What a fine day for a horse race.
Anthony thought as he looked out the window in his study. He checked his pocket watch and smiled.For the first time in weeks he was to spend some time alone with his dear Kate.
Ever since their return from the honeymoon the two of them was immersed in their respective duties barely finding time together.So when Anthony heard about the races he was more than excited to spend some time with her. Alone. During the day time that means.
Because that was becoming difficult in their household. Kate, whom he was now sure was a Bridgerton in disguise, charmed her way into every Bridgerton's heart, a thing she can do effortlessly Anthony knew by now.Not only that, to Anthony's annoyance every single one of them went after her like ducklings for one thing or the other, always asking for her opinion or her help or her simple presence.Infact he believes they prefer her over him now.
Hyacinth often seeked Kate's help for her French,or to braid her hair or read to her,or literally anything, she was practically her daughter now, Gregory had his latin and competed with Hyacinth for Kate's attention, Eloise always had some or the other new books or pamphlets she needed to discuss with Kate, he need to cut her allowance for books if she were to leave Kate alone he thought, Colin always pestered Kate to make him a new dish, Fran, even Fran, Anthony had thought she'll be the least demanding of Kate's time, called her to play duets or took her to the Modiste instead of mother. Benedict,well quite overwhelmed by Kate's approval of his artistic skills spend his time painting with her or taking suggestions from her.
Long story short every other Bridgerton except him spent a fair amount of time with his wife. Sometimes when he came for tea after parliament meetings he would find all of them in the parlour, Kate in the middle of the settee, Eloise reading leaning onto Kate's side,her head on Kate's shoulder,Hyacinth lying on the settee with her head on Kate's lap, When was the last time she put him in her lap? Anthony would scoff. He often wondered how she even managed her time, between her duties and this needy bunch.
Before marriage he surely wanted someone who loved and cared for his siblings just like he did, especially the younger ones, but now he thinks all of this was a mistake.
So he hadn't mentioned the race to anyone, except Kate which he did only two days prior. All his siblings were busy one way or other he had noticed in the morning.Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.
Anthony joined Kate in the drawing room, where she sat dressed in a teal gown looking as regal as ever. It was his favorite color on Kate close to purple. He beamed at her sight, like a kid who had his first sorbet, it's been almost 7 months since their wedding but he was just as excited every single time he saw her.
"Shall we leave, darling?"
"Just a moment, Hyacinth is yet to find her finest ribbon." She said smiling.
Before he could put his confusion into a question the Bridgerton bunch stormed into the room, Violet panting, clearly after trying to break off the fight between the youngest ones.
"Shall we?" Violet asked finally when she caught her breath.
"Mother are you guys going somewhere because--"
"Yes,yes dear.. we're all going to the races..now hurry up."
"Why are they coming with us?" Anthony whispered in Kate's ear, taking her arm in his, clenching his jaw and pouting like a kid.
"Because I asked them to."
Kate said as she adjusted her gown, not seeing her husband's seething face.
"Clearly you didn't mean to go to the races just by ourselves did you?"
She asked gleefully now turning to look at his face.
"I wanted us to spend time together Kate, just us. I love my family but they are always with you, hovering over you, I can't even get one minute alone with you."
"That's not true."
"Kate, please save a seat for me beside you, please don't forget." Eloise said as she ran to the carriage.
"Ofcourse I will Eloise!" Kate said as if on cue smiling warmly at her sister.She turned to face Anthony who was seething, she suddenly wiped off her smile on her face.
"See!!? This is what I meant."
"Anthony, we'll still have a splendid time together, doesn't matter who comes with us."
God how he hoped.
Hope is a dangerous thing.
Anthony came to understand this moments after setting foot on the field. Hyacinth and Gregory minutes after reaching the field decided to end what had started at home. Their small fight progressed to name callings and it only took moments before Gregory pulled out Hyacinth's ribbon ruining her hair. Hyacinth was ready to throw a fit and Violet struggled hard to stop bloodshed.Anthony was enjoying whatever spare moments he got with Kate when Kate turned to search for Violet.He remembered their first race together. How she shut his mouth for all the right reasons, won the bet and called him out on his schemes.He winced at the thought of the Dorset business he concoted that day which eventually gave him a taste of his own medicine.The past was a horrible place to be in for Anthony Bridgerton but the future looked bright and full of love.He smiled as he caressed her hand on his. He was stopped in his musings when Kate said;
"Anthony, find our seats, I think Violet is having so much trouble with the young ones, I'll be just a minute."
Anthony turned to see what Kate was referring to.On a good day he adored his young ones, today was not one, not even close.
He reluctantly let go off Kate's hand, not taking his eyes away from her form. Benedict pulled him away to find their seats.
Kate controlled the situation with soft admonishments and settlements and proceeded to tie Hyacinth's hair while Violet took Gregory to their seats.
