"Eurgh," Lena winces as the strong rum runs down her throat. She was now at the hotel bar, drowning her sorrows. She has met her Waterloo tonight. Paul McCartney, brilliant and beautiful, hates her bloody guts, probably leaving her without a friend in London.
Here she is in a time warp and she was blissfully happy until she went and blew the whole thing up. Now, she's stuck. She'll probably be stuck here forever and never get back in to her home and her family.
She staggers up to her room, only slightly tipsy.
She can never drink until she's drunk, quite honestly she hates drinking anyway. She thought if she had a drink it might help her sleep better, but it has done quite the opposite. She has grown more restless.
She locks the door of the hotel room and falls in bed. Lena closes her eyes only to find a constant replay of the night's events running through her mind.
Paul's flattery, his sweet voice singing to her at the studio and the taste of his lips all hit her full force. Lena has never experienced anything remotely close to that before. Maybe it was all just a ploy to get her into bed. Perhaps he was just trying to earn another notch on his bedpost.
Could someone like Paul, a Beatle, a genius; actually ever have feelings for a girl like her? No. He couldn't. But one thing's for sure. Lena has feelings for him. No matter how hard she tried, she could not suppress them. This situation was too dangerous. So Lena decides before she turns off the light that the next morning that she would do everything in her power to get herself home. She has to leave.
Lena wakes to the phone ringing the next morning. She rolls over and picks up the receiver, "Hello?" She sounds deep and throaty, obvious effects of her late night.
A chipper voice comes from the other end, "Lena? It's me, Maureen. You sound quite awful! Are you alright?"
Lena props herself up on a pillow, "Well Maureen, I have certainly been better. What's up?"
Lena pulls the blanket around her tighter and listens to Maureen's roundabout way of talking, "Well Ringo and I are having some people over tonight and we want nothing more than for you to come. Of course the lads will be there. Maybe Paul…"
Lena shakes her head and says rather abruptly, "Listen Maureen, it's really great of you and Ringo to invite me, but I can't impose on you all. So I think I'll pass."
Maureen shrieks in an incredulous tone, "Impose? Lena, what in the world are you talking about? You aren't imposing! You're my friend!"
Lena can't help but smile at Maureen's enthusiasm. She sighs and gives herself a slight knock on the forehead, "Alright, what time?"
Maureen laughs, "Now that's better! Be here at seven. Do you want me to call Paul?"
Lena interjects, "No, no. I'll find it myself. I am going out and I can just come over afterwards. You can just give me directions."
Lena writes down the address and rises to start getting ready. She has unwittingly slept until one thirty and since getting off the phone the minutes have passed until the clock shows two eighteen. Lena hops in the shower and then tries to decide what to wear. She opts for the black shirt and brown skirt. She puts on the black shirt and discovers that it is snug and clingy. The arms flare out and neckline plunges rather low, but Lena finds it fitting. The skirt has a slight shimmer and reaches the top of her bare ankles.
She loads up on eyeliner and lip-gloss and then moves on to fix her hair. Lena decides to leave it down, but weaves small braids sporadically through her hair.
She grabs her rag purse and leaves the hotel a little early to do some window shopping and to make sure that she has enough time to find Ringo's house because she has the propensity to get lost.
Lena walks out the glass doors of the hotel around five o'clock and walks down the street stopping in a few shops here and there. She strolls into a particularly interesting store that had really eccentric clothes and jewelry in the window. Lena browses through the store, taking time to look through each of the glass counters. While she bends over to see a topaz necklace, an older woman approaches Lena.
"Hullo, luv. Looking for anything in particular, are you?"
Lena is taken aback by the woman's appearance. She is at least fifty years old and has a large ring on every finger. A shawl is draped across her shoulders and black cat is lying comfortably in her arms. To Lena, she resembles a gypsy. Her hair is dark with sliver streaks and her steely gray eyes bore through Lena like hot irons.
Lena clears her throat and smiles broadly, "No, I'm not. I'm just doing a little bit of shopping and I saw all the interesting jewelry in your window and I just had to step in."
The woman looks at Lena, as though she was evaluating her in some way, "You are a very lovely young lady. What is your name?"
Lena smiles and extends her hand, "I'm Anna Magdalena McGaughey. But most people just call me Lena."
The older woman shakes her hand and then shakes her own head, "You American girls. Very interesting people. Of course if you intend to work here I must insist on calling you Anna."
