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Stumble and Fall

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Simon Basset was a practical man.

He was very logical and set in how he did things.

On work mornings, he was up early to answer emails, then he did a workout in the gym of his penthouse before getting some coffee, heading into the office, staying there until late, and getting home just in time to eat something before bed and doing it all over again. But this Monday he was forced to change his routine when his closest Starbucks was closed for renovations so he headed over to a smaller coffee shop down the street from his work.

Even though he was the boss, he tried to be at the HHC offices on time so he could set a standard for his employees.

But when he went to check his watch for a second, he bumped into something that splattered a hot liquid all over the front of his shirt.

“Bloody hell!” He screeched as the heat scorched his skin.

“Oh, I am so sorry!” Someone said.

“God, that’s hot.” He said through gritted teeth as he looked down at his completely ruined white shirt.

“I’m so sorry! I should have been looking where I was going.” The person said again.

“No, it’s fine.” He grumbled. It was good that he had backup shirts in his office for things just like this but they were rarely used.

“No, I…” As Simon looked up, his eyes were immediately drawn to probably the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, even though she looked completely flushed and frazzled. He let out a soft smile that seemed to make her blush even more. After a moment, she straightened up her posture as she gestured to his shirt. “Um… I can, um, pay for dry cleaning if you want.”

“That’s alright.” He chuckled, his initial anger all gone. “I can manage.”

“Oh okay, I…” She ran her hand through her hair as she took a deep breath. “Again, I’m so sorry, I was just trying to get away from…”

“Daphne!” A voice called behind her.

The lady cringed. “Him.”

Simon looked over her shoulder and noticed an older gentleman pushing to get out of the coffee shop that she must have come out of. He seemed desperate to get to her and judging by the nervous look on her face, she was desperate to get away from him. Any other day, Simon would just turn and go on about his business, but against his usual nature, he decided to intervene.

Simon looked back at her. “Stare into my eyes.”

She looked back up at him. “What?”

“Trust me.”

She looked hesitant but she did as he asked. He immediately took his briefcase free hand and swept her long auburn hair behind her ear before leaning closer and whispering “Now, giggle like I said something funny.”

She did so and out of the corner of his eye, he saw the man freeze. The man regarded him for a moment and Simon raised a brow, daring him to come closer, causing the older man to scurry away in the other direction.

Simon stood back up, slowly removing his hand from her soft skin. “He’s gone.”

“Daphne” turned back and saw the man’s retreating figure before turning back to Simon, relief written across her face. “Um, thank you for that. Nigel has been trying to get me to go out with him for months and I don’t have the heart to keep telling him no.”

Simon nodded as he stuffed his hand in his coat pocket. “Truly, it’s no problem.”

The woman smiled up at him and Simon felt his heart skip a beat. God, she was pretty. She messed with her hair again before noticing the time on her watch. “Um, I have to… go. But again sorry about the shirt and thank you for your help.”

“You’re welcome.” He said as she started to walk around him. He was about to walk forward into the cafe to get himself some coffee but he stopped. Why was he letting a girl like that get away? “Wait can I…” He started to say as he turned back only to find she was nowhere to be found. “Get your number?” He said to the empty air. She must have really been late for wherever she had to go.

Simon sucked his teeth as he walked into the coffee shop to pick up some napkins to clean his shirt a bit but also to keep himself from chasing after the woman.

The urge he had to do so was completely impractical.

“That was just about the most adorable meet-cute I have ever seen.”

“I know right.”

“She comes here all the time, does he?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Hurry, go give him a rewards card. Say it’s a promotion. We cannot let this love story die.”

Simon Basset was not looking for a romantic relationship.

He liked his unattached lifestyle where he did not have to worry about caring for another human or managing their well-being. He liked being able to fuck whoever he wanted. But most importantly, he liked being alone.

Knowing all that, he was still flabbergasted at how his friend had convinced him to go on a double date with him, his wife, and his wife’s friend.

“I don’t know why I let you talk me into this.” Simon grumbled as he took another sip of his drink.

“Because I am your best friend.” Will smirked as he scrolled through his phone.

Simon scoffed before draining the rest of his glass. “That is debatable when you set me up on a blind date.”

“C’mon mate.” Will chuckled as he put down his phone. “Alice’s friend has been having a hard time with dating and…”

Simon cut him off. “What do you mean by a hard time?”

“As in…” Will shrugged. “She never goes on dates.”

Oh God, the boxer was trying to set him up with a desperate virgin, wasn’t he? “Does she want to go on dates?” He asked lightly, trying not to imply what he thought.


When Will did not continue, he added. “Is there something wrong with her?”

Will shook his head. “No, no. She is the sweetest girl you’ll ever meet, a bit shy at times, but very pretty and smart and easy to talk to.”

Simon narrowed his eyes. “If she’s so great, then why doesn’t she date?”

“From what Alice told me, overprotective older brothers that sabotage her dates and her being too nice.”

Overprotective brothers would definitely put a damper on her dating life but “Too nice?”

“There are just times when she doesn’t assert herself when she should.” Will admitted. “She’s that person who will accept a wrong dish at a restaurant and not ask for her actual meal.”

“She sounds like fun.” Simon rolled his eyes as he leaned back into his seat.

Will leaned forward onto the table, his hands folded. “Simon, please. Alice loves her dearly and I think she’s great too. Just give her a chance.”

Simon looked over at his friend and saw the pleading look in his eye, making him groan. He really wanted to say no but after all Alice and Will had done for him over the years, this was the first time that they asked for a favor. He should at least meet the girl before dismissing her completely. “Fine. But I need another drink before they get here.”

As Simon got out of the booth and started to walk back to the bar, he heard Will call “Well hurry back.”

Simon weaved through the throbbing crowd of people in the club, trying to imagine what excuses he could use to end the night early, but his thoughts were interrupted by bumping into someone and feeling something wet soak through the front of his shirt. He jumped back in anger and growled.

“Oh I am so sorry,” A feminine voice said, which made Simon tense up a bit. When women usually spilled a drink on him, they had an innocent and somewhat seductive look on their faces, hoping to hook up with him. When he was at university, he went along with the charade, but now he just found it annoying. 

But when Simon looked up from his shirt, he could feel his annoyance melting away as he gazed upon none other than his coffee shop girl from two weeks ago, who seemed to recognize him as well.

“You.” She said in a breathless tone.

He smirked a bit. Maybe this night would not be that bad after all. “You… Daphne right?”

The woman nervously smiled as she pushed her hair behind her ear. “Um, yes.” She frowned when looked back at his shirt before taking some napkins from the bar and patting down his chest. “I can’t believe I ruined your shirt… again.”

It was a black one, so you couldn’t see a stain on it, but he did smell fruity now. His smirk widened as her hands brushed over his lower abs and she blushed for a moment when she noticed how close she was to his pants.

“It kind of seems intentional at this point.” He said while grabbing a few more napkins.

“I assure you it’s not.” She chuckled as she threw away the soaked napkins before grasping her half-empty glass back in her hands. “Do you want me to pay for dry cleaning this time?”

Simon shook his head as he threw away the soiled napkins in his hand. “No, that’s quite alright.” He looked at her again and couldn’t help but smile a bit more. He knew that he should be preparing to meet his blind date but he could not let this girl slip away again. “So what are you doing here? Besides ruining shirts that is.”

She chuckled again. “Well, I…”

“Daff, Daphne.” Simon heard a familiar voice call. He looked to see Alice pushing through the crowd to approach them and when she arrived, she looked between Daphne and himself and smiled. “Oh good, you two have met. Daphne, this is Simon, the guy I was telling you about. Simon, meet Daphne, one of my best friends in the world.”

Simon looked back at the girl. She was his blind date? Oh, fate was being very kind to him tonight. “Well. Nice to officially meet you.”

She gave him a small smile. “You as well.”

After Simon got his drink, the three of them went back to the circular table he and Will had secured. Will scooted over into the middle of the booth to give Alice room to sit next to him. Simon was about to do the same for Daphne but she instead sat in the booth across from him, making him frown a bit. After getting situated, the group made some small talk but throughout it all, Daphne was pretty quiet. It seemed that she was shyer than Will let on. The married couple was noticing this too as they declared they wanted to head out to the dance floor.

“Come on, let’s boogie.” Alice cheered as she passed the now standing Daphne and dragged Will behind her. Will gave him a pointed look as the two made their way through the crowd.

“She is too excited to have a babysitter.” Simon remarked as Daphne sat back down.

She looked over at him and nodded. “Truly. But I babysit for them sometimes and if the kids are anything like they are with me, they deserve the night out.”

She did not say anything further, just went back to stirring her now almost empty drink.

“So…” Simon remarked.

“So…” She added.

Simon wanted to kick himself. He had been waiting for a chance to reconnect with this girl for two weeks and he was blowing it. Even though he had spent many a night with many women, he had no idea what to do with one he actually liked. “Daphne…”

“Can I just…” She interrupted as she let go of her straw to look over at him. When he didn’t try to continue, she pushed away her drink and leaned onto the table. “It’s very sweet of you to take them up their offer of going on a blind date with me but… You don’t have to pretend that you like me or anything.”

That took him back. He raised a brow at her. “What do you mean?”

She scoffed, leaning back as she played with her fingers. “I know I’m not the type of girl guys go for.”

That almost made Simon’s jaw drop. The woman was gorgeous, kind and while she was quiet, she was definitely the type of girl a guy would like to take on a date. “What?” He asked.

“Every date I go on always ends in, “I think we’ll be great friends”, and then I never hear from them again.” She shook her head. “At this point… I’m tired of pretending that I’ll be any more than a friend to guys.” Her gaze pierced him as she looked at him with pleading eyes. “So please don’t… pretend that you want me. I’d rather be rejected.”

Simon's mouth was actually ajar by this point. This beautiful woman was actually asking him to reject her. At the beginning of the night, he thought he wanted an easy out like this so he could find a good fuck for the night and be done. But looking at her, he knew didn’t want a quick fuck with another girl tonight and he certainly didn’t want to let her go. He wanted to know her better and to prove her wrong. Even with only knowing her for a brief time, he could tell she was something special. “What if I do want you?” He asked.

Daphne scoffed, shaking her head but Simon leaned forward. “I’m serious, that day at the coffee shop I wanted to ask you out but you rushed off.”

She looked back at him, truly shocked. “Really?”

“Yes. I really want to know you.” Simon admitted but she still looked hesitant about it, so he chuckled to try and calm her nerves. “How about we start over?” He held out his hand across the table. “Simon Basset, nice to meet you.”

She regarded his hand for a moment before reaching out and shaking it. “Daphne Bridgerton.”

“Bridgerton…” He had heard that name before at University. “Like Anthony Bridgerton?”

The woman frowned and took back her hand. “Yes, he’s my oldest brother. You know him?”

Simon shrugged. “I know of him. I think we went to Oxford at the same time and I think we had a few classes together.”


“Yeah, we didn’t talk much though. He was a real dick.” Simon said nonchalantly but then he remembered that he was talking to the man’s little sister. “Uh, I, I mean…”

Luckily, she was not mad at him at all, on the contrary, she burst out laughing. “No, you’re right.” She guffawed. “He can be a complete ass at times. But he’s my brother, so I have to love him I guess.” She shrugged. “But he’s definitely not my favorite brother, Colin is.”

Simon nodded. “Will said you have multiple brothers.”

“Try four brothers and three sisters.” She snickered.

His eyes widened. One of eight. “You’re kidding.”

She shook her head. “No. It’s Anthony, then our brothers, Benedict and Colin, then me, my sisters Eloise and Francesca, and my younger brother Gregory and my baby sister Hyacinth.”

He scoffed as he comprehended this new knowledge. He paused for a moment before scooting to the edge of his seat. “Are you all actually named in alphabetical order?”

She nodded her head as she smiled again. He really liked her smile. “Yes, my parents found it charming. Us, we just call each other by letters to save time.”

“You all are close?” Simon found himself asking. He’s never been this intrigued by someone before. It was a weird feeling, but not unwelcome.

“It’s hard not to be. I’m closest with Colin because we’re closest in age but our mother always told us that our siblings are the only ones you can really understand your life because they lived a similar one so we should appreciate each other while we can.” She brought back over her glass and started stirring the remaining cocktail again. “So yes we bicker and fight at times, but truly they are some of my favorite people.” She looked up at him. “Are you close with your family?” She asked before taking a sip of her drink.

Simon felt himself frown as he tried to figure out how to answer. “N-N-N-Not really, um…” He clenched his fist under the table. “I’m an only child and my mother passed when I was born and my father… I didn’t talk to him at all before he passed away earlier in this year.”

Daphne sat back up. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.”

“No, it’s not your fault, um… I just grew up with my Aunt Agatha in Windenburg and if anything else, Alice and Will are my family.”

She smiled again. “They are a good family to have.” She nodded as she thought over his words. “Wait, Windenburg? Do you mean Agatha Danbury?”

He chuckled. “Yes.”

“I’ve met her. She chairs the arts departments at my school…” She bit her lip before continuing. “She’s a bit scary.”

“Agreed.” As much as he loved his Godmother, she was a very intimidating person.

“She’s actually a good friend of my mother’s. She helped out the family a lot when… my father passed.” She frowned as she stirred around the leftover ice in her glass.

“Really?” Clearly, in a family like hers, that loss must have hurt her.

“Yes, my mom gave birth to Hyacinth a month after he passed, and… it was a tough time for all of us. She really helped.”

“I’m happy about that.” Simon couldn’t help but smirk though. “I’m just sad that she never mentioned you all before.”

Daphne raised a brow at his statement. “Why is that?”

“Then I could have met you a lot sooner.”

Simon could see the blush creeping up her face as she looked down at her lap and let out that gorgeous smile again.

As they continued talking, he completely forgot his original plans for the night.

Keeping that smile on her face was his new objective for the rest of the night. And keeping her around was his new objective in life.

“Ooo! Look, look at them.”

“Well I’ll be damned.”

“Oh, they are so cute. I told you they would click.”

“Yeah okay, I don’t hear wedding bells yet, Ali.”

“Just you wait.”

Simon Basset did not like social events.

Most of the time, he hated socializing in general. When he was younger, it was because of his stutter. But as he got older it was mostly because of people themselves. They always wanted something from him it seemed, especially when he inherited his father’s business after his passing last winter.

Business moguls wanted a chance to make a merger and many young ladies would clamber for his attention, throwing themselves at him to get a crack at his fortune. While in the past he would have taken advantage of the opportunity, right now, there was only one woman he wanted to get close to, which is why he found himself wandering through a crowd of arts patrons in a hotel lobby after a concert with a bouquet of white roses in hand.

There was only one person he really wanted to talk to that evening, but despite his attempt to blend in with the suits of the elite in his all-black outfit, he was spotted by none other than Agatha Danbury.

“I’m surprised to see you here.” His godmother chuckled as she came up behind him. “You hate soirées.”

“Nice to see you too, Aunt Agatha.” He gave her a tight smile after he kissed her cheek.

Agatha regarded the bundle in his hands. “Are those your attempt at adding some color to your ensemble, because if so, you should have gone for red.”

He chuckled as he adjusted the flowers. “No, these are for a… friend.”

He wanted to say something else, but even after three weeks of dates, he wasn’t sure if she wanted to be his girlfriend yet.

The older lady raised a brow. “A friend… or a fling?”

He shook his head. “Not a fling. Truly, a friend of mine was performing tonight and I wanted to come to support her.”

“Well, isn’t that… sweet?” She looked him up and down. “And so unlike you. Are you sure this girl is just a friend?”

Simon shifted on his feet and messed with his cuff. “Well, I would like to be more than her friend but I don’t know if she wants that. I really like her but she’s very closed off at times but... I’m hoping that maybe she’ll give me a chance to show her that I care.”

His Godmother seemed truly taken aback by his words and he was not surprised. This is the most open he’s been in a long time. But before she could respond, a voice called out. “Agatha?”

She turned to see another woman walking towards her. “Violet, oh how are you?” She said before hugging the lady.

“Very good. And you?” Violet replied as she pulled back.

“Doing fine for an old girl, if I do say so myself.” Agatha glanced back at him before turning to her friend. “Violet, this is my Godson, Simon Basset.”

The older lady gave him a wide smile before holding out her hand. “Hello there.”

“Nice to meet you.” He said shaking her hand. As he tried to scout the room for his desired interest, he noticed the scolding look on his Godmother’s face. Be nice and socialize, it told him. “Did you have someone in the showcase?” He asked reluctantly.

“Oh yes, my eldest daughter was performing and none of her siblings could make it but I was sure as hell going to come and support her.” She looked around him and smiled at someone. “Oh, there she is now.”

Simon started to turn to look at this daughter when he bumped into someone. “Oomph.”

“Pardon Me.” The person said.

“Forgive M…” He looked up at who he bumped into. “Daphne.” He smiled.

“Simon.” She smiled back.

Simon felt himself get lost in her eyes. “You two have met?” One of the matrons said behind him.

Daphne, who seemed to be getting lost in his eyes too, snapped back to reality and looked at the women. “Um, yes. We are very well acquainted actually.” She messed with the skirt of her dress. “Yes well acquainted indeed. What are you doing here?” She asked.

“I came to see you perform.” He smiled before remembering the bouquet in his hands. “These are for you.”

She smiled wide as she took the flowers. “Oh thank you. They’re lovely.”

“Like your performance.”

She chuckled nervously as she adjusted her hair. “Really? I was sure I missed a note or two.”

“I could not hear it.” He chuckled, but he could tell that she was a bit frazzled by everything, something he noticed when they were around a lot of people during their dates, which started him taking her to more intimate spots around town. “Why don’t we go get you something to drink?”

“Alright.” She nodded.

Mother figures completely forgotten, he led her away to the refreshment table. He put a soft hand on her lower back. “I’m serious. You were fantastic. Completely stunning.” He stopped when she chuckled. “What?”

“I just never thought I would see you so ecstatic about classical music. I thought it wasn’t your cup of tea.” She said as picked up a pre-filled glass, referencing his eclectic library of songs he had shown her as they took a drive through the city a while back.

“It’s not usually. It depends on who’s playing it.” He winked as he picked up a drink himself.

Daphne blushed as she took a sip of her lemonade. He smirked as he turned back a bit to see his Godmother and Daphne’s mother whispering furiously to one another and looking at the two of them with wonder. He leaned closer to Daphne. “Well Miss Bridgerton, don’t look now, but I do believe we are being watched.” He whispered.

She looked over her shoulder and chuckled. “I’m not surprised, my mother has been waiting for me to get a boyfriend for as long as I can remember.” Her eyes widened as she swiftly put down her empty glass and looked up at him. “Wait, I um…” She clutched the roses in her hands. “I didn’t mean to assume…”

Simon was happy she assumed. “Oh no.” He nodded as he swirled around his drink before looking at her through his lashes. “I think boyfriend is a delightful way of putting it.” He said before finishing off his drink.

Daphne bit her lip a little as she looked down at the roses. “Do you… Want to be my boyfriend?”

Simon smiled a bit at her nerves. She really did not know how much he wanted her. Until their last date, he wasn’t aware of it either. But watching her as they strolled through the park eating ice cream, he had thought to himself that he could spend all day watching how giddy she got after trying a new flavor.

But now, he thought about how much he wanted to kiss her.

No time like the present.

He put his hand under her chin and slowly lifted her head to look at him. When she was, he leaned down and pressed a soft kiss against her lips.

As he pulled back, her eyes were still closed making him chuckle. “Does that answer your question?”

Her eyes snapped open as she blushed. She licked her lips. “Not quite... could you tell me again?”

“Of course.” He said with the utmost seriousness as he leaned down to place another kiss on her lips, her hand going behind his neck.

If he could do this at every social event, he would go to them more often.

“Did you know about this?”

“No, did you?”


“Well… it looks like we don’t have to set them up after all.”

“I guess not. Now, if only I could find suitable matches for the rest of her siblings.”

Chapter Text

Before Simon, Daphne Bridgerton had never woken up in the arms of a man.

Now she couldn’t imagine waking up any other way.

Especially when he peppered kisses along her body to rouse her in the morning. As she felt the soft pecks make her way to her shoulder, she smiled and rolled over to face him. She opened her eyes and gazed at the handsome man in front of her.

“Good morning.” She whispered.

“Morning.” He said in that raspy morning voice of his that almost made her swoon. He placed a soft kiss on her lips before he went back to placing kisses all over the top half of her body. She giggled as she held him closer before looking at the time on her phone.

She groaned as she put it back down. “I have class in three hours.” She sighed.

“And that’s plenty of time for what I have in mind.” He mumbled against her skin as he started to cover her body with his.

She chuckled a bit but she could not get lost in the lust. “No, no.” She started as she pushed him back and rolled on top of him, her legs on either side of him as she knelt over him. “No. I have my final composition performance today and you cannot throw me off my game. This is the last credit I need to graduate.” She said brushing her hair back.

“Well, I thought this might help you relax.” Simon smirked as his hands roamed over her ass.

She pushed his hands into the mattress. “I don’t need sex to relax. I need tea.” She chuckled as she crawled off of him to get out of bed.

Simon groaned as she walked to the bedroom door. “You’re no fun when you’re serious.”

Daphne giggled as she made her way through the halls of his little sky-high mansion. When she first started dating Simon, she thought her family was rich from their holdings at the Bridgerton Law Firm. But after seeing how Simon lived, she realized they were only well off, while Simon was crazy rich. His penthouse alone had enough rooms for her family to stay in and that was saying something, not to mention the other properties that were in his name.

Despite this, Simon was very practical in the sense that he didn’t buy more than he needed. He didn’t have tons of house staff employed or an exuberant amount of excessive things in his home. He liked it simple but he did splurge every once and a while.

Like on the coffee machine he purchased to curb the amount of times they went to coffee shops during the week. Now, trips to the coffee shop where they met were a weekend affair. Most mornings, she would just make some tea for herself and coffee for him then scroll through Pinterest at the kitchen island as she drank her morning brew.

But this morning she found herself pacing back and forth as she let the kettle screech longer than it should. When she finally took it off the stove and poured her tea, she found herself just looking at the cup in her hands as she sat at the counter.

“Don’t do that.” Daphne looked over to see Simon sitting down at the counter next to her with his own mug.

“Do what?” She asked.

“That thing you do where you pace all about and keep in that pent-up nervous energy until you’re throwing punches at 10 at night in the gym.”

Daphne sucked her teeth and looked back at her drink, even though he was right. Simon got her into MMA soon after they started dating. She initially was against watching such violence but it turned out to be an interesting couples’ night out activity for them and the Mondriches. She started to get intrigued at the notion of learning how to fight herself, not just play fight like she had with her brothers growing up. After another encounter with Nigel, Simon thought it would be best to teach her self-defense. She took to it quickly and it was one of their many date night activities to practice in the gym. It was a great way to get rid of some pent-up energy and she had a lot of that right now.

“I can’t help it.” She sighed as she stood up from her chair and started to pace again. “I mean, what if the committee doesn’t like my final piece? What if I fail? What if I have to repeat all my lessons and…”

“Daphne…” Simon interrupted as he reached out and pulled her over to stand in between his legs. He held her in place by her shoulders. “You are brilliant.”

Daphne rolled her eyes. “You are just saying that because you love me.”

“No, I am saying that because I love you and because’s it true. That piece you made is amazing.” Simon smirked as he raised a brow. “And I’m not just saying that because I know what it’s about.”

Daphne blushed. She finished composing the song after the first night they made love, which was also her first time ever. She had been messing with the melody around the time when they started dating but being with Simon intimately brought a whole new meaning to what she wanted to create. But she regretted telling him all of this because it just inflated his already overinflated ego.

“I’m telling you,” He continued. “You’ll do amazing.”

“Thank you.” She smiled before leaning closer to him and placing a small kiss on his lips. They exchanged a few kisses before she lightly pushed him away. “I have to go.” She declared. He moaned as he tried to pull her back, but she just snickered. “I’m serious. My performance outfit is at my place.”

He groaned. “When are you going to move in fully?”

Daphne bit her lip. They had exchanged keys three months into their relationship but they spent most of their time at Simon’s, not only because was it bigger than her place but because it was closer to her school and his work. Then on their six-month anniversary, he asked her to move in with him officially and she did not hesitate to say yes… but she did hesitate to move in the last of her things.

“Soon,” She said. “It’s just... I still get mail at my place and I have to wait until my lease is up because my landlord is a nosy busybody and…”

“And your brother’s name is on the lease and you still haven’t told your siblings about us yet. Have you?” He interjected.

“No.” She admitted as she grabbed at his shirt. Honestly, it was amazing that she kept this relationship secret from her family for this long. Her mother was well aware of it now but her siblings were clueless. Her older brothers were still threatening every guy that entered her proximity when they went out and her younger siblings couldn’t care less about her dating life due to a previous lack of one.

“It’s not because I don’t want to, it’s just that…” She groaned. “Every time my siblings get intertwined in something, they ruin it. Bridgertons tend to cause chaos wherever they go if you can believe that.”

“Given how we met, I can believe it.” He nodded with a serious look on his face.

She pushed his face away from her with a snicker on her lips, making him chuckle. “Also, they always have to stick their nose into other people’s business and I don’t want to deal with that, especially in our relationship. I like this right now… just us and no one is messing with it.”

Simon regarded her as he pulled her closer. “Fair enough.” He said before kissing her again. “Still, I think you should let me help you relax.” Daphne felt his hands start to roam her body again.

She rolled her eyes. “Simon, I do not have time.” She tried to insist but she was losing her will to say no and leave his arms.

“Just give me five minutes.”

Daphne shook her head as she giggled. “Simon, you cannot get me off in five minutes.”

Simon raised a brow. “Is that a challenge?”

Daphne let out a small smile as his hands rested on her ass. “Fine. Five minutes. But make it good.”

“Oh believe me,” He started as he lifted her up and placed her on the counter while simultaneously pulling down her pajama shorts. “I will.” He smirked before plunging his face between her legs.

Daphne’s giggles quickly turned into gasping moans as he went to work.

Yes, she could not imagine waking up to anybody else, especially when this man got her off twice in five minutes.

Alice loved spending time with Daphne. Ever since they met, the younger woman has been a delight to have in her life. Not only was she fun to talk to, but because of her many siblings, she was great with children. Giving Alice a great babysitter and someone who didn't mind outings where her three boys were present.

“They are growing up so fast.” Daphne cooed as they watched the kids run around the playground as the two of them sat on a bench nearby.

“I know.” Alice smiled. “It seemed like they were in newborn clothes just yesterday.”

“I saw some cute baby stuff online the other day. My ovaries were screaming.” Daphne giggled. “I need more babies in my life.”

Alice’s eyes widened as she looked at her friend. “Is there something you want to tell me?”

The musician shook her head furiously. “Oh no. Absolutely not. I’m only just finishing school and I want to put some time between life milestones.” She shrugged. “Besides Simon and I talked about it. We want to make sure we are able to fully commit to raising children before we go down that road.”

