Nearly two hours later, a very conscious Olivia, along with Darryl, entered one of the precinct's interrogation rooms. Inside sat Nick Marcano, staring morosely at the wall.
"Nick." Olivia stood in front of the Streghone, blocking his view. "So, are you ready to talk?"
Dark eyes filled with hostility, glared at Olivia. "Talk about what?"
"About the whole thing," Darryl added. "Your version of what happened to DeWolfe Mann and Bruce McNeill. You're facing charges of first degree murder, accessory to kidnapping and assault upon an officer of the law. You might as well fill in the blanks."
Trembling with anger and desperation, Nick continued to glare at the two officers. "I have nothing to say to either of you," a sly expression crept into his eyes, "unless you let me go."
"And why should we do that?" Darryl demanded.
Olivia knew exactly what Nick meant. Before he could speak, she glanced at the video camera hanging above on the wall opposite the door. Using her telekinesis, she disconnected one of the cables from the camera.
Nick sat back into his chair, looking smug. Olivia had never seen that expression on his face, before. "Because if you don't let me go, I'll tell the whole world everything about you and the Halliwells."
An angry Darryl shot back, "You're blackmailing us?"
"That's right. Blackmail. I'm sure that the San Francisco Police Department would love to know the truth behind all of those strange cases you've encountered." Nick gave the pair a defiant stare.
Olivia crossed her arms across her chest and coolly stared at the Streghone. "Are you willing to expose your own family, as well?"
"Why not?" Nick retorted. "They've done nothing but treated me like the poor relation! Including Aunt Carla!"
So much for that argument, Olivia thought. It never really occurred to her, until now that Nick was a sad and lonely man. And desperate. No wonder he had latched onto Barbara's friendship like a leech. Following his parents' deaths, he must have spent most of his life treated as an outsider - by his acquaintances and his mother's family. Including Aunt Carla. As much as Olivia sympathized with the Streghone, she could not ignore the fact that he had committed murder for the sole purpose of ensuring the death of another. Or that he was trying to blackmail her and Darryl into releasing him. And that she had to stop him. Fortunately, Olivia had a trick up her sleeve.
"Okay Nick," she said, "if you insist upon going ahead with this threat of yours, we'll have to resort to something else."
Nick sneered. "Like what? Kill me?"
Olivia leaned forward, allowing her eyes to burn into his. "No, something else. Like having your memory altered. Before you can say one word to the captain, I'll summon Cole here. Have him do a little song-and-dance with your memories." Nick's face paled underneath his light tan. "Unless you don't mind having your mind violated."
"I . . ." Nick glanced at the room's video camera. A smile curved his lips, as he returned his gaze to Olivia. "You sure you want to do that? Whether my memories are erased or not, your captain is going to find out, anyway."
"If you're referring to that video camera above," Olivia coolly replied, "I suggest that you take a close look." Both Nick and Darryl stared at the camera. "You will see that the cables are no longer hooked to it." It was now Olivia's turn to smile. "Now, about your plans to reveal all?"
Nick's shoulders sagged in defeat. He seared Olivia with a resentful glare. "Like I said before, I have nothing to say."
* * * *
Olivia and Darryl left the interrogation room, minutes later. "Man, that was a close call," Darryl said, shaking his head. "I'm only surprised that he didn't demand to see Barbara."
"I doubt that she would have given him the pleasure," Olivia replied with a smirk.
Darryl shot Olivia a curious glance. "By the way, were you serious about getting Cole to mess with that man's head, if he had decided to talk?"
A pause followed. Olivia stopped in mid-stride. Gave her partner a cool look. "What do you think?"
"I think . . . I don't want to know the answer to that question." Darryl glanced to his side. His eyes grew wide. Olivia followed his gaze. Paul Margolin happened to be one of the figures striding along the corridor to their left. And he seemed to be heading straight for them.
The ADA paused before the pair. "There you are," he declared. "I wondered what happened to you, when Cole and Barbara had returned to the house with Bruce."
"Didn't Barbara tell you?" Olivia asked, smiling at him. "We had to book Nick here at the station. Bruce and Barbara should be here tomorrow, to make a statement."
Paul nodded. "And Marcano?"
"He's been charged with murder. First degree. Along with accessory to kidnapping and assault upon a police officer."
Darryl added, "He also tried to blackmail us into dropping the charges. Threatened to expose all of you as . . ." He shot a nervous glance around him. "Well, you know."
Anxiety filled Paul's eyes. "Wha . . .? Oh my God! What did he . . .?"
