Here’s this week’s (belated) Sneak Peek.
The Dower House, and Sophia is out of hospital and reeeeeeelaxing in her pj’s and all cozy under a fleece blanket on the sofa in the family room and being spoiled rotten by her papa and her baby sister, Eve. Aww…
Sophia studied all the lipstick kisses on the plaster cast on her broken arm. It didn’t hurt now, although big bump on her head sometimes ached. She counted the kisses… mama, papa, Auntie Rosie and Uncle Alexander, which made four. The sound of a car on the gravel driveway had Jimmy Chew sit and cock his head to listen. Car doors banged and the sound of footsteps running had Sophia eye the door to the boot room. First through the door was Tonio who skidded to a halt in socked feet in front of her. He had mud on his knees and his school tie was wonky.
Tonio’s dark eyes went huge as he studied her face. “Dio, you have two black eyes.” And then he spotted the pink plaster on her arm. “Does it hurt?”
Sophia shook her head. “Nope.”
Since Jimmy Chew was begging for attention, he lifted him for a hug, and sat next to Sophia. Next through the door was Luca and Sophia’s best friend, Emily. An Emily who stopped dead and her face went pale as she stared at her in absolute horror, and then promptly burst into tears.
“What’s the matter, Emily?” Bronte asked as she walked through the door, closely followed by Emily’s mummy, Grace.
“Sophia’s hurt really bad and I don’t like it,” poor Emily sobbed.
And just like that, Luca—always a sensitive soul—burst into tears as well.
Nico bit his lip and sent his wife big eyes.
Meanwhile, Grace hugged her daughter and checked out Sophia at the same time.
“You’re a poor injured soldier, you have been in the wars haven’t you?”
Sophia wasn’t sure what that meant, but she shook her head. “I wasn’t fighting. I fell down the stairs.”
“You were in time-out,” Tonio reminded her, ever helpful.
Luca, feeling better after his papa had gently scrubbed his knuckles on his head, nodded. “Yes, because you were naughty.”
Sophia made a face. “I can be a little bit—naughty, but—good naughty.”
Nico’s dark brows rose. “Good naughty? That’s a new one.”
Emily, feeling better after a hug, wandered over to closely inspect the injured soldier.
“Your eyes are swollen and red and black. Does it hurt?”
“My head hurts a little bit, that’s why I have to have quiet and plenty of rest,” Sophia said, channelling the doctor at the hospital.
Emily squeezed herself between Sophia and Tonio and gently touched a finger to the pink plaster cast. “This just breaks my little heart,” she whispered.
“A cuddle makes your heart bigger,” Sophia told Emily perfectly seriously.
“Aw, that’s a lovely thing to say,” Grace said, and dropped a kiss on Sophia and Emily’s cheek for good measure.
“Yup. The pair of them would bring a tear to a glass eye,” Bronte said from her position behind the counter-top in the kitchen. “Who wants a hot chocolate?” The cries of me, me, me, had her jerk her chin in the direction of the hall. “After you’ve washed your hands and changed out of your school uniform, boys.”
Emily trooped after them to wash her hands, and returned to continue her examination of her best friend’s injuries. Very serious, earnest eyes lifted to Sophia. “You have kisses on your plaster.”
Sophia grinned. “That one was mama, then Auntie Rosie, and then Uncle Alexander and then papa.”
Emily turned to give Nico a wide-eyed look. “You wore lipstick?”
“Si. We were kissing her arm better.”
Emily turned to her mummy. “Do you have lipstick in your bag? Can I kiss Sophia’s arm better?”
Grace rummaged around in her bag and found her make-up bag and a red lipstick. Both mother and daughter carefully applied the cosmetic and gently placed a kiss on a thrilled Sophia’s cast.
“That makes six kisses,” Sophia said, her cheeks pink.
Tonio and Luca dashed into the room, Jimmy Chew hot on their heels.
Dressed in soft blue jeans and his clean but ratty Spiderman T-shirt, Luca stood in front of the girls. He shoved a black curl from his forehead even as his brow furrowed. “What are you doing?”
