Today I’m revealing the cover and description of the fifth and final book in the Pagano Brothers series. Things Impossible features Alex Di Pietro and Lia Pagano. Alex is the young man who made an appearance in Hidden Worthiness, suspected of treason until he withstood Angie’s “pressure” and was cleared. Lia is Nick’s second daughter.
Now Alex is Lia’s bodyguard.
Things Impossible is a little bit different from the other books in the series in that there is a third POV: Nick Pagano.
Including Nick’s POV here felt right for several reasons. First, this is a romance between Nick’s daughter and her bodyguard, so the don factors into their relationship in myriad ways. (For one thing, you can imagine Nick’s feelings about this relationship … ahem.) Second, Nick’s civil war is going on, and his POV was crucial there, especially since Alex is young and too low in the hierarchy to have a lot of high-level insights. Third, well, things happen in the story that are best seen and understood through Nick’s POV.
And finally, I just missed him. I wanted to be back in his head here at the end of the Pagano Brothers series (and likely the entire Pagano family saga). I wanted to know his thoughts and feelings about where he’s arrived, what he’s built, the family he and Bev made. I wanted to see him be a father to grown and nearly grown children, and a husband to a woman he’s loved for decades.
I just missed him.
Based on what I hear from readers, I don’t think I’m alone in that. So if you’ve missed Nick, too, you get a chance to spend some time in his head again, and see him grapple with a love between his daughter and the bodyguard he trusted to protect her–and all the other consequences of the world he’s built.
All the books in the Pagano Brothers series have epigraphs taken from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The epigraph for Things Impossible is:
“Now bid me run,
And I will strive with things impossible.”
The release date for Things Impossible is Saturday, 4 July. A preorder will be available 13 June.
Here’s the description:
Alex Di Pietro started working for the Pagano Brothers in high school, to help his mom with the bills after his dad skipped out. Several years later, he’s still a lowly associate, too young to make his bones. However, because he looks the part, he’s been given the job of guarding one of Don Nick Pagano’s precious daughters while she’s at college.
He takes that job seriously; he knows first-hand what happens to a man who’s let the don down, and he never wants to be in that place again. But it’s not easy to ignore his growing attraction to the sweet, sad girl he’s charged to protect.
Lia Pagano is trying to have a normal college experience despite who her father is. She hates all the security around her, but it helps that her bodyguard does what he can to give her some space. It doesn’t hurt that he’s handsome and kind, either.
All she wants is a chance to make her own life her own way, but that’s not so easy when your father is Don Nicolo Pagano, the so-called King of New England.
Nick Pagano has been don for a long time. He knows his time at the head of the table is moving toward its end, and he intends to leave a legacy of his own choosing. To do so, he will have to declare a civil war, between the old ways of Italy and the new ways of America. He’s marshaled his allies and is prepared to win, but it will not be easy.
He means to protect his family from that war at any cost.
When Lia almost falls to a danger not a part of Nick’s world but very much a part of college life, Nick calls her home—and learns that his daughter and the bodyguard he trusted with her protection have grown much closer than he’d intended. Or wanted.
They are all fighting for the future they want, for things others say are impossible.
But no war can be won without pain and loss.
The true victory comes in what we make of what’s left when war is over.
And the first scene of Chapter 1 as a preview:
Alex Di Pietro leaned back against the wall and tried not to let his contempt for the fools before him show.
A whole room full of drunks acting like they owned the world. Fucking frat boy douchebags and the idiot chicks trying to get their attention.
Once upon a time, he’d wanted to go to college. He’d loved school and had gotten great grades in every subject without hardly having to work for them. Honors classes and AP, and straight As, right up through his senior year.
Then shit had hit the fan in his family and blown his college plans to dust. It wasn’t about the money; there’d never been any money for college. He’d gotten scholarships, full rides, but at schools too far from home. After what his dad did, he couldn’t leave his mom. She’d have been alone.
If Brown had ponied up, maybe he would have enrolled. But they’d offered him a measly couple grand—hardly enough for textbooks, much less tuition. He hadn’t even applied to URI; it had been beneath his notice until it was too late.
