Disclaimer: Still not mine.
Note: Wow. I'm a little overwhelmed by the response. For some reason I did not expect so many of you to be in favor of Haley having an abortion. As you'll see from this chapter, she has reached a decision. And I'll talk about that a little more at the end of this chapter so I don't spoil anything for you. I won't be updating this regularly, I already had this written though. I do hope you enjoy it and I hope you'll trust where I'm going with this.
Nathan rushed through the lobby of the hotel and found the doors to the ballroom. The room was decorated, each table adorned with balloons and flowers. The chandelier dangling above the room sparkled. Nathan glanced at the stage as he walked in. An older man with thinning hair was speaking. Nathan quietly walked to his table, seeing his brother sitting there.
Nathan agreed to come to this because he liked the charity. This group provided books to underprivileged children. Nathan hadn't been a big reader growing up. His father insisted that whatever free time he had be spent playing basketball and training for the NBA. It had been that way since he was old enough to hold and dribble a ball. In the past few months Nathan had begun realizing what he had missed out on. He fully supported kids playing sports, obviously. He may have been pressured by his dad, but he still loved the game. He couldn't help but wonder, though, what things would have been like if he'd been able to have a few other interests. That's why he started giving to this charity.
"I'm really sorry, Luke. That interview went really late. I got here as fast as I could," Nathan whispered. He looked around the table. It was populated with Lucas's friends. Nathan knew his brother's girlfriend, of course. Lucas and Peyton had been dating for a while, they'd spent time together. He looked over and noticed Brooke Davis. They'd met once before and Nathan had heard her name from time to time. She was a fashion designer and had her own magazine. Brooke's boyfriend, Julian, was with her. Peyton had said he was some movie producer who was directing for the first time. The fifth person at the table had her back turned toward him.
Nathan sat down at the empty seat next to Lucas and the mystery woman. He glanced over at Peyton and smiled, "Hey, Peyton."
"Hey, Nate. Glad you made it. We'll introduce you after this," Peyton told him.
Lucas pointed at the man on stage, letting Nathan know to pay attention. Nathan did as his brother told him and looked at the man.
"This is a woman has been one of this group's strongest advocates in the past two years. She has a kind, generous heart," he gushed. "Her first album sold three million copies. She won three Grammys for it, including Best New Artist and Record of the Year. Here to perform for us, welcome to the stage, Haley James!"
The room erupted into applause and the woman sitting next to Nathan stood. She smoothed out her purple cocktail dress before making her way to the stage. She grabbed the guitar that was sitting on stage and pulled the strap over her shoulder. She proceeded to adjust the microphone stand to her height. Nathan looked, mesmerized. He'd thought of this woman a lot in the past few years. It had been nearly five years since he first saw her. Since she turned down his offer for dinner.
"It's her," he whispered. He turned to his brother. "Luke, it's her! Stanford James!"
Lucas looked at his brother, confusion coloring his features. "Stanford? That girl? That's Haley?"
Brooke turned to the two of them and glared. "Talk after she sings!"
Lucas and Nathan both mumbled an apology before looking back at the stage. Haley had begun performing a cover of "Teach Your Children." She closed her eyes as she sang and played. Nathan's eyes never left her. She was even more beautiful than he'd remembered. She finished and Nathan began clapping for her, along with the rest of the crowd. He kept staring as she walked to the podium.
"Thank you," she began. "As Mr. Clegg said earlier, it's wonderful to have you all here. In college, I majored in English. Reading has always been a huge part of my life. As we all know, children who come from a less privileged upbringing often don't have the opportunity to read that others do. Through this charity, we can provide them with books. But you can also help through volunteering. Your local library offers reading groups and that's a great time to spend time with those kids and share a lot of reading with them. Thank you for giving your time and your hearts."
Haley smiled at the applause as she headed back toward the table. Brooke and Peyton immediately hugged her and Lucas patted her on the back. She took her seat, glancing at the man who'd come to sit next to her. She did a double take, looking again. He looked familiar, but she just couldn't place where she'd seen him.
