I own nothing, not even "Tim McGraw" by Taylor Swift.

By now I'm pretty sure everyone knows I love her . . . if you don't, well I do. I've thought about using this song for a while and I finally had the time to put some thought into it. A bit AU, hopefully it'll explain itself.

Enjoy!


He said the way my blue eyes shined
Put those Georgia stars to shame that night
I said, "That's a lie."

She can hear them yell at each other and call the other person names, but it's all in good humor. She looks up from her sketchpad just long enough to watch the younger brother run to the net and dunk it through the metal rim. The smirk he sends his older brother makes Peyton smile.

Nathan Scott has been her best friend since they were basically born. He's only three months older then her and they've shared just about all of their biggest things together. In the fall they'll start their freshman year of high school together. They're best friends and Peyton wouldn't have it any other way.

She finishes the curve of Nathan's shoulder and shades a certain part of his face. His body is toned from his basketball workouts, but he's still considered scrawny. At least in his father's eyes. Because of that Nathan's already assured her that he'll be spending most of his summer in the gym.

She hears the ball dribble furiously against the pavement and when she looks up again, Lucas Scott has the ball. He smiles and fakes out Nathan before spinning around and sinking the fade away shot. It's all about the fade away.

"It's all about the fade away, baby brother", he says in response to Nathan's sullen stance. Peyton chuckles and Lucas looks over at her. He stretches out one arm and points in her direction.

"Peyton knows", he says easily. She does know; she's been hearing that since she was seven years old and would sit on these bleachers while they played ball.

"Don't take his side! You're my best friend!" Nathan says as he wildly throws his arms around. Peyton shakes her head and drops her sketchpad onto the table.

"I'm not taking sides", she's quick to comment. "You know almost better than I do, the fade away is clutch", she rests her hands on her hips and dares him to try and argue with her. His shoulders slouch and she can hear him let out a breath of air.

"I hate it when she's right", he grumbles. Lucas laughs loudly and throws his head back. He rushes over to where Peyton stands and grabs his bottle of water.

"That's why I love ya, Peyton Elizabeth", he says simply and without any commitment. She smiles up at him and watches as he jogs back over to his brother – apparently they're playing best out of three.

If she stops to think about the lives they all lead she'd be surprised at how put together they all are. Peyton lost her mother when she was eight in a car crash. Her father is always away and that leaves her in a big house all alone – well Nathan's there most of the time, but that's not the point.

Nathan's usually at her house because his father is too domineering. Since she can remember, Dan Scott has been controlling everything the brunette does. He's strict about work outs and he barely lets Nathan have any real fun. Peyton's always been his one refuge and she seems to be Dan's soft spot.

Lucas Scott is Dan's son biologically, but when Lucas was seven his Uncle Keith adopted him. Lucas' life is probably the most screwed up and she's not being mean about it; it's a fact. He was born when his mother, Karen Roe, was a teenager and Dan couldn't handle it (he also wanted to fulfill his dream of being a Duke Blue Devil). So he left her and spent his time at Duke.

Lucas led a fairly simple life. He had his mother and his uncle and well, he was only three so that was really all he needed. And then Dan came back, a year before graduation, with a pregnant woman who wore a shiny diamond on her finger. He acted as if Lucas wasn't in existence and he was pretty mean to Karen and his brother Keith (yes, that's who later became Lucas' father).

Skip ahead a few years and Keith and Karen were married and Nathan was the ring bearer while Peyton was the flower girl. Lucas was Keith's best man, even though he was so young. Dan and his wife Deb were in attendance mostly because Karen and Deb were friends and she made Dan go.

Everything was great for a long time . . . and then Karen went to Italy to attend a cooking school. That wasn't the real problem though. The real problem was when Keith went to pick Karen up. A drunk driver ran a red light and in an instant, Keith was taken from them.

In the midst of it all, Lucas clung to Peyton for support. It was odd because they weren't even really friends, but if she thinks about it now, it makes sense. She had just lost her mother a few months prior and so it must have seemed like she had some kind of answers. She was only eight and she didn't have any answers at all, but she was never one to critique how someone grieves.

Now they're older and more mature and they'll be attending the same high school. They've had some times where they weren't exactly close or even really friends (not so much Peyton, but the boys). This year Lucas will be a senior and that means he basically runs the school. He's on the varsity team and he's captain and he's got an on again, off again girlfriend named Brooke Davis.

"Alright, I've got to meet Brooke", Peyton rolls her eyes and picks up her sketchpad. Lucas and Nathan do their traditional fist pump and manly hug and then he walks over to Peyton.

"See ya Peyton", he says breezily and pulls her in for a one armed hug. She squirms and fidgets, but he only holds her closer.

"You're all sweaty, jerk!" she yells and he finally let's her go. He messes with her already unruly curls and sends her a wink.

"You love it."

"Get over yourself", she scoffs.

But she does. She's crushing big time on her best friend's older brother. His older and very popular brother. She's not delusional enough to think that anything would ever happen and so she doesn't even let herself think those things. Right now she's just happy to still hang out with him.

And stare at him as he walks away.

"Hey, come here!" he calls out to her when he's about three feet away. She looks at Nathan who's completely lost in his own world and then walks over to the older Scott. She hopes her blush isn't giving away the fact that she was staring at him.

"Anyone ever tell you that you have incredible eyes?"

And she'll take those compliments, but not well.

"You tell that to all the girls?" she asks smartly. He chuckles and shakes his head. He pulls his car door open and slides into the driver's seat.

"Nope, just the ones I like", and then he winks.

And she thinks her heart explodes.

Just a boy in a Chevy truck
That had a tendency of gettin' stuck
On back roads at night

It's July and it's hot. Peyton's in a tank top and cut off shorts as she watches Nathan continuously shoot free throws – he wasn't kidding when he told her this was how his summer was going to be spent. She lets out a sigh and lies back on the picnic table.

She could be at the beach with Haley and her sisters, but no. She has to be a good best friend. There are some days she seriously regrets being best friends with a boy. She hears another swish and then Nathan's excitement filled laughter and she knows she doesn't really mean to think that. She's lost in her own world and so she doesn't hear the car that parks a few feet away.

Lucas gets out of his car and stares at Peyton. She's got unruly curls and legs that never seem to end and he thinks he might like her a little bit. It's kind of ridiculous, he's a senior and a jock and there are rules he's supposed to follow, but he doesn't really care.

Before he tried out for the basketball team – at Keith and Dan's insistence – he was perfectly fine being the quiet kid who carried around a book. Now he's got to go to parties and attend pointless meetings for uniforms and pep rallies and it's not really him. But nobody really knows him.

Except for Peyton.

