The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 56

And saw Cole’s ex-wife walking through her door, looking hideously perfect in black skinny jeans, ankle boots and an indigo leather jacket. Her make-up was simple, but when you were that beautiful, anything more than a crimson lip was probably overkill.

Maybe the Dark Side wasn’t so bad after all. Word was, they had cookies. Pandora stood, glad the day had been cool enough for her high-heeled boots. They weren’t last night’s stilettos, but they gave her a couple extra inches. “Can I help you?”

“I’m Lila Aquinos. We met last night. At my husband’s.” She laughed. “Oops! Ex-husband’s. You know what I meant.”

Yes, Pandora supposed, she did know what Lila meant. “I remember.”

Lila put her hands on the back of one of the guest chairs across from Pandora’s desk. “I can see why Cole’s so taken with you. You’re very pretty.”

“Thank you.” Okay, this had gone from weird to awkward.

“I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m here.”

Pandora nodded. “You’re a regular mind reader.”

Lila laughed. “I do make my living reading tarot.” She pointed at the chair. “Can we chat for a minute? I know you’re busy, but I promise I’ll be brief.”

“Okay.” Pandora agreed more out of curiosity than anything else. She sat down as Lila did the same.

Lila crossed one long leg over the other. Her smile thinned. “I’m sure you’ve heard all about me from Cole.”


Lila picked at the seam on her jeans. Her nails were long, purple and filed into soft points. “Enough that you know I wasn’t a great wife or mother.”

So cheating was not being a great wife and disappearing on your kid was not being a great mother. Pandora could think of better adjectives, but good to know. “I’ve heard, yes.”

Lila sighed and bowed her head and seemed to be trying to get a handle on her emotions. At last, she lifted her head and looked at Pandora again. “I was crappy at both of those jobs. Being young and stupid is no excuse. I hurt Cole—” She put her hand toward the sky. “Thank the goddess he’s forgiven me. And I left Kaley with no mother. I take full responsibility for my selfish actions.”

Points for that. Not a lot, but some. “That’s very adult of you.”

“Granted, Cole wasn’t entirely blameless in our marriage dissolving, but I’m willing to let the past be the past.”

“What do you mean?”

Lila took a breath. “It was…hard. Constantly being told that I was ridiculous for thinking I was a witch? That took its toll. I’m not saying it’s what made me stray, but it sure didn’t keep me home.”

“Why didn’t you do something—cast a spell, do a little magic—to show him that it was the truth?”

“You know how it is when you first meet a guy? You keep your cards close to your vest until you feel them out. Make sure they’re not like Cole. But with Cole, I fell for him despite that. He was so good with Kaley. And as things progressed…” Lila’s bitter laugh filled the office. “His mother made sure I didn’t do anything to bring down the ivory tower he’d been raised in.”


“Cole’s mother was a witch. Non-practicing due to some stuff in her past, but she told me straight away that if I used magic around him, or did anything that might show him the truth, she’d report me to the ACW with whatever charges necessary to make sure my powers were stripped. I had to choose the man I loved and the best chance for a father my kid had had so far, or being a witch.” She shrugged. “So I didn’t practice around him. I think that was part of what drove a wedge between us. Not being able to be yourself around someone you consider family is a difficult thing.”

“I can imagine.” Pandora was starting to wonder if Cole knew this side of things.

“Anyway,” Lila continued. “I got to a place in my life recently where I finally grew up and took assessment of everything I’d done so far, and it wasn’t pretty. I was about as big of a screw-up as a person can be.”

Pandora’s brows shot up. “That’s quite an admission.”

“It’s the truth. It’s also why I’m here. I’m never going to be a better wife. Those days are over, no matter how Cole still feels about me, but with Kaley, I can still make a difference.”

No matter how Cole still felt about her? What the French did that mean? Pandora tried to ignore that part for the moment. “I’m not sure why you’re telling me all this.”

“Because I know you’ve become part of Kaley’s life. I appreciate that. She needs a good influence. Especially someone like you.”


Lila smiled. “A sister witch.”

“Ah.” Pandora offered a tentative smile in return. For a woman who had very little contact with her daughter, Lila knew a lot about what was going on in Kaley’s life. Maybe they talked more than Kaley let on. And maybe most of Kaley’s calls to her mother didn’t go to voice mail. Especially considering Kaley had also told Pandora her mother was dead.

“Kaley also told me you offered to become her mentor.”

Actually, Pandora hadn’t gotten around to that last night. With all the excitement of Lila showing up, it just hadn’t seemed like the right time. Sure, Pandora had promised to help Kaley get a mentor. But maybe Kaley had wanted her mother to think otherwise.

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