Manhattan, New York; Alternate Dimension
Cole Turner aka Belthazor shimmered inside the Manhattan penthouse that he shared with his girlfriend and heaved a sigh of relief. Home. At last. He walked over to the liquor cabinet and prepared a glass of bourbon for himself. He needed it. Today had been a difficult day.
Aside from his relationship with Olivia, the past two years had been difficult. It had all started at a gala held to celebrate the first six months on the throne by the Realm's new leaders. Cole had the misfortune to catch the eye of one of his leaders – namely one-third of the entity known as the Source.
Many of the Realm's subjects continued to reel over the knowledge that they were being ruled by three former witches. The exalted Charmed Ones had become warlocks nearly three years ago. Another ten months passed before they ended up killing the old Source. Many had expected another upper-level daemon to assume the throne . . . not three former witches-turned-warlocks. And unfortunately for Cole, the youngest sister ended up becoming quite taken with him. He found himself becoming Phoebe Halliwell's personal stud.
The only bright spot in Cole's increasingly dismal life turned out to be one Olivia McNeill. He had first met the red-haired warlock during a brief holiday in the Melora Dimension, three months after his life as a gigolo had commenced. Like the Halliwells, she was a former witch who eventually became a warlock. Even more remarkable was the fact that all four had even shared the same whitelighter. Cole found himself becoming attracted to the redhead. She was exciting, brilliant, and possessed a mischievous nature that he found a breath of fresh air. Aware of Phoebe's abilities as a seer, Cole wore a charm to ensure that she would never learn of his relationship with Olivia.
The half-daemon took a swig of his bourbon. Less than two days had passed since Olivia's trip to an alternate dimension and he missed her. Cole never figured that he would fall in love with anyone, let alone a former witch. For years, his mentor – Raynor – had taught him that evil did not fall in love. They were incapable of falling in love. But when Cole met Olivia, he found himself completely enamored. He tried to dismiss his feelings toward Olivia as a by-product of human ancestry. Until his mother pointed out that his grandparents, who had been amongst the Source's most ruthless demonic assassins, had been completely in love with each other.
Cole's relationship with Olivia made it increasingly difficult for him to endure being a demonic stud for one of the Realm's leaders. Either Olivia had to get her hands on the Aingeal staff, or three situations might happen. One, Phoebe Halliwell would learn about Olivia. Two, he and Olivia might be forced to seek asylum in another demonic realm – one that was equally powerful. Or three, he could consider suicide. Since Cole did not consider himself the suicidal type, he realized that he might end up facing the first two situations. Unless Olivia managed to get her hands on that staff.
The rich aroma of roasted meat caught Cole's attention. He headed toward the dining room alcove, where he found gleaming silverware laid out on an elegantly decorated table. Olivia had returned. Cole glanced around him. "Olivia?" He walked away from the dining table and returned to the living-room. "Olivia, are you . . .?"
She finally emerged from the hallway and greeted Cole with a wet kiss on the mouth. The half-daemon noticed that she wore that slinky aquamarine sheath dress that accentuated every curve on her body. Olivia also wore matching sandal pumps. "So, how was your day?" she purred. She planted a light kiss on his mouth.
Cole sighed. "Difficult. I had spent the better part of the day avoiding my tormentor. I'm seriously considering finding her another boy toy to play with."
Olivia's mouth curved into a wide smile. She almost resembled the Cheshire Cat from "Alice in Wonderland". "I don't believe that will be necessary."
For a brief moment, Cole contemplated his lover's words . . . and expression. Then realization finally struck him. "You've got it, don't you?" he said. "The staff."
Olivia's smile widened. "That . . . and a lot more. Did you check out the dining table?"
"Yeah. It looked nice."
The redhead rolled her eyes and grabbed Cole's arm. She dragged him to the dining table. Nothing had changed in the past few minutes. Then Cole's eyes caught sight of an object made from pale wood. "That can't be the staff . . . or could it?"
"It is." Olivia further explained that the staff magically stretches into full length when she holds it. "It has definitely accepted me as its bearer." Then she gave Cole's forearm a tight squeeze. "What else do you see?"
Cole's eyes scanned the table. He spotted a small glass bottle standing to the right of the floral centerpiece. Black smoke swirled inside. "What in the hell is that?" he demanded. "Inside the bottle."
Olivia walked over to the table and picked up the bottle. "Belthazor's powers."
"Is this a joke?"
"No," Olivia replied coolly. "Inside this bottle are the powers of Belthazor from the other dimension. I stole them from him."
Cole stared at the bottle. "Why?"
"Do you remember me telling you about what in Scotland? About how that sleeping draught was supposed to knock out the other Cole, so that those warlocks could kidnap the other Olivia without any opposition? But all it did was make him groggy? Well, I found out why." Olivia revealed a fantastic tale about the other Cole being possessed by the Source, killed by the Charmed Ones and ending up in the Wasteland. "And when he had escaped from the Wasteland with his new powers, he ended up more powerful than ever. More powerful than the Source."
The half-daemon frowned. "So . . . if you managed to get the other Cole's powers, what happened to him?"
Olivia sighed. "Um . . . I'm afraid he's dead. Sorry, but I had to kill him. I couldn't take the chance of him finding a way to get his powers back. Even if he was from another dimension." She did not sound very remorseful. Not that Cole cared. "And I also had to kill the other Olivia," the redhead continued. The announcement shocked Cole. "Well, it was the only way I could get inside their apartment and get the staff. The damn place was warded against any possible break-in."
Cole continued to stare at his lover, as the depth of her murderous actions finally struck him. Then he threw back his head and laughed. He laughed at the irony that Raynor had been wrong about humans all that time. Especially since his very human girlfriend had just proven that she could be as ruthless and deadly as most of his demonic colleagues. When his laughter finally subsided, Cole asked one last question. "By the way, why haven't you used the powers for yourself?"
A long pause followed. Olivia's face turned slightly pink. "Oh. Well, I guess I could have done just that, couldn't I?" Then she sighed. "But you know what? I guess I'm just a sucker for love." Her green eyes bored into Cole's.
The half-daemon found himself captivated by the beautiful redhead's loving gaze. He felt a great warmth wash all over him. Regardless of whether she was the epitome of evil or not, he could not help but love every inch of her. He drew Olivia into his arm. "What do you know?" he murmured. "So am I." Cole lowered his mouth upon hers.
Olivia quickly broke off the kiss, protesting. "Cole! I might drop this bottle!"
"Let it drop." The half-daemon kissed Olivia again. This time, she did not bother to resist. As she slipped her arms around his neck, the small bottle slipped out of her grip and smashed on the hard floor. A black smoke curled upward and slowly engulfed the couple locked in an embrace.