'Why?' She waved the letter at Peyton. 'Why is he doing this? What did you say to him?'
Peyton said nothing.
Deb looked like she was going to say something but, when Brooke turned on her, she shook her head. The, 'He was going to marry you to keep Grace? Why would he do that?'
'Because she is his daughter, Deb. Our daughter. My egg, his sperm….'
'Oh.' Then, 'But….' She shook her head. 'I don't understand any of it.'
'I think I do,' Peyton said. 'It's a sacrifice move.'
'He's giving her up, surrendering her to you.'
'We talked about it. About love. The choices you make. Holding on. Letting go. Wheather you loved enough to let go even when it feels like tearing your heart out of your body.' Then, 'I think he just did that, Brooke. Tore out his heart and gave it to you.'
Brooke said something completely out of character. 'He's giving up his daughter just because he had to fly off to Beijing for some sort of stupid book meeting. What kind of idiot is he?'
'I'm sorry. It never occurred to me…. I thought…'
She shook her head. 'No, Peyt, this isn't your fault. It's mine. I keep telling him he wasn't committed, that he'd never be here for Grace, when I should have been telling him that I love him.' She got up, walked to the phone. Picked it up. 'Clinging to my safe little nest instead of telling him that wherever he was I wanted to be, too.'
'Who are you calling?' Rachael asked.
She stared at the phone. 'Good point. Who do you call to book an airline ticket?'
'Where are you going?' Deb asked.
'Where do you think? Bei-flipping-jing.'
'Why don't you let me do that?' Peyton said, taking the phone from her and replacing it. 'While you go pack.'
'Two seats,' she said, backing out of the room. 'Or whatever they have for babies. On the first available flight.'
Peyton flipped through the phone book, stopped. 'You can't take Grace.'
'I have to. I'm breast feeding….'
'But you don't have a passport for her.'
'For a moment the world seemed to stand still. Then she said, 'Haley had. They were going to France this summer…'
Lucas swiped the key to his suite and walked in, desperate for a shower, a drink, sleep.
It was finally sorted. Something that would have been fixed in ten minutes if he had been paying attention his work had required delicate diplomacy, tact, face-saving maneuvers, when on phrase in his book had been incorrectly translated.
He opened the mini-bar, took out a Scotch, put it back and took out a bottle of water instead.
His body was in enough trouble without adding alcohol to the mix.
He tossed his jacket on the sofa, lessened his tie, opened the bedroom door and stopped. When he'd left it, this room had contained nothing except the carry-on he used when travelling.
Now there was a bright pink suitcase, a box of disposable dippers, a very familiar stroller and a crib had been set up at the foot of the bed. The crib contained a sleeping Gracie and in the bed Brooke lay, fully dressed, flat on her back with her arms thrown out.
It couldn't be. The longing, the need, the unbelievable loneliness were inducing hallucinations.
He closed his eyes. Opened them again. She was still there but, needing to convince himself that she was real, he put out a hand and very gently, so as not to wake her, touched her cheek. Then kissed her just as gently.
No illusion, but warm, real flesh.
Brooke had flown half-way around the world to…. What? He'd given her everything she wanted.
He turned to Gracie. She was lying exactly like her mother. Flat on her back, arms flung wide.
He didn't think he could bear it.
He wanted to hold them both, tell them how much he'd missed them, how much he loved them. But he'd made his decision and, leaving them to sleep, he shut himself in the bathroom, showered as quietly as possible, half expecting that he would open the door to find them disappeared.
He was half right. Gracie was still asleep, but the bed was empty and he walked through to the living room where Brooke was signing the bill for room service.
'I tried not to wake you,' he said.
'Kissing a girl when you've got a beard is not something you can do without repercussions, Lucas,' she said, as she poured to cups of tea. Helped herself to a sandwich.
'You're not giving me much incentive to shave it off, Brooke. I thought you'd be asleep for hours. Why are you here?'
'You have to ask? You bailed out on our talk, Lucas. The one we were going to have about the future, about us. And you bailed on our wedding, too. Okay. It happens. You walked out on me years ago and I should have been ready for you to cut and run again.'
'If it had just been me,' Brooke went on, 'I could have lived with it. I've lived without the man I love for ten years so the rest of my life would be a breeze. But I'm here to tell you that I don't believe you'd run out on your daughter, Lucas Scott.'
