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Chapter 9
Beyond the Reaches of Fame

Instead of making a mad dash to the elevator, I looked around the picturesque hotel lobby. A beautiful chandelier hung from the eggshell white ceiling, painting thousands of miniature rainbows against the walls. The architecture was classic in style, high ceiling, and airy to be more technical, but a cozy feeling nonetheless. The usual bellhops marched up and down the corridors waiting hand and foot for the usual ungrateful tourist. Although their service was astounding, most tourist are too stingy to spend more than they have to considering it is a luxury to stay in Paris and especially this hotel. Although a distinct change of aura can be sensed when a man of money enters the echoing halls, he throws money around like leaves off the trees in winter. Everyone grovels at his feet from the manager to the lowliest of bellhops whose whole paycheck is dependent on such "benevolent" souls.

In the center of the room was a rather large fountain whose spewing waters only added to the number of rainbows the chandelier created. I stared in awe at the beautiful woman much too real to be made of stone. It could have been done be Leonardo de Vinci himself I reasoned as I looked at the vivid detail put into one of the roses. I sat on the edge to get a closer look intrigued or I suppose compelled to find a crack or even a chip that could take away from the perfection that lay before me.

"Sir," whispered the bearably audible woman behind me.

"What?" I returned hastily looking to see whom this was interrupting my concentration.

"I don't think that was necessary, Paul," she said as her voice escalated in volume.

"Annabel," I gasped in confusion recognizing the jet-black hair and sea green eyes.

"I only came to tell you that you're not allowed to sit on the fountain and that you will have to move onto a chair over there," she pointed.

I stared dumbfoundedly for several seconds before I could get anything audible to pass my lips.

"We're havin' a party tonight and I though that you might like to join us?" I smiled.

"Sorry I can't make it I have to work," she said unenthusiastically, "but then again I'm sure that it would be more entertaining than a party with your sort."

"Why are you so cross with me anyway?" I stiffened as my rage began to rise.

"It is completely natural to have resentful feeling for someone who used you like a pawn on a chess board to achieve better things," she replied sternly, "but then again I don't plan on stooping to your level any time soon so I will exit gracefully and you will never have to see me again. You're the one who's going to get hurt in the long run anyway."

"Me? Get hurt? I doubt it," I cried.

"You're playing a dangerous game, Paul and the outcome is predetermined. The matter now is how long you can keep it up. Trust me the longer you do the more it's going to crush you when you fall," Annabel prophesied.

"You don't make any sense at all," I yelled, "how can I get hurt if I'm not vulnerable? I'm not hurt anymore and no ones going to get the better of me as long as I have a say in it."

"Vulnerability isn't always physical," she laughed, "but how could I expect some one as young as you to understand?"

"I would hardly consider twenty one being too young," I argued.

"I wasn't inferring to age but I suppose that you're young on that level as well," she said callously.

"Why am I even worried about what you're sayin in the first place? You're just a dumb bitch tryin to sound intelligent with a lot of bullshit that has no meaning," I yelled storming away to the elevator. I was no longer interested in the extravagant lobby and what it had to offer, now all I wanted was to go back into our small room for handicapped people and drink myself stupid at the party. I sure hope Brain gave in because I couldn't handle a quiet evening after a scene like that.

"Where were you?" George asked.

"God you sound like my father when we were teenagers," I said sharply, "just down in the lobby."

"You didn't start a scene did you?" Mal interjected.

"No just some bird from room service came up to me and I didn't feel like dealing with her so I went upstairs," I lied, "that's it.

"You're awful worked up for just leavin a crazy fan you didn't feel like givin the old McCartney charm," John challenged.

"I'm not worked up over this but if you keep badgering me I'm gonna be," I said coldly.

"He must have fucked her," John whispered to George faking a low laugh.

"Are you sure that you just "walked away" or did our friendly hero have some nasty words with our lil'' heroine?" George teased.

"Leave it to those who can't get any to raise hell for those that do," I said flipping through a magazine.

"You didn't answer me question," George reminded.

"No I didn't exchange any bitter words with anyone," I said matter-of-factly, "like I said before there was a fan I didn't feel like dealin with her and I came up to the room that's it."

"But earlier you said it was someone from room service," Ringo replied curiously.

"Well she was obviously a fan if she came up to me and started botherin me. Does it really matter that I forgot to call her 'the girl from room service' this time?" I huffed testily.

"I knew it. I could see it in your eyes that you lied to us," John smiled victoriously.

"No I'm not lying to you, Lennon and I would appreciate it if you got off me case and let me enjoy this magazine until Neil gets off the phone with Brain," I said hoping to change the subject. No sooner did the word flee my lips did the phone click freeing me from this federal investigation.

