M A R C E L L A
She knew he’d be looking for her. He had to be. Almost instantly once he found she was gone.
She had to run. It was a matter of her freedom. She wouldn’t have that taken away by anyone.
Who would he send after her? Perhaps his right-hand Antonio if he could spare him. Or maybe Mateo. She hoped it would be him. He would show her more mercy if he got to her, kill her before she could go back there. Mateo always had a soft spot for her. Even though he was blindly loyal to Alessandro, he would grant her some leniency for their amicable relationship.
She didn’t know where she was heading, but she knew that she had to get somewhere, haul up for the night. She had to go to where Alessandro wouldn’t even know to look. She had to go somewhere that no one could easily tie her to. And she’d be in and out, constantly moving, disappearing like a nameless ghost. She would now live a life of invisibility.
Mari was prepared for this, well, almost. She had been preparing for this for a couple of years, plotting intricately in case it was ever needed. Now that she was on the run, everything was so fucking crazy. Anxiety was creeping up on her, threatening to stab her in the back where she couldn’t see it coming, and she started to second-think every part of her ludicrous plan. Was there really a chance she could escape the mafia’s clutches? There were so many things she hadn’t accounted for, like who Alessandro would send after her. It was most likely one of his men, and she knew she could outsmart them. And even if they did catch her, she knew she could manipulate them to get away. She knew his men. She grew up with them. They had nothing on her.
Perhaps that meant he was sending someone else. Alessandro wasn’t stupid, that she knew for sure. They were blood after all. Father and daughter. Mari knew her father. And unfortunately, Alessandro knew his daughter, better than she would have liked.
In a multitude of ways, they were the same. She didn’t have that same callous, ruthless temperament he had, but tactically, they were one and the same. He had taught her, inadvertently, as she observed his actions through the years. She had seen him murder in cold blood and she knew she didn’t want to be anything like him.
There were two types of children: children who want to follow in their parents’ footsteps and children who endeavor to be the complete opposite of their parents. The fact that Mari and Alessandro were similar in many ways, due to genetics and her upbringing, irked her. She wasn’t mafia-bound. She wanted to leave that life the second she turned eighteen, but her father wouldn’t let her go. After her eighteenth birthday, the guard on her person had tripled. And there was no way of escaping.
So, she planned. She planned her escape. She needed more time but after two years, it was time to go. What prompted the sudden leave was what her father had planned to do.
To sell her.
To sell her to another rich mobster.
It was at that point that she realized her whole life was plotted out for her. Alessandro had been proposing a marriage between his only child and Dante Marciano since she was born. Alessandro wanted a son, but he got a daughter instead. And, apparently, the only way to use a girl in this world was to sell her off and form alliances. Mari was beyond furious, and rashly ran away without finalizing her plan.
She was smart, as was her father. To stay gone, she needed to complete that plan. Marrying a mobster would lock her in the life she so desperately wanted to escape. She had to flee. She was twenty years old. She had her whole life ahead of her. As messed up as she was, she believed she could restore a somewhat normal mentality if she got away. She had so many things she wished to do.
But what she wanted more than anything was freedom, freedom from the criminal world.
Plus, Dante was a son of a bitch. He looked at her like she was just an object he could use to fuck, impregnate and not give two shits about. She was groomed for that lifestyle, but that wasn’t what she viewed marriage as. She wouldn’t be forced to marry anyone, ever.
She was her own person, and she deserved a life. This was her chance. She just needed to stay a step ahead of whomever Alessandro had put on her tail. He wouldn’t have even realized she was gone until early this morning, when Dante had arranged to take her away. Like she was some prize. She was a human being. Why couldn’t anyone see that?
She arrived at Lucia’s apartment late at night. She had traveled across state lines to get there, and she had hoped it would take a while before someone followed her there. Thus, she figured she had time. But she wouldn’t take anything for granted.
“Mari?” The gaping jaw and deer in headlights expression of her long-lost friend startled her. She needed a place to crash and she’d traveled this far. She couldn’t be turned away now. She knew she was bringing trouble right to her friend’s doorstep. And Lucia would know that too.
Lucia and Mari met years ago at a party Mari had snuck out too. Mari was young, fourteen years old, and wanted to experience life free and unprotected. That was a night she would never forget, and her father never knew about it. Thus, her father didn’t know about Lucia.
Lucia and Mari were instant friends. The guy who had invited Mari online tried to get into her pants, and that was when Lucia stepped in, getting right up in the guy’s face in support of her fellow woman and her rights. They didn’t cause too big of a scene luckily, otherwise her father would have surely heard about it. Lucia put the guy in his place, left with Mari in toe and they hung out all night, roaming the streets of the city. Mari was just an ordinary girl, talking to her friend about anything and everything and nothing all at the same time. It was the only night in her entire life that she was allowed to be normal, and she valued that.
Mari didn’t have a phone, but Lucia still gave Mari her mobile number, in case she needed help and a way to contact her. Now, six years later, she was at Lucia’s doorstep. Lucia and Mari hadn’t even spoken at all after that night, and she knew it would be awkward to just ask for a place to stay right off the bat. But she needed help.
Lucia was always part of her plan. She was a contact that no one knew about. From just a phone number, she secretly tracked that to her apartment. Well, her best friend, Milo, who also happened to be quite skilled at technology, well, relative to her, tracked her apartment down.
Milo was known to Alessandro. He was the only friend Mari was allowed to have, vetted by Alessandro himself. Perhaps it was because Milo was gay and dating Mari’s third cousin. Either way, Milo and Mari were close. But Mari had been planning her escape for years, and she couldn’t put him in danger by even creating the suspicion that Milo helped her in any way. If they were still talking at the time she left, he would be locked in the dreaded basement and tortured by Alessandro’s men right at that moment. Thus, with this knowledge, they staged a huge argument that could be heard throughout the house. They had to make it believable and it had to be far enough away from her escape to relieve all suspicion from Milo.
Mari was distraught about losing her friendship with Milo for the foreseeable future. But it was for her freedom, and she needed to make sacrifices for it.
She would do anything for her freedom.
“Oh, wow… it’s been… what are you doing here? How did you find me?” Lucia questioned in astonishment. Her mouth hung open, as if it were actually trying to swallow the dust particles in the air. Her eyes were unblinking at the sight before her. “You look dirty.”
Mari’s mind flashed back to her escape and her journey. Escaping New York City was no easy task, especially since her father had eyes in the most shady and discreet places. Therefore, Mari moved in the light, knowing barely any of her father’s acquaintances like to operate out in the open. Mari had to think like her father, to understand what he would think she would do. She was a complete mess. One of her father’s men had caught up to her and she ran for her life, quite literally. She had to hide behind the dumpsters in an alleyway to abscond from her impending fate. Of course, she must have looked a state afterwards.
“I ran away,” Mari stated rather innocently. She was far from innocent. She had done plenty that she was ashamed of. Nothing as bad as killing a man, but perhaps as good as. Yet, she still had the nerve to appeal to others’ softer sides and act the young innocent girl.
Lucia held a worried expression, one that held Mari in anticipation. With one sigh, Lucia said, “come in.”