A/N: Hi my loves! I believe it has come to that point in time in the fan fiction world where the story has to end. I really want to thank all of you who have been supporting me through out this whole writing process. Writing this story for all of you has been so delightful, and fun because you all have given me so much motivation and inspiration that I wish I had for many of my past stories. I'm going to miss writing for these characters. They aren't the usual Haley, Nathan, Jake, Brooke, Lucas, and Dan we usually see on T.V. I made a completely different version of them. They are charismatic, joyful, infectious, witty and funny. I actually wrote a story with a good plot and good lesson for everyone to learn. The price of hard work and independence. This story will remain close to my heart. I don't think I've ever been so happy with the result of writing a story as much as this one. And I am so glad that you all have grown to love it. I'm very very blessed to have all of you as my readers. I hope to write a new story that reaches the same level as this one soon.
I will list all of my readers that I want to thank at the end of this chapter. So I hope you really really really enjoy this chapter! :)
p.s. I also want to state that I corrected my mistake about the whole 18 and 21 ages about the car. I think I was trying to think of a correct one for Haley. But to those who are confused, she received her car when she was 18 and moved out when she was 21. I fixed it.
Now enjoy the last chapter.
Bad beginnings always make happy endings
Now I know you I begin to understand things
Turn around a hundred-eighty degrees
I found my missing piece
Chapter 17 "Lie 17 The Last Lie"
The next morning, Nathan felt something roll over against him. Something soft and heavy was on top of his chest. Then he felt something warm blowing against his neck. When he opened his eyes, he noticed the brightness of the sun beaming out from his window. And he moved his eyes at the sleeping creature right next to him. He smiled happily at the sight of Haley and reached over to caress her cheek.
He could remember last night pretty clearly. First they started out playing around and bickering with each other and then the next thing they were making out and removing each other's clothes. They both were obviously sexually frustrated. They couldn't hold it in any longer.
He continued to smile and pushed away the pieces of hair from her eyes. She looked incredibly beautiful sleeping right next to him like that. It was what he wanted to do every single morning – waking up to a beautiful woman sleeping soundly beside him.
As she slept, he began admiring all of her features. He traced his finger over her eyes, brushing her eye lashes. Then he drew an imaginary path from her eyes to her adorable nose. She wrinkled her face from the soft tickle from his finger. He lightly chuckled from her expression and moved his finger down to her lips. They were full and kissable. He was going to miss giving her sweet kisses every day. He could literally feel his heart racing just observing her gorgeous features.
He sighed and cupped the back of her head so he could kiss her on the forehead. He grinned then looked at her shoulder, leaned in to kiss her soft skin then held her hand close to his heart and continued observing her sleeping figure. He couldn't have been any happier than in this moment.
Since Haley was sound asleep - comfortably lying on the bed - Nathan thought about setting up breakfast for her before she woke up. So he lightly unpinned her arm from his chest, looked down and noticed that her leg was wrapped around his leg. She wasn't shy about keeping him close to her. He laughed and gently removed her leg off him so he didn't wake her up. Once he was free, he rolled off the bed. But he lost his balance and fell right on his knee.
"Ugh!" he groaned, holding his leg as he stood up. Then he heard the sound of rustling sheets and quickly looked up to see Haley moving around against the pillow. He swallowed the lump in his throat quietly and stepped into a pair of boxers shorts. As he was doing that, he noticed her moving again. So he hurried towards the door to leave before she could see him. But then he slipped on something on the floor. He groaned by the abrupt fall again and picked whatever it was that he slipped on. When he picked it up, he noticed that it was Haley's bra.
Haley sluggishly woke up, the sun burning her eyes as she tried to open them and turned to Nathan who was on the floor next to the clothes they tore off each other last night. Her eyes furrowed and pushed the sheets up to her chest so she wasn't exposed.
"What are you doing, Nathan?" she grumbled, rubbing her eyes.
Nathan glanced at her and stood up, throwing her bra back down so he didn't look like a big perv. "I was about to head down to make breakfast," he answered all flustered. "Did you sleep well?"
Haley lay back down on the bed and nodded with a smile.
"Good, good," he replied, folding his arms across his chest to keep himself from looking uneasy. Even if they were rolling around in the sheets last night, completely naked, they were too shy to be fully comfortable with each other's nudity. It was kind of adorable to both of them. "Should I start some coffee?" he questioned.
Instead of speaking, she nodded again and looked around the floor for her clothes. Then she spotted her bra right next to his feet. Her eyes widened and sat up with the covers wrapped tightly around her. He looked at her curiously as she clumsily climbed off the bed. Then she started crawling on the floor to grab her clothes especially her bra by his feet. His eye brow lifted in amusement and he laughed at her bashfulness.
"Don't look at me!" she whined, crawling back to the bed.
He chuckled. "I'll look at you as long as I want," he grinned.
"Go make coffee," she ordered.
"Alright, let me fix this place up first," he replied, leaning down to pick up his clothes from the floor. Then he came closer to her. "How did this get here?" he questioned as he bent down behind Haley and picked her up.
"Nathan!" she cried out. He laughed as he lifted her up in his arms and gently placed her back on the bed where she trying to get to in the first place.
