the story of us
summary: Five times Kate Sheffield and Anthony Bridgeton were just friends and one time they were more.
chapter 1: if one thing had been different, would everything be different?
Kate Sheffield and Anthony Bridgerton meet at Oxford University.
They’re both studying law and business, and they’re in the same college of the many in their university. They have nearly identical schedules, which usually resulted in heated debates in most of their lectures. They’re partnered up for seminars for their first semester, which means an hour a week the two of them and a tutor spend an hour discussing readings, essays and of course, arguing further.
Oddly enough, after a month of arguing and bickering, they sort of become best friends.
They lived in the same accommodation, a co-ed accommodation which Kate had thought was scandalous at first, but it ends up being amazing. They form a friend group in their course, and they all live together. It's sort of perfect, really. Kate had had friends in school, but she had never had a friendship group like this or a best friend like Anthony. For the first time, she felt like she truly belonged.
They still argued constantly, much to the amusement of their friends, but they also knew each other’s coffee orders and why he’s scared of bees and she’s scared of thunderstorms.
He’s the first boy-friend Kate has ever had, and she’s definitely his first platonic girl-friend as he seems to sleep with the rest of them.
They’re completely different, yet they understand each other. He’s a Bridgerton, an Oxford legacy with an actual title, and she’s a Sheffield from a small town in Somerset on a scholarship to Oxford. He went to Eton, she went to her local secondary school.
They spend their first year at university either in the library, in their rooms or drunk in a club or pub. Always together.
“So, you and Anthony,” Her friend, Anna, commented as they walked to class one chilly December day. Anthony was up ahead with some of the lads, the group of them laughing loudly and occasionally shoving each other. Kate had decided a while ago she would never fully understand the male species.
“Yes?” Kate asked, turning to raise an eyebrow at Anna. She knew what Anna was implying, it wasn’t the first time she had been asked about it and it was only December.
“You’re quite close,” She commented further, grinning at Kate as she opened up the Law building’s door.
“We’re good friends,” Kate shrugged, feeling her cheeks heat up. “That’s all.”
“The way he looks as you doesn’t seem that friendly to me,” said Anna, nudging Kate with her hip. Anna had long blonde hair, pale skin and a wide smile. She was also very petite. Kate was the opposite.
Kate was tall, around 5’10, which people oddly liked to to remind her about a lot. As if she wasn't aware of it. She was lucky she had never suffered from acne, bar the occasional stress spots, so her skin was clear and smooth. She had long, dark thick hair. It never stayed straight and was always knotted, so she usually just let it lie down her back. She had met the girls Anthony typically went for and she didn’t fit the picture.
Kate had long accepted that and wouldn't entertain the idea any further.
“He doesn’t look at me like anything,” Kate rolled her eyes, feeling her throat closing up slightly as they walked into their lecture hall and took a seat in the middle. “He saw me puke my guts out last week, so it’s fair to say he’s not looking at me like anything.”
She had gotten far too drunk on a night out last Thursday and she could still feel her hangover. It had been a particularly stressful day with a bad grade on an essay and a harsh feedback session from a tutor. She had embarrassingly burst into tears when Anthony had stopped by her room to go to dinner, and he held her as she cried and called their tutor a twat.
He then suggested they all go out. She had apparently danced on top of tables, attempted to take most of her clothes off (and was stopped from doing so) and then passed out. Anthony had carried her home. Not that she remembered anything, most of the night was a blur.
She was never drinking tequila again.
“He was the one holding your hair back,” Anna gave her a pointed look, raising her eyebrows. “I’m just saying, I think you two would be good together. Kate and Anthony has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
Before Kate could object, she felt someone appear sit down beside them. “Hey,” A voice appeared beside them and Kate nearly jumped, looking at Anthony. He was wearing a grey jumper and jeans, his nose red from the cold outside. “What are you talking about?”
“What we’re wearing to the Law ball,” Anna replied swiftly, and Kate let out a sigh of relief that her friend had stopped talking. The Law Ball was being held next weekend, just before the term ended for Christmas and all assignments were over.
