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

“Hardin . . .” My mum’s voice is quiet and comforting as she hugs me and I shake in her arms.

 

chapter eighty-one

TESSA

The moment Karen leaves to take Landon to the airport, I instantly feel it. I feel the loneliness creeping in, but I have to ignore it. I have to. I’m fine by myself. I walk downstairs to the kitchen after my stomach’s refusal to stop growling reminds me how hungry I am.

Ken is leaning against the kitchen counter, tearing back the foil wrapper on a light blue frosted cupcake. “Hey, Tessa.” He smiles, taking a small bite. “Grab one.”

My grandmother used to tell me that cupcakes are food for the soul. If I need anything, it’s something for my soul.

“Thank you.” I smile before licking a stripe across the top.

“Don’t thank me, thank Karen.”

“I will.” This cupcake tastes incredible. Maybe it’s because I’ve barely eaten in the last nine days, or maybe it’s because cupcakes truly are good for the soul. Regardless of the reason, I finish it in less than two minutes.

After the glow of the treat washes away, I can feel that the pain is still present, steady as my heartbeat. But it’s no longer overwhelming me, no longer pulling me under.

Ken surprises me by saying, “It’ll get easier, and you’ll find someone who is capable of loving another person besides themselves.”

My stomach churns from his sudden subject change. I don’t want to backtrack, I want to move forward.

“I treated Hardin’s mum terribly. I know I did. I would leave for days at a time, I would lie, I would drink until I couldn’t see straight. If it weren’t for Christian, I don’t know how Trish and Hardin would ever have made it through . . .”

With his words, I remember my anger toward Ken when I heard about the origin of Hardin’s nightmares. I remember wanting to slap him right across his face for ever letting anything hurt his son in that way, so when he says this, it stirs my stored anger. I ball my fists.

“I will never be able to take any of that back, no matter how hard I wish that I could. I wasn’t good for her and I knew it. She was too good for me and I knew that, too. So did everyone else. Now she has Mike, who I know will treat her the way she deserves to be treated. There’s a Mike for you, too, I know it,” he says, looking at me in a fatherly way. “My son hopefully will be lucky enough to find his Karen later in life when he grows up and stops fighting everything and everyone along the way.”

At the mention of Hardin with “his Karen,” I swallow and look away. I don’t want to imagine Hardin with anyone else. It’s way too soon. I do wish that for him, though; I would never wish for him to be alone for the rest of his life. I just hope he finds someone who he loves as much as Ken loves Karen so that he can have a second chance to love someone more than he loved me.