The night before we left Miami, it was a nice evening. It was about midnight or so, when I noticed that Anne was already asleep, but I couldn't sleep. I don't know if it was the excitement over the trip back home or wondering if I would ever be able to be with the Beatles like this again. The past few days had been spent just hanging about. One day we went to the house of a photographer for Life magazine. One day we just spent with the guys attempting to do some shopping. Attempting being the key word here--they could hardly spend more than ten minutes in any one place before people were coming after them. Their fame was already astronomical, and I was afraid that they would forget about the little people, like me.
I decided since I couldn't sleep, I could take a walk on the beach. I put on some shorts and a long-sleeved tee-shirt, slipped on my Keds, and grabbed a bath towel in case I wanted to sit down on the sand (and my glasses so I could see the stars), and crept out of the room. I had to pass the security guard's scrutiny before I even left the floor; he wanted to make sure he recognized me so he could let me back in when I returned. As I pushed the button to call the elevator, he asked, "So, where is a young lady like you going out alone this late at night?"
"I'm just going to the beach. It's our last night here, and I couldn't sleep. Who knows the next time I'll see a beach."
He nodded. "Alright, just be careful. I'm on duty all night, and if I don't see you come back in I'll get worried."
I smiled at him. "Thanks." The elevator came, and I waved to him as I got in.
Our hotel was right near the waterfront, so it wasn't too far to the beach. There were a couple other people out, enjoying the evening. I walked along for a while, humming showtunes and even singing a little when I was sure nobody else was in earshot. I took off my Keds and carried them with me the rest of the way down the beach. While I was walking along, I started thinking about all that had happened to me in the past couple years. The good fortune I had when Auntie called me on that spring day to ask me to come to London for the summer. The trip up to Liverpool to see Auntie's friend Brian. Meeting Paul and just 'clicking' with him. The summer of corresponding with Anne and Paul via letter and the occasional phone call. Missing Paul for the majority of my senior year. As my thoughts went through my head, I smiled to myself. I couldn't help but chuckle as I walked by the remnants of "I love Ringo" written in the sand near the hotel.
I found a nice spot to put the towel down, making sure it was far back enough to miss high tide. I sat there with my knees up against my chest and my arms around my knees. The sky was littered with brilliant stars. I hadn't done some good stargazing since the previous fall, so this was a rare opportunity. I sat there, thinking about all the times I had looked up at the stars, and I recalled the times I stargazed with Paul. The sky was beautiful; I almost went back inside and dragged Anne outside with me. I was softly singing "Someone to Watch Over Me" when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed someone walking along the beach. I didn't really pay attention; there had been other people on the beach that night. I kept singing the song and looking up at the stars. I realized that the figure on the beach was walking towards me, so I looked in their direction. I squinted in the semi-darkness and couldn't make out who it was, but it looked like a male. As he came towards me, I realized that it was Paul. Maybe he didn't know it was me, I thought to myself. Why is he out here? Why is he walking towards me? Why am I so--
"Jill?" Paul said as he came up next to me.
I looked up at him. I tried to act casually. "Oh hi, I didn't realize you were here."
"I didn't know you were here, either. I was just out for an evening stroll along the beach. Mind if I join you?"
"Not at all," I replied. I turned the towel sideways so both of us could sit on it. He sat down next to me. He was wearing denim jean cut-offs and a black tee-shirt, and had his tied-together tennis shoes tossed over his shoulder. I asked, "So, how did you sneak out?"
"Well, I couldn't sleep, and I figured that this is my last quiet night on a beach in a long time, so I might as well enjoy it, right? I got dressed and told the guard where I was going, and he mentioned that you had gone out as well. So I thought I'd find you, he said he was a little leery having you gone at night all alone."
I laughed it off. "Why, what did he say? I'm fine by myself. How did you know it was me anyway, I didn't tell him my name."
"I told him where I was going, and he said, 'There's a young lady who went down there as well, maybe fifteen minutes ago,' and I asked who it was and he said, 'I didn't catch her name, but she's short with curly hair, kind of reddish,' and I figured that you're the only short curly-haired girl that's with us, so here I am!" He smiled at me. I was going to miss that smile terribly.
I couldn't help but notice that he looked sad. I asked, "What's wrong? You look kinda down."
He sighed. "Well, I am down. I'm down because this might be the last time I see you, who knows. I'll miss you, Jill. And I know that there are some things between us that I could have done better, but I'm glad you're my friend, Jill. And I love you. Now don't take that wrong, I don't love you like 'that', I love you like a friend...a really good friend, a mate of mine. You've been my contact with sanity over the past year, and I really appreciate it. As you've seen, things are crazy now. I mean, it's fantastic, but it's just overwhelming."
I nodded. "Yeah, I know what you mean. Speaking as a kinda outsider on the inside...well, when I saw you perform last June, I thought those girls were insane! No offense, of course. But it was just a little weird hearing girls scream that they love your boyfriend! And on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York...well, let me tell you it was hard not to get caught up in that excitement, that energy--you guys were awesome." I chuckled and whispered to him, "Um, I haven't told anyone but my Mom this, but Anne and I were screaming along with everyone else that night, and the rest of the nights, too."
Paul laughed a little. "Really? I wouldn't expect you two to do that."
I tried to explain my temporary lapse from a composed young woman to a screaming girl. "Like I said, the energy in that place was overwhelming. Anne and I were excited for you that you were on American live national television, being seen by who knows how many people, and that compounded with all the screaming teenage girls--well, we couldn't help it, Paul!"
