Part VIII: For I have got another girl.

- You tart!!!- Ingrid squealed playfully as she threw a cushion at Marnie. – You have to tell us everything in detail!

Marnie smiled and put her hair behind her ears. There was a strange mix of emotions in her at the moment. Mam Sheila’s funeral would be on Friday, and now it was only Tuesday. Her leg was healing slowly, and Daddy made sure that the following three weekends, The Imperial Tenor would have some of the hottest bands around to replace Marnie’s absence. It was like having it all and having nothing simultaneously.

- Ok…- Marnie sighed. –Let’s just put it this way… the man has the virtue of making me reach orgasm when he’s not even touching me…

- What?- Ingrid raised her brows. –How did he…?

- Just kissing…-

- You are such a liar…- Ingrid laughed and stood up to fix tea. She continued to shout from the kitchen. –Is he coming to the funeral on Friday?

- He said he would…- Marnie huffed as she took the crutch under her arm and limped to the kitchen. –But then he may have to wait because Jane still has to go and get her things and all…

Ingrid stood in front of Marnie, halfway down the corridor. – He’s… he’s broken up with Jane???

Marnie shrugged. –Seems that way… He asked me to move in with him…

- You scab!!- Ingrid wailed. –You just bagged a Beatle! How did you do it?

- I didn’t… It just happened…

- I want the story!! You go sit on a pouf, don’t go gallivanting around before you hurt yourself any further…

- The voice of my manager…- Marnie giggled as she sat herself down.

- Damn right, your manager…- Ingrid pointed jokingly at her with a teaspoon. –I fully intend to make some profit out of ya…

Marnie’s face saddened. –You can have mam Sheila’s money, then…

Ingrid turned to her blankly, and walked from the kitchen to her, hugging her from the back. – God, Marn, you know I don’t mean it like that! I’m sorry…

- It’s fine..- Marnie grinned sadly. –It’s just… you know, too early…

- I know…- Ingrid grinned and caressed Marnie’s head. – But you’ll be fine, all right? I know you will… You still have us, and now you have Paul! Couldn’t get any better…

- Or worse…

- That’s right!- Ingrid smiled at her broadly. –Only up from here, you see?

Marnie chuckled and hugged Ingrid. –I love you, man…

- Love you too kid…- Ingrid replied, and headed back to the kitchen. –So, you’re gonna tell us?

- Tell you what?- Marnie sank into the pouf.

- Inches!! How does he rate? Is he a moaner? A gasper? A quick shooter?

- INGRID!!!- Marnie laughed, blushing.

- Tell us!!

- No!! That’s personal stuff!!

Ingrid threw a heat mitten to her, hitting her square in the face. – Aw, go on!! Girl talk, no one will ever know!! When have I ever told anyone any of your secrets?

Marnie was laughing powerfully. –And why re you so keen to know?

- Because he’s a Beatle!!- Ingrid screeched. – Every woman in the world wants to know how a Beatle does in bed!!

Marnie sighed and shook her head. –All right… He’s too sweet. He’s slow, quiet gentle… But I’ll skip on the inches part, ok?

- Aw go on!!

- Nope, sorry…. Great kisser, great at foreplay, not too noisy… he’s a gasper…

- AHA!! I knew it!!!- Ingrid came out the kitchen with a tray of steaming tea in her hand. –He always seemed to me like the gasping sort…

Marnie knew she was blushing intensely. While Ingrid emerged from the kitchen with a tray of steaming tea, Marnie rolled up a joint and lit it up unceremoniously.

- God I needed a toke…

- Can we have some?- Ingrid reached out after placing the tea tray on the coffee table.

The doorbell rang, and both girls jumped. The intercom was busted, so Ingrid peeked out the window, shouting a loud –Who is it??

Out from under the door came Paul, smiling like a million pounds and holding yet another bouquet of flowers. –Is Rapunzel ‘ome, then?? Can she throw ‘er braid out the window?- he shouted, making at least ten heads turn and point in his direction.

Hearing Paul’s voice made Marnie jump up with a smile. Ingrid pushed her back down on the pouf. –Stay… put!!!- She turned back out the window. –I need help, mate, she keeps trying to walk around…

- Beam me up, Scottie!!!-

Ingrid ran down the stairs to open up for Paul. He stepped in and greeted her. –Hey you!! He leaned over and kissed her cheek. Ingrid surprised him by suddenly hugging him.

- A Beatle!! We have a Beatle in the house!!- She kissed his cheek. –You and Marnie!! God, I can’t believe it!!!

- Why is it so amusing??- Paul giggled as he struggled to breathe and keep the flowers intact. – Boy and girl thing, you know, quiet common, like…

- Not with THIS boy!!- Ingrid pulled away and held him at arms length. –You are, by any standard, the single most gorgeous sample of masculinity on the planet….

- Get on…- Paul grinned his usual, mousy grin as he turned his face down, blushing.

He slowly followed Ingrid up the stairs and pushed past the door, where Marnie sat, a huge smile plastered on her face, holding her arms out. –Prince charming!!!

Paul placed the flowers on the table and walked past, gently leaning over and kissing her lips. – Knight in shining armour…- He whispered before standing up. He saw the tea tray on the coffee table and turned to Ingrid. –Got a cuppa fer us?

- Yeah, sure…- Ingrid went into the kitchen.

Paul turned to Marnie and touched her cheek. –‘Ow’s tha’ leg, then??

- A bit quirky, but it’s coming along…- She ran a hand up and down Paul’s arm. –I don’t think I’d even have a leg, had it not been for you…- She smiled. – Indeed, my knight in shining armour…

- Sumone ‘ad to get you off the shaggin road…- He grinned as he stood back up in time to get the cup from Ingrid. –Ta, luv…

- You saved her arse…- Ingrid sat down and poured herself a cup.

- And ‘er leg…

Marnie and Ingrid giggled as Paul took his jacket off and threw it on the pouf next to Marnie’s, then sitting himself down on top of it. –Ok, so what’s on our agenda fer today?

- Our agenda?- Ingrid turned to Marnie with an expression that read “oooh” all over it.

- Well?- Paul looked at Marnie, arching his brows over his eyes and grinning.

The young dancer sighed. –Well, for one, I have to go to Mam’s house, see what’s what there…

- Ok…- He swallowed. –Need me there?

- If she doesn’t you can stay here with me…- Ingrid winked playfully.

- I could use the company, yeah…- She nodded. –But you’ll be seen… Paul shrugged and sank back on the couch. –Don’t matter… The scruffs know it all, if they know it, the whole world will soon, anyway.. The saw Jane leaving, the saw me jump to get you off the road, they know you spent the knight, so…- He zeroed on the steaming joint on the coffee table ashtray. –Oooh!! May I?- He exclaimed as he pointed his finger at it. After getting a nod for an answer, Paul reached out for the reefer and took a long drag. –Ah, luvely…- He exhaled as he sat back. He then looked at Marnie, giving her the joint. –You was saying, baby?

- Well, I have to go over there, then I have to see the doctor, and then I think I may go to the salon…

- The salon?- Paul furrowed his brow. –Fer wha’?

- To fix this… thing..- Marnie grasped her hair in her hand. -Too much, too curly, too frizzy… I’m thinking of straightening it out.

- Are you daft??- Paul sat up suddenly. –People ‘ere luv yer ‘air, darling!! Don’t even think about doing tha’!!- He stood and motioned over, sitting in the same pouf as her, careful not to hurt or disturb her leg too much. –Ere, I’ll strike a deal with ya… You straighten or cut yer ‘air, and I’ll be the first bald Beatle…

- OH DON’T YOU DARE!!!- Ingrid gasped after inhaling from the joint.

