Lucas didn't go back in the café after Peyton left him standing on the street. He didn't want to face the prying eyes of the patrons or the worried and concern looked on Karen's face.
He also didn't want to get back home to his lonely townhouse. So, he went to the first place that he had truly talked to Peyton, a place she had told him had been all Liam, and now was becoming a place for Lucas – the Rivercourt.
Lucas sat on the metal bleachers for what seemed like hours. He watched a group of local teenagers play three games of basketball on the battered asphalt court in front of him, spied a large riverboat lazily making its way down the river behind him and the rest of the time just sat there his arms dangling between his bent knees.
That was where Karen found Lucas, head bent sitting on the mental bleachers.
"Lucas," she called his name as she sat beside him. "How long have you been out here," she inquired.
"A while," he told her as he scooted down the metal bleacher's to accommodate Karen's intention to sit beside him. "I don't know, just didn't feel like going home."
"What do you feel like doing," Karen asked already knowing the answer.
Lucas turned and looked at her and just shook his head, taking a deep cleansing breath. His hands were still hanging between his bent knees and he had clasped them together. Oh, how he longed for one of the hands in his to be Peyton's. They were supposed to have had this amazing day, and it shattered because of one narrow-minded person's comment.
"I want to see her," Lucas said turning his attention to the river court and not looking at Karen. His hands began to sweat just thinking of driving to her house and standing on her front porch. Holding his breath as he raised his hand to knock on the door, he could see it so clearly. "But she said she needed time."
"I think Peyton has had enough time alone, Lucas," Karen sad placing her hand on his knee. "I saw the two of you together today, and I was so happy for both of you. She is the Peyton I remember when she is with you. Go to her Lucas," Karen advised.
It was the words he needed to hear. Almost as if it was a validation from Liam's mother to pursue his widowed bride. The funny thing was, it was Lucas' mother too. The situation really was screwed up if you thought about it long enough. Maybe that was Lucas' problem, he was thinking too much, he needed to act.
"Thanks," Lucas said. He slid from the bleacher and stood before Karen. Taking her hand in his he squeezed it slightly. "For everything," he added.
"I will always be here for you, Lucas," Karen told him. Trying to relay the regret of her youthful actions and hoping that now she could make up for a decision she felt was the right one at the time.
"I know," Lucas said as he turned and left.
He must have sat in his car in front of Peyton's house for 20 minutes. He replayed scenarios in his mind over and over, until he was tired of it, and reached the door handle of his car and opened it. Lucas' steps to the gate surrounding Peyton's home and the walkway to her door seemed to be miles instead of a few steps.
When he finally reached the front door, the sweating palms and rapidly beating heart were just like he imagined. Closing his eyes, he lifted his right hand and knocked on the door.
Peyton opened the door. She was standing before him in the same pair of jeans she had worn this morning but had changed into a battered old North Carolina T-shirt. Lucas recognized it as his. That gave him a hint of hope.
"Lucas," Peyton said his name but it wasn't with surprise, it was almost as if it was in relief.
"Peyton," Lucas rushed out her name. "I know you said you needed time, but I couldn't leave without seeing you."
Peyton simply shook her head. She reached out her hand and took his in hers. She tugged on him slightly and pulled him through the doorway, and when he entered she shut the door with her other hand.
"I'm sorry," they both said in unison and then laughed. And then followed by saying "no, go ahead," at the same time.
"That was crazy," Peyton said laughing softly. "Lucas," she said his name in awe. Peyton lifted her hand to stroke his cheek. "I am sorry," she said. "Sorry for letting some town gossip to affect me so. Sorry to run out on you and sorry for not telling you…" she stopped at that.
"What?" Lucas removed her hand from his cheek and placed it above his heart.
"That," she stopped again. And then she did something that totally threw Lucas for a loop. She reached up on her toes and she kissed him. It was passion, it was longing, it was bent up desire and it sent Lucas over the edge.
He pulled Peyton closer to him and found his hands taking on the task of rubbing her whole body. He stroked her hair and moved them down her arms and to her waist, all the while drinking in her kiss.
When Lucas felt Peyton's hands drift to the hem of his T-shirt, Lucas caught his breath as he felt her long nimble fingers stroke his stomach. And then she slipped her hand inside the waistband of his jeans.
"Peyton," he questioned her with just her name and his eyes.
"I want this, Lucas." She told him. "I want you." She all but pleaded with her eyes. It was all he needed.
He didn't let the thoughts of what she meant stop him. Or the idea of what she was saying. Did she want him? Did she want sex? Did she want comfort? Or did she just not want to be alone? He didn't stop to think about it. All he knew is that he wanted Peyton, that he cared about her, and he just might love her, so he would give her whatever she needed.
Peyton led him to her bedroom. Neither said anything, they didn't want to ruin the spell they were under. But it was there, unspoken, that this was the very bed she had shared with Liam.
Their lovemaking was a combination of bent up passion and tenderness. He was gentle and patient with her and she loved him for it. When the thought passed through her, the words of love tied to Lucas Scott, it didn't scare her as much as she thought it would. Because it was true, she was falling in love with Lucas Scott.
She was hovering between being awake and asleep, with her head lying on Lucas shoulder. She could hear his even breathing and knew he was asleep. Peyton nestled closer to him, feeling his strong arms around her. She loved the feeling and it allowed her to drift back to sleep.
Peyton dreamed. She dreamed of her past and thoughts of her future. She saw Liam. Funny in her dreams, though the brothers wore the same face, she could tell the difference. It was as if her mind was allowing her to let go and move on. She whispered his name, almost as if saying goodbye, and then moved into a heavy slumber, feeling warm, safe and secure.
Lucas stirred and looked at Peyton. She was asleep but bore a slight smile on her face. It made him feel empowered he could do that, bring her happiness. But just as quickly as happiness found him, it was crushed with one word.
Liam. Lucas heard Peyton whisper the name of his dead brother in her sleep. He felt as if cold water had been poured on him washing away the warmth of his happiness.
Lucas removed himself from Peyton's embrace, quickly retrieved his cloths and dressed. He had dreamed he could be Lucas for Peyton. That they could find their way together, but now he wasn't sure he could escape her ghost – his brother. He leaned down, kissed her cheek and left. Knowing he had left a piece of himself with her, a piece he was sure he would never get back.