Five days after the trial, Hunter had been coming up with ways to resolve the affair before it was too late. On this day, he had a chance to do it for once and for all when Agatha told him she was going to the farmer’s market today. When she was gone, he went over to house number 308 ten minutes later, frowning at the overcast skies with a hint of darker clouds in the horizon.
For the third time, Travis’ wife answered the door after he pressed the doorbell. This made Hunter wonder if something was going on or not.
“Hello, Hunter, do come in,” she gestured inside with a graceful sweep of her arm and he came inside, looking around as she shut the door behind him.
“Uh… Travis out working again?” he looked over to her who walked around to front of him.
“Yes, I find it interesting that fortune certainly favors the both of us, don’t you agree?” she took off her burqa, shaking her wolf head and then rubbed around her ears, sighing softly. He watched her do that with some interest, wondering whether it was truly stifling inside such garments. Then he reminded himself that Agatha would be back anytime soon, due to the weather and the farmer’s market being close by.
“Well, I came here to talk about us,” he began and stopped the moment he looked into her eyes, his will failing him the longer he gazed into those goldens, and suddenly felt the need to sit down.
“Excuse me,” he muttered and walked past her to sit upon the foot of the stairs to put his forehead into his hands. He felt torn between Agatha and Travis’ wife at this moment, sadness and regret at what he had done. He was sad that he was going to break it off with her, and regret for going behind Agatha, his faithful wife of fifty years. But it’s got to be done, before it’s too late, he reminded himself and did his best to muster his withering courage to look back up at Travis’ wife who stood there watching him silently.
“I… I’m sorry, but…” when he paused, she stepped in closer to him and reached out to cup his cheek in her covered hand. He blinked at this and felt clarity mixed with amusement throughout himself when she held the underside of his chin.
“I understand, love. You don’t need to tell me the rest of the words if it pains you so,” she murmured gently. “If you wish to break up with me, as it were, then that’s okay,” he felt her amusement grow more at the last sentence, but he could feel a hint of sadness just behind that feeling which was replacing it more and more by each passing moment. He wrapped his arms around her waist and buried his head into her stomach.
“Mm,” he heard her murmur gently through her stomach as she embraced his head to her body. A moment later, he felt her back off slightly to undo her hijab, parting it just enough to reveal four inches of her furry white body vertically. Before Hunter could do or say anything, she grasped his head and pressed the left side of it against her stomach. He realized a moment later that she was giving him this last feeling of her through this way. He closed his eyes and relished the warm furriness of Travis’ wife every second it lasted, wrapping his arms around her waist tightly, as if not wanting to let go of her, inhaling her scent of dug-up earth.
Then Hunter felt her tear herself away from him, and saw her hastily close up her hijab before picking up the burqa she had dropped on the floor earlier to put on her head, succeeding in concealing her true form just in time as the door burst open.
Agatha was standing there, lightly drenched around the shoulders as lightning flashed behind her. The storm had arrived.
In the intervening days, Agatha couldn’t let go of the possibility that Hunter was cheating on her with Travis’ wife, and decided to make an excuse to discover the truth with Betty’s help. The moment Betty called her on the cell phone loaned to her, she left the farmer’s market almost immediately, and breaking into a full run towards house number 308 through the remaining intervening two blocks as rain began to fall.
Upon seeing Hunter sitting on the foot of the stairs with Travis’ wife facing her a few paces away from him, she scrutinized the expression on his face immediately, keen on finding any guilty expression. What she saw on his face were surprise mixed with slight confusion and something akin to a child being caught doing something naughty.
“A-Agatha…! What… are you doing here?” he began but she silenced him with slamming the door shut hard that caused the stained glass to rattle slightly.
“Be careful—!“ Travis’ wife began, but she was cut off by Agatha.
“Shut it, whore!” she hissed, her eyes narrowed.
“I SAID SHUT IT!” she yelled at her, face livid in anger. “I knew it the moment you were giving her cow eyes the day we met them, and I knew it when you were acting strangely for two whole days with that smell of her on you! And at that dance, I knew you wanted to kiss her through that veil! What kind of a husband allows another husband’s wife to place her hand on his mouth?!” she yelled at Hunter, sobbing at the same time at the end of her tirade. She was shaking all over, wanting to hit them and run away at the same time, but couldn’t decide which one to do. When Hunter got up slowly from the foot of the stairs to approach her with his hands up in a placating manner, she struck out at him, the slap nearly sounding like a whip crack due to the roominess of the entrance hall. She noted Hunter stumble back and held his jaw where she had slapped him with a raw satisfaction in her heart.
