The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 27

Under no circumstances, no matter how sexy Cole was, no matter how much she was tempted, not even if he did some kind of familiar magic spell on her (if that was even possible), there was absolutely, positively no way she could end up in bed with him.

Jack Van Zant arrived at Cole’s house earlier than expected. He greeted Cole with a hearty handshake. “Good to see you, son.”

“You too, Dad.” He raised his brows as he looked at his watch. Quarter to noon. “You made good time.”

His father shrugged. “What else have I got to do these days?”

“Grandpa!” Kaley came down the stairs. Despite being a thirteen-year-old, she hadn’t yet lost the ability to be affectionate, at least with her grandfather. Maybe it was because he was the only grandparent she had any regular contact with.

Jack scooped her up in a hug. “Hello there, baby girl.”

She returned his hug until he deposited her back on solid ground.

Then he started with the questions as he came into the foyer. “How’s the move treating you? You like your new school? Keeping your grades up? Have you made any friends? I hope none of them are boys.”

“Grandpa, no. No boys. And my grades are fine.” She rolled her eyes. Not even Grandpa Jack was spared that.

“Good. Just checking.” He dug into his pocket and pulled out an iTunes gift card. “You have any use for this thing? I won it playing poker. It says it’s worth twenty-five bucks, but it looks like a fake credit card if you ask me. If you don’t want it, I guess I’ll just throw it away…”

Kaley squealed. “Don’t throw it away!”

Jack put on a confused face. “You mean you want this old piece of plastic?”

“Yes, totally. Can I?” She held out her hand, playing up the cute factor with big eyes and a winsome smile. It was a look Cole had a hard time saying no to as well. And it was one of the few things Kaley had inherited from her mother.

“Sure, but I want a kiss first.” Jack offered her his cheek.

She gave him a long peck as she grabbed the card out of his hand. “Thank you!”

“You’re welcome, baby girl.”

Kaley popped her hip to one side, the card firmly in her hand. “Can I go upstairs?” she asked Cole.

“Sure, but we’re having lunch in a few minutes.” Normally, he’d make her stay and talk to her grandfather, but Cole needed some time alone with him.

“Okay, I won’t be long.” With that, she scampered back to her room to fill her iPhone with new music.

“Thanks, Dad. That was nice of you.” Cole shut the front door.

“I don’t see that kid enough since you’ve moved.”

“You know it’s just temporary. We’ll be back as soon as I get this place fixed up and sold.”

Jack looked around. “I might be dead before then.”

“Dad, please.”

His father took a hard look at the stacks of paper still filling the dining room. “You’ve got your work cut out for you, that much I know.”

“It’s well underway, I promise.” But Cole hadn’t contacted his father to talk about the house. There would be plenty of time for that topic at lunch when their conversation would have to be tempered for Kaley’s ears. “Let’s go out on the porch so we can talk.”

“Sure.” Jack nodded, his face serious. “After you.”

Cole led his father out to the back, and when they were both settled in, he went silent for a moment trying to find the right words. But what those were, he wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he needed answers. “Why didn’t you tell me what I am? What we are? I know you’re the same thing I am. Kaley can see it in our auras.”

“Right to it, then.” Jack took a deep breath. “Yes, we’re both familiars. Your mother and I kept the truth from you for many reasons. But your safety and personal happiness were paramount.”

Cole’s brow furrowed. “Was I in some kind of danger?”

“It was a distinct possibility.”

“Why don’t you just start from the beginning?”

Jack glanced at his son, then out beyond the porch to the overgrown backyard. “What you need to know is that your mother, may she rest in peace, was a witch. And I was her familiar.”

Cole stared at his father. “Mom was a witch?”

Jack nodded.

“But you raised me not to believe in any of that.”

“Which was part of keeping you safe.”

None of it made any sense, but Cole hoped that would change. A thousand questions flew into his head, but he tucked them away for later and let his father talk. “Go on.”

“We made the decision to shield you from the truth around the time you were three. A very aggressive witch in your mother’s coven made it plain that she wanted me for her familiar. Now, granted, it doesn’t work that way. A witch and a familiar must be a bonded pair for the connection to reach its full power and remain that way, but a lot of witches think they can circumvent the natural bonding with magic. Anyway, this woman took it upon herself to interfere with our lives and our marriage.”

Jack sighed. “It was mildly annoying at first. We didn’t pay much attention to it, really. In fact, it became something of an inside joke between us.” A faint smile played on his lips. “Whenever anything bad happened, we blamed it on Zarina. Paper cut? Must be Zarina. Rained-out picnic? Zarina had cast a weather spell. Milk spoiled before we could use it all? More of Zarina’s dirty tricks.”

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