March 3, 2004 . . . A ring of light appeared on the floor inside the semi-furnished bedroom. Seconds later, three people materialized inside of it. Paige glanced around with mild dismay. "We're back! We haven't gone anywhere."
"Wanna bet?" Cecile shot back. "Haven't you noticed something? Listen."
Both the Charmed One and Harry paused momentarily. "No footsteps," the latter declared. "And no voices."
Paige could not believe it. "You mean to say that we've traveled back through time? But to when?"
Cecile started toward the bedroom door. "We'll soon find out." The two witches followed her.
"I don't get it," Paige continued, as the trio marched along the second-floor hallway. "A time travel spell requires very powerful magic. Like the Power of Three. We shouldn't have been able . . ."
A sigh left the Vodoun priestess' mouth. She paused momentarily. "Paige, magic isn't always about brute force. How many times do I have to tell you? It's about doing it properly . . . regardless of powerful any magic practitioner is. I think you and your sisters need to rethink about how you practice magic." She added in a low voice, "After we reset time and save Olivia and Cole."
Paige shot a quick glance at Harry and noticed the smirk that briefly curled his lips. Asshole. She would get even. Meanwhile, she and her asshole of a boyfriend followed Cecile downstairs to the manor's foyer. The lack of demons running afoot told her that Cecile's spell had worked. They also encountered the McNeills' manservant, Davies.
"Mr. Harry?" Davies regarded the youngest McNeill with surprise. "What are you doing here?"
Harry regarded the manservant with relief. "Davies! Boy, am I glad to see you!" One of Davies' eyebrows rose questioningly. "I mean . . . I live here, of course."
"I understand that sir," Davies continued. "But what are you doing here? Now. Just two minutes ago, you had called to inform me that you would not be joining the family for supper, tonight. Something about spending the evening with Ms. Matthews." His gaze rested upon Cecile. "And I didn't realize that Miss Cecile . . . I mean, Mrs. Morrell was here in town."
"Ooops!" Harry took a deep breath. "Okay, Davies, uh . . ."
Cecile blurted out, "Davies, we're from the future." Both brows rose toward the manservant's hairline. "Two weeks from the future. A pretty horrible one, at that."
The manservant paused. Then, "I see. Is there anything you need, sir?" he asked Harry.
"No," the redhead replied. "Just the nearest telephone. Excuse us." Harry led the others into the library. There, he telephoned the police station where Olivia worked. One of her co-workers, an inspector named Marcus Anderson replied that Olivia, Scott Li and Darryl had reported to a call. "Do you know where?" Harry asked. Several seconds passed before he bid a frustrated good-bye and hung up. Harry informed the two women that it was the police policy not to reveal the locations of crime scenes to civilians – except for the media.
"I'm not surprised," Cecile heaved a sigh. "I just wish I could remember where Olivia had been shot."
"Shot?" Davies' tone expressed surprise. "Miss Olivia has been shot?"
Paige curtly replied, "She will be . . . very soon. Unless we can find a way to find her."
The manservant gave a slight cough. "Well . . . there is Miss Cecile."
"Huh?" The Vodoun priestess frowned.
"You are a seer, are you not?" Davies continued. "I'm sure you can find something in Miss Olivia's old room to channel."
Cecile shook her head in self disgust. "Of course! What was I thinking?"
Harry started toward the door. "I'll take you there." The two women and the other man followed the red-haired witch out of the library and up the stairs to the second floor. He led them to one of the rooms on the hallway's right side. "Here we are." He opened the door.
"Nice," Paige commented, as her eyes drank in the tastefully decorated room. Painted in light mint green, it possessed an English-style highboy and a four-poster bed. "What do you want to use to channel Livy's wherea . . .?" She broke off, as a gasp escaped from the other woman's mouth. "Cecile?"
The Vodoun priestess opened her mouth and heaved a sigh. "I think I know where Olivia is. In an alley, off Powell Street. At least I think it's Powell Street. And there's another Olivia with her."
"So, Darryl was right!" Harry exclaimed. "Let's go." He started toward the door.
Paige cried out, "Hey! I can orb us from here."
Harry grabbed her arm. "I don't think so, sweetheart." He dragged her toward the doorway. "Protection spell around the house. Remember?"
Dammit! She had forgotten about the McNeills' spell that prevented demons and other magical baddies from making surprise appearances on the estate. Only Cole and Wyatt were powerful enough to overcome the spell.
