She dreamily stared out at the Grand Canal, her head resting on her hands. “Are you really my husband?” she asked him, as he pressed up against her back, resting his chin on her shoulder and stroking her arms through the shirt she was wearing. He’d just taken it off, and she wore nothing underneath. She loved slipping into his shirts only after he’d worn them, and damned if he didn’t want her more than if she slipped into the sexiest lingerie.
“I’m about to show you,” he whispered directly into her ear as he moved against her. In so doing, let her know that he also wore absolutely nothing. They were both standing out on their balcony in the dazzling sunlight, and he turned her around, undoing the buttons slowly with that trademark stifled smile of his, separating the shirt, and staring down at her hungrily, marveling at how beautiful and perfect she was to him. He especially loved the fullness of her breasts, and the little round curve of her belly was enough to give him palpitations. Flat-chested, bony women left him cold, even if they were all the rage right now. Twiggy be damned. He needed something to latch on to.
Ordinarily, she never would have stood out there in the daylight with him like that, even though it was still quite early and not that many people were about. But this was not an ordinary day, was it? This was their wedding day. ‘And they were not ashamed.’ Funny, the things that stayed with you.
He gently took her face in his hands, kissing both her cheeks and lightly brushing her lips with his, then caressing her breasts and kissing each in turn. She closed her eyes, reveling in the sensations, mentally comparing this John to the John he was that first night he took her, almost violently, and fervently thanking God for all the Johns that lived in that tortured, hilarious, complicated heart. She loved each and every one and vowed to take care of and nurture all of them.
“When I got up yesterday, I never would have guessed…this! Did you know?” she asked him, then stroked his hair softly and kissed his Adam’s apple. What was it about that damned Adam’s apple? So singularly male, in addition to the other great stuff.
“I knew I was going to try. Convincing you was another matter altogether, and I almost abandoned the idea for the night. But I was determined not to go back home without making you my wife. Never figured you to be such a hard sell, Miss Hard-to-get. Here I am, thinkin’ how adorable I am…”
“I’m having the distinct feeling that there were some ulterior motives with this sudden urgency. I thought I was going to have at least a couple of more years ahead of me as a single girl, but I’m not going to waste my time pondering it.”
His look was serious. “Let it go,” he said.
“All right,” she acquiesced, shrugging her shoulders and stroking his nipples, pretending not to care about it. She knew him well enough to know when not to pursue something. She also knew it would come out eventually. For all his bravado, John was not one to keep things pent up for long.
“Besides,” he kidded, caressing her behind, “you weren’t a single girl. I, on the other hand, was a single man. That was the deal.”
“Not any more, buddy. If you think that, then you’d better think again,” she said, poking him in the ribs. Then she took him into her arms warmly, lovingly, held him to her fiercely. “Oh John, how am I ever going to pull this off? The most beautiful, brilliant, talented, articulate, desirable man on the planet, married to…me!”
“You had better start seeing what I see, Miss. Correction, Mrs.! You’re the one with those qualities and probably don’t deserve the bumpy ride you’ll get from me. Be prepared and please, please don’t ever leave me. I know what a right bastard I am sometimes, but I really love ya girl, more than I ever thought possible.”
“Italian women don’t leave their men; just give them a slow tortuous death.” They both giggled.
Lee looked thoughtful, then frowned. “John,” she lamented, “we don’t have a wedding picture.”
“Are you likely to forget any of it?” he asked.
“No, of course not.”
“This day is just for us, for our eyes only. Save that for the next one.” How was he managing to say all the right things?
“Our next wedding or my next husband?” she asked with a defiant gleam in her eye.
He smacked her butt good ‘n proper. “Don’t make me beat you on our wedding day, Nellie! There are two rules up in the ‘pool on a man’s weddin’ night – one, stay sober enough to give it to ‘er good, and two, no beatins, even if she gives you lip.”
“I’ll save the lip for tomorrow, then. Keep things interesting. You know,” she went on wistfully, stroking his back affectionately, “I almost didn’t write that first letter to Ritchie. Thought it was futile. Do you think we would have found each other anyway somehow?”
