Beware What You Wish (Charmed)
AbeBooks Seller Since June 26, 2006Quantity Available: 1
AbeBooks Seller Since June 26, 2006Quantity Available: 1
About this Item
Title: Beware What You Wish (Charmed)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Book Condition:VERY GOOD
About this title
Wishes are being made all over San Francisco: a candidate for office wishes for a less formidable opponent, a little girl wishes for a horse and Phoebe wishes she could foresee more calamities so she can prevent them. Soon she's having more visions than she can handle - and the sisters are exhausted from racing all over town to avert disasters. Finally Phoebe refuses even to leave the housel A strange spirit has been released from its stone prison and the power of the Charmed Ones may not be enough to stop an impending cataclysm.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Startling, dark eyes caught Prue Halliwell off guard as she stepped through heavy wooden doors into a foyer lit by flickering wall sconces. This was not what she had expected when Stephen Tremaine's housekeeper had directed her into the library to wait.
Her sister Piper's warning over breakfast that morning rushed to mind. "Be careful, Prue. I've heard that guy is tougher than a stale cookie and incredibly vain."
"Vain with good reason," Phoebe, the youngest of the three sisters, had added. "According to the gossip columnists Mr. Tremaine is the most sought after bachelor in town."
"Being one of the richest bachelors in the state may have something to do with that." Piper had patted Prue's shoulder with sympathy. "Vain is the operative word, Prue. Better make darn sure you get the lighting right."
Now Prue's hand tightened on her camera strap as she watched artificial torchlight play across the primitive visage before her. Set in parched, brown hide and ringed in white, the lifeless eye sockets stared back with a defiance untouched by time.
The primitive mask was a unique reminder to all that Stephen Tremaine was in complete control, Prue realized uneasily.
"Make sure you get the lighting perfect," Phoebe had added earlier that morning. "Tremaine has a business reputation as a shark."
Prue did not take her sisters' warnings lightly. The wealthy entrepreneur she had been sent to photograph was rumored to have an ego that matched his bulging Wall Street portfolio. If Tremaine found her work less than flattering and complained to the editor of 415 magazine, the consequences could put a serious dent in her puny-by-comparison bank account.
"Do you find it disturbing?" a man asked from behind her.
"Not particularly, no." Prue glanced back as Stephen Tremaine closed the library door.
Forty-three, with closely cropped salt-and-pepper hair that emphasized the severity of his angular face, Tremaine had a more commanding presence than Prue had anticipated. Casual gray slacks and a blue blazer worn over a white turtleneck softened his austere expression without diluting his confident demeanor. As Phoebe had observed, he was attractive if you liked brainy GI Joe types.
And driven by ambition, Prue reminded herself. Twenty years ago Tremaine had created and sold computer gaming software from an efficiency apartment in Oakland. As his company had grown into an industry giant, he had expanded into military simulations and applications. Last year he had sold Tremaine Enterprises for millions.
Now Tremaine was running for Congress, which was why she had been assigned to photograph him. The photo would be published along with an interview in 415.
"An intriguing response." Tremaine hesitated, looking surprised, then smiled as he moved toward Prue. "Most women find my collection repulsive."
"Do they?" Caught off guard by the intensity of Tremaine's gray gaze, Prue turned back to the mask.
Perched on a pedestal, the artifact dominated the library foyer. The oval mask was fringed in partially beaded strands of coarse, black hair. Colorful pigments crisscrossed the face, separating the eyes from a gaping mouth inlaid with discolored, broken teeth. Human teeth, if Prue wasn't mistaken.
"West African, isn't it?" Prue asked with that slight, self-satisfied smile Piper called her gotcha grin.
Tremaine cocked an eyebrow, taken aback again. Apparently, none of the women he knew were familiar with cultural antiquities. "Yes, a spirit mask from the Congo Basin."
Prue extended her hand and introduced herself.
