A chestnut-haired man in his early thirties sat in the chair on the other side of Olivia’s desk, at the police station. His blue-gray eyes regarded her with disbelief. “I can’t believe that you actually did that to him!” he exclaimed. “And lived! Livy, what the hell were you thinking?”
Olivia heaved a sigh and flipped open a brown folder. “I don’t know. He pissed me off. Made me seem like some kind of woman who was desperate for a man. Another Geraldine Boone.” She referred to a woman who lived in her apartment building. “Look, I was just trying to be a friend. He didn’t have to turn on me, like that.”
“He really must have pissed you off, considering that you showed up for work on a Saturday. Besides, what did you expect?” Bruce McNeill reached for a Japanese fan from his sister’s desk and fiddled with it. “From what you’ve told me, he just went through a divorce. His ex-wife and her sisters regard him as the devil incarnate. And considering that he happens to be . . .” Bruce quickly glanced around, “. . . a half-daemon, that might not far from the truth. Maybe you should consider Darryl’s warning and stay away.”
“Warning?” Olivia snorted with derision. “First of all, I have every intention of staying away from him. Second, if you think he’s going to kill me, he had every opportunity to do so for the past two days.”
Bruce sighed. “I guess you have a point. He did save your life. Rather odd for the infamous Belthazor. And that includes falling in love with one of the Charmed Ones. I understand that he even helped them vanquish a lot of daemons and warlocks?”
Olivia nodded. “Including the old Source. At least according to Leo.”
“Maybe so,” Bruce replied, “but didn’t he eventually become the new Source? At least for a while?”
“Yes Bruce, he did.” Olivia gave her older brother a direct stare. “Is this leading up to more advice that I should stay away from him? Because you don’t have to worry about that.”
Suspicion gleamed in Bruce’s eyes. “Do I? I know you, Livy. You can be very nosy. And you know what they say – ‘Curiosity killed the cat’. I don’t want to see you hurt, again.”
Olivia rolled her eyes. “Curiosity killed the cat? Couldn’t you be a little more original? And if you’re referring to Richard, may I remind you that he wasn’t a daemon. Nor was he the one who had hurt me in the end. Besides,” she slammed the file shut and reached for another one, “are you sure that we have to beware of Mr. Turner?”
Bruce frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Well, from what Leo had told me, the Charmed Ones had vanquished him last May. Since his resurrection, he hasn’t bothered to get revenge. Don’t you find that odd?” Before Bruce could answer, Olivia changed the subject. “Speaking of the Charmed Ones, has Gran asked them over for Sunday brunch, yet?”
“Yeah, but they haven’t accepted. At least not yet. Harry doesn’t think they will.” Bruce referred to the youngest McNeill sibling.
Olivia sighed. “Harry might have a point. When I met them the other day, they didn’t strike me as the socializing types. They seemed to keep to themselves.”
Bruce replied, “Perhaps they don’t want their identities known.”
“You mean by other witches? It’s not like we’re going to declare to the world that they’re Charmed Ones.”
Bruce could only respond with a shrug. Then he added, “It’s strange that you would end up meeting Prue’s sisters after all these years. Strange that none of us ever became close, considering that their grandmother and ours were close friends.”
Olivia remained silent. A uniformed cop approached her desk, wearing a concerned expression. “Excuse me, Inspector.”
The cop continued, “We just received a call about a dead body found in Candlestick Park.”
“What does this have to do with me?” Olivia asked.
“Well, there’s a chance he was killed in the same manner as the person found in Lafayette Park, last Wednesday.”
Olivia’s interest perked. She shot a glance at Bruce. “Oh? Same weapon?”
The uniformed cop shook his head. “The officer on the scene isn’t sure, ma’am. But he thought you might want to check it out.” He left.
Sister and brother stared at each other. “You think the Charmed Ones may have stumbled across another warlock?” Olivia asked.
Bruce shrugged. “Perhaps. Or else this victim might be a witch. Mind if I join you?”
“Sure. It’s not everyday that I have a sous chef accompany me to a crime scene.” Olivia stood up and grabbed her jacket. Her brother did the same and the pair headed out of the squad room.
* * * *
Saturday evening settled around the Halliwell Manor. Piper bustled about the kitchen, as she prepared a light dinner for her family. At least for three of them. Paige had a date tonight and Piper decided that a light dinner would probably be sufficient for her, Leo and Phoebe.
Speaking of Leo, her whitelighter husband materialized in the middle of the kitchen. Piper was not taken by surprise. She had been expecting him for the past hour or so. However, the worried expression on his face did surprise her.
“Hey Leo.” She planted a light kiss on her husband’s cheek. Leo did not bother to return the kiss. “Leo? Is there something wrong?”
