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Lovers and Friends


Chapter Nineteen

I had been looking forward to the Peppermint Lounge up until about three minutes before we left. I was trying to hide my anger, but I wasn't going to let it spoil my night out. While we were in the car, Anne could tell that there was something wrong and whispered to me, "Are you alright?"

I smiled sweetly at her and replied, "Yes and no. Can we just enjoy the evening and I'll tell you about it tomorrow?" That was all I had to say to shut her up. She patted my knee and nodded. She didn't mention my poor mood until we got home later that night.

We danced all night, it seemed. There was a documentary crew filming our every move, which was very cool. I tried to keep a good face on all evening; I wasn't going to let Paul's revelations spoil my good time. I hung out with Ringo most of the night, even though he had quite a crowd going around him. I danced with him, George, Neil, and some other guys (one of them looked a lot like Dan--as if I wasn't having enough problems that night). I tried to have fun, and it was working for a while, but my stomach was churning (like it did when I held my emotions in). I tried not to watch Paul as he danced with the most beautiful girls in the place and sat and talked to them, turning on that charm of his. He had come up to me earlier and asked me to dance, but that's when Neil cut in, thank heavens. That's the only time Paul said a word to me all night. Anne was having the time of her life, she was sitting at a booth surrounded by guys, which was what usually happened when she went anywhere; no matter where it was, guys went gaga over a leggy blonde. After a dance with a nameless guy, I walked up to George and Neil, who were sitting at a table, all but fighting girls away with billy clubs. I said, "Neil, when does the first Beatle Bus leave for the hotel? I'm kinda tired."

He scratched his head and replied, "Well, I was planning on taking George home, he's not doing so well." I took a look at him; he did look a bit green. Neil continued, "If you want to come with us, you're welcome to."

I nodded. "Thanks, I'd like to."

George tugged on Neil's shirtsleeve. "Can we go now? My throat hurts."

Neil gestured to Mal Evans, who was standing nearby, watching over everything...now, that was an amazing feat since there was a lot happening! Mal came over and escorted the three of us to one of the waiting limos. Luckily, by this time either it was too late for most of the die-hard fans to be up waiting for a glimpse of their beloved Beatles, or they just didn't know that they were at the Peppermint Lounge. The only people who murmured were the people in the queue waiting to get in. George waved at them but signed no autographs. We were about to get in the limo when I heard Anne calling me from the doorway of the club. "Jill! Hey, Jill!"

I went back to the door. "What? We're about to leave here."

"I just wondered where you're going."

"Just back to the hotel, George isn't feeling well, and I'm a little tired myself, so Neil's taking us back."

"Oh. Is it okay if I stay here with the guys?"

"Sure, I don't see a problem, but I'd still better check. Hold on, stay here." I ran back to the car and asked Neil if it was alright if she stayed. I went back to her with Neil's response. "Neil says it's alright, just make sure you stick with the group and let Mal know you're staying so nobody thinks you're not with them." I hugged her quick and she pranced back into the Peppermint Lounge.

***

After Neil got George settled in bed with some tea with honey and throat drops, he knocked on my door. I had changed into my pajamas (actually, they were my dad's pajama top with my brother's boxers, both pale blue striped--not very feminine, but they were comfy!). I let him in and asked him how George was.

"Oh, he'll be fine. They have to rehearse tomorrow, and meet the press some more, but I think he's just a bit tired, he'll sleep it off."

"Mmm, well, as long as he'll be alright. I can give him some voice-saving secrets from my own college days, if he's still under the weather," I said as I stretched my arms out in front of me and yawned.

Neil nodded, mumbled something about me looking tired, and was almost to the door, when I stopped him. "Wait, Neil, can I ask you something?"

"Um, sure," he said as he walked back into the room.

I sat down at the small table in the room and looked down into my glass of ice water. I decided that if I didn't ask now, I would never honestly find out. I wasn't sure if I wanted to know, but I felt I still needed to hear it. "Neil, um, what happens on tour?"

He sat down in the other chair and looked at me strangely. "Well, you've seen a sample of it today. Screaming girls, press conferences, everyone wanting a piece of you...and we do the occasional concert, too," he chuckled.

"No, I mean, what happens on tour?" I asked again, emphasizing the word "happens".

He still looked quizzical. "I'm not sure I understand where you're going with this, Jill."

I guess I might as well be out with it. "Well, I came back up here to change from that green dress to the red dress, remember?"

"Yep," he responded. "I thought you should have stuck to the green one, personally."

