"THE ENGAGEMENT NEWS"
RATING: PG-13 Adult language.
SUMMARY: Friends and family receive news of Cole's engagement to Olivia McNeill. Set after "The Power of One". AU Season 6.
FEEDBACK: - Be my guest. But please, be kind.
DISCLAIMER: The Charmed Ones, Leo Wyatt, Darryl Morris and Cole Turner belong to Constance Burge, Brad Kern and Spelling Productions. The McNeills, Cecile Dubois, and other characters are, thankfully, my creations.
"THE ENGAGEMENT NEWS"
Cole strolled along Jackman, Carter and Kline's sixth floor corridor, with his mouth stretched unknowingly into a wide grin. He greeted passing co-workers without his usual reserve, generating surprised reactions from them.
"Good morning!" he cheerfully greeted a fellow attorney from the Corporate Law Division. The man stared at him, goggle-eyed and quietly returned the greeting.
A familiar figure approached Cole from the opposite direction and stared at him. "Cole?" she uttered in a bewildered voice.
The half-daemon smiled happily at his colleague. "Veronica! Good morning!" The dark-haired, statuesque Veronica Altman halted before him. Still staring at him with a stunned expression. Cole frowned at her. "What?"
"Are you taking drugs, or something?" the other attorney commented sarcastically.
Cole threw back his head and laughed, startling his colleague. "I keep forgetting about that crazy sense of humor of yours." Then another smile stretched his lips. "You have a nice day, Veronica. See you." He brushed past her and continued toward his office.
After surprising his assistant, Eleanor, with a cheerful grin, Cole finally entered his office. He dumped his suitcase on the desk and settled into his leather chair. Not long after he had closed his eyes, the familiar odor of gardenias filled his nostrils. He sighed, as his eyes flew open. "Veronica, what are you doing here?"
"You never did answer my question," Veronica replied. She gave Cole an appraising look. "You seem very happy this morning, Turner. And that's rare. Especially for you."
Cole leaned further back into his chair. "What are you talking about? I've been in a good mood, before."
Veronica rolled her eyes. "At this level? Oh please! C'mon Turner, what gives? Right now, you make Bozo the Clown seem like the Grinch."
At first, Cole felt hesitant to reveal the news he now harbored like a loving secret. Both he and his better half - namely one Olivia McNeill - had decided not to tell her family the news, until tonight. But since it seemed unlikely that Veronica would ever have the opportunity to break the news first . . . he decided to tell her. He took a deep breath. "You remember Cecile Dubois, don't you?" he said. "My latest client, who also happens to be dating a close friend of mine?"
"Of course, I do. The computer software designer from New Orleans," Veronica replied. "What about her?"
Cole continued, "She and Andre - my friend - just became engaged a few days ago. They're getting married in January. Or maybe February."
Veronica smiled. "How nice. That's the reason why you're wearing a shit-eating grin, this morning?"
Shooting his colleague a dark look, Cole continued, "No! I . . ." His smile returned. "Let's just say that Andre and Cecile aren't the only ones engaged." He paused dramatically and waited for Veronica's reaction.
A slight moment passed before the other attorney's gray eyes grew wide, as realization struck her. "Oh! Oh my God! Are you . . .?"
"I had proposed to Olivia, last night," Cole said, still smiling. "And she accepted."
Veronica reacted with delight. "Well congratulations!" she cried. Then she bombarded him with a dozen questions. Had the happy couple set a date? What kind of wedding ceremony will they have? Where did they plan to honeymoon?
Cole interrupted his colleague's question in protest. "Veronica? Please? One question at a time. For your information, the answer for each question is . . . I don't know. Well, except for the second question. The ceremony will probably be the same as the one for her brother Bruce's wedding."
"You know, I had no idea that the McNeills were into one of those New Age religions." Veronica regarded Cole with a questioning gaze. "Are you?"
"I'm not into any religion at the moment. However," the half-daemon gave Veronica a friendly smile, "you are certainly invited to the wedding."
