Shadow keeper, p.24
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       Shadow Keeper, p.24
 

         Part #3 of Shadow series by Christine Feehan  
Her gaze dropped to his groin. He was beautiful. There was no question about it. If she could have drawn, she would have drawn him. Or sculpted him. He was that beautiful.

  "That's right, they don't," he continued. "The greeter makes up the report, and if he or she thinks it's warranted, they pass the information on to the investigators. Each family has two teams of investigators. My aunt and uncle form one team, and two male cousins form the other. I have two female cousins who are hell on wheels with computers. They do all the necessary research into the crime and pass it on to the investigators."

  "Why are there two teams?"

  "One team works the crime, and the other learns everything they can about the client. The investigators hear lies, but they also can compel others to talk, to open up and tell them anything they want to know. They investigate quietly and with great patience. It's important we don't make mistakes. We have to know everything there is to know about both the client and the criminal. We need to know routines, where they live and work, who lives with them, who works with them. Every detail of their lives. Both teams of investigators have to agree that the criminal did in fact commit the crime and the client wasn't just trying to get back at someone they didn't like."

  Sasha was fascinated with Giovanni's cock. She was listening, taking in what he said, and that was fascinating, too, but just the way he was formed made her mouth water. She really thought that she could listen while she tasted him. She was that talented. She let her hand slide up his thigh while he dipped a strawberry in whipped cream and fed it to her. Her tongue slid around his finger the way it wanted to do around his cock. His cock jerked. So receptive.

  "This is where we come in. My family. We're riders. That's what you and your brother would have been had you been born in our family. Your training would have started at two. One has to start early or the tearing at the body can be deadly."

  Okay, that distracted her. Her palm rested on his inner thigh, nestled close to his velvetlike balls. She could feel the heat on the back of her hand. "What would tear my body apart?"

  "People like us are capable of riding the shadows. Essentially, we can move from one shadow to the other unseen. The shadows form tubes. You can see how your shadow throws out tubes, or connecters. It's very different from other people's shadows. Our shadows connect and take us inside those tubes. We can go anywhere in a city. A door can't keep us out if the shadow moves under the door. It feels almost as if ..."

  "Your body is flying apart. The pull is very strong." She said it absently, as if it came from some memory long ago. She raised her eyes to his. "When I was little, I used to feel that sensation sometimes. Sandlin told me it was the pull of the shadows. It never took me anywhere, but both of us could step into the shadows and kind of disappear. Not really, but it was very hard to see us."

  Now that he had reminded her, she remembered the sensations very vividly. "It's hard to believe a person could really move from one shadow to the other and get across town, but ..." She remembered hiding from her father once when she was little when she'd refused to eat something her mother had cooked. She knew she was in trouble, and she also knew they'd never find her if she remained very still right there in the living room with the shadow across her. When she'd first stepped into it, her body felt as if it was being pulled deep into a tunnel. If she hadn't been afraid of getting in trouble, she would have leapt away from it, but she had held still.

  "We have to slide through portals, the shadow tubes, and we need to have a photographic memory. Or a damned good one, like yours. We also should have enough energy to disrupt electrical devices if need be, or cause a power surge, to turn things on or off."

  She glanced at him again. "That's why you don't always worry about cameras."

  He shrugged. That little movement pressed the velvet skin against the back of her hand and she turned it over so her palm cupped him. He felt amazing. She made the mistake of looking down at him. He was fully erect again, his cock pressed tightly against his stomach. She couldn't help stroking a caress over his sac. When she did, his cock reacted, jerking hard. Deep inside, she felt an answering pulsing.

  He didn't protest, but he did move the tray again, shoving it up near the wall. "We wear special clothing. The cloth is made up of material that will go through the rigors of the shadow tube. When we're sent out, the investigators continue to gather evidence right up until the last minute so there is no chance of a mistake. If we're charging money, it is at that time that the client must pay us. Usually that client is very wealthy and we take a ton of money. That money is laundered through our legitimate businesses. It also pays for those who can't afford our services but need them."

