“Obssessions” [PG-13] – Chapter 6

“OBSSESSIONS”

Part 6

Around the same time that Phoebe was experiencing her premonition, DeWolfe Mann sat in front of the computer on his desk. He was busy preparing question that he planned to use for the Bruce McNeill interview. 

“Question number four,” he muttered to himself. The columnist paused momentarily. “Okay. Question four – who provided the bulk of your training in . . .”

The doorbell interrupted DeWolfe’s musings. He heaved an impatient sigh. The last thing he wanted or needed to deal with were visitors. If it was Rudy, he would simply have to be rude and ask his friend to leave. Again, the doorbell rang. “Coming!” DeWolfe cried out in a sharp voice.

The portly man struggled out of his chair – he really needed to lose some weight – and started toward the front door. The doorbell rang for the third time. “Dammit, I’m coming!” DeWolfe growled. He glanced through the peephole and saw two people standing in the hallway – a beautiful dark-haired woman who resembled the typical European model, and an anxious-looking, yet attractive man in his early thirties. “Yes, may I help you?”

“Signor Mann?” The woman spoke in a bell-like tone. Along with an Italian accent. “Signor Mann, my name is . . . Sophia Maganini and this is my assistant, Antony Cicero. I’m the editor of new magazine based in Roma called VITA BUENO. It is a magazine about luxury living that includes travel, houses, and food. May we speak?”

DeWolfe’s eyes lit up at the mention of the Italian capital. “Rome? Uh, what exactly does an Italian magazine want with me?”

“If you will please open the door, we will tell you,” Ms. Maganini replied. When DeWolfe failed to respond, she added, “Please signor, this is about a job offer from our magazine.”

Upon hearing the words, “job offer”, DeWolfe overcame his reluctance and opened the door. The columnist greeted the pair with a reserved smile. “Please, take a seat.” Ms. Maganini and Mr. Cicero sat down on the sofa. DeWolfe eased into a chair opposite them. “Well now,” he began, “what’s this about a job offer?”

* * * *

Ten minutes later, everything went to pieces. Or so it seemed to Nick. It had not started that way.

Portia’s lie about a job offer had managed to get them inside DeWolfe Mann’s apartment. Once inside, the succubus embellished upon her lie – jabbering away about a fictional Rome magazine on high living. All to convince Mann that the so-called “magazine” wanted him as the new food columnist or editor. Her lies had been so effective and detailed that even Nick almost found himself believing her. But when Mann began demanding more details about the job offer, it all went to pieces.

When Mann had asked for specific details about his job duties and salaries, Portia was unable to provide him answers. Suspicion finally gleamed in the columnist’s eyes and he demanded that the two visitors leave. Both Portia and Nick refused. Instead, the succubus attempted to seduce him. Use her power of seduction to control him. She failed, much to hers and Nick’s surprise.

The columnist stood up and stared at the succubus with disbelief. “What the hell is going on, here?” he angrily demanded. “Who are you people? Get out! Now!”

At that moment, Nick decided to take matters into his own hands. After standing up, he reached inside his jacket pocket for the switchblade he kept handy for self-protection. He removed the knife from his pocket, snapped it open and slashed the columnist’s throat in a lightening move.

Blood gushed out from Mann’s throat, while his mouth made a gurgling sound. He swayed on his feet for a few seconds, before he finally dropped to the floor. Dead.

“Ohmigod!” The phrase left Nick’s mouth the moment Mann hit the floor. “Ohmigod! What have I done?” He stared at the dead body in horror.

The doorbell rang. A voice from the door called out, “Wolfie? Are you home?”

“Ohmigod!”

Portia sharply ordered Nick to shut up and get a hold of himself. “What you’ve done is killed a man. And with great skill, I may add.”

“Great skill?” Nick glared at the succubus. “Don’t you understand? I’ve killed a human!”

The doorbell rang again. Followed by knocking on the door. Portia sighed. “Let me see if I understand this. You had summoned me to kill a human male in the slowest way possible and now you’re having a fit over slitting another man’s throat? Humans! I will never understand you.”

“Wolfie!” the voice from behind the door cried. “Are you home?”

Panic engulfed the Streghone. He immediately recognized the owner of the voice. It belonged to Phoebe Halliwell. “We have to get out of here!” he hissed. “Fast!”

Portia frowned. “Why? Are we in a hurry? I can take care of whomever is outside.”

Again the doorbell rang. “Hello? Wolfie?”

