I’ve crawled out of my sick bed to bring you this week’s sneak peek a day late. I’m painting a red cross on our front door. Three of us are down with ‘flu, full blown and horrible. Forgive any errata. My brain is fried.
With Alexander as his wingman, Nico’s driving his glossy black Range Rover doing daddy duty. He’s going through a mental check list to make sure he’s not missed anything. The guys have had a busy and productive day. Signed a new deal with the Spanish Ortiz hotel group—check. Then they hit Ludlow Hall’s gym and treadmills to see who’d complete five miles first, Alexander won by a hair—check. Pick up Tonio from after-school science club—check. Swing past a birthday party (another one) to pick up Sophia and Emily—check. Now, they’re on their way to The Dower House where Emily’s having a sleepover with her best friend.
While Alexander texts back and forth with Rosie who’s keeping Bronte company at The Dower House, Nico glances in the rear view mirror to eye the three remarkably silent children sitting in the backseat. Tonio’s eyes are drooping. The boy’s doing well at school and working hard, maybe too hard? Hmm. He’ll talk to Bronte. Little Emily’s big blue eyes are fixed with rapt attention on Tonio’s face. Dio mio, the child has a bad case of hero worship. He shrugs, such is life. Sophia stares unblinking out of the window as she watches the world go by. Hmm. His daughter’s been unusually quiet over the last couple of days. Maybe she’s sickening for something? On the whole, she has the constitution of an ox and avoids colds and sniffles, unlike her twin who’s in bed with an elevated temperature and sore throat.
“My mummy,” Emily begins in her high, girly voice, “says she simply adores baby Eve. She told my daddy the baby’s an absolute cutie pie, a little angel. Then she started to cry.”
This information rouses Tonio, who turns to her. “Why was she crying?”
“She can’t have anymore babies. After me, she had to have an emergency historectomy. Sometimes she gets sad. My daddy says we can try and adapt a baby who has no family.”
“Adopt,” Tonio says in a kind voice that pinks Emily’s cheeks.
In the front, Alexander slides an omigod look to Nico.
Sophia heaves a huge sigh. “There won’t be any more babies in our house,” she says in the tone of the prophet of doom. A tone which makes her uncle Alexander go utterly still.
Since this news is news to her papa, he asks in a soft voice, “Why do you say that, cara mia?”
Sophia makes a sad face as she stares out the window. “Because Auntie Rosie says I’m a complete and utter nightmare who’s driving my mama cray-cray. I know that means crazy.” The last part is spoken in a small whisper.
There is dead silence in the car.
Nico and Alexander’s eyes go huge as they stare unblinking at the winding road ahead. Nico opens his mouth, but Alexander places a hand on his arm, shakes his head. Meanwhile, little Emily takes Sophia’s hand in hers.
“My mummy says you have a clever and busy brain and that you’re a very good infloonce on me.”
Sophia turns emerald eyes on Emily. “What’s an infloonce?”
“I think she means influence,” Tonio says. He reaches out to tug gently on Sophia’s white-blonde ponytail. “To be a good influence is a great thing. It means you are beneficial for Emily in an important way.”
Paternal pride is his son makes Nico’s eyes sting.
“Christ,” Alexander mutters under his breath. “I need to do daddy duty with you more often. Are they always like this?”
Nico takes a deep breath. “Si. In this car, Auntie Rosie is often quoted chapter and verse.”
Alexander nods at the deadpan tone. His mouth goes hard. “Right. And not always in a good way?”
Nico makes a face. “Sometimes we adults forget that someone has very big ears.”
“I’ll talk to Rosie. She tends to run at the mouth at times.”
Meanwhile, after a busy day at The Dower House…
Dressed down in ankle length yoga pants and over sized sweatshirts, Bronte and Rosie kick back on the couch in the family/kitchen/living space. They’re sipping a cup of camomile tea as they await the arrival of the rest of the family. The sublime scent of a herby chicken roasting permeates the air. “At the very least, you should’ve let me peel the potatoes,” Rosie says, wiggling her toes inside thick socks. “Seriously, Mrs. Ferranti, don’t you ever get sick of yourself. You’re a real life Martha Stewart!”
Bronte grins. “Trust me, that woman’s got nuthin’ on me. I run my world like a well oiled machine. Today I replaced four empty toilet rolls. I am the backbone of this house. I’m like a domestic goddess.”
Rosie nods. “What is it with men and empty toilet rolls? How hard is it to take a fresh roll out of the basket we’ve kindly placed next to the holder (because I’ve taken a leaf out of your book and I’m a beyond awesome domestic goddess) and replace it? What is all that about?”
