“I’m not so sure this restaurant was a good idea,” I say, spotting a fidgety middle-aged man wielding a camera, with a face I strangely recognize, looking over our table for the fifth time.
“Why’s that?” Paul asks.
“John, does that face ring a bell for you?” I ask, directing John’s gaze to the corner of the Indian restaurant.
He raises both eyebrows. “Christ…if I didn’t know better I’d say it does.” He laughs. “You don’t think it’s that same wanker of a reporter from yesterday do you?”
Maybe my name wasn’t all Pam told them…but of all things, my favorite restaurant?
“It very well might be.”
“But how in bloody hell would they know we’d be here? We didn’t even know we’d be here.” John says.
I sigh. “Pam.”
“Pam. I just spoke to her today. She told me that she had given my name to Daily Mirror. Obviously, among other things…”
“Fuck, you don’t know what other shit she may have told them do you?” John asks.
“I wish I knew.”
Paul’s expressions turn cold. “Be careful what you wish for. It just might come true, you know.”
“Paul, you’re not implying that they’d….”
“I hope I’m wrong.”
“So do I.” John scoffs. “Fuck, I didn’t bloody think she would be getting involved in all this.”
“You can never be too careful.” Paul says.
John’s face drops as he buries it in his hands.
“John, I’m sure she wouldn’t have revealed anything about your relationship with her….”
It would be foolish of her to go through all the effort of dating Peter and then admit it all to the news just for a bit of revenge. Besides, she cares too much about staying in the inner Beatle female circle to ever pull anything of the sort.
“Oh yea? How do you reckon that one out?”
This is no time to mention Pam’s pregnancy and cover-up. He’ll have to just take my word for it.
“Because I know Pam all too well and there is no way she’d risk her chance at staying friends with all the ‘Beatle wives.’”
John scratches the back of his neck and stares at the empty plate set before him. He looks up. “I sure hope you’re right…’cause if you’re not….” He pauses as frustration rips across his features. John hits his hand down on the table, causing the short flower vase to make a small rattling noise.
I glance quickly up at the reporter to check that he hasn’t noticed and am relieved that general racket and dim lighting makes it difficult enough for him to think straight, let alone notice John’s little tantrum. I watch as he continues to fidget nervously with the camera in his lap. I catch John’s eyes. His fist is still clenched helplessly.
I stroke his knuckles. “John, don’t worry so much. It’s pointless. It’s not like there’s anything we can do if she did ‘tell all’ to the papers anyhow. We just have to sit this one out.”
I look to Paul for support, but his glance is fixed on John. His eyes have now softened, but they are filled with a new shade of emotion. He cocks one eyebrow as he glances back down to my hand, and John’s, which has now unfolded beneath mine, unmoving. I pull away and search for John’s eyes—both of which are fixed on me.
The silence becomes unbearably awkward and I cough. John moves his eyes to the restaurant floor and Paul’s are focused on me.
What just happened?
I decide that whatever it is, I’d better just pretend I hadn’t noticed. I smile at Paul and blow him a silent kiss. His puzzled glance melts into a grin and winks back. His hand reaches my shoulder, and follows the length of my arm, until he rests his palm on my hand. A chill is sent down the length of my spine.
The reporter is still there. With his camera. A story about Paul and me would most likely appeal to him just as much as one about John and me. Heh, I’m sure the media would pounce for one with both: “friendship betrayal…seething jealousy…band break-up…the girl to blame….” God, I never really thought about all the consequences of being a Beatle girlfriend. And they have to deal with this every day?
I gaze into Paul’s beautiful eyes; they twinkle. I follow the curve of his eyebrow, and watch as he raises it suggestively; I laugh.
Well if he’s not bothered by it, then neither am I.
Gupta comes over looking unusually flustered. “Hello Julia. Nice to see you again.”
I smile. “Hey G.”
Paul plays with his voice, making a weak attempt to sound American. “Hello Gupta!”
“’ey Gupta luv!” John bellows.
Gupta grins but continues to shift uncomfortably. He brings our gaze to across the room. “There’s a man over there who has been making trouble all day. He’s been asking everyone about you. Pesky man, he is. Big pest. And he ordered the cheapest thing on the menu!” I laugh. He pauses to think. “You know, Charlie was here earlier. Pest was questioning him too.” Gupta grins. “But Charlie’s a good boy, he is. He said he knew you very well and that he was very aware that you and John were no more than good friends.”
