The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 4

“Pandora. What’s the Cauldron?”

“You know, The online forum. Pandora? Like the girl who opens the box that lets all the trouble into the world? That’s a cool witch name.”

“Thanks. I guess.” Pandora shook her head. “Sorry, Starla, never heard of the Cauldron.”

Starla made a face. “How can you be a witch and not know about the forum?”

Because real witches didn’t need a forum? Because adults with jobs didn’t live their lives online? Or a thousand other reasons why. None of which Pandora was going to explain. Being a witch was…personal. “I was just kidding about being a witch.”

The squint deepened. “No, you weren’t. And you’re fibbing now. I can see your aura. I might not know any spells or be able to do any magic, but I can see auras. And yours looks witchy.”

“Fine, I’m a witch.” Pandora crossed her arms. This ought to be good. “What exactly does my aura look like?”

“Purple and kinda sparkly.”

Pandora did her best not to react. But, un-freaking-believable. The kid really was a witch. Pandora wished she’d brought her wine with her. She could drink about all of it right now.

“But it’s also sort of…broken.” Starla tipped her head. “Is there something wrong with your powers?”

If Pandora had been chewing gum, she would have choked on it. “My powers are just fine, thanks.” If fine meant crap. Double bother. The kid wasn’t just good at reading auras, she was spot-on. “Who’s your mentor?”

Starla made a face. “My mentor?”

“Your witch mentor.”

“I don’t have one.” Her face brightened. “That would be hella cool, though.”

Pandora’s head was starting to hurt. “Look, it’s getting late. You can’t sleep in the shed.”

“I’m good.”

“You might be, but I’m not. In the house. I have a guest room. Also, there are spiders in here.” That ought to do it. “We’ll call your dad, tell him you’re okay, and tomorrow morning I’ll take you home.”

“I hate spiders, but I’m not going home.”

“Yes, you are. I’ll talk to your father.” What she was going to say, Pandora had no idea, but the kid couldn’t sleep in the shed. She also couldn’t live with Pandora. “Actually, don’t you have school tomorrow?”

That earned Pandora a big sigh, but at least Starla stood and picked up her backpack. “Yes.”

“You don’t like school?”

“No, I like it. But nobody loves it. It’s school.”

“Where do you go?”


Nocturne Falls High. Pandora nodded. “Now that your powers are starting to develop, you really ought to be at Harmswood Academy.”

“Sounds snooty.”

Pandora rolled her eyes. “It’s not. It’s for those who are…gifted.”

Starla’s eyes lit up. “You mean witches?”

“Yes.” All the supernaturals sent their kids there.

Starla walked out of the shed, then stopped. “Can I get a mentor there? Will you talk to my dad about it?”

“No and sure.” Pandora pointed toward the house. “Let’s go inside and give him a call, okay?”

A long huffy breath answered her, followed by a beleaguered, “Okay.”

Pandora hefted Pumpkin into her arms as she looked at Starla. “You hungry?”

Pumpkin meowed.

Pandora got a whiff of cat breath. “Excuse me, I was talking to our guest.”

Starla laughed. “Your cat’s fat.”

“Thank you, Princess Obvious.” Pandora grinned. “She’s on a diet, but she hates it. So? Are you hungry? I could make sandwiches.” Pandora tried to think like a teenager. “Or mac-n-cheese.”

Starla nodded. “That sounds cool.”

They went inside, and Starla dropped her bag by the kitchen counter, then sat on one of the bar stools and leaned her elbows on the counter. “Can’t I just call my dad in the morning?”

“And have him spend the night worrying about you? No, ma’am. Dial.”

Starla heaved out a sigh (apparently sighing was another form of teenage communication) but grabbed her phone and tapped the screen a few times. After a brief pause, she shrugged and put the phone down. “Went to voicemail.” She rolled her eyes. “Pretty sure he’s not taking my calls.”

Pandora’s sympathies were shifting to Starla’s side pretty hard. What kind of father was this guy to kick out his kid and then not take her calls? Crappy, that’s what kind. Well, Pandora knew about crappy fathers. “I’m sorry, Starla. I can imagine how that feels. Look, I’ll make you that mac-n-cheese and we can talk about something else.”

Starla perked up. “Witchy things? Like how I can get a mentor to teach me stuff?”

“Sure.” Why not? Pandora had grown up with the benefit of a mother and two sisters in the practice. This kid should have someone to talk with about all the stuff that was coming her way. Getting your powers was a pretty big time in a young witch’s life. In comparison, Pandora’s puberty had been a breeze.

“Cool.” Starla smiled. “Hey, do you have a bathroom I could use? I didn’t want to pee in your flowers.”

“And I appreciate that. Down the hall and on the right.”

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