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Lovers and Friends


Chapter Fifteen


Part Two

I was woken up by the telephone ringing. I looked over at the clock in a panic, thinking Auntie was calling me and I was late for work. I breathed a half-asleep sigh of relief--it was only 10:15 a.m. I put on my glasses and stumbled out into the hall after four rings, figuring wherever Paul was in the house he wasn't going to pick up the phone. I found the phone on a table in the hallway and answered it. "Hello?" I said groggily.

"Would Jill Dearborn happen to be there?" a female voice asked.

"Yes, this is. Auntie?" I responded to the familiar voice as my stomach knotted up, preparing for a lecture.

Auntie replied, "Yes...I figured that's where you ended up last night. I would have asked Dan but he was still passed out on the couch when I left this morning. Are you going back to the house before you come here?"

"Uh, no, I snuck in last night and grabbed some stuff, so I'm alright."

"Alright, I just wanted to make sure you were okay...just don't come into work with a hangover, alright?"

"No, actually I'm fine, just a bit groggy 'cause I just woke up. I was pretty sober by the time we got home."

"And what time was that, might I ask?"

"Late. Quite late. Listen, Auntie, I'm sorry if you're offended or anything that I ended up staying here...nothing happened, he's still downstairs asleep on the couch, where he plopped down when we got in."

"Jill, number one, I am not your mother. And number two, you are a grown woman and you can do whatever you choose...just be careful, that's all I ask!"

"Alright, Auntie, thanks for goin' easy on me, I'll see you at noon."

I rang off and walked downstairs and found Paul still asleep on the couch exactly as I had left him. I nudged him lightly to see if he would wake up. I had no idea what his schedule was for that day, so I didn't want him to miss anything if anything was scheduled. He didn't budge, so I figured the hell with it and went into the kitchen to see if there was anything to eat. The contents of the refrigerator were a carton of milk, some carrots, and a half-eaten turkey sandwich wrapped in tinfoil. Typical bachelor fridge. Not really breakfast fare, but I figured I could pick up something on the way to MC's. I took some carrots out of the fridge and found a knife to peel them with. I poured myself a glass of milk and headed into the living room, munching on my carrots. I sat down on a chair near Paul and watched him sleep. He stirred after a few minutes, opening his eyes and looking at me with a somewhat confused look on his face. I smiled as I took a bite off my carrot, leaned against the couch arm and chewed loudly. "Eh, what's up, doc?" I said, smiling at him.

"Huh?" he said, looking at me as if I was from Mars.

"Oh, um, just American humor...never mind." Wow, could this man have actually gotten through his whole life without Bugs Bunny, and still came out alright? That was one of many times I experienced the culture shock of living in England. "Anyway," I continued, "Do you have anything going today that you need to be up for?"

"Just you, babe!" He pulled me down on the couch with him. "Come 'ead, ya carrot top!" I giggled as I tried to stop him (but really didn't want to). I would have been happy to lay there kissing him all morning, but he had a nasty combination of morning and hangover breath--it was pretty bad. I pushed him away, and he put his arms out. "What's wrong? You gotta go already?"

"No, I haven't even showered yet--it's your raunchy morning breath! I ain't kissing you like that!" I said as my southern Illinois twang crept through the slight British accent I was picking up. That made him giggle, which made me playfully slap him on the arm and say (with more of the southern accent), "Oh, shut up." He was laughing uncontrollably by that time. I got fed up and stood up, not realizing that he was leaning on me while he was flailing about laughing, and once I was off the couch, he just rolled onto the floor and continued to laugh. I stood there shaking my head looking at this man who was basically curled up in the fetal position on the floor, giggling like a schoolgirl. "If ya don't stop that, I'll wollop ya one with my cast!" I threatened. I was stifling giggles, too, and his reaction to my statement didn't help matters.

He got up on his knees and acted like a scared kitten. He mimicked in a high-pitched Cockney voice, "Oh, please don' wollop me, ma'am, I 'aven't done nothin' wrong!" The sourpuss face I had had totally disappeared by that time.

After I had finished laughing (and accidentally spitting a mouthful of chewed carrot at Paul), I went upstairs to shower and get ready. I showered quickly and towel-dried my hair. I pulled my semi-rumpled navy shirt and matching pants out of my bag and cursed myself for not taking them out of the bag sooner or maybe putting them in the bathroom while I was showering. I put them on, and they didn't look that bad. I put in my contact lenses and attempted to apply my makeup in the dim hallway (the only place in the house besides the upstairs bathroom, which Paul had already commandeered). I somehow managed to do it and not look like an Indian warrior or just someone with poor hand-eye coordination. As I was putting my makeup back in the bag, Paul came padding out of the bathroom, dripping wet and holding a towel around his waist. I couldn't help but stare and smile a little. He came up to me and said firmly, "There's one thing I don't like, and that's trying to dry off after a nice warm shower with a wet towel!" He passed me, going to the linen closet and got a fresh towel out of it. As he walked back to the bathroom, he tossed the towel he was wearing right at me and started drying off as he was walking back to the bathroom. I caught the towel and laughed at his total lack of shame...but I certainly didn't mind the peek.