- I thought you already were bald, and you all wore wigs…- Marnie joked as she ruffled Paul’s hair playfully

- I can arrange tha’…

- No!!- Marnie turned and hugged him. – I’ll cut my legs off and never dance again…

- Ah yeh? Well, I’ll cut me left hand, and I won’t play ever…

- Is it just me or is this getting really gross?- Ingrid sneered while Paul and Marnie laughed, cooed and cuddled each other. Ingrid stood up and headed off to the bedroom, looking for her camera.

Paul and Marnie spoke quietly while Ingrid was in the other side of the flat.

- Well?- Paul grinned as he fidgeted with a lace hanging form Marnie’s cleavage. –Given it thought?

- To what?

- You know…- He looked down. –Moving into number seven…

Marnie pulled his head to her shoulder. –And just when is this move contemplated for?

The handsome young man inhaled, releasing a beautifully romantic sigh. –I dunno… soon, I ‘ope… Jane’s getting ‘er things as we speak…

- What?- Marnie suddenly moved, and Paul sat upright. –All by herself?

- No, Rosie’s with ‘er…

- Rosie?

- Me ‘ouse keeper. She’s luvely, tha’ one…- Paul detected a small sense of disgust in Marnie’s stare. It was comprehensible enough. –Look… -He proceeded to explain. –If I ‘ad been there, it would ‘ave been nuthing but more shouting and fighting… God knows she may have even thrown things at us. Jane’s really not quite as mellow and shy as she seems. I’m just… You know, after Sunday and Monday, I just ‘ave a great, unblemished sense of emotional glee, I really wouldn’t want to tarnish tha’ with one of Jane’s soprano squeaks… Marnie grinned and shook her head, looking down. –I….God….. I can’t even… sheesh…- She covered her face with one hand.

- Go on, get it off yer chest, might as well…- Paul smiled encouragingly gave her two gentle pats on her knee.

- Well, I…- she pouted and looked at her fingers as they twirled with Paul’s fingers. – I dunno… I feel for her..

- Jane?

- Yeah, I mean, she’s been with you, for how long?

- Four years…

- Four years!! And after all this time, she walks into HER room and finds me in her bed…

- The bed is mine, darling.- Paul kissed her cheek. – And as soon as you move in, tha’ bed goes and we buy us a new one.

Marnie looked at Paul with a confused frown. –Come again???

- Yes, I know it’s mad…- he chuckled and cleared his throat. –But this is the thing. I bought tha’ bed all by myself. I liked it, all by myself, you know… I know it’s not conventional and all, but…- He pressed his lips together and sighed through his nose. –I ‘ave this idea in me ‘ead tha’ the bed is the single most intimate place in a person’s ‘ome, you know… Anything can ‘appen there, you can watch telly, sleep, drink, call yer mates, make luv, ‘ave a wank…- Marnie interrupted with a giggle. -… and it’s yer space, you know? If I just keep you in there, even if yer with me, it’s like…- he blushed and laughed. –God, I’m such a weirdo, aren’t I?- He looked at her, still reddened. – You see, if I don’t buy a new bed fer the both of us, I’m going to continue thinking it’s mine, you know, even if we played hockey in it…

Marnie laughed and kissed Paul. –We all have our strange rituals… I understand.

- Really? You don’t think I’m… you know… bats?

- I think all four Beatles are bats…- She laughed again and placed her arm around his chest in a very warm embrace. – Actually, I think you and I are serious basket cases…

Paul laughed aloud. –Why?

- Because of all this!!- She kissed his neck a single soft time. – I mean, this is intense…

- Yes it is…

- … but I haven’t known you more than two or three weeks!!- She looked at him, staring at his gorgeous face inch by inch. –But it just feels so right… or is it just me?

- No, it’s not just you, I told you tha’… He leaned over and gave her a peck on her lips. - I luv you, honestly, I do….

- Ok children!! This one’s for the family album!!- Ingrid returned with her camera, and took it up to her eye, holding the flash with her other hand. Paul tilted his head to the side, leaning it on Marnie’s shoulder, and smiled a gorgeous little Beatle Paul smile while Marnie just held onto him, staring at the camera with a saddened, nostalgic grin, not quite as happy as she would like but pleased enough to have Paul with her. Everything about him made her feel so complete, from his smell to his silky touch, to his smile, his warm breath on her when they kissed, his eyes that were now open to her, and every little bit of his body language. His hands, his fingers calloused by years and years of guitar and bass playing, the perfect whiteness of his skin and the somewhat inerasable shadow of a dark beard that threatened to grow. There was nothing she didn’t like, or better said, love. In silence, she pondered what the loss of Mam Sheila may have been had Paul not been there for her, making love to her in the solarium. Although it hadn’t made the pain disappear, it had given her a sense of belonging, knowing she was the world to someone. It made her feel she was needed, wanted and loved, and that she had not been left alone to the world.

Ingrid took two or three pictures, one in which Paul thought he’d give her a nice, juicy bit of material, taking the joint from the ashtray and inhaling in a decidedly cheeky manner before the camera. - There, you can sell tha’ to the tabloids and make a fortune. - he joked. –The cute Beatle, smoking marihuana in the arms of irreputable dancing millionaire extraordinaire, Marnie Drwiscky…

- Drew!!!- Marnie squealed.

- Same thing!- He grinned.

The merry trio spend most of the morning drinking tea and talking about life in general. The conversation turned to Paul at some point of the time, while Ingrid questioned him relentlessly on his life and origins. Paul was proud to depict the port city where he had grown as a place that wasn’t as rough and ghetto-like as it was made out to be. He seemed to beam as he went over and over the pictures inside his mind: The memory of a Butlins Holiday in the Isle of Mann, where he made his stage debut with Mike, who by the way, had his arm in a sling, where they were featured in a talent contest as the McCartney Brothers. He also spoke in detail of the day he met John, remembering even what clothes they both wore on that fateful day in fall. And the story that had both Marnie and Ingrid rolling around in laughter was the one about the time he and the band’s former drummer Pete Best lit up a condom on the wall and were arrested and deported for it during the Hamburg days. Ingrid went as far as shouting out like an American News Agent. –Extra!! Extra!! Teen musicians extradited due to fiery condom inferno!! Kino owner claims perjury and damage compensation after rubbery fire!! Extra!!-

After roughly an hour or two, they all grabbed their jumpers and headed out to St. John’s Wood. Marnie was stone silent during the ride, occasionally shedding a tear or two in private grief.

Nana opened the door to find the three youthful faces staring back at her. With a saddened grin, she reached out for Marnie, and they both held each other for a few seconds before speaking.

- You all right, my darling? How’s your leg?- Nana spoke, touching Marnie’s cheek.

- Fine… better. –Marnie replied with a grin. – Nana, you remember Paul?

Nana turned her huge blue eyes to the puppy faced Beatle holding his hand out.

- Certainly, pet. –Nana smiled. –Hello, Paul!

- I’m really terribly sorry about this. – Paul spoke tactfully, trying hard not to make a blunder and say the wrong thing. –If there’s anything I can do…

- There is…- Nan smiled and looked to Marnie. –Look after our girl, here… God knows she’s bonkers about you.

- Tha’s good to hear…- Paul sighed as the three followed Nana into the house.

