Olivia, Darryl and Paul burst into the McNeill house. The former cried out, "Bruce? Bruce, are you here?"
"We're in the living room!" a voice that certainly did not belong to Bruce, cried out. Olivia stared at her two companions. The voice sounded like it belonged to Harry. What was he doing here?
Seconds later, the trio found the youngest McNeill in the living room, surrounded by Barbara and the Charmed Ones. "Harry, what are you doing here?" Olivia demanded. She glanced at Barbara and Paige. "What is this? A happening?"
Phoebe stood up from her chair. "We came by to help save Bruce. But we were too late."
Olivia noticed the strained expression on Barbara's face. "Bruce? He's gone? Dead?"
"Not dead. Just kidnapped." Harry added, "I don't think that Portia killed him."
Kneeling in front of her old friend, Olivia said, "Oh honey! Barbara, are you okay?"
"Okay? No, I don't think so," Barbara replied in a shaky voice. "My fiancé is missing. Possibly dead. And just two weeks before my wedding."
Harry spoke up, "He's not dead, Barbara. At least I don't think so." Everyone stared at him. "C'mon people! Portia Whatshername had plenty of opportunity to kill Bruce! Instead, she merely kidnaps him. I mean, why?"
Paul said, "Perhaps she wanted some information from him, first. Or perhaps she snatched him for this Marcano person to kill."
"Marcano?" Barbara's blue eyes widened. "Nick Marcano? What does he have to do with all of this?"
Olivia glanced at Darryl, who merely shrugged. "Remember that button Darryl and I found inside Mann's apartment?" she asked. Barbara nodded. "Well, according to Forensics, it belongs to Nick."
"Oh my God!" Paige cried out.
Piper asked, "Who's Nick?"
While Paige explained to Piper, Olivia turned to Barbara. "Listen, we also found a book on Demonology inside Nick's apartment. Apparently, he had summoned a daemon to kill Bruce."
"But why?" Barbara demanded. "Why would he . . .?"
Paige spoke up. "I think I know why. God! I should have figured it out, yesterday. I think I almost did."
"Okay," the Charmed One continued, "I think that Nick has a crush on you, Barbara. Or should I say a bad case of unrequited love. Heck, I've noticed it for months."
Shock poured out of Barbara's eyes. "What?"
Darryl added, "It's possible that he was trying to stop you from marrying Bruce."
"By summoning a daemon? What the . . . why go through all of that riglamore just to get Bruce?" Barbara demanded.
Phoebe added, "That's a good question. Why kill Wolfie?"
"To allow Portia to get close to Bruce," Olivia replied. "He must have known about the interview. And this house usually has a protection spell. Of course," she sighed, "I have no idea how Portia managed to get inside the house, this time."
Harry added, "I think that Bruce had removed the spell. How, I don't know."
Looking remorseful, Paige shook her head. "I know how Nick found out about the interview. I told him. God! If I had only knew!"
"Only knew what?" a familiar voice asked. Olivia repressed a shiver, as she and the others stared at the doorway. It was Cole. She took a few deep breaths to calm her increasing heartbeat. He strode into the living room, wearing a curious expression. "Who are you guys talking about?"
Before anyone else could answer, Paige spoke up. "Nick Marcano."
Paige added, "Remember Nick? The guy we talked about, last night?"
Phoebe frowned. "You two saw each other, last night?"
"Yeah, at Vorando's. Nate and I went there to celebrate his birthday." Paige turned back to Cole. "Speaking of Vorando's, have you heard from your friend?"
"No, not yet," the half-daemon replied. "I uh . . . I left a message behind for him to contact me."
A suspicious-looking Piper asked, "What friend?"
Right on cue, a handsome, dark-haired man of medium height, materialized in the middle of the McNeills' living room, surprising Olivia and the others. He glanced around, until his eyes rested upon Cole. "Belthazor! There you are."
"Demon!" Piper cried out. She raised her hands to blast the newcomer. Fortunately, Cole slapped her hands down before she could inflict any damage. Piper glared at her former brother-in-law. "What the hell you do that for?"
Cole retorted, "Figure it out!" He turned to the newcomer. "Sorry about that, Riggerio. I've been trying to find you." So this was Riggerio. Olivia's eyes appreciatively swept over the handsome visitor. Aunt Carla had not done justice to her description of the daemon. Cole added, "I'm glad you're here, Riggerio. I've been trying to find you."
