Chapter 32 – After

Chapter 32 – After

My eyes adjust to the darkness, but the only light is a small streak of moonlight coming through the bay window. “Hardin?” I whisper.

I hear him curse as he trips over something and I try not to laugh.

“I’m right here,” he says and clicks on a desk lamp. I look around the large room, which reminds me of a hotel. A four-poster bed with dark linens is centered against the far wall and looks like a king-size with at least twenty pillows on top. The desk is oversize and made of cherrywood, and the computer sitting on it has a bigger monitor than the television in my dorm room. The bay window has a built-in bench while the other windows are masked with thick navy curtains that don’t allow the moon to shine through.

“This is my . . . room,” he says and rubs the back of his neck with his hand.

He looks almost embarrassed.

“You have a room here?” I ask, but of course he does. It is his father’s house and Landon obviously lives here. Landon had mentioned that Hardin never comes here, so maybe that is why it looks so museum-like, untouched and impersonal.

“Yeah . . . I haven’t ever actually slept in it . . . until tonight.” He sits on the chest placed at the foot of the bed and unties his boots. He pulls his socks off and tucks them into the shoes. My heart swells at the idea that I am part of a first for Hardin.

“Oh. Why is that?” I am taking advantage of his drunken honesty.

“Because I don’t want to. I hate it here,” he answers quietly and unbuttons his

black pants and pulls them down his legs. “What are you doing?”

“Getting undressed?” he says, stating the obvious.

“I mean, why?” Even though part of me is dying to feel his hands on me again, I hope he doesn’t think I’m going to have sex with him.

“Well, I am not sleeping in skinny jeans and boots,” he half laughs. His hand sweeps the hair off his forehead, making it stand straight up. Everything he does sends that wild feeling through my body.


He pulls his shirt over his head, and I can’t look away. His tattooed stomach is flawless. He tosses the T-shirt at me, but I don’t catch it, letting it fall to the ground. I raise one eyebrow at him and he smiles.

“You can sleep in that. I assume you won’t want to sleep in just your underwear. But of course, I am perfectly fine with it if you do.” He winks and I giggle.

Why am I giggling? I can’t sleep in his T-shirt, I will feel too naked. “I’m fine sleeping in this,” I tell him

He eyes my outfit. He hasn’t made a single rude comment about my long skirt or loose blue blouse, so I hope he doesn’t start now.

“Fine. Suit yourself; if you want to be uncomfortable, go ahead.” He moves toward the bed in only his boxers and begins to toss the decorative pillows onto the floor.

I walk over and open the chest, and just as I had thought, it is empty. “Oh, don’t throw those down. They go in here,” I tell him, but he just laughs and tosses another onto the floor.

Groaning, I gather the pillows and stuff them into the chest. He again chuckles and pulls back the comforter before plopping down onto the bed. He crosses his arms behind his head, then crosses his feet and gives me a smile. The words tattooed on his ribs are stretched because of the position of his arms. His long, lean body looks exquisite.

“You’re not going to whine about sleeping in the bed with me, are you?” he asks, and I roll my eyes. I actually wasn’t going to. I know it’s wrong, but I want to sleep in the bed with Hardin more than I think I have ever wanted anything.

“No, the bed is big enough for both of us,” I say with a smile. I don’t know if it’s Hardin’s smile or the fact that he is wearing only boxers, but I’m in a much better mood than before.

“Now that’s the Tessa I love,” he teases and my heart lurches at his choice of words. I know he doesn’t, and would never, mean it that way, but it sounded so nice coming off his lips.

I climb onto the bed and scoot to the edge, as far away from Hardin’s body as I can. Any farther and I’ll fall off. I hear him chuckle and I roll over on my side to face him. “What is so funny?”

“Nothing,” he lies, and bites his lip trying not to laugh. I like this playful Hardin; his humor is contagious.

“Tell me!” I pout and pucker out my bottom lip. His eyes go straight to my mouth and he runs his tongue along his lips before hooking his lip ring between his teeth.

