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

He really is going all out for this. He looks so handsome, and he even styled his hair. It’s pushed back, and I can tell he used something to keep it that way, because it doesn’t fall down onto his forehead as he walks, the way it usually does.

He flushes. “Erm . . . hi?”

“Hi.” I can’t stop staring at him. Wait . . . “Where are your piercings?” The metal rings are gone from his eyebrow and lip.

“I took them out.” He shrugs.

“Why?”

“I don’t know . . . you don’t think I look better this way?” He looks into my eyes.

“No! I loved the way you looked before . . . and now, too, but you should put them back.”

“I don’t want them back in.” He walks to the passenger side of his car to open the door for me.

“Hardin . . . I hope you didn’t take them out because you thought I’d like you better this way, because it’s not true. I love you either way. Please put them back in.”

His eyes light up at my words, and I look away before climbing into the car. No matter how mad at him I am, I never want him to feel like he has to change his appearance for me. I was judgmental when I saw his rings for the first time, but I grew to love them. They’re part of him. “It’s not really like that, honestly. I’ve been thinking about taking them out for a while anyway. I’ve had them forever, and they’re sort of annoying. Besides, who the hell will hire me for a real job with that shit in my face?” He buckles his seat belt and looks over to me.

“People would hire you; it’s the twenty-first century. If you like them . . .”

“It’s not that big of a deal. I sort of like the way I look without them, like I’m not hiding anymore, you know?” I stare at him again and take in his new look.

He looks exquisite—he always does—but it’s sort of nice to not have any distractions on his perfect face.

“Well, I think you look perfect either way, Hardin; just don’t think that I want you to look a certain way, because I don’t,” I tell him and mean it.

When he looks at me he gives me such a shy smile that I forget what I wanted to yell at him about.

“Where are you taking me, anyway?” I ask him.

“To dinner. It’s a really nice place.” His voice is shaky. Nervous Hardin is my new favorite Hardin.

“Have I heard of it?”

“I don’t know . . . maybe?”

The rest of car ride is quiet. I hum along to the Fray songs that Hardin has obviously taken a strong liking to, and Hardin stares out the windshield. He keeps rubbing his hand over his thigh as he drives—a nervous action, I can tell.

When we arrive at the restaurant, it looks fancy and very expensive. All of the cars in the parking lot cost more than my mother’s house, I’m sure.