"So do we get to have the party?" I asked before they could continue to pester me about the horrible incident downstairs.

"Well he did seem a bit reluctant but after a lil' coxing by yours truly he gave in," Neil laughed, "but I'm responsible for your well being which means if the party gets too out of control then it won't be lastin very long."

"Too out of hand? At a Beatle's party? Never," John snickered.

"Although what I said applies to all of you, I would like to personally single out you, John because I won't have you challengin' my authority tonight," Neil said seriously, "understood?"

"Yeah I think I can listen to you one day out of the year," John mumbled "but don't get used to it cause this is a one time deal. After all I need a lay and you need a Christmas gift so all in all it works out pretty good on both sides I think."

"More like your side," George laughed.

"So I get a little more out of it," John admitted, "doesn't mean that he isn't gettin anythin out of the deal."

"Yeah the so called "Christmas gift" is a nice touch," Ringo giggled.

"Why thank you, I take pride in goin through all lengths to benefit meself," John said indignantly.

"You do a good job," Mal mused.

"I know how irresistible I am to talk about. Being that I'm perfect and all," John said cockily, "but you are going to have to restrain yourself long enough to get this party started."

"But John you're too sexy I can't stay focused," I said sarcastically, "I'll simply die if I have to think of something else."

"I seem to have that affect on people," John replied proudly.

"Only cause if they don't watch your every move they'll end up the target of your sick humor," George stated.

"My humor isn't sick," John retaliated, "it's unique."

"Sure it is... uniquely perverted," Ringo smiled.

"If there wasn't some truth to that you would have a broken nose, mate," John warned.

"Not me nose, anythin' but that," Ringo gasped in mock horror.

"Yeah he has a hard enough time pickin up birds with that airport without it growin back crooked too," George defended.

"Hey," Ringo cried defensively, "no nose jokes. I thought we agreed I would stop pesterin you about your mum if you let off about me nose."

"I couldn't help it. It was impeccable timin; someone had to say it," George rapped out quickly.

"Yeah well don't be surprised if somethin slips out about your mum at the party," Ringo threatened.

"He wouldn't," John gasped.

"Oh but he would, John," I said trying to keep a straight face.

"Enough bickerin for one night," Mal stepped in, "let's have the fuckin greatest party Europe has ever seen."

"Amen, amen," John agreed.

"Where's Neil?" I asked curious as to where he disappeared.

"He went to round up some birds," Mal replied, "even though you don't deserve any."

"Well bless his heart for not wastin time while we argue over the petty details of life," George smirked.

"Will you call Ms. Stevens?" I begged, "Please?"

"Why don't you do it yourself," Mal smiled handing me a small slip of paper. I stared at it blankly for several seconds before my body could register that I needed to take it out of his hand. Stiffness circled my body as the tiny slip of paper made it's way into my shivering hand. So much depends on one phone call, the call of the century. Normally I am not one to fear rejection, in fact, I have known very little of it in my personal experience.

Well at least my personal experience after the Beatles started to do something here in Europe. When I was a teenager I thought that arch-nemesis would leave me alone because of that horrible baby fat. Still something unusual haunted me enough to consider this plausible out come. I quickly let it sift to the back of my mind as my more male dominating nature told me to relax and that if she didn't come it would be her loss. I just couldn't shake the feeling that she wouldn't be the only one missing out on something.

My fingers trembled violently as they brush over the numbers like paint of a canvas. Without warning, they were back to their steady human form and quickly slapped the last numbers to the haunted mansion.

"Bonjour, est-ce que la residence de Muir peut comment je vous aide?" greeted the cheerful voice.

"Uhh... I don't speak French," I said shakily.

"Je ne parle pas francais," I stuttered hoping that I hadn't mixed up sayings Mal told us in case we were ever separated.

"Oh you do not speak French one moment please and I find man to assist you," she said in broken English.

"Hello, Muir residence how may I help you?" answered the professional woman with a wet calm voice.

"Yes I was hoping I might speak with Mr. or Mrs. Muir about inviting one of their servants to a party as a guest," I replied trying to sound dignified and intelligent.

"Well I can already tell you that the servant whom you are looking for will not be allowed to attend," she replied regrettably.

"That's why I need to talk with one of them in order to assuage their opinion," I replied casually.

"Very well then I will see if either of them is available," she said putting me on hold.

"Hello," said a crackly old voice I did not recognize.

"Hello my name is Paul McCartney," I began, "and I was recently rescued by your wife and employee Ms. Stevens."

"Ahh... yes the rock n' roll bloke who was nearly torn to shreds a few days back," he said clearing his throat, "my wife was feeling incredibly generous that day. The help didn't even have to do the daily dusting earlier that mourning. But enough of that my dear friend, after all any one my wife favors enough to save from the clutches of death is alright in my book; what were your pretensions for making this phone call?"