Instead of college, he’d turned to the thing he’d been doing for money and pull since he was fourteen: the Pagano Brothers. First, he was just an errand boy, but for the past four years, he’d been an associate, crawling slowly toward the light of Don Nicolo Pagano’s notice, trying to prove his loyalty and his willingness to do what needed doing, hoping he’d get his chance to make his bones soon.
There’d been one bad glitch when he thought he might end up fish food in the middle of the ocean—through no real fault of his own except being a stupid noob—but he’d toughed that out, and since then, the right people were paying attention.
The assignment he had now was his best chance to earn the don’s favor. He was the primary body man for one of Nick Pagano’s own children: his second daughter, Lia. A job like this meant the right people were paying attention and thinking him worth their trust.
So here he was, leaning against a wall in a rich-boy fraternity on the Brown campus, watching Don Pagano’s nineteen-year-old daughter meander through this snake pit.
She’d come with a couple of friends, but they’d paired off with frat boy assholes already, and now she was alone, standing next to the booze table, sipping at a beer in a red Solo cup. He’d been on her for a while, and he’d never seen her drunk. She played sometimes at being a party girl, trying to fit in with her party-girl friends, but she really wasn’t one.
Every now and then, she’d look over and catch Alex’s eye, and that glance always came with a look like she’d smelled a fart.
She didn’t dislike him, nor he her, but she hated having him on her ass all the time. But it wasn’t her he answered to. Lia wasn’t a troublemaker; she tolerated his presence because her father told her to, but she let Alex know how trapped she felt. He took it in stride and did his job.
Overall, this wasn’t a terrible detail. He spent his time—ten-hour shifts, five or six days a week—hanging around the Brown campus, shadowing Lia. Sometimes he sat in on her classes, the ones in lecture halls, where he could blend into the crowd, but most times, he just hung out and tried not to look like a creepy stalker. Lia had introduced him as a friend from home to the people she knew, which allowed him to get close and be places like this to keep tabs on her, but he gave her as much space as he could.
A frat boy asshole—popped collar and all—sidled up to Lia with a grin, and Alex sharpened up. He tried hard to let her have her college deal, her father didn’t want him ruining the experience for her, but if Lia got hurt on his watch, Don Pagano would disassemble him.
He didn’t trust these entitled Sig Rho assholes. He’d done some research on the social situation at Brown, so he knew this was one of those old-money, birthplace-of-the-rich-and-powerful fraternities. Where all the hardcore sons of bitches honed the skills they learned at Daddy’s knee. It was also known as The Place to Be Seen on campus, so every party was jam-packed with tarted-up chicks looking to Be Seen.
Chip or Biff or what-the-fuck-ever grinned a blinding white grin, and Lia flipped her long auburn hair and returned a shy smile.
Alex stood up straight and locked in.
“Hi, hi,” a soft voice rose up from somewhere below his attention.
Reluctantly, Alex shifted his gaze from Lia and the room and saw a short little blonde standing before him, batting thick fake eyelashes around watery blue eyes.
She had some meat on her, which was the way he liked women best—short and a little round. Something soft to hold onto, and somebody he could surround.
Lia used to be built like this, soft and curvy—though she was taller, about five-eight, he guessed. Still short enough that she seemed petite beside his six-two. But she’d gone on some wackadoodle diet over the summer, and now she was practically emaciated. He saw how much she didn’t eat these days, and, frankly, he didn’t like it. He thought it was unhealthy. But he didn’t think it was part of his job to report on her eating habits.
It was his job to protect her from people who might want to hurt her, and he was on that job right now, so he didn’t give the little blonde much of a grin. Just enough so he was acting like a college guy at a frat party.
She was cute, though. He’d totally have paid her some mind if he could, might have taken what she was obviously offering. All these horny college hotties all around him every fucking day, coming on to him several times a day, but he was always on the job.
“Hey,” he said, trying to achieve a balance between friendly and uninterested.
She held up a red plastic cup and slipped up closer, so her body brushed with his. Rising onto her toes, she made herself heard over the racket of a sound system cranked way past its capacity and said, “You look thirsty. I’m Becca.”
The cup was full of flat beer from a keg. “I’m not thirsty, Becca.”