"Hi," she said.
He just smiled at her. Haley waited for him to answer but he kept silent. Haley looked to her friends, "Am I missing something?"
"I have no idea what's going on," Peyton answered, leaning back into her boyfriend's arms. "Luke?"
"Nathan, you're sure?"
"It's you," Nathan said, finally speaking to Haley. His eyes hadn't moved from her face the entire time.
Haley looked confused, turning to face him. "Do I know you?"
Lucas laughed and shook his head. "I can't believe it. All this time you've been pining and I've known her."
Nathan looked at Lucas, annoyed, "I have not been pining. Shut up, Pucas."
"Real grown up, Nate," Peyton laughed. "Seriously, guys, what's going on?"
"Do we know each other? You look really familiar," Haley said. It finally hit her. She knew exactly who he was. He looked a little older. He definitely was more attractive. But she remembered that December night almost five years ago perfectly. As much as she didn't want to, she remembered every detail, including what happened before. "Oh my God, it's you."
"You remember? So, you've been thinking about me. Excellent." A cocky smirk was plastered on Nathan's face. She remembered and that gave Nathan a boost of confidence. He didn't have trouble with confidence. Lucas would call it arrogance. Seeing her again unexpectedly had unnerved him. Having her sit next to him, he could barely think straight. But, she remembered him and he didn't want to let her get away again. He straightened his tie, loosening it somewhat in the process. "See, Luke. I knew she'd regret not going out with me."
Haley blushed at the comment. The truth was, she had thought about what would have happened if she'd gone out with him.
"Haley, this is my brother. Nathan Scott, Haley James. Haley James, Nathan Scott. Nate, I've known Haley since we were twelve."
"It's nice to finally meet you. Last time you wouldn't tell me your name. That other girl called you James. I've been calling you Stanford James for almost five years," Nathan's smirk was still on his face. "So, how about dinner? I know you wanted to say yes back then."
"You thought I looked cold and said you could keep me warm," Haley was remembering. "You were pretty sure of yourself."
"I could still keep you warm," Nathan offered.
"Do lines like that work? It's August in Los Angeles," Haley pointed out.
"Haley. A couple of weeks before Christmas?" Brooke interrupted the exchange going on between Nathan and Haley. They'd been talking like no one else was there.
Haley looked at Brooke and then grabbed the fork on the table in front of her, twirling it in her fingers. "Yeah. The night I met Crissy to get notes from her."
Brooke and Peyton exchanged a look, knowing what that night meant to their friend.
"How do you know Luke?" Nathan's attention hadn't left Haley.
"You're an idiot, you know that?" Lucas was laughing even though he'd just insulted his brother. "Remember when I used to go to Charlotte every summer to visit my grandparents? I'd go to the library for the reading group. Or, as you called it, 'the gay loser book club.' Anyway, Haley and I were the only teenagers in the group. During the school year, we emailed back and forth. We lost contact for a while during college but when I saw her in Rolling Stone, I decided to see if her email address was still the same. Here we are."
"How about dinner, Haley James? Go out with me. We'd have a good time. I promise. I'm not letting you go this easily this time."
Haley blushed. She felt butterflies in her stomach. That night had played through her mind so many times in the years since. Now, here he was and apparently he'd thought about her too. Here he was, looking even better than he did that night.
"You know, I thought you were pretty hot that night."
"Oh?" Haley couldn't help but be intrigued. He'd thought about her. She wanted to know what he was thinking.
"You've only gotten better. Go out with me."
"You're still persistent."
"This could be the start of something great, you know. You could be missing out on something really fantastic."
"Aren't you the guy who said he might be my future husband if he believed in that kind of thing?"
Nathan looked down, sheepishly. "Yeah, that was me."
"Still don't believe in that kind of thing?"
"I don't know. I'm starting to believe in a lot of things tonight. If anyone could get me to change my mind…"
"You're laying it on a little thick." He was flirting with her and she was flirting right back. Haley knew she was playing with him but she couldn't help it. She liked the back and forth banter with this Nathan. She was enjoying herself.
