M A R C E L L A
“Meet my beautiful fiancé.” Dante’s voice echoed through the hall. Two men. She feared what could come next. Dante letting her meet someone most likely meant something bad was going to happen, or she was going to meet someone evil.
And when they walked in, she supposed she was proved right. And a shock of fear coursed through her.
“Marcella, this is Manuel Estrada. Manuel, this is my fiancé, Marcella De Luca,” Dante announced. She averted her eyes first, so that Dante wouldn’t suspect anything between them. She didn’t know how her relationship with Manuel truly was. It wasn’t her that beat him up and all his men. It wasn’t her that pissed him off. He was actually attracted to her before. Perhaps he could still help her.
She had to bear in mind that Manuel had murdered Giuseppe. Perhaps he did it with good intentions, but she loved that man like a father. And he deserved much more than that. If she could use Manuel to get her out of this, she had to try.
“Marcella.” Manuel lifted her hand and pressed it against his lips in a greeting. But when his eyes met hers again, she sent a pleading message. And she knew he understood.
He wouldn’t play savior again for her. He tried once before, and she wasn’t very appreciative of his efforts back then. He wouldn’t do her any favors unless she could have a real conversation with him, without any interruptions or others in the room. But how was she going to get him alone?
“You’re marrying a De Luca? Impressive,” Manuel said with an amused smile. “She certainly is quite the princessa.” He turned back to Dante and chuckled. “Quite the catch.”
“And mine,” Dante stated, warningly which Manuel respected and nodded to. “Manuel is a friend and ally. He’s staying in New York just for our wedding. The engagement party will be tonight. I’ll set out something for you to wear in your room,” he told Mari before walking the man out.
Manuel would be at this party. This was her chance to get him alone.
That night, once she exited the shower, she found a tight blue lace dress. It was tasteful, which caused a sigh of relief to escape her. She didn’t need the extra attention on her tonight, other the fact that she was technically one of the hosts.
She met Dante at the bottom of the staircase in his usual slick suit, all black to reflect his blackened heart. He roughly hooked his arm around hers, locking it tightly so that she couldn’t escape. As if she could even make it to the door.
There were plenty of guards as usual. Beefy looking guys stood like statues, unwavering in their task to protect the boss and his fiancé. She was so glad she was yet to be married. The fact that she was still unmarried to Dante kept the guards somewhat looking out for her whilst Dante would do nothing until they were married. But she needed to escape before the end of the week.
Dante showed Mari off on his arm for the first part of the night, introducing her to all the great criminals he was friends with across the country, some across the seas. They all seemed to merge into each other after a while, despite how ruthless each was. She supposed it was like little doses of poison. Every so often, you take a small dose of poison and you eventually become immune. At the moment, she was immune to all the evil in the room, just knowing that there was so much it should have been intoxicating.
At some point, Dante left her to sit at a table, sending a guard to watch over her but he stood a fair distance back. She watched Dante swan over to a group of men, all holding the same sense of authority.
“Seat taken?” a familiar voice asked. Mari flicked her attention towards Manuel as the man settled into the seat beside her. She glanced to the guard who appeared to be observing but didn’t seem to act on seeing them interact. “Marcella now, is it?”
“Unfortunately, it is. But if you can find someone else to play her, I would appreciate that,” she snarked, making him chuckle.
“It’s nice to see he hasn’t actually broken that spirit I liked. I was afraid you had transformed into some submissive little girl, with you so quiet when we met again,” he explained. “A De Luca. It makes sense. You were running before. And Frederico was helping you get away from this lot.”
“And you killed him.” She couldn’t resist making the comment. She just blurted it out. What was she doing? She needed the man on her side. He was her only shot at getting her out of here.
“A lot of fire for a small thing. I liked that.”
“Well, Ella, I just found out that I don’t know you at all. I’m normally quite good at telling when people are lying to me, at reading situations too. When that bounty hunter came for you, well, let’s just say I had no idea someone would be hunting you. I see why now. Imagine the bounty I could have claimed on your head when I had you.”
“And you would have claimed it?” she asked, wanting to know the honest answer.
“No,” he replied curtly. He stood up to leave but she stood up too.
“You have to help me then. I can’t be here. I can’t marry him. I need your help, Manuel. This time, I seriously need it. And I’m asking you.” She was begging quietly. She should have been ashamed, but she was in need of a miracle.
“I did have a fondness for you. I do still. But rescuing a princess, that sounds very chivalrous, and I am anything but a knight in shining armor.”
“Manuel, I’m pregnant.” This halted him. And spiked his intrigue. He turned towards her once again and narrowed his eyes. “And I haven’t slept with Dante. It’s John’s, the bounty hunter.” A scoff escaped his lips, mainly in sheer shock. And then a wave of understanding washed over him. “I’m going to die here. This baby is going to die here. Please, I need your help.”
“Okay. Fine. I’ll help you, princessa. I want a favor in return, of course.”
“Of course,” she agreed. He strolled away casually, and she settled back down into her seat.
She didn’t want to raise a child in a world like this. Even if she made it out of this, she would be alone. There was no one to help her anymore. And she no longer had John by her side. He didn’t even know she was pregnant. He didn’t even know he would be a father.
She was terrified of the possible future she could have on the outside, but she was even more terrified of her future if she didn’t escape here. She would most certainly die. Her baby would die. And she would have no future at all.
She had enough of all the drama. There was one point where she thought the normal life wasn’t for her, but then she treasured the peace she had with John. They lived together in a cute little apartment and they had jobs and they went on dates. It was beautiful. And it was now bittersweet. The love of her life was gone.
“Dance with me.” Dante didn’t ask. He commanded. As his fiancé, it was her duty to dance with him and act the obedient future wife. That would happen over her dead body. She would never call that man her husband.
She allowed herself to be led by Dante into the middle of the room where everyone was watching them. And they slow-danced together. She didn’t like the feel of his arms around her. They felt stiff, like they itched to slam her onto the floor and do something rough, whatever that might be.
“What were you talking to Manuel about? You were quite the chatterbox with him,” Dante hissed into her ear.
“He came up to me. You said he was a friend. I was being polite,” she stated confidently, holding her own against the monster whose arms were wrapped around her.
“I sense you’re not telling the truth, bambina.”
“Then you sense wrong,” she challenged. He let out a stunted laugh and drew back, looking into her eyes.
“Then maybe I sense wrong,” he replied, confusing her. But she didn’t let that show on her face. She couldn’t tell what he was thinking. She couldn’t let him suspect anything, whatsoever. If he got the slightest whiff of something he didn’t like, he would be on her up until the wedding, more than he already was, and too much for her to make an escape. “You be careful how you talk to me, gattina. Once we’re married, I won’t be so lenient with you.”