By the time he reemerged from the bathroom, I really needed to leave. Since Dan had driven Paul's car home the night before, we both needed a ride. I called a taxi to take us where we needed to go as Paul threw some clothes on. The taxi picked us up quickly, and dropped me off at MC's and continued on to Auntie & Rog's place to get Paul's car. Paul had called Dan before we left to see if he wanted to have lunch since Paul was free until the evening. Paul gave me a quick kiss as I got out of the taxi. Of course, Auntie had to hear all about my evening out with London's beautiful people, which I was very happy to talk about!

***

That night, Dan and I went out to dinner. Paul had stressed that we should spend time doing our own things once in a while, so this was my night out. I enjoyed being semi-anonymous and not having my picture taken upon entering or exiting every public building. We spent most of the time reminiscing about all the good times we had in college. It was very good to see him again. He told me, "You know, um, I don't know what I'm doing for a while here, I'd love to have some company on my travels. I was wondering, can you take some time off and--"

"Dan, are you asking me to go with you around Europe?"

"Well, yeah. Can you? Will you?"

"Dan, you know I'd love to, but I have a job now. I got responsibilities, plus the cast is kinda a hassle. Besides, I'm trying to save up for my own place. I can afford the occasional knock-out red dress on sale, but a trip around Europe is beyond my pocketbook."

He looked disappointed. "Are you sure?"

I nodded. "Yep, I'm sure. I got a pretty good grasp of my financial situation."

Dan shrugged his shoulders. "Well, I figured that Paul's making a good deal of money, I thought you'd have some to spare."

"Dan, first of all, that's his money, not mine. He doesn't really buy me anything more than any other boyfriend on a normal salary would. And second of all...well, it's getting to the point where I don't see him as often as I'd like to. And when I do, I get the feeling we're being followed. My picture has already popped up in a tabloid or two, the Mirror or whatever it's called, with rude comments about Paul McCartney's plain, or mousy, or frumpy, or...um, dowdy I believe was one of them, too, American girlfriend. They always mention 'American'. It's like they still have a grudge about the Revolutionary War! I can show you a couple of them when we get back, for some reason Auntie's keeping them. Hell, next thing that'll come up is that they'll probably blame Paul for breaking my arm!" I half-joked.

Dan sat there wide-eyed. "They follow you? Is it really that bad?" he asked.

"Well, yeah, I guess. They're not climbing trees and being Peeping Toms, at least not yet, but they're just around. And with the Beatles' music everywhere now, it's bound to get worse...but I suppose it comes with the territory, eh? Not that it really matters, I hardly see him anymore. I mean, I am so excited and happy that their musical careers are taking off and that they're doing so well here...but I miss him." I sniffled a little, and wiped a tear away before it was noticeable. "Um, sorry to bring you down there."

Dan patted my hand (the one that didn't wipe my nose) and said, "It's alright, Jill. I understand."

I tried to get the subject off of my tortured and public love life. "So, are you seeing anyone?"

"Not really. Remember Judith from school, the girl I started dating in I think it was March?" I nodded. "Yeah, well, that kinda fell apart after graduation, she hooked back up with her high school sweetheart, and once again, Dan Jacobsen was left on the side of the road!" He rolled his eyes and propped his head on his hand.

I was a little surprised. Dan had always been a ladies' man of sorts, and he was never without a girlfriend for very long. "Nobody since then?" I asked.

"Nope...and you know, I really don't miss it. No offense, but girls are trouble. How can I find one that fits with me when I'm trying to find out who I am inside?"

His words threw me for a loop. The Dan Jacobsen I knew was an intelligent, cocky, shallow young man...but he was nowhere to be found. Certainly, he was still quite intelligent, but here he was, talking about finding out who he was as a person before he could find the right woman. I didn't know what to say; after a moment of silence between us, I leaned forward and asked, "So, what did you think of that Jane from last night?"

"She was alright...you know I've always had a fondness for redheads," he slyly said, a little of the old Dan creeping in.

"Uh-huh," I replied, rolling my eyes. "Seriously, what did you think?"

"Well, personally I thought she talked a bit too much about Paul for my tastes."

I raised my eyebrows. "Really? What did she say?"

"Oh, nothing specific, we had a lot of small talk stuff, and she seems nice and all, but I just think that her heart is somewhere else." Dan could read me like a book, and he could see that I was jealous inside. "Alright, what now, Jill?"

I shook my head. "You know, I've been to these concerts and shows lately where these girls are screaming that they love Paul and all this stuff, but he won't ever meet most of them, let alone have a real relationship with them. Jane, on the other hand, they dated for a bit when I was back in the States. They broke it off because they hardly saw each other." Those words echoed in my head, "they hardly saw each other." I stopped talking and suddenly started worrying about my relationship with Paul. We hardly saw each other now...and I knew that we were both trying to make things work, and everything seemed to be going alright, but who knew what the future might bring?

