After (The After Series) by Anna Todd

  I’m sure he knows the answer to that; maybe he’s just trying to get me to say it?

  “Of course I have. Not a real one, but pictures, and I once walked in on the neighbor watching a naughty movie,” I tell him and he stifles a laugh. “Stop laughing at me, Hardin,” I warn him.

  “I’m not, baby, I’m sorry. It’s just I have never met anyone who has such little experience. It’s a good thing, though, I swear. Sometimes your innocence just throws me off a bit. But with that being said, it’s a huge turn-on that I am the only one who has ever made you come, yourself included.” He doesn’t laugh this time, which makes me feel better.

  “Okay . . . so let’s get started.”

  He smiles and runs his thumb along my cheek. “So sassy, I like it,” he says and stands up.

  “Where are you going?” I ask him and he smiles.

  “Nowhere, I am just taking my pants off.”

  “I wanted to do that,” I say with a pout and he chuckles and tugs his pants back up.

  “Here ya go, babe.” He puts his hands on his hips.

  I smile and move forward, pulling his pants down. Should I pull down his boxers, too? Hardin takes a step back and puts his heels against his bed before sitting down. I drop to my knees in front of him and he takes a deep breath.

  “Come closer, babe.”

  I scoot closer and place my hands on his bent knees.

  “Are you okay?” he asks carefully.

  I nod and he pulls me up by my elbows.

  “Let’s just kiss for a minute, okay?” he suggests and pulls me on top of him.

  I have to admit I’m relieved. I still want to do this, I just need a minute to process, and kissing will make me more comfortable. He kisses me, slowly at first, but within seconds the electricity builds and takes over me. I grip his arms hard under my fingertips and rock back and forth on his lap. The bulge in his thin boxers grows and I tug gently on his hair. I wish I would have worn a skirt so I could lift it up and feel him against me . . . I’m shocked by my own thoughts as I reach down and palm him through his boxers.

  “Fuck, Tessa. If you keep doing that, I will come in my boxers again,” he moans and I stop, climbing off him. I move to get on my knees again.

  “Take your jeans off,” he instructs, and I nod before unbuttoning them and sliding them down my legs. Feeling brave, I pull my shirt over my head and toss it aside. Hardin takes his lip between his teeth as I move back down in front of him. My fingers grip the waistband of his boxers and tug as he lifts off the bed enough for me to pull them down.

  I can feel my eyes widen and hear my own gasp as Hardin’s manhood comes into view. Wow, it’s big. Much bigger than I expected. How am I going to even get it into my mouth?

  I stare for a few seconds until I reach out and touch it with my index finger. Hardin chuckles as it moves slightly but bounces right back.

  “How . . . I mean . . . what should I do first?” I stutter. I am intimidated by the size of him, but I want to do this.

  “I’ll show you. Here . . . wrap your fingers like last time . . .”

  My fingers go around him and I wiggle them a little. The skin covering him is much softer than I expected. I know I’m poking it and examining it like a science project, but this is so new to me, it almost feels like one.

  I grip it lightly and move my hand up and down slowly. “Like this?” I ask, and Hardin nods, his chest rising and falling.

  “Now . . . just put your mouth around it. Not all of it, well, if you can . . . but just put as much as you can.”

  I take a deep breath and lean down. Opening my mouth, I take him in, only about halfway. He hisses and his hands move to my shoulders. I pull back slightly and taste something salty. Is that come already? The taste goes away and I move my head up and down. Some instinct that I wasn’t aware of tells me to move my tongue up and down his shaft as I move.

  “Holy fuck. Yeah, like that,” Hardin groans and I repeat the action. His grip on my shoulders tightens, and his hips rock upward to meet my mouth. I push myself farther, taking almost all of him in, and look up at him. His eyes are rolled to the back of his head and he looks heavenly. The lean muscle underneath his tattooed skin is pulling, making the script across his ribs move slowly. I turn my focus back to sucking and move a little faster.

  “Use your hand on . . . on the rest . . .” he gasps and I oblige. My hand moves up and down on the bottom of him as my mouth works the top. I suck my cheeks in and he groans again.

