Chapter 1 of 1
Now, enough was enough. Elizabeth didn’t know how this California types did things but this is not how they do it in New York. Three years! Three years! Three years since their little Paigie had found her biological family and did those girls come to New York with Paigie to introduce themselves? No. Not a word, not even a phone call.
She knew she shouldn’t have let Paigie come back to San Francisco for College but what could she do? Paigie missed the town she grew up in. Personally Elizabeth never understood how her brother could have left New York for San Francisco, she could never imagine leaving the big Apple for good. But she had let Paigie come back, the poor girl had had such a hard time after her parents’ death, and having to move to a whole new city had been hard on her, an Elizabeth never could say no to her only niece.
But no more, she didn’t care if those girls where biological family. She was going to set things straight and see for herself how her Paigie was being treated. And for that purpose Elizabeth Mathews laid down her suitcase and rang the doorbell of the very impressive Victorian Manor.
A young man opened the door. The poor boy looked exhausted but when his beautiful green eyes landed on Elizabeth they lit up followed by a huge smile and a cry of “Aunt Beth!”
Elizabeth frowned at the enthusiasm and familiarity, “I don’t believe we’ve met before young man.”
They boy stared at her and then a very familiar look came over his face. Paigie very often sported that look when she was berating herself for letting something slip.
“Uh, no, we haven’t. It’s just that Paige talks so much about you madam that I feel like I’ve known you all my life,” he said nervously and bent down to take her suitcase. “Please come in,” he ushered her inside. What a gentleman!
“I’m Chris, by the way. Hum, their cousin. Yes cousin. Just visiting,” he said as he led her into a very cozy living room and asked her to sit down on the couch.
“I thought this Patty was an only child,” she said looking up at him.
“Oh, yes, she was. I’m Victor’s nephew. Yes, Victor’s,” the boy replied and Elizabeth could swear the boy looked flustered.
“So you’re not related to Paige?”
“I feel like I am,” the boy smiled nervously and once again she could swear he reminded her of Paigie. But if they weren’t related that had to be just an impression. After all, Paigie never explained why her biological mother couldn’t keep her but she did say her father wasn’t the same as her sisters, well; conclusions weren’t hard to be made.
There was a little baby playing in a playpen and she smiled at him. That must be the famous Wyatt, and from what Paigie told her he was about to become a big brother. Another boy Paigie said, Christopher. Elizabeth frowned, why would they give the poor kid the same name as his cousin?
She heard a jingling sound behind her and turned around to see what was that when Chris cried, “Do you want a drink? Water, juice?” Elizabeth frowned turning to look at the boy. That boy was certainly very strung up. A door that obviously led to a kitchen opened and a blond man came into the living room.
“Chris, I didn’t know we had visitors,” the man said and the way he was eying Chris was certainly strange.
“Yes,” Chris said and she could tell he was trying to convey much more to the blond man. “This is Ms. Elizabeth Mathews, Paige’s aunt from New York.”
“Oh,” the man said and he opened a marvelous smile that made his green eyes brighten much as Chris’s had and she wondered if they were related. “A pleasure to meet you mam,” he kissed her hand, “Paige told us so much about you. I’m Leo, Piper’s husband.”
“Ex,” she could swear she heard Chris cough and that Leo gave him a small glare but then he turned smiling towards her again.
“You boys are such gentlemen,” she observed very impressed with their manners. “You don’t see that anymore.”
“Ah, you know,” Chris said dismissively. “Leo is an old soul and my dad was very old-fashioned. Sometimes I felt like he was raised in the twenties- ouch!” Chris glared at Leo who said apologetically.
“Sorry, didn’t see your foot there.”
Poor Chris, that must have hurt.
“Would you like a drink Ms. Mathews?” Leo asked.
“Oh, yes thank you. I am a tad thirsty. If I could have a glass of water.”
“Lemonade, much better than water,” Leo said happily. “We’ll be right back. Come help me Chris,” he said a little forcibly dragging Chris towards the kitchen.