Bronte glances at the huge clock on the wall, fifteen minutes until she takes the chickens out of the oven. “It’s because their brain is busy with more important stuff, like making a living and keeping us supplied with a steady stream of disposable diapers.”
Rosie nods. “True. Very true.” She cocks her head at the sound of car wheels crunching gravel. “The boys are back. There goes peace, quiet and tranquillity.”
As the family troop in after leaving outdoor shoes in the boot room, Bronte and Tonio share a hug and a high five over a one hundred per cent math test. Nico drops a big smoochie on his wife’s curved mouth, pats her bottom, and heads for the fridge for two beers. Alexander plonks himself next to Rosie, grabs her in a hug. Then he cups her cheek to look deep into big brown eyes. “You got some, ‘splainin’ to do, Rosie.”
Rosie blinks. “What have I done?”
He nuzzles the delicate spot beneath her ear. “Later,” he whispers.
Rosie’s bemused frown turns to a grin when she spots Sophia. She holds out her arms for a hug. “How’s my favorite bad girl?” When Alexander hisses out a breath, she wonders what the hell his problem is.
Sophia climbs onto Auntie Rosie’s lap and turns to look up into her face. “Miss Brown says I’ve been a good girl.”
Rosie drops a kiss on her cheek. “Yeah? Bet that won’t last.”
Face pale, Sophia slips off Rosie’s lap and heads over to watch her mama place two chickens, their skin all golden and crispy, onto a huge serving platter. Since she’s greeting Emily, Rosie misses the quick glance between Nico and Alexander.
Bronte crouches to give her daughter, and then Emily, a hug. “Did you have a good time at the party? I hope you didn’t eat too much candy.”
Emily shakes her head, while Sophia rattles her paper goodie bag. “Uh huh. Me and Emily didn’t eat any candy. We’re good girls.”
Bronte gives her big eyes, drops a kiss on her daughter’s blonde head. “Sure you are. Long may it last. Go up and wash your hands and don’t go near Luca, I don’t want either of you catching his cold.”
Sophia opens her mouth to speak, but her mama’s very busy cooking dinner. Emily slips her hand in hers. “Come on, Sophia,” she says in her gentle voice.
Nico waits until the girls have gone up the stairs. He moves to close the kitchen door, then turns to his wife. “That was very badly done, cara mia,” he says, anger ripe in his deep, growly voice.
Since it’s not a tone he uses often with her, Bronte’s jaw drops. “Excuse me? What have I done?”
“You made Sophia sad,” he says.
“And, it’s all your fault,” Alexander says severely to a wide-eyed Rosie.
Bronte looks at Rosie. Rosie looks at Bronte. Both utterly confused and bemused at an attack that’s apparently come out of nowhere.
Bronte walks up to her husband, gets into his personal space. “Perhaps both of you would stop talking in riddles and explain to us exactly what we’ve done?”
“Both of you need to take care what you say in front of Sophia. Haven’t you noticed she has been quiet over the past couple of days?”
“Yup.” Alexander backs his best friend. He turns to his wife. “And you, motormouth, are the biggest offender. In the car, Emily mentioned the fact that at times her mum cries because she can’t have more babies. Sophia says, and I quote, ‘There won’t be any more babies in our house.’ When Nico asked her why she’d say such a thing, Sophia says, and again I quote, ‘ Because Auntie Rosie says, ‘I’m a complete and utter nightmare who’s driving my mama cray-cray. I know that means crazy.’ Honest to God, Rosie, the way she whispered the words broke my heart. Then she tells you and Bronte that she’s been a good girl, even Miss Brown says so. And you ridicule her.” Alexander turns to his white-faced sister. “And you’re just as bad. Can’t you see the kid’s hurt and upset?”
Appalled she’s hurt a child she loves with her whole heart, Rosie turns to a stony-faced Nico. “But, I don’t mean it. You know I adore her. She’s a pistol with the heart of a warrior woman.”
Bronte shifts to sit next to Rosie on the couch. “I thought we’d cured her of listening in to adult conversations, apparently I’m wrong. She heard a small part of what we said.”
“Si. But that is not the point, is it? If we continue to box her into a corner about her spirit and labelling her behaviour we will end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Nico turns to a pale and emotional Rosie. “She quotes you chapter and verse, whether it’s about my ‘love muscle’ or how girls will fall in love with Tonio, like his papa. Great care must be taken when we speak. Sophia is like a human sponge.”
Rosie stands, her hands tremble as she clears her throat. “I’ll go up to her. I’m so sorry, Nico. I promise I’ll fix this.”
As Rosie leaves the room, Nico runs a hand through his hair, around his neck. “Dio, I have upset her.”
Alexander stretches out long legs, takes a sip of his beer. “She’ll be fine. I’ll have a heart to heart with her at home.”
