Time for another slice of Ludlow life with The Ferranti family…

cookielove

 

Happy Monday!

It’s time for another slice of Ludlow life with our favourite family……

The Dower House…

Dressed in skinny blue jeans, a cropped T-shirt that’s seen better days, Bronte pads into the family-kitchen living space on bare feet. She’s given Eve her last breast feed of the day. It won’t be long before her daughter is fully weaned, and the thought has a little pang of loss hit her heart. She’ll miss the intimacy and the connection. Her baby won’t be a baby for much longer. The kids are settled down for the night—at last. Sophia is out like a light after her horrible day. Looks as if her right eye is swelling and will be closed by the morning. Her brothers insist on having their bedroom doors open so they can hear her if she calls in the night or has a bad dream. Glancing at her husband, she reckons someone else needs a bit of love and attention. Sprawled on the couch wearing his favorite jeans white at the seams and a black long sleeved thermal, a stony faced Nico stares unseeing into the flames of a stainless-steel log burner. His long legs stretching out before him, his bare feet are long and narrow and sexy. Bronte’s mouth lifts. He’s a big sexy Italian beast and she loves him more each day. In the sexy beast’s hands, he’s nursing a wine goblet. His mouth is a thin, hard line. Bronte takes the seat next to him and curls up her legs and cosies into him. She reaches out for his glass, and takes a sip of the ruby liquid.

“You’re thinking bad thoughts,” she says and offers him the glass.

In response, he places the wine on the vast glass coffee table before taking her in his arms. Bronte closes her eyes to simply breathe in the heady scent of her man. A woodsy cologne, his shampoo, and an alpha male testosterone that feels like home. As much as she loves The Dower House and the life they have here in the old market town of Old Ludlow, in her heart she knows that wherever Nico goes is home to her and their growing family.

“I have had a call from Annabel’s papa,” Nico says, indicating his cell lying on the coffee table. Annabel’s father is a wealthy and influential businessman. Although he has a good reputation, Nico and Alexander tend to give him a wide berth.

“By the look on your face I take it it’s not good news.”

Nico heaves a deep sigh. “It’s not good news for his grandsons. Seems the social services have paid Annabel a visit. Both boys are to be placed on the ‘at risk’ list. Annabel’s papa seems to think we had something to do with it. I put his mind at rest. I’m thinking this might not be a bad thing for those children.”

“Jonathan has them every weekend,” Bronte says, and repeats the local gossip. “They run wild through the town, stealing candy and general mischief making. The man doesn’t have a clue about parenting or taking care of young children.”

“From what Alexander and I saw earlier this evening, he’s not taking care of himself either. I’d say it is either booze or an out of control recreational drug habit. Whatever, it is not bringing out the best in him. I said as much to his ex father-in-law. He is planning to stage some sort of intervention with Jonathan and his sons. His daughter is at her wit’s end.”

“She was a friend—once,” Bronte says. Her mind slips into the past, remembering the hurt and especially the public humiliation she suffered when Annabel and Jonathan had a torrid affair behind her back during the time she was grieving over the tragic loss of her parents. An affair which resulted in Annabel’s first pregnancy. The town had taken sides and the rift between the Winthrops and the Ludlows and Ferranti families had never healed. Seven years seems such a long time to hold a grudge. But, at the time of the betrayal, life for Bronte Ludlow had been tough going. Bronte had lost her parents, her home, her fiancé, and was at odds with Alexander over the shocking discovery that they had different fathers. And then the whirlwind of Nico Ferranti had entered her life, and look at them now! Parents to four wonderful children. The love and commitment they shared grew more each day. While poor Annabel limped from one domestic drama to another. She has an ex-husband with a sly, vicious tongue and a wandering eye. A man always on the look-out for the main chance to get something for nothing.

Si. We cannot say she has not paid for her mistake. Perhaps it is time to offer her the hand of friendship. That is what good neighbours do, is it not?”

