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

I take a deep breath and a sip of my coffee before answering. “Hardin and I broke up.”

Her expression is neutral. “Why?”

“Well, he didn’t turn out to be who I thought he was,” I say. I wrap my hands around the scalding-hot cup of coffee in an attempt to distract myself from the pain and prepare myself for my mother’s response.

“And who did you think he was?”

“Someone who loved me.” I’m not sure who I thought Hardin was other than that, on his own, as a person.

“And now you don’t think he does?”

“No, I know he doesn’t.”

“What makes you so sure?” she asks coolly.

“Because I trusted him and he betrayed me, in a terrible way.” I know I’m leaving out the details, but I still feel the strange need to protect Hardin from my mother’s judgment. I scold myself for being so stupid, for even considering him, when he clearly wouldn’t do the same for me.

“Don’t you think you should have thought about this possibility before deciding to live with him?”

“Yes, I know. Go ahead and tell me how stupid I am, tell me that you told me so,” I say.

“I did tell you, I warned you about guys like him. Men like him and your father are best to stay away from. I’m just glad it’s over with before it really even began. People make mistakes, Tessa.” She takes a drink from her mug, leaving a pink lipstick ring. “I’m sure he’ll forgive you.”

“Who?”

“Noah, of course.”

How does she not get this? I just need to talk to her, to have her comfort me—not push me to be with Noah again. I stand up, looking at her, then around the room. Is she serious? She can’t be. “Just because things didn’t work out with Hardin doesn’t mean I’m going to date Noah again!” I snap.

“Why doesn’t it? Tessa, you should be grateful that he’s willing to give you another chance.”

“What? Why can’t you just stop? I don’t need to be with anyone right now, especially not Noah.” I want to rip my hair out. Or hers.

“What do you mean, especially not Noah? How can you say that about him? He’s been nothing but great to you since you were kids.”

I sigh and sit back down. “I know, Mother, I care about Noah so much. Just not in that way.”

“You don’t even know what you’re talking about.” She stands up and pours her coffee down the drain. “It’s not always about love, Theresa; it’s about stability and security.”

“I’m only eighteen,” I tell her. I don’t want to think that I’d be with someone without loving them just for the stability. I want to be my own stability and security. I want someone to love, and someone to love me.

“Almost nineteen. And if you aren’t careful now, no one will want you. Now go fix your makeup, because Noah will be here any minute,” she announces and walks out of the kitchen.