Ada leaned into the locked bathroom door as if her slight body weight would reinforce the two inches of solid wood that stood between her and Shane. He pounded on the door relentlessly thumping the thick door like a jackhammer on the sidewalk down below their hotel room.
“Open the fucking door, Ada!” he screamed after he had beaten on the door for what seemed like minutes. He held his fist in the other hand to ease the pain the wood had caused.
“Not until you calm down!” she yelled through tears and tremors that rocked her rigid frame. She wiped the tears from her reddened face with the back of her free hand and fingered the screen of her cell phone with the other frantically searching for Jenny’s number.
In that instant, she regretted cutting Jenny out of her life. She scrolled through the history on her phone and had scrolled two months back before she found Jenny’s number. It was a Sunday back in May the last time she had talked to Jenny. Actually, Jenny had called her wondering why she hadn’t called or dropped by to see her. Ada had made an excuse about being busy at work and traveling with Shane to dismiss her concerns. She had promised to get back in touch with Jenny once her life settled down a bit, but she hadn’t called her again. She couldn’t.
She had abided by Shane’s wishes if only to keep the peace between them. She had to give their relationship a chance. She was sure Jenny would understand, just as she would had their roles been reversed, but now, she needed Jenny more than ever.
“Ada, if you don’t open that door, I’m going to kick the fucking thing in and when I get in there, you’ll regret it! I fucking promise you that! Now, open the goddamn door!”
Ada’s trembling thumb hovered over Jenny’s number for the briefest of moments before she pressed it so hard she thought her phone’s screen would cave. She put the phone to her ear and tried to hold it steady so that she could hear, but the beating on the door and her shaky hand made it difficult. The phone rang once and twice. Ada’s spirit collapsed when it rang a third and fourth time before Jenny’s voicemail came on.
She cried a little harder when she heard Jenny’s voice. She should have listened to her best friend. She should have left Shane when she had the chance. Why did she let this crazy man stay in her life?
She clicked the screen to end the call and the phone slipped from her hand hitting the tile floor with a sickening crack that reverberated at her feet. She could barely see the silvery rectangle through the tears that poured from her eyes, but as she bent down to retrieve it, her worst fears were confirmed. The screen had fractured in a hundred places. She poked it to see if it responded to touch, but it just blinked at her, unresponsive.
Ada froze in that short moment before Shane burst through the door as if she knew what was going to happen and was trying to steel herself for it. She stood up and faced the door just as it cracked open from the force of a violent kick revealing an enraged madman who intended to do her harm. He closed the gap between them at a frightening pace and clamped her shoulders tightly in his big hands. His grip sent shockwaves of pain through her arms. Tears muddled her vision, but her body flagged as if slackening her muscles would help her absorb the blows.
“I told you to open the goddamn door! You will do as I tell you! Do you understand?” Spittle flew from his mouth. His eyes were dark and ominous as his lips flared around his scissor-like teeth. He bore no resemblance to the handsome man she had fallen for that night they first met. First appearances are rarely true deep-down and that irony flailed her at that very moment.
Ada wavered. Shane’s grip was the only thing that kept her upright. She was too stunned to respond, but she did wonder how her little comment had gotten so out of control.
Shane took her lack of response to be another act of defiance. He whipsawed his right arm back and brought it forward with a fierce speed and force that knocked Ada off her feet and into the toilet behind her. Her head clunked on the shiny porcelain and bright red blood splattered on its white surface. Her head lingered on the toilet for just a moment before her body fell haplessly to the floor next to it.
Shane huffed in anger as he stared at her motionless on the floor. He didn’t seem the least concerned for her, but he shook his hand at it ached from the impact with her jaw.
“Stupid bitch!” He shook his hand once or twice to ward off the pain and then walked out of the bathroom. He flung himself on the bed and resumed watching TV.
He waited for her to get up, but she showed no sign of movement. “Get up! You’re fine! Stop being a baby!” He muted the TV after a moment and peered into the bathroom from the bed. “Ada!”
The damage to the bathroom door distracted him, and he wondered how he’d explain it to the hotel. He’d have to pay extra to keep it quiet, and that irritated him more. He’d lost his temper more than once in expensive hotels and it had always cost him dearly.
After a moment of further silence, his chest no longer heaved and his heart didn’t feel like it was trying to escape from his rib cage. More minutes passed and his anger evaporated. The realization of what he’d done hit him, not in a sense of concern but of regret for letting Ada rile him as she had done. The woman just wouldn’t learn.
Without a word, he stomped into the bathroom to check on her. “Ada,” he said more kindly. Still no response. He put his finger on her neck and then touched her back with his palm. She had a pulse and was breathing. Even though he was still irritated, he felt relieved. He rolled her over on her back and her head thumped on the floor. He flinched. A small pool of blood had formed on the floor and her jaw seemed displaced. He could see the bruise forming, and her eyes had heavy bags under them. This fight wasn’t going to be easy to disguise like the others they’d had. These marks were obvious to even the most oblivious observers.
Shane tried to bring Ada to, but she didn’t respond. Finally, he bent down and picked her up and carried her to their bed. He propped her up on some pillows and went back to the bathroom to get a warm, wet towel to address the bleeding. As he stepped onto the tile floor, he kicked something with his foot, and it spun across the floor coming to a stop at the base of the sink. He bent down to retrieve the slippery object and realized it was Ada’s phone. He flipped it over and glanced at the cracked screen. When he saw Jenny’s number beneath the spider web of glass, he became angry again and slammed the phone into the wastebasket near the sink. The glass shattered and the aluminum ricocheted in the bin mocking his anger.
He grabbed a wash cloth from the edge of the sink and crumpled it in his fist as he held it under the warming water. He’d talk to her about it later, but now, he had to address her injury. She remained unconscious when he returned to her side. He shook his head and sat down next to her with the wash cloth in hand. He roughly washed the gash on her forehead and mumbled to himself with an anger that still seethed beneath his new-found concern. The celebration of a year since they had met had not gone well.