August Book Of The Month
“Yebanaya suka!” Ruslan shouted as he switched from using his fists to kicking her with his booted feet. He preferred pointy-toed cowboy boots.
Inessa moaned as she felt another rib give way, the crack inaudible beneath the thud of his boot against her side and his bellowed curses.
“Cheat on me, will you? You dare to sleep with another man?” he yelled in Russian. “Fucking bitch! No man will want to touch you after I’m through with you!”
She groaned again, her voice hoarse and no singular pain distinguishable from another among the contusions and broken bones resulting from yet another perceived infraction of Ruslan’s many rules. She should have known better than to smile when thanking the nice young man for helping to carry and then load the groceries into the car. But it had been so nice to have someone do something for her just that once, especially since she hadn’t quite healed from the last beating.
Inessa felt the blackness of oblivion cloud her mind. She welcomed it and hoped it would stay.
“It’s your damned fault that I can’t pay my debts!” Ruslan screamed at her, the words landing on the edge of her fading consciousness.
With an incongruous sound, the doorbell rang. Ruslan set his booted foot back on the floor and muttered, “Stay put.”
He turned and walked through the house to answer the door. Chest heaving, body sweating, and red-faced with the exertion of pummeling his wife, he flung open the door and gaped. Whipcord lean and sharp-featured, Gennady faced him. The man’s eagle-eyed gaze flickered over him, missing nothing.
“What are you doing in Seattle, Gennady?” Ruslan demanded as he positioned his body to block the man’s entry.
“Maksim and Olivia haven’t heard from Inessa lately and they sent me to check up on her.” Gennady caught sight of the swollen and abraded knuckles on the other man’s hands, the dark, shiny liquid splattered on his black, alligator hide boots.
“She’s fine,” Ruslan answered curtly. “Now go.”
Gennady raised an eyebrow and managed to look down his nose at the bigger man. “I don’t think so. Step aside, Ruslan.”
“What? You don’t trust my word?”
Gennady’s expression turned from skepticism to open contempt. “You’re a worthless shit, Ruslan. You always have been. So, no, I don’t trust your word. Now, step aside.”
Ruslan puffed himself in an attempt to intimidate his father’s man-of-all-work. Faster than his eye could follow, Gennady pulled out a knife and dug the tip of it into the soft bulge of his belly.
“Step aside, Ruslan,” Gennady ordered. “I won’t ask again.”
Ruslan raised his hands, palms open and outward, and stepped back. He pointed in the opposite direction of the kitchen and said, “Inessa’s out.”
“I’ll just check around,” Gennady said as he stepped through the doorway and closed the door behind him with a quiet click. In his peripheral vision, he saw Ruslan gather his courage and coil his body. “Don’t try anything stupid.”
“You invade my house, you pipsqueak,” Ruslan blustered.
“Maksim’s house,” Gennady corrected as he walked in the direction of the bedrooms. “He paid for it and he holds the deed.”
“But I live here.”
Gennady pushed open a door and peered inside. Gleaming and, he suspected, disused exercise equipment filled the room. He walked to the next room and looked into another spotless room devoid of personality, with just a few knickknacks on the shelves. A guest bedroom, he supposed. He proceeded to the third bedroom and wrinkled his nose at the lingering smell of Ruslan emanating from it. Although the room appeared clean, a miasma of despair hung in the air.
“See? The bitch is gone,” Ruslan snapped. “Now get out.”
Losing his patience with the boor, Gennady’s other hand snapped out and struck Ruslan in the throat. With a gasp and a wheeze, the big man dropped to his knees and clutched his throat. Gennady set the razor edge of his knife to Ruslan’s sweaty neck and said, “Shut up.”
Ruslan nodded as the hot smell of urine filled the air. Gennady nearly smiled at the rapidly spreading stain on the bully’s jeans. Straightening, he walked with purpose toward the other side of the house and peered into the kitchen. Dark, wet spatters caught his notice. Muttering an oath, he rushed into the room and gurgled with horror at the bloody bit of hamburger, hair, and fabric that lay curled up and insensible on the tile floor. He reached out to touch the woman. The skin was still warm. He found her arm and followed its line to her wrist, which was obviously broken. Swallowing a bellow of rage and horror, he extended two fingers and pressed them to what he hoped was the pulse point of her neck. Nothing. He slid his fingers around the bloody mess of her until the sensitive fingertips found the right spot. He sighed. Though her heartbeat was rapid and weak, Inessa still lived.
Gennady drew back his hand and pulled his cell phone from his pocket and dialed 911. When assured that an ambulance was on its way, he went back to deal with Ruslan.
Ruslan had fled.
Gennady cursed. He returned to squat beside Inessa and found her other hand. He held her limp hand in his, hoping to impart some small measure of warmth and caring to the young woman he’d always regarded as an innocent little sister to be protected from depraved men like himself and bullies like Ruslan. Suddenly, the sight of a woman’s bruised and broken body nauseated him. Releasing Inessa’s hand, he lurched to the scrupulously clean bathroom and vomited. Gennady vowed to be more gentle with his beloved Suzanne when he returned to Cleveland. She’d given him her trust and he would not abuse it.
Russian Love Series
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
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Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is happy to reciprocate Blog Swaps in 2019.
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