"Actually I called to invite Ms. Stevens to a party we will be hosting in her honor for saving my life," I exaggerated.

"Well I don't know if my wife told you or not but we don't allow our employees to leave the grounds more less attend parties inflating their ego," he added in his deep baritone voice, "let one do it and they'll all be asking for a raise soon enough. You must understand that I think things out economically of coarse and that is why I am firm on this policy."

"But surely you don't mean to disrespect Mr. Epstein after all the trouble he went through to have it arranged on such short notice," I said sincerely.

"We accepted his earlier token of appreciation and that is more than enough," Mr. Muir reasoned, "I don't mean any disrespect by not taking it, but one gift is more than her sort deserves."

I gulped the anger growing in my throat, "Well I must say I am rather disappointed. I was particularly looking forward to having her meet some of the royals that planned on stopping by. I guess I'll tell them to stop by the Lafayette party instead."

"I didn't know you had such good connections?" he observed.

"Well, we're rising British stars, so the royal family is eager to meet anyone who will increase the national tax assets," I cooed nonchalantly.

"Assuming you could provide proper attire I will consent to allowing her to attend this last gathering in her honor," he paused, "only if you promise that this will be the last time she is treated better than she deserves."

"I will abide by those terms as you ask," I said meekly, "but might I ask you a simple request?"

"Surely," he replied in a hearty tone.

"That you not tell her who the party is for and the people that will be attending?" I said bluntly, "I would rather it stay a surprise."

"I suppose I can concede to that condition," he relented, "cheerio as the Brits say."

"Cheerio," I mocked as the phone clicked against the counter.

"So is she comin?" Ringo asked in anticipation.

"Yeah I got a wager on it?" George added.

"Really? And what were the terms of this wager per say?" I dragged out slowly.

"Ringo said that you couldn't do it in a million years cause the Muir are elitist business men and bet me one hundred pounds with two to one odds in me favor," George explained.

"I'm that bad a speaker, eh," I glared at Ringo.

"I didn't say you were a bad speaker," Ringo justified, "just that no one in their right mind could convince Mr. Muir to change his mind."

"You seem to know a lot about Mr. Muir," I asked wearily.

"Well he was on the front page of the business section this morn," Ringo answered.

"What were you doin lookin at the business section?" John inquired.

"I wasn't lookin at the business section," Ringo defended, "I just skimmed past it on my way to the funnies."

"Come 'ed Paul," George whined, "tell us if she can come or not?"

"I don't know maybe I'll let you wait and see," I teased.

"Don't make me hurt you, Macca I could win some serious money on this bet," George said shaking his fist.

"Yeah quit stallin and tell us already," John said catching the fever of excitement.

"Well if you INSIST," I paused suspensefully, "Mr. Muir said that she cou" I replied before getting cut off.

"n't, you heard him, he said couldn't," Ringo pointed reaching to claim his prize or rather steal it.

"Well since Ringo seems to think he knows the out come I'm not going to tell you. You'll have to wait perhaps the WHOLE night to see if she makes it or not," I threatened.

"He'll behave, now tell us," George said looking deeply into my eyes.

"I guess I'll go ahead and tell you," I conceded, "she will be among the guests of this celebration."

"You're lyin," Ringo burst out, "you just don't want to admit to not bein able to talk that bloody employer of hers into lettin her come."

"Pay up son," George smiled greedily, "I want me two hundred pounds in ones, please."

"Not until she shows," Ringo pouted, "I have a feeling she will be DETAINED."

"Well you have a shot, Ring," John exclaimed, "just cause she's allowed to come doesn't mean she wants to."

"A valid argument indeed," Ringo smirked, "you might just owe me one hundred pounds after all."

"I doubt it," I defended, "Mr. Muir doesn't let them out of the house. I think she would be more than happy to have any excuse to leave."

"Sure, but I bet she wishes it was for somethin like the dentist instead," George quipped, "no offence, after all you did help me win the bet."

"Speakin' of bets, who recalls the one we made a few days ago?" John inquired.

"Ooh I know, I know," I said raising my hand up like an anxious child, "did it have to do with sex."

"Why I believe it does?" John agreed.

"Lucky guess," Ringo glared, "everythin he says has to do with sex so you had like a nine out a ten shot."

"Maybe. But I guessed it right, so there," I said sticking my tongue out at him and making a hideous childlike face to add to the silliness of it.

"Okay Paul is right that it does have to do with sex but with exactly what terms?" John asked scratching his head profusely.

"Who ever got the most birds in bed with him after twenty four hours wins," George replied bluntly bored of the Beatle banter.

