Today's Reading

"Explain," Bonnie ordered, pulse racing. What was Cassie up to?

"I'll see to those drinks, aye?" Logan excused himself, not at all subtle about being grateful for the opportunity to escape.

"Cassie," Bonnie warned, "spill."

"Well, one of the people I interviewed for the next segment of Coming Out of the Book Closet is a faculty member at Cambridge."

"Cambridge University, as in the UK?"

"Uh, yeah. And we got to talking and . . ." Cassie paused, attention drifting past Bonnie to scan the room.

"And?" Bonnie prompted.

"And she wants you to teach a seminar."

"What?"

"Six weeks." Cassie started to tap her chin but stopped, cringing at her bloody finger. "Or maybe eight, I can't remember."

"Here? In the city?"

Cassie shook her head. "In England. Some kind of Shakespeare intensive the university runs every summer. One of this year's guest instructors had to cancel, and they're on the hunt for a replacement. Of course, I thought of you. I told her about the adaptation you did of that fairy play a few years ago, and she loved it. Said she couldn't wait to meet you."

"She did?" Bonnie's head felt fuzzy. "What's the catch?"

"No catch."

Cassie tugged on her arm. "There they are. Come on, just talk to her, okay?"

Before Bonnie could protest further, Cassie had dragged her across the room to where a short, stout Julius Caesar stood next to a statuesque Cleopatra, his crown of laurel leaves barely reaching her toga-clad bosom.

"Cassie Crow!" Cleopatra exclaimed in a throaty, cultured voice. "Please tell me your lovely companion is the talented lady I've heard so much about."

"Barbara." Cassie returned the hug, careful not to let her stained fingers mar the woman's white gown. "I'd like you to meet Bonnie Blythe."

"A pleasure." Cleopatra clasped Bonnie's hand. "Delighted to make your acquaintance, my dear."

Her smile was regal yet warm, and Bonnie relaxed, instantly drawn to the woman.

"Has Cassie mentioned the summer seminar to you?"

Bonnie's moment of calm collapsed. "Ah, briefly." Very briefly. She swallowed, wondering where Logan was with that third drink.

Cleopatra continued the introductions, turning toward the man at her side. "Philip, this is Cassie Crow, the young lady from the telly studio, and her friend Bonnie Blythe." Cleopatra—Barbara—paused for the man to greet them. As he bent forward to kiss Cassie's and Bonnie's hands, she told them, "Professor Newton is a fellow academic director."

"You'll be joining our merry little band this summer, eh?" the professor asked, adjusting his laurel wreath, which had slipped down his forehead, snagging on a pair of bushy brows.

"To be honest, sir," Bonnie hedged, checking to make sure her own floral crown was still in place as she tried not to stare at the man's eyebrows, which hovered above his sharp, bright eyes, quivering like a pair of restless ferrets.

"Please, call me Philip."

"Philip," Bonnie obliged before continuing, "I don't know if I'm qualified for Cambridge." She was only an associate professor who directed the occasional theatre production at a small liberal arts college. She had her master's, yes . . . but this was Cambridge.

"Oh, pish-posh." He waved his hand dismissively. "We have all the stodgy old scholars like myself we could possibly need."

"And if it makes you feel better," Barbara added, "this isn't the university precisely. It's Ice."

"Nice?" Bonnie repeated.

"ICE," Philip corrected. "Institute of Continuing Education. An international outreach program." His eyes widened with excitement, making the ferrets jump. "We want—we need—fresh blood."

"Please, Philip, you make us sound like a troupe of vampires." Barbara shook her head, black bob wig swinging, full ruby mouth pursed in repressed amusement. "What he means to say is, the summer program is a chance to explore new ideas." She laid a jeweled hand on Bonnie's arm. "We want people who've proven they can think outside the box."

"Oh, that's definitely Bonnie." Cassie beamed at her with pride.
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