[Two years later]
Barbara slid her key into the lock. They had dinner reservations at seven, and she’d been at the shop much of the afternoon, preparing samples for her upcoming seminar on modern book collecting and market valuing of rare materials. Then she’d gotten a call from a buyer and the University of Copenhagen.
She only hoped Tobias’ office hours had gone long—or he’d gotten stuck in a department meeting. As it turned out, the witch who was no longer spoken of had merely made public what Professor Tesarik was up to. Tobias had stepped into a faculty position as acting head of conservation and spent much of his first year cleaning up the mess Tesarik had made to hide his tracks.
At a crash from within the apartment, she threw open the door and charged down the hall, prepared to stop another attempted murder.
As much as they loved Vinohrady, the decision to move to the larger space in the Vogel building with river view and proximity to the park was an easy one to make. And it made her studies with Beryl much easier. The plans for wall-to-wall built-in bookshelves that had been a wedding present from Mark and Chris sealed the deal. Until the shelves were ready, she and Tobias lived in the attic apartment in Veronika’s building, and Hemingway lived in the shop below.
For a time, it forestalled the issue of how to keep a cat and a werewolf under the same roof.
When they moved to Vysehrad, Hemingway’s terror had given way to an almost pathological desire to slay Tobias.
Barbara had anticipated spending the year preparing to defend her dissertation, not keeping the cat from killing her husband. She thought they’d reached a truce — live and let live would have sufficed— but at the latest crash, she assumed there had been another attempt on his life and raced inside.
Barbara rounded the corner to find the cat dangling from the jaws of an oversized grey wolf. The chairs were askew, the lamp on the floor. She screamed, and Tobias promptly dropped the cat.
Hemingway landed on her feet, spun, and launched herself at his face, her tail whipping. He flatted her on the floor with one big paw, and his tongue lolled, panting. She kicked half-heartedly with her hind feet but rubbed her whiskers against his pads, and Barbara could hear purring from across the room.
The air around him shuddered, and Tobias jumped to his feet, looking as guilty as a puppy caught chewing shoes. “Hey, Dr. Svobodová.”
She raised a brow. “Professor Vogel?”
When he bent to pick up the lamp and retrieve his glasses, Hemingway leaped and leaving him to catch her or be clawed to scraps. She used the crook of his arm as a midpoint before draping herself across his broad shoulders like a living stole. He pushed his glasses up his nose and ignored having his hair groomed in the opposite direction over one ear.
Barbara bit down on the laugh bubbling up under her breastbone. “Dinner?”
He caught himself before a shrug dislodged the cat. Hemingway batted his ear anyway, and he winced at the touch of claws.
“Figured you were going to be late, so I canceled the reservation and ordered Chinese. Should be here any—” The buzzer rang. “—minute.”
The appearance of his dimple of turned her thoughts into the lazy buzzing of so many honey bees on a warm summer day.
She eyed him, naked save for a cat, glasses, and strategically placed lamp. “I supposed I should get that. Don’t you move. Not a muscle.”
Life was going to get very interesting. She was looking forward to every minute.
© No Inside Voice, LLC
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