  “Fuck . . . fuck. Tessa. I am . . . I am so close,” he says, straining. “If you don’t want it in your mouth . . . then . . . you . . . have to stop.”

  I look up at him, keeping him in my mouth. I love the way he is losing control because of me.

  “Shit . . . keep looking . . . at me.” His body tenses as he watches me. I bat my eyelashes, giving the full effect. Hardin curses my name repeatedly, beautifully, and I feel a slight jerk in my mouth and a warm, salty liquid shoots down my throat in short spurts. I gag and pull back. It didn’t taste as bad as I thought it would, but it definitely doesn’t taste good. His hands move from my shoulders to my cheeks.

  He’s out of breath and dazed. “How . . . was it?”

  I climb off my knees and sit next to him on the bed. His arms wrap around me and he lays his head on my shoulder. “I thought it was nice,” I say, and he laughs.


  “It was fun, sort of. To see you that way. And it didn’t taste as bad as I thought,” I confess. I should be embarrassed that I just admitted to liking it, but I’m not. “How was it for you?” I ask nervously.

  “I was so very pleasantly surprised—the best head I have ever gotten.”

  I blush at his words. “Sure it was.” I laugh. I appreciate him trying to make me feel better about my lack of experience.

  “No, really. The way you are so . . . pure, it does something to me. And fuck, when you looked up at me—”

  “Okay! Okay!” I cut him off and wave my hand at him. I don’t want to relive every detail of my first time doing this. He chuckles and gently pushes me back against the mattress.

  “Now let me make you feel as good as you did me,” he growls in my ear and sucks the skin on my neck. His fingers hook into my panties and tug them down. “Do you want my finger or my tongue?” he whispers seductively.

  “Both,” I answer and he smiles.

  “As you wish.” He dips his head down. I whimper and tug at his hair again. I do that a lot to him, but he seems to like it. My back arches off the bed, and within minutes I’m in a completely euphoric state, calling Hardin’s name as I come undone.

  AFTER MY BREATHING SLOWS, I sit up and bring my fingers to trace the dark ink on his chest. He watches me carefully but doesn’t stop me. He stays quiet as he lies down next to me, letting me enjoy my sedated state.

  “No one has ever touched me this way,” he says, and I swallow all the questions I want to ask him. Instead of interrogating him, I give him a small smile and a quick kiss on his chest.

  “Stay with me tonight?” he asks and I shake my head.

  “I can’t; tomorrow is Monday and we have classes.” I want to stay with him but not on a Sunday.

  His look is soft. “Please.”

  “I don’t have any clothes to wear tomorrow.”

  “Wear those; please stay with me. Just one night. I promise you will make it to your classes on time.”

  “I don’t know . . .”

  “I will even make sure you get there fifteen minutes early and have enough time to stop by the coffeehouse and meet Landon,” he says and my lips part.

  “How do you know I do that?”

  “I watch you . . . I mean not all the time. But I notice you more than you think,” he tells me and my heart swells. I’m falling for him, hard and fast.

  “I’ll stay,” I tell him but hold my hand up to continue. “On one condition.”

  “What’s that?”

  “Come back to Literature,” I ask, and he
raises his eyebrow.


  I smile at his simple answer and he pulls me closer to his chest.

  chapter fifty-four

  After lying in Hardin’s arms for a few minutes, I begin to think about my agreement to stay with Hardin tonight.

  “What about my shower in the morning?” I remind him.

  “You can take one here, down the hall.” His lips meet my jaw, trailing kisses up and down. His lips on my skin cause my judgment to cloud; he knows exactly what he is doing.

  “In a frat house? Who knows who will come in.”

  “One, the door locks, and two, I would accompany you, obviously,” he says between kisses.

  I scowl at his tone but decide to ignore it. “Fine. But I’d like to take a shower now, before it gets too late.”

  He nods and stands up and reaches for his jeans. I climb off the bed and do the same, leaving my panties off.

  “No panties?” He smirks.