“I like to think so. Destiny. But maybe we should send Ring a great bunch of flowers anyhoo, just in case. I’ll never forget ‘im sittin’ there in the canteen on the movie set, laughin’ his ass off and yellin’ over to me, ‘oy, John, a message in ‘ere fer ye!’ It was the first one from you after receiving that picture we posed for to convince you it was really us.” John laughed, then quoted her in his falsetto voice, ”…and tell John that face he’s making makes him look like a gorilla that just accidentally sat on his banana.” They both laughed hysterically. Lee absolutely loved that he remembered the line verbatim. “Do you remember what I wrote back?” he asked.
“Of course, you boorish cad. You said, ‘I have better things to do with my banana, and ‘taint one of ‘em, Missy!’” Hysterics.
“And-have-you-found-that-to-be-true?” he asked, holding an imaginary microphone under her chin.
“Oh, absolutely, thanks for asking, David. As a matter of fact, me old mum was going out to the store right then, and asked if I wanted anything, and I realized that it was the first time I had an actual urge to eat a banana.” More hysterics.
“Damned if it wasn’t the best blasted banana I ever ate!”
“Ooh, baby!” he moaned, pulling her against his erection.
“I can’t tell you what those letters were doing to my sixteen year old innocence! Did Ritch know what you were writing me?”
“No, not usually. I’d slip them into his envelopes and seal them quickly. Then he’d give me dirty looks. It was all right, though, we were all of us trying to beat each other out of the same bird. Just a silly game. Funny thing was, it was Ritch and I usually after the same types. And George and I had the Bardot thing goin’ on for a while, hence Miss Boyd and her pouty lips. Girls attracted to Paul usually take an instant dislike to me. Carn’t understand it meself,” he said, looking oh so cute and confused.
“Thank God for small favors!” was Lee’s quick retort.
Her hands stroked his back and slid deliciously up and down his legs and behind. Just then, quite suddenly, they found themselves being seeped in darkness as an ominous black cloud made its way across the lagoon. The rain began just as suddenly. He slid the shirt off her shoulders and tossed it into the suite, and they stood holding each other as the drops danced on their shoulders and down their backs. It felt incredible, and she pulled his face to hers and kissed him hungrily as his hands moved down, wetting her breasts, her belly, between her thighs.
The breath caught in her throat as she looked up into his incredible light brown eyes that now reflected the color of the impending storm.
“Oh Johnny, I love you so much. Please, please swear to me you’ll never touch another woman. I couldn’t bear it.”
“’Ya see this?” He faced upwards, letting the rain hit him in the face. “This is our new fuckin’ life being baptized. You are my wife and I love only you. And despite past selfishness on my part, always have done, since even before I met ‘ya. I swear it! When you refused to come with us on the first tour, I was crazed, like a fuckin’ caged animal.” John’s face tightened up, memories of the helplessness he felt while he was away from her came back to haunt him, along with all the visions he had of Ringo putting it to his girl. “I swear, if he’d taken ‘ya, I don’t know what I would’ve done, to both of ya’. Don’t give a shit that I didn’t have the right. Do you understand?”
All she understood was that she never knew joy or happiness so complete.
“John, if you’d only have talked to me you would have known. Thoughts of that ever being a possibility left my mind after the first few weeks. I loved him, but I would never let him…not after Australia or even that night before the tour, when you left me alone at the flat.”
“It was either gonna be you or staying a virgin for the rest of my unnatural days. And believe me, I had obsessive thoughts about it being you from the first, but I didn’t think a kid like me could ever really interest someone like you. But then you…we…” She looked at him adoringly, still not believing the incredible turn her life had taken. This man was hers!
His smile was so huge and his face lit up like a little boy’s. It surprised her how happy this bit of news made him, the anger leaving him as quickly as it came. “Yer jokin’ right? After that first kiss I wanted to tell them, ‘Excuse me, but sod off please.’ Then I would have hit you over the head with me club and dragged you off to me cave.” They both laughed, then kissed hungrily as the rain saturated their hair.
She took his hand, led him inside and closed the door behind them, then led him into the bathroom and lovingly and sensuously dried him off, head to toe with a warm towel from a heated rack. He did the same for her. Then he lifted her up, his arms around her waist. She wrapped her legs around him as their mouths devoured each other, and he carried her to the bed.
“Prepare to be consummated, but good,” he said, dropping her unceremoniously on her butt.
“Rather be ravaged, myself,” she said, grabbing two fistfuls of his longer than usual hair and pulling him down on top of her.
“That too! Wait’ll you feel what I have for you, girlie.”
