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

When I look over at Zed, he’s staring off into the darkness. Why is this so awkward? His hand moves to his stomach, and he appears to be scratching the skin. When he lifts his shirt up slightly, I see a white bandage.

“What’s that?” I ask nosily.

“A tattoo. I just got it done before I came here.”

“Can I see it?”

“Yeah . . .” He shrugs his jacket off and sets it down next to him, then pulls back the tape and bandage.

“It’s dark over here,” he says, pulling out his phone to use the screen as a light.

“Clockwork?” I ask him.

Without thinking, I run my index finger across the ink. He flinches but doesn’t move away. The tattoo is large, covering most of the skin on his stomach. The rest of his skin is covered by smaller, seemingly random tattoos. The new tattoo is a cluster of gears; they appear to be moving, but I’m going to say that’s just the vodka.

My finger is still tracing his warm skin when I suddenly realize what I’m doing. “Sorry . . .” I squeak and jerk my hand away.

“It’s fine . . . but, yeah, it’s sort of like clockwork. See how the skin appears to be torn right here?” He points to the edges of the tattoo, and I nod.

He shrugs. “It’s like when the skin is pulled back, what is underneath is mechanical. Like I’m a robot or something.”

“Whose robot?” I don’t know why I asked that.

“Society’s, I guess.”

“Oh . . .” is all I say. That’s a much more complex answer than I expected. “That’s actually really cool; I get it.” I smile, my head swimming from the alcohol.

“I don’t know if people will get the whole concept. You’re the only person so far that gets it.”

“How many more tattoos do you want?” I ask.

“I don’t know, I don’t have any more room on my arms, and now my stomach, so I guess I’ll stop when there isn’t any room.” He laughs.

“I should get a tattoo,” I blurt.

“You?” He laughs loudly.

“Yeah! Why not?” I say with joke indignation. Getting a tattoo sounds like a good idea at the moment. I have no idea what I would get, but it sounds fun. Adventurous and fun.

“I think you drank way too much,” he teases, rubbing his fingers over the tape to reattach the bandage to his skin.

“You don’t think I could handle it?” I challenge.

“No, it’s not that. I just . . . I don’t know. I can’t imagine you having a tattoo. What would you even get?” He tries not to laugh.

“I don’t know . . . like a sun? Or a smiley face?”

“A smiley face? This is definitely the vodka talking here.”

“Probably.” I giggle. Then, when I’m quiet, I say, “I thought you were mad at me.”

His expression changes from laughing to neutral. “Why did you think that?” he asks quietly.

“Because you avoided me until Tristan made you play beer pong.”