Olivia patted the ADA's arm. "Don't worry. I managed to convince Nick that it would be detrimental to his . . . state of mind."
Shaking his head, Darryl said, "It's a long story. Meanwhile, I have a report to give the Captain. And a call to make." He walked away.
The two witches remained in the middle of the corridor, facing each other. "So Cole, Barbara, and Bruce made it back okay," Olivia commented.
Paul replied, "Yeah. Although I think both your brother and Beltha . . . uh, Turner looked a little worse for wear. Especially Bruce. I'm only surprised that Turner had been affected by that succubus, considering how powerful he's supposed to be."
The pair resumed their walk toward the squad room. "Cole may be powerful, but he's not invincible. Unfortunately, he is vulnerable to psychic powers like the rest of us. Remember Barbas?"
"Oh." Silence fell between the two before Paul continued, "Listen, about Turner, I don't know if it was wise of him to deal with that Riggerio demon. I mean, I know what a sigil is, but I also know that it is supposed to be a source of power as well. A being's ka. But how do we know that ring was what Bel, uh, Turner claimed . . ."
A sigh left Olivia's mouth. She stopped and gave the other witch a hard stare. "Paul, Cole was telling the truth, okay? The ring was a sigil. In fact, I knew all about the ring. And about the deal. Trust me, the ring did belong to Riggerio's coven. That's all there is to it."
"But doesn't it bother you that Bel . . . Turner is dealing with . . ." Paul halted in mid-sentence, grabbed Olivia's arm and led her inside an empty break room. "Doesn't it bother you that he's seeing other demons, again?"
Oh God! Olivia thought. She really had no patience to deal with this subject, again. Leo's constant nagging had been bad enough. "Paul, this is not the first time Cole has sought information from other daemons and warlocks. Hell, I've done it on numerous occasions. And I've used criminals . . . mortals as sources of information. I believe you have, as well." She paused, as her eyes bored into Paul's. "Are you that bothered by my relationship with Cole?"
"Maybe I am. I'm not exactly used to hobnobbing with demons."
Olivia stared at Paul. She could sense the dislike and suspicion he seemed to harbor toward Cole. And the confusion over her relationship with the half-demon. "Look, if you can't accept my friendship with Cole," she said deliberately, "then we might as well part ways. I've already made it clear to Leo that 'no one' has the right to choose my friends . . . except me."
Paul stiffened slightly under Olivia's hard tone. Then he nodded with seemingly understanding. And resignation. "Sorry. I understand. I, uh . . . hope you understand that this doesn't mean that I'll have to be friends with him." Olivia responded with a silent shrug. Paul heaved a sigh. "Great. Listen, why don't we change the subject? The real reason I came here was to ask if you were available for lunch, tomorrow."
A teasing smile twitched Olivia's lips. "Not dinner?"
"Sorry, but I'll be on a plane to San Diego, by tomorrow evening."
Olivia quickly sobered. "Oh. The DiMatteo case, huh?"
"Yeah. What else? Going my way?" Paul linked his arm with Olivia's and the pair left the room to continue their way along the corridor.
* * * *
Barbara entered her fiancé's bedroom to check on his condition. She found Bruce struggling to fasten his pajama top. "Here, let me." She fastened the buttons for him.
"God, I feel so damn tired," he commented. "I don't think I have any energy left, after today."
The blond woman helped Bruce onto the bed. "Considering that a succubus came close to sucking the life out of you, I'm not that surprised." Barbara paused, before she pulled the blanket over him. Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "By the way, did you and that Portia woman . . . you didn't achieve . . . penetration?"
"Huh?" Bruce stared at Barbara with dazed eyes. "Pene . . . are you talking about sex?"
Barbara shrugged. "If you want to put it that way. Yeah."
"No! I mean . . ." Confusion dominated Bruce's expression. "I don't think so." He heaved a frustrated sigh. "Hell, I don't remember! I feel so confused. One minute I was looking at Portia's face and the next minute, yours. I think she must have been a shape shifter."
"Don't worry, honey." Barbara planted a light kiss on her fiancé's forehead. "A long rest and some tea later on will do you some good. I've already called your mom and told her that you won't be available for work, tonight."
Bruce gave her a wan smile. "Thanks." Another sigh left his mouth. "Damn shame about Portia being a succubus."
Her suspicions rising again, Barbara frowned. "What do you mean?"
"The article for the BAY-MIRROR. After this, I doubt that Jason will continue the story about the Golden Horn. He'll probably kill it."
