M A R C E L L A
Her time was running out. There were only a couple of weeks until her wedding and she still had no means of escape. It shouldn’t have been hard, but Dante was a challenge to understand. She didn’t know what he wanted. She didn’t know what he desired.
She had figured out only a few things. Dante was a possessive man. Mari had been pronounced his by her father, and then she ran away and had a life with another man. It clearly didn’t sit well with him. Which also led her to believe he was an envious man.
Sometimes, there were moments that she didn’t understand at all. At times, she caught him just staring at her with a blank expression. She couldn’t decipher what it was. At first, she thought he was mad with her. The way his nostrils slightly flared and the shape of his eyebrows. But then she realized it was his natural expression. She had no clue why he did some things and it bothered her. It also halted her from planning any kind of escape.
They ate lunch in silence like they had done every day. Silence began to feel normal. It was a welcome change, even if it was with such a monster. He didn’t say anything. He just ate. And she just ate too.
“We’re having some friends here tonight. Your father is invited also. You’ll be on your best behavior, si?” he asked.
“Si,” she replied. Why aggravate the beast when he was in a mildly pleasant mood? Talking back would get her nowhere, and she wanted to escape. There wasn’t place for pride in this war. She had hoped it would be Dante’s downfall.
She noticed he was staring again from the corner of her eye. She refused to meet his gaze. It scared her most times, the way his eyes pummeled into her like they were drills into a wall, chipping away at her exterior to get to her secrets. And she had a secret. Perhaps that was what made her so interesting. Perhaps he could sense the mystery and was trying to figure out what it was.
His hand suddenly brushed hers. She knew not to jerk, even though all the nerves in her body were trying to force that response. Her brain denied it and slowly looked to him. And he stared at her like she was the most interesting thing he had ever seen.
“I see now why the bounty hunter had such a hard time bringing you back here, well, before he fell in love with you. I can’t quite figure you out. I can’t at all really. Which is strange for a girl of twenty-two,” he said quite boldly. “So, principessa, who are you?”
“What do you mean?” she replied, acting dumb. She knew what he was talking about, of course. She knew why he was confused. Nothing she did made any sense to him. Her reactions weren’t normal, not what he would expect from a small girl like her. She didn’t cry at the loss of her love. She didn’t flinch away from him, neither did she warm to his touch. She was obedient enough, but it was all so cold. She was trying to keep him guessing, to keep him busy, to distract him from any plans she was making. But the plan making was going all too slowly. She didn’t know how long it would take before he figured out it was all a little plan of her own.
She enjoyed making him work for it. She knew she was one of the few that he couldn’t decipher, and she knew that must be gnawing away at him. John felt the same at one time.
“No?” She wasn’t sure what to say to the man. So, she sat there, finishing off her meal bit by bit and attempting to decipher him whilst he tried to do it to her.
She was getting a good grasp on his motives, but none that could get her out. Only plans that would allow her to keep afloat. But every game would be over if he found out she was pregnant.
“See, I think you do. And I still can’t understand it.”
Their lunch concluded with both trying to figure each other out. Hopefully, Mari could keep him guessing whilst she formulated her escape. Perhaps she would find a way out tonight, a chance to run. But she would have to remove all eyes off her, and Dante had taken to watching her intensely.
The night came and she dressed in an appropriate dress she found in her closest. Thankfully all the sizes he bought her were slightly too big, so her body was extra covered. A simple necklace with a ruby pendant was placed on her bed when she left the shower. She should have been more concerned by the fact that Dante came into her room whilst she was showering, but, then again, it was his house. Nothing was private. She couldn’t expect it to be.
As she descended the stairs and entered the dining room, every eye looked her way. She was under the impression it was a party type occasion but there were only three families: the Marcianos – which she supposed she was now a part of, the De Lucas and the Carusos. Giovanni Caruso was a known enemy of the De Luca family, and as such, an enemy of the Marciano family. So, what was this?
Dante extended his hand to Mari, giving her a dangerous look. She knew not to test him at that moment. So, she took his hand and stood by his side. They all took seats around the table, Alessandro on Dante’s right and Mari on Dante’s left. The Caruso family on the opposite side, glaring at their enemy.
“Behave,” Dante whispered over to Mari before sitting straight and becoming the deadly man he was.
It was business talk for most of the meeting, with the occasional glance Mari’s way. They agreed on a truce, some sort of arrangement that would mean peace for the meantime. The Caruso family appeared very reluctant, but all the families listened to each other.
They had drinks after, the families mingling with one another and Dante glued Mari to his side. They approached Alessandro and Dante and Mari’s father shook hands.
“I trust my daughter’s been behaving herself.” What was with everyone and her behavior? She knew she was wild, and she ran away, but she hadn’t caused any trouble so far. She might try crazy things, but they were plans that did actually work. She wasn’t stupid enough to try something when she didn’t know the full picture.
“I can’t wait to marry her,” Dante declared, shocking Alessandro slightly in the authenticity of the statement.
“I’m glad my daughter’s making you happy,” Alessandro said with a sly smirk. He thought they were already together sexually. What kind of fucking father did that? He sickened Mari right to her core.
Mari never wanted to murder someone, but her father had to go. She felt so venomous she was like a vicious snake. And then, she had an idea. It started off small, inconceivable, perhaps she always had the idea nagging at the back of her mind. She wanted this man to die. She needed him to die. For everyone he had taken from her.
And it was the perfect setting. The Caruso family despised Alessandro De Luca. It wouldn’t be too far a stretch to accuse them of his murder. Then a war would break out and they might actually be able to defeat Dante. And she would be free.
That was her escape. Only if she could go through with it. Murdering her own father was cold-blooded, even for her. But it was in her blood.
Through the night, her father pulled her aside, into a quiet hall.
“You’re getting married soon and you need to continue making him happy. I w-” Before he could ever finish his sentence, she jammed the knife she had lifted from a Caruso into her father’s eyes, digging it in with the most force she possibly could. He didn’t even see it coming. And it was the Caruso family’s signature style.
What had she become? Was it impulsive? It felt incredibly impulsive.
But this was for Sara. This was for John. This was for her mother. She had to do this. And whether it was impulsive or not, she made the right decision, no matter what it made her.
She never thought she had the guts to kill her father. But it was the right setting. Dante didn’t see her leave with Alessandro, and it was more likely that the Caruso family did it, especially since it was one of their knives. No one would know it was her, and Dante would never think she had the mettle to do it. John never did.
She quickly fled to the bathroom to wash the blood off her, the black dress luckily hiding any splatters on her clothes. She scrubbed between her fingers intensely, scraping out every last drop of her father on her. She noticed her hands were trembling, most likely due to the shock. But she settled herself.
She didn’t know how she felt about what she just did but she didn’t have time to dwell on it in that moment. She slipped back into the dining room and back by Dante’s side. He barely noticed she was gone.
Mari pushed her actions right at the back of her mind. She wouldn’t give herself away. She wouldn’t look suspicious. She had her vengeance. And she also had the possibility of freedom.