The room lit up with lightening and the impending crash of thunder, but that was nothing compared to the four-day tempest that was about to begin in that bed.
The “Do Not Disturb” sign had gone on the door as soon as they had gotten back from the church and only came off for short intervals while whey waited for the room service cart, or for the linens to be changed.
Up until then, Lee thought that John’s lovemaking had been nothing short of perfection, but found herself proved wrong when it all became so much more intense and relentless. He would alternate between sweet, loving and considerate to rough, aggressive, even occasionally violent, but knowing exactly when to pull back on actual pain, and always, always very verbal, which always drove Lee to places outside herself. The dirtier the talk, the better she liked it, and she was getting pretty good at it herself.
And she and John had become big fans of hot bubble baths, which they reveled in, not having quite the time or enough privacy at the flat to have a long leisurely one. Their mates really could be a royal pain sometimes, what with walking in on them whenever they damn well pleased. Locking the door proved to be a useless waste because if they wanted something they would bang on the door like children and make silly jokes until they got what they wanted, which was usually to bug the crap out of John for being the one who won her heart and monopolized her time. Naughty boys trying to be teacher’s pet!
Back on their silk sheets, they both just surrendered to an explosive orgasm after she described into his ear, in graphic detail, what she wanted him to do to her with his tongue. As he slowly and breathlessly withdrew from her, kissing her mouth tenderly, he said while shaking his head seriously, “I don’t know. Whatever happened to my sweet young virgin who used to blush and cry when I made ‘er come with me good guitar finger? No blushing bride for this old boy-o!”
Now she did blush and laugh and hid her face in his chest. “You put it that way, and you’ll stifle my creativity and make me too self-conscious.”
“Musn’t have that, now must we?” he said, as he moved down between her legs, kissing her everywhere, not missing any of her ‘spots’, his tongue wetting her everywhere along the way.
“Oh John, no, please. We just… I’m too sensitive right now, I’m so sore you have no idea.”
“Well, we’ll just have to let the doctor have a look see. Now don’t be shy, this won’t hurt a bit, I promise,” he said wickedly.
“Sweet Jesus,” she murmured as she arched up against his tongue.
“Shall I begin calling you mother, then?” he asked, his voice wavering and his hands taking on the look of a gnarled old man.
“You do, and you can leave the group and join the choir as the latest castrati, never to ‘twist and shout’ again!”
“Now there’d be a fuckin’ blessing!” he said as he sat up in bed and lit a cigarette, cross-legged and naked. “I bet I sang that song on stage more times than any living breathing soul. And that just in Hamburg and the Cavern, let alone on the road at every dive, theatre, dance hall, TV studio and stadium in the known world.”
“And don’t forget for the Queen Mum. But nobody else sings it like my husband! They’ll have to retire it. Where do rock ‘n roll songs go to die?”
“Right here,” he said forcefully, pointing to his throat, “where it did quite enough damage, thank you!”
“The cigarettes don’t help either!” she came back.
He held up his bare wrist, staring at the watch that was not there and said, “Not even twenty four hours and we’re nagging already. I knew this would change everything. This is the absolute last time I let a chick talk me into gettin’ married.”
“Nag, nag, nag, you better watch yer step woman!” he said, getting up to make a run to the loo and pointing at her threateningly, and she quickly threw a pillow at his butt.
“I ain’t a’scared a you, Lennon. In every Italian family, there’s always somebody who knows somebody with a crooked nose!”
“Wait’ll I have this piss, and we’ll see who gets up a good scare. I’ve met yer family, and the only thing they can do to me is feed me to death.”
“It’s their secret weapon. No one will suspect a thing!” she laughed.
When he crawled back into bed, she said, “So this really was my honeymoon, you sly devil!”
“Oh, my love, it’s fantastic. All I kept thinking was ‘It will never be my first visit to Venice ever again, I wish it really was my honeymoon.’”
“I should tell you though, so we don’t start out on the wrong foot…I was with some tart named Betty one afternoon. Took me for a trip ‘round the world and then some, she did.”
“How dare you! Was she good at least?”
“Gave ya a run fer yer money.”
“Well then, turnabout is fair play, darlin’. I get to be with a hot Italian stud before we leave.”
“Oh yeah, who? Enzo?”
“That’s right! You didn’t get to meet Enzo.”
