Shadow Dance (Shadow Riders Series #8)

Shadow Dance (Shadow Riders Series #8)

by Christine Feehan
Shadow Dance (Shadow Riders Series #8)

Shadow Dance (Shadow Riders Series #8)

by Christine Feehan

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Overview

Tensions and passions rise in the city that never sleeps in this propulsive novel in #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan’s Shadow Riders series.

As the head of the New York City Shadow Riders and his branch of the Ferraro family, Geno bears the weight of dual responsibilities on his broad shoulders. There’s nothing more important to Geno than protecting his territory and his famiglia. So when his own parents become the latest victims in a string of vicious murders, Geno is ready to go scorched earth. He thinks he has the assassin in his sights, but he’s unprepared for the firestorm their connection ignites....
 
Amaranthe Aubert’s lithe dancer’s body conceals a spine of steel. Even held captive and faced with the threat of lethal interrogation, she’s not about to cave under pressure. She had nothing to do with the murders, no matter what the ruthless man in front of her believes. But before Amara knows what’s happening, Geno connects to her in the shadows, stripping her bare of all artifice. Now, she has no way to hide her true reason for being in New York—and nowhere to run from the man who’s very presence steals the very breath from her lungs....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593638729
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/22/2023
Series: Shadow Riders Series , #8
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: eBook
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 1,221
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Christine Feehan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Carpathian series, the GhostWalker series, the Leopard series, the Shadow series, the Torpedo Ink series, and stand-alone romantic suspense novels.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Geno Ferraro leaned one hip against the wall as he looked through the two-way mirror at the prisoner seated very uncomfortably in the metal chair in the middle of the interrogation room. The room was all about efficiency. Drains, overhead sprays and hooks, long counters laid out with power tools and instruments one could use to help the prisoner regain their memory very quickly if they'd mysteriously lost it. A shower. A toilet. A sink. Even a tub. Just about anything one needed for a successful interrogation if one was serious. He was very serious. Murder was a serious crime-doubly so if the victims were one's parents.

"Something's wrong, Stefano. I can feel it," he said, never once taking his gaze from the prisoner. "I don't want her to see you or my brothers. No one else. Fiero and Donte Latini, my main personal protectors, picked her up and brought her here. It couldn't be helped that she saw their faces, but I don't want her to see anyone else until I know what's going on. I sent for you because I need someone I can trust implicitly to help me figure this out."

Geno had been head of the Ferraro family in New York for years. The Ferraro territory was a crime-free, safe place for those who lived and worked in the neighborhood. His neighborhood. He knew every shop owner. Every resident. This was his community, and he was responsible for it. He took that responsibility very seriously. Ferraro territory started right on the edge of Little Italy and ran out all the way west through Tribeca to the Hudson River.

"I don't just know every one of the businesses and those living in my territory, Stefano, I know most of those in Little Italy. They know me and my brothers and our famiglia. They know they can count on us if there's need. Mama was raised with her second cousins, Viola and Noemi. Both married and became nurses. When they retired, they went to work in their husbands' shops. Viola's husband, Marcelle, had a hat store. Noemi's husband, Caio, had a very high-end watch shop."

Stefano Ferraro regarded the prisoner with shrewd assessing eyes. He ran the Ferraro territory in Chicago and had interrogated many prisoners under tough circumstances. He turned that piercing gaze from the prisoner to his cousin.

"There have always been petty crimes, thefts, tourists getting pockets picked, I was told, but our family was never asked to help," Geno continued. "Mama would visit her cousins and come home at times and tell us that the thefts were becoming more frequent, but no one thought to come to us. A few months ago, I could see concern on her face and strain on Papa's. He's always been distant, but he became even more so. I wondered why they didn't insist on investigating."

Geno pulled his gaze away from the prisoner to look at his cousin. Although they were somewhat close in age, he'd always looked up to Stefano.

"I rarely questioned my parents. Once they turned over the reins of the business to me, they no longer gave advice to me on any subject, including parenting. They made it clear they would only do their job and nothing more. My brothers, Salvatore and Lucca, don't remember them any other way, but I do. Not even concerning themselves with the escalating problems in Little Italy, with their friends and even famiglia's livelihoods and safety, made no sense to me."