Alice smirked at the first of soon-to-be many more mentions of Simon in their conversation, which was now very common when she spent time with Daphne. “It sounds like you two are getting serious.” She teased while swirling around her cup of coffee.

Daphne shrugged as she stirred her tea. “A bit.”

Alice scoffed. “A bit? You two are almost attached at the hip. This is the first time we went out basically just us in a month.”

Daphne bit her lip. “Okay, maybe it is serious.” She smiled a bit. “Honestly he’s great but…”

That made Alice worry. Was there drama on the horizon? “But what?”

“Nothing,” Daphne said as she shook her head. “It just… seems too good to be true sometimes.” She placed down her cup as she leaned back into the bench, her hands folded in her lap. “Like here is this amazing man that is so caring and attentive, who is basically sculpted by the Gods.” Alice nodded because it was all true. “He has women throwing themselves at him… and he chooses me.”

Alice raised a brow. “Because you are beautiful and brilliant and he loves you.” She said slowly. Daphne scoffed a laugh which made Alice turn towards her more. “I’m serious. That man loves you. A blind person could see that. You have to know that.” She leaned closer to her friend. “Most straight men do not spend two hours dress shopping with his super indecisive girlfriend unless he is in love.”

Daphne laughed a bit before messing with her fingers. “I think I know that he loves me but…”

Alice looked at how the pianist picked her fingernails and she knew what was on her mind. “You’re scared.” Daphne looked over at her, biting her lip before nodding and looking back down. “Of what?”

“Well… it’s great now because it’s just us but what happens when other people know about it.” She said looking out into the park full of people. “You see those couples online and how people judge their relationships and add pressure for them to move quickly or to end it. What we have is so special to me and I don’t want to lose it by letting more people in, even if I want to tell more people.”

“Like your family?” Alice asked, which made Daphne nod. Alice shrugged. “I understand. I know firsthand how nosy and pushy your family can be.” She scooted closer to the younger woman and placed an arm around her. “But take it from me, people will always judge your relationship, there is nothing you will be able to do about that. You just have to remember that they don’t control it, you do.” She rubbed her friend’s shoulder. “And as for your family, while they may judge him at first, I feel like they would welcome Simon right into the family as soon as they see how happy he makes you.” She leaned down so Daphne could see her face clearly. “You shouldn’t hide your happiness from them.”

Daphne breathed out a laugh before looking over at her friend. “Where do you get all this wisdom?”

Alice shrugged. “Smutty Romance Novels.”

The women share a big laugh as they watch the boys race down through the jungle gym again but Alice truly hoped she calmed Daphne’s worries.

What Daphne and Simon had was something special and she hoped her friend would realize this sooner rather than later.

Before Simon, Daphne Bridgerton was always hesitant to talk about how much she loved romance movies and chick flicks.

Most of her family found them too cheesy and boring, but she always found comfort in them, which is what made Simon give them a chance. Now, eight months into their relationship, he wasn’t obsessed with them but he appreciated them for what they were, a fun story.

“Elle’s too good for him.” Simon snarked from his position on the couch, lying down with his head on Daphne’s lap, as he took another handful of popcorn as the blonde walked out of a party in her Play Bunny outfit on screen.

“Oh, there’s no question about that.” Daphne smiled as she ran her hand over Simon’s hair. “I just can't believe you like this movie as much as you do.”

“I thought it was just a chick flick.” He shrugged.

“Um, chick flicks are good movies.” She said lightly hitting his shoulder. “It’s you men that label them as bad.”

“Okay, alright,” He chuckled. “I was wrong.”

Daphne scoffed a laugh. “I’m sorry, did Mr. Simon Basset just admit to being wrong?”

“Don’t push it, Bridgerton.” He said, mock glaring at her from below.

She shook her head. “Oh no, this is an auspicious occasion. We must bring out the champagne and toast to this once-in-a-lifetime event.” She teased.

Simon swiftly sat up as he paused the movie. “Oh, that’s it.” He turned back and lunged at her just as she untangled herself from her blanket and threw it at him. She ran to the kitchen and turned back when there was an island between them. “Get back here.” The older man commanded.

“No.” She giggled as she ran around the counter. Sadly, he was faster than her and he caught her soon enough. He grabbed her around the waist and started tickling her sides, making her laugh and double over to try and protect herself, but that just made him tickle harder.

In the distance, she heard a familiar tune. “Wait truce,” She breathed out between laughs. “Truce.”

“No.” Simon said as he continued the tickle torture.

“I’m serious.” She cried. “That’s the family group chat tone. If I don’t answer, they won’t stop messaging me.”

After another moment, he loosened his grip. “Fine.” He placed a kiss on her neck before completely letting her go. “I’ll get us more drinks.”

Daphne giggled as she walked back over to plop down on the couch and open up her phone.

As soon as she opened the chat, there was a big block of message greeting her from Fran.


Franny 🦋

Aubrey Hall Retreat Reminder!

My Fellow Bridgertons,

It is that time of year again.

Time to head to Aubrey Hall for our two-week vacay and participate in some family fun.

As reminders have been sent out once a month since the last retreat, absence is inexcusable.

Please text back your expected arrival time for Monday and any food you want to be added to the grocery list.


Daphne bit her lip. She almost forgot about their summer getaway, which was weird because she always looked forward to their yearly escape to the country. Daphne always felt more at peace there and one day she wanted to move there if she could… with Simon by her side.

She looked back at her boyfriend as he rummaged through the kitchen. At this point, they hadn’t been apart long after they became official, only a week at the most for the winter holidays but then only two days for the six months after that. They were in an eternal state of the honeymoon period and she didn’t want to spend two weeks away from him. She looked back at the incoming responses in the chat and pondered. Her mother always organized this trip to be one that would include not only the intermediate family but also their own families as they all got older.

None of the older Bridgertons were married yet. Benedict and Colin lived fairly carefree lifestyles while Anthony was consumed by his work at the law firm. None of them showed signs of settling down any time soon so by all accounts, she was the only Bridgerton close to marriage. She and Simon had talked about marriage briefly and it was something that they both believed in as long as it was with the right person.

She believed Simon was her right person.

He was smart, kind, handsome, loving… everything she wanted in a future husband and more.

Her mother always said that others would be welcome on the trip and she was sure that the matriarch would have no qualms about Simon joining them.

She was brought out of her thoughts as he came back to the couch with drinks in hand. “Here you go.” He smiled as he handed her a fruity mocktail while placing down his beer.

“Thank you.” She smiled, swirling around the drink a bit before taking a sip. She smiled, just the way she liked it. She regarded him as he placed her blanket beside her and grabbed another handful of popcorn.

Daphne wanted this relationship to go all the way. She really did and she didn’t want her insecurities to ruin it. Furthermore, she wanted her family to meet Simon, so they could meet the man that made her so happy.

She thought back to her conversation with Alice a while back.

You shouldn’t hide your happiness from them.

Daphne bit her lip before turning to her boyfriend. “Simon…”


“My family is going on vacation to our country home next Monday.” She explained as she played with the glass in her hands.

“Ah,” He chuckled. “Escaping the city?”

Daphne smiled. “Yes. We spend time together hiking the trails, playing stupid games, baking, going to the beach. It’s a great refresh, honestly.”

“Sounds fun.”

Daphne bit her lip. “Do you... want to come?” Simon looked over at her. “Stay with us, I mean. Lord knows you need some time off now that you finally settled that Emerson account.”

Simon leaned back into the couch. “You’re not wrong.” He said as he placed a hand on her knee. “I mean, I do have plenty of vacation time stowed away, because I never use it. I wouldn’t mind getting away from the city for a bit but… are you sure you want me to come?” He said looking at her with a quizzical expression on his face but hope in his eyes.

“Yes.” She nodded with a small smile on her face. “It’s fun to get away together and besides… I want them to meet you.”

Simon slowly let out a wide smile as he rubbed her knee. “Well, if they will have me, I would be honored to join in your getaway.”

Daphne smiled as she put down her drink and crawled over to him, wrapping him in a hug, which he returned. “I love you.” She whispered in his ear.

His arms tightened around her. “I love you.” He said with confidence.

She pulled back to see him and placed a hard kiss on his lips. She was about to lean down to grab her phone off the table but his hand went around her neck and he turned her face towards him again. Daphne giggled as he kissed her more and his hands started to roam her body.

As she felt them leaning back into the cushions of the couch, she couldn’t help but feel that she was living in a romance movie now.

And it was better than she ever imagined it could be.

Violet was quite excited for the family's return to the country. She loved when all of her children were together again, which wasn't too often anymore as the four oldest have already moved out of the house. But she knew they all looked forward to this as well.

She ignored the pinging sounds of the incoming texts as the older siblings responded to Fran’s message in favor of her embroidery. Her four youngest were in the room with her, enjoying a bit of time together before they went to bed.

“A, B, and C will be arriving in the late afternoon.” Gregory noted as he looked through the chat.

“Let me see.” Hyacinth whined as she dove to grab her brother’s phone.

“Hands off.” He said pushing her back.

Hyacinth groaned before looking at her mother. “Mama, when do I get a phone?”

“When you enter secondary school, my love.” She smiled as another ping rang through the room.

“Oh, Daphne said she’s bringing a friend to stay with us.” Francesca smiled as she looked at the chat.

Violet paused her needlework. “Really?” She said while placing down her hoop and picking up her phone. “Did she say who?”

“No. Just that they will be there around noon.”

“Ugh, it’ll probably be one of her preppy conservatory friends.” Eloise groaned as she looked away from her book.

“Perhaps not.” Violet smiled as she looked through the messages. “Regardless, it will be nice to have a new face staying with us.”

The four children mumbled as they went back to what they were doing but Violet took this opportunity to text her eldest daughter privately because she wanted to confirm her suspicions of who was accompanying her.



Are you bringing Simon?


Daphne ❤️

Yes, he is in dire need of a vacation

Also, I think it’s time that the rest of the family met him


Violet could not help how wide her smile grew as she typed out her response.



Well alright then, will we have to prepare a separate room for him or will you be sharing?


Daphne ❤️

…We’ll be sharing



Good to know. Just remember that there will be children present.


Daphne ❤️

🙃 Yes, Mama



And I hope you two are using protection.


Daphne ❤️



Violet guffawed as she put her phone down and turned her attention back to her embroidery.

Yes, this vacation will be a splendid time indeed.

Before Simon, Daphne Bridgerton had never introduced a boy to her family and now that she was finally doing it, she was freaking out. As she and Simon drove to the Aubrey Hall, she couldn't help but quiz him on his Bridgerton knowledge to ignore her siblings' pestering questions. Her siblings were constantly inquiring about who she was bringing now and Colin, especially, had been messaging her non-stop with questions, which only made her fear how they would act around Simon.

“So you remember their names?” She nervously asked Simon again.

“Yes.” He sighed. “Bridgertons A to C and E to H.”

“Simon.” She said in a scolding tone as she hit his arm lightly as he drove.

“I’m joking.” He chuckled. “Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth. See. I listen.”

She glared at him. “That’s debatable. You’re the reason we have to stop and get chargers even though I told you to check before we left.” She groaned as they pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store in a rest stop area.

“So what you’re saying is that…” Simon turned off the car and looked at her. “You don’t want to share a charger?”

She pushed his face away as she unbuckled. “Do not joke right now.”

As she got out of the car, she heard him quickly doing the same. She walked around to avoid him but he reached out to catch her. “Hey, come here.” He said as he pulled her closer. “Look at me.” She sighed before looking up at him as he looked at her with soothing eyes. “I know you’re freaking out but listen to me…” He put a hand underneath her chin. “I love you. I love you and all your quirks and your snorts and your obsession with period dramas.” She chuckled. “Nothing your family does could possibly make me love you less.” He placed a kiss on her forehead before regarding her again. “I am in this, not only as your friend but as your delightful boyfriend. I’m not going to run away from you or your family.” He brushed some loose hair behind her ear. “I’m just happy to meet the people who helped shape you into the most important person in my life.”

Daphne felt her smile wobble as she placed her hands on his chest. “How did I get so lucky?”

“That I do not know.” He smirked. “But I think luck has work in our favor since you stumbled into my life.”

Daphne wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed a kiss on his lips. “I love you.” She whispered after pulling back. “Come on.” She said grabbing one of his hands. “We need to hurry so we can beat most of the traffic. It won’t lighten up until we get closer to Aubrey Hall.”

“Yes ma’am.” Simon smirked as he pulled her towards the store entrance.

Daphne smiled as she and Simon walked into the store hand in hand. As they roamed through the aisles picking up chargers and other last-minute things, she couldn’t help but think that everything was going to be just fine.

Because she had Simon.

So luck was definitely in her favor.

Chapter Text

Simon was not one for dramatics.

He did not like showy outfits, long-drawn-out speeches, or flashy entrances.

But he felt like he was making an entrance as they drove through Willowdale in his luxury car. Willowdale was a small country town that was close enough to London to not be too far away from society but it embodied the feel of slow living. As you drove through the winding country roads that barely had enough room to let two cars pass by each other, you couldn’t help but feel at peace.

As they neared Aubrey Hall, Daphne pointed out some of the great landmarks from her childhood, like the farm her family visited to pet animals or the grove of trees where they would play hide and seek. To see her face light up as they made their way through her memories made Simon smile. This woman was a true embodiment of joy and he felt fortunate to have her in his life.

“Are you ready for this?”

Simon looked over and noticed the look on her face. “Are you?” He asked. Simon knew this was her first serious relationship and the first time that she would be announcing their relationship to the rest of her family. He had already held her through multiple freakout sessions throughout the past week and as much as he wanted to get to know her family, his top priority was her wellbeing.

Despite her obvious nerves, Daphne nodded. “Yes, it’s just my family is intense. I love them but they are quite… pushy.”

Simon snickered to himself. “Well, if they are anything like you when you push me out of bed at night, then I think I’ll manage.” As Daphne had been used to sleeping alone, it had taken her body a while to remember not to move too wildly in her sleep to avoid knocking his stomach in the middle of the night.

Daphne mock glared at him. “Haha very funny.” She looked forward and let out a big smile. “Oh, there it is.” She squealed while pointing ahead.

Simon looked and sure enough, they made their way down the now purely stone road towards a grand estate. Walls of red bricks, brightened up by vines of wisteria and white marble columns framed by groves of trees and beds of delicate summer blooms. Quite a sight to behold, even for Simon, which saying something as he owned Clyvedon, a literal castle.

As they pulled into the roundabout at the front of the house, Simon could see some figures jumping up and down in the window before they disappeared. As Simon turned the car right to park on the other side of a rather large van, presumably Mrs. Bridgerton’s car, the front door burst open to reveal a trio of Daphne’s siblings.

“Daphne!” They yelled, jumping up and down before running over to the car.

“I think you’ve been spotted.” Simon chuckled as he put the car in park.

Daphne laughed as she unbuckled before opening her door. From what Simon could hear, he could tell she was immediately bombarded with greetings of hugs and kisses. A joyful lot the Bridgertons were, it seemed. As he knew that Daphne could go on talking for hours like she did Alice when they were just greeting each other, he did not wait for her to tell him to get out.

He climbed out of his side of the car, making sure not to hit the van with his door. He looked over the top of the car and saw the younger siblings smiling and asking Daphne questions and telling her things at a mile a minute and Daphne was responding at the same speed. But when he closed his car door, the conversation seized as the younger Bridgertons looked to see the source of the noise.

After they stared at him for a moment, he nodded at them. “Hello.”

“Who are you?” The boy among the trio asked with a pointed look on his face.

The older man snickered. “I’m Simon.”

Daphne smiled as she looked at her siblings. “He’s staying with us.”

The oldest girl among the trio gaped at him. “This… is your “friend”?” She asked.


The youngest girl walked over to him and looked up at him as if he was a giant. “Are you Daphne’s boyfriend?”

Simon glanced over at his girlfriend before nodding and looking back down at the girl. “I am.”

The girl narrowed her eyes at him. “Are you after her trust fund?”

“Hyacinth!” Daphne said in a scolding tone.

Simon just chuckled though. “No, I am not. So you are Hyacinth?”

“Correct. I am 10 but I will be 11 next January.” She said with a stiff upper lip.

Simon nodded in a most serious way. “Ah, well it is a pleasure to meet you, and Happy Early Birthday.”

The little girl’s angry shell disappeared as she gave him a beaming smile that mirrored her sister’s so well. He looked up from her and saw the same smile on Daphne’s face indeed before he glanced at the other two Bridgertons. “Gregory and Fran, I presume?”

“Yup.” Gregory chirped.

“Yes.” Fran confirmed but in a wary tone.

“Nice to meet both of you.”

“You as well.” Fran said in the same tone before looking at her older sister. “Since when do you have a boyfriend?”

Daphne bit her lip as she turned back to the car. “Since October.” She mumbled as she pulled a small bag out of the backseat.

The younger sister moved to say more but she was interrupted.

“FRANNY!” A voice yelled from inside the house.

“WHAT?” Fran shouted back, making the other Bridgertons hold their ears. Simon just chuckled even more.

“WHERE ARE YOU?” The voice yelled again.

“I’M OUTSIDE!” Fran screamed before turning back to the group.

Daphne slowly let her hands fall to her side as she regarded her little sister. “Fran… What is the point of leaving behind the city noise if you just mimic it with all your shouting?” She said in a quiet but sharp manner.

The teenager shrugged. “Well, she started it.”

The young woman gritted her teeth before turning to Simon with a tight smile on her face. “A nice welcome home indeed.”

Simon smiled at her before looking over at the front door of the mansion. Another girl, presumably Eloise, came out. She went to say something but paused and regarded him specifically for a moment.

Fran did not wait for her to snap out of it though. “Did you want something, El?”

She looked back at her little sister. “Yeah, the timer for your cakes went off.”

Daphne rolled her eyes and she put her smaller bag on her shoulder. “Eloise, did you have to yell for the whole town to hear? Could you not have just taken them out yourself?”

Eloise shrugged before sitting in her hip. “One, that is not my job. Two, nice to see you too, sister. Three, I could care less about what happens to those sponge cakes but you should get to them before they burn and smoke up the house.”

“I’ll take them out!” Hyacinth said as she ran to the door.

“No, I will!” Gregory called running behind her.

Eloise yelled at the two young ones as they almost ran into her. Simon chuckled as he opened the boot to get their luggage out while Fran looked back at her oldest sister.

“Seriously, you didn’t tell… any of us that you had a boyfriend?”

Daphne shrugged as she pulled out one of her bags. “No, I did not.”

“My God. Does Mama know about this? Because…”

The mother in question came to the front door and walked by Eloise with wide-open arms. “Daphne, Simon.” She greeted.

“Hi Mama.” Daphne smiled as she accepted a hug from her mother.

“Hello, my darling.” Violet said before pulling back a bit, looking at her eldest daughter. “It has been too long.” She looked over at Simon, who had just taken out the last of their bags. “Nice to see you again, Simon.”

“Nice to see you as well, Mrs. Bridgerton.” He said accepting her hug.

But she pulled back with a reprimanding look on her face. “Simon, how many times must I tell you? Call me Violet.”

He snickered. “My apologies. By the way,” He walked over to the backseat and pulled out a bouquet of white tulips. “These are for you.” He said handing her the bundle of flowers.

This had the Bridgerton matriarch beaming. “Oh thank you.” She sniffed the fresh blooms. “They are lovely.” She turned back towards her girls. “Eloise, Fran, leave Simon and Daphne to their unpacking and go manage the little ones to make sure they don’t eat all the cake. You’ll be able to talk to them more later.” She instructed in a tone that left no room for argument.

“Yes, Mama.” The two teenagers said before walking into the house.

Violet turned back to the couple as Simon locked up his car. “I’m so happy that you could join us for our retreat, Simon.”

“I will gladly take any excuse to get away from the city for a while.” Simon smiled as he stacked some of the bags.

“Well, you must allow me to give you a tour when you two are done.”

“Mama, I was going to give him a tour.” Daphne countered.

“Well, I need you to help in the kitchen and make sure that your sisters and brother do not go overboard with making sweets for tea later. We should at least have something of substance on the table.”

Daphne sighed. “Very well.”

“Good.” Violet smiled. “I will go put these in water.” And with that, the matriarch left.

Simon and Daphne shared a look. “Well, it looks like I won’t be able to show you the gardens today.”

“That’s okay.” Simon smirked as he walked over to stand next to her. “You can show me secret places to ravish you later.”

Daphne pushed him away with blushing cheeks before she started to take her things inside, Simon following closely behind.

While he did not plan to make an entrance, he did plan to make a mark on this vacation.

“Who was that man?”

“Daphne’s boyfriend.”

“…Since when does she have a boyfriend?”

“Since October.”

“October! She managed to keep a secret from this family for 8 months. I can’t even hide the fact that I have chocolate for two minutes with this lot.”

Simon was not one to make spaces feel like home.

He never felt at home at his father’s house. When he stayed with his Godmother, he had a hard time feeling at home after all he had been through. At Oxford, he knew his on-campus lodgings would only be temporary placements, never a home.

Even in his own penthouse, he did not make much of an effort to make it feel more like a home until Daphne had started to move in. She got him to replace his modern boxy sofa with a more comfortable couch. The kitchen now had personal touches of powder blue appliances and serving utensils along with pictures of friends on the fridge. He even purchased a plethora of throw blankets that were strewn through the common places in his dwelling as Daphne always seemed to be cold and she seemed most grateful for this addition.

But when he stepped into Daphne’s room at Aubrey Hall, he could see how much this was a second home to her just by how lived in it looked. He placed one of his bags down next to her desk that was littered with pictures of her family and friends. There was even a sneaky one of him in there that she must have brought when she visited for Christmas. On her bed was a pile of lacy throw pillows on top of floral sheets and on the wall above were wreaths and pictures of flowers and sun hats. As he looked at the collection of perfume bottles, piano competition trophies, and tiny teddy bears on her dresser, Daphne stumbled into the room with handfuls of her stuff.

She chuckled nervously as she placed down her larger bag on the bed before looking at him. “Not what you expected?” She asked.

“No…” He mused as he picked up one of the bears. “I expected to see a bonnet hanging somewhere.”

Daphne chuckled as she plucked the bear from his hands. “I like bonnets in movies but I would never wear one.”

“Of course.” Simon took another look around the room. “But it’s very you. Just more frilly than I thought it would be.” He said nodding at the lacy pillows.

Daphne glanced over before squeezing her bear to her chest. “I designed this room when I was eight, give me some credit.” She said as she walked over to the closet. “Just be happy that I have one of the rooms with an ensuite bathroom. Eloise and Benedict share one and it’s a shouting match every day about who uses it first. Luckily, they are on the other side of the house.” She stated as she placed her bear in a hatbox.

“Who’s over here?” Simon asked as he opened the case on the bed.

“Colin and Fran. Anthony and Gregory are over in the East wing and Hyacinth is in the room closest to Mama’s in the West Wing. Over time, Mama realized it would be best if certain pairs of us were separated.” Daphne explained as she came over to go through her bag.

“Woes of a large family, I presume.” He mused, looking down at her.

“One of the many.” Daphne said as she went over to put some of her folded clothes in the dresser. “Now, go get the other bags. Unpacking this will take a while.”

“That’s because someone took her whole wardrobe with her.” He mumbled as he walked to the door.

“Just go.” She chuckled.

When he returned, they got into a rhythm of unpacking bags and placing their stuff away for the next two weeks. All in all, it almost felt like he was making a home of the space for himself as well, Daphne even gave him a third of the closet. But as he placed Daphne’s composition books up on a higher shelf, he found it difficult to push them back. He reached back on the shelf and found a small item that he shoved aside to make room, but as he did the item fell into his hand and opened up.

It was a small white book filled with cursive writing. “What is this?” Simon said as his eyes skimmed over the page.

He heard Daphne gasp. “Simon!” She ran over and snatched the book out of his hand. “That is my old diary and that is private.”

“Even from me?” He said with a semi innocent look on his face that Daphne saw right through.

Her eyes narrowed. “Especially from you.” She declared as she went into the bathroom with it, no doubt to hide it again.

“Now, come on.” He chuckled as she walked back out. “You have seen a plethora of baby pics and embarrassing memories from my Aunt Agatha and teased me relentlessly for them. Now it’s my turn.”

“I’m sure my siblings will give you all the embarrassing anecdotes you want to hear once they’ve gotten to know you.” She scoffed as she started to close up her bags. She glanced over at him briefly. “You handled my younger siblings well.”

The older man shrugged. “It wasn’t that bad. Honestly, Will and Alice’s boys felt hard compared to that.”

“That’s because those were the younger siblings, you still have to get through my older brothers.” Daphne reminded him as she placed her bag next to the closet. “The little ones are very tame in comparison to them… well except Eloise.”

Simon snickered as he looked down at the bags, trying to figure out how to put them away neatly. “Well, I am very much ready for the older brother talk.”

“You’ve never had one before though.”

“Nor I don’t intend to go through anymore.” He winked at her, making her blush a bit.

Daphne turned away to look at her old things as Simon put the first bag in the bottom of the closet. “So you’ve never a man in your room before?” He said in a nonchalant tone before turning back.

Daphne absentmindedly shook her head. “No against the rules, according to my brothers, not that any boy made it that far past them. You are the first.”

Simon smiled to himself. “An honor.” He let out a smirk before asking “Now correct if I’m wrong but you said that you would have loved to sneak away for a good snog in your room when you were younger?”

“Simon!” Daphne blushed as she whipped around to face him. “You weren’t supposed to read that.”

Simon smirked. It just so happened that the first page her diary opened to was a wish for the very thing he described. “Am I wrong?”

“No.” Daphne bit her lip as she messed with her fingers. “I always thought it would be sweet to have a secret rendezvous in the gardens or in my room, just like the movies.” She turned back to her dresser and messed with the bottles on top of it. “But I never got one, thanks to the idiots.” She mumbled.

Simon frowned from behind her. While he had never had those moments of sneaking a girl into his room (because if his godmother saw such a thing occur in her house she would kill him), he could tell that Daphne had wanted those romantic moments. Truly she had never been romanced before, thanks to her brothers’ interference, and he knew that was one of the causes of her insecurities when it came to their relationship. The only reason that he was happy about her lack of experience was that it meant that he would be the only man to treat her like the treasure she was and romance her in the way that she deserves.

Simon walked over to her and slipped his hands around her waist. “My sweet girl.” He whispered into her ear before kissing her neck. “Allow me to rectify this situation.”

Daphne squealed as he swept her off her feet before walking them over to the bed. Simon laid her out on the sheets before crawling over her and planting his lips on hers. He felt her pull him close by his neck as she smiled. He ravished her lips as his hands felt up her body as her other hand roamed over his chest. Daphne couldn’t help but giggle as Simon broke away and started placing kisses along the open neckline of her blue cotton dress.

“Do you like this?” He asked as he nibbled at the spot where he placed most of her hickeys.

“Mhmm.” She moaned.

“Good.” He said before making a trail from her neck back up to her lips.

