Author's Note: Oh my God! Thank you all so much for your reviews! I'm so amazed that you all like this story so much and your reviews inspired me to get this chapter written so I'm posting it now. :) I like the way it came out so I hope you all do too. Don't hesitate to critique it if you think somethings wrong but also, if you like something, I love hearing about it. As always, enjoy :)
Brooke stood in front of the bathroom mirror fidgeting with her hair for the hundredth time that morning. She started with it up, then down, then half up, ponytail, curly and she was still messing with it despite being ten minutes late already.
"You pretty." Tyler sat on the bathroom counter staring up at her as she finally settled for leaving her hair down in long waves.
"Thank you baby." Brooke leaned forward and kissed his forehead then scooped him off the counter.
As soon as his feet hit the floor he was off and running across the house, giggling as Brooke chased him.
"Alright, I am off. You have my cell phone number if you need me."
"Oui." The petite blonde babysitter nodded.
"And I'm just right around the corner so I can be back in minutes if something happens."
"Um…" Brooke frowned as if she were trying to remember something that she was forgetting, "Okay, I'm leaving. Ty, give me a kiss."
Tyler ran to her and wrapped himself around her legs, staring up at her with a gigantic smile across his face.
"I love you." Brooke leaned down and grabbed his cheeks playfully forcing him to pucker while she gave him a kiss, "Be good for Jenay alright?"
"Okay!" Tyler once again took off running and Brooke sighed, looking over at her teenage babysitter one more time.
"Right around ze corner." Jenay smiled, "Don't worry Brooke. I will take good care of him."
Brooke wondered if she was making a mistake. Going to Lucas's book signing? Was she stupid or just naïve? The book had been good but it didn't mean he was telling the truth. Three of the four years they had been together he was lying to her. How could she possibly think this was going to be any different?
"Go." Jenay ushered her towards the door laughing, "Go before I make you go."
Her French accent made her hard to understand sometimes but Brooke understood that line completely. She laughed and obliged, heading for the front door. She stood still for a second, taking a deep breath before she began to walk. She was officially on her way. There could be no turning back now.
The line at the bookstore was almost as long as her walk. Hundreds of people clutching their copies of Lucas's book stood, waiting patiently to meet the author and have their books signed. She gulped and clutched her own copy, afraid that if she had to wait, her will to stay wouldn't survive as long as the line.
"Brooke! You came!" The bookshop owner smiled at her as she handed out samples of coffee to the patrons waiting in line, "Come inside. You don't have to wait in line. You work here."
Brooke was confused for a second and then her friend winked at her and she understood. If it looked like she worked at the store the patrons couldn't get upset that she was getting special treatment.
"I left him at home with a babysitter." Brooke bit her lower lip nervously as they approached the entrance of the store, "I figured he wouldn't make it through the long line although I guess, if I work here, he wouldn't have had to wait."
"You're my best customer. How could I make you wait and besides, you know him right?"
Brooke nodded slowly as they entered the shop and although her friend continued to talk, all sound ceased except the sound of her heart beating faster and faster, her eyes landing directly on Lucas Scott sitting across the shop, no more than thirty feet away from her. She wasn't sure what to do with him in the same room after such a long time. She almost turned to run back out of the shop but then his eyes connected with hers and her feet rooted themselves to the spot.
"Excuse me for one second." Lucas smiled at the lady who was next in line to have her book signed as he stood up from his seat, his eyes never leaving the woman standing at the front of the store, for fear that if he looked away, she would be gone.
It took no more than 15 long strides and he was next to her, his heart thumping in his chest as if it wanted to escape.
"Are you really here right now?"
Brooke smiled, trying to hide the confusion and nervousness that were running through her brain. She nodded but didn't say a word.
"I can't believe this. Brooke, I…"
"You have a book signing to finish." She motioned to the waiting fans and he shook his head, looking straight into her eyes.
"They can wait. I can't go back to that when I finally have you standing right here in front of me. I've been looking for you."
"I know." Brooke sighed, "I read the book and I think we have a lot to talk about so you go do your book signing and I'm not going anywhere."
"You promise?" Lucas knew that if he walked away in this moment and she wasn't there when he came back, he would never forgive himself.
"I promise." Brooke nodded towards the line, "Go sign books. I'll wait."
Lucas fought with the decision but ultimately he decided he had to go sign the books. That was what he was in Paris to do and so he had to do it. Brooke promised to wait and he trusted her. She hadn't broken a promise to him yet.
"Brooke Davis." The store owner sidled up alongside Brooke again and grinned, "I knew you were the girl from the book."
"You read it?" Brooke's mouth fell open, "You said you hadn't!"
"No, I said I heard it was a great book." She grinned devilishly, "Since you're sticking around to talk to him anyway, you mind helping me hand out samples?"
Brooke laughed and shrugged.
