It looks like Hayden Panettiere and boyfriend Brian Hickerson have taken the next step in their relationship, according to reports from E! Online.
The star of Nashville and the new man in her life were photographed holding hands in Florida during a visit to Panettiere’s family. Panettiere and Hickerson have been an official couple since August, as the actress moved on from the conclusion of her nine-year relationship with heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko.
While meeting the family is a big event, the couple showed no signs of formality in how they dressed. Both kept it super casual, with Panettiere wearing a simple T-shirt and jeans combo with black boots and her hair tied in a bun, while Hickerson wore a baseball cap alongside a black T-shirt and jeans.
Rumors of this new couple began to circulate after the pair were caught getting cozy after having dinner together at Craig’s in Hollywood, a source told E! Online. In the time since, Hickerson has relocated from his home state of South Carolina to Los Angeles to pursue his twin dreams of “real estate and acting.”
Panettiere and Hickerson were introduced by a mutual friend. The source reveals that upon meeting, the couple “hit it off” and the rest is history.
Not long after the couple made their first public appearance in Hollywood, the couple made a less impromptu appearance when they attended the premiere of Breaking and Exiting together in Los Angeles. Panettiere was described by the source as “glowing with excitement” while adding, “she definitely was not trying to hide the fact that she has a new boyfriend, and it seemed like everyone in her group of friends got along with him as well.”
Hickerson would go on to post a clip to Instagram in September jokingly shielding Panettiere and a friend of hers from the sun while they napped.
Hickerson jokingly said, “My girlfriend and her best friend from childhood era are taking a nap on the couch, and I have strategically placed pillows so that the sun is not beating on their face. No one likes a terrible tan line. If that’s not dedication, then I don’t know what is.”
He jokingly captioned the photo, “No one will have an uncomfortable afternoon nap session on my watch. #hero,” perhaps unintentionally referencing Panettiere’s role on the television show Heroes.
Panettiere shares a 3-year-old daughter with Klitschko. The former couple is co-parenting their daughter Kaya, who according to the report is “primarily with her dad and his family in Europe and Florida.”