Monday morning, Jayden went to see Apollo in his office. He stepped in and closed the door.
“How’d it go?” Apollo asked.
“Went pretty good, actually. The store is gonna be a piece of cake. Getting out of town may be a bit rough.”
“Give me what you got.”
Jayden gave Apollo all of the details of their stakeout.
“Thanks, Jayden. When are you planning on going back?”
“Okay I’ll have something for you before then. And don’t tell Sateria that I planned this, or she will probably do something to screw it up.”
Jayden smiled. “Have you seen her yet this morning?”
Apollo shook his head. “No.”
“She looks pretty good sitting in her new office. Why don’t you go see her?”
Apollo shook his head. “Nah. She’s still mad at me.”
“How do you know?”
“I sent her a couple text messages while you were out of town, and she didn’t reply.”
“What did you say?”
“I told her to be careful.”
“Perhaps that’s not what she wanted to hear.”
“I just wanted her to be careful.”
“She was fine. Maybe you ought to go down the hall and tell her what she’s probably been waiting to hear.”
“I’m not going anywhere near her. She’ll call me Mr. Leonard, and get all professional on me. And you know I can’t stand that shit.”
Jayden chuckled. “You started that shit with your, no office romance policy.”
“Well, I’m still not gonna talk to her here if I don’t have too.”
“Your choice,” Jayden said shrugging. “Look I have to make some phone calls so I’ll talk to you later.”
Apollo nodded. “All right.”
It didn’t take Apollo long to realize that Jayden was right. Angry at himself for letting his memories get in the way, he got up from his desk and stormed down the hall. When he got to Sateria’s office, he closed the door behind him.
His scent filled the air as she was busy typing at her computer. Afraid to look up knowing that his handsome face was not going to allow her to concentrate. She looked up, but didn’t look into his eyes. “Can I help you with something?”
“Why didn’t you answer my messages?” he said angrily.
“I did answer.”
“No, you didn’t. You asked me about work.”
Sateria tipped her head to one side. “So, did you come in here to try to start a fight? Because if that’s what you want, you can just get out.”
Apollo moved quickly behind her desk and pulled her up from her chair. Not even giving her a chance to say anything, he kissed her. Sateria wrestled free.
“What in the hell are you doing?”
“This is what you want right?”
“Apollo Leonard, I want more from you than sex. I want you. All of you, all the time. You don’t seem like you can give me that so why don’t you just leave me alone?”
“I can’t give you all of me, all of the time.”
“Damn it Sateria, I have already told you why.”
“And I already told you, that you can’t keep me locked up in some cabinet like a doll. But that’s what you want. You don’t want me to work. You don’t want me to do anything. You want me to sit at home and wait on you like some happy fucking housewife. I suppose you want me barefoot and pregnant too. Not happening, Apollo. So if you can’t accept me for who I am, you can leave me alone.”
Apollo squinted. “Fine. I quit!” Apollo snapped and stormed out of Sateria’s office and back to his own. He grabbed his briefcase and phone, and didn’t look back.
She stood in her office where he left her with her mouth agape. She couldn’t believe that he was gone.
Apollo went to the range and fired off a few hundred rounds to calm down. When he finished, he got in his car and checked his messages. He had three text messages. None of them from Sateria. He sighed, and called Pheonix to tell her what happened.
“Apollo, you can’t just quit your job. You’re an officer of the company.”
“I refuse to work for that crazy woman. I’m gonna help plan this hit, and I’m gonna find another job.”
“When you calm down you can come back. You will come back won’t you?”
He sighed heavily. “I don’t know, Pheonix. I have some personal stuff to work through right now.”
“Well in case you’re wondering, after you left, she sent out an email and told everyone you were suspended. She doesn’t want you to quit, Apollo. None of us do.”
“I’ll think about it. Look I gotta go. If you need anything, I’ll be at home.”
Apollo pulled out of the parking lot and made his way home. When he got to his hotel room, he put his keys down and looked around the room. He was tired. He didn’t want to live in a hotel room anymore. Though it was quite nice, he wanted his penthouse back. Ready to get back in his house as quick as possible, he called the insurance company to find out the status of his claim. They didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear.