Marnie sat by the kitchen, stretching her leg out while Paul sat on the counter. Ingrid stood behind Marnie, rubbing her shoulders. Nana pulled a chair and sat in front of Marnie. –You’re a rich one now…

- Who cares…- Marnie whispered back. – I’d rather have my Mam back.

- There’s so much you can do, love!- Ingrid leaned over. – Send some food to Africa, or something… Or build an orphanage…

- Tha’s a thought…- Paul pointed at her. –John could tell you a bit about tha’!!

The three women turned to look at Paul. –John?- Ingrid sneered.

- There’s this bit in Liverpool…- Paul jumped off the counter and also pulled a chair to the circle. – John used to go there as a kid, you know, to hide in the bushes and sag off frum school. Strawberry Field.

- Like… the song?- Marnie sneered.

- Yeh, tha’s right! It’s an orphanage. Last I ‘eard, in dire need of repair! John would luv you fer it, you know… make donations! Put the money to good use!!

- Yeah!- Nana smiled. –But don’t neglect yourself, either! Buy a car!

- No, I don’t like driving…- Marnie ran a hand through her hair. –I think maybe… I could buy a bed…

Paul and Marnie exchanged a knowing, meaningful smile.

- A bed?

- Well, that, and maybe I could fix a few holes on a certain solarium… It leaks under the rain…

- Nice spot to end up with a wet head.- Ingrid giggled while Paul and Marnie blushed insanely.

Nana nudged Marnie with a wicked giggle. –You and solariums…

- Ok, where’s the loo?- Paul stood grinning, unable to hide the reddened face.

- Down the first hall to the right, three rooms, left turn second door to the left, my love…- nana replied casually.

Paul stood there, with a confused grin. –I beg yer pardon? Cum again???

- Go down the hall, take a right, pass three rooms, then take the first hall to the left and the second door to the left is the loo, baby.. You can’t miss it…- Marnie shrugged.

Paul tried to work the map in his head. –Isn’t there a rosebush just outside, instead?- he laughed. – Seems easier to me…

The three women laughed madly. –Ingrid, do me a favour and take this tourist to the loo, will ya?- Marnie smiled.

Ingrid stood and held onto Paul’s arm. –Allow me to escort you, Mr. McCartney. An honour to see you to the lavvies, my good man.

- The honour’s all mine…- Paul said as he allowed Ingrid to gently tug him out of the room. – I thought Liverpool was the only place we used the word “lavvies”.

Marnie turned to look at Nana. –So? How do we look?

Nana stared at Marnie for a few seconds before she finally understood. As it dawned on her, her rounded face distorted into three big round o’s, and she began to gasp. –Oh!! Oh, are you two… Are you???

Marnie nodded a shy –Yeah…

- You and Paul the Beatle???

- No, just me and Paul…- Marnie shrugged with a romantic smile. – I gave up on the Beatle part the moment we made love…

- WHAT????- Nana jumped up the chair. –You have actually done it???

- Shh!!- Marnie pulled Nana back on the seat. – Yes…

- That’s fabulous, love!!- Nana whispered excitedly as she held Marnie’s hands, shaking them up and down simultaneously. – In love with him?? Does he love you back???

- Yes, yes!!- Marnie laughed. – It’s fine! What do you think?

- I think he’s perfect for you!! You look so lovely!!

- He’s priceless…- Marnie nodded. – He asked me to move in with him, you know…- She turned her face up to Nana. –You think I should?

- Yes!- Nana slammed her open fist on the table.

- Don’t you think it’s too soon?- Marnie shrugged. –I mean, I really, really want to, but… but..

- But nothing!.- Nana laughed. –Look, he loves you, you love him, you’re just gonna give it a try, is all. What is it that scares you?

Marnie swallowed. –Well, once a man has the woman there, he changes…

- He changes to please the woman, mostly…. – Nana smiled and held Marnie’s hand. – You are in control now. I’m not saying he’s your rag doll, but you can mould him into what you need, and he’ll do the same with you… It’s time for both of you to turn the page around and think of the other person’s needs… what would you think Paul wants from you?

- Babies…- Marnie popped a grape into her mouth. –Lots of them… And that’s not the scary part.

- Oh?

- Well…- She leaned her face on her hand. –He and Jane broke up because of Jane’s career, while Paul wanted to settle down, she was really devoted to her work… I don’t blame her, Nana. God knows I love Paul, but I’ve just gotten started with the dancing gig, I really don’t want to give that up just yet! What if I lose Paul because of it?

- You can have both things!- Nana smiled. –Jane… that’s her name, right? Jane’s mistake was that she was too concentrated on her career alone. She could have married Paul, had a baby, taken some time off, and continued working. It can be done.

Marnie stared at Nana. –You think?

- Give it a whirl!!

The dark dancer grinned and with one hand put her thick, curly mane back. –ok… I’ll move in, but hot damn, I’m NOT having a baby right away, I’m telling you….

- No, but you can always set a time…

- Set a time?

- Sure!! That way they’ll be some compromise to the whole thing…

Just then Paul and Ingrid returned from the long and weary expedition to the little boy’s room. Paul seemed absurdly shocked, and realized there were about a million things he could do to improve his own loo. He went as far as making a joke that he’d be happy living in the loo alone.

- And you’ve not yet seen the master en suite…- Ingrid chuckled. –It’s a swimming pool, damn near…

Paul turned two round eyes to Marnie. –Dou you ‘ave a pool in this ‘ouse?

- All the way up, yeah…- Marnie grinned, and turned to Nana. –Is Mam Sheila still here?

- No, luv, she’s over at the funerary.

With a saddened gleam, Marnie turned to Paul. –Want a tour of the house?

Paul held Marnie’s stare for a few seconds before replying shyly. –A… are you sure it’s no trouble? I mean…

- No.- Marnie stood up. –You may have to lend me your shoulder for a bit, but other than that, I’d love to show you around.

Paul grinned and nodded. –In tha’ case…- He stood up and held his hand out. – Lead the way.

Marnie stood with a smile and walked around the table, held Paul’s hand and turned to Nana. –Be right back, nana…

- Take your time, love. –Nana smiled. –You make a lovely couple!!

As they turned out of the kitchen, Paul turned to Marnie. –You told ‘er?

- Yeah…

- And did you mean tha’ what you said, about the bed?

- I meant it…-

Paul stopped in front of her and held her by the shoulders with a very broad, happy smile.

- So it’s a fact, then? Yer moving in with us?

- I’ll be damned if I didn’t…- She smiled back. –I love you, I just want to be there…

Paul chuckled and held her to him. –It’ll be great, luv!! I swear it will! I’ll go to your dancing thingies, you can cum to the studio during the day!! It’ll be fab!- He pulled her face up to him, using his index finger under her chin, and gave her a sweet little peck on the lips. –And I luv you too…

- Come on…- Marnie pulled him by the hand to explore the huge home. The first stop was the main hallway, where Paul stared, mouth on the floor, at some marvellous original paintings by Monet and Morrisot. Apparently, Mam Sheila had been keen on impressionism. There was also one single painting by Degas, a pastel painting that had Paul nearly gagging for breath. It was quite famous painting of a ballerina, and Paul had often read books on impressionism at Jane’s parent’s home, seeing it. All it said was that it was in a private collection. Now it seemed he had hit the exact location of “The Star”. Marnie stood next to Paul as he stared at the little framed masterpiece, open-mouthed.

