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

Day nine is today.

“I’ll be downstairs!” Landon calls through the door of “my” bedroom.

No one has even mentioned me leaving, or where I would go if I did. I’m grateful for it, but at the same time I know my presence will eventually be a burden. Landon keeps assuring me that I can stay as long as I need to, and Karen reminds me how much she enjoys my company multiple times a day. But at the end of the day, they’re Hardin’s family. I want to make a move forward, decide where I should go and where I should live, and I’m no longer afraid.

I cannot, and refuse to, spend another day crying over a dishonest boy with tattoos who doesn’t love me anymore.

When I see Landon downstairs, he’s taking a large bite of a bagel; a dab of cream cheese rests in the corner of his mouth and his tongue darts out to retrieve it. “Morning.” He smiles, his cheek full and eyes wide.

“Morning,” I repeat and pour a glass of water.

He continues to stare at me while I sip my water. “What?” I finally ask him.

“You . . . well . . . you look great,” he says.

“Thank you. I decided to shower and come back from the dead,” I joke, and he smiles slowly as if he’s unsure about my mental state. “Really, it’s fine,” I assure him, and he takes another bite of his bagel, finishing it.

I decide to put one in the toaster for myself and try not to notice Landon staring at me like I’m an animal in a zoo.

“I’m ready whenever you are,” I tell him after finishing my breakfast.

“Tessa, you look so gorgeous today!” Karen exclaims when she enters the kitchen.

“Thank you.” I smile at her.

Today’s the first day that I’ve taken the time to get ready, really ready and presentable. The last eight days I have gone far away from my usual neat appearance. Today I feel like myself. My new self. My “After Hardin” self. Day nine is my day.

“That dress is flattering.” Karen compliments me again.

The yellow dress that Trish got me for Christmas fits well and it’s very casual. I’m not going to make the same mistake as last time and attempt to wear heels to classes, so my Toms it is. Half of my hair is pinned back, with a few loose curls tapering over my face. My makeup is subtle, but I think it suits me well. My eyes burned slightly as I dragged the brown liner underneath my eye . . . makeup surely wasn’t on my list of priorities during my downward spiral.

“Thank you so much.” I smile again.

“Have a great day.” Karen smiles, clearly surprised but very pleased at my return to the real world.

This must be what it’s like to have a caring mother, someone to send you off to school with kind and encouraging words. Someone unlike my mother.

My mother . . . I have dodged all calls from her, and thankfully so. She was the last person I wanted to speak to, but now that I can breathe without wanting to rip my heart from my chest, I actually want to call her.