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you're driving me nuts

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inspired by this tumblr post by sharmasandcorgis.

 

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The grand opening of Lady Whistledown Café went surprisingly well.

People started coming when they first smelled Sophie’s enchanting freshly baked cookies. Sophie had learned to make it through Mary. But of course, a talented baker that she is, Sophie modified Mary’s recipe and made it better. Kate could not comprehend how her petite friend thought of it. Her stepmother’s recipe had already been excellent. But Sophie’s cookies are out of this world, they were crunchy outside and perfectly gooey on the inside. It is the perfect cookie, truly!

Before they opened, Kate could not stop worrying, even though she had already known that they have enough money to keep their current lifestyle and the café’s operating cost for a year even if they don’t make any profit. However still, she worried her ass off. Money is important, yes, they need it to survive. But she is mostly distressed because if this does not work out, it will ruin Sophie’s spirit. Sophie is not a delicate flower, that much Kate knew. Sophie can withstand pain and trials of life proven by her relationship with her family. But still, Kate wouldn’t like it if her best friend is sad. She is determined to make this café work. Whether she like it or not. Sophie is a hardworking and dedicated person; she baked cookies every morning without fail. Not only that, she also bake everything else the Café served, well except the coffee. So, Kate had made up her mind 2 years ago, since that fated night, that she would move heaven and earth so that they can keep this café forever and ever.

Sophie is more spirited on expressing her ideas yes, but Kate is the one who made sure Sophie’s plan sailed smoothly. She had a fun time managing their legal documents, finances, and ordering supplies. Kate is thoroughly grateful for Sophie’s friend, Michael, the one guy who almost become their barista. He provided them with interest free loans to buy those expensive coffee machines, the loan that they can pay back anytime. It saved them from borrowing a loan from the bank. Nevertheless, Kate being from an immigrant family, determined to pay their loan back to Michael every month without fail. She felt a sense of pride and she would like to prove to her ancestors that she is capable, and she will surely make her way in the world.

Kate also had a fun time creating packaging logos and maintaining their social media. She is quite surprised she has the talent for the arts. If, one could consider social media art. But she rather thought Lady Whistledown Café’s Instagram profile looks neat and very aesthetically pleasing. Before, Kate only used Instagram to see what kind of person she was about to meet, while having zero interest to post herself publicly on the platform. But now, after some experiments and experience in learning about social media and its strategies, Kate is more open to the idea of posting about her life. She had remembered they day she posted her very first picture on Instagram. Edwina called her within 5 minutes after she posted, inquiring if she is alright. “Are you finally not living under the rock, dear sister?” was what she said to Kate.

It was Saturday, which marked the end of their first week. They had agreed to close the café on Sundays because they do need some rest. With café hours being quite long. Sophie wake up every day at 4am in the morning to prepare the baked goods, while Kate and Penelope would stay in the café from 8am to 9pm. They definitely need rest. They had finally survived the first wave of customers that day. They would be very busy from 8am to 10am every morning, with a lot of passersby dropping in to buy energy elixir (or coffee) while going to work.

At 10:30am, Sophie had already gone back to their apartment after the surge subsided to take a nap before deciding on next week’s menu. Sophie had this idea of changing the menu every week to keep the customers “on their toes”. On the other hand, Penelope was roasting some beans to prepare for the lunch time surge and Kate was faithfully sitting behind the counter with her laptop, waiting for another customer while doing their weekly finances.

The café’s front doorbell chimed, and a customer walked in. Kate looked up from her laptop and saw a dashing (and to be quite honest strikingly handsome) young gentleman walking towards the counter. Kate got up from her seat and smiled.

“Hi! What can I help you with?”

“Well, I’m here within the first week you guys opened. You must be flattered.” He stroked his hair arrogantly “But what can I say, I am a sucker for teeny tiny cafés.”

“Pardon?”

“Surely you know me” The young man scoffed in disbelief.

Kate furrowed her eyebrows and looked at him dead in the eye, does she ought to know him? who is this prick thinking he is oh so famous? And right then and there Kate decided that she detests this man.

He had a questioning look on his face, “Anthony Bridgerton, @AntBrig on Instagram, food critic?”

Kate still got her brows furrowed and Anthony still maintained his exasperated look. Kate just could not stop thinking about stalking him on Instagram and making fun of this “wannabe” critic with Sophie later tonight.

Kate sighed and finally said “I’m sorry sir, I do not know you, now please what can I help you with?” forcing her smile.

Anthony glared at her, “Pardon me for my rudeness miss.. ” He looked at her nametag “..Kate, one latte and one chocolate chip cookie please.”

“Okay, that would be 3 pounds.” Anthony silently gave her his money and searched for a seat. He finally settled on the corner window seat beside the coffee roaster.

“Oh my god is it him?” Penelope gawked behind her, amazed at the sight.

“Who?” Kate questioned Penelope.

“Anthony Bridgerton? The most followed Instagram food critic in London? His comment can make or break a café Kate.”

“What?” Kate scoffed “Who decided that?!”

“He came from a very affluent family you see, and he also give excellent honest reviews, oh my god I’m so nervous, did he order any drinks Kate?”

“Yes, one latte” Kate said while eyeing Penelope confusedly.

“Shit, okay. Let me make the best latte of my life, no pressure.” Penelope went back to her coffee station and started crafting the latte with extra care. Meanwhile Kate reheated Sophie’s famous cookies per her exact heating instruction and served it on a plate. Penelope is nervous, she wondered if she should be too. When the latte is ready, Kate put the cookie and the latte on a tray and walked over to Anthony’s seat.

She smiled sweetly this time, even though she does not like the guy, she needed him to write a good review for their café. Not that she believed that he would somehow make the customers stop coming (people has their own opinions! Not everyone is going to listen to him!), but she would rather not risk it.

She placed the cookie and the latte slowly on his table, “one latte and one chocolate chip cookie, I hope you enjoy it.”

“Well, I would’ve enjoyed it more if the service is this nice ever since I walked through the door.” Anthony said with a smirk.

Kate glared at him. Oh, hell nah! “Pardon me for my confusion, I do believe a person doesn’t have the capacity to know every person in this whole world.”

“Of course not, but someone who is serious in the business would know who they should respect within the industry.”

Kate was furious. How dare he judged her devotion! She could not stand this human being, and for the love of god, she would really like to choke him in his seat right now. If it was not for Sophie, for Penelope, and for this bloody café, she would have. She really needed to behave for their sake. So, she pushed down her anger and replied “Pardon me for my indifference.”

She turned her back and “accidentally” stepped on Anthony’s toes on her way back to the counter. She smirked victoriously.

When she reached the counter, she refused to even glance at his direction. Preferring the numbers on her laptop screen at the moment. Kate usually like to glance to her customers enjoying the coffee and Sophie’s brilliant baked goods. But no. Not this person. He could choke himself to death on his cookie and Kate could not care less.

Kate only brought her eyes up from her laptop 25 minutes later when she heard the doorbell chimed once more. No one came in, it meant someone had left. She turned her head to that insufferable git’s seat. He’s gone, leaving his empty plate and empty latte cup. Kate got up to collect the plate and cup from his table. She had felt extreme pleasure when she stepped on his toe, but she could not help but wondered if this place is going to be ruined. She really hoped not.

 

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1 new notification

@AntBrig started following you on Instagram.

Chapter Text

Inspired by this tumblr post by sharmasandcorgis

sentences in italic represents Kate's inner thought.

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3 new notifications

@Ant_Brig commented on your post: Lady Whistledown café is a fun-sized (or dare I say miniature sized) café in Mayfair. It is not as extravagant or modern as other cafés in the area. The café’s ‘cozy’ and ‘quaint’ interior reminded me of that particular aunt who gives everyone unwanted hugs during the holidays. Some would hate it, some would like it, and some would enjoy it but won’t admit it. If you are wondering, I reside in the last category. Though, maybe I am biased for local businesses, but I have to say, my experience was decent.

@Ant_Brig commented on your post: Their cookies were lovely, but it could be better. No options for extreme crunchy cookie lover though, they only have crunchy cookies with chewy centers.

@Ant_Brig commented on your post: Interesting how the caption says, ‘Feels like home’, when it should be more like ‘Feels like the tennis court’ because they do need to work on their service. Pun intended.

 

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Kate fluttered her orbs open. Its finally Sunday. Kate did not expect 1 week of operating and managing a café would exhaust her this way. She inhaled deeply and let herself enjoy this moment of peace. No expectations today, no work to be done, maybe she could resume her watercolors. She felt excitement rushing through her veins. Before starting the day, Kate reminded herself to practice gratitude.

I am grateful for the feeling of lightness in the air. I am grateful for a very good night sleep.

Sunlight had gone through her bedroom window, streaks of golden draped on her sheets. She smiled to herself contently. Life is good. She took her time to think about how grateful she is to have Sophie and Penelope supporting her and their café.

I am grateful for this sense of belonging and purpose.

They made her want to do her best, for her and for them. The three of them now a team. A bond they forged earned a special place in Kate’s heart. The last couple of months filled with sleepless nights of preparing and planning had not been easy.

It was all worth it.

When she felt like she is ready to cease the day, she reached to her phone on her bedside table and –

“GAHHHHHHHHHHHHH” She screamed in fury. She heard rustling footsteps to her room and her door sprung open, Sophie had rushed to her bedroom, with her overly large sleeping gown and tousled hair.

“Kate are you okay?!” She sounded extremely worried.

