The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 54


“Good. Now let’s go dig into this dessert.”

While Kaley was in the shower the next morning, Cole called her school and spoke to someone in the office to let them know that Lila Aquinos was not approved to pick Kaley up or take her out of school.

He was probably being overly cautious, but it was an error he was willing to make.

Throughout the entire morning of making Kaley breakfast and driving her to school, he couldn’t get Lila out of his mind. What the hell was she trying to prove coming here?

Kaley opened the truck door. “See you later, Dad.”

“Love you, sweetheart. Have a good day.”

“Thanks. Love you too.”

She hopped out, and he sat for a moment, watching her find her friends and head in. Lila had no legal grounds to take Kaley away from him, but that did nothing to quell the unease that had settled into his gut the second he’d seen her on the porch.

He drove back to the house and, hoping to shake Lila from his head, tackled the enormous job of clearing out more of his uncle’s junk. It worked in a half measure, but then he realized the key to ditching thoughts of Lila was focusing on Pandora.

He replayed the events of the previous night. It was impossible not to smile thinking about her. And that kiss.

Staying was such a risk, but it felt right. This thing between them was good. Sure, it was early days, but he could imagine the future would be just as bright. And becoming part of Pandora’s big family would mean so much for Kaley. Cousins and aunts and a step-grandmother. It could be life-changing for her to have that sort of support group.

He carried out a stack of boxes to the dumpster. Now all he had to do was find a job that would support them. The money from the house would buy them a place to live and give him a cushion if the house in North Carolina didn’t sell right away.

Maybe he could talk his dad into moving down after he retired. He couldn’t work at the plant forever. And Cole knew that being near Kaley was important to Jack. No, he wouldn’t like it, but Jack would come to see that love trumped all.

Cole tossed the boxes into the dumpster, and as they landed with a satisfying thud, he realized what had just gone through his head.


He wasn’t in love with Pandora yet. It was way too early for that. But he was most definitely infatuated with her. And that could turn into love. That was how it worked. He shook his head as he headed back inside, a crazy sense of happiness rocking him. His life had done a one-eighty from everything he was used to and yet, he wouldn’t want it any other way. Life was good.

He was only one box into the next stack when someone knocked on the door. He wiped his hands on his jeans and went to answer it.


He kept the anger from his face. The more civil this could be, the better. “She’s already gone to school. I told you to call me.”

She smiled sweetly. “I know. And I would have, but I was afraid you’d say no.”

His hackles went up. “To what?”

“To talking. Just you and me.” She did a flirty thing with her eyes. “You look good.”

He ignored her not-so-subtle come-on. “Talk about what?”

She canted her head. “Can I come in?”

He braced himself against the door frame and crossed his arms. “I’m working.”

“It won’t take long.” She did a very familiar pout. “C’mon, Cole. For old times’ sake.”

“Our old times aren’t worth consideration.”

She let out a long breath through her nose, slightly deflated. “Please. I won’t take long.”

He relented and moved out of the way. “Ten minutes.”

She walked in. “Thank you.”

“Kitchen’s this way.” He didn’t check to see if she was following, just moved. Once in the kitchen, he poured himself another cup of coffee. It would have been polite to offer her some, but it would have been polite of her not to have shown up uninvited. It also would have been polite of her not to sleep with men who weren’t her husband. He turned and rested against the counter. “What do you want to talk about?”


His jaw twitched in anger. He’d known that was what she was here for. At least she’d finally come out and said it. “What about her?”

Lila leaned on the counter opposite him. “I’m not here to take her away from you.”

“You couldn’t if you tried.”

“I know that. But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Sort of taking assessment of my life.” She stared at the floor. “I know I wasn’t a good wife. I’m sorry. I really am. I can’t do anything to change that. I also know I wasn’t a good mother, but that I can work on. If you’ll let me.”

“In what way?”

“I want to spend more time with Kaley. Try to get to know her. Try to be there for her in whatever way she wants me to be.”

“That’s a big ask for someone who abandoned that child.”

Lila looked toward the backyard. “I know. I don’t deserve it.” She shifted her gaze back to him. “But I’m hoping that you’ll give me a chance to earn your trust. Kaley needs me right now—”

“You mean because she’s becoming a witch? Coming into her powers and all that?”

Lila stared at him with intense curiosity. “You say that like you believe it. Kaley told me you did, and considering you let her go to a coven meeting, I’m guessing it’s true, but it’s hard for me to imagine after all the years of you doubting me.”

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