"My, my, I think he got it," Ringo said sarcastically, "some one call the press George remembered somethin for more than a hour."

"Piss off," George said punching his arm, "it just so happens that I have a great memory thank you very much."

"Oh yeah why don't you prove it?" I teased, "What did you have for breakie yesterday?"

"Uhh... I had... uhhh..." George struggled while biting his lip, "so I can't remember what I had for breakie that doesn't mean I have a bad memory."

"No seeing as it was only yesterday and you eat the same thing practically every tour I would definitely be concerned with your brain power or lack there of," John antagonized.

"That's not true," George argued, "I always change my order every time I eat somewhere."

"Speaking of not true didn't you order fish and chips for lunch and supper yesterday?" Ringo grinned wickedly.

George realized he was trapped and stared into oblivion for a while before attempting to make a response. His brain must have been working relatively slow because we had all but forgotten the conversation when his voice burst out spontaneously, "It only happened that one time."

"Yeah George you already told us you only paid for a hooker one time there's no need to burst out lettin the world know," I vexed.

"You knew what I meant," George smirked, "so I won't bother rexplainin it to you."

"I didn't know what you meant and I don't think I heard you to well," John egged, "what exactly were you talkin about?"

"Damn you to hell Lennon for givin me such a hard time," George yelled, and sulked into the nearest chair, "but I'll try to focus on the good things like the two hundred pounds I'm gettin from Ring tonight."

"If they kept a tally of every time John was damned to hell than over a hundred secretaries would die trying to type it all down over the coarse of their life," Ringo quipped.

"That's just a little exaggerated," John mentioned semi casually.

"Well he was trying to do you a favor," I said nonchalantly, "the real number would have been a lot larger. Why we keep you around I'll never know."

"Because anythin controversial sells," George replied in mock honesty.

"Why I oughta," John jumped to the helpless victim who yelped loudly after a rather loud thud.

"Is he alright?" I asked looking over at the two shadows on the abandoned couch. My eyes quickly shot to the floor as I watched John and George laughing at the concern in my face.

"Yeah Paul I just kicked his ass because he called me controversial," John giggled.

"I've seen you do it for reasons not half as good as that," Ringo added.

"Perhaps on occasion like when I am in a bad mood, but generally I don't beat the shit out of someone without a valid reason," John explained.

"Well speakin from personal experience I know we don't exactly see eye to eye when it comes to how pertinent something is," I argued.

"Well than we can agree to disagree," George smiled, "or just have a barnie on the floor like teenagers."

"How about a lil' from column A and a little from column B?" John mocked punching my arm playfully.

"That's enough," I sighed, "I am gonna take a kip so I will be prepared to win that bet later on this evening."

"Well you don't have much time the party's gonna start in a couple of hours," Ringo reminded.

"Well then wake me up a half past six so I'll be ready in time," I yawned yanking the blankets over my cold legs. I quickly got comfortable in my warm cocoon as sleep made the growing incidents fade away. I was in an ebony room again one I could vaguely place from what seemed to be years back. Or was it the one in the Muir mansion? As I pondered this idly, I bumped into a small child who looked lost. She whined about her mother and I clasped her hand as we walked among the party guest to find the estranged woman. After we walked around the entire party, we sat down on the piano bench remorsefully. We were exhausted and confused on why we hadn't seen her after searching every crevice of the building.

The child twirled around to face the piano and began to play a simple tune using each finger only once at a time. As primitive as her technique was I quickly recognized the tune and joined in with the appropriate chords. Soon I became so focused on the music at the piano I hadn't even noticed that the girl had slipped away. A voice slowly began to whisper the words of the melody into my ear before she stepped away and began to sing with her rich colorful voice. I quickly joined in the harmony and couldn't help but smile at how heavenly the music was in the perfect acoustics. I never did look at her I was so concentrated in thought and song I was unclear of my surroundings. All that matter was the song and the perfect rosy glow it made me feel in the depressing room. I nearly jumped off the bench when a small finger tapped on my shoulder. I whipped around abandoning my singing to see the little girl staring up at me in awe. I assumed she liked my music or perhaps it triggered off some early childhood memory I wasn't really to sure. She tugged on my suit jacket and pointed excitedly at the dance floor. I decided to concede to her request as her gentile palm slid into mine for the second time that evening. Another man had taken my place at the piano and he continued where I left off in the piece. The girl smiled and sang along as we danced in perfect rhythm regardless of the distinct height difference between us.

This party seemed like the happiest moment in my life but unfortunately, it wasn't my life. In fact, I hadn't even seen the woman with the pretty voice so how could I possibly know her. Not to mention the child had parents even if they were irresponsible. I would have a family when I was ready. Ready to give up the good life and settle for an even better one filled with commitment and love. Could I ever be ready?