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CODE OF HONOR
Spontagio Family #1
Releasing Aug 25th, 2015
In a series debut for fans of Tracy Wolff and Sylvia Day, New York Timesbestselling author Missy Johnson asks a burning question: What happens when love is undeniable—and taboo?
Pietro Gustovi is loyal, polished, and hard as stone, the kind of guy women want and men respect. At twenty-three, he’s survived tragedies that would break men twice his age. And he owes it all to his father’s closest friend, Giovanni Spontagio, who took him in as an orphaned teenager. Pietro would give his life for Giovanni . . . but his heart belongs to Giovanni’s daughter.
Raised in Chicago under the spotlight of power and privilege, Lucy Spontiago feels most alive on stage. Determined to become a prima ballerina, she escapes her father’s protective gaze long enough to audition for the ballet in New York City. Soon, however, Lucy realizes that she is not alone. Pietro is watching her back. And though he’s like a brother to her, Lucy cannot deny the thrill she feels knowing his eyes are on her.
Pietro could never betray his mentor by sleeping with his only child. But Lucy follows her passions, no matter how forbidden. Soon their nights are consumed by explosive, red-hot temptation—a dance that will expose shocking secrets and burn everything else to the ground.
“Miss Spontagio. Thank you.”
I open my eyes, surprised to have been cut short. That’s it? All my hard work and determination had been cut down to a mere eighty-six seconds? How could they possibly have seen my capabilities from that?
My eyes drop and I nod, sure my dream is over. As I walk over to my things, I’m already consoling myself over not getting in. I try not to focus on the cold silence in the room as I gather my bags. Finally, I’m ready to leave. I throw a smile at the panel over my shoulder as I exit the studio, just as the next girl enters, a hopeful smile on her face.
Outside, the reality of what just happened hits me. Holy shit, I just auditioned for the New York Ballet Company. Even if I don’t progress any further, the chance to be able to dance behind those walls had been pure perfection.
I’m still dazed as I glance down at my phone and realize I have ten minutes until my bus for the airport leaves. Breaking into a sprint, I rush through the crowds of people heading toward Grand Central Station, where I have only a few minutes to catch my bus.
I make it with only seconds to spare, stepping onto the bus just as the doors begin to close. The bus is nearly empty, with only an elderly couple occupying seats up near the front.
I choose a seat and sit down, crossing my left leg over my right. I take my phone out of my bag and stuff the bag between my feet and the wall of the bus before slinking back in the seat and closing my eyes. Shivering, I reach down and retrieve my gloves, sliding them onto my hands. Even though spring has officially started, the weather remains unpredictable and, at the moment, cold.
My mind replays the audition on a loop. I keep going over things I could’ve done better. I jump as my phone vibrates in my lap. Picking it up, I see that it’s my father. Wincing, I let it ring out, then switch it over to silent. I hate lying to him, but there was no way he would’ve let me go to the audition if I’d asked. I might be twenty-one, but in his eyes, I’ll always be his helpless little girl.
He’s always been overprotective, but things got worse after Mom died. The pain of losing her and not being able to protect her made him anxious about my safety. I couldn’t even walk to school or go shopping with friends without a mountain of security tagging along behind me. It’s only the last year or so that he’s allowed me to go out with Bella without an entourage, though I’m sure he still has them follow me. Thank God for my trust fund that I’d had access to since I turned eighteen. I’d been transferring small, unnoticeable amounts over to another bank account over the last three years, building myself up a nice little nest egg that my father had no idea about. I knew my father well enough to know he probably scrutinized my bank statements for any suspicious purchases. This way I had access to money that he couldn’t trace— which was perfect for secret phone accounts and trips to New York.
My flight home is uneventful, and on time. Bella waits for me in the parking lot at the airport in Chicago. I cross the street and walk over to her, sliding into the front seat of her cramped red sports car. Not one for practicality, that’s Bella to a T, and I’m constantly making fun of her ability to choose the world’s most impractical car. She smiles at me, her eyes wide with anticipation as she waits for me to spill details on my day. When all I offer her is a smirk, she reaches over and punches my arm. I laugh, rubbing it.
“Tell me how it went,” she exclaims, her lips forming a pout. “I never hold out on you.”
“It was okay.” I laugh. “And for the record, your stories always have way too
much information. I’d appreciate you holding back occasionally.”
“Lucia Spontagio, you have to give me more than ‘It was okay,’” she mimics, her pretty face screwing up into a frown. “And we’ve been friends for ten years. Now you decide I share too much?”
“It went okay,” I repeat, not sure what else to say. “I danced. They thanked me, and then I left. That was it.”
“That’s it?” she repeats, a frown on her lips.
“What were you excepting, them to run after me, begging me to join their company?” I laugh.
“Well, kinda. Yeah.” She shrugs, and then starts the car, pulling out onto the street with little regard for other drivers. I hold on to my seat as she goes flying around a corner without signaling. “So, what’s the plan if you actually get accepted?” Bella asks, throwing me a look.
“I’m not going to get in,” I say, then laugh. I rest my head against the window and sigh. I know what she’s getting at. Even if I were lucky enough to be accepted, there was no way in hell my father would let me move so far away from him.
“You’re an adult, Luce. Remember that. You need to decide what’s right for you and not take no for an answer. Your dad has kept you sheltered for way too long. He won’t even let you go to parties, for God’s sake.”
“He’s just protective,” I say, feeling the need to defend him. I know he loves me more than life itself. I’m his only daughter. All we have is each other.
“Yeah, well, there’s protective and then there’s Giovanni.” She giggles, nudging me. “C’mon, Luce. You’re twenty-one and you haven’t even kissed a guy! I was hitting third base when I was fourteen.”
“And you wonder why my father thinks you’re a bad influence on me,” I reply, rolling my eyes. “And how did we get from my dancing to guys?”
“Because it always comes back to guys.” She laughs, slapping the steering wheel. “Speaking of which, I have no idea how you’ve never hit on that brother of yours.”
“Could you sound any more creepy? And he’s not my brother,” I growl, my face heating up.
She’s always going on about Pietro. I’m not blind. Of course I see how ridiculously hot he is. I also realize that he’s two years older than me and so totally out of my reach that even thinking about him like that should be off-limits. I wasn’t about to make a fool of myself over any guy, let alone the one who would never let me hear the end of it.
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Missy Johnson is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in a small town in Victoria, Australia, with her husband and her confused pets (a dog who thinks that she is a cat, a cat who thinks he is a dog . . . you get the picture). When she’s not writing, she can usually be found looking for something to read.