After Chapter 33 – Stomach Ache

Previously: Tessa changes into a t-shirt, and Hardin tries to get his sneak peaks in.

Marines: Hardin’s eyes are on fire (“blazing”) as he pulls Tessa onto the bed and on top of him. Tessa is straddling him, which she’s done before, but now she’s straddling him with very little clothing on. She stays up on her knees so they aren’t touching but “Hardin isn’t having it,” and he pulls her all the way down. Because clearly what Hardin’s having is the only thing on the menu.

The t-shirt Tessa’s wearing bunches and exposes her thighs, so we pause a second so she can be thankful she shaved her legs. Now that they are touching, Tessa’s stomach starts turning, but she thinks it’s a good thing. She thinks all this stomach roiling means happiness. She thinks she’s Cinderella waiting for the clock to strike.

Samantha:: This is such nonsense. Trust me, being in a relationship that makes your stomach hurt is WAY overrated.

Mari: I generally do like to do anything that makes my stomach hurt, including date someone.

Hardin calls this position much better and gives her a crooked smile so drink up if you are drinking. Tessa knows that he’s being “nice for him” because he’s drunk, but “right now I will take it.” I don’t really understand what behavior he’s exhibited that makes her think this is “nice.” Pulling her around into the position he wants her in? Okay. (S: Mari! He HALF SMILED at her. He’s practically a saint.) Tessa thinks, “if this is truly my last time around him, then this is how I want to spend it.” In case you were wondering why exactly this would be Tessa’s last time around him all of a sudden, she further elaborates that she’s telling herself that she can do whatever she wants with Hardin tonight because starting tomorrow, she is going to Stay Away From Hardin™. Also, Tessa excuses taking advantage of drunk Hardin by telling herself that she is just as intoxicated by him as he is by a bottle of scotch.


Hell to the no.

Samantha: Just. Stop it. That is not an accurate or true or okay excuse. 

Image result for bullshit gif

Mari: Hardin just keeps staring into Tessa’s eyes, to the point where she gets uncomfortable because she doesn’t know what to do next. Hardin’s like, “oh, hey, what’s wrong? Is it creepy that I am just sitting here staring into your eyes saying nothing?” He doesn’t say that.

Tessa says she doesn’t know what to do. Hardin tells her to do whatever she wants to do and not overthink it. She leans back away from him to create space, and I laugh because, even though it’s unintentional, the first thing Tessa does when given “permission” to do whatever she wants is GIVE HERSELF SOME SPACE. 

Samantha: Todd doesn’t even know that subconsciously her brain was like “RUN AWAY”.

Mari: Anyway, Tessa puts her hands on Hardin’s chest and starts tracing his tattoos. Hardin is breathing heavily, and when Tessa gets to his boxers, he looks all nervous. She asks him if she can, um, touch him. She hopes he doesn’t ask for more details because she can’t say any of the words that mean penis.

“Who is this girl straddling this punk boy and asking to touch him… down there?”

Legitimate question! Is it Anastasia Steele? It could be.

Hardin gives his permission so Tessa starts just kind of grazing her hands over his “growing bulge.” After a paragraph of this, Hardin asks if she would like him to teach her what to do. Tessa nods and he basically just puts her hand around his penis? I really want to know what she was doing before that he was like, “no, no. Let me show you. Step one- touch penis. Thus endeth the lesson.” Just kidding. I don’t want to know at all. 

Tessa looks up at Hardin “through her lashes” and Hardin is all “no don’t do that it is too sexy, too innocent.” We all know what those through-your-lashes looks do to boys.

Samantha: Is this the Ana biting her lip of this book series? 

Mari: Impossible on account of looking up through her lashes was also the Ana lip bitting of the Fifty Shades series. ELJ covered all the terrible bases.

Tessa wants to throw herself back onto the bed and let Hardin have his way with her. She wants to be free for a moment from whatever makes her scared all the time. I’d like to say that thing that makes her scared all the time is the realization that she’s dating an abuser, but we all know that’s not true.

