Chapter Thirty-One

After We Fell

chapter thirty-one




You sabotaged her getting an apartment?” Lillian asks, her jaw falling open.

    “I told you it was fucked up,” I remind her.

    Another pair of headlights flashes by us as we walk to her parents’ cabin. I had every intention of going back to my father’s, but Lillian has proven herself to be a decent listener so far. So when she asked me to walk her back to her cabin and finish our discussion, I accepted. My absence will give Tessa some time to cool down and hopefully be ready to talk by the time I return.

    “You didn’t tell me what level of messed up it was. I don’t blame her for being mad at you,” the girl says, of course ready to take Tessa’s side.

    I can’t imagine what she’d think of me if she knew about all the shit I’ve put Tessa through in the past six months.

    “Well, what are you going to do about it?” she asks, opening the front door to her parents’ cabin. She gestures for me to come in, like it was a foregone conclusion that I would.

    Once I step inside, I see it’s very extravagant. Even bigger than my father’s. Fucking rich people.

    “They should be upstairs,” she says as we walk inside.

    “Who should be upstairs?” a woman’s voice questions, and Lillian grimaces before turning around to the woman I assume is her mum. She looks just like her, the only difference between them being age. “Who’s this?” she asks.

    Just then, a middle-aged man wearing a polo shirt and khakis walks into the living room.

    Great; fucking great. I should’ve just stuck to walking Lillian home. I wonder how Tessa would feel if she knew I was here. Would she mind? She’s pretty mad at me anyway, and she has a history of being jealous of Molly. Still, this girl isn’t Molly; she’s nothing like her.

    “Mom, Dad, this is Hardin, Ken’s son.”

    A huge grin appears on the man’s face. “I was wondering if I’d get to meet you!” he exclaims with a posh British accent. Well, that explains how he would know my father from university.

    He walks over and pats my shoulder. I take a step back, causing him to frown slightly, although he also kind of seems to have expected this reaction from me. My father must have warned him about me. I almost laugh at the thought.

    “Honey,” he says, turning to his wife. “This is Trish’s son.”

    “You know my mum?” I ask him before also turning to his wife.

    “Yeah, I knew your mom back before she was your mom,” the woman says with a smile. “We were all friends, the five of us,” she adds.

    “Five?” I ask.

    Lillian’s dad looks at her. “Now, honey.”

    “Anyway, you look just like her! Only you have your father’s eyes. I haven’t seen her since I moved back to America. How is she?” she asks.

    “She’s good, she’s getting married soon.”

    “Really?” she squeals. “Tell her congratulations from me, that is just so great to hear.”

    “Okay,” I respond. These people smile too damn much. It’s like being in a room with three Karens, only much more annoying and much less charming. “Well, I’m going to get going,” I tell Lillian, figuring this has been awkward enough.

    “No, no. You don’t have to go—we’ll go upstairs,” Lillian’s father says, then wraps his arm around his wife’s waist and leads her away.

    Lillian watches them go, then looks up at me. “Sorry, they are . . .”

    “Fake?” I answer for her. I can sense the bullshit behind the man’s bleached white smile.

    “Yes, very.” She laughs and goes over and sits on the couch.

    I stand awkwardly by the door.

    “Will your girlfriend mind if you’re here?” she asks me.

    “I don’t know, probably.” I groan, running exasperated fingers through my hair.

    “Would you want her to do the same thing? How would you feel if she was hanging out with a guy, one she just met?” As soon as the words leave her lips, anger swells in my chest.

    “I’d be seeing red,” I growl.

    “Thought so.” She smirks and pats the couch next to her.

    I take a deep breath and stride over to sit on the opposite side of the couch from her. I’m not sure how to read her; she’s rude as hell and a little annoying.

    “You’re the jealous type, then?” she asks, eyes wide.

    “I guess so.” I shrug.

    “I bet your girlfriend wouldn’t like it much if you kissed me.” She moves closer, and I jump up from the couch. I’m halfway to the door before she begins to laugh.

    “What the hell?” I try to keep my voice down.

    “I was just messing with you. I’m not interested, trust me.” She smiles. “And it’s a relief to know that you aren’t either. Now sit.”

    She may have a lot of the same traits as Tessa but she isn’t as sweet . . . nor as innocent. I sit down on the chair across from the couch. I don’t know this chick enough to trust her. I’m only here because I don’t want to face what’s back at my dad’s cabin. And Lillian, despite being a stranger, is a neutral third party, unlike Landon, who happens to be Tessa’s best friend. It’s sort of nice to have someone to talk to who doesn’t have a reason to judge me. And hell, she’s a little nutty, so she’s more likely to get where I’m coming from.

    “Now tell me what is in Seattle that you aren’t willing to face for her?”

    “It’s not anything specific. I do have some bad history there, but it’s more than that. It’s the fact that she’ll be thriving,” I respond, knowing how fucking insane I sound. But I don’t give a fuck; this girl stalked me for an hour, so if anyone is insane, it’s her.

    “And that’s a bad thing?”

    “No. I want her to thrive, of course. I just want to be a part of it.” I sigh, missing Tessa desperately even though it’s only been a few hours. The fact that she’s so angry with me makes me miss her even more.

    “So you refuse to go to Seattle with her because you want to be involved in her life? It doesn’t make sense,” she says, stating the obvious.

    “I know you don’t get it, she doesn’t either, but she’s the only thing I have. Literally, she’s the only thing in my life that I give a shit about, and I can’t lose her. I’d have nothing without her.”

    Why am I telling her this shit?

    “I know I sound fucking pathetic.”

    “No, you don’t.” She gives me a sympathetic smile, and I look away. The last thing I want is sympathy.

    The light on the staircase shuts off, and I look back at Lillian. “Should I go?” I ask.

    “No, I’m sure my father is ecstatic that I brought you home,” she says, no sarcasm in her voice.

    “Why is that?”

    “Well, ever since I introduced them to Riley, he’s been hoping we would break up.”

    “He doesn’t like him or some shit?”



    “He doesn’t like her,” she says, and I almost smile at her.

    I feel bad for her father not accepting her relationship, but I have to admit I’m extremely relieved.