Kiss Me Like This
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Sean tried like hell to shake the vision out of his head, but it was pretty much impossible. Fortunately, she took pity on him by asking, “Can I see what the outfits are?”
He walked over to the table in the corner where she’d been working and put the bag on it, then unzipped it and pulled out a Cardinal red Stanford Football long-sleeved T-shirt and a pair of matching sweatpants with the word Stanford running up the left leg. There were two of everything and he hoped she’d be laughing by the time he laid it all out, but instead she was biting her lip.
“It’s not that I don’t like the idea of going to a football game tonight. My roommate Abi said they’re lots of fun, and I’d love to experience it, but—”
“No one is going to recognize us, I promise. No more pictures of us are getting out. Not unless we want them to.”
“Even if we both wear all of this—” She gestured to the big pile of Stanford themed clothes he’d taken out of the bag. “—I can’t see how people won’t be able to figure out who we are.”
He unzipped a side pocket and pulled out a small, thin container. He flipped the top open to show her the palette of red, white, and green face paint.
He grinned at her incredulous expression. “And don’t forget these.” He held up a set of Cardinal red Stanford hats and sunglasses that had a sideways “S” curving around the frame.
There wasn’t another girl on the planet he would have done this with. No one but Serena.
She wasn’t just the girl he wanted the most...she was also the one he liked the best.
But she was still shaking her head. “You don’t actually plan on both of us dressing up like over-the-top Stanford Football fans and painting our faces with their colors, too, do you, while wearing these sunglasses?”
“It’s going to be great.”
That was when she started to laugh. “People would never guess it from looking at you, but you’re kind of weird.”
“Funny,” he said with a grin, “my sister Olivia was telling me that just the other day.”
* * *
Thirty minutes later they were ready. And he’d be lying if he didn’t admit to enjoying the hell out of painting up Serena’s face in greens and reds when they’d locked themselves in the bathroom for their transformation. It was another excuse to touch her. And to be closer.
“Wow,” she said as she looked at their reflections in the mirror. They’d both done such a thorough job with the face paint that even Sean could barely recognize either of them now that they both looked like Stanford Football obsessed kooks. “We look…” She started laughing too hard to finish her sentence.
“You wanted normal,” he said around his own laughter. “And it’s my pleasure to give it to you.”
Again she laughed, shaking her head as they walked out of the bathroom. “I asked my roommate if she knew there was a Frisbee Golf course on campus and she looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. I hope it’s okay with you that I told her we went out last week.”
“Why wouldn’t it be okay?” He’d shout it from the rooftops, if he could.
“I don’t know. I’ve never done anything like this before.”
“Neither have I, Serena.”
“It’s just...I don’t know what the rules are.”
He reached for her hand and tugged her closer. “There aren’t any rules. The only thing that matters is that you feel good about what we’re doing.” But when he could see that she was still conflicted over the whole thing, he added, “And just for the record, the only reason I’m not going to kiss you again right now is because it will seriously screw up your face paint. Especially the green lipstick.”
Again, laughter transformed her wildly painted face and he nearly messed it up by kissing her anyway. But they had a Friday night football game to get to and he didn’t want her to miss a second of the normal college experiences he was giving her, so he stuffed her bag into his empty one, slung it over his shoulder, then headed down the stairs with her hand in his.
Janice looked up from the information desk as they walked by and gave them a thumbs-up. “Go Cardinal!”
“Have a great weekend,” he said to the only person on campus who knew who was behind the crazy outfits and face paint.
“Oh, Serena,” Janice called out when they were almost out the door, “I almost forgot to tell you that the transfer for the Ansel Adams books you requested should be coming in tomorrow morning. I’ll send you an email once I’ve got them.”
He swore he could see Serena flush even through the thick layer of dark makeup. “Thanks, Janice.” She waited until they were outside before telling him, “When I looked at his pictures with you, it made me wonder about the man behind the camera.”
“I always did, too. Ansel Adams is a very interesting man.”
She didn’t say anything for a moment. “It didn’t just make me wonder about him, though. It made me wonder about you, too.” She turned to meet his gaze. “About your photos. Because you take them, don’t you?”
He knew she was waiting for his answer, but he didn’t have a good one to give her. “Yeah, I used to be pretty into photography.” Knowing that his used to stuck out like a sore thumb, he added, “But my photos weren’t anything special.”
“I wish I could just request a book of them so that I could see for myself,” she said softly. “But since I can’t, I guess I’ll have to wait for you to want to show them to me, won’t I?”
He hated disappointing her, especially when she was putting her trust in him each Friday night. Sure, playing Frisbee Golf and dressing up like crazies to see a football game wouldn’t normally be huge things, but if he were to slip the information to a tabloid or photographer—if he called up a journalist and told them about how all Serena Britten wanted was to be normal—these little things they were doing together would become huge stories in an instant.
So since she was trusting him with so much, it wasn’t fair for it to only go one way. But he hadn’t even talked much with his brothers and sisters about his feelings over losing their mother.