*Warning Graphic Content*
Inessa whimpered, cowered in a corner, and tried to protect her head from the blows raining down on her.
“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.
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.
Gennady returned to kneel beside Inessa to hold her hand and whisper apologies for not having protected her. Not soon enough for his impatience, paramedics arrived. He welcomed them into the house and endured their questioning as they did what they needed to do to transport Inessa to a hospital.
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