Page 16

Don raps the tabletop with his knuckles. “Let’s give him a quick call.”

At this, I stand to leave, but Robert gestures for me to sit back down. I can’t tell whether he agrees that my leaving would be disruptive or he wants me to be able to enjoy this moment, but it’s clearly only awkward for me at this point. I don’t even have a notebook to pretend like I’m here writing down meeting minutes.

Robert reads out Calvin’s cell phone number, and Michael types it into the phone sitting in the middle of the table. It rings twice, and my heart is absolutely lodged in my throat.

His voice comes through—scratchy and deep—as if he’s been sleeping. “?’lo?”

“Calvin, hi. Michael Asteroff. I’m here with Robert Okai and the Law brothers.”

“Oh. Hi.” There’s some shuffling in the background, and although he left here only an hour ago, my pervy brain imagines him shirtless, sitting up in bed, the sheets falling to his hips.

Hopefully he’s alone.

“Great work today,” Michael says. “Truly superb.”

Calvin pauses, and when he speaks, his voice shakes. “Thank you, sir.”

“Look,” Michael begins, “we’re wondering what your schedule looks like for the next several months.”

“My schedule?”

“More specifically, we’re wondering whether we could interest you in a place in the orchestra here. With It Possessed Him.”

The question is met with blistering silence.

Robert leans in toward the speakerphone. “We’d like you to take over Seth’s parts.”


Everyone but me laughs at this.

“Yeah.” Michael grins. “Honestly.”

“Aye, I’m flattered. I . . .” A pause. “I’m dyin’ to say yes.”

“So say yes!” Richard sings.

On the other end of the line, Calvin growls. “It’s just that, ah . . .”

And, in this instant, I know.

I know.

I know.

I know why he’s hesitating, because it’s got to be the same reason he didn’t want to get too involved with the police the night of my accident.

“I’m not exactly here legally, y’see.”

The table falls silent. Michael and Robert look at each other, and Robert blows out a slow breath.

“I was here on a student visa, and ah, it expired, yeah? I couldn’t find it in me to leave. This here, what you’re offerin’, it’s my dream.”

“How long ago did it expire?” Michael asks, nodding at Robert like this might work. “Can we work on an extension, using this as an internship?”

Calvin pauses again, and I think I hear a dry laugh through the line. “It’d be four years now.”

Robert groans, leaning back in his chair. It’s not uncommon for foreigners to join the cast—it happens all the time. And artist visas are a dime a dozen in New York. But Jeff’s best friend from grade school works in immigration, and I know from overhearing Jeff and Robert discuss other artists in the past that getting leniency for people who’ve been here for six months illegally is hard . . . so four years?

When no one replies, another laugh—this one decidedly sad—comes through the line. “But I sure do appreciate the offer.”


Michael hits the disconnect button and leans back, pressing the heels of his hands to his eyes. “Well, that’s all right. We didn’t even know about him until this morning. We should continue with violin auditions immediately.”

The words are met with silence, and the Law brothers exchange a dubious look. I can tell that Robert and I aren’t the only ones who are already invested in Calvin.

“There’s got to be a way around this,” Don says. “Some string to be pulled.”

“Four years is a long time.” Robert’s voice is quiet and he meets my eyes, grimacing. “I’m not sure even with the connections we have that we can work around that.”

“Jesus Christ.” Brian bursts from his tiny chair, dropping his fists onto the table. “The answer is obvious, isn’t it? Just have Holland marry the guy. They’ve been dating for months in her head, anyway. Two birds, one stone.”

I let out a garbled sound of shock and immediately feel the way everyone turns to look at me.

Everyone except Robert, who slowly lowers his glasses down his nose, fixing a dark gaze on my boss. “Brian. If you’re not going to be helpful, please feel free to step out.”

Brian leans back in his seat, grinning snidely at me before looking to Robert. “If this is as dire as you say, if”—he sweeps his hands dramatically—“you are unable to find a suitable musician in all of New York City, then let us consider how every department can step up to help you hire your subway busker. I think we should hear what Holland thinks about the idea.”

Robert doesn’t give me a chance to reply—not that I’d have the faintest idea what to say. “Your tone is quickly passing insulting and moving into shocking territory.” The room has gone still, each set of eyes following the conversation as if it is a tennis match. “I am not only the composer and musical director of this production, but I am also Holland’s uncle. I’ll suggest you tread carefully here.”

Tip: You can use left and right keyboard keys to browse between pages.