Veronica smiled back. "Great! And what about our employers, Mister Jackman, Carter and Kline? Will you invite them, as well?"
Cole responded with a pained expression. "Must I?"
A frustrated grunt escaped from the suspect's mouth, as Olivia McNeill snapped a pair of handcuffs around his wrists. "Jeremy Alvers, you have the right to remain . . ."
"I'm gonna get you, bitch!" Alvers cried, as he attempted a swipe at the female police inspector. "No woman is gonna take me! Especially some bitch cop!"
Ignoring the stares of her colleagues, Olivia grabbed hold of Alvers' arm and pressed - not too gently - into a particular nerve inside his elbow. The suspect groaned with pain. "Listen here," she hissed under her breath, "I'm not in the mood to deal with your misogynist bullshit. Now, get your act together, so I can Miranda you and haul your ass inside that squad car. Understand?" When Alvers failed to respond, Olivia pressed harder into his nerve. "I asked if you understood."
"Ye-e-ess!" Alvers groaned.
Olivia nodded. "Good. Now - Jeremy Alvers, you have the right to remain silent . . ." She continued to read the suspect's Miranda rights. When she finished, she summoned two uniformed officers to escort him to a squad car.
A sigh left the redhead's mouth, as her partner and squad leader, Darryl Morris, approached her. A frown creased his brow. "That guy give you any trouble?" he asked.
"Nothing I can't handle," Olivia replied jauntily. "What about Hector Aquilar? Was he caught?"
Darryl nodded. "Scott and Marcus got him." He scrutinized Olivia through narrowed eyes. "You seemed to be in a good mood, this morning. Has it anything to do with Cecile and Andre's engagement?" Olivia's family had invited Darryl and his wife to attend the engaged couple's celebration party, last night.
Olivia allowed herself a private smile. "Not quite. I mean . . . I'm happy for both of them."
"Uh-huh." Taking the redhead by surprise, Darryl grabbed her right hand.
Olivia protested. "Hey! Darryl! What are you . . .?"
The older cop interrupted. "Then I can only assume that your present good mood has something to do with this!" He lifted her hand, displaying the ring on her finger. "Something new?"
With a sigh, Olivia said, "It's a ring."
"No kidding," Darryl shot back. "It's interesting that it's on the very finger that Sheila had worn her engagement ring, years ago." One of his brows rose questioningly. "Does this mean you have some news to announce?"
After a long pause, Olivia finally confessed. "This goes no further than you, until I say so. I haven't even told my family or Cecile, yet." Then she allowed herself a radiant smile. "Cole had asked me to marry, last night. And I said yes."
Darryl immediately enveloped her into a bear hug. "I thought so! Congratulations!" Then he sobered quickly. "So . . . you don't mind marrying a half-demon, considering what had happened to Phoebe and Cole?"
"If I did, I would have said so." Olivia broke away from his embrace. "Cole isn't exactly the first daemon to get involved with a McNeill, you know."
With a sigh, Darryl replied, "You're talking about something that happened nearly a thousand years ago." The two partners watched the squad car drive away with Alvers inside.
"I know that," Olivia said, "but don't forget that I still carry the blood of that incubus within me. Or else I wouldn't be . . ." She paused, as a uniformed cop strode past them. ". . . Keeper of the Aingeal Staff. Besides, I had come pretty close to killing Cole last summer, thanks to Leo. I'd say that Cole and I could be a danger to each other."
Olivia and Darryl climbed into their car. The latter heaved a sigh. "I guess you have a point. So, when is the happy event?"
"I don't know." Olivia sighed. "We haven't set a date, yet. To be honest, I'm not really in the mood for a long engagement. Maybe we'll get married before Cecile and Andre's wedding. Or after." She patted Darryl's arm. "Don't worry. You, Sheila and the boys are definitely invited."
Darryl murmured, "I only hope that it'll be less eventful than Bruce's wedding. Or Piper's. Or Phoebe's." He switched on the car's engine and seconds later, guided the car through San Francisco's streets.