Bronte shakes her head. “She’s not the only one responsible. I need to bite my tongue, too.”
Nico’s grey eyes met hers. “We must applaud good behaviour as well as nailing naughty behaviour. To test boundaries is part of Sophia’s personality and intelligence. We cannot go from one extreme to the other. We need a consistent response. My daughter is not a running joke.”
Meanwhile, Rosie, Emily and Sophia are having a moment…
On her knees next to the Cinderella coach bed, Rosie holds Sophia’s favourite doll, a battered Raggedy Ann. “I remember the day I bought you this doll. You were six months old and sound asleep in your cot. When you woke up you fell in love with her. Just the way I fell in love with you the very first time I held you in my arms. Did I ever tell you about the time I first met you?”
Sitting crossed leg on her bed, with Emily sprawled on her belly next to her, Sophia’s eyes are glued to her Auntie Rosie’s face. Sophia shakes her head. “What was I like?”
Rosie smiles at the memory. “I knew your mama and papa had a baby boy. So I’d arrived at the hospital with a huge balloon and a blue teddy bear. Papa was looking out the window and mama was holding Luca. First thing I did was to wash my hands to kill any germs. Then your papa turned and you were in his arms. I’ve never been so shocked in my whole life. They’d kept you a big secret. You and Luca were the most beautiful babies I’ve ever seen. I took you in my arms and your tiny fingers clutched my thumb and that was it. I was in love. And each and every day I love you more and more.”
Rosie finds her arms full of an emotional Sophia. “I love you, too, Auntie Rosie.”
After a group hug fest, Rosie shifts to sit back on her heels. She takes the hand of each girl. “Thing is, none of us are perfect. We do our best to be kind, but sometimes we hurt people without meaning to. But I want you to know one very important thing. Never, ever, change who you are because you are scared to make a mistake. Mistakes help us understand where we go wrong and learn to do better. Do you get what I’m saying?”
Sophia’s smooth brow creases as she thinks about it. “No.”
Rosie nods, wonders why the hell she didn’t say it straight out in the first place. “When you heard me say that there won’t be more babies in this house because you’re a nightmare…”
Sophia shifts to go nose to nose with her Auntie Rosie. “No. You said, a complete and utter nightmare who drives my mama cray-cray…”
Rosie frowns. “Sheesh. You have a memory like an elephant. Except you didn’t hear EVERYTHING I said, did you?” She gives Sophia an Eskimo nose kiss.
“What else did you say?” Sophia wants to know, her green eyes wide.
“That I hope my Mila grows up to be just like her cousin Sophia, a warrior-princess.”
Emily claps her hands, and beams at Sophia. “A warrior-princess? That is sooooo cool.”
Sophia’s cheeks go pink with delight, and her Auntie Rosie’s heart fills with relief when she recognizes the return of the spark in her niece’s bright eyes. “What does a warrior-princess do?” Sophia wants to know.
Rosie opens her mouth to say ‘you’ll rule the world, kiddo’, then closes it with a snap. “She spreads kindness everywhere.”
The girls blink. “Won’t I at least have a magic sword like Xena?” Sophia demands.
“A warrior-princess does not believe in violence,” Auntie Rosie says as she gets to her feet to head for the door to get the hell out of Dodge. This parenting gig’s a minefield.
Ten minutes later,Tonio pokes his head around Sophia’s bedroom door. He enters and bounds onto the bed.
“Mama and papa have closed the kitchen door, which means someone’s in trouble.” He eyes Sophia. “What have you done?”
“Sophia’s a warrior-princess,” Emily says in her high, breathy voice. Her blue eyes fill with love and adoration as she stares up into Tonio’s handsome face. “Except she doesn’t get to have a magic sword like Xena.”
Tonio bounces once on the bed to leap to the floor where he does a body roll to his feet. “Sophia won’t need a magic sword,” he says with a certainty that has the girls gaze at him with big eyes.
“How will I be a warrior-princess without a sword?” Sophia wants to know with relentless logic.
Tonio’s smile flashes white and bright. “Easy. You are Italian!”
Ah, we all need to be true to ourselves.
Next up, on Friday we have a very French and very naughty Golddigger and a big sexy beast. I had the best time writing PEARL’S story.
Happy Monday, my lovelies!
This house has been hit by a winter cold bug. It’s not been pretty, but I struggle on. Brain fog hit my creativity for a few days. Soooo frustrating. But, I’m back with a vengeance. Here’s Bronte and Emily’s mom, Grace, having fun with the children from hell.
The Dower House…
Dressed down in yoga pants and sweaters, Bronte and Emily’s mom, Grace, are enjoying an afternoon coffee, while their daughters are playing ‘princesses’ in Sophia’s room. At least, that’s what they think their daughters are doing…
“How’s Jimmy Chew settling in?” Grace asks Bronte.