“Is Enzo fond of his teeth?”
“Tomorrow morning. Breakfast. It’s time we left this room for a bit. I need a break from big Johnny.”
John gave her his narrow eyed threatening squint. She laughed, turned off the bedside lamp and cuddled up under his arm. They drifted off to sleep as he repeatedly stroked her arm and kissed her forehead.
“Wakey, wakey,” she said, poking him in the ribs. “I made a call. Enzo will be at Café San Marco in half an hour.”
“Yer kiddin’ me, right?”
“No, get a move on,” she prodded, thoroughly enjoying his jealous streak.
It had been four days since they were out and the sunlight was glaring down on the Piazza. From where they sat at their table, they could see the entire edifice and medieval spires of the cathedral where they took their vows. It was so breathtakingly beautiful and she was so happy and proud that it had taken place there. They looked to each other and smiled and kissed.
“I’ll never forget a moment of it, John. I never thought you had quite that much romance in you.”
“Surprise, surprise! Now what are we gonna do when we get home, wife?”
“I don’t want to be walkin’ into a room to George pawin’ at me wife.”
She thought about it, and decided he was right. That behavior, though a bit unconventional and unique to them, did seem unbecoming now that she was a married woman. But how can there be such an abrupt change without spilling the beans?
Her face was authoritative and smug. “This is a big, bad secret, John. Nothing can change. Besides, you didn’t like it much before, either.” She loved pushing his buttons.
“Yeah, and his usual answer to me was, ‘She’s not yer wife, ye old wanker!’ Well now I got the paper and a worn down nub of a dick to prove that ya are!”
Lee laughed hysterically and pointed at him. “It’s what you get for taunting him so much when he was a kid.”
“Chrissake, babe! Paul brought in this thirteen year old albatross ‘round me neck, fuck knows how old ‘e was! Followed me ‘round like a puppy, ‘e did. If I stopped short ‘e disappeared up me areshole.”
“He loves you so much, John.”
He smiled smugly, his look of satisfaction complete.
“You love him too, admit it!” she demanded.
“Yeah, I do,” he said quietly. A waiter came over to take their orders. John ordered breakfast for them and then Lee beckoned the waiter down to her and whispered in his ear. John looked at her warily.
“I told him to go inside and see if Enzo was here yet.”
“Enzo again!” he said testily.
“He’ll be right out” she said slyly.
“Bellisima! Finamente, you come back!” John heard the man bellow from behind his head.
“Enzo!” Lee got up and extended her arms in an embrace. John got up immediately and turned to face a possible confrontation and then looked way down into Enzo’s pleasant small round face. He was all of five feet nothin’. Then John patted Enzo’s shiny bald pate and smiled broadly and turned to Lee.
“The cheek on you!” he whispered through his smile.
“Don’t be so sure, these little guys can be deceiving. This is my kinda man!”
“So Enzo,” John said, arms folded in front of him, feigning anger, “you’ve been flirting with my woman?” John’s look was threatening and funny at the same time.
“Just-a a little bit,” Enzo held up his thumb and forefinger. “She is so beautiful, no?”
“She is so beautiful, yes,” John emphasized.
“Enzo, questo e’ mio amore, Giovanni.”
Enzo waved his forefinger at her in admonishment. “You no tell me, e molto molto grande uomo!” Enzo was about to summon all his friends over.
“No, no Enzo, please. It is a big secret we are here, okay? We are leaving tomorrow and don’t want any problems,” Lee implored.
“Okay, okay, but-a you please sign-a you name for me?” He produced a café menu for John to sign. “I got-a Frank Sinatra too!” Enzo stated proudly.
“Oh, this one goes on the bottom of the old shit pile, then?” John challenged him.
“Oh, no! You are a great, great man!” He then turned the menu and pen over to Lee. “You sign-a too, bella.”
“You are my friend.
And this-a man love you. I
see.” Enzo pointed to his own
eyes knowingly. Lee smiled
delightedly and wrote a short line and signed – Lena Mauro, con amore.
“That’s not yer name, lady,” John reprimanded in a whisper.
“Yes it is,” Lee said sadly.
When Enzo walked away to see to their breakfast, John took a box from his pocket, removing a long gold chain. Lee watched as he removed his wedding ring, placing it on the chain. He reached across the table for her left hand, removing hers as well, and slid it onto the chain. He then slipped the chain over her head and pulled her blouse forward, and they disappeared in her cleavage.
