First three chapters of Celia's Knight
The sun was up and a beautiful new day was at hand. Mike Jackson stood looking out the window wondering why he was at the hospital, but there really wasn’t anywhere else he had to be. The multi-car dealership he had inherited from his family pretty much ran itself. He checked his calendar and had nothing in particular to do on this Tuesday so he resigned himself to waiting for word on Celia.
He took a sip of coffee and glanced at the man who had become his best friend. He’d met Martin Taylor years ago when he had first come to L.A. Mike had been a mechanic then working at one of the five dealerships his family owned.
Martin sat on the couch his arm wrapped around Randi, the new love of his life. Mike wanted to be angry with Martin for running to Celia’s side, but he couldn’t. Martin was a stand-up guy. He wouldn’t leave a friend, or an ex-girlfriend, stranded.
The ER had been packed. Several people had recognized Martin, so he had left. He came back an hour later wearing a hat and sunglasses. One of the nurses had promised to let them know when there was an update on Celia.
Truth be known, if it were not for Martin’s star status they would be in the dark about Celia. Since none of her family had arrived, they were at the mercy of the hospital. One of the head nurses was a fan of Martin’s and had set them up in this secluded waiting room. Now, all they could do was wait.
Mike turned back to the parking lot. He’d only known Celia a short time but had become attached to her. It would hurt if he lost her. He was angry. He wanted to hit someone. He wanted to curse the drunk who hit Celia. Thankfully, he had been taken to another hospital or Mike might be making his way to find the idiot who had decided to drive while drinking.
As usual, the drunk had sustained minor injuries while Celia had a broken leg and possibly, a serious head injury. The nurse said she had not been wearing her seatbelt so she also had several minor cuts and bruises. Mike couldn’t wait to know she was okay. He drank the rest of his coffee and, in frustration, crushed the cup before walking the few feet to toss it into the trash.
Martin rose and walked over. “I wonder when we’ll get an update.”
“I can only assume it’s a good thing. You know, no news is good news.” Mike crossed his arms trying not to appear anxious.
“I suppose,” Martin said, “bit it’s still irritating. It’s been two hours, maybe three, since the nurse said they had misread the x-ray and that she hadn’t been taken in for surgery.”
Mike shook his head. “We’re lucky your name got us this far. I think you’ve forgotten what it’s like in the real world. In most cases, they wouldn’t have told us anything much less cart us off to a VIP waiting room and deliver coffee and doughnuts.”
“Why don’t you go check, Mike?” Randi asked, as she came to stand by Martin. “They might have an update by now.”
Randi seemed to understand the turmoil that was brewing below the surface. A slight scowl disappeared from his face as she spoke, “Martin, maybe you can check with Celia’s family and see if they have a flight yet. Her parents might be able to call the hospital and give their permission to contact you with updates.
Randi was trying to be a buffer and, the way he felt, that was a good thing. She reached into Martin’s jacket, took out his phone and handed it to him. “I’m sure they have flight plans by now.”
“I can do that.” Martin took the phone, gave her a quick smile and an even quicker kiss before making the call.
Randi looked at Mike and crossed her arms. He could guess from the raised brow that he was going to get a sermon. “I understand your frustration, and I know Martin is kind of out of the loop on the normal workings of everyday life for the poor and unnoticed, but is this necessary?”
“I know. That was uncalled for. It’s not him I’m angry with.”
“Are you sure?” she asked. “Because I think otherwise….”
“You don’t pull any punches do you?”
“No need to. I understand this triangle. I know your worries and I feel that we’re on common ground.”
“Does Martin have feelings for Celia?” Mike asked.
“Not like you mean. Will he rush to her side because he feels guilt or responsibility? Yes.”
“Guilt? What does he have to feel guilty about? She was in my car.”
“I’m sure he feels some guilt… though it’s not warranted, just as yours shouldn’t be. I doubt if you forced Celia to borrow your car. Martin feels guilty because of the break-up; because of the way he kicked her out of his house, out of his life. He’s just that kind of a person.”
“You’re right and I knew he would come running, just as he would have if it had been me or Emma. He’s a good friend. I guess what I’m feeling is more jealously than anything.”
