Pocket Watch Witches Ep. 22


I walked Dimitri home by daylight this time. Part of me didn’t want to let him go. I knew he’d come back, but I’d grown accustomed to him so quickly. He fit into my house so well. The library got more use with him there. And he could use the workshop if he wanted. Plus, I loved holding him as we fell asleep together. I couldn’t ask him to stay, though. It was too soon. I didn’t regret telling him I loved him, but I still couldn’t quite quell the doubts about how he first said it. What if he’d said it as part of the scene, but when I said it back, he felt pressured to keep it up? 

“Cogton! Did you miss me?” Dimitri asked. His cat head-butted his legs repeatedly as we walked in. 

“I forgot all about him! He must be starving,” I said. Dimitri didn’t look upset or worried, though. 

“Nah, I cast a spell on his bowl. If I don’t feed him on time, it summons food for him,” he explained. “It took me days to figure out how to make it work. I still try to keep up the habit of doing it myself. Routine is important. But when I get really involved in my work, I lose track of time.” 

“Oh, that’s good,” I said. Cogton switched to head-butting my legs a few times and then alternated between the two of us. 

“I actually owe you thanks for that spell,” he told me. 

“What do you mean?” I asked. 

“It’s wild magic. I’m still not great with it, but I’ve been experimenting with it in my free time,” he answered. 

“Oh, I’m glad I could help then,” I said. It felt false. I’d never have thought to use my magic in that way. Dimitri had been practicing wild magic for a few weeks and already seemed to use it more creatively than I ever had. I wasn’t jealous; more worried. My magic helped spark his interest in me. Would he lose interest once he’d surpassed my abilities? 

“I owe you a lot of thanks,” Dimitri said, adopting a flirtatious tone. He stood on his tiptoes and pressed a quick kiss to my lips. 

“You don’t owe me anything, but I certainly won’t turn down any reason to kiss you,” I said, leaning down to kiss him back. I pulled away before either of us could deepen it. “I wish I didn’t have to go.” 

“Same,” he agreed, “but we both have work to catch up on.”

“When can I see you again?” I asked. 

“My schedule is pretty open since quitting Shaw’s Factory.” 

“How about tomorrow night?” I asked. 

“Sure, do you want to meet at your place?” he asked. 

“I’ll come to pick you up from here if that’s all right?” 

“Of course,” he agreed. 

We kissed one more time, and I left him to his enchanting. He still had a few watches to finish for Daniel. Though he’d been ahead of schedule, he’d missed some self-imposed deadlines while recovering. After all of Daniel’s talk of investing in Dimitri, I thought he’d give him an extension if the mugging put him too far behind. Dimitri didn’t seem the type for excuses or extensions, though. Especially since the money he’d get would bring him even closer to his goal of opening his watch shop. 

As I walked from Dimitri’s apartment toward Daniel’s warehouse, I lost some of my cheer. I’d been lighter on my feet these past few days away from work. I credited most of that to Dimitri, but some part of me didn’t look forward to arriving at the warehouse. What else could I do for money, though? My only valuable skills broke down to handyman, enforcer, and wild magic user. With Hugo gone, I didn’t have anyone to vouch for my experience in home maintenance. Even if I could find someone willing to pay for an off-the-books handyman, they’d never pay me as much as I earned working for Daniel. 

I headed straight for Daniel’s office when I arrived at the warehouse. “How is Dimitri?” 

“He’s fully recovered. I just came from walking him home,” I answered automatically. It left a twist in my gut, though. Reporting on Dimitri didn’t seem right after what we’d shared. 

“Excellent. I’m glad the two of you are getting so close,” Daniel said. “He’s an exceptional young man. It’s important that he has someone like you to look out for him.” 

“Yes, sir,” I agreed. I felt confident that Daniel’d guessed about my and Dimitri’s feelings for each other. I didn’t know how he planned to use that connection, but I knew he didn’t invest in resources he couldn’t use. 

“Well, we should get down to the day’s business,” Daniel said. 

“Yes, sir,” I repeated. 

“Someone has moved in on Cam’s former territory. I want you to find out who it is,” he ordered. 

“Would you like me to bring them in when I find them?” I asked. 

“Not yet. Information gathering only for now.” 

“Understood,” I said. 

“Very good. Thank you,” he said, dismissing me. 

I went to the first restaurant I caught Cam stopping at when I followed him. The frail man in the tattered suit shrank back when he opened the door and saw me. I didn’t mean to intimidate him. Considering Cam scared him, though, I should have predicted it. I had at least thirty extra pounds of muscle over my former co-worker. He had good reason to be afraid if someone took over the protection racket since Daniel dealt with Cam. For all he knew, I could be a thug sent by his new parasite. 

“I’m not here to hurt you,” I said. 

“Then what are you here for?” he asked, sounding tentative. 

“I heard that someone has moved in on Cam’s business. I came to find out who it is,” I told him.

“Is this some kind of test? I tell you something I shouldn’t and get punished or fined or something?” 

“No, sir. I’m responsible for Cam’s departure. If someone is harassing you in his place, I may be able to help,” I offered. 

“And then what? When this one goes, some other gangster moves in, or you take over?” 

“I’m not sure about that yet,” I admitted. I almost told him I had no interest in taking over, but if Daniel planned on expanding to include this area in his territory, he might have to deal with me again. 

“Come back when you have a plan or not at all,” he said and rushed back inside. I heard the door lock behind him. That was braver than I’d expected him to be. 

Thankfully, I’d seen several of Cam’s victims the night Daniel ordered me to follow him. If this man wouldn’t help me, I’d check the other businesses until I found someone who would. 

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