Bronte grins at a Grace who’s refusing to relinquish a snoozing baby Eve. The baby adores cuddles. “Now we’ve nipped in the bud Sophia feeding him human food, he’s doing well.”
Grace rolls blue eyes, shakes her head. “I don’t know what it is about men and kids, but they can’t seem to help feeding a puppy treats.”
“Actually, the boys have been great. Lucky for me, neither of them give me a moments worry, unlike my eldest daughter,” Bronte says, deadpan.
“She’s a determined girl,” Grace agrees.
Bronte makes a face. “She’s a chip off the old block, her father’s daughter.”
“Sophia’s incredibly good for Emily. Brings her out of her shell.”
“Hmm. Nico and I are praying Emily’s calm common sense rubs off on her.”
Grace drops a soft kiss on Eve’s inky curls. “You’ll have no problems with this one. She’s adorable.”
Bronte’s mouth curves and her emerald eyes go soft. “She’s an angel. More coffee?”
Meanwhile, upstairs in Sophia’s room…
Dressed in pale blue tulle and wearing a yellow feather boa around her neck, Emily sits cross-legged on Sophia’s princess coach bed. She drops a kiss on each head as she cuddles the two boneless pooches passed-out on her lap. “I like the pink tiara best,” she says to a Sophia whose bottom’s up as she rummages in her dressing up box for her special magic wand. “It goes with your pearl beads.”
Sophia emerges, clutching a plastic pink wand with a wonky silver star glued to the tip. She flicks the wand and then points it to the dogs. “Take two dogs and two frogs to bind them well, jim jam jog, abracadabra, we’ve got a magic spell…” She waves her wand around with a huge flourish. Nothing happens.
Emily shrugs, her big eyes anxiously fixed on the dogs. “Well, thank goodness that one didn’t work. I hate frogs,” she says in her high girly voice. She shifts on the bed. The movement disturbs Bubblegum and Jimmy Chew who stretch hugely. They cock their heads when they hear giggling from Tonio’s bedroom. The dogs leap to the floor and trot out the door.
“Hmm,” Sophia says as straightens the corners of the star on her wand. Her pink tiara sits at a crazy angle on her ash blonde head. Her bedroom smells of cherry lollipops and cheap scent donated by Emily’s mama. When she hears more insane giggling from her brother’s bedroom room, she jerks her chin. “Tonio and Luca are up to something. Let’s go.”
The girls clomp in a pair of their mama’s high heels down the corridor to Tonio’s bedroom and arrive in time to see Jimmy Chew barking at something hidden behind Luca’s back.
“What are you doing?” Sophia asks her twin.
Luca gives her huge brown eyes. “Nuthin’. We’re doing nuthin’.”
Tonio clears his throat, grabs a Spiderman pillow from his bed and dumps it behind Luca’s back. “You cannot come in here without permission,” he says in a severe voice to the girls.
Sophia’s eyes narrow on two guilty faces and a Jimmy Chew who’s sniffing behind Luca’s back. “It’s my house. I can go where I like, when I like. What’s behind the pillow?”
“Nuthin’ to do with you, nosy knickers,” Luca says rudely.
When Bubblegum begins to growl and yap at Luca, Emily kicks of her heels and goes to rescue her dog who’s trying to dive beneath the pillow. When she sees what’s behind Luca, her little face goes pale and she slaps her hand over her mouth.
“What is it?” Sophia says. She kicks off her heels and joins her friend. Her face goes milk white…
Meanwhile, downstairs in the family room…
The sound of dog howls and ear piercing screams have Bronte and Grace on their feet to race up the stairs. They burst into Tonio’s room. The boys are pale and wide-eyed. Sophia and Emily clutch each other as they dance on the spot and scream at the top of their lungs. The dog’s growls have Bronte clapping her hands.
“What on earth is the matter?!” Bronte yells at the top of her voice.
A sobbing Emily is in her mother’s arms.
Sophia dances on the spot, her emerald eyes huge. “I did a spell, mama. A frog spell. And it’s come true,” she cries.
“Don’t be silly,” Bronte says.
But Grace’s eyes are like saucers when she clocks what Tonio lifts up his pillow. “Omigod! What on earth is that?”
Bronte shifts Tonio out of the way. Her jaw drops when she sees what he’s hiding. It’s an insect ‘house’ filled with leaves and twigs. “Tonio Ferranti! What on earth is that bug barn doing in my house?” She moves closer, and something inside the bug barn moves. It’s black. It’s huge. And it has long legs. A horrible shiver runs down her spine. “Is that… is that… a spider?”
