Chapter 61 – After

Chapter 61 – After

After I finally stop sobbing, Landon quietly asks, “Did I hear him say that he loves you?”

“Yeah . . . I don’t know . . . He was just trying to cause a scene or something,” I say, and almost start crying again.

“Do you think . . . don’t get mad at me . . . but do you think that maybe he does? You know, love you?”

“What? Of course not. I am not even sure if he even likes me. I mean, when we’re alone he is so different, and I think maybe he does care about me. But I know he doesn’t love me. He isn’t capable of loving anyone other than himself,” I explain.

“I’m on your side, Tessa, I am,” Landon replies. “But the look on his face as we drove away, he looked heartbroken. And you can’t be heartbroken if you aren’t in love.”

That can’t be true. I felt my heart shatter when he kissed Molly, but I don’t love him.

“Do you love him?” he asks simply.

My voice comes out strained and my words too quick. “No. I don’t love him . . . he is . . . well . . . he’s a jerk. I have known him less than two months, and half of that . . . actually all of that time we have spent fighting. You can’t love someone you only met two months ago. Besides, he’s a jerk.”

“You already said that,” Landon says and I notice the hint of a smile on his lips as he tries to keep his expression neutral.

I don’t like the pressure that I feel in my chest as we talk about me loving Hardin. It makes me feel nauseous and the space in the car feels much smaller. I roll down the window a crack and lean my head against it, feeling the little stream of air slip across me.

“Do you want to come back to our house, or go to your dorm?” he asks.

I want to go to my dorm and curl into a ball on my bed, but I am afraid that Steph or Hardin will show up. The chance of Hardin coming to his father’s house is so slim, that seems to me the better option.

“Your house, but can we go by my room so I can grab some clothes? I’m sorry for asking you to drive me all over.”

“Tessa, the drive is short and you’re my friend; stop thanking and apologizing to me,” he says sternly, but his sweet smile makes me laugh.

He is the best person I have met here and I am so lucky to have him.

“Well, let me thank you one last time for being such a great friend to me,” I say, and he frowns playfully.

“You’re welcome. Now let’s move on.”

I RUSH AROUND MY ROOM gathering my clothes and books. I feel like I never stay in my room anymore. This will be the first night in days that I will be sleeping without Hardin. I was beginning to get used to it, how foolish of me. I grab my phone out of my drawer and walk back to Landon’s car.

When we get to his house it’s after eleven. I’m exhausted, and thankful that Ken and Karen are asleep when we arrive. Landon puts a pizza in the oven for us and I eat another one of my cupcakes from earlier. Baking with Karen seems like weeks ago, not hours. I have had such a long day, and it started so well with my morning with Hardin and the internship, and then he ruined it, just like he always does. After we eat the pizza, Landon and I walk upstairs and he shows me to the guest room that I stayed in last time. Well, I didn’t quite stay in there, since I was woken up by a screaming Hardin. Time hasn’t made sense since I met him; everything has happened so quickly, and it makes me dizzy to think about the better times we’ve had and how they’re spaced out between a lot of arguing. I thank Landon again and he rolls his eyes at me before leaving me and going into his room. I turn on my phone to find many texts from Hardin, Steph, and my mother. I delete all but my mother’s message without reading them. I already know what they will say and I have had enough of it today. I turn my ringtone and text notifications off, put my pajamas on, and climb into the bed.

It’s one in the morning, and I have to wake up in a few hours. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. If I hadn’t missed my morning classes today, I would just stay home, well, here. Or go back to my dorm. Why did I convince Hardin to come back to Literature? After tossing and turning, I roll over to check the time: almost three. Despite the fact that today has been one of the best, and then worst, days of my life, I am too exhausted to even sleep.

Before I realize what I’m doing, I’m standing in front of Hardin’s bedroom door. And then I enter it. With no one around but myself to judge me, I open the second drawer and grab a white T-shirt. I can tell that it has never been worn but I don’t care. I pull my own shirt off and replace it. I lie down on the bed and bury my head in the pillow. Hardin’s minty scent fills my nostrils and I finally fall asleep.

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