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Caught on Camera: Chapter 48



“Why wouldn’t we? We’ve been here a thousand times.”

“I’m nervous,” I admit. Shawn’s hand settles on the small of my back, and he guides me forward with a gentle push. “I mean, this changes everything, right? If one of the couples breaks up, sides will have to be taken. It’ll get messy.”

“Are you planning on breaking up with me, Daniels?” he asks, and my elbow lands in his ribs. “It’s them, and it’s us. Just like it’s always been. People would have had to take a side when the two of us were just friends. It’s not any different now.”

“It’s totally different.” I huff and stop in front of Maggie and Aiden’s apartment door. I reach out and adjust the wreath, making sure it’s straight. “I really love everyone. And I’m kind of scared, too.”

“Hey.” Shawn rests his hand on my cheek. “I know you’re scared because you have a big heart and you care about those around you. I know this is a big change, but it’s still you and me, sweetheart. You’re going to keep giving me shit. I’m going to keep trying to make you laugh, and we’re going to be okay. I promise I’ll always communicate with you, and there’s never going to be a time where you don’t know exactly where my mind is. And, it’s safe to assume, for the foreseeable future, it’ll be thinking about you.”

I blow out a breath and bury my face in his shirt. It smells like his cologne and the cinnamon toast we had for breakfast when we finally dragged ourselves out of bed around noon. “Thank you. You always keep me steady.”

“Friendship means a lot to you, and I wouldn’t have told you how I felt if I didn’t think this was something that would truly last forever.”

“I’m being silly. Thank you for talking me down.”

“You’re not being silly. I promise I’m going to take care of your heart, Lacey. You’re going to be stuck with me for a very long time.”

I stand on my toes and kiss him. The brush of his lips is soft and sweet, and I lean into the feel of his mouth against mine.

I love this man.

I love him so much, and I already dread the day I can’t be with him anymore.

I made a promise to myself three mornings ago. We were on the plane to Denver, and Shawn fell asleep with his head on my shoulder and his hand threaded through mine. I couldn’t stop looking at him and smiling at all the parts I know about him and all the parts I’ve yet to learn.

I was—I am—so abundantly happy, and nothing in life has ever been this good.

I’m going to appreciate every moment with him. The loud ones at the football stadiums where I’m screaming his name and he’s pacing up and down the sidelines. The softer ones on the couch with our arms around each other, just the two of us and all the time in the world.

I don’t want to rush a single second with him.

The door to Maggie and Aiden’s apartment swings open, and our heads turn to the side. Maven stands in the doorway, her mouth open and an apple in her hand.

“What the hell?” she asks. “Is this—are you—when—oh my god. Are you two together?”

Guess the cat is out of the bag.

“Hey, Mae,” Shawn says. He looks down at me and runs his thumb across my bottom lip. “Yeah. We’re together.”

Finally,” she squeals, and I’ve never heard her so excited about something. “Do Dad and Maggie know? Please don’t swear me to secrecy—this is too good not to share.”

“They know,” I say. “This is the first time we’re seeing them since we spilled the beans, though, so prepare your eardrums. You know Mags is going to flip out.”

I take Shawn’s hand in mine, and we walk into the apartment. It feels exactly like it did four days ago when we were here last, with the heat set at sixty-eight and the scent of a candle lingering in the air. My shoulders relax at the familiarity, at the feeling of home.

My best friend pops her head up from behind a cabinet and stomps toward the foyer like she’s been summoned. She puts her hands on her hips and looks between me and Shawn. “You assholes have a lot of explaining to do. But, hell, I’m so happy for you,” she says, before pulling us into a tight embrace.

“Hey, Mags.” Shawn hugs her back and kisses her cheek. “We’re ready for the interrogation.”

“Thank god, because the anticipation has been killing me.” Maggie leads us to the living room. “Get comfortable. I’m not letting you leave until I know every detail.”

We take a spot on the couch, side by side, and Maven sits in a chair across from us. She won’t stop grinning, and it makes me laugh.

“I kind of feel like an animal at the zoo,” I whisper to Shawn. “Everyone’s going to point at us.”

“Which animal would you be? I kind of want to be a gorilla. Maybe a lion,” he whispers back.

“I’d want to be a sloth. There’s no need to hurry; people expect you to take eight hours to do a single task. Sloths seem so unbothered, too, which I love.”

