"AN AFTERNOON IN BABYSITTING"
Within an hour, all seemed well inside the penthouse. Wyatt was fast asleep in one of the guest bedrooms. Olivia and Cole were on the living room sofa, locked in another passionate embrace. Actually, Olivia sat on Cole's lap with her arms wrapped around his neck. And her lips pressed against his.
"Do you think we should be doing this?" she murmured, after Cole's lips traveled to the curve of her neck.
Cole planted a soft kiss, emitting a small moan from her. "Why not?" he whispered. "Wyatt is fast asleep in another room." His tongue flickered into the hollow of Olivia's throat. "And we finally have an opportunity to enjoy some quality time, together." His mouth returned to hers, and the couple engaged in another passionate kiss. Then . . . cries of an infant reverberated into the living room. The half-daemon heaved a long suffering sigh. "Shit!"
Olivia reluctantly climbed out of his lap. "I better see what's wrong."
"Probably nothing," Cole growled. "I think that damn kid simply wants some attention."
"Wait a minute. I thought you and Wyatt were bonding."
Cole rolled his eyes. "I had to do something to keep that kid quiet. Besides, this is the second time, I had to deal with 'coitus interuptus', thanks to his crying!"
More wails traveled into the bedroom. Olivia sighed. "I'll be back." She marched into the guest bedroom, where she found Wyatt squirming underneath his baby blue blanket. Olivia picked up the squalling infant. And sniffed. "Cole!" she cried. "Could you come in here, please?"
Seconds later, the half-daemon rushed into the bedroom. "What's wrong?" he demanded. Then he sniffed the air. "What the hell?"
Olivia replied, "It's Wyatt. We need to change his diapers."
Cole took a step back. "We?"
"Yes, Mr. Turner. We!" Olivia grabbed the reluctant half-daemon's hand and jerked him forward. "I'm not the only one who's going to be changing diapers, today."
Terror filled Cole's eyes. "But I don't know how!"
Smirking, Olivia replied, "Don't worry. By the end of the day, you will be an expert. Now, hand me that bag, and then remove his diaper." She dumped the soiled infant into Cole's arms. He regarded her with horror. "What?"
Cole handed over the handbag filled with Wyatt's belongings. "You want . . . me . . . to remove his diaper?"
A sigh left the redhead's mouth. As much as she loved Cole, he could be so anal at times. She handed him a smaller blanket. "Yes. Put this on the bed, lay Wyatt down and remove his diaper. You don't need written instructions!"
Muttering to himself, an annoyed half-daemon spread the blanket on the bed, using magic. Then he lowered the still squalling Wyatt on the blanket. He stared at the diaper. "Okay," he began, "how do I unfasten this?"
While she rummaged through the bag containing Wyatt's belongings, Olivia replied, "Unfasten the tapes at each side of his diaper. Near the waist."
Cole heaved a deep sigh and bent over the infant. Olivia realized that he must have found the adhesive tapes that held the diaper together, for Wyatt finally stopped crying. And a ripe odor filled the room, as Cole removed the diaper. "God, he smells . . ." the half-daemon began. Then it came at him without any warning. One minute, Cole was holding a soiled diaper, while talking to Olivia. The next moment, an arc of urine streamed out of Wyatt . . . and struck Cole right in the center of his chest.
"Wow!" Olivia exclaimed. "Talk about bullseye!" Then she broke into laughter, earning a glare from the half-daemon. Cole returned his attention to the now gurgling infant, and regarded him with a murderous stare. Olivia's laughter continued, unabated.
Nearly twenty minutes later, Cole strolled out of the bedroom, with Olivia close at his heels. She held Wyatt in her arms. "Oh God," he moaned. "That was probably the most traumatic experience I have ever endured. Not even getting killed by Phoebe and her sisters come that close."
Olivia gave him a cheerful pat on the back. "Oh come on! It wasn't all that bad. You did a good job."
"That . . ." Cole glared at a placid-looking Wyatt. "That crea . . . kid pissed on my shirt." He pointed at the wet circle on his T-shirt. "On my favorite T-shirt."
