Thought of the moment....

No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER control anyone else's attitudes, actions, or outcomes. The only person that you have the ability to directly impact is you, and it is your responsibility to learn how to do just utilize the knowledge, skills, and abilities you have been given to impact the world in the most positive way that you can EVERY chance you get!


Chapter 1

     “Where’s the money, Tess?” His breath was heavy in the phone.

     She knew that the answer didn’t matter. She knew the minute she moved the money out of his reach that she signed her own death warrant but she no longer cared. She was tired. Tired of him being able to control her. Holding money over her head as her only means of survival, crippling her without it. Making her need him around to help support her.

     “It’s safe.” Her voice quavered a little. Letting out a small sigh and bringing her chin up she tried to sound stern. “You’re obsessed with the money, Aaron. It’s always about the money. I am not going to let you control me with it anymore.”

     “I’m not obsessed, that’s ridiculous. It’s not your money. It’s my money.” He started when she cut into him.

     “Our money! Everything is about you. How hard you work, what you’ve been through, your needs. You don’t give a damn about me or the kids…it’s always about you.” She was becoming heated and wanted to show him that she was no longer scared of him or this threats.

     “You shut up; just shut your fuckin mouth right now. You don’t talk to me like that. That only gets you in trouble and you know it.” Aaron’s voice boomed through the phone.

     Tess shuttered at the thought but tried to hold her ground. “This is over. You need to pack your shit and leave. Be gone before I get home with the kids.”

     She knew he wouldn’t be gone, but she also knew she had no plans on taking the kids back to the house with her either. She was going to stash them with her mom until she could get something a little more secure. This was going to be a long terrifying night.

     When Tess pulled the car in the drive the house looked vacant. All but the dim light shining in the living room window shadowed behind the drawn curtains. That is the way he like them – closed.  So the neighbors nor anyone driving by could see what went on behind them.

     Aaron didn’t always used to be like this. A car accident five years ago took the real Aaron away. The one who used to buy her cards for every occasion and none in particular. He was injured with sever head injuries that he was never capable to overcome.

     Somehow a switch inside his brain flipped and now he bounces between his own alternate worlds. One where he is controlled and behaves properly when he takes his medications properly and is not over-stimulated by the children or life in general.

     The other he become a monster who loves to belittle the entire family until he makes everyone cower down to him – especially Tess. He’s his own Jekyll and Hyde. When he is Jekyll he is fine to be around, but when he is Hyde…you do just that.

     It took Tess several minutes before she had enough confidence to shut the engine off and step out of the car. She left the keys in the ignition just in case she would need to make a quick departure.

     She slowly walked up the path toward the door and reached for the handle and froze looking through the window for any kind of movement. She wasn’t sure that she was brave enough for a confrontation but would interact if she had to.

     Her heart was racing, the pounding was so loud in her ears it made it impossible to hear anything else. A lump formed in her throat, she couldn’t swallow. She gripped the handle firmly and started to twist it until the latch clicked.

     She slowly pushed the door open and waited. Nothing. She let out a small sigh of relief and went in through the kitchen surveying the damage. Broken plates and glasses littered the floor by the sink.

     Once out of the kitchen it only took her a few minutes to breeze into the bedroom and grab the suitcases from the closet and toss them onto the bed. She quickly ran upstairs to each child’s room and tried to grab enough clothes for several days.

     Her foot slipped out from under her when she was coming back down the steps and she landed hard into the wall of the stairwell catching herself with her elbow. “Damn it.” She grumbled to herself. Knowing that time was precious she tried to pick up speed and get back to the bedroom to pack her own things.

     She’d almost made it to the bed with her arms heaped full of the children’s clothes when she saw him sitting there. Alarm racked her body telling her to run but that would only tip him off making it more fun for him.

     “I told you not to be home when I got here.” Tess said trying to control her breathing and her shaking body.

     “I wasn’t. I just got here, so technically I wasn’t home when you got here.” His smile was devious. She knew it all too well. This was not going to end the way she had hoped after all. This was going to go all wrong.

     “You know what I meant.” She countered. Don’t you dare back down from him. He will never stop. Never!

     He didn’t take his eyes off of her. “Where do you think your going? And where are my kids?”

     “I don’t have to explain any of this to you Aaron. I told you that this was over.” She walked over and threw the clothes into the suitcase trying her best to ignore the fact that she just put herself three steps closer to him and ten steps father from the door.

     Another attempt at bravery and defiance was when she turned to walk away from him and toward the dresser to start collecting some of her own items. She had taken five steps and opened a drawer and then he was on her. Aaron had her by the arm and swung her around to face him and then slammed her against the wall.

     Her first thought was how bad her head hurt after it ricocheted off the plaster and lathe wall and how she couldn’t believe she was letting this happen. Fear started to take over and she felt it over-coming her body, she started to tremble.

     His eyes were glossed over and she knew he was Hyde tonight. Once he felt her shaking under his grasp the look of satisfaction took over. A sinister smile christened his lips and then reached his eyes.

     Tess was overwhelmed with confusion of how she was going to get out of the house. She just kept his eye contact and then began to laugh. His eyes narrowed and his look of amusement became a scowl. He couldn’t believe she was laughing about this.