Not exactly thrilled with the idea, Bronte makes a face and heaves a big sigh. “I’ll speak to Janine and Rosie and run the idea to reach out to Annabel past them. If we do this, I’ll need their support. We were all a close-knit group once, when we were ten.”

Nico pulls her onto his lap to wrap her in his arms. “I am thinking of the children. If the adults cannot find a solution, what hope do they have? But let me clear, I will never under any circumstances be a friend to Jonathan Winthrop.”

Bronte reaches up to wind her arms around his neck. “Thank God for that. But I can tell by your face you have a plan for him.”

Si. It is nothing for you to worry about,” he says in that deep growly tone her hormones love.

Nico dips his head to taste her mouth. At least that was the idea. Instead, it isn’t long before they’re naked on the couch, replete and relaxed. “My toes are tingling,” Bronte says. Her eyes shut, she adores the way his big hand sweeps lazy strokes down her spine. She smiles as his big body shakes with laughter.

“I can never get enough of you, cara mia.”

Bronte runs her nails gently over a dark nipple, feels him shudder. “Rosie says that when we’re in a care home and hobbling around with Zimmer frames we’ll still be snogging in corners.”

“She can talk,” Nico says severely. A squawk and grizzle from the baby monitor has both of them on their feet. They dress fast. He grins at Bronte’s flushed cheeks. “Ah, I remember the good old days when we walked about naked whenever we felt like it.”

“We need a break without the kids,” she says as they rush up the stairs. Nico heads off to check on Sophia, and Bronte enters the baby’s room. The heady smell of a dirty diaper has her dealing with the problem within minutes. After settling the baby, she searches for her husband and finds him leaning against the door frame of their eldest daughter’s bedroom. The door is wide open. As she approaches, Nico turns to place a finger on his lips, his grey eyes dancing.

As she studies the scene before her, Bronte lifts her hand to smother a laugh. Omigod. Tonio and Luca have dragged their duvets and pillows into Sophia’s room and are sleeping on the floor next to her bed. She tip-toes over the sleeping boys to study her daughter. Yep, the eye is swollen shut. The livid bruise on that velvet little cheek hurts Bronte’s heart. If the chance of letting bygones be bygones with Annabel and her sons prevents a repetition of today’s events, she’ll do it. The idea of offering the hand of friendship to Annabel may not go down well with Rosie and Janine, but they’ll support Bronte and the children through thick and thin—that’s what best friends do.

Tonio stirs, his eyes pop open as he watches them tip-toe out of the room hand in hand.

The boy lifts up on his elbows to crane his neck to check on Sophia. She’s out for the count, as is her twin sleeping on the floor next to him. Tonio settles to lie on his back and counts the tiny lights on a ceiling which replicates the milky way. Bronte and Rosie and Janine painted the ceilings in the twin’s bedroom. And when Tonio joined the family, the women did the same in his bedroom and gave him lights, too. The Ferranti children sleep beneath the stars.

Tonio smiles as his heavy eyes shut. He knows for sure they’ll have fresh cookies tomorrow because he can smell them from here.

It’s the smell of a safe haven.

It’s the smell of home.

It’s the smell of love.

We are mia la famiglia

We are Italian.

 

FINE

Not easy doing the ‘right’ thing, is it?

Working hard on the weekly short stories, the first one released at the end of this month, then I’m diving into the Ludlow world with Break The Rules. I LOVE my job!!!

Big hugs,

Christine X

Time for another slice of Ludlow Life

 

BLOGBANNERNICOSLICEOFLUDLOWLIFE

 

The Ferranti’s at home in The Dower House

 

 

*Sophia, in her pj’s, is sitting at the kitchen table drinking her bedtime milk. Swinging her bare feet, she eyes her papa who is nursing baby Eve through a milk induced coma*

“How come,” Sophia begins. “We have a dog-house, but we don’t have a dog? And how come you’re in the dog-house?”

*Nico sends her the side-eye*

“The dog-house is a turn of phrase. It means the person in the dog-house is in hot water.”

