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Lovers and Friends


Chapter Twenty-four

Anne and I were to fly directly from Miami back to St. Louis on that day, which was a Friday, and then Anne would catch a connecting flight to Madison. Before we left that afternoon, I knew I would need to talk to Paul, to hopefully make clear for once and for all that we were no longer "us." After what had happened in New York and in Miami that previous night, we definitely needed to sort things out. Since I had slept on it and sorted out my thoughts, I felt I was ready to give Paul an ultimatum. But before I could talk to Paul, I had to talk to Anne.

And Anne was not going to be an easy hurdle. Even though she had been applauding my new philosophy on life, she still worried about me and wanted to make sure I didn't get hurt. The morning of our last day in Miami, after we both showered, she started in on me as we were packing our bags. She asked nonchalantly, "Jill, I'm curious about something. Where'd you sneak off to last night?"

I had a stunned look on my face. I thought she had been asleep and had not noticed me sneaking out or back in. "Um, I didn't sneak off, Anne," I said casually. I was a terrible liar; I could feel my face getting hot.

"Mm-hmm," Anne said, folding her arms across her chest and doubting every word I said.

I clarified. "No, really, Anne. I didn't 'sneak off'. I just...um, left."

"Where to, might I ask?"

"Nowhere special, just for a walk out on the beachfront."

"Alone?"

"Well, at first." I looked down at the floor; I had been caught.

"Really?" she asked, wanting to hear more.

"Well, I didn't intend to be out there with anyone. I just wanted to walk on the beach. It was so peaceful last night, there were only a couple other people out there, just out for a nice, quiet, late-night stroll like me." I sat down on the bed and continued. "I knew that I wasn't going to get many more opportunities to go for a moonlit walk on a beach on a nice night, so I did it. I didn't take my swimsuit, I just had on those green plaid shorts and a long-sleeved shirt, and I took a towel so I could sit on the sand and look up at the stars. I took off my Keds so I could feel the wet sand between my toes." I smiled as I recalled how peaceful and soothing it was out there. "I walked for a while, then I sat down in the sand a little ways down the beach, just looking out at the water, and up at the stars. I liked the peace and quiet, just listening to the ocean. I got to do some thinking."

Anne rolled her eyes. She sarcastically said, "And it just stirred your emotions and you had to run off and find Paul because at that moment you realized that he was your destiny and you couldn't let another minute go by without telling him how you felt--ah, how romantic!" She sighed, fluttered her eyelashes and fell back on the bed laughing.

I sat down next to her and slapped her arm. "No, it's nothing like that. I was just sitting out there, my mind wandering off, and Paul came up to me."

"Oh..." She sounded a little surprised. "So, did he follow you out there?" she asked.

"Well, not really. He happened to go for a walk and I was there sitting on the beach. End of story." I wanted to drop this conversation; I knew where it was going. I got up and concentrated on getting my things organized in my suitcases.

"Alright, and then what happened?" she asked suspiciously as she sat upright.

"Well, he sat down next to me, and we talked for a while, and then we came back in."

"And...?" she pleaded.

"And what? That's all that happened," I said, but Anne could tell by my tone of voice that I was hiding something. I pleaded, "Can't a girl keep some private things to herself? I'm sure you don't share absolutely everything with me." I was talking into my suitcase, sloppily folding things, hoping she would change the subject.

She came over and looked at me suspiciously, then her eyes widened. She looked down and she shook her head. "Jill, Jill, Jill..."

"What?!" I squeaked. Uh-oh, I'd been found out by Anne Phillips, the Nancy Drew of Wisconsin. My heart was about to beat right out of my chest, that's how nervous I was. I hadn't really felt guilty until that point where Anne started to interrogate me.

Anne said, "I'm a little surprised, I just didn't think you would do something like that. I would, but not you. After what the two of you have been through the past two weeks--"

"What, Anne?!" I said nervously, my voice almost cracking.

"You don't have to tell me, Jill. I think I have it figured out," she said confidently.

"Alright, what?" I said as I folded my arms across my chest.

