After Chapter 55 – Abuse of power

Previously: Tessa did not want to shower with Hardin.

Marines: Landon keeps his commentary mostly to himself as Tessa tells him the story of how she broke up with Noah and got together with Hardin, though she doesn’t know what to call that relationship since they haven’t discussed “technical terms.” Landon half-warns Tessa about Hardin and half-admits that Hardin does seem infatuated with her. “As infatuated with you as someone like him can be.” 

Um, thank you?

Samantha: How dreamy!

Mari: Tessa doesn’t think that’s a weird or shitty thing to say at all and instead thinks how cool it is that Landon is being “supportive.”

We jump suddenly and awkwardly to the end of Tessa’s sociology class. Her professor calls up to the front and lets her know that she’s to report to the Chancellor’s office. Tessa has a mini-freak out before she remembers that the Chancellor is Hardin’s dad. Still, she feels like it’s getting called into the principal’s office. Because… yes.

It takes Tessa half an hour to walk to the Chancellor’s office. Once there, she’s ushered in pretty quickly. Ken apologizes for calling her from class, but he didn’t know how else to get in contact with her, and he has several things to discuss with her. First up is the internship. He spoke to his contact who wants to meet Tess ASAP, like tomorrow. Tessa is so excited that she jumps out of her chair…? Like this is a YouTube video and her parents surprised her with a trip to Disney. Calm down, Tessa.

Tessa thanks him and agrees to the interview.

Next, Ken says he has a favor to ask that has nothing to do with the internship and if she declines it will not effect that opportunity at all. See, next weekend is Ken’s wedding and Hardin is refusing to go. He asks Tessa to try and convince him to attend, because she’s the only one who can. Ken knows this is overstepping (and a pretty clear abuse of power, if you ask me…) (S: Holy hell, it reeks.) but he just knows Tessa will be able to convince him. Tessa doesn’t understand why people think she can make Hardin do anything. Could it… could it be that Hardin is in love….?

NAH, she decides. That is ABSURD.

Samantha: Everyone knows that evil robots aren’t capable of love!

Mari: Tessa tells Ken that she will talk to Hardin because she would also like it if he went to the wedding. Ken thanks her, hopes she didn’t feel pressured to say yes, and hopes to see them both at the wedding. Tessa thinks a wedding with Hardin sounds wonderful and not like a public event with lots of chairs, plates and booze, things he loves to throw around during tantrums. Tessa and I have different notions of things that sound wonderful.

Ken tells Tessa that Karen really enjoyed having her over. She’s welcome back any time. Tsesa jokes about taking Karen up on those baking lessons. Ken laughs and tells her for sure. Come over any time. Tessa notices how much Hardin looks like Ken when they laugh and she vows within herself to help Ken in any way she can. “He’s so desperate to have a relationship with his angry, broken son, that it makes my heart ache for him.”


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Mari: Tessa thanks him again for the internship and he compliments her on her impressive resume and transcripts, really buttering her up by saying that Hardin could learn a lot from her.

Tessa hurries along to Lit class and is pleasantly surprised to see Hardin miraculously dropped back into the class. Hardin asks why Tessa was late. She promises to tell him after class, so that he won’t make a scene during class. When class is over, Landon asks if Tess is still going to the bonfire with him and Dakota. He also invites her to dinner before. Tessa happily agrees to both. Landon says he’ll text her later and leaves. Hardin makes fun of Landon for saying that he’ll text her later? I’m not entirely sure why that earns his ire. (S: How dare another penis text HIS PROPERTY.) (M: Okay, probably that.) When Tessa defends Landon, Hardin says he’s allowed to make fun of him because Landon is living with his dad. I… what? That doesn’t make sense. Hardin’s not making Earth sense.

Tessa uses the mention of Hardin’s dad (ah, I see. The author just needed a way for Tessa to say, “speaking of your dad…”) to tell him about the interview she has tomorrow. This makes Hardin angry. Tessa also tells him that they are both invited to Ken’s wedding. This makes Hardin angry. He doesn’t want to talk about it and tells her to mind her own business, but Tessa presses a little, so he stomps off like a baby and peels away in his car. (S: Who taught the toddler how to drive?!) Tessa thinks he just needs time to cool down. But the she’s like, “who am I kidding?” She keeps expecting to change Hardin with her love and blowies, but he’s still “stubborn and has an attitude problem.” She does concede that some things are different. Like he’s nicer to her (is he?) and he kisses her in public now (wow).

Samantha: Which she didn’t even really want him to do.

Mari: Stunning progress, really.

After all this emotional turmoil, Tessa walks to her room. Steph is there and she totally knows that Tessa spent the night with Hardin. Tessa makes her promise to keep the secret. We sum up the rest of the time with Steph in a sentence because is Steph not Hardin. God forbid we spend words on people who are not Hardin. Steph’s boyfriend comes to pick her up and he’s an actually decent person and is nice to Steph, so Tessa sighs and wonders why Hardin isn’t like that.

Samantha: You get the garbage that you pick up from a frat house.

Mari: Alone, Tess studies and then decides to take a shower. Hardin texts her and tells her to be ready because he’s coming to pick up her so she can spend the night again. Obvs Tessa is all for it because weeeee! She quickly showers, has time to pack a small bag, and then Hardin is there, letting himself into the room without knocking, grabbing her shit, and then not talking to her all the way to the car. Tessa can only hope that the rest of the night isn’t like this.

