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

“Tessa, what are you doing here?” he asks. As I wipe at the makeup around my eyes, he asks his new girl, “Can you give us a minute?”

She looks at me, then nods and goes back into the building hallway.

“I can’t believe you’re here,” he says and walks into the kitchen. He removes his jacket, which makes his plain white T-shirt ride up and reveal the tanned skin of his torso. The ink there, the twisted, angry branches of the dead tree on his stomach, taunt me. Calling out to be touched. I love that tattoo, it’s my favorite that he has. Only now I see the parallel between him and the tree. Both unfeeling. Both alone. At least the tree has hope to bloom again. Hardin does not.

“I . . . I was just leaving.” I manage to say. He looks so perfect, so beautiful. Such a beautiful disaster.

“Please just let me explain myself,” he begs, and I notice the dark circles under his eyes are even more prominent than mine.

“No.” I reach for my bags again, but he grabs them from me and drops them back onto the floor.

“Two minutes, that’s all I’m asking for, Tess.”

Two minutes is too long to be here with Hardin, but this is the closure I know I need in order to move on with my life. I sigh and sit down, trying to hold back any noise that would betray my neutral expression. Hardin is clearly surprised, but quickly takes the seat across from me.

“You sure moved on fast,” I say quietly, lifting my chin toward the door.

“What?” Hardin says, then seems to remember the brunette. “She works with me; her husband is downstairs with their newborn daughter. They’re looking for a new place, so she wanted to see our . . . the layout.”

“You’re moving?” I ask.

“No, not if you’ll stay, but I don’t see the point in staying here without you. I’m just going over my options here.”

Something in me is slightly relieved, but then immediately a more defensive part of me notes that just because he isn’t sleeping with the brunette doesn’t mean he won’t be sleeping with someone else soon. I ignore the twinge of sorrow that comes along with Hardin talking about moving out, even though I won’t be here when he does.

“You think I would bring someone back here to our apartment? It’s only been two days—is that how you think of me?”

He has some nerve. “Yes! Of course it is—now!”

When I nod viciously at this, pain flashes across his face. But after a moment he just sighs in defeat. “Where did you stay last night? I went to my father’s and you weren’t there.”

“My mother’s.”

“Oh.” He looks down at his hands. “Did you guys work everything out?”

I stare directly into his eyes—I can’t believe he has the nerve to ask me about my family. “That’s no longer any of your business.”

He starts to reach out to me, but stops. “I miss you so much, Tessa.”