"Hey, it's not a line. You just popped back into my life after over four years of wondering. That's gotta mean something. Why don't you want to go out with me? I don't think you're married, there's no ring. You're probably still not a lesbian. Are you seeing someone?"
"No. I'm not. I'm just not interested." Haley knew she was lying. She'd gone out with a few guys in the past couple of years but in those dates she never felt the spark she felt right now. Those guys had never made her feel nervous like this, they never gave her butterflies. She had never had fun with those guys over just a conversation like the one she was having now. But, just like with those guys, Haley was guarded. She was careful and cautious.
Haley and Nathan were so involved in their exchange that they didn't notice Brooke whisper in Peyton's ear, "Tutor Girl is totally flirting with your future brother-in-law!"
"So, you're a singer. Tell me about yourself. You can tell me about yourself over dinner." Nathan wasn't going to give up. She'd been brought back into his life and he wasn't going to let her out so easily. Even better, now he had an in with her knowing Lucas.
"Yes, I'm a singer. One who has to be getting home," Haley said, standing up and excusing herself from the table.
"Why? We just got here. Stay and talk to me. I'll get you a drink and we can get to know each other. You might not want to have dinner with me now, but after a few drinks and some talking you might change your mind."
Haley laughed. It wasn't a chuckle like it had been before, but a deep, pure laugh. She was genuinely having fun. "Down, boy."
"You really have to go, Foxy?" Peyton stood up, ready to walk her friend out. Brooke followed. They stood next to Haley. They'd been looking at each other throughout Nathan and Haley's entire conversation. They hadn't seen her like this in years. In fact, they had never seen her like this. They'd seen her date. In high school, they liked Haley's boyfriend but their relationship felt more convenient. Haley had ended it because they weren't in love and she didn't feel any passion for him. Brooke and Peyton both realized that they were seeing a passionate Haley. This passionate Haley never surfaced when it came to men.
"Yeah, I need to get home to Sam," Haley explained.
"Who's Sam? You said you weren't seeing anyone," Nathan asked her, even though he'd been talking specifically to Brooke and Peyton. He seemed slightly offended at the mention of a man and scrunched his nose.
Haley looked him in the eyes. She knew this would change things. She took a breath and as she waited a beat, Peyton and Brooke could see the regret in her eyes. Not regret for who Sam was, but regret for how she knew Nathan would react to this news. This would change everything. This would end everything.
"Sam is my son."
She saw Nathan's expression change. The playful look in his eyes quickly vanished. "You're rethinking that date now, aren't you?" But before he could answer, she turned to the rest of the table. "I'll see you guys later. Peyton, I'll see you at the studio tomorrow. Julian, we'll talk about that song."
She walked away, clutching her small purse. She thought about the conversation she'd just had. She always wondered what would happen if she saw him again and now she knew. She also knew it wouldn't go any further. The look on his face when she told him she had a son said it all. She walked out to the valet and waited for her car. She felt the warm summer breeze hit her skin, but she still felt a chill. She shook her head, scolding herself for having too much fun with him tonight. She shouldn't have let it get that far. She knew it couldn't go any further. She couldn't do that.
Back inside, Nathan stared at the door he'd watched Haley walk out of. "She has a son?" He wasn't asking anyone in particular. He was just asking. He hadn't expected that at all. That had to mean she'd been involved with someone since he last saw her. That someone was probably still in her life. Nathan didn't like the idea of that; it made him uneasy. He knew it was selfish, he just couldn't help it. Something about her made him want her all to himself.
"Yeah, she has a son," Brooke's distinct voice interrupted his thoughts. "That was some pretty intense flirting you were doing there."
"Haley was flirting right back," Julian added.
Nathan turned around, now facing the rest of the table. "She was, wasn't she?"
Lucas shook his head and squinted. "Easy there, little brother. She isn't like the women you usually go out with."
