Monday, August 31, 2009

"Second Power" [PG-13] - 2/8




"SECOND POWER"

PART TWO

Seconds after leaving the McNeill house, Leo orbed before the Elders' Council. Judging by their expressions, none of the Elders seemed pleased. "Well?" one of them demanded. It was Sylvester, one of the Council's veteran members. His dark eyes bored into Leo's. "Does the McNeill witch have a fire power or not?"

Leo nodded. "Uh yes. Yes, she does." Anxious voices filled the chamber. "But none of the McNeills seem concerned. According to Olivia's father, she's not the first in her family to receive pyrokinesis."

"We are well aware of that fact," another Elder replied tartly. It was MacKenzie. The white-haired, thin man also happened to be a veteran council member. "Which is one of the reasons why we have been leery of the McNeill family for centuries. Along with their . . . unconventional approach to the Craft, pyrokinesis has always been rather . . . strong in their line. And we're not thrilled that this particular McNeill happens to be very close to that . . . to Belthazor."

Discomfort surged through Leo. He shifted from one foot to another. "Uh, speaking of Bel . . . um, Cole, Olivia's parents have suggested that he help her control her new power."

Again, anxious voices filled the chamber. Only they seemed to rumble louder. Sylvester cried out, "Have that demon teach your witch to control her fire power? Are you insane?"

Leo found the Elders' reaction toward Olivia and Cole baffling. Granted, he was never particularly thrilled about their relationship. But the Elders had never said a word about Phoebe and Cole. Why were they so antagonistic toward this new relationship? He finally expressed his confusion. "Olivia is no longer my charge. She hasn't been my charge in over twelve years. I don't understand. You were never this concerned about Cole and Phoebe."

A pale, dark-haired woman in her late thirties spoke up. "That is due to the fact that as Belthazor, and later as the Source, he could be stopped by the Charmed Ones. In case he became a threat." Elder Mathilda Wells had been an Elder for over 300 years. "We knew that Belthazor would play a part in the Charmed Ones' destiny to destroy the Source. But now," she gave her head a sad shake, "his new powers make him an undetermined threat."

"Belthazor's relationship with the McNeill witch might prove to be an even bigger threat," MacKenzie added. "Now that she has this new power."

Leo could not believe his ears. The Elders actually considered Olivia and Cole a threat! Why? "I . . ." he began.

"We have no say about the witch's new power," Sylvester said, interrupting Leo. He leaned forward, his dark eyes glittering in a manner that made the whitelighter nervous. "But her relationship with Belthazor is another matter. Nip it in the bud, Leo. Now! I realize that she is no longer your charge. But she is still a friend of yours, I believe. Use your influence and do something about her relationship with Belthazor. Before we all find ourselves in serious danger!"

* * * *

"I just spoke with Margot," Barbara's voice announced over the telephone. "I told her about your new power and she has agreed to help you learn to control it."

Olivia heaved a sigh of relief. "Thanks Barb. You've been a real help."

Her future sister-in-law added, "Of course, I still don't understand why you won't ask Cole to help you. He is your best cha . . ."

"Barbara?" Olivia's voice came out sharper than she had intended. "I've made my decision about Cole. Okay?"

But the other woman refused to dismiss the subject. "If you say so. But if you think I don't know why you're avoiding him, you're mistaken. After all, I was also at that party. And so was Bruce."

Silence fell between the two friends. Olivia's first instinct was to lambaste her friend. But realizing that the ugly truth might rear its head, she decided to ignore the topic of one Cole Turner. "So, when will Margot be available?"

Barbara sighed. "Tomorrow, on Tuesday. She has a doctor's appointment, today. Margot said to expect her around eleven in the morning."

"Great. I'll be expecting her." The two friends exchanged a few more words before finally hanging up. Seconds later, Olivia dialed another number.

The telephone rang several times before a voice on the other end of the line answered. "San Francisco PD. Homicide. Inspector Morris speaking."

"Hi Darryl, this is Olivia. I'm calling in sick, today. In fact, I might be out of the office, all week. Could you transfer me to the Captain?"

A pause followed before Darryl answered, "McPherson's not in, right now. He's at a Division meeting. Uh, are you okay? You have a cold or something?"

"It's a lot worse than a cold," Olivia answered ominously. "Let's just say that it's something I don't want to be exposed at the office."

"Oh. I see." Darryl hesitated. "Well, uh I hope you get . . . you get better. See you in a week?"

Olivia sighed. "Hopefully. Catch you later, Darryl. Bye."

