Edward Cullen pressed his foot harder against the accelerator of the late-model, ’64 Chevrolet Impala. The engine roared to life, but the enormous car didn’t pick up much speed.
“I wish Carlisle had purchased the model with the 425-horsepower, big-block, V8 engine instead of this pathetic Turbo Thrift option,” he whined, twisting his full, pouty lips in chagrin. “I might as well be driving an Edsel.”
Alice Cullen turned her gaze away from the passenger-side window and offered her brother a half-hearted smile. “You should have taken the Thunderbird,” she suggested.
“But then we couldn’t have tagged along,” shouted Alice’s best friend Charlotte from the middle of the Impala’s back seat. Charlotte patted the knee of Jasper, Alice’s husband, who was sitting to her right, then rested her head on the shoulder her boyfriend Peter, who was sitting to her left.
“Gosh, we wouldn’t have wanted that, now, would we?” Edward said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Don’t be such a spoil-sport, Edward,” Alice admonished her brother. “You spend far too much time by your lonesome, playing sad, romantic ballads on the piano. It’s good that we four accompany you into town when you have your lessons. And this way Charlotte and I can go shopping for clothes while Jasper and Peter take in a movie matinee.”
“I do hope the theatres are showing something besides ‘A Hard Day’s Night’,” Jasper moaned.
“I read in the paper that ‘The Last Man on Earth’ is showing at the Dunbar,” Edward said with a laugh. “Vincent Price plays a vampire hunter. Should be entertaining.”
“We’re approaching a hill,” Peter announced, pointedly ignoring Edward’s remark. “Floor it and see if we can’t actually hit sixty for a couple of seconds.”
Edward smiled and pushed down harder on the accelerator. The Impala crested the hill, then gained speed quickly as it flew down the forest-lined, treacherously-sloped, country lane. He ground the pedal to the floor as he maneuvered the car around the curve at the bottom of this hill, delighting in the rush of the G-force. But then his whoop of joy very nearly turned into a curse as he noticed a black Cadillac limousine approaching on the other side of the road.
He slammed on the brakes and set the Impala spinning into the path of the oncoming car. The limo swerved to avoid it and slid onto the road’s unpaved shoulder at a precipitous speed. The Cadillac’s front right tire ran over a large, jagged rock and punctured on the spot with a loud, popping sound.
Alice rolled her topaz-colored eyes. “Now you’ve done it, Edward,” she sighed as her brother pulled the Impala to the opposite shoulder of the road and killed the engine. “We’re going to have to act like Good Samaritans.”
“You get out of the car, my love, and charm the unfortunate passengers of that luckless limousine with your astonishingly good looks,” Jasper called up to her. “I’ll hang back here with Peter and Charlotte. Best not throw too many of us into this sudden brush with strangers.”
Alice threw him an understanding smile, then climbed out of the car and walked across the street with Edward.
The chauffeur stepped out of limousine and slammed the door shut behind him with a theatrical flourish. “What the hell were you doing, racing your car like that on this winding road? You could have killed us all!”
“Sorry,” Edward apologized. “I wasn’t thinking. But please, let us be of service now.”
The chauffeur scowled at him, but then Alice stepped forward, ran her hands through her perfectly coiffed short hair, and offered the driver a dazzling smile.
“Please excuse my brother,” she said in a seductively warm voice. “He’s only just gotten his license, and he doesn’t know how to handle the car very well yet. I’m sure our father, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, will have some strong words with him when we get home.”
The driver stood still, mouth agape, dumbfounded by Alice’s beauty. “Oh, um, er, yes,” he finally managed to mutter after several seconds of awkward silence. “You’re Dr. Cullen’s children? He, um, er, well, he saved my brother’s life last year. Your dad’s a saint!”
Alice laughed. “He’s a brilliant surgeon,” she agreed. “Though I can assure you, he’s no saint. Now, let me look at your tire, please. I’m not quite the mechanic that my sister Rosalie is. But I can manage.”
“I’d better not assist, Alice,” Edward protested. “If my piano teacher sees any grease stains on my hands at today’s lesson, she’ll give me an earful to match the scolding that Carlisle is sure to give me about racing his car. I’ll fetch Jasper.” He turned and jogged back to the Impala.