Kate said nothing. She pointed at her phone screen while showing it to her friend and let out a grunt.

Great, now a good day has turned to foul.

 

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A month had passed since Anthony Bridgerton started following Lady Whistledown café’s official Instagram profile. The very page which was managed by none other than miss Kate Sharma. Kate spent hours on end thinking about a reply for his comments. His comments had started a fire of indignation inside Kate. The chap commenting on each and every one of their posts is not helping either.

“This prick is seriously testing my patience.”

“Are you arguing with that Anthony lad again on Instagram?” Sophie emphasized on the word ‘again’.

“He commented on every single one of our posts, Sophie. He even said your cookies could be better!  Can you believe that?! When I know for a fact, your cookies are the best. They simply could not get better.”

“Well, you said it yourself, Katie darling, each person has their own opinion about food.” Sophie said nonchalantly.

Kate could hear Penelope snickered at Sophie’s statement.

“You may hate him to death, loathe him to hell, detest him for all eternity. But the irony is, we should thank him, Kate.” Penelope said while crafting a drink, “Him commenting a lot on our post means more business, the customers are curious.” She added.

“Over my dead body! ever since that cocky prick started following our café’s Instagram, he just won’t stop insulting us.” Kate protested.

“Okay, okay, this is getting ridiculous! It has been like what? A month now? you’ve been fighting like small children seriously” Sophie shook her head in disbelief and giggled.

“Last week he complained that we always keep our cinnamon roll. On the post we made announcing that we change our menu weekly.”, then she turned to Sophie, “Why do you always keep the cinnamon roll anyway? It was your idea to change the menu every week!”

“No reason” Sophie answered her question too fast for it to be an innocent reason she claimed it to be. But Kate was going to press on that later. maybe tonight. When Sophie least expected it. As for right now she needed to think of a reply for this bloke’s comment.

The café’s doorbell chimed,

“Speak of the devil” Penelope said lowly with a smirk.

“Oh, look who it is,” Anthony said when he reached the counter “Miss congeniality.” Kate tried to fake a smile while glaring at him. Kate could hear Sophie tittered at his remark.

“Good evening, what can I help you with?”

“Well, yesterday I scrolled my Instagram while I was on my weekly Sunday roast with my family and noticed you change your menu – again.”

Kate scoffed under her breath. “I rather believe you are aware that we change our menu weekly, since you commented on the announcement post on Instagram.”

Anthony rolled his eyes. “You guys just keep wanting to make me go back huh?” he added, ignoring Kate’s comment.

“Yes, I thought it is rather interesting, don’t you think?” Sophie now standing beside her.

“Hi, I’m Sophie, the baker.” She extended her hand for a handshake.

Anthony smiled at her, a genuine smile. “Well hello Sophie the baker. I am Anthony, the critic.”

“Yes, I am informed of that.” She grinned.

“Hi! I’m Penelope the barista, a big fan, HUGE.”, Now Kate is sandwiched between Sophie and Penelope because the redhead had decided to postpone her coffee making and suddenly rushed beside Kate with her puppy eyes to claim herself an introduction. Kate glared at her.

 “What? I thought everyone is introducing themselves.” Penelope said while looking at Kate.

Anthony seemed to be amused by the interaction, “Hello, Penelope the barista, it’s always nice to know when there is a fan.”

Penelope smiled and immediately excused herself to rush back to her abandoned work.

“You must know the critics I made about your pastries, I presume.” Anthony turned his head to Sophie.

“Yes, actually I rather like constructive criticism, it was such a great detailed review.”

“Well look at that, finally someone who understands.” He replied.

Kate rolled her eyes in annoyance.

“This week we have assorted muffins, my favorite is the blueberry one of course, I like a little bit of tartness in my desserts.” Sophie said fondly.

“Impeccable taste! I reciprocate the sentiment.”

He is trying to charm MY ANGEL SOPHIE. Oh my god he is such a fuckboy.

“Tangy desserts go really well with mocha!” Penelope said from her station.

Anthony chuckled “Well that makes my life easier now, is it not? Then I’ll have one blueberry muffin and one mocha, please.”

“Don’t forget to write us an honest review of the muffins Mr.Bridgerton.” Sophie smiled.

“Oh, I will miss Sophie, I assure you that.”

When Anthony finally settled on a seat, a brilliant idea brushed Kate’s mind. Quicky turning to Penelope, “Have you made that devil’s Mocha, Pen?”

Penelope turned to Kate, “If by devil you mean Anthony, no, I haven’t. I’m about to though, after I finish these Cappuccinos.”

Kate smirked, “Good, now don’t you make it until I come back yes”, she grabbed one of the coffee cups and swiftly headed to the back kitchen. She fetched a jug of freezing cold water and submerged the cup into the water.

“What are you planning to do there, missy?” Sophie leaned on the doorframe and crossed her arms, staring at her.

“Oh, you know, just cooling a coffee cup. A hot coffee cup is quite hard to pick up and be used to sip drinks, don’t you agree?” She tried to answer chastely however she couldn’t help but let out an evil laugh.

Sophie shook her head and let out a sigh, going back to the counter.

After 2 minutes, Penelope came through the door frame, “Kate is there something wrong? I’m about to make the mocha now.”

“Oh no of course not, I’ll be there shortly.” Kate fished out the freezing cold cup and walked the coffee station. Penelope tried to take the cup from Kate, but Kate would not let her. Instead, Kate placed the cup on her work surface and instructed Penelope to craft the drink without touching the cup.

“You are not going to poison him, right Kate?” Penelope asked with horror in her eyes.

“No, of course not.” Kate said, still smirking.

Penelope sighed in defeat and began crafting the drink without touching the cup.

When the Mocha was ready, Kate put on her sly smile and walked over to Anthony’s seat. She placed the coffee daintily on Anthony’s table.

“One blueberry muffin and one mocha”

“Thank you” he uttered.

Kate slowly eyed the unassuming Anthony lifting his cup.

Perfect. it is already quite not so freezing anymore.

Kate knew when he feels the cool coffee cup, he will probably think the drink is rather cooler that it actually is.

But the truth runs wild. Kate turned her back and smirked smugly.

The. Drink. Turned. Out. To. Be. Super. Hot.

Just two steps from where she had been, Kate could hear Anthony spurting out his drink. He cursed under his breath “Oh my god you menace of a woman.”

Being exceedingly pleased by her action, Kate theatrically turned her body to Anthony once more to inquire him of his wellbeing “Are you okay Anthony?” She said sweetly. Too sweet to be genuine.

Anthony felt his blood boil. “I’m fine, it’s just hot,” He slowly inhaled, “I rather believed it to be not.”

“Well, is there something I can help with your low heat tolerance?”

“No there is not.” He gritted his teeth.

“Very well”

Sophie and Penelope witnessed their interaction, both having completely different reactions, Sophie was concerned, and Penelope was mortified.

 

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When it is past closing time, a wine bottle had been left opened, its content poured evenly to each of their glass. The three of them was sitting comfortably on the sofa by the window, staying to interview their new barista, who is yet to arrive.

“Why do you hate him so much Kate? He seems to be a perfectly nice guy, rich and privileged of course, but still tolerable” Sophie queried curiously.

“He’s so fucking cocky, Soph! and he tried to flirt and charm you for god’s sake!”

“Interestingly, I rather thought you guys to be more suitable. I feel so much tension between the two of you I feel like I could cut it with a knife” Sophie snorted.

“I have to completely agree on this one! you guys are like the classic enemies to lovers trope. I won’t even be surprised if you guys somehow hook up against the back door or something” Sophie laughed at Penelope’s barb.

“Penelope!” Kate protested.

“Surely Sophie agrees too! There is so much tension between you guys, it’s so hot” Penelope faked fanning herself.

“You guys remind me of that Bennet woman dan that Darcy man from that famous regency novel.”

“You mean Pride and Prejudice, Soph?” Penelope suggested.

“Maybe? sorry I’m not so good with names. The one where they’re all sisters, I remembered envying the main character for having so many sisters.”

“Yes, it is Pride and Prejudice, and hey, you have me” Kate said, holding her hand.

“You have us” Penelope assured. All their hands now on top of each other’s.

“I don’t know Kate, I feel like someone is going to steal you from me very very soon” Sophie winked, Penelope let out a heartfelt laugh.

“Okay okay stop,” Kate couldn’t help but smile, “let’s not think about that cocky git. We need to focus on what’s important here. We have the chance to hire another barista, since apparently, our coffee shop is a hit” Kate brought up her wine glass “Cheers girls”

“Cheers” Penelope and Sophie exclaimed concurrently.

Their front doorbell chimed,

“Hi everyone, I’m Lucy Abernathy, I’m here for an interview for the barista position?”

Chapter Text

inspired by this tumblr post by sharmasandcorgis

sentences in italic represents Kate's inner thought.

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Unfortunately, Lady Whistledown Café’s third month did not run as smoothly as its first and its second.

They had ordered a new coffee machine from Italy. The Expensive one. They may have two baristas, but with only one coffee machine and heavy customer surges, they were still very overwhelmed. However, there had been a miscommunication with the producer and the delivery was halted. There were also several legal business documents concerning their business permit and taxes that Kate should really look at.

Kate had also noticed some black dusts on their café’s kitchen counter. She had thought nothing of it at first, but it kept reappearing every morning. It might have been some dust fallings from the ceiling, but it didn’t look like normal dust. It reminded her of pencil dust, but no one really used pencil there.  It was the most peculiar thing. When she inquired Sophie about it, Sophie just said its maybe nothing, claiming that it maybe because the building is old. Kate had a hunch that she needed to investigate this dust. She had been considering to setup some surveillance cameras just to calm her nerves.