A frown creased the whitelighter’s brow. “I have some bad news,” he said. “Are Phoebe and Paige around?”
“Yeah. Pheebs is in the Solarium. And Paige is getting ready for a date.”
Leo started out of the kitchen. “I need to speak to them, as well. Phoebe! Paige!”
Piper followed her husband to the Solarium. There, they found Phoebe sitting in one of the wicker chairs, watching television. Paige appeared a minute later. “What’s up?” the latter drawled. She wore a knee-length aqua-blue dress with a halter top and matching heels. The perfect outfit for a night on the town.
Leo turned to the three sisters. His expression was grave. “I had been summoned by Olivia and Bruce McNeill today,” he announced. “They were at the police station this morning, when a call came in about a body found in Candlestick Park. Bruce recognized the victim as a fellow witch named Vincent Farrar and he had been stabbed by a dagger. Vincent had a fire power. A pyrokinetic.”
Paige frowned. “Fire power? I didn’t know that witches can have a fire power.”
Phoebe ignored her and said to Leo. “Does Olivia have any idea who killed him?”
Leo sighed. “Olivia thinks the killer might have been another warlock. Which means that he or she now has a fire power. And this warlock might be from the same coven as the one you had killed, last Wednesday.”
“Doesn’t she know where this coven can be found?” Piper demanded.
“Sorry. She and Bruce tried scrying for any of the warlocks, but it was a no go,” Leo said with a shrug.
Paige suggested that they scry for the coven. “Nothing like a little Power of Three to get things going. Or maybe we should use a spell to summon one of them. Or transport us to where they are at.”
“We can try scrying for them,” Piper replied. “But I don’t think the transport idea is a good one. Especially if we don’t have any idea where we’ll end up.”
Leo added, “Maybe you should work with the McNeills on this one. A coven of warlocks attacking powerful witches and no one can track them? This sounds pretty serious.”
Piper brushed aside her husband’s suggestion. She loved Leo, but he could a little skittish, sometimes. Too cautious. “I’m sure that a quick scry by us will do the trick. Paige, get the crystal, will you?”
While Paige left to fetch the crystal, Piper and the other two headed over to where a map of San Francisco laid stretched on a table. “Okay,” Paige said, as she hung the crystal over the map, “here we go. Warlocks, warlocks. Where are they?” The crystal continued to hover, but after several seconds, it failed to pinpoint nothing. “Maybe Olivia was mistaken about warlocks attacking the witches. Maybe they’re demons.”
“I don’t think so,” Leo replied. “Olivia recognized both the warlock that Phoebe killed and the one whom Cole had saved her from, as part of the Crozat Coven from her Book of Shadows. She had encountered one several years ago.”
A concerned Phoebe agreed with Leo. “Maybe we should work with the McNeills. Olivia seemed to be more familiar with this coven.”
Piper sighed. As much as she disliked the idea of working with strangers, she realized that both Leo and Phoebe made sense. “All right,” she said. “I’ll call Mrs. McNeill and tell her that we accept her invitation to Sunday brunch.” Piper paused. “Does anyone remember her telephone number?”
* * * *
Olivia’s low heels clicked on the concrete ground, as she strode across the building’s underground parking lot. It was late Sunday morning and she was on her way to her parents’ home for the family’s traditional Sunday brunch.
Once she reached her dark blue BMW convertible, Olivia clicked off the alarm. Then she placed a wrapped square pan on the passenger seat. She then climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine. Only the damn thing refused to start.
Olivia muttered an oath under her breath. Again, she switched on the engine. And again, failure. She smacked her hand against the steering wheel in anger. It seemed she would have to call Bruce or Harry to give her a ride to the McNeill manor. Heaving a sigh, Olivia reached inside her purse for the cell phone.
“Is there a problem?” a soft, masculine voice asked. Olivia glanced up and saw Cole Turner looming beside her convertible. He glanced down and smiled. “Hi. Car trouble?”
Olivia eyed the newcomer warily. Her mind conjured up images of the irrate neighbor, the reluctant savior and the rude bastard she had met over the past several days. And it seemed she was about to become acquainted with a new facet of Cole Turner’s personality.
“Nothing I can’t handle,” Olivia coolly replied. “Is there something you need?”
Cole peered into the passenger seat. “No, I . . . uh, I spotted you from the elevator and decided to say hi.” He pointed at the food on the car seat. “Going to a party?”
“Not quite. More like a family’s Sunday brunch.” Olivia added, “Those are sandwich loaves, by the way.” Cole stared at her. “You seemed interested.”
