After Chapter 43 – Hot breath in your ear.

Previously: Hardin forcibly puts Tessa in the same bed as him.

Marines: Tessa’s alarm wakes her up and she tries to smack it off, but ends up smacking Hardin. She gets all embarrassed, especially as she wonders how long Hardin has been watching her sleep. Hardin says she’s cute when she sleeps, so Tessa bolts up to remind us of her low self-esteem and quickly counteract the compliment. She’s sure she looks hideous.

Samantha: True story, I, long ago, spent a lot of time worrying about how my then boyfriend never watched me sleep and did he really care about me if he didn’t. I share this embarrassing fact with you to demonstrate how often this weird trope is used to demonstrate intense feelings and also how this shit permeates into young minds. Sometimes media is the first thing we use to model and understand what relationships are and this is why GOOD REPRESENTATION is important. This is probably a less harmful example, but the abusive behavior permeates too.

Mari: Hardin hands her her phone and asks what the alarm is for. She explains that she’s going car shopping today and tells him that he can leave whenever. Don’t tell him that, girl. HE’LL STAY THERE FOREVER. It’s not like he waits for an invitation anyway. Hardin takes this as rudeness and says she’s obviously not a morning person. She clarifies that she just meant that she doesn’t want to keep him and feels bad about being rude and chalks it up to having expected rudeness from him.

I’m past the point of knowing what Todd is trying to do here. Make Tessa seem unreasonable? That only works if you don’t consider his being in her bed RIGHT NOW as an extension of the rudeness we’ve constantly seen from Hardin.

Hardin asks if he can come car shopping too and Tessa doesn’t get why he would want to. She’s just the hideous girl with the morning hair! She doesn’t get it! Why is this guy here! How confounding! Why is he like this! What could it mean! —-> the next 54 chapters, I’m sure.

Oh, and he follows that up with, “you act like I’m plotting to kill you or something”and laughs.


Tessa just overlooks the murder comment and says that she’s taken aback by his cheerful mood and his wanting to go somewhere with her and his not insulting her. She gathers her things to take a shower and tells us that Hardin is unfazed by her honesty. Also, apparently, fans of this book are unfazed by the fact that our main character just told the main love interest that his 2 seconds of marginally okay behavior is a shock to her and he’s like, “yeah.” Fans of this book have not a worry in the world.

Hardin just wants to prove that they can have a normal, fun day. Car shopping. Tessa says that his smile is beautiful and convincing but surely Noah will break up with her if he finds out that they spent the night in bed together holding each other. (S: I mean. Yeah, girl. Duh.) Tessa isn’t sure what keeps her scared of losing Noah, but thinks maybe it’s her fear of her mother’s reaction. Wooooow. She is awful. She’s dated this guy for a year or more and her only feelings about losing him are “what would my mommy say.” Her second guess is that her “old self” is attached to Noah. You know, the self that is exactly like this self but doesn’t wear mascara. Her third guess is that she knows that Hardin can’t and won’t give her the type of relationship she wants and so I guess being single isn’t an option, so Noah it is.

While Tessa is thinking of this, she can admit to herself that listening to Hardin’s steady breathing in her ear is worth never speaking to Noah again. Woooooooooow. Tessa is so lost in thoughts of being horrible to Noah and loving hot breath in her ear, or whatever, that Hardin has to call out to her. She snaps to and realizes she was literally frozen in thought that whole time.

Samantha: Was time frozen with her? Is this like that scene in Into the Woods where Anna Kendrick’s thoughts freeze time while she’s standing on the stairs? There’s a creepy Prince in that story too.

Mari: Hardin asks her what’s wrong and she thinks about how she was just admitting to herself that she has feelings for Hardin and is finally admitting to herself that she wants more from him. Out loud, she lies that she was thinking about what to wear. Hardin eyes the clothes she’s already holding in her hands but doesn’t mention that she’s a shit liar. Instead he asks again if he can come, pointing out that it will be easier for her, so she won’t have to take the bus. Tessa says okay and says she’s just going to get ready.

Hardin follows her to the door and she asks what he’s doing. Of course he is following her to the bathroom because it’s a coed shower in the girl’s dorm room, remember? Boys come from across the campus to take a shower in this coed shower. Boys like Hardin, I’m sure.

Samantha: Man, colleges have gotten complicated since I was there. Do these boys not have showers in their dorms? Is this their designated shower?

Mari: I’m sure Anna Todd didn’t think about it, so you shouldn’t either.

Tessa and Hardin walk to the showers together. Tessa says he’s already annoying her today and it’s like yeah, nice, welcome to where all of us have been since he showed up.

A group of girls walk by and like every set dressing character in this piece, the only point of their existence is to remind us of the desirability of one of the main duo. They stare at Hardin openly and giggle when he greets them with a “ladies.” Tessa says they giggle like “schoolgirls” and admits that they are technically schoolgirls but also they are adults and should act like it.