“Oh,” Anthony said, taking out his laptop and logging into it. “Well, Kate, you should wear something that’s hard to get out of. I don’t think the law society will take kindly to one of its members stripping in the middle of the dancefloor.”
“Fuck off.” She elbowed him as Anna burst out laughing, and Anthony grins at her. She can’t help but laugh too even if she’s mortified.
After Christmas, when they’re back at university and exams are over, he teaches her how to drive. Mary, her step-mother and the only mother she’s ever had, never learned, and everything had been within walking distance back home. She had never had the chance to learn. She had got the train to university when she’d moved, and you walked everywhere. Anthony always had his car with him as he went home a lot to see his siblings and mother.
When he finds out she can’t drive, he insists on teaching her. “I’ve taught two of my siblings. Including Colin. If I can teach Colin, I can teach anyone.”
They’re about ten minutes into it before they start arguing.
Kate had never thought driving could be so stressful.
“I am clutching!” She shrieked, pushing the pedal forward as her ankles began to ache.
“Fuck me-brake, Kate!”
“Stop shouting at me!”
She pulls up the handbrake so hard she’s surprised she didn’t break it, and gets out of the car and refuses to get back in. They had gone to a retail park with a largely empty parking lot to practice in. He eventually convinces her to get back in the car, after apologizing numerous times, and he’s a lot nicer as she gets behind the wheel again.
Her birthday is in March, and he gets her driving lessons. They’re ridiculously expensive, and she initially refuses to accept them for a week. They argue about it, money has never been an object to him and it’s something she’s never had much of, so their perspectives are different.
She eventually accepts them and thanks him, after he insists for the twentieth time he didn’t mean it in any way other than to help her and so he would never have to teach her. She really wanted to be able to drive, to be able to afford a car eventually and drive home to Mary and Edwina more. She did warn him if he ever spent more than 20 pounds on her again, she’d murder him.
It’s the start of May when she passes her test, and he’s waiting for her outside the centre. He twirls her around as she runs towards him, shouting she’d passed, and they get McDonalds to celebrate. She thanks him for everything, and he shrugs it off because he’s Anthony. They do celebrate with their friends in the pub later that evening, and she gets very drunk, but their McDonalds that afternoon will hold a special place in her heart.
She’s beginning to think he always will, too.
Her dad’s memorial service is on a Sunday in June. It had been five years since he died, five years of missing him and him missing everything. Her graduating school, her getting into university, her first day at university. Kate planned to get the train back home for the day and get the last one back this evening. She had two exams on Friday and Saturday so she couldn’t have gone home earlier, and she couldn’t miss any of her tutorials or lectures tomorrow. A part of her was relieved, she didn’t want to stay at home. It was too sad and university was a good distraction.
It was far too early to be awake on a Sunday, it was 7am, but she had to be home before twelve for the service and the train was two hours.
Her phone buzzed, and she glanced at the whatsapp messages that appeared on her screen.
Anthony: i’m outside
Kate raised an eyebrow at the text, grabbing her bag and heading downstairs, outside their accommodation. She walked out onto the road, eventually spotting him. “Anthony?”
“Hey,” He said, smiling at her. He was leaning against his car, his hands in his pockets. “We better hit the road. We’ll need to stop at a Starbucks drive through as well, I need caffeine.”
Kate stared at him, unsure of what to say or what was going on. He had been the person she had mentioned it to out of their friends, that she wouldn’t be around on Sunday. “What do you mean? I’m going to my dad’s service.”
“I know Kate,” He said softly, opening the passenger side door for her. “I figured I’d drive you. I don’t want you to be alone, so I thought I’d come. I know how hard today can be, so,” He shuffled his feet awkwardly, clearly very uncomfortable. “If it’s okay, that is. If you don’t want me to come, I can go.”
She stared at him. “Oh Anthony,” She half sobbed, completely breaking down and throwing herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck. It was probably the nicest thing someone had ever done for her. She hadn’t realized how much she had needed someone until she saw him in front of her. She squeezed him tightly, pushing the tears back that were brewing under her eyelids. “Thank you.”
She hadn’t had to ask, he was just there. That was Anthony Bridgerton.
