Kiss Me Like This
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“You were saying the words in alphabetical order.”
Abi tossed her phone back onto the bed. “What about you? Are you in love with him, too?”
Serena reeled from the pointed question, even though she’d known it had to be coming. “We only met a few weeks ago.”
“So what? Are you telling me you don’t believe in love at first sight? Or that it can last forever?”
That was just the thing—Serena didn’t know what she believed. For nineteen years, her mother had taught her that love wasn’t real, that no one would ever love her the way Genevieve did, and that her mother was the only person she’d ever be able to trust. At the end of Serena’s first frat party, it had looked like all of those things were true.
But in the past few weeks she’d come to trust Sean in a way she’d never trusted anyone else. Even going so far as to offer to model for him if it would help him get back into photography after the break he’d taken since his mother’s death.
She inhaled a deep, shaky breath, before blowing it out. “I’d like to believe it’s real. And that forever is possible with someone.”
For once, Abi didn’t have a snappy comeback. Instead, all she said was, “I’m pretty sure we all would.” But before the moment could get too deep, she added, “Hey, didn’t you have a question for me?”
With thoughts of love dancing around inside her head, it took Serena a few seconds to rewind to the beginning of their conversation and remember her question. “I’m the one who asked Sean out this week, so I’m in charge of planning our date on Friday night. I was wondering if you’d be able to help me with what I was thinking of doing.”
Abi’s smile grew as Serena explained her plan, and when she was done, her roommate said, “Of course I can help you. But if you ask me, this plan is bound to send you straight into Sean’s bed. Which means you must be more ready for him—and for falling in love—than you think.”
* * *
“How did you sneak this stuff in here?”
Sean’s voice was low enough that only Serena could hear it. As he quickly zipped up her backpack to hide the small bottle of tequila, shot glasses, penknife, and lime she’d packed for tonight, her stomach twisted. Had she already screwed up this date night?
“I’m here so much that they don’t check my backpack too carefully when I come in.”
He sat on the edge of the work table and stared down at her, his expression unreadable. “I know I’m always asking you this, but are you sure this is what you want to do tonight?”
It would have been easier to shake her head, to laugh it off and tell him the contents of her bag were a joke. But what could be more normal for a college student than getting drunk on a Friday night?
So instead of backing down, or apologizing for following her instincts, she told him, “I’ve never been drunk before. And according to my roommate and every college movie I’ve ever seen, it’s an important—and very normal—rite of passage for a freshman. The thing is...there’s no one I’d trust with it but you. Especially since I have no idea how I deal with drinking—” She almost held the rest in before deciding to spit it out. “—and I hate always feeling like I’m a dozen steps behind everyone else.”
“You’ve had experiences, and know how to do things, that ninety-nine percent of people on this campus will never know. Will never deal with. Will never achieve. Getting drunk is nothing special—take it from a guy who knows firsthand. But I get that you want to know that for yourself.” He took her face in his hands and gently stroked her cheekbones. “And you’d better believe that I don’t want you drinking with anyone but me.”
She’d missed his lips on hers all week long, and it was with such relief—and pleasure—that she pressed her mouth to his. Just like always, their kiss quickly spiraled from soft and sweet to desperate and wild.
Finally, he tore his mouth from hers. “So, where are you thinking about getting me drunk?”
He was teasing her, but she’d be lying if she didn’t admit that the thought had occurred to her that perhaps Sean might be a little less careful with her under the influence. It wasn’t that she didn’t love how concerned he was that every step they took should be the right one for her…but at the same time a part of her wondered what it would be like if they both just threw caution to the wind.
“Abi mentioned a path up at the Dish that’s off the regular trail.” Her roommate had said the park in the foothills at the edge of campus where students and faculty went to exercise would be perfect for the two of them to find a private spot. “I thought we could kill two normal birds with one stone tonight, since I’ve never hiked the Dish either.”
“Your roommate knows about your plan?”
“She’s the one who got the bottle for me. She’s been really awesome about keeping everything I tell her private, actually.” And she thinks you’re in love with me. The thought flustered Serena so that she started saying, “If you think there’s a better spot, we could go somewhere else. Or we could just forget about the whole thing, since I know it’s a crazy idea, and there are probably lots of other normal things we could do together.”
“The Dish is perfect.” He stood up and held out his hand. “Shall we?”
Loving the way he said it, as if they were going out for an elegant night of dinner and dancing rather than hiking up to a secluded spot on the top of a hill to pound shots, she answered him with a kiss.
Serena had to stop halfway up the hill to lean over with her hands on her thighs and suck in large gasps of oxygen. “Abi forgot to mention,” she said around her panting, “how steep this path is.”
“Why do you think it’s such a secluded spot?” Sean teased.
Despite the fact that the climb was practically vertical, he wasn’t even breathing hard. She knew from looking at him—and having touched his rock-hard, rippling chest and abs—that he was in great shape, but shouldn’t he at least be sweating? So much for any plans she might have had for seducing him. Who in their right mind would want to get sexy with her when she was like this?
“You knew how hard this was going to be, didn’t you?”