- The Star, by Edgar Degas.- She wrapped her arms around his waist. –Mam always used to say I looked just like this one when I danced. Maybe I did, who knows…

- This… must be worth a fortune..- he mumbled in disbelief.

- Well, it better do… Money’s going to charity. –Marnie sighed, pressing herself against Paul’s back. – Although I must admit, I’d sort of like to keep this one…

- Really? ‘Ow come?

- Well, she’s a dancer. Mam said she always thought of me with this one…But it’s in Mam’s will to have them all auctioned.

- Auctioned?- Paul turned to her.

- M-hm. At Christie’s. I keep the red velvet box and the money, Nana and Tyson get the house and all the art collections and stuff will be auctioned…- Marnie grinned. –Money’s going to be donated to nervous disease research. I guess Mam was trying to make her peace with my mum by doing that…

- Well, this painting alone will give enough fer at least a year of funding, I can tell you that!! – Paul exclaimed. –‘Ow much do you reckon..?

- A lot.- Marnie huffed. – I haven’t a clue how much, but it’s a lot, believe me… Come on…- She pulled Paul. –There’s plenty of house to go yet… As it was to be expected, Paul was stopping at every corner, gasping at every bit of art. A Beatle that knew his art had been what Mam Sheila had liked about Paul, even if he did have that “ghastly accent and that indecently long mane”. When they reached Marnie’s old room, Paul felt he was in a museum. To him, it could easily be the same style as Buckingham Palace. Marnie’s old clothes were still in the closet, including her old dancing tutu. There was a large mirror on the wall facing the bed, and to the side, a huge window facing the back garden, that miniature replica of Le Champs Elyseés. A very Scouse and childlike –Cor, look at tha’ garden!- left his lips as he peered out the window. The tour went from room to room, the “scolding hall” which Paul keenly remembered because of the beautiful Pizzarro that had earned him Mam Sheila’s approval. The inside patio was of a completely different style from anything he had ever seen. Marnie had to explain that most of the house was in “Old Spanish Colonial Style”, also abundant in Mexico and South America, and that few homes in the north of Europe could be found in that same style. To Paul, it seemed like the typical palace one dreams of when young. Under Paul’s petition, they went out hand in hand to explode the garden. While Marnie just sat on one of the stone benches, Paul played around like a school boy, walking on the edge of the fountain, rolling around on the grass and staring at the few rebellious flowers that refused to die with the cold weather. There was a small labyrinth made of tall bush walls, and while Marnie knew it all off by heart, Paul had a little fun getting lost for a few minutes, guided only by Marnie’s voice. When the sky began to turn greyish, they headed back indoors, and Paul begged to see the swimming pool. With a shrug, Marnie led him all the way up the stairs. Both were out of breath by the time they reached the top landing. Marnie beckoned Paul over to a side door and pushed it open. The very recognizable smell of chlorine reached Paul’s nostrils as his eyes sank in the sight. There was a huge dome over the pool, and they could both hear the rain coming down on it. The pool was hardly ever used, but Trevor the pool man always kept it ready and clean, according to Marnie. The tiles under the water were of three different shades of blue, in an exquisite pattern of the “Fleur de Liz”. Paul stared at his surroundings, with a shocked grin on his face. Marnie had seen that grin before on footage, when the boys had first gone to America. There was an endearing sequence of Paul, holding a radio to his ear as they rode a Cadillac to their hotel from the airport, not quite believing the welcoming committee of over seven thousand screaming girls had been for The Beatles. That exact same amused, disbelievingly overwhelmed grin was the one she was seeing now.

- Cor bloody blimey!!- he laughed, walking and looking up as if he were seeing the rooftop of a cathedral. – if I ‘ad this I’d be swimming ‘ere every single hour of the bloody day!!- he then turned to Marnie. –It’s amazing!!

Marnie grinned and and tilted her head to the side. –Want a swim?

Paul frowned. –Had I known, I’d ‘ave brought me trunks…

The dark dancer walked to Paul. - No one comes here. Trevor works only on Sundays and Nana is scared to death of water, so…- she began to unbutton her blouse. –There are towels in that closet, the third from the left…

Before Paul’s very bewildered stare, Marnie removed all her clothes and took a single agile leap into the water, emerging with her thick mane suddenly slicked back. Paul side grinned and ran to get a couple of towels. Placing them on one of the sun beds, he proceeded to take off his clothes, shoes, socks, trousers, paisley shirt, underwear… and like a little child, cannonballed into the pool with a Beatle scream that was so Paul-like it was trademark, sounding exactly like his “Little Richard” screeches from “Long Tall Sally” and “Twist and Shout”.

Paul was an agile swimmer. Marnie knew how to do a whole lot of underwater stints, and both played and horsed around like children. It had been a good long year since Paul had last taken a swim, and he clearly stated that all four Beatles were “very keen aqua-Beatles”. John had always been especially enthusiastic when swimming. While all the others had left the pool and sat beside it eating lunch, John would probably go hungry , staying under the water for a few extra hours of healthy swims.

- It’s really coming down out there…- Marnie said, looking up at the crystal dome. She suddenly felt Paul’s hands wrapped around her waist from behind.

- Remind you of anything?- he said as he kissed her neck.

Marnie grinned and turned to face Paul, embracing him . - Sun domes and rain… I have to get me a new hobby…- She kissed him eagerly. Paul kissed her back and allowed himself to gently lift her up. Under the water, it was much easier to manoeuvre, and soon enough, he had his back against the wall, with Marnie’s legs wrapped tightly around his waist as she balanced herself up and down, feeling each and every movement inside her like a magical touch.

Even when Paul had been, in his own Scousism, “a bit of a lad”, meaning a ladies man, he had never gone through sex in a swimming pool. He had really missed out, it seemed. But he also knew that Marnie was the one who made it special. She was so spontaneous. He would have never expected a woman to suddenly remove all her clothes and jump naked into the water, especially when other people were in the house. She was, like he had said from the get go, a free spirit. And she now offered to share that freedom with him. How could he say no? He thought of everything when he felt Marnie come, and he stifled her scream with a hard kiss, mainly because the echo in the place would have been cause for alarm with a squeal like the ones Marnie gave. It wasn’t too long before Paul himself sank his face into Marnie’s chest and bit his lip to prevent yet another climatic moan leave his mouth. Marnie could feel his warmth inside her, floating around much like they were. Drops of water mingled with sweat, and they just held each other tight until Paul’s erection disappeared completely.

- I’m not sure anyone will want to swim ‘ere after this…- Paul sneered as he pulled away from floating… stuff. –Eugh.

Marnie let out a healthy laugh and reached for him again. – Don’t worry, nothing of yours could make me sick, Paul…- She kissed him and swam towards the steel hand ladder. Paul stared at her as she wrapped her slender figure under a huge white towel and proceeded to dry her hair. Soon enough, he followed suit, and they both cuddled up on one of the sun beds. Soon enough, Marnie began to sob, then weep, and finally bawl out on Paul’s bare shoulder and chest. He didn’t need to ask, and he limited himself to kissing her head, and hugging her under her towel, feeling her tears roll down his bare skin. An occasional “shhh” left his lips, as he tried to console her. In a sense, Paul knew that Marnie and John hit it off great because their lives had been a similar wreck, and he felt privileged to be a part of both their lives to help them stand.

After a few final sobs, they stood, dressed and began heading down and away from the pool, hand in hand.