Not many things give Bronte Ferranti the heebies, but a black spider the size of her fist is one of them.
Tonio heaves a huge sigh and shares a what’s-the-big-deal look with his brother. “Si. I am feeding the frog.”
Bronte clutches her chest. “FROG?!” she screeches at the top her voice.
A sound that makes the dogs bark even louder.
When a huge green toad moves in the bug barn, Grace shrieks at the top of her voice as she hugs a crying Emily and Sophia.
Meanwhile, Nico strolls into the kitchen-family room to find his baby daughter sleeping in her playpen with her blankie. His eyes go wide at the sound of yapping dogs, the high voices of his children, and his beloved bellowing at the top of her voice. He heads for the stairs.
As he pokes his head around the door of the room at the centre of all the fuss, Tonio’s bedroom, he takes in the scene. Dio mio. Seems Tonio has his bug barn in the house. Luca’s bottom lip is trembling. Grace clutches Sophia and Emily to her breast as if saving them from shark infested waters. Bronte’s hands are on her hips, her legs spread and she’s ringing a peal over Tonio’s head.
“Out! Out! OUT!” she cries. “And do not dare bring frogs or spiders or any living thing into this house.”
Tonio makes a face, but he carries the bug barn past a Bronte who takes a step back to give it a very wide berth. “It is only a little frog and one measly spider,” he mutters. Then he stops dead when he spots Nico. “Hey, papa.”
“What is going on?”
“It’s cold outside. We just want to help the frog,” Luca says as the boys troop past him and down the stairs.
Nico gives Bronte big eyes. “Frog?”
Bronte shivers dramatically. “Ugh. Don’t ask. What is it with boys and creepy crawlies?”
Nico flashes a white smile upon all the females in the room. “They are male. They are Italian!”
Many moons ago, when we lived in Nairobi, my son had a bug barn. We’d no idea he was keeping it in his bedroom. He was feeding a gecko bugs of every description. I’m not ashamed to say my screams were blood curdling and could be heard for miles.
Thank you so much for sharing the Golddigger love. This Friday we have the release of Golddigger short story number five, RUBY. And the girl is a pistol. I had the best time writing the story of two incredibly stubborn people. Falling in love can be crazy making and scary. Can Andre win the beautiful Ruby’s heart?
You can grab the story on pre-order on the links below.
Greetings, my lovelies!
I bet you’re all pleased it’s Friday and time for another Golddigger short story extravaganza. Thank you so much for the Golddigger love. I appreciate the messages and feedback so much. My readers seriously rock.
Today it’s the turn of SUKKI. I had the best time writing this one. The hero, Jon Castro, is desperate to make amends for past wrongs. Will he convince Sukki to give him another chance? And if he does, will they live happy ever after? Grab the story and see.
“Once upon a time there was a beautiful and sweet but dirt poor girl who met a wealthy guy with the world at his feet. Against the odds, they fell madly in love. But the guy was a complete dick and broke the girl’s heart.
My name’s Jon Castro. I’m a top ball player and I’m the dick.
The girl’s name is Sukki Silver. These days she’s a Golddigger. A fully paid-up member of the top burlesque troupe in the world. Yep, seems my sweet girl didn’t wallow for long in heartbreak and misery. In the time we’ve been apart, she’s moved on to carve herself a wonderful career, while I did my level best to destroy mine.
If you haven’t already guessed, I’ve had issues to work through. I say had because over the last two years I’ve been forced to deal with the emotional crap that kept me trapped in a past I found I can’t out-drink or outrun.
Basically I had two choices, deal or die. I chose to deal.
Now I’m in a better place, as part of my treatment is to atone for my many sins. To reach that goal I want Sukki back where she belongs — with me. Trouble is, she isn’t giving me the time of day. Who can blame her? See, love’s a tricky thing. Seems a man doesn’t choose not to love someone. The heart wants what the heart wants.
And this dick is back, and I’m gonna go down on my knees to make amends. Have you heard the phrase ‘talk’s cheap’? I agree with the sentiment, which means actions speak louder than words. It’s actions Sukki needs from me. Will she give me a chance? Who knows? Nothing’s ever certain in life, but by God I’m gonna fight for her…
Wish me luck.”
Next up, pre-order links for RUBY and PEARL. Two girls who know what they want out of life.
And on Monday, it’s another slice of Ludlow life, and we have tiaras, tantrums, and screaming good fun with the Ferranti family.
Happy Friday, you wonderful readers!
All ready for the weekend?
We have Guy Fawkes lighting up clear frosty skies across the land over the next couple of days. Lucky for us we can sit cozy and warm in the conservatory and watch the fireworks.
