37. A Fear Of Flying

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Don't look down, I hear you say,
And I believe it's true.
It's so much safer on the ground,
But I'd rather fly with, rather die with you.

George suddenly stiffens. He drops my hand and sits back in his seat. I follow his eye line to see Maurice approaching our table. I turn back to George and he lowers his head. I know Maurice must have seen us, leaning over the table to each other, holding hands. I don't care. He can go and tell Ricky if he wants to. I might be telling him myself shortly. 

Maurice stops at the side of the table. He looks from me to George and then back again, pausing a long time before he speaks.

'Have you seen Ricky?' he asks eventually, slowly, measured.

George looks down at his hands in his lap, doing the best he can to make himself invisible.

'No,' I say, bluntly. 'Not since this morning when he threw me out of our room and locked the door.'

Maurice sighs. 'He's not there now,' he says, ignoring anything that had any meaning in that statement.

'Are you sure that he's just not answering the door?' I ask him. 'You know he can be deaf when he feels like it.'

Maurice shakes his head. 'I need to find him,' he mutters.

There's something else, I think. Something's happened. I refuse to ask what it is. I am fed up of pandering to Ricky like this. He always needs to be the centre of attention. All I've done is run around, trying to keep him happy. It's all I've done since I married him. As I look back at George, still with his head down, guilt all over him, I wonder if what I have done, how I have made my life all about being married to Ricky, at the expense of my friends, any kind of social life, even missing some singing engagements - was it solely because I spent the night with George before the wedding?

I suddenly feel quite reckless. I want to tell Maurice everything. I want to tell him that I don't care where Ricky is or what he's doing. I want to tell him that I'm not going to pushed and pulled around anymore. I want to tell him that right now, I don't even give a damn about the Raindrops. More than anything, I want to tell him what George has just said to me. That he's asked me if I'll go back to England with him. And I want to tell him that I'm considering saying yes.

'You know Maurice, don't you?' I say, instead, to George. 'Our manager.'

George looks up. He nods and forces a smile. 'Yeah, course,' he says, weakly.

'When you see him, can you tell him I'm looking for him?' Maurice says, absently.

'George and I have been friends for years,' I tell Maurice. 'Since I was sixteen. George probably knows me better than anyone does. He's my closest friend and I've missed him terribly. So much so, I don't know what I'll do when he goes home again at the end of this tour.'

George shoots me a pointed look, wondering what I'm doing, but it's all moot anyway. Maurice is barely listening. He's looking around the restaurant, as if Ricky's hiding in here somewhere. He sighs and then turns back to us. He looks at George, still staring at me, then he levels his gaze on me, his commanding 'don't argue, don't pout, do as I say' steeled gaze, but it has no affect on me today. A smile spreads across my face as I watch George, and his eyes get wider.

'Will you be long, Hannah?' Maurice asks, with more conviction.

'No,' I say to him, but I'm still looking at George. 'No, I won't be long at all.'

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