M A R C E L L A
She swore the house was haunted at night. The clash of bottles or the faint grunts from down the hall echoed through every room. John slept beside her, or rather rested. Well, in fact, he was restless.
When she heard his sister through the phone, claiming their mother was dead, she thought she would see some sort of reaction. But no such thing. He remained calm. He remained unwavering. It slightly scared her.
Her plan would only work on his compassion for her. If he didn’t even have compassion for his own mother, what hope could she have that the plan would be successful? Sure, he was interested in her, clear in their kiss. But that didn’t mean she would be saved. That didn’t mean he would let her go. And that scared her.
“I didn’t know you had a sister,” she spoke, turning to come face to face with John.
“That’s because I didn’t tell you,” he commented. “You’re always fishing.”
“I’m not!” she argued in a whisper-yell. He chuckled at her frustration. She wasn’t fishing now. That wasn’t the plan. She was truly curious about his family. He hadn’t told her anything about them, she assumed for a purpose. She supposed it was to protect his sister, who seemed incredibly fond of her big brother even though John didn’t appear too excited to be there.
She stared into those sea blue eyes of his and wondered why she felt so connected to him. She didn’t know what to feel anymore. Her brain kept changing its mind and her heart was left in a whirlwind of emotions. And as plain as day, she could see that she felt connected to him. She should have been sly with him, knowing he was the man chasing her. She should have felt as though he was the enemy, as he was employed by her father. She should have been furious after what he and her father had done to her mother. And yet, she felt none of those things, and her brain wanted to force her to.
“I’m not very tired. It’s because of that fucked up sleep schedule you have us on,” Mari complained.
“You are such a princess, you know that?” he mocked playfully and she rolled her eyes. They both subconsciously shuffled closer, trying to get comfortable.
She had told his family they were a couple, which was quite the save as she knew his family didn’t know what he did. But there was an ulterior motive. He would have to act like a couple with her and perhaps it would break the last few boundaries between them.
Now, they were squashed up on a single bed, John’s childhood bed.
“What happened to all of your stuff? Where are the posters of heavy metal bands or the brooding dull theme to the room?” He chuckled again, and she enjoyed lightening his spirits. He hadn’t reacted to the news of his mother’s death, but there was a melancholy countenance to him.
“This was it. I didn’t have any of that stuff. I wasn’t in my room enough to hang stuff up,” he explained in a whisper.
“Instead, you were out chasing girls,” she joked.
“Dealing drugs,” he admitted, which drew her interest. “That’s how I got into trouble with your father, among other things. When I was older, eighteen, I moved to New York City and did some stupid shit Alessandro didn’t take kindly too.”
“Your sister, do you see her much?” she asked.
“No. I want to keep her away from it all.”
“She’s with your dad. By the sound of it, he didn’t seem all that… together…” John sighed and scoffed.
“You’re right. But… she’s safer with him than with me. I’ve got shot twice since I met you.”
“One of those was my fault though,” she said with a smirk, making John roll his eyes. This was a while ago now, thus they could joke about it. Mari wasn’t sure whether she was able to do the same now that she knew him better. She wasn’t sure if she would have been able to pull that trigger. She felt something shift inside of her, perhaps her priorities.
The number one goal: freedom. Everything else was secondary to that. Now, she wasn’t quite certain of that.
“Sleep now, Mari.”
“Ella,” she corrected with a giggle. With a smile painted on his lips, his eyes closed, disconnecting from hers. And she closed hers too with a wave of content coursing through her.
The sun peeked through the clouds to wake the exhausted girl up for a new day. She didn’t know what would be in store for them today. She was in an unfamiliar place.
She attempted to move but was held down by a trunk of an arm. Fucking gigantic and muscular. Strangely, he hadn’t bound her, but she thought it was because he trusted her enough. She had pondered whether to break that trust, but his mother had died, and she had given him her word.
Her eyes flickered open and met with John’s brooding face. It was all scrunched up, like he was dreaming up something terrible. There were a couple of winces that urged her hand to touch his cheek, to comfort him. Her fingertips brushed his bristled chin and back up to his cheekbone again. And soon his restlessness was soothed.
She studied his face like she had so many times before. She often wondered why she was doing it. When one did something so many times, they’d get bored of it. And for some reason, looking at his face never grew tiresome.
“I can feel you staring,” he suddenly said with his eyes closed. She almost jumped out of her skin but that was stopped by him holding her down.
“I-I was just… I need to pee.”
“Do you always have to pee in the morning? Fucking hell,” he grumbled before releasing her.
She stood and headed towards the door, prepared to go on this fake toilet trip. Then she remembered they were in his bedroom and that the door was locked. She turned back to John and found him curled up into the spot where she laid.
“Unlock the door.”
“You’re a nuisance.”
“A nuisance? Old word for an old man,” she mocked which he cursed at her under his breath. She giggled even more and then jumped on his legs. Letting out a grunt, John sat up and gave her a narrowed look. “I’m your captive, I’m not here by choice.”
“Yes, you’re my captive. That doesn’t mean I need to treat you like a little princess,” he retorted.
“No?” She gave him a fake pout like a sulky child. He rolled his eyes, picked her up by her waist and settled her down onto the floor. Standing with his hands still on her, he stared down at her, for a mere second, but she felt like her legs would give out at any moment.
He quickly unlocked the door and they both entered the bathroom. She gave him a pointed stare and raised her eyebrows in question.
“I can’t have my sister see that I’m guarding you. I’ll just turn my back,” he declared, turning at a rather excruciating pace.
Once she finished and they both got ready, they had been invited for the wake at John’s grandparents’ house. They invited her quite reluctantly, eyeing her up and most likely deciphering she was some young plaything for John’s amusement. She wondered how many girls he had brought home in the past and whether he ever had any serious relationships. They seemed shocked enough when she told them she was his girlfriend, like that was impossible.
She could already tell his sister’s distaste in her. Perhaps it was because she had stolen his attention, and, by the sound of it, Sara didn’t get much of that. And they were quite close in age too.
As they entered the hall downstairs, they sighted John’s sister and father. His sister was dressed in a short black dress, as if she were going to some nightclub, not that Mari was dressed any more appropriately in her black jeans and oversized black t-shirt she was given from John. It didn’t feel right to attend a wake of a woman she didn’t know, but she had no choice, so she wasn’t to blame.
John’s father was dressed rather smartly compared to their previous encounter where he was in an alcohol-soaked t-shirt, fucked up pants and his beer belly on display. She also knew this man wasn’t a fan of her either, or his son for that matter. It didn’t look like he was pleased his son had returned home, especially with some little girl he didn’t know.
John kept Mari close to him, his hand on the small of her back to keep the necessary contact with her. And Mari was growing rather accustomed to the feeling.
“We’ll take my car,” John said and led Mari out without any debate over it. Mari slid into the passenger seat as usual and the two family members hopped into the back. They stared at her through the mirror and gave her similar looks, looks of disgust. Why did she care anyway? Why did their looks unsettle her? She had no need to please anyone. She wasn’t truly with John. John would soon take her back home and none of this would matter. That was if her plan failed, which she still had hope in.
“You got another car,” Sara stated. John glanced over to Mari accusingly and back at the road as he drove off.
A lot had happened between them. A lot of chasing, a lot of pain, a lot of determination.
Her determination to run, his determination to catch her.