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The thundering sound of hooves announces the arrival of the Viscount and Viscountess. Sophie squirms on the front steps, rising up on her toes to attempt to catch a glimpse at them. Benedict laughs at his wife's eagerness.

“I know you have a bit of a fondness for Kate, but I promise the horses are working as quick as they can,” Benedict teases.

Sophie’s cheeks color as her husband jests about her slight crush on Lady Bridgerton, but really, how could she be blamed? Kate was a goddess amongst mortals, her long black hair and bright eyes striking as soon as she walked into the room. And it was rather ridiculous that Benedict of all people was poking fun at her. Sophie had caught her husband’s eyes drifting across the ballroom to Kate more than once.

The woman herself steps down from the carriage, Anthony clutching at her hand as he helps her down into the grass. There’s something odd about Anthony’s energy. He refuses to meet his brother’s eyes as they join the couple on the steps, though Kate smiles happily up at them.

“Thank you again for letting me stay with you two,” she greets warmly, wrapping Sophie and then Benedict in tight hugs. “Bridgerton House gets awfully lonely when Anthony is away.”

Anthony flushes, as he looks up at Benedict before looking back down at his boots. “I appreciate your hospitality.”

Benedict looks at Sophie in surprise before turning back to his brother. “Anthony, are you quite well?” he asks.

“Yes, of course.” Anthony finally meets his gaze, though he’s noticeably nervous as he does so. “Just busy. I really must be getting into town to attend to the problems with the harvest.”

With that, he places a kiss on Kate’s cheek, nods his farewell to Benedict and Sophie, and turns on his heel to walk back towards the carriage. Benedict stares blankly at his older brother, his eyes wide in surprise at the oddly formal behavior.

“Is he truly alright?” he asks Kate, who just shrugs as Sophie pulls her into the house.

Benedict is about to follow when his brother’s thunderous footsteps force his attention back around. Anthony is strolling towards him with a determined set to his jaw. When he reaches him, he holds a note out to Benedict. The paper is thin and covered in thumbprints, which is clear evidence that the Viscount had been agonizing over writing it. The note passes between hands without a word, Anthony’s mouth opening and closing before he settles on a firm nod of his head and a pat on Benedict’s shoulder, and then he’s off for good this time.

As he makes his way through the entrance way, Benedict realizes that the house is oddly quiet. He calls out for his wife, then for Kate, and when he hears nothing, he starts searching the many rooms of My Cottage to find them.

Sophie watches as Kate busies herself with removing dresses and chemises from her bag and starts hanging them in the wardrobe of the guest bedroom. Benedict and Sophie didn’t keep a full staff in the house and Kate had shooed away her offers for help, so she found herself sitting on the bed, watching as her lithe body moved back and forth.

“You’re awfully observant,” Kate teases as she looks up at Sophie through her lashes.

It sends heat to Sophie’s cheeks and she fidgets under the Viscountess’ gaze. It’s intense having all of Kate’s attention focused on her, those shining brown eyes baring down at her with owl-like observancy.

“Can I ask you something, Sophie?” Kate asks, her voice filling the silence. “It’s a bit… odd, but I know I can trust you with my secrets. Perhaps you might even be able to relate.”

Sophie nods wordlessly and pats the spot on the bed next to her. Kate sits down delicately, her hands folding demurely in her lap as she thinks through her words.

“Have you ever… Have you ever thought about a woman before? The way we’re expected to think about men?”

Her mouth nearly hits the bedspread at Kate’s question, which the woman clearly interrupts as disgust because she starts rambling.

“I still love Anthony and I always will. He’s my husband and I would never stray from him, but sometimes I just have these feeli-”

“Kate.”

“Like when I’m around you sometimes and-”

Kate.”

Sophie’s voice is steel and it sends a shiver shooting down Kate’s spine as she turns to meet the woman’s gaze. Her eyes are wide and dark and it’s such a beautiful look on her, this passion, that it makes her feel weak.