Tessa keeps up her hand job and we’re treated to all her deep thoughts about it (should I go faster? Should I squeeze tighter? Should I take off his boxers?). She does none of these things, but does start kissing Hardin’s neck. He dirty talks that her hand feels so good, and encouraged, Tessa squeezes him even tighter. He has to quickly tell her, “not that hard, baby.

I don’t want to laugh because open communication in a relationship is so important, and also there is no shame in being inexperienced. I do want to laugh because of the sequence of events. The struggle is real. (S: Same struggle happening over here.)

Hardin’s hands go up to Tessa’s chest and this happens:

“His hands go to my chest and he cups my breasts beneath his hands.
Can I. Take. Off. Your…bra?””

Repeat. The.
I. Fell. Asleep.
In the…. middle?

Samantha: Is this. How. Humans. Speak when. Aroused?

Mari: If you’ve been doing it wrong, no need to confess in the comments.

Tessa gives him permission and he expertly removes her bra. Tessa only thinks about how much practice he must have doing that, but shuns such horrible, horrible thoughts awayVery soon, Hardin says he’s going to come. His kisses get all sloppy (?). I’m sorry for the visual, but the best way I can recap the rest of this scene is by saying that Tessa’s thoughts are Jim Carey and Hardin is a fire hydrant.

Tessa says that after Hardin comes, her chest fills with this strange new sense that she’s one step closer to becoming a woman. Ah yes, bringing men pleasure, that universal key to womanhood we all know so well.


Image result for kill me gif

Mari: Tessa just stares at the wet spot on Hardin’s boxers as he recovers from what he says was a totally unique experience for him. Tessa’s on-the-hand-job training apparently gave him the greatest orgasm of all time. What he actually says is, “I have never come like that before,” and Tessa gets all embarrassed, taking it to mean that she did something wrong. Hardin tells her she was so good at that! Usually it takes more than someone just grabbing him through his boxers to make him come. Of course, this just again reminds Tessa of all the women Hardin has been with, so she gets sad and jealous. She tries to take solace in the fact that she’s better than all them, but alas. Tessa doesn’t know why she bothers to be jealous since she’s planning to Stay Away From Hardin™. She laughs at herself as she thinks about how much she wants to just live in this moment, since she’s not a living in the moment kind of girl.

Hardin asks what she’s laughing out loud to herself about. She doesn’t want to tell him about her jealous thoughts. Hardin starts to tickle her, and we get another moment that is indicative of a woman trying to convince herself that her abuser loves her:

His laughter booms through the room– and it’s the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. I have never heard him laugh this way, and something tells me hardly anyone has. Despite his flaws, I consider myself lucky to see him in this moment.”

I truly do not understand this idea that even though the bad stuff is really bad and really prevalent, it makes the good stuff more valuable because it’s so difficult to come by. PSA: the laughter of someone who treats you well and laughs often is no less precious than the laughter of dick because you only hear it once a year.

Samantha: It’s true. Contrary to popular belief the brief laughter of an abuser does not erase all the abuse.

Mari: Tessa is out of breath and tells Hardin she’ll tell him what she was thinking. Spotting his wet boxers, though, Hardin tells her to hold that thought because he has to change his boxers.





Samantha: Am I laughing or crying? Even I can’t tell anymore.


Next time on After: Hardin changes his boxers in chapter 34.


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.

Did you like this? Share it:

  • Blinvy .

    Well, at least she managed to get the brief sex scene over in one chapter. Although, who knows how long she’ll drag out the post sex scene?
    I still remain confused that an editor didn’t fix these ridiculous chapter breaks for her. Jesus Tap Dancing Christ, it’s all one scene, it should all be in one chapter. The only reason there are so many chapters is because she was basically writing a serial (very poorly since most serials will attempt to finish an entire scene before setting up a way more enticing hook than “change boxers”). Just make her smoosh scenes together, tighten it up. The story was done she got a fucking pay cheque for this shit, she should have worked for it by fixing up her manuscript. This is just laziness. I do not abide.