“Those tits should keep ‘em warm enough,” he said as she stared down at her finger sadly.
“John…” she said, on the verge of tears. Her sapphire ring had been relegated to her right hand and she was about to switch it back to her left hand.
“Don’t bother, I’ve got a replacement,” he said. He then placed a most beautiful round diamond solitaire on the finger that had just held her wedding band. “One step at a time, I figure. That should hold Daddy for a bit, doncher think? So, will you marry me? Again?”
“Nope, sorry. I am married.”
“And don’t you ferget it!”
“Is this for everyone to know?” she asked, staring down at the diamond on her left hand.
“Only the immediate world.”
“It’s blinding me, John. So beautiful. Thank you for doing this, it will please my parents a lot. You do know, I hope, that I didn’t expect you to…”
“If you were marrying Joe Schmo from the Lower East Side, you’d expect one, wouldn’t ya?”
“That’s a different place, a different set of values, where that’s all working class people can hope for to feel to be held in high esteem. We’re so much beyond that. The more you have, the less you seem to need those trappings. At least that’s the way I feel. Just being with you…” Her voice trailed off.
John mentally patted himself on the back for having the wisdom to see into this girl’s heart from the first.
“Did you buy this in London too?” she wanted to know.
“Yeah, Brian knew. I had him get a selection over to the office from Asprey’s for me to choose from. But the wedding bands, I went out and bought those on me own in a little shop in Chelsea. No one knows about those ‘cept us. I wore me glasses and the old man in the shop didn’t know me from Adam. He was a funny old codger.”
Oh God, did he have any idea how much she adored him, loved him, ached for him?
“Yes, I will marry you again. And again, as often as is necessary. One step at a time,” she repeated as she laced her fingers in his.
“But you can start behavin’ like a wife, ya know. What’s mine is yours.”
“I’m not a gold digger, John. I don’t care about…”
“If I thought that, you’d a been out after that first tour. When we get home, I want you to look for a house for us. They can’t see my face, the bloody price will triple!”
“House? John, no, I like things the way they are for now.”
“Ring has one, Paul has one and George has been making some noise. We’ll need one eventually fer our little eye-tie brats.” He eyed her slyly. “Don’t worry, we’ll always have the flat, but we’ll also have our own retreat. And I want a swimmin’ pool. Look for one out where Ring is – not in town. Paul’s always got them lined up outside the gate, watchin’ all the comins’ and goins’, just a tube ride away. It’s probably in the friggin’ tour guidebooks. We need to be alone once in a while, where no one can find us.”
John’s face changed, reminding her that there was something definitely on his mind that he was not ready to share -- something that was scaring him, and making him not quite himself. She squeezed his hand. “John, talk to me.”
“We just got engaged. What, no kiss, no nothin’?”
“We got engaged in Bournemouth,” she corrected him. “It’s married we be. But if it’s a kiss ye’ll be wantin’ sir, it’s kissin’ ye’ll be gettin’! Can ye handle me?” she asked, getting up and sitting on his lap, her arms lovingly around his neck, staring down her nose at him as he’d done to her about a thousand times, making her weak and wet.
“Oh, sweet mother ‘o god, I created a feckin’ monster, I did. Where’s my sweet little girl?”
“She’ll be waiting in the hotel room, in her ruffled knickers and Mary Janes,” she whispered hotly into his ear. “You’ll be seeing her right before our dinner with the Archbishop.”
“Fuckin’ ‘ell! Give it over,” he said taking her mouth, nothing but pure love being felt by them both. Enzo then emerged with their breakfast tray, placing it all on the table, as he cleared his throat. Lee laughed and reached into her bag and asked, “Enzo, per favore, take our picture with the Basilica right behind us?”
“Beautiful church, no?” Enzo asked.
“The most beautiful church in the whole world,” Lee sighed. and she kissed John’s warm mouth. Enzo snapped away, Lee raised her engagement ring so it showed in some of the shots, John kissed her hand, and Lee asked one of the waiters to take a picture of them with Enzo, which she promised to send him.
On the way home from the airport, they both crowded into the front seat with Mal, chattering on about their trip, how great it had all been. Lee showed off her engagement ring, for which she got a big kiss and he got a “Lucky bugger,” then Mal quickly added, “Boss,” after John shot him a look.
