The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 12

Cole pulled off onto the shoulder, and the vehicle screeched to a stop. He threw the truck into park and twisted to face her. “Are you saying one-point-two as in million?”

“Did you think I meant doughnuts? Yes, million. Are you that clueless about the house you inherited?”

He sat back and stared out the windshield, his long fingers gently rapping the top of the steering wheel. A few moments passed before he spoke again. “I guess I am.”

He finally looked at her. “Where’s this place you mentioned? Melvins?”

“Melworth’s. Past the DIY Depot and on the left.”

“You’re sure you can get that kind of money?”

“Positive. No one sells more real estate in Nocturne Falls than I do.”

He put the truck back in drive and pulled onto the highway.

She settled into her seat a little more. “Does this mean custom cabinets?”

“Damn straight.” He glanced over, a slight smile bending his lips. Lips that probably didn’t suck at kissing. Or did suck, but in the good way. “It also means I want you to come back to the house tonight after dinner and tell me what else I need to do to get the place in the kind of shape you think it should be in.”

Huh. Maybe he wasn’t so stubborn after all. “That kind of sounds like you’re actually going to honor us being partners on this.”

He nodded, eyes back on the road. “Hey, I’m a man of my word. You okay being partnered up with a muggle?”

She laughed. “I’ll make a believer out of you yet.”

“I doubt that. But I’m happy to have your expertise.”

“Thanks.” Then it struck her that in less than twenty-four hours, she’d gone from not knowing Cole Van Zant existed, to almost having breakfast with him, to agreeing to dinner with him and partnering with him on the rehab of one of the most potentially beautiful old homes in town. Which meant she’d be seeing a lot of Mr. Van Zant.

It was the closest thing to a relationship she’d had since high school.

And there it was again, the memory of her past. This was why she didn’t have relationships. Too many reminders of how fast things could go tragically wrong. Too much potential for life-altering, soul-shattering heartbreak.

She turned to look out the passenger-side window. There was no stopping the memory now. The image of Ren’s face flashed through her mind, and she sucked in a breath. A barrage of images came after. The crash. The ambulance.

The funeral.

“Hey, you still with me?”

She turned. “What?”

“You seemed lost in thought.”

She forced a smile. “Just thinking about the possibilities.” The DIY Depot was up ahead. She pointed to it. “After you pass the Depot, you’ll see Melworth’s in another quarter mile. It looks like a warehouse, but trust me, it’s the place you want to be.”

“I do trust you.” He tipped his head. “Mostly.”

“No one would expect more than that right away.” She pointed again. “There, that’s Melworth’s.”

“You’re right. It does look like a dumpy old warehouse.”

“I never said dumpy.”

“It was implied.” He parked the truck on the gravel lot, throwing up a small cloud of dust. “Shall we?”

If Melworth’s was dumpy on the outside, it was a curious mix of showroom fancy and busy warehouse on the inside. She’d brought many clients here to show them what was possible for their home.

Cole nodded approvingly as they walked through the displays. “You’re right. Much nicer stuff than at the Depot.”

“Told you.”

Gary Melworth came up to Pandora with a big smile on his face. “Pandora! Nice to see you.” He glanced at Cole. “New client?”

“Sort of. This is Cole Van Zant. He just inherited the Pilcher Manor. I’m going to help him with some selections to bring it up-to-date. Cole, this is Gary Melworth, the owner.”

The two shook hands. Gary was a good enough businessman not to let the dollar signs show in his eyes, but Pandora knew he understood the magnitude of the job she’d just brought him. He nodded. “Whatever you need, you know I’m happy to help.”

“That’s why we’re here.”

He gave her a nod. “You know your way around. You need anything, holler.”

“Will do.”

Cole nudged her as Gary walked away. “You getting a kickback from that guy?”

She frowned at him. “No.”

Cole shrugged. “You should be.”

“I don’t work that way.” She walked toward a display that caught her eye. “But he does send me a three-pound box of handmade chocolates every year at Christmas.” He’d also redone her kitchen at half-price, but she didn’t mention it because it suddenly seemed like that might qualify as a kickback.

She put her hand on the vanilla glazed maple cabinet in front of her. “What do you think of these?”

He made a face. “That’s not how I was picturing it.”

“Let me guess. Dark wood, dark granite.”


“That kitchen is dark enough already. Which reminds me, that wall between the kitchen and the dining room should come down. If it’s not load bearing, of course.”

“Oddly enough, I was already thinking about that.” He stared at the cabinets. Then looked at her. “I see what you’re saying about the lighter cabinets, I really do. But maybe we should walk through the house together before we go any further?”

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