Previously: We jump in time a lot because Hardin isn’t around.
Marines: We start just after Steph has finished plucking Tessa’s eyebrows, so you know her sex appeal just went up by like 10 points. Steph does Tessa’s make-up and she’s all nervous about it. I’m almost certain that we’ve already had 3-4 scenes exactly like this?
Samantha: So. Many. Times. Has. This. Happened. Does this book take place in a time loop?
Mari: Tessa tells Setph not to put too much makeup on her since she’s only had like one orgasm, after all.
After all the make-up is on and Tessa’s hair is curled, Steph also dresses her. She kicks Tristan out of the room while Tessa gets dressed. Tristan laughs good-naturedly and leaves. It’s so very unlike all of the behavior we’ve seen from Hardin, I thought I might point it out. But also, I just paused to give metaphorical cookies to a fictional character for leaving a room when asked so, you know, damn it all.
Mari: Steph hands Tessa a short, strapless dress but Tess couldn’t possibly wear it. Steph pulls out another black dress, a longer one with two thick straps. It was only one orgasm, after all. It has a sweetheart neckline, which Tessa is a little worried about, because, she makes sure to tell us, her bust isn’t small like Steph’s.
Tessa takes off her comfortable pajamas and folds them neatly, earning herself an eyeroll from Steph who never folds things because she’s busy having sex, I guess. I’m doing my best to interpret this. Tessa puts the dress on and makes sure to mention again that the dress is snug because she is curvier than Steph. The dress reaches mid-thigh, which Tessa thinks isn’t that short, but it is shorter than anything she would wear.
Samantha: IDK, mid-thigh is fairly short? Not in a judgmental way just in a real world way. I probably couldn’t wear mid-thigh to work is all.
Mari: Maybe we need to have more tattoos and sex? Ask Anna Todd.
Steph offers Tessa some tights and she gladly accepts because she feels so naked. She picks plain black tights over lace tights because it was just one orgasm, after all.
Next up is a page about shoes. She can’t wear high heals. But then she does. This has been a faithful representation of what took 10xs as many words for Todd to write.
Finally, Steph lets Tessa see her fifth makeover in the mirror. For anyone who has never experienced a makeover in media, this is he part where Tessa looks in the mirror and wonders who the heck is staring back at her. She also thinks about how it’s “me, but only better.” (S: You ladies just covered the “Bella is now vampire” chapters and I’m having flashbacks.) (M: Trauma-backs.) Steph calls Tristan back in to also compliment Tessa. After some lip gloss application, they are ready to go and I’m near ready to bang my head against a wall.
There’s a cut and instead of bringing us to the restaurant, Todd thinks it’s necessary to tell us that during the drive, Tessa sits in the back and lets her mind wander. Wow. An editor saw this?
Samantha: I’m starting to think that editors are only figments of our collective imaginations.
Mari: Tessa was expecting to go to T.G.I. Fridays or Applebees, but instead they are at a place with a lot of motorcycles outside. She probably didn’t get the memo that millennials are killing chain restaurants. Steph tells Tessa that Nate is going to be joining them as well. Tessa doesn’t mind, as long as Hardin doesn’t come along. Wow, oh my gosh, imagine if Hardin showed up it would be such a plot twist that none of us would see coming.
They all are seated and a tattooed waitress takes their drink order. Steph and Tristan order beers, which Tess thinks explains why they come here: underaged drinking. Tessa orders a Coke, though, because she has to go home and study later. The waitress brings out their drinks and soon after Nate shows up with Zed, Molly… and Hardin.
Samantha: Nate, HOW COULD YOU FACILITATE THIS PLOT TWIST?
Mari: Tessa spits her Coke back into her cup in shock. Steph tells Tessa they can go if she wants, but then everyone sits before Tessa says anything. Nate, Molly and Hardin take the booth behind them. Zed and Nate both compliment Tessa on how hot she looks. Tessa tries not to look at Hardin and tells herself she can totally not look at him and then one sentence later, looks at him. She instantly regrets it because Hardin has his arm around Molly.
Tessa is probably so angry at Hardin, right? She probably can’t believe his audacity after saying that he would ruin her if he ever saw her again to show up here and then display affection toward someone else in her eye line, right?
“I can feel Hardin’s eyes on me but I can’t look over at him again. He is wearing a white T-shirt that I’m sure lets his tattoos show through, and his hair is perfectly messed up, but I don’t care how good he looks or how skanky Molly is dressed.
She’s so irritating, with her stupid pink hair and her skanky clothes. She is a slut. I’m surprised by my thoughts and my anger toward her, but it’s true. And I really don’t like her. I don’t think I’ve actually ever called anyone a slut, even in my head.”
Oh, okay. We’re going to compliment Hardin’s perfectness and call Molly a slut because Anna Todd hates women, great.
Mari: Molly compliments Tessa as well, but then also cuddles into Hardin’s chest. Tessa fake smiles at her.
Zed grabs Tessa’s Coke and drinks half of it, which kind of bothers Tessa, but only a little bit because Zed is so very attractive. “If he didn’t have so many tattoos, he probably would be a model.” Yes, that is a few sentences after Tessa was complimenting Hardin’s tattoos, for the record. (S: The face I am making at my computer right now. It’s not pretty.)
Hardin starts clearing his throat noisily, causing Tessa to look over at him. He narrows his eyes at Tessa, and she picks up the silent threat, I suppose, but intends to have some “fun” by making Hardin intentionally jealous. She leans into Zed a little bit and Hardin’s eyes go wide. Tessa knows this is all immature and ridiculous, but she figures if she has to be around Hardin, she wants him to be as uncomfortable as she is.