“We all have to go next year, Malcolm,” Lee said enthusiastically, “for Carnival. It’ll be a blast!”
“I’m ready,” Mal said. Lee’s enthusiasm was contagious. Then he asked, “Did you have enough medication?”
“All right here. Hardly touched it,” John said, producing a plastic bag with lots of joints and a few pills from his inside coat pocket. She’d only shared a couple of joints with him late one night when he seemed a little wired and couldn’t sleep.
Mal gave Lee a sideways glance. “Good job, luv.”
“Thank you,” she said smugly, taking a mock bow.
“So what’d we miss?” John wanted to know. They’d made a point this time of not getting the English newspapers or looking at silly Italian T.V., which made them convulse with laughter every time they turned it on. The only thing John seemed to enjoy were the American cartoons that were over-dubbed in Italian.
“Paul’s anxious to begin on the album, in a very work-a-holic mood,” Mal informed them. “Have yer work cut out fer ye if you don’t have anything on the back burner, John…”
“Well, I’ve had me hands full,” John said, kissing Lee. “But I have got a couple…”
“…George has three songs.”
“Three? Are they good?”
Mal hesitated before answering. “Yeah, pretty good. And he finished off that bitch and moan one you were helping him with, the one about the taxman.”
“Good. I like that one. It’s got balls. Anything else?”
“Oh, yeah,” Mal smiled.
He reached over into the glove box and pulled out one of the more
popular fan magazines, and handed it over to Lee. “You’re a hit, darlin’.
They actually got this supplemental pull-out placed in their latest
issue so they could scoop all the other mags you gave interviews to.”
On the cover was a sticker which said “In this issue…special
pull-out with exclusive pix and interviews with John Lennon and the new love
of his life.”
“The others should all be out soon, and I’m sure it will be more of the same. The office has been inundated with mail about you and Lee, most of it good. They love her. The interview turned out great, they love her self-deprecating humor and how she kidded with you and knocked you down a peg or two. They think you’re both a riot together. And the pictures of you both are amazing. They really captured you and your love for each other. Brian was very pleased.”
Lee hesitantly opened the ten-page pull-out and stared at the beautiful color photos herself at John’s side, turning the pages one by one, laughing at the one where she had her hands wringing his neck. “I didn’t know that they snapped that! Oh God,” she laughed. The next to last picture was one of them kissing on the lips, but quite funny because they were very puckered, their bodies quite far away from each other and not at all threatening to any girls harboring their John fantasies. The very last one on the back cover was very sweet, John standing behind her, arms enfolding her, lightly kissing her cheek, his eyes closed and looking totally in love. The caption underneath was a quote by John…”The two best things that ever happened to me – The Beatles and her, not necessarily in that order.”
Lee looked to John intently. “What do you think?” she asked timidly.
“They’re wonderful. I’m very proud of you,” he whispered and squeezed her hand.
When they got to the building, Mal told them to go on up, he would see to all their baggage. Upon entering the building, Frank the doorman said, “Welcome home, Mr. Lennon, Miss Mauro. Oh, Mr. Lennon, I just signed for this for you, not twenty minutes ago.” He handed John a large brown envelope. John noted the handwriting and his face tightened up.
“Who brought this, Frank?”
“Bloke in a courier service uniform. Different one from the last time, though.”
“What is it, babe?” Lee asked, as they stepped onto the lift.
“Dunno,” John said dismissively. She knew he was lying.
Lee used her key to let them into the flat and they could hear dim conversation floating from the kitchen. They tiptoed in as quietly as they could and found George and Paul sitting at the kitchen table, shirtless and in their briefs, among the clutter of dirty dishes, teacups, the newspapers and odd papers scrawled with lyrics. An acoustic guitar was left standing against a chair. Paul had his legs sprawled atop the table – a lovely sight.
“Don’t get up,” she said dismissively.
“’Ey!” Paul yelled delightedly, getting up and enfolding her in a bear hug, then extending his arms to John, patting his back. “God, we missed ‘ya!”
“Time got away from us, I woulda dressed for the occasion,” George drawled as he took her in his arms and kissed her lips sweetly.
“Yeah,” John said, “ye might’ve at least changed yer drawers!”
“This is more dressed than I’ve seen you in a week!” Lee reminded him.
