“I have some good news,” Leo announced. He stood before the members of the Elders Council.
The grizzled Elder MacKenzie stared at the young whitelighter. “Good news, you say? What is it?”
“It concerns Olivia McNeill.” Leo paused. “She’s . . . uh, involved in a new romance. Well, not quite. I mean, she has become involved with someone other than Cole. A witch named Paul Margolin.”
Murmurs of approval filled the chamber. Elder Sylvester commented, “Paul Margolin. Isn’t he one of your charges? From a place called Buffalo, New York?”
Leo nodded. “Yes. He has recently moved to San Francisco and found a job as an Assistant District Attorney. I, uh . . . I had made arrangements for him and Olivia to meet. They hit it off immediately.” He added quickly, “But they’re only friends, at the moment.”
“What about Belthazor?” Elder Matilda asked. “How does he feel about this new situation?”
A quick shrug lifted Leo’s shoulders. “What can he do?”
“A lot of damage, I can imagine,” Elder Sylvester replied with some asperity. “What if he takes it upon himself to interfere with Miss McNeill’s new friend?”
Leo hesitated. “I don’t . . . I don’t think he will. I mean . . . if he was serious about Olivia, he would have tried something. And he hasn’t.”
“Are you saying that Belthazor is not in love with the McNeill witch?” MacKenzie demanded.
Leo shook his head. “I don’t think so. Not really. I believe that Cole is still in love with Phoebe. And that he was merely using Olivia as rebound. It looks as if his plans have backfired. Paige suspects that he might have been involved with other women.”
Sylvester rolled his eyes. “Wonderful! We have a licentious and powerful half-demon on our hands!”
“But the important thing is that he is not involved with the middle Charmed One or the new Bearer of the Aingeal Staff.” Matilda smiled at the young whitelighter. “Excellent job, Leo.”
Leo returned his returned his superior’s smile. “Thank you. Now if you’ll excuse me.” Once the Elders dismissed him, Leo turned on his heels and walked out of the Council chambers. He had not gone very far, when he became aware of someone following him. He turned around and found himself facing one of the Elders. “Your Eminence,” he greeted with a frown. “Is there something wrong?”
“It’s about Belthazor, Leo,” the Elder replied. “I have a few questions of my own. Is Ms. McNeill aware that you were the one who had recommended the new job to Mr. Margolin?”
“No,” Leo answered. “She doesn’t. But I think that Cole has suspicions.” He paused. “How did you . . . how did you know that a new position would be opened at the District Attorney’s Office?”
The older whitelighter smiled. “I didn’t. But I had made arrangement to send Mr. Margolin’s predecessor away. As for Belthazor,” a frown replaced the smile, “it looks as if he still might be a problem. Something will have to be done about him.”
“Like what? He’s too powerful. When Barbas had Cole’s powers, Piper and her sisters weren’t able to vanquish him. I don’t see how . . .”
The Elder interrupted. “And yet, not only was the youngest Charmed One able to create a potion to strip his powers, so were the Crozats.” The whitelighter paused. “Didn’t your Miss McNeill once had a theory on how to vanquish the Source, without the use of brute force?”
Leo replied, “Yeah, but I didn’t really think much of it at the time. Especially since Piper and the others were destined to vanquish the Source. Which they did.” He paused and stared at the elder whitelighter. “Are you suggesting that I . . .?”
“This new relationship between Miss McNeill and Mr. Margolin might not last, Leo. Even worse, despite what you say, Belthazor might genuinely be in love with her.” The Elder pinned Leo with an intense stare. “And we are all aware of the ramifications of a possible child between your witch and Belthazor. This child could end up being even more powerful than your son. And we cannot allow for that to happen. So, before those two can ever have a chance to . . . reconcile, I suggest that you do something about Belthazor.” A smile touched the Elder’s lips. “Perhaps Mr. Margolin can help.” The older whitelighter walked away.
Leo pressed his fingers against his temple. So much for his good mood. And now he was supposed to find a way to get rid of Cole. Permanently. Just how in the hell, he wondered, was he supposed to accomplish such a task?
* * * *
The black Porsche entered the precinct parking lot and made its way toward an empty space. Cole switched off the convertible’s engine and sighed. He glanced at the dashboard’s clock. It read eleven fifty-four. Just in time for Olivia’s lunch break.
He had meant to ask his neighbor out for lunch, yesterday evening. Unfortunately, his encounter with one powerful succubus – along with the self-righteous Paul Margolin – had left Cole exhausted. He had fallen asleep the moment his body hit the bed. Long before Olivia had arrived home.
So, here he sat inside his convertible, hoping to surprise Olivia with a lunch date. If all went well, lunch might eventually lead to dinner – and hopefully, something more intimate.
After removing his keys from the ignition, Cole climbed out of the convertible. He then stuffed the keys inside his trousers pocket and made his way toward the police station’s entrance. Once inside, an elevator conveyed him to the third floor, where the Investigative Division’s squad room. Cole finally reached his destination . . . and came across a scene that nearly froze his heart.
“Excuse me,” a woman said, as she brushed past Cole. She paused. Stared at him. “Excuse me, but are you looking for someone?”
Cole’s gaze remained fixed upon the sight of Olivia and Paul Margolin, staring into each other’s eyes. Smiling. The half-daemon’s expression hardened. “No,” he murmured. “I . . . she’s not here. The person I’m looking for.” He flashed a half-hearted smile, turned on his heels and left.