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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2226358-Tough-Love
Rated: 18+ · Outline · Relationship · #2226358
Not sure what this is a start to...
Rage flooded through him and it took him a few minutes to realize she had gone deathly still. A chill slithered down his spine and he roughly grabbed her off the floor and dumped her on the rumpled bed. She let out a soft moan, but he heard it and that was all the confirmation John Starkes needed to assure himself the bitch was still breathing but now, hopefully, she knew the score.

He upended her purse on the foot of the bed and grabbed the leather wallet. In a few seconds, he'd located the bank card and slid it in his back pocket as he slammed out of the room and out of the house. He had places to go, people to see. Deals to make and money to burn.


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Ruby Rose Starkes spent the week laid up in the bed carefully tending her bruised and beaten body. Cracked ribs for sure and a concussion. Her loving husband had taken her bank card and left her to fend for herself for the past six days. Day two she stumbled to the kitchen and drank water despite her busted, blood crusted lips. It was all she could get down. She hadn't been able to make it back to the bedroom, so she had collapsed in the reclining chair her husband liked sprawling in to watch his sports. Day four she was a bit stronger and was able to warm up some soup and nibble a cracker with her water. At that point, she had decided her best course of action.

John Starkes stumbled down the hall and plopped his drunk wasted self in his easy chair and flipped on the football game. The house had been dark, and he assumed she was either asleep or gone. He didn't much care one way or the other. He'd hit a winning streak at the track and had taken his winnings and celebrated in grand style. Deep down, a very small part of him acknowledged he should have paid off a few of his gambling debts, but shit. He deserved a bit of fun and those he owed money too could wait a few more days until he was able to get more cash. He still had Ruby's bank card and decided he'd push his luck and try to take another withdraw from one of the ATM's before the bank got suspicious. As soon as he saw her, he fully intended to ensure she added his name to her bank account, making it a joint account. Then, he could take as much as he wanted, when he wanted. John Starkes didn't intend to beg or ask anyone, especially not a dumb bitch for anything. The comfortable chair, warm room, and low drown of the tv sportscaster lulled him into alcohol and drug-induced sleep.


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The loud clatter of dishes shattered his sleep and pain gripped his foggy head. His tongue was stuck plastered to the top of his dried out mouth.

"Shut that damn noise up!" He yelled as he gripped his head and adjusted the recliner into a sitting position. The room spun for a moment and his stomach heaved.

"Good morning dear," Ruby strode into the room with a cup of steaming hot coffee and handed it to her husband. "Nice and strong dear, just the way you like it." He grunted at her and took the mug. He blew on it a few times then cautiously sipped the scalding brew. It was strong alright. Without another word, Ruby turned and returned to wherever it was she went, and John was left sipping his coffee and trying to stop the pounding in his head. He settled himself back into the chair and relaxed.

Silently, Ruby returned to the living room to see John had made himself comfortable and was dozing again. She clenched her teeth in firm resolve and tightened her grip on his Louisville slugger in her hand.

His only indication she had returned to the room was when the end of the bat connected solidly with his nose, breaking it with the first swing. Blinding pain and shock rendered him glued to the spot as he tried to understand what was going on. Before coherent thoughts managed to process in his brain, the bat came down again, this time on his hand and breaking four of the five fingers. An animalistic howl escaped his mouth as he instinctively held his throbbing hand to his chest. Tears streamed down his face making his vision blurry. Words escaped him, all that was falling from his lips were incoherent mutterings and sobbing. He swung his good arm out trying to hit his attacker.

Quick as lightning, the bat came crashing down on his other hand, bones broke and fingers got mangled. White-hot pain shot through his arms and he desperately tried to figure out what was going on. Had the Ortega goons found him and taking out his late fees from his hide? Were they sent to kill him?

The unmistakable click of a gun being cocked sent cold chills through his whole body as he tensed. John's eyes were clamped shut, he refused to look death in the face. But a strong hand grabbed him by the hair and roughly jerked his head back forcing him to open his eyes. He was shocked and confused to see the cold, hard look of his wife staring into his face. She held the colt to his head when his gaze shifted away from her, she tightened her grip on his hair and tapped the tip of the gun on his broken nose, sending pain through his whole face.

