This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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The Hunter’s Daughter – Part II
An original story by Holden Gerrig
He ran with all his might but his strides were slow and heavy. He hoped he was in a nightmare, where his moves were impeded by his terror, but the pain was too real. He stopped to catch his breath.
“Breeennndaaa,” Janet chanted from the distance. Seth knew the name. Brenda was Janet’s college roommate and former best friend. She was the first one with whom he cheated on Janet. Seth resumed his pace, hoping to get away.
“Aaaaliceeee,” Janet chanted ever close. Alice was a flight attendant he met the first time he and Janet flew to Maui for a vacation. How the hell does she know? Seth thought, unable to create a safe distance. Whenever he thought he was safe, he’d hear her voice chanting the names of the women of his transgressions.
Seth’s eyes welled as he resumed his run. He heard the names of Aimee, Maribel, Susan, Laura, and Sharon in Janet’s taunting voice. His desperation made him sprint and seek refuge. His body was flooded with adrenaline. The pain in his hands and groin faded and he did not feel the sharp pebbles slicing his bare feet and branches cutting his skin. When he spotted the imposing shapes of the red cedars in the darkness, he thought he could find refuge and regroup his mind.
“Take a deep breath,” he said to himself trying to regain his composure. His presence disturbed the wildlife and the piercing howl of coyotes reminded him that Janet was not his only threat. But there wasn’t much he could do other than hide. He was cold, in pain, and his hands were useless. He fought hard to control the shivering.
Spencer must have told her, he thought in fear recalling Janet’s father. Seth was able to conceal his misdeeds from everyone, except him. Spencer was a retired special-ops officer whose missions remained secret, hinting their purpose. He was an avid bow hunter and had taught his daughter the ways of the wild. Seth thought about the warning Spencer had given him when he and Janet moved-in together the year before. Spencer had asked him to meet him at his home by himself. Seth found him in his garage, working on his hunting implements.
“Stay away from my daughter,” Spencer said giving him a piercing look as he sharpened a broad head. “She deserves respect, not a man who cheats with the first skirt he sniffs.”
“Me? No, Spencer!” Seth laughed pretending casualness. “You’re mistaken! I don’t know where—”
“Do you know what I hate more than cheaters, son?” Spencer interrupted him testing the edge of his arrow tip. “Liars! Nothing more despicable than a liar.”
“Spencer, I’m not lying, I swear to—”
“Enough, Seth,” Spencer did not let him finish. “You know what I used to do for a living and you know I’m a damn good hunter. I’ve followed you since my daughter spoke of you.”
Seth lost his words. His mouth moved but his throat felt shut.
“Normally I don’t butt in. You’re grownups and it’s your lives. But I know what you’ve been up to and I’m not going to let you humiliate her.”
“Spencer, this is so unfair,” Seth spoke with timid words. His pale complexion was more livid under the fluorescent light of Spencer’s garage. “You should’ve told me. This is so unfair.”
“Not at all,” Spencer said pulling his compound bow from a hook on the wall. “I’m giving you a chance to walk away and not ruin your life. How’s that unfair?”
“But, sir,” Seth stammered looking at Janet’s father clamping his imposing bow to the table.
“Look, you’re right. I’ll change my life, I swear.”
“I know you will,” Spencer smiled and looked at him without blinking. “But it won’t be with my daughter. Disappear from her life. You’re not good for her.” Spencer looked down and continued maneuvering bolts and levers around the strings of his bow.
“With all due respect, Spencer,” Seth continued in a meek tone. “I already gave you my word and Janet is a grownup.”
“But she’s also my daughter,” Spencer sighed in exasperation stopping his work and giving Seth a fierce look. “I won’t stand idle and let you humiliate her.”
“Fine!” Seth said raising his arms in frustration. “Fine! You get your wish. I’ll break it up tomorrow.”
“Not so fast!” Spencer slammed his tools on the work bench. “You don’t get that luxury. She has to dump you.”
“Are you serious?” Seth stammered aghast.
“Serious as cancer,” Spencer resumed working on his bow. “Just be irritating. That shouldn’t be hard for you,” Spencer said smirking. “And tell her how much you hate the Seahawks. That’s the deal breaker.”
“But I like the Seahawks!”
“No, you don’t,” Spencer said stopping and looking at Seth again. “Do you hear me, Seth?”
Seth sighed feeling tired and defeated. “I do, Spencer. Fine! She’ll dump me when she’s had enough.”
“It’s the best for both of you,” Spencer said retrieving his bow from the clamp and pointing Seth to the door of his garage. “This the last you’ll ever see of me. You’re not welcome in my house. You have three months to be gone.”
Seth nodded as Spencer walked him out. He extended his hand but Spencer scoffed at his gesture and turned around, spitting as he went back to his tools.
Seth felt a mix of heaviness and rage. He thought Janet’s father was bluffing and he’d teach him a lesson. He became the role-model boyfriend in front of Janet, attentive and loving, joining her in celebration of the Seattle Seahawks, and showing unbridled devotion. Seth enjoyed his crowning moment when Janet took him to her father’s surprise birthday party. He took pleasure in Spencer’s stupefaction and inability to fend him off when he gave him a hug.
Seth continued his relationship with Janet but never gave up his unfaithful ways. He knew Spencer would be on the lookout but that did not deter him, and only encouraged him to take more precautions. He used his business trips, conferences, and late days at works for his offenses and thought he was fooling everyone. He felt triumphant.