Very stressed this Californians. And she thought New Yorkers would be the stressed ones. Wyatt mumbled something towards her and she cooed and started making faces at the boy’s giggles.
In the kitchen Leo was pacing.
“What was that?” he asked.
“You mean you offering lemonade we don’t have?” Chris asked dryly and Leo glared at him. Could the boy give him one break? Was that too much to ask from your own son?
Chris sighed and rubbed his eyes, “Look. I don’t know why but I’m sure Aunt Beth doesn’t have a clue about magic. Why else wouldn’t she have known about the Whitelighter from the future turned son? And you orbing in there doesn’t help! Don’t you sense to see if there might be someone before you orb into places?”
Leo sighed and said nothing about the comment, there was no winning with Chris, he always found something to criticize, “Okay. So we need Paige and Lemonade. You go get lemonade. I’ll call Paige and then we’ll stall until she gets here.”
“Aunt Beth is in there alone,” Chris said flatly.
“I know. No problem.”
“Okay, let me rephrase: Aunt Beth is in the most attacked by demons living room in the world with a baby who likes to conjure up dragons.”
“Oh,” Leo’s eyes went huge. “We better get a move on then,” he finished picking up the phone.
“Here is your lemonade,” Leo said as he and Chris came back from the kitchen with a tray with lemonade and some cookies.
“Oh, thank you,” she said taking the offered glass as both men took seats around her.
“Paige is coming. She was very surprised. She’ll be here in a second,” Leo said.
“Oh, does she work close by.”
“She has a temp job,” Chris said glaring at Leo. “So it really varies. Today she is close by.”
Elizabeth nodded. She also wanted to know how her niece was doing financially since she quit her social work job. Her sisters were obviously helping her, after all her visits to New York increased dramatically after she met the Halliwells. The front door opened and she heard Paigie’s voice.
“My, that was quick,” Elizabeth said as she got up to meet Paige. “That job must have been around the corner.”
Paige came into view and Elizabeth hugged her tightly.
“Aunt Beth,” Paige said delighted, “What are you doing here?”
“I came to see where my favorite niece has been living these last few years. It’s about time I meet your new family. One would think you’re ashamed of me,” she teased and Paige shook her head vigorously. Elizabeth heard Chris whisper:
“I think she’s ashamed of us,” and Leo made to shush him but Elizabeth heard anyway and got worried. Why would Paigie keep them a secret? What do they have to hide?
A very pregnant woman came down the stairs yawning.
“What’s this commotion? Can’t a woman take a nap without a demon-“
“Demonstration of love,” Chris said jumping up and hugging who Elizabeth thought must be Piper. “No, they can’t. Have you met Paige’s Aunt Elizabeth Piper?” he asked pointing at Elizabeth and she could swear Chris had stressed Piper’s name.
“Paige’s who?” Piper said confused seeing Elizabeth for the first time. “Oh, hi,” she smiled widely. “Sorry. My brain is still asleep. So you’re famous Aunt Beth. I’m Piper,” she finished extending her hand and shaking Elizabeth’s but Elizabeth noted that she still kept the one armed hug she had with Chris even though her husband was right there sitting placidly as if nothing was going on.
“Hello,” Elizabeth said politely.
“Aunt Beth came to visit,” Paige offered.
“Yes, I wanted to meet Paigie’s new family,” Elizabeth said looking around and she missed Chris biting his lips to stifle a laugh, Piper mouthing “Paigie” and Paige’s flinch. She did see Leo suddenly picking Wyatt up and noisily kissing the boy’s tummy, what she didn’t know was that he did that to cover the laugh he wasn’t able to stifle.
Elizabeth had been shown Paige’s room where she was making herself comfortable. Meanwhile Chris had orbed Phoebe home and a whispered, secret, emergency family reunion was going on in the kitchen.
“Why the hell haven’t you told her? What does she think? That you won the lottery? How do you explain you orbing to visit her?” Piper asked whispering furiously.
Paige winced,” I didn’t know how to explain.”
“See, told you,” Chris said resigned. “She’s ashamed of us.”
