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

I want to text Hardin and see how much longer they’ll be, but instead I decide to make dinner to pass the time. I go into the kitchen to decide what to make, something that takes a while but is easy. Lasagna it is, then.

Soon it’s eight, then eight thirty, and by nine I’m already thinking again that I’ll text him.

What the hell is wrong with me? One fight with my mother and suddenly I’m back to clinging to Hardin? If I’m honest with myself, I know that I never truly stopped clinging to him. Even though I don’t really want to admit it, I know that I’m not ready for a life without Hardin. I’m not going to jump into anything wholesale with him, but I’m exhausted from battling myself all the time over him. As terrible as he has been to me, I’m even more miserable without him than I was when I found out about the entire bet. Part of me is irritated at myself for my lack of strength, but another part can’t deny how resolved I felt when I came back today. I still need a little time to think, to see how everything goes with us being around one another. I’m still so confused.

Nine fifteen. It’s only nine fifteen when I finish setting the table and cleaning up the mess I made in the kitchen. I’ll text him, just once, a simple Hey, how’s it going? just to check on him. It’s snowing, so I’m only texting him to check on him, you know, for safety reasons.

Just as I pick up my phone, the front door opens. I set my phone down covertly as Hardin and his mom enter.

“So, how was shopping?” I ask him at the same exact time that he says, “You made dinner?”

“You first,” we both say and laugh.

I hold up one hand and inform him and Trish, “I made dinner. If you already ate, that’s fine, too.”

“It smells so good in here!” his mother says as she surveys the tableful of food. Immediately she drops her bags and drops into a seat at the table. “Thank you, Tessa dear. That mall was dreadful, all the last-minute Christmas shoppers filled the place. Who waits until two days before Christmas to get their gifts?”

“Um, you,” Hardin answers and pours himself a glass of water.

“Oh, hush,” she scolds and picks off the end of a breadstick to pop into her mouth.

Hardin sits down next to his mother, and I take the chair across from her. Over dinner Trish talks about the shopping horrors they experienced and how a man was tackled by security guards for trying to steal a dress from Macy’s. Hardin swears that the dress was for the man himself, but Trish rolls her eyes and continues with the outlandish tale. I realize that the meal I prepared is actually quite good—better than usual—and almost the entire pan of lasagna is gone by the time the three of us finish. I had two servings myself—that’s the last time I’ll go all day without eating.