Happy Monday, peeps!
I bet all y’all remember your very first day of school. I remember mine, and not with fondness. I well remember the first day for my daughters and son. And on occasion there was a lot of dramarama in this house, too. It seems the Ferranti family are no different…
It’s early morning in The Dower House, and the place is buzzing with excitement because today is the twins first day at ‘big school’. Bouncing with excitement, Sophia’s been ready in her uniform for over an hour. She’s primping and preening in front of her bedroom mirror, while a teary and proud Bronte plaits ash blonde hair and ties a navy blue ribbon on the end.
Meanwhile, in her twin’s bedroom, shame the same can’t be said for Luca…
“I’m not wearing a stupid shirt and stupid tie,” Luca says, he folds his arms while his bottom lip trembles. His cropped black curls are still damp from the shower.
Nico is on his knees before his son, showing him AGAIN how to tie his tie and he’s not winning. Dio, why hadn’t they practised this skill before today? What the hell was he thinking? “Everything will be fine,” he says soothingly.
Luca’s fingers tug at the crisp collar of his white cotton shirt. “I hate this stupid shirt. It’s too tight. It hurts.”
Perhaps they should have run the new shirts through the wash before wearing? Nico makes a mental note to talk to Bronte. “It is normal to feel nervous on your first day…”
Cheeks hot, dark eyes hot, Luca goes nose to nose with his papa. “I am NOT nervous. Stop saying I’m nervous. All my pals will be there. I told you I HATE the shirt and the stupid tie.”
Nico hooks Luca’s red and grey striped school tie around his own neck and stands. He beams at his son, offers his hand. “Why don’t we try the tie again after breakfast? Mama’s made your favourite breakfast, bacon and pancakes.”
Hand in hand they march down the hall and down the stairs and into the family kitchen-living space. Luca slides into his seat, accepts the small glass of fresh orange juice. When Nico slides a plate of crispy bacon and pancakes in front of him, Luca picks up his fork and makes his papa’s morning by sending him the glimmer of a smile. “Grazie, papa.”
Sophia skips into the kitchen, grabs her papa around the waist for a hug. “Ooooh, I love bacon. AND pancakes.” Happy as a clam, she takes her seat, and studies her brother across the table. “Where’s your tie?”
As Luca’s dark eyes fire in response to his sister’s query, Nico jumps in with, “Luca will wear his tie after breakfast. He does not wish to spill food on it.”
“Do you think Miss Brown will be nice to us?” Sophia asks her papa.
Nico nods. “Si. I have heard she is one of the best teachers in the whole school.”
“I’m not a baby,” Sophia says and lifts her chin. “I can write my full name and read and count.”
Nico sends her a warning look over the rim of his coffee cup. “You will obey Miss Brown to the letter.”
“She has kind eyes,” Luca pipes up. “She has brown eyes and brown hair. Is that why she’s called Miss Brown?”
“That is the name of her papa. I doubt the colour of her eyes or hair has anything to do with it,” Bronte says as she slips baby Eve into her high chair and places a plastic bowl of sliced banana on the tray. The baby picks up her sip cup and sucks voraciously on her juice while her big dark eyes study her siblings.
Bronte gazes at Luca who’s tucking into pancakes and bacon. “Where is your tie?”
It cost him, but Nico didn’t roll his eyes to heaven or pray for deliverance. Instead, he gave his wife BIG eyes. “He’ll put it on after breakfast.”
Bronte shrugs, but then Luca says, “I HATE the stupid tie and this stupid shirt.” His knife and fork clatter on the plate. He sits back in his chair, bottom lip stuck out and his arms folded. “I’m not going to stupid school.”
Cue a stunned silence.
Even the sip cup halts on its journey to the baby’s mouth as she gazes at a big brother about to have a temper tantrum of epic proportions.
“Then you will be as dumb as a turnip,” Sophia says severely, quoting auntie Rosie. She climbs down from her seat, without asking her mother permission if she can leave the table, and takes the seat next to Luca to sit shoulder to shoulder with her twin. “Gimme the tie, papa.”
Nico hands her Luca’s tie. Sophie hands Luca his tie. She lifts the collar of her shirt and unknots her tie. She waits until Luca lifts the collar of his shirt and has his tie around his neck. “Right. Watch my hands,” she says. “And do exactly as I do. Okay?”
Tongue firmly caught between his teeth, his eyes focused unblinkingly on Sophia’s hands, Luca nods.
Tonio strolls in just as a beaming Luca has managed his version of a knot. The mangled fabric makes Nico wince, but he claps and cheers along with Bronte and Sophia. Even baby Eve bangs her sip cup on the tray in support.
“What’s up?” Tonio asks.
“I tied my tie!” Luca cries.
“Yay!” Tonio says.
“Now remember what I said,” Bronte says to the twins as she straps them into their booster seats in the back of her car. “Everything that happens in The Dower House stays in The Dower House.” She sends her daughter a dark look. “I caught that eye roll, Sophia Ferranti.”
And the Ferranti twins are on the way to their first day at school.
In class their teacher lives up to her name. Her hair, eyes, and soft pants suit are all… brown.
Miss Brown claps her hands and beams at her new babies with nothing but love in her heart. “Okay, everyone. I want you to draw your best friend’s face…” Emily and Sophia beam at each other, grab a variety of markers from the pot in the middle of the long table, and begin…
Later that day…
A very anxious Nico and Bronte wait at the school gate for their twins. “How do you think it went?” she asks him.
Nico shrugs, runs a hand through his hair, over the back of his neck. “No idea. But I hope we do not have tears before bedtime with Luca over his shirt and tie. By not practising a simple skill, I have let him down.”
