M A R C E L L A
“Fuck, Mari, just breathe through the pain, alright?” Giuseppe attempted to calm the broken girl down, but she was in fucking agony. She had jumped out of a fast-moving vehicle, for heaven’s sake. Why couldn’t the world just give her a break and she could miraculously do that without hurting herself?
She suspected she had several broken bones. As she peered into the rear-view mirror, she saw blood gushing from a cut on her cheek, most probably done when she rolled across the tarmac road. She had the imprint of tiny rocks, embedded into her skin. She couldn’t say the broken bones hurt all too much. She couldn’t feel her arm at all. She had landed on it as she flung herself out of the car.
This would all set her back. She hoped Giuseppe could set her up with something, nothing permanent, she didn’t want to burden him or put him in danger, but something until her wounds healed. Something until she could start running again. And perhaps she could make a new plan, with the help of Giuseppe.
She thought she had gotten away with taking the scalpel, but when she heard them talking privately when they had assumed she was sleeping like a little child, Marcus had told John about it. So, she used that as a misdirect. He would believe that was the only plan she had going, and a stupid one at that, whilst she pocketed Marcus’ phone that rested casually at the side. She was relieved he hadn’t caught that slip.
She allowed herself to be intimidated by John. She didn’t realize he’d be so… forgiving about her taking a weapon whilst he was getting patched up. She almost thought that he knew about her plan. But… it was something else, another reason.
John had casually taken the blade off her and was so focused on that, and the fact he thought it was a last-ditch attempt to escape that he had squashed, he forgot to lock the doors of his new car. That was the beauty of her misdirect. And because he kept underestimating her, it made it even easier.
In the car, she settled in, not raising any suspicion of the phone in her hand. She wanted it to look as though she had given up. But she was the farthest she could be from that. She texted Giuseppe discreetly and told him exactly where to meet her with his car when he got into the area. And then she just jumped out of the car. It hurt like a bitch, and if she knew that beforehand, she knew she wouldn’t have had the guts to actually do it.
But John didn’t know that.
For some reason, she wondered what he was thinking at this exact second. She had escaped him yet again and she hoped that he wouldn’t find her for the fourth time. Though, that was his profession.
“Thanks,” she grumbled in a strained voice. “For everything. I know you doing this is putting you a risk.”
“You know I love you, principessa. All you had to do was ask and I would have been there earlier. I’m an old man. I’m allowed to risk this trapped life for something,” he explained. Giuseppe had the characteristics of the father she wished she had. “That bounty hunter? He’s good. He’ll still be on you.”
“I know. He’s… persistent. Three fucking times.”
She had spent a lot of time with the man, yet he was still an utter mysterious to her. She attempted to get him to slip up many times. And she only knew basic things, like his favorite color, which was the very predictable black.
“You’ll be safe with me for now,” he reassured her. “I’m hauled up with a few friends I made. They don’t know my business, so make sure they don’t know yours. You’re my niece from the East Coast and you’re staying with me for a while. I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks if they ask anything more but make sure you stick to it and it’s believable.”
“Okay,” she muttered in response.
Her body was numb, the pain turning into a mind-dulling ache. She stared out the window, reflecting on everything that had gone down. She hadn’t had a chance to stop since she met Dante Marciano. She started running at that very second, and now that she could take a breath, it all hit her at once.
Mainly, if John hadn’t tracked her to that alleyway that night, she could imagine all the disgusting things that could have happened to her. He had saved her from a gut-wrenching fate, and she couldn’t help but feel grateful towards the man, even though he was trying to send her back to Alessandro, to hell itself. She didn’t like the feeling of owing him. And Mari did owe John.
Not just for that night, but for forgiving her, for the gun wound. She had shot him and in the criminal world, anyone else would have sought vengeance for it, even if they couldn’t kill her. But that wasn’t John. He wasn’t like that. And being in the game for so long, she admired him for it. She admired the strength he still had in him to fight total darkness.
She slept uncomfortably in the car. She knew Giuseppe lived a while away, which was good in putting distance between her and New York again.
She hadn’t even realized the car had stopped until Giuseppe picked her up out for her seat and carried her into a building. But she was confused. This wasn’t accommodation. They had strolled into some dark dank bar and she was taken into a back storage room.
“Who do we have here?” a female voice asked, closing the door behind her. When she came into Mari’s view, she noticed the professional outfit she had on, contrasting her skull tattoos and piercings. Her lipstick was a grey black, complimented with her smoky eye makeup. A stethoscope hung around her neck and her hands held various strap-on cast for different body parts.
“Fred, it’s nice to see you again.” Mari had to hold back the chuckle at what the woman had called Giuseppe. Fred? He looked nothing like a Fred? The man was about as Italian as one can get, but she guessed that it didn’t matter. It was just a random name for the doctor to call Giuseppe, and the doctor knew that.
“Good to see you too, doc. She fell. I need you to find out what’s broken and sprained and bruised,” Giuseppe declared.
The doctor went right to work. She checked every part of Mari’s body to find several injuries, some serious, some that would heal in a short while. As cool as jumping out of a moving car was in movies, Mari did not feel cool now. But she did feel freer, of course. However, safe? She wasn’t sure. For some reason, she felt a lot safer with John, but perhaps that was because they had travelled so long together.
“She has a broken arm, sprained ankle, the whole left side of her body is bruised. A couple of her ribs are broken. There are scratches everywhere but they’ll heal. I’ll bandage up her torso to keep it a little more protected and I’ll put these casts on. She should really get a plaster cast for her arm at the hospital, but I suppose that’s out of the question. I’ll clean up the cuts on her head and her hands. All of this may take up to two or even three months to fully heal. You’ll start to see improvements after one month.”
Out of action for possibly three months. That sounded like a fucking nightmare to Mari. She would find it difficult to walk, to move her body, to use her left arm. And what if John found her again? She was in no condition to run for at least a month. She would be caught, and the game would be over. But that was the sacrifice she made to escape.
Eventually, Giuseppe and the bandaged girl on a single crutch arrived at the place he had temporarily called home. She hobbled inside the quiet apartment, the faint flickers of the TV illuminating the hallway. The light clink of beer bottles echoed down the hall, but Giuseppe pulled her into a room before they could move any closer towards it.
“You won’t meet them just yet. Rest up, piccola,” he ordered, herding her towards the bed like she was a sheep. Giuseppe helped her climb in, and she just laid there depressed about her injuries. Her eyes glanced around the room, noting its bare minimalistic state. This was Giuseppe’s room. That was how she knew it.
When Giuseppe started to make his bed on the couch, she sat up to protest.
“I can’t just take your bed in your own home.”
“Even if I wasn’t a gentleman to let my guest take the bed, you’re injured, and you need your rest. Sleep now, neonata. I’ll introduce you to everyone in the morning.” She nodded and laid her head back.
But each time she closed her eyes, she saw those ocean blue eyes staring back at her. The same look he always held. Amused.
Was he amused now?