After Chapter 25 – HIGH ALERT.

Previously: We’re pretty sure Hardin kidnapped Tessa.

Marines: Okay, Hardin has Tessa in his car 90% against her will and we don’t know where he is taking her. Everyone, we are on HIGH ALERT.


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Captain Kirk is worried.

Mari: As he should be!

First up: Hardin takes Tessa down a gravel road and turns off the music so that she can hear all the little stones crunching beneath the tires. Tessa realizes that they are very, very alone, away from people and building and cars and also police. I added the last thing. HIGH ALERT remains; this seems awful murder-y.

Next up: Hardin jokes that he didn’t bring Tessa out here to kill her. UH, I don’t know about you, but that sounds exactly like something a murderer would “joke” about before murdering someone. KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED.

Samantha: This feels like the opening teaser of a crime show where I’d be saying “Welp, she’s a goner.”

Mari: THEN:

Don’t worry, I didn’t bring you out here to kill you,” he jokes and I gulp. I doubt he realizes that I’m more afraid of what I might do when alone with him than if he was actually trying to kill me.”

GIRL, WHAT? Please tell me you didn’t just say you are more afraid of kissing him than MURDER? Get some self-preservation quick.

Onward: Hardin stops the car and they are in a field with wildflowers and oh my god, have we reached the field of wildflowers scene in the abusey-romance book? Is it that time already?

Samantha: So many links. Too many. 

Mari: This doesn’t bode well for Tessa’s chances of survival, because those two leading men were almost certainly killers.

After they park, Hardin says they have to walk even further into isolation (so no one will hear her screams). Hardin snips at Tessa that she’s walking too slow, but she’s very calmly taking in her surroundings. It’s so peaceful and pretty, she thinks she could stay there forever. I feel like being dead meets that criteria. Oh, wait, she clarifies that she would have to have a book with her. If it’s this book, she would probably end up killing herself.

Hardin leaves the trail and goes into a wooded area. Tessa tells us that her “natural suspiciousness” kicks in. HER NATURAL SUSPICIOUSNESS? Is this like when we were reading Sweet Valley High and they mentioned Todd’s brother one time and he never showed up again so we made a “GhostBrotha!” tag and blamed random crap on this missing brother? Is this like the time when Bella was supposedly sickened by the sight of blood and also clumsy for a couple chapters? Please remember this “natural suspiciousness” because I’m very invested in seeing IF IT EVER TURNS UP AGAIN.

Samantha: Hermione and I are naturally suspicious of this bullshit. 

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Mari: Anyway, it turns out that Hardin has led her to a stream-or-maybe-a-river. I’m not ruling out murder yet, though, because drowning is a thing. Hardin starts stripping down, and Tessa stares at him for a bit, before realizing he means to swim in the stream-or-maybe-a-river. Tessa says she’s definitely not swimming in some unidentified body of water because there might be fish in there and also she has no bathing suit. Hardin tells her so swim in her underwear and she gets all huffy. (S: ‘Cause it’s grossly manipulative.)

Wait, so he thought I would come out here and take all my clothes off and swim with him? My insides stir and I get warm thinking about being naked in the water with Hardin.”

1- Yes, that’s exactly what he thought.

2- You got in the car to Murder Lake Forrest with him, girl. He probably thought anything was possible.

3- Your protest loses some of its protest when your next thought is actual warm fuzzies.

4- A few pages ago, you were like “meh, murder” so I’m not sure how to take your SWIMMING IN MY UNDERWEAR? freakout. I’m not sure.

Tessa says she’s not underwear swimming. Hardin says she’s no fun and jumps in without her. Tessa watches him and wishes she were brave and loose like Steph. Alas.

Hardin convinces Tessa to at least put her feet in because the water is warm. She does and it really does feel good. Hardin asks her again to just get in the water and stop overthinking things. He even offers up his shirt so Tessa can wear it in and says he’ll answer any question she wants. She takes him up on this offer, making him turn around while she changes. He laughs at her request but (we can all save our rage for now) he turns.

Tessa changes quickly.

I can’t help but admire the way his shirt smells, like faint cologne mixed with a smell I can only describe as Hardin.” 