After a few minutes of kissing her deeply, Simon pulled back, snickering at the dazed expression on his girlfriend’s face before looking at their fully unpacked luggage. “Should we put those cases away and join your family downstairs?”

Daphne bit her lip as she looked up at him for a moment. Next thing he knew, he was rolled onto his back as she knelt over him. “Not yet.” She smirked as she shrugged off her knitted cardigan and threw it to the side. Her hands messed with his belt buckle. “There is one more thing I wanted to do.”

“Oh…” He smirked as he took off his jacket and threw it over with her cardigan, revealing his muscled arms that pulled her closer on his lap. “And what is it that you want to do?”

“You.” She declared as she pulled out his belt and immediately unbuttoned his pants before settling the skirt of her dress over his lap. “If that’s alright with you?” She said in an almost mocking tone as he rarely turned her down when she was like this. He personally loved it when she felt confident enough to take control like this.

“Oh absolutely.” He said before crushing his lips against hers as he adjusted himself beneath her dress.

As their bodies rocked against each other, Simon couldn’t help but think he finally found a home and it was not a place at all.

It was her.

“This prank will put his last one to shame.”

“Agreed. Do you think she’ll help?”

“Of course, but Mama said we have to wait at least half an hour before we bother them.”

“Why? How long does it take to unpack?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t ask.”

Simon was not one for intimate conversations... unless they were with Daphne of course.

Mainly because they had a tendency to drag on for long amounts of time which annoyed him. Furthermore, even though he had his stutter mostly under control, it still came out every once and a while, especially when he spoke for long periods of time. So when he went to talk to Violet Bridgerton before their tour, he knew he wanted to keep the conversation he had in mind as short and sweet as he could.

He knocked on the door to the parlor where Daphne said she would be before walking in. “Mrs. Bridg- Violet.”

The Bridgerton matriarch looked up from her flower arranging and smiled. “Oh, hello Simon.” She started to gather up her gardening tools. “Just give me a minute and we can go on the tour.”

“Actually.” He blurted out, making her look up at him. “Do you have a moment to talk before that?”

She looked at him quizzically before putting down her tools. “Of course,” She gestured over towards two armchairs. “Please sit. Is Daphne off with the younger ones?” She asked as she sank down into the chair.

“Yes.” Simon said in a gruff tone as he sat. “Eloise, Gregory, and Hyacinth are trying to recruit her for a big prank apparently before she helps Fran in the kitchen.”

Violet scoffed. “Of course they are.” She leaned in a bit closer. “Colin is the resident prankster and Gregory is trying to take the title himself.” She bit her lip before looking at him in all seriousness. “I would be cautious around most doors during your stay.”

He nodded slowly. “Noted.”

She sat back up and folded her hands in her lap. “So what did you want to talk about?”

Simon felt himself start to fidget in the chair. “W-w-well, I… I, um…” Simon bit his lip as he tried to breathe deeply.

“Simon, is everything alright?” The older woman said with concern shining in her eyes.

He nodded. “Yes, everything is perfectly fine, it’s just…” He adjusted himself in the chair again before looking up at her. He took a deep breath before turning his body more towards her. “I love your daughter.” He said plainly, making her smile. “She is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time and she has been an absolute blessing to have in my life. She has brought so much joy into it and I cannot imagine my life without her.” He leaned forward a bit. “I know we’ve only been dating for 8 months but I know she is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with.” He cleared his throat as he saw Violet clutch at her chest. “So I… wanted to ask for your blessing… to ask her to marry me.”

The only older woman he had regular contact with was his Aunt Agatha and “emotional” was not a word he would use to describe her. But that word definitely applied to Violet as tears started to well in her eyes. “Oh, Simon. Oh…” Suddenly, the older lady leaned over and crushed him in a hug. It took him a moment to return it before she finally sat back in her own chair. She wiped at her tears with a nearby tissue before grasping his hand in her free one. “Of course, you have my blessing.”

“Truly?” He smiled, letting out a small breath he didn’t know he had been holding in.

“Yes… I know the rest of the family hasn’t seen it yet but I have seen how happy you make her. If there is one thing I want for all my children it is for them to be happy and for them to find someone who makes them happy. I could not be more excited to call you a son-in-law.”

That made Simon smile wide as he squeezed her hand. “Thank you.”

“No thank you.” She smiled again before looking at him. “Did you need help finding her a ring because there are some wonderful pieces in our vault…”

“Actually…” He interrupted as he reached into his jacket pocket. He had put this box in there before he came down. He opened it up to reveal a simple ring with a clover of pearls on it and emeralds in between each one. “This ring was my mother’s and I know Daphne loves pearls, so I thought this would be perfect for her.”

“Oh, it’s beautiful.” The matriarch gushed.

He smiled. Hopefully, Daphne would be impressed by it as well. “I added some emeralds to match her eyes.”

Violet glanced up at him with furrowed brows. “Her eyes are blue.”

He shrugged. “But there are hints of green around the edges if you look close enough.” He looked down at the ring and thought of Daphne's eyes, how they shined when she was happy. The image made him smile.

He heard a small laugh that made him look up at Violet, whose eyes were just beaming. “You truly love my daughter.” She nodded.

“More than anything.” He confirmed as he put the ring back in his pocket.

“Good. Do you know when you’ll ask?” She said in a very cheery tone.

“Soon but you know Daphne. She can be anxious at times and… I don’t want to ask her if she’s not ready for it.” While Simon knew that Daphne was interested in marriage, he did not know if she wanted marriage right now. He wanted to be more sure before he asked.

“I understand.” She nodded slowly before clapping her hands in joy. “But oh, this will be a glorious occasion. You know what, we always throw a party when we stay here.” She gasped. “It would be the perfect place for you to propose. We'll have a string quartet, bountiful flower arrangements, even…”

“Actually I want to do something more… intimate,” He intervened before she got too lost in her plans. “Just the two of us really.”

“Just you two?” She said a bit taken back. Simon knew to tread lightly here as he knew Mrs. Bridgerton was one for grand parties and big gestures.

“Well, that has always been Daphne’s dream proposal.” He explained. “She’s not one for a big flash mob or anything like that. She would rather do something small…”

“How do you know?”

He bit his lip. “She left her wedding Pinterest board open once and she had a section on her dream proposal.” It was what prompted him to get the ring from his godmother in the first place. He took it as a sign that maybe she was ready for it. “I really want to make that happen for her. It is nothing big but it is perfect for her.”

Violet pursed her lips before letting her shoulders slump a bit. “Oh, okay.” She sighed.

Simon grimaced, sighing before he said “But after we get engaged, I think she would be up for a bigger celebration.”

That perked her right back up. “Excellent!” She grabbed his hands again. “Oh, I’m so happy for the both of you. I just know she will be thrilled.”

He smiled lightly. “That’s what I’m hoping.”

Intimate time with Daphne may be few and far between on this trip but he was more so looking forward to the time when they could have the all-important intimate conversation where he could ask this life-changing question.

Chapter Text

If there is one thing that Daphne knew about her family, it is that they were some of the most annoying people she had ever met. Growing up with seven siblings is never easy, especially when you are in the middle because there will always be someone there to irk you. Whether it’s a brother who cannot stop picking on you or a sister who is constantly invading your personal space.

Fran in particular, at the moment, was trying to become her least favorite sibling by pestering her as she tried to make some snacks in the kitchen for their afternoon tea that they did every first day they were at Aubrey Hall.

“How did you keep this a secret?” The younger sister asked again as Daphne started to cut up some sandwiches.

“I didn’t tell anybody.” Daphne snipped as she made a harsh cut in the bread, almost ripping off the crust with the knife.

“But Mama knew.”

Daphne rolled her eyes as she threw the excess bread in a compost bin. “Because she and Simon’s godmother were trying to set us up when we were already together.”

And for a second there was peace as Fran processed this information. But of course, that didn’t last long. “So when we’re you going to tell US that you were in a relationship?”

Daphne paused as she put down a tier caddy on the counter. “I don’t know I…” She shrugged. “I just liked keeping him to myself.”

The younger girl scoffed a laugh. “I can see why. That man is gorgeous.”

Daphne rolled her eyes as she started plating the sandwiches. It was not news to her that her boyfriend was extremely attractive. It was the first thing that she noticed when they first bumped into each other. But she did not like to make a big deal about it because he was already well aware of that fact, annoyingly so. Luckily, he was out walking the gardens with Mama for their tour so he didn’t hear Fran’s statement.

“Can we please talk about something else?” Daphne almost whined as she set the last sandwich on the plate.

“What other interesting things do we have to talk about?” Fran scoffed.

Suddenly, there was a boom that almost shook the room. The girls looked outside the window and saw sparkles falling from the sky. Daphne smirked. “The look on Colin’s face when he realizes he’s been pummeled with glitter.”

Soon enough, Eloise, Gregory, and Hyacinth were running through the kitchen squealing with big grins on their faces.

“Success!” Gregory cheered as they ran through the back door, probably to go get lost in the hedge maze before Colin could find them.

Daphne and Francesca did their best to hold in their snickers from their siblings’ ridiculous behavior but they could not help but burst out laughing as Colin marched into the kitchen, his front covered in sparkles. While his glare could send them to an early grave, the effect was dimmed by the hot pink glitter surrounding his eyes.

“Hi Colin.” Fran giggled.

“I’m loving the new look brother.” Daphne managed to say in between chuckles.

“Shut up you demons.” Colin said through gritted teeth as he dropped one of his bags to the floor, making more glitter go everywhere.

“We didn’t do it.”

“Whatever.” Colin walked over to look at his reflection in the window. “This is going to take forever to get out.”

Fran looked over to Daphne with a smirk as she made her way over to their brother. “Don’t worry, I have something that will cheer you right up.”

“And what is that?” Colin said as he tried to brush some of the glitter flakes out of his hair with his hands.

“You can help me torture Daphne.”

Daphne groaned as she began to take out some mitts to get the scones out of the oven.

“About what?” Colin scoffed.

“About the fact that she has a boyfriend that she hid from us for eight months.”

Colin whipped around to look at Daphne just as she turned away from the pair of them. “What?”

“Daphne has a boyfriend.”

“You’re kidding?”

Daphne grimaced because she just knew that Colin had one of those cheeky looks on his face.

“No, our sister has a super handsome and charming boyfriend who she didn’t tell us about. He’s outside with Mama, right now.”

“Oh, I think I saw him when Mother came to check on m… Wait a second, that’s the “friend” you brought to stay with us?”

Daphne turned around and took note of the incredulous looks on her brother’s face. “Yes.” She said while placing down the hot baking tray she retrieved.

“How could you not tell your favorite siblings that you had a boyfriend?” Colin asked as he leaned on the counter.

“Yes, what’s up with that?” Fran added.

Daphne looked between them before glaring at Colin. “Arms off the counter.” She commanded. “I don’t want glitter anywhere near my lunch.”

Colin glared but did as she asked. “Stop changing the subject.”

“Yes.” Franny agreed. “Why didn’t you tell us that you had a super hot boyfriend?”

“He’s not that hot.” Daphne scoffed as she prayed for them to be interrupted.

Luckily for her, at that moment, Benedict came strolling into the kitchen. The second oldest Bridgerton took a glance at his younger brother. “Okay, that answers my question about the glitter all over the front walkway. But another question, who’s the hot guy out there with Mother?”

Daphne groaned. Okay, maybe she wasn’t that lucky.

Fran grinned. “That’s Daphne’s boyfriend.”

Benedict’s jaw dropped before he gawked at the pianist. “No way. That sexy man out there is yours.”

“He’s not that sexy.” Daphne insisted as she tried to walk over to the pantry.

But before she could reach it, Fran stood in front of her and flicked her forehead.

“Ow.” The older girl said as she put her hand over the violated area.

“Are you blind?” Fran scoffed. “Why can’t you admit that your boyfriend is a looker?”

Daphne pushed her away. “No, I’m not blind. But I am also aware that my boyfriend has an ego the size of Buckingham Palace, so no I’m not going to admit that he’s the sexiest man I’ve laid my eyes on.”

“Is that a fact?”

Daphne bit her lip and grimaced because she knew that cocky voice anywhere. She scurried over to the pantry closet. “Aren’t you supposed to be outside with Mama?”

“I was until she started to chase down your younger siblings so they could clean up their prank.” She heard footsteps walking around. “You two must be Benedict and Colin. Simon Basset. A pleasure to meet you both.”

Daphne shook her head because she knew he was only being social to play at her nerves, not that her brothers knew that.

“Nice to meet you too.” They said.

As Daphne turned around with jars of jam in her hand, she almost bumped into her boyfriend’s opposing figure. He smirked down at her. “So tell me, darling… am I sexy?”

Daphne glared up at him before sidestepping him. “Forget I said anything.”

Sadly, she heard him follow. “Oh no-no. We should discuss this. You’ve already admitted you like my charm, my brain… my wit. Can’t you just tell me that you also find me sexy?”

Daphne slammed the jars down on the counter. “No, and you know exactly why.” The musician glanced up and noticed that her siblings were just standing there watching this whole affair like a match at Wimbledon.

She felt him lean against the counter next to her. “Come on, a man deserves to have his ego boosted every once and a while.”

Daphne scoffed as she tried to open a jar to no success. “Your ego is already big enough to feed a small country.”

“Well you know what I say,” Simon said as he plucked the jar out of her hands and took off the lid with ease. “There is always room for more.” He held out the jar to her.

Daphne glared at him once again. This man really knew how to get under her skin. “You know what,” She snatched the jar from his hand. “Fuck you.”

Simon leaned over closer. “Darling… you already do that.”

Daphne slammed the jar on the counter before turning to him “Simon!” She screeched as her sister and her brothers, surprisingly, started chuckling at her expense. “You are beastly!” She pushed him away as he started to laugh himself. “Remind me why I brought you here again.”

“Because you said I needed a vacation from work.” Simon chuckled as she kept coming at him with her fists.

She scoffed. “Oh please, you’ll still be working because you couldn’t even be paid to take a day off. I bet you’ll have a business call today.” She smirked up at him.


“It is not. Jeffries will probably be calling you at any moment to finalize details on the Emerson account.”

He glared down at her. “You’re wrong.”

Their burning gazes were interrupted by a shrill ringing echoing throughout the room.

Daphne looked down at his pocket and sure enough, his phone screen was lighting up through his jeans. She looked back at his face and gave him a cocky grin.

His eyes did not leave hers as he took out his phone and answered. “Jeffries, I’m on vacation, this better be important.” Daphne heard some mumbled lines through the phone that made Simon pinch his brow. “I already sent those files to accounting… Fine, if I must. Give me ten minutes.” He hung up the phone.

“Told you.”

“This isn’t over, Bridgerton.” Simon scoffed as he walked out of the room before heading upstairs to their room.

Daphne chuckled before turning to see her brothers and sister looking at her in various states of awe. “What?”

“You two are adorable.” Fran cooed, though her brothers did not share the same cheer.

“Seriously, how’d you get a guy like that?” Benedict frowned.

Daphne shrugged as she started to spread the jam over the sponge cakes Fran made earlier. “I don’t know but… I just thought it was time that you all met him.”

There was just one moment of silence before Colin interrupted it. “Wait…” Daphne looked up at him. “Anthony hasn’t met the bastard yet?”

The pianist rolled her eyes. “He has. They went to school together but they weren't close or anything, so he doesn't know he's my boyfriend.”

The three other siblings smiled so wide she thought their faces would break in half.

“Everyone, charge your phones.” Fran giggled as she ran out of the room. “We have to capture this moment.”

“Forget that,” Colin scoffed. “I’m charging my camera. I need this scene to be shot in HD.”

As her siblings finally vacated the kitchen, Daphne could not help but grin at the fact that they had a new target to annoy now.

Colin had always been the #1 man in Daphne’s life, besides their father of course. They were only thirteen months apart, the smallest age gap between any of the Bridgerton siblings. Because of this, they went through many of their milestones together.

Learning to ride a bike.

Losing their first tooth.

Leaving home to go to art camp.

The main milestones that they did not go through together dealt strictly with dating. While Anthony and Benedict had always teased Colin about girls he liked and tried to set him up on dates, the older brothers had teamed up with Colin to make Daphne’s dating life practically non-existent.

When Daphne first started showing interest in boys and dating, the brothers were already sure that no one was ever going to be good enough for any of their sisters. But since Daphne was the first sister who would go on dates, most of their major efforts were focused on her. They vetted every boy she came in contact with and immediately dismissed the bad apples while intimidating the “good” ones, none of whom had a backbone, and this was how it worked for many years.

But it seemed Simon Basset had managed to not only skip through their screening process and become Daphne’s first boyfriend but also get himself invited to the Bridgertons’ summer holiday.

This unfamiliar change is what caused Colin to seek out Daphne again after he managed to get most of the glitter off his body and put his things in his room. He smirked at his younger siblings who were cleaning up their mess and noticed Ben and Fran getting things ready for tea in the parlor with Mother, leaving Daphne alone in the kitchen.

“Where’s your boyfriend?” Colin remarked as he grabbed one of the sandwiches off the tea stands before sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter.

“He…” Daphne slapped his hand as he tried to grab another treat. “Is finishing up his work before tea.”

Colin let her wander around the kitchen for a bit before asking “Why didn’t you tell us about him?”

His little sister sighed as she placed the last few of the Victorian sandwiches she was making on a separate tray. “Because I didn’t want to.”

“Why not?”

Daphne walked around and sat on a stool next to his. “You guys have scared away so many potential boyfriends and I didn’t want you to scare him as well.”

Colin scoffed. “That’s ridiculous.”

His sister raised a brow. “Really?” She turned more towards him. “Tyler and Reggie in Primary. Scott, Ernie, and William in Secondary. Throughout university, Allen, Danny, Caleb, Nicholas, Oliver, Marcus… Must I go on?”

Colin regarded her for a moment before nodding. “Yes, those are only the ones I messed with. How about Ben and Anthony?”

“Ugh.” Daphne groaned as she moved to jump off her chair.

“Hey, come on.” The photographer chuckled while trying to grab her arm. “I’m joking.”

The pianist whipped around to face him. “Well, I’m not.” She said with frustrated tears in her eyes. “He means a lot to me, Colin. So can you all please not muck this up?”

Before Colin could answer, Daphne grabbed a tray of sweets and marched out of the room. He quickly went to follow her but he paused in the doorway when he saw that she ran into the “Simon” fellow. Colin stepped back a bit to be out of sight and noticed how the man was caressing her hair as he asked what was wrong.

Daphne shook her head but the bloke wasn’t buying it. Regardless, he just grabbed the tray out of her hands before placing a soft kiss on her forehead. Colin could see how this made Daphne smile as she wiped off the forming tears with her cardigan sleeve before Simon asked her where she needed the tray and she guided him away.

As Colin took stock of it all, he realized that while he and Daphne were close, this man was very much in the position to take his spot as the #1 guy in Daphne’s life, if he hadn’t already.

If there was one thing that Daphne knew about her family, it is that they are some of the nosiest people to roam the planet.

As Hyacinth had shown early, they were not afraid to ask questions that could come of as very rude. So when the family gathered for lunch that afternoon, Daphne had already prepared for the worst. As soon as she and Simon sat on a loveseat, in a circle of chairs with the rest of her family, the questions started.

“So Simon Basset, is it?” Benedict grinned as he slumped back into his usual armchair.

“Yes.” Simon smirked as he handed Daphne one of the jams off the table.

“Is it true that you own the Hastings House Conglomerate?” Colin asked through a mouthful of food.

“Colin.” Daphne said in a scolding tone, a blush rushing up her cheeks.

She turned to Simon, expecting him to look appalled by the question but the man was just chuckling. When he noticed the surprised look on her face, he just raised a brow. “Come now. After all the stories you’ve told me about them, did you honestly not expect them to Google me?”

Daphne snickered as she spread jam over a scone. “You have a point.”

Colin looked between the two of them. “What did she say about us?”

“Oh nothing,” Simon shook his head as he picked up his tea. “Just some stories about overprotective brothers who have a knack for… what did you call it, love?”

“Keeping their grubby hands and runny noses to themselves.”

“Aw yes.” Simon smirked at them, he took a sip of his drink before continuing “I have been told to ignore everything you say. But to answer your question, yes. I do own HHC. It’s the family business.”

“What’s a conglomerate?” Hyacinth asked as she piled more Victorian sandwiches on her plate.

Simon snickered at the sight. “It means I manage a few businesses under the Hastings House name. But we’re quite small compared to some of the ones in America.”

Daphne chuckled. Simon was selling himself short. HHC had a real estate division, agricultural division, travel division, charity foundations, and much more. He basically ran a small country.

“Something funny, Bridgerton?”

Daphne looked over at her boyfriend. “Oh no, nothing at all. Call your “small” empire whatever you want.”

As Simon chuckled, Daphne took note of how no one, except her mother and Colin, of course, were eating their treats or drinking their tea. All eyes were on her and Simon. “Have you all forgotten how to blink or are you going to continue sitting there staring like a bunch of fish?”

The Bridgerton siblings all blinked at once before looking down at their food with grand interest. Out of the corner of her eye, Daphne noticed her mother shake her head before looking over at the couple. “How is your Aunt Agatha, Simon?” She asked.

“She is well. Last I checked, she will be spending the week at the gambling dens with the other department heads.” Simon set down his drink. “But she says she will be attending your party next week.”


“Wait, do you mean Agatha Danbury?” Eloise asked as she leaned forward in her seat. Simon nodded. “She is one of my feminist icons. Is it true that she killed her husband to steal his fortune?”

“Eloise!” Violet said in a scolding tone that perfectly mirrored Daphne’s.

Again, Simon just chuckled. “She did nothing that adventurous I’m afraid. Most of her money is from her own accords. Most of her husband’s fortune was left to his nieces and nephews anyway. But she is the most financially savvy person I know. She taught me everything I know about running a business.”

Daphne smiled. She always loved how close Simon and his Godmother were. Even though he was a grown man and no longer needed her around, Daphne did often find him calling his Godmother throughout the week, just talking to her about whatever. While he might not have as big a family as she did, Simon still cared about his deeply.

But growing up with someone as sharp and upfront as Agatha Danbury seemed to prepare him very well for a family as chaotic as hers.

“How many houses do you own?” Gregory asked as he took a sweet from Hyacinth’s plate.

“Gregory!” Violet snapped at her youngest son before looking at Simon with apology in her eyes. “You don’t have to answer that.”

Simon just laughed once again. “That’s alright Violet. I don’t have many houses, more so just plots of undeveloped land or buildings that I try to preserve whether for historical preservation or environmental protection…” He shrugged.


“But I do own a castle.”

“A castle?” Fran squeaked as she choked a bit on a piece of cake.

“Yes. Clyvedon over in Hastings, it’s my own personal piece of history I like to say.”

Daphne smiled at the thought of the massive estate. “Clyvedon is spectacular.” She gushed. “He took me there during spring break. I have never seen somewhere so picturesque before.”

It’s true. Simon tried to keep the castle in working order as it had been during its heyday, with a few modern upgrades, and thanks to the staff stationed there, it was still very much a livable estate. The castle was mostly still used as a place of residence but the surrounding town was used as a living history site to show what times were like in the 19th century. All that plus Simon’s need to romance her in every way during their stay made her feel like the protagonist of a period romance.

“Is that where all those castle photos came from on your Instagram?” Fran asked.

As soon as Daphne said yes, Hyacinth, the little history buff, was bouncing up and down in her seat. “Can I visit?” She looked at Simon with her puppy dog eyes that seemed to get everyone in the house to bend to her will. “Please Simon.”

And it seemed Simon wasn’t immune to this phenomenon. “Anytime you want.” He said with a smile on his face.

For a moment, Daphne thought he was joking. But when she looked over at him, he looked back at her with those golden-brown eyes and Daphne knew that answer was sincere. That’s what she loved about this man. While he could sometimes be cheeky, arrogant, and stoic, he was always generous, kind, and caring.

Throughout the rest of the tea, Simon took her siblings’ nosy questions with stride and she could see all of her siblings, even her older brothers, starting to enjoy his company. When they went back up to her room to rest for a bit, as soon as the door closed behind her, she planted a hard kiss on his lips.

Simon smiled when she pulled away. “What was that for?”

“Nothing… I’m just glad you’re mine.”

Anthony Bridgerton was hard to impress.

Whether it was arrogance or stubbornness, no one knew for sure but it was not easy to get on his good side… if such a thing existed.

Even with his family, it was rarely shown that he had a heart because of how guarded he kept it. But when they went to Aubrey Hall for their summer getaway, he really tried to let those walls down and forget all of those troubles so he could enjoy time with his family.

As he pulled into the front of the house just as the sun was going down, Anthony could already picture the times they would have together.

Game Nights.

Long Hikes.

Beach Days.

Just the family.

Or that’s what he thought until he walked inside the house, not to be greeted by his loving family but by his university rival.

Simon Basset, a face he wishes he could forget.

The man who stole the final seat on the debate team from him, scammed him out of having the top GPA at Oxford and even beat him out as the beer pong champion senior year.

A more infuriating person could not exist.

At the sound of the door slamming closed behind him, Simon, along with Benedict and Colin, who had been talking to the bastard, turned to face him.

Benedict smirked at him. “Oh brother, you’re here.” He walked over and gave him a hug. “How was the trip?”

“Fine.” Anthony said through gritted teeth, not taking his eyes off the intruder.

Before the eldest Bridgerton could demand an explanation of why the man was here, his little sister made her way down the stairs with a smile on her face that lit up the room. “Anthony.” She smiled before wrapping him in a big hug.

Daphne always made him smile, even if it was only the tiniest one. “Hi sissy.”

“How was the drive?”


“Ah ah ah, Daffy.” Colin interrupted. “Isn’t there something you should address first?”

Their sister rolled her eyes before glaring at the photographer, who pulled out one of his many cameras. “I was getting there.” She snapped before pulling him over to his college rival. “Anthony, this is Simon, I believe you went to Oxford together.”

The man smirked at him before holding out his hand. “Been a while, Bridgerton.”

Anthony just stared at it for a moment before looking back at his stupid face. “Not long enough. What are you doing here, Basset?”

“I invited him.” Daphne said with her stiff upper lip engaged.

Anthony looked over at her. “Why would you do that?”

“Because…” She started, wriggling her fingers together. “Simon is my boyfriend.”

Anthony’s bag dropped from his hand. “Boyfriend! Since when do you have a boyfriend?”

She shrugged. “Since October.”

“Octo…” Anthony almost screamed before pausing for a moment and looking at his sister with quizzical eyes. “You kept a secret from this family for that long?”

“That’s what I said.” Eloise murmured as she passed the group to go through to the dining room.

Anthony ignored her as he looked between the… couple again. “Since when does an 8-month relationship warrant an invitation to our family holiday?”

Daphne glared at him. “Since when did you become more of an asshole?”

“Seems not much has changed.” Basset mumbled under his breath for everyone to hear, making the other Bridgeton brothers chuckle.

“What did you say?”

Simon smirked at him. “Nothing. Nothing at all.” Then the man had the audacity to give his sister a hug and Anthony could feel his blood boil.

