“That’s good. Now George, turn just a little to the left,” Astrid said, adjusting the lens on her camera.
Although it was quite cold, we decided to take our engagement pictures near the water. I wore my strapless yellow dress with white flowers and white ballet flats. George was in a black t-shirt, faded jeans, and a wide leather belt. We didn’t tell Astrid why we chose those clothes.
George ran his fingers down my cheek and tucked my hair behind my ear. Kissing my forehead, he said quietly, “I feel so lucky to be with you, love. Can’t believe it.” He leaned in to kiss me properly when Astrid looked up from her camera.
“George, dear, these pictures aren’t going to come out well if you keep moving around. Stay still!”
George stole a quick kiss and said, “Sorry, love!”
I giggled a little, and George grinned at me.
The horn blared outside yet again. “Stella, dear, they’re outside!” My mother yelled as she washed the dishes.
“Coming!” I ran downstairs, trying to carry three suitcases while putting on my coat and shoes.
“Now, you call me as soon as you land. Call me from the airport, not the hotel!” my mother took my suitcases from me and helped me into my coat.
“Ok, ok, I promise. Where’s dad?” My mother didn’t have to answer; she gestured behind me with her chin, and I knew where he was. Turning around, all I could see were his feet, propped up in an easy chair. I knew that if I woke him up from his drunken stupor, my mother would suffer the consequences for the rest of the day, so I picked up my suitcases, and leaned in to kiss my mother goodbye.
Taking one from me, my mother said, “I’m coming out with you. I want to see this van they’re driving to the airport in.”
As soon as I opened the door, George ran up to me like a giddy schoolboy. “My love!” he cried, wrapping me up in a bear hug. “You look ravishingly beautiful. Good morning, Mrs. Kirchherr!”
George took the suitcases from my mother and me and threw them in the back of the van, on top of suitcases, guitar amps, and guitars, piled precariously on top of one another.
“Remember – from the airport, not the hotel!” my mother said sternly, kissing me on the forehead and straightening out the collar of my coat.
She then turned to George.
“I’ll take good care of Stella, I promise.” George said, his tone anticipating my mother’s worry.
“I know you will, dear,” my mother said. I could tell that she was attempting to convince both George and herself equally.
I settled into the van next to George. Putting his arm around my shoulder, he kissed me gently on the cheek right next to my ear and said quietly, “I can’t wait to show you everything, my love. You’re going to love it.”
I was about to respond when John stuck his head between us from the row behind. “Aren’t you two just the absolute sweetest!” he crowed, in his best impression of an 85-year-old British woman.
“Oh, piss off, John,” George said, pushing him away. John feigned agonizing pain, but George ignored him, much more interested in kissing me and inconspicuously exploring my thighs with his hand.
“How much farther is it, George? And why do we always seem to end up near rivers? It’s winter, you know,” I said, dragging behind George as we walked along a seemingly endless path next to the Mersey.
“It’s not far now, Miss Kirchherr. And thank you for reminding me of the season. What with your constant reminders of what you’d like for a late Christmas present, I might’ve forgotten,” George quipped, taking my hand in an effort to quicken my pace.
I was about to return his quip when George led me into a small alcove that was shielded from the wind. Wrapping his arms around me, he rubbed his hands quickly up and down my back. “Are you cold, my love?”
“A little,” I said, pressing my body against his surprisingly warm chest and wrapping my arms around his torso underneath his jacket.
George wrapped his jacket around my body. “Is that better?”
Kissing him lightly and running my hand along his cheek, I answered, “Yes, dear, that’s much better.” I leaned in to kiss him again, but George spoke before I could begin.
“You haven’t been eating well since you’ve gotten here, Stella. I’m worried about you. I can tell you’ve gotten smaller, and you’re already such a small girl. I know you don’t like British food that much, but isn’t there something you’ll eat? I couldn’t live with myself if you got sick and there was something I could do to prevent it.”
I hadn’t told George that I didn’t like British food because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but he must have been paying attention to how much food I left on my plate during dinner the previous evening, my first one in Liverpool.
“The food here is just so different from the food at home. But I suppose I liked the fish and chips we had at that pub with John today.”
George laughed a little. “You liked the fish and chips? Well that’s a pretty good start! Many people here practically live on fish and chips and not much else. I’ll ask my mum to fix you some when you eat at my house, and when we’re out, it won’t be a problem because you can find those anywhere.” George seemed immensely satisfied that he had solved my problem.
“But George, I can’t have your mum fixing me something different than what you and your family are eating. It would be such an imposition, and I just—“
George put two fingers on my lips. “It’s really not a problem, Stella. I promise. Now, as happy as I am that we solved your food problem, I didn’t bring you here just to talk about that.”