The chauffeur took off his cap and scratched his head. “Your brother calls your father by his first name?”
Alice frowned almost imperceptibly, then immediately curled her lips back into a smile. “Oh, we’re very informal at home,” she replied. “Now, let’s get your tire jack out of the trunk, shall we?”
As they walked along the side of the limousine, a chorus of whistles erupted from the middle of the car. The back door flung open. Four floppy-haired young men sprang out of the vehicle and ran up to Alice.
“I can help you, Miss,” insisted the skinniest young man. “I love dinking with cars.”
“I’m not terribly mechanical, but I can hold the tools for you,” offered the shortest man.
“And I can hold the wingnuts for you after you take them off the wheel,” the handsomest of the four men proposed.
The last man doffed his black, horn-rimmed glasses and slipped them into the breast pocket of his suit jacket. “I’m no good with cars, love, but I am filled with admiration for any woman who knows her way around a tire jack.” He squinted his eyes to get a better look at Alice, then chuckled and put his glasses back on. “Hell, no point acting vain in your presence, darlin’. I can see you much better with these on!”
Jasper approached the limousine. “My wife is a beautiful woman, isn’t she?” he said gruffly. He rested his hand possessively on Alice’s shoulder and glared at the small crowd of men.
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t know you were married, love,” said the man with the glasses. “You’re not wearing a ring.”
Alice shrugged. “I left it on my dresser this morning. It didn’t match my outfit.”
Jasper scowled at the four young men, but then his expression softened. “Wait, I recognize you four. I’ve seen your faces somewhere. I just know it.”
Alice turned to Jasper and giggled. “Yes, dear, I imagine even you have seen the Beatles before. They are rather famous.”
“Ah,” Jasper said, feigning a smile. He extended his hand in greeting. “Thought you looked familiar. Now which one of you is which?”
The band’s manager Brian Epstein stepped out of the car’s front seat and offered introductions while the Beatles shook hands with the Cullens. Then Alice and Jasper helped the driver collect the tire jack and spare, and walked with him to the side of the vehicle. The Beatles followed close at their heels. The chauffeur jacked up the vehicle, then Alice and Jasper started removing the wingnuts in a star pattern. John, Paul and Ringo each enthusiastically held out their hands to hold a wingnut, while George crouched down beside Alice and helped her remove the damaged tire while Jasper and the chauffeur positioned the spare into place.
“How quickly can you lot fix this tire?” Brian asked. Then he turned towards Jasper. “We’re on our way to Empire Stadium for a quick sound check, then we need to eat some dinner before tonight’s concert.” His shoulders slumped. “We had thought it would be nice to drive through the countryside this afternoon, to see the famous forests of the Pacific Northwest, but I realize now that was a mistake.”
Alice stood up and offered Brian her trademark seductive smile. “We’re almost done,” she said. But then she frowned as she realized the band’s manager seemed curiously impervious to her beauty.
Paul stepped in front of Brian and stared dreamily at Alice. “Pity we can’t invite you to a party after tonight’s show. We’d all love to thank you for helping us change our tire. But we’ll be getting on a plane straight away and flying to Los Angeles as soon as the concert’s done.”
“You won’t be doing any more sightseeing in Vancouver then?” Alice asked.
John pushed Paul aside and wormed his way closer to Alice. “Sadly, no. We just flew up from Seattle, but we didn’t get to see any of that town either.”
Alice nodded. “My father used to live near Seattle. In a town called Forks. He often talks about moving back there someday.”
“Ah, we all approach forks in the roads of our lives sometimes, don’t we, love?” John replied with a sly grin. “And then we have to decide which path to choose.”
Jaspar cursed under his breath and called up to John. “When you’re done flirting with my wife, I’d appreciate it if you could hand me the wingnut in your hand.”
“Oh, right,” John laughed.
“Aren’t you supposed to be married too?” asked another man’s voice. “I could have sworn I saw the words ‘Sorry girls, he’s married’ projected under your face when I watched you perform on the Ed Sullivan show a few months ago.”
John turned towards the speaker and noticed the skinny teenager who had been driving the Impala had returned. John cleared his throat. “Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. My wife and I are quite happily married, too, I might add.”
