It’s Monday, which means another peek behind the curtains of life with the Ferranti family. Grab a coffee, settle down, and enjoy . . .

Tentacles-

Happy Monday, my darlings,

Working hard and nearly at The End of SEAN.

Here’s the latest from the Ferranti Fam-lee . . .

Bronte is driving Nico’s Range Rover with Luca, Sophia and Emily in the back, and Tonio in the front. Luca, Sophia and Emily have been attending a birthday party, which means they’re checking out their party bags, all hyped up on sugar. And Tonio has had soccer practice, which means he’s a bit bruised and battered since he’s a fearless Ferranti.

*Emily and Sophia begin their own unique rendition of The Lonely Goatherd*

“Yodelaaaaaay-eeeeeeee, yodelaaaaaay-eeeeeee-eeeeeeee, yodelaaaaaaaaay-eeeeeeee,” shrieks Sophia with Emily right behind her.

All hot and bothered and tired, of girls, Luca squeezes his eyes shut and bangs the back of his head on the car seat. “Mamaaaaaaa, tell them to stop.”

“Okay, girls, no distractions while I’m driving please,” Bronte says. Out of the corner of her eye she spots Tonio making a horrible face. To be honest she can’t blame him, the singing is pretty horrible. “That’s enough now.”

*And silence once again reigns across the land*

“How come,” Emily begins in her soft little voice. Her fingers smooth the skirt of her pale pink party frock. “Boys can wear dresses? I’ve never seen a boy in a dress.”

Out the corner of her eye, Bronte sees Tonio’s eyes go wide. She clears her throat, guessing someone’s been talking to Emily about gender equality in schools, where boys were given permission to wear a dress if they so wished. “Well, yes they can,” she says. “Most boys don’t, but if they wanted to they could.”

Sophia’s watching the word go by. She shakes her head and pipes up, “I can’t imagine my papa in a dress.” She’s wearing her best party frock and it’s pink, too. “I mean papa’s got hairy legs, and muscles . . . and tentacles.”

*Oh. My. God. Bronte cannot imagine Nico in a dress either. And as for tentacles . . . Stifling a giggle, she drives the car through the winding country road. She spots Tonio biting down hard on his knuckles, his shoulders shaking with laughter*

“Boys have testicles,” Tonio correct Sophia.

Luca frowns. “So what have tentacles?”

“Octopus have tentacles,” Tonio says.

Little Emily shakes her head, her smooth brow creases. “I don’t think that’s right. My mummy says my daddy’s like an octopus. He’s all hands.”

Tonio turns to give a wide-eyed Bronte big eyes. Bronte clears her throat. “Remember Ursula in The Little Mermaid?” she asks, desperately trying to guide the conversation into safer waters. “She was part octopus.”

Sophia nods. “Uh huh. Ursula is half-witch. My auntie Rosie says Ursula’s bad to the bone.”

“My daddy says my mummy turns into a witch at the time of the month,” Emily pipes up.

Wide-eyed, Luca turns to Emily. “Is that the time of the full moon? My papa says mama goes nutso during a full moon. Witches fly over the moon at Halloween. Does your mummy have a broomstick?” he asks hopefully.

“Uh huh,” Emily says, shaking her head so hard her bright corkscrew curls dance. “My mummy says that she is not a witch and knows he really means she’s a bitch and he’s not fooling anybody and if my daddy keeps it up, she’s gonna nail his tentacles to the wall.”

*Oh. My. God. Bronte decides she needs to have an urgent chat with Emily’s mummy, Grace, and with Nico about his Big Mouth*

“Well,” Bronte says in a high cheery voice. “Another octopus is Pearl in Finding Nemo. I think Pearl is sooooooo cute.”

*When Emily beams and nods, Bronte heaves a relieved sigh that none of the kids could find a problem with Pearl. Until . . .*

Sophia turns to Emily. “The reason your mummy and my mama get cranky at the time of the full moon is because they are cursed. And because you and me are female, Emily, when we hit pubsinthecity we’re gonna be cursed too. My auntie Rosie says we are cursed because inside us we have eggs to make babies. When we don’t make a baby, once a month we have an egg and we have belly cramps and spots and horrible hair and we put the men in our life through merry hell.”

“Eww,” Luca says.

Sophia nods as Emily stares at her with big blue eyes. Sophia continues, “Auntie Rosie says men don’t know they are living.”

“God,” Tonio mutters, sliding down in his seat.

With a determined smile fixed on her face, Bronte steers the car into Emily’s driveway. She turns to the three children in the back seat and says, “And here we all are. Safe and well.”

*Minutes later, back at The Dower House, Nico Ferranti is waiting for his family, baby Eve tucked on his hip. And since the baby’s cutting teeth her little cheeks are apple red, and she’s wearing a white cotton bib. She’s gnawing heroically on a plastic ring filled with ice water*

“How was soccer practice?” Nico asks Tonio as the boy heaves his kit bag from the trunk.

Tonio turns to send him a slow smile. “I made the team.”

Nico and Tonio slap a high five. “Well done.”

Nico eyes the twins, notices Sophia giving him a head to toe appraisal of his bare feet, battered blue jeans and black thermal. “What?” he asks her.

She shakes her blonde head as she walks past him. “Papa, there’s no way you’d ever look good in a dress, it’s sooooo not your style. You’re Italian.”

A stunned Nico turns to a laughing Bronte to give her wide eyes. “Me? In a dress?”

Bronte stretches up on her tip toes to plant a kiss on his cheek. “It all began with tentacles and an Octopus….”

 

Finito

 

Writing final scenes for SEAN last night and I cried a river . . . and all y’all know that if I cry, you cry. I love this couple soooooo much, so many feels . . .

Before final edits, I’m placing SEAN on pre-order, the links are coming soon.

AND I have a huge surprise for you guys at the end of SEAN, with pre-orders for the surprise, too.

Stay tuned . . .

