Brian is standing at the front door when Bonnie and I walk in. My respect for him will never go away.
“Annie,” Brian says, nodding his head toward me in acknowledgement.
I nod my head as well. “Brian,” I say. He raises his eyebrows and gives me a smile. He pats me on the shoulder and moves past me.
“Hello, love,” Paul says, walking towards me. He holds his arms out and gives me a hug. He kisses the top of my head and holds me just a little bit longer before he lets go. He steps back, with his hands still on my elbows, and looks at me for a moment. “You look so beautiful.”
“Thank you, Paul,” I say, looking into his eyes for once. Usually I look to the floor.
“You’re making me fall hard,” Paul says quietly. “There’s no turning back now.”
What does he mean by that?
“Come on.” Paul takes my hand and pulls me along behind him.
“Who’s here?” I ask.
“Everyone?” I question incredulously.
“Well, yeah. And the rest of the boys are here, of course.”
“Where are we going now?”
“God, Annie. Is this an interrogation?” I think he’s serious until he turns around and winks at me. He faces forward again. “I’m just looking for a quiet corner for the two of us.”
“Mr. McCartney? Excuse me, Mr. McCartney?” We turn to see a man with a receding hairline coming towards us.
“Yes?” Paul asks, sounding a bit distracted.
“I’m Douglass Hall and I’m with the London Daily. Do you and Miss Bennett have a moment?”
Paul looks at me and I nod. “That’s fine,” Paul tells Douglass.
“Are you looking forward to your upcoming U.S. tour?” Douglass asks as he pulls out his notebook and pencil in one swift motion.
“I am. We have a lot planned.”
“We know that America went nuts for the Beatles in February, how do you think they’ll react this time?”
“Oh, I don’t know. You can never be too sure. I’m hoping they’ll be just as excited as before.”
“And are you traveling to America with them?” Mr. Hall asks me, his pencil poised over his notebook.
“I am, but that’s where I’ll be leaving them. I have school in the fall.” I hate saying those words out loud.
“Will you keep in contact?” I can feel Paul’s gaze.
“I plan to.”
We finish up the interview and Paul continues to drag me across the living room. “Sit, sit,” he says. “I hate talking about you leaving.” He laces his fingers with mine. We’re sitting in two chairs in the corner of the room just like Paul wanted to. I have a good view of the whole party.
“Then let’s not. I kind of get stressed out when I think about it.”
“Right. That’s right.”
A skinny man with glasses, crazy, brown hair, and acne walks over to us in a hurry. “Paul, I need your help,” he says in a hurry. “It’s Neil. He’s really drunk and sick. He’s in the bathroom puking his gutsout right now.”
“Ok, calm down, Bill,” Paul says calmly but with concern in his eyes. Neil has always been one of his good friends. Paul looks at me. “Annie, I’m so sorry, but I really need to take care of this. I’ll be back really soon, ok?”
“It’s ok. I understand.”
“You won’t move?”
Paul smiles and kisses me on the cheek. “I love you.” He stands up and follows Bill out of the room. I sit patiently in this room for about ten minutes before I become bored. Time to explore. I hope I don’t get into any trouble.
I stand and slowly mingle through the crowd of people. I see George in there somewhere talking to a pretty red haired girl. I don’t get a chance to talk to him.
I move through the front hall where Brian welcomed me. He’s still standing by the front door, meeting his guests. I hope he has a chance to mingle and walk around.
I look around to see if anyone is watching me. No one is, so I walk up Brian’s grand staircase to the second floor. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always had a fascination with looking around people’s houses, and Brian’s house is so large it’s bound to have a few surprises.
A few other people have wandered up here as well. A couple is kissing by the dark wood door at the end of the hallway. A man is leaning against the opposite wall, smoking a cigarette. We make eye contact. I smile and then look away. I move past him quickly and keep my eyes toward the floor. He seems shady.
I make it to the end of the hallway and peek into the last room. A man and woman are lying on top of each other. Are they… Oh, God.
“Derek,” I hear the woman breathe.
“Natalie,” Derek breathes in response.
Derek and Natalie?! Oh God, oh God, oh God. Why the hell are they here? I back away from the door, my eyes the size of saucers. I bump into the wall behind me. I search for a doorknob and when I find one, I turn it and fall into the room. I can only imagine what the shady guy down the hall thinks of me now.
I stand up and press my hand against the door to make sure it’s closed. I let out a sigh and turn around and sitting on the bed is none other than my good friend John Lennon. I gasp and then sigh again when I realize it’s just him.
“Hello,” he says. His arms are folded across his chest and he’s sitting upright on the bed.
“Oh, John!” I exclaim. “I’m so glad to see you.”
“What’s got your knickers all twisted?”
“Huh?” I ask as I go sit down next to him on the bed.
“You fell in here like you were running from a murderer.”
I laugh, imagining what John saw when I fell into the room. “I saw Derek.”
“Ahh. Not much of a difference between him and a murderer, is there?” John nods his head.
“Why are you in here?”
John scowls. “I wanted to get away from all those people. They ask too many questions.”
“They do. I don’t know how you guys can handle that all the time.”
I shrug. “Well, you’re handling it better than I would.”
John shrugs this time. We’re both quiet now and I stare at my feet. John jiggles his leg, shaking the bed.
“So, you’re going home soon?”
I continue to stare at my feet. Did John not care? “Yeah…”
John waits a minute. “It won’t be the same without you.” He pauses again. “I’m going to miss you.”
A lump rises in my throat. “Oh, John,” I say softly. “I’m going to miss you too.” My voice cracks.
John’s head snaps to look at me. I finally stop looking at my shoes and look John in the eyes.
“You don’t want to leave?”
I shake my head. “I’m going to miss you boys too much.”
I feel John’s hand creep it’s way up my back and around my shoulders. “Annie, I have to tell you something. Before you leave.”
I don’t respond and I wait for John to speak.
“This whole summer… I haven’t stopped thinking about you. You’re always on my mind.”
Again, I don’t respond. I’m starting to feel very confused and my insides are humming. My heart and my body are telling me one thing, but my head is telling me something else.
“Sometimes I really can’t stand you, but even then… You’re the girl of my dreams.”
A tear falls from my eye. “Oh, God, John. Why are you telling me this now?”
“I can’t let you go home not knowing how I feel. Especially since I don’t know when I’ll see you again.”
A few more tears trickle from my eyes.
“I’m sorry Annie. I didn’t mean to upset you.” John leans in close to me. I feel his breath in my ear. “I remember the first time I kissed you andI’ll remember the last time I kiss you.”
My heart is hammering inside my chest and my body starts to move without me thinking. I turn my head slowly and meet John’s lips with mine. Is this what I want? Is this what I want right now? Everything is happening so fast.
John’s hand is up my shirt. My hands are in his hair. We lie back on the bed. John’s shaking hands peel off my clothes, and my hands explore his naked body. This is it.
Oh God, what have I done?