There’s plenty of fireworks in store with the next stand alone Golddigger instalment out today. Man, oh man. Miss Millie is a modern day Calamity Jane in stiletto’s and corsets who knows how to make a certain man weak at the knees. Which is all very well, but is she prepared to forgive him? Hmm. Read on and find out.
My lovely Australian readers are incredibly thoughtful. They read Millie yesterday and spent hours teasing and torturing their reader friends in the UK and the USA until the story went live. You guys are crazy in a good way. I like that about you.
Here’s Millie’s blurb:
“Money. Fame. Success.
Honey, I’m a GOLDDIGGER.
I’m truly walkin’ in high cotton.
I have it all.
Sure, I’ve gone through real hard times and made mistakes along the way.
I’m not a perfect person.
But success comes with a price.
Seems I have a stalker.
Since I’m his object of desire, the notes detailing what he’s gonna do to me have gotten everyone from the police to my boss’s knickers in a knot.
You might ask, am I scared?
’Scuse me, sistas. I’m from Texas. I learned to shoot a gun before I could walk.
A nut job don’t worry me none.
Remember I mentioned a past mistake?
Well, the mistake just walked through the door.
Cole Buchanan’s always been too good looking with a hot bod and sultry bedroom eyes. Once upon a time, Cole and I did a lot of messin’ up the straw in my daddy’s hayloft.
These days, he’s an ex-navy seal, runs a personal protection business, and looks like a man straight out of central casting for the Men in Black, complete with the shades and piss poor attitude.
And he’s here to protect me.
(Hang on a minute while I stop laughing).
But then a tragic secret from the past comes back to bite my ass, and both our lives are changed…
Thank you so much for sharing the Golddigger love, and the fabulous reviews. I’m thrilled you’re enjoying these short stories as much as I enjoyed writing them.
Up next week is SUKKI. Bless her. She’s Birdie’s favourite.
Happy Monday, awesome peeps!
The sun is shining. The weather man’s crystal ball reckons frosts and crisp grass is coming in my future. I love this time of year. In this business, things ebb and flow. Seems this author is in a state of flow. Long may it last.
Here’s the latest family saga with Nico, Bronte and their family, which has a new member.
Do I hear an ‘Awwwwww’ for Jimmy Chew. Get it?
It’s Saturday morning in the family-kitchen at The Dower House…
Dressed in soft jeans and their favorite T-shirts, the kids are busy completing homework tasks at the kitchen table. Tonio helps Luca with basic math. He’s doing a great job. Bronte checks the message from Nico on her cell phone, bites back a smile. Her heart melts at the picture he’s sent. Aww, how cute. How gorgeous. Her eyes mist as she taps out her response. Boy, oh boy. Her kids are gonna go absolutely mental when they see their papa’s surprise. Over the past couple of week they’d weighed up the pros and cons. The decision is made. The Ferranti’s are about to have a new addition to their family.
“Have you tidied your bedrooms?” she asks. Heads lift showcasing three guilty faces. Again, she bites back a smile. Little monkeys. “Well, I suggest you get right on it. I want every single piece of Lego in the box, Luca Ferranti.”
Her beloved boy makes a horrible face. His dark curls bounce as he shakes his head. “But, mama. I’m building a space station.”
“Then use the table and not the floor. Papa hurt his foot this morning,” Bronte says. And the air had turned blue with a roar of expletives in rough Italian. Words which made Tonio run for cover.
Tonio grins at the memory. “Si. He was so mad.”
“He was hopping on one foot. He said bad words,” Sophia says, tossing her papa under the bus. She closes her spelling book, tucks her pencil in her beloved Frozen pencil case with a picture of Anna on the front. Bronte reckons her daughter and her best pal must have watched the movie hundreds of times and never tire of singing the songs.
“Hmm,” Bronte says, eyeing Sophia. “Last time I looked you had the entire contents of your dressing up box all over the carpet, including play makeup. I want everything put away nice and tidy in the right places. Capisce?”
Sophia lifts her chin. “You are not Italian.”
Sophia’s emerald eyes dance as her mama bends to go nose to nose with her. “I’ll have you know, Missy, I am an honorary Italian and that makes me very speshul. And since I am the boss around here, you will jump to it!” She plants a kiss on her daughter’s little snub nose.
Sophia grins and rolls her eyes. “Okay. Okay. Do we get a treat for tidying our rooms?” she asks, as usual pushing her luck with her mama.
Bronte fold her arms and gives a grinning Tonio, Luca and Sophia big wide eyes. “Well, you’ll never know until you do it, will you?”
“Are you gonna give us another room inspection?” Luca growls, remembering what happened the last time his room failed a spot inspection by Nico. No candy for a whole week.
Bronte checks the time on the clock on the wall. “Well, you have exactly twenty minutes before the Big Boss arrives home, so if I were you I’d make the most of the time instead of standing here debating with me.”
