Author's Note: Alright! Here we go! This is the sequel to The New Girl. If you haven't read The New Girl, you're not going to understand what's going on in this story, so go read it! :) I love reviews so please review! Thanks! Enjoy!
It's Been Five Years
I always liked fast cars. I had been driving the same Aston Martin Vanquish for five years, despite having plenty of money to have bought a new one by now. So it came as a surprise to me, when I found myself preparing to move a long distance for the third time in my life, that I didn't choose to drive my Aston Martin.
The condo was sold. The boxes were packed and loaded into the moving truck. I handed the keys to the Aston Martin to my loyal assistant and patted her on her shoulder.
"You're fired." I told her simply, "Enjoy the car."
I slipped into my brand new Lexus LS hybrid and sighed, looking into the rearview mirror at the building which held the condo where so much of the last five years had gone wrong. My marriage, my career, my child… everything died in that house. I couldn't live there anymore. I had to erase it from my memory.
As I hit the open road I was relieved to look behind me and for the first time in years feel like the demons of my past couldn't catch up to me. I had been trying to run away from them in my fast car for a long time and yet here I was, in my hybrid car, going the speed limit, and it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
Of course, I wasn't going to be able to erase all the memories at once. The events that had shaped my current life began to come back to me in a rush…
I heard my name being called from somewhere near my front door and I recognized the voice, a smile immediately spreading across my face as I stood and raced from my bedroom to the entryway.
"Nathan!" I jumped onto my best friend, wrapping my arms around his neck and my legs around his waist, placing my lips firmly on top of his for a passionate kiss, "I missed you."
"I missed you too beautiful." Nathan smiled at me but the smile didn't spread to his eyes as he held me in his embrace.
"What's wrong?" I asked him, slipping down from around him and standing instead in front of him.
"Um… maybe we should sit down?" Nathan motioned to the living room and I frowned but followed him, sitting down on the couch cross-legged facing him.
"Nate, what's going on? You show up out of the blue to my condo in New York City and not that I'm complaining but you don't seem very happy to be here."
"I have to tell you something." Nathan took a deep breath as he wrung his hands together like he always did when he was nervous, "And you're not going to be happy with me."
"Ok, well, tell me. We're best friends. Better than best friends. We can get through this." I was sure it would all be ok, despite how nervous he seemed in this moment.
"You remember that I told you Haley came to see me at Duke the weekend before we were officially going to file the divorce a few months ago? When we were filling out the paperwork and getting everything ready?"
I nodded, too afraid to speak now that I knew this whole thing had something to do with Haley.
"So um, we sort of… we had sex that weekend and it was completely a mistake ok?" He was staring at me and I know the surprised expression on my face must be scaring him, "We both admitted it was a mistake. It was a last ditch effort to make sure we were doing the right thing and the divorce was final like a week later so it didn't even matter at all."
"But it does matter because you're here and you're scared to tell me something and I don't think that was the something you were scared to tell me…" I took a deep breath and I could see in his eyes the fear was still looming, "So what is it?"
"She's pregnant." A single tear fell down Nathan's cheek but a thousand of them seemed to burst from my eyes in the same instant.
"I…" I couldn't form words through my tears even though I wasn't even sure why I was crying. Was I crying for my best friend who was now having a baby with his ex wife? Was I crying for myself because I felt like I was going to lose the deeper connection I had with my best friend, my sort of boyfriend?
"Savannah…" Nathan pulled me into his arms and held me as we both cried, "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."
I sighed as the drive continued, pulling out of the city and finally onto the stretch of highway where trees and grass grew around me instead of landscaping. My memories progressed from the last and I let myself fall back into my thoughts as I drove.
"So does Nathan know you're here?" Lucas asked as he and I relaxed in the last of the North Carolina sun before fall would be setting in.
We sipped glasses of iced tea, mine spiked with a bit of vodka, and relaxed in the back yard of the house Lucas had lived in since he had started college the year before. Technically it was Bryan's house, but whenever I visited, I made sure it was when Bryan was out of town, so it had become more like Lucas's house with every visit.