Mock sympathy appeared on Olivia's face. "Hmmm, Wyatt does have good aim, doesn't he?"
"I'm glad that you found it funny," Cole growled. "Meanwhile, I have to deal with piss on one of my favorite shirts!"
Olivia rolled her eyes. "For heaven sakes, Cole! Just change shirts, will you? And stop making such a fuss." Cole shot her one last glare and headed for the bathroom. He heard her give one last parting shot. "And I would take a shower, if I were you!"
Less than fifteen minutes passed before Cole emerged from the bathroom. He wore a clean, white long-sleeved shirt. Olivia now sat on the sofa, rocking Wyatt in her arms. She looked very maternal. "Is he asleep?" the half-daemon asked. Upon closer look, he noticed that Wyatt seemed focused upon the television set. "I guess not."
"I can't get him to sleep." Olivia shot Cole a long-suffering glance. "And I think he's turning into a TV addict. If he hasn't become one, already."
Cole sat down on the sofa, next to her. In a sardonic tone, he suggested, "Why don't you take him for a walk? Maybe that will stop him from becoming a couch potato before his time."
Despite his sarcastic tone, Olivia seemed to find the idea acceptable. "That is a good idea. We can take Wyatt out for a nice, afternoon stroll. Maybe at Fisherman's Pier. Or the Marina Green."
Cole stared at her, as if she had lost her mind. "Are you crazy? I was just joking!"
Olivia stood up, breaking Wyatt's attention away from the television. The baby began to cry. "Well, it's a good joke. And it's also a good idea. Why don't we?" With Wyatt still crying in her arms, Olivia strode toward the guest bedroom.
Cole closed his eyes and sighed. "Me and my big mouth," he muttered.
Forty minutes later found Olivia and Cole strolling along a paved path that woven between the park and the marina. The reddish-gold spirals of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge loomed in the far left. Cole pushed a baby blue pram that contained the increasingly hyper Wyatt Halliwell.
Olivia took a deep breath and glanced up at the sky. "Isn't it a beautiful day? A blue sky, white clouds, the boats, and the bay looks cleaner than . . ."
"We shouldn't be here." Cole glanced nervously around, as if expecting a daemon to pop up from the nearest bush. "Allowing Wyatt out in the open like this is a mistake. What if we're attacked by . . .?"
"By another daemon?" Olivia snorted. "Well, I can only assume that we're both capable of dealing with an attack. Come to think of it, even Wyatt can take care of himself. Don't you think you're being a little paranoid?"
Cole rolled his eyes. "Of course I'm paranoid. How do you think I've managed to survive for over a century?"
Looking slightly annoyed, Olivia retorted, "Well, can't you ease up a bit? You're ruining my day."
"May I remind you that this park serves as a gateway to one of the demonic market places?" Cole shot back. They passed a man standing next to an ice cream cart. He seemed to be placing a wallet in his back pocket.
Olivia shook her head in disbelief. "That was at the Golden Gate Park, Cole! Remember? And as I recalled, Piper and Phoebe had destroyed that marketplace, last spring. So, why don't you please get it together and put your paranoia on ho . . ." She glanced down into Wyatt's pram and found the infant playing with a wallet. "What on earth?"
"My wallet!" The cry came from the man standing near the ice cream cart. "Someone took my wallet!"
And Olivia knew who was responsible. She gave the baby an admonishing stare. "Wyatt!" Then she turned to Cole, who looked slightly confused. "Wyatt took a wallet from that man near the ice cream cart. Could you send it back?"
"Huh?" Realization slowly dawned on the half-daemon's face, as Olivia pointed out the distraught man. "Oh. Yeah." Cole waved one hand over the wallet and it disappeared. And Wyatt . . . began to cry. "Hey! Kid!" He picked up the infant. "I'm sorry, but you can't go around swiping other people's wallets."
The man near the ice cream cart cried out, "My wallet! It's okay. It's here on the ground."
Wyatt continued to cry. Cole tried to hand him over to Olivia, but she removed a bottle of milk from the shoulder bag, instead. She tried to stick the bottle's nipple into the baby's mouth. "Here you go, sweetheart. Are you hungry?" Apparently not, for Wyatt's wails continued.
