“We did it!” Carrie threw her arms around Dean to hug him hard. “They loved it!”
“Well of course they did. Look who was playing Morgan la Fey.” He hugged her back before turning her over to Jim, who was watching in amusement.
The opening night party was in full swing, albeit much more subdued than most such festivities were wont to be. The pall of Angela’s death, and how she died, hung over the room despite the music and the fact that the drinks and food were free.
Feeling a bit out of his element, Dean found a secluded corner where he could watch without most of the others even realizing he was there. It was a private room in one of the better clubs in the city, set up buffet style with a bar at one end. The cast and crew mingled with the patrons of the theater. From what Dean could see of him, Frank seemed to be right in his element, talking to one or another of the backers, accepting congratulations as if they were his due, then turning his attention to Tayla when she approached him.
Mrs Nester also watched from her spot at a table at one side of the room. She looked lonely, and alone, and not happy about either. Thinking this was the perfect time, Dean walked over to sit down beside her.
She smiled, saying, “So you did decide to come. Frank thought perhaps you wouldn’t.”
“Well it’s not really my thing, but…” Dean smiled back, shrugging. “He looks like he’s having a great time though.”
“He always does. He loves this kind of gathering. It’s the one time he can let down his guard and be a person, not the owner and director.” She frowned slightly and Dean saw she was staring at her husband. Frank seemed to be listening with apparent amusement to something Tayla was telling him, his arm around her shoulders as he leaned in to hear her over the music and voices around them.
“For someone who stepped in just a few days before we opened, Tayla did an excellent job playing Guinevere,” Dean commented. “Maybe even better than Angela would have.”
“Much better, I agree. The only reason she didn’t get the part in the first place was…” Mrs. Nester bit her lip then picked up her glass, half emptying it with one swallow. “Your sister did a wonderful job as well. Actually everyone did when it comes down to it.”
“I’ll have to tell Carrie you said that.” Dean leaned back, sipping his wine while he watched the goings-on. He noticed Frank had now moved over to the bar with Tayla beside him. And he knew, from the distraught look which flashed momentarily across her face, that Mrs Nester was well aware of the fact, too. “He’s just enjoying himself,” he told her quietly, so no one would overhear.
She turned to glare at him then smiled tightly. “I know. At least tonight he won’t have to take his pills to get to sleep.”
Dean nodded. “Sometimes after a long day’s work, especially right at the end before opening, we could all use some of those I think. It’s probably why a lot of the guys head to a bar after rehearsals are over, to unwind so they can sleep.”
“Frank does that too, now and then. Or so he says.” As if realizing she’d said more than she should have, she took gulp of her drink, emptying the glass. With a slight smile she held it out to Dean. “Would you be a dear and get me another?”
“Of course.” He took it, asked what she was drinking, and then went to get her a refill. As he came back to the table he saw her scowling. Once again she was watching as her husband talked to Tayla. He’s being a real son of a bitch. Either that or he’s had way too much to drink already. If he’s not careful, Beth’s going to make a scene. He sat down, handing Mrs. Nester her drink.