WORTH THE WAIT

Dana Bell
Paige stared into the black depths of her coffee cup. Behind her she could hear the familiar sounds of the oven door closing, the popping bacon, and the loving tones of Leo as greeted and kissed his wife. Enticing hints of cinnamon filled the room. Paige picked up her mug and absently took a sip. Leo sat down at the kitchen table and Piper joined him placing plates of fresh cinnamon rolls and crispy bacon on the wooden surface.

Leo cast a curious glance in Paige's direction. She took another sip. Phoebe had rushed out earlier to work and Peter had left on some mysterious errand. She held her cup and finally set it down.

"You're awfully quiet this morning, Paige," Piper commented helping herself to a roll. "You and Peter have a fight?"

"No." She pondered the contents of her cup again. "He asked me to marry him."

"Paige!" Piper's face lit up. "That's wonderful!" Seeing her younger sister's expression she queried, "Isn't it?"

"I know I wanted to find my soul mate. I just didn't expect to find him so quickly."

"You can't control these things, Paige," Leo counseled. "Love usually happens when you least expect it."

"But why now?"

"Paige," Leo reached over and touched her hand. "Your ultimate destiny is fulfilled, you've vanquished The Source. Even though you're still fighting demons, that doesn't mean you have to give up your personal life. You already know Peter can defend himself,"

"Paige," Piper interrupted, "do you love Peter?"

She nodded. "Yes."

"Remember how devastated you were when he left? Don't let the love of your life slip away without giving him a chance."

"But I'm scared." "So was I. And look at me now. Happily married with a baby on the way." Piper patted her growing stomach. "By the way, did you give him an answer?"

"No. I told him I wanted time to think. He agreed to let me."

"You see," Leo put in, "how much he loves you?"

"Leo's right, Peter loves and respects you." Piper put a second roll on her plate. "Just don't let him get away. Not if you truly love him."

Paige looked down at her cup. It was almost empty. Leo and Piper had a point. They'd given her something more to think about.

"Uh, oh," Leo's face had the familiar expression of being called. "I'll see you later." He kissed his wife and orbed out.

"Not hungry?" Piper sounded almost hurt.

"Not right now, maybe later."

"How about helping me clean up the kitchen and maybe afterward we'll put in a video and watch a good romantic movie."

"Just as long as it's not 'Speed'." Last time she'd watched the film, Peter had been with her. She kept her sweet memory of the night carefully locked up.

"Any special reason?"

"Baby been kicking this morning?" Paige decided it was time to change the subject.

"No, kind of quiet. You're changing the subject."

Paige smiled at her sister. "Yeah. How about we watch the new movie Phoebe picked up. The first part of Lord of Rings."

"Good choice. I've been dying to see it."

"Me, too. Let's get the kitchen cleaned up, pop some popcorn and make hot chocolate."

"Thought you weren't hungry," Piper teased.

"What's a movie without popcorn?" Paige made a mock horror face.

Piper laughed and Paige joined her. They were sharing a wonderful sister bonding moment. ###############################################################

Peter jogged down the sidewalk the yellow packet safely tucked under his arm. He'd met with the agent Paul had sent. He now had a new driver's license, a social security card, a birth certificate, and whatever other legal documents his foster father had decided Peter would need. Between the OSI deputy director and Kermit, he was now free to start a new life.

He took a full breath of spring air. Spring, the time of renewal. It certainly was for him. He turned right and continued his run. He'd need to get back into shape. Not that his body had become flabby as a vampire. He'd been slim and trim. Now however, his muscles needed to firm up.

Leaves rustled above him. Birds twittered and sang. Life was miraculous and precious. Peter had at least learned that. He would never take another day for granted.

He noticed a car pacing him. Dark green sedan, four door, somewhat new. He stopped to take a breather. The car pulled over on the opposite side of the road. He tensed, readying himself for a potential battle.

A tall man got out, looked both ways and crossed toward him. The man wore sunglasses, jeans and a gray shirt. He paused a couple feet from Peter and took off the sunglasses.

"You're Peter Caine, right?" The man's eyes held a friendly light.