1- I have had A LIFETIME OF ENOUGH of a writer describing someone smelling like themselves. A LIFETIME OF ENOUGH.



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Samantha: I wonder if its another lazy manifestation of the whole “blank slate so you can completely imagine yourself in it” trope. Like, Hardin and You Know Who smell like themselves so that the people who love these books can decide what that is. For me, Hardin smells like locker room and burnt toast. 

Mari: Sounds about right to me, probably not what Anna Todd was going for.

Okay, so, Tessa finishes undressing. Hardin turns around and he likey what he sees.

His eyes widen and I watch them rake down my body. He takes his lip ring between his teeth and I notice his cheeks flush. He must be cold, because I know it couldn’t possibly be me he is reacting to.” 


Must we really make our protagonist have low self-esteem to the point of stupidity? Does anyone out there react to being cold like this:

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Or this:

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Hardin uses his raspy “I’m cold” voice to tell Tessa to hurry up and get in the water. She tries to jump in, but gets too scared last minute. Hardin offers to help her in, but only after laughing at her. (S: Swoon.)

Once she’s in the water, they start splashing around. Hardin laughs at her some more because she has to plug her nose before she goes underwater. In case you are keeping track, this “date” has mostly been a lot of manipulation and laughing AT Tessa.

Tessa reminds him that she gets an answer to a question. She pauses to think about it, but also before can, her mouth is already forming the words to a question? IDK. Go with it. The question is “who do you love the most in the world.

Wow, girl. Thirsty.

He answers that he loves himself the most and ducks underwater. For some reason, Tessa doesn’t believe this, even though we’ve received lots of evidence to support it. Tessa pushes and asks about his parents. Hardin snaps that she is never to mention his parents again. (S: That’s an order, dammit!) Tessa apologizes a lot until Hardin unsnaps and starts throwing her around in the water again. She figures it’s better to apologize so Hardin won’t leave her out in the Murder Lake Forrest. That’s not really what I meant by self-preservation, but I suppose it’s a start.

At one point, Tessa unthinkingly wraps her legs around Hardin’s body and he gasps and there is electricity that is only metaphorical because how I wish that it was actual electricity in that water right now. Because AND THEN THEY DIE. (S: In my version there are suddenly electric eels, extra possible since we don’t know what kind of body of water this is.)

Hardin asks Tessa what she’s doing to him and she’s all, “I don’t know,” which is hilarious to me for some reason. My brain might just be numb right now. Hardin starts petting Tessa’s lip and asks her if she wants him to stop. She doesn’t. He says that they can’t just be friends. I’m glad they tried that for one whole chapter, less than one whole hour, and with semi-naked stream-or-maybe-a-river swimming.

Hardin starts kissing her neck, causing Tessa to moan his name. Hardin wants to make her do that some more and Tessa consents. Hardin carries and helps her out of the water. He asks if she wants to sexy times out here in Murder Lake Forrest or back in his room. Tessa opts for Murder Lake Forrest because his room is too far away. Hardin takes Tessa’s shirt off, and she tells us her “hormones are out of control.” Ana did this (meaning Todd probably plagiarized this) and it always weirded me out when she mentioned hormones during the lead up to sex. I’m not sure why? It’s almost too clinical to be truly sexy. I also can’t imagine some 18/22 year old girl thinking, “oh my! My hormones!” while mostly naked and wet and about to get laid.

Using his shirt as a makeshift blanket, they lie down. Hardin stares at Tessa and she starts thinking about how ew she is and how many other girls he’s been with. She starts to cover up, and Hardin stops her. In another super familiar bit, Christian Hardin tells Tessa not to cover up in front of him. Tessa explains that he’s been with so many girls but he tells her there have been none like her.

Samantha: “She’s not liiiiike the otthheeerrrr giiiirrllllsss” oh wow there seems to be a ghost of shitty tropes in here.


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Tessa asks Hardin if he has a condom, and Hardin laughs at her again. I want to kick him in the dick. He says he’s not going to have sex with her and Tessa gets all awkward and panicky, thinking Hardin is leading her on to humiliate her. The fact that Tessa believes Hardin is capable of that probably means she shouldn’t have sex with him anyway BUT OKAY.