  Ignoring him, I roll my eyes and say, “Do you have shampoo? I don’t even have a hairbrush.” I am starting to get anxious thinking of all the things that I don’t have with me. “And Q-tips? Dental floss?” I continue.

  “Relax, we have Q-tips and floss. We probably even have an extra toothbrush, and I know there is a hairbrush or two in there. There are probably even extra panties in every size lying about somewhere, if you want some,” he informs me.

  “Panties?” I ask before I realize he means they were left by other girls. “Never mind,” I say and he laughs. I hope Hardin doesn’t have some weird collection of underwear from girls he has slept with.

  He leads me to the bathroom. I feel more comfortable in here than I imagined, only because I have been in this bathroom quite a few times.

  Hardin turns on the water and pulls his shirt over his head.

  “What are you doing?” I ask.

  “Taking a shower?”

  “Oh, I thought I was taking one first.”

  “Take one with me,” he says casually.

  “Um . . . no! I won’t.” I laugh. I can’t take a shower with him.

  “Why not? I’ve already seen you, you have seen me. What’s the big deal?” he groans.

  “I don’t know . . . I just don’t want to.” I know he has already seen me naked but this just seems so intimate. More intimate even than what we just did.

  “Fine. You go first, then,” he says, but his voice has picked up a slight edge.

  I smile sweetly and ignore his sour tone and undress. His eyes scan my body and then look away. My hand reaches behind the curtain to check the temperature of the water and I step in.

  Hardin stays silent while I wet my hair. Too silent. “Hardin?” I call. Did he leave the bathroom?


  “I thought maybe you left.”

  He pulls back the curtain a little and pops his wavy head in. “Nope, still here.”

  “Is something wrong?” I ask him, frowning sympathetically. He shakes his head in response but doesn’t say anything. Is he really pouting like a child because I won’t take a shower with him? I almost want to tell him to join me, but I want him to get the point that he can’t just get his way all the time. His head disappears from the shower and I hear him sit down on the toilet.

  The shampoo and body wash are both strong musky scents. I miss my vanilla shampoo, but this is fine for one night. It probably would have made more sense for Hardin to stay with me in my room, but Steph would be in there, and it would be awkward to explain everything, and I don’t imagine Hardin would be as affectionate if she was around. The thought bothers me, but I push it back.

  “Could you hand me a towel?” I ask him and shut off the water. “Or two, if you have enough.” I like to have one for my hair and one for my body.

  His hand pushes through the curtain holding two towels. I thank him, and he mutters something that I don’t understand.

  He pulls his jeans down as I dry off and turns the water back on. His long arms pull back the curtain and I can’t help but stare at his naked body. The more I get to see him this way, the more beautiful the designs printed on his skin are to me. I continue to stare as he steps into the shower. The water sprays onto his dark hair and he closes the curtain. I should have taken one with him, not because he is pouting, but because now I really want to.

  “I’m going to go back to your room,” I tell him, figuring he’s ignoring me anyway.

  He jerks the curtain back, causing the rings to scrape against the rod. “No, you’re not.”

  “Okay, what is your problem?” I snap.

  “Nothing, you’re just not going back by yourself. There are thirty guys living here, so you don’t need to be wandering the halls.”

  “No, there’s something else; you have been pouting since I said you couldn’t take a shower with me.”

  “No . . . I haven’t.”

  “Tell me why or I will go out there in this towel,” I threaten, knowing I would never actually do it. His eyes narrow and he reaches out for my arm to stop me, splashing water on the floor.

  “I just don’t like being told no.” His voice is low but much softer than it was moments ago.

  I imagine that when it comes to girls Hardin hardly, if ever, hears the word no. My mind tells me to tell him to get used to it, but I haven’t told him no until this point, either. As soon as he touches me, I do whatever he wants.

  “Well, I am not like the other girls, Hardin,” I snap, my jealousy coming forward.

  A small smile plays on his lips as the water runs over his face. “I know, Tess. I know.” He closes the curtain and I pull my clothes on and he turns the water off.