He's known her forever and he's seen her at some of her worst and best moments and it's the same way with her. If he was younger or she was older he's certain they'd be a couple. But she's too young and he's too old and they probably don't have much in common anyway. He shakes his head and sits on the bench that her feet are firmly planted on.

"Why are you not at the beach with Haley?" he asks in confusion. Peyton rests her weight on her elbows and pushes her aviators to the top of her head. Lucas does his best not to stare, but with the sun bouncing off her curls she could be an angel . . . a hot angel.

"How do you even know about that?" he shrugs carelessly and leans against the worn wood.

"Taylor texted me and told me to stop by", Peyton makes a face that he can't see because he's no longer facing her and she shakes her head. He and Brooke called it quits for good a few weeks ago; Taylor could probably smell the break up before it happened. Of course she did. "What's that mean?"

Her cheeks heat up and she looks to the ground. She didn't realize she said that out loud. She tucks some hair behind her ear and bites her bottom lip and Lucas thinks she looks adorable. He nudges her leg with his arm and raises his brows expectantly.

"It just figures that she would that's all", she mumbles. He smirks and she would punch it right off of him – he's convinced – but she's still looking at the table as if she's waiting to melt and fit into all those little crevices.

"Well, I was thinking of heading to the beach anyway . . . wanna come with me?" he asks casually. She looks up at him and does her best not to look surprised.

"You want to go to the beach with me?" it isn't until she says the sentence that she realizes how immature she sounds. But a part of her doesn't really care.

Especially when he shakes his head and says; "Yes, is that a problem?" and then he lets out a soft laugh.

Peyton's never been the girl to believe in love or princesses and fairytales, but for this moment she finds herself wishing they were boyfriend and girlfriend or that she was a little bit older or he was a little bit younger; just to make things simpler.

"No, I just – I think Nathan would kill me", she says and tilts her head in his direction. Lucas looks out onto the court and smiles at his younger brother. He's got dedication that's for sure.

"No offense, but I don't think he's gonna miss you much", he's got sincerity in his eyes and she knows he really didn't mean to offend her. She couldn't be offended anyway, it's totally the truth; she's just kind of nervous to be alone with Lucas.

"Hey Nate!" she calls out. "I'm gonna head to the beach with your brother!" he stops dribbling and holds the ball at his hip. He nods his head and sends them both a wave before starting his free throws again.

"See", Lucas says triumphantly.

Peyton scoffs and rolls her eyes while she picks up her bag. She's got stuff already in it for the beach – just in case Nathan gave up – and as she's lifting it, it gets stuck on a splinter of wood. Some of her things fall to the floor and Lucas helps her pick them up.

"Dorian Gray?" he asks as he hands her the book. She takes it from him slowly; confused by his confusion. "Was it on the book list for this summer?"

"No", she shakes her head. "I just haven't read it in a while", she shrugs and heads to his truck. Lucas is left in a daze.

Maybe they have more in common then he thought.

"Luke, this view is amazing", she says as she looks out onto the river. The stars are shining and they glimmer against the still water. She can hear the crickets and the bull frogs singing and it's all perfect – too perfect.

"Yeah it is", he says, but he's not looking at the stars or the river.

He's staring at her. They've spent the whole day together and even though he's never questioned it, he knows why Nathan enjoys spending so much time with her. She's feisty and sweet and really funny. She's smart and self-deprecating and she doesn't really care what other people think. They've talked about books and art and movies.

And he's spent most of the day trying not to kiss her.

He doesn't want to seem like he's taking advantage of her to trying to get her to fall under his spell. Although, taking her out to his secret spot in the middle of the night combines those two things; he really doesn't need anything to happen.

But that's not to say he'd object to it.

He walks over and stands next to her. She shivers a little so he jogs over to his truck and pulls out his letterman jacket. Without a second thought or waiting for her objections, he drapes it over her shoulders.

She shouldn't like him, but she does. He's down to earth and caring. He's smart which didn't really surprise her; the certificates for honor roll are on his fridge. He's gentle, but still incredibly masculine and he kind of makes her heart race.

"So, have you put any thought into colleges?" she asks softly as the animals and insects make their noise. Lucas groans and throws his head back. His side profile is almost as gorgeous as his front one . . . almost.

He nods his head and sticks his hands into the pockets of his board shorts – she realizes that he does this a lot – and says; "Yeah, actually this fall there's supposed to be a ton of scouts at the games."

Peyton's eyebrows raise and she thinks of Nathan for the first time in hours. It's odd that she hasn't let her mind wander to him, he's usually always in her mind in some way. Scouts are a big deal for athletes and it'll be a big deal if Nathan gets recognized early.

"Columbia's a really good school" she says randomly. Lucas looks at her and folds his arms over his broad chest. She doesn't know it, but he's got a list of his top five schools in the top drawer of his desk at home.

Columbia's number one.

"From what I hear they've got a great literary program and I know we've been talking about books all day and . . . I don't know you seem to really enjoy them –"

She's rambling and it's cute. She's a bit red from her time in the sun and her jean shorts come up high on her thighs. And she's talking about literature again which is undeniably sexy. And so he can't take it anymore. He unfolds his arms and walks over to her and she barely has any time to react.

She simply watches as he leans in and kisses her.

It's her first kiss – actually that's a lie. Nathan was her first kiss, but it was just a press of his lips to hers and they only did it because they were ten and their friends dared them too. Now she's fourteen and kissing the boy she's had a crush on since she was that ten year old. She's got hormones and they seem to be raging because she doesn't ever want to stop kissing him.

His tongue skims into her mouth and she freaks out a little bit because she's never kissed a boy like this. This feels grown up and like something special and she cannot believe this is happening. She has to call Haley as soon as she gets home.

He can feel her tense as he takes their kiss further and it makes him pull back. He smiles when she lets out a soft whimper. "Peyton I'm sorry I –"

She grabs him by the front of his t-shirt and she places her lips on his once more. He smiles into the kiss and tangles his hand in her curls. He was going to apologize for forcing the kiss on her, but he doesn't think that's necessary.

She's really glad he asked her to go the beach this morning.

And I was right there beside him all summer long
And then the time we woke up to find that summer gone

"Good morning, sunshine", he whispers into her ear. She groans and rolls away from him, but he smiles and moves to the side she's now facing. "I said good morning", he whispers again. She pretends she doesn't hear him even though she's awake and he just laughs before placing a kiss to her temple.

"I'll be downstairs", he tells her and she misses the warmth he provided once he leaves. It's September and it's their first day of school. Peyton's a freshman and Lucas is a senior and she's actually kind of excited for it.

She jumps in the shower and then brushes her teeth before putting on a tank top and a denim skirt. She runs some product through her hair and puts on a little mascara and lip balm before taking a breath and walking down the stairs.

He's standing at the stove with a spatula in his hand and a pan above the flame. There's already some toast and orange juice on the table and when he turns around she can see that he's plating some French toast. It's so incredibly sexy that he cooks for her.

