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

“I was so disappointed when Hardin said you’d be out of town this week!” she gushes and wraps her arms around me. “What a cheeky boy, fibbing just to try and surprise me!”

What?

She puts her hands on my shoulders and pulls me to look at her. “Oh, you are so lovely, look at you!” She squeals and hugs me again.

I stay silent and hug her once more. Hardin looks terrified and extremely caught off guard.

Join the club.

 

chapter twenty-three

TESSA

As his mother hugs me for the fourth time, Hardin finally mumbles, “Mum, let’s give her a little space. She’s a bit shy.”

“You’re right, and I’m sorry, Tessa. I’m just so happy to finally meet you. Hardin has told me so much about you,” she says warmly. I feel my cheeks flame as she steps back and nods in acknowledgment. I’m surprised she even knows that I exist—I would have figured he would have kept me a secret, as usual.

“It’s okay,” I manage to say through my horror.

Mrs. Daniels smiles brightly and looks over at her son, who says, “Mum, why don’t you grab a drink of water in the kitchen for a minute?” When she leaves, Hardin comes over to me with gentle movements. “Can . . . I, um . . . talk to you in the bedroom for a mo-moment?” he stammers.

I nod and glance toward the kitchen before following him into the bedroom that we once shared.

“What the hell?” I say quietly as I close the door.

Hardin winces and sits on the bed. “I know . . . I’m sorry. I couldn’t tell her what happened. I couldn’t tell her what I did.

“Are you here . . . you know, to stay?” His voice holds more hope than I can bear.

“No . . .”

“Oh.”

I sigh and run my fingers through my hair, a habit I picked up from Hardin, I suspect. “Well, what am I supposed to do?” I ask him.

“I don’t know . . .” he says with a long sigh. “I don’t expect you to go along with it or anything . . . I just need a little time to tell her.”

“I didn’t know you would be here either, I thought you were going to London.”

“I changed my mind, I didn’t want to go without . . .” He trails off, and pain is evident in his eyes.

“Is there a reason why you didn’t tell her that we aren’t together?” I don’t know if I want to hear his answer.

“She was just so happy that I found someone . . . I don’t want to ruin that for her.”

I recall Ken telling me that he never thought Hardin was capable of being in a relationship, and he was right. However, I do not want to ruin Hardin’s mother’s time here. I certainly don’t say what I say next for his sake: “Okay. You can tell her whenever you are ready. Just don’t tell her about the bet.” I look down, thinking that his mom knowing the details of how her son ruined his first and only love would surely hurt her.