J O H N
“That fucking bitch! She’s probably ditched my phone now. That was my fucking phone!” Marcus complained. Something stirred within John when Marcus called her a bitch. But he wouldn’t defend her out loud. He couldn’t. How would that look?
He was amused. Impressed. Incredibly humored at the fact that she was probably injured all over and yet didn’t regret it for her freedom. That kind of will was what he seriously admired in her. And that was what drew John and Mari back together each time.
“Look, I’ll reimburse you for the phone, alright? I’ll talk to you later, Marcus,” he replied, hanging up before Marcus could spit out another venomous word about his bounty.
He shouldn’t feel so protective of her, but there was nothing he could do to stop himself. He loved that she ran again. He loved that she had so much determination that she threw herself out of a moving car. He loved that it wasn’t over between the two of them.
He wasn’t sure where to start, and that was a first. She wouldn’t have gone to the friends she knew he knew about. That cut out Caldwell and Rossi. But every other possible acquaintance she could have was secret. Who would she trust this much to risk her freedom?
It was someone she knew from way back. Someone she trusted potentially more than Caldwell. Alessandro must have known who that was. His men must have that contact. Perhaps it was one of his men. Perhaps someone helped her. They were the only ones she could have a close relationship with without Alessandro knowing about it. Who could that be?
He roamed the streets, formulating a plan in his head. It was what she had done after all. She had finally outsmarted him with a plan. It wasn’t even that it was incredibly smart, it was how she manipulated him to drop the ball. He hadn’t seen it coming. He thought she had given up. She convinced him that was the case. And she played him.
He was a hunter. He was skilled at tracking. He had learnt every trick in the book, and even wrote some tricks in that book over the years. But what he never accounted for with a bounty was his emotional connection to the job. That side of him had been dormant since he killed Stevens. And that was a long time ago. Just under a decade. Emotions never came into play anymore, and that way, he couldn’t be manipulated. So why was he the fool now?
That would hurt any man’s pride, and it did. But he was more confused. He was confused on how he let it happen. He was confused on how she knew it would work. He was confused on how she could get away from him time and time again by just deceiving him or surprising him. It was… genius.
Sirens rung down the alleyways, beer bottles clinked and met the graveled ground, stray cats scurried from the dark unsuspecting corners to pounce on the street rodents. He hadn’t stopped. And he needed to. He needed to clear his head to get ahead of her again.
A cop car blocked the path ahead, so he turned back, only to be met with another. And then he realized what they were here for. They were here for him. This was about what happened with that cop, he presumed. But he didn’t know how they found him.
He wasn’t a runner. He wasn’t like Mari. He couldn’t come up with some impulsive plan to get out of a cage when he got trapped. And he was trapped in now.
“Put your hands up where we can see them! Now!” the officer bellowed, the sounds snapping off the buildings and resonating in his ears.
He slowly raised his hands, a growl escaping his throat. He didn’t have time for this. She was putting more distance between him and her by the second. And he was getting arrested.
They yanked his arms behind his back, cuffing them as they read the Miranda rights. He wouldn’t say a word. He would call down Gordon, his lawyer this side of the country, and he was damn good at his job. He would work to clear this all up.
Arriving at the station, he was roughly pulled around like a common degenerate criminal. He glared at the officers, but they only smirked smugly. No one had told him the charges yet and he had just been sat in an interrogation room for the past few hours, pondering over how far he thought Mari had gotten by now. He would have a hard time finding her when he got out of the station.
When two men dressed in slick grey suits like they were more than what they were entered the room, John just stared straight ahead, not even bothering to acknowledge the two. He didn’t want to give them any more power than they already had over him. But first, he needed to know what he had done, and when he could call his lawyer.
“So, Mr Keller, know why you’re here?” John shifted his attention to the man who spoke. He was clearly taking the lead here whilst the other man sat casually, attempting to intimidate John with his gaze.
“I want my lawyer,” John demanded in a gruff tone. He wouldn’t speak a word without one. He knew how these things went. They would attempt to manipulate him with the good cop bad cop routine, or the ‘we’ll go easy on you if you cooperate’ spiel. He’d heard it all before. He’d sat in front of cops before, for various different things, but he’d never been charged with anything. It was something new. But they had disarmed him with an unlicensed gun. That would definitely raise a few flags.
“Okay, okay, we’ll get you your lawyer. But you don’t want to know what this is about? I mean, we can get you on the gun charges, but… we’re looking at you for much more than that,” the man declared. “Nine years ago, you knew a man named Derick Edwards. Ring any bells?”
This puzzled him. But he wouldn’t show that.
Why was he here for Edwards? Derick Edwards was a bounty from a couple of years ago. He worked for the bikers over in California. And then he tucked tail and ran for some reason. He wasn’t too hard to find and he was brought back with no problems. What? They couldn’t keep his name out of their mouths? They snake him out for something?
“Fine, don’t answer. I don’t expect you to. After all, you’re being charged with his murder.” Murder? What the fuck was he talking about? It took everything in John to not burst out with questions, but he had to wait for Gordon.
He was subsequently taken out before they could say anything else and given his phone call. Gordon was rushing down there and advised him not to say anything in the meantime. Of course, he already knew that, but he had to keep it at the forefront of his mind and not get worked up in the interrogation room.
What had gotten into him recently? Why was he so emotional? This was all her fucking fault. He used to not feel shit. He used to be able to sit in there and not be affected by any of it, no matter how much they slandered him. But now he was getting easily worked up by two fucking feds.
They were feds. They brought the fucking FBI into this because it crossed state lines. It explained their authority and belief of dominance.
He was sat back in the room in front of the feds. This time, they didn’t say anything, they just waited. He didn’t know why. They always tried to manipulate the criminal before the lawyer got there.
In no time, Gordon showed up, settling himself into the seat beside John and locking his fingers together. He looked a little out of breath, so he composed himself accordingly. Gordon often went above and beyond for his friends, and John was lucky to be one of them.
“Okay, folks, do you want to tell us what evidence you have for bringing my client in?” he said rather confidently.
“Sworn testimony. We’ve been searching for your client here for a while. And then we got a sighting of you down… in where?” he asked his colleague.
“Wichita, Kansas,” the other answered with a sly smirk.
“You got shot, right? That must have hurt like a son of a bitch,” the lead fed said. “The officer saw plenty of guns in your trunk to build up those charges.”
“I want some time with my client,” Gordon said, standing up and gesturing them to leave.
“Oh, come on, we’re just having a friendly conversation. He’s got nothing to hide, right? Cause he’s innocent?” They reluctantly left, not before sending John some more smug glances.
“This is a fucking shit show,” Gordon announced with a huff as he sat down on the other side of the table. “Tell me everything. Leave nothing out. Let’s start with Wichita, Kansas, shall we?”