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 Lantini, 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.”
Gino 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 husband’s 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.
Gino 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. 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 he’d 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 be 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 police 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 interrogating. 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. 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. If fact, Geno couldn’t remember the last time it had ever happened. She had her head down, partially laying on her forearm where it was tied to 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 earlier 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 to 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 all time.”
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 Ferraro’s world known as Shadow Riders—his parents were described as “Greeters”. They had a psychic gift, one 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, heartrate, and inflection in the voice.
No cell phone was allowed. No recording. Those asking for a visit were an invited guest or 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 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 cousins, Beniamino and Davide Latino and they were equally as skilled. Geno relied on them not only for their skills as investigators but also for their accounting skills as well.
“In this case, there was very little evidence left behind. Anyone killing with a knife, particularly when stabbing that many times, usually will cut themselves and leave traces of their own blood behind, but they didn’t. There wasn’t so much as a hair. No fingerprints, no partial sole print of a shoe despite all the blood.”
“A pro,” Stefano said.
“A professional wouldn’t stab someone that many times. He would kill quickly and cleanly. He’d get the job done and leave.”
Gino took another long look at the woman slumped in the chair looking fragile and defeated other than those eyes. Her eyes were dark brown, so dark they were nearly black. They didn’t seem to miss much at all. Her lashes were thick and long, very feminine adding to the dramatic sweep around her large eyes. Already, the lashes were falling and she once again appeared to be that shaken prisoner, the epitome of a defenseless woman terrified of her captors.
“The second murder victims were Noemi and Caio. It was an exact match of the first one right down to the number of stab wounds and occurred thirty days after the first. Like clockwork if you will excuse the pun, since it was a clock shop they robbed. No watches or clocks were taken, only the money in the safe. Although, I’m not convinced there was money in the safe to take. The safe was open, but that doesn’t mean Caio and Noemi had money in it,” Geno said. “That was the conclusion the police came to, that it was a robbery.”
“What makes you think it wasn’t a robbery?”
“I think these are revenge killings, Stefano. And I’m beginning to believe another shadow rider family is involved.”
Stefano sighed. “I was afraid you were going to say that.”
“It’s the only way they could get to my parents. Both of them.” Geno indicated the woman slumped in the chair. “I came up with a trap to catch a thief. I believe whoever has been doing the petty crimes is helping the one doing the murders. The petty crimes are being committed to spread dissention and cast suspicion on our family. Unfortunately, I think I may have been outsmarted and brought the assassin right into my home where she wanted to be all along. She was able to get to my parents, but she couldn’t get to me.”
Stefano studied the woman with his piercing eyes. Unlike Geno, he could step back from the situation and be completely unemotional. “I’m not in the least affected by the woman, where it is very clear to me that you are. Have you heard her speak?”
“Not yet. Nor have I seen her shadow.”
“Yet you’re convinced she’s a shadow rider.”
“I think she is, yes,” Geno agreed. “And elite. Cool under fire. She’d have to be to stick her head in the lion’s den. If she came here without backup, without a way to send her family members the coordinates to aid her, she has to believe she can kill me and escape.”
“It’s good you aren’t underestimating her as most men would. It might be a better idea to have someone else interrogate her, Geno. If you’re the target, it would be better not to give her access to you. We need the information she has. Dario can extract it without danger to himself.”
Dario Bosco was one of the few nonriders in existence who knew of the shadow riders and lived. He was also a powerful crime lord holding a vast territory in Chicago for the Saldi family. The Saldi family was reputed to be the number one enemy of the Ferraro family. Emmanuelle Ferraro, youngest of the Chicago Ferraros and Stefano’s sister was wife to Valentino Saldi who happened to be head of the Chicago Saldi family. Dario had been Valentino’s enforcer for years and had the reputation for being vicious as well as able to get information from any prisoner.
