Hello, my darlings!
We’ve actually had a heat wave – a mini heat wave they say – which has brought us the hottest April day since 1949! Love it!
We’re also in the process of major detailing work on the top floor of this house, and like everything else once we began the project other things appeared like extra plumbing and electrics and plasterwork. Bleh.
Don’t know about you, but I need a bit of Ludlow love, or hate as the case may be when it comes to the Ferranti twins, Sophia and Luca.
The Dower House…
“How’s Tonio?” Rosie Ludlow asked Bronte as they jogged down a dirt trail behind Ludlow Hall. They both wore knee length yoga pants and fitted T-shirts, their hair pulled back from flushed faces. The sun’s rays filtered through the tree canopy. The air was filled with the scent of years of leaf mould. A brook babbled into a stream as it made it’s lazy and winding way down to the river Ludlow.
Bronte jogged on the spot, checked her watch. “His shoulder’s doing a lot better and the bruising across his clavicle is improving every day. He knows he’s been lucky, and trying not to fret about no football practice for six weeks, but he’s a bit down in the mouth at times. Poor boy.”
“Kids,” Rosie said. “They’re tricky little buggers.”
Bronte sent her a dark look. “Mine are a nightmare at times.”
Rosie grinned. “You’re crazy about them.”
“You know Sophia’s top in math and English and music?”
Rosie bit down hard on her bottom lip as she joined Bronte in leg stretches.
“Luca mentioned it. He is most displeased.”
Bronte had to laugh. “He’ll never be her equal. When it comes to brains she’s in a class of her own.”
“That girl could rule the world.”
“She does her level best to rule our house, except she’s gotta go through me so that’ll never happen.”
“Now Emily’s back from vacation, she’ll keep Sophia entertained.”
Bronte rolled her eyes. “The latest is they want to join a circus.”
Rosie snorted a laugh. “The Greatest Showman?”
“Yup. Grace is taking them to a double sitting tomorrow. They know every single word to every single song.”
“Did you know Emily asked her for a baby tiger?”
Bronte closed her eyes. “I don’t want to even think about it. Bubblegum and Jimmy Chew are more than enough to deal with.”
When they reached Bronte’s Range Rover in the car park of Ludlow Hall, they took a long drink of water before jumping in.
As Bronte drove down the long driveway lined by huge elm trees, she turned to eye Rosie. “You took it nice and slow today, you feeling okay?”
“Nothing that seven months won’t fix. I’m pregnant.”
When Bronte did an emergency stop, screamed her head off, and grabbed her in a hug, Rosie just held on tight.
Bronte shifted to check her colour. She looked fine. More than fine. “I didn’t know you two were trying for another baby!”
Rosie made a face. “As soon as we talked about it, voila, super-sperm struck again.”
A beaming Bronte hugged her once more. “Aw, Mila’s gonna be a big sister.”
“She’s just found her feet. Alexander’s a great daddy with her.”
“Of course he is!”
Rosie’s big brown eyes went all teary. “I can’t believe how I nearly messed it up with him.”
Bronte turned on the ignition and shook her head. “That’s baby hormones speaking.”
“I ran away.”
“You did. But you needed alone time to think about your relationship. Nothing wrong with that.”
Rose sniffed. “That’s not what you said at the time.”
“No. Well, I’d been worried sick that something bad had happened to you. Thank God your mother kept us in the loop. AND you cut your hair.”
Rosie took a deep breath. “Self inflicted punishment. It’s taken years to grow it back. The curse of curly hair.”
The car turned into the driveway of The Dower House.
“Aw, another baby in the family,” Bronte said.
Her wistful tone had Rosie give her big eyes.
“Are you broody again?”
Rosie got out, grabbed her fitness bag from the trunk, eyed a thoughtful looking Bronte.
“You sure? I bet Nico would be up for another one.”
Hoisting her bag on her shoulder, Bronte locked the car.
“He’s always up for it.”
“Mama!” Sophia raced out the door, closely followed by her best friend in the Whole Wide World, Emily. The girls were dressed as athletic fairies, at least that was the best description of pink leotards, white footless tights and white wings, Bronte could come up with. They’d also been in the kiddy makeup and by the looks of it experimenting with ‘smoky eyes’. Goth fairies, maybe.
Rosie opened her arms and Sophia gave her a hug.