But before he could push him off his sister, his mother came into the room with open arms to greet him, which made the rest of the group walk away to get ready for dinner. As Violet tried to pry a good sentence of dialogue from him, his eyes were just glued to how close Basset and his sister were standing together as they helped the younger Bridgertons set the dinner table.

He felt his eye twitch every single time, Simon brushed a hand along Daphne’s arm to grab something on the other side of her, or when he leaned closed to whisper something in her ear that made her laugh.

What gave him the right?


The eldest Bridgerton turned to his mother who was giving him her disciplinary glare. “Yes, Mother?”

“Is there a problem?”

“No, I just didn’t realize that Daphne was bringing… a man when she sent those messages.”

“Oh well, you all were going to have to meet him eventually.”

Anthony felt his eyes narrow. “You knew about this?”

“Yes. Simon is Agatha Danbury’s Godson. We were actually planning to set him and Daphne up but it turned out they were already together. Isn’t that the sweetest thing?”

“Adorable.” He grumbled.

“Well, you should go put away your things before dinner. We have a lot to talk about.” Violet said before walking into the dining room where most of the family was laughing at something Simon said.

He had only been in this house for a couple of hours and he already had people eating out of the palm of his hand just like in university.

“Aw, the angry vein is engaged.” Benedict teased as he poked at the offending vessel. “Tell me, brother. What do you think of our sister’s surprise guest?”

“Shut up Benedict.” The lawyer said before grabbing his bags and heading to his room.

Anthony tried to block out the cackling chuckle that echoed behind him to no avail.

Dinner was no better.

The family was treating his nemesis like he was a brand new puppy on Christmas morning, but they were the ones bright-eyed and bushy-tailed taken in by his charms.

They laughed at Simon’s jokes and anecdotes the entire time.

Eloise asked his opinions, more than once.

Fran and Hyacinth were asking him silly questions back and forth that he answered with ease.

He even got Gregory to eat his peas.

Worst of all, Daphne just sat next to him, her eyes completely smitten as she practically hung on his every word, just like every girl did during University.

Basset didn’t know when to quit it.

He already had the better grades, job prospects, and resume when they were at University.

The man had everything Anthony wanted and now he was trying to take his little sister too.

When would it end?

When the family finally retired for bed, Anthony was pondering ways to seek out petty revenge in the dead of night but his plans claim to a halt when he saw Simon follow Daphne into her room and close the door behind them, fully putting him on edge.

Ever since Daphne started dating, he and his brothers had been trying to make sure that she wouldn’t end up with a total fuckboy or asshole. But leave it to their sister to work around them and end up a prick like Basset.

He was not impressed with Daphne’s choice of boyfriend.

Not one bit.

Chapter Text

Simon loved to cuddle his girlfriend in the morning.

For him, there was no better feeling than waking up in the morning with her in his arms and that’s where he wanted her to stay.

So when his eyes opened to the morning sun streaming through the window and he gazed at Daphne’s still sleeping form, he couldn’t help but smile.

She always looked so beautiful in the morning and couldn’t wait for the day when he could say that he was waking up next to his wife.

He placed a small kiss on her forehead before heading to their en suite bathroom. By the time he walked out, Daphne was sitting up in the bed, stretching her arms. Simon chuckled a bit as he walked back over to the queen-sized bed and sat back against the headboard.

“Good morning beautiful.” He smiled, putting an arm around her shoulder.

She gave him a sleepy grin as she scooted over to him and laid her head against his shoulder. “Morning.” She greeted, curling into his chest.

Simon wrapped his other arm around her to pull her closer and placed another kiss on top of her head.

It was very rare when they had quiet moments like this, with his early morning meetings and her early morning classes. So whenever the chance came to snuggle in the morning, he took it. And if it led to early morning sex… then he wouldn’t complain.

But it seemed that would not be the case this morning as Daphne tried to untangle herself from his arms.

“Where are you going?” He asked as she slipped to the other side of the bed.

Daphne grabbed the matching silk robe to her pajamas and slipped it over her shoulders. “To make breakfast.”

Simon frowned as he reached out to bring her back. “Breakfast is overrated.”

She moved a bit out of his reach. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, sir.”

“This coming from someone who believes that cake pops count as a meal.”

“They are very filling.”

“I know something else very filling.” Simon smirked as he pulled her back over to him and started peppering kisses along her neck.

Daphne scoffed. “You are a sex addict. You know this right?”

“If I’m remembering correctly, you were the one who initiated it yesterday. I could say you are just as addicted as I, my dear.”

His lover couldn’t turn away enough to hide the growing blush on her cheeks. “Regardless, I have to go cook.”

“Why would you do that when you could spend time in bed with me?”

“Because I always cook breakfast on the first day and there are more people in this house than just you and me.”

Simon sighed. Sadly, this was much different from their excursion to Clyvedon where they only had castle staff to contend with. During this vacation, he was going to have to share his lovely girlfriend. “Fine.” He relented, loosening his hold on her.

But when she stood up and turned back, she moved his hands back to her waist. He looked up at her and smirked at the smile on her face. “If you really want my company, you can come help. Wow everyone with your cooking while I bake some scones.”

He chuckled for a moment before standing. “I can do that.”

Daphne waited for a moment as he threw on a shirt and sweatpants over his boxers before leading him downstairs into the kitchen. They immediately started rummaging around the room, grabbing this and that out of the pantry and cabinets to cook for the Bridgerton family.

“Eggs Over Easy for you, darling?” Simon asked as he placed a pan on the stovetop. He knew that the only way she had her eggs but he always liked to ask.

“Yes and scrambled for everyone else…” Simon nodded as he located the salt and pepper. “Except Benedict and Mama like them poached.”


“And a cheesy omelet for Colin.”

Simon chuckled as he looked at his girlfriend who was measuring out dry ingredients for her favorite raspberry scones. “Just how many ways do you all have your breakfast in the morning?”

She scoffed. “Too many. That’s why everyone has to take turns cooking breakfast and dinner. The rest of the day we usually snack and fend for ourselves.”

Simon nodded. “Noted. I just hope you have enough eggs.”

Daphne smirked as she walked over to the refrigerator and pulled the door open. When she turned back, she placed three cartons of eggs on the counter. “The farmer down the road sells to us while we’re here. Easy money for him.”

“I can imagine.”

With that settled, the couple went about making breakfast and it felt like they were back in Simon’s loft for a moment. The way they moved around each other, reaching for ingredients, passing bowls to one another. Daphne even brought down her phone and started listening to one of their favorite playlists, dancing around Simon as she sang along after putting the baked goods in the oven, making him chuckle and sing along.

Another song and dance session had just ended in giggles when Violet came strolling through the kitchen in her long silk robe. “Well good morning you two.” She greeted as she sat on one of the stools next to the kitchen island.

“Morning Mama.” Daphne smiled as she took another scone off the baking tray.

“Morning Violet.” Simon said as he placed a plate full of food in front of the Bridgerton matriarch. “Poached eggs on toast, Sausage, and a Raspberry scone for you, I believe.”

The older lady gave him a beaming Bridgerton smile in return. “Well thank you Simon. I didn’t know you could cook.”

“Aunt Agatha made sure of it. She always said that everyone eats therefore everyone should know how to cook.”

“A good sentiment.”

“That’s what I said.” Daphne chimed in as she placed the serving plate of scones on the breakfast nook table. As she came back over to get more plates, she snickered. “But when we first started dating, he usually just went out for food at nearly every meal.”

“And she insisted that it was a waste of money.” Simon continued as he finished up Colin’s omelet.

“So I suggested that we take a cooking class together and there I come to find that he is very skilled in the kitchen.”

“So now she demands breakfast in bed on Saturday mornings.”

“Because waking up to warm French Toast and Eggs is the best way to start the weekend.” The couple said at the same time, making them look at each other and chuckle once they realized it. Daphne looked over at her mother and noticed the sly smirk on her face. “Mama? Something wrong?”

“Nothing.” Violet said as she glanced at Simon with a mischievous look in her eyes. “This is delicious. Thank you both.”

“No problem.” Simon smiled as he shared a look with his hopefully future mother-in-law.

Soon after Simon and Daphne had finished the rest of their breakfast prep, the rest of the Bridgerton clan started making their way down the stairs, gathering their own meals and sitting at the island counter or in the breakfast nook. Their cheeky grins and delighted moans let the couple know that they had done a good job.

“These are quite good.” Anthony said after swallowing a mouthful of scrambled eggs, starting on his second helping. “Thank you, Daphne.”

“Oh, I didn’t make them.” She smiled as she broke off another piece of her scone. “Simon did.”

Anthony’s fork stopped midway to his mouth as he glanced over to his university colleague. He set it back down and reached into the middle of the table. “Could use some salt.”

Simon controlled the urge to roll his eyes as he grabbed another scone, leaning back to listen to another one of Colin’s travel stories and laughing along with the Bridgerton family at the photographer’s exploits.

While Simon preferred morning cuddles with his girlfriend, this was quite a good way to start the day as well.

“Fran, I really don’t care.”

“But is he not perfect for Daphne?”

“Sure whatever.”

“Come on Eloise, he could be our first brother-in-law.”

“I don’t care what he becomes, as long as he keeps cooking food like this.”

Simon was not easily intimidated by others.

After all he had been through with his father, he decided that he was not going to let people push him around any longer. He did not tolerate bullies in school or at work. He did not let people criticize his work unless it was constructive. And he sure as hell did not let anyone dictate his relationship with Daphne.

He knew that he wanted to marry this woman.

Better than that, he knew he was going to marry this woman and he was not going to let anyone tell him that he can’t.

Even if those people were her own brothers.

Simon knows how much family means to Daphne and he was happy that he finally got to meet them. So far, they had brought him into their family circle with open arms and he was thankful for that but he knew something was brewing every time he felt the older Bridgerton brothers stare at him.

The Big Brother Talk.

He could tell the eldest had some disdain for him but the other two seemed pretty chill about him. But he was sure that they were reserving judgment until a later time. So when the Bridgerton women were out on a bike ride around the neighborhood, he should have known what to expect as he roamed the home library looking for something to read for the week.

He had just grabbed a book off of one of the higher shelves and started reading the description when he heard someone call


Simon looked over to the library entrance to see Benedict and Colin standing there, arms crossed over their chests as they stared him down. The older man chuckled as he looked back the book in his hand. “I was wondering how long it would take for you to corner me.”


He glanced over at the two brothers. “You two are here to give me the big brother talk, right?” Their silence and shifting on their feet gave him his answer. “Well let me save you the trouble.” He started as he flipped through the pages. “No, I am not with Daphne for her trust fund or because I need a trophy wife. I have never been arrested or done drugs or hit anyone when it wasn’t for self-defense. I am not cheating on Daphne nor have I or will I ever do such a thing. She is not some fling or passing fascination, she is my future wife, plain and simple.” He slammed the book closed with his final point. When Simon looked back over at the two brothers, they stood there looking at him with their mouths slightly ajar.

“Does that answer all your questions or is there more to your interrogation?”

Benedict coughed in his elbow before responding. “I think you covered pretty much everything.”

“Good.” Simon smiled as he put the book back on the shelf.

“Well except one.” Colin stated making Simon look back. “Why is our brother so peeved at you?”

Simon shrugged as he leaned against one of the shelves. He heard the youngest Bridgerton brother ask his eldest sibling to tutor him in history which was probably the only reason Anthony wasn’t here to tear him apart. Regardless, he didn’t know what he did to the brother to warrant such an attitude. “No idea. We weren’t terribly well associated at school but we did cross paths a couple of times. But nothing significant comes to mind so… your guess is as good as mine.”

Before the brothers could say anything else, a perky Daphne walked into the room. “Oh, there you are.” She smiled as she skipped over to give Simon a hug.

“Hello love.” He said, placing a kiss on top of her head.

“What are we?” Colin whined.

“Completely irrelevant.” Daphne smirked as she turned around to face them, still in Simon’s arms.

Both of the older men glared at her before Benedict dignified her with a response. “You know there was a time when you respected us as your elders.”

“Not by choice.”

Simon snickered as he held her closer. “Don’t worry. She has very little respect for me as well.”

She looked up at him. “That’s because you’re an asshole.”

Simon shrugged because he knew it was true at times. There was a reason that not everybody loves him. “An asshole that you find very sexy.” When she glared at him, he shrugged again. “Your words, not mine. But I must say… I’m not surprised.”

She squirmed out of his arms and turned to face him. “This…” She gestured at his perfectly sculpted body. “is why I don’t respect you at times.”

“Well, I’ll still respect you regardless.”

That made her smile even more. “I love you.” She said before grabbing his hand and dragging him out of the library past her brothers. “Now come along, I want to show you something.”

As they weaved through the corridors of Aubrey Hall, he chuckled as he tried to figure out their final destination. “Where are we going?” He asked.

“Out.” She snickered as she pulled him out the back door towards the hedge maze behind the property and when they made their journey halfway through the green alleys, she turned around and pulled him down for a deep kiss. “You have five minutes to ravish me before one of my siblings comes looking for us.”

That was all the direction he needed to start running his hands all over her body.

Long ago, he would have been intimidated by the prospect of a relationship, of letting someone in to see him for who he was.

But being with Daphne was nothing of the sort.

Being with her was the easiest thing he had ever done.

“What do you think?”

“There is literally nothing wrong with him. He’s annoyingly perfect.”

“I know right.”

“But you know what… Daphne should be thanking us. Without our meddling, she might have not ended up with this bloke.”

“You… are absolutely right.”

Simon did not hate children.

He just didn’t know what to do with them.

Growing up an only child with a father who hid him away and did not give a shit about family with only a homeschool teacher as company did not leave him much room to socialize with kids his age. Even after he moved into his godmother’s house and he started going to private school, he was not the most talkative child. He got better at socializing among his peers as he got older but he still didn’t really know what to say around children.

The most socializing he did with children nowadays was with Will and Alice’s boys, but at their ages right now, all they wanted to take about were cartoons and sports, so the conversations were never that deep.

But Daphne’s two youngest siblings were much more… advanced than that.

He quickly found this out when they were halfway through the first week of their retreat during a quiet moment with Daphne in the music room.

Simon genuinely liked listening to Daphne play the piano. It was very relaxing for him as he did busy work and he could spend more time with her. So while she practiced for the day at the house’s grand piano, he sat in a nearby lounge chair with his current read. But before he could get too lost in the narrative of Dorian Gray, the two youngest Bridgertons came bursting into the room.

“Daphne!” They yelled.

A cacophony of chords rang throughout the room as Daphne abruptly stopped her playing. She slowly turned to her youngest siblings. “Yes?”

“We’re bored.” Gregory announced.

“Okay…” Daphne shrugged. “And what do you want me to do about that?”

“Help us not be bored.” Hyacinth whined with a pout across her face.

“I can’t. I have to practice.” The older woman said as she turned back to the piano.

“You practice every day.”

“Yes, that is part of being a musician, practicing regularly.” Daphne said as she flicked through the pages of her song composition books. “Why don’t you two go see what Anthony’s up to?”

“He’s working.” Gregory sighed.


“He’s on a hike with Eloise and Colin.”


“Gardening with Mama.” Hyacinth scoffed.

Daphne shook her head at the folly of all her family being busy. “Well, you two could always entertain each other. Not everyone can stop what they’re doing to entertain you.”

Though those words might be true for the rest of the Bridgerton clan, it seemed the youngest two had their eyes set on a new target. Simon’s reading was swiftly interrupted when the two padded over to him and stared him down from the end of the lounger.

He slowly lowered his book as he nodded to acknowledge them. “Hello.”

“What are you doing?” Gregory asked.

“Reading…” The older man answered as he turned a page. When he looked back up, the young ones were still looking at him with their doe-like eyes. “Is there something you two wanted?”

“Do you have any work to do?”

Simon shifted in his seat and noticed Daphne smirking out of the corner of his eyes. “Not at the moment.” He said reluctantly.

The younger two smiled as they came to sit at the edge of the lounger with Cheshire Cat grins on their faces. “Do you spend a lot of time at Clyvedon Castle?” Hyacinth asked.

“Not really. I use it more so as a vacation home.”

“So what happens when you’re not there?” Gregory questioned.

Simon slowly bookmarked his place in his Oscar Wilde tale. “The staff keep up the building and do tours of the Castle and the surrounding estate and town.”


“Well, since we try to keep the area fairly true to how it was in the early 1800s, it gives people a look into how one might live during the Regency Period of England.”

“That’s so cool.” Hyacinth said as she bounced in her seat. “Do they hold Harvest Festivals like they did back then?”

Simon smirked as he put his book aside. “At the right time of year, yes.”

“Do they hold jousting tournaments?” Gregory chimed in.

Simon shook his head as he let out a laugh. “I’m afraid those are a bit too medieval for the town.”

“You have horses there though, right?” Hyacinth asked leaning forward in her seat.


“Could I have one?”

Daphne called out her sister but Simon was just controlling the urge to fall out from laughing. He knew that there was very little chance of them leaving him and Daphne alone for the time being so he didn’t mind fulfilling the young lady’s request. “How about a pony?” He asked.


Simon smiled as he picked up a scrap piece of paper from the table beside him and started folding it. The muscle memory came back from his childhood as he folded the paper over and over, creasing the lines as he went. During this, Gregory and Hyacinth just watched in awe as the shape of a horse fully came out.

“And there.” Simon said after he placed the final fold, holding out the small figurine to Hyacinth.

“Wow!” She squealed as she held the delicate piece in her hands.

“Can you show me how to do that?” Gregory asked.

“Me too.”

Simon chuckled as he picked up some more paper. “Alright, it’s a bit tricky…” He said as he handed them each a piece. “But I believe you two can keep up.”

The older man slowly went through the motions of folding the paper and guiding the young ones if they messed up and soon enough, they had a stable full of horses and obstacles for them to “jump” over.

Gregory and Hyacinth just finished two more as Violet walked into the room. Hyacinth smiled as she spotted her and ran over. “Mama, look what Simon helped us make.”

Violet looked down at all the horse figurines that they made with a smile across her face. “Well, isn’t this lovely?” She lightly gasped before looking between her two youngest. “Did you two thank him for his help?”

“Thank you, Simon.” They said in unison.

He smiled at them. “You are both very welcome.”

“I believe there might be some sticks and moss you can use outside to make a stable diorama for your horses.” Violet said.

With the prospect of a new project, Gregory and Hyacinth followed their mother out of the music room to go outside, leaving the room silent once again as Daphne finished playing another piece.

When Simon looked over at his girlfriend, she had a small smile on her face. “What?”

“Nothing.” She smiled while placing her head on her hands that laid on the piano. “But I think you are the one person in this house who hasn’t immediately turned the two of them away.”

“Well,” He shrugged. “I remember being that inquisitive about stuff when I was younger. I would have loved to have someone indulge my curiosity.”

Daphne stood and made her way over to him and sat in his lap. Simon immediately wrapped his arms around her as she brushed her hand over his hair. “You’re an amazing man. You know that right?”

“I think that is partially because of you, love.” He mused. But when she tried to turn away, he brought her closer to him. “I’m serious.” She looked back at him. “I like me better when I’m with you.”

Daphne blushed as she leaned down to place a kiss on his lips. “The feeling is mutual.” The musician laid her head on his shoulder as she picked up his forgotten book. “Can you read to me?”

He faked a sigh. “If I must…” He said as he took the book, leading them both to let out a laugh. “Would you prefer a story that is not so… angsty?”

Daphne shook her head. “You continue your book. I just like listening to your voice.”

Simon smiled as he placed a kiss on her forehead, opening the hardback to where he left off and he began to read out loud.

While children were still a mystery of sorts, he knew exactly what to do when he was around Daphne.

Give her as much of him as she wanted.

Chapter Text

Eloise Bridgerton found men to be the most annoying beings on planet Earth.

Whether it was the fact that she grew up with four brothers or that she saw just how much society favored men’s insights to a woman’s in multiple fields of study, she was always annoyed by males. But her brothers especially were the source of most of her dislike towards men as they had a tendency to do things that would annoy the crap out of her and their sisters.

Like stealing the bathroom in the morning.

She had been in there briefly but she had left to go get her clothes for the day and when she came back, the bathroom door was locked.

Eloise groaned. “Benedict!” She yelled as she banged on the door.

“You snooze you lose sister.” The older man snickered behind the door.

“I was already in there.”

“You shouldn’t have left then.” He said before starting the shower and probably taking all the hot water.

“Ugh!” She screeched before banging on the door one more time.

She would get him later but right now, she needed to finish getting ready for breakfast duty. Daphne usually let her use her bathroom if Benedict was being particularly snarky in the mornings. But when she knocked on her sister’s door, there was no answer.

Most of the time she would just barge in and accept the yelling that would go along with it. But since Daphne’s boyfriend was also staying there, she decided against that. She instead trudged downstairs to use one of the bathrooms near the kitchen.

But when she got close to the back door, she heard Daphne’s voice float through the window.

“Why must we do this first thing in the morning?”

Eloise looked outside to see her older sister and her boyfriend in the backyard. Both of them were wearing workout clothes, but Daphne was also wearing boxing gloves.

The man snickered as Daphne hit the pads he was wearing. “Because it’s an excellent way to get your blood flowing for the day, I’ve told you this.” Daphne did another hit combination before he continued. “I thought you liked mornings.”

Eloise slowly stepped through the door to watch them as her sister answered. “I like mornings where I get to sit around and do nothing.”

“Well, you’re not getting that today. Think fast.”

Suddenly, the older man started throwing jabs at her that the pianist tried to duck underneath before placing weaker-looking punches on the pads. “Now come on Bridgerton, you can do better than that.” He teased.

Daphne glared at him before she tried punching harder and harder until the man started backing up and eventually she landed a punch on his sternum, which knocked the wind out of the man and made him stumble back.

The Bridgerton girl smiled. “Would you look at that? I think I can qualify this as a win.”

“That was dirty.”

“You told me to fight dirty.”

“That I did. I just didn’t think you would do it with me.”

Daphne chuckled for a moment before she found her gaze being drawn over to her sister. “Eloise. How long have you been standing there?”

The younger sister shrugged as she leaned against the doorframe. “Long enough. Since when do you box?”

Her sister raised a brow as she undid the straps on her gloves. “Why do you say it like that?”

“Well, it doesn’t seem like that would be your thing.” Eloise clarified as she walked over to the pair.

Simon chuckled as he took off the pads. “Well, it is. Since she decided that she wanted to be a prizefighter, she can run circles around the best of them in the ring.”

Daphne rolled her eyes before putting away their gear in a nearby bag on the ground. “I wish that was it.” She glanced over at her sister. “El, do you remember Nigel Berbrooke?”

Eloise was taken aback by the sudden change in topic. “Yeah, that old creepy guy who always came up to us at all those high society parties Mother took us to?” When her sister nodded, she continued. “Yeah, what about him?”

Her sister took a deep breath as she stood back up. “Well, you know how relentless he was when it came to asking me out?”


Daphne played with her fingers for a moment. “Well, he wouldn’t take no for an answer, and one night, he… he…”

She didn’t have to continue for Eloise to know exactly what she meant. Regardless, Simon came behind Daphne and started rubbing her shoulders and pressing small kisses on top of her head before continuing her sister’s train of thought. “He attempted something I won’t dignify with words when your sister planted a facer, deservedly so.”

Eloise gaped at her older sister. “He… why didn’t you tell me about this? Do the idiots know about this because…”

Daphne immediately looked up at her. “No, they don’t because it is none of their business. I don’t like talking about it and the last thing I needed was for any of them to go postal on him.”

“But he deserves it.”

“He did.” Simon agreed.

Daphne rolled her eyes again. “Well, don’t worry. Simon took care of all that after he tried to breach the restraining order I have on him now.” That just made Eloise respect Simon even more. “But Simon started taking me to his friend’s gym for self-defense classes and… it’s been really helpful so, I box now.” She shrugged.

Eloise had always seen her sister as a more proper young lady but she knew that Daphne did have a tomboy-ish side thanks to their brothers. But the fact that she felt like she had to take up something like this to protect herself felt so wrong, but it made Eloise admire her that much more. “Daph…”

The pianist interrupted her before she could say anything of significance. “Is there something that you wanted?”

Eloise bit her lip before answering. “Yeah, can I use your bathroom? Ben’s hogging ours.”

“Yeah, sure. Just keep it clean.” Daphne shrugged off Simon’s hands before walking back over to the gear bag.

“Alright.” Eloise said in a small voice. She turned back to walk back to her house when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

“Eloise.” The teenager looked to see Simon standing there. “Your sister is probably not going to mention this, she still gets flustered by the whole thing, but there are also classes for teens so… if you want I can talk to my friend, get spots for you and Fran in the next session. I know you both are tough already but…”

“Simon…” Eloise interrupted. “I would really appreciate it… if you did sign me up, I’ll talk to Fran about it.”

Simon gave her a small smile. “Good.”

He turned back to walk towards Daphne as she started back towards the house. But she glanced back at the couple once more. Simon had Daphne wrapped in his arms and pecked kisses all over her face, making the pianist giggle and smile.

Eloise let out a small smile herself before she reentered the house.

Men might be annoying but at least this one had a good heart… and it seemed like he loved her sister very much.

While Daphne could definitely be a homebody, she loved going on outings with her family.

As long as she didn’t have to come in the same car as them.

There was a beach near Aubrey Hall that was a bit of a tourist destination. The family would frequent it at least once during their summer retreat and it was always fun. But she was definitely happy that she had convinced Simon to drive them in a vehicle separate from her mother’s van which all of her other siblings had piled into.

Of course Simon, being the charmer he always is, enjoyed the extra private time with his girlfriend, which he tried to take advantage of when they pulled into the beach parking lot a few minutes before her family.

“Is there a specific reason you wanted us to drive here alone?” Simon asked as his hand ran over Daphne’s thigh, which was exposed by the jean shorts that she wore that day.

Daphne giggled as she wrapped her hand around his. “It’s definitely not the reason you think it is.” She leaned over, pecked a kiss on his cheek, and pulled back before he could turn his head fast enough to steal a real kiss. “Road trips with my family are nothing but torture. I wanted to avoid all that chaos.”

“Oh, it can’t be that bad.” Simon said, undoing his seatbelt.

Before Daphne could argue, the Bridgerton van pulled in next to them, prompting them to get out of their car.

As soon as the sliding back door opened, Eloise leaped out of the car, holding her hand to her chest. “Oh my God. That was torture.”

Daphne smirked at Simon while they both leaned against his car waiting for the rest of their group to disembark from their vehicle.

“I mean seriously, did we have to listen to that song over and over again?” Eloise groaned.

“Better than listening to your audiobooks.” Hyacinth countered as she jumped down.

“At least I get smarter when I listen to those. My brain just melts when I listen to that trash.”

Before the fighting could get worse, Violet got out from the passenger side and glared at her children. “Alright, that’s enough you two.” She said gathering her beach bag on her shoulder. “Please can you all just get our stuff out of the boot?”