I smiled. "Thanks, Neil...anyway, I don't want to get off the subject. After I changed, Paul was up here and, well, he was, um, friendly, shall we say. John came in and I went into the bathroom to touch up my makeup. I overheard a conversation between John and Paul that I really wasn't intended to hear. They both alluded to, um, infidelities on tour...well, I was just wondering if that's just them being silly and trying to get a rise out of me, or if it's true."

Neil sat there for a second, collecting his thoughts. He asked for a drink of water, and as I got it for him he spoke. "Well, I don't know if you're going to like hearing some of this, Jill, but I feel that you're owed the truth. I don't mean for this to sound like an excuse...but the Beatles are stars, and stars get special treatment sometimes. They get whatever they want thrown at their feet...and that includes women." I gave him his glass of water and sat down in the other chair facing him. He looked at me with concern. "Do you want me to continue?" he asked.

I rubbed my eyes. "Yeah...yeah. I might as well hear this now; it's a good a time as any. So...what, do they have girls waiting for them after shows or what?"

He took a drink and continued. "No, with security like it has been, usually they have parties in the hotel suite. And it's not like it's some wild orgy or anything...there's drinking, and everyone gets drunk...and well, to put it bluntly, the girls are willing to do anything. And they do. They'll go off to another room and...well, you know. So, there it is...I don't think you wanted to hear it, but there it is." Neil looked at me, waiting for a reaction.

I sat there in silence for a bit, then finally spoke. "Um, wow. Well...I guess I kinda figured something like that went on...I'd heard rumors about the wild life of rock & roll musicians, but I never had reason to care before...and I guess now that Paul and I aren't 'us' anymore, I guess it shouldn't matter...but if there was something going on when we were dating...well, that's a different story. Do any of them approach you?"

He smiled. "Actually, yes. I guess being near a Beatle makes me fair game! But seriously, these girls are nuts, we've had girls dress as hotel maids just to get up here and catch a glimpse...and well, anyone who's connected with the Beatles is just as important to them. It's not what you know, it's who you know, I suppose."

"I suppose. Thanks for telling me, Neil. More water?" I asked as I stood up to get some more for myself. He nodded and handed me his glass to refill.

He continued as I refilled our glasses. "So, that's all you wanted to know?"

"Why?" I asked as I sat back down. "What, you got more stories to tell me?!" I joked.

Neil ran his finger around the rim of his glass. "No, nothing specific...I was just taken aback by the fact that you aren't probing me for every little tidbit of information on what Paul's done. Most girls would be very suspicious."

"Well, it's water under the bridge now. If Paul and I were still together, I'd care quite a bit...but apparently he just likes to have his fun. If he's single, well, I won't say it's excusable, but it's tolerable I guess. Now John--well, that's a different story. He's married for cryin' out loud--how does he think he can do that?"

Neil shook his head and tried to explain. "Well...again, I'm not giving excuses here...but I suppose John got used to that lifestyle from their days in Hamburg...it's just a different life, Jill. And I know you're thinking now that all men are pigs and we'll all burn in hell for our transgressions." He was flailing his arms, imitating hell's fires as I laughed at the sight.

"No, you're not all bad...but I know what you mean. I have a friend, Dan, who used to think he was God's gift to women when we were in college. We dated for a bit, but we just didn't work out like that. As friends, we're the best. But I just couldn't stand his ego when we were dating...but when I saw him last year, he was backpacking in England and looked me up; when I saw him, he seemed different, more mature. Like he'd done some growing up, soul searching or whatever. I guess we can hope that Paul does some of the same," I said matter-of-factly.

"Bitter, are we?" Neil commented.

He thought I was bitter? I was anything but bitter. "No, I'm not bitter; I'm just being realistic. Paul and I didn't work out, so I can only hope that he's matured by the next girl. We'll stay friends, I hope, though. That's why I'm not being bitter about this, what good will it do me?"

"Wow..." Neil said as he looked out the window. It had started to snow when we were going back to the hotel, but by that time it was snowing pretty hard.

I peeked, too. "Yeah, I haven't seen it snow like that in a long time."

Neil looked back at me. "I wasn't talking about the snow; I was talking about you. Why can't more women be like you? Most women are petty golddiggers who wouldn't dream of leaving a financially successful man, especially if he's famous as well. You're definitely the exception, Jill; I applaud you." He did a golf-clap towards me, holding his nose high up in the air.

I laughed and almost spit my water out of my mouth and nose. Once I had swallowed the water, I spoke. "I'm sorry to laugh at you, Neil, here you are complimenting me and...it's just that you looked so funny doing that!" I imitated him imitating a member of high society. Once he saw how goofy he had looked, he started laughing, too. I will admit, Neil was sure a lot of fun to be around.

