Friday night, they were at Sateria’s penthouse going over the plan for the stakeout.
“I really wish Apollo could come with us,” Jayden said.
Sateria shook her head. “Apollo has some very important meetings that he has to attend, so he can’t come.”
“Oh come on Sateria, let the man off the hook.”
“The meetings are gonna put more money in our pockets, so no.”
“Are you sure that’s the only reason?” Jayden grinned deviously.
“Of course. He’s the head of Sales and Marketing. It’s his job to make sure the deals get closed properly, right?”
Jayden nodded. “I suppose so.”
“Well then, he can’t go,” Sateria said, making sure everyone understood. “Now, as far as the office is concerned, we are going to a conference.”
“That’s what Johnny used to tell everyone,” Troya chimed in.
Just then the doorman buzzed her penthouse. Sateria sauntered to the squawk box.
“Yes, Jensen, what is it?”
“Mr. Leonard is down here wanting to speak with you ma’am.”
Sateria hesitated for a minute as her entire body was set on fire just knowing he wanted to see her. She turned to her team, and they all nodded.
She sighed. “Let him up, Jensen.”
Sateria ran to her bedroom and shut the door.
Pheonix looked at Jayden. “What’s been going on with those two lately?
“I’m willing to bet they did the deed.” Jayden said.
Troya shook her head. “I don’t think so. You all know how Apollo is about office relationships.”
Jayden grinned with delight. “Well something is going on, and personally, I’m glad we’re here to see it.”
The door bell rang and they waited on Sateria to come out of the room. She didn’t. Troya got up and opened the door.
“Hey Apollo,” she said.
He looked in the living room to see Sateria was not there. “Where is she?”
“She’s in her room.”
Clearly angry, Apollo stormed through the living room without saying hello to anyone and continued down the hall. He didn’t knock, just walked right in.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” He asked loudly, slamming the door behind him.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, startled jumping off the bed.
“I’m here to save your life! There is no way in hell I’m gonna let you go off and do something so crazy, and me not be there! Are you out of your mind?”
He spoke loud enough for everyone who waited in the living room to hear. Sateria looked into his eyes and stood her ground.
“No, I’m not!” she shouted back. “I’m tired of you trying to tell me what to do, Apollo! I will do what I want when I want to do it! You are not my keeper!”
“Sateria, what you plan on doing is dangerous!”
“I know that, but I’m ready! And how in the hell do you know, what I’ve planned, and why do you even care? You don’t give a damn about me! It’s all about you! It’s always about you!” She yelled, balling her fists.
Apollo closed his eyes and sighed heavily. He had to calm down enough to stop yelling at her. “So what I said to you the other day didn’t mean anything? I poured my heart out telling you that I cared about you, and you’re just gonna ignore it?”
Sateria quickly turned her back to him and remembered that his words made her cry. “I’m not a child, Apollo, nor am I some fucking china doll. You can’t keep me locked up. Johnny was always very attentive. He gave me everything I asked for even when I really didn’t want it. If he wasn’t out of town, he spent most of his free time with me. I had no idea of what he did until he died, and now I know why he kept me so close. But no more, Apollo. I have to be free.”
“Free to do what? Run all over the country and put yourself in danger? Because if that’s the case, you are not doing it without me.”
Sateria was determined not to give in, though she wanted him to wrap his big strong arms around her and kiss her.
“You have things to take care of next week for the company. Let that be your first priority,” she said quietly.
“Really? I can’t believe you are just gonna push me away.”
Fire erupted in her feet and propelled her around rapidly. She had begun to cry. “Why not?” she yelled. “You did it to me!”
Her words slammed against his body as if she were a runaway car. He did. He did push her away. He saw the hurt in her eyes, and couldn’t deal with it. He still didn’t know how do deal with it.
“Ugh!” he exclaimed, opened her room door, and stormed back down the hall. He stopped in the living room and pointed at Jayden. “I want you to call me tomorrow, Jayden. Don’t let me have to hunt you down.” Apollo stormed out of the door, slamming it behind him.
Pheonix cringed. “Yikes.”
Grinning widely, Jayden said, “Well, now we know.”