Moments later, after Nathan and Haley changed into more clean and comfortable clothes, they both sat outside by the pool with coffee mugs in their hands. They watched the sun gleam above the horizon and soaked in the fresh morning air. Haley sat with her legs up close to chest and sipped the coffee from her cup. Nathan glanced at her from his chair and continued admiring her again. Even if she was just wearing one of his large t-shirts and her softy shorts, she still looked amazingly beautiful.
"Promise you'll stay out of danger while I'm in Europe," he advised, sipping from his mug. "Because I won't be able run over to you to heal your wounds or push you out of busy roads, you know."
She smiled. "I'll try to stay out of harm."
"Promise me you will," he repeated.
With the cup near her lips, she glanced at him and whispered, "I promise." He accepted her answer and watched as she reached over to break a piece of the cinnamon roll from the plate. She stuffed it in her mouth and chewed it quickly.
He grinned and said, "Don't eat so much in New York either. Even if it looks edible to my swindler's eyes, don't eat it. Make sure it's not poisoned. You might get sick."
"You make me sound like a dog that eats anything in plain sight."
"Because you basically do."
First she playfully glared at him but then thought about it and realize he was right. She nodded in agreement and put another piece of cinnamon roll into her mouth. "Remember to call me every day. I want to keep your voice in my memory," she advised.
"I thought my voice was annoying to you?"
"That was before," she replied. "I'm going to miss hearing it so much while you're away."
He smiled as he traced his finger on the rim of his mug. Then suddenly he was struck with a wave of sadness just thinking about them being apart. "If people ask you if you have a boyfriend, tell them ye,"she advised. "Or just don't make any friends at all, that'll be better."
She laughed. "Do you not know me at all?" she questioned.
He groaned at the fact that Haley had a friendly personality. Curse her quality for being so likable. "Just say you have a boyfriend," he groaned.
Haley smiled at Nathan's pouty face and placed her cup down on the table in between them. Then she climbed off her chair and walked up to him. She grabbed his arm, placing it on her waist and sat on his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck.
"Don't work too hard in Europe," she advised. "If you feel tired, go home and rest. Drink some water," she advised, playing with the lining of his hair.
Nathan stared at her gently, and cupped her face in between his hands to kiss her lightly on the lips. "If you feel sad or anything, I want you to call me. If you don't, I'll be mad at you."
She grinned at him, loving how protective he was of her. She sighed deeply, missing him already. Then she held his face in her hands and said, "Let me take a good look at my sexy boyfriend," she smiled. She smoothed her hand over his furrowed eyes. "These eyes, this nose, these lips. They are all mine." She caressed his cheeks and kissed every feature on his face.
Nathan tried to fight away the sad emotions that were overwhelming him, but at the same time he thought about how lucky he was to have someone like her in his life. Maybe feeling sad wasn't so bad. It was a happy sad. He gently removed her hands from his face. He didn't like these types of conversations. They made him incredibly sad. He didn't want to act like they were never going to see each other again.
"Stop it. You're not leaving yet," he stated, wrapping his arms tightly around her waist.
"Then we should spend the remaining time we have here together," she suggested, leaning against his shoulder.
"Okay," he agreed. "A date every day."
"Sounds perfect," she smiled and lightly kissed him on the neck.
There was one more week left until Nathan had to leave for Europe. And every single day, they've been trying to enjoy each other's company as much as possible. Sometimes they wouldn't even focus on anything else except each other. There wasn't enough time to spare, so they took advantage of it.
As they held hands along the sidewalks of the city, Nathan noticed a jewelry store at the corner of the block. He held up her left hand and imagined a ring placed on it. He rubbed her ring finger gently and smiled.
"What? Is there something on it?" she asked, realizing that he was staring at her finger with a way too happy expression.
He placed her hand back down and glanced at the store then at the ice cream shop right next to it.
"Go get us some ice cream, "he ordered, dragging her down the sidewalk.
"What?" she questioned, bumping into people as they walked. "But I don't want ice cream right now."
"Well I want some," he replied, guiding her to the shop.
"Okay," she replied slowly as they finally stopped in front of the store. He pushed her towards the entrance and she looked at him strangely as she tried to step back down. "Aren't you coming?"
"I want you to pick something out for me," he answered curtly. "Take as long as you want. I have to make a quick call," he added, pulling out his phone to show her.
She glanced at his cell and nodded. "Any kind?" she asked.
He nodded. "Just make sure it doesn't have any peanuts," he stated.
"Okay, I'll be back then," she answered and entered the ice cream store. Once she was inside, she realized that the line was pretty long. She groaned and glanced outside the window to see what Nathan was doing. When she did, he was already walking away. Her eyes furrowed and leaned against the window to find him, but he was lost in the crowd. She sighed, turned back around and stood in the long line.
Nathan immediately made his way inside the jewelry store to browse around. He was amazed by all the expensive jewelry that ranged form charmed necklaces, gold bracelets, and silver earrings to diamond rings. Everything was practically shining and twinkling at him every way he turned.
He approached the display cabinet filled with rings and observed all the different styles and bands.
"Can I help you?" the jeweler asked from behind the display desk.
Nathan looked up and nodded. "Yeah, I wanted to pick something out for a special someone."