"Depends. Who wants to know?" He pushed back his dark brown hair.

"My name's Jarrod. I helped your father awhile back. Kermit, too. When he was searching for Kwai Chang."

It wasn't often Peter met someone who had befriended his father. "When was that?"

"Several years ago. Look, is there somewhere we can talk?"

Peter pointed up ahead. "There's a park over there."

"Sounds good. Mind if I walk with you?"

"No."

The two walked in silence. When they reached the small park they found a convenient bench and sat down. Peter waited for Jarrod to speak.

"I picked up your father in Kansas. He was hitchhiking along I70. He said he didn't have anywhere in particular in mind to go. I happened to know about a church camp that was looking for help. I dropped him off."

"He talked about me." Peter knew his father well enough to know the priest probably would have.

"Some. He told me you were dead."

"I was."

"And yet you're alive."

"What do you want?" Peter didn't know what the guy's game was, but he was tired of playing it.

"Your help. A friend of mine is missing. Last seen here, in San Francisco."

"I'm new here myself. I don't have any contacts."

"Yet your foster father, Paul Blaisdell, right?, works at the OSI."

"Look, I'm trying to keep a low profile. I only call Paul if it's an emergency."

"A young woman could die."

Peter got up. Jarrod made him nervous. This complete stranger could ruin his new life and cost him his new home and the woman he loved.

"Here's my cell number," Jarrod handed him a card. Peter reluctantly took it. "Call me if you change your mind." He rose and left.

Peter watched Jarrod until he exited the park and continued his jog home. He cut through the park and decided to take a more round about way back. He kept his eyes peeled for a green sedan. He didn't want this Jarrod person following him. There was too much at stack. ################################################################

'Just who the hell did these fools think they were?' Miss Parker fumed while she tried to loosen the bonds that held her tied to the shabby bed in the corner of the dingy room. They'd broken into her hotel room, dragged her and then deposited her here. She twisted her hands some more. The ropes felt like maybe they were gradually giving.

"Might as well give up, missy," a voice hissed. "You be the new host for the Mistress. If'n not, if'n she no like you, you be dead."

"That's comforting," she retorted. Her captor had to be crazy. Host? Yeah, right. Only in bad Sci Fi movies.

"She be here soon. You see." The voice slithered away.

Miss Parker struggled harder. She had more important things to do than be some crazy person's victim. Like catch a certain Pretender who had been spotted in San Francisco. ###############################################################

Peter checked the street once more before walking up the cement steps to the Manor. The old Victorian stood on a small hill. He opened the stained glass doors and strolled across the hardwood floors. He'd need a shower. The long jog had left him sweaty and he was sure he smelled.

"Hi, Peter!" Paige called from the living room.

He poked his head in. Paige and Piper were engrossed in a movie. "What'cha watchin'?"

"Lord of the Rings," Piper answered. "Now hush."

Peter obediently fell quiet. He winked at Paige and pointed upstairs. She smiled and waved him away. He trotted up the rug-covered stairs and into the bathroom. After a hot shower, he went into Paige's bedroom and changed into jeans and a "I love San Francisco" T-shirt. He'd bought it on a whim before meeting the Charmed Ones.

He glanced at himself in the mirror and ran a quick comb through his unruly dark brown hair. He was about to leave when his cell phone rang. Frowning, he answered it. There weren't very many people who had the number.

"Hello, Peter. My agent confirmed you received your package."

"Yeah, thanks." He sat on the bed. "Paul, how'd you get this number?"

"I have my ways, Peter. Look, I wouldn't call, but it is an emergency."

"Is my father okay? Is Annie hurt? Or."

"No, everyone in our family is fine. In fact, your father told me the next time I talked with you, to write him a letter with your new address. You'd better do it, son."

"I've already got one written. I'll mail it later today." Actually, Peter was stalling. He was kind of hoping Paige would answer his question from the night before and he could share his engagement news with his father, even though he knew it wasn't likely.

"Good. I know he's looking forward to hearing from you." Peter heard clicking keys over the phone line. "Do me a favor, Peter, keep your eyes and ears open. Something is brewing and I'm not exactly sure what. My agents are hearing whispers, but nothing solid."