*Sophia gives him butter-wouldn’t-melt big eyes*

“Is mama still mad because Luca got sick?”

*Nico understands very well his little girl has played him today, plus his wife is not happy with him. Bronte never sulks or holds a grudge. However, she still hasn’t had her ‘little chat’ with him. The mere thought of it makes his belly jump, which is crazy. He’s the man of this house. Nico Ferranti rules this particular roost. Doesn’t he?*

“Luca is feeling much better,” Nico says. “Mama is reading him a story.”

“I want a Bacon Freeze,” Sophia says in a shrill tone which makes Nico’s eyes go slitty.

“No.”

*Sophia sucks her milk in the glass through a straw, reaches the bottom and keeps slurping, making a noise that would certainly bring down the wrath of her mama if she heard it. Yep, his baby girl is playing him. Nico decides to try logic*

“You know how busy mama is. She is looking after the baby, cooking and looking after you and Luca and Tonio. Plus, she looks after me and runs the house. And she runs Sweet Sensations. Mama needs lots of help. As her family it is our job to care for her and help her. At this time a puppy would add an extra burden.”

*When Sophia’s little brow creases as she thinks through his argument, Nico reckons he’s on a winner. Until…*

“Then you need to help mama more. Luca and me are little children. Tonio isn’t old enough to help her. I want a Bacon Freeze. You need to step up to the plot and do your bit.”

*Nico’s jaw doesn’t drop, but it’s a close thing. Where the hell had all this come from? If he wasn’t mistaken some of those words came directly from Rosie Ludlow’s mouth*

“Plate,” Nico mutters. “Step up to the plate.”

“Yes. Auntie Rosie’s always saying that us women juggle five things in life, while the men in this family focus on one. How hard is it for you to give me a puppy?”

*Seems his baby girl hasn’t outgrown her habit of listening in to adult conversations. At the moment Sophia sounded exactly like Rosie. Nico stood*

“Time for bed,” he says, leads the way to the staircase.

*Sophia’s bare feet stomps on the wooden stairs, but Nico refuses to rise to the bait. On one hand he has to admire his daughter. If she wants something badly enough, she never, ever, gives up. Cristo, if he could bottle her focus and strong will, and have his management team drink it, Ferranti Enterprises will be unstoppable. The downside is her ability to manoeuvre situations, and people, to her will. She is five years old, for God’s sake. What the hell is she going to be like when she’s twenty? The idea didn’t bear thinking about. She tags along behind him as he places the baby in her crib. He leads the way to Sophia’s bedroom, and stands by as she climbs into her princess bed complete with canopy. She snuggles beneath the comforter, her eyes bright on his. Nico knows the time has come for him to take control of the puppy situation. He sits on the edge of her bed, leans over to tuck a strand of silver hair behind her tiny ear*

“Mama and me have said time and again, no puppy, and no kitten. If you continue to ask then you cannot be a flower girl at Marc and Elena’s wedding.”

*Sophia’s emerald eyes swim with shock and hurt. It breaks his heart to see her distress, but Nico needs to take a hard-line with his child. He shakes his head*

“I mean it. No means no. I do not want the daughter I love upsetting her mama, and causing mischief by using my cell phone without my permission. If you do it again, no flower girl.”

*He’s happy to see the penny drop as heat scorches her cheeks. Sophia’s behaviour needs careful watching and careful handling*

“Sorry, papa,” she whispers.

“You need to start thinking about consequences. When an idea enters your head consider if what happens next will be worth it.” He kisses her hot cheek, stands to look down at her. “Ti amo, cara. Go to sleep.”

*He shuts Sophia’s bedroom door. The house is quiet. Nico pads on his bare feet to his bedroom, to find his wife sitting up against white pillows, fingers rattling over the keys on her laptop. He closes their bedroom door, locks it. The sound of the lock has Bronte peer at him over the top of her reading glasses. Dio, he loves the sexy librarian look. Arousal burns low in his belly. After all this time together, it doesn’t take her long to recognize the obvious signs of his desire. Instead of closing down her laptop, she continues to type*

“I won’t be long,” she says, not looking at him. “I’m sending out an invoice, which if it isn’t paid in five days, I’m talking to my lawyers.”