It took a while for Haley to get Nathan his ice cream. The lady in front of her kept changing her mind about what she wanted and used up about five different flavored cones. She went from strawberry swirl ice cream in a sprinkled cone with gummy bears on top to a simple vanilla ice cream on an original cone with no topping. It made Haley a bit irritated. She wanted to pull the woman's weave out. But she calmed down as soon as the lady was satisfied with her order
Once she paid for Nathan's ice cream, she walked out and found Nathan standing outside, waiting for her.
"How was the call?" she asked as she handed him the cone.
"It was good," he lied as he started licking the ice cream.
They continued to walk along the streets for a while until they ended up at the park. His ice cream was melting so he threw it in the trash and held her hand tightly in his. As they continued to walk, Nathan kept glancing at her, trying to find the right moment to do what he had to do.
She looked up at the Regalien hotel close by and smiled at the memories that they had inside. Then she glanced at the parking space she was stuck in and rolled her eyes at her idiotic ways.
"I need to give you something," she heard Nathan say. So she looked away from the hotel and glanced at him with a smile.
"Okay," she said lightly.
"Close your eyes and I'll hand it to you," he advised.
She tilted her head at him and gazed at him curiously. "Will it hurt me?" she questioned.
He chuckled and shook his head. "No, I promise it won't."
"Okay then," she said as she closed her eyes.
"Don't peek," he ordered as he lifted her hand up from her side. "It will ruin the surprise if you peek," he added.
"You need to start trusting me," she mumbled with her eyes still tightly sealed.
He pulled out the jewel from his pocket and gently placed it in her palm and said, "I will eventually." And he closed her hand for her.
She groaned at his answer and said, "How many times do I have to apologize for what I did? I'm sorry!" she complained.
He laughed at her. "You can look now," he grinned.
Haley opened her eyes and looked at her hand to reveal the ring that he placed inside. She could literally feel her heart trying to bust through her chest as she continued to stare at it. "This is so beautiful," she whispered.
"Try it on," he advised.
He smirked. "I said to try it on."
She noticed the seriousness in his expression and glanced back down at the ring in her hand. "I can't wear this Nathan," she said as she tried to remove it, but Nathan grabbed her hand before she could.
"Why not? I bought it for you," he stated. He took the ring and then slowly placed it on her finger.
Her eyes widened at the shiny object in her hand. He smiled at her startled expression and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear.
"I want you to keep this on while we're apart," he stated. "We might not be able to get married now but I hope to marry you some day," he confessed. Haley was so stunned that she couldn't speak. All she could do was create a few tears that flooded the rim of her eyes. He heart was going crazy during this moment and she couldn't control it. "You don't have to think of it as an engagement ring. Just wear it so people know that you're taken. And maybe if we're still in love by the time I return, we could officially announce it to the world," he explained, moving her hand up to his lips and kissed it lightly. "So will you accept it?"
It took Haley a second to answer. She wasn't expecting anything like this to happen any time soon. But since she was completely infatuated with the man who was standing right in front of her, she couldn't reject it. So she shyly nodded her head.
Nathan smiled in relief and pulled her into a tight hug. He was so happy that she accepted the ring even if it meant they had to wait two years or more to officially announce anything. As they continued to hug, they heard clapping noises beside them. They both grew curious and turned to the side only to find a couple of people staring at them happily.
"That was beautiful!" an old woman cried, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.
Nathan and Haley glanced at each other and chuckled to themselves.
They spent the remainder of their time falling more and more in love with each other. It was hard for both of them to lie in each other's arms every night, knowing that they wouldn't be able to do that for two whole years. No matter how many minutes of every hour of every day that they spent with each other, it just wasn't enough. They felt as if they needed more time, just a little bit more time. But unfortunately, life wasn't generous enough to do that.
Nathan sighed as he gathered all of his belongings from his office into a box. He didn't expect this day to come so soon, he was just starting to get used to living with Haley as his girlfriend. There was too much to do and so many memories to make. And it saddened him to think about what could change in the next two years while they were apart.
Would Haley become jaded because of the environment she'd be living in? Or will their love fade because of the time and distance?
He groaned at the thought and picked up the photo of his family from the front of his desk. It was of his mother, father, and himself at his high school graduation. He smiled at the perfect family photo and realized that his father was coming back home some time his week. He wasn't quite sure how life in Charlotte was going to be like now that his parents were going through marital complications. But he was still hopeful that things would be better between them. Two years was a lot of time to become the couple they used to be. It just takes a lot of time and patience.
He finished packing the rest of his things when Emily opened the door. He looked up and smiled at his assistant. Because of her latest engagement, she wasn't going with him to Europe. He understood her reasons because her wedding was in a couple of months and it would be a shame to move off to another country in the middle of their engagement.
"I just wanted to wish you luck in Europe," she stated.
"Thanks, Em," he replied, closing the top of the cardboard box. "And I want to wish you many years of marital bliss. I'm sorry that I won't be able to make it to your wedding," he added.
"Oh no, it's fine," she began. "You have other obligations to focus on."
"Yeah, but I'll be back sooner than you think," he replied. "My dad will take my place for the mean time. Hopefully that won't be too much of a hassle for you."
