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

“Pretty sure. Do you want to play?” Smith asks him.

“No, I don’t.”

“Why?”

“Why do you ask so many questions? You remind—”

“Tessa?” Kimberly’s voice startles me and I nearly scream. She puts a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “Sorry! Have you seen Smith? He took off, and Hardin, of all people, went after him.” She looks confused yet touched by that.

“Um, no.” I hurry down the hallway to avoid the humiliation of being caught by Hardin. I know he heard Kimberly call my name.

When I get back to the dining room, I approach the small group that Christian is speaking with and tell him how much I appreciate him inviting me, and I congratulate him on his engagement. Kimberly appears moments later, and I hug her goodbye before doing the same with Karen and Ken.

I check my phone: ten minutes till eight. Hardin is occupied with Smith and obviously has no intention of speaking to me, and that’s fine. That’s what I need, I don’t need him to apologize and tell me that he’s been miserable without me. I don’t need him to hold me and tell me we’ll find a way to work this out, to fix everything he has broken. I don’t need that. He won’t do it anyway, so it’s pointless to need it.

It hurts less when I don’t need it.

By the time I reach the end of the driveway, I’m freezing. I should’ve worn a jacket—it’s the end of January and it’s just begun to snow. I don’t know what I was thinking. I hope Zed gets here soon.

The icy wind is unforgiving as it whips my hair around and makes me shiver. I wrap my arms around me in an attempt to keep warm.

“Tess?” I look up, and for a moment I think I’m imagining the boy in all black walking toward me in the snow.

“What are you doing?” Hardin asks me, drawing even closer.

“I’m leaving.”

“Oh . . .” He rubs his hand over the back of his neck like he always does. I stay quiet. “How are you?” he asks and I’m baffled.

“How am I?” I turn to look at him.

I try to keep my cool as he stares at me with a completely neutral expression. “Yeah . . . I mean, are you . . . you know, okay?”

Should I tell him the truth or lie . . . ? “How are you?” I ask, my teeth chattering.

“I asked first,” he responds.

This is not how I had envisioned our first encounter. I’m not entirely sure what I thought would happen, but this isn’t it. I thought he would be cursing me out and we would be in a screaming match. Standing in a snow-dusted driveway, asking each other how we’re doing, is the last thing I imagined. The lanterns hanging in the trees lining the driveway make Hardin appear to be glowing, like an angel. Obviously an illusion.

“I’m fine,” I lie.

He looks me up and down slowly, making my stomach leap and my heart pound. “I see that.” His voice carries over the wind.