    • Samantha

      It’s terrible. It depresses me when I realize how lazy this makes her and worse, the publishing company.

    • Charlie

      I wouldn’t blame the editor. ELJ’s editor said she wasn’t allowed to touch the noook too much, because it was already popular as it was, and it retrospect she wishes she had gone with her gut and did the necessary changes (and there are basic spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes there not to mention research that takes a 30sec Google search.) my point is: I am suspecting something similar happened here.

  • AmandaOoooh

    I was supposed to stop following along with these weeks ago. -sigh- I hate Anna Todd.
    I call total bullshit on “I’ve never come like that before”… it’s kind of a running joke, you know, in the entire world that guys are pretty easy to push over the edge, if you know what I’m sayin… Why do these dumb authors insist on pushing that crap on us?

    Also, maybe it’s because I’m not actually reading the book (thank jeebus) but that line about his laugh booming through the room scared the shit out of me. It was such weird imagery and felt like it came out of nowhere. Why can’t he just laugh like a normal person and not, you know, like a marching band?

    • Samantha

      I am half asleep at work and the description on “you know, like a marching band?” has made me laugh so much and hate being awake a little less.

      • AmandaOoooh

        Least I can do considering I use you guys to avoid doing actual work all the time!

  • Mae

    “she’s telling herself that she can do whatever she wants with Hardin tonight because starting tomorrow, she is going to Stay Away From Hardin™”
    So, she intends to have a one night stand then avoid the guy from here on out. Tell me again how she’s the good little virginal girl and Molly is the whore for doing that same exact thing.

    “Can I. Take. Off. Your…bra?” Is he having an asthma attack while forgetting the name of her clothing item? Or is this more of how Christian Grey used to if.That. and not. Remotely. Annoying. Also, I don’t know what Todd’s fascination for ellipses are but at this point, even Stephenie Meyer is telling her to tone it down and finish a damned sentence once in a while.

    “Tessa says that after Hardin comes, her chest fills with this strange new sense that she’s one step closer to becoming a woman.”
    Yes, hetero hand jobs make the woman. Forget taking on adult responsibilities, or emotional maturity, or hell even just the fact that she’s legally an adult and therefore a woman not a girl. Nope. This is how you become a woman. Hear that, all you asexuals, demisexuals, and lesbians? You never really grow up. Grrrr.

    “His laughter booms through the room– and it’s the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. I have never heard him laugh this way, and something tells me hardly anyone has. Despite his flaws, I consider myself lucky to see him in this moment.”
    I wholeheartedly agree with your PSA. But Todd is beating us over the head with awakenings. Tessa took one step closer to being a woman by sexually servicing her man. Hardin took one step closer to being a man because he wasn’t a total dick to his woman for five minutes straight. Her vagina is awakening and so is his heart. Blech.


      • This made me laugh way too much.

  • JA Jenks

    Guise. He asked for consent to remove her bra. I mean, can we get a “shock shot” going because I didn’t see that coming.

    • Samantha

      YES. It’s frustrating because clearly he understands the concept so like, USE THE CONCEPT ALL THE TIME PLEASE.

  • Alicia

    Hardin’s eyes are “blazing” and “on fire”, wow sounds painful. Ooh, Tessa’s straddling him with very little clothing on, it means she’s gone full on bad girl now. She probably has the demons inside of her or something. We need an exorcism over here.

    Oh yes mentioning her shaved legs during a supposed “sexy” scene is a definite turn on. Like seriously if you didn’t know Todd was in her mid 20s when she wrote this, you’d think she was in middle school. Especially with the whole Cinderella waiting for the clock to strike bit.

    Ahh, Hardin half-crooked-smiled at Tessa, he’s got a halo around his head by this point. Forget all the nasty things he just said to her like 10 minutes ago.