The new barista, Lucy, is a superb barista. But she happens to be just a tiny bit clumsy, well maybe a lot. Today she spilled a drink on a very very expensive looking guy. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to bother him a lot. He wasn’t furious per se, but he had this annoyed expression when it happened. However, when he learned that her name is Lucy, his temper instantly vanished, which was the most puzzling thing. Lucy had apologized profusely, and he accepted gracefully, with a condition that Lucy had to go shopping for clothes with him right there and then.

No matter how hard the couple weeks had been, she could not bear the weight that was added by Sophie who had been pressing her to apologize to Anthony. Whenever Sophie had the chance she always say,

“Apologize to the man Katharine.”, or

“Apologize to Anthony Bridgerton, Kate.”, or

“You know what you did was wrong Kate, you know what to do.”

She had to admit what she did to him was childish. She hardly recognized herself. Something about him made her twitch and his smirks made her blood boil. It was as if hurting him will make Kate seem to be more in control. She had had the time to ponder on her action. she felt guilty, yes. But Anthony Bridgerton, still, commented on every one of their posts. Nothing had changed really, so Kate rather thought it was fine. It was as if like she could just forget about it (if only Sophie would stop reminding her!). Also maybe because apologizing meant she admit defeat to Anthony Bridgerton. Kate knows that apologizing is not a sign of defeat, and she knows that apologizing doesn’t mean she’s weak. But she just couldn’t bear upon the thought of actually apologizing to him. Kate didn’t know why. She was just so bloody confused.

Ughh, why do I keep thinking about this annoying man?

It was quite a hectic morning for them. The four of them had managed to somehow serve the breakfast customer surge. It is a lot more manageable now, and Sophie had gone home to rest. Lucy now on a trip with that Gregory guy to find him new decent clothing, and they left Kate and Penelope to run the café. Kate realized that she had spent sometime today thinking a lot about Anthony Bridgerton, rather than thinking about her actual serious business problems. Kate was really bothered by it and thought nothing could make this day even worse.

Until Anthony Bridgerton himself walked into the café.

This time, not alone, however. He had brought a very attractive man with him, skin like chocolate ice creams in the summer and eyes as dark as the deep ocean. Both gentlemen who are similar in height, strode to the counter.

“I wonder why I am always served by you, miss Menace.”

Ever since Kate had burned his mouth, Anthony hadn’t been holding back on the insults.

Simon eyed Anthony confusedly.

Kate rolled her eyes and ignored him “Anything I can help you gentlemen with today?”

 “Yes, I would like one chocolate muffin and one iced latte please, one can never be too careful.” He sneered.

“That would be 2 pounds.”

He paid silently and Kate’s attention turned to the guy behind him.

“How about you sir?”

“Uhm, maybe 1 blueberry muffin, and one iced americano”

“Iced! Perfect choice” Anthony said with a fake smile.

Simon looked at Anthony weirdly once again and said, “You better find a seat mate.”

Anthony nodded silently and went to find a seat for them.

“Oh also, I’ll take home three blueberry muffin” Simon added.

“Okay three blueberry muffins to go.” Kate confirmed.

“I’m sorry, he’s not usually like this.”

Kate raised one brow and asked “Really? What is he usually like?”

“Wait.., you don’t seem surprised.”

Kate shook her head.

“What has he done and what have you done to deserve it?” He said while chuckling.

“Normal dispute between wannabe critic and business owner, I guess.”

“Weird.”

“How so?”

“He is usually very polite to the business owners. Whether he likes the person or not. He even had been nice to that one restaurant owner who threatened to kill him. I haven’t seen him being ridiculously rude like this in ages really. The last time I see him like this was when he has a crush on a girl,” He paused.

Kate raised both of her eyebrows.

“In middle school” Simon added.

Kate snorted. Somehow a little Anthony Bridgerton crushing on a little girl and pulling her pigtails came to her mind.

Oh my god what a childish prick (as if she’s not!)

After some more small talks, Kate learned that his name is Simon and he had been friends with Anthony for a while. Finally, he retreated to the seat Anthony had picked for them and Kate asked Penelope to make one iced latte and one iced americano.

Kate served them their drinks, and excused herself back to the counter, but she could faintly hear Simon asking Anthony, “Excuse me but why are you acting like a schoolboy?”

“Could you please keep your mouth shut” Anthony scoffed.

Back at the counter, Kate had just remembered that a lot of their utensils are still unwashed back in the kitchen, left from their last customer surge.

“Penny, I’m going to wash some dishes at the back okay, please help me behind the counter, would you?”

“Kay, Katie” was the last thing she heard before she entered the kitchen.

 

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Kate had just finished washing their dishes and were on her way back to the front counter, when she noticed that a customer was hitting on Penelope. When darling Penelope refused, the customer started telling her that she is ugly and fat. Kate was just about to stomp there and punch the man in the face when Anthony done the exact same thing she had thought of doing.

Maybe he is not such a bad bloke after all.

Anthony had had his sleeves rolled, showing his muscular, veiny, lower arms.

Kate gulped.

“If you can’t respect a woman you don’t deserve to be here! Get out!” Anthony roared. “You better not come back, or else I’d call the police and personally make sure you rot in jail!”

“he’s a hero” Kate whispered to herself.

Then Kate ran to Penelope and held her hands, “Penelope are you okay?” Kate stared at her intently.

“Yes. I’m fine, phew, that isn’t comfortable now isn’t it” Penelope had realized that several eyes are now on her.

“Glad you’re okay” Kate gave her a hug.

Kate and Penelope thanked Anthony and he went back to his seat. Kate’s eye unconsciously followed Anthony.

Kate was trapped in a daze.

Whoa… his arms…

Kate unknowingly licked her lower lips.

His neck, his beautiful neck.

Then it hit her,

Did I just drool on Anthony Bridgerton’s body?!

Kate shook her head swiftly. She ran back to the kitchen and sprayed her face with cold water.

Katharine Sharma! What is wrong with you???????

“I must be dehydrated!” she exclaimed to herself, then chugged a jug of cold water down her drain.

 

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Penny <3: Sophie, you won’t believe what just happened!

Penny <3: Today some rude customer tried to hit on me. When I refused, the guy practically yelled insults at me *rolling eyes emoji*

Penny <3: Thankfully, Anthony (the critic that Kate despises, yes) punched him in the face and screamed at the annoying bloke. The guy fled when Anthony threatened to call the police.

Penny <3: But then, I saw something very very interesting…

Penny <3: I think Kate was staring at Anthony Bridgerton’s arms

Penny <3: with DAZED eyes

Penny <3: And then she ran back to the kitchen, and I heard water splashing..

Penny <3: When she came back to the counter, her face was very very wet.

Penny <3: it was quite the sight *wink emoji*

 

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Luce <3: Soph, I wasn’t there when it happened, but Penelope told me the whole story. Is it too late for me to join your Anthony x Kate fanclub?

 

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Kate decided that today was a bad day. The coffee machine still hadn’t leave Italy, and so many other things going wrong. But the one thing that weighed her mind the most, whether she would like to admit it or not, is her uncalled lust for Anthony Bridgerton.

Anthony Bridgerton for god’s sake!

Her mood really hadn’t improved since she chugged almost a pint of water several hours ago. She resolved that maybe a cold bath could help her wash away her scrambling thoughts. Therefore, when she got back to their apartment, she immediately retreated herself to the bathroom and took a cold shower (some would even argue it was a freezing shower).

She had felt better after the shower. The piercing cold water rinsed her inappropriate thoughts, it numbed her frustration and ache. She noticed Sophie is giggling in her room. Probably on a call with her old friends. She had been spending a great deal on her phone lately. Kate’s stomach let out a thunderous grumble when she saw a sandwich Sophie had made for her.

Hmm ham and cheese.

After finishing the sandwich, Kate plumped onto the sofa in their living room. A laptop on her lap, thinking of doing some more work before bed.

She was very immersed in her work that she had not notice Sophie exiting her bedroom. When Sophie sat down on the sofa next to her was when finally, she noticed.

“Soo, anything interesting you want to share with me today?” Sophie turned her head to Kate and grinned like a school girl.

“No, nothing in particular, the café is all right.  I still have a lot to do, but I think I’m going to be fine” Kate said while still focusing on her work, before turning her head to Sophie and blurted, “Wait, why? do you have anything you want to share with me?”

“What! No!” Sophie blushed. “Ahem, it’s just that I got a text from Penelope that something interesting had happened today”

“Oh my god… What did she say?! What do you know, Sophie..” Kate said with her voice alarmingly small.

“I know you know what I’m talking about, Kate.”

“Well yes, I also do know that you know what I know. But what is it that you do know?”

“Why are you talking in circles, Kate?” Sophie giggled, “Not only Penelope, but Lucy also texted me. You got it bad sis.” She added.

“For fuck sake” Kate cursed under her breath

Sophie is amused.

“Anthony and Kate, sitting under the tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G” Sophie sang.

“STOP IT!” Kate had wanted it to be a soft warning, but instead she let out a half-shout.

Sophie seemed startled, “I’m sorry I-”

“No. I’m sorry.” Kate sighed, mentally facepalming herself, “I’m sorry, but please don’t tease me right now Soph. I’m really stressed, I’m still hungry and I haven’t had enough sleep in a while.”