He sighed, poured a drink, and started to search for a new place.
Jayden called Brad. “I’m going to put three pieces up this time. They will be up on the exchange tomorrow. Make sure you get them.”
“I will. Jayden, how much longer is this gonna be? I mean, this is stolen property.”
Jayden laughed aloud. “You didn’t know? I thought you knew. Half of the stuff you bought from Johnny was stolen. Why do you think he sold it to you for less than it is worth? He had to move it. He kept the most beautiful pieces for himself, and now they belong to me.
“But to answer your question, not long. That’s why I’m putting more up this time. I’m going out of town this weekend, and again you can’t contact me. Hold on to them until I get back. I’ll send one of my guys to pick up all four pieces, and then we can continue.”
Sateria sat in the great room watching television when her phone rang. Secretly hoping it was Apollo calling to tell her how much he loved her, it wasn’t. To her surprise, it was her old friend, Kyra.
“Hey,” Kyra said. “Before you hang up on me, I just called to say I’m sorry, and congratulations. I saw in the paper that you officially took over at AJG.”
Happy to hear her Kyra’s voice, Sateria replied, “Thank you. Hey, you wanna get some dinner?”
“On whether you’re gonna tell me how to spend my money.”
Sateria chuckled. “I won’t, and I’m sorry too. I just wanna see you. My life is a bit crazy right now, and I wanna talk to you about some things.”
“Umm no. I don’t feel like dressing up. Can we go somewhere else?”
Sateria looked at her watch. “Well, we can go to the Grand.”
Kyra grinned. “Okay. I’ll see you there in thirty minutes?”
Thirty minutes later, Sateria and Kyra met at the front doors and went in together. Greeted joyfully by several of their old friends. All of them aware that both Sateria and Kyra came into money, and that’s why they quit. No one was aware that Sateria owned the restaurant, which was a good thing. They sat, and ordered their food.
“It’s so good to see you. You look good,” Kyra said.
Sateria smirked. “Well I don’t feel good.”
“What’s the matter?” Kyra asked, genuinely concerned.
Sateria paused for a long time. “I’m in love again.”
Kyra’s eyes grew wide and her mouth fell open in surprise. “Awesome! I’m so happy for you! Any plans for a wedding?”
Sateria looked at Kyra seriously and shook her head. “No. I think I screwed up. You know how blind men can be sometimes, I’ve given him all the clues I could without saying it, but he keeps pushing me away.”
“So maybe you need to say it.”
Sateria shook her head. “I can’t. He works for me. Or he did anyway. He quit today. He has some crazy idea that office relationships keep the work from happening. So even if I did tell him how I felt, he still won’t be with me.”
“But he doesn’t work there anymore. Now’s your chance.”
“No. I want him back at work. I need him back at work. He’s the head of my Sales and Marketing department.”
Kyra smirked. “Sounds like you can’t make up your mind what you want.”
“Hence my dilemma.”
“Well, shit Sateria, figure it out. What happened?”
“Today I said some ugly things to him, and I think that’s why he quit.”
“Well maybe not. Maybe he quit so he could be with you.”
“Maybe,” Sateria shrugged. “But that still leaves me without someone to do the work.”
Kyra rolled her eyes, “Ugh! Girlfriend look. Tell the man how you feel. I mean look at you. You’re a beautiful billionaire with a heart of gold. You’re smart and caring. If you tell him how you feel, there is no way he’ll be able to resist you. You can worry about the work aspect after that. But get over this little hump first. Maybe he just needs a little push.”
“Okay. Thanks, Kyra.”
“You’re welcome. So what else has been going on in your life?”
They sat and talked about what had been going on since they last saw each other. Sateria was pleased to find out that Kyra took her advice and invested some money in the stock market. She also learned that Kyra was dating her broker, but nothing seriously.
“I hope it works out for you,” Sateria said.
“Me too. He’s so sweet.”
They finished their dinner and said their goodbyes. Sateria went home to her very large penthouse and stood in the living room. She thought of all the space. Four bedrooms was a lot.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to be a wife and mom. She thought. She went to her bedroom laid down and fell asleep.