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Mari: Seeing that Tessa is dying a little bit, Hardin clarifies that he isn’t going to have sex with her today because there is other stuff they can do before they get there. He positions himself over here and says, “I can’t believe no one has fucked you before.”

THAT IS NOT A COMPLIMENT? The way it’s phrased is so divorced from consent, as if she’s a piece of meat no one has consumed yet and not a person with AGENCY and FREE WILL who HASN’T LET HERSELF BE FUCKED.

Samantha: I legit got so nauseous. This would make me clench up and face punch so hard. 

Mari: Hardin gets back down next to Tessa so I don’t know why he lifted himself up on top of her to just be like “y no one fuck u?” and get back down. He trails his fingers down her body and into her underwear. Tessa is freaking out a little bit internally, but as he starts rubbing her, all thoughts are gone. Hardin sexy-talks and asks if it feels better when he does it than when she does it herself. And dear our virginal Tessa just looks up in confusion because she has never, ever, ever, ever touched herself ever. She doesn’t even know what’s in her underwear, I’m sure. She probably thinks it’s a bunch of pixels or a black CENSORED sign down there. (S: Barbie vagina.)

Of course, Tessa’s unrubbed fields make Hardin even hornier. Thankfully for me, your devoted recapper, this all lasts like two sentences before Tessa comes and her vision goes white and she can’t form words for a while.


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Mari: When Tessa comes down, she sees that Hardin is already dressed. She’s kind of confused because she figured Hardin might want something in return, but he says he’s fine for now. She gets dressed and Hardin doesn’t say anything at all to her during the whole walk to the car LIKE A JERK.

In the car, Hardin’s like, “what?” Tessa’s like, “IDK, weirdo, You haven’t talked to me since… YOU KNOW.” Hardin replies, “since I gave you your first orgasm?” and Tessa dies an embarrassment death. She powers through, though, and says that his cold demeanor makes it seem like he’s using her. He says of course he isn’t because to use someone you have to be getting something out of it. It’s so brusque that Tessa starts crying. (S: This is just. Really awful and shitty.)

Hardin apologizes because he “didn’t mean it that way.” He assures her that he wasn’t just going to drop her off at her room. He suggests dinner and admits that he doesn’t know what to with girls post-messing around because he’s an emotional virgin, remember. Tessa is going to be the first girl to give him a feelings orgasm, I’m sure.

We end the chapter with Tessa saying that Hardin makes her really emotional.

He makes me laugh and cry, yell and scream, but most of all he makes me feel alive.” 

Wow, that’s funny because he makes me feel dead.

Also, if you guessed one chapter before they started kissing again, you were right. I’m so proud of you! You are awesome and you probably smell like yourself.


Next time on After: They didn’t really fight this chapter so they’ll probably fight in Chapter 26.


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 who now works in a library and a bookstore in order to really drive that point home. 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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  • Care

    Bullshit that a douche like Hardin would be good enough ‘down there’ (to use an EL phrase) to get Tessa off. In real life he’d have just jabbed his thumb around her vulva for 3 minutes and called it good.

  • The Bad Slayer
    • I feel like it’s been a while. Probably not, but you can never have too many AND THEN SHE DIED shots.

    • Samantha

      We remain ever hopeful here at Snark HQ.

  • The Bad Slayer

    I will say, I don’t see the issue with the “no one’s fucked you” line. I get the implication, but some people talk dirty during sexy times so I’m willing to give it a pass. The bit in the car though… DIIIIIICCCCCCCKKKKKKKK. I dated that guy and really wish Tessa would punch him in the dick then say, “Well, now you have *that*” but she won’t. She’s gonna fix her man!

    • Yeah, it wasn’t the dirty talk at all for me. Had he said, “I can’t believe you haven’t fucked anyone yet,” it would’ve been different. And had it been anyone but Hardin, maybe I would’ve been less prickly about it. Like “how has no one fucked me yet?” Um, because I didn’t give them permission, asshat. Dirty talk FAIL.

