**SPOILERS FOR FOOTSTEPS (Book One)**
Book Two of the Pagano Family Series will focus on Luca, the third child and second son of the family, and Emmanuelle “Manny” Timko. As I was writing Footsteps, Carlo and Sabina’s story, Luca really popped for me, and I was excited to tell his story. Manny is going to present one hell of a challenge, but he’s up to it. It’s going to take some adjustment, though.
The scheduled release of their story, Touch, is 27 September 2014. Blurb and cover reveal coming in a few weeks.
Here’s Chapter 1–Luca, just before he meets Manny for the second time (the first being at the end of Footsteps, while she was doing her second job):
~ 1 ~
“Oh, fuck! Luca, fuck. God, yeah!”
Rhiannon was taking her sweet time, so Luca grabbed her hips in his hands and got her moving faster. The knuckles of his right hand complained sharply. “That’s it, sugar. C’mon. Let’s go.” He shifted his ass on her sofa and got in deep, and then, finally, she went off.
“Oh, fuck! Fuck me! Yeah, yeah, yeah! I’m coming! Now, right now!”
Thanks for the bulletin, he thought and let himself go with a groan.
She dropped onto his chest, and he let her get comfortable, enjoying the waning throbs of her pussy around his cock. Rhee was a good fuck, though maybe he was finding himself at her place a little too often lately. She was convenient. He spent a lot of evenings at Quinn’s; Hugh Quinn, the proprietor, was an old friend. Rhiannon worked there. He knew she was down, and it was often just easier to pay her a little attention toward the end of a night and give her a ride home on his Duc.
Lately, easier seemed, well, easier. His appetite for the conquest had abated somewhat. Just in the past couple of months or so—if that. He didn’t know why. An obnoxious little shit of a voice in the back of his head kept whispering that it had to do with his older brother, Carlo, getting married to a woman he’d thought about maybe just a little too much. He didn’t want Sabina for his own, and he never fantasized about her—or, anyway, he’d stopped casting her in his fantasies once it became clear that she and Carlo were a sure thing—but there was something about them that made Luca feel ‘off’ in some way.
No good could come from thinking those thoughts through. But whatever—lately he’d been concentrating on sure pussy. Rhiannon, Lynne—Heather, when he could pin her down and get some time with her.
But Rhiannon was draped over him now, kissing and licking his neck, sweeping her hands up his arms and over his shoulders—his right shoulder was kicking up a little fuss tonight—and purring like a cat in cream. It was all just a little too cozy for Luca’s taste.
“God, Luc, that was fantastic. You and your giant dick have just about ruined me for any other guy. You know that, right?” She kissed him, nipping lightly at his bottom lip.
“Nah, Rhee. Lots of guys better for you than me. Pretty much all of ‘em.” He gave her ass a gentle swat. “Up you go, sugar. I gotta roll.”
“You could stay the night sometime, you know. I’d be good with that.”
“I’m up at the ass crack for work, Rhee. You know that. Don’t want to fuck with your sleep.” He didn’t sleep over, ever, with anyone. Hell, he didn’t go near their bedrooms, and he didn’t bring them to his place. He liked to be the one doing the leaving; that way he could be sure the leaving happened when he wanted it to.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d fucked in a bed. That led to cuddling, which led to complications.
Not that Rhee wasn’t managing a decent cuddle right here on her sofa. He swatted her again, a little more firmly. “C’mon, girl. Up you go.” When still she didn’t move, he lifted her up off him and set her on the sofa next to him, then got himself up to his feet as he pulled off the condom.
“You make me feel wicked cheap, Luc, always bailing the second your dick starts to go soft.”
The spent condom still dangling from his fingers, he looked down at her. “Sorry, Rhee. I don’t mean to make you feel bad. We can stop this.”
“No—I don’t want that. I just want…”
She shook her head and grabbed her Quinn’s t-shirt from the floor in front of the sofa. She had great tits, with tight little pink nipples that always looked like she was freezing. He was sorry when she pulled the shirt on, but those nipples stuck right up, practically vertical, tenting the cotton and the Quinn’s logo. “Nothing.” She nodded toward his upraised hand. “Your hand’s bleeding again. I’ll get you a bandage.”
