After Chapter 36 – Max Cruelty

Previously: Hardin solidified his place as the Kool-Aide Man and barged in.

Samantha: Tessa asks Hardin wtf he’s doing here even though the answer is obviously that he has some tasty Kool Aide samples for them to try. (M: OH YEAH.) He booms that he’s here because Tessa snuck out on him. Tessa can tell from Noah’s face that he’s starting to put everything together. Tessa can’t decide who to explain things to so Hardin gets close to her face and yells “Answer me!” Ugh.

Noah steps in between them and warns Hardin to stop yelling. Tessa is too busy thinking about Hardin’s motivations to realize that Noah is probably about to get decked.

Marines: She’s also so very not Naturally Suspicious™ that she registers no danger or nothing wrong with Hardin getting in her FACE and yelling at her. She’s too busy being emotionally manipulated she can’t register danger for Noah or herself so HOORAY.

Samantha: She can’t believe that he’s so mad because she still has not picked up on their abuse patterns. She tells him to not do this right now and then starts thinking about who would win in a fight between Noah and Hardin.

“What the hell is happening in my life that I have to worry about Noah and Hardin fighting?”

Uh, you mean all the decisions that you yourself made that led you here? Obviously I hate Hardin but too often Tessa is wide eyed shocked that her decisions have consequences.

Mari: Also, she gives the edge to Hardin, of course, even though Noah is more in shape. Because hot boy main dude obvs.

Samantha: Noah starts asking questions, and Hardin starts goading Tessa into telling Noah the truth.

“I know how cruel he can be, but this takes it to a whole other level.”

So. Is the thing that we women WANT cruel and shitty guys, actively? Because here is our heroine, yet again acknowledging how utterly terrible Hardin is to the reader. So. The answer is that women want to be mistreated, that we enjoy it secretly? IDK I hate everything.

Mari: We’ve already fallen into this hole where our entire job has become not only pointing out how horrible Hardin is, but how that is actively acknowledged AND ignored in the text AT THE SAME TIME. It’s almost impressive in a very deeply terrifying kind of way. She’s about to talk to herself about how she can’t stay away from Hardin, seconds after acknowledging that he’s reached max cruelty.

Samantha: Tessa tries to continue lying but Hardin tells her to tell Noah or he will. Tessa starts crying because she suddenly feels all the guilt and shame for how she’s treated Noah. Man, that blockade you built must have been a good one. She starts to stutter out the truth to Noah, who finally gets it. He starts crying, and Tessa is consumed with hatred for Hardin so she shoves him. She rushes over to Noah but he won’t let her hug him.

She has no idea what she’s been thinking and for real girl, neither have we. If only the book ended here, with this realization.

Instead, she gives us the metaphor that she is “a moth to his flame, and he never hesitates to burn me.” Cool. Healthy. Fine.

Noah tells Tessa he doesn’t know her anymore and walks out. Tessa tries to rush after him but Hardin holds her back because HE HAS NO BOUNDARIES AND TESSA BELONGS TO HIM NOW, I GUESS. (M: All we needed was some physical restraint to really seal the sickening deal here.) She jerks out of his grasp and he tells her that if she goes after Noah, he’s done. Tessa tells him that she hates him and that something that never began can’t end. #deep. She runs out after Noah.

She tells him that she was drinking and sorry and stuff. She wants him to forgive her so that they can go back to normal. Noah “runs a hand over his perfectly gelled hair.” Hawt. He tells her that he needs to think, kisses her on the forehead, and leaves.

Mari: If you were smart, Noah, you would run away and never look back. Then again, so would we.

Next time on After: Tessa and Hardin have more of a yelling match in After Chapter 37.

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.

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.

Did you like this? Share it:

  • Joy

    Yaaaaay manipulative ultimatums are so hawt. So sexy.

  • The Bad Slayer
  • Sarah

    Noah. Run. RUN. Find someone nice and reasonable and have a good life with them. Leave Tess and Hardin to drown in airplane scotch.