    NOPE, NOPE, NOPE. Tessa taking advantage of a drunk Hardin and trying to justify it makes me rage. Like, okay, if this were a scene where sober Hardin was taking advantage of a drunk Tessa, how many people would call it “rape” instead of “hot”? I think Todd must be one of those feminists who think that men can’t be taken advantage of and that women are always the victims of everything. Basically Tessa is raping Hardin right now, because he is drunk and can’t consent. But it’s okay, because she’s a girl and girls can’t rape drunk guys because the guy always likes and wants it no matter the state he’s in. -rolls eyes- I have heard this so many times: “If a girl is drunk and says she wants it, the guy should still say no because the girl can’t think properly and make the right decision when she’s intoxicated”. IT SHOULD STILL BE THE SAME IN THIS TESSA/HARDIN SITUATION. Todd is saying that it’s okay for a girl to rape a guy while he’s drunk. NO IT’S NOT.


    Ana looked through her lashes a lot and it made Grey practically cum on sight of her doing this so it’s another copy/paste thing. Tessa doesn’t bite her lip as much as Ana, though, but she does it sometimes.

    Maybe the fact that you’re dating an abuser, and that you still have a boyfriend is what is making you scared Tessa. Also if you do have sex with Hardin tonight you’ll actually be a full-on cheater and no longer the “saintly” cheater you have been ever since you kissed Hardin the first time. You can no longer judge girls who “sleep around” with guys, because you’d be doing the exact same thing.

    That was a very weird way to say that he wants to take off her bra. Where’s Todd’s non-existent editor? Probably drunk on his job, having to edit these horrible books.

    Tessa’s thinking about how much practice Hardin has had …well no duh, Tessa. He’s surely had girls in his life before you, no? If you wanted a guy who hasn’t done anything before seeing you…well you’ve got one, waiting back at the dorms for you.

    Yep of course Tessa’s instantly good at giving Hardin a hand job despite all the girls he’s fucked before her, but oh we’re meant to think that she is “special” because he now has “feels” for her. Just like how Ana was instantly good at giving Grey a blow job, even swallowing on the first try. Like, wtf?

    Now Hardin’s laugh is special because he rarely laughs so she’s happy she gets to see him in this moment. Again, might I remind you that he is still drunk from that bottle of Scotch he downed not long ago. Of course he’s going to act like not himself, so him suddenly laughing is really not all that special. Tomorrow he’ll just be back to scowling and glaring at you.

    His “I’ve never come like that before” line is complete bullshit. But again, Todd is trying to push on us that while Tessa is a vagina virgin, and having all these sexual firsts with Hardin, Hardin is a heart virgin…in that he’s somehow developing some sort of “feels” for Tessa which he supposedly never had for anyone before. That’s why her making him come is suddenly so different and special compared to the many girls he was with before her.

    • The Bad Slayer
      • Alicia

        Oh I know -cries- lol

    • JA Jenks
      • Alicia

        Ah of course how dumb of me. The blood alcohol level in his system is now 0 because they yelled at each other. Forgot how the body actually works when intoxicated. This book is v educational.

    • Mae

      “Where’s Todd’s non-existent editor? Probably drunk on his job, having to edit these horrible books.”
      According to the acknowledgments in Before, he edited 5 long books in one year just for her series while she admits she kept calling and texting him about random shit. So yes, I assume he was huddled under his desk with an airplane bottle of scotch after only a few chapters of book 1. But rushing the books through so quickly does explain A LOT.

      • Alicia

        Oh man, he would need a lot of alcohol to deal with that crap. I did read that she kept texting and calling him about random shit. I can imagine some of the things she must have said to waste his time.

        “Do I put an elipse here or there?”

        “Harry’s new name must start with an H bc we can’t lose ‘Hessa’ also he must have the same last initial and it will apply to all the guys from 1D”

        “Don’t take that scene out, it’s ‘hot’ and I want much sexytimes plus we HAVE to describe Hardin’s looks every time he’s in a scene.”

        “Make sure Hardin tells Tess that he feels for her after every time they fight so that everyone can still think he’s cute after all the abuse-y things he’s done”

        “Haha omg I said after and my book is called After, so funny right”

        “Well, that scene doesn’t have Hardin in it so maybe take that one out”

        “We have to make it as much like my online book as possible bc the readers will flip out if it’s even two chapters shorter so MAKE IT LONGERRR”

        “How many corny ways can we write that Hardin gave Tessa an orgasm before they actually have sex?”

