Chapter One Hundred and Twenty-Eight

After We Fell


one hundred and twenty-eight




The smell of coffee fills my nostrils, and I reach for Tessa, knowing she’s close by. When my search comes up empty, I open my eyes to find two cups of coffee resting on the dresser and Tessa packing her bag.

    “What time is it?” I ask her, hoping she says it’s still early.

    “Nearly noon,” she says instead.

    Fuck, I’ve slept through half the damn day.

    “I’ve already packed everything and had breakfast. Lunch will be ready soon,” she tells me with a smile. She’s already showered and gotten herself dressed. She’s wearing those damn jeans again, the tight pair.

    I force myself out of bed and try to keep myself from lashing out at her for not waking me earlier. “Cool,” I respond and reach for my pants from the floor . . . only they aren’t on the floor anymore.

    “Here.” Tessa hands me the jeans, folded, of course. “Are you okay?” She must sense my hostility.

    “I’m fine.”

    “Hardin,” she presses. I knew she fucking would.

    “I’m okay; the weekend just went too fast, that’s all.”

    Her smile is enough to melt the ice that had formed around my mood. “It really has,” she agrees.

    I hate this living-separate shit. I hate it so fucking much.

    “We only have to get through until Thursday,” she says, trying to make the distance seem less . . . distant.

    “What did Karen make for lunch?” I change the subject. “Nothing involving maple syrup, I hope.”

    She laughs. “No, no syrup.”

    Landon is brooding at the table when we walk into the dining room at the same time as Karen, who’s carrying a tray of sandwiches. Tessa sits down next to Landon, and I watch as she asks him if he’s all right.

    “I’m okay, just feeling a little off,” he says.

    I never thought I’d see the day he’d lie to

    “Are you sure, because you’ve been acting so—”

    “Tessa . . .” He reaches up, and I swear, if he puts his hand on hers . . . “I’m fine.” He smiles, lowering his hand from the table. I quickly reach for her hand and put them on my lap, covered with my own.

    The boring table chat fades in and out. I don’t participate, and all too soon it’s time for me to drive Tessa back to Seattle. I’m once again reminded of what a fucking idiot I am for not moving there in the first place.

    “I’ll see you again before you leave, right?” Tessa’s eyes water as Landon hugs her goodbye. I look away.

    “Yeah, of course. Maybe I’ll come up there to visit you once you’re back from your visit to the queen?” he quips, making her smile. I appreciate his effort, especially since I’m going to be the one she loses her shit on when she finds out that him and Dakota broke up and I kept it from her.

    Ten minutes later, I’m practically dragging Tessa’s ass out of the house. Karen is much more upset than you would expect any reasonable person to be, and she tells Tessa that she loves her, which is pretty fucking weird.

    “Does it make me a horrible person that I feel more comfortable around your family than my own?” Tessa asks me after fifteen minutes of driving in silence.


    She glares at me, making me roll my eyes at her pretend anger. “Both of our families are fucked up,” I say, and she nods, returning to her silence.

    The closer my car gets to Seattle, the stronger the current of anxiety that’s flowing through my chest. I don’t want to spend the entire week away from her. Four days away from Tessa is a fucking lifetime.

    The moment I get back, I’m heading straight to the gym.