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

Why am I so giddy?

Thirty minutes.

I rush to the bathroom to brush the popcorn kernels from my teeth. I shouldn’t be kissing him, should I? It is his birthday . . . one kiss won’t be so bad, and let’s be honest: he deserves a kiss for all the effort he’s put into this so far. One kiss won’t hurt anything I’m trying to do.

I touch up my makeup and run the hairbrush through my hair before pulling it into a ponytail. I clearly have no sense of judgment where Hardin is involved, but I’ll scold myself tomorrow. I know he doesn’t do much for birthdays, but I want this one to be different—I want him to know that his birthday is important.

I grab the gift I bought and begin to wrap it quickly. The paper I bought is covered in music notes and would make a good book cover. I’m getting nervous and sidetracked even though I shouldn’t be.

Okay, see you soon, I send, and head downstairs after scribbling his name on the small gift tag.

Karen is dancing to an old Luther Vandross song, and I can’t help but laugh when she turns around with flushed cheeks. “Sorry, I didn’t know you were there,” she says, clearly embarrassed.

“I love this song. My father used to play it all the time,” I tell her, and she smiles.

“He has good taste, then.”

“He did.” I smile at the somewhat decent memory of my father twirling me around the kitchen . . . before the sun fell and he gave my mother a black eye for the first time.

“So what are you up to tonight? Landon’s at the library again,” she tells me, though I already knew.

“I was actually going to see if you could help me make a cake or something for Hardin. It’s his birthday and he’s going to be here in about a half hour.” I can’t help but smile.

“He is? Well, of course, we can make a quick sheet cake . . . or actually, let’s do a two-layer circle cake. What does he like better, chocolate or vanilla?”

“Chocolate cake and chocolate icing,” I tell her. No matter how much I feel I don’t know him sometimes, I know him better than I think I know myself.

“Okay, get the pans out for me?” she asks, and I jump to it.

Thirty minutes later I’m waiting for the cake to cool the rest of the way so that we can ice it before Hardin gets here. Karen has dug out some old candles; she could only find a one and a three, but I know he’ll find humor in that.

I walk to the living room and look out the window to see if he’s here yet, but the driveway is empty. He’s probably just running a little late. It’s only been forty-five minutes.

“Ken’ll be home in an hour or so, he had a dinner with some colleagues. Being a terrible person, I claimed to have a stomachache. I just hate those dinners.” She laughs and I giggle as I attempt to smooth the chocolate icing along the edges of the cake.