"Oh, I've worked for your father before, remember? It'll be smooth sailing," she said. He nodded, pleased by her response. He sealed the box full of his belongings and turned to Emily with a relieved smile.
Emily had been so patient and supportive of him for many years. Unlike Nathan and Haley in the beginning, he and Emily had a very professional relationship. They remained friendly and focused on work. Emily was kind of like an older sister to him – someone he could rely on when things got complicated in his life. She was part of his support system.
Before he and Emily left the office, he made sure that he didn't leave anything behind. Once he realized that everything was already packed, they exchanged goodbyes and blessings for the near future.
Haley sat on his bed with her legs crossed as she waited for Nathan to return from the hotel. She wanted to stay calm for him so that their farewell wouldn't be so hard to do. Even if she was hurting inside, she didn't want to be over-emotional when he left. She was very emotional when she exchanged goodbyes with everyone yesterday though. It was hard saying goodbye to her best friends and Nathan's family. She couldn't imagine what it would be like to say goodbye to Nathan.
She glanced at his now empty closet with one swinging hanger on it, and then moved her eyes over to the aquarium where the black and white clown fish she gave him swam. "We're going to miss you, Dick," she mumbled, sadly gazing at the tank.
She sighed deeply and lay back against this bed. She could feel the tears forcing their way out from her tear ducts, but she fought them away. She definitely didn't want to cry because of this.
Two years wasn't that long, she thought. It's not that long. Two years is like two minutes if I stay focused on work. Two minutes . ... Two years. Just two years.
She groaned and quickly sat up when she heard the door open. Her heart began to race the minute she knew it was Nathan. She swallowed the lump in her throat and picked up one of his suitcases that he left behind and headed downstairs.
"You ready to drive me to the airport?" he asked the second he saw Haley with his suitcase.
She bit down gently on her lip to keep herself from crying and nodded. He could tell that Haley was trying her hardest to stop the tears. It made his heart ache just looking at how sad she was standing there at the bottom of the stair case. If he could, he'd stay here with her. But he knew that Haley wouldn't let him.
Haley silently packed his luggage into the trunk and climbed into the car, afraid that if she spoke she'd burst into tears. So the drive to the airport wasn't as verbal and cheerful as it usually was. There just weren't any words that could be spoken at this time. A casual conversation wouldn't fit the circumstance.
Nathan glanced away from his side of the car and observed Haley's blank expression as she drove. She was trying not to think of anything in order to keep herself from being emotional. Then he moved his eyes to her hand that was placed on the stick shift and gently placed his hand on top of hers for comfort. Haley blinked a few times at the sudden electric shock from his touch and bit her lip to keep the tears from pouring out.
The minute they stepped inside the airport, Haley struggled with her emotions. She held his hand as they carried his things towards check in. He could feel her trembling beside him and grew curious. So he glanced at her and noticed her saddened expression. She was trying so hard to fight away the tears but obviously it wasn't working out.
He pulled her hand up to his lips and kissed the top of it. Then she stopped walking..
"I don't want go any further," she stated. "I might stop you from boarding the plane."
"Okay, then we'll say goodbye right here," he replied, turning towards her with his luggage in hand.
She cringed at the sound of 'goodbye' and swallowed the lump in her throat. "Call me when you get there okay?" she advised, avoiding his eyes. "I don't know what your phone number is over there so you better call me."
He smiled. "I will," he said.
Haley bit her lip and gazed at her shoes to hide away her tears. Her eyes blurred and a single drop from her tear duct fell on top of her shoe. She quickly wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and tried to find some composure.
"So I guess I'll see you later," she mumbled, struggling to look him in the eye. "Take care of yourself, okay?" she advised shakily.
Nathan's chest tightened at the way Haley was looking at him. He never thought he'd see her cry like this. It was too painful to watch, but he had to be strong for both of them. So he fought away his own emotions and held her close in a tight embrace.
He planted a kiss on top of her head and said, "Be safe in New York."
"Okay," she whispered against his chest. Tears continued to flow down her cheeks as she held him close to her. But she couldn't stay there for long. Her emotions were starting to overwhelm her so she quickly pulled away from his embrace and wiped her tears. "You should get going. You don't want to be late for your flight," she stated, covering her eyes with her hands.
He sighed deeply and gazed at his woman admirably. He could hear her sobbing silently into her hands, making his heart ache like crazy. Slowly, he pulled her hands away from her face and held them tightly in his.
"I love you," he muttered, finally seeing her completely.
At the sound of her words, her lips continued to quiver uncontrollably and she looked away from him to hide her face. Haley didn't have enough energy or enough strength to say it back. It was too hard to handle.
"I love you," he repeated, realizing that she didn't say it in return. Without knowing it, his eyes began to water.
"I love –"she quickly touched her lips to keep it from trembling and continued. "I love you too," she finally said.
He wiped his eyes a little bit and cupped her face so he could leave one last meaningful kiss on her lips. Then he quickly turned away to leave without even taking one more glance at her. He was afraid that if he did, he'd never be able to step onto the plane. So he resisted and walked out with the image of her beauty in his mind.
Haley stood there, struggling to regulate her breaths and watched him disappear through the entrance. Then she placed her hand against her chest to feel the throbbing of her heart. It almost felt as if it was ready to explode but she gathered enough strength to slow its pace. Then she turned away and headed back to the house to prepare for her own departure.
