“RETURN WITH VENGEANCE”
Olivia and Cecile strode inside the police squad room, attracting admiring glances from the former’s co-workers. And a hard stare from her partner.
Darryl stabbed a finger at the squad room’s clock. “Do you see that?” he demanded. “Exactly what time is it?”
“Eight after ten,” Olivia coolly replied. “And if you’re trying to point out that I’m late, don’t bother. I had called the Captain and told him that I would be late, this morning.”
Darryl’s shoulder’s sagged. “Thanks a lot. And I was about to give you a good tongue lashing.” His eyes fell upon Cecile. “Who’s this?”
“This is my friend, Cecile Dubois,” Olivia answered.
“Oh? The one from New Orleans?” Darryl nodded at the other woman. “Hey, nice to meet you. I’m Olivia’s partner, Darryl Morris.”
For the first time, Olivia noticed that her friend seemed to be in a trance. Frowning, she gave Cecile a slight jab in the side. “Cecile? This is Darryl Morris, my partner,” she repeated.
“Huh?” Cecile blinked. “Oh, nice to meet you.” Her eyes roamed appreciatively over the tall man, as she shook his hand.
Knowing what was on her friend’s mind, Olivia quickly hissed into the latter’s ear, “He’s married.”
“I see the wedding ring,” Cecile hissed back.
Darryl’s gaze shifted between the two women. “What are you whispering about?”
Cecile quickly replied, “Nothing. Well, it’s nice to finally meet you, Darryl.” Once again, there seemed to be a glazed expression on her face.
Both Olivia and Darryl stared at her. “Is there something wrong?” the latter asked. “You seemed a bit . . . I don’t know. Preoccupied?”
Cecile flashed a quick smile – one that seemed much too bright to suit Olivia. “No, no! I’m fine. I was . . . uh, just thinking of some errands I have to run. A little shopping.” She turned to Olivia. “Livy, mind if I borrow your car, today? I’ll pick you up, this afternoon. What time do you get off?”
Taken aback by her friend’s mercurial behavior, Olivia hesitated before she answered, “Uh, around four-thirty. Don’t forget that we’ll be having dinner with my parents, tonight.” She began digging into her purse for her keys. “Are you sure that you’re okay, Cecile?”
“I’m fine. Just a little tired. After I finish shopping, I’m going to take a long afternoon nap.” Cecile smiled as Olivia handed her the keys. “Well, I’ll see you later. Nice meeting you, Darryl.” And she strode out of the squad room.
The two partners continued to stare at Cecile’s retreating form. Darryl turned to Olivia. “What was that about?” he asked.
Olivia shrugged. “I have no idea. Maybe she’s just tired.” Then she recalled the gasp Cecile made when the latter first met Cole. “Then again . . .” Still deep in thought, she headed for her desk.
Darryl followed. “Then again . . . what?” He eased into the chair, behind his desk and leaned forward. “You know, she reminds me of Phoebe Halliwell, a little. Especially when Phoebe would get a premonition.” He paused and frowned. “Is your friend . . . like you? And the Halliwells?”
After a moment’s pause, Olivia shook her head. “No, not quite.”
“What do you mean . . . not quite?”
Olivia glanced around to make sure there were no eavesdroppers. “Cecile is a Vodoun priestess, not a witch. Her family practices Vodoun.”
Darryl frowned. “Practice what?”
Olivia leaned forward and hissed, “Vodoun. Otherwise known in Hollywood circles as Voodoo.”
Darryl’s eyes grew wide with horror. “Are you kidding ME?” His voice boomed throughout the squad room, attracting stares. He sighed and lowered his voice. “If she practices this . . . what exactly are her powers?”
“Telepathy and premonitions.”
Darryl stood up. “That’s it. Something is wrong. I don’t know, but if your friend is the same as Phoebe, something doesn’t bode well for me. Let’s go. Maybe we can catch up with her in the parking lot.” He grabbed his jacket and started toward the door.
Heaving a sigh, Olivia slid out of her chair, grabbed her jacket and followed her partner out of the squad room.
* * * *
The intercom on Cole’s desk buzzed. His secretary, Eleanor, announced, “Your eleven o’clock appointment has arrived, Mr. Turner.”
“Okay, Eleanor. Thanks. Send her in.”
Eleanor replied crisply, “Yes, Mr. Turner.” Over a month ago, Barbas, the Demon of Fear had plotted to steal his powers, by manipulating his mind. The former tricked Cole into believing that Lauren, his first secretary, was actually an unforgiving Phoebe bent upon convincing him that he was evil. In a desperate attempt to cease what he believed to be Phoebe’s endless words, Cole nearly strangled Lauren. He eventually managed to convince both Lauren and his bosses that some stranger at a party he had attended the night before, had drugged his drink with a hallucinogenic. Thanks to a police officer working on a case involving recent assaults upon wealthy partygoers, the firm’s owners and Laurel seemed willing to accept Cole’s explanation. Laurel also accepted Cole’s apology. But she refused to continue as his secretary. Cole did not blame her. Instead of crying over spilled milk, he decided hired someone new upon his return to the firm. Namely Eleanor.