“Genevieve Delacroix and I were together for six months. We never told a soul. Benedict is the only one who knows, but that was mostly because he figured it out during my wedding dress fitting,” Sophie explains, a blush stealing across her fair cheeks. “It was scary, constantly worrying about someone finding us out. No one would have been kind to us.”

“Did you love her?” Kate asks.

Sophie stops and thinks for a moment. “I loved her, but I’m not sure I was in love with her. Not, at least, the way I am with Benedict. But I don’t think that should diminish what I shared with her. Nor should what you hold with Anthony belittle any other feelings that you keep.”

Kate shakes her head, a gentle smile overtaking her. “Anthony knows and he doesn’t mind, truly he doesn’t.” She pauses, wondering how much she should divulge, but she’s come this far and might as well finish baring her soul. “That’s actually why he suggested I come here while he traveled for the viscounty. He knows… he knows how I feel about you. How I think about you sometimes.”

“And how would that be?”

Sophie’s only answer comes in the form of a kiss. It starts out gentle, Kate’s lips pressing so softly against hers that she barely feels it. She drifts a hand from its place by her side up to the other woman’s hair, tangling it in the soft waves of Kate’s hair. It sets the Viscountess into motion with a stark moan, her fingers and mouth a heavy pressure against Sophie’s body. She wants to continue, her blood singing for it, but she can’t do this to her beloved husband, not without asking, and forces herself to pull away.

Almost as if he was summoned, the door swings open and Benedict pales as he’s hit with the sight of his wife and Kate in the remnants of an embrace, lips swollen in a way that is indicative of a truly passionate kiss. He feels stuck in the doorway, neither able to leave or stay. His eyes dart around the bedroom as he tries desperately to look at anything but the two women. Benedict’s not sure what the proper choice is in this situation, but he’s keenly aware of the fact that he feels as if he’s intruding. He isn’t mad, knows Sophie would never stray from him in a way that would hurt him, and if this is what she desires, then…

“Well, I’ll leave you two to it and…”

“You’re leaving?” Sophie’s voice cuts through the rest of his sentence as she rises to her feet, Kate beside her, and he turns to her with wide eyes. The possibility of him staying in the room while his wife and Kate had their tryst had never even occurred to him. He has engaged in his fair share of threesomes, art parties that had spiraled into clothes spread across the floor and men and women alike in his bed. But what Kate and Sophie were about to share seemed private, seemed more than that, and he would’ve been content to go sit outside and paint if that’s what they desired.

“Don’t be daft, Benedict.” Sophie’s voice had been soft, but Kate’s was all fire and it burned a path right down to his core. She was staring at him with a heady look as she stroked gentle fingers through his wife’s waves. It struck him at that moment how utterly in-control of the situation Kate was, how she had strolled into their bedroom and seized the reins with the confidence only a Viscountess could possess. “Didn’t you read your brother’s note?”

That made him pause because he most definitely had not read his brother’s note. He had been fairly certain that the piece of paper Anthony had pressed into his palm on his way out the door had been a scolding note about catching him beneath Sophie’s skirts in the gardens of Bridgerton House last week and had thought it best to leave that unopened. But now he found his fingers scrambling to pull it from his pocket and read it, his eyebrows shooting upwards as he read it out loud.

Brother,

While Kate has requested to stay with you and Sophie at My Cottage while I am away, she has made a second that may be a bit harder for you to fulfill (though knowing your kindly wicked nature, perhaps not). She has expressed interest in exploring relations with Sophie over the fortnight she is with you, which is permission I would never think to grant without yours, but she has also suggested a desire for your presence as well.

The Viscountess has certainly grown accustomed to getting as she asks, through all fault of my own, but I implore you to know that your comfortability shall come before her desires. That being said, if you and Sophie do decide to partake in indulging her, I would ask only that you take particularly good care of her and try your best to avoid giving her a child. Bridgerton seed is Bridgerton seed, but I would much prefer it to be mine.

Yours,
Anthony

Benedict’s brain is whirring as he finishes reading his brother’s note. He raises his eyes from the paper to Kate’s face and he can’t help the shiver that arises within him at the look on her face. She’s grinning like the cat that’s caught the canary, confidence and wickedness standing tall between her shoulder blades, and he knows with utter certainty that if Sophie so desires, that he’ll give her, give them, everything they desire from him and more.

