“THE POWER OF ONE”
“Sheila . . . Sheila hon . . . Yes. Yes, I know that it’s past eight o’clock. I’m sorry honey, but . . .” With the phone glued to his ear, Darryl waited patiently, as his wife demanded an explanation for his failure to leave the police station.
When she finally finished, Darryl found himself with the opportunity to continue. “Yes honey. I know that I’m supposed to be at the McNeills by now.” Since his wife happened to be a computer software consultant, the Morrises had managed to wangle an invitation to the McNeills’ cocktail party in honor of Cecile Dubois. “Look Sheila, I’ll try to get there as soon as possible. But I won’t be able to, unless I finish this report. The captain wants it ASAP.”
“All right,” Sheila conceded. “I’ll let you get back to your work. But hurry up and get here, Darryl. I’m getting tired of fending off horny business executives who want to know if I’m alone.”
A relieved Darryl parted with, “Okay sweetheart. Good-bye,” before he hung up the telephone. Then he leaned back into his chair and sighed.
Scott Yi, one of the detectives on his squad; appeared by his desk, holding a large yellow envelope. “Trouble in paradise?”
“No, it’s just . . .” Darryl let out a gust of breath. “I have a long and difficult report to finish on the Winston case. McPherson wants it tonight. And I was supposed to take Sheila to the McNeills’ party.” He sighed. “I guess it’s time to get back to the salt mine.” Then he noticed the younger man’s presence. “Why are you still here?”
Scott shrugged his shoulders. “I have a report to finish. The Jose Ortiz shooting.”
“Go home and finish it, tomorrow,” Darryl ordered. “Unlike the captain, I don’t need it right away.”
“Okay.” Scott paused, before tossing the envelope in his hand, on Darryl’s desk. “One last thing. It came in for Olivia. From Deborah Liu.”
Darryl grabbed the envelope. “Oh yeah. Must be the results on the prints from the Halliwells’ new nanny.” He opened the envelope and withdrew a few sheets. A gasp left his mouth, as he read the forensic results. “Holy shit!” he exclaimed.
Scott frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“Piper’s new nanny. She gave Piper a phony name, when she was hired.” Darryl reached for the telephone and dialed the number to the McNeill house. When he heard a busy signal, he hung up. Then he stood from his chair and snatched his jacket. “Look, could you do me a favor and finish my report on the Winston case for me?” he asked Scott. “The notes are on my desk.”
Nodding, the younger man replied, “Sure. Where are you going?”
To the McNeills’ house. Looks like I’m going to make that party, after all.” Darryl fished out his cell phone, as he made his way to the exit.
With all of her items in place on the blanket outside, Daley returned inside to fetch Wyatt from the Solarium. She reached inside and lifted the infant from the crib. Then she carried him outside and placed him on the blanket.
After taking a deep breath, Daley squatted on the blanket, and began the ritual. She closed her eyes and commenced in the Fon language, “Oh Kalfu, I beseech you to open a path between the spirits of myself and this child before me.”
A bright light swirled around the two figures on the blanket, until it formed a straight line between Daley and Wyatt. Then Daley continued the ritual.
The McNeills’ manservant quietly appeared by Olivia’s side and murmured to her, “Pardon me, Miss Olivia, but there is a telephone call for you. It’s Mr. Morris and he says it’s an emergency.”
The red-haired witch thanked Davies and excused herself from a group of guests. She headed toward the foyer and picked up the telephone receiver. “Hello? Darryl?”
“Yeah, Olivia. It’s me,” her partner’s voice announced.
Olivia continued, “Shouldn’t you be here by now? I think that Sheila is starting to get wor . . .”
“I’m already on my way,” Darryl said, interrupting. “Look, I’ve been trying to get a hold of you. I’ve got the Forensics report on those prints.”
Mild disgust tinged Olivia’s voice. “It’s about time! Why does it take so long for them to . . .”
A frustrated sigh filled the redhead’s ear. “Olivia! Shut up and listen! Please! The prints on that glass belong to a thirty-eight year-old woman named Daley Bakker. With two Ks. She owns a herbal shop on Telegraph Road.”
“Daley Bakker?” The news astounded Olivia, despite her suspicions. “Not Donna Thompson?”
Darryl repeated, “No, her name is Daley Bakker. I thought you should know, since that’s not the name she had given Piper.”
