Kiss Me Like This
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But instead of giving him a few seconds to get any kind of grip at all, she smiled. And said, “Good,” a beat before she slid her hand beneath his boxers and they finally came skin to skin.
The last of Sean’s self-control snapped. He slid his hands into her hair and dragged her mouth back to his, their kiss spiraling off as fast, as hard, as he was now moving inside the tight clasp of her hand.
Everything but Serena disappeared. Everything but the sweet taste of her mouth. Everything but the tangle of her tongue against his. Everything but the scent of her skin and the silky slide of her hair between his fingertips. Everything but the sound of her gasps of excitement. Everything but the emotion that washed over him at the exact moment that pleasure shot through and out of him, over and over and over again.
“I knew it,” she whispered against his mouth. “I knew I would love doing that with you.”
Jesus, she wasn’t the only one who had loved it. And after the way she’d just blown his entire world apart, it was nearly impossible to muster up the energy to clean both of them up and kick off the rest of his clothes. Fortunately, his reward was getting to wrap her in his arms and draw the covers over them. And as he mentally rewound the sexiest hour of his life, he was amazed to realize that being with Serena wasn’t just about feeling good, just about getting off.
Love had changed everything—had taken every kiss, every touch, and magnified the impact a million times over. His mother had told him it would be like this, but he hadn’t understood. Not until now. Not until Serena.
“She would have loved you.”
It was an opening Serena could have taken if she’d wanted to push some more. But somehow she knew he still wasn’t yet ready to tell her everything.
Instead, she simply whispered, “I would have loved her, too,” then tucked her head against his chest.
Somehow, he thought as he pulled her even closer, she knew.
At noon the following day, Sean’s eighteen-year-old sister stood in her open front door and stared at Serena with big eyes. “Oh my God, I can’t believe you’re actually here. It’s so amazing to meet you!” She threw her arms around Serena, instantly welcoming.
“Serena, this is my little sister, Madison.”
“Maddie,” his sister quickly corrected.
“I told them all you were coming and not to freak you out,” he continued, “but you know how little sisters are.”
Maddie shot Sean a frown when she finally let go of Serena. “We’re awesome, that’s how we are. It’s not like I asked Serena to take a selfie with me, or anything.” Maddie looked back at Serena and gave her a slightly crooked smile. “Sorry, it’s just that I’ve seen you in like a million magazines and now here you are in my house.”
“Not quite yet, Mads,” Sean pointed out, “since you haven’t actually let us in.”
“Oh, sorry!” She jumped aside, and that was when she finally saw the box Serena was holding. The eggshell-blue box that could only have come from one store. “You didn’t need to bring me a present.” But from the way her eyes lit up, she was clearly glad that Serena had. Serena liked Sean’s youngest sister immediately. She was as tiny as her brother was big, and also bright and fun.
Serena had agonized over what to wear to Maddie’s party today. Her usual uniform of jeans and a baggy T-shirt would have been rude—plus she was feeling more and more ready to stop hiding who she really was—but she didn’t want to be overdressed, either. Finally, Abi had suggested a pair of slim black jeans and a fitted white crocheted top with a matching white tank. Simple, but pretty.
“I hope you like it, Maddie.”
She had handed the box to his sister just as Sean’s father stepped into the entryway. She could easily see the family resemblance in all three of them, but it was especially strong between the two men. But even with a welcoming smile, Michael Morrison couldn’t hide the grief in every line of his face, the too-deep hollows beneath his cheekbones and the lingering despair in his eyes.
“Mr. Morrison, thank you for including me today.”
“Mike, please. And it’s a pleasure to meet you, Serena. Come inside and let me get you a drink before you head into the backyard and meet everyone else.”
“Sean mentioned that you were a pretty serious gardener, so I brought these for you.” She reached into her bag and pulled out a bag of bulbs. “I’ve always loved the scent of freesias,” she said when he simply stared at her gift.
“My wife did, too,” he said softly, and Serena silently cursed herself for inadvertently causing him pain with her gift.
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” she said, her throat tightening more on every word.
And then, from seemingly out of nowhere, Sean’s other sister appeared, as if she had a radar for when her father was faltering and knew exactly when he needed her to save him. “Dad, I’m pretty sure Drew’s about to break the gas grill by lighting charcoal on it.” As their father headed out toward the backyard to deal with the situation, Olivia said, “You must be Serena.”
Sean’s arm around her waist tightened as she smiled said, “You’re Olivia, aren’t you? Sean has told me so many great things about you.”
Serena held out her hand and made sure to keep her expression as easy as possible, as if she hadn’t already picked up on all of the varied dynamics in their family. Because as far as she could see there was a lot going on, and she’d only met half of them so far...
Like any eighteen-year-old might have, Maddie looked caught between her older sibling’s silent tug of war over Serena’s presence and wanting to defuse the situation. “If you could point me toward something to drink,” Serena said to her, “that would be great.”
Maddie gave her a relieved smile. “Sure, come into the kitchen with me and I’ll show you what we’ve got.”
Leaving Sean and Olivia behind for a moment, Serena said, “Happy birthday,” and then asked, “How’s your senior year going?”
“Pretty good,” Maddie said with a grin that looked so much like Sean’s. “Although I’m pretty sure if I don’t get into Stanford everyone is going to freak.”