I was still uncomfortable about the idea of George’s mum making me separate food and I wished we could have talked about it more, but I forgot all about it when George began kissing me slowly and deeply, pressing his chest into mine.
“I’ve missed you, beautiful girl,” he said quietly against my lips, as he ran one hand through my hair and used the other to pull me closer.
“Silly boy – we’ve been together non-stop.” I said as I slid my hands down his back and into the back pockets of his jeans.
“You know what I mean. It’s been too long.” George answered, unzipping the back of my dress and slipping his hand underneath the fabric. He pushed my dress down until it crumpled at my ankles. I pressed my bare chest against his navy blue button-down shirt. I was still wrapped up in his leather jacket.
I pulled back from George just enough to unbutton his shirt. As I worked my way down his shirt, George leaned down and gently kissed my right breast, sucking on the nipple. I let out a small groan of pleasure and felt him rub himself against my thigh in response.
George removed his jacket so he could take off his shirt and undershirt. “We’re still going to need my jacket aren’t we, love?” he said, noticing me shivering in my panties.
“Y-yes, definitely.” I said, reaching my arms out for him.
George quickly put his jacket back on and wrapped me up in it, so that our bare chests pressed against each other.
As he kissed me, George explored my back and gave my butt a little squeeze. I could feel his erection growing in his jeans, and I felt a warmth increasing in my panties. I began to rub myself against his leg, the rough material of his jeans creating enough friction to make me soaking wet.
“I need you inside me,” I whispered breathily, unzipping his jeans.
George grinned against my lips and ran one hand between my legs. “You’re soaking wet, love. So this is what you’re like after a night of chastity. Maybe having to skip a night wasn’t so bad after all.”
George slowly directed me backwards until my back was against a wall. He quickly finished taking off his jeans and pushed down his briefs. Gently, he pushed my panties down until they gathered around my ankles.
“Take your panties off completely, love,” George said. I did as I was told, although I had no idea what George had in mind.
George placed my arms around his neck. “Wrap your legs around me,” he said as he picked me up. Again, I did as I was told.
As I wrapped my legs around his hips, George gently, but deeply penetrated me.
“Good morning, dear!” Mrs. Harrison said cheerfully, as I walked into the kitchen of the Harrison’s small, but warm home. “George is already at the Cavern, rehearsing. Would you like some breakfast? I could fix you some eggs, if you’d like.”
“Oh yes, please, Mrs. Harrison. Thank you!” I said. Sitting down at the kitchen table, I noticed a copy of the Mersey Beat. “Is that George and his band?” I said incredulously, pointing to a picture of the boys on the cover.
Removing the necessary ingredients from the fridge and cabinets, Mrs. Harrison replied, “Oh yes, the lads have gotten very popular. There are always people stopping me in the street, asking if I’m his mother. It’s quite strange, really, but I’m so happy for them. They have worked so hard for it, you know. And to have a regular slot at the Cavern – George is just thrilled.”
“I had no idea they were this popular! And in this picture,” I said, pointing to a photo from what appeared to be a gig, “the audience looks like it’s mostly girls.”
Placing a cup of tea and some sugar on the table in front of me, Mrs. Harrison glanced at the photo. “Oh yes, of course they’re very popular with the girls. But don’t worry, dear, George is a respectful young man. He would never be unfaithful; that’s not how he was raised. He can certainly be a flirt, but then again, they all can be that way, can’t they?”
“I suppose so,” I said, although a pit developed in my stomach when I saw the way the girls in the picture were gazing lovingly up at George and the others.
“Well here you are, dear. Hope you enjoy them! I don’t know how they fix eggs in Germany, but this is the way we do it here in England.”
“Thank you so much, Mrs. Harrison. It’s so nice of you to let me stay with you.”
Mrs. Harrison sat down across from me and lit a cigarette. “Well, of course, dear! We couldn’t have you stay at a hotel now, could we? Especially having an extra bed available. Besides, you’re part of the family now, dear.”
“Well, I still appreciate it so much, Mrs. Harrison.”
“Of course, dear. Now do you know how to get to the Cavern? Have you had the chance to exchange some money, or do you need a few quid?”
“Oh no it’s ok; George gave me some money last night. And he told me about four times which bus to take.” I said, laughing a little.
“He is really quite smitten with you, Stella. I can tell. Now I do have a few things I’d like to discuss with the both of you, but that can wait until tonight.” Glancing up at the clock on the wall above the sink, she said, “If you’re going to make it in time for the first show, you’d best be off now.”
