“That bad.” She pointed toward the living room. “Use the phone now if you want.”
“We should probably tell you what happened first.” Nick reached out and scratched Jasper’s head. “Glad you’re okay, buddy.”
Pandora’s eyes shone with curiosity. “Let’s go sit then. You want to stay for supper? I was just getting ready to eat. Nothing fancy. Tater tot casserole with ham and green beans.”
“It sounds like a feast. We just got home, and I don’t think we have any plans for dinner, do we?” Willa asked Nick. She was holding Jasper like a baby, and judging by his half-shut eyes, he seemed perfectly content to stay that way.
Nick shook his head. “Not unless ordering pizza was a plan.”
Willa smiled. “We’ll stay for dinner. Thank you so much.”
Nick nodded. “Yeah, that’s really nice of you. In fact, why don’t you two catch up and I’ll run out and grab a six-pack? Or a bottle of wine. Hell, I’ll get both.”
“Thanks,” Pandora said. “I have no idea if red or white goes with tater tot casserole, but I like Pinot Grigio.”
“Works for me.” Willa put Jasper on the floor then leaned up and kissed Nick on the cheek. “I miss you already,” she whispered.
He smiled. “I won’t be long.”
He drove straight to the Sheriff’s Department.
Merrow was walking out of his office as Nick came in. Merrow grunted. “You don’t answer your cell anymore?”
“We were kidnapped, and my cell was left behind on my front lawn.”
Merrow’s brows rose a fraction. He reached in and flipped the light back on in his office. “You better sit and tell me the rest.”
Nick spilled it out as quickly as he could. Merrow was a good listener, just nodding and making a few noises deep in his throat.
“And now we’re home,” Nick finished.
“Hell of a thing.”
“You can say that again.”
“And you’re both all right?”
Nick nodded. “We are. Tired mentally and physically, but nothing a few days of R&R won’t cure.”
“You want me to fill Julian in?”
“No, I’ll call him in the morning. See if I still have my job.”
“You do.” Merrow squared up a file on the side of his desk. “Queen, huh?”
Nick shook his head. “Yep.”
Merrow tapped his fingers on the desk. “You better go get Her Highness some wine then. Pretty sure you’re not supposed to keep royalty waiting.”
Pandora stared at Willa as she finished up the tale of what she and Nick had been through. “Are you serious?”
Willa nodded, trying not to laugh at her friend’s wide-eyed expression. “Can you believe it?”
“No, but yes.” Pandora pulled the casserole from the oven and set it on a hot pad in the middle of the kitchen table. Cheese bubbled on the top. “That’s crazy. Wow, you’re a queen!”
“Former. It’s not like I get to use the title or anything. Plus, I wouldn’t want to. It would be weird, right? Going around as Queen Willa? No, not for me. People might not want to buy from someone that snooty.” She groaned and put her hands on her head. “The shop! I should go by and see if it’s still standing.”
“It is. The brownies kept it open and running. And the door on your apartment has been replaced, too.”
“Really? Now I’m surprised. Maybe I should get kidnapped more often. Kidding!”
The doorbell rang. Pandora headed for it. “I hope that’s Nick. I could put a hurtin’ on some wine right now.”
“It’s Nick,” she called back. “And he’s got wine!”
“Great!” Willa got up and dug around until she found the corkscrew in one of the drawers. Pandora and Nick came in behind her.
Nick made hungry noises. “Smells great.” He put the six-pack in the fridge, but not before he grabbed a bottle for himself and twisted the cap off.
Willa took the wine from Pandora and uncorked it, filling the glasses Pandora took down from a cabinet. Then they all sat down to eat.
Pandora kept them busy answering questions about Rhoswynn and the challenge and what the coronation ceremony was like. When her questions ran out, Nick told them he’d stopped by to see Sheriff Merrow and filled him in on the kidnapping, too.
At last they pushed away from the table, full and happy, and in Willa’s case, the tiniest bit buzzed from the wine. “I hope you don’t mind if we eat and run, Pandy, but I just want to shower and go to bed.”
Pandora looked at Nick, then Willa, and winked. “Sure, I get it. I’d do the same thing if I were in your pajamas.”
“That’s not what I meant,” Willa said, feeling a little heat in her face. Actually, it kind of was what she’d meant.
Pandora laughed, and Nick grinned. “Go home,” she said. “I’m really happy you guys are okay.”
Nick stood. “We should at least help clean up.”
Pandora snorted softly. “You know I’m a witch, right?” She waved her hand, and the dishes floated off the table and into the sink. One of them crashed to the floor.
“Bother,” Pandora huffed. “I don’t know why I even attempt it anymore.” She got up. “Go. I’ve got this.”
“You’re sure?” Willa asked.