Hello lovely readers!
This week I have two sneak peeks instead of one…
NO HANKY PANKY ON A THURSDAY!
It’s an early(ish) Friday morning at The Dower House….
Bronte lay in bed, snug as a bug in a rug. Was there anyone in the whole wide world who didn’t just love that special time between asleep and awake? She stretched out a bare foot to find a hot body. Seemed Nico was still in bed, which meant it was too early to get up. Her foot stroked his foot. And just like that he rolled over to wrap his big body around hers to spoon her. She wiggled her butt, and just like that he went rock hard. Oh my, she couldn’t help but grin because that was all it took, and after nearly eight years of marriage, how wonderful was that?
“You just purred like a contented kitten,” Nico growled in her ear.
His hands slid up and over her waist to cup and play with her breasts.
Her naked breasts.
She blinked, and opened her eyes.
Through the closed curtains, she saw a chink of daylight.
She blinked again, and her eyes went wide.
In a single leap, she was out of bed and raced to fling open the curtains to find frost on the grass and a frail sun filtering through low cloud.
She spun to face her husband. “What time is it?” she demanded.
Nico reached out to grab his cell from the bedside cabinet.
He groaned. “Dio, it is eight-thirty.”
Bronte screeched so loud he winced.
“Eight-thirty? It can’t be eight-thirty.” She made a move for the door and stopped dead. “Omigod. I’m naked. How the hell am I naked?” Then her eyes grew like saucers. She spun to the love of her life and beaned him with a dark look. “Did you make love to me last night?”
Settling himself comfortably against fat pillows, and enjoying the sight of his wife—naked—scrambling on the floor to find her thermal boy-short panties in black cotton and matching long sleeved top, Nico scratched his jaw. “Si. You had a bad dream. I gave you a hug.” He shrugged. “You know how it is with us.”
Her head popped through the top, and furious emerald eyes held his. “I know how it is with you!” She ran her hands through her blonde hair and tied it in a messy top knot with the hair-tie on her wrist, then she tugged on yoga pants, then rushed to her closet and thrust her bare feet into ankle Uggs. “Omigod, this is a disaster. I slept in because we had sex. On a Thursday. We never have sex on a Thursday. What the hell were you thinking?”
Nico thought about that statement, scratched his flat belly and realized she was quite right about no sex on a Thursday. His brows met. How on earth had it come to this?
“Now I’m late and the kids are late for school. Omigod, the kids are NEVER late for school. We’ll probably receive a warning letter from the headmaster. My whole day is ruined. I have a routine. You know I have a routine.” She headed for the door and turned to him. “WHY the hell did you touch me?”
“You had a bad dream, don’t you remember?”
Her hand on the door knob, she thought about it. “I had a weird dream. Really weird.”
“You can tell me all about it later,” he said, and slid the screen on his cell phone to call his office. His wife was not the only person who was late. On the other hand, he wasn’t panicking over nothing.
He called his PA, Julie, and then had a word with Alexander Ludlow. An Alexander who laughed out loud at the fact that his best friend and business partner had, for the first time in his life, slept in. Alexander also imparted a vital piece of information that made Nico grin like a fool.
“Omigod! Nico—I can’t find the kids!!!!”
The sound of his wife racing down the stairs had him ease himself out of bed to grab his Calvins, tossed on the floor before he’d got down to business with Bronte in the middle of the night. He wandered into the en-suite bathroom to do his business, brushed his teeth and then dressed in sweat pants and one of the ratty T-shirts he loved.
When he strolled into the kitchen/family/living space, he found Bronte slumped over a kitchen table that looked as if a starving hoard had laid waste to the larder. She was reading a note, and appeared utterly bewildered. “Can you believe this? Tonio realized we’d slept in. The kids got dressed, got their own breakfast, and then called Rosie and Alexander. My brother took them to school and Rosie has Eve for the day and has organized the pastry chefs at Sweet Sensations to take over my work for the day.”
