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|“||The whole world is a collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her. Whatever our souls are made of, hers and mine are the same.||”|
— Hardin about Tessa
A brooding, mysterious, tattooed rebel with a difficult past, Hardin's guarded world, and persona, cracks when he meets freshman Tessa Young. This sets off a series of events that could better him and his life - but only if he accepts it.
He soon embarks on a great yet complicated love story with Tessa that is filled with firsts, only to ultimately betray her trust and leave them both heartbroken. His desire to change for the woman he loves is met with resistance when his past constantly threatens to destroy the progress he makes.
Hardin was born to Ken Scott and Trish Daniels in London, England. He had a rough childhood due to his negligent, abusive, and alcoholic father. His father spent his nights at the bar while he and his mother worked long hours to provide for their family.
When Hardin was around eight years old, three men broke into their London home searching for his father, Ken, who hadn't come home that night. Hardin heard the noise and brought his flashlight down to investigate, but found his mother restrained on the couch by two of the men. Her son heard the noise and came down to investigate. Trish freed herself and screamed at him to run away, but the boy froze in fear. He started to back away when a third man appeared behind him and forced him to stay in place. Hardin witnessed his mother being assaulted that night. Trish hoped that he would forget about the whole thing, but then he began to have vivid nightmares of the traumatic event. She took him to therapists and tried to get him the help he needed, but to no avail.
Witnessing the traumatic incident shaped his view of the world, his mental progression, and eventually led to recurring nightmares that would continue into his adult years. After his parents separation, Hardin and Trish went to live with her friend Christian Vance, and stayed with him for a few years. They eventually moved into a different house and out of Vance's house. Hardin's life after the incident was filled with alcohol and self-medicating paired with partying.
He was sent to America for University and attends Washington Central University, where his father is the chancellor. He soon fell into a bad crowd and became a fraternity member to avoid his father. Hardin had a friends-with-benefits relationship with fellow WCU-student, Molly Samuels. He and his group of friends took pleasure in toying with people and finding new ways to entertain themselves, including a dangerous version of "truth or dare".
Hardin Scott is an arrogant college student at Washington Central University with a chip on his shoulder that rivals the state of Washington. He is friends with Steph Jones and visits her dorm. He reads Steph's roommates copy of The Great Gatsby while he waits, but his reading is interrupted when Tessa Young returns to the dorm from her shower. She is surprised to see the boy in her dorm, especially since she's covered by just a towel. She informs him that he's in the wrong room, but he casually dismisses the claim. She asks how he got in and he nonchalantly holds up a pair of keys, his eyes never breaking from the book. She asks him to leave so that she can get dressed, but he tells her not to flatter herself - he's not looking at her. When Steph arrives she tells Tessa that the boy isn't her boyfriend but is a friend, but hopes that he didn't make her uncomfortable. The boy iterates that he's been minding his business. Steph quickly invites Tessa out to the party that night but she declines her offer despite the boy's sarcastic comments about her not being the party type. The pair begins to leave when Hardin hands back the book he borrowed, mysteriously telling her that he hates to ruin the ending but it was all a dream. She corrects him saying that it was actually all a lie. He smirks as he leaves.
Hardin, Molly, and Zed visit a coffee shop the next day where Hardin flirts with the barista. As the group is leaving, Molly drapes her arm around Hardin, who notices Tessa sitting at a table by herself. They exchange a longing look as he leaves.
Hardin attends a party at the WCU frat house where he lays on the couch with Molly, and she toys with his hair. He is mildly surprised when Tessa joins the group with Steph, but ignores the duo's greetings as he kisses Molly. The group decides to play truth or dare, with Jace daring Tessa to make out with Hardin. He glances at Molly and she gives him a nod as if to tell him that it's okay. He approaches Tessa, asking if she wants to do this, only to be surprised when she rejects the advances. Molly records the dare and found humor in Tessa rejecting Hardin's advances, mockingly telling Hardin that he got his first rejection.
Hardin returns to his room only to find Tessa waiting there looking at his books. He asks what she's doing in his room, causing her to be surprised that this is his room. He takes the book from her, their hands touching for a moment as he removes the book. He looks at the title, quoting a line from the novel, "he's more myself then I am". He stands close to her and softly mentions that she owes him a dare. They nearly kiss but she pulls away before anything can happen and hurries out of the room. He watches her leave from the roof outside his dorm window.
The next morning, Hardin attends English class and enters a bantering match with Tessa over their differing views on Pride and Prejudice. They clash intensely and are stopped by Professor Soto who is pleased with their passion. Once the class is dismissed, Tessa vents to Landon over her frustration regarding the Brit, even mocking his accent. Landon tries to keep the peace but warns her about Hardin's games. The next morning, Hardin visits her at the coffee shop but she thinks that it would be best if they kept their distance. He wants to take her to a special place but she is uninterested. He persists and she concedes to his persuasion. He takes her to a lake tucked in the woods, explaining that this is his "secret place".
Tessa is hesitant to enter the water without a bathing suit, so he lets her wear his T-shirt, though she makes him turn around in the water so she can change. He helps her into the lake and they proceed to have fun before having a meaningful conversation about life and what they enjoy. She asks him who he loves most in the world. He quickly responds himself earning an eye roll from Tessa. They flirt and exchange longing looks before kissing in the water. They share a sensual encounter on land but stop before things progress. The pair go to a diner where they order casual food and continue to get to know one another.
They get along fairly well with her stealing his fries despite having plenty of her own, something that makes Hardin laugh. She is persistent in an attempt to get to know him, despite his resistance. They are interrupted by Molly and Zed. Molly comes onto Hardin and toys with him despite his annoyance. He gives the car keys to Tessa and asks her to wait in the car. She is aggravated but leaves to stand by the counter so the trio can talk. She watches Hardin's heated conversation with the pair before he joins her. He acts cool towards her and informs her that while the day was fun, he doesn't date. She is disgusted by this and shoves the keys at him before leaving the diner.
