Before by Anna Todd

She sighs dramatically, and I hold my breath. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want her to want me to.

  “Fine. You can stay, but I’m going back to sleep.” She doesn’t turn around. I wonder how hard she would slap me if I were to lie down behind her or grab her shoulder and turn her to face me.

  I don’t mind her sleeping, but I would rather be able to enjoy her company. I had half of a plan when I showed up here, and now that’s completely out of the question. She’s already annoyed; she’ll be beyond talking to if I drop this shit on her right now. “Why? You don’t want to hang out with me?” I ask her.

  Once again she tells me that I’m mean and drunk. I tell her I’m neither, and that she’s just acting like a child.

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

  My head spins; she doesn’t stop going in circles. “Oh God, not this again. Come on, Tessa, just drop it. I don’t want to talk about that right now.”

  It dawns on me that if I just come clean, the majority of our problems would go away. The problem is, she would go with them.

  “Why did you drink tonight?” Tessa questions me.

  It seemed like a good idea. I was tense and miserable, and when I tried to come up with a clear thought, I failed. Liquor on my breath makes my confessions less important, less offensive. I can utter drunk ramblings, and if she’s appalled, I can deny the words tomorrow.

  Fuck, I can’t stop lying.

  “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.” I do love her and I need to be close to her. I hate when she’s mad at me, but in a sick way, the fact that she worries about me gives me comfort.

  Her anger is softening with every second that passes. “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.”

  What is this, Dr. Phil? It takes me a moment to realize she’s talking to me as if we have a standard dating arrangement. Which we are the furthest thing from. She’s rambling on about communication, when all she does is roll over on the bed and give me the silent treatment. I’ve been busting my ass for this girl, and she still isn’t pleased. I’m trying to be reasonable, to not let my anger flare, but it’s so hard with someone like Tessa, who pulls every trigger I have.

  “You just don’t like not having control over everything,” I fire back. I still can’t believe she’s trying to give me advice on how to handle shit. As if she knows everything, the way she thinks she does.

  “Excuse me?” Her voice cracks. She leans up, resting her elbows on her knees.

  I tell her she’s a control freak. She denies it.

  She asks me if I have anything else to insult her with, and I ask her to move in with me. She looks as stunned as I thought she would. I’m right with her, surprised that my mouth chose this exact moment to bring this subject up. She studies my face intently, as if she’s memorizing what I tell her about the place. She’s excited, I can tell. But she’s also unsure, and not good at hiding it. I’ll show her that she has nothing to be afraid of. I can continue to be better for her and make her happy. I know that I can. The energy between us has shifted drastically and she’s biting into her bottom lip and teasing me and I can’t wait to move in with her.

  The hurricane of truths is floating above us, swirling and building, ready to rain down any minute. I pretend we’re in a novel and that she’ll forgive me as Elizabeth forgave Darcy. If we were words on a page, she would find herself in my arms again, no matter the depth of my mistake, just like Catherine. She would crave the adventure that I bring to her life and find it impossible to stay away, just like Daisy. The disaster can’t touch us if we’re safe in our own world, our own apartment, our own novel.

  This place will be a fortress, not a prison, I silently promise her. The words die on my tongue, and I turn to her again. She’s staring, glossy eyes full of controlled excitement.

  “So you’ll move in with me?”

  Say yes, Tess. Please say yes.

  She rolls her shoulders, and a hint of a pink bra strap shows. I was under the impression she only owned white-and-black cotton lingerie. I keep my eyes on her shoulder, waiting for another peek.

  “Jesus, let’s take this one step at a time. I’ll stop being mad at you for now,” she says, doing her version of compromising. “Now come to bed with me.” She lies down on the bed and pats a spot for me. Suddenly I’m a yappy little dog whose owner let them into the bed. I unbutton my jeans, pull them down my legs, and toss them on top of a stack of textbooks near Steph’s bed. I look at Tessa, and she’s focused on my shirt, silently suggesting that I take it off. The thin cotton T-shirt she has on is sexy enough, but there’s nothing like her wearing my shirts. I absolutely love when she wears them to bed.

