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TODD, Anna


After We Collided


…..

As his mother hugs me for the fourth time, Hardin finally mumbles, “Mum, let’s give her a little space. She’s a bit shy.”

“You’re right, and I’m sorry, Tessa. I’m just so happy to finally meet you. Hardin has told me so much about you,” she says warmly. I feel my cheeks flame as she steps back and nods in acknowledgment. I’m surprised she even knows that I exist—I would have figured he would have kept me a secret, as usual.

“It’s okay,” I manage to say through my horror.

Mrs. Daniels smiles brightly and looks over at her son, who says, “Mum, why don’t you grab a drink of water in the kitchen for a minute?” When she leaves, Hardin comes over to me with gentle movements. “Can . . . I, um . . . talk to you in the bedroom for a mo-moment?” he stammers.

I nod and glance toward the kitchen before following him into the bedroom that we once shared.

“What the hell?” I say quietly as I close the door.

Hardin winces and sits on the bed. “I know . . . I’m sorry. I couldn’t tell her what happened. I couldn’t tell her what I did.

“Are you here . . . you know, to stay?” His voice holds more hope than I can bear.

“No . . .”

“Oh.”

I sigh and run my fingers through my hair, a habit I picked up from Hardin, I suspect. “Well, what am I supposed to do?” I ask him.

“I don’t know . . .” he says with a long sigh. “I don’t expect you to go along with it or anything . . . I just need a little time to tell her.”

“I didn’t know you would be here either, I thought you were going to London.”

“I changed my mind, I didn’t want to go without . . .” He trails off, and pain is evident in his eyes.

…..