Anthony looked at her from their seats in awe.She always handled every single tantrums his siblings threw gracefully and he smiled when he saw the respite on his mother's face.She was also a little proud,of her daughter-in-law, he noticed.
"Honestly brother you don't have to show your teeth in the sun for her to find the way, she will reach here eventually" Benedict teased him.He realised he was watching and smiling at his wife like a lunatic.
He glared at him.
Anthony had planned the seating arrangement so that Kate sat on his right.Who ever was to sit on her right it didn't matter to him.He patiently waited on his seat, keeping his hand on the seat to his right, clearing or practically shoving anyone who came that way.Benedict gave him an intrigued look and took the seat to Anthony's left.
Violet had come up to their seats with Gregory. She came to stand next to her seat near Lady Danbury, just a row below Anthony.
"Quite a hot day is it not?"
She said looking at Anthony and turned to Benedict when no response came from Anthony who had his attention set on the field, but not on the horses ofcourse.
"Anthony, you can't possibly sit there when mother clearly said she needs refreshments." Benedict said, clearly enjoying annoying his love sick brother.
"When did she say that?"
Anthony said confused,turning to look at her for the first time.She smiled. She looked quite parched. Benedict was right.
"Why can't you go?"
Surely he was a single man not having to worry about things, things like seating arrangements.
"I can't possibly bring all of them lemonades, I have only two hands." He said dryly.
Kate had come up to their seats now and stood next to Violet. She took one look at Anthony and knew he was annoyed to his core.Kate smiled at the sight.
"Literally mother is the only one who wants a lemonade Benedict."
"I want one." Eloise mumbled,eyes still on her pamphlet.
"Me too." Gregory said.
"Don't forget me" Hyacinth added.
If the sunlight wasn't too harsh on their eyes they could surely see fumes coming out of Anthony's ears.
"Kate dear, don't you want a lemonade, I'm sure taming these rascals have got you wanting one, Anthony's just going to get everyone lemonades. He's such a gentleman." Violet said turning to her daughter-in-law smiling warmly.
Kate looked at Anthony and let out a snort which was followed by laughter that she tried to smother with her hand.
Anthony looked baffled but he very well knew why Kate was laughing. He had only done the same last season. When he sent Lord Lumley to fetch refreshments for the ladies,while he stole his seat. When Lumley came back with refreshments he drank it himself.Life was biting him right back he thought.But why does it have to happen right now.
Violet and the rest of Bridgerton's stood confused at the knowing glances Kate and Anthony shared. Anthony reluctantly stood up from his seat and towed Benedict with him. Where is Colin when you need him? He thought to himself. Anthony gestured Kate to sit on the seat that Anthony had arranged for her.
Anthony went as fast as he could without offending anyone, he balanced as many glasses as he could and turned to walk away from the stand when Lord Fife came to stand just infront of him.
"I heard you placed your bet on Versailles. I thought Chester was a prudent choice."
"Versailles has favorable features,Fife!" He said quite impatiently not trying to hide that he's not interested in the conversation at all in the hopes that Fife would discover it and leave him alone.
No,he was dumb, so he continued.
"What features Bridgerton, care to enlighten me?"
Anthony couldn't believe the nerve of this man, stopping him in his track and wasting his time, his precious time. Speak of precious he glanced at the seats where Kate sat, there was a lot of people moving in and around where the Bridgertons sat. He saw Kate changing seats. All week he had looked forward to this and every single person was trying to bungle it.Well he's not the one to admit defeat.
"Versailles is a thorough bred, his weight is an advantage,he runs well in dry track, today the track is dry, chester runs better in wet tracks, also Versailles's jockey is great." Anthony said, in one breath and walked away from Fife hastily, while Fife stood there perplexed.
When did Bridgerton start to bet with such methods and devices, Fife thought to himself. Anthony smiled.His heart swelled with pride when he remembered his conversation with Kate last night. Kate always knew which horse would win. It was not simply a blind draw. She had precise calculations and assessments while selecting a horse. She had said yesterday that Versailles had a chance over Chester,so he had made a bet on Versailles without even thinking twice.He didn't have to. His wife was brilliant.
Eventually when he reached their seats he wanted to throw a fit or cry or scream.Kate was sitting with Eloise to her right and on Anthony's seat sat Lady Danbury with Benedict to her left and Gregory to Benedict's left.
Lady Danbury.Really? Out of all people?
He handed the lemonade to Eloise and Kate. She looked at him helplessly. He stood there for sometime in the hopes that Eloise or Lady Danbury would take pity on him and move so that he could sit next to his dear Kate. No one seems to be on his side today. He sighed. Lady Danbury gestured her hands to the end of the row.Beside Gregory a seat was empty. He walked reluctantly to the seat.