“It’s okay,” He murmured, squeezing her back before she removed herself off him, half sniffling. Anthony had never handled emotional women well. “Let’s go? You have music privileges but if I hear one one direction song, they’re gone.”
“As if you don’t already know the lyrics and like them,” Kate teased, climbing into the car and putting on her seatbelt.
“I have three younger sisters,” He grumbled, flicking a glance at the rearview mirror as he pulled out onto the road. “Of course I know the lyrics.”
It’s a long and hard day, but she feels better when Mary, her stepmother, her mum, opens their front door and hugs her. Edwina squeals as she runs towards Kate, hugging her tightly.
“Hey guys,” Kate said, smiling as she stepped aside and gestured awkwardly to Anthony. “This is my friend from university, Anthony.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Anthony said, oddly formal as he extended his hand. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you. It’s a pleasure to meet you too,” Mary said, smiling at Anthony as she gestured to them to come inside. “Come in! We can have some tea and biscuits before we head off.” She shot Kate an amused smile behind Anthony’s back, who was being lead into the kitchen by a chattering Edwina.
Kate ignored Mary, because she knew that look and there was no look needed. There was nothing going on between her and Anthony.
The memorial is long, and quite sad. Anthony puts his arm around Kate at one point, when she can’t hold her tears, silently streaming down her cheeks. There’s a small lunch at the local pub afterwards, which Kate spends mostly talking to old friends of her fathers and familiar faces she hadn’t seen since she had left for university.
Kate takes Anthony on a walk down the pier, where she spent most of her childhood hanging out with her friends. “I had my first kiss there,” She pointed at the edge of the pier where there were a few steps that led to the sea. “I had my first drink there as well. I remember how disgusted I was about how disgusting beer was. All that hype for it to taste like piss.”
Anthony snorted, licking his lips as he tried to keep up with his melting ice cream. His face was a mess, a few sprinkles at the edge of his ice cream stained mouth. “Very romantic. So this is where the Kate Sheffield came to be?”
“It is indeed. Here,” She chuckled, stopping in her tracks as she reached up to wipe his white stained mouth softly. “You’re very messy.”
He was staring at her as she wiped his mouth, and her brain had only caught up with her actions a few moments later. She was touching his face, her hand on his cheek as she wiped his mouth.
His perfectly, slightly rose tinted lips.
“Oh my god! Kate!” Her old school friend, Ophelia Nixon, who had gone to university in Nottingham screeched as she ran up to Kate and hugged her. Kate introduced Anthony and they made polite conversation before Kate said they better head back as they had a long drive ahead of them.
The moment between her and Anthony had come and gone as quickly as it had happened. Neither of them acknowledged it.
Kate shook her head, thinking she was being ridiculous. There wasn’t a moment, of course there wasn’t.
“I like him,” Mary said later that evening, hugging Kate at the doorstep as her and Anthony were about to leave. Anthony had already said goodbye, and he was waiting in the car to give the Sheffields a private moment.
“I like him too,” Kate said, giving her mother a pointed look. “As a friend.”
“Of course dear,” Mary brushed Kate’s thick hair out of her eyes, winning at her. “It was lovely to see you, darling. Safe drive home. I love you a lot.”
“I love you too,” She hugged Mary one last time, before moving to hug her sister.
“I hate when you go,” Edwina murmured, wrapping her arms around her sister tightly. “You should bring back boys more. Especially ones who look like that.”
“What?” Her sister replied innocently, but she was smirking. “He definitely likes you.”
“I love you,” Kate said pointedly, ending the conversation as she pulled away from her sister. “I’ll call you both later.”
“Love you,” Edwina was laughing, waving in her and Anthony’s direction. “Bye Anthony!”
Anthony looked up and waved as Kate groaned, turning to give her a sister a murderous glare as she climbed into the car.
“You okay?” Anthony asked as Kate waved at her mother and sister’s fading figures as they drove off.
“Yeah,” She said, that feeling of sadness still aching slightly in the pit of her stomach. The years passed, and it got slightly easier, but it would always hurt. She smiled at him. “Thank you for today.”
