Before by Anna Todd

  I climb on top of her, and she shakes a little when drops of water fall from my hair onto her face. I smile, watching her close her eyes, expecting more drops.

  “I can’t believe no one has fucked you before.” I mean every word. I want to push my covered body onto hers so she gets a small idea of what it would be like if I was going to fuck her today. I prop myself up on my elbow and place my hand on Tessa’s neck, gently running only my fingertips between her ample breasts. They look so soft, big enough that I could fuck them, more than a handful, but they keep themselves supported, creating a perfect set of perky tits. Her nipples are hard pebbles waiting for my mouth to suck on them. If I stop here to admire them with my touch, I’ll never keep my dick to myself. Thank God she’s wearing a bra.

  My fingers trail down her stomach, the soft, modest curve of her stomach. Gooseflesh covers her skin, and she sighs. I dip into her panties, briefly rubbing my thumb against the lining. My fingers drift over her pussy, searching through her wetness to find her clit.

  “Does that feel good?” I ask, and take the bud between my thumb and forefinger.

  She doesn’t respond. She’s wet and swollen; her body is surrendering itself to me with only a touch. I’ve only just begun showing her how I can make her feel. I lean my head down and skim my lips across hers.

  “Does it feel better than when you do it?” I ask. I release her clit and run a single finger down her slit. I wonder what gets her off when she’s alone. Does she come from rubbing her clit or fingering herself? I get the feeling she’s more of a clit girl, straight to the point.

  “Does it?” I ask again.


  “When you touch yourself. Does it feel like this?”

  She still doesn’t answer . . . Why would she not just tell me?

  It’s hot, so fucking hot, to picture her lying on her dorm bed, legs spread and her small fingers teasing herself. She’d have to keep quiet because her roommate is asleep, but she would work herself to orgasm and cover her own mouth with one hand. Sometimes, when she comes hard, she may even bite down on her full lip and swallow her own gasps as she returns to reality. I need to know how she does it, but she’s still staring at me like I’ve grown an extra head. All I did was ask her about how she masturbates.


  It dawns on me that Little Miss Priss has never made herself come.

  “Wait . . . you’ve never done that either, have you?” I ask. I continue to tease her, enjoying the pool of her arousal coating my finger. “You’re so responsive to me, so wet.”

  She moans. The sound is fucking exquisite. I pay attention to her clit again and gently pinch before rolling it between my wet fingers.

  “What? Was . . . that?” Tessa’s voice is nothing but a warm whisper, all resistance dissolved at my touch. I repeat the pleasurable pinch and roll while rubbing in small circles with my thumb. Tessa’s panting now, her legs are stiffening, and I know she’s close. So close. I can’t wait to watch her lose herself for me. I can’t believe she’s never felt the pure euphoria that comes with sex. Fuck, she’s been missing out.

  Her back arches off the grass, lifting her tits closer to my face. Just one lick wouldn’t hurt.

  Yes, it would. I would be distracted. I kiss her again, this time in earnest, claiming her and giving her exactly what she needs. I’m providing her with something she’s never felt before. She’s inching out of ordinary reality, and I’m the cause of it. My touch. Me.

  I push my free hand into her bra, cupping a perfect breast. I massage it, letting her feel more than one sensation at a time. Her legs are shaking now.

  “That’s right, Tessa, come for me,” I encourage her. Her lying on the grass, her teeth sunk into her bottom lip, flushed cheeks, and her eyes . . . those eyes are fucking wild.

  “Look at me, baby,” I beg, nipping at the flesh overflowing from her bra.

  “Hardin,” she moans, her voice thick like paste, refusing to let me look away. She’s so sexy, so erotic, without even the slightest attempt at being so.

  “Hardin . . .” She pulls me closer as she utters my name. She’s breathing so hard, trying to regain her composure.

  “I’ll give you a minute to recover,” I say as I slowly draw my hand out of her panties. A slick trail of her orgasm is glistening on her stomach where my hand rests. She sighs, and I move my hand to my boxers to wipe them clean.

