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

“Really? You’ll stay? Just one night, then you can go to your mum’s house. You don’t want to be driving through that snow anyway.” She wraps her arms around me and hugs me for the fifth time today.

At least she’ll be here to be a buffer between Hardin and me. We can’t fight if she’s here. Well, I won’t fight, at least. I know this is probably . . . certainly the worst idea, but Trish is hard to say no to. Just like her son.

“Well, I’m going to take a quick shower. I had a long flight!” She smiles broadly and heads out.

I sink down onto the bed and close my eyes. This is going to be the most awkward, painful twenty-four hours of my life. No matter what I do, I always seem to end up back where I started, with him.

After a few minutes I open my eyes to find Hardin standing in front of the closet with his back to me. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you,” he says when he turns back around. I sit up. He is being so strange, apologizing every other word. “I see that you cleaned the apartment,” he says softly.

“Yeah . . . I couldn’t help it.” I smile, and so does he. “Hardin, I told your mom that I would stay tonight. Only tonight, but if that’s not okay, I’ll go. I just felt bad because she’s so nice, and I couldn’t say no, but if that makes you uncomfor—”

“Tessa, it’s fine,” he says quickly, but then his voice shakes when he adds, “I want you to stay.”

I don’t know what to say, and I don’t understand this strange turn of events. I want to thank him for the present, but there is just too much going on inside of my head.

“Did you have a nice birthday yesterday?” he asks.

“Oh, yeah. Landon came by.”

“Oh . . .” But then we hear his mother in the living room, and he moves to go. He stops before walking through the door and turns to me. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to act.”

I sigh. “Me either.”

At that, he nods, and we both get up to join his mother in the other room.


chapter twenty-four


When Hardin and I enter the living room, his mother is sitting on the couch with her wet hair pulled into a bun. She looks so young for her age, so stunning. “We should rent some movies, and I’ll make dinner for all of us!” she exclaims. “Don’t you miss my cooking, dumpling?”

Hardin rolls his eyes and shrugs. “Sure. Best cook ever.”

This couldn’t possibly be more awkward.

“Hey! I’m not that bad.” She laughs. “And I think you just talked yourself into being chef tonight.”

I shift uncomfortably, unsure how to behave around Hardin unless we’re together or fighting. This is an odd place for us, though I suddenly realize this is a pattern of ours: Karen and Ken had been under the impression that we were dating before we actually were.