"You totally win the boyfriend of the year award", she says playfully. He laughs and moves the frying pan out of the way so that she can kiss him, just like they both know she wants to. She kisses him more passionately then he's expected and he needs to put the pan on the table so that he can truly appreciate it.

Her arms wrap around his neck and his hands plant themselves on her waist. She pulls him a little closer and he grips her hips a little tighter and when they really can't breathe anymore they break the kiss.

"Good morning", she whispers softly as their noses nuzzle. He lets out a breath at just how perfect his girlfriend is and he kisses her one last time before turning back to the French toast. "This looks great", she says and slides onto a wooden chair.

"You look great", he comments. She blushes and rolls her eyes and he laughs at her inability to take a compliment. "I'm serious, that's like my favorite outfit for you", he says and stares at her appreciatively.

"Luke", she whispers self-consciously. In her mind she's still too skinny and her legs are chicken-y. She's got a non-existent chest and her hair is too damn frizzy some days. She doesn't see herself like Lucas sees her, but she thinks that maybe it's good that he's around to do that.

"Alright", he says and holds his hands up. "But for the record, you're incredibly sexy", he says easily as he continues his tasks. Peyton's cheeks heat up instantly. He's never called her that; gorgeous and beautiful and amazing all top the list, but never has he called her sexy.

She's staring at him as he sits down and he smiles in confusion before looking around. He pats his face and checks his shirt to make sure there's nothing on it and when he knows he's clean, he looks at her.

"What?"

She shakes her head and rests her hand over his. "Nothing, I just – I . . ." and she almost says it. She almost makes the big proclamation and throws her heart out there fully. But she's too young and he's too young and it's too soon.

"I kind of like you", she whispers playfully. He grins and turns his hand over so that he can squeeze hers gently.

"Well good", he says in mock thankfulness. "I kind of like you too", he says softly and then she leans over and kisses him.

It's their biggest declaration to date and Lucas can only wait in anticipation of the ones to come. He hopes they happen soon. He needs to tell her he loves before he explodes.

They get to school early because Lucas is the captain of the Ravens and he needs to watch the JV and freshman tryouts so he can decide who makes the cut for Varsity. He pulls her closer to him and kisses her before looking at her with concern in his eyes.

"You're gonna be okay, right? You know where your locker is and stuff?" she tugs at the bottom of his t-shirt and he sucks in a breath because of it. She doesn't know how the things she does affect him.

"Yes, I do", she says sweetly. "One of the perks about being friends with Haley James . . . she knows everything there is to know about school", they both laugh at how true that statement is. He nods his head and kisses her again and then she's on her own.

The freshmen have separate lockers then the rest of the grades so Peyton finds her section easily. She's putting her code into the small lock and trying to take deep breaths when someone walks over and bumps their hip against hers.

"Hey foxy", Peyton says to her longtime friend. Haley rolls her eyes and holds her notebook closer to her. "What are you doing here so early?"

"I signed up for a couple of clubs and to be a tutor", she says while she shrugs her shoulders. Peyton laughs and nods her head. Haley needs to be the first one to do everything that's academic related.

"How's the boyfriend", she asks with a glimmer in her eyes. Peyton blushes simply because it's what she does whenever anyone asks about that blonde boy.

"Lucas is fine", she says and tucks a curl behind her ear. "He's watching the tryouts as we speak", she says and whether she knows it or not her eyes glance over to the gym doors.

"Oh my God, I bet Nathan's been a wreck", she says in concern for her friend. Peyton looks down at the floor and then back at Haley; guilt is etched into her features.

"I haven't really talked to Nathan about it. I actually haven't even talked to him in a while", she admits. Haley's brows raise, but she does her best not to look disappointed. It doesn't work. "I know, I'm like the worst best friend ever, but I've been really busy with –"

"Lucas", Haley whispers knowingly. Peyton throws her head back and groans. She always vowed that whenever she got a boyfriend she would make it known that Nathan was an important boy in her life and that whoever she dated was going to have to deal with it.

She just didn't expect her first boyfriend to be related to him.

"Well when you say it like that, I suck even more", she mumbles as they start to walk down the hall. Haley shakes her head in disagreement.

"No you don't. You have other priorities now", Peyton shakes her head and stops so she can face Haley.

"No, he probably hates me", she pouts and puts her hands on her hips. Haley scoffs and rolls her eyes.

"There's no way he hates you", she mutters. "He cares about you too much to lose you by trying to fight about this", she says with wisdom that Peyton loves her for. But it still doesn't make her feel all that much better.

Neither of them gets another word in after that because Nathan comes running out of the gym and full speed towards Peyton. He pulls her into his arms and spins them around in the hallway. Peyton starts to laugh and she holds onto him for dear life.

"I made it!" he whispers into her ear. She hugs him a little closer and responds;

"Of course you did, you're Nathan Scott."

He chuckles and squeezes her a little tighter. He's thrilled beyond belief and Peyton can tell. He also has every right to be, it's not every day that a freshman makes the varsity team. He tells her that Lucas didn't even have a say in the vote because by the time they got to his vote – the coach and the head of the athletic department had the first saying – Nathan was already a definite.

They're all standing in a circle listening to Nathan talk about what the tryouts were like when the gym doors open again and Lucas walks out. Peyton's the only one who notices and her heart speeds up when she does. He winks at her and she smiles at him.

She's glad he doesn't make her choose who to hang out with.

He'd win every time.

But when you think Tim McGraw
I hope you think my favorite song
The one we danced to all night long
The moon like a spotlight on the lake

The school year seems to fly by. Lucas and Peyton spend their time solidifying their status as the couple on campus and going to dances and pep rallies and everything you're supposed to go to when you're in high school.

They don't talk about the upcoming fall because it's too hard for both of them to even think about. He'll be leaving and she'll be stuck in Tree Hill . . . without him. It's only a few months until he graduates and after that their time together has an expiration date.

"Peyt, come on!" Lucas yells out from his place on her bed. Its spring break and they're excited to spend a lot of time together. Whitey's got nothing on the training schedule and that means free time for all the boys.

"I'm coming! I have nothing to wear!" she yells in exasperation. Lucas chuckles and lies back against her comforter. She's got more than enough clothes and he's certain she'll look amazing in anything. He's also a little annoyed that she's locked herself in her closet for the last forty-five minutes.

"Wear those jeans that I like", he shouts. She smiles form inside her closet. She's got those exact jeans in her hands, but she wants to tease him just a little.

"What jeans?"

"You know!" he yells. "The ones with the hole in the knee!" he smiles to himself as he pictures her in those jeans.

"You also know I don't have to listen to you!" she calls out teasingly. She can hear him laugh and she smiles from it.