Sophie has clearly reached the same conclusion because she’s soon pulling Kate’s mouth down to hers with a frantic energy that Benedict easily recognizes as pure, unbridled desire. She’s hungry, her body alight as she drags her lips against Kate’s and Benedict lingers by his spot at the door, more than happy to let them have their moment.

A small moan escapes the back of Kate’s throat as Sophie none too gently starts to ravage her. Her friend is smaller than her and it’s too easy to wrap her arms around her waist and yank her against her chest, angling Sophie’s jaw so the woman is forced to rise on her toes to meet the embrace. It’s rough, but soft in the way only kissing another woman is, and Kate feels every inch of her body heat.

Perhaps it’s greedy of her to want this as much as she does, to desire more than her husband’s touch against her skin, but as Sophie gently flicks her mouth open wider with her tongue, Kate knows that shame has no place in their bedroom. From Sophie’s previous relations with the modiste and Benedict’s liberal trysts to the men and women of the ton, Kate knows she’s safe here, safe to explore her wants of women and men, with her body tucked in-between two of the people she trusts most in this world.

The thought makes Kate realize that she can’t feel or sense Benedict anywhere. Sophie must realize the same because she forces her mouth apart from her and looks around the room with glassy eyes and swollen lips. It brings Kate joy to see how thoroughly wrecked she looks.

“Benedict,” Sophie implores. “Come.” She sticks her hand out towards her husband and follows immediately, though his hesitation is evident. It seems even amongst her husband’s express permission he’s nervous, looking like a stray cat that will bolt at the sign of any sudden movements.

“Benedict, nothing has to occur that you don’t want,” Kate explains gently, lifting a hand from Sophie’s waist to place against his arm. He seems to relax a bit under her touch and she starts to rub her fingers back and forth across the soft skin that’s exposed beneath the rolled up sleeves of his shirt. Kate takes stock of his appearance. His cheeks are slightly flushed, but he’s not even remotely erect, and she realizes with stunning certainty that he hasn’t been watching them.

“I do want, though,” he whispers. Guilt is starting to lick up his spine and he feels a bit like a caged animal. “I just don’t want to overstep. I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

Kate knows that he’s not talking about physically hurting her or Sophie in any way, that he would never dream of laying anything more than a pleasurable hand against her skin. He’s worried about Anthony. It warms her heart to see the emotion on his face and she knows that she’s made the right choice by coming to him and Sophie.

“Benedict, Anthony suggested I come to you and Sophie in the first place.”

“Why?” Sophie gently asks. “Not that I’m not grateful.”

A giggle bubbles out of Kate. Out of the two people currently standing around her in this bedroom, she certainly never would’ve accepted Sophie to be so blatantly wanton, though she supposes she really should’ve guessed. Any woman who was able to keep the infamous Benedict Bridgerton surely would have to be.

“For a while now I’ve been feeling… different. As a Viscountess, I’m expected to spend more time around the other women of the ton, at balls and lady’s luncheons, and I’ve found myself wanting. Thinking about some of them in ways I never have,” Kate can feel her dark skin warming, but she forces herself forward, to open herself up to Benedict and Sophie. How could she expect them to do the same otherwise? “I was worried about mentioning it to Anthony because how does one explain to their husband that they’ve been thinking about other women in such a way? But he didn’t seem that phased by it, in all honesty.”

Her eyes drift to Benedict and she rewards him with a kind smile. “I suppose I have you to thank for that. Anthony was happily willing to let me explore. He would’ve allowed me anything really.” Sophie and Benedict both nod in understanding. It’s no secret that Anthony Bridgerton was rather besotted with his wife. Anything Kate wants, she gets, simply because her husband couldn’t bear the thought of her wanting for anything. “But it made me rather nervous, the thought of approaching another lady. What if I misread the situation? We’d be battered across the pages of Lady Whistledown and I simply couldn’t handle the thought.”