Apollo woke the next morning and immediately looked at his phone to see if there were any messages from Sateria. Nothing. He sighed and dialed Jayden’s number.
“Hey. I need you to come on over here so we can get started on this.”
“All right, but I can’t stay long. Sateria is as grumpy as ever. She’s quickly becoming a micro manager. Now she wants to see all of our schedules.”
“Fine. Come over after work then. What I have rolling around in my head is gonna require that Miss Murphy gain a false ID or two. I’m gonna get in touch with Bobby and have him get going on her background.”
“Apollo, why don’t you just tell the woman how you feel?”
“I didn’t call you to talk about her,” Apollo snapped. “I called to talk about the hit. And if you insist on talking about Sateria, you are on your own.”
“Okay, okay. I’m sorry. Just thought I would try and help you out.”
“I understand that. But since she insists on putting her life in danger, I’m gonna let her do it. Shit, she won’t listen to me, you, or anyone else. She’s still trying to please a dead man, and we can’t talk her out of it. So go into her office, take her picture with your phone, and email it to me so I can get started.”
“See you tonight.”
Apollo hung up the phone and immediately made the necessary phone calls to get everything in place. He called the Black Chip hotel in Michigan City and made reservations for his team. He called and rented two cars, in advance. He called one of the Michigan City limousine companies and reserved a limo for the entire weekend, though he knew he wouldn’t need it.
He called other cities to arrange for rental cars to be available for each one of his team members in each city.
This was above and beyond what he would normally do for a simple store hit, but he had to be sure that Sateria was safe. He had to be sure that she was going to come back to him.
Armed with the plan, and all necessary paperwork, Friday evening the team boarded the 6:05pm train headed for Michigan City. Upon arrival, they parted. Sateria got into the limo that waited to take her to the Black Chip. Jayden walked off the platform and started the twenty-five minute walk to the hotel. Pheonix and Troya got into a cab and headed for the Black Chip as well.
Sateria arrived first. She looked every bit as wealthy as she was when she approached the front desk. Smiling and shaking her hair from her face, she presented her ID to the tall handsome desk clerk.
“Welcome to the Black Chip, Miss Greene. Your suite is ready,” he said with a smile.
“Thank you. I’m looking forward to my stay.”
He sent her in the direction of the elevators. She went to her room and waited.
Pheonix and Troya were not far behind. The same clerk that waited on Sateria waited on them. They presented their false identification and went to their room one floor down from Sateria’s.
They only had to wait on Jayden. Jayden made it to the hotel, dropped his bag on the floor, and immediately sent a group text message.
“I’m here. Room 467. Come on down.”
The three women entered his room and closed the door.
“Tomorrow we do one final stakeout to ensure nothing has changed. We’ll split up the day. Pheonix and Troya on the dayshift, me, and Sateria after dark. Depending on what info we gather, will determine if we alter the plan at all. I don’t see that happening, but we have to be ready for anything.”
They all nodded in agreement, went back to their rooms, and waited for the next day.
Pheonix and Troya headed out not long before the store opened. They learned that the owner was on his own for most of the day. This hadn’t changed. They witnessed the same thing the week prior.
Around three, his son came into the store, and two hours later the owner left leaving his son to man the store alone. Customers came and went throughout the day, but there weren’t very many. Knowing it was his job to protect the team, and keep innocents unharmed, Jayden was happy about this.
“We move tomorrow night,” Jayden said.
“But what if something changes?” Sateria asked.
“Everything is in place for tomorrow night. If something changes, we just have to move ahead regardless. If this one fails, we’ll come back some other time and try again. But we have to hit and be out of town as planned, understand?”
Sateria, nervous, nodded.
The following night:
“I’m getting ready to head out,” Jayden began. “Sateria, at eight twenty, you are to get into the limo, go to the store. Once you get there, immediately put on your night gear, and wait inside the limo for me to get there. Stay in the car until you see me. Pheonix and Troya, leave after Sateria, park in the alley behind the store, leaving room for the limo to get by, change into your gear, and wait. Sateria will signal you when it is time to come in, got it?”