        “Hey come out from behind your desk, we’re not through yet! Still 2 and a half books to go!”

        “Plz describe shirtless Hardin one more time so it’ll make the ladies extra orgasm”

        “Okay Hardin sounds a little mean here, better make sure he tells Tessa she’s sexy and kisses her so that everyone will love him again”

        “That abuse-y thing that Christian did in 50 Shades was actually sexy, so Hardin will do that to Tessa, too!”

        …most likely, right?

        • Mae

          I can totally see this. And don’t forget, she wrote that she’d text him about Twilight fandom bs too. You know, because that’s an appropriate use of your editor’s time. So, probably add “this is totally like Bella, right?” and “Hardin is way better than Edward, right?” Meanwhile, the editor is seriously considering throwing his phone at the wall and silently screams whenever his text alert goes off.

  • Joy

    This just makes me feel so icky. So, so icky. Like, I want Joe Biden to just sort of appear in Hardin’s bedroom and give Whatserface his talk on consent?
    But at the same time I want her to just run away and never, never come back? Is that the lesson here? Sexual assault is okay as long as it’s to an abusive asshole? :/

  • The Bad Slayer

    As some who read allll the books (I don’t know either. I guess I’m a masochist.) I have incredibly bad news for those of you upset about AnaTessaBell and her dubious handy j…IT GETS WORSE. (Oh, um, spoiler alert.) There is a part that legit made me more uncomfortable than I think any of the source material. So, yay…? We have so much to look forward to. 😣

    • Samantha

      I’m……uh….excited is the wrong word.

  • The Bad Slayer

    I’ve always fancied myself the Susan Powter* of sex insofar as I firmly believe that if you can’t say it, you shouldn’t be doing/touching it. Never have I felt more strongly than when I read the 50 Shades of After Twilight (recaps, mostly I’ve only read the recaps). If you can’t *say* penis your hand should not be *on* a penis.

    *Susan Powter was a diet/food lifestyle guru for awhile in the late 80s. Her shtick was that if you can’t pronounce your food ingredients you shouldn’t eat them.

    • Samantha

      Oh interesting! I’ll have to look her up!

  • Sarah

    If that were just a young couple experimenting for the first time, either together or at all, it’d be cute. But it’s Tess and Hardin so it’s just overloaded with problems and unfortunate implications. (Also, he’s totally lying about how she’s the best in order to sucker her in further. Again, wouldn’t say anything if it weren’t these two because there’s nothing wrong with a lack of experience or reassuring your partner.)

    Ugh, the lashes thing! I don’t know why, but that’s just a major turn off. I’ve had to grit my teeth through the romance scenes in old movies because the women KEEP DOING THAT. There are surely people who can pull it off naturally, but every time I’ve seen it it’s just so affected.

    • Mae

      I always picture one of the Kardashians in false lashes trying too hard to look sexy in a selfie when I read about women looking up through their lashes.

    • Samantha

      Right exactly, a lot of stuff in here is VERY SPECIFIC to the trail of abuse we’ve already witnessed.

  • Sorry if this weirds anyone out, but every time I hear/see/read about a dude getting off while he’s still dressed I cannot help but be reminded of the ending of 40 Days and 40 Nights with Josh Hartnett. Since that happened under really gross circumstances (his ex molesting him in his sleep) I’m always like “remove those barriers and let your dick be free!”

    • Samantha

      Oh my gosh I have no idea what that scene is but a picture has been painted.

  • Charlie

    You know, it’s usually not a good thing for the guy to come so fast. I am starting to doubt Hardin’s sexual prowess.

    Also that last quote… I am reading Killing Stalking and I am uncomfortably reminded of Yoonbum trying to convince himself that Sangwoo loves him because for once he doesn’t hit him, after days of physical and psychological torture. That’s… not good, Anna Todd.