Cassandra Dahlgren smiled up at her classmate and shook her head. “No, Tom!” she said again. “I need to study for the literature exam tomorrow.”
He smiled. “Sausage and pepper pizza, the best in the Big Apple, Cass—and karaoke.”
Cass winced. “You know I have perfect pitch—karaoke clubs are a nightmare,” she shuddered.
“Not a karaoke club open to public—vocal arts students at Juilliard only, Cass,” he whispered as he leaned in close. Then he stood back a step and shook his head. “Don’t forget, Madame Dahlgren, you are supposed to be enjoying your freshman year as well as getting those excellent marks.”
She shook her head no again, but she smiled back at the sophomore. “I can’t; I really need to study tonight.”
“Okay . . . our loss is literature’s gain,” he said and then he trotted down the marble steps, before he stopped and turned around. “Lunch tomorrow?” he asked.
“That I can do,” Cass said with a grin.
The two waved goodbye, and Cass lifted her bag back to her shoulder and started walking down the sidewalk. She shivered against the cold wind and pulled her coat a little tighter across her body; the rehearsal had dragged on later than she thought and it was already growing dark on the streets. Luckily, her apartment was only a few blocks away.
She didn’t know exactly what triggered in her head, but something out of place alerted Cass a moment before the man lunged out of the alley-way towards her. But Cassandra Dahlgren was no mere freshman singer—she was the daughter of Matthew Dahlgren and had learned from an early age just how to defend herself.
She didn’t think, she just reacted—and her booted heel caught the assailant in the crotch, followed up by her elbow across his temple and a second kick to his ear as he sank to the ground. And then she turned to run . . . only to discover that her attacker had not been alone.
“Thought your daddy might have taught you some moves,” he said as he trained the hand phaser on her. Cass’s eyes grew wide and her second attacker smiled. “Don’t worry none, I’ll make it fast and painless,” he said as he began to move his thumb.
But at that exact moment, the third
man walking down the street moved forward like lightning and he grabbed the attacker at the junction of the shoulder and neck . . . and the thug collapsed to the sidewalk unconscious.
“Wh-wh-who are you?” Cassie whispered as she began to shiver from more than the cold, as the man patted down the thug and pocketed the hand phaser. Her savior lowered his hood and she could see the pointed Vulcan ears and close-cropped hair style favored by that race.
“I am Sepak of Vulcan, and I know your father, child. Come—it is not safe to linger here,” he ordered, extending a hand towards her.
“If my father sent you, then you know the phrase,” Cass said, backing up two steps and getting ready to run.
Sepak stood and he lowered his arm. “Now is the winter of our discontent, this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.”
Cass nodded. “Richard the Third and the Tempest—two quotes never put together by accident.”
“Come, Cassandra Dahlgren,” Sepak said quietly. “I fear there are more of them watching us. Can you run?”
“Can you keep up?”