“I thought it might be nice to do… something with Anthony. But he didn’t seem comfortable and that will always be the most important thing to me.” Kate took a deep breath, her eyes darting between the two people in front of her. “But then after Daphne and Simon’s ball, Anthony mentioned that I should come see you two. I think it made him feel better thinking about it being with someone he trusted or perhaps he had just noticed me staring too long…”

Her voice seems to fail her as the vulnerability of her position catches up to her. Kate can’t dwell on it for too long because Benedict is pulling her into a hug, his arms crushing her tightly against his chest. His breathing is heavy as he presses comfort into her bones.

Benedict remembers what it felt like the first time Anthony found him kissing a man. He had been fifteen year old, awkwardly sliding his lips against one of the footman’s own pair behind the stables, when his brother had come tumbling in. He’d burst into tears the second John had scampered off, terrified that he was about to be disowned from the family. Anthony had grabbed him by the shoulders before wrapping him in his arms. The tears had still fallen liberally, but his panic had been quelled by his older brother’s promises to always love and protect him, no matter what.

He feels Kate soften in his hold, her shoulders drooping as he takes hold of some of the weight she had been burdening. Benedict wants to say something, but he flounders. People like them, like him and Kate and Sophie, will never be looked at kindly by the ton. Their desires will always be hidden in the shadows, clouded by anxieties and shame. He doesn’t even know if there’s a name for people like them, people who can know men, women, and anyone in-between and still feel a want. So Benedict just holds her, holds her even tighter when Sophie joins in on the embrace, and the three of them sway in each other’s arms for what feels like an eternity.

Kate finally straightens her spine, placing a chaste kiss on Benedict’s cheek before turning to face the woman behind her. Sophie is stunning, possessing the kind of sweet beauty that stops people in their tracks, and Kate wonders how she got so lucky as to have this woman want her the way she does her.

Her answer comes in the form of Sophie’s lips against hers, her calloused fingers pulling at buttons and fabric, and Kate is quick to reciprocate. Her dress and stays soon join Sophie’s on the floor and as every new inch of glorious dark skin is exposed, the woman places a gentle kiss to it, until Kate is nearly bent backwards in Benedict’s arms as Sophie kisses her shin. It’s intoxicating how completely wanted she feels.

Kate soon grows tired of Sophie’s chaste attention and pulls her to her feet, sinking their lips back together as she starts to walk them back towards the bed. The solid warmth that had been radiating behind her is traded for the soft pillowing of a mattress and she pulls away from Sophie with a grimace as she looks for Benedict. He’s standing by the bed, slowly removing his shoes, and Kate is suddenly overtaken by irrational anger at the sight of him still wearing a shirt.

“Benedict,” his wife scolds. Sophie knows him like the back of her hand, knows when he’s feeling bashful and overtaken by his emotions. Her tone softens significantly as she sees the wariness in his eyes. “Are you okay?“

He nods and lets her pull him down next to them on the bed. Kate, who loves Benedict in her own way, rests her head against his shoulder and squeezes tightly at his hand. It’s permission to be vulnerable and Sophie knows the minute that he sighs he’s taking it.

“I don’t want to be in the way. And I don’t want to disappoint you, Kate. This is important to you.”

Sophie smiles and wraps her arms around her husband as best as she can from her position on top of Kate. It’s an odd tangle of limbs, but the objective of smothering Benedict in warmth is eventually achieved. Sophie knows that he has a hard time accepting his own worth, even when he’s being summoned to bed by two naked women who are clear in their desire for him.

“Benedict, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want you. Do you consider me the kind of woman who does not know what she wants?” Kate asks.

He brightens considerably at that, riddening his shirt at Kate’s requests. Her pretty mouth drops open as freckled chest is exposed to her, her eyes sweeping across the miles of defined muscle and pale skin as he squeezes himself in behind her.

His fingers tilt her jaw up and soon his lips are on hers. Kate realizes it’s the first time she’s kissed Benedict since this whole arrangement started. He’s gentle, never taking too much from her, but he’s firm and starts dragging his fingers over her nipples in the middle of it and Kate’s whole body sings.