“Yes, Mama.” All of the Bridgerton children, including Daphne, agreed.

But the pianist didn’t realize that she did so on instinct until Simon gave her an amused look, to which she just playfully shoved him away. Still, they helped the family retrieve chairs and such out of their boot before grabbing their own stuff from Simon’s car. The group of ten then made their way down the beach and set up their own massive camp at the halfway point.

Once Daphne set up her and Simon’s stuff, she removed her light jacket and tank top to reveal the black bikini top she wore. She turned to her boyfriend, who looked at her body with appreciation like she hoped he would. “Simon, can you put some sunscreen on my back?”

“Of course.” He smirked before taking the lotion bottle from her hand.

He had just started rubbing it on her lower back when Anthony called “Daphne! Where’s the rest of your bathing suit?” He glared at his college mate as the man continued rubbing the lotion into her skin.

Daphne glared at him under her sunglasses. “The same place you put you can shove your misogyny, up your…”

“Daphne!” Violet scolded from the other end of their camp, tilting her head towards her two youngest.

“Sorry, Mama.” The eldest daughter mumbled as she started to apply lotion to Simon’s back.

“Good one sis.” Eloise snickered as she opened up her current read.

After everyone set up their little areas and covered themselves in sunscreen, the elder Bridgerton brothers set up a small volley net that they brought with them.

“You play, Basset?” Colin asked as he picked up the ball from his stuff.

“I dabble.” Simon shrugged.

Soon enough, the businessman was pulled into a three-on-three game with Colin and Hyacinth against Anthony, Benedict, and Gregory. The rest of the women decided to sit under their beach umbrellas and rest for a bit.

Daphne was content scrolling through Instagram and glancing up every once and a while to catch a glimpse of Simon spiking the ball or just standing there looking as sexy as ever without his shirt on. But her relaxing came to an end when a group of women set up their own camp right near her brothers’ game. The ladies were dressed in scantily clad bathing suits and sitting in full view of the men. Of course, most of them were ogling her brothers. Despite Daphne’s refusal to see them as anything but annoying idiots, she knew that many women found them attractive. The amount of “friends” she had that wanted to be closer to her brothers was ridiculous.

Normally, she would just ignore them and continue relaxing, but one girl, in particular, kept her eyes pinned to Simon and she was trying to make it very obvious that she was interested in him as she walked around the game like a lioness on the hunt.

Daphne was not necessarily a clingy or jealous girlfriend. She knew that Simon was always going to attract some women wherever they went. But that did not mean she would not get territorial where her man was concerned and she knew exactly how to make it clear who he belonged to.

Daphne leaned forward in her chair, taking off her sunglasses before looking at her sisters. “Do you girls want to head down to the water?”

Eloise, who was firmly sat in the shade in a full-body coverup with a huge sunhat on, looked at her before glaring at the beach. “Into the burning sun, you mean.” Eloise scoffed as she turned a page in her novel. “No, I will stay here with my book, thank you very much.”

Fran rolled her eyes as she stood from her chair. “I’ll go.”

Daphne smiled as she stood as well. She undid her button and slipped off her shorts, revealing the matching bottoms to her bikini top. After removing the scrunchy from her hair to let it down, she and Fran walked down to the water and she knew Simon’s eyes were on her as she went.

Daphne usually dressed fairly modest in her everyday wear. She favored long-sleeved dresses and shirts with lacy embellishments and wore cardigans to cover thin straps. But she was not afraid to show off her body every now and then, especially for her boyfriend’s pleasure. Her lingerie collection had increased significantly since she realized Simon’s love for it.

She would give it five minutes until he came running over.

As she waited though, there was no reason for her not to catch up with her favorite sister. “So how have things been at home?” She asked as they waded in the shallow waters.

“Quiet.” Fran admitted as she bent down to pick up a shell. “It’s weird how empty the house feels nowadays, sometimes I just want to scream to make something happen.”

“Well don’t get too caught up in wanting chaos.” Daphne laughed. “Once you move out life is moving so fast you will be begging for the days of quiet at the house.”

“I can believe that. Now that you graduated, are you still planning on leaving the city?”

“I don’t really know.” Daphne shrugged. She had always preferred the country to the city. She only moved to the busy London streets to be close to her school and she still didn’t feel any true attachments to the town. “I’m able to practice anywhere so I would gladly leave the city behind for a home in the country but it also depends on Simon’s work. Staying in the city is best for him because he can walk to work. I don’t want to inconvenience him to live a pipe dream.”

“I think you mean the dream.” The little sister scoffed. “Country roads, flower gardens, and tranquil nights. It’s what we have always dreamed.”

Daphne smiled because it was the truth. It was one of the main things they had in common, a love of slow living. “Be that as it may, I cannot just think about me anymore. I love Simon and I wouldn’t want to leave him behind for the country. It’s something we really need to talk about.”

Francesca nodded in understanding before smirking. “Well given how the man looks at you, I don’t think you’ll need to argue your point too long to convince him.”

Before Daphne could turn to see what she meant, she heard a yell.

“Incoming!” A ball slammed into the water next to them, covering both of them in seawater and making them both scream.

Fran pushed her wet hair out of her face and glared. “Colin!”

The man trotted over to the edge of the water with a cheeky smile on his face. “Sorry girls. Didn’t see you there?”

The younger sister didn’t give in to his bullshit excuse. She grabbed the ball out of the water and threw it at the photographer’s stomach, making the man double over in pain.

“Nice one.” Daphne chuckled as the two of them were making their way out of the water. But just as they got to shore Daphne was swept off her feet. She squealed as Simon threw her over his shoulder and walked her back out into the water.

“Simon!” She yelled as he dropped into the sea, completely soaking her.

But as she resurfaced, before she could get mad at the man, he pulled her firmly against his chest and into his arms. “I saw what you were doing.” He whispered into her ear.

Daphne bit her lip. “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.” She said as her arms ran over his biceps.

He pulled her even closer in response. “You, my little minx, are just as insatiable as me.”

She looked up at him with the sultry bedroom look that she has perfected over time. “Maybe even more so… given the right conditions.”

Simon slightly shook his head. “You are so lucky we have an audience right now.”

Daphne chuckled as she felt his hands move down her back. “Well as long as they understand what’s going on.”

Simon raised a brow before glancing over at the woman on the beach and immediately turning to place a kiss on her neck.

“Don’t worry. I’m very happy to be claimed as yours.”

Daphne smirked at his words and pulled him in for a soft kiss… right before another splash tore them apart.

She released her hold on him to look at the shore, where Colin and Benedict were stood there with smirks on their faces.

“It looked like you two needed to cool off.” Benedict called.

Daphne glared at them just as Eloise and Fran came behind the two brothers and pushed them into the water.

The couple laughed as the two men resurfaced.

This put Daphne at ease for the rest of the day as they splashed around in the water, built sandcastles on the shore, and had a picnic back at their camp.

These were the perfect family memories to make and she could not be more grateful that Simon was a part of them.

Hyacinth liked her sister’s boyfriend very much.

If Daphne didn’t marry him, she hoped that the man would wait for her to grow up because he was an amazing person. Throughout the past week at Aubrey Hall, he had continued to be a welcome addition to the family holiday. He talked to her more about the history of Clyvedon and even gave her the local historian’s information. He played games with her and Gregory when everyone else in the house was busy and in the kitchen, he was an asset.

The young girl had managed to convince Daphne to make some homemade ice cream and it tuned out that Simon was great for churning the maker.

“Why don’t we just buy ice cream?” Gregory complained as he held the bucket still for the older man.

“Because it tastes so much better when you make it yourself.” Hyacinth gushed as she helped Daphne set up some sundae bar toppings.

“If you say so.”

“Alright,” Simon grunted as he turned to the handle more. “One… More… Time.” He stopped, opened the top of the can, and got a bit on a spoon before holding it out to Gregory. “Alright what do you think?”

Gregory licked the treat off the spoon and smiled a bit. “It’s pretty good.”

Simon got himself a spoonful and tried it himself. “Oh, I concur.”

“And all of our toppings are good to go.” Daphne smiled as she put the last of the strawberries in a bowl. “Now let’s get some before Colin sniffs it out..”

The older man started scooping out the ice cream into bowls with ease. “A bowl for the young lady.” He said as he handed Hyacinth some of their newly made treat.

“Thank you, Simon.” The girl smiled before putting some sprinkles and cake bits in her bowl.

“Gregory, easy on the caramel.” Daphne scolded.

The boy rolled his eyes as he put down the syrup bottle. “Fine but I’ll need some chocolate too.”

“Don’t worry I’ll save you some.” Simon assured as he poured some into his bowl.

“Simon, don’t encourage him.” Daphne said as placed her own toppings in her bowl before turning to her younger brother. “You already have enough sweets today so limit your sugar please.”

“Alright, Mother.” The boy scoffed.

“If I was truly Mother, I wouldn’t have helped you make ice cream in the first place.”

“I bet Simon would have helped us.”

“That’s not necessarily true.”

“Actually it is.” Simon said with confidence and he stirred around his concoction in his bowl. “Helping them helps me get good ice cream.”

“Your sweet tooth is ridiculous.”

“Well, we all can’t be content with bananas and strawberries as toppings.”

“Why not it’s very good?” Daphne gathered a spoonful of her treat and held it out to her boyfriend. “Try it.”

The man licked it off the spoon and considered it for a moment. “It’s good.” He shrugged. “But it would be better with chocolate.” He gathered a mound some of his and held it out for her. “Try.”

Daphne took in the entire spoonful in her mouth. “See isn’t that… what’s wrong?” He asked when he noticed the grimace on her face after she swallowed.

“Brain Freeze!” She said, rubbing her head for a moment.

Simon put his bowl down before leaning over and kissing her forehead. “How’s that?”

“Better.” The young woman smiled at him.

“Eck,” Gregory scoffed. “You two are way too mushy. I’m gonna go eat in the backyard.”

“I’m coming too. I want to sit in the swing.”

The two thanked the adults for their treats before they quickly scrambled to leave the kitchen, but Hyacinth looked back once more before she did.

Daphne was laughing as Simon tried to place a spoonful of ice cream on her nose and the man cackled when he was successful. But that was before Daphne smacked some caramel sauce on his face.

With that, Hyacinth smiled as she skipped off to her swing.

She was grateful that Simon was here.

Surely this was the man her sister was going to marry and she could not wait to have a new brother who she actually liked.

Simon had never been a boyfriend before but he tried his darnedest to be a good one.

When he first started dating Daphne, it did not take long for her to become his everything. It was hard for him to quantify how much he loved because for a while he had sworn off love. He had grown up with a toxic father in a house where nothing he did was ever good enough. He worked so hard to try and gain a glimmer of love from his father but he never received any.

Luckily his Aunt Agatha, who had been looking to take him in for years as soon as his mother died in childbirth, swooped in and saved him quite literally. She quickly got him resituated in her house, brought in a child therapist, and work hard to give him the affection his father never showed, in her own way of course. Beyond that, becoming such good friends with Alice and Will made him realize how special true love really was and he poured all that love into his relationship with Daphne because he simply adored her.

Even when she wasn’t trying to be seen, she still drew his attention everywhere they went.

Like soon after another family dinner, Daphne had excused herself to be alone outside. Simon knew she needed moments to herself every once and a while but he still liked to make sure she was okay.

A half an hour after she went out, Simon wandered out of the house himself to find her sitting on the swinging bench in the garden. “There you are.”

Daphne looked up from her phone to smile at him, which, like always, made him weak in the knees. “Hi.”

“Would you like some company?”

“From you,” She patted the seat next to her. “Always.”

Simon sat down and immediately put his arm around her, making her tuck into his side. “Taking a moment to breathe?” He asked.

“Yes, I need some peace and quiet every now and then.” She looked up at him. “Are you enjoying yourself?”

“Very much so. Your family is a delight.”

Daphne scoffed a laugh at his statement. “Are you drunk or something? Nobody has ever had such nice things to say about my family.”

“I’m drunk on love for you.” Simon said before placing a soft kiss on her forehead, even as she rolled her eyes. “But to be frank, Anthony is still as much of an ass as I remember him to be.”

“Not a surprise.” She said as she scrolled through her phone. “Whatever happened between the two of you anyway? Anthony can be rude to many people but he usually has a good reason for it.”

Simon shrugged. “No idea. We crossed paths a few times and we were always cordial but I can’t think of a significant event that would…” He looked over at her and noticed the shocked expression on her face. “Are you alright?”

“I got an email from Charlotte Queensly.”

The older man sat up straight. “Seriously?” Charlotte Queensly is well known throughout London. She is one of the poshest society members there are nowadays and she has a hand in just about everything from high-end fashions to fine arts. She organized some of the grand events in London and to be a part of her circle was life-changing. “What did she say?”

“I don’t know I haven’t opened it yet.”

“Well, wait are you waiting for?”

“I don’t know if I want to.”

“It could be the news you have been hoping for.”

“But did I get it because I deserve it?”

Simon sighed. Some of the music concerts that the lady put on were the ones Daphne had been dreamed of being a part of for years but she was always nervous about the prospective actually doing it. Daphne had always lived her life in the shadow of the Bridgerton name. While many high society members revered the family, some were envious of their stature and associated their name with an unmerited lifestyle.

Many of her classmates at school had snuffed Daphne because they thought she only got in because of her family name. Even with the loads of competitions that she had won growing up and being pulled into the Royal College of Music right after secondary school, there were many that still doubted her musical abilities. Like many things, it was hard for Daphne not to believe they were right.

But Simon always tried to convince her otherwise. “Of course, you did. You are brilliant, Daphne and from what I have seen of the rest of your family’s musical talents, you developed this all on your own.” This made her snicker just like he intended. “So go on. I’ll be right here.”

Daphne took a deep breath before opening the message and skimming through it. Her eyes widened. “She wants me to play at the Proms… with my original piece.”

“No…” Simon smiled.

The Proms were a very prestigious musical concert series that was held in London every summer. It was a very exclusive event to get invited to but getting asked to perform there was even more exclusive. Many dreamed of being a part of it but only a handful were selected and it seemed Daphne made the cut.

She nodded behind her hand. “Oh my God.” She smiled as her phone shook in her hand. “They don’t let anybody play new music at the Proms. I can’t believe it. My piece isn’t even that flashy.”

“To hell with that. You’re playing the Proms.” He cheered as he picked her off the bench and swung her around. “I am so proud of you.” He said before placing her down and pressing a hard kiss against her lips. He looked back at the mansion before asking “Should we go tell your family the good news?”

Daphne scoffed. “Oh God no.”

He frowned. “What? Why not?”

“None of them even know what the Proms is, much less how big a deal it is to play an original piece there. They won’t care.”

“I think they’ll care a little.” The older man shrugged.

“No, they won’t. My siblings may be obnoxiously nosy but the one thing they could care less about is my music career. Of all the Bridgerton siblings, my life is the least interesting.” She said placing her phone in her pocket. “I’ll tell Mama later but there is no need to make a big deal about it.”

Simon pursed his lips. He hated when Daphne was like this. Sure she was not the most adventurous person but he still felt like the things she did were interesting. He didn’t like when she downplayed her successes, especially when it came to career-enhancing opportunities like this. She should be running into the house ready to dazzle her family with the news, not whispering about keeping it quiet.

“Da…” He started only to be interrupted.

“Is it getting cold out here?” The pianist said as she ran her hands over her bare arms as she came out here without one of her cardigans.

Simon sighed for a moment before pulling her into his arms. “A bit.”

“We should head in, don’t you think?” She said looking up at him.

One look into those beautiful eyes and he was hers so he put a pin in their conversation. “Yes.” He agreed before she turned to walk away. “I can warm you up.” He smirked.

“That’s what I’m betting on.” She said as she looked at him over her shoulder.

He ran to catch up with her to carry her upstairs and warm her up plenty.

Whatever she needed, he wanted to provide it for her to show how much he loved her.

He hoped she loved him the same way he did and that she would say yes to the question he had for her.

Chapter Text

Daphne never thought she would find someone who could handle her family’s crazy antics and then Simon came along. He had been matching her family’s quirks and sarcasm taunt for taunt throughout the entire retreat. Beyond that, he even looked like he was enjoying himself. She knew he never had a close family growing up like she did but he fit in very well with the Bridgerton clan.

But today was going to be the biggest challenge to see if he could really handle her family and all their chaos.

Family Game Day.

The day when the Bridgertons are at their worst.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Daphne asked as she finished tying up her sneakers.

“As ready as I can be.” Simon chuckled as he put on a short-sleeve shirt that showed off his muscles. “But honestly it can’t be that bad.”

“My siblings and I can be quite competitive.”

“If it is anything like you at trivia night, I am ready for that.”

Daphne scoffed a laugh as she stood from the foot of the bed. While Daphne was definitely one of the less vocal Bridgertons, she was still just as competitive as the rest of them. “Times 8?” She asked as she stood in front of him.

“I’ll manage.” He smirked as his eyes glanced over her tank top and short clad body. “Though keeping my hands off of you will be a challenge in itself.” He said as his hand grazed her lower back in an attempt to pull her closer. He placed a soft kiss on her forehead and Daphne felt herself relax a bit.

Today would be fine.

That’s what she had to keep telling herself.

Fran did not like Family Game Day.

The whole day was dedicated to things she did not consider herself good at. While she was quite skilled with more artistic pursuits and even some feats of strength, her hand-eye coordination sucked, and when it came to the field games her family played for the day, that was the key to winning them all.

So as soon as they finished breakfast that day, the sixteen-year-old dreaded heading out to their first game of the day, croquet, which was the family’s favorite game and where they acted the worst. Probably not the best game to introduce Simon to the day with.

“It’s game time bitches.” Eloise smiled as she tossed her dishes in the sink after she devoured her food.

“Eloise, watch your mouth or you will be benched.” The siblings’ mother called as she stood from her seat.

“Ha.” Gregory laughed as he put away some of the dishes Ben had dried.

“You are already benched, young man.”

The youngest brother frowned. “What?”

“I got a call from your school about the summer work you owe.” Fran saw the blush creep up her brother’s cheek as their mother continued to look at him with disapproving eyes. “You need to get your papers done before you set foot on the field.”

“But I’ll miss most of Game Day doing that.” He whined.

“Then I would get to work if I were you. I’ll be in to check your work momentarily.”

“Ugh!” The twelve-year-old groaned as he stomped out of the room.

The other brothers chuckled for a moment before their mother reminded them to play nice until she returned to referee them. With nonchalant promises made, the rest of the siblings and Simon headed to the shed to get their croquet gear out.

While Anthony went to grab his precious mallet of death, the rest of them started to hammer in the wickets. After Fran placed her two, she wandered back to the start next to the kitchen door. On her way, she noticed Daphne and Simon talking lightly as the pianist showed her boyfriend things about the course. Fran could easily tell how much the older man was smitten with her sister as he hung on her every word. Francesca was so happy that her sister had such a good partner and she hoped to find the same for herself one day.

Once everyone was gathered again, Anthony went through the rules before announcing that Benedict and Daphne would be teams captains for croquet this year. The coin flip was nerve-wracking for Fran because she was very much dreading the picking order for teammates and by pure luck, Benedict got his pick first.

“Yes! Eloise get over here.”

“Woo!” The teenager hi-fived her brother as she stood next to him, making the rest of the family cringe. While the two of them could easily be at each other’s throats, when they worked together, they were deadly. “We will destroy them.” Eloise smirked as she looked at the rest of them.

Daphne rolled her eyes before nodding at her boyfriend. “My first choice is Simon.”

“Of course it is.”

The picks went on easily from there. Ben took Anthony, then Daphne took Colin. Hyacinth gladly took her place on Benedict’s team, leaving Daphne’s team with the worst croquet player in the family.

Colin winced a bit when she walked over to them. “No offense Fran but…”

“I know, I know.” The teen brushed off his obvious disappointment.

“Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.” Daphne informed the group. “I have a plan.”

“I hope so.” Colin said as he looked at the other team’s huddle. “Those four look like they’re preparing for world domination.”

After everyone had their mallets and balls, it was determined that the oldest would go first on each team, meaning Simon was up against Anthony, who looked so smug as he walked up to the start.

“Prepared to lose Basset?” The lawyer said as he practiced his swing.

“I’m prepared to play if that’s what you’re asking.” Simon said as he placed down his ball. The guest was a few months older than Anthony so he would go first.

“I hope you can keep up with us more experienced players.”

The other man rolled his eyes before he studied the backyard lawn. But as he grasped his mallet to hit the ball, Fran heard her sister let out a small gasp.

“Are you alright?” She whispered in her sister’s ear.

“I’m perfectly fine.” Daphne breathed out as she averted her eyes a bit from her boyfriend just as he swung.

Simon’s ball sailed right across the lawn and through the first two wickets.

Anthony’s jaw dropped at the sight. “What the hell?”

The man looked over at the eldest brother. “Oh, didn’t Daphne tell you, I was the three-time golf champion at my country club. The putting green is my strong suit.” He smirked as he swung his club over his shoulder. “Good luck, Bridgerton.”

Fran snickered at the pissed-off look on her older brother’s face. It seemed that pissing off the other team was their team’s unofficial plan as they went on. The Bridgerton siblings constantly  messed with each other so there were times that the smack talk could get out of hand. Especially since they loved antagonizing one another.

Colin groaned as Eloise took another practice swing for her turn, which had now lasted five minutes. “Would you just hit the ball, woman?” He called to her.

Eloise put down her mallet and turned to him with a wide smirk on her face. “You know, I do not like the amount of hostility in your voice. It messes with my chakras.”

The older man’s eyes widened as he gritted his teeth. “You don’t even believe in that hooey!” He said jumping up and down like a toddler. “Now hit the damn ball!”

The teen pointed her mallet at him. “I’ll hit your balls!”

“I’ll hit the both of you if you don’t shut up and play!” Benedict screamed at them.

A window slammed opened in the distance. “Children!” All of the siblings looked over to see their mother glaring at them from the kitchen. “I hope you all are behaving yourselves out there.”

“We are!” They all said in unison, making their guest chuckle.

But one good look at them and their mother knew the truth. “Liars. Simon, I’m sorry you have to witness this.”

“Oh no, nothing to apologize for. This is exactly what I expected.” Simon said before their mother closed the window.

“Really?” Fran asked from her position at the back of the pack.

“Oh yes. You all have not seen your sister during couples’ game night. I have never seen someone so depressed after losing at Charades.”

“How was I supposed to know that this…” Daphne moved her hands around blindly. “Was Peaky Blinders?”

“I would say that’s obvious.” Ben scoffed.

Daphne glared at him. “Oh, would you all just play the stupid game?” She screamed at them.

Play they did until Benedict’s team cheered as Eloise’s ball passed the second to last wicket and was nearing the starting point.

“Well,” Colin remarked. “We’re doomed. Anthony is in prime for first and Fran isn’t even close to coming back.”

“Don’t remind me.” The younger sister said as she walked back to her ball.

“Don’t worry Franny, you’ll be able to play this game someday.” Anthony called from his position in the front.

“Shut up!” Fran yelled at him, trying to keep the tears from welling in her eyes. She looked down at her ball. She had barely made it past the first two wickets, while everyone, even Hyacinth, was starting to make their way back. It was hopeless.

“Fran.” The lady looked up to see Simon jogging over to her and he immediately showed her his phone. He started to show her the little diagrams he made and she smiled when she understood what they meant. “You got it?”

“Yes.” She said with a smile on her face. She hi-fived him before he jogged back to his ball. Fran took a deep breath as she got a target in her sight. Her brothers snickered as she turned the wrong way but they stopped when she hit the ball with such force that it went sailing through the air. The ball almost knocked into Anthony’s head but it hit his ball instead, sending it rolling to the edge of the hill before it tipped over the edge and rolled into the lake.

“No!” The eldest brother cried.

“Yes!” Colin and Daphne screeched.

“That was blasphemy!”

“That was genius!” Colin cheered before looking over at Fran. “How the hell did you do that?”

“It was Simon’s idea. I’m losing anyway, might as well help the rest of the team win.”

“Excellent Simon.”

The older man shrugged. “Simple geometry and physics. It’s just using the law of inertia to enact a force on one object and assessing angles to form a trajectory and…” He stopped once he noticed all the Bridgerton siblings looking at him with skepticism written across their faces, all except Daphne of course. “What?” He asked.

“Are you even real?” Benedict asked.

“What do you mean?”

“You look like that and you have the mind of a genius and you’re rich.” Colin elaborated. “How can all of that possibly exist in one human? Daff, where did you find this guy?”

“Oh come now.” Daphne giggled. “He’s exceptional but this is just him being himself.” She said as she skipped over to place a kiss on his cheek. “He does math problems for fun, so this is child’s play for him. Though I don’t understand how he could ever find them relaxing.”

“People just don’t realize how enthralling math can be.” Simon sighed as he shook his head.

“Nerd.” Colin coughed.

“A nerd who is helping you win and who controls a travel agency that would fund your next photography excursion.”

“All hail the Nerds! You have won us the game after all.”

“We’re not finished yet.” Hyacinth whined.

“Well, Bridgerton bylaws state the goal of the game is to not lose and our dear brother has lost… very badly.”

Anthony looked like he was ready to explode when Gregory came running out into the yard. “I missed it.” He frowned when he got close enough.

“Worry not, we have more games to play.” Colin said as he slung his arm over the youngest brother’s shoulder and messed up his hair.

As they all walked away to clean up the game, Fran could see Daphne and Simon all wrapped up in each other again.

Fran smiled.

This man brought out the best in Daphne.

A side she hadn’t seen in their sister in a long time.

Fran was happy for her. She just hoped that the rest of the family was feeling the same about him.

Daphne never thought she would find someone who knew so much about her and yet it was like Simon could just read her mind at times.

After a long day of outdoor games, the family had settled down for a nice dinner before heading to their living room to do more “quiet” games.

“Alright, every one team up in pairs.” Violet cheered as she sat on of the sofas.

“I want Simon.” Hyacinth declared.

“No, I do.” Gregory insisted.

But when they ran over to him, Daphne stayed sitting in his lap in their now usual loveseat. She glared at her younger siblings. “Back off, he’s mine.”

“Come on, you can share him.”

“Don’t want to.” The pianist said as she snuggled closer into his warm embrace. She smiled when he chuckled in her ear and pulling her closer.

“Sorry, I don’t defy the woman.” Simon shrugged.

The two children sighed before they agreed to partner with each other. Ben sat with Eloise and Colin with Fran, leaving Anthony with their mother. With all the pairs in place, Anthony brought out their first game.

“Who chose the newlywed game?” Eloise grumbled as she picked up a whiteboard.

“I did.” Violet snipped as she shuffled the question cards. “It’s a fun way to get to know each other after being apart for so long. Besides we’re already split up into boy-girl pairs.”

“But must it be so stupidly gendered?”

“It’s honestly a tragedy how straight this game is.” Benedict agreed.

“Just play, you two.” Violet groaned as she picked up the first card. “Her favorite movie?”

“Oh this is not fair, Fran has like ten.” Colin complained from his seat. “Can we write multiple answers?”


