By ANDREA MAGRATH
Caught! Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are spotted holding hands during a stroll at Santa Monica Pier yesterday
Perhaps they thought that, with everyone else at home watching the Super Bowl, their public display of affection would go undetected.
Justin Bieber, 16, and Selena Gomez were spotted for the first time publicly holding hands during a romantic stroll down Santa Monica Pier yesterday.
The cute couple looked sheepish and giggled when they realised they'd been caught, with Disney star Selena, 18, hiding her face.
Oh no! Disney star Selena giggles and hides her face after realising they'd been caught
But perhaps Bieber has tired of the cloak and dagger antics required to keep his love interests safe from his army of fans, and defiantly grabbed Selena's hand again.
The Wizards of Waverly Place star looked a little taken aback by her boyfriend's openness, and it took a little convincing from Justin before she obliged, onlookers
Her hesitation is understandable. Reality star Kim Kardashian received death threats from hundreds of 'Beliebers' when she and the Baby singer joked about a mutual crush.
I won't let the Beliebers hurt you: Justin managed to convince his girlfriend to take his hand again
But while the 30-year-old's flirtation with the superstar was light-hearted joking, it seems Selena and Justin are the real deal.
The pair were first linked back in November but have maintained an official line of 'just friends' until recently.
They've been seen out and about together on several occasions, always careful to keep a safe distance and Selena describing Justin as 'family' and 'a good kid.'
Secret's out: The pair have maintained an official line of 'just friends' despite being linked since November
Dropping their guard: Selena's hesitation to go public is understandable, after Kim Kardashian received death threats for flirting with Bieber
But after blurry pictures of the couple looking very affectionate on a yacht in the Caribbean surfaced over New Year, the industry's worst-kept secret was out.
Recently, a bold fan quizzed Justin during an MTV question and answer session if he was dating the Disney singer and actress.
He coyly replied: 'I think anyone would be lucky to date her. She’s a great person.'
Tween love: The pair, picture din Miami in December, have always kept a safe distance in public, but pictures of them kissing on a yacht over New Year confirmed their romance
Selena has described how she met the fellow star: 'When he first started to come over from Canada his manager contacted me and he just said that he would like to meet me and he was just such a good kid…' she said.
'I feel like a big sister now, because I want to protect him.'
Bieber is currently promoting his new fly-on-the-wall film Never Say Never, which opens in the UK on February 18.
Justin Bieber Saturday Night Live SNL Skit 3D Pray Baby Never Say Never Movie Super Bowl