“I’m so sorry Katie.., I should’ve read the room better” Sophie looked at Kate with the her motherly gaze, “Hey come on then, what can I help you with?”

“No, it’s okay I can handle it.”

“No.” Sophie said demandingly. “I’ll help. You are clearly having a stressful week. I can’t let you do this alone. The café is mine too you know” Sophie said with a small smile.

“You’ve done so much for the café already.”

“And you also have…come on, tell me what I can do for you, miss Sharma.”

Sophie can be headstrong sometimes.

Kate was never a fan of asking for help. Being the eldest daughter in her family, she is used to taking care of Edwina on her own when Mary and her father is at work. She prided herself with her responsibility. However, she had to tell herself many many times that it is okay to get help sometimes. She is not weak when her friends and family helped her. She is human and as a human, we need each other to survive. We are social creatures anyway.

“Well okay, help would be really nice” Kate finally said with a smile.

 

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Her hair sprawled on her sheets. His warm hands touching her; fingers teasing the skins of her breast, circling around her bud. She feels so desirable. His other hand is on her hips, pinning it down to keep her still because he knows she will buck like a wild woman from the intense pleasure he is afflicting her at the moment. His head in between her thighs, his breath warms her folds, and his occasional moans send electric vibration up her spine. His adventurous tongue is touring her womanhood; Licking and sucking her like his life depend on it. His doing almost making her lose control of her sanity, driving her over the edge several times before allowing her to reach the pinnacle of her desires. He looks up, and their eyes meet. There he is, Anthony Bridgerton smirking at her.

Kate woke up from her slumber with cold sweat.

Chapter Text

inspired by this tumblr post by sharmasandcorgis.

sentences in italic represents Kate's inner thought.

 

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These past weeks had been a saving grace for Kate. The coffee machine had finally arrived from Italy. Their business permit and taxes issues are done.

The black dust on their café’s kitchen counter turned out to be her best friend doing. One morning, when Kate was browsing surveillance cameras online, Sophie had told her that she might know the reason of the mysterious black dusts. Sophie confessed to Kate that maybe it is because the pencil of her artist friend. Sophie had invited this friend of hers to practice drawing pastries every morning with her. Kate was confused at first, who in their right mind wants to draw pastries in the break of dawn? But Sophie reasoned that, artists tend to be eccentric. Besides, they kept her company while she bakes. Kate had told her if she wanted company Kate was willing to go with her. But Sophie refused. Her artist friend was an actual morning person, while Kate was not. Other than that, the artist and Sophie worked silently together, it made Sophie felt less alone while still being able to focus on her baking. Kate had accepted Sophie’s explanation. She was very glad to know that her friend has a company.

But one thing that still weighed on her, was her wet dream with the one and only, Anthony Bridgerton. She had not dated for like 3 years, and yes, unfortunately, 3 years she had been left untouched by another human being. She resolved maybe it’s just because she hadn’t get laid in a very very long time. But it still didn’t ease her burden.

If he kept commenting on their Instagam posts, Kate really can’t stop thinking about him now, could she?

Damned man!

Today had been a fairly slow day. Kate had her back facing the door and was discussing about books with Penelope when the front door bell chimed.

Kate stomach flipped.

Could it be?

Kate was immediately brought to disappointment when the customer walking in is not a certain man *ahem*. Instead, an elderly woman got in, bringing 2 young girls with her. Her face as round as the moon and gleamed like the sun. Her movements were graceful and fine.

“Hi! What can I help you with today?” Kate said with a big smile to the older woman.

“I’m sorry, do you have cookies?”

“Oh yes, we do have them.”

“Excellent”

“We have… chocolate chips, hazelnuts, and peanut butter cookies today, what flavor would you like, madam?”

“Oh um, I’ll have 2 of each then, I believe in the superiority of the baker.” The elder woman said with glee.

“Wise judgement” Kate chuckled.

“My eldest son said the cookies here are the most exquisite thing he had ever eaten, never before he tasted anything like it.” She said with a smile, “Do you also happen to have blueberry muffin dear?” Her voice poised and gentle.

“Oh, no, not this week, we change our menu weekly you see, however it should make a comeback next week”

“Ah, what a shame, my eldest son and my son-in-law went here last week. My son in law had brought the muffins home to my eldest daughter and she loved it. She’s currently pregnant with her third child and had been craving tart desserts lately.”

“Oh, if you are looking for tart desserts, we do have some lemon cake, a new recipe by the baker, but she always does a superb job! I can give you a free sample if you’d like.”

“That would be very nice love, thank you.”

Kate gave the lemon cake sample to the elder woman.

“Oh dearest, this is the most exquisite thing!”

“It is lemony but not in your face sour? Yes, I was surprised too.” Kate agreed.

“Yes! And the fragrance, oh my, please pack 10 of those.”

Kate laughed, “Aye aye, captain.”

“Please split it into 3s and 7s. I would also like to eat it at home by myself” She winked.

“Gramma, I would like these please” The little girl pointed at finger sandwiches inside the glass showcase.

“Okay Amelia, what would you like Belinda dear?” She turned her attention to the smaller girl.

“I would like this one!” She pointed at the chocolate brownies.

“Very well” Kate nodded and put in the little girls’ order, “Let me also pack up a cinnamon roll for you to try on later, on the house” Kate winked back at her.

“I will be so very blessed if I have someone like the baker as my daughter in law, do tell me her number so that I can match her up with one of my sons.” she said jokingly.

Kate laughed at her motherly matchmaking desires.

When Kate was packing up her order, the front doorbell chimed, and Kate hadn’t thought much of it.

“Anthony!” The older woman exclaimed.

Kate immediately brought her head up.

“Mother? What are you doing here?” Anthony looked at her nervously, “Amelia, Belinda, girls hello”

The little girls hugged their uncle’s leg, and Anthony lifted Belinda up to his arms, while his other hand held Amelia’s hand.

“Well, you & Simon said that the baked goods in this café are spectacular dearest, I was just buying some for Daphne and Colin.”

Kate opened her eyes widely.

So, Anthony is her eldest son?

Violet turned her attention to Kate, and sort of introduced him to her, “This is my eldest son.”

“Yes, he is a regular.” Kate said with a sweet smile.

Violet turned to Anthony and hit him playfully in the arm “You said you’ve been here only once, with Simon.”

“Well, yes I’ve been here several times, after I tell you about the time I went with Simon.” Anthony tried to explain.

“You’ve been here several times before that too.” Kate said with a devious grin.

Anthony glared at Kate.

Violet looked at them intently.

“Would you like anything else madam?” Kate said to Violet.

“Some tea would be nice.”

“We have peppermint, earl grey, and jasmine.”

“Excellent, I’ll have peppermint tea dear, Anthony darling, would you like anything?”

“Lemon tart please, Kate”

“Of course.” Kate put in his order.

“And one... Mocha”

Kate let out a small smile.

“I’ll make it a bit cooler this time, Anthony” Penelope said from her workstation, without glancing at them.

“That will be appreciated thank you, Penelope.” Anthony let out a small sigh.

“It seems that you are rather acquainted with everyone here, Anthony.” Violet smiled knowingly.

“Yes, he comes by every week ever since we’ve opened, 4 months ago.” Kate answered her.

Violet eyed her son in fascination and decided to press it on him later, on their way home perhaps.

 

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Sophie had insisted on a girls night every other week. Kate knew Sophie had wanted a family of her own by the time she turned 27, but with the café being fairly new, and it needed as much care as possible, she hadn’t got the chance to go around and reignite her love life. Kate knew that the 4 of them is as close as family as Sophie could get at the moment, apart from Mary and Edwina of course. So, Kate had agreed to do it when Sophie expressed her desire. Now, every 2 weeks, Sophie, Kate, Lucy, and Penelope, close the coffee shop 4 hours early so that they could catch up.

At first, it was done on a weekday, since Sophie had to research and prepare next week’s menu on Saturdays. But then after one drunken night where the four of them danced on the café’s kitchen countertops and ended up hungover the next day, they had decided that the best thing to do was to have their girls night on a Saturday. That meant Sophie had to decide the menu before Saturday. Because of that, now on Saturdays she would bring the food which was going to be available next week, a sample she had created to make them aware of their own food they serve. Or that was what she would like them to believe. Kate knew for a fact that Sophie just wanted to feed them.

“Oh my god Sophie, this éclair…” Penelope moaned.

“Chocolate is a sin” Lucy added.

Sophie chuckled.

“And this crunch, with the soft pastry and sweet cream, holy hell, woman” Kate exclaimed.

“You could use this talent of yours to sneer a husband dearest” Penelope faked a regency accent.

“Or stop the war, darling” Lucy intervened (also with a regency accent), “Seriously! If you give some to the soldiers at war, they will forget they’re in a warfare.”

“Sophie’s cake for world peace!” Penelope exclaimed.

Sophie and Kate chuckled at their shenanigans.

“So, Luce, tell me, that Gregory guy, what is he up to? Why did he wanted to go with you alone?” Sophie inquired Lucy.

“True. I find it to be very weird, did you use that taser I lent you?” Kate said while sipping on her wine.

“Seeing that he visited the next day, it doesn’t seem like she used it” Penelope answered.

“No, no” Lucy laughed, “He has a crush on my friend, Hermione. She is his coworker; he is surely smitten over her. I love my Hermione, but she just has bad taste in men, really” Lucy shook her head in disgust, “The guy she is dating right now is a no no”

“oooh juicy gossip right here” Sophie sipped on her wine.

