J O H N
They were a long way from New York. It would be a long journey. A long silent journey.
He knew what would happen when she found out. He knew she would be furious. He knew their relationship would be permanently damaged. Silence plagued the car, seeping into every single crook. He couldn’t even hear the engine.
She wasn’t weeping or seething or sniffling. She wasn’t making any noise at all. Her expression was as blank and unreadable as a clean slate. Her legs were clutched into her body and her chin sat on her knees.
“I used to like silence. That was before I sat in a car with you,” John commented, attempting to engage her in some sort of conversation. She could yell and berate him, and he wouldn’t care. Anything was better than nothing.
“Oh,” she replied. Oh? What did that mean? He expected some intelligent snap back. Something like ‘I used to enjoy conversation until I sat in a car with you’. It sounded like something she would say. But she didn’t. She just said ‘oh’. What was he supposed to take from that? It sounded empty, lifeless.
“New York is a few days away. I don’t want to spend all these hours like this.”
“Why?” she deadpanned.
“You’re being childish. Are you seriously going to freeze me out?” he asked, rolling his eyes as he glanced over to her. He shouldn’t care. His other bounties had either been tied up in his trunk or trapped in the seat next to him not uttering a word. He enjoyed the silence. In the business he was a part of, silence in a car was most of the job. But Mari just had to be different. The most important job he had taken since her mom and he actually enjoyed her company. “You have a few days left of your freedom. Do you seriously want to spend it in silence?”
“I have nothing to say to you.”
“You always have something to say.”
“I’m not mad at you. It’s fine. I just have nothing I want to say to you.” John was confused by her tone, although they had already established that she was confusing. She genuinely didn’t sound mad. She sounded vacant.
“You’re not mad at me? Why?”
“Because you’re right. You don’t owe me anything. You didn’t even know me.” He would be wary of this girl. She scared him. There was something about her that made him uneasy. She didn’t have it in her to hurt him before. She even took a bullet for him. But now, if they were in the same situation, he was sure she wouldn’t have done the same. She would have let him die, as he allowed her mother to.
He couldn’t blame the girl for her rage. The guilt boiling inside of him told him that. But he… felt something for her. And she would never forgive him and thus, could never feel the same.
“Can we stop? I need to pee,” she muttered, pouting slightly in a natural way. Her demeanor was unnerving to him, and he watched her very closely. He wouldn’t be surprised if she found a way to stab him right in the back when he didn’t see it coming. A woman scorned was incredibly dangerous, even if she was a little girl.
They pulled over at a rest stop and he took her hand. He was like a parent dragging his wild child into a toy store. She was making him nervous and he was afraid it would catch him off guard.
Reaching the doors of the ladies’ restroom, John pushed Mari through with his hand on her lower back and entered himself. The women already in there gave him strange looks but didn’t say anything to him. They just simply left and whispered about the peculiar man. Women were unusual and he couldn’t understand why they did the things they did. He could understand how each specific mind worked, but not why those actions happened. It was a mystery. And Mari was a mystery tenfold.
Mari entered the stall and he stood right outside the door.
“Could you put the dryer on or something?” she asked, which puzzled him. He raised a brow and then remembered she couldn’t see him.
“So… you don’t hear me,” she said in an obvious tone.
“So I can’t hear you what? Escape?”
“Do you think I’m an idiot? So you don’t hear me piss. It’s a girl thing. But you wouldn’t know because you shouldn’t even be in the ladies’ restroom. Can you just turn the dryer on? Please?” She sounded exasperated which amused him. But he did as she wanted.
Women were definitely unusual.
He suppressed the urge to chuckle and lent back against the sinks. And waited. And waited. And waited.
What the fuck was she doing in there? Was this another female thing?
He began to bang on the door and shouted, “Mari! Open up!” And the door swung open. And she strutted out like she didn’t just spend twenty minutes in the stall. Sure, it was a cleaner restroom than their usual ones, but it wasn’t all too interesting. “What the fuck were you doing?” She ignored him as walked to the sink, flicking on the tap.
“I was peeing. That’s what you do in the restroom. Did I really have to tell you that?” she snarked.
“Twenty minutes?” He waited for an answer, but she just shrugged. He wondered what she had up her sleeve. She was planning something. He could feel it. The air between them had thickened, the tension never stronger. What happened in that bathroom? Perhaps he was just being paranoid. But she was in there for an obscene amount of time. She was up to something. “It would be so much easier if you could just piss in a bottle,” he grumbled, grabbing her arm and leading her out.
As they settled back into the car, his suspicions only grew. He even gave her a pat down before they got in but found nothing. Only that his hands had meticulously scoured her body. He needed a cold shower.
After a few more hours on the road, the night had grown pitch black, the streetlights paving his way. They would continue to drive until morning rush and sleep then. Night was when one could travel the greatest distance. The sooner they got to New York, the better. At least then, maybe he could have one restful night. Forgetting about his other enemies also.
Fuck, he had dug his own grave already. Enemies on all sides. He wouldn’t be able to go anywhere until he dealt with them.
Mari had her legs up on the dashboard and had rolled up her sweatpants. She was completely slouched in her chair and had somehow stolen his shades from his glovebox. He had to clear his throat to force his eyes away. She couldn’t know he was staring.
“Can’t you get me something to do,” she suddenly said out of nowhere. His eyes flickered over to her as his eyebrows furrowed.
“You bored, princess?” he mocked. Mari huffed and narrowed her eyes at him, her face scrunching up. “You weren’t bored before, Mari. Maybe you should talk to me again.”
“Fine. What about?” Her mood swings were giving him considerable whiplash. She just gave up on ignoring him and was suddenly perfectly fine with what he had done. Not twelve hours ago, she was crying hysterically and told him she hated him. Now she was fine?
“Anything. You’re the talker.” She looked at him like an idea had popped into her mind. Whilst ideas of hers terrified him, this one seemed innocent.
“I’m twenty years old. And I’m gonna spend the rest of my life in a prison. I promise I won’t run if you… take me somewhere that I’ll never see. Somewhere beautiful.”
He knew he shouldn’t agree to it. He knew she was shifty and they both could be liars. She had promised not to run but why would he believe that? Plus, he needed to get her back. The longer she was free, the more time she had to figure out a way to kill him.
“I… don’t know…” He didn’t want to turn her down, not outright. But the more he looked into her pleading eyes, the more he fell for her charms. He huffed and impulsively took a detour. He knew the area well. He had been there a couple of years ago. He knew a place.
Against his better judgement, he parked up on the gravel and took her hand. He dragged her through the wilderness that soon opened up into a discreet place on a cliff side.
“Where are we going? Are you taking me out here to kill me?” she questioned.
“Can you stop being a child and have a little patience?” He heard a little huff and knew she would shut up for the time being. He wasn’t sure what was going on with her, but he wanted to change her mind about hating him. Hate was such a strong word and he cared for her too much to have her hating him. He couldn’t take it.
The trees sang as they swayed in the breeze. Leaves floated down off the edge and down into the rushing stream below. The sunrise created a beautiful orange glow, gracing their faces with its warmth. Nature whistled behind them and the wind lightly hit their skin. It was the perfect place.
And by the look on her face, she thought so too.
Her mouth was gaping slightly, her eyes wide with amazement and hope and the tan radiance of her skin made her look as if she had fallen from heaven. The brown of her eyes morphed into a honey color when they caught the sunlight.
He didn’t know whether he had made the right choice by taking her there. But he didn’t care.