Since Nico knew all this already, he said nothing and began loading the dishwasher with dirty dishes, cutlery, and empty glasses. With an efficiency that impressed his stunned wife, he switched on the kettle and then cleared the empty cereal packets, orange juice and milk cartons from the table. By the time he’d wiped the table clean and placed a cup of coffee in front of her, she still looked a little shell-shocked.
“Did you check Tonio’s maths homework?” she demanded.
Kicking back in his chair and enjoying his first coffee of the day, he thought about it for a minute, then shook his head.
She groaned. “Neither did I. And who made sure Luca wore clean socks, and helped him tie his shoelaces? Tell me that!”
Nico, dark eyes twinkling, eyed his wife’s pissy face. “He probably did them himself, his technique is improving.”
She groaned again. “God, knowing him, he’s probably wearing yesterday’s underpants.”
“It will not do him any harm, cara,” he said, the melody of Italy a deep rumble in his chest.
Her emerald eyes fired. “Do not turn the Italian charm on me, Nico Ferranti. How the hell can this have happened?”
Again he shrugged. “We have busy lives. We were obviously tired after a disturbed night. Alexander has everything in hand at Ludlow Hall, therefore my attendance is not needed. You and I, cara mia, are going to play hookey today.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Are we indeed? And who disturbed my sleep, that’s what I want to know.”
“You woke me, remember? What was your dream?”
She settled back in her chair, and eyed him over her coffee cup. “It was weird. Really weird.”
When she flushed scarlett, he grew intrigued, because that was a guilty face if ever he saw one. “Hmm. A dirty dream?”
“Actually, I dreamed of a lover… and he, well…”
He had to laugh. “Ah, what did I do to you?”
She cleared her throat. “Actually, it wasn’t you.”
Nico inhaled his coffee.
By the time he’d caught his breath and wiped streaming eyes, the love of his life was watching him with an extremely wicked glint in her eye.
“Very funny,” he said.
Her brows rose. “Wow, arrogant much? It wasn’t you.”
He sat up straight.
Appalled, he growled, “Who is he?”
She blinked at the spark in his eyes and clear aggression in his tone. “Who the hell do I know? It was a dream.”
“A person does not dream of someone she has not met.”
She bit her lip as, clearly fascinated with his reaction, she studied his face. “You’re being totally ridiculous. You know that, don’t you?”
“All I know is that my wife had dream sex with another man. You have cheated on me.”
For a split second her jaw dropped, and then she roared with laughter so hard, she had to hug herself. “Oh, God. I cannot wait to tell Rosie…”
He made a face, and refilled his cup from the pot. “I have never dreamed of any woman except you since we met,” he said in a brusque tone.
Her jaw dropped. “Phooey, you big liar!”
His chin lifted. “This is true. I dream of only one woman, and that is you. It has been this way since I met you.”
She rested her elbows on the table, her chin on the palms of her hands, and studied him with great interest. “Really?”
“Aww, how lovely.”
“Si. I am both loyal and faithful, even in my dreams.”
She bit down hard on her bottom lip, but her eyes danced with mirth. “I’m sorry I cheated on you with dream sex with a perfect stranger.”
“What did he look like?”
She shook her head. “I have no idea. I was in the throes of passion…”
“Ah, that was why you were whimpering in your sleep.”
He shot her a dark look. “You were, loudly, as I recall.”
“All I remember was his…”
Nico’s brows flew into his hairline. “His?—”
Again she bit down hard on her bottom lip. “Love muscle,” she whispered, and couldn’t quite stifle a giggle.
For an endless moment, he considered her lovely face. A face all flushed with embarrassment and a laughter that melted his heart. Then a thought occurred to him.
“If you cannot remember what he looked like, but how he FELT inside you made you whimper, it is clear to me you were dreaming of me. Who else makes you whimper, tell me that?”
Studying the ceiling as she thought about it, his wife eventually gave a nod. “You could be right.”