I smile. “I’ll have to remember to thank him wholeheartedly next time I see him.”
John and Paul exchange a mischievous glance and snicker. I roll my eyes.
Gupta sighs. “I’ve tried to get that pesky man out of my place all day. He won’t leave. If he doesn’t leave before closing I’ll have to call security!”
“I’m sure he will. Once he gets what he’s looking for,” John groans. “Pictures.”
“And finds a story….” adds Paul.
“Silly man, I watched him play with his camera the whole time you’ve been here and not take one shot.” He chuckles. “Bad reporter. Not even good at being a pest.” He shifts feet. “But enough about Pest. Would you like to order?”
“Certainly. The usual for me,” I smile.
Paul and John make their orders. Gupta walks off to place them.
John leans over to whisper in Paul’s ear. “We’ll have to remember to give him a big tip.”
We laugh. The night is enjoyable and the food, wonderful. Sometime before we leave, by our request, Gupta grabs the reporter’s attention and we make a clean escape. By ten o’clock I’m worn out from the day but the boys are still raring to go.
“The night’s just begun!” John says as the three of us walk aimlessly down the street. “Any good clubs around here?” John rubs his hands together hungrily.
“Pulling birds?” I ask, raising an eyebrow.
Paul laughs. John rolls his eyes. “Oh luv, you know me incapable of that by now. But eh, mind leading me to the feathery delights anyhow?” He raises both eyebrows, a devious smile spreading across his face.
‘Feathery delights’…sometimes I have to wonder at how sexist this man is.
“Well I don’t know—I don’t think I enjoy the idea of aiding you in cheating on Cyn.”
“Cheating on Cyn,” he huffs. “I, well, hmm, what an accusation! Disgusting. Can’t a man just have a little fun?” He pouts and flutters his eyelashes. “I’ll be a good boy, I promise. Won’t disappoint a soul.”
“That’s just what I’m afraid of.” I relent, sighing. “All right, all right. But please remember—I’m not advocating this.”
I wonder what he’d think if it was Cyn ‘having a little fun.’
“Oh yes, certainly, ‘course not, luv.”
I notice Paul’s silence and check to see if he’s still breathing. He continues to walk to my left, both hands in his pockets, trudging thoughtfully down the street. His mind seems elsewhere, his eyes looking through the whizzing cars and doldrum buildings.
Deciding as a precaution to go to a place that Pam won’t have known about, I link my arm with Paul’s and he returns my gesture with a small smile in his eyes. I lead the way and we reach a club I’ve never been to.
“Simply lovely,” I say as the pungent malodor of sweat, mildew, alcohol, and smoke fills my nostrils. I attempt to breathe through my mouth and choke on the rancid air.
“Just like the good ol’ days, eh Macca?”
“Yeh, I certainly have to say it has that Cavernous feel to it.”
We walk up to the bar as Paul pulls out a cigarette.
“A fag for a poor, lonely, old geezer?”
“Right Lennon,” he pulls a second one from the small box in his pants pocket, simultaneously biting down on his own. John takes it and Paul puts the box away, searching for a lighter.
I hop onto one of the bar’s stools and John follows. Paul still fumbles with his pocket. Five thin, long-nailed fingers place themselves on Paul’s right shoulder. He ignores them as he finds his lighter and flicks it on, leaning down to match the cigarette’s tip to the flame. He extends his arm and lights John’s. The fingers move to his left shoulder as the body slinks around to his front.
I watch, Paul’s face now shadowed by the long curls that spill down the woman’s back. My heart stops as I see him gently step back, speaking a few quiet words and sitting down on the stool beside me, press smile across his face.
The woman lingers by his side and my shoulders tighten. The bartender arrives from behind the counter and I move forward towards him, blocking Paul and the disgusting female out of my vision.
I can see John out of the corner of my right eye, his face is expressionless. If anything, I can almost sense jealousy in his features.
“Now what would you like?” the bartender asks, grinning towards me. He has a youthful face. He must not be more than a few years older than me.
“Coke and Scotch,” John says. A smirk plays at his thin lips.