"Take care, partner." The line went dead.

Another sigh left Olivia's mouth, as she disconnected her telephone. Then she took a deep breath and sat down in the middle of the floor. Meditation, Mom and Dad had said. Meditation and practice of her new power. Her new power, which consisted of fire. Deep down, Olivia knew who was the best person to help her. But she was damned if she would beg to Cole Turner for help. Not after he had humiliated her at Warren Mitchell's New Year's party.

Olivia felt the surging anger within her, as she recalled the kiss she and Cole had exchanged. A sensuous kiss, soft and light, yet filled with passion. For a few brief moments, Olivia believed that Cole harbored more than friendship toward her. Until . . . until he ended the kiss. Pushed her away with such abruptness. Was the idea of kissing her so repugnant to him?

Her anger continued to build. The more she brooded on the half-demon, the more difficult it became for Olivia to keep her emotions in check. 'Calm down' she told herself. 'Relax. Or else you'll end up torching the entire building.' Olivia took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

"O eternal Goddess, Maiden, Mother and Crone, I am made from your flesh and you know me better than I know myself."

Images of the New Year's ball popped into Olivia's mind. Images of guests glancing at the clock on the far wall, while seconds ticked toward midnight.

"You understand depression, frustration, and anxiety. Please help me to control these emotions, and help me to convert these powerful feelings into love. O eternal God, King of infinite wisdom and goodness, I am created from your essence, and I thank you for the gift of life."

Olivia tried to suppress further memories of the New Year, but they continued to flood her mind. She saw the second's hand reach the number twelve. Heard everyone cry out, "Happy New Year!" And the band began to play "Auld Lang Syne".

"Please teach me to be patient and humble, tolerant and gentle, especially when life's problems become heavy and difficult to bear. So Mote It Be."

More images flashed in her thoughts. Olivia saw couples kissing. She saw her and Cole face each other with eyes filled with doubt, confusion and longing. She felt Cole's warm lips press against hers and relived the memory of the heat and desire that radiated from those lips. Most of all, recalled the rough manner in which he had pushed her away . . . and the horrified expression stamped on his face.

Anger and embarrassment resurged within Olivia within a blink of an eye. And she quickly forgot about her attempts at meditation. Blue lights materialized in the air and converged into the form of one Paige Matthews.

"Hey Olivia! How's the . . .?" The Charmed One broke off as a stream of fire rushed toward her head. Paige orbed away from the line of fire and reappeared behind the older witch. "What the hell?"

Olivia lowered her hand and heaved a huge sigh. "Dammit Paige!" she cried. "Haven't you heard of knocking? I could have killed you!"

"Sorry," the younger woman replied. "Bad habit."

"Really? Then why don't you try learning how to break it?"

Paige stared at Olivia through narrowed eyes. "My, we're in a real snit, this morning. I guess your meditation isn't helping after all."

Another sigh left Olivia's mouth. "No, I . . . I'm sorry. I guess I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever have control of this damn power." She rose from the floor and stalked toward the kitchen. "You want something to drink? I've got lemonade."

"Yeah. Sure." Paige followed the older woman. "Hey, if you're having so much trouble, maybe it's due to some . . ." She sat down on one of the kitchen chairs. "Are you going through some emotional problems, now? Phoebe was having trouble with her powers, last fall. While she was dealing with Cole's . . . uh, you know, return."

Olivia removed a pitcher of lemonade from the fridge. "Are you saying that I'm now going through the same problems?" She retrieved two glasses from the cabinet and filled them with lemonade, before handing one to Paige.

Paige took a deep breath. "Maybe you are. I mean I haven't seen you and Cole together for two weeks. And you can barely meditate, let alone control your new power." Her eyes fell upon the glass in her hand. "Maybe you and Cole should um, . . . you know, deal with whatever is driving you two apart."

Silence filled the air. Olivia took a sip of lemonade. So did Paige. The older woman hated to admit that perhaps the latter was right. Not because the younger woman's wisdom seemed so obvious. Olivia simply hated the idea of reliving that humiliating moment from two weeks ago.

"But if you don't want to talk about any problems you might have," Paige began.

Olivia finished the rest of her drink in several gulps. She sighed. "No, you're right. The only way to deal with this new power is to deal with whatever is bothering me."

"Namely Cole."

The older witch gave her younger guest a shrewd glance. "Gee, how did you guess?"

Paige shrugged. "Like I said, I haven't seen you and Cole together in quite a while. And you seemed to get this look on your face, whenever someone mentions his name."