He smiled, most relieved to have jumped that hurdle. “And who,” he asked in a good-humoured tone, “made you call my name three times in the middle of the night? That would be me, cara mia.”
He shrugged. “Si. I heard you cry, Nico, Nico, Nico, at the pivotal moment. I counted.”
She placed her empty coffee cup on the glass topped table with a distinct click. “THREE TIMES?”
Now what had upset her about that?
He was a gentleman.
A gentleman always made sure the lady comes first.
“I take my husbandly duties seriously,” he drawled, absolutely thrilled at the way her eyes were shot with molten heat and her smooth cheeks flushed.
“No wonder I was exhausted this morning! You’re insatiable!”
“When it comes to you, cara mia, I can never get enough.”
“Okay. So what are we going to do today?”
His response was to get to his feet, move around the table, scoop her up in his arms and head for the stairs.
She folded her arms and stared straight ahead as he marched up the stairs and into their bedroom. He kicked the door shut.
When he tossed her on their bed, she scrambled to her knees. “We are not spending the whole day in bed,” she informed him in a tone that meant business.
But, as Nico stripped to his skin, he caught the way her eyes went all hazy with that mix of lust and love he adored so much.
“We will have a duvet day.”
Then he set to work to get her naked with an efficiency that made her laugh a little breathless.
“We can’t Nico. Nico—really, Nico!!”
Her cheeks hot, her bones liquid, Bronte lay naked on her back in her bed and stared at the ceiling. Somehow they’d lost the duvet, the pillows and the sheets. “Wow,” she whispered with what sounded like awe and wonder.
Sprawled on his belly, Nico’s heart was racing so fast, he wondered if he was going to have a heart attack. “That was… something else.”
“We’ll never be able to better that,” she said.
He turned his head, and had to laugh at her shocked face.
Hell, he was a little shocked himself.
“Cara mia,” he drawled in a voice as smooth as silk. “How quickly you forget. Me, I am Italian!”
Ahh, a sexy sneak peek. Whatever will Sophia say….. Stay tuned for part two….
SOPHIA’S NOT WEARING A HAPPY FACE…
Nico Ferranti scratched the scruff on a chin that hadn’t seen a razor today. No time. Hehehe. He was dressed in his favorite jeans, worn white at the seams, a black long-sleeved thermal beneath a duck down vest, his feet nice and toasty in thick socks inside black boots, the leather nicely broken in. He’s driving his big shiny black Range Rover. Since it was all his fault the love of his life had slept-in this morning—for the first time in her life, hehehe—as punishment, he’s on daddy duty and doing the school run. He’s picked up Tonio, Luca, Sophia and her friend Emily. It’s Friday and Emily’s having a sleep-over.
Even though frost had turned the fields into a winter wonderland and dusk was fast approaching, all is sunshine and roses in Nico Ferranti’s world. He’s living in a happy bubble of an afterglow of hot, make that HOT, luv’in. He heaved a happy sigh, and hummed a happy tune. So what if he and Bronte had overslept? What was the big panic? They hadn’t broken any laws, had they? After all, didn’t they deserve a duvet day once, maybe twice—if he was lucky, a year? It wasn’t as if the world as they knew it had ended. Their children had shown a resilience that gladdened his heart in the way they had got themselves dressed, made their own breakfast and telephoned auntie Rosie to collect baby Eve, and asked Alexander to drive them to school. An Alexander who had thoroughly enjoyed the experience, if his unholy glee over the telephone was anything to go by. Hell, Nico would do the same himself for his best pal.
Nico smiled again at the memory of the way Bronte cuddled their baby girl close before he’d left The Dower House for the school run. Then the smiled slipped a little at another memory, of the way Rosie had grinned cheekily at him, her brown eyes dancing with an impudence and suppressed laughter that had made his own cheeks burn. Little devil. There was no point in asking Alexander to control his wife, because the man adored the ground the woman walked on. Nico lifted a shoulder. He could hardly blame the man when he himself adored the ground his own wife walked on. Ah, yes. He and Alexander Ludlow were lucky, lucky men.
