M A R C E L L A
Alessandro. They were close. They had a good personal relationship. This changed things. She wasn’t quite sure how she could use it in her favor yet, but she definitely thought that was a piece of information that was quite valuable.
Her father was a highly-respected man. As such, he went by his surname, De Luca. His own men called him Mr De Luca or boss. She only knew of a handful of people who called him Alessandro. One was Giuseppe. Giuseppe and Alessandro were childhood friends, they went way back, and thus they were on a first name basis. Another was her mother. Mari was young when her mother died, but not young enough to forget her. She was allowed to call him Alessandro. And finally, Dante Marciano. He had been welcomed into the family and invited to call her father by his first name as a gesture to that fact.
Three people. And now John the bounty hunter. He must have been one hell of a bounty hunter. It must have something to do with how they met. That something John wouldn’t tell Mari. It had to be something. She would get it out of him.
“Eat up so we can go,” he commanded. He either didn’t like mornings or didn’t like the fact that the truckers on the table over kept eyeing us like they believed something illegal was going down. Technically, it was. He had kidnapped her. But she couldn’t go anywhere near cops.
“I like to take my time when eating.” She was taunting him, and he knew it. And for no reason. She wanted to stay on his good side after all, but she also wanted to slow them down. John was prepared to drive all day and night to get her back to New York, and that didn’t leave her with enough time.
“I don’t care what you like, princess. Hurry the fuck up,” he domineered, raising his eyebrow and daring her to question him. She just pouted and carried on at her pace. She wouldn’t be rushed by him. It wasn’t like he could do anything about it. Those truckers were eyeing their every movement, in protection of her, she assumed. An older man ordering about a young girl, the man too young to be the girl’s father though. She was silently thanking those truckers. They allowed her to take her time.
“What do you and my father talk about?” She had said it in a tone like she was making small talk, but it was clearly pressing the matter of their personal relationship. She had just found it so bizarre.
“We don’t,” he replied curtly.
“Why don’t you tell me the story for another time? When you first met?”
“How about I don’t?” he snapped. She raised her hands up defensively and rolled her eyes once her head was bowed slightly. Why was mentioning their meeting striking a nerve? What was he trying to hide?
“Your mood swings might start to give me whiplash,” she muttered. “If I’m going to spend hours in a car with you riding back to New York, you should be more cooperative.”
“You reckon?” he interrogated accusingly. He was pissed off, but she knew it wasn’t by her but by the question about how he and Alessandro met. It had put him on edge. “Shut up and I’ll be cooperative.”
“Damn, you’re not very nice.” She started to sound childish, which was what she wanted. She wanted to lighten the mood whilst also reminding him of her youth. She knew that got him to loosen up around her. When he saw her as a child, he didn’t even notice her scheming. And that was what she wanted. Underestimation was a weapon she used often.
“No?” A smirk had grown replacing his scowl that eased her. He was now more playful. She could work with playful. As sheltered as the life she had lived, she knew how to work people. That was all she had to do. She conversed with Alessandro’s men and tried techniques out on them to get her way.
“Too bad for you then. Irritate me and Mr nice guy goes away,” he said conclusively. “Now eat that up so we can fucking leave. I hate it in here.”
“Too lively for you.”
“Too many eyes,” he replied without a second thought. Not that she could do anything with that worry. She didn’t want the police involved either. That fact limited her options. The only way to get away was to just get away. She couldn’t try anything. “You’re finished,” he stated, and she could only agree.
He paid the bill and they left together with the truckers’ eyes following them out. John had a grip on her hand this time, making sure she didn’t escape him. But it wouldn’t be smart to run away anyway. The truckers might call the police and John would just catch up to her. She was fast and slippery, but he was faster. She knew that.
Once they settled back into the mustang and he drove off, he let out a long overdue sigh.
“You were somewhat good back there,” he commented.
“I was a good girl. I get a special reward?” she teased. He shrugged with a smirk and glanced over at her.
“Maybe,” he replied. “Depends on what you want.”
“To let me go,” she suggested, which he responded to with a chuckle.
“I always finish the job,” he stated. “Always.” He was serious now. He had a reputation to uphold, one that told her he would never make this easy. Bounty hunting was his life, she had to bear that in mind. Whilst she was hunting for a life herself, he already had one, and letting her go or her escaping would tarnish it. Which was why he would never stop hunting her, and she could never stop running.
But she still wasn’t going down without a fight. Not yet. If it took running her whole life, so be it. But she wouldn’t be trapped by her father and Dante Marciano.
“Do you think I can change clothes and shower at some point?” she asked genuinely. His eyes flickered over her for just a second before returning to the road.
“You look and smell fine to me. We don’t need to stop. And if we do, it will be at night, when we sleep. But we first need to make less distance between here and New York.” She huffed at the mention of her home. She couldn’t even think of going back there when it was a possibility. She would kill herself before she got there.
Hours passed and daylight rained from the sky. Mari had been mindlessly chatting about nothing whatsoever with John’s snide remarks every so often, right on cue. She wanted to keep him engaged, to draw his attention slightly from getting back so soon. What she really wanted was a shower and a change of clothes, but that didn’t look to be happening any time soon.
She had found out many pointless things from John, but that was all part of her plan too. Whilst he believed she was just filling in the silence, and him complying meant nothing, she was starting to seem more human to him, more like a real person whose life he would be affecting. That was, at least, what she hoped was happening. It was in her case. She had started to see John as something more than a bounty hunter. Something more than just his job title. He was a person too. And everyone had weaknesses. She just had to find his. She hoped eventually he would slip up on one of her random questions, mentioning something that she could use, and he wouldn’t even notice. She was pulling at strings.
“Do you think people have soulmates?” she asked mindlessly. Fiddling with the jacket he had given her from the backseat when she got cold.
“No. People who believe in that believe in love,” he replied nonchalantly.
“You don’t believe in love?”
He narrowed his eyes at her and then shrugged, replying, “you won’t end up with someone for love. I wouldn’t have that kind of hope if I were you.” So, he did know what awaited her back home. But he was just doing his job. And he always finished the job.
“Well, I’m still young so I’m allowed to be idealistic, you old depressing asshole.” He chuckled at her words.
“Idealism is overrated, even if you’re young.”
“You get it snuffed out when you killed that guy?” she asked thoughtlessly, and his expression turned cold. “Right, I forgot I wasn’t supposed to irritate you if I wanted you to stay Mr nice guy,” she joked to ease the tension. He had told the story to her with such confidence, but that was when he wanted her to fear him and understand his capabilities. However, even then, she knew it was a touchy subject.
“At least you’re learning,” he grumbled in a foul mood, gripping the wheel so hard his knuckles turned white.
He would be a lot of fun for the next few hours.