“You just better be sure you call him, Jayden,” Pheonix said. “You know what he’s like when he gets this mad. He’s liable to rip your head off if you don’t.”
“Yeah I know,” Jayden said with a chuckle. “I’ll call him.”
They sat for a moment and waited for Sateria to come out of her room. Moments later she appeared, with her arms wrapped around her. “I think we should try this again tomorrow guys. I’m not feeling up to it right now.”
Troya looked up at Sateria, “You want one of us to stay?”
Sateria shook her head. “No. I’ll be fine.”
Her three guests got up and quietly left her house, leaving her where she quietly stood.
The following morning, Apollo’s phone rang. He rolled over, and picked it up. Through his sleepy haze he saw that it was Jayden.
“Hello?” Apollo answered.
“Wake up lover boy! I’m calling!” Jayden said, quite loudly and in an overwhelmingly chipper tone.
“What time is it?”
“Ugh. Okay. Meet me downstairs in an hour. We’ll go grab some breakfast and chat.”
Jayden laughed. “Breakfast? You mean lunch right?”
“Yeah man, whatever. Just be here in an hour.”
An hour later, Apollo was waiting in the lobby for Jayden. Ten minutes later, Jayden walked in.
“You’re late.” Apollo looked at his watch.
“Oh for Pete’s sake Apollo. Its ten minutes. Where are we eating?”
Jayden viciously shook his head. “Oh no. My body is a temple, remember?”
“So don’t eat, but we have to talk.”
The two of them made their way to the nearby McDonalds. Once Apollo had his food, they sat down in the farthest corner, away from prying ears.
“So what’s up?”
“What is Sateria’s plan?”
Jayden chuckled. “Sateria. She has no plan so to speak. I mean as of yet anyway. Next week we’re only going to stakeout the location. As far as the actual hit? We haven’t planned anything yet.”
“Good. I’m gonna go home and work something out. The plan after the stakeout will be my plan, you got it?”
“Yeah, sure. But since she won’t let you leave the office, what’s the point?”
“None of you are gonna die on me because she’s being pigheaded. She has no idea how dangerous this is, and I’m not gonna let her put your lives in danger because she’s trying to prove a point.”
“I’m not that stupid, Apollo. I wouldn’t let her lead if I saw some real danger.”
“I know that, and so does she. However. I’ll feel a lot better if you let me plan the job.”
Jayden sat back in the booth, tilted his head, and smirked. “So. It’s just me and you. Why don’t you go ahead and fess up. I saw it long ago, and after last night, I’m almost certain I was right.”
“Right about what?” Apollo chewed a bite of his sandwich.
“You slept with her. And don’t try to deny it. Resistance is futile old friend.”
Apollo sighed. “Okay yes. But before I go on and spill my guts, you have to tell me something.”
“Do you still think she killed Johnny?”
Jayden shook his head. “No. But, now I suffer with my normal trust issues. To me, she’s no different than when Troya joined us.”
“Glad to hear that. Because believe me, Jayden, she doesn’t have either the skill or heart to do what we previously accused her of.”
The corner of Jayden’s mouth rose, forming a half smile. “Oh really? Do tell.”
Apollo took another bite of his sandwich. “Do not tell anyone what I’m about to tell you or I’ll force a slice of pizza in your mouth and make you swallow.”
“Okay, okay. Please don’t threaten me with food poisoning. Go on.”
“Well, I took her to the range a couple weeks ago. I mean she does okay, but no where near our level. If she had to stop someone with a bullet, she could do it, but she couldn’t kill them. You know what I mean?”
“So her aim is still shitty.”
Apollo chuckled. “Yes, her aim is still shitty. But while we were there, I put my arms around her to show her how she needed to breathe when she pulled the trigger. I damn near lost my mind. She fit right in between my arms, and her hair smelled wonderful. She did what I told her to do as far as pulling the trigger, and the next thing I knew, we were kissing.
“I tried to tell her that we shouldn’t, but she ignored me. And well…”
“You ended up sleeping with her.”
Apollo nodded. “I did.”
“I knew it. No wonder the both of you have been acting so weird.”