“You did not just sell your friend to that Gregory lad, right?” Kate asked with wide eyes.

“No! Hell no! Kate! I thought you know me better than that!” Lucy frowned.

“I’m sorry Luce..” Kate frowned too.

“I do understand that that Gregory guy is quite charming, but I don’t suffer no fools girls! I need to study him before I recommend her to Hermione, truly, no one deserves her.. she’s an angel.”

“True, the boy has to earn it.” Penelope agreed

“So, I make him take poetry class because Hermione loves poetry” Lucy declared.

“Nice one sis, turn the boy to Lord Byron first to woo the lady” Kate said.

“Poetry is so beautiful don’t you think? My hopeless romantic heart is soaring at the thought of being read poetry by someone” Sophie had both of her fist clenched on her chest, looking at the distance. “It makes me feel like I’m a heroine of a regency romance novel.”

“You know what? Let us dance” Penelope rose from her seat.

“oooh, like in ball?” Sophie asked with wonder.

Penelope bowed her head to Sophie, “Yes milady”

“I’ve always wanted to know what it feels like” Sophie now clapping to herself.

“Then, care to dance with me, miss Beckett?” Penelope lent her hand to Sophie.

“Penelope, I do not know how to dance.”

“I’ll teach you, c’mon Soph. Lucy put on a romantic music would you?”

Lucy put on a slow classical music.

Sophie rose from her seat.

“Okay, Soph, I want you to stand right there, 1 step from the door and imagine yourself entering the ball, what are you wearing?”

Sophie did as Penelope ordered, “Okay, um imagine me as the most beautiful girl in the ball, I’m wearing a silver dress.”

Penelope went to stand in front of the corner seat near the coffee roaster, the farthest one from the door, “I gaze upon you from across the ballroom.” She said, looking at Sophie.

“Our eyes meet”

“And I walk to you, surely, my eyes fixed on only you” Penelope walked slowly to Sophie.

“And I do too”

When the distance between them is only 2 steps apart, Penelope took Sophie’s hand and said, “I believe you owe me a dance this evening, my beautiful lady” Penelope kissed her hand.

“I’d be honored, Madam.” Sophie smiled from ear to ear.

“It is no fun to only be watching such a fine couple dance, don’t you think?” Lucy lent her hand to Kate.

Kate chuckled and took Lucy’s hand.

“Okay girls, the first thing you have to do is bow to your partner” Penelope instructed.

 

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After three fun (and also tiring) dances, the girls retired to their abandoned seats.

“I wonder what it is like to be a part of London high society, it must be fun to dance like that at high class events.”

“Oh no no, London’s high society are a bunch of fools, Lucy darling, believe me.” Penelope affirmed, “Now you know the reason I left, girls” Penelope lifted her wine glass to the girls and sipped on her wine.

Penelope was once part of London’s high society. She came from a very affluent family, her mother had wanted her to become a socialite and marry well, but Penelope decided that she wanted to pursue a career as a writer (a career which her mother disapprove of) and she didn’t want to marry only for wealth, she wished to marry the man she chooses. So she left her home the morning after her 18th birthday, without a single penny of her parents money, and now working as their barista, while writing on her spare time.

“What is it that you guys do, anyway?”

“We used to attend balls, and charity events, where there are champagne and caviar and shit”, Penelope paused, “And my mother who apparently had her mind left back in regency England, had wanted us to catch a husband” Penelope rolled her eyes. “She made me wear these ugly yellow frocks…, wait I think I still got the picture” Penelope scrolled her phone and showed them a picture of her, wearing a very orange dress, posing shyly next to a cupid statue. To be rather honest, it looked like cupid was taking a picture with a single plump orange.

“Oh my god that’s hideous” Sophie almost shouted.

“What was she thinking?!” Kate yelled.

“Joan Rivers will lock you up in fashion jail if she sees you in that” Lucy added.

“She said, yellow is a happy color, and a happy girl would snare a husband.”

The other 3 girls looked confused, “Yes, I also couldn’t comprehend the inner workings of her brain. She told me not to read too many books once, because that’ll make me confused my thoughts.”

“What?” Kate said, bewildered.

“She’s so ridiculous...” Sophie said with her voice alarmingly small, a single teardrop left her eyes.

“Sophie what’s wrong darling” Lucy took Sophie’s hand and stared at her keenly.

“It must be really nice to have a ridiculous mother, even if she’s ridiculous” Sophie wiped the tears of her face, “I miss Mary, Kate” She turned to Kate, who was looking at her with a sad smile. “I grew up a lot at Kate’s house. I consider Mary to be my honorary mother, or my mother really. She had showed me motherly love and kindness, when my own stepmother, Araminta, never considered me her daughter.” Sophie explained to Lucy and Penelope.

“Araminta?” Penelope asked. “Not Araminta as in... Araminta Gunningworth?”

“Yes, well that’s her new name. I haven’t been in contact with her for, I don’t know, 8 years now?”

“Pfft, that woman got what she deserved Soph.” Penelope said with a small smile.

“What do you mean?” Kate asked with a raised brow.

“She married a sickly wealthy guy, Albert Gunningworth, thinking she would be rich after he died. But the truth was the old man was penniless and was borrowing money left and right. When he died, his debt collectors knocked on her door and kicked her out of his mansion. No one knows where she is right now.”

“I don’t know why but it makes me so damn happy” Kate grinned.

“It’s karma bitch” Lucy said with added sass.

They laughed. They spent the night gossiping away and discussing their plans for the future. Kate had felt grateful for Sophie’s girls night idea. It had definitely bond them together, deeply, in this sisterhood. At moments like this Kate knew, whatever the future has in store for them, they are going to be okay.

Chapter Text

inspired by this tumbler post by sharmasandcorgis.

sentences in italic represents Kate's inner thoughts.

 

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It had been 2 weeks since Anthony Bridgerton last stepped on their café. It also had been 2 weeks since Anthony Bridgerton liked or commented anything on their Instagram page.

It was very quiet. It was too quiet.

Kate hadn’t realized how much she waited for the eldest Bridgerton to comment on their Instagram post. Hadn’t realized how much she longed for his barbs. The rush she would’ve felt when she was thinking of a clever response for his sometimes mean comments. She had been doing exactly that for the last 4 months. Now he just vanished from the face of the earth. As if he never even existed.

Is he finally tired of this café? And decided to aim another?

Kate should feel relieved, but the thing is, she did not. This is everything she had wished for since the beginning. Now that she got it why didn’t she feel relieved?

She felt rather sad, empty even.

No banter, no mean comments to reply back to. Kate couldn’t help but think about his wellbeing, she had been worrying for his health. Making up scenarios in her head where he might not be able to open his Instagram.

Is he dead? Is he stranded in the middle of nowhere? Where is he?

What if he got kidnapped and held hostage somewhere?

No that’s ridiculous Katharine, he’s a grown ass man.

Kate sighed in front of the tv. The movie Sophie and she picked didn’t seem to matter anymore to her. The popcorn bowl between them had been left untouched for the longest time.

Kate was still in her reverie when Sophie paused the movie.

Sophie turned her head to Kate, “What is the matter, Kate? You have sighed three times ever since the movie started. And its Shrek! Your favorite!”

“What? No! I’m fine, I’m just really immersed in the movie you know.”

“Don’t you lie to me Katharine, I’ve known you since forever...”, Sophie threathened “You have had that sad expression on your face since he stopped replying to our post Kate.”

“How do you…” Kate startled

“You think I didn’t notice?” Sophie let out a small laugh.

“I’m just worried” Kate said with a small voice.

“About him?”, Sophie teased.

“Ye-, What? No! about the café of course, I’m worried that our sales would go down.” Kate retorted.

“But our sales haven’t gone down.”, Sophie couldn’t hide the amusement from her question.

“It might” Kate insisted.

“Alright, it might. Even if then, you don’t feel any single bit of worry to the man?”

“Nope”

“Are you sure?”

“Yep”

“So, if I told you that this morning, I got a call from Penelope that she heard a gossip that Anthony had had an accident and now he is in a hospital you would not care?”

“He had an accident?! Is he okay?” Kate looked heartbroken.

“Well, he might”

“What? What do you mean?” Seeing her best friend’s amused expression, Kate sighed, “Penelope didn’t tell you such thing, didn’t she?”

“Nope”

“Sophie! Don’t do that” Kate covered her face with her palms.

“Now, will you admit to me that you worry about him?”

“No”

“Not even a tiny bit? You seemed heartbroken when I mentioned him getting in an accident.”

Kate let out a heavy sigh, “Okay, maybe just a little bit.” Kate admitted while pouting.

“didn’t seem that it’s only a tiny bit sis” Sophie added, and Kate did not respond.

Sophie had wanted to add ‘And you still have the nerve to say that you’re not in love with this man?’ But she decided against it. She would prefer if Kate figure it out herself. So, she replayed the movie instead.

 

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It was Saturday evening, and it was supposed to be their girls night.  But Penelope had cancelled because she is expected to arrive at her little sister’s engagement dinner with her family. Sophie too had cancelled, claiming she had to take care a personal matter, and she had not explained anything to Kate. which was extremely odd.

Kate decided they were still going to close early. Since that week had been very hectic and hellish for the café. Lucy and she deserved this break. She let Lucy went home earlier, because she intended to do some more paperwork in the café. It had been 3 hours since Lucy left, she was kind enough to put the closed sign on the front door so that the customer wouldn’t come in. Kate still slumped on her seat by the window, looking at what seemed to endless numbers.

The sound of rain broke her focus from her work.