I slowly descended the narrow stairs into the Cavern, which smelled of cigarettes and sweat. Squinting my eyes in the dim light and scanning the room for the boys, I spotted George next to the stage, casually smoking a ciggie. I was about to run up to him when I noticed that he wasn’t alone. A slight girl with long, auburn brown hair and a tight red dress leaned towards him, her hands on his shoulders and her chest almost touching his. She laughed flirtatiously and whispered something in his ear while she played with one of the buttons of his shirt. George didn’t push her away.
Scanning the rest of the club, I realized that there were at least 150 people there, and they were mostly girls. Every one of them was staring at the boys longingly. They reminded me of the way I saw girls stare at Elvis on TV.
My heart sank and I nearly fell over. As I ran out of the club, George noticed me. Pushing the girl away, he bolted towards me, but I was already halfway up the stairs.
“Stella, wait!” George ran up the stairs behind me and grabbed my hand. I wiggled away from him.
“Get away from me!” I yelled, my voice cracking as I began to cry.
“Stella, please – let me explain!” George pleaded with me.
George chased me down Mathew Street and across North John Street before I stopped and turned around. Apparently not expecting me to stop, he nearly ran into me.
“Fine. Explain, then.” I snapped, my hands on my hips.
Gasping for breath, George leaned against a building with one hand. “Stella, that girl doesn’t mean anything to me. She’s just a fan. We’re pretty popular here, and for whatever reason, most of our fans are girls. And they flirt with us. A lot. But that doesn’t mean that any of them mean anything more to me than fans. I promise.”
“George, I just don’t understand this. In Hamburg, there were all sorts of people at your shows. You didn’t tell me you were this popular here. I saw a copy of that paper, the Mersey Beat. You’re on the cover!”
George slowly approached me and ran a hand through my hair. I almost pulled away, but his eyes conveyed such a mix of desperation and sadness that I let him get closer to me. “What was I supposed to say, Stella?” he said gently. “That we’re the most popular group in Liverpool? That we have a huge, devoted fanbase? I’d have sounded like an arrogant prick.”
I stared at the ground. “I suppose so,” I said quietly. “I’m just scared. That girl you were talking to is so pretty, and—“
“Stop right there,” George interrupted me and took my chin in his hand, directing me to look at him. “She’s not nearly as pretty as you. Honest—and I’m not just saying that because you’re mad at me. It’s the truth. None of them are—not to me at least. You’re my girl, and you’re going to be my wife. Please, don’t worry!” George said, kissing me gently.
I was still very uncomfortable, but George’s kisses made me feel so good that I willed myself to forget about the girl in the red dress.
“Well, my love,” George said, pulling out of the kiss, straightening out the collar of my coat and wiping the tears from my cheeks, “I should be getting back to the Cavern. Will you be accompanying me, or are we still mortal enemies?” He cocked one eyebrow and flashed me a lopsided grin.
Laughing, I gave him a kiss and said, “No, I guess we’re not mortal enemies anymore.”
“Thank you, everyone! We’ll see you in just a little while for the second round!” Paul said cheerfully, as the boys’ first lunchtime set ended. Several girls immediately surrounded him.
“You were absolutely wonderful. Here’s a present,” one cooed, slipping a piece of paper that probably contained her number into his jeans pocket.
I turned to George, who was busy packing up his guitar. An equal number of girls surrounded him, including the girl in the red dress. “Hey, Georgie,” she said seductively, leaning into him, with her back towards the stage. George didn’t pay much attention to her. “‘Scuse me, Mary,” he said, pushing past her.
“Stella, what’d you think of the show?” he said, jumping down from the stage and giving me a kiss.
“I see you’ve found someone new,” Mary said with vitriol. “You should know,” she said, turning to me. “It’s a new girl every week with this one. So don’t expect anything to last.” She stalked away, mumbling about how she’d claimed him first.
Furrowing my eyebrows, I said quietly, “Just a fan, George?”
“Ok, well, I might’ve had a little something with her right before we left for Hamburg. But it was only for a week or so, and it didn’t really mean anything.”
I cocked one eyebrow. “And you couldn’t tell me this before because …”
George sighed heavily. “I didn’t want you to misinterpret anything, and to think there was still something there.”
“And it’s better for me to find out this way, George?” I said, the volume of my voice loud enough to attract the attention of the other boys, as well as stragglers from the audience who hadn’t yet left.
Paul approached us hesitantly. “Err, George? Sorry to interrupt, but we’ve got to head to NEMS for that meeting with Brian.”
“Right, ok, Paul just a minute.” George turned to me. “Stella, can we please talk about this later? Paul and I have to meet with our manager. It shouldn’t take more than an hour, but he really hates it when we’re late. John can look after you. Ok?”