The two sisters nodded and Jayden left the hotel on foot.
Sateria exits the hotel with an empty rolling carry on suitcase and gets into the limousine. The car pulls off and heads in the direction of the store. Two minutes later, the Smith sisters were in one of the cars they rented, and they also headed toward the store. All cars in place, everyone pulled on the dark clothing over their other clothes and waited for the signal. Sateria sat with her hat on her head waiting for Jayden to pass by the store. She was nervous and hoped she could pull this off.
Jayden passes in front of the store dressed in his black jeans, black t-shirt, and black skull cap on his head. The only way Sateria knew it was him is his blond hair sat on his shoulders. She took a deep breath and exited the limo. Her weapon at her side she crossed the street. As she left the car, it pulled off. She watched the car leave, and wondered if she was really ready. Too late now, she thought, and moved forward.
Sateria burst in the store, startling poor Arthur, pointing her weapon at him. Moments later, Jayden came through the front door, weapon also pointed at Arthur, motioned for him to move from the front of the store. Arthur complied. Sateria moved to the back door to signal the others.
With Arthur now hidden from view, Jayden demanded the keys. Afraid for his life, Arthur handed over the keys to the display cases.
Pheonix, Troya, and Sateria moved past Jayden. He tossed the keys to Pheonix, and the women moved back to the front of the store. In the meantime, Jayden tied Arthur up and held him there while the women cleaned out the cases.
With all the jewelry they could carry in hand, they passed Jayden still holding Arthur at gunpoint. As the last woman passed, Jayden followed them out of the back door. They all got into the limo, and it sped away. As the car moved along, they took off their night gear on the way back to the hotel.
The limo pulled up to the hotel and stopped to let its passengers out. Sateria was the last to leave the car. Her carry on bag loaded with the goods from the crime she just helped commit. She went to her room, put cargo into the room safe, and waited on the rest of her team to come to her room.
Jayden, Pheonix, and Troya showed up at Sateria’s door. They grinned as they heard the many police sirens in the distance.
“Very nice girls. Johnny would have been proud,” Jayden said with a grin. “However, we still have to get outta here. Pheonix, Troya, go get some sleep. I’m gonna stay with Sateria for a while. We leave first thing in the morning.”
The sisters left without words, adrenaline still propelling them forward. They didn’t think that they were going to be able to sleep.
The limo driver pulls up and parks the car in its designated spot back at the yard. He gets out of the car and makes his way to his next destination. By the time he arrived, anything that would’ve identified him as a chauffeur was gone.
He walked through the lobby, made his way to the top floor, and knocked on Sateria’s room door. Jayden peeked out the peephole and saw that it was safe to open the door. “Okay Sateria. I’m gonna leave you now. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Too late. He was gone. As she stood to try and stop him, the door closed, and to her surprise there he was. Apollo in all his glory stood in front of her.
As he gazed at her, her heart was thumping loudly in her chest. She couldn’t believe he was there, she could have sworn she told him to stay in Chicago. Yet, she was glad to see him. “What are you doing here?”
“If you thought for one second that I was gonna let you attempt something so dangerous without me here, you were definitely out of your mind. I already told you that I don’t want you doing this.”
“But how did you know? I mean you weren’t in on the plan.”
“I personally designed this plan, Sateria. The only one who didn’t know I was gonna be here was you. I did that on purpose. Yes, your team deceived you, but it’s because I asked them too.”
“But when did you get here?”
“I got here before you arrived. I was your limo driver from here to the hit and back.” Apollo started to move closer to her. “I had to be sure that nothing was gonna happen to you. I was going crazy the few minutes that you were in the store.” Apollo reached up and gently rubbed her arms. “I had to be here to be sure that you were safe. I had to stay close to ensure you would come back to me. We are a long way from you being completely safe, but I couldn’t trust Jayden to bring you back. I had to be here.”
“Apollo,” she began, “I don’t understand.”
He pulled her close, inhaled deeply, and squeezed her tight. “I love you, Sateria. I love you so much; I’d die if something happened to you.” He pulled away slightly and gazed into her eyes. “Please forgive me. I’ve been a pig.”
