Hey, everyone! It’s the last day of our Story Empire Roadshow Bookmobile blog tour. The week went so fast, I can’t believe it’s winding down so soon. Even though the fun is ending, I have a fabulous post from my wonderful friend and SE sister, Staci Troilo to close things out. She’s got a number of goodies to share with you too, so let’s close this Roadshow out with a bang! 🙂
Hi, Mae. Thanks for hosting me today. And hi, Mae’s followers. It’s nice to be back here with you today.
We’ve been making the rounds on the Story Empire Roadshow, and this is my last stop. I’ve been talking about my Medici Protectorate series, and I thought I’d close out with a deleted scene. This was originally the opening, but as many writers will tell you, sometimes your beginning starts too far back. So, the beginning to Bleeding Heart starts a little farther along the timeline. I also considered using this as a prologue, but it wasn’t necessary; the relevant information from this scene is organically revealed throughout the series.
But I really liked this scene, and I didn’t want to get rid of it entirely. The interplay between the guys reveals a lot about their characters. Reading it might give you a good idea of who the Brothers are. Without further ado, here’s the deleted opening to Bleeding Heart, book one of the Medici Protectorate series.
“Okay, Vinnie. Good job. Gianni, sweep… now watch for the—”
“Oooph.” Gianni took a bo staff thrust to the right side, and his breath left him with a whoosh. He took a knee on the mat and struggled for air while Nico and Coz stood snickering, waiting for their turns, and his sparring partner Vinnie leaned on his staff and grinned. Their instructor showed about as much amusement as Gianni felt.
“He gets you every time.” Marcus offered Gianni a hand and hoisted him to his feet. “Just because you’re on the attack doesn’t mean you can let your guard down.”
“He’s not left-handed. It doesn’t seem natural for him to thrust leading left.”
“You aren’t left-handed. You attack on the left.”
Gianni rubbed his side. It was going to be bruised. Again. Vinnie didn’t hold back. He narrowed his eyes and squared off.
“Bring it.” Vinnie grinned and spun his staff in front of him.
“Hey, it’s our turn,” Coz said.
Marcus stepped between Gianni and Vinnie and pushed them each back a step. “Ladies, stand down. Your sisters want a go.”
Usually talk like that would garner equally sarcastic retorts, but Gianni was grateful for the break.
Vinnie must have been tired too, because he bowed and gestured to the sparring arena. “Have at it, girls.” Then he joined Gianni against the wall. Marcus stayed on the mats to coach Nico and Coz through their fight.
“Did I get you too hard?”
No way was Gianni admitting his pain to Vinnie. “Nah, I’m fine. Just tired. It’s wicked hot in here today.”
“No argument there.”
Usually the men wore full dobaks, or martial arts uniforms in the gym, but that day they had all stripped off their shirts, even Marcus, and were battling in nothing but the wide-legged black pants. While Marcus worked with Nico and Coz, Enrico taught a young black belt class across the gym. Poor kids didn’t have the luxury of working shirtless. Rico kept them in their full uniforms.
Gianni rubbed his side until he and Vinnie got up for round two. Just before they started, Paolo came in with a young boy in tow. “Marcus, this is Ben. He’s going to start training with us. Ben, this is Marcus, one of my partners and an instructor here. And these are four of our associates, Gianni, Vinnie, Nico, and Bobby.”
“Everyone calls me Coz.” No one called him Bobby except Paolo, and Gianni suspected Coz didn’t care much for it.
Paolo grinned at Coz over Ben’s head, but Ben didn’t pay attention to any of it. He stared at Marcus’s chest. “Cool tattoo, man. Does it have any special significance?”
Marcus grabbed a towel off the floor and hung it around his neck, covering the ink with the tail of the cloth and his hands as they grasped the edges.
Paolo turned Ben toward Enrico and the young black belt class. “First, you should learn right away we don’t address elders here as ‘man’ or ‘dude’ or any other nonsense. Second, we need to let these gentlemen get back to their training. Let’s go meet Enrico and the students who are more your age. You should be at their level in about three years.”
They turned to walk away, and Marcus donned his dobak shirt, securing the waist with a plain black belt. The lack of stripes didn’t mean anything. Everyone used plain black belts in the gym, but they all had embroidered ones with their names and ranks for competition. Marcus had a belt in his possession with seven stripes on it. Gianni’s and his brothers’ belts had six each.
While Marcus dressed, his cell phone beeped. So did Paolo’s. Quick glances at their screens caused them both to frown then exchange worried looks. Enrico left his class and joined them. A senior instructor had already taken over his class. The three men bowed their heads together and discussed the message in hushed tones.
Gianni nudged Vinnie and caught his attention, but he looked as puzzled as Gianni felt.
Paolo turned back toward his young charge. “Ben, go sit in that room and watch those boys. Someone will be with you shortly.” He shoved the boy toward the class Rico had abandoned and gestured to a senior black belt to assist the new student.
Marcus turned to Gianni and the others. “Keep practicing. Bo staff, not daggers. At least another hour. We need to go.” And he, Paolo, and Enrico ran out of the gym without any further explanation.
“What the hell do you think that was all about?” Vinnie asked.
“It’s gotta be something for work,” Gianni said.
“Yeah, but which work?” Coz asked.