“Thanks Darryl. I guess I’ll see you in a few minutes.” Olivia hung up and let out a gust of breath. Daley Bakker. Now, why on earth would Miss Bakker use an alias to get a job as Wyatt’s nanny?
Olivia rushed back to the large drawingroom. She scanned the crowd, until her eyes fell upon Phoebe standing near Jason. Looking bored. Olivia made her way to the Charmed One’s side and tugged the latter’s arm. “Hey! Phoebe? Mind if I speak to you for a minute?”
Phoebe shot the redhead a confused look. “Huh? Oh . . . sure.” She turned to her boyfriend. “Um, would you excuse me, Jason? I’ll be back.”
Ignoring the billionaire’s puzzled stare, Olivia led Phoebe to a quiet spot near the fireplace. “Where’s Paige?” she finally asked. “We need to find her right away, in order to get back to your house. Or maybe Cole.”
“What’s wrong?” Phoebe demanded.
Olivia told the Charmed One about the telephone call she had received from Darryl. “In other words, we were right about Ms. Thompson . . . or Ms. Bakker. She was using a phony name. Where’s Paige?”
Looking alarmed, Phoebe replied, “I saw her heading outside with Harry. Toward the garden.”
“Figures. Listen, could you try to get a hold of Piper?”
“Yeah . . . uh . . . I have a cell phone on me.” Phoebe reached inside her small purse for her cell phone. The two women passed through the French doors and headed outside. As they made their way toward the garden, Phoebe retrieved her cell phone. The moment she tried to activate her phone, she cried out, “Dammit! My batteries are dead!”
The pair continued their frantic search for the youngest Charmed One, until they came across two figures partially hidden by the darkness. “I think I see someone,” Olivia declared. “Come on.” She grabbed Phoebe’s arm and led the other woman toward the couple.
They stood near one of the house’s thick adobe walls. “Okay Andre,” Cecile said. “You finally got me alone. Now, what do you want?”
Taken slightly aback by Cecile’s cool tone, Andre hesitated. “I . . . uh,” he began uneasily. “I understand that . . .” He broke off in a fit of frustration. “What the hell is wrong with me? Look, what I’m trying to say is that . . .”
Cecile regarded him warily. “Cole told you. Didn’t he? Or was it Olivia?”
In a sad voice, Andre said, “It was Cole. He told me the night we all had dinner at his place.”
“Yeah, I figured as much.”
Andre continued, “Why didn’t you tell me that you were planning to dump me? If I had known that you were dissatisfied . . .”
Cecile heaved a long sigh. “It’s not you, Andre. It’s me. I just . . . I don’t think our relationship is going anywhere. I mean . . . we’ve been seeing each other for over three years. Four, next spring. I don’t know. Maybe I want something more for us. You know – build some kind of life together.”
“What made you think that I didn’t want the same?” Andre demanded.
Looking slightly embarrassed, Cecile shot back, “I didn’t! Okay? I was afraid to bring up the subject. And you . . .” She hesitated, looking away. “You seemed pretty happy with the way things were.”
Andre shook his head in confusion. “What made you come to that conclusion? Did you ask me or something?”
“Listen, I didn’t just decide . . .” Cecile began to protest. “I mean, I was going to say something. Only . . .” She sighed. “I just couldn’t work up the nerve. I don’t want to lose you, Andre. But if we keep going as we are now, I don’t think we’re going to stay together very long. I’m just no longer happy with the way things are now. But I don’t want to force you to make a choice that you might not be ready for.”
Stuffing his hand into one pocket, Andre could feel the small velvet box that contained the engagement ring. “What makes you think I’m not ready?”
Her eyes wide with shock, Cecile stared at him. “What are you saying? That you are?”
At that moment, Andre allowed his fingers to clutch the ring’s case. Come hell or high water, he would propose to this woman. Tonight. And hopefully, wipe away any doubt or fear that she might harbor about his feelings. Andre opened his mouth. “Cecile, would . . .”
“Paige, Harry, we need to speak . . .” Olivia’s voice took Andre by surprise. The redhead and Phoebe emerged beside them. Olivia blinked a few times and stared at the couple. “Oh! Cecile, Andre. I thought . . .”
Annoyed by the interruption, Andre sharply demanded, “What is it?”
“We’re looking for Paige,” Phoebe replied. “There’s an emergency at home.”
Her attention now focused on the two witches, Cecile frowned. “Emergency?”