“You’ve never slept in a bed with a guy before, have you?” He rolls onto his side and moves a little closer to me.

“No,” I simply answer, and his smile grows. We are only a couple of feet apart, and before I know what I’m doing, my hand reaches out and pokes the little dimple on his cheek. His eyes dart to mine in surprise. I start to pull my hand away, but he grabs it and puts it back against his cheek, then moves it up and down his cheek slowly.

“I don’t know why no one has fucked you yet; all that planning you do must help you put up a really good resistance,” he says, and I gulp.

“I’ve never really had to resist anyone,” I admit. Guys in high school found me attractive and hit on me enough, but no one ever tried to actually have sex with me. They all knew I was with Noah; we were well liked and were both voted onto Homecoming Court every year.

“That’s either a lie or you went to an all-blind high school. Your lips alone are enough to make me hard.”

I gasp at his words and he chuckles. He brings my hand to his mouth and runs it along his wet lips. His breath is hot against my fingers, and I’m surprised when he bares his teeth and gently bites the pad of my index finger, somehow making me feel it in the pit of my stomach. He moves my hand down to his neck and my fingertips trace the swirl of an ivy branch tattoo on his neck. He watches me carefully but doesn’t stop me.

“You like the way I talk to you, don’t you?” His expression is dark but so sexy. My breathing hitches and he smiles again. “I can see the blush in your cheeks and I can hear the way your breathing has changed. Answer me, Tessa, put those full lips of yours to use,” he says, and I giggle—I don’t know what else to do. I will never admit the way his words turn something on deep inside of me. He lets go of my hand but wraps his fingers around my wrist and closes the gap between us. I am hot, too hot. I need to cool down or I will start sweating


“Can you turn the fan on?” I ask and he furrows his brow. “Please.”

He sighs but climbs off the bed. “If you are hot, why don’t you change out of

those heavy clothes; that skirt looks itchy anyway.”

I had been waiting on him to tease me for my clothes, but this only makes me smile, since I can see his true motive here.

“You should dress for your body, Tessa. These clothes you wear hide all of your curves. If I hadn’t seen you in your bra and panties, I would never know how sexy and curvy your body actually is. That skirt literally looks like a potato sack.”

I laugh, even though he is insulting me and somehow managing to compliment me at the same time. “What do you suggest I wear? Fishnets and tube tops?”

“No, well, I might love to see that, but no. You can still cover yourself but wear clothes your size. That shirt hides your chest, too, and your tits are nothing you should be hiding.”

“Will you stop using those words!” I scold him and he smiles.

Rejoining me on the bed, he scoots his practically naked body close to mine. I am still hot, but Hardin’s odd way of complimenting me has given me a new wave of confidence. I climb out of bed.

“Where are you going?” he slurs, his voice panicked.

“To change,” I say, and walk over to grab his T-shirt from the floor. “Now turn around and don’t peek.” I put my hands on my hips.


“What do you mean, ‘no’?” How can he be telling me no?

“I won’t turn around. I want to see you.”

“Oh, okay.” But I just smile, shake my head, and turn the light off.

Hardin whines, and I smile to myself as I unzip my skirt. It pools at my feet when another light clicks on.

“Hardin!” I hurry and pick the skirt back up. Hardin is leaning up on his elbows to look at me, and he isn’t shy about his eyes moving up and down my body. He’s seen me in less clothing before, and I know he isn’t going to listen, so I take a deep breath and pull my shirt over my head. Not that I won’t admit that I’m enjoying this little game we have going right now. I know deep down I want him to look at me, that I want him to want me. I’m wearing a plain white bra and white panties, nothing fancy or special, but Hardin’s expression makes me feel sexy. I take his T-shirt and pull it over my head. It smells so good, just like Hardin.

“Come here,” he whispers from where he lies. I ignore my subconscious telling me to run away as fast as I can, and walk toward the bed.

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