Chapter 36

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Tiana POV

Meeting Tyson's family wasn't ever something I thought we'd get around to. The plan had just enough social awkwardness in it for me to push it to the back of my mind until I didn't really have any other choice but to bring it back to the front. Standing in front of his goddamn door seems to be a good enough time.

I'm not really wearing anything too spectacular. A long-sleeve plaid shirt with my hoodie open over it and skinny jeans that Amanda leant me. Stubborn as I am, I decided I wasn't going to make this a big deal. Friends meet other friend's family all the time, right?

Tyson, the fucker that he is, seems to be trying to keep up the act that this is nothing to him. But his shoulders are tensed and taunt and his smiles are quick and look more like grimaces than anything else. My palms are sweating and I push them into the pockets of my hoodie, discreetly trying to wipe them. Tyson shoots me a quick smirk though so I don't think I'm all that discreet.

"Your brother is 12, right?" I ask Tyson, just to make sure his little brother hasn't magically turned into a 20-something year old that could smush me to the ground if he wanted to. In a world filled with possibilities it's important not to rule out one, right?

Tyson rolls his eyes before saying, "Yes, he's 12. No, he's not going to hate you. Yes, my mom still likes you and hasn't suddenly decided that you were the plague come back. Don't worry too much."

"You're one to talk," I mutter and his smile twists into something sheepish enough to relax me, just a bit.

He lifts his hand to knock on the door and my heart beats dramatically in my chest. I'm mentally telling it to slow the fuck down when Tyson takes my hand in his, looking anywhere but at me. It's just romantic enough to make me blush but platonic enough for me to wonder if I should let it happen. He squeezes my hand, just a little, and I wonder why I thought I should let go.

He knocks the door and my heartbeat picks up again, beating around in my chest like it's trying to burst out and tell me this is a bad idea. I hear a familiar voice say "Jared, get the door for me will you?" and my hands are still clasped around Tyson's and I hear feet running towards the door and it's all just verging on the boyfriend-brings-his-girlfriend-home situation enough for me to pull my hand out of his. He looks at me like he was expecting it and I look away because I knew he was. Predictability was never something I wanted to associate with myself.

"Hi," a voice by the door says. It's a young boy, blonde as they come and eyes too grey to be blue but too blue to be grey. He smiles a little and his dimples pop out. I smile back.

"Uh... hi. I'm Tiana. Tyson talks a lot about you."

"Well, he should. I'm the better of the two of us."

The answer catches me off guard and it bursts a surprised laugh out of me. He looks proud of himself, in the way little kids are when they think they act the way grown ups do. I don't know if I'm qualified to be a grown up, head in all wrong places that it is, but I have no other choice than to let him have this victory. He deserves it.

"Well, you're right about that," I say, and the little boy preens a little while Tyson gasps. He looks like something soft, though, so I don't take it seriously.

"Treason," he says, punctuated by a laugh that opposes his words.

"It's the truth, peasant," the little boy says and I laugh again while Tyson huffs up like a bristled bird.

"Aren't you a charming young boy," I say. Tyson mutters something under his breath about "devil brothers" that I don't think I have any business acknowledging.

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