As Haley was stuffing her suitcases into her trunk, she saw a familiar vehicle drive up to the house. She blocked her eyes from the sun to see who it was and smiled. Roger was sitting happily in the driver's seat when he waved. Haley waved back and saw Jake climb out from the back seat.
"I was afraid that you left already," he stated walking up to her. "I'm right on time."
Haley smiled shyly and shut her trunk. He glanced at her with his hands shoved into pockets and observed her swollen eyes.
"Did you say goodbye to Nathan?" she questioned.
"We exchanged farewells yesterday," he replied.
Haley nodded and wiped the remainder of her tears from her eyes. "That's good. You don't want to miss saying goodbye to him."
"Two years won't be long, you know. I went to Europe for a couple of years and before I knew it, I was heading back home," he said.
"Yeah. Good thing I'm going to New York to distract myself," she responded. "Oh," she snapped, suddenly remembering something. She pulled an object out of her pocket and handed him a silver key. "Here's the key to the house," she smiled. "I'm glad that we decided to let you have it for a while. It was yours in the first place."
He glanced at the key in his palm and closed it tightly. "It doesn't belong to me, it's yours. I just designed it."
"Same thing. You created this masterpiece," she complimented.
He gazed at the shiny object in his palm and closed his hand. "I'll be sure to keep it safe until the both of you return."
"Thank you, Jake," she smiled, stepping forward to hug him tightly to her. Jake almost felt his heart skip a beat at the warmth of her embrace. Even if they couldn't be more than friends, he was happy that he still had her friendship. "You've been so kind to me ever since I came into town. I'm so glad I met you," she mumbled against his shoulder.
"I'm glad you caused so much chaos," he joked as they parted. Haley playfully glared at him and pointed at him daringly with her index finger. But then she leaned over to give him a kiss on the cheek to thank him completely for all the things he did for her.
She could remember the very first moment she met him. It was at the park. She was admiring the stars above her, praying to her mother when a thief snatched her purse. And Jake was there to get it back for her. Without him, she would've lost a lot. He even gave her fresh clothes to wear, a shower to clean off with, food to fill her stomach, and a friend that she could talk to while stuck in the city. Even if she didn't harbor strong feelings for him, she was thankful for being able to meet someone as angelic as Jake Jagielski. He was like her very own guardian angel.
Then they pulled apart from their embrace and exchanged goodbyes. She climbed into her convertible and glanced at the house and Jake one last time before she headed off for New York City.
TWO YEARS LATER.
FLASH! FLASH! FLASH!
The photographer stopped shooting when she noticed something different about her model's face.
"Her make up is melting," Haley stated, pointing to her eye to show everyone where the problem was. The make up artist hurried over to the red headed model and fixed the smudged make up and then quickly jumped out of the way.
"Thank you, Mary!" Haley smiled as she pulled the camera back up to her eye and focused her attention to the familiar actress in front of her. "Toss your hair a little bit over your shoulder!" Haley ordered as she turned the camera at a different angle. "GOOD! PERFECT!"
Rachel smiled at the sound of her voice. Ever since she met Haley a couple of months ago while walking the streets of New York, they became pretty close. Even if they hardly knew each other in Charlotte, they acknowledged each other as if they were long lost friends. Despite everything that happened in North Carolina, they were able to talk to each other at a personal level. Nathan and Jake were two very important people in their lives and it helped them form an incredible friendship. They had more in common than they thought. Haley never hated Rachel for what she did. She knew that it was coming some day, it was her bad karma. And Rachel didn't really hate Haley either. She was just upset and insecure about her situation with Nathan that she didn't give her a chance. But they became very close friends over time.
"Isn't Nathan arriving today?" Rachel asked as she did a different pose.
Haley's heart began to race at the very thought of his arrival. She's been anticipating this day for months and it was finally here.
"Yeah, I'm jumping on a plane right after this photo shoot," she answered, taking shot after shot. "He'll be arriving pretty soon and I want to be there before he arrives."
"Well, don't rush me," Rachel retorted. "This is very important to me. Nylon, Haley Nylon."
"I know, I know," Haley replied, taking shot after shot.
"He's going to be proud of you, you know," Rachel stated as she pushed her hair up on top of her head. "You've come so far."
"I guess so." Haley shrugged modestly and continued taking picture after picture.
She's been working hard - day and night- since she arrived to New York. Her father wasn't kidding when he offered her the job. She didn't have a lot of privileges - which he promised he wouldn't give her- and he she was glad that he fulfilled her requests. Haley liked working hard and climbing up to the top on her own without any boost. If life were easy, she wouldn't have met Nathan or Jake or even became friends with Rachel. To find success, you must struggle, take wrong paths, stumble on your feet and make mistakes. Without those, what's the point of success if you can't learn anything from the negatives?
Haley's done a few venues, worked in dark rooms, learned tips and skills from various photographers, and did a bunch of slave work since she first started out. It wasn't easy but she was used to it. It gave her something to accomplish in the end. And once her father found out that her photography had improved, he gave her the chance to take photos of anything and anyone for her very own show case. It put a little pressure on her side because she wanted to create something unique and inspiring in her photos. She wanted to impress her father and the public because If the showcase was a success, magazines and celebrities would come to her for photo shoots.
