EXCERPT: 'Miss O'Dell'

It was all such a frenetic, fantastic whirlwind, with one event following right on the heels of another, that I didn't have time to go to work. Or so I told myself. For the first few days I phoned in sick, but after a while I didn't even bother to call. All I wanted to do was be with Derek for the few short weeks before he left. When I finally handed in my notice, Ted Randal was clearly irritated with me, but truthfully I didn't care -- I was young and carefree, Derek was paying for all my gasoline and meals, and he was introducing me to so many people in the record and entertainment industries that I figured I'd find another job without a lot of trouble. In the meantime, I was having too much fun to worry about much of anything. I was living in the moment, and the moment was all about Derek.

One evening, just a few days before Derek left for London, was particularly memorable. I was in my apartment, getting ready to meet Derek at A&M Records, when he called.

"Chris, dear, tonight we're having dinner with Peter Asher," Derek said.

Peter Asher! I struggled to contain my excitement. Peter Asher, formerly of Peter and Gordon, the British duo! Peter Asher, brother of Jane Asher, Paul McCartney's girlfriend! Peter Asher! I thought. Wow!

"Okay," I said nonchalantly.

I remember thinking how well-mannered and quintessentially English Peter was as he dabbed at the corners of his mouth with his white linen napkin and talked to Derek about this new business venture called Apple. He had much redder hair than I had imagined from his photographs, and he wore black Buddy Holly-type glasses that might have looked goofy on someone else but made him look cute in a refined sort of way, if that makes any sense at all. Prim and proper and not one for small talk, Peter focused most of his attention on Derek. I assumed he was shy because he didn't look at me very often, even though Derek kept trying to include me in the conversation. When Peter did turn my way, he swiveled his whole body around at the same time he turned his head, which seemed to me a very polite gesture and a way of giving me his full attention.

"Yes, my dear," he said to me at one point, and I liked that, having Peter Asher call me "dear." He had a really sweet smile. I sipped my wine and listened politely as the two men talked about the Beatles' grand plans for Apple, including separate divisions for publishing, film, electronics, and even an Apple boutique. Peter was already working as head of A&R, the artists and repertoire division of Apple Records.

After we dropped Peter at the airport for his flight to London, Derek said the most amazing thing.

"You should think about coming to London, Chris."

"London?" I wasn't sure what he meant. Was he inviting me to come visit him?

"Apple is going to be huge," Derek said. "It would be a very good time to appear, you know."

I laughed, delighted by the idea of "appearing" at Apple. Would I just walk in and ask for a job? Was Derek serious? It seemed so preposterous. I didn't have any savings, and I didn't know a soul in London except for Derek and now Peter. I couldn't just pack up and move to London without a job or a place to live -- it was a fabulous fantasy, a scene that I could play out in my mind or in front of my mirror, picturing myself having tea with Pattie Harrison or chatting with George, Ringo, Paul, or John in a real English pub. And when I listened to Derek, sometimes I even believed the dream might come true.

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