“Of course,” said Anthony, returning her smile before focusing back on the road as they sat in a comfortable silence. Kate felt herself dozing off, the events of the day catching up on her, but as she fell asleep thinking about how much her dad would have liked Anthony.
Siena Rosso comes into the picture at the start of their second year. Kate doesn’t understand their relationship, if it even is a relationship, and deep down she knows she doesn’t want to understand. She prefers to not think about it, prefers to not think about that gut wrenching feeling in the pit of her stomach when she sees them together.
Besides, Siena is nice. She’s studying drama in the year below them. She’s witty, gorgeous, has no problem putting Anthony in his place and Kate understands why he likes her. She’s absolutely nothing like Kate.
Kate had never had much experience with boys, something she had long come to terms with in school and was once aware of again in university. It did happen, she had more opportunities in university-it just didn't happen a lot. Boys didn’t seem to gravitate towards her and she never got asked out on dates. It just wasn’t something that happened to her.
Edwina had even gotten a boyfriend long before Kate had.
She’s at a party one night in October, and Anthony isn’t there. Kate had been trying to make more of an effort with people outside of their friendship group and particularly people who weren’t Anthony. He had a life outside of her, and she would have one outside of him. She was invited by Poppy, a girl she had met in one of her history electives.
She gets paired up with Simon Basset for beer pong at the pre-drinks, and they were getting on very well. She didn’t know him at all, she only knew of him from Anthony. They had gone to Eton together, but Kate hadn’t met him until tonight. Anthony had been good friends with him for years, but hadn’t thought to introduce Kate or invite her whenever him and Simon met up.
“I’m Simon,” He introduced himself as grinned at her. “I really don’t like losing at beer pong.”
“Good thing I don’t lose,” Kate replied swiftly, smirking right back at him.
They walk to the club together and he gives her a piggyback when she complains her feet hurt. She puts up an instagram story of Simon and her winning beer pong and another of them smiling at the camera.
She ignores Anthony’s reply to her story, and she drinks more.
When she's on her third drink, Kate decides her and Simon were flirting. They were definitely flirting.
“What course did you say you were in again?” Simon shouts over the music, his hands lingering on her waist.
“Law,” Kate shouts back at him, leaning up slightly to speak in his ear.
“Ah! Do you know Anthony Bridgerton?”
"Yeah!" Kate tries to contain the grin that forms on her face the minute he's mentioned. "He's one of my best mates."
“Wait,” said Simon, the grin on his face completely disappearing. “You’re Kate?”
“Yeah,” She said, raising an eyebrow slightly at Simon's fallen face. “Has he mentioned me?”
“I can’t do it, I’m sorry,” Kate looks confused and Simon sighs, shaking his head. “I can’t do it to Anthony.”
“What? Can’t do what?” said Kate, raising an eyebrow. “Oh! No, no. We’re just friends!”
“I still can’t,” Simon insisted, actually taking a step back from her. Did Eton breed these boys to be so dramatic? “Believe me, I want to, but I can’t. Bro-code.”
“That’s ridiculous. Wait, did he say something to you?” Kate asked, raising an inquisitive eyebrow at him and feeling quite infuriated. Why couldn’t he do that to Anthony? Kate was his friend, not his sister. Not that it made a difference but to boys it clearly did. Kate didn’t know what category it fell into.
Simon just winked at her, “I better go before I do something I’ll regret but really won’t regret. I’ll see you around Kate,” Simon then literally ran away from Kate, and Kate was left standing there, gobsmacked.
“What just happened?” Poppy asked, walking up to Kate and following her gaze towards the back of Simon’s head, fading into the crowd.
Kate sighed, taking a long gulp of her vodka and cranberry. “I have absolutely no idea.”
The following day, Kate was feeling rather sorry for herself as she sat in the common room of their accommodation. She was incredibly hungover, exhausted and had sat through two lectures back to back that morning. She was meeting Anthony for lunch before she went to sleep for the rest of the day.
Anthony strode into the common room, a frown on his face as he sat down opposite her. "Were you with Simon Basset last night?”