Lena smiles shaking her head in dismay, "I'm sorry, Mrs.…"
The woman waves her hand at Lena, "My name is Madame Cordelia Alexander St. Lorraine. But you may just call me Madame Cordelia."
Lena nods her head in agreement but then continues, "I'm sorry Madame Cordelia, but I think you have me mistaken for someone else. I just came here to shop."
Madame Cordelia merely sits down the black cat that looks up at Lena with her large yellow eyes. The woman taps her long, blue nails on the glass counter as she looks Lena in the eye and smiles, "Of course I am not mistaken. I knew you were coming today. I read it in my tea leaves."
Lena looks at her rather oddly, her eyebrow raises a little, "Tea leaves?"
The older woman smiles and plays with the fringe of her black shawl, "Yes, tea leaves. I read mine daily. Today they said that an American girl with the initials A.M.M. and green fingernails would be coming in and that I should offer her a job, because she will be here for awhile and her money is running out. Is that right, dear?"
Lena swallows hard and tries to clear the look of astonishment off her face. She smiles uneasily, "Yeah Madame Cordelia. You pretty much pinned it. Actually I don't know how much longer I am going to be here. If I have my way it will be soon."
Lena looks mournfully at Madame Cordelia, who just smiles, "You will be wonderful to work with. You have such a presence and a wonderful way with clothes and jewelry. Do you have a place to stay, Anna?"
Lena doesn't cringe when this woman calls her Anna. She kind of likes the way it sounds, "Um, right now I am staying at a hotel down the street. But as you say, my money is indeed running out." Madame Cordelia takes Lena by the hand and leads her up a flight of velvety red stairs, "Madame Cordelia, where are we going?"
She does not answer Lena and she keeps walking towards a large wooden door. She then turns to Lena and opens the door, "Anna, this will be your room."
Lena's mouth opens wide as she looks around the exquisite old room. The floor is wooden with burgundy rugs and tapestries. Victorian velvet drapes with golden fringe hang down a large bay window and slightly hide a window seat that is amass with large purple pillows.
Old purple chairs and antique lamps adorn the room and interesting cubist paintings hang on the white walls. Lena walks inside and touches the beautiful draperies that hang from the large four poster bed, she notices purple pillows and burgundy blankets embellish the top. Lena cannot believe her eyes and turns to the older woman, "Madame Cordelia, this is all very kind of you, but this is something that I cannot accept."
Madame Cordelia hobbles to Lena's side and puts a finger under her chin, "I won't hear of it, Anna. You are destined to stay with me. The stars have said so. You and I, we're kindred spirits. Now you may stay here and work for me under a few conditions. First of all you will get six pounds a week and work four afternoons in my store. You do not have to pay me room and board, but you must feed Jezebel and come to tea with me every afternoon. Is that clear?"
Lena nods in an enchanted manner, "Is Jezebel your cat?" Madame Cordelia laughs, "Of course! Also, you may pick out two outfits every two weeks for you to own. There are things downstairs that would look absolutely stunning on you. You are a very beautiful woman, Anna."
Lena blushes slightly and smiles at Madame Cordelia, "Thank you so much. You truly are a kindred spirit. When shall I move in?"
A half an hour later, Lena arrives back at Madame Cordelia's shop and moves her clothes, guitar case, and patchwork bag into the magical upstairs room. Lena had checked out of the hotel and had planned to tell Paul that night. She now sits in her new Victorian bathroom (complete with an antique bathtub with feet) brushing her hair.
Jezebel is curled at Lena's feet as Lena finishes up. She hears a slight thump coming up the stairs and turns to see Madame Cordelia at the bathroom door. She is holding a box and steps light to Lena's side, "Anna dear, I have something for you. I feel that this necklace will bring you luck tonight."
Madame Cordelia opens the box to show Lena a beautiful silver necklace that was adorned with three large tiger's eye stones. Madame Cordelia fastens the necklace around Lena's neck and smooths her long blond hair.
Lena can do nothing more than smile up at Madame Cordelia and rise from her chair. "I have to go. I am going to be late. You are such a wonderful person, Madame Cordelia. Thank you."
Madame Cordelia smiles and pats Lena's cheek, "You better go Anna. I will see you when you get back. Remember that you start work tomorrow."
Lena grabs her purse and pats Jezebel
on the head. She gives a little wave and walks out
the door and into the cold London evening.
Written by Cinder Whittier. May not be reproduced in any form, by any means, without the permission of the author. Permission may be obtained by e-mail.
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