“I guess you could call it that. I don’t want her to do this without me there. That’s why I want to give you the plan. She insists that I stay in Chicago and get some real work done, so I’m gonna do it. But at least if I plan the hit, I know you will follow it to the letter.”
Jayden stared at his friend for a long time before he spoke. “You’re in love with her.”
Apollo shook his head. “Mmm.”
“No, you’re in love with her, and you wanna keep her safe. I understand that, Apollo. Believe me I do. But Sateria is not Kalista. You can’t move through life thinking that every woman you fall in love with is gonna die, because the odds of that is well, ridiculous. Okay fine. I’ll help you. I still have my normal trust issues, but I’ll help you.”
Apollo shoved the last bit of his sandwich in his mouth. “Thanks.” He wiped his mouth with his napkin.
Watching his friend finish the last of his Big Mac, Jayden sneered. “Let’s go to the gym.”
“Oh hell yeah. After watching you shove a half a day’s calories and sodium in your face in one sitting just made me sick. Let’s go get your stuff. I have my gym bag in the car. I’m not gonna let you die from a heart attack. A bullet maybe. Death by cheeseburger? Never.”
Apollo chuckled. They got up from the table and went to the gym.
After two hours in the gym, they stopped so Jayden could get some food, and they went back to Apollo’s hotel room.
“This is nice.” Jayden looked around the room.
“Yeah, but it’s not my house. Let’s not talk about it okay? Have a seat.”
Jayden nodded. “Okay.”
“So, you’re going to stakeout the store that I told Pheonix about?”
“Yeah, but why Michigan City?”
“Cause its close, small, and it’s tourist season. Way more people in town than the cops are accustomed to. Did you all talk about that last night?”
Jayden chuckled. “Are you serious? We didn’t get a chance to get started. Someone interrupted us.”
Shrugging. “Sorry about that. I’m still pissed that she wants to do this, and she has no real idea of what she’s getting herself into.
“But she might be good at it, Apollo. We don’t know that. For all we know she might be a genius.”
“Um let’s not talk about Sateria. That’s not why you’re here.”
Jayden chuckled again. “Okay, Okay. I’m sorry.”
“So you didn’t talk about anything?”
“Well, in the meeting you missed, we went over the fine points of a stakeout with her. She seemed to understand for the most part, and she seemed quite excited about it.”
“You didn’t tell her that the hours it takes to get all the facts were long and boring did you?”
“Troya did. But she didn’t seem to mind. It’s almost like she were doing this to prove something to Johnny. It was weird.”
Apollo sat quietly in thought as Jayden continued eating. He got up and looked out of his window. His thoughts drifted to his dead friend. He missed Johnny. He knew everyone else did as well. This would be the first hit that they’d done since he passed, so it had to be perfect. Perhaps Sateria was doing this to prove something to Johnny. Maybe after this, she would forget about being a thief, and just be the president of her company.
Sateria didn’t belong in the underworld. But she seems to fit in the corporate one just fine. He couldn’t date her if he worked with her. There was no way that was gonna happen. But something had to give. He knew he’d eventually figure it out.
“Apollo? Is there something wrong?” Jayden asked finishing up his meal.
“I was just thinking about Johnny. But never mind that. When you get back from the stakeout, I want every little detail from all of you. Do not leave anything out. This is a small town and the cops tend to shoot first and ask questions never, so we have to plan right down to the last second. Understand?”
“Gotcha. So tell me about the store.”
Early Monday morning before he went to work, Apollo decided that he would try to apologize to Sateria again. As much as he would like to hear her voice, he decided against a phone call. He wanted to try and convince her to change her mind, but he knew it was futile. So instead of the phone call he sent her a text message.
He pressed the send button and went to get in the shower. When he got out, he dried himself off, wrapped a towel around his waist, and went straight for his phone. He hoped that she responded. He was heartbroken that she didn’t.
He reached in the closet and pulled out his navy, three-piece, window pane suit and his light blue shirt. He dressed, and went to work.
When he walked through the glass doors, Donna greeted him with her usual morning smile. “Good morning, Mr. Leonard.”
“Good morning, Donna. Please hold all my calls unless it’s from Miss Murphy. Tell everyone else I can be contacted by email.”