We’re heading back into night time and the vicinity of a bed. We are once again in grave danger, dear friends. Send up prayers, light incense, send drinks. You know the drill.

Samantha: We can never really be prepared enough.



Next time on After: Twenty questions and a nightmare in Chapter 56. 

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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  • Blinvy .

    The internship is the most ridiculous thing ever and I can’t wait for you to get to that chapter because it’s at least a little bit funny. Unlike this chapter which was just a lot of nothing again. Also kind of depressing because she’s telling herself how much better things are when Hardin is still treating her like crap. It’s just too depressingly real and sad. Get help, Tessa.

  • Alicia

    Uh, yeah, it’s so dreamy when you broke up with your steady boyfriend to get with someone new and you don’t even know the relationship status. Hardin hasn’t even called her his “girlfriend” so I don’t know why that is a desirable trait in a guy now. Girls want a guy that’s so badass and tortured that he can’t call them their girlfriend? Huh. Interesting. I guess it’s more of the “Hardin loves her but doesn’t know how to show it” trope.

    Oh, gag me. Ken asking Tessa to do him a favour and get Hardin to come with her to Ken’s wedding is a push on “only Tessa can convince Hardin to come because Hardin’s in ~love!~ with her”. Gag gag gag. And Tessa being so naive that thinking going to Hardin’s father’s wedding with Hardin, whom Hardin’s clearly at odds with, is going to be “wonderful” and not end with a Hardin tantrum at all. Sigh.

    And Tessa thinking she’s made progress with Hardin because he kisses her in public now (?) and yet he still has tantrums in public when discussing things he doesn’t want to do. If she’s made progress with him, how come she still doesn’t know what the status of their relationship is, and he doesn’t proudly introduce her into his group of friends as his girlfriend? Why is he still acting like a little shit and drinking heavily when he doesn’t get his way?

    Tessa wonders why Hardin can’t be more affectionate with her like Steph’s man is with Steph. Tessa, girl, you left a guy who loved you and treated you right for a guy who treats you like shit because you thought you had some mystical connection with the bad, broken, angry guy and wanted to change his less-than-pure ways. You got yourself into a shitty situation with a shitty human. You can’t cringe anytime someone else shows affection to their partner in front of you because of your own damn choices. Just like she cringed and looked away when Karen kissed Ken on the cheek.

    Like, Tessa knows what it’s like to be treated decently by a good boyfriend. She also knows what it’s like to be around a dangerous alcoholic, as in experience with her father. You would think she wouldn’t be so fucking dense around someone like Hardin, who’s a shitty human and an alcoholic when he doesn’t get his way. This downfall of hers doesn’t make sense.

    • The_v_from_the_sub_B

      It does, really. All Tess really knows about long-term relationships is the male should be the drunk, angry, abusive one, so she’s (sadly) comfortable with that. Happens a lot in real life. If Nitwit was a good writer, Tess would learn that angry abusive drunk is a mistake, and grow into a healthy sexual relationship, but alas, it’s not to be.

      • Alicia

        But the thing is she was in a good, loving relationship for 2 years with Noah, plus she knows what an abusive relationship looks like from the outside as watching her dad with her mom. So that’s why I thought it doesn’t make sense that she can’t recognize a potential bad relationship or any red flags when it comes to Hardin and keeps making excuses for his behaviour when she has seen it before from her dad, and knows from her experience with Noah that the way Hardin treats her is not how she should be treated.

        • The_v_from_the_sub_B

          But she can fix him (and therefore can be better than her mom, who could not fix her dad).

  • The_v_from_the_sub_B

    Does Noah know they broke up? Does Jackass know Tess is his girlfriend? Is Tess a complete moron?

    • “Does Noah know they broke up?”

      Lol. It’s funny because it has to be asked and also because I honestly cannot even remember.

      • The Bad Slayer

        Hahaha, yeah, he does. There was like, a showdown in Tessa’s room. And I’m making it sound way more interesting than it was. I’m also so sad I have all these useless memories in my head, and I can’t help but think what my life would be like if I had applied my ability to remember things I read towards a more viable career. I mean, maybe I could have been a physicist. Instead, I remember pointless details about a terrible book I read online 3 years ago. So what I’m really saying is, make better choices kids.

  • Mae

    “It takes Tessa half an hour to walk to the Chancellor’s office.”
    How big is this campus? Or does Todd understand distance and walking speed as well as she understands relationships, liquor, college, etc?

    As much as I hated Ana Steele getting a job at the publishing company, at least ELJ had the awareness to let Ana get it on her merits (as trumped up as they were). This is even worse.

    I hadn’t noticed the gross abuse of power when I first read this chapter, but I see it now. Ken dangled what she wants most as a quid pro quo for getting Hardin to his wedding.

  • Read the quote in the first paragraph and immediately thought of this, so obviously had to pause and share:

    And now back to reading the rest of this recap… Or maybe I’ll just rewatch Galavant instead because ye gods that’s so much better than this book (but the recaps are awesome!).

    • Oh, and can I just add that if you’re empathizing with your (maybe) boyfriend’s estranged father more than him, that’s probably A HUGE RED FLAG about the health of your (maybe) relationship. Just sayin’.

      Of course, it probably got lost amid all the other HUGE RED FLAGS, so maybe she missed that particular one while she was ignoring basically everything else ever about this relationship that is entirely made up of red flags?