  I’m so fucking hard right now I can barely see straight. She’s still lying here, her face looking like she just had the time of her life. She would like more, I know she would. Lord knows I would give it to her in a fucking heartbeat. Every part of me wants to slide inside of her. I want to hear her gasps and feel her tightness around me.

  Not today. I can’t today. I stand to my feet and grab my jeans and shoes from the bank.

  I can feel Tessa’s eyes on me as I get dressed again. “We’re leaving already?” Her voice is quiet, laced with uncertainty.

  Does she want me to make her come again? Greedy now that she knows how incredible her body can feel.

  “Yeah . . . You wanted to stay longer?”

  “I just thought . . . I don’t know. I thought maybe you would want something . . .”

  She looks humiliated. Why would she? Is she already regretting that she allowed me to make her come?

  I should’ve known she would.

  Tessa shifts her body, covering herself from me. She’s already trying to rush away from me. Wait, she said she thought I might want something . . .

  “Oh, no. I’m okay.”

  I would fucking love to have your warm tongue teasing the head of my cock right now, but it’s not part of this plan.

  But instead of that, I add, “Not now,” to be sure she knows I’m going to thoroughly enjoy it when it does happen. Tessa nods and pulls her jeans over her legs and her shirt over her head.

  Watching her get dressed messes with my head. I want to stroll over and undress her again. She shifts on her heels like she’s uncomfortable between her thighs. She shouldn’t be sore; I didn’t enter her at all. She’s probably not used to having a puddle of her own come there. The thought makes me laugh and turns me on so damn much at the same time.

  “IS SOMETHING WRONG?” I ask Tessa in the car as I pull onto the gravel road. The sun has gone down slightly, and the air is growing wet. Rain is coming soon.

  “I don’t know. Why are you being so weird now?”

  Weird? How?

  “I’m not, you are.”

  “No, you haven’t said a word to me since . . . you know.” She’s too shy to be specific.

  I say it for her. “Since I gave you your first orgasm?”

  “Um, yeah. Since that, you haven’t said anything. You just got dressed and we left. It makes me feel like you’re using me or something.”

  Using her? For what?

  Oh, I am using her. Goddamnit.

  But she doesn’t know that. It’s only her insecurity making her think that way.

  “What? Of course I’m not using you. To use someone, I would have to be getting something out of it.” I half laugh.

  When I look over at her, she isn’t laughing. Her eyes are red, and a single tear falls down her cheek. Fuck.

  She’s crying?

  “Are you crying? What did I say?” I don’t understand her. Why is she so emotional, and why does it make me feel so guilty? She takes everything I say and twists it into something rude. She thinks so little of me, and I can’t really blame her. She’s so sensitive.

  “I didn’t mean it like that—I’m sorry. I’m not used to whatever is supposed to happen after messing around with someone, plus I wasn’t going to just drop you off at your room and have us go our separate ways. I thought maybe we could get some dinner or something? I’m sure you’re starving.” I squeeze her thigh with my hand. She smiles at me, and the ache in my chest calms tremendously.

  “So what type of food do you like?” I ask her. I don’t know where to take her. I’ve never gone out
to eat alone with a woman before. Sad, I know, but most of my time with women takes place elsewhere.

  Tessa wraps her tangled hair around her hand to pull it up. I think I may like her hair up . . . it’ll give me a better view of her face. “Well, I like anything, really, as long as I know what it is—and it doesn’t involve ketchup.”

  “You don’t like ketchup? Aren’t all Americans supposed to be wild for the stuff?” What an odd girl she is.

  “I have no idea, but it’s disgusting.”

  She’s so sure and proud and unwavering in her hatred of ketchup. It’s comical.

  She laughs with me. “Let’s just stick with a plain diner, then?”

  When the car grows too silent, I ask, “So what do you plan on doing after college?”

  Shit, I already asked her this. I’m fucking terrible at conversation.

  “I’m going to move to Seattle immediately, and I hope to work at a publishing house or be a writer. I know it’s silly.” She looks down at her hands. It’s not silly; I have the same dream. “But you already asked me that before, remember?”

