The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 33

Cole wasn’t surprised by how pretty Pandora’s mother or sisters were. After all, Pandora was a knockout. He’d expected the gene pool to be strong. What he wasn’t prepared for was the amount of noise the clan made. There were nine of them seated around a dining room table meant for eight. For someone who’d been raised an only child, it was somewhat overwhelming. It also filled him with a curious longing to be a bigger part of something this loud and raucous. There was an abundance of love and joy in this room, and despite the craziness of it, the feeling was infectious.

Kaley and Saffron, Pandora’s youngest sister’s girl, were seated next to each other and, despite the five-year age difference, seemed to be becoming fast friends. At least, they were talking up a storm and laughing, so it looked like they were having a good time.

In that moment, an ache filled him at the thought that Kaley was growing up an only child too.

Pandora, seated on his left, bent closer to him. “You okay? Or just overwhelmed by all this?”

He smiled, thankful for the easy out. “A little overwhelmed. But good. I like it. Just not used to it.”

“I totally understand.” She lifted her gaze toward his father. “Your dad and Stanhill seem to be getting on.”

Cole nodded. Stanhill was at the head of the table with Jack directly across from Cole. The two men had been engaged in conversation since dinner started. “It helps that they have cars in common. Especially British cars. My father’s been in love with British machines since as far back as I can remember. He has an old Jag in the garage that he’s been working on for the last couple of years, but he loves Aston Martins and Bentleys, too.”

“My mother excels at hostessing. She knows how to pair people up at the table.”

“I’d say.” He tipped his head toward his daughter. “Look at Kaley and Saffron. I’m not even sure they know the rest of us exist.”

Pandora smiled. “I’m happy about that. I think they could be good for each other.”

“I agree.” Just like he thought Pandora could be good for him.

She blinked at him. “You’re staring.”

He held her gaze. “It’s hard not to.” He wanted to kiss her with the kind of intensity that almost made him lean in, but this was her mother’s house and her mother’s table. He was not about to cross that line.

As if sensing his thoughts, Pandora retreated a few inches.

Corette, who was at the opposite end of the table, must have picked up on something, because he heard his name a second later. “Cole, what is it you do for a living?”

“And so it begins,” Pandora muttered.

He smiled. He’d been waiting for the inquisition. “I teach math. Most recently at East State University.”

“But not anymore?”

“I took a sabbatical. Getting this house remodeled is my job now. I’ve worked construction almost every summer since I was sixteen. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty.” He nodded at his dad. “A job worth doing is a job worth doing well.”

Jack smiled. “That’s right.”

“I agree,” Corette said. “Pandora told us you inherited the Pilcher Manor. Your skills will come in very handy. I’m glad someone who cares about it will be in charge of fixing it up. It’s going to be a big job, though.”

He smiled. “It is. Huge. But the money that came with the inheritance will help. That’s what made it possible for us to move here while I fix the house up. Once it’s sold, Kaley and I will be set.”

“I’m sure Pandora will get you a fabulous deal.” She picked up her wine. “I know you haven’t been in town long, but do you know what neighborhood you want to be in then?”

He hesitated. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

Corette finished her sip and set the glass down. “Well, most of the neighborhoods here have their own sort of flavor. Pandora can tell you better than I can, but her section tends to have large ranch-style homes, while the houses on the streets in this part are almost all two-story cottages.”

Marigold chimed in. “I live one street over. It’s a small house, but this is a great neighborhood. They all are, really. This is a well-planned town.”

“You could always get a condo,” Charisma said. “I live in the Excelsior. It’s a fabulous building. We have an indoor pool and a gym, not that I get to use them that much. I travel a lot, so having a house to take care of isn’t really feasible.”

Pandora, her mother and her sisters all looked at him, waiting on his answer.

He put his fork down. “That sounds great, but we’re not staying.”

Beside him, Pandora frowned. “What do you mean you’re not staying?”

He blinked in confusion. “We have a house in North Carolina, where I work. We’re only here as long as it takes to fix up my uncle’s house and sell it.”

The table went silent. Even Kaley and Saffron. Kaley looked at him. “But we could stay, right?”

“No, Kaley, we can’t. I have a job to go back to.”

Kaley frowned and crossed her arms. “But my mentor will be here.” She looked around the table. “Right?”

Pandora shook her head. “You and your mentor need to live in the same town. Or at least the same state.”

“Dad.” Kaley glared at him.

He gave her the look that said they’d talk about it later. Then he glanced at Pandora.

Copyright © novelfull All Rights Reserved.