“I know. You’re afraid this might drive them back together.”
Mike nodded and looked at Randi. She was a beautiful girl and he could see why Martin had fallen for her. Here she was by his side, being a friend and actually seeming to care about his ex. “I suppose,” he said, glancing at Martin to make sure he was still on the phone, “that you might have the same concern?”
“Yes. I’d be a bit naive to not consider the obvious turnout of such an event. I’m really hoping I’m wrong.”
Mike sighed and turned. They were thinking the same thing. When Celia came out of this, where would all the pieces of this puzzle fit? Would Martin and Celia find each other again and leave him and Randi out in the cold? He didn’t know the answer and, as he glanced into Randi’s eyes, he could tell that she didn’t either.
Even though there was no real reason for Mike and Martin to be at odds with each other, Randi thought it best to separate them for a while. Mike was frustrated and his anger was about to cloud his normally sunny disposition.
She moved to where Martin was on the phone. He looked up and spoke softly, “I’m on hold while they call the hospital. They won’t be here until late this evening.”
“That’s not good.”
“No, it’s not. They’re talking with someone who will make sure the hospital keeps me notified about Celia’s condition.”
Randi wanted to say ‘no’ but she knew until the family got there, Martin would want to stay close by. She only hoped that after they arrived, he would feel free to leave.
She didn’t want to show how much she did not like this situation, so she nodded. She felt sorry for Celia, but to be very honest, she didn’t want Martin here. She busied her mind by reading over his shoulder. The note before him had a time jotted down for their flight.
Randi felt like Celia was winning this round. She knew it was selfish to think about Martin’s ex in this way and was determined to keep her true feelings hidden. Martin did not need to know how much she disliked Celia. He needed her support and, after all, that was why she was there.
Fifteen minutes later Martin ended the call. His brow was furrowed as he spoke, “I don’t like it that they want me to stay here as if I’m in charge.” Martin rose, pushed the note and phone into his pocket and ran his fingers through his hair. It was easy to see that the last part of the phone conversation had rattled him.
Randi allowed Martin time to pace then stepped toward him. He held out his hands and she took them. Instead of just holding hands, he pulled her arms around his neck and smiled. “You don’t know how grateful I am for you being here. I need you with me but I’ll understand if you need to go”
“I’m fine, and since I’m still working for you, it’s up to you when I leave.”
This brought on a real smile and for a few seconds he seemed to forget about his problems. “I like the sound of that and I may put you to work. I could use a distraction. Do you have any ideas?”
Randi grinned and glanced toward the door that, for now, was closed. “I think I can handle that request but it might get us thrown out.”
Martin leaned in, bringing his parted lips to hers for an electric kiss. Being through something traumatic often made people aware of what they could be missing. Martin was showing her what he was feeling and hospital VIP room or not, she didn’t hold back either.
After a few minutes, Martin slowed the pace and spoke between kisses, “Thanks. I needed that.”
“My pleasure.” Randi breathed in deeply as Martin again showed her some of the passion he was feeling. “Really. It was my pleasure,” she said drawing out the last word as he wrapped up his point by biting her bottom lip ever so playfully.”
“You’re a bad one, Martin Taylor.”
“You could be right but I can’t help it if you make me realize what I’ve been missing.”
“I’m glad.” Randi brushed back his hair and rested her arms around his neck. “I know this isn’t easy and I was serious. If you need anything just say the word. I can go out and find a motel. I’ll pick up some cold cuts, bread, snacks and drinks.”
“That would be great. We’ll walk down, find an ATM and you can head out. Once you have a room, let me know. I’ve got to get out of this place. Mike can stay for a while.”
“I think he may be ready, in more ways than one.” Randi wasn’t sure if she should bring this up but the timing was perfect.
“What do you mean?”
“I think he feels responsible for Celia. She was in his car. He said earlier she was going to see Sue but I wonder if she was running an errand for him.”
“It’s hard to tell. Do you think he’s feeling more than that?”
Randi didn’t have to say anything. The expression on her face said it all, even though she didn’t mean for it to. Martin cocked one brow and ran his hand up her back. “You know something or sense it? Did he mention he had feelings for her?”
