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

“So what does that mean?”

“Nothing. I’m just saying that I want to be civil and not fight anymore. It doesn’t change anything between us.” I bite my cheek to keep my eyes from tearing up.

Instead of saying anything, Hardin stands up and throws his plate into the sink. The porcelain splits down the middle with a loud crack that causes me to jump. Hardin doesn’t flinch or even turn back around as he stalks off to the bedroom.

I peer into the living room to make sure that his impulsive behavior hasn’t woken up his mother. Fortunately, she’s still asleep, her mouth slightly open in a way that makes her resemblance to her son all the stronger.

As usual, I’m left to clean up the mess that Hardin made. I load the dishwasher and put away the leftovers before wiping down the counter. I’m exhausted, mentally more than physically, but I need to take a shower and go to bed. But where the hell am I going to sleep? Hardin is in the bedroom and Trish is on the couch. Maybe I should just drive back to the motel.

I turn the heat up a little and switch off the light in the living room. When I walk into the bedroom to get my pajamas, Hardin is sitting on the edge of the bed, his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. He doesn’t look up, so I grab a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and panties from my bag before exiting the room. As I hit the doorway, I hear what sounds like a muffled sob.

Is Hardin crying?

He isn’t. He couldn’t be.

On the off chance that he is, I can’t leave the room. I pad back to the bed and stand in front of him. “Hardin?” I say quietly and try to remove his hands from his face. He resists, but I pull harder. “Look at me,” I beg.

The breath is knocked out of me when he does. His eyes are bloodshot and his cheeks are soaked with tears. I try to take his hands in mine, but he jerks away. “Just go, Tessa,” he says.

I’ve heard him say that too many times. “No,” I say and kneel down between his opened legs.

He wipes his eyes with the back of his hands. “This was a bad idea. I’m going to tell my mum in the morning.”

“You don’t have to.” I’ve seen him let out a few tears before, but never full-on, body-shaking, tears-streaming-down-his-face crying.

“Yeah, I do. This is torture for me to have you so close but so far. It’s the worst possible punishment. Not that I don’t deserve it, because I know I do, but it’s too much,” he sobs. “Even for me.” He draws in a deep, desperate breath. “When you agreed to stay . . . I thought that maybe . . . maybe you still cared for me the way I do for you. But I see it, Tess, I see the way you look at me now. I see the pain I’ve caused. I see the change in you because of me. I know that I did this, but it still kills me to have you slip through my fingers.” The tears come much faster now, falling against his black T-shirt.