With a sigh, Olivia explained about the information that Darryl had conveyed to her. “Miss Donna Thompson is actually the owner of a herbal shop on Telegraph Road. Her name is Daley Bakker. With two Ks.”
“Daley Bakker?” The mention of the name sent Andre’s mind spiraling back into the past. Back to the days of his association with drug dealer Victor Lacroix, now deceased. He then snapped out of his reverie and frowned at Olivia. “Are you sure that’s the name Darryl gave you?”
This time, Olivia frowned. “You know her?”
“I don’t know her, personally,” Andre explained. “But I’ve heard of her.” He immediately forgot about the engagement ring and started toward the house. “Phoebe, you better find Paige, fast. And get Piper. We’ll get Cole. If that woman is Daley Bakker, Wyatt is in serious trouble.”
After delivering her offer to Kalfu, Daley continued with the ritual.
She grabbed the small plastic bag that held strands of Wyatt’s hair, removed the hair and wrapped strands of a blood root them around them. Then she placed it all inside a small metal bowl. The spell originally called for blood, but since Daley figured that Wyatt’s natural shield would prevent her from shedding his blood, his hair – along with the bloodroot – could serve as a substitute. Daley dropped a lit match into the bowl, producing a puff of smoke. The sorceress dropped a combination of her hair and bloodroot into another bowl and incinerated it with another lit match.
“Oh Kalfu, please lift the power of magic from this child and deliver it to my body, so I can serve you.” She continued with a chant of devotion to the god Kalfu, while shaking a rattle. A bright light glowed around Wyatt. He began to squirm and cry, as the light shot above his body, formed an arc and settled upon Daley’s body. The sorceress inhaled deeply, as she felt his power settle within her. She then ended the ritual by offering her thanks to Kalfu.
Satisfied with the completion of her task, Daley decided to test her new powers. She eyed the rattle on blanket and within seconds, it teleported into her hand. The ritual had worked. She was now the most powerful sorceress in existence. And all she had to do was complete the ritual’s final task.
Daley picked up Wyatt, along with the blanket and its contents from the ground. “Hey there,” she said to the wailing infant. “No need to cry like that. Don’t worry, sweetheart. Everything’s gonna be all right. Within a few minutes, all of your worries will be over.” A smile curved her lips. “Permanently.”
The Charmed Ones and Harry orbed into the middle of the Solarium. They found Donna . . . or Daley about to feed a bottle of milk to Wyatt. Fearing that some kind of power stripping potion was in the bottle, Paige reacted immediately. She orbed the bottle out of the nanny’s hand and into hers.
“What the hell?” Donna/Daley angrily cried out. She waved her hand at the newcomers and sent them flying out of the room. The bottle dropped from Paige’s grasp.
“Wow!” Harry exclaimed, struggling to his feet. “Looks like she already has Wyatt’s powers.”
Phoebe suggested fearfully, as Harry helped her stand up. “Maybe that’s her own power.”
A grim Piper retorted, “Trust me, it’s not.”
“She’s telling the truth.” Daley emerged from the Solarium, holding Wyatt. “Now if you don’t mind, I would like that bottle back.” The object of desire orbed from the floor and back into her possession.
Four more people teleported into the middle of the living room. Paige sighed with relief at the sight of Olivia, Cole, Cecile and Andre. Annoyance flitted across the nanny’s face. “Oh, what the hell is this? A party?” Again, she flung out her hand, sending the newly arrived quartet flying across the room. It shocked Paige that even Cole seemed to be affected. Daley added, “I think it’s time to end this little party.” An energy ball formed in her hand before she flung it at Cole and the others. The half-demon quickly held out his hand and blocked the attack. Much to Paige’s relief. Don . . . Daley regarded him with dismay. “That’s not possible! Who are you?” She sent another energy ball toward his direction. And again, he blocked the attack.
Then to Paige’s dismay, the fake nanny focused her attention upon the Charmed Ones and Harry, and attacked them with an energy ball. As the ball of electricity zoomed toward them, Paige cried out, “Energy ball!” Unfortunately, it continued it path toward the sisters and Harry. Cole used his telekinesis to redirect the energy ball into another direction and it slammed against a wall.
The nanny growled in frustration and began to orb out of the room. Paige held her breath, as Cole beamed the infant out of Daley’s arms. He finally sent an energy ball at the Vodoun woman, but the latter could disappear for good before it could strike.
END OF PART XIII