“Chris!” Phoebe scolded him. “I’m sure Paige has a perfectly reasonable explanation for not telling her Aunt.”
“Not really, I don’t,” Paige said flatly. “I just never did.”
“Well,” Piper said firmly. “No time like the present.”
Paige’s eyes went huge and she stammered agitated, “What? No, I can’t- I can’t- she’ll hate me-“
“No, she won’t. Ever since I can remember she always knew,” Chris said and then he got a faraway dreamy expression and rubbed his stomach. “She makes the best almond cake-“ Leo cleared his throat bringing Chris back to earth and Chris amended at Piper’s glare. “Second best, second, love you mom,” he tried smiling sheepishly.
“See,” Phoebe said happily. “You have nothing to worry about.”
As soon as the last sound was out of Phoebe’s mouth the doorbell rang and they heard the door opening and Aunt Beth saying.
“Oh, hello. And who might you be?”
“Richard, is Paige in?”
Paige let her head drop on the counter at the sound of her magic addicted ex-boyfriend’s voice.
“I haven’t touched any of that stuff in months. Seven to be more precise, completely clean,” they heard Richard’s voice from the parlor. Paige had ran to intercept Richard and Piper had ushered Elizabeth to the living room to be introduced to Phoebe where they had proceeded to shamelessly eavesdrop on Richard and Paige.
“You said that before,” Paige sighed tiredly.
“I know, but now it’s different,” Richard argued.
“What’s his problem,” Elizabeth asked whispering.
“Drug addict,” Chris whispered back and since he was behind her she missed him raising his arms helplessly or Piper’s glare at him.
Elizabeth though was properly scandalized at the company her niece was keeping.
“Richard, you know why we broke up. There is no way we can work with your problem. I can’t talk about this now. My Aunt is visiting and-“
“Your Aunt? You mean the lady who opened the door?” and before Paige could react Richard had gone to the living room where the rest of the family was trying hard to pretend they hadn’t been eavesdropping and going straight at Elizabeth he introduced himself smiling.
“Hello, I’m Richard. Paige’s boyfriend.”
“EX!” Paige hissed. “Ex-boyfriend.”
“Temporarily,” Richard didn’t miss a beat and Elizabeth had to grant he was very charming, for a drug addict. He turned towards Piper and Phoebe and greeted them, “Hi there,” he was turning back to Elizabeth when his head did a back flip towards Piper’s bulging stomach, “Oh, well, that’s new.”
“Yeah,” Piper nodded. “I’m pregnant. A boy, Christopher,” she said stressing the name meaningfully and Richard’s eyes went huge and he turned to stare at Chris.
“Christopher, oh, wow,” and Elizabeth started to feel very sorry for Leo. They could at least be discreet!
“So, Chris huh?” Richard said conversationally to Phoebe in the kitchen. “Makes sense though. He knew so much about you.”
Phoebe looked at him and asked bluntly, “Richard, what are you still doing here?”
“You know, trying to talk to Paige. I know she’s busy with her aunt but I thought maybe we can talk later, though I don’t think her aunt liked me,” he frowned.
“She thinks you’re a drug addict,” Phoebe said flatly and when Richard gawked at her she huffed, “Well sorry, the woman doesn’t know about magic and you have to admit your conversation with Paige sounded a lot like a drug addict’s one.”
“Oh, that’s just great. Peachy,” Richard huffed.
“Richard,” Phoebe sighed. “Do you really love Paige or are you here just because you can’t have her?”
“What is that supposed to mean. Of course I love her!” he said exasperated.
Phoebe sighed, “You do realize that Paige is very much immersed in what you need to keep a distance from? That won’t change. How can you be together when she won’t be able to share her life with you?”
“I- we’ll think of something.”
“Whatever you think of is going to be very hard, so be sure that what you feel is love and not just fondness that you are mistaking for love because the forbidden fruit is always more tasty,” she said seriously. “Because if you hurt my baby sister, Piper and I will make you suffer,” she finished sternly and then she hoisted the tray with the coffee up and went towards the living room where the rest of the family was sitting.