The next night, Hardin attends a bonfire on the outskirts of campus where his friends are also present. The group begins to play another game, this time passing a card back and forth using only their lips. When it's Tessa's turn she attempts to get the card from Jace, who purposefully blows it in her face. He attempts to come onto her but Noah tells him to stop, sensing Tessa's discomfort. He still persists with Tessa pushing him away with her hand. Before another second passes, Hardin leaps across the circle and punches Jace. They wrestle around on the ground exchanging blows before the two men are pulled off each other by the others. Tessa stares at him in shock and their eyes meet as Zed attempts to calm him down. Hardin angrily storms off.
Tessa travels to Landon and Hardin's home per Landon's request but is surprised to learn that Landon is Hardin's soon to be stepbrother. She is also disheartened by the mess in the kitchen of broken plates, glasses, and vases courtesy of an angered Hardin. Landon apologizes for asking her to come as he thought she might be able to calm him down since she was the reason he was so upset. She goes outside to the pool where Hardin is sitting with a bottle of liquor. Tessa sharply retorts that she thought he didn't drink, to which he tells her it's a special occasion - his father is getting married. He even drops his glass nonchalantly to prove his point of being upset. She is annoyed by his behavior and tries to clean up the glass despite his insistence to leave it be. She cuts her finger on the glass so he takes her inside and helps her clean the minor cut. He apologizes for his actions earlier, admitting that he's a mess. She returns the sentiment and they share a second kiss followed by another sexual encounter before they fell asleep together. Tessa awakened the next morning and hurried back to the dorms where Noah confronted her about where she had to go in the middle of the night. Hardin appears behind her and Noah pieces together what happened, and leaves despite Tessa's pleas for him to stay. This was the catalyst for Tessa's breakup with Noah and led to a fallout between her and Hardin, who is persistent yet confused at her distance from him as he doesn't understand why she's ignoring him.
She eventually caves and visits the fraternity house where Hardin lives, much to his surprise. She admits to him that once her father left Noah was there for her and they grew close. He's her best friend. But she feels different being with Hardin then she did with Noah. The pair kiss and begin a committed relationship full of cute moments, secret readings in the library where they flee the security guard, and surprise kisses in class. Their relationship is observed from afar by Molly and Zed, who seem uncharacteristically interested in their relationship.
As they are studying in her dorm she notices Hardin watching her and writing in his journal. She asks what he's always writing but his coy response entices her to playfully grab at the journal before they start to kiss. They are interrupted by a surprise visit from Carol, Tessa's mother, who is disgusted by the sight. She demands that Tessa end things with Hardin so she can refocus on her studies, but Tessa refuses. Carol takes a moment before threatening to cut Tessa off financially if she doesn't end things with Hardin. She still refuses and Carol angrily leaves.
Tessa spends the day with Landon, who warns her that Hardin can be dangerous so she should take things slow. But she insists that he's different around Landon's despite his warnings that Hardin is always up to something. He agrees to let her make her own choices. From there, Tessa met with Hardin who took her to an apartment as a surprise. He initially claimed the apartment belonged to a friend of his father's, but later admitted that he wants them to live there together. Tessa is reluctant at first but accepts his offer. This sets off the beginning of their seemingly perfect dating life, filled with picnics, laughter, kisses, and a trip to the aquarium where she claims nothing can ever change the way she feels about him. Their public displays of affection make Hardin's friends, specifically Molly and Zed, suspicious as they follow the couple around.
Hardin invites Tessa to his father's engagement party which she happily attends. They are greeted by Landon who is polite and excited about being Hardin's stepbrother. Hardin is still standoffish against him. During the reception near the pool, Hardin opens up to her about his traumatic childhood, and the incident he witnessed happen to his mother. They shared a dance and had a good night despite the tension between Hardin and his father, Ken Scott. When they returned home they consummated their relationship. Their happiness continues as they share a bath with her trying to guess the words that he traces on her back. She fails miserably at the game but insists on another chance. This time, Hardin traces the words I love you on her back, but she still fails. He doesn't tell her what he traced and instead, kisses her.
One night, Tessa is attempting to read when Hardin's phone continues to chime with messages from someone. She picks it up to turn the chime off when she discovers a slew of messages from Molly wanting to meet with him and talking about something going on. This sparks Tessa's jealousy and concern so she confronts Hardin about the messages. He brushes her off and begins to leave when she stops him, asking him to explain. He pauses then asks if she trusts him, which she responds that she does, so he doesn't see the problem. He leaves abruptly after leaving her confused and annoyed.
Through Jace, Tessa is able to find Hardin at a diner with his friends, Molly, Zed, and Steph. Molly noticed Tessa enter the diner and toys with her. Tessa refuses to be baited into Molly's games, just as Hardin arrives at the table. Tessa demands that Hardin explain what is going on between him and Molly, to which the latter retorted that something is going on, but it's not what Tessa thinks. Hardin sharply tells Molly to shut up but she ignores him and asks if Tessa remembers truth or dare. Zed tries to silence Molly who glares at him. She shows Tessa footage of Hardin making a bet from the night of the truth and dare game. After she rejected Hardin, he sensed his friends mocking manners and made a bet that he could make Tessa fall in with him. He would then turn off his charm and loving demeanor to break her heart. Tessa turned to an emotional Hardin and asked if it was true and his silence was the confirmation she needed. She looks to Steph, Zed, and Molly, realizing that they all knew and didn't tell her. Steph refuses to meet Tessa's eye. Hardin tries to speak to her but she doesn't listen and runs out of the diner.
He follows her outside begging her to listen as he can explain everything. She realizes their entire relationship was a lie. Hardin tries to protest but Tessa asks if it was all a game. He begins to tell her that the game was all before, but she cuts him off saying it was before he snapped his fingers and turned it all off. She thought that he cared and that their relationship meant something, but he's just a liar. He takes a moment before bringing up what she said at the aquarium about nothing changing the way she feels about him. She swallows hard before stating that they're both liars and leaves him standing alone. He watches her hurry away and runs his hands through his drenched hair in despair.
In the days they spend apart, Hardin mulls things over in his dorm room, blasting music and emotionally recounting the days he spent with Tessa. He picks up Wuthering Heights and remembers their moment in his dorm all those weeks ago. His friends message him asking for forgiveness and to hang out, which he ignores. He stays holed up in his dorm until it is time for him to turn in an English paper essay. As Tessa and Landon prepare to leave the classroom, Soto calls Tessa aside. She explains that Hardin turned in his final essay, but she thinks it was meant for Tessa and not her. She gives her the envelope which Tessa thanks her for and leaves.