  • whiteraven13

    Just to make sure I’m understanding right, the horribly cruel thing Hardin is doing right now is making Tessa confess to Noah about the cheating, yes? How horrible, Tessa! You can’t string Noah along anymore! I feel so bad for you! /sarcasm.

  • JA Jenks

    Guys, I ran out of the airplane scotch I had on hand for this series. We aren’t even half way through the first book. At this point it’s probably cheaper to build an in-home distillery.

    I dated a guy who used to love to bend down and scream in my face (he was tall) and he’d poke me in the chest with his finger while doing it. He was slightly more charming than Hardin. It always makes me twitch when people scream right in someone elses face.

    • aqua_13

      I hate that there are people out there that treat others this way and I hate that it’s still a trigger for you. I am happy that he’s in your past though.

      If they get into the whole series you’ll have LOTS of alcohol to buy. Especially wine for one segment. 😉

  • Mae

    “What the hell is happening in my life that I have to worry about Noah and Hardin fighting?”
    YOUR choices led you here, Tessa! Grrrr.

    “I can’t believe he’s doing this. I know how cruel he can be, but this takes it to a whole other level.”
    Notice that the new level in cruelty is demanding that Tessa be honest with the man she’s been cheating on and the man she’s cheating on him with. Because the times when people are the meanest to her are when they try to make her face consequences for her choices and behavior.

    Why doesn’t it EVER occur to these heroines to walk away from BOTH men in their love triangles and stand on their own as single women? If she doesn’t love Noah anymore and love-hates Hardin, dump them both. It drives me crazy that so many of these shitty authors like Anna Todd, EL James, and
    Stephenie Meyer write that it’s better to be in a toxic relationship than to be alone. Men can be single (Landon is single for months in his duology and all it does is make him wangst about being lonely). But women better have a partner in their lives or life loses meaning. I HATE this so much.

    • Alicia

      YES, to all those. Also, the last thing. It always annoyed me that these authors can’t even let their characters be single, ever. I get that it’s supposed to be a “romance” novel, but uh, this isn’t romance. If it’s supposed to be about female heroines growing and finding themselves, they can do that while single, instead of being forced to choose between a nice boy and an abusive relationship. Sure, being single does get lonely after long periods of it. Like, I was single for a bit over a year and it was my longest being single since I started dating. It was nice but kind of got lonely. By then I already learned what I want and didn’t want in a guy after dealing with shitty and good relationships, so I had matured through my single time as well. But in these books, women aren’t happy unless they are involved in a love triangle where they inevitably end up picking the asshole.

  • aqua_13

    I once watched a mosquito hawk (not a moth but close enough) get too close to a candle flame in my house so its wing caught fire and it died. In other words, Tessa, you will DIE if you get too close.

  • Alicia

    Tessa doesn’t register any danger when it comes to herself or other people who actually care for her, because she is not Hardin, and those other pesky people are not Hardin.

    Tessa is constantly shocked that her decisions have consequences. It’s another horrible character “trait” about her that never matures. “Noah and Hardin fighting?!? My boyfriend and my side boy about to deck it out? What have I done to have this happen?” Oh I don’t know…maybe if you hadn’t cheated on Noah with Hardin, it wouldn’t have come to this. That’s just a maybe. Hardin’s such a dick that he could have possibly found a way to beat up Noah, even if Tessa hadn’t bothered with him after their initial meeting.

    Okay, so she has acknowledged many times in their short “relationship” or whatever they have, that Hardin can be and is cruel, yet each time he is mean, she’s shocked. Girl. You know he’s a dick, clearly. Just because he says a few nice things to you or does maybe one or two nice things doesn’t mean his entire character has changed. But each time he does one or two nice things, his asshole behaviour is excused once more, and then she’s thinking he has improved – up until he’s an asshole again and she is once more shocked over his assholery. It’s basically the book that repeats itself. Much like 50 Shades, I’m pretty sure Anna Todd copies and pastes some of her own scenes for the later books.

