Chapter 7
This Just Might Be The End...

 Unfortunately, nobody was home. It took an hour or so to get back from out in the country. Nobody said a word on the way back to the house. George was too cold to talk. Paul was too busy concentrating on the slick road. Ringo was too afraid someone might snap at him again. And John was just plain confused by it all. He sat quietly in the passengers' seat, trying to sort this Paul-and-Julie-and-George-and-Ellen-and-the-mysteries-of-the-universe-sort-of-thing mess out.
 As they made their way back, George finally spoke. "Can we stop off at Ellen's?" he asked.
 "Why?" the other three asked at once.
 "She hurt you," Paul said.
 "Don't give in to her so easy," John backed up.
 "Let's keep on going," Ringo finished.
 "Aw, come on," George said. "I need to talk to her."
 Paul just kept on driving. George folded his arms and pouted.
 "Consider this a favor," John said as they got to the house. George just sighed.
 It wasn't that much fun in the house anymore. Paul and George mostly sat around and moped while John and Ringo were off in their own worlds. Ringo was especially heartbroken because Mr. Mousie had caught cold and he spent all his time cradling it in his arms, feeding it and talking softly. George wished he could go outside again but everyone told him to stay in. He had already caught the sniffles, would he like to try for a monster cold? George retorted by saying he'd be more careful in bundling up. But nothing. Nobody gave in. George seemed to be their prisoner. And he didn't like it one bit. Every time he mentioned Ellen, at least one of them gave George the "look".
 Around ten o'clock the next night, George sat straight up in bed and smacked his fist into his palm. He was sick and tired of being oppressed. And he was going to do something totally stupid to protest his oppression. George crept stealthily over to his dresser- very stealthily, since all four shared a room and any of the three could wake up and catch him- went into the bathroom, got dressed, snuck over to the hall closet and carefully put on his coat, hat, and all that good stuff. Silently opening the door and remembering to take a key with him, George crept out into the snowy wonderland.
 The light from the street lamps gave an orange glow to the freezing ice and snow around them. All was completely silent except for the crunching of his boots on snow or the click- slip, click- slip of them on ice. George had his hands stuffed deep into his pockets and was staring straight ahead. He knew where he was going. And he didn't care if he woke her up.
 Finally, George arrived at the lavender boarding house. He looked up at the bedroom on the second story that was encased in itself, like a tower. Ellen's room. There was no light except for a flickering candle next to the bed. George squinted hard and saw that she was reading. The poor girl obviously couldn't sleep. George didn't want to make a sound, for fear he'd wake Mrs. Applebee. Mrs. Applebee, the crotchety old lady who ran the house, had a strict law about no guys in the house after ten unless previously authorized by her. So all George could really do was just stand there and hope Ellen noticed soon. He was freezing.
 But Ellen didn't notice. She was either lost in her book or had fallen asleep sitting up. George knew what to do. He began to trample out a design in the front yard. It was very simple- just a heart and his initials to signify he had been there. George jumped from the yard to the sidewalk, thinking it would be okay because he didn't want to mess up his designs. However, the sidewalk was icy. George slipped and fell hard on his bottom.
 The noiseless commotion apparently snapped Ellen out of it. She went to the window and saw George trying to get up. He kept slipping until he saw her. Then George stood straight up. Ellen smiled- she had seen the front yard. From far away, she could still see into his eyes. They were the same. Nothing had changed. Of course! He wasn't scared of her.
 Ellen ran down the stairs and threw open the front door. Forgetting all about her bare feet, she ran across the snow and stopped a few feet from him. Looking down, she saw that George's early valentine was ruined.
 "Sorry about that," she said.
 "'S okay," George replied with a shrug. "It looked terrible anyway."
 Ellen laughed, nervous. "You know that it's past ten."
 "I wasn't planning on going in," George said. "Just wanted to come down here."
 "And...why is that?" Ellen asked.
 George shrugged again. "I just...wanted-to-see-you," he said quickly.
 But Ellen caught what he said. A smile crept across her face. "That's sweet of you," she said. In the dim light of the street lamp, you could still see red creeping up George's cheeks. It was either from cold or from embarrassment.
 "You know," he said, "you're just wearing your gown. You're going to catch a cold. What, you don't even have shoes on! I made the same mistake." George sniffled and coughed. "Now look at me."
 "If it means that much to you, I guess I'll go back inside," Ellen said.
 "We'll meet again when it's daylight and when you're dressed warm," George said, cracking a nervous smile. "I don't want two colds to worry about."
 Ellen smiled. George smiled. They both turned and went their separate ways.

 Julie thought a lot when she was in the tub. Especially today. Today had been a very hectic day at work so she didn't have the chance to think about the situation. She leaned back into the bubbles and thought about George and Paul. Her sensible side told her to go with Paul. He was the first one there, anyway, and he wasn't nearly as nervous as George to go on to other levels. Her compassionate side told her to go with George. He needed someone since he had been dumped, and didn't look in the mirror to preen every five minutes like Paul. George was ridiculously cute when he was nervous. And Paul was ridiculously cute when he preened. Julie loved the way Paul would do anything to make her laugh, even do something that might make him look like a total idiot. And she loved the way George got the most comical looks on his face for no reason at all.
 All of a sudden, the phone rang. Don't you hate it when you're in the bathtub and the phone goes off? Natasha couldn't answer the phone for her. Julie grumbled and put on her bathrobe. She would continue her therapy session later after she gave who was on the phone a piece of her mind.
 "Hello?" Julie asked grumpily.
 "Um, hi," Paul's voice came.
 "Oh! Hi," Julie said, snapping out of her grump.
 "Look, Julie, I was wondering if maybe you go somewhere?" Paul asked.
 "Sure," Julie said.
 "You catch my drift?" Paul asked. "You know what I'm trying to ask?"
 "Yeah," Julie said as if Paul should know.
 "Where would you like to go?" Paul asked, twirling the phone cord around his fingers.
 "Anyplace as long as it's good," Julie replied.
 "I just happen to know a lovely little bistro down the street from the theater," Paul said, his face brightening. He gave an OK sign to John and Ringo. "After that maybe we can take in a flick. Got anything in particular you'd like to see?"
 "The Vampire's Revenge?" Julie asked hopefully.
 "Eh...okay," Paul said, kind of winding down.
 "Oh, yeah, I saw that with George," Julie said casually. "He didn't seem to enjoy it."
 "I know how that movie works. I'll be there to protect you from the evil vampire. Oooooh! And I won't faint in the process," Paul joked.
 "Wait a minute..." There was a pause. "How did you know about that?"
 "I just guessed. I know George," Paul said.
 "Okay," Julie said.
 "Pick you up on Friday?" Paul asked.
 "Yeah," Julie said.
 "Bye," Paul said, a twinge of sadness in his voice.
 Julie stopped him. "What's wrong?"
 "Nothing, just a little anxious to get to Friday," Paul dismissed the thought quickly. "I'll see you then."
 "All right, bye," Julie said. She hung up the phone and smiled. The decision had been made for her.
 Paul walked over to the table. "So it's like, 10:00 at night and we're all of a sudden wide awake."
 "I feel like having a party," John said.
 "We can't, not right now," Ringo sat down backwards in a chair.
 "When George gets back, he's going to go under the third degree," Paul grumbled. "I bet you anything he-"
 The door opened, and in came George. He didn't notice the other three at the table. George hung up his coat, hat, and scarf in the closet. Turning around, he saw Paul, John, and Ringo.
 "It's about time," Paul said. "Where have you been?"
 "Does it matter one way or another? You've got a date with Julie anyway. I don't think I need her." George sat down at the table with the rest of them.
 John narrowed his eyes. "The sneaky little rat went out to see Ellen, I bet."
 "I was dressed warm," George replied. "So what was there to worry about? We barely talked for five minutes."
 "A lot can happen in five minutes," Ringo said. He slurped through his straw at the bottom of his glass. "So?"
 "So what?" George asked.
 "So what happened? What did she have to say?" Ringo waited.
 "Nothing much. Why do you want to know?" George asked, falling asleep.
 Paul hunched over just as George began to snore. "What are the odds of this whole mess getting straightened out by Friday?"
 "Umxslim to none," John replied.
 Paul gave John a stony stare. "Thanks a lot," he said sarcastically.

 Chapter 8