He grabbed her by the shoulders and threw her down. She sprawled on the floor in her white T-shirt and blue AU sweatpants, stunned but not completely surprised by his explosive reaction. He wasn't done. He grabbed her by her T-shirt and hair, and started to drag her toward the kitchen. He hit her in the chest and stomach, trying to get her to move her arms, which were now defensively covering her head. Finally, she snapped. She screamed at him without fear of waking Nikki as he dragged her across the parquet floor. She kicked and scratched at his hands.

Bill was too strong, too determined, too high. Her head slammed against the doorframe as he finally dragged her body onto the kitchen's linoleum floor. He released her hair and her now-ripped T-shirt and once again ordered her to wash the dishes. He stood over her with a contemptuous scowl on his face. It could've been that look. Or it could've been the escalating abuse and the accumulated frustration at the chaotic life he was creating for her and her daughter. But something gave Joy the strength to pull herself up from the floor. On top of the counter was a wooden block that held all of the large, sharp knives in the kitchen. She pulled the biggest knife from its sheath and pointed the blade at his throat. Her voice was collected as she made her promise: "If you try that shit again, I will kill you."

Bill seemed to suddenly regain his sobriety. He backed out of the kitchen slowly, not taking his eyes from his wife's tear-drenched face. Her unrelenting stare. They didn't speak for the rest of the night. One month later, Joy and Nikki were packed up. Together, they left Bill for good.

My mom vowed to never let another man put his hands on her. She wouldn't tolerate it in others either.
Excerpted from The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore Copyright ?? 2010 by Wes Moore. Excerpted by permission of Random House Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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