“Don’t come any closer, Hunter! Stay with her for all I care!” she yelled at him and backed into the door, fumbling for the knob as tears coursed down her face. When she found it and tried to open it, it wouldn’t budge one inch. Facing the door now, she turned the lock and tried again to no avail.
“Agatha,” she heard Travis’ wife call out to her, barely registering the half-severe tone to her dreamy voice. She ignored her as she began to pull on the door with her body, wanting to get the hell out of here.
“Agatha Huntington!” this time, she couldn’t mistake the severe tone in Travis’ wife’s voice, having entirely replaced the dreamy quality.
“What?!” she turned to face her harshly, and the moment she clapped her eyes on those golden eyes, the deceitful goldens, she suddenly felt her rage lose its edge and then a hint of fear grew within the depths of her heart that stilled the rest of her anger at being betrayed by her husband of fifty years.
“I suggest the two of you go with me to the parlor room and wait for Travis to return from his job,” that severe tone was making her wonder as the changing feelings she had experienced made her confused to begin with. Is this… her doing? She couldn’t help but wonder this.
“I’m not asking you, Agatha, it’s an order,” she was now feeling a definite chill to that severe tone from Travis’ wife. As if to understate what she was picking up on, she noticed Hunter hesitate and then went for the parlor room. She finally complied and entered the parlor room with Travis’ wife following right behind her.
“Sit and have a drink,” she heard her and frowned at seeing Hunter sitting in one of the two easy chairs at either side of the clawed-up couch. She took the remaining easy chair and pointedly ignored her husband who watched her with a remorseful expression. Travis’ wife sat upon the couch, watching them carefully as the fire crackled within the fireplace.
“It will be thirty minutes until he comes here.”
Exactly thirty minutes later in stony and chilly silence, Agatha could hear Travis coming in and then moments later, saw him entering the parlor room. He had a slightly apprehensive expression to his face as he went over to sit next to his wife.
“Everything all right, babe?” she heard him mutter softly and Travis’ wife nodded before gesturing to Hunter and Agatha. He frowned visibly and sighed deeply, putting his head into his hands.
“If you must know, your wife was cheating on you,” Agatha spoke coldly, crossing her arms as she watched for any reaction from him. What happened next surprised her and Hunter: he looked up from his hands and glanced to her and then Hunter and nodded his shaven head.
“Yeah, I know. I let her do it,” he said, and then sat back with his hands clasped upon his stomach to survey them.
“Wait, what?” Hunter blinked.
“Are you telling me that you allowed your wife to… cheat on you with my husband?” Agatha said, hardly believing what he was saying.
“It’s because you aren’t married at all, right?” Hunter’s remark made her look at him sharply.
“… Bingo! I’m honestly surprised no one else in this town caught on that I’m not even wearing a wedding ring,” Travis held up his left hand to prove it. Agatha blinked at his ring finger and noticed there was indeed no ring on it. She was at a loss for words, unable to truly comprehend…
“Travis?” she heard his wife, scratch that, not-wife murmur to him and he nodded at her, sighing softly.
“Okay, Agatha, whatever you do, don’t scream or try to run away. Got it?” this statement left her even more puzzled.
“I’ll take that as a yes. Go, babe, do your thing,” he instructed his not-wife with another nod.
“Wait! I don’t think she can take seeing for what she really is,” Hunter pleaded as Travis’ not-wife stood up with her hand on her burqa.
“Dude, it’s the only way the both of you will truly understand. Upon seeing her true appearance, I will explain everything,” Travis said and Hunter frowned visibly, glancing to Agatha with a concerned look on his face. At this point, Agatha felt like wanting to clear something up right here and now.
“Hunter,” she spoke, closing her eyes and breathed in deeply before letting out a sigh, her bottom lip quivering as she brought herself to say it, “did you truly cheat on me with her?”
“Yes, I did,” she heard him reply after a moment and then she opened her eyes.
“Then did you see what she looks like?” This brought another moment’s worth of hesitation from him.
“Yes,” this got her to look away from him to the ornately-designed carpet floor.
“How many times… did you… see her that way?” she asked through gritted teeth, fighting back fresh tears.
