"STRANGE BEDFELLOWS" by RFK

Part 8

PRESENT DAY . . . "I wonder if Raynor had been right," Cole commented. "About killing Idril."

Olivia shrugged. "I don't know. What would have happened if you had?"

The half-demon sighed. "I don't know. There's a good chance that Raynor would have killed me. Or tried. He was very close to Idril."

"Really?" Olivia took a sip of water. "From your memories and what you've told me about him, Idril doesn't seem like she would have been his type."

Rolling his eyes, Cole retorted, "Trust me, she was. Raynor liked his women to be . . . malleable." He paused. "Mind you, Idril can be very smart. And she basically had a good head for business. But she was so insecure. I suspect that little trait made her so easy for Raynor to control. And there's the fact that Idril had a bad habit of depending upon her looks to get her way. Like I said, very insecure."

"But not stupid," Olivia added.

"No."

A long pause followed. Then Olivia added, "You know, it's odd that Idril had tried to kill you, after you had dumped her."

"What do you mean, odd?" Cole demanded. "She's insecure. I had probably damaged her ego."

Olivia shook her head. "No, I think it was more than ego. I think she may have been a little in love with you. I saw the expression on her face, at your mother's party."

A derisive snort escaped from Cole's mouth. "I'm sorry Olivia, but I really find that hard to believe." The redhead opened her mouth, but the half-demon continued. "Look, I'm not saying that I believe all that nonsense that demons can't love. I happen to know for a fact that my grandparents were crazy about each other. And as for Idril, Raynor was everything to her. In fact, she took it rather hard, when he finally ended their relationship."

"If you say so." Cole stared at his fiancée, as she glanced at her watch. "Hmm, it's time for me to get back to work."

A delicious idea came to Cole. "Look, before we . . ." He hesitated. Then, "Why don't we . . . find some private time together? Before going back to work?"

"Private time?" It seemed clear by Olivia's expression that she knew what he meant. Longing and regret mingled in her green eyes. "Oh God! I'm really tempted to say yes."

"But . . .?" Cole began. He covered his fiancée's hand with his own.

Olivia sighed. "Don't you think we should wait until later? Like, this evening?"

"If you're worried about time," Cole added quietly, "I can always take you to the Melora dimension. We'll be able to spend plenty of hours, together. And we'll both make it back to work, in time."

He held his breath, while Olivia contemplated his suggestion. A bright light gleamed in her eyes and he knew that he had won. "Well . . . why not?" she finally said with a bright smile.

Cole smiled back and summoned the waiter. He paid for the meal and the couple stood up. "You know, I had forgot to ask," Olivia added.

"Ask what?"

Olivia paused briefly before she continued. "How long were you and Christine together?"

The question hung between the two like a heavy shroud. Cole could mentally see his suggestion of afternoon sex dissipating into the wind. He hesitated as long as he could, but realized that if he did not answer right away, Olivia would pressure him, until he did. With a sigh, he finally answered, "Not long." He hoped that would satisfy Olivia.

Unfortunately . . . With a frown, the redhead asked, "Exactly how long is . . . 'not long'?"

Oh shit. Again, Cole sighed. "Five years. Possibly six."

Olivia stared at him in disbelief. "That long? You've probably been with her longer than any other female. Were you two that serious about each other?"

"No, we weren't," Cole answered firmly. He guided Olivia toward the restaurant's exit. "If were that serious, I would still be with her. Besides, Christine and I had dated other people around the same time."

"Oh." Another pause followed until she added, "You mean she's still alive?"

Hoping to end this conversation and not ruin Olivia's mood, Cole responded with a vague answer. "Yes. I think so. Last I heard, she had married a fellow witch back in the late 70s."

"I wonder if Idril still thinks about her. Or you?"

What he hoped to be his last sigh, Cole added, "Olivia, who cares? Honestly. I haven't thought of Christine in years. Okay?"

"Yeah, sure," Olivia replied. And to Cole's relief, the couple stepped out of the restaurant, and into the pale sunshine.

---------------

Several hundreds of miles south of San Francisco, Idril remained inside the bedroom of her Bel-Air home, as she finished off the last of her absinthe. Then she heaved the empty bottle against the bedroom door in a fit of frustration.
Damn Raynor! She decried silently. And damn Belthazor! Idril hoped that one was burning in hell or in the Wasteland and that the other eventually would.

Just as Raynor had suggested back in 1969, Idril had found someone to act a shield to prevent Avara from discovering Raynor's affair with the young demoness. Idril spent three years engaged and six years married to a low-level demon named Tirion. By 1978, Raynor's wife finally learned about his affair with Idril. In order to escape the older demoness' wrath, Idril spent the next eighteen years in Eldamar, one of the Source's minor realms. During those years, the dark-haired demoness finally got rid of the unnecessary Tirion. Her exile finally ended when she learned of Avara's death at the hands of a demon hunter. But it had been too late for any reconciliation between her and Raynor. By then, he had moved on to another mistress.

Then in 1999, she had stumbled across Belthazor vacationing at a resort in Bermuda. Idril hoped to finally get her revenge against the half-demon for humiliating her. But one look at those blue eyes and handsome face and she ended up being seduced by him for a few nights of wild sex. Hopes that their reunion would lead to something permanent were dashed after Belthazor had disappeared after the third night. Another four years passed before she set eyes upon him, again - at his engagement party.

Encountering Belthazor in the Melora Dimension had resurrected hope within Idril that she would be able renew old ties with Belthazor. But the half-demon made it clear that he only had eyes for his red-haired witch, Olivia McNeill. The latter strongly reminded Idril of Christine Bloome - the same bold, self-assurance, vibrant good looks and easy-going manner. And like the English witch, the McNeill woman possessed a pair of green eyes that hinted a strong will. Idril hated Belthazor's fiancée on sight. She felt more than happy to assist Eric Logan's assassination of the red-haired witch. Unfortunately, the damn idiot had ended up killing the wrong woman.

Now more than ever, Idril felt determined to help Artemus, the Khorne Order's leader, to become the new Source. Not only would his grab for the throne assure her leadership of the Thorn Order, it would also spell the end of Nimue, Olivia McNeill and with her, the ghost of Christine Bloome. But another desire of Idril's has refused to disappear. Despite all the humiliation, disappointments and anger she felt, the demoness still wanted Belthazor. Even after all of these years. And if winning the half-demon's affections meant the end of Artemus' plans to become the new Source - so be it.

THE END