Saturday, January 2, 2010
"Obssessions" [PG] - Chapter 2
"How is dinner coming along?" Leo demanded after bursting into the kitchen. He shot his wife an anxious look.
Piper sighed. "Everything's fine, Leo! For the seventeenth time! And I've been counting, by the way."
"I'm sorry, honey, but I'm really anxious about tonight's dinner. I want everything to be perfect."
After checking the London Broil in the oven one last time, Piper sighed and left the kitchen. Leo followed her into the living room. "It's nice that you want to welcome this charge of yours, Leo, but . . . well, he's only a charge. What makes him so special?"
"That's what I'd like to know," a third voice added. It belonged to Paige, the youngest Charmed One. She and Phoebe descended the staircase. The Halliwells all wore semi-formal dresses for the dinner. Even Leo managed to scrounge up a suit and tie.
The whitelighter faced his wife and sisters-in-law. "Next to you guys, Paul is one of my best charges. He's a talented witch and we've worked well, together. And I thought that since he has moved here, it would be a great idea if you all get to know one another."
"Well that's great, honey," Piper murmured. Her voice was tinged with its usual sarcasm. "Except how do the McNeills fit in? Do you consider them among your best charges?"
Ignoring his wife's barb, Leo replied, "Well, they are talented witches. And both Bruce and Olivia used to be my charges here in San Francisco. So, who knows? Maybe all of you can work together, every now and then."
Piper's voice became even more tart. "Us? Work with the McNeills?"
"Yes Piper," Paige responded in an acid tone. "We have done it before. In fact, they've managed to save our asses at least two times."
The doorbell rang before Piper could retort. Leo quickly dashed to the front door. He opened it and found his Buffalo-born charge standing on the stoop. "Paul!" he warmly greeted the other man. "Come on in!"
The new visitor entered the manor. He stood in the foyer, while Leo introduced him to the sisters. "Ladies, I would like you to meet Paul Margolin. Paul, this is my wife, Piper Halliwell; and my sisters-in-law, Phoebe and Paige."
"Paige Matthews," the youngest added.
A winning smile lit up Paul's face. "The Charmed Ones! I never thought I would live to meet such three lovely ladies." The sisters gaped at the handsome witch - obviously captivated. Leo found himself wondering how Olivia would react.
* * * *
". . . course miss Buffalo," the main guest was saying. He, along with the Halliwells and the McNeills, sat round the manor's spacious living room. "But I must admit that San Francisco is one beautiful-looking city. I only wish I had moved here a few months ago. You know, to avoid the winter storms."
Piper happily regarded the scene around her. Her family and guests had gathered in the manor's living room, following a well-cooked meal. Dinner had turned out to be better than she had expected. Paul Margolin proved to be a charming guest that all of the women found attractive. Including herself. With the exception of Leo, the men seemed to feel differently.
Both of the McNeill brothers - Bruce and Harry - did not seem impressed by the handsome witch. The red-haired Harry looked completely bored by Paul's conversation. Piper found his behavior slightly offensive. The oldest McNeill sibling regarded his fiancée's open admiration of the guest of honor with mild annoyance. Which led Piper to wonder how Barbara had ended up invited in the first place. Especially since she was not one of Leo's charges - past or present. Oh well. Piper realized that she should be grateful that Olivia had not brought along Cole.
Despite the McNeill brothers' less-than-positive attitude toward Paul, the dinner had proceeded without a hitch. Her London Broil proved to be perfect. At least everyone seemed to believe so - including Bruce, who happened to be one of San Francisco's top chefs. And they all loved the dessert - Chocolate Raspberry Cake. Upon finishing it, everyone had retired to the living-room for after dinner drinks. There, Piper's sisters, Olivia and Barbara bombarded Paul with personal questions.
"Where did you go to school?" Olivia asked.
Paul replied, "Columbia University." He regarded Olivia with as much interest as she regarded him. "What about you?"
"Stanford University," Olivia answered. "I also received my law degree from there."
"Law degree?" The Halliwells and Paul gaped at the redheaded woman with astonishment. "You're an attorney?" the latter asked. "I thought Leo told me that you were a cop."