"You two did it. I did have it partially right. You two were out on the beach, stargazing and talking, and one thing led to another, the romantic nature of a quiet beach at night, it's your last night together, you snuck under a boardwalk, and there you go!" She threw her arms up in the air and gave me a satisfied smile.

I threw a shirt at her in frustration. It happened to be the shirt I wore out to the beach. "Anne! Were you snooping or something? How in the hell did you know?!"

"I didn't," she laughed. "You just told me!" She shook the rest of the sand out of the shirt and tossed it back to me as she laughed loudly. I fell back on the bed and lay there looking up at the ceiling. Anne continued, this time a little more gently, not accusatory. "So, why did you do it?"

I sighed, trying to find the right words. "Anne, have you ever been caught up in a moment?"

She lay back on the bed next to me, looking up at the ceiling with me. "Too many times to mention, hon."

"Well, then you should know why I did it then."

Anne looked at me. "Jill, something I've learned about being caught up in the moment, no matter how much you regret it, or don't regret it, later, there's always some truth behind that moment. I know that no matter how much you try to hide it, you still have feelings for Paul. He's got a special place in your heart since you lost your virginity to him, and I won't assume on this one, but maybe he's even the first guy you truly fell in love with. He may not be Mr. Right, but he is Mr. Right Now. See what I mean?"

I laughed a little. "Yeah, I do. Mr. Right Now, huh?" I laughed again. "Maybe he is Mr. Right Now...but will I ever find Mr. Right? What if I find out that, after Paul is long gone from my life, that he really was Mr. Right?"

Anne said, "Well, that's the chance we all take. I'm not saying that I'm with Dave because I'm scared of being an old maid or anything. My mother keeps reminding me that she had been married for three years by the time she was my age, and was pregnant with Beth. She had me about 18 months after her. But anyway, that's not the point here. The point is that you shouldn't be afraid to be alone."

"I know that. I even told Mom that on the phone when we were in New York. And I know that Paul and I wouldn't work out, we want different things out of life and all, but there's still this physical attraction that is so powerful and undeniable."

"Obviously," Anne remarked teasingly.

"Oh, shut up!" I replied. "Don't you think I know that after last night?"

"Alright, no more cheap shots, sorry. So...how was it?"

"Anne, I've told you before, it's nice. Very nice." I was blushing.

"No, I mean on the beach. Didn't you get sand in your--"

"Anne!" She laughed. "Actually, no. We were on a towel." I laughed nervously and fiddled with a hangnail.

"Do you have any regrets?"

I thought for a minute. Considering the current situation, I really shouldn't have been having sex with him. But it just felt so good...maybe not right, but just good. "You know Anne, I really don't regret it. And I don't regret not regretting it...you know what I mean? I wasn't one of those girls who did it just to say I slept with a Beatle. I loved him...at one time I loved him. But now, I don't...I don't think I do, at least not like that. Understand?"

She nodded. "Have you talked to him since then?"

"Um, no, afterwards we laid there for a bit, then walked back to the hotel holding hands, and went our separate ways. I am going to talk to him today before we leave; I have to. Something like this, you can't do in a letter or by phone."

***

After I ate breakfast, I went into the suite room. Ringo was there reading the papers. "Mornin', Jill," he said without hardly looking up.

"Mornin', Ringo. Um, do you know where I could find Paul?"

John had come in while I was talking, and answered my question for me. "He's still asleep, what'd you do to him last night?!" he teased.

Great, Paul blabbed to John and heaven knows who else. I tried to hide my guilt. "Nothing! Sheesh, I just wanted to talk to him, can't I do that?"

John gave me a big bear hug. "Ah, Jill, I was just teasin' ya, can't I do that?!" I nodded and mumbled a stifled "yes" since John was squeezing me so tightly. He let go and said, "Jill, you know we're all gonna miss you and Anne. This has been fun, having some not-so-crazy girls around us for once. I think you two are the only females under age 30 who don't scream when we walk in a room or open the drapes or start to sing or whatever."

I hugged him again. "And I want to thank you guys for being so generous and letting us come along, I've had a really great time." Ringo came up behind me and tried to hug both John and me, squeezing as hard as he could. And with drummer's arms, that was pretty hard! I squealed, trying to free myself from the grasp of the two Beatles.