Dan brought me back to my home planet. "Jill, there's no sense worrying about it. If you're meant to be together, it will happen. But that doesn't mean you should stop trying in the relationship. It's not a one-way street."

I had to say something. "Dan, I just have to tell you this, I am very impressed with you. The way you've matured, I guess. All this talk about relationships and growing personally...I wouldn't have expected that kind of talk from you a year ago!"

He shrugged it off, saying, "Nah, it's no big deal. I just realized that I don't need someone to make me happy, that I can have my own fun. That's why I decided to come to Europe. I was really close to Grandpa Joe, and when he died...well, I lost one of my best friends. Yeah, I was down for a while, but I got out of that alright. A few weeks after he died, when they read the will, well, I got quite a bit of money; I was not expecting that! I hadn't really been searching for a job anyway, I had a couple interviews in Bloomington, but nothing was set in stone. So I decided to come to Europe. When I get back, I'll find an apartment in Bloomington and continue that job search."

"Well, let me know where you'll be, alright? I don't want to lose touch with you, Dan."

He smiled and said, "You won't Jill, you won't."

***

Sure enough, the very next day, in the Mirror, there was another article about me. Thanks to modern spy technology, someone in the restaurant took pictures of Dan and me without us noticing and must have quickly sold them to the Mirror. As tabloid papers tend to do, they stretched the story from two old friends together for an evening out to "McCartney Girlfriend Found Cheating On Beatle Heartthrob!" The pictures were shown with pictures of Dan, Jane, Paul and me going into the club the night before. The story even mentioned where I worked, and I knew that would spell bad news for MC's. When Auntie brought the paper into the store that day (she was an avid reader of the trash tabloids, just for entertainment, she said), I was horrified, and rang Paul immediately.

When he answered the phone, I started crying and talking very fast, which made me pretty much unintelligible. "Paul, oh my god, have you seen the Mirror, it says that I'm cheating on you with Dan! Some nosy idiot snapped pictures of us at the restaurant last night and they're already in this blasted paper! Paul, I hope you know that it's not true, I would never do-"

He interrupted me. "Jill, wait. Now, what are they saying?"

I kept on at the same rapid rate. "They say that my dinner with Dan last night was a secret liasion between two lovers, the dumpy American girlfriend and an 'unknown suitor'!" I choked on the words, which made them even more difficult to decipher.

Paul tried to help. "Jill, please calm down. These people are all over, and they'll do anything to sell their pictures or their papers. Even if it means stepping on some toes along the way. Don't think of it again, luv. If you begin to take this kind of crap personally, it's gonna be the ruin of you."

"I'm not gonna get an ulcer over this or anything, but-"

"Really?" he asked skeptically.

"Really," I responded impatiently. "But I'd be lying if I said this didn't bug me."

He sighed. "Jill, I hate to tell you this, but you and I both are going to have to get used to this. It's part of being famous, I suppose."

"Well, maybe I don't want to get used to this!" I yelled. "I've already had a girl come in here and give me the most evil glare I think I've ever gotten, and she didn't say one word to me! And that was before I saw this this morning, I had no idea why she did that! And Dan, well, Dan's probably terrified to even walk outside!"

Paul did his best to quiet me over the phone. "Jill, please calm down. This isn't easy for me, either," he said firmly.

I was very frustrated by that time. "Listen, talking to you isn't going to fix anything here. I have to go, we'll talk more later." I hung up in tears, and had just enough time to grab a tissue before the phone rang again.

I answered as calmly as possible, and a female voice said, "Jill Dearborn, please."

"Speaking," I responded, still sniffling a little.

The voice grew angry very quickly, and yelled into the phone, "Listen here, I didn't like you from the start, Yankee, but now look what you've done! Thousands of girls would love to be in the position you're in, and you're throwing it all away. You don't deserve him--just go back where you belong!" Click.

I still had the receiver in my hand when Auntie came out from the back office with some paperwork. She noticed the blank look on my face, looking at the receiver but not seeing it. She asked, "Jill, what's wrong? Who was on the phone?"

In a daze, I hung up the receiver. I was too stunned to cry, and probably too dried out anyway. I managed to stammer, "UmI-I guess it was just some, um, some angry girl."

Auntie got a worried look on her face and asked, "What did she say?"

I sniffled and said, "She told me I should go back where I belong, and I'm throwing this away with Paul. Wonder how many of those calls I'm going to get," I said, half-joking and half-choking. I laughed uncomfortably, trying to ease some of the tension of the situation.

"Jilly, why don't you just go home, I can get pretty good at hanging up on people!"

I shook my head. "Thanks, but no thanks, if I'm home I'll just sit thinking about all the horrible people you'll have to deal with today. I'd rather stay here and face them myself, I don't want to get you into this any more than you already are. It's just a big mess." Auntie gave me a much-needed hug as we let the ringing phone go unanswered.


On to Chapter Sixteen
Back to Chapter Fifteen, Part One


Copyright © Winona Patterson, 1999-2005.