“Nah. I’m all set.” He tied off the condom and took it to her little galley kitchen, dropping it in her garbage bin under the sink. Then he rinsed his bloody knuckles under the faucet, trying to ignore the dirty dishes stacked high.
He fucking knew better than to punch some asshole in the mouth. He’d end up with a nasty infection if he wasn’t careful. He wrapped his hand up in some paper towels and went back into Rhiannon’s living room, closing up his jeans as he walked. She was standing in the middle of the room, her panties back on now, too, holding his t-shirt out to him. He took it with a nod and a little smirk of thanks.
“You think you’ll ever settle down?”
Before his head came through the neck of his shirt, he answered, “Doubt it. You know me, Rhee.”
“Yeah. I guess.”
He liked Rhiannon. She was a good girl, a good looker, and a good fuck. But he felt nothing more than a sort of generalized enjoyment of her company. He had no curiosity about her life, no interest in her interests, not even any real concern for her welfare. Other than the chivalry that had been instilled in him by his father and uncles, the kind of chivalry that made him drag a drunk son of a bitch to the alley and pulp him for taking liberties and shoving his hands places Rhee didn’t want those hands.
It dawned on him that that chivalry might be the reason Rhee was suddenly acting like she wanted more out of him.
Fucking Christ. Women and their hero fantasies. Fucking Christ.
He put his hand on her shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “Really gotta go, girl. I’ll see you around, okay?” He grabbed his boots; he’d put them on outside. He was feeling a real need to get the fuck out of this apartment.
“Yeah,” she scoffed. “See you around.”
As he trotted down the steps along the outside of the building and sat down at the bottom to get his boots and socks on, Luca knew he and Rhee had fucked their last fuck. He mounted his Ducati Monster and headed home.
Luca opened his eyes and checked the time on the nightstand clock. Four-twenty. He needed to be up by four-thirty, but, though he set it every night, he had no need of an alarm. Every morning, whether he was working or not, no matter how hard he’d been partying the night before, he was awake by four-twenty. If he didn’t have to get up, he could roll over and get more sleep, but his body clock was finely tuned after nearly twenty years working construction, and he could rise early no matter what.
This morning, he had to get up, so he rolled to sit at the side of his bed. He groaned—damn, his shoulder and hand were really kicking up a stink this morning. And his knee was as stiff as usual. He was only thirty-four, but most mornings, he felt at least ten years older. This morning, make it fifteen or even twenty.
He’d done some professional fighting for eight years in his twenties, starting with boxing and moving into mixed martial arts, and that, he thought, had aged him fast. He’d loved it, but it was no way to stay healthy. He’d retired when an opponent had imploded his right knee. They’d been able to rebuild it, and he had full use of it again, despite chronic morning stiffness and a fucking epic set of scars. But he’d been smart enough to stay out of the ring after that.
That didn’t mean he didn’t throw a punch every now and then. He’d thrown quite a few of them last night. But he sure as shit felt it this morning. He dug his fingers into his right trapezius muscle and circled his right arm at the shoulder. Ow. Fuck. He legitimately needed to see Heather.
Heather was a massage therapist working as an independent contractor at some beach resorts along the coast. He’d met her at a nightclub a couple of years ago, and they’d had a great night with wild sex. She hadn’t been interested in any more than he had been, so they’d started meeting up for great nights with wild sex. But then she started getting a lot more work. Especially in the summer, she was hard to get hold of.
So they’d struck on a solution. He’d book an appointment for a ninety-minute deep tissue, usually at the Seagazer Inn and Spa, where she spent three full days a week. She’d give him about sixty minutes of massage, and then they’d really get into each other’s deep tissues. The massage was usually just a pretense for the sex, and a way to ensure that Luca was paying her for a massage and not for sex. She absolutely insisted on that. But today, if he could get in with her, that massage would be more than pretense.