"I don't think so." I sighed and squinted into the sun as I looked over at Lucas, "I didn't tell him I was coming here to see you. Did you tell him?"
"No." Lucas sighed back at me, "Are you two even on speaking terms anymore?"
"We speak, it's just hard." I admitted for the first time months, "We were more than just friends… I thought that after their divorce we'd actually make it official you know? Like 'Hi, this is my boyfriend Nathan. Nathan meet…" whoever the hell I felt like introducing him to. And instead it's, 'Hi, this is my best friend Nathan. We used to sleep together until he knocked up his ex-wife and now we can barely talk without arguing about the status of our quasi-relationship."
Lucas frowned at me but nodded.
"I'm sorry." He said simply, "Sorry you have to deal with that."
"It's not your fault Luke. Everyone warned us when we started sleeping together that it wasn't going to work without us labeling it and look! Everyone was right."
"But you're not bitter at all right?" Lucas laughed.
"Nope. Not bitter at all." I lied and sipped my drink, "Let's quit talking about me. How are you and Brooke doing? I called her because I was gonna go see her in California instead of coming to see you but she didn't call me back."
"Gee thanks." Lucas rolled his eyes, "She's good. She's getting Clothes Over Bros off the ground officially. She was probably just busy and that's why she didn't call you. She would love to see you, I'm sure."
"I'm sure she'd love to see you more." I eyed him, "When was the last time you went to see her or she came here?"
"It's been a few months. Six months and 14 days to be exact." Lucas sighed again, "I miss her."
"Well let's go see her then. All we're doing is hanging out in the back yard. Let's go to Los Angeles. We can see Brooke. I can finally attend this meeting with some fashion designer my agent wants me to meet. We'll have fun, what do you say?"
"I'll do it on one condition." Lucas replied and I frowned.
"I have to bargain with you to go see your girlfriend?"
"No, truth is I'll go even if you say no to this condition but please do this for me first?"
I crinkled my nose in protest but shrugged and agreed.
"Talk to Bryan. He's here, in town anyway. He knew you were coming and he knew you wouldn't come if you knew he wasn't out of town so he went to stay at a hotel but I think you need to talk to him. He might be good for you right now."
"Like a rebound? Like, bring my ex-boyfriend into my life so he can cover the pain of losing my best friend to his pregnant ex-wife?" I laughed loudly, "Maybe you should go to California and I'll just transfer this vacation to Tree Hill to see my brother, sister-in-law and niece."
"No! Savannah!" Lucas frowned, "You always rotate us right? You have any vacation time you have a rotation that you follow to make sure you keep in touch with all of us, just like we promised to do a year and a half ago at the fire pit in Haley's back yard. This is my week with you so don't chicken out. Talk to Bryan and then we can go see Brooke. Deal?"
I didn't want to agree. I wanted to tell Lucas to go to hell. The last thing I needed in my life was Bryan drama, but Lucas looked like he wanted me to do this so badly that I couldn't say no. It was a chronic condition. Saying no to boys with blue eyes was just something I couldn't do.
I stopped at a gas station to relieve my bladder and pick up a few snacks for the road. I stood in line waiting to buy my potato chips, beef jerky and Coca-Cola. In front of me was a woman about my age holding the hand of a little boy who kept turning around to smile at me. His smile lit up his face and I couldn't resist smiling back and waving. He reminded me of someone else.
"Sometimes, when you smile, you still look like the five-year-old version of you who used to pull my hair and call me stupid."
Bryan laughed as we lounged on my balcony overlooking Manhattan. He tightened his arms around me and kissed my cheek.
"When you remember things like that you remind me of how stupid you were at that age."
"Hey!" I smacked his chest and he continued to laugh, "That's not nice."
"I'm sorry." Bryan grinned, "You're right that wasn't nice. How can I make it up to you?"