 

Christine X

Happy Monday, and here’s another slice of Ludlow life… I’m still yodelling to the Lonely Goatherd…

Ludlowlifebanner

Remember, to read how Nico and Bronte’s love began, you can grab it here, free:

Dressed down in black below the knee yoga pants, a matching skinny vest, and sneakers, Bronte is collecting Sophia from a play date with her BBF, Emily, and her Bacon Freeze puppy, Bubblegum………

“Hi, Grace. How are you today? Did they run you ragged, or did they behave themselves?” Bronte asks as Grace waves her through the door and leads her through her beautifully appointed home into a huge light and airy family kitchen space.

Wearing cropped blue jeans and an ivory short sleeved sweater, Grace has the same petite build and fair coloring as her daughter, creamy skin with a constellation of freckles, and wild chestnut curls. She grins, rolls her blue eyes. “Do you have time for a coffee?”

“Sure.” Bronte dumps her purse on one of the breakfast bar stools, and slides into another. Her eyes click to a Grace who is still grinning as she pours black coffee from the pot into two white china mugs. “What’s she done or said now?” she asks, referring to Sophia, and fearing the worst.

Eyes dancing, Grace hands Bronte a mug and slides into another stool to face Bronte over the brown speckled granite counter top. “Nothing naughty, which makes a delightful change. Although I did manage to stop them before they painted Bubblegum’s nails with purple polish. No. I had what I thought was a brainwave and introduced them to one of my favorite childhood movies. They’ve been watching The Sound Of Music. And replaying Julie Andrews singing, ‘The Hills Are Alive’ about twenty times. Don’t get me wrong. I adore Julie’s voice. But I’m finding myself singing along. Betcha I’ll have an earworm for days.” She takes a sip of her drink, and then her grin turns into a wide smile, her eyes still sparkling.

“Okay. Spit it out,” Bronte says.

“They’ve got the words down pat, but can’t quite hit the high notes, know what I mean?”

“Aww, bless their little hearts. I’m not seeing a downside to this, Grace.”

*And right on cue, from a room above, there comes the dulcet tones of introduction music as Dame Julie begins her song, and right along with her comes a yowling of two young voices determined to nail it. Whoa. Bronte’s emerald eyes go wide*

Grace tips back her head to study the high ceiling. “And there they go… again.”

They both burst out laughing. “Could be worse, Grace, it could be The Lonely Goatherd,” Bronte says, wiping her eyes. And of course that thought made them laugh even harder.

Grace shakes her head, laughter making her eyes all teary and her voice quaver. “Thing is, Bronte, and I’ll apologize right now because I just didn’t see this coming.”

Bronte puts her cup down, places her elbows on the work top and leans over to study a Grace who is weeping hard so hard with laughter, she’d needs to cross her legs. And of course, Bronte ends up weeping with her.

Grace grabs a couple sheets of kitchen roll, wipes streaming eyes, takes a deep breath and holds up her hands. “I’m sorry. Sorry… Okay. I’ve got a hold of myself. Okay…” She takes a huge inhale in, holds it for four counts, and then breathes out. Her eyes meet Bronte’s. “They came down here and demanded two clean white tea towels. When I asked them what for, they said…” Again Grace’s eyes swim as her face creases. She takes another deep inhale. “They’ve decided to dedicate their lives to Jesus. They wanna be nuns.”

Grace stuffs kitchen roll in her mouth as she weeps with laughter at Bronte’s stunned face. And then cries even harder when Bronte whispers, “Omigod.”

*Next morning at breakfast at The Dower House*

Dressed to impress, Nico Ferranti strolls into the kitchen looking like something off the cover of  Men’s Fashion magazine. With his hand protecting his silk tie from sticky little fingers, he dips his head to deliver a raspberry to the hot cheek of a delighted baby Eve sitting in her high chair and using her empty sip cup to beat the hell out of the plastic table. Tonio and Luca are wolfing down oatmeal and honey in a race to see who can finish first. No sign of Sophia… yet. Nico’s eyes light on a wife who is barefoot at the range preparing his poached eggs and bacon. She’s dressed in one his T-shirts and boy panties wiggling her cute little butt to Paulo Nuttini rocking the iPod. At the table the boys are now digging in to a mountain of toast and buttered crumpets. Since he cannot help himself, Nico shifts to slide his arms around Bronte’s slim waist for a cuddle, drop a kiss on her neck, and pat her ass. “Where,” he asks with his tongue firmly in his cheek. “Is the good sister Sophia.”

Bronte heaves a sigh, shakes her head. “The sister has kindly informed me that when she’s finished her morning prayers, she will join us for one slice of toast without jam or butter, and a cup of weak tea.”

Nico’s wide shoulder’s shake with laughter.

Tonio, face fierce, pipes up with, “Si. And she’s still wearing that stupid tea cloth on her head. She’s driving me nuts. Every time she sees Luca or me she says, ‘Bless you, my child.'”

Nico shakes his head as he pours himself a coffee from the pot, takes his seat at the head of the table. He flicks out a stiff white cotton napkin on his knee. When Bronte places his breakfast in front of him, he sends her a slow and sexy smile. “Grazie, cara. You are too good to me.”

Bronte drops a kiss on his freshly shaved cheek. “That’s because you smell delicious.”

“You buy my cologne.”

“Yep,” she agrees, as she places a fresh sip cup on Eve’s table and a plastic bowl of sliced banana so the baby can help herself. “If I’ve got to live with you, I get to decide how you smell. Wife’s rights.”

*The whole room goes quiet, even the baby’s eyes go big, as Sophia walks slowly into the room. She’s wearing a black dress from her dressing up box, black ankle socks, and black patent shoes with a strap. The tea cloth is pinned to her hair, and the palms of her hands are pressed together as if in prayer*

Dio mio,” Nico mutters under his breath, and digs into his breakfast.

Bronte can’t quite hold in the giggle before she clears her throat. “Good morning, sister. Would you like bacon?”

Sophia cannot resist bacon, ever. Temptation whispers loud in her mind, but she remembers the promise she and Emily made on the Holy Bible. “No thank you, mama. One slice of toast and tea, please.”

Luca, a piece of toast half way to his mouth, scowls at his twin. “You look stupid with that thing on your head.”