  When I take it off and lay it in front of her, her face breaks into a beautiful smile and she lifts up her own shirt. Her smooth skin is so sexy, the way her stomach curves into soft breasts. My eyes nearly pop from my head onto the floor at the sight of her lacy ensemble. I’m used to a soft cotton, no-form bra holding her tits up, not a structured push-up bra with lace lining the fabric.

  “Fuck,” I can’t help but say. “What are you wearing?” This girl is so goddamn sexy and doesn’t even have a fucking clue. Her cheeks are a wild, deep red.

  Her voice isn’t much over a whisper. “I . . . I got some new underwear today.” She’s embarrassed even though she looks like a goddess, with her long blond hair, her smooth legs, and her pouty lips just begging for my cock to push through them . . .

  I immediately wonder what else she got today, and how hard it would be to convince her to try it all on for me in a private little show.

  I’ve never been this turned on by a woman in my entire life. She’s so fucking sexual without even trying to be, and she has no idea how many women would kill to be her, to have her sexy curvy body. “I see that . . . Fuck.”

  Tessa shakes her head. “You already said that.” She loves hearing it, though. Tessa blooms under my compliments, and it’s highly, highly satisfying. It amazes me every day that she doesn’t see herself for who she is. I repeat how beautiful she looks, and she smiles more. I can’t possibly look away from her tits, pushing up toward her, and I can’t possibly stop my cock from pulsing under my boxers. Tessa’s eyes are focused there, on my swollen cock straining against the black cotton of my boxer briefs.

  Tessa’s eyes are hungry as she flicks her tongue over her top lip, gently sinking her teeth into it. She says something to me, but I couldn’t repeat it if my life depended on it.

  “Mmm . . .” I agree with whatever it is that she’s saying. I can’t think of anything else except the way her body calls to me; it’s like she was made for me. Using my knee, I support my body weight over hers and press my mouth against her full, wet lips. Her tongue is velvet and scotch, soft and sharp as it swipes over mine, cutting through me and healing me at once.

  This is a dangerous game I’m playing, I’m walking along the most fragile line, but I’ve developed a talent for balancing. If she moves in with me, she’ll see how ready I am to be better for her. She’ll see that one mistake counts for very little compared to how much I love her, compared to what I can become for her.

  Her mouth is hungry on mine. She’s an expert at this; her tongue moves with mine, and with every sound of hers I swallow, I become more infatuated. I push my hand through her soft hair, desperately trying to get closer to her somehow. I press my body against her, needing some friction on my cock before I combust. The relief rushing through my body when I rub against her is frightening to me. She controls my mind and my body, and I don’t know what she’ll do with them.

  I lean up on my elbow, taking in her beauty. Her mouth is dark pink now, and inside my mind I’m running through an entire book of things I crave to do t
o her. My other hand traces the soft pink lace across her chest; the thin fabric is barely holding her in.

  Patiently and ever so gently, I trace my fingers over the cup, under the strap, and I push my fingers inside the fabric and feel the hard pebbles of her nipples. She’s fucking heaven. “I can’t decide if I want this to stay on . . .” I could spend every hour of every day with her lying here, waiting for my touch. I apply a pinch of pressure to her nipples, and she moans in surprise.

  I want her breasts bare in my hands. “Off it goes,” I groan. I’m horny and impatient, and when she arches her back as I unclasp the small hooks, I nearly come in my boxers. I palm her fleshy tits, pushing them up and then down just to watch the perfect way they move. Her tits are perfect—she’s my living fetish. “What do you want to do, Tess?”

  I want to do every fucking thing with her. I want to do things I’ve never done, and experience things from my past in a new way. “I already told you before,” she whines, pushing her chest against my hand. Such a horny little freak she is.

  Are we ready? Is she ready? I think she’s ready. She’s panting, and I can see the crotch of her panties glistening under the light of the lamp.

  I run my hand down her stomach and to the hem of her lacy panties. I try to control myself, but she moans and I need to hear more of my favorite sounds. Fuck me, she’s got me wrapped around her finger.