Still humming, it occurred to him that the children were quiet. Too quiet. He glanced over to Tonio to find the boy watching him like a hawk, his dark brows raised in a silent question.
“What?” asked Nico.
Tonio might be nine (nearly ten) years old, but he had what Bronte called, the Ferranti stare. Unblinking. Hard. Unforgiving.
“What!?” asked Nico, this time returning the stare in full measure, and keeping one eye on the road.
“You are a disgrace,” said Tonio, as if he was the parent talking to an errant child.
But, before he could open his mouth…
“Yup. You and mama were up to a bit of monkey-business,” said Sophia. And Nico bet he knew where his six year old daughter had got that phrase from—auntie bloody Rosie.
“My mummy and daddy,” said Emily in her high, breathy voice, “Call it hanky-panky. They think I don’t know what it means, but I do know…”
“Hanky-panky?” Luca’s dark head swung around as he stared with wide-eyed wonder at an Emily who was sitting between the twins in the middle of the back seat, like a good little angel, as if butter wouldn’t melt in her sweet little mouth. “What does that mean?”
Sophia sniffed. “It meeeeeans,” she said in a tone which made it clear she thought her twin was as thick as a plank. “—that mama and papa were having lots of rumpy-pumpy.”
A bewildered Luca stared unblinking at his sister, then he scowled. “Never heard of it.”
Nico’s pulse beat too fast in his throat.
And Tonio’s choked laugh did not help one iota.
He swore he would NEVER, ever, pick the children again.
“Stoooopid, boy,” said Sophia.
Luca’s dark eyes fired. “I am NOT stupid. You are not allowed to call anyone stupid. It is very rude. YOU are very rude. In fact, YOU are horrible. I hate you.”
With a very bad feeling in his belly, Nico watched the scene unfold in the rear view mirror, and saw his daughter roll her eyes to heaven. “It means, thicko,” said Sophia—using a word that made her papa’s hand itch to spank her bottom. “That they were fooling around.”
Luca blinked, then his eyes went wide. “You mean they were playing?”
“My daddy calls it a bit of slap and tickle. I know what that means as well,” said Emily, as if her parents were just too stupid to live.
Again, Luca stared in awe and wonder at Emily. “Your daddy hit your mummy?”
Emily’s riot of red curls danced as she shook her head. “Nooooooo. He also calls it, nudge nudge wink wink. I know what that means, too.”
Luca made a face. “I think your family are a bunch of weirdos.”
“For heaven’s sake, Dumbo!” yelled Sophia, clearly at the end of her tether. “They’re talking about SEX!”
Luca’s jaw dropped. “You’re not allowed to say that word, Sophia Ferranti. I’m telling mama.”
Meanwhile, Tonio was laughing so hard in the front seat, he had to stuff the hem of his woollen sweater in his mouth.
“Sophia, (sounded like Sopheeeeeeeaaaa)” said Nico in a soft and silky voice. A voice his daughter knew well.
In the back seat, her cheeks all flushed with temper, his not-sorry daughter caught his eye in the mirror and beaned him with a black look. “Okay, then. You and mama were having high jinks. Is that better?”
“Oh, my goodness,” gasped Tonio, tears running down his hot cheeks. “You English—the language, it is insane.”
Determinedly ignoring the mounting verbal abuse being flung between the twins in the back seat, Nico heaved a heavy sigh and caught Tonio’s eye.
He couldn’t help but respond to the glee dancing there.
He swung the car through the gates of The Dower House, and thanked God he was home.
“Si. I thank God I am Italian.”
Why two this week you ask? I was sick and had guests the week before, which threw out my routine, and although I posted the peeks on my author Facebook page – I totally forgot to post it here. I know… terrible.
Going forward, since Fridays are super-busy around here, the Sneak Peeks will be posted during the weekends.
p.s. I have NO RULES pre-order coming soon. Between my illness and my editorial team affected by hurricanes everything went all to hell. Stay tuned!