It was too early to call, though, so he contented himself with a steaming hot shower. Then he re-bandaged his hand and went out to the kitchen. He made himself some coffee and fixed himself a grapefruit and some wheat toast for breakfast. He wasn’t much for a big meal too early. He popped five ibuprofen and washed it down with his coffee. Feeling a bit more human and more his actual age, he cleaned up his few dishes, folded up the dish towel and hung it neatly on its rack, and headed to work.
He beat his father into the office. For nearly all the time they’d worked together at Pagano & Sons Construction, Carlo Sr. had always been there first, and he usually gave Luca a look that suggested his disappointment that his son couldn’t manage to get his butt moving any earlier. But for the last several weeks, Luca was arriving first almost half the time.
Ever since his father started paying Adele Dioli, his next-door neighbor, some gentlemanly attention. In fact, since Pop and Mrs. D. had started—as his father called it—‘keeping company,’ he’d been back to his old self.
Carlo Sr. had spent more than a year not operating, in Luca’s opinion, on all cylinders. He’d been missing things in the books, sending out bids that were unsustainably low or bizarrely high and refusing to hear Luca’s concerns, just generally acting out of whack in some ways. Luca and his siblings had spent no small amount of time contemplating what was up.
Turned out, the old man had just been lonely. He’d been a widower for a dozen years, and it had taken its toll. It wasn’t until he’d started feeling guilty, too, though, that he’d gone haywire. Mrs. D. had been after him for years, since her husband had died. Carlo Sr. hadn’t paid her much mind. And then he had. And Luca guessed he’d had to make some things right in his head and his heart before he could move on.
At the same time, Luca’s brother, Carlo Jr., had moved back in with his son, and then he’d gotten remarried, and the house they’d all grown up in was full of family again.
And now their father was calm, happy, and focused—and rolling into work half an hour later than his years-long habit, and whistling operatic arias, and just in general behaving like a very odd, love-struck teenager.
They were maxed out at the moment, all crews working full time, two crews doing overtime, so they weren’t preparing new bids, and they didn’t have any pending. There were a couple on the horizon, and Luca checked his email to see if there were any new details. As he did, crew leaders started coming in to pick up their paperwork and check in for any new instructions.
Luca had been his father’s chief crew supervisor for seven years. He’d been more than that, really, working at Carlo Sr.’s right hand, preparing bids, doing the research, learning the new tech that his father was too impatient to bother with. Carlo Sr. was moving into his mid-sixties, and he was going to have to decide soon how the company would continue after his retirement. Luca wanted the damn company. But he had no sense of security that he’d get it. Carlo Sr. had intended to hand the reins to his eldest son, Carlo Jr. But Carlo hadn’t wanted it. He’d chased his own dream and was now an architect.
It had broken their father’s heart.
Luca and his father didn’t always get along so well. They worked well together, but Carlo Sr. was disappointed in Luca for a wide range of reasons. He wasn’t serious enough. He refused to settle down. He fought too much. He spoke his mind too freely.
And, quite simply, he wasn’t the firstborn son.
Not much he could do about that one.
By the time his father came into the office, Luca had sent off all the crews and plotted out his morning. He spent most of most days driving from job site to job site, checking progress and making sure no corners were being cut. They ran a tight ship, with full-time employees rather than day labor, and they had the reputation such care engendered. But every now and then, somebody would get behind on something, feel the crunch, and get tempted to do things the easy way. Knowing that a boss was going to show up at some point at least once a day kept everybody honest.
Luca also filled in on shorthanded crews, when the need arose. Today, though, they had a full house. So he’d spend his day in his H3.
With a long break around lunchtime, if he could get in with Heather.
“Hey, Pop. You good this morning?”
“Son. Yeah. I’m good.” He noticed Luca’s bandaged hand immediately and sent him a censorious look. “You? Looks like you had a night.”
“Just defending a lady’s honor. No sweat.” He hitched up his right shoulder. “Got a knot in my defending arm, though, so I’m gonna take a long lunch today, see if I can’t get a massage and get it worked out. Okay with you?”
