by Tani Hanes
Genre: NA Romance
Release date: January 2019
When they meet, Pete is a student who needs a place to live, Daisy is a young woman in a family bind who needs a husband. She’s a bred and born New Yorker, he’s from the vineyards of Tuscany, but when they meet, sparks fly, as though they were meant to be. Follow our intrepid young couple as they navigate the treacherous waters of being newlyweds, new parents, and a vulnerable family unit trying to protect themselves and their children from the threats of an indifferent and sometimes cruel world.
"Uh, could I talk to mommy? Alone?" she asked hesitantly.
She looked at Pete to see the effect of her words. Pete blinked in surprise, leaning back a little. Clio had never asked such a thing before.
"I'm sorry," she apologized to Pete. She looked overwrought, as though she might burst into tears. "No, of course, it's okay," Pete told her, nodding for emphasis. He took the baby from his wife, seeing the love and sympathy in her eyes as he did.
When they were alone, Daisy leaned forward to stroke Clio's hair, pushing it away from her face. "What's going on, love?" she asked, smiling.
"Well," Clio began, taking a deep breath. "I was sitting in class today? Just listening?"
Daisy nodded, smiling encouragingly.
"And I just realized, right in the middle of Ms. Nina talking, that a bunch of the kids in my class are, uh, boys." Clio pretty much whispered the last word as though she were imparting a secret.
Daisy looked at her, trying to figure out what Clio meant. "Yes, they're boys, they're your classmates, they have been since kindergarten, right?" Daisy asked, confused. Clio shook her head impatiently. "No. I mean yeah, but-- you know how daddy has a--a penis?" Again, the last word was whispered.
Daisy smothered a smile and nodded.
"And so does Finn, you know?" Clio went on, looking intently at her mother.
"So, well, I was just sitting in class, like I always do, and I just realized, like out of nowhere, that all the boys in my class must have penises too!" Clio covered her mouth with both hands as she looked at her mother with horrified eyes.
Daisy again smothered a smile, ruthlessly clamping down on the huge laugh that she could feel bubbling up inside her.
"I mean, mommy, every boy in there must have one, right? Just hanging there, between their legs, while we listen to Ms. Nina?" Clio sounded like she was describing some awful nightmare.
Daisy swallowed, hard, trying so hard not just burst out laughing.
"So after that I just felt, you know, weird," Clio finished with another shrug. "I mean, I couldn't concentrate on anything, you know?" She looked at her mother for agreement and understanding. "I don't even get how all those boys could just sit there in class and act normal with that thing just, hanging there--"
"But Clio, surely you knew before today that all boys have them?" Daisy queried. "I mean, we've always been a pretty 'nakey' family, right? You've seen your daddy, and now baby Finn?" She pulled Clio to her in a lovely, scented hug.
But Clio was shaking her head. "I knew about it, mommy, but I never thought about it until now," she explained.
Now that she'd explained, Clio relaxed, and she and her mother held each other for a moment, just enjoying being close.
"Is that what they use?" Clio asked, her voice muffled from being pressed into Daisy's front. "Use?" Daisy asked.
"Yeah, when they, uh, help us get pregnant?" Clio looked up at her mother. "And when we bleed? Is it from that? Do they, you know, poke us or something?"
Daisy stroked Clio's hair as she shook her head.
"It's so easy for us to forget sometimes how young you are," she said, more to herself than to Clio. "You're so clever, so insightful and smart, but you're still only nine, you know?"
Clio nodded, grasping her mother firmly.
"Okay, Clio, my darling, my love," Daisy said. "When we bleed, it's because our bodies were preparing for a baby. It's called menstruating, or having a period. Every month or so, our bodies get all ready for an embryo, but usually there isn't one, so then we have to get rid of all that preparation, you see? Then we prepare again, and if there's no baby the next month, we get rid of it all over again."
She stroked Clio's hair and looked at her beautiful girl, with the brown eyes like jewels, and once again thanked the stars that she'd stupidly used no protection when she'd spent the night with Richard Hawkins all those years ago. Clio was nodding. "Yeah, I get it," she said. "That was the part I couldn't figure out, you know? About why sometimes
unfurrowed, and the line between them disappeared.
"So the bleeding thing, having a period, that's going to
happen to me someday?" she asked. Daisy could detect
no fear in her daughter's voice, only curiosity. "And Francie
and Brina and Lottie?"
"Well, it's different for different girls," Daisy answered honestly. "I think most girls mimic their mothers in that respect, but exercise and diet can play a part, too."
"When did you start?" Clio released her mother and sat back.
"I was thirteen," Daisy told her. "But you are way more active than I was, with all the swimming you do, so you might be even later."
Clio looked at her mother, and Daisy knew there was something more. She sat back and waited.
"You know, sometimes I like to be around them," Clio confessed. "Boys, I mean." And again, she put her hands up to her mouth.
Daisy smiled. "Yeah, that's going to happen, love." "Sometimes when Zeke Steiner holds my hand during dodgeball, I like it," Clio added, again using the funny whisper.
Daisy's smile grew. "Oh, Clio, I love you so much," she said, leaning forward to kiss her daughter's shining forehead.
"Do you think daddy's sad?" Clio asked. She looked worried. "I just felt funny to talk about this stuff to him, you know?"
"I know, love, and don't worry, he'll be okay," Daisy told her.
Clio got out of bed and followed her mother into the master bedroom, where Pete was already in bed, sitting with his laptop on his knees. He set it aside when he saw them.
"Finn's asleep," he told his wife, who nodded as she got in next to him.
Clio climbed over her mother to sit next to her father.
"I'm sorry," she apologized again.
Pete shook his head as he cuddled his daughter, dropping a kiss on the crown of her head. "It's perfectly okay, topolina," he assured her. "It's nice that you have two parents, I think, so you can talk to one or the other, you know?" He looked down at her. "Did you get it all taken care of? Everything okay now?"
Clio nodded and leaned up to kiss him one last time. "I love you," she told her father, smiling and making her dimple pop, melting his heart.
"I love you too, little mouse," he responded. "Now get some sleep, okay?"
Clio got out of their bed and ran lightly to the door.
"Good night," Pete called.
Clio turned, her hand on the doorknob. "Good night, dad."
Individual Books in the Series: