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August 1963

He walked quickly, partly because he didn't want to be recognised and partly in his need to find Ruby as quickly as possible. He headed towards the sea front again, disappointed when she wasn't immediactly apparent as soon as he arrived. He walked the length of the promenade and back again, searching the crowded beach for her. The nice weather, despite a stiff breeze, had brought out the tourists. Holiday makers were paddling in the sea, building sand castles, trying to stop objects from blowing away from their beach picnics, but Ruby wasn't among them.

John sighed and leaned on the metal fence, his eyes still searching the beach for her. Of course, there was no reason she would be on the beach. She could be in the town, anywhere. She could have left, gone home already. He might already be too late...

Something bright glinted in the sun, distracting John from his search. He glanced down where he was standing - a raised part of the prom, over some rocks on the beach, and then stooped down for a closer look. He reached his arm through the railing to try and get it, then eventually conceded and lay down on his stomach to properly reach down onto the rocks. Finally his fingers found what he was searching for and he grasped it, standing up again, brushing the loose sand and grit from the front of his shirt.

In his hand was a diamond solitaire ring, a small square shaped diamond on a gold band. Without questioning it, he knew it had to be the ring Ruby had lost, the one that Billy had given to her. It was a pretty, understated ring. It probably would have cost Billy quite a lot - not in comparison to what a Beatle could afford - but still, enough.

John thought of Cynthia's wedding ring. A plain gold band, that Mimi's had actually given him the money to buy in a moment of benevolence. She couldn't even wear it most days, just in case someone realised who she was married to. John had never given her an engagement ring - there hadn't been time for an engagement.

For a moment, John fantasised that he'd been the one to give Ruby this ring. He imagined the look of delight on her face when he'd presented it to her. What would their wedding have been like? Would Mimi have been happier to see him marrying Ruby, rather than Cynthia? No, probably not. How would it have changed everything? Would the band still be where they are now? He might have had to get a job to support Ruby and the baby. They might have lived with Mimi or even Ruby's mother for a bit, but they would have needed their own place eventually. Would he have still gone to Hamburg? Or would that have been impossible if he'd already been married with a kid? Brian Epstein hadn't wanted John to marry Cynthia. He'd stopped short of actually saying it, but he'd definitely didn't want him to do it. John had been adamant, but then they'd ended up in the ridiculous situation they were in now with his secret wife and baby. It wasn't like people didn't know. Most of the press knew. They were just too frightened of Brian's wrath to report it.

Brian had worried that a married Beatle would diminish the group's appeal. If John had already been married and with a kid that would have been what? A year old by then? Would Brian have still wanted to be their manager? Would he have still thought they'd have the potential to make it? John imagined having to say goodbye to Paul and George. He couldn't hold them back, could he? He'd have to stay home and look after Ruby and the baby. He couldn't just up and go to London at the drop of a hat. They'd replace him, like Ringo had replaced Pete Best, they'd find another guitarist for John's place. Who...

'Lennon! John Lennon!' Some one yelled from a passing car, startling John from his daydream. He looked up as the car drove away, a young lad leaning out of the window, waving at him. Other people were looking around at him now, whispering to their friends. He slipped the ring into his trouser pocket and checked his watch. There was an hour and half before the first show. He could push it to two hours before they'd have to be on stage. He could probably walk around the town twice in that time. He knew the chances of finding her would be pretty slim, and getting slimmer every moment, but he had to try.

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