M A R C E L L A
“John!” She knew she heard his voice, and she knew who they were talking about outside the room she was in. John was here for her. She didn’t have many options left. Manuel or John. That was her choice. With Manuel, he’d most likely get rid of John, Alessandro would send someone else after her, but they’d probably die too. But Manuel was definitely not a guy she wanted to be around. He killed Giuseppe. He wasn’t safe, yet she felt safe with John. Even though he was taking her back to her doom, he was still safer than Manuel. So, she chose him. “John!” she screamed again.
She banged on the door and punched it repeatedly whilst screeching. She was aware of how irritating she was being, and that was the point. They would have to open the door and let her out.
She punched until her knuckles were raw, the skin peeling off but only a little blood flowing out. She didn’t care. She wanted freedom. And she knew she would somehow escape John again before they got back to New York. She wouldn’t be free if she stayed here.
“J-” Just as she was about to scream his name again, the door swung open, right into her face and body. Her nose was impacted by the heavy wooden door and the force of the hit took her body flying back at the bed-frame’s feet. She groaned, clutching her nose that was oozing blood. She squeezed her eyes shut to knock back the pain before flicking them open.
And there, John and Manuel stood. Manuel with a humorless expression. John, amused as usual. Mari always wondered what John found so amusing about her.
“Looks like you had an accident there, princessa.” Everything fucking hurt. She was still healing. Her foot still ached but at least she could walk. Her arm was nowhere close to being fixed. And now her nose was bleeding. She was a mess. And she was completely vulnerable to them both.
“Hello,” she muttered innocently, pinching the bridge of her nose and shaking off the blood on her cast and hand. John smirked at her, suppressing a laugh she knew would have erupted if they were alone. “How did you find me?”
“I’ll always find you,” he said smugly. “Get up, we’re leaving,” John stated. She looked to Manuel who was still pondering the situation.
“She can’t just leave because you tell me she’s yours,” Manuel said.
“She’s not mine. She’s my client’s. If you don’t let her come with me, I’m just gonna take her,” John threatened, and his tone surprised Mari. She had never heard him so… dark before. He sounded like one of her father’s guys.
She had never seen him as one of them. He just didn’t give out that sort of aura. But right now, he was acting familiar. And she felt as though she had met him before, well before all of this.
“Come on.” John extended his hand and grabbed hers roughly, pulling her to his side. She had never felt so small next to him, but that foot difference seemed a lot bigger now. She was like a naughty little child being dragged along by her parent.
Manuel placed a hand on John’s chest to warn him, with his men backing him up behind him.
“I suggest you move before I make you move,” John hissed lowly and squeezed her hand tighter. And yet, Manuel, nor his men, moved at all. They were daring him to do something. They doubted he would. She doubted he would in all honesty. John was a bounty hunter. He found people. That was his skill. And yes, he did tackle those guys in the alley, but they were unsuspecting.
Then, he surprised her. It was her turn to underestimate him.
John released her hand, raised his fist and pummeled it into Manuel face at lightening speed. And then twice more, forcing him back into the hall. Mari stayed put, not like she could go anywhere. She was in awe.
The next three were mowed down like John was a bulldozer. She had known he could throw a punch, but this was some next level shit. She watched his back muscles flex in his shirt, his chest blocking the, what she assumed, brutal display. She only saw the aftermath.
John turned to her with blood splatters all over his face and shirt. His knuckles were red and raw, much worse than hers. She gulped at the sight of him. And at the sight of the bodies littering the floor.
Her heart was beating out of her chest and she felt nauseous. She was the daughter of a mafia don and yet, she was horrified at the sight. She had seen a few guys beat up by her father’s men, and even by her father. But this was something else. Perhaps this was because she had never seen John in this way. He was being soft with her before. Probably because of who her father was. But she assumed he wasn’t dangerous. She assumed he was different. And now she was scared. Scared of him. Was he safe anymore?
“Mari? We need to go,” John commanded lowly, keeping his voice even. He extended his hand once again and took hers. But this time, it was soft. And she just followed him like an obedient little puppy.
He opened the passenger door, picked her up like she was a pillow and slotted her into the seat. Without another word, he shut her door, slid into the other side, and started to drive.
They sat in silence, neither one of them making any sort of sound. They were so awkward with each other. Mari was frightened to say anything unlike before. She hadn’t seen that side of John and the fact that she had judged him so foolishly terrified her. What else was he capable of? Maybe she was wrong when she thought he regretted killing someone. Maybe he had killed more. Maybe he was much more heartless than she originally thought.
John cleared his throat but didn’t say anything still. She wondered if this was what it would be like for the whole journey. How would she ask to stop for the restroom? How would she ask for food? She was too afraid to even make small talk with him. Or even say a little ‘thank you’. He did save her from Manuel’s clutches after all.
“Scared of me now, little one?” John said in a deep voice. He glanced over to her, looking her up and down before his eyes were stuck on the road again.
“No,” she whispered back.
“Looking pretty banged up there. I guess you shouldn’t have jumped out of my car,” he joked, lightening the mood. This was the John she had first met. This was the John she knew. But now she knew that there was another side to him; she wasn’t sure whether she could look at him the same way.
“I guess I shouldn’t have,” she murmured, staring out the window. She heard him sigh deeply, but she couldn’t bring herself to look back at him. She just rested her head against the window and let her eyes close.
But the images of what happened flashed in her mind. And that night, that was all she dreamt of.
She woke up to fingers rubbing her thigh and her eyes startled open. She tried to escape his touch, but his hand just gripped her thigh tightly. She stared at him wide-eyed. However, he wasn’t looking at her. She couldn’t even attract his attention. He was purposefully ignoring her so he wouldn’t address the big hand he was still keeping on her leg. What had he done to her in her sleep? What if he tried something? She didn’t know who he was. However, she believed she could trust him enough to not do anything of the sort.
“What are you doing?” she asked groggily, the events of yesterday pushed to the back of her mind as her confidence grew back once again.
“Driving,” he replied nonchalantly like the irritating bastard he was.
“Why is your hand on my leg?” she interrogated accusingly. This time, his eyes met hers darkly and a smirk tugged at his lips.
“It’s either this or the next step is me tying your hands and feet together, duck-taping your mouth shut and tossing you in the trunk. What do you prefer, Mari, or is it Ella now?” She immediately backed down when she heard his tone. She was not going to aggravate him after what she saw yesterday. She had pushed her fear away, but she would no longer underestimate him or see him as something he wasn’t. He was just like the other men she had met. She would keep that at the forefront of her mind. But she was never one to cower.
“I didn’t choose that name,” she muttered. “You’re just pissed because I jumped out of the car?” He chuckled a little before turning back to the road.
’No, I was mildly impressed, actually. But after all of that, you still ended up back here, with me. I hope you’ve learned your lesson now,” he said.
“Or what?” she challenged, which swayed his attention back to her. “Are you going to punish me?” she asked innocently.
It was at that moment that she knew what her next plan of action would be. She had never done anything like it before and she hoped it would work.
It had to work.