"I know you don't, but they're your favorite jeans too!" he's got her there. She slips them on and then slowly comes out of her closet.

"You think you know me so well", she says as she walks over to him. He sits up and his breathing stops for a minute. She's so perfect, even in ripped jeans and a tank top that he really cannot believe he went so long without being in her life.

"I clearly do", he plays along with her teasing. She stands in front of him and his hands instantly find places on her legs. He rests them on the back of her thighs and he stares up at her as she runs her fingers through his hair.

It's the simple moments that they love the most.

"I still need a shirt", she says softly and with a smile that he loves. Lucas nudges her a little closer to him as he shakes his head.

"No you don't", a blush fills her cheeks and she leans down to kiss him quickly; he doesn't let it turn into a quick kiss.

His tongue skims across her lips and she doesn't hesitate to allow its entrance. She runs her hands down to his shoulders and to his back. He pulls her closer to him until she's forced (although she's not really forced at all) to straddle his lap.

"Luke", she whispers against his lips.

He lies back and falls atop him; their lips never leaving each others. His hands leave her legs and travel up her body to rest on her hips. He rolls them over so that he's hovering above her and he peppers her face with kisses. He stops at her neck on that spot that he knows she loves.

They've become professionals at making-out in the months since they've started dating. They haven't gone any further and that's just fine with both of them for now. Peyton's still insecure about some things and Lucas doesn't want to force her into something he'll regret.

Not that he thinks she'll regret it.

She starts to pull at the bottom of his shirt, but her hand grazes something in his back pocket. She furrows her brows and pushes on his chest softly. He stares at her in confusion and wipes his lips; her lip balm always leaves his lips a little sticky.

"What is that?"

He shakes his head – still lost in a cloud of lust – and she reaches down to pull the item out of his pocket. He closes his eyes and drops his head when he sees the white envelope. He knows their moment is about to be ruined because he never told her what it was and because of what it is.

"This is from Brown", she says as she stares at the envelope. Lucas is still too focused on her bruised lips and even wilder curls to really pay much attention to her. "Were you going to tell me?"

"Of course I was", he says with a soft laugh. "I was going to wait until after breakfast, but of course I was going to tell you", he says in a soft tone.

Peyton closes her eyes and lets out a breath. She's starting to act crazy and crazy is the last thing she needs to be right now. Her boyfriend's gotten a letter from a college. A college in Rhode Island.

"I didn't open it yet", he mumbles as she plays with the rectangular paper. He can tell she's thinking things that will upset her; he's thought them all since he got this the other day. He doesn't want that to happen now. For now, he wants to be with her.

"Let's do something tonight", he says and she meets his blue eyes. "I'll head home and we can both relax for a little while and I'll come pick you up in a few hours", he says softly and caringly. She nods and leans up to kiss him.

It's her way of promising that it's okay, that she's okay, and that they'll be okay.

Later that night they're driving around in the truck that he loves so much. The radio is on and Lucas smiles every time Peyton scoffs at a song and changes the station. It doesn't surprise him when she plugs her iPod into the unit; it does surprise him when she puts on a country playlist.

"I'm a southern girl", she says as an explanation; she could see him staring from the corner of her eye. He shrugs and laughs a little and she looks at him adoringly.

"How's Nathan?" he asks as he navigates through their little town. Peyton smiles when he brings up his younger brother. Things have run smoothly as far as juggling a best friend and boyfriend can go and she's really glad that neither of them have their feelings hurt.

"He great, the practices are long, but he loves them", she says as she shakes her head. It may be spring break and other teens are enjoying their time away from school by forgetting about school. Nathan is at a training camp in Florida, busting his ass so that he can be an even better ball player.

"That sounds like Nathan", he says in agreement. They pull onto a dirt path that Peyton remembers well and she looks at him. "I know, we've been here before, but this place is a safe haven", he says simply.

A song comes on the iPod and Peyton's face lights up. He doesn't know as much about music as she does, but after months together he's learned a few things. He knows this is Tim McGraw singing, but he has no idea what the name is.

"This is my favorite song", Peyton whispers. He doesn't know when it became her favorite or why it is, but he'll be sure to ask later. For now, he just wants to be with his girlfriend.

"Dance with me", he whispers. She looks at him like he's crazy until he raises the volume on the radio and gets out of the car. He opens her door and reaches for her hand.

"Luke, I wasn't trying to –"

"I know, and that's why I want to", he says simply and when he smiles like that she cannot say no. it amazes her sometimes that this is who Lucas really is. When she was younger and all she saw was the older Scott. He was either at the Rivercourt or helping in his mother's café.

He was almost non-existent.

But he's here now. Holding her and dancing with her. He's kissing her and whispering into her ear. He's very much existent and he's the most important presence in her life. He holds her a little closer and she locks her arms around his neck.

"I have something to show you", he whispers softly. She looks up at him with excited eyes. She always loves surprises. He stops dancing with her even though the song isn't over yet and pulls something out of his pocket.

She takes the envelope from him with furrowed brows; that confusion disappears quickly. "It's Columbia", she says a little breathlessly. He nods and leans his forehead against hers.

"It was on my desk when I got home earlier", he whispers. "I've been too scared to open it", he says with a pathetic laugh. Peyton brings her free hand up and cups his cheek, he's so adorable sometimes.

"I'm surprised your mom didn't make you open it right away", Peyton says in shock. Karen knows this has been Lucas's dream school since he entered high school.

"I told her I wanted to wait for you", he whispers sincerely. She stands on the tips of her feet and kisses him quickly, but passionately before looking at the envelope. Her eyes meet his fleetingly and then she tears the paper open.

Her green eyes scan the letter for the words she needs to see. And there they are, clear as day. She looks up at him and smiles softly.

"You're going to Columbia", she whispers with a shaky voice. He lets out a breath that's mixed between a laugh and a sense of relief. She doesn't really know why she's bordering on tears, but she thinks it has something to do with the fact that this is literally his dream and she's a part of it.

"I'm so proud of you", she says as a few tears trail down her cheeks. He chuckles at the emotions she's showing and he's proud of her. This is a life changing moment for them and she's thrilled that he's accomplished such things.

"I love you", he says before he realizes what he's saying. Peyton sucks in a breath and stares up at him and he feels like he either made the best or the worst decision of his life.

"I love you too", she says without missing a beat. He smiles and kisses her deeply before picking her up and spinning her around; the moonlight is their only source of light and that song that Peyton loves has just ended.

They spend the rest of the night dancing and playing that song on repeat.

When you think happiness
I hope you think that little black dress
Think of my head on your chest
And my old faded blue jeans
When you think Tim McGraw
I hope you think of me

"So, when do you leave?" Larry Sawyer asks Lucas as they sit in the living room.