"I'm not really in the game anymore, Paul. I have no contacts."

"I know. Whatever is going to go down. It's in your city."

Peter suddenly was curious. "What have you heard?"

"Whispers of a new queen. A chosen sacrifice. Problem is, it's all so far underground, none of my people can get a grasp on it."

Peter felt a chill. He'd have to talk Paige and her sisters. He wondered if some new supernatural threat was rearing its ugly demon head. "I'll see what I can find out. I don't make any promises."

"I understand, Peter. I'm just trying to cover all my bases. Never know where the next lead will come from."

"I remember." He'd often solved murder cases with the craziest small leads.

"I've got to go. Take care, Peter and keep in touch."

"I will, Paul. Bye."

"Bye."

Peter turned off his cell. He glanced at the business card sitting on Paige's dresser. Was it possible the missing young woman of Jarrod's was the chosen sacrifice? He hoped not. He'd seen too many deaths caused by misguided followers while helping Buffy. He picked up the card and put it in his jeans pocket. Maybe he'd call Jarrod after he talked with the sisters. Maybe, the Book of Shadows held the answer. ################################################################ "Need to eat, you do," the raspy voice urged.

"Difficult to do with my hands tied." Miss Parker tugged at her bonds to emphasize her point.

"I feed you."

Disgusting thought. "Please, let me feed myself."

"No, no. Mistress very angry, if'n you get away. Punish me. Bad."

Cheerful thought. She'd almost like to see that. "Where am I going to go?" she reasoned.

"Hmmm.maybe.maybe." the voice faded away.

"Damn!" She pulled at the ropes. She'd hoped she'd talked it into releasing her. There were many ways to escape. ##############################################################

"He didn't have any more information?" Piper asked as she flipped through the book. Light steamed in from the stained glass window behind her.

Peter shook his head. He, Piper and Paige had gone up to the attic after he'd explained the information Paul had given him. Demon slaying came before watching the end of the movie.

'I wonder what kind of queen?" Paige mused. She stood on the rug in the center of the room.

"The only other possible lead I have," Peter pulled Jarrod's card out of his pocket, "is this. He stopped me and said a young woman's life was in danger."

"Let's see that." Piper took the card from his hand. "Jarrod and a phone number. Did he tell you anything else?"

"Just that he'd helped my father once."

"One of these days, " Paige commented, "I'd like to meet your father."

Peter knew his father would want to meet Paige. Particularly if they decided to get married. Maybe the Shaolin priest could perform the ceremony. He pushed the musing from his mind. Plenty of time for making plans later.

"I think," Piper went back to the book, which stood on a small podium, "we should call this Jarrod and find out what he knows." "At least it's a place to start," Paige agreed.

"All right, I'll call him. Give me the card." Piper extended it to him and he took it.

"In the mean time, I'll keep checking the book. There has to be something." Piper continued turning pages.

"I'll go with Peter." Paige left the attic with him. They went downstairs back to her room. He grabbed his cell phone and dialed the number. It rang several times but Jarrod didn't answer. Peter hung up. "He's not there."

"Well, try again later." Paige began to pace. Peter sat on the bed, still unmade from the morning, and admired her figure. She wore tight jeans and a very low-necked orange cotton shirt. "Your staring at me doesn't help, Peter."

"I'm just admiring. You're very beautiful."

She smiled. "I'm glad you think so." She sat beside him. "I talked with Leo and Piper this morning. Told them you asked me to marry you."

"What did they think?"

She shrugged. "Oh, I got all kinds of advice. I think Piper would be thrilled."

"What do you want, Paige?" He was a little afraid of her answer.

"I don't know yet. The whole idea scares me."

"It's a big step. I won't force you to make it until you're ready."

"Do you want children, Peter?"

He already knew, from Lorien's peek at his future, there would be. "Yes."

"I'm not ready for them."

He smiled and put his arm around her. "We have time, Paige. It's not like we have to jump into anything."

She put her red head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. "I hope so."

He kissed her forehead. "I've written my father a letter. Is it okay to share with him I proposed to you?"