  “No, it’s not silly. I know someone over at Vance Publishing; it’s a bit of a drive, but maybe you should apply there for an internship. I could talk to the boss.” Vance would kill to have someone as bright as Tessa around that place.

  “What? You’d do that for me?” She’s astounded. I can hear it in her voice.

  “Yeah, it’s not a big deal.” I shrug my shoulders. I hate the attention I’m getting right now. I can just feel Tessa gushing from the other seat. It’s not a big deal, getting someone an internship at Vance. I would help anyone. Really, I would.

  “Wow, thank you. Really. I need to get a job or an internship soon anyway, and working at a publishing house would literally be a dream come true!” She claps her hands. Literally claps them together, like a child who’s just won a giant bear at the fair. It makes me want to smile.

  AS I PARK, Tessa looks a little unsure about the diner, and I watch her eyes take in the outdated appearance.

  “The food here is amazing,” I promise her, and climb out of the car. The diner is nearly empty when we sit down. A stubby older woman brings our menus, and I try to look anywhere but at Tessa.

  She starts a conversation with me after we order our meals. She tries to pry into my childhood, but I don’t allow it.

  “My dad drank a lot; he left when I was younger,” she blurts out suddenly.

  I don’t say anything, I just frown at my plate and try not to picture her as a little girl, hiding from her version of my fucked-up dad.

  I stay inside my head during the drive back, focusing my attention on using my fingers to draw small shapes on Tessa’s leg.

  “Did you have a nice time?” Tessa asks when we get to campus. Her question is full of expectation.

  A nice time was certainly had. I would like to have another nice time with her, making her moan my name as I finger-fuck her over and over.

  But instead of all that I say, “Yeah, I did, actually . . . Listen, I would walk you to your room, but I don’t want to play twenty questions with Steph . . .”

  I shift in my seat to look at her. She’s disappointed even though she’s trying really hard to keep that fake smile on her face.

  “It’s fine. I’ll just see you tomorrow,” she says with regret.

  I can tell she doesn’t want to go, and the thought pleases me. She stares at me, waiting for me to say something. I don’t speak, but I reach up and grab a loose strand of her hair and tuck it behind her ear. I don’t have much to say, but I want to feel her again. I want to feel this overwhelming calm she brings with her when she touches me. She turns her cheek so it’s resting in my palm, and she looks like a younger version of herself, open and waiting for me. I tug at her arms, asking her to come closer. I need her closer. She obliges and climbs over the center console and straddles my lap. My body is warm from the afternoon sun, and Tessa’s hands are greedily tracing the ink on my stomach over my thin shirt. Each touch of her fingertips sends another steady flicker through me.

  I tease her tongue with mine, taking everything she’ll give me. I wrap my arms around her back, pulling her as close to me as possible. It’s still not enough. I need more of her. I can’t get enough of this girl. My hands travel up her warm stomach, and we’re interrupted by the most obnoxious ring tone.

  “Another alarm?” I ask her as she digs into her purse. The screen on her ancient phone is small, but big enough for me to see a name flashing across the screen: NOAH.

  Her precious little high school boyfriend is calling her while she’s in my car with her tongue down my throat. She presses ignore and smiles up at me. Really? Guess she’s not as innocent as I thought. A good orgasm seemed to pluck out her morals, one moan at a time.

  It dawns on me that she’ll never tell him any of what happened today. Not a word. She’s going to kiss me, get out of my car, and go call her preppy little boyfriend the moment she gets into her room. She’s going to tell him she loves him. He’ll say it back, and she’ll smile the way she did when I kissed her.

  She licks her lips and leans across the center console to kiss me again.

  No, no.

  “I think I better go.” I sigh and stare out the windshield.

  “Hardin, I ignored the call,” she says, defensive. “I’m going to talk to him about all this. I just don’t know how or when—but it will be soon, though, I promise.”

  Well, I was wrong about her morals disappearing, but this is worse than I thought. She spent one afternoon with me, and now she’s going to break up with her childhood lover boy in hopes that I’ll be his replacement?

  No, no.