“It’s been fun to slow down, hasn’t it?”

“Yeah.” I grin and touch the jut of his chin. “It has been.”

“There are the lovebirds,” Aiden says as he walks into the living room and tugs a sweatshirt over his head. “I could hear Maggie yell at you from down the hall.”

“Any bets on how many times they call us that tonight?” Shawn asks me out of the corner of his mouth, and I burst out laughing. “I think at least fifteen, but no more than twenty.”

“I’m going with twenty-one. They’ve been waiting for this moment since the day you and I met.”

“You’re on, Daniels.”

Maggie and Aiden sit on the couch to our right. She leans forward and drops her elbows to her knees. “Please start talking.”

“We all know about the kiss cam kiss. That’s where all of this started. I went over to Shawn’s the day the video got out and proposed the idea of continuing to pretend to date through the holidays. We made a list of rules, and one of those rules was to not be physically affectionate with each other unless it was necessary,” I say.

“Which I was doing really well with, until Lacey came to my game wearing Dallas’ jersey,” Shawn says. He rolls his eyes but puts his arm around my shoulders, tugging me closer to him. “I pulled her into a supply closet at the arena, we kissed, and I thought it was a one-off, spur-of-the-moment thing.”

“Hang on. The game where you made her meet you in the tunnel?” Maggie asks, and she turns to me, grinning from ear to ear. “No wonder you looked so happy when you came back to our seats, Lace. Must’ve been a hell of a kiss.”

I touch my lips as if I’m there in the closet with him again, the moment that started everything for us. I can feel his hands on my skin and I can see the look in his eyes when he said fuck it.

I’m so glad I wore that jersey to get a rise out of him.

“It was a very, very not nice kiss,” I say.

“I didn’t think anything else would happen,” Shawn says. “We agreed we would still be our normal selves, and I thought that was that. We had the rules we were going to stick to, and it was a heated moment. Then Lacey came to my apartment again with a different proposition.”

“One night together,” I say, taking over. “We had chemistry when we kissed, and I thought if we had a quick hookup, we could get whatever tension and attraction was happening between us out of our systems and go our separate ways.”

“Way to go Aunt Lacey,” Maven says, and Aiden shoots her a sharp look.

“Don’t get any ideas, kid,” he says.

“The plan would’ve worked, but it wasn’t just one night. It was more kissing. More hooking up. Everything started to feel less fake and more real. There was a night at my parents’ house when we were sitting out on the roof. I looked at her, and I knew,” Shawn says, and his voice turns soft. A story only for me. “I knew I was in love with her. Getting to have her as mine—even if it was just pretend—showed me I never wanted to give her up.”

“So you’re telling me you two have been sleeping together for a month, and we had no idea?” Maggie asks. “How did—when—I can’t believe we missed the signs.”

“Looking back, we were so obvious. Remember the night of the gala when you asked me about the mark on my neck, Mags?” My cheeks turn pink and I bury my face in Shawn’s shoulder so my words come out muffled. “It was a hickey. He helped me get dressed, and one thing led to another.”

“Had to do it, Lace. We were going to an event where you looked hot as sin. I needed the other men there to know you were spoken for,” Shawn says. He lifts me up and settles me in his lap as his arms fold around me. “I’m very protective over what’s mine, and even then, I wanted you for myself.”

“We weren’t hiding our relationship,” I explain. “To us there wasn’t a relationship to hide. We both truly thought this was physical. The first time we slept together wasn’t because we were emotionally invested in each other. We both had a goal, and we figured we could have a little fun along the way. Over time, it turned real. I look at Shawn and—” I stop to take a breath. To control my heart that’s racing a mile a minute in my chest. “I feel this immense joy, deep in my soul, when I see him. I’ve never experienced that with anyone else.”

“When did you know?” Shawn asks. “What was the moment for you?”

“The first night we were at your parents’ house, I thought about being with you when you had gray hair. It was the first time I actively realized I didn’t want this to have an end date. I saw a future, and I saw it with you. I held onto that pull I experienced toward you because I was afraid. You’re safe. You’ve always been safe. Taking the leap and letting you in as someone more than the guy who stops by my office and brings me coffee… it was scary. But I’m so glad I jumped.”

