The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 31

She stuck her hand out, pleased that it wasn’t shaking. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Van Zant. Cole’s spoken highly of you.”

Jack shook her hand, his grip a tiny bit tighter than comfortable. “I’m not sure that’s true.”

She didn’t know what to say to that.

Jack released her hand. “You’re the witch who’s going to teach my granddaughter the craft, are you?”

Cole spoke before she could answer. “She’s the witch who’s going to help her, and speaking of Kaley, would you let her know it’s time for us to go?”

Jack gave his son an unreadable look. “Ah yes, the dinner that I’m not invited to.” He turned his gaze back to Pandora. It held a clear challenge.

For a moment, she felt completely intimidated. Then she decided she wasn’t going to let him make her feel that way. If he thought she was up to something despicable, how better to show him that she wasn’t? She straightened her spine and put on her best realtor smile. “Actually, we’d love to have you.”

It was enough to erase the judgmental look right off his face. “You would?” He glanced at Cole. “Did my son put you up to this?”

Honesty was always the best policy. “Nope. He actually told me not to invite you, but it’s my family and I can invite whomever I please.”

Jack smiled broadly at Cole as if to say, So there. He gave Pandora a little nod. “That’s very kind of you.”

“You know how we witches love familiars.” She widened her smile, knowing that was a bit of a jab but unable to help herself. “You are a familiar too, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” He gave her a strange look. “I’ll go get Kaley.”

“We’ll be right here.”

He disappeared back into the house.

“Why did you invite him?” Cole hissed. “And don’t think I missed that crack about witches loving familiars.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but I couldn’t help it. And I invited him so he can see I’m not after you for naughty reasons.” Although after that kiss, she had a lot of naughty reasons to think about. “If you and I are going to work together on this house and your daughter, the last thing you need is for your dad to be on your back.”

He shook his head. “You’re something else, you know that? That was very kind and completely unnecessary. I just hope this doesn’t come back to bite you. My father can be a real handful.”

She laughed. “You haven’t met my mother or my sisters yet. Which reminds me, I should send my mom a heads up to put out an extra place setting.” She pointed at her car. “My phone is in my purse.”

“Go ahead. Hey—I got a bottle of wine. I hope red is good.”

She started for the car. “It’s perfect.”

“Good. I’ll grab it, collect the stragglers and lock up the house.”

Ten minutes later, they were pulling into Corette’s driveway. Stanhill’s Bentley was already there.

“Nice car,” Jack called out from the backseat. “Your mother must do pretty well.”

“That’s her beau’s car.” Although her mother did own a gorgeous white Mercedes, which never left the garage unless she was driving it.

“Is he a familiar too?”

Pandora shot Cole a look as she parked. “No, he’s a rook.”

Kaley leaned up between the two front seats. “What’s a rook and a familiar?”

Cole opened his mouth, but the look on his face said he didn’t know how to answer.

Pandora twisted to face her. “A familiar is usually an animal but is sometimes a person who forms a deep bond with a witch in a way that strengthens the witch’s magic. A rook is a like a vampire’s assistant.”

Kaley’s eyes rounded. “Whoa. There are vampires? Like, for real? Is there going to be one here tonight?”

Pandora looked at Cole. “I feel like we should have talked about this sooner.”

He nodded. “I see that now.”

Pandora smiled at Kaley. “Yes, there are vampires for real, but there won’t be any here this evening. There are several who live here in town, so at some point, you’ll meet them. All kinds of fun supernaturals reside in Nocturne Falls. Stanhill, the rook, is my mother’s boyfriend. You’re in absolutely no danger from him, though, okay?”

“Okay.” Kaley sat back and scooted closer to her grandfather.

Cole put his hand on Pandora’s thigh. “This is sort of news to me too. What kind of fun supernaturals are you talking about?”

She tried to hold onto her train of thought while the heat from Cole’s touch warmed the skin several inches above her knee. Holy goddess. What was the question? Something about supernaturals, right? She swallowed and checked her answers off on her fingers, mostly to give herself something to do. “Uh, vampires, werewolves—and other kinds of shifters. Witches, obviously. Fae and fae-adjacent creatures, gargoyles, valkyrie, ghosts, mer-people. You name it, we probably have it.”

Cole nodded. “I see.” But he looked a little overwhelmed.

And clearly unaware that he’d just set parts of her on fire. She cleared her throat as he finally moved his hand. “Hey, listen up, all three of you. They’re all friendly. They live here because that’s the benefit of this town. The whole thing of celebrating Halloween every day means we can live in peace and pretty much out in the open about who we really are, and no one suspects anything.”

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