“Hey, want to go on a drive?” He smiled, but something was wrong with his expression.
Isabel had never seen Mark mad, but he seemed pretty close to it now.
“Elia.” She stammered, nervously.
“I texted Sue. She is perfectly fine with me borrowing you for a little while.” Mark replied calmly.
Isabel glanced back at the restaurant, biting her lip. Mark could tell he was making her uncomfortable but he had to talk to her.
“Please, Izzy.” He asked, forcing himself to erase any trace of anger in his voice or on his face.
He knew he had no right to be upset with her, and he understood why she had done it. However, he couldn’t help feeling a little hurt by the lack of trust.
To his relief she reluctantly circled the car and slid into the passenger seat.
As she slid into the seat Isabel silently prayed he didn’t drive too far away for her to walk back. She hated leaving Elia, but was surprised at how easy it was to believe they would both be safe.
To Isabel's horror, Mark drove outside of city limits and well outside of her walking ability. He finally stopped next to a large body of water.
They sat in silence for a long second while Mark tried to make sense of what he had learned today. When he finally looked over at Isabel he noticed a tear running down her cheek. Instinctively he reached out to brush it away. Only when she flinched away, was he able to see how badly his spur of the moment drive had frightened her.
“I’m fine.” Isabel managed to say as she regained her composure. “You are mad at me.”
“Not mad. Confused and admittedly a little hurt.” He admitted reluctantly.
Mark chuckled at the look of complete shock and confusion that crossed Isabel's face. She looked as if she honestly believed it impossible that she could hurt him. His laugh turned bitter as he realized she had more of a hold on him then he wanted to admit.
“What did I do?” Isabel couldn’t help but notice the difference in that simple question. She had screamed it so many times as Andrey beat her, but now it sounded concerned instead of a desperate plea.
Mark turned to face her, deciding to give her a chance to be honest, “What’s your name?”
Isabel stiffened. Someone seemed to have turned a wave machine on high and she suddenly felt dizzy.
“Carrie, breath.” Mark said, gently shaking her shoulder in an attempt to snap her out of it.
In an instant Isabel recognized her birth name and knew she was in real trouble.
“What did you do? How did you find that out?!” She snapped fighting the urge to jump out of the car and run back to Elia.
Either way she knew she had to leave, she couldn’t stay here any longer.
“Why did you do this?” She pleaded. “I’m not ready to leave, Elia is not ready to leave again.”
“Woah, hey, nobody said anything about leaving. You are just as safe as you were before.” Mark responded frantically.
“No!” Isabel yelled to his surprise, “He’ll be notified you searched my name! Unless you called him directly, I know you all work for him. I never should have trusted you. He’s going to kill us. Don’t you care about that at all?”
Isabel had never yelled at a man before, and as she calmed down the fear returned. Had she pushed it too far? Did it even matter anymore? If she was right it would be better to die now then wait for Andrey. Susan would protect Elia, and she wanted desperately to believe Mark would too.
“Of course I care.” Mark replied after Isabel had stopped yelling. “I don’t work for him. As powerful as the Segretos are, most of their power is local. You got out of their territory, no one here works for them.”
Mark's sudden knowledge of her situation surprised her tremendously. She was too shocked to be afraid.
“How?” She muttered.
Mark held up a train ticket that must have fallen out of her bag at some point.
“Once I found out where you came from it was pretty simple to figure out what happened. Then I saw a picture of you and Elia on a missing persons site. Your name gave me what I needed to figure out which mafia you had been a part of.” He shrugged, not wanting to believe what he said.
“I wasn’t.” Isabel started. “I went to school with Andrey Segreto. He was cute and charming and I had no clue about his family. We started dating, I thought he loved me. I was stupid and young. Then when I got pregnant my parents kicked me out and I moved in with him.”
Mark nodded trying to hide his relief and anger. He was furious that she had been dragged into that world, but relieved that she hadn’t participated in illegal activity, that would complicate things.
“Please don’t take her away from me.” Isabel's voice was low and shaky, “I know I made mistakes and seeing them do things without stopping them makes me an accomplice, but I did everything to keep Elia safe.”
“You are not an accomplice, you are a survivor. And I would never take Elia from you.” Mark said comfortingly.
As tears swam in Isabel's eyes Mark laid a hand on her shoulder. “I’ll never let him near you again Izzy.”
“It’s Carrie.” She shuddered at the name, and the weight of the memories attached to it.
“You’ll always be Izzy to me.” Mark said so quietly she wasn’t sure if she was meant to hear it. “My team is aware but won’t tell anyone. My partner and I will keep close watch at the restaurant and whatever school you decide to put Elia in. I swear to you Isabel, you are safe here.”
“How can I know that though? If your team knows one of them could tell him.” She explained, but was too emotionally drained to express her concerns.
“Trust me, they won’t.” Mark said calmly.
‘Trust in me.’ The other voice said in the back of her head.