To Piper's astonishment, Leo nodded. "She is. But Olivia does have a law degree. Heck, she even passed the State bar exam with high marks."
Piper glared at her husband. Who had the decency to squirm with discomfort. Leo had a lot to answer for not telling her this little tidbit. It still rankled Piper that the McNeills - especially Olivia - knew so much about her family, thanks to her blabbermouth husband. And yet, the Halliwells still did not know everything about the McNeills.
"So instead of practicing law, you decided to protect the innocent as a police officer?" Paul asked.
A cross between a snicker and a grunt escaped Harry's mouth. Olivia shot a quick glare at her younger brother. "If you want to put it that way," she said.
"Gee Livy," Harry added, his voice dripping with insincerity, "I thought you had decided to become a cop, because you were an action junkie? And that being a lawyer bored you?"
Olivia graced her brother with a too sweet smile. "Not really, Harry. I only said that to appeal to that adolescent mind of yours." Harry rolled his eyes. Piper suppressed a smile. It was not Olivia's retort that had amused her. A part of her wanted to hug Harry McNeill for his little remark. Piper did not buy Olivia's "protect the innocent" excuse any more than Harry did.
A mutual admiration society seemed to have sprung between Paul and Olivia. And it caused a little consternation within Piper's breasts. It also gave her the incentive to commence upon her own plans. "Paul," she said to her guest, "Leo has told me that you're an orphan. Is that true?"
The New Yorker nodded sadly. "Yeah. My parents were killed in a plane crash, when I was seven. I was staying with my grandparents at the time. They raised me."
Leo added, "I was whitelighter for Paul's dad."
"What a coincidence!" Piper continued brightly. "Paige had also lost her parents . . . well, her step-parents, several years ago."
Paul looked confused. "I don't understand. Aren't you all . . .?"
"I'm Piper and Phoebe's half-sister," Paige explained. "We all had the same mother. But my dad was her whitelighter. And I'm sure you know what that meant."
"Oh." Paul nodded. "I see."
Paige continued, "For some reason, my parents kept me a secret from the Elders, so I was put up for adoption. When I was seventeen, my step-parents . . . were killed in a car accident." She paused momentarily, as pain briefly flickered in her dark eyes. "My Uncle Dave and his family took me in until I went to college."
Shaking her head sympathetically, Piper gushed, "Isn't it odd how you two seemed to have a lot in common?" Her comment drew odd looks from the others. Except for Paul, who seemed oblivious of Piper's remark. And Olivia, who responded with a slight smirk.
Paige shot a quick glare at her older sister. "Yeah," she coolly added, "a lot."
A deep silence enveloped the living room. Feeling slightly humiliated, Piper wondered if she had went too far with her matchmaking plans. Paul seemed to be more interested in Olivia, who finally broke the silence with a question. "So Paul, have you received an assignment, yet?"
The ADA nodded. "The DiMatteo case. Someone named . . ."
"Michael DiMatteo," Olivia finished. "He's facing charges of first-degree murder of his mother and step-father. My partner and I were the ones who had arrested him."
"Really?" Paul's sherry-brown eyes sparkled, as he smiled. "Then I guess we'll be seeing a lot of each other."
Olivia smiled, as well. "I guess so."
Piper struggled to keep her irritation in check. Damn! So much for her attempt at matchmaking. She glanced at Leo and noticed the satisfied gleam in his eyes, as he observed Olivia and Paul. It finally dawned upon Piper that she had not been the only one with matchmaking plans, this evening. Another thought occurred to her. No one had bothered to mention that Paul was not the first Assistant District Attorney they had met.
* * * *
"That's it!" Barbara firmly stated, as Bruce's Jaguar drove her, Bruce, Olivia and Harry away from the Halliwell manor. "We're issuing those invitations to Piper, Leo and Phoebe. Especially after tonight."
Bruce sighed. "All right! I don't see what's the big fuss is about. All I did was misplace their invitations."
"Oh please!" Barbara rolled her eyes. "You deliberately failed to mail them. Didn't you?"
From the corner of her eyes, Olivia saw Harry's mouth curve into a knowing smile. "I still see that you haven't forgiven Leo for not inviting us to his wedding, have you Bruce?"