And they did. She made a breakthrough at her first showcase and she never thought she could be so lucky.
It had only been a couple of months since her showcase, but people were beginning to recommend her work for up-coming artists and magazines. She's only done one full celebrity photo shoot with a new tween idol. It was awkward at first because she wasn't used to doing a job where people had high expectations. But luckily, Haley's infectious personality and friendliness made the photo shoot a success. Soon after, she got another request from a very famous magazine. Nylon wanted to do an edgy yet cheerful photo shoot of Rachel Gatina for their cover. And the perfect person for the job was Haley James– a new, inspiring, talented photographer on the rim of success in the fashion business.
All these new developments in her career were a blessing. She didn't think it was possible to be so lucky especially when she had a habit of getting into unlucky situations. But even so, she definitely didn't hide it from Nathan. After the success of her show case, she called him. After the request from Nylon, she called him. And she called him when she was sick, when she was tired, when she was stressed, when she was sad, when she missed him and when she thought about him. No matter how far they were from each other, they still remained by each other's side. As Nathan promised, he supported her in her journey like a personal good luck charm.
Entering Charlotte was probably the best feeling he's ever had in two years. No matter how many adventures and experiences he had in Europe, it was nothing compared to Charlotte. It was where he belonged, where his family lived and where he met his soul mate. There wasn't any other place that could replace the love he had for this city.
As he entered his parent's neighborhood, he pulled out his phone to give his mother a call. He told the taxi driver to turn the corner and park on the curb of their driveway.
"Hello?" Deb answered.
He smiled at the sound of his mother's voice. "I like extra cheese on my lasagna. So you better have some ready by the time I come home," he stated as he looked out his window.
"Nathan?" she questioned. Both Dan and his grandmother quickly turned to Deb when they heard Nathan's name.
"Hey mom," he greeted.
"Do you need anyone to pick you up from the airport?" she questioned.
He chuckled as he paid the taxi driver and climbed out of the car with his luggage. "Actually, I just need someone to open the front door," he answered, walking up the steps of his parent's house.
Deb's eyes widened and quickly hung up the phone to run towards the front of the house. Dan and his mom both looked at Deb strangely and observed her as she swung the door open – revealing none other than Nathan.
"NATHAN!" Deb exclaimed, stepping over to hug her son dearly.
Quickly, the rest of his family met up with them at the foyer to see what all the commotion was about and they all smiled at the sight of the handsome, hard working man at the doorway.
Nathan looked up and noticed that his father was there, standing in the house where his mother slept. He nodded at the man of the house and hugged him gratefully. He was happy to see that things were finally resolved between his parents. Two years was enough time to reconcile just as he thought. After having many phone calls throughout his trip in Europe, he knew that his father had changed his ways. He spent less time working in the office and more time with his wife and mother. And Nathan was very thankful to see that his parents didn't have to divorce after all.
"You've lost some weight, Nate," his grandmother stated as he hugged her to his side. She placed her hand on his stomach then on his arms and said, "I think we should put some food inside of you."
Nathan chuckled. "I was planning on going to go out to eat with Haley later. With the way she eats, I'm pretty sure I'll gain all my weight back," he joked. "Do you know if she arrived yet?"
They all looked at each other and shook their heads. "No, not yet, honey."
He nodded, feeling a bit disappointed that she wasn't already here to greet him. "I see," he said.
"She didn't know that you were coming early, so she might've chosen a later flight," Deb stated. "But I'm sure she'll be here soon."
"Yeah," he replied. "I'll just call her up and tell her I'm already here," he added pulling out his cell phone and dialed her number.
"We'll be in the living room waiting for you. We have a lot to catch up on," his grandmother informed.
"Alright, I'll be right there," he smiled as the rest of his family disappeared from his sight.
He held his phone up to his ear and waited impatiently for Haley to answer. It already rang about four times and she still wasn't picking up. He grew curious because Haley usually answered after the second ring. So he stayed on the phone, hoping that she'd answer, but still no Haley. It went directly to her voice mail.
"Hey, hey! You've reached Haley. I guess this is where you leave a message . . . So leave one." Beep!
"Hey, baby. It's me Nathan. I don't know if you're too busy to answer the phone or if you're purposely ignoring my phone call but I just wanted to let you know that I'm already in town. And you're not here. So call me back as soon as possible."
"Look, Marls, this will be your room once they finish building it," Brooke stated as she stood in the middle of an empty room with Marley standing next to her. Marley had grown so big in the last two years. It all happened in the blink of an eye. It was crazy how fast children grew up. Brooke was kind of afraid to see her get older. She wanted Marley to stay a baby forever.
"Two more weeks, guys, and you're house will be complete," Jake stated as he walked into the room with Lucas right beside him.
"I'm glad Haley recommended you to design our first house," Lucas stated as he glanced at the sketch Jake was holding.
"I know!" Brook exclaimed. "I've always admired the design of Nathan's house. I'm so thrilled to finally have one of our own."
Jake smiled, pleased by their compliments. "It's my pleasure. I'm just glad that you all enjoy the design. But it's not all completely my work. You inputted your ideas in here too, so you should be proud of yourselves."