Tessa and Landon sit on the campus lawn now that class is dismissed. She opens the packet and notices a photograph of a lake and a portrait of her. He asks what the lake is supposed to mean, but she merely responds that it's a special place. She reads the letter that surprisingly filled with Hardin professing his feelings for her. He explains that she once asked him who he loves most in the world, and now he knows that it's her. Hardin sits at the end of the dock at the lake when Tessa arrives and sits next to him. She looks over at him and he returns her gaze.
Tessa sets her head on his shoulder and they sigh, before she fades away and Hardin jolts awake having dreamt that she came to see him at the lake. He is in his car, alone, surrounded by empty food containers and alcohol bottles. He checks his phone and is disheartened to see that his messages to Tessa asking her to talk are still unread. When he exits his car he is approached by a homeless man who is looking for someone, but Hardin abruptly tells the man to "piss off" so the man walks away, leaving Hardin alone once more.
The next day, he goes to a worn down tattoo parlor and bangs on the gated door. The woman shouts that they are closed but he is persistent. She opens the door and upon seeing Hardin refuses to serve him. He silently bribes her with a roll of cash and she lets him into the building. He takes a seat in the tattoo chair, rolling up his sleeve in preparation. The woman offers him a bottle of alcohol but he turns it away even though she reminds him it helps with the pain. He responds rather desolating, saying he likes the pain. She calls him a masochist as she sits down to begin the tattoo.
He returns to the apartment he once shared with Tessa. Once out of the shower, he peels off the bandage around his tattoo which is red, swollen, and spotted with blisters. He seems unbothered by the appearance as he tries to examine the job the woman did. His phone begins to buzz and he is annoyed to see that Steph is persistent in her desire to have him come to the frat house for a party. He eventually gives in and attends the party. He is greeted by Zed, who after some banter, offers him a shot of liquor that Hardin takes without hesitation. Steph looks up from taking body shots off Tristan to ask Hardin if he missed her, and he gives her a pensive look in response.
Hardin is sitting in the living room of the frat house when Molly walks up behind him and covers his eyes, coyly asking him to guess who she is. She instantly gives him vulgar clues to her identity so Hardin sarcastically responds by calling her Mother Theresa. She is repulsed and shows herself, flaunting off her body to a very unamused Hardin. She sits on his lap asking if he's still not over what she did last month. She asks what it will take for him to forgive her, as she knows she's been "really bad". He sharply retorts that she was worse than bad. She reminds him that he used to like it when she was bad and goes to kiss him when he cuts her off, telling her to get the fuck off him. He pushes her off his lap and she rolls off a stool and lands on the ground.
Molly angrily asks what the fuck is wrong with him, but he ignores her, opting to walk away from the angry woman. She is hurt by his rejection and asks if he's still hung up on Tessa, but he angrily tells Molly not to talk about Tessa. Molly compares his behavior to that of a lost puppy, a statement that makes his face turn cold. She presses that it's all because of a girl who "doesn't even want him". Hardin angrily leaves the house as she continues to hurl insults in his direction.
As he's leaving his phone begins to buzz and he answers immediately after seeing that it's Tessa. She gloats that she looks hot and he's not here to see it. He asks how much she's had to drink, to which she responds, eventually, with five "sexes on the beach", giggling that the activity associated with the name could have been fun. He asks where is she is and is exasperated when she continues to goad him by saying "somewhere you're not". He reminds her that he can find her as he has the location of her phone. He asks who she's with but she doesn't answer, instead proclaiming that she's not wearing any underwear which thrills her. Now dumbstruck over her behavior he exclaims that he texted her a hundred times but she never replied. She claims she has to go, but it was nice talking to him, before hanging up on him.
Within a few hours, Hardin arrives at the hotel in Seattle that Tessa is staying in. He ascends the staircase and finds her room quickly. He begins pounding on the door to get her attention, only stopping for a moment to shout her name, before returning to the incessant pounding. Tessa yanks open the door, angrily asking if he's trying to get her kicked out of the hotel. He pushes through despite her anger, and notices a pair of men's glasses on the table. Angered, he kicks down the bathroom door to find Trevor Matthews in only his boxers, clutching his wet clothing. She holds Hardin back despite his protests that she just wants to talk to Trevor, who hurries out of the hotel room, trying to explain that it was all a misunderstanding. Hardin angrily tells Trevor to fuck off and slams the door shut. Tessa angrily calls him a dick before asking what he's even doing here.
He claims that he's not the dick as he isn't the one trying to take advantage of drunk girls. She rebuttals that not everyone is trying to sleep with her, and that he can't tell her who she can or can't have sex with because they aren't together anymore. He asks if she was going to sleep with Trevor, which angers her, but he points out that she's avoiding the question. A moment passes as he looks down solemnly. She begins to change her physical demeanor into that of a condescending one, and taunts him with the idea of sleeping with someone else. He's surprised by her behavior. She comes onto him but he is reluctant to do anything because she's drunk, even though she claims to have missed him. He eventually concedes and they sleep together.
The next morning, Hardin wakes up in bed with Tessa. He fell asleep on her lower back, and rolls over to lay on her back, his fingers touching her shoulder blade. She wakes up a little confused but then hears her phone ringing. She rolls over top him to answer her phone in the other room. She frantically tries to find her clothes while Hardin yells twice for her to come back to bed. She is trying to find the rest of her things when he emerges to see what's wrong with her as she's clearly angry. He rebuttals that she called him, but she reminds him that she didn't tell him to come over.
He can tell that she isn't entirely okay with what happened last night to which she agrees, but she declines his offer to talk about it as he hurt her and she can't forgive him. He asks if last night meant nothing to her even though she clearly missed him. She justifies her actions as her being drunk and accidentally mentions the guy she kissed in the club. This upsets Hardin who wants to know who she kissed. She pretends that she didn't kiss anyone. She quickly leaves the room with him following her, naked, into the hall.
She yells at him to put some clothes on so he grabs a tablecloth, wrapping that around his waist. He demands to know who she kissed and if it was Trevor, but she shouts that it wasn't. He's upset as "his" Tessa would never kiss a stranger. She angrily yells that she isn't "his Tessa" anymore. Now hurt by her words, he lies that while she was kissing that guy he was sleeping with Molly. This angers Tessa even more, who begins to stalk off when she grabs a roll of bread off a cart and hurls it at him. She storms off and he angrily curses once she is gone.
