As soon as Cara’s silhouette disappeared over the wooded crest of the hill, Felix’s
eyes flew to the countdown on his watch. 4:38… So much adrenaline was coursing
through his veins that his hands were shaking. He paced. When he was sure that at
least thirty seconds had passed, he checked his watch again. 4:27… He checked his
backpack. Water, energy bars, a small first aid kit, a flashlight, his phone in a waterproof
case, an emergency flare, lube, zip ties, and several skeins of rope. He patted the front
pocket of his jeans. His pocketknife was clipped in its usual spot.
After a few more seconds spent resisting the urge to check the countdown, he gave
He knew that Cara hadn’t taken anything with her but a phone. It was probably
fortunate for him that she never took a bag. He could imagine the sorts of things her bag
might contain: pepper spray, those nasty little throwing stars she liked to practice with,
and probably a taser if she could get her hands on one. As resourceful as she was, she
probably could get her hands on as many as she wanted. He shook his head, banishing
thoughts of bear traps, truncheons, and chains. She wouldn’t resort to those. Would
He glanced at his watch. 3:29…
His pent-up energy was starting to make him feel claustrophobic. He needed to move.
He distracted himself with memories of the first time they’d done this…
It hadn’t been intentional. It was the culmination of months of constant sniping that
had grown increasingly acrimonious and vindictive. By the end of it, they were being
deliberately hurtful and pushing each other’s buttons at every opportunity. When she
tossed a copy of her Petition for Divorce in front of him, he shouldn’t have been surprised.
He had been on his feet in an instant, but by the time he grabbed for her, she had
backed away. He had never laid a hand on her in anger back then, but he was seeing
red, and she sensed the change in him and ran. Felix was faster, but Cara’s shorter
strides were better suited to running in the house. She took the corner in the hallway
without slowing down, but he skidded to keep from running into the wall. The front door
slammed shut just as he reached the top of the stairs. He cleared the stairs to the split-
level entry in two bounds and got outside just in time to see the flash of her ash blond
ponytail as she darted around the side of the house.
If he hadn’t been so close on her heels, he would have assumed that she headed for
the woods behind the house. But it had been autumn, and the leaves were dry and
crunchy. As close as he was, he would have heard her running through the leaves if she
had run that way. He circled the house without seeing her, then reversed, in case she
was following him, but there was no sign of her. That left one possibility: she had gone
back inside through the patio door.
He followed her cautiously, trying not to alert her. It hadn’t occurred to him to wonder
why he was chasing her or what he would do when he caught her. She ran, he pursued.
That’s all there was to it. Moving quietly and deliberately, he’d made it to the bottom of
the stairs when he heard the click of the latch on the deck door. He exploded up the
stairs, tore through the kitchen and dining room, and nearly caught up to her before she
got the sliding door open. He could still remember his shock when she took a running
leap to vault over the rail of the second-floor deck. He had been just as shocked when
he found himself sailing over the same rail.
They had both landed on the soft ground without injury. She whirled to face him as
she backed away. Her expression was unreadable, but the light in her eyes was wild.
The instant he moved, she took off running through the woods, and he was right behind
her. Darting around trees and crossing gullies on fallen logs, she tried to shake him. Her
lead held out for a little while because she knew the woods behind their house better than
he did, but as soon as she ran out of obstructions and had to run across the slope of a
hill, he caught her.
She screeched like a banshee when he caught hold of her collar. Twisting, she
yanked herself out of his hold, but it was too late to run. She turned to fight. The
eagerness he saw on her face was disturbing, almost gleeful, and it spurred him on. With
her chin raised defiantly, she backed slowly up the slope of the hill, and he shadowed her.
When his patience ran out, he lunged. Instead of trying to dodge, she launched a flying
kick at his chest, using her higher position on the steep slope to her advantage. She was
lucky that he didn’t instinctively twist her leg. Instead, he dodged and let her sail past
She took off running as soon as her feet hit the ground. With speed born of fury, he
caught up to her immediately. He tackled her from behind, driving her to the ground. It
must have knocked the breath out of her, but she was too pissed off to care. She fought
Thinking back on it now, there was denying the ugly truth: she had tried to hurt him,
and he had been willing to hurt her. In retrospect, he was confident that they both would
have drawn the line somewhere, but back then, he couldn’t have picked out where that
line would be. He’d had to choke off her air to get her under control at all, and he had
backhanded her when she bit deep into his hand.
In the few seconds she laid dazed from the blow, he started ripping her clothes off.
He had the presence of mind to get her jeans down to just above her knees before she
regained her wits. It allowed him to immobilize her legs with a knee on the crotch of her
jeans. Frustrated and angry, she threw a punch that he easily caught. While she was
busy trying to free her fist and untangle her legs, he ripped her blouse open and wrestled
it down her arms. Once he had her blouse down to her elbows, he tied it over her midriff
to pin her arms to her sides. It wouldn’t have held if she had a chance to try to get free,
but he stayed on top of her.
Once her arms and legs were restrained, he tore her panties off. The thin fabric ripped
easily after he was able to start a tear in the lacy waistband. The bands around the legs
took more effort, but that didn’t deter him from ripping both legs of her panties open. Just
tearing one leg and pushing the fabric aside would not have been enough for him. He
wanted her pussy bare.
Her bra was easier. The cups were separated by a few crisscrossing strings. He
grabbed the center of the bra and yanked so hard that it jerked her upper body off the
ground. The strings gave way when he wrenched the sides of the bra apart, and she fell
back to the ground. He pulled the cups of her ruined bra to the sides to bare her breasts.
