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The Office - Chapter Four
When they reached the alley, John turned Celia to face him and said…”Celia, you mustn’t repeat any of what you have seen or heard today. My work for the Preservation Society is, well, a sideline, if you get my meaning.” He did not release her, but continued to regard her as though gauging his chances that she’d reveal him.
“You mean you actually work for them? And Stone doesn’t know it? John, you could get fired. What are you thinking?” Celia disengaged herself from his grip and walked briskly toward the exit, only then recalling her dress. She turned quickly, her face as red as a beet.
John just smiled and put his jacked around her again. “Let’s get you home.”
Celia forgot to be ashamed the minute she saw the laughter in John’s eyes. He had the most amazing hazel eyes and she’d never noticed them before. What planet have I been on?
John took the driver’s seat again; Celia didn’t complain. She just explained to him how to get to her little apartment, all the while going over in her head whether she’d put everything that could possibly embarrass her away.
At the door, Celia fumbled with the keys. She felt awkward like she was on a date and this was the kiss – no kiss moment. She was immediately greeted by a mewling cat. John reached down and picked Mr. Baby right up and began to pet him. Mr. Baby didn’t usually like strangers, but he certainly liked John.
Celia ran to her room to change. “I’ll just be a minute, John.”
Before she could get her blue dress zipped all the way up, someone started banging on the door. John opened it. A woman with tears streaming down her face stood there holding onto two small children.
Celia ran to the door when she heard Ester’s voice asking for her. “Celia, I prayed you were home. He’s drinking again. Please take the children. Please.”
“Ester, I have to go back to work. I just came home to change my ripped dress.” Celia held her hands out to the woman.
“Please Celia, you know what he will do. You are the only one I trust. Please keep my babies safe.” She gave the little ones a push and they both ran to Celia and wrapped their little arms around her. Then the woman was gone.
John reached over and zipped Celia’s dress the rest of the way up.
“John, what am I going to do? That man would hurt these children if he knew where they were. That’s why she brings them to me when he’s passed out.” Celia ran her fingers through the children’s hair and cupped their little faces with her hands.
“You’re just going to have to call in sick for the rest of the day. Do you have the time?” John was reaching for the phone.
“Yes, but I have a project due in two days for Mr. Stone.” Celia was deathly afraid of the elder Mr. Stone.
John was dialing. “You’ll get it done. I’ve never known you to miss a deadline.”
Celia was flabbergasted! How did John know about her work habits?
“Hello, this is John Tucker. Celia Brown has taken ill and won’t be able to return to work today. I’ll be taking the rest of the day myself. Thank you Olivia.” John said to the human resources clerk.
Celia didn’t know how to react. What was John doing?
John turned from the phone and looked at the children. Then he looked at Celia. The look was…protective. “Celia, whoever this man is, the one you hide the children from, he’s obviously dangerous. I can’t have you here alone in this apartment if he comes looking. I mean, look at your locks Celia! They wouldn’t stop me if I really wanted in. You need to secure this place a lot better.”
“I’m moving to the co-op on 42nd, remember. It’s nice and has lots of security.” Celia didn’t know why she felt so defensive all of a sudden.
John walked to the door and turned all the locks. Just as he did, something bashed into the door. John jumped back and got between the door and Celia. “Go get in the bedroom and lock the door.” He whispered.
Celia ran to the bedroom. She got her brother’s baseball bat and told the kids to lock the door behind her. Crying softly, they nodded their little heads. The youngest got under the blankets on the bed, eyes wide. Celia stopped and kissed them both. Then she ran out.
“I told you to get in the bedroom!” John hissed.
“I won’t leave you.” Celia brandished her baseball bat.
John smiled. Celia couldn’t categorize that smile, but she liked it – a lot.
Something bashed against the door again and the wood around the hinges began to splinter. Celia was scared.
“Call 911 Celia; do it now!” John stood unarmed before the door.
“What is the nature of your emergency?” The 911 operator asked
Celia tried to stay calm, “someone is bashing down my apartment door!”
While Celia was on the line with 911, she tossed her bat to John. And none too soon. With one final bash, the hinges gave way and the door broke in.
Celia screamed. A very angry man with a metal post had just broken down her door and now he had produced a gun.
John didn’t wait; he swung his bat and knocked the gun out of the man’s hand.
Celia screamed again at what she saw next. “John, look out!”