M A R C E L L A
“We need to go, Ella. Move it,” Manuel declared, grabbing Mari’s hand, and leading her towards some exit of this massive house. How did he know this house better than she did? “I have men outside, and men in the house ready to attack anyone who tries to stop us from leaving.”
She followed along, trusting this devilish man. He couldn’t be any worse than Dante. And he was willing to help her. That had to be something. But he still had that favor to cash in. she didn’t know what he would ask for, and she suspected it was something she wouldn’t like. Perhaps her staying with him forever.
What was the better evil?
She went with Manuel.
By the time they got outside, that was when the gunfire began. She saw windows light up, like paparazzi gone wild in each room, flashes of lightning in others. The sound growled into the ground and she could feel it soar into her body. That was the sound of men being shot. That was the sound of men dying.
“Don’t be frightened, hermosa,” Manuel said, drawing her attention back to him. “You’re going to be-”
Before he could finish that sentence, he was stabbed, the tip of the knife peeking through his front.
The blood started to disperse, staining his shirt. His hand clutched to his heart where the wound was. Then he fell to his knees. And she sighted the culprit.
Her eyes widened in shock and she gulped. It was Leo. A man she had met just after John had let her go. A man who kidnapped her and was trying to deliver her to his boss, whoever that was. Looked like he was working for Dante.
“Marcella, it’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you. Just come with me, please. Don’t stab me this time,” he said, extending his hand. She had forgotten about the fact she stabbed him. That would have been humorous to her if they were in any other situation.
She placed her hand in his, deciding she had no other choice. And he seemed… trustworthy. She hated that instinct.
Where he led her to confirmed that her instincts were absolutely, no doubt, most definitely amazing.
Because there stood the love of her life. Bashed up and looking like a wreck. But alive. He was alive.
John was alive.
She wanted to melt to the floor. Her knees felt so weak she thought she could no longer hold herself up. Tears gushed down her face before her brain could even understand what was going on. Her whole body was trembling, shivering like a fucking leaf and she couldn’t control it. She wanted to run into his arms, fall into his embrace, feel his warmth against her once again. But she was frozen. Completely frozen. She didn’t want to believe her eyes to only find out it was all a trick. What about Leo? Wasn’t he working for Dante?
Then she noticed the woman standing beside her beloved. A woman she recognized vaguely. Mari couldn’t quite place her. Was this Leo’s boss? She also spotted Jack, the other man who had kidnapped her that day. They were taking her to this woman? A woman who clearly helped John?
John. John was living and breathing. He was real. And finally, she gained the strength and courage to move.
She hugged him tightly, despite his initial grunt. John embraced her back too. She was certain he had broken ribs and bruises all over his body that she was pressing against. But she needed him so damn much.
“I thought you were dead,” she whispered into his ear, her voice breaking.
“Surprise,” he croaked out, making her release a breathless giggle. She was so… overwhelmed to have him back in her life. She loved him and she needed him more than anything. Especially because she was pregnant. Fuck, he didn’t know.
“Talking about surprises, I’m pregnant,” she told him. He pushed her away slightly to look at her face. “It’s yours, John. Dante and I never…” A grin took over his face and then he dragged Mari’s face down to kiss her lips.
“You’re seriously pregnant? Shit, I’m going to be a dad,” John cursed in disbelief.
“I don’t know how we should feel about it, you know, with the fact that we’ll be on the run again. But a few minutes ago, I thought I was going to do it on my own and our child would never know its father. How are you alive?”
“It’s a long story, princess. It starts with her.” Mari turned to the familiar woman who happened to be staring at her intensely and with wide eyes.
“Who are you?” Mari asked.
“You don’t remember me?” the woman questioned like she expected Mari to know who she was. “I’m your mother, Marcella.”
“W… I-I… I thought you were dead.” She found herself saying that statement more than should have been appropriate. She felt almost numb when finding out people that were dead were really alive now.
“Well, I’m not.”