“Never mind,” John said, “yer lookin’ at a woman betrothed and ye’ll treat ‘er with respect!”
“Always have done,” George said, and reached over to the chair next to him to grab a tie hanging there, putting it ‘round his neck and pulling at the knot and letting it hang against his bare chest and extended his arms for effect. Lee laughed and hugged him to her affectionately.
“Good God, girl, we missed you loads – him we could do without for a bit, but you – never!”
“Look what you slobs did to my kitchen!” she said, grimacing at the petrified eggs and bacon left sitting in a pan on the table, and the mess in general.
“Just because he put a diamond on that finger don’t mean you get to boss us all, missy!” Paul teased.
“Bugger that, she’s still not ‘is wife. How much time ‘ave we got, luv?” George whispered out loud to her.
She and John exchanged an amused knowing look. John shot at him, “Not much, Georgie Porgie, so make yer move quick and make it good. See where it gets you!”
George gave John a nasty dismissive look and hugged Lee close. John stuck his hands between their midsections and parted them saying, “Leave room for the Holy Ghost, and put some friggin’ pants on, ‘cause if I see any stirrings, I’ll bloody ‘ya!”
“So you all know already about my ring, do ‘ya?” Lee asked, waving it so it caught the light from the overhead fixture.
“Of course,” Paul confided. “You know what a total gossip Mary is. Couldn’t wait to tell us as soon you two were on the plane. Good thing Bri loves you, Lee. He probably would nail any other woman to the cross for stealing his Johnny’s heart,” Paul giggled with conspiratorial glee.
John jumped in immediately. “As I recall, ‘e had ‘is eye on yer crotch as well, cutie, but when it came time to the work gettin’ done, keepin’ it in line, who ‘ad to do it?”
“You did, Johnny!” George and Paul said at once, as if speaking to the headmaster, and the two of them and Lee laughed hysterically.
“He always did look out for us impressionable young lads,” George chided.
“Fuckers!” John smiled. “Need to have a piss, if you don’t mind,” he said as he left the room. That envelope never left his hands, Lee noticed.
John locked himself in the loo and quickly tore at the flap. It was definitely written in the same hand as the last one, which arrived a few days before their trip to Venice. That one had contained that photo spread of Lee that appeared in the tabloid that upset her so much and a note:
“I’m on to you and your dirty secrets,
John. You know me.
watching you a long time, waiting patiently. Time is near. Don’t
At the time, he didn’t know what to make of it. Was it a deranged fan, someone who had it in for Lee? Or was it some bastard trying to shake him down for some money, knowing what a scandal it would cause if word got out how young she was when she came to stay with them? He had no way of knowing, and decided not to broach the subject with Brian yet, knowing full well that their trip abroad would have been cancelled in a heartbeat.
He weighed his options carefully and decided that he had to protect Lee at all costs, make her legally, safely and respectably married to him. No one would dare question that his intentions were anything but honorable, no matter what they think they found out about the living arrangements around here. Nothing could be proven. She was now his wife, done absolutely properly in the Roman Catholic Church, presided over by the Archbishop of Venice, no less. Now that was a tremendous stroke of luck! And now he was their friend into the bargain. Let them just try and fuck that up!
He felt bad if Lee had to tell her parents that they secretly married without their blessing, but he knew absolutely that the alternative would cause far more pain for her. If worse came to worse, he would go to her father and beg his forgiveness, but assure him that he couldn’t keep his hands off his daughter and did make sure he married her properly, in the only way they would approve. That was the best he could do right now for all concerned. He was sure they would forgive them. She was his wife now, and fuck it all, he didn’t care if they couldn’t see how much they loved each other.
He was glad now they did those interviews before they left and he wasn’t giving anyone a bloody shilling as hush money. He’d call a press conference and introduce his wife to the world, and let the chips fall where they may.
Now what was in this fucking envelope?
He stuck his hand in and pulled out a folder. He gasped when he saw the first of three 8 x 10 photos. The picture was taken in semi-darkness, and if he hadn’t just lived it, he would have had to take a second look. But he knew it was them, standing naked on their balcony at the Danieli, kissing, the rain cascading down their backs. Why had he removed the shirt from her back? Damn it all to hell! From the angle, he could tell the picture was taken from the street, almost as if the photographer had just happened upon them. But he couldn’t have. John knew now for sure that they had a stalker on their hands. He followed them there from London, found out where they were somehow. John wondered now if he was there the whole time, or just got lucky that day.