"Of course, it is." She pulled back and looked at him.

"Good." He'd have to a P.S. to his letter. He wondered what his father's reaction was going to be, although he was certain the older Caine would be happy for them. He redialed Jarrod's number. Still no answer. ###############################################################

"There's nothing in the Book of Shadows," Piper announced when they got downstairs. "Did Jarrod have any ideas?"

"Haven't been able to reach him," Peter replied sitting on the couch. Paige sat beside him while Piper slowly sat in a chair. "I'll keep trying."

"Right now, Peter, he's our only lead." Piper seemed very concerned.

"What if it's not a demon? What if it's something else?" Paige cast a worried look at them both.

"Then we'll handle it." Piper appeared confident. "It's not like we haven't been thrown surprises before."

"Something happen?" Phoebe asked as she poked her head in. Peter noted she had her black hair back in a ponytail and wore jeans and tank top.

"Doesn't it always?" Paige replied. "We have an innocent to save, an informant we can't reach and not even a hint from the Book of Shadows."

"Not to mention a phone call from my foster father," Peter added.

"And some Egyptian artifacts stolen from the museum." Phoebe handed Peter a copy of the paper, "It's on the front page."

"I hope it's not another Isis situation." Paige shuddered. "I don't want to get possessed again."

"Doesn't feel that way. Isis was only interested in obtaining a body, this person," Phoebe pointed at the paper, "took only some weird new stuff. The reporter couldn't get a copy of what was stolen. He was told it was classified."

"Probably why Paul called me." Peter laid the paper aside. Piper immediately made a grab for it.

"So it's something Egyptian, but we don't know what," Phoebe mused.

"At least that gives us a better place to start in the Book of Shadows." Piper looked over the group. "Who wants to recheck the book?"

"I will," Phoebe volunteered and hurried up the stairs.

Peter redialed the cell phone. It rang several times. "Jarrod still isn't answering."

"You don't think he." Paige began.

Peter shrugged. "I don't know."

"Well," Piper got up and waddled toward the kitchen, "if it's a new demon, it won't be too long before they're knocking down our door."

"Didn't Leo just fix the door not long ago?" Peter asked.

Paige smiled. "He's done it a lot, Peter." #############################################################

The woman who stood in front of Miss Parker was both regal and beautiful. Her black hair she'd swept up in a stylish roll and her impeccable red silk dress accented her buxom figure. Oak brown eyes studied her captive as if Miss Parker were a bug in a jar. A killing jar at that.

Miss Parker tried not to shudder at the repulsive thought. She stood her ground before this imposing figure. No fear. Glare back.

"Mistress like?" The voice sounded eager to please.

"No." The woman lifted her hand. "I told you to bring me a warrior. Not a puppet." An odd metal glove shined in the dimmed light. The center began to glow.

"This is weird," Phoebe stated as she walked into the kitchen. Piper glanced up from her chair at the table. Paige stood at the island with a cup of coffee in her hand and Peter turned from the sink. "The Book talks about the ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses being inhabited by some sort of snakes."

"Snakes?" Piper's face expressed her disbelief. She pushed her long brown hair back behind an ear.

"It goes on to say they had glowing gloves, weapons of fire, and a circle through which they traveled."

"Shades of a SciFi movie," Paige put in. She went to the table and sat down.

Peter looked thoughtful. He wondered how much Paul really knew but couldn't tell him because of National Security. "Is there any sort of spell?"

"No," She pulled out a small sack. "but there is this. It was attached to the page."

"What is that?" Piper took it from her sister.

"Demon flesh for a vanquishing potion, maybe?" Paige said hopefully.

Piper opened the pink silk bag. A bit of grayish-green rubbery snake like flesh fell out on the table.

"That's exactly what it is," Phoebe confirmed.

"One vanquishing potion, coming up." Paige rose and started opening up cupboards, removing ingredients, and piling things in the cauldron.

"I wonder which of our ancestresses had enough foresight to leave us this little goody," Piper wondered.

"Do we really want to know?" Paige tossed an herb into the pot.