"I'm more delighted than you can imagine, Ms. Halliwell." Tremaine gripped Prue's hand in both of his. "It's not often I meet someone who appreciates the ancient crafts."
More appreciative of the ancient Craft than you'll ever know, Prue thought. She and her two sisters were the Charmed Ones, witches endowed with supernatural powers and an unquestioned obligation to defend the innocent against evil. Since they had all moved back to the Victorian house they had inherited from their grandmother and discovered The Book of Shadows, their powers and the bond between them had grown stronger.
"Especially someone so beautiful." Tremaine held Prue's wary gaze as he released her hand. When she didn't respond immediately, he cleared his throat and self-consciously averted his eyes.
Prue couldn't tell if the candidate was being sincere or simply angling for her vote. She didn't agree with his politics, which was bad if he wanted a date, but irrelevant regarding her job. She smiled to smooth over the awkward moment and raised her camera. "Shall we?"
"First, let me show you some of my other prized pieces." Tremaine put his hand on Prue's back and gently urged her toward the expansive library beyond the foyer.
Prue's indignation at Tremaine's possessive manner was forgotten as she stepped into his magnificent library. Thousands of books, many of them leather-bound editions, lined floor-to-ceiling shelving on three walls. Three tall arched windows and French doors leading into a garden were set into the fourth wall. A variety of masks, tapestries, leather shields, and Native American dream catchers hung on mahogany-paneled wall space between the bookshelves. Other cases with glass doors contained carved totems, pottery, jewelry, tools, and idols fashioned from metal, stone, and wood.
The stunning sight took Prue's breath away.
"You're impressed," Tremaine said, smiling.
"Yes, I am," Prue answered honestly, disarmed by the man's almost boyish delight with her reaction. She nodded as her educated gaze swept over the room. Many of the artifacts had easily recognizable origins -- intricate Chinese carvings in jade, Egyptian mosaics, and Aztec sun stones -- while others eluded her expertise. She bent forward to study an oil pot etched with the figure of Zeus, wondering how such an exquisite ancient piece had ended up in Tremaine's private collection instead of a museum.
"Care to guess?" Tremaine asked.
"Greek. Fourth or fifth century B.C." Prue straightened, being careful not to let on that she was disturbed. She had done business with every major art and antiquity collector in San Francisco when she had worked at Buckland's auction house -- except for Stephen Tremaine. Exactly how had he acquired so many priceless artifacts?
"Fifth," Tremaine said. "It was found in a dig I financed five years ago near the site of ancient Delphi."
Prue didn't ask if he had used theft or bribery to remove an oil-burning urn from Greece. It was highly unlikely the Greek government had willingly let such a rare, almost perfectly preserved artifact leave the country.
"There's no other quite like it in the entire world." Tremaine stared into the case as he spoke.
Prue wasn't sure if the candidate was overcome with awe for the history behind the piece and respect for the hands that had created it or simply consumed by pride and the thrill of possessing the unique. Or elements of both, she thought. A man with Tremaine's abilities and aspirations would be more complex than his public profile. She had expected him to be arrogant and demanding. Instead, he had been gracious and charming. She had no idea which persona defined the real Stephen Tremaine. Playing it safe, she shifted gears before she said something she'd regret.
"I need to get these shots while the light is right, Mr. Tremaine." Prue glanced at the sunlight streaming through the windows, which would give her sufficient back lighting. One of the filtered lenses in her bag would soften the hard lines of his face. She hoped the marvels of modern technology would create the illusion of youthful dignity that Mr. Tremaine required.
"Of course." Tremaine nodded curtly, then turned and strode across the room. He sighed as he leaned against his desk. "I suppose you want the usual head shot."
"Actually, I was thinking of something a little more creative," Prue said. Actually, she was thinking on her feet. In the event Tremaine managed to get elected, it couldn't hurt to have a congressman as a happy customer. "A shot that says something about the man behind the public persona."
