Don’t touch that dial! You’ve found the Lisa Burton Radio show. I’m Lisa the robot girl, coming at you with 1.21 jigawatts of power. Today we’re talking to an actual member of the famous Medici family.
“Jo, my bio says you’re calling us from a secret Medici Protectorate compound. What can you tell us about that?”
“Not much. Not allowed to talk about where we are or it could put me and my sisters in danger. I’ve already endangered us enough. The Brotherhood, especially Vinnie, would be furious if they even knew I was talking to you.”
“Why would you need protecting?”
“An accident of birth. <sigh> We’re not supposed to talk about it, but I hardly think it’s a secret anymore, if our lives are in danger. The Notaro family descends from the Medici line. Centuries back, Michelangelo promised Lorenzo d’Medici that he’d always look after his family. When everyone thought the dynasty died off, there was really one illegitimate child remaining—my great-great-great-times-whatever grandfather. Michelangelo took his vow seriously and created a secret organization to watch after the Medici descendants, generation after generation. Cut to present day, and there we were, thinking we were just a regular Italian-American family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, all of us working at the architecture and construction firm Papa founded. Then he gets murdered, these gigantic men invade our lives and hide us away, telling us we could be next. Constant monitoring, twenty-four/seven. I tell you, it can be stifling. Oppressive, even. That’s why I broke out a few times. Led to disastrous consequences. Now we’re all sequestered away, and I’m totally grounded.”
“A girl has to get out, am I right? Why do you have to sneak out? You should be able to leave any time you want.”
“I know, right? I thought so, too. At least at first. But like I said, disastrous consequences. My running away for a drink or a drive or whatever? People got hurt. My sisters ganged up on me to keep me in line. So did all the Brothers. Especially Vinnie, my personal warrior. They have to report everything to their boss, who in turn reports to Michelangelo—”
“WHAT? Are you telling me Michelangelo is still alive? The actual Michelangelo?”
“Oh, yeah. It’s all done with alchemy. Remember I said he made that vow to Lorenzo? He took it seriously. Very seriously. No one knows this, but he was an alchemical master. Actually figured out the philosopher’s stone. The guy doesn’t die, and he made himself a fortune—literally made it by turning lead to gold—to finance the Protectorate. He also used alchemy to create these daggers the Brothers use. He carved each one out of different colored marble from his own quarries. The design is exquisite, as you can probably imagine. But then he did some kind of ritual or spell or something, and each dagger now is imbued with special powers, which transfer to the Brother who wields it. You should see the guys use them. Vinnie—well.<sigh> It’s impressive. Enthralling.”
“Oooh, Vinnie. Tell us about him.”
“Vinnie. Hmm. Did you ever meet someone you were drawn to from the first second you saw him? Just some kind of primal instinct deep inside that burned for him?”
“That’s how it was the second I saw him, before I even knew who he was. But I squashed those feelings. I didn’t trust the guys at first, didn’t know who they were or who we really were. But once they were in our lives, those feelings just kept welling up, you know? At first it was just animal attraction. I’ve never seen a guy so hot in my life. But he kissed me, and I was a goner. And then when we—well, that’s too personal. Let’s just say he’s an impressive man on every level. But more than that, he has this ability to see through my BS and cut to the heart to the problem. He’s the first person since—well, he’s the first person in a long time to get me to open up. And I’m grateful for that. He makes this hiding out bearable.”
“Jo, it looks like you have a caller. Can we take a call?”
“Your show. You decide.”
“Hi caller, do you have a question for Jo today?”
“Jo. What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Jo, do you know this man?”
“Yes– Hi, Vinnie. I guess you had the radio on?”
“I was in the gym and my iPod died. I went over to the stereo system to queue something up, and who do I hear broadcasting all our secrets on the fucking radio? Che cazzo!”
“Sorry about that, Lisa. He lapses into Italian when he’s stressed.”
“About two words too late for the FCC.”
“Stressed? Why the hell would I be stressed? Didn’t you learn anything from—but I can’t talk about that on the damn radio! … Don’t you understand how dangerous this is? If you let anything slip that can lead them to you, if you got hurt… Damn it, Red. I can take almost anything—God knows I’ve already endured more than my share—but not losing you. I won’t get through that. You’ve got to be more careful.”
“A nickname. Because of my hair. He’s the only one who gets away with calling me that, so don’t.”
“Gotcha. Vinnie, if I might ask, you say she’s so important to you, why are you stifling her? Can’t you see she needs some freedom? Some autonomy?”
“And she can have it. If I go with her.”
“That’s hardly freedom.”
“What’s more important, Jo? Your freedom or your life? The lives of your family and friends?”
“You made your point, Vin. But you don’t understand how insufferable this is.”
“You don’t understand how difficult you make everything for me. Get off the air, Jo. Or I’m coming to get you.” <click>
“I hope you don’t get into too much trouble with Michelangelo for joining me today.”
“Eh, Vinnie’s not going to tell. He doesn’t need the headache. There’s more than enough on his plate. And I doubt the other guys heard. They’re too busy to listen to a talk show. Unless one of them was in the gym with him… But no, he would have said. I’m sure it’ll be fine. But I really gotta go. I think I hear him on the stairs, and I do not want him to come in here if I’m still talking to you. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest, Lisa. It’s been, well, not fun, exactly. A bit of a relief, I guess.”
“You take care, Jo, okay. For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”
Three decades. Two continents. One secret that could cost him everything.
Too. Many. Secrets… and Vinnie Falco is buried in them.
He works undercover day and night to keep watch over Jo Notaro, whose fiery temperament matches her boundless energy and unparalleled beauty. Jo’s is unable to withstand the endless scrutiny and constant surveillance, so when Vinnie’s ever-watchful gaze lingers too long, she can feel his touch—and she doesn’t know if she loathes it or loves it.
Vinnie’s job to watch Jo goes much deeper. He’s a vice president of an international corporation, a front for a secret organization—the Medici Protectorate—which continues a tradition going back nearly 500 years to guard the Medici line. Jo and her sisters are the descendants of the Medici and someone wants them dead.
But Vinnie has another secret he’s desperately trying to hide. A secret that could push Jo too far away for even him to save her.
Staci Troilo has always loved fiction, ever since her parents read her fairy tales when she was little. Today, her interests are much more eclectic. She loves getting lost in sci-fi battles, fantasy realms, horror worlds, suspenseful intrigues, and romantic entanglements.
As goes her reading, so goes her writing. She can’t pick a single genre to focus on, so she doesn’t even try. She’s proud to say she’s a multi-genre author.
When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with family and friends, possibly cooking for them, or maybe enjoying an afternoon in the pool. To learn more about her, visit http://stacitroilo.com or connect with her on social media.