Colin groaned as he reluctantly wrote down an answer.

“Alright, Anthony and I will go first.”

Anthony bit his lip before revealing his very wrong answer.

“Seriously, Anthony?” Daphne scoffed.

“What? It’s a valid choice.”

“Everyone knows Mama’s favorite movie is…”

“Pride and Prejudice.” Everyone, including Simon, answered.

“Correct.” Violet said as she flipped around her board.

Anthony just glared at Simon though. “How could you possibly know that?”

“She told me once when I took her and Daphne out for dinner. I bought her a first edition of the book for her birthday.”

“And thank you for that again, Simon.” Violet smiled as she wiped her board clean.

“Alright if you’re so knowledgeable,” Anthony sneered. “Then what’s Daff’s favorite movie?”

Simon scoffed a laugh as he flipped his board. “The Sound of Music.”


“Yes!” Daphne cheered as she flipped her board.

“What? Since when?”

“Since always.”

“When it comes down to it,” Simon smiled “Anything with Julie Andrews will be right.”

“For good reason, she’s flawless! I need to meet her one day.”

“You and me both. My second choice was the Princess Diaries though.”

Daphne smiled before pressing a kiss on his cheek. “You know me so well.”

Anthony groaned as he leaned back into the couch.

The game went on without much fighting, but it came to a close when Hyacinth and Eloise couldn’t stop fighting over who between Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift was the superior singer. They did hangman for a bit but it stopped when Colin had chosen an inappropriate phrase, which made them switch to Taboo, where they constantly kept reminding Hyacinth to not use the words on the cards and everyone else was just struggling to interpret each other’s hints.

“Oh come on, a fall necessity.” Fran groaned.

“A scarf?” Colin said, shaking his head in exasperation.

“Time!” Gregory called.

“Boots!” Daphne, Fran, and Eloise screamed at the man.

“How the hell…”

“Alright, enough.” Violet said, looking ready to be through with the games and the arguing. “Simon and Daphne. Your turn. If you get 10 right, you two get to choose the movie.”

“I’ll do clues.” Simon declared.

“I’m not that bad at it.” Daphne whined.

“Yes, you are, dear.”

“Alright…” Gregory said as he readied the hourglass that came with the game. “Ready, Set… Go!”

Simon pulled the first card and chuckled. “Your favorite bonnet head movie.”

“Sense and Sensibility.”

Simon pulled out another card. “How we met?”

“Coffee Shop.”

“The other time.”

“Blind Date.”

He pulled another. “Your hairdresser’s name is…”


“Our Kitchen Aid is…”

“Powder Blue.”

“As Known as…”

“… Blue?”


“But it’s specifically…”

“Not the time, couples’ night outing.”

“Boxing Match.”

“The incident.”

“… Which one?”

“The one with the thing at the bar.”

“Oh, sour face.”

“Yes… the one series we binged watched.”

“Gossip Girl.”

“Anthony and I went to…”


“My favorite author.”

“Leigh Bardugo.”

“…Your claimed Pottermore results.”



“Biggest lie I ever heard.” Simon mumbled as he put down the last card.

“What do you think she is?” Colin asked with his mouth still ajar from how in sync the couple was.

“Slytherin through and through.”

“What?” Daphne screeched.

The older man raised a brow at her. “Only a Slytherin would purposefully cut someone’s ace during the first round of Spades.”

The woman rolled her eyes. “Will you let that go?”

“No… Just like you won’t let go of that draw 16.”

“Because that was mean.”

“That was brilliant strategy.”

“Alright, I think it’s safe to say you two won.” Benedict chuckled. “What’s the movie?”

“Ugh.” Eloise groaned as she and Ben were just about to win. “Please don’t make it a chick flick.”

Daphne rolled her eyes as she and Simon scrolled through the options in the house’s digital library, then nodded after Simon pointed to one. “Atlantis: The Lost Empire.” She declared.

Some of the siblings sighed in relief but Fran whined. “What? Daphne, I thought you were doing Whisper of the Heart.”

“I’ll watch it with you tomorrow.” The older sister smiled.

“Fine, I’ll go get some snacks.”

Hyacinth and Gregory immediately jumped to go with her and Violet went to supervise her youngest.

“While they do that, I’ll go get your blanket.” Simon declared.

“It’s boiling in here.” Colin said as he took off his sweater.

“But she is forever cold.”

“It’s true.” Daphne said as she hugged her pillow closer.

Simon chuckled before kissing the top of her head. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep you warm.” Making a blush fly up the pianist’s face.

“I bet you will.” Anthony sneered.

Simon rolled his eyes slightly before heading to their room, but Daphne was not keen on sitting around with her judgy brother. “I’m going to help them with the snacks.” She declared before rising from her seat.

As she turned away from the rest of her siblings, she felt a smile creep up her face from just simply thinking of how much she loved Simon.

A regular occurrence nowadays.

Benedict usually stayed out of sibling conflicts. Most of the time if they didn’t involve him, he stayed clear of them, but this one-sided rivalry Anthony had with their sister’s boyfriend was just getting annoying.

Apparently, he wasn’t the only one who was over it as Colin and Eloise pinned their older brother with glares as well, once the couple left the room.

“What?” The lawyer asked, shrugging as he leaned back into the sofa.

“You need to lay off him!” Benedict demanded. “You are the only one in this house giving that man grief.”

“For a good reason.”

“Which is?” Colin prompted, but Anthony didn’t budge making the photographer groan.

“He’s not right for Daphne.” He eventually said.

“He’s kind, respectful, intelligent and he clearly loves our sister. What more should we need?”

“Yeah,” Eloise interjected. “Even I like him.”

“Figures.” Anthony mumbled. “Every girl liked him at university.”


“So, do we even know if he’s been loyal to our sister?” The eldest questioned as he sat back up. “I’ve seen him take multiple phone calls this week alone. He could be having calls with another chit for all we know.”

“Well, I wouldn’t call my Godmother a chit but nice to know you’ve been keeping tabs, Bridgerton.” The four of them turned just in time to see Simon placed a large blanket over Daphne’s seat on their sofa. “Though if you must know, and it seems you must, I call my Godmother at least once a day when I’m out of town.” He looked up at them with a most stoic look on his face. “She’s an older woman with a bad hip who lives alone with no children to check in on her so it is my responsibility to make sure she is well, no matter how much it irritates her.” He shrugged. “But like usual, you’re probably not going to believe a word I say so… keep on with your theories.” With that, he walked away towards the kitchen, probably to help bring in the snacks.

The trio turned to their brother again.

“He even calls his mother daily.” Benedict repeated. “The man is a saint brother. What could you possibly find wrong with him?”

The eldest sibling just leaned back into his chair as he pulled out his phone, making the other three roll their eyes in time for everyone else to come back with all the snacks.

As everyone got lost in the journey to find Atlantis, Benedict glanced over at his little sister to see her snuggle into her boyfriend as they shared a mixture of caramel corn and butter popcorn.

Anthony could say all he wanted.

This man was perfect for their sister.

Daphne never thought she would find someone who made her feel so loved. But every moment Simon got to remind her of how much he loved her, he took it.

Like when they prepared themselves for bed at the end of the very long game day. Daphne was just finishing brushing her hair as Simon came out of the bathroom after doing his evening routine when she asked “So was it as bad as you expected it to be?”

“No, much worse.” He jested as he looked through his phone for one last time that day. “It was quite fun actually. But I must say knocking that smirk off your brother’s face was the highlight of the day.” He added as he plugged in his phone and left it on top of the dresser.

“Of course it was.” Daphne snickered as she placed down her brush. She walked over to her side of the bed as she took off her silk robe, revealing a pink, satin nightie that barely covered her ass. This had been what she wore to bed before meeting Simon. She just liked to sleep sexy and Simon appreciated that very much when they started doing sleepovers. “You know, I never realized just how much you know about me.”

“Really?” He said as they took some of the throw pillows off the bed.

Daphne shrugged. “I just never felt like I was that interesting. I mean before you came into my life, men never gave me the time of day.” She said as she tucked herself in, picking at her nails as she did. “Hell, even my own family couldn’t be bothered to show up my performances.”

While her family loved her and she knew this, she had felt a bit hesitant to talk to them about her personal life anymore. She knew most of her siblings thought of her favorite things as quite old-fashioned and banal, they couldn’t help but groan every time she would try to bring them up. Especially when they were younger, they would do nothing but complain when their mother dragged them along to her piano competitions. They sat through them but she could always tell how bored they were so eventually she stopped asking them to come. She never even bothered inviting them to her concerts anymore for the few times she did, they came up with excuses to not go.

While her mother continued to be her number one supporter, her siblings were kind of distant from her day-to-day life. She still talked to all of them at least three times a week and they met up when they could, but she would often only ask about what was happening in their lives and never talk about hers. It was one of the main reasons that none of them knew about Simon at first. She just didn’t think they would care.

Daphne was brought out of her thoughts when Simon grabbed her hip and turned her to face him. “Well, I believe you are plenty interesting.”

“I am being serious.”

“As am I.” Daphne looked up from her hands and saw the sincerity in his eyes. “When I went on that blind date with you, I quickly realized I could spend hours listening to you talk about yourself. No one had ever intrigued as much as you had. And every moment since it has been a blessing to get to know your little quirks. Like that little smirk you get on your face when you know you’re right. Or the way your eyes sparkle when you are filled with joy. Even the way you bite your nails when you’re unsure of yourself.”

He grasped one of her hands lightly and pulled it from her mouth before kissing it, making her blush a bit. He chuckled. “You, my dear, are a diamond… and I am glad to call you mine.”

Daphne felt a bit of tears welling in her eyes. “I love you.”

“I love you.” He said placing a firm kiss on her lips before rolling them over slightly to turn off the lamp, plunging them into a soft darkness, lit only by the moonlight behind her lace curtains.

Daphne smiled into his kisses as she felt his hands remove her underwear before he slowly entered her. Their soft breaths mixed together as they went through the familiar slow dance. She cherished moments like this.

Where the rest of the world did not exist and he was all she needed to be happy.

Because that was slowly becoming more and more true with each passing day.

Chapter Text

Simon never liked waking up early but there were just some things that couldn’t be avoided when you have a company to run.

He had spent years getting up at whatever time he wanted during and after university. It had only been soon after he inherited the Hasting Conglomerate from his father that he really started to have a firm routine in his life. It was pragmatic and dull compared to his old lifestyle but it brightened up the moment Daphne came into his life.

Even now as he laid in her childhood room, with her cuddled into his side, he didn’t mind being up so early because she was next to him.

He had to leave though, so he leaned over to place a small kiss on her forehead then moved to leave their bed. But he felt something pull him back. He looked to see a very sleepy Daphne holding his arm.

He gave her a soft smile. “I have to go.”

She frowned. “No…” The pianist pulled him back and crawled on top of him to wrap herself around him. “Don’t go.” She held him tighter and he snickered as he wrapped his arms around her. “I don’t want you to go.”

He placed another kiss on top of her head. “I don’t want to go either but I have to work.”

He had a meeting in the city to check on proposals and inquiries for a very personal project and since he had been invited last minute to the retreat, there had been no time to reschedule it.

“No.” Daphne mumbled into his chest.

He chuckled, rubbing her back for a moment. “I’m sorry but I need money if I’m going to continue funding your shopping sprees.”

She finally looked up at him with a pout on her lips. “You act as if you don’t benefit from them.”

This was true. Daphne had her own savings to spend obviously but he let her use his card for her clothing runs as long as he got to be there when she tried stuff on.

Instant gratification he liked to call it.

“Oh, I am well aware of that but I have to meet with those leftover assholes from when my father ran the company and I can’t get afford to get any grief from them over being late.”

With a frown, she loosened her grip and she propped her chin upon his chest. “I understand.”

He placed a soft kiss on her lips. “I will be back by dinner.” He sighed.

“Hey,” He looked back at her. “You know you’re more than capable of running that company, right?” He shook his head but she grabbed his chin to make her look at him. “I’m serious. If you hadn’t swooped after that man’s death, Hastings would be in ruins. You saved them, not the other way around. Don’t let them forget that.”

The older man nodded. “I’ll do my best.”

She smiled. “That’s all I ask but maybe…” She placed a soft kiss on his chest. “I could help you…” A kiss on his neck. “Relax a bit before you go.” A brush against his lips.

Simon chuckled as he tightened his grip on her. “How could I say no to that?” He said before bringing his lips to hers.

One of the best parts of being with Daphne is that he didn’t have to give up the sexual side of his previous fuckboy nature. When he found out that she was a virgin, of course, he made sure to take things slowly before they actually did the deed. But once they finally did it, they had been going at it nonstop. It turned out to be the best thing because that time he took learning all of the things that gave her pleasure made their intimacy even better and it was one of his favorite things when she was just as satisfied as he was. Even now as he took her nightie off, he took his time placing slow kisses all over her chest and relishing in every moan she let out.

“Daphne can I use your, OH MY GOD!”

Simon immediately grabbed a small pillow to put over Daphne’s chest before turning to see Anthony standing there, looking part appalled and part peeved.

“Anthony! What the hell!” Daphne screamed at her brother, still straddling Simon’s lap. “Do you not remember the no barging into anyone’s room rule?”

“No one follows that rule. What the hell is going on?”

“Something that is absolutely none of your goddamn business so get out!”

“Not until…”


Finally, the older man stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him and leaving an awkward silence behind as Daphne moved off her boyfriend’s lap.

Simon coughed. “You know what maybe it’s a good thing that I will be out all day.”

“Yes probably…” Daphne said as she brought the blanket up to her chest to lie back down.

“Should I…”


“Yes.” He pressed another small kiss on her forehead. “I’ll see you later.”

He relished in the small smile she gave back as he went to the bathroom but quickly cursed Anthony Bridgerton’s name for ruining a perfectly good morning.

“What was all that screaming about?”


“It sure sounded like something… Oh my God, were you and Simon?…”

“Shut it Colin! It’s not funny!”

“You were right it’s hilarious… Hey! OW! Oomph… Since when do you fight so dirty?”

Simon never let anyone make him feel inferior. Never again.

After proving his worth to himself over the years, he would not let anybody make him feel like he wasn’t worthy of what he had or that he wasn’t capable enough to handle it.

So when his father’s former executive administrators tried to play dumb when they gave him a shit report for his new initiative, he was pissed.

“I don’t understand.” One of the old cronies stated with a dumb expression on his face.

“It’s quite simple.” Simon declared as he threw the worthless paper in the middle of the company conference table. “I caught these mistakes within five minutes of receiving this proposal, you think that potential clients won’t see the same. I’ve given you all five months to complete this draft and you give me this after what I’m guessing is a week’s worth of work.”

The man shrugged. “Well, we had other things…”

“This was supposed to be your top priority. The Parent Protection Fund needs more resources than those development contracts anyway.”

Simon had created the fund to finance employees who were first-time single parents or single parents who lost their significant other. The fund also looked into grants for research into childbirth procedures to help make sure that the mother and the child came out okay. He wanted to make sure that no other family would lose somebody like he lost his mother.

Another man coughed as he adjusted his glasses. “Well, when your father ran this company…”

“I am not my father!” Simon looked out at the old cronies with the arrogance that he had been so known for at university. Those debates trophies weren’t in his name for nothing. “We do not share the same priorities because his are the ones that started to kill our stock market value in the first place and if I hadn’t gotten our shareholders back, you would all be out of a job. Therefore when I assign a project to you to keep those resources, I expect it to be done. If not, I will expect your resignation on my desk promptly because I can think of dozens of employees downstairs that get their work done when asked.” He looked at them all one more time, taking pleasure in the various degrees of broken pride across their faces. He stood and gathered his belongings. “I expect a new proper draft of the proposal when I return next week.”

“That’s barely any time to correct this.”

“That’s more time than I should be giving you since you’ve had almost half a year to complete this. So if I have to take any of my personal time to manage your workload again, I assure you that your services will no longer be needed here.” He placed his laptop in his bag before looking at them all again. “Good day, gentlemen.”

With that, he walked out of the room. He dropped his bag off at his office before passing his assistant’s desk. “I’m stepping out for lunch, Jeffries.”

“Should I call to see if Gunther’s is available?”

Gunther’s was the main place he went when he had lunch with Daphne on his breaks, it didn’t feel right to go without her. “No, I’ll find something to bring back.”

“Yes sir.”

By the time that Simon got off the elevator and exited the building, he was more than ready to leave for the day. If he didn’t have a pile of memos to sign, he would be running back to Daphne to try and finish what they started this morning. For now, he would get his lunch and hurry to finish this work so he could relax a bit more.


Or not.

Simon turned to see his girlfriend’s oldest brother walking towards him. “You’ve got to be shitting me.” He mumbled under his breath. “What do you want Bridgerton?”

Anthony shrugged. “There are plenty of things, world peace, a decent case once and a while, a…”

Simon glared at him before interrupting. “I have just spent the last half hour listening to pompous old men give excuses for half-ass work, so I’m not in the mood for all the exposition. Just get to the point.”

“I don’t like you dating my sister.”

“What’s new?” Simon shrugged as he started to walk again, looking at his phone to see new food options nearby.

He could hear Anthony rushing to catch up with him. “I am being serious. I don’t know how you managed to worm your way into her life but I’m sure you could leave it just as easily because I don’t approve of this.”

Simon chuckled as he put away his phone. “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.” He turned back to face the other man. “Also, what is this, the 19th century? Your sister can date whoever she wants, she is a grown woman. She makes her own decisions. Decisions you or your other brothers should not believe involved in mind you.”

This just made the lawyer glare at him harder. “Listen I don’t know who you think you are but…”

Simon just about had enough of this. “I’ll stop you there because no, you don’t know who I am, but I’m letting you know right now that I don’t give a damn about what you think about me. Despite what you think, your sister is the most important person in my life and she is my top priority. I’m not going to hurt her because you have some petty university grudge that you can’t let go of.”


Simon didn’t let him continue. “I don’t need your permission to have sex with Daphne and I definitely need your permission to be in a relationship with her. I love her and I’m not going to let her go because you don’t like me. She is the woman I plan on marrying one day so I suggest you get used to seeing me around because I am not giving her up anytime soon. Now if you’ll excuse me.”

With that, Simon left him on the sidewalk to continue his lunch break because he just about had enough of arrogant assholes for the day.

Anthony was usually a very reasonable guy but something about Simon Basset got his blood boiling.

Well, not just something.

This arrogant son-of-a-bitch had his hands all over Anthony’s little sister and the lawyer could not stand it. Not after all he had seen of the other man’s behavior during university. But it wasn’t that easy to bring up when the other man seemed like a saint nowadays.

So when Anthony pulled into Aubrey Hall’s parking lot after his excursion to the city, he knew his siblings would have something to say.

He just didn’t know that half of them would be standing outside waiting for his return.

“Did you bring food?” Gregory asked as he got out of his car with Hyacinth bouncing on the balls of her feet behind him.

The older brother rolled his eyes. Since most of the food they had during this retreat was homemade sometimes the siblings wanted something that they didn’t have to make themselves so if someone stepped off the property, everyone expected them to bring food back with them. “No.”

The two youngest glared at him before turning back to the house. “Useless.” Hyacinth mumbled as they passed through the front door, leaving Benedict and Colin still out there with him.

“Where have you been anyway?” Colin asked.

“None of your concern.” Anthony scoffed as he locked up his car.

“Did you actually follow the bloke into town?” Benedict groaned and when Anthony didn’t answer, he gasped. “Oh my God, you did. This is ridiculous, there is nothing wrong with him.”

“You two barely know him.” Anthony retorted as he began to walk towards the house with the brothers following behind him.

“You don’t know him either.” Colin reminded the lawyer.

“I know him better than you think.” Anthony whipped around to face them. “Look, I will not stand here to be reprimanded by you.”

“Don’t worry. She’ll do that just fine.”

The eldest brother turned back around to see Daphne standing behind him, eyes filled with rage, arms crossed over her chest. The sight sent the other two brothers running back into the house.

Anthony gulped. “Daphne…”

“Stop talking.” She said in a low tone, making Anthony clamp his mouth shut. “I’ve just about had it with you. You are being completely irrational about my relationship with Simon. Something that is none of your business.”

“Whatever goes on in this family is my business.”

The younger sister scoffed. “Since when, we barely see you since you started working at the firm. Even at AD bar nights, you show up for a whiskey, look at your phone, and leave for a hookup.” When Anthony’s eyes widened at the statement, she just chuckled. “Seriously, did you think we didn’t know why you were leaving? I find it hilarious that you think that you are the only person in this family who should be having sex.”

Anthony rolled his eyes. “Please, Ben and Colin can do what they want but you should be more careful.”

She raised a brow. “Because I’m a woman? Do you think because I am a woman that I’m incapable of making my own choices?”

“Well since you chose Basset, I’m definitely questioning your choices.”


“Because he’s a fuckboy.” The lawyer insisted.

“No, you’re a fuckboy. He had his moments in university I know but he’s changed. He doesn’t need to find hookups like you because he is welcome in my bed every night.”

Anthony grimaced as he remembered what he walked into that morning. “I didn’t need to know that.”

“Oh grow up! I can talk about sex as much as I like.” She said in that stupid defiant tone she had since childhood. “God knows you’ve had enough to last a lifetime I’m just getting my fill. Hell, if want to tell Simon to fuck my brains out, I will.”

Anthony gagged. “Really didn’t need to know that!”

Daphne shrugged. “Probably, but all you need to know about my relationship is that…”

“Don’t you think that your relationship is moving too fast?” The brother interrupted.


“I mean, he’s your first boyfriend after all.”

Daphne let out a scoff. “And who’s fault is that?” When the brother averted his gaze, she stepped right back in his line of view. “Anthony, it does matter if Simon is my first, second, or hell even my twentieth relationship, that does not give you the right to tell me who I should be with. And no, I don’t mind how fast how our relationship is moving. I don’t want to be a, a slow burn. I want it fast-paced and full of passion like it has been because he makes me happy!” She said stamping her foot on the ground, making Anthony look at the tears that were welling in her eyes. “He makes me happier than I’ve been in a long time. He supports me, he takes care of me and he loves me.”

She frustratedly wiped the tears out of her eyes before continuing. “And that is all you should concern yourself with. So if I ever hear of you harassing him again, I will have no problem cutting you out of my life because he’s going to be in it whether you like it or not.”

With that, she turned back to march into the house, leaving Anthony with some serious things to consider.

Simon never thought he would be part of a real family. He presumed he was destined to be alone like he had throughout his early childhood but the Bridgertons had proved him wrong throughout this entire retreat. He had been invited into the family with no complaints even though none of them knew about him beforehand and he could not be more grateful.

So when Simon finally pulled back into Aubrey Hall, he was very happy to be greeted by Gregory and Hyacinth’s smiling faces.

“You got the stuff?” Gregory asked looking around the front area.

Simon rolled his eyes a bit before taking a white box of treats out of the back of his car. “Contraband Cupcakes for the group.”

Hyacinth smiled as she took it from him. “You are the best, Simon.”

Simon chuckled as he watched the young ones run back to the side door. But when he leaned down to grab his work bag, he looked back up to see Anthony was standing a few feet ahead of him again.

He groaned. “Seriously, do you have a life at all or are you determined to continually interrupt mine?”

Anthony said nothing while he shifted on his feet. “I just wanted to say…” The lawyer took a deep breath before continuing “I’m sorry… for all the grief I’ve been giving you.”

That had not been what Simon was expecting. “Okay… if you think that’s enough of an apology then…”

“I know it’s not. It’s just… I know you’re a good person nowadays but you have to give me some credence here.“ Anthony said taking a step forward, normally Simon would try to cut him off but he let the other man continue. “The last time I saw you, you were the biggest fuckboy on campus sleeping with every girl you got your hands on, not caring about them whatsoever. You even had bets on how many you could bed in a night and kept a hit list from what I remember.” Simon felt himself frown in shame as Anthony continued. “So I can’t help but be wary when you show up out of nowhere attached to my little sister of all people. I have a right to be concerned about if she’s just going to end up as another notch on your bedpost.”

Simon hated to admit it but… those were valid points.

It was all true. When he got his first taste of true freedom at university with no overbearing godmother or petulant father in his way, he rode that high hard. He drunk himself stupid, fucked who he wanted, and screwed the consequences.

Simon wasn’t proud of those days.

Because he had been a fuckboy and the worst kind of one at that because he truly had not given a crap about anybody but himself during that time.

Until he got a wake-up call when one of his hookups called to say she was pregnant.

He was shaken up by the fact that there would be someone in this world that relied on him and if he just dumped a child off with the mother, he would have been no better than his own father.

Luckily for him, it turned out that the girl had faked the pregnancy to trap him into marriage and get a crack at his money but his Godmother could sniff out fakes from a mile away. She cleaned up the situation with no problem but she made it very clear that this was a one-time thing and that if he found himself in a situation like that again he was on his own because she raised him better than that. Simon knew that and from that point on, he tried to be better.

He got his act together real quick. He deleted all his social media and hook-up apps, put himself back in therapy after stopping it during secondary school, and even got rid of his home bar.

He had to be better because next time, there could be a child and he would not let it grow up without a father.

He told Daphne all of this during one of the serious talks they had about children. He didn’t want to be a deadbeat dad but he wasn’t ready for a child just yet when he met her. He still had a long way to go in bettering himself and Daphne understood that because she felt similarly about herself.

Eight months later and he felt like he was truly starting to become the best version of himself…but overall, Anthony had a very good reason for not trusting him at first.

Simon nodded as he looked away from the other man. “I can respect that.”

Anthony took another step forward. “I understand that you may have changed since then but my family comes before everything else. I might have a hard time showing it but I won’t let anyone hurt them, not after all we went through after our father passed and especially Daphne after all she has done for us.” That made Simon look back up. “Whether she’ll admit it or not, she is an integral part of keeping our family sane. When our father died, she was the one who helped our mother out the most, with the little ones and the house and the scheduling, she took on so much responsibility, more than any eleven-year-old should have to.”

Simon nodded. He knew Daphne was a force of nature and even if she didn’t want to admit it, she was a rock for so many people. Anthony continued. “She does so much for other people that sometimes she forgets about herself so when she started getting interested in dating, my brothers and I couldn’t let just anybody have ever. We couldn’t let her be put in a relationship where she would just be some trophy wife or a personal assistant. She has her own dreams that she deserves to follow. Maybe we did come on too strong but she deserves only the best.”

Again Simon nodded because it was so true. Daphne loves so hard and she deserves the same amount in return even if she doesn’t believe it sometimes. Simon may not be the perfect man at times but he still tries to show Daphne how much he loves her, each and every day.

“I think that is something we can agree on.” Simon started as he took his own step forward. “Look neither of us are perfect but I think we can agree on the fact that we both love Daphne.” When Anthony nodded, he continued. “We may never be the best of friends but I need you to know that I would never hurt her, not intentionally. I meant what I said, I intend on marrying her one day and I would really like it if we could be at least friendly going forward, if not for our sake then for hers.”

