J O H N
The moment John laid eyes on Mari, everything changed again. She was in the arms of Dante, attempting to struggle out of them and run to help him. One of his eyes was swollen shut. His abs were bruised so much that he was almost dry heaving.
At least she was still beautiful, unharmed. The moment their eyes connected, he instantly felt ounces of pain from his body dissipate into the air. Her brown hair was tied up into a loose bun and she was wearing some casual jeans. She looked healthy. She looked okay.
From the look of horror plastered on her face, he could only imagine how he must have appeared. He could certainly feel it. His lip had swelled, and he knew more torturous agony would come in the near future, perhaps as a display for Mari.
Dante pushed Mari’s back flush against his chest and grabbed her jaw from behind her. John eyed the presence of Dante’s hands all over Mari. He longed for fucking blood. He would claw out Dante’s eyes if he got the chance, and he was sure Mari would help him bury the body.
“This is what you did to him, Marcella,” Dante hissed in her ear.
“Let me go to him,” she whimpered through his grip. She wiggled around, attempting to get out but he only increased his hold.
“Why would I do that, principessa? He’s here so you can receive your due punishment. You love him?” She didn’t say anything, of course. She was nervous for John’s safety. He wasn’t in any danger just yet, not until Dante had finished serving both of them his revenge. “I’ll take that as a yes. You want to be with him?”
One of John’s torturers jammed a knife into his gut and twisted. An animalistic growl erupted from John, although stunted by John’s determination not to give Dante the satisfaction of seeing him in utter agony. Mixed in with John’s sounds was Mari’s high-pitched scream. It pained him even more to hear her fear.
“Stop it!” she cried, flailing in Dante’s arms to reach out to him. He loved to see how Mari fought for him, but she needed to stop, for her own safety. If he died, which was the most probable outcome here, Mari needed to live. She needed to live the life she desired. They had both given up everything for it after all. He would do anything to make her goal become a reality. It was a goal she had since the beginning. Freedom.
John’s groans morphed into low growls and grunts as he attempted to rein all the pain into his body, eternally screaming at it all. The more he outwardly displayed it, the more she would react.
“You knew she was mine and yet you decided to be with her anyway,” Dante taunted John. “Are you suicidal? You must be. Don’t worry. We’ll end it for you. Excruciatingly slow.”
The punch was thrown this jaw, creating the metallic taste of blood swirling in his mouth., He spat it out to the ground, but his mouth only filled with more. The left side of his face was now numb. A dull ache remained. His head was up in the clouds, so heavy as if his brain had turned to stone and water had flooded around it. It was a strange feeling, one so powerful he could barely keep his head up, despite being the strong man he was.
His eyelids weighed a ton. All they wanted was to close. The only sight keeping them open was her. They were pried open by the view of his love. Even if she was held by another man.
Another jab of a blade shot right into his abdomen, just below his others. They wished to mark every part of his skin with a gash or bruise or some sort of torture. This stab just so happened to dig right into old wounds, when Mari had shot him well over a year ago. Just reflecting on those memories eased him as much as tearing into scarred skin seared him. It was all so different back then. Not in a bad way. But he was glad it worked the way it did. He spent quality months with Mari, as her boyfriend, as the only person in her life. It was everything to him.
She was everything to him.
“I love you, Mari.” It probably wasn’t the wisest choice of words in his situation if he wanted to avoid worse torment. But if he were destined to die, he wanted his last words to be a confession of his love. It was the only thing that mattered in the living world. His love for her was the only thing he had, and it was enough, more than enough.
His mother was dead, his father was dead, his sister dead. Mari was his family. He was hers. And he would always find her, even in death.
“I love you too,” she whispered through her silent sobs. There were no tears. She detested seeing this punishment, and as was the Mari way, her fury trumped her sadness. She would fight to the bitter end for him. And he would fight for her too.
“Take him out of here and wait for my order to finish him off. I want him to die with his sister,” Dante ordered, and his man complied.
“No!” Mari screeched, roughly tugging at Dante’s arms even more so than before. She even managed to slip out but was caught once again just before her hand could reach his. If only he could hold her one last time. If only he could know that she was safe before he went. He would be content in death if he knew that Dante was nowhere near Mari, his fiancé, his love.
He was tossed across the basement floor, the door slamming shut behind two bulky men. One of them looked rather familiar. It took him a moment to pinpoint where he knew the man from, and then remembered. He was one of the fucking men who ran him off the road.
John didn’t think he worked for Alessandro. But it all made sense. This man would be his executioner.
The other man raised a gun to his head whilst the guy he knew stood out of sight. Dante was on the man’s phone. Then he gave him the go-ahead. This was it.
A gunshot sounded and he dropped to the floor. Dead.