When they reached the kitchen, mam Sheila’s lawyer had arrived with her will in his hand. As it had been assumed, the estate went in all equal parts to Nana and Tyson. During the following weeks, removal services would come to evaluate all the artwork in the house and take it away for auction. The money, however, was a delicate issue; It had been split in a few unequal parts. Ten percent of the fortune went to Nana and Tyson; five percent to Trudy the house maid and Tyler the pool man. The rest, all 2.5 million pounds, was for Marnie. A lot of money.

Upon leaving, Ingrid and Paul made a point of going out for a bite of lunch. At first, Marnie didn’t think it was a good idea since they would be seen, but Paul insisted on it, saying that the world would eventually find out anyway, and besides, he was not ashamed to let people know that she was the one now. They ended up in a fish and chip shop, where the young boy in charge was shocked to be tending to one of the Beatles in person… and even more shocked at the fact that he was as human and normal as anybody else, maybe even more so.

From there, they went over to Marnie’s flat, and they all sat around thinking what would become of it. Marnie concluded Ingrid should have it, as long as she could take her multi-coloured poufs to Paul’s. He instantly agreed, thinking (with a malicious grin) that they’d look just fabulous in the solarium. Ingrid wondered how she’d be able to afford the rent, and Marnie chimed in saying something like –I’ll buy it for you, I can afford to, now… Think of it as a present for being my best mate in the world.

After lingering around for a while, they all headed out shopping for a bed.

On the way, they stopped to greet Spencer over at Carnaby, who had literally been devoting all his time to Marnie’s clothing. He produced a boxful of possibilities, which all had Marnie near drooling. It made her want to just kick off the bandages of her leg, which she had removed before swimming with Paul and had somewhat not placed them back right. The complaints began, so they all then went over to her doctor to sit around while he scolded her and gave her a painkiller shot as he re-wrapped the bandages around her leg again. From there, they finally went to choose their bed. One thing they had in common was that they both liked hard beds, and that made it an easy choice for a mattress. It was to be delivered to Paul’s home the following day. After that, they went to the supermarket. Marnie took time in picking a nice set of bed linen, all in white and gold, while Paul dwindled in the baby section, grinning at all the little garments. Ingrid eyed Paul suspiciously, and in turn, he turned with a wink.

- I’m feeling all paternal now…

- I can see that…- Ingrid smiled a very scared grin. –Don’t tell me you’re already thinking about…?

- Did I tell you I was this close to being a dad once already?- He interrupted as he placed his thumb and his index together in front of Ingrid’s face. –Me girlfriend Dot, she was preggers at fifteen, I was about seventeen… My dad ‘ad the whole wedding arranged and all, I wasn’t cowering frum it, especially since Dot’s parents were monstrous and kept saying they’d do anything to stop the wedding. I stood in front of ‘em and told ‘em tha’ the baby was made out of luv, and thus, I was more than willing to marry dot, and all… Dad was behind me, too, a hundred percent…

Ingrid stared at Paul, wide-eyed. –And the Beatles?

Paul chuckled as he toyed with a very small pair of trainers. – I ‘ad known John for little over a year, so basically… well…

- There would have been no Beatles???- Ingrid gasped in horror. –No way!

- Relax luv!!- Paul laughed. –It didn’t happen…- he looked down, suddenly appearing slightly saddened. – Dot miscarried on the fourth month. I was at school when me dad called to tell me Dot ‘ad lost the baby and was in ‘ospital. I rushed out, bought ‘er sum flowers and went to see ‘er… I was sad, we both were, but I guess tha’ deep down, we was both a bit relieved, and all…

- So you never married her..

- No. – He sighed and looked at Ingrid. –But a part of me ‘as always wanted it, you know… It’s a McCartney thing, you should see us… We’re family people…

- Marnie will scream if you ask her for a baby right away.

Paul laughed out and made a few heads turn, most of them instantly murmuring to themselves about the laughing client in the supermarket.

- No, luv, don’t worry!! I know it’s too fast fer tha’!!- he chuckled, regaining his breath with that adorable grin plastered all over . –But this is fer sure, Ingrid, yer mate’s gonna be my wife one day, make no mistake about it… Ingrid paled, smiled and jumped to hug Paul. –YOU ARE SO COOL!!!

Paul laughed shyly and gently pulled Ingrid off his neck. –Ok, all right!!

- You and Marnie!! Wow!!- She took both hands to her mouth and suddenly frowned awkwardly. – Marnie McCartney??? No, won’t catch on…

Paul giggled and pressed his lips together before pulling Ingrid by the arm. –Cum ‘ead, let’s go see what Marnie’s up to…

Over on the linen section, Marnie was running trembly fingers up and down some baby quilts. She shook her head back to reality, but all the time she felt drawn to the plush thought of baby blankets… and of a baby underneath them. She knew waiting was by far her best card, but she couldn’t help grinning when the thought of having a child rung inside her head. What would a baby with Paul look like? Would it be white or tan? Curly or straight hair? Green eyes, or eyes of all colours of the rainbow? It was a fun thing to imagine. Paul and Ingrid caught up with her and she swiftly removed her hand from the blankets to look at them. – What did you get for dinner?

- This was Paul’s idea…- Ingrid reached into the trolley, and one by one began to lift up and drop back down some goods as she mentioned them. –Parmesan cheese, edam cheese, yellow cheese, bread to fry, wine… Our boy here wants a fondue tonight…

- I fancied it suddenly. –He shrugged. –Besides, we can expect the other three Beatles over… Might as well ‘ave sumthing we can all just pick frum, you know…

- A Beatle party!!- Ingrid jumped up and down clapping her hands. Marnie grinned and brushed her hair to the side. – Should we go back to my place and get some pot? I reckon we’re gonna need it…

- Naa… got plenty…- Paul pushed the trolley on and over to the cash register. He held on to Marnie, kissing her sweetly while Ingrid picked up a magazine to leaf through it. She read an article about, of all things, The Beatles in Bangor, Wales. She turned to Paul and asked him about it.

- Oooh! Fab tha’!- Paul exclaimed as he took the mag from Ingrid to see the pictures. – There was this bloke, a Hindu geezer, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi… real nice chap, tha’ one. Taught us bits on meditation and stuff… real fab thing, too. We went there to take the initiation course… He said we’d be able to drop on over in India later on, you know, like a meditation summer camp, early next year…- He turned to Marnie. –I’d really like to go…

It was obvious to both girls that he was both asking for permission as well as companionship. Ingrid snatched the magazine from Paul. –Aw, sweet of you! Leaving me here all by my bloody self…

Paul turned and ruffled Ingrid’s hair. –You can cum along!! Keep our George busy.

The name George almost made Ingrid drop the mag on the floor. By the time they reached the cashier, the girl behind the counter was staring at Paul close to tears. She began gagging and gasping, her hands shaking as she covered her mouth. Paul reached out friendlily and shook her frail and humid hand. –Hey la!! What’s yer name, then?

- C… Can… Candy…- wept the young girl.

- All right then, candy, nice to meet ya!- Paul smiled the Beatle smile and began to place things from the trolley on the counter. –Candy, luv, will you do us a favour? We’re in a bit of a rush, ‘ere, so will you ‘elp us out? Slowly, she began to show a very nervous smile, and her hands still shaking, began to press her fingers into the cash register. After taking much longer than she would have had her customer not been one of the fab four, she looked up at Paul and spoke a wobbly and very shaky – S… six pounds seven and ten, p…please…

Paul reached into his wallet and pulled out some very large pay notes, as well as a nice little old bus ticket that fell out. –Oh, look…- He picked it up and gave it to the girl with a friendly grin. –This is the ticket frum the last time I ever rode a bus back in Liverpool… want it?

