Tuesday, April 29, 2014


      Five minutes later, he followed Bekka into the dimness of backstage and took his usual chair tucked into the corner by the director's booth, where they could talk. After a few moments of being flustered, she had been business-like and professional. He approved of the fact that she put her opening night duties ahead of making a good impression on her agent -- which just meant she made a very good impression. Bekka explained her duties as assistant to the director as she checked off the items on her clipboard. He spotted Steve darting around on the catwalk with two other stage technicians, checking cable connections, and kept an eye on him as he and Bekka talked. Winters was relieved, however, when a small crisis at the prop table on the other side of the stage drew Bekka away. He got up and headed over to the ladder Steve would have to climb down. He didn't have long to wait, and held his peace until his target had both feet on the ground.
      "Steven." Winters didn't bother hiding his smirk when his words, coming out of the shadows, made Steve jump about five inches. The young man stared, then looked around, gesturing Winters to silence. He gestured with a tip of his head and walked to the Green Room, and Steve followed him. They went out the front door, so they could have some relative privacy.
      "Are you going to tell my father?" Steve asked.
      "Hmm, no questions about what I'm doing here, or why I'm here. Did you think I came looking for you?"
      "That'd be kind of arrogant, wouldn't it?" He managed a crooked smile. "I'm guessing you're a friend of the family." He put extra emphasis on the last word, and something clutched at Winters' heart.
      Did he know the truth? Carlo had given no indication that he knew his oldest son was here, spying on Max and her family.
      "Why are you here?" Winters asked, and didn't care about the weary tone of his voice.
      "Checking out suspicions. Looking after people." He wrapped his arms around himself, then leaned back against the house. "I remember Miss Emily from when I was a kid. I really liked her. I blamed her when Dad went to France and didn't take me with him."
      That childhood connection had never occurred to Winters. He guessed that he had forgotten Steve ever knew Emily.
      "Why are you here? Did your father send you?"
      "Dad thinks I'm working on an indy film out where there's no cell phone access."
      "Which brings me back to my first question."
      "Is Max my sister?" Steve whispered, without looking Winters in the eyes.
      "You'll have to ask Emily." He mimicked Steve's pose. "What are you doing here, Steven? Besides using your mother's maiden name?"
      "Helping out where I'm needed right now. Don't worry." He managed a sigh of laughter. "I won't cause trouble. These are nice people. I like them a lot."
      "Is that your way of asking me not to tell your father what you're doing?"
      "They don't need any more problems right now."
      "That's true." Winters closed his eyes, wishing he had arrived earlier, so he could have taken a hotel room. No, scratch that -- so he could have visited Emily and Joel. He would have to do that tomorrow before he headed home. "Okay, here's the deal. I'll hold my peace and trust you to look after everybody here and report to me if there's even a hint of trouble. Got me?"

      "Just like they were my own family." Steve held out his hand to shake and seal the deal. His expression was deathly serious.

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