“Oh.” She looked crestfallen, but recovered and tried again. “Are you a Sig Rho? I’m pledging Alpha Phi.”
Alex’s attention was back on Lia. She was talking to Biff Billionaire over there, who was gesturing across the room—to the bathrooms. She dipped a cute little nod and went off that way. Her hands smoothed over her hips and ass as she walked—one of her tells when she liked a guy; she was self-conscious about her ass.
She had no cause to be. Just like he had no cause to feel this weird twinge when she flirted with guys.
Biff picked up the Solo cup she’d set down and went to the keg. While Alex watched, vaguely aware that Becca was still talking, trying to catch his interest, Biff filled Lia’s cup and set it back where she’d left it.
Then he looked around—Alex’s internal siren began to shriek—and put his hand in his pocket.
Alex moved. He snagged his phone and keyed a code, then traded his phone for the other thing in that pocket. By the time Biff had a little glass vial in his hand, Alex was there.
He pressed his knife into Biff’s side and said, “That, my friend, is the worst choice you’ve made in your whole pathetic life.”
Biff stiffened. “I don’t know what you think, but whatever it is, you got it wrong, bro.” He tried to put the vial back in his pocket, but Alex clamped his hand over Biff’s wrist and took the vial himself.
“No, I don’t. But your night is about to get very wrong. Come on. We’re going out the back, and if you make one sound or move like there’s a problem, I will gut you like the pig you are.”
Biff didn’t budge. “Who the fuck do you think you are, bro?” He sounded more pissed and surprised than scared, but his tune would change soon.
“Not your bro, that is a fucking certainty.” He pushed on the knife, let it prick Biff’s skin and make his eyes blow wide. “Move. Now. Or this party gets bloody. I’m using a knife now, and I can kill you with it before your knees buckle, but that’s not all I got.” That was no bluff; there was a compact Beretta Px4 Storm holstered against the small of his back.
Biff moved, lurching toward the back, but he protested, “You’re the one making a mistake. Do you know who I am? Who my father is? And this place is full of my friends. You try to fuck with me, you fuck with all of us.”
“Big talk. We’ll see. Either way, your only shot at not getting your gut unzipped is to do what I say.”
He got Biff out through the back, where party overflow was happening, but Alex pressed him on through that small crowd, through the yard, into the alley, where a blacked-out SUV was already waiting.
That was their system—one body man, usually Alex, on campus with eyes on Lia, a secondary team nearby to handle any issues that might arise. It had seemed wasteful and fucking expensive, seeing as nothing had happened before now and four Pagano men were twiddling their thumbs in Providence around the clock, but now, the first time Alex had had to key that code, the elegance of the system was clear.
He was surprised—stunned, actually—when Tony Cioccolanti stepped out of the passenger side of the black Denali. Tony was their capo; he did not do guard detail. But Alex didn’t have the time—or, frankly, the juice—to ask what had their boss riding shotgun tonight.
“What’s goin’ on?” Tony asked.
Alex handed over the vial. “I caught this asshole in the act, about to put this in her drink.”
Tony held up the vial, peered at it in the lights from the frat house, and his look became murderous. You’d have thought Lia was his kid. He turned that look on Biff.
Now Biff was afraid. “That’s a goddamn lie. He’s lying. Who are you people? Do you know who my father is?” He took in a breath that seemed like it might become a scream. Alex pushed the knife in a little more, felt skin give way and warm wet kiss his fingers. Biff tensed hard, but decided not to yell.
“I’m the man who’s about to ruin your night, college boy.” Tony reached into the truck and came back with a roll of duct tape. Biff tried to reel back, but Alex was in his way. “And I don’t give half a fuck who your daddy is.”
“No. No way, man. I didn’t—I wouldn’t—I’m sorry.”
With a fierce flourish, Tony slapped a piece of tape over Biff’s mouth and pulled him away from Alex. “We got him. You get back in there and stay on her. Check in when you’re back in place.”
“Right, Tone.” With a nod, Alex turned and left Biff to men harder than he.
“Hey, kid,” Tony called.
Alex turned back. “Yeah?”
©2019 Susan Fanetti