  My fingers move to her pussy, and I tap gently over the swollen mound, feeling how much she soaked her panties. Her sweet scent fills the air, and I want to taste her. I push my fingers into her, pumping into her to the knuckle. She cries out, and her sounds seep into me as she wraps her arms around me to steady her jerking body. She’s tight around my two fingers, and she gasps each time they enter her pussy.

  Tessa’s hands are frantic as she finds my thickness, palming and squeezing and stroking me through my boxers.

  “You’re sure?” I ask her. I need her to be absolutely positive about this. I need this to be as perfect for her as it will be for me.

  It takes a breath for Tessa to realize that I’m speaking to her. Her mouth is open, eyes wide. “Yes, I’m sure. Stop overthinking it.”

  I lean my head down and chuckle against her neck. The irony of this is killing me. She’s the one usually overthinking everything, but I’m the one who is now. I’m so close to finally having her, and it’s tainted by the stupid Bet. The guilt I’ve been holding on to since I grew to love her is flowing through me. I’m battling within myself: the good boy who loves the good girl and the bad boy who’s too broken to love anyone are fighting with swords. Each one wants something different from the princess. The boy in black gets knocked to the ground.

  “I love you. You know that, don’t you?” I say into her mouth. Can she taste my panic?

  If she can, she doesn’t show it. “Yes . . .” She kisses me, slowly and softly. “I love you, Hardin.”

  Tessa’s legs are gently kicking out as if her body can barely handle the pleasure of my fingers sinking in and out of her tightness. She’s a whimpering mess for me as images flicker through my mind of her body writhing beneath mine while I break her skin and claim her body. Not until she makes the first move . . . I set up a boundary to keep. My mouth moves to her neck to claim her in a different way. I suck at the soft skin there, feeling the heat of blood rushing beneath the surface. She’s mine.

  “Hardin . . . I’m . . .” she whimpers when I leave her empty. She’s so ripe, so ready to be fucking devoured. Suddenly I’m a starving man. I need my mouth on her. I scoot back on the bed and pull off her panties and spread her thighs. The smell is so sweet, so intoxicating, I’ve never experienced anything close to this hunger roaring inside of me. My lips peck a tender trail down her stomach. She’s soaked. I can’t help but blow on it and delight in the way she moans, lifting her ass off the bed. I dive in.

  Her taste fills my senses as my tongue swipes wide licks up and down her. With each moan, my tongue licks harder, more precisely, and she fists her white sheets to keep from screaming.

  “Tell me how good it feels,” I say, making sure to blow a breath against her with each word.

  She chokes out, “So . . .”

  I suck at her and lick her into a shaking, whimpering state.

  I want to give her all the encouragement she needs. “That’s it, baby, come for me, I need to feel it on my tongue.” She obeys. I’m high with her as she orgasms for me. I’m no longer drunk with liquor; now I’m drunk with power.

  I climb up her body, my cock probing at her stomach, and kiss her. She snaps out of her sated state and kisses me hard. She’s already ready for more. I’m impressed. “Are you . . .” I ask her, to be sure.

  She nods frantically, lifting her lips to mine. “Shh . . . Yes, I’m sure,” Tess begs. The sharp ends of her fingernails dig into my back as she takes my mouth again. Her lips suck at mine, her tongue pushes through my lips, and I’m high again. Her hands push my briefs down my ass and legs, and the sensation of being bare and so fucking hard against her skin has me manic.

  I need to be inside of her—I have to make her body mine.

  This is going to change everything. Neither of us will ever be the same again. She will no longer be an innocent girl; she will be a woman with a sex life. She will have to check the sexually active box at the doctor’s office. She will get married one day and have to tell the guy that she fucked me. Any talk of her past sexual experiences will be filled with me. I feel immense guilt but extreme satisfaction. It’s a liberating but frightening experience.

  “Tessa, I . . .” I have to tell her. My body is ripping itself into two pieces.

  “Shh . . .” she whispers. She has no idea what she’s saying.

