Fifteen

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[Liam]

"If I call your name, step up!" Coach Maddox booms at the end of the hour. Half the group was already weeded out.

I'm sweat-soaked and smiling, today was a cake-walk and Ollie had me all scared. We ran and conditioned the whole time, not once did I have to pick up the god-forsaken stick.

"....Thomas, Vincent, Wren, Williamson." When Coach finishes, 10 guys are standing in front  of him. I'm confused at first because Brandon is still beside me. "Thank you for your participation everyone! Front line, welcome to swing, you'll play JV and Varsity. Back line, Varsity."

35 are left, as promised. 25 Varsity and 10 swing. How the fuck did I make it here?

"Liam!" Ollie comes and smacks my back. "I won't lie, I thought you'd be gone by now. Welcome to Varsity. Second-string, but still."

"Not bad Davis," Brandon nods my way. My eyes are already schooled on the stands though. Evie is smiling beside Mia, looking right back.

"Alright boys! I'm Varsity Captain this year, you all know that because you voted me in last year." Brandon jokes, gathering everyone around and pulling me away from Evie's gaze. "Practice starts next week, first game is in three weeks. See everyone back here at 5:30 on Monday for morning practice."

My soul leaves my body at the mention of morning practices.

"Cheer up Liam," Boston throws a heavy arm over my shoulder. "It's just for the first week."

I shove him off with a smile and remove the protective gear one piece at a time. I stuff the musty bag into my new locker and head out to the stadium. I can't contain the smile on my face. I made it. I'm proud, my mom would be proud.

"Liam!" Evie comes running down the steps.

"Hey." I smile and catch her when she tackles me, spinning her around. She nearly decapitates me with her cast.

"You made Varsity! I'm so happy for you." She laughs and takes a step back out of my arms.

"It's not like he's a starter." Mia shoots me a scowl, sidling up to Brandon.

"Come on baby, be nice." He says.

"No no, she's right. I didn't expect you to make it either. I'm thoroughly shocked." Sam teases.

"I knew you'd make it." Ollie affirms, leading the group to the parking lot.

"Ew, you're sweaty." Sam shimmies away from him.

"You've never cared before." Ollie says softly.

I gag and scramble for my holy water.

"You guys want to go get something to eat?" Boston asks.

"It's 4:30." Evie laughs.

"We could meet at 6?"

"Yeah! Louisa's?" Brandon chimes in.

"Yeah, pizza sounds great. I have to wait here for Lauren to finish her makeup test anyways."

"That way the rest of you can shower." Mia says.

"You know, it is Friday." Evie says. "We haven't had a sleepover in a while, if you guys want to stay over you can."

"Oh great! I was going to stay over anyways so perfect." Mia smiles.

I watch with a chuckle as Evie's face screws into one of disgust.

"Okay so everyone is meeting at Louisa's at 6 and then to Brandon and Evie's?" Ollie clarifies, slamming his trunk shut.

"Yep." Brandon hands Evie up into his jeep.

"Okay, we'll see you there." Boston unlocks his BMW.

Everyone gradually starts up and heads out except Boston who stays to wait for Lauren.

With a sigh I slide my own helmet on and swing onto my bike. It was a good day all in all. And it's about to get better. The whole night with Evie, I smile just imagining it.

I kick up the stand and speed out of the lot to head home, but lurking by the SHS sign is Emmett. He nods at me deftly and throws his cigarette to the ground, squishing it beneath his boot. He can't see my expression behind the black of my helmet, but it's murderous.

***

"Samuel Joseph Milligan!" I pound on the bathroom door around 5:15. "I know you aren't in the shower with Oliver."

"Noooo." Comes his muffled reply.

"His car is literally in the driveway, and he's nowhere to be found."

"Hmm that's weird."

"Get your asses out of my shower!" I groan. "And I swear to god you better scrub it before you leave."

When I finally get my turn over with, Ollie and Sam are gone. I shake my head but smile despite myself.

Ten minutes later, everyone is gathered outside Louisa's Pizza Parlor. Its freezing when I pull up and park. Everyone is here so far except Boston and Lauren.

I regret not bringing a jacket even though I'm wearing long sleeves. Ollie has wrapped a blanket around Sam and himself and Brandon doesn't hesitate to pull Mia into his arms.

Curiously, I peek around the latter couple and spy Evie shivering under the veranda.

"Stand up move asshole." I punch Brandon on my way over to her. My converse scuff on the ground when I stop in front of her.

"Oh! I have your jacket, I didn't know if you would let me wear it so I didn't put it on but—" she shivers.

"Put the goddamn jacket on. Your crazy." I shake my head with a smile and grab the leather out of her arms.

I knew I left something other then my broken heart behind that night.

She slides her bare arms in and I scoot her closet to me and put my arm around her shoulder. Friends don't let friends freeze, I decide.

"Children! Come in you poor dears." Louisa bursts through the door and exclaims a few minutes later. "Why are you huddled under the awning out here."

"We were waiting for our friend." Brandon defends.

"None of that Mr. All Star. Come in and warm up. Nah! Ladies first." The heavyset woman chastises us all and I can't help but muffle my guffaw.

The night lasts late, lots of toasts and pizza ensued. I opt out of the sleepover, thinking I'd be unwanted. I don't want to make things tense, Evie laughing beside me is all I ever need.

As everyone heads out for the night I tell Evie to keep my jacket. A light snowfall began while we were inside and I don't want her to catch cold. February is coming quickly, but winter is most definitely not over yet.

I wave goodbye and get ready to head out myself, brushing the droplets off my bike. Maybe I'll go see what Ash is up to. I haven't seen him in a few days it feels.

We're the last party to leave, so it's odd to say the least when I hear a clanking near the antique store next door to Louisa's. The historic downtown area is grayed from the snow clouds and dark from the closing shops.

I hold my breath and listen, fists clenched. Nothing happens.

"Come out!" I demand.

"Liam right?" A voice finally answers, Emmett.

"What the fuck do you want."

"Sammy grew a backbone it seems, but what better way to hurt him then by roughing up his so-called "family""

I genuinely can't contain my laugh. This guy doesn't realize that we literally street fight for a living.

"Fine." I agree. "Your funeral."

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