She had never looked more naked than she did that day, lying in the leaves, hobbled
by the jeans around her knees, arms trapped in her shirt. Smudges stood out like bruises
against her pale skin. Besides her eyes, which bored into him like glass-green shards,
her pallor was relieved only by her lips and nipples, tinted pale pink, like the inside of a
conch shell. Long, thin shadows stretched by the angle of the late afternoon sun fell
across the fallen leaves, but none of them touched her body to offer even the covering of
She had remained silent throughout their struggle. He waited for her to say something,
but she glared up at him defiantly, stubbornly hanging onto her silence. As he looked
down at her, a complex aroma drifted up to him. It smelled of the dried leaves and rich
loam Cara had disturbed with her struggles, laced with the musky scent of her pussy.
That’s when he had fallen on her like a madman. To this day, the details remained
hazy. He knew that afterward, her throat and breasts were covered in bite marks and her
thighs were mottled with finger-shaped bruises, but he didn’t remember making them. He
remembered that he had fucked her without mercy, trying to drill her right into the dirt.
When he had finished with her pussy, he had flipped her over on her stomach.
She had renewed her efforts to fight him, and by the time he had her subdued, he was
rock hard again. He jerked her hips up and stabbed into her pussy to lubricate his cock
before he spread her cheeks and speared her ass. He drove his cock into her, sawing in
and out until he broke down her resistance enough to fuck her with abandon. She was
still screaming in fury when he spent himself, his lungs burning as his cum streamed into
The experience left him reeling. He was shocked by his behavior, shocked by her
ferocity, and shocked by the way two normally gentle people combusted in a flurry of
sexual violence. It took him weeks to wrap his mind around the fact that she had come,
repeatedly. Not while he was fucking her ass, although her pussy had been absolutely
dripping after he did, but she came at least twice, maybe three times while he fucked her
pussy. Once was usually enough for her, and it usually took finesse and effort on his
part, not just blind plowing and careless fingering.
Felix blinked away the memory and looked down at his watch. 0:58… If the time crept
by any slower, he was going to pull out his hair. Fighting his impatience, he returned to
Neither of them had known what to do afterward. At first, he thought what he had
done was surely rape. She hadn’t verbally told him to stop, but she fought like a cornered
tigress. It had taken brute force just to contain her. Even after he had her contained, she
resisted him so fiercely that only violence could subdue her. He hadn’t seriously injured
her, but he certainly hurt her. If that kind of resistance wasn’t a “no,” what was?
But later, he wasn’t so sure. She had taken a savage pleasure in both the fighting
and the sex. She made no complaints afterward, either. For months afterward, he went
back and forth. Had it been rape, or had it been very rough angry sex? To this day, he
wasn’t sure about that first time, but he had stopped tormenting himself with the question.
Whatever it was, he didn’t regret it. It had been a breakthrough for them.
. . . . .
When they talked about it later, the best explanation they could find was that they
somehow exorcised whatever demons had been driving them to that destructive point in
their relationship. What they never really discussed, perhaps because it was too
incomprehensible, or perhaps because it was too frightening to consider, was why they
found so much pleasure in the paroxysm of sexual violence. Cara, especially, was in an
endorphin-laced trance for at least an hour afterward. For him, the release of pressure
had been incredible, but it was tempered by the fear of what they were doing.
Whatever sick twist drove Cara to take pleasure that way, she wasn’t alone. After the
first time, he got off on it as least as much as she did. He tried to rein himself in, but the
thrill of chasing his wife down, overpowering her, and making her take his cock was
powerful and undeniable. It was a dark hunger that would have been disastrous if he
didn’t love her so damned much. He loved her more than anything, and he was about to
hunt her down and fuck her senseless.
If he hadn’t been so afraid of losing her forever, he would have denied his dark desires.
They were dangerous, and he knew it. The thrill he got from it was not worth the danger
she always placed herself in. But ever so often, their relationship took a sudden, bitter
turn. There was never any obvious trigger. It was just a shockingly swift descent into
caustic animosity. They could both see it happening, but neither of them was able to stop
it. Relationship counseling didn’t work, possibly because the problem didn’t seem to be
there most of the time. A series of counselors failed to find anything more than gardenvariety relationship issues.
The second time they reached a crisis point, they were in a heated argument when
she suddenly stopped, looked him in the eye, and asked him what he was going to do
about it. Then she took off running. That time, she knew exactly what she was instigating.
After that, when things got bad between them, they agreed to a chase. “A chase” is what
Cara called it. He thought of it as a hunt.
There were a few rules. The time limit might be hours or even days, but at the end of
it, they both had to come back to the house if he hadn’t caught her. So far, he’d always
caught her in time. They also had to stay within the agreed territory, and they had to keep
their phones on. He kept his ringer off, and he knew she kept her phone in airplane mode,
but the location services remained on so that they could be found in an emergency.
There was a safe word either of them could use to cancel the chase, but it might as
well not exist. He knew Cara would never use it. Before they left, they wrote an
explanation that they were “playing a game” and described the territory they would be
playing in. They signed it and left it on the top of the stairs in an envelope marked, “Read
in Case of Emergency.”
That was as much safety as he had been able to build into it. When Cara was like
this, she chafed at rules. The sooner he found her, the better. He wanted to bring her
home—after he made her pay for what she put him through.
He checked his watch. 0:07… 0:06… 0:05 … 0:04… 0:03… 0:02… 0:01… 0:00!