Hardin drives to his father's residence where he waits outside on the hood of his car for Landon to return from his run. Landon is confused to see Hardin who wants to talk with him as he needs advice - he's that desperate. Landon scoffs at the insults sarcastically responding that he thought Hardin was an imposter for a second there. Hardin tries to reason with Landon and calls him "bro", a term that Landon shuts down quickly. He reminds Hardin that he is the one who made it very clear that they aren't brothers. Landon presses that what Hardin did to Tessa is unforgivable. Hardin knows this and that he messed up, which is why he went to see her last night, but then he found out she kissed some guy, so he said that he slept with Molly even though he didn't. Landon is dumbfounded by what Hardin is saying, so he angrily tells him to forget it and goes back to his car. Landon asks Hardin if he really loves Tessa - no bullshit. Hardin doesn't even hesitate in his response - of course, he loves her, he's never felt this way about anyone before. Landon asks where he's going so Hardin tells him London - he was going to take Tessa with him but that isn't going to happen. He gets in his car and speeds off.
The next day, Hardin returns to the apartment with his mother, unaware that Tessa is home. He asks if she wants him to run her a bath but she declines, but brings up that they used to bathe together. Tessa shows herself in the doorframe, only to be shocked to see Hardin with his mother. Trish and Hardin are equally as surprised to see Tessa. Trish explains that she thought Tessa would be out of town and they wouldn't get to meet each other. Tessa instantly smiles at the woman trying to be nice as they hug. Trish can't believe how pretty Tessa is, even though Hardin told her Tessa was the prettiest girl in the world. Hardin objects to this, clearly embarrassed but Trish brushes it off. She gushes over Tessa which embarrasses Hardin but Trish brushes it off, saying that she and Tessa are going to be the best of friends. She then excuses herself to use the bathroom.
With Trish out of ear shot, Tessa hurries to Hardin asking what he's doing here as he's supposed to be in London. He explains that he didn't want to go without her so his mother just came here. She asks why he didn't tell Trish they broke up, to which he explains that Trish was so excited when he told her that he couldn't ruin it for her. He couldn't tell her about the bet but doesn't expect Tessa to pretend they're still together. This takes Tessa by surprise and she's quiet for a moment before agreeing to play along, which elates him. He thanks her but she thanks him in return for the Kindle. He loudly curses then wishes her a happy birthday. Trish, who has returned, is excited at the prospect of celebrating with Tessa and begs her to stay another night instead of going out of town to see her mom. Tessa is reluctant at first, but Trish presses that they don't know when they'll see each other again. She then agrees reluctantly and Trish hugs her again, promising to make her a homemade birthday cake.
They spend the rest of the night looking at baby pictures of Hardin while he is busy writing. One of the photos includes one where his butt is exposed. Tessa teases Hardin that it is a cute bum, much to his horror. He begins to collect their dishes, as he's going to clean-up and then set himself on fire. He leaves the room and the women ignore his snide remark. As he's doing the dishes, he hears Tessa say, "Hardin never told me that" and asks what he didn't tell her about. Trish brushes it off as girl talk so he lets it go. When the night dwindles to an end, Hardin covers his sleeping mother with a blanket before joining Tessa in the bedroom to discuss their sleeping arrangements.
They awkwardly agree to sleep in the same bed so he doesn't have to sleep on the floor. She believes they can share a bed without anything sexual happening, though he's skeptical. Once in bed, they say goodnight though Tessa rolls over to tell him that she's leaving early in the morning to head out of town. He rolls over to look at her, thanking her for staying that night. She thanks him for having her and he tucks a hair behind her ear, but instantly apologizes. She tells him it's fine and the tuck leads to a shoulder rub which feels nice for her. They talk about her birthday, him asking if she had a good day, to which she tells him she did. She thanks him again for the gift. He's glad she likes it. She tells him that she got a new car, a white one. He wishes her a happy birthday with her saying goodnight before kissing him, and they exchange kisses and goodnights.
The next morning, Hardin helps Tessa prepare to leave. He stands in the doorway as she says goodbye to Trish. Trish tells Tessa that she is pleased to see Hardin so happy with her. The women look over at Hardin who is confused as to why they are looking at him. Things don't go well for Tessa at her mother's, so returns to the apartment where she shares a long hug with Hardin outside the building.
Later that night as they are asleep, Hardin has a nightmare about the night he saw his mother's assault during a home invasion. He remembers hearing the rustling downstairs and finding his mother on the couch being restrained by two men, and Trish begging him to run away. As he backs away he is stopped by a third man. Hardin wakes up screaming and frantically grasping the blankets. Tessa soothes him and assures him that it was just a dream as he struggles to calm himself. He is able to calm down with her there.
In the morning, Trish greets Tessa with a cup of tea and asks if Hardin is okay. They discuss Hardin's nightmares and the therapists they tried before he started self-medicating. Trish reveals that he told her the nightmares went away when he started seeing Tessa. They talk about why Carol hates Hardin, with Tessa skimming on the details. Hardin awakens and asks what they are, "gabbing on about". Trish tells him to brush his teeth, something he used to give her a hard time about, but he insists that of course he will. She hands him a cup of tea.
Tessa smiles saying that she loves his mom. He then gives her a belated birthday card which takes her by surprise as he already got her something. He knows but since she denied him the pleasure of seeing her open the said gift, so he's giving her another. Inside the card are the words, Tessa's perfect day. Love, H. It means that whatever she wants to do or go he will oblige with no snide remarks or tantrums. He counts down the time until her days starts, which is three seconds, then kisses her when the time up to commemorate its start.
They day begins with ice skating, which Hardin isn't particularly good at due to being a novice, and he falls on the ice twice but refuses to use a walker. He doesn't want to stop as this her day, but she has a better idea so they move onto yoga. He complains a little about the heat, remarking that the poses aren't what is melting away his tension but the heat. She reminds him that it's hot yoga and shushes him. He compliments her butt during a position, earning another shush. They quickly realize that they aren't in beginners yoga but instead, acrobatic yoga. They sit out some positions but partake in another where he uses the time to tickle her ribs and break her concentration.