She entered the room and heard laughter. She smiled at Paige’s affronted face. To be honest she would enjoy having Aunt Beth here. She had been regaling them with stories of Paige’s childhood and Phoebe and Piper were drinking it all up. Paige had had the pleasure to hear stories like that from Victor, Patty and Penny but Piper and Phoebe only had Paige’s highly edited version of her childhood, now they could get to know the stories Paige couldn’t remember and the ones she didn’t want them knowing about.
“You know what?” Piper said happily. “I’m going to make us a special dinner.”
“No, I couldn’t possibly impose, especially not on your state,” Elizabeth said flustered.
“Don’t worry,” Piper said waving a hand dismissively. “Cooking for me is therapeutic. Besides, I’ll make Chris do the hard work.”
“You won’t regret it Elizabeth,” Richard said from behind Phoebe. “Piper’s one of the best chefs in San Francisco.”
Piper, who was already up waddling to the kitchen, said with a dangerous smile as she passed through Richard, “Sucking up to me won’t make me kill you any less if you hurt my sister.”
She went through the kitchen door and soon enough a cry of “CHRIS!” was heard and the boy in question jumped up from the couch, where he was lounging lazily, as if he had been scorched and ran to the kitchen.
“She has that effect on people,” Paige explained at her aunt’s bewildered gaze.
Paige had gone to talk seriously and alone with that Richard. Elizabeth didn’t know what to make of him. Sure he was very charming and he seemed a nice enough man but she felt Phoebe and Piper were not happy at all with his reappearance. Though that comment Piper made to him was reassuring to Elizabeth. In that phrase and the way Piper let Richard know she meant business let her know that these girls were very fond and would take care of Paigie. Even if they were a little weird and if Piper was having an affair with her own cousin right in front of her husband.
And they were very nice, she had been talking to Phoebe while Piper and Chris were cooking, and Paige and Richard were talking and Leo had gone to feed Wyatt and put him down for the night and they were having so much fun. Phoebe was very interested in knowing all about Paigie growing up. And she told Elizabeth about them and Prue, the sister who died before they met Paigie. Elizabeth wanted to hear more about her since she knew that for a long while Paigie felt like a replacement for Prue and had conflicting feelings, since at the same time she was sad she would never meet that sister and she also was resenting her a bit.
“Dinner is served,” Piper called and Phoebe led Elizabeth to the dining room where Chris was putting the wonderful dishes Piper had made on the table.
Leo had obviously come down earlier because he was finishing setting the table. Piper and Richard joined them and they were about to sit down when Elizabeth’s world suffered an enormous shift.
Dark orbs formed and a man in black materialized. She only had time to see Richard pull Paige out of the dark man’s crossbow aim when the arrow that had almost hit her niece stuck Chris, who had been in the direct line of fire, in the stomach instead. Piper cried and flicked her fists but the dark man had moved and a vase exploded. The man was about to shoot again, aiming at Leo this time when Chris rasped out, “Watch out dad!” and waved the hand that wasn’t supporting him off the ground making the dark man fly away and get knocked at the wall. Richard pulled a vial from his pocket and threw it at the man making the man explode.
“So, you’re clean, uh?” Paige remarked dryly.
“LEO!” Piper cried kneeling next to Chris who was having a hard time breathing and had lost the battle to keep away from the floor. Leo ran to him and turned him on his back. Phoebe, who had run to them too, expertly pulled the arrow out as if that was an everyday occurrence and Leo’s hands hovered over the wound lighting up and the wound closed. That was just too much for Elizabeth and she fainted.
“So you are not having an affair with your cousin?”
“Nope, he’s my son from the future.”
“And you were raised in the twenties?”
“Yes,” Leo smiled sheepishly.
“And Richard isn’t a drug addict?”
“No, but his sorry magic addicted butt has been thrown out again,” Paige huffed.
“Oh , my head…” Elizabeth moaned lying down on the couch again and putting the ice pack on her forehead again.