The men found Grandma, Tin-Tin, and Bekkah in the restaurant on the mezzanine of the hotel. Grandma and Tin-Tin were finishing up chef's salads, but Bekkah had only picked at hers. She lowered her eyes when Jeff and Brains approached the table. Brains sat down beside Bekkah and put his hand on hers. She allowed the touch, but would not meet his eyes.
"How is it with you, Bekkah?" he asked softly.
"Not good at all, Hiram. Not good at all," she answered, her voice shaky.
"Are you up to taking a walk? Perhaps seeing the fountains outside the hotel?" he queried.
"No, Hiram. Not right now. Right now all I want to do is bury my head in the sand," she replied wearily.
Jeff spoke up. "There are still workshops, presentations, and panel discussions to go to, Bekkah. In fact, I'd like Brains and Tin-Tin to stay and continue with the conference. If immersing yourself in the gathering here would help, then do that. If not, you don't have to stay. You can come back to the Island tomorrow with us."
Grandma Tracy leaned over to her son and told him, "Gordon and John are here. They are getting a room for themselves and are determined to stay as long as Bekkah does." Jeff smiled slightly.
"I know they are here; Scott called me and told me. I'll give them one day, then back home they go. I wouldn't give them that but those two and Bekkah have become good friends over the past months. They might be able to help her."
Two women, a smart looking red-head and a beautiful black woman with her hair done in braids, walked up to the table. Bekkah smiled slightly when she saw them.
"Donna, Maxine. I'm glad to see you." Brains made the introductions all around.
Donna, the black woman, spoke, "Are you ready to practice for tonight's talent show? Tyler said he could have the band together by three o'clock." Everyone instinctively looked at their watches. It was 2:30.
Bekkah sighed heavily. "Yeah. I think I would like that. The music would take me out of myself for a while." She got up to leave with the two women.
Brains stopped her before she left. "If you need me, just call, okay?"
She smiled slightly and nodded. Then she walked off with her musical partners.
"This is going to take a while, isn't it, Mother?" Jeff knew of his mother's experience in these matters.
"Yes. But she has a lot going for her. The fact that the act was not completed is a big blessing."
Gordon and John came over to the table.
"Where's Bekkah?" Gordon asked, concern coloring his voice.
"She's practicing for the talent show tonight," Brains told him. "She's going to be singing."
Gordon nodded. "Good. I know how much music helped her in defeating the Hood. I hope it can help as much in overcoming this violation."
Donna, Maxine, and Bekkah wandered behind the curtains in the dining room. There was a stage there, adequate for the purpose of the talent show. Sir James Masters was there already, warming up on the piano. He rose as the ladies walked in.
"Donna and Maxine, you dazzle me as always!" he gushed. The two ladies knew his flattery well and joked with him about it. While they went to get out the music Bekkah had sent them, he took a moment to speak to her.
"What are you doing here? I thought you would be resting from that frightful episode with Ivan last night."
She sighed. "I think the music will help me more than just resting and recalling every detail of what happened. I need to be taken out of myself for a while. Singing might help."
Sir James took her hand, but she flinched at his touch, and he let it go. "All right. Just know that I am outraged by what happened and that you have all my sympathy, my friend."
She nodded, and moved to complete the trio.
She had chosen three soft swing numbers that she knew well, two for the entertainment itself and one as an encore. Ever since she and her partners had been doing this, they had been called out for an encore but had nothing ready, so this year she wanted to be prepared.
"Okay. Let's go over 'The House is Haunted' first, then 'Sentimental Journey'. We'll save 'Little White Lies' for last."
With Sir James accompanying them on the piano, they went over the first two songs once. The band started to file in. Tyler, a short man with a mop of curly black hair and a Van Dyke beard came in with his saxophone. He was the leader of the No Geeks band, which would be playing not only for the trio but for any vocal soloists that found themselves on the program. The barbershop quartet would need no musical accompaniment.
"I like the music that you found, Bekkah. It gives the band a chance to play between verses," he said with a smile. "Now, do you want to go over those songs again with the band?"
"Yes, please, Tyler." The band members warmed up, and then sat quietly for the first few phrases of "The House is Haunted". Sir James played a few chords, then as the main verses came up, the band joined in softly. Bekkah sang melody, her low voice mixing well with the higher voices of Maxine and Donna. She sang melody again on "Sentimental Journey" and harmony on "Little White Lies." When they had finished, Tyler clapped his hands.
"Bravo, ladies. You'll bring down the house, as usual. Now let us get to our own practicing. We might as well play while we wait for Gregory Martin."
"Gregory? I met him last night." Bekkah said. "What is he going to sing?"
"A couple of numbers from an old musical. Love songs."
"From which musical?"
"Um, The....yeah, The Scarlet Pimpernel."
Bekkah smiled broadly now. "Oh! That's one of my favorites! I can hardly wait to hear him." She thought for a moment. "I hope he's worth hearing."
She bid goodbye to Donna and Maxine, who were off to a panel discussion, and walked across the lobby, headed for her room. She was met by Gordon, John, and Jeff. She had a hard time looking at the three men who clustered around her. Jeff saw her discomfort.
"Boys, why don't you take Bekkah for a cold drink, then walk her up to her room. She's probably parched from singing." Gordon nodded and he and John steered her over to the little restaurant.
"Dad sent Tin-Tin off to bed, and Brains off to a panel discussion. Grandma is getting settled in her own room." John chattered on. They sat down and ordered an iced tea for Bekkah.
"Can we come and hear you sing tonight?" Gordon asked.
"I guess so. There will be room at our table since I am singing, Sir James is playing piano, and one other member of the table will be singing as well." She sipped her iced tea, and looked down at the table. Gordon put a knuckle under her chin and raised her face so he looked her in the eye. It pained him to see the utter desolation there, the fire quenched and the humor dead. He saw the tears begin to well up, then she sighed.
"I guess I'd better get some rest." They rose as one and the Tracy men escorted her to her room.
Her shadow followed discreetly. Things were beginning to happen as predicted.