It’s Friday… and time for the Ludlow Hall sneak peek!
Time for a pow-wow at The Dower House…
Bronte, Rosie and Janine had just finished a Sweet Sensations business meeting in Bronte’s kitchen-dining-living space. Eve and Boo are building a tower with huge plastic bricks, and Jimmy Chew was snoozing on his doggie bed, exhausted after a hectic morning with the Ferranti kids.
A fresh pot of coffee sat on the worktop, along with a large plate of mini-muffins, white chocolate and fudge, ready for the hungry hordes who are sure to descend at any moment. The place smells of fresh coffee, spun sugar, chocolate and fresh flowers.
Bronte, dressed in black stretchy pants and an oversized ribbed polo neck cashmere sweater the color of apricot, stretched, rolled her shoulders and wiggled toes all toasty inside thick socks. “In spite of replacing a double oven, we’re well in the black.”
Janine, wearing skinny blue jeans and a white T-shirt beneath a pale grey hoodie, closed her laptop with a satisfied snap. “Yup and our tax reserve account can handle those inland revenue new changes that come into force at the end of April, so we’re cool.”
Rosie, comfy in her usual black yoga pants and huge matching sweater, snuggled a rosy-cheeked Mila who was in the middle of teething hell.
“Thank goodness you have a business brain, Jan. Those excel spreadsheets make my eyes bleed.”
Jan grinned. “And yet I can’t bake or cook the way you two can. Poor Josh fires up his grill more times than not.”
Bronte scooped up Mila and popped a soft kiss on her hot cheek. “Josh loves his grill.”
Rosie, busy with a spoon and Calpol, had to agree. “I’ve never seen a BBQ that big and shiny. I caught Josh patting it once.”
Jan had to laugh. “He calls it darling. How are you this morning, darling.”
Mila opened her mouth like a good girl and took all her medicine, and then snuggled right in for a cuddle with her auntie Bronte.
Eve, dressed in thick tights the color of cream beneath a smocked dress of navy velvet, spotted her mama with her cousin and toddled over to give Mila a hug.
Her little hand patted Mila’s leg. “Aww, poorly, mama?”
“Just a little bit. She has sore teeth.”
“Kiss it better?”
Bronte shifted so Eve could drop a soft kiss on Mila’s cheek.
Then Eve went back to construction with Boo.
“Eve’s speech is coming on,” Rosie said as she topped up their coffees from the pot.
“Yup, better than Batman every five minutes. We all got tired of it after a while.”
“Talking of the super-heroes, where are they?”
Bronte lifted her eyes to heaven.
“Upstairs. Emily and Sophia are quiet, so I’ll check on them in a minute. The boys are watching a movie. Luca’s got a cold.”
Bronte nodded a response to Jan. “Yup. Third one this winter. Doctor can’t find anything wrong with him, except he’s had a growth spurt. Poor child.”
She’d just finished speaking when the poor child in question barrelled through the door, and by the fierce look on his flushed face, he was not happy.
Wearing navy sweatpants and a grey UCLA hoodie, Luca Ferranti, stood with his legs spread on bare feet and folded his arms. “Mama!” he said, his throat scratchy and rough. “Sophia and Emily won’t let me play with their campfire.”
Rosie, dark brown eyes went wide and blinked.
Her fist pressed against her heart.
Jan shook her head. “No. It’s a campfire made of fabric cushions designed as stones, flames and logs.”
Rosie turned amazed eyes on her friend. “You made them a campfire?”
“She did,” Bronte said. “The girls had seen it on Amazon and Jan reckoned she could make it for less, and you know what she’s like, she did. AND she made them a wigwam, too. You should see it.”
Luca turned to Jan, his dark eyes pleading. “Sophia said that they’re playing Pocahontas and I can’t play because I have a… I have a… a… willie.”
Bronte ignored Rosie’s snort of laughter.
“Did she use exactly that word?”
Luca’s gaze flicked to his mother.
He shook his head.
“What word did she say?”
He shook his head again, this time so hard his dark curls bounced.
“Uh-uh. If ever I tattle-tale again, Sophia said that she’ll divorce me and I can speak to the hand.”
Jan, wiping her eyes, cleared her throat. “The hand?”
Luca held up his hand in the universal sign for stop.
“She put it right in my face.”
And just at that moment, two Pocahontas sauntered into the room.
Rosie had to laugh.
Sophia and Emily looked amazing.