Phoebe put the Book of Shadows on the table and closed her hand around the sack. A few second passed. She released it and sat down.

"What did you see?" Piper wanted to know.

"Our line may be a lot older than we think. I saw slaves around some sort of round stone ring with symbols inscribed on it. A tall God like being operating some sort of device where each figure he touched glowed. Something like a blue watery finger exploded and then he and slaves all walked into it and disappeared."

"Whoa." Paige paused in her potion making.

Peter joined the two sisters at the table. "Any idea where that," he pointed at the bit of flesh, "came from?"

Phoebe shook her head. "That's all I saw."

"And there's no spell." Piper pulled the Book over to look at it.

Peter looked over at the page. Only information. No written spell.

"It's not like we can't write our own," Paige remarked.

"But we don't know what we're fighting." Phoebe glanced at her younger sister.

"Some sort of Egyptian god obviously," Peter stated. "Yet more than that. Damn! I wish Paul could tell me what we're facing."

"Do you think he would if you asked?" Paige left her bubbling brew and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Not if it's classified. Any of you experts in Egyptian Mythology."

"One time I wish Pru were here, " Phoebe said darkly, a look of regret in her very dark brown eyes. "I'll be on my laptop surfing the net."

Paige went back to her magical concoction. She tossed in a few more ingredients.

Piper drummed her nails on the tabletop. "This is just too weird." ############################################################

Miss Parker heard the splintering sound of wood breaking. She dodged the light snaking out trying to reach her head. She kicked at her attacker. Her high heeled foot made contact with flesh and the woman screamed. Miss Parker felt a moment of satisfaction.

A fight was going on just a few feet away with a human figure and something which looked.looked like what? Maybe like the ugly creature in the second movie, The Two Towers. The one who had been animalized by the ring. It went down. The woman shrieked and ran out.

The man came to her. She recognized it as Jarrod. "You're rescuing me is not going to."

"Miss Parker," the knife he held slit the tight ropes, "shut up and run. Sekhmet has reinforcements."

She rubbed her wrists as the feeling tingled back into her hands. Jarrod grabbed her arm and the two ran out the door and up a steep flight of stairs. Behind them a roar sounded. Miss Parker blinked as they burst into the sunlight. She didn't know how long she'd been down there, but her eyes stung.

"Into the car!" He thrust her into the passenger side and hurried to the driver's seat. He put the car into gear and raced down the street.

"Where are we going?" she demanded.

"The only safe place I can think of." ##############################################################

"Let's see if this works." Paige took a bit of the snake flesh and placed it on a trivot. She sprinkled her potion on it. Nothing seemed to happen. "Damn."

Peter watched carefully. "Wait."

The flesh began to blacken and smoke. A flash of fire erupted and it crumbled into fine ash.

"Delayed reaction." Piper looked at the couple. "That's unusual."

"Like anything about this is normal." Paige grabbed several bottles and began to put her potion into them.

"I may have found something." Phoebe entered the room. She placed the laptop on the table. "Someone named Dr. Daniel Jackson gave a talk a few years back about aliens having a hand in building the pyramids. He was laughed out of archeology. The weird thing is, he disappeared and rumors surfaced he was working on some kind of top secret project."

"Would explain Paul's interest," Peter agreed.

"So how do we write a spell to vanquish whatever it is we're facing, without really know what it is we are facing?" Paige put the bottles of potion on the table.

"I have no idea," Piper replied. "Do you Phoebe?"

"Maybe a generic spell?" She shrugged.

"Leo!" Piper called.

The whitelighter orbed in. "What is it?"

"You need to talk to the elders. We're facing some sort of Egyptian God and we have no idea how to proceed," she informed her husband.

"We do however have a vanquishing potion," Paige added. "Thanks to some mysterious ancestor we didn't know about."

"I'll ask them." He vanished in twinkling little lights.

"Guess we wait," Peter commented, giving Paige a playful wink.

She smiled and hooked an arm through his. "Let's go into the other room." ################################################################

"How did you know who that woman was?" Miss Parker inquired.

"Long story. One I'm not willing to share." He turned the wheel as they sped around a corner. "Let's just say it's one of our country's best kept secrets."