They order food and Tessa feels bad for a second about fake flirting with Zed, but she figures it’s okay because she’s probably bad at it. She asks Zed if he’s going to the bonfire, but he doesn’t think so because it’s not his scene. Tessa says she’s going with Landon and everyone starts laughing because Landon is a loooooooser. Tessa very passionately defends Landon and his coolness, but they tell her to calm down because they are only teasing. Molly smirks at her, probably so we can think she totally earned all that slut shaming earlier with all her smirking and shit.
Tessa keeps sticking up for Landon, saying that she doesn’t like when people tease her friends, especially when they aren’t present to defend themselves. It’s pretty decent for a girl who spends all her internal monologue passive-aggressively hating everyone. Zed backs down and says that he has to give Landon credit for giving Hardin a black eye. Everyone laughs, except Hardin, of course. Nate says it’s a good thing a professor pulled them apart or else Hardin would’ve gotten beat up even worse by a loser. Nate catches himself and apologize for the name.
Not that it matters, because Tessa is done being concerned for Landon because WHAT? The fight wasn’t broken up by a professor! That’s… A LIE. Tessa guesses that no one even knows that Hardin and Landon are stepbrothers.
Samantha: Hardin is such a jerk. You’re too old to be embarrassed by your stepbrother, buddy.
Marines: Hardin looks all worried as Tessa thinks about how she should call him out right now in front of everyone…
But she can’t. If we wanted to switch up the drinking game to drink anytime Tessa thinks she should do something and then immediately doesn’t do that thing, we totally could.
Tessa doesn’t do it because she finds it harder to be mean to people than Hardin does. Her subconscious steps in to remind her how mean she was to Noah, but she quickly shuts that thought down. Instead, she says that she thinks the bonfire will be fun. Zed looks at her “with interest” and says they he might make an appearance there after all. That’s Hardin’s cue to speak up and say he’s going too. Molly laughs because Hardin??? At a bonfire???? BUT HE HAS TATTOOS.
Despite Molly’s eye-rolling, Hardin insists that the bonfire will be fun. I’m going to bet that in approximately 27 micro-chapters, when we finally get to the bonfire, it will be exactly the opposite of fun. Just a guess.
Tessa wonders if Hardin is going because Zed said he was. “Maybe I’m a better flirt than I thought.” She literally hasn’t done anything but yell at Zed for calling Landon a loser. But knowing Todd, she counts that as flirting amongst her characters.
Samantha: Girl, she also SCOOTED CLOSE TO HIM. Bow chika wow wow.
The server brings out the food, and even though Tessa ordered her burger without ketchup, it comes out with ketchup. Tessa hates sending food back (which I relate to, honestly) and decides to just enjoy her fries while everyone eats. When the waitress circles back to ask if they need anything, Hardin speaks up and says that Tessa ordered her burger without ketchup. The waitress asks if Tessa wants the plate taken back and Tessa shakes her head no but Hardin speaks up for her and says she most certainly does. Because he ~*cares*~.
Samantha: Ugh. TESSA CAN MAKE DECISIONS HARDIN BECAUSE SHE IS AN ADULT I KNOW IT’S WEIRD. I’d honestly be so mad if someone did something like that to me, something that triggers my anxiety or whatever.
Mari: SAME. I would’ve been mortified, honestly, and I wouldn’t have eaten the new gosh darn burger.
Molly is really annoyed at all these feelings over burgers and ketchup, or whatever, but Hardin says it’s not a big deal, god, Tessa just hates ketchup. This all reads like a middle schooler’s idea of what the most romantic thing would be. Like, can you imagine if you were at like a bar and he noticed your burger had ketchup??
Tessa eats her burger even though she doesn’t have an appetite. Zed pays for her which makes Hardin even angrier. Zed tells Tessa to ride with him to the party, but she says she’s not going. Tristan is going to give her a ride back to the dorm. Hardin steps in and says he’ll give Tessa a ride. Tessa “almost trips over [her] feet at this.” In this chapter, Tessa is shocked! SHOCKED! every time Hardin says a word. Her shocked reactions include spitting her Coke back into her cup, dropping a fry back on her plate and almost tripping her own feet. WHO KEEPS INVITING THIS GIRL OUT?
Steph says that she and Tristan will definitely be the ones driving Tessa home and they are taking Zed with them. Hardin tells Tristan that he shouldn’t drive drunk on campus because he’ll get a ticket. Steph looks to Tessa, but she can’t speak up for herself because she doesn’t know what to say. Instead she shrugs and leans into Zed while other people make decisions for her.
Molly is all, “fine, let’s drop Tessa off and go to the party,” but Hardin tells her she’s not even invited to ride with them. So, in the end, it’s just Hardin and Tessa in a car together.
“Yeah, let’s go, Tessa,” Hardin says and I look up at Zed and then at Steph.
“Tessa!” Hardin barks again as he unlocks his car door. He looks back at me and I get the feeling that if I don’t follow he will drag me to the car.”
But it’s okay, I guess, that he’s threatening and barking and forcing them into a situation after he threatened to RUIN her if he ever saw her again because noticed her burger had ketchup.
Samantha: I can’t. Why am I letting this upset me so much? DON’T GET IN THE CAR PRETTY PLEASE.
Mari: She’s definitely gonna.
Steph tells Tessa it will be okay, but that she should text as soon as she gets back to the dorm. Tessa pretends like she’s only getting into this car because her curiosity at Hardin’s intentions is getting the best of her.
Pop quiz time! (It’s been a while, so I’ll make it easy.)
What happens during the ride to the dorm?
1. Hardin tells Tess-Not-Like-Other-Girls-a that she doesn’t ~*need*~ makeup.
b. Tessa stands up for herself and dick punches Hardin.
cat. Hardin finally murders Tessa.
Next time on After: An entire car ride in Chapter 40.