M A R C E L L A
“Stay away from Manuel, you hear me?” Giuseppe lectured as he entered the room. Manuel had pursued her even further over the past couple of weeks, keeping her ‘company’, talking to her when Giuseppe wasn’t around.
She didn’t know what Manuel actually did as a job, but it was something shady. And she knew she should stay away. But the more persistent he was, the more interested she became. It was mildly annoying how close he wanted to get to her, but she liked the mystery of it all.
However, Giuseppe was right. She needed to keep her distance.
“I know, but I can’t just tell him to fuck off,” she replied.
“Yes, you can. And I will too. He’s just a man.” She rolled her eyes as Giuseppe left the room to get some lunch. She followed him out on her crutch, but she was relieved that she could put some weight on her leg now.
She had been healing nicely. Her bruises were turning greener by the second, her cuts were scabbing and scarring, her sprain was improving but her arm was nowhere near healed. But it was only her left. She could deal with that.
She couldn’t go out until she was off the crutch. That would draw too much attention to her. But she could hide the broken arm. She hoped to leave today. She would be hobbling around, but she needed the fresh air, and they were in the middle of the city. She couldn’t go anywhere outside without being seen.
“Hey, Ella, how’s your leg? You’re walking on it a little more,” Garrett said with a genuine smile. She decided that she liked Garrett.
“It’s getting better, thanks,” she replied politely. Asides from her relationship with Manuel, her living with Giuseppe, Fred as they knew him, was working out smoothly for the most part. She hoped to keep it that way. In truth, she was surprised John hadn’t found her yet. He was truly that good. Something must have happened to slow him down, or they were really that well-hidden.
“That’s good to hear,” Manuel remarked, hinting some innuendo in his expression. She caught Giuseppe’s narrowed look at both of them as he watched their exchange, and she shifted her focus to him.
“Stai alla larga da lui,” he warned again in Italian. Stay the hell away from him? He lived in the same apartment as her. She was trying to keep her distance but that was difficult when she couldn’t leave.
“Lo so che…” She fucking knew. She didn’t need him telling her all the time, especially not in Italian in front of the two men in the room. They just watched the pair’s interaction. Speaking in Italian was not a smart move, but Giuseppe clearly didn’t care. Frederico was apparently Giuseppe’s full name but them knowing they were both Italian was still risky. “Garrett, can you drop me off at the park today? I just want to get out and take a walk.” He nodded with a kind smile and grabbed his coat.
She headed out with Garrett into his car. They made small talk, but Garrett knew she wasn’t interested in disclosing anything serious about herself. So, they just chatted about the weather, local news and other menial topics.
She waved Garrett off and wondered through the park slowly, leaning onto her right foot more and hobbling onto her left every so often. She would work hard to build up her strength again. Soon enough, John would find her and she would need to run. And she wouldn’t ever be able to stop running. Now that she had taken a break, she could come to terms with that now.
After this, there would be no more breaks. There would be no taking a breath. She would just run.
“Excuse me, ma’am?” A tap to her shoulder made her flinch and immediately whip her head around to a woman her age, taller with blonde hair and a worried smile. “Could you please help me?”
Mari was confused in how she could help, but the woman appeared harmless. Mari would just send her on her way and continue on hers.
“What’s the problem?” Mari asked sweetly.
“You,” a voice from behind her grunted lowly as she felt a pin prick on her neck. The needle had pierced her skin and she could immediately feel the drug coursing through her veins. But she couldn’t do a thing about it.
She was lucid, but not enough to be unconscious. She was led by someone behind her and the woman walked ahead, blocking as much of Mari as possible to the public eye. She wanted to move her limbs and fight, but even if she was in a better state of mind, physically, she wouldn’t be able to do anything either.
She couldn’t even speak. It was like she wasn’t in control of her body. The man behind her kept her afloat, her feet skimming the floor as he had lifted her. She felt like she was in the clouds, her thoughts were muffled, and her entire body was numb.
Just before she passed out, she was thrown into a van and she heard the slam of the doors behind them.
The light hit her eyes blindingly as she awoke. Her brain was groggy, trying to piece together what happened and why she was so out of it. When she didn’t recognize her surroundings, she remembered everything that went down in the park.
There was no one in the room, but she figured the door was locked anyway. She was resting on a bed, not tied up. Not that she needed to. She could barely walk in her state. She looked down her body and was relieved to see herself fully clothed in the outfit she was wearing in the park. So, they hadn’t done anything to her, yet.
Who were they? Did they work for her father? How did he find her? He had hired John to find her. There was no way he had others on it. Was this John’s doing? He struck her as more of the ‘do it alone’ type. He wouldn’t have others to capture his bounty. No, this was something else. Someone else. But who? Who put a target on her back? Was it because she was associated with Giuseppe? Did they find him?
There were so many questions swimming in her already cloudy head and it only got worse as the time passed and they weren’t being answered. She tried the door anyway, despite already knowing what her answer would be to that question. It was indeed locked. She searched all the draws and the wardrobe to find everything empty. She entered the bathroom in hopes of finding a razor or something of that nature. But all she found was a clean toothbrush, toothpaste and some soap.
Her body still ached so she gave up with the escape. She would first find out who brought her here. She sat at the edge of the bed and waited. She was armed with a toothbrush, but that wouldn’t stop her acting as confident with it as if it were a gun in her hand.
When she watched the door open, her heart started to race faster, her eyes widening in anticipation, her hand trembling slightly. But she met face to face with Manuel and that didn’t ease her anxiety.
But her questions grew anxious to escape from her.
“What the fuck?!” she yelled, completely outraged. He closed the door behind him and strode towards her briskly, backing her up to sit back down on the bed. He towered over her, his domineering expression piercing into her.
“Don’t raise your fucking voice at me,” he hissed. He grabbed her chin and tilted it upwards roughly. “You understand me, princessa?” She nodded rapidly, tears threatening to fall at his harsh tone. But she wouldn’t give him that satisfaction. She didn’t have a clue what she was doing there, but she sure as hell wouldn’t crumble whatever the reason.
“What am I doing here?” she asked in a quiet tone. “Where am I?”
He moved to sit on the bed beside her and stared into her watery eyes.
“You’ve been here for weeks. You’re here because I wanted to talk to you without your uncle.” It was as if he didn’t believe Giuseppe was her uncle. Weeks? Weeks?! Giuseppe must be going out of his mind. “Did he hurt you? You sleep in his room; he talks to you in Italian like he’s warning you. Did he do that to you?”
“Did he push me down the stairs? No, he didn’t.”
“I don’t believe that stairs bullshit, Ella. I can protect you from him. He’s always been a shady shit, and lucky for you, I like you. I’m attracted to you. You give me something in return for my protection.” Her eyebrows furrowed as she scoffed.
“I’m not some whore! I’m not sleeping with you for protection, even if I needed your protection. Let me leave,” she demanded, trying to keep her voice steady and at an appropriate volume to not anger him.
“You’ll sleep with me eventually. But it won’t be because we have a deal. It’ll be because you want to. But you’ll allow me to take you out, to make moves on you in return for my protection. You’ll either agree to it or you won’t but you’re staying either way.”
“You can’t do this. Fred will wonder where I am.”
“Like I said, don’t worry about him anymore.”
“Wait, what?” Now, she was distressed. She knew that one. Plenty of her father’s men had spoken that one. When they said something like ‘don’t worry about them anymore’ or ‘they aren’t a problem anymore’ or ‘they’ve been dealt with’, that meant they were dead.
“He’s been dealt with.”