The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 71

He nodded. “I guess everyone in town knows her, huh?”

“Yes, but she’s also a really good friend of mine. Her cat and my cat are brother and sister.”


“Yep. Jasper’s back there in my office right now.”

“Is he also…” Cole puffed his cheeks up.

“Fat? No. Jasper’s a lean, mean, sleeping machine.” She laughed and offered her hand. “I’m Willa Iscove. You must be Cole.”

He shook her hand. “If you know who I am, that must mean Pandora’s mentioned me. I hope it was good.”

Willa’s smile kinked. “Yes and no. No at first, yes lately.”

“Yeah, I had some things to learn.”

“She mentioned some of that.” Willa leaned in. “Are you looking for an engagement ring for her?”

He hesitated. “Not yet. But I can see that day coming.”

Willa clasped her hands in front of her. “That’s awesome. She’s the best. She deserves to be happy.”

“I agree.” He looked at the rings one last time. “I wouldn’t mind getting her a little present, though. I’m meeting her for lunch in a bit. Any ideas?”

“Come with me.”

He followed her to a new case.

She pulled out a sterling silver pendant in the shape of an antique key decorated with little vines. It hung from a delicate chain. “Considering that she’s a realtor, I thought this could be appropriate. Could also be the key to your heart.” She held it out. “What do you think?”

Seeing that the Pilcher Manor was also part of their story, he loved it. “It’s perfect. How much? And do you gift wrap?”

“I’ll give you the friends and family discount since this is for Pandy. And I’d be happy to wrap it for you. So long as you promise to come back to me when it’s time to do some ring shopping.”

He pulled out his credit card. “Deal.”

She took the card and the pendant. “Be right back.”

A few minutes later, she handed him his card with his receipt and the wrapped box. “We should all go out to dinner sometime, you and Pandora and me and my fiancé, Nick.”

“Sounds great. I’ll tell her. Thanks again.” He tucked the gift in his jacket pocket and headed back to Mummy’s. He couldn’t wait to see Pandora’s face when she opened it.

Mummy’s was busy, but he put his name in for a table and sat on one of the benches outside. It was a great Southern fall day. Crisp enough to wear a light jacket, but the air held no bite. He tipped his face into the sun and let his mind wander back to his favorite subject. Pandora.

What would it be like to be married to her?

Nothing like life with Lila, that was for sure.

But that thought took him down a different path. He was unhappy that things with Lila were still unsettled. He understood that she wanted time with Kaley, but whatever else was going on needed to be dealt with. Maybe she wasn’t planning anything nefarious, but the not knowing was like waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Could he force the issue? Somehow push her into making a move? At least that way, he and Pandora would know what was going on. He got his phone out and sent Lila a text, crafting it so that she’d answer right away. He knew her well enough to know what buttons to push.

Thought about what you had to say and you were right. We should talk about our future.

If that didn’t get an instant response, something was wrong.

Ten minutes later, with the no response, he had the sour feeling that there really was something wrong.

Then his phone rang. But it was Kaley. A jolt of panic shot through him. “Everything okay, sweetheart?”

“No, not really.” Her voice was hushed and he realized she probably wasn’t supposed to be on her phone at school. “Dad, I can’t find the feather.”

“I thought you gave it to your mom?”

“I did. I can’t find the real one.”

Oh. Crap. “Where was it?”

“My backpack. And now it’s not there.”

Was it possible Lila has sensed something was off with the substitute feather? Could she have riffled through Kaley’s backpack and found the real one when they’d been out for ice cream? This was not good. But he also didn’t want Kaley panicking when there was nothing she could do about it. “I’m sure it’s no big deal. Don’t worry about it, okay?”

“You’re sure? I’m worried. What if Mom has it?”

“Yes, I’m sure. It’s probably still in your backpack somewhere. Get back to class. It’s fine.”

She sighed. “I’m totally sorry.”

“I know, but it’s no big deal. Love you.”

“Love you. Bye.”

“Bye.” He hung up and shot Pandora a fast text about the feather. Hopefully they could figure this out, but better she know now in case there was something she could do about it. He tucked the phone in his pocket and went back to waiting. He wanted to see Pandora more than ever now. Just being around her made everything better.

The hostess came out and yelled, “Cole, party of two.”

He stood up and looked around. No Pandora yet. He waved to get the hostess’s attention. “Move me back on the list, my date’s not here yet.”

She nodded and went back inside.

He checked the time. Twelve thirty-two. And no sign of Pandora.

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