Since they had graduated college, they had been hired at MDH, a multi-national conglomerate with offices in Italy, the United States, and Argentina. The three men who had just left, plus one who wasn’t there, had been their mentors since they had been young boys, training them in martial arts, getting them into elite colleges, making inroads for them at MDH, and even helping them get graduate degrees in their respective fields. There had been talk of another job that they were being groomed for, but no one would give the guys more information. Gianni suspected it had something to do with the tattoo Marcus had.
On Marcus’s left pec, near his heart, was the outline of a dagger. All four of the mentors had them. Marcus’s was white, Enrico’s was green, and Paolo’s was black. Sal, the mentor that Gianni was closest to, had a red one. The daggers were simple enough when you looked at them, yet there was something exquisite about them. Each one of them alone was a true work of art, but for the few people who had ever seen them when the men were all together, they were stunning. Each pointed in a different direction, as though they were parts of a whole picture. Gianni didn’t know the significance of the colors or the directions—even Sal wouldn’t tell him—but he was certain they had to do with the other job the Sal kept alluding to. The most he could get out of him was that Gianni and his brothers were likely the chosen, and they’d learn about it all when the time was right.
Whatever that was supposed to mean.
“Well, if it was important and had to do with MDH, you’d think one of us would have been notified,” Nico said. “We cover pretty much the whole company. We definitely overlap their departments.”
“That leaves the other job. Whatever it is,” Vinnie said. “What do you think it is?”
“My luck it’s something illegal,” Coz said.
“Why would you say that?” Nico asked.
Coz shrugged. “Track record.”
“Sal wouldn’t do anything illegal.”
“There goes Gianni with his man-crush again.” Vinnie put his bo staff down and grabbed a dagger.
“I don’t have a man-crush.” Gianni grabbed a dagger and squared off against Vinnie.
“Didn’t Marcus say we were supposed to practice staff for another hour?” Nico asked.
“Are you going to tell?” Vinnie continued circling Gianni.
“I like daggers better, anyway.” Coz grabbed the remaining staffs and put them away. He selected two daggers and offered one to Nico, keeping the other for himself.
Nico sighed but accepted it.
“So, when do you think they’ll tell us what’s really going on?” Vinnie struck at Gianni. “Those guys are getting old. It’ll be our turn soon enough.”
Gianni started circling. “Old? They’re in prime fighting condition.”
“We’re in prime fighting condition,” Vinnie said. “They’re in great shape for their age, but they’re not young anymore. If they need to fight for their job, they’re past prime.”
Gianni swept Vinnie’s legs and held the dagger to his throat. “Submit?”
Vinnie tapped out.
“They can still kick our asses.” He helped Vinnie up and immediately tripped him again. He pointed his dagger to Vinnie’s throat, but Vinnie just laughed.
Then Coz swore. Nico had cut this left bicep, and it gushed.
“Sorry. Let’s go stitch it up.” They left their daggers behind and went to the medical room for Nico to clean and stitch Coz’s arm.
Most of the men at the gym had wounds in some stage of healing. They had all gone through medic training and could administer CPR as well as stitch wounds. A few of them had performed minor surgeries on occasion.
Gianni and Vinnie continued practicing dagger drills and speculating what the big secret was. Nico and Coz returned in ten minutes and rejoined the practice and the conversation.
None of them came close to guessing the big secret, but they’d learn it all too soon.
So, there you have it. Something that happened before what happens, if you get what I mean. I appreciate the chance to share this scene with you and to close out the tour on familiar ground. Thanks for having me here today!
To show my gratitude, I’m offering two prizes to commenters.
One commenter will receive a free eBook of their choosing, not just from the Medici Protectorate series (although you can choose one of those), but from any of my works (the complete list can be found by clicking here).
Another commenter (US only) will be sent a Medici Protectorate gift pack. Every day this week I gave away a little Medici swag. Today, one commenter gets the whole bunch: bookmark, refrigerator magnet, pen, and sticky note pad. Good luck!
Medici Protectorate Series
Premise: The four Notaro sisters are the secret legacy of the Medici, famed rulers of Italy. Michelangelo promised his Medician benefactor that he’d always watch over the family, and as such, he formed the Medici Protectorate to guard them throughout the generations. Now, Italy is in political turmoil and revolution is imminent. The people are calling for new rulers, and the Notaros are poised to assume control. But a nefarious opposing faction wants the power for themselves. Never was the family in more jeopardy. The four sisters are protected by the Brotherhood—four elite warriors of the Medici Protectorate prophesied to keep the family safe until they fulfill their destinies. They journey around the world in an effort to keep the family safe and the future of Italy secure.
Bleeding Heart: Gianni, a warrior destined to defend the secret legacy of the Medici, protects his charge Francesca from a prophesied assassin. Their worlds collide in passion and violence, and he must conquer her fears and his demons in time to save them both.
Bleeding Heart is only $.99 throughout the duration of the tour.
Click the universal link for purchase information.
Mind Control: Vinnie copes with his own identity issues while he struggles to protect the one prophesized Medici descendant, Jo, who refuses to embrace her heritage. With lives in peril, can they find the strength to overcome their tragic pasts, or is it too late?
Mind Control is only $1.99 throughout the duration of the tour.
Click the universal link for purchase information.
Body Armor: Nico works to increase his powers and save the Notaro family matriarch, but his private agendas put his charge Donni’s life at risk. When secrets and lies result in three abductions, the group will need to place their trust him to save them all.
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