"Now, you listen to me your cocksucking coward," Her voice was cold and hard as steel and something about the tone made John try to shrink away from her. "If you ever, and I do mean ever, lay a hand on me again, or treat me with disrespect in any way I'll wipe you so far off the planet, Satan himself won't be able to find you," She relaxed her grip on his hair but he didn't so much as twitch a muscle. She stepped back from him and lowered the firearm, tucking it securely in the waistband of her denim skirt. He watched through blurry eyes as she walked to the doorway.

He didn't move until he was sure he heard the engine of her vintage Mustang turn over and the tires on the gravel told him she had definitely left the house. Oh my god. He was so shaken and the pain was so overwhelming he didn't even know what to do. He just lay there, helpless until he drifted into blackness.


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She left her husband to his fate and to fend for himself for three days before returning to the house. She had been extremely busy the past few days but, felt hopeful and good about the progress she had made and the changes she had implemented. Her husband was in for a few more surprises, but it was for his own good. In the long run, what was good for him would be good for her.

Ruby found her husband in a restless, uncomfortable sleep on the bed he had not even bothered to turn down. She silently left the room and made her way to the living room. Dried blood still splattered the chair and carpeting. His overturned coffee mug still on the floor where it had fallen. She flipped on the tv and turned it to the music channel and 80's rock blasted out of the speakers while she got down to the cleanup business at hand. In the kitchen, she saw evidence he had tried to find food and drink, but whether he was successful or not, she didn't know. Manuel would be here within the hour and she needed to shower and get herself presentable.

John woke to the sound of the shower running and for a moment of confusion tried to remember if he had been the one to leave it running. He really couldn't remember. The sound of rock music from the other room penetrated the fog in his brain and he was starting to realize he was no longer alone when Ruby came out of the bathroom with a signature red towel wrapped around her body and another towel wrapped around her hair turban style.

"Hello Dear," she greeted him in her cheerful, sunny way. "Manuel will be here shortly. He's got extensive medical training and he will be tending to your fingers. Once he gets them set they will feel better. He's bringing some really good pain pills as well." As she spoke, she buffed herself dry, applied gardenia scented lotion, and pulled on jeans and a soft, yellow tank top and pulled a thin floral printed button-down blouse over the tank. She left it unbuttoned and untucked. Flipflops showed off ruby red toenails.

He didn't speak. Just followed her with his eyes, watching to see if she picked up a weapon or looked ready to attack. She appeared relaxed and in a good enough mood. He chewed over what she had told him about the pain meds and some medic dude coming to set his fingers. The very thought of anyone even thinking of touching his hands had him groaning and wanting to sink deeper into the bed. She was still talking and he had to focus to pay attention to what she was saying.

"I doubt you've had much in way of food the last few days. You left me to suffer for six days, it's only been three for you, but now you know how it feels," She applied her make up while she talked to him. "While Manuel takes care of you, I'll make sure to make you a nice dinner to help you feel better. You need to start regaining your strength."

A sarcastic comment formed but then her threat repeated it'self in his mind and he simply mumbled under his breath. The chimes of the doorbell announced whoever she was waiting for had arrived. She threw him a smile as she fluttered out of the room and down the hall. In short order, she returned with a stocky, olive-skinned man in tow. He had close, military cropped black hair and was a good three inches shorter than his own six-foot height.

"Mrs. Starkes tells me your in a good deal of pain my friend," He said in a way of greeting. "Let's just take a look at what we have here and see what I can do to get you fixed up." The man gave his hands a look over but limited his touching. He shone a light into his eyes and checked his temperature and blood pressure. The pressure of the cuff nearly sent John off the bed with pain.

Manuel methodically wiped and replaced his tools back in the red duffle bag. Wordlessly he took out a syringe and John watched as he filled it with something from a glass vile he'd produced from his bag. He rubbed John's forearm with an alcohol prep pad and jabbed the needle in with professional swiftness. Whatever he injected stung like hell as it entered but quickly faded and John felt it course through his body and he knew he'd just been given the "good" stuff. Manuel's dark eyes watched him a moment as the medication took effect then set to work.


