Angie’s story will be my first release of 2020!
Back in 2016, when I was writing Miracle, the final book in the Pagano Family series, and Angie was a secondary character—and a big ol’ jerk most of the time—I had intended him to just be a jerk, period. But then he went and got some depth, and by the end of that book (and series), I wanted him to have a story someday. It took me more than three years to find the right time to tell it, but it finally came.
Now that he’s told me his story and I’ve written it out, wow, do I love him. Oh, Ange. What a guy. Not a nice guy, exactly, but a really good one. And Giada is one tough cookie. I really admire her powerful will and the soft heart beneath it.
Their story takes some twists and turns I absolutely did not anticipate when I started it, but I think it’s a great ride. I sure loved writing it, and I love reading it now.
I hope you do, too.
The release date for The Name of Honor is Saturday, 4 January 2020. I’ll set up a preorder on Saturday, 14 December. Here’s the Goodreads page, if you’d like to add it to your TBR.
The epigraphs (and titles) for all the Pagano Brothers books come from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Angie’s quote is:
“For let the gods so speed me as I love
The name of honour more than I fear death.”
Act I, Scene 2, lines 89-90
Here’s the description:
As the Pagano Brothers’ head of security and enforcement, Angelo Corti has done Nick’s darkest work for years. Intimidation, torture, assassination—he’s done it all without a qualm. There is nothing he won’t do for his don.
Angie’s built a good life for himself on his own, devoted entirely to the Pagano Brothers, and it’s all he wants. He has no interest in a romantic relationship; there’s no chance he’ll ever fall in love. He’s already taken his vows: to Nick and the Pagano Brothers family. There is room for nothing else in his life.
Nick’s plans for his legacy will rock their whole world, but Angie is at Nick’s side, ready to render his justice and clear the path for his don to get what he wants, no matter what.
Giada Sacco has been cleaning up after her brother, don of the Sacco Family, for years, running the family from the shadows while his arrogance and cruelty threaten to destroy it. But Giada is tired of doing the work while her unworthy brother takes the glory.
Once upon a time, Giada dreamed of rescue and romance, but fairy tales are for little girls. She knows she needs to take what she wants, and she won’t let anything get in her way. What she wants is to change the world.
When Nick and Giada ally to shake La Cosa Nostra down to its foundation, Angie and Giada are thrust together. It means nothing. It’s just part of the plan, a simple distraction.
It wasn’t supposed to be real. But even the best-laid plans go awry.
They’ve made an alliance to change their world. Now nothing will ever be the same.
For a preview, I’m sharing the first scene of Chapter 7, which is the first time Angie and Giada meet up in the book:
This was going to be easier than he’d thought.
Angie smiled at the beautiful woman beside him. He’d known Giada for years, in a vague sort of way. Somebody he’d seen at social functions like this. He’d had no other reason to be in her company. The Paganos and Saccos were allies, the way all the families on the Council were supposed to be allies, but they’d been at odds a few times, too. Since Tommy had taken the seat, things had been especially chilly between them.
But either way, allied families weren’t necessarily close, or personally friendly. Nick’s friendship with Vio was an exception, not the rule. Angie barely knew most of the men in the Sacco Family, much less their women.
He’d known Giada Sacco was an attractive woman, but damn, she was gorgeous. He’d thought of her as too old to be of interest—she was almost his age, and come on, everybody knew women didn’t age as well as men did—but this woman did not look her age. Her hair, for one thing, was a beautiful deep brown, showing no signs of grey. Sure, that was probably dye, but that was okay. It looked good. She had it styled up, in a twist on the back of her head, with a sweep of bangs over her forehead. It was classy as fuck and showed off a long, slim neck, around which sat a thick gold necklace, a solid piece that rested on her collarbones like armor.
Her makeup was excellent, showcasing a pair of eyes a shade of green he didn’t have a name for. And that mouth—full, kissable, pouty lips tinted with deep red lipstick.
Not kissable. There would be no kissing. They weren’t supposed to get that close. Nick didn’t want them to, and probably Giada didn’t, either. And fuck if there was any chance Angie was going to get up close and personal with a woman of the Sacco Family while he was still working out his current equipment issue. Fuck no. He did not need that information running around loose in their world.
Still, though, he was going to have no trouble at all paying attention to Giada tonight.
He let his eyes make their favorite journey and wander down her body. She wore a dark red dress that fit her like it was tattooed on, following the line of her body from her heavenly rack, along her sleek waist and firm, perfect hips, all the way to her thighs, where it puffed out in a swirl of silk and lace. Oh god, the swell of her cleavage. He could put his head down right there and never leave.
“Angelo. That’s rude. Up here.”
He looked up and met her eyes. They held a challenge, and no smile to soften it.
“Sorry, doll. Is it rude to say you fill out red silk really well? That dress is something else.”
At that, her gorgeous mouth quirked up at one side. “Thank you.”
