Chapter 77 – After

Chapter 77 – After

I am beyond annoyed at Hardin’s unnecessary attitude, but I try to forget it and brush the tangles out of my wet hair and put on the light pink lingerie I bought today. I slip a T-shirt over my head and look over my stuff for tomorrow. All I can think about is where he went; I know I’m obsessive and a little crazy, but I can’t help worrying that he’s with Molly.

While deciding whether or not to call Hardin, I receive a text message from Steph saying that she won’t be back tonight. She might as well move in with Tristan and Nate; she stays there five nights a week and Tristan absolutely adores her. He probably told her about his job on their second date and he probably wouldn’t snap at her and leave for no reason.

“Lucky Steph,” I say to myself and grab the remote for her television. My fingers press the buttons absentmindedly and I settle on a rerun of Friends that I have seen at least one hundred times. I can’t remember the last time I watched television, but it’s nice to just lie in bed and watch a simple comedy, to escape from the most recent pointless fight with Hardin.

After a few episodes of various shows, I feel my eyes getting heavy. In my sleepy state my anger momentarily disappears and I text Hardin good night, but he doesn’t reply before sleep overtakes me.

“Shit.” A loud thud wakes me up. I jolt upright and turn on the lamp to find a stumbling Hardin trying to navigate the dark room.

“What are you doing?” I ask him.

When he looks up at me his eyes are red and glossy. He is drunk. Great.

“I came here to see you,” he says and plops down in the chair.

“Why?” I whine. I want him here, but not drunk and at two in the morning. “Because I missed you.”

“Then why did you leave?” “Because you were annoying me.”

Ouch. “Okay, I’m going back to sleep; you’re drunk and you’re obviously going to be mean again.

“I’m not being mean, Tessa. And I’m not drunk . . . okay . . . I am, but so what?”

“I don’t care that you are drunk, but it’s a school night and I need my sleep.” I would stay up all night with him if I knew he wouldn’t say hurtful things to me the entire time.

“It’s a school night,” he mocks me. “Could you be more of a square?” He laughs like he’s just said the funniest thing ever.

“You should just go,” I say and lie back down, turning to face the wall. I don’t like this Hardin. I want my semisweet Hardin back. Not this drunk jerk.

“Aww, baby, don’t be mad at me,” he says, but I ignore him. “Do you really want me to go? You know what happens when I sleep without you,” he says, just above a whisper.

My heart sinks. I do know what happens, but it’s not fair for him to use that against me when he’s drunk and taunting me.

“Fine. You can stay, but I’m going back to sleep.” “Why? You don’t want to hang out with me?”

“You are drunk and being mean.” I finally turn back around to face him.

“I’m not being mean,” he says, his expression neutral. “All I said was you were being annoying.”

“That’s sort of mean to say to someone. Especially when all I did was ask you about your job.”

“Oh God, not this again. Come on, Tessa, just drop it. I don’t want to talk about that right now.” His voice is whiny and he slurs his words.

“Why did you drink tonight?” I don’t mind if he drinks; I am not his mother, and he’s an adult. The thing that bothers me is that every time he drinks there is a reason behind it. He doesn’t just drink for fun.

He looks away from me and toward the door as if planning an escape. “I . . . I don’t know . . . I just felt like having a drink . . . well, drinks. Can you please stop being mad at me? I love you,” he says and brings his eyes to meet mine.

His simple words dissolve most of my anger and I find myself wanting his arms around me.

“I’m not mad at you, I just don’t want to backtrack in our relationship. I don’t

like when you turn on me for no reason, then just leave. If you’re mad about something, I want you to talk to me about it.”

“You just don’t like to not have control over everything,” he says and wobbles a little.

“Excuse me?”

“You’re a control freak.” He shrugs as if it’s a known fact. “No, I’m not. I just like things a certain way.”

“Yeah, your way.”

“So I guess we aren’t done fighting, then. Anything else you want to throw in there while you’re are it?” I snap.

“Nope, just that you’re a control freak and I really want you to move in with me.”

What? His moods give me whiplash.

“You should move in with me—I found an apartment today. I haven’t signed anything yet, but it’s a nice place.”

“When?” It’s hard to keep up with the five personalities of Hardin Scott. “After I left here.”

“Before you got drunk?” I ask.

He rolls his eyes. The light from the lamp hits the metal of his eyebrow ring, and I fight to ignore how attractive that is.

“Yes, before I got drunk. So what do you say? Are you going to move in with me?”

“I know you are new at this dating thing, but people don’t usually insult their girlfriend and ask them to move in with them in the same sentence,” I inform him, chewing my bottom lip to suppress my smile.

“Well, sometimes the said girlfriend needs to lighten up.” He grins. Even drunk, he’s charming as hell.

“Well, then said boyfriend needs to stop being a jerk,” I say to retaliate.

He laughs and moves from the chair over to my bed. “I am trying not to be a jerk, I really am. Sometimes I can’t help it.” He sits on the edge of the bed. “I’m really, really good at it!”