The door to his office swung open and Eleanor escorted a beautiful woman with pale skin, dark eyes and dark shoulder-length hair inside. Cole’s eyes swept appreciatively over the visitor’s lithe figure and elegant appearance. A scent of orange blossoms surrounded her. Not bad at all, he thought. She could prove to be quite interesting for a night or two on the town.
Cole flashed a smile at his new visitor. “Good morning, Miss . . .?”
“Mrs. Maxwell. Suzanne Maxwell.” She smiled and offered her hand to Cole. “And you’re Mr. Cole Turner, I believe?”
“Just call me Cole. Why don’t you have a seat?” Cole indicated one of the empty chairs on the other side of his desk. He turned to his secretary. “Eleanor, why don’t you get Mrs. Maxwell a drink? A . . .?”
The new client spoke up. “I’d like a cup of coffee, thank you very much. And you can call me Suzanne.” Again, she smiled. It struck Cole odd that her voice reminded him of Olivia’s.
Once Eleanor left to fetch Suzanne her coffee, Cole settled in the leather chair behind his desk. “So,” he began, “how may I help you?”
Suzanne Maxwell explained that following a year after her husband’s death, she had decided to move to San Francisco. Not only was she interested in finding a new attorney to handle her affairs, but she also needed help in investing in property in the Bay Area. “Back in Vancouver,” she continued, “my husband and I had created a non-profit organization that provided housing and jobs for the needy. I would like to create something similar here in San Francisco.”
Cole took a deep breath. “Well, I can think of a few real estate agents you might consider meeting with. But first, let’s see about establishing your file with the firm.”
“Does that mean you will consider me as a client?” Suzanne leaned forward, her eyes wide and appealing. Orange blossoms filled Cole’s nostrils.
His lips curved into a smile. “I guess I can say yes. I’ll have Eleanor draw up a contract.”
Suzanne returned his smile that seemed to hint promise of something more than business. “That’s wonderful. Listen, why don’t we discuss this matter over dinner, tonight?
The idea of an evening with Suzanne Maxwell seemed appealing to Cole. He found her very attractive. And he could not recall spending a romantic evening with someone since his marriage to Phoebe, nearly nine months ago. Those evenings with Olivia had been spent with a close friend. Even if a part of him secretly wished it could be more.
Cole paused, as he contemplated his last thoughts. Did he just say . . .? “Mr. Turner? Cole?” Suzanne’s voice cut into his reverie. “About tonight?”
“Oh.” Cole remembered. He had been invited to join the McNeills for dinner, tonight – in honor of Cecile Dubois’ visit. “I’d love to join you for dinner, but I already have plans this evening,” he politely answered. “Perhaps tomorrow.”
The Canadian woman gave him a tight smile. “Perhaps.” A chill seemed to have settled in the office. It left Cole feeling very uneasy. Suzanne Maxwell seemed disappointed. Too disappointed, considering they had just met. And he wondered why.
* * * *
“Aren’t you supposed to be working right now?” Cecile asked. She, Darryl and Olivia stood next to the latter’s BMW convertible, in the middle of the station’s parking lot. The two inspectors had caught up with her, before she could leave.
Olivia sighed. “It’s Darryl. He’s worried that you had an odd reaction to meeting him. And he wants to know why.” She paused. “Quite frankly, so do I. You did seem a bit . . . distracted.”
“What are you talking about?”
Darryl Morris spoke in an urgent voice. “Olivia told me that you’re a witch like her. Only you practice Voodoo or something.”
“Vodoun,” Cecile automatically corrected.
“Yeah. She also told me that you receive premonitions. Visions of the future.” Darryl hesitated. “Did you see something when we first met?”
Cecile took a deep breath. She glanced at Olivia, who nodded. Oh well. “I didn’t see anything,” she said.
“What?” Both Olivia and Darryl had spoken at the same time.
“But I felt something,” Cecile continued. “I don’t know. Trouble. Impending doom. Something like that.”
Olivia frowned. “You didn’t have any vision? That’s strange. Is there a chance that your visions are being blocked?”
“By whom?” Cecile shot back, now feeling very concerned. “Or what?”
Inspector Morris interrupted with a frustrated cry. “Hey? Remember me? The one who might be facing impending doom?”
“Darryl, you don’t know that,” Olivia said, trying to reassure him. “Cecile doesn’t have to touch anything to receive a vision. For all we know, she had a vision about something else.”
The tall inspector looked doubtful. “Uh-huh. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll get confirmation from someone else. Maybe Phoebe can help.”
“Phoebe?” Cecile frowned. Who in the hell was this Phoebe?
Olivia answered for her. “Phoebe Halliwell. One of the Charmed Ones? Cole’s ex-wife. You know, the one who has premonitions.”
