READ HOW BRONTE & NICO MET AND THEIR ROCKY ROAD TO HAPPINESS, FREE, HERE!
Bronte, Sophia, and Auntie Rosie descend on The Dower House weighed down bags from their shopping trip to find Nico and Alexander snoozing on the couch.
*Bronte dumps her bags on the kitchen table, and grins. Their men are sprawled on their back on the couch. A strong arm holds their daughters close. Rosie gives Bronte big eyes and mouths an, Aww! She tip-toes over to gently lift her daughter, and immediately Alexander’s eyes snap open. His smile is wide, and wicked*
“Hey,” he whispers. “Have a good time?”
“Yep,” Rosie whispers. “Put a nice big dent in the credit card. Don’t kill me.”
“Nah. Whatever you need, babe.”
Rosie bends down to plant a soft kiss on his mouth, shifts to nuzzle her daughter’s sooty curls. “She been good?”
“Not a peep,” he says, and presses gentle lips to Mila’s dark head.
*Nico watches Bronte through sleepy eyes, sends her a panty-melting smile*
“Have fun, cara mia?” he whispers.
“We did,” she whispers back, glances around the spotless kitchen room, nods approvingly. “Where are the boys?”
Nico blinks. “Um. Upstairs.”
*Sophia, dressed in navy below the knee cropped cotton leggings and a navy and white striped sleeveless smock dress, eyes her papa. In her white blonde hair a huge navy bow clings on for dear life*
Nico reaches out his hand to his eldest daughter who skips over to wind her arm around his neck and press a kiss his cheek. “Hi, papa,” Sophia says in a soft voice.
Dark grey eyes study her face. “Were you a good girl for mama and Rosie?”
She nods, leans into his shoulder, while her fingertip gently strokes baby Eve’s flushed cheek. “Uh huh. I had a milkshake and chicken kebabs and strawberry ice-cream,” she says in a stage whisper. “Aaaaaand new shoes.”
“Like mother like daughter,” Bronte says in a soft voice. “Want me to take the baby?”
Nico shakes his head. “Nah, she’s fine where she is.”
“Right then, I’d better go see what the boys are up to, they’re awfully quiet. Usually, they’re all over me to see what goodies I have for them.”
Nico shoots up, careful not to wake the baby, and thrusts her into Bronte’s arms. “I’ll go,” he says, hoping to God the boys have sorted the big mess in the bathroom.
“Actually,” Bronte murmurs, her brow creasing as she thoughtfully studies his face, the wide smile, the big eyes. “I need you to bring in the rest of the shopping.”
Nico blinks. “Nessen problema.” He jogs out the door.
Bronte turns narrow eyes on her brother who is grinning like a fool. “Okay. Spill. What happened?”
Alexander hands Mila to her mama for a cuddle. “I’m saying nothing that might incriminate me,” he says.
Bronte turns to Sophia. “Go upstairs and tell your brothers to come down, now.”
*Happy to do her mama’s bidding, and wondering herself what’s been going on, Sophia skips out the room and runs up the stairs. She checks Tonio’s bedroom, then Luca’s, and comes up empty. Nada. Then cocks her head when she hears muttering from the family bathroom. She enters and stops dead. Her emerald eyes go wide and her mouth goes into a huge O shape*
“Omigod,” she says, and waves her hands in air filled with baby powder. Her twin is busy with a brush and pan to collect baby powder, and only making a bad situation worse. Powder was floating everywhere. Sodding wet bath towels litter the soaking floor.
“You’re not allowed to say God. That’s bad language,” a flushed Luca says, frowning ferociously at her. His normally glossy black curls are a hazy dark grey.
“But… but… this is a big mess. Mama’s gonna go nuts.”
“Not if you don’t tell her,” Tonio says in a tone that means business.
Sophia’s chin jerks both at the tone and the look on his face. “What happened?”
“Eve pooped. It was totally gross. We had to bath her,” Luca says, and elbows Tonio in the ribs.
Sophia’s smooth brow creases. “But… but…”
“Two plastic bags full of dirty diaper and wet wipes,” Tonio says, rubbing his rib.
“Eew,” Sophia says.
“Yep,” Luca says. “I had to stand outside the door in case I was sick. And papa had to stuff wet wipes sprayed with after shave up his nose.”
Tonio chokes with laughter and baby powder. He shakes a dry towel and more powder flies into the air. “Funniest thing, evah.”
*Sophia grins, but then takes a deep breath, eyes her brothers’ pitiful attempts to clean up. They were making it worse. The bath was filled with plastic toys, and an empty baby shampoo bottle*
“Sounds gross. Okay. We don’t want mama upset. Who’s gonna clean up this big mess?”
Tonio scratches his scalp, sends her a wide smile. “Maybe we can all muck in? If I use damp towels to mop up the powder from the counter top, maybe you and Luca can use dry towels from the cupboard to dry and polish the granite?”
*The kids set to work.*
“What did you buy me?” Tonio asks Sophia.
She sends him an angelic smile. “A surprise.”
Luca dances on the spot. “Do I have a surprise, too?”
“Of course,” Sophia says, rolls her eyes to heaven as if he’s the world’s stupidest brother. Then her gaze drops to the mess on the floor. “I don’t know how we’re gonna hide all these wet towels.”
“How hard can it be to use the washing machine?” Tonio asks as he shoves bath toys into a net bag to drip dry.