The New Orleans couple stared at the half-daemon and the witch, after the latter made their announcement. The two couples had met for lunch at Gweneth McNeill's second restaurant - Morgan's.
"I can't believe it!" Cecile exclaimed. "Only you two would get engaged, while having a fight."
Olivia smiled. "What can I say? We were inspired."
"This inspiration is getting to be a habit. Didn't you two first start dating, after a fight?" Olivia and Cole merely exchanged a private smile and ignored Cecile's question.
Andre grinned at his close friend. "So, you had finally decided to give her that ring after all. Huh?"
Cecile frowned. "Finally?"
Cole's face turned red with embarrassment. "I, uh . . . I had bought the ring, over two months ago. I just needed the right mom . . ." He broke off, under Olivia's direct stare. Which reminded him of their argument, last night. "I mean I just finally worked up the nerve to ask her." Olivia smiled.
"When is the wedding date?" Cecile asked. "I hope it won't be around the same time as ours." She and Andre had planned their wedding for mid-February.
Olivia shot a quick glance at her fiancé. "Well, I'm not exactly in the mood for a long engagement . . ."
"Neither am I," Cole added. "How about next month? At least a week or two before the Winter Solstice and Christmas?"
After a brief pause, Olivia commented, "Sounds good to me."
Andre threw back his head and laughed. "Oh man! You two should hear yourselves. You sound like a bunch of lawyers negotiating over a contract."
Cole allowed himself a brief smile. "Well, both of us have studied the law. What do you expect?"
"Oh, I see. I guess you consider that a great requisite for a happy marriage."
Cecile asked, "What about your honeymoon? Andre and I have decided to go to Bermuda."
"That sounds nice," Cole commented.
However, Olivia had another idea. "How about Walt Disney World?"
The half-daemon stared at her with disbelief. "Are you serious?"
"Of course I am."
"Disney World is for children," Cole protested.
Olivia argued, "Maybe, but it's also one of the top honeymoon resorts. Why not? We can stay at the Grand Floridian."
"Sounds good to me," Andre commented. He turned to Cecile. "You know, maybe we should consider . . ."
Cecile declared firmly, "I would prefer Bermuda, thank you very much."
"So would I," Cole protested.
Olivia rolled her eyes. "Why don't we talk about it, later?"
Shaking his head, Cole turned his attention to Cecile. "By the way, I had received your message about your upcoming meeting with Jason Dean."
"You have a meeting with Jason?" Olivia asked her friend.
Cecile nodded. "Tomorrow morning. Jason and I had a talk about my new software program, at your folks' party, last Thursday. It seems that he's interested in becoming a customer."
"Hmmm." Olivia lifted a dubious brow. "I'd be careful, if I were you, Cecile. I realize that you're an experienced businesswoman, but Jason is one of those types who collect companies and conglomerates like old stamps. He might try to buy your company. Or hire someone to create a program design, similar to yours."
Cecile's mouth twisted into a caustic smile. "And your daddy and little brother are above such things?"
"Of course not! They're businessmen! But they know you a lot better than Jason does. Hell, if they had tried a stunt like that, you would probably find a way to get even. And they know that." Olivia returned her friend's smile with one equally tart. "And you would, wouldn't you?"
Cole spoke up. "As Cecile's new West Coast attorney, I can assure you that everything she has created for her company has been patented under her name. If someone does try to steal her software designs, I'll make sure that she'll end up with at least twenty-five percent of that person's assets."
Cecile gave him a smile. "Isn't he great? Everyone should have a lawyer like him."
A smirk curved Olivia's mouth. "Yes, he is. As for Jason, I don't think you have to worry about him, now. From what Paige has told me, he's recently preoccupied with another matter. Like trying to convince a certain girlfriend to accompany him to Hong Kong."
Inside the supermarket, Paige Matthews guided her shopping cart along one aisle. She struggled to maintain her patience, while her older sister babbled endlessly over a personal matter.