"I guess I can."
Two hours and 300 coffee samples later, Brooke fell into a chair at a tiny table overlooking the street outside the window. The last book was being signed and she knew that her time to talk to Lucas was looming. Suddenly she was realizing she had no idea what she was going to say.
If he asked about Tyler, would she tell him? Would she admit they lived in Paris or would she say she was visiting? Would she even tell him that Tyler was in town with her or would she lie and say Tyler was somewhere else? There were a lot of possibilities to go with and she still hadn't settled on one when Lucas slid into the chair across from her and set a cup in front of her.
"I thought this might be appropriate." He nudged the cup forward and she took it in her hands, the warmth of the cup oozing into her skin, "It's hot chocolate."
She smiled at him and took a sip, letting the warmth seep into her soul. Before she said a word she reached into her purse and pulled out the book she had bought only the day before, sliding it across the table towards Lucas.
"Will you sign mine?"
Lucas smiled at her and nodded, clicking the end of the pen he still held in his hand as he opened to the inside cover and began to write. It took him a few minutes then he closed the book and slid it back towards her, keeping his hand on top of it so she couldn't pick it up.
"Don't read it yet." He said simply, "First, just talk to me."
Brooke took a deep breath, holding her cup of hot chocolate up in front of her face so he could only see her eyes. She wasn't sure where to start. She had no idea what to say.
"I don't know what to say." She finally admitted, "I um, I liked the book. It was sweet, the way you wrote about us and I guess it was good for me to see the other side of things. See your point of view on the drugs. It helped me to understand a bit of what you were going through during our relationship."
"I hoped it would." Lucas reached out and lowered the cup so he could see her whole face, "I wrote that book specifically with the intent that wherever you were you would read it and maybe see my side enough to talk to me. I know I screwed up Brooke but…"
"Don't." Brooke stopped him before he could continue, "Don't apologize and don't make excuses okay? I didn't come here for that. I just wanted to see you. I wanted you to know that I read it and that I forgive you. For everything."
"I owe you so many apologies though Brooke. I really screwed this up. I took the love that you offered me and I discarded it like it meant nothing but it means everything. You and our son…"
"Stop." Brooke groaned, "Lucas, please stop. I told you, I forgive you okay? You don't owe me anything."
Lucas frowned, studying Brooke for a second and the pained expression on her face. It was one he had seen a million times before. She always got the same look when she didn't believe he was telling her the truth. She wanted him to believe that she believed him, but she didn't and he could see it written all over her face.
"Did you really read it?" Lucas asked, the pain now evident in his own eyes.
"Of course I read it." Brooke's eyebrows furrowed together as she stared at him incredulously, "If I told you I read it then I did. I've never lied to you."
"Then why are you still looking at me like that? Like nothing I'm telling you can possibly be the truth. If you read it you should know that I've changed."
Brooke took a deep breath and nodded slowly.
"The character in the book changed." She said as she stared at him, "But those are just words on a page Lucas. They're just like the words that come out of your mouth. They could easily just be lies."
It took all his restraint not to start screaming at her in that moment. If he had, it would have been the addict part of him screaming, not the version of himself he had become. The Lucas who had spent a year in rehab and another year just working his butt off to make himself the kind of person he hoped Brooke could love again, that Lucas realized she was still speaking through her own pain and he accepted the blame for that.
"Brooke, I know I hurt you." Lucas reached out and took her hands in his own, clutching them between his palms, "I'm so sorry for hurting you and for lying to you for three years. I'm not the same person now okay? I changed and I know you have no reason to believe that. You're right. The words written in my book could all be lies just like the lies I told you when we were together, but please give me a chance to prove they're not."
"I can't do that." Brooke pulled her hands out of his grasp and looked away from him, to the people outside who walked past with no recognition of the events taking place inside. She wanted to be one of those people.
"Why can't you do that?" Lucas groaned, slapping his hands to his forehead in frustration.
"Because I have more than just me to worry about here Lucas." Brooke replied, adding more attitude to the sentence then she had meant to, "Remember the little boy that you supposedly love so much that you wrote about in your book? The one you don't know? I have to worry about him, and his feelings, and they way he'll feel after getting to know you only to be disappointed over and over and over again."
"I won't disappoint him." Lucas said before he even thought about the depth of the pledge, "I won't disappoint you anymore. I've worked so hard and I've come so far. You're sitting right here in front of me. I can't let you slip away now. I promise Brooke, I won't disappoint you anymore."
"Are you sure about that?" Brooke raised an eyebrow at him, "You'll never promise to make it to one of his basketball games and then never show? You'll never tell me you'll be somewhere at a certain time and then show up late? You'll never forget a birthday, or a holiday, or an anniversary or any special occasion at all? Because maybe those all seem like little things but let me tell you, from experience, they add up. When every single time you tell me you'll be there and you don't show, or you show late, or you simply forget, those are disappointments. I dealt with it for three years and I won't subject my son to that."