Lucas is nervous. He's only met Peyton's father a handful of times and the man is incredibly intimidating. He doesn't try to be, but maybe that's the feeling all boys get when they spend time with the father of the girl they're dating.

"A few weeks", he responds after clearing his throat. Larry nods his head and then let's out a soft puff of air. He knows his daughter will be crushed.

Lucas rubs his hands over his dress pants and looks around the room. He still loves looking at the pictures of Peyton from when she was younger. He knows she was adopted, but she has a strong resemblance to Anna. Larry follows his eyes and Lucas looks at him when he starts to speak.

"It's been a while since she was this happy", he comments. Lucas shakes his head and tries to disagree, but Larry won't let him. "After I lost Anna it was too hard to stay here. The memories really haunt a person."

"Mr. Sawyer –"

"She's always had Nathan and for that I was grateful and now she has you and I'm the lucky one because I know I don't need to worry about her as much as I used to", he nods his head for added merit and Lucas smiles.

He doesn't get a chance to respond though because Peyton comes walking down her stairs and he loses his breath. That seems to happen a lot around her. She's in a simple black dress and a pair of black heels and her hair is slightly straight.

"You look gorgeous", he says with a smile on his face. Peyton blushes and tucks a strand of hair behind her ears. He looks pretty great too. He's in a pair of black slacks and a light blue button down and he looks great.

Both men stand when Peyton comes into the room and Lucas immediately gravitates to her. He takes her hand and whispers that she really does look amazing and she blushes like she always does. Larry chuckles at his daughter's inability to take a compliment.

"You two have fun", he says with a tone that lets Lucas know they cannot have too much fun. Peyton hugs her father and Lucas shakes his hand and then both teens are out the door.

They drive to his mother's café and Peyton furrows her brows. Lucas holds up a finger – telling her to wait and see – and then they head up to the roof. The second the large, metal door opens Peyton can feel her heart speed up.

Tea lights are scattered around and rose petals lead up to a table that's covered in a white table cloth. Food is already on the table and the tea light and roses that are scattered around it add to the romance of this night.

It is, after all, their one year anniversary.

"Lucas", she whispers. She turns around and he's smiling like a man who just won the lottery and it makes Peyton throw her arms around his neck and kiss him senseless. "I can't believe you did all this."

"I have to admit, Haley come up and plated the food so that it didn't get cold", Peyton laughs and takes his hand as she leads him to the table. They sit – after he pulls out her chair – and star at each other over the candles.

"I can't believe you're going to college", she says as she shakes her head. "I mean, of course I can believe you got in, I just can't believe you're really leaving", he squints his eyes at her and reaches for her hand over the table.

"I know, but can we not talk about it tonight?" he requests softly. Peyton nods her head and squeezes his larger hand. "I love you", he adds with a smile.

"I love you too", Peyton never gets tired of hearing it and she doesn't get tired of saying it. Lucas is the first boy she's said that too and she kind of doesn't want to ever say it to anyone else. But that's too big of a declaration and promise for them.

They spend the night eating and talking and laughing and loving every minute they have together. When they're done Lucas pulls a remote out of his pocket and a song starts playing that, by now, they both know well.

They dance on the rooftop of that old café and he holds Peyton as close as he can. She sways against him and every once and a while she creates a friction that has Lucas holding in a groan. She doesn't say the words that she's thinking, but she doesn't want him to leave.

She doesn't want him to go away to college and find smart college girls and go to stupid dorm parties. She wants him to stay in Tree Hill and be with her forever. Love her forever. She leans up and kisses him and he makes a noise of surprise.

Her fingers play with the hair at the nape of his neck and his hands run up her back before coming around and resting on her hips. This kiss feels different the other kisses they've shared. This feels desperate and needy and like can't get enough of each other.

He kisses her neck and she tilts her head to give him better access. Her hands skim up his dress shirt and she feels his hot flesh beneath her fingers. She's got a surge of bravery and her hormones have taken over before she can even try and stop them. She's not sure she would if she had the chance.

"Luke", she whispers and he loves when she says his name like that. "Make love to me", she pants out.

He pulls back from the red spot on her neck and stares at her. "Peyton, I don't want you to –"

"I won't regret it and I'm not being irrational. I want you, all of you and I just . . . I kind of sound like a total loser right now", she finishes with a laugh.

He kisses her again and his hand finds the zipper of the black dress that he's come to love. She slowly undoes the buttons of his shirt and pushes it off his shoulders. Her dress falls to the floor, leaving her in a black slip and her heels.

"This isn't how I thought our first time would be", he whispers honestly. She smiles because he's thought about their first time together and because he's so concerned that this won't be what she may have pictured.

"You're here", she rasps. "So it's already exactly how I thought it would be", he smirks at her and grabs the blanket he brought in case she got too cold.

They kiss some more as they lay on the blanket and their kissing leads to touching. Her slip is discarded and his pants are undone. He treats her body carefully and doesn't do anything without her urging him on. This is her first time and he wants her to experience the most pleasure possible.

He's her first, he wants to be her last, and he thinks he wants to be her only.

September saw a month of tears
And thankin' God that you weren't here
To see me like that

Lucas leaves the second week of August. Peyton doesn't leave her house until the first day of school in September.

Peyton walks into the school with her classic converse on her feet and aviators over her eyes. She's dressed in a simple band tee and dark wash skinny jeans and she doesn't really feel like dealing with anything or anyone. But she's in high school and her boyfriend is Lucas Scott; neither of those options is possible.

She walks to her locker – the same one as last year – and puts in her code – the same one as last year – and she feels as though this school year isn't going to be so different. And then she looks over to where Lucas's locker was and she realizes he isn't going to be standing there, waiting for her with a smile on his perfect lips.

Because he's at a university that's ten hours away.

"Whoa . . . I was beginning to think I'd imagined all those years of friendship", Peyton turns her head and smiles dryly at Haley. "You are real!" she shouts.

"Shut up", Peyton hisses and playfully shoves her dark haired friend. She closes her locker and they both walk down the hall. "I've had a hard time adjusting", she explains.

"How are you guys doing with the whole long distance thing?" she asks curiously. Peyton shrugs and tucks some blonde hair behind her ears.

"Okay . . . it's hard", she admits aloud for the first time. "I'm trying – I just . . . I'm trying to deal with it", Peyton says softly and they both know that conversation is over.

Haley nods and links her arms with her blonde friends'. "Well, how about you deal with it with some old friends?" she says softly.

Peyton rests her head against Haley's; the different colors of their hair mesh together. "I'd like that", she whispers.

"Have you seen Nathan?" Haley asks as they walk to their homeroom together. Peyton shakes her head and tells her that they texted for a bit during the summer, but then he got really busy with his camp.

