Before (After, #5) by Anna Todd Read Online (FREE)
When he was little, the boy used to dream of who he would grow up to be.
Maybe a policeman, or a teacher. Mummy’s friend Vance read books for a job, and that seemed fun. But the boy wasn’t sure of his own capabilities—he had no talents. He couldn’t sing like the kid in his class Joss; he couldn’t add and subtract long numbers like Angela; he could barely speak in front of his classmates, unlike funny, loudmouthed Calvin. The only thing he liked to do was read page after page of his books. He waited for Vance to bring them by: one a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. There were periods when the man wouldn’t show and he would grow bored, rereading the same torn pages of his favorites. But he learned to trust that the kind man would always come back, book in hand. The boy grew taller, grew smarter, an inch and a new book every two weeks, it seemed.
His parents were changing with the seasons. His dad grew louder, sloppier, and his mum grew more and more tired, her sobs filling the night, louder and louder. The smell of tobacco and worse began to fill the walls of the small house. As sure as the dishes overflowing the sink was the smell of scotch on his dad’s breath. As the months went on, he would sometimes forget what his dad looked like altogether.
Vance came around more, and he barely noticed when his mum’s sobs changed in the night. He had made friends at this point. Well, one friend. The friend moved away, and he himself never bothered to make new friends. He felt like he didn’t need them. He didn’t mind being alone.
The men who came that night changed something deep within the boy. What he saw happen to his mum made him harden, and he grew angrier as his dad became a stranger. Soon after, his dad stopped stumbling into the small, filthy house at all. He was gone, and the boy was relieved. No more scotch, no more broken furniture or holes in the walls. The only thing he left behind was a boy without a dad and a living room full of half-empty packs of cigarettes.
The boy hated the taste the cigarettes left, but loved the way the smoke filled his lungs, stealing his breath. He found himself smoking every single one, and then he bought more. He made friends, if you could call a group of rebels and delinquents who caused more trouble than they were worth friends. He began to stay out late, and the little white lies and harmless pranks the group of angry boys would play began turning into more serious crimes. They turned into something darker, something that they all knew was wrong—the deepest level of wrong—but they thought they were just having fun. They were entitled and couldn’t deny the adrenaline rush that came with the power they felt. After each innocence they stole, their veins pulsed with more arrogance, more hunger, fewer boundaries.