The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 13

She took her hand off the cabinet. “Okay, we can wait until after dinner, then.”

“No,” Cole said. “I mean right now.”

When they walked into the old house, Cole was instantly struck by how alone he was with a very beautiful woman. He still considered her a little batty for thinking she was a witch, but he’d underestimated her when it came to the house stuff. She clearly knew what she was doing, and if she could get the kind of money she’d talked about for this place, he could live with the batty part until the job was done. That kind of money would set him and Kaley up for a long time. Even her college would be paid for.

He could also stop worrying about getting another job during the summers. In fact, maybe he and Pandora could go into the remodeling business on the side. Okay, he wasn’t sure why he was thinking about going into business with a woman he’d just met. He needed to slow down and focus on the task at hand. One thing at a time and all that.

He shut the door behind them. “Give me a sec to grab my notepad from the kitchen.”


When he came back, legal pad and pen in hand, she was doing a slow circle, taking a close look at the foyer from top to bottom.

He leaned against the stairs. “What do you think?”

“The bones are really good, but the balusters need work.”

He nodded. “I was going to strip them and refinish. Okay?”

She scrunched up her nose, an expression he was coming to recognize as her way of softening bad news. “I don’t think so.”

“What, then?”

“The hand railing and newel posts can stay, because that’s a nice touch and a nod to the history of the house, but for the balusters, I’d go wrought iron. Not only would it modernize this entrance, but it would tie into the wrought-iron fence outside.”

He shook his head as he took notes. The woman was brilliant.

“You don’t like it.”

“No, I do,” he said. “I never would have thought of that, and it’s perfect. It’s going to cost, but—”

“You’ll make it back.”

“I know.” He smiled. “What else?”

They walked through the house together, her giving her thoughts for each room and him jotting down her design plans. By the time they’d finished the second story, he had fifteen pages of notes and a solid idea of her vision, which frankly, was so superior to what he’d been planning that he just kept nodding and writing.

He flipped the pages of the legal pad back and tucked it under his arm. “I guess that’s it. I have a lot of work to do, namely clearing the rest of the junk out of here, but after that, it’s full steam ahead on the remodel.”

She glanced up. “What about the attic?”

He looked at the stairs that led to what was technically the third story of the house. “I figured I’d just leave it as storage for whoever buys the house. If they want to do something with it, that’s on them.”

She cocked one eyebrow.

“You want to see it?”

“I do.”

“It’s a little…weird up there.”


“You’ll see. Follow me.” He led her up the steps, pushed open the door and moved aside to let her in.

Natural light filled the space from the dormers and, at the rear of the house, three large Gothic arched windows that looked over the backyard. It didn’t look nearly as creepy as it had the first night he and Kaley had come up here.

“This doesn’t seem weird.” She walked over to the middle window. “Great view of the yard. And wow, is it overgrown. You could hide an elephant in there.”

He stood by one of the sidewalls that held rows of shelves filled with odd bottles, random trinkets and as-yet-unopened boxes. “Really? You don’t think all this is weird?”

She turned to look at him, her gaze going past him to the shelves. “Hmm.” She walked over, picked up one of the bottles and studied it before putting it back on the shelf and facing him again. “I can take these things off your hands.”

“Why? What is it?”

She gave him a piercing look. “You don’t want to know.”

“Humor me.”

Her lips twitched like she was suppressing a smile. “Witch stuff.”

He frowned. “Now you’re just screwing with me.”

“No, I’m not.” She picked up one of the boxes, lifted the hinged lid, took a look, then held it out for him to see. “Who else would have a collection of cat whiskers? This proves Gertrude was a witch.”

He glanced briefly into the box. “It proves she was a crazy cat lady, but that’s about it.”

With a deep sigh, Pandora closed the lid and put the box back. “Okay, how about this?” She took a small brass mirror off another shelf and offered it to him. “Look into that and tell me what you see.”

As he took the mirror from her, their fingers touched. A fraction of a second of contact. A centimeter of skin on skin.

That was all it took. A shock jolted through him, and a barrage of sounds and images filled his being. The iridescent gleam of sunlight on black feathers. The brush of wings through the air. The distant cawing of birds. The view of a town—this town—from a thousand feet up.

Then the sounds and images were gone as quickly as they’d come.

He shook himself and blinked as the attic filled his vision again.

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