Was Lady Danbury punishing him for all the public display of affections he had shown towards Kate. During their courtship Anthony had earned many whacks with her cane.He swears there's a mark on his right leg from all the beatings. After their marriage he took his revenge whenever he could especially infront of Lady Danbury. She was getting him for all that now. He sat with a sigh.
He looked at Kate, she was just three seats away, but it felt like she was light years away. She was laughing with Eloise,both in their element, pointing at a pamphlet Eloise had in her hand. This was what he missed the most.This mundane moments with her. He was enjoying her laugh while one of the Lords whose name he couldn't get out in the first few seconds came and greeted him. He stood up to have a polite conversation although not happily. Few minutes had passed when he turned to see Kate,the seat beside her empty, he looked further to see Eloise joining Penelope.
But the universe had other plans, to fuck with him!
He turned to Kate when he saw a tall form come to stand at her side,a familiar form, and within seconds Lady Danbury gestured the person to sit beside Kate and he sat...just like that.The audacity.
The last thread of his patience snapped as he learned who the man was.
He doesn't seem to catch a break today.
If it would not have been inappropriate to grab an old Lady's cane he would have taken Lady Danbury's cane and smacked himself with it. The irony of it all.The universe was bent on teaching him lessons he was so sure of that by now.
Anthony was really being impolite at the gentleman who was trying so hard to get his attention.At this point honestly Anthony didn't care. He was preoccupied the way Kate and Dorset was engaging in casual conversation and laughing.
This man's audacity is unbelievable.
Well who's to blame? himself.
Lord Harper finally admitted defeat and nodded politely as he walked away from Anthony.
Anthony sat on his seat sighing, face still turned towards Kate.
The race began. Everybody stood to cheer. Anthony stood too but his eyes was not on the track. Kate was in her element, cheering and shouting for Versailles. Anthony stood watching her, his stomachs flipped at the sight,her eyes gleamed, Versailles was starting to lead, Anthony didn't need to look at the track to know that.She turned to look at him laughing,happy that her choice of horse is leading. He smiled back at her, only then he realised that he was holding his breath.
Versailles was close. Anthony watched as Kate removed her gloves and put her fingers in her mouth to whistle. Anthony had to laugh at that. His heart was ready to jump from his chest at the sight.
There was no one like her. And she was his.
His smile disappeared when he saw that he's not the only one enjoying his wife's playful side.
Dorset.That bastard Dorset.
He glared daggers at him. If looks could kill Anthony was surely going to be a murderer. But whatever angry hypnotisation Anthony did, Dorset was immune to it all as he kept smiling at Kate.
The nerve of this man.
Eventually Dorset may have felt something burning on his forehead that he turned to look at the source. The look on Anthony's face was enough to put him in his place. He suddenly turned and moved away from Kate just as Versailles galloped to win. Kate was jumping and laughing which brought Anthony to peace again.
Anthony came to Kate's side.As fast as he can. Where he belonged.Just by being at her side brought him a sense of calm and contentment. But his presence and a murderous face wasn't enough for Dorset to go away.
Where's that cane?
"Your wife is a delightful company, she's always, but especially while watching a horse race.I was most lucky to have her company today."
yes, you lucky bastard.
"I was wondering where you had ran off to leaving such a precious thing behind."
"Did you now?"
"Anyway I'm leaving for India next month to study some of their medical procedures so I was just telling Kate--
Ugh!! where's that cane when you really need it?
--that I'll be happy to bring her spices or anything she needs from India."
"That's wonderful Dorset, although you don't need to bother yourself with bringing her goods,I have already made arrangements with a dealer, she can have them by the plentiful."
Kate gave him a 'don't be rude' look.
"In that case I think I'll just entertain you with my letters with the news from your homeland." He turned to Kate.
This guy's going halfway around the earth and will still not leave his wife alone. God damn it!
"I'm excited for you to experience it Thomas and yes please write to me the details, I dearly miss Bombay."
You do? You were there just 1 month ago!
But if she did he will happily hop on the next ship with her. Benedict and Colin are more than capable now. Yes, somewhat. Apart from a few mistakes.Ugh!!
"I'm sure we will be excellent penpals!"
Anthony scoffed loudly.
Kate glared at him.
He already barely had anytime with her, now she had more letters to correspond to, all because he was once foolish, foolish, FOOLISH to introduce them to get his way.
"Then it's farewell Lord and Lady Bridgerton!"
Bye Dorset, I hope your ship sinks--
Ugh.. that's too low.
"Bon Voyage, Dorset! Best wishes."
Even when he was as annoyed as at their budding correspondence business, he was also oddly satisfied that he was going miles way. Away from his wife.
Anthony pouted like a kid sent to bed without dinner the whole carriage ride back to the house. Kate very well knew even if the whole conversation with Dorset was pleasant and playful, playful? really Kate who are you kidding? Anthony would sit on it and overthink it. Anthony had told her how jealous he was of Dorset last season. Even after his marriage to Kate that doesn't seem to have settled.