  “You can wear some of my clothes to bed,” he tells me and I nod. I barely hear him because I am too focused on his glistening body in front of me. He rubs the white towel against his hair, leaving it sticking up all over his head, then wraps the towel around his waist. The towel hangs so low on his hips he looks like pure sex. It feels like the temperature in the bathroom has risen twenty degrees. Bending down to open a cabinet, he pulls out a hairbrush and places it into my hand.

  “Come,” he says and I shake my head, trying to clear the dirty thoughts from my mind. We walk down the hall and turn the corner as a tall blond guy almost runs into me . . . I look up at his face and my bones chill.

  “Haven’t seen you in a while,” he purrs and I feel nauseous.

  “Hardin,” I squeak and he turns around; it takes him only a moment to remember this is the same guy who tried to make a move on me before.

  “Get away from her, Neil,” he barks and Neil pales. He must not have seen Hardin before he turned the corner. His mistake.

  “My bad, Scott,” he says and walks away.

  “Thanks,” I whisper to Hardin. He wraps his hand over mine and unlocks his door.

  “I should just beat the shit out of him, yeah?” Hardin says as I take a seat on the bed.

  “No! You shouldn’t!” I beg. I can’t tell if he is serious, but I don’t want to find out. He grabs the remote off his dresser and switches the television on before opening the drawer and tossing me a T-shirt and a pair of boxers.

  I remove my jeans and pull the boxers on, rolling them a few times at the top.

  “Could I maybe wear the shirt you wore today?” I don’t realize how weird it sounds until the words are out.

  “What?” He grins.

  “I . . . well . . . never mind. I don’t know what I was saying,” I lie. I want to wear your dirty shirt because it smells good? That sounds strange and crazy. He chuckles and picks the shirt off the floor and walks over to me.

  “Here, babe,” he says and hands it to me. I am glad he didn’t embarrass me further, but I still feel a little silly.

  “Thanks,” I chirp and pull my own shirt off and remove my bra, then slip his shirt on. I inhale and find it smells just as amazing as I knew it would.

  Catching this, his eyes soften as he looks at me. “You are beautiful,” he says and looks away.
I get the feeling he didn’t mean to say the words out loud, which makes my heart swell even more. I smile at him and take a step toward him.

  “So are you.”

  “Enough of that,” he says with a laugh as his cheeks flush. “What time do you need to be up in the morning?” he asks and sits on the bed, browsing through the channels.

  “Five, but I will set my own alarm.”

  “Five? Five in the morning? Your first class is at what, nine? Why do you get up so early?”

  “I don’t know, just to be prepared, I guess?” I rake the hairbrush through my hair.

  “Well, let’s get up at seven; my body doesn’t function before seven,” he tells me and I groan. Hardin and I are so different.

  “Six thirty?” I try to compromise.

  “Fine, six thirty,” he agrees.

  We spend the rest of the evening watching random television shows before Hardin falls asleep with his head on my lap, my fingers running through his hair. I slide down and lie next to him, trying not to wake him.

  “Tess?” He groans and his hands move in front of him as if he is reaching for me.

  “Here,” I whisper from behind him. He turns to his other side and wraps his arm around me before falling back to sleep. He says that he sleeps better when I am around, and I think that’s true for me as well.

  THE NEXT MORNING, my alarm goes off at six thirty and I rush around to try to put yesterday’s clothes on and get Hardin up and dressed. He’s so hard to wake up. I feel flustered and unprepared, but we make it to my room by seven fifteen, giving me plenty of time to change and brush my hair and teeth again. Steph sleeps through it all, and I prevent Hardin from pouring a glass of water on her head to wake her. I’m also really happy that Hardin doesn’t make any rude comments as I pull on one of my long skirts and a plain blue shirt.

  “See, it’s only eight; we have twenty minutes before we have to leave to walk to the coffeehouse,” Hardin brags.


  “Yeah, I thought I would walk with you? If not, that’s cool, too,” he says and looks away.

  “Yeah, of course it’s fine.” I am just not used to whatever this is that has changed between Hardin and me. It will be nice not to have to avoid him, or worry about running into him. What will Landon think? Will we even tell Landon?

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