  She frowned, looking up, remembering how fast he'd been in taking down the man who had come at them with what she suspected was a knife. Practice, he'd said. He had a huge training room with all kinds of equipment. He knew Aaron Anderson and had trained with him. His body didn't carry an ounce of fat. When he held her close, she could feel that every muscle in his body was developed. "Giovanni, if this is all true, how exactly do you bring people to justice?"

  He didn't change expression. "That depends on the crime. Sometimes it is just a matter of retrieving stolen property. Seeing that any money taken is given back. Some things that appear trivial to us are huge to someone else. Once we retrieved an item that had been in someone's family for many years. Other times, if the crime is truly great, such as murder or rape or torture, justice is served by removing the threat to others."

  She pressed her hand to her stomach. She expected his answer. It even made sense on some level. She had been raised to believe in an eye for an eye, but that usually involved a brawl that ended with the two combatants sharing a drink together. She sank back against the headboard and held out her hand for the bottle of water. He seemed to know what she wanted and handed it to her.

  His gaze never left her face. "Can you accept our way of life?"

  "I don't know. I have to think about this." She should have expected something of the sort. His family was shrouded in mystery. She knew many people thought they were a mafia family, and it made sense. The aura of danger surrounding them was there for a reason.

  "I suppose you are well versed in the art of combat."

  "We're required to be proficient with any weapon as well as hand-to-hand combat in most styles. Not just proficient, we need to be excellent. We train daily. Our training starts when we're toddlers. We're also required to learn multiple languages. Riding the shadows is dangerous and it takes a toll on the body. We have to stay in shape at all times."

  "You appear to drink copious amounts of liquor, but you don't really, do you?"

  He shook his head. His eyes never left her face. He didn't seem to blink. He held himself so still he might have been made of stone.

  She wanted to tell him she understood and of course she could accept his way of life, but what he was telling her was huge. She needed to absorb it. Really study it from every angle. If she agreed, she would be in their family, shrouded in those same secrets, apart from everyone else. Her teeth tugged at her bottom lip while she thought about what he was really telling her, all the implications.

  "You kill people."

  He nodded. "Yes."

  "Have you killed people?"

  "Yes."

  She took a deep breath and another long drink of water. She needed the time to think. Of course, he'd killed people--so had his brothers and probably Emmanuelle, too. It was in the very way they held themselves. She realized there was no real surprise or outrage. It was one thing to talk abstractly about having her man kill someone, and another living with it. She had to be sure.

  "What kinds of crimes would bring that sentence down on someone's head? Give me an example."

  "A serial rapist. More than once we've been called in for that. A murderer. We're careful. The investigators never make a hasty decision. When the report is turned over to the rider with the approval to act, the rider still has to agree. If, after reading the report,
he is uncertain, it is turned back to the investigators to be given to the other team. They start all over. If the conclusion is the same, then the rider still has to agree or the job isn't taken."

  "Aside from the fact that you can move so fast from one area to the other, how do you keep from getting caught?"

  "It is rare for a job to be taken in one's own city. We rarely work in Chicago. Our team investigates, and riders are called in from New York or San Francisco. We go to either city. That's where the playboy image comes in. We fly in, party like crazy, get photographs taken and splashed over the tabloids and then go home. We're the alibi. The cousins from that city party with us. No one can accuse them of being involved."

  "So, if you went as the playboy to New York to party with your cousins, Stefano or one of the others would be along but unseen. He would be the one to carry out the sentence."

  Giovanni nodded again. "That's correct."

  "Your cousins were here to do a job."

  "Exactly."

  "That's pretty clever." She liked that he was so patient, allowing her to process the information he gave her. She moistened her lips and took another drink of water. Stalling. She knew she was stalling. "What did you mean by consequences if I didn't agree to being with you after you explained everything? Would you harm me?"