    It’s funny that Tessa hates Hardin after he forces her to tell their dirty little secret to Noah, because what, was she ever going to let Noah know the truth? Or was she just going to break up with him with some lame excuse so that she wouldn’t get to feel any guilt at all from her actions? Or was she just going to keep stringing him along while seeing Hardin for a while? She claims a few times to Hardin that she is going to either break up with Noah or tell Noah, but I doubt she would have told Noah the whole truth without Hardin being there. So Hardin’s not the asshole in this situation Tessa, it’s you. You are not the victim here. Noah is.

    Of course, Tessa going after Noah was her trying to string him along some more. She wants his affection because she knows he’s a stable person in her life, basically someone she can stomp all over and he’ll forgive her just because. She knows how cruel Hardin is, so she wants someone to fall back on while Hardin is being his asshole self. But when Hardin is nice, Noah can basically stop existing for all Tessa cares

    • Mae

      “So Hardin’s not the asshole in this situation Tessa, it’s you. You are not the victim here.
      Noah is.”
      Damn straight! But she has this constant victim complex (so does Hardin in his own way). What she doesn’t realize is that if she became a more active participant in her own life and actually thought through her own choices then stuck by them, she would feel less like everyone’s victim.

      “Of course, Tessa going after Noah was her trying to string him along some more. She wants his affection because she knows he’s a stable person in her life, basically someone
      she can stomp all over and he’ll forgive her just because. “
      Which is precisely what Hardin is doing to her. She can sorta-kinda see that in Hardin in brief occasions, but never once applies it to herself. Because NO ONE in this series has any sense of self-awareness.

      • Alicia

        Yeah, exactly. She hurts people, but they can’t be as much of a victim as she is when Hardin hurts her. Cause her hurts are the worst, and she never hurts anyone on purpose.

        And you’re right, Hardin is also doing the same to her. He strings her along and stomps all over her, but she won’t see it because he’s nice sometimes. Those times when he’s nice to her are few and far between but I also find it hilarious that Tessa was thinking the previous night (while she was cheating on Noah with Hardin) that she would do whatever she wanted to do with Hardin that night, Noah’s feelings be damned. At some points she feels a twinge of guilt for about a second, and now after she was found out, is only feeling guilty and sorry for herself because she got caught. She never once has any remorse or empathy for Noah while she is doing the act with Hardin. If she was she could have stopped this or not even started it in the first place.

        It’s funny too because if she’d ever heard of say Steph cheating on her boyfriend then she would be super judgy about that, but it’s okay when Tessa does it because her and Hardin haven’t fully had sex yet, even though if you’re in a relationship, any kind of intimate physical touch and emotional feelings towards another person are considered cheating. At least, in my opinion.

  • This is too much immaturity for one micro-chapter.

  • funsize

    It’s like Anna Todd read Pride and Prejudice (or had it described to her by someone who hasn’t read the book, or watched any of the films for 25 years, and they only skimmed it) and said to herself ‘that, but with sex and alcohol and tattoos.’ Except Anna Banana doesn’t understand any of the characters development (or character development in general) and now the world is cursed with Wuthering Heights as written by E.L James. Basically all the awfulness of Heathcliff and Cathy with none of the self awareness (I’m like 99% sure Emily Bronte wasn’t thinking ‘ah yes, this is the romance of the ages and couples will want to emulate these two joy sucking Dementors for generations to come) and more insults to the English language than there are stars in the sky.

    So best of luck with reading this, here’s hoping your sanity and faith in humanity remains intact.

  • Charlie

    Tessa can describe Hardin as a tough guy all she wants, but the fact is that she based him on Harry Styles, and he wears US size 4 in women’s clothing. Oh, and this is AFTER supposedly bulking up in 2015/16. 2013/14 Harry (on who the story is based) was even skinnier. Anyway I am not impressed 🤷🏻‍♀️