Now Cecile remembered. Obviously Darryl Morris believed that this Phoebe could receive a clearer vision. Perhaps she could. Cecile was not about to stand in his way. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to get a second opinion,” she finally said, feeling a bit put out, but hiding her feelings. “As for me, I have a few stores to visit. Starting with Macy’s. Excuse me, but I’ll see you both later.” Cecile climbed into the BMW.
As she steered the car out of the parking lot, Cecile’s thoughts returned to her recent premonition. Olivia must have guessed right. None of her premonitions have ever been so vague. At least not until she met Darryl Morris. Either there was something about his essence that blocked her vision, or the good inspector seemed destined to encounter something that might prove to be very powerful. Cecile hoped it was the former.
* * * *
Darryl knocked on the front door of the Halliwell Manor. A minute later, it swung open. In the doorway stood the middle Halliwell sister. “Darryl, hey! What are you doing here?”
“Hi Phoebe,” Darryl greeted. After spending a few hours on the DiMatteo case, he had convinced Olivia that they should pay Phoebe’s office at the SAN FRANCISCO BAY-MIRROR a visit. The two partners discovered that Phoebe was on vacation this week and that she could be found at the manor on Prescott Street. “I heard you were on vacation, this week.”
Phoebe shot Darryl a bright smile. “Yeah, Elise finally decided to emancipate me for a few days. I would have started yesterday, but I had some work to finish.” Her eyes shifted to Olivia and her smile disappeared. “Olivia.”
A small smile touched Olivia’s lips. “Phoebe. Nice to see you.”
The two visitors stepped inside the manor. Phoebe led them to the Sun Room. “So, what brings you two here?” she asked. Concern suddenly filled her dark eyes. “Is there something wrong? Piper? Paige?”
“More like Darryl,” Olivia responded laconically.
Phoebe frowned. “Huh?”
Darryl took a deep breath. He told her about Olivia’s friend . . . and the premonition the latter had recently experienced at the police station. “I wondered if you could get a clearer vision, since you’re stronger.”
“You don’t know that,” Olivia added. “Cecile is a very powerful psychic.”
Darryl shook his head. “But Cecile isn’t one of the most powerful witches of all time.”
“Maybe not among Wicca practitioners. But Cecile does not practice Wicca. She’s Vodoun.”
Olivia’s words fell upon deaf ears. Darryl returned his attention to Phoebe. “Could you give it a try? See if a premonition will come to you?”
Phoebe glanced uneasily at Olivia. Who remained silent. Firm determination gleamed in her eyes. “I’ll give it a shot. But I can’t guarantee anything. Give me your hand.”
Darryl allowed Phoebe to take hold of his hand. She closed her eyes. He could hear her breathing heavily. Then . . . a gasp escaped her mouth. “What?” he demanded.
“Nothing, except . . .” Phoebe’s eyes flew open. She heaved a deep breath. “I saw you in an alley, surrounded by onlookers, the police and paramedics. It looked as if you were at a crime scene. Both you and Olivia. And both of you were staring at the body of a Latino man. That’s it.”
A frown creased Darryl’s forehead. “That doesn’t sound like something foreboding,” he said. “Just another case to work on. Olivia’s friend told me that she had sensed something more serious.” A gust of breath left Darryl’s mouth. He saw a flash of doubt in Phoebe’s eyes. “Maybe she was imagining things,” he added.
Olivia opened her mouth to speak. Instead, she shook her head and looked away. Somehow, the gesture did not make Darryl feel any better.
* * * *
Edward Crozat’s eyes glowed with delight, as he stared at the small crate on his desk. “That’s it,” Ben Mallard declared. “The package you wanted. The Enigma had arrived in San Francisco, sometime before noon.”
“Well done!” Edward declared. “How did you know . . .?”
Mallard explained that a contact at one of the piers had alerted him to the ship’s arrival. “My . . . friend held it for me, until I could get there.” He paused before adding, “I had to pay him $5,000 of my own money.”
“Then you shall be compensated,” Edward added smoothly. Men, he decided, can be incredibly greedy. He had seriously considered killing the Customs agent. But as he had told Rudolf, Ben Mallard might prove to be useful in the future. Edward nodded at Cousin Henry, who opened the safe.
Henry returned to Edward’s desk, carrying a wad of bills. “Here you go, $67,000, plus an extra $5,000. All unmarked.” He stuffed the bills into a large yellow envelope. Just as Henry began to hand over the envelope to Mallard, a noise caught the attention of those inside the office.
Everyone turned to stare at the figure standing in the doorway. A janitor, whose eyes were fixed on the envelope in Cousin Henry’s hands. Edward’s eyes narrowed dangerously.
“Pardon me,” the janitor began nervously. “I didn’t realize . . .”
Henry’s hand shot up. Edward slapped it down before the former could use any magic. Then he gave the newcomer a polite smile. “Are you looking for someone?”
“Actually, I thought the office was empty. I came here to clean . . .”
“Rudolf, why don’t you show the man out?” Edward nodded at the young warlock. Who strode toward the nervous janitor. The latter’s eyes popped out, as Rudolf slammed a wicked-looking knife in the janitor’s gut.
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