Paul smirked. “Yeah, right,” he laughed.
John exchanged knowing looks with Paul, then turned back towards Edward with an arrogant gleam in his eye. “I knocked up my college sweetheart a few years back, so I married her,” he admitted. “So you needn’t worry about your exquisitely beautiful sister. I am not trying to steal her away from her fellow.”
Edward snorted derisively. “You might sing about love in your songs, Mr. Lennon. But it seems to me that a married man who flirts so shamelessly with a woman he just met must know nothing of true love.”
John scowled at Edward. “And dare I ask, lad, what you know about true love? Pray tell, is there a fair maiden somewhere in this backwater Canadian wilderness who has laid claim your undying devotion?”
Edward lowered his gaze to his shoes. “I am keeping myself unspoiled until the day I meet such a woman.”
George, Ringo and Paul broke into giggles. John curled his lips into an ironic smile. “Well, good for you, son. I hope you don’t have to wait too much longer. It’s hard being your age and pining for the touch of a woman. I do remember, I’ll have you know. My teenage years sometimes seemed to stretch out forever.”
Edward looked up and matched John’s grin with an even more knowing smile. “Tell me about it.”
Jasper and the chauffeur placed the shredded tire in the trunk of the limo, then turned towards Alice and Edward.
“We’re done, darling,” Jasper said. “Now we can drive into town so you and Charlotte can shop while Edward has his piano lesson.”
“Charlotte?” Paul interrupted. “You have another young lady in your party?”
“Is she as pretty as you?” George asked, throwing Alice a goofy smile.
“Come and see for yourself,” Alice laughed. She gestured for the Beatles to follow her across the street. Then she opened the back door of the Impala. “Charlotte, Peter, step outside for a moment and meet the Beatles!”
Charlotte and Peter slipped out of the back seat and immediately covered their eyes with sunglasses before extending their hands in greeting.
“You don’t need to wear shades,” Ringo admonished them. “The sky’s so grey here. It almost reminds me of Liverpool!”
Peter said nothing in reply. Charlotte bit her puffy bottom lip and smiled.
Brian Epstein approached the Impala, followed by Jasper and Edward. “So there are five of you, are there?” He reached into the pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out an envelope. “I have some guest passes for tonight’s concert.” He counted out five tickets, then handed them to Alice. “To thank you for helping us change our tire.”
“That’s very kind of you,” Alice replied.
“It’s the least we can do,” said Paul. He stared at Charlotte and breathed heavily. “Damn, you and your friend have got to be the most beautiful women I have ever seen. Is this, um, er…” He tilted his head towards Peter. “Is this your boyfriend?”
“I’m her soulmate,” Peter said contemptuously. “We are bonded.”
“Ah, I see,” Paul said, wincing and retreating. “Well, um, I do hope you lot can come to the concert tonight. Maybe you can even drop by backstage before we go on, so we can say a proper farewell.”
Charlotte smiled at him seductively. “Yes, that sounds lovely.”
“Right,” Brian said, clearing his throat. “I’ll tell the security guards to be on the lookout for you. Now, lads, I think we’ve seen enough of the countryside. It’s time we drove back to the city to get ready for the show.”
He led his protégés across the street. The four band members kept throwing glances over their shoulders at the two beautiful young women. Then they climbed back into their limousine and drove off.
Charlotte removed her sunglasses and looked at Peter. Her ruby-colored irises darkened slowly into a blood-red hue, then turned black. “Those four young Englishmen smelled simply delicious. Don’t you agree?”
Peter slipped off his glasses and looked back at her, his black eyes shining like polished obsidian. “Indeed they do, my darling. Indeed they do.”
* * *
Jasper led his four companions through the back hall of the Empire Stadium to the Beatles’ dressing room. Charlotte and Peter followed close at his heels, while Edward and Alice held back a short distance behind.
Edward leaned towards Alice and whispered, “I really don’t think this is a good idea. Peter and Charlotte are still acting hungry.”
“Nonsense,” Alice replied. “Charlotte snuck off while we were shopping and came back to the store with red eyes, so she should be sated. And Jasper told me he saw Peter with a tramp in the alley outside the cinema. So his thirst should be quenched too.”