Barbara gave Bruce a second kiss. "Who cares about a silly old newspaper story? I'm just thankful that you're not dead. Speaking of Jason . . . or should I say the Halliwells, the extra wedding invitations that you had ordered, have arrived. Harry and Livy will make sure that Paige's sisters will get them."
"That's nice," Bruce murmured. Then he closed his eyes and fell into a deep sleep.
Barbara allowed herself a small smile and left her fiancé's bedroom. As she walked along the corridor, she recalled Bruce's words about Portia resembling her. If the succubus had to morph into her own form to seduce Bruce, whom did Cole see when the succubus had seduced him inside the hotel room?
* * * *
Deborah Mann stared at Cole with hopeful eyes. "Is it true? That Wolfie's killer has been caught?"
Cole, who had decided to pay the late columnist's sister a visit, nodded. "Yeah. About several hours ago. How did you find out?"
"I had received a call from Lieutenant Morris. He told me that the killer was some accountant named Nick Something."
"Nick Marcano," Cole added. "It seems that Marcano found out that your brother would be interviewing Bruce McNeill and decided to kill him in order to replace Wolfie with this hired killer."
Looking confused, Deborah shook her head. "I don't . . . I don't understand. Why would this Marcano person want Bruce McNeill dead?"
"He uh, . . . he was in love with Bruce's fiancée. Obsessed with her, actually."
Disbelief shone in Deborah's eyes. "You mean to say that Wolfie was killed, because some guy was in love with another man's fiancée?"
Cole's only response was a shrug of his shoulders. After all, what else could he say?
* * * *
"I don't believe it!" Phoebe declared. Nearly six hours had passed since the incidents of the afternoon. She and the other Halliwells had gathered in the living room to welcome their guests - Harry and Olivia McNeill. The red-haired witches had arrived to deliver wedding invitations for her, Piper and Leo.
Paige heaved a long-suffering sigh. "Phoebe, can you please give it a rest? You've been saying the same thing ever since we found out about Nick."
Leo glanced up. "I don't blame her," he said. "I find it hard to believe it myself."
Annoyed, Paige rolled her eyes. "Yeah, well believe it. Fortunately, with Nick behind bars and that Portia woman dead, we have nothing to worry about."
Olivia had opened her mouth to respond, but Piper spoke up, first. "Are you sure?" She held Wyatt in her arms, rocking him up and down. "Didn't that Riggerio demon mention a sister?"
Leo frowned at his wife. "What sister? And who is this Riggerio?"
Olivia replied, "He's a daemon well known among Streghone witches. Cole had went to him for information on Portia. Apparently, she has an older sister."
"Cole got information from a demon?" Leo asked, frowning. "And why would this Riggerio be willing to help?"
Piper handed Wyatt over to Leo. "Apparently, Cole gave him a ring. I forgot the name."
"The Crotona Coven's ring," Harry added. "It's his coven's sigil. Aunt Carla - Nick's aunt - once told us about it. It's nothing to worry about."
"Nothing?" Piper protested. "We don't know what that ring can do. A lot of innocent people can get killed, because of that ring. I wonder if Cole ever stopped to consider that."
A loud and exasperated sigh escaped Olivia's mouth. All eyes turned to her. "Oh for God's sake!" she cried. "Do any of you have the slightest inkling on what a sigil is? I mean, you've been witches for what? Four-and-a-half years? A sigil is a seal. A signet. Or a symbol. Like the one on the cover of your Book of Shadows." She faced Leo. "Have you ever told them anything about sigils?"
Assuming a defensive expression, Leo shot back, "Of course I have!" Then he became less certain. "Well, somewhat. The girls do know about the symbol on their Book of Shadows."
"Oh Goddess!" Olivia rolled her eyes. "Then they should understand what that ring means to Riggerio. It's a sign of his coven's power. It belongs to them. Their coven's ka. Their heirloom. Trust me, they've probably manage to wreck enough havoc without that ring, during the last 36 years. What does keeping it away from them going to accomplish?"
None of the Halliwells or Leo could answer Olivia's question. She sighed and turned to her brother. "By the way Harry, the invitations?"
"Oh, yeah." Harry picked up a pile of envelopes and handed one each to Piper, Phoebe and Leo. "The invitations. When Bruce found out that your old ones were lost in the mail, he had ordered new ones."
Piper gave the McNeills a prim smile. "Thanks. I'm looking forward to the wedding." Both Leo and Phoebe said the same.
A deafening silence filled the kitchen. Then Phoebe spoke up. "About Portia's sister - I don't think we'll have to worry about her seeking revenge. I mean, she's a demon. Evil. Why would she seek revenge in the first place?"
