I sigh but know that this is something that Pam has to work out for herself. She knows my opinions on the matter and hopefully will use her better judgment. Besides, I have to get ready.
I return to my wonderful rosy nook and casually ponder my outfit. After much contemplation I pick a black skirt that hits just slightly above the knee and a lavender cardigan. I figure that it may be a better idea not to wear the necklace today.
Still left with an hour an half until Paul will arrive, I decide to spend my time productively and borrow Pam’s copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Being one of my favorite books, I see no reason not to choose that as a past time.
I select the treasured book off the middle shelf in the living room and carry it back to my cozy room. I curl up amongst the various fluffy pillows and begin reading. Completely engrossed in the book, I am startled by a knock on the door.
“Luv, are you in there?” a male voice says.
“Mhm?” is about all I manage, still paying close attention to Elizabeth’s Bennett’s first proposal from Mr. Darcy. It’s so romantic.
“Luv, are you okay? May I come in?”
The door opens and Paul walks in. Oh I completely forgot! How embarrassing…I didn’t even hear the doorbell ring. Talk about bad impressions. At least my room is neat and I don’t have anything horribly incriminating on the floor…dirty underwear and such.
I begin to put down my book and try to sit up in a more lady-like fashion. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry…I guess I sort of forgot. It’s just I had planned on being ready but to pass time I had decided to read a bit and I guess I lost track of time.”
“Obviously,” Paul laughs. His smile is adorable.
“I’m really sorry. I feel so embarrassed—"
“Don’t be.” He sits down on the edge of the bed. He turns to look at me. “Luv, I can understand how you feel. Sometimes I get so into something that I lose track of everything—plans, time, where I am even.” I smile. “So what are you reading?”
“Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen…it’s one of my favorite books.”
“Ah, I remember reading that for school. I wasn’t bad in school, I enjoyed reading some, but my true love was music. Pride and Prejudice—that’s with Miss Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, right?”
“I don’t know, I guess I was too young to really enjoy it. I remember thinking it was too mushy and stuff. I should probably give it a second chance.”
“Definitely,” I say, still in the contorted position that is a cross between being curled up, sitting up, and an attempt to not reveal what is underneath my skirt while still sitting on a bed. I become a bit embarrassed at my pretzel pose and do my best to gracefully move to edge near Paul. Still holding the book in my right hand I sit beside him. “I mean, I don’t want to sound like a teacher or someone enforcing a strict homework assignment or something, but it’s a book I’ve always treasured. Something about the wonderful characters and intricate story that builds around them.”
“I understand, luv. You know, if I hadn’t become all famous as a Beatle, chances are I would’ve been a teacher myself. I definitely know me mum wouldn’t have absolutely jumped at the idea of me being a rock ‘n roller. Even my dad wasn’t too keen on the idea originally.”
“I can imagine.”
“But you know, he had been in music himself for a while and it was something I loved so. I guess all the opposition didn’t mean much after a while.”
“It was meant to be.”
“Oh I don’t know exactly. Perhaps the Beatles—the success and continued success of the Beatles. Your popularity…”
“Fate, you mean?”
“Yea, I guess.”
“Maybe. Maybe it was.”
I realize how warm I’m feeling next to Paul. I examine him more closely—beautifully well groomed hair, casual long-sleeved green shirt, black pants. I find myself smiling more than ever yet being truly sincere. I feel content and happy around him. I feel close. I can even smell that mixed scent of cologne, smoke, and shampoo on him. Something tells me today is not only going to be a test for Pam, but for me as well.
But then I begin to remember everything John has told me. Everything my father has told me. Everything I know myself. How many beds just like this one has Paul sat on in his life? How many thousands of girls has he attracted and seduced? Here I am, sitting on a bed, alongside one of the biggest playboys to grace this earth and just like all those other girls, I’m captivated.
The series of mixed emotions flowing through my mind make me exceedingly uncomfortable and I stand up, startling Paul and myself.
“We should probably get going,” I say.
Paul, seemingly surprised, looks up, “Oh, uh yea. You’re right. You have everything?”
“Yes, I believe so. But um, could I catch up with you in a minute? I just have something to find and then I’ll be right out.”
“Alright…I’ll wait by the door then.” Paul walks out and I rush to find my pocketbook. I pull out my lyric book, tear out the last inspiration and place it with the previous one—inside the top left drawer of the desk Pam kept across from the end of the bed. I search frantically through my purse and find the key. I lock the drawer, straighten myself up a bit in the mirror and walk out with as much poise as I can. I’m ready for anything.