Geno shook his head; his entire body rejected the idea. Every single cell in his body. He had such a visceral reaction to the idea of Dario interrogating Amaranthe he knew he was in trouble. Had it been anyone other than Stefano with him, he wouldn’t have said a word, but his uneasiness was the very reason he’d sent for his cousin. Stefano was the one person he trusted.
“I can’t let Dario take her apart, Stefano. I haven’t heard her voice. My shadow hasn’t connected with hers. I don’t even know if she’s a shadow rider, but somehow there’s a connection between us. I don’t know what it is, but as much as I know she’s a definite threat and she has information I need, there is a part of me that feels as if I need to protect her.”
“You know it’s too dangerous for you to be in there with her.”
“I can’t allow anyone else to take a chance. I do know without a doubt that she’s lethal. She may look like a fragile little dancer, but I know in my gut she’s anything but.” Geno was certain he was right.
“Let’s take this back to the house,” Stefano said. He didn’t wait for Geno’s agreement, he simply stepped into a shadow and disappeared.
Geno watched the woman for a few more minutes wondering if it would be better to simply kill her than take a chance on her killing anyone else he loved. Shadow riders executed criminals—men and women who had committed heinous crimes. Those criminals had somehow managed to escape justice and the riders had been called in as a last resort. He didn’t know for absolute certain Amaranthe was guilty of any crime. He couldn’t sentence her to death.
Swearing under his breath, he stepped into the nearest shadow and allowed the familiar wrenching pain to tear him apart, take his mind from the puzzle of the woman to be replaced by a grid of the city as he made his way home.
Stefano waited for him in a chair in front of the fireplace in one of his three libraries. Geno preferred open spaces as a rule, but this library appeared small, mostly because of the tall walls of books surrounding him on every side. Geno liked real books. He had one wall that was enclosed and temperature-controlled so the vintage books were preserved carefully from the sun and no further damage could be done to them. He preferred to read them in the language they were originally written in and went to great lengths to acquire them.
“Tell me about the night your parents were murdered,” Stefano said.
Geno poured two small glasses of scotch and handed one to his cousin. “We’d taken an assignment in San Francisco. I was the primary rider. Salvatore and Lucca were the alibi with our cousins there.”
Shadow riders rarely meted out justice in their own cities. They investigated and brought riders in from another city to do the actual assassination. If Stefano came in from Chicago to do the actual assassination, he would do so with his brothers on a private jet. Several family members would come to party. One member would ride the shadows to the jet and board unseen. While the others partied in front of the paparazzi all night with the cousins in that city in front of cameras, the one in the shadows would dispense justice to the criminal. No one would ever know the Ferraros had anything to do with the death. They simply looked like they had too much money and too many toys.
“I appeared to stay home that night. Our parents always visited their friends and the priest in the evenings and took a walk around the neighborhood. Papa had a prosthetic leg, but at night he often used a wheelchair. He was doing so that night. They liked to go to the park after they visited the priest. That’s where the killer caught up with them.”
“Even at their age and with your father in a wheelchair, he still had to be dangerous,” Stefano pointed out. “Your mother was a rider as well, Geno. I don’t care if this killer surprised them, how was he or she able to kill both? You had to have seen the reports. You know the sequence of events.”
“Just as with the first two murders, Papa was killed first with a slash to the throat from behind. He was jabbed twice more, once to the jugular and once under his arm. That attack took seconds.”
“In those seconds your mother had to have been alerted.”
Geno nodded, swirling the scotch. “I’ve thought of this a hundred times. The killer rode a shadow right up behind my father’s chair. That’s the only explanation or he would have known. My mother was facing my father.”
“There was a second killer,” Stefano concluded. “He or she came out of the shadows behind your mother.”
“It had to have happened that way. The police had no idea my parents had the skills they did. If Mama was facing Papa and the killer emerged from the shadows to cut his throat …”
“He would have had to carry a knife through the shadows, Geno,” Stefano said. “That would have been impossible. How would he have been able to do that? What composition would that have been?”
“It is possible. You know there are ways to make weapons out of natural materials. Damian Ferraro has done it,” Geno objected.
