Chapter Thirty-Two

After We Fell

chapter thirty-two




Landon’s been explaining that since their apartment is so close to campus, they can walk there easily every day. No need to drive, and he won’t even have to take the subway on a daily basis.

    “Well, I’m just glad you won’t be driving in that massive city. Thank goodness,” Karen says, putting her hand on her son’s shoulder.

    He shakes his head. “I’m a fine driver, better than Tessa,” he teases.

    “I’m not that bad, better than Hardin,” I remark.

    something to brag about,” Landon says playfully.

    “And it’s not your driving I’m worried about. It’s those insane taxis!” Karen says, like a mother hen.

    I grab a cookie off the plate on the counter and look at the front door again. I’ve been watching it, waiting for Hardin to return. My anger has been slowly shifting to concern as the minutes tick by.

    “Okay, thanks for letting me know. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Ken says into his phone as he joins us in the kitchen.

    “Who was that?”

    “Max. Hardin’s at their cabin with Lillian,” he says, and my stomach drops.

    “Lillian?” I can’t stop myself from asking.

    “Max’s daughter; she’s about your age.”

    Why would Hardin be at the neighbors’ cabin with their daughter? Does he know her? Has he dated her?

    “He’ll be back soon, I’m sure.” Ken frowns, and when he looks at me, I get the feeling he hadn’t considered my reaction to this information before he said it. That he seems uncomfortable makes me even more uncomfortable.

    “Yeah,” I choke, standing from the stool at the counter. “I’m just . . . I’m going to go to bed,” I tell them, trying to hold myself together. I can feel my anger resurfacing, and I need to get away from them before it boils over.

    “I’ll come up with you,” Landon offers.

    “No, I’m okay, really. I had an early morning, we all did, and it’s getting late,” I assure him, and he nods even though I can tell he isn’t buying it.

    As I reach the stairs I hear him say, “He’s a damn idiot.”

    Yes, Landon. Yes, he is.


I CLOSE THE BALCONY DOORS before walking over to the dresser to change into my pajamas. With my mind racing, I’m finding it difficult to focus on clothing. Nothing appeals as a substitute for Hardin’s worn clothing, and I refuse to wear the white T-shirt resting on the arm of the chair. I need to be able to sleep in my own damn clothes. I give up after rummaging through the drawer and decide to settle for the shorts and sweatshirt that I have on, and lie down on the bed.

    Who is this mystery girl that Hardin’s with? Ironically, I’m more upset about my apartment in Seattle than I am about her. If he wants to jeopardize our relationship by cheating, that’s his choice. Yes, it would tear what’s left of me into pieces, and I don’t think I would ever recover, but I’m not going to focus on it.

    For the life of me I can’t picture it. I can’t picture him actually cheating on me. Despite all of the things he’s done in the past, I just don’t see it. Not after his letter, not after his pleading for my forgiveness. Yes, he’s controlling, too controlling, and he doesn’t know when to stop interfering with my life, but the intentions behind his actions are more about keeping me near him than trying to escape, like cheating would be.

    Even after I’ve spent an hour staring at the ceiling and counting the beams of stained wood lining the sloped surface, the throb of resentment toward Hardin hasn’t let up.

    I don’t know if I’m ready to talk to him just yet, but I know I won’t be able to sleep until I hear him return. The longer he’s gone, the stronger the twist of jealousy grows in my chest. I can’t help but notice the double standard here. If I was out with a guy, Hardin would lose it and probably try to burn down the woods surrounding the place. I want to laugh at the ridiculous thought, but I just don’t have it in me. Instead I close my eyes again, begging sleep to come.