And for some reason, that’s where Todd leaves this chapter. Probably because she thought that was some kind of sick burn. Wow, good job, Todd. Girls giggling over Hardin are so immature and not at all like Tessa, who very maturely is handling Hardin and his breathing in her ear.

Samantha: It’s possibly the most abrupt chapter ending yet.


Next time on After: Car shopping adventures in Chapter 44.


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.

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.

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  • Alicia

    Hardin watching Tessa sleep, then saying she looks cute when she sleeps, is pretty harmful because we know his being “nice” won’t last long and he’ll find some way to get pissy with Tessa later on. It’s not like he flipped a kindness switch while watching her sleep. Maybe his horny switch, but that’s all.

    Sigh, of course Tessa telling Hardin he can leave whenever because she’s busy doing something else is taken as rudeness by Hardin, the King of Rude. And the fact that she just stood there for like 5 minutes staring into space contemplating why she thinks she HAS to stay with Noah is so fucked up. She was with the guy two years, and the only reason she’s still hanging on to him is because Hardin won’t give her the kind of long-lasting relationship she wants, because he is such a bad boy that he doesn’t date. I think that’s the main reason she’s scared of losing Noah, and it’s not because she would miss him or the fact that he’s a good guy or anything. Hardin’s using Tessa, Tessa’s using Noah. They’re both awful.

    “Listening to Hardin’s steady breathing in her ear is worth never speaking to Noah again.” Cheating for a thrill is worth never speaking to the love of your life again, kids. Anna Todd is condonding and glamorizing cheating. IT’S NOT COOL OR FUN. I don’t know about you but when my fiance breathes in my ear I’m like ugh, stop. It’s not really sexy tbh.

    She admits to herself that she has feelings for Hardin and that she wants more from him. Again, I need to ask, WHY?? For a “romance” novel, this is certainly lacking the romance.

    I also didn’t get the whole coed shower thing. Is this the only shower in the campus? Surely there must be a shower on the boy’s side? Anna Todd obviously didn’t think about anything but the sexy times and lame drama as she was writing this.

    Tessa making an internal burn to the giggling girls about how they are adults and should act like it, just blows my mind. She thinks she’s so mature yet just minutes ago she was thinking how she wants to keep cheating on Noah with Hardin, but wants to keep Noah around because Hardin won’t be in a steady relationship with her. REAL MATURE.

    • Mae

      I lived in a coed dorm my first year of college. Girls lived on separate floors from boys, so no communal coed showers. Granted, this was in the 90’s but I can’t imagine universities in this day and age would willingly invite a Title IX lawsuit.

      • Alicia

        Yeah, I think Anna Todd put the coed bathroom in there for her convenience. Although I’m not sure why, because Tessa eventually ends up spending very little time at the dorms anyway, so I guess it was probably just to create false tension that something naughty could happen in the showers.

  • Mae

    “she wonders how long Hardin has been watching her sleep.”
    Dear Gods, WHY is this a thing?? I could kinda sorta overlook it in Twilight if I squinted hard enough with a bad migraine. Edward can’t sleep and logically wouldn’t want to wake Bella up so he would just sit there in her room like the stalker he is. But why did this become a thing for purely human love interests? If I woke up and noticed my boyfriend was just creepy-staring at me, I’d wake up in one hell of a bad mood.

    “you act like I’m plotting to kill you or something”
    So, is this the second or third time he’s joked about murdering her face off while they’re alone?

    “she thinks about how she was just admitting to herself that she has feelings for Hardin and is finally admitting to herself that she wants more from him”
    Oh, hi, Ana Steele!

    I would like to point out that in the novel I’m writing, not everyone desires my MC or her love interest. Some other characters dislike them and some are indifferent. Kinda like life. This whole trope of ‘everybody wants him but he only wants me’ is nauseating. As is the trope of ‘I’m pure as the driven snow when I want his penis but when other girls want it, they’re foolish little sluts.’

    • misschanandlerbong

      Calling it as a band name: Foolish Little Sluts!

      • Sarah

        Can they be a metal band specializing in empowerment songs?

        • JA Jenks

          This sounds incredible and I would gladly pay for their album.

        • misschanandlerbong

          Of course! Their songs would include: “I have agency,” “Kick those douchebags to the curb,” and “Watch out for Mary Sue.”

          • Sarah

            The first singles from their debut album, “Nevertheless, She Persisted”.

  • So I was talking to a friend about this stupid book the other day, and last night I had a dream that I was dating this guy who was basically Hardin. He was all possessive, kept pushing PDA even though I asked him to stop, and THEN when this other girl kept flirting with him he leaned in and said, “I think she wants to sleep with me.” And I looked at him and went, “Did you seriously just try to make me jealous by mansplaining something a blind person could notice?” AND I LEFT. My subconscious is less tolerant of asshat college boys than the fans of this ridiculous “book.”

  • Charlie

    This “I want more!” stuff reminds me so much of 50 shades it’s not even funny. Hell this whole story is basically vanilla 50 shades. And Tessa is somehow worse than Ana.