"Okay, I get the picture," Olivia snapped, as she poured herself another glass of lemonade. "In regard to Cole . . . it's not what you might think. He hasn't done anything one would consider . . . demonic. Or evil."

Nodding, Paige replied, "Yeah, I kind of figured that. Or else Leo would have told us. Or we would all be dead."

Olivia shot Paige a dark look. "My, that Halliwell wit is in top form, today. Isn't it?"

"I wasn't being witty," Paige protested.

"I noticed."

Paige heaved a frustrated sigh. "Olivia! C'mon! Be serious! Why are you so reluctant to get Cole's help? What did he do to piss you off?"

After a few more sips of lemonade, Olivia revealed the events between her and Cole, at Warren Mitchell's New Year party. Surprise, shock . . . and a little pity flashed in the Charmed One's dark eyes. "Gee! No wonder you're pissed! I would be too. How humiliating!"

"No kidding," Olivia retorted. "Now, you understand why I refuse to ask for Cole's help."

Paige nodded. "Yeah, I understand. But I still think you should ask for his help, anyway."

"What?"

"C'mon Livy," Paige continued, "it's like your dad said. You have pyrokinesis and it's very powerful. How many witches do you know have a fire power at that level?"

Was it really difficult to accept that a novice witch (no matter how powerful) that was six years younger could dish out such wise advice? Olivia pondered over the possibility. But only for a moment. Since Paige happened to be younger and less experienced in life . . .

"Screw Cole!" the redhead spewed. "Barbara has already found someone to help me. She's a fire witch from Sausalito named Margot Palmer and she'll be here, tomorrow morning." Olivia finished her second glass of lemonade. "So, contrary to what everyone else says, I don't need Cole's help. Nor do I need him in my life!"

Olivia glanced at Paige, who merely shook her head and sighed. "Oh well, I only hope that you don't end up incinerating this Margot person by the end of the week."

* * * *

The Golden Horn Restaurant bustled with activity during the early afternoon. Among the patrons inside the elegant restaurant, sat Cole and his latest client, one Mark Giovanni. The two men sat next to one of the large windows that overlooked the city of San Francisco and the bay.

"This Chardonnay is quite good," Giovanni commented. He was a slender, dark-haired man of medium height. Although a year short of forty and not quite handsome, Giovanni possessed a pair of dark eyes that many have found compelling. Intense. "Good, but I'm sure that my own Chardonnay could top it."

Cole nodded. "I've heard of your Chardonnay. It's world famous, isn't it?"

"Well, not quite famous," the wine grower said with a modesty that failed to reach his eyes. "I believe that the BAY-MIRROR's article may have been a bit exaggerated."

"Hmmm." From the corner of his eye, Cole spotted someone entering the restaurant. Someone with familiar red hair and green eyes.

Giovanni's eyes followed Cole's gaze. "Well! I do believe that the owner's other son has graced us with his presence. I just saw him last week, at Cordelia Morton's party. Gwen McNeill's son, isn't he?"

"He is," Cole added curtly. "Younger son. Harry."

The person in question glanced at the two men and nodded. Then he returned his attention to his beautiful companion. Cole and Giovanni continued to stare. "That's Cordelia's daughter he's with, the latter said. "What's her name? Dana. Dana Morton. Quite a looker. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that dynastic ties were being formed between the McNeills and the Mortons."

"Speaking of dynasties, Mr. Giovanni," Cole began, "let's talk about saving yours. Namely a certain piece of property, outside Oakville." A contrite Giovanni nodded and the discussion returned to business.

Twenty-five minutes later, the two men finished their meals. The wine grower excused himself and disappeared toward the men's restroom. Cole leaned back and enjoyed the last of his Chardonnay. A shadow cast over the table. Cole glanced up and frowned. "Harry?"

"Cole." The twenty-five year-old witch sat down in Giovanni's empty chair. He flashed the half-demon a wary smile. "It's been a while. Like two weeks. So, where have you been?"

A wave of embarrassment washed over Cole. "I . . . uh, I've been busy. Lately."

"Uh-huh. Including Saturdays and Sundays?"

Cole sighed. "Yeah, Harry. Even on Sundays. I've been very busy on Sundays. Taking long drives up the coast," he began sarcastically. "Sitting home and getting drunk on martinis."

The redhead's handsome face grew tight. Expressionless. "Sorry. Didn't realize that my company was getting on your last nerve."

