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Destiny's Chastity

A Story of Summer Love (and Other Stuff as We Think of It)

July 20, 1998|VERONIQUE DELACROIX-SMITH | 10 TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Chapter IV

The Alien Connection

Across town, a groggy and disoriented Hunter woke up face-down on the back lawn of his Hollywood Hills bungalow, his head throbbing and his tanned, muscular arms coated with dew--or maybe it was saliva from the large dog standing over him and licking his feet.

"What happened?" he muttered. And then the memories began filtering back: the eerie lights hovering over his house in the dead of night, the freak power surge that blew out the electricity and . . . and the creatures!

Yes, there was a spaceship and strange machinery and lots of aliens scampering around with their luminescent-yet-sultry skin, deep-set emerald eyes, sparkly red-brown hair filaments and ample, heaving thoraxes.

"Klaatu barada nikto," one of them said as Hunter was strapped to a long metal table and prodded with a glowing green pyramid. Another alien--possibly female--stood over Hunter, pursing her pouty, indigo lips as the examination proceeded.

Staring into the alien's vacant yet bewitching eyes, Hunter felt a burning in his loins. Then he realized it was because the glowing green pyramid had somehow set his Levi's on fire. He thrashed under the restraints, but a group of creatures held him down, their rippling blue biceps glistening under the spaceship's blinding interior lights. And here, Hunter's memory of the incident dissolved into a series of disjointed images and fragments he couldn't quite piece together.

He picked himself up off the lawn, examined his scorched clothing and headed into the house. Upstairs, in his modestly furnished bedroom, he paused near the large family portrait taken just two years earlier--the one that continued to haunt his every waking hour. There was his young sister, Victoria, with her buoyant smile, Uncle Anselmo wearing his battered Panama hat and monogrammed eye patch, older brother Miles with his mysterious new bride, Duchess Gretchen, and Hunter's parents, seated in a large wicker chair with their talking parrot, Goofy-bird.

Now, all of them were dead except Gretchen and the parrot, thanks to a bizarre chain of accidents, explosions and one tornado at the family business--Cuppa Joe's, the archrival of Java Universe. After the most recent deaths--his parents fell into a vat of boiling espresso last week--Hunter quit Cuppa Joe's, believing it to be somehow cursed for destroying rain forests with its coffee plantations and paying its workers Kathie Lee Gifford-sweatshop wages.

Refusing to touch his inheritance, he decided to open a pet supply shop. He turned over sole management of the Cuppa Joe empire to sister-in-law Gretchen, a somber and aloof Russian expatriate who then moved into his parents' Hancock Park house with her 18 cats (much to the parrot's alarm).

Hunter's reverie broke as a ray of sunlight spilled across his bedroom bureau and sparked off the silver locket that Destiny had left behind at the pet shop. Cradling it in one hand, he gently caressed the strange insignia on the back. Once again, a wave of deja vu swept over him, but he shrugged it off, set down the locket and climbed into the shower to get ready for his date with Destiny.

*

Meanwhile, over in Studio City, Destiny stood on tiptoes at her cluttered bathroom counter, applying various lotions and potions as she studied herself in the mirror. She glided into the bedroom singing made-up lyrics, her delicately freckled skin and cinnamon hair aglow in the late afternoon sun. Now the great fashion debate would begin: the backless Donna Karan in red versus the more modest Ann Taylor in kiwi--or maybe the sleek, black Versace. Or the cyan Gabana. And which shoes to pick from the Imelda Marcos collection?

"What do you think, Suzy?" Destiny said to her pet ferret, who was pacing nervously around the bed, eyes blinking.

Destiny pulled the Versace off the hanger and held it against her lithe body, eyeing the results in the mirror. The doorbell rang. Throwing on some sweats, she sprinted for the door. She was greeted with flowers. Lots of them: irises, stargazer lilies, tropical blooms she'd never seen before. Could they be from Hunter? Her heart raced. She bounded into the kitchen, inhaled deeply from the bouquet and seated herself at the table to open the card. But first she closed her eyes to make a wish--a prayer, really--as her thoughts drifted to Hunter. Imagining his lips brushing against her face, she grew flush across the chest and a warm sensation spread through her loins.

Then she opened her eyes and realized she'd knocked a cup of coffee into her lap when she set down the flowers. Good thing the java had been sitting there awhile. She laughed and started mopping up the mess. Then a cuckoo clock chirped in the next room. Egad. Hunter would be arriving any minute. Forgetting the card, Destiny raced back to the bedroom, slithered into the slinky Versace, draped some baubles around her neck, and was just dabbing on her favorite perfume when the doorbell buzzed.

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