The bartender turns towards him, “Oh…all right.” He turns back towards me. “And you?”
I smile, taking a quick side-glance to my left at Paul. He manages to keep a few inches distance from the slinky figure yet continues to entertain her smiles.
I can play this game just as well as he can.
I stare into the bartender’s eyes, raising my voice against the loud music. “I’ll have the same.” I bat my eyes flirtatiously. Paul looks up to make his order, but it’s too late. The bartender nods, still grinning, to get our drinks.
John sends me a side-glance and cocks an eyebrow.
I turn to him coyly, “What?”
Paul stares down the bar, waiting for the bartender to return. The man returns with our orders. He places both in front of me, leaning towards me. “You come here often?”
I smile. Paul looks startled, and raises his hand for the man’s attention “I’d like a Coke and Rum.”
The bartender turns to him, looking annoyed. “All right, and for the lady?” He gestures to the woman dripping from Paul’s shoulder.
Paul opens his mouth to speak but she interrupts. “Well…mine’s over there…” She points to the other side of the bar. “But….“
I smile at her. “Well why don’t you go finish it? I hear gonorrhea is common among young British men nowadays…. ”
John snickers behind me; Paul’s eyes open wide. The woman looks disgustedly at me and turns to Paul who’s laughing. She takes one last look at him and walks off. He stops laughing.
The bartender chuckles at the scene, raises both eyebrows towards me and walks to get Paul’s order.
“Christ, Jules! What was that about?”
“You deserved that you know.”
Paul’s innocent eyes accent his baby face. “Bloody hell, for what?”
John still laughs behind me.
“If you haven’t already realized, I am your date. I am your only date.”
“I know that! That didn’t mean you had to fucking scare away the poor girl, just because she’s female!”
“Just because she’s female? Paul, if that had been a male, you wouldn’t have bothered talking! Nor would you have let him hang on you.”
The bartender returns before Paul can speak another word. The man leans towards me again, carelessly pushing Paul’s drink to a man two seats down from him with his free hand. I catch Paul reaching to get it as the bartender keeps his eyes on me.
“You know, you never answered my question. Do you come here often?” He touches my hand playfully. “Hmm?” he says, lifting my chin gently with his finger.
I take a side-glance towards Paul; he’s burning with rage.
“Get the fuck away from my girl!” he yells, pushing the bartender back into the soda machine.
A few heads turn and the bartender looks shocked. “Fucking son of a bitch!” The bartender screams, taking a swing at Paul, he misses, and Paul swings back.
“Paul, stop it!” I yell. I turn quickly to John, who sighs heavily.
He gets up, eyes following the swings and grabs Paul from behind, painfully trying to drag him away.
The bartender continues to try to hit Paul and John yells for someone to grab him.
John and I successfully pull Paul from the club. Once outside, we run, forcing Paul with us.
“Bastard! I didn’t get to beat his bloody lights out!”
I strain to yell through pants. “Paul, if you did anymore damage it would have been in the news tomorrow, to accompany whatever media there was today about ‘The Beatles and me.’ You’d be forced to pay and we’d be in deep shit so we’re going!”
A few blocks down we catch a bus and in the faint light above the seats I evaluate Paul’s damage. Blood trickles from the corner of his swollen lip and a black and blue mark sits right below his left eye. John and I sit on either side of him, calmly staring at the scattered passengers facing us with curious looks.
Finally we reach the end of my block, only to spot a community of dark figures, holding cameras, wading outside the door to my building.
“Shit,” Paul mutters looking towards John. We quickly turn the corner and hurry towards the next bus to their hotel.
Thank God I didn’t tell Pam which hotel they’re staying at.
By 2 AM we finally reach their room.
“My fucking head is pounding.” Paul grumbles.
“Well if you don’t stick your finger in the pencil sharpener it doesn’t get all bloody and pointy,” John says.
“What is that supposed to mean?” I laugh.
“Basically that if you don’t act like a bloody fool, you don’t end up with a fucking headache.” John directs the second half of his statement towards Paul.
“Fucking hypocrite,” Paul mumbles under his breath.
“Let’s get you cleaned up,” I say, looking at the pitiful Paul, sitting knees to forehead against the pink painted wall.