"But, Luke," Nathan began to protest.
"I know. I know. I'm just telling you to take it easy."
"He's right, Nathan. Brooke and I have known Haley since we were four. I know you've turned over a new leaf, but just take it easy with Haley. If you see her again," Peyton told him.
"I've heard your reputation. Like P. Sawyer said, take it easy. Or you'll be dealing with me," Brooke smiled even though she was threatening him.
"You don't want that, man," Julian said.
"What do you mean if I see her again?"
Peyton sighed. "She saw that look on your face when you found out she's a mom. You looked like someone took away your candy."
"I didn't, I didn't mean to. I mean, I didn't-," Nathan stammered. He recovered. "I was just surprised. This has all been a surprise. I didn't expect to see her again."
"Nathan isn't used to girls turning him down. It doesn't happen because usually he goes after bimbos. Haley's the first one with a high IQ."
Nathan looked down at the table, embarrassed. Lucas was right. His usual relationships weren't even really relationships. "I'm trying not to do that anymore," Nathan muttered. "I haven't in a while. You know that."
"I know, Nathan. You've grown a lot in the past year," Lucas replied.
"Anyway, you're going to have your work cut out for you with her," Brooke told him.
"What do you mean? I'm already having a hard time. She's playing hard to get."
"Haley doesn't play hard to get, Nathan. She doesn't play," Peyton informed him.
"Well then what is she doing?"
Brooke thought for a moment, choosing her words carefully. "That's for Haley to tell you. If she wants to. She doesn't let people in easily."
Haley walked in her front door, setting her keys on the table in the entryway and slipping her heels off of her feet. She walked into the living room to find a petite blonde sitting on her sofa.
"Hey, Ally," Haley greeted the girl.
"Hi, Miss James. Have a good night?" The girl stood up and turned off the TV. She began walked toward Haley, toward the front door of the house.
"Yeah, it was fine. How was he?"
"Oh, fine. As usual. Sam's a great kid, I love babysitting him."
"You have your tickets for next weekend?"
"Yep! Thanks again for those!"
"Don't worry about it, Ally. It'll be great having you and your friends there. You're great with Sam."
"He's easy to be great with. I wish everyone I babysat for not only had a great kid but could get me great concert tickets as payment," Ally laughed.
"Leave me a message when you get home so I know you got there safely," Haley said, seeing Ally out the front door. Ally nodded in response, getting into her car and pulling away.
Haley looked up the stairs of her house, a smile on her face as she walked up to check on her son. She approached his door and did her best to open it as quietly as possible, knowing that at this hour he would be asleep. She looked in and saw his sleeping form. His eyes were gently closed, his short light brown hair messy. He was on his left side, clutching a small pillow he'd insisted on keeping after a flight to North Carolina a year earlier.
Haley leaned against the door frame, watching her son slumber. He brought his hand to his nose, scratching it. His eyes fluttered open and he smiled, seeing his mother.
"Yeah, I'm back," she said, walking into his room and sitting on his bed. He turned over onto his back to face her and she brought his covers up on his chest, smoothing them out and tucking him in.
"Did you sing tonight?"
"It was an older one. Not one of mine."
"Oh. Was Aunt Brooke there and Aunt Peyton?"
"Yes. And Julian and Lucas too. You've got to go back to sleep, buddy."
"Yeah, then the park with Andre."
"Can I bring my truck?"
"You can bring your truck."
"Sleep, Samuel Nathan James." Despite the scolding, Haley hadn't stopped smiling since she walked into the room. Her son had that effect on her.
"Okay," he yawned. "You look pretty tonight, momma."
"Thank you, sweetie," Haley brought her hand to his head, brushing back his hair.
"They didn't have you where I came from,
Didn't know the best was yet to come,
Life began when I saw your face,
And I hear your laugh like a serenade…"
Peyton and Lucas walked into Peyton's apartment, collapsing on the sofa. "Okay, explain this to me. Your brother and Haley."