A few moments of awkward silence ensued. Without being able to flirt the way he was used to, with a particular objective in mind, Angie didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t sure he’d ever actually talked to a woman just to talk to her, excepting those in his family. He could talk to Bev or Ari, of course. Or his sister and sister-in-law. But a woman like Giada?
Shit. Somewhere in his life he must have had a simple conversation with a woman, right? He couldn’t have gone through forty-nine years never speaking to a woman who wasn’t family or fuckable, could he?
If so, he couldn’t think of one.
Behind them, the bandleader announced the first dance, and Angie and Giada both turned to face the room.
The bride had so much bling on her wedding dress that she was almost impossible to see through all the weird sparkles the lights threw around. Vio Marconi’s little girl. She was older than Nick’s oldest daughter, Elisa, by about five or six years. There had been, he thought, an attempt to forge a friendship between them during childhood, but Ilaria was the kind of girl who held court and demanded fealty, and Elisa had always been a quiet, fretful little thing, so it had gone badly. Nick and Bev had not brought any of their children to the wedding, though both Elisa and Lia were grown and had thus been invited.
“They look happy,” Giada said.
David Bustamante was a Marconi soldier. Angie knew him a little. He was an okay guy overall, but nothing impressive. He probably would never have had a chance to make capo, until he’d married the don’s daughter. Now a promotion like that was likely, eventually. Angie wouldn’t be surprised to know that was the only reason he’d proposed. Because David’s dick had seen all of Connecticut and most of the other original colonies as well. He wasn’t the settling-down type any more than Angie was.
“Yeah,” he said aloud. “Today would be the day they should be, if no other.”
That made Giada laugh. “You’ve got a pretty bleak view of marriage.”
He shrugged. Marriage was fine for other people. He was surrounded by happy couples, every damn direction he turned. But it wasn’t for him. “You’ve never hitched up, either, right?”
A little spasm crossed her forehead, like a frown had tried to settle on it, but she pushed it away and smiled instead. “No, I haven’t. I’ve had other interests.”
Giada stiffened, and Angie wondered what he’d said—but then he saw who was coming toward them. Her brother, Tommy Sacco.
Tommy was a legendary bastard, and Giada had been chasing behind him, undoing his damage, for years. That was one of those open secrets, though few knew the full details of the messes he’d made.
Angie was surprised to see something like fear in Giada’s posture. But by the time Tommy got to them, she was simply strong and prepared.
“Giada.” Tommy grabbed her arm and gave it a hard yank. He cast a quick glance Angie’s way. “Hey, Ange.”
“Don Sacco.” Angie let his shoulders fill out. Tommy was a don, but that didn’t mean he got to mangle a woman—his own sister—right in front of him.
However, Tommy would think it meant exactly that, and so would all of his men and most of the others here. Angie tried to think what he’d do if Tommy actually hurt Giada right here, right in front of him. Could he fight a don? At another don’s daughter’s wedding? Jesus, the way that would blow up the Council.
Would Tommy actually hurt his own sister?
Well, why wouldn’t he? He had a rep for beating women. Why wouldn’t he beat the most convenient ones?
Angie was going to have to fight a goddamn don.
But Giada pushed Tommy’s hand away, and he let her do it. “What do you want?”
“Give us a minute, Angie,” Tommy ordered.
“No,” Giada said—and reached out to grabbed Angie’s hand. “Stay.”
Tommy scowled. “What the fuck is going on, Giada? What are you up to?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Tommy. What did I do?”
Tommy had the same green eyes Giada did. They searched her face furiously. “Everybody’s talking about you giving Ilaria the envelope. Why didn’t you give it to me? Or Enzo?”
“Because it was my money.”
“No, it was mine. I’m the head of this family. You have what you have because I let you have it.” Tommy threw another look at Angie, but Giada’s hand was clamped on his, and he wasn’t about to go anywhere while she so obviously needed him to stay put.
Despite Angie’s presence, Tommy grabbed Giada’s chin. “You embarrassed me. Don’t think I’ll forget it.”
“I don’t forget either, Tommaso.”
Wow, the subtext was like a nuclear bomb between them. Tommy glared at his sister. Giada stared steadily back. Then Tommy let go of her, giving his hand a little twist so Giada’s head rocked. He glanced down at her clasp of Angie’s hand and then lased his eyes into Angie’s. “Tread carefully, Angie.”
With that, he spun and stalked back into the crowd.
“Is that what you wanted?” Angie asked, turning back to Giada.
“It’ll do,” she said. She looked up, and the stubborn strength she’d shown her brother faded into a sweet smile, with a hint of sass. Oh, this woman was dangerous. “For now.”
The first dance was over, and the bandleader was calling all couples onto the floor. Angie had been surprised at the music playing all evening—a lot of jazzy, crooning standards, which seemed an odd choice for the wedding of a girl in her mid-twenties. David was only thirty or so himself.
Unfortunately, now that the dancing was on, the music had become predictably terrible. The kids seemed to like it, though.
“Do you dance, Angelo?” Giada asked.
“To this crap? No.”