I look about the room. So this is where Paul walked in on John and Lydia. Somehow the last time I was here the room had less meaning. I glance at the tacky heart-shaped bed. I’d prefer not to think about it….
“Where’s the couch?” I ask.
John laughs “There is none. I guess they feel all newly married couples need is a toilet, a bedroom, and a food bar,” he gestures to the chest beside the bathroom door. “So basically luv, I don’t know how we’re going to handle tonight.”
We begin to help Paul with his wounds but he insists on doing it himself, leaving John and me in the bedroom, alone.
I take a another look around—no chair either. John and I sit on opposite sides of the bed.
“So are the three of us going to be sleeping together tonight?”
A smirk tugs at the corner of John’s lips. “Well, I don’t do that kind of stuff too often, but….”
I sigh. Must everything be sexual to him?
“Seriously though luv, I’ll willingly sleep on the floor and you and sweet little Paulie can do whatever your little hearts desire up there. Just pretend I’m not here.” John smiles to finish off his honest offer.
“No, I’d prefer the floor tonight.”
John raises an eyebrow. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. I definitely prefer the floor. I’ll just need a pillow—or two if you can spare another—you guys sleep up there. I’ll sleep down here,” I say positioning myself comfortably on the magenta carpeting. Two pillows fly down and hit me in the face. “Ow!” I yell, throwing one back up.
John’s eyes peer down from the edge of the bed. They twinkle and the pillow hits me again. I laugh.
He rests on his elbows, looking down, “Are you sure about this?”
I wonder at his persistence. “Yes! I’m sure! But um…is there perhaps a double layer of blankets so that I might have one?”
“Yea, I think there is, I’ll go check.” He shifts his body, revealing the fuzzy blanket beneath the comforter. He stands up and the comforter lands once again on my face.
I giggle. “What are you trying to do? Smother me?”
John stands akimbo and just smiles down. The phone rings and John glances up. Startled, he looks back down at me. “Who’d possibly be calling? You didn’t tell Pam our number did you?” The phone rings a second time.
“No! Of course not! I didn’t even know the number until after she called.”
He nods and reaches for the phone on the night table right above my head. “Hello?…Oh hey Eppy!…What?…Oh come on, the damage couldn’t be that bad…Christ Brian! It was just a short showing…You know how the media twists things…Public statement?…You’ve got to be joking…” He sighs. “Alright, alright—fine-fine. Uh, ‘I’d like to end speculation and make it very clear that Julia and are just good friends and nothing more.” He pauses to look down at me. He rolls his eyes and then adds, “Cyn and I are very happily married! And I love her very much!’ Alright, is that good? Yes, I’ll keep that in mind. Yes, Brian, I know. Yes, Brian, I KNOW. Uh-huh, yeah, ‘night to you too. Paul? Well hold on a sec….”
John yells to the bathroom door, “Hey Paul! Get your sorry ass off the porcelain throne! Brian wants to speak with you!”
The door bangs open and Paul walks out with a surprisingly clean face, despite the swollen area around his eye. He looks down at me, still lying on the floor and scrunches his eyebrows. He looks up towards John now seated on the side of the bed and picks up the phone. “Yes? Yea, there were reporters all outside her apartment. She had to come here. It’s a bloody pain. What? Oh no, things are fine otherwise. To her? Alright.” He looks down at me. “Jules, he wants to speak with you. Brian, our manager.”
I nod and stand up, fixing my dress and sitting down on the bed.
“Hello, is this Julia speaking?”
I smile at the very proper yet sweet voice on the other line. “Yes, yes it is.”
“Fabulous, I’m Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager. I just wanted to apologize for John bringing you into the media. It was very unfair of him. I think sometimes he forgets what a burden being dragged into the public eye can be for someone not accustomed to it.”
“Oh no, really, I don’t mind.”
“Truly? Well, at least you’re handling it well. As far as I am aware, it doesn’t appear that much more will be getting out. At most, possibly tomorrow’s paper will announce your name…I’m not exactly certain, but quite a few calls I received addressed your name directly. I don’t assume you know how that became known, do you?”
What am I required to tell him and what exactly SHOULD I tell him?
“Um, well yea, I do…an old friend….”