I considered it for a second and then placed my hands against his chest, digging my nails into him lightly. Just hard enough for him to groan and close his eyes.
"Make love to me." I whispered into his ear, nibbling on his ear lobe.
"Right here?" He raised an eyebrow at me as he eyed our surroundings.
"No." I didn't want to be the crazy neighbor who had sex on her balcony, "Take me inside."
Bryan stood and in one swift motion picked me up into his arms and carried me inside, letting me fall gently onto the bed as he climbed over me and dipped his lips to connect with mine. Things were just beginning to get heated when my phone rang in my pocket and I groaned, pulling it out and seeing Nathan's name scrawled across the screen.
"I have to get this." I kissed Bryan quickly and straightened my shirt as I stood and headed back out to the balcony, "Hello?"
"Hey you." Nathan's voice still brought a smile to my face even though I hadn't seen him in over a year and our friendship had become extremely strained, "How are you?"
"I'm good." I wasn't sure if I should elaborate on that, "Um, how are you?"
"I'm good." Nathan said, "I was wondering if you had gotten the invitation I sent you."
"The invitation?" I pretended to have no idea what he was talking about so it didn't look like I had been avoiding the RSVP.
"Yeah, to Jamie's birthday party? It's only his first birthday so it's probably not a big deal if we do something big but I just wanted everyone who is important to me there for him on his birthday, so he knows how many people love him." Nathan was incredibly upbeat and I wondered if he was just pretending to be that upbeat so I didn't think he was just inviting me out of obligation as my "best friend."
"Nate… I may have misplaced it. I check the mail sometimes and just toss it on the counter so I probably didn't even realize it came. Um… when is it?"
"Two weeks." Nathan sighed and I realized he had just lost all traces of upbeat, "It's fine if you don't want to come. I understand it's just… I was hoping we could try to fix this between us. Fix whatever void has grown between us and go back to being best friends. I miss you."
"I miss you too." I replied honestly, my heart breaking for the loss of our friendship, "I will try to make it to Jamie's party ok? I don't know what my schedule looks like right now but I will definitely try."
"Thank you." He said it so quietly I almost didn't hear it, "I'll hopefully see you in two weeks."
I hung up the phone and headed back into my bedroom only to find the lights had been dimmed, the blankets drawn, and candles had been lit around the entire room. Bryan was sitting on the bed smiling up at me when I entered.
"Nathan?" He asked.
I nodded and he just looked away, took a deep breath, and then looked back.
"He is your best friend so I can't really be upset that you're interrupting sex with me for a phone call from your ex-boyfriend."
"He was never my boyfriend." I clarified, more for my sake then for Bryan's. I had to keep telling myself that what I had with Nathan was never official to try to make it less real, "He was calling to invite me to his son's birthday party."
"I thought you got the invite in the mail already." Bryan frowned.
"I did and I purposely ignored it." I sat down on the bed next to Bryan, "Let's not talk about this okay? Let's go back to the sex."
He smiled and pulled me into his arms, back onto the bed where we resumed foreplay in the candlelight.
"Marry me." Bryan said out of nowhere when we laid sated on the bed thirty minutes later.
"What?" I turned to frown at him.
"Marry me." Bryan repeated, looking into my eyes, "I know that in the past we've had our issues because I couldn't commit to you but that's behind us now. I left law school in North Carolina so I could move to New York City and be with you. We live here together and I've never been more sure in my entire life that I love you Savannah Carter. Please, be my wife?"
He was actually serious. Staring into his crystal eyes I sighed. If I said no, he'd be upset and we'd probably break up, which I didn't want. If I said yes, I would need a long engagement. I was definitely not ready to marry Bryan… or was I?
What was stopping me? I'd loved him my whole life. My modeling career was coming along nicely. We were already living together. He had committed to me by moving here and his career was still on track. NYU law school had accepted him so he'd still be becoming a lawyer. We were good together. There was no reason for us not to marry.