Geno shoved a hand through his hair. "Granted, in the beginning the crimes were petty. Stolen merchandise. Tourists being robbed with more frequency. But the thefts became more violent over a period of months."

"I take it your parents refused to turn the series of crimes over to investigators," Stefano ventured. His voice was low.

Geno sighed. "They wouldn't even discuss the subject, not even when many of the business owners began to look on the Ferraros with suspicion."

"Why would that be?" Stefano's expression didn't change.

"Many of the robberies occurred after hours. The safes were locked. There was no evidence of a break-in. No images were caught on surveillance tapes in the store or outside of it. Those who knew of our reputation began to worry that one of us was stealing and the others were protecting a family member."

"And yet your parents refused to order an investigation."

Geno nodded slowly.

"You could have ordered one."

"I could have, but I was gone more than I was home. We're short of riders, and I was continually taking rotations. I had hoped my parents would step up and see that there was a problem, especially as the robberies began to spill over into our territory. Not only didn't that happen, but when it did and I insisted we investigate, they threw roadblocks in the way of the investigation."

"That makes no sense."

"Nothing my parents have done has made sense since the night my mother woke me up and took me into their suite in the dead of night eighteen years ago. Their private surgeon, Dr. Mortan, was there along with Dr. Vargas, an anesthesiologist, Viola, Noemi and my parents' bodyguards. Blood was everywhere, and IVs were hooked up to my father with fluids and blood draining into him."

"You never really talked about that night, Geno."

"There was no explanation. His leg was amputated, but I don't know how he was injured. He never said. Neither would my mother. For one year, we weren't allowed into their suite. There was no contact with either of them. That night, my father gripped my shoulder with merciless fingers and stared at me with hard, pitiless eyes. I'll never forget the way his fingers dug into my shoulder or his eyes stared into me. He looked wild and not at all like my father. It was the first time in my life I was ever really afraid of him. He looked like a demon."

"He must have been in tremendous pain. You were thirteen. Your father was being prepped to have his leg amputated." As always, Stefano's voice was low and steady.

Geno nodded. "I know that now, but then it was terrifying. He said, 'You're a man now, Geno. You'll lead the family. You will guide the riders and protect the people in our territory. There can be no mistakes. None. All deaths will be on your shoulders. Yours alone. Do you understand? We look to you now.' Of course, I didn't understand. How could I? I was thirteen fucking years old. He wasn't making any sense. No one would answer any questions. His bodyguard grabbed me by my arm and hustled me out of the room. He threw me out and slammed the door shut. That was the last time I saw my father or mother for over a year. I was left to try to explain things to my two younger brothers when there was little or no explanation to give them."

Along with being head of his family, Geno had become leader of the shadow riders of New York, and it was an immense responsibility. A rider was able to slip through one shadow to the next finding portals to travel unseen anywhere he wanted to go. There was a terrible toll on the body. The rider trained from the age of two to be able to withstand the pull of the tunnels. They could tear him apart. More than once Geno had had to carry a dead rider from the shadows. The riders were required to always keep maps of cities in their heads because the shadows were so fast it was easy to get turned around, and again, once one was lost, there was no getting out. Shadow riding was extremely dangerous. Riders were tasked with the job of bringing justice to those who couldn't go through regular law enforcement.

"A series of trainers arrived from France," Geno continued. The Archambaults were considered the fastest shadow riders in the world. They policed all shadow riders and were the only riders who could investigate and assassinate a rider. "They trained me from morning until night on every aspect of riding and leadership. I was required to learn languages and interrogation. I was barely allowed to see my younger brothers and often heard the riders from France speaking in harsh voices to them. That was the only time I stopped what I was doing and intervened. I didn't care if I got in trouble with my trainers, and I would. They would be furious that I would dare to reprimand them for being so ugly with Salvatore and Lucca. I didn't have our father or mother to guide me, and my two brothers were so much younger. They were left alone and grieving for our parents. I didn't want strangers treating them so harshly. I understood they had to be trained to ride shadows and to pay attention to their other studies, but I wasn't going to allow anyone to be ugly to them. I just wasn't."

"That's why you called me," Stefano said. "And asked me all those questions about the way I balanced raising my siblings and training them to ride in the shadows."

"Yes. You had to raise your brothers and sister from a very early age, and you're the only person I've ever trusted, Stefano, with my brothers. I needed advice, so I called you. You'd been looking after your siblings since they were born."