Sister Sophia narrows emerald eyes, purses her small pink mouth, then takes a breath. “There is no need for rudeness. I forgive you, my son.”

Tonio rolls his eyes, turns to his papa. “You’ve gotta do something. This cannot go on. She’s gonna drive us nuts.”

Nico nods, dabs his mouth with his napkin, and rests his gaze on a daughter he adores. “Sophia, bella. A little girl cannot be a nun. A convent will not accept you until you are eighteen.”

Sophia’s emerald eyes meet his. “Eighteen? Why?”

“Because when a woman decides to dedicate her life to God, she needs to have lived a normal life first.”

Sister Sophia’s shoulders droop, but she nods. “Okay. But can I go to a convent school for girls to see what it’s like?”

Nico’s heart soars with joy. There are no boys in a convent school, and he has just the place in mind, but before he can reply, his wife beats him to it.

“No,” Bronte says. “For a well rounded education it is important for you to socialize with boys and girls and learn to get along with both.”

“She has no problem with boys,” Tonio growls, and earns himself a dark look from his papa for his trouble.

Sister Sophia takes her own sweet time to think about it, then she nods, and pulls the tea towel from her head. “Okay. I’m still a little girl…”

“Yup,” Bronte says, slipping a plate of bacon and toast and a poached egg in front of her daughter. “And a little girl need a good diet of good food to grow into a fine woman. Dig in.”

*And peace descends upon The Dower House… until…*

“What’s the next film Emily’s mama has chosen for you?” Nico asks.

Sophia nibbles on crispy bacon, swallows. “The Goonies. It’s about buried treasure.”

Bronte grins in delight. “Aww, I love that movie.”

Nico rises to leave for another day at the office of Ferranti Enterprises, based at Ludlow Hall. “Si, just be prepared for her to start digging up the garden hunting for buried treasure.”

Luca turns big dark eyes filled to the brim with excitement on his papa. “We have buried treasure on our land?”

Ignoring his wife’s imploring gaze, Nico comes up with a dastardly plan to keep his children entertained for days. “Si. Of course. You did not know The Dower House has a box of treasure just waiting to be discovered?”

As a wide-eyed Luca shakes his head, whispers, “No.”

“Then today, even though I am busy, I will retrieve the treasure map from the safe at Ludlow Hall and bring it home with me tonight. But you must promise not to tell anyone about the map. It is a secret.”  And all the while his busy mind is coming up with a plan that will include Alexander and their PA, Julie, who will be only too happy to play their part.

As Bronte follows him to his car, she gives him the stink eye. “You are worse than they are. If they dig up my garden…”

After dumping his laptop on the passenger seat of his Range Rover, Nico grabs his wife for a hot kiss. Shifting to watch the way her eyes have gone all cloudy, he grins down into her face. Dio, he adores her. “Trust me, X will mark the spot around their play area. Nessun problema. But I’d like you to think about a convent for Sophia.”

Bronte grins as she adjusts the knot of his tie. “I don’t care if you are Italian. Not a chance, sunshine.”

 

FINITO

 

And here, for your listening pleasure, is Dame Julie singing one of her signature songs:

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE

My best pal, Linda, and me were six when we saw The Sound of Music and immediately dreamed of becoming nuns. For two weeks we wore a white tea towel on our heads and blessed every person we met, and drove our families mad. We never ended up in a convent, which is just as well. But we still remember every single word of every single song in The Sound of Music.

Those were the days, eh?

There was no catch a Pokémon in my day.

With love and hugs,

Christine X

It’s (just after) Monday, and here’s more from the Ferranti Fam-lee.

Behind every great daughteris a truly amazing dadand his name is Nico Ferranti

 

 

Hi, guys!

I’m late with this week’s post due to travelling yesterday. A trip that was supposed to take about five hours took nearly nine thanks to an acid spill on the motorway (freeway) which ate up the tarmac. We were stuck in a ten mile tail back in one of the hottest days of the year. Not fun.

Here’s this week’s slice of life with the Ferranti Fam-lee!

BRONTE & NICO EATING A ROAST CHICKEN, WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS, DINNER WITH THE KIDS AT THE DOWER HOUSE.

*Luca, his little face a picture of complete misery, is pushing a piece of broccoli around his plate with a fork*

Dressed in below the knee jean shorts and an Incredible Hulk T-shirt, he says in a tone of utter disgust, “I hate this stuff.”

Sophia dressed in matching shorts and a Frozen T-shirt swings her bare legs beneath her chair, nods. “Me, too.” She spears a piece of chicken breast, nibbles delicately.

“I’m not eating it.” Luca’s mouth goes tight as he moves his full plate away.

*Bronte studies her youngest son’s stony face. He doesn’t look flushed. He doesn’t look pale. It’s not like him to make a fuss. He’s gone through a sudden growth spurt and is at least a head taller than his twin sister, so maybe he’s tired. He tends to leave food he doesn’t want, which is fine with her. But she frowns when Sophia, in a show of sisterly solidarity, pushes her full plate away, too. Little monkey*

Tonio, who by the amount of food he scoffs at meal times possesses hollow legs, cranes his neck to check out their plates. “Not want the chicken?”

Luca makes a horrible face, shoves his plate across the table to his brother. “Nope. It’s gross.”

*Bronte’s brows fly into her hairline. Excuse me? Since when has her freshly prepared, carefully balanced meals ever been regarded as gross? But before she can open her mouth, Nico steps into the breach*

“Do you have a headache? Are you sick?” he asks Luca.

Luca shakes his head. Big dark eyes meet his papa’s. “I don’t like these little trees. They taste gross, like soil. Why do I wanna eat soil?”

Nico sends Bronte big eyes to tell her he’ll deal with the sudden revolt in his family. He turns to his son. “We have carrots. You like carrots.”

Luca makes another horrible face. “I don’t like cooked carrots. I like raw carrots.”

“I like raw carrots, too,” Sophia says. She turns to Luca. “Maybe you’d like raw trees?”

“Yuk.”