'Ten years?' That didn't make sense. The fact that she was here didn't make sense. 'I did what I thought was best, Brooke,' he said.
'I'm here to tell you you're wrong. And that I'm really tired of you leaving before the credits roll. Before I can tell you I love you. That I've always loved you.'
There. She'd said it. It was over. And, right on cue, Gracie woke up and began to chatter to herself.
'Your daughter is awake, Lucas,' she said, getting up and walking back into the bedroom. I've left a couple of bottles of breast milk in the fridge to keep you going until you can buy some formula and there are enough dippers to keep you going a day or two. Your assistant is interviewing nannies.' She picked up the pink suitcase and began to walk to the door.
She didn't stop. Didn't turn round.
'Where are you going?'
'Home,' she said, not missing a stride. 'I've done what I came to do. I've brought you your daughter.'
She reached the door.
'I love you.'
She let out the breath she'd been holding but still didn't turn round.
'I've always loved you. I came back to you with a ring in my pocket.'
'No…..' That couldn't be true. He'd scarcely looked at her. 'No,' she said turning to face him. 'You never called. Never wrote. Not even a postcard.'
'I meant to, but I didn't know what to say. Sorry? Thank you? There was only one thing you'd want to hear and I couldn't write it.'
Plain and honest… She was certainly getting what she'd asked for.
'So why the ring?'
'I couldn't face you without it and then, having screwed myself to the sticking point, admitted that I wanted you, I discovered that you'd found someone else.'
'And you just accepted that? Didn't bother to put up a fight? Lucas Scott, who always got what he went after?'
'Off the hook, you mean. That wasn't love, Lucas. That was guilt. And you were married to Peyton within a year. Still, when you've got a ring….'
'I didn't give Peyton your ring. I threw it in the trash can, then I realized that Haley would find it, so I took it out again. I still have it.'
She shook her head, not wanting to believe it.
It's in my apartment in LA. At the back of my sock drawer.'
It was a cry from the heart for everything she'd lost and in a second he was there beside her, his arms around her, but she had to tell him. Now. This minute, before her heart shattered.
'There wasn't anyone else, Lucas. There has never been anyone else. They were all just camouflage. You'd left me and I didn't want you to know how much that had hurt me. One word. If you'd just said one word….'
'I was afraid. I thought you'd slow me down.'
She looked up at him. 'You were right.'
'Was I? Truly? If I'd had an ounce of your strength, purpose, if I'd had the courage to tell you that I loved you, you would have braved everything to come with me.'
She shook her head, but he caught her chin, forced her to look at him.
'It's true. How did you do it now, Brooke? Where did you find the strength to fly into the unknown?'
'Love,' she said. 'Your love, your sacrifice gave me wings.'
'And now you're prepared to do the same?'
'Actually, Lucas, I was banking on that fact that having done it yourself you'd finally get the message.'
'Tell me anyway.'
'…..whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lode… We're a family, Lucas. It doesn't matter where we are, so long as we're together.'
Lucas felt as if his heart were bursting. He'd given everything and in return he'd gained that world.
'There's just one more question,' he said. 'Will you marry me? Not a paper marriage, but a making babies, till-death-us-do-part, forever and a day marriage. In a wedding with flowers and bridesmaids and doves and string quartets. I'll even shave off the beard.'
'No,' she said. Then, while his heart was still recovering from shock, No doves, no string quartets, but the beard can definitely go.' Then, when he just ginned, 'That's your cue to kiss me Luke. We've got ten years to catch up on.'
From the Tree Hill Gazette:
Ducks Add Delight And Drama To Wedding
Local business women Brooke Davis and Tree Hill born author Lucas Scott were married today in a charmingly simple ceremony by the River Court Park.
The bride wore a Geena Wagner gown in ivoey silk. Her matching tiara and jewelry was made by the bride's business partner and Maid of honor Rachael McFadden.
The couple's niece, Grace Scott and the bride's long time friend Peyton Saywer-Jagielski were bridesmaids.
The ceremony was followed by a country style picnic for family and friends by the river where guests were entertained by singer Mia Catalano. A dozen white ducks, decked out in emerald bows added rural charm to the scene, but during the afternoon they escaped their handler and made for the lake. So far the attempts to capture them have failed.
The couple, who have now left on an extended honeymoon that reportedly includes India, Europe and Japan, have homes in Tree Hill, Los Angeles and New York City.