  • Alicia

    Sigh, of course another helpless “heroine” who doesn’t give two fucks about her own safety and is more worried about possibly kissing him than this looking eerily similar to the opening of a serial killer movie. Great, just what society needs.

    Ooh a field of wildflowers. How original. -yawn-

    Driving alone on a dirt road into a field of wildflowers, now he’s leading her into a wooded area, and just now her suspiciousness kicks in. So they get to a stream-or-maybe-a-river. Make up your mind, Tessa. Clearly you have never seen either a stream or a river before, so you don’t know the difference. A river generally has more room to swim than a stream. So we’ll just go with the advice from country girl over here and call it a river. K? We cool?

    I also had to lol @ her freaking out over Hardin taking her to swim with him in her underwear, when pages ago she could care less that he may be taking her there to murder her. Girl, he probably thinks you’re easy, so he’s trying to impress you to get in your pants. You’ve spent most of this book so far beating it over our heads that Hardin is a player. So…what exactly did you expect?


    I think Anna Todd was probably just too damn lazy to come up with her own description of what Hardin smells like, so she has this smell of him in her mind and just expects everyone else to know what that smell is? I guess?

    I’m going to imagine Hardin smelling like jizz and cow poo. Because I can literally imagine him smelling like anything, since Todd didn’t give us a specific description.

    Generally when I’m cold, I start to shiver. I definitely don’t have the energy to look at someone in a pervy way since my cold energy is spent shivering. But that’s just me, I guess.

    Hardin is definitely swoon worthy at this point during the date. He’s been laughing at her, manipulating her, taking her out to the middle of nowhere without telling her where they were going. And now he refuses to answer a question. I can’t stand when Hardin refuses to tell Tessa anything about his background. It’s meant to make him more mysterious so that when he finally does open up to Tessa it’s so omgz specials. But it’s just super annoying.

    I’m also not sure what kind of question “Who do you love most in the world?” is. Uh, what? Was she expecting him to answer that he loved her? She could have literally asked him anything but that. Except, about his parents I guess…because he’s a douche. He can’t just say “My dad’s divorced, left my mom behind in England, getting remarried to Landon’s mom”. It’s not that damn hard to say? Divorce happens a lot, so Hardin’s not super special by having his own divorced parents.

    And, lol Tessa apologizing multiple times for asking a question that she didn’t know was a sensitive subject to him. She could have said, “Sorry” and he said “It’s okay” then be done, instead of her apologizing over and over so that he won’t leave her behind in Murder Lake Forest. It’s kind of scary that she even had the thought that if she upset him he might leave her behind in the forest. Why the hell you let him take you there then? Why the hell you going anywhere alone with this guy if you don’t know what could set him off and make him pissed at you? It’s NOT cute or romantic or fun trying to guess what’ll piss him off. Saying something normal and hoping that it’s not the wrong thing to say.

    Even at 28, the last thing I think about during the lead up to sex is my hormones. Maybe I’m not having enough hormone-inducing sex?

    Ohh, really Hardin, none at ALL like Tessa? How come I don’t believe you. Because you bragged about fucking half the female population at school. Surely there was a virgin or two in there, maybe a bookworm girl, even a shy girl. Shy girls are usually the easy ones that players like Hardin like to take advantage of. Also, Hardin laughs at Tessa a lot. Tell me how this is endearing? And if Tessa’s that afraid of Hardin humiliating her, why the hell is she even wanting to have sex with him?

    I’m pretty sure Anna Todd directly plagiarized 50 Shades of Grey, just swapped Christian out for Harry from One Direction and then made up a carbon copy of herself for the female lead. I DON’T KNOW HOW THESE BOOKS ARE SO LONG. Like, how do these authors just spew out crap after crap, the same thing over and over again, for thousands of pages? All four of the After books could probably have been split in half, maybe put into two books. I don’t see how four is necessary. Plus another one from Hardin’s point of view, but that just repeats everything. Plus two more from Landon’s point of view. Gah, it never ends.

    Now Hardin’s going to go on about how he’s never fucked a virgin before, or how Tessa’s innocence makes him oh so horny and I wonder where this was ripped off from? Not really that hard to guess. Plus Tessa’s totally unrealistic first orgasm was another rip off of Ana’s. Neither of them had orgasmed before, but yet their first was super quick. I never orgasmed the first time. It took me quite a while before I was able to. Sex (especially the first time) does NOT work like these authors think it does. Have they never had sex before?