“I do not mind the little trees,” Tonio says, spearing broccoli from Luca’s plate to his own, and then helping himself to chicken breast in gravy. “Mama makes the best food. Much better than school food. The priests used to say that we who have full plates and full bellies are blessed by Jesus. Around the world there are thousands of little childrens going to bed every day with empty bellies because of war… and stuff.”

Sophia’s green eyes went wide. “Little childrens go to bed with no dinner?”

Si.” Tonio broke a table rule by pointing his knife at his sister. “And without breakfast, and even lunch. Sometimes the little childrens have no food for days. Babies, too, have no milk.”

Now Luca’s bottom lip’s trembling, and his big dark eyes swim. “But… You’ve eaten all my dinner. Now I’m gonna go to bed with no dinner, just like the poor little childrens and babies who have no milk.”

Sophia’s bottom lip joins her brother’s in a show of sibling sympathy. “Me, too, just like the poor childrens.”

*Nico’s eyes go huge as he looks at a wife who’s biting down hard on her bottom lip. Dio mio. Just listen to them, a person might think that Nico Ferranti starves his childrens, er children. Tonio’s English is amazing, but sometimes he has trouble*

Nico claps his hands. “We have plenty of food for everyone in this house. There is lots of chicken for anyone who wants it.”

Luca’s big eyes find his papa’s. “But… but… what about the little children who have no food? Can’t we give them our food if we have too much?”

*By this time, Bronte’s hand is covering her mouth to hide her smile. Her baby boy has a good heart, big heart. A heart that is easily bruised*

“Yes,” Sophia cries. “Emily’s daddy says my papa’s a filthy rich typhoon. Papa will send lots of food to the hungry childrens, especially lots of roast chicken and gravy.” She turns big emerald eyes to a Nico who’s still trying to recover from the shock of being called a ‘filthy rich typhoon’. “Won’t you, papa?”

Nico sends his daughter a nod. “Si. Ferranti Enterprises supports many charities, including Save The Children.”

*All three of his kids gaze at him in awe and wonder. Actually, he and his team donate much needed blankets and clothes to the United Nations refugee camps currently based in Jordan and Turkey*

“What does Save The Children do?” Sophia asks.

Nico clears his throat, the last thing he wants is to worry his kids, but it seems they are ready to hear about those less fortunate than themselves. “Well, they make sure children have clean water to drink and that they have a safe place to sleep, and they make sure they have clothes and food.”

Luca’s eyes go huge. “They have no water? No bed to sleep in?”

“Sometimes,” Bronte jumps in. “There is a natural disaster, like a flood or an earthquake, and houses are damaged or crops destroyed, so help is sent from many people all over the world.”

Without asking to leave the table, Sophia slides out of her chair. She moves to kneel on her papa’s lap and goes nose to nose with Nico. “When I’m a big girl and I can read and write good and get all my sums right, can I work for Save The Childrens?”

Nico can hardly swallow the lump of pride in his throat. Dio mio, how lucky is he to have such children? He cups Sophia’s little face, kisses her forehead, her nose. Then shifts to look her in the eye. “Cara mia, if you work hard you can do whatever you want to do in the whole wide world. Do you know why?”

Sophia’s high ponytail of shiny silver bounces as she shakes her head. “Why?”

“Because you are Italian.”

 

Finito

 

Gotta love the kids.

Until next week, enjoy the summer and hold your children tight and give them a big hug from me.

Christine X

 

 

 

Anyone for another slice of Ludlow life?

 

BLOGBANNERNICOSLICEOFLUDLOWLIFE

 

READ HOW IT ALL BEGAN FREE HERE!

Happy Monday, my lovelies,

Time for another slice of life with the Ferranti fam-lee!

*Nico and the boyss are chilling at The Dower House babysitting baby Eve, while Bronte and Sophia and Auntie Rosie are having a ‘girly’ day*

“So.” Nico rubs his hands and gives Tonio wide eyes. “Soccer or rugby, what’s your poison?”

“Soccer,” Tonio yells and dashes to the closet, pulls out a couple of throws, races back and smoothes them over the new couch covered in a totally impractical velvet the color of pale lilac. And Bronte’s pride and joy.

Nico shoots him two finger pistols. “Good thinking, Batman. Now remember, no soda for Luca and no chocolate ice-cream. Mama left us snacks in the fridge. We’re responsible for the baby so we cannot have the TV too loud or we won’t hear the monitor when she wakes.”

“You should be Batman, papa. I’m Robin,” Tonio says with a logic his papa can get right behind.

Nico grins. “Si, and we will use paper plates and paper cups. Less mess. Sorted.”

*In short order, they organize their favorite space. Tonio lifts the remote, clicks the sports channel. They settle down, making sure their bare feet are not on the table. Nico never again wants to go through what happened last time when Bronte blow torched his ear. Luca pads into the room in bare feet wearing below the knee navy shorts and a white T-shirt proclaiming the words ‘I’m Italian, which means My Family Is Temperamental. Half Temper. Half Mental’. His right fist holds his blankie (a sure sign he’s tired), while his left hand tugs his ear (another sign he’s tired). Nico pats the couch, but instead of sitting next to his papa, Luca stops in front of him, eyeball to eyeball*

“Eve’s pooped in her diaper.”

*Five simple words that brings an icy fist to his papa’s heart, and a clutch of dread to his papa’s belly*

Nico blinks, remembers with a shudder the heavy diaper his daughter had filled not twenty minutes ago. “But, mama changed her just before she left. How can this happen?”

“She had a vaccination shot yesterday, sometimes they give her a runny tummy,” Tonio says helpfully.

