Monday, May 15, 2017
"Double Emnity" (R) - Chapter 3
"DOUBLE EMNITY" - Chapter 3
The female minion strode into the well-furnished room that served as Prax's private office. "Pardon me, sir," she began. "We have a visitor."
Sitting behind his desk, Prax tore his eyes away from the computer screen. "Send him away. I'm busy," he muttered.
The female hesitated. "She . . . is from the police. The San Francisco Police."
The police? Mild anxiety gripped Prax. Then he remembered. This manor was not located in San Francisco. "Remind our visitor that this is Palo Alto and not under the San Francisco Police's jurisdiction. Failing that . . . kill her."
"This particular police officer happens to be Belthazor's wife. Only, she had introduced herself as Olivia McNeill."
The news stunned Prax. The anxiety within him re-emerged. How did Olivia Turner and Belthazor finally track him? Tight-lipped, Prax ordered the minion to allow their visitor inside the manor. "Escort her to the red drawing room facing the terrace."
"Yes sir." The minion nodded and left the room.
Breathing heavily, Prax made his way to Artemus' private study. There he found the senior daemon examining some documents from a yellow envelope. "Prax," Artemus said in a morose voice. "I've just discovered some unpleasant news about one of my employees." He held out what turned out to be a photograph to the younger daemon. "Do you know this man?"
Prax glanced at the photograph of an attractive man in his early thirties, standing near one of the elevators. The latter possessed light blond hair and narrow features. He frowned. "Ah, yes sir. Anjuli had pointed him out to me as one of our new attorneys. Um . . . Bryan Something. I mean . . . Deighton. Bryan Deighton. Very efficient."
"Apparently, he is a lot more," Artemus murmured. "Klymus had recognized him as a Gimle Order daemon named Cirhan. He remembered . . . Deighton from an encounter in the Gambian Dimension, nearly a year ago."
Prax stared at his superior in disbelief. "A spy?"
Artemus sighed. "Possibly. Considering Belthazor's suspicions of the Magan Corporation, I would not be surprised if he had passed them on to his uncle. Have someone kill him as soon as possible, Prax. Tonight, if possible."
"Yes sir." Prax hesitated. "Um . . . speaking of Belthazor, I have more disturbing news."
"What?" Artemus barked.
After taking a deep breath, Prax announced their new visitor. "It's Olivia Turner, Belthazor's wife."
Artemus' easy going expression tightened into a frown. "What . . . how did she find me? Is Belthazor with her?"
"According to Anjuli, she is alone," Prax answered. "And she had introduced herself, using her maiden name. I had Anjuli escort her to the Red Room."
Artemus' frown deepened. "Curious. This might be a trap to draw me out. I want you to meet with her. Find out what she wants."
"Yes sir." Prax left a frowning Artemus and made his way to the Red Room. It happened to be a wide drawing-room filled with Empire-style furnishings and its walls painted in red. The room faced a stone terrace that overlooked the property's back lawn.
A few minutes later, Anjuli appeared in the room with a human female. One look at the guest and Prax found himself taken aback by her presence. She stood at five-feet-eight and possessed a well-endowed figure that would stop anyone in his or her tracks. But what made the visitor unforgettable were her curly red hair that ended slightly past the nape of neck and vibrant green eyes filled with humor and intelligence that peered from a delicately beautiful face.
"Prax," she greeted in a husky voice. "It's good to see you, again." Belthazor's wife held out one of her hands.
The daemon hesitated, before he reluctantly grabbed hold of the redhead's hand and shook it. "Inspector Turner, I am glad to meet you at . . ."
"Inspector Turner?" Her green eyes widened in surprise. "So, it is true. About the other Olivia and Cole, I mean. They are married."
Prax frowned. "The other Olivia? I'm sorry, but what are you trying to say?"
Lady Belthazor gracefully sat down on the sofa. Prax quickly occupied a chair to her right. "Let me put it this way, Prax. I . . . am from another dimension. An alternate dimension, in which I am a warlock."
For a moment, Prax regarded Belthazor's wife with disbelief. Then he broke into an unpleasant laugh. "What do you take me for? An idiot? Nice try, Lady Belthazor. Now I suggest that you leave before . . ."
Prax's cell phone rang. He removed it from his jacket pocket and answered it. "Yes?"
It was Artemus. "Prax, escort the young lady to my study. I would like to speak with her."
"But Artemus . . ." Prax begin to protest.
The older daemon barked, "Now!" He hung up.
Prax struggled to maintain his emotions . . . and his embarrassment, as he faced the red-haired visitor. "My . . . leader would like to meet you."
The visitor smiled. "You mean, Aretemus." Prax stared at her in shock. She added sweetly, "You had mentioned his name."
Maintaining a calm façade, Prax murmured, "Please follow me." He stood up and lead the visitor out of the room.
"Not a bad dinner," Cole murmured, as he helped his wife cleared the dining table.
The red-haired witch looked slightly affronted. "Not bad? That's it?"
Cole glanced into Olivia's eyes and noticed the humor that did not matched the outraged expression on her face. He allowed himself a slight smile. "That's all you'll get from me," he replied. "Sorry, but I don't believe in encouraging ego trips."
Olivia wrinkled her nose. "You're lucky that I have these dishes in my hands, Mr. Turner."
At that moment, the dirty dishes in the couple's hands disappeared. Cole teleported the dishes to the kitchen sink. "If you like, I can clean them as well," he said with a smirk.
His wife's next words knocked him out of his sails. "That's okay." She started toward the kitchen. "I'll just clean them. Right now, as a matter of fact."
