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After We Collided (After, #2) by Anna Todd Read Online (FREE)

“I know him, Mother,” I say through my teeth.

My mother turns her attention to Hardin. I don’t know why she’s not afraid of him, the way his chest is heaving up and down, the way his cheeks are flaring with anger, the way his fists are clenched into balls so tightly that his knuckles are white. He should intimidate her, but she’s unfazed as she says, “Boy, if you care for her, even a little bit, you will tell her to go. You have done nothing but break her down. She isn’t the same girl that I dropped off at college three months ago, and that’s your fault. You didn’t have to see her cry for days over what you did to her. You were probably partying with another girl while she was crying herself to sleep. You have destroyed her—how can you even live with yourself? You know you’ll hurt her again sooner or later. So if you have one decent bone in your body, you’ll tell her . . . tell her to come with me.”

The silence in the room is chilling.

Trish stands silently staring at the wall, deep in thought, likely mulling over Hardin’s past actions. My mother is glaring at Hardin, waiting for his response. Hardin is breathing so hard he may combust. And me, I’m trying to decide which will win the battle inside of me: my heart or my head?

“I’m not going with you,” I finally say.

In response to my decision—my adult decision, one that I know will have consequences I will have to deal with, that will make me endure some very difficult things as I try to figure out whether I can be with the man I love or not—my mother rolls her eyes.

And I lose it.

“You aren’t welcome here—don’t ever come back!” I scream with a bloody rawness in my throat. “Who do you think you are, busting in here, and with the nerve to talk to him that way!” I push past Hardin and come face-to-face with her. “I want nothing to do with you! No one does! That’s why you’re alone after all these years—you are cruel and conceited! You will never be happy!” I take a breath and swallow, feeling just how dry my throat is.

My mother stares me down with full self-assurance, and more than a little scorn. “I am alone because I choose to be. I don’t have the need to be with someone; I’m not like you.”

“Like me! I don’t need to be with anyone! You basically forced me to be with Noah—I never felt like I had a choice in anything! You have always controlled me—and I am done. I am fucking done!” The tears erupt from me then.

My mother quirks her lips, like she’s considering something in earnest, but her voice is full of sarcasm. “It’s obvious that you have some codependency issues. Is this because of your father?”

My eyes sore, surely bloodshot, and filled with every evil I want to inflict on her, I stare at her. Speaking slowly at first, I feel myself frantically escalating as I say, “I hate you. I really hate you. You’re the reason he left. Because he couldn’t stand you! And I don’t blame him—in fact, I wish he would have taken—”