Kiss Me Like This
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“I know I’m not always the most socially adept person on the planet,” she admitted, “but I think I could have held my own if you’d let us stay long enough to talk with any of them.”
“Of course you can hold your own.” It warmed her how he said it, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “That’s not why I got us out of there so fast.”
“Because they can be a bunch of idiots. And if any of them had said anything even remotely inappropriate to you, I would have had to tear them apart with my bare hands. Right in front of you.”
She’d known he was protective, had heard it in his voice when he spoke about his sisters and the rest of his family. And she’d seen it for herself, as well, in how he’d gone out of his way to carefully plan their Friday nights so that she wouldn’t be recognized. But this morning, it was amazing to see his protectiveness in action. First, when he’d held them back from making love because he thought they needed to take the final emotional step before they had sex. And now, when he couldn’t so much as stand the thought of anyone disrespecting her.
“People are going to say things,” she reminded him. “But,” she added with a finger to his lips before he could jump in, “I’ve learned a lot in these past few weeks about not caring what anyone else thinks. And I don’t think it’s such a bad thing if I learn what I’m actually capable of dealing with and doing.”
“Anything, Serena. Everything is what you’re capable of.”
She knew she’d never smiled wider, or been so happy as they walked together across campus, hand in hand. And for the first time since she’d started at Stanford, she kept her head uncovered and wore only a T-shirt, rather than her big sweatshirt. Not only had she and Sean started to really solidify things between them, but her routine these past few weeks couldn’t have been more boring to any paparazzi that might still have been hanging around. Surely, people’s interest in her stepping away from modeling and going to college had finally dribbled away to nothing.
Maybe she didn’t need to hide anymore.
Maybe she could finally become the person she was meant to be.
Someone who loved books and learning.
Someone who loved new experiences and trying new things.
Someone who loved an amazing guy...and was loved right back.
* * *
“Thank God,” Abi said when they walked into Serena’s dorm room a short while later. “I was hoping that’s where you were last night.” She shot Sean a quick smile, but then frowned at Serena. “Seriously, next time you could at least text me back.”
Surprised to realize that her roommate had been worried about her, Serena said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t even think to check my phone.” And wasn’t it amazing that she finally had a real friend? Someone who actually worried about her. Someone who actually cared. Serena silently vowed to do better on her end. “I’ll let you know next time when I’m not coming back for the night. I promise.”
Thankfully, her roommate was extremely forgiving. On the other hand, she was also clearly extremely interested in whatever had transpired between the two of them. “You two look happy.” Serena could feel her cheeks flushing even before Abi asked Sean point blank, “Does your twin look just like you?”
To his credit, he laughed. “Pretty much.”
Abi’s eyes lit up. “Do you know if he’s dating anyone?”
“I don’t, actually. But I could find out.”
“That would be awesome. And if he isn’t, maybe you could tell him all about your girlfriend’s great roommate.”
Sean grinned at her again. “Will do.”
With that, thankfully, Abi turned back to the book she was reading and stuck in her earbuds. Serena mouthed sorry to him. But he was still smiling.
“Speaking of my brother, how would you like to meet him?”
“Are you kidding? I’d love to.”
“Good. Because it’s my sister’s birthday tomorrow and we’re all getting together at the house in Los Altos.”
His brother had been easy, but the thought of meeting everyone immediately set her heart to racing. Fast. “Your whole family is going to be there?”
He was smiling down at her as he brushed a thumb over her lower lip. “Does the idea of meeting all of them make you nervous?”
She didn’t even need to think about it. “Yes.”
“Don’t be. They’re all going to love you.” His eyes darkened. “Drew might actually love you a little too much. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he pulled out all the stops to convince you to dump my ass for him.”
“I might have stolen a couple of girls from him back in high school,” Sean said in a slightly cocky way. “He’s still trying to get payback. But it will never happen.”
“No,” she agreed, “it won’t.” Because no matter how great the other Morrison brothers were, she couldn’t imagine wanting anyone but Sean.
“Olivia, my middle sister, might be a little slower to warm up than the others. But that won’t have anything to do with you. It’s just because she worries too much. And Maddie is probably going to want to trade outfits with you or beg to do your hair, or something. Justin, at least, will be cool. He’s really mellow.”
Even though her brain was reeling at the thought of meeting them all, she realized he’d left one sibling out of his list. “What about your oldest brother? Will he be there?”
“Sure. But Grant won’t try to mess with your head. Not when he takes his role as oldest so seriously. And I’d bet my tuition for the year that my father is going to pull me aside to tell me not to screw things up with you. Be prepared,” Sean warned. “He’s going to call you a keeper.”
Realizing, again, just how close—and fun—his family was, suddenly she didn’t feel quite as nervous anymore. Especially when him letting her in like this was one step closer to that final step they needed to take.
“Okay. Tomorrow I’ll go meet your family.”
He pulled her against him, and she loved the way they fit so perfectly together. Her head tucked right in beneath his chin, and she was tall enough to feel his heart beating against hers, so warm and real.