"Such as?" Tremaine asked.
Prue dropped her bag on the sofa and talked as she fished for the filtered lens. "Upper body shot in front of a display case holding one of these fabulous pieces. You pick."
"Excellent idea." Suddenly enthused, Tremaine withdrew a key from his jacket pocket and unlocked the nearest display case. "Will there be a caption under the picture?"
"Most likely." Prue smiled her gotcha smile. Diplomacy when properly applied packed a powerful punch. Tremaine may or may not have been playing her for a fool with his compliments, but she was in complete control now.
"What is that?" Prue asked as Tremaine pulled a crudely carved stone statue from the case. Egg-shaped and roughly eight inches tall with barely discernible facial and body features, it seemed an odd choice compared to Tremaine's more elaborate treasures.
"My experts believe it's a spirit stone." Tremaine cupped the statue in both hands, his gaze trained on it with unguarded admiration.
"Go on." Prue snapped off a series of shots from slightly different angles.
"The evidence suggests it's from an obscure tribe that inhabited the central Amazon regions of South America roughly three thousand years ago," Tremaine continued.
Prue captured his satisfied grin on film and kept shooting. "Fascinating."
"Yes, quite." Tremaine's face clouded. "However, my knowledge and appreciation of ancient cultures won't help me defeat my opponent."
"Probably not," Prue agreed. Noel Jefferson was the other contender for a recently vacated congressional seat in San Francisco. Younger and better looking, the idealistic public defender was leading in the polls in spite of Tremaine's political connections and money. Dedicated to fighting injustice, Jefferson had already sewn up the Halliwell vote. However, with several weeks to go before the election, Tremaine had a better-than-even chance of catching up with his promises of less government interference and more corporate responsibility. The upwardly mobile, business-oriented half of the electorate loved the successful, no-nonsense rich guy.
Prue continued to shoot as Tremaine's jaw flexed and his grip tightened on the ancient stone.
"You have no idea how much I wish I wasn't running against Noel Jefferson. The man's record is -- " Tremaine's eyes closed, and he swayed on his feet as though suddenly overcome with dizziness.
Prue lowered the camera and instinctively reached out. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine." Tremaine brushed away her hand and her concern. Obviously shaken, he put the primitive stone back in the case with a trembling hand and stammered an excuse. "My schedule's been so full I've skipped one too many meals."
Although it escaped Tremaine's notice, Prue saw that he had set the statue down on the rounded edge of its base. As the wobbling stone started to fall, she concentrated and flicked her finger to move it onto its flattened bottom, saving the glass shelf from cracking. Having turned away, Tremaine didn't notice that, either.
"Are we finished?" Composing himself, Tremaine settled into the leather chair behind his desk and flipped open a laptop.
"Yes." Prue realized the candidate was upset because she had witnessed a vulnerable moment. Since he had already made his medical records public, she knew he wasn't hiding a serious condition. Still, a reporter with less integrity than she had might use the incident for political or professional gain. "I'm sure one of these shots will -- "
"Then if you don't mind, I've got work to do." Tremaine averted his gaze and turned on the computer.
Annoyed by the rude dismissal, Prue grabbed her camera bag and headed for the door. On closer inspection of the display cases, she realized that, although Tremaine owned some distinctive pieces from the classic ancient cultures, his collection was predominantly comprised of weapons and other artifacts of war and intimidation from warrior societies.
The connection hit Prue as she turned into the foyer. War and intimidation were an appropriate reflection of Tremaine's methods in business and, perhaps, even in politics. Anyone who wanted to hold elected office had to appear to be gracious and charming even if he wasn't.
She cast a quick glance into the dark eyes of the mask on the pedestal and shuddered as she let herself out. Like anyone whose existence was defined exclusively by money and power, maybe Tremaine's life was just as empty as those ancient, lifeless orbs.
Copyright © 2001 by Spelling Television Inc.
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