They eventually leave when they realize the heat is getting to them - in more ways than one. They return to the empty apartment where they share a shower whilst giggling, kissing, and accidentally breaking a shower gel cap. Hardin tosses the whole bottle to the side when he realizes he broke it. They have sex but Tessa's phone rings in the midst of the shower and she realizes it's Kimberly and has to take it, which baffles Hardin. Especially when she asks Kim if they can help her with babysitting Smith instead of returning to the shower.
Hardin and Tessa go to Vance Publishing where they will be watching Smith. Kim is surprised that Hardin is doing this, asking if he's really Hardin Scott. He gives her a fake smile and says he's happy to do it. Tessa explains that it's part of her birthday present but will explain later. Kim thanks the couple for helping and leaves. Tessa kneels in front of the child and asks if he wants markers to draw with. Smith dryly responds that he doesn't like to draw. She offers food but he isn't hungry. She looks over at Hardin who is unamused by the scene and offers nothing helpful. Tessa then asks what he would like to do, and they set up his train set in the lobby. Tessa has to work for a while so Hardin watches over Smith.
Hardin lowers his book to ask Smith to tell him about his trains, but Smith stays quiet. Hardin feigns that he didn't want to hear about them anyway and returns to reading. Smith bluntly asks what all the marks on his arms, with Hardin smirking and explaining they're his tattoos. Smith asks why he has them, to which Hardin smiles slightly and states that it's because he likes them. Smith wonders if he worries what other people think about them, but Hardin sharply says that he doesn't give a fuck what other people think. Picking up on the language, Smith asks which people Hardin "doesn't give a fuck about", to which Hardin curses again telling him not to say fuck. Smith robotically begins repeating the two curse words Hardin said as if it were a mantra, "shit, fuck".
Tessa appears and Hardin lies that Smith is hungry now and that she should get him food, playing it off as a playful yet sweet moment to cover for the boy who is still robotically repeating the words. When Tessa is out of earshot, Hardin quickly rejoins Smith. Kimberly comes to pick up Smith later that night, and they are in the elevator when Hardin hands her a crate with the rest of Smith's toys. She tells Hardin that Tessa is good for him, and he smiles asking if it's that obvious. Hardin then kneels in front of Smith, offering a fist bump as he states, "see ya, mate". The boy repeats the sentiment and Hardin smiles at Smith as the elevator doors close.
Hardin ventures into Tessa's office when Kim is gone. She is ready to leave so he hands a box wishing her a happy Christmas. She is surprised since Christmas isn't for a few more days, but he insists that he couldn't wait to give it to her. He stands by the window as she opens the box, taken aback by the bracelet. The book is engraved with the quote, "whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same". She is emotional over the gift and he mistakes this for her not liking it, but she assures him that she loves it. She just wasn't expecting to see him over the holidays so she didn't get him anything.
She sits on the desk and asks if there is anything he wants, to which he quickly responds with "another chance". She wants him to act like this everyday which he can't promise, but he promises to try his best. They kiss and Hardin begins to seduce her but she is reluctant since someone could walk in at any moment. He shouts out if anyone is there or can hear him, to which she merely sighs as he has an answer for everything. They continue to kiss and, eventually, have sex. Hardin then tells Tessa that she is the only one for him and that he loves her, to which she returns to the sentiment. He asks her not to say the word "too" since it sounds like she's agreeing with him. She smiles and repeats the line without the "too", and they continue to kiss and have sex.
The next day, Ken invites Trish, Tessa, and Hardin to a Christmas party at his house. Trish is astonished to see the size of Ken's house despite Hardin having told her it was massive. She curses over it and Hardin tells her they can still leave and just hang out at the apartment, but she refuses as she already made a commitment to come. She then knocks on the door. They are greeted by the warm smile of Karen, Ken's wife, and the women hug. A moment passes before Trish sees Ken across the entry way and the exchange a long look. She then crosses the threshold to give him a hug while Hardin moodily watches from the doorway.
Hardin's discomfort is evident as he wanders around the party aimlessly. He overhears Ken socializing with Landon and bragging about the boy's schooling which further isolates Hardin. He wanders into the dining room and examines the silverware before seeing an entire table covered with images of Ken with Landon and Karen. He picks up a bottle of alcohol and debates drinking it before taking a swig. He storms out of the room and goes outside. He doesn't notice that on the way out is another table with a singular photo of Hardin as a child. He walks the grounds drinking out of the bottle.
After a while, Hardin rejoins the group after disappearing for a while, though his excuse to Tessa is that he went for a walk which she doesn't completely believe. Ken talks to Trish, Karen, Landon, Tessa, Hardin, and some others who have gathered together near a doorway about his skiing adventures and the time he spent traveling. Hardin snaps asking what the fuck is wrong with Ken. This takes the man by surprise and Hardin insults his choice in plaid pants, before pressing that Ken is just droning on with no regard for the lives he's ruined. Ken is hurt by the statement and emotional as he asks Hardin if they can speak in private, away from the eyes that are now on the argument.
They move to a different room a few feet away. Ken acknowledges that Hardin is very upset with him and tells him to just say what is on his mind. Hardin asks why he even invited them here, to which Ken replies that it's because they're his family. Hardin disagrees saying that they were his family but he ran out and reinvented himself. Ken is confused as he thought they were past all this, but Hardin angrily asks how they're supposed to get past it when Ken hasn't owned up to anything. He brings up Ken's twelve step program - making amends. He asks where mom's amends are, calling to her to ask if she got her amends. Ken tries to quiet Hardin down by asking if Hardin doesn't think he's consumed by guilt. But he knew after that night that he had to leave. Hardin shouts that after that night Ken had to stay and that night happened because of him. Ken agrees loudly and that he's been haunted by it for the past ten years. Hardin is taken back and then, in disbelief, shots that Ken is haunted by it. Overcome with emotion, he shouts that he watched it happen, calling him a bastard as he punches Ken in the face. Ken staggers back and Trish catches him then disappears into the crowd.
