He didn't think he'd ever seen anyone look as beautiful as she did at this moment. Maybe it's because he hadn't seen her in awhile and he was stunned that anyone could be that heavenly. Maybe it's because the smile hadn't left her face or eyes since she walked through the door. Maybe it's because he was so proud of her, that he was blind to the other beauty in the room. It could be any one of these things, but mostly, he thought, it's that she really is the most beautiful creature he will ever set eyes on.
Man, what am I thinking? I can't be here. I shouldn't be here. Not today.
But here he stood, well more like lurked, in the back of the crowd. One face in a sea of thousands-yet somehow he hoped she saw him.
I know that I shouldn't, and it would be bad if she did. We've moved on. Both of us.
He had seen the Abercrombie model she walked in with-more importantly he had seen the way she looked at him. There's definitely something there. So why should it matter if she saw him? Why did he even care to be here?
I'm not sure what I was thinking, coming to her Graduation. I knew that I wouldn't actually talk to her-that would be too…hard. Awkward. Painful. So, why did I come? he kept asking himself. I had other things to do. Other obligations, but yet I was drawn to this place. To her.
He had told his girlfriend that he had a business trip today. He wasn't sure why he had lied. They were adults. All three of them. She should be able to handle the fact that he was going to watch an old friend graduate college.
But he knew that wasn't why he had lied.
He knew she could handle it. She was so secure in their relationship. In him. She knew that he'd never betray her.
He lied, he told myself, because she would insist that he call Brooke and tell her that he was coming. And he didn't want that.
But the truth was, as much as a he didn't want Brooke to know he was there. He didn't want Peyton to try to come with him.
This was something he needed to do on his own. It didn't make a lot of sense that a grown man, who was in an adult relationship with a woman he loved, would lie, to keep her from going to her ex best friends college graduation. It didn't even make sense that he wanted to go. But he had to see her-to see for himself that she was okay-better than okay. He needed to see that she had made it. That she had survived the hell that he had made her life.
And as she walked across the stage, received her diploma and flipped her tassel, he knew that she had. He could tell by the sparkle in her eyes and the depth of her dimples; he had not killed her spirit. And as he watched her walk down the stairs, he saw her engulfed into the arms of the Abercrombie model. He saw her wrap her arms around him as he lifted her in a hug. And then he saw it; an item that made his heart drop to his knees.
It had to be at least 4 carats. He could see it from where he was lurking and that was saying a lot. A beautiful diamond shone in the light on Brooke's all important finger and at that moment, he felt a twinge of jealousy that he had not been the one to put it there.
Stop it, Luke. You've got a girl. A good one. The one you always wanted, he reminded himself.
But reminding himself of Peyton sitting at home didn't make the twinge go away. It only increased the pain. He'd been living a great life for a few years now. He had graduated from school, with honors and a degree that had helped him attain his dream job. He had a novel that was about to be published and a girlfriend who would do anything for him.
But for the longest time, he'd felt like he was walking around in the dark.
He'd always wondered why he hadn't felt happier. He wasn't depressed-he liked his life. Sometimes (rarely) he even loved it. It was what he had chosen.
But there was a spark that was missing, and as that diamond shone in the light, a light was also turned on in his life and he saw everything clearly for the first time, in a long while.
He saw the spark that was missing from his own life. He saw that spark that made waking up each day worthwhile. The spark that made all the pain he had felt worthwhile.
He saw it in the hazel eyes of the girl he had let slip away.
The ceremony had long ended-but the crowd was still thick with people sending their best wishes and congratulations. Again, he stood at the back of the crowd and watched her from afar, as she stood with the Abercrombie model and was greeted by a steady stream of people. The same Davis spark that had made her one of the more popular girls in high school seemed to have stayed true in college. He smiled to myself, as he watched her head tilt back in laughter as more people greeted her. They were no doubt reminiscing about a funny night in school and again, he felt a twinge of jealousy that he wasn't privy to this knowledge; that he wasn't the one on the receiving end of her gentle laughter.
The sun was beginning to melt into the sky and he knew it was time to leave, Peyton would begin to wonder where he was and he didn't want to lie anymore than he already had. He tossed one last look in her direction, silently begging for her to see him and turned, with a heavy heart as she continued talking, to leave.
Something drew her eyes to the edge of the crowd. A man stood there, speaking with no one. This struck her as odd. If he didn't know anybody why was he at the graduation.
Maybe he just hadn't found the person he was looking for she thought to herself.
She squinted against the sun to get a better look at him. He looked vaguely familiar. And as her eyes adjusted to the suns' glare she realized it was him.
Her heart sank to her knees and her hand began to tremble. Justin leaned down and kissed her forehead and she smiled up at him-she couldn't let him see how shaken she was. But as her eyes refocused on him, she saw his figure descending the hill to the parking lot.
Before she knew what she was doing, she had dropped Justin's hand, mumbled an excuse about finding an old friend and ran off in his direction.
