The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 68

She just sat there. “Dude. That is so cool.”

Pandora smiled. “I think you can change back now, Cole.”

He hopped off the chair, and a second after he landed on the floor, Cole stood before them again. “The feather she wants is one of mine.”

Kaley shook her head. “I swear, I won’t give it to her.”

“Actually,” Pandora said, “we want you to do just that.”

“You do?”

Pandora pulled the substitute feather from her purse. “Yes. But this is the feather we want you to give her instead.”

Kaley took the feather, turning it over in her fingers. “Is this some kind of magic thing? Like, is it poison or something?”

“Nope. Just a feather.”

“Then why do want me to give it to her instead of the one I found in the hall?”

Cole answered. “Because that one is mine and it does have magical properties, right, Pandora?”

She nodded. “Right. We can’t have the real feather fall into your mother’s hands, Kaley.”

“Because of the spell she wants to cast,” Kaley said.

“Exactly.” Pandora nodded.

Kaley stared at the feather. “But if I give her this feather and she thinks it’s the real one, won’t she still perform the spell?”

“Maybe,” Pandora says. “We’re going to wait and see.”

“And if she does?” Kaley looked up at Pandora like the realization of what was being planned had just struck her. “What then?”

“Then…there will be repercussions. A witch forcing a familiar to bond with her is a punishable offense.”

Kaley’s brow furrowed and she frowned. “So I’d be setting her up. Getting her in trouble. That’s not cool. She’s my mother and I know she’s not like a model person or whatever, but she’s still my mom.”

Kaley slapped the feather onto the table and stood up. “I’m out of here.”

She stormed off toward her room and Pandora was about to say something but Cole raised his hand. “Let her go.”

Pandora took a breath. “I guess I should have seen that coming.”

“She’s a kid. She’s not going to see this as black and white as we do.”

“Of course. But we still need to figure out a new plan.”

“Agreed. Any ideas?”

“More coffee?”

He smiled. “I can do that.”

But before the pot had finished brewing, Kaley came back downstairs. She still didn’t look happy and possibly like she’d been crying a little. “I’ll help.”

Cole looked at her hard. “I’m happy to hear that, but what changed?”

Kaley stared toward the backyard. “I Facetimed Mom. She asked me about the feather again right away. When I asked her to tell me more about the amulet, her aura went all gray and hazy.”

Pandora shook her head. “I don’t know what that means.”

Kaley shifted to stare at the table, her lower lids rimmed with liquid. “It means she was lying. Big time lying.”

She sniffed. “Tell me again what happens if she gets the right feather and does this spell you think she’s going to try?”

“Miss Williams thinks she’ll force me to bond with her.” Cole came and stood next to Kaley. “And I don’t want to be enslaved to her for the rest of my life. Or be separated from Miss Williams, either.”

Kaley rubbed at her nose. “Both those options are pretty crappy.”

“They are,” Pandora agreed. “And I can pretty much guarantee that if your mom casts this spell, the next thing that’s going to happen is you and your father will be moving out of Nocturne Falls. There’s no way your mother will stay here where so many people will know what she’s done.”

“Is that true, Dad? We wouldn’t be able to stay here? Even if we wanted to?”

“I think so.” Cole looked at Pandora.

She shook her head. “If a bonded familiar isn’t near the witch he’s bonded to, it can cause him incredible pain and mental distress.”

Kaley took a deep breath. “I don’t want to move. I don’t want you and my dad not to be together either. And I definitely don’t want my dad in pain.” A wobbly half-smile curved her mouth. “I like you, Miss Williams. My mom is…my mom, but you’re a really nice person and a very cool witch.”

“Thank you, Kaley. I like you a lot, too.”

A single glossy tear tracked down Kaley’s cheek. “I’d rather be like you than like my mother. I’m not a kid anymore. I know she’s not a good person. It just hurts, you know?”

Pandora’s heart broke for the girl. She reached out and grabbed Kaley’s hand. “Oh, honey, I know it does. My dad wasn’t so hot either.”

Kaley let out a shuddering breath. “Do you promise my mom won’t get hurt?”

“I promise to do my best to prevent that, but if she tries to hurt your dad, I’m going to protect him first. Can you understand that?”

Kaley nodded and sighed. “Yeah, I understand. Just tell me what to do.”

One text from Kaley. I found a feather. That’s all it had taken for Lila to show up again, looking to spend time with her daughter. They’d gone to get ice cream, during which Kaley had turned over the substitute feather as planned.

Now, a day later, Kaley was at Pandora’s for safe keeping. She’d sent Lila a text saying she couldn’t hang out because she was doing witch stuff with Pandora until eight o’clock.

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