"Good thing, we won the lottery or we wouldn't be able to afford this place," Brooke stated, gazing at the tall ceilings and arched windows.
About a month ago, Lucas decided to buy a lottery ticket out of whim and ended up winning half a million dollars. Who knew the only time they entered a lottery game, they'd win the prize. It seemed like it was something that would only happen in a movie. They were just lucky enough to get the right ticket.
As Jake and Lucas continued discussing the design of the house, Brooke felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. So she quickly pulled it out and noticed that it was Haley. She smiled and answered it.
"Hey hoe," she greeted.
"Guess where I am right now?" Haley replied.
"You're in my house!" Brooke squealed.
Haley rolled her eyes on the other line. "I'm in Charlotte. I just arrived, silly!"
"Oh my gosh!" Brooke gasped. Jake and Lucas turned to her curiously. "Haley's home!" she told them.
Both of the men smiled at the news. They've been anticipating this moment for so long. Jake's career in architecture sky rocketed over the years. He's become one of the top names in his agency. He's already created about ten house designs. Brooke and Lucas's house being one of them. After gaining tons of success and inspiring reviews from around the city and state, he was able to meet a woman with similar qualities. Her name was Peyton Sawyer - a girl with amazing drawing skills and a strong willed personality. She was independent and smart like the girl he had fallen for two years ago. Even if she wasn't Haley, she was pretty close and almost perfect for him. Jake was living a good life and he couldn't be happier.
"And speaking of your house, how's that going? Is it done?" Haley questioned.
"We have two more weeks left until we can finally move in!"
"Good thing I have talented friends like Jake, right? I still can't believe you won the lottery. That's crazy," Haley muttered.
"I know. It's weird. I still can't really grasp the thought that we won half a million dollars," Brooke replied as she twirled Marley around with her finger. "At least we'll be closer to each other. No more four hour drives back and forth."
"We abandoned Tree Hill," Haley moped as she sat in the back seat of a taxi.
"No we didn't. We can always come back there to visit. We just found somewhere better to live."
"I guess," she replied as she glanced outside the window and observed the bustling streets of Charlotte.
"Since you're here, should we set up a welcome home dinner?" Brooke questioned.
"Yeah, as soon as I meet up with Nathan. He's back too," Haley replied, glancing out the window only to find Nathan walking into a coffee shop. "I just found him. I'll call you back later." She hung up quickly and ordered the taxi to stop.
She paid the driver, grabbed her things, and jogged after Nathan in the coffee shop. Once she entered the place, she started searching for the man she had been anticipating to see for two whole years. Carrying her luggage behind her, she found him sitting behind the wall that divided the counter and the tables. She smiled happily at the sight of him, and slowly walked closer.
It had been two hours since he called Haley and she still hadn't called back. And it made him worry about her whereabouts. Haley could tell that she upset him a little bit. She heard the message he left on her phone, but she didn't want to call him back. She wanted to surprise him. But seeing him mope around because of her was too cute.
Quietly, she poked him on the shoulder and asked, "Can I borrow money for gas?"
Confused, he turned around towards the familiar voice. His eyes widened at the sight of his beautiful girlfriend and watched as she made her way around him to sit on the other side of the table.
"If you can't do that, I'll make a deal with you," she offered with a smile. He kept staring at her in surprise, like he had never seen her before. His heart felt as if it was ready to explode from his chest. Haley glanced at the middle of the table noticed the pastries he bought. "I'm a pretty decent cleaner and I cook amazing pancakes," she stated, grabbing a piece. "So if you're interested, I'll do all of that for you if you pay me on the spot," she grinned.
Nathan still hadn't said a word. Seeing her sitting across from him made him speechless. It had been way too long. And she looked gorgeous as ever. Her hair was longer than usual with a tint of red and she looked slimmer than she used to be. But other than that, she was still the same Haley he knew two years ago.
Haley gazed at him and chewed on the piece of bread in her mouth. She tilted her head and said, "You don't have to pay me money. I'll work for food instead."
He chuckled and continued to admire her beauty."Like ice cream and mac&cheese?"
"Definitely those," she nodded.
"I have one condition, though," he said.
"And what is that, boss?"
"I don't hire liars. So if you have anything to hide, I can't hire you," he stated.
Haley rolled her eyes at him playfully and climbed off her chair to sit on his lap. Wrapping her arms around his neck tightly, she whispered. "Oh, how I missed you!" she squealed, ignoring what he said.
Nathan let out a deep sigh. This was what he was missing for two years. The warmth of her hugs, the sound of her voice, and her pretty smile. He embraced her tighter to him, happy to be in this position with her.
"You don't have to worry about me lying to you anymore," she stated, parting from him. "I tell the truth now," she smiled as she cupped his face in her hands so she could observe his handsome facial features. She smoothed away his worried eyes and smiled at it. "You haven't changed at all. My boyfriend's still very sexy." She leaned in to place many kisses all over his face from his eye lids, cheeks, nose, lips, to every available space she could kiss. "These are all mine."
He gently pulled her away from kissing his face and took a moment to admire her features as well. First he had a serious expression on but then once he started realizing that this was real – that Haley was actually there-he began to smile. He smoothed away the hair from her face and leaned in for their very first kiss in two years.