“Not like you mean. I could tell he was something… maybe jealous. I get the feeling he’s like the old mother hen, very protective. I’m just not one hundred percent sure why. Is it because he feels sorry for her, or is there more?”
“I noticed, too. I would never have thought he would care for her, but he’s angry. I could see it and you saw it. I’m not an idiot. I know why you sent him off.”
Randi shrugged. “I didn’t mean for it to be so obvious. I thought you needed some space. I know the two of you are not in a competition.”
Martin placed his hands on Randi’s shoulders. “I hope you really do know that. I’m here out of concern. I don’t have feelings for Celia.”
“I know,” Randi said trying to feel certain of her own words and his feelings. From the expression Martin gave her, she wasn’t sure how convincing she was.
“Randi, I love you.” A slow smile played about his lips. “You have nothing to worry about. I am here but my heart is not in it.” In case words were not enough, he leaned in and moved his lips over hers. She caught her breath and felt like putty in his hands. Martin Taylor could move her like no other man.
His kisses made her understand why so many women could end up throwing caution to the wind and saying ‘yes’ to a man’s touch and kisses. As Martin expertly brought her to a new level of understanding, she knew she would have to be careful.
Alone in a motel or his apartment, she knew it would be ever so easy to find her clothes, along with her morals and good intentions, falling to the floor.
Martin was sure, for now, that he’d convinced Randi that he wasn’t in love with Celia. The smile on her lips as she moved out of his arms was a good sign that all was well. She turned twice to give him a quick look and then was out the door.
She would be getting a motel room so he could rest but after that kiss, rest nor sleep was not what was on his mind. He ran his hand across the back of his neck and tried to wipe the smile from his lips.
“Randi, Randi. What are you going to do to me before this is all said and done?”
“I think the question should be, ‘What are you going to do to her?’”
From Mike’s tone, Martin could tell that a few moments alone had not done much to dissuade his anger. He turned to face his friend. “If I remember correctly, you were the one who suggested I break up with Celia. What’s changed? Do you think I should still be dating her?”
“I don’t know what to think. I can see things from her point of view and I don’t like what I’m seeing. We’ve talked a lot, sadly, about your fling and I just wonder what’s coming down the line for Randi.”
Martin didn’t know if he should drop this or try to convince Mike that he wasn’t the big bad wolf Celia had painted him out to be. Martin took a few steps toward Mike and decided to go another route. “Did you learn anything about her condition?”
Mike, too, seemed ready to move on - at least for now. “Celia is resting. They’ve cleaned her up and bandaged her cuts. Her shoulder is sprained and she also has a fractured right leg. It will need a cast but not surgery. They were vague about her head injury but said someone could see her in thirty to forty-five minutes.”
Martin had no plans of rushing in to see Celia. In his mind, there was no need unless she was awake. He only nodded but did feel some relief.
“The nurse told me about the phone call and that the family has verbally designated you to be informed about what’s going on.” Mike’s anger seemed to be just below the surface again. Not wanting to make eye contact, Mike moved to the coffee pot, poured a cup and walked to the window.
“Yes, her parents set that up. It’s just temporary until they get here. They told the doctor if a signature is needed, I could sign for them.”
“I doubt that would be legally binding but, then again, who knows? This is Hollywood after all. I wouldn’t be shocked if they let you go in and assist.”
Martin didn’t say anything about the last comment. He went over and warmed up his cup of coffee and spoke, “Hopefully it won’t be needed. Her parents have a flight this evening. Did they mention anything about her head injury?”
“Not really. I didn’t talk to a doctor. If it hadn’t been for the nurse seeing us together this morning, I doubt she would have told me anything.”
Martin nodded. He could again see the anger and jealousy Mike was feeling. He would keep ignoring it. “Hopefully she’ll not need anything else until they get here. I don’t feel comfortable being here.”
“You should feel out of place. You really hurt her. The anger she feels toward you, well, I’m not sure she’d even want you here. I know she wouldn’t want Randi here.”
Martin nodded and couldn’t help but smile. “I was pretty sure she was about to slap me that day when I mentioned Randi’s name. Celia can be a spitfire when she wants to be.”
