His Little Bounty

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Chapter 12

M A R C E L L A

She wasn’t at all interested in his CD collection. She just needed to make herself seem harmless. He would decrease his watch over her. Of course, making him believe she was truly harmless was a difficult task, especially because she had shot him a few weeks ago. But it looked like he was healing well.

It probably hurt like a motherfucker still, though he wouldn’t show it. Like her, he wouldn’t show his weakness to his potential enemy. She could easily use his pain. But that wasn’t the angle she was going for. She just needed to formulate a plan, and whilst doing that, she would get on John’s good side.

“What’s AC/DC?”

“A band that you need to be educated with. Next you’ll be asking me who the Beatles are.” She raised one eyebrow in question at him and his eyes widened. “Go find one of the Beatles’ album and slip it in.” She did as she was told, and the music started to play.

She didn’t lie, she hadn’t listened to much music in her life. And she had to say, it wasn’t too bad. Well, the music John listened to.

“Like it?” he asked. She nodded and rested her head back.

She had been rattled by what happened in that alleyway, but not enough to seriously get to her. If it did, that would have been game over. She allowed John to carry her over to his car without too much fight to disarm him a little. She wanted him to think she had somewhat given up.

“Out of interest, who did you go to to find out about me?” he asked her curiously. She wasn’t about to put Giuseppe in danger, so she just shrugged. He replied with a huff but knew she wouldn’t give up her source. “What did whoever it was tell you about me?”

“Nothing much. They didn’t know that much. Just that you were a skilled bounty hunter.”

“Skilled?” He looked amused, which pissed her off more than anything. She didn’t need to be inflating this man’s ego.

“How did you find me in that alley? I was quite far from where you left me. How did you find me?”

“I’ll always find you. That’s all I’ll say. There’s a reason I’m a skilled bounty hunter,” he replied smugly.

“How do you know my father?”

“That’s a story for another time.” He was suddenly overly evasive, which she narrowed her eyes at. There was something there that he was hiding. Some secret that he didn’t want to share. She understood him not answering how he found her, but asking how he met her father wasn’t too hard a question, was it? There was something to be covered up there, but she shrugged it off. He probably just did some of her father’s dirty work.

There was no way to get out of the car, not yet. She needed to play a certain angle. Perhaps a youthful one, something that painted her as a naïve child. He would underestimate her and that would be the start of her plan.

She would play on his emotions, which was why she had to find out more about the guy.

“How did you get into bounty hunting?”

“Like asking questions, don’t you?” he fired back, eyeing her suspiciously. She shrugged again, hoping to seem like she was just making conversation in their silence. They were just listening to classic rock and staring out of their windows. It wasn’t awkward, but it was in no way helpful to her. She needed an escape. It wasn’t over until she was back inside the club with her father at her side.

They probably had the ceremony set up, waiting for the moment they got back. They most probably would have it at the club, do it quickly so it would be final and there would be no backing out.

“I don’t like silence,” she muttered. It was the truth, even though she had her fair share of it back home. Everything had more or less gone silent the day her mother died. Laughter died and smiles waned, fake ones in their place. And she detested the silence that followed.

Silence signified her loneliness. And she hated being alone too. Out in the world, it didn’t exactly cure her loneliness, but at least she wasn’t alone. And they were two different things.

“That’s why there’s music,” he stated curtly.

“I’m hungry. Are we allowed to eat?” she questioned like a sulking teenager. Another way to show her youth. In truth, she wasn’t hungry at all. What happened in the alley had flipped her stomach. She couldn’t even think about it just yet, which was a good thing. For now, she would just bury the feelings deep inside her and hope they wouldn’t surface.

“You’ll eat tomorrow, breakfast. Go to sleep or something,” he commanded. She rolled her eyes and pouted like a little child. She would stomp her feet, but the mustang was carpeted nicely, muffling the padding of her feet. “You’re not going to sleep?”

“I can’t just sleep.”

“What? You need a fucking bedtime story? What are you? Three?” he questioned.

“If I say yes, you’ll tell me a bedtime story?” She smirked at him and gave him the innocent wide eyes. “You can tell me anything about yourself.”

“You’re fishing for something to use. I’m not that stupid to tell you something like that. If you want a story, listen to this one,” he started. She was interested now. She thought she’d just irritate him into some state, but he was actually complying, actually telling a story. “I had a bounty once. Much older than you and me. He was a seasoned criminal working for some drug cartel. He went into hiding and I was hired to find him. I chased him around the country, finding new leads every time. He was good at running, that was certain. And I was good at finding him. But I would miss him a few times.”

Mari wasn’t sure where this story was leading to. She wasn’t sure why he was telling it but she knew it had a purpose.

“When I finally caught up to him, he had a gun, and he was in a mall. See, he had been running for so long and trying everything to evade me that he led me right to him. He was frantic and paranoid. Whatever you’re thinking of doing, don’t. I’ve never given up on a bounty and I have never not found one. You’ll be running the rest of your life and I’ll be chasing you until I catch up to you. If you keep going with your lucky escapes, you might actually get better at running, but you’ll always be running. You’ll never be able to have a normal life, which is what I’m assuming you want. So… give up, now.”

Silence was cast over them in a heartbeat. His words were very true, and even though she already knew them, it hit her. But she would run forever if it were a choice between that and marrying Dante. She needed out of the mafia life, and she didn’t care how long she would have to run for.

“So… what happened to the guy?” He scoffed and peered over his shoulder at her.

“He died. Luckily, I didn’t have to bring him back alive, per se. He was my longest chase. I took other jobs in between too. I chased him for four years. And I pretended I was mall security, forced him out, we got into a gunfight and I shot him dead.”

That cleared that up. She hadn’t seen the bounty hunter beside her as a murderer.

Her faced dropped and an amused glint was in his eyes. Was he lying about this?

“No, I’m not lying. You’ll do well to remember that if you try anything. I know you don’t have the stomach for killing someone, but I already have.”

So, this was a scare tactic. Along with making his point about her running the rest of her life, he wanted her to know that he was prepared to get dirty, prepared for the grit work. But she could tell from the way he told the story that it was something he regretted too. He barely had the stomach for it, but he had to live with it. He wanted to seem proud of what he did. She saw right through that.

“Does it hurt? The gunshot wound?” She knew they were stupid questions. Of course it did. But she wanted to know his answer to it.

He looked over and scoffed.

“What do you think? But I’m not crying like a baby over it.”

“What? And I would?” she questioned. He nodded and laughed a little.

“You’re complaining at food. You would have bawled your pretty little eyes out. Maybe passed out from the pain. And who would you have called? Your friend Caldwell?” She narrowed her eyes at the mention of her friend. She assumed he had talked to Milo, but Milo wouldn’t have said anything, right?

“Was he how you found me?” She wouldn’t be able to believe betrayal from a friend such as Milo, but anything could happen.

He waited a little while, just studying her face.

“No,” he replied bluntly before focusing back on the road. “Now go to sleep. I’ve told you a bedtime story like you wanted.”

“It wasn’t exactly comforting,” she muttered with the roll of her eyes. He chuckled lightly to that.

“Sleep, Mari.”

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