After Chapter 19 – Hardly and softly.

Previously: Tessa runs away from sexual assault into Hardin’s arms.

Marines: Tessa and Hardin are kissing, and she describes his warm tongue and cold lip ring. She also makes sure to let us know that she doesn’t really know what’s she’s doing here, lest we think her a hussy, with all the kissing and all. (S: Wow this is just a painful block of a paragraph.) She goes on in detail about Hardin pulling her back on his bed and how this is just such a wonderful moment until she remembers Noah.

I say, “Hardin… stop,” but I don’t recognize my own voice. It’s low and husky, and my mouth is dehydrated. 
He doesn’t stop.

I can’t do this. Not for one second, not for one kiss. This is going to be a hell of a long journey already. I cannot do this if Tessa is going to have to say, “stop” multiple times for this dickweasel to listen. The only reason I’m still typing is because I looked ahead and this is another idiotically short chapter. It’s almost done even as I sit here and seethe.

Samantha: Fucking rape culture. It seeps its toxic and greasy self into everything. Exhausting.

News flash: it’s rapey even if you’re not a drunk stranger, ie. a chapter ago. 

Mari: Tessa says stop again, but with her voice a little clearer. Hardin pulls away and Tessa can see that his eyes are “softer” because she’s already changing him with her kisses, I guess. But not a lot! Because his eyes get hard again when she tells him they can’t keep kissing. Hardin pushes her off as he gets up, knocking her to the other side of the bed.

Hardin’s obviously so mad, so Tessa starts apologizing [screams internally] [S: weeps internally], while also noticing that his boxers are a little tighter int he front as he stands to put on a shirt. Hardin tells her it was just a kiss and people kiss all the time. This hurts Tess’s feelings, but she doesn’t know why, though it doesn’t seem like a very hard thing to figure out. Todd keeps trying to play like something very mysterious is happening here, but no. She reasons with herself that she’s just drunk and he’s attractive and this means nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Tessa asks if they can not make a big deal of this, because she doesn’t want anyone else finding out. Hardin says that’s cool because he doesn’t want anyone to know either. Even though he’s just repeating what Tessa said first, she’s all UH HOW COULD YOU about it, and says that Hardin’s back to his old self. He insists that he’s only got the one self and a little kissing “basically against his will” [screams externally] [S: fist through wall] isn’t gonna change that. Tessa says that he could’ve stopped her if he didn’t want to be kissed and his super great retort is: hardly. 

Great, wonderful.

Samantha: Oh, boy. Oh, Lordy. 

Mari: Hardin softens again (I think this is a medical issue at this point) (S: I wanted to make a penis joke but I’m too bummed out.) and offers to let Tessa stay in his room. She’s not having it or the way she gets emotional whiplash when she’s around him, so she walks out of his room and goes outside. She turns her phone on and sees text messages from Noah and her mother. She’s briefly annoyed at Noah for tattle-telling but they says she has no room to be annoyed because she’s a big ole cheater.

I’m so happy we all spent this time together. Quality chapter.


Next time on After: Theresa’s mother drives to college in Chapter 20.

Marines (all posts)

I'm a 20-something south Floridan who loves the beach but cannot swim. Such is my life, full of small contradictions and little trivialities. My main life goals are never to take life too seriously, but to do everything I attempt seriously well. After that, my life goals devolve into things like not wearing pants and eating all of the Zebra Cakes in the world. THE WORLD.

Samantha (all posts)

I'm a 25 year old graduated English major I can often be found singing too loudly (poorly) in the car or spending some time (hours) on Tumblr. I am a lover of Harry Potter, the Spice Girls, and too many other things.

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  • JA Jenks

    This series is going to break you guys.

    • aqua_13

      For their health, I really hope they stop at this book and don’t continue the whole series.

      • Samantha

        I was in a bookstore last month and saw just how many books there are in the series and had an actual jaw drop moment.

        • aqua_13

          The good news is all the questions are answered (for the most part). The bad news is it’s not until the last book of the series and there’s, of course, all the atrocious writing to get through.

    • Samantha

      I don’t know how Mari is managing to do this and Breaking Dawn at the same time. She’s awesome.

  • Alicia

    So Tessa is drunk and kisses Hardin because he’s being nice, but it’s still Hardin’s fault because she asked him to stop and he didn’t stop? What if Hardin were drunk and kissed Tessa? He’d be a rapist. Sure, he’s physically stronger than her, he could have pushed her off when she first started kissing him and left. But that’s the problem here. Since Hardin’s stronger and could push her off, if he does then HE’S the asshole. Women seem to think that guys can’t be victims of unwanted rape/kissing attacks. Maybe Hardin didn’t want Tessa to kiss him, but she was drunk. All Hardin did was be “nice” to her while she was drunk, and it somehow made Tessa want to kiss him. Which isn’t romantic or hot at all, honestly. He didn’t tell her to kiss him or kiss her first. She kissed him. But then it’s his fault if she says stop and he doesn’t stop.

    What if a sober Tessa was being nice to a drunk Hardin by helping him out? And he took that as a shot to kiss her? Think about it. Everyone would be pissed at the guy and calling out RAPE even though the guy was drunk. Todd wouldn’t be going off about how romantic and hot it is to forcefully kiss someone. I’m not disagreeing, of course Hardin, being the sober one, should have stopped if she told him to stop. Or maybe offered to take her back to the dorms. I’m just talking about the double standard of rape culture. It’s only rape when it happens to a woman.