"Harry, you didn't . . . I mean . . ." Again, Cole sighed. "Look, I'm sorry that I snapped back like that."

"It's nothing," Harry coolly replied. He shot a quick glance at his companion. "I better leave. I think Dana is getting impatient." He stood up. "Look, before I go, I thought you would like to know that Olivia had just received her second power. Yesterday."

Cole shot up in his seat, his attention focused on the younger man. "Second power? Olivia? What is it?" he demanded, frowning.

"I didn't think you would be interested."

Exasperated, Cole growled, "Harry!"

The youngest McNeill shrugged. "Okay, okay. Olivia now has a fire power. Pyrokinesis. And it's very strong."

Pyrokinesis? Speechless, Cole allowed his eyes to grow wide with shock.


END OF CHAPTER TWO

Sunday, August 30, 2009

"INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS" (2009) Photo Gallery



Below are photos from Quentin Taratino's new movie set in World War II Nazi-occupied France, "INGLORIOUS BASTERDS". The movie stars Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson:


"INGLORIOUS BASTERDS" (2009) Photo Gallery








































































Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rain Storm Video Footage




RAIN STORM Video Footage

Below is a video clip featuring a rain storm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:



Rain Storm in Central Philly – August 22, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ten Favorite Films Set in LOS ANGELES



Below are my ten (10) favorite movies set in Los Angeles, California (City of Angels):


Ten Favorite Films Set in LOS ANGELES



1. "L.A. Confidential" (1997) - This Oscar winning adaptation of James Ellroy's novel about three cops in 1950s Los Angeles is one of my favorite movies of all time. Directed by Curtis Hanson, the movie starred Kevin Spacey, Guy Pierce, Russell Crowe, James Cromwell, Danny DeVito and Oscar winner Kim Basinger.





2. "Chinatown" (1974) - Another Oscar winning crime drama set in Los Angeles . . . only this time, in the 1930s. Jack Nicholson is detective Jake Gittes who becomes embroiled in murder and corruption over the city's water rights. Faye Dunaway, John Huston and Perry Lopez co-starred. Roman Polanski directed.





3. "Sunset Boulevard" (1950) - Billy Wilder directed and co-wrote this deliciously twisted tale of a Hollywood "B" writer who becomes embroiled with a slightly insane Hollywood has-been actress. William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Nancy Olson and Erich von Stroheim starred.





4. "Bombshell" (1933) - Jean Harlow starred in this Pre-Code screwball comedy about a Hollywood starlet and the people in her life. Lee Tracy, Franchot Tone, Frank Morgan, Una Merkel and C. Aubrey Smith co-starred. Victor Fleming directed.





5. "Heat" (1995) - Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino starred in Michael Mann's superb cat-and-mouse tale about a professional thief and the L.A.P.D. detective hunting him. Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Diane Verona, Amy Bremmerman, Dennis Haysbert and Ted Levine.





6. "Changeling" (2008) - Clint Eastwood directed this excellent movie about the real life disappearance of Christine Collins' son in 1928 Los Angeles. Angelina Jolie received an Oscar nomination for her superb performance. John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Amy Ryan, Michael Kelly and Jason Butler Harner co-starred.





7. "Speed" (1994) - Keanu Reeves starred in what I believe is one of the best action movies I have ever seen. He portrayed an L.A.P.D. bomb squad officer forced to play cat-and-mouse with an insane bomber threating to blow up a city bus. Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Joe Morton and Jeff Daniels co-starred. Jan de Bont directed.





8. "The Black Dahlia" (2006) - Brian de Palma directed this underappreciated adaptation of James Ellroy's novel about the famous Black Dahlia case. Josh Harnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart and Hilary Swank co-starred.





9. "Rush Hour" (1998) - Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan starred in this hilarious comedy about an L.A.P.D. detective and a Hong Kong cop that team up to investigate the kidnapping of a Chinese diplomat's daughter. Brett Ratner directed.





