She swung around just in time to see Jake barreling toward her. She skidded to the left but still caught the brunt force of his shoulder in her chest, knocking her off balance. Ellie went flying backwards and her head smacked the wooden kitchen cabinet just before her butt hit the linoleum floor. She immediately saw stars and reached to touch the back of her head. Her hand came away bloody.

Jake’s shadow fell over her and she yelled, not knowing any other way to try to break through the red aura that surrounded him, “Jesus Christ, Jake! I’m bleeding! What’s the matter with you?” She heard his sharp intake of breath and watched his aura turn pink.

“Ellie! Oh my god, Ellie. I’m so sorry!”

Her soon-to-be-ex-husband knelt down beside her and tried to pull her into his arms, but she pushed him away. As long as there was any tinge of red crackling in the air, she needed to be as far away from him as possible. She crawled across the floor as fast as she could manage and huddled in the far corner of the kitchen. She felt a stickiness run down the side of her neck and saw that she had left a small trail of blood in her wake.

She touched her scalp again gently. The whole back of her head felt like it was on fire, and she knew a monster headache was lurking on the horizon. Her collarbone, which had taken the direct hit from Jake’s shoulder, screamed its own chorus of pain. She looked over at Jake, who appeared frozen, hunched over the spot where she had fallen. His face was twisted in disbelief, which no doubt was a mirror image of her expression.

“Are you crazy? What were you trying to do, Jake, kill me? I should call the cops. Or you need to call your therapist. This is bad, Jake. This is really bad.”

The accusation hung in the air between them. Jake had never touched her in anger before. Ellie knew he had wanted to more than once during their heated arguments, but she never believed him capable of following through on it. Despite her tough words, she felt the cold chill of something else gnawing at her—fear. This was the first time in their relationship that she had ever been afraid he would physically harm her. Jake was usually content just doing things to himself.

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