“What’s this? You been watching ‘Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Never Beast’ again?”
“How did you know?” Emily asked, her big blue eyes wide.
Rosie gave her a hug too. “A lucky guess.”
Sophia spun around to face Bronte. “Mama!”
“That’s the second time you’ve said that, what’s up, Buttercup?”
“There’s a disgusting stink in the downstairs toilet.”
Emily wrinkled her cute little freckled nose and nodded her head so hard in agreement that her red curls danced around her head.
“Is it blocked again?”
Sophia shook her head.
“Nope. But it stinks of wee.”
Bronte made a bitch-face, as Rosie called it, and marched into the house.
Her emerald gaze swept through the kitchen-dining-family space, and found it immaculate, which was just as well since she’d bottomed out the place the day before.
However, the yells and howls from the ‘man cave’ told her a soccer game was in full flow.
As she marched past the door to the ‘man cave’ she threw it a dark look and headed on down the hallway to the ground floor toilet. She opened the door and surveyed the scene, the vile splashes on the wall and floor tiles.
With a face like thunder, she threw open the window.
Rosie, always interested in how a domestic goddess ran her home, poked her head in the door and the smell of a urinal hit her between the eyes. “Jeez, what the hell is wrong with guys? Can’t they pee into the toilet bowl?”
“Nope,” Sophia said. “They’re disgusting. Mama, you should make them sit on the toilet like girls do.”
Emily piped up. “But how would that work? Wouldn’t their penis just stick up and wee would go everywhere?”
“Not if they hold it down into the bowl,” Sophia told her in a tone that meant business. “How hard can it be?”
Meanwhile Bronte, busy gathering cleaning products from the built in cupboard beneath the sink, picked up two pairs of pink rubber gloves, and stalked down the hall and into the ‘man cave.’ The men in her life, unshaven, all laid back in belly scratching mode, plus the empty soda bottles, coffee cups, and water bottles told her all she needed to know.
“You!” She shot a finger at Nico and tossed him a pair of rubber gloves and cleaning spray. And then she aimed her finger at her brother and tossed him gloves too. “And you! With me! Now!”
By this time Rosie, Emily and Sophia were in the hallway, their arms folded and wearing their own unique versions of the bitch-face.
Now, Nico Ferranti was not stupido.
He followed the stiff shoulders of his wife, couldn’t help but admire her tight little ass in those yoga pants, the swing of her white-blonde ponytail, and in his mind he made plans for an early night.
“Don’t even think about it, boyo!” Bronte shot over her shoulder.
However, when the love of his life behaved like she was in the military and ready for war, he knew something was up.
Alexander, meanwhile, was not a happy man. “Aw, what’s the matter with you? The game’s just come alive. We’ll miss the good bits.”
“That whiney voice is not a good look on you,” his sister told him sharply as she came to a halt outside the toilet. She threw open the door. “I want this cleaned right now and then we’re all gonna have a little talk on how to pee in my house.”
Alexander took a big step back, held up his hands.
“Whoa! I’m not touching it. This isn’t my house. Why do I need to clean it?”
Bronte went nose to nose with her big brother. “Did you pee in here today?”
Alexander ignored his wife’s shaking shoulders, but shot her a dark look anyway. “Might have. Once.”
“Were you in a hurry?” Bronte lifted her chin.
Alexander scratched the scruff on his jaw. “Maybe.”
“So you weren’t exactly focused on what you were doing?”
“I’ve been peeing all my life. I don’t splash.”
“Wanna bet?” his sister said.
“I cannot believe I’m even hearing this conversation,” Nico said on his knees. Wearing pink rubber gloves, he sprayed disinfectant spray on the walls, the floor and thoroughly inside and outside the toilet bowl. “It must have been the boys. And Tonio’s handicapped at the moment.”
Luca and Tonio, wondering what all the fuss was about, peered into the room.
“I didn’t use this toilet,” Tonio said, and missed the sharp look Nico shot him.
“I didn’t use it either,” Luca said. “We use the main bathroom upstairs.”
“Oh well then,” Bronte threw up her hands. “That’s means another bathroom to clean. Guys, the weather is warm and if you don’t drink enough fluids then your wee is concentrated and smells vile. We need to talk about this.”
“Nope. I am not talking about peeing in my own home,” Nico said.
