Previously: Tessa got Hardin back to the dinner table with her tears and kisses.
Samantha: The chapter begins with Karen being surprised that Tessa would offer to help with cleanup. What a bunch of rude men she lives with. Because of course only a girl would think to help the lady who cooked the whole dinner. Tessa notices that all the dishes seem new and remembers what a dick Hardin is for breaking all of Karen’s dishes during a tantrum.
Marines: She only remembers this when it doesn’t count.
Samantha: Karen then blushes (?) as she asks Tessa how long her and Hardin have been seeing each other. Tessa expertly skirts the edges of the question with “I’ve known him a month”. IT’S ONLY BEEN A MONTH OF BOOK TIME?!
Samantha: Karen must truly have Tessa’s number because she right away tells her that she’s different (from the other girls). Can we headcanon that Karen is the Taylor of this series? Playing Tessa like a fiddle with her random blushes and her saying what Tessa likes to preen to?
Karen goes on to say that Hardin isn’t as bad as he seems. He’s just hurt and when ittle babies get boo boos they have to break things. I, uh, may have interjected some of my internal monologue in there. Tessa is changing him for the better blah blah blah. I have not seen any signs of change. He showed up for the meal but then acted like an actual child who needed treats to behave. That is not even the bare minimum of acceptable behavior.
Mari: Even if just showing up for dinner is supposed to be this woah big change deal, I wouldn’t say it was Tessa’s ~*influence*~ on Hardin? Like she literally just threatened and manipulated him to be here.
Samantha: Karen hugs Tessa and blots her eyes, ending a masterful performance.
The next inner thoughts section is kind of a hot mess. Tessa stares out the window and thinks about how lucky Hardin is to have his family. “He is lucky to have them, us” Tessa thinks and that is an awkward phrasing.
“I would do anything for Hardin; even though I would deny it, I know it to be true.”
I guess she means she’d deny it out loud but its so strange to see basically “I don’t think it’s true but also it’s true” next to each other. (M: I feel so sorry for us, you guys.) THEN she thinks that Noah and her mom don’t care about her the same way that Hardin’s step-mom cares about him. Whut? Firstly, why are you with a boy that doesn’t care about you a lot? Why are you just chill about that? Second, you had one conversation with the woman, calm down with huge sweeping statements. Man, Karen REALLY sold her.
Mari: I figure it has something to do with the fact that Tessa believes that anyone who willingly spends time with Hardin must care for him? Because he’s awful? And love is putting up with your abusive men? Seems onbrand.
Samantha: Tessa makes her way into the house to see if she can find Landon or Hardin. She claims she’d be cool with whomever but I’m not buying it. She heads to Hardin’s room when she doesn’t find anyone and just turns the door handle. I’m torn because Hardin barges into her room all the time but damn, knocking is an option. What is with these people and basic door etiquette? It’s locked, which is the only reason she knocks. Hardin lets her in and then goes back to sitting in the window seat, brooding out at the storm, without saying a word. No, seriously.
“That just it Tessa,” he says and looks out the window again. “I want to be the one to help you, not him.”
Holy hell, everything really does have to be about Hardin at ALL TIMES. Tessa tells him it isn’t a competition and if it was, he offered first.
Mari: And it’s probably the same contact? And also Hardin is just barely not a child? So, who is he really getting a job? Like, calm down, drama queen.
Samantha: The wind and lightning get more ferocious outside and maybe Hardin is the Antichrist and can control the weather?
Tessa asks if she should have Tristan come pick her up and Hardin doesn’t understand how him wanting to help her makes her think she should leave. I mean, I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Tessa reminds him that he’s barely talking to her and also creating a storm with his mega moody powers. He tells her that she’s maddening because he doesn’t know what else to do. He held her hand one time and told her he wants to help her one time! Everything should be totally clear! God! Tessa is all, “wait he can’t be saying he like likes me right???” inside her head.
He tells her that he wants her more than anything ever and the air becomes charged around them because Hardin is def the son of Lucifer. It’s around now that I start frantically flipping ahead and see what kind of scene is about to start. Buckle up, dear readers.
Samantha: Hardin starts to say that he knows she doesn’t feel the same way, because no one ever said the Antichrist had to be smart. Tessa interrupts him by pulling him close and asking him to kiss her. At least consent was given? He lays her down on the bench and gets on top of her and starts teasingly kissing her slowly and on her neck and stuff. He grinds down on her and “swallows my gasps” because they are his lifeforce! He rubs her over her tights and she thinks about how one touch puts her under his control. He asks what she wants him to do to her and she tells him anything. I cringe at the possibilities. She also notes that she doesn’t care about consequences, which can’t be true because she wigs out every time Noah thinks about dumping her cheating ass. He pulls of her tights and underwear and
“The cool air hits me and I buck my hips involuntarily.”
My brain first took this as she’s suddenly very cold so she’s major shivering but then then evil in my brain was all “no, I think she finds the cool air sexy and this is a sexy move”. So. Idk. Were it me (gag) I would be freezing and just want to get under the blankets. (M: Fair.)
He moves his fingers down her and licks them and asks if he can taste her. Tessa remembers the last time they were going to do this he was “cruel” and hopes he won’t ruin it. With his routine cruelty. He doesn’t make her say it and they head over to the bed. He smirks at her plain and cutesy bra as she takes off her dress and locks the door. He teases her for a bit and then goes down on her and its the most amazing. Then, weirdly, Anna Todd throws this in:
“Without my permission, Hardin slowly slides a finger inside me,”
Like. It’s weird that she thought it was sexy to blatantly point out that Hardin is doing something they hadn’t talked about in the previous conversation. (M: *BREATHES FIRE*) And then continues on with the scene like “ooh yeah, wasn’t that non-consent so good?” She even mentions that his finger causes an “uncomfortable sting”. The magical sexytime continues and the thunder booms around them in answer to its lord’s demands and Tessa orgasms.
Hardin lays down next to her and asks how it was and she thanks him. She’s worried about how vulnerable he’s seen her be now. He apologizes for not asking before using his fingers and it felt good so it’s totes okay with Tessa. She snuggles close to him and he pulls up the blankets, which surprises her because it’s considerate. They joke about getting back downstairs before everyone thinks they’re banging. Hardin gets turned on again as she’s getting dressed and Tessa is surprised again by this. And Anna Todd feels the need, AGAIN, to remind us that Tessa has no piercings, tattoos, and dresses conservatively. Karen interrupts their post-play fore-play by knocking on the door. She offers them dessert and I cheer Karen on for interrupting them and ending this chapter.
Mari: Karen is actually an angel, sent to monitor Lucifer’s son, got it.
Samantha: WE’RE ON TO YOU, KAREN. Save us!
Next time on After: What has Karen made for dessert??? in Chapter 49.