"LIES AND CONSEQUENCE"
Her hands stuffed inside her coat pockets and her shoulders hunched forward, Phoebe dejectedly made her way toward the bus stop. She had visited Jason's penthouse in the hopes of winning his forgiveness . . . and winning him back. Although she had succeeded in the first task, she failed in the second.
The middle Charmed One found herself wishing that her Mata Hari persona had also went after Richard Montana. That moron had messed up her chances of reconciling with Jason, because of his stupid spell. She would have never become Mata Hari, never ruined Jason's business conference with a scourge of frogs and would have never sent demons after him. Granted, Richard had given Jason a potion to exorcise Mata Hari's spirit from her. But the damage caused by his karma spell outweighed his one good deed.
The downpour literally became a wall of water by the time Phoebe reached the bus stop. She found it increasingly difficult to see ahead. She could have also kicked herself for not borrowing Piper's SUV or Paige's green Volkswagen. Her own car was in the shop for some reason she could not fathom. Fortunately for her, the sign indicating the bus stop finally came into view.
A car's honk caught Phoebe's attention. She glanced to her left and saw a familiar black Porsche trailing her. The Charmed One's heartbeat increased. She would recognize Cole's convertible anywhere. Sure enough, the Porsche came to a halt and a door swung open, revealing her ex-husband's face. "Phoebe?" he said with a slight frown.
The Charmed One sighed as she wiped the rain from her eyes. "Yeah, it's me. What are you doing here, Cole?"
"I'm on my way home." Cole peered up at the sky. "You're walking in this wet weather?"
"My car is in the shop."
Cole suggested, "Why don't you hop in? I can give you a lift."
Phoebe hesitated. Normally, she would jump at the chance to accept a ride in this weather. But after her emotional meeting with Jason, spending time with her ex-husband might prove to be a bit too much for her. "Um, I'm sure that the bus will be here, any . . ."
"Phoebe, if you hang out here any longer, you'll end up with a bad cold. Or worse. Hop in."
Realizing that the half-demon made sense, Phoebe climbed inside the car. "Thanks for the ride," she said.
"No problem." Cole continued driving along the wet street. "What are you doing here, anyway? The BAY-MIRROR isn't exactly close by. And you're a long way from your house."
After a brief hesitation, Phoebe revealed that she had just paid a visit to Jason's hotel suite. "I guess you might as well know, if you don't already. It's over between Jason and me." She sneaked a glance at the half-demon to gauge his reaction.
Cole's blue eyes expressed curiosity and sympathy. Nothing else. Phoebe felt slightly disappointed. She had hoped to sense some glee or relief at her recent breakup. "I'm sorry to hear that," Cole said. "After all, you two had been together for nearly a year. What happened?"
Phoebe told him about the disaster that had befallen a family dinner party, a few nights ago. "Paige and I had invited Jason, Harry and Richard over for dinner. Paige and I were . . . uh, summoned by Piper and Chris to help them deal with Swarm demons. Paige had orbed us back to the manor, when . . . Jason caught us."
"Oooops," Cole murmured.
"No kidding. He didn't take it that well. In fact, Jason practically fainted at the sight of their magical arrival in the kitchen. But Phoebe kept that fact to herself. "I'm surprised that you didn't know," she added. "Especially since Harry was there."
Cole replied that he had not seen Harry since the previous Friday. "Olivia and I were in Carmel for the weekend. At some antiquity auction."
"For her new store?"
"Yeah." Cole made a sharp left on Franklin, causing Phoebe to inhale sharply. "You know, I just saw something on the news about Jason. Apparently, a large number of frogs mysteriously appeared at his business conference, thanks to some crazy French woman who . . ."
Phoebe groaned out loud. "Oh God! That was me."
A frown appeared on Cole's face. "You were the crazy French woman responsible for the frogs?"
"Yes, it was me," Phoebe confessed in a tight voice. "It's a long story and it has to do with that friend of Paige and Harry's . . . Richard Montana."
Cole's jaw tightened. "The one who always overreact every time he sees Olivia?"
Sensing the jealousy rising inside her ex-husband, Phoebe grumbled morosely, "That's him." She recalled how Paige and Harry had to deal with the spirit of Richard Montana's ex-lover, a dead witch named Olivia Caldwell. It all seemed ironic, considering that the name of Olivia McNeill Turner's late fiancé happened to be Richard.
Cole let out a sigh. "What does Mr. Montana have to do with this whole mess?"
"He started it," Phoebe replied darkly. She told him about the karma spell that Richard had cast. "Talk about incompetent! You know, if he had not cast that stupid spell, Jason and me would have reconciled."
Something like a cross between a snort and a grunt escaped from Cole's mouth. "If you say so."
Phoebe frowned at the half-demon. "What do you mean by that?"
Another sigh left Cole's mouth. "Phoebe, if you don't understand what I had meant, then I feel sorry for you." He paused. "By the way, how long will Dean be staying in San Francisco?"
"He's leaving for Hong Kong, today."
END OF PART II