“Twice,” Hunter replied after another moment of silence. She sobbed quietly, bringing up a hand to her eyes to wipe away the tears, and to cover her face. After a minute, she managed to compose herself and then looked to Travis’ not-wife with a resolute nod. To her slight surprise, she got a nod back mixed with the feeling of understanding coming from her before taking off the burqa from her head and then the hijab from her body.
She was in a state of stunned silence with her mouth open in disbelief as she took in the true appearance of Travis’ not-wife. Her white furry supple body had no clothing at all, quite bare due to the fact her nipples and vulva were exposed and most of all, her head…
“Just like Hunter was when he first saw me, except he fell on his back!” Agatha heard her speak with a giggle, noticing her bushy tail wag behind her accompanied with a feeling of amusement.
“Be that as it may, she’s not a werewolf as Jeff thinks,” Travis said as soon as she sat back down next to him, crossing her legs. Both Hunter and Agatha noticed that she moved easily this time around, none of the strange careful way of moving they were used to seeing her do.
“What… what are you? Do you even have a name?” Agatha spoke at last, her eyes still on Travis’ not-wife. She realized that Jeff was probably the second person in New Hamlet to have seen her for what she truly is.
“Yes, she does, as a matter of fact. It’s Guardian,” he said as he scratched under Guardian’s chin, making her close her eyes in apparent pleasure. “While she may look like a werewolf, she’s in fact a wolf spirit,” he continued, eventually ceasing scratching under her chin. Agatha looked at him blankly, not understanding what he just said.
“A wolf spirit?” she heard Hunter ask.
“Well, to be technical, a materialized wolf spirit,” Travis said with a slow smile and sighed softly, “okay, I’m going to have to make this really simple for you two to understand it all, if only barely.” He paused to allow the Huntingtons to process what he said, and when they nodded to him, he continued with pauses between sentences.
“I did a ritual that made possible for spirits to become… living breathing creatures in this world. For a long time, I wanted to see Guardian with my very own eyes and to touch her with my hands, to feel her and hear her. I was finally able to do it with the help of a friend of mine, and by the Gods, I was just like you guys when I first laid my eyes on her!” he paused to chuckle before going on, a happy reminiscing expression.
“We were both happy at how well it worked, Guardian and I. I was eager to show her to the people back home as living proof that spirits and even magick are reality. But we were quickly hunted down and we had no choice but to flee,” he stopped with a somber expression and Guardian put a comforting hand upon his.
“We could’ve easily defended ourselves from them, due to the unexpected side-effect of the ritual. But he was adamant on not laying a single finger on them, choosing to protect ourselves from them and vice-versa,” Guardian picked up the story for Travis, and the Huntingtons noted that her voice resumed the familiar dreamy tone. “So we eventually were able to secure our arrival here and sought to live among you folks quietly and peacefully, carefully, of course,” she amended with a nod of her head.
“Please ask us anything if you have trouble understanding all of what we’ve explained to you two,” she encouraged the Huntingtons politely with a smile upon her muzzle. As much as Agatha was doing her best to comprehend, she noticed Hunter seemed to have a slightly better time at it than she did. Of course he did, he had the time to accept her body first!
“How did… how did you come to know Guardian?” Hunter tried to word his question as best as he could. Travis and Guardian looked at each other as if they were like a married couple deeply in love with each other and then Travis replied with a smile.
“It’s a long story, man. But she’s my guardian spirit, to sum it up. And yes, in case you two are wondering, Guardian’s not her real name, but she’s rather protective of her true name, so that works just fine.”
“Why did you let her…?” Agatha fell silent as what she wanted to ask hurt her; it still hurt despite the explanations. Guardian shifted in her seat uncomfortably and looked to Travis who smirked slightly.
“I was going to, babe, chill,” he muttered to her before talking to Agatha directly. “Like I told you, we aren’t married. That was just an act, a necessary one. But to truly answer your question… I don’t think you’re going to like it one bit. You too, Hunter,” he nodded to him.
“Please, just tell us,” Agatha whispered, looking down to the floor momentarily. She noted that Travis had a pensive expression and then sighed, relenting with pointed reluctance.
“So be it. She’s a spirit; that means she’s not like us. Spirits in general tend to have open relationships with each other and even the living. So I thought it best for her to stay true to her sexual nature despite the fact we’re… bonded to each other, so to speak.”