"Why? Does he look good Haley James?" Peyton says with a smirk as she wiggles her eyebrows. Haley bumps her hip with her own and shakes her head. It's not really a secret that the short brunette has a crush on the dark haired Scott. Well it's not a secret to anyone except Nathan.

Before Haley can say a word – a positive word – a pair of arms encircle Peyton's waist and lift her off the ground. She drops her books and clings to the arms as she squeals loudly. He puts her on her feet and she spins around while throwing her arms around his neck. The other students don't question it, by now they're used to the displays of Nathan and Peyton.

"You look good, Nate", Peyton says as they break apart. He smirks knowingly and she punches his chest – his now toned chest.

"You're not so bad yourself, Sawyer", he says as he messes up her hair. She shoves his hand away and scowls as he looks at Haley.

"Haley James, lovely as ever", he says politely. Peyton doesn't know if he's got a crush on the third friend in their triangle, but if he does he should act on it.

Love can be a beautiful thing.

They've talked every day since he left. She always tries to sound upbeat and excited, but sometimes it's too hard to pretend. There are times when she cries after she hangs up and sometimes she can't even hold it in; she cries with him on the other end of the phone.

"I'm sorry", she whispers as she wipes her eyes. Lucas laughs softly and tells her its fine. "No, it's not. You're in college trying not to think about how far away you are and all I'm doing is reminding you of it! I suck."

"You do not suck", he tells her honestly. "It's hard to adjust. People handle it differently", he's quiet for a moment and then he says; "I miss you."

And her tears start to fall all over again.

Lucas's heart tears at the sound of her crying. He knows this is hard for her (it's hard for him too). He knows she doesn't go bearing her heart to every guy that wants it; he's the only one who's been privy to it in such a personal way. And so it's hard to have her be so upset about something that he can't change.

"Tell me we'll be okay", she whispers with sadness in her voice. It throws him for a loop and takes him a minute to answer. It's the first time he questions whether or not they will be okay. "Luke?"

"We'll be okay", he promises. But they both kind of know they won't be.

They break up two weeks later.

But in a box beneath my bed
Is a letter that you never read
From three summers back

The break-up crushes Peyton and she doesn't do anything for two weeks. Haley's tried everything in her power to her get friend out of bed, or into the shower, or to at least eat something, but it's futile. Nathan finally gets her up when he tells her he won't go to the first game if she isn't there.

They both know he was going either way.

Lucas and Peyton vowed to remain friends and let nothing come between that and it works for a while. They text when something funny or important happens; like when Lucas aces his midterm or when Peyton's painting is chosen for an art exhibit.

But eventually life catches up with them. Lucas focuses more on his major and his classes become a little harder and Peyton's got to think about school and her grades and colleges and her friends. She's got homecoming and pep rallies and she's the co-captain of the cheerleading squad (a long story that involves Nathan not wanting to be alone out on the court).

And before either of them knows it, three years have passed.

It's a few days after graduation and Peyton's packing up some things in her room. She's heading down to Georgia for college in the fall. She's got some time, but she's moving in with her boyfriend (yes, boyfriend). He's got a little more baggage then most eighteen year old guys, but she loves him.

Or at least she thinks she does.

It's not fair because she knows that in the back of her mind she's comparing him to Lucas. She hasn't even talked to the blonde in years and he's finding ways to creep into her life. Jake is the polar opposite of Lucas. He's dark hair and dark eyes. He's a converse wearing musician and he's got a daughter.

That's the baggage.

Jenny is a toddler and she's got a crazy mother which is why Jake's in Savannah to begin with. They started dating at the beginning of junior year and he disappeared around the end of it. It was a few months until he contacted her, but Peyton didn't care. She needed someone to say that they needed her and he and Jenny did, they do. Which is why she's moving.

She's pushing furniture around and cleaning up as she goes. She hasn't moved, ever, so she had no idea how extensive the ordeal was. She pulls her hair up into a ponytail and blows air at the bangs that fall in front of her eyes.

She pulls her comforter off of her bed and starts to sweep away the clumps of dust that have gathered over the years. When the broom hits an object she frowns and bends down. She lets out a little laugh before letting herself sober up.

It's her Lucas box.

Yes, she has a Lucas box.

But only because she knows he has a Peyton box.

She dusts off the top of the cardboard and sits on the edge of her bed while she opens it. The first thing she sees is the letter she wrote him while they were still dating the summer before her sophomore year.

She unfolds the worn paper and as she reads the words she wrote when she was so young and in love she starts to cry. She misses him and it's not until this moment that she lets herself think that. She's eighteen years old and still hopelessly in love with the boy who stole her heart all those years ago.

And that's how Nathan finds her.

"What's wrong?" he asks and he frantically searches the room for a clue. She holds up the letter and he stops to read it. His eyes look between her and the letter before he lets out a breath. "Peyton, this is . . ."

"Stupid", she mutters. "I don't even know why I'm so upset" she lies as she rubs her eyes with her hands. Nathan takes her small hand and cradles it in his own. Peyton stares at them and wonders where the innocence they once held went.

She misses the days when it was her and Nathan against the world.

"It's not stupid", he argues. "Peyt, maybe it's –"

"Nothing", she says pointedly. "I know", she stands from her bed and starts to throw stuff into the boxes she's set aside.

Nathan watches her and he knows it's not nothing, but he also knows better than to pry. When it comes to Peyton and Lucas everyone's known they're epic in the tragic kind of way. Their romance was a bit of a whirlwind; it happened quickly and ended just as quickly. But it doesn't mean they didn't love each other immensely. And even though it's been years, it doesn't mean that they don't still love each other.

"You gonna help me pack or are you gonna watch me?"

He laughs and stands to help her, but he pulls her into a hug before he does anything. She hugs him back just as fiercely. It's been years, but she's still really glad he's her best friend.

It's hard not to find it all a little bitter sweet
And lookin' back on all of that, it's nice to believe

Irony. It's a hard and bitter pill to swallow and Peyton's come to know it well. While she spent her weeks packing and planning out a new life for herself in Georgia with her boyfriend and his daughter, his daughter's mother spent her time getting clean and sober and Jake spent that time falling back in love with her.

Or falling into the realization that he's never stopped loving her.

Thankfully her father has enough money tucked away that he could afford a place for her to live (it was too late in the term to get on campus housing). Her year at Savannah College of Art and Design started after a few bumps in the road and she loves it. And she's good at it.

She follows Nathan's stats – he's a Duke Blue Devil – and she watches as Haley's baby bump expands. Yes, Haley and Nathan got their acts together around the end of their sophomore year. He may have called her and Lucas a whirlwind romance, but the term definitely applies to them too.

They started dating at sixteen. They eloped at seventeen. And at eighteen they're expecting their first baby, a boy, they learned the other week. It most certainly wasn't planned, but they're thrilled and Peyton's jealous.