Anthony nodded once more before pausing “Something I have to know though… Do you remember Siena Russo?”

“That arts major you used to hook up with?” Simon shrugged.

“It was more than hookups… or at least I thought it was. I got too involved with my feelings and the next thing I knew she was dumping me… for you.”


Anthony rubbed his hands over his face. “She wanted a wealthy guy to keep her company, I knew that. But when she broke up with me, she said you were giving her everything she needed to be comfortable and that I…”

Simon interrupted him as he took a step forward. “I never slept with her, much less spent money on her.”

The other man looked up at him. “You didn’t?”

“No. I never spent money on hookups, wasn’t worth it.”

“But I saw her hanging off you at that senior party.”

“Plenty of girls used to hang around me. Yes, I remember her being one of them but nothing ever came from it. Maybe I would have slept with her but honestly, I kept remembering how happy you two looked together and I didn’t want any part in that. I did some fucked up things in university but I never slept with someone else’s girl. I don’t do that shit.”


Simon sighed before taking one more step forward. “Now that we have that all cleared up… are we good?” He held out his hand.

Anthony looked at it for a moment before shaking it with his own. “We’re good.”

“Ahem.” Both men looked at the door to see Daphne standing there, glancing nervously between the two. “Are you two going to play nice now?”

Anthony reclaimed his hand before shrugging at the other man. “I suppose he’s not as bad as I thought he was.”

Simon smiled as Daphne skipped over to them because it looked like he actually meant it. “Good.” She said before hugging Anthony and hopping over to Simon. “Hopefully, you’ll be able to see why I love him soon enough.” She said looking up at her boyfriend with beaming eyes.

Simon smirked down at her before glancing at the other man. “Can I kiss my girlfriend without you getting mad now?”

Anthony rolled his eyes. “Whatever, go at it for all I care.” He said before walking to the front door.

Simon smiled as he tilted up Daphne’s chin and pressed a kiss against her lips, feeling down the back of her dress as he did, making Daphne moan.

“That is not what I meant!”

The couple chuckled as they broke apart before Daphne looked up at him again. “Seriously, are you two going to be okay? I don’t want to lose either of you.”

Simon wiped the single tear from her eye. “We’ll be alright love. I promise.”

Anthony was a good person overall and Simon couldn’t help but respect him for trying to protect his favorite person. Maybe one day, the two of them could truly be friends.

Daphne smiled. “Good, come on I saw those cupcakes and…”

“Actually,” He said, leaning back down to grab a small white box out of his car. “I brought this just for you.”

The younger woman grabbed it and opened it to reveal a beautiful white cupcake with a blue swirl of frosting and little pearls all over it. Daphne’s smile widened. “Thank you.”

Simon pressed a kiss on her forehead. “You know I will always think of you.”

And he knew that would be true for the rest of his life.

Chapter Text

Daphne liked to think that she didn’t care about what other people thought about her.

If only that were the truth.

It was much easier said than done when you were forced into the public sphere. The Bridgerton name had fame attached to it whether she liked it or not. Her father had been famous for the high-profile cases he won back in his days as a fledgling lawyer. When he married after years of bachelorhood, the wedding was big news in London High Society. Then when her parents had a litter of children, the public became fascinated with what the Bridgerton family did behind closed doors.

The media became obsessed with posting about them and whether the stories were true or did not matter to them. Rumors were spread about who they “really” were and there was very little the Bridgertons could do to combat it. When it got to a point where enough was enough, they took a stand as a family to refuse any interviews or public events they were not interested in. If you wanted to brush shoulders with a Bridgerton, you had to be in their inner circle, and frankly, if you weren’t family, they didn’t give a crap about what you said about them.

But still, there were a few people that Daphne would welcome an opinion from.

“What do you think of this one?” The pianist asked as she came out of the bathroom in a floral blue dress. It had a halter top and came to a little bit above her knees. It was simple in design but it framed her figure quite nicely.

She looked in the mirror to see Simon smiling behind her in his usual black suit while he adjusted his watch. “You look stunning, darling.”

Daphne rolled her eyes slightly. “You said that about the last dress.” She said while she fixing her hair. “And the one before that.”

Simon stood up to stand behind her. “That’s because you look amazing in everything you wear. But to tell you truth, I do prefer this one to the others.”


“Yes. You know I prefer you in shorter dresses.” He tapped her butt make her gasp a laugh. “Easier access for me.”

She shook her head. The amount of dinner parties he had snuck her out of just to have a quickie was too many to count. But the idea of being caught in something so scandalous never bothered her in the moment. “You’re insatiable.”

“Only for you.” He said tucking in the back tag of her dress. “So all in all who will be at this soiree?”

“As many trusted elites as we can fit on the side lawn. It is as much a business convention as it is a party.” She said as she sat on the bed to put on her white strappy heels. “We have the Eldesons from Edinburgh. The Trents from the Thames. The Wilsons from Wales.”

“Very organized I see.”

Daphne scoffed. “We also have some local people, like the Featheringtons who live a way down the road, Eloise is best friends with the youngest daughter. And unfortunately many, many cousins.”

“Is the rest of the family as extensive as yours?”

“To a degree. There is a lot of them but none of my parents’ siblings had eight children. It has been a minute since I’ve seen them. Some of them are very nice but others are the devil’s spawn. There is one cousin in particular that I would love to miss.”

“Well, hopefully, you can introduce me to the nice half. Are you going to tell them about your upcoming performance?”

“No.” Daphne said as she stood.

“Why not?”

“It wouldn’t interest them.” She said as she put on a spritz of perfume on her wrists, but when she rubbed them together she noticed Simon frowning behind her. “What?”

“Don’t you think that you should tell someone about the Proms, I mean…”

Daphne groaned. “Can we just forget the damn performance? No one cares about it so can we just move on from it?”

The air was tense for a moment before Simon shrugged and turned away. “Okay, Daphne.”

Daphne turned around. “Are you mad?”

“What would make you think that?” He asked as he tried adjusting his tie.

“You called me Daphne.” She said as she walked over to straighten it for him.

“So…” He shrugged. “That’s your name.”

“You never call me Daphne though.”

He always called her sweet things, “my love” “dear” “darling” or “my angel”. The only time she heard only her first name was when they were in a fight.

“It’s nothing.” He said brushing away her hands.

“It is to you.”

He sighed. “I just don’t understand why you can’t let people know that you’re doing this amazing thing. Are you excited to perform?”

“Of course, I am. It’s going to change my career.”

“Then why aren’t you telling people about it?”

“You don’t understand.”

“You’re right I don’t.” He said taking a step back. “You have this amazing and loving family who supports you in everything you do. Sure they may be annoying at times but they care about you. I would have given anything to have had a family like yours growing up, to have people that loved me from the start. Maybe they won’t be over the moon about the news but they would still be happy for you.”

All he said had barely sunk in before he continued. “I wish you didn’t feel like you had to hide your happiness from them.”

With that, her boyfriend walked out of the room, leaving Daphne quite conflicted because while most other people’s opinions did not matter to her, Simon’s did.

“Children, our guests will be arriving soon. Anthony, please straighten up your posture.”

“Mother, I’ve just remembered that I have a meeting with Professor Hardy about his real estate settlement.”

“Well, it is a good thing I invited the Professor to our party then, isn’t it?”


“Nice try. I am always one step ahead of you, my dear.”

Daphne liked to think that she knew how to play the part of the perfect socialite.

She knew how to talk to everyone, how to make them feel welcome, and how to be the perfect hostess. She had learned much of it from her mother but she really did try to make sure everyone was having a good time. Even if she wasn’t.

As she wandered through the garden party, she looked out for a glimpse of Simon but she couldn’t find him. Like any other couple, they did have their arguments but they’ve had worse ones than this. Especially early on in their relationship when they still had separate apartments, they were both still so new to relationships that spending nights alone was not uncommon for them. They needed the space to figure out how to properly communicate and compromise. Overall, they had improved immensely but there were still times like this where things were not so perfect.

Still, she was not going to end the day without sorting this out with him. But in the meantime, she decided to mingle a bit with her siblings. They all had a penchant to hunker down together to get through these events, especially when some of them were not so keen to be there.

Daphne came to stand by Anthony as Professor Hardy walked away from him, a look of boredom hidden under his pleasant face mask.

“Mama ruined your escape plan, I see.” She giggled as she swirled the glass of lemonade in her hand.

“Sadly,” The older man pouted. “How does she do that?”

“Women’s intuition.” Daphne smirked as she took a sip, making him groaned. She chuckled. “Anthony, it’s not that hard to figure out. Escaping family functions is a habit of yours. Everyone knows that.”


“Everyone.” She nodded. “We expect nothing less from you at this point. If we didn’t have our summer and Christmas traditions, not to mention A-D bar nights, we would never see you. You are buried in your work and nothing else. You know there is nothing wrong with having a life outside of work.”

“I’m aware of that. It’s just…” He shifted on his feet. “University seemed to suck the zest for a social life out of me.”

“Because of the partying… or Siena?”

“How did you…” He sucked his teeth. “Does that man tell you everything?”

“Pretty much. He’s very honest about things with me.” After one of their worst fights that was completely based on a misunderstanding, she and Simon had made a policy to be honest with each other, no matter how much it hurt. “You shouldn’t let Siena ruin romance for you… You deserve love, Anthony. We all love you despite your chauvinistic ways.” The statement made her older brother roll his eyes but she continued. “I’m sure one day you’ll find an amazing person who will tolerate your ego and match your hard-headedness word for word and still love you somewhat.”

“Such nice a sentiment.” He said in a gruff tone before letting out a small grin. “Thank you, sissy.” He glanced across the party and his face grew a bit pale. “Mom is giving us the look to mingle.”

After glancing at the pointed look on their mother’s face, Daphne quickly separated from her brother but she didn’t get far before she was called over by one of her other siblings.

“Daphne!” Eloise cackled as she waved her over. “You missed it. Miss Danbury, just made Benedict look a fool in front of Henry Granville.”

Daphne scoffed a laugh at the thought of her brother being made a fool in front of one of his art influences, in the sense that looking at Granville’s art told him what not to do. “He is rarely photographed.” Benedict argued. “How was I supposed to know that was him?”

“You weren’t, that’s what makes it fun.” Miss Danbury smirked, making Eloise laugh more.

“Hello Agatha.” Daphne said before giving the woman a hug.

“Hello, my dear. Don’t you look lovely this afternoon?”

“Thank you.”

“Now I’ve already spoken to him but tell me the truth, how has Simon been throughout this past week? My boy is not known for being social, you know.”

Daphne knew that very well. “He’s been a complete gentleman. I think he’s charmed the family thoroughly. He’s even spent time with them without me forcing him to go do so.”

“I’m impressed.”

“So was I.”

“Now I hear there are some congratulations in order for you.”

Daphne’s smile dropped a bit before Benedict asked “About what?”

“Oh no, it’s not a big deal.” Daphne chuckled.

“I beg to differ.” Agatha countered. “It is not every day, Charlotte Queensly personally invites an artist to play at the Proms.”

“Charlotte Queensly?” Eloise repeated.

“Yes, your sister has been hand-picked to play her original piece at this year’s Proms, a big honor indeed. Of course, I expect front row seats to the performance.”

Daphne nodded slightly before replying “I will do my best.”

“Good. Have you seen your mother? I’ve been meaning to ask her something.”

“She should be by the refreshment table.”

After the older woman bid them farewell, Daphne tried to walk away but Benedict quickly got in her way.

“Hold it.” He said. “You’ve been asked to play at the Proms?”

“Yes, so?”

“So, that is one of the most exclusive events of the season. Most of my clients have been whining about getting tickets for weeks. Why didn’t you tell us?”

Daphne shrugged. “I only found out about it last week. It’s not a big deal.”

“Miss Danbury seems to think otherwise. It sounds like a big to-do.” Eloise countered. “Isn’t that something that your prep school friends would rave about?”

“I don’t have any prep school friends to rave to.”

“What, of course, you do.”

“Not when all they cared about was finding their way into our brothers’ beds?”


“My sentiments exactly. The fact is that I honestly only have two friends outside the family and… besides Simon and Mama, I’ve never had anyone interested in coming to my performances.”

“That can’t be true…”

“Yes, it is. It’s not the most exciting thing to most people, you two should know that best.”

“What do you mean?”

Daphne scoffed as she put down her now empty flute on an empty tray. “When’s the last time any of you came to a concert of mine? Or even asked about them?” She asked grabbing a glass of whiskey in her hand before facing the two again. “Never. You all never ask about them or about my career. Every time I bring it up, you all tune me out and change the subject. So I didn’t tell you because I doubted that any of you would have cared.”

“Do you honestly think so little of us?” Benedict asked.

“After you, all constantly make half-assed excuses to avoid doing anything I like to do, yes I do.” Daphne was about to walk away before Francesca came running up to them.

“Problem! Big Problem!”

“What’s wrong?”

“Taffeta’s here.”

That made all the siblings’ eyes widened. Taffeta was just about the worst cousin of them all. She was as snobby, bratty, and mean as they came.

“Oh God no. “ Eloise cried. “Disperse, she can’t catch all of us.”

The siblings immediately broke up and wove through the crowd but sadly for Daphne ended up almost bumping into their catty cousin.

“Daffy!” The woman said with a saccharine smile on her face.

“Hello Taffeta!.” Daphne grimaced.

“How are you?” Taffeta gushed in a honeyed tone as she pecked two air kisses on her cousin’s cheeks.

Daphne gave her a small smile. “Well, I’m…”

“Oh, this is my friend Cressida.” The brunette said as she gestured toward a blonde woman would also seemed to be around their age.

Daphne held in a sigh. “Nice to meet you.”

“Yes, it is,” Cressida smirked.

“So Daffy, how is everything?” Taffeta asked. Daphne opened her mouth only to be interrupted again. “I’ve been starting a small empire of social media. I recently reached 100k on Instagram.”

“Congratulations.” Daphne nodded.

“A mere following compared to my 200K, but still reputable.” Cressida chuckled as she took a sip of her drink.

Taffeta rolled her eyes before turning back to her cousin. “Anyway, any men in your life nowadays or are you still stuck with the scraps?”

Daphne gave her a sickly sweet smile before speaking “As a matter of fact, there is a man in my life.”

The brunette raised a brow. “Really? What man have you managed to finally convince to date you?”

By all luck, Simon was finally in sight again for Daphne to point him out. “Him.”

Both women’s jaws dropped at the sight of the businessman sitting at one of the unoccupied tables to check his phone. Daphne smirked as Taffeta gave out a pitiful laugh. “Oh sweetie, he is way out of your league. That won’t last.”

“He says differently.”

Daphne did not bother waiting for a reply as she walked over to her boyfriend who didn’t acknowledge her before she was standing in front of him.

“Hi.” She said shyly.


She held out the glass in her hand. “I brought you a peace offering.”

“Whiskey?” He asked as he took it from her.

“Of course.”

He glanced over to where she came from. “Who were those girls you were talking to?”

Daphne sighed as pushed some hair out of her face. “My cousin Taffeta and her friend Cressida.”

“Let me guess, the Devil’s spawn?”

“Unfortunately.” She nodded.

“Thank you for the drink, love.” He said a smile on her face.

A start. She went to sit next to him but he pulled her onto his lap and pressed a quick kiss on her lips.

Daphne chuckled and out of the corner of her eye, she saw Taffeta stomp away. “So your Godmother let Benedict and Eloise in on the news.”

Simon bit his lip. “She tends to do such things. How was that?”

“They had questions of course but they were honestly just surprised I didn’t scream it at the top of my lungs.”

“Because it’s so exciting for you.” He said as he pulled her closer to him.

“But not for them.” She sighed as she pulled her dress down a bit. “They always found it boring, even when we got older. Everyone else had interesting stories to tell about their careers and what were mine… Sitting at an instrument for hours on end. I just thought I was boring.”

Simon only let her sit in her pity for a moment before he grabbed her hand, making her look up at him. “Daphne, you are far from boring.” He said pushing some hair behind her ear. “I have never seen someone work so hard to make something look so effortless. I am constantly surprised at how you can make any sour puss giddy in a manner of seconds. And how you just manage to find wonder in the little things in life. You are positively radiant, my dear. It’s one of the reasons I love you.”

Daphne smiled as she leaned her head on his shoulder. “I love you too.”

Simon placed a kiss on her forehead and for a second everything was right again.

Then the rain came pouring down.

The whole party gasped as they all scrambled inside to save their high-class fashions and perfect hair from the rain.

Daphne stood up from Simon’s lap and let him drag her to the house for a moment before pulled her hand back.

“Daphne come on.” He tried again but she slipped away from him and turned her head to the sky, letting the rain pelt against her face. It reminded her of the days when she would go out with her father and play in puddles. Those were some of the happiest memories with her father but they had turned solemn since he passed. But she knew that her father would want her to make new memories to bring joy to these moments again.

She turned back to Simon and held out her hand. “Dance with me.”

He scoffed a laugh. “It’s raining.”


Simon shook his head despite the smile on his face before grabbing her hand and twirling her around in the rain.

Daphne knew that she had to act perfect a lot but she loved that Simon just let her be herself.

Violet Bridgerton had just been arranging for some towels for their guests when she heard Anthony ask “What are they doing?”

She looked out the window to see Daphne and Simon dancing in the rain. “They are adorable.” Violet cooed, putting a hand to her heart, as the scene reminded her of when she used to do the same with Edmund.

Her two youngest looked out the window before glancing at each other and running out into the rain before Violet could stop them.

“Gregory! Hyacinth!” Anthony called as he walked out onto the porch.

“Chi…” Violet started only to behold the sight of the young ones joining the couple in dance. Simon twirled Hyacinth around and Gregory tried to lead Daphne in a waltz.

The other siblings came out to witness the sight with their own eyes and most of them chuckled.

Colin smiled however as he held his hand out to Fran. “May I have this dance, Miss Bridgerton?”

“Of course, Mister Bridgerton.” Fran curtsied before grabbing his hand and running out into the rain as well.

“You know what fuck it. Come on Pen.” Eloise said before dragging her best friend out to the yard as well with Benedict running behind them.

“They are so childish.” Anthony scoffed as he paced a bit. “I mean, they are all going to get sick and…”

“Anthony,” The Bridgerton matriarch chided as she grabbed his arm. “You sound like an old crone. Let them be young. Youth goes away fast, you should know that.” She nodded at the rest of her brood. “You should join them.”

“What, but…”

“Just take this time to go have fun with your siblings. Be their brother for a change.”

Just then, Fran and Hyacinth came running along to grab the lawyer by both arms. “Come on.” They squealed, eventually cajoling him to join the fun.

Violet smiled as she watched her children dance and play in the rain. This is what she always wanted out of their family retreat, these beautiful memories of her family being together. She just hoped that Edmund was smiling down at this moment as well.

“A wonderful sight, is it not?” Agatha Danbury asked as she came to stand beside the mother on the porch.


“So, did he ask you?”

Violet smiled as she looked over at the other woman. “Yes, he did.”

“Wonderful, it seems all we have to do now is wait now.”

Violet looked out at the field for a moment in time to see Daphne pull Simon down for a kiss which he quickly returned. “I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long.”

The older women chuckled before linking arms and walking back into the house to leave their children to their fun.

Daphne liked to think that she had found her forever person in Simon.

Less than a year ago, she had been so unlucky in love but now she knew it was just so she could have space for him in her life. This man, who was so caring and loving, was everything she ever wanted in a partner. He knew so much of her and the best part of him is that he made her feel loved even when she didn’t love herself.

On days when she didn’t feel confident, he boosted her ego with little competitions he knew she would win. On days when she felt sad, he would just hold her and whisper sweet nothings in her ear as she cried. On days when she didn’t feel beautiful, he would make love to her and caress every part of her body to show her how attractive he found her.

But he didn’t need a special day to do that. He even now as they sat in the clawfoot tub in her bathroom that night to warm themselves up after the rainy afternoon, Simon took his time rubbing the soap all over her body. He kissed her neck as he caressed her shoulder and played with fingers under the sudsy water. Even in the candlelight atmosphere she had set up that late evening, Daphne could see the gentle look in his eyes as she leaned back into his naked body.

She closed her eyes to savor this moment as she never wanted this to end.

“What are you thinking about, my love?”

Daphne looked up at him for a second before reaching over to grab her drink. “Nothing.”

“Liar.” He said that raspy tone of his before taking an offered sip of the drink.

Daphne smiled up at him after putting the drink down, turning slightly to look at him more. “I’m just thinking about a Forever… With You.”

“Really?” He said as he gathered her hair in a nearby scrunchie. “What would that entail?”

“Well, breakfasts in bed on Saturdays would definitely continue.”

“Of course.”

“Trips to Clyvedon where it would be just the two of us living in that giant castle.”

“I’m sure that staff wouldn’t mind finding something else to do while I romance you in the gardens.”

Daphne giggled as she rested her head on his shoulder. “Waking up every morning in your arms. Walks in the park. Trying every ice cream flavor in the city.” She wrinkled her fingers tighter before continuing “And maybe one day, you reading our children to sleep in that wonderful voice of yours.”

Daphne held her breath for a moment. She knew Simon had reservations about having children any time soon but she wanted a family with him. Even if that day didn’t come soon, she wanted it in the future.

To her relief, Simon gave her a soft smile in return. “That all sounds wonderful.”

She sighed a bit as she rubbed her hand down his chest. “I just wish we could be forever already.”

He paused before placing a kiss on her forehead. “You and me both.”

As they relaxed in the bath for a few more minutes, Daphne could help but count the minutes until their forever could begin.

Chapter Text

Simon barely knew what it meant to be part of a big family.

His weeks with the Bridgertons had taught him a lot but he still had a lot to learn when it came to siblings. He hoped that soon the Bridgerton siblings would be his as well. But there was one important thing keeping that from happening. But until he could get that done, he busied himself with work.

He took to the house library early in the morning to work on some spreadsheets when he got his first real taste of solving a sibling issue. He was deep into his work when Anthony came into the room and he was taken aback at the sight of Simon.

“Oh,” Anthony said. “I didn’t know anyone else would be in here at this hour.”

“Well, I had some work to finish up and I didn’t want to bother Daphne with the light.” Today was one of the rare days when he could leave the bed without waking her up. When Anthony turned to leave the room he said, “You can stay.” Anthony turned back. “This is your house, I’m only a guest.”

“Right.” The eldest Bridgerton sibling grimaced before plopping down in a nearby armchair. He sat there for quite a while as the businessman worked before he finally said “Simon?”

“Hmmm…” The guest questioned, not looking away from his laptop.

“Can I ask you something?”

“You just did.”

“You know what I meant.”

Simon chuckled. “Go ahead.”

“Why hasn’t Daphne been talking to us about stuff lately?”

That made Simon finally look away from his screen. “What do you mean?”

“It’s just…” The lawyer shifted in his seat. “She’s been so… distant from us lately. She used to talk to us about everything and now she doesn’t talk to us about anything. It’s like she doesn’t trust us anymore.”

Simon shook his head. “She trusts you all implicitly. I know I’ve learned more about her in these two weeks from you than I thought I knew before.”

Anthony waved the idea away. “But that’s all old stuff, all these new things that have been happening though… we didn’t know any of it before she came. Why is that?”

He shrugged. “I think she just doesn’t believe you all would care about it.”

That made the brother turn to him sharply. “Of course we care. That’s the one thing we all swore on when Father passed. She made sure of that.” Simon put down his laptop on a nearby table and turned toward the other man as he continued. “There was one night when all of us were awake one evening after he passed. Hyacinth had been born a few weeks prior and our mother had been exhausted from her grieving and caring for Hyacinth and Gregory. I came over one night to stay and I heard our little sister crying in her crib. I tried to go check on her before Mother woke up and there I found the rest of my siblings, even Gregory, doing the same. We all ended up sitting in her nursery, telling Hyacinth stories about our father to lull her back to sleep. We laughed, we cried but we never felt more connected to each other than in that moment. Daphne was the one to say what we were all thinking. We couldn’t lose this. We couldn’t let our family come apart in the grief of it all. So we made a pact to be there for each other… no matter what.”

That all sounded very nice to Simon. Having people that you could rely on and that would be there for you no matter what. But looking at the big milestones he shared with Daphne over their relationship, there was very little time that he saw her siblings there for them. Her birthday consisted of a small gathering with himself, Alice, and Will and no mention of doing anything with her siblings. All of her piano performances were attended by him and Violet but no siblings were ever in sight. Even weekends were mostly spent with him at his place when she could’ve used that for her siblings and he knew that she wanted to from the calls and text messages she always did on Saturday mornings, but few plans ever came from them.

Simon let out a deep sigh as he shifted in his own chair. “I hate to say it but… I don’t know if that pact has stayed intact where you all are concerned.” He said picking up his laptop once more.

Anthony stayed silent for a minute as the businessman began to type again before eventually saying “You might be right.”

With that, Anthony left the library as quickly as he entered, leaving Simon to his work and his own thoughts about the situation.

“I guess you are all wondering why I gathered you here today.”

“We were already in here.”

“Regardless, we have something very important to discuss.”

“Your lack of an intimate relationship?”

“Shut it. I’m serious… I think we all messed up.”

Simon knew that dating an artist was not easy.

They were passionate people in more ways than one.

For Daphne, he could clearly see this in the way she talked about her favorite things, the work she put into her craft, the way she was during their intimate times. But he saw this most when it came to getting things wrong.

In one of their final days at Aubrey Hall, Simon sat in the lounger next to the piano as Daphne practiced her original piece again. Simon has heard this particular piece almost a hundred times so he could tell that she was making mistakes more than usual and he could tell that it was frustrating the crap out of her before Daphne banged on the keys. The cacophony of notes pulled Simon out of his current read and made him look at the pained look on his girlfriend’s face.

“This is hopeless.” She cried as she buried her face in her hands.

“What is?”

“This song. It sounds all wrong. The tempo is off, I’m in the wrong key and it sounds like a drunk cat wrote it.”

Simon bit his lip as he put his book to the side and got out of his seat to stand behind Daphne, who was very much on the verge of crying. “Hey come here.”

Daphne tried to wave him off. “No, I need to practice.”

“No, come here.” He said as he grabbed her hand and pulled her off the piano bench. She reluctantly let him drag her over to his lounger and he sat in the chair before pulling her down and having her sit on his lip. She buried her face in his neck while he caressed her hair.

“I’m sorry.” She sighed as she cuddled closer to him.

“It’s alright. You’ve been practicing since noon, it’s okay to be frustrated by now.”

“What time is it now?”


“You’re joking.” She looked up at the grandfather clock in the room. The pianist groaned. “God. Sorry I’ve kept you here so long.”

“I don’t mind.” Simon said as he placed a kiss on her forehead.


The couple looked to the entry of the music room to see Anthony, Benedict, Colin, and Eloise standing in the doorway.

“Did you all want something?” Daphne asked as she lied her head down on Simon’s shoulder.

The four looked at each other before Benedict spoke “We need to talk to you.”