“You two work for my mother?” Mari asked Jack and Leo, to which they both nodded.
“I didn’t mean for you to get shot. When the bikers came after you and John, that was on my orders. They were supposed to shoot John, so you could get away. But then you took that bullet for him,” she explained. “I’ve been trying to help you, Marcella.”
“Manuel was helping me,” Mari muttered. How much power did her mother have? Why was she only turning up now? Mari felt as though every previous question answered created hundreds of new ones.
“He was a brute and a murderer. Don’t be upset, sweetheart. I-”
“I don’t understand,” Mari interrupted, edging even closer to John. “I-I… Alessandro killed you. John was there.”
“He thought he killed me. I was shot. But saved by one of your father’s men. Giuseppe Mancini.”
“Why didn’t he tell me that?” She had spent weeks with him, and he hadn’t mentioned that he saved her mother’s life. That would have been something to mention, especially because she was on the run too.
“He kept my secret. I was planning to kill your father. I didn’t want you to have a miserable life. If you hadn’t run away, I would have stepped in. But then we had to search for you at the same time John was.” Her mother stepped forward, reaching out for her daughter. “I can’t believe I’m going to be a grandmother.”
“We have to go,” Jack declared to everyone. Her mother gave her a short smile before hopping in the front of the car. John took Mari’s hand and led her into the back.
The five of them sat in silence whilst Jack drove. Mari was exhausted trying to wrap her head around everything. She wasn’t sure what to feel and it was doing her head in. She curled up against John and allowed sleep to overcome her.
When she awoke, she found herself in bed. She feared last night was all a dream, that she was really back at Dante’s house in the spare room. But then she heard his voice.
“Mari, you okay?” She shot up, her body now upright and her eyes frantically searched for the man the voice belonged to. “Slow down. It’s okay.” He finally came into view and took her into his arms.
“Where are we?”
“In a motel room. The others are staying in other rooms,” John answered. “I know this is a lot. We can just calm it down now, okay?”
“Dante gave a kill order. I heard it. I heard the gunshot. I-”
“The gunshot was Leo. He was one of Alessandro’s men, before he went to your mom’s side. He shot the other guy in the room and helped me. I guess that’s what held Dante back from marrying you so soon.”
“I can’t believe you’re alive,” she breathed out.
She felt as though she was plummeting to Earth. She couldn’t believe what was real anymore. A woman she thought was dead, her mom, was alive. A man she thought was dead, her fiancé, was alive. She didn’t know what to think. She didn’t know how to put all the facts together, but for now, she would just relish being back in her love’s arms.
“Not happy?” he joked with a smirk. She rolled her eyes, jumped and kissed the tall man. “I love you.”
“I love you too. What comes next?”
“I honestly don’t know. Your mom has started working with the feds to take Dante and Alessandro down. In the meantime, we’re going back to California. And we’re going to live our life.”
“Alessandro’s dead,” she muttered, watching as John’s eyes widening at this shocking news. It had only happened a couple of days ago after all.
“I’d heard some rumors, but we didn’t know if it was true. We were too busy finding you. The Caruso’s killed him?” She shook her head as she stared at him. Would he think less of her? He had killed too, but now, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t innocent or sweet. She was a monster. Just like her father.
“I-I killed him,” she hiccupped through a sob that escaped her lips.
At that moment, he grabbed her body gently and cradled her in his arms, soothing her with the rubs on her back. He rocked her like a dance as her weeping muted, the tears drying up when she realized his demeanor hadn’t changed at all.
“I’m a monster.”
“No, you’re not. You’re an angel. All you did was send your father to hell where he belonged,” he stated firmly with a serious expression etched on his face. That relieved her tremendously.
“I’m sorry about Sara.” His face twitched at hearing her name and then he stroked Mari’s face.
“It wasn’t your fault. Don’t apologize. We have to keep on pushing through life.”
“How did you find me? At Dante’s house? How did you know where that was?”
“I’ll always find you.”