“Oh my god, I hope there’s no thunder.” She said to herself.

She hated the thunder. She despised it. She would get jittery, and she would curl up into a ball on the floor and cried like a baby. It had always been like that ever since she was a child. She didn’t know the reason behind her behavior, she always joked that maybe thunder was her kryptonite.

When she was small, she would curl up in her parents’ bed while they sang her to sleep. Now as she got older, she got the help from her personal best friend on rainy days, the noise cancelling headphones. The one thing she forgot to bring today.

She contemplated whether she should stay here or go home in the rain. She finally decided it is better to stay here than being paralyzed on her way home. She would just focus on her work, and blast comforting songs through the speakers.

Then, the front doorbell chimed.

“I’m sorry we-re-” Kate looked up but got interrupted.

“Kate” Anthony Bridgerton, the man she had longed for, stood in front of her with his shirt wet from the rain.

“Closed.” Kate finished her sentence, then said “Anthony.”

You’re alive!

They stared at each other for far too long, both lost in each other’s longing eyes.

Kate had not realized how much she missed him. All she wanted to do in that moment was to punch him in the face because she was so angry at him. Angry because he didn’t tell her where he was, angry because she had been worried sick about him, angry because she…she cared. But if Kate was being truly honest to herself, she didn’t want to punch him, nor did she want to scream at him or blame him, instead, she wanted to hug him. She wanted to ask him to not do that again, she wanted to ask him to care about her too. But she couldn’t. She shouldn’t.

She broke their silence by not saying what she wanted to say, “I’m sorry but Penny and Lucy had gone home, since we do close early on Saturday nights.”

“Ah shame…” He looked away from her.

Kate knew she had to shun him off, tell him to return on Monday, but she didn’t want to. Because she would like to be here, with him. Alone. She wanted his company to herself.

“But, we still do have some finger sandwiches if you fancy staying, or tea?” She added.

Anthony turned his eyes back to her, smiling, he said, “Yes, that would be lovely, its freezing.”

“Wait I think we do have some towel under the counter.” Kate got u from her seat and walked to the counter.

“Here you go, dry yourself”, She fetched the towel and tossed it to Anthony, which he caught perfectly. “I’m going to brew the tea, is jasmine okay?”

“Yes” He replied.

Kate retreated to the kitchen.

When Kate was sure she was out of Anthony’s line of sight, she let out the breath she didn’t noticed she was holding. She felt calm wash over her, her heart was pounding, her eyes watered a bit.

He’s alive!

She was relieved. She was not sure why, but that’s what she felt.

She was about to get the tea pot to the stove when,

BOOM!

“aaah!” She threw herself to the floor and closed her ears. The tea pot fell to the floor.

She didn’t remember anything for the next 10 minutes.

 

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Anthony heard a loud bang from the kitchen, instinctively, he rose from his seat and sprinted there.

Worry had spread through his body.

He found her trembling and sobbing on the floor.

He quickly sat beside her and shook her by her arms.

“Kate are you okay!” He asked loudly. Now, worry’s friend, panic, spreading all over his body.

She didn’t reply.

“Hey, it’s going to be okay” Anthony patted her back.

Anthony held her closely in his arms, slowly running his hands through her hair. Whispering soft murmurs of comfort to her ear.

“Tell me a story,” she said, her voice extremely small.

“What shall I tell you about milady?”

“Where have you been?” She asked. She fluttered open her lids and looked into his eyes.

Anthony smiled at her sadly. “I was in Kent, doing some of my family’s business, taking care of my family’s country home. My sister Daphne just gave birth to her third child, Caroline, the little sister of those two girls you saw 2 weeks ago.”, he said.

Kate still stared at him.

Anthony instantly knew what she was actually asking, “The reception sucks there, and truthfully, what should I comment about?”, he faked a chuckle.

“Please don’t do that again…” Kate closed her eyes again.

“What?”, He asked with confusion.

“Disappearing suddenly like that.”

Anthony had wanted to ask her why. But he settled that he would ask it later. Now, her wellbeing is more important. He was still holding her. The woman who burned his mouth, the woman who he loathed with every fiber of his being, the woman who dwelled on his dreams, the woman who fit perfectly in his arms, the woman who he cared very much.

He didn’t want her to feel sad, or lonely. He wanted her to be happy. He wanted to be able to see her smile. He wanted her to enjoy herself in her own skin, he wanted her to have the life she deserved.

At that moment, he realized he wanted to be a part of her life, He wanted her to want him to be a part of her life. He wanted her to want him, and he wanted to tell her that. But he couldn’t. he shouldn’t. He wanted to say so much thing to her. He wanted to tell her all about him, about his plans for their future, about all these feelings he had toward her.

Yet, “Okay.” was the only thing he could say.

 

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The next thing she remembered was Anthony sitting beside her on the kitchen floor, her in his arms, he whispered soft comforting words to her.

The thunder had stopped.

Her breath calmed down a bit, he noticed that she was not as tense as before. He let her out from his embrace and their gazes met once again. He stared longingly at her, pushing her remaining tears away with his thumb. Anthony slowly leaned down his face onto hers. Kate parted her lips with anticipation. Both of them definitely feeling the tension between them.

His lips were inches away from hers, their breaths mingled with each other.

 “Are you feeling better now?” he asked, slowly pulling away.

Kate felt a rush of disappointment, “Yes” she uttered.

Anthony smiled. He stood up and lent his hand to Kate, “Now, shall we make some tea and finish the finger sandwiches?”

 

They spent the night talking to each other, learning new things about one another, forgetting the fact that they once embraced, on the kitchen floor of some small café in Mayfair, almost sharing a kiss.

She had learned about his family, how he took his tea, milk no sugar, about his siblings, and in return, Kate told him about her family, Mary, Edwina, and Sophie.

At the end of the night Anthony promised to her that he would always soothe Kate in the rain, and for that to happen they needed to exchange their numbers.

 

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2 new notifications

Wannabe critic guy: I was sleeping, was that thunder?

Wannabe critic guy: my upstairs neighbor like to move his furniture and it sounds like thunder. I really can’t tell the difference…

Chapter Text

inspired by this tumblr post by sharmasandcorgis.

 

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1 New Notification

Wannabe critic guy: “I’m in Scotland today, it’s raining here, is it raining there? I’m worried”

 

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“You’ve been spending a lot of your time smiling ear to ear now darling, I’m worried” Sophie said while chewing her breakfast.

“I’m just happy because I have a good life, good friends, and this good breakfast” Kate smiled sheepishly.

“Okay don’t try to change the topic. You know it won’t work”

“It’s true! I am definitely not changing the topic”

Sophie shot Kate a look of disbelief.

“Your pancake IS the topic” Kate insisted, as she stared at her plate, her finger pointing to it. Sophie rolled her eyes.

“Also, you’ve been closing the café later and later these days, is something going on Katie?”

“Whaaaat? No, I just thought it would be better for our bills, you know”

“Why oh why do I have a feeling that you are hiding something from me” She squinted her eyes in false suspicion.

“You know I wouldn’t do that”

Sophie knew for a fact that Kate was definitely hiding something. But she also knew that if she pressed on, Kate would turn her question to her. Minding she also had something to hide, she decided to change her tactics.

“Are you building a secret tunnel?” Sophie said simply.

Kate chuckled “No.”

Sophie widened her eyes, “Did you discover Narnia beneath the kitchen sink?”

“No”

“Perhaps a rendezvous with a secret paramour?” Sophie tilted her head back and pressed the back of her left hand onto her forehead, faking a swoon.

Sophie saw Kate’s eyes widen for a second, before she answered “Ew no.”  

‘Bingo’ Sophie thought.

Sophie gasp “Are you making meth with Walter White?”

Kate laughed “Well, you know, we need to pay the bills somehow Soph”

Sophie hit Kate’s arms playfully, “You know you need to tell me someday right.”

Kate finished her breakfast quickly and rose from the chair, “Okay let me just phone Walter real quick so I can tell you his recipe.” She said as she hurried to fetch her phone in her room.

Kate returned to the kitchen with her phone pressed to her ear, “Oh hey Walter, can you tell me your meth recipe?”

Sophie just stared at her from the breakfast bar.

“Tell Sophie that the recipe is on your website. As there is NOTHING to hide. Okay Walter, I’ll definitely tell her. Bye bye.”

Sophie chuckled, as she shook her head in disbelief.

“See, recipe on the internet, no secret recipe, nothing to hide.” Kate smiled at Sophie’s fake frown before plunging her back onto the sofa.

Kate was not hiding anything. She just wasn’t sure she wanted to tell Sophie about her friendship with Anthony Bridgerton. It was not special in any way, Kate didn’t know all of Sophie’s friends, and Sophie didn’t know all of hers, so why should Kate tell Sophie about him? Besides, if Kate tell Sophie, she would probably think they are a couple in the making, which we are not! Kate had been telling herself that for a few weeks now. However she denied it though, she cannot help but felt a tug of her heart strings whenever she think about him, about them.

Her friendship with him was the most peculiar thing. But was it really friendship though? Kate was not sure this thing with him is indeed friendship. They started this by hating each other, getting on each other’s nerves all the time, bantering, and quarrelling in social media. Now, he occasionally brought flowers (expensive ones!) for the four women when he visited the café. It used to be him commenting about Kate’s patience (or lack thereof). Now, he always called her when it rains. Sure, maybe they’ve grown to be more mature, civil, but is it a friendship per se?