*He heads for the shower, stripping off his T-shirt, unbuttoning his jeans*

“How much are you owed?”

“Five grand, which includes late payment penalties.”

*That was a lot of loss for a small business to carry*

“Do you need capital?”

“No,” she says in a sharp tone. “We’re solvent. But if this becomes a trend and more clients don’t pay on time then things may get tricky.”

“Did you take a deposit?”

“Yep. But it took two attempts before the funds cleared. Should have known this one would be trouble. Live and learn.”

*Nico enters the shower, flicks on the taps, and lifts his face to pounding water. He soaps up and lets his mind drift. Bronte didn’t like his interference in her day to day running of the business. But he was wondering if perhaps she had too much on her plate. Perhaps his daughter was right. Maybe it was time for him to cut back on his hours and be a more hands on husband and papa. He turns off the tap, steps out the shower and wraps a white towel around his waist, uses another to dry his hair. He enters their bedroom to find she’s switched off the laptop, and waiting for him. His belly trembles as she sits there, arms folded, with a look in her eyes that tells him she means business. He’s in trouble*

“Sophia’s behaviour needs channelling,” Bronte says.

*Nico drops the towels, slides into their big bed to lie on his side and gaze at the woman he loves beyond life*

Si,” he says, shooting her a smile. “I have been thinking the same thing myself.”

*Bronte jabs his pecs with a pointy finger*

“What possessed you to feed Luca soda and ice-cream? You know he can’t cope with a sugar high.”

*He takes her hand, kisses each finger. When her breath hitches, his mouth curves against her knuckles*

“We got carried away with the excitement of the game. Mi dispiace, cara. It will not happen again.”

*She slides down to lie on her side to face him, her emerald eyes serious. Seems he’s still not quite forgiven*

“What were you thinking not to include Sophia in your party? Can you imagine how hurt she must have felt seeing Tonio and Luca enjoying themselves with popcorn and treats, and having their papa’s undivided attention, while she was ignored? She lashed out against all of you. If you think about it, can you blame her?” Bronte asks in a soft voice.

*The truth of her logic hit Nico hard. The jolt, a mix of shame and guilt, has his brow crease. Dio mio, she is right. While he’d been bonding with the boys, he hadn’t thought of his daughter. Not once. He sits up in bed, runs a hand through damp hair. Perhaps he’d been too hard on a little girl who only wants something to love. Did that mean he isn’t giving her what she needs from him? His eyes found his wife’s and held*

“What can I do to make amends?” he asks, trusting her guidance.

*Bronte slides her hand over his shoulder to cup his neck and pull him close. The soft benediction of her mouth on his helps to heal a heavy heart*

“Spend more one on one time with her, and include her with the boys. And do not dare agree to a kitten or a puppy. Sophia Ferranti is not above emotional blackmail.”

*Nico grins. How the hell did he get so lucky to have such a woman in his life? A woman wise and loving to him and his children? He kisses her, loving the smell of her skin, the taste of her lips. And it doesn’t take long for the warmth of affection to turn hot. He rolls her to her back to cage her beneath him. Emerald eyes brimming with amusement and desire stare into his*

“Do you think you deserve to make love to me after your behaviour today?” she asks.

*He gives her big, big eyes as something hard and heavy, him, settles between her thighs*

Si, I am but an imperfect man. A man who loves and adores you. A man who needs his woman,” he growls.

*Bronte laughs and wraps long legs around his hips, tilting her pelvis to encourage him*

“I know this,” she says, her voice a low purr. She steals his line, “Because you are Italian.”

 

Finito

Next installment coming next week, and we see more from the force of nature that is Sophia Ferranti, and the rest of the family, in SEAN coming soon

Big hugs,

Christine X