The quartet finally reached the edge of the front lawn. Harry turned to Davies and asked him to make an attempt to reach Olivia or Darryl. "Ready?" he asked Paige, his hand now enclosed within hers. Cecile grabbed the Charmed One's other hand. Seconds later, Paige orbed them from the McNeills' lawn.
In an alley off Powell Street, Olivia shot a quick glance over her shoulder, before returning her attention to the doppelganger that stood before her. A visitor from a parallel dimension, this Olivia had arrived to prevent an alternate of a cousin from stealing the Aingeal Staff now in her possession. "Okay. I'll help you just as soon as I deal with this homicide," she said, referring to the death of an informant she used. Then Olivia paused, as an idea came to her. "Do you know anything about this?"
The doppelganger regarded her with confused eyes. "Know anything about what?"
"The two bodies in the other alley," Olivia said in a hard voice. "One of them is Lee Ramos. Is that name familiar to you . . . in your dimension?"
Green eyes widened in horror. "Oh my God! Lee is dead?" Then she shook her head. "What am I saying? It was bound to happen . . . knowing Lee."
"I'm not so sure in this case," Olivia said. "This Lee was found dead with a hole in his chest. Someone . . . had incinerated his heart."
The doppelganger regarded Olivia with suspicious eyes. "Wait a minute. I had nothing to do with that. I had followed you from the station. The only person I can think of . . ."
Olivia sighed. "Fiona. Of course." The witch spoke of her cousin, Fiona McNeill Craig. "She had probably killed Lee to lure me here. I'm sorry. My paranoia got the best of me. I keep forgetting that you're actually . . . me." She glanced around the alley. "I just hope that Fiona is still not here."
"She might be on her way to wherever you live."
A derisive snort from Olivia followed. "And what is she going to do? Break in? I doubt it, considering that Cole has that apartment warded . . ." She broke off, recalling Phoebe's premonition. "Oh my God! Cole! Does your Fiona have a shapeshifting ability?"
"No," the doppelganger replied. "But I'm certain that she knows a spell or two. Why?"
"Oh my God!" Olivia inhaled sharply. "Listen, why don't you hide somewhere for a few minutes, while I finish up here. Then we'll go to my apartment."
A voice cried out her name. Darryl's voice.
The other Olivia suggested that she could go to the apartment to make sure that Fiona has not arrived. "I'll need your key."
Shaking her head, Olivia replied, "That's okay. I should be finished with this case before . . ."
Before Olivia had time to think, the doppelganger whipped out a Glock .29 pistol. The witch spotted a muzzler on the pistol's nozzle, before she felt a sharp pain strike her stomach. "Wha . . .?"
"Sorry," the other Olivia nearly whispered. Her face assumed a cold mask. She fired a second bullet, which struck the witch's chest. The pain had become unbearable for Olivia, as she sank to the ground.
Now lying on her left side, Olivia struggled to fight through the pain and haze. "Wha . . . why?"
"Because I'm the one who wants the staff," the doppelganger coldly declared. "Our cousin Fiona – at least in my dimension – no longer exists, thanks to me." She knelt beside Olivia and forced the latter, flat on her back. She proceeded to remove the witch's keys, cell phone and service pistol. "I'll need these." Then she grabbed Olivia's right hand and removed the wedding ring. "Something tells me that I'll need this, as well."
Again, Darryl's voice cried out Olivia's name.
The doppelganger stood up. She aimed her pistol at the wounded police officer. "Shame. If only you had given me those keys."
Despite the haze and pain that enveloped her, Olivia heard a bottle smash against the ground. The other Olivia whirled around. As the warlock confronted what turned out to be a derelict, Olivia struggled to recall the teleportation spell she had just created. She closed her eyes – not hard to do – and murmured to herself:
"Winds of the North, East, South . . . and West,
From this . . . point of departure.
Carry me henceforth away
From . . . where . . . evil now . . . stands."
It was the best she could do. But it worked. Olivia felt her body de-materialize from the hard ground. A second later, she re-materialized into . . . Olivia sniffed the air and shivered with disgust. A rank odor now surrounded her. The ground beneath her felt loose and lumpy. She opened her eyes and took in the dark walls that surrounded her. The black plastic bag just inches away from her face told her that she had just teleported inside a garbage bin.
Olivia closed her eyes and tried to teleport again. But the increasing pain and haze made it difficult for her to concentrate. A sigh escaped from her lips. She realized with horror that her life was about to end inside a garbage dumpster.
END OF CHAPTER 4