“She’s… clean, right?” Hunter blurted and this caused the couple to laugh for a minute.
“Yes, silly, of course I’m clean. Human diseases cannot take hold within me,” Guardian answered with a grin, revealing her teeth.
“Did you… see other men while…?” Hunter asked again and she stared at him with a curious expression.
“Mm, I was only interested in you, my love. But now that you mention it…” she licked her muzzle, and grinned, the feeling of her amusement felt by the others in the room. Travis chuckled, shaking his head. Only the Huntingtons seemed to be put off by this, just staring at the couple, mostly at Guardian. It was Agatha who broke the forming awkward silence.
“Ahem, why were you interested in Hunter? Of all the men in New Hamlet, why him?”
“That’s… a good question,” Hunter murmured as he thought on her question. Guardian didn’t answer her immediately for she looked down with her eyes closed in thoughtful silence.
“Because of his desire for the unusual, the exotic,” she spoke, looking up to Agatha squarely as she opened her eyes.
“What do you mean?” Agatha frowned, glancing over to Hunter who was slightly confused and then back to her.
“The moment he looked at me for the first time, I could tell there was something inside of him he thought he left behind upon marrying you. The sight of me dressed in Muslim clothing aroused his innermost desires, and I decided to give him the opportunity to explore it… and then some,” she finished, grinning as she glanced at Hunter knowingly. Agatha looked to Hunter who seemed to be taken back by surprise at Guardian’s eye contact and expression and looked elsewhere pointedly for several moments. Agatha suddenly understood why Hunter acted strangely when they met them for the first time and she frowned at the realization.
“Hunter?” she asked her husband, who looked at her almost immediately.
“What is it?”
“Did… did you felt that way when you… s-saw Guardian without clothes?” he blinked at her question and opened and closed his mouth a few times as he struggled to find the right words. The longer he stalled; she felt a fresh wave of mixed disgust, revulsion, and betrayal washing over her. She made to get up from her chair to leave when Hunter finally spoke, but slowly and carefully.
“It was… a very unreal experience, just couldn’t believe my eyes. It took me a while to get past it and by the time I became… comfortable, I was unsure whether I should continue or not. But I did, and…” he fell silent, looking rather guilty. This proved too much for Agatha to bear, so she got up and stared at them all in the parlor room as she took a fresh look at them. It was too strange for her even as she noted the apparently libertine couple that twisted her once-faithful husband of fifty years, a respected man of the community, to cheat on her.
“We’ve done our best to explain ourselves, Huntingtons, so we sincerely apologize for the harm we’ve wrought upon your illustrious marriage of fifty years,” Travis spoke, addressing Agatha and Hunter.
“Really, it was my fault for the most part,” Guardian said softly, looking down slightly. Travis took her hand in his to give a reassuring squeeze. Only Hunter said nothing with a haunted and guilty look to his face.
“You’re all monsters; you don’t care for anything except yourselves…! And you, Hunter, you don’t deserve to be my husband at all! You’ve proved that the moment you went and cheated on me with… with her!” Agatha sobbed and backed away from them towards the entryway of the parlor room.
“Agatha, stay just a little longer,” Travis said quietly, but she shook her head and turned to hurry towards the front door, she wanted to get away from them.
The sound of the door being unlocked, opened and then closed brought finality to the turmoil that resided within Hunter’s heart. He looked to the fireplace, bringing a hand up to his mouth. He finally understood why he felt that liberation earlier: he was freed from that desire Guardian spoke of. It was satisfied, albeit unexpectedly, and he was able to move on from there. But at the same time, this created a rift between himself and Agatha.
“You should go after Agatha, love,” Guardian spoke to him and he looked at her sharply.
“I can’t…” he began but Travis cut him off.
“You must, dude. If you can’t be able to reconcile with her, then at least have her keep quiet about Guardian’s true appearance and what has transpired thus far.”
“You two brought this upon yourselves, deal with it,” Hunter suddenly stood up, indignant at being asked of this just when his wife walked out on him. He made to leave, but Guardian stopped him by grabbing his hand. He looked down to her, seeing her golden eyes look back up with a concerned and perhaps pleading look to them.
“Please, if not for the both of us, then do it for me.” He stood rooted to the spot as he continued to look into her eyes, and then relented with a sigh and a nod.
“I’ll try, but for you,” he said and then left the couple alone in their own house into the raining evening of Prospect Avenue.