"So, did you scream out my name there?"
I looked down at the sand and laughed. "You know I did." I looked back up at him. "Who else would I do that for? I was quiet for ''Til There Was You', though, just so you know. Give me some credit for staying a little on the sane side!"
We laughed a little about that, then fell quiet. He was sitting Indian-style; I still had my knees pulled up to my chest with my arms around my legs. I looked up at the sky, noticing that the stars had moved somewhat since I last looked at them. I could feel him looking at me. I looked back at him, and our eyes locked. I couldn't take my gaze away from him. Like the pull of a magnet, our faces were drawn together into a kiss that quickly went from gentle and innocent to very passionate. We lowered down onto the sand, still kissing. My mind kept telling me to stop, and after several minutes I finally listened. I broke away, and as he kissed my neck, I moaned, "Paul...we really shouldn't be doing this."
He looked at me. "Why not, Jill? You sound like a broken record."
"I know I do, and I think you know why." I looked away from him.
He moved his hand along the side of my body. "Jill...please don't turn me away. Please. I haven't felt this close to a woman since...well, since the last time we made love. This is the last night we're together, and I can't predict when we'll see each other again. Please, Jill. I need you."
I laughed to myself; just about every girl in America and England would have killed to be in the position I was in. Here I was, pushing Paul away. Again. Was it right because we couldn't keep away from each other, no matter how much we said that we shouldn't be doing things like that if we were just friends...well, it just felt right. I knew that in my head I knew I shouldn't be doing it, letting him take advantage of me, especially after finding out that he had cheated on me in the past. I thought about Anne's life philosophy of living for today, and not necessarily taking bad risks, but just enjoying yourself. Besides, I wasn't getting any offers of even a date from anywhere else. And I felt so good, so secure in Paul's arms. What the hell, I'd live for the moment. I pulled him down to me and kissed him, giving him the clear message that I needed him, too.
We kissed for a while there, hands roaming, not even bothering to stay on the towel. Paul pushed my shirt up and I stopped. I suddenly realized that we were out in the open. "Paul! We can't do this here!" I squeaked.
He sighed, and looked around, still lying on top of me. "Hey, there's a boardwalk a bit down the way there," he pointed to his right. I looked at him, raised my eyebrows and gave him a flirty look. He gave me the same look, and jumped up and started running towards the boardwalk about 200 feet away. I jumped up with the towel in one hand and my shoes in the other and ran after him. I met up with him leaning against the boardwalk and fell into his arms, kissing him, still a little breathless from the run. He pulled me underneath the boardwalk and crawled to the back of it so that we were out of sight. He neatly put the towel down on the sand and lay down on it. And like the song says, we made love under the boardwalk.
After we had gotten dressed, we emerged out from under the boardwalk. We walked hand in hand back to the hotel. We hardly said a word, just commenting on the weather, the stars...but nothing was said about what had just happened. I had no idea how late it was; at that point I really didn't care. A million thoughts were going through my head as we walked on that beach. I had vowed long ago to forget about Paul as more than a friend...but when we saw each other, the electricity was undeniable. I knew that I was no longer in love with him, but I still loved him very much. He was the only man who had ever made love to me. I had always thought that I would lose my virginity to the man who would become my husband--or at least that's what I thought two years ago. But as I found out, people change. I was certainly not the same person that I was two years ago...and Paul wasn't, either. And the whole public situation that he was in almost made it worse.
We got back to the hotel and since it was quite late (or early, I kinda lost track of time), we had no problems getting back inside. The same security guard was there, and didn't say a word to us as we got off the elevator; he just acknowledged our presence with a smile and a nod. I kinda expected Paul to say something to the effect of either "let's run off and get married" or "thanks for the memories, it's been fun". All he did was give me a gentle kiss goodnight, and whispered, "Until next time, Jill Dearborn." He didn't hug me, but he put his hands on my arms and squeezed them just a little, and looked at me with very sad eyes. And then he let go and walked into his room.
I felt I had nowhere to go. I wanted to cry, scream, laugh, or just sit and think. I had repeatedly lost my heart to Paul, and every time I had almost gotten it back, it was stolen again. I knew if I felt sorry for myself, I only had myself to blame. I guess these were the repercussions of letting your hair down. As long as I stayed cooped up inside my protective shell, I was free from being hurt by anyone in the outside world. But since I had learned that I could live a little and have fun, well, I was having fun. I enjoyed myself. I had learned why Anne always had so much fun, it was because she lived her life to the fullest. Sure, she had her share of heartbreaks, but I guess it comes with the territory. If I was hurting inside, the only person I had to blame was myself. I didn't exactly feel cheap or used, I knew that what had happened did happen under my full consent, but at that moment I felt like just another girl at one of their hotel room parties. I knew then that I would have to talk to Paul and remind him that for starters, I had no clue when we would see each other again. And if we did see each other again, and I hope we did and kept in touch...well, things would be different. Even though I loved him, I knew it just wouldn't work. I felt so out of place in his world. Even though he had a career in music, which was my focus in college, I still felt like we were going in different directions. There were so many thoughts running through my head right then, I knew I would just have to sleep on it and talk with him in the morning.
On to Chapter Twenty-Four
Back to Chapter Twenty-Two
Copyright © 1999-2006, Winona Patterson.