    Anyways, of course Tessa’s not being a hussy like pink-hair girl because she “doesn’t know what she’s doing”. And girls who don’t know what they’re doing 90% of the time seem to be the classic trademark of female MC’s these days. Also if you don’t know what you’re doing it means that you ain’t a cheating hoe. Even though that’s just what Tessa did to Noah.

    Hardin’s eyes are “softer” because she’s already changing him. True, I guess, according to YA romance. But then his eyes get hard again when she tells him they can’t keep kissing so he pushes her off of him when he gets up.

    Okay, here we go.

    1) He didn’t hurt her when he pushed her. I said that even if guys try to stop a girl from kissing them or get away from the situation, it’s the guy’s fault still. I know, Hardin didn’t push her to stop her from kissing him, he pushed her because she told him they couldn’t kiss anymore. But still.
    2) Tessa kissed Hardin. Then she has to tell him no twice to get him to stop, and that they can’t keep kissing. Tessa, honey, YOU started it. Just because you’re drunk and don’t know what you’re doing doesn’t give you the green light to do whatever the fuck you want.
    3) I see what Todd is doing here. Tessa was enjoying the kissing that she started (it still doesn’t make her a hussy because of course) but then she remembered Noah and tried to get Hardin to stop, but when he didn’t the first time…-gasp- he’s the bad guy. Tessa’s the sweet innocent girl who was just confused when drunk and Hardin was nice to her once so it left her feeling like she needed to kiss him for some reason.

    So is Tessa apologizing for kissing him first (which she rightfully should) or apologizing for telling him that she can’t keep kissing him therefore making him mad? I’m gonna say the latter. Hardin’s mad at her for the wrong reasons. He should be mad for the kiss, instead he’s mad that she told him to stop. She should be upset that she kissed him, not because she made him mad when she told him to stop. LOL at her randomly noticing that his boxers are tighter in the front. Is this supposed to be hot and sexy? Well, I am left a little steamy – maybe with steam coming out of my ears.

    Hardin telling Tessa that it was “just a kiss and people kiss all the time” somehow hurts her feelings. That’s all it was, Tessa. What, did you think that by him being nice to you and you kissing him meant that you changed him already and he suddenly wanted to be with you? Hahaha…oh….

    Tessa says that he could have stopped her if he didn’t want to be kissed. Oh, now SHE’S playing the victim. Because of course. If a drunk Hardin said to a sober Tessa, “you could have stopped me if you didn’t want to be kissed!” well there would be more uproar.

    So Hardin just put himself into a bad situation by offering to let her stay in his room after what just happened. WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR CAR? YOU’RE NOT DRUNK WHY DON’T YOU DRIVE HER TO THE DORMS? IF you want her to leave you alone, you know, it’s best to not offer to let her stay in your room…?

    Tessa really doesn’t have any room to be annoyed at Noah for being a tattle tale. I mean sure, she’s in college now and should be able to do whatever she wants, right? Including going around kissing guys while she’s drunk.

    • I don’t think anyone called it Hardin’s “fault,” either in this post or in the book, if I’m recalling correctly. Also, because Tess was the drunk one, it was even weirder for Hardin, the one in his right mind to take advantage of that and encourage her/participate to the point of pulling her down on the bed with him. If Hardin were the drunk one, it would be to Tessa not to take advantage of his incapacitated state. In either case, the problem is explicit consent. Tessa didn’t ask and Hardin didn’t say no. He only says after the fact that he didn’t want it and it reads as if it’s in response to Tessa’s “rejection.” These things aren’t mutually exclusive. They can both be failing at consent. And it doesn’t change the fact that EVEN IF Tessa initiated, she was the one who verbally asked him to stop and he didn’t. That isn’t negated by anything that comes before or anything that comes after. I think I take a hard black and white stance on consent in fiction because anything less tends to romanticize nonconsent.

      I hope that makes sense to clarify where my frustration was coming from in this chapter.

      • Alicia

        Yeah, I understand. It just seems like a lot of cases the blame falls on the guy, even if the girl initiated it. Which I think is wrong. I do agree that Hardin, being the sober one, should have been able to stop and pull away when she started kissing him. He knew she had a boyfriend. He only got mad when Tessa told him they can’t keep kissing. He wasn’t thinking, “Why is she kissing me she has a boyfriend I should get her to stop”, he was thinking, “Ugh she started to kiss me then stopped me”. But Tessa isn’t so innocent either, as Todd makes her out to be. Because Tessa was “drunk and confused by Hardin’s being nice to her” it’s like Todd trying to excuse Tessa’s actions of cheating on her boyfriend.

        Sure, people make mistakes while in college. But I wouldn’t be happy if I found out my completely introvert and anti-social boyfriend had suddenly started going to all these parties and was hanging out with a girl then drunkenly kissed her because she was being “nice” to him.

  • Joy

    1) Generally speaking, piercings that go through the body aren’t “cold” because they’re basically body temperature (unless you’re outside in a blizzard).
    2) The infinity symbol on the front of the book makes me sad because it’s infinity of short chapters. They’re two paragraphs long but there’s no end of them.

    • Alicia

      Right? I have two ear piercings and they are generally body temperature. I don’t get why Tessa thinks Hardin’s lip (tongue?) piercings are cold. Does the writer not understand how piercings work? I suppose they could be cold for about five seconds if Hardin just drank something.

    • Samantha

      That must be the reason for the infinity symbol because so far I don’t get it otherwise.
      Omg that makes so much logical sense about the body piercings and copy editors are supposed to be a thing.

  • Charlie

    All I am going to say is that rape fantasies belong tagged profusely on fanfic sites and have no place being published and praised as romance for the ages. Ugh. 😷