“Thank you, Donna.” Apollo went into his office and closed the door.
Sateria received Apollo’s text as she was getting out of the shower herself. She wasn’t even aware that he sent one at the time. She had overslept and was rushing around her penthouse in order to finish getting ready for her week long trip. On her way out, she picked up her phone and saw the message. She looked at her watch and noticed that it was too late to call. Apollo was already in his morning meeting.
They arrived in Michigan City via train. Their plan, to stakeout the location on foot. Seeing as the store was so close to their hotel, it was easier than renting vehicles. Stakeout was easy. They could use real ID, and pretend to be Chi-town visitors who just tired of the city for a while.
They checked into the hotel, a whole minute walk away from their target. Jayden looked at the three women and gave the first order.
“Let’s go for a walk.”
The four of them walked up, down and around the block, just getting a feel of the neighborhood. Making sure that they made note of the vehicles in the area. They didn’t want to rent vehicles that stood out. The people seemed to be happy as they went on their way. They shopped, ate, and smiled.
The day ended as the sun went down. The four went back to the hotel, showered and met up to compare notes.
“The folks seem nice enough. Friendly.” Sateria chimed.
Jayden shook his head. “And so are we. Don’t trust anyone. For all we know we may not be the only ones in town trying to rob a store.”
Sateria nodded. “Right.”
“Another day of hands off, tomorrow. Then we go in.”
The three women nodded and waited on the next day. They watched the store for another day and discovered that there were only two employees that worked there. One the owner, who had the day shift and another at night.
The following day, Jayden and Pheonix entered the store first, holding hands.
Frank King, owner and founder, sat behind his jewelry counter watching television when someone came into his store. He turned to see the seemingly happy couple.
“Hello, young people.” He gave them a huge grin, hoping to make a sale.
Jayden, the one who oozed charm, led the conversation. “Hello,” he smiled. “I’m in love with this beautiful woman, and I have asked her to marry me. I need the perfect engagement ring. Can you help us?”
Frank looked at Pheonix. “Certainly. The lady only needs to tell me her taste,” Frank smiled.”
Pheonix grinned. “Large and expensive.”
Frank, in business for many years, helped many young couples who looked to get married. He was more than happy to point out what he had. “Well,” he smiled. “I have many styles. The round being our most popular style…”
As Jayden and Pheonix held Franks attention, Troya entered the store, followed by Sateria. Troya scoped the store for surveillance equipment, and Sateria pretended to be another customer.
Realizing that that particular day he might actually make some money, he called his son from the back.
“Excuse me for a minute.” Frank turned his attention away from Jayden and Pheonix for a moment. “Arthur, can you come out here please?”
Arthur answered. “In a minute, dad!
“Get out here! We’re busy!”
Arthur, the tall and handsome son of the store owner, emerged from the back room. “Yes, what is it?”
Pointing in Sateria’s direction, “That young lady looks like she could use some help.”
Arthur nodded, and proceeded to help Sateria. Her role was the indecisive customer. When Pheonix decided on a ring, Troya left the store not long after them. Sateria stayed in the store three minutes after Troya, and as planned, all met up in the hotel to compare notes.
Pheonix shook her head. “Poor man. I almost don’t want to rob him.”
“There are some really pretty pieces there,” Sateria said.
“I agree,” Jayden said. “This will be easy. We just have to hit minutes before they lock up for the night.”
“So we take everything?” Sateria asked.
Jayden nodded. “We take it all.”
That night Apollo was sitting in his room, worried about Sateria. He knew she must still be angry with him, and he tried to give her time to cool off. He couldn’t take anymore. He sent her another text message.
Sateria, sitting in her room watching television, reached over on the table and grabbed her phone. She was still not ready to give in. She had to see this through to the end. She replied to his text message.
How did the meetings go?
Apollo sighed. Not the response he was looking for, at least she was talking to him.
They went well.
Sateria, please be careful.
Sateria read the message and didn’t reply. She put her phone back on the nightstand, turned off the television and went to bed.
Apollo waited on her response. When he realized she wasn’t going to, he poured himself a drink, turned on the television, and struggled with his feelings.