I meet Paul at the door and yell goodbye to Pam in the living room. As we walk to the car I look over at Paul’s left eye. He clearly has had a black eye, but it isn’t obvious to someone who doesn’t know, appears seemingly unnoticeable thanks to make up.
We make small talk the entire way to Paul’s house. I smile as he opens the car door for me. He puts his arm around me as we make our way to his door yet quickly pulls away for no reason. I turn to see his face but it’s expressionless. He unlocks the door and we enter.
He leads me to his couch and we sit. I wonder how many other girls have sat where I am sitting right now. I begin to ponder over whether there is a sign over his bed upstairs that would say: Now serving: Date Number 7,987.
“What are you thinking, luv?”
Startled I look up. “Oh uh, nothing.” I force a smile.
“Look Julia, if you’re upset about something you can tell me. I don’t bite.”
Tell that to Jane Asher. “I know, but it’s nothing, really.”
“Is it yesterday? The way Peter spoke to you—“
“No, I’m fine. Really.”
Paul looks hurt, obviously aware I am holding something back from him.
“It’s alright luv, I understand. Here, mind if I take a look at your lyrics then?”
I hand him the book. “Only if you’re sure you want to.”
He smiles, “Of course.”
I watch as he sits beside me, deciphering my loopy handwriting. I feel tense. It’s as if I am standing there, completely naked and waiting to be scrutinized and critiqued by some famous artist and compared to their past masterpieces. I wish I hadn’t brought it.
I continue to stare at his crinkled forehead and facial expressions revealing nothing. I had warned him my work was amateurish; he knew that. I had told him he didn’t have to look at it. Now he’s stuck in a position where if he thinks me work is of low quality he can’t say it.
The longer he gazes at the pages, the more I can tell he’s not impressed. I didn’t think he would be. But he clearly doesn’t have the heart to just outright say, “You stink.”
Finally, he turns to me. I cringe. Oh please don’t have him sugarcoat some criticism, it’s always ten times more painful than if he were to just tell me the truth.
As opens his mouth to speak once again, Martha comes bounding in. She jumps at Paul’s knees and moves frantically trying to lick his hands. “Rosie must have let her in. Down girl,” Paul says. But soon enough he’s leaning over, playing with Martha and drowning in her wet, slobbery kisses. “This is Julia, Martha. Remember her?
Martha prances over and sniffs at my knees. Having passed the inspection, Martha begins to beg for my attention, tongue dangling and smiling. I move onto the floor to pet her and she clobbers over me. I laugh.
Paul intervenes, “Careful girl, I don’t want you hurting Julia.”
“It’s alright,” I say. “She’s just so lovable.”
After a few minutes of playing with Martha I move back onto the couch and straighten out my skirt and hair.
“About your lyrics…”
“What? Do you not like them? Believe me, I’ll understand—“
“No, it’s not that…”
I pay close attention to his face. His eyes look apologetic, his eyebrows questioning, his lips—the autopilot McCartney charm.
He doesn’t like them and can’t bring himself to say it.
“Then what?” I ask. He sighs, unable to put me down. “Paul, just say they stink, they’re bad, they’re amateurish. Say they’re the worst piece of rubbish you have read in your life. Just say something! I won’t be offended. I knew it and knew you wouldn’t like them.”
“Well, they’re not quite that bad…” He flips to the last used page. “What happened here?”
The telltale edges of my sappy love songs haunt me again. “Well one was used for George’s autograph to appease my Beatle-crazed younger sister Cordelia.”
“But what about the other two?”
Think fast, Julia. Think really fast. “Just some songs I thought fell below the level of my originals, that’s all. I believe I threw them out—“
“Julia, you should never do that. At least with old ones you can look back and try to improve them. You never know what may come to use.”
“I guess you’re right.”
Paul smiles. “Alright, enough of me playing teacher. How about going for a walk?”
“Sure.” I place the notebook back into my purse. Maybe I should have let him see those last two songs. Then at least he could see I had some ounce of talent.
Paul puts Martha on a leash and we walk down to the gate. He greets the gatebirds.
“Who’s she?” one snotty girl asks. I begin to wonder if she is the same girl that I had met that first day at Paul’s.
I introduce myself as Paul’s American cousin Julia McCartney, and the girl seemingly skeptical yet satisfied that I responded, let’s us pass.
Martha prances happily in front of us. Hmm, ‘Julia McCartney’—doesn’t sound half bad.
“So, Cousin Julia, what would you say to a stroll through the park?”
“Simply splendid,” I say and enter. The sky is a beautiful icy blue and I shiver.