"Yes." I said quietly and his eyes widened as if he'd expected me to say no.
"Really?" A grin started to spread across his features, "You'll marry me?"
"Yes." I nodded and he pulled me into a heated embrace.
"I love you so much." He whispered against my lips, "I'm so happy you said yes. I really didn't think you would."
I smiled at him and sighed.
"Sometimes people surprise you."
The signs said 360 miles to Tree Hill. I was almost halfway home. It had been a long time since I'd been there. My house was probably dusty and gross by now, unless Xander and Peyton had been taking care of it. I hadn't asked them to or expected it of them, but they might have anyway. It sounded like something they would do, if for no other reason then to let Sienna play dress up in my closet. I missed my niece so much.
"Sienna bean! Where are you?" I walked slowly through Peyton and Xander's house playing hide and seek with my three year old niece, "Come out, come out. I'm gonna find you!"
"Base!" Sienna yelled and I groaned, turning around to see her standing next to the fireplace we had designated our base.
"No fair! I've been it three times in a row!" I pretended to pout as I fell down on the couch, "I don't wanna play anymore."
"No!" Sienna jumped up on the couch, her blonde ringlets bouncing around her face, "Don't quit Aunt Savannah!"
"But you always win!" I tried really hard not to laugh when her face fall.
"I'll be it. You hide."
I grinned at her persistence and shook my head.
"No, it's ok. I'll be it one more time."
She grinned widely and took off before I could even start counting.
"One… two… three…"
My cell phone ringing interrupted the counting but I figured Sienna wouldn't mind if she had a little extra time hiding so I answered it.
"Hey beautiful. What are you doing?"
"Playing hide and seek with Sienna." I smiled at the sound of my husband's voice, "What are you doing?"
"Thinking about you. You've been gone like three days and I miss you like crazy. When are you coming home to me?"
"Bryan…" I giggled, "Four more days baby. I wish you were here."
"Me too. Already school is kicking my ass and I'm only two weeks in. Thank god this is my last year of law school."
"And then you're a full fledged lawyer." I grinned.
"Aunt Savannah! Where are you?" Sienna called from somewhere in the house and I laughed.
"I gotta go baby. Sienna's waiting for me to come find her. I'll call you later okay?"
"Ok, really quick, when is Nathan's kid's birthday party?"
"Jamie's party is tomorrow." I responded, wondering why Bryan would care.
"Alright, call me later. I love you."
"I love you too." I hung up the phone frowning but shrugged it off as I went in search of Sienna, "Oh Sienna… I'm gonna get you."
"Hello!" I heard Peyton come home and immediately a blonde munchkin came running down the stairs.
"Mommy!" Sienna jumped at Peyton who laughed but swung her around happily as she set her groceries down on the counter.
"Hey baby girl. You having fun with Aunt Savannah?"
"Yep. We played hide and seek and I won, three times."
"Got you. You're it." I tagged her and she scoffed at me.
"That's not fair! Mommy's here."
"Mommy's not base." I stuck my tongue out and her and she stuck hers out back.
"Stop it!" Peyton frowned at me, "You're teaching her bad habits."
"She's three. She'll grow out of them."
"You didn't." Xander entered the kitchen then too and Sienna quickly wiggled out of her mommy's hands to run to her daddy and try to jump into his arms, "Hold on kiddo. I gotta set Eli down first."
Peyton happily took her newborn son from Xander's hands so that he could pick up Sienna. I watched the four of them so content and wondered if this is what it would be like in a few years for me and Bryan. We had only been married a month and already I was expecting our first child, although no one else knew that little secret.
"Nathan called. He said that the birthday party is going to be moved to tonight because Haley has to leave first thing in the morning for tour rehearsals so if you haven't bought Jamie's present yet, I suggest going shopping now." Peyton smiled at me and I groaned.
"I bought his present already but I really don't know if I'm up to this Peyton. Nathan and I… we just aren't the same as we used to be."
