"Go! Run! Run!" Lily shouted as she shifted to the end of the bleacher. "Alright first down! Let's go!"
Katie snorted out a laugh at her friend's enthusiastic cheering. "Are you actually excited about them trying to make a comeback or the person that's leading them to the comeback?"
Lily's eyebrows knitted together as she looked at her friend. "My brother?"
"No. The one that's been making the incredible catches and running like there's no tomorrow." Katie smirked. "Number 30."
"Andrew?" Lily's voice raised an octave as she rubbed her arm in an attempt to keep warm. "Of course I'm rooting for him. He's my friend."
"Who you like more than a friend." Katie's smirk widened.
"There are seven seconds left in the game and they need to score a touchdown to win so can we talk about this later?" Lily said as she returned her eyes to the field where the players began to set up for the next play.
Katie let out another laugh. "Sure."
The crowd seemed to fall silent as Liam shifted back and dodged the opposing team's players as they attempted to tackle him to the ground. The clock ticked down- 6 seconds, five seconds, four seconds. At three seconds, the football spiraled out of Liam's hand and whizzed over the majority of the field and into the end zone. Just as the buzzer screeched throughout the stadium, Andrew escaped the opposing players trying to take him down, dove in the air, and snatched the ball with one hand before securing it against his chest and rolling to the ground in the end zone. Pandemonium dispersed throughout the stadium as everyone roared and cheered. Andrew rose to his feet and threw the football down with excitement before his teammates charged towards him in a euphoric celebration.
Time seemed to slow as the team celebrated on the field, pouring a large bucket of Gatorade over Andrew, while the opposing team sauntered off the field clutching their helmets in their hand and disappointment in their chest. Katie and Lily waited for the crowd to begin to disperse before they made any attempt to move. Eventually, Lily saw her parents on the field congratulating Liam as other family and friends of other players scurried onto the field.
"I'm so proud of you!" Rachel squealed as she threw her arms around her son.
"Way to go, star quarterback!" Finn held up his hand for a high five when Rachel released her son.
Lily and Katie joined Rachel and Finn in congratulating Liam. As they stood on the field chatting, Lily continued to glance over at Andrew, who was talking to their coach. She waited for the coach to leave before she strolled over to Andrew.
"You were amazing out there!" Lily squealed enthusiastically.
A wide smile found Andrew's face when his eyes met Lily. "Thanks."
"What was that? I mean you've always been an amazing athlete, but you were almost defying gravity out there in the fourth quarter."
A small laugh left his lips as he shrugged slightly. "I wanted to win. I was not about to let us get eliminated in our first playoff game when we've gone undefeated during the regular season."
"Well, you definitely deserved that win."
"You know, I think you may be my good luck charm." He flashed her a smile that made butterflies explode in her stomach. "You've been at every game this season and we have yet to lose."
"Well, we wouldn't want to risk finding out if that's true so I guess I'll be at the rest of your games." Lily's eyes wandered to his defined arms, glistening from the beverage he was drenched in during the celebration.
"You coming to the party at Derek's house?" Andrew asked, grabbing the towel hanging on his shoulder to wipe at his wet face.
"I don't know." Lily shrugged. "I'm not really on the best terms with the school."
"I'll be there. I'll have Derek kick anyone out that bothers you." Andrew kept his eyes locked with hers as he tried to convince her to come.
"Well, if you're going to be there…" Lily smirked and she started to wonder when this innocent flirting began between them. It was something that seemed to occur often lately.
"I knew I could convince you." His smile widened. "I'm going to the locker room to shower and change, but if you hang around I can give you a ride."
"Okay sounds good." She smiled with a nod and she watched him sprint off the field towards the school.
"You don't have to hang around me, you know?" Lily said.
"I asked you to come. I want to hang out with you." Andrew glanced past her at one of his teammates stumbling. "I think we may be the only sober people here. And maybe Liam."
"Yeah, I think…" Lily stopped abruptly when she caught sight of someone in the distance.
"What's wrong?" Andrew asked when he saw Lily's face contort with panic. "Lily?"
"I...I have to go." She stammered, her eyes continuing to look past Andrew.
"What's going on?" Andrew asked with concern.
"Joey is here." She whispered, her eyes wide and her chest beginning to heave.
Andrew spun around to where her eyes were focusing to see the person she was referring to. His fists clenched by his sides as anger erupted in the pit of his stomach. "I'll get rid of him."
Lily tugged on his arm to stop him from taking another step in Joey's direction. "No, Andrew, don't. Please."
Lily's pleading eyes made the anger dissipate and rational thoughts return to his mind. "Okay, let's get out of here then."
"You can stay. Celebrate." She said, her eyes remained glued to Joey's back to make sure he didn't turn around. "But I need to go."
"I'm not letting you leave by yourself. I'm coming with you." He said before he motioned for her to follow him. "C'mon."