  "Of course not. How could you think that? I'm in love with you, Sasha. I would never hurt you, nor would I ever let anyone else. Our shadows have woven together. The longer we spend with each other and the closer we get, the tighter that weave. That's what happens with shadow riders when they come together with the right person." He touched his chest. Rubbed it over his heart. "It's as if, when I saw you and heard your voice, you unlocked something in me that was locked up tight. I think that starts the process. No one really knows how it works."

  She liked that concept. "That still doesn't explain what happens."

  He shrugged. "If your shadow and mine are torn apart, in other words, if we were to break up, you wouldn't remember me at all. You would have no knowledge of ever being with me. I wouldn't be able to ride the shadows."

  She gasped. He said it so quietly she almost didn't catch the magnitude of what he was revealing to her. He had risked everything. Who and what he was. For her. He didn't have to tell her about his family and what they did. He could have married her and let her find out gradually, but he'd promised to answer her questions and he had.

  "What about all the pictures of us in the tabloids?"

  "They will be there, but you won't remember. You won't care. I'll just disappear from your mind altogether."

  Her heart clenched hard in her chest. Hard enough to hurt. She never wanted to forget him. Never.

  Very slowly she leaned over to put the water bottle on the floor. When she did, her breasts dragged across his thighs and she hissed as the fire streaked through her.

  He caught her in strong hands around her waist and pulled her over him so she was straddling his thighs. "Ride me, baby. Get yourself off."

  He didn't move and she didn't care. She knew how to ride. She was very, very good at it. She caught the base of his cock and slowly engulfed him, feeling the spectacular burn of his shaft stretching her tight muscles. She began to move, taking him deep, rising and falling, slowly at first, getting a rhythm. Feeling that wonderful stretch. The heat. The fire.

  At once his mouth was on her breasts, first one, then the other. Those streaks of fire raced straight to her core and she moved faster and harder. The more he worked her breasts, the more she rode his cock until she couldn't hold off. Until there was no air in her lungs and her body was screaming at her that she was going to fly apart.

  He threw his head back as his cock painted her sheath with his seed, with so much fire she knew she could burn there for eternity.

  "Dio, I didn't know a man could love a woman the way I love you." He whispered the words to her as she collapsed against him, her body still trying to milk his. Her face buried between his shoulder and neck.

  "Every time you touch me, it's amazing. Really amazing, Giovanni."

  "Baby, you haven't given me your answer."

  She laid her head on his shoulder. "I think I just gave it to you, honey. Yes. The answer is yes. I don't go back on my word, and I said I'd marry you. I think I'll fit very nicely into your intriguing and infamous family."

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

  Giovanni lay with his body curled around Sasha, listening to her breathing. She was very quiet, almost as if she wasn't in the bed at all. He liked the feel of her against him, her silky soft, bare skin moving against his. He cupped one breast in his hand, while he stroked caresses along her hip and let his mind drift a little as he waited for the all-clear, his signal to go.

  It was almost impossible to believe that she had committed to him. That she'd said yes. He'd never really believed he would find his woman--that any of them would. He nuzzled her hair, the braid she wore when she wore nothing else. She'd been--magnificent. She was wild in bed. A demanding little tigress and yet willing to do anything he asked. He knew he would be willing to try anything she wanted as well. It went both ways, but he loved the fact that his woman was adventurous in bed.

  He stroked a possessive finger down the curve of her hip and let his fingers close around her breast so that her nipple pushed into his palm. There were things that he needed to consider. Aaron Anderson, for one. The man had been a friend--or at least he thought so. He didn't have many outside his family because he couldn't let people get too close. Aaron had been different, and he liked the man. He didn't like to admit his betrayal had struck deep, but it had. Usually when something hurt, he reacted with anger. He couldn't even summon up that negative emotion this time.

  He closed his eyes and inhaled Sasha's scent. She had a fragrance that teased his senses and stayed with him even when she wasn't near. He knew she needed to sleep, but he wished he could talk about Aaron with her. She was thoughtful. She weighed her answers. He sighed again. Her breast moved. The smallest push against his palm. He tipped his chin so he could find the nape of her neck with his teeth. He couldn't help biting her gently.