“Yes, sir. John’s on point on Carrick Lane. I moved Digger to Westerly Road. I think John’s solid enough now he doesn’t need a shadow.” John was one of Luca’s younger brothers. At thirty-one, he’d been on a crew for more than ten years. This was his first time in charge of one, though. John was a bit of a dreamer. He was an excellent finish carpenter, but not necessarily a leader. They’d had one of their veteran foremen working with him, but it was expensive to keep two leads on one site, and Carrick was a small job. Luca would check in on that site a couple of times, make sure all was well.
Carlo Sr. nodded. “I think you’re right.”
Holy fuck. Rare was the time that his father simply agreed with him, straight up. There was usually a fight whenever Luca made an executive decision.
“Yeah. I think he’ll do good.”
“I’ll check in on him, too. I’m gonna drive up toward Providence, check out that lot for the church build. They’ll be calling for bids on that by the end of the summer.”
“Sounds good.” Feeling pretty good about work suddenly, Luca grabbed his paperwork and his hardhat and headed out to start his day.
He’d checked in at two job sites before it was late enough to call Heather and not wake her. He couldn’t get hold of her directly, though, so, just after the spa opened, he called Seagazer Inn and checked to see if she had any appointments available. He booked the one to two-thirty slot, then sat in his truck and revised his schedule for the remainder of the day.
He kept feeling the need to tip his head to the side and stretch out his right shoulder. Damn. He must have really let loose on that asshole last night.
The guy had been obviously drunk and getting borderline inappropriate with Rhiannon all night long. At first, Luca hadn’t paid much mind, other than to think asshole and turn back to the bar. Rhiannon was a waitress at Quiet Cove’s only roughneck bar. She knew how to handle herself.
But then she’d started getting pissed. He was grabbing at her every time she passed the table he was sitting at with his couple of friends. Luca had stopped on his way back from taking a piss and suggested he remember his manners. The guy had mumbled something about ‘just showing her his appreciation,’ and Luca had warned him a little more pointedly, grabbing his shirt and getting up close.
Then Hugh had threatened to throw him out. And then, when the asshole still wouldn’t keep his hands to himself, Hugh had thrown him and his friends out.
On his drunken way to the door, the guy had grabbed Rhiannon and shoved his hand right up her little denim skirt, shouting that he was gonna get his piece one way or the other.
So Luca had given him a piece.
Fuck, he hated assholes that hurt women. Fuck. He knew he himself wasn’t what anyone would probably call a gentleman (Rhiannon herself, for one, considering how they’d left things last night), but a guy who’d just paw at a woman like that uninvited, unwanted—made him fucking crazy.
Which was why his shoulder was fucked today. And why grabby Prince Charming was going to need extensive dental work.
Luca pulled into Seagazer Inn and Spa just before one in the afternoon and went in the spa entrance. The place was a little femme for his taste, but he didn’t mind coming here to see Heather. The massage rooms were really nice. They smelled good, and were dark and cool, and those tables adjusted to exactly the right height to reach all her deep tissues.
The blonde receptionist looked up. Luca didn’t recognize her, but he recognized the look she got as she took him in. Hungry. He grinned. He knew he looked good—or, anyway, to certain kinds of women, he looked good. Six feet, a brawny fighter’s build, close-cropped brown hair and beard, green eyes.
She did that thing with her hair chicks did when they were into a guy, running one manicured hand over it and tucking it behind her ear. Then she licked her lips with a little pink tongue and asked, “Can I help you?”
He leaned on the counter and gave her the smile she was looking for. “You sure can. Got an appointment with Heather at one.”
A little dark cloud interrupted her sunshine. “Oh! I’m sorry. Did you not get a call? Heather called in this morning. We have Emma filling in for her, if you don’t mind. Otherwise, we can reschedule you for Heather—and give you a shop voucher for your trouble.”
Luca couldn’t think of a damn thing he’d want in the spa shop, which was all candles and aromatherapy whozits. But he knew he needed to get his shoulder worked out. He sighed. Oh well, he’d get the massage and have to do without the sex.
“Emma any good?”
“Oh yeah. She’s new, only been here a few weeks, but she already has regulars.”
“Okay. Emma it is.”
Blondie smiled and led him back to a massage room.
©2014 Susan Fanetti