Eagerly, the girl took it with her left hand, and tears cruised down her eyes as she spoke a soft –Thank you…

Paul used the back of the ticket to sign an autograph, and the three left the supermarket passing through a large crowd of people who sniggered and whispered over Paul, mostly.

The drive back to Cavendish took a little extra time, and the back of his head (still growing hair back) reminded him to close the windows and lock the car doors. Only this time, there wasn’t even the faintest show of emotion, with the exception of a very groovy van who honked their horn three times and waved at Paul amidst a cloud of hash coming from inside the van.

Ingrid had never gone inside number seven, but all her anxious expectations faltered when she caught sight of the apple scruffs. The fat one shouted poetry lines for Paul while the rest insulted Marnie and Ingrid.

- Bloody hell, what’s the matter with THEM???

- They get pissed off because you get to go in and they don’t, even when they sleep here, a lot of the times…- Paul replied, still smiling. – I’ll ‘ave to open the gates to bring the car in. You two stay put.

- I know the drill. –Marnie nodded.

Paul opened the car door, and instantly became the centre of attention. Camera flashes, new girls asking for his autograph, for a kiss and even sex. Paul tried as best he could to be nice to them. From the crowd, some addressed dirty stares over at the two girls.

- I’m supposed to be the bitch that broke Paul and Jane up.- Marnie huffed. –I don’t think they know that they would have broken up, anyway…

- They’d kill to be in your shoes… -Ingrid sighed as she looked at them.

- Yeah… they’d kill ME.

Paul returned into the car and drove in, while Ingrid stare up at the Georgian style home out the window. She was suddenly startled by a huge pair of paws hitting the window, and she jumped back with a squeak.

- Get down, Martha!!- Paul scolded her and checked for scratches on his Aston.

The happy trio headed across the cobblestone yard with Martha in tow. Paul refused to allow Marnie to carry any bags after the scolding she had received from the doctor, and simply dragged the shopping all by himself into the house. Ingrid ran her fingers through the velvet wall paper, and stared in awe at the huge but classy mess Paul’s home was. She leaned over and whispered in Marnie’s ear, -You’ll have to really run the duster, here…-

After a few discrepancies over who would do what, the trio began its work on the fondue for the Beatle bash awaiting. According to Paul, it wasn’t precisely a bash, but rather a bit of a meeting over an idea about expanding Apple, inviting other people to be a part of the company, and many other innovative thoughts. But anyways, according to Paul, most Beatle meetings always turned into pot parties in the end.

Marnie was looking forward to seeing the boys, especially John.

Mike suddenly rushed down the stairs. –What’s going on?

- Mike!!- Ingrid smiled. – We’re making a fondue for eleven!!

- Got half enough cheese there…- Mike giggled and rubbed his eyes with a yawn as he shuffled over to the fridge. –You’ve obviously never seen The Beatles eating…

Soon enough, the whole house smelled of cheese and wine, and as it were, George was the first to arrive, sans Patti Harrison. He followed Paul into the living room and found Marnie and Ingrid chatting with Mike. With his huge, lopsided grin, he walked over to Marnie. –Hey, dancer girl!! ‘Ow’s yer leg going, then?- he hugged her, making Ingrid gasp suddenly. – Paulie ‘ere ‘as told us you’re the new lady of the house, are ya? Good thing, cus Jane was getting on our nerves with all ‘er going on about ‘er work, poor Paul ‘ere all neglected and forced to seek comfort in the arms of all the other…

- Ok, son, enough…- Paul gave George a shove, and the skinny Scouser went crashing into the wall in between laughter. He then stood straight and went over to Ingrid. –Are you the one who sat with us when the contest took place?? –He leaned over and hugged her… hard. –‘As anyone told you tha’ you look a load like Brigitte Bardot?

Ingrid was shaking like a leaf, and it took her a while to hug George back.

- Where’s Pat?- Paul asked as he lit up a cigarette.

George turned around to Paul with a hopeful grin. –At the doctor’s… It may actually be a good one this time…

- Keep our fingers crossed fer ya, then, lah…- Paul gave him a pat on the back as George took one cigarette from Paul.

- So Marnie…- George sat down while Paul headed back to the kitchen. –‘Ave the girls outside given you any grief?

- That’s an understatement…

- I’d shoo them away, you know…- Ingrid offered.

George released a loud, healthy laugh. – Not likely. Paul likes them… Good fer ‘is ego, and all… They’ll ‘ave to get used to ‘er like they did with Jane.

George, although a bit chatty, seemed rather soft spoken and maybe even a little shy. He was charming in a very mellow sort of way, but neither Marnie nor Ingrid would have gone as far as calling him The Quiet One… He wasn’t THAT quiet at all. It had taken no effort to start getting chatty. Marnie figured he’d probably fired up a doobie on the way to Paul’s home, and was still enjoying the effects of it.

After George came Ringo. As he stepped into the hall, Marnie could hear him moan to Paul something about one of the girls outside calling Maureen a tart, and Paul replying not to let the girls get to him in the least. As the funny-faced drummer stepped into the lounge, he first stood still for a few seconds as he tried his best to identify the two strange women. He suddenly held out a huge smile that made him look just as cuddly as the cuddliest of teddy bears, and he walked over to Marnie and Ingrid. –The dancers!! You’re the one frum tha’ contest!- He sat down with a smile. –I was even at yer ‘ouse for about three hours, wasn’t I?

- Got to stop ‘aving tha’ dreaded lysergic, Ring…- George chuckled.

- I wasn’t tripping, man! I was just a bit… You know…

- Drunk? stoned? High?

- All three perhaps?- Marnie interrupted with a smile.

Ringo laughed and punched George on the arm. – Making me look bad in front of the harem , are we? Want to keep the best lot fer yerself, then?- Ringo leaned on Marnie’s shoulder. –Can’t take this one… won’t let you! You’re a fuckin’ baby, and I’m the big man in this outfit. So I’ll knock yer teeth off if you cum near us…- he turned to Marnie with a little playful grin and a wink. –Go on, luv.. let’s elope… - he held his hand out as if pointing to a distant fate. –The world awaits us!! Egypt… Florence… the Great Wall of China…

- The state morgue, if you don’t get off ‘er…- George giggled. –She’s Paul’s bird now, mate… Jane’s out of the pic, now.

Ringo turned a shocked stare with a pair of huge, sad blue eyes, first to George and then to Marnie. –Well, at last!!! The lad ‘ad a perennial ‘ard on fer ya…

George exploded into laughter, Ingrid spat her drink on the carpet and Marnie blushed insanely, while Ringo shrugged and shrugged. –Tis true, man!!

Paul stepped in from the hallway after putting Ringo’s coat away; He too, was blushing with a fury, and he grinned as he tried to repair the situation with his biggest weapon; charm. –You two really ‘ave sumthing against me today, ‘aven’t you?

- Just wait till John gets in, then you’ll really suffer…- George giggled.

- Should we expect him here soon?- Ingrid giggled

- In a pig’s eye!!!- Ringo laughed. –John’s punctuality is basically non-existant.

- We’ll faster get the three little pigs in ‘ere…- Paul chuckled. –Got spare time to dilly dally over just about nothing, so…- He sat and clasped his hands together, leaning both elbows on his knees as he huffed. –Might as well tell you what’s going on ‘ere…

- Without John?- Ringo sneered.