  "What's wrong?"

  Her voice was drowsy. Sexy. It got to him. He had already nestled his cock between her cheeks and he felt the hot jolt right through it at the sound of her voice.

  "Nothing. Go back to sleep." He wanted her awake, but he needed her asleep. Stefano would be calling him any minute.

  "Don't say 'nothing.' I hate that, and you can't lie worth crap to me." She pushed her face deeper into the pillow and her bottom tighter against him. "Tell me."

  He sighed. He would expect her to answer. He couldn't do less. "The things Aaron said to you really bother me, Sasha. I thought he was my friend."

  "I'm sorry, honey. I think, for him, it was a competition. He saw me that night in the club and made his play in front of his friends. I said no. It didn't matter that all those other women were throwing themselves at him, he probably bragged, and then I was with you. That hurt his ego. His friends definitely had a lot to say on the matter."

  He stiffened. "What the fuck, Sasha? His friends talked to you about this and you didn't think it was important enough to tell me?" He bit her shoulder. Not hard, but not gentle, either. Enough to make her yelp.

  She didn't turn over, but she did lift her head to glare at him. "I don't respond well to your word choice, Giovanni."

  She sounded so snippy in spite of how grave the situation might be, he felt laughter bubbling up. He tugged hard on her braid. "I don't like the fact that you have the stalker from hell and some asshole sold your picture to the tabloids. That asshole has to be Aaron, or one of his friends. It's possible, although I don't want to think it, that Aaron or one of his friends could be your stalker. So, yeah, I'm a little pissed that my woman held something back from me. Whether you were in danger or not, some asshole says crap to you, I want to know about it."

  "Are you going to beat them up?" There was a little snicker in her voice.

&nbs
p; She was laughing. He felt her body shake, causing her breast to press more tightly in his hand. Her warm bare cheeks tightened around his cock, massaging it. The action took his breath away. He was sated after so much sex. He'd been brutal the first time. She'd blown him, her mouth the best he'd ever known, and then later, he'd taken her slowly and gently before she'd drifted off to sleep. He couldn't imagine that his cock would grow hungry so soon. He was just plain addicted to her.

  "Because, seriously, Giovanni, if that's okay, I'll just punch them myself when they're being an asshole. And they were. It was the one called Tom and the other one, James."

  "That would be Tom Mariland and James Corlege. They run with Aaron a lot. Both are up-and-coming fighters in Aaron's weight division. They're good, but nowhere near as good as Aaron because they lack his discipline. And, just so you know, sweetheart, the only one punching and drawing blood in our family is going to be me. You can serve drinks in the club if you insist, but you can't beat up the customers. You point them out to me."

  "You go ahead and think that. I'm going to punch them if they ever talk to me like that again. James first accused me of paying someone to rip my blouse so you would be gullible and play the white knight. Tom asked me if I gave you a blow job. He said girls like me snag men like you all the time with that ploy."

  Giovanni was silent. He wanted to rip Tom and James in half. Instead he forced a small laugh. "If you had given me that blow job before my marriage proposal, believe me, baby, I'd have asked immediately. I'm all for being on the receiving end for the rest of my life." He nuzzled her neck to keep from swearing. "What else was said?"

  "James asked me if I liked giving blow jobs, and I told him yes, with you, but didn't his woman like to give him one? Perhaps it was his hygiene." She sighed. "The thing was, he got a little too excited over the blow job issue. Both of them did. Just saying the word got the two of them aroused. It wasn't that difficult to see. It was kind of sick."

  "Where were the security guards?"

  "There wasn't anything really to be construed as an attack so I didn't signal for them. It just looked like that's what he was doing, being friendly and looking. I don't think Alan liked them so close, but again, they weren't doing anything, just seemingly talking to me and no one else could hear, not with the music blaring so loud. I can take their crap. It's meaningless."

 
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Comments 1

DEESTA WILEY
DEESTA WILEY 10 January 2019 09:13
0
Love this the Shadow Rider series. Look forward to seeing more from Ms Feehan
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