We Build Then We Break

Chapter 4 –

"Peyton!" Brooke sees Peyton slowly removing things from her locker at the end of the school day, ready to go home for the weekend.

Peyton doesn't even acknowledge her name being called.

"Peyton!" Brooke tries again, but gets nothing. Sighing, she walks over to her best friend and closes the locker.

"Hey!" Peyton cries out annoyed. "What the hell was that for?"

"Um, I don't know. Maybe you ignoring me?"

Peyton's gaze falls.

"P. Sawyer…" Brooke expresses calmly. "What is going on? You've been like avoiding me all week…"

It was true. When Brooke would walk down the hallway, Peyton would go in the opposite direction.

Peyton stands quietly and shrugs at Brooke.

She doesn't want to get into it. Not now, anyway.

Brooke lets out an exasperated sigh. "Is this about Julian?"

She and Julian had officially become a couple the past week. And, it appears since then, Peyton has been stand-offish.

The blonde slowly looks up to her friend.

"Maybe…" She mumbles slowly, slightly embarassed.

"Peyton, you are my best friend. Okay? Nothing…nobody…is going to change that."

Peyton nods and gets washed over with guilt. Brooke always treats her so well, it just sucks having to play a third wheel.

"I know." She admits. "I just don't like sharing my best friend is all."

"Well there's enough of me to go around." Brooke jokes with a laugh. "I promise."

"What do you want from me, Owen?"

She's certainly not in the mood to talk. She already feels nauseous and can sense a huge migraine about to come from this conversation she is about to have.

"Why have you been avoiding my calls?" The deep voice on the other end frightens her a bit. She knows he's upset him. "Tell me where you are!" He demands.

"I'm afraid I can't do that, Owen." Sure, she pretends to be tough on the phone…When he's all the way in New York and she's down in Tree Hill. 600 miles is quite far.

"And why the hell not? Listen, I am not playing this game, Brooke. You think you can just up and leave me?" Clearly he's angry. There's no question about it. And Brooke knows he's only just begun. "How many times do I have to tell you that I am sorry?"

For a second, Owen sounds actually genuine. A part of Brooke just wants to forgive him. But she's heard this story too many times. She knows this won't be the end. It wasn't the first time, or the second, or even the third. He never stops.

New York City is different; but in a good way, Brooke decides. Sometimes, she even likes just roaming the streets and taking in the scenery…like a true tourist. Other times, however, she finds the noise and crowds and chaos to be too much and she misses home. She misses her old high school, her old friends, her old house, and most of all, she misses Julian.

Things were going good. She had moved to New York and they had agreed that while he went to L.A. to pursue his film-making dreams Brooke would try her hand at fashion design in the Big Apple. They'd talk every night and even plan trips here and there to see each other. When all was said and done, they'd meet back in Tree Hill and live happily ever after…

Somewhere along the way, though, the plans got cut short…there would be no happily ever after for the two of them together.

They hadn't beat the test of time and let the long distance get the best of both of them.

It's been a couple of years since they officially called it off. At first there was much skirting around the topic. They were each holding on to tiny strands of what was left, hoping something would change. It never did. It couldn't. Too much time had passed.

Brooke still misses him. His warmth, his touch, his grin…

And while New York City is home, it doesn't have that same welcoming appeal as Tree Hill.

She's also been unsuccessful in her endeavors. Julian had always been the one to tell her that she had talent. True talent. She could make a real career for herself. Yet, she's been in New York for three years and can't seem to catch her big break. She's just another face in the crowd, and it truly frustrates her. There are no Julian's in New York waiting for her when she comes home, encouraging her that tomorrow is always another day…Someone will soon recognize her talent for what it really is.

She works retail at a small, local boutique downtown and for now, that appears as good as it is going to get for her.

It's early Wednesday night, in the middle of winter, and it's her night off. She truly doesn't know what to do with herself.

She's made friends with her neighbors next door, Nathan and Haley Scott, and their adorable little boy, Jamie.

They've been great to her since the minute she moved in, and Haley has proven to be a true friend. With Peyton sort of MIA in her life, off at college studying art and design, Brooke really needed another girl in her life to talk to.

Brooke sometimes finds herself envious of Nathan and Haley. They're the same age as Brooke, nearly 22, yet unlike her, they have their lives together. They were young when they fell in love, and they went for it, getting married at the age of 16. She was jealous of the love they shared, one she thought she and Julian once had.

Haley decides that tonight she and Brooke go out. Raising a rambunctious toddler and balancing a teaching career wears her out, she argues. Plus, she can tell Brooke could use a night out as well.

"We'll just go out for a few drinks." She reasons. "It'll be painless."

So, Haley drags Brooke out of her apartment much to her dismay and they find a nice bar. It's empty, as it is the middle of the week, but it's good enough for them.

"What can I get for you, ladies?"

Brooke looks up to find a tall, broad shouldered, tan bartender. She brightens up slightly.

"Strongest thing you've got." She replies as Haley raises an eyebrow.

Well, this would be an interesting night.

"You're sorry?" She asked incredulously. "You're always sorry!"

"I made a mistake, baby-"

"I am not your baby. I told you we were done and I meant it this time."

"But—but I love you! Please." He's pleading now, and Brooke rolls her eyes. She always gets weak here. "Please come home. We can work things out."

"Owen…I don't know what you want me to say…" She's on the verge of tears now as her throat begins to dry up.

She knows she'll be an idiot if she gives in.

But this wouldn't be the first time.

Suddenly, there is a knock on the door, and she jumps slightly from surprise.

"Are you okay in there, Brooke?" It's Julian. She figures she must have been in here for a while now.

"Uh, yeah." She pulls her face away from the phone. "Just give me a second."

"Owen, look, I've gotta go." Now she's talking back in a whisper. She can't get caught.

"Wait." He says dryly. "Who was that?…Was that another guy?"

"Owen, I really have to go now…"

"Are you seeing someone?" And just like that, his apologetic demeanor is gone and he's back to being full on angry."I can't fuckin' believe this! Who is he?"

"Goodbye, Owen." And just like that, she ends the call. Without another thought, she turns off her phone avoiding the inevitable calls he is going to make once it sinks in that she actually hung up on him.

Throwing her phone on the bed, she opens the door to find Julian still waiting outside.

He looks at her disheveled appearance, like she's just received some bad news.

"Are you okay?" Concerned, he questions.

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"So, what's a pretty girl like you doing looking all miserable?"

She's had quite a few drinks, and isn't surprised at all to find the bartender flirting with her. He'd tried that with Haley and all she had to do was give him a quick flash of her wedding ring and all was forgotten. It appears Brooke is his next victim.

"What's it to you?"

He raises his brows at her snappy remark.

"You've got an attitude. I like a girl with attitude."

Brooke gives him a drunken look and shakes her head. "I'm sure you do."

The bartender just smirks and pours her another drink. "This one's on the house." He states and pushes the glass towards her before extending his hand. "Owen Morello."

There's something about this guy that interests her. He's the complete opposite of Julian, and maybe that's just what she needs. Or maybe it's just the alcohol. But, reaching out to accept his handshake, she feels inclined to also introduce herself to this unfamiliar man.

"It's nice to meet you, Owen Morello. I'm Brooke Davis."

Little did she know how much trouble this Owen Morello would bring.

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