The elder sister chuckled. “Is this some sort of intervention?” But the rest of the Bridgertons as they stepped closer and took seats and spots around the lounger. Daphne frowned a bit. “I was joking.”

“Why did you feel the need to hide stuff from us?” Colin asked seriously.

Daphne’s frown deepened as she sat up in the chair. “What are you talking about?”

“This big performance?” Benedict stated.

“What Berbrooke attempted?” Eloise added.

“That bloke?” Anthony groaned as he pointed to his former rival.

Simon mock glared at him. “I have a name.”

“Regardless, you could’ve told us. About all of it.”

“I…” Daphne started but the rest of the words got caught in her mouth.

Simon knew that feeling all too well so he leaned forward in their seat before lightly grabbing her hand.

Daphne squeezed his hand before taking a deep breath and saying “I just thought you all wouldn’t care.”

“You’re our sister, of course we care.” Colin stated, a desperate plea in his voice.

“I… It’s hard to explain…”

Benedict placed a hand on her knee. “You don’t have to explain but you have to know that we are here for you.”

“We could… We would have helped you.” Anthony insisted. “We do want to be there for you like you’ve been there for us.”

“You all don’t sound like you want to most of the time. Most of the time you all complain when I try to bring up my personal life.”

Eloise winced. “I have to admit I’m the most guilty of that.”

Daphne narrowed her eyes at the little sister. “No shit.”

Eloise shrunk a little bit before saying anything in reply “I’m sorry that I’ve been a bitch about things.”

“Me too.” Benedict added. “Even though not as much as Eloise.”

Eloise eloquently push their brother off his chair before continuing “While I do think your interests are a bit... old-fashioned, I do admire the fact that you don’t them give them up for anyone, even us. Not to mention, you have been kicking ass at competitions and academics for years and now I learn you actually kick people’s asses in real life… you’re the coolest older sibling I have.”

“Hey!” The Bridgerton brothers whined.

“I’m sorry that we made you feel like you weren’t cool.”

"Or that you couldn't talk to us." Benedict added.

“Is there anything we could do to make it up to you?” Colin asked.

Daphne pondered the idea for a moment. Simon had to keep himself from chuckling as the other siblings’ sweated it out while she made her decision. “Well, since I’m in charge of the theme for this year’s family photoshoot, I want you all to let me choose your outfits and NOT complain about them.”

“Deal.” Anthony said for all of them.

“And I want more weekend time with you guys and maybe some family game nights or dinners or brunches. There’s no reason that we all shouldn’t get together more than once a month when we still live in the same city.”

“Agreed.” Benedict nodded as he sat back in his chair.

Daphne smiled. “I think that should be a sufficient start.”

“Excellent.” Anthony smiled.

A beat or two passed before Eloise asked. “By the way, what’s your theme for this year’s shoot?”

Daphne bounced in her seat. “Regency England.”

“Are you…” Benedict gave the younger sister a sharp nudge. “I mean, can’t wait.”

Daphne pretended not to notice as she continued to gush. “It’s going to be amazing, especially since Simon said we can use Clyvedon for a backdrop.”

Anthony looked at the chap. “You have?”

“Of course, I let her have whatever she wants.” He said pressing a kiss to his girlfriend’s cheek.

“Fine.” Colin groaned. “I just hope the picture will boost my Instagram.”

“Group Hug!” Daphne cheered as she tackled Eloise who immediately groaned at the human contact but the brothers quickly followed suit.

Simon was so smily at the scene in front of him that he nearly missed Anthony trying to catch his eye. Once he did look at him, Anthony mouthed “Thank you” to which Simon nodded.

He was happy to help, especially if it made Daphne happy.

Gregory was quite a curious and mischievous creature.

He always wants to know what was going on and he was willing to stick his nose into anyone’s business so when he came across Simon’s typing away on his laptop in the breakfast nook, Gregory couldn’t help but wonder what the older man was up to.

“What are you doing?” Gregory asked as he ran to sit in the spot next to the businessman.

Simon quickly turned his computer. “Working…”

Gregory looked over slightly at his screen and caught a glimpse of sand and waves. “Sure you were.” She chuckled.

“May I help you?”

“Tell me what you’re really doing.”

“Figuring out a business plan that incorporates our current resources at the coast but intrigues a new market of buyers while still holding to our core values.”

Gregory cringed. “That sounds hard.”

“It is, so if you don’t mind.”

“Fine, but can you tell me more about the secret passageways in Clyvedon later.”

“Sure.” Simon said as he looked back at his screen.

Gregory, satisfied with his shopping, ran off to find another family member to mess with.

Simon finally knew how he was going to propose to Daphne.

He had the ring. The speech. The location. Now he just needed a way to get her there and for that, he was going to need some help.

“So, what’s with the secretive meeting?” Colin asked as he and Fran made their way to the end of the hedge maze where Simon was waiting for them.

“I need your help with something. But it can’t go beyond this spot.”

Colin narrowed his eyes as he shifted on his feet. “Alright, I’m intrigued.”

Simon took a breath before letting it out “I am proposing to Daphne tomorrow.”

Fran let out the biggest Bridgerton smile he had ever seen. “Shut up!” She started jumping up and down and clapping her hands. “That’s so exciting. Congratulations!” She said before tackling him with a hug.

“Yes, thank you.” He chuckled when he finally let go. “But I need you two to help me get Daphne where I need her for the proposal.”

“Which is?”

“The Beach.” He smiled. From her wedding Pinterest board, Simon knew that a beach proposal was perfect for Daphne. She loved the waves and sunsets and coincided with their holiday fun, a beautiful place to ask the question. “I just need you guys to get her there.”

Colin raised a brow at the lack of detail. “That’s it? That doesn’t seem like much of a plan.”

Simon scoffed. “Oh, I am not telling you guys the entire plan.”

“Why not?”

Simon raised a brow at the question. “These two past weeks alone, I have learned about every hiding spot in this house and more about some of you than I needed to know. If I tell you guys the whole plan, it is almost guaranteed that the rest of your family would find out, they would give up all the details as soon as she walked through the door.”

Colin nodded. “You’re a smart man.”

“I know, But I have chosen a right hand for this plan.”

Colin took much pride in the statement. “Well, I am honored.”

Simon glared at him. “Not you… Fran.”

“Really?” The younger girl smiled.

“Yes, I need you to have Daphne photo-ready, something dressy casual but Colin I need you to take a picture of the moment.”


“Because Daphne will want a picture of the moment if she says yes.”

Fran scoffed. “If… our sister is completely enamored with you and now you have the rest of our family eating out of the palm of your hand. Believe me, if she doesn’t say yes, we will replace her for you.”

Simon shook his head at the thought. “No…”

“It’s true.” Colin added. “You’re a part of the Bridgerton family now, Basset. Daphne saying yes will only make it official.”

Simon smiled.

A family of his own.

Something he always wanted but never got from his own father and now here it was almost being handed to him. All he needed to do was ask one life-changing question to the most important person in his life.

Chapter Text

Daphne was clueless about what the day had in store for her.

When she woke up that morning, she felt bittersweet. It was the last full day of their family retreat and tomorrow they would be back in London living their separate lives once again. Hopefully, they all would be able to spend some more time together during the summer before their lives got too hectic during the rest of the year. Beyond that, she knew Simon wanted them to go on another holiday before the summer was over so she was excited about that.

But she was even more excited about the fact that now that her siblings knew about her relationship, they would be able to hang out with her at Simon’s penthouse and maybe go on outings with her and Simon as well. It was going to be a nice change of pace for her until she got caught up in rehearsals for the Proms.

But for now, she had to catch up with real life and that started with packing up her stuff to go back home.

“Seriously, how did you get all of this stuff in here in the first place?” Simon gruffed as he helped his girlfriend push down the top of her suitcase.

“I don’t know.” She groaned as she messed with the zipper. “Just hold it closed.”

It took two more minutes of struggling to finally close the case and they both slumped back on the bed once it was done.

“Next time we go on a trip, I am in charge of the suitcases. You pack way too much.” Simon huffed, laying back against the pillows.

Daphne giggled as she turned to him. “If you were in charge of my packing, I would have nothing in my bag but short skirts, lingerie, and skimpy little dresses.”

“Untrue.” He teased. “I would only do that if I took you to the private island.”

Daphne sat up and practically pounced on him. “You have a private island?” She squealed.

He chuckled. “Yes, and a ski resort and a home in Disney World.”

The pianist’s jaw dropped even more if that was possible. “How are you even real?”

He laughed as he pulled her across his body. “You tell me.” Simon smirked before placing a soft kiss on her lips.

Daphne giggled as she began to return it.

“Hel… O.”

Daphne groaned as she looked back to see Fran and Colin standing in the doorway to her room. “I swear I am getting three locks put on that door.” Daphne groaned as she sat up on the bed.

“Not allowed.” Colin smirked. “Remember the bear incident?”

“Ugh. How can I forget?” Daphne said as she rolled her eyes.

“Bear Incident?” Simon asked, with a chuckle in his voice.

“When we were little, the boys convinced Eloise that there was a bear in the woods that would come out at night to devour girls who didn’t respect their brothers. One night, after she tore them a new one, they dressed up like a bear with one of mom’s fur coats to scare the ever-loving life out of her.”

“She was terrified.” Fran scoffed as she plopped herself at the vanity stool. “So she ran and locked herself in the closet. But turns out that the closet didn’t have a good lock and the door got jammed. She was stuck in there for two hours before Papa had to basically tear it down with an ax.”

“Mother made us wish we were dead and locks were only allowed on exterior doors.” Colin added on. “It was only when Daphne became a “woman” that we were allowed to put locks on our doors for privacy.”

“I don’t appreciate those quotes I hear.” Daphne said as she glared at her favorite brother.

Colin shook his head. “Anyway, do you two fancy going to the beach with us? I’m trying to get some portrait shots for a campaign on my page.”

Daphne shrugged. “I guess, we have time don’t we?” She asked looking at her boyfriend.

“Sure.” Simon smiled.

“Great.” Colin said as he clapped his hand. “Just put something dressy on. These photos have to look great if I want to get paid.”

“Daff, can I borrow one of your dresses? Mine look too frumpy.” Fran asked.

“Of cour…” Daphne groaned as she planted her face in her sheets. “Simon, did we pack all my dresses in this suitcase?”

“Yes… yes, we did.” The older man said before hopping off the bed. “But I think you girls have this handled.”


“No, he’s right.” Colin chuckled. “Girl power!”

Daphne grunted before picking up one of her pillows and throwing it at the men. “Bastards.” She yelled but the two just leaped out of the way and ran into the hall, laughing annoyingly loud as they did so.

“Forget them.” Fran huffed as she messed with Daphne’s bag. “We don’t need them.”

“You got that right.” Daphne said, despite the goofy smile growing on her face.

But since Daphne was so focused on clothes she did not see Simon and Colin whispering conspiratorially in the hall.

“That was much easier than I expected.”


“Are you ready for this?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Just remember… she’ll say yes. I’m sure of it.”

Daphne was clueless about what was about to happen when they arrived at the beach near sunset. Colin’s little photoshoot was really the only thing on her mind.

“The lighting is perfect.” Colin boasted as he got out of his car.  Daphne and Fran got out of the backseat to see the sun starting to set on the beachfront.

“It’s very pretty.” Fran smiled she ran around the car to stand at the railing that separated the parking lot from the beach.

“What is this campaign for anyway?” Daphne asked as she waited for Simon to get out of the passenger seat.

Colin fiddled with his camera for a moment. “Uh… It’s a sort of summer forever thing. What says summer better than the beach?”

“Right.” Daphne nodded, choosing to ignore the nervous chuckle in his voice.

After Colin found the “right” lighting, he took group shots of them. Then a few of her and Fran together and some of her and Simon. As he scrolled through the shots, Daphne got excited for him to send them her way. Those would look great framed in the hall of the penthouse.

Colin and Fran walked off to take more pictures, giving her and Simon the chance to wander down closer to the water. The sun was closer to the horizon now, shining golden rays over the beach. Daphne took off her shoes and stood in the water, letting the ocean cool her down a bit as the breeze ran through her hair.

She did not notice the adoring lock on her boyfriend’s face or him fiddling with something in his jacket pocket. When she turned around to look at him, he stopped.

“Are you just going to stand there or are you going to come cool off?” She laughed.

“In a moment.” He said with a stiff look on his face.

That made her walk out of the water over to him with a quizzical look on her face. “You alright?”

Then he gave her a genuine smile, calming her at once. “More than alright.” He said while grabbing her hand. He caressed it for a moment before he spoke again. “You know it’s nine months to the day.”

She raised a brow at the sudden change in conversation. “To what day?”

“The day we met.”

She shook her head. “Simon, our blind date was…”

“Not our blind date, the coffee shop.”

Daphne scoffed a smile. “You remember the exact day?”

“Of course. I could never forget the day you stumbled into my life.” He said in a chuckle. “I get more grateful for that day with every passing minute I’m with you.” He squeezed her hand before pushing back a piece of hair back with his free one. “You know even without Will and Alice, I have no doubt that I would have found you again eventually. “

“Because we’re soulmates.” She said teasingly.

He shrugged. “Something like that. You know the other night when you wished we could be forever already?” She nodded. “Well…” Daphne’s eyes widened as he started to kneel down on the ground. “I don’t want to wait either.”


“I say we start our forever right now.” He said as he let go of her hand to dig in his pocket.

“Oh my God.” She cried as she covered her mouth in awe.

He pulled out a small, velvet powder blue box. “Because you are the most important person in my life and I can’t nor do I want to imagine it without you. So Daphne, my love…” He opened the box to reveal a ring with pearls and emeralds set on top and it was one of the most beautiful things she had ever seen. “Will you marry me?”

Her lip wobbled as she took in the sight of the love of her life… proposing to her. He was actually proposing. Not long ago, she had almost resided herself to believe that this would never happen to her. “Are you serious?” She asked in a shaky tone.

He nodded with a smile. “Yes.”

“100 percent?”


This was happening. It was really happening. Her forever was in front of her and she couldn’t be happier. “Yes.”

Simon’s smile got wider. “Yes?”

She nodded furiously. “Yes, 1000 percent yes.”

“You know 1000 percent isn’t a thing, percent means out of 100 so…”

She shoved out her hand. “Shut up and put the damn ring on my finger, you nerd.”

He chuckled as he put the ring on her finger before he stood up in time for her to tackle him in a hug. He took it in stride and swung her around in their joy.

Definitely not what she expected to happen today, but it was the best way they could have ended their vacation.

Benedict was not easily excitable but the news he got today had him almost giddy.

He looked at his phone in the midst of packing when he got a text from Fran in the family group text.



So this just happened


Brow raised, he opened the video attachment which made his jaw drop. “Holy shit!”

He immediately ran downstairs to the living room where the rest of the family was lounging around for a bit. “Did you all see this?” He said when he burst into the room.

“See what?” Eloise asked, not looking up from her book.

He looked around the room to see the questioning looks on everybody’s face. “You all need to look at your phones more often.” He said before walking over to turn on the TV before messing with his phone.

“Why do we…” Eloise shut up when she saw what was happening on the screen. “Oh my God!”

Everybody else looked up from their devices to see Simon kneeling in front of Daphne on the beach.

Anthony leaned forward in his seat. “Wait is he…”

“Eeeeee!” The squeal came through the screen after Daphne nodded her answer. The camera looked back at Fran as she jumped up and down, hanging on to Colin’s shoulder. The older man was still taking pictures of the couple but the smile on his face was very apparent.

The rest of the siblings smiled and applauded at the sight while their mother looked teary-eyed at the affair.

Benedict came over to sit on the arm of Anthony’s chair. “Looks like your rival is gonna be your brother-in-law.”

For a moment, the artist thought his brother would go ballistic but he just shrugged with a small smile on his face. “She could do worse.”

That was the highest praise Anthony could give another person so Benedict just patted his shoulder as he looked back at the screen, taking in the news.

Their baby sister was getting married to a man who clearly loved her.

Anthony was right, she could do much worse.

Daphne was clueless about how people would react to the news.

Their relationship, while strong, was still fairly new. While she didn’t mind the short time frame, she knew others would question how much they really knew each other after eight months. She was also very young, only 21, “why not wait” they could say. But she could care less about all that. She was going to marry Simon and she couldn’t be happier.

Which Alice could see when Daphne facetimed her on the ride home. “Hey, you two coming home tomor… Wait is that?”

Daphne had been holding up her head with her ring finger front and center in her hand. “What is what?” She smirked.

Alice made the phone shake in her glee. “AAAHHHH!” She screamed as she started dating in place, making Simon laugh from beside his fiancée. “SHUT UP! Will, look at this, I told you damn it, I told you.”

Will came into frame, shaking his head but a strong smile across his face regardless. “Yeah, yeah. You told me. Congrats you two!”

“Thank you.” Daphne said with a cheeky grin she just couldn’t contain.

Alice took the phone back. “We are celebrating as soon as you two get back in town.”

“Of course.”

After the couple said their goodbyes, Daphne tackled her fiancé in another hug, making him chuckle as they pulled into the driveway at Aubrey Hall.

Colin barely had a chance to turn off the car when the front door burst open and the family came running at them.

“Congratulations!” They all screamed as they surrounded Daphne and Simon in a massive group hug.

Daphne smiled and accepted the gesture but when they pulled back she couldn’t help but be confused at the welcome wagon. “How did they…” Simon shook his head when she looked at him.

Benedict nodded over the third Bridgerton sister. “Fran live-streamed it to us.”

Daphne gave her a mock glare. “Seriously?”

Fran couldn’t help the guilty smile that formed on her face. “I couldn’t help it!”

Daphne could say anything else, her siblings started to smother them with hugs again but this time Simon tried to fight his way through.

“Alright, alright, give me a second. I have to call Aunt Agatha before…”

“Too late. I’ve already been summoned.” In the chaos of it everything, all of them had been ignorant to another car pulling into the driveway. But now, Agatha Danbury was walking towards them with a big smile on her face.

“How did you…”

“Violet called me, we’ve been waiting for this longer than the rest of this lot.” She said as she gave her Godson a hug. Daphne came around the group just in time to hear the older lady say. “Congratulations, my boy.”

The shy smile Simon let out almost made Daphne laugh. “Thank you.”

Agatha then turned to the pianist. “And welcome to the family, officially, Daphne.” She said before hugging her.

“Thank you, Agatha.”

But before Daphne could even thank her for coming, Hyacinth burst in between them to look up at her. “Can I be the flower girl?”

The pianist rolled her eyes. “Of course.”

“Do I have to be a ring bearer?” Gregory added. “I’m way too old for that you know.”

“Don’t worry, I have godsons who will gladly take on that role.” Simon said he hugged his fiancée from behind. “You can be one of my groomsmen.”

Daphne loved how quickly the smile shot up her little brother’s face. “Seriously! Awesome!”

The group was finally starting to disperse a bit when Anthony came over with a small grin on his face. He held out his hand. “Welcome to the family Basset.”

Simon gave it a firm shake. “Thanks, Bridgerton.”

“Well, I believe this calls for a little celebration.” Colin announced. “Which is why I ordered Rino’s on the way back.”

Violet frowned at the thought. “Colin, I was going to…” She started but another car pulling into the driveway interrupted her.

“Oh, there it is now.”

“Hurry before he gets all the food.” Eloise called, making all of the siblings scurry off to follow him. The matriarchs just shook their heads before making their way into the house, leaving Simon and Daphne alone.

“Are you sure you’re ready to be a permanent part of this chaos?” Daphne asked as she turned to face her fiancé, still in his arms.

“If it means I get to have you, then I’m ready for anything.”

Daphne was sure of the same thing as long as she has him. She wrapped her arms around his neck. “I love you.”

“I love you.” And with that declaration, he leaned down to kiss her once more, which she returned with the same passion.

Daphne loved that she fell hard for this amazing man and she could not wait to see where else life would take them.

Chapter Text

Hey everyone!


It’s finally time for the Q/A that I’ve been talking about. If you missed the chance to submit a question this time around, don’t worry I’ll do it again next time I finish a story. So let’s get started.


So first, r1965 asked, “How do you get through writer’s block?”

For me, I have to go one word at a time… literally. My writing strategy that gets me through all my works in progress is adding one word at a time when I’m struggling. Like, I may not be able to finish off this entire chapter now, but I can add one word to make some progress. So my writing goal is one word a day and that one word can turn into a thousand once I get the ball rolling. So for my readers who want to start writing, just remember, “go one word at a time.”


anna_101 asked, “Where does your love of writing come from and when did you discover it?”

I just remember writing stories as a kid. I think the first story I wrote when I was 4 was a fanfiction for the Flintstones 😂. But I always enjoyed making up stories and keeping myself entertained with imaginary friends as any only child does because you have no one else to play with really. I do remember this fun story game me and a friend who used to live down the street from me used to play about sisters and it’s one of the things that started my love of familial relationships in stories. Just the idea of having that group of people who’s there for you, whether they’re related by blood or not, is something I’ve always found fun and I hope to add more of that to my stories in the future.


Reader2021 and anna_101 asked about my favorite authors and books.

I’m a fan of fantastical stories with whimsical elements and lovely romances. So my favorite authors right now have to be Erin Morgenstern, Alice Oseman, Alix E. Harrow, and Leigh Bardugo. All of them have just created amazing stories and worlds that I just love to get lost in.

With favorite books, my favorite romance of all time is Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, it’s a boy meets boy story that chronicles these two teens in England falling in love and it’s the sweetest thing I have ever read but beyond that, it touches on real issues like falling in love, family issues, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders in a way that makes you feel seen and it just so happens that a lot of the characters are queer so it also talks about that. While I’m not queer myself, I genuinely love the diversity of Oseman’s characters and how her books make me feel. I always read the books when I need a pick me up.

My favorite fantasies are “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, “The Once and Future Witches” by Alix E. Harrow, and the “Six of Crows” duology by Leigh Bardugo. Every one of these books has such an amazing story with strong and brilliant characters and worlds that you feel so intrigued by. “The Night Circus” in my opinion has the best atmosphere of anything I’ve ever read because the setting of the circus is everything, I find myself so sad that I can never go there in real life 😭. “The Once and Future Witches”  is a phenomenal powerhouse of a book that combines the suffragette movement with witches and fairytales and the sisters at the forefront of the story are so fierce and I love them all. And if you have ever been on Booktube or Bookstagram, you’ve probably heard about the Crows. These six characters have so much to them and their quirks and relationships make their books fantastic.

The two last books I’ll share with you all are “Eliza and Her Monsters” by Francesca Zappia and “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse” by Charles Mackesy. “Eliza and Her Monsters” is the book that got me back into reading after I stopped kind of after middle school because I read it at the perfect time. It’s about this girl who creates this webcomic that becomes a national phenomenon but she herself is a shy loner in real life. So she grapples with trying to make connections with others while dealing with this monster of a story that’s kind of taken on a life of its own. For a writer, this book made me feel seen helped me get back into writing. Then “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse” is just a book filled with all the little things that we need to hear more often to keep ourselves going and to know that we are loved. It is a book I will gift in the future to basically everyone.

Long answers to very short questions 😂, let’s move on.


Next, r1965 and Reader2021 asked about how I come up with my original story ideas, how do I plan it out and how do I come up with characters.

First, for me, ideas always come first. Like my brain will think up scenarios like “What would happen if Cinderella and Prince Charming grew up together, lost touch and reconnected years later at the ball” or “What if there was a world where soulmates existed along with humans, werewolves and vampires” or even just “Mermaids but make it steampunk”. That just gets me going then I make a Pinterest board and gather tons of inspiration before I try to come up with a concrete idea. Then I start planning everything out from the characters to the world to the plot. I try not to start writing until I have all of that together but if I have a few lines of dialogue or plot points that I want to happen, I’ll write them down on separate pages in Scrivener and that can give me the start to a transitioning page or a full-on chapter. So I find the spark, add some kindling and stoke the flames… I literally just came up with that and I love it 😍 😂


Next, anna_101 asked, “What’s your biggest dream?”

This is gonna sound really cliche and cheesy but here it is. One day I want to be a best selling author and have a large kooky mansion with tons of secret passages and hidden libraries but also have a nice cottage where I really live and then I want to host masquerade balls, magical summer camps for young learners, and fun sleepovers for adults at the mansion where people can rediscover the magic of pretend and learning and just having fun… Crazy but it could happen right? 😂


Reader2021 asked where I see myself in five years.

Hopefully living in my own home, making money from my writing or another self-employment situation, or being a video editor. Maybe in a relationship with a great guy, because I’ve never had a relationship, I do want one but I know I don’t need one. Also, just being a more well-rounded person. My word of the year for 2022 is “Evolve” so I want to improve myself in many ways. And I want to be fluent in ASL and French and maybe travel to Paris.


Both anna_101 and Reader2021 asked about my 2022 goals.

In 2022, I want to graduate with my second degree, be querying, and trying to get a literary agent so I can publish my manuscript once it’s done. I want to get my driver’s license, yes I’m 25 without my license but I hate driving with a passion and I’m also an anxious driver so I don’t want to put other people’s lives at risk if I’m not comfortable behind the wheel. So I’m working on being a good driver and practicing in my neighborhood where everyone parks on the street so you are basically driving down a one-lane road is great practice 😂. I want to establish a consistent passive income, live a healthier lifestyle (I’m addicted to sugar), and just be a good friend to the ones I’ve had for years. Overall, I think all these goals are achievable. Oh, and also I want a pen pal but I have no one how to get one.


Reader2021 asked “What got you into Bridgerton? Did you finally get to read the book?”

So my mom actually got me into Bridgerton😂. She’s one of those people who once she finds a new favorite show or movie, she’ll watch it again and again for two weeks straight. So she found the show and was in that mode, I had already seen the trailer so after seeing her watch the first ball scene for the millionth time I thought “why not” and then I loved it but we don’t watch it together because… no. I did finally get to read the books, I’m up to Eloise’s story book-wise. Overall, I think I prefer the show to the book. I do enjoy the books but I don’t I will read beyond the siblings’ romances into the other stories in the same universe.


Finally, Reader2021 asked, “Anything you would like to share with us readers about yourself?”

Honestly, I think I said enough above this but a couple of fun facts about me, I guess:

1. I’m a stationery lover, I love notebooks, pens, stickers, and washi tape.

2. My favorite drink is Bubble Tea, which I wish I was better at making at home and I love pasta, all kinds.

3. I’m usually exclusively dressed in black, white, gray, or navy blue. My wardrobe aesthetic is basically being a real life professor for a magical boarding school✨.

4. My favorite store is Barnes and Noble and the only reason I want to get my driver’s license is so I can drive to the one near me and sit there all day. If you have any book recommendations for my ever-growing to be read list, let me know.

5. Five is my favorite number.


I think that about covers it. Again, thank you all for your support for this story, I thought Q/A would be a great way to give back and I can’t wait to share more of what I write with you all. Also, if you have anything, you want to see in the sequel let me know 🥰

I’ll see you all next time I post.


Sending positive vibes your way,