She panted as she made her way down the hill, wondering why she had worn these stiletto heals if she was going to be running and then remembering that she wasn't supposed to be running. She saw him reaching for his car door and then heard herself yelling "Lucas."
His eyes jerked up from the car door and he turned to see her-confusion evident on his face. He stood there unmoving as she slowly closed the space between herself and his car.
She hadn't really thought of what she was going to say when she had yelled his name. She just saw him slipping away again and knew she had to stop him. And now, as she stood face to face with him, no words came. For the first time since she could remember she was truly speechless.
She took this moment of awkward silence to take in his appearance. He looked ruggedly handsome in his black suit and loosened tie. He had the same blonde hair and blue eyes as before, yet somehow different. The spark that used to be make his eyes dance seemed to have dulled. But he was still the same boy. Man. The same man that could make her weak at the knees with his grin, no matter how hard she tried to fight it.
He stared back at her for a moment-almost regretting the close proximity. She was more beautiful close-up than he had remembered and could not believe that he had ever been able to stand this close to this woman without toppling over. His hands shook and he let a small grin creep across his face as if trying to ease the moment.
This was all that Brooke needed, "You came," she said.
Why is that the only thing I could say? she thought.
"I came," he repeated.
Why is that the only thing I could say? he thought.
Another awkward pause followed, both unsure what came next.
This was new territory for both of them and neither knew how to proceed.
"I," they both started and then nervously laughed.
"You go head." they both said again, the nervous laugher following.
Third awkward pause, she counted to herself.
"I wanted to see that you were ok," he said finally. "I've talked to Haley and she said that you were doing well. Good, in fact. But I wanted to see," he said plainly, hoping she could understand what he meant.
"I'm doing ok," she said softly, "Some days I'd even say great," she almost whispered as she brushed the ring on her hand, the ring that had caused him so much jealousy earlier.
"I'm…" she began wondering how to form the next word.
"You're engaged," he said for her. "It's a beautiful ring. He must be some guy to be able to afford that."
"He is," she said lightly. He really was.
"Congratulations." he said plainly, unsure of what he was supposed to say in the situation.
"Thank you," she said a smile appearing on her face for the first time since they spoke.
Awkward pause number four, he counted.
"So, how about you? You put a ring on anybody's finger yet?" She said, almost afraid of the answer she would get. But more afraid not to ask.
"No," he said with a grin, "haven't found the right girl yet." He knew the words were a lie as soon as they left his lips and a small part of him wondered if she could tell.
"Oh, well you'll find her someday," she said, reaching her arm out to lightly punch his shoulder. She wasn't expecting the electricity that fired through her veins at the contact.
"People who are meant to be together always find their way in the end," he replied, wondering to himself if she remembered that conversation.
"Yeah," she said with a smile, "they do."
They stood there, again in silence-this one not so awkward. They gazed into each others eyes, trying to say everything and nothing all at once.
The moment was soon broken by the sound of Lucas' phone vibrating in his pocket. He looked down at the caller ID, already knowing who it was and pressed ignore.
"Peyton," Brooke said, almost whispering the name.
Lucas nodded, in silence.
Brooke smiled again, knowing that their time was almost up. "Well you should get going…and so
should I really. I kind of just left Justin there-I'm sure he's wondering what's happened."
"Yeah I should go," he said. But he made no move for the car. Instead, his feet were planted firmly to the ground in front of her.
She nodded slightly, knowing that she would have to make the first move. She leaned into him and quickly wrapped her arms around him in a hug. She squeezed him tightly in her arms and he did the same. They stood there for several minutes wrapped up in the deep embrace; neither one wanting to be the first to release. And then suddenly her arms loosened around his body and his did the same. She lifted her head from his shoulder and quickly wiped away the tears that had managed to sneak their way down her cheek. She took a deep breath and biting her lip looked into his eyes.
They were almost as she had remembered, the sparkle returning but this time with a tinge of sadness, she thought.
She quickly dropped her arms from his shoulder and turned to walk away, her hand slowly slipping from his grasp.
She had gone not even ten steps, when she turned to him calling, "Lucas," her voice cracking with emotion.
He turned from the car, expectantly, tears beginning to well in his eyes.
"Do you really believe that people who are meant to be together always find their way in the end?" she asked.
He thought for a moment, knowing what she was really asking him and then simply replied," Yeah, yeah I do."
Her smile flashed across her face as the tears shone in her eyes. "Then we'll be alright," she said.
He stood there; staring at her. Her face was glowing, her eyes shining with tears and he felt that spark that had been missing for the past five years return.
He stood for a few more moments watching her and thinking again that she was the most beautiful
creature he had ever seen.
And then, as if completely aware of the others thoughts, they turned slowly away from each other.
Lucas climbed inside his car, headed home to his life with Peyton and Brooke made her way up the hill, to her life with Justin.
They were headed in different directions, for now.
But, they both knew where they were headed, in the end.