Today's Reading

Holly moves to the table and Lauren follows, still chatting. A folder filled with mock-ups of Pixie Dust ad campaigns rests at each place. Each folder is topped by a tiny pink glass bottle of the powder that glitters in the light. One bottle is slightly off-center, and Holly frowns until the marketing director hurriedly adjusts it.

“Adorable!” Lauren says. “This is going to fly off the shelves.”

Barry gives Holly a triumphant look, but she’s not ready to celebrate quite yet. She taps a finger against her folder, and Barry gets the hint. “Let’s take a look at the terms,” he says, opening his up.

“Oh, but before we get into that, I want to see,” says Lauren. She cracks open the glass bottle, sniffs. “Smells like... lemon. No, sarsaparilla. No, that’s not it. But it’s... something effervescent. Am I right?” 

Holly’s staff freezes. Holly’s known for her strict adherence to the agenda, and she’s been known to explode when someone goes off schedule. Even Barry’s giving her the side-eye, but Holly surprises them all.

“Think of it as... the scent of springtime,” she says, shrugging almost imperceptibly toward Barry. For the amount of money on the line, she can afford to play nice.

“I like that. How does it work?” Lauren asks, tapping a tiny bit into her hand. 

Holly nods at the marketing director, who cues the video. A wide shot pans to a beautiful young girl by the banks of a frozen lake. Ice covers the ground. A glass bottle floats through the night sky. The girl catches the bottle, opens it, and blows the contents into the air. As the golden powder swirls above her, her face brightens, as if lit from within by stars. She turns to the camera, radiant.

“All you need is faith, trust, and a little Pixie Dust,” a man’s voice intones. The screen fades to black.

“Oooh,” Lauren breathes. She tilts her head up, blows the dust in her palm into the air, closes her eyes as it settles on her face. “It feels... tingly.” She turns to the man next to her. “How does it look?” 

The man inspects her face as if he’s looking at a spreadsheet. The powder has disappeared, but there’s a slight sheen to Lauren’s skin, a radiance that wasn’t there before. Her skin looks taut and even. “It’s subtle, but there’s a definite glow. It’s quite pretty. More to the point, it looks completely natural. Honestly, it’s like nothing we’ve seen out there.”

“Exactly.” Barry grins. “And you won’t find anything else like it, either.” 

“How does it work?”

“We use a proprietary blend of light-refracting pigments, combined with the best masking and camouflage agents in existence.”

“And it’s nontoxic?”

“Of course,” Barry says. “We at Darling Skin Care have been the leaders in that area for quite some time.” 

He points to the deputy marketing director, who produces a hand mirror emblazoned with a large D. Barry passes the mirror to Lauren, who stares into it.

“Wow,” she says. “Your guys are really, really good.”

“Thank you,” says Holly. She’s particularly practiced at keeping the edge from her voice on this one, but Lauren must catch a hint, because she stops looking in the mirror and glances over.

“Sorry,” she says, and has the grace to blush. “It’s hard to remember you’re a scientist on top of everything else.”

“It’s quite all right,” Holly says, although it’s not. This is one of the reasons she decided early on to partner with Barry—strictly in the business sense, after those first few nights—since even in this day and age there are some people who can’t seem to believe that a woman who looks like she does could also be a real, hands-on scientist. But Pixie Dust is every bit Holly’s baby, in more ways than one.

“Well,” says Barry. “If you’ll look in the folders in front of you, you’ll find a standard—” 

There’s a knock on the door, and Holly’s assistant pokes her head in. “Dr. Darling, I am so sorry to interrupt, but I need you for a minute.” 

Holly makes an effort not to scowl. She has a habit of running through assistants, and this one is so new Holly’s struggling to remember her name. “Can it wait?” 

The assistant shakes her head. “I’m afraid not.”

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...