Bronte wraps her arm around his waist and leans in for a hug. “It didn’t even cross my mind. The state schools wear polo shirts and sweaters.”
“Si, much more sensible. I will suggest this to the headmaster.”
“Let’s wait until the end of the first week before you go charging in trying to change two hundred years of tradition. Rosie and I got the hang of the tie, eventually. I seem to remember we used to slip it over our head with the knot intact.”
“Luca is clever, he will master the tie.”
Tonio spots them and charges to their side with his fan club posse, mostly girls, hot on his heels. “Hey.”
Nico grins. “Hey, yourself. How did the first day go?”
“Good.” He turns to the flushed and pretty girls at his side. “This is Greta, Angela and Susie.”
Nico and Bronte say hello, nice to meet you. “Did you see the twins? Were they okay?” Bronte asks, the suspense killing her.
“Si,” Tonio says, sounding so much like Nico the girls gaze up at him with adoration befitting a rock-god. “They are fine.”
“What about Luca and his tie?” Nico asks.
“Nessun problema,” Tonio says and turns to one of the girls. “Tell them.”
Angela, blushing furiously as her big eyes study Nico, says, “Our little sisters are in Luca’s class. At break we asked them to make sure he was all right and to buddy him when it came to helping with his tie. Lots of the little kids struggle in the beginning. He’s totally fine. He’s sooooo cute.”
Tonio turns at a commotion behind him. And sure enough a beaming Luca surrounded by his pals and three girls strolls towards his mama and papa. One girl is clutching Luca’s back-pack and another his lunch box. The top button of his shirt is undone, but his tie is in place. Bronte heaves a deep sigh of relief.
She stares over his shoulder on the look out for her daughter and best friend.
“Where are the gruesome twosome?” she asks Luca, referring to Sophia and Emily and making the girls giggle.
“Sophia’s in time out,” Luca says, tossing his sister under the bus without a blink.
“Why?” Nico wants to know.
“When Miss Brown told her to be quiet. Sophia said her mouth didn’t wanna be quiet, and that she’s not a baby and can write her own name and read a whole book and that Miss Brown isn’t the boss of her.”
“Dio mio,” Nico whispers.
“Knew it,” Bronte whispers back to her husband. She turns to Luca. “What’s the punishment?”
“Sophia and Emily are helping Miss Brown tidy the class.”
“Why is Emily being punished?” Bronte demands. Emily, compared to Sophia, is an angel… most of the time.
“Emily said that best friends stick together through thick and thin. She’s helping.”
“Good Lord,” Bronte whispers.
Emily’s mum, Grace appears, gives Luca a hug and turns to study Bronte’s set face.
“What’s up? Where are they?”
“Time out,” Bronte says.
Grace’s blue eyes go wide. “On the first day?”
But then Nico’s huge intake of breath has them look up and here come their girls each one holding Miss Brown’s hand.
“Omigod,” Bronte and Grace chorus in a whisper.
Sophia and Emily’s faces are covered from forehead to chin in marker pen.
“My fault,” Miss Brown says in a cheery voice, her eyes dancing. “I asked the class to draw their best friend and the message sort of got all mixed up in Sophia and Emily’s fascinating little minds. It’ll wash off… eventually.”
Bronte gives Sophia a hard look. “I hear you’ve been rude and naughty…”
But before she could continue, Miss Brown turns to Luca. “Master Ferranti, everything that happens in Miss Brown’s class stays in Miss Brown’s class. Okay?”
Luca’s cheeks are beet red, but he nods.
Miss Brown gave them a wave. “I must admit I’ve had one of the best first days, evah. See you tomorrow.”
Nico drives the twins in his car, while Bronte takes Tonio and his friends in hers.
“And what did you think of your first day of school?” he asks the twins in the back seat, eyeing them in the rear view mirror.
“I think I like Miss Brown,” Sophia says, her eyelids drooping.
Luca beams. “I had the best day. I like school. I have lots of friends.”
Sophia shook her head. “The girls were helping because you are a typical Ferranti male and you look like Tonio. He even has his own fan club.”
Nico frowns. “What’s a typical Ferranti male?”
Luca just smiles and sits back to enjoy the ride home. “Papa, we are Italian!”
I can still remember my first day at school. I loathed the stiff white collars and the school tie, among other things too numerous to mention. Apparently, my mother cried for the first week. (H says probably in relief – my husband’s a laugh a minute.)
I want to thank each and every one of you who bought and read SEAN and left feedback via email, messages and on my incredibly active Facebook author page HERE (I post the sneak peek there every Wednesday as well as updates and chats). For a couple of crazy days over the weekend SEAN broke the top one hundred in three categories in the Amazon stores. He was sitting pretty right next to POLDARK twice, which was a huge thrill. And thank you so much for the amazing reviews from Australia to America to Germany to the UK. They’ve totally blown me away. I don’t have a publisher or street team or ARC team (Advanced Reader Copy of the book which is sent out before a book release) or any other help in getting the word out about my books. I have YOU guys who love the Ludlow World and the characters who inhabit it. The characters are family to me, and are like family to you, too. I cannot tell you how much the love and support for the stories mean to me.
It’s a lonely business being an author. But, let me tell you one truth about creativity and craft that is key for me personally, it’s summed up by this statement by author Colleen Coble:
‘You know the best thing about writing? You never arrive. There is always something you can improve on.’
When I sit down to write I live by those words every single day.
Aaaand, in other news (didn’t I say it’s going to get pretty busy on this blog in the run up to Christmas, and boy, do I have surprises lined up) SUKKI, (Golddigger book 3) is available on pre-order on Amazon HERE. Once she’s live on all distributors I’ll do a post with all the links. Next up RUBY, who is about to go to proofing. It’s all go-go-go in this house.