"Is that why you did it?" Barbara challenged her fiancé. "Because Leo didn't invite you to his wedding? How petty, Bruce!"
Bruce shot back, "Petty or not, I don't see why we have to invite them. Aside from Paige, neither of us can't stand the rest of the family."
"I'll tell you why! Because I don't want to explain to Paige why we didn't bother to invite her sisters. I don't want to look like a complete shit in her eyes!"
While Barbara and Bruce continued to argue over the Halliwells, Olivia found herself thinking about the Halliwells' guest. Paul Margolis. A very attractive man. He had a smile that seemed to light up his entire face. And Olivia had to admit that she found his interest in her very flattering.
Flashes of a dark-haired, blue-eyed half-daemon mingled with Olivia's thoughts of the new Assistant District Attorney. Cole. For the past three months, she and Cole had managed to repair the rift in their friendship, following the disastrous New Year's Eve kiss. But something else had happened. The kiss also awakened Olivia's desire for the half-daemon. Part of her wanted to see that desire come to fruition. Another part of her feared it would happen - not because of what Cole was - a daemon. Olivia harbored another fear. Namely one in the form of Phoebe Halliwell. She recalled Paige's mention of how Phoebe had discovered that Cole was her "true love", during a trip to the past. How does one deal with a "true love"? If Phoebe and Cole were each other's true love, why should she waste her time mooning over the half-daemon?
". . . can I look Paige in the face, knowing that we deliberately cut out her family from the guest list?" Barbara was saying. "And let's not forget Leo's dinner invitation. How can we not invite him, after tonight?"
Bruce shot back, "I think we all know the reason behind Leo's little dinner party. He's got this idea of forming some kind of Wiccan crime fighting unit. Especially now that he has four charges and two former ones all living in one city."
"That's not all he has in mind," Harry added. The others, aside from Bruce, stared at him.
Olivia demanded, "What do you mean?"
The two redheads stared at each other. Then Harry glanced away. "Nothing," he murmured. "It's just . . . I don't know. Maybe he's trying to reconcile both families, again. Just like Gran and Aunt Penny tried to make us all become friends, years ago." Olivia had the strangest sensation that her younger brother was lying. Unfortunately, he was the one who possessed telepathy and not her.
Barbara added, "There's nothing wrong with that. I mean, the Halliwells can be a bit too self-righteous at times, but they're pretty nice people."
"Pretty nice people, whose whitelighter didn't bother to invite us to a certain wedding," Bruce growled.
Barbara let out a huff. "Bruce!"
"Okay, okay! I'll find the damn invitations and mail them." Bruce was saying. "But don't be surprise, when you find yourself wishing that we had ever invited them in the first place!"
The Jaguar sped on through San Francisco's dark streets.
* * * *
Nick closed the demonology book and rubbed his eyes. He had been pouring over the book for the past three or four hours . . . and has been unable to find a damn thing to help him. Of course, he had only reached the "G" section. However, not even that could disguise the fact that he was beginning to feel discouraged.
Perhaps he should simply forget this little scheme to get rid of Bruce McNeill. After all, he had no guarantee that Barbara would turn to him, if Bruce died. She had never given him any hints that she felt anything other than friendship. Nick glanced at the photograph of the blond witch. New determination surged within his chest. He had to have her. Take care of her. Ensure that they spend the rest of their lives together. He had to save Barbara from a future with a rich, over-privileged and self-absorbed nobody. Despite all that Bruce had, Nick felt certain that Barbara needed more to make her happy. And that only he truly understood her.
Picking up the book, Nick continued his research. He skipped certain parts and found himself in the section marked, "I". The word jumped at him, from the book. Incubus. Hmm, interesting. According to the book, an incubus was a male spirit or daemon that sought sexual intercourse with mortals - especially women. All to draw the soul or spirit of their victim, leaving a residue of nightmares.
Nick considered summoning an incubus and placing him in Bruce's path. Only, he suspected that it would be difficult for an incubus to attract a heterosexual male like Bruce. There was another possibility . . . He leafed through the pages, until he came upon the "S" section. Ah yes. Succubus. The female version of an incubus.
Now, all he had to do was summon the right succubus for Bruce. And all of his trouble would soon be over.
END OF PART 2