Cole lifted the baby, until they were face-to-face. He shook Wyatt for a few seconds. "Hey. Hey! Wyatt?" he said in a stern voice. "Stop this. Listen to me. Listen. You can't go around taking other people's stuff. It's called theft and you can get into a whole lot of trouble." Olivia rolled her eyes in disbelief. Was he kidding? Cole continued, "Trust me on this. I know from personal experience. You hear me?"
To Olivia's surprise, the speech worked. Wyatt's cries finally subsided. Cole coddled him for a few seconds and returned him to the pram. The baby picked up the bottle of milk and happily shook it.
"I don't believe it," Olivia exclaimed in disbelief. "He actually listened to you. I'm beginning to think you're not so bad with kids, after all."
Cole growled, "Don't fool yourself. This experience is only going to make me insist that I use contraceptives, as much as possible. And that we should have stayed indoors."
A long-suffering sigh left Olivia's mouth. "I see the paranoia has returned. Your mother was right. You are too paranoid for your own good."
"Like I said, being paranoid has kept me alive."
Olivia shot back, "It's too bad that it didn't save you from being possessed by the Source. Or being killed by Paige and her sisters, over a year ago."
"Look Cole, being vigilant and careful is fine. But no amount of paranoia is going to keep you completely safe." Olivia began pushing the pram. "We all take chances with our lives, when we wake up, every morning. Surely after 118 years, you've managed to figure that out." She glanced down into the pram and heaved an exasperated sigh. Wyatt sat happily inside, playing with a pair of sunglasses that did not belong to him, Olivia or Cole. "For crying out loud! Wyatt!"
Cole demanded, "What did he do now?" Olivia pointed at the baby and the sunglasses. A smirk appeared on the half-daemon's lips. "I see. Now I wonder if this would have happened, if we had remained at the penthouse?"
Annoying bastard! It took all of Olivia's willpower not to bitch-slap her boyfriend. It was a miracle that more than one woman had ever fallen in love with him. Glaring at Cole, she retorted, "I used to do it all the time with my telekinesis, when I was kid. I had even released a bunch of puppies at a pet store, once. And I don't recall being kept inside the house all of the time. Now, will you please return those glasses?"
"Whatever," Cole muttered. He waved his hand over the sunglasses and they disappeared from the pram.
The couple continued to argue over the merits of staying indoors, while they continued their stroll through the park. By the time they had returned to the safety of Olivia's BMW, Wyatt had teleported another seventeen more objects.
"In Purson's name!" a tall, blond-haired man hissed in a low voice. "I can't believe my eyes!"
One of his companios, a portly man with thinning dark hair asked, "You found the portal, Ciyaher?"
The blond man, a daemon from the Khorne Order, replied, "I found something a lot more interesting."
"Not the portal to the new marketplace?" The portly man, whose name was Grogor, hovered near Ciyaher's shoulder.
Ciyaher sighed. For the umpteenth time, he wondered why he had allowed such a single-minded creature like Grogor to serve under him. "He's not talking about the new market's gateway, moron," the third member of the trio retorted. A gangly redhead, sporting a goatee and mustache, dragged Grogor away from their leader. "He's talking about Belthazor." Ciyaher gave the red-haired daemon a grateful nod. Unlike Grogor, Umbar possessed brains.
"Belthazor? Where?" Grogor glanced frantically around him.
"Over there, idiot!" Ciyaher pointed at the couple climbing into a dark-green BMW. "There's Belthazor . . . with his witch. And a baby."
Confusion whirled in Grogor's dark eyes. "Belthazor is a father?"
To Ciyaher's satisfaction, Umbar swiped the side of the slow-thinking demon's head. "No! Of course not! Belthazor doesn't have a child! We would have known, if he had. That must be the Halliwell baby. Belthazor and the witch are familiar with the Charmed Ones. They must be taking care of the child."
"But I thought that Belthazor's witch was one of the Charmed Ones," the idiot insisted.
