Previously: Family dinner revealed that Papa Hardin is the Chancellor.
Marines: Tessa follows Hardin out after his outburst, for several reasons: 1- She’d rather be with angry Hardin than his awkward family, I guess; 2- It’s kind of her fault they are here; 3- She knows how awkward it would be if Hardin suddenly decided to hang out with her mom.
Um, GIRL. Don’t you think you should’ve thought of that at some point before you invited yourself to family dinner even after Hardin said he didn’t want to be here? Now she wants to be all reasonable like, “this must be hard on him!” as justification for why she’s running after Hardin after he hand a toddler meltdown at the dinner table? Puh-lease.
Samantha: It’s like she’s written to only have a brain and rational thoughts when Anna Todd no longer needs help moving her “plot” along.
Mari: Tessa approaches Hardin and he tells her to leave him alone and go back inside, where she fits in with his family’s “prudish and boring personalities.”
“Ouch! Why am I here again? Oh, yeah, that’s right: to be Hardin’s punching bag.”
Samantha: The way he grabs and threatens her this can be both literal and metaphorical.
Hardin laughs at Tessa’s weak defense. She yells some more about how he doesn’t deserve any more of her time (but she stays there) and he doesn’t deserve for her to even speak to him (but she keeps speaking to him) and he doesn’t deserve dinner with nice people because he just ruins it. Tessa is crying through all of this. Hardin steps closer to her and she backs away so fast, she trips. This would normally be the point when I point out that totally non-romantic reaction (lather, rinse, repeat), but her step away doesn’t really jive with her perpetual being withing stepping-distance of him, if you know what I mean. (S: Sadly, I do.)
This time, when Tessa looks at Hardin, he looks less murder-y and more exhausted, because being murder-y is tiring, I guess. Tessa turns away from him and he grabs her and pulls him into her chest. Because when she’s walking toward him, he yells and insults her. But when she’s walking away, he grabs her and pulls her closer.
“Faster than I could have imagined, he snakes his fingers around my wrist and pulls me to his chest. I lean into him without hesitation, wanting to touch him so badly. But I know better: I can hear the warning in the thump of my heart, rapid beneath my chest. I wonder if Hardin can hear it, too, or feel the pounding of my pulse under his grip. His eyes are full of anger and I know mine mirror his.”
What the mess is that? Horny body, angry eyes, frightened heart. I kind of want to puke.
Samantha: And as always the implication that he’s just a jerk because he’s hurting so much inside. This book should come with vomit bags, like on planes. It’s only fair.
Mari: Which, wow, I wrote that before reading the next line and it’s a kiss. It fits with Todd’s entire brand that just when we’ve reached max nausea, she thinks it’s time for a kiss. He kisses with so much force, it’s “almost painful.” Tessa gets lost in the kiss mixed with the saltiness of her own tears. Tears she cried, if you’ll recall just moments ago, after Hardin was insulting her. Delicious. (S: It’s really important to watch your sodium intake, guys.)
Their kissing gets all the way to legs parted territory (woah-ho-ho!) but then Landon walks out and interrupts. He’s shocked! Shocked! Firstly, because he thought they hated each other. Same, bro. Secondly, because Tessa has a boyfriend and he didn’t think she was that kind of girl. Not same, bro. Unfortunately, I have the disadvantage of being privy to her thoughts, so I know exactly what “kind of girl” she is. Namely, horrible.
To be honest, though, I’m not really buying Landon’s shock? She spent the night recently and he’s seen them sneak off into corners and crap like that before. I guess, in his defense, their visible hate of each other would make things rather confusing.
Landon dads that he doesn’t know what to think before he leaves. “Then, like something out of a movie, a clash of thunder rolls through the air.” Dramatic, much? Hardin comments on the oncoming storm and Tessa is like, “PFFT. FORGET THE WONDERS OF NATURE. SOMEONE JUST CAUGHT US KISSING.” Hardin thinks Landon will be okay.
Even though their kissy times were interrupted, Hardin is already in a much better mood! See, he’s awful and violent and has temper tantrums, but it’s okay because Tessa can kiss him and make him feel better. (S: Tessa kissed the boo boo on his soul and now he’s aaaalll better.) They agree to go back inside and finish dinner. Tessa comments on his improved mood and he confesses that he doesn’t understand it either.
Tessa and Hardin walk into the house holding hands. Landon sees it, but Tessa likes holding hands so much she doesn’t want to pull away. When they rejoin the table, Hardin even apologizes for his outburst. Hot damn, ladies. Look how well we can fix abusive men with our love! Karen takes it all in stride and accepts the apology. Tessa keeps holding Hardin’s hand and says that for once she’s not overthinking things, like why she’s holding Hardin’s hand when she is dating Noah. We can at least be thankful for that, seeing as how that’s been the plot of the last 46 chapters and yet we’ve gotten nowhere.
The small talk continues as Papa Hardin (Ken) talks about moving to the states and how much he likes it here. He asks about Tessa’s plans for after college and she says she’s moving to Seattle to work for a publishing company. Wow, that sounds like… OH YEAH, THIS IS SHITTY FANFIC OF A SHITTY FANFIC OF A SHITTY BOOK.
We take such long breaks around here that sometimes I forget. (Sorry– this last one was because I made an event and went through a hurricane…)
Samantha: One part MARI IS SO AMAZING AND MY HERO and one part HOW DARE YOU DO THIS TO MARINES, WEATHER?
Mari: Two parts: thank you.
Ken offers to reach out to a contact at a publishing house to get Tessa an internship because she seems like a bright young woman. I don’t know. It seems like a payoff for getting Hardin through like 80% of a family dinner, but whatever.
Next time on After: Tessa has chats with the step-mom in Chapter 48.