Lily began to follow Andrew through the crowd and towards the front door, continuously glancing over at Joey to make sure he didn't turn around. She swore her heart stopped when he did and his eyes locked with hers. Every muscle in her body tensed as he strolled closer to her. The taunting gleam in his eyes made her stomach churn.
"Hey, Lily!" He shouted as he strolled closer to her. Her heartbeat echoed in her ears. The edges of her vision blurred. "Going so soon?"
Andrew spun around to face him and placed himself in front of Lily to create a barrier. "Yes, she is. And you're going to leave her alone."
Joey narrowed his eyes at Lily before he chuckled tauntingly at Andrew. "What is the whore going down on you too?"
A growl escaped Andrew's lips as his nostrils flared. He was about to lunge for Joey when Lily tugged on his arm. "Andrew, please. Just leave it."
"You're lucky she's here to stop me." Andrew spat through clenched teeth.
"Just so you know, Lily, those charges aren't going anywhere." The smirk plastered on his face made her want to vomit. "You should know by now that my parents can make anything go away and I promise you, you will be sorry for ever trying."
Lily swallowed thickly. Her feet felt as though they were nailed to the floorboards beneath her. She was incredibly grateful when Andrew placed his arm around Lily protectively to continue towards the door. "You're the one who will be sorry if you ever come near her again."
"Good luck, man. I know she's a good fuck, but she can't be tamed!" He shouted as he watched them approach the front door.
Lily closed her eyes for a moment as she heard the chatter of the nearby people quiet. This was sure to intensify the rumors already spreading about her. Andrew paused and she tugged on his arm once again to halt his urge to fight. "Just keep going. Please. I just want to leave."
He nodded and ushered her outside as quickly as her healing injuries allowed. He brought her to his car, opening the passenger side for her before he hopped in the driver's seat. "You okay?"
Lily closed her eyes for a moment. "No."
"You want me to drive home?" Andrew asked.
Lily was silent for a moment before a breath left her lips. "No. Not yet. My parents will know something is wrong and they were planning a date night. I don't want to ruin that."
Andrew pursed his lips as he studied her. She never failed at putting everyone before herself. "Where do you want me to go? You say the word and I'm there."
"Another country." She laughed slightly, earning a chuckle from the athlete beside her.
"I mean, I'm totally down with that but I'm not really sure how we're explaining that one to your parents. They may never let me stay at your house again." Andrew smiled. He'd been staying at the Hudson household since Thanksgiving while his parents remained in Florida helping his Grandma.
"I didn't have sex with him by the way," Lily said suddenly. "Or do that with him."
"I never believe a word that leaves his mouth, but you don't have to explain," Andrew said. "I mean I'm glad you didn't for your sake, but I wouldn't have judged you for it."
Lily met his sincere eyes hesitantly and silently thanked him. The entire school was judging her for things she didn't do and she was relieved that the boy beside her, the boy whose opinion seemed to matter more than anyone else's, was not.
"You want to go to the diner?" Andrew asked. The local diner was a usual hang out spot for Lily and Liam with their friends.
Lily nodded. "Sure."
The short ride to the diner was quiet with the exception of the radio. Andrew knew Lily was battling a thousand thoughts in her mind, but he didn't want to push her to talk. So he drove them to the diner, grabbed a table, and ordered them a hot chocolate each.
"We could call the cops to the party. Doesn't prove anything against you, but he'd get in trouble for the alcohol." Andrew suggested before taking a sip of the hot chocolate.
Lily shook her head. "We'd be getting everyone else in trouble. You'd be risking the football team being penalized."
"Lily, you're more important than football."
"His parents would just bail him out like they always do." She said dejectedly. "Just like they're apparently doing with the charges."
Andrew wrapped his hands around the mug for warmth. "His parents may have connections and money, but you have parents that actually love and care about you. Your parents are not going down without a fight."
"I'm just tired of fighting." She whispered, glancing down at the place setting before her.
Andrew swore he felt his heart crack. The girl sitting across from him never backed down from a fight. Somehow Joey had managed to diminish the fire inside of her. "That's okay because you have so many people that will fight for you."
Lily smiled sadly at him but remained silent.
"Want to split a slice of pie?" Andrew grinned as he watched the waiter place the dessert he was referring to on a nearby table.
The grimace that crossed over Lily's features didn't go unnoticed. "I'm not going to have any, but you should go for it."
"Oh come on, you're turning down pie?" Andrew pouted. "Not even a few bites?"
Lily took interest in the placemat on the table once again. "No, I don't need it."
Andrew's eyebrows knitted together as he studied the sadness in her eyes. "You don't need it? Is this about calories?"
Lily failed to meet his eyes.
"Is this Joey? Did Joey put these thoughts in your mind?" He asked although he was pretty sure he already knew that answer. He knew her since she was in Kindergarten. Not once did he ever witness a phase of insecurity even during her preteen, early teenager years when most girls experienced that. She ate healthily and exercised regularly, but she also never turned down a dessert opportunity. It was always her who suggested getting ice cream or ordering a slice of pie.
"I...I don't…" She stammered, failing to form words.
