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

“Because, Hardin”—she sighs, lifting her hands as if it’s obvious—“you aren’t good for her. You know you aren’t. I don’t want to see her end up like Natalie, or the others.” My mum shakes her head.

“Do you know what will happen to me if she leaves me, Mum? I don’t think you understand . . . I cannot be without her. I know I’m not good for her, and I regret what I did every single time I look at her, but I can be good for her. I know I can be.” I walk to the middle of the living room and start pacing back and forth.

“Hardin . . . are you sure you aren’t just feeding into your own game right now?”

“No, Mum . . .” I lower my head to try and keep calm. “This isn’t a game to me—not this time. I love her, I really love her.” I look up at my good, kind mother, who I know has had to endure so much. “I love her more than I can even begin to tell you, because I don’t even understand it myself. I never thought I could or would feel this way. All I know is that she’s my only shot at happiness . If she leaves me, I’ll never recover. I won’t, Mum. She’s the only chance I have to not be alone for the rest of my life. I don’t know what the fuck I did to deserve her—nothing I know—but she loves me. Do you know how that feels to have someone love you despite all the fucked-up shit you do? She’s way too good for me, and she loves me. I have no fucking clue why.”

My mum wipes at her eyes with the back of her hand, making me pause for a moment. It’s hard to go on, but I say, “She’s always there for me, Mum. She always forgives me, even when she shouldn’t. She always says the right thing. She calms me, but challenges me—she makes me want to be a better man. I know I’m a shitty person, I know that. I have done so much shit, but Tessa can’t leave me. I don’t want to be alone anymore, and I’ll never love anyone again—she is it for me. I know it. She’s my ultimate sin, Mum, and I’ll gladly be damned for her.”

I’m out of breath by the time I finish, and my mum’s cheeks are wet. But she’s also staring behind me.

I turn to find Tessa with her hands at her sides, her eyes wide and her cheeks just as wet as my mum’s.

My mum blows her nose, then softly says, “I’m going to go out for a little while . . . give you two some privacy.” She goes over to the door, grabs her shoes and coat, and heads out.

I feel kind of bad that there aren’t many places for her to go on Christmas Eve, especially in the snow, but I need to be alone with Tessa right now. As soon as my mum is out the door, I pad across the room to her.