If Kate is being completely and utterly honest with herself, she wished it would be more than a friendship. She would admit that she liked talking to Anthony. She liked talking to him about anything and everything, or maybe just mundane things like her day (or his). She liked getting to know him better than anyone else, like how he never told any of his siblings that he is a big fanboy of Bee Gees. She liked their late night tea chat every other night after the café closed.

Kate liked having him all to herself. Which she knew, is kind of ridiculous if she said it out loud. But what can she say? She liked this. She liked this thing they share, just the two of them. He seemed so attentive, and caring. She liked the memes he would send her, she liked their inside jokes, she liked the business advice, she also liked the occasional banter still.

Kate sighed. All of this are making her brain gooped like slime.

What IS this thing?

 

@@@@@

 

“Is that a photography tutorial book I see?” Anthony pointed his finger at Kate’s laptop behind the counter.

“Yes. I am learning. For our Instagram.” Kate replied.

“Oh! Okay. Funny actually, I know a guy who throws this cool food photography workshops every Sunday.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, He’s really good, I can introduce you to him.”

“You’d do that?” Kate is pleasantly surprised.

“Yeah! I was actually planning to go there myself this Sunday, I can definitely bring you with me.”

“Oh cool! Wait you mean this Sunday?”

“Yeah, can you?”

“Yeah! yeah I’m free.”

“It’s settled then. A date.” Anthony smiled.

“Fuck off” Kate faking offense, “It’s 5 pounds please.”

“Here you go” Anthony gave her the money and retreated to find a seat.

When he left, Kate cannot stop herself from smiling.

“Is that what I heard it is?” Sophie peeked her head through the kitchen door.

“Yep, it is what it is, Soph” Penelope smirked.

“What?” Kate faked her innocence.

“Like a date? A date?” Sophie walked quickly to Kate and held both of her hands.

“You heard that?!”

Sophie squealed in delight.

“Also, I don’t think I am the only one who just start noticing that you’ve actually been nice to Anthony these past weeks, Kate” Lucy smirked.

“What do you mean Luce? I am just treating him like I treat other customers?”

“Well, you would usually snicker at him, but now you just use your customer service voice.”

“No, I do not!” Kate defended herself.

“Yep, gotta agree to that” Penelope nodded.

“Wha-, Okay fine, what’s wrong with that?! I am a professional.”

“Nothing, nothing wrong with it at all dearest” Sophie kissed Kate on the cheek, “Good luck on your date”, She winked before she left the café.

“It is not a date, he was just joking” Kate tried to convince Penelope and Lucy. Both answered with looks of disbelief.

“Ugh fine”, Kate turned her back to get back to her laptop.

“Kanthony for life”, Lucy faked a deep voice.

“I cannot believe you guys!” Kate chuckled while rolling her eyes.

 

@@@@@

 

They agreed to meet at the photography studio at 10am. Kate thought it would be a brief ‘date’. She thought they would just finish the 3-hour workshop, maybe get some lunch, and she would be home, back in her pajamas at 3pm.

The first part of her expectation was on point though, they did finish the 3-hour workshop, which was a little bit tiring, but fun. Then, Anthony introduced her to the photography guy, Gareth. Then Gareth invited them for lunch at his apartment. He had this neighbor who had this cool urban herb garden. As a quite inexperienced single dad, he prepared too much pesto for him and his own children, so he needed people to help him eat it. That’s how Kate and Anthony found themselves eating lunch at Gareth’s and the herb farmer’s roof, eating amazing pesto made from fresh basils, with Gareth, his neighbor, Phillip, and Phillip’s two small children, Oliver and Amanda.

After getting to know each other over lunch, Amanda formed quite an attachment to Kate, and had asked her to accompany her to the Arcade. She complained that her daddy is almost always quite busy with the plants and that he never could take them to the arcade. Gareth gasped at Amanda’s notion and persuaded Phillip to take them to the arcade. After some time, reluctant Phillip finally agreed to take the children (Kate, Anthony and Gareth included) to the arcade.

The children practically ran out of excitement when they reached the arcade. They spent quite a nice day there, smacked some aliens, did some dance battles, played mario kart and Anthony had won Kate and Amanda each a necklace from the claw machine. Amanda’s pendant was rose, and Kate’s was a bee. After hours had passed in the neon lights and loud comical sounds of the arcade, after the children were starting to feel tired, that was when Gareth and Phillip agreed to take the children back home and called it a night.

After they both part ways with the quirky neighbors, Kate and Anthony found themselves hungry again, and went to hunt the best slice of pizza around town. They shared approximately 10 slices of pizzas from 10 different shops, and of course, they disagreed on which is the best slice.

That day felt like a dream to her.

At the end of the night, they found themselves walking around Hyde Park, discussing about their life.

“…And that’s why I never let Colin to be around my food ever again.”

Kate chuckled.

“He really does love food so much does he?”

“He does, I never ever see him looking at another human being like he sees food” Anthony chuckled, “The love from his eyes just pours out.”

“I wanted to ask something…, but you don’t have to answer if it makes you uncomfortable.” Kate hesitated.

Anthony raised an eyebrow, “…Sure?”

“How come you never talk about your father?”

“Well, it’s not a very pleasant topic” Anthony smiled sadly.

“Okay” Kate nodded slowly, knowing that his father’s death left a big scar on him.

“Please don’t get me wrong, he was a great father, the best a boy could ask for really.” Anthony paused, “But his passing, changed me on a cellular level.”

Kate nodded again.

“I am practically a mutant now.” Anthony added, earning a laugh from Kate.

“Anyway, I should take you home.” Anthony smiled at her.

They both walked silently to the tube, side by side, enjoying the warm summer breeze. The vehicle they got on were almost empty, filled with just a couple of drunken youngsters. Kate sat on one of the seats, while Anthony stood leaning to the pole near the door; their eyes on each other, both smiling. It was electric.

Still, they kept the comfortable silence when they walked from the station to her apartment.

“This is my place” Kate said sweetly.

Both of them smiled while looking at each other, not wanting the day to end.

“I had a really great time with you today Kate.”

“Thanks for today Anthony.” She kissed him on the cheek.

Anthony smiled, walking away, “Thanks pal.”

Kate felt a painful jab to her chest.

Chapter Text

inspired by this tumblr post by sharmasandcorgis.

 

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Kate was stunned. ‘Pal’ is not exactly a word someone would call you if they’re well, interested in you, romantically at least. But hey, it’s just names, right? People can say ‘babe’ platonically and ‘bro’ romantically. She thought. However hard she tried to convince herself though, it did not help with the anguish she felt deep within her chest.

Kate opened the apartment door, welcomed by the faint lighting coming from the kitchen. She noticed Sophie was sitting on the breakfast bar, pajamas on, sipping her favorite chamomile tea while reading.

“Hey, how was your date sweetie?” Sophie looked up from her book, smiling sweetly.

Kate tried to suppress her disappointment, “Aren’t you supposed to be sleeping? You do plan on baking in 3 hours right?”

“Well, I knew better and slept through the day”, Sophie eyed her as she took off her shoes, noticing that there was not even a slight smile on her friend’s face. Sophie hesitated to say her next sentence but said it anyway, “You know I cannot not know about the date of my favorite friend and her lover”, She tried to say it a very light and cheerful tone.

Kate answered almost immediately, “It was not a date Sophie.”, Kate let out a small sigh.

“Can you tell me what it is then? What is an event in which 2 people who are attracted to each other go out together to get to know each other better are called?” Sophie asked in an extremely soft motherly tone. She tried to keep herself smiling, even though she could feel the disappointment Kate felt.

“He is not attracted to me. I think”, Kate said, still standing in front of the shoe rack in their dark living room.

Sophie looked skeptical, “What happened Kate? What made you think so?” She stood up from her seat and stood before Kate. Looking up to Kate’s face, pouring all the love and care she has for her.

“He called me pal.” Kate said in a small voice.

“What?” Sophie did not believe what she just heard.

“He called me pal, Soph.” Kate took a deep breath, “It was going so great, but then before he left, he said ‘thanks pal’” Kate said while mimicking Anthony’s tone.

“PAL?! What the fuck does pal mean?!” Sophie furrowed her eyebrows, failing to comprehend the inner workings of one Anthony Bridgerton’s mind.

“I don’t know…But what I know is, I-, we are not-, he- is not attracted to me like that.” Kate said it as if it was a question.

“Kate, are you okay?”

Kate smiled, “Yes, I’m just disappointed I guess.”

Sophie nodded slowly.

“I know I haven’t been able to admit it to you, or to anyone really” Kate looked at the floor of their apartment, “But I guess I like him? Kind of? You know?”

“I know”

“And I thought he liked me too. I never considered he didn’t.” Kate paused, “I can admit that my ego is crushed”, Kate laughed painfully, tears brimming in her eyes.

“No.” Sophie said sharply, “Fuck him Kate. Look at you, you’re a fucking 10. If he doesn’t see that, well that is his loss.”

Kate chuckled.

“He needs to get his eyes checked up because he doesn’t see you for how much you worth. Fuck him Kate. You deserve someone who sees your value and treats you like a freaking desi goddess that you are.” Sophie said with fervor.

Kate laughed, a single teardrop falling from her eye.

Sophie wiped the tears away from Kate’s cheek.

Kate hugged her best friend tightly, “Thank you.”, then she pulled away and kissed Sophie’s forehead, “I love you, Sophie.” Kate smiled and walked to her bedroom door, “Goodnight.”