Riggerio judiciously stepped forward. "Yes, I know. My . . . assistant had informed me." He spoke with a smooth Italian accent. "Do you have what I had requested?"
"Do you have what I want?"
Darryl cried out, "Wait a minute! Could someone please tell me who is this guy?"
"I can only assume that he's a demon," Paul coldly replied. "Exactly who, I have no idea." His eyes resembled marbles.
Cole made the introductions. "Everyone, this is Riggerio. He's an old . . . acquaintance of mine. And he's agreed to help us with information on Portia."
"Riggerio?" One of Piper's brows lifted dubiously. "Is he in the Book of Shadows? I don't recall seeing him."
"I doubt it. Riggerio is not exactly known in Wicca circles." Cole tartly added, "And will you please stop speaking of him, as if he's not here?" Piper's mouth curved downward.
With a polite smile on her face, Olivia stepped forward and offered her hand to the newcomer. "Buena sera, signor. My name is Olivia."
"And I'm Riggerio." The daemon planted a light kiss on her hand. "I am very happy to meet such a lovely young woman, such as yourself."
A snort left Piper's mouth. Cole glared at her. "And this is Piper Halliwell, my former sister-in-law," he said in a curt tone. "Thankfully." He ignored Piper's sharp glance. Then Cole introduced the others to the newcomers. "So, is there a reason for this visit?"
Riggerio smoothly explained that he had the information that Cole requested. "Of course," he added, "this would require the item you had mentioned."
Cole removed what looked like a small black box from his jacket pocket. The Crotona Ring, Olivia surmised. He opened the box and displayed the contents to the Stregheria daemon. "Now, about that information . . ." Riggerio reached for the box. Cole snapped it shut. "Ah, ah, ah, the information first."
"Yes, of course," Riggerio said with a regretful sigh. He revealed that Portia Della Scalla was the name of a powerful succubus.
Olivia frowned. "A succubus? Is that what she is?"
"No wondered she snatched Bruce, instead of killing him," Harry exclaimed.
A confused expression appeared on Paige's face. "What the hell is a succubus?"
"A daemon that kills by sucking away one's life force," Cole explained. "Through sex. A succubus is usually a woman. Of course, she has to have sex with her victim several times, before she can kill him. Or her."
"A female demon?"
Barbara added, "A succubus is a female daemon and her victims are usually men - especially if she wants to get pregn . . ." Her blue eyes widened in horror. "Oh my God! Do you think that's what she wants with Bruce?"
Harry replied grimly, "Wouldn't put it past her."
"Harry!" Olivia glared at her brother. Who rolled his eyes and looked away.
Cole said, "The male counterpart to a succubus is an incubus. He either kills or impregnates his victims."
"How did Portia acquire a human name?" Olivia asked. "I mean, Della Scalla?"
Riggerio nodded. "Yes. Della Scalla was the name of a reputable Venetian family. I believe they are still around. Portia's grandmother, a succubus, became pregnant by a scion of the Della Scalla family. She then gave birth to a son. An amadatti."
"A what?" Phoebe demanded.
"Amadatti." Riggerio frowned. "Surely you know what a wizard is? Some wizards or amadatti are the offspring of an incubus or succubus and a mortal. Anyway," he continued, "Portia's father was a wizard named Alberto Della Scalla. He became acquainted with a succubus named Burlanda. They first conceived Portia's older sister, Claudia. Three years later, Portia was born. However, Alberto never lived to see his second daughter. It seemed," Riggerio gave a discreet cough, "he and Burlanda got out of hand, the night Portia was conceived."
A smirk appeared on Cole's face. "Hmmm, in other words, they had failed to practice safe sex. I bet Alberto's last orgasm must have been quite a doozy." Riggerio rolled his eyes.
"If we're dealing with a succubus," Paul said, "then she should pose no real problem. A succubus is not that difficult to vanquish."
Contempt flared in Riggerio's eyes. "This succubus is. Portia is not some ordinary daemon. Her father was a wizard. She is very powerful, fast and resourceful. Both she and her sister have defeated more powerful opponents."
Olivia stepped forward. "So what are you saying? She won't be easy to kill? What about her powers?"
"Aside from teleportation and thrall, she also possesses electro kinesis. And like most succubus and incubus, she can put anyone within several feet, to sleep in an instant. You should be careful when approaching her, signorina. I hear that she is residing at one of the city's hotels." Riggerio regarded Olivia with deep appreciation. "However, I believe you have the intelligence not to overestimate Portia." Olivia responded with a brief smile.