“He’s a jeweler,” Stefano said. “And yes, he does experiment for us. Another cousin, a good man.”
“He can’t be the only one able to come up with ideas. Your own brothers experiment.”
Stefano took a drink of the scotch. “Suppose they managed to come up with a way to take a knife through the shadows and there are two of them. One emerges behind your mother. She’s facing your father. How is it the police have no inkling there’s a second killer?”
“Every stab wound was in the front and the pattern is exactly the same as on Viola and Noemi. It appeared as if the killer went straight from murdering Papa to stabbing Mama and he stabbed her twelve times, just as he had stabbed Viola and Noemi. In fact, there was a transfer of Papa’s blood to Mama.”
“So, the same knife was used on her.” Stefano frowned. “If there were two people what did the second killer do?”
“Inject my mother with a drug to prevent her from fending them off.” That was the only conclusion Geno could come up with. “It had to be fast acting and had to leave her system quickly for it not to show up when a tox screen was run. The ME didn’t find an injection site either.”
It wasn’t easy to calmly discuss the murder of his parents, but over the years, as head of his family and the shadow riders, Geno had learned to compartmentalize. He needed a cool head and to be able to think quickly. While he had initially disliked what he considered the overbearing and exacting Archambaults when they had arrived to take over his life, they had trained him in every aspect of leadership.
They worked day and night with him on every type of self-defense and fighting technique they could teach him. They were never satisfied with his speed or reaction time. The Archambaults were the fastest in the world and training with them brought his speed up, improving his reflexes and forcing his body into a becoming a machine it would never have been without them. Not only his body, but his mind as well.
The Archambaults had rotated trainers and stayed throughout the years until he was of age, even after his parents opened the doors to their rooms. They never once consulted with his parents, only him. Every decision he made was his alone, but they asked him why he made the decision and after discussed the consequences with him.
They insisted on talking to him in various languages and corrected him on accents. He didn’t have tutors the way his brothers did—the Archambaults tutored him while they worked out. He was forced to do several assignments at the same time to keep his mind working while his body did other things. They wanted certain muscle memory to be automatic and eventually, even though when Geno was in his teenage years and despised every single Archambault, he had to admit, they knew what they were doing. His brain worked at a high rate of speed even while he was in a fight for his life. He didn’t have to plan his moves ahead of time, his body worked smoothly and efficiently. He still trained every day and left nothing to chance. He paid attention to instincts and every gut feeling. He might have an occasional drink of scotch, but it was rare.
Geno found, as he grew older, he was grateful for the men and women who had given up so much of their time to come and train and him. In turn, he had trained his brothers and knew they were as safe as he could make them in the shadows. As suspicious as he had become when his parents had been murdered, he acted on his instincts as the Archambaults had taught him.
“You’re worried these killers aren’t just targeting your family,” Stefano suddenly guessed, leaning forward. “That’s why you held a private service for your parents and didn’t even allow me to attend, isn’t it?”
His parents were entitled to a show of respect from other riders. Normally representatives from around the world would come to their funeral. Geno and his brothers held a private closed service, sending out the word that they would hold a memorial service later.
“I couldn’t take a chance with other riders. Certainly not with you or your famiglia. You are like my own. The same with our cousins in LA and San Francisco. I wouldn’t risk you. I worry for Salvatore and Lucca all the time. Someone is behind this.”
“The kills are not the signature kills of a trained rider,” Stefano said.
Geno watched him closely. He always felt like he could learn from his cousin. Stefano was a shrewd man and very analytical. Not only was he a family man, but as head of the riders in Chicago, like Geno, he had carried responsibility from a very young age. He took that responsibility seriously and never stopped trying to do the best for his family. No one would ever have thought a Ferraro would have formed a partnership with a Saldi and yet Stefano had made it work. He changed with the times, but always kept his family safe. He played his hands close to his chest, not always consulting the counsel for the riders.
