You, Me and Your Ghost

Chapter 4

She stared at him intently, her bright green eyes seemingly boring into his soul. She smiled so sweetly at him, Lucas was sure his heart stopped.

"Liam," she whispered. And then she kissed him.

Lucas was so shocked by her actions. His eyes grew wide as her soft lips landed on his. He could feel a long blonde strand of her hair brush against his cheek and he could smell a hint of cinnamon in her hair. She smelled and felt like, well, home. A feeling he couldn't explain, since she was stranger.

Just as he placed his hands on her forearm to try and gently push her away, he heard two female voices say her name in unison. "Peyton." Lucas heard a woman behind him say and then he heard the same name escape Karen's lips.

By then he had extracted his lips from hers, and pushed her from him. Her eyes were wide, sparking green and mesmerizing. She seemed so happy, her face was glowing, and he knew that was all about to end.

"Peyton," Lucas heard Karen say again and watched her maneuver around the counter and stand beside himself and Peyton. "Honey, come with me." Karen took Peyton's hand and tugged for her to follow.

"Liam," Peyton said softly and smiled a half smile. "He is home."

"No, honey," Karen again said in a soothing voice. "Come with me." She pleaded again and then got the young woman to follow her into the back of the café.

Lucas just stared after them.

"I am sorry for that," Lucas heard a raspy voice say behind him. He turned to see the brunette he had met in the boutique. "She has had a rough year."

"Doesn't help that her husband's doppelganger just walked into town," Lucas said remorsefully. "It has to be unnerving."

It didn't take a detective to know and realize the young woman he had met hours ago, the same young woman who has just kissed him, was his dead brother's wife.

Brooke just nodded her head.

"I am Lucas, by they way," he said and held out his hand. He felt he had to get that out of the way. He was Lucas, he was Lucas, he kept saying to himself. It wasn't until Peyton walked in that it hit him, really hit him, what showing up here was doing and what would do to the residents of Tree Hill.

"Brooke," she told him and took his hand. He shook it lightly and smiled at her.

She was a beautiful woman, dark hair, light complexion and a button nose. A few months ago, hell a few weeks ago, he would have tried his Lucas Scott charm and maybe asked her out. But he didn't have that feeling now. For some reason, he couldn't even explain, his thoughts wondered to the young blonde woman in the back with Karen, again the woman who just happened to be the widow of his dead twin brother.

Karen settled Peyton in the chair beside her desk in the back of the café. She saw the young woman continue to look at the closed door, where just beyond she was convinced was the man that was her dead husband.

"I told you he wasn't dead," Peyton said and smiled. "No one believed me but I knew."

It had been a dream she concocted after Liam's death. That he hadn't died. He was just in a coma somewhere in some hospital and no one wanted to tell her. It didn't help that the funeral was a closed casket because the director had said they didn't advise opening it because of the massive head injuries that Liam suffered.

Karen had decided Peyton wasn't mentally stable enough to see Liam in that state so refused to allow her to see him in the casket. Now Karen wished she had, because it fueled the belief, by her, that Liam wasn't dead.

"Peyton," Karen said as she took her hand. "That is not Liam and you need to let this go."

Peyton simply shook her head no.

"Peyton listen to me," Karen's voice grew a bit stern. Everyone had been letting Peyton carry on her fantasy and walk around eggshells with her, but it had to stop. Peyton was a strong young woman, she had just let her grief consume her. She had to face a world without Liam, Karen was doing it everyday.

"Listen," she directed Peyton again. "That is not Liam, that is Lucas,"

Peyton shook her head no again.

"Peyton," stern Karen voice again. "Lucas is Liam's twin. He grew up with his father. Neither Lucas nor Liam knew of each other. Lucas just found out about me, Liam and this town."

"Not Liam." Karen wasn't sure if Peyton's comment was a question or a statement.

"No," Karen said slowly. "Peyton, I am sorry, but no."

Tears began to stream down Peyton's face. She rubbed them away with the palms of her hands. "He is gone," she said through the sobs.

Karen took a deep breath and let it out. There it was, the final realization. Peyton had been carrying around that hope for over a year. Funny that it took a man that looked just like her dead son, Peyton's dead husband, to make her realize Liam was never coming back.

"Yes, sweetie, he is," Karen told her as she stroked Peyton's hair. "And we are still here and we have to find a way to live with that."

Peyton nodded her head and got up from the chair. "I have to go," she told Karen.

"Peyton, please," Karen pleaded. "Stay a while, we can talk."

Peyton leaned down and kissed Karen on the cheek and walked out the door. She took a deep breath and prepared to see the man who was the mirror image of her husband.

It hurt more then she could imagine, to see him sitting at the counter, in the same spot that was Liam's favorite. He was talking with Brooke and they both looked up when they saw her walking their way.

"Peyton," Brooke said softly. "Are you okay?"

"I will be," Peyton told her. And for the first time in more months then she could count, Peyton was telling the truth.

She looked at Lucas, yes this was Lucas and not Liam, and offered him an apologetic smile. "I am sorry," she told him and walked to the door and out on the street.

"I better go," Brooke said as she turned to follow. "It was nice to meet you," Brooke said, without adding under the circumstances.

Lucas smiled and nodded. "Will she be okay," he asked and realized it was the second time today he posed that question.

This time Brooke's answer was a bit different. "I don't know, but I hope so."

With the two young women gone and Karen in the back, Lucas was left alone at the counter. Pondering what the hell just happened and wondering what the hell was yet to come.

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