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

“I don’t know why I said that . . .” I flush. I’ve never called him anything other than Hardin, so it does feel a little odd to call him “babe” like he does me.

“No . . . I like it.” He smiles.

“I’ve missed your smile,” I tell him, and his fingers stop their movements.

“I’ve missed yours, too.” He frowns. “I don’t make you smile enough.”

I want to say something to remove that doubt from his face, but I don’t want to lie to him. He needs to know how I feel. “Yeah . . . we need to work on that,” I say.

His fingers move again, drawing little hearts on my palm. “I don’t know why you love me.”

“It doesn’t matter why I love you, only that I do.”

“The letter was stupid, wasn’t it?”

“No! Would you stop with the self-loathing? It was wonderful. I read it three times straight. It really made me happy to read the things that you were thinking about me . . . about us.”

He looks up, half smirking, half concerned. “You knew I loved you.”

“Yes . . . but it was nice to know the small things, the way you remembered what I was wearing. Those types of things. You never say those types of things.”

“Oh.” He looks embarrassed. It is still slightly unnerving to have Hardin be the vulnerable one in our relationship. That role has always been mine.

“Don’t be embarrassed,” I say.

His arms wrap around my waist and pull me onto his lap. “I’m not,” he lies.

I run one of my hands through his hair and wrap my other arm around his shoulder. “I think you are,” I challenge softly, and he laughs, burying his head in my neck.

“What a Christmas Eve. It’s been a long-ass day,” he complains, and I can’t help but agree.

“Way too long. I can’t believe my mother came here. She is so unbelievable.”

“Not really,” he says, and I pull back to look at him.

“What?”

“She’s not being unreasonable, really. Yeah, she goes about it the wrong way, but I can’t blame her for not wanting you to be with someone like me.”

Tired of this talk, and his notion that my mother is somehow right about him, I scowl at him and move off of his lap to sit next to him on the bed.

“Tess, don’t look at me like that. I’m just saying that now that I’ve really thought about all the shit I’ve done, I don’t blame her for worrying.”

“Well, she’s wrong, and we can stop talking about her,” I whine. The emotional turmoil of the day—of the year, really—is making me tired and cranky. The year is almost over. I can’t believe it.

“Okay, so what would you like to talk about?” he asks.

“I don’t know . . . something lighter.” I smile, convincing myself to be less cranky. “Like how romantic you can be.”

“I am not romantic,” he scoffs.

“Yes, you most certainly are. That letter was one for the classics,” I tease.