She wonders if she and Lucas would have been married by now. Probably not because they're both too level headed to make that jump at this age. She thinks they'd be engaged because that doesn't seem too crazy. They talked about kids when they were dating and she often pictures them while she's in class.

Would they have curls or straight hair? Would their eyes be blue like his or green like hers? What mannerisms would they pick up? His squinting or her nose scrunch when she's confused? It doesn't really matter what she imagines because her reality is going home to an empty house.

It's not always so bad, sometimes she gets the feeling he thinks the same things.

A month later she gets a text that proves he does.

When you think Tim McGraw
I hope you think my favorite song
The one we danced to all night long
The moon like a spotlight on the lake

When you think happiness
I hope you think that little black dress
Think of my head on your chest
And my old faded blue jeans
When you think Tim McGraw
I hope you think of me

He's a senior at Columbia and even though the past four years have been hectic, he's going to miss the time he's spent here. He's made some great friends and he even found love again (or the closest thing to it). He and another English major, Lindsey, started dating when they were juniors and they lasted until the middle of this year. And then he caught her with her writing professor.

He wasn't as devastated as he should have been.

Since then he's focused more on his studies. It's all been leading up to the moment that will take place in a few days and all he can think of is how badly he wants Peyton here. It's crazy, he knows. They haven't talked in years and he hasn't seen her in just as long.

He hasn't even been home since before he left all those years ago.

His mother started dating a man from her past – Andy – and he's got enough money to build another wing for the University if they asked. He's got a penthouse in the city and since they don't have any real family back home, Karen always came down to New York for the holidays. Lucas was lucky enough to house-sit that penthouse in the summers and so there was never any need to go back to Tree Hill.

He regrets not going back every day.

"Yo Luke, we're going out tonight!" Tyler, a student who lives down the hall announces as he walks into Lucas's room. The blonde looks at him with raised brows and Tyler smiles before continuing, "We're going to a country bar!"

Lucas rolls his eyes, but continues to smile. Since the day he got here, the same group of boys has called him a Southern or Country. Of course he is, so he wasn't offended by those nicknames.

"Let me guess, this is supposed to be about me?" he says with a roll of his eyes. Tyler laughs and shrugs his shoulders.

"Dude, you barely come out with us and when you do you stay for like an hour. The semester is over. Our entire year is over . . . let's go out and celebrate!"

Before he can open his mouth to answer, Tyler's speaking again. "Look, you haven't really been the same since you and that girl broke up and we just want to make sure we end the year the right way", it's weird to hear someone talk about Peyton. And that is who Tyler's talking about and he knows that he's got a point.

Lucas nods and they fist bump before Tyler leaves so that Lucas can get ready. He throws on a plaid button down and an old pair of jeans, and the boots he's worn for years before meeting the guys downstairs and getting into a waiting taxi.

He still doesn't know where they're going, but they pass Central Park and some other well known places in the city and for some reason it makes him think of Peyton. She's finishing her first year of college and he doesn't even know where she goes.

He cannot believe how much he misses her.

They get to Rodeo Bar and Lucas laughs with his friends as their ID's are checked. This is something that he'll really like and he knows they'll like it just as much – maybe more. They have fun. They're the typical college guy crowd. They draw attention and do shots at the bar. Girls seem to flock to them, but Lucas doesn't really care about that.

Some of the girls at approach him are beautiful, but their eyes aren't the right shade of green and their hair doesn't curl the right way. Their legs don't go on for miles and they aren't sarcastic in a sexy kind of way. They aren't Peyton and that knowledge has followed him for years.

He's ordering a round of shots for his friends when the song that's playing ends and another one starts. Lucas can't even finish the shot. He knows this song well and he cannot believe its playing. Well, he can, but he never thought it would.

It's that old familiar song by Tim McGraw.

His friends look at him in concern and Tyler asks him what's wrong. He doesn't answer; he can't answer. He has no voice and he can feel the room closing in on him. Every moment he's shared with her seems to involve this song and in reality all their biggest moments involve this song.

He walks out of the bar and once he can't hear the music he can feel himself breathe again. He walks a little way down the block and he rests his back against the bricks of a hotel. He puts his hands on his knees and leaves forward in an attempt to stop the feeling of nausea that's overwhelming him.

He looks back up at the sky and the stars that he can see twinkle against the darkness of the night. He runs his hand through his hair and shakes his head. Simply thinking of Peyton does this to him; it might be a good thing he never went home. That's not right.

Without really thinking he pulls out his cell phone. He doesn't know if she still have the same number and he doesn't know if she'll actually get the message, but that doesn't matter. He needs someone – hopefully her – to know that he's thinking about her. So he types a few lines of the song and the skips a few spaces.

He leaves it at I miss you and then types his name. He knows he probably doesn't have any right in missing her. He stopped calling and texting and e-mailing, but so did she. And maybe if he reaches out to her she'll be willing to take a chance on him.

He waits with baited breath for a message that never comes.

And I'm back for the first time since then
I'm standin' on your street
And there's a letter left on your doorstep
And the first thing that you'll read is:

Its Christmas break and she's back in Tree Hill. She's actually back for good, but it hasn't set in yet. SCAD was great and she did love it, but it wasn't home and being in Georgia didn't feel right. Plus, Nathan and Haley are at Duke and she wants to be closer to them and baby James.

She doesn't really know what she's doing here. Well, she knows what she has the intention of doing, but actually doing it is going to be an accomplishment. She bends the envelope in her hand and she bites her bottom lip. She knows he lives here now and that Karen is out exploring the world with her fiancé. Which leaves Lucas in a house all alone.

She hasn't stopped thinking about him since he sent her that text message six months ago. She knows she would have been thinking of him anyway, but that only added to it. Peyton would have texted him back and she really thought about it, but in the end she was too scared to. She doesn't know much about his life because she's never wanted to. Now, she'd like to know what he's doing and if he's got a girlfriend or a fiancée. Although she's pretty sure there's no fiancée.

Regardless, she walks up the steps to his porch and tucks that envelope safely against the glass windowpane. She contemplates knocking on the door, but she doesn't think she can handle seeing him just yet. She's not delusional enough to think that it'll never happen, but she needs to mentally prepare herself.

He waits till she's completely gone to open his door and take a look at the paper she's left him. He opens it without giving it too much thought and the second he reads the first words he regrets opening it. It's dated from the last summer they were together and he smiles at her messy cursive.

He reads the whole thing right there on his porch and when he's done he lets out a breath. He wants that again. He wants to be in love and feel like he's flying. He wants everything he wanted and everything he talked about.

And he wants it with Peyton.

He runs into his room and grabs his car keys (he still drives that old truck) and he tries to think of all the places she could be. He doesn't check her house because that's too obvious so he heads elsewhere. The museum, his mother's café, and their high school gym are some of the first places he goes.