The second picture was a bit later, their hair was quite saturated and obliterating their faces. These could be anyone, no one could say with absolute certainty that this was them. Even the first one was iffy, it had gotten so dark, and it was a side view of their bodies, pressed against each other. Why wasn’t there one from earlier, when the sun was out? Maybe the bastard had just arrived and got lucky? Maybe he had some but they were of no interest to him because he hadn’t removed her shirt until it started to rain.
In the third, she couldn’t be seen, she was already through the door, pulling him in by the hand, but his natural state of tumescence clearly visible. Fuck, fuck, fuck! Lee’s dad could never see these, even though they were already married. Oh baby, I’m so sorry. What have I gotten you into?
Right behind the pictures was the note:
“So lovely. It won’t be long now.”
He needed help, and now.
This was a threat – a definite threat against her. He knew if he had this sick bastard in front of him right now he’d kill him dead with his bare hands. He didn’t know what to do. Did he show this stuff to someone? Brian? The police? He didn’t know where to begin. He didn’t want these photos getting in the wrong hands. Should he tell the boys they got married? They’d be upset they weren’t let in on it. He should have, but he was winging it himself, not sure how any of it was going to turn out.
One thing was for sure. He was not going to let her out of his sight for a minute. He’d have to keep Mal nearby as well, he was a formidable presence, but he’d have to confide in him, wouldn’t he? Jesus.
Mal was huffing and puffing as he lugged in the last of their baggage and the many parcels that Lee managed to buy up on their last day there. She had not left out gifts for everyone, including the girls in Brian’s office. John could hear Lee still yapping away in the kitchen with the boys, and quickly grabbed Mal’s arm and ushered him outside into the hall, both of the envelopes from the scum bastard in his hand.
“Thanks for the dance,” Mal said, laughing. “What’s up?”
“Upstairs, quick,” John said, pushing him forward. “Is Nell at home?”
“Nah, havin’ ‘imself an extended lost weekend with some bird. Should be home tonight.”
“Right,” John said when Mal unlocked the upstairs door, “we have a problem and I need your help. Some loon might be after Lee.”
“What ‘da ya mean? After ‘er?” Mal asked with concern and apprehension.
“I mean, after her. Wha’d’ya think I mean? Might want to hurt her. Could be money, I don’t know,” John said with mounting frustration and anger. “’ere, have a look.” he said, reaching into the first envelope and handing over the tabloid spread and the note.
Mal then looked at him with dread and said, “And that one?”
“You don’t need to see this one.” John said with determination. “It’s pretty much more of the same.”
“Like ‘ell it is,” Mal quickly cut in, and grabbed the envelope. John put up a struggle, but Mal was a brute and he hadn’t a chance. Besides, he really did need someone else to share this burden with.
Mal’s eyes bore into John’s with serious resignation.
“Not a word!” John warned him, grabbing away the photos and stuffing them back into the envelope quickly.
“What do you take me for, John?” After a brief silence, Mal said, “What do you need me to do?”
“Take care of her Mal. Don’t let anyone hurt her, please.”
“Does she know?”
”No. And she’s so headstrong and independent I don’t know how to protect her. What can we do, shadow her twenty four hours a day?”
Mal stood there a few moments, mulling it over, then placed a reassuring hand on John’s shoulder and said, “Don’t worry. We’ll work it out, but we can’t do it alone. Neil and Brian should know, and the boys too. Not only could they be of help, but you never know, any of you could be in danger, be used as bait or a trap in order to get to her. You could all be targets, John. This looks like one demented shite we’re dealing with.”John felt immediate relief that this burden was no longer solely on his shoulders and that he was not alone.
Part Two Coming Soon!
Lena King a New York State Supreme Court
Clerk, and she loves her job. In a prior incarnation she worked as a
secretary and married quite young (twenty) to a Beatle person (twenty-one),
a match made in Beatle heaven, or so she thought. Would you believe
his birthday was July 7th? Typically, he had is mid-life crisis at
thirty. He got his new trollop and she got their beautiful daughter,
who ironically, is now twenty years old. She knows almost as much
about the Fabs as her mother does, whether she likes it or not. (She
does.) "How did they get outside the train mommy?" she
giggled at four. She's been spoon fed the stuff ever since.
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