J O H N
“Fuck her,” he growled out as he drove off. She might have won, but she would be left in the dirt.
He hated to admit that she had hurt him. She had seriously hurt him, more than that bullet she sent into his side. He could feel his chest tightening at the thought of this betrayal, and this betrayal was all that plagued his mind.
He genuinely cared for her. He wanted her so badly he succumbed to her virgin charms. Why did she have such a significant effect on him? He thought she didn’t know what she was doing. But it was an act this entire time.
He… was in love with her. He had to admit that to himself. It only aided in his self-loathing. He had fallen into her emotional trap.
He had underestimated her too often and he thought he finally understood her. And he was wrong once again. Alessandro did not give her smarts enough credit. He was warned, but nowhere near the level he should have been. This plan required real tact. She played the game so subtly he didn’t see it was being played. From the way she walked, to simple movements in the car like the gentle pout of her lips or shifting in her seat. He was like putty in her hands. And he didn’t even know until it was too late.
What was love anyway? Could he really be sure it was? He knew he would never have done it otherwise. He had plenty of self-control that the only reason for his loss of senses was for love.
He had never been in love before. But he was, in love. With a fucking fraud. She didn’t share any of his feelings. She played him like a fiddle.
He drove. He had no clue where he was going. He no longer had a bounty or a goal. He didn’t want another bounty just yet. He was still recovering. So, he just drove.
Sara rang his phone and he reluctantly picked up, keeping his rage deep within him.
“Sara, what’s wrong?”
“You left so abruptly. Are you coming back soon? Is she coming with you?” she questioned, clearly with a distaste for the girl her brother was in love with.
“I’m not coming back, Sara. I’m sorry. I have to go,” he replied bluntly. Mari had done a number on him. He feared there was no coming back from it. She had unlocked his box of stored emotions and they had flooded out. He thought it was safe to let them flood out but now he was left alone with his pain.
“No! Wait! Please, wait. Can you come home? Just for a while. Please. Dad is messed up, more than usual and it’s really hard to do everything. Please come home. Just for a few weeks.”
He had always put his job first, and with both his parents at home, he figured Sara would be alright. He had nothing to do now. No jobs. No Mari. And he needed something to distract him from the reality that he had been played.
So, he decided to go back home.
When he arrived, he received no welcome from his father, who laid passed out on the couch. Sara ran up to him and hugged him tightly, ecstatic to see he was back.
“Where’s Ella?” she asked, pulling away and speaking Mari’s fake name in a bitter tone.
“She’s gone,” he gritted back. He was usually a stoic man, seemingly unaffected by everyone and everything. He generally held himself well. But now he felt it all crumbling.
“Oh.” She didn’t sound very disappointed for her brother. He knew it was difficult for her to hide her relief and sense of victory. “I knew you would break up with her. She’s not the girl for you anyway. She’s close to my age and she was so bitter to me.”
“I loved her,” John grunted, running a hand down his face and collapsing into a chair at the table. Sara’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion of this confession.
“You loved her?” she attempted to confirm. Her face contorted as she sifted through her emotions. She searched his face to find the truth and was evidently saddened by what she had found. “But she’s gone. Why is she gone then? How can you love her? You have enough time for her but not for me? What does she even do with her life? She’s just a freeloader.” Sara’s jealousy was overflowing but John’s mind was stuck on the little girl he left in the middle of the road.
“She… lied to me,” John said vaguely and calmly. “It’s been a long day, Sara.”
“Do you even care about me? All the time, you’re always talking about how you don’t have the time and that you have to keep your distance because you don’t want me involved in what you do. Did she know? You wanted her involved? You have the time for her?”
“If you want me to leave, Sara, all you have to do is just ask,” John deadpanned, grabbing a beer from the refrigerator and gulping it down.
“What is wrong with you?!” she exclaimed, huffing. “When she was here, you were a lot kinder to me and it seemed like you cared. Now you’re just cold, like you were before.”
“When she was here, I let my guard down. Sara, look, I’m not a safe guy. I send money here and that money is far from legal, okay? There are plenty of people after me and that was why I kept my distance, why I always have. I can’t be here for too long.”
“But you weren’t worried about that with her.”
“Because she’s different,” he growled lowly, taking another glug of beer. He didn’t mean to scare her, but he had enough. He didn’t want to talk about Mari. He didn’t want to think about Mari. He never thought he was a sore loser, but it pained him so much to lose when she had used him like that. He didn’t even think she knew what manipulation was.
“Fine. I didn’t think my hard brother would be so affected by a small trashy girl,” she sneered before grabbing a beer herself.
“She’s not-” He was about to say trashy, but then again, he didn’t know anymore. She slept with him for her freedom. She was willing to do anything to achieve her goal, including giving up her dignity.
“I’ve never seen you broken up over a girl. I’ve never even heard of you having a girlfriend. You’ve never said anything about it. But for your first actual girlfriend, she didn’t seem serious enough for you.”
With time, he would learn to move on from her. Sara was right. He had never been in a serious relationship. He had never had a girlfriend. And Mari wasn’t even his girlfriend. It just… for the time they had spent together, that felt like a relationship. And it felt as though they had broken up.
“It wasn’t serious.” Could he really blame her? This wasn’t on her. He was in love with her, and that was why he was taking it so harshly. But she always wanted to escape her father and Dante and sleeping with him once would get her out of a lifetime of torture. They were so close to New York that she figured it was her last chance and that was her last plan of escape.
In a way, he was proud. He was proud of how determined she was, of how much audacity it took to do what was necessary. That was the only way to win for sure. And she had done it. He couldn’t be mad at that?
He was more maddened at himself and the way he fell for it all. He had never been gullible or easily manipulated. He was the one that messed with other people’s minds. He was the one who tried to understand others and manipulate them. He hadn’t even thought she was capable of it. For that, he was proud.
“You said you loved her.”
“We weren’t dating for that long,” John replied. He didn’t know why he was confiding in his sister, but he never had emotional issues. He never needed anyone to confide in. He never had a problem. And now, he felt like he needed to talk to someone.
“She’s not that special, John. You’ll find someone else. Or, maybe you can spend more time here,” she suggested with hopeful eyes.
“You shouldn’t be drinking that,” John said, avoiding her idea completely. He didn’t want to keep going over this with her. He had the feds on his back as well as Manuel and Striker. And now he would make an enemy of Alessandro. He had been tasked with bringing back his daughter. A daughter that he had slept with. A daughter who had manipulated him. A daughter he had let go.
He would soon get another call from Alessandro. But when he was chasing his daughter or had her in his grips, it was just a hassle to pick up the calls, knowing that he would get the job done. Now, he wouldn’t get the job done. He was running from the job. He would have to leave New York if Alessandro found out that he either let her go or he had stopped looking for her. He would have to go on the run.
Mari had fucked him over and left him with nothing.