Ciyaher closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Why did Grogor always seemed to be one step behind the times? And why did he continue to allow the idiot to be a part of his circle? Then his eyes snapped open. "Belthazor's relationship with the Charmed One is over, Grogor. He is now dating a McNeill witch. And I don't recall any of the Charmed Ones being a redhead. Do you?" He glared at his minion.
A nervous looking Grogor shook his head. "No Ciyaher."
"Then shut the hell up! Unless you are spoken to." Ciyaher paused and thoughtfully regarded the green BMW pulling out of the parking space. "If only we could get our hands on that child. What a source of power he could be for us! Only . . . I don't know how we can take him from Belthazor and the witch."
Grogor commented, "The car must belong to her." The other two daemons stared at him. "What?"
"Did I ask for your opinion?" Ciyaher growled.
Grogor's face turned red. "No Ciyaher. Sorry." He fell silent.
Ciyaher turned to speak to Umbar . . . until he regarded Grogor's words. In Purson's name! He was about to ask for this idiot's opinion. He took a deep breath. "Why do you think the car belongs to the witch?"
"Because she's driving, instead of Belthazor."
Umbar regarded the younger demon as some kind of idiot savant. "And your point?"
Grogor shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? The man driving the car, and the woman holding the baby? And with Belthazor holding the baby, how do we get it from him? How are we supposed to get the baby from him?"
Shaking his head in disbelief, Umbar retorted, "How did that tiny brain of yours ever dredged up such nonsense?"
"It's not nonsense," Ciyaher commented. He stared at Grogor, surprised that the younger demon's babbling had made some sense. "Frankly, it's good observation on Grogor's part." Umbar gawked at the blond demon. "Even more importantly, they're traveling by car and not teleporting."
A confused Umbar shook his head. "What are you getting at Ciyaher?"
The senior daemon smiled cryptically. "I have an idea."
Olivia drove the BMW into the building's underground parking lot and eased it into her usual space. After she switched off the engine, Cole climbed out of the passenger seat. "Uh, mind opening the trunk?" Seconds later, the trunk popped open. Cole removed the pram, placed it on the ground and unfolded it. While Olivia climbed out of the car, he reached inside for Wyatt and placed the latter inside the pram. "Ready?" he asked.
"Just a . . ." Footsteps clattered across the concrete floor. The couple exchanged wary looks. "Oh. Someone's here," Olivia said. "We better use the elevator, instead. You go on ahead, while I get Wyatt's bag from the back seat."
Cole nodded, as he began pushing Wyatt's pram toward the elevator. He had not gone very far, when he heard what sounded like a gasp, followed by a scuffle. Alarmed, he turned around and spotted Olivia surrounded by three men. One of them - sporting red hair and a goatee - held the witch in a tight grip. "Olivia!"
"That's far enough, Belthazor!" a familiar and deep voice ordered. Cole recognized that voice. It belonged to a mid-level daemon he had not seen in twelve years. Ciyaher. The latter continued, "Or else my associate will kill the witch."
Keeping his fear and anger under control, Cole took another step forward. He stared menacingly at the three demons. "Nice try, Ciyaher. But you won't be able to hold on to her, very long." He waved his hand at Olivia. And nothing happened. Much to his consternation. "What the hell?"
Ciyaher smirked. "Thought that would take you by surprise. Didn't you look carefully, Belthazor? Your witch is wearing a little present I thought you might appreciate."
Cole's eyes narrowed, as he spied a necklace hanging from Olivia's neck. An amulet. Or a talisman. "What's that?" he demanded.
The three daemons chuckled. "You don't recognize the talisman around the witch's neck?" Ciyaher mocked. "I'm surprised at you, Belthazor. You're losing it."
An exasperated sigh escaped from Cole's mouth. "Well, why don't you enlighten me?"
"It's a talisman. Valac's Talisman. Surely you've heard of it?"
Indeed, Cole had. The talisman had been created by a dominion spirit for some wizard, over four hundred years ago. It prevented any magic practioner from teleporting a person or object that the talisman hung from. "Very clever," Cole murmured. "How did you manage to get your hands on it?"