     “Is that all you got?” She mumbles though her laughter.

     “Do you want me to do worse?” He grip tightens on her arms with every word.

     The only thing Tess could think to do was mock him and raised her eyebrows with an oh yeah, what do you got? She knew this was not in her best interest but did it anyway. She dared herself as much as him.

     Calling him out to unleash more anger on her was a plan to see if she could get him to release her. If he loosened his grip, she could possibly run. Get back to the car and get the hell out of there.

     Aaron paused for a short second  before his face release a little like he was transforming back to Jekyll. The force of his hands pinching her upper arms started to ease up a little and he looked at his hands.

     Tess’ heart thumped harder in her chest thinking that maybe he would release her and they would have a normal fight and it would be distinguished easier than she imagined. Her eyes were trained on his face watching every expression intensely.

     He looked at his hands on her arms and then looked at her face. She stopped breathing for a moment but her body was trembling beneath his touch. He searched her face for answers and saw a small glint of fear in her eyes. That was all it took.

     Aaron’s grip tightened once again and before Tess could think about it he whirled her around the room, throwing her toward the closet. She slid across the floor, hitting her back and her head in the center of the door.

     The full length mirror shattered as she slumped to the ground and rained down on Tess cutting her cheek as it fell. The blood seeped down toward her mouth as she gasped for air to replace what was knocked from her upon impact.

     Her mind was telling her to get up but her body was riveting in pain and she could hear him walking toward her. The shards of the mirror crunching under his boots as he slowly approached her and then stopped. The toe of his boot directly in front of her face.

     Tess reluctantly waited for it to strike her in the face, but nothing happened. Another ragged breath entered her aching lungs and she coughed as she tried to regain a full breath. Aaron knelt down in front of her with his elbows on his knees, rocking back on his heels.

     He swiped some of the blood from her cut and smeared it across her face. “What a fucking waste. You used to be pretty you know. Now what am I going to do with you?”

     Aaron grabbed Tess by the hair and helped her to her feet, not minding her wincing in pain. He jerked her upright to face him as she struggled with her hands to get his free from her entangled mess of hair.

     “Not so fast, where are you off to Contessa?” She could hear the laughter in his voice. He was amused by her struggle to get free. She quickly stopped and stood motionless. Anticipating what he would do next. “Was that better love?”

     She starts to sob. Don’t let him do this. Stand your ground. You can do this. The inhalation of air was forceful enough to help stifle the cry. She bit hard into her lip and laughed again…at him. “Is that the best you can do?”

     Aaron didn’t like being made a fool of and this really pissed him off. Why wasn’t she crying? “What the hell are you laughing about? You think this is funny?”  He shook her violently, attempting to shake the laughter from her lungs.

     Tess continued to test his patience with her defiance. Aaron brought her face up close to his so that he could look her in the eye. Look for the fear that he so desperately needed to feed from. Her eyes met his and she held his gaze and he caught the small flicker he preyed upon.

     His had come sudden and hard as a stone across her right cheek before she had time to counter. She cried out in pain, reflexively covering her face with her hands waiting for another blow.

     “You should know better than to provoke me bitch.” His voice blared.

     Tess knew that this was her chance and she needed to take it. With her hands still covering her face and his hands still holding her arms, she quickly brought her knee up to his groin as forcefully as she could manage.

     Aaron doubled over in pain, hands mechanically reaching for his scrotum that were suffering from the blunt trauma. Once he released her she ran as fast as she could through the house and out to the car. She climbed inside and locked the doors and reached for the ignition. Her keys were gone.

     “Son of a bitch!” Tess screamed. Her one chance came and gone in a flash. She gripped the steering wheel, stifling the tears that were welling up in her eyes. Knowing what she had to do, she swallowed hard and raising her chin high in the air. Tess unlocked the door and got out of the car.

     When she walked back up to the door, she could see him sitting on the countertop. She didn’t close the door behind her.

     “Missing something?” Aaron’s smug demeanor was nauseating. Tess just stared straight ahead not giving him eye contact. “You know, that wasn’t a very nice thing to do. Shit like that hurts.”

     Aaron sprang off the counter; Tess lurched back for the door. They both froze, trying to anticipate each other’s next action. The broken dinnerware crackled under his boots as his weight shifted giving Tess some leverage.

     The grating noise from the shards under his feet caused a chill to climb the full length of her spine. She twitched. Aaron knew that he was intimidating her and savored every second as he cocked he head and took her in. This is exactly how he liked her; she was at her most stunning. Quivering with fear, not vile with tears and blubbering.

     “You did come back for these didn’t you?” He dangled the keys out in front of her.

     “Yes.” Slipped across her lips almost a whisper.
     “Here, take them.” He held them out at arm’s length to her. Tess reluctantly reached her hand out to grab the keys from Aaron. With keys almost in hand, Aaron released them before Tess touched them, sending them to the ground.

     Tess took her eyes off of Aaron and her eyes followed the keys for a fraction of a second before the left hook he threw connected sending her careening backward and into the door jam knocking her unconscious.
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