"Savannah, he invited you last year and you flaked. You didn't tell him you were engaged. You haven't told him you got married. For being best friends, you two are really good at avoiding each other and keeping secrets." Peyton raised her eyebrow at me as an almost challenge to back out of this birthday party.
She was right of course. I wanted nothing more than to go back to the way things used to be with Nathan and I, but the fact was, we could probably never get back to that place. Ever since I found out Haley was pregnant, we had drifted farther and farther apart. His son was turning two in one day and I had yet to meet him. Some best friend I was.
"I don't want to keep secrets from him." I insisted, "It's just kind of the way things have worked out. Besides, you didn't know I was married until afterwards either and you're family."
Bryan and I had chosen a very elegant, private ceremony in Las Vegas with exactly two people in attendance. Camille and Tim.
"I'm still holding that against you by the way." Xander said.
I rolled my eyes and turned to head out of the kitchen.
"I have to go shopping! One present isn't going to be enough."
"I wanna go!" Sienna ran after me, slipping her hand into mine and looking up at me with her jade green eyes, "Please?"
"Can Sienna go with me?" I called out to my brother and sister-in-law.
There was a moment's hesitation and then they both yelled out "ok."
"Alright kiddo. Let's go shopping."
At the mall, Sienna and I went looking for everything we thought Jamie might like. Unfortunately for me, I didn't know the kid so I had no idea what he liked and Sienna was a three year old girl. She only knew what she liked.
"He probably likes basketball right?" I asked her as we entered the toy store.
"He loves basketball." She replied, finally certain of one thing Jamie liked, "He always tries to play but he's not very good."
"He will be." I knew he would because I knew his dad and his uncle and unfortunately his grandfather and they were all amazing basketball players, "So let's get him basketball stuff."
We bought him a junior size basketball and hoop from the toy store. We bought him toddler sized basketball jerseys from the sports store. I even bought him what I assumed were toddler sized basketball shoes. Four presents I figured would be enough for this year and the last year, which I had missed.
When I arrived at the party a few hours later with five presents, I realized I may have overdone it a bit.
"Oh my Goodness! You have officially just become his favorite aunt." Haley took the presents from me and set them on a table nearby, "It's so good to see you."
"You too." I lied because I didn't want to hurt her feelings and tell her I harbored resentment towards her for getting pregnant, "How are you?"
"I'm good. Great actually." Haley patted her baby bump, "Baby number two on the way."
"Congratulations Haley. That's great. You and Nathan must be really happy."
"Oh God Savannah, no. Nathan and I aren't together." Haley laughed as if that was the craziest thing for me to think even though no one had bothered to mention otherwise, "I married Jake like a year ago. You didn't know that?"
I hated to admit that anytime entertainment news mentioned Haley James I changed the channel. Anytime sports news mentioned Nathan Scott I tuned it out. I also didn't have the greatest relationships with any of my friends anymore. That was part of the reason there were only two people at my wedding. I doubted they would have even showed up if they weren't related to the groom.
"I didn't know." I admitted to Haley with a guilty smile, "But congratulations anyway. I'm really happy for you."
"Thanks, you too. I heard you got married recently too."
"Yeah…" I nodded slowly, "Bryan and I got married last month."
"Well where is he? He didn't come with you?"
"No, he's still in law school and school just started a couple weeks ago so he had to stay home. He wanted to be here though."
These days lies seemed to flow from my mouth more than truth. I lied to cover my feelings, my discomfort, my moods, my shortcomings. I lied for my husband and for myself and… just about everything really.
"Well, Nathan is going to be so happy to see you. Come on!" Haley grabbed my hand and drug me towards the backyard where I could spot the body of Nathan Scott before we had even walked out the back door, "Nathan! Look who showed!"
Nathan turned towards me and his eyes lit up almost immediately. I recognized the look. It was one I had seen a million times. One that I cherished and craved at the same time. One that I hadn't seen in a very long time.
Before I knew what was happening I was in his arms, being held onto as if Nathan thought I wasn't real.