She glanced out the window automatically checking the side window. She didn't see any sign of pursuit. "Where are we going?"

"Somewhere safe."

"That's not very informative, Jarrod."

"I know someone who can help. You don't need to know anything else." ##############################################################

Paige and Peter sat on the white wicker love seat. He put an arm around her pulling her to his side. She laid her head on his shoulder and he kissed her temple. Sunlight streamed into the room promising a bright future.

Peter freely looked at his possible bride. Her orange blouse did little to hide the sweet swell of her breast. "You're beautiful," he whispered.

Her bright smile lightened his heart. "And you're quite dashing yourself."

He chuckled. He liked her sense of humor. "I've been thinking about a possible job."

"What kind?" She straightened so she could look into his eyes.

"All I've known is being a cop. If things were different, Paul would have me work for him."

"We have a friend. Daryl, who works in homicide. Maybe."

"I don't know, Paige, I've always felt my father thought I should be more."

'You should be what makes you happy, Peter. You can't live your life trying to please others."

She had a point. He realized he'd lived much of his life living up first to Paul's and later his father's expectations. What did he, Peter, really want to do?

"You could go back to school, Peter."

"And what would I do for money?"

"There're grants and scholarships. I'm sure you could qualify for something."

"Make being married more difficult."

"I haven't made my mind up yet, Peter."

Loud knocking at the door interrupted. Paige and Peter hurried to answer it. The door swung open to reveal the man Peter recognized as Jarrod and a tall, skinny dark haired and eyed woman dressed in a smart dark blue suite.

Jarrod pushed his way in closing the door. "They'll be here very soon."

"Who?" Peter and Paige said together.

"Sekhmet and her guard."

"At least now we know who we're fighting." Paige took off for the kitchen.

"I didn't expect you to come knocking on our door," Peter commented.

"I did some research on you and your father, "Jarrod informed him. "I figured you'd be the one to help. This is Miss Parker." He indicated his companion.

"Hi. Welcome." Peter gave her his best smile. She just looked at him and walked into the living room.

"Interesting house," she said.

"It's been in Paige's family for generations." Peter followed her in.

Jarrod cast a nervous glance at the door. "Those won't hold them."

"They won't need to." ################################################################

"Sekhmet," Piage gushed as she hurried into the kitchen.

"The Egyptian goddess of war," Phoebe told her sisters.

"Okay. Spell time." Piper grabbed paper and pen.

"I don't know how much time we have," Paige went on, "the man at the door said she was right behind them."

"Them?" Phoebe asked.

"Him and a woman." A crash sounded from the other room. "I guess they're here." She grabbed the bottles of potion and handed them to her sisters.

"Great." Piper worked even faster. "Got it. Let's go vanquish this goddess."

The three sisters dashed into the main hall. The front door was smashed open. An impressive woman stood there with several guards with circular tatoos on their foreheads. They also carried strange weapons that looked like lopsided walking sticks.

"Ah," she breathed. "At last. True warriors. One of them will make an excellent host."

"Paige!" Peter shouted.

"Kill them," Sekhmet ordered. She walked forward eyeing the three sisters. "You." She pointed at Paige. "You will have the honor of being my new host."

"No thanks," Paige answered.

Peter kicked away the weapon of the guard who lowered the odd shaped staff. He spun and hit the man in the stomach. He went down.

"Hmmm," the goddess observed. "Maybe I should keep him as well."

Three vials hit the floor. Little tendrils of whispy pink smoke curled up around Sekmet. Paige, Phoebe and Piper joined hands.

"With the power of three we banish thee Sekhmet Goddess of war who holds a snake at your core. Return now, to the ancient sands by the power of our joined hands. To cinders of ash you will fall Listen now to our powerful call!"

Sekhmet roared. Her eyes burned with fury and she reached long claw like nails toward them. A shrill whistle escaped her lips as the back of her neck began to smolder. She patted at it like she was trying to put out a fire. Her hair caught fire and she screamed. The fire spread down her dress and she vaporized into a million little bits.