    Ugh, dealing with someone like Hardin daily would just make me an emotional mess, and I would also feel dead, rather than ALIVE as Tessa claims. I’d rather not be around someone who’s gonna manipulate and laugh at me, but kay, whatever turns you on, Tess.

    • Samantha

      It’s the worst writing device. That’s why I’ve started subbing in gross smells because fine, you want me to really use my imagination? I sure will.

      • Alicia

        Lol, yeah, using a character to describe how they smell is just lazy and amateur. Todd’s obviously an amateur as we can tell from her writing “skills” or lack of. “Hardin smells like Hardin” and “Christian smells like Christian”. It’s also a way to insert one’s own idea of how said character smells, so like, Todd’s making sure the audience can imagine themselves as Tessa and thinking about what a Hardin smell smells like.

    • Mae

      “I’m pretty sure Anna Todd directly plagiarized 50 Shades of Grey, just swapped Christian out for Harry from One Direction and then made up a carbon copy of herself for the female lead.”

      That was my exact feeling on this as well. It’s just 50 Shades sans spankings.

      • Alicia

        Todd claims she got “inspiration” from 50 Shades but there is a huge difference between inspiration and downright plagiarism.

      • The Bad Slayer

        I will say, she takes the characters in slightly different turns that makes it less plagiarizy in the future. But the ghost of shitty chapters future can reveal no more.

        • Alicia

          Yeah, but there are still a lot of similar scenes and things that happen through the series. Plus Hardin just stays a douche, I think everyone can predict that. lol

  • Joy

    And then he’s like, “No, I don’t expect anything from you,” and punishes her for him not getting off. What was she supposed to do, throw herself bodily onto his penis?

    • Samantha

      And if she had done that he probably would have like, pushed her off with disgust or something. I feel like he’s probably a no win kinda guy, this douchebag.

  • Blinvy .

    I will never understand the people who find romance in scenes that play out to me like every murder scenario ever. No thank you.
    What is with this weird super pure/virgin fetish with women? It seems super popular lately and it feels really icky to me. Like people are repressing their own sexuality in the hopes that some guy will come and show them the ways of everything. I don’t even have a problem with stories about opening up to sex because you met that one special person but this weird insistence that the woman has to have NEVER EVER EVER done ANYTHING sexual with ANYONE including herself is just kind of gross to me.

    • Samantha

      You are not alone, it’s super gross to me too. A person’s worth should never be defined by their sexual experiences.

    • Mae

      And it’s not even realistic. She’s 18 in the age of free internet porn and highly sexualized TV shows on cable. And yet she wasn’t even curious to see how this sex thingamabob works? She never touched herself before while fantasizing? Being a virgin at 18 is totally fine. But why do these heroines have to out-virgin every virgin who actually exists?

    • The Bad Slayer

      Super not cool.

    • Alicia

      Yeah, same here. It does seem super popular with women in stories. All womens must be virgins until they meet their special person, thus the only person they will ever be intimate with for forever. Like, can’t they you know, date and have sex with other people before finding “the one”? Ana’s only kiss before Christian was a peck from some guy. At least Tessa and Noah have made out some before she met Hardin…but that’s as far as they go. Now of course, enter Hardin the playboy, who decides to show Tessa how she can feel good sexually because she can’t feel confident in herself or “alive” without a male showing her how to.

      I have no problem with anyone being a virgin at any age. What I have a problem with, is the message this is sending to girls, that the first guy they have any real strong feelings for will be the first and only person they have sex with, even if he turns out to be an asshole. What’s worse is that Tessa goes into this KNOWING FULL WELL that Hardin is an asshole. A lot of guys like to try hard to impress the girl at first, then go into full asshole mode after he’s won her over. Hardin’s just an asshole from the beginning, so Tessa got herself into this situation in the first place.

