Today is the third day of our #5DaysBefore celebration—5 days of exclusive, never-before-seen content and giveaways as we count down to the release of Before by Anna Todd!
So excited to share an exclusive excerpt from the novel with you!
There are so many mistakes to be made in life, and he made them all. Every ounce of respect he held for her seemed to disappear beneath the confusion of his mind. He loved her and cherished her more than his own breath, but he failed and failed and failed to show it. To remember it when it counted. He toyed with her, played immature games, and didn’t show her his truth. This truth that he had hidden away, locked away tightly and guarded by his upbringing, by the fact that he couldn’t remember the number of times he was hugged and cherished as a child. He wasn’t trying to make excuses, he was only used to doing so. He always blamed everyone else, never took credit for what he did or said. It was easier that way.
But eventually, he learned his lesson.
“Dare.” I roll my eyes at the childish game. Like anyone thought I would choose otherwise.
I stare at Tessa, watching Mother Theresa fumble at the challenge of coming up with a good dare. “I… hmm. I dare you to…” She comes up short. Everyone is waiting, anticipating her question as she plays into our scheme.
“To what?” I push her to hurry along with this shit.
This girl, who doesn’t even know how much trouble she’s in with this pack of jackals… she still sits in silence, looking around the group in a dramatic panic. It’s only a party game, but I can tell she’s an overachiever, even when it comes to something this stupid. It’s entertaining to watch her worry over something so small. She has a habit of chewing on her bottom lip, the same way I play with my ring. Briefly I imagine her with a ring through her lip. She would look so fucking hot.
“Take your shirt off and keep it off the entire game!” Molly says for Tessa.
And Tessa’s cheeks flush. A pattern.
“How juvenile.” I lift my black T-shirt up over my head and catch Tessa’s eyes on my body. She’s staring, hard, so hard that she doesn’t even notice me catching her. Steph nudges her with her elbow, and she looks away, cheeks red and eyes downcast.
I’m officially winning this. Zed has no chance.
The game continues, and I sit here half dressed and watch Tessa try and keep her eyes off of me. I can’t read her—I can’t tell if she’s disgusted by my tattoos or intrigued by them. Her jaw keeps twitching; she’s trying her best to sit still.
“Tessa, truth or dare?” Tristan asks.
I lean back on my palms. “Why even ask? We know she’ll say truth—”
“Dare,” the stubborn girl says, surprising me with the challenge in her voice. It’s a defiant sound, different than I would have thought possible just a few moments ago.
“Hmm… Tessa, I dare you to… take a shot of vodka.” Tristan smiles.
“I don’t drink.” She sticks her chin out in refusal.
I figured as much, but I’m pleased by this revelation. Everyone around this place can’t wait for their next high; it’s refreshing to have someone who doesn’t rely on that.
“That’s the point of the dare,” Tristan counters.
“Look, if you don’t want to do it…” Nate starts to tell her.
“She’s such a pussy,” Molly says into my ear.
Pussy? Because she doesn’t want to drink?
“Fine, one shot,” she says. And like that, Little Miss Oh-I-Don’t-Do-X-Y-or-Z caves easily.
Honestly, I’m a little disappointed. Not sure why, but I thought there was something different about her. I thought she wasn’t like the rest of us, desperate to get the attention of our peers.
I was wrong about her, obviously.
“Same dare,” Zed says to her, and takes a large swig before handing vodka over. I’m annoyed by them drinking from the same bottle; it’s disgusting, really.
As the game goes on, drink after drink, she winces and wipes the burning liquid from her lips. Her eyes are red now, her cheeks matching. She looks lost and off balance, even when sitting down.
She lifts the bottle to her lips again, and I find my hand grasping it, pulling it from her. She doesn’t try to stop me—does she sense that she’s had enough to drink?
Does she see this as her first taste at freedom? Such a sheltered girl, out here in the big bad world of people who drink to numb themselves from whatever issues their shitty parents passed on to them. Maybe hers, like mine, is neglect. Was this girl neglected, too? I move my eyes to the neatly pressed collar of her shirt. Nope, she sure as hell wasn’t neglected. It’s possible that her low self-esteem is just a phase. She wants to break free of her controlling mummy and daddy and show herself that she can be a wild girl, too. She’s fully capable of hanging out with the bad kids and drinking herself sick.
The other possibility is that the lot of us are just that good at dragging people down.
“I think you’ve had enough,” I say, and go to hand the bottle off to Nate. But Tessa quickly grabs it at the last second and takes another drink. The trace of a smirk covers her full lips as she licks them clean. I watch her throat as she swallows in a defiant gulp, and want to push her lips open and drink the liquor from her mouth.
I shake the thought away. Molly glances at me, swirling her finger in the air to say that I’m crazy.
Maybe I am.
“I can’t believe you’ve never been drunk before, Tessa. It’s fun, right?” Zed asks her.
She giggles and I roll my eyes.
“Hardin, truth or dare?” Molly asks.
“Dare.” Did she have to ask? Maybe I should have done what Tessa did, just to prove a point.
“I dare you to kiss Tessa.” Molly’s painted lips turn into a smile, and I hear Tessa gasp.
She speaks before I can get a word in. “No, I have a boyfriend.”
“So? It’s just a dare. Just do it,” Molly says, picking at her nails.
“No.” Tessa’s voice rises. “I’m not kissing anyone.” She stands and walks to the other side of the room. I take a drink of my water and watch her disappear out the front door. She was looking at me all night, staring at my shirtless chest, yet she was so disgusted by the thought of kissing me that she would throw a fit and run away?
Or is it possible that a kiss could mean more to her than just conceding to a dare?
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Book Five of the After series—Anna Todd’s Wattpad fanfiction that racked up 1 billion reads online and captivated romance readers across the globe! Before explores Hardin Scott’s life before Tessa, reveals what happens after After, and gives new insights on their turbulent #Hessa romance.
Cosmopolitan called Anna Todd “the biggest literary phenom of her generation.” That’s Normal declared Hardin and Tessa “The Mr. Darcy and Lizzy Bennet of our time.” Revel in the awesome, messy power of true love.
BEFORE Hardin met Tessa he was a raging storm. DURING those first moments they met, he realized he needed to keep her for himself—his life depended on it. AFTER they got together, the world would never be the same.
Hardin and Tessa’s dramatic love affair became a vortex pulling in everyone around them. For the first time these others are given voice as they appear before, during, and after the events in original After novels. Alongside them, Hardin’s account of his first encounters with Tessa—which will change what you thought you knew about the brooding boy and the angel who loved him.
Series Reading Order
Day 4 Giveaway
Win signed books from Anna’s favorite authors: November 9
by Colleen Hoover and Breaking Him by R.K. Lilley!
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