Hardin follows her outside where he tries to get her stop. He apologizes for the incident but felt as though he had to do it. Trish scoffs as she unloads her bags from his car. He tells her not to get an Uber as he'll drive her to the airport. She scoffs that it won't happen after the shit he just pulled, plus he's drunk. Hardin claims that can't just move on and forget about everything that Ken did like she can. She stops and tells him that she hasn't forgotten anything, she chooses to forgive Ken for her own happiness. She warns him that resentments like this are going to ruin him and taking Tessa right down with him. He watches his mom get in her Uber and leans against his car solemnly. Tessa, who witnessed the fight, takes his car keys out of his pocket and walks back into the party.
When they return to the apartment, Tessa leaves for a while to go for a walk. With her gone, he tries to turn on a lamp and is enraged when it doesn't turn on and throws it against the brick wall. He storms into the kitchen and rummages through a cabinet until he finds a bottle of liquor, which he takes two large drinks from. He sits in a chair with his music blaring, nodding to the beat as he does. The sound is so loud that he doesn't hear Tessa come in and her calling him. He passes out in the chair but wakes up to the sound of Tessa leaving for work in the morning. Hardin calls Ken to apologize for the Christmas party. When Tessa returns home he is installing a new lamp, and tells her that this one is better anyway.
On New Years Eve, the couple stays in at their apartment as they curl up on the couch. Tessa puts down her Kindle, asking a writing Hardin if he's ever going to show her what he's writing in there, to which he responds that he might tell her one day. They return to their separate endeavors though his phone vibrating catches her attention. She asks if he's going to see who it is, but he already knows that it's Steph inviting him to the New Years Eve party. He doesn't want to leave her alone, and didn't think she would want to go after what happened, so he isn't going. She offers to go with him since she isn't scared of them anymore. She tells him that if it blows up in their faces they can stay in next year. He leans over and kisses her as he liked the way she said next year.
They head to the frat house where they are greeted by Steph, who hugs Tessa in the hopes they can leave the past behind them. Ally asks Tessa if she wants to take her place in the next round of beer pong against Steph and Tristan. Tessa is reluctant to leave Hardin but he assures her that it's fine and he'll watch her - he likes to watch. She smiles at this before joining Zed at the table. Hardin watches for a few rounds before spotting a girl across the room and leaving to speak with her.
Hardin catches up to her near the steps and removes her mask, remarking that he thought he recognized her but wasn't sure. She greets him with a smile and he asks if they can talk upstairs - somewhere alone. She agrees and follows his lead upstairs. They emerge together a few hours later, with Hardin thanking for doing that and she is grateful for it. The pair go their separate ways. He quickly finds Tessa who has danced to the stairs, and they decide to leave. They are intercepted by Molly on their way out, and her snide remarks upset Hardin who tells her to go away but she ignores him. Molly's remarks are enough to prompt Tessa to stay for one more drink against Hardin's better judgment.
Tessa marches to the living room where she is joined by Hardin, and she sits on his lap. She squares off against Molly, confident in her decision to play Truth or Dare once again. She kisses Hardin to assure him of this. The bitchy banter begins instantly with Molly starting the game of Truth or Dare by asking Tessa if she's a virgin, with Hardin snapping at Molly to shut up. She quickly corrects as she knows that isn't true anymore since Hardin slept with her. Tessa agrees then asks if it's true that Molly is a whore. Molly is offended by the term and shuts it down despite Hardin and Tessa's insistence that she is. Molly then asks if it's true that Tessa is a dumbass for getting back together with Hardin after their relationship was nothing more than a bet. Hardin chimes in again by saying that he hates Molly. When Tessa declines this, Molly presses that it is true and begins to taunt Tessa with innuendos regarding Hardin and hers previous relationship.
Overcome with rage, Tessa tackles Molly to the ground where they begin a fierce fight of hair pulling, slapping, and slamming each other into walls. Before the fight can escalate any further, Hardin pulls Tessa off Molly telling her to relax. He carries her upstairs while the girls hurl insults at one another. Hardin kicks open his bedroom door and sets Tessa down the bed while she giggles then sighs, as she needed the release, which he agrees with. Hardin joins her on the bed and she instantly begins kissing him, though they roll off the bed and land on the floor seconds later. They exchange flirty banter before having sex while listening to the sounds of the party goers downstairs counting down to midnight.
When they are finished, Hardin zips her dress back up and she excuses herself to use the bathroom. He calls to her that her phone is buzzing but she doesn't hear him. He laughs about it as he picks up her phone but instantly regrets this when he sees messages from Trevor congratulating her on the promotion in Seattle and how he can't wait to see her more. Hardin tosses the phone on the bed and leaves. He finds Jamie on the stairs and tells her that he's glad they were able to talk and she returns the sentiment. He then asks her to keep what happened between them, as he doesn't want anyone to know yet. She puts her hand on his arm, assuring him that she doesn't kiss and tell. Angered, Tessa mistakes the girl's comment for Hardin having cheated and shoves him into the wall, calling him a piece of shit as she storms past him.
She flees the party with Hardin running behind her. To spite him, she grabs a random party goer and kisses him in front of Hardin, who grabs the man angrily though the man tells Hardin that Tessa kissed him. Hardin grabs Tessa's arm to stop her and she turns around while he demands to know what that was all about. She emotionally asks why he cares as he just kissed that girl. She begins to cry which angers him as she just kissed a guy right in front of him. She asks what he did and he emotionally proclaims that he didn't do anything. She doesn't believe him and quotes back what the girl said about not kissing and telling, then shoves him backward calling him a "fucking liar". Hardin is in disbelief since that's just an expression and Tessa should know he would never cheat on her. She asks if he was with Jamie tonight and if she is who he disappeared with. Hardin admits to it but quickly tells Tessa that he was trying to make Jamie forgive him, because he wants to be a better person for Tessa.
He wants to know what else he can do to make her believe that he loves her. A moment of silence passes and he emotionally realizes that she's never going to trust him. She asks if he really thinks she should try him, to which he does, and she loudly asks where that has ever gotten her. He realizes she's never going to forgive him and will just keep bringing it up every time they have a fight. She exclaims that it's because she doesn't trust him. Hardin is taken aback by this and angrily remarks that she acts so innocent, like she's perfect, even though she isn't. He walks backward from her while muttering "fuck this". As he storms off he shouts "fuck you" at her and she returns the sentiment as they walk away from one another, the rest of the party goers watching them.