As her children slink out of the room, she shakes her head. Good God, a snail with a limp moves faster than those three. When she has the room to herself, she grins as she dances a merry jig on the spot. Omigod, they are going to go crazy. She can’t wait for Nico to arrive home with his precious little package.
Twenty minutes later…
The sound of a car on gravel has Bronte slip on her shoes and head for the kitchen door. Nico exits his shiny black Range Rover. When he spots her, his smile is wide and wicked.
He cranes his neck to look beyond her. “Where are they?”
“Tidying their rooms. You’d have thought I was sending them down a coal mine as slave labor.”
His laugh makes her smile. Then her smile goes all soft and trembly as Nico lifts the pet carrier from the passenger seat. Inside the box a beautiful little face peeks out at her and sniffs Nico’s fingers as he opens the lid and lifts out the most gorgeous ball of fluff she has ever seen.
Bronte’s fingertips press on her lips. “Oh, Nico, he is the cutest thing. Our very own Bacon Freeze.”
“Si,” Nico grins as the tiny ball of fluff licks his neck and chin. “He is eight months old, house trained, and smart. The shelter staff are sad to see him go.” He places the wriggling pup into Bronte’s outstretched arms.
“Poor baby,” she whispers as she presses soft kisses on the clipped fur. “Poor little thing.”
Nico’s face goes serious. “Si. His elderly owner had a heart attack and passed away. The puppy has been in the shelter for six weeks. He needs a home and plenty of love.”
“And who’s a beautiful boy, then?” she says to the delirious pup.
“Grazie, cara,” Nico says as he opens the trunk to remove a doggy bed, and box of essentials which include food and water bowls, toys, a selection of chews, dry dog food and a leash in bright red leather.
“I’m talking to the dog,” his wife says, tossing him a saucy look. “It’s been a long time since you were a boy.”
His response is to drop a hot kiss on her mouth. “You sit with him the family room. I’ll get the kids.”
She bites down hard on her bottom lip. “Nico, they are going to go nuts.”
“Si. I cannot wait.”
Meanwhile, Sophia is folding her dressing up clothes. Shoes and bags go in the big wooden box first. Then the dresses and then the accessories, as her auntie Rosie calls the myriad of plastic bracelets and necklaces and tiaras and magic wands. And while she’s at it, she lines up all her dolls on her bed. One has a plastic shoe missing, so she bellies beneath her bed to grab it. When she’s fitting the shoe to the foot, her papa pokes his head around the door.
“Sophia, cara. Mama wants you in the kitchen.”
“I’m nearly finished. Is this my room inspection?”
Nico cranes his neck around the door and scans the room. He holds out his hand for hers. “Good job.”
With Sophia’s hand in his, Nico enters Luca’s room to find him and Tonio flying the Millenium Falcon from Star Wars. “Come down stairs, mama has something for you,” he says to the boys.
Luca makes a face. “I haven’t finished yet.”
“Do it later,” Nico says, shocking both boys into silence. When have they ever been told to, ‘do it later’ when it came to cleaning their bedrooms? Never.
Luca shoots his papa a suspicious look. “Are we in trouble?”
Sheesh. How hard is it to get these kids down stairs for their surprise? Nico shakes his head. “No.”
“What is it then?” Luca asks in a sulky voice. The boys trail behind Nico and Sophia as they go down the stairs. “You’re acting funny.”
Nico turns to his youngest son. “How am I acting funny?”
“You’ve gotta funny look in your eye as if you’re gonna laugh or cry.”
By this time they’ve reached the door to the family-kitchen-living space. Bronte is sitting on the couch with the puppy on her lap. When Sophia makes a gasp, Nico releases her hand and grabs his phone from his jean pocket. Eyes like saucers, Sophia takes hesitant steps towards her mama, with a silent Tonio and Luca hot on her heels. Sophia drops to her knees.
“Who does it belong to?” she whispers, her little hand trembling as she strokes the soft, downy fur.
“He belongs to us,” her mama whispers, her emerald eyes swimming.
“He’s mine?” Sophia whispers.
“No,” her papa says. “He belongs to the Ferranti family, to everyone.”
“Wow,” Luca whispers. “If I’d known we were gonna get a puppy, I’d have tidied my room weeks ago.”
Tonio sinks to the edge of the couch and leans into Bronte. “He’s really cute. What’s his name?”
“Well, his previous owner called him Jimmy,” she says as she hands him the pup.
Sophia turns anxious eyes on her mama. “Why couldn’t they keep him?”
“His owner was very sick and couldn’t take care of him. He sadly passed away, so Jimmy needs a new home. What do you think, will we keep him here with us?”