When those don't provide any results he checks the other places. He goes into the library and that old book store they used to frequent. His last two resorts at the Rivercourt and their place by the river. He doesn't know why, but he checks the Rivercourt first.

And he's thankful that he did.

She's standing in the middle of the court with her arms around her waist and her head bowed. Just like old times, he feels his breath get taken away. The years have done her well that's for sure. She's not the lanky (he thinks it with love) teenager she was when he left. Her body has filled out and she's got curves that he wants to appreciate.

He walks over to her quietly and when the wind blows he gets a whiff of the smell that he's missed so damn much. It's still vanilla, but instead of the coconut she used to use, he can smell a hint of lavender and he decides that it suits her. It's more mature, definitely a good change.

"Hey", he whispers bravely. She spins around and her mouth drops in shock. He looks good, actually, he looks amazing. His hair is perfectly messy and the button down he wears makes him look older. He's also filled out more since she's last seen him.

"Hi", she says just as softly. They stare at each other for a while and then she smiles which makes him smile and then they both laugh. "God Luke", and the way she whispers the shortened version of his name has him striding over to her and taking her into his arms.

She hugs him back with a fierceness that she never thought she had. His hand cups the back of her neck and the other wraps around her waist and she smiles at the classic hug he holds her in. he whispers that he misses her, that he's missed her. Maybe he shouldn't and maybe he shouldn't have told her, but he did and he couldn't not tell her.

"I miss you too", she whispers back. They need to talk; they both know it. They need to talk and cry and maybe yell a little bit. Because they both want everything with each other, but they need to get past all the crap that got in between them in the first place.

He places a soft kiss to the top of her head and she smiles.

It's the best kiss she's had in years.

When you think Tim McGraw
I hope you think my favorite song
Someday you'll turn your radio on
I hope it takes you back to that place

"What are we doing here?" she asks as they pull onto the dirt road. Lucas looks at her and winks before putting the car in park and getting out. She laughs as he does this and shakes her head.

It's been about a year since that day at the Rivercourt and since then Lucas and Peyton have reconnected one hundred percent. They finish each other's sentences and they know what the other is thinking. It's like they were never apart. They're friends again.

Okay so they're a little more than just friends.

They kiss and hold hands and they love each other. It's all known and none of that is hidden or kept a secret, they just don't go around flaunting it. It's been a rough road for the two of them and they don't want to screw it up. It means too much to them.

They call each other their boyfriend and girlfriend and they smile when they do so. They've been an official couple for a few months now and neither can remember being this happy in years. It's cute to see them so lost in each other and it makes their friends think back to simpler times. Though, those times weren't all that simple.

He takes her hand and they walk to that spot near the river that they danced near all those years ago and they both wonder if there will ever be a time when they don't have something that's connected to them and their past. They don't really mind; it's why they love this place so much, it's their history.

"Are you ever going to tell me what we're doing here?" she teases him as they embrace. Lucas kisses the tip of her nose and then nuzzles his own against it.

"I just wanted to get away from it all for a while", Peyton lets out a noise of appreciation. Things have been hectic. Nathan's kicking ass at Duke and Haley's trying to record an album. Jamie is a year old and an absolute terror, but it's always said with love. Lucas recent published a book about the trials and tribulations of finding, losing, and reconnecting with a once in a lifetime love.

"You know what I think? –"

"What do you think, Peyton Elizabeth?" he whispers softly. She smiles up at him and kisses him quickly.

"I think I love it when you call me that", she murmurs against his lips. He wiggles his eyebrows and she laughs. "I think we're pretty lucky."

"Yeah?" she nods her head and he nods also. "I'd have to agree with you on that, baby girl", she rests her head on his chest and she listens to the rapid beat of his heart.

"I love you", she whispers honestly and meaningfully. He smiles and tells her that he loves her too. He sings her a few lines from their favorite song and doesn't stop until she begs him to. And then he does something he's wanted to do since he was eighteen.

He proposes.

He gives her a wonderful speech that she doesn't even need. It's about love and happiness and family and the fact that he wants all those things – he has all those things with her. There's never been a person who was more right or perfect for him. And she does something she's thought about since she was fifteen.

She says yes.

When you think happiness
I hope you think that little black dress
Think of my head on your chest
And my old faded blue jeans
When you think Tim McGraw
I hope you think of me

Oh, think of me
Mmmm

They have a long engagement, around a year and a half. Karen was still halfway around the world and Peyton's father had a few jobs that he'd already signed contracts for, plus Lucas and Peyton adjusting to things in their lives.

For starters, they moved in together. Peyton was staying in the house she grew up in, which sold quickly after she told her father she was moving in with her fiancé. Unpacking and getting use to living with another person took them a while. Then they had meetings with all the planners and coordinators and the priest.

And Peyton still had school while Lucas was trying to write another book.

It was hectic, but they made it. Peyton wore a beautiful, strapless gown and Lucas looked handsome in his sleek, black tux. Larry walked Peyton down the aisle and they said their handwritten vows in a beautiful Church. Haley was her matron of honor and Nathan was his best man; Jamie served as the ring bearer.

They listened as the most important people gave speeches about their love and their relationship (the best points and the worst). Peyton danced with her father and Lucas danced with his mother and before they took to the floor for their own dance, they thanked everyone for coming and for supporting them. Peyton got teary eyed and Lucas put his arms around her as she continued to speak.

Mouth makes an announcement that they need to take to the dance floor and then he plays a familiar song. Lucas and Peyton share a look and when he offers his hand she laughs before taking it.

"I can't think of this song without thinking of you", Peyton whispers as they sway together. Lucas looks down at her and nods. She knows about that night he had in Rodeo Bar and she knows that was the reason he finally texted her.

"I can't think of anything without thinking of you", he whispers in that tone that causes her to shiver. She squeezes his hand and sucks in a breath.

"Charmer", she mumbles playfully.

Their eyes meet and she swears she can see the happiness he has in them. Her free hand cups his cheek and he immediately leans into her touch. He smirks softly, if she thinks he was charming before she doesn't know what she's in store for.

"You have the most amazing eyes, you know that?" he says softly as they dance to that old Tim McGraw song. Peyton giggles and wraps her arms around him; their eyes stay locked.

"I bet you say that to all the girls", she says much like she did that day so many years ago.

He tosses his head back in laughter and pulls her a little closer to him. She nuzzles into his chest and he places a kiss to the top of her head. He's lucky, incredibly and undeniably lucky.

"Nope, just the one's I'm married to", he says and then winks.

And she feels like her heart is exploding all over again.

He said the way my blue eyes shine
Put those Georgia stars to shame that night
I said: "That's a lie"


Let me know what you think!