Previously in After 2,
"I still can't believe you are doing this." She says as Drew spreads the ointment over the new tattoo.
"It's already done." I remind her and she looks worried as she stares at her phone screen.
I don't know how to feel about the worried expression on her face because she's the one always talking about marriage and shit so why the hell does she look so on edge? It was probably Zed coming here, that fucking asshole. I know he saw my car in the god damn lot and he still came in here, obviously looking to start something.
I hope Tess doesn't make too big of a deal out of this tattoo, it's not that serious. I have a shit load of tattoos, this one is for her and she should be happy about it. I know I am.
"Where the fuck are Steph and Tristan?" I look out the windows of the shop in an attempt to spot Steph's bright ass hair.
"We can go next door and find them?" Tessa suggests after I pay Drew and promise to come back and let him give me an entire back piece.
I nearly knock his teeth out when he suggests giving Tessa a sleeve or belly piercing.
"I think I would look cool with my nose pierced." She smiles as we walk outside.
I laugh at the thought and bring my arm around her waist as a bearded man stumbles past us. His jeans and shoes are dirty, and his thick sweatshirt is stained with liquid. From the smell of it, I assume vodka.
Tessa stops next to me and the man does the same. I gently pull her behind me. If this homeless drunk thinks he is coming any fucking closer to her I will fucking...
"Dad?" She says so low that it comes out as a whisper and I watch in confusion as all the color drains from her face.
"Dad?" This man in front of me couldn't possibly be my father, regardless of the familiar brown eyes staring back at me.
"Tessie?" His voice is thicker than I recall from my distant memories.
Hardin turns to me, eyes blazing and then back to my father.
Here, in this bad neighborhood with filthy clothes on his back.
"Tessie? Is that really you?" He asks.
I'm frozen, I have no words for this drunken man wearing my father's face.
"Tessa.." Hardin attempts to pull a reaction from me.
I take a step toward the man and he smiles. His brown beard is peppered with gray, his smile isn't white and clean like I remember, how did he end up this way? All of the hope I once held that my father would have changed his life around the way Ken did has vanished and the realization of this hurts worse than it should.
"It's me." Someone says, it takes a moment to realize the words came from me.
"I can't believe it! Here you are! I've been trying to find you for months!" He closes the space between us and wraps his arms around me.
Hardin reluctantly lets go of my hand so I can hug the stranger.
"I've been here." I say quietly.
"Is that Noah? He sure has changed a lot." He turns to Hardin.
"No, that's Hardin." I tell him.
The liquor on his breath must be the reason for him to confuse the two, they are polar opposites and would never be compared to one another.