeanor demolished before her very eyes. It surprised her for a moment, seeing him with a look of confusion written over his face. She mentally patted herself on the back for this and then tried to walk away. Of course, Nathan would not have this. No one was ever allowed to have the last word but him. Which was quite ironic seeing as how he'd yet to ever have the last word with Brooke Davis.

"You know some of us are having an equally shitty day as well," he snapped, releasing her arm when she looked down at his fingers that were now wrapped around her wrist. "So imagine my reaction when I find out I'm going to be sitting at the dinner table with the bane of my existence."

"You don't even know me well enough to come to that conclusion. If anything I'd say I am the reality check you so desperately need." Her eyes narrowed.

His jaw tightened. "Why must you be so stubborn? Can you not just shut your mouth and leave it at that?" he bit out as he struggled for resolve before he continued. "I don't know what it is about you that makes me so completely frustrated I want to rip my eyes out." He grunted.

Brooke's mouth fell open in shock. "Shut my mouth and leave it at that?" she scoffed. "You are truly unbelievable. What time period were you raised in? Better yet who were you raised by? Cavemen? If I make you so miserable than why don't you do us both a damn favor and simply walk away," she hissed evenly. "If you're not quite sure how to master that then allow me

to demonstrate." She glared seconds before storming off towards the house.

Nathan stared after her for several moments before roaring out into the sky in pure frustration. Without warning his book soared through the air and straight into the crashing waves before him.

He never would find out just how that novel ended, it was just one more thing to add to the list of reason why he hated Brooke Davis…