10. "Jackie Brown" - Quentin Tarantino directed and wrote this adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel, "Rum Punch" about a middle-aged flight attendant forced by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) to bring down an arms dealer she had been smuggling for. Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda and Robert DeNiro starred.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"GOLDENEYE" Photo Gallery



Below is a gallery featuring photos from the 17th James Bond movie called "GOLDENEYE". This movie featured Pierce Brosnan's debut as the British agent, James Bond:


"GOLDENEYE" Photo Gallery

























Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Second Power" [PG-13] - 1/8



Below is a follow-up to the AU CHARMED story - "Auld Lang Syne":

"SECOND POWER"

RATING: [PG-13]
SUMMARY: Olivia McNeill's new power sends shockwaves throughout the whitelighter realm and presents Cole with a chance for reconciliation. Set two weeks after "Auld Lang Syne". Alternate S5.
FEEDBACK: deerush76@yahoo.com - Be my guest. But please, be kind.
DISCLAIMER: Cole Turner, the Charmed Ones and other characters related to Charmed to Spelling Productions, Brad Kern and Constance Burge. The McNeills are my creation.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: To understand what is going on between Cole and Olivia McNeill, please read "Auld Lang Syne" first.


-------------------------

"SECOND POWER"


PART ONE

Paige Matthews waited breathlessly as the tall manservant stepped aside to allow her entrance into the McNeill manor. She greeted the latter with a polite smile. "Morning, Davies."

"Good morning, Miss Matthews," Davies replied in his usual Welsh accent. "Today's Sunday brunch won't be held out in the garden, today."

"Oh? Why not?" Paige followed Davies toward the house's large drawing room.

Davies gave the young half-witch/half-whitelighter a quick smile. "The weather, miss. It's a bit cool and Miss Gweneth has decided to hold the brunch, inside the house." He opened a pair of double doors, made from heavy oak.

After murmuring a quick "thank you" to the manservant, Paige stepped inside the drawing room. A quick scan revealed that she had been the last to arrive. All of the McNeills were there, along with Barbara Bowen, Bruce McNeill's fiancée, and a middle-aged woman with salt-and-pepper hair. Paige felt a twinge of disappointment at the Morrises' lack of appearance. They had become regular visitors, following Darryl Morris' possession by a West African sorcerer's spirit. Paige did not become a regular at the McNeill brunches, until she and Olivia McNeill became good friends nearly a week before Christmas. A friendship formed from Paige's discovery that her former brother-in-law had been an innocent victim of the Source. Speaking of Cole . . .

Paige walked over to the buffet table, where she found Harry McNeill examining the food. She picked up an empty plate and stood next to him. "Hi," she greeted.

Harry glanced up and smiled. Red-haired men had never been Paige's type, but she had to admit that the youngest McNeill's chiseled features and startling green eyes were very attractive. Very. In fact, downright delicious. "Hi," he greeted back. "Just arrived?"

"Yeah." Paige fell silent, as Harry scooped a spoonful of Eggs Florentine and dumped it on his plate. She continued, "So, who's the lady standing next to your mom?" She pointed at the middle-aged woman.

Harry replied, "That's Carla Bianchi. She's a witch. And an old friend of Mom's."

"Huh?" Paige peered at the woman. "But her name . . . it's Italian."

"Well, there is such a thing as a witch of Italian descent. Mrs. Bianchi practices Strega, or Stregheria. It's somewhat similar to Wicca."

Paige shook her head. "Boy, I sure have a lot to learn." She scanned the room once more. "By the way, I see that Cole is missing again. Where is he?"

Not even her casual tone could disguise Paige's curiosity. Or concern, judging by the look Harry gave her. "You noticed it too, huh?" he replied. "This is the second time he's missed our brunch. And he hasn't missed one since he first started coming."

Then Paige bombarded Harry with a series of questions. "So what happened? Is there something wrong with Cole? Is he pissed off about something? Has he pissed off Olivia? Is he even in town?"

"The answer to all of your questions is - 'I don't know.'" Harry reached for a croissant. "I've already asked Olivia once and she nearly bit off my head. And none of us haven't been to get to Cole. He's either busy or unavailable."

A sigh left Paige's mouth. "You too, huh?" She reached for a slice of quiche. "I tried calling Cole once. Didn't answer my call. Maybe if I can talk to Olivia . . ."

Harry shook his head. "I wouldn't, if I were you," he warned. "Olivia has been . . . well, acting strange lately. Almost erratic."

"So, what's wrong with her? And what has this to do with Cole?"

Green eyes stared at Paige, glimmering with humor. "Are you always in the habit of asking more than one question at the same time?"

Paige heaved an impatient sigh. "Har-ry!"

"Okay, okay!" Harry paused. "Bruce thinks it might have something to do with what had happened at Warren Mitchell's New Year party. He and Barbara saw . . ." The McNeill witch broke off, as a third figure approached the table. Olivia.

Jack and Gweneth McNeill's only daughter greeted the newcomer with a too cheerful smile. "Paige! Honey! I'm glad that you could come!"