*Dio mio, a runny tummy? The mere thought breaks Nico out in a cold sweat. He is a good father, he knows he is. But he’s never really managed to get over the gut churning ordeal of a dirty diaper. A wet diaper, no problemo. His sons are well aware of this, and both are watching him with wide eyes. He stands. He can do this. He is Italian. The boys are hot on his heels as he takes the stairs two at time and enters the nursery. The heady scent of bad news hits him hard. This, boys and girls, is not going to be pretty*

“Okay,” he says. His voice brings his baby girl’s head up, black glossy curls bouncing as she sits and then stands holding onto the bars of her cot. A stain, the color of mustard, oozes from the top of her leg onto her pink sleep suit. Dio mio. What he needs, Nico realizes, is a plan. He strides to the changing table, plucks a couple of wet wipes from the plastic container, rolls them into the size of a pencil, folds them in half and stuffs one in each nostril, much to the choking hilarity of his sons. He sends them slitty eyes. “Grab bottle of aftershave from my bathroom,” he orders a Luca who is swiping tears from his cheeks. Luca races off to do his bidding. Then he turns to a Tonio who is laughing so hard he’s clutching his belly. “We need a clean sleep suit and new diaper, plastic bags for the dirty diaper and plenty of wet wipes. Go, Robin, go.”

*Luca returns to hand his papa a bottle. Nico squirts aftershave on each nostril and inhales the scent through the wet wipes. He can do this. He lifts his excited baby girl from her cot and lies her on her back on the plastic changing mat, and carefully, very carefully begins to unsnap the poppers. The scene of utter carnage has a tiny whimper escape from his throat*

“Whoa,” Tonio says, shock a living, breathing, thing in his voice.

Si,” Nico squeaks, then clears his throat.

“Luca, you wait outside. Robin, I need at least five wet wipes, hold out the plastic bag and let’s do this thing.”

*Baby Eve’s dark brown eyes are riveted to her papa’s face. He takes his time to release first one chubby leg from her suit before going for the next*

“She’s a wriggler,” Tonio warns. “You need to hold her ankles high, and clean the top of her legs before you undo the diaper.”

*Good advice. Maybe Tonio would like the job? Nico’s tempted, but he refuses not to man-up in front of his son. He can do this. By the time he’s got Eve naked and clean with the contents of two full boxes of wet wipes, perspiration is beading his top lip.*

“She needs a bath,” Tonio says, tying the handles of two plastic bags.

The words bring Nico’s head up with a jerk. “Bath?”

Tonio gives him a funny look. “You bath the twins all the time.”

Si, but they are old enough not to drown. Eve is like an eel. She never sits still.”

Tonio rolls his eyes to heaven. “Luca and me will help. Nessun problema.”

*By the time Nico and the boys are finish bathing Eve, the bathroom looks like something out of a warzone with baby powder the weapon of choice for mass destruction. Sopping wet T-shirts cling to their skin. But they’re all happy and most importantly the baby’s cheeks are pink, her curls damp. Wrapped in a thick towel of white cotton, she tucks her face in her papa’s neck. Pleased with how they all work together as a team, Nico tells the boys to change into dry clothes, and takes his baby to her changing mat for a clean diaper, and makes short work of dressing her in a clean sleep suit*

“Hellooooooo, anybody home?” Alexander Ludlow yells from the bottom of the stairs. The boys whoop and holler and race down the stairs to welcome their favorite uncle.

*Nico strolls into the family room cuddling his daughter to find Alexander with baby Mila over his shoulder. He’s sitting on the couch with the boys watching soccer*

“Hear you had a pooh-bomb to deal with,” Alexander says with a wicked gleam in his eye.

Nico sits on the short end of the L shaped couch with a now unconscious Eve boneless in his arms. He drops a kiss on her hot cheek. “Si. She is teething and had a vaccination shot yesterday. It wasn’t pretty. I see you have your hands full.”

Alexander gently rubs his seven week old baby daughter’s back. “My princess is the best thing that ever happened to me. No one can tell you how you’ll feel when a man becomes a daddy, know what I mean?”

Si,” Nico agrees, feeling all lovely and warm inside. “Being a papa is the best thing in the world.”

Tonio’s snort of derision has both men eye him. “You say that now. But in a few years they’ll be like Sophia and Auntie Rosie, or worse. And then there will be… dan-daran-dan… boyfriends.”

*With something like horror on their pale faces, Nico Ferranti and Alexander Ludlow clutch their babies close to their manly chests*

Nessun problema,” Nico growls. “I am Italian. I have contacts in the Cosa Nostra. Our girls will be protected.”

Alexander turns to his best pal. “Never thought I’d live to see the day I’d say this, but can I have the Mafia’s number?”

 

Finito.

The things a man will do for family, eh?

I’ve had readers ask me to put the scenes in a book, and I’ve decided to use some of the sneak peeks in SEAN’s story, coming soon.

Until next week, be good.

Hugs,

Christine X

 

 

Cover Reveal for SEAN and exclusive excerpt. Ludlow Hall book 10.

LUDLOWSEANFINITO

Book TEN?

Seriously?

Here’s SEAN in all his glory. I adore this cover, but to be honest I wanted a man-chest. And when I realized I couldn’t have a man-chest due to branding issues my bottom lip hit the floor. Yes, I pouted. It wasn’t pretty.  I WANTED A MAN-CHEST.

However, the wonderful Gabrielle Prendergast of Cover You Dreams and I put our heads together and she came up with the exact character of (a guy with a decided twinkle in his eye) SEAN.

Gabrielle’s also working with me on a super-secret project linked to SEAN coming later this year, and all I’m prepared to say is she’s knocked the covers and the CC MACKENZIE brand right out of the ballpark. Can you tell I can’t keep a secret?

As soon as SEAN is ready for pre-order I’ll post the links, but to keep all y’all going here’s a sneak peek from the book, enjoy!

 

***

There’s only one thing in life that Sean Gallagher hates, and that’s a woman who cheats.

There’s only one problem in Katherine Mary Kennedy’s life and that’s how to pay her mother’s medical bills.

Let yourself be swept away by a romance so hot it will singe your fingers…

Supermodel Sean Gallagher is catch-your-breath gorgeous and ruined by his troubled past in Ireland and his part in the death of his younger brother. All grown up and relocated to New York, he’s become one of the most photographed faces on the planet. No one knows the dark childhood secrets that have given Sean a backbone of steel and a heart untouched by love.