Emily made a kiss mouth with kissy noises. “Kissing her better.”
Grace watched Luca think about it, then offered him her lipstick. “Would you like to do it, too?”
“He’s a boy,” ten year old Tonio said. He wore sweatpants and a Star Wars T-shirt. He puffed out his chest. “Boys don’t wear lipstick.”
Luca turned to him. “But I want to.” He thought for a minute, then accepted the cosmetic, holding the rose gold case as if it was a grenade with the pin pulled.
“Would you like me to apply it?” Grace offered, her blue eyes dancing.
Luca nodded, and stood solemn and still while the cosmetic was carefully applied to his mouth. Then he placed a gentle kiss on the cast and stood back to admire his handiwork. Rubbing his lips together, he licked to taste it.
“Hmm. It tastes sort of… nice.”
When Eve toddled over and presented her face for lipstick, too, Grace simply could not resist. She carefully applied it and then lifted the child up to kiss her sister, too.
Tonio scowled. “I am not doing it.”
Little Eve turned to Luca and wrapped her arms around his legs. “Batman,” she said.
Luca laughed and pointed to his T-shirt. “No. This is Spiderman.”
“Batman!” she said.
“If you do it that will make nine kisses,” Sophia told Tonio. She batted her lashes. “I bet my arm will heal much faster with kisses.”
Tonio rolled his eyes, heaved a deep sigh. “Okaaaaaay.”
Biting down hard on her bottom lip, Grace kept her face straight as she applied the cosmetic, and when Tonio did his duty, everyone cheered.
The boy’s face went bright red.
“BATMAN!” cried Eve and hugged Tonio’s legs.
Tonio picked her up smacked a lipstick kiss on her chubby cheek. “No. My T-shirt has Star Wars on it.”
“BATMAN!” roared Eve.
Nico, pouring coffee for the adults, caught Bronte’s eye and grinned.
“It’s her favourite word,” she said. “Everything and everyone is Batman.”
By the time everyone had drunk their hot chocolate and coffee, Nico was in his study and Bronte Grace were chatting about their day.
The kids were settled on the sofa with Sophia watching the Disney movie, Frozen… again.
Emily turned big blue eyes on Tonio and gazed up at him with adoration. “Tonio?”
“Can I ask you something?” she said in her soft, breathy voice.
Sleepy eyes the colour of dark chocolate met hers. “Sure.”
“Will you promise to keep all your kisses for me?” she whispered, her cheeks hot.
The slow smile reached his eyes and they twinkled into hers. “I do not think I can do that.”
Her little face fell. “Okay. I suppose you want to kiss lots of girls.”
“How will I know which girl is the right one if I do not kiss her?” he asked her with an unshakable logic. “You will kiss lots of boys, too.”
Emily shook her head so hard her fiery curls danced on her shoulders. “No. I’ll save ALL my kisses for you.”
Tonio shrugged. “When you are older you will change your mind.”
Emily turned back to the movie. “Never.”
Meanwhile, Bronte and Grace had overheard the entire exchange.
“Wow. My daughter’s got it bad,” Grace said.
Bronte made a face and topped up their coffee from the pot.
“What do you expect? He’s Italian!”
Aww, poor Emily and poor Sophia.
Until next time,
Christine you make my day with these Ludlow hall excerpts. They always make me laugh. Thank you so much.
Kids kill me, they really do. I have three and remember the conversations during the school run – some of which I use in my books! Ah, those were the days!
Always guaranteed to make me smile. Thank you so much Christine. Hope you and all the family have a super Christmas.. xx
Thank you, Jessie. One more Sneak Peek to come before the fat man in a red suit slides down the chimney. ❤
Loved it! Poor Emily.
One of these days, Emily will get her own back.
Aww, I love catching up with the family. I think at some point in the future Tonio will be the one chasing a beautiful young lady with fiery curls. That would be fun to read. Keep them coming Christine. Looking forward to reading No Rules, is it coming before Christmas ?
Take care, 💖