"Nathan… I can't breathe." I joked with him and he jumped back a bit.
He looked me over and smiled.
"I missed you." He said simply.
And just like that, I was under Nathan Scott's spell all over again.
Jamie was the second cutest kid I had met in my life, right below Sienna and if I was honest, he only came in second because I had known Sienna longer. He was charming despite talking in only jumbled half sentences. He had his daddy's eyes, which immediately meant I would never be able to tell him no. He also had his daddy's smile and he smiled a lot.
"Come on!" Jamie held my hand and pulled me towards the swing set that was set up on one side of the backyard, "Up!"
I figured he wanted to swing so I picked him up and sat him in the swing, pulling him back and then pushing him gently while he giggled. I watched the party go on in the rest of the yard and was so entranced by the little boy's giggles and the life that continued on around me, I didn't notice when Nathan moved to stand beside me.
"You are going to be a great mom someday." Nathan said and I jumped, turning to look at him standing next to me.
"You think so?" I asked.
"I know so." He smiled and motioned to Jamie, "He loves you already and he's only known you a few hours."
"Well, if you must know, I'm pregnant." I told him, effectively making him the first person other than me to know.
"You are?" Nathan's eyes went wide in surprise, "Oh."
"I'm married too." I showed Nathan my wedding ring which sat like a rock on my finger, but immediately I felt guilty for not sharing the news with him sooner, "Nathan, I'm so sorry. I should have told you when it was happening. I mean… when he proposed and when we planned the wedding… I should have shared that with you. And I didn't so… I'm sorry."
"It's ok." Nathan looked a little hurt but he was nodding as he looked away, "So um, who's the guy? Anyone I know?"
"Bryan." I said simply and waited for a reaction.
Nathan's head snapped to look at me and his mouth fell open.
"Bryan Stevens? The same Bryan who…"
"Yes." I didn't want Nathan to expand his question, "That's the one. We're married."
He looked like he wanted to say more. His mouth opened and closed like words should be coming out but no sound came forth. Finally he said one word.
"Thanks." I sighed and the silence widened, "Um, wanna hear something funny?"
Nathan turned to me, smiled and nodded.
"So when Haley told me she was expecting baby number two I uh, congratulated her… and you."
Immediately Nathan began to laugh.
"Seriously? You didn't know we weren't together?"
"No." I shrugged, "We haven't exactly been telling each other everything, you and me, so I guess I just assumed that you guys had Jamie together so you got back together."
"Savannah…" Nathan groaned. He stopped Jamie's swing, pulled him out of it and told him to go find Haley.
I assumed he wanted Jamie away from us so he could talk to me alone.
"Is that why you don't come around? Why you don't call? Why you don't tell me anything anymore?" Nathan forced me to look directly in his eyes and I knew I couldn't lie to him this time.
"Yeah." I admitted, "I was really upset when you told me Haley was pregnant. I just assumed that you guys were gonna be together. I mean, you would never be like Dan so I figured you'd want to be there…"
"I've been there. Every step of the way. She moved into the condo with me at Duke so I could go to school and take care of her during her pregnancy. When Jamie was born, my life revolved around him and eventually Haley had to get back to her career so mostly, I've had Jamie to myself. I've hired a really great nanny to be around when Haley and I can't but essentially Savannah, I'm a single dad. Haley tries but it's hard to be a mom when she's globetrotting around the world."
I was surprised to say the least. Never in a million years would I have thought Haley would put her career over her child. And Nathan as a single dad… I knew he would be an amazing father but I always suspected it would be with the support of the child's mother there too.
"What about basketball?" I asked him, wondering where his dreams fell into all of this, "Did you… Duke? What happened to all of that?"
"I played for Duke for three seasons. I made myself eligible for the draft and I just got drafted to Atlanta so we'll be moving there in a few weeks." Nathan sighed, "I can't believe after we went through so much together that you and I have grown so far apart."