“Wha?” Kate mumbled, her hangover pounding against her temple. “Hello to you too. Oh, yeah.” She would have rather forgotten about him, the guy who had rejected her in the middle of the club.
“And?” Anthony pressed, staring at Kate rather disgruntled.
Kate sat up, rather confused at his attitude. She was more than familiar with Anthony's moodiness, but this was slightly bizarre. He looked pissed. “And what?”
“Kate,” Anthony snapped, looking oddly serious as he pulled out his sandwich. “What do you think? Did you get with him?”
She didn’t care for his tone and she glared at him as she lifted her head. She ignored his question. “Did you say something to Simon Basset about me?”
Anthony gaped at her, his mouth hanging open with his half chewed lunch. “What?”
“Ew, shut your mouth you animal,” She scolded, making a face at him. “He mentioned you last night.”
Anthony put his sandwich down, looking at her seriously. “Did you get with him?”
Kate felt her cheeks heat up, forcing herself to look at him and scowl. “That’s none of your business!”
He was not pleased in the slightest. His tone was cold with a hint of irritation, lower than usual. “Kate.”
He leaned forward as he spoke, “Seriously, Kate.”
“Not that it has anything to do with you, but no, we didn’t!” She exclaimed, not understanding why he was acting quite hostile and why he was acting that question. They weren’t the type of friends to talk about who they got with, and Kate wasn’t really that type of person anyway. She was easily mortified. “He wouldn’t because of you. Something about some misogynistic bro-code.”
Anthony let out what looked like a sigh of relief, but she wasn’t sure. She knew that she would never truly understand men, and this was another example of why she shouldn’t ever bother trying.
“What did you say to him?” Kate asked, frowning at him, now happily munching away at his sandwich. She felt ridiculous asking, but she was confused and annoyed. “Did you tell him not get with me? You better not have Anthony Bridgerton. I will murder you.”’
“I didn’t tell him anything! Jesus, Kate. It’s Bro-Code. You don’t get with sisters, girlfriends, ex-girlfriends or girls who are best friends of your friends. There’s some lines you don’t cross,” He shrugged. “It would be like me getting with Edwina.”
“Okay, I’m eating my lunch and I'm extremely hangover,” She gagged, shuddering at the thought. “That is not the same. That code is ridiculous. Women aren't possessions you can ban your friends from getting with simply because they mean something to you.”
“It would be like you getting with Benedict!” The coloured veins in his neck were sticking out and she could see his frustration. “It’s wrong and immoral.”
“Again, eating my lunch. Benedict is a child so that’s another disgusting example I won't be entertaining. You're being absolutely ridiculous,” She shook her head, “I can still get with whoever I want. I don’t need your permission or some stupid code dictating that.”
“I never said you did,” He retorted, wiping his mouth with a napkin. “Besides, Basset is my friend and all, but he’s bad news. He flies through girls. He’s not relationship material.”
“That’s sort of the pot calling the kettle black, though, isn’t it? Siena is still with you.” She felt like she had gone too far, but she was too angry to care. Siena was a sensitive topic, an unspoken topic, but she did it anyway. “I know what I can handle.”
“Do you, though?” His tone wasn’t angry, it was cold. She had struck a nerve. He looked at her with a blank expression and Kate felt like he was looking right through her. “It’s not like you know what you’re talking about. You’re not exactly experienced, are you?”
Kate stared at him, speechless, as if her ability to speak had been slapped out of her. She felt the heat rush behind her eyes and the tears that were quickly following, but in that moment she’d rather die than cry in front of him.
She just grabbed her bag and walked off, ignoring his calls behind her.
They don’t speak for three days, which frankly, sucks. It's their first big fight in the two years they've known each other. They bickered constantly but they never actually fought. It was awful. They still had to see each other, at lectures and around the university, but she sits at the back and as far away from him as possible. He had tried to speak to her and pretend like nothing had happened the following day, but she had just walked past him.
He had really hurt her feelings. Her lack of experience was a sensitive topic, and he knew that, everyone knew that and he had still thrown it back in her face.
It’s a Wednesday night and she’s in her room, writing an essay about corporate law. She had said no to going to the pub with her friends, she wasn’t in the mood. She was trying to focus on her lectures but her mind kept revolving back to Anthony bloody Bridgerton.