George leaned in to kiss me goodbye, but I turned away and he ended up awkwardly kissing my cheek. Sighing heavily, George followed Paul out of the club.
“I suppose I should find John,” I said to myself quietly. “It’s not as though I know anyone else here.”
I wandered behind the stage and found what looked to be a hallway that led to a small dressing room. Several bare light bulbs swung from the ceiling precariously. Passing the first dressing room, I noticed John sitting on a bench, hunched over with a bottle of rum in one hand. At the sound of my entering the room, he looked up suddenly.
“Stella!” John said loudly, staggering slightly as he stood up. “Where’s your boy?”
“Umm, well, he and Paul are meeting with Brian. I don’t know why.” I said quietly, standing in the doorway.
“Oh of course! Paulie doesn’t like me going to those meetings, on account of my relationship with this here.” John said, staggering towards me and holding up the rum.
“I see that,” I said, becoming increasingly nervous as I looked around the room, noticing the empty bottles of rum and beer scattered around the floor and realizing that John was already absolutely pissed.
“Don’t be frightened of me, love,” he slurred, apparently noticing me backing up as he invaded my personal space.
“You know, we haven’t gotten the chance to talk much, just you and me,” John said, backing me up against a wall. “It’s really a shame.”
The alcohol on his breath was surprisingly strong, given that the show had only ended 20 minutes earlier, and I had only seen each of the boys drink one beer during the show.
“John, how much have you had to drink?” I said, inching away from him by sliding along the wall.
“Aww, you know – a few pints. Paulie’s not here to mother me, so I have to take advantage of the situation, you know? He’s worse than Mimi about it.” John tried to gesture with his arms while talking, but ended up nearly falling down. Taking another swig of the rum, and dropping the empty bottle on the ground, he staggered towards me and backed me up against the wall again.
“Georgie is a lucky bastard, gettin’ to pull you every night,” John said, inching closer to me, until his hips pressed up against mine.
“Well, I’m upset at him now,” I said quietly, staring at the floor.
“And why’s that?” John said distractedly, his hands slowly working their way down my back.
“He didn’t tell me he had something with this girl Mary.”
“Oh of course – Mary. Well, Georgie’s had a little something with a lot of girls. But I do think he’s quite smitten with you. In the meantime, though, maybe I can help you forget about him for a while.” John said, leaning in to kiss me.
I was too scared to resist John—Paul had told me he could be an angry, violent drunk—so I kissed him back. My heart nearly pounded out of my chest, as I felt his hands squeeze my butt.
John unbuttoned my sweater and slipped one hand underneath my bra, squeezing my breasts. He used the other hand to pull me closer to him. I could feel his erection in his jeans.
“Sit on that table like a good girl,” he slurred. Terrified, I did as he told me. John pulled off my panties and penetrated me without hesitation. Unlike the many times I had made love with George, I was in pain and began to cry. John was too pissed to notice. I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on all of the beautiful memories George and I had made together—the first time we made love in Hamburg, the first guitar lesson he gave me, trying to teach him German. Unable to physically resist John, I tried to mentally leave the room.
John came quickly inside of me and pulled out immediately. Zipping up his jeans and buckling up his belt, he said unceremoniously, “Thanks for that, love. I need to go get me a beer.” He stalked out of the room.
Breathing a sigh of relief that it was over, I slumped down on the table, unable to dress myself. My mind raced and my entire body shivered and shook. What if John came back? What was I going to tell George? What about Cynthia? I cried and heaved silently. I could hear George in the main room asking where I was, but I couldn’t summon the energy to call out to him.
“Stella, I’ve been looking all over—my god, what happened?!” George ran to me and wrapped me in his arms.
“Sshhh, my love, it’ll be ok. I’m here now. Everything will be ok.” George whispered, stroking my hair and kissing my head. At the sense of immediate security and love I felt being in his arms, I broke out in sobs and wails. “Let’s at least get you dressed.” He gently helped me back into my dress.
George rocked me in his arms for what must have been at least ten minutes, as I sobbed into his chest. He stroked my hair and kissed my head and I could hear him fighting back tears.
Finally, he spoke. “Stella, please tell me: What happened?”
I pulled away from George enough to be able to see his ashen-white face. “He was drunk. I told him I was angry with you. He said he could help me forget about you.” I stammered.
“Who was drunk? Who said he could help you forget about me? And what did he do to you?” George frantically searched my eyes for answers.
“John. He … he … he had sex with me, and I didn’t want to.”
George’s face filled with rage. Lips pursed and breath heavy, he turned to Paul, who was virtually paralyzed with shock in the doorway. “Paul, please make sure Stella is ok. I am going to kill John Lennon.”