Previously: Hardin noticed that Tessa’s burger had ketchup on it.
Samantha: Once Hardin has successfully bullied Tessa into the car, they don’t talk for a bit until Hardin asks her about her new look. He thinks its a little “over the top” and cool we’re veering into the shaming and/or “you don’t need all that make up” territory.
Tessa balls her hands into fists in her lap which is a detail that grabbed me because it’s very “I’m afraid and trying to self soothe” to me. She tells him that he didn’t have to drive her home and Hardin, being the aces guy he is, tells her to stop being so defensive, he’s just saying the makeover is “extreme.”
Do not minimize her feelings but also she didn’t even do anything that defensive.
Marines: Honestly. She was just basically saying that he put himself in this seeing her face position, which? True. Also, we spent the chapter before going over how Steph did such a good job toning it down and how it was like “Tessa but better” and totally not that big a deal at all. I’m not sure what Hardin’s reaction is supposed to be? Help me:
1- Did Anna Todd forget what she wrote two pages ago?
2- Is this some kind of “even a little improvement is not necessary because Tessa is perfect” thing?
3- Is something wrong with Hardin because everyone else said she looked great? Is this a Hardin thing?
4- Is Anna really trying to paint it like Hardin is the only one who doesn’t want to change her?
5- Now that I’ve given her 67th makeover this much thought, does Anna Todd win? Has she won?
Samantha: It’s either some combination of all of them or just the most rage inducing laziness.
She tells him she doesn’t care what he thinks (if only) and that he seemed to hate her usual look so he should probably like this better. She also thinks about how she’s already exhausted from being in his presence. Yep, he’s a damn emotional vampire.
He chuckles because he’s TERRIBLE and says that there was nothing wrong with her appearance, just her clothes. Which… are part of her appearance? And he’d totes rather see her in her ugly long skirts than this slutty look. (M: He wants her in fashionable modest wear. Business casual but for like a cool firm. Yeah.) Tessa is internally confused by this shitty proclamation and when she doesn’t answer him, he touches her thigh and is all “did you hear me?”
Fuck. Off. The last time you were with her you told her you’d ruin her and all kinds of horrid stuff. You do not get to preach at her and TOUCH HER THIGH.
Tesaa jerks away from his touch and seriously how is this sexy? No really, though. She is genuinely afraid of him. How does anyone get wet over for real fear and for real manipulation?
Mari: I guess because they are distracted by that scene where he noticed her ketchup.
Samantha: She tells him “If you don’t like the way I’m dressed then don’t look at me.”
I’m just going to hang out here in this moment for a bit because I know as soon as I keep reading it’s going to get terrible again.
Hardin says the problem is that he can’t stop looking at her and literally Tessa considers throwing herself out of the moving car. She knows he says nice things to her so that it hurts more when he turns mean and are we all throwing up? Tessa is aware of what Hardin is. Todd is aware. The reader has to be aware as well. Are we seriously sticking with the grown up version of “Boys pull your braids because they like you?”
Mari: She is setting up this thing where Tessa is assuming things about Hardin which “aren’t true” and Hardin tries to explain it to her (“no, I really like you!”) but Tessa doesn’t believe him. She thinks that this is setting up a misunderstanding situation and not a highly vom-worthy one. The fact that Tessa can’t even believe Hardin’s good intentions MEANS SOMETHING. The fact that she and we the reader completely buy into a highly manipulative and callous Hardin MEANS SOMETHING. She overplayed her hand and later when it’s time to be like “but he liked her all along!” all I’ll remember are the times when he threatened to ruin her or left her crying or made her uncomfortable during foreplay or all the other crap. YOU CAN’T TAKE THAT BACK.
Samantha: Yeah. Yeah. Hardin is genuinely not a good dude. Him liking her all along does not at all negate all the stuff that makes him a bad guy.
Hardin continues that he “approves of” the new clothes (even though a moment ago it seemed he didn’t) but not all the makeup because she looks good without it.
Tessa is all “You don’t expect me to thank you, do you?” so Hardin changes the subject to why she didn’t spill the stepbrother beans. She says it wasn’t her secret to tell and this drives Hardin into a broody silence for the rest of the drive.
They pull up to her dorm and he parks as far away from it as he can,
the better to murder her. She tries to get out of the car but he touches her thigh again and asks if she’s going to thank him and my stomach is already empty due to all the puking earlier. She sarcastically thanks him and tells him to hurry back to Molly. He tells her that Molly “sure is fun when she’s drunk” and fucking ew. (M: I’m sure especially for assholes who are okay with dubious consent?) Tessa lies that Noah is coming over and Hardin gets all panicked and flustered. I feel like this is a moment where I’m supposed to be like “awwww see he really loves her” but literally nope.
We chapter break to Tessa taking off her heels in her room and wait why isn’t this chapter over? Haven’t I suffered enough?
Tessa calls Noah and promptly starts lying to him again about her night and make it stooooop. They agree to get back together if Tessa stays away from Hardin and I realize that nothing matters anymore. They make plans to go to the bonfire together and hang up and then Tessa bemoans having to take off make up.
Mari: Girl, if you think that’s the part of your night you should be complaining about, you were not paying attention.
Next time on After:This Friday night won’t end in chapter 41.