Tears welling up in her eyes, she smiled slightly. “I love you too, Apollo.”
Their lips locked in their tight embrace, and they shared a night of lovemaking like no other.
Sateria rolled over in bed to see if he was still there. He was. Wide awake, up on his elbow, his head resting in his hand he stared at her. She smiled, glad to see him.
“Good morning,” she said.
Apollo smiled back. “Good morning. Wanna take a shower?”
She grinned. “Okay.”
They got out of bed and got into the shower. Not much bathing went on as the hot water beat upon their bodies. They stayed in the shower until they realized that the time was getting away from them.
Apollo stepped out of the tub first, helping Sateria out. He kissed her deeply to let her know that he meant what he said to her the night before.
Dressed and ready to go, they went down to the lobby and checked out. Jayden hopped in the other rental and headed back to Chicago. Pheonix and Troya took a cab to the small airport, Sateria and Apollo rode in the limo.
The corporate jet sat waiting for them. “Where are we going?” Sateria asked. This was a part of the plan she was unaware of.
“We are going to drop Pheonix and Troya off, and they will make their own way back home. Then we are going to spend the night in Pittsburgh before heading back to Chicago ourselves.”
“What are we going to do there?”
He smiled at her. “Anything you want.”
AJG’s corporate jet took off heading for Indianapolis. Fifty-five minutes later, the plane landed, and Troya got off. “Be careful,” she said making her way into the terminal. She made her way to the rental booth.
“Hello, my name is Delilah Rosenthal. I’m here to pick up my car.”
The clerk processed her paperwork, and handed her the key. “Welcome to Indianapolis, Miss Rosenthal. Please enjoy your stay.”
Troya grinned. “I will thank you.”
Troya got into her car and started the three and a half hour drive back to Chicago, making sure not to go through Michigan City.
The jet took off again, this time headed for Detroit. One hour and fifteen minutes later, they landed. Pheonix did the same as Troya. “See you both back home.”
Her trip back was going to take a lot longer. Six hours. She dreaded it, but looked forward to seeing her man when she got home. Pulling off any robbery, kept her inflections really high and the only one who could satisfy her fully was her Max.
There was a short layover while the plane refueled. Finally having Sateria to himself, Apollo was happy. He reached down grabbed her hand, looked into her eyes and smiled. Then he leaned in and kissed her gently on the lips.
An hour later, they landed in Pittsburgh, and Sateria was glad. She’d never taken off and landed so much in her life in one day. If this is what she was going to have to get used to doing, she might just give up becoming the great thief Johnny thought she could be.
They disembarked and got into the waiting limo.
“Are you hungry?” Apollo asked.
“A bit. But let’s go to the room first. I need to shower.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. Then you can treat me to lunch.”
“You got it babe.”
They made there way to their room, and it was there that Sateria noticed one of the bags was missing. She immediately began to panic.
“Apollo, one of the bags is missing.”
“One of yours?”
“Yes, you know the one. The one with the very expensive contents.”
Apollo smiled. “Relax. Pheonix has it.”
“Whew,” she sighed. “Okay, I’m gonna take a shower. Are you going to want one?”
“No, I’m fine. I am hungry though so hurry up.”
Once they were finished eating, they left the restaurant not knowing where they were going, but Sateria knew what she wanted to do. Shop. She dragged Apollo from store to store, purchasing new shoes, clothes for work, and clothes for play.
They stayed out for hours just doing what she wanted to do. Apollo, tired, didn’t complain once. It pleased him to see her get excited about something that she liked.
By the time she was finished, she’d spent a huge amount of money, and Apollo had to help her carry the many bags she acquired throughout the day.
She paid for her last purchase, and he stood quite close to her as she did. Feeling the heat from her body and the smell of her hair did things for him. Wonderful things. He was glad that he finally told her how he felt.
When they left the store, he leaned in and gave her a chaste kiss. Then she asked the question he immediately couldn’t answer.
“Why is it that I love you, and I don’t know anything about you really?”
Apollo sighed. “I could say the same about you. What do you say we go fix that?”Sateria grinned and they went back to the hotel.