Hardin wakes up the next morning on a couch outside of the WCU frat house. He notices that his phone is dead and asks Jamie, who is just leaving the party, if she has a phone charger. The only charger she has is in her car, so he accepts the ride. Once in the car, his phone finally turns on only for him to see a slew of messages from Tessa, timestamped to the night before. They include her asking where he is, saying she's sorry for what happened, and asking him to come home. He attempts to call her but the line cuts out mid-ring. Jamie notices a car accident at an intersection and remarks on it, so Hardin looks over and is horrified to see that Tessa's car was involved. He shouts for Jamie to pull over and stop the car. When the car is pulled to the side he jumps out, not bothering to close the door. He runs to the ambulance which is starting to drive away, shouting for it to stop as he runs after the vehicle but doesn't catch up to it in time.
He spends the next few hours calling every hospital that he can find to see if Tessa has been admitted there. He is unsuccessful in finding her at five hospitals, just as Landon storms into the apartment shouting for Hardin. Landon stands close to Hardin as he asks what is wrong with him and how he could do this to Tessa. Hardin demands to know where Tessa is but Landon refuses to tell him, so much so, that he tackles Hardin to the floor. Hardin demands to know where Tessa is, so Landon rebuttals that it's Hardin's fault she crashed because he didn't come home last night. This freezes Hardin so Landon pushes Hardin off of him pressing that Tessa was out looking for Hardin when she crashed. Hardin doesn't believe him and grabs his phone and calls Tessa, relieved when she answers as he cries.
Relief quickly turns to annoyance when Trevor Matthews is on the other end, but Trevor explains that he's with Tessa now. Hardin wants to speak with her but Trevor tells him no, with Hardin angrily saying that he's not playing around. Trevor snaps at him to shut the fuck up and listen for once. Hardin obliges and Trevor tells Hardin that he's toxic and bad for Tessa. If he really loves Tessa, and Trevor thinks that Hardin does, he should let her go. Hardin begs Trevor to let him talk to her but Trevor refuses. He asks Hardin to give Tessa a chance to find happiness in life since she won't find it with him. He hangs up with Hardin lowering the phone then walking away from Landon who calls out to him.
Hardin writes an emotional letter to Tessa explaining why he's leaving America and returning to London. He likens their relationship to an addiction, with equal parts pleasure and pain. He explains everything that happened on New Years Eve, from who Jamie is and why he needed her forgiveness. He felt as though he needed Jamie's forgiveness to move forward with Tessa. He breaks up with her, claiming she's too good for him and that in the back of his mind he knew that wouldn't last. They will eventually move on, though it will be hard. He takes a flight to London and spends the next nine days looking at photos of them together until he can't bear it anymore and throws his phone out of anger. His nightmares escalate to the point where he sees Tessa take his mother's place in the nightmares. He wakes up screaming and is consoled by his mom. That day he dumps the rest of his alcohol down the drain.
He is sitting on the couch filling out college applications when his mom brings him tea, asking how the applications are going. He explains that Ken would make some calls. Trish is surprised that Hardin spoke to Ken, and tries to tell him that what happened that night wasn't Ken's fault, but Hardin asks if all the other nights weren't Ken's fault either. She admits that it was shit and they both deserved better. But the only person Hardin is hurting by not forgiving Ken is himself, and she wants him to stop punishing himself. He doesn't think it's fair that Ken is living in a giant house while she's here alone. She quips back that she isn't alone much to his surprise that she's seeing someone. She explains that it's Mike, which he is shocked even more as Mike is a "wanker from next door". She tells him that Vance is having a going away party on Sunday and she thinks Hardin should "get his ass off this sofa and go get her". He tries to make excuses so she reminds him to start fighting for what really matters.
Hardin does make it in time to see Tessa, who spots him on the balcony where she was standing earlier. She is shocked to see him and the champagne flute she was holding slips from her hand and shatters on the floor. He has an emotional look on his face as he watches the staff clean it up and Tessa hurry away. He runs after her but loses her on the staircase. He is immediately greeted by Vance, who puts his hands on his shoulders and tells him that Tessa went out the front but he has to hurry if he's going to catch her. Hardin thanks him before running off after Tessa. He hurries outside but believes he missed her when he sees an Uber leaving.
He is disheartened until she calls from the top of the stairs behind him. He turns and they gaze at each other as she walks down the stairs to stand in front of him. Her Uber pulls up and she silently walks away to the car as he watches her glumly. She opens the car door and stands next to it, looking at him as she does. He realizes that she's holding it open for him and gets into the car. She joins him and takes his hand. Once inside, they listen to the driver ramble about the heat getting to people's brains and making them do crazy things. Tessa smiles up at Hardin who smiles back, letting a chuckle out, and she sets her head on his shoulder.
That night, Hardin holds Tessa's hand as he gets another tattoo on his back. She reads the quote which says, "I never wish to be parted from you from this day on" and realizes that he got it for her. He smiles up at her and they leave the tattoo parlor, walking hand-in-hand down the sidewalk. They appear to be back together and happy once more, with Hardin internally pondering if this is the happy ending they wanted so badly. A homeless man begins following them and the man touches Tessa's shoulder and calls her by name. Hardin reacts and slams the man against the wall, holding him by his shirt in case the man is a heckler. Tessa instantly shouts at Hardin but then freezes when she sees the man's face, recognizing him as her father. Hardin is surprised at this and repeats the sentiment in shock.
Hardin is a tall young man in his late teens, with a lean athletic build. He has shaggy brown hair that is often styled back from his face. He has several tattoos on his arms and hands, most of which are covered by a variety of black t-shirts and jeans. He has dark hazel eyes and a tanned complexion. Hardin can usually be seen wearing a black leather jacket and black t-shirts. He wears a black ring on his left middle finger.
Hardin is introduced as a cocky and overly mysterious young boy in college with an ego that remains unwavering. He has a charming way about him. His cold remarks and sarcastic undertones are rivaled only by the group of friends that he surrounds himself with, all of which are trouble-makers and strive to have fun. He encounters Tessa, the first girl to reject his advances, which strike his interest in her. His ego is damaged by her rejection and he takes the rejection as an enticing challenge to make the young girl fall for him. He quickly concocts a plan to make Tessa fall in love with him only to break her heart by turning off his emotions for her. His friends don't believe him so he turns it into a bet - a sinister game of emotion and hearts. He integrates himself into Tessa's life little by little and becomes intrigued by her sexual inexperience and loyalty to her high school boyfriend, Noah. Hardin shows no regard for Noah and barely thinks of him or the relationship he is inserting himself in. This shows a very low regard for established relationships as he had no qualms breaking up the couple.