"Now?" Cole stared at Olivia through narrow eyes. Apparently, she had decided to indulge in that perverse side of her nature. He gave his right hand a brief wave. When he arrived in the kitchen, he found Olivia staring at the clean dishes neatly stacked inside one of the cabinets. "What do you know? They're already clean."
"Hmmmm." Olivia regarded her husband with a mixture of disbelief and amusement. "You really must be horny tonight. What's the matter? Can't wait . . . even for a few minutes?"
Cole grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close to him. A gasp escaped past Olivia's lips. "I've been waiting all afternoon," he murmured. "Don't you think it's time I stop?"
"Well . . ." But before Olivia could finish her reply, Cole lowered his mouth upon hers for a deep kiss.
The red-haired warlock glanced around the well-furnished study with an appreciative eye. Then Olivia's gaze fell upon a handsome, middle-aged male with thick curly brown hair that grayed at the temples and a pair of piercing hazel-green eyes. "So, you're Belthazor's lady love. It is a pleasure to finally meet you."
"Lady love?" Olivia eased into a chair facing her host. "Not . . . wife? You believe my story?"
The daemon replied, "I had you under surveillance, while you were talking with Prax. By a telepath. So, you're still Ms. McNeill. Not married yet?"
An arch smile touched the warlock's mouth. "Not yet."
Nodding, the daemon continued, "My name is Artemus, by the way. I've been the head of the Khorne Order for nearly a century." He hesitated. "As a warlock and associate of Belthazor in your world, surely you've heard of me."
"Yes, I have," Olivia answered. "But I'm not here to discuss my universe. I'm here to ask for your . . . help."
One of Artemus' eyebrows cocked upward. "Really? What exactly do you need?"
Olivia sighed. "Information. Namely the whereabouts of the Olivia McNeill of this world. I've just learned that she had moved some time ago."
Curiosity gleamed in Artemus' eyes. "Why do you need to find her?"
"She has the Staff of Aingeal," Olivia answered. "I need it. Both Cole and I need to kill the present Source." She went on to explain how her family had kept the staff hidden from her, following their discovery that no other McNeill pyrokinetic had been able to wield the staff. "I've already tried to steal it last June. In Scotland."
Prax commented, "I heard about that." The other two stared at him. "I mean that I heard that you had . . . I mean, your alter ego had been briefly kidnapped near her ancestors' Scottish home. Several warlocks were arrested. Their ringleader, Russell Pierce, had disappeared."
"He didn't disappear," Olivia coolly corrected. "I killed him. He had failed to do his job and I no longer needed him."
Both Artemus and Prax exchanged astonished looks. The former commented, "Well, I . . . congratulations. I have heard that this Pierce was a hard man to kill. Apparently not. As for the staff . . ."
"Yes?" Olivia stared at the older daemon.
"Exactly who will you use it against?" Artemus' eyes narrowed dangerously.
Olivia calmly replied, "Against the Source. Who else? Belthazor and I plan to become the new rulers of the Source's Realm."
Aretemus' eyes remained dangerously narrow. "And who exactly is the present Source in your dimension? The old one?"
"Hardly," Olivia shot back. "The Halliwells had killed him, two years ago."
A long pause followed before Aretemus continued, "Am I . . .?"
"Your alter ego had been killed some thirty years ago," Olivia said, interrupting. "On the Source's orders."
Artemus' face paled slightly. "I see. In this dimension, the Source simply had me imprisoned in the Stygian Abyss." He sighed. "At least my other self had been spared 26 years in that hellhole. But who . . .?"
"Could we return to the main subject?" Olivia demanded. "Like the information I need?"
Coolly, Artemus leaned back into his leather chair. "Of course." He paused momentarily. "You do realize that I require payment for that piece of information?"
Payment? Olivia found herself growing wary. "For an address?"
"That address contains something that you want badly, Miss McNeill," Artemus shot back. "Well?"
Olivia sighed. "Okay, what do you want?"
The daemon replied, "Someone dead. There is a spy within my organization. A daemon from the Gimle Order." He paused. "You have heard of . . .?"
"Yeah, I have," Olivia shot back. "I've had a few encounters with some of them over the years." She sighed. "I need a name and a description."
Artemus reached for a photograph on his desk and handed it to Olivia. She stared at the attractive looking male with pale blond hair and intense light green eyes. "He goes by the name of Bryan Deighton. But one of my aides had recognized him as Cirhan. I believe he comes from the Usines Dimension, but I'm not too sure."
"Okay," Olivia muttered. "So what else do you know about him?"
"My aide had learned from one of my employees that he likes to frequent a nightclub called P3." Artemus paused dramatically. "Does that sound familiar?"
With a nod, Olivia continued, "Yeah, the old Halliwell place."
"Old?" Artemus frowned. "You mean you say that the club no longer exists in your world?"
Olivia shrugged. "I'm afraid not. Mind you, I don't care since I have never bothered to visit it.
Artemus whispered, "So, the Charmed Ones are dead."
Olivia quickly corrected him. "They're still alive in my world. Trust me." She paused as a thought came to her. "Look, I'm willing to kill this guy for you. But . . . if I find the other Olivia's address first, this deal is off. You'll just have to kill this Cirhan yourself."
"I understand," Artemus said with a nod. As Olivia rose to her feet, he added, "By the way Miss McNeill, you never told me who was the new Source in your world."
A sardonic smile curved Olivia's lips. "No, I never did. I would tell you, but I don't think even you could handle the shock. Good evening." She shot a quick smile at the two daemons and left the room.
END OF CHAPTER 3