Paul came out of his room. He saw the tangle and laughed. "Do I even want to know what's going on here?"

The three of us untangled and I said, "I don't know what it looked like, but I'm sure it wasn't what it looked like. I came in here to find you, and they ambushed me! I'm innocent, I swear."

Paul replied, "I think we both know you're far from innocent."

I blushed and looked at the floor. I heard John snicker. I looked back up at Ringo and John and asked, "Can I have a minute with Paul, please?"

As they left, John laughed and said, "Yeah, that's about as long as it takes with him!" They both laughed as he and Ringo went into one of the adjoining rooms, leaving me alone with Paul.

We stood about three feet apart, in awkward silence. I knew I couldn't beat around the bush anymore. We had repeatedly stated that we shouldn't be doing what we were doing, but it was obvious that neither of us was listening. If I wanted to go on with my life and not hang on to my past, I needed to make a clean break. I knew if I didn't talk to him today, that we would never resolve this. Maybe he could make love to someone and walk away, but I couldn't. I sat down on the couch in the room and began. I just blurted out, "Paul...um, we shouldn't have done that last night. I know it and you know it. It was a mistake. There it is, end of story." Whew...I sat there, not looking at Paul. Should I have felt relieved? I certainly didn't.

He sat down next to me on the couch. "Jill...you know you don't mean that, that it was a mistake."

I was determined to get this out, and forget about him, at least as a romantic prospect. "No, I did mean it. It did feel good, but it wasn't right. At the time, it might have sounded like a good idea, but it was late, it was dark outside, the scenery...I was just caught up in the moment. Again. With you. It always happens like that. I thought about this last night, I kinda felt like one of those girls at your parties, who did it just so she could say she slept with a Beatle. I really think it's gonna hurt me more if I string you along than if I just totally break this off. In a way, it's good we're leaving today, 'cause I think what we need is just some time apart from each other. I guess I still do love you, and I shouldn't, at least like that. No matter how my heart feels, my head tells me repeatedly that I just don't see a future for us romantically, Paul. We have to end it here. From now on, Paul McCartney is my friend, and nothing more. Whatever we were in the past is in the past, where it should be." I was determined to not cry. At that moment, for whatever reason, I felt the most vulnerable and scared than I had in my entire, short life.

He sat there, not saying anything. I could tell he was letting it all sink in. I wasn't going to push for a response. After a minute, he just sat back and said, "Okay."

I was a little stunned and bewildered. I was at least expecting a bit more than just one word. "That's it?" I said slowly. "That's all you have to say? Just 'okay'?"

He nodded. "Yeah...you're right, Jill. I think you know that we both had a lot to think about last night; I couldn't sleep after we got back. I was going to tell you the same thing. I was so afraid that you had fallen back in love with me and that this was going to be a lot more difficult. I'm kinda relieved in a way. I mean, don't take it the wrong way. I still love you, Jill, but like you said, it needs to be as just friends. Who knows, maybe years from now I'll think of you as the one who got away...or we'll have just stayed good friends and I can come over to your place for tea sometime." He laughed softly.

I leaned back in the couch and broke the next silence with, "Wow...that was by far the easiest break-up I think I've ever done!" I commented.

"And it wasn't really even a break-up!" Paul added.

I laughed. "Yeah, you're right on that one."

His tone changed. "What's not easy is goodbye, though."

I shook my head. "Paul, you should know by now, I don't say 'goodbye', I say 'until next time'. That way I don't ever have to say goodbye to anyone."

"Yeah, but when will that next time be?"

"I don't know...do you think you'll do a full tour of America?"

"I'm pretty sure, with our reception here already, that we'll be able to go on tour. We'll keep in touch, Jill. Like you say, this isn't goodbye, we'll see each other again soon, I promise." We hugged for a long time. He broke free from the hug first and I looked at his face. I gently kissed him on the cheek. Somehow I knew that I wouldn't be able to see him for quite a while. I knew I would miss him, but I also knew that we would keep in touch, just like he promised.


On to Chapter Twenty-Five
Back to Chapter Twenty-Three


Copyright © 1999-2006, Winona Patterson.