Edward sighed. “Alright then. I suppose if they start acting weird, Jaspar can keep them in check.”
Alice nodded. “Now let’s get a move on. I, for one, would like to get some autographs to commemorate our run-in with this band. It’s not every day that I actually get to meet the people who keep our family in such considerable comfort.”
Edward slackened his pace and furrowed his brow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Alice laughed. “Oh, come on, Edward. You know I use my gift of clairvoyance when I play the stock market. Two years ago I had a vision of these boys from Liverpool taking over the world’s pop music scene, so I started following the British trade magazines. And as soon as they signed with a label, I invested in their record company, Electrical and Musical Industries, Ltd., or EMI for short. I dare say, with the crappy contracts those poor lads signed, we may have earned more money off their albums than they have.”
Edward smirked, then jogged ahead to catch up with Peter and Charlotte.
Brian Epstein held the door to the dressing room open for the Cullen party, and greeted them as they stepped inside.
“I’m so glad you could make it on such short notice,” said Brian.
“How could we pass up such a mouth-watering invitation?” Charlotte replied. She straightened her sunglasses, then shook hands slowly with each of the Beatles.
“You can take off your shades now, miss,” Paul said. “You’re indoors.”
“Charlotte and I have very sensitive eyes,” Peter stated brusquely. “You shouldn’t tell people what to wear when you don’t know better.”
“Um, right, then, sorry,” Paul stammered, shaken by Peter’s response.
Ringo stepped forward. “We wanted to thank you for your help with the tire. So we’ve autographed some copies of our latest record for each of you.” He pointed to a pile of LP’s on the table in the middle of the room.
“Thanks,” said Edward indifferently, rolling his eyes.
“You don’t sound terribly grateful,” John noted.
“I’m sorry,” Edward said with a forced smile. “It’s just that I don’t much care for pop music. I prefer classical.”
“Well, George can play a little classical guitar,” Ringo said. He walked to the corner of the room, grabbed the acoustic José Ramirez guitar propped against the wall, and handed it to George. “Play him that solo you worked out for ‘And I Love Her’.”
George sat down and tuned the instrument. “Perhaps Paul could sing while I play.”
“Perhaps Paul could dance while he sings,” suggested Charlotte. She grabbed Paul’s left hand, leaned her head against his chest, and wrapped her right arm tightly around his waist.
“Um, sure, I guess I can,” laughed Paul. He looked at John and smirked.
“Won’t your bonded soulmate mind that you’re dancing with another bloke?” John asked Charlotte sarcastically.
“Nonsense,” Peter said, turning to face John. “She can have her fun. Hey, don’t tap out your cigarette quite yet. I’ll share a smoke with you while your friends play their song. Jasper, fetch me one of those bottles of coke on that table over there. I’d like a drink too.”
Ringo stepped closer to Alice and Edward and leaned in so he could speak in a whisper. “Do your friends always act like this?”
Alice sighed. “No, they’re usually quite polite. But I suspect that being in the presence of you four Beatles is setting them off.”
John slapped his packet of Kents against his palm and extracted a cigarette for Peter. “Do you need my lighter as well?”
“No, I’ll just light mine from yours,” Peter said. He placed the cigarette John had offered him in his mouth, then grabbed John’s cigarette out of his lips and lit his own tip with the glowing embers. Then he handed John’s cigarette back.
“You folks sure have some strange customs here in Canada,” John said disdainfully.
Peter took a long drag on his cigarette, then exhaled a series of concentric smoke rings.
John’s frown curled into a lopsided smile. “Alright, I’ll admit, that was cool. I’ve always wanted to learn how to do that. Can you teach me?”
“Sure,” said Peter. “Step a little closer so you can watch my mouth.”
John leaned closer to Peter so that their faces almost touched. George started playing his guitar, and Paul started serenading his clingy dance partner.
Suddenly, Edward’s amber-colored eyes grew wide. He saw Peter drop his chin towards John’s throat at the very same moment that Charlotte was lifting her mouth to Paul’s neck. He elbowed Alice in the ribs.
Alice blanched. “Jasper, quick!” she shouted across the room.
