Previously: Tessa finally dumped Noah.
Samantha: My mindset for starting this chapter is just having a Google tab of anger gifs open.
Marines: A Snark Lady is always prepared.
Samantha: The chapter begins with our new couple sitting awkwardly on the bed, not knowing how to proceed. Hopefully far away from the bed. (M: AMEN.) She sits in his lap, and I am saved by Steph, Tristan, and Nate coming in. Nate wonders if they’re fuck buddies, and Tessa says they aren’t but neither her nor Holden clarify any further. Nate starts telling them about how Slutty Molly did a strip tease at the party and got completely naked. I just have to go with Molly is completely empowered and in control of her sexuality cause anything else is too depressing/rage inducing. Hardin smirks (like a douche) and says “Nothing I haven’t seen before” (like a douche). Tessa gasps in shock, and Hardin’s face falls.
Oh no, is the poor cruel boy upset that his cruel words hurt someone? DOES ANYONE HAVE THE WORLD’S SMALLEST BAND-AIDE HANDY?
Mari: They were literally just talking about why the Molly thing bothers Tessa. Way to go, Hardin.
Samantha: Tessa internally spirals about how maybe all of this was a bad idea because she never had to worry about STI’s with Noah. Basically. She wishes Hardin didn’t have such a voracious sexual history. I wish she would realize the girls Hardin has slept with is not the problem with Hardin.
Steph invites her to come bowling with them but Tessa declines, and hopes Hardin will as well. Obviously he leaves with them, so Tessa ponders their new situation some more. Will he miss her? Will anything change? Will a plot ever emerge?
Mari: It’s more likely that more girls who have slept with Hardin will appear, but I’m only basing that on the evidence of plotlessness for the past 51 chapters.
Samantha: After an hour of studying Tessa decides she wants to text Hardin but realizes they’ve never exchanged phone number, so she calls her mom. (M: ?) They chit chat and I am reminded that this story has only been a month of time. 4 weeks. All this nonsense and angst and non-drama has taken place over only 4 weeks.
During the call she gets a text from Hardin because god forbid he’s not involved in any scene, even a call with her mother. He tells her she should have come and she tells him that he should have stayed. Then Hardin tells her that he’s already left to come pick her up and she better be ready, EVEN THOUGH SHE PLAINLY TOLD HIM SHE DIDN’T WANT TO GO BOWLING.
She thinks about how demanding he is and DISRESPECTFUL AND CONTROLLING ARE NOT THE BEDROCK FOR A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP. Tessa gets off the phone with her mom (who’s “disdainful” about Tessa calling her back, a weird emotion choice) and changes. She goes to brush her teeth and Hardin is waiting for her when she gets back, like a horror movie. She thinks he’s going to hug her but he just heads for the door.
In the car, Tessa thinks about how much she hates bowling and how codependent she feels. It’s like, Anna Todd is right there, almost fully acknowledging the awful, but then pretends its all romantic anyway. Hardin assures her that it will be fun ’cause everyone will be there. Tessa hopes this doesn’t mean “part-time ho Molly.”
Mari: Can we all pause to acknowledge that Todd has been building this moment of them getting together for 50+ chapters, right, and we finally get here and so far it’s been a few pages of whether or not they should go bowling. WAY TO KILL THE MOOD, WEIRDO. WHY WOULD THIS BE A GOOD CHOICE?
Samantha: We have a tag for this! #SenseThisDoesntAnyMake
Hardin finally clues in that Tessa really doesn’t want to go, because apparently saying no once wasn’t enough, and suggests going to his house. He puts a hand on her thigh and she puts a hand over his and this image makes me vom a little.
They get to the frat house and head up to his room. They sit on the bed and Tessa wonders if Molly was at the bowling alley. Hardin says yes and wonders why she wanted to know. I am not here for Tessa slut shaming but it’s valid to feel weird around your new bf’s ex, which she has made clear she does, so Hardin is being willfully ignorant to suit his purposes. Again.
Mari: Your face just fell like 10 seconds ago, my man, when you hurt Tessa i.e. Molly. REMEMBER.
Samantha: They talk about how she’ll always be around and Tessa tells him she doesn’t want him to sleep with her anymore. Tessa also thinks “She acts like she likes me, when I know she doesn’t“. We’ve been reading this book for over a year but has there been any indication that Molly secretly hates Tessa? I cannot remember and it seems likely this is Tessa Projection. Tesjection.
He tells her she doesn’t have to worry about that and clarifies that he didn’t tell anyone about them because it’s their business. Then he starts touching her bare skin and Tess, Mari, and I all know what’s coming but THE CHAPTER ENDS.
SORRY MARINES. SENDING YOU STRENGTH, GIRL.
Mari: I hate everything.
Next time on After: DAMMIT in chapter 53.