The two men looked at one another, understanding and deep affection in their eyes for just one moment, and then movement inside the interrogation room drew their attention back to the present. The prisoner didn't turn her head, but lifted it slightly, just enough that she could shift her gaze around the room. They studied the prisoner through the glass.

It was extremely rare for a woman to be held in that room. In fact, Geno couldn't remember the last time it had ever happened. She had her head down, partially lying on her forearm where it was tied to an arm of the chair. She looked tiny, so slender she could have been a child.

"Who is she?" Stefano asked.

"Her name is Amaranthe Aubert. She arrived in the country five months ago from a region in the South of France. She dances and teaches ballet at the Ferraro Performing Arts Theatre Company. She is also working in Little Italy at their Performing Arts Center. From all accounts she's an excellent dancer."

"I take it your investigators have checked up on her in the short time they've had?"

Geno nodded. "She's danced all over the world. I've got a file on her, but nothing about her makes the slightest sense. At least there's no reason she should be sitting in a chair waiting to be taken apart by a man willing to be as brutal and as disconnected from emotion as I can be. I had even planned to ask Dario for help if need be."

"You changed your mind." Like Geno, Stefano hadn't taken his gaze from the prisoner.

"Something is very off here, Stefano. This is the third time she's done what she's doing. That stealthy scan of her surroundings. I don't go to the ballet. I've never had the time or the inclination to go until just now, just watching her, and that's a huge red flag given the circumstances."

Both watched as Amaranthe's dark eyes slowly moved around the room, taking in everything from the ceiling to the walls to the floor.

"I guarantee she knows the exact position of every single tool in that room. She'll be able to tell you the distance to every exit. She probably knows our escape routes," Geno said. "No ballet dancer would be sitting there that cool after being dragged into a basement by two bodyguards and tied to a chair with torture instruments surrounding her. She may be trying to look scared and intimidated, but she's not in the least afraid. Her brain is working on something."

Stefano considered the various possibilities, just as Geno knew he would. "You're keeping everyone away from her because you believe she's an assassin."

Geno's nod was slow in coming because he didn't want to believe it. She looked the least likely person in the world to be an assassin.

"The first murders were Viola and Marcelle. The hat shop was robbed, and both were stabbed repeatedly. Brutally. In fact, each had twelve stab wounds. It appeared personal to me, Stefano. Viola was seventy-two. Marcelle seventy-five. There was no need to kill them. Marcelle would have turned over the cash. The police were called. Naturally, our family was approached. For me that was a relief, although I would have insisted we investigate anyway. Viola and Marcelle were family."

The moment the murders had been reported to the police, he knew friends from Little Italy would end up in the parlor of his parents' home.

The way their family business worked was simple-yet not. Anyone could ask for a meeting with his parents. In their world-the Ferraros' world known as shadow riders-his parents were described as "greeters." They had a psychic gift, one that made them able to discern whether someone they spoke with was lying. Former shadow riders often took the job of greeters because every rider had to be able to discern a lie. Geno knew the gift was also aided by the casual conversation they had with the petitioner in the beginning of the interview establishing breathing patterns, heart rate, and inflection in the voice.

No cell phones were allowed. No recording. Those asking for a visit were invited guests simply having tea or coffee and telling his parents what crime had occurred, what evidence they had and any suspicion they had of who might have done it.

The greeters listened but didn't participate in that part of the conversation, never taking part in discussions of crimes and never making any promises. That way, if a policeman slipped through their precautions, there was no chance of being trapped. If the greeters believed a crime had been committed and were willing to have the Ferraro family investigate, they never said so.

The greeters never indicated in any way that they were going to help. They simply inclined their heads, gathered whatever evidence had been brought to them and murmured their sympathies. They made polite conversation and then indicated the meeting was over, adding that someone from the family would check in with them occasionally to see if they needed anything.

At that point, all evidence was turned over to the investigators. The New York Ferraro family had two sets of investigators. Usually, one team investigated the petitioner and the other the suspect. Geno's cousins Lanz and Deangelo Rossi were exceptional investigators. There was very little they couldn't do on a keyboard. Team two was also made up of cousins, Beniamino and Davide Latini, and they were equally as skilled. Geno relied on them not only for their skills as investigators but for their accounting skills as well.

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