Jarrod jumped a guard. Phoebe levitated and took down another. Paige grabbed a vase and hit one over the head. Piper dodged up the steps. She moved her hands hitting a guard with her power. He exploded. Within minutes the guards where all down. Peter stacked their weapons on the landing while Paige and Phoebe, with help from Miss Parker, tied them up.

"What do we do with them?" Piper wanted to know.

"I know exactly what to do with them," Jarrod informed them. He started dragging one out. Peter helped pulled at the collar of another.

When they came back in for the next batch Leo had appeared. He busily healed wounds on the two sisters and also on Miss Parker.

"Looks like you managed to take care of her," he observed. "Without the elders help."

"What did they say?" his wife wanted to know.

"She was the Egyptian goddess, Sekhmet and they didn't know how to vanquish her."

"Good thing an ancestor of ours had some foresight." At Leo's puzzled look, Piper added, "I'll explain later."

After all the guards where in the car, Jarrod waved good bye and left.

"Typical," Miss Parker fumed. "I need to use your phone."

"It's over there." Phoebe pointed into the living room. "She's all sugar and spice."

"I wouldn't be too hard on her," Leo stated. "She's had a hard life." He noticed the doors. "I'd better get my tool kit and start on those."

Peter asked, "Can I help?"

"Sure."

Miss Parker rejoined them. "I'm not exactly certain what happened here and I really don't want to know. The Centre is sending a car for me. I'll wait for it outside." She walked out into the bright sunshine.

"Think we can trust her?" Piper questioned.

"She strikes me as the sensible type. Probably only believes in rational explanations." Phoebe nodded. "Yes."

"I agree," Paige put in.

Leo brought in his tool kit and the two men went to work on the door. A couple hours later they finished and joined the sisters in the kitchen. Piper baked a roast with potatoes and carrots and was tossing a large green salad. Phoebe sat at the kitchen table with her lap top. Paige entered with some silverware in her hand. "I'm settingthe table in the main dining room."

"Being formal tonight?" Leo went to the sink and washed up.

"I think it would good for us to eat as a family." Piper replied to her husband.

Peter and Paige exchanged a glance. She motioned him to follow her. She grabbed the good china and went through the swinging door. Peter found the glasses and joined her. Paige carefully set the plates around the table and he put a glass with each. When they finished, they stepped back to admire they're handiwork.

Cream colored china with tiny red roses glittered from each place. Clear glasses and sparkling silverware completed the picture. Paige added candleholders with candles.

"There. Perfect." She put an arm around Peter.

"Does Piper celebrate all vanquishings with an elaborate dinner?"

Paige smiled at him. "Sometimes. Mostly, she just likes to cook. She also believes in family traditions and works very hard at keeping us together."

"I believe in family, too, Paige."

"I know." She took a deep breath. She seemed a little scared. "My answer is yes, Peter."

He pulled her closer and kissed her. "Shall we tell your sisters and Leo over dinner?"

Her brown eyes sparkled. "It won't be much of a surprise. I think they more or less expect it."

He shrugged. "We don't want Piper's feast going to waste."

She laughed and they kissed again. Peter held her close. In spite of all the dangers they would face he did know one thing, he and Paige would be very happy.

"All right, dinner is ready," Piper announced as she placed the roast on the table. Leo and Phoebe each carried dishes they deposited on the beige lace tablecloth.

"If you two are done making out," Phoebe teased, "let's eat." She sat down.

Leo and Piper took their places at the table. So did Peter and Paige.

"Before we start," Paige smiled at everyone. "We have something to share." She looked at Peter.

"Paige has agreed to become my wife."

"Congratulations!" They all shouted. Hugs were shared all around. When everyone settled down again Leo poured wine into glasses and Piper made a toast.

"May the two of you know only happiness. Paige, Peter I'm glad you two found each other."

They all drank. Peter sipped his. It was one of those California wines. A little tart but not bad. He'd have to introduce them to some of the more expensive brands like he had in the Blaisdell home.

Paige glowed over her glass. Their eyes met. Peter had known her answer would be well worth the wait.

"So," Phoebe prodded, "When's the wedding?"