Previously: A throwaway day because Hardin wasn’t around.
Samantha: Hokay so, Tessa is getting ready to go to her first class of the day. I read the last chapter and I still have no idea time wise how we got here but it’s a new day so I am not poking it. Landon is waiting for her and they start heading to class, you know, the one that Hardin is also in. Landon asks after Tessa’s weekend and she says it was terrible. She asks him how his GF, Dakota, is and he becomes really happy and starts talking about her.
Tessa uses this time to zone out and wonder about her own relationships, like a good friend. Does Noah get happy to talk about her? IDK, girl, probably not, brothers usually don’t. (M: He wouldn’t want to express any emotion that would seem untoward. Or something.) She continues not listening to her supposed friend as they walk into class and notices that Hardin isn’t there. The class starts talking Pride and Prejudice, “a magical book that I wish everyone would read,” and dammit Todd, stop making me associate annoyance with P&P.
Marines: I love Pride and Prejudice. And unapologetically, mostly because I’ve been reading it for more than half my life. Point is that for as much as I love it, I don’t think I’ve ever described it as magical…? I know that word is used to describe things that don’t contain magic per se, but still.
Okay, maybe I just want Tessa to stop talking about P&P.
Samantha: Accurate. That adjective made me think that Todd has probably never actually read it herself.
The class flies by and then awkwardly Hardin is suddenly talking. I just went to an author event where she talked about all the millions of edits that books have to go through before publishing and I just don’t understand.
Mari: Tessa looked for him and he wasn’t in class. She sits in the front and doesn’t see him come in. Suddenly, he’s behind her. I guess there could be an entrance in the back of that class but my money is on this book did not go through millions of edits.
Samantha: Hardin notices Tessa’s haircut and then, omg, his dimples start communicating with Tess????????
“He wouldn’t mention the kiss in front of Landon, would he? Those dimples, deep as ever, tell me that yes, yes he would.”
Oh wow. I guess we’ve entered a sci fi novel now where facial characteristics are sentient. That’s sort of an original concept, I guess. Can’t wait to see how this new plot point progresses!
Samantha: Tessa panics and pulls Landon out of the room while Hardin laughs at her, per usual. Landon asks her wtf that was about. She says she just doesn’t like being around Hardin. Landon comforts her that at least she doesn’t have to see Hardin too often. Tessa’s internal monologue gets super paranoid and decides this is a weird thing to say instead of a general comforting tactic. Does Landon know about the kiss??????? Nope. It turns out that Hardin’s dad is dating Landon’s mom. Tessa and I have the same “what?????” reaction because how is this going to contribute to the story in any meaningful way? How random.
Mari: I really wonder if this has anything to do with real life 1D drama between Harry and L-whoever. But by “really wonder,” I mean “I thought about it for a second but I’m not invested enough to fall into a Google black hole.” Sorry y’all!
Samantha: Tessa immediately starts throwing selfish questions about Hardin’s life at Landon, instead of talking with him about this life bomb he just took a risk and shared with her, his new friend. Damn, this girl is giving Bella Swan a run for her shitty friend money. Landon tells her that Hardin’s dad is from London but lives close to campus. Him and Hardin don’t get along (SHOCKER) so he asks her not to mention it to Hardy. Bets on how long it will take her to bring this up to Hardin anyway? (M: 2 to 3 stolen kisses from now.)
Tessa gets back to her room and calls Noah but he doesn’t answer. Then we get so many sentences of her and Noah backstory that is just really uninteresting. They’ve known each other forever, they are both old souls, and Noah went through the intense shit with her dad with her. Basically he was a scary drunk and Tessa would hide in the greenhouse from his drunk fits. She texts a guilty I love you to Noah and then decides to take a nap.
10 minutes into her nap, there’s a knock at the door. Even the text of this book is like “JFC, of course it’s Hardin.” (M: It’s literally only ever been Hardin or her mom. Of course it’s Hardin.) Tessa tells him that Steph isn’t here and then leaves the door open and goes back to her bed. She also tells us that Steph has given Hardin a key to their room and ????? Did we already know this? Not cool Steph. Don’t give out keys to boys who make your roommate uncomfortable. He makes himself comfortable on Steph’s bed to wait and Tessa pretends to go back to sleep until her alarm goes off. Riveting stuff.
Hardin is really amused that Tessa set an alarm for a 20 minute nap like it’s this weird thing but… it’s not? I can easily nap for hours if I don’t set alarms? He asks her if she’s OCD and just… stop. Stop doing this. Stop reducing an actual mental health disorder to punchlines and interchangeable with “quirky behavior.” STOP IT GOD DAMMIT.
Tessa responds that she’s not crazy, so, cool. Glad we are continuing the bullshit by calling people with actual mental health problems “crazy”. That’s neat.
