The door swung open and slammed into the wall making a heavy thud. The noise forced Brooke Davis to turn from her task, of putting the last pin in her latest design, and turn quickly at the sound.
Standing in the doorway was the remnants of her best friend. She was pale, and her hair hung in heavy dark blonde ringlets and there were deep purple circles around her eyes. She was sighing heavily and she seemed to be rooted to the entryway of Brooke's upscale designer boutique.
"Peyton," Brooke whispered and moved quickly to her. Brooke Davis and Peyton Sawyer had been friends since before they could walk. Best friends from almost the womb, the two women had been through it all, and stuck together. However, Brooke's heart hurt to see what her friend was going through now.
Peyton Sawyer had never been a bubbly person, there was a darkness about her, that at times scared Brooke. Perhaps it was the losses in Peyton's life, beginning with the death of her mother at the tender age of eight. There were other losses, including her father never being around, allowing the call of the sea to take him away from the pain of losing his wife and the inability to look into the haunted eyes of his daughter.
So, for most of their young lives, it had been Brooke and Peyton against the world. Brooke tried to let her upbeat nature rub off on Peyton, and there were days she seemed to be carefree but there were others the darkness would find her again.
That was until she met him. He brought something out in Peyton, Brooke never could. She met him her junior year of high school and though they went through their ups and downs, there was almost a subtle feeling that Peyton and this boy, and then this man, would find happiness and forever.
And for a time they did. There was high school graduation and long-distance while the two attended separate schools, but after that they returned to Tree Hill to build a life here. And it seemed Peyton would find her happiness on that day when she wore a simple white dress and he slipped a gold band on her finger.
But darkness and Peyton seemed to go hand-in-hand. Just eight months after they said "I do" he was gone. He and Peyton were driving from a day at the beach when a car swerved to hit a young child in the road and hit the two head on. Peyton escaped with a broken arm and a nasty cut above her eye, and she still bore the scar. But the deeper cut was the knowledge that he didn't make it. That his neck had been broken due to the impact and he died instantly.
And in many ways, Peyton died that day as well. For a while, there was a carefree air about her and she smiled for no reason. Now, the darkness was her best friend and it wounded Brooke to know she couldn't do anything for her best friend that was more like a sister.
She had pleaded with Peyton to see someone. And she would shoot back sarcastically that all they would want her to do was talk about her feelings, and she didn't feel anything.
The accident and his death were almost a year ago. Peyton, thanks to a hefty life insurance policy, didn't want for anything financially. Brooke secretly wished it hadn't left Peyton so well off, because if she worked she would have a reason to leave her house, which she rarely did.
A need for art supplies, art was the only way Peyton would allow her emotions to get out, must have made her venture out today. So, there she stood in Brooke's doorway.
"Peyton," Brooke took her hand and pulled her from the doorway. "You look like you just saw a ghost."
"Not a ghost," Peyton said pulling her hand from Brooke's grasp. "I saw him. I saw Liam."
Brooke could feel the tears forming. Liam Roe was the love of Peyton's life, her husband who had died all those months ago. She did this every few weeks, coming to see Brooke claiming to have seen him. Trying to convince Brooke and herself he was alive.
Brooke took Peyton's arm and pulled her to her. She hugged her friend fiercely.
"Honey, no you didn't," Brooke said softly. "Liam is gone."
Brooke could feel Peyton shake her head no. "No, Brooke, I saw him on," Peyton stopped in mid sentence when a figure filled the doorway of Brooke's boutique.
"I am sorry to interrupt," a male voice said. His voice was silky smooth with a hint of a southern drawl.
"Liam," Peyton whispered as she pulled from Brook's embrace. "Liam," she whispered before everything went black.
Peyton would have fallen to the hardwood floor, but the stranger rushed her aid and caught her before she hit the floor.
As Brooke got a good look at him, she stepped back. "Oh my God," she said. She cocked her head and looked at him intently. "Liam," she whispered almost mimicking Peyton's voice.
"The name is Lucas Scott," he said as he lifted Peyton into his arms. "Where should I put her?"
Brooke led him into her back room and directed him to place Peyton on the sofa. He stepped back, but couldn't seem to take his eyes off the angelic face of the blonde beauty.
"Thank you," Brooke said quickly, leading him out the door and back into the front of the store. "I appreciate it."
"Is she going to be okay," he cocked his head toward the closed door.
"I don't know," Brooke said absently. She really didn't know.
"Now, you were looking for something?" Brook continued. She had to get this guy Lucas out of her before Peyton woke up. He looked so much like Liam it was un-nerving.
"I am looking for Karen's Café," the stranger stated.
"Down two blocks and to the left," Brooke said. She pointed her finger in the direction.
"Thank you," he said but continued to look back at the closed door that held the young woman. He was about to say something else, but thought better of it. He had business to attend to and couldn't get wrapped up in other peoples problems he had problems of his own.
"Thanks again," he said and backed out of the boutique.
Brooke waved him out. She turned to walk to the back part of the store wondering how she was going to convince her best friend she didn't just see her dead husband, because it sure looked like she just did.