Max, Rose, Joe and Jeremy went to the hospital together around noon to report to Joel on opening night.
"I admit, I had a white-knuckle grip on my blankets, wondering how it was going. Then I figured if I didn't hear from you, everything was fine. You'd only call for an emergency," Joel said, chuckling. "The reviews in the papers were all great. I'm proud of you, Max."
"Thanks, Dad." She shrugged, feeling that mix of relief and delight and guilt she always got when something she had thought would be a disaster went well. "I had a lot of help." She braced herself to turn to Rose. "If you weren't there, I don't know what I would have done half the time."
"Oh, you would have done just fine," Rose said, shaking her head, her cheeks pink.
"Uh huh," Joel murmured. His grin grew wider. "Well, not that I have any doubt about your ability to handle things, but I think I should get home as soon as possible."
"That'd be great," Max said, perching on the end of the bed. "How?"
"All the arrangements have been made." He leaned back against his pillows with a grin. "Ambulance is waiting, plus all the gear I need to make life livable until I get out of this thing." He slapped at his cast. "If you don't mind me sitting around backstage for the next few nights."
"You're kidding -- you're not kidding, are you, Dad?" Joe blurted, dropping the tangled mess he had made of the string trick he was always practicing.
"Nope." He looked around at his stunned family. "I'm allowed to come home, I hope."
"Sure -- but everything's kind of a mess," Max began.
"When isn't the house a mess?"
"How do we get you up and down the stairs in that cast?" Rose asked.
"I'll stay downstairs. The parole agreement includes a hospital bed and wheelchair."
"Tony's staying downstairs," Max said. "It's crowded with everything else going on backstage. With two of you? Sardines!"
"Give him your mother's and my room."
"But Dad--" She decided to give up before she sounded any more helpless. It was what she had been praying for, wasn't it?