No one until Katherine Mary Kennedy, that is…

From the moment the former girl-next-door steps onto the stage at Ludlow Hall to star as international burlesque star, Pousse-Café, Sean is sure he’s living in some sort of parallel universe.

Katherine peels away Sean’s prejudice about burlesque. She opens the door to a different world filled with pleasure and desire, and Sean is captivated. But when he realizes Katherine is the reason for his brother’s death, how far is he willing to go to punish her? And what happens when he has to step back into the real world and face some hard truths?

Sean & Katherine’s is a story of forbidden passion, revenge, love lost and love found and changes both of their lives forever…

Excerpt

“Nice dress,” Birdie said.

Katherine grinned at the way the words were spoken, in a gravelly New Yawk accent, and did a twirl of the dress, an ocean of shot silk the color of her eyes, azure blue.

“Do I look like a respectable member of the wedding party?” Katherine asked her dresser, and right hand woman.

Birdie chewed gum the way it should be chewed.

Her beady eyes, black like a bird’s, gleamed in a face that had lived over seventy years.

“Yup. Respectable’s boring, but the dress is… nice.”

“You’re just used to sequins and feathers, and satin and lace. Nothing wrong with nice,” Katherine muttered as Birdie’s arthritic fingers slid down the zip.

Birdie shot her a bland look beneath thin brows penciled in black. “Your cousin doesn’t want you to upstage the bride.”

Katherine shook her head, stepped out of the maid of honor’s dress, watched Birdie bag it and hang it on the hook on the back of the door. She stood in nothing except a nude thong and matching boned strapless bra and black silk hold ups. She lifted a boned corset of sheer silk the color of ink, wiggled firm but small breasts into position to lift and separate, and turned her back to let Birdie do her magic with the laces. “Elena doesn’t think like that, she’s too…”

“Nice,” Birdie said as she tugged and pulled at the corset to make Katherine’s small waist even smaller.

Katherine frowned as she snapped her stockings to her garter belt. “She’s a lovely person, and madly in love with Marc. They look good together. Can you adjust the bodice of the dress? I seem to have lost weight since my last fitting.”

“Wiggle your ass. That’s it. Honey, of course I can fix your nice dress. This is me you’re talkin’ to. Not a problem.”

“You’re an angel.”

Birdie dipped her head to eyeball Katherine over red framed reading glasses.

“I’ve been called many things in my life, Katherine. An angel ain’t one of them.”

“You’re all bark and no bite.”

Birdie sniffed. “Honey, you just keep telling yourself that if it makes you happy. Anyway, makes a change to see you in a dress since you make a living out of wearing very little. Park your skinny ass in the chair and let me do something with feathers and your hair.”

Katherine did as she was told.

She didn’t have a skinny ass.

Thanks to a rigid diet and a rigorous exercise regime, her ass was tight and toned.

In fact, every ass of every single one of her famous Golddigger burlesque troupe were tight and toned and fabulous.

Birdie whirled a cotton protector over her outfit to ready her for make-up.

“Good job I have a thick skin,” Katherine muttered.

“A thick skin’s a must in our business,” Birdie said as she set about working on one of the most beautiful faces in the world. “You’re looking gaunt, and a little bit hollow eyed. How’s your mama doin?”

“Still in remission, thank the Lord.”

“You’re a good girl. If your grandma could see you now, she’d be as proud of you as I am.”

Katherine couldn’t help but smile as Birdie worked her magic with eyeliner.

“She was a pistol, wasn’t she?”

“Yup. In her day she was the queen of burlesque.”

Katherine’s hand lifted to grip Birdie’s narrow wrist, their eyes held.

“I couldn’t have done this without you,” Katherine whispered.

Birdie’s eyes glittered with emotions neither ever put into words.

“You go get yourself out there with the girls and give Marc’s bachelor night the send off he deserves.”

Katherine stood, checked her hair, her make-up, in the mirror.

Birdie handed her black satin gloves, watched her as she tugged them over her elbows. She clipped the diamanté choker around Katherine’s long neck, clipped a matching bracelet on each wrist, and kept an eye on her girl as she slid narrow feet into mile high heels to showcase the best pair of legs in the business. Mr. Louboutin’s shoes did the job all right, they oozed pure sex.

“Get out there and give ’em hell,” Birdie ordered.

Since Birdie used the same words every single night, Katherine sent her a wicked grin.

“Yes, ma’am.”

As she strutted in all her finery down the corridor towards the back of the grand ballroom of Ludlow Hall, Katherine, a.k.a. Pousse-Café, the leader of The Golddiggers, couldn’t help but grin as four of her girls did their thing on the stage. Their timing was spot on, and their voices as they sang We Got The Look brought the house down. A Golddigger did more than just tease and tantalize. A Golddigger was a trained dancer, and she could sing, too. Plus, a Golddigger had to look good on and off stage. And that included a Golddigger’s behaviour in her private life. No salacious headlines in the celebrity press. A Golddigger had standards, high standards. Standards that had made The Golddiggers a household name right around the globe.

And now Katherine was about to entertain a home crowd.

Yep, the good girl gone bad was back.

And the small market town of Old Ludlow was buzzing over it, whispering untruths, dishing dirt and innuendo through the mom’s and tot’s groups, the nail bar and hairdresser.

But Pousse-café could care less.

The girls on stage were taking their bows as the good-natured crowd went wild.

Marc and his pals didn’t have grabby hands, thank God.

As her intro music began, Ms. Pousse-café lifted her chin, jerked her shoulders back, and strutted her stuff on stage.

Let the show begin.

 

***

I cannot tell you guys how much fun I’m having with this story, and what’s coming next. I’m working with a brand new support team, and we’re all so excited to bring you guys SEAN and Katherine’s stormy tale.

Next up, Wednesday’s Ludlow Hall Hump Day Sneak Peek of Ludlow Life…. and it’s a doozy.

Hugs,

Christine X

 

 

 

A NEW BOOK – OR IS IT?

Greetings everyone.