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He slept a solid fourteen hours once the pain medication had started coming on a regular basis. He was physically and mentally exhausted and still had a hard time grasping just what had happened. His soft-spoken, mousy wife had beat the living crap out of him and left him to suffer three days. In the past, the women he had manipulated and run roughshod over had crumpled like a tissue he discarded once he'd bled them dry of everything they could possibly give him. He had the distinct feeling this one had somehow tricked him.

Slowly, he became aware of the smell of bacon and coffee and his stomach rumbled loudly. He forced his gritty eyes open and saw his wife sitting in a brocade covered wingback chair she had pulled up alongside the bed. She was sipping from a fragile-looking bone china coffee cup trimmed in ivy and pink roses. She stared back at him in silence a few moments then smiled. She reached over and picked up his coffee mug to hand it to him, but he couldn't hold it. He realized both hands were wrapped in bandages so that both hands looked as if he had boxing gloves on. He tensed as she leaned closer and held the hot, but not a scalding cup to his parched lips. Like an obedient child, he sipped. Oh, that was good!

Manuel entered, carrying a tray and set it on the night table. "Thanks, Manny, I'll take care of him," Ruby said and the man simply nodded and left the room. John watched as his wife scooted from the chair to the edge of the bed. "I bet your starving." He watched as she stabbed a small chunk of what looked like a potato with the fork. He gritted his teeth in frustration at having to be fed like a damn baby. Bite after bite his wife fed him eggs, waffle, bacon, and fried potatoes and helped him sip not one but two mugs of strong coffee. It was slow going, as he had to chew carefully due to the swelling in his face.

The medication and the full belly were coaxing him back into their cozy embrace and he was back asleep before she had collected the trey and whisked it to the kitchen.


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"Well, I am running things now, and I say you're a liar. You're lazy and do crappy work. We don't need your kind working for us" Ruby ignored the sputtering, red-faced foreman slouching in the chair on the opposite side of her desk. "I gave you twenty-four hours to correct the inconsistencies in your last report and you not only failed to do so, you mouthed off and insisted it was I who was wrong." She picked up the phone and jabbed the extension of her secretary.

"Miranda, please cut a severance check for Bruce Kirkland and bring it to me when it's ready." She kept her gaze on the furious man before her.

"You're going to pay for this," He spat with venom. "Just you wait!"

"Mr. Kirkland, I recommend you watch your threats," Ruby warned, in a calm, smooth but hard voice.

"My brother will get even with you and your rat husband," He spat. "You have no idea the trouble you've just created for both of you."
He scowled slightly as the woman across the desk from him smiled slightly. Most women cowed down and showed him respect. This one needed taking down a peg or two and he would relish doing just that. Tap on the door and a thin, tall blonde walked in looking way to cheerful. She silently handed Ruby a long white envelope and as she was leaving, an even taller, muscle-bound man in an Italian business suit glided in. He silently took the seat right next to Bruce and Ruby made the introduction.

"Bruce, this is Mr. Nickolson. head of our legal department." She pushed the envelope with his severance pay across the polished surface of her desk towards him. "He has some parting advice and will escort you from the building." The suit had stood even before she had finished speaking and glared down at him like he was nothing more than a pile of poo.

"Attempt to contact either Mr or Mrs. Starkes or show yourself on their private property or on any of the worksite properties, and you will dearly regret it. It is in your best interest to forget you ever heard of Stark Construction or it's owners." He shifted in such a way that his blazer opened to reveal the piece neatly secured at his side. It was an effective silent threat. Bruce Kirkland was fuming as he was led out the front double glass doors and as he climbed into the cab of his battered S10, he swore he would get even with every last one of them. Well, maybe not him but his brother for sure. His brother owed it to him and his brother was no one anyone with a brain would ever dare mess with. But, that woman. He was going to make damn sure he was the one who made her pay. That woman who thought she was better than anyone else. Yes, she would pay dearly.

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