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

“We’re leaving,” he growls and goes to wrap his arm around my waist.

I move farther away from him. I look over at Ken as he uses the sleeve of his crisp white button-down to wipe the blood off his mouth.

“You should stay here, Tessa,” Landon urges.

“Don’t fucking start with me, Landon,” Hardin warns, but Landon doesn’t seem to be fazed. He should be.

“Hardin, stop it now,” I snap. When he lets out a breath but doesn’t argue, I turn to Landon. “I’ll be fine.” It’s Hardin he should be worried about.

“Let’s go,” Hardin commands, but as he walks toward the door, he looks back to make sure that I’m behind him.

“I’m sorry . . . about all of this,” I tell Ken as I follow Hardin.

Behind me, I hear him softly say, “It’s not your fault, it’s mine.”

TRISH IS SILENT. Hardin is silent. And I’m freezing. The leather seats are ice-cold on my bare legs, and my wet cardigan isn’t helping either. I turn the heat all the way up, and Hardin looks over at me, but I focus out the window. I can’t decide if I should be angry with him. He ruined dinner and literally assaulted his father in front of everyone.

However, I feel for him. He has been through so much, and his father is the root of all his problems—the nightmares, the anger, the lack of respect for women. He never had anyone to teach him how to be a man.

When Hardin puts his hand on my thigh, I don’t move it. My head is pounding, and I cannot believe the way everything escalated so quickly.

“Hardin, we have to talk about what just happened,” Trish says after a few minutes.

“No, we don’t,” he responds.

“Yes, we do. You were way out of line.”

“I was out of line? How can you forget everything he has done?”

“I have not forgotten anything, Hardin. I have chosen to forgive him; I cannot hold on to anger for him. But violence is always out of line. And even short of that, that type of anger will consume you—it will take over your life if you let it. If you hold on to it, it will destroy you. I do not want to live that way. I want to be happy, Hardin, and forgiving your father makes it much easier for me to be happy.”

Her strength never ceases to amaze me, and Hardin’s stubbornness doesn’t either. He refuses to forgive his father for his past mistakes, yet he’s quick to ask for my forgiveness at every turn. Hardin never forgives himself either, though. Irony at its finest.

“Well, I don’t want to forgive him. I thought I could, but not after today.”

“He didn’t do anything to you today,” Trish scolds him. “You provoked him about his drinking for no good reason.”

Hardin removes his hand from my skin, leaving a smudge of blood behind. “He doesn’t get a free pass, Mum.”