Chapter 20 - Christmas Time Is Here Again

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"What the hell kind of accent is that?" Marisol's father said, with the telephone receiver held out of her reach.

It was Christmas morning, and Marisol hadn't been awake enough to beat her father to the phone. It was agony, bouncing up and down on her toes while her father said inane things into the phone like "who is this again?" and "McCartney you say?"

"Dad, please, it's costing him a fortune, give it to me!"

"I've never heard anything like that accent in my life. I think he swore at me, and I just said, 'Fine, thank you,' because I couldn't understand a word he was saying."

"Just give me the phone." She bit off the words, her heart racing.

"All right, beautiful?" Paul said, in his amazing, deep, melodious voice. "Are you still my girl?"

Oh my god. "You know I am." Her smile was so wide she could barely speak.

"Good girl."

"Merry Chris—" she started to stay, then stopped because they were talking over each other.

"You go first," he said, laughing.

"I just wanted to say Merry Christmas, and it's really good to hear your voice."

"Merry Christmas, beautiful. Did Santa bring you everything you wanted?"

She laughed. "Hardly. What about you?"

"Not a chance. But I'm still hopeful for Valentine's Day, because guess what?"

"What?" she said, breath held.

"I may just be in America for Valentine's Day."

"Really?" Her breath came out in a rush. Valentine's Day. Seven weeks away.

"And if I am, I'll be looking for a Valentine, so if you know anyone...I think you know the sort of girl I'm looking for—"

"I miss you." She couldn't stop herself from blurting it out. She wasn't sure if he even heard it. It was so difficult adjusting to the long pauses on a trans-Atlantic call.

"Ah. Well I miss you too."

Paul's beautiful voice sounded like it was coming from a submarine inside a tunnel in a cave on the ocean floor, backed up by a steady hiss.

"Was it difficult getting through today?"

"You might say that. I had to schedule the call with an international operator and wait around an hour for the New York exchange to free up."

"Where are you? Are you with your Dad?"

"Yeah. We flew home to Liverpool this morning. Wish you were here. It's a pretty day, actually. We're about to ride motor bikes along the Mersey out to Halewood. Flying back to London tomorrow. The Christmas show runs for another three weeks, and then Paris."

"And then America."

"And then America," he repeated. "If they'll have us."

"I heard "I Want to Hold Your Hand" last week on the radio here!"

It was surreal, having lunch with Donna in a Chinese restaurant in downtown San Francisco and hearing the Beatles singing on a transistor radio beside the cash register. Then they'd gone across the street to do some Christmas shopping. Macy's had a window display featuring animatronic children twirling around a Christmas tree, a record player at their feet spinning a tiny copy of "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Marisol couldn't believe her eyes.

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