M A R C E L L A
With a bloodied knife in her back pocket and nothing else, the next couple of weeks were filled with theft, lies and running. She thought with John off her back, she could finally stop, perhaps settle down somewhere, but trouble did indeed follow her.
She didn’t know who their boss was, but she was still very wary of it. So, she wouldn’t stop moving.
Her thoughts had been tormented with John. Fucking John. She was to blame here. He thought she had manipulated him, and she had. She had won and yet she didn’t feel victorious. Perhaps because she wanted him. She wasn’t after just her freedom anymore. She wanted it with him.
She was so selfish. She thought she could have both. She yearned for both.
She had travelled out of New Jersey where John had left her and into another state. She wasn’t exactly sure where, but she arrived at another small town. She had taken several buses with only a single plan, to get as far as she could possibly get from where she was. She wanted to end up at the west coast eventually and perhaps settle down there. California was the furthest but too populated. But she did need a big city so she wouldn’t stand out as an outsider like she did now. They gave her strange looks as she entered the motel. She paid at the front desk and was finally able to take a rest.
She laid back on her bed and stared up at the ceiling, which was littered with cobwebs. She thought of all the nights she had spent with him in several motel rooms. He would cuddle up to her even though he claimed it was to stop her escaping.
“Where do I go from here?” she muttered out.
A tear slipped from her eye as now she could take her rest. She was exhausted. She was completely wrecked. She had been constantly moving since the day she left home, and she couldn’t take one moment’s break for fear of him catching up to her. She was always planning and plotting and fearful of going home to the life she never wanted.
She had used John. And it was difficult to feel guilty about that. She never wanted this life. She never wanted to be the daughter of a mafia don. She never wanted to grow up with a single friend and no social life. She had no knowledge of what the outside world was like other than the countless movies she had watched. But they didn’t prepare her for the basics. They taught her what her duty was and little tricks like pickpocketing. They didn’t tell her about simple things like the fact that some establishments don’t allow someone to use the restroom unless they are buying something. It was those things she knew nothing about and hindered her. They all added up as she tried to work it out.
She purchased a burner phone, but she wasn’t sure why. She had added John’s number to the dial list and her finger hovered over it. She wasn’t even sure that was the right number. She had only glimpsed his number briefly. But… she was missing something. She was lost.
She had no one else to call. Milo and Lucia were in New York. They couldn’t help her. And Giuseppe was dead. They were all she had, and now she had no one to help her. She didn’t know where she would go next, and she didn’t just want to float.
Of course, she had a dream about the life she wanted, the life she desired if she could win her freedom. But it was simply a pipe dream. She wanted to attend college, major in something artsy. She wanted to get a job and a boyfriend and lots of friends. She would have so many friends that she would start wishing for some more alone time, even as a great extrovert.
Delusions. That was all they were. She knew they could never be real. She knew that. She would always be Alessandro’s daughter. She would always be a mafia princess and she couldn’t escape that no matter what she did.
“Marcella, there are many things you need to know in this world to survive.” The wide-eyed girl sat at the table with her father and his men all seated around it too. They were joking about among themselves, casually throwing glances at the father daughter duo.
“You are my daughter. You’ll always be a target because you are my kin,” he explained like Mari knew what he was talking about. “That’s why, when you’re old enough, you’ll get married, for your safety and the security of our family.”
“What he’s saying is that you have to spread your-”one of his men began with a smirk.
“Don’t finish that fucking sentence!” Alessandro bellowed. He immediately backed off but still kept the grin on his face as he looked to the little girl. And she just stared innocently. What were they talking about?
It always terrified her when her father swore. He only did so around her when he was enraged. And she hated to enrage him. He could be like a feral animal when provoked.
“What I’m saying is that when the time comes, you’ll do your duty to this family and you’ll do as I say. Si?”
“Si, padre,” she replied obediently. He nodded his head in content and angled himself back to his men.
Without her mother there, she was the only female in the house, aside from the staff, or when her father or one of his men had some female company. She didn’t understand why they came in late at night and were thrown out in the early morning, but she had learned that it was none of her business. Most of her father’s business was not her business. She shouldn’t ask questions. She didn’t need the answers.
She sat patiently until she was dismissed. And then she raced to the door when Milo arrived. They rushed up to her room and started a movie on her TV screen. Her father only allowed her one friend, a friend he had vetted.
She thought about her father’s words all night. She would obey him, or he would be angry. She knew that was the consequence. She would never dare go against him in her life. Never.
Perhaps she should have stayed with that philosophy. Going against her father was a slippery slope and deep down she knew it would end up badly. She had won, for now, she supposed. But what had it cost her already? What would it cost her in the future? John was the first person he sent and wouldn’t be the last. He wanted his daughter back to marry her off and he was going to find her at any expense.
She missed John. Why did she miss John? Why did she feel this way? He was a means to an end. She was just using him. She had some feelings, but it wasn’t strong enough for her to miss him, was it? Evidently, it was.
She wanted to be with him. But what would that choice cost her? He probably didn’t even want her. He was furious when he figured out what she had done. He wouldn’t want anything to do with her.
But it was worth a shot. She wouldn’t find him. That wasn’t what she was good at. But it was what he was good at. And this time, she wouldn’t hide from him. She would make it obvious. And if he were looking and wanted her, he would be able to find her.
It was risky, but she was safer with John anyway. She had found trouble at every corner and without John there to protect her, she was open to attacks on all fronts. But that wasn’t why she wanted him there with her. She wanted him. She wanted all of him.
Sometimes the monster would come out, like she had seen in so many men she had met. But she didn’t fear that monster. That monster would protect her, would keep her safe. He was violent towards her enemies, not to her. And she accepted the darkness within him.
What was her plan? How would she lure him out? She would stay in this small town. She stuck out like a sore thumb, so the search was a little more narrowed. But she needed a trail only he could follow.
She retraced where he left her, out in the middle of nowhere. She circled on the map the closest town, where she had been taken to and locked inside a room with those two men in. He would be able to track her there. Then he would figure out his next steps, where he thought she would go.
She remembered what buses she took and mapped out every movement to where she was now. Then, she planted clues. She knew going back along her path would put her at risk, but it was worth it. It only took her a couple of days, her base out of that motel. She wanted to make it somewhat difficult for him though, so if he did find her, she would know how much effort he went to in order to do so.
She still didn’t know why he meant so much to her or why she felt she needed him in her life, but she was risking everything for a plan that would achieve that goal. She couldn’t imagine a good future without him anymore, and that was what motivated her to reunite them.
She would find him. And she would try to explain.