The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 74

“Good. Tired. Wore myself out holding a freeze spell for longer than I thought possible.” She yawned. “Wow. Really tired.”

Corette took Pandora’s hand and patted the back of it. “It’s a testimony to how powerful a witch you really are that you were able to hold that spell at all when your gifts have gone unpracticed all these years. You’ll probably feel drained for a day or two, but this is a good start to regaining your power.”

“So a couple days of rest are all she needs?” Cole asked.

“Yes.” Corette put her hand on Cole’s arm. “Take her home. I’ll keep you posted on how things go.”

He hesitated. “I feel like I should stay with you until the sheriff gets here.”

“Take my daughter home. I’ll be fine.” She shook her head at Lila. “That one’s not going to be causing anyone any more trouble for a long time. Stanhill and I will take care of bringing Pandora’s car back.”

The mention of Stanhill reminded Cole that he was supposed to talk to the man about getting in to see the Ellinghams about work, but there’d be time for that later. “I’ll need her keys to get into her house. Do you have a set of her car keys?”

Corette smiled knowingly. “I don’t need keys to start a car.”

He snorted. “I guess you don’t. See you later. And thank you.”

“Thank you for taking care of my daughter.”

Cole got Pandora into his truck and belted in, then drove through town to Pandora’s house. By the time they arrived, she was out cold. He found her keys in her purse and opened the house. Pumpkin greeted him with a loud meow and a head butt to the leg. “I’ll feed you as soon as I get your mother into bed.”

He brought Pandora in and laid her on her bed. Her shoes came off easily, but her suit jacket took a little more work. He drew the quilt over her, then pulled the shades to darken the room, finally closing the door most of the way.

Pumpkin meowed endlessly as he walked into the kitchen. “Okay, I get it, you’re hungry.” He dug around until he found a can of food and a plate.

Pumpkin fell on the food like she was starving. He shook his head and checked the time. Kaley would be out of school soon. He didn’t want to leave Pandora, but he didn’t have a choice. And Lila was being handled. He scrawled a quick note and put it on Pandora’s nightstand in case she awoke, then jumped in his truck to go pick Kaley up.

When they got back to Pandora’s, she was still sleeping.

Kaley peered in through the cracked bedroom door and whispered, “Is she going to be okay, Dad?”

“She’s going to be fine.” He put his hand on Kaley’s shoulder. “You want a snack? I’m sure she won’t mind us rooting through her kitchen for edibles.”

Kaley shrugged. “Sure.”

“Okay, come on.” He shut the door and gave Kaley a squeeze. He knew she was upset. She’d been in a funk since he’d explained what had happened on the ride back to Pandora’s. “Hey, I know you think this is your fault. It isn’t.”

“I’m the one who let Lila have the real feather.”

“We don’t know that. And you didn’t let her have it. If she got the real one, it was because she went through your stuff.”

“I guess.” Kaley took a seat at the kitchen counter while Cole rummaged through the fridge and cabinets. She sighed a few times, then finally spoke. “I don’t want to see Lila anymore.”

Cole turned, a box of mac and cheese in his hand. “Because of what she did?”

“Yes, that. But everything else too. She would have hurt Miss Williams. And you.” Kaley picked at her fingernail polish, frowning. “She’s not a good person. And she’s not a good mother.”

“You’re sure about this?” Cole thought he’d be happier about the decision, but he hurt for Kaley. Realizing the unsavory truth about a parent was a scar she was going to carry the rest of her life.

Kaley nodded.

“Okay.” A moment of silence passed between them. He broke it by rattling the box of pasta. “Mac and cheese?”

“Sure.” She put her earbuds in and tuned out.

He said a silent thanks to Pandora for stocking the kid-friendly staple. He dug around some more for the tools to make it with, then got cooking.

As he dumped the pasta into boiling water, Kaley pulled her earbuds out. “Are you going to marry Miss Williams?”

He was glad he was faced away from her. He blinked hard. “Um—”

“Because I’d be okay with it if you did.”

He smiled as he gave the pasta a stir. “Thank you for that.” He turned. “Any other thoughts on the subject?”

“If she makes you happy, you should marry her. You’ve been alone a long time.”

“I haven’t been alone. I’ve had my Kaley-did.”

She made a face like she was tolerating the endearment. “You know what I mean. I know boys have needs.”

No chance to hide his face this time. “Needs? What exactly are they teaching you in that school?”

“Dad, I’m not a baby. I know about kissing and sex. I’ll probably be getting my period like any day.”

He groaned and covered his face with his hand. “I wish you were four again. Four was a good age.”

She laughed. “Yeah, well, I’m not.”

He looked up. “Have you kissed a boy?”

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