M A R C E L L A
Mari was probably just as stunned as that guy was. But she was more mobile. Her legs jolted into action and she resumed her plan as usual, despite a few alterations.
She wondered how the guy had found her. How he had caught her so easily. How he had gotten from outside the apartment to cutting her off in the alleyway so skillfully. Perhaps she had underestimated him. But by the looks of it, he had underestimated her.
Of course, he had no idea that was the move she was going to play. Neither had she until it popped into her head from their proximity. He was handsome to say the least. His broad muscled chest blocked any view of the sky. The tips of his mousy brown hair brushed her forehead. His eyes were colored a sapphire blue, glistening with curiosity and narrowed as he took her in too.
He wasn’t what she expected. She expected some burly brooding man littered with tattoos and perhaps a scar running down the side of his face. She expected someone with a dark aura, someone that screamed dangerous like many men she had met, but what she got was… him.
He intrigued her. She didn’t know why and didn’t have time to find that out at the moment, but he was on her mind, plaguing her thoughts. Who was he? She hadn’t seen him around the club or her house. Alessandro had hired him. He strangely seemed familiar, but she couldn’t quite place him.
She ditched the baseball cap she had on and switched it with another from her bag. She let down her hair and switched her hoodies.
This guy was good; she knew that now. From the short meeting they had, she knew a couple of things about him. He was a lone wolf. He probably had contacts like she did, but he operated solely. He was also experienced. He was at least ten years older than her and was incredibly skilled at hunting someone. He had found her so quickly. Did he get that from Milo’s hard drive alone?
She was kicking herself for how easily she was found. He shouldn’t have managed that. She knew she was new at this, but for the guy in the alley, it was his job, and for her, it was her survival.
She hopped on a bus, avoiding the security camera, pickpocketing some woman for her bus pass and making her way to the back. She hadn’t ever been on a bus in her life. She knew that made her somewhat of a stuck-up princess, but it wasn’t out of choice. Her father forced her to be driven to school or Milo’s each and every day, the guard not even letting up when she was at school. She wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone at this private school, but Alessandro just wanted her out of the house.
He viewed her as his pride possession, someone he could use for his own gain. He was just about to get exactly what he wanted when she ran away. He didn’t care what Dante could do to her. He didn’t care about her wellbeing after he sold her off. He was only so protective in fear of what she eventually did. She ran away.
She wasn’t stupid. She knew her father wasn’t either. She knew he knew her feelings towards Dante and the whole ‘selling her’ proposal. He knew she wanted to escape. Perhaps he didn’t think she would manage it. Getting out of the house with the increased guard he set had been a wildly difficult task. But a task she had accomplished. It meant that Alessandro would no longer underestimate her, which was actually a disadvantage. And the same went for the guy in the alley. He now knew how far she was willing to go and had insight into her mindset. That was dangerous. She had to stay ahead of him.
But the more she understood him, the more he understood her. That was because she could only gather information on him from their meeting. So, the smart move was to find out who he was. To find out everything about him and his skills.
Someone she knew and could trust must have heard of him. Alessandro wouldn’t hire an amateur to go after her and he seemed a seasoned hunter.
She purchased a burner phone in the store on the corner. It was a risky move if one of the security cameras picked her up, especially since the guy knew she couldn’t be too far. But she needed to know who she was up against.
She dialed the only person she knew to call for something like this: Giuseppe. Giuseppe was an old employee of Alessandro’s, believed to be dead. He had faked his own death to get out of the criminal life. In fact, he was the one who gave her the idea to escape in the first place.
Giuseppe Mancini. He was somewhat of a godfather to Mari. She looked up to him more so than she did her own father. He cared for her when she was a child and taught her to be more than just some shielded mafia princess. He would tell her what she needed to know, that was if he was still alive. She had been left a number years back, when he faked his death. She had no clue whether it was still in service or what he was even doing in his life.
“Hello.” The sound of his familiar voice filled her ears, soothing her panic slightly. She was on the run; she was on edge. She didn’t have many allies that she could turn to. But he would always be one of them. He was loyal to her, as Milo was. What separated them was the fact that Giuseppe had once been solely loyal to Alessandro, only to switch his fealty the moment she was born. He practically raised her.
“Giuseppe?” she called out.
“Marcella?” he said in his thick Italian accent that reminded her of everyone back home. Even though she had run from them, home was still home. Home was everything she knew. It was painful to leave and she still had fond memories there. They were just tainted by Alessandro’s intentions for her.
“Yes, it’s me. How are you?”
“Oh, tesoro, I’m doing well, laying low. How are you calling me? Is everything okay? Does Alessandro know about this?” It was reasonable for him to be wary. He had gotten away from that wretched man. He wouldn’t want to be reeled back in by the devil’s daughter.
“I ran away. Look, I don’t have much time. I need to ask you something. Alessandro sent someone after me, not one of his own. A man, brown hair, blue eyes, tall, broad chest. He found me easily. Do you know who he would call?”
“I’m not sure if this is your guy but if I could guess, I would say it is. Alessandro has hired him before, so he most likely called him in again. His name is John Keller. He’s known as the human hound because of his tracking skills. He’s a bounty hunter, Marcella. Finding people is all that he does. You need to be careful.”
“Tell me about him. Tell me something I can use.”
“I’m sorry, Marcella. I don’t know much about him,” he answered sympathetically. Concern was etched in the man’s voice.
“What was the job he was doing before for my father?” She questioned, pressing for something. Sure, a name was useful, but she needed something else, something important. Perhaps to understand the man better.
“It was kept rather low profile, but it’s what started his career. Whatever it was, Alessandro respects the man, and we both know what that means.” It was something big. Something important. Perhaps that meant she was important; this deal he had made was significant. Alessandro had sent the human hound after her. “I gotta go, Marcella. If you’re in trouble, you can call me, okay? Be careful.” And the line went dead.
She tossed the phone into the trash can some kids were burning this late at night and resumed heading towards her mode of transport.
Distance was key. If there was distance between Mari and her father, it would give her time if she were caught. She knew that. She would run and the human hound would try to sniff her out again.
It was a curious name. The human hound. Who would name him that? It was rather stupid, in her opinion. She wondered if he had named himself. She liked to think he was smarter than that, so to keep her pride intact for the fact that he had caught her so easily. She had flustered him with the kiss, but it was a one-time move, an impulsive, dangerous and ultimately desperate move. He would have been prepared for a knee to the groin or the bite to his arm, but not a kiss. Now, the human hound knew that move. So, she had to stay unpredictable to through him off.