“Don’t give me that speech again about clean living and no stress. I know, dear sister, that you have had a facelift.” Lyssandra Notorious minces no words as she steps inside her twin’s modest bungalow.
“We’re fraternal twins, sweetest. We don’t necessarily have the same genetics. I just got lucky in the aging department.” Hansu smirks.
“I’m not sure I’m buying that answer,” Sigismund jokes as he settles into a dining room chair with a loud crack from his bones. “I look like your grandfather, not your older brother.”
“You look very distinguished,” Hansu assures him.
“Well, I’m going to take a long look inside you medicine cabinet before I leave,” Ariane declares shamelessly. “I imagine your secret weapon resides in there.”
Hansu gigggles. “I’ll never tell!”
The quartet sits in weary silence for a moment. It has been a long day of signing legal briefs and listening to attorneys bicker over the future of the Notorious Talent Agent. The family is grateful to have sold away their shares, as none of them were interested any longer in the world of fame.
“How about some coffee?” Hansu suggests and everyone heartily agrees.
“So, fill us in on our nieces and nephews and your adorable grandchildren,” Lyssandra demands and Ariane and Sigismund are only too happy to report on their children Mariposa and Vereen. When she gets to Sebastian, Ariane smiles a wide grin and turns to her husband. “Tell them about his promotion.”
“He’s a Colonel at the Air Force base!” Sigismund gushes with pride.
“You should see him in his uniform, so handsome!” Ariane adds.
“And their kids?” Hansu asks, struggling to come up with the names of her nephew’s twin boys.
“Hewitt and Ferdinand aren’t living at home right now,” Sigismund begins.
“There were some problems,” Ariane explains.
“Their mother had to go back to work at her parents’ bar. Mr. Hart was too old to continue to work and you remember Dorie Hart was a bit, well, off her rocker. So that left Bebe to run the bar while they tried to sell it. And that left Sigismund and I to mind the boys.”
“We had a lot of talks on discipline but nothing ever seemed to sink in,” Ariane continues. “And I do believe those boys are a bit touched, maybe something they inherited from Dorie. Because they were continuously talking to themselves in strange little whispers that quite frankly, I found unnerving.”
“Hewitt would grow so frightened when I confronted him about the whispering, like he had a secret he didn’t want me to find out. He would try to talk to me…”
“…and then claim to be sick to his stomach. And if Ferdinand heard us discussing it, he would go ballistic!”
“The backtalk was worse than the whispering. I just couldn’t take it anymore and Sigismund really had the best solution when we had the same difficulties with Sebastian so long ago. Boarding school. But we didn’t send them to Military School. We tried the Peace and Love Community School instead. They really thrive there and they are completely different young men now, really mature and quite well-mannered.”
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the results,” Sigismund chimes in. “So, speaking of children, am I ever going to be an uncle?”
Lyssandra rolls her eyes. “Give me a break. We’re too old, well at least I am…can’t speak for Plastic Face over there.”
“I find it ironic, darling sis, that you illustrate children’s books for a living but have no interest in the little tykes yourself. But the maternal department must be where we do share genes because I have never had any desire to be a mother. Now, as far as my anti-aging secrets go, take a quick look, Ariane. I hate to run y’all off but I need my beauty nap.”
As soon as Hansu is sure her sister, brother and sister-in-law have driven far enough down the isolated dirt road she lives on, the woman changes out of her dress and into a loose linen tunic and then enters the hushed fir forest behind her home.
The farther Hansu walks into the quiet, dense woods, the darker her surroundings become. A deer is startled out of its den and bounds fearfully across her path.
At last she arrives at her destination. Nestled among the majestic evergreens is a strange pile of rocks housing a swirling pool of water.
Hansu kneels and dips a cupped hand into the sparkling blue liquid.
She brings the water to her lips and drinks. Instantly, a tingling sensation begins to spread throughout her body. At the same time, she feels all the tensions of the day melt away and her body relaxes and she releases a contented sigh.
“At it again?”
A deep voice resonates from the depths of the forest and Hansu clasps at her heart in absolute panic. She whirls around to see the one and only person who knows her secret.
“Pater, why must you always sneak up on me and scare me out of my wits?” Hansu asks though she knows it is beyond his diabolical nature to make any other kind of entrance. He ignores her question and begins to grill her about the day’s events. Pater is keenly interested in the children of Sebastian Notorious, seeing as they are potential heirs to his dream of a ten-generation reign of terror over Sunset Valley. Hansu finds this most amusing considering what she has just discovered.
“Those boys have been shipped away to the Peace and Love Community School. They are being raised by hippies!” Hansu recounts with a twinge of glee. She has always resented being passed over as an heir and it gives her a certain amount of pleasure to see Pater’s plan go awry.
The Godfather of the Notorious Clan is seething with anger. His rage rolls off him in waves and Hansu almost regrets revealing the truth about Hewitt and Ferdinand.
But he quickly collects himself, as Pater is not a man who likes to emote.
“Hansu. The time has come for a new heir. Which means the time has come for you to repay me. I have shared with you my greatest gift, the gift of eternal youth. I knew someday the lineage I have chosen, so carefully guided might go sour–well, in the case of those boys, go good. So now it is up to you to bring forth life from your womb, life that is riddled with evil DNA so that my legacy may live on and live up to the Notorious name!”
“I never agreed to that!” Hansu insists, throwing her arms up in protest.
“You never agreed to anything. I told you about this magical pool and you said ‘take me to it.’ Did it never occur to you that this situation was quid pro quo? Listen to me. The duality of those boys’ natures will leave them crippled between a world of good and evil. But your spawn will know nothing but the deepest desire to wreak havoc on all it surveys. I will personally see to it. Now I’m giving you a choice, little Hansu. Have a child or the fountain dries up.”
“Suppose I accept this deal. Where am I supposed to find a willing mate?” Hansu queries.
“Entirely up to you, my dear. Just try to avoid a good-hearted soul, I don’t need that element of the gene pool involved. You may return to this spot all you desire but until you produce an heir, the effects of the water will be nullified.” Having made that declaration, Pater disappears into the woods as stealthily as he appeared and Hansu is left alone to make her choice.
But their truly was no choice to be made. For once one began to drink from the Fountain of Youth, there was no turning back. In fact, Hansu knew she must get to work on finding a man for she did not want too much time to pass before she could sip from the rejuvenating waters again. She slyly considers all the eligible bachelors in her town…which one? Which one would it be?