She cocked her head. “But you do dance?”
Angie grinned. “We’re not gonna talk about that scene with your brother at all, are we?”
“Why would we? It’s over.” She turned to the bar to order another drink, and Angie saw red marks on her upper arm, where Tommy had grabbed her. He’d reached out and brushed his fingers over that spot before he had a chance to think about whether he should.
Her head swung around, and her pretty face twisted into a snarl. “Don’t.”
Angie pulled his hand back. “Sorry. And I’m sorry I didn’t—”
“—What? Swoop in and save the day?”
He didn’t know how to answer that. Because yes, that was what he’d meant. But he had no earthly idea what would have happened if he’d intervened, or if he should have. Between a don and his family? The first answer was of course he shouldn’t have. But a woman being hurt? Of course he should have.
He rubbed at his suddenly tired eyes. “I don’t know. I’m just sorry, how about that. Apply it where you want.”
Giada laughed as she sipped from her fresh drink. “That’s a surprisingly adequate answer.”
Angie noticed she’d ordered him one, too; it sat on the bar waiting for him. He put his dead glass down and took a big swallow from the new one. He hadn’t expected things to get this dicey tonight—and so quickly.
“So you do dance?” she asked again.
“I do. My ma made all us kids get lessons when we were little.” She’d insisted that they needed to know how to dance for when they grew up and wanted to fall in love. He’d actually liked the lessons at first, until he was old enough to realize that he wasn’t supposed to. Oh well. He’d never needed the knowledge, anyway. He’d never wanted to fall in love.
“What, like ballroom dancing?”
“Yeah, and …” he paused, not believing he meant to say the next part out loud. But he felt like he owed her something for standing there like a lump while her brother marked her arm.
The grin that broke across her face almost made the embarrassment worth it. “You mean the pericoloso Angelo Corti can shuffle off to Buffalo?”
“If you tell anybody, obviously, I will have to kill you.”
“Oh, your secret is safe with me.” She gave him that sassy twist of a smirk. “For now.”
“So it’s like that, huh?”
She finished off her drink, took his empty glass, and set them both on the bar. “Come dance with me, Fred Astaire.”
When she took his hand, he held back. “To this crap? What is it, anyway?”
“Who cares? We’ll change it.”
She led him through the ballroom, up to the stage, where the same band that had played jazz ballads and instrumental standards during dinner and the usual silly wedding rituals of cake-stuffing and flower-throwing was now shrieking some synth pop bullshit. One of the guitarists answered Giada’s beckoning wave, and they talked for a minute.
Angie felt stupid just standing there, so he turned and took in the room. Over the dance floor and at the stage was a little light show, colors shifting softly to the beat, but once he saw through that, he realized that he and Giada had the attention they’d intended to draw. He hoped Nick was getting the information he wanted out of it.
Giada shimmied to his side in that sultry silk gown and took his hand again. “Okay. In a minute you can show me what you got.”
“I’m not doing some Footloose thing with you, doll. I’ll dance, but I won’t perform.”
“Don’t call me doll, Angelo. I’m not a doll. Or a girl.”
He looked down into her determined eyes. What color was that green? Was it jade? “No, you’re not.”
She was a helluva woman, in fact.
The terrible song ended, and the bandleader said, “Okay, we’ve had a couple requests already, so we’re gonna shift gears a little and see if we can’t get everybody on the dance floor. Here’s an old standard done our way.” He counted off a beat, and then the band jumped into ‘Fly Me to the Moon.’
“You got them to play Sinatra? How the fuck did you manage that?”
“I’m a dealmaker. Making people think what I want is what they want is what I do.” She tugged on his hand. “Come on, let’s dance.”
Angie’s taste in musicians from Jersey was more Bon Jovi than Sinatra, but everybody loved Ol’ Blue Eyes. This band’s version of the song had a sort of poppy twist, but the singer had a great, rich voice, and it worked. Even the youngsters cheered, and the dance floor filled up.
Angie took the lead and spun Giada onto the floor before it filled up so much he didn’t have room. She laughed as he caught her in his arms. Smiling up at him, she set a hand at the back of his neck. He held her other hand up and put his free hand at the small of her back. He drew her close, so her gorgeous dress brushed his legs, and showed her what his mother had made him learn so he would have the tools he needed to fall in love.
© 2019 Susan Fanetti
Almost a year to the day Donnie’s story was released. I have been counting down the months (thankful for Tony’s story in between to make the wait less agonizing) waiting for Angie’s story. I’m hoping this is not an end in some way, that if it goes the route Nick wants that a new era of Paganos will carry on. I do have to say that with this time of year I’m thinking about the Christmas story you did several years ago about Nick & Bev. Was wondering if you had another Pagano Christmas story in mind. I have to say (not sure if I did already in a past comment) but the story behind Donnie’s son has always nagged at the back of my mind since reading HW. What a wonderful Christmas present it would be to have him come back into his life. Oh and that stack of colored post it notes in your desk photo 🙂 🙂 🙂