SUMMARY: Paige's boss attracts the attentions of an obsessive witch. Olivia becomes friends with one of Leo's charges. Set less than a week after "A Day in the Life of Paige Matthews".
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DISCLAIMER: Cole Turner, Darryl Morris, Leo Wyatt and the Charmed Ones and other characters are related to Charmed to Spelling Productions, Brad Kern and Constance Burge. The McNeills and a few other characters are my own creation.
The dark-haired man clumsily eased his blue Toyota Corolla into the small parking space. And sighed. He really needed to move - find an apartment building that offered a parking space. He was getting sick and tired of the daily struggle to find adequate space near his building.
After sighing once more, Nick Marcano grabbed his tote bag, climbed out of the Toyota and made his way to the Spanish Colonial-style apartment complex, several yards away. He hated his life. No, that was not true. Nick did not really hate his life. He simply found it boring. How could any man feel satisfied, living alone in a cramped apartment or driving a car that had seen better days, half a decade ago? How could a man find satisfaction in a tedious job as a low-level accountant at an investment firm? Or in a non-existent love life?
Nick entered the complex's courtyard and headed straight for the rows of mailboxes. He inserted a key into his mailbox and opened it. The sight of envelopes stuffed inside did nothing for his mood. He knew what they were. Bills and more bills that will drain most of his hard-earned wages. Dammit! What was the point in earning a living, when he could not use the cash to enjoy life? Instead of enjoying a fine meal at an expensive restaurant or a long vacation to an exotic locale, he had to resort to local fast-food joints, cheap restaurants and "exciting" locales like Santa Cruz, Monterey and the Yosimite National Park. Not exactly the sense of adventure he desired.
If Nick did not know any better, he would swear that he was drifting into a depression. His life may not be worth shit, but he certainly lacked the urge to commit suicide. Right? After all, there were certain elements in his life one could consider worthwhile.
For one, he was a witch. A witch that practiced the pagan religion of Stregheria. A Streghone. Granted, he did not possess the gift of a practical power. His body lacked the ability to channel magic. Yet, no one in his boschetto (coven) could deny that he was a talented Streghone, with a knack for spells and an extensive knowledge of magic. Unfortunately for Nick, he suspected that his fellow witches saw his talents as a tool to be used for their purposes . . . and nothing more.
There seemed to be one person who felt differently. Nick's gaze focused upon a photograph sitting on the whatnot's second shelf. It was a photo of a vibrant blonde woman, around thirty. Judging from her stance and gaze, she obviously had no knowledge of the photographer's lens. Barbara Bowen. Nick heaved a forlorn sigh, as he continued to gaze at the photograph. Unlike him, Barbara did not practice Stegheria. She practiced a Celtic form of Paganism, known as Wicca. But like Nick, she did not possess a particular psi power. Like him, she only possessed a talent for spells and potions that exceeded his own. Even better, she managed to appreciate Nick's own talent.
Nick's aunt, Carla Bianchi, happened to be close friends of another Wicca witch named Gweneth McNeill. Nick had known Gweneth's three children since childhood. And it was through the two older McNeill siblings, Bruce and Olivia, that he first met Barbara. God, she was beautiful! Beautiful, strong, funny and full of life. And unlike the red-haired Olivia, the blonde witch did not come off as intimidating.
Feeling hungry, Nick went into the kitchen and opened his small refrigerator. Disappointment greeted his eyes. Aside from a carton half filled with milk, two celery sticks and some leftovers, he did not have a goddamn thing to eat. Frustrated, he slammed the refrigerator shut.
It sometimes seemed to Nick that his life was filled with nothing but disappointments. Even with Barbara. Despite their close friendship, she ended up engaged to Bruce McNeill. Of course he was handsome, a successful chef and rich. What woman in her right mind would resist him? Barbara and Bruce had first become engaged, last October. Six months ago. Nick could only surmise that they had not bothered to set a wedding date. Or maybe one or the other was simply reluctant to march down the aisle. Whatever the reason, Nick saw the long engagement as an opportunity to get even closer to his lady love, and hopefully prevent this potentially matrimonial travesty.
Meanwhile, he had to eat. And since Nick had no desire to lose his hard won parking space, he decided that a meal at the IHOP restaurant down the street would have to do. He could shop for groceries, tomorrow.
Nick sat down on his sofa and began to sort through his mail. Just as he had suspected - bills and junk mail. Then he came across a large, thick envelope. Dread gripped him. Could it be . . .? With nervous fingers, Nick opened the envelope and pulled out an engraved card. The inside read:
"Barbara Helen Bowen and Bruce James McNeill request the honors
of your presence at their wedding on Saturday, the 26th of April,
two thousand and three, at two o'clock in the afternoon, the McNeill
House, 353 California Street, San Francisco, California."
April 26. Nick glanced at the calendar on the wall. In less than three weeks, Barbara will be beyond his reach. Devastation struck Nick. But it did not last. He still had time to prevent Barbara's marriage to that overprivledged pissant, Bruce McNeill. And he was not a talented witch for nothing. If using magic could salvage his happiness, then so be it. He planned to do so - by any means necessary.
END OF PROLOGUE