These Things About Us
Antonia is leaving the last shards of her life in Tucson behind to find her mother and start over. Turns out that's easier said than done. London is a pretty big city, a hundred bucks don't get you far and you can't just make your past disappear.
When sweet and caring uni student Wesley gets her a job and a room in his father's pub, Tony is unprepared for his older brother Trace who despises her at first sight. She's unprepared for someone whose secrets might be darker than her own.
Following a path of breadcrumbs and tangling up in Trace's past, Tony slips back into a world she thought she'd escaped the day her father went to prison.
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“We’re not getting bagels. Tony wants coffee.” I did. No need to pronounce my name like I was the one at
fault for choosing the directions.
“We can get bagels, if you want bagels. I bet I can get a cup of coffee to go anywhere.” I shrugged.
Trace’s confusion didn’t wear off. He just stared at me again like I was a zoo animal. This time the gagging
sound didn’t come until he reached my skirt. We were definitely not getting bagels, especially not if he
needed them to survive.
I grabbed Wes’s elbow and turned him back to the way he originally wanted to go. He snatched my hand
up and wrapped it around his arm. Being linked to him made it a little harder to not fall down, because
he was walking fast and his long legs allowed him to make giant strides that I had to match with twice the
amount of steps. I was basically jogging next to him.
Trace, unfortunately, didn’t have a problem to keep up. I heard him right behind us the entire walk to
some place called Coffee Donna. It was a cozy little coffee shop in a run down building. There were only
three pink tables with plush green chairs, all of them empty.
The barista took our orders, we paid and then she asked us to get comfortable. Of course Wesley obeyed
and I couldn’t dodge a bullet called Trace by taking my breakfast back to my room. I took the seat
opposite from Wes, and Trace twirled a chair around and sat with his arms up on the backrest.
“Why leech off us?” he demanded. “Didn’t anyone else take you in, poor little girl?”
“Seriously, Trace, that’s why you came? To interrogate?”
“Shut up. I asked her a question.”
Against my better judgment, I didn’t just tell him that I didn’t answer to rudeness, instead I knotted my
arms over my chest and squinted at him. “I’m not leeching, I work for your Dad. And I didn’t specifically
choose your Dad’s bar. I just looked for a place with a phone and a phone book, so I could call my mother
whose number I don’t know by heart. As it happens, your father needed a waitress that you would not
jump into bed with, and since I disgust you so very much, I’m the perfect choice. You brought this on
The waitress called out our order, so before I could work myself up any more, I shoved back my chair and
hurried over to curl my hands around my coffee. Smelling the steam made it easy to hide my practiced
breathing from Wesley. He shot me a light smile and relaxation came easier than normally. Not that I
usually had a pierced idiot poking around in my life. Even without Trace’s comments, I knew I’d have to
thank Alex big time once I figured out… everything.
“He’s an ass,” Wes whispered and grabbed my plate, too, carrying it back to our table and abandoning
Trace’s tea and Panini. I had to remember that I was the nice girl here. It really was Trace who behaved like an ass, not me. So I balanced Trace’s order with my coffee and wobbled over. At least I made sure to clonk his stuff down hard, almost making the tea spill.
He grumbled something that didn’t sound like thanks.
“You’re welcome,” I said anyway.
“You’re not,” he said.
My therapist had said to avoid toxic situations and toxic people to have the best possible fresh start. I
wondered if she meant people like Trace, too, or only people like my father. Criminals. Then again,
violence was a crime, so Trace was toxic. I’d have to find a way to move around him, and I’d have to keep
that in mind before I’d run over to his room to confront him again.
Nobody said a word for a couple of minutes. At least the chewing and sipping excused the lack of
conversation, until Wesley’s phone rang and he jumped out of his chair.
“Okay, you two have to promise not to rip each other apart. I’ve got to run. A friend needs to see me
before class.” Wes carried his plate off, grabbed his paper cup and stepped around the table to press a
quick kiss to the top of my head. “See you later.”
“Uh… yeah. Bye.” Apparently we were still playing this game. My fake One Night Stand turned into a fake
relationship and I hadn’t even been noticed.
The second Wes was out the door, Trace jumped up without a word and stormed out, too, leaving me
alone with the barista and his half-eaten Panini. I cut off the part with his bite marks and claimed the rest
for myself. I didn’t mind him leaving, and even less so him leaving me half his food. This girl was having a
royal breakfast. I even popped the lid off his cup and tasted the tea, but spit it right back into the cup.
“God, that’s horrible,” I mumbled.
A guy with that many tattoos didn’t strike me as one to drink his tea this sweet. I hadn’t even noticed him
pouring a bucket of sugar into it. I’d definitely stick with my coffee.
About the author, Laura Beege:
Laura likes to call herself an international girl. She grew up in an Asian/European family in
Germany, spent some time as an exchange student in France, moved to England after graduationand eventually landed back in Germany, where she’s currently working on her degree in Theater &
Film. No matter where she will be next year (Manhattan?) or the years after that (Italy?), she
intends to keep on writing.
She loves hearing from readers!
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