M A R C E L L A
“Looks like the feds aren’t going to save you, gattina,” Dante declared with a triumphant smile as he entered the room. There were blood splatters on his white shirt that he probably wore like a trophy.
Dante had left to help out with the feds, bringing his family into the fold. That was the power of their alliance and Mari was supposed to solidify that. She had underestimated their forces and overestimated the power of the feds.
“Neither is your little boy toy,” he said with a vicious smile on his face.
“What does that mean?” she asked with a slight waver in her voice. She wanted to show no weakness, but she was unsure what he meant. The expression plastered on his face was one that unsettled Mari deeply.
“Well, that pretty little sister of his is no longer your, or his, concern. Your father took care of it,” he explained.
Her jaw gaped slightly. She was forcing back a scream. She had just been told that the man in the room with her, the man she was supposed to marry, had been a part of killing Sara. Her father killed Sara. This was all her fault. She couldn’t show her guilt. She couldn’t show that this rattled her.
“We’re going for dinner now.” He grasped her hand and tugged her towards him. She attempted to resist but his grip only tightened, dangerously so. “Don’t test me, bambina.”
She obediently went along. She followed in step with him, into a black car and the driver took off, down the streets of Manhattan. This had been her home for twenty years and yet she knew nothing about the city. She had been confined to her house, other than school and the casual shopping trips here and there.
Dante sat beside her, scanning his phone like some workaholic businessman. Not that she minded so much. Every so often he would glance her way, but she made sure she was staring straight ahead of her, keeping an eye on him from the corner of her eye.
All of a sudden, Dante began changing out of his shirt. It made sense, seeing as he had the blood splatters of John’s sister on him. It made her physically sick to think about it, but she had to swallow back down the vomit in her mouth.
She kept her eyes well away from Dante and his half-nakedness. Once he was done, his hand touched her leg, jolting her as if his hand were electric. Her eyes snapped to his and he raised a brow.
“We’re here,” he announced.
She followed his lead, and they were led to a reserved table on a rooftop overlooking the city. It would be a beautiful location if not for the grotesque company. She had been on a date somewhere similar with John, although not so expensive to eat at.
“You like it?” Dante asked like he cared about what she thought. She tried to read into his expression, but it was too blank, too stoic.
“Yes,” she replied blankly, attempting to match his own demeanor.
“Keller told me you shot him.” They were pressuring John for answers about their time together too.
“Yes.” She wouldn’t indulge him. Her own little revenge was keeping her dignity, for now, and she didn’t speak to homicidal maniacs.
“I get the feeling you don’t like me, principessa.”
“What on earth gave you that feeling? I thought men like you don’t feel at all,” she snarked. She had no clue where this profound confidence came from, but she knew it could get her into some serious trouble. There was still John’s life on the line and that should keep her in line. She couldn’t be responsible for another death, not again. Not his.
“People who speak to me like that, well, you can guess what happens. You? You excite me. Hearing that you shot someone just to get away, that excites me too.” She wasn’t sure whether that was what she wanted. To excite him? Exciting him could be dangerous, but it was also keeping her in the game. She couldn’t be boring. She would hate to see what would happen if he got bored with her.
She gave him silence. Only silence.
“I’m assuming your father taught you the art of conversation. The give and take of at least two people. There needs to be a balance. So, when I say something, you give me something back. Now I’ve taught you, so there’s no excuse.”
“Okay,” she conceded. There was no use in fighting him. Not just yet.
“Do you like to read?” he asked casually, as if he could be a normal human being having a normal conversation. Perhaps he wanted to try it.
“Yes, I like to read.”
“Down the river. It’s a book about criminals getting what they deserve, sent to prison,” she snarked. It was a book she read long ago that she found… amateur. But she wanted to sass him, spark more of his interest.
He chuckled softly and stared at her.
“You still have no problem speaking the way you do with me.”
“You wanted me to speak. So, I spoke. We can go back to silence if you don’t like it,” she told him confidently. He smirked back at her and tilted his head.
“You should know that the more attitude you give me, the more I like you,” Dante stated. “We’ll be married anyway, so it can’t hurt you, but I know you don’t want this marriage. This is because of the bounty hunter, si?”
“I’m not just against the marriage because of John. I’m against it because it’s to you. Getting married to you is the most hideous proposal anyone could have thought of. That was enough punishment in itself.”
“I can come up with a lot worse for punishment. You should feel grateful I stopped your father from doing what he wanted. I didn’t want you hurt. It wouldn’t accomplish anything and wouldn’t nearly hurt you as much as if I killed your lover.” Mari’s eyes widened and Dante just smirked at her. She could tell it wasn’t an empty threat. And he was right. That would make for a good punishment. And he could easily carry it out. “Toe the line, Marcella, don’t fucking cross it.”
After their dinner date, the drive back was just him staring at her. It unsettled her, to say the least. But she didn’t address it. The threat on John’s life was enough to shut her up. John was still alive, and she had to watch her tone. She couldn’t cross the line.
They arrived back at the house and Mari settled back into her room. He had locked her in there, with nothing to do but dwell on her life. She couldn’t make a plan until she knew that John was safe. As long as Dante and Alessandro had John, she couldn’t go anywhere. It was way too dangerous. If she tried anything, John’s head could end up on a spike.
The door was suddenly unlocked and in walked some beefy guard she had first seen when she got there. He just stood there, waiting for her to walk to the door. He said nothing, did nothing that told her anything. He waited like she was the idiot.
“Where are you taking me?” she asked boldly, deciding she wouldn’t go anywhere with that oaf until he spoke.
“Mr Marciano’s office,” he answered blankly.
“He has a surprise for you,” he said, grabbing her arm and dragging her out of the room. She shook off his hand and eyed him before walking on her own. She wouldn’t be manhandled.
“What’s your name?” She thought she would drag her feet, make conversation with the man in an attempt to win some sort of good rapport with him.
“I know who you are, Miss De Luca,” he stated nonchalantly. She studied his face, trying to work out what would put her in his favor. “We’ve met before. Well, not met, but I’ve seen you.”
“Okay…” She didn’t know why he was elaborating, not that she wasn’t thankful for it. She wouldn’t have to ask.
“Your father killed mine,” he said darkly, and that surely shut her up.
They soon entered Dante’s office and was met with the man himself.
“What took you so fucking long?” Dante questioned Aldo.
“Sorry, sir,” he replied before leaving promptly.
“Is there something you wanted?” She was trying to be as polite as she possibly could, but the mere sight of this man made her blood boil.
“Tone, Marcella,” he warned, grabbing her arm and shoving her closer to him. “Of course, there was something I wanted otherwise I wouldn’t have brought you here. You’ll have to wait for a surprise I have for you.”
Minutes pass and she wondered whether this was all just to stare at her intensely, attempting to frighten her with his deadly eyes. She wouldn’t blame him if he wanted to put the fear of God in her and make her behave. Although, what he didn’t know was that she was already quaking, and she still maintained the dangerous attitude.
Then, pummeling through the door, the body of John, luckily, still alive. Bloodied and bruised but alive. For now.