After our laughter died down, I yawned again and said, "I'd better get to bed, Anne and I were planning on seeing the sights during the day tomorrow, and we are going to see Murray the K, too. And I'm sure you have a busy day ahead of you."

"Yeah," Neil said as he stifled a yawn. "There's a press conference, rehearsals, and heaven only knows what else. Whatever's going on, though, you'd better believe that I'm involved!" He saluted to me, said goodnight, and went back to his room.

I kept the small bedside lamp on for Anne and tried to sleep...I was tired, but too many thoughts were racing through my head like chickens on uppers. Why would Paul cheat on me? Granted, we weren't together too much that first few weeks we were officially dating, but what about the rest of the time? Did all men really expect girls to constantly "put out"? And why were they like that anyway? My thoughts were interrupted by the jangling sound of Anne's keys in the door. I pulled the covers up over my head as she came in. She was whispering to someone in the hallway; I could tell she was still a little tipsy. I heard her whisper back out in the hallway, "No, looks like she's asleep, just talk to her in the morning. 'Night."

She closed the door and I emerged from the covers and sat up. "Hey..." I said groggily.

"Oh!" Anne exclaimed. "I'm sorry, did I wake you?"

"Oh no, I was just lying there and not sleeping...so, how was the action after I left?"

"It was fun! A lot of dancing, people around everywhere...I didn't buy one drink the whole night!"

"Uh-huh...seems you're still feeling the last couple of those free drinks, eh?"

She smiled and flopped down on the bed to take off her shoes. "Yeah...but hey, it was fun, right? I got three phone numbers, too! Obviously, I'm not going to call them or anything, but it's nice to know I still have the touch! There's Rick, and there's Brian, or was it Brad?" She shuffled things around in her purse and found a small pile of rumpled cocktail napkins. "Nope, it's Brian! And the third one, hmm...ah-ha! Simon...he was a great dancer! He was the blonde one in the white turtleneck--"

"The one who was practically in your lap all night? Uh-huh." I teasingly said.

"Yeah! That's the one...anyway, I had a lot of fun, and now I'm gonna get ready for bed." She dug her nightgown out of her suitcase and continued. "Oh, Jill...I know it's a bit late, but Paul told me he wanted, no, needed to talk to you. Is there something going on that I should know about here? Is he why you were in a sore mood earlier?"

As she changed, I told her everything. I told her what happened when I went to change into the red dress, and the conversation I overheard between Paul and John while I was in the bathroom, and what Neil had said about life on the road.

Anne shook her head. "Jill, sometimes I forget that you're a year younger than me, and I'm not implying that it automatically means that you're less mature...Jill, men will be pigs. Like tonight for instance, I am sure that Rick and Brian and Simon all saw my engagement ring, but they still came up to me and flirted with me, and even gave me their phone numbers. And there were countless other guys flirting with me, too. It's just their nature, I guess."

I was confused. "So if you have this viewpoint about how all men are pigs, how come you're engaged to be married? Isn't Dave a pig as well, by your definition?"

She sat down on my bed, and looked at her ring as she said, "If you want to be general and stereotypical, yes, but Dave's different. I don't know how to explain it, all I know is that we're best friends, we are crazy for each other and so much in love, and I can't imagine growing old with anyone else. That's all that matters."

I changed the subject. "So, did Paul say what he wanted to talk to me about?"

"Not really, he said that you might have the wrong idea about something and he just wanted to clear things up, that's all I know. 'Night, Jill." She hopped over to her bed and got under the covers.

I turned out the bedside lamp and we both lay there in silence. Someone knocked on the door. I was drifting off and almost didn't hear the knocks. Anne got up and found out who it was. She came over to my bed and poked at me. "Jill, hey Jill...Paul's here, you up to talking to him?"

"Sure, I guess," I said. I flipped on the bedside table lamp and got out of bed. Anne excused herself ("I'll just be in the suite if you need anything."), and I let Paul in. He was wearing navy blue cotton pajama bottoms, no shirt, and an untied white hotel robe. If I had seen him looking like that before tonight, I would have melted right there. But now, I didn't know what to think when I saw him. I guess I was glad that he wanted to talk to me, but after what I had heard from Neil, I didn't really need to hear any more. But I at least thought I would give him a chance to explain it himself; at the very least it would be entertaining to hear him explain things!

We sat down in the chairs and he started out with, "What happened to the nightgown you had before? You look like a cross-dresser!" he laughed.

I shrugged my shoulders. "Well, I think it's comfy, and nobody's seen me sleeping in a while, and besides I really don't care! I guess it's just a phase I'm going through." I knew we had to get to whatever he wanted to talk about, so I asked straight out. "So, you want to talk about the conversation I overheard tonight? Is that what you're here for?"

