The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 32

Jack made a noise. “You’re telling me you’ve never had a tourist figure out the truth?”

“No.” Pandora made eye contact with him in the rearview mirror. “The spring that feeds the falls and supplies the town’s water was enchanted years ago by the witch who helped establish the town. It prevents humans from grasping the truth about this place.”

“Pretty clever.” He snorted. “Remind me not to drink the water.”

“That’s not something you have to worry about.”

He frowned. “Why not?”

“Because it only affects humans, Mr. Van Zant.” She gave him a wink and got out of the car. Let him explain that to Kaley.

Cole got out at the same time, shutting his door in sync with hers. “Hey, Kaley doesn’t know about me yet.”

“Well, you’d better explain that to her. It’s going to come up in conversation. She’s a witch, Cole. She’s going to learn this stuff sooner or later. Don’t you want her to hear it from you?”

“Yes. You’re right. Give us a few minutes? I’m probably not going to tell her about the animal-shifting part. Not yet.”

“Whatever you think she’s ready for. Let me just grab the wine I brought out of the trunk, then I’ll go in and see what I can help my mom with. Come in when you’re ready.”


Jack and Kaley got out. Cole turned toward his daughter. “You, me and Grandpa are going to have a little talk before we go in.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’ll be on my best behavior, I swear.”

“It’s not about that.”

Pandora grabbed the wine and gave the trio a wave. “See you inside.” Then she left them to talk.

The house smelled of garlic and herbs and roasting meat. “What are you cooking? It smells crazy good in here.” She walked into the kitchen to see her mother and Stanhill smooching on the other side of the island. A big pot of red sauce bubbled away on the center stove. “Okay, that’s enough of that.”

They stopped kissing, but not embracing. Stanhill tipped his head at her, his wry smile challenging her to disagree. “I’ll kiss your mother whenever I bloody well please, thank you.”

“I see that. Just maybe not over the food.” Pandora put the wine on the counter and took a seat at the island. “You’re getting love germs in the sauce.” She stuck her finger in the pot and licked it clean. “Oh, that’s good. Germs and all.”

“It’s very good. It’s pork roast with spaghetti marinara.” Corette eased out of Stanhill’s arms. “Where are your guests?”

“Having a little conversation outside. Kaley and Cole just found out that witches aren’t the only supernaturals in Nocturne Falls, and Kaley’s also getting the explanation about what her father and grandfather really are. And, yes, Cole’s dad is also a familiar.” She took a deep breath. “And I should probably tell you that Cole’s dad thinks I’m out to use his son for all the benefits of his familiar status. Including the hot sex.”

Corette narrowed her eyes. “Get him in here. I’ll talk to him. The nerve of that man assuming my daughter is—”

“No, Mom, don’t. We need to kill him with kindness. Not get up in his face. He already doesn’t trust witches. Cole had a bad first marriage, so…” She shrugged. “Just be nice to him, okay?”

“Whatever you think is best, darling. But I’m not going to let him disparage you in my house.” Corette tapped her finger on the counter. “I draw the line there. A sharp one.”

“I understand.”

The front door opened. “Hello?” Cole’s voice rang out.

Pandora hopped off the seat and headed for the foyer. “In here.”

She met him halfway. Kaley looked like she’d taken the news about her father’s and grandfather’s true identities pretty well. Pandora nodded toward the kitchen. “Come on, I’ll introduce you.”

Cole pushed his glasses up. “Lead the way.”

She took them back into the kitchen, and after Cole had handed his bottle of wine to her mother, Pandora made the introductions. Everyone shook hands, including Kaley, who then retreated a few steps and stared at Corette and Stanhill like she expected them to do something magical at any moment.

Thankfully, before the silence got awkward, Pandora’s sisters arrived. Marigold came in with an enormous salad bowl, a large bouquet for the table and her eight-year-old daughter, Saffron, in tow. Charisma was right behind them with her own contribution of freshly baked Italian bread in crisp paper sleeves.

More introductions were made, and as everyone headed to the table, Pandora found a moment to fill her sisters in on the situation with Cole’s dad. They nodded as she spoke.

“We’ve got your back.” Marigold glanced toward the dining room. “I get the protective-parent thing, but Cole’s a grown man. He can make up his mind about you on his own.”

Charisma nodded. “The father’s projecting his own fears onto his son. Classic emotional transfer.”

Pandora cut her eyes at her life coach sibling. “Can you not psychoanalyze him at the table?”

“I’m just stating the obvious. And if he thinks he’s getting away with dumping all that on you, he’s got another think coming.”

Pandora rubbed her forehead. She appreciated her sisters’ protectiveness, but she was already getting visions of just how badly the night could go. “I didn’t bring enough wine for this.”

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