“I know,” I sigh. Regardless of this episode tonight, I know he really has been trying to be nicer. I don’t want to make excuses for him, but he has done much better than I expected.

“So you will move in with me?” He smiles hopefully.

“Jesus, let’s take this one step at a time. I will stop being mad at you for now,” I tell him and sit up. “Now come to bed with me,” I instruct. He raises an eyebrow as if to say, “See, control freak,” but stands up to pull his jeans off anyway. When he removes his shirt he puts it on the bed before me, and I love

that he wants me to wear his shirts as much as I want to.

I pull my shirt off to slip his over my head when he stops me.

“Fuck,” he blurts out and I look up. “What are you wearing?” His eyes are dark and wide.

“I . . . I got some new underwear today.” I flush and look away. “I see that . . . Fuck,” he repeats.

“You already said that.” I giggle. The light in Hardin’s eyes is blazing for me

—and it makes my skin tingle.

“You look incredible.” He gulps. “You always do, but this is just . . .”

With a dry mouth I look down to where his boxers strain against his growing bulge. The energy between us has changed for the fifth time tonight.

“I was going to show you earlier, but you were too busy being a jerk.” “Mmm,” he mumbles, clearly not paying attention to what I’m actually

saying. He places his knee on the bed and looks my body up and down again before climbing on top of me.

His lips taste like whiskey and mint, and the combination is heavenly. Our kisses are soft and teasing, coming together and drifting apart, his tongue playfully gliding over mine. His hand wraps into my hair and I can feel his erection press against my stomach as he brings his body closer to me. He lets go of my hair to hold himself up on his elbow and use his other hand to touch me. His long fingers run along the undersides of my lace bra, dipping down inside of it and back out. He licks his lips as he cups me with his large palms, rubbing up and down.

“I can’t decide if I want this to stay on . . .” he says. I couldn’t care less; I am too mesmerized by his graceful fingers on my skin.

“Off it is,” he says and unclasps my bra. I arch my back for him to pull it off and he groans as his crotch presses against mine.

“What do you want to do, Tess?” His voice is shaky and uncontrolled.

“I already told you before,” I say as he pushes my panties to the side. I wish he wouldn’t have drunk tonight, but maybe his half-drunken state will make me seem less awkward.

I cry out as his fingers enter me and I wrap one of my arms around him, trying to grasp on to something, anything. I reach between us with my other hand to palm him. He groans and I squeeze gently and stroke him lightly.

“You’re sure?” he pants. I can see the uncertainty in his clear green eyes. “Yes, I am sure. Stop overthinking it.” Boy, have the tables turned, that I’m

the one saying this to him.

“I love you. You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes.” I press my lips against his. “I love you, Hardin,” I say into his mouth.

His fingers continue pumping in and out slowly and his mouth moves to my neck. He sucks at my skin harshly, then slides his tongue over the ache to soothe it. He repeats this over and over, and my entire body is on fire.

“Hardin . . . I am . . .” I try to say and he quickly pulls his hand from me, kissing me as I whimper. He scoots back and hooks his fingers around my panties, pulling them down my legs. He places both of his hands on my thighs and squeezes gently before kissing down my stomach and blowing on my wetness. My body involuntarily lifts off the bed and his tongue moves up and down while he wraps his arms around my thighs, keeping them apart. Within seconds my legs begin to shake and I grip the sheets and he continues lapping his tongue around me.

“Tell me how good it feels,” he says against me.

Strangled sounds escape my lips as I try to say something, anything. Hardin continues to say dirty things, licking me between them, forming a delicious pattern as my body shakes and my toes curl. When I regain consciousness he brings his mouth back up to mine, a strange taste on his lips. My chest is heaving and my breath is staggered.

“Are you . . .” he begins.

“Shh . . . Yes, I am sure,” I tell him and kiss him, hard. My hands claw at his back, then pull his boxers below his hips. He sighs as the restriction disappears, and we both moan as our skin touches again.

“Tessa, I . . .”

“Shh . . .” I tell him again. I want this more than anything and I don’t want him to keep talking.

“But, Tessa, I need to tell you something . . .”

“Shh. Hardin, please stop talking,” I beg and kiss him again. I grab his erection and slide my hand up and down its length. His eyes close and he sucks in a sharp breath. Instinct takes over my actions and I brush my thumb over the tip of him, wiping away the dampness there and feeling him pulse in my hand.

“I’m going to come if you do that again,” he gasps. Suddenly he pulls up and jumps off the bed. Before I can ask where he is going, he pulls out a small packet from his jeans.

Oh. This is really happening.

I know I should be afraid or nervous, but all I feel is my love for him, and his for me.

The anticipation of what is coming next fills me with wonder, and time seems to slow down while I wait for him to return to the bed. I had always thought my first time would be with Noah, on our wedding night. We would be in a huge bed in some fancy bungalow on a tropical island. But here I am in my small dorm

room, on my small bed with Hardin, and I would not change a single thing about it.

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