"Come on now. You can stay with me tonight. No need to cry over that bastard," Paul says, pulling me away from him. I want to cling to him, though. I want him to hold me forever and tell me that everything is ok. I want him to wipe away my tears.
I let go, though.
"Oh goodness," Paul says upon looking at my face. "Let's clean you up." Paul pulls a handkerchief from his pocket and wipes at my eyes. "That's better." He puts the handkerchief back into his pocket. "Are you ready?"
I nod. I want to be anywhere but here.
Paul wraps his arm around my shoulders and turns me around in the other direction. I let Paul guide me to his car.
"I didn't tell the others that we were leaving," I say quietly after Paul starts his car.
"Shh. That's ok. Don't worry about that." Paul reaches over and takes my hand into his hand.
Paul pulls into his driveway. He gets out of his side of the car and then comes to my side and opens the door for me. He takes my hand and helps me out of the car. It all seems so familiar, but new at the same time. It's almost as if Paul and I have started over.
He wraps his arm around my shoulders as soon as he can and walks me to his front door. I'm so relieved to make it to his house. It's almost my second home now. Paul brings me inside and sits me down on his couch. He goes into another room and I hear him rummage around a bit before he comes back into the room looking much more relaxed: his shirt is untucked and his tie is untied, hanging loosely around his neck. He sits next me and wraps his arm around my shoulders again. I lay my head on his shoulder.
Why was I mad at him again?
I take in a deep, shaky breath through my nose and exhale through my mouth. "Do you have a cigarette?" I finally ask. It's not what I wanted to say, but it's what came out.
"Oh yeah." Paul reaches into his pocket and then offers me the cigarette. I put it in my mouth and wait for him to light it for me with his lighter.
"Paul, I'm not upset because of--."
"You don't have to talk about it now if you don't want to."
"It's ok." I continue. "I'm not upset because Derek has a girlfriend. Really, I'm not. I mean I may have liked him a little bit, but it wasn't anything serious." Not how I feel when I'm around you I want to say. "But I'm upset that he pretended to be my friend only to get a news story."
"He's going to reveal my identity. He's a journalist major." Why am I speaking about this so calmly now?
"What? You've got to be kidding me. I'll kill him."
"You wouldn't hurt a fly," I say, smiling to myself.
"He's not a fly, though. He's a rat."
Paul squeezes my shoulders. "I'm so sorry."
"Can I ask one thing?"
"Did the four of you not like him because you could tell he was bad? Was I just blind to the obvious flaws?"
"No, I don't think so. Ringo didn't mind him really. John, George, and I didn't like him because of jealousy issues I think. Bonnie, well, she wants you with us."
"You know, that makes me feel better."
"Yeah, you're not crazy."
I laugh. "Oh, thanks."
Paul laughs and then kisses my forehead. I snuggle against his chest and listen to his heartbeat. I feel his breathing become slow and steady. He's asleep now. I can't sleep.
But I think I finally have the answer to the question I've been asking myself for awhile now. It scares me.
I wake up to the sound of a phone ringing. I slowly open my eyes, the sunlight flooding the room, almost blinding me. The phone continues to ring. I groan and sit up. My head feels heavy and I have an odd taste in my mouth. I look around and see that I've been lying on Paul's couch. I hate waking up sometimes. The ringing continues.
"Are you going to answer that?!" I finally yell.
"No!" Paul responds from the dining room.
I wince at the continued ringing that is making my head start to pound. I stand up and wait for my balance to catch up with me. I walk into the dining room and look at Paul. "And why not?"
"Because I've been answering the phone all morning long and it's always the same thing. They're all asking for you or about you. I don't know how they got this number. I guess I'll get Brian to change it."
I look at Paul in bewilderment. "What?"
Paul shakes his head and throws the paper in front of on the table. I see the headline in big letters: "MYSTERY BEATLE COMPANION REVEALED!" Underneath the headline, it reads "Derek Aaron gets the inside scoop on the girl everyone is asking about."
I look at Paul in amazement and horror. "Oh, my God." I pick up the paper to get a closer look.
Paul walks over to the phone, carrying a cup of coffee. He picks up the receiver. "Hello, goodbye," he says in a hurry and hangs up the phone. It beings to ring again after a few seconds have passed. He picks up the phone receiver again. "You've got the wrong number!" he says in a low, gruff voice this time. He hangs up quickly.
I start to read the article:
"Annie Bennett. This is the young lady the world wants to know about. She has been spotted with the Beatles in various locations in the past month, including the London and Liverpool premieres of 'A Hard Day's Night,' where she infamously locked lips with John Lennon. There have been a number of encounters with Miss Bennett and the press, but she has refused to give any further comment on her identity.
I spoke with Miss Janice Watson, an employee of Take Six on Carnaby Street, who met Bennett while shopping for 'a dress to wear to a premiere.' This is the gown that was worn to the Royal London Premiere. 'She was a lovely girl and had a very kind heart. I liked her,' says Mrs. Watson on Bennett.
Bennett is eighteen years old from a small town near San Francisco, California in the United States. She is in England on vacation with her friend, Bonnie Maddox, the other young lady that has been photographed with the boys, Ringo Starr in particular. Maddox is reportedly living in Starr's home now.
I spoke to Elisabeth Nolan, a former girlfriend of Paul McCartney, briefly about Miss Bennett. 'I like her. She's young and doesn't know what she wants yet, but she's a nice girl.' Bennett, according to most witnesses, is merely a nice girl. I wanted to find a few more sources, so I dug deeper into the Beatles' story.
'She didn't have much to say. She wasn't very friendly or inviting,' said Miss Carol Eberhardt, a cashier at Bazaar on King's Road in Chelsea. She says that Bennett came in with Maddox and the Beatles after having the store closed down for them and bought one bathing suit paid for by George Harrison, before leaving the store in a hurry. Could Bennett be with the Beatles for monetary reasons?
I contacted Natalie Stanley who briefly encountered Bennett at a small restaurant in London. 'She was absolutely dreadful. Very rude and inconsiderate. She stormed out of the restaurant before the Beatles could even order their food.' Is there trouble brewing among the big, happy group?
Lily Mason, of Epsom, contacted me upon me looking for anyone with information about Bennett. Mason, fourteen years old, is an avid Beatles fan. She told me she met Bennett in their hotel elevator one afternoon. 'I thought she was very nice. She didn't know much about the Beatles, but she did introduce me to George Harrison!'
I have met Bennett myself through my previous job as a waiter, so I was able to ask her a few questions myself. Before Bennett came to London, she didn't care for the Beatles or their fans. Maddox, a big Beatles fan, convinced her to go to one of their shows where Bennett and McCartney met. After becoming enchanted with the tall, thin, blonde beauty, McCartney invited the pair to go on tour with the four of them.
Bennett has been engaged in love affairs with all four Beatles, but things seem to be rocky in paradise. Bennett and Lennon's personalities seem to clash the most.
I will be following this story closely and will update the public with any changes in the story."
Next to the article is the now infamous picture of John kissing me at the Liverpool premiere. And below that picture is the photo Derek and I had taken together at the Royal Botanic Garden, except he cut himself out of it.
I slam the paper on the table. "That bastard," I mutter.
Paul is hanging up the phone for about the tenth time. "Look on the bright side," he says to me casually and turning around.
"And what would the bright side be?"
"His writing is shit. He'll never have a career in journalism."