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.