Nick shot back, “That’s Phoebe Halliwell! One of the Charmed Ones!”

“Charmed what?”

Nick grabbed the succubus’ hand. “Please! Let’s get out of here! Now!” Portia gave a somewhat nonchalant shrug of her shoulders, before she and Nick disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

* * * *

Phoebe pressed her ear against the door. “I don’t hear anything,” she commented. “At least not now. What’s going on in there?” She pressed the doorbell. No one answered. “Okay, that’s it. You’ll have to orb us inside,” she said to her younger sister.

Paige protested. “Wait a minute! What if your friend is in there? What if he’s . . .?”

“We’re just going to have to take the chance.” Phoebe grabbed Paige’s hand. “C’mon.”

Heaving a sigh, Paige orbed herself and Phoebe out of the hallway and inside the middle of DeWolfe Mann’s living room. Phoebe glanced around, until she spotted a body sprawled on the floor behind her and Paige. Judging from the wide eyes, staring lifelessly ahead and the scarlet slash across the neck, there seemed to be no doubt that the columnist was dead. Phoebe knelt beside her former colleague. “Oh no!” she bemoaned. “We’re too late!”

Paige responded with a heartfelt, “Ugh!” As Phoebe reached out to touch the body, the younger woman grabbed her arm. “Phoebe! Don’t touch him! Don’t touch anything! You might leave . . . fingerprints.”

“I have to do something! Maybe I can find out who killed him through a premonition.”

“But you already had a premonition about this and you didn’t see the killer’s face.” Paige frowned. “Which is strange, when I think about it.” She looked at her sister. “Why didn’t you see the killer’s face?”

Phoebe sighed. “I don’t know, Paige. Maybe I had cut off the vision before I got the chance. I think we better call the police.”

Doubt clouded Paige’s dark eyes. “And tell them what? How we found a dead body inside a locked apartment?”

An impatient Phoebe added, “Then we’ll call Darryl.”

“Pheebs, he’s probably off-duty by now. And so is Olivia. And how do we know they’ll be assigned to the case? And I certainly don’t see them trying to explain how they knew about your friend’s body. The best we can do is . . .” Paige paused. Someone was knocking on the door. “God! Who is that?”

A voice from the other side of the door cried out, “Hello? Is anyone there? Mr. Mann?”

Paige grabbed Phoebe’s arm. “Let’s get out of here!” The person in the hallway continued to knock. “C’mon Phoebe!”

Phoebe protested, “Wait a minute! We can’t leave! My fingerprints! They’re on the door, outside. And on the doorbell!”

The knocking continued. “We’ll get rid of it, once that person leaves to call the cops! “Let’s go!” The two sisters orbed out of the apartment.

* * * *

cell phone rang, cutting through the chatter inside the Top of the Mark restaurant, at the Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill. Darryl automatically slipped a hand inside his jacket pocket and reached for his own.

“Darryl,” his wife warned, “don’t answer that call.”

Realizing that it had not been his cell phone ringing, Darryl shook his head. “Relax. It’s not mine. See?” He pointed at another customer, who seemed to be talking to her cell phone. “Besides, what if it was a call from the babysitter? About the kids?”

Sheila calmly reminded him that their babysitter had the number to ‘her’ cell phone. She gently took hold of his hand. “Besides, we’re supposed to be celebrating your new promotion, tonight. Privately.” She smiled.

Darryl returned his wife’s smile with his own. “Yeah, you’re right. It’s a good thing Olivia and Cole had treated me to lunch, today. Or this celebration would not have been so private.”

“Where did they take you?” Sheila asked.

“Morgan’s,” the newly promoted lieutenant replied. “And man, was that some lunch!” Darryl went on to describe the appearance of the new ADA, Paul Margolin, and the ensuing tension between him and Cole. “And if that wasn’t bad enough,” he continued, “Phoebe showed up with her new boyfriend.”

Sheila frowned. “You mean Jason Dean? The new owner of the BAY-MIRROR?”

“Yeah,” Darryl said, nodding. “It turns out that he and Olivia used to date a few years ago.”

“You’ve got to be kidding!”

Darryl shook his head. “I wish I were.”

Sheila added, “I wish I had been there. I bet Cole forgot all about Olivia and this new ADA, when he saw Phoebe with her new boyfriend.”

“Actually, I don’t think he was really concerned about Pho . . .” Darryl paused, as his eyes spotted a familiar figure sitting at the bar. “Well, what do you know? There’s Cole.”