“There’s no love lost between the girls.” Mike turned from the window to face Martin. “You know, I really don’t blame Randi. She had no clue what was going on. When I think back, I can’t believe that I even played a part in any of this.”
“I didn’t plan it. It just happened.”
“Right. But you allowed it to happen. You kept two women under the same roof.”
“Hindsight is something I didn’t have at the time. I was taking one step at a time and trying to figure out what was going on. I thought Randi was playing me,” Martin added.
“Playing you or not, it was wrong.”
“I know that. I knew that. Sometimes you do stupid things when you’re falling in love.”
“You were in a relationship. Didn’t you care how it was going to make Celia feel? Did you know you were breaking her heart?”
Martin had not considered Celia’s feelings and on that point, Mike was right. He had no defense for his actions and said as much. “I did care that I was hurting her. I just didn’t know any way to stop it. I was self-centered. I’ll admit I was only thinking of myself, but in the situation, I did the best I could.”
Mike laughed. “You lied. You cheated. Don’t give me that.”
“I’m not making excuses but I’m not going to hide from reality. Celia brought a lot of this on herself. I tried to get her to call off the party but she wouldn’t. She was setting me up, hoping with both of our families there, I would propose. She even had Christmas cards printed up saying that we were getting married.”
“What did you think she would expect? You start dating her and a few months later, you all but let her pick out that monster of a mansion. Marriage would be the next logical step.”
Martin knew he needed to rein this back in. At this moment, with Celia in a hospital bed, he was not going to get Mike to listen to reason. He took a deep breath tried to clear the anger from his mind and looked at his friend.
“I started everything out wrong with Celia. We moved in with each other before we should have. I never should have let her take such control in picking out the house we were going to move into. I made a lot of mistakes.”
“She told me that. How you gave her this song and dance about a farm and dogs. None of that changes what you did.”
Martin inhaled breathing through his nose trying to calm down his urge to strike out at Mike verbally. “I know you’re upset. I know you have feelings for Celia, but what happened between us, is just that - between us. It has nothing to do with you. I’ll deal with Celia. I know I didn’t do right by her but us fighting over the facts is not going to help anyone.”
Mike paused, took a sip of his coffee and nodded. “Just tell me one thing. Why are you here? What do you want? Are you here because you feel guilty? If not, you should. It embarrassed her having her family know what was going on. She kept saying over and over that you left her for the help.”
Martin knew he should leave but his temper wouldn’t let him. “Sure I feel guilty. I’m human. I know I hurt her. I also know Celia and she’s been laying the groundwork, making this look like I’m the only one at fault. My actions were inexcusable but she was in the relationship, too.”
“Sure. Blame her.”
“I will, for some of it. She did nothing to make our relationship work. She loved my money but hated my career and belittled it every chance she got. She did nothing around the house, never cooked a meal. She didn’t want kids and she doesn’t like my mother. She would never go with me to a cast party or event. I changed my world to try to fit into hers but it didn’t work.”
Martin turned to walk out the door but whirled around for one last comment. “I’m sorry I hurt her but I will never back down from ending the relationship. The only thing I regret is the way it happened. You’re right. It shouldn’t have happened when Randi came along, it should have happened long before that.”
Mike turned and walked back to the window. He knew deep down that Martin was right, but he didn’t have to like it. Was he really going to let Celia ruin a good friendship? Mike walked over, poured another cup of coffee and sat down hoping to clear his mind.
He knew most of what he felt was jealously. He didn’t blame Martin for ending the relationship with Celia but he could see things from her point of view, too. Martin should have been a man about it and ignored Randi until their families were gone. What man couldn’t wait a few days to start fooling around?
Mike raised his cup to his lips and there was a tap on the door. “Come in.” The door opened and a pretty nurse appeared. “Sorry to bother you,” she said, stepping in with a box in her hands. She looked around and Mike could see disappointment on her face. “I was asked to bring this up. It’s some sandwiches. Someone will bring some drinks in a while.”
Mike knew her disappointment was because she was not going to get to meet Martin Taylor but there was no need for him to be rude. As he took the box from her hand, he smiled and said, “I’m sure Martin would want me to thank you.”