- Might as well…

- Paul…- George warned. – You know bloody well we’re not to discuss business when one of us is not ‘ere, god knows we’d wait fer you…

- And who said it was about business?- Paul grinned. –It’s about tha’ thing in India… early next year…- Ave you got it in yer ‘ead tha’ we’re gonna go to India?

Just then, the doorbell rang, and George stood to the window, pulling the lace curtain to the side. –Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle…

- John???- The other two gasped in unison.

- Amazing…

Paul stood up with a grin. –I never thought he’d rush over so quick all the way from Covent Garden…

Marnie sneered. –Covent Garden?

- Yeh, sent the boy on an errand…- Paul winked at her and headed out the door.

There was a tense silence in the room, everyone already wondering what it was Paul was planning. He was known to be rather a crafty person, but had never quite been so mysterious. Plus, since when would Johnny Bad Boy go out on an errand for anybody? The sheer thought of it made George and Ringo churn in thought. What was there to buy in Covent Garden? An open air market… antiques… probably something to decorate Paul’s home. But why send John over, and more interesting still, why would John even bother complying?

The two songwriters stepped in laughing over some issue or another, all the while making Marnie and Ingrid quiver with anticipation. The other two, instead, looked quizzical, almost as if they knew exactly what was going on but seemed rather inclined to wait and see. Apparently, and despite the fact that The Beatles were four, John and Paul still seemed to hold the privilege of mutual privacy, a policy the other two seldom shared. Like a small world all their own, a private boys club with limited space for two only. Even if at some times George and Ringo felt awkward, they fully respected the little Lennon-McCartney empire, and remained a bit distant. All the same, they both knew that the song writing team had something brewing, and that it didn’t necessarily have anything to do with music.

As soon as they entered the lounge, everyone exploded in laughter; John W. Beadle, it seemed, had taken full possession of John Lennon once again, only this time he had actually gone through the bother of adding a fake moustache and a bowler hat to the equation. And Marnie noticed how Paul suddenly put something in his trouser pocket, a box of sorts, after John had slipped it discreetly into his hands.

- Well, I say, what a fine, fine gathering of people!!- John spoke loudly, the most sophisticated imitation of the queen’s English escaping his lips.

- I knew there was sumthing up!!- Ringo stood with a smile and shook John’s hand hello. – What’s with the tash, mate??

- Sent ‘m out to the streets, should ‘ave worn sumthng, don’t you think?- Paul giggled as hie hugged marnie from behind.

John turned to them and released a loud Ha Ha that would have made a first class passenger of the Titanic seem trite. –Well, tut tut and all! Look at them, aren’t they lovely, now?

- I like yer ‘at..- George stood with a grin and removed the rounded garment from John’s head, placing it on his own. – ‘Ere, let me see…- He stood in front of a mirror and played around, fixing his hair under the hat and turning his face to all different angles.

John finally walked over to Marnie and gave her a strong hug. –There, now, told ya… the boy was bonkers about ya, wasn’t ‘e?- He pulled away with a smile. –‘Ow are ya coping?

- Sometimes high, sometimes low…- She shrugged and put a thick black lock behind her ear. –It comes and goes, but it’s good to know I have you guys… Paul kissed her neck and stepped to the middle of the room, where he produced a small shoebox from under the couch. –Anyone want a drink? A joint?

- Naa, no weed fer me today…- George sat down and tipped the bowler hat over his face. –Me ‘ead’s still spinning, ‘ad too much of it last night…

- I’ll dig. – Ringo stood and walked to Paul, helping him roll up at least five joints.

- Look at the lovable fabs!- Ingrid chuckled. –They buy their own clothes, they make their own food… THEY ROLL THEIR OWN JOINTS!!

- Nice sound for the tabloids!!- John laughed.

Paul chuckled and sat next to Marnie, holding her hand as he sank into the couch, placing the joints on the coffee table. –Not quite… Although I think the world might already suspect foul play…- he turned and kissed the tan-faced girl on the cheek. –I’ve got sumthing fer ya…

Ringo was avidly firing up the first reefer when Mike chimed merrily from the kitchen –Food’s ready!!

The entire committee ate on the large wooden kitchen table, and they all ate as they discussed old times and memories.

- And then Mutti would say…- John made a soto voce remark.- Nein, nein!! Ze men’s loo ist nicht! Go aus!! Aus!!!

Everyone bent over with laughter, nodding as the silly weed reached their brains with an exhilarating buzz, mixed with cheese and expensive wine.

- We ‘ad no way of telling where the men’s loo was…- Paul scratched his head.

- How could we?- George offered with a giggle. –There was none, to begin with!!

- The ladies lavvies were our dressing room…- Paul explained to Marnie and Ingrid and he coughed into his hand. – The fist and last thing we smelled during the day was cheap disenfectant and old piss…

- Endearing. –John grinned. –I take to pissing in bed to remember the good ol’ times, on ocassion…

After a collective “AAWW” and a mild rain of bread croutons, Mike turned to the two girls. –And when ‘e came ‘ome, -He pointed at Paul. –Me dad and I were terrified, ‘e looked dead sick, whiter than a sheet… ‘Is ankles looked like me dad’s pipe cleaners..

He suddenly gasped and turned to Paul. –Speaking of dad, lah!!! Does ‘e know of the recent developments?

Paul stopped chewing and swallowed hard before saying a somewhat panick stricken –No…

- Recent developments?- John sneered.

- Old Jim was really taken with Jane…- Mike huffed. –This is gonna be a bitter pill…

- Yeh, well, good thing ‘e’s not the one who’s gonna marry Marnie, is it?

A group gasp and the sound of dropping forks was heard around the kitchen as Paul –and John- continued to eat non-chalantly. Marnie began to tie knots in her head. Covent Garden!!! The open air antique market! Dressed as john W. Beadle…

She stared at Paul already thinking about what he had to say next. With a loud huff and a mouthful of cheese and bread, Paul cleaned his mouth with a napkin and stood up, walking around the table to where Marnie sat, already shaking like a leaf.

- Bitter pill or not..- He belched mildly as he covered his mouth with his hand and the took it to his pocket. –I wanted the lads to be ‘ere because I want them to be the first to know I’m making you mine, no matter what…- He pulled his hand out and produced a box, which he opened in front of Marnie. It contained a beautiful golden ring with a very large sapphire cut in a rectangular shape, with two small diamonds on each side. – I don’t want to go on like I did with Jane, just waiting and hoping… I met you, I luv you and I want to grow old with you… Oh!- He looked at the ring and turned to John with a childish smile. –Nice choice mate!

- I ‘ope it fits ‘er… It was one of the smaller ones there… - John shrugged and winked at Marnie.

Paul turned back to Marnie while everyone else held their breaths. –Marnie, luv, I know we haven’t been around each other much, and I know we’ve known each other for a little while only, but I suddenly feel like I had known you my entire life… You complete me.. – Paul swallowed, closed his eyes, and after a self assuring huff, opened them and went down on one knee, making Ingrid gasp even harder with a contained squeak. –And I want it to be forever… will you marry me? Please?- He smiled at her and began to blush. –I’ll be good!

Marnie had to remember to breathe after ten seconds. The wait made Paul begin to shudder, and he took a deep breath of relief when Marnie finally smiled.

- Yes…- She grinned, placing a hand on her chest. –YES!!!

- God, you ‘ad me shaking there!!- he stood up and hugged her, then taking the ring and placing it on her finger. –Ah, luvely… Just about right!! Thanks, Johnny!!