Paul sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, I knew you'd get right to the subject...um, yeah, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. I want to make sure you didn't get the wrong idea to--"

"Wrong idea?! How can I get the wrong idea? I know what I heard, Paul...and besides, I had an interesting conversation with Neil after we got back tonight." I sat back in my chair and crossed my arms; I'll bet I had a pretty smug look on my face, too.

"You did?" Paul asked in disbelief. "What did he say?" His voice was quivering a little.

"You should know what he said; I just asked him what went on during your tours, and as far as I can tell, he told me the truth. If we were still together now, I would be absolutely furious with you. I am quite upset that, according to Neil, you may have cheated on me while we were together." I choked on those words as I said them. I hadn't been really mad at the beginning of the conversation, but now I was fuming. I kept on the subject. "I want to know if it's true--did you cheat on me, Paul?" I waited for him to answer, nervously drumming my fingers on the table.

He thought for a bit, then spoke. "Well...yeah, I guess I did cheat, then."

"You 'guess'? Paul, either you did or you didn't--there's nothing either one of us can do about it now, so you might as well be out with it--yes or no, did you cheat?" More waiting.

"Yes," he finally said, avoiding eye contact by talking to the table. "Yes, I cheated on you, Jill. I'm not going to excuse myself for it, but we were on the road all the time, I hardly saw you, I'd had too much to drink sometimes--"

"How many times is 'sometimes', Paul?"

He rested his head on his hands on the table. "I don't know, Jill...a few, maybe. It's not like it was all the time, the second I went off stage every night or anything...just a couple nights when I had too much to drink and I was lonely. They meant nothing to me, Jill. I was careful, if that's what you're afraid of...old habits die hard, I guess," he nervously laughed.

I wasn't going to cry; I was too mad at that time. There was one more thing I had to know. "Alright...um, one more question. Were you planning on stopping this kind of behavior when you asked me to marry you?"

"Yes, of course, what kind of question is that?!" Finally, he looked me in the eyes.

"Well, after what I overheard from you and John, it seems that he's not obeying his wedding vows--"

He leaned towards me, grabbed my wrist and firmly stated, "Jill, that does not leave this room, are we clear?" I could see the urgency in his eyes.

I shook free and held my hands up towards him. "Okay, okay...if there's anything going on with them, I'm not going to be the one to bring it up to Cyn, that's for sure."

He leaned back in his chair. "Good...good." He smiled a little at me, but that smile went away when he saw the look on my face. "I hate to ask what's wrong, but what's wrong?"

"You're asking me what's wrong? Paul, you just admitted to me that you cheated on me while we were dating. Believe me, I'm not happy about it at all, but I guess I can take comfort in the fact that it was just meaningless sex," I said sarcastically. "Up until tonight, I was satisfied with us staying friends and keeping in touch. Ignorance is bliss, right? I'm grateful that you arranged for Anne and me to come on this trip with you guys. You're not going to spoil my good time these next couple weeks. That's all I have to say; can we just drop the subject now? What's done is done, neither one of us can go back and change what happened. I can only hope that whoever is your next girlfriend won't find out about all this stuff, and that you've straightened up by then."

We sat in silence. I was looking at him; he was looking at the table, the floor, his hands...anything but in my eyes. Granted, I had been harsh with him, but at least I wasn't screaming and sobbing like I could have been. I thought I had been relatively calm and handled the situation surprisingly well. Paul looked up at me; he looked like he was about to cry. We sat there looking in each other's eyes for a long time; I can't even remember how much time passed. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul...through his eyes I saw a man who had done something very wrong and was quite sorry for it. Through my eyes, he could see a scorned woman with a broken but repairable heart.

I broke the trance first, looking down at the table and saying, "Well, here's a deal for you. I'm going to go to bed now. I want to forget that all this happened." I looked back up at him; he was looking at me, but I could tell his mind was elsewhere. "Paul...you with me here, Paul?" I waved my hand in front of his face.

He blinked a few times. "Yeah, I'm here, you want to forget this all happened."

"Yes. Let's start from scratch, fresh tomorrow morning, clean slate. Now, this isn't a second chance at love, I've been burned by you before; this is a second chance at our friendship. What happened tonight--with the dress and all that after--that cannot happen again. I don't think it's healthy for either one of us. Understand?"

He nodded. "Um, yeah...I understand. Clean slate, right?" He smiled at me and extended his hand.I smiled back and shook his hand. "Clean slate," I repeated.


On to Chapter Twenty
Back to Chapter Eighteen


Copyright © 1999-2006, Winona Patterson.