Chapter Forty

After We Fell

chapter forty




I wanted to hurt her, to make her feel like shit, the way that I felt when I looked up from the table to see her laughing. She was fucking laughing when she should have been sitting across from me vying for my attention. It was like she didn’t give a fuck about me getting close to Lillian. She was too focused on the fucking waiter and whatever the hell he was saying.

    So my mind began sifting through hateful thoughts, trying to pick one that was sure to break her down. Lillian’s statement from this morning popped in, and it warmed my anger, so I said it before I could stop myself. There is a big difference between not being able to live without someone and loving them.

    I almost want to take them back . . . almost. She deserves them, she really does. She shouldn’t have said that she didn’t want me to go to Seattle with her. She said I turned on her; I didn’t turn on her. I’m here for her, on her side. She’s the one trying to leave me every damn chance she gets.

    “I’m leaving,” I announce when I reach the table. Six sets of eyes look up, and Landon rolls his before looking over to the door. “She’s outside,” I tell him sarcastically. He can go out there and put on fucking kid gloves for her—I’m sure as hell not going to.

    “What did you do now?” he has the nerve to ask me in front of everyone.

    I glare at him. “Mind your own fucking business.”

    “Hardin,” my father warns. Not too—everyone is fucking against me, apparently. If my father wants to start shit with me, I fucking dare him.

    “I’ll go, too,” Lillian says, standing.

    “No,” I snap, but she ignores me and follows me as I make my way through the restaurant and out the front door.

    “What the heck happened?” she asks when we get outside.

    Without breaking my stride, I shout over my shoulder, “She was out there with that fucking guy, that’s what happened.”

    “Then what? What did she say when you told her that I’m not a threat?” She stumbles slightly in her high heels, but I don’t stop to help her as I try to decide where the hell I’m actually going. I knew I should have fucking driven my own car here, but no, Tessa had to get her way. Big surprise

    “I didn’t tell her.”

    “Why not? Do you know what she’s probably thinking right now?”

    “I don’t give a shit what she thinks. I hope she’s thinking that I’m going to fuck you.”

    She stops walking. “Why? If you love her, why would you want her to think that?”

    Oh, lovely, now Lillian is turning on me, too. I turn to face her. “Because she needs to learn that—”

    She holds up one hand. “Stop. Just stop there, because she doesn’t need to ‘learn’ anything. It seems to me that you’re the one who needs to be learning something—what did you say to the poor girl?”

    “I said what you said to me this morning about there being a difference between not being able to live without someone and loving them,” I tell her.

    She shakes her head in confusion. “You said that to her, as in you can’t live without her but don’t love her?”

    “Yes—did I not just tell you that?” Tessa Number Two needs to just go away, because she’s getting on my last fucking nerve just like Tessa the Original.

    “Wow,” she says, and laughs.

    She’s laughing at me, too? “What? What’s so funny?” I nearly yell.

    “You are so she mocks me. “When I said that to you this morning, I wasn’t referring to you, I was talking about her. I meant that just because you think she can’t live without you doesn’t mean that she’s in love with you.”


    “You assume that you have her so wrapped around your finger that she won’t leave you because she can’t live without you, when in reality it seems like you have her trapped and that’s why she won’t leave you: not because she loves you, but because you’ve made her feel that she can’t be without you.”

    “No . . . she loves me.” I know she does, and that’s why she’ll be following me out here any moment now.

    Lillian throws her arms wide. she? Why would she, when you do things to hurt her on purpose?”

    I’ve had enough of this shit. “You’re in no position to be giving anyone a goddamned lecture.” I throw my hands in the air as wildly as she just did. “Your girlfriend is probably fucking someone else right now while you’re here trying to play couples therapist between Tessa and me,” I growl.

    Lillian’s eyes widen, and she takes a step back from me . . . the way Tessa did only minutes ago. Her blue eyes begin to water, shining in the darkness. She shakes her head and starts to walk back toward the restaurant parking lot.

    “Where are you going?” I call to her through the wind.

    “Back inside. Tessa may be stupid enough to put up with your crap, but I’m not.”

    For a moment I almost follow this girl who I thought was my . . . I don’t know, but I felt like I could trust her despite only knowing her for two days.

    Fuck that: I’m not following anyone. Tessa or Tessa Number Two. They can both go to hell—I don’t need either of them.