Smiling, Ciyaher replied, "Oh, the talisman has been in my order's possession for nearly thirty years. It used to belong to Artemus, the head of my order - until the Source had him imprisoned in the Stygian Abyss. Now . . ." The daemon's smile disappeared. ". . . I want you to hand over the Halliwell baby. To my companion over there." Ciyaher nodded at a dark-haired, stocky being, who stood near Olivia's captor.
Cole hesitated. Ciyaher had him trapped and he knew it. As much as he wanted to save Olivia, he could not sacrifice Wyatt. The eight month-old baby got on his nerves, but Cole could not hand the child over to a second-rate monster like Ciyaher. If only he could teleport Olivia . . . Wait a minute. The talisman only blocked a teleportation power.
"So I can't teleport a person or object while that thing is around," Cole said. "Am I right? Is that all it does? Block teleportation?" He shot a meaningful stare at Olivia, who arched a brow.
Ciyaher frowned. "What do you mean? Of course that's all it does! It's all I need it for. You can't rescue your little girlfri . . ." He rolled his eyes in disgust. "Don't tell me that you're still going to try to rescue her? Give it up, Belthazor! Hand over the child, and you'll get her back."
"I know I can't rescue her," Cole retorted.
"Good." Ciyaher's amusement returned. "Now, don't tell me that you're attached to that baby. He's the son of your enemies - one of the Charmed Ones and that whitelighter. The son of one of the witches who had killed you, over a year ago. You want to protect him?"
Cole sighed. "No. I guess not."
Nodding, Ciyaher added, "Why don't we end this ridiculous standoff and you hand over the child to Grogor."
Feigning reluctance, Cole reached inside the pram . . . and waved his hand over Wyatt's form, causing the infant to disappear. He straightened up, empty-handed. "Why should I hand Wyatt over to you? What if Olivia . . . is able to rescue herself?"
Ciyaher rolled his eyes. "What are you getting at? She's not a Charmed One, Belthazor. So, stop playing around and hand over the child! Or the witch dies! Umbar! Why don't you give our old 'friend' a demonstration? Don't kill her. Just . . . show a little blood."
Before the red-haired daemon could press the knife against Olivia's neck, it flew out of his hand . . . and toward his stocky companion. The hilt buried deep into the latter's forehead. As the daemon called Grogor dropped dead to the ground, Olivia sent Umbar flying against a concrete pillar. He quickly flung a fireball at the witch. Using her telekinesis, she deflected it back toward him and he incinerated into a ball of fire. Olivia removed the talisman
The blond-haired daemon reacted with horror at the deaths of his minions. "Oh my . . . Wait a minute! This wasn't supposed to happen!"
"No kidding," Olivia muttered sarcastically.
Cole sneered at the other daemon. "It probably wouldn't have happened, Ciyaher, if you had also used a talisman to block telekinesis."
A roar from Ciyaher filled the air, and he whist the pram from Cole's grip. At the same time, he flung an energy ball at Olivia. Cole waved his hand, and the witch and the other demon immediately switched placed before the energy ball engulfed Ciyaher.
Once his screams died to a whisper, Olivia turned to Cole. "Not a very bright bunch, were they?"
The half-daemon glared at his girlfriend. "And you consider taking Wyatt away from the safety of the penthouse, bright?" He waved his hand for the second time and Wyatt returned inside the pram, happily gurgling, as usual.
Olivia rolled her eyes. "I see we're back to that topic, again." She grabbed hold of the pram's handle. Cole immediately teleported all three back to his penthouse.
"There's a lesson to be learned from all of this," Cole replied. "Like safety."
"Well here's a lesson for you." Olivia removed Wyatt from the pram. "It's unhealthy to give in to our own paranoia. Wyatt will always be in danger from daemons, warlocks and maybe even humans. Just like the rest of us." She began to bounce the baby up and down. "It's one thing to be vigilant. It's another to become a prisoner of our own paranoia. Besides, Wyatt had a pleasant time at the park. Right Wyatt?" She planted a light kiss on the baby's cheek.
A wide grin appeared on the infant's face, and he continued to gurgle. Cole folded the pram and shot Wyatt a mock glare. "So much for saving your ass, kid. Thanks a lot." Wyatt responded with more gurgles.
END OF PART 2