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

“It’s really good!” I say overenthusiastically, to soften the blow of the kid still not wanting to speak to her.

She gives me an appreciative smile but doesn’t meet my eyes. The rest of the meal is eaten in silence.

While Tessa cleans up the kitchen, I head back into the living room. I can hear the small footsteps following me.

“Can I help you?” I ask and plop down on the couch.

“No.” He shrugs, turning his attention to the television.

“Okay, then . . .” There is literally nothing on tonight.

“Is my dad going to die?” the small voice next to me suddenly asks.

I look at him. “What?”

“My dad, will he be dead?” Smith asks, though he looks pretty unfazed by the whole topic.

“No, he’s just sick with food poisoning or something.”

“My mom was sick and now she’s dead,” he says, and the little quaver in his voice makes me realize he’s not immune to the worry, causing me to choke on my own breath.

“Erm . . . yeah. That was different.” Poor kid.

“Why?”

Christ, he asks so many questions. I want to call for Tess, but something about the worried expression on his face stops me. He won’t even speak to her, so I don’t think he would want me to bring her in here.

“Your dad is just a little sick . . . and your mum was really sick. Your dad will be fine.”

“Are you lying?” He speaks well beyond his years, sort of the way I always have.

I suppose that is what happens when you’re forced to grow up too quickly. “No, I would tell you if your dad was going to die,” I say, and mean it.

“You would?” His bright eyes are shining, and I’m terrified that he may cry. I have no fucking idea what I would do if he cried right now. Run. I would run into the other room and hide behind Tessa.

“Yep. Now let’s talk about something a little less morbid.”

“What’s morbid?”

“Something that’s twisted and fucked up,” I explain.

“Bad word,” he scolds me.

“It’s okay for me to say, because I’m an adult.”

“Still a bad word.”

“You said two of them earlier. I could tell your dad on you,” I threaten.

“I’ll tell your pretty girl on you,” he counters, and I can’t help but laugh.

“Okay, okay, you win,” I say, gesturing for him to just stay put.

Tessa peers around the corner. “Smith, do you want to come in here with me?”

Smith looks at her, then looks back up at me and asks, “Can I stay with Hardin?”

“I don’t—” she begins, but I interrupt.

“Fine.” I sigh and hand the kid the remote.

 

chapter seventy-two

TESSA

I watch as Smith settles in on the couch, scooting slightly closer to Hardin. Hardin looks at him with caution but doesn’t stop him or say anything about his proximity. It’s ironic that Smith seems to like Hardin, when Hardin clearly despises children. Though since Smith feels in some ways more like a country gentleman from an Austen novel, he may or may not be included in that category.