“Kate, I know you’re in there. I can see the light,” Anthony’s voice was loud and clear through her door. “Please talk to me. I’m really sorry about what I said. I didn’t mean it. I was an asshole.”
She didn’t say anything, twirling her pen around with her fingers. Her breath had caught in her throat as she heard his voice, she hadn’t expected him to be there. She figured he had gone to the pub, or was out with Siena.
“I hate not talking to you. I miss you. Please? I brought you those cookies you like. And those fizzy bears,” His voice was pleading, and she knew he meant it. “I’m so sorry. Please.”
She opened the door after a few seconds, staring at him, and then at the goods in his hands. Her willpower had long expired and he sounded so sad, so desperate. He sounded like she felt. “White chocolate chip?”
“Of course,” He said, standing up straight and handing her the food. “I’m so sorry, Kate. Can I-?"
“Come in,” She murmured, walking in and collapsing on her bed. She pulled her legs up, making room for him on the bed. She opened the fizzy bears, offering them to him first.
He hesitated as he looked at her, biting his lip. “We’re okay?”
She nodded, “We’re okay. I am sorry about what I said too, you know. About the pot calling the kettle black comment. You were still a bigger asshole, but I’m sorry.”
“I deserved it. You’re not wrong and I wasn’t exactly nice, was I?” She snorted, and he laughed. “I really did mean it from a good place. I don’t want anyone to mess you around like that.”
“I know, but I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself,” She replied, licking the sugar off her lips. “You need to take that toxic masculinity down a notch, Bridgerton.”
“I know, I know what I said was wrong. It took me longer than I'd like to admit, but I understand that now,” He replied, his voice soft and she felt guilty for being mean to him. He didn’t look great, he looked tired and the skin under his eyes was darker than usual. “I am sorry. Please don’t ever ignore me again. I’d rather get my wisdom teeth out again than go through that.”
“Well, don’t be an asshole and we won’t have any problems, will we?” said Kate, smiling sweetly at him as she opened up the cookies, feeling the white chocolate melt in her mouth. It tasted glorious.
“Whatever or who you want to do, I will support it. I promise,” He looked slightly in pain as he spoke. “I really am sorry.”
“I know,” She nudged him with her foot. “We’re friends again, relax.”
He looked relieved but slightly uneasy. “Is this one of those friendship moments where we should hug?”
She snorted, rolling her eyes. Affection was not something that came natural to Anthony Bridgerton but it was adorable when he tried. “Hard pass.”
They spent the rest of the evening in her dorm, chatting about everything and anything. It had only been three days of not speaking, and she had missed him more than she should have. She had missed him a dangerous amount, and it seemed like he had missed her too.
Kate shook her head, pushing those thoughts to the back of her mind as she focused on Anthony’s story about some trouble his younger brother Colin had gotten into in Eton yesterday. Ever since his father died, Colin had been acting more and more reckless. Anthony didn’t know what to do with him and his mother just coddled Colin.
Their second year is a blur of exams, parties, clubbing, more exams, assignments as winter turns to spring and spring to summer. It’s over before it feels like it has started, and Kate can’t believe it.
Anthony’s on and off relationship ends as well, when Sienna decides to study abroad in Paris for her second year and leaves at the start of the summer. Kate doesn’t let herself think about why she feels lighter, but she still brings him McDonalds and beer when he texts them they broke up. His room is pretty much packed up, unlike Kate, Anthony is very organized. Their second year was officially over and they were leaving tomorrow. Kate hadn’t even packed, but she knew he’d help in the morning.
He doesn’t talk about his feelings, obviously, because he’s Anthony. They watch New Girl instead, on his laptop, eating crisps and drinking coke, until he shocks her and talks.
“She said I was lost,” He murmured, playing with his pocket watch. It was something he always did. “That I didn’t know what I wanted and she couldn’t keep waiting for me to figure it out. I wasn’t fair to her.”