"Um, maybe because Portia was her sister," Harry commented. "And they probably loved each other."
Phoebe insisted, "But they're evil. Evil can't love."
Paige glanced at the McNeills and saw the disbelief on their faces. "Who told you that?" a frowning Olivia asked.
"Cole," Phoebe replied simply. "And Leo."
In true McNeill fashion, Olivia rolled her eyes in disgust. "I suppose Raynor had taught Cole that stupid notion. What an idiot he must have been! Actually Phoebe, daemons can love, despite what they or whitelighters might say. And I wouldn't be surprised if this other succubus came after us for revenge."
Paige added, "Oh yeah! Like Oren. You know . . . that demon who came after us when we had killed his son." Her sisters stared at her, causing Paige to feel self-conscious. "You remember. When we first met Eva."
"Well said," Harry commented. Paige noticed the admiration in his eyes. To her surprise - and embarrassment - she felt a hot flush.
Phoebe commented, "At least Jason is going to be happy that Wolfie's killer has been arrested."
"And Portia?" Leo added. "I mean, there's no body or any remains of her." He said to Olivia, "How did you and Darryl explain her disappearance?"
Olivia shrugged her shoulders. "As a disappearance. She's been declared missing. And a fugitive. We've told the captain that Nick may have killed her, but since we have no body, we can't charge him with her murder."
Phoebe frowned. "I don't know if Jason is going to like that."
The look on Olivia's face told Paige that the redhead could not care less about Jason's feelings.
* * * *
The following morning, Olivia and Darryl received a call from the SAN FRANCISCO BAY-MIRROR. Namely one Jason Dean. "Hello Jace," a wary Olivia greeted, "what can I do for you?" Both she and Darryl were listening on Line 2.
"Olivia. I heard that you guys had caught DeWolfe Mann's murderer, yesterday. Congratulations."
"Thanks. I suppose that Phoebe had told you."
Jason replied, "Actually, it was one of my reporters. Phoebe never said a word. Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
A sigh filled Olivia's ear. "That Mann's killer had been arrested," Jason answered. "Exactly when were you planning to tell me? Two months from now?"
Disgusted, Olivia glanced at Darryl and rolled her eyes. Darryl answered, "I thought you knew, Mr. Dean. Our captain had released the news to the press, yesterday afternoon. I'm sure that when your . . . uh, reporter had found out."
A silent moment passed before the publisher burst out, "Oh really? I thought that since Mann did work for me and that . . ." He hesitated, then another outburst followed. "Dammit Olivia! Even if we had a bad break-up, you could have at least given me a personal message! For old time's sake! And how did Phoebe find out?"
"Why don't you ask her?" Olivia shot back. "Now if you're finished with this conversation, we can . . ."
Jason spoke up. "Wait a minute! What about Portia?"
Darryl calmly replied, "As you may have learned, Mr. Dean, she was hired by Marcano to kill Bruce McNeill. That's why your reporter ended up dead. Unfortunately, Miss Della Scalla has been declared missing. We don't know if she's dead or had skipped out. Marcano isn't talking."
Jason retorted, "Then make him talk! You're supposed to be the police!"
Olivia sighed. Loudly. "We can't do that without violating his constitutional rights, Jason," she retorted sarcastically. "Or haven't you heard?"
After a brief period of stammering, Jason said, "I didn't mean . . . Dammit! There's a woman out there who is implicated in the death of one of my reporters! And the only person who might know where she is, isn't talking. And you're not going to do a thing? No wonder this city's police department is in trouble!"
Remembering why she and Jason broke up in the first place, Olivia struggled to keep her temper in check. "Listen Jason," she hissed, "we're trying our best to find your missing columnist, but at the moment, there's a good chance that she won't be found. So why don't you accept that fact and let us do our job? And then you can hang up and continue being a second-rate version of Charles Foster Kane!"
The telephone line went dead. Darryl shook his head with disbelief. "If we find ourselves unemployed because of that man, don't be surprised."
"Well, I'm sorry Darryl, but he can really get on my nerves!" Olivia retorted. "It was a miracle that our relationship had lasted a month!"
Darryl leaned back against his chair and sighed. "Well, you know what this means."
"At least we can look forward to an editorial in the BAY-MIRROR on the incompetence of the San Francisco Police."
Olivia reached for her computer's keyboard. "Considering the number of editorials that have been written since the recent police scandal - big deal." She focused her attention on the computer screen before her.
END OF PART 19