This, he thought, brightened her day. She smiled handing over the box. “Do you know him? The girls told me that he’s been ever so polite.”
Mike nodded. “He’s polite but it seems in bad taste to have his new girlfriend here.” Mike knew that he might regret this but his anger allowed him to speak his mind.
The girl stepped in, closed the door and moved closer. “So, it’s true? The girl who was here, she’s the maid?”
Mike nodded, glancing at the girl’s nametag. “Yes, Judy, that’s her.”
Judy smiled. “I read the tabloids but I never thought I’d come face to face with someone in their paper. We’ll I haven’t actually met him, but you know what I mean. I never thought I’d really find out that any of it was true.”
“This time it’s true. They’re dating. I must say that I don’t think Celia would want Martin here. I know she wouldn’t want the new girlfriend around. When she wakes up, she’ll more than likely have both of them thrown out.”
Judy nodded. “She might, if she remembers anything. She took a good hit. I heard the neurologist talking about her case.” The young girl shook her head in pity.
Mike cleared his throat and spoke, “Miss? Judy.”
“Yes, sir. Can I get you something?”
“Maybe. Have you heard something about Celia’s memory? I’m not family but I care about her. I feel guilty. She was driving my vehicle at the time of the accident.”
Judy looked to make sure the door was closed and then considered what she was going to say. “I assume this information will stay here?”
“Of course. I only want to know how serious it is.”
“I understand so please don’t tell where you got your information.”
“I won’t. You have my word.” Mike reached out and rested his hand on Judy’s shoulder. “I only want to know because I care about Celia.”
Judy started back-pedaling a little. “It’s not on her chart but I did hear the doctor discussing her injuries. He said it was possible for short term memory loss but they wouldn’t know until later… that the memory loss could depend on how long she’s unconscious.”
“That doesn’t sound good.”
“No, it doesn’t. I was changing her IV. They were talking about what could happen with this kind of an injury. I’m not an RN or an LPN. Actually, I’m only a CNA so at times it’s like they’ve forgotten I’m in the room.”
“Your title, CNA, sounds impressive.”
Judy smiled. “It’s only a Certified Nurses Assistant. Nothing to brag about, but I’m considering going on to be an RN.”
“I’m sure all positions are needed. And, at any rate, you have to have a giving nature to consider becoming a nurse.”
“I think it’s a calling. Not everyone can work at a hospital.”
“I sure couldn’t. I don’t like seeing people in pain. I wanted to be a veterinarian but instead I went to mechanics school. The only pain I see is when people pay their bills.”
Judy laughed. “Maybe I should have gone that direction. It’s not easy and at times, I’d like to quit but I keep pressing on.” Judy hesitated, glanced at her watch, but then spoke, “Are you dating Ms. Carson? I’m sure if you are you can speak to her family. I get the feeling you’re not too happy with Mr. Taylor and the fact that he’s the one everyone is turning to.”
“He’s my friend but she is too. I just feel that he didn’t do right. I also don’t see that it’s his place to be here. They are not dating and they didn’t part on good terms.”
“I’d say not, if anything I read in the papers is true.”
“Most of it is because some of it came from Celia. She was hurt by the whole sordid mess, and that’s why I know she would not want Martin here.”
Judy crossed her arms. “He seems concerned.”
“He is. Don’t get me wrong, Martin is not heartless but he just doesn’t think things through. A man should not live with a woman and have a fling with the maid!”
Judy shook her head, uncrossed her arms and took two steps toward the door then looked back. “I had no idea that so much of this story was true. You read these kinds of things so many times and learn later that story after story has no basis.”
“Well, this one is true. Martin can deny it all he wants but it won’t help. He made this bed, and whether he likes it or not, he’s going to have to lie in it.”
It took Randi two hours to get a room at a nearby hotel and stock it with supplies. She then dropped by to see her mother and visit the pups. She tapped on the door and Julie answered.
“Hey, what are you doing? I thought you were out of town.”
“I was but I’m back. Did you have fun with the dogs?”
“Sure. I come over after school and help. I’ll sit anytime you need for free.”