  • Mae

    “I doubt he realizes that I’m more afraid of what I might do when alone with him than if he was actually trying to kill me.”
    If you’re afraid of what you might do when alone with a person, DON’T BE ALONE WITH THEM. Also, this does confirm that she’s at least a little bit afraid he’ll try to kill her. Which is legit.

    “Wait, so he thought I would come out here and take all my clothes off and swim with him? My insides stir and I get warm thinking about being naked in the water with Hardin.”
    Not-so-spoiler alert: she’ll do this frequently. Protest because she’s such a good girl who would never engage in sexual activity, then not really mean it whatsoever because she’s horny. There’s this underlying theme in this series where women only say No to maintain their social image and make the man try harder. They’re not REALLY denying the man sex, they just don’t want to be perceived as sluts. It’s disgusting and dangerous and full-on rape culture bullshit.

    “He makes me laugh and cry, yell and scream, but most of all he makes me feel alive.”
    She’ll say this a lot too. Anna Todd has this idea that only the most drama llama highly sexual relationships ever make you feel alive. That’s kind of scary. And bullshit. My boyfriend and I can feel totally alive when we go dog-sledding together even though we’re in 15 layers of winter clothes and surrounded by siberian huskies.

    • The Bad Slayer

      Yes to everything but ypur winter activity. I will politely decline on the basis of snow. But yes, just because I’m not screaming at my hisband everytime I turn around does not mean we are not alive. You can tell we are based on our breathing and snark.

    • Alicia

      Tessa being afraid of what she might do while being alone with Hardin is the exact reason that she shouldn’t be alone with Hardin. I wouldn’t be alone with anyone who I would be afraid would try something with me. Such as, my ex for example. I have a boyfriend, and I respect him enough that I won’t hang out with my ex’s or any other guy that seems like they are trying to flirt with me. It’s not hard.

      I can’t stand the message that only drama-fueled and highly sexual relationships will make you feel alive, while the boring boyfriends are just boring and don’t make you feel alive? lol like what…okay then, guess Tessa would rather be with someone who makes her cry and stressed out emotionally more than makes her laugh and happy. That’s not feeling “alive” to me. Through the series, Hardin really does take a huge toll on her emotions, constantly making her cry and upset and not trust him, but each time she tries to justify it and make excuses for him, or eventually does come running back to him every time. The plot just gets more ridiculous as it goes on. I don’t see why people think these relationships are so great, and I’ve disturbingly seen some people say how much they’d love to have a guy like Hardin. Ughhh. there’s nothing romantic or interesting about him. He’s a douche.

      • Mae

        “Tessa would rather be with someone who makes her cry and stressed out emotionally more than makes her laugh and happy. That’s not feeling “alive” to me.”

        Me either. But Tessa and Hardin both seem to think that you’re only Alive when you’re riding an adrenaline roller coaster: fight, cry, fuck it out, lather, rinse, repeat. Todd completely ignores how Alive you can feel when just being yourself and relaxing with someone you actually trust.

        • Alicia

          Yep, I agree. I’m in a relationship where I feel alive especially when we get out and do normal, healthy things together. It feels great being with someone who you don’t have to be careful around, or worry that something you say will make him pissed off. I find that more emotionally freeing than having to walk on eggshells whenever you speak to someone who supposedly “loves” you. I can’t stand it when a couple fights more than they are happy and they make excuses for each other yet still call it “love”. Say in this relationship, Hardin is the asshole, Tessa’s either constantly blaming herself for his bad reactions or excusing him in some way. In no way, even when I first started reading this, did I ever root for them to be together, they are the worst. I think Mari should do a “worst book couples” video.

  • Da Bomb From Guam Mafnas


  • Charlie

    Yey you updated! I was obsessively checking for a while! God, Hardin is such a jerk! And btw I think I have a theory about the hormones thing: my best is that the author means she is wet, but they are too immature to say it/have their heroine think it, so that’s what it comes across as – immature, as some who isn’t ready to be having any kind of sex.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    How big was the shirt if they used it for a makeshift blanket?

    • Furious Strong

      Since Hardin’s hands are described as being big enough to dwarf a solo red cup, I keep picturing him as being the size of Andre the Giant. Too bad he couldn’t sit on Tessa and end the story prematurely.