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

She’s absentmindedly pushing an asparagus spear across her plate repeatedly. I know she doesn’t like them, but she’s too polite to not eat something someone else has prepared for her. I watch her as she closes her eyes and brings the vegetable to her mouth, and I almost smile when she tries her best to not appear disgusted as she washes the bite down with water, then pats her lips with a napkin.

She catches me staring at her, and I immediately look away. I can see the pain behind her blue-gray eyes. Pain that I’ve caused. Pain that will only stop if I stay away from her and let her move on.

All our unspoken words float in the air between us . . . and she directs her attention back to her plate.

I don’t look up again during the sumptuous meal, of which I barely take five bites. Even when I hear Trevor talking to Tessa about Seattle, I keep my eyes averted. For the first time in my life I wish I was someone else. I would give anything to be Trevor, to be able to make her happy, and not hurt her.

Throughout the meal, Tessa answers his questions briefly, and I know she’s thankful when Karen begins to talk about Landon and his longtime girlfriend in New York.

The sounds of a fork against a glass ring through the room, and Christian stands up and says, “If I could have everyone’s attention , please . . .” He taps it one more time, then chuckles and adds, “I better stop before I break it,” giving Tessa a whimsical look.

Her cheeks flush, and I have to press my hands down against my thighs to hold myself in the chair and not tackle him to the ground for embarrassing her. I know he’s only teasing, but it’s still a dick move.

“Thank you all so much for coming, it means the world to me to have everyone that I love here with us. I am beyond proud of the work that everyone in this room has done, and I couldn’t possibly be making this move without you all. You’re the best team I could ever hope for. Who knows—maybe next year we’ll even be opening an office in Los Angeles or even New York, so I can drive you all batshit crazy with the planning again.” He nods at his own joke, but beams with ambition.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” Kimberly says and smacks his butt.

“And you, especially you, Kimberly. I wouldn’t be anywhere without you.” His tone changes drastically, altering the air in the room as well. He takes her hands in his and moves to stand in front of where she sits. “After Rose died, I was living in complete darkness. The days came and went in a blur, and I never thought I would be happy again. I didn’t think I was capable of loving anyone else; I had accepted that it would just be Smith and me. Then one day this bubbly blonde crashes into my office, ten minutes late for her interview and with the most hideous coffee stain on her white blouse—and that was it for me. I was captivated by her spirit and your energy.” He turns to Kimberly. “You gave me life when I had none left in me. No one could ever replace Rose, and you knew that. But you didn’t try to replace her—you welcomed her memory and helped me get my life back. I only wish I had met you sooner, so I wasn’t miserable for so long first.” He laughs a little, trying to draw back on the emotionality of the moment, but he fails.