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

“I don’t know why, but I almost called you ‘babe’ again.” I bring my bottom lip between my teeth, and his smile grows.

“Go ahead, call me it,” he says.

“You’ll make fun of me.” I smile weakly.

“No, I won’t. I call you ‘baby’ all the time.”

“Yeah . . . but it’s different when you do it.”

“How so?”

“I don’t know . . . it’s, like, sexier or something when you do . . . more romantic. I don’t know.” I flush.

“You’re awfully shy today.” He smiles and plants a kiss on my forehead. “I like it, though. So go ahead and call me it.”

I hug him tighter. “Okay.”

“Okay what?”

“Okay . . . babe.” The word tastes strange rolling off of my tongue.

“Again.”

I let out a surprised squeak as he lifts me onto the cold countertop and stands between my legs. “Okay, babe!” I repeat.

His cheeks are a deeper shade of pink than usual. “I really love that. It’s . . . what did you say? Sexy and romantic?” He smiles.

A sudden bravery makes me speak again. “Is it, babe?” I smile and bite my lip again.

“Yes . . . incredibly sexy.” He presses his lips against my neck, and I shiver as his hands trail up my thighs.

“Don’t think these will keep me out.” His fingers draw circles on my black tights.

“They may not, but the . . . you know will.”

A knock at the door makes me jump, and Hardin smiles and winks at me. As he walks to the door, he says over his shoulder, “Oh, baby . . . that won’t either.”

 

chapter fifty-one

HARDIN

When I open the door, my attention is immediately drawn to my dad’s face. A deep purple bruise is clear on his cheek, and his bottom lip holds a small cut right down the center.

I nod as my greeting to them, not knowing what the hell to say.

“Your place is so lovely.” Karen smiles, and the three of them stand by the door, unsure what to do.

Tessa saves all of us by walking into the room. “Come on in. You can put those by the tree,” she says to Landon, gesturing to the bag of gifts in his arms.

“We brought the gifts you left at the house as well,” my dad says.

The air is thick with tension—not an angry tension, exactly, but really damn awkward tension.

Tess smiles sweetly. “Thank you so much.” She’s so good at making people feel welcome. At least one of us is.

Landon walks to the kitchen first, followed by Karen and Ken. I reach for Tessa’s hand, using her as an anchor for my anxiety.

“How was the drive?” Tessa tries to start conversation.

“It wasn’t too bad; I drove,” Landon answers.

The conversation flows from uncomfortable at first to somewhat relaxed as we eat. In between courses, Tessa squeezes my hand under the table.

“The food was excellent,” Karen compliments, looking at Tessa.

“Oh, I didn’t make it, Hardin did,” Tessa tells her and places her hand on my thigh.