She’s so occupied with Benedict and his perfect mouth and pleasurable hands that Kate doesn’t even realize Sophie has started making her way down her body and between her legs until she’s there. Gentle fingers slide against her cunt and Kate’s back arches. Benedict wraps a firm arm around her hips to keep her down as his wife starts to circle Kate’s clit.

She thinks she would be happy to stay like this forever, but Sophie, the overachiever that she is, replaces her fingers with the heavy pressure of her mouth and Kate thinks that she might soon slip out of consciousness. Benedict is murmuring sweet words of encouragement as Sophie devours her and the contrast of his softness with her hunger is overwhelming in the most pleasure- inducing way possible.

The combination of Sophie’s warm mouth sucking at her cunt and Benedict nimble hands tugging at her breasts is sending Kate soaring. She grabs at the man behind her, who’s been busying himself rather efficiently by circling her spit-soaked nipples with his fingers and laving at her neck with his tongue. He’s hard against her back, but he never acts on his pleasure and a choked “In me!” is falling from Kate’s lips before she can process it.

Benedict looks down at his wife, who rises from beneath Kate’s legs with a slick mouth and blown eyes, and he and Kate let out a moan in unison at the sight. The couple seems to have a conversation with their eyes, but the Viscountess lying between them is too shot with pleasure to try keeping up.

“Kate,” Benedict murmurs sweetly in her ear, dragging gently hands up and down her arms. “If you want this, we need to reposition. Is that okay with you?”

She nods in agreement, rolling off of Benedict’s strong legs and straight into Sophie’s waiting arms. He rids himself of his breeches before settling himself down against the pillows and slants his knees up, helping Kate rise up and straddle him. She leans her weight back against his waiting thighs, fingers dragging across his toned stomach as he drags two fingers against her core.

“You ready, hon?” he asks and the name fills her with such joy. Sophie has always been his love, but the pet name he has just given her is kind and Kate knows that it’s a gentle extension of the care he’s shown her all night, of his desire for her to feel safe and wanted with them.

Her only answer is to sink herself down on his heavy cock, pleasure shooting up her spine in violent sparks as Benedict fills her. A violent gasp falls from Benedict’s mouth as her heat flutters around him. “Gonna move, okay?” he asks and she nods eagerly.

Benedict starts thrusting his hips upward slowly at first. It feels good, the way his pubic bone hits her clit with every drag, but it’s not enough to feed her hunger. Sophie reaches over and gives his nipple a pinch, which he takes as a sign to speed up. He’s fucking into Kate rougher now, his fingers pressing into the fat of her hip as he takes her, and from this position she can see every wave of pleasure as it hits his face.

That is before her view is blocked by Sophie, who slung a leg on either side of Benedict’s chest and sat herself down facing Kate. She leans forward and molds her mouth against Kate’s once again. It’s less of a kiss than her slack-jawed moaning liberally into the other woman’s mouth, but Sophie takes it eagerly just the same, swallowing each noise with a flick of her tongue.

Benedict’s hands drift from Kate’s hips to his wife’s center and his fingers expertly sink into her wetness. The spot on her waist that Benedict's hands once occupied is filled by Sophie, who digs her fingers in and uses the leverage to tug her back and forth until she understands that she’s telling her to rock her rips. It’s almost surprising how quickly the three of them are able to work together without speaking and Kate’s about to ask them if they’ve had someone else in their marital bed when Benedict hits the spot deep within her that makes her eyes squeeze tight and nonsense spill from her lips.

Sophie sneaks two fingers down between her legs and starts circling her clit with the perfect amount of pressure and Kate’s quickly speeding towards her pleasure with their attention turned so solely towards her. Benedict reaches the hand that isn’t buried in Sophie’s wanting cunt to entangle his fingers with Kate and it steadies her enough to keep riding him, to keep taking the strokes he’s giving her and the circles of Sophie’s fingers until she’s teetering against the edge.

“What do you need, sweet girl?” Sophie asks. Wordlessly, Kate pulled her hands from her hips to her breasts in gentle instruction. A few sweet tugs of Sophie’s calloused fingertips on her nipples is all it takes for Kate’s orgasm to slam into her and a wild moan to tremble from her throat.