As many of you know I write a futuristic paranormal series, The Vampyre Legal Chronicles.  Last year I had a lengthy discussion with my editors on the way forward and where the series was going and we realised that the two stories already published needed to be expanded to take into account the futuristic world I was building and scenes re-written. So we took the books down from all distributors.

I’ve spent the last nine months re-writing and expanding all the books and very soon will have three full length stories. Yay!!! The plan is to have nine books in this series and I’m taking all y’all on a roller-coaster ride from the present day into the future. And that’s all I’m saying! I’m so excited about this project.

Here’s the blurb and the cover reveal!

THE VAMPYRE LEGAL CHRONICLES

BOOK ONE – MARCUS

 

 

Get ready to enter the world of The Vampyre Legal Chronicles. A world that’s a wondrously realized magical reality, where dark heroes fight to protect the women they love, and us.
Get ready to take part in a battle without end.
Get ready to escape…

Take one broodingly hot vampyre. Add one gorgeous New Born. And this is just the beginning…

Anais Walker has one passion – Law.

And one goal – a glittering career with Gillespie, Pattullo & Hindmarch.

Success is so close she can taste it.

Until a lamentable slip of concentration jeopardises a billion dollar deal with the Chinese in Shanghai.

Is Anais about to lose it all?

Famously ruthless corporate lawyer Marcus Gillespie has two secrets.

He’s a Vampyre Prince.

And after two hundred and thirty years he’s found the woman for him.

She’s beautiful, smart and with a body to die for. After six months of mentoring Anais, the time has come to move her from the boardroom to the bedroom. And when Anais makes a costly mistake, Marcus has the gorgeous lawyer just where he wants her…

But although passions run hot in the bedroom, Anais refuses to give her heart or commit to a future not of her choosing. When an ancient enemy arrives in Shanghai with bad news, Marcus finds himself in a race against time not only to win her heart, but her life…

marcus1 copy

The release date is 28th March!

Christine X 

SURPRISE LUDLOW HALL CHRISTMAS STORY RELEASED TODAY

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Click on the links to buy here:

AMAZON USA  AMAZON UK  iBOOKS USA  iBOOKS UK  SMASHWORDS   BARNES AND NOBLE

 

Greetings of the season to one and all!

So, I was writing the first story of my new Ludlow Hall franchise called LUDLOW NIGHTS, His Rules, when I noticed more than few messages from readers asking me if I was writing a Ludlow Hall Christmas story for them. Initially, my response was ‘No’ because I didn’t have time. And then I thought, ‘To hell with it. I’ll write them a story.’ And here it is! I outlined Marc’s story about six months ago and decided to use his character for a Christmas tale. I LOVED writing about bad boy made good Marc Atelier, head of security for the Ferranti Group. And head receptionist of Ludlow Hall, Elena Margaret Mary Kennedy, the youngest of seven siblings and the only girl. As she says herself, Elena runs her department with the light touch of a feather duster, she’s my kind of girl. AND it was a good way for me to introduce the Kennedy family to readers! Yes, there will a lot more to come from this family. And I can hear the cheers from here.

Here’s the blurb:

SPEND CHRISTMAS AT LUDLOW HALL AND AS FANS OF THIS SERIES WILL TELL YOU, THERE’S NEVER A DULL MOMENT!
 AT CHRISTMAS, THERE’S NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN FAMILY
 
 
Charismatic Marc Atelier, head of security of the Ferranti Group, has arrived at Ludlow Hall hot on the trail of a corporate spy.
Yet, from the moment he focused his intense blue eyes on head receptionist, Elena Kennedy, neither of them can deny the heat of an attraction that’s about to burn out of control.
 
But there’s more to Elena than meets the eye… And Marc likes what he sees…a lot.
I hope you enjoy the story!
And I

want to wish all y’all Happy Holidays!
Hugs,
Christine XX

IT’S A NEW DAWN, IT’S A NEW DAY, IT’S A NEW LIFE………

COVER REVEAL

COVER REVEAL

Hi guys,

As many of you know, my mom passed away very suddenly this year.
Which meant everything creatively went all to hell in a hand basket. The grand plan had been that Desert Orchid would be out by February, followed by The Fall of Jacob Del Garda. Well, the plan had to be re-jigged and put aside. But today I can give you the Desert Orchid cover reveal. The story is in final proofing. And when it goes live in the stores I will be sharing the links and sending out newsletters.

But before the worst happened, I’d been approached by a bunch of crazy romance authors to be a part of their Invitation To Eden continuity series. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to work with Avery Aster, Lauren Hawkeye, Steena Holmes, Jennifer Probst, Suzanne Rock, Tawny Stokes. Julia Kent, Adriana Hunter, Ava Conway, Sharon Page, Kathryn Fox, Eliza Gayle, Daire St. Dennis, Carly Phillips, Erika Wilde, Mari Carr, Roni Loren, Opal Carew, Lauren Jameson, Vivi Anna, Joey W. Hill, Sarah Castille, R.G. Alexander, Jessica Clare, Eden Bradley, Delilah Devlin, Kimberley Kay Terry, Marian Tee.

My story DELICIOUS AND DEADLY is up in December, but I’m ‘hoping’ for it to go live on pre-order in September. The first Invitation To Eden story – Master Of The Island is free and the first three books are out now (links below). There will be three linked stories out each month until December. And just let me say that these girls know how to paaaaaarty!

Here are all the covers and don’t they look fabulous?

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Last year it was all about angst and sexual tension in romance novels, with both Hopeless by Colleen Hoover and Entwined with You by Sylvia Day topping the lists. But Spring calls for new books to load up your Kindle.

Culled from hundreds of titles I asked today’s bestselling authors what novels they’re not only personally reading but recommending to their inner circle of besties. These are the industries most anticipated MUST READ BOOKS for the Spring and Summer. Whether you want to laugh till you cry, find a new poolside page-turner or get turned on and ahem…’ya know, these delicious love stories deliver the goods in all the right places and just at the right time…when you need it most.

top 20 must reads

#MustRead #JustReleased #OneClick

One click via Amazon with each book that interests you by tapping on the cover. Go on! After you’ve stocked up ENTER THE RAFFLE at the bottom of this post to win cash, prizes and author swag.