The Ferraro cousins were close. LA, San Francisco, Chicago, New York. They relied on one another because they were cut off from the other riders for the most part. Until Stefano had found his wife, Francesca, the others didn’t believe they had a chance of finding a partner they could love and raise a family with. He had given them all hope. Now his siblings were married. His family had taken in Elie Archambault and Elie was happily married as well.
“Why do you think they started here, with your family, if you believe their ultimate goal is to draw the other riders in and kill as many as possible?”
This was where he was on shaky ground and Geno knew it. He didn’t have much to go on, only the observations of a scared, thirteen-year-old boy. But this was Stefano. Over their years together, they’d come to respect one another. If anyone would listen to him, it would be his cousin.
“I think these killings have to do with whatever happened the night my father lost his leg. I know everyone was told he was in an automobile accident, but that wasn’t true. He was wearing his rider clothes. So was my mother. I watched my parents all the time. I was very good at observation, in fact it was one of the things my father always encouraged. They had been acting strange for a few weeks. They had meetings with other riders, but always denied anyone had come to see them. I heard the lies. I never saw the other riders, but knew they were there in the shadows. That night, other riders were in the room. Someone had carried my father into his room. My father was a big man. My mother couldn’t have carried him.”
“You didn’t see anyone else?”
Geno took another sip of scotch. “No, but they were there. And I believe my father had gone into the shadows with a horrendous wound knowing he was risking losing his leg. He didn’t want to be seen. To him, to keep the secret was worth losing his leg or even his life.”
Going into a shadow tube with even a small wound was taking a terrible chance. The force the speed in the shadows generated could tear open any laceration and pump blood into the tube at a furious rate. If Geno was correct about his speculation, whatever secrets his parents shared with the hidden shadow riders had been worth his father’s life—at least that is what they all believed.
“How would our enemy find out who was in the room that night other than your parents?” Stefano asked. “If you didn’t know. You said the surgeon, an anesthesiologist, the two nurses, their bodyguards. Anyone else?”
“The riders hidden in the shadows I know were there. The priest. He was giving him the last rites as I was escorted out of the room.”
“No one else.”
“Viola and Noemi had no knowledge of shadow riding. They only knew we had several successful businesses and our famiglia made a great deal of money. Most of the family hasn’t a clue about what we do, Stefano. My best guess would be the two of them told their friends about the hasty operation they attended at the home of a very wealthy man related to them, particularly after they had retired. Once they were working in their shops, they most likely got comfortable around their friends and began regaling them with amusing or exciting tales of their time as nurses. They wouldn’t leave out going to the Ferraro’s home for surgery.”
Stefano let his breath out in a long sigh and then finished off the scotch. “If you’re right about this Geno, and you’ve rarely been wrong with your gut feeling, whoever is behind this has been planning their revenge for a number of years. They’ve had ears and eyes in our territories and in Little Italy. Who knows where else?”
“That’s what I’m afraid of. I set a trap for a petty thief. I didn’t expect to catch an assassin,” Geno reiterated. “Now I have to figure out how to interrogate her without getting killed.”
“You’re absolutely set on doing this yourself.” Stefano made it a statement.
“I refuse to put anyone else in jeopardy.”
“I think there’s more to it than that.”
Geno shoved his hand through his hair. “Unfortunately, you could be right. I’ll know when I get in there. If I’m right about her and she’s a shadow rider, I intend to compromise her shadow as fast as possible.”
“Geno, that’s dangerous to you,” Stefano cautioned. “By compromising her shadow, you’re jeopardizing your own.”
“I’m aware of the risks.”
Stefano studied his set features for a long time. “If you’re determined, Geno, and I know how fucking stubborn you are, then you’re going to do it my way. You called me here for a reason, that’s to ensure your safety. That means you do what I say. Agreed?”
Geno hesitated. Stefano wouldn’t have a qualm about taking out a gun and shooting their captive if she threatened Geno’s life in anyway.
“You aren’t going into that room unless it’s my way,” Stefano said, absolutely no compromise in his voice.
Geno knew he needed that assurance from Stefano. He just didn’t know why.