". . . mean, oh my God! Hong Kong? That's like on the other side of the world!" Phoebe Halliwell exclaimed. She strode beside the younger woman. "But I can't keep putting it off. Sooner or later, I'll have to tell Jason, no."
Paige added in a laconic voice, "Even though you want to go?"
"Even though I . . ." Phoebe broke off and glared at her sister. "What makes you think that I want to go?"
Rolling her eyes, Paige reached for two cans of tomato paste. "C'mon Pheebs! It's written all over your face. You would like nothing more than to go to Hong Kong with Jason. Why bother reading that Chinese-English dictionary he gave you?" She and Phoebe continued along the aisle.
"Cantonese," Phoebe corrected. "There's no such thing as the Chinese language. They speak many different dialects throughout China. Cantonese, Shanghainese, Mandarin, and . . ."
Paige rudely interrupted, "Excuse me, but I didn't realize that we were in the middle of a Discovery Channel program, here."
With a sigh, Phoebe continued, "As I was saying, I can't go."
"Why not?" Paige paused, before she guided the shopping cart around a corner. The two sisters started down another aisle.
"Hel-lo? Power of Three?" Phoebe paused, as a woman walked past them. She continued, "How can we kick demonic ass and protect the innocent, when I'm on the other side of the Pacific?"
Paige heaved a long sigh. "God, Phoebe! You're actually going to give up a chance to be with the man you love for that? Besides, you and Piper did just fine, while I was in Scotland, last summer. For a whole month."
"What if you encounter a demon that requires the Power of Three to vanquish it?"
Paige retorted, "Then I'll ask Olivia or Harry for help. Or maybe even Cole."
Doubt crept into Phoebe's eyes. "I don't know . . ." she began.
"Well, I do!" Paige snapped. "Look Phoebe, if you want to be with Jason that badly, maybe you should go to Hong Kong, after all. Something tells me that if you don't, you'll probably regret it someday." With that, she dumped a box of LIFE cereal into the cart and continued along the aisle. Phoebe followed in her wake.
His secretary's voice rang clear from the intercom box. "Mr. McNeill, your cousin is on Line Four."
Jack McNeill glanced up from the report on his desk and frowned. "Cousin? Which one?"
"A Mr. Sean McNeill, calling from Australia."
"Thanks, Beatrice." Jack allowed himself a smile, as he pushed the intercom button for his telephone. "Sean? Is that you?"
Sean McNeill's Australian accent seemed as thick as ever. "Jack! How are things in California, mate?"
Jack leaned back into his chair. "San Francisco is just fine. How's Sydney?"
The two men shared a common great-grandfather - one Charles McNeill, whose own father had been the first in the family to arrive in San Francisco, near the end of the 1840s. Charles' younger son, an Alec McNeill, had immigrated to Australia, over ninety-five years ago. One of Alec McNeill's grandsons happened to be the 57 year-old Sean. "Actually, I'm calling you from the airport in Melbourne," Sean said. "I just finished a three-day visit with Belinda and her family."
"And how is my little sister?" Jack asked in a warm voice. His only sister, Belinda, happened to be nine years younger than him. She had married an Australian university professor named Warren Grant.
In a hesitant voice, Sean replied, "Oh . . . she's fine. I think. I, uh . . . I gave her and Warren some news that I think they found . . . well, surprising." He paused. "And I think you'll also find it surprising."
Now, Jack became intrigued. "What exactly is this news?"
The sound of a PA system vibrated in the background, as Sean replied, "I'll tell you when I get to San Francisco, tomorrow afternoon. I have a stopover in Honolulu. Look, I have a flight to catch. See you later mate. Bye." He hung up, after Jack had bid him good-bye.
The middle-aged witch slowly turned off the phone's intercom. Then he leaned his chair further back, as he pondered over his cousin's mysterious call. What kind of news did Sean harbor that proved so surprising to his younger sister?
END OF Part One