The youngest Charmed One stared at her friend, as if the latter had grown a second head. "Uh, glad I could make it. Are you . . . are you okay, Livy?"

"What do you mean?" Green eyes, similar to Harry's, widened with innocence. "Couldn't be better."

"It's just that . . . well, you look strange. Weird. Like you've taken one too many happy pills." Or like Phoebe in a state of denial, Paige added silently.

Olivia laughed. Loudly. "Honey, don't worry. I haven't begun a drug habit, if that's what you're thinking. I just feel great!" She flung out a hand, and a burst of fire streamed upward, scorching the ceiling.

Gasps filled the room. A look of horror replaced the faux happiness on Olivia's face. Paige cried out, "Oh. My. God!"

Harry coolly gazed at his horrified sister. "Say Livy, you want to answer that question again about feeling okay?"

* * * *

Cole Turner gazed approvingly at the active crowd on the street below. "You know, I've forgotten how much I like New Orleans. Can't understand why I've stayed away for so long." He stood upon a balcony that overlooked Royal Street, in the Crescent City's French Quarter.

The balcony's other occupant, a tall handsome man with rich brown skin and intense black eyes, sat in a wicker chair. Sipping coffee. "For so long?" Andre Morrell repeated. "What are you talking about, man? I've seen you six times in the past ten days, let alone three more times since Cecile came back, late last month."

"You know what I mean!" Cole retorted in a mock snarl. "Before Cecile had returned. We haven't laid eyes upon each other in two years."

Andre lazily shot back, "And whose fault is that?"

"Okay, so I've been busy during the past few years. Between dodging the Source's zoltars; helping Phoebe and her family, especially after Prue's death; losing my powers . . . Hell! You know what I mean! I just haven't found the time to visit. Until now."

Nodding, Andre replied, "I understand what you're getting at. But what I don't understand are all of these visits during the past two weeks." He cast a shrewd glance at Cole. "Is there a reason why I've been seeing so much of you, lately?"

Images of Olivia McNeill's face flashed through Cole's mind. Every time he had visited his friend, the latter would ask the same question. And Cole would usually avoid an answer with complaints about his job. This time, Cole decided to change tactics. "I'm thinking about moving here," he answered. "To New Orleans. It's always been one of my favorite cities. And I think I've had enough of San Francisco."

"Uh-huh. Who's the woman?"

Cole glanced sharply at Andre. "What are you talking about?"

Andre rolled his eyes and placed his coffee cup on the small table next to him. "C'mon man! You seem just a little too cheerful, today. It's not your style. It can't be work. You're always bitching about that. When something or someone really bothers you, you tend to keep it to yourself. So, who's the woman? Your ex-wife, Phoebe?"

A sigh left Cole's mouth. There were times he wished that Andre did not know him so well. Hell, three years ago, he would have killed someone for knowing too much about him. But that had been three years ago. Two years with the Halliwells and nearly three months with the McNeills had changed everything. Changed him.

"There was . . ." Cole began. He paused, as his eyes focused upon the Spanish Colonial buildings, situated across the street. "It happened on New Year's Day. Around midnight, to be exact."

Andre frowned. "What happened?"

Cole took a deep breath and explained what happened over the New Year holiday. He told Andre everything - Olivia's invitation, the actual party at the Fairmont Hotel, Cole's doubts about kissing Olivia, the actual kiss . . . Cole's reaction, and Olivia's.

"Oh. Dear. Lord!" Andre stared at Cole with disbelief. "Please tell me you didn't, man!"

Nodding, Cole replied, "Yeah, I did. It was . . . I don't know! It was stupid of me to kiss her like that. I mean one doesn't kiss a friend. Not like that!"

Andre rolled his eyes in disgust. "Just how long have you been without a woman, boy?" he retorted with mild contempt. "There was nothing wrong about that kiss. I was talking about your reaction. You practically pushed the woman away!"

"Haven't you heard a word I had said? I had kissed a friend! A very close friend!"

The New Orleans-born man shot back, "So? She's a woman, ain't she?"

Cole hesitated. "Well, yeah."

"Did you enjoy the kiss?"

Again, Cole hesitated. "It was . . . it wasn't . . . bad." He glanced up and saw the knowing look in Andre's eyes. "Okay, yeah I did. I enjoyed it very much. But dammit, Andre! You don't understand. I didn't want to give Olivia the impression that I was interested in her. I don't want to spoil our friendship."