She stripped her outfit she had on for the day, changing into a comfy large faded pink t-shirt and a mismatched polka dot shorts. She sat on her simple vanity, taking off her sunscreen and make up off. She stared at herself in the mirror afterwards.

She never thought she was that pretty. She was decent she guessed. Through the years she got better and better at looking at herself in a more positive light. But there was a time where she didn’t care about her own reflection. From an early childhood she always thought that she will give up on her beauty because her brain is the one who will take her places. She invested herself in her studies, there’s nothing wrong with that of course.

But there was also a part of her younger self who hated other girls who took care of their appearance. She thought that they’re wasting their time with all of that beauty stuff, she always thought them as less than her. She knew better now.

Only after she went to Uni where she found herself in the company of some smart, brilliant and beautiful women, she understood the beauty of female friendships, the one she took granted for with Sophie. She finally understood the concepts of patriarchy and internalized misogyny in our society. Then she made up her mind that she didn’t want to be that girl again. She didn’t want to be the woman who belittles other women. Women should support each other. Women should back each other up through thick and thin.

Then a few years ago, she finally admitted that the reason she hated on those pretty girls when she was younger was because she feared feeling less than them. That she was insecure of her own body. She wanted the validation from other boys that she is not like other girls; that she worth more. She wanted to protect herself from her own opinions, because she knew if she let herself think that beauty matters, she will beat herself up. That one was hard to admit, but she glad she did.

She couldn’t say that she is rid of all her insecurities though, because to be honest, who doesn’t have them? Everyone has one of those days where their insecurity just dictates the mood of the day. But these days, since the café started really, she hadn’t really thought about them, partly because she was busy, and partly because how much fun she had with her friends at the café. The support and love they shared truly helped her in so many ways.

However, this incident, this brought out insecurities she buried in her psyche, the one she hadn’t thought about in a long-long time. This brought out the ugly thoughts she had of herself, the one she ignored daily because it was false and irrelevant.

Kate sighed. She will be fine of course, she was a grown woman, she could live without him surely. She just needed some time. She couldn’t believe she had her expectations went up high. She couldn’t believe that for a minute she even thought that she doesn’t have the chance with the handsome Mr. Bridgerton. For a second, she thought of course he wouldn’t like her, look at her? She is nothing compared to him.

But that’s not fair, wasn’t it? Telling yourself your value is less because a man decided he doesn’t like you like that. She hated herself for that sometimes. She’s a BAMF. She could do this, she owns her own successful café and she is content with her life. Who tf is Anthony Bridgerton anyway? She didn’t want to be a girl who values herself from the validation of other men, she is not that girl anymore.

It’s still a working progress of course.

She could admit that hating Anthony Bridgerton is easier in her head. The thing is, he didn’t deserve the hate, they were friends, he was nice to her. Everything is great between them, unfortunately she just let herself believe that they are more than that.

It’s going to be okay. It will fade. You will be fine.

Maybe in time.

 

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The next day, Monday 3pm

The day was incredibly uneventful. As usual the café was packed in the mornings but slowed down when it reached 2pm. Sophie had gone home during lunch time, and Penelope asked for some day off after lunch today because she wanted to attend some convention. So, it was just Kate and Lucy at the café, both slouched on the counter watching Netflix while waiting for the next customer.

The front doorbell chimed. The both of them jumped from their seat.

Kate noticed it was the artist boy Sophie had asked about a few weeks earlier. She asked about what food he ordered, which is a bit weird because Sophie didn’t usually do that. He had brought 4 women with him. 1 woman Kate noticed, was Violet, Anthony’s mother, the one that visited the café weeks ago. Kate also noticed that all of them shared the same chestnut colored hair, the one similar to Anthony’s.

Are they his siblings?

The front doorbell chimed again.

Anthony Bridgerton strode in with a charming smile plastered across his face and a bouquet of red tulips in his arms. However, it didn’t last long because the sight of his siblings and his mother standing in front of him wiped all the smug away. His face immediately went pale.

“Anthony dearest” Violet beamed at Anthony.

“Mum” He paused, “And Daph, Ben, Fran, Cyn, what a lovely surprise.” 3 of his siblings didn’t acknowledge him though, still busy reading the menu and looking at the glass case filled with pastries.

Kate snorted at the exchange.

The only one who acknowledge him was Daphne, “Anthony, a surprise, do you go here often?”

“Yes dear, he is a regular” Violet said to her.

“I’ll have the lemon tart and a hot mocca please”, Hyacinth said to Kate, then she turned to face Anthony, instantly curious about the bouquet he had in his arms. She pointed at the bouquet, “Is that red tulips?” Hyacinth asked.

Benedict turned his head swiftly when she mentioned the tulips, furrowing his eyebrows “Who’s that for?”

“Extremely peculiar” Francesca murmured.

“Well, that’s none of your business, brother.”

“Interesting, a mystery” Hyacinth smirked.

“Well, the fact that the tulips are red narrows down the prospective receiver by a significant amount isn’t it dear?” Violet winked at Anthony.

After some lengthy ‘investigation’ led by Hyacinth, in which she made some strong (unfortunately false) accusations and guesses about who the flowers are for, it was then unanimously decided that Anthony had to pay because he refused to tell them who the flowers are for, and because he is the eldest. The brood left him at the counter to pay while they picked a table.

“Rambunctious bunch” Kate chuckled to Anthony

“Just wait till you meet Eloise. That girl will talk your ears off.” He said while giving the money to Kate.

Before he departed to the table, he put the beautiful tulips on the counter.

“It’s for you Kate.”, Anthony smiled at her.

“Thank you”, Kate blushed.

She could hear a faint gasp from the Bridgerton’s table.

 

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Monday, 8pm.

The café had closed hours ago, Lucy had gone home, all the utensils are cleaned, and all the chairs are tidied. Kate was alone sitting on the counter, finishing some legal paperwork. Not long after, she stretched her arms and glanced at the clock in her laptop, considering mentally to go home early and relax today.

She tidied her laptop and put it in her bag, then she glanced at the red tulips Anthony gave her just hours ago.

Weird man

She didn’t want to overthink what the flowers mean.

It’s just some friendly flowers

Kate walked towards the front door to lock it up, but before she reached the door, Anthony Bridgerton got in, startling her.

“Holy fuck”

“Oh my god Kate I’m so sorry”, Anthony appeared with a worried look.

“Anthony, what are you doing here?”

“I thought we could have tea?”

Now she really wanted to run away. She could handle her heart when there are a lot of people, but not this, not here. Her heart could betray her head here, where there’s just the two of them. She didn’t trust herself to be in the same room alone with Anthony Bridgerton and not get her heart beating twice as fast. She needed to escape.

“I’m sorry I cannot have tea today”, Kate said to him icily while she locked the front doors, “Come, you can go out through the back door.”

Anthony did as she said.

Both of them are in the café’s kitchen, Kate putting her coat on and tidying her purse. Anthony standing 3 steps away behind her.

“I actually wanted to say something”

“Is something wrong?” She turned to him

He didn’t answer.

She glanced at the flowers at her arms, “Do you want the flowers back?”

“No”

“No?”

“Yes, no.”

“Is it a yes? Or a no pal?” Kate was confused.

“No, I don’t want it back, I just wanted to say something” He looked nervous.

“I’m listening”

Anthony took a deep breath and looked at her in the eyes, “First of all, I am sorry for ‘Pal’, I didn’t know what I was thinking, my brain is just a bowl of soup, and I was trying to find something that is friendly, but not overly creepy romantic-” Anthony sighed.

“My point is…I know we’re off on the wrong foot, but can I actually take you out for dinner sometime? Or coffee? Or whatever you like, I’ll pay coffee for you here if you want, if you’d join me in my table” He walked slowly towards her.

“Anthony, I don’t understand”

“I adore you Kate, very much” He stared deeply into her eyes. Holding both of her hands with his, pressing it to his chest, “I wanted to say this yesterday, but I chickened out. I didn’t even know why.” He paused, “I can’t think straight when I’m near you, I feel alive when you are beside me.”

Kate gaped at his confession.

“You know I am afraid of letting people into my life, but I’ve made up my mind, I wanted to risk it, for you, only for you, Kate. Because you, you worth more than all my fears.” He stroked her cheek softly, “With you, I’d rather suffer the heartbreak of losing you rather than not having you at all.” Both of his hands cupped her face.

Kate’s eyes are brimmed with tears.

“I know chivalry is dead and shit, but I would prove to you that my adoration and love is true. For as long as you want me to.”

“Dumbass” her tears escaped, then she kissed him. Her back against the kitchen counter, and his warm body against her front. The kiss seared into both of their soul.

“You have no idea, how I ache, how long I waited-, how long I wanted to do this, you have no idea”, He said before kissing her deeper, with more fervor and passion.

To be honest it was probably the most passionate kiss in both of their lives.

“Tell me what you want, I’ll give it to you”

“Just love me, Anthony. Just love me.”

 

@@@@@

 

6 new notifications

8:38 PM

My Sophie: Kate, I forgot to tell you something

My Sophie: I planted several small cameras around the café for security purposes okay 😊

8:45 PM

My Sophie: OH MY GOD KATE WHO ARE YOU FUCKING ON THE COUNTER WHAT THE FUCK!

My Sophie: ISTG I AM GOING TO KILL YOU.

My Sophie: IS IT ANTHONY THE CRITICS GUY?!

My Sophie: oh it is. okay nvm everything I said. I’ll just delete all the security footage in the morning and clean the counter with alcohol before I bake. I love you, have a good time 😉