An embarrassed cough left Cole’s mouth. “Well, I can only guess that it tastes as good as your Floating Island. Which was quite delicious, by the way. Too bad most of it ended in my face.” He chuckled slightly.
Olivia winced out of sheer embarrassment. “Oh God! I’m sorry about that,” she said in a contrite voice. “It was a childish way to lose my temper.”
“Actually, I should apologize,” Cole quietly interjected. “I was pretty rude that night.” A half-hearted attempt at another chuckle followed. “Very rude, as a matter of fact. I, uh . . . I had an unpleasant conversation with Phoe. . . uh, my ex-wife. I guess I was in a bad mood that night.”
An understanding smile tugged at Olivia’s lips. “That’s okay. Apology accepted.” Her frown returned as she diverted her attention back to her car. “Now if I can just get this car started.” She made one last attempt to switch on the engine. And once more, she failed. “Dammit! I knew I should have got this damn engine fixed when I had the chance.”
“Need a lift?” Cole asked.
Olivia sighed from sheer relief. She glanced up at him with pleading eyes. “Would you mind? I’m going to 231 Pacific Avenue.”
“Not at all.” Cole helped her out of the car. Olivia reached inside to remove her sandwich loaves from the passenger’s seat. “I was about to go for a drive. But I could get you to wherever you’re going a lot faster.”
“Teleporting? As in shimmering?”
Cole stared at her. “How did you . . .? Never mind. By the way, I haven’t shimmered in about a year. I sort of blur or beam now.”
Olivia gave him a wide. “Really? I haven’t been teleported to another place in ten months. This should be interesting.” She relished the astonished expression on Cole’s face as they disappeared from the parking lot.
* * * *
One second later, Cole and Olivia appeared in front of a three-story Mission Revival manor. It stood on hill that overlooked San Francisco Bay. Cole was impressed. Very impressed. There was also something very familiar about this place.
“This is where your parents live?” he asked.
Olivia nodded. “The McNeills have owned the house for the past 127 years. It was one of the first homes built in this neighborhood. Before the 1906 earthquake.” Cole followed her up the verandah’s stairs and toward the front door. Olivia rang the doorbell.
The pair waited only a few seconds before a dark-suited man in his mid-fifties answered the door. “Oh, Miss Olivia! You’re here.” Cole immediately recognized his Welsh accent.
“Good morning, Davies,” she replied, as she brushed past the manservant. Cole followed. “Is everyone here?”
Davies replied, “Yes, miss. And we also have . . .”
“Hey sis! You finally made it!” A tall young man in his mid-twenties appeared in the foyer. Like Olivia, he possessed red hair and green eyes. And he had the looks that one would describe as boyishly handsome.
Olivia gave the young man a hug. “Hey Harry! Long time no see. How was London?”
Harry shrugged. “Not bad.” His eyes fell upon Cole. “Who’s your guest?”
“Oh. I’d like you to meet Cole Turner.” When Harry’s eyes grew wide, Olivia nodded. “Yep, he’s that Cole Turner. The one who saved me last Thursday.”
Harry’s face turned pale. “Oh.”
“What’s the matter?” a frowning Olivia asked. “You look as if you’ve seen a ghost. Or worse. Where is everyone? In the garden?”
The young man replied reluctantly, “Well, yeah. But I should tell you . . .” Olivia pushed past him before he could finish. “Olivia!” Oblivious to her brother’s cry, the redhead continued across the foyer. Cole realized he had no choice but to follow close behind. “Gee, Livy! Can’t you even wait until I finish?”
With Cole still following, Olivia marched into a spacious sitting room, filled with elegant and very expensive furnishings. Instead of stopping, Olivia continued toward a pair of French door. She swung them open, stepped outside and stopped short. Cole overheard her murmur, “Oh!”
“What’s wrong?” he asked. Cole peered over Olivia’s shoulder. The sight that greeted his eyes nearly caused his heart to stop.
A woman who resembled a middle-aged version of Olivia rose from a wicker chair to greet the newcomers. “Olivia, darling! You finally made it! I was beginning to wonder.” The woman climbed a pair of stairs that led to the terrace where Cole, Olivia and her brother now stood. She hugged the younger woman and then her green eyes rested upon Cole with deep interest. “Who’s this?” she asked. “Have we met, before?” Cole noticed that she also spoke with a Welsh accent.
“Mom, this is Cole Turner. The same Cole who had saved me from that warlock, last Thursday night,” Olivia announced.
Green eyes grew wide. “Oh! So you’re . . .” Realization crept into those eyes. “Oh. I . . .” Olivia’s mother glanced at the figures below her. The McNeills and Cole descended the small staircase and approached the others,who now sat in chairs around a garden.
