Shadow Warrior (Shadow Riders #4) - Christine Feehan
Vittorio Ferraro stood in the shadows, his skin crawling with the need to move. Something was wrong. Not just wrong. Whatever his churning gut was about, he’d never quite felt the urgency of finding the source of the trouble as he did right then.
He’d come home from work exhausted. Work had been in Los Angeles this time. He’d been there numerous times, but this particular one had been a bloodbath. He was a shadow rider, one of the very few in existence worldwide. With that came tremendous responsibilities and absolute secrecy. He’d begun his training at the age of two and continued every day of his life since. Now, after carrying out justice in Los Angeles, he’d been more than happy to get home. His house was his sanctuary, and usually, once inside, he felt peace, not this terrible sense of impending doom.
He hadn’t been able to shake the feeling, so he got dressed and followed the dark dread that strengthened as he approached the nightclub his family owned. The Ferraro Club was in full swing, the music loud, the laughter and conversation blending with the energy of the music.
The nightclub was the most popular in Chicago and people stood in lines, sometimes for hours, on the chance of getting in. Celebrities frequented the Ferraro Club, and there was always the possibility that one might catch a glimpse of a member of the famous Ferraro family. Tonight, the place was packed.
As a rule, his family didn’t make it a habit to interfere in the running of the club—they had managers who ran the place far better than any of them ever could—but they dropped in when they needed to be visible. The paparazzi always swarmed around them, giving them better alibis for their work than anything else ever could. Right now, visibility was the last thing Vittorio wanted. The sense of urgency was growing stronger, not weaker, and that meant he needed to find whatever was wrong and fix it before it was too late. That something was here. In his club. Close now.
He moved from shadow to shadow without being seen. It was a slow process and his body was already torn up from doing this very thing in Los Angeles. Still, this wasn’t about work. This wasn’t about bringing justice to criminals no one else could get to. This was about the knots in his gut that coiled tighter and tighter, and felt personal. Very personal. And that in itself was shocking.
Vittorio was the largest of the Ferraro men. He was tall, broad-shouldered and very fit, as all riders had to be. He was also a man who knew himself very well. Every strength. Every flaw. What he wanted in life, what he needed—both were impossible, and he’d accepted that he would never have a wife and family the way his brothers Stefano, Ricco and Giovanni had. Even Taviano had a much better chance than he would ever have. It was just this growing feeling that this portent of trouble was connected to him personally.
He was a man apart—even within his family, he stood apart. Maybe they all did. It was possible their women strengthened the connection between them in some way. Certainly, Francesca, Stefano’s wife, did. Vittorio loved her—they all did—but at the same time, it only emphasized his loneliness.
He knew it would already be nearly impossible to find a woman he could love the way he needed to love her. Finding a woman who could ride shadows was in and of itself extremely difficult, but finding one who would suit his peculiarities, that was asking far too much. He knew the odds, and they weren’t in his favor.
Shadow riders were obligated to have children, so if they weren’t married to a suitable woman by a certain age—one he was approaching—an arranged marriage would follow. For a man like Vittorio, that would be an utter disaster.
For a moment he stood in the shadows watching the women dancing, knowing not a single one of them would ever tolerate him as a life partner. He had to find a woman who would have the genetics to produce children capable of riding the shadows and carrying on their work. That was his obligation. He could never simply fall in love; he had to fall in love with the right person. The odds of finding that were so slim, most riders never believed it could happen.
For Vittorio, the odds were even slimmer. He didn’t want a traditional partnership. He didn’t have