- Ere, don’t mention it!!- John said, swallowing some wine. –A toast fer the luvbirds!!!- He shouted merrily raising his cup of wine.

- A TOAST FER THE LUVBIRDS!!- Echoed everyone.

The rest of the evening was spent chatting about the up and coming trip to India. The one that had the complete ditty on it was George, who was in constant touch with the band’s newly found guru, The Maharishi, a small, bearded, goat faced pipsqueak of a man who apparently knew what he was on about.

At some point during the evening, Marnie stepped out into the garden. There was a full moon hiding behind some scarce clouds, and it was quite chilly. Paul and John were busy opening the third bottle of wine, drunkenly debating over who would pop the cork. Ingrid, as it was to be expected, had fallen asleep, with Martha curled up into a ball on top of her on the living room couch.

As Marnie walked along the huge and undernourished garden, she stared up at the sky, at first just looking at the moon, and finally, raising her hand to get a moonlit view of the ring. She suddenly felt her life whoosh past her. This was MARRIAGE!!! It meant the end of her life as a single woman, it meant giving up the sexual liberties given to her by right of her generation, it meant losing her father’s name, and, knowing Paul, it probably also meant babies… lots of them.

She brought her hand down and paced to the solarium, suddenly in a state of emotional panic. Was she really ready for this? Her parents had never married, and they had somewhat fended… Mam Sheila had married, and look where all that went. John and Cyn were married, and, in John’s words, it was all dick by now.

- Jesus… Jesus, this is insane!!!- She spoke to herself, putting a hand on her face. –I can’t get married!!! I can’t!!!

- Don’t ya dare back off now!!- She heard a friendly voice behind her. She turned around and saw Ringo smiling behind her. –You’ll make a wreck of the lad, I swear…

- Oh, sorry.. I…- She smiled, her usual mask sliding back on. –I was just being silly. I was remembering a quote from a movie…

- Really?- Ringo leaned against the arched door of the solarium. – Which one’s tha’?

The question took Marnie by surprise; she wasn’t expecting to excuse herself, and thus wasn’t ready to do so. –Ah, there! Gotcha.- Ringo pointed at her with a smile. –Paul’s positively bats over ya… Aren’t you?

- Of course, don’t be silly!!- She smiled, still trying to hide the truth. –We all get our occasional second thoughts, don’t we?

- Not five minutes after the engagement party, though!- Ringo winced. –I swear, you’ll tear ‘im to bits!!! ‘E’ll be on the bottle fer a whole week!! No… fer a month, if ‘e’s lucky!!!

The thought of her Paul in misery made her smile disappear, and she turned a serious look at Ringo. –Ever seen him like that?

Ringo took the smoking cigarette he had in his fingers to his mouth, and took a long drag, only to exhale as he replied. –Yeh… Once… Are you a Beatles fan, then?

- Sure, aren’t we all?

- Remember tha’ song, I’m looking through you?

- I’m looking through you… where did you go?- Marnie sang with a grin. –Yeah, I loved that one.

- Well, he wrote it… Paul, I mean. ‘E was in a state, ‘e was… ‘E and Jane ‘ad ‘ad a huge row and all, and she said to him sumthing like “If you don’t like this, then just leave”… Paul’s a proud fuckin’ git, so he said like “Fine, I’ll go, I’ll find sumone better than you, you’ll see!!”- Ringo paused and winced. –Fer the first week he did all right, you know ‘ow ‘e is… pretending ‘e’s not worried, showing no emotion… The second week, though… Blimey…- He shook his head. –‘E was in terrible shape… he lost about ten stone in a week, no joshing. ‘E was all drunk all the time or stoned or both… And then.. –He chuckled. –One day ‘e walks into the studio, face like a gargoyle, you see… Sits down, takes ‘is guitar and begins to fiddle. John’s not there yet, as usual, so George and I walk on over to ask ‘im if ‘e’s all right, you know… All we ‘ad to do was speak, and before you know it, ‘e was weeping like a baby… jumped right around George’s neck, I’m telling ya, screamed like a wounded animal, like “I miss ‘er!! I’ve lost ‘er!! What am I gonna do now??” And the like…- The funny faced drummer took in another long drag before continuing. – And tha’ was just because of a row… He wrote “I’m looking through you”, got it all off ‘is chest, and then ran out to the main office to call ‘er and beg…

- Beg and grovel, huh?

- Damn bloody right.

Marnie sighed and shook her head, looking down. –God, I’d never want to make him hurt that way…

- So then, what’s all this about you “can’t get married”, thingy?

- I don’t know…- Marnie admitted. – I just… I guess I feel all messed up. Ringo huffed. –You should ‘ave said so earlier, then…

- What? In front of all of you??- She turned her back to Ringo. –I love him, man, God as my witness I do, but… - She huffed. –How do I know he’s really the one and only? What if after amonth, I’m like… different? Or he’s different????- She turned back to Ringo suddenly. –What if we get tired of each other?

- Would you?- Ringo asked.

- Would I what?

- You know… get bored with ‘im?

- No way…- She smiled. –But so many things can happen… Love is no guarantee…

- Paul’s family values are, though.- Ringo pressed the stub of the cigarette against the crystal wall, and threw the butt away. – E’d never ever get divorced… ‘E’d be there fer ya all the way, I know ‘im. ‘E’s a good lad. Marnie sighed and bit her lip. –Maybe if we can just be engaged for a while, you know… Maybe while the whole thing in India passes…

Ringo smiled broadly. It had to be said that he had the single most contagious smile Marnie had ever seen on any man. –Tha’s better!! Talk about it with ‘im!! But don’t back off now, fer Christ’s sake!

Marnie grinned and chuckled, suddenly hugging the small man in front of her. It took her roughly ten seconds to remember that this was Ringo Starr of The Beatles, and as realization hit her, she seemed suddenly star struck. She had to bite her lip to stop herself from screaming.

- Cum ‘ead…- Ringo smiled as he took the jacket off and placed it on her shoulders. –Paulie sees me ‘ere with you, ‘ell go mad… Might as well warn you, ‘e’s a tad jealous… just don’t let ‘im run yer life, ok?

- So for further warnings I can always come to you, Mr. Starkey?- she smiled as she took the jacket by the lapel and began to walk back to the house.

- John’s a bit more of a Macca-knowitall. If I can ‘elp, though, you’ve only but to ask us…

As soon as she stepped into the house, she sensed the warmth coming from the main lounge. She stepped inside and stared at the scene: Ingrid had awoken, and she and the boys were sitting around the telly, watching what seemed to be an old American episode of the Lucille Ball Show. All she had to do was look at Paul, laughing as he stuffed an handful of pop corn into his mouth, and her fears dissipated immediately. He turned a drunken little grin to ‘er. –Cum ‘ead, Marn!!! It’s cold ‘ere without you!!

With a smile, she walked over to him as he waited holding his arm up. –We luv Lucy!!- He giggled.

For some reason, Marnie felt dizzy. It wasn’t the wine, and it wasn’t the pot. Maybe it was just the intensity and the suddenly speedy course her life had suddenly taken. One thing was definite: she loved Paul, not for being a Beatle, but simply for being Paul. But the unavoidable what if’s invaded her; What if he had an accident like her dad and died? Or what if he went off somewhere, like lord Langdon, and never came back? Or worse still, what if she got ill, like her mother, and had to leave him all alone? So many things could happen…

She didn’t fear Paul… she feared life.

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