Piper, who had been regarding Riggerio with deep suspicion, asked, "And what exactly do we have that makes you so willing to betray your own kind?"
"My own kind?" One of Riggerio's dark brows formed an arch. "Signora, the only ones I consider to be of my own kind are members of my congrega. My coven." He returned his attention to Cole. "By the way, Belthazor, I believe you have something that belongs to us."
Cole reached inside his jacket pocket for the small box. He handed it to Riggerio. "Here you go. As promised."
"Grazie." Riggerio bowed to the others. "Ladies, gentlemen, it has been a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Ciao." He immediately disappeared.
"Hmmm," Paige commented, "how very Old World."
Paul seemed concerned about another matter. He turned to Cole, eyes dark with suspicion. "What exactly did you give him?" he demanded.
"A ring," Cole replied. "A very special ring. It belonged to Riggerio's coven."
Piper added, "And what if Riggerio and his cronies decide to use it against innocents? Or other witches? You were taking a big risk, Cole, giving it to him."
Blue eyes coldly focused upon the oldest Halliwell. "Riggerio and his coven have managed to cause enough chaos and mayhem without that ring. Besides, it's been collecting dust in the Source's Realm for the last 36 years."
"Leo was right about you," Paul retorted. "You just made a deal with some demon by giving him a weapon that can be used against innocents. And you have the nerve to be nonchalant about it."
Cole shot back, "First of all, that ring is not a weapon! It's the Crotona Coven's sigil! Their personal seal. Which means that the damn thing belongs to them! And if you want to take it from them, be my guest! But your ass will end up in a whole world of trouble, because all you will be doing is stealing from them!"
"You son-of-a-bitch!" Paul growled.
Harry interrupted. "Hey! Enough of this shit! All right? If giving this Riggerio his sigil is going to help get my brother back, so be it!"
"Harry's right," Olivia added. "Now all we have to do is check the hotels. And I have a way." She held up the half-slip that Darryl had found. "Phoebe, Darryl found this inside Nick's apartment. We believe that it belonged to Portia."
Phoebe reluctantly took the slip. She closed her eyes and then . . . "Nothing. I'm sorry, but I'm not getting anything."
"Try harder," Piper suggested. "Concentrate."
Olivia shook her head. "No! Don't try concentrate. Relax. And allow the image to come to you."
As her body sagged into a relaxed form, Phoebe took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Seconds passed. Then a minute. After three minutes passed, Piper commented, "This isn't working. Phoebe needs to . . ."
Olivia shot the eldest Halliwell a dark look. "Shhhh! Be quiet!" Piper immediately clamped her mouth shut and glared at the older witch.
Another three minutes passed before a gasp escaped her mouth and she went into a deep trance. Which lasted for at least two minutes. When the trance ended, Phoebe fell to her knees. "Oh! Oh God!"
"What is it?" Paige demanded. She leaned down to help her older sister rise up. "Phoebe? Are you okay?"
The middle Charmed One turned to Olivia with anguished eyes. "I saw them. Portia and Bruce. And it was almost like my last premonition. With them having sex." From the corner of her eye, Olivia saw Barbara stiffened. Phoebe continued, "Only I didn't see Portia kidnap Bruce. And while they were having sex, she seemed to be sucking the life out of him. Then he was dead."
"Did you see where they were?" Paul asked.
Phoebe nodded. "Looked like a hotel room."
Olivia asked, "Do you know which hotel?"
Again, Phoebe closed her eyes. "I think . . . I can't . . ."
"Concen . . ." Piper broke off. "I mean . . ."
Olivia spoke up. "Just relax, Phoebe. Like before. And focus."
Once more, Phoebe's body became less tense. Her breathing became shallow, less ragged. She gasped and went into a trance for the second time. Then, "The Omni!" Her outburst took Olivia and the others by surprise. "The Omni Hotel. On Nob Hill. At least that's what the sign in front of the building says." Breathing heavily, she added, "They're at the Omni Hotel."
Paul stepped forward. "All right, this is what we'll do. We'll call Leo to orb . . ."
"We don't have time," Cole sharply interrupted. He grabbed both Darryl and Olivia. "I'll take them to the hotel. Hopefully, we'll be able to stop her. Let's go." Before he, Olivia and Darryl could beam out, Barbara grabbed hold of Olivia's arm. And the four disappeared.
END OF PART 17