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

“Hi, Karen, it’s nice to meet you, too,” Trish says and shakes her hand.

Just then Ken enters the room and, doing a double take when he sees us, stops dead in his tracks and stares at his ex-wife. I lean into Hardin and hope that Landon told Ken we were coming.

“Hello, Ken,” Trish says, her voice sounding stronger than it’s been all morning.

“Trish . . . wow . . . hello,” he stammers.

Trish, who I’m guessing is pleased by his reaction, nods her head once and says, “You look . . . different.”

I’ve tried to imagine what Ken looked like back then—eyes likely bloodshot from liquor, forehead sweaty, face pale—but I can’t seem to.

“Yeah . . . so do you,” he says.

The awkward tension is making me dizzy, so I’m beyond relieved when Karen suddenly exclaims, “Landon!” and he joins us. Karen’s clearly relieved to see the apple of her eye right now, and he looks the part, dressed in blue slacks and a white dress shirt with a black tie.

“You look beautiful.” He compliments me and pulls me in for a hug.

Hardin’s grip on my hand tightens, but I manage to pull my hand free and hug Landon back. “You look very nice yourself, Landon,” I say.

Hardin hooks his arm around my waist and pulls me back over to him, closer than before. Landon rolls his eyes at Hardin, then turns to Trish. “Hello, ma’am, I’m Landon, Karen’s son. It’s great to finally meet you.”

“Oh, please don’t call me ma’am.” Trish laughs. “But it’s very nice to meet you, too. Tessa has told me a lot about you.”

He smiles. “All good things, I hope.”

“Mostly,” she teases.

Landon’s charm seems to ease some of the tension in the room, and Karen pipes up, “Well, you all are just in time. The goose is ready to be served in just a couple of minutes!”

Ken leads us to the dining room while Karen disappears into the kitchen. I’m not at all surprised to find the table perfectly set with their best china, polished silverware, and elegant wooden napkin rings. Platters of neatly arranged food cover the table. The main goose dish is surrounded by thick slices of oranges. A bundle of red berries rests atop the body. It’s so elegantly arranged, and the smell makes my mouth water. A plate of roasted potatoes is directly in front of me. The scent of garlic and rosemary fills the air, and I admire the rest of the table. A large centerpiece full of flowers and ornaments sits in the middle, and each decoration echoes the same orange-and-berry theme. Karen is always an amazing host.

“Would anyone like a drink? I have some delicious red wine from the cellar,” she says. Her cheeks flush red as she realizes what she just asked. Alcohol is definitely a sensitive subject with this crowd.

Trish smiles. “I would, actually.”

Karen disappears, and we’re so silent that when she pops the cork in the kitchen, it’s a loud sound that feels like it bounces off the walls around us. When she returns with an open bottle, I consider asking for a glass to calm the uneasy feeling in my stomach, but then decide against it. The hostess returned, each of us takes a seat—Ken at the head of the table, Karen, Landon, and Trish on one side of him, Hardin and I on the other. After some “oohs” and “aahs” at the presentation, no one says a word as they fill their plates with food.