A snicker escaped Andre's mouth. "I'd say you've already done it. You know what your problem is, don't you, man?"

Cole stared at his friend, wearing a bewildered expression. "Problem?"

"Yeah. You've spent most of your life seducing other women for a certain purpose that you've never really learned how to deal with romance." Andre paused. "Actually, I can think of a lot of mortals who are the same way. Let's face it. When it comes to romance . . . or a woman, you're just a babe in the woods."

Cole flashed an annoyed glance at his friend. "Thank you for that in-depth analysis, Dr. Ruth's Son. May I remind you that I was once married?"

"May I remind you that you were possessed by a powerful daemon at the time?" Andre retorted. "What happened next wasn't exactly a reflection of your skills in the Romance Department. Of course, I can't say the same about Whatshername."

"Thanks. And her name is Phoebe."

Andre continued, "Look, you want my advice? Here it is. Apologize to Olivia. Tell her that you're sorry for what happened, and that you enjoyed the kiss so much that it took you by surprise. Simple." He paused. "Then again, this is Olivia we're talking about. Apologizing to her ain't gonna be that simple.

Cole reflected upon Andre's words with a sigh. "I guess you're right. I have to apologize. I just hope that Olivia is willing to listen." He took one look at his friend's dubious expression and realized he had a battle on his hands.

* * * *

Nearly everyone stared at the scorch mark on the ceiling with shock and surprise. Well, not everyone. Olivia noticed that one person in particular, reacted with horror. "Oh my God!" Paige cried. "Oh God! You've got a demonic power!"

Olivia and the others stared at the young witch with confused eyes. "Demonic what?" the former asked.

"A fire power," Paige replied. "Demonic power. Phoebe had the same when she was pregnant with the Source's child. The baby took control of her. Gave her a demonic power."

Jack McNeill rolled his eyes. "Paige, don't take this the wrong way, but what in the hell are you talking about? There's no such thing as a demonic power. I thought you knew that."

Paige's eyes shifted back and forth - from the McNeill patriarch to Olivia. "Oh," she began in an uneasy voice. "I mean, yeah. I guess . . . I forgot." Then she asked, "But is it really common for witches to have a fire power?"

"Yes it is, love," Olivia's mother patiently answered. "Pyrokinesis is quite common." She glanced uneasily at her daughter. "Except at that strength is quite rare. Pyrokinesis . . . it's a rather difficult power to master."

Olivia let out a groan. Mastering her telekinesis had been difficult enough when she was a child. But pyrokinesis!"

Paige continued, "But I don't understand. I knew that Bruce has a second power, and Mr. McNeill. But Livy, why did it take you so long to receive yours? And why don't the others have one?"

"Family tradition," Jack replied curtly. "Possessing two powers is usually common in the McNeill family. And we usually receive our second power, while we are in our late twenties or early thirties. I received my second one when I was Olivia's age."

Olivia added in a remorseful voice, "Yeah, but you didn't receive pyrokinesis. How am I going to deal with this?"

Gweneth slipped an arm around her daughter's shoulders and gave them a tight squeeze. "You'll deal with the same way you did with your first power. Besides, you shouldn't treat this new power as a curse. You're a McNeill witch with pyrokinesis, love. Don't you realize what this means?"

"No, I don't."

The head of the McNeill family let out a sigh. "I forgot. You don't know about . . ."

Blue lights heralded the arrival of Leo Wyatt, whitelighter to the McNeill siblings and the Charmed Ones. His blue eyes expressed more than concern. They expressed outright anxiety. "I found what happened!" he declared breathlessly to Olivia. "About your new power." His gaze focused on the scorch mark on the ceiling.

Paige stared at her brother-in-law with disbelief. "You know about Olivia's new fire power, already?"

"The Elders became aware of it the moment Olivia first used it." Again, he faced Olivia. "How . . . how on earth did you get a demonic power?"

A long sigh escaped Jack's mouth. "Okay! That's it! I've had enough of this demonic power shit! Leo, Olivia does not have a demonic power. Pyrokinesis is not evil. Nor is any other power. And why in the hell are the whitelighters concerned about her?"

"Really?" Leo retorted. "Because I've yet to meet a witch with the power of pyrokinesis!"

Bruce rolled his eyes, while his father shot back, "Then you must not have seen much for a whitelighter who has been around for sixty years. I have met witches with pyrokinesis. Including members of the McNeill family. Including my dad's Cousin Keith, who had recently passed away. Even Olivia's great-great grandfather had it, as a matter of fact."