FREE READ. Download it already!

“Jet off to Eden with me and my Manhattanites for new adult fun,” says Taddy Brill. 😉

If ‘ya need some extra lovin’!

Curvaceous gets her dark & mysterious…

Continue reading

WELL WORTH THE WAIT – BLOOD ROSES

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Well, hell, this book kept me up all night!

As readers of this blog know, I rarely post a book review UNLESS I simply cannot help but do so.

I first came across the Gothic Paranormal Blackthorn series, Blood Roses, by the awesome Lindsay J. Pryor, chapter 1, during the Mills & Boon New Voices competition of 2010 – THREE years ago. Then she made it into the next stage and we got chapter 2. Then she reached the final four and we got the pivotal moment. So I waited and I waited and I waited for Mills & Boon or some other publisher to wake-up and smell the roses, but things don’t work like that.

Then Lindsay entered Blood Shadows – another book in the series – in the same competition in 2011 and, with the guidance of the fabulous Michele Hauf, reached the final four AGAIN. By this time I was certain, as were about four thousand+ readers that Lindsay would get picked up by a publisher, but no. Then Oliver Rhodes of Bookouture stepped up to the plate and bought the first three books! Thank God. You can find my first review of the first book in the Blackthorn series, Blood Shadows, HERE.

Book two of the series, Blood Roses is out now and rocking Gothic Paranormal fans here’s the blurb:

A rare and powerful witch whose blood is lethal to vampires, Leila has always viewed her serryn abilities as a curse. After seeing her mother slaughtered as a child, Leila longs for a safe, quiet life.

That wish is shattered by Caleb Dehain – a vampire with a dark past and an even darker heart. The most feared serryn hunter of his generation, Caleb now needs the help of one of the very witches he despises to save his dying brother.

A serryn who has no reason to help him. Except that he has her sister.

Caleb and Leila are each others’ worst nightmare – but the slow-burning spark of attraction between them is undeniable. Will Leila’s blood be his damnation? Or could her kiss be his salvation?

****

Last night – instead of editing The Trouble With Coco Monroe (thank you very much, Lindsay) – I started reading Blood Roses. I don’t know about you, but I tend to keep books I know I’ll enjoy sort of in my favourite box for when I need an illicit treat, almost like eating my favourite box of Belgian chocolates and not sharing any. I’ve been feeling this way about Blood Roses since I bought it, but last night I broke down and started to read it. I didn’t get to sleep until 3.30am – thank you, Lindsay! And here’s my review from the notes I made as I went through it.

“The writing is so visual, almost lyrical, that if it was about comparing the work to an artist I’d call it a Constable. I loved it.

The vampire Caleb Dehain, a tortured hero if every there was one, is so well written he does more than leap off the page. He embeds himself into our psyche. And the heroine Leila, a very special witch with her own secrets, is more than a match for Caleb. The sibling dynamic between Caleb’s brother Jake and Leila’s sister is well thought out and very real. Nothing worse than family for screwing up a person’s life and bringing forth the end of the world. And the story begins with the heroine prepared to put aside her deeply held beliefs, values and ethics to enter the vampire world of Blackthorn to help her sister. And Caleb does the same for his brother. And right there, even though the hero and heroine are sworn enemies from a different species, the protection of family is the common goal, neither acknowledged or admitted by either one.

One of the things I dislike about reading and writing a review is the temptation to give away back story, plot and spoilers, so I’m not going to do that. What I will say is that this a truly Gothic and claustrophobic read. The dark, dank and dangerous world of Blackthorn is painted with fluidly visual strokes of language. Loved it. The protagonists are on the page twenty-four seven and every second is a battle of wills to the death. Pryor pulls of this epic tale very, very well indeed and I was thoroughly immersed in the world from the first word. Great job. The love scenes are scorching, physically intense with valid emotional conflicts. And as a writer I know how difficult it is to pull that particular talent out of the hat – it’s done seamlessly. I loved it.

As with Blood Shadows  (click on the title to go straight to Amazon to grab a copy, it’s on a deal now!!!) we do have a satisfying ending, with plenty more conflicts to come. I for one cannot wait for book three Blood Torn due in Autumn 2013.

And Oliver Rhodes has done a brilliant job, again. Take a bow!

If you love Christine Feehan and JR Ward, you’ll love the work of Lindsay J. Pryor.

By the way, she’s absolutely NO idea I’ve read the book or written this review.

Hehehe! I LOVE surprises.

And here’s Lindsay herself trying to look witchy. Nope. I go for angel, babe!

Lindsay J. Pryor. I think she looks like the girl on the cover!

Lindsay J. Pryor. I think she looks like the girl on the cover!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I see a TV/Film in this series future.

Reserve me a place in the front seats on the red carpet!

Christine XXX

DESERT ORCHID – Coming early 2014 – Get the skinny here

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Here’s the prototype cover for my stand-alone adventure romance coming early 2014.

Here’s the short blurb and back page blurb:

Think Memoirs of a Geisha meets Taken.

…An Arabian Queen must marry a wild, wicked and wilful Desert Prince to save her people from civil unrest and protect the wealth of her Kingdom…Charisse never expected to find love…But events in her tragic past threaten to destroy not only her Kingdom but her life too…Can their fragile love survive…

He didn’t want a country. He didn’t want a wife. He wanted whisky. And he wanted to forget.

Charisse El Haribe is committed to her adopted country. But after her husband’s death covetous eyes are turned towards the vast untapped mineral wealth of Onnur. The country’s only hope is for her to marry her husband’s nephew, the wild, wicked and womanizing Prince Khalid El Haribe.

To make amends to his family and to assuage his guilt for the death of his sister, Prince Khalid El Haribe agrees to marry his late uncle’s widow and to reign over the small state of Onnur. However, he’s stunned to find his intended is young, intelligent and beautiful.Their attraction is instant and burns too hot.

But a nightmare from Charisse’s past returns and threatens to destroy not only her, but the man and the country she loves.

Christine x