"I'm sorry Nathan." I took full responsibility for the giant chasm which had come between us, "I was selfish and I just pulled away from you to protect myself… I'm sorry."
Nathan sighed and pulled me into his arms, hugging me tight.
"Well, I can't let you take full responsibility for the way things are. After all, phones go both ways and so do planes, trains, and cars right? I could have come see you. I didn't have to wait for you to come see me."
I shook my head and ran my fingers through my hair.
"Let me take full responsibility. You have enough to be responsible for." I motioned to Jamie, Sienna, Jenny and even Karen and Larry's daughter Lily running around the yard, "He's a great kid. You're doing an amazing job."
"Thanks." Nathan smiled at me, "Seriously, congratulations on your marriage and the baby… you deserve happiness."
"Thank you." I smiled back at him and let my head fall to his shoulder, "Congratulations on the NBA."
Turner's Crossroads, VA… not even a real town but the point which marked I was officially heading into North Carolina on I-95. Three hours until I would be home. Three short hours left of this ten hour journey down memory lane. How could life have become so complicated in five short years? I was only 23 years old. Life should still be fun, carefree, happy… and instead I felt like it was over.
"If you had told me you were coming out here I would have come with you." Bryan approached me where I stood in the graveyard, startling me more than I would have liked him to know, "Sorry if I scared you."
"Well, it's midnight in a graveyard and I thought I was alone. Nope. No reason I should have been scared."
"Savannah…" Bryan placed his hand on my shoulder and though I knew he couldn't see it, my body stiffened at his touch and my eyes narrowed.
"You shouldn't be here Bryan."
"Why not? Savannah, you have to talk to me okay? She was my daughter too!"
I could feel the tears start to fall as I stared at the grave in the dark. A tiny angel atop a tiny tombstone for my tiny angel buried below.
"Alexandra Claire Stevens. Gone too soon." I read the gravestone aloud and turned to look at Bryan, "Screw you. Maybe if you had actually been there, I'd feel like she was your daughter too but since you weren't… you can stay the hell away from both of us."
"Savannah, how was I supposed to know when I left for that conference that you were going to go into labor? You were only six months pregnant! I thought I had three months to go!"
"So it's my fault?" I reached up and slapped him without thinking and then gasped when I realized what I had done.
Bryan clutched his cheek and stared at me.
"It's not anyone's fault Savannah. She was too early and it's okay to be upset and if you want to blame me, that's okay too but I need you to talk to me okay? I need you to let me help you heal because I know this is hard on you but…"
"I want a divorce." I stated simply.
"You…" Bryan was rendered almost speechless, "You're serious."
"Completely serious. I'm done. This was the last straw."
"We haven't even been married for a year Savannah and… in New York, we would have to be separated for a year before they'll grant a divorce."
"Unless I can prove you cheated on me." Unlike North Carolina, there were ways around the stupid one year separation, "And I have proof."
"Bullshit! I did not…"
"Try me and see if I'm bluffing." I turned to walk past him and back to my car parked a few feet away, "I expect your shit to be out of my house by the weekend!"
My birthday came and went without a party that year. Friends and family tried to call but I didn't answer. Camille even tried to come over, but I didn't let her in. It was easier if my misery only consumed me. It was no use spreading it to everyone around me.
I spent two full months sitting in the nursery, holding what would have been my daughter's first teddy bear, and I cried. I cried until there were no more tears and when I finally did bring myself to leave, it was only to be granted a divorce.
"This is wrong." Bryan reached out to grab my hand as I turned to leave the courthouse after the judgment was made to grant the divorce, "Talk to me."
He looked like he had been crying too but his pain meant nothing to me. According to a New York City judge, I officially had nothing more I needed to say to him. Without a word I pulled my hand from his grasp and walked away.
My phone rang pulling me out of my reverie as I drove down the interstate. I focused on the road as I dug through my purse to locate it then answered without checking the caller ID.
"So, how far are you?"