Sheila asked, “Is he with Olivia?” She turned around to glance at the bar.

Shaking his head, Darryl replied, “Doesn’t look like it. I think he’s . . .” The police office saw a beautiful-looking blonde woman approach the half-demon. “I was about to say that he’s alone. But not anymore, it seems.”

Husband and wife breathlessly watched Cole, as he responded to the blonde’s attention with great interest. “Now, this is interesting,” Sheila commented.

“It’s nothing,” Darryl said, trying to assure himself. “Women come on to Cole all the time. Hell, both Olivia and Phoebe have complained about it.”

Sheila murmured, “I know how they feel.”

Darryl shot his wife a mock glare. “As I was about to say,” he continued, “In the end, both Olivia and Phoebe had nothing to worry about. And I’m certain that Cole isn’t interested in this woman.”

To Darryl’s surprise, Cole paid for his drink and followed the blonde out of the restaurant. “Well now,” Sheila said in her usual sardonic tone, “looks like he was interested, after all.”

* * * *

“Hmmmm.” The moan filled Cole’s ears. Seconds passed before he realized that it had came from his mouth. His eyes blinked open. He shot into a sitting position. “Olivia?” he muttered. The maroon-colored sheet that covered his torso, slipped to his waist.

Cole glanced around the bedroom with glazed eyes and realized that he was alone. Much to his relief. That meant Mary or whatever her name was, must have . . . His eyes spotted a pile of clothes on the floor. His clothes and those that belonged to a woman.

“Hey! You’re finally awake!” A beautiful, blond woman with gray eyes, came out of the bathroom, wearing a half-slip, pantyhose and nothing else. She greeted Cole with a smile. “Good morning!” Cole stared at her. “It’s me, Monica.”

Feeling even more dazed, Cole managed to grunt a low-key, “Morning. Uh, I, uh . . .” He shook his head. “Um, how long have you . . . have you been up?”

“Only a few minutes.” Ma-Monica’s smile became sultry. “I must say – you really know how to exhaust a lady. I didn’t think I was going to wake up.”

Embarrassment, panic and maybe just a touch of pride, whirled within Cole’s brain. “I . . . uh, thanks. Listen, can I make you some breakfast?”

Monica, or whatever her name was, reached down to the floor and picked up a bra. She proceeded to put it on. “Thanks, but no thanks. There’s a Starbucks just down the street. I can pick up a roll and coffee on my way to work.” She picked up her blouse.

“Oh. Okay.” Cole began to climb out of the bed, when he realized that he was completely nude. Great. He tightened the sheet around his waist. Then it hit him. Monica would probably expect him to call her for another date. Something he had no desire to do. He glanced up and noticed that his guest was now fully dressed.

The blonde woman grabbed her purse and coat. “Well, I better get going. It was nice . . .” Another sultry smile slid across her face. “. . . meeting you. Maybe we’ll meet again, someday.” She turned away.

“Uh, wait a minute!” Cole called after her. Ma-Monica paused. “Your phone number. I don’t have it.”

Panic filled Monica’s blue eyes. “Oh. Um, that’s okay. I’ll just give you a call. Bye!” She flashed a brief smile and disappeared from the bedroom. And out of Cole’s life. He hoped.

Cole heaved a relieved sigh. He wondered how long he would be waiting for Monica’s call. Then it struck him. He had never given her his telephone number. Either she had lied about him satisfying her in bed (God forbid!) or she had only been interested in a one-night stand. Cole hoped the latter.

Before he could crawl out of bed, the telephone on the stand, next to the bed, rang. Cole reached for the receiver. “Hello?”

A tearful voice filled his ear. “Cole? Is this you?”

Cole frowned. The voice sounded familiar. “Yeah. Who’s this?”

A few more sobs followed before the voice replied, “Deborah Mann. Oh God! It’s about my brother, Wolfie.”

Now Cole remembered. Deborah Mann. She was a well-known broker in San Francisco’s financial circles. And she also happened to be DeWolfe’s sister – and Cole’s other client from the Mann family. “Deborah, is there something wrong?”

More sobs followed. “Oh God! I’ve been trying to get in touch with you, since last night.” Cole felt a touch of guilt. “My brother . . . Wolfie . . . was found dead, last night. Murdered!”

Cole took a deep breath. Shit! A dead client. He finally collected himself and offered his condolences to the grieving woman. “Deborah, I’m so sorry. I’ll be over as soon as possible.”

END OF PART 6

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