Both wore black long wigs, head bands with brightly colored feathers stuck in the back, and two cute mustard colored fringed dresses over their leggings. The dresses had lots of multi-colored glass beads sewn on them. But it was the war paint on their faces that made her grin like a loon. She turned laughing dark eyes on Jan. “Did you make those outfits, too?”
Jan shrugged. “I have the best time practising this stuff on these two.”
Sophia marched up to her brother, got right up into his space, tipped her head back, and said. “HOW!”
Luca simply glared into her eyes, there was notta lotta love between the siblings at the moment.
Sophia made an are-you-beyond-stupid face. “You’re supposed to say, HOW back. It’s how an American Indian say hello.”
“I don’t need to say hello to you. I know who you are. The sister from hell,” Luca’s sore throat by this time was no more than a vehement whisper.
Emily eased her way between the war party and studied Luca’s flushed face.
“You’re sick. You need to see the medicine man,” she said in her soft breathy voice.
Bronte handed Mila to Jan and moved to press the back of her hand to Luca’s forehead.
“Pocahontas is right. Lemme check your temperature.”
“I’m the chief,” Sophia told her brother.
He didn’t look impressed.
“You’re a girl, so how come you’re the chief?”
Bronte, who by this time had found the digital thermometer, slipped it beneath his armpit and told him to sit quietly for five minutes.
Sophia sent him another look, and said, “Equal rights. This is woman’s liberation house. Mama’s the boss, which means I’m an Indian chief.”
By this time, Bronte checked his temperature and nodded.
“It’s up. Calpol for you as well.”
“I don’t like Calpol,” Luca whined.
Undeterred, his mama handed him a glass of water and told him to open his mouth.
After two spoonfuls, and making a horrible face, Luca took his medicine.
Then he sat at the table and simply stared holes through his twin.
Jan moved to stroke his hair.
“Did you really think that I’d made Sophia and Emily a wigwam and forget my Indian brave?”
His dark eyes went huge.
“Did you make me a wigwam?”
Jan nodded. “I did. AND I made you a campfire AND a headband and feathers. You can be two tribes.”
“Did you make me a hatchet and I can scalp Pocahontas?”
Jan rolled her eyes. “Unfortunately I didn’t. However, the two tribes might think about peace talks. Come and help me get them out of the car.”
She headed out the door with Luca hot on her heels.
In the boot room he crammed his feet into Wellington boots.
His face beamed as he hefted a huge black plastic bin bag filled with log, stones and flame cushions.
“Can we put the wigwam up in here, Mama?”
Bronte nodded, happy to see his color was better and so was his mood.
“Sure. Knock yourself out. Maybe Tonio could help?”
Luca raced out the room and up the stairs.
Sophia, sitting at the table, drinking a glass of milk and nibbling on a mini-muffin, her emerald eyes watchful as she observed her brother’s excitement, turned to her best friend.
“It might be time for a pow-wow, what do you think?”
Emily, enjoying her milk and mini muffin, her legs swinging under the chair, nodded like a wise owl.
“Okay. We’ll need war paint if we’re going to war with the boy tribe.”
“We’re the Pamunkeys.”
Luca arriving with Tonio in time to hear this, turned to his twin and curled his lip.
“We’re Apaches. Warriors,” he rasped.
Tonio eyed the girls, and grinned.
Emily simply sighed and gazed longingly at her idol.
When she gave Tonio googly eyes, Sophia shook her head.
“If we’re gonna wipe them from the face of the earth, you can’t look at him like that,” she said in a tone of utter disgust.
Emily turned to stare hard at her.
“We’re not going to wipe him from the face of the earth. Aren’t we talking peace?”
Sophia, her gaze on her twin, curled her lip.
“We don’t have a peace pipe.”
Meanwhile, Bronte, listening to the debate with a riveted Rosie and Jan, staged an intervention.
“As the big boss of this house,” she began. “I actually have a genuine peace pipe that the Pamunkeys and Apaches may use if they really and truly want to live in peace.”
Tonio, who by this time was laughing softly, turned to her.
“Seriously? You have a peace pipe?”
Bronte send him a cheesy smile.
“I do. It belonged to my dad. He used to enjoy the odd pipe, and I have one never used before. However, you must all promise me to take very great care with it.”
Luca, who by this time wore his hair band and three feathers, whirled to face her.
“I promise we’ll take good care of it,” he whispered.