Lucas draped his arm around Peyton's shoulders. "Almost five years ago when he was at Duke, Nathan goes to an away game at Stanford. He calls me that night, doesn't mention they won or his twenty-three points, or his two assists. He just goes on and on about this girl he met who wouldn't go out with him. I've kind of turned it into a joke. Like if I'd see a girl leaving his place, knowing she'd never been seen around again, I'd tell him she must not have been Stanford James. Then he'd get this look on his face. He's definitely been thinking about her. She never mentioned it?"
Peyton snuggled into her boyfriend. "Not once. I mean, she obviously remembers, though. That was a busy time for her. That's right around when she got pregnant with Sam." Peyton knew that it wasn't right around the time Haley got pregnant. It was right when she got pregnant. Peyton wouldn't mention that part, though. Lucas didn't know who Sam's father was or how he came to be. Haley didn't talk about it and Brooke and Peyton remained silent. He'd long assumed that it was best to not wonder.
"You think my brother has a chance? Because honestly, I've never seen him like this. And I think after that thing with Renee Richardson, he's really trying."
"I don't know. You know Nathan, his reputation was kind of earned. No offense," Peyton shrugged.
"None taken. I know. He knows it."
"I know he's trying to change it and he has. This is just the first time we've seen him really want to date. So, I don't know. Haley's really different. She won't play around with him. She also doesn't date, you know that. Her energy is all on Sam. I can tell you one thing, whenever she does decide to date, they're done if Sam doesn't like it."
"Yeah. She's a great mom."
Peyton signed, placing her hand on Lucas's stomach. "I think it would be good for her, though. She deserves to have someone who can make her happy."
"I think my brother wants to be the one to do that," Lucas theorized.
"He just better not try and screw with her."
Nathan walked into his house, loosening his tie around his neck. He placed his hand on the railing of the stairs, about to go up to his room, but stopped. Going first to the kitchen for a bottle of water, he next went to his home office. He turned on the lamp on the desk and took a seat in the black leather chair before turning on his computer. The room was decorated with memorabilia from his years of playing basketball. On one wall were jerseys from every team he'd ever played with. On a shelf was an assortment of trophies he'd won. On the desk, next to his computer, was a small collection of photos. One featured Nathan and Lucas after Duke had won a game against UNC – the school Lucas attended. Another was Nathan with his mother on the day he graduated from high school. They were both smiling, though it was forced.
As the computer turned on, Nathan opened the program and began searching. Within minutes he'd finished. Two albums and one EP later, he was in possession of the full Haley James catalog. He hit play as he opened his internet browser and began searching. Through her official website he read her biography and a few blog posts she'd written. The posts were mostly about her music, some chronicling her tour and some the recording process. Using Google, he found several more articles.
As he was reading the last article before going to bed, he began paying closer attention to the song playing. Her voice was laced with emotion and the lyrics were hopeful. This wasn't the kind of music that Nathan usually listened to, but he liked this song. He liked this song a lot. He glanced at the title and smiled. "Sam's Song." Whoever this kid was, he had to be pretty special to inspire as much hope as Nathan felt was in this song.
When Haley first mentioned Sam, Nathan had thought that he must be a man she was involved with and had felt jealous. Now he was even more intrigued with Haley James than before. He was no longer thinking about the man she must have been involved with for her son to have been conceived. For a mother to put this much of herself, of her love for her child into a song, Nathan couldn't help but be in awe of that.
Note: Well, now you know she kept the baby. Abortion and rape are pretty hot button issues but I really felt that for Haley's character, she would keep this child. Go ahead and picture him as Jackson Brundage, he's too adorable not to, right?
Question. I know how Haley reached her decision and what went into it. I haven't decided if I'll include those as flashbacks or as exposition or both. So, let me know if you want to see how she got there. The next chapter does explain some of it, but not in depth.
The song Haley performs at the benefit is Graham Nash's Teach Your Children. The song she sings to Sam is Lullaby by the Dixie Chicks. Thanks for reading!