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"Your brother is in a lot of trouble. I don't want to soft-pedal it to you."
"I know," Marissa said.
"But . . . I could put in a good word for him. I guess."
She could tell what that offer cost Clint, and her heart swelled. She was on her feet, her tears breaking through the dam. "That would be great. That's all I'm asking." Before she could consider her actions, she'd closed the space between them and put her arms around him. "He's not a bad person," she said, still sobbing. "You'll see when you meet him. You'll see."
Reluctantly, it seemed, Clint returned the embrace. He sifted her hair through his fingers and patted her back. "Don't cry, Marissa. I can't stand women crying."
"I'll t-try to stop." She pulled away slightly, embarrassed that her tears had made a damp spot on Clint's T-shirt. She was just so tired, that was all.
Clint looked down at her, then took her chin and tilted her face toward his. "Try a little harder, okay?" Then he touched his lips to hers . . .