Paul puts his arm around me and I feel much warmer. Martha gets jealous and tugs the end of the leash for Paul’s attention. He doesn’t look down.
Suddenly, Martha starts speeding heavily off the path and through various trees, dragging Paul, and causing me to have to sprint in order to catch up. My lungs fill with the stinging icy air as I race. Finally, I meet up with Paul.
“Martha, bad girl.” He looks up at me with wide brown eyes. “I’m sorry about that. She usually doesn’t do that.”
“It’s alright. At least we got some exercise.”
Paul, still catching his breath, cheeks now red from running in the cold, smiles. “Yea, at least that.”
For the latter of the stroll, with Martha as chaperone, Paul and I keep the distance of at least a foot apart. That is, until we reach a large boulder, only slightly brightened by the sun.
We sit down to rest on it and I can feel the cold rock pressing through the bottom of my skirt. Martha lies down on the neighboring ground and becomes distracted by a small patch of grass.
Paul moves closer to me. Seeing how cold I am he pulls both his arms around me, switching the leash to his right hand so as not to attract Martha’s attention. “Cold, luv?”
I shiver, teeth chattering. Oh why do my teeth always have to give me away? It always makes me feel so unnecessarily helpless. “A bit,” I say.
He looks into my eyes. I stare at the long brown hair falling across his forehead and long to touch it. He begins to lean down but stops himself and pulls away.
Oh no you don’t. Not again, I think and kiss him. I push up against him and kiss him more passionately than anyone before. He kisses back and I’m pulled into a new dimension, mentally and physically. A place where the only things that exist or matter are Paul and me.
When I finally feel that I’ll suffocate if I don’t breathe, I pull back and stare into his eyes, questioning. Was I right? Was I wrong?
He looks as surprised as I feel at my own temerity. Before either of us have the chance to comment, Martha barks wildly, resuming her chaperone position.
Still entranced, I stand up abruptly and face away, now embarrassed. It was silly of me. It was just plain stupid. It was magical—but could it have just been one-sided? For Paul could it have just been another kiss on another girl that was once again crazy about him? Kiss number 7, 987.
I feel him walk up behind me and place his left hand on my shoulder. I turn. He kisses me again. He drops the leash and Martha jumps about us frantically as Paul pulls me to him. I must be dreaming.
I begin to feel myself getting carried away and worry. How can I end this properly? How can I end this so that he’s not offended? Do I want to end this?
His hand begins to go for the buttons on my cardigan, heart pounding. I pull back. This is a whirlwind. It’s moving too quickly. I must admit I hate to end that kiss but I’m not about to lose my virginity in a public park with a possessive English sheepdog jumping around us, and mothers with their little children frolicking through the woods. I don’t want Paul to think that every step of the way I am going to send him mixed messages, become a tease, but there’s only so far I will go, especially in such a public area.
Paul looks away, confused. “No Paul—I want you to understand. That first day, I don’t know why I didn’t let you kiss me. I may never know. But I do know it was a mistake and I care about you. Whether or not you truly care for me is not the current issue. The point is that I don’t want you to think that I’m going to become some sort of tease. I pulled away now because this is moving too fast, it’s too sudden. It’s in the middle of a public park with a wild barking dog and the possibly of children walking by.”
Was I wrong to tell him I cared about him? Oh come on Julia, you just kissed the guy for God’s sake. It’s a given at this point.
Paul looks back up and moves closer. “Luv, I care about you too. It’s just—well, you’ve been running hot and cold on me. Either you’re ready or you’re not.”
Ready for what? Kissing? Love? Sex?
He continues, “I’m not used to a girl who keeps changing her mind. You’re beautiful, Julia. It’s just yesterday you were out with that Peter person and today you’re out with me. I need to know it’s alright to make a move. I don’t like a tease.”
I sigh, unsure of what to say. “Believe me, Peter’s out of the picture but you have to understand I’m not easy and won’t stand for you being with other girls while with me. I know that’s also something you’re not used to, but if this relationship is going to happen then that’s just something you’re going to have to do.”
Relationship? Julia, there was never any word from him on this being a ‘relationship’ you’ve just jumped the gun and you very well that there’s no way he’ll make sure a commitment to you this early in the game. Particularly if you are so unwilling to take the place of those girls. It’s not part of his natural behavior, and why, after just knowing you a few days would he go and change all that? You’ve lost him, Julia. Lost him.
Paul stands there a moment, absorbing my words. He then moves closer and says, “I’ll do my best, luv.” He throws his arms around me, smiling. “But please, in return, try to be a bit less complicated?”
I beam. “I’ll do my best, luv.” We kiss.
Written by Jane Anderson. 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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