  The air in the car is thickening, clogging my throat, as Tessa waits for my response.

  “Talk to him about what?” I ask, knowing I shouldn’t feed this puppy more than I already have.

  “All of this.” Her hand waves around the car, stirring up the thick air, and I’m convinced I’m going to fucking choke on it. What was I thinking doing this shit with her? I should’ve just fucked her, no cute little lunch debate over ketchup, no talks about our future plans. As women always do, she now wants to be a part of my life. She’s her own brand of crazy if she thinks this could actually happen. “Us,” she adds.

  She’s using words like us, and it’s fucking terrifying. “Us? You’re not trying to tell me you’re going to break up with him . . . for me, are you?” She feels heavier on my lap now, a solid reminder of why virgins aren’t my thing. Even Natalie wasn’t a first-timer; she had given her virginity to a boy from her church while “experimenting.”

  “You don’t . . . want me to?” Tessa frowns in confusion.

  Christ, this is going downhill fast.

  “No, why would you? I mean, yeah, if you want to dump him, go for it, but don’t do it on my behalf.”

  “I just . . . I thought—”

  “I already told you that I don’t date, Theresa.”

  She flinches, hurt by my words. This is messier than I thought it would be. Part of me wants to tell her I don’t mean to be a dick, that it’s ingrained into every fiber of me to be this way, it’s not my fault. Or hers. Except it is my fault—it’s my fault that I just don’t have the slightest bit of whatever it is that makes people want to pair off and live happily ever after whilst frolicking through wildflower patches. I’m simply not capable.

  “You’re disgusting.” She climbs off of my lap and quickly gathers her phone and bag. Her absence on my lap nags at me. So does the deep gray storm that has brewed in her eyes. “Stay away from me from now on—I mean it!” she shouts and runs off.

  Natalie’s voice saying the exact same words to me, eyes full of tears, blasts through the speakers in my mind. Tessa’s eyes are glossy, but she’s holding it together for her pride. We’re alike in this way; the enormous, irrational amount of pride we both have could be dangerous.

  Tessa opens the car door and climbs out without even lo
oking back at me. She does her best to slam the door and hurries across the parking lot. I immediately pull out and turn the dial up on my stereo. I need the noise to silence the hurricane gathering in my mind. My hands are itching, my mind racing.

  Natalie, Theresa, Natalie, Theresa.

  Natalie standing on the porch at my mum’s house in Hampstead, a book bag covered in floral print clutched to her chest and her bloodshot eyes full of thick tears.

  “Please, Hardin,” she cried. “I have nowhere to go.” She was begging. A puff of smoke clouded in the cold air in front of her as she spoke. I couldn’t bring myself to let her in. I just couldn’t. I had heard that her family and church had exiled her, kicking her out of both of her lifelong sanctuaries. She looked so young in that moment; her blue eyes were shining through the darkness as she waited, hoping I would change my mind.

  I wouldn’t, though, I fucking couldn’t. I couldn’t let her stay at my house. My mum was barely home, and that would leave her with me all the time. What could I do for her? I didn’t want to have anything to do with her, and even if I had, I couldn’t really do shit to help her. My dad was a drunk who would wake her as he stumbled into the musty house, its walls stained with cigarette smoke the odor of which had permanently seeped into the upholstered furniture. Where would she sleep if he suddenly came back? He’d been gone for a few years, but my childish mind believed that he could return. I was a damn fool.

  Now he is in fact back, and he has a nice little family in a big house, and I hate how often this thought crosses my mind. I’ve already moved to another country to live close to him, and now he’s become embedded in my thoughts what feels like all fucking day.

  A honking noise pulls me back to the present, and I quickly jerk the steering wheel, causing a minivan to honk at me again. My eyes aren’t focused; the world outside the windshield is a blur.

  Blinking a few times, I reach for the volume dial on the stereo. I need to pull off to the side of the road. My chest is aching, a steady, thick pounding of muscle inside of me. My bones are rattling from the force of it. I can feel beads of sweat, tears maybe, soaking my skin. Embarrassed, I wipe at them.

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