As they parted, Haley couldn't stop smiling. But Nathan quickly furrowed his eyes at her.
"Why didn't you call me back?" he questioned. "You made me worried."
She chuckled. "It was only for a few hours. I wanted to surprise you."
"Well I'm mad now cause you did it on purpose," he complained.
Haley lightly poked him on the forehead and glared at him playfully. "You should be happy that I actually came. But if you're going to continue acting like this, I'm going back to New York."
Nathan's eyes widened. "Are you threatening me?"
She smiled and gently traced her finger around his lips. "I don't think I could leave you again. Not even for a second," she replied.
Relieved, he grabbed a hold of her left hand and noticed that she still had the ring on. Just seeing it on her finger made his heart race like crazy. It was a symbol that showed everyone in the world that she was taken. That she was his and only his. Their love definitely didn't fade over the years and the ring showed that.
"Do you still love me?" he asked her as he played with the band on her finger. She glanced at what he was doing and then looked up his eyes.
"I don't know, "she replied. Nathan looked at her daringly. "There was this one male model that really caught my eye during this one photo shoot. My feelings have changed. And I -"
"Haley," he warned.
She laughed at his jealousy and said, "The answer should be pretty obvious."
He noticed her wiggling her left hand at him, the ring shining right in his face, and smiled. He quickly intertwined their hands together and kissed the top of it. "Then we should announce it to the whole world," he stated. She nodded as she watched him pull out his phone to call his mom. "Grandma is going to be so thrilled," he replied.
Before he could dial the number, Haley snatched it from his hand. "Hey!"
She started browsing through his phone book and noticed her number under a certain nickname. "Swindler? Why am I set as swindler?" she asked shocked.
Nathan quickly grabbed it and closed his phone. "I'm sure you have something far worse for my name in your phone too."
She shook her head. "No, it's just Nathan."
He glared at her playfully. "Liar," he stated.
She scoffed and hurriedly climbed off his lap. "I'm hurt," she stated dramatically. "How could I marry a man who can't even trust me?"
Nathan lifted his eyebrows when he noticed her leaving his side. "Hey, where do you think you're going?" he questioned chasing after her. "What did you put me as?"
"I'm not telling you," she replied as she made her way towards the door.
"Was it Jerk?"
She shrugged her shoulder as she walked out of the coffee shop. "I don't know. Maybe."
Nathan took a moment to think until he stopped in his tracks. "It's Dick, isn't it? You put me as Dick!" Haley tried to act serious, but she couldn't hold in the laughter. So she turned around and looked at him in amusement. Then she stepped forward to plant a kiss on his lips. "You're so cute when you're frustrated, Jerk Face," she smiled, holding his face in her hands before she turned around to walk ahead of him.
"So it's Jerk Face!" he called out, jogging after her.
Haley didn't say anything in response when he finally reached her side. Instead, he wrapped one arm around her shoulders while she had one arm around his waist. And they continued to walk together towards the Regalien Hotel.
What did you think? You like? :)
Thanks to everyone listed below.
Lou, pam211, keep the darkness, 23bNrAuLcEaYs, christina, naleyforevernalways23, dudette, twilightnaley19, othfan1919, mmjasamjaudia4eva, AshleyM15, tlovesnaley2, TeamPapaya, rosepetal16, BaFflEd'n'BefFudLed, Miguel51, Beautiful-Me89, KATE!, KTxx, naley98, mazzy, mirna23, 23OTHFan, Stacey, rosepetal16, goldenbabe, MagicalNaley23, Helen15,Rachel, nlca'sluckygirl, naley2323, Sophiaaaaa, Hadley, Gear's Girl, jenny, alwaysRiverCourt, Smile Please10, dangladesh, daisy31, be-u, currish, Intrigued, RICE20, GottaluvNaley, Angela, KLafferty6, Disuaka znjssiiskz, jeyton4ever, miessa, Fab4Lover,
and last but not least my love, Maria, who was the person who pre-read most of my chapter for me before I decided to post this story. At first, I wasn't quite sure how this story was going to turn out because it was completely AU and something a bit lighter than I usually write. I had about four or five chapters already written and I wanted to see how far I could go with the plot. And once I finally found the courage to post the story, I was awed by the reviews and compliments I received. That's when I knew that I had to continue this story and complete it!
After re-reading everyone's reviews, I realized how much of an impact it has brought to many of you. I made you laugh, smile, squeal, and cry. I wanted to write a story that was able to bring out those exact emotions and that's what I did with Pretty Little Liar. That's what I like most about writing stories. I don't write because I want to hear what you think or to count how many reviews I get. I don't care about that. I write because I want to give people something to enjoy, love, remember, and actually relate to. I don't want this story to end because it's been such a joy to write. I've grown to love the characters as well. And I've completed it in like two months! That must be a record right? GAWW. I'm so sad to be ending this story but I am very very happy to have been given this chance to make you all smile because of it. Thank you all again for the beautiful words and support. If it weren't for your analyzing, lengthy reviews, tears, bumps, compliments and motivation, I would've never gotten this far.
Thank you again! I hope to bring you another fantastic story soon. And yes, I will finish Steadfast and Underaged Love! :)
I love you all. I hope this story remains close to your heart as much it is to mine!