“Okay. But, you must come to a peaceful agreement between the tribes.” She turned to a thoughtful looking Sophia, and raised her brows in a silent question. “Well?”
Sophia pursed her lips and turned to Emily.
Sophia turned back to her mama. “Okay. We agree to talk peace.”
Tonio rubbed his hands as the wigwam, with the help of Jan, was assembled, along with the campfire.
The two Indian braves, grabbed a couple of big cushions from the couch dropped them next to the campfire and crossed their legs.
“Can we bring down our wigwam and campfire too?” Emily suggested.
Bronte lifted her hands.
“The more the merrier. Need some help?”
Twenty minutes later the family room resembled an Indian settlement with a river (thanks to two blue yoga mats) running through it. On one side were the Pocahontas Pamunkeys and on the other were the Apache braves.
Luca stood, legs spread, on one side of the river and Sophia, arms folded, stood on the other.
“Are you coming to our camp for peace talks, or are we coming across the river to you?”
“We’ll come to you in case you burn our camp to the ground,” Sophia said.
Meanwhile, three year old Boo and Eve appeared to walk on water, carrying a selection of huge bricks back and forth to build their version of a wall.
As Bronte, Rosie watched the peace talks, Jan sewed feathers onto headbands for Boo and Eve to join the tribes.
“It’s absolutely fascinating to watch, isn’t it?” Rosie said, her brown eyes twinkling madly.
“Sophia rules that particular roost,” Bronte muttered.
“And she does it so well. We could do with her in parliament, she’d sort that lot out in quick order.”
Raised voices from the peace talks had Bronte clear her throat.
“Don’t be ridicalus,” Sophia said to her twin. “There weren’t iPads in the olden days.”
His eyes shooting daggers right back at her, Luca retorted, “I know that monkey-butt-face. But, we can have Indian music, can’t we?”
“Here’s some flute, forest and river music,” Tonio interrupted, and played it.
Emily, sitting cross legged on a cushion with Jimmy Chew snoring on her lap, began to sway from side to side. “Oooooh, I love it. I feel like I’m in the Rocky mountains.”
On his side of the river, Tonio did a hop-hop-hop dance in time to the drumbeat.
Out of the corner of her mouth, Jan muttered to Rosie who was sneakily videoing it on her cell phone. “Aren’t they fabulous?”
When the howl of a lone wolf came over flute music, Emily’s eyes grew huge.
“And owls,” Sophia whispered.
When more drums and tambourines began, all native Americans got into the spirit of things. At last, an uneasy peace prevailed across the bad lands.
When Nico, Josh and Alexander strolled through the kitchen door, as one they stopped and surveyed the scene.
The lights in the family room were dimmed.
LED candles flickered in the middle of a huge campfire set in the middle of two wigwams. And all the Indian braves were fast asleep, with Jimmy Chew curled up in the middle of the fire that did not burn. Soft meditation nature music played.
And from the looks of things, they’d all had pizza for dinner.
Josh found Boo snoring among the bodies and started to laugh softly.
Bronte popped her head into the kitchen-dining-living space and whispered,
“We’re in here.”
The men tip-toed past those resting, through the hall and into the sitting room where a real log fire sparked and hissed behind a glass screen.
Josh scooped up his woman, sat her on his knee and gave her a hard kiss.
“Love the wigwams and the log fire.”
Jan’s blue eyes danced. “So worth it to see them have such a great time.”
Alexander shrugged off his suit jacket, his tie, and scooped up his sleepy daughter for a kiss. Then he gave one to a Rosie who’d lifted her face in clear invitation.
Meanwhile Nico grabbed Bronte and spun her around.
“Had a busy day?”
“Jan deciphered excel for Rosie and I and then we witnessed peace talks between the tribes. And Luca’s got a sore throat and a temperature.”
Nico made a face.
He turned to his guests.
“Need a drink? Wine? Beers?”
Once he’d served everyone, taken off his suit jacket and tie and reeeeeelaxed in his favorite comfy chair, he raised his glass.
“Here’s to peace.”
Bronte lifted her glass of wine.
“Here’s to Janine, according to Pocahontas, the best auntie in the whole wide world and the universe and beyond.”
Aww, if anyone’s interested there are actually cushions that resemble logs, fire and stones available for sale on Amazon…. just thought you’d like to know!
And for those who need rest, relaxation and probably a glass of wine, here’s the music the kids were listening to: https://youtu.be/5TNNEw2PiyQ
PEACE and LOVE.