“Thanks. If I can ever afford to pay you, I will.”
“That’s okay. I love playing with them.”
“Good, and thanks. Is Mom here?”
Julie nodded and stepped back as Randi came in. “She’s in the kitchen. Tell me, have you seen Martin?”
“Yes, but let’s not tell Mom.”
“Don’t tell Mom what?” came a tired sounding voice from the kitchen. Randi smiled, went to her Mom and hugged her. She seemed too tired to care what the secret was but gave Randi a smile. “Why don’t you go into the backyard and speak to those babies? They’ve been pouting for days.”
“Thanks. I think I’ll do just that.” Julie stayed inside while she went out to spend some time with the pups. About twenty minutes later, she was back in. It seemed the pups had grown and, from the looks of them, they were not missing any meals.
When she returned, Julie was gone. Her mother sat at the table sipping on a glass of iced tea. She looked tired. “There’s a glass for you in the top shelf of the refrigerator.”
Randi walked over, opened the door and noticed the light didn’t come on. She shrugged and sat down reaching her hand out. “What’s wrong? You look tired.”
“I am, but it’s just mental stress. We got the news yesterday of some possible layoffs at the plant. The car started smoking, and as you can see, the refrigerator is on its’ last legs.”
“I noticed the light was out. Is it just the bulb?”
“It’s more than that. It’s starting to make this strange sound and the icemaker isn’t working. It just seems that everything is falling apart all at once.”
“It will get better. I can start paying rent, and if need be, you could start a dog sitting service. You’ve done great with the pups. I think they’ve gained a few pounds.”
Her mom finally smiled. “It’s your dad. He’s spoiled them. I would have never thought he wanted a pet in the house. He’s had the dogs everywhere. Why he even lets them nap with him.”
“Really? That’s good; it will help him with the stress.”
“He’s not worried and he keeps telling me that we’ll get by.”
“And, you will. He’s lost jobs before and landed on his feet.” Randi reached out and placed her hand over her Mom’s. “Are you sure that’s all there is?”
“Not completely. He’s been telling me to stop picking at you for dating that guy. He’s been watching Martin’s movies and looking him up on line. I hate to say it but I think he’s seeing dollar signs and I don’t like that.”
Randi laughed. “Martin does have a few dollar signs after his name. I’m sure Dad’s just looking at this from the non-emotional side of life. He’s thinking that Martin can provide well and he’s not worried that he’ll break my heart like you are.”
Her mother looked up. “Did the two of you break up?”
“No, we’re fine. But I understand your reservations. I didn’t set out to date a movie star. I care for Martin, but I’m not sure it’ll work.”
“You need to take it slow. I would rather have you poor and living above our garage than to have you marry someone like him, or any actor, and end up with your heart broken.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to give you a hard time and I want you to know I’m going into this with a clear thought process. I’m going to have a lot of heart to heart talks with Martin.”
“I guess that’s all I can ask. I can just see how wrapped up in all of this you are. I’m sure his money, along with his handsome features, is very attractive.”
“He is a cutie, but it’s more. I haven’t ever told you how we met. It’s not something I’m proud of but then I didn’t really know what was going on for a while. You might as well know the whole story.”
“I’m not sure I want to know.” Her mother leaned back taking a long sip of her tea.
“It wasn’t Martin’s money that attracted me. Do you remember the story you told me about how you met dad? How he was the carryout boy who helped your mother to the car? That there was just something about him that you liked?”
“Of course. I remember those days like it was yesterday.”
“Well… it was that way with Martin. The day he came to pick me up, he was driving this old pick up truck. I thought he was Martin’s driver who was there to pick me up. He was so cute and we hit it off. I didn’t know he had a dime to his name.”
“Why was he picking you up if he’s a millionaire?”
“First, I doubt if he’s that rich but I assume he has a nice bank account. We’ve only joked about it. The reason he came is a long story and before you start yelling, hear me out. It’s not as bad as it sounds.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.”
Randi nodded, took a drink of tea and began to tell her story. She wasn’t sure if some day she’d be telling this same story to her own children but, for now, she was going to enjoy sharing it, even if her mother thought she was crazy…
We are editing as fast as we can