She’s so hazy with the aftershocks of pleasure shooting through her body that Kate can barely process Benedict rolling her gently onto her back, slipping slowly out of her as Sophie pulls him down into her embrace. Her eyes flutter as she melts further into the mattress. She can’t see what they’re doing, but from the little noises of pleasure erupting from her left, she knows that they’re enjoying it. Her body tenses slightly as she prepares to feel lonely, knowing that she’s too spent to take anything more and still missing the warmth of their bodies on hers, when Benedict and Sophie start gently caressing her.

It’s soft and sweet, hands on her belly and arms and thighs as they finish, but it grounds Kate as she settles back into herself. It doesn’t take either of them long to reach their peak and soon Sophie is nestling into her side, her warm body wrapping Kate up like a blanket. She waits for the bed to dip with the weight of Benedict’s body, but it never comes.

She cracks an eye open to search for him and finds her answer in the corner of the room. He turns to her with a kind smile and as he walks closer, Kate realizes that there are wet rags clutched in his fist. Benedict is gentle as he cleans her skin, sweet words falling from his lips as he goes about his self-appointed task. Sophie’s body heat and his caring hands soon prove to much for Kate’s spent body and before she can think enough to fight it, she’s drifting off to sleep.

When Anthony arrives at My Cottage, he finds his wife lying in a chair in the sun. Sophie is tending to her roses not too far away, while Benedict, upon seeing his brother turn the corner towards their garden, has suddenly found a tree on the edge of the property incredibly interesting and walks over to examine it without an ounce of subtlety.

Kate snickers at the display, rising to her feet to greet Anthony with a strong hug. He had been missing her terribly and while he knows he must tend to his younger brother’s oddness soon, he rejoices in the feeling of having her in his arms once again.

“Do you feel better now?” Anthony whispers into her ear.

Kate nods.

“Are you happy?”

Kate nods again and a weight he didn’t know he’d been harboring fell from Anthony’s chest. He’s been worrying about how all of this would go and Benedict’s determination to avoid making eye contact certainly hadn’t helped. But Kate is glowing and her shoulders seem to be less tense, while Sophie only smiles kindly and expresses her happiness at his arrival.

“You should go talk to him, if you feel able,” his sister-in-law offers, turning back to her pink flowers. “Everything has been perfectly fine, but I think he’s worried that you’ll still be upset with him.”

Anthony shakes his head, but he’s smiling as he does it. His brother’s back is still turned to him, but his shoulders tense as he nears. Benedict has always been hyper aware of him, following his brother like a puppy as a child and mentee as an adult.

“Thank you,” is the first thing that leaves his mouth as he takes his spot next to Benedict. He immediately regrets it as his brother cringes and Anthony realizes that he has essentially just thanked him for partaking in the bedding of his wife. Benedict turns on his heel to walk away, his face tight and devoid of its normal warmth, and Anthony knows he needs to fix this now before his brother spends the rest of his life refusing to look him in the eye.

“Simon and I used to kiss sometimes. Back at Oxford,” Anthony blurts out. Benedict whips back around, his eyes wide at his brother’s admission. “And it was nice. I… I liked it. But it was such a secret and so when Kate started telling me about her feelings it scared me. I didn’t know how to handle it, but I know you would and it seemed to please her an-“

His ramble is silenced by Benedict wrapping a firm arm around his shoulders, pulling him to his side. They stand in silence, memories of a fifteen year old Benedict crying in Anthony’s arms floating between them as they lurk in his admission. It’s quiet for a beat longer than comfortable and Anthony feels sweat start to bead along his forehead as he waits for his brother to say something.

“Well,” Benedict starts, the crooked smile that Anthony knows so well spreading across his face. “Your insistence on dueling Simon certainly makes sense now.”

Anthony’s loud mutters of indignation rouse Kate and Sophie and the two meet each other’s eyes before rolling their eyes. It’s as if the tension hanging over My Cottage has snapped and it’s peaceful as the sun soaks over them.

Four people, all the same. What luck they must possess to have found each other.