When emotions prove to difficult for Hardin, he drowns them alcohol, substances, or sex. He doesn't have much care for any of it. He shows an emotional vulnerability when it comes to his father, showing a strained relationship between the pair over a traumatic incident that Hardin witnessed as a child. This part of his life is easily grazed over as he focuses more on Tessa and building a relationship with her, albeit built on a lie. Over time, they begin to form a connection that Tessa views as special and professes her feelings for him on several occasions. While he never returns this sentiment, he shows his care for her in sweet gestures such as picnics and helping her with her living situation by moving in together in an apartment.
They take their relationship to the next level by becoming sexually intimate, something that is new for Tessa. It is around this time that Hardin shows a true emotional connection to Tessa and a sense of caring for her, despite his quick temper and nonchalant attitude. His largest form of an emotional profession is when he traces "I love you" over her back while they share a bath. When his exploits are revealed he attempts to reconcile his now shattered relationship with Tessa to no avail. He falls into a depression and barely leaves his room, before writing a letter confessing his feelings to her.
- Ken Scott - Hardin and Ken have a very rocky relationship due to Ken's alcoholism when Hardin was a child and resentment that Hardin harbors towards his father due to unresolved trauma. Ken attempts to mend things with Hardin when the latter arrives in America, but Hardin isn't interested in reconciliation. He does, however, attend Ken's wedding reception when he marries Karen Gibson. The encounter is tense with only Hardin's girlfriend, Tessa, serving as a mediator between the two men. Hardin attends a Christmas party that Ken throws and they have an intense fight, with Hardin emotionally telling his father that after that night he had to stay not leave as he did. Ken feels guilty for that night and remarks that he's haunted but it, which triggers Hardin who watched it happen. He calls his father a bastard and punches him across the face. The next day, Hardin calls Ken to apologize for his actions, taking his mother's advice about letting go of resentments.
- Trish Daniels - Hardin has a strong sense of protectiveness over his mother, and cares for her deeply. Even though they are separated by continents, Hardin's dedication to her is evident in the way he thinks of her lifestyle in comparison to Ken's which is filled with lavish and expensive tastes. Their interactions indicate a close relationship in which Trish serves as Hardin's outlet for the positive things in his life. He was open with her about his feelings for Tessa, but still kept the darker aspects of his life concealed. Though she loves him, she knows he had his challenges and can remain neutral on issues. She also isn't afraid to give him a harsh dose of reality when he spirals into himself during emotional times. This is evident when she again, when she scolds him for making a scene at Ken's Christmas party, and later, when she reminds him to start fighting for what he wants instead of wallowing.
- Landon Gibson - Landon is Hardin's new stepbrother through his father's remarriage to Landon's mother, Karen. The relationship between the new siblings was strained from the beginning, though not from Landon's lack of trying. Hardin rejected the idea of having a brother and never opened himself up to the relationship that could blossom. This could be due to Hardin's deep-rooted issues with Ken, or his trouble opening up to others. Regardless, Landon's friendship with Hardin's girlfriend Tessa Young, forces them to interact at social events. Landon's cares for Tessa and her feelings, which gives him a unique perspective into her relationship with Hardin. Landon doesn't hesitate to call Hardin out out on his behavior, even forcing Hardin to admit that he loves Tessa. After Tessa's car accident, Landon came to the apartment to confront Hardin over his role in the accident; Hardin's phone call caused Tessa to remove her seat belt, while his not coming home was the reason she was driving. They wrestled on the ground before Hardin left for London without another word to Landon.
- Tessa Young - (see "Hessa") Hardin and Tessa have a complicated relationship that started during Tessa's freshman year of college. They began a seemingly perfect relationship filled with doting love and sweet moments. They let their guards down around one another and even lived together, though this was a desperate move by Hardin that he made in order to help her financially by paying for the apartment. Despite their sweet moments, Hardin's harsh and jaded attitude often pushed Tessa away, though he gradually learned to let her in, even telling her about his traumatic childhood. Their relationship was torn apart when Tessa learned that their relationship only began as part of a dare and bet made by Hardin to get her to fall in love with him. Their relationship has since been full of obstacles, with parental damage, lies, bets, and misunderstandings often driving them apart. But their shared love for each other constantly pulls them back together like magnets. Hardin and Tessa are currently in a relationship.
- Molly Samuels - Hardin and Molly have an interesting relationship, primarily due to their ongoing casual sexual encounters that progressed to a friends-with-benefits relationship. When Hardin becomes involved with Tessa Young, Molly grows jealous of his committed relationship to her, something he was never willing to do with her and worked to ruin the relationship. She outed the dare Hardin made for himself where he would make Tessa fall in love with him, only to turn it off when things become serious. Hardin coldly told her to shut up but she ignored him and went through with the exposure to spite him. This event strained their relationship deeply and they didn't speak for about a month, at which time, she attempted to seduce him back into being interested in her. He rejected her and shoved her off him which angered her as she didn't understand why he would still be interested in someone like Tessa. Ever since, Hardin's cold shoulder to Molly has turned to a fierce disliking, with him even claiming to hate her now.
Notes and Trivia
- Hardin was born and raised in England and only came to the United States for college. He plans to return to England when he graduates from university.
- He is a member of the Washington Central University fraternity, alongside his on and off again friend, Zed Evans.
- In After, Hardin has roughly fourteen tattoos, and at the end of the book series he has more than 20.
- He drives a black SS Chevelle and a late 1970 Ford. He temporarily slept in the car and seemed to live out of it during his breakup with Tessa.
- Hardin has a tattoo across his scapula that reads, "I never wish to be parted from you from this day on". The quote is a line from the 2004 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice". Hardin got the tattoo to commemorate a new start in his relationship with Tessa.
- He has green eyes in the books and hazel eyes in the movie series.
- Confirmation of Hardin's middle name via Twitter
- After takes place in 2019, with Hardin being 19