“Oh,” said Kate, gulping slightly. Kate was just above Anthony on how to deal with feelings and general emotion, and that bar was set pretty low anyway. “I think, sometimes, some of us just take longer to figure out what we want. She must know she wants and she’s not wrong for going after it, even if it means leaving other people behind.”
“That doesn’t mean she’s right about you though,” She continued, trying to phrase her words delicately. “You’ve been through a lot, Anthony. It’s okay if you need more time to figure things out. We’re still young. No one meets the person they’re meant to be with when they’re 20 years old.”
“My parents met when they were 18,” He retorted, raising a pointed eyebrow. Anthony’s parents had been madly in love since they were teenagers and they had had Anthony quite young.
“Okay, well, they’re the exception then, not the rule,” She nudged him with her elbow lightly. “I know we’re not the feeling sort, but everything is going to be okay. It hurts because she mattered, and that’s a good thing. It’s better than not feeling anything at all. And eventually it will hurt less and less, and I’ll be here until it doesn’t.”
“Thanks, Kate,” murmured Anthony, looking uncomfortable but he still nudged her back which is probably the most affectionate exchange they’ve ever had between them. “Thank god you’re you. I couldn’t handle a friend who asks me how I’m feeling all the time.”
Kate snorted, rolling her eyes. The word rang in her head, a friend, but that’s what she was. That’s what he was to her. Her best friend, really. Then why did it sting when he said it? “I mean this is the nicest way possible, you need to see a therapist.”
He smacked her with a pillow, and she kicked him in the ribs, and that was the last they spoke of Siena and anything remotely to do with feelings.
Kate ignored the mixture of guilt and relief in her chest to see the back of Siena. She didn't question why it was there.
Kate had been away for most of the summer after their second year of university, traveling abroad with Edwina and Mary. It had been a trip Mary had saved up for for years and it was finally happening. They went interrailing around Europe, from Prague to Paris, staying in hostels and traveling by train.
It was the longest Kate and Anthony had ever been apart since they had met, and it was strange. They spoke on facetime most days, well, Kate spoke and Anthony listened as she spoke about her travels around Europe with her mum and sister. She sent him the picture of her holding the eiffel tower, a picture of her at the colosseum and sunset at a beach in Mykonos.
Not that Kate would ever admit it to another living soul, as much as Edwina had teased her relentlessly about it, she had missed him a lot. She had come to the realization that Anthony was her best friend. Her first, true best friend. He was someone she had always wanted to have in a friend, one that was depicted in movies and television shows-she had had good friends before university, but no one was like Anthony. She didn’t have to be anyone but herself around him.
She was thrilled when he had asked her to spend the last month of the summer with Anthony at his house in Kent. She loved Mary and Edwina but Somerset was boring and she needed to get away.
Kate felt strange.
She had this uncomfortable, nauseous feeling in the pit of her stomach for most of the train ride on her way to Kent. Their flight had arrived in England yesterday morning and once they had driven home, Kate was gone the next morning. She had barely slept last night but she wasn’t sure if it was out of excitement or anxiety at the thought of seeing Anthony again.
She had changed her outfit three times before setting on a violet sundress with a daisy print.
It was just Anthony, Kate.
That was the problem.
It was Anthony.
The train finally pulled in at her station, snapping Kate out of her complicated thoughts and she dragged her suitcase off the baggage railing, glancing around. It was an old station, all she could see in the distance was fields and trees. It was just before noon and all the station had was a man behind the information desk and a small corner shop.
She walked out to the front of the station, half wheeling and half dragging her semi-functioning suitcase behind her as she glanced around the car park. Kate pulled out her phone, pressing the call button on Anthony’s contact.
Kate turned around to see Anthony Bridgerton grinning at her, a pair of black sunglasses covering his eyes. He looked so relaxed, in a simple white t-shirt and blue shorts, suitable for a warm English August in Kent.
It made her feel warm inside.
“Hey there, stranger,” Kate said, her cheeks beginning to ache as her grin matched his own.
She didn’t know who moved first, but when Anthony’s tanned arms wrapped around her, essentially lifting her off the ground and her arms wrapped around his neck, there was one thing Kate knew for certain.
It was the best hug of her entire life.
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