"What did he say to you?" Andrew tried to swallow back the anger but it was proving impossible. It was nearly taking everything in him to not drive back to that party and implement his revenge. The physical abuse Joey executed was bad enough, but now Andrew was learning that he robbed the beautiful girl before him of her confidence and made her feel shameful about her body, guilty about indulging in a slice of pie.
Lily shrugged, watching the condensation droplets rolling down the glass of water and splashing onto the table. "He'd just always comment about my body. That I needed to lose weight. That I shouldn't wear a bikini. Or he'd comment on anything I ate that wasn't healthy. He uh...sometimes he'd order for me."
The fury bubbling inside of Andrew somehow managed to increase. "Lily, anything he said to you is wrong."
Lily let out a long breath as she hesitantly met his eyes. "I think part of me knows that, but the larger part can't help but believe everything he said. When you hear it enough times it kind of becomes ingrained in your mind."
"I'm sorry, Lily." He frowned. "But he is so wrong. You are gorgeous and you're anything but fat. You don't need to change a thing."
Lily's heart skipped a beat. The man sitting across from her continued to remind her that there were good men in the world. That not all of them were like Joey.
"Have you been eating enough?" Andrew's voice was coated with concern. Since he was staying at the Berry Hudson house, he ate most of the past week's dinners with them. Looking back, Lily hadn't taken any second portions and he was nearly positive her first portions were pretty small.
"Probably not as much as I should be," Lily admitted with a whisper.
The knot in Andrew's stomach tightened and the urge to go after Joey multiplied. Too many thoughts exploded in his mind and when he first opened his mouth, no words came out. "Is this...what...how serious is this?"
"No, I'm fine." Lily attempted to reassure, but the worry in Andrew's eyes failed to ease. "When I was with Joey, I had some really unhealthy thoughts and eating habits. I'd be lying if I said they didn't go away, but they've definitely decreased. I can at least see that they're unhealthy."
Andrew couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that he was just learning of her potentially dangerous eating habits now.
"I'm trying," Lily said. The panic etched into Andrew's features had yet to waver. "I told you, it was worse when I was with Joey. At that time, even if I had the rationality to realize it was unhealthy, I wouldn't have cared to stop. Now, I'm trying to but it's a habit. I had half a cookie on Thanksgiving and I felt so guilty about it. But I swear, I'm trying and it's gotten better. I'm having meals again."
Andrew wasn't sure if he wanted to cry or break something. The uneasiness swimming in his stomach wouldn't leave. This could have gone so bad. If Lily's relationship with Joey had gone any further, she may have been sitting in a hospital bed right now not only with injuries from Joey but with a feeding tube.
"Please say something, Andrew." Lily pleaded softly. She knew he was struggling to process all of this, but his silence made her anxiety peak.
"I'm sorry. I'm worried about you." He finally said. "And I can't just forget this conversation. I'm going to be watching you like a hawk now to make sure you're eating."
"Okay." Lily nodded. "I'm glad I told you. Because now I know you'll make sure I'm on the right path if I start to veer off."
"There won't be any veering off," Andrew said seriously and she nodded. "I'm not going to let that happen. And I say to help that we order a slice of pie and we split it."
Lily nibbled on her lower lip before she nodded with a small smile. "Okay."
Andrew ordered them a slice of apple pie, knowing that was Lily's favorite. Lily was grateful for the carefree conversation they fell into while they waited for the pie. Andrew seemed to know when she needed to talk out her feelings and when she just needed to talk about anything but her problems.
"Pie was a good call." Lily smiled before slipping another spoonful of the dessert into her mouth.
"Of course it was." He grinned as he too shoved a bite into his mouth. "Pie is always a good idea. Especially when you're celebrating."
Lily couldn't help but giggle at his enthusiasm. The smile left her lips suddenly as she recalled the party. "I'm sorry I ruined your actual celebration."
Andrew shook his head as he paused from scooping up another piece of the pie. "Don't apologize. Honestly, I'd much rather hang out with you anyway."
There was a flutter in Lily's stomach- something she had felt often from Andrew lately.
"I say we make a tradition. For every playoff game we win, you and I celebrate with a slice of pie."
Another smile sprouted upon Lily's lips. It seemed hard to find things to smile about lately, but Andrew was making it very easy right now. "You have yourself a deal, Moretti."
Andrew's own smile widened and it made tingles spread throughout Lily's body. He reached for his phone sitting on the table. "I should probably let Liam know we left."
Lily nodded before letting out a long breath. "Thank you. For tonight. For getting me out of that party, for taking me out, for distracting me, for listening."
"You don't have to thank me." Andrew's eyes locked with hers. "You know I'd do anything for you."
The corners of her mouth curved up as her heart swelled. "That means a lot to me."
Wow, can't believe it's been almost 3 months since my last update. I haven't given up on this story, I promise. I had a relapse with Lyme Disease and also started a new teaching job so I've been quite busy. But thankfully it's February break, which leaves me with a lot of time to write.
Hope you enjoyed!