"Her great-great . . .?" Leo blinked.

"Oh yeah," Bruce added. "I remember Grandad talking about him. Great-great Grandfather William. I heard that he could form fireballs. Like Cousin Keith."

Paige frowned. "Fireballs? Like demons?"

The McNeill men stared at Paige. Olivia remained silent, her hands tucked underneath her armpits. "Hey! People! While this great philosophical debate is going on, can someone please tell me how to deal with this new power?"

Her mother gently guided Olivia toward the sofa. "Pet, I've already told you. You're just going to have to deal with it in the same manner that you learned how to control your first power."

"Like practice," Paige suggested.

Gweneth spared the young witch a grateful smile. "Including practice. However, I believe meditation will also help."

"Meditation." Olivia nodded. "Right."

Harry spoke up. "Maybe you can find someone to help you practice with your pyrokinesis. Like Cole. He once told me how difficult it was for him to control his fire power at first."

Olivia automatically rejected the idea. Nearly two weeks had passed since that disastrous New Year's party. And right now, she had no desire to receive help from Cole. Let alone see him.

Paige frowned. "I thought he only used to have energy balls. Electrokinesis."

"Who cares what he had?" Leo cried. "Don't any of you understand what's going on? Olivia has a firepower! A demonic power! And all of you are standing around, acting as if there is nothing to be concerned about!"

An annoyed Gweneth McNeill retorted, "Of course there's nothing to be concerned about!" Her voice softened. "Once Olivia learns how to control her new power."

"Yeah, but . . ."

"Leo?" Jack's voice rang clear and sharp. "I realize that you're only concerned for Olivia - although I don't know why considering you haven't been her whitelighter for over twelve years. But I'm getting sick and damn tired of this ridiculous morality of yours! Olivia now has pyrokinesis. Nothing more, nothing less! She's not some damn warlock or daemon! And if any of my children end up suffering, because of the whitelighters' self-righteous attitude, I swear to both the God and Goddess herself that I'll find a darklighter's crossbow and use it on you!" Blue-gray eyes radiated cold anger. "Understand?"

Silence enveloped the drawing room. Olivia's father continued to glare at the whitelighter. Olivia, her brothers, Paige and the other guests, stared goggle-eyed at the pair. Davies took the opportunity to surreptiously slip out of the room. And Gweneth suddenly became interested in the food on her plate.

"I . . ." Leo began. Then he broke off. He seemed unable to say anything further.

Jack shot back, "You what?"

"Never mind." Leo took a deep breath. Then his eyes glanced upward. "I think I've been summoned. Excuse me." He orbed away without any further words.

Everyone else heaved sighs of relief. Everyone, except for Jack, who faced Olivia. "Now, let's see about dealing with this new power of yours."

Olivia decided that she had it all figured out. "It's simple," she explained. "All I need is daily meditation and some practice, and I should have it all under control."

"Oh really?" Gweneth added. "You think it's that simple? Livy, this is pyrokinesis, you're dealing with. Handling fire is difficult for those who practice magic. If you're going to learn to control this power, you need to find someone who can help you. Someone who also has pyrokinesis."

Aunt Carla, Olivia's godmother, spoke up. "Oh, I wish I could help. But the only person I know who had pyrokinesis accidentally killed himself, while conducting some spell. Poor thing. He didn't really know what he was doing. And he had just learned how to use this power."

"Great," Olivia mumbled. "Something for me to remember always."

"I know someone," said Barbara. The perky blonde placed her plate on the nearest table. "Margot Palmer. She's part of my old coven. We're not exactly friends, but I think she would be willing to help."

Bruce added, "Why don't you just ask Cole? He's the perfect person."

"I'd rather ask Barbara's friend, thank you very much," Olivia grumbled. "I don't see why we have to run to Cole, every time we need help."

Gweneth glared at her daughter. "And why not? If there is anyone who would know about pyrokinesis, it's Cole. And something tells me that Ms. Palmer's fire power is not as strong."

Olivia opened her mouth to retort. Then she closed it. "What?" her father demanded. "Were you about to say something?"

"No. I was merely considering Barbara's suggestion."

Jack continued, "Really? And what's wrong with Cole? Do you think he would mind helping you?"

A hesitant Olivia paused, before answering, "No. I don't think so."

"Then why haven't we laid eyes upon him in nearly two weeks?" Jack gave Olivia a pointed stare. "Can you explain that?"

Olivia could, but she would be damned if she would give any of her family the satisfaction.


END OF PART ONE