"Hi Peyton." I smiled at the sound of my sister-in-law's voice, "I am three hours away."
"We are so excited that you're coming home. Sienna is bouncing off the walls, literally. We have Lily for the night too so they are both just going crazy."
"Where's my brother and nephew?"
"Spain. They'll be back tomorrow but it was a quick trip so he took Eli with him." Peyton sighed, "I um… I was debating how to tell you cause I know you've been going through a lot lately but… I'm pregnant again."
My heart ached with pain and happiness at the same time. Xander and Peyton were the greatest parents and they deserved to have a big family if that was what they wanted, but I couldn't help to feel the loss of my own family at the same time.
"Sorry, um… congratulations." I wiped at my face but no tears had fallen. I hadn't cried in over a year. The term 'all cried out' was 100% accurate in my case.
"I can't even imagine what the past year has been like for you Savannah but I didn't want to not tell you and then you find out from someone else…"
"No, Peyt, thank you for telling me. I'm happy for you. You guys deserve to have this family." I sighed, "I just wish I had mine you know?"
"You're part of our family…" Peyton sounded like she was crying and I found myself even envying her tears.
"Hey, I gotta go but I'll see you in three hours okay?"
"Okay." Peyton sniffled apparently wiping her tears.
"Love you Aunt Savannah!" I heard from two little girls in the background and I smiled.
"Tell them I love them too." I told Peyton who relayed the message and then we hung up.
Setting my cell phone back inside my purse I groaned and slammed my hand against my steering wheel in frustration. If I couldn't cry, I needed to express my emotions somehow.
"You're firing me?" I yelled at my agent in his New York office.
"No, Savannah, I am not firing you. No one is firing you we're just asking that you take a year or two off okay? You've been through a lot this year and with the way that the Victoria's Secret fashion show went in November… steadily, people are less inclined to work with you."
"I screwed up at that fashion show okay? I know I did and I'm really, really sorry but if I don't have modeling I have nothing Matt! You can't do this to me!" I was literally begging him. I was desperate.
"I'm sorry Savannah." Matthew came around the desk and kneeled down in front of the chair I was sitting in, "You know that I don't want to do this. You're the best model I have or… you used to be."
"I still am!" I insisted, "I can be again! I will work my ass off it's just been hard lately and… that fashion show was five months ago. I've been fine since then. I'm sober. No alcohol."
"No alcohol?" Matthew raised an eyebrow at me and I groaned.
"One or two drinks but not like I was. I wouldn't lie to you!"
"You just did!" Matthew yelled in frustration, standing and pacing around his office, "Savannah, I love you okay? I don't want to do anything to hurt you, but you have to take time off. Heal yourself. Go home to Tree Hill. Surround yourself with your friends and your family. The girl who signed with me five and a half years ago would be able to accept this and come back stronger."
"I'm not the same girl I was five years ago." I said simply.
"No you're not." Matthew sighed, "If you don't agree to take time off I will fire you. It's your choice. Victoria's Secret agreed not to press charges when you stripped naked on live TV as long as you got help. They even agreed to keep your contract in tact as long as you take time to heal and get some semblance of normality back okay? So either agree to the time off or be fired and possibly face huge fines and jail time. Your choice."
Faced with that choice, it wasn't much of a choice at all. I found myself signing the agreed upon leave of absence contract and storming from the office in a rage. The amount of alcohol I drank that night could have filled an Olympic sized swimming pool. 72 hours later I woke up in the hospital.
Two months later, here I was driving to Tree Hill. New York City and the life I had lived there were behind me. I could move forward. I could move on. I could find me again. Find a part of life which I could enjoy again.
"Welcome to Tree Hill, North Carolina. Home of the Ravens."
I smiled as I read the sign on the side of the road and looked down at my recently resurrected basketball jersey sitting on the passenger seat. I had set it there as a memento of what I hoped to gain by moving back to Tree Hill. A reminder of the girl I used to be.
I was a Raven and Tree Hill was my home. I just needed to remember that.