Jasper immediately dropped the two bottles of Coke he was carrying and threw a steely look at Peter and Charlotte. The Coke bottles landed with a loud crash on the hard cement floor, sending shards of broken glass and splashes of sticky soda everywhere, and causing a very useful distraction from the sight of Charlotte and Peter’s bared fangs.
Each of the Beatles turned towards Jasper. Jasper continued to glower at Charlotte and Peter. The two would-be assailants staggered backwards, away from Paul and John, as if in a drunken stupor. Edward caught Charlotte in his arms, while Alice held tight to Peter’s waist.
John sneered at Jasper. “He’s broken a glass, broken a glass. A glass, he’s broke today.”
“I’ll call for the janitor,” Brian offered.
“No, wait, call a doctor instead!” cried Paul. “Something’s wrong with Charlotte! She’s gone all white!”
Edward flinched, then focused an earnest look at Paul. “No, please don’t bother. I’m sure she’ll be alright.”
“I suspect she’s just feeling the wine she was drinking earlier,” Jasper said derisively. He stepped over the puddle of spilled soda and approached Peter. He grabbed him by the elbow and pulled him away from Alice. “These two polished off a few bottles at dinner before we arrived here. Didn’t you, Peter?”
Peter started laughing like a drunken maniac.
“We’ll get them out of your way,” Alice said apologetically. “So sorry to have bothered you.” She stepped to the side to give Jasper some space while he led Peter out of the room.
Edward started following him, guiding Charlotte away from the band. But when they reached the door, Charlotte turned around suddenly and flung her sunglasses at Paul. “Here, take them! I only have eyes for you!” She stared at the Beatles’ bassist with a mesmerizing gaze, her garnet-colored eyes sparkling in the dressing room’s harsh overhead lighting.
“Thanks for the records,” Alice said shyly. She grabbed the autographed albums off the table, then hurried away.
As she stepped through the door, she heard Paul say to John, “Damn, that bird’s eyes were as red as rubies! No wonder she looked so pale. She’s an albino!”
Alice smiled as she raced down the hall to catch up with her brother and husband. Edward and Jasper had taken off at fast pace, and were nearly at the arena’s back exit. She held the door open for them while they led their errant friends outside, then ran with them to the Chevrolet Impala that was parked in the V.I.P. lot behind the building. She helped Edward guide Charlotte into the car, while Jaspar pushed Peter into the backseat beside her.
“I’m going to run home,” Jasper said. “I’ll let Carlisle know what to expect when you four arrive.”
“Thanks,” said Alice. She kissed Jasper on the lips and smiled. “Nice job knocking those two out and making them act drunk. You have a real gift.”
“So do you, my darling,” Jaspar replied. He held the front door of the Impala open while Alice climbed inside, then took off at a fast sprint.
“Dammit! I wish I could race him home,” Edward said as he turned the key in the ignition. “But this useless car…”
“I know, I know, it drives like an Edsel,” Alice laughed.
Edward switched the radio to the classical music station and sighed appreciatively. “Ah, Brahms. Now that’s what I call music.”
“It is lovely,” Alice agreed.
Edward cast a quick glance at the two passengers in the backseat through his rear view mirror. Peter and Charlotte were making googly eyes at each other and whispering sweet nothings. Edward shook his head and drove the car out of the parking lot.
“Still, I’m sorry that you missed the Beatles concert,” Edward said with a note of chagrin in his voice. “I know you were excited about it.”
“Don’t be silly,” Alice said. “I’m more interested in their record sales than their live performances.”
Edward chuckled. “Then I suppose it’s a good thing you got Jasper to intervene when you did. Otherwise, those two gluttons in the back seat might have put an abrupt end to Beatlemania tonight.”
“Oh, never mind about Beatlemania,” Alice said dismissively. She rubbed her hand over the raw silk skirt she had purchased that afternoon while she was shopping and sighed. “I saved Paul McCartney’s life for a more important reason. In seven years’ time, he’s going to become the father of a baby girl named Stella, who will grow up to be one of the most important fashion designers of the twenty-first century! I’ve seen visions of her amazing clothing line. It’s to die for!”
* * *
Inspired by the novel “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer (2005).