  I feel the weight of my body on hers, such a perfect fit. I look over her face, trying to save this moment forever. “But, Tessa, I need to tell you something . . .”

  “Shh. Hardin, please stop talking.” She’s begging me now. Her eyes are full of love and excitement. My life is changing, and right now, I’m going to change everything. She takes control before I can get a word out and presses her lips to mine. Her hand wraps around my hard cock, and she jerks me, tempting and hushing me. I inhale a sharp breath when her thumb swipes over the bead of precome on the tip.

  “I’m going to come if you do that again,” I whine. I want to feel her delicate fingertips tracing over the head of my cock, teasing me, making me beg for more.

  More than anything, I need to bury myself inside of her. Now.

  I assume she doesn’t have any condoms and only feel slight shame that I always carry one out of habit. I have few rules when it comes to sex, but using a condom is a complete must for me.

  Tessa is watching me from the bed as I gather my jeans off the floor and dig through the pockets. I feel like a pervert, carrying a condom around in my wallet in anticipation of fucking.

  One look into Tessa’s eager eyes banishes that thought, and I climb back onto the bed, condom in hand. I wait a second for her to take the condom from my hand, but she doesn’t. No shit, Sherlock, she’s probably never seen one outside of Sex Ed.

  “Are . . .” I don’t know how to ask her if she wants to try to put it on me. Some women like to, some don’t.

  She raises her voice. “If you ask if I am sure, I will kill you.”

  I believe her.

  So I decide to go with option two, which is to cherish this moment while I have her. I shake my head and wave the condom in front of her. “I was going to say, are you going to help me put this on, or should I do it?” I would be quicker, I’m sure.

  Tessa looks nervous as she chews on her lip. My cock is aching for her. I’m tempted to just fuck her without a condom.

  I have to remind myself that that’s a stupid fucking idea.

  “Oh. I want to . . . but you have to show me how.” She’s so shy and so damn sexy. Her tits, so heavy and round, are distracting me. I need to speed up this process.

  “Okay,” I agree. Tessa scoots closer to m
e and crosses her legs. I’m happy to show her, but I’m only halfway in reality. Mostly I’m already on top of her, pushing into her. She’s moaning and clawing at my back and my arms. She’s begging for more, she’s coming and I’m claiming her.

  “THAT WASN’T SO BAD for a virgin and a drunk,” Tessa teases when the deed is done and the condom is on. I remind her that I’m not drunk and explain that her sassy mouth has caused me to sober up.

  “Now what?” she asks, genuinely wondering.

  I guide her hand to grasp my cock. “Eager?” I ask her.

  She nods her head.

  “Me, too,” I say. I am eager, I’ve never wanted anything more. She’s still jerking me; my hardness is wrapped in her palm. I move between her legs and part them with my knee.

  Once again, her pussy is glistening for me. “You’re soaking wet, so that will make it easier.” I can smell her again. She’s so responsive, and it drives me fucking mad. I kiss her mouth, dotting my lips against the corners of her soft lips, her nose, her mouth again. Tessa’s arms wrap around me, and I inhale as she presses me closer. I brush against her wetness and nearly explode. She’s impatient, pulling me closer.

  I warn her. “Slow, baby, we need to go slow.” I kiss her temple. I don’t want to hurt her. I wouldn’t if I didn’t have to. “It’s going to hurt at first, so just tell me if you want me to stop. I mean it, okay?” I stare down at her. Her pupils are blown out, her cheeks flared, and her hair a wild mess across the pillow.

  “Okay.” She swallows nervously. I stare at her, silently reminding her how much I love her, need her, cherish her. With a deep breath, I find her opening and push gently inside. Her tightness clings to every inch that I push through, and I stop when her eyes screw shut.

  “You okay?” I ask, breathless. She’s nodding, her lips in a hard line. She’s so warm, so tight for me.

  “Fuck,” I moan when she groans, tightening again.

  “Can I move?” Fuck, I need to move. I knew she would feel like heaven, but I had no idea how fucking extravagant heaven would be.

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