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Fractured Souls: Chapter 5

Asya

I put on the pajamas Pasha bought for me and look at myself in the bathroom mirror. The top is not that bad, maybe a size or two too big. The bottoms are a different story. I had to roll the waist and cuff the legs more than twice to make sure they’d stay on and I wouldn’t trip while walking. I checked the label and saw that it’s size medium. I usually wear extra small.

The rest of the clothes he got lie folded on the long counter next to the sink. All of them are mediums, too. Either Pasha has never shopped for female clothes, or he can’t guess sizes that well. I noticed two empty shelves in the cabinet at the other end of the bathroom, so I put the clothes there. I don’t want to intrude on his space any more than I already have. I still can’t believe he’s let me stay.

When I exit the bathroom, Pasha is stepping out of his closet, wearing dark gray pajama bottoms and a black T-shirt.

“I’ll leave the door open,” he says. “If you need anything, I’ll be in the room across the hall.”

My body goes rigid upon hearing his words. Wrapping my arms around my middle, I nod and head toward the bed.

“Asya? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah.” I climb in bed and turn to face the wall, pulling the blanket all the way up to my chin.

The room falls silent for a moment, but then I hear the sound of bare feet approaching.

“What’s wrong?”

I grip the blanket in my hand. “Can you sleep here again?”

“Here? In this bed?”

“Please.”

He doesn’t say anything. I squeeze my eyes shut, hating myself for asking him. He probably thinks I’m a weakling. As if usurping his life and his space is not enough, I’m asking him to keep sleeping in the same bed with me. I open my mouth to tell him I’ve changed my mind when the bed dips behind me.

I slide my hands under the pillow, hoping it will stop me from turning toward him and snuggling into his chest. This inexplicable pull I feel toward him confuses me, but it also makes me feel disgusted with myself. I’ve been assaulted and used in the most degrading ways, so what I should be feeling toward Pasha and any other man is loathing, fear, and repulsion. Instead, I’m attracted to him. But the entire time I’ve been here, he hasn’t once tried anything, hasn’t touched me in any way that could be considered sexual.

It’s because you’re filthy, the voice in my mind whispers. Spoiled goods no man would ever want to touch. How many dicks have been inside your pussy? Too many to count?

I turn my face into the pillow. I need it to stop!

You know what you are? A slut. A dirty, filthy whore.

Pasha’s thick arm wraps around my waist and pulls me into his body until my back is pressed to his chest.

“Talk to me,” he says into my hair.

A shudder passes through my body because of his closeness, and it’s not a bad shudder.

“Why didn’t you call my brother and get rid of me?” I ask.

“Because I understand the need to deal with your shit yourself. And because I know how it feels to have people get rid of you.” The arm around my waist tightens. “I would never do that to anyone.”

“You’re holed up here with me. Don’t you need to go to work?”

“I had someone fill in for me. But I’ll have to go for a meeting with the pakhan tomorrow. I won’t be long.”

My body stiffens as panic rises in the pit of my stomach. It’s completely unnatural, the way I have become attached to him, but I can’t shake off the feeling of dread that forms from the idea of him not being nearby.

“Okay,” I whisper.

“Will you reconsider talking to the psychiatrist?”

I squeeze my lips together and shake my head. Pasha has been trying to convince me to talk with the mental health doctor since this morning. He said she has experience with cases like mine. I can’t do it. The thought of talking about it with anyone other than Pasha makes me sick.

“All right, mishka. Let’s give it a few more days.”

“Does it mean something? Mishka?”

“A bear cub.”

He calls me a bear cub. What a strange endearment. I turn my head to look at him. “Is it because I like clinging to you?”

“Yeah.” He lifts his hand as if he’s going to touch my face, but pulls back. “Let’s go to sleep.”

I nod and turn back to the wall, pretending I’m trying to sleep. I can’t get over the fact that he said yes when I asked him if I can stay instead of sending me back to my family. It was so outrageous, I was a 100 percent sure he’d refuse. He didn’t. And I still find it hard to believe that he agreed not to tell anyone who I am.

A light touch grazes the back of my head. I’m not sure what it is, but it seems like a kiss.


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