All three children nod, and when Jimmy barks and wriggles to be free, they all laugh.
And so the Ferranti family have a new addition to the household.
“I think Jimmy’s a boring name,” Luca says, gently stroking the puppy.
Nico starts to laugh. “What’s so funny, papa?” Sophia says.
Nico moves to sit. He slides his arm around Bronte’s slim waist. “His full name is Jimmy Chew. And with mama’s love of shoes, I felt he was meant to belong to us.”
Bronte gives him big eyes. “I don’t believe it. You made that up.”
“No. I promise you. His owner named him Jimmy Chew because, like you, she adored Mr. Choo’s shoes.”
“Wow.” Bronte slides her arm around his waist and cosies in. “Rosie would say it’s karma, baby. Karma.”
“Si. I understand the workings of the Universe. I am Italian.”
Awwwwww. I want a Bacon Freeze (as Sophia calls a Bischon Frise). H says no because he’d be the one to do the walking and pooper scooper. But I still want one.
AND we have Golddigger book two, MILLIE, on Friday. Every Friday all the way up to Christmas you’ll have a 30-40 minute read (depending on how fast you get through it) Golddigger story to keep you going. I’m having the Best time writing these. They’re great fun, and I hope you enjoy them.
Love and hugs,
After over twelve months of planning, writing Sean and Katherine’s story, and getting all my ducks in a row in time for Christmas – it’s now time for the first of The GOLDDIGGERS short reads. Aw, girls, have I had fun with these! Up first, our Ellie, who stole my heart. I hope she steals your heart, too:
A weekly tale of love and lust best describes the brand new short romance reads from USAToday bestselling author CC MACKENZIE. Let’s face it sometimes we’re in a hurry or not in the mood for a committed book relationship, or a series. Sometimes we want it quick and fast, a bit like a book one-night-stand.
The stories are set in the world of Burlesque with glitter, love, desire, music and dance where girls tease and tantalize. The stories stand-alone, unrelated to the next, except they are set in the same world of the GOLDDIGGERS. And CC will release an original story on a Friday to get you in the mood for the weekend.
The GOLDDIGGERS series of thirty minutes of fun romance from CC MACKENZIE – for busy people everywhere – grab one now!
I sure didn’t intend to see him.
Or fall for him.
Or have anything to do with the mesmerizing Noah Blake.
Meeting him had been a complete and utter shock to the system, my reaction took me by surprise. In my line of work, I meet new people all the time and none of them impressed me the way Noah did. Isn’t that just typical in life? A girl can meet hundreds of people and they don’t touch her where it matters, but then she meets the one who means everything…
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Thing is, I’m a Golddigger, and proud of it. We make the Pussycat Dolls look like kittens. We work hard to achieve one goal, being the best. And to do that we do not need distractions like, for example, men. A Golddigger’s focus is on one thing, her performance. A Golddigger’s priority is the continued success of our Burlesque troupe. Thing is, I learned the hard way men didn’t like coming a poor second in a woman’s life. They appeared to be panic-stricken by a career driven, successful woman. I’ve been called “hard work,” “stroppy,” and “pigheaded.”
Like the rest of the Golddiggers, being free of emotional ties works well for me. Trust me, I had no long term plan to live happy-ever-after.
But then I met Noah.
And he stole my diamanté encrusted panties, and my whole world fell apart…
Aaaand in other news, the Vampyre Legal Chronicles has been ripping through the bestseller charts in Amazon USA, but also the iBOOKS Store USA. MARCUS was #1 in Paranormal and Romantic Comedy and #6 in the store overall. JAMES is #19 in the paid Paranormal category and DANIEL has just broken the top 100 in the paid store, too. Three books in the top 100 is a huge deal for me. I haven’t been there since 2013 with the first three of the Ludlow Hall books. I’m sharing yesterday’s screen shot of JAMES for posterity.
And don’t forget on Monday we have another peek into the life of the Ferranti Family, and a big surprise!
Sheesh. Am I busy, or am I busy…
Only seven days to go and ELLIE will be winging her way into your eBook/reading App. I cannot tell you how excited I am to bring you the first of eight 30-40 minute stories (depending on how fast you read). Each story is released every Friday to set you up for the weekend and well-earned ‘me’ time.
They are romances, heavy on comedy, focusing on the moment when two hearts beat as one. All the stories are set in the world of The Golddiggers, where Miz Birdie rules the roost. But, each romance is a standalone with no cliffhanger. They are the perfect length for the commute to work, or lunch break, or relaxing in the evening or weekend.
I can promise you lots of feel-good fun and laughter. And I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing these feisty ladies and the men who adore them.
And I have a Big Surprise coming in the next few weeks, but shh, don’t tell anyone.