Just after reaching the Bridgerton house while everyone went for tea he retreated to his study.
Anthony was mindlessly scrolling when Kate came up to his study. She just knocked once and got in, a tray with tea and biscuits in her hand. She walked to the table, set the tray on it and started to make a cup for him. She set the cup on the table as she finished. Anthony was still pouting and did not look up.
This vexing man.
"Anthony, are you upset?"
"I don't know, you tell me."
"I just have all these ledgers to verify, that's all." He said briefly glancing at her.
"Alright, I'll leave you to it then." She said as she quickly turned to walk away. She almost reached the door when he said;
"I don't like to share" He said sheepishly when he came to stand infront of her.
"I don't like to share my things--"
"Anthony Bridgerton,you are the eldest of 8 children--"
"I don't like to share--"
"-- surely you must have learned to share things by--"
"I mean I don't like sharing you,your company, your smiles,your laughs, your jokes,your presence."
"Anthony, I'm the Viscountess, I'm training to host and entertain people, I have to smile and talk with everyone.If you don't want that you my have to tie me to the bed and not allow me to leave."
"Oh don't give me ideas."
"I know it's just that whatever I do I don't get enough time to be with you, every single one of my siblings get to be with you whenever they like...even that blasted Dorset got to spend time with you and he had the audacity to rub it in my face about how delightful my wife was. I know,I'm married to her!"
"So that's why Anthony Bridgerton is pouting! Anthony Bridgerton is jealous." Kate chuckled.
"I'm not pouting and I'm not jealous!"
"Anthony, you very well know he's only my friend, who was introduced to me by you no less."
"You don't have to remind me that every time."
Anthony was fuming, Kate couldn't help but laugh.
"Anthony, he tried to be my friend and gave me a good time when I was at my lowest. I'll always be thankful for him, for his friendship."
"I don't know, maybe I'm jealous--"
"Maybe?" Kate had to laugh. This mad man.
"You are not going to make peace with him even when we are old and grey, are you?"
"Ugh!! we have to deal with him even when we are old and grey?"
"You are enjoying this? Aren't you? To see me tormented? Reap what I sow?"
"I'm not a sadist Anthony! she laughed. I don't have to torment you using him. He's a friend, just that, I draw the line there. You are my everything. No one will ever reach the position I have for you in my heart. You don't have to compete for my love or attention. I don't have to cut and divide the love I have for you. It's a full package for you.Only for you."
"You really mean that?"
"Yes, really,truly and if you must know even when I'm spending time with others I think of you every single minute. About what you'll be doing. When you are at the Parliament, at White's.
"You do that? Because I do that about you too!"
"Really! I always wonder what you are doing when you are away. I have thoughts only about you. It's maddening really. How much you occupy my mind and soul. Sometimes I can't even concentrate. But I would never want it any other way. Your thoughts, the memory of your smell, your laugh gets me through the day, through the tedious tenant meetings,the parliament,the ledgers. I used to dread these things you know,my responsibilities.I dread them now too but only because they keep me away from you. Now I just go through them with much ease because the faster I go the faster I can come home to you.I love you,so much!"
Anthony cupped her face to give a kiss on her forehead.Her eyes gleamed with tears.
"Why do you always tear up when I confess my love to you? Is it that bad always?"
Kate laughed through her tears.
"These are happy tears!"
Anthony gave a tight kiss on her lips.He felt all of his frustration and tension melt away.
It felt like coming home, kissing her.She was home.
"We wasted so much time discussing about that blasted Dorset when we could have utilised it for much much better things." He said sheepishly, bringing her back to the door, pressing his whole body on her's.
"Well 'You' did."
"I have learnt my lesson now." He said as he planted kisses on her neck, slowly going down. He pulled her skirts and slipped his hands between her legs.
"Hmmm..seems like you are ready for me!"
"I'm.. always..ready for..you!" Kate said between breaths,seems like he was also ready when she felt his bulge against her body.
He quickly pulled away to get rid off his jacket and proceeded to unbutton his breeches when a loud knock was heard on the door.
"Sister, you are 10 minutes late to our painting session." It was Benedict.
Not again.This is my house, my wife, I'll dispense her at my mercy he thought.
"Benedict your painting can wait another 15 minutes, we are in the middle of an...important discussion."
Kate let out giggles, which Anthony smothered with his hand.
"Not another word Benedict. Now go and wait in your painting room!".
Benedict let out a loud sigh and left.
"You are very impatient."
"Believe me my patience is what has saved us our dignity, if it was for my impatience I would have taken you right then and there when you put your fingers in your mouth to whistle."
"Well you are very accomplished at whistling, let's see how good you can scream." He said with raspy voice and an evil smile as he entered her.