KIRA RUSHED TO ROMAN’S SIDE. He lay unconscious on the cold ground. “You’ve killed him,” she yelled and fell to her knees. “I’ll never forgive you.”
Mikhail, unscathed from the duel, gave her a hawkish stare and snarled. “I only wounded the bastard.” He stomped away.
Tears streamed down Kira’s cheeks. “Where’s the doctor?”
“He’s right here.” The Countess lifted her niece from the ground.
The doctor tore open Roman’s blood-soaked shirt while Kira held her breath. “It appears the bullet may have penetrated his left upper lung—just missing the clavicle.”
Kira exhaled, “Will he live?”
“I’ll know more once we get him to the infirmary.” The doctor motioned for Uri, Boris, and Fëdor to help move Roman into the carriage.
Kira clutched her hands to her face. “Oh, Masha, what will I do if he dies?”
The Countess stroked her niece’s back. “The doctor is the finest surgeon in Moscow.”
THE DINGY INFIRMARY WAITING ROOM, its cold linoleum floor and odor of disinfectant, made Kira think of death. The Countess sat beside Kira. Boris and Fëdor who chewed on his mustache, rested across the room. Uri paced up and down the hall. All remained silent awaiting news.
Hours later, the doctor entered the room in his stained surgical gown. “We removed the bullet and are optimistic about his recovery.” A shout of hoorah from the fellows ignited the room. “Be aware,” the doctor frowned. “He is sure to suffer from shortness of breath all his life.”
“It’s my fault.” Kira buried her face in her aunt’s chest. The Countess wrapped her arms around her niece.
“May I see him?” Kira said.
“He is sleeping but you can go in for a few minutes. Try not to wake him.”
Kira stood by Roman’s bed, wiped the last of her tears, and put on a brave face. He looks so frail and helpless, she thought.
Roman slowly opened his eyes. Their lustrous hazel coloring had taken on a gray hue. His lips parted but no sound emitted.
“Hush, my love,” Kira said. “I’m here with you.”
The nurse came in and tried to usher Kira out of the room “I can’t leave him,” she pleaded.
“Come dear, the patient needs his rest.”
Reluctant, Kira left the room. She spotted Uri approach. “I think you should know something,” he said. “Colonel Vershinin is heavily in debt, gambling I’m afraid.”