When the rhetoric between her mama and papa descended into a row, Sophia grabbed Emily and they made their way to her bedroom and peace and quiet.
“Wow,” Emily said. “That was pretty disgusting.”
Sophia, busy rummaging around in her shelf unit, nodded, and emerged with notepad and pencil.
“We need a plan. My mama can’t do everything in this house.”
Emily followed her to a desk and chair. “What are you gonna do?”
Sophia sat and drew six lines down and six lines across. She wrote the names of her papa and her brothers and her Uncle Alexander in a box.
“We need to track who uses the toilet and when and then check it to see who’s the culprit. We can’t do anything without proof.”
A baffled looking Emily leaned on the desk, her chin on her hand. “Okay, but how to you get proof?”
“We put squares of toilet paper all around the toilet. If they get wet then we know who did it.”
“But that means we might wait for ages to see who needs to pee.”
Sophia thought about it, nodded. “Okay, then we need a better plan.”
Emily snapped her fingers. “I know! My mummy put a ping pong ball in the toilet and told my daddy to aim for it! It worked! No more smelly loos! And when he flushed, the ping pong ball doesn’t flush!”
Sophia sat back and grinned, then gave Emily a high five. “I like it! And I know just the place to get ping pong balls!”
A few minutes later, the girls are in the triple garage and rummaging through boxes.
“Got them!” Sophia held up a plastic box filled with ping pong balls. “How many do we need?”
“One’s enough in each one,” Emily said.
“Let’s do it!”
“Can someone tell me why there’s a ping pong ball in the toilet?” Luca asked.
The Ferranti family were eating dinner.
Bronte blinked. “Omigod. Now what?”
Sophia, eyeing her brothers and papa, shrugged. “It worked in Emily’s house.”
Bronte turned to her. “What worked?”
“Emily’s daddy aimed for the ping pong ball and no more splashes.”
Bronte’s brows flew into her hairline. “I like it! Aim for the ping pong ball, guys!”
The males in her life didn’t exactly look enthusiastic.
Luca, carefully removing any sign of broccoli from his meal with the precision of a brain surgeon, said, “How come there are boy toilets and girl toilets?”
Nico, trying to think of a logical way to answer the random question caught Sophia, chewing her food, staring unblinking at her twin.
When she opened her mouth, Nico jumped in.
“Privacy,” he said. “It’s a basic human right.”
“Oh, and by the way,” Bronte said and sent him a big toothy grin. “You owe me twenty pounds.”
Nico placed his knife and fork on the plate, sat back and did his level best to out-stare his wife, and failed.
“I did not splash.”
“Twenty pounds, boyo.”
He stared at his sons.
“How do you know it was me?”
His jaw dropped.
“Did too.” Then she grabbed her phone. “Wanna see proof?”
For the first time in his life, Nico Ferranti felt his cheeks go hot.”
“You did not!”
“Yup. It’s X-rated, btw.”
Fiercely aware of the way his children watched him, Nico grabbed his wallet from his pocket and flicked a twenty towards his wife.
How embarrassing was this.
Later, much later, the kids were in bed and Nico was enjoying a glass of Chianti before bed. He poured his wife a glass of white wine, and waited.
He heard her upstairs doing her nightly round of checking on their kids, and then the sound of her bare feet pad down the stairs.
When she entered the family room wearing an ivory silk dressing gown, he studied her scrubbed face, her slim figure and thought he’d never seen anything more beautiful in his life.
Dio, he adored her.
“The ping pong ball is freaking me out,” he said.
When she threw back her head and laughed so hard she clutched her stomach, he had to smile.
“Omigod,” she said. “You should see your face…”
He sat back and placed bare feet on a stool.
His eyes held hers.”Tonio and Luca are drinking lots of water to see who has the best aim.”
Bronte bit down hard on her bottom lip, gave him wide eyes.
“Boys will be boys.”
“There is nothing sacred in this house,” he muttered.
She slid onto his knees and wrapped slim arms around his neck.
Emerald eyes filled with love and fun stared into his.
His nose kissed hers.
“I don’t sulk.”
“Okay, I’d call it a pout.”
“I don’t pout.”
When his hands slid inside the silk to find skin her breath hitched.
Then his mouth took hers…….
Ah, I well remember the ping pong ball in the toilet.
So does my H and my son….
Until next time!