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

“Really? You’re okay with her thinking we’re together?” He sounds more surprised than he should be. When I nod, he lets out a deep breath. “Thank you. I thought for sure you’d call me out right in front of her.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” I say and mean it. No matter how angry I have ever been at Hardin, I wouldn’t damage his relationship with his mother. “I’ll just finish my laundry, then go. I thought you weren’t going to be here, so I figured I’d stay here instead of that motel.” I shrug uncomfortably. We’ve been in the bedroom a little too long.

“You don’t have anywhere to go?”

“I could go to my mother’s. I just really don’t want to,” I admit. “The motel isn’t bad, just a little expensive.” This is the most civil conversation Hardin and I have had in the past week.

“I know you won’t agree to stay here, but I could give you some money?” I can tell he’s afraid of my reaction to his offer.

“I don’t need your money.”

“I know, I just thought I would offer.” He stares at floor.

“We better go back out there.” I sigh and open the door.

“I’ll be out in a second,” he says softly.

I don’t like the idea of going out there to face his mother alone, but I can’t stay in the small space of this bedroom with Hardin. I take a deep breath and leave the room.

When I enter the kitchen, she looks over at me from where she stands at the sink. “He isn’t upset with me, is he? I didn’t mean to crowd you.” Her voice is so sweet. A total contrast to her son’s.

“Oh no, of course not. He was just . . . going over a few things about this week,” I lie. I have always been a terrible liar, so I usually avoid it at all costs.

“Okay, good. I know how moody he can be.” She smiles with such warmth that I can’t help but smile back.

I pour my own glass of water to calm my nerves, and she begins to speak as I take a sip. “I still can’t wrap my head around how beautiful you are. He told me you were the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen, but I thought he was exaggerating.”

Less gracefully than the most beautiful girl a boy’s ever seen would do, I spit my water back into my glass. Hardin said what? I want to ask her to verify that, but instead I just take another sip of water to mask my embarrassing reaction.

She laughs. “Honestly, I thought you would be covered in tattoos and have green hair or something.”

“No, no tattoos for me. Or green hair.” I laugh and feel my shoulders begin to relax.

“You’re an English major like Hardin, right?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Ma’am? Call me Trish.”

“I actually have an internship at Vance Publishing, so my class schedule is kind of weird. And right now we’re on break.”