One figure stood up and eyed Cole with familiar suspicion. “What the hell is he doing here?” accused one Paige Matthews.
Olivia’s mother smiled wanly. “Sorry about that, Livy. I forgot to tell you that we have . . . visitors.”
Cole took a deep breath and glanced at his ex-wife and former in-laws. “I guess I better get going,” he muttered.
Olivia placed a free hand on his arm. “Wait a minute! Not before I introduce you to my family.” She nodded at the older woman. “This is my mother, Gweneth Morgan McNeill. And you’ve also met my younger brother, Harry.” The red-haired man shook hands with Cole.
Two other men stood up to greet the half-daemon. Both stood at six feet tall and possessed chestnut-brown hair, blue-gray eyes and rugged good looks. One of them reached Cole first. He was older, at least in his early or mid-fifties. And there seemed to be a dangerous gleam in his eyes that struck a familiar note with Cole. “Hi, I’m Jack McNeill, Olivia’s father.” American accent. “It’s nice to meet you again, after all these years.”
Cole stared into the man’s face. Memories from the past flooded his brain. Of a cunning male witch who nearly got the best of him some twenty-five years ago. Frowning, he asked, “Have we met before?”
A knowing smile stretched Jack McNeill’s lips. He offered his hand. “London, June 1977. You were trying to steal an amulet from a friend of mine and my wife and I helped her set a trap for you.”
Stunned by the realization, Cole absently shook McNeill’s hand. “Oh yeah. Now I remember. You nearly killed me. I barely got away with my life.”
“Sorry about that.” McNeill gave a quick shrug. “At least you got away.” He turned to the younger version of himself. “Oh, this is my son, Bruce. Bruce McNeill.”
The younger McNeill shook Cole’s hand. “Nice to meet you. Thanks for saving Livy’s life, the other day. And this,” he indicated a pretty blond woman, who sat in one of the garden’s chairs, “is my fiancée, Barbara Bowen.” Cole nodded at the woman.
“Nice to meet you all,” he finally said.
Olivia nodded at the Halliwells. “I guess you know who they are. No need to introduce them.”
Cole shot another glance at Phoebe and the others. “Well, I guess it’s time for me to leave. I uh. . .”
Gweneth McNeill spoke up. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay? We have plenty of . . .”
“Who’s this?” a soft voice from behind, asked. Cole, Olivia and Harry whirled around. Behind them stood a petite woman with a silvery hair and blue-gray eyes. Cole figured her to be at least in her early or mid-seventies. He also realized that she must have been a beauty in her day. Her eyes gleamed with interest at the newcomer.
Olivia replied, “Hi Gran! This is the guy who saved me a few days, ago. Cole Turner. Cole, this is my grandmother, Elise Collins McNeill.”
“So this is the famous Belthazor,” Elise McNeill declared. Cole noticed how her family winced at her bluntness. But he did not mind. He could not find any hostility in her tone. Only interest.
Cole flashed a quick smile. “Belthazor has been gone for about a year, now. Just call me Cole.”
“Really? But aren’t you a daemon again?”
Olivia cried out in protest, “Gran!”
Mrs. McNeill rolled her eyes. “Oh please! It’s a perfectly legitimate question.”
“I don’t know about that,” Cole replied. He heard a scoff from one the Halliwells. Piper. “But I do have new demonic powers. It’s a long story.” He was amused by the woman’s directness. In a way, she reminded him of Olivia. He shot another look at his former in-laws and his smile disappeared.
Mrs. McNeill patted his arm. “Well, I’d love to hear it.”
“So would I,” Jack McNeill added. “Why don’t you stay for brunch?”
The McNeills, including Olivia, stared at Cole with expectation. Cole had not felt this welcomed since . . . well, since he and Phoebe first started dating. Nor did he recall the Halliwells sharing her feelings. Once more, he glanced at the Charmed Ones and Leo. “Uh, I’d like to, but I had other plans.”
“Oh.” Mrs. McNeill’s eyes expressed disappointment. Then she glanced at the Halliwells. “I see. Well, how about Tuesday night?”
Cole glanced at Olivia, whose eyes looked hopeful. The other McNeills seemed to feel just the same. Why were they so interested in him? To satisfy their curiosity? Or maybe they felt grateful to him for saving Olivia’s life. What the hell! “I’d love to accept. What time should I come?”
Smiling, Olivia replied, “Seven o’clock. We can come together.” Cole’s brows rose at the double meaning of her words. Her cheeks turned pink. “Uh . . . you know what I mean.”
“Yeah. Well, I’ll see you all on Tuesday.” Cole gave them a polite smile and quickly made his escape.
END OF PART 4
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