Nicole shuddered helplessly at his hands on her. Hands that had cradled her tenderly these past weeks. Hands that had cared for her, now everywhere, making her skin crawl. This violent drunk in front of her was not the man she loved. In horror, she concluded that this was someone else. Some monster that just happened to wear her husband's face.
It was the cruel smile he wore on his stolen lips that chilled her to the bone. She tried to pull away, but was rewarded with a savage backhand that sent her head backwards into the tiled wall with a sickening crack. She collapsed onto the cold floor, stunned and tasting blood. Meanwhile, her husband swayed, fumbling with his belt buckle and cursing when he discovered that drink made the task impossible. Fear lent Nicole inspiration as she scrambled to her feet, making it to the phone. Her throat was closed with terrified tears and she fumbled with the phone. Her fingers stumbled frantically over the keys.
"Come on!" she muttered desperately.
"Oh no you don't bitch." Matt's snarl proceeded his hand out of nowhere only momentarily. His iron fist slammed into the side of her face from out of nowhere. Crying out in pain, Nicole was sent sprawling. Something in her arm snapped and she screamed out in pain. The phone tumbled out of her hands, landing by her husband's feet. Scooping it up, Matt loomed over her , nothing but fury etched into his features.
"Just who the fuck do you think you are?!" he roared, slamming the handset down on her head, where it splintered.
Nicole cried out again, already feeling blood beginning to leave warm trickles down her head. Throwing aside the mess of plastic in disgust, Matt set about kicking her, punctuating each blow with another insult. The first winded her, sending her to curl into a foetal position. Her arms muffled her cries as the blows seemed to fall endlessly. There was an audiable crack as a rib broke. The next blow brought a bloodcurdling scream. of agony from Nicole. She chocked, bringing up blood. Matt suddenly froze as she slumped motionless.
It was then the sounds of Stephen breaking the door down could be heard. Matt didn't react when he finally burst in, remaining as he was.
Stephen checked her vitals, calling her name. He then rounded on the other man.
"She's dying you sonofabitch! Don't just fucking stand there-she needs a hospital!"
Matt's eyes remained dead and glassy as he picked up his wife with infinate care, following Stephen out of the flat. He cradled her while Stephen stole frequent glances at his best friend. He brushed the hair from her face with unfeigned care and tenderness. The expression on his face cut through Stephen like poison.
"Hold on sweetheart. Don't leave me alone, please."
The words were an agonised whisper not meant for any audience other than Nicole. Though Stephen pushed his car a little harder. Matt was not the only person who needed the dying girl in his arms.
They took her from Matt's arms with practiced speed, leaving him looking lost. The flood of questions was almost instant.
"She fell." Stephen said shortly. After that, both men were silent. Stephen cursed inwardly at covering what had happened.
The nurses all gave him 'bullshit' stares but could get nothing more from the resolute silence.
Eventually, they allowed her to have visitors.
"She's been asking for you." Their eyes were on both men as they went through the anonymous corridors towards a girl that was more precious than either wanted to admit.