Previously: Hardin barged into Tessa’s dorm room again again again again.
Marines: Just to get your romance juices flowing (or whatever) here’s the first line of this chapter:
“Being the disgusting person that he is, Hardin is sitting on my bed when I return.”
Wow. Much swoon.
Samantha: Oh no, my panties explo- oh wait, no they didn’t. They’re icy.
Mari: Tessa has visions of bashing him over the head with a lampshade but doesn’t have the energy to fight with him. For those playing along, this resigned, “I don’t want to fight with you” thing is something that crops up a lot in abuse-disguised-as-romance books. And I mean, I’m sure we’ve all been emotionally exhausted. I get it. But too many times, the emotional exhaustion wrought by the love interest is then used as an excuse for further bad behavior from the love interest or to gloss over the really crappy things these men have done.
Samantha: Didn’t Hardin say last chapter that he’d be done if Tessa went after Noah? GO BE DONE OUT OF THIS CHAPTER, BUDDY.
Mari: If only.
Hardin says he isn’t going to apologize. Tessa goes to Steph’s bed and thinks about how tired she is and how much she didn’t expect an apology. Because remember, max cruelty, disgusting person, etc.
“Last night I thought he was an angry boy whose father left him, and that he held on to that hurt, using the only emotion he could to keep people out. This morning, I see that he is just a terrible, hateful person. There is nothing good about Hardin.”
I know that there are lots of people who really enjoy hate-to-love kinds of stories. Hell, one of my favorites of all time, Pride and Prejudice, is in that same vein. I just rather it all be about misunderstandings and such and not learning to live with the crappy things the other person does to you, you know? I mention this now (again?) (probably) because I do not see how we could go from this point of Tessa saying THERE IS NOTHING GOOD ABOUT HARDIN to a full-fledged romance, especially because I imagine it doesn’t involve apologizing, groveling, time apart, and maturing. I do imagine the author means to say that you can find a human utterly revolting and still fall in love with him because he makes your down there feel that way.
Hardin says Noah needed to know. Tessa tries not to cry. Hardin moves toward her, and she tells him to leave. He does. JUST KIDDING. I wanted to see if you were all paying attention. (S: Don’t play me like that!) Instead, Hardin sits on the bed with her, causing her to jump up. He repeats that Noah needed to know and it tips Tessa’s anger scale. She asks why Noah needed to know and what difference it made to Hardin if he didn’t. Hardin says he would want to know if he were Noah. Tessa says Hardin isn’t Noah and never will be. She was stupid to think he could be anything close to Noah. Hardin snaps at her for comparing him to Noah and uh… bro. You started that one. Literally a sentence ago you said, “if I were him…” (S: I honestly do not know if I hate him or the shitty, shitty writing more.)
Tessa hates how Hardin is only replying to one of the many things she said and twisting it. (S: Also classic abuser tactic.) Hardin tries to get closer to Tessa and she is now scrambling further and further away. We’re reaching “are we about to witness a murder?” territory again. Tessa says there is no comparison between Hardin and Noah. She calls Hardin a cruel and disgusting jerk. Noah loves her and is willing to forgive her for her terrible mistakes.
Using “mistakes” really upsets Hardin. Tessa says that yes, Noah will forgive her so Hardin’s plan to get her dumped so that he can sit back and laugh won’t work.
So Tessa has Hardin’s ~*motivations*~ for his dickish behavior kind of wrong so that’s why she’ll later be like oh I see you are not the most disgusting human I know.
I hate it.
Mari: Hardin tries to say that he wasn’t doing this to laugh at Tess, but she keeps cutting him off because not using your words is what passes as a plot here. She yells at him to get the fuck out. He keeps trying to explain that after the previous night, he just thought that he and Tessa were something. Tessa is convinced he’s lying just so that he can be mean to her later. Hardin again insists that isn’t the truth, but Tess won’t let him talk. She thinks that he’s trying to convince her that he feels the same way she does about him.
Hardin’s ears perk up because all he heard was that Tessa has feelings for him. Tessa notes that he looks hopeful and comments on his great acting skills. This is so bad it hurts.
Tessa thinks her feelings are implied because she’s been subjecting herself to this unhealthy cycle of a “relationship.” But hark! She realizes that she’s barely admitted her feelings to herself and certainly hasn’t talked about them with Hardin. Not that she’s going to do that now, though. She just tells him to get out again. I’m not complaining. The longer we don’t have to have a feelings talk THE BETTER. And fingers crossed that it doesn’t eventually happen in a chapter where Tessa calls Hardin disgusting.
Samantha: Let’s be real, it will probably happen in the same sentence she calls him disgusting.
Mari: And bookended by unsexiest sex. Our future is bleak.
Hardin calls Tessa “Tess” and it pisses her off because that’s what her family and friends call her. But really she hates it because his mouth is sexy when he says Tess. I’M NOT MAKING THAT UP.
Finally, thankfully, Steph comes home and interrupts them. She quickly notices that Tessa is crying and Noah is gone and asks WTF is going on. Tessa asks her to please get Hardin out, and she obliges. In the hall, Steph yells at Hardin because Tessa is good and innocent and too good for him.
Samantha: I’m glad someone is yelling at Hardin but also I don’t really like Tessa.
Mari: It’s the big conundrum of this awful book. Should Noah have known his girlfriend was cheating on him? Yeah, probably. Tessa was being awful. Was it Hardin’s place to barge in and do what he did? Nope, probably not. Hardin was being awful. Should someone yell at Hardin? Yes, definitely. Is Tessa actually “too good” for Hardin? Questionable. No one deserves abuse full stop. New sentence, did I mention that Tessa is awful?
Tessa says her heart hurts. It’s not because her boyfriend just broke up with her, though. It’s because spending the night with the boy she just spent the entire chapter calling THE WORST made her fall deep, deep in love with him. Even though the night ended with an abrupt end to sexy times because he is terrible.
Hardin insists to Steph that it isn’t like what she’s accusing him of. Steph doesn’t buy it and says that Tessa is too sensitive for his bullshit. This also upsets Tessa because she doesn’t like that Steph thinks of her as weak and sensitive. But then she admits to herself that she is too emotional for this.
Samantha: Hey, btw, being sensitive does not mean you’re weak!
Mari: Hardin finally snaps and tells Steph to not bring Tess to anymore of his parties. He stomps away and then turns back to say that he really means it. If he sees Tessa again he will “ruin her.”
Samantha: At least Hardin can’t ruin us. CHRISTIAN GRAY GOT THERE FIRST, HARDY BOY.
Next time on After: Tessa is sad for a few paragraphs in “Chapter” 38.