John grabs the phone from me, “Look Brian, it was a bird I had met. Yes, yes exactly. Well, I know I’ve told you before…she’s out doing spite work. No, as far as I know of, no. And I strongly believe that, too. It just may be a few pictures here and there. But with that statement of yours it shouldn’t matter, right? Ok, alright, ‘night.” John hangs up and the room is silent.
Paul looks down at the blanket and pillows at his feet. “You’re sleeping on the floor?” In his voice I sense a hurt quiver, but his eyes are glazed over, revealing nothing.
“Yes, I thought it might be better for tonight.”
He says nothing but stares into my eyes. I stare back. He walks to the other side of the bed as John gets under the covers.
I straighten out my things on the floor and John flicks off the lamplight.
I fall to sleep immediately. I drift into a series of hazy dreams. Fingertips graze my cheek and I’m startled awake. I look up and see a limp hand hanging over my face, I almost scream, but catch myself.
That’s just John’s arm, I’m sleeping on the floor because I got home late even though I have to get up early….
I soon recall my Macys’s shift. I check the clock—9:45 AM! I have fifteen minutes to get myself over there!
I quickly get up and go into the bathroom to wash up. I prepare myself in record time, write a note to let John and Paul know where I am, grab one of their keys, and lock the door. I catch the elevator and dash outside, mentally figuring the fastest way to Macys’s. I take a cross-town bus East and make it there at 10:30.
Half hour late…not too bad.
I check in and spot Lydia. She sees me and smiles. “Julia…late as usual! For a minute there I thought you had forgotten!”
I laugh. “No, I was just up really late.”
“You look tired. What happened?”
“Well, first we all went out to dinner.” I lower my voice, “And there was a reporter! Pam obviously had told them about our Indian place. Afterward I was already exhausted but Paul and John still wanted to go out so we went to a club I wasn’t familiar with—real underground, low-level place. Some girl was hanging on Paul and I got annoyed. The bartender started flirting with me, so…I sort of started flirting back. I scared off Paul’s girl and Paul and the bartender ended up in a fight.”
“Physical?” Lydia asks.
“Yea, not too bad, luckily.” I sigh. “We ran out of the place and it took forever for me to get to my apartment. But there were reporters outside!” I laugh. “For them, Pam remembers my address, for The Beatles she can’t remember a thing!…Anyway, we didn’t get to their hotel room until TWO AM!”
I almost forgot…I should be careful about discussing the room, Lydia still hasn’t told me about sleeping with John yet…nor has spoken about that boyfriend he mentioned!
“Wow, that’s unbelievable. But you still never fully filled me in on everything—what happened with Pam? And with your family as well, for that matter!”
I relate the conversation to my best recollection. I also make sure to add our ‘family outing,’ including my dismay about Michael entering the war, to which she’s shares my upset, and then ask her to tell me more about what I’ve missed.
Lydia blushes. “Paul’s probably told you about walking in on us the day you guys went to visit your parents.”
I divert my eyes. “Well, yeah…he has.”
“All right,” she laughs. “I suppose that just leaves Jake,” she sighs. “God, I love him!”
“Love? As in love love? How long have you known him for?”
“Oh come on Julia! Where’s your romantic side? I’ve known him for a full week and a half…” She rests her hand on her palm. “I feel like I’ve known him forever! We’re just perfect for each other! I didn’t realize this until a few days ago, when he finally spoke to me!”
I laugh. “What’d he say?”
Lydia grins, pivoting her chin on her palm to face me. “He said, ‘HelloOoOoOo.’” We both giggle. “No but seriously, I really believe we’re soul mates or something. Maybe we knew each other in a past life and were torn apart from parents who loathed each other, forcing our hearts to rip apart and our souls to unite for eternity!”
Her dramatic excitement is entertaining, but I still have to wonder how serious this ‘love’ can be after knowing each for one week.
“…Maybe.” I smile. “‘Star-crossed lovers,’ eh?”
She stands up straight. “You’re going to have to meet him. You’ll just love him!”
“That would be great. How about Friday?” I say.
“Perfect and then we can have our girls’ night out!”
We agree and are brought to attention as an elderly woman walks up to the counter in search of assistance. Lydia offers to help and I’m left to wait.
On to Chapter 15!
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