Sophia gives him big eyes. “We are not allowed to touch electrical equipment, she reminded him. “We’ll get into BIG trouble.”
“I can’t read too good yet,” a worried Luca says, white teeth chewing on his bottom lip.
“I can read,” Tonio says to a wary looking Sophia. “Grab the plastic laundry basket and we’ll take the towels to the laundry room. No one will know.”
“I dunno,” Sophia says, for once in her life listening to the little voice in her head saying this is not a good idea.
Tonio pats her on the head, something he knows full well bugs her. “Nessum problema,” he says, sounding just like papa. “How hard can it be?”
*Sophia jogs to the hall cupboard to grab clean towels, folds them just the way her mama likes. She stands back and studies the bathroom. A fine film of baby powder is again settling on the counter top. Can’t be helped. With a huff of breath she follows her brothers down the back stairs to the laundry room. Tonio opens the tall cupboard to study a variety of soap powders and liquids, all standing to attention like soldiers. He lifts the plastic bottle of liquid on the nearest shelf. The bottle that says, ‘One Squirt Is All You Need’. He piles the towels into the washer, closes the washer door and then opens the detergent drawer*
“According to the instructions this is where the soap goes,” he mutters, and frowns as he studies the manual.
*The manual also says to use the measuring cap. He hunts around and finds a spare plastic ball, measures out the liquid – adding a little extra just in case – pours it into the dispenser and closes the drawer. He turned the dial to Cotton/Whites. Easy. Then he presses ON. And just like magic water roars into the dispenser. All three Ferranti’s crouch down to watch water fill through the glass door. Tonio’s smiles, wide and relieved*
“What did I say? Nessum problema. When it’s finished, we put them in the dryer. Job done.”
Sophia gives him a huge smile. “Wow. I can’t wait to learn to read good.”
“I don’t like reading,” Luca mutters as he follows his brother and sister out the utility room door and down the hall. They head in the direction of voices.
*Meanwhile, back in the family room*
“You changed her diaper? Seriously?” Bronte laughs as she pats Nico’s jaw. “Aww, my brave soldier. How did you manage? How bad was it?”
Nico winces at the memory. “Never seen anything like it, and I don’t want to see anything like it again. Tonio called it a runny tummy.”
Rosie can’t help but laugh as she strokes the black silky hair of her baby rooted to her breast, and greedily chugging down milk. “Well, what goes in has gotta come out.”
“He stuck wet wipes sprayed with after shave up his nose,” Tonio says as he strolls into the room with his siblings hot on his heels. He plonks himself on the couch, grins at Bronte. “The best thing I’ve seen, evah.”
Bronte’s smile is wide as she turns to a Nico whose ears are pink tipped. “Aww,” she says again. “I’ll put sleeping beauty down for her nap and then you guys can tell me all about it.” She strolls out the door.
Nico eyes the boys. “Did you clean up?”
They both nod, give him big eyes. “Si,” they say.
“Clean what up?” Rosie asks, placing Mila on her shoulder and rubbing her baby’s back. She’s immediately rewarded with a deep burp.
“They bathed Eve,” Sophia says. “Made a big mess in the bathroom. But we tidied it all up.”
Nico rubs his hands, his smile wide as he says to Alexander, “Wanna Peroni?”
*Everything is all right and tight in Nico Ferranti’s world. His wife is happy. His children are happy. His brother-in-law is his best friend. His eyes linger for a moment on a Rosie feeding her baby and chatting to the boys, and he recalls he needs to find time to have a little chat with Rosie about Ms. Big Ears, aka Sophia. But that could wait. Life is good*
*Bronte’s high-pitched scream from the direction of the laundry room has everyone leap to their feet and race out the door*
Nico’s eyes bug out his head to find his wife shooting daggers at him as she stands ankle deep in white foam. “Madre de Dio,” he mutters.
Bronte shoots him a finger, her whole body trembling. “You’ll need more than God to help you, Nico Ferranti. How the hell could you use dish liquid in my washing machine? Are you crazy?”
Nico blinks until the light bulb flashes in his brain. Taking his time, he turns very slowly to stare at the three children lined up behind him, their eyes too big for their faces. “Porca miseria! (dammit) What happened?”
Tonio made a face, shrugged skinny shoulders. “Mi dispiace, papa.”
“Sorry?” Bronte yells, shifts, loses her balance and slides to land hard on her ass as even more foam floods through the utility room door and into the hallway. She slaps Nico’s helping hand away, wipes hair from her eyes and ends up with a lump of foam on top of her head. She tosses foam into his face. “I’ll give you sorry.”
*Tonio, trying hard not to laugh, steps into the mess to help her up and she lifts a handful of foam and tosses it over his head. And of course the twins got in on the act, too*
Rosie and Alexander and baby Mila are standing out of harms way, watching the Ferranti’s turn from humans into foamy blobs. “I just adore those crazy kids. Get your phone and take pics. Honestly, Bronte cannot leave this lot alone for five minutes.”
Alexander drops a kiss on the top of his baby’s head. “They are certifiably nuts.”
“Do you think we’ll be like them one day?”
Alexander snaps pics and then takes a video on his phone. “Nah, we’re normal. We’re not Italian.”
And so endeth another day in the life of the Ferranti fam-lee.
Am working hard on three projects.
Love and hugs,