Mari: I’m glad Todd decided on some casual ableism just to highlight how strange it is that Tessa took a 20 minute nap, something that is of course, not strange at all. AAAAAHHHHHH.
Samantha: He comes over to where she’s sitting on her bed and throws her class notes onto the floor like an ABSOLUTE TOOL. This is not cute. It’s gross, especially because I’m sure he will only be rewarded for it. He does this to some of her other notes until she’s so infuriated she pushes him away from her stuff. He justifies his bullying actions by saying that she messed with his stuff when she was in his room. I don’t know if I’m remembering correctly but I think all she did was pick up a book? Right? She didn’t rearrange the furniture? I mean yeah, it’s weird when someone touches any of your stuff but I don’t think it warrants this creepy response.
Mari: She literally just picked up a book. He’s throwing her school notes on the floor. HE’S A DICK.
Samantha: She yells at him and goes to shove him again and he grabs her wrists and pushes her against the wall. Oh no you guys this is all so terrible. I think that any justification for Hardin grabbing her like this would be that she was shoving him but I don’t think that’s valid? He was messing with her stuff and I think the implication was that she was pushing him away from it, not aggressively pushing him? Imma look to Mari for a second opinion because that’s always a good idea.
Samantha: Jesus fuck.
Tessa thinks about how she wants to make him let her go and leave and put her stuff back, all reasonable requests in this fucked up situation. But she can’t because she’s “mesmerized” by his eyes. Shoot. Has Hardin been a vampire this whole time? Did we walk into a Twilight spinoff?
Mari: Wasn’t it at least Fifty Shades inspired? It’s the Twilight spinoff spinoff so that’s cool.
Also, since I’ve been having fun calling out these romance story tropes I hate, “my mind is saying no but my body is saying yes” for the lose.
Samantha: She finally says “Hardin please” and isn’t sure if she’s begging him to kiss her or let her go. COOL. He moves one hand off of her wrists and Tessa legit thinks he’s about to slap her WHAT THE HELL? Why are you so into a dude you legitimately think is capable of hurting you whyyyyyyy?
Mari: And WHY would he be moving to slap her in this scenario? If it’s all so sexually charged as the author would want us to believe, in order to forgive the pushing and holding and grabbing, WHY WHY WHY when Hardin moves does Tessa think SLAP?
BECAUSE IT ISN’T SEXY. It’s physical intimidation and whether Anna Todd knew it, her mf character knew it and is afraid to get slapped by the boy she’s a second away from kissing.
Samantha: So then of course he kisses her because all of this is really sexy. They make out for awhile and it’s the most magic non fumbly kissing session ever. They make it to the bed and Tessa decides she is not stopping this time. He takes her shirt off and she worries that her bra is too boring for the well sexed Hardin. He tells her that she’s sexy while I wonder where my life went wrong. (M: Please still love me.) Before things can go much further, however, Steph puts her key in the lock. Tessa flies off Hardin and tries to get her shirt back on. Obvs Steph can tell what was going on and is THRILLED.
Hardin leaves (does this mean the chapter is almost over?) (M: Hang in there) and Steph wants to know the How What When Where Why of the situation. Tessa denies it because it isn’t “regular” whatever that means and reminds Steph she has a boyfriend. Steph thinks that this doesn’t mean she can’t mess around with Hardin but like… it does? Usually? IDK. (M: It means that to Tessa and Noah, which is what’s important here. If it doesn’t mean that to Tessa anymore, she’s gonna have to talk to Noah…) Tessa tells her that on Saturday they kissed after some “creep tried to hit on” her. YOU GUYS THAT WAS NOT SOMEONE TRYING TO HIT ON HER. THAT WAS A SEXUAL ASSAULT ATTEMPT. We have to start using the real language for this shit.
Mari: Also, if your love story starts with a kiss directly after an attempted sexual assault like maybe skip that part for your future children?
Samantha: Tessa tells her that it’s all terrible and wrong because she loves Noah and Hardin is a super butt.
Steph thinks that it could be a good idea for her to learn about sexual stuff from Hardin and Tessa wonders if this means him and Steph hooked up. She asks and Steph gives a hard no but then clarifies that they never had sex. Just messed around for a week or so. Tessa gets pissy and jealous, even though Steph is really just being supportive and honest and shit. Steph continues that Hardin is basically the Harry Styles of having sex with ladies on campus. Tessa decides to stay away from Hardin and I beg the workers at this Panera to spike my tea.
Steph tells Tessa that she could have fun with Hardin but she could also get really hurt if she developed feelings. Steph, honey, don’t you know that Tess is going to *change* Hardin? That she’s different from the other girls? Pay attention.
They spend the rest of the night gossiping about everything that isn’t Hardin and so the chapter ends.
Next time on After: Todd uses Pride and Prejudice to comment on her own love story like an ass in Chapter 23.