Thiang entered the room with her head held high despite her nerves. She was determined that no one would see her uncertainty. One person was already seated at the tables arranged around the room: a handsome woman with golden brown skin and sleek dark brown hair. When she looked up at Thiang's entrance, blue eyes met Thiang's brown ones. After a moment of surprise, a smile lit the other woman's face. "Thiang! This is a pleasant surprise!"
"Anna!" Smiling, Thiang gladly hugged her old friend when Anna hurried around the tables to hug her. "I didn't expect to see you here."
Anna's smile dimmed a little and she led Thiang over to sit beside her. "I did retire from acting, since I'd met Tom."
"What happened?" Thiang asked gently when Anna fell silent.
Sighing deeply, Anna told her, "He died in a car accident."
"I'm very sorry to hear that," Thiang told her, covering Anna's hand with one of hers. "You two were very happy together, from what I remember."
Anna nodded, blinking quickly. "Yes, we were. Losing him was devastating."
"I know what you mean." Thiang nodded, thinking of her own marriage.
"Mongkut hasn't died, has he?" Anna asked, looking at Thiang with sincere concern.
She shook her head. "No, he's still alive. We've been divorced now for longer than we were married. It's better for both of us. You know he never liked my acting."
"Maybe you should have married Tom," Anna told her with a laugh. "Even before the accident, he encouraged me to go back to acting."
Thiang shrugged. "I have Chulalongkorn and my acting. I'm happy."
"Your son?" Anna asked. When Thiang nodded, Anna continued, "I have a daughter and son: Avis and Louis. They're really why I'm acting again. I want to be sure I have enough money to pay for their college educations."
Thiang raised her eyebrows curiously. Mongkut had set up a trust fund for his son when they divorced and part of it was meant to pay for college or vocational training, whichever Chulalongkorn preferred. "They should be able to get scholarships once they're old enough."
"I know, but if I can assure that they won't need a scholarship, it can go to someone else who can't pay for college any other way." Anna met Thiang's eyes with an earnest expression.
She nodded, understanding now why Anna would choose to do this. "Of course. That's very noble and kind of you to do."
Anna blushed, but the door opened to admit a group of people, some of whom Thiang and/or Anna recognized and others neither of them did. The table read went better than Thiang had hoped. No one objected when she was introduced as the leading lady for the movie. Surprisingly, Anna was playing the best friend to Thiang's character. She knew of the leading man, Edward, but hadn't worked with him before. He seemed nice enough and Anna knew him. After the table read, Anna caught Thiang's attention as she prepared to leave. "Thiang, do you have any plans for lunch?"
"Not yet," she replied with a small, amused smile.
Smiling in return, Anna asked, "Would you like to have lunch with me?"
"I'd love to, Anna," Thiang answered, pleased that her guess about why Anna had asked was correct. "Do you have somewhere in mind?"
Anna grinned. "Yes, but it's a surprise."
"I trust you," Thiang told her as they left the office building together.
Anna offered her arm to Thiang. "I'm touched."
"We've known each other long enough that it's not in doubt." Thiang looped her arm through Anna's.
"A good point." Anna chuckled as they walked.
Thiang smiled happily as they walked along. She hadn't expected to run into an old school friend when she'd gotten the role, but it was a bonus as far as she was concerned. Too bad I can't tell her that I wished I'd married her instead of Mongkut or Tom.