"Give me a chance Brooke. I will prove to you that I can stop disappointing you. I can break the cycle."
Brooke found herself staring deep into Lucas's eyes, trying to read him. She wanted to see it there, a plainly written declaration that he was either lying or telling the truth, but she couldn't find it. She saw desperation, hope, and maybe a glimmer of love but nothing that said "I'm telling the truth."
"You can't believe my words." Lucas said simply before Brooke could say anything about giving him another chance, "You said it yourself. Whether written or spoken, they could all just be lies so you have to let me show you. Actions speak louder than words and I swear to you, I can prove that I deserve this chance."
Brooke contemplated him for a minute. She had never seen him this way before, not even in the year before he had started doing drugs. She wanted to believe him, but just like the story of the boy who cried wolf, she had been tricked so many times by him, she wasn't sure she wanted to even risk it this time.
"How long are you in Paris?" Brooke asked, not committing to anything but not refusing either.
"Just a few days." Lucas replied, unsure what the correct answer would be to that question.
"When does your book tour end?"
Brooke nodded, watching him, trying to find anything in the way he looked at her, in the way he talked or in the way he moved that would give her a real inclination towards whether she should trust him or not.
"Alright, here's my card." Brooke dug through her purse and found one of her business cards, sliding it across the table towards him, "Call me when your book tour is over and you have at least three months of spare time. If you can't find three months of spare time then don't call me. It will take at least that long for you to even attempt to prove to me that you're trustworthy."
"Wait." Lucas frowned, "Why can't I start now? I'm here for three more days and only one of them do I have any obligations. Why do I have to wait until I have three months of spare time?"
"Because, like I said, it's going to take at least that long for me to even begin to trust you again and there is no way in hell I'm making this easy on you. You want to fix this, you'll do it on my terms. Take it or leave it."
Lucas debated. With a best seller, he was probably looking at it being awhile before he had three solid months of time off. There were always book signings, book tours, press and of course, the next book. His deal was for three books, not one so he had two more to write.
"It's just bad timing Brooke." Lucas sighed, "I have so much going on with the book and press for the book and I have to write two more books… I just don't know when I'm going to have three months free."
Brooke smiled as she nodded. He watched her take a deep breath and then begin to gather her things.
"Wait, where are you going?" Lucas stood up before she could, hoping that he could find some way to make her stay, "I'll do it. I'll make it happen. Please don't go."
"Parenting lesson one." Brooke stood toe to toe with Lucas, the closest she had been to him in years, "Your child ALWAYS comes first no matter what obligations you may have."
Brooke caught him off guard as she reached over and retracted her business card from his hand.
"Consider my offer officially revoked. Good luck with the book. It was really good."
She started to walk away leaving Lucas speechless for a moment as he fell into his chair completely dejected. He had her in front of him and once again she was slipping away. He had no more knowledge of his son then he'd had when he showed up and Brooke still wanted nothing to do with him. He'd failed. He had written the book to find her and when he found her he lost her all over again. A single tear fell down his cheek and he frowned as he wiped it away. He couldn't let her go like that.
Brooke stopped just short of the bookstore door and turned back to look at Lucas as he stood by the table they had just been sitting at together.
"I have the rest of my life free starting right now. Is that long enough?"
She watched him pull out his cell phone and hold it up as if he were about to dial. He began to walk towards her but she found she couldn't make herself walk away.
"It only takes one call to my agent to get this book tour canceled. One call to my publisher to let them know that I'm going to have to quit which means I will also have to pay back the advance they gave me for the next two books but seeing that this book is a best seller, I have the money for that now." Lucas stood directly in front of Brooke staring her straight in the eye, "Two phone calls and then the rest of my life is yours. I will never be late again. I will never have an obligation to get in my way. I will never forget another important date ever, if you will please just… don't walk out on me again. I need you."
Brooke stared into his eyes for what seemed to be the millionth time that night. This time she could see he was telling the truth. This wasn't a bluff.
"Where are you staying while you're in town?" She asked.
"The Pulitzer Paris hotel, room 15."
"Be ready for dinner at 8. I'll pick you up."
"Okay." Lucas began to dial a number on his phone but Brooke grabbed it before he could press send, "What are you doing?"
"Don't cancel your life Lucas." She said simply, clearing out the number he had just started to dial, and handing him back his phone, "It's the thought that counts."
Before he could say another word she left the bookstore and walked briskly down the block, turning at the corner to make sure he hadn't followed her. When she saw he hadn't followed, she continued to walk and finally let out a breath she had been holding since she started to walk away.
Her brain was having a hard time wrapping itself around the concept that she was letting Lucas Scott back into her life but she was, and there was no turning back now.