“I am, too. You know I’ll always be there to catch you when you fall, Lacey girl,” he says.

I do know that.

He’d go to the ends of the world for me, and I’d do the same for him.

Shawn bends down and kisses me, and I smile against his lips while our friends cheer. I forgot they were in the room for a minute, too pulled into his orbit to remember anyone else.

“I’m happy for you two,” Aiden says, and I look his way.

He wipes his eyes, and I frown. “Aiden, why are you crying? This is a good thing.”

“I know it is. I just love love so much, and you two are fucking happy. Fucking finally,” he adds, and Shawn shimmies me out of his lap so he can stand and give his best friend a hug.

“I am happy,” I hear Shawn say. “I’ve never been happier.”

I haven’t either.

“THAT WENT WELL.” I watch Shawn in the bathroom mirror as he moves around his bedroom. “I’m glad everyone’s okay with us being together.”

“I also feel really dumb for not realizing everyone else clearly noticed that we liked each other before we did.” He pulls his sleep shirt over his head and runs his fingers through his hair. “Guess you really have been flirting with me for almost two years, Daniels.”

“Maybe you were the one flirting with me.” I put my toothbrush in the holder next to his on the vanity. He handed it to me the night we got back from Denver, just before he showed me the space he made in his closet and dressers for my things. “Maven did say you were always looking at me.”

“That’s funny, because every time I was looking at you, I saw you looking at me, too,” he tosses back, and I think he might have a point.

I shut off the bathroom light and shuffle toward the bed. Shawn pats the spot next to him, and I smile as I crawl under the sheets. I turn on my side and reach for his hand. “Back to work for me tomorrow. I’ve kind of forgotten that the rest of the world exists.”

“I’ll bring you lunch. Or coffee. Anything, really, so I can find an excuse to stop by and see you.” His phone buzzes on the nightstand, and he frowns as he checks his text messages. “Huh.”

“What?” I rest my chin on his shoulder and read the screen. “Why is your publicist reaching out to you so late at night?”

“We’re playing the Cincinnati Renegades this weekend. Theo Asher, their quarterback, is the guy dating Ella Wright, that big pop star everyone loves. Haley said Ella’s agent reached out to her and asked if you’d be interested in sharing a suite with her.”

“I’m sorry—what?” I sit up and gape at him. “You’re telling me the woman who sells out every stadium in the country wants to sit with me and watch a football game?”

Shawn chuckles and rubs little circles on my back. “I guess so. Haley says Ella loves our love story and wants to meet you.”

“What if she writes a song about us? She could call it… hang on.” I push up onto my knees and stretch my arms out to my sides. “Love through a lens. Come on. How good is that?”

“I love it. You’re a creative genius,” he says, and I know he’s giving me shit. “What do you want me to tell her?”

“You tell her yes, Shawn Holmes. A hundred percent hell fucking yes. Oh, my god. Wait. Her boyfriend plays for the other team. Isn’t that like, a conflict of interest?”

“It’s a football game, baby. You’re not trying to represent a family member in court. You’re allowed to sit with whoever you want.”

“If I’m going to be caught on camera at another football game, being next to Ella Wright is a hell of a lot cooler than having some guy not kiss me,” I say, and I flop back against the pillows. “This is amazing. I’m so glad you’re rich and famous.”

“I’m going to buy you a dictionary so you can learn what the definition of famous is, because it is not me.” Shawn tosses his phone to the side and leans into my space. “But I’m glad you’re happy.”

“You could have nothing to your name and I’d be happy with you, Shawn.” I touch his cheek, and he turns his head to kiss my palm. “You’re the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.”

“You and me, Lacey girl. I’m going to be pulling you into supply closets until the end of time. Bringing you home for Christmas and spending late January with your parents. I’m going to keep loving you, when I’m on the field and when I’m off. And, most importantly, we’re going to have a big family together. We’ll have matching pajama sets and create our own traditions,” he whispers in my ear. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Shawn,” I whisper back. “But if you think for a second I’m going to let you win another snowball fight, you’ve got another thing coming.”

“You’re cute when you’re delusional,” he says, and he presses himself above me. “If you want to touch me, you could just ask.”

I roll my eyes and grab a pillow from behind my head. I smack him in the face with it, and his laughter rings in my ears until the early morning when he holds me close and I know I’m home.


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