Previously: Tessa can’t get specific enough with her dirty talk so the sexy-times ends abruptly.
Marines: Hey, we’re back! Whatever. Extended breaks are sometimes necessary. (S: Especially with this book, in this timeline we live in.)
In an almost direct copy and paste from every other chapter in the Fifty Shades series, Tessa wakes up next to Hardin feeling way too hot because of course these two started cuddling in their sleep. Tessa doesn’t really want to get out of bed, but she remembers Noah, who got his ass left at the dorms. (S: And is probably ridiculously worried.)
Tessa gently pushes Hardin off and grabs her clothes. She says she wants to leave before he wakes, and figures it’ll be a good thing for Hardin too because he won’t have to spend any energy being mean to her. She knows that any modicum of niceness is followed up with an exponential amount of asshattery, so she wants to get out of there while she can. #romance
Despite telling us that she’s in a hurry, Tessa actually stays back to, like, fold the clothes and put them away and take longing looks back at Hardin. So of course, just as she’s leaving the room, he calls her name. But oh! Further twist! He’s saying her name in his dreams. Tessa has some feelings over his sleep talking and leaves.
Samantha: Yeah, and sometimes I dream about being a nanny to Neil Patrick Harris’s adorable children. Means nothing. Just dreams, romance books.
Mari: Legally binding contracts in romance books.
On the way out, Tessa runs into Landon. She starts to babble and excuse herself, but Landon tells her it’s all good. He knows how much she doesn’t like Hardin so it meant a lot that she came all this way to get Hardin under control. That’s… weird. Do you really think Tessa was in that room the whole night as a favor to you? To get Hardin under control? Hokay, Landon. (S: Uh. Is the weather nice is Denial Land?)
Tessa thinks Landon is too nice. She wanted him to tell her off for leaving Noah’s ass behind in the dorm room and stealing his car, just so she could force a little guilt out, but alas. Our heroine doesn’t actually feel guilty about being awful.
Landon asks if Tessa and Hardin are friends again. Tessa shrugs. She has no idea what they are or what she’s doing. She bursts into tears, and Landon comforts her, saying he knows how terrible Hardin can be. Tessa gets all awkward because she realizes that all the sobbing after sneaking out his room is probably making Landon think that something bad happen. He would never guess that Tessa is crying over her feelings for Hardin.
Which are… what? “Get out before he wakes up and harasses you?” Because that’s what they were one page ago, honey. You are sobbing because something bad has happened. It’s been happening for a while now.
Tessa says she has to go ’cause Noah is waiting for her. She cries the whole way to the dorm room, knowing she has to tell Noah the truth. She can’t lie to him. Tessa walks slowly to her room where Noah is waiting. He jumps up and asks what the heck happened and Tessa… lies to him. She says the part about Hardin being drunk and violent, but says her phone died so she couldn’t call him. Noah tries to call BS on that story, but gets more distracted about the Hardin breaking stuff bit. He wonders at why Tessa would stick around if Hardin was breaking things.
Samantha: This is Ridiculous. Capital R.
Mari: Wait, you interrupted the Ridiculous before it even really took off.
Tessa says she feels like Noah is disorienting her with all his thousands of questions, but honestly, he just asked her two and they were “are you okay” and “why would you stay if Hardin was being violent.” Though, now I see why those very logical questions would disorient our Tess-Tess. Her answer is that Hardin wasn’t being violent, he was being drunk. Someone should explain to our super smart college girl that those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. And also that throwing a bunch of shit around and yelling at people is being violent.
Anyway, Tess says that Hardin would never hurt her and then wishes she could take those words back. Noah says that Tessa doesn’t know Hardin enough to make that statement. Tessa says “yes-huh!” and further tells herself that Hardin wouldn’t hurt her physically, just emotionally.
Friendly reminder that this is all nauseating. Why is this real?
Samantha: Hey! Fun fact! Emotional abuse is real and valid and also terrible! Weird that we need to clarify that but here it is!
Mari: Noah asks why Tessa is even hanging out with these bad Goth people with their drinking and sinful ways, or whatever. Tessa’s all, “GOD MOM, YOU DON’T KNOW THEM.” Noah says he doesn’t like her hanging out with them because they are changing her. She’s not the Tessa he fell in love with. Probably he mostly means that Tessa wouldn’t have stolen his car and left him alone. My theory is supported by the fact that he asks why she would invite him to come here and then just leave him alone.
Samantha: Because she is a garbage person probably, Noah.
Mari: Tess realizes that Noah is really sad. She starts to offer him some explanation but then surprise! Hardin barges in. But it’s not a fucking surprise because Hardin barges in every damn chapter. HE IS THE DAMN KOOL-AID MAN.
Just think about all the separate times Todd thought, “I know! I’ll make Hardin barge in!” followed by, “yeah. Great idea.”
Next time on After: Hardin forces Tessa to confess in Chapter 36.